Thursday, January 30, 2014

EcoEmi - January 2014 - Full Review

Hi friends,

Oh my, oh my! 2014 is starting really good with EcoEmi, this was by far one of the best boxes I have received this year! (LOL).
EcoEmi January 2014

Aura Cacia - Foam Bath - A+
Full Size (one packet) $3.29
I love Aura Cacia! Their products offer a great quality bathing experience and they are cruelty free and entirely botanical. This one has a very bright (summery) scent which I needed when considering the amount of blah weather we have had in NJ these past few weeks. The foam version of this aromatic bath is very soft and puffy...I thought it was very nice to play around with (yes, I am like a 5 year old when I take baths) and it lasted a long time too! Check out the Aura Cacia website for more fun products to try.
Sweet Riot - Dark Chocolate - A+
90 square cubes - $29.99

These chocolates are just divine! A cube of four was all I needed to satisfy my chocolate craving this week! Each square is only 25 calories and the intensity of the 70% cacao is really all you need to feel like you are indeed treating yourself, guilt-free. SweetRiot, as a brand, has been getting a lot of publicity lately (as seen on tv etc.) Check them out here.
Marie Natie - LipGloss - A-
0.27 oz is $18.00
Originally, I thought that $18 was a bit pricey for a simple  lip gloss. But overall, the quality does justify the high price tag. This is a beautiful shade of hot pink meets raspberry  glitter glamour! It is very suitable for daytime and nighttime wear and the color payoff is very close to what you see on my hand (above). As for the formula, it is a lacquered, thick gloss, so if you are not into gooey lips and thick layers of gloss, this one is not for you. For that reason I cannot give it a higher mark since I felt it was a bit too much as a sensation (heavy feeling). Otherwise, it is very hydrating (enriched with natural oils) and I would recommend you check out the Marie Natie website for see other colors within this line...
Image Source
Derma E - Evenly Radiant kin Trio - B+
Full Size - $15.95 to $27.95

The cleanser was very nice, a clear gel-like formula that did a great job at removing my makeup, even tough mascara. The dark circle cream was also nice to use, however, I did not care for the brightening night cream. I thought it was too thick and required a lot of working through the get it to penetrate my skin. That being said, all three left my skin moisturized and supple. You can check out their entire line and other ranges at the Dermstore online.
African Black Soap and Shaving Kit - F
Full Kit $29.99
I just hated this product and I can tell you why: I could not get past the smell. It is very intense, sort of like hemp mixed with wet cardboard. It bothered me while I was doing the video review and could not get rid of the scent throughout the day. As a result, I did not try the black soap - plus it looks too gross.
Sorry, EcoEmi, I know a lot of people swear by this stuff, I guess it's just too different for me.
Aquanatural - Sponge - B+
7 pieces - $7.75
I think this is a pretty good deal for natural sponges (just a bit over $1 each). I tried mine on my face the first night and it was a bit rough, so if you are looking for an exfoliating sponge, this one would be very good. As a body sponge, it's a tad too small (at least the sample was) but does a great job on elbows and knees. I like it.
Natural Flower Power - All Purpose Cleaner - B+
I was very excited to try this product on my wooden floors. Overall, it did a good job as a cleaner, did not leave much streak and smelled delightful with hot clean water. Nice suds too. Unfortunately, I did not find that it had great lasting scent - I would have expected the Lavender to linger a bit longer. If you are allergic to cleaners or have pets who are allergic to cleaners, this one would be ideal. I did not try it on tiles, and therefore cannot rate it for that kind of surface. There is a large variety of natural cleaners on their website you may be interested to check out for yourself.
Unfortunately, I also received a soy candle I cannot review since I did not take pictures and already used to the bottom of the tin. It was a soy candle in chocolate raspberry scent from Natures Natural. I loved it and sure enough, I cannot find them on the web to provide you with a link. I apologize for that.
So, overall, this was another great box from EcoEmi, aside from the black soap scent aversion episode. I am still very much looking forward to my monthly box and cannot see myself cancelling the subscription anytime soon! Thanks again Christine!
Thank you for reading and sharing my blog.

Happy New Year,

Sophia, NJ.

You can find me on FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE.

*This blog contains affiliate advertising such as Vera Bradley. I am not solicited to advertise or review products, all opinions are my own. I am not affiliated with ecoemi or any other brand mentioned in this post.

Birchbox - January 2014 - Full Review

Hi friends,

I sort of knew it would be too good the be true, the last Birchbox (December 2013) which was pretty good and reconciled me with the entire concept, gave way, alas, to a lousy batch.
And, after an entire year of being on the fence, I think I am just about ready to cancel my subscription.
I will wait for the February Box to make a final decision, but I am close to 90% sure Birchbox is toast for me! Why?



Klorane - Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk - D
Full Size $18

I know that a lot of bloggers rave about this product and dry shampoos in general. As with every other review on my blog, this is my opinion, and my opinion only, based on my experience.
Outside of camping and being under medical care (unable to move) I just cannot see the point of Dry Shampoos, any of them.
Further, Birchbox is supposed to be tailoring the boxes to my needs and likes. Quite frankly, having written in my profile that I have coarse, frizzy and unmanageable hair, that should be a red flag that Dry shampoo just ain't for me!
I explain: in order to get the product to work its supposed magic, one is expected to repeatedly comb or brush through their hair so that the stuff is provided ample opportunity to absorb oil and other gunk  (the result of lack of shower). At the end of said ample brushing and combing through,  two things will happen to my hair:
1- it completely loses its natural curls, bounce and otherwise shape to morph into
2 - a two sided flat panel in shades of dull.
I now have tried 4 dry shampoos between January 2013 and January 2014 - three of them from Birchbox, each was a disaster. Klorane, though is in the better scent category, provided the exact same effect. In conclusion, Dry Shampoo is not for frizzy curly hair, all it does is deodorizes the scalp in manner of powdered carpet shampoos...and we all know that these don't work at cleaning the rug either! 
Camille Beckman - Body Butter - Midnight Monarch - B+
Full Size $15

This is an okay body lotion with a very nice scent - in the like of high end perfumed body lotions. The formula is pretty standard, again, nothing out of the ordinary here, but there is an added bonus from the scent, a flowery musk,  which makes it very suitable as a wear alone scent. I enjoyed it, but will not go out of my way to purchase it on my own. Check out Camille Beckman's website, there seems to be a lot of goodies to look at and maybe purchase.
Paula's Choice - C15 Booster - C
Full Size $45

I have heard of Paula's Choice - in a good way - and was excited to try this product. However, it was a big disappointment to me. The formula for this anti-aging liquid is nothing like that of a serum, which I thought it would be. The texture is more like water, it completely runs in between fingers and to me that is a lot of expensive product being wasted on knuckles. It has no scent, I am assuming this is a good thing, and once applied (whatever was salvaged) it quickly absorbed like a nothing. I used this for an entire week and did not see any difference but I heard that Vitamin C helps other creams penetrate deeper, hence the C rating rather than a complete fail. The price is just too prohibitive for something that is so wasteful in its application. Check out more Paula's Choice products here.
Under Armour - Braided Mini Headband - D-
3-pack $19.99

Under Armour is a very interesting brand. They provide a lot of undergarments (tops and bottoms) for sports fanatics, tough mudders and the military, not to mention hunting enthusiasts. Their fabrics are sweat and odor resistant, sustain extreme cold temperatures etc. If you are very athletic and run a lot, you probably know about the company itself.
At first, I was not all that thrilled about the headband: the color itself is very reminiscent of sneaker laces to me, even worse, 1980's laces and I try my best to forget my 80s growing pains, hair and all...It's just not my style. Well, lo and behold, the band did not fit my head, it's just too small. I can't give it a fail since my head size is the problem, but it sure is not all that good looking in the first place.
100% Pure - Fruit Pigmented Mascara - B
Full Size $18

This is an okay mascara. What I liked about it is the scent: fruits! Other than that, the brush is a standard mascara brush, no big deal, the pigmentation is pretty good and it has okay staying power. There are better mascaras for the same price. But check out 100% Pure online, they have a lot of organic, cruelty free and environmental friendly products.

So there, Birchbox was a semi fail this month for me. Outside of the body butter, there was nothing impressive about this box and still it was just an okay lotion that turned out to smell great! I get plenty of that with my vast collection of Bath and Body Works stuff already.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, February will probably be my last box.
If you were on the fence about whether to get Birchbox, I probably will do a final post with an entire year worth of boxes (next month) to give you an idea (and average) about the boxes, month after month. They are still fun to get, but since I am finally off the Ipsy (Glam Bag) waiting list, I won't need three subscriptions!

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog.

Happy New Year,

Sophia, NJ.

You can find me on FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE.

*This blog contains affiliate advertising such as Vera Bradley. I am not solicited to advertise or review products, all opinions are my own. I am not affiliated with Birchbox or Ipsy Glam Bag.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

How to organize a catch-all drawer - Part I

Hi friends,

Today I begun the process of sorting out and organizing my many catch-all drawers around the house, specifically the dining room and living room.
Next week, I will tackle the living room dresser, but today, I went up against this monster:

Well, at least the top drawer, which looked like this:

I think we all have one of those catch-all drawers, maybe you call it a junk drawer. It is the "quick hide this" option for those of us who never really thought through this entire process of O-R-G-A-N-I-Z-A-T-I-O-N, until today.

You can watch the entire process in this video where I also explain some of the thought process that went into determining the function of this specific drawer:

I started by methodically emptying the drawer and using the top surface of my dresser for sorting. On the right side, I kept all items related to stationary and writing (sort of like a mini office) and on the left, all items that are dedicated to the dining room itself.

And in the middle, all the stuff that does not belong to either category and needed to be sorted and moved somewhere else! And that was most of the junk in there!

I cut a flat piece of wood to size (a leftover from my boys' bunk beds) and used it as a divider for the drawer itself, clearly separating the two categories/functions I designated for the drawer (stationary + dining items only).

And here is the right side: all stationary - I am up-cycling the tin box to store all the new batteries.

On the left side, I am using the same system whereby I separate my category further with additional containers. I find that when things are contained, they do not fall out, roll or get tangled.

And voila!

Overall, this was a rather fast project to complete - and I truly feel like an idiot for having procrastinated for so long! Next week end I will be moving on to the three drawer monster that is in my living room!

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog.

Happy New Year,

Sophia, NJ.

You can find me on FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE.

Vera Bradley Designs, Inc.
*This blog contains affiliate advertising such as Vera Bradley. I am not solicited to advertise or review products, all opinions are my own.



Saturday, January 4, 2014

EcoEmi - December 2013 - Full Review

Hi friends,

Another excellent box from EcoEmi this past December, I was very impressed with the selection and for the most part enjoyed every product.

EcoEmi December 2013

To begin, this was a very festive box and very obviously themed around Christmas, which I thought was refreshing as opposed to a more generic set up. It came with a beautiful red bag, beaded in gold polka dots design (mom is keeping it as she says it is large enough for her camera and other nick knacks she travels with).

The Party Fairy - Tree Cookie Cutter
Full Size - $4.75 each.

I am not rating this item since it is pretty much a "what you see is what you get" kind of thing. It s a good shape to have around the holidays and since I only have star cookie cutters at home, I was actually happy to receive this one as well.
I checked out the Fairy Party on their Etsy shop and was surprised to see that they have a large variety of items related to birthdays and holidays and some are just too cute to pass. I am definitely bookmarking their site to check it out some more. In the meantime, here is a little snippet from the Fairy Party Etsy Shop:

The Fairy Party on Etsy

Plantables and Paper - Seed Paper
25 paper trees $18.75

This is another item I cannot rate as it is not Spring yet. Basically, the recycled tree shaped paper contains tiny wildflower seeds, you simply plant it, water and watch your stuff grow. Pretty neat. I am not sure whether the price is reasonable but I think these would make an excellent party favor for the environmental friendly and creative folks out there. I like it.

Plantables and Paper is also an Etsy Shop and I am really liking the fact that EcoEmi has been focusing a lot on these mom and pop shops in the past few boxes:

Plantables and Paper Etsy Shop

They have a wide array of party favors, cards, papers and some are very creative as well. Check it out, it's very different and would set you apart at your next party!

Blum Naturals - Exfoliating Daily Cleansing Towelettes  C
30 Towelettes - $7.49

I was super excited when I received these two towelettes, for one, I love the scent of orange, and I also like using facial towelettes in the evening, when I am in a hurry to get to bed.
Unfortunately these were not good. They did clean off all my makeup and mascara, leaving my skin clean and fresh. For that result, they should receive a good mark. The towelettes are actually fairly large and are plenty for face and neck.
However, they are supposed to be exfoliating and the texture of the sheets themselves, though they have some kind of orange dots on them (you can see that in the video at the end of this post) these dots offered no scrubbing action. Further, and maybe it was my batch of towelettes, the orange scent was not "saturated" as mentioned on the card, in fact it was barely there. I was expecting some kind of BAM and felt very disappointed, no orange smell, at all, hence my C rating.
As cleansing towelettes, they are ok, they are also quite affordable (30 for $7.95), as an experience, it was a dud for me.

You can check out Blum Naturals online, they seem to have quite a lot of products to offer, I just would not recommend the towelettes. 

Wash - Aah Bath Soak - A
Full Size - 16 oz. $12.00

I had a very nice bath experience with this soak. "Made with Epson Salt, Dead Sea Salt, Eucalyptus Essential Oils and Spearmint". These salts melted well in my tub and the scent was just delightful. I can't say i was fully relaxed afterwards as the result of the Epson Salt but my skin felt very silky and best of all, there was no residue to wash off the tub. The scent also lingered on my skin for the rest of the evening, that's a plus. Really liked this product!

I had a hard time finding them on the web, it turns out that their Epsy shop is called Washpdx!
So far, there is not a large range of products, but this one I would consider purchasing and gift to others as well. I am interested in trying their Sugar Scrub Cubes.

Wash Epsy Shop

Fortune Cookie Soap - OCD Candy Cane Hand Sanitizer - B
Full Size - $2.89

I have heard of Fortune Cookie Soap as a company and was very happy to find one of their samples in my box this month. This hand sanitizer does not have an overpowering candy cane scent and does not smell like alcohol either. It is a fluid gel with tiny moisturizing beads and glitter (but it does not leave your skin all shimmery). Overall, it is a good hand sanitizer that does not dry your hands and I believe this was a full size item as well. I like it and it already found its home in my purse.

Omnijo - Winter Wonderland Goat Milk Soap - A+
Full Size - 6oz. $7.00

I love this soap! It has a wonderful pine forest scent that is not overpowering like other holiday soaps can be. The suds are very creamy and rinse well. The soap itself has a waxy texture but is not oily. It does a great job as a kitchen soap and I also tried it on my face. It did not leave my skin taut or dry. This is a great soap all around. This one and other goats milk products can be found on the Omniio wesite.

Sage's Aromatherapy - Natural Herbal 
Decongestant Salve A+
Full Size . 2 oz $8.75

You know Vick's Vapor Rub. This is the natural version! What an amazing product. I was not feeling my best the other night and quickly turned to this little jar of goodness. I applied some on my chest and a bit on the sole of my feet before wearing fuzzy socks. The following morning I was all better!
This is a creamy/waxy texture, but it really is not greasy at all, in fact, some of my dislike about Vicks is that it will stain your pajamas, this did not. It absorbed very well and while you can smell the Eucalyptus, it is not irritating to the nose at all. Really, really good product, I highly recommend it and I believe my boys would rather use this over the drugstore variety.
Sage's Aromatherapy is also available on Etsy with over 80 different products worth checking out:

Sage's Aromatherapy Etsy Shop

Brija Cosmetics - WhiteLighter EyeShadow - D
5g Jar - $5.00

So by now, you must know I am a big fan of makeup, and whenever there is a makeup item in my EcoEmi box, I go bonkers! Well, I did not care for this one, not one bit. It comes off as a very powdery, talc like eye shadow with a light yellow hint. For those of us who need corrective colors, I guess it would be fine, but for me, yellow just comes off yellow, and that is not a good look at all. Further, this is loaded with shimmer and quite frankly, the brightness of it is just not wearable for me. I did try it at the corner of my eyes and that was a bit better, but as an over the lid or brow arch shadow, that's a negative. Did not like it.

I also checked out their website and was not impressed. It looks like this whitelighter shadow comes from a summer collection. I did not see any color in their shadows I would enjoy. THe website is also difficult to navigate and not pleasant to look at. I sound like I am torturing them here, but frankly I was disappointed all around with this brand. Sorry!

You can see all these products in action in my latest YouTube video:

So there you have it, the last EcoEmi box for 2013 and Christine ended the year with another great box (aside from the horrendous eye shadow). EcoEmi is still my favorite subscription box! At $15 per month, I still think it is a great box, well worth the investment! I also love the fact that there is more and more focus on Etsy shops!

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog.

Happy New Year,


You can find me on FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE.

Vera Bradley Designs, Inc.

* This blog contains affiliate advertising. I am not affiliated with ecoemi or any of the product companies mentioned in this post. All opinions are my own.

Birchbox December 2013 - Full Review

hi friends,

A tad late, since this is the December 2013 box, but here is the full review of the products I received.
To begin, I thought this was a very good box. This was supposed to be the end of year one and I believe my 12th box (one year) since I started my subscription with Birchbox in 2012. As you know, I have kept ambivalent about the subscription because the boxes are always hit or miss for me. I have to say, though, that the last few boxes have been pretty good and this one is no exception. Is Birchbox my favorite subscription box? Still not! I find that while I enjoy trying and discovering products, they are always high end stuff I would never buy as stand alone for myself.

This is the holiday 2013 Birchbox - Sparkle and Shine

Hair Rules  - Nourishment leave-in Conditioner - A
Full Size $12

I am always looking for a leave-in treatment to tame my frizzy hair. This one did the trick for me. This is a "lightweight hydration that detangles and revitalizes with honey, ginger root, and gardenia".
I applied it on damp hair before blow drying and found my hair to be smooth and very manageable. The following day, my hair had maintained its style, which is a plus and selling point for me. I recommend this product and will purchase it, since I find it to be affordable when considering the results. Visit the site to purchase your own: Hair Rules Leave-in Conditioner.

Borghese - Splendore Brightening Makeup - B
Full Size - $30

I thought this was a very generous size sample - more like a large travel size. This is a brightening cream (very fluid) loaded with shimmer in a champagne color. "Light diffusing liquid shimmer that veils imperfections and leaves a subtle glow".
Overall, I found this cream to be too bright and sparkly, you can add it to your foundation to add a bit of glow to your face though. As a stand alone it is just too much and not very discreet on the face. Generally, I thought the texture and consistency were good, it does blend well with my liquid foundation and does leave a hint of shimmer, but I would not wear this during the day. I also found it was a bit greasy and did not stay well by end of day. I would not purchase it and quite frankly am not sure how much use I would have out of this product since I tend to shy away from shimmer. I guess it's just not for me, but I can see how other users may find it to be great.
You can check it out on the Birchbox site: Borghese Brightening Makeup.

Phenome - Rejuvenating line Minimizer - B
Full Size $78

I was very excited to try this product since I love using serums under my regular moisturizer. "Creamy hydrator made with 100% plant water that helps banish dryness and fine lines".
Overall, I found the scent to be very pleasant. It has a medicinal plant aroma, with a hint of licorice, and as a scent, does feel very luxurious when you apply it to the face. 
As for the texture, it comes out as a lightly tinted cream, almost like a paste. I did not care for the application itself, the product blends well at first, but is not slippery, as a result it pulls on the skin as you try to complete the application. It does leave my skin with a matte finish which is my preferred finish. 
As for the result, I cannot say I noticed any difference. I also need to take into account that a sample size this small would not yield earth shattering results. That being said, at first impression, I do not think this is something I would purchase, not to mention the price ($78) which is too prohibitive for me. Check it out on the Birchbox site: Phenome Line minimizer.

Antica Farmacista - Hand Cream - B
Full Size - $18

I really love the scent for this hand cream, it is a mix of verbena, lemon and cedar. Very clean and fresh. "Luxe formula that nourishes with shea butter and vitamin E, leaving a fresh citrus scent".
This is a thick texture, similar to a body cream. It applies very well, absorbs well and does not leave a greasy film on your hands. The scent, again, is wonderful but very reminiscent of the kind of hand creams you would find at high end kitchen stores (think Williams & Sonoma). By that, I mean that the lemon scent itself is not something I would wear on a regular basis as it is more of a side of the sink type of scent, if I even make sense here.
Otherwise, it is good quality and I enjoyed using it. Would I purchase it? No (I have too many similar products). I don't even think it would make a great gift since it comes in a tube that is rather blah looking:

Image Source

I checked the company's website (Antica Farmacista). The site itself is absolutely beautiful and projects a sense of luxury on its own, but the company specializes in Home Frangrance and Scented Oil Diffusers. I am not sure if I would turn to them for a Hand Cream.

Twistband - Hair Tie - A
Pack of six - $10

This was actually the first time I tried one of those twistbands everyone raves about, and I completely understand the hype. It's just too bad I cut my hair and have no use for it at this time. But I did wear it as a bracelet and thought it looked pretty cool. I just find the price to be a bit hight ($10 for six) when considering this is the kind of stuff we lose all the time!

Birchbox also sent this little gizmo below as an add-on this month. Basically, this is advertisement for their new mobile app (something I would not use) and came with a little sticky thing (the black diamond) you would stick to the back of your phone and use to clean your screen with. I think it's pretty cool as a concept but as a person who tries to eliminate germs around me, not to mention that my phone cover is full of sparkles and therefore does not have a flat surface to stick this thing to...This is not something I would use. Therefore, I cannot rate it. But it's cool nonetheless.

So there you have it, it was a good box, I enjoyed the products, especially the leave-in conditioner and am eagerly awaiting my next box. 
Thank you Birchbox for a good year, even though you almost got nixed (by me) last summer!

Here is my Open Box video, if you want to see the products in action:

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog.

Happy New Year,


You can find me on FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE.

Vera Bradley Designs, Inc. * This blog contains affiliate advertising. I am not affiliated with Birchbox or any of the product companies mentioned in this post. All opinions are my own.
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