Sunday, June 29, 2014

Vera Bradley Sale - 50 to 60% off selected designs until July 16th

Click the link below:

What is on sale at 50 % off?

from top left to right: Bittersweet, Citron, Julep Tulip
from bottom left: Olivia Pink, Tutti Frutti, Venitian Paisley

Vera Bradley Designs, Inc.


60% off these patterns - two days only - ends 6/29
Click the link below:

Shop the Vera Bradley Summer Sale! 60% off Select Colors 

From left: Marina Paisley, Go Wild,  Va Va Bloom, Portobello Road, Baroque, Happy Snails

Happy Shopping!

I am affiliated with Vera Bradley - purchases through my links earn commissions which help support my blog.

Eco Emi - May 2014 - Full Review

Hi friends,

I am back with my complete review on yet another EcoEmi Box. For those of you who are not familiar with EcoEmi, it is a $15/month sample subscription for natural, organic and environmental friendly products. They are now starting a new $10 plan with 4 products per box and also offer special edition boxes. You could get anything from household to food items included cosmetics and skin care. I really love my EcoEmi box, it is always feeling like Christmas whenever I receive it. That being said, and having been a subscriber for close to 18 months, I was disappointed by almost every box in 2014 - until this one came along!

EcoEmi - May 2014
I guess it was a Mother's Day special, not sure, but it did look quite feminine with the lace trim and rose petals included. Not that it matters all that much, but I feel that Christine goes the extra mile by always giving her box contents a specific look through small creative touches. Let's dive into it:

1. Anna Naturals - Herbal Teas (Cycle Ease - Energize - Sweet Dreams) - $11.99 / 26 bags

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am a big tea drinker and always on the lookout for new brands and/or flavors. I was very excited to receive and try these as I had never heard of the brand. Well, it turns out that they not only smell the same, regardless of the flavor, they also taste the same...blend. I fell these had little to no flavor, and did not finish any of the cups I made from Anna Naturals Teas. What a big disappointment and so expensive for what they are - I can get Teavana Tranquil Dream Loose-Leaf Herbal Tea for much less. I would put those on the Wall of Fails but since they did have some flavor, they remain at a D-.

2. Glee Gum - Wild Watermelon - Sugar Free - $1.09 / 1 pack

This is a full size product. I tasted those on the spot in the coordinating video when I first opened the box. At first, they are packed with flavor and very true to watermelon. Unfortunately, the gum hardens and loses all its flavor within 15 minutes of chewing. So this was another disappointment for me. They probably are good for those of us who want to quickly change the taste in our mouth and freshen up our breath without committing to chewing gum. Something any decent candy can do, so it's a B- for me.
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You are supposed to use this in guacamole, or mixed with chili, sour cream, cream cheese etc. To give your food a Tex Mex kick to it. Unfortunately, that is not my kind of cuisine, so to be honest, I was not looking forward to trying this. But my husband did. He used it as a rub on steak and as an added flavor for his chili. He thought it was OK, I thought it was too salty and had too many confusing flavors wrapped into one.  C+.

You must be thinking that this box, so far is a complete disaster...just wait!

I received a fairly large size sample which provided me with 3 separate masks and I am pretty sure I could have stretched it to 4 or 5 individual masks. This is a powder your mix with warm water to create a paste and apply directly onto clean skin. I was concerned that like all other mud masks out there, it would dry to a crackling disaster with bits and pieces falling all over the place and my skin being pulled in all sorts of directions. Not the case at all. This mask held on and maintained it elasticity until it was completely dry and once dry, while it crackled a bit, it did not fall off my faces in a crunched mess. It washed off very easily as well. The results? Oil absorbed yet skin remained moist, pores visibly diminished, skin tone more even with a pinkish hue, almost a bit of a glow to it (not a shimmer type glow, more like a "I slept 12 hours glow"). Overall, I felt this was a very good product. It is a bit messy to mix and apply (I recommend you do your mixing in a tiny bowl), so for that reason, I will not give it a +, but it is still an A for me.

5. AURA CACIA - Chill Pill - Lavender and Chamomile Essential Oil - $10.99 / 0.5 oz

This is a full size product. I love AURA CACIA , and so far, everything I have tried from them was amazing in results and scent. This essential oil combination is meant to relax your senses at bedtime, so you can add a drop on a pillow or dab it to your pulse points for example. They also suggested that you add a few drops in your car vent to deodorize your car and that alone, was well worth the entire box this month. What a great idea! It literally filled my car with the aroma of NATURAL Lavender and Chamomile, unlike the other stuff you buy at the store and is nothing more than factory made fragrance. This is quite powerful as a scent as well, so if you are allergic or susceptible to being bothered by powerful scents, this is definitely not for you. I have dark car seats, so instead of placing a few drops in my vents, I just went ahead and sprinkled my seats with the stuff. A month later, my car still smells like lavender! Great product, worth the investment. A+.

This was also a full size item. I am not sure why we continue to receive water based nail polishes. Thus far, this has to be the 3rd of 4th one I received since subscribing to EcoEmi. I get the concept, it is better for your nails, but the stuff does not stay on, EVER. Literally, it's gone by the end of the day, peeling itself off. Not chipping, it just peels off. So I tried it with a variety of base coats, which really defeats the purpose, it stuck to none. I tried it after washing my hands with the least moisturizing soap one can find (laundry soap), nope, still not sticking around. So I am not sure if it has to do with my nails or lifestyle or whether this is just the way it is, temporary nail polish you can apply before dinning out and remove before bed time. That being said, it has no scent, making it a good alternative for painting nails at bedtime (really, who does that!) and it is all natural. The color I received is not my style (copper) but I tried it anyway, I knew it would not stick around. That's another near fail for me, D-. In another color and a special occasion where I travel and don't want to be bothered with polish remover, maybe I would consider it. But the only use I can see for this right now, would be for little girls to play with without risking toxic fumes and damage to their nails. I still think it is quite expensive for the results it provides.

You just can't get any more natural than that: strawberries and sugar. That's is. How they manage for it not to spoil? I am assuming added oil. This does not only taste good, not that I recommend you start eating your cosmetics, it does a great job as well. The other day I purchased a foot scrub in preparation for summer (kiss my face - Foot scrub) and that one did nothing for my feet, even though it was specified for dried heels. I switched to using this, and WOW! What a difference! Now, this can be a bit harsh as a result of the irregularity of the sugar grains, but, if you are gentle enough (we're not scrubbing a caked on pan here) you could use this all over your body and especially on those rough spots (elbows and heels). The scents is great, overall I like this product BUT (isn't there always a but?) it dissolves too fast making it not economical. Perhaps if there was more oil in it to hold it together, it would work, but I felt that most of it disappeared from my hands by the times I rubbed one area of my body. So If you purchase this, I recommend you wet your skin first and scrub in an area of your tub where the shower water is not constantly dripping over you, otherwise, the stuff will be gone before you get to even apply it. A- for that reason alone, otherwise good product.

Overall, I thought this was a better than the last 4 boxes but still, some of the products were not fun or even working for me (nail polish, teas...). Do I continue to love receiving my EcoEmi box each month? Absolutely, I would not consider parting with this subscription, I think its fun, interesting and it also supports local mom and pops shops (American Brands). So yes, I am still subscribing! 

You can view my Open Box video on my YouTube Channel:

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Mailing address:

My Great Challenge
PO Box 402
CEDAR GROVE, NJ 07009-9998

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog.

Sophia, NJ.

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Chill out with cool summer teas and SAVE $10 off orders of $50 or more with code SUMMER10 at! (Valid 06/01 - 06/30)

Vera Bradley Designs, Inc.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ipsy - Glam Bag - May 2014 Review

Hi friends,

I don't know what happened with Ipsy this past May, but it was a "meh" bag for me! This is not about the bag itself, I thought that all the sample were quality products (except perhaps for the eyeshadow duo), and I was still very excited to receive and try them. I just felt this was outside the box bag for Ipsy, way too many face items, not enough makeup.

Ipsy Glam bag - May 2014

For those of you not familiar with Ipsy , it is a subscription cosmetic sample bag.  Every month, and for a mere $10 (shipping included), you would receive up to 5 items in deluxe/travel size and always a full size (or two). Personally, I think this is a great deal and even when the bag itself on any given month is not awesome, there is always something in it that makes it all worthy. This month, I just felt there were too many items I would not use on a regular basis and only one makeup, I will start with that:

1. Pacifica - Eye Shadow Duo - $7- $14

The Pacifica Mineral Eyeshadow Duo are coconut infused mineral eye shadows that are a perfect addition to any makeup collection. Packaged in a beautiful travel ready recyclable container, these exclusive duos are customized just for ipsy! These shades can be found in the Pacifica Mystical and Charmed Palette. Smooth application with gorgeous color pay-off. (Text quote from Ipsy Website)

I really like Pacifica as a brand. They are environment conscious and offer a great range of lotions in exotic scents like Tuscan Blood Orange Body Butter, which is my favorite. So far, and out of all the Pacifica products I have sample, I never was disappointed. Until this eye shadow duo. This is part of their Mystical Supernatural Eye Shadow Palette collection.

This duo is a nice shade of champagne and dark lavender or light iris. Both shadows are iridescent which is not always wearable for day time. I thought the powder formula was too dry and difficult to apply. And while the color of the purple is simply beautiful, the champagne was too yellow (not enough pink) for my fair skin tone. It also lacked staying power, probably as a result of being so dry. So overall, disappointed by these eyeshadows. B-.

2. Hang Ten - Classic Sport SPF 50 - Lotion - $12.99

Protect and nourish your skin with our clear, lightweight, naturally scented sunscreen. Provides maximum water resistance and full body coverage against harmful UVA/UVB rays.

- Oxybenzone Free, Paraben Free, Retinyl Palmitate Free, Non-Greasy, Non-Nano, Synthetic Fragrance Free 
 (Text quote from Ipsy Website)

I do not wear sunscreen (I know I should) simply because I cannot find one that is wearable for my combination skin. I always find them either too dry or too greasy, too thick or not working at all. This was by Hang Ten was too thick and greasy. While it did the job of protecting the top of my hand from scorching sun damage, it clogged the pores on my face, melted off after a few hours and left me a greasy mess. I did not break out but I could see my pores were significantly more visible after one day of using this in high temperatures and full sun. While this product obviously delivers what it says it delivers, I found yet another excuse not to wear sunscreen. I would rather wear a hat instead. C+.

3. Pur-Lisse - Pur - Moist - Hydra Balance moisurizer. $55

Achieve beautiful balance with the Pur-lisse pur~moist hydra balance moisturizer. Gently smooth over face day or night after cleansing and toning. Glides on like a gel and hydrates like a cream and never greasy. Hydates your skin to create a perfect canvas for makeup application. Dries down to a healthy glow. (Text Quote from Ipsy Website).

This is a lightweight moisturizer with a very fluid formula (almost like a milk lotion). It did a decent job at moisturizing my face but I did not find it to be above average and extraordinary in any way, I certainly did not find that my skin produced a "glow" after using it.  So, for $55 per tube, I would say it is just okay for me. B-.

4. Hey Honey - Take it off - Exfoliating Peel Off mask - $35

Instantly renews skin, leaving it refreshed and clean after only a few minutes. This gel mask helps promote a smooth and clear complexion for a post facial feeling. Take It Off! is quick and easy to use, so exfoliating you can feel beautifully refreshed, radiant and ready to go in just a few minutes.

- Moisturizes with luxurious Honey extract
- Brightens and smooths skin with the exfoliating power of Alpha Hydroxy Acids
- Non-irritating: this mask is on your skin longer than a typical AHA cleanser, therefore theconcentration of AHAs can be lower making it less irritating, but just as effective
- Paraben & S.L.S Free
(Text quote from Ipsy Website).

So here is something funny: I never was lucky with peel off masks. They crumble, they get stuck in my hair, I find them hard to remove for results that are at best similar to every other peel off mask. This one however was amazing. It applied well, it dried relatively quickly without leaving my skin tight and surprisingly, removed in one shot, a real peel off! The results: pores tight, skin brightened, Skin, moisturized, oil removed. I recommend this mask even though it is a bit pricey. A.

5. Balanced Guru - No Frizz Oil - Sesame seed and lemongrass - $13

Balance frizzy hair without the need to weigh it down with silicones. The Balanced Guru No Frizz Organic Sesame and Lemongrass Balancing Oil controls fly aways with a blend of Sesame, Grapeseed, Jojoba and Tamanu Oils. Show your hair who's boss even in humid and tropical weather. By the way, you will also get incredible shine and manageability. (TExt quote from Ipsy Website)

I am always looking or a hair product that would tame my mane. The longer my hair gets, the curlier it is - which makes no sense to me, you would think the length weighs it down. This is a very lightweight oil with an amazing scent. Very fresh, lemony of course as well as nutty. It does a great job and a tiny amount goes a long way. I was impressed with this Balanced Guru product and would consider purchasing a large size once this sample it empty. My hair feels soft and supple after one application and it definitely takes care of the frizz in particular on top of my head and those grays I have here and there that just will not stay in place. A.

So, as you can see, there was a mix of cheers and jeers in this bag hence my not being entirely thrilled with it. I heard a lot of similar reviews online, so i know it's not just me. Quick message to Ipsy - stick with the makeup!

This is the coordinating YouTube video for this bag:

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Mailing address:

My Great Challenge
PO Box 402
CEDAR GROVE, NJ 07009-9998

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog.

Sophia, NJ.

***************************    My Advertisers   *************************************

Chill out with cool summer teas and SAVE $10 off orders of $50 or more with code SUMMER10 at! (Valid 06/01 - 06/30)

Vera Bradley Designs, Inc.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Swatches and Stuff - June 2014 and a BBW Giveaway!!!

Hi friends,

To celebrate my big 3000+ YouTube subscribers, I am launching a new series: Swatches and Stuff, in which I go over some products and items I have (and sometimes have not) enjoyed over the past few weeks. This is a mix of "Bash it or Buy it" and "Monthly Favorites".
I really hope you will enjoy this series, and for the launch, I am also doing a giveaway (scroll down to bottom of this post for information about the giveaway).

Here is the video:

Let's begin:

1. Too Faced - Chocolate Bar - Eye Shadow Palette:

Chocolate Bar by Too Faced Cosmetics

Chocolate Bar (Too Faced) Swatches
 This is by far the most versatile palette I own, not to mention the delicious and oh so decadent chocolate aroma each time you use the shadows (it's infused with cocoa). I love it, there is nothing bad to say about this palette.

2. NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss and
3. Revlon ColorStay Moisture Stain

let me start with the NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss . I have Lala and Tea Rose. The formula is amazing, they have great staying power without being goopey or tacky. There is a drawback though, they stink (at least to me they do). I am not sure whether it is banana or bubble gum or perhaps banana gum. But I really do not like the smell, thankfully it dissipate after a few minutes! Both colors are very pretty for fair skin, I do like Tea Rose much better though.

Revlon ColorStay Moisture Stain in Exclusive is a total fail for me. The formula is very heavy and thick. I also do not care for the doe foot, which looks like a miniature cake spatula. Not to mention that the color is not accurate as opposed to the tube. I don't care for it.

4. Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Natural Beauty:

I was so excited when I finally had the funds to purchase this! Unfortunately, It is not my favorite for both color and staying power. I found it to be too pigmented for my fair skin and requiring too much blending (I just do not have time in the morning). Also, this formula does not stick around my skin too long and it is generally gone within 3 hours. I find that if I use a cream blush as a base, I will extend its longevity, but overall, I feel this is too expensive for the results I am getting out of it (very sad since I wanted to love it).

5. Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy in Checkmate and 
6. Covergirl Xl Nail Gel in Whole Lotta Guava (pink) and Plumped Up Plum (purple)

For some reason the Revlon polish crackled by the second day. It did not chip or flake, but crackled. Not a good look for that price ($9.99). It also took forever to dry (over 5 hours and I could still make a dent in it). Another fail for me!
On the other end, both Covergirl Xl Nail Gel gave me amazing results: they are beautiful colors, lasted an entire week without chipping or peeling (no crackle either) and dried relatively fast. I just wish there was a larger availability of colors for this formula (Sadly, I think there are only 10).

7. Organic India Tulsi - Sweet Rose Tea and
8. traditional Medicinals - Organic Chamomile with Lavender Tea

If I were to pick a favorite, the Sweet Rose would definitely win. It is unbelievably aromatic and delicious. I also found that it tastes great as an iced tea as well. The Chamomile Lavender tea is also very good, more chamomile than lavender, but a more subtle tea to drink at bed time.


And now for the giveaway!!!!

French Lavender and Honey Giveaway from Bath and Body Works

I am giving away this set of three (full size) products from Bath and Body Works in the scent French Lavender and Honey.
If you win, you will receive one (1) shower gel, one (1) body lotion and one (1) Body Spray.
These are brand new and still sealed.


You must be a subscriber to my YouTube Channel and
You must follow me on Facebook or Twitter (see below for addresses).
Open Internationally
You must be 18 years old or older otherwise you will need parental approval.

This giveaway is open for one week and will end on 
Sunday June 22, 2014 at 10 PM Eastern Time

Just follow the instructions below. Sometimes Rafflecopter encounters some issues with upsloading - just reload the page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you all for supporting my blog and YouTube Channel - I am nothing without you!

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