Sunday, November 30, 2014

New Subscription Alert: RawSpiceBar + Coupon!

My boyfriend and I have been living in our own apartment for about six months now, and one thing we enjoy doing is trying out new recipes.  We're both fans of bold flavors (the more spice, the better!) and are always looking for new spices to try.

Enter RawSpiceBar -- a new subscription that's launching in January.  Their mission is to provide cooks with three unique, freshly-ground spice blends from around the world each month!  They especially like to highlight spices that are not yet prominent in the U.S.  I think this all sounds fantastic, since I love learning about new cultural foods.

Each spice box will contain an average of two ounces of spice blends that will yield a complete, three-dish meal for 10-12 people!  All spices are made up of ingredients of the highest quality, and RawSpiceBar opts for fair trade and organic spices whenever possible.  The box costs only $6, including shipping!  You can purchase a 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscription with the option to pause or cancel at any time.

RawSpiceBar will also include an "origins, instructions, and recipes" card with each spice blend that details the blend's history, cooking, and storage instructions along with suggested recipes.  There are also another 10-25 recipe ideas for each blend available at the RawSpiceBar website, so clearly they offer a ton of different ways to try the spices!  These options include recipes for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free diets, too.
Bottom Line: I'm really excited to try RawSpiceBar!  I think it's such a unique idea and is very fairly priced.  Spices are some of the most expensive things at the grocery store, so I love that they give you access to different blends from around the world for only $6 a month!

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by RawSpiceBar.

November PetBox Review

I have a cat named Sami and I've been wanting to try a pet subscription box for a while, but a lot of them are a little bit too pricey for me.  Not to say that they aren't worth the price, they're just more than I want to spend right now.  PetBox is a really affordable option, and when they offered a three month subscription for less than $9 I quickly signed up!

PetBox has a box for all types of budgets, and I decided to subscribe to the "Snack" box, which is the least-expensive option.  Here's a breakdown of all of the options:
  • Snack - $9.95 a month, includes one bag of snacks plus toys
  • Deluxe - $19.95 a month, includes 2-3 items
  • Premium - $39.95 a month, includes 4-6 items
  • Multiple Pet - $59.95 a month, includes 7-12 items
All boxes can be customized with dog and/or cat items, or you can opt to receive surprise collections.  I didn't realize boxes could be customized at first, so this is a "surprise" box.

I'm guessing that the Snack box is supposed to come with just one bag of treats based on the info at their website, but Sami's box had two small toys as well.  She's pictured above playing with a catnip toy, which she sniffed out right away and quickly became obsessed with!
  • Wellness Kittles in Salmon & Cranberries Recipe - These treats were perfect for Thanksgiving!  I don't think cats really care about cranberries or the holidays, but it was fun to receive them around this time anyway.  Sami is not picky when it comes to any food, so she really liked these treats.
  • Catnip Toy - As I said, this was her favorite thing in the box.  It's just a simple red-and-white striped cloth filled with catnip, but if you've ever had a cat you probably know that they often like the simplest toys.
  • Cat Dancer Interactive Cat Toy - This is another simple toy that was a hit with Sami.  It's made up of a few wooden pieces attached to a wire, and you can make it twist and jump around so that your cat can chase it.  My parents' cat loves to play with old guitar strings because of they way they wiggle around, and this reminded me a lot of that.

I was really happy with my first PetBox, especially because I only paid something like $8.98 for the entire three months.  I'm not entirely sure that the retail value of this would have added up to more than $9.95 (the full price of the box), but I think it would have been close.  The best part about boxes like these is getting surprise toys and treats for my cat, so I'm not so bothered if the items don't add up to a huge retail value.

Bottom Line: Although the sale I took advantage of is over, I still think PetBox is a good deal for any pet owner.  I like that they have options for dogs and cats (and that you can do both in one box if you have both types of pets), and that they have boxes available at a variety of price points.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

November Nicely Noted Review

It's the holiday season, and for a lot of people that means it's time to send out Christmas cards.  I know I usually only send cards around this time, but I think it's important to send handwritten communication all year round.  There's something special about getting a real card in the mail, and Nicely Noted makes that fun and easy to do!

For only $20 a month, Nicely Noted will send you three gorgeous letterpress cards for all different occasions.  Your package will also include three stamps.  I'm always impressed by how beautiful the cards are, and they're lightyears better than any generic ones you'll find at the store.

November's collection is aptly titled "Thanks," and it has cards from Thimblepress, Odd Daughter, and Hammerpress.  Letterpress cards are so pretty, and these designs are unique and colorful!

"Pic-A-Nic" is by Hammerpress from Kansas City, Missouri.  It's about 3x5" and blank on the inside, so it's great for those times when you need an all-purpose card.  I love the blue colors; the design overall reminds me of icicles and is apropos for the winter.

The "Many Thanks" card is by Odd Daughter from San Diego, California.  It's simple and cute, and also blank on the inside.  I like that most of the cards from Nicely Noted are blank on the inside, I prefer being able to write my own message without having to worry about a corny saying on the inside.

My favorite card of the bunch is "Owls Well" by Thimblepress from Jackson, Mississippi because I love owls.  The text is somewhat specific, but I think you could use this as a thank you or a congratulatory card (or even just to say hi).

Bottom Line: November's Nicely Noted package was another wonderfully curated collection.  I loved all three designs and can't wait to send them to my friends and family!

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Nicely Noted. Press samples received for review purposes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November Love With Food Review and Coupon

I reviewed Love With Food's September box and loved the variety of organic and natural foods it had inside, so when Zulily had three-month subscriptions on sale for only $20 I quickly snatched up a voucher.  I had to pay $6 shipping separately, but still--$26 for three boxes is an amazing deal!  Side note: I don't recommend purchasing through Zulily.  That was my first and last ever sale with them, but I can get into that in a different post if anyone is curious.

Love With Food sends organic and all-natural snacks and for every box sold they donate a meal to several food banks.  Some of the food banks that they work with include Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength.  I love that I not only get a box of tasty goodies for myself, but I know that my purchase helps provide food for others as well.

  • Boxes are normally $10 a month for the Tasting Box (8+ items) or $17 a month for the Deluxe Box (16-20 items).
  • There is also a Gluten-Free Box available for $24.50 a month (8-12 items)
  • Shipping is free to the U.S. and its territories.  They currently do not ship internationally

November's theme was "Baby It's Cold Outside," which is also one of my favorite holiday songs (the Dean Martin version only--everything else pales in comparison).  The insert you see in the photo above is the packet that lists information about all of the products.

There were eight items total in the box and I enjoyed most of them.  I gobbled up the chocolates first, then moved onto the salty snacks.  I was not familiar with most of the brands featured, so I was glad to learn about some new ones that I could add to my snack rotation.

  • Whole Spice All Purpose Seasoning - I've been in a bit of a cooking rut lately, so this came at the perfect time.  We cook chicken a lot but don't always have creative ideas for it, but we always appreciate a good rub.  This one is made with sea salt, sugar, chili, onion, turmeric, garlic, black pepper, oregano, and citric acid.  It sounds delicious and I can't wait to try it!
  • Jer's Chocolates Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cluster - I'm not the biggest fan of peanut butter and peanuts, so I gave this to my boyfriend to try.  I would have eaten it myself because I'm not totally averse to them, but I knew he would like it more.  He said it was absolutely delicious with a good crunch.
  • Guylian Chocolates Truffles - I love Guylian truffles.  They taste heavenly and also have really cute shapes, they're in the shape of a seahorse.  I got the Milk Truffle and the Dark Praline flavors.  I preferred the Milk Truffle, but I wouldn't turn down the other one in the future.
  • Every Day with Rachael Ray - This little booklet contains 30 of Rachael's signature 30 minute meals recipes.  I actually find her to be kind of annoying, but her recipes are usually on point and easy to make, so I'm glad to have this.
  • Chipz Happen Cinnful Sweet Heat Tortilla Chips - I love a good salty/sweet combo, and the fact that these were spicy as well made them even more wonderful.  The tortillas had good crunch and a yummy base flavor, and I liked the kick from the cayenne pepper.  I would have preferred a little less cinnamon on them, but overall they were quite tasty.
  • Dick & Jane Baking Company States and Capitals Educational Snacks - These cookies are really clever, they have pictures of the states along with the state name and capital city stamped on them.  The flavor is advertised as vanilla, but I thought they were a bit bland.  They weren't horrible, but I definitely would have liked to have more flavor.
  • Marlo's Midnight Soft Baked Biscotti - I received the Double Chocolate Espresso flavor (I'm not sure if everyone got the same one) and it was amazing!  I usually don't eat biscotti because I find them to be too hard and crumbly, but this one wasn't as stiff as the ones I've tried before.  It had big chunks of chocolate and a rich, bold flavor.  Perfection!
  • Grains of Health Laiki Red Rice Crackers - These were my favorite snack in the box!  I love chips, and these were great ones.  They kind of reminded me of Bugles, but they're obviously much better for you.  The pack had only 100 calories, so it was the perfect snack size.  They're made with only wholegrain red rice, sustainably-farmed palm oil, and sea salt.  I am definitely going to look for these at my local grocery store, because I want more!
  • Fruit Bliss Dried Mini Figs - I had a delicious goat cheese and fig appetizer at my cousin's wedding in October, so I approached these thinking that I liked figs.  Turns out, I do not like dried figs.  The flavor was good, but the texture didn't sit well with me.  I couldn't finish the pack, but it wasn't because they were bad--they just weren't for me.
  • Le Tote $25 Gift Card - I won't be using this, but I still think it was a nice addition to the box for someone who may have had a better experience with Le Tote.  You can read about mine here.
Love With Food has a few coupons and Black Friday deals going on:
  • Get 20% off any subscription + $15 to spend at from November 26th-30th
  • Use coupon code HOLIDAY14 for $10 off any subscription, expires November 30th
Bottom Line: Love With Food is an excellent food box and would make a great gift for the snacker in your life (or for yourself)!  I was happy with the items in this month's box and, as always, love that they also donate to charity with each box sold.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsor post.  Post contains referral links.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November Classic Conscious Box Review and Giveaway

I had been a Conscious Box subscriber for about a year back in 2012, but I stopped my subscription because I wanted to try other boxes and couldn't afford to stay subscribed to all of the ones I wanted to receive.  Conscious Box had always been one of my favorites, though, because of their commitment to connecting sustainable brands with like-minded consumers and aiding subscribers in finding a way to healthier living.  They've made a lot of changes since I was subscriber (all of them great!), so I was more than happy to have the chance to share their November box with you!

The first thing I noticed was that the box design is different (see the original design here).  I like that it's clean and simple, but I did enjoy the different postcards they used to send with the old box.

The contents of the box were wrapped in tissue paper adorned with the Conscious Box logo, with a card on top with a quick rundown of what the box is all about.  Towards the tail-end of my subscription a few years ago, I recall that they stopped sending full informational cards that listed all of the products, and instead emailed the information to their subscribers.  I'm assuming they're still doing that, since there was no product card in the box.

Conscious Box has a few different options, and this is a review of the Classic Plus Box.  The three box options are Classic, Gluten-Free, and Vegan, and the size options are Plus and Taster.  Each option boasts hand-selected food, bath, beauty, and home products, but obviously the gluten-free and vegan options have products appropriate to those labels.
  • The Plus option costs $19.95 a month and contains 8-12 products
  • The Taster costs $9.95 a month and contains 5-8 products
  • Shipping is free for both boxes.  Currently Conscious Box only ships to the U.S. (including HI and AK), overseas APO addresses, and US territories.
  • Me & The Girls Lip Moisturizer Lipstick Base and Topper ($7, full-sized) - I love lip balms, especially organic ones.  This one has a vegan formula that softens and protects dry, cracked lips and stays on longer than beeswax formulas.
  • Primal Pit Paste in Lavender (~$1.12 for .25 oz) - I reviewed two of Primal Pit Paste's products back in August so I'm quite familiar with this.  A lot of people are wary of natural deodorants (I often hear people saying that they don't "work"), but I think this one is perfect.  It has minimal ingredients and smells really nice.
  • The Argan Tree Serum for Hair and Skin (~$1.62 for .18 fl oz) - I'm guessing on the volume of this since it isn't listed on the container, but the full-sized 2 fl oz bottle retails for $18.  Argan oil is definitely the oil du jour, and for good reason.  This contains 100% cold-pressed organic argan oil and can be used to treat everything from treating acne to moisturizing hair.  Even better, $6 of every full-sized serum purchase is returned to the company's 60 woman cooperative in Morocco.
  • Xlear Saline Nasal Spray with Xylitol (~$2.33 for .25 fl oz) - Again, I'm guessing on the volume of this because it also is not labeled with the size.  Xlear is pronounced like "clear" and this is patented, non-addictive nasal spray that will help clear the sinuses and relieve irritation.  I think it's interesting that it contains xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener often found in gum and breath mints.
  • Life Soap Company Relax Lavender Bar Soap (~$3.75 for 2 oz) - I absolutely love bar soaps, especially ones that smell as lovely as this one!  Lavender is so calming, and natural soaps are not nearly as drying on your skin as your average store-bought ones.  This one is USDA organic and paraben-free.
  • Organic Coffee Co. Java Love ($1.99 for 2 oz) - I love coffee!  All of The Organic Coffee Co.'s coffees are 100% certified USDA organic, meaning they are grown without harmful pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers.  The Java Love flavor is made with Indonesian and Latin American blends
  • Amore di Mona Coffee Caramela (~$.35 for .25 oz, price approximated from here) - I really wanted to love this piece of chocolate because I love coffee and caramel, but it wasn't for me.  It has coffee grounds in it and I found their texture to be off-putting within the chocolate.  The flavor was still pretty good, though, but if you don't like a strong coffee flavor it might not be for you.
  • MRM Vegan Bone Maximizer (~$.67 for 2 capsules) - This sample contains two capsules of a vegan dietary supplement that assists in increasing bone strength, density, and health.  As an Asian woman I know I'm prone to osteoporosis, so I try to exercise and weight lift to increase by bone strength and density, but a supplement like this won't hurt, either!  Oh and I'm not great at swallowing pills, but these are about the size of your average pain reliever so they shouldn't be an issue.
  • Justin's Maple Almond Butter (~$.37 for .5 oz) - I've tried other Justin's products before and they were all delicious, so I'm excited to try this almond butter.  Maple is one of my favorite flavors so I'm sure it's tasty!  I'll probably use it on toast for a quick breakfast one of these mornings.
  • Bolt Tape (~$3.50 for one strip) - Bolt Tape is a kinesio tape that is to be used to treat or prevent athletic injuries.  My friend Sara ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon back in February and she raved about this stuff.  I'm running more myself, so I'm willing to give this a try; I'll most likely apply it to my calves.  I wish there were two strips, though, so that I could apply one to each calf.
Even though it's been a while since I received my last Conscious Box, I can see that they're still sending a wide variety of interesting products.  This one had a good mix of food, beauty, and lifestyle products that are appropriate for people of all ages.
Bottom Line: If you're looking for an easy and fun way to learn more about eco-conscious brands, I think Conscious Box is the perfect subscription for you!  I like that they offer boxes at different price points plus options for people living vegan and gluten-free lifestyles.

Want to WIN a 3-month subscription to Conscious Box?  Check out my Instagram post to enter!

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Conscious Box.  Press samples received for review purposes.

KISS InstaWave Review

I'm pretty lazy when it comes to doing my hair, so I rarely every curl it.  Seriously, maybe only for Christmas or another holiday!  When I learned about the KISS InstaWave curler I was excited to try it, because it promises to create beautiful, tangle-free curls with ease.

The curler is fully automatic and has two heat settings, low and high with a maximum temperature of 420°F.  Diamond ceramic and ceramic ionic technologies work together to enhance the durability of the wand while provided shiny, frizz-free results.  The device also has an automatic shut off after 90 minutes, just in case you forget to turn it off (which I've done a few times with other heat styling devices!).

I knew I would need ample time to try this out, so I waited until today (the weekend) to give it a shot.  I am not the most talented when it comes to hair styling, so I was looking forward to this helping me create curls with ease.  Unfortunately, I found that this wand was confusing and difficult to use.  I'm willing to blame it on user error, because, like I said, I'm not the most talented with these types of things.

The instructions say to place a one-inch section of hair parallel to the wand, then press the right or left buttons to make the Curl Dial turn.  The InstaWave is supposed to automatically catch the hair and twist it around the rod.  After a few frustrating tries, I was able to get the wand to work kind of well on the left side of my head, but I had absolutely no luck on the right.  I gave up after a little while when I realized my hair wasn't going to look any better than this:

Even though I couldn't quite get the hang of the InstaWave, I still think it would be a great tool for someone who was more adept at using these types of things than I am!  Once I got the hang of it on the left side of my head, it did catch the hair nicely and curl it around easily.  I just wish I could have achieved the same results on the right side of my head.

One thing I do want to note is that the device makes a quiet but high-pitched buzzing sound while it's plugged in.  It's nothing that will hurt your ears, but it is annoying.  KISS explained that the noise occurs due to the circuit needed to drive the motor of the Curl Dial and that it is completely harmless.

If you're interested in purchasing the KISS InstaWave, it can be found at Target, Ulta, and Amazon in the U.S.  In Canada it can be found at Wal-Mart stores and at

Bottom Line: I can't say that this worked incredibly well for me, but I don't blame the device, I blame myself.  I still think it's worth it to try for anyone who is interested!

*Disclaimer: This post is powered by BrandBacker.  Press samples received for review purposes.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Birchbox Limited Edition Home Sweet Homespun Review

I've treated myself to one of Birchbox's limited edition boxes for the past two years around the holidays because they're always packed with great stuff.  I've actually gotten the home edition both years, with the Snow Day box last year and the Home Sweet Homespun this year.

As with last year, I used my Birchbox points to pay for this box so it was basically free.  I also got a lotion that was not entirely covered by my points and used a coupon code, so overall the order cost around $15.  The box is still available and will cost you $40.  Since the order is over $35, be sure to pick up a Mystery Sample Pack, too (no coupon needed)!

I like this box better than last year's.  The Snow Day box was really nice, but I just felt that the items in this box made me happier.  Birchbox released Home Sweet Homespun in conjunction with the Vanity Affair box, which is more expensive at $98 and contains beauty and skincare.  I know a lot of people were really excited for that one, but I much preferred the home items in this one!

The box contained eight full-sized products, all of which are not pictured above.  I would have taken a photo of everything arranged within the box, but it was impossible to have all of the items visible while still looking like an appealing photo.  Anyway, I loved the variety of items.  Even though it's marketed as a home goods box, it has everything from beauty to food as well.

The Meri Meri Little Garden Treat Kit ($12.95) contains 18 tags in three different designs, which you can use to package any sweets you make as gifts.  I don't really understand why it's called the "Little Garden" kit, since that name makes me think it was something to do with plants, not cookies and the like.  This is the item I liked least, mostly just because I have no use for it.  I swapped it to someone who would, though!

The MakersKit Hanging Photo Clips Complete Project Kit ($24) is an easy DIY project that lets you display your favorite photos.  There aren't any instructions included in the box, but Birchbox filmed a tutorial video that you can watch here.  I can't wait to try this out, I think it's such a cute idea!

It's hard to pick a favorite item in the box, but I think if I had to choose it would be the Askinosie Chocolate Single Origin Sipping Chocolate (~$3.80 for 38 grams, $16.50 full-sized).  I thought that each item was full-sized, but I guess this one isn't.  It's still a very ample portion, though.  It's made up of real chocolate morsels that you can melt into warm milk.  It's sooooo delicious!

I also really like the Illume Mini Tin Soy Candle ($9).  I'm fairly certain that everyone received the same scent, Noble Currant, and it's one of the main reasons why I bought the box.  I'm a total candle-addict and I love holiday scents, so I loved that they included one.  It smells quite sweet, but also a bit icy for the holidays (if that makes sense).

The Cowshed Lippy Cow Natural Lip Balm (~$3.51 for .18 oz, $8 full-sized) is also travel-sized, which kind of bums me out.  The full-sized version is only .23 fl oz larger, and they couldn't spare us that?  Oh well.  I still like the lip balm a lot.

Aside from candles, I also love lotions.  The Soak Handmaid Luxury Hand Creme ($10) smells amazing.  The scent is "Fig," and I think everyone got the same one.  I don't really know what fig is supposed to smell like, but this smells slightly citrus-y to me.  The texture is nice and smooth and it absorbs quickly.

What cozy box would be complete without a pair of socks?  These Richer Poorer Socks ($12) are soft and wonderful and great for winter.  The pattern and colors are really pretty, too.  This is the second pair of Richer Poorer socks I've gotten from a subscription box and I'm really liking their products.

I know I said that the Askinosie chocolate was my favorite item, but I just changed my mind because I forgot about the Momofuku Milk Bar Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow Cookie Mix ($16)!  I'm no baker because I usually don't have the time or patience, but this kit had everything I needed (save for a stick of butter and an egg, but those are easy to acquire).  Milk Bar is apparently a "legendary" NYC bakeshop, and now I can see why.  These cookies are amazing!!!!  I can't even describe how freaking delicious they are.  You're just going to have to try them for yourself!  Oh, and I'm going to NYC in December, so I'm going to stop in to Milk Bar and buy about 500 more (since their shipping is almost as expensive as the mix itself).
  • Pick up a Homesweet Home Spun box here
  • Use coupon code TAKEOFF20 for 20% off (I think this should still work, let me know if it doesn't)
  • Pick up a Mystery Sample Pack with your order of $35 or more
  • Until 11/26, use coupon code BBTHANKS for 60 extra Birchbox points with orders of $60 or more (coupons can't be combined, but just in case you're shopping for other gifts, this is a great deal!).
Bottom Line: This box was full of win!  I think it would make a great gift, and it's pretty affordable considering.  The total retail value is $91.26, which is more than double the cost.  With coupons and any possible Birchbox points you may have, this is a great deal!

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  Post contains referral link.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

November Vegan Cuts Beauty Box Review

Last month I reviewed the Vegan Cuts Snack Box, which was full of delicious treats.  This month I have a review of the Vegan Cuts Beauty Box to share with you, and it's equally amazing!

The Vegan Cuts Beauty Box is a fun and easy way to try cruelty-free brands.  Each month they send 4-7 deluxe samples and full-sized products, ranging from luxurious skincare to colorful cosmetics.  Cruelty-free beauty is important to me, and there are so many amazing brands out that there are 100% not tested on animals (from their ingredients to their final products).  The box has a few different payment options:
  • $19.95 a month (recurring)
  • $59 for three months (one time charge)
  • $100 for six months (one time charge, one box free)
  • $199 for a year (one time charge, two boxes free)
Shipping to the U.S. is included in the charge, and it's $8 to Canada and $15 elsewhere internationally.

The November box contained seven items, all of which I am loving!  The first product I noticed was the LUSH soap, I love love love LUSH and this is one scent that I've been wanting to try.  I was really impressed by the variety of items and couldn't wait to dig in and try them all!

  • EVOLVh UltrainShine Moisture Shampoo ($8 for 2.5 fl oz) - This nutrient-infusing shampoo leaves hair feeling silky and smooth.  It's free of sulfates, parabens, and is entirely vegan.  I'm going to be flying to NYC in December, so I'm going to take this with me since it's perfectly travel-sized.
  • La Mav Antioxidant Rich Nightly Repair Nectar (~$6.18 for .125 fl oz) - I had to estimate the amount of liquid in this vial so the value is a huge approximation, but more importantly, this is an advanced age-fighting cellular renewal nectar that's appropriate for all skin types.  It protects against free radicals and daily pollutants to help skin stay fresh and youthful.
  • Mullein & Sparrow Mini All Natural Tinted Lip & Cheek Balm ($10 for .25 oz, full-sized) - This tinted balm gives lips and cheeks a naturally dewy finish.  After researching on the Mullein & Sparrow website I think it only comes in one shade, and it looks like a dark maroon in the tin.  When I swatched it on my hand I hardly got any pigmentation at all (it really just looked like a clear gloss), so I'm going to have to play around with this a bit more to see whether I like it or not.
  • The All Natural Face Diva Stix in Black Kohl ($4.88, full-sized) - This eyeshadow crayon only has four ingredients (organic jojoba oil, candelila wax, mica, and oxides) and can be used as an eyeliner for a dramatic look.  I've used a few of The All Natural Face's products before and they're always great.
  • LUSH Baked Alaska Soap ($7.95 for 3.5 oz, full-sized) - This was a bonus item and, as I said, I am so glad it was included in the box!  It's citrus-scented and made with lemon myrtle, toning grapefruit and ylang ylang for stress-relief.  It's also vegan, made from 100% palm-free base.  I know some people are not as into LUSH because they do use synthetic ingredients, but I continue to support them because they're such vocal advocates for cruelty-free products (and other great causes).
  • DEMES Butter Me Up in Cherry Cerise ($15 for 1 oz, full-sized) - This is an all-natural moisturizer for the body and lips.  It's made with shea butter, cocoa butter, candelila wax, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, vitamin E, and flavor/essential oils.  The packaging is biodegradable, too.  The cherry scent would not be my first choice, but I do like this product a lot.
  • Shorganics Rosemary Mint Bar Soap ($1.75 for 1 oz) - Shorganics is another brand I've tried before that I really enjoy.  This soap is crafted in small batches with organic ingredients and it's verified vegan by Vegan Action.  It's free from harsh chemicals or detergents, synthetic fragrances, and soy.
Bottom Line: The November Vegan Cuts Beauty Box was a home run for me!  I was impressed by the types of products included and I'm excited to use them all.  I highly recommend this subscription to anyone looking to find new cruelty-free brands!

*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Vegan Cuts.  Press samples received for review purposes.

Friday, November 21, 2014

November Birchbox Review - BuzzFeed Life Holiday Hacks Box

For the second month in a row I decided to choose the curated partnership Birchbox over the standard one.  I always peek at my samples ahead of time, even when I get a normal box, so I like that I know exactly what items will be in the curated boxes when they are available during sample selection.

OMG, what's up with this box (sorry, I'm cheesy)?!  This month, Birchbox partnered with BuzzFeed Life to create a "Happy Holiday Hacks" box.  Up until recently I wasn't too interested in BuzzFeed, but I've been checking the site out regularly when I'm bored now because they have some interesting things (and fun quizzes).  I thought it was interesting that Birchbox was teaming up with them for this box, and I liked what I saw as far as what would be inside.

Before I get to the samples, I wanted to point out that everyone's box contained a holiday gift guide.  Birchbox has sent one every year (that I've been a subscriber at least), and while they're fun to flip through, they usually aren't too useful to me as far as gift shopping goes.

This one had the best design of all the gift guides I've seen, but again, it really didn't showcase too many products.  I felt like it was more about looking pretty than actually being helpful; maybe that's just because I was already aware of all of the products they featured.  But like I said, it was fun to flip through.

On to the part you actually care about, the samples!  This box contained five total, and I mostly picked it because of the candle and the dry shampoo.  I'd also tried two of the samples before and liked them a lot.  The informational card in the box lists little "hacks" that you can use these products for, but BuzzFeed is notorious for just posting obvious things and calling them "life hacks."  To me, a life hack is something creative that I wouldn't normally think of, like an unusual use for an everyday product.  Telling me to use dry shampoo on my oily hair when I don't have time to take a shower is not a life hack.

I feel like I'm sounding a bit negative in this review, but I don't mean to be!  I actually really liked this box a lot.  Here's what was inside:

  • Dr. Jart+ Pore Minimalist Mask ($7.50 for one mask) - I've used this mask before and I like that it's targeted towards oily skin.  It's soaked in charcoal serum, which is great for controlling sebum production.  Unfortunately the effects are not too long-lasting with only one mask, but it's better than nothing!
  • amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo ($2.97 for .75 oz) - I love trying new dry shampoos because oily scalp is a daily struggle for me!  I know everyone says not to wash your hair every day, but I have to or else it's just gross.  This formula smells really nice and works better than any other that I've ever tried!  I will most likely buy a full-sized bottle of this.
  • Greenleaf Signature Candle in Silver Spruce ($3.58 for 2 oz) - This candle is the main reason why I chose this box!  I love, love, love candles, especially in fall and winter scents.  I could smell this as soon as I opened the box and it's lovely.  It smells exactly what you would expect it to smell like: a big ol' pine tree.
  • Mirenesse iCurl Secret Weapon 24hr Mascara ($11.60 for .14 oz) - I've heard good things about this mascara but I just don't ever really get excited about mascaras.  I also have about 500 of them, so I'm not in need for any more samples.  I put this up for swap.
  • Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm For Lips ($2.91 for .10 oz) - I also put this up for swap, but only because I currently have a full-sized tube of it.  The name is really weird, but this stuff is amazing!  It's a really hydrating and protecting moisturizer.  I use it mainly as a lip balm, but you can use it wherever you have dry, chafed skin.
Bottom Line: While BuzzFeed's premise of "life hacks" may be a bit weak in my opinion, this Birchbox was not!  It had an approximate retail value of $28.56, which I think is pretty good for something that only cost me $10.80.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  Post contains referral links.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November Beauty Box 5 Review

November's Beauty Box 5 is themed "Gracefully Grounded."  This time of year is when everything starts to get even crazier than normal, what with gift shopping, travel, and everything else that comes with the holidays.  The five beauty products in this month's box help remind you to take time to pamper yourself, even if only for an extra 10 minutes a day.

If you're new to Beauty Box 5, each month they send five deluxe samples and full-sized products that are an assortment of beauty, skincare, and tools.  Boxes cost $12 a month, with free shipping to the U.S. and $3 to Canada.

  • Laura Ashley Body Butter (~$3.33 for 1.75 oz) - Laura Ashley's body butters are rich and nourishing, and this one is normally sold in a pack of six.  I received the scent "Cherry Blossom," and it's floral and feminine.
  • Hask Macadamia Revitalizing Shine Oil ($2.99 for .625 fl oz) - Beauty Box 5 released this as a spoiler for this month and I was excited to try it because Hask's products are great!  I've tried some of their other hair oils but not this one, but I'm sure it will leave me with soft and beautiful hair like their other oils.
  • L'Oreal Paris Nail Color ($5.99 for .39 fl oz) - Some other subscribers received a travel bottle in their box and I was bummed that I didn't get one (I need one for an upcoming trip) because I thought BB5 had forgotten to add one to my box.  Turns out that I received this nail polish instead of the bottle, it is in the shade "Because You're Worth It."
  • DenTek Floss Picks + Case ($2.49 for four) - I don't quite consider these to be a beauty item, but I suppose you could call them a beauty tool.  I'd say they're more of a personal care item, but regardless, I do like them!  I am one of those few people who doesn't mind flossing, and having the travel case is handy.
  • Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash (~$.54) - The body wash is "the latest beauty breakthrough from Dove."  It promises a rich lather and gentle cleansers, leaving softer, smoother skin.
The box also came with coupons for $1 off an DenTek Floss Pick + Case and 30% off for Sparkles & Pop, a jewelry site.

Bottom Line: Beauty Box 5 is a great box with a great value!  The overall retail value of this month's is $15.34, which may be only a few dollars more than the price of the box, but I think the real value comes in getting a surprise assortment of samples to play with!

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Beauty Box 5.  Press samples received for review purposes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

BareBox Review

BareBox is a new subscription that promises to send "beautiful, organic skincare" to your door each month.  I was intrigued because I love trying new organic products, and I was attracted to BareBox's simple ingredients.

The box is simple yet appealing.  I like that the design is no-frills because it reflects BareBox's products: natural, effective skincare.  Here's a quick breakdown of how it all works:
  • The box costs $16 a month plus shipping ($4.99 to US, $8 to Canada).
    • Use code Bare25 for 25% off of your first box.
  • You are billed on the 1st of every month.
  • You can cancel at any time by emailing them at
  • Each box contains the same items, which BareBox is explains is because: We believe in consistency and making it easy to add BareBox into your daily routine. For this reason, every month you get the four same amazing organic products!

The items were neatly packaged and wrapped in confetti tissue paper.  I thought everything looked so pretty and I especially loved the tissue paper!  I did notice one small typo on the lid of the box (where they give details about each product), and being a former English major it did irk me a little bit.  I won't stay too long on my soapbox, but when you're sending out a product I think it's important to make sure grammatical errors don't happen, because it can reflect poorly on the service (see photo below).

As stated previously, each box will contain the same four items (the typo is the "Organic Skin Clearng Tea"), all of which are described above.  You can access the full ingredients list at  I actually pulled the page up as I was typing this review and, yikes, I found more glaring typos.  But more importantly, I like that they are transparent about what goes into their line.  There is not one ingredient on that list that I don't like or see as any cause for concern!

So what exactly is inside?  There's an Organic Coffee Scrub, Organic Moisturizer, Organic Facial Cleanser, and Organic Skin Clearing Tea.  I actually think that each product would last me for much longer than a month, so I think it would be nice if there was an option to pause your subscription so you could order a new box when you needed one.  I could see myself getting overloaded with products each month since I wouldn't be able to use them up fast enough.

  • Organic Moisturizer - The moisturizer is the opaque white cream on the left.  My favorite thing about this is how it smells, it is so nice!  It's sweet and slightly floral.  The cream itself is light and absorbs into the skin quickly, and it's very smooth.
  • Organic Facial Cleanser - I like this cleanser a lot and found that it lathered well.  I used it just using my hands and again with my Clarisonic Mia, and I prefer using the face brush because the liquid is a bit runny, so scooping it out and putting it in my hands got a little messy.  I suppose if you had a small scoop or spoon it would be more effective than trying to scoop it out with your fingers (probably more sanitary, too).
  • Organic Skin Clearing Tea - The tea was inside of a blue and white striped bag and there were 12 sachets total, enough to drink it three times a week.  According to the ingredients page it's a rooibos tea, and I'm assuming that all of the ingredients listed after that are in the tea: organic cinnamon, organic ginger, organic cardamom, organic cloves and organic stevia.  As far as teas go it doesn't have a ton of flavor, but it smells wonderful and is nice and relaxing to drink.
  • Organic Coffee Scrub - Last, but not least, we have the coffee scrub!  This is definitely my favorite item in the box, mostly because I always love a good scrub.  I like it even better because it's made from coffee and it smells wonderful.  It's a bit on the harsher side because the coffee grains are a harder exfoliant, but it's perfect for once-a-week use.
Bottom Line: I'm very impressed by BareBox!  It might be a turnoff for some people that the items are the same every month, but if you're looking for a great line of products that is really affordable, I highly recommend giving this box a try.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.