FanMail Box April 2017

I subscribed to the FanMail Box a few cycles ago, but finally decided to add it to the blog this time around!  It’s a little hit or miss for me since it’s kind of heavy on the Harry Potter, a fandom I’m really not into.  I’ve never read the books or seen the movies, and it’s just not my thing (my least favorite genre is fantasy – I’d take zombies and space explorers over wizards any day of the week!).  This month did feature one Harry Potter item, but the rest were from other fandoms, and it’s great to have a box that caters to lady geeks!  This month’s theme was, “The Gang’s All Here,” and was teased as featuring items from, “the teams that right the wrongs, solve the mysteries, and have one another’s backs as they fight the good fight.”  Lots of possibilities to choose from!  The front of the product card is even a coloring page featuring Buffy and her gang.  This box arrived just yesterday, right on time with their usual shipping schedule.

  • Rogue One “I Rebel” Beanie – It’s a really heavy, thick beanie hat in a grey knit with a bit of embroidery on the front that says, “I Rebel,” over the rebel logo.  I’m definitely more into Star Trek than Star Wars, but even so, this is a great hat and will definitely come in handy this winter!
  • Charmed Triquetra Scarf – It’s a light chiffon infinity scarf in a purple ombre with the Triquetra or Trinity Knot printed in white all over the scarf.  The Triquetra is obviously from Charmed, but it’s also such a well-known Celtic symbol that it ends up being a little subtle nerd content that you wouldn’t necessarily know referred to Charmed unless you were part of the secret FanMail nerd club.
  • Spirit in the Sky Bath Bomb – From NerdieNifties comes this pretty lavender-scented bath bomb inspired by the Guardians of the Galaxy that has a mystery charm inside.  We have a teeny little bathtub at home, so I’m going to save this for a future vacation to a fancy place with a big old jacuzzi tub.
  • Harlequin Nail Wraps – From Espionage Cosmetics, these nail wraps feature a pretty design from a famous partner in crime to the Joker, Harley Quinn.  I already have this one in my nail wrap stash, but you can never go wrong with more nail wraps!
  • Rejected Princesses Enamel Pin – A nice little enamel pin marking the publishing of the book by the same name, Rejected Princesses.  I took a look at the book, and I want to know where was this when I was a kid?!  The book features real stories about, “women too awesome, awful, or offbeat for kids’ movies.”  Take that, Disney Princesses!
  • Rejected Princesses Trading Cards Set – Going along with the above pin is a set of four trading cards featuring different rejected princesses.
  • Harry Potter Golden Trio Postcard – Well, again, Harry Potter is just not my thing, but I know enough friends who love Harry Potter, so someone is going to get a just-because postcard in the near future.

There was no t-shirt this time, so in lieu of the t-shirt, they included a bonus item (mine is the Orphan Black comic book) and a discount code for their website.  There were also a bunch of promotional materials – A Quirk Books double chaplet of Geekerella and The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen, The Legend of Korra preview edition, a leaflet about ConTessa and a “Nevertheless She Persisted” bookmark from them as well, and two stickers for The Werewolf Diaries.

The subscription costs $21.99-$23.99 depending on your shirt size on a bimonthly basis.  I know the nail wraps retail for $10, the bath bomb is around $6, and with the scarf and beanie, the value easily exceeds the cost.  I think they worked the theme through the products really well this time and I really liked this box as a whole.  Plus, I got to learn about the Rejected Princesses project and it’s just so perfectly up my alley!

One Local Summer 2017 – Meal 2

Meal two of this year’s One Local Summer is in the books!  We’re still a little short on vegetables since it’s early in the growing season, but there’s plenty of spinach and mushrooms to go around, plus we had a new vendor at the market that had sheep’s milk feta, so the idea for this meal came together pretty quickly.  I found a recipe for a spinach and feta galette here, and with a few modifications, it ended up working as a perfect One Local Summer meal.  I didn’t have ricotta or sour cream, but I did have mushrooms, so I made a small change.  I probably should’ve added a bit more spinach to fill in the gaps, but really, it was fine without it, just a little thin.  I’m going to reveal one of my biggest baking tips here too – for the crust, instead of cutting the butter and pulsing it in a food processor, I freeze my butter and grate it into the flour.  It makes for a more even distribution of butter and a perfect flaky crust every time.  On the side is a simpleMâche salad with olive oil and our own homemade vinegar.  These greens are something I haven’t had before but are buttery and nutty and a real delight next to the galette.  The galette is also great as leftovers, reheated in the toaster oven!

Ingredients:
Mâche – Jack’s Farm
Butter – I think it was Yellow Springs Farm – the farm name isn’t on the label, but it looks like their font/style!
Flour – Mill at Anselma
Mushrooms – Oley Valley Mushrooms
Feta Cheese –  Day Spring Farm
Spinach – Charlestown Farm
Non Local – Olive Oil, homemade vinegar, salt

Benevolent Beauty Box April 2017

The Benevolent Beauty Box for April 2017 arrived today!  They’ve moved up their shipping schedule so that it ships mid-month which explains the earlier arrival this month.  That’s absolutely fine with me since this box is always a treat!  This also marks the one year anniversary of the box – I jumped on for their second box in May of 2016, so this is my 12th monthly box from them.  In honor of their anniversary, they sent out a special loyalty bonus which was the Bellapierre lip creme.  Even without the bonus, this box is pretty amazing!  It’s also the first that’s completely vegan.

  • Scrub Supply Co. Coffee Scrub – 100 g / $16.98 – (Product is full size)  HOLY COFFEE BATMAN.  This smells amazing.  I LOVE my morning cup of coffee, so naturally anything coffee scented is right up my alley, and this is a great, coarse sugar scrub that only has four ingredients.  Did I mention how amazing it smells?  We received a Turmeric scrub from the same company a few months ago and I’m loving that one too, so it’s great to see another product from this company.
  • Orglamix Cream Luminizer – 1.5 g / $18 – (Product is full size)  The color received is, “Illume.”  I’m just not into highlighters, and I received a similar version of this in another box last year.  The product is pretty greasy and the solid turns into an oil with the heat of your fingers in the pot.  Mine also released from the pot when I went to try it out.  I probably wouldn’t use this under or over any kind of powder since the oils would probably just eat up any powder, but I think I might actually like this better than the one from last year, so I’m not sure if maybe they tweaked the formula a little?  I could see this working out okay on summer days when you want a bit of a boost without wearing a full face of makeup.  It’s not quite as glittery or sparkly as the other one I have – it’s more of a subtle, rosy, pearlescent glow than a glittery sparkle.  And, of course, my dry skin would love the base of natural oils.  I may have to use this a few days to see how I feel about it.
  • Clarria Pure Primer – 1 oz / $50 – (Product is full size)  A primer with no silicones!  It’s unscented and dispenses with a thick, sticky cream/gel consistency.  A teeny little bit goes a crazy long way, so this is going to last me forever.  The ingredient list is a bunch of oils (jojoba, rosehip, avocado), so my dry skin is going to love this as a dual purpose moisturizer and primer.  It dries to a soft, matte, silky finish, and I REALLY REALLY like this.  I like it enough that I’d probably use it even if I’m not putting makeup on top of it since it feels so incredibly moisturizing too.  I’ve always been kinda meh on primers since I don’t usually do the whole foundation thing, but this is ridiculously amazing.
  • Modish Polish – 15 mL / $12 – (Product is full size)  The color received is, “Where’s my mojito?”  It’s a super pretty, minty, spring green and it’s just perfect!  The other variant was a pink color, so I’m super pleased to see this color in my box.  I already know and love this brand, and it’s nice to get such a fun color.  This is definitely going to be my next manicure!
  • OFRA Liquid Lipstick – 6 g / $19.90 – (Product is full size)  The color received is, “Mocha.”  I had actually gotten this same color in another box last year, but it’s become a fast favorite, so I’m happy to see it again!  The product has this light vanilla scent and goes on smooth, drying to a creamy, matte finish.  It’s a pretty, reddish nude and from past use, it really does last a good long while without drying out completely like some long-lasting lipsticks do.
  • Bellapierre Kiss Proof Lip Creme – 3.8 g / $20 – (Product is full size)  This was my loyalty bonus product.  The color received is, “Hibiscus.”  This is my favorite of all the lip colors ever, a really pretty red raspberry color.  The formula smells a little fruity and goes on as a light liquid cream.  It sets pretty quickly and it feels like it’ll last for hours and hours.  But the color!  I mean, it’s like they know me over there at Benevolent Beauty.  If I had to pick a single color out of the Bellapierre lineup, this would 100% be it.

Overall, the box value comes to $116.88!  Including the loyalty bonus, the box contains a total value of $136.88 in products which is INCREDIBLE for a box that costs $29.95 per month for a month-to-month subscription.  The big winner for me this month is the Clarria primer because it’s something I wouldn’t have searched for on my own, but it’s definitely a product I can see myself purchasing again because it’s just that amazing.  Both lipsticks are perfect, the nail polish is an OH YES, the coffee scrub is amazing, and I’m going to have to give the Orglamix Luminizer an honest try since it seems different than the one I tried before.  There was also a coupon code in the box for 33% off your first month at SerenaFit, and a note on the product card about this being Prevention to Animal Cruelty Month.  I really love the commitment this box has to being cruelty free that extends beyond the products!

Sephora Play! April 2017

The Sephora Play! for April has finally arrived today!  It’s a little later than usual, but it seems that my box variant, #575, was in the last batch to ship.  The theme for this month was, “Step it up,” so I expected something with intense colors, prestige brands, etc.  That didn’t really happen here.  The themes just never seem to be actual themes, just catchy slogans they trot out and then ignore when it comes to product selection.  I know I keep saying it, but for $10.60/mo including tax and shipping, I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining, but if you’re going to have a theme, stick to it.  The bag this month says, “The Best Things in Life Are Me,” and features a cartoonish girl in a tiara on the front with a pink ribbon.  Not my favorite bag, to be honest.  The design just isn’t to my tastes at all, and I think I prefer the more plain words-only designs.

  • Sephora Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover – 4.2 oz / $11 – (Product is .84 oz, value of $2.20)  This says it’s suitable for people with sensitive eyes, but it contains dyes and salt (sodium chloride).  There’s no reason for this to contain dyes other than to make it look pretty, and salt?!  Near your eyes?!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS?!  I don’t need a waterproof eye makeup remover since I don’t really use waterproof makeup, plus, I use natural oils to remove my makeup and it does a far better job with zero irritation (and only one ingredient!).
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Primer – 1 oz / $36 – (Product is .25 oz, value of $9)  I would honestly almost count this as a zero value item since I know I’ve received this multiple times as a free sample on Sephora.com orders.  I have about five of these exact same size lying around already, and there’s nothing stepped-up about a primer that everyone’s already gotten a sample of a few times.  It’s okay – it’s a basic, silicone-based primer – but it’s nothing new or special.
  • Kate Somerville Exfolikate – .5 oz / $24 – (Product is .25 oz, value of $12)  The third ingredient is polyethylene, so the little exfoliator bits are plastic.  There is actually a ban on plastic microbeads passed in 2015 that goes into effect on July 1, 2017, and I’m not sure why Kate Somerville hasn’t gotten on board yet since these little plastic exfoliator beads are huge pollutants.  I did give this a try – the exfoliation action is much more of a fine sand than a coarse scrub.  It has a fresh, green and cinnamony sort of scent that isn’t overpowering.  Unfortunately, the use of plastic exfoliator beads is a huge problem for me, and I’m really surprised that they haven’t bothered to change their formula since the law is due to go into effect in a few months.
  • Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau de Toilette – 1.7 oz / $80 – (Product is .04 oz, value of $1.88)  Stinky floral mess.  I really can’t handle floral perfumes and this contains both violet and jasmine, so it’s a huge nope for me.  As usual though, I enjoy getting these samples since it helps me figure out what perfumes I do and don’t like.
  • Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream – 48 mL / $52 – (Product is 7.5 mL, value of $8.13)  This is a perfect fit for my dry skin profile.  The first bunch of ingredients are silicones, so I feel like this could double as a primer too.  It dispenses as a completely unscented gel, but goes on like water, and it makes my skin feel super soft.  It’s a shame this company tests on animals, or I’d be first in line to buy the full size!
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Waterproof Eyeliner – .04 oz / $21 – (Product is .01 oz, value of $5.25)  It’s a basic black eyeliner.  The formula does go on nice and velvety matte and richly pigmented, but again, it’s not what I’d call stepped-up – it’s a pretty basic sort of item.  I guess the brand is maybe the stepped-up part?  Unfortunately, the company tests on animals, so this isn’t something I’d buy again since there are plenty of cruelty-free eyeliners out there.

Overall, the value of the box comes to $38.46 which is pretty much average, and a great value for the cost of only $10.60 per month including tax and shipping.  This is a far better box than last month’s, and I appreciate the diversity in products this time around!  Unfortunately, only one product this month is from a completely cruelty free company, Marc Jacobs.  Smashbox is owned by Estée Lauder, and Kate Somerville by Unilever, so even if they individually are cruelty free, their parent companies are not.  It also marks yet another box with an Estée Lauder brand.  I’m still waiting on that 100% cruelty free box, Sephora.  With Earth Day this month, they totally had a chance too!

Kloverbox April 2017

April’s Kloverbox is here, and for the second month in a row, I’m underwhelmed.  This is supposed to be a big box from them since it’s the month with Earth Day, so I expected some neat, Earth Day related sort of products that focused on natural, sustainable ingredients, or replacing disposable items with something reusable.  That really didn’t happen here.  It feels like a random hodgepodge of items, one of which is a repeat (the bracelet).  I’ve already cancelled my subscription since two boxes that are a poor fit are kind of my rule of thumb for cancelling.  There’s one more left on my pre-paid subscription, but I can’t say I have high hopes.

  • Zabana Essentials Dry Shampoo – 2 oz / $12.95 – (Product is full size)  The scent is Lavender Citrus Mint, and it smells completely unappealing.  The three really just don’t go together in my world, and they’re just fighting each other instead of blending together.  (Have you had orange juice after you brushed your teeth?  Yeah, like that.)  Beyond that, it’s dry shampoo.  The product says you have to distribute it by brushing it in, and you DO NOT EVER EVER BRUSH CURLY HAIR.  EVER.  So, this is useless for me.  Nevermind the fact that dry shampoos are meant to soak up oil and extend time between washing, but if you don’t have enough oil on your scalp and hair to soak up, it just makes your hair look dull and lifeless (I don’t – I add oil to my scalp to keep it from peeling apart, so dry shampoos are a huge nope in my world).
  • Elements of Aliel No. 2 Peace Cleanser – 2.5 oz / $15 – (Product is full size)  This was the only item in the box that I was interested in.  When I peeled back the inner foam seal, the scent was extremely disappointing.  It smells… wrong.  I can’t quite describe it other than that it doesn’t smell like something you would ever want to put on your face.  Almost like the compost bin or the damp, decaying leaves in the woods?  It’s a dark brown liquid, and just a little bit produces a rich lather that cleans nicely.  Just.. hold your breath while it’s on your face I guess.
  • MudLove Bracelet – 1 bracelet / $8 – (Product is full size)  We received the version of this that said, “Thankful,” in the November 2015 box, and I didn’t want it then either.  Yes, the charity is great and provides clean water for a week to someone in need, but I’m just not the type of person who wears stuff like this.  Inspirational slogans are just not me, the bracelet design isn’t my style, and I prefer to give my money to charities without receiving something I don’t need or won’t use in return.
  • AvoSeedo – 1 item / $12.99 – (Product is full size)  Well, I don’t have kids and don’t live in a climate where we can grow avocado trees outdoors, so this is useless to me.  They sprout up fast enough without using a special plastic growing tray, and I just don’t see the point to this.  Sprout an avocado pit, put it in a pot where it’ll never grow avocados where I live?  I’m just not into it.

Overall, the box value comes to $48.94 which is just shy of double the cost of $25 for a month-to-month subscription.  My personal value is only $15 for the cleanser which, even though it smells awful, it still works well enough, so I’ll still use it.  There’s a note on the product card that a vendor, Naturally Clean, pulled out of the box due to a health issue, and the product will end up in the July box instead.  I won’t be subscribing for the July box, so I’m feeling a little bit cheated out of a product here.  Maybe ignorance would’ve been bliss?  The rest of the box was a complete miss for me – I know people love dry shampoos and bracelets and there are probably subscribers who will love the AvoSeedo, but I’m not that person, and this box was a huge bummer for me.  I was pretty psyched about this box being bought out and given a makeover by new management, but between this and the last box, I’m finding it’s just not a good fit for me.  Oh well, this gives me an opportunity to move on and try new things!