Archive for the ‘Easy’ category

No, Arm & Hammer is not paying me

June 5, 2011

I’ve never really liked my hair. It frizzes so easily. But lately, I’ve disliked it more than usual. I think it all started when I got a perm in January. I started using a special leave-in conditioner to keep my hair moisturized. The problem is I think it led to product buildup on my scalp (I probably should have just used it on the ends of my hair).

I stopped using the leave-in conditioner, yet the buildup wouldn’t go away. It was so annoying– I always felt like my hair was so dirty (even right after showering). I would just put it up in a ponytail so I didn’t have to deal with it. Finally, I decided to research how to fix the problem. I simply looked online, and came across tons of sites advocating baking soda.

So, this morning I put a small amount of shampoo in my hand, and added a quarter-size amount of baking soda. I mixed the two together, and lathered them into my hair. I was sure to rub the mixture across every inch of my scalp, as well as rub as much hair as possible. I also made sure to thoroughly wash the mixture out of my hair.

I blow dried my hair and voila, the buildup was entirely gone (I could actually feel it was gone when my hair was still damp). I feel so great today, and am thinking of wearing my hair down (this is a big deal for me!). Yeah, I’m so happy to have discovered baking soda as a hair product. My only question is: How often should I used it? Also, should I supplement it with a clarifying shampoo (another piece of advice on the Internet)?

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My first BzzAgent review: about.me

May 23, 2011

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently started working as a copywriter for a social marketing company called BzzAgent. Also known as a word-of-mouth marketing company, BzzAgent enlists hundreds of thousands of “agents” to discuss brands and products (L’Oreal, Michelin, and Unilever are just a few of its clients).

The agents receive free products, free services, and discounts. I signed up to be an agent (also called a “BzzAgent”) to see what’s it’s all about (you can do so as well). After filling out some surveys, I was invited to the “about.me” campaign. About.me lets you put multiple online profiles (including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Flickr profiles) in one place.

I created an about.me page at about.me/christinelaubenstein. You decide which profiles and/or links you want to include on your page. I added my Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, Vimeo, YouTube, and Tumblr accounts (granting about.me access to my posts, updates, videos, etc.), but I declined to allow access to my Facebook info (including profile information, status updates, and friends’ photos).

For me, my Facebook page is a relatively private space I don’t want strangers to see. I did, however, opt to add a link to my Facebook page (in case someone wants to friend me). You can link to other pages if you’d like, or add other profiles (Blogger, Posterous, Flickr, TypePad, Formspring, Last.fm, Daily Booth, and Instagram).

You can also personalize your background, font colors, fonts, and biography. Other features include statistics about your accounts and about.me page, ideas for promoting your about.me page, and a place to add your favorite about.me pages. I haven’t yet used all these features, but I’ll still provide my initial thoughts about about.me:

  • It’s a neat idea. Unless you have your own website/blog, I don’t know of any service that lets you list such a wide variety of profiles (LinkedIn, for example, just has fields for three websites, your Twitter account, and your IM screen names). Not to mention the other services don’t let you see content from all your accounts.
  • I like how you can personalize your page.
  • It’s good from an SEO standpoint. You can use about.me to submit your about.me page to Bing, Google, and Yahoo. I did this about two weeks ago, and at least for Google my about.me page already appears on the second page of search results when my name is queried. So creating an about.me page can help push down negative links (if you have them, of course).
  • I’m not sure sure how much time I’ll devote to my page. I have a personal blog and professional website that already allow me to add my Tumblr, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. info. So if I have these sites I’ve already invested in, why do I need about.me? I guess I could use about.me to have all my content in one place. But at this point, I don’t see a huge benefit. Clicking on a link to access my content (at its source) takes one second.

Bell pepper and onion quiche

May 22, 2011

My bell pepper and onion quiche

I made this Food.com recipe last week, and it turned out really great. You can use a refrigerated pie crust if you’d like (as opposed to one from scratch). Just bake the crust for five minutes, and then add your filling. The filling includes a cheese mixture (cheddar cheese and flour), sauteed bell peppers and onions, eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Bake the quiche for 35 to 45 minutes and voila, you have a tasty treat to last you all week!

Yummy banana bread

May 3, 2011

I made some last night. I didn’t have a regular bread pan so I used this square pan.

The pan worked just fine. Here’s what two of the bread slices looked like.

I got my recipe from the Food Network’s website. It’s really quite easy. You cream together sugar and butter, and then beat in two eggs. In another bowl you mash up three bananas and add milk and cinnamon. In a third bowl you mix together your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). You add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture, followed by the the dry ingredients. After mixing everything up, you pour the batter into a buttered pan, and bake it for an hour or so.

The recipe calls for a stick of butter, but I only had a half-stick. Surprisingly, the banana bread still tasted great. In the future, I may continue to leave out the extra half-stick of butter.

Peach Riesling sangria

April 17, 2011

Me drinking peach Riesling sangria

A few weeks ago I made sangria for the first time. I hadn’t heard back from a sangria-making friend of mine about how she makes it, so I researched recipes online. I wanted to find one that didn’t involve adding sugar, fancy alcohols, or carbonated beverages. I came across a recipe that fit all of these requirements; it also included Dole peach/mango/orange juice, one of my favorite 100-percent juices. An added benefit was it called for Riesling, a wine type I highly enjoy.

The recipe is from an Illinois wine and cheese shop’s website (it’s the third recipe on the page). The first ingredient is two bottles of Riesling (it calls for a specific Riesling, but I just picked one that was very affordable). I actually bought two 1.5-liter bottles of Riesling, as I was making the recipe for a fair amount of people. You mix the wine with frozen raspberries, orange pieces, peach pieces, lemon pieces, and some of the juice (check the recipe for quantities). You cover the drink, refrigerate it, and serve it cold.

My grocery store didn’t have peaches, so I replaced them with mangoes (but I can still call my concoction “peach Riesling sangria” because it contained peach juice). I was very happy with the outcome and would highly recommend the recipe to anyone.

I can be pretty low-maintenance when it comes to food

March 6, 2011

I look in my fridge, take out some Tupperware containers, and make up a plate like this:

Triscuit crackers, nicoise olives, cheddar cheese, asparagus, and dried fruit

 

Looking to save some money? One solution is making your own iced coffee.

January 31, 2011

My fiance drinks iced coffee pretty much every day, and he used to only buy it from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, or another coffee shop. But now he’s primarily making his own. It’s easy to make, it tastes comparably good, and it’s clearly saving us money.

We put hot coffee in this thermos (after making the coffee in our trusty Mr. Coffee machine), place the thermos in the fridge, and after an hour and a half the coffee is ready. Just add ice and voila, you're set.

Let’s see about how much we’re saving. I would say that an iced coffee, on average, costs $1.80 at a coffee shop. Let’s hold that thought for a minute. Now, yesterday I bought a 33.9-ounce container of Chock full o’ Nuts coffee for $7. According to Kmart’s website, 33.9 ounces of coffee can make up to 270 cups of coffee. Well, since we like our coffee fairly strong, we’ll say the canister makes 200 cups of coffee.

Seven dollars divided by 200 is 3.5 cents. So making our own iced coffee costs us 3.5 cents per cup, compared with $1.80 at a coffee shop. That’s a savings of about $1.76 per cup, and a savings of about $642 over the course of a whole year (provided you drink one iced coffee a day). That’s fairly significant, I’d say. While making your own iced coffee requires you to think ahead, you also save gas money (by not having to drive to a coffee shop), and help out the environment (by not using and throwing away a plastic coffee container).