December 29, 2010

Get Clean with Bath and Body Works

I'm a sucker for beauty products, especially those that smell amazing and can be found at the local mall. For this reason, I love me some Bath and Body Works. Despite my love for the place, I usually only shop there twice a year, during their semi-annual sales.

The Bath and Body Works Semi-Annual Sale is no joke. The products sell for 50%-75% off and they often offer discontinued scents for way less than you would normally see (if you ever come across anything in Pear Blossom, buy as much as you can, you won't be disappointed). In addition to the great prices, the sales occur during the winter  and summer, when I am conveniently home for break from school.  A couple days ago, I accompanied my mom to the store to stock up on the soaps.

After scouring the store, I ended up taking advantage of the 75% off table. I bought all of this for only $14. 
3 hand soaps, 2 huge hand sanitizers, 2 body sprays, a mini shower gel
Usually, one of those body sprays costs $12.50, showing just how AMAZING this sale is!

Among the goodies was this little gem
caramel apple hand soap. Yes. Please.
I have realized that each store carries different products for this sale, so be sure to visit as many stores as possible! 

The sale will run through January, but don't waste time. Go right now and get clean!

December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas! Recap in Picture Form.

The past few days have been filled with holiday luxuries. During this time of year, the things that do not have a material value are most important. Some of my Christmas experiences were expensive, some were low cost, some were free but all were luxurious.

Christmas Eve was spent attending church services, feasting, celebrating my Uncle's Bday, and taking an impromptu walk around town before settling down for a long winter's nap.

Christmas morning, my family and I opened gifts, traveled to my grandparents house and enjoyed a variety of holiday activities. Below is a recap in pictures.

Charlie Brown let us borrow his tree

Christmas Eve cooking

Christmas Eve walk around town

Cousins, wearing matching jackets and showing fear

Christmas morning aftermath.
(the luggage set is mine. I'm going places people)

Christmas cooks.

Christmas table at Gma's

Family gingerbread house competition

I took home 2nd place

I think I got dark chocolate from everyone this year.
(I'm totally ok with this)

Merry Christmas from Low Cost Luxury!

December 23, 2010

Low Cost Luxury Recipe: Mint Chocolate Cookie Cups

Due to the fact that today is Christmas Eve-Eve and the fact that I have been baking up a storm lately, I continued my bakefest this afternoon. Today's recipe was low cost, unique, and created especially for you by me. Consider it an early Christmas gift.

I was inspired by the cookie cups I noticed on this yummy site and my love for both chocolate and mint. Combine these together and you get Mint Chocolate Cookie Cups.

All you need is cookie mix and some mint chocolate chips

 Usually, I am against packaged, processed foods, but the cookie mix was buy one get one free at The Pubs this week, making it low cost and easy. The chips were about $2.50, which may seem like a lot but they combined dark chocolate and mint into little chips, making the price tolerable. 

Preheat the oven to 350 while singing Christmas carols. If you live in a house like mine, check the oven before you turn it on. There might be cookies stashed away in there. 
Seriously, there are cookies everywhere in this house. 

Simply make the cookie mix according to the package directions. I added a little flour to make the dough thicker, but you could leave it out. Also, place the dough in the fridge for awhile so it can stiffen up. (I put mine in the freezer due to extreme impatience).

Next, place tablespoonish sized balls into a mini muffin tin. Bake them.

While the cooks are baking, feel free to eat your weight in chips. 

After the cooks get their bake on, remove them and immediately make a "pocket"in the top of the cups. Use a teaspoon to do this. Once you make the pockets, add a few chips.

Remove the cookie cups with the assistance of a small kitchen knife. Allow to cool on a rack.

After this, I whipped up a batch of Peanut Butter Blossoms. Classic. 

Christmas Cooks for less. Love it. Just in case you need some more low cost and scrumptious cookie recipes here are a few more. 

December 21, 2010

Disney: Low Cost Luxury Style

Disney at Christmas time. I would imagine it's the next best thing to New York at Christmas time.
The only downside is that fact that the land run by a cartoon mouse is usually home to everything overpriced. The upside, Disney is also home to everything luxurious. Another upside, there are ways to enjoy the luxury of Disney for low cost. Friday night, I joined my family to do just that. We walked around the hotels and Downtown Disney receiving our fair share of Disney magic without entering one of the parks.

Carousel made of chocolate. Located at Disney's Beach Club Resort

Interesting Soaps at Basin. Located at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort
sounds like bathing in death

Huge Gingerbread House. Located at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort
The resort sells gingerbread pieces out from inside. (They are disgusting)

The house is made out of edible materials.

Over-priced treats on the Boardwalk.
High Cost Luxury

After walking all over the place, we took advantage of the free transportation.
Disney boat
Last stop of the night. Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. They give out free samples!
Peppermint Bark (Love)

They also sell kind-of-expensive-but-necessary drinks.
Gingerbread Hot Chocolate (soy, not too hot)

Disney, Low Cost Luxury style.

December 19, 2010

Outlets + Outback

Friday afternoon, I traveled with my family and Biff to Orlando for a Christmasy adventure. Every year, the fam makes the annual trip to Disney to look at the amazing decorations in all of the Disney Resorts.

First stop on the adventure was one of my favorite destinations- The Prime Outlets! I've been to all of the outlet malls in Orlando and this one is by far my favorite.

This is mainly because they have a giant Fashion Heaven! And because this one is in the outlet mall, the clearance section is supersized! Love. That.
dreams. come. true.
Biff is not a huge fan of Fashion Heaven, it overwhelms her to the max. Despite this, she persevered because she knows how much it means to me. She's a keeper folks. 

Biff also wrote about this experience on her bloggity. Check it. 

After shopping, we had to take a picture by the most ironic thing we could find. 
A reindeer I suppose
A moose holding cheeseburgers. Biff is allergic to bread and I am allergic to cheese. (irony)

I only spent about $15 at Fashion Heaven. The favorite purchases are these bracelets. Only $1.50 each!
After shoppingfest we trotted over to Outback for dinner and to celebrate my brother's b-dizzle. I ordered a kid's meal. 

*Tip: order off the kid's menu at Outback. The portions are perfect and the meal is cheaper! 
Grilled Chicken off the Barbie + Sweet Potato
It says on the menu that kid's meals are for children 10 and under. You can talk your way out of that. My grandma has been known to frequently order the Joey Sirloin. 

The rest of the night was spent bopping around Disney. More on that in the next post!

December 17, 2010

Tis the Season for Free Music

Due to a 24 hr flu that lasted about 72 hours, I have been spending the past few days doing nothing. When I wasn't eating saltines or sleeping, I was laying in my bed surfing the Internet. As I was surfing, I wanted to cheer myself up, so what did I think of? CHRISTMAS! Always works.

When I think of Christmas, I think of the wonderful music that comes with it. As I as surfing around, I thought of some great FREE ways to listen to Christmas music.

~Itunes- features a Holiday single of the week! You can find this in the middle of the page, by the typical free single of the week. Also, scroll down to the bottom to find previous weeks' singles.

~Pandora~ the customizable online radio station features tons of Christmas music. My favorite is the Michael Buble Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow station.

~Radio Stations~ A lot of radio stations offer all Christmas music all the time throughout the holiday season. If you live in the central Florida area, tune into Magic 107.7

There you go. Free Christmas music. Low Cost Luxury at it's finest.

I'm off to gather the biff and the fam for a night at Disney, more to come on that soon!

December 14, 2010

Living in the lap of (low cost) luxury

I don't know if it's because I'm home for winter break but I've been experiencing all kinds of low cost luxurious things over the past few days. I took a bunch of pics of the luxuries that comprised my day, but alas, most of them turned out all pixely (new word, start using it). Here is what I could salvage.

First off, I awoke to near freezing weather conditions. I'm serious, it was about 32 degrees. I celebrated this with a cold breakfast. I ended up having cookie dough cereal again. As I was eating I realized two things.
1. This does not taste like cookie dough
2. I put way too much protein powder in this bowl. Couldn't finish it (hate that)

After brek (nickname for breakfast), I accompanied my mom for an errand marathon. while on this journey I enjoyed snacks compliments of the SOHO convention.
Org. Tea + to-go tumbler

Cheeky Monks
This snack rocked. They are like cheese puffs, but peanut butter flavored, and only 98 cals!? Score. 

After reading the back of the package, I discovered that a cheeky monkey is: "a light-hearted name for a sassy, mischievous, sometimes naughty, often witty character, who boldly says or does something slightly unconventional." I identified with this. 

While waiting in a doctor's office, I came across this strange item in an Avon catalog.
creepy clip-ons
 Clip-on bangs. First of all, the price is redonk. Secondly, this is just weird. 

After finishing the errand marathon, I worked out for free then chilled the rest of the day. 

I ended my night by baking a batch of Caramel Apple Bars compliments of my friend Betty
like a delicious cookie/pie/cake 

I could get used to this. ( I just realized the large amount of parenthesis in this post. Completely unintentional.)

December 12, 2010

Crazy for Cookies

Do you ever have days when all you want is cookies? Today was one of those days. I woke up to the sound of rain. I took this as a sign that I should bake. Also, it's the holiday season- another reason I should bake. Not to mention I made cookie dough last night and left it in the fridge. I'm what you could call a "healthy eater" but when it comes to baked goods, especially cooks, I can't say no.

After deciding it was cookie day, I decided to break the fast. It involved cookies. After seeing cookie dough cereal all over the blog world, I figured I would give it a try. I followed the recipe from Fitnessista.
Cookies for Breakfast
In the bowl: 1/3 cup oats, 1/2 scoop Shaklee Vanilla Protein Powder, 1 tsp natural pnut butter, sprinkle of cinnamon, 1/2 banana,  1/2 cup orig almond milk.

After assembling this, I went all sorts of crazy and added mini chocolate chips. It was the best decision I've made all day. 

For the next few hours, I tried to work on grad school applications. Wasn't happening, so I decided I should get to baking. Last night I created something. My mom wanted some sort of shortbread cookie for Christmas and I wanted an excuse to use Nutella in a recipe. As a result I came up with Nutella shortbread sandwich cookies. I started with this recipe from Nestle and let my creative juices flow. 

First, line up ingredients

As I snapped this pic, I noticed that 3 out of the 4 ingredients are generic store brand. Appropriate. Mix everything together. (Note: this takes a lot of muscle power) 

Once mixed, wrap the dough and let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour. I left mine over night. Once chilled, roll out the dough cutting half into circles and the other half into rings

I made mine tiny because let's be honest, during the holidays there are tons of sweets everywhere and there is no reason to offer people cookies as big as their heads when there are other desserts to be had. 

Once they bake, allow the cookies to cool completely before adding the star of the show

Spread Nutella on the circle cookies then top with a ring cookie. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. 

These are delicious. Drop what you are doing and make them now.

Nutella Shortbread Sandwich Cookies

2 sticks of butter (softened)
2/3 cup of sugar
2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
Nutella (in whatever amount you feel is best)

-preheat oven to 350

-mix butter, sugar, vanilla until combined. Gradually add flour. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour.

-roll out dough and cut into small circles and small rings

-bake 5-7 minutes until lightly brown

-allow to cool, then assemble sandwiches!

December 11, 2010

Earth Cafe Cheesecake

A few days ago, I received a box on my doorstep from the wonderful people at Earth Cafe.
box of deliciousness
When I found out they specialize in making vegan, non-dairy, gluten-free cheesecakes I almost fell out of my chair. I love me some cheesecake but I'm lactose intolerant, so cheesecake is usually out of the question. Until I found out about Earth Cafe, I had no idea dairy-free cheesecake even existed. 

After discovering that Earth Cafe won the category of "Best Raw Foods" in VegNews' foodie awards this year, I knew I had to try this right away and Earth Cafe kindly sent me some samples. 

I opened the box to find five samples of cheesecake. 
still frozen! 
I immediately popped them out of the packages and let them thaw, so I could try each one. 
The flavors I received were: (from left) Who's Your Daddy Carob Mousse Pie 
                                                               Find Your Thrill on Blueberry Hill
                                                               Rockin' Raspberry
                                                               Strawberry Field's Forever
                                                               Cali Style Lemon

In addition to loving the creative names, all of the flavors were delicious! The crust is made from crushed nuts and reminded me of a salty Larabar. The fillings are so moist and light, it's almost like you are eating air. 

The Strawberry Fields Forever flavor was by far my favorite followed by the Cali Style Lemon. The Who's Your Daddy Carob Mousse was also great and reminded me of Nutella. 

All of Earth Cafe's cheesecakes are raw and made without refined sugar making them a much healthier option than other cheesecakes. As a result, they are much lower in calories than typical cheesecakes (major bonus) . 

You can definitely tell these cheesecakes are handmade. The fruit flavors tasted amazingly fresh and the crust definitely didn't have that creepy factory made and then frozen taste. 

Are you ready for the best part?! Not only are these cheesecakes healthy and delicious, they are affordable. A whole cheesecake runs about $35 dollars, which works out to around $4.50 a slice making them a definite low cost luxury. 

If you are looking for a great alternative dessert or a nice gift for someone special check out Earth Cafe. They are located in California but ship all over the US! 

Special Thanks to Craig and all of the people at Earth Cafe for letting me sample! 

December 9, 2010

Long (but was actually short) Day of Luxuries

Do you ever have days when you feel like your life is one big low cost luxury? I feel like that nearly everyday but today it was especially apparent. First off, I woke up at 9:32 am. This never happens, and it won't happen again. I suppose this could be considered a luxury but I felt like half my day was gone, which really stressed me out (not luxurious at all). Despite this, I still managed to take pics.

I started my day by rocking these slips compliments of Old Navy. They look like Uggs and they were only $4. Purchased them in the kid's section nearly three years ago.
slips with matching carpet

Next I took a cue from Snack-Face and painted my nails to look like Christmas Ornaments. Usually, OPI nail polish can be kind of pricey but this was a baby bottle, therefore, not so pricey. Unfortunately, this bottle didn't have an awesome name like the regular sized bottles. 
Tis the season
After nail time, I got down to business. By business I mean trying to figure out what the hades I am going to do with my life upon gradating in the spring. Option 1: graduate school apps coupled with tea. 
White Christmas tizzle (tasted like a candy cane)
It took me about an hour too long to reset my password. After working on the future for the rest of the day, my mother arrived home and we feasted on one of my favorite low cost dinners- Spaghetti Squash! 
So. Good.
After dinner, we traveled to Wal-Mart. The store of Wals can be quite sketch most of the time, but tonight it was splendidly safe. We purchased holiday baking supplies and these. 
Ginger babies from heaven
When I saw these I flipped out. They were only $1 and were broken into on the ride home. They taste delicious. Go buy them now. 

Twas a great day in low cost luxury land. I hope to do something similar tomorrow. 

Cliffhanger: A future post will feature what is inside this box. Get pumped up. 
Good stuff right here