Archive for What’s In The Bag?

(Un)real Candy

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a bzzagent, and occasionally get new products for free or at a discount in exchange for sharing my honest opinion of them with others.

My most recent bzzcampaign was for (un)real candy! I was really excited about this since I haven’t gotten a bzzcampaign in a while and because I love candy (even though I don’t eat it that often). What’s different about (un)real candy is that they don’t use hydrogenated oils, artificial dyes or preservatives. Their mission is to make candy less bad for you and maybe even taste better.

I got one coupon for a free 1.3 – 1.7 oz candy, and a several buy one get one free coupons. Using the coupons I purchased every type of (un)real available at my local CVS. The official names are (un)real 77,   8 and 54, but I’ll be referring to them as knock off reese’s, snickers and peanut M&Ms respectively.

Some one took the square root of a negative, things are no longer real. AWWW YEAH!!

I’ll start with the knock off Snickers.

nice, but needs more peanuts.

Now for the knock off M&M’s…

the natural dyes remind me of easter eggs for some reason

And I didn’t take a picture of the knock off Reese’s so I’ll share my opinion now. One thing I noticed about each of these candies is that they didn’t taste as sugary or sweet as their main competition, and all of the chocolate tasted more like dark than milk. I am a fan of this. I was also able to recognize most of the ingredients on the wrapper. I was delighted to see the dyes used for the chocolate covered peanuts came from beets, turmeric and red cabbage. Cane sugar and agave were the main sweeteners.

I could tell the difference between them and their competition, but my boyfriend couldn’t right off the bat. It’s probably because I eat more candy, or I might have more refined taste buds. Who knows? You’ll have to give them a try yourself if you really want to know.

Why You Shouldn’t Like This:

  • They cost a tad more than their main competition, and are smaller.
  • The number “names” for their candy are stupid and hard to remember.
  • (Un)real 8 needed more peanuts.
  • If they’re taking the “healthier” route, it’d be nice if they added some vegan options in there. Especially since I’ve found a lot of vegan knock off packaged foods are full of “questionable” ingredients.

Overall I did like these, and will be using the rest of my coupons on myself if I don’t give them away.  I prefer candy with less sugar. One of the things I’ve always wondered is why they couldn’t just make things like candy and soda with less sugar to begin with. I prefer it so much more to nasty fake sugar that has a godawful after taste. If you know me personally and would like some of the coupons, hit me up, if not… more for me 😀

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(Comic) Book Review: Erstwhile

Not too long ago I took part in a kick starter campaign for Erstwhile, which is a webcomic that illustrates lesser known fairy tales. These are the ones that haven’t been made into movies, and that you’ll end up reading different versions of in each fairy tale book you pick up. That’s something I’ve always been into, probably from the time I was five or six years old.

The irony here is that I haven’t read all of the stories online, and that I only kicked in because I’ve been following another webcomic, Red String,  by one of the authors/illustrators Gina Biggs, for at least 5 years. She promised extra updates if they surpassed their goal by a certain amount, I liked the little I did read of Erstwhile, and I knew some of the money had to help support her comics, so I chipped in $20 to get a hard copy of the book. $10 would have gotten me a pdf, but I figured if I was going to donate I might as well get myself a physical copy of what I was supporting. In the end they didn’t surpass their goal by the amount they wanted, but came close enough that we did get a some extra updates 😀

But anyway, my awesome package came in the other day so now we have this review!

I was not expecting the book to be hard cover, I was already pleasantly surprised by that. And I forgot about the bonus bookmark and post cards I was promised! They’re adorable!

Stories featured in this book that I have read *some* version of in the past are: 

Maid Maleen, The Farmer’s Clever Daughter (this story is amazing, if you have not read it, please do so, I LOVE THAT GIRL), All Fur, The Sweet Porridge and A Tale With a Riddle (I read a similar much longer version).

Stories I read for the first time in this book: 

The Bird, the Mouse & the Sausage, The Little Shroud and The Old Man & his Grandson

What I liked about this collection of stories is that more of them focused on heroines who were able to advance themselves, or rescue themselves, through their own wit coupled with some good fortune. I know of many more folk tales that have this theme, even of some where the princess has to “rescue” the prince, and they really should get more attention (and from what I’ve been led to believe, that was part of the reason Erstwhile was started.) They serve as much better role models for young girls and these are stories that make you think. I love how folk tales like they ones they’ve illustrated always feature clever solutions or cunning tricks, or even just weird things that make you think. You probably won’t get what I mean by that if you’ve never been exposed to any folk tales of the sort.

Why You Shouldn’t Like This: 

  • I get that they were trying to be multicultural with some of the stories by including people of different races and colors, but I’d prefer if they illustrated Native American, African, South American, Asian and other folk tales so that their cultures are really represented. Or, they could stick with European stories, but mix up the races instead of just going with one (only one story did this), kind of like the Cinderella movie with Whitney Houston and Brandy (which was amazing if you have yet to see it).
  • The retail price of the book is $20, which is pretty steep on a student’s budget. I could see more people going for a $10 soft cover version. But if you follow the comic and want to support it, $20 doesn’t feel like that much.
  • I wish it was longer!!

And that’s it, I really don’t have anything bad to say about this. I truly love the authors for giving these “lesser known” stories more attention, because they *need* more attention. Even if you don’t want to buy the book, I reeeeeeally recommend checking out the webcomics, which are available to read for free, online. I’m speaking more about Red String now when I say that it really is updated regularly, which is no small feat, I can’t tell you how many webcomics I’ve dropped over the years because updates became terribly sporadic or just stopped all together.

I only hope that I’ll be able to make it to Otakon one year (or that she can make it up to NYCC) so I can have Gina Biggs autograph my copy, and so I can tell her how much I love her comics (and regular updates!) in person.

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Fabric Shopping Haul

So yesterday, Scott and I went to Jamaica Avenue to go fabric shopping. Stores in Manhattan were too damn expensive, and Corona/Jackson Heights has more polyesters and prints than solid cottons.  Needless to say it was an epic success, aside from being accosted by 40/50 something white people that wanted “a socialist alternative to Obama and Romney.” I really don’t understand why these people just don’t move to Canada or Europe and quit their bitching. Anyway, onto my haul!

The colors didn’t come out too well in the pictures I just took (with or without flash), but you get the idea. Anyway, details of our haul.

Maroon and pink cotton – $4 a yard, got it at a fabric store that was going out of business. Spent: $12

Ribbons – purple was $1 for 3 yards,  beige was $1 for 5 yards. Spent: $3

Fake Fur – $10 a yard. Spent: $10

Not pictured was a pink v-neck shirt I got for $1 that I can probably mod into Holo’s season 2 top if I have a panic attack trying to make it myself. Also not pictured was the awesome green corduroy Scott got for Lawrence’s vest (spent $3), and some matching thread (spent $1).

In total we spent around $30. Feels awesome. I still need to get some more matching thread, and some sort of white felt for the inside of Holo’s ears. Wasn’t gonna spend $10 on a yard of white furn when I need so little of it. I’m planning on painting those parts white or using white hair spray if I can’t find a small piece of white fur at a craft store or something.

Now the challenge is to churn out as much as possible in the next two weeks 😀

Edit: My ears should be done soon! Hell yeas!

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Care Package from Christal!

My awesome friend Christal (who’s blog you can read here)  had informed me a little while ago that I she sent me something, which confirmed my suspicions a while earlier when she asked me about colors that I liked. But I hardly expected that she put together a care package!!!

all of this awesome came out of one tiny box!

I love that the fire can be mistaken for a carrot ^^

I am baffled at how she managed to find so many awesome things and put them all together!!! It’s made my life a tad bit more awesome, although it (sponge-bob band-aids included) cannot remedy the recent wound I have suffered: textbook purchases. But I shall save that for another post!

In other news I recently finished reading part I of Atlas Shrugged and my dogs are adorable! Hooray for capitalism and doggies!

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Another Trip To A Closing Blockbuster

As I had mentioned in a previous post, all of my local Blockbuster’s are closing. Today I went with Scott to one of them after I got done doing my class observations.It was pretty sad to see how empty this one was. Most of the movies they had left were crap, but I found a few good things.

The Rocker – I caught bits and pieces of this movie on cable. It stars the guy who plays Dwight on the office. The parts I saw were pretty funny, or at least funny enough for me to feel that this film was worth they $3 they were charging for it.

Vampires Suck – I never got a chance to see this. Being a spoof film, I know it has a 50% chance of sucking, but $3 is cheaper than a bootleg. So I went for it.

Team Jacob Candy Hearts or crap of the like – originally these were $2. I got them for 70 cents. This was the only kind of candy they had left. I think that these will be fun to throw at people. The descriptions on the box are full of lulz, and if they end up tasting good it’s only a plus.

B-list movie backers – You know those paper things with pictures of the movie’s box art? They were 5 cents each. Scott got a bunch of ones for B-list movies that looked ridiculous and I got a few that had Michael Cera on them for my sister and her friend (her friend is into Cera)

I spent roughly $7.50 on the whole deal.. and as happy as I am that I got this stuff cheap, I’m still pretty sad to see all these Blockbusters closing 😦

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NYC Vegetarian Food Festival!

Today Scott and I went to the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival in Chelsea. I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian but I wanted to go because admission was free and I was curious about what they would have.While waiting online to get in I started to worry about what I was getting myself into after seeing a bunch of hipsters and parents who had dressed their kids up in shirts promoting being vegan and not wearing fur. But after I went inside I felt totally fine.There were representatives from vegan and vegetarian companies and restaurants, meditation groups and animal rescue organizations. There were also lots of free samples!

One of the first things I tried was some raw vegan icecream from Raw IceCream Company.

No carrageenan! Hooray!

I tried their mint chocolate chip flavor. It tasted a bit more like cookie dough than ice cream. Then Scott and I bought a scoop if their chocolate ice cream for a dollar. It was pretty good and didn’t melt as fast as regular ice cream, though it did have a bit of a taste, but it wasn’t a bad taste at all. Two other vegan icecreams that I was able to try were Coconut Bliss and Organic Nectar’s Cashewtopia. Both were really good, but out of the three Coconut Bliss was my favorite! It had somewhat of a grainy texture, but tasted wonderful.

I got the chance to try some vegan sushi courtesy of Beyond Sushi by Espirit Events.

 

vegan sushi!

In all honesty, this was way better than I expected it to be. I was thrilled that they had some that were rolled in soy paper instead of seaweed because I’m allergic to seaweed. It was the best piece of sushi that I ever had in my life, and I’m not exaggerating. The piece I tied had brown rice instead of white rice, and I was surprised at how good it was… normally I can’t stand brown rice.  I’m definitely planning on going to one of Beyond Sushi’s locations as soon as I find one.

 

Then there were vegan marshmallows and baked goods, but most of them had carrageenan so I didn’t try them. But they were cute so I took pictures.

Two other interesting things I got a chance to try were raw chocolate and kombuncha (fermented carbonated tea). I had tried kombuncha in the past and thought it tasted awful. Today I gave it another go and both brands that I tried Bao and Kombuncha Brooklyn tasted great! They had nice flavors with a little bitterness as opposed to the pure bitterness my first experience with kombuncha had.  Raw chocolate was something new and interesting. It’s considered raw because they don’t roast the beans over a certain temperature, giving it a taste much closer to that of the original cocoa bean. It has a somewhat fruity taste to it. I tried raw chocolate from a few places but Gnosis was the only place that I got a card from. I would’ve bough some, but most of these places were charging at least $5 for a bar. As far as non-raw chocolates go, Rescue Chocolate was giving out samples. They donate 100% of their profits to a different animal rescue each month. For April they’re donating their profits to a rabbit rescue.

There are many more things I could write about, but now I’m just going to say what I bought. A lot of things there were pricey, but I managed to find these reasonably priced items.

Wholesome Creations Green Tea/Ginger dressing: I sampled a few of their dressings and this one was pretty good. It was only $3 for a 10oz glass bottle so I went for it.

Peeled Organic – much-ado-about-mango and paradise found: It’s some dried fruit. The samples were delicious. The first one is just dried mango and the second is a mix of dried mango, pineapple and banana. Normally I detest bananas but I found that they didn’t taste so bad in dried form. It was $5 for the two bags.

Nutivia – Hemp Chocolate Organic Bar: I couldn’t resist. Alright, I probably could resist but it was only $1. Plus I can have fun sharing it with John and Peter during free hour this week.

Overall, we had an awesome time. But we ended our time in the city completely non-vegan. On the way to the train we saw this:

 

that's right, $1 a slice

If that’s what these guys charge for pizza, they truly are bros! You could get two slices and a can of soda for $2.75 or get one pepperoni or mushroom slice for $1.50.

I would say that’s all, but the best thing to happen today was hearing Scott say, “I wouldn’t mind being a vegetarian in the future,” and then seeing him bullshit his response, then eventually say yes, when I asked if he said that because in the past he though all vegetarian food tasted bad or was extremely boring. I don’t think I’ll ever go vegetarian, but when I’m living on my own I want to not eat meat frequently. The meat that I will eat will come from animals that had happy lives and weren’t confined to small pens. I’d like my eggs and dairy to come from kind sources as well. Anyway, that’s all for now!

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All My Local Blockbusters Are Closing

I first dealt with this a number of years ago when Blockbuster still rented tapes. The one that was within walking distance of my house closed, for reasons unknown to me as Netflix did not exist at the time. But it was still sad. I can still remember my days in elementary school when Blockbuster really gave a shit about its customers. Every so often (or if you rented enough) they’d give you a movie night snack box with a bunch of samples in it. We got a large yellow popcorn bowl from them and one October me and my sister got free trick-or-treat buckets from them along with Halloween safety information. But those days were long gone before that Blockbuster closed.

Anyway, since the one we’ve been going to for new releases (as Netflix doesn’t have them and Time Warner is a fucking ripoff) is closing in April, they started selling off everything in the store now! Time for a Blockbuster edition of What’s in the Bag? Yes, I am blatantly stealing the idea from Peter.

Games (10% off)

Bioshock – I’ve heard that this game oozes Ayn Rand’s philosophy, so I thought I’d give it a try. If I don’t like it, my father or sister might.

Beautiful Katamari – Because I loved Katamari Damacy.. and this game was for the 360.. and we have a 360!

Movies ($10 each for the most part) My sister was the one to get more of these.. as $10 is a bit too expensive for me.

Monster’s Ball – My sister is collecting all of Heath Ledger’s movies. This is one of them.

Carrie – My sister hasn’t mentioned it but she may or may not be starting a Stephen King collection. Otherwise, it is a nice modern horror classic.

Nightmare on Elm St. 6 – Honestly I have no idea why she got this one. She claims that she needs it for one of her collections, but unless Johnny Depp is in that one, I have no idea what collection of hers it fits into.

Random Crap (20-30% off)

King Size Kit-Kat – yes I admit this was a damn impulse buy. Don’t judge me. I haven’t had a Kit-Kat since November and I need to gain about 10lbs.

Jiffy Pop – My sister was pissed we’ve never experienced it, and my Dad would probably enjoy it.

Jack Skellington Fleece Blanket – My sister and I were torn between the Jack blanket and Jack snuggie which were both the same price. But we each have snuggies already and figured the blanket would be a bit more practical.

That’s all for now. Hopefully those cheap asses will slash the prices on their movies so we can go back and buy a ton more 😀

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