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Lifestyle Unboxed

It’s hard to believe that a just a few weeks ago, Mother Nature was trying to cut my review time with the 2017 Mazda6 short. I mean, I did have to break out the shovel, ice pick, and snow boots, but I made sure to get in some quality drive – and shopping – time.    

2017 Mazda6

Let me get the obvious out of the way first:  one never appreciates a car more than when the weather is brutal. This was especially true of the Mazda6. Everything about the car felt luxurious – the warm interior, heated seats, and rear-window defogger. Seriously,  I was so happy not to have to walk in the cold that every included feature felt like a rare gift.    

2017 Mazda6 GPS

Once I’d thawed out a bit, I was able to evaluate the car more fairly.

The 2017 Mazda6 is slightly larger than the 2017 Mazda3, offering more leg and headroom. It also has more horsepower. Besides that, the 4-door sedans are nearly identical and come with Bluetooth connectivity for navigation and hands-free dialing, a  digital center console, an infotainment system, and Sirius XM Satellite radio. 

2017 Mazda6 Rear Camera

The built-in touch screen display provides GPS directions and switches to rear view when you’re reversing to backup or park. It also shows incoming calls on screen, if you have your cell phone synced to the car – which only took a few seconds to do. 

2017 Mazda6 Trunk

The Mazda6 also has a tad more space in the trunk (14.8 cubic feet) than the Mazda3 (12.4 cubic feet), which depending on your shopping habits can be a deal closer ;). I fit around $200 worth of groceries in the trunk and had plenty of space to spare. (And, before you comment on my food spending – know I hadn’t been grocery shopping in a while).    

2017 Mazda6 Rear

The car handled the snow covered roads smoothly, and I felt safe driving it on the still wet streets.  

The 2017 Mazda6 seats five, and includes front airbags, front side-impact airbags, and side-impact air curtains. It also has advanced safety features like blindside monitoring and city break support – to help you avoid collisions. 

The 2017 Mazda6  gets up to 26 miles to the gallon in the city and 35 miles to the gallon on the highway. It starts at $25,245 – around $3,000 more than the 2017 Mazda3. If you need the extra space, I’d say spring for the Madza6. 

You can also check out more info on the Mazda6 here

-XOXO Charell Star | Not Just A Girl In A Dress 

The new LG G6 launches around the world today and it is clearly LG’s best smartphone yet. I’ve been testing the phone out for a little over a week and been impressed by the phone so far. 

Check out my latest Lifestyle Unboxed video to see how it works and measures up.  

Also, check out the 7 things you should know about the new LG G6 below. 


It’s Got A Big Screen with A Sharp Display

The LG G6 includes a 5.7-inch screen which takes up 80% of the real-estate on the front of the phone. Despite the large size, the phone fits snugly in one hand and I was able to swipe apps easily with my The actual dimensions of the phone is 5.9 by 2.8 by 0.3 inches which is smaller (and lighter) than the Google Pixel XL and iPhone 7 Plus.  Also, it’s 2880×1440 resolution made images and videos look crisp on the screen.   

It’s Got Three Cameras 

One of my favorite features on the LG G6 is it dual rear 13-megapixel cameras. One camera takes standard shots and the other takes wide screen shots. The phone includes some manual controls that allow you to manipulate the light and shutter speeds. The rear camera also takes 4K video with both rear cameras.  

LG G6 Dual Camera – Standard Camera (L) and Wide Angle Canera (R)

The LG G6 also includes a 5-megapixel front-facing camera for selfies. 

LG G6 – Front Facing (Selfie)Camera Shot
It’s Water Resistant 


LG G6 Submerged

It’s crazy for a phone not to be water-resistant these days and LG clearly agrees. The new G6 is water tight and can be submerged in up three feet of water for 30 minutes without damage.  

It’s Got A Headphone Jack

Some phone brands may want to move you to purchase wireless headphone by not including a standard headphone jack on the device, but LG hasn’t made that move yet. The phone includes a good-old headphone jack which allows you to use your favorite wired headphones. I’m still struggling to find a brand of wireless headphones that fit in my tiny ears, so this oldie feature is a win for me.   

It’s Got A Solid Battery Life

The battery clocks in at just under 7 hours when I streamed a video over wi-fi which is pretty solid.  It includes a 3,300 mAh battery which lasts for about 22.5 hours of talk time. Unlike previous models of the “G” Series phones, the battery in the G6 is not swappable. This is mainly because the phone is built water-tight, so it can’t be opened and shut. Not being able to carry a second battery is not a big deal for me, but some may not like it.   

It’s Expandable 

The US version of the LG G6 includes 32 GB of built-in storage, which may not be large enough if you like to store lots of photos or videos on your phone – like I do. The phone does include a micro-SD slot and is expandable to 2TB of storage. However, when researching micro-SD cards I learned that 512GB is the largest available size currently on the market. So, realistically 524 GB (32GB built-in storage + 512GB expandable card) is the largest amount of storage the LG will be able to hold at one time for the time being – which is still plenty for most people.       

It’s Designed for Wireless Charging 

The LG G6 includes a USB Type-C charging cable in the box but is built to allow wireless charging. I did not have a wireless charger pad, so I was unable to try this feature out. The phone does support both Qi and PMA wireless charging. For regular wall charging the phone takes about an hour and 28 minutes to charge fully when it is fully drained. 

Additionally, the LG G6 sounds good when making and receiving calls –  which is a standard requirement of any smartphone. It comes in three colors: black, platinum and white. I tested a black model and it shows finger smudges clearly. You’ll probably want to get a case if you go with the black color. 

Also, the LG G6 runs between $600 and $750 depending on carrier.  

Overall, the LG G6 is a great phone with all necessary feature. It’s one to consider if it’s time for an update. 

-XOXO Charell Star| Not Just A Girl In A Dress 

LG G6 Dual Camera: Standard Shot (l) Wide Angle Shot (r) 


Compact, comfy and oh so cute, the 2017 Mazda3 packs a lot to like in a small package. I test drove an automatic 4-door sedan for a week (it also comes in a hatchback) and the ride was pretty awesome.   

Kicking it with my (loaner) Mazda3

First off, the car handles really, really well, like surprising well considering the price. Yes, $21,495 is nothing to sneeze at, but cars around this price point can be hit or miss. I drove this bad boy all around New York City and northern New Jersey to run errands. It was totally smooth sailing on the bumpy streets and long stretches of highway.  

Mazda3 Dashboard

The Mazda3 gets 28 miles to the gallon in the city and 37 miles to the gallon on the highway.  I drove a 2-30 mile radius around my home each day and didn’t have to refill the tank once. Plus, I still had more than a quarter tank at the end of the week. 

2017 Mazda3 Center Console

Not having to stop to grab gas was great and so was all the handy tech features built into the car. The Mazda3 includes a digital center console, an infotainment system, Sirius XM Satellite radio, hands-free dialing and Bluetooth connectivity for navigation. Of course, the first thing I did was sync my cell phone with the car. My Spotify playlist sounded great playing through the 6-speaker system and I might have got wrapped up in some carpool karaoke whiles sitting at a stoplight or two;).   

2017 Mazda3 Infotainment System and Dual Temperature Controls

I totally dug the built-in touch screen display which is the control panel for all the car’s tech features. It shows incoming calls, GPS directions, and the rear view when you’re reversing to backup or park. Below are dual temperature controls and buttons to activate the amazing heated seats.  

2017 Mazda3 Exterior

Overall, the inside of the Mazda3 was very roomy, despite its compact size. It seats five, includes a good-size trunk, advanced safety features like blindside monitoring and city break support in addition to front air bags, front side-impact air bags, and side-impact air curtains. 

2017 Mazda3 Rear

The Mazda3 is a strong car that feels firm as you drive. The added tech features make it a great value for the price and one to add to the consideration list.

You can also check out more info on the Mazda3 here

-XOXO Charell Star | Not Just A Girl In A Dress 

The 2017 Nissan Rogue is one of those cars you instantly love when you hop in it. Not to be all hyperbolic about it, but it is just a really smooth riding car wrapped in a solid sleek body. 

2017 Nissan Rogue – Not Just A Girl In A Dress Review

I got my first experience with the 2017 Rogue when I rode in the backseat of one to a film premiere a few weeks ago. I was impressed by how the car handled the New York City roads and how spacious the car felt, so I sent a request to the brand to borrow one to test drive and review. 

2017 Nissan Rogue – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

The compact SUV is available in three trim levels or models: the basic “S,” mid-range “SV” and the top-of-the-line “SL.” I test drove an “SV” model with all-wheel-drive for seven days.  

2017 Nissan Rogue – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

The SV model gets 32 miles-per-gallon on the highway and 25 in the city. It also comes loaded with automatic headlights, keyless entry and ignition and heated mirrors that keep visibility clear during inclement weather. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather.    

2017 Nissan Rogue Interior – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

The Rogue also features a six-way power driver seat – which is awesome for short people like me who need the seat to be at maximum height at all times but want to get in and out of the car without bumping our heads on the roof.  It also seats five.  

2017 Nissan Rogue Interior – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

I have come to dread blind-spot monitoring in most cars that I test drive, but the 2017 Rogue’s turned out to be pretty well designed. It comes standard along with rear- cross-traffic alert and notifies drivers of hazards in their blind-spot or when objects or other cars are too close. Normally, I feel the systems can be too sensitive, beeping way too often (like whenever another car is around).

The Rogue’s safety system felt balanced and would only beep or flash when there were true hazards to alert me about. The result was I didn’t find myself tuning out its warning system the way I have others.  

2017 Nissan Rogue Interior – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

I totally dug having dual-zone automatic climate control and seat warmers. The touch-screen monitor was also a big bonus. Besides it functioning as a rear-view monitor when I parked, it included in-car navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and voice activation dialing. It took less than a minute to sync my iPhone with the system. Phone calls were crystal clear through the six-speaker audio system and my music played seamlessly every time I turned the car on.      

2017 Nissan Rogue Interior – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

The cargo hold was pretty roomy and included hidden floor compartments for when you needed to transport tall items. 

2017 Nissan Rogue Interior – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

The back row of seats also folds flat to increase the storage capacity.  

2017 Nissan Rogue – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress
How it Drives

Actually driving the 2017 Nissan Rogue was really fun. The car handles really well on the road, around curves and on the construction-laden/pot-hole filled streets of my neighborhood. I felt safe and in control of the car at all times, even on windy stretches of road. The car was comfortable and it was easy to feel like I was driving a more expensive model at times. 

Also, it was great not having to worry about fitting the car in tight parking spaces due to its compact design – which is great for city-dwellers.

With a mid-range starting price of $25,240, the 2017 Nissan Rogue SV is a compact SUV to consider if you value comfort, power, and price.   

-XOXO Charell Star | Not Just A Girl In A Dress   

Thanks to technology there is really no excuse for handing your friends a poorly mixed drink. Apps like Alchemy and LiquorCabinet turn any smartphone into a cocktail recipe guide and more than a few startups have been working like mad to make the process even simpler.

Enter the Perfect Drink Pro from Perfect Company, a recipe app that works with a drink smart scale to help users create a near flawless cocktail every time. It precisely weighs your ingredients as you pour for accuracy and notifies you when to stop.

I tested it out and was wowed by the results.   Check out my Lifestyle Unboxed video to see how it works and my tips for use.

The setup was pretty easy. After downloading the Perfect Drink App to my ipad, I synced it with the smart scale via Bluetooth. I did need to add three AA batteries to the scale first. They weren’t included in the box, but it did come with a metal cobbler shaker and a stand for my tablet.


From there I picked a recipe from the tons of ones listed on the app to test out. I selected a “Bees’ Knees” – one of my favorites – so I’d be able to compare it to ones I’ve had in the past.


The app provides set-by-step instructions for mixing recipes down to telling when to add the shaker to the scale and the order to pour in the ingredients. The app gives you a little ding every time you complete a step and are ready to move on to the next one.  Also, if you happen to ah-hem, overpour your liquor or mixer, the app will automatically update the measurements of the remaining ingredients, so your cocktail still comes out tasting right.

The app also tells you when to add ice and exactly how long to shake all your ingredients. I needed 12-seconds to achieve the correct level of coldness for my drink.


The Results:

My Bees’ Knees cocktail was one of the best that I ever had, no lie.  I would totally be ecstatic if a mixologist handed me one of these at my local bar and could see myself extending my evening by order one or two more.

And, that’s the beauty of being able to mix a good drink at home. You can turn you living room into the fav hangout spot for your friends, with a little tech help on the bartending front.

Mixing cocktails – like baking- is just chemistry in a more fun form, so following the recipe is a surefire way to get an outcome you’ll like. The Perfect Drink Pro is $99 on Amazon and would be a great at-home bar addition or a fun gift for a friend who loves to entertain. -XOXO

-XOXO Charell Star | Not Just A Girl In A Dress

It’s holiday time which means lots of home-cooked cookies, cakes, sweet breads, and pies. In my house, we always used a basic hand mixer, but there’s a point when you may want to up your multitasking baking game to save time or make more intricate dishes. In that case, a stand mixer might be the next logical step for you.

I test the SMEG Stand Mixer . Check out my Lifestyle Unboxed video to see how it works and my tips for use.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the SMEG Stand Mixer. It has a 10-speed motor which would be great for whisking meringues to crusts. Also, the motor wasn’t as loud as some other models I’ve tested at stores.

I also appreciated that it came with more than one mixing attachment. The box includes a flat beater, dough hook and wire whisk and they all felt pretty sturdy. The SMEG Stand Mixer is also packed with the 5-qt stainless steel mixing bowl, a plastic spatula, and pouring cover.


The site calls the pouring cover a “plastic bowl cover,” but that’s not an accurate description. I thought it was going to be a lid, but it doesn’t cover the entire bowl. It’s designed to keep items from splashing when the mixer is on and to easily transfer liquids out of the bowl.


The SMEG Stand Mixer is also pretty weighty. It’s about 20 lbs, so you won’t be traveling with it often. It’s very sturdy when it in use and you don’t have to worry about it sliding or moving due to the anti-slip feet on the base. The weight also means you have an excuse to use when people as you to borrow it;).

It also comes in some very fun retro colors. The one I reviewed was bold red, but it also comes in chrome, sky blue, pink and several other options. Of course, you don’t need a mixer that is colorful. But, if it’s going to be out on the counter, I’d rather have one that is pleasant to look at.  Why be boring?

The SMEG Stand Mixer is available at Williams-Sonoma for $459.99 and is totally worth checking out.

-XOXO Charell Star | Not Just A Girl In A Dress

So, I got to spend some time in my first compact crossover and it was pretty awesome. Riding around in the 2016 Mazda CX-5 opened my eyes to why people gravitate to bigger cars in the first place – the extra internal room is a game changer.

I quickly found myself taking on tasks that I’d been putting off for months because I could knock them out in one trip.  One large chore was to haul some stuff to my storage unit to declutter my tiny apartment.

retouchedThe hubby and I live in a walkup so carting the bulky items down was anything but fun. Luckily, everything fit in the Mazda CX-5 with plenty of room to spare, so we didn’t have to get creative with our packing skills.


The back seats fold flat so we just tossed everything in the car.


After we dropped everything at the storage unit we drove to a cute French lunch spot in Cranford, NJ – Cafe Paris and got some savory crepes as a reward. 2016-11-06-10-49-12

I spent the rest of the week exploring all the features of the Mazda CX-5.  The car includes a touchscreen navigation system that is Bluetooth enabled.


Of course, I quickly paired my phone with the car which was pretty simple. There was a small bug in the pairing as it wasn’t able to find my device the first few times I exited and re-entered the car, but this fixed itself by the third time I re-entered the car. From there I was always connected.

Also, the Bluetooth system allowed me to make voice activated calls and would tell me who was on the line when my phone would ring – which was a handy feature.

The navigation system also features GPS, a rearview camera, satellite radio as well as AM and FM stations. You can also play music from your cell phone once paired.

The built-in GPS wasn’t as challenging as previous Mazda models, but that could be because I am more accustomed to the system after reviewing several of their cars this year. It’s still not as smart as I’d like it to be – since it makes you enter the country, state, and city for your destination – but it’s hardly a dealbreaker in a car that offers so many other positives.

2016-11-05-15-38-34-hdrThe rearview camera is just BAE. I don’t think I’d even buy a car without one after using it to park in tight spaces.

The car also comes with iActivSense which is basically radar technology that warns you of hazards that get too close to you or you get too close to them;). The car beeps to let you know to pay attention. The system wasn’t nearly as sensitive as when I reviewed the Mazda CX-3 which was great. Plus, the Mazda CX-5 was larger than the compact cars I normally drive, so having the extra feature made me feel more comfortable as I adjusted to the extra space.


The Mazda CX-5 seats five and also includes a keyless remote, touch start, sunroof, dual heating and AC as well as front and side air-bags.

Riding in the car felt smooth as silk and I didn’t feel the bumps when I traveled some of the under-construction streets and roadways in New Jersey. Also, the car felt roomy without being overpowering, which is something I was worried about since I’m such a small person (5’3).

I’m not a mommy yet but did find myself thinking this car would be a good choice for parents who don’t want to sacrifice being cool.

The 2016 Mazda CX-5 starts at $23,195 and you can see more in my Lifestyle Unboxed video above.

-XOXO Charell Star| Not Just A Girl In A Dress