Mighty Leaf Tea : TeaTop Brew Mug and Vanilla Bean, Organic African Nectar and Green Tea Tropical #Review and #Giveaway

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I have a coffee travel mug and even a tea mug, but I have never tried a TeaTop Brew Mug until now. Like with coffee, I feel a fresh cup of tea is as desirable and even though tea holds it’s flavors and quality better than it’s counterpart, I still would like the option to brew as I go. The Mighty Leaf Tea Company not only makes this happen but the mug works perfectly with no mess or fuss. The tea bag hangs freely but you won’t lose the string, as there is a nice notch that holds it in place. When you have achieved the strength desired in your cup of tea, you simply just pull the tea bag up and the cup does the rest.  You even have a place to rest the bag away from your ready to drink tea. The insulated cup allows you to just sip and enjoy!.

Retail Price Point: $16.95 for a cup that let’s you make sure ever cup steeps perfectly every time, plus it’s snazzy looking.

When it comes to enjoyment, Mighty Leaf Tea sent a trio for me to try:

Mighty Leaf Taste of the Tropics Gift Sampler-

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  • Vanilla Bean
    A black tea base with a deep infusion of Vanilla Beans from Madagascar. This tea tastes as good as it smells and even though vanilla has warm notes, this tea’s flavor is so clean that you get a light and almost crisp notes. As much as I love Vanilla, it can overpower if not used wisely but that is something that Mighty Leaf tea was able to balance out with true perfection. Simple but left me craving for a second cup in no time!

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  • Organic African Nectar
    This variety is tropical and almost fruity in flavor. You get nice herbal notes and a kiss of sweetness that makes you believe there is honey in your cup already. This tea uses a blend of rooibos leaves, organic hibiscus and dried blossoms. I enjoyed this blend cold by brewing a cup, allowing it to cool, and then letting it rest in the fridge to get ice cold. It went well with dinner and because it’s caffeine free, I did not have to worry on those late dinner nights either.

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  • Green Tea Tropical
    You have a green tea base that is accompanied by dried fruits and flowers. The blossoms are marigold petals and cornflowers.  The fruits are also not your usual citrus mixes like with other teas. Think pineapple sweetness with even notes of guava. This variety pushed all my other green teas a notch down and became my favorite. I love adding just a touch of honey to not take anything away from it but most times I just enjoy it as-is.

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Retail Price Point: The above trio retails for $30.00 and you get a generous amount of tea bags. Each box has 15 whole leaf pouches…..that’s 45 cups of happiness!

Like what you saw?

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Well, it’s GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

One lucky winner will be able to win the above items and Mighty Leaf Tea will send them directly to your home. It’s their nice way to share and play Santa for us! All you have to do is:

  1. Sign-up to their Newsletter and you already are rewarded with a 15% off coupon towards their artisan teas
  2. Follow them on Twitter
  3. Follow “Like” them on Facebook
  4. and please leave a comment on this blog post below

Four easy steps and it could be yours. #Giveaway starts today 12/01 and ends on 12/14. I will announce the winner on the 15th and then ask for your information, which I will forward to the company. Good Luck!!!

Connect with Mighty Leaf Tea and find your favorite tea at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Mighty Leaf Tea.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.  The Giveaway prize will be supplied by the manufacture and items/product package may change if items above are out of stock.

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Influenster: Spring Fling Vox Box featuring Nivea, Rimmel London, Kiss, Soft Lips, Playtex to the Labor Day Movie release #SpringVoxBox

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Another great Vox Box from Influenster and this one had a little bit of everything.  Even though Summer just arrived, this Spring Fling Vox Box has you prepared to take it on and look as beautiful as ever doing it!

 

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  • Rimmel Londom Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara

The new ScandalEyes Retro Glam Mascara by Rimmel London, has a great brush that distributes a non-crumbling and free of clumps formula evenly to your lashes. The delivery of the mascara via the nicely shaped bristles, gives you a look you can build-up or down. The even coats lets you glam your eyes with intensity for a bold look or you can just apply a light coat for a nice and classic finish. I also feel when the formula sets, it tends to hold the curl up through out the day and your lashes do not feel ultra stiff or heavy. Pair it with a “cat eye look” and a bold lipstick, you get a gorgeous look that never fades and is perfect for summer. I have been using a smokey bronze shadow and a thin wing tip at the end to get that copper-ish glow and I pair it with a nice nude colored lipstick. Great and an easy daytime look! You also can’t beat the $5.99 price tag!  A water-proof version is also available in case there is a beach or a pool in your future.

Connect with Rimmel London:

 

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  • Kiss Everlasting French Nails

Each packet comes with 28 nails in 14 different sizes that lasts a recommended 7 days. You get Kiss’s “no chip nail ” technology, which is easily applied in less than 10 minutes and this includes fitting to make sure you have the nail size that suits your finger nail best. No waiting to dry your nails, you literally glue and go! The glue is gentle to your natural nails but strong enough to hold the nail in place. No one wants a flying nail no matter how gorgeous they may look, but with Kiss Everlasting French, you are free of “nail attacks”. I love the peachy pink colored base that has a nice tone that matches any skin color beautifully. The white tip has a pleasant hue but not so white that it looks unpleasant or to intense. The box supplies you enough nails to get 2 applications and for the cost of under $6.50, you can get a salon look without the price tag. Any girl’s dream and you can find the Kiss Everlasting French nails in Flat or Regular nail arches, which come in a Medium length. Available in stores like Target, CVS, and Walgreens to Rite-Aid and Kmart. Pick-up yours today to get a classic that never fades and that includes the nail polish in this case too!

Connect with Kiss and their nail collection:

 

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  • Soft Lips Cube

The lip balm advertises a 5 in 1 lip care system. Think BB cream but for your lips! You get protection from future damage with the SPF 15. The formula helps Hydrate and Replenish moisture. You get Smoothness for that kissable look and a touch of shine. All that protection in a cute looking cube! I would rate the shine as low ,so you get more of a natural sheen that is not super glossy with zero tint. I liked the new Pomegranate Blueberry and because it’s in cube shape, I could easily find it when needed and it also stacked well with my other items in my purse. I used it both as a primer and protection under my lipsticks/glosses, but it performed well alone too. The product retails for a fair price point of $3.49 and you also have the choice of Fresh Mint or Vanilla Bean if the Pom & Berry is not your thing.

Connect with SoftLips:

 

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  • Nivea Skin Firming Hydration Body Lotion

A lotion that has skin toning properties and also improves skin’s firmness and all in as little as 2 weeks. With bathing suit and bikini season in motion, I don’t want my skin to be in motion too. Nivea’s lotion has Co-Enzyme Q10 and Hydra IQ that deliver rejuvenating properties and also helps your skin retain deep and moisture longer. You won’t see my complaining if I can get skin improvements out of a bottle and especially firming and toning. It does not replace a work-out but it definitely softness my skin and with the extra hydration, I did notice a plumper feeling, which gave me a tighter/firmer look. They say to drink water to keep hydrated and this helps with smoothing out wrinkles…..well, Nivea’s new Skin Firming Hydration formula is a nice cool glass of water for your skin and gave me satisfactory results in all fields. No irritations and even after shaving, plus 2 weeks is a cinch when it comes to waiting to see results. The body lotion comes in two size, a 2.5 ounce bottle for $2.49 and a 13.5 ounce bottle for $10.99.

Connect with Nivea:

 

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  • Playtex Sports Fresh Balance

Playtex has added a new variety to their Playtex Sport’s line, which now not only gives you the same protection no matter what the day has ahead but also the option of Odor Shield. Odor Shield technology helps neutralize odors for that extra protection. A box of 18 tampons retails between $3.99 and $4.99 and the new Plus + Odor Shield is available in all absorbency/sizes.

Connect with Playtex:

 

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  • Labor Day the Movie

Paramount’s Pictures movie release, which features Kate Winslet and John Brolin. This drama is directed by Jason Reitman and is about a single mother that picks up a wounded man and offers him a ride. The man ends up being an escaped convict and the novel based movie depicts what the duo must choose, as they get to the know the stranger and Police edge closer. Available on Blu-ray and DVD for just $19.99. I was sent a nice little pie shaped air freshener to commemorate the movie’s release!

Connect with the movie Labor Day:

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Influenster and the above mentioned companies.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

BzzAgent: Fage Yogurts Fruyo

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I have been on a yogurt kick and mainly Greek and European varieties. They tend to be thicker in texture and not as sweet as other types, plus I love the tartness they deliver among the other health benefits.  In comes BzzAgent with their Fage campaign and I was excited to be accepted. I purchase at Costco the large variety pack, which comes in three flavors. The pack usually lasts us a good 2 weeks and it’s very economically priced.

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In our home, we use yogurt in many ways other than just eating it from the cup so getting the coupons for the larger size varieties fit us perfectly. I bake with yogurt as it tends to give baked goods moisture without the fats and calories. I have used it to make icings, fillings for cakes, to even a base for savory dips. Great to add to yeast doughs! My Husband mixes his whey protein mixes with yogurt when he is tired of using the mixes as drinks. It “ups” the protein content and I usually buy the 0% fat variety for those applications.

Fage strains it’s yogurts and this why you get a much firmer but still smooth texture. It holds up well to even freezing, so if you want a frozen yogurt without the guilt, Fage can come to the rescue. You can even add fruit before freezing and you get a perfect Summer treat.

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I also was able to try a new variety by Fage called Fruyo. It’s strained yogurt with pieces of delicious fruit and comes in several varieties. I purchased vanilla as I was curious about the taste. I have been disappointed with vanilla because as simple as a flavor it is, many companies resort to using artificial flavorings and sweeteners to augment the flavor and the results are not too pleasing. The worst thing when something is labeled vanilla or chocolate, is not getting the full real taste of it! As Fruyo is a fruit yogurt blend…….my curiosity was peaked.

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Fage’s Vanilla Fruyo has 7.5 grams of protein per 100 grams, so very nutritious but does it taste good?

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You have already a nice indicator this will taste good because it has natural vanilla flavor, plus ground vanilla beans. Zero percent fat and plain sugar and pectin used as sweeteners. A nice beginning to things when I can pronounce and know what each ingredient is. I found the thickness and richness still present like with the other Fage varieties, and you can literally take a spoonful of yogurt and hold the spoon upside-down, it won’t plop on the counter or move. Other yogurts have so much water that they also create that slime between the spoon and the product, which is not that great. Fage slowly dissolves in the mouth and I love their vanilla flavor. Not only does the product look beautiful with vanilla bean flecks, but the aroma and taste are there. I will be purchasing from their Fruyo line as they have Peach, Strawberry, Cherry, Pineapple and one I’m super curious about, Pineapple-banana cereals.

Visit their sites at:
Total- http://www.fageusa.com/products/
Fruyo- http://www.fage.gr/products.asp?cat=89&lang=EN

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I received the above product at no cost from BzzAgent and Fage. I am not obligated to provide a favorable/positive review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experiences with the brand, which may differ from yours.

Fresh Pineapple Upside Down Buttermilk Cake

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Everyone loves pineapple upside down cake. If someone doesn’t, then they haven’t had it made right. Little things make the biggest differences. Like, I always just used canned Pineapple. One day I had a fresh pineapple on the counter and decided to try my recipe with it. Best ever, and I have never gone back! One of my easier cakes to make and perfect during the warmer months. Bakes quickly and you can serve it warm, room temperature or even cold. The buttermilk keeps the cake moist and gives it a unique flavor that is not typically associated with cakes. So, I hope this breaks up the usual and you enjoy it as much as we do.

Let’s begin….

Glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons of Butter
  • 3 tablespoons of Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup of Brown Sugar

Fruit:

  • 1 whole fresh Pineapple (canned may be used if needed)
  • 6 Maraschino cherries

Cake Batter:

  • 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 2/3 cup of Sugar
  • 2 large Eggs (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup of Buttermilk (room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon of Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 a Vanilla Bean
  • 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or to taste) of Cinnamon and Nutmeg

First you start by cutting your pineapple slices and coring the rounds. Set those aside and begin making your glaze.

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Add your butter, brown sugar and maple syrup to a nonstick pan.

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Over medium-low heat, you begin to dissolve the sugar.  I usually use a silicone spatula to make sure undissolved sugar crystals do not get stuck to the sides of the (non-stick) pan. Keep stirring and increase the heat slightly. You will reach a gentle boil as you stir and then continue cooking for about 45 seconds, and then remove the glaze from the stove.

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I take a large lasagna pan (sprayed with cooking spray)

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Pour the glaze carefully over and evenly.  Then place your pineapple slices carefully over the glaze.

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Next comes the cherries.

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Start your cake batter by first blending the unsalted butter with the sugar, until nice and fluffy.

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Add one egg and blend until it is incorporated into the mixture.

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Then add the second the egg and fully incorporate into the mixture.

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Follow with the buttermilk, maple syrup and vanilla. I tend to mix all three and pour them at the same time.  Pour only half of the mixture in.

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Follow by adding the 1/2 Vanilla Bean.

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Then comes the dry ingredients. I mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.

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You then take half of the dry ingredients and add it to the mixer. Mix well until everything is wet, remembering to scrape the sides of the bowl.

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I slowly then add the second half of my buttermilk mixture intermediately with the left over half of the dry mixture. I do this so I do not over whip the batter, since this tends to produce a dryer cake if you over beat it. You will end up with a nice smooth mixture by halving the wet and dry, and not over beating.

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Once everything is incorporated, I take the batter and drop spoonfuls into the pan with the glaze and pineapple. I do six large spoonfuls so I can get a nice even layer without disrupting the fruit’s placement.

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Place in oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until the cake is springy to the touch. You can use a toothpick to check if the cake is done too.

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The sides will be bubbling!

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Allow the cake to cool down for 15 minutes before flipping. I usually place a glass cutting board on top of the cake pan.

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Flip.

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Remove pan.

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I allow for it to cool a bit more and then start cutting, usually 10 minutes.

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Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if desired!

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You can store the cooled cut cake slices in the fridge (just wrap in plastic) and it holds very well. Enjoy!

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Strawberries~N~Cream Squares

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Strawberries~N~Cream Squares

Being that Easter is approaching and we are embracing Spring, I wanted something light that would showcase the fruit.  I also wanted something that was quick because I again purchased strawberries and picked for the perfect case, to then just forget them in fridge for 3 days!

My crust is identical to the one I made for the Key Lemon bars and since it was a hit, not changing it!  It’s a shortbread crust and please view that recipe here https://samplesandfreebiesgallery.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/welcome-the-first-day-of-spring-with-key-lemon-cream-bars/ for details on preparation but I will note the ingredients needed.
Crust: 
1 stick of Salted Butter (softened)
1 stick of Unsalted Butter (softened)
110 grams of Powder Sugar
2 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
3 drops of Almond Extract
300 grams of All-Purpose Flour
Vanilla Bean Cream Filling:
3 5/8 ounces of Mascarpone cheese (softened)
8 ounces of Cream Cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons of White Sugar
3/4 ounces of Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1/4 Vanilla Bean
2 tablespoons of All-Purpose Flour
You soften both cheeses by leaving out until soft or like me, I use the microwave in the defrost setting.
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With a mixer or by hand with a whisk, you blend until combined.  You add the white sugar and sweetened condensed milk and again whip, making sure you are mostly lump free.  Then you add both the vanilla extract, and 1/4 of the scrapings from a Vanilla Bean.
Again, whisk until combined.  Last comes the flour and I usually do one tablespoon at a time in order to keep everything nice and smooth.
Fruit Filling:
5 1/2 ounces of Strawberry preserves
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I made my own using the strawberries I purchased before they went bad.  I just cook them down on the stove with some water, a teaspoon of sugar (more or less depending how sweet the berries are), and a teaspoon of fruit pectin.  I add a used Vanilla Bean and cook about 15 minutes or when the product reached the thickness I desire.
Topping:
2/3 cup of All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon of ground Ginger
1/4 teaspoon of Cinnamon
A couple gratings of fresh Nutmeg
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon of White Sugar
3 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (cold)
To make topping, you combine all the dry ingredients and when incorporated, you then start to add the cold butter until you get crumbles.  Very easy to do by hand or even with a fork….whatever works best for you.  You can also add less or more of the spices to fit your taste.
Once you have pre-baked the crust, you allow for it to cool down just a bit (10 minutes).
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You add the Vanilla Bean cream filling and just spread out evenly.
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I then add the Strawberry Filling and make swirls so everyone gets a good helping of fruit and cream filling, it also looks pretty.  Short on time….you can stop here and bake and still have a great final product!
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If you have a little time, you then make your topping and sprinkle over before baking.
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Once everything is assembled, you simply put it in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and then at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Test for doneness by simply measuring the jiggle but keep in mind like brownies, you do not want to wait until firm.  This is sort of like a cheesecake and will continue to cook when you take it out.  I cooled it down 2 hours outside and 2 hours in the fridge.
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I then cut different sized squares because sometimes we want to eat more or less.
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You can serve as-is or with vanilla bean ice cream.  Enjoy!
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