Monday, April 27, 2015

Birchbox Upgraded Beta Box Review: April 2015, Featuring Rifle Paper Co.

*Referral Link Included

This month's Birchbox was extra fabulous, because the print was designed by Rifle Paper Co.!  Even though the curated boxes were AMC's hit television show Mad Men themed, and had pretty fabulous contents, I already knew I wouldn't be getting one.  I HAD to get this pretty box, which will be perfect for repurposing as cute storage.

Turns out, since I decided to give the upgraded beta box a try, I couldn't have opted for a curated box anyway.  It's not an option when you get this new option Birchbox is trying out.  The upgraded beta box is an extra $20 a month, for a total of $30 a month ($10 month to month charge + $20 upgraded fee).  For the additional cost, you receive two full size products.  The extra products did make this a really full box!

Yet more shampoo & conditioner samples, BOO!  At this point, I've received so many samples like these that they could be the best ever and I would still be over it.  I unchecked every single hair description on my profile so fingers crossed I don't get more next month.  I recently went through an used up all of my samples, which resulted in a rather itchy scalp due to too much switching around.  I went out and bought new super sized Redken Clear Moisture products at my saloon and things have since returned to normal.

I was excited to see a Jouer sample of their Tint in Petal.   It's really sheer and buildable, but not a good lip color for my coloring.  On the cheeks it was a little drying so I'm glad I got to try it, but it's not something I would purchase.

Even though upgraded beta box subscribers don't have the option to select the monthly curated box, I did still get to pick one of my samples.  This is what I choose, a very pretty trio of eye shadows from the POP Portfolio Eyeshadow Palette.  The colors are shimmery but neutral so I think I'll get good use out of it.

One of the first Birchbox finds I actually purchased was by Paula’s Choice and I like the brand a lot.  This is the RESIST 25% Vitamin C Spot Treatment and it's meant to brighten skin tone and banish brown spots.  I would LOVE for this to work, and hoped it would be amazing, since the full size is $55 I was hoping to be really impressed.  The sample is just so small though, and with a week's use and not seeing much difference...

UPGRADED BETA BOX  FULL SIZE PRODUCT: Oh yay, mascara...said almost no subscriber ever.  I have so many mascara samples that even though it's one of my most used products, it will be quite sometime before I can go through them all.  On the plus side this Back in Black High Performance Mascara by Lord & Berry (listed as $23 but only available on Birchbox in a set) does recoup the upgraded price, in theory.

In reality, I would never spend $23 on a mascara, mainly because I think this kind of product is one thing drug store brands do really well.  Also, since you need to switch them out pretty frequently to avoid eye infections this is one spot in your beauty routine it's nice to save.

I do have a high end favorite that I do think is worth the money, Tarte's Lights, Camera, Lashes and this does not replace it.  It is however, a nice mascara.  I like the small brush for getting into my short stubby lashes.  I'll enjoy using it, since I have it.

UPGRADED BETA BOX  FULL SIZE PRODUCT:  I'm such a nail polish junkie and I love trying different brands.  This one I'd never heard of and wow did the bottle immediately grab my attention!  The Smith & Cult Nailed Lacquer - She Said Yeah ($18) is in such a beautiful bottle!  It's looks and feels like a luxury product, but upon closer look there are some drawbacks to it's gorgeous appearance.

For one, the design is pretty impractical.  The silver top is too bulky and unwieldy to leave on while polishing, I did give it a try just to see, but it was so large it completely blocked my view of my nails.  Good thing it comes off and there is a little black cap underneath.  However, this is small and since I'm used to an OPI bottle top to grasp - something similar, I could never quite get comfortable holding it.  

The bottle itself is nice thick glass but so short and wide, I have doubts as to if it would easy to get polish on the brush once the level begins to dip.  No, I have not ever finished a bottle of polish but for $18 I want to feel like I could, without having to pick it up to tip it around during application.

The polish itself went on so sheer and streaky for the first coat that I was immediately thinking this wasn't a good sign.  But the second coat I applied a little thicker and it went on beautifully, leveling things out, and fixing things on all but two of my nails.  I could see a faint bit of visible nail line on those but all in all, the formula was good and if the price point was lower and the bottle a little different, I would consider buying more.

I have to confess, I've already called to downgrade my subscription back to the $10 monthly charge.  I just wouldn't have spent $10 on each of the extra item so I didn't find it to be a good enough value for me personally.  While the polish is a beautiful color and the mascara fairly nice, I would rather take $20 and choose my own products to add to my collection or try a subscription service like Glossybox ($21 a month).

This may have also been a bad month to have as my first month for the beta box, because the Birchbox Plus items were also of high interest for me.  These are a preselected items you can add on to your box each month for a discount.  I am not usually tempted by them but I did once add a Ruffian set.

In April, you could add on either a Rifle Paper Co. tote bag for $28 or a set with Rifle Paper Co. notebooks and a cold drink tumbler for $20.  I REALLY wanted to order one of them but because of the already increased base price of my box, I had to restrain myself.  That plus not being able to select future curated boxes and not loving the full sized items just made this not for me.  What do you think of the upgraded beta box?


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Julep Maven: April 2015, The Paradise Collection

*Referral Link Included

Last year, the April 2014 Vivid collection was my favorite and I sort of regretted not getting more of it.  This April, Julep once again did a bright collection and I decided to splurge and get a few add ons with the Jules (Julep's reward program) that I had.  When my box arrived, everything was so colorful and happy looking!  These colors were just what I needed to perk me up when the tail end of wintry weather hit Michigan.

I selected a different style profile that my default and got two Bombshell colors but mainly for this gorgeous fuchsia creme called Drew.

I was also really drawn to Cassidy, which is described as a Bondi blue crème.  I'm not sure what Bondi means, but I do know this will be perfect for summer!

The third non-nail polish item for April is this brow powder with built in angle brush called, Don't Leave Your Brows at Home.  I don't like ordering this kind of product on line, as I find it can be hard to pick the correct shade.  My brows are so non-existent, it's hard for any kind of make up to not look really noticeable.  I need to play around a bit more with this, but as far as make up products go, I'm more in the market for something like this than the highlighter or mascara that Julep has done previously.

Now let's get to add ons!  I haven't ever been able to find a good yellow to add to my collection.  I don't really need one with a super good formula or even very much as I really only need it for nail art.  Addison is a happy sunny color and "free" with point redemption so I decided to give it a go.  Like I mentioned, I don't plan to wear it as a full mani so I was satisfied with the swatch I did of this color, although the reviews on the website seem to lean more to dissatisfied, so if you're considering picking up this polish you might want to skip it.

My other polish add on was this tangerine burst crème called Jenna.  This is ORANGE, really bright and exactly what I expected.  Again, this is something I got for nail art so I'm pretty happy.

The third add on I got was the little nail decals shown in the top and very bottom photos.  I've been enjoying the ease of using the decals I've previously received and using them to give my accent nail a little something extra.

Because I got three add ons this month, I also got a free gift!  I love a good lippie so this lip gloss in Vivid was a fun bonus to get.  It's a more of a fall/winter shade but pretty and something I'd totally pick out for myself.

That's it, what came in my little box of nail goodness this month!  I was very happy with it and if you'd like to sign up for Julep, I hope you'll consider using my referral link :)


Friday, April 3, 2015

Project Life: July 2014 Birthday Celebrations

July is birthday central around here!  We have four birthdays in our family and one of my best friend's is in July too.  That means a lot of events to cover, too many pictures, and lots of Project Life spreads!  Actually, I'd rather have too many photos than not enough.  Each one really does help jog my memory and remind me of the little moments from the day.

Birthday festivities began with my husband's birthday, shown in July Part 1, and continue with my daughter's 8th.  She had a low key day but we still made it special.  She also had a Not Quite a Sleepover party with several of her friends, but I'm not sharing those pages because I'd had to cover the faces of most of her friends.  She had plenty of eighth birthday fun!

When we celebrated all the July birthdays as a family, one of the big moments was our three year old getting his first big boy bike.  He's in love with it, especially because it's Cars themed.  He does really well on it, in fact, just a week ago on the first warmish day he climbed on and was able to ride it all by himself most of the way down the street.  A special gift like this, deserved it's own page!

Since the dates of my kids' birthdays are just a week apart, we have been having a combined family celebration and plan to do so for as long as we can get away with it.  My daughter doesn't object to the theme being more of my son's choice because she has her own friend party too.

Between the bike half and a party details page, is an insert with both of the kids' sign in pages.  Just my daughter's is shown above.  We have each of the guest sign and write a message on it and it serves as a nice way to record who was there and preserve the handwriting of various family members as well.  I blurred out some details for privacy, but each sign in includes each child's name and age, plus the year.

The other half spread show some detail photos.  My son was, is all about John Deere everything.  When we realized we could buy the cutest cake all decorated and with a mini tractor on it, my daughter said we had to go with that!  We used pink and green as our main colors so she was still happy that it was a little girly.

There are lots of cool ideas on Pinterest to help theme out your party!  This pin helped me figure out how to decorate the tables.  I got the idea for the cute food names like hay bales for rice krispy treats and spare tires for chocolate covered donuts, from here.  I edited this free printable and also made my own for my daughter to make banners.  Some more signs I made using clip art found online, got popped into my favorite Ikea Tolsby frames and I kept a few to add in one of the pockets.

This full spread has more favorite pictures from the party, mostly group photos and I made sure everyone there was shown at least once.  One of my goals is to not be a letter sticker horder, so I used lots spell out the sur names of our family and friends on various photos, blurred for online sharing.  Details were added to the 4X6 after photographing.  The free printable food sign I included in a pocket are from here.

This next page and insert focuses on my daughter.  I let her look through the photos I took that day and select which ones she wanted to include.

As is always the case, it seems once you have kids, Brad's birthday was regulated to the end of the day, but I did include a few.  My mom's birthday was technically part of the day too, but we had already gone to the beach for hers earlier so I just included her throughout the birthday spreads instead of dedicating one to her.

After the insert is a page about my son and the reason why everything was yellow and green!  I made the B shirt for him, and even though the sewing is wonky I'm pretty proud of it.  It took several trips all around town to find the right combination of fabric and colored shirt.

That's the end to our extended family and friends celebration!

But the birthdays weren't quite over yet!  On my son's actual third birthday my husband took the day off and we went to one of the little guy's favorite places.  Car, farm equipment, trains...under one roof?  Yep, he's all in!

I ended up with a lot of photos from the aviation exhibit so I included part of the map on this spread and then just numbered each photo to make journaling a bit easier.

On the back half of the insert and the following Design A page protector I put my favorite pictures from gift opening back at our house.  And summer birthdays are done, at least until next year!

On the birthday pages, I used a lot the Birthday Sn@p collection by Simple Stories: 4X6, 3X4, Stickers, and Insta Squares.   It's officially retired but you can still find pieces of at the craft stores, like Michaels, Joann's, and Hobby Lobby.  I've seen it at all three, and recently so if you can probably still pick up pieces if you like the bright colors and it's gender neutral flexibility.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sweet Stamp Shop: On Cherry Street Kits

My birthday was last month and one of the presents my parents generously gifted me with was some stamps and goodies from Sweet Stamp Shop.  Besides the planner stamps, I shared yesterday, they also got me two of the now discontinued On Cherry Street kits.  There were a steal since, they were marked down to the price of the stamp set and basically everything else was free.

These are from the Magical Kit.  Guess what?  The crown stamp fit perfectly inside the crown wood veneer!  The "This" stamp inside the circle.  I am beyond excited to use these!

I'm loving the gems on the "Enjoy" card, plus the stars card, plus the magical frame...these are perfect for a holiday to that certain magical kingdom but also lots of other things and I love the colors.

The only downside I see to these kits is that the cards are printed on glossy paper.  That makes it a little harder to write on them, without the ink smearing.

Besides the 3X4 cards in the previous pictures, you also get a few 4X6 for a very nicely rounded kit.  Even at the full price of $15.95 it was priced very nicely, but of course, I liked the clearance price even better. These On Cherry Street kits were kind of an impulse addition to the order but I'm so glad I got them!

My parents also got me the Ahoy Kit, and while I liked the stamp set from the Magical kit, I love this one.  The sentiments are one I can use over and over, such as Read This, Shopped Here, Ate This, etc.  Plus how stinkin' cute are the watermelon slice and Popsicle with the smiley face, and you know arrows are always useful!

Here's a look at the bonus cut out 3X4, a die cut frame, and some of the 4X6 cards.

Isn't the Explore More card cute?  I'm sure these will be popping up on my Project Life layouts next summer!  These would also have been great to use when documenting our Disney Cruise, I may add a few pages in my son's First Year Album and if so, I will be using these there for sure.

And here are the 3X4 cards, ignore the rip on the shark Help Me card, my little guy was a little too excited to get a look at my scrappy goodies and tore it.  No worries, I'll probably use one of the cute wood circles with an arrow stamped on it, to cover that right up!

I'm sorry to be sharing somethings that might not be available anymore, but as most of us are, I was excited to share my cool new things to play with!  Plus, I'm hoping that in the future Sweet Stamp Shop might begin offering these again.  I really like the configurations of the kits, and that the contents are being made in America.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sweet Stamp Shop - Planner & Food Stamp Sets

I think just about everyone in the paper crafting community has jumped on the planner bandwagon, including it would seem, me!  Actually, it's probably more of a return for me.  I remember being especially attached to a purple Franklin Covey binder.  Then once I was teaching, using my lesson plan book to record all my appointments, etc. besides just what activities would be available during center time.

This time around planner love is even more fun, because there are more option than ever before.  Whatever style or colors you adore, chances are there is a product or two or ten that are perfect. Right now, I'm still in the mist of planner indecision and actually using three different ones in addition to my iPhone.

I have the prettiest compact Katie Daisy planner.  I'm using that to record a quick memory or two in daily, mainly quick antidotes about the kids.  The illustration inside are what makes this a total treat for the eyes and it's filled with uplifting sentiments as well.  I love that it will be a beautiful keepsakes to look back over in the years to come.

Then I recently scored a gorgeous Lily Pulitzer Agenda at one of their stores for half off, because it started in August 2014 and was February 2015 when I bought it.  I'm using that for person projects that don't affect my whole family, like recording my 30 Days of Lists and Listers Gotta List.  It is also just lovely inside, so if you are into decorating your planner, you might find there isn't too much left to do.

Then, I've got my Sugar Paper planner for everyday use, here is an in depth overview of it.  That is the planner I've taken a couple of pictures inside of, so you can see the stamps I'm going to share, in action.  My parents helped enable my paper addiction by gifting these to me for my birthday last month.  Thanks again Mom & Dad, you always know exactly what I want most!

Since I am by no means an expert stamper, I'm also using it to practice using the right amount of pressure to get the cleanest image.   As you can see above, I'm also working on comparing inks.  The top eye glasses, eye, and appointment are done in ek tools black dye based ink and I don't recommend that it.  The bottom plate and silverware + lunch are all in a ColorBox black, and made a much more crisp and vibrant image.

Below the clock and coffee cup are both stamped in Tsukineko Dew Drop Ink and those are my favorites because the size is smaller and perfect for small stamps like these.

First of all, some quick details about Sweet Stamp Shop.  Each of these sets comes on a plastic sheet approximately 2 inches in width and 5.75 inches in length.  Some of the stamps, especially the words are quite small, making them perfect for even the smallest planners.  Second, the stamps are made in the US and the packaging is made in San Diego.  Third, it's sounds like a pretty small operation with sets still being hand assembled.  All things I really like, as I've always thought supporting small businesses is important!  Plus, it makes me feel like I'm supporting someone's dream, and who doesn't like to do that!

These two sets I got with general day to day planning in mind.  The cute little icons really make your calendar grid cuter, and the small words help keep it looking neat and tidy.  There's a great range of things to represent many common events and appointments.  I think these will be heavily used!

Once I decided to jump fully into the planner world, I wanted to add a few more specialty sets to my collection.  I think Plan to Eat might even be more of a basic set that's more of a necessity than extra.  After all, we all eat and need a cute way to write down dinner plans with friends!

That one and the next fitness themed set go hand in hand for me.  I'm trying to get more serious about taking care of myself and getting a better handle on managing my Type II Diabetes.  (I'm doing pretty good but could always do better!)  I wanted this one because, I'm much more likely to do something if it's in my planner, because I hate seeing something written down but not done.  Since I'm also very visual, I'm finding that even after just a few weeks, the cuteness factor really does help motivate me.

The last two sets can probably be considered fun extras, but yes, I totally "needed" the Foodie set.  I got the Take Out set because we eat Chinese food, surprisingly often.  My daughter's favorites include Panda Express, a Steam Tray place at the mall, PF Changs, and so on so, I'm pretty sure we'll get ample use out of this one!

I'm really pleased with these stamps!  I think they'll be useful in not just my planner, but also my Project Life pages and other assorted paper crafting projects.  With the right ink pads they perform extremely well, even with such little and detailed images.  I'll be watching their new releases and adding to my wish list, I'm sure!  I'm also enjoying their blog a lot too.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

  © Blog Design by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates

Back to TOP