Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ipsy August 2015 Review

Ah. . . the end.  The end of my Ipsy sub (this is the last month for me) and the end of the summer. . . at least judging by the "prep school" theme Ipsy's gone with for the month.  I actually really like the bag and Ipsy packed it with some of my favourite products I've ever received from them! Well played! So what did I get?

Marc Anthony Nourishing Argan Oil of Morocco Oil Treatment ($3.30 value for 0.7oz sample, full size is $7.99 for 1.69oz)

I love this kind of product for my hair as it can be a little coarse and frizzy at times.  This makes it smooth and soft and it smells awesome! Since you really don't need to use a lot, this sample should last for a long time.

Skone Luxe Doubler Eye/Lip Pencil in Wine ($7.15 value for 0.1oz sample, full size is $12 for 4.7g)

Some other bloggers seem to think this is full size. . . my math says otherwise.  It's 0.1oz which is about 2.8g and the full size is 4.7g on Skone's website.  It drives me crazy how often I have to convert metric to imperial and vice versa to figure these things out.  Why can't the same product be measured using the same system? Ridiculous! Anyway, that aside, I love this.  It's a creamy, smooth pencil which can be used either to line the eyes or on the lips.  While I know that this wine colour would look fantastic on my lips, I've been seeing a lot of burgundy / berry liners and shadows lately (especially coming out of k-beauty styles) so I had to try it on my eyes.  While I was convinced that I would look either ill or super-stoned, it was actually pretty flattering.  It didn't look unlike some of my purple liners on, just a little more berry, and really made my green-blue eyes pop.  While it's not an everyday look, I'm going to keep working on it :)

Noyah Natural Lipstick in Desert Rose ($4.50 value, full size is $18 and 4x the size at 0.16oz)

I received a plummy shade of Noyah lipstick in an early Ipsy bag and loved it so much, I actually considered buying a full-size version.  The formula is smooth and not overly drying and I found the colour pay-off of that shade great too.  This colour isn't as great for my skin tone - it's a little too pale (actually paler than my lips) which I have a hard time with unless there's some shimmer or gloss involved - but I do like it.  I also like Noyah's efforts to use natural ingredients and bamboo (instead of plastic) packaging.

Aila Cosmetics Luxury Nail Lacquer in Mister Pookies (FULL SIZE $17 value, I think?)

This nail polish is 5-free, paraben and gluten free, vegan and cruelty-free.  Love that! The colour is. . . interesting.  It's described as being a steel grey with purple undertones but it looks more of a purpley brown on my nails (most of the time, although in some lights I see the grey).  The formula is great - the swatch below is one thick coat which dried quickly.

Juice Beauty Cleansing Milk ($1.63 value for 0.5oz sample, full size is $22 for 6.75oz)

I always love a good cleanser sample - especially when the full size is so pricey.  I've also heard good things about Juice Beauty and have never tried them out so I'm looking forward to this although I haven't opened it yet.  Juice Beauty says this will cleanse and remove makeup (but I like my two-step routine and have yet to find a face wash that actually removes make-up that effectively).  They also claim to offer great products because they are "pure" and organic, and have Gwyneth Paltrow on board.  I'm always a little skeptical of everything goop but I will reserve judgement for now.

Super-blurry swatches of the Skone liner on the left and the Noyah lippie on the right, nail polish swatch at far right

Overall Verdict:

This month was probably one of my faves.  I love both lip (err. . . eye too) products and the nail polish.  I will get a lot of use out of the hair oil and I always enjoy trying out new face washes in small sizes just in case they don't go well.  I don't think I've had a month that hit my likes so well in the entire year I've subbed. . . so, of course, it's the last one! While this doesn't have the highest value, at $33.58, it is still more than I paid (it worked out to about $15 with shipping, exchange, and the discount for purchasing the whole year up front) and all of the products are great (I have a hard time finding value in an expensive item I won't use).

As for Ipsy, I have enjoyed the year but I'm ready to move on - there are only so many black eyeliners, neutral eyeshadows, and make-up bags one can use! Would I recommend Ipsy? For someone who's looking to try new products / brands or just starting out, absolutely - it's consistently a great value for the price.  Ipsy is, as I've said before, a great gateway sub :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Exciting News for Online Shoppers!

Just a short post today because OMG you guys! This arrived in my mail box this morning:

My two favourite things: and ebates!

For those who haven't used yet, it's my favourite online store (and that's saying something).  They sell everything from makeup to gifts to diapers (sposies and cloth) to specialty foods and everything in between.  We order from them every few months and enjoy their superfast (like within 2-3 days usually) FREE shipping to our door.  I don't get paid to issue this love to them. . . I just love them that much.  And if you've read my other posts, you know I don't tend to throw that word around lightly.  Check them out!

And if you don't do ebates yet, why not? If you do any online shopping, it's like getting a slight discount on things you already buy.  True, 1% cash back isn't likely to be a ton of money. . . but it's better than 0%.  And many stores offer larger cash back amounts than that as well as excellent deals and coupons for ebates members.  And we're talking a lot of stores including amazon, etsy,, joe fresh, carters - lots of kids clothes (you know, you have to buy them anyway. . . it'd be frowned upon if you didn't dress your kids, lol).  Check it out! (And yes, that one's my referral link - thanks for supporting me if you choose to use it!)

Smiles all around on this one :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Wantable Accessories August 2015 Review

Many months ago, I tried out Wantable's Intimates subscription (November and December - reviews at these links) and quite liked it.  This month, I decided to spring for their Accessories box after seeing some really exciting-looking unboxings out there :)  I need to freshen up some of my accessories and was hoping for something new that I wouldn't have picked for myself.

If you are unfamiliar with Wantable, here's how it works:  for each of their Intimates, Accessories and Make-up boxes, you fill out a pretty in-depth questionnaire regarding your likes, dislikes, etc. to help your stylist choose great items for you.  They have made some changes to the way their sub works, so here are the details:  the first box costs $40US (plus shipping, exchange, etc.) and if your stylist totally misses the mark, the entire box can be returned.  I think Canadians have to pay to ship it back. . . but don't quote me on that since I've never done it.  If you like all of the items, you get a "bonus" of $6 off your next box for keeping them all.  If you like some but hate some, you can return partial boxes for some money refunded - but again, I think that's much easier if you're in the States.  I can't imagine it'd be worth the shipping cost to return an item or two unless they were really expensive.  They also offer a "Fitness Edit" and a "Style Edit" which are not available to Canadians at this time (since those aren't really boxes but more like personal shopping services in which they send you items and you purchase the ones you like, return the ones you don't).

So, what's in the box?

First look :)

My preferences (Wantable will aim to send you things you love and will never send things you dislike):
As you can see, I was really angling for a chunky Rock 'n Roll watch (didn't get it though). . . and really dislike everything gold and boho.  You're likes and dislikes will make your box more "you".

Wantable also provides a packing slip which includes retail values (I think that's how they figure out how much money to return in the event of a partial exchange).  Sorry it's blurry:

My order included two smaller boxes.  The first:

Sue Anne Necklace Silver ($17 retail)

This is a longer necklace with a sturdy chain and a chunky silver "bead" detail:

I love it and am very happy with this selection.  Wantable suggests layering this with shorter necklaces and I think that sounds like a great idea :)  This definitely hits the Rock n' Roll vibe and is silver-toned.

Second box:

Wow, that's a lot of silver jewellery!

Gina Earrings ($16 retail):

These are definitely a little edgy.  They are chunky silver drop earrings and almost look like hammered metal. While I wouldn't have picked them, I do like them and will wear them - not everyday but they will get some love.

Pamela Necklace Silver ($17 retail):

This one is also silver (surprise) and also a double-chain necklace but I don't like it nearly as much as the first.  I think it's the extended drop at the bottom with a "coin" hanging off of it - it seems kind of strange to me and hangs right in my belly button.  I'm going to try my hand at modifying this by removing that part and maybe just putting the coin back without the extension.  I like the interesting hoop and bar closure on the top chain though.  If I lived in the States, I'd probably return this but it doesn't seem worth the hassle to me to be honest.

Shayna Necklace ($14 retail):

Also a silver necklace.  *sigh*  I like silver.  I like necklaces.  But I also like other things.  And I now have not one, not two, but three new silver necklaces.  Anyhow, this one's more mid-length and has a standard chain with this almost tribal-looking centrepiece.  At first I didn't like it very much but I think it was the burnout from unpacking so many silver necklaces.  It's grown on me and I will wear it.

Overall Verdict:

With shipping, fees and exchange, this box cost me more like $56 Canadian (and that was with a $10 credit).  The retail value listed for these items is $64 so I got my money's worth (ish) although I certainly didn't get any of the crazy values I've seen in other reviews.  That said, I also didn't receive any large statement pieces either (those tend to have a lot of value). . . and I wish I did.  I love the first necklace, like the earrings and the third necklace, and am not hugely excited about the second necklace.  Overall, this box was just okay for me.  

That said, I'd like to try another one.  I gave some really specific feedback on these items (Wantable sends you a link to review what you received), adjusted my quiz (no necklaces for now!), and also included some requests in the "notes" section of the quiz.  Hopefully my next box will be a bit more what I'm looking for.  This isn't a cheap sub and I can't really justify doing more than a few boxes at a time but I do like the model and would recommend giving it a shot.  The more specific you are, I think the better the items will "fit" what you're looking for.

If this piques your interest in Wantable, please consider using my link - I'd appreciate it :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Feeding a Picky Toddler

Ok, so maybe "picky" isn't really the word for him. . . "stubborn" might be more accurate.  Regardless of how you would describe your toddler, sometimes mealtimes and snacktimes can be a challenge (and I won't mince words on that one!).  So what's a mom (or dad) to do? Kids need to eat! And they can't just eat cookies and freezies no matter how much they want to.

I'm going to let you in on our secret. . . and, be warned, it's kind of cheesy.  It's all about selling the experience.  Take something nutritious, plate it to look neat and give it a silly name.  Voila! Instant interest for a creative little mind.

For example, the dish below isn't apples with peanut butter - it's "Peanut Butter Blossoms":
Because it looks like a flower :)

And this one? Sunshine Cheese & Crackers: 
Totally sunshine-y, amirite?

It might sound ridiculous but D eats this up - he loves the fun of it and also, actually eating.  He doesn't ask for cheese and crackers, he asks for "Sunshine Cheese and Crackers" - seriously - and he berated my husband for not plating his apple correctly.  Virtually any snack can be a silly face or a flower or another shape that will rock your child's world.  It doesn't even need to add a lot of time or hard work.  It just takes a little out-of-the-box thinking.  

Here are some other ideas:
- Peanut Butter Spirals - tortilla, spread with pb, roll up and slice into spirals (not into pb? you could use your fave nut-free spread, spreadable cheese, hummus, etc. - same with the apples up top). . . bonus points for wrapping around a banana :)
- Ants on a Log - celery with pb/spreadable cheese inside and raisins along the top
- Ladybug Pita Pizzas - mini pitas with tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni (if you like) and black olives (if your kids like)
- Spaghetti Cake - this Jamie Oliver recipe was tasty but the name of it had my toddler giggling maniacally and snapped him out of a full on tantrum - magic!
- Fruit Face - berries, banana, melon, whatever you have, plated to make a smiley face
- Egg Carton Surprise - this one's from my mom when I was a kid! fill each cup of an egg carton with a little treat (snack mix, olives, raisins, smarties, grapes, chocolate chips, raspberries, cherry tomatoes - whatever you have that's little like that; aim for at least 2-3 different options to keep it interesting), close the lid and it's a surprise!
- homemade freezies / popsicles made with pureed fruit or juice (you can even use a yogurt-based smoothie!)

Whatever you choose to make, involving your child in the kitchen is another piece of magic to get them eating.  It does add time, and mess, so be prepared for that but even if all s/he does is pour in pre-measured ingredients and stir, it's now something they "made".  Ownership makes a meal special. . . and cooking skills last a lifetime :)

Other great tips and ideas? Please share in the comments - I'm always looking to change things up!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fabletics August 2015 Review

I actually skipped last month of Fabletics - I was a little busy, right? But I needed to get in on this month's special collaboration with Stash! Stash is an artist renowned for working with graffiti - it's how he started in the 80s - and now has offered his talents to making graffiti prints for various clothing brands (like Nike. . . and now Fabletics!).  Here is a sample of his work:
Am I the only one who really loves modern art? I swear, I'd hang this in my house if my husband would promise not to complain!

So, anyway, I was really excited to check out some street styles with funky prints this month and Fabletics didn't disappoint :)

For those who are unfamiliar with Fabletics, they offer monthly workout outfits starting at $49.95 for VIPs (and seemingly at $10 increments from that point depending on the items and the number of items - outfits tend to be 2 or 3 pieces).  It is a subscription program so at the beginning of each month, you must either choose an outfit or opt out for that month - if you fail to do either, you will be charged the $49.95 minimum cost although you can later use that money to make a purchase (it's not like a punishment fee or anything).  To make things even more enticing, Fabletics offers your first month at half price - that's $25 for one of the cheaper outfits (or half of whatever the cost is of the outfit you choose).  Note the phrasing there:  "first month" - that means that taking advantage of this offer will set you up in their VIP program and you will then either need to purchase/skip each month. . . or I guess you could take advantage of the offer and then cancel if you really wanted to.

Of course I picked one of the collabs this month, although I decided not to go all-out with Stash-printed leggings or anything, opting for a printed sports bra instead (demure? lol - just a little less flashy while I work on this baby weight!).  This is Griffith:

And, as always, here it is in not-model-sizing:

Mckinney Tee ($19.95 VIP pricing)

They've adjusted the way they describe fit so it's a little easier to decipher.  This tee is described as "slightly relaxed, runs true to size" which to me means "pick the smaller of the two sizes you fluctuate between."  Anything that has a looser fit makes me happy right now but I do find that if I go with the larger of the sizes, they're a little too roomy.  This is body-skimming and goes to the hip.  I opted for "Oasis" instead of the white since white shirts and my pukey baby would not get along well! It was also available in dark grey but I like colour :) The fabric is soft, thicker than I expected and I love the cut of this tee - a little higher at the neck (so my cleavage isn't hanging out) with a stitched-down rolled sleeve.  Love!

Julliard Jogger ($44.95 VIP pricing)

These are available in black or heather grey with a white accent.  I like a darker pant to minimize my bottom half so that was a no-brainer.  I opted for the larger of the sizes I straddle since these were described as "fitted, true to size" and I'm glad I did.  They fit comfortably but I do have a little pocket bulge that needs adjusting semi-regularly - am I the only one who has to deal with this? Tell me I'm not.  I like the more hip-hop vibe (do I sound old?) to the cut - they are lower rise with a slightly shorter, elasticised ankle.  I wish I had some cooler running shoes to go with :) These are also a thicker feel, more like a sweatpant than the pants I've picked up from Fabletics in the past.  I like!

Doon Sports Bra ($24.95 VIP pricing)

Love that print! This is a medium-support bra which is definitely more supportive than the other bra I've gotten from Fabletics, although not supportive enough for, say, aerobic activity (so I could wear this to yoga, maybe spinning, but definitely not Zumba).  I followed the sizing chart but do find this a bit tight through the band, though wearable.  I love the racerback - I don't have a bra like this although I have a few tops that will benefit from it.  My one wish is that it had a back closure instead of being a pullover - I think that would help my band issue, for one, and would make it easier to get on and off.  I like it though and will totally wear it.

Overall Verdict:

This outfit came to $69.95 with VIP pricing.  With shipping and exchange, this works out to be just over $110 Canadian. . . exchange is the worst! I do love this outfit and think these items are great.  I'm not sure I would have spent that much on similar items in a store near me but the quality is great, the fit is pretty good, and I feel good wearing them.  I can't discount the value on that last point - I feel good wearing them! That makes me want to get back into being a bit more active and working on my fitness level since I know I'll feel pretty good doing it.

If you're interested in trying out Fabletics, please consider using my link.  I'd appreciate it!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Fabkids July 2015 Review - Not So Fab in Canada :(

Awesome. . . err. . . ish?

 So if you've read any of my reviews of Fabletics (here, here or here and one to come shortly), you know that I love it! Seriously, maybe my favourite sub.  Fabkids is just like that one. . . only not my favourite - not even close in fact - which is disappointing because I have been so eager to try it out.  I'm not sure when they started shipping to Canada since last I checked, they didn't.  And, to be honest, I think their shipping (and customer service) still need some work!

Fabkids follows the same sub model as Fabletics:  you become a VIP member (usually they offer a steep discount on your first month).  At the beginning of each month, you have 2 options - choose an outfit to purchase for that month (Fabkids outfits start at $29.95 USD, VIP pricing) or skip the month.  If you forget to do one of those things by the 5th of the month, you will be charged $29.95 anyway - but don't worry because you can then use those credits to make a purchase whenever.

Now that's out of the way, here's my honest review.  As always, all opinions are my own.  Do I like Fabkids clothes? Absolutely - check out the outfit I picked up for my 3 year old:

Supercute, right? He loves it and loved getting his own package in the mail!

"It's Only Rock & Roll Tee" ($14.97 USD)

I love the logo - it's definitely not something we would normally pick up or even find where we usually shop and I think it's really cool.  This shirt is soft, washes well and fits well also.  My son is pretty tall and slim so, despite being 3, he often wears 2T clothes.  I ordered these items in a size 3 so he could grow into them if they didn't fit yet and it actually does fit pretty well right now.  If your child is a little larger, consider sizing up.  

Toddler review:  "It matches those shorts."  Okay, that's not super helpful so I will add that he wants to wear this tee daily despite it being decidedly short sleeve weather.  I think that's pretty glowing.

Camo Cargo Short ($14.98 USD)

I love these shorts! They are really well-made and have my favourite feature in kids' clothes:  an adjustable waistband (seriously necessary with a slim child so his pants aren't hanging off him all the time).  These also wash well and have a good fit - a little loose around the waist (even adjusted) but wearable.  Again, if your child is a little larger, consider sizing up.

Toddler review:  "That lady brought it.  It came in a package." The lady is our Canada Post delivery person. . . I should really find out her name since she's at my house so frequently! With further prodding, he admits that they are nice looking and also comfortable as well.

So, when it comes to the clothes, I'm happy.  They fit well, they are stylish, and the quality is good.  Moreover, $30 (plus exchange) is pretty reasonable for a children' outfit - I wouldn't spend it every month but it's reasonable. . . and the thing with kids is they just keep growing so you need to buy clothing more often than you expect.  I also feel like these will last well enough for my younger son to wear them when he's older (perks of having two boys!).  My only complaint about the clothes is that, at least when I was shopping the site, there didn't seem to be a lot of options.  Maybe that's a boy thing. . . *checks*. . . *sighs*. . . Yeah, there's definitely more options with more variety in the girls' section.

I know this sounds pretty glowing to this point.  Why do I ultimately feel my Fabkids experience is "not so fab"? Shipping costs and customer service.  Here's the story:

I didn't know Fabkids shipped to Canada until I received an email through Fabletics inviting me to try Fabkids for the low, low price of shipping costs.  That's right - this outfit cost me $0; I just had to pay shipping.  Now, I'm no fool.  I've been shopping online for a long time now and like to think I'm pretty savvy - especially when it comes to the travesty that is shipping to Canada with most US companies.  So I read the fine print.  Twice.  Here's a screencap from that email (highlighting is mine):

Sweet! A whole outfit for my kid for under $5 US? Of course I'll try that out!  Then this happened (again, highlighting is mine):

Wait. . . what? Didn't the invitation email clearly say (in the fine print, at the bottom) that shipping to Canada was a $4.95 US flat rate?  Also, that's how much shipping is with Fabletics so that makes sense (maybe since the email was through Fabletics, that's how that cost got there? regardless, there is no other shipping cost listed).  Let's check the bottom of the confirmation email:

Hmm. . . strange.  It's almost like they offered me one price and then changed it after I made the purchase. . . I think there's a term for that. . .

So I went ahead with the order and contacted customer service.  Surely Fabkids would make it right.  Nope.  My initial query was polite and the reply was essentially "no, that's the cost of shipping."  My second email to them was less polite and I asked pointedly "so your company will not stand by the offer made in the initial email?" I received no response so, two business days later, I called Fabkids.  Unfortunately, the robot who answered my call was so insistent that she could handle my issue instead of putting me through to a real person, and made it so easy to cancel my membership, so I just cancelled.  If I had spoken to someone, and Fabkids had dealt with my issue, I may not have cancelled. . . and this would be a glowing review in which I could compliment their customer service.  But I didn't and so it's not.  I sent one final email:

"Since I did not receive a reply regarding this issue, I called and cancelled my account.  I am still very disappointed at the misleading information regarding shipping costs. . . and about the shipping costs themselves. Fabletics can ship adult clothing to me for $4.95 a month but Fabkids needs 3 times that amount to ship children's clothing? Hopefully someday Fabkids will be more interested in doing business in Canada as this experience has indicated that this is not currently the case - despite an email sent through Fabletics Canada inviting me to try this service."

 And received a reply saying they were sorry to hear I had cancelled and that I should check out Fabkids Canada.  Fabkids Canada? *googles* *googles more* *reads through pages of google searches* Where is Fabkids Canada? *enters and. . . is redirected to* *sighs heavily*

Overall Verdict:

Don't get me wrong:  I am not lamenting the fact that I got a great outfit for my son for under $15 US (just over $20 Canadian).  I really like the Fabkids / Fabletics model and I really like the clothing.  That said, if Fabkids wants to do business in Canada, they need to do better.  A $30 US outfit is not affordable if one has to pay half that amount again in shipping costs.  That's just ridiculous.  I could justify purchasing the outfit if shipping were $4.95 but otherwise, just no.  I can drive to the States in an hour - it's not like I'm in the Arctic, here! If I purchased an outfit every month for a year, I would be spending $179.40 US on shipping alone - that's enough to buy almost 6 more months of Fabkids outfits! I'm pretty sure Fabletics has a physical presence in Canada and that's why their shipping is more reasonable.  Maybe Fabkids should consider doing likewise? Unless, of course, they aren't actually interested in Canadian customers.  And when it comes to customer service, not cool Fabkids.  I felt like my totally appropriate concerns were brushed off and dismissed.  That doesn't make me feel like a valued customer.  And there are other places I can shop.  

If Fabkids decides to make some adjustments (to a more reasonable shipping cost), I will gladly become a member again and will recommend them unreservedly.  Until then, I am sad to say that I can't.  I wanted so badly to love this sub :(

If, for some reason, this makes you want to try out Fabkids, you could use my link.  If it encourages you to give Fabletics a try, here's my link for them (and I do recommend that sub whole-heartedly!).  These links are also used throughout the above post fyi.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tea Sparrow July 2015 Review

Mmm. . . look at all those teas! This is seriously one of my favourite subs.  I can quit Ipsy (and I did!) but I just can't quit you, Tea Sparrow (and I don't want to!).

For $20 CAD per month (including shipping), Tea Sparrow sends 4 different types of loose leaf tea (so yes, you need some way to brew loose leaf  - tea balls are an inexpensive option) - usually a green, a black, a rooibos and an herbal but sometimes they mix it up.  The teas are separately packaged and are each approximately 0.6oz for a total of about 35 cups of tea per month (less if you use a lot of tea in brewing, maybe more if you're willing to brew twice using the same tea). 
If you want to try Tea Sparrow, check out this 60% off offer and get your first month for only $8! When you click the above link, you will be taken to a password-protected page.  Enter "teas" as your password and you will be offered the promotional discount.  Please be aware that this will start a recurring monthly subscription but Tea Sparrow allows you to skip any month through their website and you can cancel at any time.  Enjoy!

Much like last month, Tea Sparrow opted for summery teas that are just as delicious iced as they are hot (and in some cases, more so if you ask me).  While there are lots of ways to brew iced tea from loose-leaf, my favourite is a cold brew method as I find it easiest.  I add as much tea as desired to a pitcher (anywhere from a few tsps to a few tbsps depending on the tea) and top up with water from my Brita.  The pitcher then sits in my fridge for anywhere from a few hours to overnight (again, depending on the tea and how it seems to be brewing) then I strain out the leaves and it's done :)

Here are this month's teas:

Iced Ginger Peach Tea (black tea, organic ginger root, peach flavouring)

Iced Ginger Peach Tea:
As the name would suggest, this is tastiest iced.  To be honest, I didn't try it hot since I found it a little gingery for me - and I like ginger.  I would have preferred a little more peach and a little less zing from the ginger.  But this is still really delicious and my husband loves it - maybe sweetening it milds out the flavour a little?

Strawberry Mint (apple bits, haricot bean peels, stinging nettle leaves, blackberry leaves, black currant leaves, nana mint, natural flavours, strawberry bits)

Strawberry Mint:
Wow! I didn't expect that long of an ingredient list.  Especially since this tastes like, well, strawberry and mint pretty much.  Not my favourite herbal / fruit tea ever but this makes a really fresh iced tea - garnished with mint from my CSA, no less! I didn't love it hot but I guess I should have known since the idea of hot strawberries is not so appealing.

Quince Green (sencha, cornflowers, mallow flower, quince fruit)

Quince Green:
Firstly, so pretty! I love the look of cornflowers in my tea. . . not sure exactly what they add to flavour but it must be something good since they appear in so many teas.  This is also a really tasty, fresh green tea.  I do like my green teas a little fruity although I'm not sure I've ever had quince fruit.  I also love an iced green tea - try it!

Vanilla Honeybush (honeybush, natural vanilla flavour, vanilla bits)

Vanilla Honeybush:
If there's one thing that consistently impresses me with Tea Sparrow, it's how they keep delivering rooibos (or honeybush) teas that I actually enjoy.  I'm not usually a huge fan of this type of "tea" but Tea Sparrow knows how to source really tasty varieties of it.  This one is no exception - I've already finished the whole package! A little sweet, without being overwhelming, it made equally delicious iced and hot teas with a delicate natural vanilla flavour in the background.

Can't wait until next month!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Ipsy July 2015 Review

It's official:  I just cancelled my Ipsy sub.  I had purchased a year-long subscription back in August of last year (so September 2014 was my first bag) and I'm glad I did - it was certainly cheaper than paying per month with our dollar situation.  But I'm finished now.  I'm moving on.  It's been swell but the swelling's gone down if you get my drift (and my Tank Girl reference).  I've gotten a some great products, some so-so ones and a couple crappy ones.  Mostly I've been happiest with the tools I've received (some brushes, tweezers and an eyelash curler - yes!) and most disappointed with the bronzers / tan and beige eye shadows and highlighters (soooo many!).

Here's the deets on the sub if you're interested:  Ipsy, is a monthly subscription service which sends you 5 make-up, skin care or hair care items per month packaged in a make-up bag.  The products are often deluxe sample sizes but there are usually a few full-size items as well.  The cost is $10 per month with free shipping if you happen to live in the States but for those of us in Canada, add $4.95 shipping as well as exchange.  There are savings to be had if you subscribe to a longer period, though.  I paid for a year up front which worked out to $184.33 Canadian funds, or $15.36 per month - of course that was also at a time when our dollar was stronger.  There is usually a waiting list but they often offer ways to skip the line.

Here is what came in my Ipsy bag this month:

tarte Deluxe Amazonian Clay Waterproof Bronzer in "Park Avenue Princess" (0.11oz sample is $12.37 value, full size is 0.33oz for $36)
This is a really nice product - good formula, nice packaging - just not for me.  Seriously.  I tried it.  It looked kind of like dirt.  I blended and used a very light hand and I really didn't see much of a difference.  I'll keep trying because I want to like this more but this pale, pink-toned skin and bronzers just don't seem to mesh.

Coolway Beachy Salt Spray (0.5oz sample is $1.96 value, full size is 0.33oz for $12.95)
Since having my kids, my once poker straight hair is now kind of wavy so I thought the whole "beachy waves" vibe might work for me.  It doesn't.  This salt spray smells kind of salty and makes my already thick, verging on coarse, hair frizzy and tangly.  Pass.

Jersey Shore Cosmetics Mongongo Vanilla Coconut Cream Lip Conditioner (FULL SIZE, $10 value)
Ridiculously long name.  Really nice lip product.  The scent and texture are both awesome - kind of creamy and sweet and moisturizing.  Not sure I would pay $10 for it but I will gladly use this whole tube :)

Nicka K New York HQ Quad Eyeshadow (appears to be FULL SIZE, $4.99 value)
This isn't terrible.  For a cheapo quad, the formulation is totally usable.  Unfortunately, aside from the teal shade, the colours suck for me.  That gold in particular. . . that gold.  The other two are just meh.

Crown Brush Professional Tweezers ($6.99 value)
I have enjoyed the tools from Ipsy the most.  Maybe it's because they're longer lasting than any sample will be.  I think this is my 3rd pair of tweezers but you know what? I love them.  They are a nice pair of tweezers with a slanted tip and for whatever reason, I can never find my tweezers when I need them.  So now I have increased my odds of actually laying a hand on a pair of them - especially with this flashy pink shade :)

Overall Verdict:
Not my highest value month at just over $36 (but still more than what I paid which is all I ask, really) but since the value for me is in my personal use of these products, a decent month nonetheless.  I love the tweezers and the lip conditioner.  I will enjoy playing around with the bronzer and eyeshadow although neither are a hit with me.  And I'm glad I tried the sea salt spray. . . but I will likely never use it again (at least it was my lowest value item).  Like I said, it's been fun with Ipsy but it's time to move on - pick my own eyeshadow and lip shades perhaps, spend my money on a nail polish sub and definitely more Fabletics (although not Fabkids - that's a story and a half for another day!).  Ipsy's definitely a good gateway sub though so if you're looking to get into sub boxes, this is a good, relatively inexpensive one that, in my experience, is always a good value for your money - even with exchange.  One more month!