Birchbox December

Been a while since I was able to do a post like this! Man I love this phone. I’d rather post more with phone pictures, right? Especially since my camera blows.

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Please ignore my messy living room and just focus on the prettied-up box. I love reusing my boxen, so I’m super excited and I haven’t even opened the box!

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Look, a full size lip gloss! With a little mirror! It’s Berry Pink by ModelCo, and it smells like strawberries. Very nice indeed.

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The fragrance this month is Mad Madame by Juliette Has A Gun. (I am dying for the day that Birchbox gets some BPAL.) This scent is rich and sophisticated. Definitely a fan of this one.

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TWO packets of Pillow Soft Curls by Miss Jessie’s. (Come to think of it, I have some other MJ samples around here somewhere.) I don’t really like to do my hair curly but this should still be fun. :)

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Chocolate! This is a salted chocolate crunch bar by Chuao.

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Om nom nom. And only 50 calories! It seems to have a fruity undertone. Very nice indeed.

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This is a two-in-one cleanser and makeup remover by Nuxe. It’s a medium-thick gel and smells a lot like honey. Maybe I didn’t use it right (instructions might be nice) but it had trouble taking off my plain eye crayon and blinc mascara (which is designed to remove easily with just water soooooo).

Finally, here’s a little bonus: I’ve got a promo code for 50$ off a dress rental at Renttherunway.com. I’m hoping to find an excuse to use it. :)

Man, I just love the monthly excuse to pamper myself. :)

August Birchbox!

I was again lucky enough to get a late-shipping box, and it didn’t actually arrive until last Friday, when I was away on vacation. So I had a nice surprise waiting for me when I got home!
This is a great month to buy from Birchbox if you’ve had your eye on something. They’ve partnered up with Pencils of Promise, to donate 15% of their shop proceeds to build a school in Central America. So go ahead and pamper yourself!
I’m not particularly in love with anything in this month’s box – none of it was bad, but none of it was particularly great either. Let’s get to the goods! (Mediocres?)

This month’s theme was “Beauty School” and included this nice fold out booklet with lots of nifty beauty tips. It details types of makeup brushes, how to read a product label, tips for shaving, quick fixes for makeup mistakes, and a 3-minute plan for morning skin care.

This month’s perfume is Viva La Juicy ‘s La Fleur. It smells nice, very floral obviously. I like it and I’ll probably use it, but I have to be honest – it just smells… typical. Nothing really to distinguish it from any other floral perfume.

This is a teeny tiny sample of Jouer Moisturizing Lip Gloss in “Birchbox Pink.” It feels very soft and … moisturizing … on my lips. Haha. :) I am not a fan of this kind of lippy container (it’s got the fluffy applicator on the end of a stick attached to the lid) because there is SO MUCH wasted in the bottle. This tiny bottle makes it even harder to get any use out of it.

The bonus extra this month is this Schick Hydro Silk 5 blade razor. I haven’t tried it yet because I just shaved the other day and my hair grows really slowly. I’m sure it’s good though. The part I like about it is that it has a coupon on the back for 4$ off a refill pack, and 55c off Skintimate Shave Gel. I love coupons. Unless this razor completely stinks, I’ll be using that coupon, not gonna lie. Razors are expensive.

This is Apothederm’s stretch mark cream. I have a ton of “tiger stripes” on my tummy from pregnancy and I’ve tried several other things. None of them did a damn thing. I’ll be honest again – not expecting anything from this one, and I don’t really even mind. I earned those stripes, dammit. This was different from other stretch mark things I’ve tried, though – this was a cream, while others tend to be oils or gels. It had the old-lady smell though, and not in a good way.

The final items in this month’s box (it’s two items but it was packaged as one which totally feels like a ripoff) are these Shu Uemura Full Shimmer products for color-treated hair. The shampoo was much more liquid-y than most shampoos, but it smelled *excellent.* The “treatment,” which I basically used as conditioner, also smelled good. It wasn’t the texture that I generally need conditioner to be (I have very thick hair and this stuff just didn’t spread well). I don’t really notice any magical difference in my hair, but I did love the smell. I’m not paying what they want for it though, omg. I also want to register my dislike of the packaging. Aside from the 2-for-1 switcheroo, there were no instructions on the packaging! It’s obvious how to use shampoo, but I didn’t know what to do with the “treatment” and had to look it up on Birchbox’s site. Most uncool. (/Sweet Clyde)

So that’s it for this month!

If you don’t know about Birchbox, you may not know that they have a cool points program. I earned a bunch of points for my one-year subscription, and earn 10 points for each item that I leave feedback for each month. (If anybody signs up from this referral link, I get 50 points.) These points can be redeemed in the Birchbox shop – you get 10$ for every 100 points. I’ve been hoarding points and soon I’ll cash them in. What do you think I should cash in for?

Target Summer Beauty Bag

I’m a delinquent. Haha. I received this wayyy back in the beginning of June and am just now getting around to posting it. I’ve been entering lots of sample giveaways lately so if you readers are interested I can try to blog them more.

Apparently this is a regular thing they do over at the Target Style facebook page. My bestie got a spring bag, and we both got a summer bag! I definitely recommend that you “like” them and keep your eyes peeled if you want to score one!

This is the bag that came with it. It’s just my style. I switched it out almost immediately to carry in my purse. It’s a little padded to protect the contents, and a good size – not too big and not too small.

Let me start with my *favorite* part of the bag – a pair of Tresemme Split Remedy samples (shampoo and conditioner). I *really* loved the shampoo – it was nice and thick and foamy and luxurious, just like the kind they use at the salon. I can’t attest to whether it healed my split ends, but I did LOVE this stuff. I already bought a full-size!

Here’s the other shampoo/conditioner – Garnier Fructis Color Shield. I’ve tried and liked Garnier in the past, but I haven’t actually tried this sample yet – I’m waiting until next month when I dye my hair. :)

I’ve had this stuff in my shower for weeks but I feel like I’m still unfamiliar with it. This Aveeno Smart Balance scrub smells nice but … I guess it just doesn’t stand out? I can’t really think of anything else to say about it.

On the other hand, this Neutrogena sunscreen, I have a lot to say about it! I kept it in my crafting box for a week for outdoor crafting excursions. It was smooth and easy to apply and very effective. No burns here! I actually used all of it and threw the bottle out and now I can’t recall the full name of it! (Stupid too-bright photo…)

The last product I got was this sample of Revlon ColorBurt lip gloss. This specific color wasn’t exactly my style (it was a bit too pink for me), but I liked the texture, smell, and even taste of it (it wasn’t waxy like some others). There was about 2 applications in here.

And the best part? COUPONS. Excellent coupons, including this one for 3$ off a Revlon product. They don’t expire until the end of August, and they’re all pretty high value. There were a lot in there, one for each of the products in the bag and several others as well. And best of ALL – Target’s coupon policy lets you pair up one Target coupon and one manufacturer’s coupon on any item you buy. There is one in here for 3$ off 2 Cover Girl products, which I am pairing next time I go shopping with a 2$ off 2 Cover Girl products coupon from the manufacturer (obtained from the P&G BrandSaver) to score a whopping 5$ off.

I’m not being compensated in any way for this post. I’m just sharing my thoughts. Hope you enjoyed them!

Do you like free samples? Do you use coupons? Let’s talk about freebies!

July Birchbox

I didn’t forget about this! I got another of the last-day-of-shipping boxes, and I am pretty satisfied this month. Let’s get right into it!

The standout item this month is probably these awesome headphones. They came at a good time, since my hubby just lost his. Neither of us has tried these yet, but I have every reason to think they’ll be great. If you’re looking for new ones, these are only 10$!

Next up, blinc mascara. I liked the cool outer tube because I can re-use it, but I must register my dislike of extra and unnecessary packaging. In any case, I really liked the product. I have very sparse eyelashes, very short and very light – in other words, barely there. I have had a hard time finding a mascara that didn’t clump and didn’t goop up while still being effective. This stuff worked really well! The black shade is currently sold out on the shop, so I’m not the only one who liked it!

Another scent! I like getting a perfume in each box. It’s nice. This month’s selection – Hello by Harvey Prince –  was right up my alley. Bright and citrusy, very light and not overpowering at all. Long lasting as well – I’ve been wearing it on one wrist for about 2 hours and can still smell it.

Skin products are another of my favorites. Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint was the skinstuff this month, and I like it. It’s very subtle. I have a blotchiness to my skin so if I’m bothering to put something on, it’s going to be more than this (I like BB creams), but this might be nice for adding a bit of color on top! It was light and not cakey at all, and I can feel a difference in where I put it versus where I didn’t. It comes in multiple shades to suit different skin tones.

Now for a hair product – Alterna Bamboo UV+ color protection fade-proof fluide. It’s designed to help protect color-treated hair, but can also be used to moisturize and strengthen dry or brittle hair. My hair isn’t colored at the moment, but I am saving it for next month when I am coloring it for the Faire, so maybe I’ll remember to get back to you on that. I put a bit of it on my skin to test the texture and I can tell you it’s light and smooth – not oily at all.

Last but not least, a tin of Minteas in Reboot Cocoa Mate flavor. These are little leaf-shaped mints, made with Fair Trade organic white tea (yay!), yerba mate tea, and cocoa (sure wish that the cocoa was FT). They had an interesting taste. There is a mintiness to them, but it’s mild. The cocoa and tea combined to make an interesting flavor, like hot chocolate made with a tea base. (Might try that sometime.) Overall, I liked them! They come in 3 other varieties and I am interested in trying them.

If you like what you see here, consider signing up for your own Birchbox! It comes once a month, packed with great things. I’ve been receiving them for a few months now; you can check out my reviews right here on my blog.

I’ve been crazybusy for the last few weeks, and I’m sorry I haven’t been posting. I have several posts up that I just HAVE to post this week (they’re on a deadline) so hang tight!

Have you tried any new products lately? What’s your favorite beauty product?

June Birchbox

Better a little late than never, right?

I noticed something. Last month, the month that I found so disappointing, my box came very early, before I noticed anybody saying they’d gotten it on Pinterest or Twitter. This month was much better, and it was also one of the last ones – it shipped on the 10th, the last day of shipping. I wonder if that’s relevant, or just coincidence.

Oh, speaking of last month, remember that Dr Jart’s BB cream? IT IS AMAZING. I actually got like 5 uses out of that tiny bottle, and very seriously considered purchasing full size. I decided to try some other brands before I committed to that brand, so now I’ve got a tube of the Garnier offering. Love it too.

So… what did I get this month, you ask?

This is an Eyeko London Skinny Liquid Eyeliner. It actually seems to be full-size, which is straight-up awesome. I am usually a gel-pencil eyeliner girl, personally. I tried liquid liner back when I was a teenager and didn’t like it much – I don’t have very steady hands. I really like this one though! I like the look of the liquid liner, and the style of the tip of this one is easy to control. It’s got a paintbrushy feel to it (but it’s not a brush, it’s a tapered foam tip). Mine is black, but the Shop only seems to have it in Olive and Turquoise right now (both of which look pretty cool too). Definitely will consider buying this.

Apparently there’s a scented product every month, and this time it’s Melvita Floral Water in Rose. I really love the scent – it really does smell exactly like a rose. However, the scent is very light when you put it on; it doesn’t seem to linger at all like a perfume does. I suppose this is meant to be more of a “body spray”? Those are nice too, but I don’t buy body sprays in this price range. It’s lovely, just more than I’d spend on the product. It’s also available in Lavender and Orange Blossom (I’d really like to try that one).

The lifestyle extra this month is “fancy bandaids” (as my daughter is calling them). This is a box of 20 Band-Aids designed by Cynthia Rowley. They’ve all got cool designs on them. I’ve not injured myself since receiving the box, so I haven’t been able to test them out, but I’m sure they’re of good quality. The Shop is selling a package of 40 (20 of these and 20 in a sport pack) for 11$, which seems pretty much like what the plain old beige bandages sell for, so this is a pretty good deal. I’d purchase these.

I’ll admit I was a little dubious about this one – Stainiac by theBalm. It’s a stain designed to be used as lip or cheek color, which seems just a bit weird to me. I got the Beauty Queen color; they have two other color choices. I never ever use cheek color (my cheeks have plenty of natural color – too much, in fact), so I haven’t tried it that way. It was pretty nice on my lips though. I was expecting a dark red color, but it was actually quite pink. It went on smoothly and was not sticky. I don’t think it lasted very long though. I’m a big fan of Cover Girl Outlast lip stain and I don’t think that this measured up to that. I liked the product, but it’s not for me.

Yu-Be moisturizing skin cream has been a top-selling product in Japan for over half a century, so it must be awesome, right? Right. It has no added fragrances or colors and no petrolatum – just a light moisturizing cream. It rubs completely into the skin and doesn’t leave a greasy residue like some creams. I tried it on a patch of dry skin on my hand and saw instant results. The price is excellent as well – I may give this a try the next time I’m in the market for lotion.

Last but not least, I’ve got a cologne sample from the new Birchbox Men service! John Varvatos Star USA is (at this writing) sold out on the Birchbox shop, so I guess we weren’t the only ones that liked it! As a woman, I loved this smell for my husband, and he liked it a lot as well. It’s expensive, like all perfumes and colognes, but not exorbitantly so. We’ll enjoy this sample for date nights and maybe get some in the future.

If you like what you see here, consider trying out a Birchbox subscription of your own! They’re only ten dollars a month, and it’s always fun to see what surprises are in store. I’ve not been compensated in any way for this post, although the link earlier in this paragraph is a referrer link that will earn me some points if you subscribe using it. All opinions are my own. Check out my Health and Beauty category here on the blog to see more Birchbox reviews and other similar things.

Do you have a Birchbox subscription? How did you like it this month? If you’ve tried any of these products, what did you think of them? Did you find any amazing new products this month?

Achievement Unlocked: Break a Bad Habit

Holy guacamole, has it been a week or what. This week has been super rough for me. I hope you’re having it better out there. Just popping in to share for a while again.

I took this photo for a Pin contest that Birchbox is doing because why not. The photo is supposed to show your favorite manicure and a Bandaid, for reasons unknown to me because I don’t really care. Lol.

I’m sharing here so I can explain it. My nails are bare. “That’s odd,” you say, perhaps thinking of the giant stash of fancy polishes I own. But, you see, my nails didn’t always look like this. Six months ago they were NUBS. I’d been a nail biter my entire life. I am not quite sure why I abruptly decided to quit, but I did.

My fellow biters out there are yelling, I can hear them. HOW? They ask. HOW do you stop biting your nails?! It’s an impossible nervous habit. Let me assure you, this was not the first time I’d tried it. And here’s how I did it.

First, I invested a lot of money in them. Haha. I dropped some bank on fancy polishes in colors that I liked (but that may scandalize my mom). I splurged on NerdLaqcuer and Butter London, and went wild with OPI and Zoya and China Glaze (Hunger Games shades, zomg). I had nubs of course, so I also got a big box of falsies and some glue (in fact you can see some in the background – I used it this morning to fix my glasses because I’m an idiot and stepped on them and broke the bridge of them, but I digress), along with all the other stuff – files and remover and cotton pads and who knows what else. I tried out some trends, too. I got some matte polish (love it) and some magnetic polish (love it, but it’s a bit tricky).

Then I invested TIME in them. I spent HOURS doing my nails – most nights, for weeks, I’d be filing or painting or gluing or whatever. Plastic nails are not impossible to chew through (done that), but they are more difficult. Painting them in ways that made me happy made me not want to mess them up, and if all else failed I could remind myself how expensive this experiment was if I quit, and that my husband would make fun of me if I gave up.

I soon found myself admiring rather than biting. It took a few months, but I finally got brave enough to go without the protective falsies. Underneath, my natural nails were thin and weak. I painted them with dozens of extra coats to beef them up a bit. They grew out, much stronger and thicker than I ever knew they could be. I haven’t worn plastic nails in months, and probably never will again.

A tip: getting professional manicures isn’t a fix that worked for me, although I’ve heard people recommend it. It’s definitely a financial investment, but there’s not a whole lot of time invested. And there won’t be bottles of lacquer all over your house laughing at you if you slip up. And I think the “weaning off” period may be harder that way. Your mileage may vary, of course.

My fingers now look like human fingers. Before the tips of my fingers were always red and weird looking, with gross jagged nails. Now, they’re all the same color, and I actually have the problem of needing to file them MORE often. The last few weeks, as you know, I’ve been insanely swamped and haven’t had much time for maintenance, much less polishing, which is a several-hour period where you can’t touch anything, lol. So my fingers have been bare. But that’s okay. Because I worked damn hard for these nails, and I am SO proud of them.

(Yes that’s Hello Kitty on the bandaid. My daughter calls her Baa-bo head in her adorable accent because she first met the Kitty as a bobblehead toy. It’s too adorable to correct. Also, fun fact – there actually is a small wound under there. I scratched my finger on something while doing dishes the other day. Just a glimpse into the glamourous life of a blogger.)

Do you have any bad habits? Ever manage to break one? We’re pretty good at that here – my husband quit smoking last year. Let’s chat about healthy habits and adorable preschooler accents.

May Birchbox – Gossip Girl Edition

I’m going to be totally upfront with you this month – I’m kinda disappointed. My first Birchbox was exciting and awesome and I loved every bit of it. Last month was a bit lackluster, and I definitely found myself wishing I’d gotten the Teen Vogue box (even though I’m definitely not a teen). This month… well, I enjoyed the products, but I have some suggestions for improvement (at the end of the post).

Okay, enough complaining. To the box!

This month, there was a theme: Gossip Girl. I don’t watch the show so that was rather irrelevant. I had (ultimately unfulfilled) hopes that this would mean blingy stuff, inspired by on-the-town young’uns. Honestly, not seeing the connection, other than in the color of the nail polish I got.
Dang, okay, seriously no more complaining.

And here are the contents of my box! There on the left you can see a card with 4 trivia questions about the GG finale that aired earlier this week. It sounds like a very *drama* show. The trivia questions were the basis for a contest they ran over on their facebook page for a shopping spree in the Birchbox shop. I may or may not have googled for the answers (unsuccessfully), eventually made up some answers up, and entered. ;-) Also, you can see this month’s “lifestyle extra” – a little postcard. I think I’ll include it with the prize for my Giveaway Week winner next week.

This perfume sample is Arquiste L’Etrog. I assume from the price of the fullsize product that it is quite fancy indeed. This is how it describes itself: “A bright blend of citrus and other fruity notes, L’Etrog captures the aromas of a family harvest celebration in medieval Calabria, Italy.”
My thoughts: I like it! I usually find floral scents overpowering, and gravitate to earthy scents like this one. It’s got a richness to it. I am not a professional and have no idea what a harvest smells like in Calabria, but I can see the medieval connection – it smells very “natural,” more like the sort of scent that an ancient princess would procure, instead of the overly chemical perfumes of our time.

Allow me to introduce you to Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm SPF 25+. It’s a real multitasker: “A moisturizer, sunscreen, and treatment serum all-in-one, this tinted balm even helps hide imperfections—so there’s no need for foundation or cover-up. Think of it as the Swiss Army Knife of your beauty cabinet.”
My thoughts: Well, first of all – maybe next time they ought to put a bit more in the bottle. I had a bit of trouble getting some out! Maybe it just settled weirdly. It’s tinted a light brownish color and has a very faint scent, similar to most sunscreens (I like that scent so that’s a plus). It was smooth and went on easy; my skin felt smoother and looked a little more even afterwards. I think I’ll cut open this little bottle to dig it all out and apply all over my face when I go out tomorrow, and see what I think. Overall, I’m pretty positive about this.

You may know that I am a nail polish fiend, so I was quite happy to find this sample of Color Club Foils in Disco Nap in my box. It’s a really shiny metallic gold polish. (There’s also a gorgeous purple in this collection.)
My thoughts: New favorite gold! The previous incumbent was Bling Dynasty by OPI, but this one easily beat it out. I’ve always loved the texture of Color Club lacquers (bonus: they’re cheap!), and this was no exception. The color was solid with one coat, and it really does earn the title “foil” – it was almost as if I’d applied gold leaf to my nails. I am picturing using it with stamping plates to create some gorgeous blingy designs for fancy occasions. Definitely highly recommend this one if you’re in the market.

This is a bottle of beautyblender blendercleanser – a special cleanser for your cosmetic brushes and makeup sponges and the like. It’s scented with lavender, earth-friendly, and apparently designed to remove oils and deposits from any implement that touches your skin.
My thoughts: First, I have to register a dislike of the scent. When I was a child, I got a horrrrrible Poison Ivy rash, and had to bathe with this special soap to remove the Ivy oils from my body. This cleanser smells EXACTLY like that soap. Which I suppose makes sense, since they’re both designed to remove unwanted oils. Scent aside, though, this stuff worked really well! I tried it on an eyeliner brush (just dipped it right into the bottle, and rubbed the brush in my fingers). The cleanser sudsed up and then rinsed away clean. Then I gave it a real test and tried it on an eyeshadow applicator. I have a really dark blue Ulta eyeshadow (their applicators are the same texture as those sponge wedges you can buy). To my complete surprise, this stuff cleaned the applicator to like-new condition! Not a trace of color on the sponge!

Last but not least, this here is a Twistband Skinny headband, sold in a 6-pack at Birchbox. Mine is brown, but they come in many colors. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like – an elastic headband to hold your hair.
My thoughts: I actually wear elastic headbands a lot. My hair is fluffy and frizzy and I hate when it gets in my face. I always choose headbands that are MUCH wider than this though – this width is just not enough to control my thick hair. It’d work well for lighter, thinner hair, or if it’s just being used as an accessory, not for functionality. Also, I’m kinda ambivalent about the “knot” in it – it gives it a too-casual feel to me, and I’d only want to wear it around the house or to the gym.

This month wasn’t as much fun as I am hoping for from my Birchboxes, but it still contained some great products. I still recommend to any of you readers out there to give it a try (it’s 10$ a month). However, I want to take this opportunity to make some suggestions to Birchbox (I’m submitting this post to their Birchbloggers program, so hopefully someone will read it):
Firstly, the boxes feel just a little bit bare. My first box, in March, felt like it was overflowing, while April and May just felt empty. I’m sure you’ve got budgets to consider, but please, just throw in one or two more things?
Second, more FUN please! That was my primary reason for joining Birchbox – I want to try fun new products! The cleanser worked great but it’s not anybody’s definition of fun.
Third, I think it’d help all of us be happier if there were a way for your subscribers to tell you what kinds of products they’re interested in. For example: I would like lip glosses, eye liners or eye shadows, lotions, body washes, nail polishes, and maybe the occasional hair product (that will actually match my hair type). Perfumes are okay too, but I rarely wear it to be honest.
(Oh, and fourth: can we get a “maybe” option on the “are you planning to purchase this item” question when we’re leaving feedback?)

Are you a Birchbox subscriber? What did you think of your box this month?
Do you have any suggestions or ideas you’d like to share? Or, are you thinking of subscribing? I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have, if I know the answers.

(In the interests of transparency, I’d like you to know that the two links at the beginning and end are my personal referrer links to Birchbox. If you click on them and then sign up, I will receive Birchbox Points. The other links go to the Birchbox shop, but I will not be compensated if you purchase from those links. There are also two links to my previous Birchbox reviews.)

How to Make Body Wash

Recently, I’ve read lots of articles about how “bars of soap are cheaper and greener than bottles of wash,” and, more worrisome, “the BPA in your plastic bottles will kill you.” I’m not entirely sold on the BPA-is-evil campaign, but, well, they do have a bit of a point. And an argument that involves my wallet? Well, I decided to try bar soap. It comes in a friendly paperboard box that I can reuse. And it definitely is cheaper than a bottle of wash. You’ll see at the end of this whether it lasts longer. ;)

So anyway, I bought a bar of soap (actually two bars). I got a little box for it so it didn’t get all mushy in the shower. It didn’t fit in well with my shower routine. Hard to get the soap onto my pouf. Guess I’m just too ingrained in the liquid wash thing.

But I didn’t stop there, oh no. No way did I buy two bars of soap just to let them go to waste. I did a little poking around on the internet. I didn’t exactly find what I was looking for – a recipe telling me exactly how to turn this solid bar of soap into some liquid body wash – but I found enough articles and posts close enough that I felt confident to get to it.

I grated up the soap first, the exact same way I did for my laundry soap. I grated it directly into a pot. I also decided to go ahead and do both bars of soap at one time, because why not.

Then I added 2 cups of water to the soap flakes and turned on the heat. I stirred it a bit with a whisk, which I definitely WOULD NOT do again. If you decide to follow in my footsteps (and I highly suggest you do), DON’T STIR. Just let it melt.

It’ll only take, like, 30 seconds for the soap to melt. Turn off the heat and let it cool a bit. Assemble a collection of bottles for your new wash. Glass is the obvious choice if you’re wanting to avoid BPA. You could also recycle your old squeezable wash bottles, if you like. Use a funnel and a ladle to get your warm soap into the bottles. Voila! You’re done!

…Oh, I forgot to mention, I made a bit of a mistake. ;)

I didn’t add enough water to the soap. As it cooled, it solidified into a foam. This would probably be excellent if it was in a squeezy jar, but I’ve never yet found squeezable glass jars. So now I had 3 jars of soap that I couldn’t get out! Crap. I planted them in a big pot, surrounded them with water, and started heating. I needed to soften the soap up again so I could get it out.

It took a few minutes, but it softened right up. I poured my too-thick wash into the saucepan again. I rinsed out each bottle with water to get all the soap, and added a lot of water. Maybe too much. I didn’t measure, so I can’t tell you an exact amount, but I’d definitely say it was at least 2 more cups. The soap mixture was approximately the consistency of low-fat milk – not entirely watery, but pretty dang close.

I warmed it up again and stirred it again (should not have done that). I got the funnel and ladle again, and a couple more glass bottles, and filled them all up. As you can see, I have a lot of bottles of body wash now. The foamy bubbly part at the top is why I shouldn’t have stirred. It did settle eventually. That lonely bottle with only a bit in it got poured into one of the other bottles, giving me 3 Snapple bottles and one giant orange juice bottle full of body wash.

I’ve been using it ever since I made it and I like it. I started with a Dove bar with pomegranate and lemon verbena (and 1/4 moisturizing cream), and was surprised to discover that the scent and color didn’t get diluted much. It has a delicate fresh and slightly flowery scent, that actually lingers on my skin for a little while (most washes don’t do that on me). You can, of course, choose any soap your little heart desires. I just put the bottle on my shower shelf and leave the cap off (so I don’t have to twist it off with wet hands). It has thickened up since it was made, partly from cooling and partly, I think, from evaporating into the air. It’s now approximately the consistency of cream, which is exactly what I wanted!

When these bottles of soap run out in a hundred years, I think I’m going to get even braver. I’ll buy some plain Castile soap and add my own scents!

One more thing. You know how Snapple has those “Real Facts” printed on the inside of their lids? One of the bottles I used for this project says “The average bar of soap lasts twice as long as a bottle of body wash.” I kid you not; I couldn’t even make up a coincidence like that. This definitely seems to be a great way to save some money.
A similar soap (just a different scent) sells on Drugstore.com for $4.19 for 2 bars. I think I paid less than that, probably in the 2 to 3 dollar range.
The “matching” body wash sells on Drugstore.com for 8.99 for 24 ounces. As you can clearly see, I got more than TRIPLE that volume from my two bars of soap, saving me something like 20$. With coupons or sales, you can probably do even better!

Are you worried about the cost of cleanliness, or the perils of plastic packaging? Have you thought about making your own cleaning products, and have you actually done it? How did it go for you? Have I inspired you to try it? It’s okay to mess up and try again!

April Birchbox

My second Birchbox is here! If you’d like to learn more or subscribe, click here! I’d be happy to answer any questions you have; just leave a comment. Now let’s get to the goods!

I have to admit to being a little disappointed this month. It felt a little bare, and while the products are all excellent, there wasn’t anything to get excited about. :-( Last month was *awesome* – you can read my reviews of those products here.

First up: Willa Lavender face towelettes. I don’t like one-time-use products because they feel so wasteful, so I’ve never tried anything like these. I liked this one, though, I have to say. The cloths are really soft. They’re a bit small, but big enough to get the job done. They smell nice, and not overbearingly so. The cleansing formula is gentle and refreshing; it’s damp, but not so much that you need to dry off afterwards. These would be just right for a quick cleanup when you can’t get to a bathroom, like on a picnic or at the beach. I’ll be keeping these in my purse for emergencies, but I don’t think I’ll buy any – I’m just fine with a washcloth.

Next up: a sample of a new fragrance by Taylor Swift called Wonderstruck. I don’t know about you, but one of these sample tubes is enough for several wearings for me. I’ll probably use it all up. Wonderstruck is pleasantly flowery. I’ll wear it on days when I’m feeling girly. :) I very well might purchase some of this scent.

This blurry picture is supposed to be showing you a .25 oz tin of J.R. Watkins Lavender Hand and Cuticle Salve. It’s very soft and smells like a handful of lavender. The scent lingers when you put it on, and I keep catching myself sniffing my hand. I felt an immediate difference in the softness of my skin (remember I have horrible dry skin). I already have several similar products, but when they run out, I’ll consider this one.

Another nail polish! This month, it’s Zoya Bevin from the True Spring Collection. I love Zoya polishes – they’re creamy and smooth, incredibly long lasting, and free of toluene, formaldehyde, DBP and camphor. I think it’s actually vegan!

This particular color is a light blue-green. I’d describe it as “muted robin’s egg.” It’s a gorgeous color. After I took this picture, I layered mine with some black shatter polish by OPI and it’s really striking. I definitely recommend Zoya polish.

The final item this month is a “lifestyle extra” – Dropps Laundry Detergent. I use similar pod-type things for my dishwasher (and love them!), and I’ve been seeing commercials for this kind of product recently, so I was intrigued to find them in my Birchbox. There were two in the packet – I used one to wash my comforter and one on the sheets. Dropps are eco-friendly, super-convenient, easy to use, and will work in any washer. They’re fragrance and dye free also, which is great for sensitive skin. My linens (well, they’re actually cotton, but you know what I mean) came out quite clean, with no harsh scents. These would be a major help for those who wash at laundromats, or in apartment/dorm laundry rooms – no more lugging heavy bottles or boxes of soap around! I make my own laundry soap, though, and I own my own washer and dryer – so while I won’t be buying any, I’ll still highly recommend them.

That’s all for this month! Before I sign off, I want you to know that all the links in this post (except for the ones labelled “Zoya polishes” and “make my own laundry soap”) goes to Birchbox’s shop. The very first link, as well as this one right here, are my personal referrer links, and if you sign up with Birchbox from that link, I will earn Birchbox points. The Zoya link I pointed out goes to Zoya’s website. If you sign up for a free Zoya account from that link, you’ll receive an instant coupon for a free Zoya polish of your choice, and if you use it, I will get some Share the Love points.

Now that all the full disclosure is done, I bid you adieu. :)

Birchbox! (Updated!)

About a month or so ago, tons of blogs exploded about Birchbox. Most of the blogs I read (that relate to that sort of thing) were raving about this amazing subscription service that delivers a box of beauty goodies to your door every month. I tried to sign up then, but they were so swamped that they were temporarily “sold out!” Lucky me, I was able to sign up a few weeks later, and my first Birchbox arrived today!


My box!

Of course, I ripped into it immediately.


It opens flat and reveals a nice box inside, suitable to be kept and reused.


The big prize this month is this I Coloniali Tibetan Shower Cream with Rhubarb. It’s a really creamy shower soap, basically. It has a really exotic and luxurious scent that lingers even after rinsing. I’ll get quite a few uses out of this bottle, and I like it so much I may buy more when it runs out!


The second-biggest item is Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls. I’ve got frustrating hair – wavy in some places, but oddly flat in others. Not curly enough to be curly, not straight enough to be straight. I’m not really a fan of my hair, is what I’m trying to say here. And while I’ve never liked wearing it curly, I definitely have to say that it’s the easiest treatment for curly hair I’ve ever tried. This IS a positive review. It’s just that I just don’t like curly hair much. It didn’t get the crunchiness like gel does, isn’t oily like many frizz treatments, and is probably the best thing I’ve used on my hair for making it look presentable without much effort. Even so, I think I’ll be passing the rest of this bottle on to one of my curly-and-proud friends.


Another I Coloniali product! Having loved the shower cream, I was excited to try the Deep Massage Body Cream with Myrrh. This .35 oz sample was enough to do both arms, both legs (from just above the knee down) and both feet. It’s got little granules in it that absorb into your skin. Like the shower cream, it’s really luxurious and smells exotic and decadent. I really love this stuff as well.


This sample packet of WEI Pomegranate buffing beads actually contains 2 packets of .02 oz each. It’s meant to be mixed with your facial cleanser to buff and purify your skin of toxins. I have not tried them yet, but I will this evening when I wash my face (I use a Burt’s Bees cleanser, if anybody cares) and update with my review tomorrow!
Update: I love these! It isn’t “beads” so much as a fine grain sand. I really REALLY noticed a difference when I used it. Best of all, the packet contains enough for about 3 uses (for me anyway – maybe I’m using less than recommended, but it’s enough to notice a big difference). This is definitely an item I’ll be purchasing – it’s inexpensive AND makes a huge difference.


The One Love Organics Skin Savior waterless beauty balm is another treasure. The jar contains 15 mL, and I think it’ll last a long time. It looks to have a beeswax base, and other balms I’ve used of this type always last forever. It has a light, subtle fruity scent. I applied it to one of my notoriously dry patches (my left elbow). It was very smooth and light. This is another probably-will-purchase product! (The full size is rather expensive but will probably last for-ev-errrrr.)


This blurry picture shows a trial-size of Color Club nail lacquer in Jackie Oh! (Did other boxes get different colors, I wonder?) If you know me, you’ll know that I’ve been on a nail polish binge lately, so I was stoked, especially since I haven’t tried this brand yet. This is definitely not a color I would generally choose (I like earth tones and jewel tones; I’m not really a neon girl), but my almost-4-year old was ecstatic about it. The texture of the polish was nice – not too thin, not too thick.


It looks coral here, but take my word for it – it’s VERY neon and VERY pink. It’s kinda fun, actually. This is just one coat of the polish (gotta love lacquers that cover with only one coat – the bottle lasts so much longer).


I used a matte topcoat on the other hand, just for contrast. Lookin good. :) I don’t think I’d purchase this color for myself, but I like the brand.

This box was only my first one, and now I’m sad that I have to wait a whole month for another one! Aside from the new and exciting products (that I never would have tried otherwise), it was amazingly fun to have a special day of pampering delivered to my door. :) And did I mention it’s only TEN dollars a month? I purchased a yearlong subscription, which gives you one month free, AND a bunch of “points” you can use in their shop to purchase the full-size items. I am a VERY satisfied customer. Click here to find out more!

In the interests of complete honesty, I’d like you to know that all the product links here go to the Birchbox shop, but I don’t recieve any compensation for them. The links at the beginning and end that go to Birchbox’s website are my personal referrer link. If you sign up from that link, I do receive 50 points.

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