Thursday, March 27, 2014

Birchbox Review - March 2014

I just returned from Vegas a couple of days ago (I did a whole lot of losing and not much winning, as expected) and to my delight I found my Birchbox waiting for me when I got back, sitting pretty and begging to be opened. 

But before I continue... What's a Birchbox? Every month for $10 you get a box of 4-5 high-end samples sent right to your door. Some months are better than others, but in my experience each month I've always received at least one item I can use. Their points system is also pretty good. You earn points by reviewing items on the Birchbox site or making purchases in the online store. For every 100 points you get $10 credit in the Birchbox shop to purchase full-size items. 

This month's theme was Spring Forward and encourages everyone to get the most out of our daily routines with Birchbox's DIY tutorials, beauty shortcuts, and ways to get the most out of beauty products. To my surprise, this month I received 6 items for the first time ever. I'll admit, I kinda was as giddy as a kid in a candy store surrounded by all the items. So what'd I get?

March 2014 Birchbox

Info card

Gilchrist & Soames Body Lotion (Sample Value: $3.00)

This miracle in a bottle couldn't have come at a better time. The Vegas climate did a number on my skin and left my feet dry and cracked. I used some on my poor yucky feetsies and they feel just fine now! It absorbs instantly into skin. This lotion from the London-based company contains botanicals of red tea, soy, ginko biloba, grape seed, and milk thistle to restore and revive skin. It has a crisp scent that is a bit strong for me, but no biggie. How can I complain when it's such a huge sample size of 1.5 oz?! Even with daily use this will last me at least a month.

English Laundry No. 7 for Her (Approx. Sample Value: ~$1.00)

This is the first perfume sample I've gotten from Birchbox and honestly at first I wasn't too thrilled to see it because I don't wear perfume since C complains that it triggers his allergies. However, while I probably won't wear it (to avoid C's "how many times do I have to tell you?'"s), I do think it smells nice. It has floral notes that smell a bit fruity and refreshing over a vanilla-almond base. I guess my nose sucks because I can't pick out the vanilla or almond, but I trust that it's there. I'm thinking maybe I will try to get away with a single spritz of this the next time we go out. I don't think it'll be too overpowering...

Coola Tinted Matte SPF30 Mineral Sunscreen for Face (Sample Value: $3.60)

With all the sun exposure we get here in Hawaii I really should be more diligent in my suncare routine. I SHOULD be wearing sunscreen everyday since the sun is all but unavoidable. I SHOULD also be wearing shades to protect my eyes whenever I'm outside. Finally I SHOULD protect the sensitive skin on my face with a non-oily product made especially for the face. But do I do any of these? Nope. Shame on me. Maybe now I can start. This tinted sunscreen comes in a one-shade-fits-all tint that evens skin tone and masks flaws. While I disagree that it matches my skin tone or even hides my blemishes, it does blend in very quickly and nicely. It's also not oily (yay!). I have yet to see if it really protects against the sun. I guess only time will tell.

DDF Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizing Dew (Sample Value: $24.71)

This is the second time I've gotten a DDF product in my Birchbox (the first time was an awesome-smelling Wrinkle Resist & Pore Minimizer in my October box). The sample size was generous back then (I still have some left!) and it is generous again. Okay, so it doesn't really have much of a scent, but that's not a deal breaker for me. Two moisturizers in one box - Birchbox must've known I'd be in dire need of skin hydration this month!

Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Hair Treatment +  Restorative Hair Treatment Plus (Approx. Sample Value: ~$6.00)

The claim is that after just one treatment, even the most damaged hair will be restored and will look soft, shiny, and manageable. I would've so loved to test this claim when I had long hair desperately in need of a pick-me-up. Now that it's short I don't have much of a problem with it, but maybe I'll try this just to see how much healthier I could get it to look. I tend to group foil packets together and forget about them in the drawer; must remember to keep this one separate.

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Cherry Tango Chocolate (Sample Value: N/A)

This was March's Birchbox Find, which is a product that can be found in your neighborhood drugstore which Birchbox finds buzz worthy. I love Ghirardelli chocolate. And I've never heard of this Ghirardelli flavor before so it was something new. What's not to like? Okay, I'm not the biggest dark chocolate fan, and I'm sure I would've loved this more if it was with milk chocolate, but it tasted yummy nonetheless. C just got me Ghirardelli strawberry chocolate for Valentine's Day, and ohmygosh it was the yummiest. I love. Thanks, Ghirardelli, for the extra 5 lbs.

I really like this month's Birchbox. Possibly my second favorite Birchbox I've gotten (my favorite being November's box. Still using every item from that one..well, except the chocolate). I paid $10 for it and received a total value of over $38 worth of products, all of which I can see myself using. If you'd like to start getting your own box of great samples, please use my link and start discovering new beauty products as early as next month!

Note: Post contains referral links. These are my honest opinions and I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Julep St. Patrick's Day Lucky Mystery Box 2014 Review

For the past 15 years my nails hadn't seen a single coat of anything on 'em. That is, until I started my Birchbox subscription and got hellbent on trying out everything in every box. That's when I got bit by the nail polish bug and now my collection has grown a bit from the one lonely bottle of sparkly red polish a friend gave me a couple years ago.

When I heard about Julep I signed up for an account but held off on becoming a Maven since I'm still hesitant about trying any ol' color on my uglies. But I'm a sucker for a good deal so when I heard about the mystery boxes Juelp puts out I told myself I'd get my hands on the next one. So I did. I ordered a Lucky Mystery Box in honor of St. Patrick's Day which promised $100 worth of goodies for only $24.99. Julep was offering 4 box versions - three with one revealed polish and one complete mystery box. I opted for the version containing Shannon, a pale green polish with a silk finish. I ordered it last Thursday and got it the following Monday on St. Patrick's awesome is that! Wow!

So what'd I get?

Lucky Mystery Box - with Shannon (It Girl)

Nail Polish (Value: $14.00 each)

This box contained (left-right) Shannon, Kennedy, Tatiana, Blakely, Sabrina, and Fiore. Since I'm not that adventurous in trying any and all colors yet, I tend to stick to the subtle ones that will go unnoticed at work (or else they'll see how horrible I am at applying it). So I'll probably try these in the order they're pictured above. I'm currently wearing Shannon and so far so good. It's a very pastel satin green that looks almost silver in the light. I normally don't wear too much green anything, but I think I like this color. Next up: Kennedy!

Glycolic Hand Scrub (Value: $23.00)

This scrub is described as a "facial for hands." It exfoliates and leaves your skin feeling softer and smoother. I currently use a sugar scrub a friend gave me at Christmas (scented with lavender...mmm), but after that's gone I'll try this out.

Forget-Me-Not Seeds (Value: N/A)

I don't think this is meant to contribute to the value of the box, but I've been meaning to get my garden back up and going again so I'm not complaining. I can always use more seeds (and more time to tend to my flowers!).

Mystery Box Add-On: Karen-Boho Glam (Value: $14.00)

I picked up the Karen polish as an add-on for just $2.99. I love frosty/iridescent colors so I thought this would be right up my alley. It's a peach bellini frost and contains a bit of shimmer. Ok, maybe this will be the next one I try before hitting up the rest of the polishes I got in my mystery box.

All totaled this box had a (non-Maven) regular price of $107, not including the add-on. Some items are on sale at a deep discount, so the current value might be a bit lower than $100, but seeing as how I only paid $25 I'm still satisfied with its value. Now I just have to build up my confidence to paint my nails with the oranges and darks that I received in this box.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Barkbox Review - March 2014 + $5 off your first box!

March 2014 Barkbox goodies

Once again I am impressed with how fast our Barkbox reached us. It ships out on the 15th of each month from New York and travels across the country and the Pacific and into my mailbox by the 17th. Holy cow! That's fast even for airmail. Even if the box did ship out a day early (as they sometimes do) three days is still uber fast.

Barkbox is a monthly subscription filled with treats, toys, and sometimes hygienic products for your pooch companion. I've noticed they contain mostly treats (because what pup wouldn't like more treats?), but there is always at least one toy each month. The boxes are curated according to your best friend's size: small (up to 20 lbs), medium (20-50 lbs) and large (50+ lbs). Boxes start at $29 per month and get cheaper the longer the subscription. I picked up the 6 month plan for $19/month (paid up front). This review is for a medium sized dog Barkbox.

This month's theme was all about breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Whether you're a cup-o'-joe-and-go kind of person or a bacon-and-egg-complete-breakfast fan, it's nice to know your best friend is enjoying his breakfast as well. March's Barkbox contains goodies that taste like breakfast, freshen breath, and will get your pup mentally prepared for the long day ahead. Let's dig in!

March info card

Wagatha's Breakfast Organic Dog Biscuits (Value: $5.48)

We received a box of Wagatha's biscuits in last September's box in Tuscan pizza flavor. Macho didn't care for it at first but warmed up to them after a while. This month's Breakfast flavored biscuits contain hints of apples, bananas, and maple oats. They are wheat, corn, and soy free so they may be suitable for pups with some food allergies. I love that this company uses only organic ingredients that you can find in your own kitchen (i.e. nothing I can't pronounce). Hopefully the pups find these yummy.

Safemade Biggie Bone - Medium size (Value: $9.99)

I like that this bone is made for tough chewers (more on that later). I like toys that can be stuffed with treats because it challenges the pups a little. I don't like handing out treat freebies, especially to dogs who live for treats (e.g. mine!). Gotta make them work a little for it. Call me a strict mommy, but I don't even give them their dinner until they sit patiently. This toy is similar to Kong or Wigzi toys in that it has a pocket to put treats in. Ideally you want to stuff it with treats that require a bit of prodding to get out. With all the treats we've received from Barkbox over the months I'm sure finding a perfect treat will be no problem.

Baker's Best Wild Pacific Maple Glazed Salmon with Blueberries (Approx. Value: $5.99)

I couldn't find any pricing info on Baker's Best treats so $5.99 is a complete guesstimate. Maple glazed salmon? Mmmm. Not sure how it'd taste with blueberries, but I'll leave that for the furbutts to decide.  I've heard that salmon is supposed to keep your best friend's coat healthy and shiny, but it makes their breath so stink! I currently give them salmon training treats and their breath smells yucky afterwards, especially the puppy. I guess no doggie kisses after they eat this.

Twistix Dental Chews - Yogurt Banana Flavor (Value: $5.99)

Macho received Twistix chews in his November Barkbox in vanilla mint flavor. He gladly consumed the first few sticks but seemed to get bored of it after a while. But then again, he was never a mint fan. I don't think he's ever tried banana-flavored anything before so this should be interesting. It's a good way to keep him out of my hair for a while AND clean his teeth. Win-win!

Aussie Naturals Leather Bone - Bacon (Approx. Value: $9.99)

What?? Another toy?! Yup. I was so happy that we received two toys this month, but that excitement was rather short-lived. This toy, targeted toward medium chewers, claimed to be multi-scented, and judging on the word "Bacon" on the tag I figured smelled like bacon. It really just smelled like leather to me, but I guess dogs and their keen sense of smell can pick up on slightest hint of something that scrumptious. Macho quickly took this toy and hovered over it like a vulture. With every step I took toward him I saw him giving me the side eye and watching my every move as if I found it just as appetizing and was going to steal it or something. Ha. Dogs. Anyway after 10 minutes it looked like this:

Poor toy didn't stand a chance :(

I guess he's not a medium chewer after all. I'm kind of bummed about this one since we had to toss it so quickly, but at least we still have the Biggie Bone...

Update 3/19/14: So here's more brownie points for Barkbox: I emailed customer support yesterday complimenting them on the awesome shipping and asking if they made boxes for heavy chewers (along with sending the sad photo above). They got back to me today and the best part: it wasn't an auto-response! The rep thanked me for the nice words and said she'll mention both things at their meeting next week. She also noted Macho down as a heavy chewer (yes, she used his name, meaning she actually did go and open up my account because I didn't mention his name anywhere in my email) so that he'll receive toys made for tough chewers. 5/5 stars for excellent customer service!

This month's box had a total estimated value of over $37 and I'm sure we can use everything. I'm not sure how the pups will take to the Wagatha's biscuits and the banana flavored Twistix, but the whole fun of this box is discovering new things for the furpups to enjoy. Overall I am happy with this month's Barkbox (even though one of the toys wasn't sufficient for Macho's jaws) because I honestly think they make a concerted effort to respond to customers' requests. Each month Barkbox sends out a survey asking for feedback on the month's items.  In November I commented that I'd love to see more mentally stimulating/treat dispensing toys and sure enough in December we got such a toy. Last month I mentioned that I noticed the boxes have been kind of heavy on treats lately and that I'd love to see more hygienic products, even if it were just dental chews. And whadya know? This month we get a treat dispensing toy AND dental chews. Could all this be coincidence? Possibly, but of course I'd like to think I had something to do with it. ;)

If you'd like to spoil your pup (and what pup doesn't deserve to be?) please use my link to get $5 off your first box! Trust me, your canine will absolutely ADORE you for it.

Note: Post contains referral links. All reviews are my own. I was not compensated for this box in any way.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Happy Dog Box Review - March 2014 + 50% Off Coupon

I'm starting to really like Happy Dog Box. Happy Dog Box is a monthly subscription service for your pup. Each month your best friend receives a box chock-full of treats, toys, and grooming products delivered right to your door. Plans start as low as $21/month for the 6-month subscription and are curated according to your dog's size. This review is for a medium sized dog box.

This is the second box we've received and both contained loads of goodies for my pup(s). Especially chews. Furbutt loves chews. March's theme was all about going green in celebration of St. Patrick's Day - literally as well as being eco-friendly. Let's see what we got this month!

Smart n' Tasty Duck with Blueberries Treats (Value: $8.99)

I received duck treats a few months ago in another subscription box, and while Macho gladly accepted them, he didn't go crazy over it. Also I don't think he's ever tried blueberries before. This should be interesting. Maybe Macho's brand new little sister Pebbles will love it! These are grain-, soy-, and dairy-free so they're ideal for pups with certain food allergies.

Pet 'n' Shape Beef Scapula (Value: $2.27)

As I mentioned earlier, Macho loves chews. I don't think he's ever turned down a single chew. Ok, well maybe he spit out a heavily processed rawhide before, but not an all-natural chew. He doesn't discriminate between body parts either - ears, bladder, pizzle, larynx - he'll eat it all. And I'm sure he'll happily run to his corner with a shoulder blade in his mouth and start gnawing away. Sorry Pebbles, you'll have to wait till we know we can trust you with chews first.

Big Daddy's Biscuits - Mixed Bag (Value: $5.00)

This company makes a variety of mouth-watering flavored biscuits that serve a dual purpose. "Dinner Mints" also work to fight bad breath. "Flee Flea Cheese Bites with Garlic" help to ward off those pesky fleas and ticks. "Nuttin' Better than Peanut Butter" and "You Had Me At Bacon Turkey Bacon Bites" are just plain awesome because all dogs love a little PB and bacon in their lives. Now I may be mistaken, but I thought garlic was highly toxic to dogs? This is a "mixed bag," so I'm assuming it contains a little bit of everything. These smell yummy so I'm sure they will be gone in no time (not so sure about the garlic ones though).

R2P Sprong Hex Ball - Large (Value: $9.90)

This is the third Sprong toy we've received, the first being a bone and the second a football. Macho went nuts over the first two, and I am 110% sure he will react the same way toward this crazy ball. I accidentally squeaked it when cutting off the plastic tags at night and Macho instantly went into play mode. Sorry boy, this toy is too loud for night time play. This will be the first new toy that Macho and Pebbles get to receive together. How exciting. :) For now Pebbles kind of took over his entire toy arsenal. He's such a nice guy, letting his little sis play with all his toys (and not share with him...haha).

Barkworthies Chews (Value: Beef knuckle - $6.30; Lamb Ribs - $3.16 total)

Again, I'm sure Macho will happily chomp away on these. The messier the bone, the more he likes it (and the harder I have to work cleaning up after him). I think I'll save the lamb ribs for when Pebbles is a little older so that they can each have one without Pebbles trying to steal his. She already steals his food, and she's only two months old. A real rebel, that one.

Aside from the Sprong ball, I'm not too sure what else the items had to do with being green. I guess they're all-natural and made with ingredients traceable to the source, but that's all I can think of. I think this would've been a perfect month for the FlushPuppies I received in the last box. My box this month had a total value of $35.62, more than the $25 I paid for it on the month-to-month plan. Maybe one day I'll consider picking up the 6-month plan to save a few bucks, but for now I may have to stop this one after the next box comes in (I already paid for it) because my Barkbox renewed last month and two doggy boxes is way more than enough (even with our brand new troublemaker). Perhaps once we run through our stockpile of treats I'll consider picking this one up again. But for the record, I am very impressed with the quality and quantity of treats we've been receiving from Happy Dog Box.

If you'd like to subscribe to Happy Dog Box, please use my code to receive 50% off your first box of goodies for your beloved family member! That's only $12.50 for over $30 worth of treats and toys to share with your furball!

Note: Post contains referral links. Reviews are my honest opinion and no compensation was received.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

ENGAGED! + Our Newest Addition

It's like living a dream. I applaud C on being able to hold in a secret. C, the one who on my birthday couldn't even resist telling me the mystery location we were headed to "Sea Life Park. Aaargghh, I couldn't help it!"

A few weeks ago I made a post about the most adorable Valentine's present ever. Well, this past weekend was the big day and we welcomed the newest member to our family. It all started pretty calmly, really. We woke up at 6 am and slowly got ready to head to the airport. In all honesty, I wasn't feeling overly excited because the reality of having to housebreak another puppy coupled with the uncertainty of how our current furball would receive her was setting in.

As soon as C and I stepped on the farm, two corgis greeted us with huge smiles. I recognized them from the company's website as Macho's mom and brother(?). A few steps up a short slope led us to a well-maintained garden where two more corgis ran up to us. I later found out that these cuties were Macho's dad and our new baby's mom (and no, Macho's dad is not the same dog as our new puppy's dad). Their watchdog instincts kicked in and they barked until their owners came outside to show us the much-awaited puppies. We were led to a cozy courtyard where we were greeted by three tiny puppies.

8 week old puppies at play

The rest of the litter had already been united with their new parents. A few weeks earlier C had asked what name I wanted to pick out for puppy. I chose Pebbles because it was a cute name and, well, who doesn't like Flintstones! For the first time, I got to see our Pebbles in real life (since I unintentionally messed up our first planned meet and greet V-Day date) and ohmygosh she is adorable!

Putting on her best face for us
She has so much personality and is quite a character. In fact, the breeder told us he normally tries not to get too attached to the puppies since they'll be off to their new homes in no time, but he couldn't help but grow fond of this little girl. Who can blame him?

Hiding toys
Is that for me?


Pebbles calls dibs

After taking a few shots of the puppies, C told me to hold Pebbles so he could take a picture of us. I did, and...

omg omg omg...
Image Credit: Hawaii Corgi
This happened. Totally didn't see it coming. I like to think of us as fun people who like to joke around, so I had thought about various ways of answering the big question (haha, as if I knew one day he'd propose). "Who, me?" "I'll get back to you" "..................................................okay, sure" "Only if I get to sing Single Ladies, Pt. 2," etc. But the only thing I could think of at that moment was a choked up "Yes." I also had told myself I wouldn't cry. And to my credit, I didn't really cry. Mostly just teared. A lot. Okay maybe I did cry a little. But I didn't bawl or sob or anything. And C had thought up a whole spiel tying together corgis and the proposal but he also started tearing up so he just cut straight to the chase. Haha. Typical us. Nothing ever goes as planned.

Happy he liked it so he put a ring on it
Image Credit: Hawaii Corgi

Apparently C had coordinated with Hawaii Corgi the exact setup of the courtyard down to where I'd be standing when it all happened. Of course, the courtyard was set up perfectly, but since I obviously never let things go as planned, I didn't follow his cue to get me to stand in the right place so we didn't have the perfect background for the picture that would be taken by the would-be hidden professional photographer (another plan that I also screwed up). Yes, he and Hawaii Corgi had reserved a photographer to shoot the whole thing from a hidden spot ON VALENTINE'S DAY. Yup, the day I messed up all the plans. As luck would have it, the photographer was already booked on the rescheduled corgi day so we made do with phones and a point and shoot. C had been in constant contact with Hawaii Corgi for months about the whole shabang. Kinda makes me feel bad for ruining a good surprise. Sorry, Valentine's Day, I didn't mean to screw you up that badly. And here I thought Pebbles was going to be the ultimate surprise (refer back to my statement in the second half of the Valentine's post). We left the farm all smiles with a new pup and a shiny rock in tow. We even got to take a second little ball of joy home to her eagerly awaiting doggy-mommy-to-be.

The quietest part of our trip

Once we got home we got right to work on getting Macho acquainted with his new kid sister. He was surprisingly nice to her instead of his usual rough self. He sniffed, licked, and inspected her and even let her play with his toys. Pebbles, on the other hand, is a little instigator. She loooves to bark and nip at him and push his buttons. Naturally, he gives chase and since he's about 30 lbs heavier, he sometimes runs her over, but Pebbles remains unphased. Something tells me we got a little rascal on our hands. Even more so than Macho. Aiyiyi. But I love my Pebbles. And I love that I picked her name while unaware of its significance. Pebbles. Shiny rock. Love forever.

Right away we discovered she LOVES toys. Especially squeaky ones.

She likes to steal them from Macho
And hoard them.

She also likes to copy him.
Typical kid sister.
Corgis find the weirdest positions comfy.