Saturday, September 29, 2012

Etsy Spotlight: buttoNvee

I've wanted to feature an Etsy artist on here for a while, and now I finally am!  My first-ever spotlight is on someone I've known since kindergarten, my friend Jen -- her house is the next street over from mine so it means a lot to me that I can feature not only a great crafter, but someone I've been friends with for a long time!

The detailing on my buttoNvee scarf
Jen's shop is called buttoNvee, and she creates "Button Creations For Your Personality!"  Her items are so cute; my favorite are the scarves.  I picked out a white one with a cluster of tan/off-white buttons.  I love the piece-y effect of the strings and I wear it as a double-looped infinity scarf.  She has a variety of scarves, headwraps, and bracelets as well.  Jen has always been a total sweetheart, too, and I know that she'd work with anyone who wanted a custom item until it was just right!

Here's what Jen has to say about buttoNvee, Etsy, and crafting in general:

What was your inspiration for buttoNvee?
My business buttoNvee came about from a long-lived passion for creating new things and seeing what worked out. I remember years ago going to craft stores and just grabbing things that caught my eye. I would go home and make various items and if they didn't look right I would try it a different way or something new, so in that entire process became buttoNvee.

I started with actually started with gloevs. I had an old pair of winter mittens that I just loved and wanted to restyle. After that I started creating designs for winter headwraps, the headbands that cover your ears. And I have always loved scarves so I asked myself, "why spend so much money and time searching for the perfect scarves when I can make them and design them the way I want!?" And still to this day I am trying new creations and expanding my network to hopefully attract new customers and life-long friends.

How long have you been creating things for buttoNvee?
I started my Etsy shop in January of this year, 2012. I am very pleased with the response I have gotten in the past 8 months! I have had a lot of people contact me to make an original piece for them and a lot of small parties to sell things in person. You may notice that my site may not have a ton of online sales, but most of my current customers are local and able to do business in person. I would love for more people to be a part of buttoNvee though! I think that button accessories are just so unique and fun for any age group so come check me out :)

Pretty purple buttoNvee bracelet
What has been your favorite creation so far?
My favorite creation so far is a bracelet I made in pure gut feeling. A customer came to me and asked for a black bracelet (to match her scarf she purchased from buttoNvee a week before) with a unique band. So I thought to make a braided band with 2 braids with lace and black at the top and silver buttons on either side of the lace vertically. It came out so wonderful, I'm hoping to put some on my site in a few weeks for Etsy-goers to check out!

Do you have any advice for people who are looking to start their own Etsy shop?
Just make sure that you are dedidcated to your product(s) or supplies that you will be selling and don't give up if you are not successful within the first month! It took my business a few months to get going and now so many people are loving my button creations.  Good luck to you and your hobbies, passions, and future Etsy shops!!!

Fleece headwrap -- perfect for the approaching colder months
Jen was kind enough to offer a 10% off coupon to her shop for my readers, the code is Dcoupon1.  This is good for your entire purchase and has no expiration date as of right now -- that might change if Jen gets a ton of orders with it.

  • Please check out buttoNvee and see what Jen has to offer; you won't be disappointed with any of her items.  Add her to your Etsy favorites if you like what you see!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September Conscious Box Review

My September Conscious Box took over a week to get to me this time, which made me really anxious because I love getting my monthly surprise in the mail.  There was a shipping delay, which is totally forgivable because I've never had a problem with their shipping otherwise.

The theme was "Embrace the Vitality," encouraging members to reinforce the balance in daily routines as summer transitions to fall.  This box wasn't my most favorite ever, but it still had some quality products that I enjoyed trying.

Now that Conscious Box also has a monthly vegan box, they wanted to cut down on the amount of paper they use, so they no longer include a card with all of the information about the items on it.  Although I completely understand the impetus behind this change, I don't really like it.  I would have preferred they stopped sending the postcards (this month's is of a mountain, in the center of the picture above) instead, because one of my favorite parts of opening my box was reading the details about each product.  They do still send an electronic list in the form of a survey, but it's just not the same to me.

Here's what I got, in clockwise order from top left in each photo (approximately):

  • Wild Rose Aromatherapy - This little packet contained two vials, a Wild Man Beard Conditioner and a Total Attunement Balancing Moisturizer.  I gave the beard conditioner to my boyfriend because, try as I might, I just can't grow a beard.  I love the moisturizer.  It has a really nice, earthy smell and it's a great dry oil.  I've been using it at night after cleansing for my face.
  • Primavera Hand & Nail Cream - I love this little sample!  It was the bonus item for the month, which can be earned in a few different ways (mostly through interactions on their Facebook page).  It's a .15 fl oz hand cream in the scent "ginger lime."  I love the texture of it and I wish I had more.
  • Barlean's Organic Oils Omega Swirl to Go - I am so nervous to try this because the words "fish oil" really freak me out.  It's supposedly a "great tasting" Mango Peach flavored Omega-3 Fish Oil supplement that you can drink on its own or with a smoothie, etc.  Okay, I just opened it and it doesn't smell bad at all.  Here we go...oh it's not bad!  It really just tastes like a mango smoothie, and mango is one of my favorite flavors.

  • Artisana Raw Cacao Bliss - I've had this before, I think I first sampled it through Eco-Emi.  It's a 100% organic raw chocolate coconut butter.  I'm still meaning to use my other coconut butters in my hair, but since this one is chocolate flavored I'm going to eat it!
  • Avalon Organics - These are a set of Bath & Shower Gel and Hand & Body Lotion (2 oz each), both in a Lavender scent.  They smell so nice and are Leaping Bunny certified as cruelty-free, and contain 70% organic content.  The lavender scent is so relaxing.

  • Jovial Einkhorn Pasta - I love me some pasta and I'm really interested to try this out.  It's 100% organic whole grain and is made from einkhorn, "the most ancient wheat."  I recently found an awesome diavolo sauce at the grocery store (Wegmans, anyone?) so I think I'm going to have to try it out on this.
  • Amazing Grass Amazing Meal - This is the Original Blend, and it's a powder that provides a "satisfying blend of protein and superfoods."  It's organic, gluten-free, raw, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free, and has no added sugar.  It's also USDA organic.  I'm not sure what it's going to taste like, but I'm willing to give it a try (mixed with water).
  • HealthForce SuperFoods Vitamineral Green - Here's the product that I would have liked to have had that info card the most for, because I couldn't figure out how I was supposed to use it.  It's another supplement, which I guess can just be mixed in with whatever you want to mix it with.

  • Joy's Teaspoon Loose Leaf Teas - I got a packet of Lemon Zest and Emperor's 7 Treasures, which I'm going to assume was the same as everyone else because that's usually how it goes.  I haven't tried these yet, but Emperor's 7 Treasures sounds especially interesting.
  • 100% Pure Body Creams - Two little packets, one with a Honey Almond scent and the other with Coconut.  I tried the Honey Almond and it was a little too much honey for me, but the texture was great and it really moisturized my dry skin.  The packet size is also perfect for one application on the arms and legs, which I really appreciate.  I hate when I have a packet of lotion and I only use half, because then the half-full packet just ends up sitting around because I forget about it.
  • Defend+ energy - This was another supplement that I actually did use.  It had a Berry flavor that I really enjoyed, and it seemed slightly effervescent (though I may have just imagined that part).
  • Warrior Meal (not pictured) - There was a $5 off coupon for a Warrior Meal in this box, which I'm pretty sure has been included in previous boxes too, but I didn't use the last one and I won't use this one because their products cost more than $5.  Sorry, I already spent $19 on the box, I would like to try your product if it's included in that price.  They couldn't include it, though, because it wouldn't stay fresh.

Bottom Line: Not my most favorite Conscious Box ever, but definitely not anything that would make me want to cancel.  I'm really looking forward to the next few months, because fall and winter are my favorite seasons and I'm excited to see what kind of goodies CB will include!

*Disclaimer: I purchased this box with my own money and was not asked to review it.  I was not compensated for this review in any way and the honest opinions here are entirely my own.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September Little Black Bag Review

After taking a break from Little Black Bag in August, I couldn't skip another month because I have an addiction.  I've accrued a few referral credits (thanks to everyone who bought a bag through my link!), so that's an added incentive to open a bag, too.  I really wanted to trade well this month, but I'm still getting the hang of it.  I now understand that you just have to keep trading up the first few days, and then you can use the high-value items you have to get the stuff you really want.  I ended up with five items this month, including the Benefit extra.

The item I opened with was this Melie Bianco Molly Braided Flap Over Bag.  I like to open with a purse that I really love, that way I know I'm at least getting something I want that I would pay $60 for.  I originally picked the black one to start with, but I traded between the black, taupe, and tan quite a bit before settling on the taupe.  I'm going to be that girl and say "It doesn't match the color on the website at all!"  But it really doesn't.  On the site it appears to be much lighter, and it's really a dark blue/gray.

See what I mean?  The leather also looks a lot softer in this picture.  This bag supposedly retails for $90, but I definitely would not pay $90 for it.  I knew it was faux leather, but it feels like really cheap leather.  If I saw this bag without knowing anything about it, I would guess that someone would spend $30 max for it at a store like Target.  I absolutely loved the last Melie bag I got, so I was a bit disappointed with this one.  I didn't dislike it enough to return it, though.  My only other complaint is that it's difficult to get things in and out of it when I'm out and about because the drawstring closure doesn't stretch well, even when it's loosened all of the way.  This bag is cute, but I still wouldn't truly recommend it to anyone.

The other three items I traded for were all jewelry, and the Benefit bonus I got was the "That Gal" primer.  They also included a Porefessional sample and "Spy Girl" comic book in everyone's order.

  • Carol Dauplaise Peacock Owl Ring - I love this ring!  I'm usually not the type to wear statement jewelry but when they introduced this to the gallery I really wanted it.  I love birds, and even though I know owls are a trend right now I've just always liked them.  It has a stretch band and it seems much nicer than it's $18 price tag.
  • Dream Mullick Silver Peacock Charm Necklace - I kept trying to trade up for this necklace but didn't have much luck in the beginning, but then on my second-to-last day of trading someone finally accepted my offer.  I was really happy because this necklace is totally my style.  It's retail value is $34.
  • All The Rage Wood Collar Necklace - I do not like this necklace in the least.  I accepted it while trying to trade up, but unfortunately I ran out of time and got stuck with it.  I think I might like it if it was more well-made (is that grammatically correct?), but it is really light and just feels cheap.  I highly doubt anyone would buy this for $28 if they saw it in stores.  It's also really scratched up, I have up-close photos further down in the post.  I am going to return this for an exchange credit.
  • That Gal Primer - I like primers and The Porefessional is one of my favorites, so I figured I'd give That Gal a try.  I don't really care for it; I think that The Porefessional is much better.  That Gal feels more like a lotion, whereas TP really gives that silky primer feel.  But including Benefit samples was definitely a fun extra and I hope that LBB includes cosmetics bonuses in the future!

Bottom Line: September's bag gets an 8/10.  I'm a little disappointed with the bag, but I will still definitely use it.  The Wood Collar necklace is a bust, but I knew I was going to return it before I even got it.  I love the other two jewelry items I got, so overall I'm happy (and can't wait to open my next bag!).

Check out more detailed photos of my items after the "read more."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Deep Steep Dry Oil Body Spritzer Review

Skincare is one of my favorite things to spend my money on, and Deep Steep is one of my favorite cruelty-free brands (certified as such by PETA).  I picked up their Dry Oil Body Spritzer during a sale on Sneak Peeq and I thought that the drier months of fall and winter would be a great time to use it.

I had never used a product like this prior to purchasing it, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  The scent is "Honeydew Spearmint,"and I really like it.  I pick up on the honeydew notes the most, but there is just the slightest bit of spearmint in there to balance out the sweetness as well.  It's a pretty simple product to use, as you can see in the photo above you just spritz it onto your body for extra moisturization.  I've used it a few times after showering and I love the way it feels.  It's an oil, but it doesn't feel heavy or greasy at all.  I sprayed it on my arms and legs and then rubbed it in with my hands and it absorbed into my skin nice and quickly.

Aside from being cruelty-free, I also like this product because it's vegan (even though I'm not vegan myself, I do like to support companies with vegan products).  It's also free of parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, artificial fragrances, chemical preservatives, and mineral oils.  There are 10 ingredients total in this product, and a majority of them are fruit oils and extracts.

  • Visit the Deep Steep website and browse their full line of products
  • Connect with them on Facebook and Twitter

Bottom Line: This is a great product for fall and winter because the air is so much drier and I hate having dry, flaky skin.  A little bit goes a long way, so the 4 oz. bottle will last quite a while.  It retails for $13.95 and is available in five scents.

*Disclaimer: I purchased this product with my own money and was not asked to review it. I was not compensated for this review in any way and the honest opinions here are entirely my own.

Monday, September 10, 2012

NIVEA Review and $50 Visa Card Giveaway [CLOSED]

When I was contacted by NIVEA to review and give away some of their products, I was at first hesitant because I didn't think that they were a cruelty-free company.  I inquired about this to Samantha, the PR rep who contacted me, and she provided me with Beiersdorf's official statement (NIVEA's parent company):

Thank you for contacting Beiersdorf Inc. regarding our policy on animal testing. We appreciate your concern about the use of animals for testing.

We do not conduct animal testing with any of our skin care products. Beiersdorf has been at the forefront of seeking alternatives to animal testing. We have shifted our emphasis to in vitro test methods, scientific literature reviews and past history to establish the safety of our products.

We appreciate and share your concern on this issue. As a responsible corporation, Beiersdorf has been addressing this issue for years and will continue to do so, just as we are also committed to providing you with safe, high-quality products.

With that reassurance, I agreed to try out their products in honor of September being National Skin Care Awareness month.

I am a big skincare junkie and I always apply lotion after showering and throughout the day.  I hate the feeling of dry, flaky skin.  NIVEA sent me three products that are great for transitioning into the cooler and drier fall months.  Right now I'm using mostly natural skincare, but I'm not against the idea of trying products that are not all-natural.  I liked this trio of products because a light exfoliation followed by moisturizer application is important to keep skin from looking dull.

The Kiss of Olive Oil & Lemon Soothing Lip Care balm was entirely new to me.  I generally stick to natural lip care, because non-natural lip balms usually contain alcohol in them, which seems counterproductive to me because it dries out lips.  Now, I don't know the ins and outs of the creation of this product and why alcohol may be an essential ingredient, but I did notice that Cetearyl Alcohol is listed as the 11th of 24 ingredients.  This lip balm also contains beeswax, which would be unsuitable for vegans.

I really liked the scent of this balm.  It's difficult for me to describe, but I suppose the best way I could put it is slightly sweet, slightly citrus-y, and slightly herbal.  The texture of the balm is very smooth, too, and the stick itself is an olive green.  It stayed on my lips for a good hour after application, which was impressive, and kept them feeling soft.

The Touch of Renewal Lathering Body Scrub is one of NIVEA's most popular products, and I can see why.  I love trying new body scrubs and this one is appropriate for daily use because the exfoliating beads are very small.  I think that to get the best exfoliation out of it, it should be applied directly to the skin from your hands.  For a lighter touch, use it on a washcloth or bath pouf (I opted for the second).  The 12 fl. oz size is generous, and a little goes a long way.  The scent is a combination of sweet and floral, which I found really pleasing.  This body scrub contains NIVEA's Hydra IQ technology to provide long-lasting moisture.

The final product I tried was the Smooth Sensation Daily Lotion.  When it dispensed it looked like a standard cream, but when I applied it the texture was much silkier than I anticipated.  This also has NIVEA's Hydra IQ technology.  It has a light scent that reminds me of baby powder, and is great to use straight out of the shower.  I really liked how this applied and absorbed quickly into my skin.

Bottom Line: If you're looking for affordable and effective skincare for fall, I think that these NIVEA products are a good option and I'm happy to learn that they are cruelty-free.  Pamper your skin during National Skin Care Awareness month and pick up some NIVEA products!

NIVEA was also kind enough to send me a $50 Visa gift card, which I used to buy some candles and a new dress for work.  Want to win $50 for yourself along with the three products I've tried above?  Then enter my giveaway after the "read more!"

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September Spicy Subscriptions Review

*Note: This is a mature post that is a review for a love and intimacy product subscription service.

I was approached by Spicy Subscriptions to review their September box and I agreed because intimacy products are not something I know much about.  I know that this type of post is not for everyone, but if you'd like to read my review please click on the "read more" link after the photo.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Badger Balm Hair Oils...and More!

Surprise!  I opened my door today and found a package from the W.S. Badger Company (more commonly known as Badger Balm) containing a sample of one of their new hair oils.  I received the Seabuckthorn Hair Oil and I'm really excited to try it out.  I'm a huge fan of Badger products, so I'm sure that this is going to be an excellent oil.

They recommend that I try this oil for a week, so I don't have a review yet, but I wanted to write up this post as an intro to the new oils.  In the meantime, I highly suggest getting your hands on any of Badger Balm's products!  These are the ones I've tried and recommend:

  • Cool Mint and Sweet Orange Cocoa Butter Lip Balms - These are the best lip balms I've ever used.  They both smelled fantastic and hydrate very well for a long time, and they also feel really smooth on my lips.
  • Badger Balm - The original balm is fantastic for skin.  I use it on my dry elbows and ankles and it works wonders.
  • Foot Balm - I hate having cracked, calloused feet, but it's kind of unavoidable for me.  This balm has peppermint in it and I put it on my feet before bed.
  • Cuticle Care - This is the most recent product I've tried; I picked it up on a whim because I polish my nails way too often (which means lots of polish remover), and I have noticed a marked improvement on my cuticles.
  • Sore Muscle Rub - I bought this because I seem to always have a kink in my neck!  I also have lower back issues because I fractured my tailbone when I was younger.  I like this as a muscle soother because it doesn't have that strong, offensive smell that other store brands have.
  • Headache Soother - My boyfriend bought this for me because I get headaches at work sometimes (thanks, noisy printers and staring at a computer screen all day!).  It has a nice cooling sensation and I love putting it on my temples.
  • Stress Soother - This is the first balm I ever bought and it's my #1 favorite.  I love the scent (Tangerine & Rosemary) and I use it when I need some peace.
  • Cheerful Mind Balm - This is another great aromatherapy balm, which smells like Sweet Orange & Spearmint.
  • Sleep Balm - This stuff really works!  I was skeptical at first, but I rub a little underneath my nose before bed and it helps clear my mind so I can drift off to sleep.
  • Lemongrass & Ginger Soap - This soap is great for morning showers because it's got a peppy, citrus scent and it helps me wake up before work.

I think that's it...I hope I'm not leaving anything out!  As you can tell, I really am quite the Badger fan.  Not only are they great because of their high-quality products, but they're also USDA organic and Leaping Bunny certified!  Check out their website to browse their full line of products, and check back in a week or so to see my review on their Seabuckthorn Hair Oil.