Saturday, June 30, 2012

SodaStream Review

I first heard of SodaStream through the blogosphere, and I thought they sounded like so much fun.  I've wanted to try one for a while, and I was lucky enough to be able to try one out for this review!

The unit I received was the Fountain Jet Soda Starter Kit, which retails for $99.95 on the SodaStream website.  They kindly sent me more than the three flavor syrups that come with the kit; I got eight in total plus three "mywater" flavors.

I am a total dunce when it comes to things that require assembly, so I was a bit afraid that I wasn't going to be able to put the unit together at first.  But it's pretty simple--I just had to take the backing off and insert the CO2 cartridge, then pop everything back into place.

I was so eager to make my first soda!  The bottle holds one liter, which is a pretty good size for me.  I don't think it would be enough to share with my entire family (there are five of us in the house), so I will probably invest in getting a spare bottle.  Or, as my boyfriend pointed out to me, I could just make some up and transfer it to another container so I could use the bottle again (that's why he's the masters student and I stopped with a bachelor's degree, haha).

Carbonating the water is the part that's the most fun, and instead of writing it out I figured it would be easier to make a quick video to show you.

Sorry for the poor video quality, but now you get the idea!  The main thing that is stressed in the instruction manual is to only carbonate water, then add in your flavor syrup.  I'm not sure what would happen if I tried to do carbonate something besides water, but I'm guessing it would end up damaging the unit in some way over time.

The flavor I've been using the most is the Cola Free.  It tastes just like store-bought soda, and I like that I can make it as fizzy as I want (I like really fizzy sodas).  What I appreciate most about the SodaStream, besides that it's a ton of fun to make the sodas, is that the unit is eco-friendly.  By reusing the unit and not buying soda in the store, I'm cutting down on waste.  Granted, I always recycle my soda cans, but in the end it still helps.  Click here to see a cool infographic about the SodaStream carbon footprint.

Someone was checking out my unit when it arrived...
The unit will also save me money, I think, because the syrups last for 50 8-oz. servings and the CO2 lasts for the equivalent of 150 cans.  I saw replacement Carbonators at Bed Bath & Beyond for $30, and the syrups retail for around $5.  I actually just picked up two more flavors, Dr. Pete and Caffeine Free Diet, on sale for $2.50 at Target.

Bottom Line: I love my SodaStream!  I think this unit is a great investment for soda drinkers.  Even if you don't like typical sodas, you can flavor the carbonated water with the special "mywater" syrups, which leave a very light taste.  I also think that using the SodaStream would be really fun for kids.

I have two more photos of what the carbonated water looks like before and after syrup after the "read more."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June Little Black Bag Review

After seeing and hearing a ton about Little Black Bag, I decided to give it a try myself.  My first try didn't go so well--I wasn't in love with the items I got, and I was having difficulty trading for what I did want, so I cancelled that bag.  But then I tried again a little over a week later because their gallery had a better selection, and I remembered I had a Klout perk for an extra item.

My Little Black Bag came in a big white box
All I can say is that I'm glad I gave it another shot!  I found Little Black Bag to be as addicting as I kept hearing everyone else say.  I'm in love with it, and I can't wait to open my next bag!  Here's a quick rundown of the service:

  • Each bag costs $49.95 per month, with a new one created for you on the first of each month.  After tax and shipping to New York, my bag cost me $59.30.  You can also do a one-time deal for $59.95 if you don't want to commit to a monthly subscription.
  • You have the option to skip a bag if you sign up for the monthly subscription, which is a great feature for me because I don't want to spend $60 each month.
  • Little Black Bag is currently only ships within the United States.

So basically, each month you can pick one item that you really love, and then 2-4 more items will be placed in your bag based on your style quiz.  Your bag will total at least $100 in value, with the possibility of it being worth $150.

All of my items came wrapped in black tissue paper
The real fun starts after you open your bag, because that's when your trading period begins.  You can trade your items with other members on the site for the next 7 days, and you won't be charged until your bag ships.  You can cancel without being charged within 5 days of opening your bag.  I love that LBB offers an easy option for cancellation if you aren't happy with your items.  When I cancelled my first bag, all I had to do was email them and within 24 hours I received a reply saying my order had been voided.  So simple!

During my trading period I was glued to my phone and computer.  I don't usually like being one of those people with their phone constantly in their hands, but I couldn't help it.  I put in a lot of offers, but the most fun was seeing what other people offered me.  I actually ended up with none of the original items in my bag.  I wanted to check my trades often, too, because I didn't want to miss out on something awesome by having someone else accept the trade before me.  I highly recommend keeping your trading period open for the full 7 days (as opposed to having your bag shipped before then) because you never know what someone might offer you.  I actually nabbed one of my favorite items on the last day before my trading ended.

But enough of that, I'm sure what you really want to know is: what did I get in my bag?!  Here are my items:

  • Betsey Johnson Cat Drop Earrings, list price $40 - These earrings are so cute!  They're larger than I envisioned them to be and are a bit heavy, but I love cats and I don't care.  I have to figure what I'm going to wear them with, though.  Suggestions?
  • Melie Bianco Sandy Tassel Tote, list price $94 - I LOVE THIS BAG!  Someone offered me this bag in a trade and I instantly snatched it up.  I love big purses, and this one fits all of my stuff, with room to spare.
  • Collection 18 Wildberry Burst Square Scarf, list price $28 - I'm a scarf addict so I was really glad I was able to trade for this.  The colors are so pretty and it's really lightweight.  It's perfect for summer.

Total all of that up and you can see that I spent $60 for $162 worth of items.  Granted, I may have been able to find them discounted individually on sites like Amazon or Ebay, but the fun of it is really in the trading period and the joy of opening up your box when it arrives.

The only downside I found to LBB was that a lot of their stock is jewelry, and I'm not much of a jewelry girl.  I usually prefer dainty, simple items, and a majority of what they have is big, bold, and trendy.  Some of it is even, dare I say, gaudy.  But then you see that I ended up with pretty gaudy cat earrings, and I love them! So maybe it's a plus, since I chose an item that was outside of my comfort zone that I ended up being very happy with.

  • Check out Little Black Bag, I would be so thankful if you used my referral link!

Bottom Line: If you're willing to commit the $49.95 to this service, I think it is absolutely worth it!  Little Black Bag is so much fun, and the number of items to choose from is pretty expansive.  It's also easy to cancel your order if you aren't happy with the items you have; the customer service is excellent.

Bonus!  The Little Black Bag team was kind enough to provide a unique coupon code for my readers!  Enter "SEESHOPLOVELBB" to receive 10% off of your first bag -- this is only valid for first-time users.  It expires on 10 July 2012.  If you are thinking of joining, I would love if you could use my referral link!

More photos of my items up-close are after the cut.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June Hammock Pack Review

I just love subscription services.  I've always loved getting mail, and there is just something so great about receiving a special package each month.  Most times I forget that I even paid for it, because I don't care--it's like someone is sending me a present.  Or, I'm buying myself a present.  Either way, I love them.

Neatly packaged with a nice handwritten note from Erin
So when I was asked to review the brand new Hammock Pack monthly box, I jumped at the chance!  Erin, the founder of Hammock Pack, emailed me to see if I would like to try out their inaugural box.  The idea behind the service is that each month, $25 will get you 5-6 artisan lifestyle items delivered to your door.  The items will work to take you away from your everyday life and allow you to get away from within your home.  Quite a neat idea, if you ask me.

The theme for June's Hammock Pack was "Day at the Beach."  I was so impressed by the quality of the items, and the quantity!  My favorite thing about this service is that each product is hand-crafted, so you know that a lot of love and care was put into their creation.  Here is what was included:

  • Grace and Lace Co. Headwrap - This is the cutest headwrap.  It's not something I would normally wear, so I was glad I received one because it'll be something new to try out.  It doesn't even need to be tied; the fabric is all connected and it can be easily slipped over your head.
  • This Charming Candy Fruit Basket Lollipops - I love food and I love candy, and these were absolutely delicious.  The "Fruit Basket" pack comes with Guava Colada, Pineapple Heaven, Triple Berry, and Watermelon Basil.  My favorite was Triple Berry.
  • Theme Fragrance Soap - Handmade soaps are some of my favorite body care items.  This one is a cold-process soap titled "Sea Kelp Ginger Lime Coconut Milk Soap."  It smells fresh and light.
  • Motor City Creations Soy Candle - I was at my boyfriend's house when I opened my box and he got a whiff of the candle before I did and he said "I love this one!"  I agreed - the scent is so nice and light, it's called "Hawaiian Breeze."
  • DressGreen Lip Balm - You all know I'm a lip balm fanatic, so I was happy to receive one in this box.  This one is vegan and made from natural ingredients, and is Coconut-Vanilla scented.  It glides on very smoothly and tastes yummy.
  • Butter Plus Love Cookies - Speaking of yummy, these cookies were amazing!  A pack of four was included: two each of Strawberry Balsamic Marjoram and Marionberry Rosemary Seasalt.  They're sweet and savory, which was a little odd to me at first, but once I bit it and got the taste of their buttery goodness I was hooked.  The jam center was the best part!

Bottom Line: I am extremely impressed by the first Hammock Pack!  I think the idea is so great, and for $25 it's a worthy investment.  It's a bit pricier than other services out there, but it's definitely worth it for the quality of items received.  I look forward to seeing what is included in future packs!

View more photos after the read more.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Think Pretty Beauty Elixir Review and Giveaway [CLOSED]

For the past week I've been using a really interesting product, Think Pretty Pure Beauty Elixir.  It's described as "a decadent facial serum, infused with lavish antioxidants and nutrient-rich moisturizers."  The serum is 100% vegan and is certified as cruelty-free.  Their website even says, "tested on spirited humans, never on animals," which I think is funny and cute.

The elixir comes in a .6 oz container and retails for $58.  There are seven varieties, which are made from fresh ingredients: exotic oils, botanicals, extracts, and vitamins, which are kept in small batches and reordered frequently to ensure that every bottle is perfect.

Some of the benefits of using the elixir, as stated on their website, are that it reduces fine lines and gives face a healthy glow, calms and soothes the skin, is noncomedogenic, and reduces redness and irritation, and promotes healthy skin with powerful antioxidants.

I chose to try the "Good Day Sunshine" elixir.  The others are Hula Girl, Nightcap, Urban Girl, Skinny Minnie, Millionairess, and You Make Me Feel So Young.  I chose Good Day Sunshine because I liked the name, and because I liked that it works to tone, brighten, and protect the skin throughout the day.  This variety is good for all skin types, and is perfect for those who want to boost skin health, diminish the signs of sun damage, and protect and smooth the skin.

After using the elixir for a week, I can't say I noticed much of a difference in my skin's appearance.  Given my age (23), I don't have any fine lines or wrinkles to worry about, so my main concern is the redness I get on my cheeks and nose.  I was hoping that this would help to diminish that, but so far I haven't noticed a change.  I have only been using it for a week, though, so I'm still willing to use this and give it more time.  Since the elixir is oil-based, it glides on pretty easily and you don't need a lot.  I just give one little squirt into my hand and it's enough for my entire face.  It absorbs well and doesn't leave my skin feeling sticky, which I appreciate.

Bottom Line: The Think Pretty Beauty Elixir may seem pricey, but I think it's a good investment for those who are looking to remedy certain conditions on their skin.  I would be interested to try the other varieties, since maybe there is one that would better target my redness problem.  I liked using the elixir most as a moisturizer, and I love that it's organic and cruelty-free!

  • Check out the full line of elixirs at the Think Pretty website

Michelle, the founder of Think Pretty, has generously offered a bottle of the Pure Beauty Elixir for one of my readers to win.  Enter using the Rafflecopter form after the cut.

Update! Here is some more information from Michelle about elixirs that would work a little better to relieve redness, for those who might be interested:

The You Make Me Feel So Young Elixir does offer some relief from redness/dry itchies but it's definitely geared a bit more toward aging skin. Our Nightcap Elixir is absolutely fabulous for calming/soothing redness and irritation. We often recommend that one for gals with rosacea and/or over sensitive skin types. Our blend of Chamomile, Calendula and French Lavender mixed with Olive Squalane and Immortelle is incredibly anti-inflammatory and comforting - it's like pink bunny slippers for the skin!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Scentsy Review and Giveaway [CLOSED]

I've teamed up with Keri, an independent Scentsy consultant, to bring you this great review and giveaway.  I contacted Keri about a review after seeing her ad on Bloggerdise, and she was kind enough to provide me with products to review, along with some for one of my readers to win, too!

I chose the Zebra Plug-In Warmer and the Hemingway Scentsy Bar to go along with it.  Keri has lots of beautiful warmer designs to choose from, but I ultimately chose the zebra one because it's just plain fun.  The unit itself was pretty easy to assemble, and that's coming from someone who is "assembly-required" challenged.  Basically, you just screw the plug-in base onto the warmer top, and then you have to use a screwdriver to secure it in place with a provided nail.  It was a bit difficult at first for me to twist the base into place because I was afraid I was going to break it, but I gave it a firm grip and it went on fine.

After that, you're good to go!  I plugged it in right away and placed one square from my Hemingway bar on the top.  I was so excited to have the scent fill my bedroom because it smelled as heavenly as I was hoping it would!  I love anything warm and spicy, and this bar is perfect for me.  It is described on Keri's site as "Rich, ripe apples and warm, woody accents of sandalwood and cedar with hints of spice."  It is so incredibly amazing, I am in love with it!  I can pick up the apples and spice notes the most (I have my warmer on as I write this now).

My warmer, shown without flash on the left and with on the right
I think Scentsy products are great because they're so much safer than regular wick candles.  I love having scented things around me, and in the past I would occasionally light a candle while I read in bed.  Even though I was sitting right next to it, I was worried that something crazy would happen and I would knock it over and something would catch on fire.  Irrational?  Maybe a little.  But with Scentsy you don't have to worry about that at all.  They're kid-safe, and also cat-safe in my case!  I suppose the only downside would be if my unit got knocked over by my curious cat I might get some liquid wax all over, but that's a cleanup job I would be okay with.

Scentsy isn't just warmers and bars, though.  At Keri's site you can browse the full line of products, which includes everything from the Layers by Scentsy body care line to the adorable Scentsy Buddies!  The Scentsy Buddies and their Baby counterparts are one of my favorites because I can't resist cute things.  I see a Ribbert the Frog purchase in my future :)

Bottom Line: If you're looking for an affordable and high-quality way to scent your home, I wholeheartedly recommend Scentsy!  I'm loving this plug-in warmer and I will definitely be purchasing many more bars from Keri in the future.  If you like spicy scents like me, you can't go wrong with Hemingway, either!

Keri was kind enough to sponsor a giveaway as well, thanks so much Keri!  If you'd like to win a plug-in warmer of your own, along with a bar of your choice, enter using the Rafflecopter form after the cut.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June Birchbox Review

My June Birchbox came in the mail the other day, but I already knew what was going to be inside.  I have this terrible thing where I can never let myself be surprised -- around Christmas I have to tell my boyfriend to not tell me one single thing about my gift because I'll torture him with questions until he gives me a hint or two, and then I ultimately figure out what it is.  The same applies to my sample boxes; I always log in to the site before my box arrives to see what is going to be in there.

June's theme is "Jet Set," which is cute and fun.  I do have tentative plans to jet off to Minneapolis this summer to visit my best friend, so all of the travel-sized samples I've amassed will come in handy for that.  Overall, I'm content with this box.  When I first peeked at the items I didn't love them, but once I played around with them I changed my mind.

The variety this time around was nice, and I actually liked one of my lifestyle extras for once!  Here's what I received:

  • Eyeko Skinny Liquid Liner - I'm pretty sure that this is a full-sized product, which retails for $15.  I'm a total fail when it comes to applying liquid liner, so I usually stay away from it.  This one, however, is super easy to apply because the tip is shaped like a marker.  The shade I got was black, which I liked because I don't ever wear colored eyeliner.
  • Melvita Rose Floral Water - This is probably my favorite sample in the box.  The company is Leaping Bunny certified as cruelty-free, so that automatically gives them a HUGE thumbs-up in my book.  The bottle is a decent size, and it's spray toner and "mid-day skin refresher."  I took it to work and used it twice throughout the day, and it took the edge off of my oily skin.  Plus, it smells so nice!
  • theBalm Stainiac in Beauty Queen - I've reviewed a few of theBalm's products here before and I'm a big fan of the brand.  I actually already own a full-sized Stainiac, so I'm going to be giving this sample away as part of my 500 follower giveaway (stay tuned for that!).  I like this lip and cheek stain because it's very light.  Fans of dark stains probably won't love it as much because it really gives a very gentle wash of color, but I love it.
  • Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream - Apparently this is Japan's best-kept skin secret.  It can be used on hands, lips, feet, or anywhere that needs some moisture.  I liked the texture of it -- it was very smooth and absorbed well, but the smell is kind of off-putting.  The sample itself was teeny tiny, too.
  • Cynthia Rowley Dress Up BAND-AID - I am surprisingly pleased with this lifestyle extra, because for once it's something I'll actually use; though I prefer to not buy this particular brand (owned by Johnson & Johnson, which tests on animals).  I shut my thumb in my car door a few weeks ago and my nail is starting to peel off (yuck), so I've been going through bandages like it's my job.  These are fun and I was impressed that Birchbox sent a full box of 20 of them.  At first I figured they'd send us only two or three individual BAND AIDs.
  • John Varvatos Star USA - This lifestyle extra is one I'm not pleased with.  It smells nice, but it's a men's cologne!  I know that the whole reason they included it was to promote Birchbox Man, but sorry, I buy Birchbox woman for myself, not so I can give a sample to my boyfriend.  I know that sounds selfish, but seriously.

Here's a comparison photo of the full-sized Stainiac (.3 oz) and the sample from Birchbox (.04 oz).  I saw on some posts and videos that people thought the Stainiac they received was full-sized, but it clearly isn't.  The sample is still an ample amount, though, to try and see if you like the product.

Bottom Line: This Birchbox was better than other recent ones, but I still cancelled after I received it.  For $10 it's not a bad deal at all, but I'd rather stick with my other subscription services that consistently send me lots of items that I love, instead of Birchbox which only occasionally sends me things I like.

*Disclaimer: I purchased this box with my own money and was not asked to review it.  The honest opinions here are entirely my own.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June Conscious Box Review

It's Conscious Box time again!  If you're new to my blog, Conscious Box is my favorite subscription service.  It costs $19 a month ($12 for the box, $7 for shipping) to receive a box that's brimming with eco-friendly lifestyle items.  I've never been disappointed in a box since I started receiving their boxes last December; in fact, I've loved every one of them!

I like how the boxes are packaged because they're fun to open and they also have minimal packaging, so the entire thing is easily recyclable.  The theme for June was "Leap into Summer," and the box contained a good variety of items to "reinvigorate the soul."

There were a few more edible items this month than in other boxes, but I like that because I've amassed quite the buildup of samples from all of my subscription services.  I can eat these and then not worry about them taking up space while they're waiting to be used.  I have a hypothesis that Conscious Box does this on purpose every few months (includes more edible things).  Anyway, here is what was included:

  • Vega One all-in-one nutritional shake - The flavor I got was Vanilla Chai which is perfect because I loooove chai!  I haven't tried this yet, but it's a plant-based dietary supplement that's dairy, gluten, and soy-free and has no sugar added.  It sounds delicious!
  • Artisana Sattva Cashew Butter - I've received samples of Artisana's Coconut Oil before (which I still haven't used, even though I've been saying I'm going to use it on my hair for months), but I have never heard of cashew butter.  It's 100% organic.  I think I'm going to try it on some crackers.
  • EBOOST - I've also gotten EBOOST in various boxes before, and if you read any of those reviews you'll know that I'm not the biggest fan of them.  This one is a little different, though; it's a Super Berry flavored natural energy shot.  I try to stay away from energy drinks and energy shots, but I'm definitely going to give this one a try because it has no caffeine or any of the usual bad stuff.
  • KO Denmark Body Lotion - This little lotion packet is Jasmine Neroli Rose scented.  I haven't opened it yet, but I like that it's a smaller size because I usually don't use all of the sample at once with the larger ones, and then I just have a half-used packet sitting around.  This one is vegan, too.
  • Nuti-Masu Life Ocean Salt - The informational card says this is one of the healthiest, purest salts in the world.  It has won the Mode Food Selection Award Gold Medal 6 times in a row...interesting.  To me, salt is salt, but this surely won't go to waste.
  • Lara Bar - I've had Lara Bars before, and I love the Apple Pie and Cookie Dough flavors.  The one I got here was Cashew Cookie, and I didn't love it.  I actually kind of thought it was gross.  These bars are also very high in calories and carbs, so they aren't a "healthy" snack, per-se.  I think these are best used as fuel while hiking or a post-workout snack.
  • Mighty Leaf Teas - I think every box I ever get has tea in it, but I don't mind because I'm a tea drinker.  The flavors I got were Organic Earl Grey and Organic Spring Jasmine.  Earl Grey is not my favorite, but the Jasmine is new to me.
  • Natural Vitality Energy28 - Look familiar?  I just reviewed this product here.
  • Savvy Boheme Natural Deodorant - This is the cutest thing, it's shaped like and is the size of a lip balm.  I'm going to throw it in my purse for whenever I might need some on-the-go refreshment.
  • Vita Rocks - I love these!  Definitely my favorite item this month.  They're so fun -- vitamins in the form of pop rocks.  The flavors were Cherry Blast and Lemon Burst, and I tried the lemon ones yesterday.
  • The Natural Newborn Bug Stopper Soap - This is interesting to me, because I don't think of soap when I think of bug repellents.  Mosquitoes love to eat me alive, so I'm not sure how well this would work for me, but I'm willing to give it a shot.
  • Kelp Krunch Seaweed Energy Bar - I love the packaging on this.  It's an organic, vegan, gluten-free energy bar.  The flavor is Original Sesame."  I'm a little hesitant to try it, but if I don't like it I'm sure someone in my household will eat it.
  • Soap Hope - The bonus item for June was a $5 gift card for  They sell a ton of different things, and all of the profits go to lifting women from poverty.  Pretty cool.
  • Post Card - The Conscious Box team included a postcard in the boxes this month, which weren't on the info card list.  Mine is a beautiful photo of birch trees (or, at least, I think they're birch trees).

Bottom Line: I probably sound like a broken record each month, but I love Conscious Box!  I'm never going to unsubscribe, unless I become financially unable to continue.  That is really the only thing I can think of that would keep me from this service!

I have more photos of the items up-close after the "read more."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Natural Vitality Review and Giveaway [CLOSED]

After posting my May Conscious Box review, I was approached by Natural Vitality to review some of their products.  Their Organic Life Vitamins supplement was in the May box, and I had also previously tried their Natural Calm in my February box.

The two products I chose to review were the Energy28 and Natural Calm Plus Calcium.  Even though I tried the Natural Calm before, I was interested in learning more about the "Plus Calcium," especially since I really don't get as much calcium in my diet as I should.

30 fl oz. bottle retails for $29.95
I'll begin with the Energy28, a non-caffeinated whole-food energy supplement.  I drink a cup of coffee in the morning for a pick-me-up, but I'm always looking for more natural ways to energize.  I stay far away from sugar-packed energy drinks (with all of the guarine and other ingredients like that), and I rarely drink caffeinated soda.  So my morning coffee is really the only caffeine I have throughout the day, and I figured if I could find something a little better for me to take its place then that would be great.  Energy28 boasts the following:

  • 13 organic superfruits (pomegranate, acai, goji, and noni) and fruits and 11 organic vegetables and sprouts.  Extra care is taken to ensure that organic produce free of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides is used.
  • Golden Chlorella Omega, which is a nutrient-dense, ultra-pure, mild-tasting microalgae that provides naturally occurring amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.  It's non-GMO and grown sustainably and locally in the USA without pesticides or herbicides.
  • Organic Maca, a root vegetable that grows in the Andes Mountains of South America.  It is a high-energy food, and is rich in amino acids and natural vitamins and minerals.
  • Bioenergy RIBOSE, a patented supplement that is clinically proven, naturally certified, and has FDA GRAS approval.
  • Rhodiola, a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Russia and Scandinavian countries.  It has a reputation for stimulating the nervous system and enhancing work performance.

Energy28 is also vegan and gluten-free.  The literature I was provided states that it has a "natural berry flavor," which to me means that it's sweet tasting.  I found it to be a bit less sweet than I was expecting and would have preferred, but it certainly doesn't taste off-putting.  I mixed this with water and drank it at work on Friday, but due to the flavor I would probably mix it with a smoothie next time.  I'm going to continue to use Energy28 in the morning instead of coffee for a few days; so far I've found that I feel as awake as I usually do on my coffee mornings, but I don't feel that typical caffeine-crash around 3pm.

The 8 oz. jar retails for $24.95
Of the two supplements, I preferred Natural Calm Plus Calcium.  I didn't realize it when I chose the product, but it's marketed as a sports drink.  It contains magnesium and calcium, since calcium needs magnesium to be properly absorbed in the body.  Without the magnesium in the supplement, calcium alone would draw from the supplies already in the body to fuel its assimilation.  Natural Calm Plus Calcium has the proper balance of the two to ensure that the body receives the necessary amounts of both.  This sports formula is a good option for athletes because strenuous exercise can cause the body to lose magnesium, which can also lead to cramping.

I thoroughly enjoyed the flavor of Natural Calm Plus Calcium.  It's Raspberry-Lemon, and it's a good mixture of sweet and tart.  I drink a lot of water throughout the day, but sometimes I crave a little bit of flavor.  I liked using this supplement because it was much better than reaching for a sugary juice or soda.  Additionally, I did notice that today at work I felt that the day went by quickly and I was less aggravated than other days.  I can only base this off of the one day's use, but I have used Natural Calm (the original formula) before and received similar results.  Either way, I like this supplement because it tastes good and has calcium and magnesium in it.

  • Visit Natural Vitality's website and browse their full line of products
  • Connect with them on Facebook and on Twitter

Bottom Line: I think that both of these Natural Vitality supplements are great options for people who are looking for a certain type of product, whether it be energy or calm.  Energy28 is vegan and Natural Calm Plus Calcium is vegetarian, and both are gluten-free and non-GM.

Natural Vitality has kindly offered up a great prize pack for two of my readers to win!  Enter to win using the Rafflecopter form after the "read more."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Glee Gum Review and Giveaway [CLOSED]

I chew gum like it's my job.  I just feel better when I'm chewing on something; I also grind my teeth at night so my jaw just always wants to be moving.  When I found out that Glee Gum was offering products to review and giveaway on, I applied right away.

I'm thankful that I was chosen to review this product, because I really love it!  I had heard of Glee Gum before, but hadn't tried it prior to this review.  My favorite thing about the gum is that it's made from chicle (and is, in fact, the only gum in the United States that contains the ingredient), which is sustainably harvested from Sapodilla trees in the rainforests of Central America.  The chicle harvesting also provides an income for thousands of forest-dwellers, and an incentive to leave the trees standing.

Glee Gum is made from simple, all-natural ingredients, not like the ingredients in most chewing gums.  There is no artificial coloring, flavoring, preservatives, or aspartame.  I received all eight different flavors to try, and I must say I really enjoyed them all: Bubblegum, Tangerine, Refresh-Mint, Triple Berry, Peppermint, Lemon-Lime, and Cinnamon.  My favorite was definitely Peppermint.  I usually choose mint flavored gums over fruit flavors, but I liked this Peppermint because it wasn't like others I've had.  It was slightly sweet along with being minty, and just overall it tasted really great.  But, like I said, there wasn't a flavor that I didn't like--they all taste great!  The larger packs contained 18 pieces, and the smaller ones had 2.

The gum's flavors didn't last an exceptionally long time, but it wasn't any less than other gums I've had.  The consistency stays nice and chewy, which I appreciated.  My only (minor) complaint is that the pieces were a bit on the small side in my opinion, so I would pop two in my mouth at a time instead of just one.

In this photo you can see that Glee Gum is affiliated with 1% For the Planet, and that the gum is also GMO and Gluten-free.  They even have a number of "Make Your Own" kits: Chocolate, Chewing Gum, and Gummies.  I haven't tried these, but they sound like they would be really fun.  Each kit contains all of the ingredients you need to make your own treats, but they also include information on the origins of the raw materials.

Glee Gum is manufactured by Verve Inc, which was founded by Deborah Schimberg of Providence, Rhode Island.  About 10 years ago, Deborah traveled to Guatemala with her family and discovered the "chewing gum trees."  Amazed and intrigued by this new discovery, she was inspired to create a "green" chewing gum made from chicle.  She brought back several blocks with her from her trip, and experimented in the kitchen with her kids to create the perfect gum.  Those modest origins have made way for the socially and environmentally conscious company that is Verve Inc!

Bottom Line: I'm impressed by Glee Gum for a lot of reasons.  First, the gum is delicious and stays nice and chewy.  Second, it's made from natural ingredients and supports sustainability and social consciousness. What's not to love about that?

  • Learn more about Glee Gum and browse their full line of products
  • Use their store locator to find the closest retailer to you!
  • Read the Glee Gum blog, and/or connect with them on Facebook and Twitter

The kind people at Glee Gum are offering prizes for three readers of this blog!  Enter to win 3 packs of Glee Gum and a coupon by using the Rafflecopter form below the cut.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Free Beauty Events for June!

Have you heard of  If you've been around this blog for a while you've probably seen my other monthly posts about them.  But if not, let me introduce you! is a website for anyone who loves beauty and great deals.  One of the main aspects of the site is their database of, you guessed it, free beauty events that are taking place across the U.S.  For example, in June Rite Aid will be having their Sublime Sun Event in select stores.  Demonstrators will be giving away a free L'Oreal Colour Riche Balm with the purchase of two Sublime Sun products, and all customers can sign up for a raffle drawing for a cosmetic bag filled with products.

Another event happening in June can be found at CVS, the P&G Best in Beauty Event.  There will be demonstrators and free makeovers for Olay, Herbal Essences, Pantene, Secret, Venus, Clairol, and CoverGirl.  They will also be giving out coupons and gift-with-purchase bags (just a side note that these events are featuring companies that are not cruelty-free).  Information about these events and many more can all be found at, and you can even search by your zip code to find events close to you.  Anyone who would like to advertise an event can make a posting for free at the submission page.

Another fun part of is their weekly and monthly giveaways.  This month they are giving away a fantastic prize set consisting of Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Hair Masque, Organic Coconut & Hibiscus Hold & Shine Moisture Mist, and Coconut & Hibiscus Curling Souffle Gel.  Entering is easy: just go to the contest page and supply your name, email, and zip code.  Ten prizes will be given away, and the contest runs from 6/1 to 6/30/12.  Winners will be chosen on 7/5 and notified by 7/15.

*Disclaimer: I received free products to try from in exchange for this informational post.

Monday, June 4, 2012

theBalm Nude 'Tude Palette Review and Swatches

I bought theBalm's Nude 'Tude palette from HauteLook and it finally arrived today!  This is the second palette I bought from HauteLook, the first being the Urban Decay BOS IV.  I like getting them on flash sale sites because they're deeply discounted, but it does take a few weeks for them to ship.  I'd say it was worth the wait, though!

The palette's outer packaging

I've always liked neutral eyeshadows best (I never could pull of the vibrant eye look), and only recently did I realize that there are entire palettes of neutral shades.  I know, I'm a late bloomer.  But with a full time paycheck came lots more spending money than I was ever used to, so I am now indulging my cosmetics-obsessed side with lots and lots of eyeshadow!  This palette retails for $36 on theBalm's website.  It has 12 shades and comes with a shadow/liner brush.  After taxes and shipping, mine from HauteLook cost me $31, so I still saved $5.

As you can see, the palette is rectangular in 2-D terms and has a mirror on the top flap.  It secures shut with a magnet, and it's pretty strong so I'm not worried about this ever flying open unexpectedly.  The shadows themselves have cute names, and the pans cover the racier bits of the nude women on the palette.  This is the "Feeling Naughty" version, due to the nude women, but I don't think there's anything overly-racy about the design.  The "Feeling Nice" version has a background of a bedroom and no women, but that one is currently out of stock on theBalm's site.

One thing I noticed right away was that one of the names of the shadows is different than versions I have seen before.  My palette has a shade named "Seductive," which was "Schitzo" in previous versions.  It may seem like a minor detail, but I think it's nice that theBalm changed the name because I felt that "Schitzo" was a little, well, rude, considering that mental health issues really aren't something to joke about.

I am really pleased with the quality of these shadows.  There is a nice mix of mattes and shimmers, so you can play around with different textures.  What I liked the most is that they feel so silky on application--I really noticed this when I swatched them using my finger.  They're incredibly smooth and apply well.  The color payoff on all of them was exceptional, except for maybe "Sassy."  But then again, that one is white, so maybe it isn't supposed to be as strong.

Bottom Line: For $31, I'm glad I picked up this palette!  It would even be worth it for the full price, especially compared to some other palettes out there.  The quality is great, the color selection is nice and varied, and so is the texture selection.  Overall, I think this is a good option for someone who wants to play around with neutrals without having to spend a ton of money.

Check out my swatches and close-up photos behind the cut.