Powell’s Indiespensable Review – The Great Glass Sea

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It’s that time again! Another Powell’s Indiespensable shipment arrived.  It’s seriously my favorite subscription, and I look forward to it every single time. For me, the best part is that you always know what book you’re getting, but you never know what each shipment’s extras will be. It’s the best of both worlds. Knowing what the month’s selection is satisfies my spoiler cravings, but the extras always leaves a bit of suspense and surprise when I finally open up the package!  So fun 🙂

You all know that I love Powell’s, and I’m not at all kidding or exaggerating when I say that it’s like Disneyland for me – the happiest place on earth. I live too far away now, and can’t just walk down the street to visit like I used to (sad face), but this subscription still allows me my Powell’s fix without adding a $400 flight to the expense.

Powell’s offers a subscription book service called Indiespensable, and it was the first “subscription” box that I ever subscribed to.  I put “subscription” in quotes because though this box is auto billing and recurring, it isn’t on a monthly basis. New Indiespensable boxes are released roughly every six weeks. And believe me, the wait in between shipments is the longest six weeks ever!

Indiespensable delivers the best new books, with special attention paid to independent publishers. Selections are often first editions, or inventive sets, or exclusive printings, and each book is signed by the author! Besides the super awesome book that you get, one of the coolest things about this service is that Powell’s also curates a number of surprises, often along the theme of the book, to include in the shipment.

Here is what I received in my most recent Indiespensable shipment.

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The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil- I’ve never read anything by this author, but am excited to dive into this book. This was the main book for the box. It was hardback, was housed in a custom canvas slip case, and was signed by the author.

Powell’s Literature Nalgene Bottle – I love Nalgene bottles, they’re nearly indestructible (seriously, I have another one, and I’ve been using it since college in 2002 and it’s still going strong), and BPA Free. Plus, this one is super cute since it’s literature themed.

A selection of teas from Mighty LeafTea – I was intrigued to see an item from San Francisco. Typically, these shipments include extras from Oregon based companies. But, I was pleased to see them branching out to other non-local independent businesses. I wasn’t as excited about the flavors of tea I received, but I’ll try them out nonetheless.

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Here are the details if you’d like to subscribe:

What: Powell’s Indiespensable

Cost: $39.95 per shipment, includes shipping if shipped within the United States. Subscribers outside the continental U.S., should add $12 per package for shipping.

I can’t stress enough how much I love getting this box. The folks over at Powell’s really know what they’re doing, and I always trust that even though the selections and authors may be new to me, that I will always enjoy the selections. The curation of the boxes is always top-notch as well.

Past Indiespensable boxes have included books by Donna Tartt, Karen Thompson Walker, Jeffrey Eugenides, Erin Morgenstern, and Ann Patchett. Here is a list of all their past installments.

Have you ever been to Powell’s Books? Are you subscribed to Indiespensable? Do you love it as much as I do?

 

 

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July 2014 Birchbox Review

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I’ve been subscribing to Birchbox for over a year now, and it is hands down one of my favorite subscription boxes. I’ve found some really great products that I use every day, that I otherwise wouldn’t have ever tried without sampling them first.

Birchbox was kind of the pioneer when it comes to the subscription box trend. It is only $10 a month and they send you 5-8 (usually sample size) products to try out. If you end up loving the sample, you can purchase the full size version in their shop. They also have a crazy good points system so you can rack up credit for significant discounts. It’s an auto renewing subscription which you pay monthly for, or pay for a full year at once (for a discount). You can also cancel any time.

July’s Theme was “Power Up.” Birchbox partnered with Women’s Health Magazine to curate a box full of ideas and ways to power up your month. It included a fun little booklet of 12 Power Up Challenges that will inspire you to maximize your workouts, sleep, and everything in between.

Here’s what I received in my July 2014 Birchbox.

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Here’s the Item Card:

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Ruffian The Rapture Collection in Ambrosia –  Streak-free metallic polish. This was the item that I selected myself this month, so I already knew that I would like it.  I love, love, love the pretty purple metallic shade. I also really like Ruffian polishes. They give great coverage, even with just one coat, and last for a while. As a bonus with the polish, they also included an acetone-free towelette to remove polish.July2014_Birchbox_product3

Harvey Prince Singular Scentsations Imperial Gardenia – A scent focusing on a single fragrance, in this case Gardenia. I didn’t love this scent, it just wasn’t for me. Though if you like the smell of gardenias, I’m sure you’ll love it.

Ofra Universal Eyebrow Pencil – Water-resistant, universally flattering pencil that glides on for long-lasting definition. I don’t really use eyebrow pencils, plus this shade was actually a little light for me. I’ll probably give this to a friend who will find better use out of it.July2014_Birchbox_product2

Supergoop! Advanced SPF 37 Anti-Aging Eye Cream – A peptide-packed antiaging cream instantly brightens eyes and protects with SPF 37. I don’t usually use eye cream that includes SPF. I’m excited to try it out.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer – An organic hydrator using fruit stem cells to firm as it smooths fine lines and wrinkles. I haven’t tried this yet, but am interested to see if it performs any differently than the many other moisturizers I’ve tried.

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Lastly, the Power Up July Birchbox included a free 1-year subscription to Women’s Health Magazine. Typically, I would have been excited to receive a free subscription, but I actually got a free subscription to this magazine last month in a different box. I was happy to see that there is a refund option, where you will receive $9.99 back if you don’t need or want the magazine. That basically makes this box free!

So, what did you think of the July Birchbox? What products did you receive?

July 2014 Ipsy Review

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I’m relatively new to Ipsy, as I’ve only been subscribing for a few months. I gave them a shot for the same reason that I tried Birchbox…I wanted to try new products that I wouldn’t otherwise have tried or even known about.

Ipsy, like Birchbox, is only $10 a month and they send you around 5 (usually sample size) products packaged inside of a unique travel sized makeup bag (the Glam Bag). You can also review the products you sample for Ipsy Points which can be redeemed for bonus items in your Glam Bag. It’s an auto renewing subscription which you pay monthly for. You can also cancel any time.

Here’s what I received in my July 2014 Ipsy Glam Bag. I received five products + the bag. And, I thought this month’s bag was super cute!Ipsy_July2014_1


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July’s theme was “Sensationally Sun Kissed,” so clearly it was going to be a summer themed shipment.

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POP Beauty Sunkissed Bronzer –  I was actually really happy to receive a bronzer. I was hoping to get one in either my Ipsy or my Birchbox. I’ve been wanting to try one out for a while, but as a bronzer virgin, I didn’t want to splurge on full size just to get home and realize that I a) wouldn’t wear it, or b) couldn’t figure out how to apply it. I think I lucked out on the particular shade I got, as it seems to work well for my skin tone. Haven’t tried it yet, but from what I can tell there are a ton of online Youtube videos on how to properly apply. I’m planning to watch a few first.

Mini Tinted Brilliance Balm by Pixi –  It’s a glossy gel balm, that’s supposed to protect and hydrate lips. What’s interesting is that after the balm wears off, lips are left tinted with a flattering, personalized hue because the color & intensity depends on the pH level your lips.

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Soy Renewal Beach Conditioning and Texturizing Spray by Sexy Hair – I totally get why I received this. It’s definitely on trend for summer, and it’s certainly not the first beach texturizing hair spray I’ve seen or received recently. But these types of products serve no purpose for me. I have super curly hair, and this just does not work for me. It will likely be traded.

Hang Ten Dark Tanning Oil SPF 08 –  I was really disappointed to receive this. On the rare occasion that I do lay out in the sun (like on a Mexican vacation or something) you’re far more likely to find me slathering myself in SPF rather than tanning oil. This was a total Ipsy fail for me. It will also be traded.

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bareMinerals 5-in-1 BB Advanced Performance Cream Eyeshadow Broad Spectrum SPF15– At first I wasn’t even sure what this product was, but I quickly figured out it’s just creamy eyeshadow. I was a little confused by how basic and neutral all of the shades seemed to be, but ultimately I like what I received. I’m not sure I’ll be buying a full-sized version, but having never tried cream eyeshadow before I did like it.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this month’s Ipsy Glam Bag. I thought the Glam Bag itself was super adorable, and loved the hot pink with scalloped edges. I can actually see myself using it (which isn’t always the case with the Ipsy bags I receive). I also was pleased to see the bronzer, and liked the cream eyeshadow. I was really unhappy with the texturizing beach hair spray, and the tanning oil. I figure I’ll give Ipsy another month or two, and perhaps revisit my style profile to see if I can tweak it to exclude more of the types of products I didn’t like receiving.

Are you an Ipsy Glam Bag subscriber? What did you receive this month? What did you love (or not)?

July Naturebox Review

I recently re-joined Naturebox after taking about a year off from the snack service. I stopped the first time around because my husband and I just weren’t eating the snacks fast enough, so they were piling up in our cupboard or going uneaten. It was a waste. However, recently, we’ve been trying to eat better, and I’ve been on the lookout for healthy snacking options.

I remembered how much I liked my experience with Naturebox the first time around, and decided to give them a try again. I received my first box a few weeks ago, but wanted to wait to do this review so that we had enough time to try all the snacks so I could actually review them for you.

Here’s my July Naturebox first look. I immediately realized how long it had been, since they had changed their packaging in the meantime. I really like it. It’s much cleaner looking and more inviting than their old packaging.

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Naturebox Subscription details:

What: Deliciously fun, naturally easy, snacks delivered to your door. Every month, you’ll receive 5 full-sized snack packages, delivered. You can choose your snacks or get a surprise box of their newest items. They have about 100 different snacks to choose from every month, and some options are seasonal and rotate in and out of their pantry for selection.

Cost: There are three “snacking options” to choose from. Month to month – $19.95 a month (Auto-renews monthly), 3 months – $17.95 a month – billed up front $53.85 for 3 months (Auto-renews every 3 months, cancellation only after 3 month term is up), and 6 Months – $15.95 a month – billed up front $95.70 for 6 months (Auto-renews every 6 months, cancellation only after 6 month term is up).

Ships to: The U.S. and Canada

Cool factor: For every box they deliver, Naturebox donates one meal through Feeding America® to help the millions of Americans who go hungry.

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Here’s a breakdown of the snacks we tried this time.

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Honey Dijon Pretzels – I made sure these would be included in my first shipment as soon as I noticed them offered on the site. If you give me anything honey mustard flavored I am a happy girl. These pretzels didn’t disappoint. In fact, we devoured them so quickly that I have now set them to “lock” in my Naturebox pantry so that I get them automatically every single month. They are that good.

Sour Cream and Onion Almonds – These were the first snacks from this shipment that we tried. I like to munch on almonds in general, but I really enjoy flavored almonds. These were really good, though I did find myself wishing that they had just a tad more flavor to them. I wouldn’t mind getting these again.

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Toasted Cheddar Stix – These are no longer listed on their website as an available option (so I couldn’t link to it). It’s a bummer, becuase I really liked them. They had a slight sesame flavor, that when mixed with the cheddar was just really good. Hopefully they add these back to the rotation soon.

Vanilla Macaroon Granola – I’ve been eating this in the mornings, sprinkled over fresh fruit (this morning I paired it with nectarines). It makes for a really light, but yummy breakfast.

Naturebox_July_3_FotorLemon Tea Biscuits – These are going to be one of my favorite snacks to get in my box. They’re little mini lemon shortbread style cookies, and they taste fantastic. Best yet, a 12 cookie serving packs only 150 calories!

Poppy Seed Sticks – These were a free surprise gift that they included in my shipment. Coincidently, they are also no longer offered for selection in their pantry. I wonder if Naturebox is fazeing this one out and decided to give away surplus inventory to subscribers.

Overall, I really liked the snacks that we tried this month, and am looking forward to our next box.

Have you tried Naturebox? What are your favorite snacks?

 

July Julep Maven Review

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Julep Maven is a nail polish and beauty box. Every month you have a choice between several curated style profiles or you can customize your box. If you’d like to customize your box, I suggest signing up for a 3 month prepaid subscription! Julep Maven is one of my favorite subscription boxes for a few reasons. Every month they create and release a new line of polish, all built around a theme. I think it’s a great idea. Also, I’m a big fan of the fact that their polish formulas are vegan, and 5-free.

For July, they introduced The Poolside Collection. The tagline for July was “Summer’s not a season, it’s a state of mind.”

Julep Maven July Collection

I’m not all that dareing when it comes to polish colors, expecially for manicures. I typically stick to the basics on my finger nails. But, oh my how great would a lot of these colors look on toes by the poolside?  I really liked this collection. I thought it was a good mix between modern summer classics, and more daring/bright options.

Julep Maven subscription details:

The Cost: $24.99 a month ($19.99 a month with a 3-month subscription). Both options are customizable for new Mavens. I totally recommend the 3-month subscription. That’s what I have, and I love being able to pick exactly what I want, and getting the lowest price.

The Products: Nail polish and beauty items.

Ships to: US and Canada

Here’s the first look inside my July Maven Box. I loved the aqua blue tissue paper, it just reminded me of being poolside…which also reminded me that I need a vacation, lol.

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This month I chose the Modern Beauty box, because I wanted both lotions that were included, and I added on two of the polish colors from the collection as well as a color fan for an additional cost. I went this rout, because after crunching the numbers, adding the polishes came out slightly less costly then if I had chosen to get a polish box and add on the lotions. Does that make sense? Typically, I don’t do add-ons, as the $$ can add up, but this time around I really did want everything I selected.

Here is what I received in my July Julep Maven Box.

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At first glance nothing looked strange. I know that I had maxed out my ad-ons, so I was expecting a free gift of some kind, which I did get in the form of a pretty dark blue, and a white polish (seen in the bottom right corner). However, I noticed that rather large, interesting, lable down box, towards the bottom. “What on earth is that?” I found myself wondering…

You guys!! I opened it up and saw that I had won a pair of Ray-Bans Wayfarer sunglasses!  I completely forgot that they were randomly selecting 150 Julep Maven Subscribers to win a free pair. I don’t ever win things, so this was a really awesome surprise! Not to mention the fact that these sunglasses retail for around $15o (what?!?).

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Seriously, I’ve been wanting new sunglasses, and these are absolutely perfect! I am so excited! And, my birthday is this month, so it is like an early birthday present for me, and who doesn’t love birthday surprises?

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Here is the rest of what I received in this month’s box:

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Bare Body Milk– (Value $24) – From Julep: An ultra hydrating body lotion. The lightweight, fast-absorbing formula leaves a soft, silky finish that’s not heavy or greasy. 

  • I love this lotion. It is a thinner lotion then I am used to, but is definitely lightweight, and absorbes really fast. It smells amazing, and I’m sure I’ll be buying more once I run out.

Mint Condition Pedi Creme – (Value $20) – From Julep: Provides soothing moisture and gentle exfoliation for rough, dry skin

  • I haven’t used this yet, but I’m excited to. My feet need some serious TLC so that they’re flip flop ready for summer.

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I chose the following as ad-ons:

Braiden – (Value $14) – A dark Gray Graphite stardust (textured matte glitter). I really love this polish!

Lissa – (value $14) – A tumbled turquoise crème. It is seriously one of the prettiest shades of polish that I’ve seen. It may be my new favorite for my toes for the summer.

Julep Color Fan – (value $8) – It’s not pictured, but we all know what a color fan looks like. I really needed this. It’s a great way to swatch colors in an easily accessable way. As an add-on to my box, I only paid $4 for it.

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Since I chose to purchase the maximum three add-ons to my box this month, I received a polish duo as a free gift. I got:

Octavia – (value $14) – A smoky indigo crème

Soraphine – (value $14) – A classic sheer white crème

Overall it was an AWESOME Julep Maven Box.

Here are some coupon codes for you to use on your next purchase!  Use code SPRINGPERK to save 30% off your next Julep order (you can use it twice) Exp 7/31. Or use code POLISHPERK to get a free polish with a $15+ order. Also Exp 7/31 and this one you can also use twice.  Lastly you can use code  GOBARE to get 30% off of the Body Milk or Body Polish, through July 31.

If you’re new to Julep Maven, don’t forget to use code FREEBOX to receive your welcome box for free (Pay $4.99 shipping or get free shipping when you sign up for a 3 month subscription).

Are you guys subscribed to Julep Maven? Do you love it? What did you think of your July Julep Maven Box?

Influenster #SurfsUpVoxBox Review

IMG_4586_Fotor For those of you who are unfamiliar with influenster, it’s an online network that’s free to join. And, it’s Awesome! Basically, you fill out surveys and complete reviews to earn and boost your “badge scores” in different areas. My badges, are in Makeup, Dining Out, Travel, Outdoors, and Decorating. It definitely helps to have a social media presence, as posting via social media networks can work wonders to increase your scores. Based on your badge scores and other info like demographics, you may qualify for a “VoxBox.” It’s a completely FREE box of products for you to test and review. How cool is that? I recently received the SurfsUp VoxBox, which is intended for just getting out and enjoying summer. Influenster SurfsUp Vox BoxHere’s a look at the contents of the SurfsUP VoxBox: IMG_4588 IMG_4589_Fotor Jamba Juice Smoothie Kits: $2.99-$3.49 – The idea is that now you can enjoy your favorite Jamba Smoothie anytime, anywhere.

  • Impressions: I love Jamba Juice smoothies, so I was excited to try these out. I tried the Razzmatazz variety. I wanted to try one that I was actually familiar with, so I could more accurately compare it to the version you buy at your local Jamba Juice. This really did taste like the real thing, and was super easy since all I needed to add was apple juice, and blend it on up. I think that I still prefer to go by our local Jamba Juice and purchase a smoothie directly, but if you don’t have a local one conveniently located to you, these make-it-yourself options are great!

IMG_4590_FotorHawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun: $2.99-$8.99 – Refreshes sun-tired skin with soothing aloe gel, it provides 24 hours of luxurious moisturization with refreshing hydrating ribbons, lightweight feel, and a Coconut papaya fragrance.

  • Impressions: This product couldn’t have shown up at a better time for me. The day after I received this box, my husband and I were planning on heading out to Sonoma for a day in the sun. Upon our return home I slathered my sun drenched (and slightly red) shoulders in this lotion. I really liked the non-greasy formula, and the aloe definitely was soothing. Plus, it just smells like summer!

SinfulColors Professional Nail Polish: $1.99 – Bold, vibrant, sexy, unexpected color. It is formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP free and is never animal tested.

  • Impressions: I was super impressed by this polish. Not only by it’s super affordable price tag, but for how smooth it went on. It was a super concentrated blue color, and I really only needed one coat for full coverage. I did add a second, but it really didn’t need it. I’ll definitely be buying more.

IMG_4591_FotorFirst Aid Shot Therapy: $2.99 – FDA compliant liquid pain relief (drinkable) shot. Common uses are for headache/migraine, sore muscles, back pain and hangover headaches.

  • Impressions: This is something that I had never heard of before, and it is admittedly a weird idea to me. I haven’t actually used it yet, but I haven’t had a reason to either. It is tucked nicely in my medicine cabinet waiting for that opportunity to test it out. I’ll be sure to let you know what I think once I actually try it.

COVERGIRL Bombshell Curvaceous by LashBlast Mascara: $9.49-$11.99 – This is a new COVERGIRL mascara that features a two brush system. The first step loads on the volume, thickens and curls lashes; and the second step is a dark, intensifying topcoat that seals the look for bolder more noticeable lashes.

  • Impressions: I’m actually pretty particular about the mascara I use. There are so many different options out there that once I find one I like I stick to it. I didn’t actually have high hopes for this, as a two-step system just seemed like too much work. When I used it, I didn’t actually see much effect from step one. That may be because my lashes are already pretty long and curl pretty naturally on their own. The second step did add some great darkening color to my lashes. Lastly, I did find this mascara a bit difficult to apply. I attribute this to the fact that since it is double ended, the length of each wand is actually shorter than your normal mascara wand. Overall, the product works fine, but I don’t see myself switching to this mascara.

Overall impressions of the SurfsUp VoxBox? I thought this was a great box to get, and so far I have had a great experience with Influenster. I found a few products that I really like, and probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise. The value of this box was pretty awesome too. The #SurfsUpVoxBox contains about $28.00 worth of products and coupons, and it was completely free! Are you on Influenster? Have you received a VoxBox yet? Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary for testing purposes from influenster. All opinions are my own.