Tuesday, 30 September 2014

New from Fancy - iJustine Fancy Box

This post contains referral links.
What is it? iJustine Fancy Box
How Much? $39 per month, plus $17 shipping to Canada
What's in it? $80+ of products hand-picked by iJustine every month
There's another new Fancy Box curator! I will be honest, I have no idea who this person is. I had to Google her! According to Wikipedia:
Justine Ezarik is an American comedian, Internet celebrity, actress and occasional television host. She is best known as iJustine, a lifecaster who communicated directly with her millions of viewers on her Justin.tv channel, ijustine.tv.
This gal has over 1.7 million Twitter followers, over 2 million YouTube subscribers and over 430 million video views! She was named the "most influential person online" by Fast Company. According to IMDB, she has "brand ambassador deals with Mattel, Nikon, Ford, GE, Carl's Jr., Gillette, Taco Bell, Doritos, Skittles, Sharpie, Microsoft, and more", and I still have no idea who she is. I must be living under a rock.

After checking out her YouTube channel, Twitter, and Instagram, I'm thinking she's a replacement for the Ashton Kutcher Fancy Box. She fills the "tech" void left when the A+K box was discontinued.

Fancy Box is a monthly subscription box filled with cool and wonderful things. Some boxes are curated by Fancy editors and some, like this one, are curated by celebrities. Click here to see all the available boxes from Fancy. Fancy Box ships via FedEx, and takes less than a week to arrive.

Click here if you are interested in the iJustine Fancy Box.

Taste Japan Review - August/September 2014 - International Candy Subscription Box

This box was provided complimentary for review.
What is it? Taste Japan 
How Much? £15 GBP per month (approx $27 CDN), including shipping (via Paypal)
What’s in it? 400-650g of mouthwatering treats and candies exclusive to Japan
Taste Japan is a subscription services based in Japan. Each month they send a box filled Japanese treats and candies.  Taste Japan kindly sent me this box for review. The box shipped from Japan August 26th and arrived to me in Vancouver on September 3rd. That's incredibly fast for an overseas shipment! I've been waiting on writing my review because a friend and I have been trying the snacks. I took many of the items into work with me and sampled them with my co-workers. It's been quite a fun experience!

Taste Japan was founded by two British  guys living in Japan, so the product info card is also a bit of a letter. The guys let us know about a big sumo tournament, as well as some news about typhoon season. The sheet also included some facts about Japan. More product information is available online. The guys take the time to explain the products a little more, which was nice to see. 

Nameko Snack - Chocolate Flavour Corn Puffs
“Nameko” is the name of the mushroom character seen on the front of this box. Insanely popular with kids, he even has his own animation series, stickers, stationary, posters, comic book and theme song (really). A nameko is actually a type of Japanese mushroom – why it was turned into a cute cartoon character is another Japanese mystery.
These are shaped like mushrooms but taste like chocolate cocoa puffs. Not bad!

left to right, top to bottom

Suppai ume ni goyoushin (Beware of the sour plum)
It’s a candy snack as well as a game of russian roulette. Two of the gobstopper style candy balls are sweet and perfectly delicious plum flavor candy balls, while the last is a tongue twistingly, mouth meltingly, teeth shatteringly ball of sour plum straight from your childhood. 
The sweet ones were a tad sour too but the sour one was seriously mouth puckering. 

This one isn't on the product sheet or website... It's a mini white chocolate KitKat. I don't think I've ever seen white chocolate ones before. It's pretty good.

Wasabi Nori (Wasabi seaweed)
Another long-time favorite with Japanese people, this wasabi flavoured seaweed snack is actually made from a combination of seaweed and dried Ika (squid). Don’t let that put you off though, it doesn’t taste all that fishy.

I made the mistake of smelling it first. It smelled like fish food. The only person willing to eat it was my Asian co-worker. He said snacks like this are common in China, where he is from.
Hime-sama no kietatakara mono (The princess’s treasure which disappeared)
This one is a “double berry” flavoured cookie which just looking at makes us water at the mouth. A great little snack with an intense cherry flavour.
This was kind of like a fig newton but with strawberry jam. Very tasty.

Marshmallow Daifuku (x2)
“Daifuku” is usually a red azuki bean filled mochi (pounded white rice) snack served with green tea at traditional festivals and Japanese homes. It’s quite an oldschool Japanese snack which is definitely of an acquired taste. A little bit heavy, it’s not usually very popular with Western people. Fortunately, this candy producer has decided to sweeten the deal (literally) by changing out the traditional mochi shell in favor of a light fluffy marshmallow, and taking out the original anko bean paste for a strawberry or chocolate jam. We’ve included one of each in this month’s box so let us know which one you prefer!
The strawberry one was very good. The  chocolate in the other one was barely detectable.

Moringana Fish Crackers
I'm not totally sure that's what these are because they aren't on the product list, but they are small salty puffed crackers shaped like fish and stars.

Mixed Tsumami
From what we’ve gathered while living in Japan, “tsumami” just means finger snacks, or as we’ve come to think of it, “beer snacks”. A pack of these is often served with an ice cold Asahi Superdry when you walk into a traditional Japanese Izakaya, or on an Aeroplane / Shinkansen while you take a “business” trip. Most of them are a little salty and work very well with a cold drink. Don’t be scared of the whole fish, it’s perfectly edible and actually pretty tasty. Eyes and all.
When I first opened this bag I was thinking... awesome rice crackers! I love rice crackers. Then I looked in and saw an eyeball staring at me. They weren't kidding when they said there are whole fish in the bag. Tiny, one inch long, dried fish. I couldn't do it. My Asian co-worker happily ate them all.

Cabbage Taro
Well, look at that. A frog wearing a policeman’s uniform. We don’t really know why, but this cheeky little chap is the mascot for this ever popular packet of cabbage cornpuffs crisps/chips. This particular pack has a “sauce” flavor, which is the Japanese condiment often used with takoyaki or okonomiyaki. Kind of like a slightly sweet BBQ or worcester sauce. Delicious!
I couldn't put my finger on what these tasted like, but my friend suggested they were like cheese puffs.

Juicy Color Ball
Everyone loves juicy balls! Right?! A nice “ramune” (kind of fizzy) gum ball treat which seem quite similar to Skittles. A nice selection of fruit flavours which complement each other nicely if eaten a few at a time.
These reminded me of Skittles a little bit. The texture was a bit softer and lighter but the taste was similar.
Summer Berry Carnival Pocky
This is a limited edition summer berry and acai flavour version of the well known “Pocky” brand of Japanese candy. In the UK, these are sold as “Mikado”, but with less exotic flavours. It’s chocolate on a crispy biscuit stick which is absolutely perfect for dipping in a nice cup of hot tea or coffee. This is probably not how it’s intended to be eaten in Japan, but we implore you to give it a go!
Pocky is the only product here I am familiar with. It's sold everywhere in the Greater Vancouver area.They were the most popular treat in the box.

Horadekita! (Hey, I did it!) DIY Lolly
Another of the DIY series style of Japanese candy, this one lets you make your own lollipop (or should we say “popsicle”?). It’s pretty simple to “make” this one — just empty the included pack of candy sprinkles into the plastic tray, along with the chocolate spread in a separate area. Next, simply skewer one of the soft foamy banana flavored bases, and dip/roll it around in the chocolate and sprinkles to your hearts’ content.
This one was a treat for sure. Remember Fun Dip? It's kind of like that. The sticks are banana flavoured, and you dip them in chocolate sauce, then into sprinkles. It makes a mini banana split.
The August/September Taste Japan box included thirteen products! It's impossible to put an estimated value on this box, but when you factor in the overseas shipping costs, I'm sure it's worth the $27 CDN asking price. The value in a box like this one comes from the experience though. My friend Sarah and I had a great evening drinking wine and trying all the snacks. Some we would read up on first and some we tasted blind. It was a pretty funny night! I'm considering ordering a subscription for my friend for Christmas as she enjoyed the experience so much.

Click here to check out Taste Japan. If you sign up before October 20th, you will receive the October box, which is scheduled to ship between the 25th-27th.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Beauty Box 5 Review - September 2014 - Beauty Subscription Box + PROMO CODES

This post contains affiliate links.
What is it? Beauty Box 5
How Much? $12/month, $30/quarter, $99/year  plus $3 shipping per box
What's in it? 5 samples from your favourite beauty brands 
Beauty Box 5 is a beauty sampling service that sends 5 deluxe or full sized products every month. The boxes ship from Houston, Texas and usually take 1-2 weeks to arrive. Once again I didn't get a shipping notice for Beauty Box 5. The shipping label on my box says it shipped September 12th, which means it went out four days later than the target shipping date of the 8th. The box arrived September 22nd.

The theme for September is "Balancing Act" and includes products to help you take care of yourself while embracing new trends.

First look

Product card

My Beauty Spot Nail Polish - Unknown colour (12ml, $4.17)
This is the second time BB5 has included cheap, no-name nail polish, and just like last time, the only place I could find this "brand" online was through Groupon Goods. This polish has an incredibly strong chemical smell and is not something I want to put on my nails.

Sally Hansen Toe Spacers ($1.99)
This is the second time I've received toe separators from Beauty Box 5, the last one being October 2013. I wasn't impressed with them then and I'm not now... even though the gals at BB5 are trying to convince us there is SO much you can do with them.

Lashem 3 in 1 Eye Bright (5ml/0.17oz, $13.60)
BB5 has the brand for this listed as Chrislie Formulations but it's actually Lashem, a pretty well established brand. Chrislie is the distributor/parent company. This product is actually useful to me. It's an overnight serum meant to smooth, brighten, and firm the under eye area. Overtime it's supposed to diminish dark circles and wrinkles. A full size is 0.5oz for $40.

Nicka K Eyelight Crayon in Charcoal ($4.49)
This is a cream shadow in crayon form. It's not a product I would use, especially in the colour I received so it's been added to my sell/swap board.

Natural Style by FUBU Deep Conditioner & Co-Wash Samples 
"Natural Style by FUBU promotes healthy African American hair, in any form, whether it is permed, natural, straight, curly, transitioning or anything else in between." I found this information from another website because it was left off the Beauty Box 5 info card. BB5 suggests non-curly haired girls use it as a deep conditioner. Also of note, Natural Style by FUBU sends out these samples for free to anyone who requests them, which means these samples add no value to this month's BB5. I'm pretty sure BB5 is one of the few, if not the only, subscription box that continues to send foil samples that count towards the total number of products in the box. In my view, foil samples should be bonus products only.

The September Beauty Box 5 contained five products with an approximate value of $24.25. The only positives in this box are the Lashem and Nicka K products.While the Nicka K eye crayon isn't for me, it's still a decent product. The Lashem serum is the only thing from this box I will use. The nail polish is garbage. The toe separators are filler. The shampoo packets are freebies. It's another underwhelming box from Beauty Box 5.

If for some reason this review makes you want to subscribe to Beauty Box 5, you can get some great deals using the below promo codes. You can only use one so choose wisely!
  • YEARLY84 will save you $15 off a 1-year subscription. 
  • HALFOFF will save you 50% on your first month
  • FREEBOXME or FREEBOX1 will get you a bonus box for free when you sign up for any subscription. I believe it's the August box they are sending out as the bonus.

What do you think of this month's Beauty Box 5?

Friday, 26 September 2014

Bowzer Box Review - September 2014 - Canadian Pet Subscription Box + PROMO CODE

This box was provided complimentary for review.
This post contains affiliate links.
What is it? Bowzer Box
How Much? $29/month, $78/quarter, $138/half-year, plus $4.50 shipping per box.
What's in it? 5-6 items such as dog treats, toys, and accessories. May include full size toys and treats (wheat free), samples, and coupons from various brands.
Bowzer Box is a Canadian based subscription box for dogs. Bowzer Box caters to all dogs - small, medium, or large. Subscriptions start at $29 per month. You can save per box by pre-paying for a 3 or 6 month subscription. Shipping is only additional $4.50 per month. The box I received is aimed at a small dog, although now that the treats are going to Jack the Golden instead of Brynn the Mutt, I could probably use a medium box.

For the last few months, Bowzer Box has been sending out cute and fun themed boxes. This one is no different. The theme for September is "Down on the Farm".
September is a time to celebrate all things farm, from farmers markets to fall fairs. 
A couple months ago, Bowzer Box introduced a referral program for subscribers. As a subscriber, you can register with the program, and when friends use your unique link, they get 10% off and you get credits towards free boxes!
Amelia Biscuit Canadian Bacon Flavour Dog Treats (3 treats, $4.99)

Hero Dehydrated Dog Treats Veal Hooves (2 pieces, $4)

Smart n' Tasty Piggy Twist (5 inch, $3.99)

Stella & Chewy's Duck Duck Goose Freeze-Dried Dinner Patty (1 patty sample)

Norther Pet Products Lamberry Soft & Chewy Bites (4oz, $6.99)

Kyjen Mega Squeak Sheep ($14.99)
This is a hilarious stuffed "mat" that has 16 (yes, 16!!) squeakers in it. Jack is going to go nuts with this thing. His momma may go nuts as well though.

Poop Bags (~$1)

The September Bowzer Box included five products, valued at $36, plus a sample product. The "Down on the Farm" theme is fun and creative. All the products chosen fit the theme perfectly. It's another great box that features a great mix of products. I can't wait to give the Sheep toy to Jack!

If you are interested in trying Bowzer Box, you can save 10% off your first month's box. Just enter promo code CDNBOX at checkout and 10% will be deducted from your total. Click here to check out Bowzer Box.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

New Canadian Subscription Box - Indulge Me Box + PROMO CODE

What is it? Indulge Me Box
How much? $20/month, with free shipping
What's in it? A mix of 5 items from skincare, makeup, accessories, and lifestyle categories.

Indulge Me Box is a new Canadian subscription service based in Montreal. They are newly launched, and the first box ships at the beginning of November. Indulge Me labels itself a lifestyle subscription box and promises to include a mix of items from several categories.
It is not just a beauty subscription box or just an accessory subscription box. It is best of both worlds having a good balance between the two.
As they are still in the early stages and working on getting the first box together, Indulge Me was unable to send any photos of a sample box or give hits as to what products or brands may be included in the boxes. Shruti, Indulge Me's founder, assured me that "you won't be disappointed with our box".

As an added bonus, everyone that subscribes before October 15th will be entered into a draw to win a Suki Skin Care set.

Even better, Indulge Me Box is offering a 25% discount on any subscription term. This gets you one month for $15, or a 3-month subscription for $41.25. That's only $13.75 per box! Use promo code FIRST25OFF at checkout to claim your discount. Order before October 15 to be guaranteed the inaugural November box.

Normally I would be very cautious with start-ups like this, but I have exchanged a few e-mails with Shruti and I find their concept very promising. I love supporting new Canadian subscription services, so I'm signing up for a 3-month subscription.

What do you think about Indulge Me Box?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Luxe Box Review - Fall 2014 - Canadian Beauty Subscription Box

This post contains referral links.
What is it? Luxe Box
How Much? $26 per quarter, $50 semi-annually, $96 yearly. Shipping included.
What’s in it?  7-8 Trial-size products every season (4x per year) 

A new season is upon us which means it's time for a new Luxe Box! Luxe Box is a Canadian subscription service that sends new and upcoming beauty products from premium brands. Boxes ship four times per year and include free shipping.

At Luxe Box, our mission is to help consumers better discover, try and purchase quality beauty and lifestyle products through a unique experience.
Each season Luxe Box offers some add-ons and upgrades. These are the ones they offered for Fall season. In the past I've never found the box upgrades worth the added cost, so I opted for regular box with the Stila Add-on.

Luxe Box has the best packaging of any subscription box. The inner gift box is great. I use mine to store other samples and my Julep collection.

All the products come inside a reusable silk-like drawstring  bag. They're great for travel to store undergarments and other dedicates.

Luxe Box doesn't include a product card. Instead, subscribers log into their accounts and look at a "Personal Product Dashboard". I peeked at my dashboard the other day so I knew what I was getting, but it's still fun to unbox and check out product sizes and colours. They also include sample sizes AND sample value, which is great for a blogger like me!

Phyto Paris Phytokeratine Repairing Thermal Protectant Spray (30ml, $6.40)
The PHYTOKERATINE express heat-activated thermal protectant spray effectively repairs the internal substance of damaged hair whilst protecting it against heat and breakage during blow-drying.
I've been getting a lot of hair treatments lately. I like that this one is heat activated. I blow dry and straighten so my hair could use a little thermal protection.

Sweet Leaf Bath Co. Blush Body Wash (60ml, $4.75)
Blush Body Wash is handcrafted with a luxurious & nutrient rich blend of Coconut, Olive, Jojoba and Hempseed oils. Always created without the use of synthetic preservatives, sulfates or detergents of any kind.
I'm happy to see a body wash rather than a lotion and I love that Luxe Box has included a product from an independent Canadian small business. Sweet Leaf has a lot of great looking products on their website.

Jelly Pong Pong Fairy Lashes Curl Mascara (Full size, $24)
Fairy Lashes Curl is a sculpting, curling mascara that continually curls lashes throughout the day with a unique synthesis of Moringa Seed resin that dries down and holds the curl of lashes for long-lasting results. The unique brush instantly creates dramatic volume and intense definition, while allowing eyelashes to remain spectacularly soft and light at the same time.  
I received a Jelly Pong Pong mascara in a Topbox last year, but the Curl Mascara is new to me. I'm very curious to try it and see if it does what they claim! 

Burt's Bees Lip Gloss in Autumn Haze (Full size, $12.99) 
Rich, pearlized colour combines with natural oils rich in nutrients to leave your lips soft, shiny and 100% naturally beautiful.
This is a great neutral shade for every day use.

Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator (20ml, $5.65)
Vasanti Brighten Up Face Rejuvenator is a triple action facial scrub that helps brighten, exfoliate, and clean skin all at once.
I received this in another box recently and I really like it. I'm a little bit addicted to facial scrubs!

Loose Button Fan Brush ($18)
This brush is designed to dust, wipe, and redistribute powders along your features making it the perfect tool for all the finishing touches. The flat fan shape allows for even and soft definition, as well as, fanning away excess product, such as, eye makeup fallout.
I've received a few brushes from previous Luxe Boxes and I sold or traded all of them. I've never owned or used a fan brush like this though so I think I'm going to keep this one and put it to use. 

LVX Nail Lqcquer in Koko from Winter Resort 2014 Collection (Full size, $17)
This season we're bringing you the LVX Winter Resort 2014 Collection, which was just featured in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Their long lasting, chip resistant and gel-like formula is free of the 5 toxic and harsh chemicals found in most common nail lacquer formulas. 
I received an LVX polish in a previous beauty box and I have no complaints about the polish itself. Of all the colours available from the Winter Resort collection though, Koko would be my least favorite. I just can't get down with brown nails! 

Stila Custom Colour Blush - Self Adjusting Bronze (Full size, $26)
Stila's newest addition to the Custom Colour Blush family, this perceptive one-shade-fits-all powder blush comes in a natural bronze hue, with a hint of subtle shimmer for a customized sun-kissed glow, perfect for you.  
This was my add-on product. Technically this is a blush, but because of the bronze shade, I'm not sure yet if I'm going to use it, gift it to my sister, or swap/sell.

My Fall 2014 Luxe Box included seven products with an additional add-on product. This box was $33 ($26 plus $7 for the Stila add-on), and included over $114 worth of value. Even without the Stila product, the seven base products are valued at just about $89. Five of my eight products are full size, which is really great to see. The only product I'm not happy with is the LVX nail polish, and that's only because of the colour. The past few seasons of Luxe Box have been pretty underwhelming, but I have no complaints about this one. The value is there, the products are varied, and the sizes are generous. It's a great season from Luxe Box.

What did you get in your Fall 2014 Luxe Box?

Not a Luxe Box member yet? Click here to sign up and get your own box for the winter season. Winter 2014 boxes begin shipping December 15th!

Popbasic - New Limited Edition Alice Collection Available

This post contains referral links.
What is it? Popbasic
How Much? Between $50-100 per collection, with free shipping (does not cover duties/tax). Save $15 off your first order using my referral link.
What's in it? Three-piece micro collection plus a beauty or lifestyle surprise from a partnering company.
Popbasic is a fashion service based in San Francisco, California. Popbasic believes "staples are a necessity in every wardrobe".  Popbasic produces "beautiful, luxurious pieces so you can build your wardrobe over time". It's not a subscription service. If you sign up to receive one collection, you will not automatically receive the next one. Instead, Popbasic releases details on each collection and let's you decide whether or not you want to purchase it. 

Basics should be beautiful, super soft, but most of all fun!

Popbasic has released another limited edition collection called Alice. It includes a dress, two pieces of jewellery, and "a small gift from a partnering company". A hint dropped in the release e-mail indicates the small gift may not be so small after all...  "FYI there are two full size beauty products in this collection. It’s without a doubt our best surprise yet". The Alice Collection is selling for $70, with free shipping (taxes/duties not included).  This collection is sold out!!

Forever Dress - You know that item in your wardrobe you want to wear all the time? Our Forever dress has been designed with that in mind. It’s super soft and lightweight. Wear it for a day of reading or out with your friends for dinner and drinks. 

Marais Key Necklace Add something special to your jewelry collection. Pair with your Forever dress for a simple date night outfit, or a Le Breton and jeans for running errands. Alloy; gold plated. 

Gold Lock BangleDesigned to wear with your Forever dress, for a beautiful yet simple outfit. If you’d prefer, stack it with a mix of bangles, and throw on your favorite jeans and tee. Magnetic closure. Alloy; gold plated. Diameter: 2.5 inches.

I love the Key Necklace and I've very curious about the two full size beauty product surprises... but the dress is not for me. I'm going to pass on Alice and wait patiently for next month's collection.

What do you think of Pop Basic's Alice Collection?

The Alice Collection is sold out now, but if you are interested in signing up for PopBasic to be notified of the next collection, use my referral link and you can save $15 off your next purchase!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Nerd Block Jr. Girls Review - September 2014 - Canadian Kids Subscription Box + PROMO CODE

This post contains affiliate links.
What is it? Nerd Block Jr. Girls
How much? $13.99/month, plus $6 shipping.
What's in it? Awesome nerd gear for kids aged 6-11
Nerd Block is a Canadian-based subscription service that sends a monthly mystery package filled with nerdy apparel, toys, and collectibles. The products chosen represent all genres from movies, television, video games, internet, and more! There are five Blocks to choose from: Nerd Block Classic, Nerd Block Arcade, Nerd Block Horror, Nerd Block Jr. Boys, and Nerd Block Jr. Girls. The Jr. Blocks are $13.99, plus shipping and the other Blocks are $19.99, plus shipping. This review is for the Nerd Block Jr. Girls.

This great article from Canada.com describes Nerd Block as Comic-Con in a box. The article author, Patrick O'Rourke, says that "recreating the coolness that comes from Fan Expo is the idea behind Nerd Block". I'm not a gamer, sci-fi watcher, or comic book fan, but I thought it would be good to give Nerd Block a try and review it for the blog. I ordered the Jr. Girls Block for my niece. 

My Little Pony Cupcake Keepsakes Fluttershy ($12.99)

Giant Microbes Brain Cell Plush ($9.95)

Monster High Stickerland Pad ($3)

Hello Kitty Coin Keeper ($5.75)

The Trash Pack Series 5 - 1 Trashie + Toilet (~$2)

 Gacha Balls Disney Epic Mickey 2 Collectable Figure (~$5)

The September Nerd Block Jr. Girls contained six products valued just over $38. I paid $20.99 for this box, with tax and shipping. My niece will love the My Little Pony, Hello Kitty coin purse, and Monster High stickers. The other items will be donated. I opened this box myself for review purposes, but the next one I think I'm going to give directly to my niece and watch her open and unbox it. I would love to see her reaction and see what items appeal to her the most.

If you are interested in Nerd Block Jr. Girls or any other Nerd Block, click here and be sure to use promo code SUPERHERO at checkout to save 10% off your first box.