Saturday, August 25, 2012

What's in My Purse: Before and After!

Birchbox recently sent out a call to all "Birchbloggers" asking us to expand on what's in our purses.  This couldn't have come at a better time for me, because I just underwent a major purse overhaul.

I have always been the type of girl to carry around a ginormous purse, ones so big that people were often prompted to say "Where the hell are you going that you need all that stuff?!"  Let's just say that I liked being prepared for anything.  Up until this week, the photo above is what I had going on in my purse.

  1. Melie Bianco Sandy Tassel Tote - I love this bag so much.  I got it in my very first Little Black Bag.  It's pretty huge--one of my coworkers asked me if it was my backpack and if I was ready for back to school!
  2. Sephora mirror - This came with a gift card I won through a blog giveaway.  Cute and compact!
  3. Trident gum - I chew gum like it's my job, so I always have a pack on hand.
  4. 4GB USB Drive - Because, why not?  I guess I just like the idea of having one if I ever need to transport some data on the fly.
  5. iPhone 4 - I don't think I know anyone who doesn't carry their phone on them at all times.  I flipped mine over so you could all see how adorable my penguin Casemate case is.
  6. Melvita Eau Florale de Rose Water - This was one of my past Birchbox treats!  I absolutely love it because it smells awesome and it's perfect for a mid-day facial spritz in this humid summer weather.
  7. Neutrogena SPF 70 Sunblock - I don't really need an SPF that high, but this was a free sample and I like to have it on hand.  I know that they aren't a cruelty-free company, but I have no plans to actually purchase their products (please don't hate me for using the free sample, though!).
  8. Savvy Boheme Natural Deodorant - This lip balm-sized deodorant is perfect.  I always end up forgetting something when I travel, so when I forget deodorant I've got this as a backup.
  9. Korres Lipstick - I got this lipstick in my Look Bag and it's a great nude shade.
  10. Revlon Lip Butter in Tutti Frutti - I bought these Lip Butters before Revlon became no longer cruelty free.  Tutti Frutti was the first shade I bought, and I decided I wanted two more because I have a problem (with buying too many lip products).
  11. Revlon Lip Butter in Sweet Tart - Tutti Frutti is an orange-y shade, so next I wanted a pink.
  12. Revlon Lip Butter in Peach Parfait - This is the perfect daytime shade for me.  It blends in well with my coloring, but it's still shimmery enough to be fun and work-appropriate.
  13. Lavanila Laboratories SPF 40 The Healthy Sunscreen - I think this little guy came as a free sample from a Sephora purchase.  I didn't really know what else to do with it, so naturally I just threw it in the bottomless pit that is my purse.
  14. Nivea Hand Lotion - I know they aren't cruelty-free either, shame on me.  But I get really dry hands so I like to have a lotion with me, and this one was another free sample.
  15. Clean Well Hand Sanitizer - This came in a Conscious Box and is a great little hand sanitizer.
  16. minteas in Cocoa Mate - These are so yummy!  I got them in a past Birchbox.
  17. Stila Lip Glaze in Action - Another Birchbox item.  This one smells great and has a nice gold shimmer.
  18. J.R. Watkins Lip Tint - This came from an Eco-Emi box and is the shade "Simply Mauve-lous."
  19. eos Lip Balm - I love the shape of these.  This one is Strawberry Sorbet and smells really nice.
  20. My car keys on a USMC lanyard with a cute little keychain I found at Urban Outfitters.
  21. Wallet - I need to buy a new one
  22. Checkbook
  23. Kindle Fire - I like to read on my lunch break at work.

So, yes--quite the amalgamation.  It was all starting to get way to heavy and I wanted to downsize to a smaller crossbody purse.  I found one that was really cute and exactly what I wanted on Forever 21's website so I bought it.  Here is what I'm carrying around now, with the new products in bold:

  1. Crossbody from Forever 21
  2. Wallet and checkbook again
  3. iPhone 4
  4. Nivea Lotion
  5. Badger Balm Cocoa Lip Balm - I love this stuff!  The scent is Sweet Orange it's amazing.
  6. Clean Well Hand Sanitizer
  7. Melvita Eau Florale Rose Water
  8. Trident gum
  9. Lavanila Laboratories SPF 40
  10. Savvy Boheme Natural Deodorant
  11. Sephora mirror
  12. 4GB USB
  13. leftover Red Wings baseball ticket
  14. car keys

I went from 23 to 14 items, which was definitely a big transition for me.  After lugging around huge purses for so long, I thought I wouldn't be able to function without so much crap, but I was wrong.  I feel almost liberated to be carrying around such a small purse!  My back thanks me, too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mia Mariu Review and Giveaway [CLOSED]

I found out about Mia Mariu through a post on and was really excited to be chosen to review and give away some of their products!  Founded by Jeannie Price, each Mia Mariu product "fuses nature and technology by combining the highest quality botanicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and peptides."

I received the Refreshing Foaming Gel Cleanser and  Anti-Aging Brightening Serum to try.  I used both for a week before writing up this review to give my skin time to adapt to them.  The cleanser retails for $19 for 4 fl oz and the serum is $38 for 1 fl oz.

The Refreshing Foaming Gel Cleanser has sea kelp and aloe in it to make it appropriate for all skin types (mine is combination), and is especially helpful for sensitive skin and those with rosacea.  It is also sulfate-free.  I expected it to be nice and foamy based on the name, but it wasn't.  I wet my face and hands and then rubbed a dollop in between my hands to get it to lather, but it didn't really foam that much.  It was a very light lather, but it wasn't anything that made me dislike the product.  I was more surprised than anything else.  The cleanser had a light scent that smelled both floral and citrus-y at the same time, if that makes sense.  I massaged it into my skin for about 30 seconds before washing it off.  I found that it didn't leave my skin feeling overly dry, which is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to cleansers.  I still felt the need to apply a moisturizer after using, but that was a great segue into the serum anyway.

I've tried a good number of serums, all of which have been clear, so I expected this one to be as well.  But it isn't, it's more of a cream and it's white.  It's sealed in an air-tight bottle to protect the anti-aging ingredients.  It smells similar to the cleanser, but was even less scented.  The serum targets sun spots and pigmentation while brightening overall skin clarity.  It has anti-aging peptides, skin-brightening botanicals, and an aloe and vitamin B5 complex to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  I appreciated the weightless feel of the serum, and since it was slightly creamy I felt fine using it in place of a moisturizer.  A little goes a long way, so a 1 oz bottle would last for quite some time.

I don't yet have to worry about wrinkles, so I can't comment on how well the products helped with that.  But what I did like about the cleanser and serum is that they were very lightweight and made my skin feel nicely hydrated and not like I had to heavy of a product on.

Bottom Line: I think Mia Mariu has a great line of products, and I would recommend their cleanser and serum.  Their products range from nutritional supplements to mineral cosmetics.  Anyone can join their team and sell Mia Mariu from the home, so it's also a great way to earn money.

Mia Mariu has been kind enough to provide a Refreshing Foaming Gel Cleanser and Anti-Aging Brightening Serum for one of my readers to win!  Enter below (after the read more) using the Rafflecopter form.

Monday, August 20, 2012

August Birchbox Review

My August Birchbox took less than a week to get to me, yay!  This month's theme was "Beauty School," which when I heard about it in their previews I wasn't overly-enthused.  I was hoping that it wouldn't be a bunch of tools that I would never use.  I don't love this month, but they can't all be winners I guess (luckily my past two were good, because up until then I had been growing disappointed with my boxes).

Rather than the usual pink, the outside cover resembled a bright yellow ruler.  The inside was the regular brown box.  I liked the design of the outside a lot, though, I thought it was really cute.

I received six items total: five beauty samples and one "Birchbox Find," which is supposed to be like a lifestyle extra.  I liked the size of the samples themselves, but none of them were anything I was overly excited about.

  • Beauty Fixation Pre-Tweeze Treatment - These are little Q-tip applicators filled with "a mild topical pain reliever and antiseptic to be used before tweezing."  There are 24 of them in this full-sized sample (which retails for $5), which is nice, but it's not a product I would ever buy for myself or be interested in trying.  I would have preferred to receive one of the other Beauty Fixation products (mostly the Tinted Lip Condititoner), as almost any of them would have been more useful to me than these.
  • Caldrea Hand Soap - I do like hand soap and all things scented, so I'm glad I got these.  I haven't used either of them yet so I don't know if I like the scent, but they're "Palmarosa Wild Mint" so I think that I will.
  • EYE ROCK Designer Liner - I hate these!  I thought they were pretty strange before even sampling them (I'd seen them in other peoples' reviews), but I wanted to at least give them the benefit of the doubt.  They were as horrible as I feared they'd be.  It's a sticker you put on your eyelid, which is all sorts of uncomfortable, especially when blinking.  I would not recommend these to anyone.  Oh and the shape didn't look that great on my almond eyelids, either (I have a photo after the read more).
  • Juicy Couture Viva la Juicy La Fleur - I don't like perfume samples, but I've given up on hoping to never receive any ever again.  This one is okay, a little bit too sweet for my preferences.  But at least it's an atomizer.
  • Oscar Blandi Jasmine Shampoo - I really wanted to like this product, but I didn't.  It didn't lather well enough in my thick hair, which is an important factor to me when using shampoos.  I didn't care for the scent, either.  It's a decently-sized sample, though, and I'll still take it with me when I go visit my boyfriend.
  • Schick Hydro Silk Razor - This is the "Birchbox Finds" item, which is their way of including a lower-end item that's worth having.  A razor is a razor, so I didn't care either way about this, but I was glad they included Schick because they're the only cruelty-free razor I can think of.  And it spared me from having to spend money on a new razor.
Bottom Line: Not the best Birchbox to date, but not the worst.  I was hoping to get a Pixi product, a lot of girls got full-sized ones in their boxes, but no luck.  I'm hoping September is better!  You can sign up for Birchbox through my referral link by clicking here.

More photos, including what my Eye Rock looked like on, after the "read more."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vegan Conscious Box Giveaway! [CLOSED]

This is my third time hosting a Conscious Box giveaway and I couldn't be happier to share my love of this eco-friendly subscription service with you all! Debuting in September is their special 100% vegan subscription option, and the awesome Conscious Box team has kindly offered one for one of my readers to win.  To learn more about the service, you can read my past reviews of their non-100% vegan service here.

The first vegan box is being curated by Brendan Brazier, former pro Ironman triathlete, bestselling author of Thrive, and formulator of Vega.  Brendan is known as the top authoritative source for the vegan, plant-based diet and has used his experience to help create one of the most incredible Conscious Box experiences yet!  I'm sure that even non-vegans will love this box.  If you're interested in winning one, please enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

This is not the vegan box (it's my August box), but I'm sure it will look similar

This sweepstakes is open to U.S. residents aged 18+.  It begins today, 14 August 2012 and will end at 12:01 AM EST on 22 August 2012.  One winner will be randomly selected via the Rafflecopter widget and will be notified by email.  The winner will have 48 hours to respond via email to claim their prize, or a new winner will be selected.  All entries will be verified.  The sponsor is responsible for shipping out the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclaimer: This is a sponsored giveaway. I was not compensated for hosting this giveaway.

Monday, August 13, 2012

NYX Cosmetics "Lucky Kit" for $13.50 Today!

My intent for this blog was always for it to be a beauty blog, but I know I've strayed off that path in the past.  I'm still going to post all of my subscription service unboxings here, but I want to really focus on bringing you cruelty-free beauty options otherwise.

To start things off, you can get the NYX Cosmetics "Lucky Kit" for only $13.50 today as part of Lucky Magazine's "Deal of the Day" promotion.  NYX is a great and affordable cruelty-free brand who is certified by PETA.  The kit includes a 10-color eyeshadow palette, a  five-color lip gloss palette, and two brushes.  To get this deal, enter code luckydaily1 at checkout.  After 10:59 AM EST tomorrow, August 14th, this deal will be over and if you want the kit it'll cost you the full $27.  So grab yours for 50% off while you can by clicking here!  You can also subscribe to Lucky's daily email list to receive their daily deals in your inbox each day.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

August Conscious Box Review

My August Conscious Box arrived yesterday, and I'm still amazed at how quickly it arrives.  But then I always remind myself that I'm paying $7 for shipping, so it had better arrive quickly!

I especially love the cover photo this month, so pretty!
August's theme was "Rediscover Your Groove," and the items included were based on the idea of rediscovering what makes you happy.  Out of all of the (Conscious) boxes I've received thus far, this one is my least favorite -- but that's not to say that it was bad.  I just didn't love the items as much as I've loved some that were included in the past.

August's box contained 12 items, not including the postcard in the upper-right hand corner and the miscellaneous coupons and inserts.  As you can see, it was mostly food items, which I've noticed they do every three or four boxes or so.  I actually like it; I have such a massive buildup of unused samples that it's hard to find room for more.  If I can just eat them all then that problem is solved!

  • berryplus Laundry Soap - This item is a repeat, which kind of surprised me.  I also received some of this in my first Conscious Box back in December.  It's a very useful product, though, so I don't mind getting another one.
  • I Love Chicken Poop Lip Junk - This made me smile simply because of the name.  There is no poop in it!  I'm not really sure why the name is Chicken Poop, but it's a nice beeswax-based lip balm.
  • Crispy Green Crispy Mangoes - I love mangoes but I didn't care for these freeze-dried ones.  The texture just freaked me out and I didn't like the way they felt against my teeth (does that sound weird?).  They tasted great, though, I just couldn't get past the texture.
  • Crunchmaster Sea Salt Multi-Grain Crackers - I opened these up after failing with the mangoes and I loved them.  They're pretty simple, just delicious, gluten-free crackers.
  • St. Claire's Organics Raspberry Tarts - My informational card says that they're watermelon, but I received raspberry.  I'm fine with either flavor.  I haven't tried these yet, but I'm sure they're great because I'm still loving the St. Claire's Organics peppermints I got last month.
  • Honest Tea Honest Kids Berry Berry Good Lemon - I love Honest Tea products and I also love juice, so I'm really interested in trying this one.  I like the sound of the flavor and I'm sure I won't be disappointed.
  • Natural Vitality Kids Natural Calm Multi - I've blogged about Natural Vitality products quite a bit, and I've used both their Natural Calm and Natural Calm Plus Calcium.  The Kids variety is Fruity Splash flavored.
  • thinkThin Crunch - I received two thinkThin bars in a Cravebox once and I hated them.  They really tasted terrible.  This time I got "Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts" and "Blueberry & Mixed Nuts."  The blueberry one wasn't bad at all, and I'm hoping the chocolate one will be good (I think it was just something about their peanut butter flavors that was really gross to me).
  • Weleda Pomegranate Firming Serum - I have a feeling this is going to be a lot of peoples' favorite product.  It retails for $45, and I've heard great things about Weleda before, but I'm not sure if I'll end up using this.  I'm overloaded with creams and serums already, so I might sell this.
  • Wexy Bags - These are so cute!  They're biodegradable, BPA-free snack bags with fun monsters on the front.  They're obviously targeted toward children, but I'm going to use them for my lunches at work!
  • Go Raw Real Live Apricot Bar - This was the extra item for the month (which you can receive by interacting with Conscious Box on Facebook).  It's USDA Organic, vegan, and certified wheat/gluten free.  It looks like one of those fruit leathers with seeds in it.

Bottom Line: Lots of yummy treats were included in August's Conscious Box, but it didn't wow me the way boxes in the past have.  I think that was mostly due to the fact that there wasn't a ton of variety this month.  I still was satisfied with this box, and am looking forward to what they'll include for September.

Check out more photos after the read more.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

July Goodebox Review

Goodebox is a subscription service that I recently found that piqued my interest because it features eco-friendly beauty items, and I decided to give it a try for a month.  It costs $16 a month for 6-7 samples, and supposedly you can enter to win full-sized products each month.

When I got my July box, I thought it seemed smaller than I was anticipating.  But I compared it to an old Conscious Box I had, and it was only slightly smaller.  The packaging is pretty simple, but pretty.

Overall, I'd say that this box is okay.  For $16 I was hoping for bigger samples, and I was a little bit disappointed by the selection for July.  The items for each person vary a little bit, as evidenced by the informational card in my box.  It showed all of the possible items you could have received, with checkmarks next to the ones that were actually in your box.  It was good to see that the profile I filled out in the beginning actually mattered, though (unlike some services).  Here are my items:

  • Miessence Sunflower Body Wash - This smells nice, but it isn't my favorite scent profile.  It's a pretty decent size, and I'll take it along with me when I visit my boyfriend.
  • Emtage Hair Silktage Rejuvenating Styling Serum - I think this is just a hair oil or something of the sort.  I haven't used it yet because I usually stay away from oils, since they weigh hair down and mine is so thick that it's just not a good combination.
  • 100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream - I already have too many eye creams and they're not a product I generally use, but this one smells nice.  I use it just because it's there, but it's not something I would buy on my own.
  • benecos Natural Mascara Maximum Volume - I do like this product, and it's a full size.  I know that I like it because I actually already had a tube of it.  I used it as a flash giveaway prize on my Twitter and Facebook pages that only got 5 entries, but I never heard back from the winner so maybe I'll use it as a prize later on.
  • Revolution Organics Freedom Glow Body Balm - I received a Revolution Organics lip gloss in an Eco Emi box and I really liked it, so I was excited to try this.  The shade I received is a bright pink, which isn't ideal, but I'm willing to give it a try.  I guess I'd use it mostly as a cheek stain.
  • Natural Vitality Natural Calm - I'm no stranger to Natural Vitality or Natural Calm.  They've been in a few of my subscriptions before, and I also reviewed their products in a sponsored post here.  This is a good product, it tastes good and is slightly effervescent.
  • Urban Organic Perfume - I normally hate vials, but this one was actually easy to open.  I didn't care for the scent, though--it's kind of citrusy, but not in a way I like.

Bottom Line: This box didn't do much to deter me from Conscious Box, so I cancelled my subscription after only one month.  I think it's a good service for those who want to experiment more with green beauty products, and the brands they've featured so far are very good.  I just prefer my other boxes for now.

More photos after the cut.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Beija Flor Naturals Giveaway [CLOSED]

A few days ago I posted a review for some excellent products I received from Beija Flor Naturals.  Stevonne, the owner of the company, was kind enough to offer a $20 gift certificate to one of my readers!  Enter below using the Rafflecopter form.

This sweepstakes is open to US residents aged 18+.  It begins today, 3 August 2012 and ends on Friday, 10 August 2012.  One winner will be selected at random via the Rafflecopter widget and will be notified by email.  The winner will have 48 hours to respond to claim their prize or a new winner will be chosen.  The sponsor is responsible for getting the prize to the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July Hammock Pack Review

After reviewing June's inaugural Hammock Pack, I was so charmed by the service that I decided to join to see what July would bring.  I can't say I love this box as much as I loved the first, but it certainly has its merits.

The premise of Hammock Pack is for $25 a month, they'll send you a box curated to take you away on a "doorstop getaway," so you can enjoy something special without having to leave your home.  I think it's a really great idea, and I felt that all of the items in July's box tied in very well to the theme.

July's getaway was "Garden Party."  I first noticed the gorgeous packaging and the special handwritten note. I can imagine this takes quite some time to put together, so it makes the whole experience feel even that more intimate.

I don't know how the items were able to stay so neatly packaged through shipping, but here's what they looked like when I pulled away the tissue paper (carefully, of course--it's so pretty that I'm going to save it for a future gift!).  My first thought was "oh, no cookies."  The Butter+Love cookies and This Charming Candy lollipops in last month's box were so yummy that I was hoping for another sweet treat, but not this time.

The Garden Party theme is really obvious when you take a look at the items.  While overall I'm not in loving them, I think Hammock Pack did an excellent job of putting together handcrafted wares that really fit the theme.

  • Simple Traditions Lilac Whipped Soap - I love the scent of lilac; here in Rochester we have a Lilac Festival every May and I just love the way they smell!  This soap smells very true-to-life and the texture reminds me of a body butter, so it's wonderfully luxurious.  When I saw that the company is from "Upstate New York" I was hoping they were Rochesterians, but they're located in Chatham (neither of which I consider to be "upstate," by the way; if we're being technical here, upstate is Plattsburgh, Rochester is Western, and Chatham is closer to downstate.  End rant!)
  • Seek First Rosette Necklace - While I can appreciate the care it took to craft this necklace, it is entirely not my style.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, if none of my friends or family members want it I might use it for a giveaway prize later.
  • Indie and Chic Mary Rose Bobby Pin - This is also a cute item, but not my style.  It's pretty basic, a bobby pin with a little rose on top.
  • Tea and Sensibility Chamomile & Lavender Tea - This is the only edible item in the box, and it's really interesting to me.  I've had loose teas before, but never ones that looked like this.  It smells lovely and I can't wait to try it!
  • Angelina Paloma Origami Lotus Lantern - This lantern is just so beautiful!  It's made entirely from paper from around the world and must have taken hours to complete.  There's a battery powered tealight lamp inside that flickers.
Tea and Sensibility Chamomile & Lavender tea

I actually ended up cancelling my Hammock Pack after this subscription, but not because I disliked the service.  I am limiting my monthly subscriptions, and while this one seems incredibly promising, I think it's for people who are more into crafty things than I am.

Bottom Line: If you like unique, artisan items then Hammock Pack would be a great subscription service for you.  I love their themes so far and I think they do a great job of finding items to truly take you on a doorstop getaway!

*Disclaimer: I purchased this Hammock Pack with my own money and was not asked to review it. I was not compensated for this review and the honest opinions are entirely my own.