Thursday, June 25, 2015

Birchbox June 2015: Adventure

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I'm really pleased with June's Birchbox!  It has some great products and a nice mix of skin care, color, and fragrance.  Let me start by saying, I'm sorry for the picture quality in this post.  It really overcast and I had a hard time avoiding shadows and good images of each sample.


Here's a look at what I got.  This month's theme was Adventure and my box has "Say Yes" in printed in silver foil on the top lid.  I could't agree more.  I definitely do say yes to all of my June samples!


Coola, SPF 50 Sport - Mango (full size, $32): Price aside, this is one of the very best sunscreens I've ever tired,  EVER.  A big reason why is the scent, because I can't stand the way sunscreen normally smells.  On top of the fun, fruity scent it is also very moisturizing.  You could totally skip applying lotion when using this.  It has the perfect texture and a very sheer formula so you barely notice it's on. It's a bit of a splurge for me, but I am planning to pick some up for sure!


Marcelle, Waterproof Eyeliner - Electric Blue (full size, $11): The first time I got a blue eyeliner in a subscription box I was thrilled. Oh how different and exciting.  Well now that I have several I was less enthusiastic to see this.  Turns out, I really, really like it!  This shade is slightly different from all of the others I have and it's beautiful.  Plus it has great staying power.  It's available in a cute travel set that I think is a very good value for such high quality eyeliners.


Real Chemistry, Luminous 3-Minute Peel (full size $48): This is the only sample I've yet to try.  I'm currently using up a Vitamin C treatment so I don't want to add something new into the mix just yet.  I also need to give my skin time to recover from our road trip to TX.  All the time in the car, longer periods spent in the sun, the different climate...for me it all adds up to skin that needs a little extra tender loving care.

Once things are a back to normal, this is first on my list to try!  It's an acid free peel that gently exfoliates.  You massage it onto a slightly moistened face and as you rub it, the gel should combine with your dead skin cells and take it away, leaving softer, smoother, brighter skin.  Sounds cool, right?


TOCCA, Eau de Parfum, Bianca (full size $68): Normally, I would not be super excited to get a fragrance sample for the second month in a row.  However, I really like both of the TOCCA Crema da Mano Luxe - Hand Cream samples I've received in previous Birchboxes.  The scents have been lovely and I really like the Bianca scent as well.

Described as, "A light sparkling citrus blend of lemon Orpur and Mandarin.  Fresh Green Tea and Rose Petals bloom, leaving a dash of Musk and Sugar to linger on the skin."  I think the combination of citrus and tea is what appeals to me.  For a fragrance sample is pretty generous, but I do wish it had a spray top.  I'm actually really happy that I got to try it!


W3LL PEOPLE, The Expressionist Mascara (full size $23.50): I currently have so much mascara but the chic white packaging was just beckoning me to try it!  My natural lashes are so sparse and stubby that I need a little help and this gave me the perfect amount of oomph for lovely natural looking eyelashes.  Definitely a yours but better kind of look.  The real draw for me is that it's all natural, since it's not too pleasant to think about putting yucky chemical or dyes right next to your eyes.


Bonus! Emi Jay, Hair Tie (Pack of 5: $13): This style of hair tie are all the rage and like most of others, is made out of a soft and flexible material that doesn't leave dents in your hair.  Basically, you can wear your hair up in a pony tail and then take it down without the tell tale crease left.  We have a number of this style hair tie and I would not say this one is unique, but it is nice how 20% of the profits are donated to charity.

This was a bonus item and as such, I think it's a really nice one to include!  I'd much rather get something like this than a piece of chocolate or another foil pack sample.  While ours is a kind of boring brown color, it's just perfect for my daughter.  It blends in nicely and almost gives her that no tie pony tail look, without having to leave out a few strands to wrap around the pony as a last step.

I've already gotten my sample pick email from Birchbox for July and opted to get the Beachy & Bright Featured Box.  It will include the following: JUARA Radiance Enzyme Scrub, stila stay all day liquid lipstick in Bella, theBalm® cosmetics Balm Desert® Bronzer/Blush, Supergoop! Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30, and Oribe Apr├Ęs Beach Wave and Shine Spray.

If you'd like to join me and receive Birchbox each month, please consider using my referral link, I'd really appreciate it!

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Monday, June 22, 2015

To Texas and Back


Hi Friends!

It's been awhile since I've posted, because we've been on a road trip to Texas!  It took us two overnight stays in hotels each way, but we managed to make the roughly 1400 mile trip without too much complaining or whining...at least from the kids, LOL!  The mini van's DVD really helped keep them occupied, I have no idea how my parents managed to drive me and my brother out west to Yellowstone before the days of iPods, Nitendo DS, etc.


One way we break up the driving is by planning fun stops along the way.  One of the things on my daughter's bucket list is to see a real live giant panda in person.  It's her favorite animal.  She's been talking about it for awhile, and I've been trying to explain to her that it would be hard to do since they aren't in very many zoos.  The only time I've seen one before was at the San Diego Zoo.

As I was doing research on what on what to do, I learned that the Memphis Zoo is one of only four US zoos to have one!  Memphis just happened to be on our route,so stopping was a definite must do!


We had an unexpected pit stop when we started spying the In-N-Out Burger signs around Dallas.  That's one of our favorite places, and I hadn't been to one since we moved out of the San Francisco Bay area...over ten years ago!  I think we were both excited to introduce this place to the kids.  My little guy won't eat burgers but he devoured a strawberry shake and the fries!  Our daughter loved the burger - no cheese or onions and was eager to stop for another round on the way back home.


We were lucky enough to stay with friends in Austin, but made some day trips to nearby things.  I felt like we were so close to the The Alamo that we just had to go see it.  I'm glad we did, I just think it's one of those historical places it's nice to say you've been too. It was surprisingly small, so plan to do more things while in San Antonio as it will only take a couple hours at most.  There are a surprisingly high number of touristy things around it, like wax museums, mirror mazes, etc.that I wasn't expecting.


We also went to the San Antonio River Walk, which is just lovely!  It's full of cute little stores and lots of great looking restaurants.  It really is much cooler down there too.  We thought it looked like a really neat place to come for date night.

However, we had seven kids in our groups so we didn't do much shopping, but we did take all the kids to The Rainforest Cafe.  Our friend's children had never been to one before and it was a big hit, air conditioned, with a build in show and lots of things to look at.  Plus no one cares if the kids get a little boisterous.


My husband is a physical chemist so he really enjoys science museums and the Hill County Science Mill is a real gem.  We were there on a quiet weekday and it wasn't very crowded.  The kids could all really enjoy all the hands exhibits and use them to their hearts content.  There were lots of interactive displays too.  The Lady Bird Lane Cafe is attached and this small farm to table restaurant delivers some surprisingly sophisticated eats, not your normal kids museum fare at all.


Speaking of food, my husband really wanted to try BBQ while in TX.  Our hosts were kind enough to watch the kids so we could escape for dinner at The Salt Lick.  I'm so glad we went, it was really cool to try Texas BBQ as I'm more used to pulled pork and Georgia style BBQ.  The sausage was soooo good and I really loved the sides, which are more vinegar based that cream.

I also went for a yummy Mexican lunch with my friend on our last afternoon there.  Brad stayed with all seven of the kids back at their house while we got away for four hours!


Another cool day trip we took that was a hit with all the kids was going to the Austin Zoo.  This one is a little different from your typical zoo because it's has a lot of rescue animals, including a surprising number of exotic ones.  We saw tigers, lions, and bears.  All of which, made we wonder about just who would ever think these would make good pets!  This deer was a lot tamer, but it represents a big moment for my daughter as she normally is too timid to feed animals from the hand.  Her normal thing is to throw the feed in their general direction.  This time she was brave enough to feed this sweet one and I loved seeing the interaction.


All too soon our week in Austin flew by and we were back on the road home.  But not without a stop in Dallas for...The American Girl Store!  My daughter really wants a Samantha doll for her birthday so we agreed to get her one if she'd forgo a big friend birthday party.  She's still going to have a couple friends sleepover, so she's not too deprived.


Our big stop on the way home was to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home in Missouri.  There's a bit of a running joke about this place.  We've driven near it a few times, since my husband used to have Grandparents in MO, and I asked to stop.  He kind of zoomed by the exit playfully.  A few miles down the road I was like, "I was serious!"  He thought I was joking, since he didn't really even know who Laura Ingalls Wilder was! I know, can you imagine not knowing about the author of the Little House books?!

This time he very nicely planned a detour so we could head over and tour the houses.  We had good timing to as we arrived shortly before a tour.  My daughter enjoyed as much as I did because she enjoys historical places.  The three year old, liked it about as much as any three year old would.

We've been back for a little over a week and have been enjoying days of laying around with nothing to do.  We like to start off the summer with a week of doing very little, so heading off to TX the very day school ended was a big departure from the norm for us.

That's our summer so far, is yours off to a good start?

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Birchbox May 2015:Cupcakes and Cashmere

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I've been meaning to share what I got in my Birchbox, but somehow almost the entire month is gone and I never got around to it!  The May box was curated by Emily from Cupcakes and Cashmere, and while I'm not sure what exactly that means - perhaps she picked the samples that were pulled from to make up all the various box combinations?  What I do know, is that I really like what I got!


To be honest, at first glance the box looked a little light.  Especially since two of the samples came inside the pillow box.  But after a closer examination, I realized I got samples that I am really excited about.  Plus...there are NO shampoo or conditioner samples, YES!  I clicked on my profile and unchecked every.single.hair description.  Hope that will prevent them from coming in my box for at least a few months!


I did get one hair related sample, but it's the one I selected.  I do like hair styling products and have really liked all the hair oils I've tried so far. I've heard really good things about Macadamia Professional, and this sample of their Nourishing Moisture Oil Treatment will last me a long time.  It works really well too, worthy of all the hype in my opinion!


I don't know quite what to think about the various kinds of water sprays.  While I'm intrigued by Smashbox's Cosmetics Photo Finish Primer Water is it just mainly water?  I mean most water sprays like this one, say things are added, in this case it's electrolytes, and Smashbox says that during the production process it's passed through positive energy fields too.  But is this all enough to justify paying $32 for 3.9oz?  I mean, that's some expensive water!  While doing some online searching for the ingredients, I found this interesting discussion.

It's supposed to help prime the face for makeup and help it stay in place.  When I used it, I definitely smelled a faint scent, it was pleasant.  I didn't notice a real difference in my make up application or wear time.  I do think that it would be refreshing to spritz on during the course of a hot day, but so would some regular ol' water from the fridge.  Still a cool sample to get and try.


I am really enjoying this Marcelle Hydra-C 24H Energizing Hydrating Gel.  While the sample looks small in my hand, a little big goes a long way and I did feel like my skin was more hydrated when I used it.  It certainly felt more so vs using my regular moisturizer.  It's nice and light going on and absorbs quickly.  It doesn't have SPF so I'm undecided about switching over to using it full time.


My opinion of Coastal Scents would be better if they'd package their samples in a nicer manner.  I got one of their samplers before, last June.  While the eyeshadows from their Revelaed 3 Palette are nice, I plan to pass this along to a friend.

As I know from past experience, these will make a big mess when being used and I don't feel like getting fall out all over my makeup bag again.  Mess aside, this is a nicely sized sample to receive and I know my friends' teen aged daughters will be very excited to get this. The shadows themselves are nice quality and they'll have fun playing around with them.


This Yogini perfume sample was the only one that was a bit of a miss for me.  Described as: The light, clean fragrance features top notes of purifying sandalwood, refreshing grapefruit, and sensual Egyptian myrrh. Subtle cues of golden amber, incense, and star jasmine turn each spritz into a mini aromatherapy break.  

I'm trying to expand my fragrances from straight up citrus and thought this sounded promising since it's supposed to be light and clean.  It's okay, but feels like a fall scent to me.  I'll put it aside for the summer and break it out when the kids go back to school.  I like it enough to finish the sample.

That was May!  I've already selected my June sample - it's sun care related, and am excited to get some summery samples!

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