Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Thoughts + Link Love

I just finished watching the final season of White Collar (spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn't seen it yet and plans to).  I watched the entire sixth season in one sitting--that was the first time I've ever truly binge-watched something.  It was only six episodes, though, so I don't feel like I was being too ridiculous...anyway, let's just say I had a lazy Saturday.

Source: duckponds on Tumblr
Have you ever watched White Collar?  I actually like(d) quite a few of USA Network's original shows, mainly this one and Psych (plus Sirens and Graceland).  I was super sad when Psych ended last year after eight seasons, but I loved the way they ended it.  White Collar had a pretty good ending as well, although I wish Neal had taken Mozzie with him to Paris.  It seemed strange that he would leave him like that, thinking that he was gone forever.

Aside from watching a lot of TV, I also went to a ramen restaurant called Furoshiki for lunch today with my friend Linze.  We love ramen and we love this place, and it was fun to actually eat inside of the restaurant for once.  Every other time we've gone was when the weather was nice and we always sat outside.  They have sandwiches and other dishes besides ramen, but there's nothing like a good, hot bowl of soup on a cold winter day!

Here are some links I've been loving this week:
I hope you're all enjoying your weekends!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Golden Tote Mystery Tote 2015 Review

I love Golden Tote, but I don't always have the funds to buy a tote each month.  When they announced that they were going to do Mystery Totes again this year, though, I knew I had to snatch one up!  They released them last year in January to help clear out stock from the past year, and they're a great deal because you get four items for only $60.

I think the most difficult part of purchasing a Golden Tote is the anticipation of seeing what's inside!  With normal totes I know they hand-select pieces for you based on your style profile, but since the Mystery Totes were randomly selected I thought that it might ship sooner than normal.  It still took a while to ship and get to me, but I'm sure they got tons of orders, so I understand the delay.

There are still some Mystery Totes available in sizes extra small and small.  I purchased a size medium tote and it cost me $67 total after shipping.  I was frantically looking for other peoples' reviews while I waited for my tote because I was curious to see what they were including.  I knew each tote was going to contain a Puella item, but other than that it really could have had anything.  I was getting a little nervous because I wasn't loving what I was seeing with some other reviews, but I ended up liking the pieces in my tote quite a bit.

First up is my favorite item from the tote, this Thread & Supply jacket!  I had really wanted to buy one, but I think they debuted in the $149 tote and at the time I wasn't willing to spend that much.  The fact that I got this jacket alone made the Mystery Tote totally worth it for me.  I can't find it on the Thread & Supply website anymore, but similar styles are priced at around $88 so clearly this was a great deal.  It's just a little bit snug in the shoulders, but it's not heavy enough to wear in the winter here anyway so I'll save it for wearing over lighter clothes in the spring and fall.

You can't tell from these photos, but the jacket also has a hood.  The material (obviously) looks a bit like leather but it's 100% polyester.  Normally I would not think of polyester as stylish, but this doesn't look tacky or outdated at all.

I actually didn't realize that there would be a Puella item in every tote until after I purchased one, but knowing that wouldn't have made me any more or less excited about it.  I know Puella is super popular with Golden Tote members, but I feel pretty neutral about them.  I have gotten some clothes from them in previous totes and they are very well made, they're just not exactly my style.  They're very flowy and loose, and I prefer a more fitted look.  This is a shirt dress and I'm not quite sure how to style it yet because it's so not form-fitting (any suggestions are greatly appreciated!).

This dress is by Skies are Blue and is something that I never would think to even try on if I saw it in stores, but that's what I like about Golden Tote--they send me clothes that I wouldn't usually consider, but end up really liking most of the time.  The pattern is really loud, but I would wear a solid black jacket or cardigan over this to balance it out.  I like wearing dresses to work because they're easy and usually much more comfortable than pants.

I also didn't know that Golden Tote had their own brand, but apparently they do: Cut + Sew by Golden Tote.  I like this top a lot, I think the pattern is cute and I like the bright colors.  It's a crop top which I definitely do not do without a tank top or something else underneath, but it is definitely something I will wear.

Bottom Line: I'm so happy that I purchased a Mystery Tote!  The Thread & Supply jacket is by far my favorite item, but I also like the Cut + Sew top a lot.  The two dresses are not exactly my style, but they will be worn for sure.  I feel like this was a very good deal for $67, it basically means I got each item for only $16.75!

Did you purchase a Mystery Tote?  What did you think of it?

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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January Scentbird Review - Eau des Merveilles

I received a perfume from Scentbird for review last month and I loved their service so much that I subscribed (you can read my first review here).  They have so many perfumes to choose from that it can feel a little overwhelming, but I knew I wanted to try a warm and spicy scent for winter.

Scentbird is a perfume subscription that sends a 30-day supply of the perfume of your choice to your door.  If you're having a hard time choose from their 350+ options, you can pick their Scent of the Month.  They included an info card with my order that detailed February's choice, Aqua Allegoria Flora Rosa by Guerlain.  Scentbird also recommends perfumes to you based on the profile you fill out when you first sign up.

I think Scentbird is very affordable, especially since they send authentic designer perfumes.  Here are the pricing options:
  • $14.95 per month for a month-to-month subscription
  • $43.50 for three months ($14.50 per shipment)
  • $84.00 for six months ($14.00 per shipment)
  • $164.00 for twelve months ($13.50 per shipment)

Your first order will come with the Scentbird reusable purse spray atomizer and felt pouch.  All you have to do to change your perfumes is twist the actual vial in and out of the holder.  Each vial contains 8 mL of perfume, or enough for 30 days of daily use.

I chose Eau des Merveilles by Hermès, which is described as "fresh, mysterious, and sexy" on the Scentbird website.  I picked it because I love warm scents that are more on the masculine side, and I was intrigued by the scent notes: orange, amber, fir, pepper, and Virginia cedar.  I absolutely love how this smells!  I'm not very good at describing perfumes, but this one is the perfect mix of masculine and feminine.  I can definitely pick up on the pepper and amber, and the orange notes add a bit of sweetness.  My only complaint is that it isn't very long-lasting; I can't really smell it any more after a few hours.

Bottom Line: I'm excited to keep getting perfumes from Scentbird, and I'm having a tough time ordering the perfumes I chose in my queue because I want them all now!

What do you think of Scentbird?  What perfumes would you choose?

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January Love With Food Review + First Box Free

This was the last month of my Love With Food three-month voucher from Zulily, but I am definitely staying subscribed because I love this box.  I love snacking, but I am trying to be more conscious of what I eat and only reach for healthier snacks when I'm actually hungry.  Love With Food allows me to do that but still have fun with it.

The Love With Food Taster's Box costs $10 a month and is full of organic and all-natural products. The Deluxe Box is $17 a month, and the Gluten-Free Box is $24.50 a month (this review is for the Taster's Box).  For each box sold, they donate a meal to a hungry child in the United States.  I love that this is such a tasty and affordable way to make a donation to someone in need!

  • Big Slice Energy Kettle Cooked Apples - The flavor of these is Raspberry Hibiscus and Green Coffee Extract.  I was the most excited to try these out of all of the other items in the box because I had no idea what "kettle cooked" apples would taste like.  They were amazing!  I loved them so much that I went out to Target the next day to buy more pouches.  A few reviewers weren't keen on the texture, but I liked it and the flavor was just fantastic.  They tasted more like raspberries than apples, and they had a semisoft texture.  They reminded me of how apple chunks feel in homemade applesauce.
  • Britt Dark Chocolate Cacao Nibs - I've had cacao nibs before and they were always too bitter for me, but I inhaled this bag of them!  They were covered in delicious dark chocolate, which made them more palatable for me.
  • Wai Lana Cassava Pops - I've tried other Wai Lana products in the past and they were always delicious, and these chips were no different.  They're made from the cassava plant and are popped, as opposed to being baked or fried.  They had a nice, airy texture and good crunch.
  • Somersault Snack Company Somersaults in Salty Pepper - I've had different flavors of these before, too, and I could just never get into them.  They don't taste bad by any means, but I just don't crave them the way I do other salty snacks.  They're made from sunflower seeds and have a slightly nutty flavor.
  • Alter Eco Velvet Truffle - I thought that this was going to be a dark chocolate truffle but it was actually milk chocolate and I loved it!  It's 99.97% organic with 81% fair-trade certified ingredients.  I want more.
  • Bobalu In-Shell Almonds - I'm not the biggest fan of nuts so I passed these along to my dad to snack on.  They're just standard almonds, no extra flavor, but if you like them I know that they're great to snack on because they help you feel full.
  • Stash Breakfast in Paris Black Tea - Stash makes wonderful teas, and this is a flavor I've never tried before.  It has notes of lavender and bergamot and sounds lovely.
  • Luna Chocolate Dipped Coconut Mini - I hate coconut!  I never want to see coconut in a snack box ever again, but I know that won't happen.  I also don't really care for Luna Bars as a whole, so I didn't try this.
The box also came with a $40 coupon for Hello Fresh, 25% off of Grandma Hoerner's (they make the Big Slice apples), and $15 to Urban Remedy.  I had a bad experience with Hello Fresh so I won't be using that coupon (I posted it for swap if anyone is interested).  I was going to use the Urban Remedy one, but you have to spend at least $50 and I'm not really interested enough in their juices to do that.  I will, however, definitely use the Grandma Hoerner's one!
  • You can get your first Love With Food box free if you click here to use my referral link!
Bottom Line: This month's box had a total of eight snacks, and I found some new ones that I really loved!  The Big Slice apples were definitely my favorite, but the Velvet Truffle wasn't far behind.  I liked the variety again this month, too.

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

Sunday, January 25, 2015

VOLOOM Hair Volumizing Iron Review

I've mentioned a few times on this blog that I'm notoriously inept with hairstyling tools or any kind of fancy hair tutorial.  When I learned about the VOLOOM Hair Volumizing Iron, I was intrigued, but was unsure of how well it would work for me because of my ineptitude.  I didn't need to worry, though, because this iron is amazingly easy to use and really effective!

VOLOOM is a new tool with special patented plates that provide volume that lasts for days.  The way it works is that you use it on the bottom layers of your hair and then leave an undone layer sit over the top of it.  It's a super quick process and it really is long-lasting.  Watch the video below to see how it works:

At first glance, the iron looks like a regular flat iron.  It has a long cord with an on/off switch on one side and a switch to lock the plates closed on the other.  You can also see in the photo above that there's a numerical temperature display.  The recommended temperatures are 320°-350°F for fine, damaged, or chemically treated hair; and 350°-370° for normal, medium, healthy hair; and 370°-390° for coarse or thick hair.  My hair falls into the last category, so I set it to 390°.

Here's what the plates look like.  They've been scientifically engineered to create volume and structure without leaving a clear imprint on the hair, so you don't have to worry about anyone seeing a giant checkerbox pattern on your head.  The beveled edges gently bend the hair, creating natural-looking "volume pockets."

Along with the iron itself, you'll receive three clips, a red rat tail brush to section off the hair with, and a pouch to store it all in.  I've been meaning to buy some of these clips forever but just never really made the effort to, so I was excited to get some with the iron.  They make sectioning off your hair so much easier.  In the photo above I've sectioned off the top layer of my hair and am preparing to use VOLOOM on the bottom layers.

And here's the before and after!  These photos were taken after one day of not washing my hair, with no product in it other than the shampoo and conditioner I had used the day before.  Clearly, my hair in the "before" photo is pretty flat.  I was so surprised at how much natural looking volume that VOLOOM gave me in the "after" photo!
Bottom Line: I think VOLOOM is wonderful and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an easy way to add volume to their hair.  It's especially helpful for those days when you don't wash your hair but want to pump it up a bit without worrying about residue from dry shampoos or other products.

What do you think of VOLOOM?  Would you purchase one?

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

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday Thoughts + Link Love

I was going through my list of "Subscriptions To Try" on Pinterest and I felt overwhelmed.  There are so many I want to try, but I only have so much available in my budget for boxes.  I tend to try out boxes for a month or two and then cancel so that I can try others and provide reviews.  Sometimes I do get contacted by brands who kindly send me a box to review, so that helps as well.  I guess my "thoughts" post today is really a question: which boxes would you like to see reviewed on here?  I'd be happy to take suggestions, since I am having a tough time deciding which ones to try next.

The Birchbox Home "Snow Day" box (review here)
Beauty boxes are always fun, but I like lifestyle ones, too.  I bought the January PopSugar Must Have box after seeing that they had a Keep Cup in it, and I think I'm going to stay subscribed for a few months because their boxes have gotten a lot better than in the past.  A good food/snack box is always great, too!  I can't make up my mind.  What are some of your favorite boxes?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Arganesse Hair Treatment Review

I use heat styling tools on my hair every day, a blow dryer and a flat iron usually, and that definitely takes its toll on my hair.  It gets really dry, sometimes frizzy, and definitely gets a lot of split ends.  In order to combat the negative effects of heat styling, I like to use hair oils to moisturize my strands.  Arganesse Hair Treatment is one that I've recently begun using and it's wonderful!

Arganesse is a daily leave-in treatment that controls frizz and adds shine.  Argan oil is high in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, all of which contribute to its hydrating capabilities.  Unfortunately, sometimes argan oil alone can leave hair feeling a bit greasy, and Arganesse was created to provide the same wonderful effects as argan oil, but without the greasiness.  It blends argan oil with the perfect combination of complimentary ingredients, and when applied to hair it gives a lovely gleam to dull, lifeless hair.

The ingredients are listed on the box in the following order: cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil, tocopherol acetate (Vitamin E acetate), fragrance.  I looked up the first two at the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database because I didn't recognize them, and they are both listed as low hazards.  If you're ingredient-conscious, I don't think there is much to worry about here.

Arganesse comes in a sturdy box and has a nice felt drawstring pouch you can store it in.  The instructions say to wash, condition, and towel dry hair, then pour a small amount (about the size of a quarter) into the palm and massage gently through your hair.

I take my showers at night and I let my hair air dry before bed.  I followed the instructions and then woke up the next morning with super soft hair!  I was very impressed by the results.  I also really enjoy Arganesse's scent, it's bright and citrus-y.  I'm not sure exactly what the fragrance is since it's only listed as "fragrance" in the ingredients, but it's nice and not what I expected since most argan oils are not sweetly scented.
  • Visit the Arganesse website to purchase a bottle ($96 for 3.4 fl oz)
  • You can request a free sample at the Arganesse website!
  • Connect with Arganesse on Facebook
Bottom Line: I like Arganesse and would recommend it.  It's definitely pricier, but since you only use a few drops at a time it will last you quite a while.

*Disclaimer: Press samples received for review purposes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

LUSH Yog Nog and Reindeer Rock Soaps

I really love LUSH.  I know that they get some flak from people because their products do contain some synthetic ingredients, but the reason I continue to support them is because they are huge advocates for ending animal cruelty (as well as for many other causes!).  My favorite time of year to shop there is during Christmas because they have so many amazing scents, including the Yog Nog and Reindeer Rock soaps.

I bought a bar each of these back in December with a few other products and I meant to post a review but I didn't get around to it.  I'm posting it now because LUSH had a buy one, get one free sale and I scooped up two more bars because they are amazing!

Yog Nog is still available online (in the U.S. store, at least) and is still on BOGO sale.  When I first smelled this soap I was transported to happy place full of sweetness and warm, fuzzy blankets and all of the most delicious candy you could ever want!  It's that good.  Here's the description from the website:
Made with soy yogurt and a dash of festive spice, Yog Nog has that unmistakable creamy texture with a fudgy, spicy blend of clove bud and ylang ylang essential oils to leave skin super soft. We even gave it a generous dusting of aromatic cocoa and nutmeg powder. Just try not to eat it. Because after all, it's still soap.
I love spiced scents, and I love warm scents, and this one is the perfect mixture of both.  I think that it smells like caramel.  It's made with soy yogurt and is vegan, and is dusted with cocoa and nutmeg powder.  As far as lathering goes, if you plan on using this in the shower I would use a bath pouf/loofah with it.  I keep it at my sink to use for handwashing and it doesn't lather up a ton, but there's enough there for it get the job done.

Reindeer Rock is also still available at the BOGO price.  I think this was a new scent this year, but I'm not 100% certain on that.  It was definitely new to me.  It's scented with lingonberries, which I've eaten before but never really noticed the scent of.  Here's the description:
This reindeer-embossed sudser is made with dried lingonberry infusion, and bergamot and cypress oils to uplift and calm your mind and body. As you lather up and prepare for the Christmas rush, breathe deep and let the aroma wash over you, while the embossed reindeer silently reminds you that you can skip the holiday rush and just order everything online.
It smells like sweet berries and is really pleasant.  I love the reindeer design too, it's really cute.  The silver on it is described as "raspberry sparkle dust" on the website.  This soap performs very similarly to Yog Nog; it lathers enough but if you're used to a very rich lather from your soaps, this might take a bit to get used to.  It's worth it for the scent alone, though!

Bottom Line: You can still treat yourself to these soaps at a great price, and I highly recommend that you do so!  I love the scent of both of them, and since they're only around for the holidays I was happy to stock up on more.

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Monday, January 19, 2015

January Something Snacks Review and Coupon Code

I signed up for Something Snacks last month because they ran a promo where you could get your first box for only $3.  It may have been a promo code from another blogger, I can't remember because I bought a lot of boxes last month (oops!).  I love snacks, so I figured Something Snacks wouldn't disappoint.

My assumption was correct: Something Snacks is a great subscription!  Boxes cost $10 per month, or $9/month for increments of six or twelve months.  There is a $3 shipping charge for all options and they currently only ship to the United States.  Each box will contain seven hand-selected snacks, all of which were tasted and approved by their team.

The snacks ship in a medium-ish white box with the Something Snacks logo.  I didn't receive a shipping notification, but per the tracking number on the label it was shipped via USPS First Class from California and only took two days to get to me here in New York.

I had actually forgotten that I'd purchased this box, so when it arrived it was a really nice surprise!  I have zero patience so I always peek ahead of time at spoilers for boxes, but it was nice for once to not know at all what would be inside of a box.  As you can see, it came with a pamphlet that listed all of the snacks inside.

  • Andy Capp's Cheddar Fries (~$.43 for .85 oz) - I actually made a happy face when I opened the box because I saw this snack first, and I love, love, love Cheddar Fries!  They're so addicting.  I could eat 10 bags of these, easily.  If you've never had them, they're baked and crunchy but still airy with a heavy cheddar flavor.
  • Orion Custard Soft Cupcake (~$.42 for .81 oz) - At first I was wary of this because the package says it's "cream and egg filled" and I was grossed out by the egg, but the info pamphlet lists the ingredients and it contains less than 2% of actual egg.  I think I'll still give this a try.
  • Simply 7 Lentil Chips in Sea Salt (~$.64 for .8 oz) - This is the featured snack of the month.  I love chips and am always looking for "healthier" alternatives (healthier in quotation marks because I know if I really want to be healthy I should just stop eating chips altogether), and lentil chips are a good option.  I haven't tried these yet, but based on other brands I've had, I'm sure they're delicious.
  • Pasencia Vanilla Drop Cookies (value unknown, .71 oz) - These little cookies kind of taste like Vanilla Wafers to me, but with a little less sugar.  They taste very familiar but I can't quite put my finger on what they remind me of exactly.  Either way, I like them, and I think they'd go good with coffee.
  • Pepero Almond & Chocolate (~$2.50 for 1.27 oz) - According to the box, this is Korea's number one brand.  Since I'm from Korea I like trying new Korean things, and I've never heard of these before.  They look like Pocky, and I'm assuming they're similar and are covered in chocolate and almonds.  If so, they must be delicious!
  • Churritos Mexicanos Corn Sticks ($.40 for 2.5 oz) - The packaging for these is really cute, I love the little lion on the front.  These are corn sticks that I think are cinnamon flavored (?) based on the "Churritos" name (churritos=churros?).  I haven't tried them yet, so I can't say for sure.
  • Lotte Choco Pie (value unknown) - According to the Amazon page I linked to, these are worth $.0093 individually, so I don't really know what they would retail for.  I love Choco Pies, and I inhaled this as soon as I opened the box (even before the Andy Capp's!).  It was delicious!  I did see in my Google search that they were recalled back in 2012 because they had almonds in them and didn't say so on the packaging, so if you have an almond/nut allergy you might want to steer clear of these.
Use coupon code TRY3NOW to get $3 off of your first month!  February's box will be Valentine's Day themed.  Sign up here.

Bottom Line: This box had a retail value of $4.39, not counting the two snacks that I couldn't find prices for.  If you're looking for a high-value snack box, this one probably would not be what you were looking for.  However, I like it a lot because they send a good mixture of familiar brands and international snacks that I otherwise wouldn't have access to.  Plus, value with snack boxes can be difficult because snacks are relatively cheap no matter where you go.  The fun here is that you're getting a surprise variety of something familiar and something new!

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

January PetBox Review - Snack Box

I bought a voucher for a three month subscription to PetBox back in November, and I thought that this month marked my final box, but my account page says that it expires in February.  Regardless, this was the best month yet!

PetBox has four different box sizes, and this review is for their Snack Box, which is the smallest and cheapest option ($7.95 a month).  You can view all the box options here.  You can choose to have PetBox send you an assortment of items, or you can pick them out yourself.  The Snack Box option comes with 200 points each month that you can use to pick out items from their shop, and they'll also include a surprise treat.  If you choose not use all 200 of the points, whatever is left over will roll over into your next month's shipment.

Another nice feature of PetBox is that you can choose dog and cat treats and toys for the same box.  Some of the other pet subscriptions I've seen are catered to either dogs or cats specifically, so if you have both types of pets you'll have to buy two separate boxes.  I only have a cat, so I picked only cat items.

  • Penny Candy Catnip Toys - Sami got one of these in her first box and went nuts over it, she still plays with it now, so I knew she would love to have two more.  As soon as I got the box I opened up the pink one and gave it to her and she started chewing on it and playing with it right away.
  • Petlinks Fun Beam Laser Pointer - I was excited to give this a try because I thought Sami would love chasing it, but so far she seems pretty uninterested.  She'll follow it with her eyes, but she hasn't yet gotten up to try to chase it or anything.
  • Spot Refillable Catnip Insect - Since she loved the Penny Candy toys so much, I figured this refillable catnip toy would be a great thing to have.  I haven't filled it up yet, but I'm going to as soon as I finish this review.  I have a feeling it'll be a big hit!
  • Cosmic Catnip - This was our surprise snack, which is the same thing we received last month.  I don't mind, though, because Sami loves catnip and this won't go to waste.
Bottom Line: I was able to get four toys for Sami with only 200 points because a few of these items were on clearance, but overall I've found that 200 points is more than enough to pick out one or two good toys and treats.  Plus, PetBox sends the surprise treat so that's one more item to look forward to.  I really like this subscription and would definitely renew my subscription!

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

January Birchbox Review

I think Birchbox may have had some shipping issues this month because my box shipped later than it usually does, and I saw a few other people around social media with the same issue.  It appeared that those who ordered one of the curated boxes got theirs on time, but those of us that went with the standard boxes didn't.  Mine always takes a frustratingly long time to get to me anyway, though, which is annoying because I live in New York.  I wish Birchbox wouldn't ship through Newgistics because they're terrible.

Anyway!  Birchbox announced that all of the boxes are going to have different designs this year, and that we should hang on to them because they have some kind of surprised planned for the end of the year if you collect them all.  I'm intrigued.  The January box was aptly themed "Let's Do This!," as you can see from the photo above.

To go along with the theme, they're also posting challenges each day that can help you lead a healthier lifestyle (check it out here).  You can enter to win prizes daily, too.

This box was just okay to me.  I didn't really love any of the samples, but it wasn't the worst box I ever received.  They can't all be winners!
  • Mirenesse Mattfinity Cream Lip Rouge (~$7.04 for 1.7 fl oz) - I got the shade "New York," which is a bright pink/red color.  I posted this for swap because I don't think I'll really use it.  I have a ton of lip products, and I don't want to open this one up and use it and end up not liking it.  I feel like I've gotten a lot of Mirenesse products from Birchbox and I'm not the biggest fan of the brand, so I'd be happy not to get any more from them for a while.
  • Essentiel Elements Wake Up Rosemary Body Lotion (~$3.56 for 1.5 fl oz) - This was the sample I picked during sample selection.  I wasn't thrilled about the choices this month, but I picked this anyway because I can always use another hand cream.  This "energizes with invigorating rosemary and mint."  The texture is a little thin but I like it.  The scent is also very minty, so those who don't like herbal scents probably wouldn't care for this.
  • Harvey Prince Hello Liquid Loofah (~$.94 for .51 fl oz) - I got the Ageless Liquid Loofah in my September box and I didn't care for it.  I really like Harvey Prince's scents, but I found that this didn't lather well at all.  I'm a fan of the Hello scent, though.
  • Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner ($4.40 for .024 oz) - I got the shade "Jaipur Gold" which looks like an olive/gold on the packaging.  I didn't open this to try it since I don't think I'll ever use it, so I posted it for swap.
  • Silhouette by Christian Siriano ($1.36 for 1 ml) - I really like this scent but I hate the sample packaging.  It's difficult to open; you have to twist it and then pull the cap off, and since there's so little liquid to begin with I'm always afraid it will spill when I pop the cap off.  The scent itself is sweet with musky notes.
Bottom Line: My box had an approximate retail value of $17.30, which I think is one of the lower values I've gotten recently.  I liked the Essentiel Elements sample the best, and the Silhouette perfume was good except for the packaging.  The rest of the items were posted for swap, so this box wasn't exactly a winner for me.

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

Saturday Thoughts + Link Love

I've seen a lot of posts lately about how to "beat the winter blues," or ones that praise the beauty of winter.  I get it, I used to be someone who actively bragged about loving snow and winter.  I still do, but now I also have a greater understanding for people who just absolutely hate it!

Above is a photo I took during either my junior or senior year at college, at SUNY Geneseo.  It's a state school about 35 miles south of Rochester, my hometown.  The snow definitely is pretty, and I do enjoy the crunch it makes under my boots...during the first few snows.

This winter has been fairly mild considering winters past, but we have had a few big snowstorms.  If you're not familiar with the area, Rochester is in western New York, about 20 miles south of Lake Ontario.  We get some pretty big snowstorms--not as much snow as Syracuse or sometimes Buffalo, but we know winter.  So far this year we've had one bad storm in December, and a few more rough days in January.

I'm used to it, and I know all the precautions to take while driving and all of that.  However(!!!), that doesn't mean I enjoy it!  No one does.  Driving in a winter storm is the absolute worst.  Walking in to work in -2°F weather with a windchill of -25°F is the worst (this happened this past week).  Having to leave my apartment 15 minutes earlier to scrape an inch of stubborn ice off of my car before going to work is the worst.  So please, don't tell me I should "beat the winter blues!"  I now fully support anyone and everyone who absolutely hates winter, especially because I know there are cities and towns even further north that get hit a lot worse than we do!

Anyway, on a more positive's some link love!
I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing weekend!

Friday, January 16, 2015

January Beauty Box 5 Review

January's Beauty Box 5 might be my favorite one yet.  They always send a good variety of products, but I especially liked the different things they included this month.

If you're not familiar with Beauty Box 5, they're a subscription service that sends five deluxe samples and, and sometimes full-sized products, to your door for only $12 a month.  Shipping is free to the U.S. and $3 to Canada.  They also have a shop section of their website that sells full-sized version of the products the feature.

What I like most about Beauty Box 5 is that they send all types of different products, from color cosmetics to hair care to beauty tools.  Here's what was inside this month's box:
  • Softsoap Nutri Serums Vitamin E Body Wash (~$.90 for 1.7 fl oz) - I've never used products from the Softsoap brand, but I know it's popular and easily accessible. This body wash treats your skin to rich moisture and a fresh scent.  The softening serum pearls contain Vitamin E to hydrate and Omegas three and six to help skin retain moisture.  I think it smells sweet and floral.
  • Hard Candy Kal-Eye-Descope Baked Eyeshadow ($6.00 for 4.5 g, full-sized) - The name of this duo is "Make Believe," and, as you can see, it's made up of a frosty light blue/silver shade and a deeper navy blue shade.  These aren't colors I would ever think to wear because I usually stick to browns and golds, but they're certainly interesting!
  • Sally Hansen Salon Effects French Mani ($9.99 for 16 strips, full-sized) - These are nail appliques for just the tips of your nails, which I think is a fun idea.  The design I got is called "Gold Cabaret."
  • Garnier Fructis Daily Care Fortifying Shampoo (~$.52 for 1.7 fl oz) - This is a shampoo for normal hair that strengthens with grapefruit antioxidants and proteins.
  • Ultraflesh The Gold Standard Mascara in Blackout (~$.62 for .08 fl oz) - I received this once, a long time ago, in another subscription box that has since ceased to exist.  I think the name of the brand is kind of creepy, but I do remember that this mascara worked quite well!
Bottom Line: This box has an approximate retail value of $18.04 and contained two full-sized products.  I liked the assortment of items here a lot, even though some of the brands are ones I don't use.  The curation for Beauty Box 5 is always great and they make it a point to include different types of products.

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mariesa and Gremlin’s Makeup Tips For Feeling Fabulous

I just have a quick post today; I wanted to share this cute video featuring Gremlin, the office assistant at Benson's Pet Center in Albany, NY.  His owner, Mariesa, shares some of her beauty tips while Gremlin adds commentary.  She shares some great tips and tricks, watch below to hear them all!

Mariesa and her husband, Chris, share their home with Gremlin and seven other rescue dogs.  You can learn more about them at their YouTube channel, Life in the Dog House, as well as watch Gremlin at work in this video.  And be sure to check out HooplaHa for more cute videos!

*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Subscription! Candy Adriatico Review

If I had unlimited financial means I would travel all the time.  The world is a big place and I want to see as much of it as I can, but unfortunately I do not have unlimited financial means!  Luckily there are subscription services like Candy Adriatico that deliver a taste of different countries right to my door.

Candy Adriatico is a new subscription that ships candy from Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia--the countries that make up the Adriatico Group.  The candies are full-sized and deluxe samples and are handpicked, and each box will contain a mixture of items from all three countries.  You can also choose to receive candies from only one country if you so choose.

Pricing is as follows, and international shipping is free with all subscriptions!
  • Sweet Starfish Plan: $23.15/€20,7 per month for a month-to-month subscription
  • Sweet Dolphin Jump Plan: $22.70/€20,3 per month for three months
  • Sweet Shark Bite Plan: $22.00/€19,7 per month for nine months *subscribe to this plan and receive a special gift envelope containing a specific candy or snack, or a cute or useful item!
All boxes contain up to 500 g (17.64 oz) of candy and an original postcard.

The box ships in a medium-sized white box with the Candy Adriatico logo on the side.  I received a shipment notice exactly a week ago and received the box on this past Monday, so it only took three days to get to me (I'm counting Saturday as well since it arrived via USPS).  I think that's really fast for free international shipping!

January's box had a "Winter Time" theme and contained four full-sized products and one deluxe sample.  I was really excited to see what would be inside because I've never really tried any candies from the Adriatic region.  I also thought the personalized message was a cute touch!

The original postcard this month was from Slovenia, which is where Candy Adriatico's founder, Nadi, is from.  She's from the city of Ljubljana.  The back of the postcard contains a handwritten message from Nadi, which is a detail that I really appreciate.

  • Gran Cereale Barretta Di Cereali (Italy) - This is a healthy cereal bar with almonds, cranberries, dried fruit, and cereals.  It's not exactly candy, but I think it will still taste great as a breakfast on-the-go.
  • Perugina Baci (Italy) - This is a full-sized Baci candy, but I considered it a "deluxe sample" because usually there is more than one in a package.  I've seen these before but have never eaten one; it's white chocolate with hazelnuts--sounds delicious!
  • Sumi FruFru Fruit Planet (Slovenia) - These cute little gummies are strawberry, lemon, and orange flavored.  I love gummy candies, and the packaging on this is really cute, too.
  • Gorenjka(Slovenia) - This is a thin chocolate bar with raisins and hazelnuts.  I would have never have thought to put raisins in chocolate, but I'm very curious to try it.
  • Mini Domaćica (Croatia) - I'm most excited to try these cookies!  They look amazing.  They're "tasty crumpets coated with chocolate."
It was difficult to find retail values for this box, so I didn't really research it too deeply.  Regardless, I think this box is definitely worth the $26 monthly price, especially since the shipping is free and very fast.
Bottom Line: I loved the first Candy Adriatico box!  I think this subscription is a lot of fun and I'm interested to see what candies they'll include in the coming months.

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Candy Adriatico. Press samples received for review purposes.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Happy Calm Focused Supplement Review

I think the holidays are a stressful time for most of us.  As wonderful as it is to be around family and friends, it can also cause a lot of anxiety!  HCF Happy, Calm & Focused is a supplement that can help you de-stress after the craziness of the season, and continue to stay that way throughout the rest of the year.

I was interested in trying HCF because I think the concept is interesting.  It's a natural supplement with no preservatives, sugars, coatings, sweeteners, enhancers, yeast, fragrance, dairy, gluten, nuts, or wheat.  The way it work is it feeds F&Q amino acids to the brain's neurotransmitters.  What are F&Q amino acids?  The "F" equals Dl-Phenylalanine, and the "Q" equals L-Glutamine.  They are powerful amino acids that can be found in whole-food proteins like fish, milk, cheese, and turkey.  They support the increase of "feel good" neurotransmitter levels in the brain, which in turn help keep you feeling happy, calm, and focused!

HCF also contains folic acid, calcium, and other beneficial vitamins and minerals (which you can see in the photo above).  The dosage instructions say for adults to take three capsules per day on an empty stomach, thirty minutes prior to eating breakfast.  When I was contacted by HCF to review their product, I let them know that I often have difficulty swallowing pills and asked if this would be an issue, but they advised that I could easily cut the pills and take them with applesauce, yogurt, or something similar.  They advise to take it on an empty stomach because the amino acids would compete for absorption if any other amino acids were present from other foods, but if you have to take it with a small amount of yogurt like I did it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

I've been taking HCF for the past week, and I have seen positive results.  I recently had a job change (same company, different position) that makes going to work a lot easier in the morning, so that has been a big positive in my life, but HCF certainly didn't have any adverse effects.  I am definitely going to keep taking this supplement because I like it.  It's easy to use and is backed by years of research (development began in 1997).  I also like it because, while I can't say it completely turned my world around, I have been feeling happier and calmer recently and if this can help continue that feeling, I'm all for it!
Bottom Line: There are a lot of supplements out there for your health, but not many that are specifically for your brain's health.  HCF Happy, Calm & Focused is a great way to feed your neurotransmitters and help yourself to feel great!

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by HCF Happy, Calm & Focused. Press samples received for review purposes.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Scentbird Review and 50% Off Coupon

I have been vocal in the past about my dislike of receiving perfume samples in my Birchbox.  Why, then, would I sign up for a subscription like Scentbird?  Keep reading and I will tell you the many reasons!

If you haven't already guessed, Scentbird is a perfume subscription.  Each month they'll send you an 8 mL vial of an authentic designer perfume.  The size is about the same as a rollerball you could buy at the store, and those usually run at least $20 a piece at a store like Sephora.  The Scentbird price options are as follows:
  • $14.95 per month for a month-to-month subscription
  • $43.50 for three months ($14.50 per shipment)
  • $84.00 for six months ($14.00 per shipment)
  • $164.00 for twelve months ($13.50 per shipment)
All of their options include free shipping, but for the three-, six-, and twelve-month options you'll have to pay the entire cost up-front.

Your first shipment will come with the Scentbird purse spray atomizer, along with your first perfume inside of it.  It comes with a felt dust bag, too.  The atomizer is easy to use: just twist it up and down to open and close, and twist the entire vial out to remove and replace with a new one.

I was impressed by the size of the purse spray; I was expecting it to be much smaller than it is.  One of the reasons why I like this subscription is because the perfumes are much bigger than what you'd generally get in a beauty box.  Like I said earlier, they're roughly the same size as a perfume rollerball and Scentbird says they will last for a month.  I personally think that this will last me much longer than that!  Below is a photo of my perfume next to a sample I got in a Birchbox.

I also like that you can choose which perfume you want each month.  There is a chance that you won't like your choice as much as you thought you would, but at least you have a lot of control over which perfumes you'll sample.

I chose Jungle Elephant by Kenzo and I love it!  I prefer scents that are sweet, spicy, and warm.  This contains a blend of mandarin, cardamom, caraway, clove, heliotrope, ylang-ylang, mango juice, licorice, vanilla, patchouli, and casmerin.  The top notes are very woody and masculine, but once the perfume blends with my skin's chemistry it's wonderfully spicy and warm.  This smells exactly the way I was hoping it would, and I'm glad I got to try it!

I loved this Scentbird perfume so much that I signed up for a subscription (Scentbird was kind enough to send me this shipment to review)!  I've gained a greater appreciation for perfumes recently, but they can be pricey so this provides me with a great opportunity to try a bunch for an affordable price.  Scentbird has so many amazing perfumes to choose from that it's honestly a bit overwhelming, but you can change up your queue any time you want.  They're constantly adding more to their selection, too.
  • Visit Scentbird to browse their full selection of perfumes and sign up!
  • Try using coupon code BIRD50 to get 50% off of your first perfume.  I am not sure if/when it expires, if it doesn't work for you please let me know.
  • Connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr
Bottom Line: I think Scentbird is fun and affordable, and I love that they have such a wide selection of high-quality perfumes.  I definitely recommend them!

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Scentbird. Press samples received for review purposes. Post contains referral links.