Sketchfactor: Free Beauty Samples. Influenster. Free Stuffz.

Free stuff is nice but fake recommendations are uncool. You-can’t-sit-with-me-at-lunch uncool. I guess I need to state in this post that any product I say I like anywhere at all, I like it’s not because it was free or expensive but because it’s just friggin sweet.

That said, I’ve found this company called Influenster. It’s a website you sign up for membership or be invited by a friend. This company then periodically sends boxes of beauty & lifestyle sample(s) for you to try. You do not get products all the time nor are any promised at sign-up; they have specific rules about who gets what, based on your personal profile and lifestyle. I’ve actually gotten emails from them asking for further information regarding a potential sample and been turned down to participate due to my responses. I guess I can’t blame them. If the sample was chili pepper flavored lip gloss and I despise chilis, I’m not the right gal.

About a year ago when I had become a “member” of Influenster after a friends’ recommendation, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Truly, I get as excited when I receive an Influenster box in the mail the same as I do as if I ordered from Sephora. I just like getting packages. I am most pleasantly surprised by full sized, name brand products. Some are awesome new things, some things I don’t keep (i.e. nail polish in a terrible color). I happily fill out the -unrequired- little survey and hope that my testing helps improve the product {fyi, to date I have gotten 3 boxes in said time}. I love filling out forms and surveys. I am lame. Anyway. If the tester choses to share the product on social media, Influenster kindly reminds sample recipients to lawfully disclose that the product was provided by Influenster for sampling purposes, in case the person has forgotten how to be a decent human being.

There are products I’ve never even mentioned here (…or on my other internetz) that I absolutely love or even hate that I’ve gotten for free, and Influenster does not “punish” you or specifically praise you for doing either; I would never sign up to be a member of a sample company that made or guilted me into giving false positive reviews and I quite like that. I’m not one to tell my friends I like something when I really don’t, for the sake of getting a $3 eyeliner for free; it’s never worth it. And I’m a terrible liar.

I read/watch beauty bloggers and YouTubers who receive free samples to review and while I can appreciate the fact these beauty gurus promise the reviews are honest, I still wonder what the contractual obligations are, if any. I’m new to all of this beauty blogging and so I suppose I’m just inexperienced as far as samples and sponsorships go, but it weirds me out a bit. Usually viewers can figure out if the post/video is sponsored anyway so my opinion is just be upfront – don’t insult me and take your viewing audience for stupid. I love trying new stuff as much as the next product junkie, but I’m not interested in being dishonest for money. For some reason that makes me think of mobsters. I’d be a beauty mobster. I’d have a tv documentary after my stint in jail. I’d smuggle in lip balm… I think this is where I should stop.

So that’s my minimal experience with free stuffz. Thoughts, advice, or opinions on sponsorships or free products?

Top 10 Pinterest Recipes I’ve Made

I have taken to cooking in the past year or so more than ever due to Pinterest.  Wait. Before you go and think, “Here we go… what a typical girl,” I honestly hated Pinterest with a flaming passion for a good 2 years. I thought it was half a knockoff of Tumblr which I was forever faithful to (and still am, to some degree) and half a Google Images search for things tagged as “damask print.”

It didn’t help that all the people I thought were kind of  ::ahem::  lame kept posting photos the terribly pathetic crafts they had made and pictures of things they would, “Omg Srsly Abs ❤ to Make, Like Srsly!” for their, I don’t know… keg party, all thanks to this social website. Needless to say, I had/have some type of weird relationship with Pinterest and it took me a while to get over my innate hatred for the thing.

Now let me explain how this hate turned to – almost, kind of, pretty darn near – love. I decided one day that I wanted to start to cook a bit more since it’s exponentially better for you and I’m kind of a health/organic/natural nut. Not the “Tree-hugs and Patchouli!” kind, just the “No Chemicals!” kind. And to tell you the truth, I’m not entirely strict about all that, either. I guess I’m good at being an organic natural freak when I feel like it cause lezzzzbehonest, I still eat Kraft Sharp Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese.

Anyway… I thought about getting recipes online and how truly time consuming it would be. I then realized people Pin things on Pinterest because they’ve made them or they look enticing enough to digitally save. I thought it’d be a great way to make dishes that real people actually like cause Rachel Ray may look like she’s making something delightful but how many people would make it themselves at home? Cookbooks are for fangirls. Pinterest recipes is like surveying the huge vast Pinterest audience for the best of the best. Warning: any & all of my logic may be flawed.

Here are 10 of my most favorited recipes from the past year or so, most of which I’ve made over and over again. Voters include: Myself, My boyfriend Jayme, My Chihuahua Stu, and Fini the Beef-Jerky-eating cat.

Aand if you’re, per chance, interested in more stuff I Pin: StoneFawx Pinterest

Avocado Corn Salsa (My first Pinterest recipe ever!) This dip is to die for and super healthy and simple. I also top salads and tacos off with this stuff if any is left over!

avocadocornsalsaPhoto Credit: Freerecipenetwork.com

Arugula Zucchini Pesto Pasta Holy moses, is this good. I rarely have pine nuts on hand so I often omit those. It’s still incredible.

1d8ec71fcd442a788cbd02eaeef3ec1cPhoto Credit: Tastykitchen.com

Cheeseburger Cassarole  This stuff is life-changing. I mean it. I use vegan beef crumbles and it honestly does taste like a McDonald’s hamburger which is amazing to me since I haven’t had one in like, 20 years. I think we’ve made this probably 7 times since we discovered it cause it’s so. damn. good.

Da-CheezburgPhoto Credit: http://asimplelifeinspired.blogspot.com

BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad  Another winner we make over and over again. It’s simple and I use fake chicken and a lot more corn! Oh, and I love this blog since I find lots of recipes I love here (iowagirleats, link below).

BBQ-Chicken-Chopped-Salad-01_miniPhoto Credit: http://iowagirleats.com

Smothered Sweet Pork Burritos  I made these for my meat-eating boyfriend and he just about died at the table. Do yourself a favor and make these!!

sweet-pork-burrito1Photo Credit: http://www.melskitchencafe.com

2 Ingredient Cookies I doubled this batch and they were gone in 1 day. Sad and true. However, they’re only about 33 calories each plus any mixins so really… it’s practically free calories. Kind of. Not really. I baked mine for 20 minutes and they were perfect!

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Photo Credit: http://www.theburlapbag.com

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Protein Bars   I honestly don’t really eat a lot of protein bars but my bf does so I found this recipe and he pleaded we try it immediately. We finished the first batch and wasted no time making a second. Tip: If you want chewier bars, use half the protein or use the same protein but add applesauce.

cinnamon-chocolate-chip-protein-bars-v-

Photo Credit: http://www.thegraciouspantry.com

Pumpkin Apple Banana Bread  This is an incredible and easy bread to make. I love chunks of apples in just about anything so this was right up my alley. We made 2 batches of this so far and doubled it every time.

a83565bb6271eed2ae3c242cc3559b8dPhoto Credit: http://juliasalbum.com

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Alfredo Doesn’t it just sound incredible? It’s easy too. I used skim milk and smart balance and it turned out fantastic just the same. We had it as a main dish and then as a side the next night. Perfect for both.

dc1b796e97aba44380b91945ab642877Photo Credit: http://www.tablefortwoblog.com

Skinny Funfetti Dip  I think this is the most famous Pinterest recipe out there and rightfully so. I miss Dunkaroos and this is the healthy version, if there ever could be one. I don’t make this very often or I’d easily be a diabetic by now. I serve it with animal crackers cause I’m truly an overgrown child and I don’t care! 🙂

f200cd957603115fdf0a1672fb1edf0dPhoto Credit: http://sweettreatsmore.com

Thanks to all those wonderful people out there who take the time to blog their amazing kitchen concoctions so I don’t go hungry! hehe

If anyone happens to read this and know of recipes I would love, please leave it in the comments; I don’t know what to make for dinner tonight 😛

-SF