Queen Creek Olive Mill Tour and Tasting

queen_creek_olive_mill11Last week, I took my grandma to the Queen Creek Olive Mill for a blogger tour and tasting. My parents love the Olive Mill and I had been once before and really liked it (Stacie posted about our first trip here). I was so excited to hear about the event and even more excited that it was held on one of my days off.

queen_creek_olive_mill13Our tour began with an olive oil tasting, led by Perry, the owner of the Queen Creek Olive Mill. Perry told us about the history of the mill and how he got started. Perry and his wife Brenda were visiting from Detroit when they saw the abundance of olive trees and deciding to move to Arizona to make olive oil. All of the olive oil flavors they make start with extra virgin olive oil made from Arizona olive trees. The different varieties get their flavors in different ways, for example, the Meyer Lemon Olive Oil is made by cold-pressing whole lemons with the olives, and the Chile Olive Oil uses dried chiles infused in extra virgin olive oil.

queen_creek_olive_mill12During our tasting, we sampled five different flavors of olive oil and a balsamic glaze. Perry is a certified olive oil sommelier, so he taught us how to taste the olive oil correctly and what qualities to look for in the different oils. He also gave tips on what to use each oil for. We also got to sample their new limited edition Peach White Balsamic Glaze. They make a batch every spring and it sells out quickly every time. After the tasting, we went inside and saw the machines that make the oil. It was interesting to see all of the steps involved in turning olives into olive oil.

queen_creek_olive_mill14After the tour, we were treated to several different varieties of bruschetta. In addition to being an actual mill and a store, the Queen Creek Olive Mill houses a coffee shop and an eatery featuring everything from gelato and fresh bread to salads and cupcakes. It’s a nice way to showcase how the different olive oils and vinegars they make can be used in cooking.

queen_creek_olive_mill15I tasted three types of bruschetta. One was made with chardonnay herb mascarpone, green apple, and Delicate Extra Virgin Olive Oil, one with honey mascarpone, port wine grapes, Fig Balsamic, and Balanced Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and a seasonal variety using peaches. I really liked all three although the one with the grapes was my favorite.

queen_creek_olive_mill16My grandma also tried the seasonal peach bruschetta along with the hummus, Sweet Red Pepper Olive Tapenade, and Delicate Extra Virgin Olive Oil and caprese options. I was really impressed with all of the food and will definitely go back and eat there again!

queen_creek_olive_mill8After the event, we went to look around the store some more and make our purchases. The Queen Creek Olive Mill is pretty large and they really have everything you could want under one roof.

queen_creek_olive_mill5Peaches are in season right now so they had all sorts of peach products set up in one area of the store.

queen_creek_olive_mill7In addition to olive oil, they also make stuffed olives in a variety of flavors.

queen_creek_olive_mill10They do use a lot of interesting flavors you might not be familiar cooking with. I love how they supply recipe cards for the different products. Each recipe also includes a wine pairing, so you don’t have to think about anything!

queen_creek_olive_mill6In addition to their own products, the Queen Creek Olive Mill also sells many different products made by local Arizona companies, like this jam.

queen_creek_olive_mill2I was also interested in the different peanut butter flavors. How good does cinnamon honey peanut butter sound?

queen_creek_olive_millThey also sell cooking utensils and fancy bottles to put your olive oil in.

queen_creek_olive_mill9You can also pick up a bottle of wine to go with your food. The Queen Creek Olive Mill has a lot of live music on the weekends and you can purchase your wine and drink it on the grounds. They carry a lot of Arizona wines and have cute labels that tell you where they are from and how far that is from Queen Creek.

queen_creek_olive_mill4The Olive Mill even sells beauty products. Brenda makes several products under the Olivespa name using extra virgin olive oil along with other natural ingredients (she was making soap the day we visited).

queen_creek_olive_mill3You can buy Olivespa soap, lip balm, lotion, candles, body oils… all sorts of different things!

queen_creek_olive_mill19We got some of the lip balms in our gift bags at the event. Some of the scents they sell are pink grapefruit, spearmint, orange blossom, and my favorite, tangerine.

queen_creek_olive_mill20My grandma and I ended up taking quite a few things home between the gift bags and purchasing things for ourselves and as gifts. The Vanilla Bean Olive Oil is great for baking and I can’t wait to make waffles with it. The Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil is great for cooking heartier dishes. The Chocolate Olive Oil is perfect for brownies or mole sauce and it smells amazing. We brought home the Peach White Balsamic Glaze for my dad to use on salmon. The Meyer Lemon Olive Oil smells nice and fresh and is great on pasta. I didn’t buy any Roasted Garlic Olive Oil for myself but Perry suggested using it on grilled cheeses instead of butter and that’s all I’ve been thinking about ever since. The Fresh Crush Rosemary Olive Oil is made with fresh rosemary and would be tasty on vegetables or even turkey.

queen_creek_olive_mill18I picked up the Chile Olive Oil for a friend but it would be good on hummus or in scrambled eggs for a little spice. I’ve already tried the Fig Balsamic Glaze drizzled over pineapple pizza and it was amazing! I would definitely recommend trying it. We tasted the Strawberry Balsamic Glaze during the event and it was really good. It tasted a lot like strawberry jam and it would be really good on ice cream. Together we ended up with quite a few different flavors and some very happy friends!

queen_creek_olive_mill17I had so much fun at our blogger event and I can’t wait to go back to the Queen Creek Olive Mill. My mom was super jealous of us so I’m planning on taking her for her own tour. Plus, I need to grab some of that Roasted Garlic Olive Oil! I’m also excited to try some of the different foods at the eatery. Big thanks to the Queen Creek Olive Mill for a wonderful afternoon!

-Molly

P.S. I love using the Pomegranate White Balsamic Vinegar that I grabbed last time as a topper for soups (especially this one). It just gives them a little extra flavor.

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Bumble and Bumble 500-Point Sephora Perk

bumble_and_bumble_sephora_perkI recently picked up a Bumble and Bumble perk from Sephora. For 500 of my Beauty Insider points, I received the Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Family. I really like Bumble and Bumble’s hair styling products but aside from some samples of the hair oil, I hadn’t tried anything in the Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil line. The Bumble and Bumble 500-point Sephora perk included samples from the whole line of Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Products. I received travel sizes of the Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Shampoo, Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Conditioner, and Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Primer (all were 2 oz). I also received a vial of the Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil (0.07 oz).

bumble_and_bumble_sephora_perk1The value of the products wasn’t very high for 500 points (about $32) but I was excited to try them and I hadn’t liked a Sephora 500-point perk in awhile so I had plenty of points to use. The Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil line uses a blend of six oils and two extracts to smooth and tame hair, plus it protects against heat and UVA/UVB rays. It’s supposed to moisturize and add softness and shine to dry hair. My hair can be dry (at least on the ends) and although it is very thick it is also fine and can accumulate oil quickly on its roots. I really like the benefits of the Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil line but I was worried it would be too oily for my hair.

bumble_and_bumble_sephora_perk3The shampoo is sulfate free and is designed to help tame frizz and control breakage while still being lightweight. I have to admit, I usually use the inexpensive shampoos and conditioners that are supposed to be really bad for you but my hair has always been really healthy. However, I felt a big difference when I used this shampoo. It felt a lot like a clarifying shampoo and my hair felt squeaky clean after using it.

bumble_and_bumble_sephora_perk4I was surprised by the Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Conditioner. I like really thick, moisturizing conditioners and most formulas just don’t cut it. I’ve tried a few different Bumble and Bumble conditioners before but they were all too thin and light for me. This version is much thicker, and it actually feels moisturizing on my hair. It still feels very light though, and doesn’t weigh my hair down.

bumble_and_bumble_sephora_perk5The next step in the Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil routine is the Primer. This is a styling primer that can be used on damp or dry hair before styling it with heat. I’ve been using it before I blow dry my hair. It is very light and smells amazing. The entire Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil line has the same sweet tropical scent but it really stands out in this primer.

bumble_and_bumble_sephora_perk6The final product is the Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil. This is a multi-tasking hair oil that the entire product line is built around. It’s a very light oil that can be used before or after blow drying to tame hair. It can also be used to finish sleek styles or it can be mixed into shampoo or conditioner to help moisturize the hair.

bumble_and_bumble_sephora_perk7The Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil came in a small glass vial, very similar to a perfume sample. Even though it seems very small, a little goes a long way and it is more than enough to test out the product. I usually use it after blow drying to help tame flyaways and reduce static.

bumble_and_bumble_sephora_perk2The first time I used the entire Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil line, I was amazed. My hair was sleek and moisturized but it felt very light and bouncy at the same time. I usually wash my hair every other day and on the second day my hair was much fresher than usual. I was in love! However, the second time I used everything my hair seemed oilier than normal. I really liked the results from the first day and will continue to use the products, but maybe every two or three times I wash my hair instead of every time. I really liked the shampoo as a clarifying shampoo and the primer smells so nice. The conditioner is thick and moisturizing and the Invisible Oil helps control frizz. I’m really happy I picked up this Bumble and Bumble 500-point Sephora perk but I’m going to have to try it some more.

-Molly

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A Food Tour of Dallas

I spent last week in Dallas for work. I’ve driven through Texas a few times on road trips growing up but haven’t really spent any time there so I was excited! Dallas was actually nothing like I was expecting – I was picturing it similar to Tucson, desert and really dry, but everything was so green and it actually rained quite a bit while I was there. The humidity was pretty high a couple of the days but I managed to survive it – that’s what I was worried about the most; I can handle heat but too much humidity makes me feel like I’m dying.

N and I flew into Dallas a couple days early so we could have some free time to explore – I’m glad we did because once our work conference started we had no free time! Most of our time was spent eating, of course! I’m a sucker for southern food! A couple of the restaurants we went to were The Slow Bone Barbeque, The Porch, and Ellen’s Southern Kitchen. They were all fabulous!

We had our first Dallas meal at The Slow Bone Barbeque. The restaurant was cafeteria style where you ordered your main dish and then picked your sides as your walked through the line – they even served the food on old school cafeteria trays (definitely brought back some memories from elementary school!). I ordered the brisket and sausage and had the fried okra and Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as my two sides. I also had the choice between cornbread and hush puppies and decided to go with the hush puppies. They also included a generous portion of barbeque sauce! I always have to ask for more sauce so it was nice to be given plenty! Oh course to top the meal off I had to have sweet tea.

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Overall the meal was pretty fabulous. The brisket was just smoky enough but not over powering and had a nice outer crunch. The sausage was also cooked perfectly. The fried okra had just enough batter and was fried to the perfect crispness. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the hush puppies. I’d probably go with the cornbread next time. Initially I wasn’t quite sure about the Brussels sprouts and cauliflower but the waiter had told me it was his favorite side so figured I had to try it. It was actually really good so I’m glad i tried it! The Slow Bone Barbeque was definitely a great first meal in Dallas!

That night we had dinner at The Porch. We spent quite a bit of time on yelp looking for a good southern restaurant in uptown and we finally decided on The Porch. I was a little nervous for our venture out on Saturday night as there were tornado warnings in a couple of the nearby counties but luckily we escaped the really bad weather! When we showed up at The Porch we quickly realized we were underdressed (I wasn’t expecting the place to be fancy and we were wearing jeans) but luckily they were cool about it. The restaurant was pretty busy but luckily we only had to wait a few minutes. So many things on the menu looked good! We decided on jalapeño cornbread with honey butter to start. It was ok – I prefer my cornbread to be sweet and not spicy at all but N really enjoyed it. For our main dishes N ordered the Short Rib Stroganoff and I ordered the Chicken Fried Grass Fed Sirloin Steak. Our meal was seriously amazing! This was definitely my favorite meal of the trip!

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The chicken fried steak was served with mashed potatoes and green beans. The fried chicken breading was perfectly seasoned and fried to the perfect crunchiness. The gravy was seasoned well but not enough to overpower the flavor of the steak. It also didn’t have a very strong pepper taste which is how I prefer my gravy. The mashed potatoes were thick and creamy while the green beans were crunchy and buttery. The sides were excellent but didn’t try to steal the show. This dish was excellent!

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I also had some of N’s stroganoff and it was really good too! It’s a good thing this restaurant’s not here in LA or I would be there every week! Unfortunately, we were too full for dessert but there were some good looking options including salted caramel and chocolate bread pudding. The Porch will definitely be my first stop next time I’m in Dallas!

After our fabulous southern dinner on Saturday night we figured we should have some more southern food on Sunday. We decided to try Ellen’s Southern Kitchen for lunch on Sunday. It was definitely a popular place. We had to wait about 30 minutes and we still ended up sitting at the bar. The restaurant was located on a cute little street in downtown with a few other restaurants and shops so we walked around while we waited. Our first stop was this candy/ice cream store. At the back of the store there was a section with gag gifts and also a section with “Complimentary Conservative Political Postcards and Mints.” I picked up a couple pieces of chocolate, some rock candy, and some salt water taffy. We also wandered into a western store that had everything you needed to become a cowboy. Luckily, our table was ready before I found the perfect pair of red boots to buy!

We ended up sitting at the bar at Ellen’s because it was the first available and we were hungry enough that the bar was fine. Ellen’s had plenty of southern classics on the menu including fried chicken, chicken fried steak, shrimp and grits, and the fried catfish. They also offered breakfast options of eggs and French toast. Since their slogan is “Grit’s Rule” I decided to order the Cajun Shrimp and Grits with a side of okra. N ordered the chicken fried steak with okra, Mac and cheese, and black eyed peas. I of course tried some of hers and it was pretty good! My Cajun Shrimp and Grits was also really good. The shrimp had lots of flavor that paired well with the more mild flavored grits. The fried okra was also excellent.

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Overall, I had a lot of really great meals in Dallas. If I’m ever back in Dallas I will definitely be stopping by The Porch for dinner!

-Stacie

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Birchbox + Cupcakes and Cashmere May 2015 Box

birchbox_cupcakes_and_cashmere2I’ve written before about my disdain for subscription boxes. There are a few exceptions (like Julep and Graze), but for the most part I hate the disappointment and feeling that I should have spent my money on something I actually wanted instead of a surprise box of samples. I can be pretty picky but I do like trying new products. When I saw that Birchbox was collaborating with Cupcakes and Cashmere for the May 2015 box, I decided to try it out. I’ve been a fan of Emily’s for awhile (Cupcakes and Cashmere was the first blog I started reading regularly) and Stacie had tried Birchbox before and liked it.

birchbox_cupcakes_and_cashmereBirchbox was one of the first subscription boxes. For only $10 a month, you get a box filled with five beauty and grooming samples from luxury brands. You can also fill out profile questions that help Birchbox tailor each box to you. You can cancel at any time and my favorite part is that you can earn Birchbox points for every box sample you review. 100 points are worth $10 in the Birchbox shop and each review gets you 10 points. So basically, for every $10 box you buy, you can get up to $5 to use in the store.

birchbox_cupcakes_and_cashmere1My Birchbox + Cupcakes and Cashmere May 2015 box was delivered in a super cute peach and white cardboard box. Inside was a card with a note from Emily talking about the collection and the samples were wrapped in matching peach tissue paper. The whole presentation was really nice.

birchbox_cupcakes_and_cashmere3Inside the box was a card detailing the products I received, what they do, and how to use them. I thought it was really useful but I didn’t like that the card only listed prices for the full-size products. I wish it had said what the cost was of the samples I received so that I could easily see the value of my box.

birchbox_cupcakes_and_cashmere4Most of the samples were loose in the box but a couple of them were packaged in a gift envelope. The box looked a little sparse with this packaging but they all arrived in one piece.

birchbox_cupcakes_and_cashmere5My first sample was Benefit’s It’s Potent! Eye Cream (supposedly Emily’s all-time fave although she’s never mentioned it on the blog). I like Benefit’s makeup products and I’ve actually tried a sample of this eye cream before. In my opinion, it does the job but it’s nothing special. It can also irritate my sensitive eyes if I use too much.

birchbox_cupcakes_and_cashmere6Next was Coastal Scent’s Revealed 3 Eyeshadow Quad. When I saw this sample on my list, I was worried I was going to end up with a piece of cardboard with eyeshadow samples on it. I was pleasantly surprised by this sample. It contained a mini palette featuring four of the colors from the Revealed 3 shadow palette. They are decently sized and the colors are very pretty. They are a little warmer than the colors I usually wear but I’m excited to try them out.

birchbox_cupcakes_and_cashmere7My third sample was Harvey Prince’s Hello. I’m really picky when it comes to scents. I almost opted out of all perfume samples from Birchbox but in Emily’s introductory video she mentioned a Tocca scent that sounded really interesting. Unfortunately I ended up with this Harvey Prince perfume instead. It’s a citrus and floral blend that is alright but not really me.

birchbox_cupcakes_and_cashmere8I also received Marcelle’s Hydra-C 24H Energizing Hydrating Gel. I already have a moisturizer that I’m completely addicted to but I will still try this one out. I like gel formulas because they are super light and great for summer. Plus, if I hate it, I can always use it as hand lotion.

birchbox_cupcakes_and_cashmere9My final sample was Parlor by Jeff Chastain’s Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray. I like sea salt sprays because they add a little bit of texture to my fine but very thick hair. Most of them tend to feel dry so I really like the idea of a moisturizing version.

birchbox_cupcakes_and_cashmere10My overall thoughts on the box? I wouldn’t have picked up any of these products but I am excited to try most of them. However, I’m a little disappointed with the box as a Birchbox + Cupcakes and Cashmere collaboration. There were two different videos and a couple of pages talking about the collaboration but out of all of the products shown, I only received one of them (the Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray). Instead of being a collaboration, this box feels like Birchbox just threw a bunch of samples into a cute, branded box. It doesn’t feel very tailored to my preferences and I can’t really see Emily using these products. I might try out Birchbox for a few more months as it is fun to get and I love the whole spend $10, get $5 back thing, but I don’t think this box was as strong as it could have been. If you want to try out Birchbox for yourself, you can use my referral link to sign up here, plus get your first box for only $5 if you use the code BB50OFF.

Have you tried Birchbox before?

-Molly

By signing up for Birchbox you agree to their terms and conditions. Birchbox is a monthly subscription that can be cancelled at any time. For only $10 a month, you receive five deluxe samples from prestige brands. For more details, check out their FAQ’s here.

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How to Get Dressed by Alison Freer

how_to_get_dressed_coverWhen it comes to personal style books, I feel like everything has been done before. I’ve read quite a few over the years from celebrities and top stylists but they always feel like I’m reading the same book over and over. I never seem to learn my lesson though, and I always end up checking out the latest how-to style guide. When I saw How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer’s Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing by Alison Freer, I was hopeful. A costume designer should have different tricks than the average fashionista, right? Plus, the back cover states, “Instead of repeating boring style ‘rules,’ Alison breaks the rules.” Was this actually going to be a fun fashion book that gave me new ideas or would I be duped again?

First of all, the book itself is very cute. It has lots of gold and black details including gold edges and striped pages. The chapters make sense and cover a variety of fashion topics: Movie Magic: Or, Why Movie Stars Look Like Movie Stars, Fit: The True Enemy of Great Style, Alter Your Clothes, Alter Your Life, Be Your Own Costume Designer, Dumb Fashion Rules That Were Made for Breaking, Wardrobe Tools to Keep Your Look Together, Dressing for Success is Dead, Closet Hacks: Store Your Clothes Like Wardrobe Girls Do, Underthings: You Really Only Need a Few, Laundry: You’re Doing it Wrong, Shoe Care for All Your Footwear, Old Stuff: A Guide to Shopping Vintage and Thrift, and Dudes, This One’s for You. There are also very helpful stain and fabric glossaries at the end.

As for the content, Freer writes in a fun and charming way. The book is very detailed and goes into a lot of depth but it’s not boring. Most of what is covered are things I already know, but this would be a great book for beginners. I only wish Freer had been a little more creative and unique with her advice. For example, most of her comments regarding fit are basically: go to a tailor if you want things to fit better. Being a costume designer, I feel that Freer should have had more insight and given suggestions for how to alter clothing by yourself. Other suggestions from Freer: use thin velvet hangers, use a lint roller, wear slips, and don’t fill your washer to capacity or your clothes won’t get clean. Pretty much tips you would find in any style book. Still, I prefer How to Get Dressed to many of the other books I’ve read as it does go into more detail. There are a lot of useful, just not very creative, tips and the sections on removing stains and taking care of your shoes were nice to see.

3 out of 5, very in-depth but there’s nothing new here.

-Molly

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

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