Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Birchbox Review - December 2013

Happy New Year's Eve!

This post is kinda late, but better late than never, right? As long as I review December's box before the year ends then I say it's not too late. I received my Birchbox in the mail the day after Christmas - it would've been so awesome if I got it on Christmas Eve, kinda like the last present under the tree. :) Oh well, I'm happy it didn't get lost in the mail amid all the parcel craziness. I must apologize for all the dark yellowy pictures in this post. These pics were all taken after dark, and indoor lighting is apparently no match for natural daylight.

Instead of Birchbox's usual bright pink outer box, this month's box was designed to look like a gold Christmas present. How cute! The inner box was also different for the holidays:

I've been so busy with holiday stuff lately that I barely had time to try out the samples I received in my box, so this might be more of an overview of what I got rather than an actual review of the products. But I'll update as I try em out. I was hoping I'd receive at least one of the spoilers announced for the December box, but no such luck :( Especially The Honest Company Healing Balm or Manna Kadar Sheer Glo Shimmer Lotion. Oh well, better luck next time.

Elite Therapeutics Elite Creme
This cream contains manuka honey and avocado oil to soothe and hydrate skin. It has a pleasant citrus scent to it and is not overly oily, so you don't feel trapped in a cocoon of moisture. The 1 oz. sample size was also generous for a moisturizer. Score! However, I didn't notice any hydrating effects on my skin. But then again, it's not very cold and dry where I live so my skin rarely gets dry and/or sensitive.

Eyeko Skinny Mini Liquid Eyeliner
I'm not a fan of liquid eyeliners because (a) they're messier than pencils and (b) I don't have a steady hand. Give me liquid liner and I'll show you what makeup's worst nightmare looks like. That being said, I must commend Eyeko on making a smudge proof product. I swatched it on my hand and immediately tried rubbing it off. No can do. It stay put all day. However, due to my jerky hands I probably won't be using this anytime soon. Sorry, Eyeko, it's not you, it's me.

Hair Rules Daily Cleansing Cream No Suds Shampoo
This shampoo is supposed to clean your hair sans suds with the help of honey and lemongrass extract. It doesn't contain detergents so you don't have to worry about any damaging adverse effects when shampooing your hair. Me? Well, I like suds. I guess I shouldn't knock it before I try it, but I don't like my hair feeling squeaky clean when I wash it because it gets tangled. The suds make the tangles seem so much more manageable. On the up side, at 2 oz, this is a very generous sample size.

Update 1/13/14: I still prefer suds. This has lasted me three uses so far and I can't get over not having lather on my hair. It's fine for non-workout days when my hair is not a bird nest nightmare, but add in some (okay, lots of) tangles and my fingers get annoyed and stuck from feeling every single knot. Furthermore, the shampoo tends to leave your hair literally feeling squeaky clean, definitely not what I'd like to feel, as I link squeaky clean to a lack of natural hair oils.

La Fresh Travel Lite Makeup Remover Wipes
These wipes are intended for wiping away makeup on-the-go in order to avoid a cosmetic faux pas. Unfortunately, I don't wear makeup very often so I probably won't get a chance to try this anytime soon. I am rather picky with makeup removers, though. A lot of the ones that work well are too oily for my liking, and a lot of the ones that aren't oily don't work well. We'll see how this measures up.

Update 2/27/14: Okay, this is looong overdue, but I tried these out a while back and it's great! Did its job and didn't leave an oily residue on my face. However, I never carry extra makeup with me, so if I get a smudge here and a blob there, I just create a really epic story to tell anyone who might ask rather than remove and reapply makeup before anyone discovers my fiasco. 

Twistband - in Silver
This was my lifestyle extra for December. Honestly, this was a bit of a dud for me. Twistbands are wide so that they don't leave an ugly crease in your hair from wearing a ponytail too long. Yeah they're cute, and I really like the silver color because it matches anything I might be wearing, but it really does not match my lifestyle. I wear ponytails when helping to coach wrestling, and I'll need something that can withstand tugging and pulling and being twisted and retwisted into 10 ponytails each practice. In other words, I need something I can buy in bulk for cheap because I go through about one rubberband a week. I suppose I could use these exclusively for non-strenuous circumstances, but that'd mean carrying around a Twistband and a plain ol' hair tie everyday, and that's just too much accessorizing for this Plain Jane.

Birchbox Screen Cleaner
This was actually a plug for the Birchbox app rather than a December box item. On the flip side of the card pictured above is a chance to get 20% off your next Birchbox Shop purchase for downloading the iPhone app. I hope Birchbox comes out with an Android app soon so I can get 20% off too. :) And what better way to advertise your app than to give out a practical freebie? On one side, this little guy is a screen cleaner that can cling to your phone or case using the other side. While I think it's a really cute and clever way to advertise, I probably won't be using it because with the way I treat my phone, it won't last a day. I stuck it to the back of my phone for 2 seconds and when I lifted it off there was all this dust and junk stuck on it already. I guess that's what happens when you throw your phone all over the place.

Overall this box was just okay for me. I could possibly see myself using the Elite creme and maaaybe the twistband if I ever run out of hair ties, but chances are I won't even use those because the climate doesn't get dry enough to dry out my skin and I always keep an abundance of hair bands at home. I'll have to see about the makeup wipes the next time I decide to wear makeup (could be anywhere within the next two weeks to the next two months though). But since my previous three boxes have been great, I'll let this one slide and stick it out for the new year. If you want your very own Birchbox, sign up here to subscribe!

Note: Post contains referral links. I purchased this box with my own money and was not compensated in any way for this review.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Baribox Review - December 2013

Merry Christmas everybody! Hope Santa brought everyone tons of fun and goodies!!  I was totally looking forward to Xmas dinners and parties but just had to get food poisoning on Xmas Eve. Bummer. But I'm still happy because C spent the whole time pampering me and making sure I got better. Thanks C! Now on to the review...

Thanks to the holiday season and a short budget, I decided to rediscover my domesticated side. Homemade sweets and handmade cards are the way to go when you don't have a whole lot to spend on shiny toys and brand new electronics. Well actually I've been practicing my baking skills for the past few years so that's nothing new. What is new is my renewed interest in crafting. I've always appreciated handmade works of art but have never been able to find the time to keep up with such a hobby. So I guess it's pretty odd that even though I have less time on my hands now between work and helping to coach high school sports, I somehow manage to find time to squeeze in crafting -- I guess the holidays can do that to you.

But, I digress. With my renewed thirst for crafting knowledge and materials, I stumbled upon a new crafting subscription called BARiBOX. According to their website, each month you receive a carefully curated selection of paper-crafting products to use. Based on what I've seen online Baribox doesn't appear to be a value box where you receive a greater value of product than you pay for. Rather, I see it more as a box that contains (almost) everything you need to complete a paper craft project.

Baribox costs $12.99/month including shipping, but you can also choose a 3-, 6-, 12-, or 15-month plan. The cost per month goes down a few cents with the extended plans, so I decided to pick up the 3-month plan for $38 ($12.67/box). Based on the shipping table Baribox provided, my box wasn't supposed to go out until February, but I got an email just 3 days after I signed up telling me it was on its way! What's even better is their shipping. Baribox ships via UPS Mail Innovations, and in my personal experience things shipped via Mail Innovations take for-ev-er to reach me in HI (we're talking 2-3 weeks from the east coast). So you can imagine my surprise when I received my much-awaited package in just 5 days! I must commend them on their cute packaging. I didn't get a picture of the tape used to seal the box, but it had cute gingerbread men on it. And then there was this cute sticker on the box as well:

Inside was a welcome card on top of the neatly wrapped goodies. I love when a company takes care in packing their boxes. I also like that the sticker didn't tear the tissue paper, so I can reuse it for a project, or maybe just to wrap a belated Christmas present...

Also with the welcome card was a little "welcome packet" which included a pencil, pin, and a code for 20% off a 3-month subscription.

Studio G Christmas Stamp & Ink Pad
I guess it's my fault for not subscribing to this box earlier, but this stamp would've been great to use with my latest Christmas card-making adventure. I also don't have this color ink...I think it's silver? I haven't opened it yet, but really curious to see what it looks like on paper.

Studio G Snowman Mini Punch & String
I can already think of lots of crating ideas for this punch! Maybe for next year. Never too early to start planning! And I can always find a use for the string. What's great is that it contains basic colors that are fitting for any occasion.
Studio G Loose Extra Fine Glitter
You can't really tell from the picture, but this set contains black, silver, and a light blue glitter. This is the first light blue I've owned, and I'm excited to try it out! 
Blank White Note Cards with Envelope
I love blank white cards because you can make a card for practically ANY occasion. (In fact, I just bought a pack of blank white cards just before I got this in the mail!) Now that Christmas is over, I guess I'll have to use these for something else...hmm, whose birthday is coming up next? :)

Overall I am satisfied with this month's box. I can use all the products I received (some of them probably not till next Christmas, but I'll still use them). The only complaints I have is that all of the products were from Studio G. I would love to see a bit more variety in the boxes, especially from companies whose products I don't normally see in the stores. Also, although I'm pretty sure this is not a value box, it'd still be nice to see me get my money's worth in products. A quick calculation in my head tells me that I received about $7-8 worth of items but paid over $12 for the box. Maybe since Baribox is still fairly new, they're still trying to establish strong partnerships, so I'll see how the next couple of months goes.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Barkbox Review - December 2013

The other day was an awesome delivery day. I got THREE boxes in the mail! The first was a shipment of poop bags (500 to be exact) I ordered from Coupaw during their Black Friday sale -- they were less than $0.03 a piece! How awesome is that?! The second was my first ever BARiBOX, a paper crafting subscription box that I've been super duper eagerly awaiting. I'll make a separate post about that one later. And last, but definitely not least, was our beloved Barkbox. I continue to be impressed with Barkbox's quick shipping, even during the holidays (I'm also impressed with Baribox shipping, but more on that later). Without further ado, let's dive in.

This month's theme was sharing. We share everything with our pups-- treats, beds, secrets, and kisses. And this box contains more of that good stuff to carry us to the new year. Here's what we got:

Wigzi Pocket Bone
Before I review this let me start with a little back story: A couple of months ago Barkbox started sending out online box review forms (it was the first time they sent me one, anyway) and asked what I'd like to see in future Barkboxes. I mentioned that Macho really enjoys working for his treats so more treat dispensing toys would be perfect. Based on this month's Barkbox reviews I've seen online, it seems like all the medium dog boxes came with a different toy, most of them plush. I don't know if Barkbox actually read each review and tried tailoring the toy to match each dog's tastes (though I'd like to believe they did!), but I'm so glad I received a treat dispensing toy rather than a plush one (he loves those, but he rips the stuffing out of em in no time). But anyway, on to the toy...

This bone has two pockets you can stuff with treats. And it's dishwasher safe! It also floats so you can continue playing your game of fetch in the water. The middle section is really flexible and can withstand bending and pulling. I didn't really have any treats that would fit nicely but I squeezed one in anyway. He got it out instantly and lost interest, so I stuffed it again and threw it, expecting Macho to run after it like I was throwing away his favorite toy. Unfortunately, he just kinda watched it sail through the air then turned his attention right back to the box and zeroed in on the one thing that caught his attention:

Barkworthies Junior Bully Stick
This one has only one ingredient: 100% beef bladder. Treat makers use everything in dog treats - ears, hooves, peepee, liver, tendons, and now bladder. Well at least nothing on the animal goes to waste. This was a 6" piece that's supposed to be long lasting, but pups finished it in less than 10 minutes. He did love every second of those 10 minutes though. He's such a sucker for chews.

Hare of the Dog Rabbit Recipe with Red Apple and Dandelion
Fluffs first tried rabbit in his Barkbox a couple of months ago, and from the looks of it I think he likes it. He likes apples for sure. Not sure about dandelions though. Not even I've tried them before. I guess we'll have to try it and see.

Wet Noses Big Bone - in Peanut Butter & Molasses
This is such a cute company name. And that picture! Love it. Although Macho didn't pick this out of the box first, I'm pretty sure he'll like it. He loves peanut butter. But then again he hasn't been into biscuit-type treats lately as much as the jerkies and animal chews...Oh no, my boy has turned into a total carnivore!

Plato Eos Turkey with Cranberry Treats
I haven't opened these yet, but there's a little window on the back of the bag and by the looks of it, I think the furball will find these deeeeelish. These treats look like chunks of juicy meat, almost like a jerky nugget. I'm pretty sure it also smells as great as it looks. I think I'll save these for when Macho is super good and goes an entire day without getting into trouble. I might be waiting quite a while, but if these are as great as I think they are, it'll be worth it.

Overall this month's box was okay. If the pup still enjoyed biscuit-type treats as much as he used to I'm sure I'd appreciate it much more. Also he didn't seem to enjoy the Wigzi bone as much as I thought he would. I guess he prefers a bigger challenge when trying to get treats out from a toy. But we'll definitely still use all of them; it's pretty rare for him to turn down anything related to food or playtime. If you're interested in starting a Barkbox subscription for your own pup, use my link to get $5 off your first box! Enjoy!!

Note: Post contains referral links. All reviews are my own and I did not receive any compensation for this review.

Birchbox - Mystery Sample Pack

A few weeks ago I ordered some stuff from Birchbox (ALL food items, might I add. Zero beauty stuff. I know...wth, right?) and, just like the last time I ordered full-size products from them, I got my order in about a week. Why can't my monthly box get here as quick? Anyway, I wanted to share what I got in my Mystery Sample Pack (free with any $35+ order, $10 otherwise). I've heard some mixed reviews about the sample pack; some like the value, others think it's a total waste. It was my first time getting one so I had no idea what to expect.

Harvey Prince Eau Flirt
Birchbox describes this scent as "sweetly mischievous." I honestly smelled nothing sweet about it. I tend to gravitate toward the fruitier but subtle fragrances. This one was way too much for me. My first thought that came to mind was Hmm...incredibly seductive. Since I am on the opposite side of the spectrum from seductive, this will most likely go in my set-it-and-forget-it pile.

Mally Evercolor Starlight Watercolor Eye Liner - in Sailor
Normally I'm not one to swoon over makeup products - especially eye makeup. Sure, it looks nice, but I lack the time and patience to spend time applying eye liner/shadow and mascara every morning before stepping out of the house. But this waterproof & smudge proof eye liner really piques my interest. It claims to go on smoothly like a gel but stay on like a pencil. I am the absolute worst at using gel liner so I usually use a wet angled brush with a bit of shadow and pass it off as eye liner. Easy to apply, but horrible at staying put. I think I may have to give Mally a try. It glides on nicely and is a super dark navy blue that I think looks more like black, my favorite eye liner color. Retailing at $15, I think this is a steal that made the mystery pack totally worth it.