Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Eco-Emi Review - November 2014

I know, I know - it's been forever since I've written a review. Crappy camera took away my motivation, but my cheap little Tracfone's camera brought it back!

Enough with the camera-love, on to the review. Eco-Emi used to be my most favorite subscription box. Don't get me wrong - I still love it - but I think it's no longer my favorite. It's been a bit hit-and-miss lately, however they kicked it up for November with a little bit of everything to make the month warm and cozy.

Here's what they sent:

African Black Soap by Coastal Scents: This is the only dog in the box. I've received it before from Eco-Emi - and just about every other subscription box I've ever had. I'm not big on soap, anyway - so a soap has to be really spectacular for me to use it. This one is just "meh" in my opinion.
Retail price: $12.95 for 16 oz.

Tea Light Candles by the Veda Company: For tea lights, these are quite generous in size. They are slightly taller than the average tea light. Lightly scented and from the Jewel collection, I received the Amethyst and Sapphire fragrances. I love candles, and these are reserved for my mom's remembrance candle holder.
Retail price: $15 for 30

Organic Trailbar in Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor by Skout: Food glorious food! I am so glad I received this flavor - chocolate and peanut butter go together like Kim and Kanye.
Update: Tastes like raisins - not like chocolate or peanut butter.
Retail price: $25.99 for 12 bars

Shea Body Butter by Muchie's Skin: My big gripe with body butters is that they are often really difficult to put on. They often are stiff and unyielding - this one, though, is thick without being stubborn. It glides on the skin, and absorbs quickly. Mine is Cucumber Melon - not really a fall scent, but it's nice nonetheless!
Retail price: $38 for 9 oz.

Sicilian Light Serum by Skin & Co Roma:  This is made in Italy, and that alone gave me a case of the happies! I love that I have never - or at least I don't ever remember - received a product from Eco-Emi that was made in China. This product is sure to give my old lady skin a case of the happies as well!
Retail price: $47 for 1 oz.

Veggie-Go's by Naked Edge Snacks: The company promises 1/2 serving of fruit AND 1/2 serving of veggies in every strip. However, I don't think this will be a hearty snack - it's super thin, kind of like a fruit roll-up. My box contained the Sweet Potato Pie flavor, and it's only 20 calories. Heck, I could eat 5 in one sitting and still have calories to spare!
Retail price: $27.79 for 20

Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa by Cisse Trading Co.: This is a snacky kind of box, but I don't mind. In fact, I'm tickled. I received the Dark Chocolate with Cinnamon Hot Cocoa flavor, and can't wait to throw down some milk and have me some cocoa before bedtime. It's what us old ladies like to do: drink warm milk and sleep it off.
Retail price: $26.90 for 10 packets

Lipstick in Skid Row by Medusa's Make-up: Score - I got a full sized product! Wish I had received Baroque or Lolita - those colors would be more complimentary to my skin color. Still, this will make a great Christmas gift for someone - it's lovely and edgy and I want more! Plus it's made in my favorite place: the good old U. S. of A!
Retail price: $12

Lash & Brow Enhancing Serum by Lashem: I've received these types of products before, and they're really not for me. While I love the idea of lash enhancers, I just never seem to actually use them. If you do, let me know about your experience in the comments.
Retail price: $70 - size not specified

Nitpicks: Eco-Emi hasn't gotten any better about proofreading their little information cards. They totally misspelled Medusa's Make-up - and while they were only missing an apostrophe and the hyphen, it's the company's name. This seems to be a continuing problem - and as someone who's aware of how much a company's brand means to them, I know this probably irritated Medusa's Make-up a bit.

They also forgot a few commas in the verbiage on the front. They really put a lot of work into making these informational cards attractive - too bad they don't put extra effort into proofreading them as well.

Lasting Impression: Food glorious food! But seriously folks, this box was a really nice mix of items. A cosmetic, some body care, a home item and delicious food. All that's missing is a DVD and a masseuse. 

So what am I thankful for this month? Well, for you dear reader, of course! Oh and my hot chocolate and nap time. Yeah, that's what it's all about.

Thank you, too, Eco-Emi, for bringing me a whole year of delights!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jolly VoxBox - December 2013

Earlier last year, Influenster asked me to fill out a survey about cosmetics. After filling out the survey, I was told that I qualified for the cosmetic box, and was then asked to give them my address. I completed this task within about 5 hours of receiving the email.

Imagine my disappointment when I was told "sorry, no can do." Apparently they didn't expect that everyone who took the survey and qualified would actually then want the box. WHAT? As a consolation prize, I was told that I would definitely get the Jolly VoxBox.

It came right before Christmas, which is why there is such a delay in reviewing it. I had company, and couldn't spend any time with the items - or on the computer for that matter. However, I'm spending time now reviewing the box - which, I might say, was an absolute delight to receive.

Rimmel London Show Off Lip Lacquer in Luna: Love this! It's a great color for me, and it's made in jolly old England. Seriously - I thought Rimmel of London was just a name, and the stuff was actually made in some sweat shop in China. I was delighted to discover that was not true! This is my new go-to lip shine. The good news is you don't have to go to England to buy it - it's as close to you as the nearest drugstore!
Retail price: $4.99 at Walgreens

Duck Tape® Brand DuckTape, Blue Surf Flower: I've actually seen this around, and wanted to try it - so this was a major score for me. It's a small roll, but more than enough to try and to see how I like it. The one I got is blue and white - with images of flowers on the tape. This is so much fun - I used a bit to cover up a hole on the bottom of my favorite pair of slippers. Bonus: it's made in the good old You-Ess of Ay.
Retail price:  $6.29 for 1.88"x 10 Yards

Puffs® To-Go: Admit it - you saw Puffs and thought "Blerg, how unexciting." Okay, so maybe it isn't the most exciting product in the world, but it is definitely one of the most useful! I put this baby in my purse, and it seemed to disappear within no time. Runny nose - Puffs was there to help. Cut my finger? Puffs was there to help. Get dirt on my shoe? Puffs was there to help. Man, is there anything Puffs can't do?
Retail price: .49 cents per 10 pack

NYC HD Color Trio in Long Beach Sands: I was really excited when I first saw this, then noticed it was made in China. Listen - just because a product is free, I will give my honest opinion - and honestly, I won't use this. Ever. The colors are pretty, but I don't trust anything made in China - especially if it's going to be on my skin. The manufacturing processes in China are suspect. I will be happy to give this to a friend to try - I know not all my friends feel the same way I do about products made in China.
Retail price: $2.99

Skinny Cow Divine Peanut Butter Filled Milk Chocolates: Chocolate and peanut butter are two of my favorite things. Together, they equal heaven. I love Skinny Cow products, but hadn't heard of these until Influenster sent them to me. Wow! I think these are my new favorite food.
Retail price: approximately $3.50 a box

All in all, this was a great little box of samples. While I heard of all but the Skinny Cow chocolates (and I'm still wondering how their deliciousness escaped me for so long), I hadn't tried any of the items in my box before. It was so much fun to try each and every product - and with the exception of the NYC eye trio, I will be purchasing more of all of these products in the future! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ipsy GlamBag - January 2014

I know. I know - I haven't posted a review in ages. Let me tell you why: it seemed like everything I was getting was crappy - and I was tired of whining about it here. I decided to take a break, and see if the new year would bring me a new attitude.

Did it?

Kind of.

For the most part, Ipsy is the only subscription service that doesn't continually let me down. Still, some of the more recent bags were a little less than exciting. Ipsy is generous with the sample sizes, however they sure do love products made in China, and you know how homey feels about that.

My January bag is kind of cute - I probably still won't use it, because those little tiny cosmetic bags are way too small for all the cosmetics it takes to make this girl sexy. Still, it was a joy to see the cute little bag in my package.

Without any more fan fare (or whining), here's what Ipsy gave me to start my year off glamorously:

Benefit the POREfessional: This is a super tiny sample, however it is a product I've wanted to try for ages now. I love Benefit products, and this one promises to "Quickly minimize the appearance of pores & fine lines for smoother-than-smooth skin!" Did it minimize the appearance of pores and fine lines quickly? Eh... not sure. But it did facilitate the application of my BB cream, and after I had both products on my face, I felt like I looked pretty good for an old lady. I would definitely purchase this product.
Retail price: $30 for 0.75 ounces

(MALIN+GOETZ) Mojito Lip Balm: Lip balm does not excite me. But guess what? This product is made in the good old U.S. of A. - my favorite place! I didn't like the application - basically the product glops out of the tube, and you must be quick on the draw to get it on your finger and put the top back on before the rest of it ends up on the floor. Or your foot. Or your cat. It doesn't smell like a mojito, so I'm not sure why it's called that. In fact, it seemed not to have a scent at all. However, this product is thick and will definitely combat the damage the dry Nevada winter nights wreaks on my old lady lips.
Retail price: $12 for 0.35 oz.

Balanced Guru Balm Me Up Organic Sweet Cocoa & Tangy Body Balm: Oh Ipsy, you made me happy with yet another product made in America, the Beautiful. Not only does this stuff smell great, it's also certified organic and cruelty free. In other words, you can't go wrong when you use this product - not at all. In fact, using this product might get you closer to sainthood.
Retail price: $45 for 4 ounces

(Yeah, I didn't say you wouldn't go broke buying this baby!)

A! Absolute! Makeup Cleansing Tissue: This product did not excite me, mainly because I've received several packages of cleansing tissues in the last few months. In fact, I believe I now have four brand new packages. I admit they come in handy, especially when I travel. Still, I am getting a little sick of this type of product. This one is made in Korea - at least it's not China, but I'm not convinced Korea is much better.
Retail Price: $6.99 for 60 tissues

yaby Liquid Foundation in Buff: The tube of foundation did not have any indication of where it is made, so I contacted yaby. To their credit, they responded within 3 days, and told me that the product is made in (drum roll please) China. To be fair to yaby, here's what they said: "This is a personal mission of our owner, who stationed all yaby production in China to help increase adult employment rate in efforts to reduce child labor and child prostitution." Um - what's wrong with increasing the adult employment rate in your own country, huh yaby?

While the sentiment behind that statement is pure marketing sweetness, it did not at all change my mind about using products made in China. There is WAY too much evidence that manufacturers in China do not use the ingredients listed on the products, and also that their manufacturing processes are suspect.
Retail price: $13.55 for 15.40 grams

All in all, I would consider this month's GlamBag a hit! The bag is super cute and 3 out of five products were made in the USA. Because of this, Ipsy remains my favorite of the subscription services I've tried.

Nitpicks: Only one this month, and that's the yaby cosmetic from China. It was my only cosmetic product this month, so I'm deeply disappointed it's from China. It's actually a nice sized sample, though it's probably full of toxins. 

Lasting Impression: The rest of the products are great. The (Malin+Goetz) lip balm is a FULL size - so that's the price of the GlamBag right there - and then some. The Balanced Guru Body Balm is expensive, but what a nice little luxury product to sample. It smells great, and when Tom Selleck and I get married, I'll make him buy me this every month.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Indie Gift Box - Singin' The Blues

I've been watching Indie Gift Box for some time now. For those of you not in the know, Indie Gift Box is probably one of the coolest monthly box concepts out there. From their website: Indie Gift Box curates unique, high-quality items from independent artists and small businesses every month and organizes them into themed boxes available for purchase and delivery to your door. You won't find cookie cutter cosmetics or home products here - instead, customers have the opportunity to be discover fun items not available at the corner box store.

As most of my readers know, I had to cut back on subscription/monthly boxes a while back, and Indie Gift Box, being one of the more pricey ones out there, is one I cannot purchase on a regular basis. However every once in a while they have leftover boxes. This month, they had some leftover items from previous boxes and put it together with the theme Singin' The Blues.

I jumped right on that offer! I had seen these products in reviews, and had to get them in my grubby little hands. Without further ado, here's what I received in my Singin' The Blues package:

Heart Still Beats the Same album on CD by Leslie Lowe: I'll admit it, it's not the type of music I normally listen to. It's described as "bluesy" - but that's not how I'd describe it - it's more like the Indigo Girls, only with one girl. I'm not sure I'm in love with it, but at the same time, I found the music to be pleasant and upbeat. I put it on while cleaning the house, and it served as the perfect background.
Retail price: $10

“What will you create today?” notebook by Make My Notebook: I have a weakness for blank books. I love them, and whenever I find one at a bargain price, I have to buy it. Have. To. I am so happy with this book - it's fun, bold, and encourages me to write down the projects I have in mind to create.
Retail price: $14

“create” necklace by Sebastian Designs: This item really lured me into purchasing this package - I'd seen the necklace on other bloggers' reviews, and fell in love with it. I kicked myself for not purchasing the box - and lo and behold, I got another chance! I love it - copper is my favorite metal, and this necklace is fun, cool, and a conversation starter.
Retail price: $19

Blueberry-scented candle by Candlelit Desserts: Blueberry is not my favorite scent in a candle. But... this one is really pretty, and goes well with my decor. I will definitely burn it - I'm a candle fiend in the winter. It was packaged really nicely, and the holder is sturdy glass.
Retail price: $4

Nitpicks: Wow - I have none - except that this wasn't delivered in a box, but a padded envelope. And that's really reaching for a nitpick!

Lasting impression: Beautifully packaged, fantastic theme, and inspiring products! The necklace is beautiful, and compliments my wardrobe. The notebook is definitely going to get used. I am so happy with this purchase - and with their customer service as well. Go get yourself an Indie Gift Box - you won't be sorry!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Birchbox - September 2013

It's time for me to review the subscription box I love to hate: Birchbox. I feel as though I must include a disclaimer here: This month I don't hate Birchbox, because I had a wonderful and trouble-free interaction with BB Customer Service about a week ago. The CC rep was friendly, helpful, and a joy to work with. This is probably one of the reasons I haven't cancelled yet this time around. I've said it before and I'll say it again: BB has the best CC Reps out there. They seem to go the extra mile - and that's a major accomplishment in this "I'd rather be texting" world of commerce we're in these days.
The other thing that pleases me about Birchbox - and I'm pretty sure I haven't said it before in a review - is that they treat customer orders the same as they do the Birchbox monthly subscription. "What does that mean?" you might be asking. It means that they take great care in wrapping up the product so that the customer feels as if they received a gift. A gift from themselves, sure... but a gift nonetheless. The last time I ordered from BB, my hair product was wrapped up so nicely I felt as if I had received a very special gift, instead of just a product order.
That said, my Heritage box (this month's theme) was a bit underwhelming - although there was at least one product in the mix that I loved. Without further ado, take a peek into my September Birchbox:

RUFFIAN Nail Lacquer in Fox Hunt: Man, Ruffian must have had some fun with that name. Not sure if the color is supposed to indicate the color of blood that's poured on the ground after a particularly grisely fox hunt... or reminiscent instead of the jacket color of those on a fox hunt. I must say here: I don't paint my nails. I used to - but they chip within the day and it's just something I don't want to waste my time on (painting and repainting my nails). I do enjoy the occasional pedicure, and this color will compliment my old lady feet. Bonus: Made in the USA!
Retail price: $10.00
Yes To™ Blueberries Cleansing Facial Towelettes: Just in time! I go to California at least once a month to visit my dad, and I've taken to bringing these types of towelettes with me. They work great - and I'm so excited to have my first "Yes to..." product in my grubby little hands. This is the product I am most excited about receiving. I can throw it in my suitcase for my next trip - my other packet (Josie Maran Bear Naked) just about ran out! Made in Germany.
Retail price: $7.99 at Birchbox; $5.99 at Yes To's website.
amika Blow Up Spray: Oh no - not another hair product! This one is a fairly decent size, compared to other amika products I've received (which have all been those most despised little foil packs). I am on the fence - do I give this away or do I try it? I really wanted the Sea Salt spray that was one of this month's offerings - but it might be fun to revisit the 80's and give myself some big hair. Made in the USA!
Retail price: $24.00
Racinne Ultimate Youth Power Eye Serum: BB really likes to give me old lady eye products! On the bright side, by the end of the year after using each one of these eye products I've received, I'm going to look like I'm 20 again. Watch out, MILFs – this cougar is about to roar!
Retail price: $32.00
Yes To™ Grapefruit CC Cream: Grrrrrrr.... two little foil packs. In this case, though, there seems to be a reason behind the madness that is the foil pack. There are two samples: light and light/medium. This way, I can determine which shade is really more "me." I haven't tried it yet, but I agree with the blogger masses on this type of product: I don't see the sense in using it, unless one's skin is already pretty much perfect. All the other CC creams I've tried haven't provided any type of coverage or correction. I am happy to try this, though, and will reveal the verdict in an upcoming blog.
Retail price: $15.99
Nitpicks: The ubiquitous foil pack! The box also seemed late to me - but on the other hand, that's not BB's fault. For some reason my box always gets stuck in Michigan for about three to four days. It's there... I can see it on the tracking... but they're not touching it! Maybe the postal workers in Michigan take a lot of beer and cheese breaks.
Lasting Impression: While this box is in no way, shape, or form a "Wow" box, I am truly happy to get to try the Yes To™ Blueberries Cleansing Facial Towelettes. In fact, just seeing them in the box gave me a case of the happies. I was also happy to see a decent nail polish shade in the box - I was afraid I was going to end up with purple or green or some other hideous color that isn't flattering to an old lady like me!

Additionally, I was heartened to see so many products made in the USA! Birchbox, you stole my heart with that added bonus! Thank you!

Ipsy - September 2013

I know, I know – I haven’t blogged in a while. What can I say? Quite frankly I was tired of complaining about receiving crap. My mom used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I took her advice, but then realized it was no fun, so here I am again – complaining about crap for your reading pleasure.
Thing is, Ipsy rarely disappoints – and even though there are two products in this month’s bag I will never use, I was pretty much pleased with what I got for my $10 investment. The theme was Classic Beauty, and I would say that the products in the bag live up to that theme. So without too much complaining, here’s my recap of September’s Ipsy bag and what it means to me, in the order of worst to best:
NYX Eye Shadow: I received the color purple, which I love. What I don’t love is that the product is made in China. What, says you? BLRB, you are outta your mind! It says right there on the label: Made in P.R.C. Well homies, have I got news for you – P.R.C. is China. Where in the world have you been? Obviously not in school. I digress… needless to say, this product will not be going on my face.
Retail price: $4.50
J.Cat Beauty Fantabulous Lipstick – The shade is Nude, and I love it. However, before I went to put it on, I checked the label. Uh oh – it’s made in China. Blerg. Another throw away product.
Retail price: $2.49
Elizabeth Mott "It's So Big" Volumizing Mascara: Yay – finally something not made in China (of course, I’m not convinced Korea is much better, but at least they haven’t killed any animals yet with their pet food – at least to my knowledge). I tried the product, and it's good, not great. If I'm going to spend big bucks on a masacara, I'd rather get per-f├ękt Beauty Lash Perfection Gel.
Retail price: $19.99

Jesse's Girl Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner: Before you even ask, it's made in Taiwan. Not sure if that's better than China, but I'm gonna pretend it is. I'm so excited - eyeliner is one of my all-time favorite products. Everyone makes passes at girls who wear glasses - at least when they have eyeliner on! Make those babies pop, girls!
Retail price: 6.99 
Cailyn Tinted Lip Balm: While I would have preferred a more subtle color, I can’t argue that Big Apple Red is indeed a classic color. Best of all, this little classic baby is made in the good old U.S. of A!
Retail price: $19

I should probably also mention that subscribers also received a sample card of Michelle Phan's new cosmetic line, em. For those of you not in the know, Michelle Phan is the founder of Ipsy. Her cosmetic line is high priced - and many think over-priced. 

I emailed and asked where the cosmetics were made and did not receive a response. This leaves me feeling as if the cosmetics might be made in China - something they are probably not proud of. But I'm only speculating here - however no response usually indicates a marketing savvy response has not yet been drafted.

The card of samples doesn't even provide enough for one application. Apparently they're just "swatches" - lame!

Still, I admit I have a little love affair going with Ipsy, because they send the best stuff. Heck even the stuff made in China seems to be good to use for swapping and gifts. And for $10, this is a much, much better deal than it's main competitor: Birchbox.

Ipsy, I love you. Don't ever leave me.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels

I'm in love with salt. And chocolate. So whenever these two ingredients appear together in the same product, I feel an overwhelming need to try it. This winter I discovered I like sea salt caramels, and went a little crazy after this discovery. Everywhere I turned, there seemed to be some sort of sea salt caramel available. I think I bought them all.

Then I was broke.


Imagine my wallet's delight when I happened upon these babies at my local Trader Joe's. Only $3.49 for a 7 oz. package. Ah, yes, my wallet smiled but would I?

I looked around the store to see if anyone saw me, and when I realized I was in the clear, I threw those babies into my cart. Why the secrecy? Because I was supposed to be on the Smash Diet with my co-workers. And try as I might, I could not find a way these tempting little morsels fit into the allowable foods in any way, shape, or form.

I got them home safely, cooked dinner, and didn't enjoy my little bit of protein and plateful of vegetables. What could make it better? That's right... a serving of baby sized chocolate covered sea salt butterscotch caramels. 

I grabbed about five, and tried a couple. YUM! They are the perfect blend of rich dark chocolate, buttery caramel, and sea salt. Neither taste outshines the other, and all the ingredients work together to deliver a delicious, delightful and delectable treat.

I've had some sea salt caramels that have too much salt. I've had some sea salt caramels in which the caramel was just too hard. And I've had others in which the caramel and the salt overpowered the chocolate. 

This is not the case with Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels. These taste better than some high end sea salt caramels I've tried. And for $3.49, they are an affordable treat. I can buy one for me, and one for a friend. I'd hate to be one of my friends, though, because even though I have every intention of giving one of them a package, it rarely ever makes it out of  my house.

I say get thee down to your nearest Trader Joe's and grab a package or two of these. As with anything at Trader Joe's, you never really know how long they'll stock it, so don't waste any time. Go now. Grab a cartful and enjoy.