August Birchbox Review

It’s that time again!  It feels like I’ve had my August box forever, but that’s probably because it came hot on the heels of my wayward July box.  August had some excellent samples, so let’s get to it!

August Birchbox

1.  R + Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo (Full size:  $17-29):  As I’ve discussed before, dry shampoo is one of those things that I see the use for, but don’t personally use all that much.  This was a decent dry shampoo, but I preferred my previous sample, and would purchase that before this one.  It simply wasn’t the perfect dry shampoo for me, but I’m certain it is the perfect one for someone else.

2.  Supergoop! Advanced Anti-Aging Eye Cream SPF 37 (Full size:  $45):  When I read the description of this cream I was excited about what it promised, but was unsure it could really deliver.  Because you need so very little of this cream to coat your under-eye, this small sample lasted me a week.  I was happy to see that it really did depuff for me.  I think it also reduced my dark circles, but because I didn’t take pictures to compare, I can’t be sure it wasn’t just me wanting to love this product.  I would probably buy this product because it delivers and a little will go a long way.

3.  LAQA & Co Charm School Kit (Set of 3 $20):  This product was thick and creamy, and it was easy to apply.  However, my sample was an orange/coral sort of color and it just did NOT work on me.  It looked pretty terrible with my complexion.  The other colors might be better for me, but I wouldn’t purchase this since I know for a fact that one third of the set won’t be right for me.  However, I’d be willing to try out more products from this company, and if purchasing the colors individually was an option, I might consider it then as well.

4.  Air Repair Complexion Boosting Moisturizer (Full size:  $20):  I LOVED this product.  I was so excited to get another moisturizer to try out because of my very dry climate.  I really liked how my skin felt and looked after applying this product.  It really felt like a treat for my skin.  I will be purchasing this product.

5.  Curly Hair Solutions Silk Leave-in Conditioner (Full size:  $18):  This product alone made this box amazing.  I am always looking for great products for curly hair.  I hate crunchy hair, and I hate how my hair is often dry.  I tried out this leave-in on its own and with other products.  I was amazed how fabulous my hair looked when I just used the conditioner.  I will be buying this product, I’ve already recommended it to my family members, and I can see this becoming a staple in my hair routine.  I will even be checking out other products they produce because I loved this that much!

There you have it!  This was an AWESOME box!  Two products I can’t wait to purchase, one product I will probably get around to, a company that I’m interested in (even if the one product wasn’t my color).

Want to check out Birchbox yourself?  You too can get five samples a month for just $10 each month.  Follow my referral link, give it a try, and let me know what you think!

Planner Stickers

Recently I was on the lookout for a new planner, so I started researching my options.  I am very picky about what I want in a planner and it changes regularly.  I bought my last planner back in January, and thought it was a good fit for my new lifestyle.  However, after using it for 6 months, I decided there were some issues that made it less than perfect.  So I hunted.  During that hunt I watched  a lot of planner reviews on YouTube and read a lot of reviews on blogs.  Slowly I got sucked into the “planner community.”  I ended up purchasing my planner from May Designs, but I couldn’t stop thinking about everything I had seen and read.  I had to get into planners like all of those ladies were!

In order to fully immerse myself in the craziness that is the planner community, I have ordered some stickers.  The first stickers I ordered came in this week, and it was pretty exciting!  I ordered from Sweet Ava’s Paper, and was very happy.  First, some technical background.  I had ordered from two other shops, and was a little concerned that none of those had shipped yet.  So when I decided I wanted to also order from Sweet Ava’s, I messaged her to check whether or not items would arrive before I left on my trip to Indiana.  She was super easy to chat with, responded to my questions quickly, and totally delivered on her promise.  I ordered from her on Aug 17, and got the order on the 24th.  I ordered three items:  two theme sheets and a “grab bag.”  Let’s take a look!

First up are the specific sheets I ordered plus the small sample she sent me as well.

Sweet Ava Order Part 1

The image in the upper right corner is the sample set she sent.  It’s a nice combination of colors, and they are intended to be boarder stickers.  In the middle is Pink and Navy Coffee Cups.  I liked the color scheme of these cups as well as the cute little heart on the cup.  I plan on using these when I’m meeting up with people or when we have an event that we’re attending.  The bottom row is the Pumpkin Spice Everything set.  I plan on using this in the same way as the coffee cups, but during October and November aka Pumpkin Spice Season.

Next up is the grab bag.  Basically, this is a random set of 5 sheets that she throws together for you.  I thought that this would be a nice way to check out some of her other offerings.  The listing says that the order will add up to 5 full 8.5 x 11 pages, but it might not come as full pages.  You might end up with two half pages, for example, to make up one of the 5 pages.  My order ended up being 5 full sheets.

Sweet Ava Grab Bag 1

First up is this Thanksgiving set.  I like that most of the items on this sheet are non-specific Fall so I can use them anytime during the season.  That said, Thanksgiving isn’t one of my favorite holidays, and there’s no way I would use all of these stickers.  I like that it’s a large variety, but I also think I might be looking for a good home for some of these.  Luckily, I know a few people that might want to trade with me!  (Yes, I suckered some o my friends into the community too.)

Sweet Ava Samples 2 and 3

Samples 2 and 3 had less variety.  These sheets are a Laundry set and a Paw Print set.  I like the colors on the laundry set.  I’m a fan of how each part is one color with differing levels of fade.  I plan to use these to remind me when I need to wash sheets and towels.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with the hangers, though.  As for the paw prints, I plan on using them for when I need to schedule/drop off/pick up the dogs from the kennel, for vet appointments, and for heartworm and flea and tick reminders.  That said, I had already bought laundry and paw print sets from other shops.  However, those shops haven’t shipped yet, so I might see if I can drop or replace those items from my order.

Sweet Ava Sample 4

This is the “To _____” set.  There are 16 of the checklist boxes and 14 shopping cart stickers.  They’re fun, but they’re kind of huge (especially compared to the space in my planner.)  I’ll use them because I have them, but they aren’t something I would order again for myself.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with the shopping carts.  I guess I’ll put them on my Mondays since that’s when I grocery shop.

Sweet Ava Sample 5

This is the Hot Air Balloon Washi set.  These types of stickers are something I see often in videos, but hadn’t given a lot of thought to for myself.  I’m not sure which planner my set is specifically made for, but these are usually made to fit into a specific planner.  What’s kind of cool is that each of the patterns comes in a variety of sizes, so this sheet really has a ton of stickers on it.  I like the hot air balloon theme and think all of this is pretty cute.  I also think the colors on this sheet, in general, are great.

So that’s what just came in the mail.  Originally I made a video and was going to share that, but I was having difficulty getting it to edit.  I mostly just needed to cut off the end where I turned off the camera.  Oh well.  Better luck next time!

**A version of this post also appeared on my personal blog.

July Birchbox Review

My poor July Birchbox went through quite the ordeal to get to me.  It made it all the way to Flagstaff (a town about an hour away from me) before it was inexplicably sent to Massachusetts.  My box went from about 70 miles from me to 2500 miles from me.  SO STRANGE.  It took a bit, but customer service was super nice, and a replacement box was mailed out.  I’ve had my replacement for about a week now, so I’ve had a chance to try out everything, though not as much as I would have liked.

July Birchbox

  1. amika un.Done texture Spray (Full Size:  $24):  Last month I got the amika dry shampoo.  I like this brand because it’s meant for curly hair.  I’ve tried this spray about three times now.  It isn’t great for me on its own, but it works well at helping produce defined curls when I use it as part of a series of products in my hair.  It’s an aerosol, which I’m not a huge fan of because that usually means product gets everywhere.  Which it did.  In my mouth.  It doesn’t taste very good, and it was hard to get the taste out of my mouth.  Bottom line:  it’s a decent product, but not the right addition for me.
  2. stila look at me liquid lipstick trio (Set of 3, $20):  This product was my sample choice.  Basically we had 3 color options (bright pink, classic red, bright coral), and I went for the red because I’ve been dying to find a really red lip color.  This stain went on super smooth with lots of saturated color.  The finish is matte, and I was all about the bold red lips it gave me.  I did have a bit of color transfer onto glasses, but I think that’s more on me not using the product completely right than anything else.  I would totally buy this, but I’m just not sure about the other two colors.  I guess I’ll see if I like them if I follow through on the purchase.
  3. COOLA Face SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint (Full size:  $36):  SPF is very important to me because I have very fair skin that burns easily.  I don’t usually wear an SPF with a tint, but I’m not opposed to them either.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t the tinted SPF for me.  It felt gritty when I put it on, and the tint didn’t seem to do anything for me.  (It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t good either.)  I can certainly see how this works for some people, but I am not those people.  This was a miss for me.
  4. Vasanti Cosmetics BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator (Full Size:  $34):  This face scrub was surprisingly deceptive.  It went on gritty and almost felt like a fine sandpaper on my skin, and I really needed to be aggressive with my rinsing to get it all off my face.  After my first use, I was positive I hated it.  However, I always try the products multiple times (unless I have an allergic reaction), and I found that each time I used this, I liked it more and more.  My face really did look glowing and smooth after every use.  I was all out of my Suki scrub, so I went ahead and ordered this along with the foaming face cleanser so I can alternate using them.  Would I buy this product?  Obviously.  I already did.
  5. Marcelle BB Cream Golden Glow (Full size:  $27):  After my experience with my last BB cream (where I turned bright red), I was wary about giving this one a try.  However, I didn’t need to be so concerned because this one didn’t cause an allergic reaction.  It went on smoothly and did a decent job evening out my skin tone.  I tend to have some blotchy redness on my face, and this helped with that.  When combined with the BrightenUp!, I felt like my skin look picture ready.  Would I buy this?  Maybe.  I actually don’t care too much about the red splotches I sometimes have, but it’s nice to know I have options (besides foundation) to deal with that.

Overall, I’d say this month’s box was a HUGE success.  I haven’t been able to try everything as much as I’d normally have before writing my review, but the trajectory of my box was out of my control.  I found one product I bought, a lip stain I loved, and a BB cream I’m considering.  Wins all around!

Want to get your own monthly set of samples for just $10 a month?  Check out Birchbox with my referral link.

KEEP-Collective Giveaway!

Hi everyone!  Today I’m thrilled to be sharing with you my first giveaway!  I asked my friend Ansley to answer a few questions about KEEP-Collective for me to share with you.  Read on to learn what KEEP is, and how you can win our prize.

What is Keep Collective?
KEEP-Collective is a new brand from the makers of Stella & Dot that focuses on celebrating your one-of-a-kind life through our keepsake jewelry. It’s a full collection of interchangeable charms to represent the things you love most in your life to compliment our bracelets and necklaces. High quality, beautifully designed (our lead designer used to be with Kate Spade), and meaningful jewelry all rolled into one.
How long have you been with Keep?
I started with KEEP as a beta designer in October 2014. (We’ve only been around since August 2014). So going on about 8 months now 🙂
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Why did you decide to join?
I decided to join because my best friend had started with KEEP in August and was posting all these great photos of bracelets. I asked her some questions and at the time I was really trying to figure out how to afford so many back and forth trips to California every other weekend (I was in a long distance relationship). She said she was making a couple hundred extra dollars and it was a lot of fun. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. Now 8 months later I’m the #1 seller in Arizona and rank in the top 100 of the company. I absolutely LOVE what I do. A huge selling point for me was my friendship with Jess, this would be something we’d have in common. Now it’s created so many more friendships I never would have had. I feel very lucky.
What is your favorite thing about Keep?
It’s the stories each piece can tell. Whether it’s celebrating a new baby, reveling in a new engagement, remembering a lost loved one, etc. I love the stories, the meaning behind everyone’s pieces and as a designer I get to be a part of it with everyone. I’ve never had so much fun working. I’ve met amazing women as fellow designers, through customers and through the amazing hostesses who’ve hosted socials with me. Take you (Corrie) for instance, we knew each other in High School, we were Vikette’s together and of course one of my most vivid memories was practicing for tryouts in my driveway with you and Becky…. fast forward several years later (no I won’t say how many) and you became one of my very fist hostesses… my 2nd in fact! We had a ton of fun, we reconnected and through your social I’ve met so many other women who I now talk to often. (Angela, I’m looking at you!) So between the stories each piece tells and the women I get to meet along the way it’s a toss up.
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Describe a design you created that you thought was meaningful.
My most favorite and most meaningful keeper was the one I designed to wear for my mother’s graduation ceremony for her PhD. I was raised by a single mother who never finished school prior to marriage and her children. I have watched her walk at her Bachelor’s, her Master’s and now finally at her Doctoral graduation so I put together a keeper to honor her. I chose the sailboat as we’re a family of sailors but also to represent the storms we have weathered as a family and turned into adventures, for my mother’s favorite saying as we were growing up is “All bad things go to bed at night” – a sailors creed to have faith that the ocean will not deter us this night. The family tree to represent all of us, past and present who have helped to make her and I who we are today. We are stronger as a family then we are as individuals. The butterfly to represent the way she has spread her wings and transformed over the years after every obstacle. The love wishing stone because there is so much of it in this beautiful family of mine and the strength stone because she is the strongest woman I’ve ever met. I strive to be the kind of mother she has been. I cherish our friendship and I am so proud of her, this day and every day.
What’s on your Keeper?
Today my Keeper has my sailboat, my anchor and wisdom wishing stone on my new pinstripe leather keeper. For anyone who knows me knows I must have the ocean represented in some way on my keepers. I’m also wearing our new horizontal keeper with just the airplane on it. Both of my grandfathers were pilots and I once was a corporate flight attendant so flying runs in the blood almost as much as sailing does!
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Where can someone look at designs?
You can always see our full collection on my website (with links to design guides) and great inspiration photos on my Facebook page. I also do a weekly design inspiration video on YouTube to give you ideas of new styles and keepers.
How can someone get help creating their own design?
I’m always here to help, and absolutely love doing designs with customers. You can email me directly either through my website or at ansleyw@icloud.com – At this time we don’t yet have a virtual keeper design tool, that is coming later this year though so stay tuned!
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Are you interested in winning a keeper and some keys?  Here’s your chance!  One winner will win a silicon keeper and up to $20 in keys of their choice!  The contest is open until Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 11:59PM Arizona time.  You can enter below.

KEEP-Collective Giveaway