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.