Monday, July 30, 2012

Birthday Party Planning for Second Children

Sooooooooo, Lucia is going to be one on August 14.  So far my party planning process has gone like this:  


1) Look at calendar
2) Swear
3) Count the days until Lucy's birthday
4) Swear again
5) Briefly consider looking for first birthday ideas on pinterest
6) Laugh at the ridiculousness of that idea
7) Briefly consider stealing first birthday pictures from pinterest and photoshopping Lucy into them
8) Discard that idea because it's probably more work than throwing a party would be
9) Briefly consider throwing the girls a combined birthday on September 14 since their birthdays are August 14 and October 14
10) Feel bad because I wasn't planning on doing that until next year (we made a big deal about Adriana's first birthday, and I wanted to do the same for Lucia)
11) Go to local Mexican restaurant for lunch, since I eat my feelings
12) Hey!  They have a back room!
13) Convince waiter to let us have party at Mexican restaurant
14) Get hopes up that Lucy's party might not entirely suck
15) Ask for catering menu
16) Find out that there is no catering menu; I'm supposed to read their regular a la carte prices and then make an offer / negotiate / haggle
17) Fuck that
18) Look at calendar
19) Swear
20) Blog


Needless to say, this is not going well.  


Also, question for you all...


Crazy MIL has only met L 3 times (when she was 2 months old, thanksgiving, and 4th of July).  She has made no effort to have any sort of relationship with her.  Efforts from the rest of that side of the family have been minimal.  Is it okay to only invite Justin's dad's side and my side? It gets a little tricky because his aunts on his dad's side are friends with his mom.  That whole side of the family stresses me out because they never RSVP so I have to plan for all of them to come, and then 98% of them don't, and I'd really just rather not deal with it.  I fight with myself constantly about this, and always end up inviting them and trying to be the bigger person.  But I get REALLY STRESSED about the whole thing and generally end up wishing I hadn't bothered.  Every year.  Ugh. 


UPDATE: Justin's response: We have to invite them.  90% won't show up anyway.  Cue anxiety attack.  [They will all show up and we won't have enough food or space!  They won't show up and we will have too much food! They will show up and MIL wants to be a part of our lives again! Everyone will buy too many presents and our house will be overtaken by toys! They will come and drink too many margaritas and act inappropriately!  They won't come and I will have wasted stamps and invitations!] 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Snippy Snappy

I'm doing that thing where something happened over 24 hours ago and I'm still stewing about it and thinking up comebacks / rebuttal arguments.  Since I can't rant at the person who got all snippy snappy at me, I am going to do that here, in the hopes that I can get it out of my system.


The scene: Justin's dad's house.  A bunch of aunts, uncles, and cousins are sitting around the table, catching up and playing cards.  


The relevant characters: Me, obviously, and Justin's cousin's wife, who I will call Holly (Christmas birthday-themed name joke).  Oh, and Justin's cousin Bruce (Batman-themed name joke), but Holly is the snipper snapper.  


The topic: Bruce was discussing his type 2 diabetes and talking about how difficult it was to follow the diet.  I brought up how hard it was to follow the restricted foods/activities list for rosacea.  I was trying to a) relate to Bruce, because restricting yummy things is hard, and b) make a joke about how the list is entirely comprised of all things good in life (wine, coffee, chocolate, spicy food, warm baths, the sun etc. are all triggers for rosacea).  


The offense: Holly INSTANTLY jumped down my throat, saying that rosacea isn't the same as diabetes, because it is a LIFE THREATENING ILLNESS, and no one is going to DIE from having NOT COMPLETELY PERFECT SKIN.  She went on for a bit, but that was the gist.  


What I really wanted to say, but didn't, because unlike Holly, I don't make people look like assholes just for kicks (except on my blog):  Fuck you, Holly.  I have a masters in Biology and went to (some) medical school, I am well aware of the risks associated with Type 2 diabetes.  I was trying to empathize with your husband, who is an awesome dude, despite his questionable taste in women.  There is no reason to get all snippy snappy with me, and to try to make me look like an insensitive jerk in front of the entire family.  Also, I don't just have "not completely perfect" skin.  It's a legitimate condition that I didn't ask for and don't want.  I take super expensive oral and topical medicine to treat it, but I still have a crazy face.  I have to slather on shitloads of makeup just to look like a normal (albeit cakey) person, and, when I don't do that, I have to listen to people tell me that maybe if I just [insert advice that doesn't apply to rosacea], I wouldn't have skin problems, or ask me if I am sick or having an allergic reaction because I'm flushed.  I can't attend workout classes at the gym because they stop the class and ask me if I need a break because I look like I'm dying.  The teeniest bit of physical exertion or sun exposure makes me look like a tomato.  I have no ability to mask anger or embarrassment. And the list of restricted foods really does suck, which was the POINT of the CONVERSATION.  


My face on a GOOD skin day - no bumps/cysts, relatively little redness.  Behold the power of makeup.
Okay, I feel better. 


I find myself doing this more and more lately, and I'm not really sure what the deal is.  Do I need to get laid/massaged/pedicured more often?  Do I not have enough real problems? Maybe it's related to my anxiety?


Do you guys rehash conversations, or is it just me (and Swistle - I remember her saying she did this too)?



Friday, July 20, 2012

Diniwilk Stew: Summer Fun Edition


It's friday, how about some bullets? And pictures!


  • I started C210K July 2 and am only on week 2 day 2 due to injuries.  Still, that's 5 (no, 4!  I took a (jiggly) run in October!) more times than I've run any other month since about 2009.   Perhaps I won't horribly embarrass myself at the Akron Roadrunner Marathon this year.  Don't worry, I'm just doing the relay...but my leg is 5.5 miles.  I have never run more than 3, and that was in high school. It should be interesting.  
  • My injuries are not running related.  They are from birthing fat babies and carrying fat toddlers.  Sorry girls, but if you make me lose the ability to wear tampons (TMI! And KMN!*) or lift the remote, I get to call you fat.  
  • Speaking of which, have you read this amazing post by Elizabeth?  I would never, ever ACTUALLY call my girls fat (I promise), I really do worry a lot about how to raise two females with high self esteem and a positive body issue.  It seems like an impossible task in a time when girls can be mean 24/7 thanks to social media / texting.  I adore the post and think everyone should read it, whether you are a mother of girls or not.  
  • Why is it so impossible for me to cut bangs and not hate them?  They looks so cute on other people!  Zooey Deschanel likes them!  But I only like them on instagram, with a filter, without my entire face showing. In real life, I think they make me look like an ugly dude.  Plus I have to actually, like, DO my hair when I have them.  So now I'm trying to decide if I want to go shorter in the hopes that they are cute if you can see my eyebrows, or just start growing them out now since you know that's the inevitable outcome anyway.     

  • The $7 sprinkler is still a good investment.  To water the children, not the lawn, obviously. 

I taught Adriana how to make butt prints, to her endless amusement

   


  • As are trips to the ice cream truck:
   
  • Or McDonald's:
Double fisted!

Like you can choose between your multiple pictures of kids eating nuggets
  • Other random cuteness: 
Lucia's face cracks me up in this one
Adriana already loves messing with her little sis: first chalk then the bubbles

New shoes!

Making kissy faces for daddy after we tried on new lip gloss

Hello, cutie!

She was more excited to meet Brobee and Plex, but I love her face in this one

Toddler pedicure!  Adriana actually managed to sit still for this one

Oh, and don't forget to enter the KLUTCHclub giveaway!  It's open til 5 Ohio time!



*Kill Me Now!  Because seriously, the alternatives are not acceptable.  

August 2012 Julep Maven Preview

The August 2012 Julep Maven Boxes are up and they have done it again!  I want them ALL.  Whoever gets a golden box this round is one lucky lady.  All of the pics in this post are from Julep's website.  


My box is the American Beauty...I'm pretty sure I want to keep my box and order the add-ons.  Would you guys help me decide?  I know for sure my first add on will be Sienna.  I ADORE those silvery gold metallics - I want it to be like Chanel's Kaleidoscope but with a formula that doesn't chip in 10 seconds.  


For my second (and third!  You can do 3 now!) add-on, I'm looking at Piper, Alfre, and Felicity, but I love Harley and Kim too!  DAMN YOU JULEP, STOP MAKING SO MANY POLISHES I WANT, I HAVE MOUTHS TO FEED!







Which box do you like the best?  What should I get for my other two add-ons?


If you want to sign up, I get a free month for every 2 of you who sign on and stay with Maven for 30 days - here is the referral link, if you want to use it.  If these polishes look interesting to you, you can get your first box for just ONE PENNY, and you can cancel at any time.  The code for the penny box is COLOR2012.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 2012 KLUTCHclub Review and Giveaway

I was offered a complimentary July 2012 KLUTCHclub box for review.  I had no idea this box existed, so I am grateful for the opportunity.  I asked my contact if KLUTCHclub would consider giving a box to one of my readers in a giveaway, and she said yes, so I decided to go for it - one for me, one for you!  All opinions are my own, as per usual.


July 2012 KLUTCHclub Box: Healthy Summer Entertaining


Date of arrival: July 7, 2012


The deets: KLUTCHclub is a lot different than the other boxes I subscribe to, which are mostly beauty boxes and two lifestyle boxes (Influenster and Cravebox).  KLUTCHclub's focus is on health, wellness, and fitness products.  I looked through the past boxes and they offer food, drinks, makeup/skincare, supplements, and workouts (DVDs and online options).  There are 1 month ($18/box), 3 month ($17/box) and annual ($16/box) programs.  You can earn KLUTCHdollars towards a free box by answering surveys and participating in social media, or participate in the ambassador program to earn 20% commission on referrals. 


Packaging: Nothing too fancy; it's basically a shoebox with some tissue paper inside. This did lead to a problem since the heavy beverage broke my cookie - perhaps they could take a note from the beauty boxes and get some crinkle paper?  The card that came with the products was really nice.  No cost information, but there was a nice little blurb for each product that explained how it fit into the summer entertaining theme.  C for the box, A for the card.


Contents: The foodie stuff in the box was a can of CasCal Fermented Soda (which, oddly, is not on the card - last minute add?), 2 packs of Zoye Soybean Oil, a Breton Gourmet Shortbread Cookie, 3 Mighty Leaf teas, and 7 truvia packets.  
Also included was 1st Step Liquid Vitamin B12 Complex, a $15 gift certificate for Mineral Hygenics, a card with various offers from Nia (30 days free Nia Passion workout, 40% off select products, and $500 off Nia White Belt Training), and a booklet about molecular gastronomy that included a packet of Molecule-R's Soy Lectin emulsifier.  
Mini product review: The first product I tried was the CasCal fermented soda.  Fermented drinks aren't for everyone, but I love them. This one was no exception.  It's nice and tangy but has that bite from the fermentation.  I did think it's funny that none of the flavors are in the actual ingredients - the mango, jasmine, and kaffir lime taste is "crafted" with tangerine, lemon, carrot, and apple juice.  Why not just say it has those flavors?   A 
Next up was the Breton Gourmet cookie...or is it a Broye du poitou Goulibeur cookie?  The package is all in french, which is a little weird.  Ahhhhhh, the internet tells me that Breton imports the Goulibeur cookies.  Thanks, internet!  I also love shortbread / butter cookies...it's like KLUTCHclub is reading my mind!  It was a tasty little snack.  A little harder than I wanted, maybe it dried out a bit from being broken?  A-


Oddly, I have never tried truvia before.  Weird, right?  I always reach for Equal, just to spite those anti-aspartame weirdos (YOU WILL HAVE TO PRY MY DIET COKE OUT OF MY COLD, DEAD HANDS).  I sprinkled it on some berries, and it was delicious!  Much more real sugar-like than its contenders.  I might make the switch, especially since there was a 75 cent off coupon.  A+  
I wasn't able to try the Zoye vegetable oil or the Molecule-R's Soy Lectin emulsifier because, um, I haven't cooked since I got the box.  On July 7.  Worst mom ever.  I am definitely intrigued by the molecular gastronomy concept (science nerd stuff!!), but if I couldn't even cook some chicken to test the oil, I'm certainly not going to engage in gelification, sperification, or emulsification.  I did pass it on to a coworker who thought her husband would be super excited to test it out, so I will pass on any feedback.  


I should also mention that I also haven't tried out the liquid B12 because energy boosters aren't my thing.  I'm thinking about giving it to Justin since he was voted "most likely to die from sketchy energy drink consumption" in 2011.  By me.  This particular one doesn't look sketchy though, it's stimulant free and caffeine free, it's just crazy high doses of B12 (8334% DV), B6 (1000% DV) and folic acid (200% DV).  Basically, it will result in very expensive pee (your body can't absorb B vitamins at those dosages) :) 


I wanted to verify that there were no shenanigans with the Mineral Hygenics gift card (myglam has gotten in trouble with customers for calling coupons with a minimum purchase requirement a gift card).  I ordered an eye shadow in Adore, which is a gorgeous pink.  I wish they would have taken off the full $15, but they didn't discount the shipping and handling.  I got the ship notice on the same day I ordered it, which was nice.  I will let you know what I think after I get to try it out. 


I totally saved the best part for last.  When I first saw the Nia card, I was like "whatever, I'm sure we don't have anywhere that offers that program in Ohio."   I would have been partially right - the $500 off Nia White Belt Training wouldn't be possible without travel (and the program is $1599, YIKES!) However, the Nia Passion workout is a class that you watch online.  It's supposed to be a blend of dance and martial arts.  My shoulder and wrist have been screwed up for the last week so I haven't been able to try it out, but I will definitely be trying this out over the next month and will report back.  


I had no issues ordering the class online, so KLUTCHclub is 2 for 2 in successful offers by card.  
Also of note: I called the Nia people to confirm that there is no White Belt Training near me, and the person I spoke to was extremely helpful and friendly, and stayed on the phone answering questions a lot longer than she had to.  She also had a very soothing voice, which is a weird thing to matter, but somehow it did.  I could almost picture myself learning about balance and awareness and all that fun new agey stuff at the Nia Institute.  But, you know, $1099 after the discount.


Value:  I had to make some assumptions here, but I think I got it...$55.11 for an $18 box, which translates to $30.62 if this were a $10 box.  That makes this a B- 






Overall impression of the box: I was surprised when I first opened it, expecting a lot more "fitnessy" stuff - powerbars, powders, etc.  I enjoyed all of the products I tried, and am SO EXCITED to try out the Nia workout.  That really made the box for me.  A


Overall impression of the service: At $18 a box it's pricier than the other services I'm still subscribed to, but you have to consider what you are getting.  If you get a workout each month and you actually use it, that's better than a gym membership.  I tend to get bored doing the same DVDs over and over, and this is a great way to try out something new.  I do think it's a little more than I would want to spend each month, but I just love the whole concept.  Also, one of the coolest things about this service is that they show you the next month IN ADVANCE so you can make an actual informed decision about whether or not you want to buy!  Here is the August box - I am SERIOUSLY considering it despite my budget crackdown because of the one year membership to iBodyFit


If you want to sign up through my referral link, here it is.  Thanks!


KLUTCHclub has offered to give away a box to one lucky reader!  


We will follow the same rules as the last giveaway - U.S. residents 18 and older, please!


Enter ONE comment below.  Please, please, please do not comment twice.  I won't judge you (much) for your typo, I promise.  If you want to comment but don't want to enter, say "don't enter me" in your comment.  I will randomly choose one winner using the random number generator set to however many comments there are; if it picks a non-entry or a rule-breaker I'll have it pick again, and will keep picking til it lands on the first entry that counts.  If you are a stranger to these parts, make sure there is an email address or twitter handle in your comment so I know how to get ahold of you (if I can't contact you, you are a rule-breaker and I'll pick again). 


The winner will have to send me their address so I can send it to KLUTCHclub.  I will pick a winner 5pm Ohio time on Friday, July 20.


Good luck!



The contest is over, congrats Suzanne!!!

Halp!

Does anyone know why my blog is wonky?  I didn't change anything and the header is gone and all of my sidebar stuff is on the bottom.  When I go into the templates, it shows that the layout I want is selected.  It doesn't let me drag any of the stuff on the bottom over to the side.  I have no idea what is wrong and am not skilled in the html.  Any feedback would be HUGELY appreciated.  Hopefully the hubs can figure it out and all will be right again soon.  
My screenshot: No header or sidebar

Update: GAH, hubs sent me a screenshot from his computer and it looks screwed up there too, but in COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WAYS.  His header and sidebar are there, but the font is all bolded and ugly and the sidebar stuff is in the wrong order and some parts are overwriting others.  Has this ever happened to anyone else? 
Justin's screenshot: Different font and jacked up sidebar

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Recap / Which Beauty Box Should I Subscribe To?

Would you believe it?  We have now made our way through every beauty sample box I subscribe to.  Not included are Cravebox and KLUTCHclub (reviews coming soon) and Influenster Vox Box; this is a beauty box only post.  Also note that I haven't received my QVC Test Tube yet, but it's enough like the New Beauty one that I don't feel bad posting this and linking to the review later.  


As I reminder, the boxes I subscribe(d) to are:

So, as of right now, I have my annual subscriptions to Birchbox and My Glam, Julep Maven (I have some free boxes coming my way (THANK YOU!!!) and plan to skip months that don't amaze me once those run out), BeautyFix and the Test Tubes, and Sample Society (one more box and then I'm cancelling).  


I cancelled my extra Glam Bag, the Look Bag, Beautybox 5, Beauty Army, GlossyBox.  I might do a post on how to cancel / what the customer service was like since I know a lot of googlers are looking for that information.  


So, which beauty subscription box should you subscribe to?  Well, it depends.  


For those on a tight budget: Glam Bag and Birchbox are your best bet if you are only looking to spend $10.  I'd go with Glam Bag if you are younger and/or just want makeup, and Birchbox if you want to be exposed to a lot of different products you might not be aware of otherwise.  I personally prefer Birchbox, but myglam seems to be working through the kinks and can really be a contender.  Since I have annual subscriptions to both, I plan on letting them face off against each other for the rest of the year, so I'm going to continue to do reviews on those two boxes.


The Look Bag and BeautyBox 5 might get past their growing pains, and they might not.  Of the two, I have the most hope that the Look Bag will succeed, so go with that one if you already have BB and GB and need a third.  Beauty Army is only fun for about 2 months before it gets repetitive, so I'd skip it.  [UPDATE July 18, 2012: Just got an email that the Look Bag has been discontinued.  Boo.]


For those with a larger budget: If you don't want to waste your time with the cheaper bags and like to gamble in the hopes of getting some high end makeup, try GlossyBox or Sample Society.  I'm cancelling both due to budget constraints, but it's with a bit of a heavy heart.  I keep thinking that they will both send out amazing things the second I'm gone.  However, they just haven't been worth it for me so far, at least not with their hefty price tags.  


For those looking for the most value: Hands down, BeautyFix.  $20 for $300 of products!!!!  Amazing.  I never did a real review of either box, but you can tell from my value posts just how fantastic this service is.  It's heavy on the skin care stuff, BUT you get $25 for filling out product surveys, which you can use to buy makeup and add to your value.  I am planning on switching all of my skincare routine over to dermstore products, so I will be saving tons of money on stuff that is in my regular routine.  


For those looking for the most product: Also BeautyFix, but the Test Tubes are great too.  The Test Tubes, especially the QVC one, also have a little more variety as far as they types of products (you don't just get a million skincare things), so I'd pick that if I were more interested in full size makeup than full size skincare.  Birchbox often includes a full size product too, but since they have 30 boxes each month, it's kind of a crapshoot, and then you run the risk of getting pissy when someone else has a better box than you.  


I can say that I DO NOT recommend doing what I did and subscribing to ALL of these bad boys.  It was fun for a while, but I'm going to have to go on makeup lockdown and just USE these things lest they all expire.  Hoarding: it's a disease.  


I think ONE box is plenty if you aren't a makeup junkie.  It's fun to get something in the mail, especially if it has cute packaging.  Before I spun out of control, I found that my Birchbox was curbing my random target spend - instead if ME buying $10 worth of crap I didn't need, someone else was doing it for me!  Bonus!  


If you ARE a makeup junkie, you might want to do just ONE of the monthly boxes, as well as the Test Tubes.  The extra dollars you will save will be much better spent on one or two full size products you love.  Skincare junkies or people who want to experiment with anti-aging products should just get BeautyFix, they will have everything you need.  


One final recommendation: the allure Fall Beauty Box.  I'd recommend this to anyone, honestly.  Tons of full size products at a great value ($39.99).  Go to YouTube and search for the summer box and look at all of the crap you get.  AMAZING.  It goes on sale July 24, and you have to be QUICK to get it, it sells out within hours.  


If you had to pick one, what would you subscribe to?  Which review was your favorite?  (That second question is kind of self-indulgent, I know, but I did a lot of work on these and I'm genuinely curious).  

Summer 2012 New Beauty Test Tube Review

When I first decided to review every single beauty box I'm subscribed to, I was most excited to tell you about the New Beauty and QVC Test Tubes and Beauty Fix.  I had to wait forever to get a new Test Tube to review, and it's not half as cool as the last one.  When I find a service / product I love, I want you to all get it and love it too, so we can talk about how awesome it is together.   After getting this box, I can't write the glowing review that I wanted to, and it makes me so saaaaaaaaaaad!  Hopefully the QVC one will be amazing so I don't have to swim in my piles of unused samples, Scrooge McDuck style, all alone.

Summer 2012 New Beauty Test Tube


Date of arrival: Based on my skirt, July 7, 2012.  Sorry for the delay, I have no idea where time goes.


The deets: There are two programs - the normal New Beauty Test Tube and the QVC one, which has brands sold on QVC (Wen and Tarte were in my last one).  This review is for the New Beauty tube.  Both come with New Beauty Magazine, which is a fairly large magazine, but seems to be targeted towards and older, richer demographic.  It's interesting to me because there are a lot of articles about innovative new technology / plastic surgeries / science nerd beauty stuff, but it's probably not everyone's cup of tea.  The regular New Beauty Test Tube is a little more skewed to anti-aging / skin care stuff compared to the QVC one, but there's still plenty of makeup in both.  Since it's a quarterly box, you get a ton of generously sized samples - no foil packets here!  Often there are at least 3-4 full size and 8-9 deluxe samples in addition to the magazine, a really nice booklet describing the products, and some spalook coupons.  It costs $29.99 plus shipping and handling ($38.90 total).  I used the code TENOFF on my first one and got (obviously) $10 off.   


Packaging: New Beauty is another beauty box going with the pink and white theme.  I get that the whole concept is that it comes in a tube, but I think it's kind of pointless when you then stick said tube into a box.  I'm sure if you were craftier than I am you could think of some fun art projects or whatever to reuse the tubes, but I basically throw them away after letting the girls play telecope and/or drool on them for a week or so.  B-


Not included: dead lawn
Contents: This quarter's Test Tube came with jane iredale Tantasia, Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair serum (full size), Neutrogena healthy skin brightening eye perfector (full size), LashFood eyelash conditioner...
Smashbox Photofinish Primer, Olay Professional Prox Clear Complexion Renewing Lotion, Hydroxatone InstantEffect 90 Second Wrinkle Reducer On The Go Singles, Ahava Essential Day Moisturizer... 
The aforementioned spalook coupons, Lumene Firming Night Cream, it's a 10 miracle leave-in product, and mally beauty High Shine Liquid Lipstick (full size).   

Mini product review: 


The first product I tried was the mally lipstick in the shade Just Heaven.  I kind of love mally; both test tubes last quarter had the shadow stick, which is an awesome product for when you want to look like you are trying harder than you actually are (2 minute makeup days).  I love the design of the packaging (snakeskin!) but I haaaaaaaaaaaaate those clicky pen things.  How many clicks does it take to actually get product out of the mally lipstick?  SEVENTY SIX.  Look at how far down the plunger thingie is!!!  There would be much more room for product if they primed those fuckers first.  They call this a lipstick, but it's totally a gloss.  It's hydrating, shiny, and the end result is "your lips, but better".  In the closeup, I have the gloss on my bottom lip and nothing on top.  I would repurchase if I was somehow out of lipglosses and there was a mally store nearby, but I generally never actively seek out lip glosses, they come find me.  A-     


Also pictured: ill-advised bangs.  They look slightly less dorky when my hair is down.  Slightly.
I was super intrigued by the Hydroxatone 90 second wrinkle reducer packets. I think the fact that they are in little single serve packets is hilarious.  Am I supposed to keep one in my purse in case I see my ex walking down the street and he's 90 seconds away?  I really do think they worked though.  It might be hard to tell from the pics below (before on top, after on bottom), but in real life I could see definite reduction in the fine likes under my eye.  I felt like I wasted a lot of product due to the packaging; I'd recommend getting this one instead (roughly the same amount of product as the 15 packets).  Which I might actually do once I run out of other anti-aging products; $25 is a great price for something that works.  I'll need to test it longer to determine how long the effect is though.  A    
Hello, broken blood vessel and bloodshot eyes!  I heart rosacea.  
I tried the Lumene last night, it's a pretty standard night cream, nothing special.  The whole Lumene line is on sale right now at CVS (25% off and I think there might be some extra care $$ too) if you want to check it out.  It's pretty cheap; this exact sample is only $2.99.  C


I didn't really test much else, since I actually already own a lot of these.  I will keep you posted if the LashFood is amazing, since I am pretty excited to try that one out.  Also, if you've never tried it's a 10, it's a great product.  The 10 things it's supposed to do are repair dry/damaged hair, add shine, detangle, control frizz, seal/protect hair color, prevent split ends, stop breakage, create silkiness, enhance body, and act as a flat iron spray/thermal protector.  Some of those things are redundant and/or debatable (I don't think it adds body) so it's more like a 6, but it smells great and is perfect for people who don't like to put 9 million products in their hair (like me).  


Value: This is the part that is making me sad.  My last test tube was $10 cheaper thanks to the promo code, and at least $50 more in value.  If you divide everything by 3 to make it comparable to a monthly box, you are paying $12.97 for $40.18 in value, and scaled down to a $10 box that's $30.98 in value, or a B-

Overall impression of the box:  It wasn't as good as either of the last test tubes, but it was still a lot of great products (even if I already own them), as well as some exciting new things to try.  I would never just go out and buy a 90 second wrinkle reducer or an eyelash conditioner, so I think it's cool that I get to try them out.  B


Overall impression of the service: Well, I've had one that I was over the moon about and one that was solid but not super exciting.  I still think that I'm keeping my test tubes after I cancel every other box, so that says something.  I'd rather have a few full size products thrown in the mix each quarter than have tons of tiny samples that come monthly.  Like Birchbox, I think Test Tube goes out of their way to show us really interesting/unique products.  They also seem to have a special relationship with mally, which is fine by me because I love her stuff.  I feel like I need another round to fully evaluate, but I'm going to say A-

  





Friday, July 13, 2012

Currently

I think this originated with Holly?  But I thought you all might want a break from subscription boxes for a minute (I know I do), so I'm stealing it, and would like to encourage you to do the same.  


Rocking out to books on tape, since I travel to Columbus so frequently.  Just finished Karma's Law.  Any suggestions for my next one?  I like thrillers / mysteries.  
Enjoying my girls right now, both are in a cute/sweet phase.  
Watching Big Brother and following along on hamsterwatch (SPOILERS), because I'm hardcore.
Drinking mostly water - no pop in our house for a couple of weeks now, which is new.
Wondering if this week is ever going to end, OMG.
Waiting until exactly 5:00 go I can go pick up my girlies.
Feeling tired from my loooooooooong trip back from Columbus this afternoon, which involved getting off the highway for some Taco Bell only to realize that a) Taco Bell is only good when you're drunk, and b) the entrance was closed, resulting in a 40 minute detour.
Reading Just Kids by Patti Smith for book club - it's much better than anticipated.
Dying to get the new Too Faced The Return of Sexy palette, but I just bought Urban Decay Smoked and I can't justify both.  
Loving our new sprinkler, I will post adorable kid pics soon.
Surprised that it was pretty easy to get back into the swing of things doing the couch to 10K after a major health scare after week 1.
Planning on doing a whole lot of nothing this weekend, just relaxing with the girls while Justin is out of town visiting friends.  
Excited for the Blathering...I know it's still so far away but every day someone says something that gets me excited all over again.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

June (July?) 2012 Glossybox Review

June / July 2012 Glossybox: Summer Simplicity


Date of arrival: July 5, 2012


The deets: Glossybox is a service that is wildly popular in the UK and ton of other countries.  I was on the waiting list for months before they actually came to the US, because I'm a nerd like that.  They sent out their first box to a bunch of YouTubers and beauty bloggers, and it had full size samples, but the boxes since then (this is the second) have been pretty run of the mill.  Which is kind of crazy, since this service is $21, and most other beauty boxes are $10. They have a points program called Glossydots, where you can earn 20 points for each sample survey you fill out (1000 points gets you a free box).  I think they also have a referral program, but you have to email them the email addresses of people you have referred, much too complicated for my taste.  


Packaging: Glossybox has, hands down, the best packaging in the business.  The outer box has a perforated strip so you can actually open the damn thing without breaking a nail.  The inner box is nice and big, sturdy, and is beautiful.  I didn't take a picture of the inside, but you can see it on the bottom right corner of the picture below.  The samples are nestled in the ubiquitous black crinkle paper and wrapped in tissue paper with a pretty bow.  Simply gorgeous.  A++


Contents: The card is very informative with little blurbs about each item, the price of a full size,  a reminder that you can get Glossydots, an explanation about the theme, and contact information and social media links.  New this month was a GlossyMag, which is kind of similar to what is provided in the Sample Society box content-wise, but with more pictures and product information.  Note that the card says June 2012, but that magazine says July 2012.  Hence my confusion about which month's box this actually is.  
First up were the full size beautyADDICTS mascara, a Wells Professionals Enrich Moisturizing Treatment (a hair mask), and First Aid Beauty's Smooth Shave Cream (all things I don't have a million samples of!)
Next we have a Kinerase Restructure Firming Cream, the SheaTerra Organics Ultimate Moisturizing Body Cream in Marula, and the bonus item, which was A Perfume Organic's Urban Organic fragrance.   
Pro tip: If a product has to slap on a sticker that says NEW! it probably isn't.
Mini product review: So far I have tried out the shave cream, the body cream, and the perfume.


The First Aid Beauty Smooth Shave Cream was just kind of meh.  I was excited about it because I've seen the brand around and I wanted to try their stuff, and because I do a lot of traveling for work and love the idea of a tube instead of a can.  It did the trick, my legs were as smooth as an Italian girl's legs can get, but it was a teeny bit sticky compared to shave gels and there was no fragrance whatsoever.  At $15.00 for 6.8 oz, I wouldn't pay for the full size.  I really wish they gave us the Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask instead, because that sounds intriguing.  C  for the product, A for the packaging.  


This is the second SheaTerra Organics body cream I've received in a sample box (I got the Bananas and Baobabs scent in my first BeautyArmy box, and it smelled SO GOOD, like banana cream pie).  The marula scent took me a while to place, but as soon as I figured out what it reminded me of, I couldn't stop smelling it.  Italian cookies all the way, like vanilla and anise and yumminess. It's a much thicker texture than expected from a "whipped shea butter", but it absorbs nicely in the skin and kept my hands feeling soft all day.  If I had an unlimited budget, I'd buy every single scent.  Seriously, I don't even know how I'd pick if I were to buy one, they all sound freaking amazing.  OOH and you can buy the little ones for $6 here.  This might be part of my Christmas gift for all of the ladies in my family.  A+     


The Urban Organic scent was just bizarre.  The card says it's "A sweet lemon sorbet with bourbon, tangy lime peel, basil, ginger and smoky vetiver. A daytime perfume, fresh and citrusy, lavender and grapefruit make the most delicious combination."  However, when I tried it on, I thought "basil, basil, basil, OH EW GROSS LEMON CHEMICAL SMELL".  Someone on the Superfreaky1ru YouTube Freaky People Page (best source EVER for beauty deals) mentioned it smelled like pine sol, and that is EXACTLY what it smells like once the basil scent fades.  I would not repurchase.  D


Value:  A sad $40.63 for a $21 box.  If this was a $10 box it would only be worth $19.63, which is a D+




Overall impression of the box: If I were a mascara junkie and the mascara was awesome (not sure yet), I'd consider it a win because the mascara pays for the box and you get to try out 5 extra good-sized samples with it.  However, from a sample box perspective, this simply isn't worth it.  There are a lot of boxes out there that offer more bang for your buck.  I am happy with the variety of products and the full sized makeup item, I'm just not convinced my money wouldn't be better spent elsewhere.  B-


Overall impression of the service: Good sized samples, lots of variety, good brands, but probably not worth the $21.  If we are paying $11 extra dollars for beautiful packaging and a magazine, I'd rather just get a plain cardboard box.  

Also of note: Glossybox is currently in a little bit of hot water, because they have been billing us more and more quickly each month (see my billing history below).  As if that's not bad enough, they billed for the July box before we even received the June one, since most people didn't get their June box until July 5th or later.  It's a little frustrating, since most subscribers are sample addicts like me and are just giving this expensive box a month or two before deciding whether or not it's worth keeping.  I thing it's bad business to charge for the next box before we have had a chance to see if we are satisfied with the current one, and in an oversaturated market, a move like that might lose them some customers.  C



Friday, July 6, 2012

July 2012 Beauty Bar Sample Society Review

July 2012 Sample Society Box


The deets: I actually found out about this service when I was obsessing about allure's summer beauty box and was literally stalking their website to make sure I got one (Spoiler alert: I didn't.  Sample whore fail.)  Beautybar.com partnered with allure to create Sample Society, so in addition to 5 deluxe samples, you get a $15 gift code off a $50 beautybar.com purchase and a year's subscription to allure magazine.  It's more pricey than Birchbox or Glam Bag at $15, but they send 5 samples instead of 4-5, and allure is obviously well connected when it comes to high end brands.  You fill out a beauty profile, but I think it's more to decide what samples they will offer in the future and has no bearing on what you get in your box.  


You can earn points through the Familyhood rewards program (1 point per dollar spent in their family of websites - not sure what sites that includes), and beautybar will donate up to $30 to their select charities per friend referred.  


Date of arrival: July 3, 2012


Packaging: The Beauty Bar Sample Society is very classy looking, all black and white and silver.  The inside box is very sturdy and is among the best of the sample boxes if you are looking to reuse for storage purposes.  It comes with a little booklet with tons of makeup tips by allure, which is a nice touch.  The samples are nestled in black crinkle paper, which is pretty much the standard as far as sample boxes go.  A+


Contents: This month's box came with a Vincent Longo Duo Lip Pencil in Sangria and White Glimmer, a jouer cosmetics luminizing moisture tint with SPF 20 in bronzed, Vbeaute Eye Never Nourishing Repair Eye Cream (cute name), Borghese Tono Body Creme, and Sisley-Paris Hydra Global Intense Anti-Aging Hydration.  
Mini product review:  I have only really tested the Borghese body creme, since, as I mentioned before, I am absolutely swimming in anti-aging products.  It's a nice enough cream, as far as lotions go.  The scent did throw me off a bit though - it kind of reminded me of that scene in Mean Girls where they gave Rachel Adams' character a foot cream for her face.  Definitely vaguely foot-cream-ish.  Still, it's a good sized sample with nice packaging, and I'm intrigued enough by the brand that I am considering getting this some day.  B-


I did swatch the Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint...right now, it's just too dark for my skin to test.  I tried to show various stages of blendiness against my pasty hand to give you an idea of the consistency.  It seems nice.    


I also swatched the Vincent Longo Duo Lip Pencil.  I briefly considered putting it on my lips instead of my hand, but a) lip pencils are still not in my bag o' makeup tricks, and b) the only thing I could think of when looking at the colors was Queen Amidala.  Seriously, what purpose does a white glimmer lip pencil serve?  Maybe to highlight your cupid's bow?  Or use as eyeliner on your waterline, if you are into that kind of thing (I am not).  How would you use it?  I'm curious.


If you think I squirted more of the foundation on my hand after the bottom pic, you'd be wrong.  That's some leftover foundation from this morning.  GROSS!

Value: The lip pencil may only be half-useful, but it's full-sized, so that's awesome.  The anti-aging cream is INSANELY expensive, $170 for the full size, which is only 1.4 oz.  These creams kill me.  I will surely be old and wrinkled by the time I run out of them, and you can guarantee that I will be buying the cheap stuff at that time.  Overall, it was $54.85 for a $15 investment, which translates to $36.56 if it were a $10 box (I always do that so I can compare them better).  That makes this one a solid B



Overall impression of the box: Yay on the makeup, boo on the creams.  I wish these boxes would stop giving a body cream and an anti-aging cream and an eye cream all in the same box.  So frustrating!  Although, if you MUST do that, I'm happy to get a full oz of the body cream and a really expensive aging cream.  B


Overall impression of the service: I have only been a customer for 2 months, but I have to say I'm impressed.  I feel like it's a great partnership between beautybar and allure, and there is a small chance of them going out of business like (maybe) the Look Bag or screwing with billing like Glossybox or missing shipments like Cravebox (more on the last two later - we STILL aren't done with my reviews, can you believe it?!!)  A


If you want to use my referral code to sign up for Sample Society, it's LAUR965714.  Using the codes benefits charities, not me, so please use it!