Gel Polish Clearance!

Hey Bargain Shoppers!

One of local Walgreens has the SensatioNail gel polishes on clearance! Mind you, only a few of the shades were marked down, but several of them were shades I have been pining for. The best part? They’re 50% off– taking them down to only $5.99 each. Ahh…. warm fuzzies!

Here is a photo of the SensatioNail display; quite a few colors are marked down! Does anyone know why?

Orange Walgreens tags are ALWAYS a problem. But the best kind of problem.

Orange Walgreens tags are ALWAYS a problem. But the best kind of problem.

When the cashier rang up the polishes, only one polish came up on clearance; the others rang up at full price. Since the specific colors I had were all marked with orange tags on the display, the cashier did a price override. So, these beauties weren’t even six dollars apiece:

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SO EXCITED!

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Names of the polishes

I can’t wait to use these. What color do you think I should do this week? I’m leaning towards Royal Ruby, since I have a job interview on Tuesday.

A few people at Nouveau Cheap spotted these polish markdowns as well. Perhaps it’s time to stock up! I just recently found Nouveau Cheap’s blog (which has the ‘scoop on discount cosmetics’). That blog may end up being a big problem for me! Eek!

Happy bargaining!

Rachel

Banana Carrot Pulp Muffins

This was our second favorite muffin recipe from this past week. I’ve now made it twice: once with regular carrot pulp and once with carrot puree (used in the Chocolate Deceit Muffin recipe). While I fully expected the carrot puree to win out, but I think I prefer this recipe with plain ol’ juice pulp. When I make it next, I will update you on the tie-breaking results.

I ambushed Rob and my parents with these muffins, looking for some feedback. We all gave them a thumbs up, I think a solid B. After tweaking the ingredients, I think they will be well on their way to five star status. What we especially liked was that they were tasty (obviously) but also really, really filling. We found that a couple hours after we’d had our juice, and our stomachs were starting to rumble, one muffin would help hold us over.

This recipe was adapted from Healthy Banana Carrot Muffins. The photos of Kimberly’s muffins looked like EXACTLY what I wanted, so her recipe was the one I chose. The only substitutions that I made were 1) applesauce for oil, 2) the addition of another banana (since I had two that were about to go bad), and 3) juice pulp/puree for the shredded carrots. I think I may go back and make Kimberly’s recipe EXACTLY as she made it, since her muffins are much prettier than mine.

Ingredients (makes approximately 12 muffins)

  • 1 Egg (Kimberly notes that the eggs should be ‘slightly beaten’ — but I just poured Better’n Eggs in and hoped for the best)
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 3 tablespoons Unsweeted Apple Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 2 Bananas, pureed*
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Carrot Pulp or puree
  • 1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar

* Since I love my Ninja, I went ahead and dropped the two bananas in it to make puree.

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Banana puree with the wet ingredients in a bowl in the background.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add the wet ingredients (eggs, applesauce, vanilla, milk, banana, and carrot) in one bowl. Mix them together.
  • Add the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients. Then, mix mix mix.
  • Lightly grease the muffin pans or use muffin liners. Divide the batter into 12.
  • Bake the muffins until they pass the toothpick test (insert a toothpick into the middle and it comes out of the muffin clean). For me, baking them took between 30-40 minutes (the original recipe said 20 – 25 minutes).
  • Allow the muffins to cool. Then, commence with nom-ing.

I took a before and after photo of the muffins. I added oats on a few of them for decoration.

Muffin batter.

Muffin batter.

Done muffins.

Done muffins.

 

I will update you when I tweak this recipe more. The first batch, with the carrot pulp, really was better. Let’s see how the next batch goes.

Happy muffin-ing,

Rachel

An Open Letter to the Pinterest Team

Dear Pinterest Team members:

I love, love, love your website. Almost too much, if you can imagine that. I spend hours scrolling through the never-ending buffet of images and links in PinLand. This had, up until a couple of weeks ago, resulted in around 3,000 unsorted “Likes” on my page, at all times. One night, a fit of boredom, I decided to organize them; pin the keepers, and unlike the rejects. This decision lead me to an important discovery: the format of the “Pin It” pop up page had changed! It was infinitely better!! It allowed me to type the first few letters of existing boards to find it (instead of having to scroll through the entire list). Making new boards was a breeze! There was even a “Recently Used” section. It was complete internet-hoarding organizational bliss! Before I knew it, I’d spent my entire evening, literally, sorting pins with new-found “Pin It” fever.

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I couldn’t have put it so well myself.

And then, something devastating happened. I returned to Pinterest today with a specific goal in mind: to organize more of my Likes! But, lo and behold, the Pin It page had returned to its former self. This is a Pin-strosity! (I know you see what I did there)

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Nooooooooooooo!

Could it be?! I thought Pinterest had done away with this version of the Pin It page. The other version of this page was SO MUCH BETTER; infinitely easier to work with, a pleasure to spend time with. I was inconsolable, so I went to the Popular category in an attempt to drown out my disappointment (finding more than a few posts to like in the process). For now, my unsorted Likes are awaiting some love, but I’m refusing to revisit this sad and sorry version of the Pin It page. It this a temporary change?! Can I “opt” into the formatting awesomeness?! Can the Pin It page be restored to its former glory?! Someone, anyone, please enlighten me on this subject.

It just occurred to me how ridiculous this post is. I’m going to have to start attending Pinners Anonymous meetings, since I don’t have it in me to boycott such a fabulous website,

Rachel

Chocolate Deceit Muffins (Made with juice pulp! Gasp!)

These muffins are the best kind of lie; I couldn’t keep the recipe to myself anymore! The fact that I was able to sneak carrot and apple pulp into these muffins (as the main ingredient, no less) completely made my week. I mean, seriously, no one knew that there was juice pulp in those muffins but me; hence the name “Chocolate Deceit Muffins”.

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C’mon, would you guess that these are ALMOST healthy?!

Since I am NOT a baker of any kind, I also want to credit the writer whose recipe inspired my muffins. Rita at Mochachocolata Rita originally posted this Chocolate Carrot Cake Recipe. I found the recipe on Pinterest as the only Chocolate Carrot Loaf (though, the lack of results may be a result of my impatience, not for the lack of recipes). After a few tweaks, Rita’s recipe morphed into the Chocolate Deceit Muffins that I’m writing about today Wee!

Ingredients (makes approximately 12 muffins)

  • 2 Eggs (I used the equivalent with Better’n Eggs, since that’s what we had in the fridge)
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons Unsweetened Apple Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Carrot Pulp Puree (This required me to add water to the carrot pulp to get the texture I wanted. See the notes/photos below*)
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder** (see additional note below)
  • 2 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder**
  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder (I use low sodium baking powder because of my boyfriend’s heart condition)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt (I used NoSalt Salt Substitute)
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips (a few for the top of each muffin. This is optional)

*A couple notes on the Carrot Pulp Puree:

I packed as much carrot pulp into 1 cup as I possibly could. I then dumped it into my Ninja.

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1 cup of carrot pulp into the Ninja

I added some water and blended the carrot pulp. I repeated this process until the pulp was an acceptable texture. With the added water, 1 packed cup of carrot pulp made 1 and 1/2 cups of carrot pulp puree.

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Carrot pulp + water = carrot pulp puree!

** The original recipe called only for unsweetened cocoa powder, but I personally love special dark cocoa powder, so I did a little mix-y mix-y action for this recipe. Use whichever cocoa powder you prefer.

Instructions (remember, I’m not a baker, so these may not be considered proper techniques!)

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Make 1 and 1/2 cups of carrot pulp puree
  • Add the wet ingredients (eggs, applesauce, vanilla, and carrot puree) in one bowl. Mix them.
  • Add the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa powder) in with the wet ingredients. Then, mix mix mix.
  • Lightly grease your muffin pans or use muffin liners. Divide the batter into 12.
  • Add the chocolate chips to the top of the muffins (optional).
  • Bake the muffins until they pass the toothpick test (insert a toothpick into the middle and it comes out of the muffin clean). For me, baking them took between 30-40 minutes.
  • Allow the muffins to cool. Then, commence with nom-ing.

I took a few photos for you while I was baking!

Wet ingredients. Yummy!

Wet ingredients. Yummy!

Starting to add the cocoa powder (note the dark and regular cocoa)

Starting to add the cocoa powder (note the dark and regular cocoa)

Wet and dry ingredients combined!

Wet and dry ingredients combined!

Batter with chocolate chips into the muffin tins

Batter with chocolate chips into the muffin tins

I really, really, REALLY hope that you enjoy these muffins as much as I did! Let me know what you think of them!

Deceitfully yours,

Rachel

PS: I attempted to do the nutritional information on them. I may try to calculate it by hand to verify.
ChocolateMuffinNutrition

Starting the Juice Project

I’ve been vaguely interested in juicing for awhile now. Since I already make green smoothies, juicing seemed like a natural next step. However, two months ago, my interest was completely realized when a friend took me to the Original ChopShop Co. in Tempe, Arizona. After ordering not one, but two, of their Green Glory juices, I was hooked. However, I was NOT hooked on the price tag: $5.50 for 16 oz. of juice and $10 for 32 oz. My taste buds screamed “yes!”, my unemployed wallet screamed “no!”.

I was plotting how to get my hands on a juicer before we even left ChopShop’s patio. Figuring that the average juicer would set me back between $80 and $150– investing in one of my own seemed worth the mere 8 to 15 large ChopShop juices that would cost me the same. But then, I had an important thought: my parents already owned a juicer. When I called my mom to ask about it, she told me to come pick it up, as it was collecting dust in one of their cabinets. BRILLIANT.

The “Jack LaLanne Ultimate Power Juicer” now lives at our house (AKA: “The Nest”). I just used it this morning, as I was preparing to write this blog entry. Rob, my boyfriend, and I live here at the Nest. Here is what I used to make our juice for two this morning (more than enough for two people, now that I think about it):

Ingredients

  • 2 Honey Crisp Apples*
  • 1 Green Apple
  • 4 Large Carrots
  • 1 inch of Ginger Root
  • 1 Whole Cucumber
  • 1/2 a Lemon
  • 3 Heaping Handfuls of Spinach

*I have yet to see a recipe call for Honey Crisp apples. Since they’re such a delight to eat, I hadn’t remotely considered juicing them. That was until I knocked a fresh grocery bag full of them off of our counter; effectively bruising the $#*@ out of each and every apple. They then became fodder for juicing.

Here’s what I was working with this morning:

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Juicing ingredients. Nom nom nom.

First thing I’ve learned, as a juicing novice, is that it’s a-okay to leave the juicer running while re-filling the chute. Initially, I would stop and start the juicer each time I filled the chute. This caused the motor overheating after only a small glass o’juice. The trick is to juice the first round of fruit/veggies, remove the pusher, and then cover the chute with your hand while insert the next round. Seriously, make sure that you cover it, or slices of apple will be launched across your kitchen (not that I’ve experienced this.. cough cough).

My infatuation with juicing quickly lead me in an unexpected direction: leftover juice pulp. C’mon now, I took one look at the pulp and just knew that I couldn’t waste it. All of the fiber from the fruits and veggies was in there! I had to figure out something to do with it (besides throwing it out). This, of course, has led to extensive Pinterest searches. I’ve found that most common use for juice pulp is in muffins and breads. But there are also recipes for pasta filling, guacamole, crackers, and even dog treats!

This week, I tackled three separate juice pulp muffin recipes (entries to follow):

  1. Chocolate Deceit Muffins
  2. Healthy Banana Carrot Pulp Muffins
  3. Wholesome Spiced Carrot Pulp Muffins

These recipes have taught me another useful juicing practice: split up the items being juiced. For example: this morning, I juiced carrots, apples, ginger, and lemon in one basket. I removed that pulp from basket, then juiced the cucumber and spinach separately (but combined the juice to drink). Now I have car-ple-er-on pulp and cucum-nach pulp to contend with.

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Carrot and apple pulp (left), spinach and cucumber pulp (right)

Separating the carrots from the greens seemed helpful for this week’s recipes. I think I will likely be experimenting more with combining the two pulps, be sure to standby. Though, I might need to take a break from muffins. Manicotti anyone?

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It’s a little ridiculous how excited I am about juice pulp.

Hope to see you around these parts again soon,

Rachel

It’s Blog Introduction Time!

Hey there,

My name is Rachel. I just turned twenty-five and I live in Phoenix. As of the present, I am unemployed, but this is temporary. Most recently, I was a technical writer. It was fabulous. Though, my background is fairly diverse (read: sales, retail, leasing, enrollment, and transcription), my first love has always been writing.

I am not compelled to start a blog about writing; I love grammar and punctuation, but there are experts far more qualified to dish the writing dirt. That’s why I have decided to dedicate my blog to my two second loves:

  1. Bargain Hunting
  2. D.I.Y. Projects

I have a lot of respect for the saying “you get what you pay for”. But I also am always out for the best deal. This means that I tend to research most products/services/businesses waaaay too much diligently before committing one way or the other. I hope that I can share some of my finds with you.

When it comes to D.I.Y. projects, you can expect just about anything. I like crafts, home improvement and decorating, make up/nail polish, food, and mostly anything else that I realize I can “do myself” as an alternative to purchasing/paying someone to do for me. What this also means for you, as my readers, is that a “How To” (or “How Not To”) post will inevitably follow.

I should also inform warn you: most other blogs of this nature are written by wonderful human beings, with pure minds, and delicate sensibilities. You won’t find that here. Swear words and situations that earn R-ratings are thoroughly encouraged. What’s the polar opposite of creative house wife? Shit. I don’t know. A resourceful, but crude nester? Eh, that doesn’t have much of a ring to it. I’ll brainstorm and get back you to.

In case you were curious about the title of this blog, OperationRachel was the name for my very first blog (which was mostly a journal). The tagline read “Operation Rachel: Taking on Daily Life”, which seemed appropriate for a journal but not relevant to this blog. When I decided to branch out, OperationRachel was still the handle that I gravitated toward. Now, I suppose, I am looking at each of my projects as a mission. OperationRachel also rings the irony bell, since there is something of a military theme in the title, but I’m not nearly hardcore enough for that shit.

I hope that my readers visit with me for information, ideas, but mostly, for laughs. No one here is taking themselves too seriously. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I’m not sure if you would want to, but feel free to reach out to me with any comments/ideas/thoughts. Sharing is caring, friends.

Nice to have met you,

Rachel