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.