Monday, May 25, 2015

Wholesome and Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies-Guest Post at Golden Barrel


I know.

Those cookies.

You can hardly even read this right now, can you? All you can think about is how to make these cookies enter your life. And do not fret-we'll get to that! First, I have to share some news with you!
I'm going to, on an occasional basis, be sharing recipes over on Golden Barrel's blog (Golden Barrel is a company, based out of Lancaster, PA, that creates baking products such as mixes, molasses, coconut oil, sugars, etc.--I talked a bit about them when I posted these delicious cookies back in January.)

These cookies are the first of those recipes!
Golden Barrel makes such an amazing variety of products that I knew I wanted to use a few of them in a recipe: so I used their raw sugar and molasses (to form a sort of extra delicious, un-refined, dark brown sugar) as well as their coconut oil (which completely replaces the butter, making these cookies dairy free and a bit healthier!) And these cookies could not have turned out better!
Even though they're made with coconut oil instead of butter-you do NOT taste the coconut at all and the texture is still so perfectly gooey and chewy and wonderful! The flavor is insane-they taste super high quality and they're the tastiest cookies I've made in a long time. Seriously...I could gush about how tasty they are for a LONG time, but why don't you just go check out the post and read about it there? And, while you're at it, get the recipe so you can make them for yourselves and see HOW GOOD they are!

Head on over to the Golden Barrel blog for the full post and recipe!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Something Saturdays (5/23/15)

This was a pretty good but extremely stress filled week! Saturday I got to hang out with my best friend Alex for a few hours which is always the best--and Michael got to hang with his best friend too and the four of us hung out together. Which was fab. Our RSVP cutoff date was last weekend so I spent a lot of this week hunting down responses (still have about 10 more to go), freaking out about the fact that somehow how guest list is in the 230's which BLOWS MY MIND (because we invited over 300), tallying costs (and scrambling to figure out how we're going to meet the minimum at our reception location now that our guest list has shrunk), starting to put together seating arrangements, making a wedding timeline, and generally just worrying about everything I still have left to do and we're less than a month out. I didn't sleep most of this week (my brain WOULD NOT stop replaying all the things I have to do over and over again...and they weren't even new things! Just stressing about all the stuff I know I need to do). But we also got to go see Michael's sister's choir concert. And last night we went to my grandpa's 80th birthday party-which was so fun! I don't get to see that family often so it was nice and my grandpa was so adorable, pretending to be miffed :P

And today....

ARE OUR BACHELOR/BACHELORETTE PARTIES!!! EEEEEE!!! Michael is going over to his mom's where he and the boys will eat, drink (some of them), play videogames, and do other stuff that is a surprise for Michael so I can't say :P My girls are all meeting me here at our house and we're going to get an early dinner and then come back here to play "Once Upon a Murder Mystery"! It's a murder mystery game set in a fairytale land. I'll be playing Ice White (which is essentially Snow White) and each of the girls have their own characters too! I'm sort of unreasonably excited about it! I'll tell you about how the shenanigans went down in next week's catch up :)

In the meantime-HAVE A GREAT MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND! This marks the opening of my grandma's pool so we'll be heading over for the 1st cookout of the season tomorrow. Hooray!

Friday, May 22, 2015

SmileBrilliant! {Teeth Whitening} Review and #GIVEAWAY

My smile has been through a lot-I wore braces for nearly 3 years (I still wear retainers at night) and, although I overall am happy with it-I've always wished it was whiter. Especially with the wedding day coming up--white dress, white teeth, right? :P

Which is why I jumped at the opportunity to try out SmileBrilliant!'s at home whitening kit with custom trays!
I've tried whitening strips in the past and, although they helped a bit, they definitely didn't leave me with as white of a smile as I'd like. I was considering having my dentist whiten them but was balking at the super high price tag ($500+!) Thank GOODNESS for SmileBrilliant! Smile Brilliant provides lab direct, custom-fitted, teeth whitening trays and professional strength whitening gel (and you can also purchase desensitizing gel, which is helpful if you're worried about sensitivity resulting from the whitening. I highly recommend it!) from your own home, and for a fraction of the cost!  Plus, there's a 30 day money back guarantee.

One thing you need to know going in to teeth whitening-it cannot perform miracles. It can and will remove stains and restore your teeth to their natural color but if your teeth's natural tint isn't white then whitening cannot do anything to help that. But I was hopeful about my results. (I mean--look at all of these amazing testimonials!)
The first thing you do is order your package--and you'll receive your teeth whitening system within 2-3 business days. Then, super easy step-by-step directions help you make your own impressions, which you mail back (along with a consent card) in a pre-paid envelope that they include (unless you're an international customer). Their lab then creates your custom-fitted trays (it can then take between 5 and 12 business for you to get your custom trays and carrying case sent to you in the mail). And then you just follow the whitening directions! Essentially you floss and brush your teeth and then squeeze a thin line of the whitening gel into you trays (on the front side that will touch the front of your teeth, obviously)--you'll want to make sure not to overfill the trays because that can result in chemical burns (sometimes finding the right amount is tricky but the chemical burns are not as scary as they sound-they go away in less than a day usually and they're not even very painful. Just if you feel an intense burning while you have your trays in...take them out.), the amount of a small drop in each tooth space should be enough. You wear these for about an hour (anywhere from 30 minutes up to about 3 hours--based upon your sensitivity levels/time) and then brush your teeth and clean out the trays. Then, if desired, you can also do the desensitizing gel (which is administered essentially in the same manner as the whitening), I don't use it every time and I just feel it out based on how often I'm whitening and how my teeth are feeling. Something important to remember and that makes the whole process a bit tricky for me--you're supposed to wait about 2 hours after whitening before you eat. Which means this is a bedtime ritual for me because I cannot go that long without food in the daytime! Another important tip: your teeth are more porous 48 hours after using the whitening trays so you really want to avoid staining substances such as coffee, red wine, soda, tea, etc. That's not really an issue for me, which is good. You can see results as early as 3 days in and you can whiten as often or as sporadically as you want! If you full-on use up a few syringes of whitening gel then you should be good for a little while and then, if you want to freshen up the whiteness levels a bit, just purchase some more whitening syringes!

You should also check out Smile Brilliant's blog for lots of tips as well as their FAQ page!
My take-aways: making the impressions was pretty simple and the whole process was actually kind of cool. The custom trays fit perfectly. Figuring out the correct amount of whitening gel took some time but once you get it down-you've got it. Smile Brilliant has great and helpful customer service via live support on their website (usually professionals in the dental field)-which I totally utilized when encountering a couple of questions along the way. Finding the time to whiten was the hardest part for me--knowing I'd need to block out at least an hour or 2 to whiten at the end of the day (due to aforementioned need to eat) was sometimes hard aaaand...to be fair...I also forgot on a somewhat frequent basis. Which was my bad. The actual process-again, once you have it all figured out-is pretty simple and its nice that you can go about your life (watching TV, reading, whatever) while whitening. And the results? I realized the whitening was working when twice in one week I got complimented on my smile and how white my teeth are. I started to tell them "WHAT-my teeth are so not white!" and then I realized, "Wait...I have been whitening them..." Are they that pure brilliant white that I see some actors (and my dentist) have? No. But that's probably just not possible for me due to my teeth's natural tint. Are my teeth noticeably whiter? YES! The results speak for themselves: 


First of all--in the left picture I'm wearing my trays, so you can see how they fit onto my teeth. And I did not edit either of these photos, except to put them into a collage. I must say-I'm pretty darn happy with how much whiter my smile is-and I haven't even used up my third syringe of whitening gel yet!

Now...how would YOU like to try out Smile Brilliant? You can use coupon code BLOGNA5 until June 30th, 2015 for 5% off SmileBrilliant! Oh yeah and also...there's a giveaway!



Disclaimer: SmileBrilliant! provided me with a custom whitening tray and syringes to facilitate my review and are providing the prize for this giveaway.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review or host a product giveaway. My opinions, as always, are all my own. We are not liable for technical failures or typographical errors, or resolving identity disputes related to the winner.VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. 
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