Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Diet Bet!

Today I decided to enter a Diet Bet. What is a Diet Bet? You join a game with a bunch of other people, and the website has two programs, Diet4 or Diet10. I'm doing the 4, which means you have to lose 4% of your total body weight in 4 weeks. You buy in for $30, and if you lose your goal weight, you get your money back AND money from people who did not meet their goals. It's a nice monetary incentive if nothing else. Some other benefits are that it's social, so if you don't have someone to support you/diet with you, there are tons of other people participating. The game I joined is being hosted by Shay Carl, a big Youtube celebrity, so the game is large and the pot is pretty big, at around $44,000.

Today was weigh-in day, which meant I had to submit these glamorous photos. The way they make sure people don't cheat is that you have to write a secret word on a card (mine is legumes), and take a picture of yourself on the scale with that card, and then a picture of the weight displayed on the scale with that card.

I'll probably keep this updated with my weigh-ins. They recommend that you weigh in every four days, so stay tuned if you'd like to read about how awful dieting is!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Olay Pro-X Review!

I have heard wonderful wonderful things about the Clarisonic facial cleanser, and I really wanted to try it to try and get rid of pesky blackheads and to hopefully reduce the amount of breakouts in general. But... if you've heard about/researched the Clarisonic, you probably know that it retails for anywhere between $100-230, and I was not interested in spending that much money on something that I didn't even know worked. Instead, I decided to try the Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing system, which retails for about $20 on Amazon. I was just about to purchase one, when I happened to go home for Spring Break, and my mom said she had gotten one that she never used. So of course I took it (yay for stealing things from your mom!)

 Unopened (of course she got it on clearance)
What's included in the box (yay for batteries!) 

What's in the box: the device, a brush head, the Olay Pro-X exfoliating renewal cleanser, and two AA batteries. As you can imagine, it's super easy to set up and use. You just put the batteries in, pop the brush head on, and it's good to go. The directions say to first wet your face, then to put the cleanser directly on your face (not on the brush), to wet the brush, and then go at it. They recommend to use this 1-2 times a day, but warn that if you have sensitive skin to try once a day and maybe not even do it that often if you experience irritation. 

How I decided to use it was to go for once a day, right before bed. My skin isn't extremely sensitive, but some things irritate it and I decided to play it safe. For the first week and a half of using it I used the cleanser it came with. It was very exfoliating and it didn't really have a smell. I was really pleased with the way my skin felt after I used it. It felt really clean without any tightness. After that week and a half I did notice that there were less blackheads on/around my nose, however, I had super bad breakouts on my forehead and cheeks. I have pretty clear skin, and this was causing me to break out a lot more than I normally do. I was pretty sure it was the cleanser, and the fact that my skin just wasn't used to it. I also looked at the ingredients of the cleanser and noticed it didn't have benzoic or salicylic acid in it, while the cleanser I normally use has salicylic. After this, I used the brush with the cleanser I normally use and noticed less breakouts right away.  

While I was concerned with my own breakouts, I was also interested in seeing how this worked for men. Will is the typical guy who doesn't take care of his skin. He's been using this (with the included cleanser) for about a month, and I've definitely noticed a difference. Not only has he had less breakouts, but his pores are definitely shrinking, and he's had way less blackheads. The only challenge with him has been getting him to stick to the nightly routine since he's never done anything like that before. 

My only complaint about this is the motor/battery system. The device has two speeds. The slower speed is far too slow, unless you have really super extremely sensitive skin. The faster speed isn't very fast, and if you apply pressure you can tell the motor is really struggling. Also, after about a month of the two of us using it, the batteries are close to dying. I would much prefer a rechargeable system (which the Clarisonic has). 

All in all, I think the brush system really helps to reduce the appearance of pores and blackheads. I'd say it's really good at deep cleaning, and getting to areas of the face you may not focus on if you're just washing it. I do think that it's safer to stick with the cleanser your skin is used to, especially if you have sensitive skin. I think that for the money (free in my case :p), this is definitely worth it, especially if you aren't sure you're going to like the experience. I don't know how the motor in the Clarisonic is, having never used one, but I'd hope that for such an expensive product it'd be more powerful. I don't think I'd be willing to spend that much money on it, but it might be a good birthday/Christmas gift? But I also think that the Olay Pro-X gets the job done just fine. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

My Sister is Going to My College!

Sorry there's no baking post this week. I was/am busy studying for midterms, and my sister came to visit me on Sunday! She was in town because she had a preview day for admitted students at Mills! I'm so excited that she's going to be going to school with me! It's great because we're three years apart, so when I'm a senior she'll be a freshman. I can't wait to share the college experience with her, not just of college in general but going to the same school. I think she'll have a lot of experiences that I didn't have, and it should be super awesome.

Another awesome thing is that she got an invitation to apply for the Hellman summer program at Mills! I don't know if that means she is actually going to attend, since we didn't have to apply when I did it, but I think it would be so cool if she was able to participate in the same program that I did!

While she was visiting we went out to eat at Homeroom, a local restaurant that serves macaroni and cheese. This place is super hipstery, which is mainly why when I really want mac and cheese I get it to go (sorry Hipsters), but they are really good about dietary restrictions (Hipster dietary restrictions). My sister is gluten-free at the moment, and this was an awesome choice because they can make most of their dishes gluten free. I think there were only two exceptions on the menu. I had the gluten-filled Smokey Bacon Mac, which is a white sauce with pieces of bacon and a really smokey flavor, and she had a Gilroy Garlic Mac with added hot dogs. That's another awesome thing about Homeroom, you can add so many things to your macaroni! They have potato chips, bread crumbs, broccoli, hot dogs, peas, tuna, bacon, and tons of other add-ins. While I may not like the atmosphere (the current craze of the 'community table' is completely terrible), the food really is delicious, and the portions are huge!

Today was the preview day, and instead of doing the actual preview-y things, she came to my classes with me (Biology and Psychology). I think she really enjoyed sitting in, and she got a really good idea of what going to class in the Fall is going to be like! I can't wait for her to go to school with me!

I have some new recipes to try, and hopefully I'll be able to do some baking this weekend (but midterms, gah!). Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Vanilla Custard with Nutmeg!

I was trying to think of something to make, something that I hadn't had in really long time. This was one of my all-time favorite things as a kid. I'm pretty sure we just made the jello kind though... So I thought I'd try out a real recipe. I of course found this on Pinterest, but the original recipe is from EvilShenanigans. I really appreciated this recipe because it was super easy, and even though it took a lot of time, it wasn't time that was actually spent doing something... I was just sitting there, waiting to eat custard...
 The ingredients (SO FEW INGREDIENTS)
 The eggs (2 whole and a yolk)
 Adding the sugar
 Then the vanilla
 Whisk until combined
 Heat the milk until it simmers
 Add it one ladleful (or spoonful if you don't have a ladle) at a time, while constantly whisking
 After all the milk had been added
 The recipe said to strain it, but I think my strainer was too big, and didn't strain enough
 Straining got some of the bubbles out, but I had to scoop out a lot more
 Poured into ramekins
 Sprinkled nutmeg on top
 Placed them in the oven, and then filled the pan with boiling water
 After they were baked at 325 for about 40 minutes
The finished product

This recipe was so fun to make, because it was so easy and there were so few ingredients. Plus I'd never made a custard before so it was new and cool. However, these didn't taste super awesome. The custard just tasted kind of bland... and I don't think I messed up (I even added a bunch of extra vanilla). I might try another recipe for this (or I might buy the jello version and save myself time and effort while knowing I'm gonna get deliciousness for sure). I liked the experience, but not the taste. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Krispy Kreme (Not At All Krispy Kreme) Donuts!

So this week, I wanted to bake something, but I had no idea what. I wasn't really having a sweet craving, so I asked Will what he felt like. He said he wanted these: Krispy Kreme copycat donuts, which of course, I found on Pinterest.  I had made these once before, and it did not go well. I think I used water that was too hot, and the yeast didn't activate properly, because the dough did not rise at all! Looking back, I also think I cooked them too quickly, the oil was too hot. So they ended up really doughy inside and too crispy on the outside, and the glaze didn't taste like donuts, it just tasted like sugar.

So, I decided to try again to see how I messed up.
 The ingredients
 First, I added the milk to near-boiling water (I added to boiling last time)
 Next was a teaspoon of the sugar
 Then the yeast. Then I let this activate
 In a separate bowl I combined the rest of the sugar, the flour, and a pinch of salt. Then cut in the butter
 The yeast actually activated this time (probably because I didn't kill it with boiling water) 
 Kneaded on a floured surface for 10 minutes

 Then I left this covered in a warm place for 1.5 hours
It actually rose! 
 While the dough was rising, we decided to go with a chocolate glaze, which was just powdered sugar, coco powder, and a couple teaspoons of milk

 Frying the first one
 The finished product. If you can't tell, the first ones cooked way too quickly. The oil was way too hot, which I didn't realize until it was too late. 
 Then we poured the glaze
The finished products

These were much better than last time, mostly because the yeast actually worked so they weren't doughy in the middle. The taste wasn't great though. They didn't taste like a real donut, a little too much dough flavor. What saved them (made them edible) was the chocolate glaze. The glaze itself tasted pretty similar to what you'd get from a donut shop. In terms of the title of the Pinterest post, these were absolutely nothing like Krispy Kreme donuts. If the flavor were to resemble anything at all it would be of the type of donut you might get in a mom & pop donut shop, very homemade tasting (and horrible in terms of donuts, not that mom & pop places make horrible donuts :p) All in all, I might try donuts again, but I'm definitely not using this recipe.