Wednesday, December 16, 2015

June 2015 Birchbox

I've been snowed under with work on launching a podcast project and trying to finish up other things, and sadly this blog is the first thing I stop being able to keep up with. But I'm going to try to get back into it since I'm six months behind on Birchbox again!

COOLA SPF 50 Sport - Mango: I do love the smell and the feel of COOLA sunscreen products, and this one was really nice. I needed a small tube of sunscreen to put in my bag and this was perfect for that and was great for the summer while I used it. My only problem with COOLA products is the price. It's absolutely not worth the price. The Neutrogena tube of sunscreen I got after this was just as nice, just maybe not as pretty smelling.

Number 4 Blow Dry Lotion: So this is part of what I'm referring to in the caption by saying it doesn't fit my profile. I don't blow dry my hair, actually I recently pulled out my blowdryer to use a Jamberry nail wrap that I'd recently gotten and it rattled and smelled so bad that I realized it was busted and possibly dangerous. This was the hair dryer that I'd snitched from my sister that she had in college, and that was in the 90's. So basically I have no input on this one because I had absolutely no use for it.

Hanky Panky Eau de Parfum: I don't have the vocabulary to really talk about perfume samples, but this one was nice at first but as I wore it a few days I realized it wasn't really working for me. It was nice in the bottle, but just wasn't my style or didn't work with my body chemistry.

Marcelle Mini Waterproof Eyeliner: The color that I got in this eyeliner was called mulberry and it is a fantastic color. The pencil itself worked really well and I really liked it a lot. If I didn't already have more eyeliners than I could use in my life, I would have bought the full kit right away. I really liked this and the other colors were great.

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels: This was my sample pick for this month because I wanted to check out an eye gel product and see if I liked it. I do have a problem with my eyes being puffy and irritated sometimes because I'm an insomniac (that's not hyperbole by the way) and I did like them quite a bit. But I later bought a pack of slightly cheaper Klorane Smoothing and Relaxing Patches and I like those quite a bit. But the Skyn Iceland ones are very nice, either is a good choice.

Emi Jay Solid Hair Tie 5-Pack: This is the other thing that doesn't fit my profile as I mention in my Instagram caption. I keep my hair too short to pull back, so I can't use any hair ties at all. I gave these away. But the other thing is the time before that I got a ribbon hair tie it was awful, it absolutely did not do the job it was meant to do and I could tell it was because it was too busy being cute to be as functional as it could be. A hair tie's job is to tie your hair back, if you want something cute tie a ribbon over a functional one or something.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

May 2015 Birchbox

Sorry for the delay again, medical issues cropping up plus doing stuff to pay the bills. But let's get back to Birchbox recaps, shall we? This is May of this year, so we're only four months behind now!

Very happy @birchbox this month. So excited to try the Harvey Prince sea salt spray. And this soap smells amazing!

A photo posted by Elizabeth (@onegirlsreviews) on

TokyoMilk by Margot Elena Bon Bon Shea Butter Rich Lotion: This lotion is heavily scented, and a tiny little dab of it goes a very long way, but it rubs in extremely smoothly. I do really like the scent, but it's strong and a bit deep for every day. It's absolutely lovely, but I think it might be best for like, before a night out in place of perfume.

Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate: Honestly, I don't have any idea what the point of this stuff is. They already want you to put on like five products on your face every day, and now this random other thing BEFORE your serum? I've just used it instead of a serum, and I guess it's fine for that, but honestly, $95 for some random extra thing they're trying to convince you that you need to do extra? No thanks.

Sumbody Body Soaps : This soap smelled really lovely, I quite liked the scent, but I just hate bar soap and don't use it. But this company also does salt scrubs and stuff, I'll likely buy some of those because I did love the scent.

Coastal Scents® Revealed 3 Palette: This little sampler set has actually become the set of eyeshadow I keep in my desk at work because it's a nice set of fun but subtle colors that I can put on with almost any outfit. And since I oversleep a lot, it ends up being what I wear most days. I'm really pleased with it, when I run out of the sample I'll likely get the palette.

Harvey Prince Sea Salt Texturizing Mist: This was my sample choice this month, because I've been wanting to try a good sea salt spray, and because I love the scent of Hello by Harvey Prince. I was very happy with this actually, the scent is nice and it really does give my hair a lot of shape and texture. Sometimes too much, but once I got the hang of it, it was really quite nice. I'm a fan.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

April 2015 Birchbox

Apparently I never even got around to posting my April box on Instagram, which is okay because this picture is pretty lackluster, don't you think? The box itself was pretty good though, no real dud to be found.

Jouer Tint: This was my sample choice for the month, I think the color I got was "Peony." I've only used this as a lip tin, because I don't really need a strong blush in general, and liquid or creme blushes just don't do well for me. But as a lip color, it's quite nice. The sample size is more than enough to last me, and I think it's a good creamy texture and goes on well. Not something I'll buy at this price, but a good product all the same.

LAQA & Co. Sheer Lip Lube Pencil: I am becoming a very big fan of lip pencils/lip crayons. They're so easy to use, and LAQA & Co. makes really good ones. This sheer pencil is fantastic, I really love the hint of color and the consistency of it. I might buy some of their more fun colors like Grape Scotch eventually, though right now I have more lip products than one girl will ever need.

Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream: This one came in their blueberry scent. So one thing about me, I don't use shaving cream. Actually, I hate it. The entire process of trying to shave with any kind of cream makes me cranky because you can't do it easily while the shower is running so you have to take special time to shave and who has that kind of extra time on their hands? Not me. I use a razor with shaving gel bars on it so that I don't have to use shaving cream. So this product, while interesting, is maybe not best targeted to me. I did like it okay, the smell was nice, and it didn't do that excessive foaming lather than I don't really like much either. I'm not sure I can say if it helped me get a closer or smoother shave, honestly I didn't notice a difference. But if I for some reason actually went back to using shaving cream, this is the one I'd pick up.

Beaver Professional Hydro Nutritive Moisturizing Shampoo and Repairing Conditioner: So, yet another shampoo and conditioner sample that really didn't seem any more impressive to me than the cheaper grocery store stuff I'm using now. I'm not saying that it's bad, it was perfectly good shampoo, but it's four times the price of what I pay now and I just don't get it. There's got to be something I'm missing about expensive shampoos, some clue that I'm not finding or something. There have been a few where I've seen something and would think about paying more, but most of the time? Nah.

Okay, so I'm four months behind right now, but starting to get caught up! Next month will at least be a bit more interesting I think.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Princess Raccoon

So I am an acient dinosaur who still has a Netflix DVD account. Primarily because there's a bunch of stuff in my queue that isn't available streaming anywhere so I'm trying to work my way through it. Which is how I ended up with a few odd older films lately, because they've worked their way to the top of my queue and honestly I can't even remember adding them let alone why I did. Though in the case of Princess Raccoon, I actually can remember seeing something about it came out and thinking it looked interesting. Plus I do like Zhang Ziyi quite a bit. So I left it on the list, and then a few weeks ago it finally made it's way to me.

Now, one thing that I have to say up front is that while I like foreign movies usually, I am not usually too big of a fan of surreal filmmaking. It's just not my thing. And to be honest, I wish I had paid enough attention before renting the film to know that this was a very surreal and abstract piece in a lot of ways.
Really that's the bulk of what my impression of it is, because the storyline is only sort of losely pursued, and it's so very basic and skeletal that there's not all that much to say about it. There's a king who is basically the evil stepmother from Snow White (literally asking who is the fairest and sending someone to kill his son when he discovers his son will soon be the fairest). The twist is instead of asking a magic mirror, he asks a Catholic woman who is probably meant to be a witch or a nun or both, honestly I have no idea.

The son of course doesn't die, and ends up falling in love with a woman in the forest who turns out to be Princess Raccoon (actually, she's Tanuki-hime, and a tanuki is not a raccoon, but that's one of those things not worth pursuing a rant about here). Men aren't meant to love raccoons, and so of course there is peril, a quest, somebody dies, somebody doesn't actually die, and so on. Honestly it's a very predictable story if you wrote out what actually happens, the thing is with it being so surreal it's the details that get really weird. "Now the raccoon lady is slapping her stomach to make a gong sound so she can battle the Catholic witch who is throwing paper streamers at her." "I think she was turning into a demon but the magic frog chirped and she put on her lipstick and now she's okay." Did I mention it's a musical?

The performances in the film were good, and it was a very well done example of what it is and the type of film it wanted to be. But it was just not at all my thing, and so I don't think I'll be looking for more like this anytime soon.

But if you like really, really weird foreign films, give it a try?

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

March 2015 Birchbox

I'm getting so much closer to catching up to my Birchbox reviews! Here's just a few months back in March, which was an interesting and very busy month for me!

My @birchbox for the month, loving the Fekkai shampoo already, great scent.

A photo posted by Elizabeth (@onegirlsreviews) on

Temple Spa Peace Be Still Calming Face and Body Balm: This was a nice enough lotion but it was far too thick and far too much to use on my face, like most lotions that aren't oil free, it made me break out. But still good for a body lotion.

Jelly Pong Pong Glow Getter Highlighter: The text for this tiny bottle said it offers a "subtle, luminous shimmer" and that is so not true at all. It was a really strong glittery shiny look, and it was far, far too much for anything I ever would do. I thought it was even too severe a sparkle for a night look, let alone something during the every day which is when I usually am wearing makeup. I got rid of it.

It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product: This was my sample choice, I'd been wanting to try out this product for a while because everybody raves about it so much. It is good, if I'm feeling like I need something strong like a leave-in conditioner. The problem is that I like lighter products more, like Curl Keeper for example, which helps my hair keep it's wavy shape. It's a 10 doesn't really help my curls, actually it probably weighs my hair down just a tad, which just isn't my style normally. That said, I live in D.C. where the humidity is killer, and during this summer it's definitely been a nice way to combat the craziness frizzy mess.

Embryoilisses Lai-Creme Concentre (24 Hour Miracle Cream): I was not a fan of this product, first of all it did absolutely nothing as a makeup remover, which is one of the recommended usages. Second, holy cow what a breakout I got after I used this, wow. I ended up disliking it enough to give it away.

Fekkai PrX Reparatives Shampoo: I did really love this shampoo, it was really light and wonderful and it helps my hair recover from maybe a little too much cheap conditioner. I am probably going to buy a bottle to swap out with my regular shampoo every few weeks, but it's sadly too expensive for me to use regularly.

So March of this year, Birchbox's theme was creativity, and they had a card for you to include in a picture to say when you felt most creative. Well, the answer to that was obvious for me, especially considering when my box came in:

Yup, in March my movie Good Game officially turned one year old! It's been a crazy ride from anxiously checking my phone for updates on the premiere (I was flying back from Japan and ended up missing the event) to showing at various festivals and conventions, the massive digital release and then finally making DVDs as well. But filmmaking is definitely when I'm at my most creative. And as I write this, another of my short films is about to be released this month! If you're into gaming, you should check out the film. It's available through digital sales and rentals, and also on DVD.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

February 2015 Birchbox

So we're starting to get within visible range of catching up on my Birchbox reviews! Of course I got a new one yesterday, so now I'm still five months behind, but we'll get there! This month was mostly just okay, but the box design itself was seriously fun. Birchbox has been knocking it out of the park with their gorgeous box colors this year.

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner: I'd been wanting to try this, because I loved the Eyeko mascara I got in my first ever Birchbox. It's a fantastic product, though it's not for if you're looking for subtle. It's a very deep, bold line and very easy to use. I'm a huge fan of it, and the sample was such a good size, it might actually be a full size even.

Bee Kind Body Lotion: This was good lotion, but not great. It's not going to replace what I've been getting from other companies, because it's a bit thick and I don't really love the smell. It's not a bad smell, it just doesn't really work for me. Now don't get me wrong, I've used up the entire sample (nearly, I keep it at work so it's taking a while) but at the same time I'm probably not going to buy it.

Marcelle Gentle Eye Make-up Remover for Sensitive Eyes: This was my sample choice for this box, because I'd been looking for another eye makeup remover, the one I have doesn't really work without scrubbing and I want to avoid that. This one works great, though it is a bit differenet for me because I've only used gel removers before and not an oil based one. But I do like it, I need to use it more but I'm still trying to use up the other bottle of not-as-good stuff that I have.

Juicy Couture Hollywood Royal: I liked this scent pretty well when I got it. Not as much as La Fleur but still it was nice. But then over time I guess I either got pickier or discovered other scents I liked better because when I started wearing it regularly to use up the sample, I realized I didn't like it so much anymore. It doesn't take long for it to just smell like every other too strong scent rather than like the actual notes is's supposed to have. There definitely was no hint of marshmallow at that point. So I ended up giving up on it, maybe it's my body chemistry, maybe my sample has gone bad, I don't know, but I grew out of liking it.

Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser: This product basically cemented it for me that I can't use Juice Beauty products. It also made my sensitive skin act up, and I wasn't particularly thrilled with it either. Oh well.

So this box was alright, a few wins, a great addition to my eye makeup, and a few losses. I have to admit that around this box is when I started to get tired of the perfume samples, even though I have it turned to send me fewer of them, I feel like I'm getting the max possible. But I'd rather get samples to try than waste $90 on a big bottle that smells terrible on me, so I'll get over it.

So, halfway through the year, any other Birchbox subscribers out there? How have your boxes been lately? I think they mostly go uphill after this one. And don't forget to do your reviews, I just placed a big order and I didn't have to pay a penny for it because I had so many points. Their points system really can't be beat.

Friday, July 10, 2015

January 2015 Birchbox

Oh my gosh, we've caught up to this year again! I'm only...still six months behind since my July box has shipped. But I keep going because I will get caught up! This box was pretty fun this time around.

Silhouette by Christian Siriano Eau de Parfum: This was a very pretty perfume, and I did quite like it. It's on my list of ones I might one day order a full size of, if I ever actually ran out of samples (which isn't looking like it's going to happen anytime soon). The full size bottle is SO beautiful, that's definitely a big plus. But the sample bottle was just weird, the packaging is straight up strange. If you can see in the picture, there was kind of a little flat piece sticking out of the top, and after trying to unscrew or pull up the top of the little vial for about ten minutes, I finally twisted that little flat piece enough that it came out. The design was that it was a plastic wand going into the vial that you pulled out and used to put on the fragrance. Inventive I guess, but useless. I prefer a rollerball, but if I can't have that a spray, and if you can't even do that just have a stopper in the top. The wand didn't create a great seal so I actually ended up losing most of this sample when it got knocked over and just leaked out.

Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45+: If you've been following my Birchbox reviews you'll know I don't like any product like this that's tinted because it's always, always too dark. Yet again, this product looked weird on me and it was way too much pigment for me, it went on like cake makeup or something. I couldn't get the hang of using it and I looked weird so I gave it away.

Key West Aloe Gentle Aloe Facial Cleanser: I quite liked this cleanser actually. I ended up putting it in my bag to take with me to the pool for my water aerobics class because taking water aerobics in the winter was a stupid idea and my face ended up ridiculously dried out and sensitive. It helped it keep from getting worse, and it was pretty good. I might end up settling on this for the cleanser I used with my Clarisonic since it's also reasonably priced.

Mirenesse Glossy Kiss: I'm really falling in love with lip crayons. They're such a great way for me to put on lip products, and thanks to Birchbox I have a few really good ones. I can't remember which shade I got, but it's a really lovely color, kind of neutral and very me. I really liked it.

Essentiel Elements Wake Up Rosemary Body Lotion: This was my sample choice this month, and I was so excited about it. I'd really liked the Essential Elements Wake Up Rosmeary shower gel I got a few months previously, so I really wanted to try this one and it didn't disappoint. It smelled as nicely as I remembered, and worked well as I expected it would. Definitely a fan, though I will say I liked the shower gel slightly more, I think maybe rosemary for a lotion for me isn't my favorite, I kind of prefer fruitier things.

Okay, so that's it for a pretty good box, only one real miss in there, and several things I added to my list of stuff I might buy in the future.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

December 2014 Birchbox

Back to the Birchbox archive posts! I swear I'll be caught up eventually, I'm only six months behind now! This box is going to be a hard one because I remember so little about it, everything was pretty "meh." Ah well.

A photo posted by Elizabeth (@onegirlsreviews) on

English Laundry Eau de Parfum Signature for Her: Like I said, I remember very little about this box except that I gave this perfume away. It was very flowery and just not at all my style. I tried it twice, I wanted to like it because the reviews were so good but it just didn't work for me. Too strong, too something.

Manna Kadar Lip Locked: I picked this as my sample choice that month, and got it in Lucky, which is described as a "nude petal-pink." It's not a bad lip gloss, the packaging is tiny so it's actually a bit hard to really open up and use but that's okay. I think in general it's just an okay product, I've found lip products I've liked so much more (like from Laqa & Co or Cynthia Rowley) so honestly it's at the bottom of my lip products bag and I never reach for it, but I'm not going to get rid of it either if that makes sense.

SeaRX Microdermabrasion Face and Body Scrub: I basically remember a sum total of nothing about this product. I don't remember it hurting my skin, which is good, but it didn't make a huge impression either since I didn't favorite it and I forgot it existed.

Davines Replumping Superactive: I honestly don't understand this whole thing with wanting your hair to be "plump" and all that. I spend half my time trying to get my hair to stop being insane and sticking up weirdly, so I'm not sure what this product was supposed to do for me. I did use it, and used it up, but I like other spray in products better.

Davines Replumping Shampoo and Conditioner: Again, I remember little about this. It smelled fine, it worked fine I guess, but I'm not looking to make my hair poofier or plumper so it wasn't really my style.

Mirenesse iCurl Secret Weapon 24 Hour Mascara: I specifically did the lip gloss as my sample choice that month even though I have too many lip products because I really didn't want more mascara, I don't wear it often enough and it just dries out and clumps up before I can use it up. But then I got this in my box anyway, which is fine if a little disappointing. I ended up giving it away unopened because I'd rather somebody actually use it than for it to go bad in my makeup box.

So December was a slightly lackluster box overall, nothing really bad or anything, but nothing memorable either.

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

I actually picked up this classic novel because I was reading a review of The Whispers, a new TV show inspired by a short story in this collection and they made the story out to seem pretty good. The library had a copy in stock, so I walked over and grabbed it. Now, I'm not entirely new to Bradbury, but for somebody who loves sci-fi and fantasy, I've actually not read an excessive amount of his written work. I've seen tons of adaptations of it, but the source material? Not as much.

I have to say, I'm not sure The Illustrated Man was the right place for me to start. The bookend story of the Illustrated Man himself was fascinating, I got right into the book because it was so compelling at even just the few pages that it took up. But it's really just a bookend, sadly, there's not much more to it than a few pages.
Some of the stories were quite good, most of them more than a little depressing to be honest. Not a lot of happy endings, but then I'm not sure Bradbury really did all that many purely happy endings. I'm not saying this as a bad thing, just maybe that colored my view because I wasn't in the mood for realistic endings.

Obviously some of the stories are better than others, but none stuck out to me as particularly bad. Quite a few of them are quite dated though, and the entire book very obviously exists in it's own time and place, and a time and place that doesn't exist anymore. The Cold War is very evident, as are the racial tensions of that era. Sometimes Bradbury's take on the hot topics seems almost simplistic, but you have to remember when he was writing them. In "The Other Foot," Mars has been colonized with black people who escaped Earth to escape racism and persecution. Then, decades later, a rocket from Earth approaches with their first white visitor. There's a lot about this story that just doesn't work in today's climate and with today's problems, and actually the play on "reverse racism" coming from a modern author would be kind of insulting and possibly offensive. But The Illustrated Man was published in 1951, before the Civil Rights movement was national news, and from that perspective thinking of a white writer telling this story becomes an entirely different experience.

There's a lot of stuff that doesn't hold up to the science we know today, and the vision of space travel is pretty quaint. In "The Long Rain" a group of astronauts crash land on the wrong spot on Venus, and go mad from the constant pouring rain on the planet. They briefly mention the native aliens, who live in the oceans and almost never come on land. Actually, humanoid aliens populate most of the planets in this book, and it's kind of nice to think back on a time when we believed that must be true. As a bonus, I read "The Long Rain" right before I went camping during a storm that lasted about 12 hours, the timing was not lost on me as I started getting fed up with the sound of the rain on the tent and mumbling about just wanting to be dry again.

Another thing Bradbury does well is not shying away from making children terrifying, like in The Veldt and in Zero Hour, the story that The Whispers was inspired by. Zero Hour is a lot more cynical than the show seems to be, possibly because of the length. You expand a few pages into a series and I guess you have to add more sinister plotting and conspiracies or something. Zero Hour is almost phenomenally compact. Most of the stories are, they tell what they need to tell and move on. "Kaleidoscope" is especially well done, it tells the story of that moment in time, but in a full way that makes it feel like part of a larger whole. You get a sense of past, present, and future, even though you're experiencing only maybe ten minutes in a life. And the story starts and ends almost in the middle of moments, it's just very well structured.

All in all, The Illustrated Man is a good book, but it has all the highs and lows of classic science fiction. If you like reading classic books and can put yourself in the context that they were written and published in, you'll probably enjoy it. But if you have trouble with that suspension of disbelief, then when the advanced Martian society decides to finally conquer Earth, you'll probably not really be taken in.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

November 2014 Birchbox

More old Birchbox reviews! This box was a mixed bag, some really great things and a few I took a while to give up on, but no big misses either. Well, maybe one.

Bain de Terre Argan Oil & Passion Flower Color Therapy Styling Oil: I think I've since changed my profile to take off that I color treat my hair, because I do dye my hair once a year or so, but I also don't really have good luck with something like 90% of the hair products designed to make your color last longer. My color might last longer but my hair looks awful.

That said, this styling oil actually worked quite well for what it is, but my hair just doesn't need extra oil on it. It did make it smoother, but I don't need it to look more slicked at the same time, that's not my style. And I don't use any heat styling tools or curl or iron or do anything like that. So really it's not a product I ever was going to use much. But since I did kind of like it, I'm sure if you were looking for something like this it'd be a good choice.

Ellovi Lip Butter: Man, I tried so hard to like this, I really did. I got the tinted lip butter, and the color was great, I really liked it. But there were two major problems - first for some reason there were a ton of bubbles or crystals or something that made it rough and flaky to apply which is NOT what you want in a lip product. Second, there was a smell (which also probably made it seem like a bad taste) that I never got used to. I tried valiantly for a few days before I gave up. Definitely not on my to buy list.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Sensitive: This was my sample choice, because I was super excited to try it. I have super sensitive skin and problems with some mystery ingredient that's in a lot of face products. So I had high hopes for an all-natural sensitive skin peel that maybe it would finally help me solve my exfoliation conundrum. Alas, it was not to be. Whatever ingredient it is that sets off my skin, it's in here. Or it's just still too harsh for me. I turned lobster red and my face stung, so I gave up and gave away the rest because I couldn't risk it. Also, I wasn't a fan of the texture or smell.

Not Soap, Radio Body Wash: The titles of these products are half of what makes it so great, I got "When life gives you one too many lemons (and you've misplaced your happy place)." I loved it, it was a fabulous scent, not too strong, and I really liked the body wash too. it also can be used in the bathtub, and it doesn't make a ton of foamy bubbles, but instead just gives you a good scent and some bubbling but not too much. It was exactly right, I'm buying more as soon as I use up the bath tablets I have.

TOCCA Crema da Mano-Hand Cream: I really love this hand cream, I actually am kind of hoarding it and won't use it until I've used up my lesser samples so I can enjoy it just that much longer. The scent is lovely and lasts a good bit of time, and the lotion itself is very moisturizing and lovely. I'm a big fan.

Justin's Chocolate Almond Butter Squeeze Packs: I have been wanting to try almond butter, so I was pretty happy to see this sample. Though it was kind of hilarious that it arrived in November so mine was frozen solid, I couldn't eat it until it thawed out. I eventually spread it on some toast, and I really liked it. If it wasn't so expensive I would have started buying it regularly, though probably I would get it through REI so I'd get my dividend from it.

So overall, I think it was a good box. I loved the body wash, lotion, and almond butter. The other products weren't a great success but that's a really personal thing for most of them, the peel and the hair oil weren't bad products. The lip butter, I don't know, maybe I got a bad one.

Don't forget if you think Birchbox sounds awesome (and it is) then please consider using my referral link!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

October 2014 Birchbox

Still playing catch-up with my Birchbox reviews! Now we're up to October of last year. Maybe one day I'll be posting current reviews again. This month they included a card to talk about some of your favorite things, and my card wanted to know a book. I picked Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith because I actually had recently stayed up too late re-reading it. It's one of my favorites.

This box was a little light on the samples, but I've had so many months with tons of samples that I was okay with that.

Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream: Maybe one day when I'm old and wrinkled I will regret not using excessive amounts of creams and potions and lotions but right now, the only thing I get out of using regular eye creams is more milia around my eyes, so I skip it and just use some puffiness reducing products when my eyes are feeling swollen and unhappy (or when I know they will like going to bed late). So this cream was a good eye cream, I just don't use eye cream because milia are a much bigger problem for me than wrinkles.

Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips: Okay, so this is basically where I'm going to diverge from the popular opinion. This is a highly reviewed, well loved item for Birchbox customers apparently. But I hated it. I didn't try to use it on my lips because it was this thick, goopy, sticky mess. There was no way that was going to look even remotely natural on my lips and I didn't want to accidentally smear it on my sheets or pillowcases by wearing it at night either. So I just used it on my ultra-dry skin. And I do have some pretty bad dry patches, regular lotion doesn't even make a dent half the time. This stuff was awful, maybe it sealed in some moisture or something but it didn't do any better than a tub of vaseline would have managed to do, and as I mentioned it was a gross sticky mess. It was so gross, and it was impossible to use because I didn't want to get it all over everything so I couldn't use it and get on with my life either, I had to walk around not touching stuff if I used it on my cuticles, or hold my arms away from everything if I put it on my elbows. Ugh.

Essentiel Elements Wake Up Rosemary Shower Gel: This was my sample choice for this month, because I loved the Essentiel Elements Wake Up Rosemary Lotion so much previously. I think it's a fabulous scent, and I really love the style of both the sample bottles and the full size ones. I did really like this lotion, it's on my list of ones to buy when I run out of what I have (though that list is now getting pretty long!)

Harvey Prince Petaly Noir: Perfume can be pretty polarizing, and a lot of reviews said this scent was "old" or too "flowery." I didn't think it was either, I really love how it smells on me. But it is a strong scent that just feels very "evening" to me, not like something to wear to work but something to wear out on a date or to a party. So that's what I use it for now, I do really love it, and this just cemented my love for Harvey Prince products.

Lord & Berry Paillettes Eye Pencil: You can't really see this one in the picture, it's kind of hiding behind the balm and the lotion. A lot of people complained kind of a ridiculous amount about the size of this sample, because it is a pretty small pencil. But I was THRILLED because I already have two full size eyeliner pencils I've gotten in other boxes, plus I had bought a set of colored eye liner not long before this so I didn't need another huge pencil I would never use up. Especially because this particular liner is black with silver glitter, which I'm going to use once in a great while when I'm doing really fun makeup and not trying to look professional. So anyway, it's the perfect size for me, and I do really like the pencil itself. It's very fun, and if I did this kind of look often I would totally be up for the full size.

So this is where we finally talked about the sample I've gotten that I liked the least out of all of them, (the Dr. Lipp balm) and a few new favorites too. Overall, it was a pretty good box.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

September 2014 Birchbox and Birchbox Plus

Back to talking about my old Birchboxes! This time we're going back to September 2014 and my first time trying out Birchbox Plus!

Ruffian Essential Blush Collection & Remover Towelettes: I've gone on several times about my love for Ruffian's nail polishes, and when I saw this gorgeous collection, I had to have it. I'd been wanting some more feminine but neutral-ish tones. These colors are gorgeous in person, and they're a fantastic base to do more fancy nail art, or put a bit of glitter on top and have a more simple look (for me that's simple). They go so well together, and my favorite is definitely No More Tears. I used it for my Valentine's Day manicure this year. These will also definitely be good colors for the Ruffian Manicure Look!

Now to my actual Birchbox items!

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser and Cloth: This was my pick for the sample choice this month, and I actually got it because I already own a full size (thanks to a birthday present from my sister, yay!) and loved it so much I wanted a travel size to take with me on trips. It's a really lovely cleanser, and it works so much better than most I've tried. And while I think the muslin clothes are a bit expensive on their own, as a package deal they're quite nice to use and worth it.

Dear Clark Resurrecting Wash and Dear Clark Resurrecting Rinse: These were kind of a rare product that I absolutely did not like. The smell was awful, I don't know which aspect of it that I didn't like, but the scent was just gross to me. I didn't like it going on, and then throughout the day after I used it, I would turn my head and catch a whiff of it again and be grossed out all over again. Not a fan at all. That said, I gave mine to my best friend who said she liked the smell, so who knows.

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum: Honestly, I'm so very over serums. I don't see a difference in my face when I use them (except maybe the oily spots get oilier) and they're usually ridiculously expensive. Which this one is, it's far too overpriced for what it is. Sure, it was a good serum, but like I said, I've never noticed a big difference between when I use a serum and when I don't, so why spend $79 on one ounce of a product like that?

Smashbox Be Legendary Long Wear Lip Lacquer: I do really like Smashbox products, and this lip lacquer is nice, but it goes on a little thick and bright for my current style of makeup. But it is fun to try a brighter color once in a while, so I've kept it and use it once in a great while. It is a lot thicker than what I would consider a "stain," but I still liked it okay.

So that's it for this Birchbox. I'm a fan of the plus upgrade option, though I haven't used it again since this one, just because the one other time I thought about it the item I wanted was sold out. They are usually good deals, but on pricier items that are above my range anyway, or things that I wouldn't use/aren't my style. But I'm always excited to check them out, and if they have some cool nail polish again I'll definitely go for it.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

I know, I'm very behind the times, but I only just got around to seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron last weekend. To be honest, absolutely none of the trailers or pre-release buzz really got me hyped, and then a bunch of stuff happened, so it took a while to get around to it.

The short version of my feelings on the film were how I summed it up right after I left the theater. It's a mixed bag, but trending positive. There were a lot of things to like, a lot of scenes I enjoyed, and quite a few characters that I just love seeing no matter what (Hi, Captain America and anybody from his film series). I was surprised that I actually really enjoyed pretty much anything with Hawkeye in this film. Up until now, Clint has been kind of a non-character in the movies, but this time he got some valuable development.
I know some people probably disagree with my opinion here, but there's a particular spoiler-y development with Hawkeye that quite a few people hated and felt came out of nowhere, but I actually thought it was great. Could there have been more set up? Sure, if Hawkeye had really had any character at all in any of his previous appearances. Yeah, throw rotten fruit at me all you want, but he spent most of The Avengers mind controlled and then being angry about being mind controlled. That was about all you got. Instead this time we got a lot more out of him and I liked what we got. His sense of humor was really well done, and I liked it.

I know I'm probably a little biased, but I also really enjoyed all the bits with Steve. Captain America is clearly my favorite of all of them, so that's no surprise. I like his sense of leadership and responsibility and how he still is funny despite being very heartfelt. I don't know, he's just very much what I like in characters. He's what I always want Superman to be, very powerful, understanding the responsibilities that come with that power, but not breaking under the weight of it either. He's serious without being grave. And I think a lot of that comes from Chris Evans, who plays every moment with a lot of nuance.

But that leads me to one of my greater problems with the movie, is that there is a LOT of stuff there and a lot of it doesn't need to be there, or need to be as long as it is, because then they leave very good stuff on the floor instead of exploring it. Every character in this movie is shown their greatest fear, a vision that is meant to destablize them and make them unable to fight. Iron Man is shown all of his friends dead, Black Widow flashes back to her traumatic childhood, Thor sees himself as a destructive menace.

And Captain America finally sees VE Day, which he didn't get to experience the first time around. He's told he can go home, that the war is over, they are all finally done fighting. And Evans clearly shows us that this is just as tragic, and not just because he missed it the first time. It's because he knows it's not true, it's never true, they're never done fighting, and for him and his best friend and the love of his life, there was nothing real about going home.

How interesting is all that? I wanted to see it, at least hear Steve acknowledge it, something. But instead we get my major problem with the entire film, and something a lot of people are talking about, which is some sort of flailing attempt at romance between Bruce and Natasha.

I'll avoid the spoilers, but basically absolutely no scene about this particular pairing works. The characters have no chemistry on screen. I think both the actors were trying so hard to hit the beat that these are two broken people who aren't sure if they're worthy of a relationship that they didn't get anything else. There's no longing, no attraction, nothing. Natasha's relationship with Steve is so much more interesting and compelling in The Winter Soldier, so it makes this feel just clunky and terrible. I can see why the writers thought it worked on paper and wanted to try it, but they should have dropped it as soon as the first scene they shot wasn't working.

I'm not getting into the line/dialogue everybody is talking about right now and discussing if it's sexist or not. Listen, we can have all the debates we want about intention or context or whatever, but at the end of the day what's on the screen is all there is, and what's on the screen is a brick of a stupid scene that never should have happened, was framed poorly, and yes, came across as a very sexist moment and that I personally found more than a bit offensive even as I understood what they really were trying to do with it.

There are two action sequences that go on too long, but the final fight scene could have taken longer and I wouldn't have cared because it was well done. And the fight scene in Seoul was fantastic. Maybe it just took halfway through the movie before they started being more willing to kill their babies in the edit suite to cut down the fight to the important bits. Or maybe those two fights weren't necessarily chocked full of things that were there to sell toys to older comic book fans (I'm sorry the Hulkbuster was there because why? Sure, you could have it, but that fight was WAY too long for no reason besides OOH, HULKBUSTER). There are too many characters, and too many plot lines that aren't developed. There are too many moments, most of them centered on Iron Man, that are there just because "we need X to happen" and not because of something that felt really fleshed out and set up.

But in the end, I'm still thought it was generally good, I had fun watching it. I'd watch it again, but I wouldn't buy a second movie ticket for it.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

August 2014 Birchbox

Time for another Birchbox catch up post! I'll get through these eventually, I swear! This box was pretty good, I got another new favorite, and no huge disappointments.

Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo: I actually had just finished my previous sample of dry shampoo when this one came in, so perfect timing! I actually did like the smell of this one more, it does have a nice-ish scent, but it does also still smell like aerosol too. In the end I've decided I just don't like dry shampoo and I likely never will, but if I was going to keep some around just in case, it would be this one. What a glowing review, huh? It really is nice, it's just dry shampoo feels like a lot of hassle for little reward to me.

nugg Beauty Soothing Face Mask: I loved this face mask. Enough that I ordered the variety pack from the same brand before the month was up. It's a fantastic face mask, and each little tub actually does two, maybe even three masks for me. I just keep a sample container around from The Body Shop that I put the extra in when I'm done with the first use, to keep it more fresh. It really did make my face look better, and it was a really nice texture and everything. I enjoyed it, I need to restock actually.

Supergoop Forever Young Hand Cream: I have absolutely no idea why you need a separate sunscreen for your hands. Or maybe it's supposed to be a lotion that happens to have SPF in it? I don't know, it doesn't matter to me because I don't see the point either way. It's a nice product, it smelled good, but it also separated like the other Supergoop product I've gotten, and I generally wasn't impressed, especially for the price. I'll stick to my Neutrogena sunscreen stuff, it works great, it smells nice, and it costs far less. My hand lotion doesn't need sunscreen, I use lotion and sunscreen at entirely different times so I have no problem with using different products.

Dr. Jart+ Dis-A-Pore Beauty Balm: I was not a big fan of this product, partially because it went too thick for me and it was hard for me to be sparing with it, which I have to do because otherwise it made my skin look weird rather than minimizing pores. In the end it wasn't really awful, but it wasn't anywhere near as good as The POREfessional which does the same thing but so much better.

ModelCo Bronzer: This was my sample choice for this month, and I'm pretty happy with it. Honestly I still don't know what to do with bronzer, but it's a great product to experiment with, and I can put it on very lightly to get just a touch of color, a lot of bronzers are far too dark for me even at the lightest application, so that was good. And it wasn't too sparkly either. Overall I really like it, I need to practice with it more.

So there's another Birchbox for you! I highly suggest trying the nugg masks, and if you're in the market for a dry shampoo Amika's smells pretty nice overall, even if I don't like dry shampoo. But in general, this Birchbox was exactly what I want from my box, a set of stuff I really wanted to try so I could make some decisions about if I want to buy them full price, plus a surprise (the masks) that turned out to be a new favorite brand.

Remember, if you want to try Birchbox out, please consider using my referral link!

Monday, June 01, 2015

The Sweetest Kisses Series by Grace Burrowes

Okay, so I know my taste in books is probably pretty darn eclectic. But I do sometimes enjoy a good romance novel because in the end I really love to read love stories. I can be specific in my tastes about them (I like happy endings, hence the romance novels. I can't stand love triangles, I don't like stories that have any kind of cheating, etc).

I discovered Grace Burrowes kind of accidentally when I found a freebie deal on a book of hers in her Wyndam series of regency romances. I enjoyed the series enough that I've got an alert set up on BookBub for any deals on her books, and that's how I ended up picking up A Kiss for Luck, a novella that starts off her "Sweetest Kisses" series of contemporary romances. As of this writing, it's still free to download.

In the end, I didn't actually like A Kiss For Luck all that much. It was okay, I guess, but as a novella it just moved too fast. See, in filmmaking one thing that bothers me is when filmmakers don't understand that a short film is it's own art form, it's not the same structure, style, and storytelling technique as a feature but crammed into a shorter run time. It's different. Novellas are the same way, and short stories. You shouldn't go through the exact same structure but faster just because your page count is shorter.

A Kiss For Luck does that. It goes through every familiar story beat that romance novels always go through, but at such a pace that I felt like none of it really gelled and became genuine. I did feel like the characters cared for each other, but the typical romance novel "no, we can't really be falling for each other" stuff didn't work because it didn't have time to be set up or steep before it was gone again. Plus I think all the action took place over like a few days, or at least it felt that way. The characters aren't bad, neither is the setting, but I think it's actually NOT the right way to intro a new reader to the Sweetest Kisses series, because it didn't actually make me want to read more.

What made me want to read more was that the novella ends with the first chapter of A Single Kiss, the first book in the series. And the first chapter of A Single Kiss is very good. It completely pulled me in, and I bought the e-book right then. The actual novels are the love stories of three brothers, all of which are lawyers, who run a law firm together and have different specialties. They all appear in A Kiss For Luck, but oddly none of the characters from A Kiss For Luck are ever mentioned in any of the trilogy itself, which makes it feel even more disconnected and unnecessary.

A Single Kiss is about Trent Knightly, who practices family law, and Hannah Stark, who has recently passed the bar exam and is looking to go into corporate law. She gets hired into family law, which is the last place she wants to be, but she takes the job because she has to provide for her daughter. Trent, incidentally, is also a single parent, having dealt with a particularly nasty divorce years before the story starts.

There's just something about Hannah and Trent, and their daughters, that just kept me reading long after I should have stopped and gone to bed. The story was a bit convenient and full of coincidences at times, but what romance novel isn't? The characters were really just fantastic, I cared about them, I wanted them to get what they wanted most. So I didn't care that everything was wrapped up so neatly in the end.

The second book, The First Kiss, deals with the youngest Knightly brother, James, and the once widowed-once divorced Vera Waltham. Vera also happens to have a young daughter, who happens to know Trent and Hannah's two girls. I actually don't mind this, it just is part of why these books start to get a little old a little quickly, because they went beyond being a bit formulaic and straight into feeling a bit like rehashes of each other. I don't know how to describe it, on paper the books seem completely different, but there's so many trappings in common that I just don't know.

The other problem I had with this particular book is that the "why we can't be together" stuff was just...tired. The whole thing with James having his little black book but being tired of sleeping with any woman that asked him just came across a bit overdone. Of course, his past romances have to be forgiven because he was emotionally wounded or something, and her past marriages are basically explained away into almost not existing. It was just felt like the old the rake and the virgin thing that I'm not into, despite how popular it is with romance readers. At the least, the threats to Vera and her daughter felt real and the parts where they were dealing with that were much more interesting than James' inner angst, so I did still at least enjoy reading it.

The big problem came with Kiss Me Hello, the last book in the series, which is about MacKenzie Knightly, the oldest and most serious brother, and Sidonie Lindstrom, a foster mom to a sometimes troublesome, sometimes troubled, teenager.

There was a lot about this book I liked. I liked Mac's character for the most part, I loved the focus on horses and how therapeutic riding can make a difference in a kid's life. I liked Sid for the most part, and I thought her backstory was particularly interesting.

But the entire plot of the book hinged on Mac being a complete and total idiot. Not even slightly idiotic, not making one small mistake and forgetting about it. No, he intentionally and willfully spends the entire book not telling Sid he's a lawyer, that his brothers are lawyers, and that they all own a law firm, because she keeps saying "I hate lawyers." Sure, she has reason to be mad at lawyers, most people do. But there are something like fifteen points where it would have been easy for any one of them to have said "I know you've had a bad experience, but I actually have knowledge, expertise, and the ability to help you solve this problem you have because I am a lawyer." Instead they find ways to try to fix things WHILE keeping everything under wraps. It just gets more annoying every step of the way. Sid's stance on lawyers is partially from an honest place, and partially just childish, and a good conversation could have solved it on page 20, considering everything else about her character. It wasn't the right plot device and it felt off the entire time.

The other problem that really rears it's ugly head in this book is one that's common to all of Burrowes' writing, that she's more than a little bit fond of the "Babies Ever After" ending. And I won't spoil the book, but the ending was so unrealistic that it actually made me mad. I thought for a second it was going to be a book about people making a non-traditional family and exploring the fact that family is made of more than genetics. And it tried, but it punted at the last second anyway, though it still scored a point or two I guess.

There's another novella, Kiss and Tell, which focuses on a completely different set of characters, but between my lukewarm feelings about the first novella, my bitterness at the ending of the third book, and the kind of weird cover, I haven't bothered to pick it up.

Overall, I would say I absolutely recommend A Single Kiss, and if you just need to know what happens for the other two Knightly brothers, then the other two books aren't awful, but if they start to annoy you then it's safe to put them away.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

July 2014 Birchbox

If I recall correctly, July of 2014 was the first time they let you choose a sample for your Birchbox, and I've really enjoyed that extra perk, though sometimes I think about maybe just saying "surprise me" instead. I'll get into that in later boxes, in this box there was no question for me on what to pick.

A photo posted by Elizabeth (@onegirlsreviews) on

Hello Body Cream: I'd been excited about this product since I realized it existed, especially after how much I enjoyed the Hello perfume in my June box. The body cream smelled just as lovely, if not maybe slightly better actually. It was a great lotion, you didn't have to use much to get a really great feel on your skin. I love the entire Hello line, though I have to admit they're a bit costly. Though Harvey Prince is constantly having sales if you subscribe to their mailing list.

Ruffian Nail Lacquer - Ambrosia: This was the sample I chose, which is probably no surprise since I've talked before about how much I love Ruffian's products and wrote a tutorial for their "signature" look a while back too. I'd been wanting some of the new colors for a long time, but I couldn't convince myself to spend the money because I had so much nail polish already. But then came the choice to get the color I wanted most in my box? Yes please. This color is absolutely beautiful, I'm still so happy I have it. Especially now that it looks like it's not available anymore.

Ruffian Dressing Room Nail Lacquer Remover Towelettes: I can't actually remember if I've talked about these on the blog before or not, or if this was even the first time I'd gotten them. But either way, I'll just say I LOVE these. I ended up buying a pack shortly after I got this one, because they work so well. I've tried other nail polish remover towelettes before (namely Julep's) and they've been basically rubbish (yup, Julep's middle range quality strikes again). So I wasn't expecting much the first time I opened one of these. But seriously, it works. It's actually bigger and has enough stuff to really remove all ten nails worth of polish. Honest. And they really do smell better than normal.

suki exfoliat foaming cleanser: This cleanser was okay, I wasn't overly impressed really. The lemon smell reminded me of a furniture cleaner or something, it just wasn't a smell I associate with face wash. It was a little more harsh than my sensitive skin can usually take, and the sugar dissolved way before it could actually do anything. And at $33, I've definitely gotten far better products from Etsy that cost less.

Marcelle New Age 8 in 1 Power Serum: I don't know what to say about this that I haven't said about every other serum I've reviewed. Meh, it does something, not sure what, it's better to use this with my moisturizer than not, but I'm still too cheap to think $34 an ounce is a price I'm willing to pay for something that's just "eh, I guess it's doing something" when I can get something cheaper that is about the same effect at The Body Shop.

Coastal Scents Revealed 2 Palette: I'd been tempted to buy this palette a few times actually, or the first Revealed palette, but I convinced myself not to because I have several eyeshadow palettes right now from BH Cosmetics and they're fantastic and will take me forever to use up. So I was thrilled to get a chance to try this without having to spend the money. I got the "ballerina" set of colors, which were four very nice, subtle neutral shades. I loved them, the colors are great and I got really good coverage out of them. I definitely liked them enough that I'm even more tempted by the full sized palette now, and will probably cave and get one of them next time I order with points.

One of the other things that came with this Birchbox was a year's subscription to Women's Health Magazine. Like, an actual free subscription where you didn't have to remember to cancel later or anything, just fill out a quick card and drop it in the mail. I definitely am not one to say no to something like that.

So now that it's been about a year, my review of Women's Health Magazine is that it is a seriously weird mix of actual, good, scientifically backed advice and really bonkers woo woo stuff, plus some body positivity sprinkled over fat shaming. I mean, I guess it's as mixed up as most women's emotions on those topics? It was a decent distraction for the last year, and if I could renew it for less than $5 I might think about continuing to get it, but honestly I got very little out of it. Also, it's more than a little heteronormative (which is not a word I use often for various reasons). But it was very, very full of the "how to please your man in bed" stuff and a bit too much focus on losing weight to look good to get a man (which is eight kinds of problems in one) and I can't recall seeing one mention in the entire year of women who are lesbians, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, nothing. I'm not saying every issue of every magazine every time needs to include everybody always, but they don't really make an effort.

I am currently trying to get healthier, and I did pick up a couple tips from them over the last year. But for the most part I found it the same old crap I've been trying to reject, with a lot of fat shaming and "lose weight no matter what" and "only skinny people are attractive" kind of feel. So I won't be renewing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 2014 Birchbox

So going back a year to my May 2014 Birchbox! This was one jam packed box, but I definitely have to say it also had the one product I have hated the most from all my boxes I've gotten.

Caldrea Body Lotion and Caldrea Body Wash: I remember very little about this particular sample, oops, sorry! I don't remember them being bad, just not memorable either.

CoTZ Face Natural Skin Tone SPF 40: My skin is super pale, and as I've mentioned before, anything with any sort of tint isn't going to work for me, so this one was on that list too. It was just too dark to work for me so ah well.

Nexxus Pre-Wash Primer: This is the product I mentioned that is the worst thing I've gotten in any Birchbox. I want to be nice most of the time, I try not to be too negative but this was awful. It was horrible, and I can't for the life of me figure out who let this thing out into the market. I understand what the point is, when you color your hair there's a delicate game you play with wanting your hair clean and pretty but also not washing out your color. But I'm sorry, this stuff basically coated my hair in oil (like I need help with that) and then nothing got through and did anything for it. I realize they think that's the point but it was so gross. I let it go a couple hours before I used my regular shampoo to wash it twice more to make it look presentable again, and then it was still only okay. Ugh, so terrible.

Nexxus Color Assure Vibrancy Retention Shampoo and
Nexxus Color Assure Vibrancy Retention Conditioner: I'll never know how well these two worked because I used them along with the primer and it was so awful. Obviously they did nothing to get rid of the oil residue of the primer, since they aren't supposed to.

Pixi Beauty Shea Butter Lip Balm: Change of pace though, another winner! I ended up getting all three colors of this later one because it was really awesome. It's very moisturizing, and the color is fun. All in all, it's great and a good product to keep around for when you want some color but not to go through a whole lipstick routine.

Greenleaf Candle: I've kind of gotten away from candles in general lately because I've started using Scentsy products instead. But this candle smelled very nice, and I was very happy to get it. Especially because not long after this came in the mail my power went out and I realized it's a good idea to keep a candle around anyway.

So this box had a lot in it, but not too much that was memorable in a good way, except the Pixi Lip Balm which I absolutely recommend. Remember, if you want to give Birchbox a try please consider using my referral link!

Friday, May 22, 2015

April 2014 Birchbox

Oh no, I somehow managed to skip over my April and May boxes in the rush to talk about June apparently! Or I just got May and March confused like I frequently do. But here we are still in my Birchbox Throwback, let's talk about April 2014!

This month's box was themed for "rainy days" and it was so perfect because it arrived on rainy day. And I'm actually writing this review after a dreary rainy day, so obviously I'm back in the right mindset for it. The box itself was pretty good, had a couple great discoveries, some not so much, and as always lots of cute themed stuff. One thing Birchbox does well is their themeing, each month the box is very well put together. These ladies know what they're doing.

Gilchrist & Soames Spa Therapy Body Wash: Okay, this was the gold star for me in this box. I really loved this body wash, and it's high on the list of what I'm going to splurge on when I finally use up my cheaper body wash that I stocked up on a year ago and need to finish before I can spend money. I liked the smell, it worked really well, and it just felt great. The right amount of lather, just all around a really good product. I've since become a fan of this brand, even if their prices are sometimes a little high for me.

Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner: I can't remember which color eyeliner I got in this box, except that it was kind of purple. This was my first experiment with colored eye liners, and while I thought it went on well and was easy to use, at the end of the day my major problem was it didn't matter how much eye makeup remover I used, or how hard I scrubbed, I still looked like I had a black eye whenever I tried to remove it. And I didn't have the best of luck with it staying put, so the dark purple just ended up making me look bruised. The eyeliner itself was probably great (except it was a bit smudgey), but the color didn't work for me.

KIND Healthy Grain Bars: The bar I got was pumpkin seeds with sea salt, which I expected to really not like. I'm not a big fan of pumpkin, and while I've liked quite a few sea salt flavored things lately, usually those words are followed by "caramel." I almost gave this bar away without trying it, but I did and I'm glad because it was actually pretty good. I learned that pumpkin seeds don't really taste like pumpkin, at least not what I'm used to. I have started buying more KIND products now that I had this and liked it, though they have been hit or miss since then.

Color Club Gala's Gems in Gold Struck: I got some Color Club polish in a previous box and if you read that review you'll see I was generally unimpressed with it. Since I wasn't sure if it was the fact that it was a metallic polish I was willing to give the company another try, but this polish was also a more metallic finish and so to be perfectly honest I ended up trading it without opening it so I could get a better swap out of it. The color also wasn't my style anyway.

Davines OI/Shampoo and Davines OI/Conditioner: Since I jumped the gun and went out of order, my previously reviewed June box was actually the second time I got a Davine's set of products. I don't mind getting multiples from the same company though, and these were different offerings from the brand than my other box. That said, I wasn't overly impressed, or even upset about them. They were fine, just completely fine. All the shampoo and conditioner samples I've gotten in my Birchboxes and there's still been only one I might think about getting once in a while instead of my current cheap brand. Shampoo has definitely not been a thing where I've been convinced to go higher end.

So, all in all, it was a pretty good box, no giant standouts but my introduction to a few good brands that I liked and want to try more from. Which is the entire point after all. You may have noticed one of my common themes is that I'm actually really cheap when it comes to things like beauty products, and Birchbox doesn't always go for stuff that's in my typical price range. So on the one hand, that's great because I get to try stuff I would never pick up on my own because of the price. Plus, with their points system if I find something I love I can splurge for it later. But the problem is, sometimes I feel like there's a long line of stuff that's just proving to me that my cheap ways are good because the expensive stuff isn't that much more impressive.

All that being said, I still adore Birchbox because it lets me have that trial and error to figure that out through actually using products and not just guessing that something might be better because it's expensive.