Vegan Lip Gloss: Smells So Good, I Wanna Eat It!

I have a guilty pleasure. I can't get enough of the online version of window shopping. One of my absolute favorite sites is Etsy - "your place to buy and sell all things handmade!" The crafter in me goes crazy when I hit up Etsy and I can spend ages ogling all the gorgeous handmade crafts there, from amazing one-of-a-kind jewelry to unique DIY clothing to all-natural handmade soaps. I've made a few purchases in the past and have never been disappointed, and my sister and I have our own shop, although we haven't got much in it at the moment. Anyway, recently I ran out of lip gloss/chapstick and decided that the time had come to find something vegan to use instead of one with a beeswax base or any sort of animal-based ingredients. But where to find such a product? Why, Etsy, of course!

After searching for vegan lip products and comparing scents/flavors, ingredients, and seller ratings, I decided to purchase from YouStinkSoap, deciding to ignore the outright insult in the shop's title. Sandy, who runs the shop and makes her products, has this to say in her shop's description: All my soaps are vegan (no animal products) detergent and cruelty free. Made in small, cold processed batches the bars retain their natural glycerin and are super-fatted with shea butter for extra moisturizing benefits. Pretty sweet, huh? Well, not as sweet as the Dulce de Leche scented lip gloss I chose!

Yes, that's right, Dulce de Leche. In a brilliant move, I decided to opt for Sandy's three lip gloss dealio for $7.50, plus the bank-breaking shipping cost of $1.69. So that boils down to an individual price that's slightly more expensive than the normal Bonne Bell stuff I used for years, but less than something like, say, Burt's Bees, that while probably more natural and environmentally friendly than a Lip Smacker is decidedly not vegan. But handmade, vegan, and cruelty-free? Works for me! And with scents like Coconut Lemongrass, Strawberry Tart, and Toffee Macadamia Nut, how can you go wrong? I eventually chose the aforementioned Dulce de Leche, Mango Mango, and Vanilla Velvet Buttercreme. Yeah, I know - decadent, utterly, utterly, decadent.

My lip glosses arrived today, and let me tell you, uncapping these suckers was like opening up a little tube of heaven! Dulce de Leche is sinfully sweet. The scent reminds my mom of maple syrup; I smell caramel and sugar and it is oh so rich and delicious. Vanilla Velvet Buttercreme smells like a rich, almost buttery yellow cake smothered in vanilla frosting, and Mango Mango... well, I think the name speaks for itself, but this scent gives me cravings for the sweet, juicy flesh of a ripe yellow mango. Oh baby. Plus, this is quality stuff. It glides on nice and smooooth, the scent lasts for quite a while, and it doesn't seem to wear off easily. Plus, my lips feel moisturized and happy and slightly shiny. I've been rotating through my three flavors all day, and now I can't wait to try more of Sandy's tempting scents. Oh, and did I mention that she threw in a handwritten thank-you note and a little sample of her handmade [vegan] Bamboo Rain Garden soap? Cuz she did, and it smells fresh and clean and wonderful and I think I'm totally sold on this whole natural body care thing.

Hah, and you thought this was a food blog!

Seriously though, I'm cool with leaving out the food porn in order to promote ways to live an all-around cruelty-free lifestyle, and I do like to rave about things that tickle my fancy. Plus, this Dulce de Leche lip gloss is practically food - close your eyes and you'd think there was something gooey and caramel-covered being held under your nose. Mmm mmm good.


Streusel-y Blueberry Muffins

Confession time... I had all four wisdom teeth removed a week ago, which means I've only just graduate to semi (and I do mean semi) solid foods, which means that I made these muffins ages ago and was just too lazy to post. Oops. Oh well, the blog must go on.

So. In a slightly more season-appropriate fit of baking, I trolled the web for vegan blueberry muffin recipes so that I could use up some of the 20+ pounds of blueberries my mom, sister, and I picked from a local farm last month. We're freezing bunches of them, of course, but it's still lovely to bake with fresh, local, seasonal produce. When I was a kid, the Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffin recipe had celebrity status in our house, but lately the gobs of butter it requires are a bit of a turn-off to most of us, so I went for a vegan option when I made this batch of muffins. This is the recipe I eventually chose. I know that the streusel topping negates some of the healthiness, but come on - I only used two tablespoons of Smart Balance spread out among all twelve muffins, so it's a small price to pay for the delicious, sweet chewy-crispiness of the streusel topping!

I followed the recipe pretty exactly, although we just have plain old refined white sugar (not specifically "vegan sugar") in the house, so that's what I used. Just like I did with the Pumpkin Spice Muffins, I used 1 T cornstarch and 3 T water in place of the Ener-G Egg Replacer. But when I'd mixed all the ingredients together, the batter was waaay too thick. It was barely pourable. I added a few extra tablespoons of water until it became a more liquid-y consistency, poured it into my muffin tins, added the streusel topping, and baked.

Now, before I continue, I should mention the little flour problem I had. See, the recipe calls for whole wheat flour, and since we had some sitting in the freezer, I figured I would just use that up and everything would be hunky-dory. But when my first sneaky taste of the batter yielded a rather strange taste, I began to suspect that something was amiss. It wasn't until I tried the finished product that I realized that the whole wheat flour must've been sitting in the freezer for waaay too long, because it had acquired that distinctive and unpleasant "freezer taste," that strange aftertaste that lingers in your mouth and makes you scrunch up your lips slightly as you try to figure out why your food tastes slightly off. If you know what I'm talking about, you understand, but if not, I don't think I can properly describe the flavor of freezer burn. Honestly, I had difficulty eating the muffins because of this unwelcome extra flavor, but my mom couldn't notice it at all and enjoyed them.

Bottom line? This was a decent recipe. I wasn't too thrilled with my results, but the nasty freezer taste may have had a little tiny something to do with that. Aside from that, I did feel that these muffins were quite dense; maybe if some regular white flour were used in place of some of the whole wheat they'd be a bit lighter. I'd also probably double the streusel recipe in future, because it was sort of sparse, and in this particular case the streusel was what saved these Freezer Burn Streusel-y Blueberry Muffins. Ah well - live and learn!