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Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Sweeps & Contests THANK YOU- and sweeping tips!

This post is a GREAT BIG THANK YOU!
As my five faithful readers know, I am a terrible sweeper and contest-enterer. The first time I entered a contest- Oil of Olay's "Most Romantic Summer" contest back in 2002- I actually won it- a totally fabulous trip with hubs to The Golden Door Spa at The Boulders in Arizona that included plane tickets and spa treatments- and that fueled what has become my late-night hobby- and one that sure beats Candy Crush or Farmville for lucrative time-killing! LOL Yes, sweeping has it's downside- I get 1900+ emails a day I have to actually go through (because you are ONLY notified of a win via email...), but in the process of sweeping, I also learn a lot about new products, and there are lots of things I now want that I never even knew Existed until I saw them in a sweeps! LOL And yes, my friends made fun of me... until I started winning trips with plane tickets! So far I've won 6 trips with plane tickets, which Dan and I have enjoyed the heck out of:  thanks to sweeps and contests, we've had amazing trips back to Israel and Vietnam, Chile, Arizona, California, and Virginia!
And so, as 2016 draws to a close, I want to thank the great people and companies who made my fabulous "wins" possible, and, in many cases, treated me (and my husband) to things we Never would have been able to enjoy otherwise! PLEASE shop with these great companies- they all make terrific things that you'll love, and that will make Great gifts for the people you love!
Happy Dan and his fabulous Big Green Egg!
My first BIG Thank You goes to Tabasco, as, thanks to them, I won my chef husband THE Ultimate Grill-Smoker- a fabulous, medium-size Big Green Egg! And it came with a Nest, Eggmates, BBQ tools, starters and even organic charcoal, so (after reading the directions and watching videos and putting it together), he could get right into smoking us some fabulous, Memphis-Style Dry Rub Brisket! This was THE best "Big 7-0" birthday present for Chef Dan ever!
Chef Dan making a Dry Rub Brisket in his Big Green Egg!

Amazingly, I also won $160 in fabulous steaks and seafood from Certified Steaks and Seafood! I got us an amazing assortment of Prime and Wagyu filet mignons, Bermuda & Canadian lobster tails, crab claws, and andouille sausage for Chef Dan to make- and he's making some of them right now for our New Years Eve supper! 

My next BIG thank you goes to Vitruvi Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, as I won a glorious gift certificate for their excellent, natural essential oils, which I LOVE! I keep a diffuser on my desk in my office, and enjoy blending the oils to create a really pleasing and healthy environment around me while I work! My aromatherapy oils are like a "chemistry set" for Big Girls! :-)
My diffuser and some of my Virtuvi essential oils...

Some of my Vitruvi essential oils and sprays...

I won a Delicious November Bokksu box of Japanese snacks and teas, which was so much fun and yummy! (I blogged about it here: Bokksu - Enjoy Yummy Japan at Home every month!)  The November box was themed "Japanese Folklore" and included an artisan assortment of Japanese snacks and teas and a guide to explain everything! This is THE best gift for anyone who loves Japan- as we do! Our Bokksu box not only brought back wonderful memories of our honeymoon, 4 glorious days of which were spent in Japan, but gave us the chance to try new things and learn more about Japan, too!
My November Bokksu Box

I won a gorgeous ceramic artists palette from Stephen Quiller from The Artists Magazine, which I badly needed for my watercolors...

I won a Selfie Stick from Galbani- Italy's Favorite Cheese! 

I won PreHeels, a great anti-blister foot spray to stop my fave high-heels from irritating my tender toosties...

And from Vogue, I won a Gorgeous Vera Bradley backpack!

 I won a lovely selection of great travel beauty products from

And a truly fun and stylish Evan Williams Kentucky Bourbon "travel set" for my photo of my AbFab Kentucky Derby Evan Williams Mint Julep Jello Shots!

And two cool, fun vacuum wine stoppers from VINOPlease Wine Accessories and Tools:

I also won two glasses from Coors... (Obviously Not the Grand Prize LOL)

From Latina I won a set of Ouidad curly hair care products which are great for my curly hair!

I won a great assortment of natural beauty products from ThredUp, including lovely Earth Mama Angel Baby organic body lotion and other delightful products! 

And from SheSpeaks I won a Neutrogena Cleansing Set!

And then there was the Banana costume I won from Del Monte... No, this prize did NOT come with a trip to their Dole Plantation in Hawaii, but I entered it anyway... because I am, yes, bananas. LOL

And last, but not least, I FINALLY won Dan a car... There's just one little problem... :-)

Elisse's Tips for Successful Sweeping and Contest Entering:
1. Read the rules! If you are going to "waste time" on this, read the rules so you don't disqualify yourself!
2. Have an email just for sweeps and contests if possible, and check it EVERY DAY! This is a must. You will ONLY be notified of a win via email, and you will sometimes only have 24 hours to respond or you will lose the prize!
3. You WILL get 1000s of emails every day. You WILL be on every mailing list in the known universe.  Enjoy it. Think of it as "Market Research". LOL If that concept makes you crazy, sweeping is NOT for you!
4. Enter 100 a night. No kidding. This isn't luck, as many friends insist- it's entering 100 a night on average,  month after month after month... If you think of this as your "nighttime job" it will be less painful. LOL
5. Legitimate sweeps and contests will NEVER charge you ANYTHING to claim a prize you have won. You may have to send or fax in a signed affidavit, and you may get a tax form at the end of the year if the prize is larger than $500. But if anyone demands money from you to claim a prize you won they are breaking the law.
6. You WILL have to submit your name, address, phone, birthday, email, etc. in order to enter anything. If that is a problem for you, sweeping is NOT for you!
7. Sweeps are random drawings (like Lotto); Contests are based on skill. If you can write well, take good photographs, create art, make unique Pinterest boards, etc., contests can be very good- I have won a number of contests, including the trips to Chile, Arizona, and Virginia! Note: sometimes sweeps are designed to look like contests; again, read the rules to see if it's a random drawing or a skill-based contest.
8. The smaller the company (or blog or Facebook page) the better your odds. Blogs have great odds, because usually only a few hundred or a few thousand people enter, as opposed to the millions who enter the HGTV sweeps to win a million dollar home or the Ford sweeps to win a $40K truck.
9. Some are "enter only once" and some are "enter every day"; again: read the rules.
10. There are email lists of legitimate sweeps and contests you can sign up for which will deliver 100s of them to your inbox every day... 
11. Only enter for things you really want to win. I learned that the hard way! But remember: you may not win the Grand Prize $10K Trip to Vegas, you may win 1st Prize, which is a giant box of condoms- because the contest was sponsored by a condom company- and yes, that happened to me! You may also win a key chain, a toy car, or 2 beer glasses. Hey- it still beats Candy Crush. LOL
12. If and when you win a prize, be NICE to the great folks who sponsor these sweeps and contests! Don't forget that they do it to get business- so send them YOUR business and that of your friends and coworkers! Buy from them, blog about them, Facebook about them, Tweet about them, Pinterest pin them, and G+ them!
Good luck, and happy sweeping!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Bokksu - Enjoy Yummy Japan at Home every month!

If you (and/or your friends) love all things Japanese, as we do, especially trying new foods and treats, you are going to Love having a subscription to Bokksu!  
I recently received my November Bokksu box of Japanese snacks and teas, and am Totally loving it!  Bokksu is unlike any other Japanese snack box; the Bokksu folks are Really in love with Japanese snacks, and they handpick tasty snacks that people in Japan enjoy, and curate them into a unique and fun themed box each month. They source their snacks directly from the makers in Japan, so many of the artisanal snacks you get can't be found anywhere else! 
Enjoying my Foxtail Pastry and coffee!
The theme for their November box was "Japanese Folklore", and all the things they included were Very cool- and cute, too- with info about each one on the enclosed card- and so far DELICIOUS! (In the photo I was enjoying the yummy, flaky Kitsune "foxtail" pastry, which is iced with maple white chocolate, with a cup of coffee!
This is truly a Very cool (and not expensive) treat to enjoy- or give as a great holiday "foodie" gift- for Anyone interested in Japan! (And Especially if you- or they- live in a place like we do- rural southern West Virginia- where you cannot even Dream of finding these things!) Bokksu really created something special here; it's very well designed and thought-out-  and yummy! I'm truly impressed!
Adorable chocolate Panda cookies!

The adorable and totally delish chocolate "Panda" cookies, were also perfect with a cup of coffee- on top of being really yummy, they were totally "Kawaii" - or "super-cute", as Hello Kitty would say! (And they sent 4 packets of them!)
Bokksu is NOT expensive- I think it's a very good deal- AND the are having a special now, so go check it out:
My Bokku Box and the info card that explains all the treats!
Each box comes with a guide so you know what everything is and "why"- which is almost the best part, since even when I've been lucky enough to live or visit places where there are Asian food stores, I almost never knew what to buy, as the packaging is almost never in English! LOL

My November box was themed "Japanese Folklore" and it included Organic Sencha Tea, the flaky Foxtail Kitsune Pastries with the maple/white chocolate icing, Kumamo "bear" cookies from Kumamoto Prefecture, the totally adorable Saku Saku Panda cookies, "Dream Animals" butter cookies, and savory/spicy ones I intend to have with a glass of sake (which you actually can get here in rural southern West Virginia, LOL): Hakata Mentai Shrimp crisps!

As my blog-followers know, Dan and I were lucky enough to have spent 4 glorious days and nights in Japan back on our honeymoon in 2008, and we truly love the food and culture of Japan. Having a Bokksu arrive at our door brought all the great memories back, and gave us the opportunity to try new treats, and learn stuff, too!
 Let me know in the comments if you try Bokksu, or get it as a great Hanukkah or Christmas present for that Japan-loving "foodie" in your life!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I'm a #CoolAger! Thanks, Philosophy, for pointing that out!

Thanks to being a Crowdtapper- a member of Crowdtap- I recently had the opportunity to try Philosophy's "uplifting miracle worker moisturizer"- their "cool-lift & firm moisturizer for face & neck". 
I'm a #CoolAger, all right!
At 57 (I'm a #Boomer born in 1959), I Do like to think of myself as a #CoolAger - one who at least tries not to let anything stop her, and for whom age is only a number! My mom is THE ULTIMATE #CoolAger- at 94, and a WWII US Army #Veteran, she is a 165 avg. bowler and a Great golfer (see photos below), as well as a professional artist- and a 20-year breast #cancer survivor/thriver! She has been my Cool Aging Inspiration for many, many years- my whole life, actually- and as a result, I have a lot to live up to in the Cool Aging Department! LOL
My belief is that being able to be a #CoolAger, and to keep doing the things you love and want to do, depends a lot on genes- and I'm counting on having my mother's! But it is also an attitude, and a determination not to "let the turkeys get you down", as the expression goes! I HATE when people advise others not to do the things they love and want to do because of their age! As long as you want to and enjoy doing the "crazy" things you've always loved to do, keep doing them!! For me, being a #CoolAger is also doing what ever I can to make myself both look and feel good, and as youthful as possible. No, barring a miracle, I'm not gonna look 35 again (dang! LOL), but I can strive to look as good as possible. Living now in Extremely Rural West Virginia (as opposed to NYC, where I'm from and lived for many years), means I don't have access to monthly facials and spas and shopping, and such, so I really have to do it all myself! I don't wear makeup every day now, either, so it's important to me that my skin look as good as it possibly can without makeup. I do a lot of research on natural medicine, which I rely upon for my health, and I take Ayurveda (Indian) herbs every day as they really do make a difference in how I look and feel. And as an Official Anti-Aging Beauty Product Junkie, I am Always looking for the newest, best, and most 'cutting edge' anti-aging beauty products to hold back the hands of time (at least visually LOL), and so I was really excited to try Philosophy's "uplifting miracle worker moisturizer", as it promises, in only 4 weeks, to make one's skin feel more firm with a better bounce, with one's facial contours appearing more sculpted, youthful and defined. In 8 weeks, 75% of the women who sampled it showed a clinical improvement in skin firmness, radiance, and texture! That is pretty darn impressive!
I've used a number of Philosophy products in the past and have always been pleased with them, and I was pleased with this one, too! (Thank you, Crowdtap!)
I really like the way the uplifting miracle worker moisturizer feels when I apply it- it's cool and lightly firming. You can see from the photo of me applying it, that my skin has a nice, smooth sheen to it. It's absorbed quickly into my skin, my face does feel soft and hydrated all day, I've experienced no breakouts or other issues, and my makeup goes on smoothly on top of it. It is a great moisturizer! To be honest, however, I was, frankly, expecting more... more visible anti-aging results, faster, I guess, especially as it's $65 and not an inexpensive product... I am using it on my face, neck, and decollete, twice a day, and I am going to continue using it to see if I get more "lifting" and "firming" results over time. Philosophy does suggest that for best results it should be used together with their "uplifting miracle worker instant-effect cool-lift & tightening moisturizer booster", which supposedly provides "instant results"...  and I want to try that, along with this moisturizer... Not cheap, but heck- I AM worth it! :-)  
My 94 year old mom- #CoolAger Extraordinaire!
My 94 year old mom playing golf last month...

As you can see, I received the full-size product to try from Crowdtap, which was great, because to see results with a product like this you really do have to give it a fair shot and some time to work- it's unfair to judge a product after only sampling it once or twice. I HEARTILY recommended joining Crowdtdap if you enjoy market research and giving your opinions on products- sometimes you get to try them, too!
SO: the bottom line is: YES, I really like Philosphy's uplifting miracle worker moisturizer, and the cool, firming feeling it gives, and the way my skin looks and feels after I've applied it, and YES, I'm going to keep using it! AND I'm going to lash out and buy the serum, too! :-)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Curel Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer works for my Super dry skin!

Crowdtap sample of Curel Hydra Therapy Moisturizer
I have very dry skin, including "scaly" Psoriasis on my elbows and knees, which is why I was very excited when I was selected by Crowdtap to try Curel's HydraTherapy Wet Skin Moisturizer- and I was not disappointed! In Israel, at the Dead Sea, which clears Psoriasis in 30 days, we'd rub baby oil into our skin under the showers to keep our skin moisturized, and so I am familiar with the concept of wet-skin moisturizing, but Curel's moisturizer is SO much better than greasy baby oil! It's not greasy (like baby oil), and it's absorbed readily into my wet skin. It keeps my skin moisturized, soft, and smooth, and doesn't make me itch like so many other moisturizers I have tried! And I am going to keep using it!
As you can see from the photos, my arms and hands and elbows (as well as my knees) are now all nice and smooth! No redness, no flaky, dry skin, no scales! Just nice, smooth, normal, hydrated skin! I can wear sleeveless tops again! YAY! for Curel! This is really a Great product for anyone with dry skin! 
Applying Curel Hydra Therapy Moisturizer...

I keep my Curel Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer in the bathroom on the sink, so it's ready for me when I get out of the tub! I use it every night after my bath, while my skin is warm and wet, and while I use it on my entire body, I focus on my arms and legs, as they are the driest- especially my knees and elbows, where I get "scaly" Psoriasis. I massage it in, and I don't towel off- I let it soak in. It's absorbed really quick, and it's not greasy, so there's no staining of clothing or sheets!

I have been Very pleased with all the Curel products I've tried so far (thanks to Crowdtap I was able to try their excellent "Itch Defense" products- Spray, Body Wash, and Moisturizer- products which I love and use regularly), but this is so far the best one yet!

As I've written before, Crowdtap is a great program if you are interested in giving your opinion about products, as well as being invited to sample and review them! Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments- and let me know if you've tried any Curel skin care products, and what you think of them!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

RoC Multi-Correxion Night Cream & Eye Cream: The anti-aging babe's review!

I recently had the opportunity, as a member of Crowdtap, to sample two new RoC anti-aging skin care products: their MULTI CORREXION 5-in-1 Restoring Night Cream and RETINOLCORREXION Eye Cream, both of which I've now added to my daily skin care regimen.

As many of my readers know by now, I'm an Official "Anti-Aging Product Junkie", always interested in trying the latest and greatest new products in my quest for Eternal Youth! Yes, that's a bit of a LOL, but I am serious about trying to stave off the aging of my 57 year old face (and neck and chest and hands and- hell- all of me! LOL), and so I have been using a regimen of RoC anti-aging products for some time now. Back in February of this year I did a blog post on the RoC 5-in-1 Multi Correxion Chest, Neck & Face Cream, and the results were dramatic enough that I've continued to buy and use it: 
So now, in addition to using Roc's 5-in-1 Multi Correxion Chest, Neck & Face Cream and Deep Wrinkle Serum, I've added their RoC's MULTI CORREXION 5-in-1 Restoring Night Cream and RETINOLCORREXION Eye Cream to my "arsenal" of anti-aging products, and I have to say that I'm pleased enough with both of them to go out and buy them once my samples are done! The night cream is light, but rich and very creamy, and I now use it every night, in place of another cream I was using. I like its moisturizing properties, and that a little goes a long way! The scent is very light and nice, as well, and it's not heavy, pore-clogging, or sticky. I've been using the eye cream morning and evening, also in place of another eye cream I was using, as I've found it to be a light and creamy eye cream that moisturizes very well, and again, that a little goes a very long way! The scent is very light and pleasant, and I've had NO problems with irritation- I mention this because I do know that some people have reactions to Retinol. 
As I said, I HAVE have seen excellent, visible results from RoC's 5-In-1 Chest, Neck & Face Cream, especially on my neck and decollete, so I am going to continue to use their products- and they are affordable enough that I can stick with the program! 
Not so bad for 57! :-)
That is seriously one of the best things about RoC products: that they are affordable and easy to find in stores, so you can actually afford to not only try a complete regimen, but to stick with it long-term, so you really do see results! Perusing their website I've discovered several other RoC products I want to add to my anti-aging arsenal- heck, I AM worth it! :-)
Have you tried RoC skin care products? Which ones have YOU seen great results with? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Folgers BOLD Coffeehouse Blend- we love it!

Thanks to my being a member of Crowdtap, we recently had the chance to sample and share a new coffee from Folgers: their "Coffeehouse Blend" Medium Roast. I really wanted to sample it because my husband and I both  LOVE Really Bold Coffee- and Folgers promised this coffee would be really bold- and it was! :-)
Folgers Coffeehouse Blend on our Coffee Table!
Our love of coffee is such that we have sought out interesting coffees all over the world- most notably in the Caribbean, where we especially love Alto Grande coffee from Puerto Rico, in Italy, where I lived and studied and first learned to adore coffee, and in Vietnam, where we actually took a tour through the Central Highlands coffee region with tastings of their famed coffees! "Regular" coffee in the USA is often waaaaay too bland and flavorless for us- so bland that we often refer to it as "hot water with a brown crayon"! So I'm happy to be able to say that Folgers Coffeehouse Blend is really bold, tasty, and terrific! Frankly, I don't know if we would have tried it if not for Crowdtap, and we are so glad we did! I usually only put milk or cream in my coffee (I'm sweet enough, LOL), but Dan likes his with milk and sugar, and many of our Elkhorn Inn guests like to add Folger's Flavors or other sweeteners or flavorings to their coffee, and Folger's Coffeehouse Blend stands up to all of them! It's smooth and not bitter, and "bold" really is the right word for the taste- both we and our guests like it Much better than the "regular" ground coffee we used in the past! It comes as ground coffee (in the canister pictured with my happy hubby and his coffee!), in "brick" bags, and as K-Cup Pods; as we usually use our coffee-maker to make coffee, the ground coffee is perfect or us.

This is how my sample of Folgers Coffeehouse Blend arrived from Crowdtap. Crowdtap really is a great program- thanks to being an active member, I've been able to sample a variety of great new products that I didn't even know existed, and most of them have become things we now buy regularly! Check it out, sign up, and join in the fun!

One of the things I like to do if there's leftover coffee is make coffee ice cubes. You can, of course, make them in a regular ice cube tray (or even freeze coffee in a glass, which I do sometimes, too...), but I got a cute little silicone ice cube tray online that turns out totally adorbs coffee bean shaped ice cubes, and that way when I make ice coffee (my "summer staple", as it were), I can cool it without diluting it! And Folgers Coffeehouse Blend coffee is great that way! Try it- you'll love it!
Folgers Coffeehouse Blend Ice Coffee!

Coffee bean ice cube tray

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

#Chef Dan Makes Kabobs with the Cave Tools Kabob Set!

#Chef Dan recently had the opportunity to test CaveTools Kabob Set at the Elkhorn Inn, and he (and I) were More than pleased with it- it is truly well-designed, and an excellent and EASY way to make perfect kabobs every time! He'd never actually used a "Kabob Set" before- only skewers, placed on the grill, with all the mess that entails: meat and veggies falling off the skewers into the coals, food getting stuck on the skewers or stuck to the grill, and the kabobs getting unevenly cooked... and so he made kabobs very infrequently. This great set made it MUCH better and SO much easier- and now he's using it all the time and getting "creative" with his kabobs! AND CAVE TOOLS GIVES A LIFETIME SATISFACTION GUARANTEE ON THEIR PRODUCTS! How cool is that?!

Keep reading to find out how to get 15% off on your Cave Tools Kabob Set!

This is how the set looks when it arrives- you get a nice, heavy grooved stainless steel rack that sits the perfect height off the grill, and 5 good, sharp, flat 12" skewers that fit perfectly onto the rack- and each skewer has an attached sliding disc that makes it SO easy to slide the kabob off onto a plate!
You also get a card with a link to tons of great recipes AND video tutorials that will truly make you a "Grill Master"!

 The first Kabob Chef Dan made was Grilled Chicken  & Veggies. First he cut up the chicken into chunks and marinated them in white wine and lemon juice over night in the fridge- the bowl of marinated chicken chunks is on the right of the photo.

Then he cut up red bell peppers and onions.
He slid the chicken chunks, pepper and onion slices, and cherry tomatoes onto the Cave Tools kabob skewers and set them on the rack...
Sliding the chicken and veggies onto the skewers...

Cave Tool Kabobs, ready for the grill!

The flat skewers are made so you can easily rotate them and they will stay in place- so you never get kabobs that are only done on one side, or are burnt on one side and raw on the other!

Kabobs on the grill!


You can serve the kabobs on the skewers...

Or easily slide them off, thanks to the little disc!

A wonderful (and easy and fast) summer dinner of grilled chicken and veggie kabobs, served with smoky, grilled sweet corn! YUM-O!

The second kabob he made was Vietnam-Style Pork Kebobs, using a delicious, spicy marinade he often uses for grilled pork chops. He marinaded chunks of pork tenderloin in a mixture of chopped garlic and fresh ginger, Chinese Five Spice powder, turmeric, coarse-ground Vietnamese black pepper, cayenne and Vietnamese hot pepper, a bit of Kosher salt and sugar, vegetable oil, and soy sauce, overnight in the refrigerator.
An hour before grilling he added freshly ground Star Anise to the marinade.
Then he cut up fresh pineapple into cubes, and slicd an onion, and slid the marinated pork chunks, dates, pineapple and onion slices onto the Cave Tools skewers.
The Cave Tools skewers and rack allow you to line everything up nicely and see how they will look, and the rack holds them in place on the grill so things don't fall into the coals, and you can turn them easily so everything gets evenly grilled!

This time he turned the skewers the long way, so that the little Weber Grill would totally close...

Kabobs & Rack on our little Weber Grill

He basted them with the marinade while they grilled...

The kebobs after grilling- perfect and pretty!

Dinner! Vietnam-Style Grilled Pork Kabobs, served over rice! 
(He cooked down the marinade to make a delicious sauce to mix with the rice!)

In short, the Cave Tools Kabob Set is an EXCELLENT buy. It's well made, sturdy, and stands up to repeated use, washing (it's dishwasher safe, too), and grilling, and the skewers don't get bent out of shape. The grooves in the rack hold the kebob skewers steady and just the right distance apart, and the right height from the grill, too. You can use it in the oven, too! The set makes it really easy and fast to make five perfect kabobs at a time, and once cooked, they slide off the skewers easy and fast. We love ours!

Where to buy the Kabob Set on Amazon:

Where to buy the Kabob Set on the Cave Tools website:

We have been truly impressed with all the Cave Tools we have used at the Elkhorn Inn- their Smoker Box, BBQ Tongs, and now their Kabob Set. Cave Tools are truly superior to any other grilling and BBQ products we've used- and the price is right, too!
What great kabobs are you going to make this summer with your Cave Tools Kabob Set??