Sunday, January 31, 2021

January 2021 Book of the Month Review and Coupon

I got two books in my January Book of the Month box, one was a free add-on because I reached BFF status. 

*Disclaimer: This box was purchased by See, Shop, Love! Post contains referral links.

Book of the Month costs $14.99 for a new hardcover title. You can select from one of five selections, and if you don't see a title you like you can skip the month and carry over your book credit to the next month. You can also add on as many titles as you want for $9.99 per book.

If you achieve BFF status you'll get to choose one of the Book of the Year finalists and add it to your January box for free. To get BFF status you have to purchase 12 boxes (doesn't have to be consecutively). You'll also receive a tote bag with your 12th box.

I chose The Survivors by Jane Harper as my January title and added The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, which was the Book of the Year winner for 2020.

Here's the synopsis for The Survivors:

Kieran Elliott's life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran's parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away...

There were several great titles to choose from for my Book of the Year Finalist add on, but I settled on The Vanishing Half because it seemed like the most fitting for the times:

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.

I'm a little behind on my reading and have quite a few titles on my backlog to get through, all from Book of the Month! That's not a problem, though, since I have plenty of time to read during the pandemic.

Bottom Line: Book of the Month is one of my favorite subscriptions and is definitely my favorite book subscription. You just can't beat a brand new title for only $14.99.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

January 2021 Ipsy Glam Bag Review

My second Ipsy Glam Bag was another good one. I got to choose one of my samples and the other four are well-suited to my likes and beauty needs.

*Disclaimer: This box was purchased by See, Shop, Love! Post contains referral links.

Ipsy has three subscription levels and this is a review for their lowest-priced service, the Glam Bag, which is $12 per month with free shipping. You'll get five deluxe samples valued at $50+ in a reusable zippered pouch.

The January theme was "Dream It." The pouch this month was translucent with "Dream It" written across it in a repeating pattern. I liked the material; this will be good once we can travel again because if anything breaks or spills it will stay contained.

Here's what I received this month:

  • Item Beauty Air Hug Concealer in Light Warm: This was an early release item that Ipsy subscribers got to try before the general public. I wanted to purchase a full sized version because I liked it so well, only to see that it hadn't been released yet. It's TikTok-er Addison Rae's beauty brand (I don't know who she is -- I'm old). Most importantly, the concealer has a smooth formula and a larger applicator, making it easier to apply over my blemishes.
  • Kosette Salt Scalp Scrub: I chose this item this month because I've been looking for a good salt scrub for my dandruff-prone scalp. I liked that this one has charcoal, gray sea salt, and tea tree oil (which is especially good for fighting dandruff). It has a small tip applicator, which is great for precision, but the hole was too small to dispense enough product so I cut a larger opening in it with scissors to get a better flow when using. I've only used it once so far, but it seems to work well with my scalp.

  • Belle En Argent 8-Free Nail Polish in Bore Someone Else: This is a gorgeous, deep burgundy shade with rich pigment. The brush is a wider tip than most nail polishes and made from vegan bristles.
  • Ciate London Glow to Illuminating Blush in Matchmaker: This blush is a really pretty light pink shimmer shade. The formula is advertised as lasting up to 12 hours. I wish there was a bit more color payoff. Even as I applied more layers to build up the color it still didn't provide as much pigment as I prefer.
  • Firma Beauty 201 Flat Oval Blending Brush: I forgot to take a picture of this because it wasn't inside of the actual bag when I unpacked everything, but was instead packaged inside of the bubble container on its own. It's a flat oval brush with synthetic bristles and is good for cream and powder products. I use it for blending eyeshadow and it works well.

Bottom Line: I enjoyed this Glam Bag and am looking forward to continuing my subscription. I think it's a great value at $12 and so far I've gotten great samples that fit my beauty needs.

  • Visit Ipsy to subscribe

Friday, January 29, 2021

Winter 2020 Walmart Beauty Box

The Walmart Beauty Box is one of the most affordable beauty boxes, if not the most. Their winter box had an assortment of different cold weather products.

*Disclaimer: This box was purchased by See, Shop, Love!

The Walmart Beauty Box is advertised as free, but technically it will cost you $5 for shipping. It ships quarterly, so you'll get a box each season (once every three months). The boxes contain samples from products you can purchase at Walmart stores and on their website.

I've been receiving this box for a while now and I've noticed an improvement in the types of products and customization. There were 14 possible products (all are listed on the info card that came with the box) and you'll receive six of them based on your beauty profile.

I'm fairly happy with the products I got this month. They do match my beauty preferences and needs and I'll put them all to good use.

  • Hard Candy Sheer Envy Setting Spray (full sized): I use setting sprays every time I put on makeup so this will definitely get used. Hard Candy is one of the better drugstore makeup brands in my opinion, so I think this will work pretty well.
  • Bio Oil Dry Skin Gel: I wish this sample was a little bigger because I love Bio Oil products. They work really well for dry skin, and mine is especially dry in the winter. This skin oil felt great on my hands and I'll definitely purchase a full sized version.
  • LOLA Organic Cotton Tampons: These are made with 100 percent organic cotton and have a plastic applicator. Not a glamorous sample, but a practical one.

  • Neutrogena Stubborn Acne AM Treatment: I'm going to use this the next time hormonal acne strikes. It has 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide to really dry up any pimples.
  • Earth to Skin Hand Sanitizer Gel: Remember when no one could find sanitizer anywhere? I now have so many bottles and samples of all sizes that I don't know what to do with them, but there could be worse things. This one has coconut water and aloe to soothe skin.
  • Vital Proteins Beauty Collagen: This is the Strawberry Lemon flavor. I was skeptical about whether ingested collagen would actually work, but I did some research and found that, over the course of time, it actually can provide visible benefits to skin and your overall body.

Bottom Line: For only $5, the Walmart Beauty Box is a fun box to receive each quarter. You won't receive the fanciest of samples, but I've gotten a lot of products that I will put to good use.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

January 2021 Gramma in a Box Review and Coupon

If you're a fan of fun crafts and sweet treats (who isn't?), Gramma in a Box is the perfect subscription for you! The January box started off the new year with an unexpected theme.

*Disclaimer: This box was sent to See, Shop, Love! in exchange for an honest review.

Gramma in a Box is a way to treat yourself and/or your loved ones to a box full of monthly treats. There are three cookie and candy crafts with all the ingredients you'll need inside. 

Here are the pricing options:

  • Monthly: $22.50 per month
  • Three Months: $67.50 every three months
  • Six Months: $135 every six months
  • 12 Months: $270 every 12 months

You can also purchase a single box for $25 with no subscription.

Shipping is included in all price options. Boxes ship on the first of the month and cancellations must be submitted by the 25th of the month to avoid the next month's charges.  

All of the ingredients are packaged in sealed plastic. The only things you'll need to supply are household items like a bowl and spoon. There are enough ingredients to make 15 to 20 individual treats.

I assumed that the January box would have a New Year's or winter theme, but instead it was Cupcakes and Donuts! All of the crafts were cute and creative.

The first craft was Donut Pops. I melted the white and orange chocolate discs in the microwave to make peach melted chocolate, spread out about a quarter sized amount on the paper, set the sticks, and then added the cereal bits around the outside. They dried and stuck together in about five minutes.

The second craft, Cupcake Clouds, was my favorite this month! They involved using the rest of the melted chocolate by stirring in mini marshmallows, scooping the mixture into the paper cups, and then adding confetti sprinkles. I love how cute these turned out!

The third craft is always cookies that fit the monthly theme, so this month's were Donut and Cupcake Cookies. The cookies are pre-baked and sealed in airtight plastic so they arrive fresh. It's best to complete your crafts within a week of receiving the box so that the ingredients are at their freshest.

The cookies were cupcake and donut shapes of two sizes, with multiple colored sprinkles and pink, white, and light blue icing. I loved the pastel colors and the different designs I could make on the donuts, especially.

Bottom Line: The crafts in Gramma in a Box are always fun and appropriate for all ages. I love sharing them with my family, and they're always happy to help me eat them up!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

December 2020 Spiffy Socks Review

Spiffy Socks sends high quality socks in fun designs made from bamboo fibers. They're comfy and stylish and a great way to treat yourself to a colorful gift each month!

*Disclaimer: This box was sent to See, Shop, Love! in exchange for an honest review.

Spiffy Socks are made from eco-conscious bamboo fibers and are odor fighting, temperature regulating (not too hot in the warmer months, keeps you warm in the cooler months), and are shock-resistant. The material is lightweight and twice as soft as cotton.

Spiffy Socks are available for men's (size 6-12) and women's (size 5-10) sizes. You can choose from monthly, three month, six month, and yearly plans:

  • Monthly: $11 per month
  • Three Months: $31 every three months
  • Six Months: $61 every six months
  • Yearly: $119 every 12 months

Shipping is free to the U.S. and extra to other countries; the exact shipping price will vary based on where you live.

You can also buy individual pairs as a one-time purchase for $20 per pair. 

The socks ship towards the end of the month, which is my reviews are always a month behind. My December Spiffy Socks were a striped pattern with navy and light blue stripes and yellow, red, and maroon accents. I love wearing these around the house, especially during COVID and winter when I'm not leaving the house too often. They keep my feet warm and the designs are fun!

Bottom Line: Spiffy Socks are great quality and a fun way to dress up your wardrobe. I really like the bamboo fibers and think they're comfortable, and they do a great job of keeping my feet warm.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

REALHER Definer Brow Pencil Review

I overplucked my eyebrows when I was a teen and they've never recovered, so any time I hear about a new brow product I'm always willing to give it a try. Recently I tried the REALHER Definer Brow Pencils, available in three shades.

*Disclaimer: This product was sent to See, Shop, Love! in exchange for an honest review.

The REALHER Definer Brow Pencil is a long-lasting, micro-tip shader that can be used for bold and subtle brow looks. The pencil has a creamy wax formula and it's great for drawing in individual hairs to fill in your brows.

The Definer Brow Pencil is available in three shades:

  • Eye Am Grateful - light brown
  • Eye Am Strong - medium brown
  • Eye Am Inspiring - dark brown

What I liked best about the pencils is the micro-tip. It's delicate though, so start off with soft pressure and build as you get more comfortable with using the pencil. I broke off some of the tip the first time I used it because I put too much pressure down too quickly. The texture is great for buildable color, so a light pressure to begin with is better since you can always add more if you need. The pencils also have a spoolie brush on the opposite side (like a mascara wand applicator) to smooth out brows and any harsh lines.

Here are the shades, from darkest to lightest. The Eye Am Grateful was too light for my brows, but it still works great as a defining/highlighting shade.

Here are my brows before and after using the REALHER pencils. I wasn't kidding -- my natural brows are horrible! I used the medium and dark brown shades to fill in my brows and give them a thicker shape. I think the colors look natural and the application glided on easily.

Bottom Line: I'm a fan of the REALHER Definer Brow Pencil! I appreciate that they have three different shades. They can be used alone or blended together for more depth, and I think the shades will be appropriate for almost any natural shade. The application is easy and provides natural looking definition.

Friday, January 15, 2021

December 2020 Book of the Month Review and Coupon

I got two books with my December Book of the Month box, neither of which were featured for the month.Since this was my birthday month I was able to choose a free extra title.

*Disclaimer: This box was purchased by See, Shop, Love! Post contains referral links.

Book of the Month costs $14.99 per month for a new hardcover title. You can choose from one of five books, and if none of them strike your fancy, you can skip the month or choose from a small option of previous titles.

The December box came with a sheet of cute Boxie stickers, the Book of the Month mascot.

I wasn't interested in any of the December selections so I chose The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. For my birthday bonus book I could choose anything from their past catalog, so I picked The Night Tiger by Yangze Choo.

Here's the synopsis for The Great Alone:

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger.

And for The Night Tiger:

Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother's Mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin plunges into a dark adventure: a mirror world of secrets and superstitions.

Eleven-year-old houseboy Ren is also on a mission, racing to fulfill his former master's dying wish: that Ren find the man's finger, lost years ago in an accident, and bury it with his body. Ren has 49 days to do so, or his master's soul will wander the earth forever. As the days tick relentlessly by, a series of unexplained deaths racks the district, along with whispers of men who turn into tigers. Ji Lin and Ren's increasingly dangerous paths crisscross through lush plantations, hospital storage rooms, and ghostly dreamscapes.

Yangsze Choo's The Night Tiger pulls us into a world of servants and masters, age-old superstition and modern idealism, sibling rivalry and forbidden love. But anchoring this dazzling, propulsive novel is the intimate coming-of-age of a child and a young woman, each searching for their place in a society that would rather they stay invisible.

Both titles sound like great stories that will transport me to two very different places and I'm excited to read them.

Bottom Line: Book of the Month is the best book subscription box to me. You can't beat $14.99 for a new, hardcover title, and they always have great titles to choose from.

Friday, January 8, 2021

December 2020 Ipsy Glam Bag Review

I think everyone knows about Ipsy by now. I used to subscribe years ago when they first launched and were still called MyGlam. I decided to subscribe again because they've become one of the best affordable beauty subscriptions, in my opinion.

*Disclaimer: This box was purchased by See, Shop, Love! Post contains referral links.

Ipsy costs $12 per month for their basic Glam Bag. They also have a Glam Bag Plus for $25 per month, and a Glam Bag X that replaces your bag once a quarter for $43 per bag.

The standard Glam Bag comes with five samples worth $50+ every month. Glam Bag Plus sends five full-sized products, and the Glam Bag X sends seven full-sized products and you get to choose three of them. Shipping is free to the U.S. and $2.95 to Canada.

I was drawn back to Ipsy because I liked the quality of brands and product types that they've been sending out. I think it's a good deal for only $12 and I was running low on my beauty sample supply (finally).

My December bag had a good representation of products that fit my needs very well. I also liked the design of the December bag itself, though I could do without a monthly bag. I don't know what to do with them -- they're nice enough that I feel guilty throwing them out, but I also don't need all these little pouches (I usually end up donating them).


Here's what was in my bag:

  • IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream: This moisturizer is clinically tested to give skin a healthier, more radiant appearance with Vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, ceramides, and more. It's a thicker cream that's great for winter but it still felt light on my skin and absorbed quickly.
  • Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum: I've tried this serum a few times before and it's fine, but nothing special to me. It probably works well, but the sample size is too small to really be able to tell how well it works with my skin. It has green grape extract and patented viniferine to help lighten hyperpigmentation and even skin tone.

  •  Violet Voss Single Eyeshadow in Nude Sparks: I love this eyeshadow shade. It's a gorgeous golden brown with shimmer flecks. I like wearing it on my lids as a single shade for extra dimension, but it's also great as a base for other colors.
  • Glam Up Moisturizing Avocado and Nourishing Acai Berry Sheet Mask Set: I love sheet masks so I'll take as many as Ipsy wants to send. The avocado mask is great for moisturizing and the acai berry works to tighten pores and smooth fine lines.
  • Beauty for Real Lip Cream + Color in Really Red: This is a gorgeous red lipstick. I prefer liquids and usually go for mattes, but this cream stayed put on my lips and looked very glam.

The December bag had a faux shearling design and was really cute! The bags are much better made than when I used to subscribe.

  • Visit Ipsy to subscribe

Monday, January 4, 2021

Winter 2020 FabFitFun Review and $10 Off Coupon

I've always liked FabFitFun but I've subscribed intermittently. I started up again with the Winter 2020 box and am pretty happy with my item selection.

*Disclaimer: This box was purchased by See, Shop, Love! Post contains referral links.

FabFitFun is a women's lifestyle box that ships quarterly. You can sign up for a seasonal or annual subscription and are able to choose specific items each box, depending on your subscription type (annual members get to choose more items than seasonal).

I signed up for a monthly membership for now, but may upgrade to annual if the next few boxes are good. Here are their pricing options:

  • Seasonal: $49.99 per quarter
  • Annual: $179.99 per year (four boxes) 

Annual members have access to the item selection period sooner than seasonal members and their boxes ship first. You'll also be able to choose items from five or so categories per month, as opposed to seasonal, who get to choose from around three.

I received eight items in my Winter box, plus a bonus item and an add-on that I paid extra for. The first item is the eparé Cutting Boards ($19.99). They're thin cutting boards that are 11" x 14" and dishwasher safe. I cook often and had two separate cutting boards (one for veggies, one for meats), but I like having more options now for poultry, beef, and seafood.

  • Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Purifying Cleanser ($36): I have a lot of cleaners already, but Dr. Brandt is a great brand and I know I'll use this eventually. It has salicylic acid, which is a must-have ingredient for my oily skin, plus tea tree oil and white willow bark.
  • Kate Spade New York Workout Socks ($24): These are listed as for barre workouts but the textured bottoms are also great for yoga. I like the top opening, too, for keeping feet from getting overheated.
  • Paradox Lucky Stars Blemish Patches ($18): These were chosen for me by FFF, and they're a good fit. I've been using blemish patches recently and they work surprisingly well. This brand is new to me and I'm interested to see if they work as well as others I've tried. These are black stars though, so definitely for wearing overnight or when I'm staying home all day.
  • Mobile White Advanced Teeth Whitening Kit ($89.99): This was my hero item of the quarter. I've been wanting to whiten my teeth, so this option came around at the perfect time. The unit hooks up to your phone and emits a blue light along with a gel whitening solution. The box came with enough for nine days, and refills are $14.99. I did notice a difference in the whiteness of my teeth, but I'll definitely have to purchase refills to achieve the whiteness level that I want.
  • Daily Concepts Daily Facial Dry Brush ($20): This was picked for me by FFF. I've never used a dry brush before and I didn't really know what to do with it. It's called a dry brush for a reason and is not meant to get wet. It provides lymphatic massage to your skin and helps stimulate circulation and reduce puffiness. I haven't tried it yet because I keep forgetting to use it!
  • Huangjisoo Pure Perfect Cleansing Oil ($32): This was an add-on item. The way add-ons work is you'll have a few days to shop extra items from the FFF shop at discounted prices. You can add as many to your box as you'd like. I believe this cost me $11. I double cleanse, and this cleansing oil is a great and gentle first cleanse.
  • Lucky Brand Solid Brushed Scarf ($69.50): I chose this item but it wasn't my first choice. There were skincare items in the category that I wanted more but they were sold out by the time seasonal subscribers got to choose. It's a very nice and warm scarf, I just don't feel that it's worth $69.50. I could find something similar for $20 or less.
  • Phase Zero Makeup Making Moves Blusher ($28.50): This item was chosen by FFF. This blush is so beautiful! It's a nice peachy-pink and has the perfect amount of shimmer. I think this would be universally flattering for all skin tones.

The total retail value of my Winter 2020 FabFitFun box was $305.98, not including the Huangjisoo cleanser add-on. Although I know I could find less-expensive duplicates for some of these items, I still think the overall value I got for only $49.99 was worth it.