Margarita's Blog

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Cate & Chloe, $40/month for 2 pieces of costume jewelry
Promo: CCINSIDER813 for 30% off (first box for $28)
To Unsubscribe: send e-mail, acknowledgement within 24 hrs, got offer of $30 a month for 6 months

There are few things in stores that are more overpriced than costume jewelry – as shown by the 50% to 75% off that stores often have in such items.  Only cosmetics must have a higher profit margin.  So it’s no wonder that jewelry abounds in subscription boxes.   Box sellers can negotiate deep discounts on the pieces and then claim that they’re worth whatever they want.

That’s definitely the case with Cate & Chloe.   This box sends you two pieces of jewelry every month. One is from their catalog, and the other is a “pre-release” piece.  The prices they ascribe to their costume jewelry are so outrageous as to be laughable.  Still, armed with a $21-off coupon (not as good as the one presently available, but keep searching), I decided to give it a try. I got my box within a few days of ordering.

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The box came with a card detailing the two pieces included.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t list the brand/manufacturer, the materials used or where the pieces are made.

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Each piece comes within one of these very cute boxes.

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Cate & Chloe’s Mary Motherly Necklace

 

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Similar necklace available at Ali Express

Mary “Motherly” Necklace (List price $115)

This is a very cute cubic zirconia pendant in a silver plated setting and chain.  My 10-year old daughter claimed it for herself immediately.  It’s about 8mm in diameter, a rather nice size.  The chain seems pretty cheap, however.

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Cate & Choloe Ashlyn “Nature” earrings

While the necklace is pretty nice, I found one that looks very much like it (though with a different chain) in Ali Express for only $3.  I decided to order it so I can compare the two.  If they are the same, that will be telling.  If they are not, I can give my daughter the Ali Express necklace and take the other back.  I can see wearing this piece every day.

IMG_20150303_155244Ashlyn “Nature” Pearl Leaf Earrings

This is their pre-release piece, so it doesn’t have a list price, though I’m sure it’ll be priced somewhere around $100 and that they will be gold plated.  The “pearls” are not real – ad they should be, given the list price of this piece.  The earrings do seem to be good quality (though the pearls were scratched from the let go) and they are different from anything I have – but that’s mostly because I’ve made most of my jewelery and I’m not very good at it.  I think they look fairly nice when they are on, though perhaps I wish they were a little longer.

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Similar earrings available at Ali Express

I was happily unable to find these same earrings online, but we can at least say that Cate & Chloe are not particularly innovative with their designs, as very similar earrings are available in Ali Express for under $2.

I am confident, however, that the earrings I got are nicer than the ones in Ali Express.  Whether 20-times nicer, remains to be seen.

In any case, I paid less than $10 for each piece, so I’m not unhappy.  I would be if I had paid full price.  All in all, I enjoyed the Wantable Accessories box more than I did this one.

 

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I’ve been so obsessed with subscription boxes, that I wondered whether I could put one together.  I’m lazy, so I wasn’t going to go around town or scour the internet looking for bargains.  Nope, I figured that I’d take $20 and half an hour and head to my neighborhood’s Grocery Outlet (a chain store which specializes in selling overstock products at bargain prices) and see how well I could fare there.   The answer was: not very well.  I did get six “full size products”, but mostly of drugstore brands and not necessarily at great bargains.  Still, I did get around $55 worth of products for $20 and, as I only bought products I was likely to use, I wasn’t too upset.

This is what I got:

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Antioche Laurel and Olive Oil Soap, 4.5 oz, $2 (retail $5)

This is an all natural soap handmade of just olive oil, laurel oil, lye and sea salt by women villagers in Southeast Turkey, using traditional methods.   It smells just like I remember soap smelling when I was a kid: of soap and nothing else.  Soap is prone to removing your natural oils and is therefore more drying than body wash, so if you have sensitive or dry skin this may not be the product for you, but so far I like it. It left me smelling of soap.

The size/packaging in this bar is different from what’s shown on the website, so it may be old. Still, soap doesn’t expire.

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Smith & Vandiver Spa Shower in Orange, Geranium & Peppermint, 21 tablets, $2 (retail $10-$26?)

These are bath bombs for the shower.  In reality, they are just bath bombs. All they have is baking soda and citric acid (the two ingredients that, when combined with water, react by fizzing), some maltodextrin to keep them together and essential oils – though perhaps in higher concentration than regular bath bombs.  I had never thought about using a bath bomb in the shower but was intrigued by the idea.  The concept is that as they dissolve, they release the aromas of the essential oils and you can have an aromatherapy shower.  Unfortunately, it’s a failed concept.

The problem is that when you take a shower you don’t just hang out under the water. You are shampooing your hair and washing yourself – most likely, with products that are both more heavily scented than the shower bombs and closer to your nose.  So it’s pretty hard to smell the bombs.

That said, they do have a very strong scent and I like having them out in the bathroom for that reason.  Eventually, I plan to use them are regular bath bombs when I take a bath.  The container in which they came is an ugly, soft plastic container – but then again, I got 21 bombs for $2 rather than 6 bombs for $7.50 as sold in the S&V website (though I don’t know if the newer tablets are more heavily scented) and I can always transfer them to something cuter.   In all, this wasn’t too bad a purchase.

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Lasting Finish Colour Rush Intense Colour Balm in “sun kissed”, 2.5 g $3 (Retail $5)

I got this because it was made in Italy so I thought it may be a more lux brand. Alas, it’s sold at Walmart.  That said, it gets good reviews at Makeup Ally and I liked how smooth it feels on my lips.  I don’t like, however, that I haven’t been able to find what the ingredients are.  The “sun kissed” color looked browner in the store, but it’s really pretty coral like. Not really for me, but I’ll give it to one of my daughters (probably the one who is not following me on instagram).

This was manufactured in May 2014 and has a 3-year shelf life.

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Vidal Sassoon Colorfinity, Intense Blondes Dry Shampoo, 4.9 Fl Oz, $3 (retail $6)

I got this because my daughter had asked me to pick up a dry shampoo.  It’s a drugstore brand and it gets mixed reviews, mostly complaints about the nozzle clogging up.  I’ll report how she likes it. I think the smell is fairly pleasant.  It was manufactured in Oct. 2013 and has a 3-year shelf life

EB5 Age Spot Formula, 6.7 oz, $7 (retail $25)

No subscription box would ever include this product and at $7 it was the most expensive thing I bought.  But I do have some nasty sun damage/age spots on my forehead that I want to get rid of.  I don’t know if this product will succeed, but I figured it’s worth trying. If nothing else, it will keep my forehead moisturized.

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Aqua Tinted BB Cream by Epielle, in natural beige, 1 oz, $2 (retail $3)

This was one product I knew I wasn’t getting a bargain on, but it’s a Korean product and I wanted to give it a try. BB creams are the whole rage in Asia, and are only now making their way into the US.  This is not a miracle worker, but did help smooth out discolorations on my skin – though not those sunspots I spoke about above.  It’s SPF15 so I can use it as a day cream.

Wantable Accessories: $40-36/month, jewelry & accessories

Wantable is a subscription box company with a slightly different model.  You subscribe to one of three boxes (accessories, make-up and intimates), fill out an extensive survey and then receive items based on what you wrote. You get to specifically say what you don’t want to get (e.g. no watches, scarves, gold-tone or funky hobo jewelry).  If you don’t like what you get, you can send it back for credit.  At $40 ($36 after the first month) it’s expensive, but I bought it when they had a 30%-off promo, so I only paid $28.  I was happy enough with what I got for $28 – but would not have been for $40.

I specified I wanted only jewelry, items that were classic or mixed, and a couple of other things I can’t remember. I got four pieces.  They all came very nicely wrapped in these little bags.  Alas, they are all branded “Wantable”, so you can’t really give them out as gifts (specially after blogging about them :-)

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The first piece I unwrapped was this fray necklace (the pieces all have names, but I threw away the booklet that came with them).  It has brass chains and gray suede frays.

At first, I was appalled. I’m 45. I wrote that in my questionnaire.  This is way too young fo rme.  But then I thought, if I don’t wear frays now, when will I? It’s not like I’m getting any younger.  My kids already think I’m a hippy (and yes, I’ve tried to explain that being a liberal and being a hippy are different things, but my daughter doesn’t even pretend to listen to anything I say), so why not? I decided to like it, but…

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It sheds.  Or rather, it insists in becoming disassembled.  The suede frays keep falling off.  The jump rings are not well closed.  I’ve already lost one of them and I really am going to have to spend some time and adjust them all.  Which sort of defeats the purpose of buying pre-made jewelry.

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A single fray, fallen but not lost (yet)

 

The other item I got is a magnifying glass necklace.  It’s all brass (or brass looking) and rather heavy.  All of us liked this.  And it’s totally something I’ll wear – even though my daughter thinks I shouldn’t. I’m not taking fashion advice from a 12-year-old!

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Yes, all my clothing is decorated with cat feathers the little pieces of down that get out from the seams of my pillows & comforter. Isn’t it chic?

 

The other two items were much less successful. So much so that I put them away somewhere far away, and I completely forgot where they are.  I’ll probably regift them to someone who doesn’t read my blog – which is pretty much everyone I know.

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This is another I’m-going-to-say brass bracelet, in gold tone. Look, let’s be honest here. I never took a class on metallurgy. I only know what “metallurgy” means because my dad worked at a metallurgic factory – though I never quite understood what he did there.  I know they “disappeared” lots of people from there and kept a small secret detention/torture center in the back (this was Argentina in the ’70s), but that’s not really relevant here.  Back to the point, maybe this is steel, maybe it’s iron, maybe it’s brass – I don’t really know, I’m just calling it brass.

The bracelet’s issue, however, it’s not its metal – though the hook is a little bit rough, so maybe part of it is -, but how small it is.  If you’re skinny, it should fit you. If you’re not, it won’t. It’s also not particularly attractive and rather uncomfortable (see hook issue). Both my daughters rejected it.  But at least this wasn’t a horrible piece of jewelry. Not like these earrings:

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They look ugly to you? They look even worse in person.  The “gems” are very white plastic. The edges are rough and they look super cheap. Plus they are sooo white. OK, maybe in the summer, if you are very tanned and wearing all white – maybe porting a pair of super-large white rim sunglasses, these would look OK.  Or not.  The worst part is that someone spent time making this monstrosity.

It occurs to me that I could possibly swap it. Someone might like it. If I could only remember where I put them.

Wantable has great customer service. They did offer to take the box back (but I hate sending stuff back) and cancellation was super easy. After I cancelled, they offered me 30$ off to come back (it was still during the promo-offer period), and I did consider giving them another try. But then I found a great offer from Cate & Chloe and I’m trying them this month instead.

Do you subscribe to Wantable? What do you think of their jewelry? What do you think of the items I got, specially the white monstrosity?

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Little Lace Box, $40/month, lifestyle
New subscriptions suspended until April, 2015

First, please watch:

No. Stop right there. You haven’t watched the video yet, have you?

Yes, I know you watched it a zillion years ago.  Yep, it’s a frog singing.  And you are at work and should at least be pretending to be working.  But look, if you are like me, you are interested in subscription boxes because you want a little cheap, easy magic.  To live a short dream of something wonderful coming in a box that will make you smile, maybe even fulfill your froggy dreams.   Former Little Lace Boxes have really delivered on that promise of magic.  This one, maybe not so much. So watch the video, get as much of the experience as you can.

Each box includes a letter describing the theme and the items.

Each box includes a letter describing the theme and the items.

The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me” is the theme for LLB’s February box.  I’ll be honest, at first sight, it’s hard to see how the four items that make up this box: chocolate fudge sauce, some stationary, a bath product and a small piece of jewelry, match this theme. And indeed, LLB acknowledged that this is not the box they originally envisioned.  But it’s what we got and if you think about it, it actually matches the theme pretty well.  All the products in this box were made by new artisan/entrepeneurs who are pursuing their dreams of making it big in a traditional industry they love.   They are the lowers and the dreamers – and we get to taste their dreams for a little bit.   Once again, the value of this box is in the curation – but also in the story it tells if we hear it.

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The box came with five items – though the lotion is supposed to be a bonus.  There were variations among all boxes.

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Stud Earrings by Whitley Designs ($55)

Different boxes had different variations of Whitley Designs stud earrings, either gold plated or sterling silver.  Some subscribers who specified they didn’t want earrings (but not all), got instead a very cute bracelet that says “dream a little dream” from Kitsch, a new company started by a woman who’s dreamed of and worked to being a designer her whole life.  I got the tiny silver earrings above.

I was quite happy. It’s a simple design, unassuming and yet not totally boring (despite the fact that’s how my 12-yo describe them).  My 10-yo wanted to steal them. I was planning to keep them on permanently, but they were uncomfortable to sleep with.

Whitley Designs is a company started by two sisters who kept their friendship going across the country by making jewelry together.  They are located in the Bay Area, and one is still working as a lawyer.

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Hot Fudge sauce by Beekman 1802, original flavor, 9 oz ($12)

This hot fudge is made with goat milk and all natural ingredients and it’s out of this world delicious.  They also make them in coffee, orange zest and Mexican (I imagine, cinnamon) varieties.  Other LLB subscribers got the orange zest one and reported it was very good.  I would have a hard time paying $12 for a jar of fudge sauce, so I’m glad I got it as part of this box – and I think I’ll make an effort to buy all natural fudge sauce in the future (it’s not like I buy a lot of it).  My daughter just asked me to buy a gallon of this fudge – so I need to go check if she absconded with this little jar.

Beekman 1802 is a mercantile store started by a couple (“the Beekman boys”) who came about an old farm in New York state, fell in love with it and decided to revive the business.  They now sell items produced by local artisans and farmers.

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Iridescent Shimmer Bling Bath Goat Milk Bath Salts by Beekman 1802, 20 oz ($15)

I wasn’t particularly thrilled by getting this item. Bath salts are one of the easiest DIY project ever.  It was particularly annoying to get them in lavender, which is not my favorite scent but one that I have often used to make bath salts and I have a lot of lavender growing around.  But I’m sure other people will enjoy them.

LLB assigned this product a retail price of $19, it’s actually selling for $15 at the Beekman 1802 website.

LLB also sent bath truffles in some boxes. These look very cute and were produced by CeeCeeandBee, an etsy store by a couple of sisters from San Diego. They were also in lavender (have I mentioned how easy it’s to grow lavender and how affordable its essential oil is?).

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Flat note cards by P. Press Paper, 8 cards ($12)

These are flat cards, with a candy strip design in the back and a red arrow in the front.  I don’t usually use stationary – I have lots and lots of it from years and decades ago -, but the girls from LLB inspired me to use them to write love notes to my husband. It’s been ages since I’ve done that – we’ve been married 22 years! – and I think it’s a lovely custom to restart.

I like the cards, though I wouldn’t say I absolutely love them.  But they are simple and sweet and a red arrow can convey a variety of messages.  What I don’t like is how prominent P. Press Paper’s logo is on the back. Not only is it tacky – taking away from the elegance of the card -, but it conveys a clear direction to the cards (making the arrow on the other side run vertically from left to right), which takes away flexibility in use.

The stationary is made by a new company started by an Alabama woman with a dream of designing simple, nostalgic stationary.

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Hula Bliss Goat Milk Lotion by Dancin’ Goat, 2 oz ($4.50)

This lotion was added as a bonus.  Its primary ingredient is goat milk and it’s made from mostly natural ingredients. The lotion is rather thick, though it absorbs quickly.  Unfortunately, I hate the smell,  It’s a combination of lavender, rosemary, and eucalyptus, though I mostly smell the latter.  Fortunately, the fragrance doesn’t stick to your skin for long.  I may  use mostly when I’m congested.

Dancin’ Goat was a started by a former massage therapist whose grandparents had a goat farm and who grew up making lotions.

My box had a $94 value.  That’s not bad for a $40 box (though I paid $30, as this was my first box).  I have decided to keep this subscription and see what they have in store for us in March.

I’ve created a new twitter account @mifrivolidad for tweeting the articles/reviews I add to this blog.  I’ve also added an instagram account.

We all need some frivolity in our lives, and my current one is subscription boxes.  These are boxes of (usually) mystery products that arrive in your mailbox monthly or quarterly. They are sort of an update on the “fruit of the month” clubs of yesteryear, and while they encompass almost all types of products, most of the most popular boxes are beauty/fashion or toy related.  What they do is combine the elements of gambling and surprise, and allow for some self-gifting at generally reasonable prices.  Giving a good value is not easy, however, and not all boxes succeed.  For every box that sends quality products, there is another that sells re-packed overpriced junk form China.

I’ve been giving many boxes a try, in particular those that have a good discount for their first box (if you do this, remember to cancel in time if you don’t want to be charged for future months), and finding the gems among the duds.  Here is what I think of the subscriptions so far, divided by subject and with cute emoticons:

Love it!  Like it   Just OK    Don’t like it     Avoid!

Box is on its way

ARTISAN

IMG_3066GlobeIn Artisan Box ($35/month – first box: $26)

This started as a box that sent out mostly products manufactured by artisans in the developing world, but lately it seems to be concentrating mostly on food items.  That’s less exciting for me, and it’s a fairly expensive subscription so I may just get those boxes that have stuff I really want (they tend to post spoilers before sending out the boxes). They have superb customer service.  Use code MSA for 25% off your first box.  Read my GlobeIn Artisan Box review

Out Of The Box Sampler ($27/month)

This is a box of handmade samples of items from artisans throughout the US. According to the site, these include “melts, scrubs, bath, body, tarts, candles, gourmet foods, jewelry, coupons, discounts and cards”.  You don’t subscribe to this box, but rather you have to order it monthly.  It goes on sale on the first Monday of the month and boxes sell out quickly (as in within 24 hours).

BEAUTY

These are boxes that send out “deluxe” (i.e. large) samples or full-size of makeup, nail polish or skin-care, hair-care or bath products.

IMG_20150218_111351 Allure Sample Society ($15/month – first box: $10)

Offers 5 samples. These are mostly mid-level brands, though I did get a drugstore dry shampoo (which I liked).  Unfortunately, the company that runs this box is quite dishonest. They ran out of one of the items guaranteed to be in the February box. Rather than substitute it for another one or do a full refund, they pretended they had forgotten to include it and only gave a partial refund worth much less than the item.  Read my Allure Sample Society review.

image4 Beauty Box Five ($12/month – first box: 25-50% off)

BBF offers five large samples or full size products. They are mostly drugstore brands, however, and the products seem to be sourced from overstock liquidators. You can often find the same stuff they include at the dollar store.  I got this subscription seduced by a BOGO offer – but the boxes are not worth even half the $12 price. Read my Beauty Box Five reviews.

IMG_20150218_153832Birchbox ($10/month)

This is the box that started the whole subscription box fad.  It includes 5 large samples of beauty products. They are mostly less well known, mid-priced brands. Many but not all their products are ingredient conscious. Birchbox allows you to accumulate points by reviewing products that you can then use to buy stuff from their online store, including gift subscriptions. I’ve been fairly happy with this subscription because it’s cheap, it allows me to discover new products I’d never buy otherwise, and they have great customer service. Use code JILLIAN for extra 100-points when subscribing.  Read my Birchbox reviews.

IMG_20150224_140145 French Box ($24/month – discontinued)

Frenchbox  is supposed to send 5 of “the latest products from France”.  Instead, it’s February box featured two expired products – including a serum made in China – which they apparently got from AliBaba.  The company that made the serum cautioned consumers to not use it.  After much, much criticism from clients, FrenchBox apologized and now promises to send two new products to make up for the expired ones.  I got my box after all this came about, so I refused delivery and I’m disputing the charges with my credit card.  At this point, and until French Box gets their act together, I’d stay far from this company.

Julep Maven ($25/month – first box: $3) is a nail polish + box.

Each month you get two nail polishes and another full size makeup item. You can customize your box, take the month’s box or skip a month. When you sign up you can get a welcome box for just $3 shipping by using this link and entering the code in the page.  Welcome boxes change from time to time, I signed up to get the  St. Patrick’s Day box . Cancel needs to be done by phone.

image1(1)Petit Vour ($15/month)

It sends four large samples of natural/vegan products a month, often from small producers. I tried it for one month and really liked one of the products, liked another and had no use for the other two.  I may try it again in the future. Read my Petit Vour review.

CLOTHING

FabKids ($30/month, first box: $15) for a chidren’s outfit size 2T to 12. Issue: too expensive/synthetic fabrics.

FabKids is an online subscription for children outfits.  For girls, outfits consist mostly of either of a t-shirt and pants or of a dress and tights.  You pay $30 a month and get to chose an outfit. You can skip any month.  The outfits are stylish and nicely cut but they are made of polyester (but heavy polyester). I think they’re too expensive at $30, but I’m a bargain shopper and my kids have lots of clothing from thrift stores.  FabKids usually offers 50% off the first outfit – and sometimes they’re even free. Keep an eye for offers. Cancelling took about 5 minutes in the phone.  Review coming.

CRAFTS

IMG_20150218_152545Darby Smart ($19/month – first box: $9) for a full craft kit

Darby Smart sends you all you need to do a craft every month.  I liked that the crafts they send are things that I haven’t done before.  I was really happy with my first box and decided to keep the subscription – but then I found out that other people got a different kit. I’m not sure why, but I really liked mine.  Use coupon HOWDYDARBY to get $10-off your first kit. Read my Darby Smart reviews

FOOD

As I live in the Bay Area, with access to many international markets, I’m not the perfect market for food boxes – be they of the snack or the gourmet product variety.  However, I am planning to check them out if they have a very good first box deal.

love-with-food Love with Food ($12/20/29/month for regular/deluxe/gluten-free boxes – first box: $2), mostly non-too-bad-for-you commercial snacks. Issue: Low value

Love with Food sends a variety of commercially packaged snacks (as opposed to bakery-produced), both from major and minor brands. They tend to send stuff without too many bad things in them.  The company advertises heavily and is quite popular, but their boxes are quite a bad value ($7 worth of snacks for $12). This box may be a particularly good alternative to people who don’t have many options at the grocery store.  You can get your first regular box for just $2 shipping and they have groupons for the large box for $9 (+$2 shipping). Read my Love with Food review.

OrangeGlad ($22/month – first box: $7) for baked treats from independent bakeries

While this subscription seems expensive, I couldn’t resist the introductory offer of one box for $15 off, use promo code FIRST15.  BTW, please use my referral code if you subscribe, so I can get a credit (and maybe order another box): margaritaog33783

GEEK

These are boxes that mostly come with t-shirts, comic books and collectibles from movies, comic-books and games popular with the geeky crowd.

Horror Block ($30/month, first box: $25)

I subscribed to this because the February box is supposed to be a Zombie theme an my 10-yo loves the Living Dead. Use code HORROR2015 for $5 off

IMG_2080Loot Crate ($20/month – first box $17)

Loot Crate is probably the most popular of the Geek boxes, and I have to admit that it is a pretty good box with pretty good value. They give you tons of geeky stuff, if that’s what you are into.  I got my husband a box with a Groupon, but it wasn’t really his thing so we unsubscribed. My 10-yo, however, liked most of the stuff. Use code APRILLOOT to save $3. Read my Loot Crate reviews.

JEWELRY

ccneck Cate & Chloe ($40/month – first box $19) for 2 pieces of jewelry

C&C offers mostly delicate, classic jewelry, with lots of cubic zirconia.  The pieces look nice and they seem well made (then again, they are rather simple), but they are silver/gold plated at best which is outrageous given the prices.  You can find similar looking pieces at Ali Express for just a few dollars.    First box 30% off with promo code CCINSIDER813. Read my Cate & Chloe review.

IMG_20150218_111912(1)  Wantable Accessories ($36/month) for 3 – 4 pieces of jewelry. Issue: expensive

Wantable has 3 boxes: intimates, makeup and accessories. I got the latter using a 30% off discount no longer current (but wait until another one comes up before subscribing).   I’m on the fence on this subscription. I liked two of the items I got, hated the other two.  I was OK with the box for $28, would have felt ripped off if I’d paid $36. Read my Wantable Accessories review.

 LIFESTYLE

candleFabFitFun ($50/quarter – first box $40)

This is a quarterly subscription that includes fashion, beauty products and other things.   I actually bought my box at 50% off, because the winter box did not sell well at all.  That’s not too surprising as it didn’t have many exciting items, but it was great value at $28 (Californians have to pay tax).  I’m waiting to see what’s in the next box before subscribing again. Note that cancelling this box was a pain, and that they warn you and threaten you that you won’t be able to use the discounts again.  Use promo code TENOFF for $10 off your first box.  Read my FabFitFun review

Kloverbox ($25/month – first box $22.50), natural/organic beauty & cleaning products

Use code February 10 for 10% off

llb2 Little Lace Box ($40/month – first box $30, subscriptions re-open in April), theme curated

This is a niche box of extensively curated items around a subject. In the past, it has been filled with interesting selection and has been a great value.  They weren’t quite able to create their vision for the February box, which was my first, but I was still happy enough with it. I’m sticking with them for the time being.  Alas, they’re not accepting new subscriptions for now.  Read my Little Lace Box reviews.

popsugbeaniePopsugar Must Have ($40/month – first box $35)

This is one of the most popular lifestyle subscriptions. It includes a variety of home, beauty, fashion and wellness items curated around a theme.  I got the January box when it went on sale at 50% off, but you can’t trust that will happen with all boxes. The February box sold out before it was mailed out (I cancelled before getting it), but I wasn’t that in love with it.  Use promo CHEER to get $5 off your first box.  Read my Popsugar Must Have Review

PERIOD

These boxes usually include your choice of brand of tampons/pads, treats and a gift.

TOM Box ($16/month - first box $8)

TOM Box is directed to teens/tweens. It includes a box of tampons or pads, makeup and cheap jewelry.  I’m not convinced of the value of this type of box, but I figured at $8 it’s worth trying.

TWEEN/TEEN

Black Box ($20/$40) a month for a box of make up, jewelry and accessories

This is actually a Goth box rather than a teen box, but it is perfect for my 12-year old girl. The regular box comes with black nail polish, makeup (she got a nice palette of eyeshadow on natural tones), hand-made jewelry (lots of charms) and a couple of other things.  I wasn’t able to review her box because she absconded with it immediately – but she was happy and looking forward to the next one.  The $40 box has more stuff and comes in a coffin shaped box.  This subscription box is run by an artist/crafter who makes a lot of the stuff.

IBbeautiful ($20/$30) a month for girl, tween or teen boxes.

I got this subscription for my 10-year old, but was disappointed that most of the items were dollar store stuff with little appeal.  The one item she liked, a lip gloss, was made in China (yuck!).  I’m still searching for a good tween box.  Read my iBbeautiful tween box review

 PoshPak ($35/month) for girl, tween or teen boxes.

This is a rather expensive box so I’m hoping to be wowed.

BOXES I WANT TO TRY

Some of these I want to try regardless, but for the ones marked with an *, I’d first want to have a good promo.

* Blueberry cove beads $27
Boxy Charm $21/month
* Buddhi box $50/quarterly
Causebox $55/quarterly
*Glossybox $21/month
* Goodebox $19/month
* Olfactif $18/month
Out of the Box Sampler, buy first monday of the month, $27 (etsy samples)
* Trendy Box $35/month
* Vegan Cuts Beauty $20/month

Do you subscribe to any of these boxes and want me to use your referral code? Is there another box you would suggest? Please let me know!

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Darby Smart: $19 month/craft kit
Promo: WELCOME24 for $10 off

If you know me, you know I’m not a crafty person. I wasn’t even crafty when I was a kid, arts and crafts were always my worst subjects.  But I enjoy doing crafts with my kids – at least once in a while.  I really wasn’t thinking of subscribing to a crafts box, however, until I ran into a review of Darby Smart’s January 2015 box.   That box came with a rubber stamp making kit which I thought was fabulous.  I took a look at Darby Smart’s website and saw that they sell high-quality and very interesting do it yourself kits – not the sort of thing the girls and I have tried yet.  I figured I’d give it a try – and boy, am I glad we did.

Today I got my first kit: it was a Lumi Sunfold Printing kit ($35 value) and a white rayon scarf to print on ($6 value).  This is a great value for a box that is $19 a month (though you can approximate the value yourself by buying the printing kit at Joann with a 40% off coupon for $18, though you’d still need to get a scarf to die).  In any case, I would never have thought of getting this kit on my own.

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The kit itself includes 2 8oz bottles of ink (blue and red), which you dilute in water, an 8 oz bottle of fabric wash and a pair of gloves.   The dying process is fairly easy: you dilute the ink in water (how much water you use determines how bright the colors are), soak your garment in it, then fold it however you want.  The areas that are exposed to the sun will develop and the areas that are kept dark, will stay white.  After 10 to 30 minutes – depending on how sunny the day is – you wash the garment and voila!  This sounds like the sort of thing Camila and I could handle.

Update: And it was!  Today we spent an hour or so dying the scarf, an old white t-shirt and about eight white cotton handkerchiefs.  It was fun to do and not as messy as you could have imagined.  Of course, our folding wasn’t particularly professional – but Camila had fun trying to copy the patterns shown on the brochure.   We used about half the dye – I’ll have to get more white fabric to use the rest.

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You can also use stencils with this kit.  Just be careful when you do your folding.  And note that if you are using very thin fabric (like handkerchiefs), they are sort of translucent so the sun can filter through the top layer – you shouldn’t have that problem with thicker fabrics (like the rayon scarf or a t-shirt)

As much as I enjoyed this kit – I wonder if it was the best choice to send to customers in January.  I live in California, we are in the midst of a drought and we’re enjoying beautiful sunny weather – but the same cannot be said for much of the country.  Perhaps this would have been a better kit to send in April or May.

Update: I found out that I was sent this kit because I was a new subscriber. Regular subscribers got a different kit.  This one was originally sent out in September 2014 – a much more appropriate time of the year.  They say they send new subscribers past favorite boxes – and maybe it’s that, or maybe they’re trying to get rid of overstock.  In any case, I don’t mind as I subscribed based on past boxes.

Darby Smart also included a little “gift”, cupcake toppers.  I guess we’ll just have to make cupcakes.

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In all, I’m very happy with this subscription and I’m planning to keep it.

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Birchbox: $10 monthly/beauty samples
Promo: use JILLIAN for 100-points when you sign up (equals to $10 to spend on their shop).

I used the points that I got by subscribing to Birchbox back in December to buy myself a 3-month subscription to the box.  I had to add some extra money, but I had enjoyed my first two Birchbox boxes and I figured that three more would make me happy.  I’m not so sure any more.  This box was an utter disappointment to me, I don’t think it has one item that I’m likely to get much used of.

The total value of the box is $13.50 (the lowest yet), but the value to me is more like $1 (and that only because I can use the little boxes to keep stuff in).

This is what I got:

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IMG_20150218_111351Allure Sample Society: $15 monthly/ beauty products.
Promo: 5foryou for $5 off your first month

The Allure Sample Society box is put sold by BeautyBar.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com.  It’d be a great box if you could get everything it promises.  However, my box came without the most expensive item they had guaranteed would be in the box – the StriVectin intensive illuminating serum ($22 for the sample) – and BeautyBar.com then refused to either substitute it or do a full refund on the box.  As if that wasn’t enough, it double billed many of its customers (I haven’t gotten my credit card bill yet, so I’m not sure if I was among them).  For these reasons, I unsubscribed from the box and would not do business with them again. I have written to Allure about this – after all, this box is branded with their name -, and will update with any response.

It’s a pity that BeautyBar.com has such terrible customer service practices, because I rather enjoyed the box.  Had it included the serum, it would have been my favorite subscription box so far.   This is what it did include:

IMG_20150218_112556nügg face masks, 3 single-use masks, $9

The box included 3 single-use packages of nügg gel face masks. There is a cucumber extract & jojoba oil deep cleansing mask, a camellia seed oil hydrating mask and a flaxseed & peppermint oil revitalizing mask.   The mask is a thick, viscous gel that you apply, leave on for 5-10 minutes and then wash off.  There is plenty of product in each individual tub to apply on your face, neck and chest area – or to share with someone else.  I tried out the hydrating mask tonight.   The application was easy enough, though I applied a thick layer so it took a while to wash it off.  I expected it to feel more refreshing than it did, but it was only slightly tingling while drying on my face. It didn’t have a particularly strong fragrance, which was good because it didn’t smell particularly great either. For that reason alone, I prefer the juice beauty mask I got on my FabFitFun winter box. It left my skin feeling soft and smooth, though not more than other masks.

IMG_20150218_111447Chloé Love Story perfume, 1.2 ml atomizer sample, $1.50

I love getting perfume samples, and I really liked Chloé Love Story.  I smell the floral, and it’s light and feminine, but I don’t quite get the citrus.    Unfortunately, I can’t smell this perfume on me after a few minutes, so I probably won’t rush to buy it, but it’s definitely a nice, fresh, springy, non-challenging scent that I’m glad I received.

IMG_20150218_112534Batiste Dry Shampoo, in Blush, 1.6 oz $1.75

I’d heard of dry shampoos before, but I hadn’t tried them.  Batiste was not a miracle worker, but it did do a good job of absorbing oil from my dirty hair and making it look and feel cleaner.  This is a product that is well worth keeping around for when you don’t have time for a shower but need to revitalize your hair.  I’ll probably buy a full size version of this to keep for emergencies.

IMG_20150218_111433Nails Inc. polish in Princess palace, full size, $9.50

This is a light bluish/purplish pastel color.  At first I found it dull and boring – but then I realized that I’m 45 and “old and boring” might as well be my nickname.    I like that it was fairly easy to apply – which to me is important, because I have a hard time painting within the lines.  They look pretty well without a top coat as well, though apparently it looks better with a matte topcoat.  It dried fairly quickly.

 

If you have young kids, FabKids is having a wonderful deal: you can get an outfit (dress/shirt + tights/pants) for $5.  Outfits are usually $30, but they have a special 50% off if you sign up using this link below plus a $10 welcome credit.  They also have a BOGO offer, so you can get two outfits for $20 – which is what I did, before realizing the credit could be used for just one outfit.

The CATCH is that this is a monthly subscription service, so you’ll need to cancel your account if you don’t want to keep getting charged $30 a month.  And cancelling has to be done by phone, which is likely to not be a pleasant experience.

The second catch is that they don’t seem to have many things available right now in XL (10-12) sizes.  But if your kids are younger, you can probably score something cute. Camila loved the stargazer dress, but they didn’t have it in her size. The clothing is supposed to be a good quality.

 

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