Touch-and-Go with Target’s SMARTLY Brand

Touch-and-Go with Target’s SMARTLY Brand

We’ve all been there. The need to pick up something from the store with the confidence that, yes, we CAN run into Target for just one thing and only one thing. Oh how wrong we are.

As of late I’ve discovered a new brand of household essentials at Target under the brand name ‘Smartly‘.  So far I’ve only picked up liquid hand soap and body wash, however they also offer the following items.

  • laundry detergent
  • bar soap
  • toilet paper
  • shaving cream
  • razors
  • facial cleansing wipes
  • hand and body lotion
  • facial lotion
  • paper towels
  • all-purpose cleaner
  • dishwasher gel
  • liquid dish soap
  • ammonia
  • napkins
  • plastic cutlery
  • paper plates
  • plastic straws
  • disposable cups
  • sandwich bags
  • trash bags

From the outset, the brand looks decent. Smart packaging with pricing sliding under $5 for just about everything, with the majority of the items around $2 or less.

The first product I tried was the Lavender Scented Liquid Hand Soap, for which I paid 99¢ and was very happy.  The smell was pleasant and the soap did it’s job. Overall I was very pleased and was eager to try more from this new line.

The Smartly-branded Rain Shower Scented Body Wash is available for $1.99, which is on my list to review in the future; if it’s up to par, it could be a reasonably priced replacement for higher-end body washes and shower gels.

On today’s Target run, the pleasant-scented lavender version of the Smartly Liquid Hand Soap was depleted and I had the misfortune of choosing the wrong replacement scent on a whim for our next bottle of hand soap. While the Blossom Scented Liquid Hand Soap looks like it would be a decent choice, it turns out that looks can be deceiving.

Don’t get me wrong, the soap works — it would be pretty difficult to make a soap that doesn’t actually get you clean, after all! — but the scent, while generally pleasant in very small doses, lingers on far too STRONGLY. Using a pea-sized drop and washing my hands as normal, the heavy scent carries in almost a cloud around me, lasting in excess of 30 minutes after hand washing.  I am not one who is usually sensitive to scents, however the notes in the Blossom fragrance mixed with it’s potency have made for an unpleasant experience and even feelings of light-headedness.

So far, the Smartly line has given me some mixed results. Though I plan to test out more product and scent offerings, the thought of further over-indulged lingering scent issues seems to be cause for some concern. Be on the look out for a new review of Smartly body wash, coming soon!

String Cheese Battle!

String Cheese Battle!

The not-so-ultimate, String Cheese Battle!

The contenders:

Galbani, Sunnyside, Frigo, Sargento, Queso Oaxaca

Not that we really need to battle it out, all string cheese has strengths and weaknesses. I have found over the years that string cheese preference is a very personal thing.  My boyfriend and I both enjoy a certain style and flavor profile, others may enjoy something the opposite.  I rated out of 5 for Stringyness and Flavor and provided some footnotes on variety.  I only included cheeses available in my area. 

Let’s get started!

Galbani

Sorrento Original. The most moist of the string cheese on today’s list. Least preferred. Honestly really gross.

Stringyness: 2 out of 5. It’s so moist it really does not string well.

Flavor: 1 out of 5. There isn’t much flavor in the ones I’ve had. It just had texture. I had to heat it up to melting for any flavor to come through and even then it was not very good.

Variety: On par with their competitors, they have a large variety to offer consumers.

It is interesting to note that I can’t find the “Sorrento” version on their website. Just at Costco and all of my local stores. I also can’t find other items on their website that are sold locally. I’m inclined to think we are getting some lower quality version packaged in bulk, as I see rave reviews for Galbani and I raise an eyebrow every time.

The Galbani logo is the same, but packaging is quite different from their website offerings: Left is the slop offered here, right is the one officially on their website.

 

 

What’s up with that, Galbani?

Sunnyside

Original. Least moist, my preferred level of moisture and most liked of all of the cheeses available here.

Stringyness: 5 out of 5. I can peel super thin strings for a while on one stick. Great fun.

Flavor: 3 out of 5. I wouldn’t say it tastes like Mozzarella, but it is a pleasing flavor and good saline quality.

Variety: None. There is one kind of string cheese available in my stores from this company. If they make more, that’s awesome, but I’m not aware of it. They are a local company to me as well.

Frigo

Owned by Saputo USA. Original flavor. More moist, but not the most moist of them. Added vitamins to keep you healthy.

Stringyness: 3 out of 5. It’s a bit difficult to string from the moisture level, but still strings some.

Flavor: 4 out of 5. Has a nice saline hit that I enjoy, and tastes like mozzarella.

Variety: Large! 5 out of 5.

Sargento

Original. Low moisture, part skim, mozzarella.

Stringyness: 4 out of 5. Have no problems getting my tiny cheese ribbons from this cheese.

Flavor: 3 out of 5. It tastes like mozzarella. It’s saline quality is very neutral. Probably the most pure of the cheese flavors.

Variety: Sargento has a large variety of cheese stick snacks. 5 out of 5 as well.

Queso Oaxaca by El Mexicano and Cacique

 

This is a special kind of cheese my friend’s Abuelita calls “Mexican String Cheese.” My initial taste of this from El Mexicano earned it a place on this list. Cacique makes a wonderful one as well. My most recent batch of El Mexicano was a huge disappointment in quality. I will be trying Cacique again after that.  That said, let’s get on with the ratings:

Stringyness: depends on the batch. The first batch of Queso Oaxaca I ever had was super stringy 5 out of 5. The most recent batch I got was 1 out of 5. Too moist and not stringy at all.

Flavor:  1st time: 5 out of 5. I had to lock this stuff away, it was so good. Cheesy and salty. Perfect.  Most recent batch: Not flavorful and bland.

Variety: None. Queso Oaxaca is it’s own style of cheese. When it’s good, it’s amazing. When it’s not, it’s disappointment.

Other Brands

I know of other brands such as Kraft, Lucerne, Precious, Polly-O, Meijer, Crystal Farms, Horizon, H-E-B.  I have tried Kraft, Precious, Horizon, and Lucerne, but not in the last 5 years and they are not offered in my new local area.  The others are just not available in my area or even my state.

 

Note: I’m not getting paid by any of these companies. I’m just a lactose intolerant cheese enthusiast with time on her hands. Though, if you are from one of these companies and want to pay me, contact me and we can chat. Seriously.

 

Pillsbury Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

Let’s have a review while the disappointment is still fresh, shall we?

Tonight I had a hankering for some gooey, light, yeasty cinnamon rolls.  Nowadays, I don’t get sweet treats like these, and it’s the time of year for being decadent. I didn’t want to make them from scratch, I don’t have that kind of time. So I pulled a page out of my Mom’s book and picked up a blue tube of Pillsbury Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls. I remember these puffing up golden and yeasty, so they will do to sate the cinnamon and frosting beast.

The Reveal

I open the tube and am greeted by cinnamon “rolls” that are falling apart and look like they’ve been cut by a drunk person. Great. Are these expired? Nope. Date says they are practically fresh.

Looks Can Be Deceiving, Right?

Maybe it’s just an off batch, and I can arrange them into some semblance of a cinnamon roll before baking.  After a little bit of dough Tetris, the falling-apart pieces stay in shape.

I follow the simple baking directions, but they don’t smell right.  You know what I’m talking about.  You bake a batch of yeasty delicious cinnamon-laden pinwheels, and the house smells like a beautiful cinnamon bakery.  That isn’t the smell I’m getting.  There’s barely a smell at all.  Time to triple check:  No they are not expired, and yes I am following the directions to the letter. Oven at 350? Check. In a greased square baking pan? Check. Cooked for 29 minutes? Check.

29 minutes is up!  They aren’t even close to brown.  Back into the oven for 5 more minutes.  Still barely any smell.  At the end of my 5 minutes, they are still barely browned. What the heck was going on with these things?

I gently tap the outer layer of one of them with the back of a spoon. Sounds hollow–outside is definitely done.  I look at the inner swirl and notice it looks very dry.  I tapped the inner swirl.  Sounds like the outside layer.  That’s not right. The inner swirl of a cinnamon roll is supposed to be moist and gooey. Not tap-tap-tap hard!  Have I baked them too long? No, they’re barely browned.

I throw my hands up in frustration and reach for the cream cheese frosting.  Upon opening it, I notice that it doesn’t look like cream cheese frosting. I stick a knife in it, and it doesn’t behave like cream cheese frosting either.  Par for the course.  I grudgingly frost them and serve one up.

The Reveal!

I pull off that beginning outer layer, and bite down.  My mouth was flooded with the disgusting taste of a Pillsbury biscuit and cinnamon.  Now I have moved from disappointed and frustrated to outright disgusted.  Going for the ultimate test, I dove a fork into the middle and pulled out the center swirl.  Biscuits.  These disgusting cinnamon “rolls” are made with biscuit dough.  I am now very pissed off. I want cinnamon ROLLS, not Cinnamon BISCUITS. Puzzled, I check the wrapping from the tube. Yes they were calling these horrid abominations Cinnamon Rolls.  Cinnabon branded, no less.  They don’t even come close to the heavenly flavor and aroma of a Cinnabon Cinnamon roll.

Pillsbury has this distinct acrid, salty, sour biscuit dough that can’t be missed. Hide it how you want to, I can always tell when it’s a Pillsbury biscuit.  They are nasty, and I will make my own biscuit dough before I use Pillsbury’s dough.

I do not enjoy the flavor or texture of biscuits.

My much-anticipated delicious treat is a $5 can of biscuits. Of all of the giant fuck you’s from food manufacturers, this is a rather nasty one.  I can deal with Cadbury mangling the creme egg to a grainy nasty mess. I can deal with Hershey making some of the most acidic chocolate on the market. I will deal with Pillsbury the same way I deal with these other cost-cutting, lazy, out of touch companies.  You get not one cent more from me and I will blast your pathetic products on my review site that nobody reads!  Take that corporate America!

Conclusion:

Rating: 0 out of 10. Poor quality product and false advertising.  Cinnamon rolls are a yeast dough product.  Biscuits are not a yeast dough. How do you sleep at night? Oh, right. On a pillow stuffed with cash.

I can get a more authentic Cinnabon taste from the Taco Bell drive through.

CoverGirl Supersizer Mascara

Covergirl’s The Supersizer Mascara

 

33597-Covergirl-The-Super-Sizer-By-Lashblast-Waterproof-Mascara

After seeing gushing reviews for this mascara, I decided to dip my toe back into the mascara game after the last time turned into an allergic reaction debacle (Thanks Covergirl! Stay away from the Covergirl LashBlast Volume mascara, people!)

I figured it had been 10 years since my last horrible experiment, surely they have a better formula by now. So with a optimistic outlook, I sought this mascara out.

I bought it, took it home, read the directions, watched a dozen or so demonstration videos, then put it on.

Within 20 minutes this brand new mascara was flaking off into my eyes and onto my cheeks. After 2 weeks, I gave this mascara to my mom since she wanted to try it. She trashed it a few days later citing the flaking.

I am extremely disappointed by the poor quality of Covergirl’s Supersizer mascara. The interesting application was easy. It looked great while it was wet on my lashes. By 2pm I had an impromptu mirror check thanks to a kind coworker and it had all flaked off. I looked like I’d stuck my cheeks under a pepper shaker.

Even the cheap dollar store mascaras have not had such poor quality. I feel as though the people raving about it on YouTube are probably paid to do so.

My review is what I have actually experienced with the mascara, and I found it severely lacking.

Covergirl products in general from eye-shadow to face products have consistently disappointed me or damaged my skin, no matter how positive I try to be about them.

Aquafresh Advanced Toothpaste

Oral care is important for overall health and wellness.

Aquafresh-Advanced-Whitening

Over the years of brushing, I have found many toothpastes I like, and many that are a disappointment.

On the list of my recent disappointments is Aquafresh Advanced 2x Whitening formula. For me, it just doesn’t do anything but remove the tartar from the day. I have gone through a whole tube and there is no noticeable whitening going on.

I don’t drink coffee, soda, or tea (all of these stain teeth) so this toothpaste had a significant boost from my habits and still failed me.

image

Pro’s

  • Cleans teeth from the daily junk.
  • Tastes fresh, but not overwhelmingly minty.
  • Generously sized tube. 6oz/170g
  • Fun color striping.

Con’s

  • Doesn’t whiten as advertised.
  • Dries out in the tube, even when securely sealed.

 

Suave Keratin Infusion Shampoo & Conditioner

Hey y’all! I return with a review of Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Shampoo and Conditioner.

Keratin Infusions

When I first tried this line, I was out of town a few years ago and had the travel size conditioner in my overnight bag. I used the conditioner like I always do and really liked the results. So I bought both when my bottle of sadness by Garnier finally ran out.

After using the shampoo and conditioner in combination, my hair was very shiny in a non greasy way, and my frizz was controlled pretty well once my hair dried.

I have unmanageable long, frizzy, dry, curly/wavy hair with an oily scalp. My usual routine is to wash, condition, sop up my hair water with a tshirt, comb into my usual style, then let my hair air dry.  The only product I use is shampoo and conditioner.  My favorite is Nexxus, but I have a budget to stick to. Enter Suave.

These products perform pretty well on their own. The shampoo smoothes and shines without the conditioner. It’s a pale gold with just a hint of shimmer, and smells pretty nice. The shampoo is thick and creamy. While it says low sulfate, it still has them in it, so this shampoo lathers. Not a ton, but it does. I use my finger tips to massage it onto my scalp and gently scrub away dirt and all that, then rinse. The shampoo that goes down your hair on rinse is really all it needs to clean the rest of your hair. Shampoo is mainly about the scalp.

After shampoo, use the Keratin Infused conditioner on the tips and body of your hair, really working it into the body and ends. It is a chunky-ish, creamy white conditioner. With whatever is left on my hands, I massage it onto my scalp. I do not usually waste the water or time to let the conditioner sit for 3 minutes. More along the lines of 1 minute. It stays on while I attend to everything else, then gets rinsed. I take fast, low water showers so the shampoo & conditioner work pretty well for the time I give them.

Pro’s:

  • Does what it says it does on my hair type.
  • Shiny, less frizzy hair
  • Price is not bad, and you can find bundled sets some times of the year.

Con’s:

  • Sulfates. Still present, even though in lower amounts.
  • The smell. It’s nice, but I got really tired of it pretty quickly.
  • Not cruelty free. They are somewhat cagey about a straight answer on their website, which is “no” in my book. If that is a cause you care about, skip this line.

Overall, if you have frizzy hair that drives you batty, go out and snag the travel size conditioner. I got mine at Target. Try the Keratin Infusions line out. Hopefully you get the same satisfactory results I do.

 

Obligatory “This post is not sponsored, my opinions are just that, nobody is paying me to talk about their stuff.”

Martinellis Sparkling Cider

Christmas! It’s almost here, and I am in the mood for a nice glass of Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider. Original Apple is my favorite flavor, followed closely by Apple Cranberry, then Apple Grape. There is also an Apple Peach flavor.

Martinelli’s has, in my extended social circle, been the non-alcoholic drink of choice for toasts, celebrations, and just kicking back with a few girl friends.

As a non-drinker, I am blessed that I get zero pressure from family and friends to enjoy some champagne or prosecco, as many a wedding and party have opted to serve only Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider to toast to various well wishes.

Martinelli’s comes in a beautiful dark green glass bottle, much like a wine bottle. The overwrap is removed, then the white lid is removed (save it for later in case you have leftovers,) and then, with the work of a few seconds and a bottle opener, the bottle cap is pried from the mouth of the bottle. The sweet tart smell of that wonderful cider wafts to your nose, as the first glass is poured.

Feel free to enjoy Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider in any type of glass. Champagne flutes are very festive. Martini glasses are always a good giggle.

However you elect to enjoy this sweet, crispy, fizzy, refreshing liquid, be careful, as you will find the bottle is always empty far too soon. This is a great reason to always buy more than you think you need.

Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider is and always will be a celebratory drink of choice for me. I buy the non-alcoholic cider outside of the holidays too. Sometimes a crisp, cold glass of that delicious apple sweetness is just the thing to end a long exhausting day, or start a new day off with a bit of pizzaz.

Flintstones Vitamins

Hello there dear readers! Today we are going to talk about my personal miracle: Flintstones Chewable Vitamins.

Recently I underwent a surgical procedure and now need to take chewable vitamins until my poor stomach figures out how to behave. After trying 3 or 4 brands of chewable vitamins and finding them utterly disgusting, I picked up Flintstones Complete Chewable Vitamins and Flintstones Chewable Plus Immunity Support.

Y’all. Y’ALL. They smell like a fruit smoothie, and taste like the flavors the package says they are (Orange, Peach, Cherry, Grape.)

When you take these, do it before you eat. If you let the vitamin residue linger, it will taste like vitamins. This is true with all chewables. Cleanse your palete. The Completes have a lingering metallic  aftertaste. Definitely eat something after taking these.

Both vitamins are gentle on my stomach and go down easily. As an added bonus, they taste fantastic!

If you have kids, these are a must. We know how kids are. Green foods are looked at with suspicion. Yellow foods are cheese by default. It’s sometimes difficult to get them to eat right. At least with a single, great tasting chewable vitamin they will have some of what they need.

The immune support chewables give a nice dose of B vitamins and some extra C. It’s the cold months now, filled with family get togethers, holiday cheer, and the little ones (and some adults) spreading germs. The extra immune support is greatly appreciated.

These two were about $6 per bottle at Walmart. Online in other places I’ve seen them for $8. Shop around and see where your best price is.

Batiste Dry Shampoo

Batiste Dry Shampoo

product_bare
Batiste Bare (Lightly Scented)

Welcome back readers!  Today we will be having a chat about Batiste Dry Shampoo!

I’ve been using this particular brand for a few years now.  My hair was super oily, and I couldn’t stop it from looking disgusting during the day.  I will be the first to admit that I am not a girly woman. My idea of style is spicing up my denim and blouse with a colorful scarf in the winter. So when I went to the hair care aisle looking for a solution, I happened upon Dry Shampoo.  Honestly, the adorable packaging is what sold me years ago.  They have some cute designs for their cans.

product_strength-and-shine
Batiste Strength and Shine

My hair is where most of my girly attention goes nowadays. I baby it with keratin infused shampoos and conditioners, I brush it carefully, and I don’t wash it every day.  I wash my hair every 3 days, actually. For the days in between, I use Batiste Dry Shampoo.  The current can I use is the Fruity & Cheeky Cherry scented. The original scent is nice and clean, and they have other options for darker hair colors as well.

 

Batiste does a good job when you follow the directions.  I lift my hair up and aim at my roots, and give it a blast, then move to the next section.  Then I wait about 30 minutes and give my roots a good massage to get the product worked in.  Brush and style as normal and I’m good to go for the day!  My hair smells good, there’s volume, and it doesn’t look oily.  My cans usually last 2 or 3 months. I have a lot of hair.

I found my can of Batiste at Target. It’s also sold at Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Ulta, and probably more places that don’t happen to be out here on the west coast. Ulta has the biggest selection of fragrances and colors by far, so if you need a justification for running on down to Ulta, here’s one! If you find a coupon for them, head to that store and take advantage of it, as they are usually around $8 per can.

PROS:

Batiste Cherry
Batiste Cherry
  • Soaks up oils
  • Leaves clean scent
  • Strong, fine spray
  • Comes in travel size

CONS:

  • The scent may be too strong for some. It does fade, but the scent with the initial blasts of product are strong!
  • Flammable
  • Aerosol spray

Up and Up Flushable Wipes

Up and Up Flushable Wipes

Welcome to my thoughts on the Up and Up Flushable Wipes!

Up and Up Flushable Wipes
Here’s what the package looks like.

Quick and Dirty Review

Good: Can purchase in large quantities and it’s not terribly expensive.
Moisturize and cleanse very well.
Portable.
Easy to get or have shipped.
The package re-seals with a closure that is plastic and has an audible click. No messy sticker closure.

Maybe: Scented. It’s not a bad scent. But they are scented.

Meh: Not ok for Basement Pump systems. I do not consider this a mark against the product, just an important note. The packaging specifically says it is septic tank safe. Use your own judgment if you are the owner of one of these systems.

Eh: You should flip the package upside down to keep the moisture distributed evenly. I simply flip it every time I clean the bathroom (twice a week). Closed securely, it has not leaked yet for me.


I love Up & Up Flushable Wipes. I don’t have kids, but these get used by almost everyone in my home. I literally order them by the case, twice a year.

What do I do with them? There is always a package of these in my purse. When I’m out, and I use a public restroom, these are better option than scratchy cheap toilet paper or worse, no paper at all! The latter option happens frequently.

There is always a package of Up & Up Flushable Wipes in the bathroom at my home. If you’re familiar with the issue of toilet paper just not leaving you feeling clean enough, these will help give you that clean feeling you need. If you’re like millions of other people on this planet, maybe you have digestive issues that leave you feeling raw. A good swipe of these cleans the acidic feeling away and the aloe and vitamin E helps soothe your behind. They are flushable too. I only flush one at a time though.

If I’ve been out and I just feel gross, but there’s so much more of the day to go, a couple of these help me feel refreshed.

They have done great things for my face as well. As s I mentioned in my Super Fruits Cream review, my skin is extremely sensitive. These do not bother me in the slightest, and the additives help my skin feel nice. I am super oily/super dry combination skin, so I use at least one of these a week to refresh my bare face. You greasy guys and gals understand what I mean.

I would not use these as makeup remover. They do not have the right ingredients to remove makeup. If you’re super sensitive, a good soft cloth and olive oil are your friends for removing makeup.

Overall, I am pleased with the cost, quality, and versatility of Up & Up Flushable Wipes. I buy the case with 9 packages of 48 wipes. It costs me $11 for one case.