Sunday, December 23, 2012

Kara's Way December 2012

I call the sample/subscription boxes I received this month The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The box I received yesterday from Kara's Way is the "good" box.

For those of you not familiar with Kara's Way, it is an eco-friendly sample box. It doesn't really fall under the subscription box category, simply because it's a month-by-month purchase. If you want it that month, and they have boxes available, you can buy one. This makes it a great choice for commitment-phobes, or those who just want get a little something to spice up their mailbox.

This is Kara Way's second box since returning from their hiatus - and it did not disappoint. Here's what was inside:

1) Hollybeth Organics Grits & Honey Scrub: There are sugar scrubs, there are salt scrubs, and apparently now there is a Honey & Grits scrub - and who doesn't want to shower with breakfast foods, huh? But seriously folks, this isn't a shower scrub - it's for faces. I can't wait to use it - it is a nice size sample, and I'll probably be able to use it for at least a month.
Retail price: $25 for 2 oz.

2) Sheswai Lacquer: I received a FULL SIZE bottle of this nail lacquer in the color Earthy. It's described as a "deep shade of toasty mauve" and is free of nasty things, like formaldehyde, toluene, and dbp's. (Yeah, I had to look that one up: it's dibutyl phthalate - and my theory is, if you can't spell it without using a dictionary, you probably don't want to use it, anyway!) This product is made in my favorite place: The good old US of A - and it's so eco-friendly that even the bottle cap was made from sustainably harvested wood.
Retail price: $16 per bottle

3) Native Touch Warrior Bear Rub: I received a similar product in another box a while back - and if this product is anything like the other, it will work wonders. This product is made with tea trea oil, lavender, and rosemary essential oils - and it smells WONDERFUL. It's good to battle cracked heelitis, ugly hard cuticals, and could probably make your knobby knees look better, too.
Retail price: $11.99 for 1.8 oz.

4) Coastal Scents African Black Soap: I received a sample of this a few months ago from another sample box. It's handcrafted in Ghana and allegedly is used to treat skin ailments like rashes, acne, eczema and dandruff. I hadn't tried it - but then my dad (who's visiting for Christmas) said to me when I showed him the bar of soap: "Couldn't you use that on your back? Aren't you complaining that you have weird skin breakouts there?" It was like a lightbulb went off in my brain - so this morning I showered with it, and my back feels better already.
Retail price: $12.95 for 16 oz.

5) Priti NYC Soy Nail Polish Remover Wipes: Okay, this was the only product that was a bit underwhelming - it was in a little foil wrap, which means I received only one. ONE! But then again, with a full size product in the box, who am I to complain? Huh? And honestly, I really do want to try this out without buying a full size product - I'm not convinced alternative nail polish removers work, but I sure want them to - now's my chance to test it out!
Retail price: $9.99 for 10 wipes

There was also a bonus in the box: an Organic Candy Cane from TruJoy Sweets. As you can see from my non-professional photo, it's a full size cane - not a little chintzy candy cane (which I received last year in a box). This candy cane is organic, corn syrup free, gluten free, vegan and contains no artificial colors or flavors - you know you want one.

Nitpicks: Believe it or not, I have only two nitpicks. The first is that the Sheswai Lacquer in Earthy does not seem to be available on their website. Normally that means the color has been discontinued. Does that mean the one I received is old? And if I like it, I can't get another one - but they do have a color that's similar: Rootsy.

The second nitpick is that Kara's Way did not include their Kara's Way tag. If you're not familiar with this, it's a little hang tag they normally include that contains wild flower seeds. You can plant it and see wildflowers spring up. I really missed that little extra.

Lasting Impression: This package was an extremely nice mix of products, and even came with a nod to the holiday season with the inclusion of the organic candy cane. I love that I received a full size product. I know this isn't always possible - but this makes two boxes in a row that contained a full size product (last month's contained Dle's light up lip gloss).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Green Grab Bag November 2012

I received my November Green Grab Bag on Saturday - I know I've said it before, but it's time to rinse and repeat: I love Green Grab Bag. It is more expensive than some of my other subs, but this one delivers the goods every single month.

As soon as I opened up the bag, a smile appeared on my face, and didn't go away (until I had a little mishap with the lip butter... more later). Green Grab Bag really spoils their subscribers - and I don't know about you, but I think I deserve to be spoiled.

Enough of the commentary - here's what I received:

1) Purity Botanicals Deep Pore Cleanser: This particular blend is for Normal/Oily skin - and my skin isn't really oily. It's more Normal/Dry. Still, I have been using it for the last couple of days and I like the product. I wouldn't buy it - personally, I like a little more foam to my cleanser. Still, this one does what it is supposed to do - and it did not cause me to breakout, so it's a win in my book!
Retail price: $37 (size not given on website)

2) Purity Botanicals Liquid Gold Serum: This product claims to spot treat acne, hydrate skin, aid the healing of cuts, scrapes, and burns, and soothe assorted skin issues. As it so happened, I had a couple of weird little scabby things on my arm, so I put the liquid gold on them. By the following morning, I noticed a substantial improvement in the healing process. I will be keeping this sample close-by for those types of issues - it seems to do what it claims to do!
Retail price: $49 (size not given on website)

3) Purity Lip Whip: This product is new, and isn't available yet on the Purity Botanicals website. It's really cool to try a product before it's available to the general public! The color I received is Rose - and it's perfect. The thing is, the sample container is super hard to open. I've opened it three times, and two times I ended up with lip whip all over my fingers because of the clumsy way the container opens up. The color I received is perfect for me - and I am in love with it!
Retail price: $10

4) Gabriel Cosmetics Zuzu Luxe Eyeliner: Pencil eyeliners are my new favorite. I used to use liquid eyeliner applied with a brush, but moved to pencils about a year ago. Unlike the Honeybee Gardens eye pencil in the Kara's Way box, this one is not made in China. (Honeybee Gardens claims that the Chinese manufacturer was the only one who could deliver an eyeliner pencil at a good price - I disagree, and this eye pencil is proof.)

My eyeliner pencil is in Obsidian, but I see from their website that they have one in Indigo - a color I favor! 
Retail price: $13.80 per pencil

5) Tierra Mia Organics Original Face Cream: Oh wow, this stuff is NICE! It smells good, it goes on smoothly and absorbs quickly. This cream claims to help skin keep its equilibrium by restoring the normal pH. Did it? I dunno - I'm not a scientist, baby. All I know is I like it, and I will use this sample UP! (For those of you who care, this product is gluten free.)
Retail price: $25 for 2.0 oz.

6) Isvara Organics Peppermint Body Milk: This is probably my least favorite product in the bag - and that doesn't mean this product stinks or anything like that. It's nice... but the peppermint scent isn't very strong - in fact, it's really quite light. I am probably in the minority - but I LIKE stronger scented products. I use the Deep Steep Candy Mint Foot Cream, and the scent strength on that product is perfect for my picky nose. 

I will say this: the Isvara Organics Peppermint Body Milk is very fairly priced. Plus it's made with all that good-for-you stuff, like aloe, hemp seed, and jojoba.
Retail price: $2.98 for 2 oz or $11.95 for 8 oz.

7) HollyBeth Organics Snowflake Lip Balm: This is one of two full size products in Green Grab Bag this month. I have a zillion lip balms - so I haven't used this one yet. Still, I like knowing that if I need to, I can use this as a holiday gift for someone. I will say as lip balms go, this one is on the more expensive side.
Retail price: $7 per balm

8) Collective Wellbeing Corrective Cleanser: This was supposed to be La Mellite Blueberry Acai Antioxident Face & Body Scrub, but something went awry and so GGB sent this out instead. I look at it as a win, because this is a full size product! I probably have enough face cleansers to last me a year, but I'm hoping this one can correct all my beauty issues and make me beautiful.

Uh... maybe not. Still, you can't blame a girl for wishing...
Retail price: $15.39 for 5 oz.

And there you have it - my amazing November Green Grab Bag! I'm really looking forward to the December bag - if November is this good, what will we get for Christmas?  A make-over elf? One can only hope...

Pssst... it's time for you to subscribe to Green Grab Bag! Stop putting it off - do it and do it now! You will NOT be sorry. Click here to get started!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Kara's Way November 2012

I first heard about Kara's Way around April of this year. I was able to get their last box before they went on hiatus. I don't have their email any longer, but I believe the reason was to take some time to regroup and redesign the offering.

Kara's Way is one of the more exciting boxes out there - at least for me. Why? Because it offers the consumer a chance to try eco-friendly products before buying. I know they're not the only subscription service out there doing this - but my research (i.e. reading bloggers reviews) showed that the sample sizes were generous and the products were varied.

One of the ways in which Kara's Way changed is that it's no longer a traditional subscription service. Basically, you can chose to buy the box or not - and that is terrific for commitment phobes. 

Another area of change for Kara's Way is the price. The box used to be $10 and now it's $15. I'm disappointed, but at the same time I realize that everything in this world just keeps going up... and that includes postage. So... it's a minor gripe and I'm sure not their fault that they had to start charging more moolah rouge for the pretties.

One thing they didn't change is the gift tag - and for that, I'm thankful. See, their little gift tag (or as they call it "hang tag) is infused with wildflower seeds. If you tear your tag up into 1 inch pieces, cover with soil, and keep moist - you should have sprouts after about 10 days. Cool, right?

The November 2012 box is their first since the hiatus. Here's what's inside:

1) Honeybee Gardens Eye Liner in Passion: This was one of the first products I saw, and was instantly disappointed. Why? Because it's MADE IN CHINA. Holy mother of all things natural, what was Kara's Way thinking when they included this product in this box? Aren't they aware that products made in China can be dangerous? Chinese manufacturers are already poisoning our pets and sticking lead in everything from dishware to children's toys - are we to trust them with our eyes?

I think not.

Now, Honeybee Gardens claims to "Create pure, all-natural bath and body care products made from only the finest organic ingredients, offer them at a reasonable price, and treat every customer like a friend." Honestly, would you give your friends products made in a country with questionable manufacturing practices? I, for one, certainly hope not.

I know... the product list looks great - but I do NOT trust products made in China. They've proven over and over again NOT to use the ingredients companies want in their products. I don't trust this product, and I don't trust that Honeybee Gardens has my best interests at heart. Including this product in the box is an epic fail in my book.

Moving on...

2)  All Natural LightUpGloss by Dle in Jess Barely: So, I went from feeling abject disappointment to heartfelt glee in a moment. This is a full size product - but guess what else is exciting about it? It has a unique surprise: Pull out the applicator wand, and what do you find? A LIGHT! There's a mirror on the side of the wand, so you can put your lip gloss on in the dark! How cool is that? Dle is putting an end to clown lips - it's about time somebody did!

I've been using this lip gloss ever since I opened up the box, and it's a complete success. I love it! I couldn't find any "made in..." information on the tube or on the site, so hopefully this product is made in the good old US of A, because I've already slapped it on my lips about 500 times since Saturday.
Retail price: $8.95

3) Indochine Natural Star Anise and Coffee Soap: This is my second sample of this soap - I received my first from Eco-Emi in October. This is one of those samples I'm happy to receive a duplicate of - this soap smells delicious. I can't decide if I'm going to keep this one or regift it to someone special... only time will tell.
Retail price: $7.00

4) Twice Shy Natural Eau De Toilette by MBEZE: Thank you, Kara's Way, for doing what Birchbox fails to do: you guys gave me a fragrance sample! I whine, I cry, I beg... and yet Birchbox refuses to give me any fragrance. With you, I didn't even have to ask... I am delighted!

This scent is wonderful, and if I get a coupon code for it, I will definitely purchase it. I put it on, and made everyone nearby smell me. It's a good thing you're on the other side of the computer, otherwise I would make you smell me, too.

The site says it smells like "pink grapefruit is topped off with just a touch of fresh raspberry." I did not smell raspberry, and I'm glad - because I don't tend to like berry scented perfumes. I thought I smelled some lime... with a hint of coconut and flowers. The scent is warm, enticing, and enchanting - without being overpowering or cloying. Alcohol free.
Retail price: $25 for 0.34 fl. oz.

5) Natural Repair Hydratant Extrême: I cannot find this product located on any US online stores. This product comes from a French brand, and seems to run about 15.90 Euros. I received a small foil packet - and you know how much homey hates those. Additionally, if this product isn't available in the United States, I'm not sure what it's doing in this box... but I'm willing to try it, nonetheless!

6) Everyday Minerals blush: Ack! Two more foil sample packets... NOT my favorite. Personally, blush does not excite me. I don't use it. That said, the holidays are coming up - so there might be a need to make myself look shiny and bright. I'm sure these small samples will help me do just that.
Retail price: approximately $6.99 for a mini (prices vary on site)

Nitpicks: I am flabbergasted that a cosmetic product made in China is included in this type of sample box. Maybe Kara's Way didn't know the product was made in China - however, shouldn't they have done their homework? Or maybe they simply don't care that the product was made in China - in that case, I'll have to seriously re-evaluate my continuing purchase of the Kara's Way sample box.

Additionally, the box did not contain any information on the companies or the products themselves, nor any discount codes. When I questioned Kara's Way about this, they stated that the information will be added later to their website - they didn't want to spoil the surprise by posting this info in advance.

While I get that, I would have liked a little more information upfront. Still, I'm willing to forgive this, as I know they're still ironing out the details.

Lasting Impression: There are two products in this box that simply blew me away: the lip gloss (full size!) and the MBEZE fragrance sample. I am so picky about fragrance - I have very particular likes and dislikes. This scent is absolutely enchanting. And the lip gloss with the light was a delightful surprise!

I also signed up for the December box - and after that, I'll make a decision as to whether or not I'm dropping Birchbox in favor of Kara's Way or keeping BB over Kara's Way. Or maybe I'll get rid of them both and sign up for Ipsy (again). After all, homey doesn't make a ton of money and can't subscribe to every sample box out there... even though she'd like to!

Want to try Kara's Way? Boxes are $15 and include shipping cost. They promise 5 to 10 samples a month. Sign up here for the December box!

To be fair, I wanted to include Kara's Way response to the China issue. I still disagree - I see no need to support products made in China, no matter how the company wants to justify it. Still... they did respond, and here it is:

Kara's Way Thanks for the review! By the way, Honeybee Gardens is very concerned about product safety. Here's what they have to say about the eyeliner being produced in China: The bulk of our products are manufactured right here in Pennsylvania. Three of our products - the lip gloss, lipstick and mascara - are manufactured in Toronto.

Our liner pencils are manufactured in China. This is because I could not find a facility here in the US that was as clean or state-of-the-art when it came to producing a pencil cosmetic. The facility that produces our liners has standards that surpass the FDA (by far) and the more stringent European Union standards. This company also produces pencils for many of the largest cosmetic companies in the world. We are responsible for the formula and have MSDS and COA sheets on all ingredients used. It is the only product we make overseas, and I have no plans on changing it. I could not get a more superior product. All of our products are tested for lead, mercury, etc. and we keep the results on file (no contamination).

We have agents in China who periodically monitor the facility to ensure fair labor practices.

Of course all of our products, regardless of where they are made, are tested for micro and stability. And we double test - test the batched product, fill and then test the filled product. It can hold up our production a bit, but we'd rather be safe than sorry!

As you know, Honeybee Gardens carefully scrutinizes all of our products. We encourage your questions, and will continue in our goal to make the cleanest, healthiest and safest cosmetics and personal care products on the market.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Angelina Organic Skincare

I've received several samples from Angelina Organic Skincare. The more samples I receive (from my various subscription boxes), the more I fall in love with Angelina. If our relationship keeps going on like this, we'll be engaged by the end of the year.

When I receive samples from "green" companies, I like to find out more about the company and their philosophy. Most of the time, I'm really investigating to insure that the products are made in the USA. Often, I find out something really interesting about the company or the founder. In Angelina's case, I discovered that they base their company philosophy on ahimsa - the yogic practice of non-violence and kindness. This intrigued me.

Their ingredients are fair trade, and many of the botanical ingredients come from Oregon (ah HA! Made in the USA!). They also freshly make their products - and you know, one would hope all companies did that... but the truth is, most use preservatives so that products can have a long shelf life.

The products I've tried thus far are:

Coconut Bliss Exfoliating Cream Mask: Okay... I hate to admit it, but when I first tried this I was clueless to how it worked. It didn't have any grains in it - so how could it exfoliate? Turns out it's an alternative to "chemical" exfoliating masks. Instead of using fruit acids, this mask uses lactic acid.

I don't really care how it does what it does - it left my skin feeling soft. Plus it gave me a serious case of the happies because it smells DELICIOUS!
Retail price: $26.95 for 2 fl. oz.

Nourishing Herbal Day Cream: This was the very first product I sampled, and I love it. The cream emits a very light scent - and I realize fragrances of all kinds - no matter how natural - can be unpleasant for those who are scent sensitive. I, however, am not - and so it was the scent that first attracted me to the product.

However, this product also has the approximate SPF equivalent of 20 - and I tested that out, as I used this moisturizer when I gardened this summer. No matter how long I stayed outside, my face did not get sunburned.
Retail price: $34.95 for 2 fl. oz.

While those products are nice - they're also sensible. Let's move on to the less sensible, but oh! so sensuous products:

Dark Chocolate Shea Butter Sugar Scrub: It feels like a sin to use this scrub! Oh. My. Goodness. Getting clean has never been so sensual before now! This product is so sexy, I believe I moaned in the shower... over and over and over again. I hope the FBI wasn't recording.
Retail price: $6 for 1.7 oz. OR $27.95 for 16 fl. oz.

Dark Chocolate Body Butter: After using the scrub, I dried myself off and had a cigarette. Then I slathered my body with the dark chocolate body butter... and needed yet another cigarette. Man, that stuff is GOOD. I wonder if the FBI got it all on tape?
Retail price: $6.95 for 1.7 fl. oz OR $19.95 for 4 fl. oz

Right now, Angelina Organic Skincare is having a special on two of their lip balms: The Lick Me Lemon and Mandarin Heaven Lip Balm are both $6.48 (half off) a jar. This is an excellent time to try Angelina Organics - believe me, you won't be sorry!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Birchbox November 2012

Oh Birchbox, you vex me so!

I know I've mentioned ad nauseam that I have a hate/hate relationship with Birchbox. I am also aware that is a bit of an exaggeration - after all, they do have the best rewards program out there as far as subscription boxes go. And their customer service ain't half bad - in fact, most of the time it's great.


This box is just another example of how much Birchbox hates me. I've been crying for over a year that I rarely ever get a fragrance sample. So what do they do? They give me a fragrance sample - but a MAN's fragrance - not a woman's.

When a few of us complained about receiving a man's frangrance, this is what they said: "The scent is for any man in your life - friend, brother, father, boyfriend, husband, fiance. We completely agree that your Birchbox should be treat for you, but this month we are all about sharing the love."

Okay... but that's not true. Take a look here - you'll see a list of all the different boxes going out in the month of November. Of the 31 boxes being sent out, only NINE boxes have that particular sample. All the rest contain products MEANT for the recipient - in other words, all other boxes contain samples that the recipient could use for themself.

This is what really happened: Birchbox had a bunch of samples left from their Birchbox Man, and decided to dump them on us.

I am NOT happy to be one of the recipients of Birchbox Man leftovers - and I'm not the only one.

By now, you're probably wondering what I actually got in my box. Here it is:

1) John Varvatos Artisan fragrance - see above complaint.
Retail price: $62 for 2.5 oz.

2)  Lulu Organics® Lavender + Clary Sage Hair Powder: This is a super small sample, probably good for two uses. However, I am DYING to try this - so in that sense, it's a win!
Retail price: $30 for 4 oz.

3)  ModelCo FIBRE LASHXTEND Lengthening Mascara: I tried this and I like it - but something weird happened. There were little black fibers all under my eyes after about an hour's worth of wear. Since the mascara "uses tiny fibers to beef up your fringe without any irritation," I'm assuming that is what is below my eyes. I don't know if I can give this a recommendation because of that - the fibers DO work to extend lashes, but is fiber speckling worth it? BONUS: This was a full size product.
Retail price: $24

4)   Mox Botanicals Lip Butter: I don't like to use these types of products - as I've mentioned before Chapstick and lip balms are my choice. They're easy to apply and there's no mess. This is in a pot, and I'd have to use my finger to put it on. That said, there were a lot of BB subscribers who really wanted this product - unfortunately, I'm the one who got it. It's not BB's fault that I don't like this kind of product... but that doesn't mean I'm not disappointed!
Retail price: $16 for 0.2 oz.

5) One Love Organics® Aromatic Body Serum: I am very happy to receive this product. The sample is kind of small, considering it's for use on the body - I'll probably get two uses out of it if I'm stingy. It smells wonderful, though - and for the two days I'll get to use it, I'll feel luxurious!
Retail price: $39 for 90 ml

I know I'm hating on Birchbox again - however I do want them to give them a shout out. Hurricane Sandy hit them hard - yet they still managed to get most of the boxes out on time (mine was one of them). I am very impressed - and thoroughly surprised. I fully expected to wait longer this month for my box.

This is an example of why I stick with Birchbox, even though I love to hate them. Their dedication to their customers is fierce - although sometimes misplaced.

I will be receiving my first Kara's Box this month since their relaunch, and I may give up BB if Kara's Way revamp blows me away. However, BB is $10 a month - and this month (unlike other months) I did receive a full size product worth $24, so I have to say this month I got my money's worth!

My box also contained a coupon to use for some shoes... but as I don't order shoes online, that is worthless to me. Additionally, the shoes are $88 a pair so a $15 coupon isn't going to make much of a difference - it's going into the bin!

Nitpicks: I'll just recap what I talked about in the beginning of this post: the damn fragrance that I can't use. I don't have any men in my life - except my dad, and he can't use this sort of thing these days as fragrances bug him now that he's older.

I hate the fact that Birchbox attempted to spin this and used the excuse that we received this product because the theme of the box was giving - if that was the case, then EVERYONE should have received a needless sample they couldn't use themself, and of course, that wasn't the case. In reality, it was because they had extra Birchbox Man samples that they needed to get rid of.

Lasting impression: Birchbox came through, despite the challenge of Hurricane Sandy. As they didn't have access to their warehouse for several days, and I believe also didn't have electricity for a few days, this is one major accomplishment on their part - and I am so impressed by the effort they made to get boxes out relatively on time!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Book: Witchy Crafts

With a little play on words, Witchy Crafts: 60 Enchanted Projects for the Creative Witch contains projects that will tickle the creative witch to no end.

The author, Lexa Olick, is no stranger to art. Her work has been featured in many public venues, from the online Gothic magazine Dark Romance to the nationally well-known magazine Dog Fancy. Among her many interests and talents, crafting is one of them - and she's been doing it for 20 years.

I'll be honest here and say I'm a wannabe crafter. I've dabbled in crafts on and off my whole life. I'm not artistically talented, but I do enjoy participating in some crafts. This book intrigued me, as the only other magical craft book I've ever seen is the old standard Spell Crafts: Creating Magical Objects by Scott Cunningham.

Olick really delivers in this book. She thoroughly covers important aspects of magical craft work and topics include materials, techniques, solitary work vs. crafting in a group, and a month-by-month guide to crafting.

In the materials section, Olick covers basic crafting materials from a witch's point of view. Natural vs. unnatural. When to make substitutions and what types of substitutions can be made without changing the intent of the magical craft. She also spends time explaining how ethics play into choosing materials as well - something I hadn't really considered much before - at least, not to the depth she goes in to.

My favorite part of the book is the chapter titled The Witching Season: A Month by Month Guide to Crafting the Craft. As a witch, I pretty much know what sorts of spells do better in what month, but this guide felt very complete to me. From details of the gods that govern each month to the stones and flowers and other materials that are appropriate for crafts done in a particular month, this portion of the book is what really sells it for me. This guide provides inspiration all year round for crafts not even included in the project portion of the book. 

And of course there are the projects, which include pictures, material lists, and very good instructions. Projects run the gamut, from  witchy essentials (Book of Shadows and wand) to witchy wants (spirit board, athame). There are wonderful jewelery crafts, including Power Cuffs and Evil Eye charms. 

One project that looked especially appealing is in the Green Witchery chapter: Keyboard Runes. As you can well guess, the runes are made from keyboard pieces - very remarkable and clever!

As I mentioned, I am more of a wannabe crafter than I am a real crafter - however, there is one project I am going to attempt: The Woven Tarot Bag. This is made with ribbons - and I just KNOW I can do it! It's beautiful and practical and I can't wait to make one!

I also want to make mention of the poppet section - this is one of my favorite types of magical crafts, and Olick puts a new spin on it. Besides a regular poppet, she also has instructions on how to make Poppet Facial Scrubs and Poppet Bath Teabags - delightful!

The book's appendix contains basic correspondences: runes, metals, crystals, herbs and colors. I know most witches have this information elsewhere, but it's really nice to have in the book itself. This way if one of the projects inspires your own creative spin, you can jump to the appendix to get a feel of the materials you would want to incorporate in your magical creation.

I have one nitpick - and it's one that I do have repeatedly about magical books. This one is called Witchy Crafts, and yet there are places in the book in which Wicca is referred to. It's a common misconception that all witches are Wiccans - and it's one that gets under my skin. 

I read the intro, and the author did not call herself Wiccan - she refers to herself as Pagan (although to be fair, the intro is called Wiccan Rede-Me). So, I'm unsure of reason why Wicca is referred to here and there, and almost willy nilly. For example, in the section on the benefits of crafting in groups, she gives the reader ideas on how to find other like-minded crafters. She suggests that going to a local crystal shop would be a good place to meet other witchy people. But then she adds, "Crystals play a huge role in the Wiccan life." Huh? Where did we jump from witch to Wiccan? And more than Wiccans hang out at those types of stores - all sorts of magical folks hang out there. While this type of assumption bugs me, it may not even register to other readers. 

Llewellyn Publishing states this book is scheduled for a February 2013 release date. The cost is $19.99 and provides great value for the cost. Sixty crafts. A month-by-month guide. Information about witch-friendly materials - it all seems like a bargain. I would suggest you pre-order now!

Book: I Saw Your Future and He's Not It

I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of Louise Helene's book I Saw Your Future and He's Not It. Being single, I've read many relationship books - and rarely ever read one cover-to-cover. 

This is an exception.

Louise Helene co-authored with Kim Osborn Sullivan, Ph. D. The writing style is straight to the point - and I like that. Louise uses her experience as a Tarot reader and psychic to provide the reader with guidance on love - how to find it, how to keep it, and when to cut and run.

The book contains 20 chapters and is divided into four sections: Finding Love, Feeling Love, Keeping Love, and Bad Love. When I think about it, these do seem to be the main concerns of people in love - how to find it, how to recognize it,  how to keep it, and what do do when it goes bad!

Each chapter gives at least two examples taken from interaction with Helene's clients. Each example reflects both sides of the coin: the first example one side, and the second the other side. This helps the reader to identify how a situation might be similar, but certain nuances and circumstances actually makes for a different outcome.

Additionally, each chapter contains Lessons Learned, Words of Wisdom (a quote), Just the Facts (results from studies), and advice in the section Using the Psychic Edge. I found most of this helpful, but the section I took issue with was the Just the Facts part. Often these were just results of studies, and the author did not do a really good job of tying the information to the subject at hand. Now, I was able to see a relationship between the data and subject, however I do believe this information could have been bridged more smoothly.

The Psychic Edge exercises were a really nice touch - and something I would expect from a Llewellyn book. By that, I mean that I would expect a relationship book published by Llewellyn to have some magical and/or psychic edge - and that's exactly what this section of each chapter provides.

The exercises in the Psychic Edge portion of the chapters do not require a lot of the participant, yet they provide a way to tune in to both the person's psyche and the world at large in order to better understand what's going on in a relationship. Personally, I like to think that I'm fairly tuned in, however I learned quite a few new-to-me techniques from this book - some of them I can't wait to try!

Louise Helene's advice is based on her 30+ years as a Tarot reader and psychic - so in each story, she has consulted her Tarot cards and/or crystal ball to tune into her client's problems. Almost each story has this little catch phrase: "I looked at the cards and saw...." As a Tarot reader myself, I would have loved to have more information on the actual cards in the reading - I'm curious like that. There were times she got information from the cards, and I found myself thinking "Hmmm... I wonder what cards showed her that?"

I think this book could have benefited from the addition of some of the spreads she uses in these types of relationship readings and an example or two of actual readings and the advice given. Then again, this isn't a Tarot book - it's a book based on advice she's given through Tarot readings - so on that hand, I can see why this information wasn't included. It's just something I would have enjoyed seeing in the book.

This book will be released in January 2013, and retails for $15.99. I consider this a good investment for those who want straightforward romantic advice. I know as I read the book, I found that I knew people in real life who were EXACTLY like some of the examples she gave. And (cough, cough), I'm sure I was like one of the women in the book - I won't tell you which one, because I'd like to think I've gotten smarter since then!

If you're single and dating, or perhaps married and in a bad relationship, and desire some no holds barred advice, then this is your book! Pre-order now, and start 2013 off right by getting out of that bad relationship and into a good one... Louise Helene will be sure to help get you there!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Eco-Emi October 2012

One of my all-time favorite subscription boxes arrived in my mailbox to give me yet another case of the happies!

Eco-Emi never fails to deliver - and I suppose that's why they always seem to have a waiting list. Who would be foolish enough to give this subscription service up? Not me!

As soon as I opened the box, I smelled something delicious and was instantly intrigued... Here's this month's delights:

1) Maximum Curl Defining Cream by Shea Radiance: Honestly, this is the one product that didn't excite me at all. I know everyone wants something particular from their subscription service. Personally, I'm happy with most anything but hair care items - and that's not Eco-Emi's fault!

This is a leave-in styling hair conditioner which promises to create "perfect curls." Well let me tell you something: I've spent 40+ years trying to UNCURL my hair - why oh why would I want to turn around and use something that will curl it? 
Retail price: $16 for 8 oz.

2) Tea Tree Facial Cleanser by Zen Society SkincareUh oh... I think I'm about to sound like a big whiner... Tea Tree isn't my favorite scent. That said, I am very excited to receive a facial cleanser to try. It is supposed to "brighten" tired and dull skin (don't look now, but my skin is yawning). The sample is of a very generous size. Bonus: It's made in the good old US of A!
Retail price: $16 

3) Vanilla Almond Granola by Ola Foods: I'm a low carber, so I don't normally eat granola. While I will probably never purchase this product, I will most definitely enjoy having a little carb splurge. I mean, who in their right mind can resist VANILLA ALMOND anything? Certainly not this whiner!
Retail price: $5.99 for 9 oz.

4)  Copper Kisses Lip Gloss by The All Natural Face: I LOVE The All Natural Face - I was able to try a couple of their eye shadows a few months ago. Now I have what looks to be a full size lip gloss to make myself beautiful with! Whiners want to be pretty, too!
Retail price: $4.60 for .43 oz.

5) Star Anise & Coffee Handmade Natural Soap by Dew Puff: This is what made the box smell so delicious!  I'm not a big soap person, but I do keep a bar right near the bathroom sink. This morning I threw away the remnant of the bar that was there and replaced it with this glorious scented gem!
Retail price: $7 for one 4.5 oz bar

6) Basic H2® Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate by Shaklee: Shaklee? They're still around? Wow... who knew? Well, Eco-Emi knew... that's for sure! 

What I'm about to say is going to sound totally Republican of me, but I really don't care if my cleaners are green or not. WHAT? Did I just hear you gasp? Well... sorry... but it's true. I am switching over, slowly but surely (peer pressure and all)... still, I'm not really sure I like this whole idea of mixing my own cleaner. I like the pre-made stuff - I'm lazy like that.
Retail price: $12.15 for 16 oz.

7) Organic Fruit Snacks by Tasty Brand: This is my absolute least favorite product in the box. I really can't eat stuff like this - but that's not Eco-Emi's fault. I will probably bring this to work and surprise a co-worker with it when they're having a bad day. 
Retail price: $29.95 for 30 bags

Nitpicks: This box just comes later and later in the month - and homey isn't happy about that. Additionally, I know food products are hit and miss with everyone - so I'm not blaming Eco-Emi for the fact that I can't eat the fruit snack thingy - it's not their fault. Still, I admit to being disappointed when I saw it. But then I got the happies thinking that I could share it with someone and pass on the happy!

Lasting impression: The instant I opened the box, I was hit with a delicious scent. The fragrance wafting out of the box instantly put me in a happy, expectant mood. The samples in the box were all generously sized (with the exception of the all-natural cleaner). Plus, the box represented a good mix of products: snacks, cleaner, skin care and cosmetics. Wow!

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Goodebox October 2012

I received my October 2012 Goodebox on Saturday - I can't believe how quickly it got to me! I mean, sure it's the end of the month - but from the time I received notification to the time I found the package in my mailbox, it was quick!

There was a slight problem this month... but it was mostly my fault. See, one of the products was substituted with another. To make that clear, Goodebox put a sticker on the product card list. Problem: someone placed the sticker in the wrong position. So, when I was comparing what I got with what was on my product card, I was confused.

It looked like I hadn't received the full size product, so I emailed them and did not expect to hear from them until Monday (I sent the email on Saturday). Oh my gosh - they replied within hours! They must have known the boxes were going to drop, and manned the email box... this impressed me to no end.

A few back and forths went by before I realized the mistake was mine - not theirs. I apologized, and the customer service rep was very nice.

There was one other problem as well: I received a Lip Glaze and a Lip Plumper from Eve Organics Beauty - the caps on both of these products had fallen off during shipment. This tells me they weren't screwed on tightly in the first place. Not Goodebox's fault - it was the manufacturer's fault. The products were dry (I live in Nevada, so things dry out quickly), but returned to normal after placing them in a warm environment for a couple of hours.

This box contains a lot of smile worthy products; here's what I got:

1) Anatomy Revitalizing Dead Sea Mud Mask: I have said time and time again that I'm not a mask kind of girl... but I will most definitely try this baby out. It's vegan and promises to heal acne and reduce wrinkles. I don't have acne, but I've had some weird breakouts lately... so I really want to give this a try. Hopefully this product will make my wrinkles cry and run for cover.
Retail price: $42 for 4 oz. jar

2) Clairvoyant Beauty's Nourishing Meadowfoam Serum - full size! If you've been reading me for any time, you know I'm a huge fan of Clairvoyant Beauty products. They're excellent and I love them. I don't always love the price... BUT this is one of the few companies out there that has great bundle deals on their skin care products. 

I've already given this product a try, and I love it. I will say, though, that I think I like the Balancing Rose Hip Oil and Hibiscus Facial Serum a tad bit better... but honestly just because of the scent!
Retail price: $69 for 1 oz. 

3) Eve Organics Beauty - Lip Plumper and Lip Glaze: I am a minimalist when it comes to my beauty routine. I admit that now that I'm older, I do have to take a few additional steps in the morning. I don't like doing them, but find these steps necessary in order not to scare my co-workers before they've had their morning coffee. Lip Plumper is not a step I want to add - I use Chapstick or lip balm, and that's a fine undercoat for me. 

For those who like these types of products, though, this lip plumper is nice. And the Lip Glaze is super subtle color and goes on smoothly.
Retail price: $15.95 each

4) Savvy Boheme Summer in Spain Whipped Cocoa Butter: Holy mother of fragrance, this product ROCKS my senses! I am in love with this whip! It smells just like a Lindt Dark Intense Orange Excellence Bar tastes... decadent! The organic cocoa and shea butters included in the product work wonders on my very dry spots (top of hands, décolletage (which is a fancy way of saying "top of the breast area").
Retail price: $14.50 for 3.4 oz.

5) Happy Face Foaming Scrub Cleanser: I am fairly disappointed in this product. 1) it did not foam. 2) It was hard as a rock, and getting it out of the container was a struggle. Once I got it out of the tub and was able to use it, I did like it - even though it did not foam. So if you buy this product, make sure you have a chisel on hand. You'll need it.
Retail price: $10 for 2 fl. oz.

6) Celtic Complexion Cream: This product was packaged beautifully (see picture above - it's the jar in the elegant organza bag). I really wanted to try this product this weekend, but was so busy with the other similar products that I did not. When I do, I will give a more thorough review - I expect to love it, but you just never know, now, do you?
Retail price: $42 for 2 oz.

Nitpicks: So, there were a couple of problems this month - the sticker announcing a substitute product was misplaced on the product card, causing confusion on what should be in the box and the lids off of BOTH lip products came off during shipment. Once again, many of the products are pretty pricey if you want to purchase them retail. However, I know for sure that Clairvoyant Beauty has great bundle prices, so that product - while pricey on its own - can be had at a remarkable discount if bundled.

Lasting Impressions: With the exception of the Lip Plumper, all the products in this box were Vegan. Now, that isn't important to me, but it IS very important to many other people out there. I imagine a whole buttload of people receiving this box were tickled to find so many vegan products in their tiny vegetarian hands, and I appreciate the work that went into curating such a wide variety of cruelty-free products.

Additionally, I have a case of the happies from my interaction with the Goodebox Customer Service team. They responded promptly, and their only concern was making things right. Turns out, they didn't really need to - but I do SO appreciate the effort. 

All in all, this box receives a big thumb's up from me!

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Friday, October 26, 2012

The Friday Five

It's almost Halloween! You know what that means: Candy, candy and more candy!

This is what I want to find in my trick or treat bag this year:

1) Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: Man, this is one treat that never lets me down. Salty. Sweet. And good to eat!

2) M&M's: An old time favorite that doesn't melt in your hands... only in your mouth. Truth be told, I can't hold on to it long enough to melt... in my hands OR in my mouth!

3) Mounds: Sing it with me now: I love my Mounds, dipped in deep dark chocolate...

4) Almond Joy: Almost as good as Mounds... but with the added health benefit of almonds!

5) Starburst: Probably one of my favorite non-chocolate treats. Plus since it's fruit flavored, it's healthy... right?

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mascara Round-Up

In the last couple of months, I received several mascara samples in subscription boxes. I've tried them all, and here are the results:

1) Chantecaille Faux Cils Mascara - When I first took the brush out of container, I backed up. It's huge - Ron Jeremy huge. In fact, I was actually afraid to use the wand, but I did... very carefully. And wow, did myeyes pop afterward! I wear glasses, so it's important to me to use eyeliner and mascara so my eyes don't get lost. This is a wonderful product. Scary wonderful. And uber expensive, too.

The brush effectively separates lashes, coating each with just the right amount of mascara. My lashes have never looked this good before. I will be really sad when this product is gone - as I mentioned before, it's super expensive: $42 dollars a tube, in fact.

2) stila forever your curl mascara - This was my new favorite mascara before receiving the Chantecaille Faux Cils Mascara. The brush is much smaller than the Chantecaille, and also smaller than Maybelline's Great Lash (to give you an example of size) - however, it gets the job done.

The promise of this mascara is this: "Curls your lashes instantly, this innovative formula perms your lashes the more you wear it." I wore it for one week straight, and yes, at the end of the week I felt that my lashes were curled more than without it. At $22 per tube, it's a better deal than the Chantecaille - and yet still a bit out of my price range. Still... I believe this is one product that is worth a splurge if you have the money!

3) Benecos Maximum Volume Mascara - I received this from the July 2012 Goodebox. Eco-friendly ingredients, with the inclusion of jojoba oil to "create a silky smooth, non-clumping formula." I liked the way it went on, but this mascara does NOT last. I put it on around 7 a.m. in the morning. By 10 a.m. I had raccoon eyes.

I used a paper towel in the ladies' bathroom to wipe away the gunk underneath my eyes. By noon it was back. I was unsure as to whether it was the mascara or my eyeliner - both of which were new to me. So, for two days after, I used a tried and true eyeliner along with the Benecos mascara.

Most definitely the mascara - not the eyeliner. So as much as I wanted to like this, I did not. It simply does not last.

4) Maybelline Great Lash® Washable Curved Brush Mascara - Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this has been discontinued! What the eff? I've been using this mascara for years - oh I don't even think I can count the years - at least not without giving my age away! Luckily I still have some, because I lucked into it at Grocery Outlet.

For the price, this has been my absolute favorite mascara for years. The curved brush gave my lashes an extra oomph. Maybelline suggests I use Great Lash® Washable Mascara instead. Well, NO! Reason one: it's washable. Reason two: it does NOT have a curved brush. So, while I just gave this mascara a rave review, the fact is it's not available any longer so I might have to buy a more spendy mascara to get the same effect I got from the $5 Maybelline product I used for years.

5) Clinique High Impact Mascara - This has been a favorite bonus item from Clinique on and off for a while now. At $16, it's considered a moderately priced upscale product. Quite honestly, though, I have not been impressed.

Don't get me wrong: the product works. There doesn't appear to be any raccooning with its use, and it does have staying power. Still, it didn't out perform my tried and true Maybelline, so I could not justify spending more money on a product that basically performed the same as Maybelline Great Lash.

VERDICT:  If you have the money, spring for the Chantecaille. Sure the brush size is a tad scary - so what? If you're an adult woman, you've had bigger things close to your eyes before (wink, wink). 

What else have we learned? That Maybelline sucks for discontinuing an old favorite. Boo hiss! Send them some hate mail. Who knows? Maybe you'll get a coupon!

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Green Grab Bag October 2012

Green Grab Bag is an eco-friendly monthly subscription that arrives in a reusable decorative bag. I've been a subscriber for over six months - and I am almost never disappointed.

This month is an exception.

When I look at all the items individually, most give me the happies - so maybe it is the size of the products that is disappointing. You see, Green Grab Bag has been spoiling us with some full size products - so the expectation has been built with precedent. I wouldn't even say that most of this month's products are what some consider to be "deluxe" size. Most will only give one use. Additionally, as this was their one year anniversary package, I - for one - probably expected more bang for my buck.

That said, the products are really nice - and here they are:

1) Me & the Girls Lavandula Revive Foot Softening Creme: This smells heavenly - it's a mix of lavender and mint. My little piggies want me to try it tonight!
Retail price: $25 for 1.5 oz.

2) Beesline: This product is an all-natural alternative to petroleum jelly. Poor PJ - it certainly gets a bad rap. I admit to liking it - it works great on my feet. I must say, though - I'm pretty excited at trying a natural alternative. Although I'm a big proponent of buying products made in the USA, this one is made next door in Canada. I'm down with that - but I'd like it even better if it was made with bacon. Kidding. Or am I?
Retail price: $3.99 for .5 oz.

3) Angelina Organic Skincare Coconut Hazelnut Shea Butter Sugar Scrub: I was first introduced to Angelina products in the April 2012 Green Grab Bag - let me tell you, they're wonderful products. I am sold on them and can't say enough good things about them. I'm not big on sugar scrubs - I prefer salt scrubs myself - but this one is tantalizing me with its delicious scent!
Retail price: $6 for 1.7 oz.

4) Angelina Organic Skincare Dark Chocolate Body Butter: Another decadent product from Angelina - and is the perfect partner for the coconut hazelnut shea butter sugar scrub! I hope they don't run off and elope before I get a chance to use them.
Retail price: $6.95 for 1.7 fl. oz.

5) Ferro Cosmetics Eye Shadow Duo and Brush: This was the most exciting product in the bag - you know we girls all like cosmetics. The samples are generous - I don't know if subscribers  received different shades. I received Champagne (a light neutral - kind of beige in color) and Dirt (a dark brown color). Seriously happy about these shades, as they do suit me.
Retail price: $17 (size not given on site)

6) Kohana Skin Wild Ginger Alaea Salt Scrub: I'll admit it - I am very disappointed that this sample is so small, because salt scrub is my absolute favorite kind of scrub. I will only get one use out of it - if that. Let's call it a half of a use! This product is made with Hawaiian red salt - which excites me even more - I love products made in the USA!
Retail price: $18 for 8 oz.

7) Pangea Organics Facial Cleanser and Cream: These were the most disappointing samples of all - two little tiny tear-away packets that Pangea gives away free with every order. Plus, Pangea is everywhere - I've received samples of this product from every sample box I subscribe to - and I've received bigger samples than these.
Retail price: $16 and $28

Nitpicks: The size of the products! With the exception of the eye make-up and the Beesline, in which a little goes a long way, these products will all be gone after one use.

Lasting impression: Green Grab Bag does a fantastic job of curating products the average person can afford. I do so appreciate that. If I find I love a product, I can usually afford to purchase it - whereas that is not the case with many of the other subscription services.

On a personal note, I am very happy to try two more Angelina products - I am in love with them!

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