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Pop Sugar Must Have Box Review for January 2013

January 29, 2013
Because of my obsession with subscription boxes and lack of funds, I asked my relatives to order me a Pop Sugar Must Have Box for Christmas. This subscription service is pretty pricey at $35 a month, but always google for a coupon code before purchasing because my sister saved $5 by using the code: REFERFRIENDS.  The December boxes were sold out when my sister went to order, so she went ahead and just ordered me the January box. I looked up the contents of previous boxes, and really liked what I saw. You can see for yourself by clicking this link: http://musthave.popsugar.com/blog. What I liked about this subscription box is that it includes a range of different products--there is usually a food sample, something to wear (accessory or one month they gave a gift certificate to get a shirt), something exercise related, or there might beauty products and an "entertainment" type gift (book/movie passes, etc.)

I must say that based on all of the boxes I looked at, January's box looks the least appealing to me. Here's how it looked when I opened it.

The contents all laid out:

Okay, so the big ticket items in the box include the Merrithew Stability Ball and The Remix Timebomb watch.  Each of these items individually retails for more than the $30 that was spent on the box, although by looking at the watch I would never think that!  It looks very cheaply made, not to mention it is HUGE and bulky.  Plus, since it's blue, I think it would clash with a lot of my outfits. I haven't worn a watch in years, I have nice watches already, and I always use my cell phone to look at the time.  I guess the only time I would wear this is if I was in a place where I could not have my cell phone like on an overseas trip.  I guess wearing it in a movie might also be okay since I don't like taking my phone out during a movie to check the time since it can be a distraction to others.  I suppose I could try wearing it to class, but it is just not my style...I think many agree with me on this one--it's just not that cute of a watch!
As for the stability ball, I feel like those who would love it already own one and those who don't have one probably aren't that interested because they most likely would have bought it for themselves already.  It looks like a high quality product and everything, but I just don't really know how much use I'll be getting out of it.  Where I'm living right now, there's not a whole lot of space to use or store this time.  The plus is that it comes with an air pump, so you can inflate/deflate it as often as you wish, but that can get rather tedious.  Another plus is that they included a card with some different exercise suggestions on it, so at least I know where to start when I finally decide to use it!

The last non-food item was the Epicuren Discovery Lip Balm.  I am always using lip balms and glosses, so I will probably use this one, too.  I just wish it was tinted with some color, but this lip balm is more about preventing chapped lips.  It comes in a small pot, but I would really like it more if it was in a tube so that I wouldn't have to touch it before applying.  I find the balm always gets under my nails, plus there is the whole germ factor so I would be washing my hands both before and after applying it.

What I was the most excited to receive was the PopBar Hot Chocolate on a Stick!  I got two of them--one in milk chocolate, the other in dark chocolate.   I have been on a HUGE hot chocolate kick lately, but have been having it with water since I got some Keurig cups for Christmas.  I definitely think hot chocolate made with milk tastes, oh about 3894739874 times better than hot chocolate made with water, so yeah, I am pretty pumped about these.  (Probably not the best sign when the items you like the most are equivalent to two servings of hot chocolate though.)  The Jet Puffed Marshmallow Bits go along nicely with this, but they are not very luxurious or even that unique.  With that being said, they will get eaten, so it's not a total waste or anything. 
Here's a closer look at the food items:

As you can see, I also got three ThinkThin bars and a coupon for $1.50 off a future purchase of some of these bars.  I wasn't that thrilled with these and wished they would have limited it to just one food sample so that we could have gotten something different instead.

Overall, I still think that these boxes are a great value and I was very excited to receive my box.  The anticipation, looking for spoilers to see what was in the box, and discussing it with my friend who has also received a box made it a fun experience.  I am really going to try to get some use out of the stability ball and watch, but they would not have been my first choices as gifts.  Based only on what I got in this box this month, I would probably not subscribe to this service especially because $35 is not a small chunk of change.  However, like I said before, all of the boxes from previous months looked a lot better than this one.  Luckily, my other sister bought me the PopSugar Must Have Box for February, so I can give it another chance!

Birchbox January 2013 Review

January 23, 2013
When looking up subscription boxes, many refer to Birchbox as the box that "started it all."  At only $10/month, I decided that it was at least worth a shot.  If you go to www.birchbox.com, you can sign up for a monthly plan, or for 3 or 6 or 12 months at a time.  If you sign up for the 12 month plan, you save $10, as the cost is $110 for the year, so it's like getting one month for free.  I just signed up for one month because I wanted to test it out and see what kind of products I received.

Unlike many other beauty subscription boxes, Birchbox offers a box for men.  Instead of using the word "beauty," the box is described as containing "high end grooming and lifestyle samples."  You should also be aware that the price is $20 per month for this box.  Here is the link if you want to sign up:  https://www.birchbox.com/men/join.  Unfortunately, there is a wait time in order to be able to sign up for these boxes.  My wait was almost a month, but the site says that the men's box should only have about a 2 week waiting period.  I thought the wait was kind of annoying because other subscription boxes let you sign up right away.  My friend signed up, didn't see the e-mail for a few days, and then once she did and tried to sign up her "window" had closed and it wouldn't let her.  She will now have to sign up again and wait another 4 weeks for the invite!  If you do sign up, be sure to check your e-mail regularly so you don't miss your chance to subscribe.

Here are the contents of my box:

I received:

1 full sized Model Co. Shine Ultra Lip Gloss in Berry Pink.
Full size retails for :$16

One of these retails for $16, so I love that I feel like I got my money's worth just from this one product.  I'm also very excited that I received a full sized product--I was expecting just some deluxe sample sized products.  I think I will get a lot of use out of this lip gloss because the color is nice, and it will keep my lips moisturized for the winter while still adding a hint of color.  The other cool thing about this lip gloss is that there is a mirror on the side of it to use when applying.

2 packets of Green Apple Nourishing Body Cream that are .066 oz each
Full size retails (8 oz)  for: $15, and my two sample sizes were .132 oz total, so the value of these two items is only about 25 cents.

These two packets are considered "extras," since the box doesn't have to come with 5 samples, so I don't really care that they are on the cheap side.  I've seen other boxes that contain different scents, but I was happy to try out green apple.  I wouldn't have picked out that kind for myself, so it was cool to try something new, and isn't sampling products the the whole point of Birchbox?

1 Viva La Juicy perfume sample that is .05 oz
Full size (1.7 oz) retails for $70, so my .05 oz sample is worth $2.05, however, these samples are given out for free at many make up counters, so I'm not really sure if I should consider it to be worth anything.  I guess I'll be generous and add it into the total value of the box.

While I like the way the perfume smells, I'm not overly impressed with this sample because these can be given/sent out at no cost to you. I don't really want any more of these because I can always test out perfumes at department stores/beauty retail stores before purchasing.

Number 4 Lumiere d'hiver Clarifying Shampoo that is 52 mL
Full size (250 mL) retails for $32, and I got a 52 mL sample worth $6.65

I never heard of this brand name, but I am excited to try out the product.  The small bottle is convenient for traveling, and the shampoo can double as a body wash.  It contains no sulfates, which is a plus because I've been trying to steer clear of those ever since my hair got damaged a few years ago.

Caudalie Vinexpert Radiance Day Cream SPF 15  (3 mL)
Full size (30 mL) retails for $75.00, so my 3 mL sample is worth $7.50, which is hard to believe because it is seriously such a small amount!

I am excited to try this product, but will probably only get to try it for about 2 days since there isn't a lot of cream in the tube.  The negative is that I can't really try it out long enough to see a difference.  I will, however, be able to judge the consistency/texture of the product as well as the smell.  I guess it doesn't really matter that much, though because right now I would not ever buy this product due to the high cost.

Total Value of Items in Box: $32.45

Overall, I'm very satisfied with this month's box.  Another thing worth mentioning is that I only received this box today.  I don't know if that is typical or if they usually ship earlier...perhaps I just got my box late since I signed up at the last minute for the month of January.  I've seen different versions of the January box on other bloggers' walls, so that implies that I did receive mine late.  Some of the boxes that were reviewed by other bloggers had combinations of very small items, and I thought that they were not worth the $10, so I'm super happy I got the items I did!


January 18, 2013
I signed into Facebook a few weeks ago and saw this status update posted on my friend Erin's account: "2013 Creative Pay-It-Forward. The first five people to comment on this status will receive from me, sometime in the next calendar year, a gift-perhaps a book or baked goods, or a candle, music-a surprise! There will likely be no warning & it will happen whenever the mood strikes me. The catch? Those five people must make the same offer in their FB status and INBOX ME their current address." I've always thought the whole Pay-It-Forward concept was such a cool idea, so I went ahead and re-posted this on my Facebook wall. I had five friends respond, and already sent one of my friends her gift and she loved it! Her exact words were, "Checked the mail today and I opened this from Lisa today! Made my day! I have been wanting a necklace like this for a long time! Thank you so much! You know me so well!" She also said that she was "grinning ear to ear about it." 

I'm so pumped to get the other 4 people who responded their gifts, but I probably have to spread them out a little since I'm a student who is only working part-time right now.  Some of the best things about this type of Pay-It-Forward are that the gift goes to one of your friends and that you have such a long time to do it that your friends might not expect it when it comes.

Below is my friend wearing the necklace she got from me:

Here is another close up picture of it from the seller's Etsy.com store, which is called FashionCrashJewelry. (The seller was awesome and very helpful, by the way!)

I'll try to remember to post the other four gifts for the Pay-It-Forward 2013 I'm participating in.  

Have you ever Paid-it-Forward?  If so, in what way did you do it?  Please share in the comments section below!

Reading goals for the year

January 12, 2013
I love reading in my spare time, but lately I have been lacking in the extra time department and find myself always saying that I want to read certain books.  Getting around to actually reading them is another story.  I'm pretty sure that I've intended to read To Kill a Mockingbird for at least the past few years.  This stops right now!  I decided that I'm going to pick out 10 books that I want to read just for pleasure, and my goal will be to have them all read by the end of the year.

1) To Kill a Mockingbird--Several people have told me this was their favorite book of all time.  I saw the play awhile back and it was excellent.  Since it wasn't on my required reading list in school, I'm putting it on my required reading list now!

2)  The Mighty Miss Malone--Recommended in my children's literature class by professor who knows her stuff.

3) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks--I see this book everywhere I go on the best-seller shelf.  I picked it up and read the back and it appeals to me...I rarely read non-fiction books, so I thought I'd give this one a shot.

4) Say You're One of Them--Found it at Half Price Books and the synopsis on the back looked interesting.  It was nominated for some awards and Oprah liked it.  Also, I love reading international books, so I'm sold.

5) This book isn't even out yet and is still untitled, but it would be the third book in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.  It is scheduled to be released in the fall of this year, and for me it is a must read.  There is no way I can go without knowing what happens to the main characters!

6) The Casual Vacancy--I am very curious about J.K. Rowling's first attempt at an adult novel.

7) Mary Mrs. A Lincoln--The movie Lincoln sparked my curiosity about Mary Todd.  Even though this is a piece of fictional work, true events are incorporated into the story.

8) The Host-- I feel like I might not even like this book, since I had mixed feelings on the whole Twilight series.  Then I was going to read it, but changed my mind when Stephanie Meyer said she would no longer be releasing the sequel due to someone leaking parts of the second book on the internet.  (Or was this just a rumor??)  However, I saw the trailer for it recently, and I started thinking about it again...so I give up!  I'm intrigued, even though I really don't want to be!

9) The Kitchen House--Goodreads.com created a list for me based on my reading interests, and this book looked like the one I'd enjoy the most. 

10)  The Fault in Our Stars--This book shot up to #1 on Amazon.com, and is about two teenagers with cancer running off to Amsterdam in order to try to meet an author of a book they both loved.

I just started this blog and don't even know if anyone is reading it yet, but if you're out there, leave a comment about what books you would like to read this year!