Birchbox September 2013: Heritage

This month marks Birchbox’s 3rd anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been three years. In one way it feels like Birchbox has been around longer than that.

I got my two Birchboxes a week ago and just started sampling stuff a day or two ago. Here is what I got in the first box.
Soak Laundry Wash
This wash is a rinse-free formula that is designed for items ranging from lingerie, sweaters, quilts and even baby clothes.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Sensitive
This is the sample I was most excited to see! I have been curious to try Juice Beauty products for a while. I like exfoliating treatments and have heard this peel is gentle yet effective. The sample size is 0.25 oz so I should get a couple of uses out of it.

Beauty Protector Daily Shampoo and Conditioner
So I go from a high to a low as these two products are the ones I was least happy to receive. I wish there was a way to opt out of receiving hair product samples as I have received samples every month and most have been from this brand. But I can use the shampoo to clean makeup brushes.

Ruffian Nail Lacquer in Fox Hunt
This is a bold color I normally would not buy. But the lacquer appears to be of good quality.

That’s it for box number one. Here is what was in the second box:
Beauty Protector Daily Shampoo and Conditioner
Again with these samples. Ugh.

Mereadesso All-in-One Moisturizer
This product is an anti-aging day/night cream, serum, eye cream, toner and primer all rolled into one. Talk about multi-tasking! I love the design of this sample as it has a flap that snaps close in the back.

GlamNatural Cream Blush in three shades
This is a super concentrated product that delivers a satin finish and a healthy glow to cheeks. I received three sample shades: Barely There, a pale pink; Sun Kissed, a medium/warm pink; and After Hours, a plum/burgundy shade.

Ruffian Nail Lacquer in Hedge Fund
At first I was a bit skeptical of this shade, but once I tried it I do like it! It is a nice shade for fall.

So that’s what I received in my Birchboxes for September. I am a bit underwhelmed by my samples, particularly when I compare them to what I’ve seen in other unboxing videos. As I understand, there are 25+ varieties of boxes one could receive and I know the Birchbox algorithms are choosing the products that closely match my profile. I did make an adjustment to my profile today to see if that helps for October.

You can learn more about Birchbox or sign up by visiting their site. Subscriptions cost only$10 a month.

Goodies Subscription Box Review: September 2013

I just got my September Goodies box a few days ago. And like always, I could barely wait to rip the box open to see what yummy snacks were inside!

Goodies is a food-based subscription service developed from a division of Walmart Labs (yes, that Walmart). For $7 a month subscribers get between 5 and 8 snacks to sample. Sample sizes are pretty good and I have even received full-size products before!


Goodies September 2013 Box

My box contained 6 samples. While there isn’t a central theme to this month’s box, I have noticed that recent boxes have each contained a bag of chips and a bottled liquid, Here is a rundown of the box contents.


Zone Perfect Greek Yogurt Chocolate Bar (1.58 oz, full size)

I have had Zone Perfect bars before, but the Greek Yogurt variety is new to me. Like other Zone bars it is a great source of protein- 12g per bar. Very excited to give this a go!


Attiki Honey (sample size- approx 1 tablespoon)

This is a pretty small sample, but would be good to taste in tea or on toast. I do like honey so this will be great to try.


Kashi Sundried Tomato, Basil & Feta All Natural Hummus Chips (sample size 1 oz)

I do like Kashi products and the combination of these ingredients sounds sooooooooo appealing to me!


Barefruit Crunchy Fuji Red Apple Chips (sample size 0.53 oz)

I am very curious to try these chips. Dried fruit chips are hit-or-miss with me, but I will definitely give these a try. They are 100% natural, gluten free and the sample is marked as having the equivalent of 1 apple in the bag. The back of the bag suggests sprinkling the chips over oatmeal, tossed with a salad or mixed into yogurt. I never thought about those options!


Nestle Pure Life Splash Water in Mandarin Orange (sample size 16.9 oz)

I often run away from flavored water, but hey- I’m game to give it a shot.


Scottie Dogs All Natural Black Licorice (sample size 2.75 oz)

When I saw this sample, I immediately groaned. I hate licorice. Hate it, hate it, hate it. But I decided to try these out. Whoa. This are so darn tasty! I think the fact that they have real licorice root and pure anise is what did it for me. It doesn’t have a fake, waxy taste that I’ve experienced with other licorice candies. And the Scottie dog shape is too cute!

For only $7 a month, I think Goodies is a good value for the money. Click here to learn more about Goodies or to subscribe.



Tomato Pie, Where Have You Been All My Life?


I had one of those culinary moments that made me realize I’ve been missing out on something really, really good. A few months ago I came across a recipe for tomato pie, a food I have never had before. When I asked a friend what the food tasted like, she immediately had a “food moment”. You know that moment, when the memory of a certain food causes you to fully or partially close your eyes, slowly smile and let out a low “Mmmmmm…”

Okay, so based on my friend’s response, I knew I was on to something good. But I put off making the recipe. This week some of my garden tomatoes were ripening and I realized that now this was a perfect time to try the recipe.

This recipe was so darn simple and easy to make that I am adding it to my culinary rotation. It is a perfect food that works for brunch, lunch or dinner. It can be perfectly accompanied with a salad or even as a side dish with an entree like chicken.

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think. Or if you have a link to a favorite tomato pie recipe, feel free to share it in the comments below.



Before & After: Starbuck vs Delivery Man

I am a huge film fanatic and love all kinds of cinema. From foreign films to intense thrillers. Dramas to indie flicks. As much as I love cinema, there are some films I can often do without:

  • Chick flicks (ugh)
  • American remakes of foreign films (double ugh!)

During the summer I saw the trailer for the Vince Vaughn film Delivery Man that comes to theaters November 22. This film is about a lovable underachiever named David who finds out that he has fathered 533 children via anonymous sperm donations to a fertility clinic 20 years ago. Now 142 of those kids have filed a lawsuit to reveal David’s true identity. Check out the trailer below:

Okay, the trailer looks interesting, right? But what was most interesting to me was when I discovered that this film is actually a remake of a 2011 French-Canadian film called Starbuck. See the trailer for that film here:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Very similar. Okay, more than similar- freaking identical. Before you freak, let me point out that the same writer and director is behind both films: Ken Scott. Starbuck is Scott’s 2nd films as director while Delivery Man is Scott’s 3rd turn behind the camera.

I just finished watching Starbuck and was so charmed by the movie. It had great moments of humor and humanity. As a viewer I was immediately sympathetic to David’s honest attempt to do the right thing. I actually teared up a few times during the film!

Here are my concerns about the remake:

  1. Yikes! Filmmakers are doing the remake only 2 years after the original film. I appreciate the fact that the same writer and director is involved in both projects, but also know that the timing is reflective of a money grab for the studio.
  2. Casting Vince Vaughn in the lead. Hold up- before you get mad at me, let me say that I love Vince Vaughn. But I view his humor as more over the top and the original film’s comedy was more subtle. I hope to be pleasantly proven wrong. After all, I recall Bill Murray before and after the film Lost in Translation. So maybe Vince has the ability to rein in the humor.
  3. I do have an ongoing rant on American remakes of foreign films. Often the American versions dumb down the material and go for the easy laugh in order to reach a wider audience. But I think this also lies with which side one’s humor tends to lean. Mine tends to lean to foreign.

My verdict? I am curious about how the new film will turn out. I don’t think it will be worth spending $10+ to go see in theaters, but I might Netflix it. But then again, I just saw the original film and thought it was delightful. The original film was a box office success internationally and also had great reviews when screened at US film festivals. Will the remake be essentially the same film but without subtitles? Based on the trailer alone, I think the answer is yes. How does that saying go? If it ain’t broke…

If you’ve seen Starbuck, I’d like to know your thoughts on the film and if you plan to see the remake this fall. I’d also love to know your thoughts on American remakes of foreign films. The original film Starbuck is available to watch via Netflix mail.



I’ll Show You My Watchlist If You Show Me Yours

I tend to watch more movies than TV shows, but this year’s fall lineup has me excited to punch in the lower numbers on my remote. Network and cable have great selections of new and returning shows that I am excited to watch (even on CBS- which is big for me!). Here are a few of them I’m excited to catch.

The Michael J. Fox Show | Series premieres September 26 on ABC
First of all, it is hard not to love Michael J. Fox. From his time on Family Ties to his role as Marty McFly in the Back to The Future movies, I have loved Fox since the 80s. I’m thrilled to see him return to the small screen and I have a feeling millions will tune in to revisit our old friend.

Homeland | Season 3 premieres September 29 on Showtime
I was a huge fan of the show 24, and when the show ended I searched for other shows to fill that void. Homeland is one of two shows that does it for me (Cinemax’s Strike Back is the other one). Season 2 literally ended with a bang as — SPOILER ALERT! — several characters were killed and viewers were left wondering what will come of Carrie and Brody, both individually and as a couple. I can not wait until this show returns to Showtime. I have already added extra padding to the edge of my seat in preparation of the new season!

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. | Series premieres September 24 on ABC
This is one of the most highly anticipated shows of the fall season and it’s no wonder. The Avengers film was a huge success at the box office and moviegoers simply can’t get enough superhero action. Joss Whedon who directed The Avengers film is also involved in this show about other superheroes. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the TV show characters makes his or her way into the next Avengers film. Viewers assemble!

Modern Family | Season 5 premieres September 25 on ABC
Modern Family is one of those great comedic gems that sadly doesn’t come around too often. I love the relatable situations and dry humor, not to mention all the little details that make this show one of the best on TV.

The Crazy Ones | Series premieres September 26 on CBS
It’s funny- when I first watched this trailer in late spring, it took me a while to remember that Robin Williams was on TV back in the 70s. This show marks Williams’ return to small screen comedy. I really hope the show is as funny as the trailer!

The Simpsons | Season 25 premieres September 29 on Fox
Hey- don’t you judge me for watching this show. I have been watching The Simpsons since almost the beginning, have seen every episode and still adore this show. The humor is smart and witty. And it is in its 25th season. That speaks volumes! These days shows are lucky if they get to finish their first season.

Bob’s Burgers | Season 4 premieres September 29 on Fox
This quirky animated show has been gaining fans with each season. I was initially a skeptic about this show but quickly embraced it. Love the snarky adult humor!

Those are just a few shows that I am dying to see this fall season. What about you?

Happy watching!



Barr-Co. Reed Diffuser Review

One of the things I love about subscription boxes is the opportunity to discover new favorite things and try products I never would have tried on my own. The September Popsugar Must Have box included a Barr-Co. reed diffuser by K-Hall Designs. I have been curious about trying a reed diffuser for years but have always asked, “Do they really work?” I think my biggest hang up was in how they worked. Wooden reeds in oil that distribute fragrance into a room? Candles and room sprays I understand. But diffusers were one of those things I had my doubts about. Besides, in many fragrance lines diffusers tend to cost more than other products so I always deferred to candles or room sprays.

So I was excited to get the Reed-Co. diffuser in the September box. The beautifully packaged box contained a glass jar, 8 reeds and a container of oil. The scent simply labeled as “original scent” is a blend of milk, vanilla, vetiver and oatmeal. At first I was a little worried about a scent with vanilla, so I only poured a portion of the oil in the glass jar and used 4 reeds. Some vanilla based scents smell great to me while others can smell cheap and have an off-putting smell. But K. Hall Designs has found a perfect blend that is warm, cozy and, well, it smells like “home”.

20130922-174122.jpgThe diffuser costs $46 and can be purchased on the K. Hall Designs website and a few select online retailers. They have other scents like Johnny Apple Spice, Orange Amber and a curious one called Milk which is a blend of vanilla, coconut and cream (doesn’t that sound awesome?). Their oils are cosmetic-grade so they can even be applied as a personal body fragrance. I have not tried that yet, but will leave a review if I do!

Check out the full line of diffusers as well as K. Hall’s other products by visiting their website.