Thursday, August 21, 2014

Birchbox for CEW 2014 Prestige Headliners and Mass Appeal Boxes

While I try to keep my Birchbox purchases in check, I decided to take the plunge and buy the two limited edition Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) Insider's Choice boxes.What drew me to the boxes is that each product was a finalist in the awards and that the products came from both drugstore and prestige lines. The price of the boxes are $18.00 for the Prestige box and $12.00 for the Mass Appeal one, but you can snag both for $28.00 total if you order them at the same time (no discount code needed - the money is taken off when you checkout). You can also use Birchbox points towards the boxes, and you can use other coupons for additional discounts!
The contents of the Prestige Headliners Box (l to r): Fekkai Glossing Creme, Josie Maran Pure Argan Oil, 100% Pure Nail Polish, Coola Environmental Repair Plus, Philosophy Miracle Worker Overnight, and the toe separators
The Prestige Headliners Box, $18.00, contains brands and products you'd find at Sephora or department stores like Nordstrom or Dillards. These products include:
  • 100% Pure Creamy Nail Polish in Jam (full size)
  • Coola Environmental Repair Plus Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion (deluxe sample)
  • Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Creme (a very generous deluxe sample)
  • Josie Maran Cosmetics 100% Pure Argan Oil Light (deluxe sample)
  • Philosophy Miracle Worker Overnight (deluxe sample)
The Prestige box also had two lifestyle extras - a pocket mirror and toe separators. In truth, I could have done without these two freebies. That said, I'm so excited about trying out the products in this box since, besides the glossing creme, I haven't used them before.

The contents of the Mass Appeal Box (back row l to r): L'Oreal Butterfly Mascara, Simple Protecting Light Moisturizer, (in front, l to r): Vaseline Lip Therapy, Dove Body Wash, Burt's Bees Lip Gloss
 The Mass Appeal Box, which cost $15.00 on its own, includes brands that you'd find at the drugstore or at retailers like Target or Walmart, including:
  • Burt's Bees 100% Natural Lip Gloss in Spring Splendor (full size)
  • Dove Go Fresh Restore Body Wash (deluxe sample size)
  • L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Mascara (full size)
  • Simple Protecting Light Moisturizer with SPF 15 (full size)
  • TRESemme Keratin Smooth Keratin Infusing Serum (full size)
  • Vaseline Lip Therapy Rosy Lips (full size)
The products in the Mass Appeal box look great and seem very usable. I'm especially excited about the moisturizer and Vaseline lip product. As an added bonus, all but one of the products are full size!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 2014 Birchbox

For August 2014, Birchbox did something a little different when it came to the subscription boxes. While the box was still $10.00 (including shipping), the company decided to expand on its idea from July's box, which allowed subscribers to choose a sample and the color of the sample. For August 2014, the company let subscribers decide decide if they wanted one of two box themes (one was a box with higher-end products, the other box was dubbed the "Everygirl" box and had more affordable samples). With the higher-end box, subscribers could also choose one of the products they wanted to receive.

I opted for the higher-end box, and this is what I got:
From left to right: Key West Aloe lotion, Laura Geller Cool Lids Cream Eyeshadow, Nugg Beauty mask, Neil George Shampoo & Conditioner.
My box included:
  • A deluxe sample of Key West Aloe Mango Moisturizing Lotion (full size is $12.00)
  • A nice-sized sample of Laura Geller Beauty Cool Lids Cream Eyeshadow in Silver Sands (full size is $19.00)
  • Deluxe samples of Neil George Shampoo and Conditioner (full size is $9.00 each)
  • A single-use sample of nugg Beauty Revitalizing Mask (full size pack of 5 is $14.99) - this was my beauty extra
I was very happy with my box choice, and I've been trying out my products ever since I receive the box last week. Right now, I'm most intrigued by the eyeshadow and mask, but I haven't had a chance to use the hair care products yet.

What did you receive in your Birchbox this month? What do you think of the idea of letting subscribers select the type of box they want? Please feel free to leave a comment below! Also, let me know if you want a review of the different products - I aim to please!

Misadventures in E-Reader World

Three years ago, I became the owner of an e-reader. My well-meaning family purchased a Nook SimpleTouch for my birthday, and I have dutifully used it ever since. While it has some definite benefits, I have also had a lot of trouble with it. My original Nook had to replaced three during the first few months I owned it because something seemed to be wrong with it (it froze on a regular basis). The third device seemed to be a charm, at least until the past few months. This summer, it got to the point where it would only work for 5 to 10 minutes at a time before it would freeze and I would have to reset it.

After three virtual chats and one phone call with Barnes and Noble customer service, I am once again getting a replacement device. Since the warranty expired on my Nook after the first year, I have to pay for the replacement (the device is discounted). Because I'm absurdly optimistic/profoundly stupid, I've opted to go with another SimpleTouch instead of the flashier, more versatile, and more expensive tablet version. My one hope is that, if this device is also a dud, it has the decency to fail while the warranty is in place so I can return it and give up on a dedicated e-reader.

Despite these complaints, I have found that the Nook app to work well on my iPad (I also broke down and downloaded the Kindle app, even though I am not a fan of Amazon for many reasons). Worst-case scenario is that my replacement Nook stops working, I return it (or drive over it with my car if the warranty has lapsed), and I use my iPad to read my e-books.

Given all of this, I'm curious about other people's experiences with e-readers. Have you had better luck than I have? What devices do you use?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Foodie Fridays Review: Graze Boxes

One night, as I skimmed through an issue of Real Simple, I saw an ad for Graze boxes. Graze is a snack subscription box that you can opt to get every week or every two weeks. The boxes, which cost $6.00 each, come with four small trays of snacks, and you can choose to get a Nibble box, where you can get any of the 90+ snacks they offer, or a Calorie Counter box, which features snacks ranging from 50 - 150 calories each.Given my love of subscription boxes (my Birchbox subscription is still going strong, and I've dabbled with trying boxes from Pop Sugar, Ipsy, and Beauty Bar), I decided to broaden my horizons and give Graze a try. I figured that, at the very least, this could give me a healthy and portion -controlled alternative when I was feeling a little peckish.
My latest Graze box, with (going clockwise from the upper left-hand corner) lightly salted popcorn, raspberry coconut muffin mix, cherries and berries dried fruit mix, and booster seeds.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Pop Culture that Restores Your Faith in Humanity

Sorry for the click-bait-like title, but it perfectly encapsulates the post’s topic. This morning, The A. V. Club featured anarticle on feel-good entertainment where they asked their staff, “What’s your favorite entertainment based on people making the world a better place, talking down the villains instead of shutting them up with a bullet, making firm sacrifices for the welfare of others, seeing the world as half-full rather than half-empty, etc.?” The answers ranged from Adventure Time to Mystery Science Theater 3000 to Groundhog Day, and reading them, I was struck by how diverse the list and how each person explained his or her choice. This also made me think about my own pop culture choices for when I need a little moral uplift. While I admit that much of the entertainment I will consume when I’m down comes in the form of books, there are also some movies and YouTube clips that (almost) always cheer me up. Below, in no particular order, are some of my favorites (several of the works mentioned in The A. V. Club article would be here, but I wanted to bring something new to the table).

Hairspray (the movie musical) – While I miss the snark and over-the-top humor found in the stage musical, the earnestness of the movie version make this a great reminder that acting on one’s convictions can help change the world (or, at the very least, integrate a local teenage dance program). Also, how can you be blue after hearing Shaiman and Wittman’s infectious songs?

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Winnie the Pooh – I adore Winnie the Pooh in almost any of his forms (except for the shows that involved enormous puppets and computer-generated animation). Both the original feature-length film, which was cobbled together from a series of shorts, and the 2011 sequel of sorts provide some life-affirming lessons in the gentlest and kindest way possible. For all of the mild (if amusing) adventures the characters have, the central idea for both movies is that friendship is important and that sacrifice for friends is worthwhile. Not bad lessons for a bear of little brain.

Anytime Mr. Rogers was being awesome – There are so many examples of this, but some of my favorites are his 1999 induction into theTelevision Hall of Fame and his 1969 testimony in front of the United StatesSenate in support of funding for public broadcasting. If you need more examples of how he was just an all-around great person (and someone to aspire to be like), check out Mental Floss’s 35 Facts about Mr. Rogers video and this article on his kindness and humanity.

The Princess Bride – In a world where happy endings are scarce and where good doesn’t always triumph, this modern fairy tale provides an alternative universe where fathers are avenged, miracles happen, and true love conquers all. All of this sentiment is balanced with a wry wit, making this the ultimate film version of comfort food.

What pop culture helps restore your faith in humanity? Please feel free to leave your comments below – I’d love to hear your ideas!