Happy Mommy Box Review- January 2014

happy8

Happy Mommy Box came yesterday in the mail, and I was so excited to get my second one, having really liked a lot of the stuff in the first one. This one had a lot of great items in it, including some super cuter jewelry. There were a couple issues, too, but I am chalking that up to them still being a new box company. Here are the goods:

happy6

I was excited to see the containers and couldn’t wait to check out the indie jewelry. Happy Mommy Box is a fairly new monthly subscription box geared towards cool stuff to make moms happy. They always try to include a little item for the kids, too, like a snack or toy, but it is mostly about a little spoiling for mom, which I am all about. Happy Mommy Box is $29 per month, plus an initial sign-up fee of another $29. (making your first box $58 and then $29 thereafter) Here are the details:

happy7

Happy Mommy Box always includes a little hanging-up worthy quote. I thought this one was sweet, and I am going to pass it on to a certain friend who would like this one very much.

happy2 happy1

Pop-it airtight containers: ($15) As far as I’m concerned, it would take a lot of portable, lidded containers before we ever had enough. I have great sets of OXO stuff that I used to use when I made baby purees all the time, but those are actually getting kind of small for bigger kid portions. These are awesome. Airtight, microwave and dishwasher safe, great sizes and great for storing. They get awesome reviews on amazon, too.

Pirate’s Booty: ($0.75) Pirate’s Booty is basically a staple around here, so an extra never hurts. We don’t give our son this everyday, but it is his favorite, and it is simply organic puffed corn and cheese, not the most healthy thing in the world, but not candy and Chee-tos either. We definitely never take a day-trip or airplane ride without Pirate’s Booty.

happy5

Chobani magnet and coupons- So, I did not assign a value to this because, while I was SO excited for free yogurt coupons, especially for something we love and buy, these coupons are EXPIRED. They have a date of 12/31/13, and guess what, it is 2014.  It’s weird how disappointed I felt about this. Obviously, it is not the end of the world, or even a big deal, but it is just an attention to detail thing that I found kind of lame. The magnet is cool, as it gives all the conversions to use when using Chobani to replace things like oil, sour cream, mayo, etc in recipes. It is on the fridge, and we will use it, but the expired coupons are annoying.

happy4

Mug from CrystalFaye.com: ($18) Ok, so at first I thought this mug was a promo item since it has the website printed on it so prominently, but they do sell these on their site for $18. It is cute, but not totally my thing, plus, if I am going to pay $18 for a mug, I think that it should just have the cute saying on it and not be an advertisement. Am I missing something? Is CrystalFaye.com such a cool thing that it is cool to have it on the mug? I have been super unaware of cool stuff like that before, so benefit of the doubt and all. I will pass it on to my friend from Georgia, who will like the cute, peachy design.

happy3

Love both of these cute jewelry items!

The Poppy Chain hammered brass stud earrings: ($7) These are so cute and versatile. I love little studs like this, especially for just running errands, you know, those times when you are probably going to wear yoga pants and tennies but still want to look a little girly and like you put some effort in.  Wait, am I the only one who does this?  I also love earrings like this for when I am wearing a big statement necklace. This shop has tons of cute stuff, too.  Yay for discovering new etsy artists, something Happy Mommy Box is really big on.

Jilly Bean Jewelry necklace: ($9.99) This is a cute printed necklace that says inspire on it from another indie jewelry maker. I love the gold, and the matted gold chain is cute, too, and is long enough that it can be worn over a collar as is the trend right now.

All told, the January Happy Mommy Box had a value of about $55 for the $29 price tag. I was pretty annoyed by getting expired coupons, but the cute jewelry makes me happy, and I love the containers. I am going to give this box another month, since I know they are still starting out and I like the concept. They do promise to send their monthly magazine in each box, and that was not here. Not sure if it was just forgotten or if there wasn’t one this month. Looking forward to seeing what these ladies can bring.

FabFitFun VIP Review for Fourth Quarter

fff1

So, I added FabFitFun VIP Box to my collection because I wanted a couple quarterly boxes, and they had a great Black Friday deal that made me want to test it out. I got the fourth quarter box today and could not wait to review it. This might be one of my favorites that I have gotten so far! This is definitely staying in the rotation, and I will have to decide what to replace with it. The good news is that, since it is quarterly, it is less spendy than some of the others at $49 per quarter. FabFitFun is a quarterly box curated by Guiliana Rancic and caters towards active women. Here are the goods:

fff9

This is such a fun box, and I loved how the stuff inside was a mix of beauty, fitness and fashion, and how so many of the items were meant to be inspiring. I am at such a crossroads in my life, and I need some inspiration. This box delivers. Here are the details:

fff7

The Giving Key Never Ending Necklace: ($55) I cannot say how much I love this! It is my favorite item in the box, and I want to get them for everyone I care about. These necklaces are made out of old keys and each one is engraved with a word. Mine says STRENGTH (which I actually could use a little of right now). The thing about the necklace is that you are supposed to wear it until someone you care about needs it more. And then you pass it on, and then that person does the same thing. They also encourage you to add your story about why you passed it on to their website. This  company also employs people transitioning out of homelessness, which I think is so important. You know it’s a good box when an item actually makes you tear up a little bit.

Lorna Jane MoveNourishBelieve (MNB) Bracelet: ($30) This is another inspirational piece, a bright pink rubber bracelet with a charm that is meant to remind you to Move, Nourish and Believe each day. It is a reminder to be a part of a sisterhood of health and wellness. As someone who is on a quest to lose 30 pounds and needs a constant reminder to believe and move and nourish (and not to nourish with candy) I love this piece. The box also included a 20% coupon for Lorna Jane (which ended up getting pictured below with the gift cards)

fff8 fff2

NYX Eye Shadow Palette in La Dolce Vita: ($8) This is one of the beauty bargain bonus items that was included. I have gotten a bunch of NYX eye shadow palettes in boxes, and the shadow is really nice. These colors just won’t work for me; I can’t do blues and greys. So I will happily pass this one on or add to the Bag-o-Beauty.

Beauty for Real Lip Gloss in Turned On: ($22) This lipgloss is a great pink color that will probably work for just about anyone. But the hilarious thing is that you click the lid, and the whole thing lights up. Like a flashlight. It also has a little mirror on the bottle, so you can apply lipgloss in the dark when you are somewhere with no mirror. It’s like a James Bond gadget for the ladies. I tried to demo the light up feature in the photo, but it was hard in the daylight. I love this.

fff6

Simple Foaming Facial Cleanser: ($7.49) This is another bargain bonus item, but I like it. I use stuff like this in the shower all the time and could use an extra for my gym shower caddy. I typically use Aveeno in conjunction with whatever fancy exfoliator I’m into (still using the awesome one from the PopSugar Fall Luxury Box) but this one looks like a good one. Done and done.

Skyn Iceland Icelandic Relief Eye Cream: ($45) Every day when I look in the mirror, I remember that I need more eye cream in my life. This one is formulated to fight wrinkles, puffiness and dark circles, and I am the proud owner of all of those, so sign me up. It has great ingredients and includes cotton powder. I hadn’t heard of cotton powder as an ingredient before, but apparently, it is legit. This has no scent and the texture is really nice. I feel less puffy already.

fff4

TruEnergy Inspired Earbuds: ($39.99): These are very cool. I struggle with keeping earbuds in my ears when I work out, but I will give these a try. They also have a cool splitter option, so a friend can plug in to your headphones and listen to the same music or watch the same movie. I can’t wait to use these with my husband to watch a movie on a plane the next time we travel child-free. So like, sometime in 2030.

Bioxidea Miracle 24 Mask: ($19) This mask says it reduces signs of aging and smooths skin with visible results that last for 24 hours. The next time I have to look super hot, I will use this the night before. In the meantime, I’d better do some sit-ups.

fff3

MeUndies.com gift card: ($20) This will get you a free pair of underwear from MeUndies.com, shipping included. As soon as I showed this to my husband, he got excited because Esquire magazine rated the men’s underwear from MeUndies as the best ever. So of course, as the dutiful wife that I am, I used this card to order him a pair of boxer-briefs. No shipping, no handling, this card equals a free pair of drawers, your choice.

Physique 57 Classes: ($25): This coupon is good for five online workout downloads. I have never really used my computer for workouts, but these look pretty awesome, and I am going to give it a try.

All told, this box had a value of over $225 for the $49 dollar price tag. I am in love with this box and cannot wait until next quarter. FabFitFun is totally up my alley, and is one of my favorite boxes I have ever received.  Seriously, this box rocks.

Mommy Mondays: Black Felt-Tip Pen

paper source

Photo courtesy of papersource.com

Because I am a writer by trade and by brain, I have chosen Monday as the day that I will take a short break from reviewing subscription boxes and talking parties and stuff to write a bit about life as a mom, toddlerhood, family stuff, life stuff, basically anything I feel like doing a little babbling about. If you just want box reviews, feel free to keep scrolling, they are down there!

For as long as I can remember, my dad has always sent hundreds of Christmas cards. Every single year. This year, he and my stepmom combined will send 700.  You read that right. Seven zero zero.  These aren’t the kind of cards we are all now used to. The pre-printed ones that are made by companies far away with the main effort on the part of the sender being uploading some digital photos and a cute note. And possibly, if you didn’t opt for the address automation, then you might spend an evening drinking wine and writing a hundred or so addresses with your husband after the baby is asleep. Almost like a date night. I am so familiar with this process because that is how I have done my cards for the past few years. I still do a little writing, but I do it in the online form, and everyone receives the same message of hope and cheer right next to a photo of Mike and I snorkeling in Thailand or clutching a squirming newborn. But that is not how my dad does it.

He starts his “card project”, as he often refers to it, in late October, though I am pretty sure he is thinking about it in August. Or July. Or always. In the past, he has taken his own family photo or enlisted a friend to do so, a front yard attempt at getting everyone to smile and have a good attitude at the same time. Or if there happened to be a big family gathering that year, like a wedding or something where everyone was in the same room, then that is a jackpot to him. Photoshoot done. However, like most mixed families, we are in a couple of states, and unlike most families, we siblings are not close, and so it is rare to find the entire gang together. So my dad adopted the policy of letting us each submit a picture of our respective families. He then takes those photos to a camera shop, where they charge him way too much to meld all of the photos together into a single collage with mini captions under each shot. This is something that I could do for him on my Mac in about eight minutes for free, but he likes to do it his way. He then uses some sort of adhesive to attach the photo to the inside panel of a traditional Christmas card. On the back he also does some adhering, this time with his selected bible verse of the year.

What he does next is baffling.  He writes individual messages inside each one. A message to each family with personal anecdotes and congratulations on that year’s happy happenings. Meaningful condolences to those who have lost loved ones. Genuine concerns about health and wellness.

He does this seven hundred times.  In pen. Black felt-tip pen.

When we were younger, it was part of our job to help him. We would all be required to pen a few hundred addresses and stick a bunch of stamps while he toiled away on his personal messages, and those days have become some of my fondest Christmas memories. The holiday music playing, quiet, quality time with my dad, who during the week was a dedicated career man, and a feeling of warmth and happiness that can only come from knowing that you are about to send a big pile of love out into the world, care of the United States Postal Service.

My sisters and I joked over the years about how my dad sends a card to the entire population of my hometown, in addition to hitting all fifty states at least twice each.  When I was 20, dutifully helping my dad fill in envelopes, I wrote what was probably my hundredth address in my nicest penmanship only to look down in shock at what I’d done. “Dad! Why are you sending a card to my gynecologist?!?” I held up the card accusingly, ready to tear it into pieces.

My dad, used to the the drama that comes with having three daughters, looked up calmly to read the address. “Oh,” he said, “His wife used to work for me”

Not missing a beat, my older sister deadpanned, “He probably won’t recognize your face anyway”

Throughout the year, my dad is the meticulous keeper of an address book, now online, but just as important. I finally helped him input all of his addresses into his computer and taught him how to update it a couple years ago. It prints out the address labels each year so that he can stick them on instead of writing them out, a marvel of modern technology that still thrills him.

I have explained to him several times that I could automate his process. I could add his bible verse and collage of photos to a card of his choice online. I could help him with captions and a nice note that would be appropriate for everyone. But he refuses. The last time I offered, he told me it would be great, but then he would just have to write a note to everyone explaining why he had sent them this newfangled type of card, so it would basically be the same amount of work. And what about his elderly friends who were alone, he wondered. Sometimes his note was the only one they would receive.  He needed to write it in pen. Black felt-tip pen.

And so, my dad, who at 76 is considered elderly himself, is currently, as we speak, most certainly holed up in “the craft room” with his stacks of cards and treasured pens and his stamps and photos and bible verses, armed with his system that no one else might ever be able to understand. That is where he sits for hours on end, for days at a time, writing sweet notes to everyone who has ever had the great luck to become his friend.

I sent about 200 cards this year, the generic, computer-generated kind with a photo of our son staring out at each recipient from the front and a heartfelt note to our friends and family on the back. It gives me abject pleasure to do this each year, and sitting down and writing out addresses, though my weapon of choice is a red, Ultra-Fine Point Sharpie, is by far my favorite part of the holidays. My other favorite part is receiving cards in return. It’s a great way to see photos and updates from everyone we care about, even those that time and distance keep us from really getting to catch up with anymore. It’s a window into the lives of friends from our past and present and a connection that I hold near and dear. Though the new cards are amazing, and there are so many cool things you can do with computers these days, my favorite card to receive is still my dad’s. Though I am not a religious person, his card with its stuck-on photo and bible verse is the one that makes me tear up because I know how much work and thought and love he put into mine and 699 others. That card is the one that gets hung front and center, because it is the one that is a piece of home, written in black felt-tip pen.

Mommy Mondays- Make Me Over, Someone!

im_with_frumpy3

Photo courtesy of Birds N Bees Tees

Because I am a writer by trade and by brain, I have chosen Monday as the day that I will take a short break from reviewing subscription boxes and talking parties and stuff to write a bit about life as a mom, toddlerhood, family stuff, life stuff, basically anything I feel like doing a little babbling about. If you just want box reviews, feel free to keep scrolling, they are down there! 

While I have never been as trendy and fashionable as my best friend, I have always had decent taste in clothing and shoes. I have had my share of cute haircuts and great makeup days, and have even been called a fashionista, but lately, I am in a giant rut. While part of it is being unemployed, I also have this feeling that I am losing touch. I had been trying out wearing just the tiniest bit of makeup, thinking I looked natural and fresh. Then my dad took a photo of me and about eight of my girlfriends on Thanksgiving. What appeared on Facebook mere hours later (my 76-year old father is a Facebook addict) was shocking. While most of my friends are sporty and not full-makeup girls, by comparison, I looked washed out and chubby and old.

I guess that is the other part of it. I have 30 pounds to lose, and I am struggling right now.  At 6’1″, 30 pounds is this weird amount because it doesn’t make me obese, and I still wear regular sizes. Instead, it is just enough to make me feel constantly crappy about myself without ever feeling like it is an emergency to fix it. And it is all about food. I am active, work out regularly, and for the most part am fairly fit. Fat-fit.  I keep committing myself, only to get sidetracked and worn out and fall into patterns of eating crap that I have no business touching. I know I’m not alone.

I guess part of me was just waiting until I lost 30 pounds to start really taking care of my appearance again. I leave the house most days be-ponytailed with yoga pants and running shoes to cover my big butt and big feet, respectively. I avoid my hairdryer, bite my nails occasionally and mistreat my skin. I am too old for that. 40 is not far away, and I need to get it together. So here is what I looked like right before I got pregnant, just over two years ago:

IMG_2995

And then, here is a photo I took of myself this morning.  Granted, I have a cold and and I am still in my pajamas, but I’ll be honest, the finished product does not look much different than this lately.

ccvmakeover

Frumpy-Mom-City! I need to get out of my rut, and while losing weight is a solid 60% of that battle, I need to figure the rest of me out, too. Without waiting for the weight loss to magically make me a supermodel. (that is what happens, right?)  I made a cut and color appointment for this week, have sworn off yoga pants and running shoes unless I am actually working out, and am getting back to a little more makeup in my life. And guess what, my blowdryer and I now have a daily appointment. Eat right, move more, and do the things to yourself that that make you feel good about yourself when you look in the mirror. My husband and son deserve to have the confident, happy me around, but honestly, so do I. For Christmas this year, I give myself the gift of de-frumping, de-chubbing, and becoming the cute mommy I am supposed to be. How would YOU make over this frumpy mommy? I’m in your hands.

Birchbox Review!

birchbox 2

I finally got my November 2013 Birchbox, my first, after being on the waiting list for a couple weeks. It came on Wednesday. It was a great little box, and I was excited to see it! Here are the goods:

birchbox 6

Birchbox is $10 a month and contains three to five sample and full-size beauty and lifestyle items. I got box number one for my first box, which is apparently pretty standard. I still need to check with my BFF to see what she got in hers. I gifted her a subscription for her birthday, and she got her box last week, too.  Here are the details:

birchbox 4

Beauty Protector Protect and Shampoo and Protect and Condition: (travel size samples, full size is $21.95 each) I am looking forward to trying these. I usually use volumizing shampoo and conditioner, but some protection is definitely in order for my chorine-ravaged hair, so these will go into my gym bag. They smell really great.

 

birchbox 7

Folle de Joie eau de parfum (sample) (full size is $98): I can usually take or leave perfume samples. While I am always game to try something for a day or two, I have worn the same fragrance for almost 20 years, and it is kind of part of my personality, so I don’t see switching any time in the near future. Still, I did try this, and it was nice and fresh and didn’t smell too flowery or sweet like I expected. I would be more apt to wear this in the summer than the winter.

birchbox 5

Chella Highlighter Pencil in Ivory Lace: ($18) This was the big item in the box and is full size. I am not totally sure about this one, but will give it a try. I have been going so minimal on makeup lately, but after I saw a few photos of myself next to my adorable friends at Thanksgiving, it made think I’d better step it up a little. I am no spring chicken, and could use some highlighting for sure.

birchbox 3

Ahmad Tea (samples of three flavors, full-size is 20 tea bags for $7): I like to get tea occasionally. Though I don’t drink it all the time, I go on tea kicks a couple times a year where I drink it all the time, and I definitely like trying new ones. Plus, I really could stand to give up some coffee.

This was a great box for my first Birchbox, and I am looking forward to the next one already. For $10, this was a great deal, and I am excited to try the new products.

 

This post contains referral links.

 

 

 

Mommy Mondays: Holiday Ho-Hum

Because I am a writer by trade and by brain, I have chosen Monday as the day that I will take a short break from reviewing subscription boxes and talking parties and stuff to write a bit about life as a mom, toddlerhood, family stuff, life stuff, basically anything I feel like doing a little babbling about. If you just want box reviews, feel free to keep scrolling, they are down there! 

joni_mitchell-both_sides_now

The iconic Joni Mitchell

It’s funny how poor timing can make even your favorite things feel off. With Thanksgiving so late in November this year, everyone is getting ready for Christmas early, not just the retailers. Friends are posting Christmas tree photos on Facebook, people are already sending cards, and the stores, of course, are completely decked out for Christmas while the few Thanksgiving and harvest decorations have been cast aside into clearance bins. Even the radio station that plays all holiday music and nothing but holiday music from Thanksgiving until Christmas every year has started early. That particular radio station, in fact, was what clued me in to my less than stellar mood. My husband, knowing my propensity to get giddy over holiday music, stealthily switched the station and turned it on this weekend. But instead of being excited about it, I felt suddenly accosted. I asked him to switch it back.

I am normally a total holiday nerd, donning a Santa hat, sending out 200 cards, and begging to put up the tree as soon after Thanksgiving as my poor husband can stand. I love the decor and the cooking and the smells, and I love the shopping and the giving and the parties. And I love the general feeling of happiness and cheer about the snow and the cold, because, after all, who does not dream of a white Christmas? But I wasn’t ready this year. I don’t know if it is the fact that every part of our lives still feels as if it is hanging in the balance or that I feel so useless as I am figuring out my career transition without anything completely definitive to grasp on to. Or maybe it isn’t me, and everyone else with their damn holiday cheer and red and green decorations up BEFORE Halloween are the crazy ones.  Although, to be honest, it is usually me.

I sat wondering what was wrong with me for awhile this morning. D is sick again, so I was sitting in the car in the parking lot of the pediatrician (where they told me he does not have bronchitis again, but I KNOW he does because I KNOW my boy, and if the timing is as it has been the last few times, it will get really bad right on Thanksgiving) D was snoozing in his car seat, and we were a few minutes early, so I sat drinking coffee, staring at my sweet, sleepy boy, and wondering what the hell my problem was. And what occurred to me was that I didn’t go through that stage this year where Fall arrives and I spend a few days crazily missing my mom like I have every other year. My mom was the champion of holiday love and traditions and her joy for Thanksgiving and Christmas was completely contagious. Each year as October closes, I always end up spending a few days in introspective moping, missing her, lamenting her short life, feeling cheated, and then eventually getting on with it and whipping my bad self into holiday shape. Cookies need baking, presents need wrapping, and the cards need to be meticulously written. But I guess with a toddler and our whole lives in tumultuous uproar, I somehow forgot to mope this year, and then it snuck up on me. I never got it out of my system. I heard Joni Mitchell sing River too early and I wasn’t ready, and before I knew it I was in tears driving down the road. I smelled the pine and cinnamon too soon, and it made me sad instead of giddy. I thought about going to cut down our tree and just felt like getting it over with instead of loading the car with snacks and mittens and happy dogs and enough holiday CDs to get us up the mountain pass and back without ever repeating a song.

Maybe now that I realize what was going on in my stimulus-riddled brain, I can try to find my normal holiday spirit and get on with it and find my happy place. I can let myself be a little sad and then whip myself into shape. I can remember the lady who was the the best at holidays and try to emulate her instead of whining about how my son will never experience Grandma done exactly right. There are fifteen people headed my way on Thursday, and I am expected, as always, to reprise my role as the queen of happy holidays and all things traditional. That gives me three days to get my shit together.

Thursday Thoughts Link-Up

TTGood-copy

So, I am linking up with Jen at Ramblings of a Suburban Mom for the very first time. I have been following her blog for a few months as I was starting my own, and it is a lot of fun to read, both for her box reviews and for everyday feel-good fun. She is also a Target bargain genius. So, here goes, my first Thursday Thoughts.

Speaking of big changes, I am also in a huge transition, having all but decided that I will try my hand at being a stay-at-home mom for a couple years. After getting laid off, the job market has been terrible for writers and I miss my boy. I am waiting to find out about one possible job the first week in December. If that does not pan out, then we are taking D out of school (we’ve kept him in thus far because they have an 18 month waiting list), and my life is going to totally change. I never thought of myself as a stay-at-home mom, but I am excited and, ok, kinda scared because I think it is way harder than going to the office. What the heck am I going to DO to entertain him all day? I’d better get crafty. But seriously, I got this.

I had dinner and drinks with my BFF last night to celebrate her birthday and promotion. I got her a Birchbox subscription for her birthday and she was also excited to get a gift bag of leftover subscription box schwag that I gave her just because. She is just one of the greatest people in the world, and we always have such a good time and awesome conversations. Wish we could spend more time together.

So, after I wrote about D’s first traumatic headwound on Mommy Mondays this week, he got ANOTHER one at school on Tuesday. Cut his lip up pretty good falling over a big tractor on the playground. Holy crap! I can’t take this. He looks like he was in a fight:

danny head

Mama, quit interrupting my terrorizing to take pictures!

And as soon as he came home with his second cut, he was at it again trying to climb up on top of a big box of diapers; I caught him just as he was about to fall, and he LAUGHED.  Seriously, how did I end up with a future X-Games competitor as a child? I blame his dad.

So when I started this blog, it was over at Blogger, which is where I used to have a writing blog a long time ago. I had been away from blogging for awhile, and what I found out is that Google kind of ruined Blogger. So I migrated to WordPress this week and am having fun learning it. So much better.

It is super snowy and icy here today, so Mike is working from home. I am finishing some freelance work and some schoolwork, then going to do some chores. What I want to do is snuggle up with a coffee and watch a movie, but duty calls. At least I have some candles going and, while my husband is on constant conference calls, it is nice to have company while we both work away.

I think I have some good boxes coming today, so look for reviews later!

Happy Thursday!  And thanks, Jen, this was fun!