Thursday, April 30, 2015

Birchbox Review - April 2015

Hey hey hey, it's Birchbox day! Discover new gems and sample away! There's something about this month's box that made me happy as soon as I saw it. The design, perhaps? It's very cheery. I'm really digging the change-up in box designs every month. I mean, I like a brown box as much as the next gal, but it's nice to see some color once in a while, ya know? I think April's may be my favorite design yet.
What: Birchbox contains 4-6 samples of high-end beauty and lifestyle products
When: Ships on the 10th of each month
Cost: $10/month or $110/year upfront
Fun fact: Birchbox has an awesome points system where you can review products or make purchases from the Birchbox shop to earn points. Every 100 points gets you $10 credit in the BB shop.

So why the pretty box? Well, this month's design is brought to you by the talented folks at Rifle Paper Co., the same guys who make these gorgeous stationery/gifts:
Cobalt Thank You Set of 10 Postcards  Friends Set of 12 Assorted Flat Notes & Envelopes  Canine 8 Coasters Featuring 4 Designs
I'm tempted to buy something from them just because I like stationery. And dogs. I'm thisclose to buying those dog coasters. And it's on sale for half off!!

April Birchbox info card
Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream - Blueberry (0.75oz value: $3.20) - I already have shaving cream coming out of my ears but for some strange reason I cannot turn a new one down. I've tried the acai grapefruit scent from this brand before and thought the cream was a bit thick and it clogged up my razor quite a bit. Not that it's a deal breaker, but rinsing your razor out after every stroke does get old pretty quickly. At least I like this scent better than the grapefruit one. It's really sweet but I like sweet. Smells like Sweet Tarts. 

Harvey Prince Hello Body Butter (0.5oz value: $1.25) - There's only been one Harvey Prince scent that I've liked so far and that's Ageless. Hello body butter is a blend of Sicilian lemon, Spanish mandarin and plumeria extracts, plus the Hello perfume. This has a playful scent but it's a bit too perfume-y for me. 

Jouer Tint - Petal (0.03oz value: $9.40) - This is a cream lip and cheek tint. I've never tried Jouer's makeup line before, and this is supposed to be pretty sheer...sounds promising. It also has a magnetic closure like theBalm samples. Add a magnet to your sample and I'm sold. I'm easily won over like that.

Pop Beauty POP Portfolio Eyeshadow Palette - Peach Parfait Trio (Sample value: ~$2) - I've collected a whole bunch of these palette trios but I have yet to open one. What the heck, right? I feel a weird compulsion to collect mini palettes but hardly ever stray from my regular daily shadows. On the bright side I think this is my favorite of the POP trios based on the color combo alone. There's a beige, pink, and brown, all shimmery.

Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect (1oz value: $4.80) - Can you believe I've never used a leave-in conditioner before? This one protects color, defrizzes and acts as a UV shield as well as protects against heat damage during styling. I've tried several Number 4 products before and they were all way too perfume-y for me. This one is scented with white freesia, amber, and musk and is no exception. It's giving me a headache :-/

Decent box. It's not a super great Birchbox month for me, but whatevs, right? You win some you lose some. At least I didn't get the shampoo/conditioner duo that I've seen in almost every single April box. I thought this was a very nice mix of stuff from makeup to skin and hair care, but it was just a scent preference thing. I can't blame Birchbox for trying to be happy and scentsy(??) during spring. It's not their fault I'm so boring. May's next! I'm really hoping they don't run with the April showers bring May flowers idea... there's only so much floral one can take. If you want to jump on the Birchbox bandwagon, please sign up here. Your beauty routine will totally thank you. And I'll thank you for using my link too!

Note: Post contains referral links. All opinions contained within this post are my own.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pooch Party Packs Review - April 2015

Last week I received a box from a new dog subscription service called Pooch Party Packs. The company was founded by a pup-loving couple (who spent some time here in Hawaii!) who wanted to make everyday with our four-legged friends feel like a party. Pooch Party Packs has a soft spot for small businesses, so I think we can expect to see a lot of new brands in this box!

What: Pooch Party Packs is a subscription box for dogs filled with 4-5 treat, toy, and hygiene items. Boxes are curated according to your dog's size. This review is for a medium-dog box.
When: Ships monthly on the 15th to anywhere in the U.S.
Cost: $29.99-$34.99 per month depending on the length of your subscription + $4.99 shipping (UPDATE: Pooch Party Packs has announced that all plans now include FREE SHIPPING!!)

The box itself is really cute -- they totally took the party idea and ran with it. It's got a personal invitation on it that says "You're invited to ______'s party!" There's a blank space baby, and I'll write your name! I'm a sucker for colorful things (and shiny things, and squeaky things - I'm kind of like a puppy, really...) so the colorful info card was definitely a welcome sight:
April Pooch Party Packs info card
The info card detailed all the items in the box. April's theme is "A Day At Sea." Now that spring is in full swing and the water once again looks inviting, it's time for some aquatic fun! Even if you don't live near the ocean or a lake, Pooch Party Packs brings the fun to your home. The box was kinda heavy, and being the big kid that I am, that made me even more excited to dig in.
Everything was packed very nicely and securely. And look, patriotic paper crinkles!

JW Pets Darwin the Frog Cuz (Value: $5?) - It's a squeaky frog! I love JW toys. (The dogs do too) Their hard rubber toys are one of the few that Pebbles cannot destroy right away. But give her time and she will eventually chew it apart. Just ask the JW treat pod lying on our counter that's missing half a pod *cry cry*. As with most thick rubber toys, I'd recommend washing it before giving it to your furball as they tend to reek of oil or something chemical-ish when it's brand new. I kind of wish the Cuzes had a treat-dispensing hole on the bottom (my dogs would totally love that). With the exception of squeaky tennis balls, if it doesn't give treats Macho finds it boring; fortunately, Pebbles will play with anything she can pick up. This includes my phone that now has a chip in the screen courtesy of her teeth :( Here is a happy Pebbles for you:
Dog heaven on earth
Kong Pillow Critters Seal (Value: $15) - Kong is known for their tough toys, but most of them (with the exception of the Kong Classic) won't last long once Pebbles gets to it. She would rip this one apart in no time and I can't bear to see that cute seal disemboweled, so this will be a Macho-only toy. When I unboxed everything Macho immediately tried to take it off the table so I think he approves (even though it doesn't give him treats).
But what kind of dog-mom would I be if I didn't make him earn his toys?
Five minutes later it was all gross and covered with slobber to the point where I refused to throw it for him to fetch. He then proceeded to shove it into my lap until I couldn't take it anymore. Darn dog.
He got the cuddles
PetSafe Indigo Smokehouse Strips - Chicken Flavor (Value: $10) - OHMIGOSH this smells delicious. These are smoked chicken jerky strips, and quite a generous amount too. Since these strips are made with all-natural ingredients with no preservatives, they come vacuum sealed and should be used within three days if not refrigerated. The folks at PetSafe were nice enough to provide two separate 3oz bags so you don't have to worry about the strips going bad before using it up, and they also included a zip top baggie to seal the strips once you open them. So far these treats have been a godsend. Macho never listens to me...unless I have a smokehouse strip in my hand. I once again have the upper hand. :)

Doghouse Biscuits - Little Bitty Cheese Bones (Value: $7) - One of my favorite things to see in a dog sub box are treats from small businesses. More often than not they're organic and only contain ingredients you can pronounce. And 99.9% of the time my dogs love them. This time was no exception. These biscuits only have five ingredients, all of which I have in my kitchen. Plus, they were superfresh - it had a packaging date of 4/10 and was in my hands just a week later! It's no surprise that the furbutts love em. Also because cheese.

We had so much fun with this box! From the adorable box design to the great quality of the items, we thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. It had a value of around $37 which about breaks even with the cost, but from what I've seen this is normal with pet boxes. But it does save the hassle of going out and buying everything on your own. AND IT'S LIKE YOUR DOG IS GETTING A SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY EVERY MONTH. Pebbles' favorite toy is the squeaky frog; she's constantly flinging it at Macho hoping he'll return the favor (he doesn't). Instead Macho prefers the stuffed Kong, which is odd considering he's usually only interested in treat-dispensing toys. I guess the Kong is just that good. And both treats are wonderful - no preservatives and made in USA!

I know you want to party with your pooches, and Pooch Party Packs is here to help. Stuffed with high quality items, each month is sure to be a total rager. You can subscribe here and save up to 15% with a 6-month subscription. I'm sure your dog is giving you "the look" right now. So is Macho:
Pooch Party Packs: Macho approves.

Note: Although I received this box free for review purposes, all opinions expressed within this post are my own...and Macho and Pebbles' :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BarkBox(es) Unboxing - April 2015 + Get A Free Box!

I'm kind of overwhelmed with dog boxes right now (but in a good way!), so I'm going to squish two of them into one post. My lucky canines got THREE BOXES IN ONE DAY and now they are BFFs with the mailman. Two of those were BarkBoxes. Why two boxes? Last month BarkBox had a huge sale during which you could get something like 40% off a new subscription. Since we're outside of the contiguous 48 we normally pay $5 shipping per box, or an extra $30 per 6-month plan (there's also a 12-month one if you can afford the cost upfront). During this sale, however, I'd be able to pick up another 6-month sub + pay shipping and it'd still come out cheaper than a "regular" 6-month subscription. SO WHY NOT?! I thought. Since the sale would end before the next billing cycle I'd be getting the next month's box.

And so here we are with two BarkBoxes in April. 

And my dogs love me twice as much now. (I hope)

What: BarkBox is a subscription box for dogs filled with 4-6 treat, toy, and hygiene items. Boxes are curated according to your dog's size. This review is for a medium-dog box.
When: Ships monthly on the 15th
Cost: $18-$29 per month depending on the length of your subscription
Fun Fact: 10% of proceeds from each BarkBox goes to rescue groups!

I don't know about you, but I have a fat dog. Corgis are notorious for packing on the weight and then having the hardest time losing it. Case in point: Our vet said Macho's overweight. So over the past year he's been chasing Pebbles around the yard for an hour each day. Nonstop. (where does all that energy come from??) We cut back on his food so he only eats one cup per day (no table food). Plus we switched to a healthier food with less filler and more substance. At his last vet visit he lost a whopping 2 lbs since last year. Womp womp. My poor chubby corgi. Then when I saw April's Fitness theme I thought it was hilarious and immediately rubbed it in Big Boy's face.
April's Barkbox info card
This month when you re-order items in your box, 10% of proceeds will go toward BarkGood's Shelter of the Month. April's shelter is Downtown Dog Rescue located in Pasadena, CA. Looks like they've rescued lots of pitties...they're such cuties!
And now let's see how BarkBox is planning to help Macho lose weight:
JW Pet Bad Muscles Cuz (Value: $5) - Aww, Macho gets his own personal trainer! This is made out of thick rubber that will no doubt withstand Macho's jaws. The Little One, I'm not so sure. If it lasts a week with her then I'd call it a success. The only downside is that this toy reeks of oil or something petroleum-based. It'll definitely need to meet my dishwasher before it meets the dogs.

Fabdog Boxing Gloves (Value: $16) - A bit overpriced, but these gloves are effin' adorable. I'm positive that these plush boxing gloves will not stand up to either of my dogs, but I almost don't care because I want to hang it over my rear view mirror like grossly oversized dice. This is a BarkBox exclusive (every box for almost the past year has had at least one exclusive toy) that you can't find anywhere else.

Green Bark Gummies Health and Vitality (Value: $6) - As a kid who was is in love with gummy candy, I'm pretty darn excited for my dogs to have these. And surprisingly, it is pretty gummy - while being meaty at the same time. These are made of duck and enriched with chia, a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. There's also chlorophyll from kelp and alfalfa to help freshen breath. My dogs could SO use this.

No Grainers Peanut Butter Pleasers (Value: $7) - For the first year of his life, the only table food we ever gave Macho were apples and pineapples. It wasn't until we switched to a new heartworm/flea medication that he got a taste for peanut butter. He refused to take the pill unless it was with PB. It's like he talked to the neighborhood dogs and they told him not to accept anything yucky unless it came wrapped in peanutty goodness. Spoiled brat. So now he gets a spoonful each month with his meds, and he's since learned to love anything PB-related. And by default, Pebbles got to eat PB from the get-go because Macho passed on his wisdom to her. Dogs win, humans lose. These are soft grain-free treats that the fur-dorks will undoubtedly love. It's their two favorite treat traits wrapped into one - meaty and peanut buttery.

Etta Says Elk Chew (Value: $3) - I don't know what makes these things so appealing to dogs, but my furbutts have loved every single one we've gotten, including rabbit, duck, and bison. These are crunchy sticks that don't even last two minutes with my pups. I'd imagine they're pretty messy but I've never seen a mess since my dogs manage to lick up each crumb every.single.time. That's how much they love this.

I'm not sure if it's because this was a new subscription, but we got a different curation for our second Barkbox. Like the first box, this one is for a medium dog, but the this box's theme is "Spring Bark." Sounds like a March theme to me, but last month's medium box was "Island Paradise" so it can't be. Plus isn't spring break normally in March? Hmm. One of the items is similar to a March item, after all. Oh well, there's no repeats so I don't mind.

Close up of Sojos freeze-dried lamb treats
Sojos Simply Lamb (Value: $10) - Sojos is a new brand for us. They specialize in raw dog food - in kibble form, a.k.a. freeze-dried. Reconstitute with water and voila! you have raw, meaty food. Up until a month ago I thought Macho hated lamb; he refused to eat his lamb-flavored kibble when he was a puppy so I gave everything lamb away. Then last month we bought a bag of lamb kibble again because our usual was sold out. Turns out now he loves it as much as any other flavor. Freeze-dried treats were the only dry treats Macho would do anything for when he was a puppy so I have no doubt he will love these too.

Yeti Corp Yak Chew - for Medium Dogs (Value: $9) - It's a Himalayan dog chew! These are made of cow and yak milk. I always see this at the pet store but never pick it up because it's sooo expensive. Last month we received the nugget version of this but the instructions stressed that it needed to be microwaved to cracker-like consistency prior to serving. Thinking back, I think that was because the nuggets were choking hazards due to their small size and density. This one's about 5" long so my dogs should be safe for a while. Himalayan chews are supposed to be very long-lasting and I'm excited to test that with my power chewers.

BarkMade Flowers Bouquet (Value: $14) - HOLY MOTHER OF CUTENESS this is adorable. This makes a perfect mother's day present for a dog-mom, so naturally I'm going to gift this to myself.  :) Not only do the flowers come apart (see photo below), but the "paper wrapping" is a page right out of BarkPost, BarkBox's hilarious doggy news site. And I believe these were actual headlines as I recall seeing a couple of them in BarkPost's daily emails. As I mentioned, I'm keeping this bouquet, not the dogs. As much as I love my poop machines, I wholeheartedly believe I will appreciate these flowers more than they will. I mean look at that red rose! Maybe when Pebbles learns to stop eating anything and everything with stuffing maaaybe I'll consider letting them have supervised playtime with this. :)
Pet Projekt Squeeki Tiki (Value: $8) - Pet Projekt is one of two brands I can think of that have proven themselves to me in terms of durability. Macho's not too bad, but Pebbles will find a way to annihilate virtually every Ultimate Kong or "indestructible" thermoplastic rubber toy. She finally met her match with Pet Projekt. A lot of their toys are interactive, i.e. treat-dispensing, so it keeps her occupied for a while. Squeeki Tiki is a squeaky toy (duh), but it's probably the softest rubber toy we've gotten from them. Pebbles will rip this apart in minutes so I'll probably pass this along to a dog that doesn't remind me of a hungry gremlin.
Because they're sort of like twins
I do love both boxes this month, but I think I'm gonna have to say the probably-not-April new sub box takes the win because of the Himalayan chew. AND THE FLOWERS. In all honesty I think the only toy that will last longer than a day in our house is the JW Pet Cuz. JW is the only other toy brand I can think of (besides Pet Projekt) that will stand up to Pebbles' jaws. And their products are very affordable so yay, brownie points for them! I'm also very pleased with the treat selections this month too. PB, gummies, freeze-dried food, and long-lasting chews. I can't find anything to complain about. I'm a happy dog mom. BECAUSE FLOWERS.

*UPDATE* So it turns out that I did get two April boxes this month after all - #1 was for a small dog, and #2 was for a medium sized dog. I selected Medium for both subs but I guess the folks at BarkBox saw that I'd be getting two of the same box and decided to add some variety. How nice of them :)

If this is your first time hearing of BarkBox, I hope now you have a good idea of what to expect. You'll usually get 2 toys and 2-3 treats every month. Most of the toys are BarkBox exclusives so you won't be able to get them anywhere else. However, I've noticed lately that while I'd rate the toys a 10 in terms of cuteness, they're not very durable. Most are plush, and if your dog is like mine and thinks the idea of a stuffed animal is to remove the stuffing, then you won't get as much out of them as you'd like. But BarkBox has a Scout's Honor program in which you can choose a toy better suited to your pup if you're unsatisfied with what was sent to you (and you get to keep the original toy too!). Interested in starting a subscription? You can sign up here for as low as $18/month -- plus get a free box tacked on to your subscription just for using my link!

Note: Post contains referral links. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Monday, April 20, 2015

My Memebox Search Soul Event Goodies!

Last week Memebox held an unannounced mystery sale similar to the Easter Egg hunt they had a couple of weeks ago. Basically you search their site for Seoul districts such as these:
Each location corresponds to a certain mystery product. Add 'em to your cart and a few days later you'll find a box at your doorstep. It's that easy. I'm sure I couldn't find all of them, but of the ones I did see, one was going for $15 and the rest were in the single digits. 
This was the first time I ordered something from Memebox since they started their domestic shipping. The package reminded me a lot of Ipsy's but silver. Here's what I scored:

Leaders Baby Soft Hand & Foot Masks (Value: $5 each?) - I think these are the items that were selling for $2 apiece - Cheongdadong and Myeongdong. I've actually never used a hand mask before. Fortunately, my hands don't get very dry unless I forget to use gloves when bleaching my bathroom or something. If anything there's just this one recurring dry patch on my thumb, but I just slather on the the hand cream and it's fine. Now that a hand mask has found its way to me I'll definitely be trying this out. And I love foot masks. Not as fun as a foot peeling mask, but I do have cracked heels so I could always use a moisturizing foot mask too.

Leaders Coconut Gel Mask with Blueberry (Value: $2.75) - I've only recently entered the world of hydrogel masks and I like them because of the jiggly texture. Because seriously, who doesn't like playing with the gel after you remove the mask? Oh, am I the only one? Hm...well don't I feel silly. I'm pretty sure this is the Hongdae item that was selling for $1. Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants to help your skin look and feel healthier and more supple. I should have added more to my cart, maybe I would have gotten the other varieties  as well (orange, tomato, broccoli)?

Lioele Cheek Beam Blusher (Value: $13.80) - This was the $6 Itaewon item. It's a cream blusher that will moisturize while leaving a sheer, natural-looking hint of color on your cheeks with a silky finish.  The color is a pretty doll pink that I think is too pink for my liking (I tend to use the ones with more peach in them). Since I'm probably going to re-home this blush I haven't opened it, so here's what it looks like straight from the Memebox website:

Not a bad mystery haul. Each was Meme-worth about twice as much as it sold for. I'm kind of bummed that I didn't love the cream blusher though. I'm not sure if it's just my lack of skills (it probably is), but I could never make pink look natural on my skin. But that's okay, someone else will be enjoying this and looking fabulous.

Did you participate in the Search Soul sale? What did you get?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ipsy Unboxing & Review - April 2015

It's always a fun day when my Ipsy Glam Bag arrives in the mail. I try to refrain from peeking on reveal day so I can feel like I'm opening a present each month. :) Like last month, I avoided looking at the spoilers (okay I may have looked at the first one but I didn't remember what it was) so I didn't even know what theme to expect.

What: Ipsy Glam Bags contain 5 deluxe samples and full sized beauty products in an exclusive makeup bag.
When: Glam Bags ship monthly on the 10th
Cost: $10/month
Fun Extras: You can review your products each month to earn ipsyPoints, which can be redeemed for monthly bonus items.

Turns out April's theme is "Beautifully Bohemian." I'm guessing there will be some indie brands in here. I've learned that there are SO many cosmetics companies out there that I've never heard of, and many of them make fantastic cruelty-free and/or vegan products. I'm hoping to discover some new favorites this month.
Theorie Argan Oil Ultimate Reform Hair Serum (0.34oz sample value: $4.20) - I cracked open this bottle and the first thing that I noticed is that it smells a lot like Shara Shara's Bee Tox Spot Cream for blemishes. But with a totally different purpose, of course. The scent is slightly medicinal but fresh at the same time. The closest thing I can think of is the crisp smell of the woods. This is a dropper bottle but the oil didn't seem to want to come out so I ended up removing the dropper piece altogether. No biggie. I've never met an argan oil I didn't like, and this is no exception. The smell might be a tad bit strong for me, but it tames the frizzies and adds shine just fine. Plus it's free of mineral oil, paraffin oil, petroleum, and propylene glycol products.

Hikari Blush - Tango (0.21oz full size value: $15) - Tango was the only shade Ipsy sent out in April's glam bags. Despite the implication of a "tangerine tango" color, this is actually quite pink as shown in the photo below. I love the packaging - it's a sturdy case with a see-through window on the front. However, I'm not sure if this is very pigmented or not since I'm not planning on using it (I already have tons of blush, and it's just not something I go through quickly).

theBalm Cosmetics NUDE Dude Eyeshadow - Fit (1g mini value: $3) - theBalm likes to send their sample singles in a cute booklet-style container with a magnetic closure. I'm a sucker for cute packaging and theirs is definitely a win. The NUDE Dude palette contains 12 nudes that are shimmery for the most part. The color Fit is a shimmery copper that looks a lot lighter and a lot shinier on the skin. Since this is pretty close to my natural skin color, I'll probably use it on days that I want a bit of sparkle without all the color.
NUDE Dude Volume 2 Palette
Starlooks Satin Finish Lip Gloss - Cuddle (sample value: $5?) - I love lip glosses and think this is a beautiful color - pink with a smidge of orange to tone it down so that your lips will still look natural with it on, and the microglitter adds a bit of sparkle and shine. I would love to try this out; unfortunately I have close to zero restraint when it comes to opening new glosses and I have about 30 open at the moment. And 27 of them are some variation of pink. It looks like about a 1/3 size which is really good because I take forever to go through glosses since I keep opening new ones! I'm trying extremely hard to leave this one unopened...the shrink wrap around the tube helps a bit with that. Thank you, shrink wrap.

Mullein & Sparrow Tinted Lip & Cheek Balm (0.25oz full size value: $10) - Yay, a new company for me! This is a handmade vegan lip/cheek tint with a boysenberry color. I think this is the first time Ipsy has sent me two lip products in a bag. I normally love lip balms, but am having a bit of trouble loving this because the shea butter scent is so strong. I guess I can't really complain though, because during my lip balm-making phase, I found it pretty difficult to mask the shea butter smell. I know quite a few people don't care for lip balm pots for sanitary reasons, but I still think they're cute. And it holds twice as much as a typical stick. I haven't used this yet either, although it's getting super hard to resist since the pot isn't sealed as a deterrent. I think I'm gonna take a closer look at this company though...their website is full of handmade face and body care products in super adorable packaging.

The Bag - I think April's makeup bag suits the theme rather well. Unlike most Ipsy bags, this one is woven and feels "natural." It's very pretty; unfortunately, the rainbow of colors is a bit too much for plain ol' boring me. If it weren't for that I'd be alllll over this. 

Well, I think it's safe to say that I'm much happier with this month's Ipsy surprise than last month (Yay)! The only downside was that the blush was a tad too bright for my taste; everything else was spot on as far as color preference. A couple items had strong scents that were a bit much for me to take in but they weren't deal breakers.

If you like opening presents like I do, I highly recommend subscribing to Ipsy Glam Bag. Especially if you're into makeup and beauty. Click here to get on the wait list! You won't be charged for your first bag until you get off the list which usually takes several weeks, but for $10 you really can't beat the value, especially when everything you get is a deluxe sample or bigger :)

Note: Post contains referral links. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.