Sunday, September 15, 2013

August 2013 SeasonsBox - Review and Giveaway!

I am enjoying the products in this month's SeasonsBox, but the contents didn't really wow me. SeasonsBox has changed ownership yet again, and the new owners seem more engaging and communicative, so I am hoping the quality and customer service will improve.

Here is a photo of the outer shipping box... I'm not a huge fan of the design.

It seems as though SeasonsBox has switched back to the crinkle paper - this is definitely better than the crumpled up craft paper from last month!

1. Eat Green Tea Edible Green Tea Whole Leaves

100 g // $25

I thought this was a really interesting product. I thought this would be a green tea powder (even though I could feel through the packaging that it definitely was not a powder), but it is actually whole green tea leaves. You can add this to cereal, yogurt, smoothies, etc. You can even include this in savoury dishes. One tablespoon of edible green tea is supposed to be equivalent to 30 cups of brewed tea in terms of antioxidants. I've tried the edible green tea by adding it to my cereal and it was actually really good! It imparts a nutty, green tea aroma to the milk... I do love the taste of green tea so I found it very yummy. I think this product would be amazing in a smoothie! :)

Here is some additional information from the Eat Green Tea website:

1. Our tea is GREEN tea. Black and oolong teas have been intentionally oxidized which reduces their nutritional potency.
2. Our green tea has been picked by HAND. Machine-picking breaks and damages the leaves which causes degradation in their quality.
3. We offer our edible green tea in WHOLE LEAF form. Broken leaves and tea dust has lost much of its nutritional goodness.
4. Our edible Green Tea is 100% USDA Certified Organic. This ensures that pesticides, herbicides, and toxic fertilizers have not been applied to the plant. And more importantly are not finding their way into your body.
5. Finally, our Green Tea has been tested for levels of heavy metals (very toxic to the body). Even if a farm is certified organic, these highly toxic destructive can still be present in dangerous levels due to nearby industry, previous pollution of the area, or other factors. Our edible green tea has been lab tested for purity and antioxidant potency.

2. Puur Body Oil in Lavender-Martini

4 fl oz // $8

Puur is a company on Etsy that is based in Boise, Idaho. The product card indicated we were supposed to receive a body mist/splash... I think I would have preferred that as the mist was supposed to have a fresh lemon scent and could double as a hair spray. That being said, I've tried the body oil a couple of times and I do like it - it absorbs quickly and left my skin feeling nice and soft. I like the lavender-martini scent I received... although I'm not sure what the "martini" portion refers to...

3. Tiki Bath & Body Green Tea Solid Lotion Bar

1 oz // $8

Tiki is a company based in Alabama that specializes in palm oil free vegan bath and body products. I really like the scent of this product - the green tea and spearmint combination is very refreshing. I was excited to receive this product because I had never tried a lotion bar before and it seemed like a neat concept. You push the stick up from the bottom to get more product out. I like this product for my knees, elbows, and feet (especially on the heels)... not so much on my hands, because I find the formulation a little oily and waxy.

4. Vapur Anti-Bottle Fun Size Two-Pack

1 set // $11.99

At first, I was not too excited about this product because I've picked up a lot of these types of bottles for free and I've donated or tossed every last one of them...t he quality just wasn't very good. I was surprised when I read great reviews about this brand! I like that we received a two-pack so I could use one and my hubby could use the other. I've tried mine already (I'm using the white one), and I really like it. It holds 400 ml of water, stands upright when it contains water, and folds up nicely when it is empty. I've tried using the pop top (similar to the top of a dish washing liquid bottle), and it's really easy to squirt the water into your mouth... I was worried it would get everywhere haha. You can also unscrew the cap and drink from the anti-bottle that way.

The anti-bottle has a little carabiner-style fastener so you can attach it to your bag (or to your pants I guess), and a space to write your name (hehe). I think it's neat that you can also use these as ice packs!

For some reason, I received 2 boxes from SeasonsBox this month so I will be giving one away! The contents are exactly the same as mine except the body oil is in guava fig and the anti-bottles are red. The value of the box the August SeasonsBox was $52.99.

Here are the details about the giveaway:

1) Giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the U.S. You must have a Canadian or U.S. mailing address for me to send the prize to you.
2) You must be 18 years of age or older or have parental permission to enter.
3) All entries will be validated. Any ineligible entries will be deleted.
4) Winner will be selected on September 29, 2013.
5) Winner will have 72 hours to claim the prize before another name is selected.

If you are interested, please enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget below. You can gain multiple entries if you follow me on other types of social media - all the different ways to gain additional entries are also shown below. Good luck!

UPDATED TO ADD: Thank you so much to everyone who entered the giveaway. I really enjoyed reading your favourite things about the summer! I have chosen a winner via Rafflecopter... congratulations to TC! I will be shipping your prize to you this week. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About SeasonsBox
SeasonsBox is a subscription service that promises 3-5 full-size luxury products for your home, body, and spirit. The box now ships out of Atlanta, Georgia and it looks like it is only accepting new subscriptions from U.S. residents. Besides curating boxes themed with a particular season (i.e., winter, spring, summer, fall), SeasonsBox also curates boxes themed with specific holidays (e.g., Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Halloween). The contents of every box are intended to stimulate your senses with the scents and flavours associated with a season or holiday. SeasonsBox provides high quality, luxury, and full-size products (versus samples) with a focus on natural and responsible products. The products are also sourced from various places around the world and most of them are not available in commercial stores. SeasonsBox provides a preview of the products at the beginning of the month. Please visit the SeasonsBox website for current pricing.

Note: I purchased a one year subscription to SeasonsBox with my own money.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Foodie Pages August 2013 Tasting Box - Unboxing and Review

This post is going to be on a different type of monthly box... one filled with Canadian artisan food goodies! This is the monthly Tasting Box by Foodie Pages.

Zoe from Writing Whimsy was one of the first people who mentioned this box to me, and I literally drooled over her blog reviews. This was previously a monthly subscription service, but the supply was so limited, and it was so highly regarded, that there were zero cancellations. Foodie Pages decided to cancel all the monthly subscriptions and change to a one-time-buy monthly box available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so more people could try the box. The box retails for $14.95 including shipping and it goes on sale on (or near) the 1st of every month starting at 12pm eastern time. There are only 50 boxes available each month.

I was lucky enough to snag an August box. Let's take a look to see what was inside!

I love the outer shipping box - the foodie pages stamp and crinkle paper dress up the box in a classy, yet rustic way. Very Canadian! :) The product card is also really well done - well designed and informative.

1. Full of Beans Deluxe Soup Mix

Full of Beans is a company based in Bornholm, Ontario. The deluxe soup mix contains black beans, green lentils, pinto, kidney beans, baby lima, yellow eyes, split peas, romano beans, white beans, and chick peas. I really like beans, and I've already used this beautiful mix to make a yummy soup. Even my hubby (who doesn't normally like beans) enjoyed the soup! :)

I soaked the beans overnight before cooking them, and they swelled up to double their size. I should have done a time lapse video. I know you can't see many of the pretty beans in this soup, so you'll just have to trust me that they're all in there. I added orzo pasta to the soup too... mmmmm!!

2. Manning Canning Spicy Tomato Jam

Manning Canning is based in Toronto, Ontario. The spicy tomato jam was delicious! It tastes like a sweet and flavourful homemade catsup with a hint of spiciness, which kicks the flavour up a notch. We ate the entire jar with roasted potatoes... I was pleasantly surprised when my hubby commented on how tasty it was.

3. Major Craig's Magnificent Mango Chutney

I love chutney, and this one is super delicious! The aroma from the cumin and the sweetness from the mango make me salivate every time I think of this product. Magnificent Mango is Major Craig's (based on Ottawa, Ontario) newest flavour. There are lots of mango pieces in the chutney, and they are super soft and creamy.

4. Feys+Hobbs Number Three Crisps in Sea Salt

Feys+Hobbs is based in Victoria, British Columbia. When I initially tasted the crisps, I was confused because the crisps were not very crispy. I tried one during the unboxing, and I was planning to try another before contacting Foodie Pages but never got around to it. I was surprised (and delighted) when both Erin from Foodie pages and David from Feys+Hobbes contacted me after watching my video to offer to send me another box of crisps! David indicated that when he watched my video, he knew right away that I had received an undercooked batch of crisps due to the colour... I was relieved to hear that only a small batch of crisps was affected. I am happy to report that the replacement box of sea salt crisps were flavourful and crispy!

In addition to the sea salt crisps, David also brought me a box of the Number Three Crisps in the Wheatfree Peppered variety and a container of Chocolate Espresso Almonds. I love the wheatfree peppered crisps - they have a bit of a different flavour to them due to the chickpea flour, but they were SO delicious... I even brought them to work the next day so I could snack on them. It worked out well because I prefer the wheatfree peppered variety and my hubby prefers the sea salt variety. The chocolate espresso almonds are crazy yummy.

5. The Newget Kompany Xpresso Nougat

Oh. My. Goodness. This confection is so delicious! I am a huge chocolate fan and an even bigger nougat fan, so this sweet treat was right up my alley. We received a small sample of the Xpresso Nougat - which contains white chocolate, espresso flakes, cocoa nibs, and roasted almonds. The texture of this product really stood out to me... it was the perfect combination of chocolate with a slight chewiness like nougat. I could have eaten a whole brick of this. The Newget Kompany is based in Edmonton, Alberta.

Overall, I loved my August Tasting Box!! I am so happy I got a chance to try this box, and I was over the moon with the customer service. I really appreciate proprietors who stand behind their products. I also love that this box features all Canadian foodmakers.

I was able to snag a September box, and I've actually already received it; however, my review is going to be extremely delayed as I am leaving for France tomorrow, and I'm very behind with my videos and blog posts. I will be reviewing the September box in early October.

Note: I purchased the August Tasting Box with my own money.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

August 2013 Starlooks Starbox - Unboxing and Review

The August box was a Special Edition box curated by Natalie Corona. She is the YouTuber who initially got me interested in the Starbox, so I was happy to see her featured in the August box. Let's see what products she picked!

The box this month was a very pretty robin's egg blue with holographic type.

1. Quartz Crystal

Here is the little crystal I received this month. The crystal is supposed to attract energy and help maintain focus.

2. Crystal Pendant

The bonus item this month was a crystal pendant, and it looks like various colours and shapes were sent out to subscribers. I was happy to see that I received a clear crystal pendant in my Starbox; however, upon closer inspection, I noticed there was a chip in the tip... oh well.

3. Glitter Glam in Emerald // 2 g // $17

I thought it was neat that this month's products were all branded with, "Natalie Corona by Starlooks" - it looks like the outer packaging has changed to white going forward. I actually liked the black, embossed packaging better, but it's not like I kept the boxes, so I don't mind the change. The glitter glam comes in the same little vial as the pigment luster so initially I thought it was the same product. Now that I've looked at the product card and the website, I think the glitter glam is a new product. This is a beautiful emerald green pigment with a ton (and I mean, a ton) of glitter. I will definitely need to use a sticky base when I apply this pigment, because the glitter goes everywhere and the emerald colour doesn't seem to last. Even still, I am excited to give this product a try.

4. Infinity Lipstick in Endless // 2.5 g // $15

We received 2 lipsticks this month and both were part of the infinity lipstick collection. I've never tried this formulation before - it claims to last 12 hours and be completely waterproof. While I haven't put those claims to the test, I can tell you that the lipstick does last a long time (at least 4 hours). It feels hard and a little dry when you put it on, but it didn't dry out my lips. Endless is a satin shade - it's a pinky-brown with some sheen to it. Oddly enough, this lipstick felt a lot more dry than the matte shade. I like this shade but wish the formulation was a little creamier.

5. Infinity Lipstick in Eons // 2.5 g // $15

Eons is a matte shade, and I found this one creamier but still on the dry side. Similar to Endless, this is also in the pinky-brown colour family but leans a little more berry-toned when you compare them side-by-side. I am wearing this shade in the video, and I do like it.

Here are the swatches of all the products:

Overall, I thought the August box was pretty good - I love trying new lip products and the pigment was gorgeous... now to find a foolproof way to make it stay put!

// Approximate value of the products in the August 2013 Starbox: $47 //

I haven't seen any "Why, Marci!?" videos in a few months, so perhaps they have been discontinued.

Note: Canadians who wish to subscribe to Starbox have to contact the company directly to get set up. I signed up by filling out the information on the contact form and a representative got back to me very quickly. I asked them to call me and I gave them my credit card information over the phone.

Note: I paid for the August Starbox with my own money.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

August 2013 Empties

This month, I really don't have very many empties!

* = Disliked the product - would not repurchase
** = Liked the product - might or might not repurchase
*** = Loved the product - would repurchase

1. Pantene Expert Collection Pro-V Age Defy Shampoo & Conditioner
Source: I can't remember!
Thoughts: I was surprised by how much I liked this shampoo and conditioner. The shampoo cleansed my hair nicely and the conditioner left it smooth and silky. I'm giving it 2 stars for now, but I may buy the full size down the road to test it out more.
Rating: **

2. Aveda Rosemary Mint Shampoo X 2
Source: Hotel samples
Thoughts: I'm not a huge fan of this shampoo. It's fine in terms of cleansing my hair, but the scent doesn't appeal to me.
Rating: *

3. Portico Spa White Ginger Clarifying Shampoo & Moisturizing Conditioner
Source: Hotel samples
Thoughts: Looks like these products are affiliated with the Hyatt. I didn't like these products very much - they were just ok in terms of effectiveness, and I found the scent to be cloying.
Rating: *

4. Vidal Sassoon Pro Series Repair Conditioner
Source: P&G Sample Pack
Thoughts: I couldn't stand the shampoo in this line when I tried it in June, but I actually quite liked the conditioner. It worked pretty well and smelled very nice.
Rating: ***

5. Elin Bianco Treatment Mask
Source: Glossy Party TO
Thoughts: I wanted to love this treatment as the gentleman at the Glossy Party was so passionate about this line of products. The mask worked amazingly well at making my hair soft and silky. Unfortunately, I didn't like the scent at all - it reminds me of baby powder... but times 100. The scent lingered after I rinsed out the product, and I just found it was way too strong for my liking.
Rating: **

6. Principessa Beauty Notte Breeze Dry Shampoo for Darker Shades
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: My favourite dry shampoo! Works very well, smells subtle but pleasant, and blends nicely into my hair. I apply this product with a little powder puff (I used one that I received in one of my drugstore pressed powders) so I can use just a tiny bit of product and not make a mess trying to sprinkle it into my hair. I already have a backup of this and recently purchased this cute travel size one.
Rating: ***

7. Consonant 100% Organic Olive Oil Body Soap
Source: Beauty Board Swag Bag
Thoughts: I loved this bar soap! It was smooth and silky - the card that came with the soap indicates that the soap has a "gooey" texture and it's true. It cleansed my skin really nicely but did not dry it out. The scent was also light and very pleasant. The soap came with a little loofa disc to rest the soap on when not in use... that way, it doesn't sit in its own goo.
Rating: ***

8. Quince Relaxing Body Butter
Source: July 2013 Starlooks Starbox
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this body butter! It is creamy without being greasy. It was also fast absorbing and smelled great. I am planning to purchase the full size of this as the website is showing flat rate shipping of $5 to Canada!
Rating: ***

9. Aruba Aloe Desert Bloom Body Lotion
Source: Purchased by me in Aruba
Thoughts: This body lotion is amazing! It smells wonderful (a mix of a fruity and a light floral scent) and it's light yet moisturizing. This was a great summer lotion for me, but it would probably too light for the winter.
Rating: ***

10. Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion Sunscreen with SPF 30
Source: June 2013 Beauty Box 5
Thoughts: I love this sunscreen. It is light and non-greasy... it rivals the Neutrogena Dry Touch sunscreen for me. The scent is a little strong but I don't find it unpleasant.
Rating: ***

11. Pur-Lisse Pur Delicate Gentle Soy Milk Cleanser
Source: January 2013 Beauty Box 5
Thoughts: Another product I really enjoyed! This cleanser is super gentle yet effective. A very light, barely there scent. It worked perfectly with my Clarisonic Mia 2. I am planning to purchase the full size of this once I'm done all my other (many) cleansers.
Rating: ***

12. Philosophy Purity Made Simple 3-in-1 Cleanser
Source: September 2012 Topbox
Thoughts: I've had this cleanser for ages, and I finally finished it. Oddly enough, despite the rave reviews, I didn't like this cleanser very much. I didn't like the scent, and I found it drying.
Rating: *

13. The Body Shop Aloe Calming Toner
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: So many products this month that I love! It took a almost to the end of this bottle of toner to fall in love with it, but it may have usurped my Nivea Gentle Toner as my favourite. This is an unscented toner that is very gentle on the skin. I used to love the scent of the Nivea Gentle Toner, but now it seems almost too strong in comparison.
Rating: ***

14. Medline Acetone Free Nail Polish Remover Pad x 22
Source: Unknown
Thoughts: I finished another 22 of these, and I still have a bunch more! These nail polish remover pads work very well, but one is definitely not enough for all 10 nails as the website claims! I found I could use one pad for only 2 nails - the pads are tiny (and thin) so the nail polish remover evaporates very quickly.
Rating: **

15. Vance Kitira Soy Candle in Pineapple Coconut
Source: June 2013 SeasonsBox
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this candle - the scent is just like pina colada. The burn time was decent, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't 25-35 hours like the packaging indicates. I wouldn't say the throw was anything unusual - just about average.
Rating: **

16. Yamamotoyama Organic Green Tea & Green Tea
Source: One of our hotels (I think)
Thoughts: Very yummy classic green tea! I liked both the organic and the regular. Neither of them were bitter nor did they have that wheat/rice taste about them (I'm not a fan of those varieties of green tea). I think this might be my new favourite green tea brand.
Rating: ***

17. Tetley Soothe Ginger Mint with Lemongrass
Source: Purchased by me (or my hubby)
Thoughts: Not a fan of this, but to be fair, I'm not a fan of ginger and lemongrass in my tea. I think my hubby may have chosen this! We've had this for a long time, and I've been trying to finish up all my older tea.
Rating: *

18. David's Tea Mint Julep
Source: Gift from my sister :)
Thoughts: I enjoyed trying this tea - it had some interesting flavours. A couple of things I didn't like about it - it contains spearmint (I prefer peppermint) and artificial flavours, so it's probably not a tea I would purchase regularly.
Rating: **

19. Lupicia Decaf Momo
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: This is the first Lupicia tea I haven't enjoyed - it was way too weak, perhaps due to the decaffeination process? I also received confirmation from Lupicia that there are artificial flavours in their teas, so I am not sure I will place another order.
Rating: *

Not that many August empties, and not sure September will be any better as I will be in France for half the month!! :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

July Beauty Box 5 - Unboxing and Review

Despite a couple of repeat brands this month, I really enjoyed my July Beauty Box 5! Great value this month and the lip gloss was definitely the highlight for me.

Here are the items I received (in order of appearance in the video):

1. Jean Pierre Cosmetics Nail Polish Remover Wipes

I haven't tried these yet... I may save them for my trip to France (in two weeks... YAY!!). I've tried a number of products from Jean Pierre Cosmetics (all from BB5), and I've liked them, so I'm hopeful I'll like these too. These nail polish wipes are acetone free and made in Israel. One wipe is supposed to be enough for all 10 nails.

Full size // 10 wipes // $3.99
Sample size // 2 wipes // $0.80

2. La Fresh Travel-Lite Antibacterial Wipes

Another set of wipes that will be perfect for my upcoming vacation! We're going to be in the car a lot and visiting a whole bunch of different places, so I'm definitely packing these wipes along with a couple of PocketBacs.

Full size and sample size // 8 wipes // $2.49

3. Airelle BERRIMATRIX Age Defying Facial Serum with Hyaluronic Acid

I didn't realize how expensive this serum was until I started writing this blog post! I've been using this serum every day and I really like it; however, I'm not sure whether I'm getting any results. I love that the first ingredient in this serum is aloe vera. I've been pairing this with the aloe vera cream I received in my July SeasonsBox. The combination leaves my skin feeling very moisturized in the morning, but I'm not sure I'm seeing the healing and tightening properties. This serum has oils in it, but it feels really light, almost like a water based serum.

Full size // 0.85 fl oz // $158
Sample size // 0.25 fl oz // $46.47

4. Every Beauty All-In-One Foot Smoother

This item surprised me (when I saw the spoilers), but I was happy to receive it because my feet have been horrible lately. The combination of walking 10km every day and the hot humid weather has really done a number of my tootsies. I've been using this once a week or so on my heels and it's been alright. I don't think it does *that* much to improve my feet, but just going through the motions of using this has made me more diligent about putting on foot cream. This sponge can be used on feet, knees, and elbows... I'll probably reserve this for my feet. It is two sided (course and fine). It also says you can pop this in your dishwasher to sanitize it, but that grosses me out a little, so I'll have to find some other way.

Full size and sample size // 1 smoother // $4.99 (corrected based on price on website)

5. Be a Bombshell Lip Gloss in Kiss Off

This is a light pink gloss with pink shimmer. I am really loving this lip gloss! It is very comfortable on the lips, decent pigmentation, little to no scent, no flavour, and quite moisturizing. I've been wearing this every day, and I usually pair it with a nude lipstick. I've also used this over pink lipstick, which gives it some oomph. This lip gloss has a regular doe foot applicator.

Full size and sample size // 3g // $14

Overall, I really liked the July Beauty Box 5. I will be using everything in this box, so that is definitely a plus. What did you think of this month's box?

// Approximate value of the products in the July 2013 Beauty Box 5: $68.75 (corrected based on foot smoother price on website) //

Beauty Box 5 is a monthly subscription service that promises 4-5 beauty samples in each box. It ships out of Austin, Texas. The samples are shipped in relatively small cardboard shipping box. The current dimensions of the box are approximately 6.5 inches x 4 inches x 2 inches and the box fits easily in my tiny condo mailbox.

If you wish to join Beauty Box 5 through my invitation, I will earn a credit and send heaps of good karma your way!

Note: I paid for this subscription with my own money.

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