Easter Brunch

14 Apr

I love Easter. It always makes me think of new beginnings, a fresh start and of course, Cadbury creme eggs (lots of them).

Today I bring an Easter Brunch inspiration. I think brunch is a fantastic meal to have at Easter time. Everyone has time to go to church or sleep in late and then afterwards a no hassle relaxed brunch. For brunch there are usually lots of options; pastries, omlettes, cakes, cheese boards…the works. I chose three recipes I think would add a great touch to a brunch menu. They are all simple and affordable. I also laid out an Easter/Spring tablescape and added a delicious cocktail.

ON THE MENU

Deviled eggs

Stuffed mushrooms

Fruit Fluff

Peach “mimosa”



Deviled Eggs

This is a brunch staple and of course well suited for Easter. Deviled eggs turn simple boiled eggs into a creamy flavourful treat.

WHAT YOU NEED 

Makes 6

Eggs -The number of eggs you use will give double that number of deviled eggs as they are served as halves. I used 3 eggs so I got 6(only 4 shown)

1 tbsp Mustard– I used a spicy mustard

1 tbsp Mayonnaise– This is optional but it does add a certain creaminess

Spices– I used salt, black pepper and paprika, just a pinch of each.

Deviled eggs ingredients 




WHAT TO DO 

1) Hard boil eggs, let cool and remove shells.

2) Cut eggs in half and gently remove yolks. Set whites aside.

3) Add condiments and spices and mix until a smooth paste forms.




4) Place paste into piping bag (you can use a zip lock and snip the end) and pipe into egg whites.



Deviled eggs 


Stuffed mushrooms 

I remember the first time I had this version of stuffed mushrooms. My mother brought them home from a local Italian bistro and my life was changed. Something about soft, tart cream cheese against the crunch of a fresh mushroom is a perfect match.

WHAT YOU NEED 

Mushrooms– I used 8 medium sized ones (they were unfortunately a bit bruised)

Cream cheese– The amount you use depends on the number and size of the mushrooms but about 2 tbsp fill 8 medium sized mushrooms.

Spices– I used lemon pepper and some oregano.

Mushrooms and cream cheese 


WHAT TO DO 

1) Add spices to softened cream cheese and mix.

2) Place in a piping bag and pipe into mushrooms. 

Mushrooms and cream cheese mixture



3 )Top with oregano 


Stuffed mushrooms 



Fruit Fluff 

This is my take on an Ambrosia salad. I substituted cool whip with Greek yogurt for a healthier twist and a more “brunchy” feel.

WHAT YOU NEED 

I used arbitrary amounts, a little bit of each. The amounts you use depends on how much you plan to make.

Greek yogurt- The one I used is plain combined with honey so it’s already sweet. A great alternative is vanilla but really any flavour you prefer can be used.

Fruit– I used  mixture of frozen fruit (cherries, strawberries, lingonberries) and fresh  (strawberries and blueberries)

Mini marshmallows

Fruit Fluff mixture

WHAT TO DO

Mix altogether and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Peach “Mimosas”

What’s the best part about brunch? The fact that you get to splash your juice with wine. Lol. Now mimosas traditionally consist of wine and citrus juice hence my use of air quotes. Technically this is a peach cocktail but when doing brunch, we call it a mimosa.

WHAT YOU NEED 

White wine

Peach juice

Canned peaches

Peach mimosa ingredients 




WHAT TO DO 

1) Place 1 or 2 peach slices in the bottom of the glass and muddle it a bit (mash it with a spoon if you don’t have a muddler, which I don’t)

2 ) Fill glass halfway with wine.

3) Top off with peach juice and add a straw.

Peach “mimosas”



Tablescape

An important part of entertaining is creating ambience. For this I chose a simple, clean fresh look in keeping with the idea of a relaxed yet sophisticated setting.

This tablescape employed some crafty skills but all were simple. My colour scheme was pink, white and gold.

Table runner

I made a table runner of sorts by overlapping lots of doilies along the Centre of the table. I added a touch of gold by swiping gold paint over them in a random fashion.

Table runner from doilies




Flowers

I went with pink and white carnations. Carnations are often a very affordable option from the florist costing only a few dollars. I used about 4 bunches in all keeping  the look minimal.

I swished some of the same gold paint onto the flower petals to keep with the theme and placed them in jelly jars.

Flowers




Centre piece 

My “Centre piece” began with ambition. In fact, the failure of this centrepiece led to the final colour scheme, so maybe it was for the best.

For the centerpiece of an Easter Brunch I had to incorporate eggs somehow. I decided to dye some eggs. People have different methods of doing this. The best way I’ve found is using regular food and egg dye and a bit of vinegar to allow for better uptake of colour.

I removed the contents of the eggs by making a small hole at one end and simply allowing it to run out, gently shaking if you need to. Don’t waste your egg ! I put mine in the refrigerator and made omelet the next day.

I mixed the dye, vinegar and water in a mug. I find you get a more even coating if you use a mug.

As it happened the only colour that worked out was the pink (the yellow one broke and the purple came out streaky)

Once my one surviving egg was dry I splattered it with the by now ubiquitous gold paint. I displayed it in a mini jelly jar on a bed of Easter egg shaped jelly beans.

Centre piece




I placed the flowers and Centre piece on the table runner and laid the table with simple white plates and bowls.

The tablescape and settings

Table with food

Deviled eggs 


Stuffed mushrooms



Fruit Fluff



Peach mimosa


Easy breezy Easter Brunch. Hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you if you plan on doing brunch for Easter or any other occasion. Have a happy Easter and an awesome day!

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Giant Cookie

5 Apr

Giant cookie




When I was a child  (maybe 5 or so) I had a conversation with my mother one evening after school. I told her “I want a giant cookie.” I remember this conversation distinctly. For some reason, I thought this cookie would be made in a frying pan, not baked, and I could envision it being fried as I spoke to her. She told me “Okay.”

 My unsuspecting self didn’t realize at the time she said okay more to get me to stop nagging her than anything else and not because she planned to make this cookie. By the time I was about 11 I had figured out the truth. Many years into my adulthood and still, no giant cookie. There was an attempt circa 2011 by my sister, a valiant effort I must admit. However, the giant cookie of my dreams contains chocolate. So here is my attempt to finally satisfy that long burning desire for a giant cookie.

To make this cookie you need a good recipe. My recipe is adapted from one on Joy of Baking (my baking queen) and it makes a soft cookie. I figured this would be easier for slicing as giant cookies are meant to be shared.


WHAT YOU NEED 

Cookie

1) 1/2 cup (113g) butter at room temperature 

2) 1/3 cup (75g) of granulated sugar

3) 1/3 cup (75g)  brown sugar– I used coconut sugar

4) 1 egg

5) 1 tsp vanilla extract 

6) 1 1/4 cup (150g) of flour 

7) 1/2 tbsp baking soda

8) Chocolate morsels -use as much or as little as you want

9) Nuts – use as much or little as you want

10) Baking dish -I used a shallow 9” glass dish

11) Cocoa powder – I used 1 heaping tbsp

Cookie ingredients 


Chocolate wafers and nuts

Icing

1) Cream cheese

2) Icing sugar

3) Chocolate sprinkles


Cream cheese and Icing sugar


Cocoa and sprinkles


Baking dish




WHAT TO DO 

Cookies

1) Heat oven to 375 F (190 C)

2) Grease or line dish – To allow for easy removal

3) Beat butter until creamy then add both white and brown sugar and beat until fluffy.

Creamed butter and sugars 

Butter and sugar mixture


4) Add egg and vanilla extract and mix

5) Separately,  mix flour and baking soda and add to mixture and mix well.

6) Separate the mixtures into two equal parts.

Separated cookie mixture 

7) Add cocoa powder and chocolate morsels to one half mixing well.

Mixed in Cocoa


Added chocolate 

8) To the other half of mixture,  add crushed nuts

Added nuts




9) Place mixture in refrigerator for about 30 minutes just to firm up slightly

10) Add mixture in alternating dollops into baking dish.

Mixture placed in dish




11) Bake for 15 minutes or until baked through 

Baked cookie




Icing

Mix some softened cream cheese with Icing sugar until desired texture and sweetness. I started with approximately 2 tbsp of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of Icing sugar.

Icing




Top cooled cookie with icing and add sprinkles

Cookie with icing




Slice and serve

Sliced cookie




Finally,  a chocolate giant cookie. Lol. This was awesome. I think this is a great alternative for a birthday cake (for that weird friend who doesn’t like cake) or a dessert with a difference if you’re entertaining.

The chocolate and nuts expectedly go beautifully together. The cookie is soft so it’s easy to slice and eat but not as fluffy as a cake. The cream cheese Icing gave a nice contrast to the decedent almost bitter dark chocolate and the saltiness of the nuts.

(Mummy, I’m still waiting…)

Give this one a try and have an awesome day.

Travel Cosmetics -How to pack

19 Mar

Whenever I travel I always try to pack a little better than I did the time before. And important group of items I carry is of course, cosmetics. From face wash to mascara, these items can get pretty bulky and cumbersome if you aren’t careful. This post lists items I typically take on a trip and how I pack for minimum space usage.


Some of the cosmetics I travel with

A major tip for packing you travel cosmetics is mini. If you can get every item in mini size that would be perfect. Most supermarkets and beauty stores sell minis of many items. For those things you can’t get a mini version of, invest in some mini travel pots and bottles.

FACE AND BODY

These are the essentials.The things you might need along the way on your trip. The things you don’t want to leave home without. Packaging these first.

○ Toothbrush and toothpaste 

○ Mouthwash

○ Deodorant (Secret)

○ Face/body wash(Cetaphil)

● Daily moisturizer(Oil of Olay Daily moisturizer)- I squirting a few days worth into a travel size container.

● Hand cream(BBW Black cherry merlot)

● Sunblock(Coppertone)

● Cleansing wipes(Wetones)

HAIR

○ Hairspray by Rave

○ Hair moisturizer by Garnier

○ Dry shampoo-I hardly ever wash my hair on short trips (I havethick, curly natural hair prone to dryness) so I don’t pack shampoo or conditioner but I do pack dr6 shampoo to keep things clean.

○ Hair gel by Tre Semme

MAKEUP

As tough as it may be, you have to use extreme discretion and only pack what you need. Think of all the makeup items you typically wear on an everyday basis to decide what to take.

● Foundation (Maybelline fit me matte and poreless in coconut)

● Eyeshadow palette (NYX Natural) – A fairly compact palette with enough shades to create multiple looks is ideal

● Blush (Milani American Rose)- A blush that will likely match your eye and lip colours.

● Lip colour (Milani Confident matte) – One that will go well with your eye colours

● Mascara (Too Faced Better than Sex)

● Brown pencil(ABH Brow definer in dark brown)

● Eye liner(Kat von D tattoo liner in Trooper)

● Setting mist(NYX matte)

● Rollerball perfume(Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb)- These are perfect for travel because they don’t spill.

○ Brushes- pack them in a flat brush holder like this or in a thin cosmetic case.

PACKING

I legit pack most of my cosmetics in a massive zip lock bag. Why? Because it holds a lot, it’s clear so it’s cool to go through airport security and if it gets messed up with spilt product you can bin it when you’re finished. 

Everything laid out



Packing things this way also save space because you can lay it flat on top of your clothing.

All packed up

Thanks for reading, happy travels and have an awesome day!

A few Spring things

12 Mar

A few Spring things

Happy spring! So even though the Spring Equinox isn’t until March 20th,  today is the day where clocks spring forward, so technically it’s spring right. I should also add that I do not live in a temperate climate so technically these seasons aren’t experienced where I am but it doesn’t stop me from totally getting excited about this time of year.

I decided to do a post sharing some things I have been recently enjoying and plan to continue doing so into the upcoming spring season. The items aren’t spring themed, just happen to be living them right now.


MAKEUP


Sweet Peach palette by Too Faced

This palette is a re-release from Too Faced, originally being a limited edition but now added to the right permanent line and massively expanded to include highlighters, blush and lip colours. This was a surprise favourite for me because initially I was unimpressed. Quite a few beauty bloggers/vloggers expressed disappointment with the palette and I was genuinely turned off. I actually walked into Sephora to purchase an entirely different palette a few weeks ago and just glanced over at this one. I switched the colours and I was hooked. 

Packaging

The packaging is the standard Too Faced metal palette that closes magnetically. It is ombre peach coloured with raised peaches across it. This actually makes it a bit difficult to stack with other flat palettes.

Product 

This palette costs $49 US and it contains 18 shadows each 0.95g .There are 5 matte shares all in neutral colours that I think can work for any skin tone. The rest of the palette is comprised of satiny and shimmers in corals, coppers and purples as well as an olive shade and a shimmery black shade.

Impression

For me, I love this palette. I can create complete looks with it alone including a completely neutral look (but why would you want to with all these awesome shades) 

Moda Makeup Brushes

Moda face brushes

By now most of us who have an interest in makeup would have heard of the Artis makeup brushes. For those who haven’t , it’s a set of flat head high end makeup brushes. These brushes made their rounds in the beauty community last year but for many of us regular folk the price was just too high. Then came the dupes.There are more than a few companies who have fashioned their version of the Artis makeup face brushes charging a pretty penny for them too. Then came Moda. This brand has been steadily making a name for itself as a brightly coloured, affordable, decent quality drugstore makeup tools line. I first knew of this brand of face brushes through Emmy Noel, one of my favourite beauty YouTubers. She gave them her stamp of approval and that was all I needed to hear. This set of four brushes goes for around $15 US at Walmart and is by far the cheapest I have seen any of these brushes yet.

Style

These are paddle head brushes compared to your typical makeup brushes with very densely packed fires. The colour is awesome resembling a cross between oil slick and mermaid skin on the handles and unicorn hair for  the bristles. Honestly I was sold on the appearance alone.
Function

The largest brush is meant for foundation (liquid or creme). The second size is meant for blush and bronzer.  The third one is for contouring and the fourth and smallest is meant for concealer. Obviously you can use the  however you like. I find myself getting the most use out of the two larger ones. I appreciate applying my foundation with something different to a sponge. I also find I use less product when I use this brush to apply. The blush brush is the perfect size for blush application.

If you are interested in this style of makeup brushes but can’t or won’t splurge on the more expensive version, definitely give these a go.

Colour Switch


Color Switch by Vera Mona

This little tin here was a true game changer for me. A colour switch allows you to reuse the same makeup brushes in the same time frame i.e while creating the same look. I was going crazy trying to create a cute look and realising I didn’t quite have enough brushes to do it with. If I used my brush cleaner, the brush got wet and wouldn’t dry out in time.

Until

I got

Color Switch

This invention is genius. It is essentially a circular chunk of very  porous, hard sponge not unlike that found in aquarium filters. You rub the brush in circles to get off product. You can use both sides and wash it when it gets particularly dirty.

Milani Lip Color Remover

In this day and age where long wear matte lipsticks are a dime a dozen,  this little tube is a saving grace. It is the colour and consistency of a petroleum jelly lip gloss. This thing really works! Just put it on and remove using a bit of tissue and the lip color comes right off.

SKIN AND BODY CARE

Elf Hydrating Bubble Mask

E.l.f mask



While other drugstore brands are busy expanding their makeup line, e.l.f has done that and is now making a foray into affordable skin care. So far I’ve seen facial cleansers, masks, day and night time moisturizers. I picked this one up because I’ve been curious about bubble masks but didn’t want to buy an expensive one only to hate it. I don’t hate this. I have feelings opposite to hate for this. 

Packaging

The packaging with this skin care line is a real winner. It is in a pale aqua cylindrical tub set into frosted translucent hard glass making it look rather luxe. The product comes through a hole in the top via a pumping motion.

Product

The mask comes out as a clear almost greasy substance with a mild you citrus scent. Upon touching moist skin it becomes white and foamy but it takes about two minutes before it truly bubbles. Bubble masks feel weird. Lol. The sensation is tingly and feels as if I poured a Sprite onto my face. After use my face felt clean but not dry which is what the product promised.


Philosophy Pink Marshmallow Buttercream shower gel

Shower gel

Philosophy makes intensely scented bath and body products. Whatever the scent is on the bottle is EXACTLY what it smells like.This can be used as shower gel, bubble bath or shampoo. It lathers well and leaves a gentle lingering scent on your skin. What I love about Philosophy products like this is that they print actual recipes on the front of the bottles to go along with the fragrance. I picked this one up from T.J Maxx and paid about $4 which is about half of the original price  (according to T.J. Maxx)


Body Shop Italian Summer Figure Body Cream


Cream

Yes, I am featuring a summer fig cream in a spring favourites post. This was another T.J.Maxx (my favourite off-price retail store) find and it was a good one. I paid $5US for mine but you can get it from The Body Shop for about $10. This cream comes in the traditional Body shop cream container and the graphics are clean and simple as with most body shop products. It smells delicious. It is rich and a little sweet with a fresh almost grassy undertone. It’s the type of scent that makes you constantly sniff your hands (or foot or whatever body part you put it on). The consistency of the cream is soft and whipped and extremely moisturizing.


FRAGRANCE

Elizabeth and James Nirvana rollerballs 

Rollerballs



Elizabeth and James is a line owned by the prolific business savvy Olsen twins: Mary-Kate and Ashley.  The names come from two of their younger siblings and the Nirvana fragrances have become more and more popular. 

I previously used the Nirvana White as a fragrance sampler set I got from Sephora about a year ago. Since then I’ve been hooked. The Nirvana line now has four fragrances: E&J Nirvana White, E&J Nirvana Black, E&J Nirvana Rose and E&J Nirvana Bourbon.

These fragrances have something for everyone occasion. The White has a clean fresh daytime scent. Black is darker and more musky and great for evening to night. Rose is light and romantic and almost powdery, fantastic for day wear or a date night. Bourbon is my favorite. It does somewhat embody the essence of Bourbon. It has depth and a bit of sweetness. I prefer this for nighttime but it can work in the day as well.

 I purchased this set of four rollerballs from Sephora for $28 which is a bit of a bargain for rollerballs these days. I am into buying sample or travel sizes of items because it allows me to test something before committing to a full size as well as giving an opportunity to try many things at once.


BBW Tomato Vine Candle

Candle

This candle smells diVINE!  (get it?) Bath and body Works continues to grow their candle line exploring more sophisticated scents. This is one of those and what a great job they did. This candle smells earthy, green and a little bit tart. It is very fragrant and throws fairly well. This works well being burnt in the mid morning to early afternoon as well as a fragrant backdrop for an after dinner glass of wine.

Those are my spring favourites. Maybe something I featured is a favourite of yours or maybe you’ll want to test out some for yourself. Have an awesome day!

Mediterranean Soiree 

8 Mar

This past weekend I hosted an intimate gathering in honour of my mother and sister’s upcoming birthdays as I won’t be seeing them on their respective special days.

I decided to go with a Mediterranean theme for the menu taking cues from Italian, French and Greek cuisines. 

As a rule, whenever I entertain I lays try not to bite off more than I can chew. Preparing for an event no matter how small or relaxed can become extremely stressful if you try to make everything yourself. So I chose the “semi-homemade” route, making simple recipes and using some ready made fare.

The menu served 10 persons and was as follows

Bruschetta

Mushroom crostini

Olive bar

Cheese and meat board

Chicken souvlaki (kebabs) with Tzatziki sauce

Assorted artisan mini pastries (premade)


Creme cheese croissants (premade)

Biscotti  (premade)

I will share how I prepared the items for this get together. 



BRUSCHETTA 

Bruschetta is a popular antipasto found in many Italian eateries and with good reason. It consists of slices of toasted bread coated in oil and topped with a variety of things including meats, cheeses and perhaps best known…tomato.

I made tomato bruschetta using a sliced baguette.

WHAT YOU NEED (makes 20-24 slices)

1/2 of a baguette  

Butter or olive oil

One large ripe tomato 

Spices- I used Italian spices and a pinch of salt


WHAT TO DO

Tomato

1)Dice tomato

2)Add salt and spices with a drizzle of olive oil

3)Stir to mix and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow flavour to mature.

Tomato mixture 

Bread 

4)Slice baguette into approximately 1/2 inch thick slices

5)Lay flat on a baking sheet

6)Coat with butter/oil.

7)Bake until golden or desired crispness 

Bread coated in melted butter




Top bread with tomato mixture just prior to serving to avoid bread becoming soggy.

Bruschetta 


MUSHROOM CROSTINI 

If you were to ask me the true difference between crostini and bruschetta I’m not sure I could answer clearly. Both have Italian origins, both involve slices of grilled bread and both are often topped with similar items. That being said, I’m totally comfortable with calling bread topped with tomato bruschetta,  but topped with mushrooms not so much. So I’m calling it crostini.

This recipe is almost identical to the bruschetta one except for the preparation of the topping so I’ll focus on that.

WHAT YOU NEED (makes 20-24 pieces)

12 OZ of fresh mushrooms -feel free to use canned ones 

1/4 cup of finely diced onion 

2 tbsp of brown sugar- I used coconut sugar 

2 tbsp butter

1/2 of a baguette 

Ingredients 



WHAT TO DO 

Mushrooms

1)Heat butter, sugar and onions in a skillet until onions sweat (become soft and translucent) 

2)Add mushrooms and Sautee until browned.

Onions,butter and sugar mixture 


Mushrooms being sautéed 


Bread

See 4-6 for bruschetta 

3)Top bread with mushrooms just before serving

Mushroom crostini 


CHICKEN SOUVLAKI/KEBABS 

Kebabs are always a favourite of mine for parties. Who doesn’t enjoy eating bites of food off a stick? Something about it is just so much fun. Lol.

The inspiration for this came from a blog post by Closet Cooking who created this recipe after tasting something similar while on vacation in Greece. The chicken is flavour education with the tart lemon and spices and topped with tzatziki. Tzatziki is a Mediterranean yogurt based dip infused with herbs and spices. It is served with meat or used with pita bread or vegetables as a dip. You can make it yourself but it is also widely available in most supermarkets  (I bought mine).

WHAT YOU NEED (makes about 15)

1/2 lb Chicken breast/thighs boneless

1 large lemon

Minced garlic or garlic powder 

Tzatziki

WHAT TO DO 

1)Cube chicken and coat with juice of lemon, garlic and any other seasonings and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2) Skewer chicken Bake until cooked

3)Drizzle with Tzatziki-I also served some on the side.

Chicken souvlaki 


OLIVE BAR

This one was easy-peasy. I saw an amazing olive bar at Whole foods and knew I had to recreate it even if on a micro scale. I bought a container of mixed olives and worked with that.

WHAT YOU NEED

Various olives- You can use as many types as your heart desires

Containers- to display the olives

WHAT TO DO

Distribute the olives in their various containers along with spoons and display. I used a wooden cutting board.

Olive bar 



CHEESE AND MEAT BOARD

I have to say, that out of all the dishes on this menu, this is the one I was most excited about. Cheese and meat boards or antipasti boards are becoming a bigger and bigger trend in the foodie world making appearances on lots of restaurant menus. But these amazing appetizer boards are well established in Mediterranean cuisine. 
WHAT YOU NEED

Cheeses- At least two types but as many as you wish. I used Asiago, Gouda and sweet onion Swiss cheese by Laughing Cow.

Meats- At least two types or skip it if you want a strict cheese board. I used sliced turkey and turkey salami

Extras- I used purple or red grapes, almonds and some crackers

Board- This can be your cutting board, a marble board, slate board, metal board etc. Whatever you have. I used a rectangular board and most that I’ve seen do the same but this can work on a circular or oblong board as well.

Ingredients 

WHAT TO DO

1)Arrange your cheeses and meats on the board. I tried to create something visually pleasing by placing the cheeses at differing heights and placing the meats in between.

2)Place your extras to fill in the empty spaces

Cheese and meat board


PREMADE items

To round out this Mediterranean inspired fest I purchased some items to cut down on prep time and stress.

Pastries 

I bought a box of frozen mini pastries which came in four flavours: spinach and cheese, red bell peppers and cheese, sweet onion and cheese and mushroom and cheese…there was a lot of cheese.

Assorted savory pastries 

Dessert

All the dessert was premade. Desserts are satisfying to make but boy will they eat up your time. I purchased some Biscotti, a tasty Italian treat often eaten along with coffee. I also bought some French Creme cheese pastries which I warmed in the oven and served.

Biscotti 

Cream cheese pastries


A few more shots of the finished table

The evening was great, spent with family and friends. There was good conversation and tasty food. As I say I always recommend doing some things yourself and getting help with others when entertaining,  it makes everything a bit easier.

I hope my Mediterranean inspired Soiree gives you some ideas for your next event. Have an awesome day and Happy International Womens Day to all!

Off Price Retailers- Are they worth it?

19 Feb

img_3399

T.J.Maxx bag filled with Off-Price retail purchases

 

 

Marshalls. T.J Maxx (T.K Maxx). Ross. Big Lots. Home goods.

 

We have probably all heard these names before and probably shopped in one of these stores a few times. These types of stores are called “Off-Price Retail Stores” and they continue to grow and expand their base.Some are massive multi-billion dollar companies and some are stand alone stores. I’m sure we can all think of a local store that sells off-price items.

But, are they worth it? I did a similar article examining Outlet malls and whether or not they are worth it if you are interested.

The first thing we must do is define an Off-Price retailer. What makes a store just that? An off-price retail store is described as one that sells high-quality items at lower prices.  If you go back to the origins of outlet stores, this is a similar concept.

So… how do these off-price retail stores do it?

This is an important question. How can these stores sell quality items at bargain prices? Especially around the same time, similar items are found in department or brand stores? Immediately you think that something is wrong with the merchandise. It’s either damaged or lower quality or fake right?

Well here are two major ways these types of stores acquire their merchandise.

Overstock

This is what occurs when a company overestimates the demand for a product. For example, if a Department store might order 500 pink floral dresses but it turns out only 200 sold in the expected time.  Off-price retailer buyers swoop in and purchase the remaining 300 dresses at a discounted price. The company will then resell them at a profit to themselves but at a discount to you, the consumer. Everyone wins.

Irregular Items

An irregular item is one that is less than perfect. For example a dress with a red zipper instead of a black one or a shirt with the buttons sewn on the wrong side. These items, in the world of retail, are deemed unworthy to be displayed and sold full price in department stores and brand stores. They are, however, perfect for an off-price retail store where they will be sold discounted. Everyone wins again.

 

But the question remains, is it worth it?

To give some perspective here is an off-price retail shopping scenario:

You go into “OffpriceretailerX” and see an amazing top. Its cobalt blue with a watercolour inspired print, half sleeves, and a loose fit, just how you like it. You pick it up and realise it’s extra small. You wear a medium. So you go over to the medium and search and search. Nothing. Okay, you can wear a large, it will be more comfortable that way. So you go to the large section and search. Nothing. Hmm. Determined you decide you can squeeze into a small. You’ve lost 5lbs recently anyway, so you go to the small section and look. You look and look and …nothing. At this point you are exasperated. You walk through the entire section until your eye spots the shirt. Yes! You grab it! You hold it up and look at it!. It’s a 3XL. It is far too big.

If you had gone into a department store, there is a good chance that same top would be hanging on a rack with a bunch of tops that looked exactly like it. They would be arranged front to back from XS right through to 3XL. You would ask the clerk to get it in your size and he would do just that and take it to the checkout for you and ring you up. No hassle. But, you might pay 3 ½ times as much.

This is the bane of an off-price shopper. Getting a good deal is a downright treasure hunt. There is always a missing size (yours) or a missing colour (the one you want, obviously) or you want six of something and there are only five.

Shopping off-price can be exhausting and tedious and sometimes completely unrewarding and you can find yourself tucked away in a corner sitting on the floor picking through every, single stationary item trying to piece together a set. (I swear it wasn’t me) Yes, this type of retail therapy can land you in actual therapy and it is a major turn off for some. BUT, when you get that deal. When you get that Stella McCartney perfume for 20% less and when you find the perfect pair of ankle biting blue jeans for under $20, it all seems worth it. It makes the digging and rifling worthwhile. For some of us at least.

So let’s review our points:

1)Off Price retailers sell you real, quality items-This is in comparison to many outlet stores which are now producing lower quality items specifically for outlets.

2)They sell it at a reduced price- This is why we look for bargains, we hope to pay a bit less for what we want without completely forfeiting quality.

3)They can be difficult to navigate-There is often a surplus of merchandise packed in and overflowing in most cases and no matter how diligent the staff appears to be, everything always looks picked over.

4)You won’t always get what you want-In these types of stores, you get what you find not necessarily what you go looking for because the stock is often piecemeal.

5)It may not be perfect- As mentioned, some of this merchandise may have some damage or imperfection which landed it in that store in the first place.

To answer the question as to whether or not it’s worth it, it depends on you. Are you willing to hunt through random unrelated items to get the one you desire? Are you okay with having an item that may have an imperfection? If the answer is yes, then it is totally worth it because as I said, when you get that deal there is no better feeling.

If you prefer to know precisely what you are getting and want a fairly hassle free experience then stick to retail and perhaps wait for your favourite stores to put on sales if you want a good bargain.

Thank you for reading. Happy shopping and have an awesome day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Snack-Energy Bites

8 Feb

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Health Bites

Hello and welcome to another post on a delicious, healthy snack. Today I make energy bites also known as healthy bites, energy balls, health balls etc. These treats are pretty genius because they are easy and quick to make, easy to carry on the go and you can make so many different flavours.

I made three flavours today: Peanut Chocolate, Fig, Cranberry, and Coconut and Prune and Molasses. Let us begin. These are all oat- based but they don’t have to be. The measurements are fairly vague as you can add as much of what you want.

WHAT YOU NEED

Peanut Chocolate

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1)1 cup of peanut butter

2)2 tbsp of cocoa powder (unsweetened)

3) 1/2 cup of honey

4) 1 cup of oats

 

Fig, Cranberry, and Coconut

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1)1/3 cup of shredded coconut

2)1/4 cup of dried cranberries

3)1/2 cup dried figs(or dates)– about 5 or 6

4)1/2 cup oats

5) 1/2 cup of honey

 

Prune and Molasses

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1)1/2 cup of prunes– about 5 or 6

2)1/2 cup of molasses

3)1/2 cup of oats

4) 1 tbsp chia seeds

WHAT TO DO

1)Prune and fig paste

Place 1/2 of the prunes/figs into a food processor or nutribullet with a very small amount of water (approximately half tsp) and blend until paste forms. Each paste will be added to the respective ingredients to act as an adhesive in the mixtures.

 

Fig paste and Prune paste

2)Chop remainder of prunes and figs to add to respective ingredients.

3)For each set of ingredients

Combine in a large bowl until a stiff consistency is achieved, you need it to be able to hold its shape. You can add a bit more honey or molasses or oats to do this.

 

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Peanut Chocolate ingredients

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Stiff Consistency

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Fig, Cranberry, and Coconut ingredients

 

 

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Consistency

 

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Prune and Molasses ingredients

2)Place mixture in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes to firm up.

3)Remove from the refrigerator and roll into balls- I made mine approximately 1.5 inches in diameter and got approximately six from each.

Formed energy bites

4) I coated each bite in extra ingredients just to be a bit extra. I coated the peanut chocolate ones in cocoa powder so they looked like chocolate truffles. The Fig, Cranberry, and coconut was coated in shredded coconut and the Prunes and Molasses in Chia seeds. This step is optional.

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I’m so glad I decided to make these. I am always looking for cheap, easy healthy snacks and this one is a gem. I love Luna bars and other energy bars but they do not come cheap. This is a great way to get a similar type of snack except you get to decide exactly what goes into it.

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