A New VoxBox – Suave Live Beautifully

Influenster keeps gifting me with the coolest stuff!

This month, I’m one of the testers/reviewers in the Suave Live Beautifully campaign, which is a little different from previous VoxBoxes for me, in that I already use Suave products quite a bit.

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Dig my shower curtain …

My VoxBox contained two items I’d never used before, though, so there’s still the thrill of the new: Cucumber Agave Smash body lotion (fun name) and the Luxe Style Infusion Volumizing Weightless Blow Dry Spray (much longer name).

I did my product testing last night (i.e. I took a shower). The blow-dry spray is an Allure Best of Beauty winner, so I was excited to see how it worked, but not super-impressed with the results. Overall, I’d say this is a great detangler; it did make my (very long) hair easier to comb post-shower, but other than that I didn’t notice any real benefits in the areas of volume, shine, or styling-ease. I’m also not a big fan of the scent, although I did notice in reviews that many other people are.

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That shower-curtain-backdrop again, prettied up with Influenster’s fun photo frames.

The Cucumber Agave Smash body lotion was more of a win for me. I usually stick to the decidedly unscented Aveeno line, but this has a light enough fragrance that it’s not overpowering, and feels like a nice addition to the routine for the spring and summer months. I actually didn’t notice until after trying it that it’s also positioned as a dupe for Bath & Body Works’ Cucumber Melon body lotion, for those who already know and love that line but want to save a few dollars.

Both the Luxe Blow-dry spray and the Cucumber Agave Smash retail for about $5 each. Let me know some of your new product crushes in the comments!

 

I received these products complimentary for testing purposes.

 

 

We’ve Got Movie Sign: MST3K and the Stress of the Reboot

I discovered Mystery Science Theater 3000 in my teens, searching for music videos and finding instead what looked like a bootlegged movie with three guys in the front row blocking the shot.

Except, wait… it’s one guy, a gumball machine, and… a lacrosse stick?

Mtv did a lot of weird promotional shit back in the day, so I stuck around to see what the schtick was. I learned it was an existing show insiders called MST3K — more specifically, the Alien From L.A. episode (516) starring non-actress Kathy Ireland — making a special appearance as part of MTV Comedy Weekend. (I didn’t remember all of these details on my own, mind you. I had a few fragments and Google pieced them together.)

Soon, I was fully indoctrinated into MST3K Nation, sending postcards to the Info Club and finding episodes wherever I could in the pre-Internet world. Fawning over the Satellite of Love wasn’t a solitary experience in its 11-year run either. I had a group of friends who watched it together regularly in my twenties, including repeat-viewings of the 1996 feature film version and the sad-but-hilarious television finale, MST3K 1013: Danger: Diabolik in ’99.

Now, as the reboot approaches, I have all the joy and trepidation I assume comes with a loved one’s life being saved by a head transplant.

Netflix recently released a collection of 20 classic episodes in front of the new version’s premiere and that only heightened those feelings. I so want this new version to be great, and I don’t have any reason to think it won’t be, but what can I say — I’m a worrier.

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Photo via Steve @ flickr

As I plow through the list on Netflix reveling in how obscure, esoteric, and ridiculous this show is, I love that the originals are still so damn funny while worrying the tone won’t fly today.

It’s not that it’s crass; in fact, part of MST3K’s allure is that it’s hilarious without being blue. But a big piece of what made it work was that it said out loud what we were thinking. Humor doesn’t have to include insult, but will the silhouetted banter be so watered-down by a fear of offending literally anyone that the jokes won’t land?

I guess on some level, I just don’t want to see my nerdiest memories threatened by newer and potentially lesser versions, and that’s something that’s been happening a lot lately. According to DenofGeeks.com there are currently 120 movie remakes alone in various stages of release right now, including The Crow, Ace Ventura, The Craft, Men in Black, and Memento.

So basically we’re rebooting the nineties? ‘MKay.

That said, anxiety be damned. Bring it on, I’m robot-ready for a new generation of MST3-snark, and I’m open-minded enough to consider a format change or two.

Plus, it’s a lot easier to find the media we love these days, even if it first aired in 1994. Kathy Ireland may not be happy about it, but I am.

11 of the Best Foodstagrammers in the Berkshires

I think most people are past the ‘Why would I want to see what you had for dinner?’ criticism of social media by now … right?

Even if that phrase is still relevant in some circles, it never made much sense to me. I, personally, would love to see what you had for dinner — or breakfast, lunch, midnight-snack, whatevs.

To that end, I follow a lot of ‘Foodstagrammers’ — culinary content creators who aren’t just posting pictures of plates but also recipes, ingredients, reviews of new eateries, dispatches from farmers’ markets, and more. In order to serve a manageable portion, I’ve listed 11 of my favorite Foodstagrammers who hail from my own backyard, in the Berkshires. It doesn’t hurt that food is one of our things up here in The 413.

So, let’s start with dessert …

SoCo Creamery

(Great Barrington)

SoCo stages professional food photo-shoots featuring their homemade ice cream and gelato, but doesn’t shy away from crowd-pleasing, recurring content like Throwback Thursday or Wisdom Wednesday.

Coffee + ice cream: a match made in dessert heaven. || Our new Affogato Bar is now up and running! 🍦☕️🍦

A post shared by SoCo Creamery (@sococreamery) on

 

MedicMeals 

(Lenox)

Two medics bring the fire to the EMT kitchen, and the results are amazing. They have particular talents in the Benedict bay, and a fun collection of coffee mugs.

Irish eggs Benedict #DontBeASaltyBitch

A post shared by MedicMeals (@medicmeals) on

 

Chocolate Springs 

(Lenox)

Regularly updated images of the latest creations by chocolatier Joshua Needleman and his team, including candies, cakes, and specialty coffees.

 

James Massey

(Great Barrington)

Chef Massey shares his own creations, but always promotes his fellow Berkshire foodies on the side. The result is a great place to find somewhere to go on a Friday night for the eats, even if it’s your own kitchen.

 

Chez Nous Bistro

(Lee)

A savory stream of photos from the kitchen and other nooks of the restaurant, manned  — or should I say, womanned — by Chef and co-owner Rachel Portnoy. Chez Nous is also great about using the link space in their profile to promote upcoming events.

Crabcake oouhouhouhou

A post shared by Rachel (@cheznousbistro) on

 

The Marketplace 

(Pittsfield, Sheffield, Great Barrington)

The Marketplace team – which operates not just the Instagram stream linked above, but this one, too – has a knack for showcasing their artful cups of coffee, mouth-watering sandwiches, and catering options. Their accounts are as much digital specials boards as they are pure, straight-up food porn.

Happy 🐪 Day! This here Salmon Burger is here to carry you through the rest of the week. Come grab one!

A post shared by The Marketplace Café (@ourmarketplacecafe) on

 

Alchemy413

(Pittsfield)

The Alchemy Initiative’s mission is to use “food as the foundation for creative community building,” so it stands to reason that their Instagram stream would be rich with incredible, edible images. Alchemy is also a constant presence at local farmers’ markets, sharing some of the harvests of the month and where to find them.

This is what I want my freezer stocked with. Oh, Square Roots Farm, you have my heart! #downtownpittsfieldfarmersmarket

A post shared by Alchemy Initiative (@alchemy413) on

 

Brian Alberg

(Stockbridge)

A glimpse into the life of a chef: plated dinners, kitchen candids, ingredient spotlights, and plenty of photos of friends and family make for a balanced diet of content from Chef Brian Alberg, Executive Chef/ Vice President of Culinary Development for Main Street Hospitality and The Red Lion Inn.

Grillin Greens grown in today's dining room! #sustainableaquafarms #mainstreetcatering

A post shared by Brian Alberg (@brianalberg) on

 

Robin’s Candy

(Great Barrington)

The go-to stream for dizzyingly colorful displays of vintage, international, and hard-to-find candy items.

 

Rubiner’s

(Great Barrington)

Get your cheese on with Rubiner’s savory snaps… frequent photos and information about the finest fromage and other culinary joys.

Provolone Mandarone. . . . . . #formaggio #provolone #cheese #luigiguffanti #rubiners #rubinerscheesemongers #food52grams

A post shared by Rubiner's Cheesemongers (@rubinerscheesemongers) on

 

Mountains of Sugar

(Lenox)

Delectable pastries and plenty of process shots from Kimberly Watson, Pastry Chef at Blantyre Resort & Spa.

One last thing … my list is woefully low on North Berkshire County establishments. Share your favorites from that corner of the world in the comments – let’s make this list a baker’s dozen!

We Have the Meats: Oscar Party 2017

Even with an annual party that’s been chugging along for close to 20 years now, it’s impossible to have the same party twice. Veteran guests drop out, new friends join in… looking back at my annual Oscar Party, though, I do see trends.

Oscar Party 2017!

The gist of the fiesta is to bring an Oscar-themed dish to share, which we then vote on as a group, awarding mediocre prizes in five categories. It’s basically a puffed-up potluck. But guests take the challenge seriously, either cooking a signature dish and attaching an Academy-worthy name a la this year’s Best Tasting Winner La La Lamb, or using a film title, actor, or other nominee as inspiration for a spread, as in the case of 2017’s Best in Show, Fantastic Meats and Where to Find Them. 

Oscar Party 2017!

Sometimes, I notice friends using the occasion to spread their culinary wings — Ben’s Best Name-winning entry this year, Natalie Port Wine Pudding Cake, was just such an endeavor and smelled amazing while cooking.

Oscar Party 2017!

And the Manchester by the Sea-salted Fluff Sandwiches by Kaitlyn? She wasn’t sure how they’d come out, but put her faith in the power of Fluff. It was not a fool’s gamble…these things are amazing.

Oscar Party 2017!

The Art Direction Winner this year was an amazing cake from Chocolate Springs, made to order for my friend Kat’s specific instructions. Decorated with the words Hidden Figures, this dessert also included actual hidden figurines revealed upon slicing.

Finally, here are some of the honorable mentions:
Oscar Party 2017!

Oscar Party 2017!

Oscar Party 2017!