Sparaj Box Review- January 2014


My second Sparaj box arrived today! This is a super interesting monthly box filled with products from all over Asia. This box is really different than other boxes in that I have almost never heard of any brands that they send and many of the actual products are kind of a mystery to me, as well. Sparaj is a new subscription company, and this is only about their fourth mailing. I had mixed feelings about the first box, but I liked this one a lot more. Since they do not auto-renew their subscriptions, I signed up for three months for $110. Or you can pay $40 per month.  The jury is still out for me whether I will renew after next month or not. Here are the goods:


A couple of cool things about Sparaj: the box always smells amazing and they always put all the gear in a cool branded bag. This month was a faux patent leather makeup bag that is a great size. Here are the details:


innisfree “It’s Real” Bija Mask: ($1.50) This is a sheet facial mask that promised to revive tired skin and give it a fresh glow. You wear this sheet mask for up to 20 minutes then remove and wash away. I am already planning on doing this next week while laying in bed with my Kindle while my husband is traveling.

Thaniya Organic Soy Wax Ceramic Candle: ($10?) I am estimating the price on this one because it is not on the site. It says this is an eight-hour candle, and the scent I got is either Jasmine or Frangipani. I can’t quite tell. It smells really nice, but I am not a floral person, so I will probably gift it. The ceramic is pretty, and is meant to be calming colors, and since the wax is organic soy, it burns at a low temperature and can be used as a massage oil when melted. The translation on the site is pretty amusing, but you get the gist.


KarmaKamet Herbal Inhaler: ($8?) I am guessing  at this price, too, as I cannot find this priced online. The KarmaKamet shop site is under construction as of now. The link I am providing is to another blog where she talks about the KarmaKamet store and the items she purchased there. That is really the only info I can find.  There are vague mentions of it here and there, but no prices and no real instructions. From what I understand, you just open the jar and inhale the scent through your nose to help relieve cold and flu symptoms.  I currently have cold symptoms, and I inhaled through my nose from the jar. I can’t say that I noticed anything life-changing, but it does smell healing, like eucalyptus and menthol. It is possible that I inhaled too tentatively. Am I doing this right? Does anyone know?

Thann Oriental Essence Aromatherapy Scrub: ($13.00)  This scrub is supposed to exfoliate and cleanse the skin, the way all good salt scrubs do. Sold. I typically use these scrubs more in the Spring and Summer, as my winter skin is so terrible that I hide it unless I am in the pool (which is another reason for my crappy skin) I may give this one a try early, though. It smells nice, and is a nice size. This brand is all over Amazon, and it looks like they have some really good stuff. I am excited to try it.


Sparaj bag. and…

KarmaKamet Aromatic Notebook: ($5?) So, at first I thought this was kind of strange, but it really grew on me. This is a little notebook with blank pages, but in the back is a little pocket that holds a scent sachet so that all the pages smell nice. I like the idea of giving someone a little note or writing down a memory only to find it years later and be able to remember the smell. I get kind of romantic notions like that every so often. This might have been my favorite item. Again, their site is still under construction, but the shop looks like a cool place to check out if you’re ever in Thailand. Wish I would have known about it when I was there a couple years ago.

The value of this box, although estimated, seems to be right around or slightly below the $40 per month price tag this month, although part of the draw of Sparaj is getting to try new products from Asia, so I don’t totally expect it to always be way over $40. This box is kind of a funny one for me. I like it, but I think the problem might just be that it is not quite “me”. In fact, I could see a couple of my more granola-esque yoga and massage therapist friends really liking it. They might be the recipients of some of the items, and I could see gifting this subscription to someone in that genre.  Still, I’m looking forward to seeing what my third month of Sparaj brings next month.

Sparaj Review December 2013

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Sparaj is a new subscription box, and December was its third box, though the October box was still considered a pre-launch box. After seeing reviews of the pre-launch and November boxes, I was so excited. I received it yesterday, and there are good and not-so-good things about the box. I know they are still working out kinks with their process, and I have a 3-month subscription, so we shall see how it goes. Here are the goods:


The packaging for this box is awesome, and I love the passport-style stamps on the outside of the box. Sparaj is a spa-inspired monthly box featuring products from all around Asia. It is $40 per month and does not auto-renew, but you can get discounted three- and six-month options. I opted for a three-month plan for $110, putting my box price at $37. The three month option is now $115.  Here are the details:


Soapbox soap in Scent of Bangkok: (200 Thai Baht, which equals about $6) This soap smells amazing, and I am excited to use it. After checking out the Soapbox website, I found that it is a very cool company that does a lot of good in the world. I like giving my money to companies like that.


Foot and Nature Peeling Foot Mask: ($19.40) So according to the instructions and Amazon reviews, you put these sheets on your feet, leave them on for an hour, then over the next ten days dead skin and calluses just start falling off your feet until they are soft and beautiful. This is a Korean product, and frankly, I am a little nervous about it. I have a lot of running calluses that I actually wish to keep and always ask a pedicurist to avoid. I know that sounds gross, but I would rather have calluses than blisters. I will probably add this to the Bag-o-Beauty or as part of a gift.

Paraffin Nutrition Nail Pack: (1000 Korean Won, which is equal to about $1) These supposedly do great things for your nails and cuticles. There are ten in the pack of different sizes for each of your fingers, and you put them on and leave them for awhile while the oil soaks in. I will look forward to giving these a try, as will my ravaged cuticles.


Candy Shop Diffuser by Botanique: (940 Thai Baht, which is about $29) The lollipop design might be a little too cutesy for my taste, but I love the smell. Maybe I will find a home for it where it can be smelled and not seen.


One of the things I like about Sparaj is that everything always comes in a tote bag of some kind, and for December it was a red drawstring bag that I will definitely get use of, if only for groceries or lunches.

So, the good things about Sparaj for my first box are that everything smells really nice, and the value is definitely appropriate based on the retail prices. For the $37 price tag, the box had about $56 worth of products, plus the tote. The not-so-good things to me: I didn’t see a lot of variety  in this box. It was all nice, but felt a little ho hum to me, and I think that was because in their first two boxes, there was already a diffuser and a bar soap. It seems weird that they would already be repeating items when they are only in their third month. That being said, I am signed up for three months and am looking forward to what the next two months bring from this new company. Sparaj is already sold out for December and January, but is taking orders for February.

Birchbox Snow Day Review


 So, I was a little late to the game ordering the Birchbox Snow Day special edition box, but I just couldn’t resist all the cute stuff that will make such great gifts. For me and for others. This box was $39, and since I am not getting my Sparaj until December, it fit into the budget in that spot. Perfect.  Here are the goods:


The Birchbox Snow Day box came packaged in adorable snow-patterned box and was filled with the most cozy array of spoil-yourself, stay-inside gear. I seriously wanted to climb inside this box, it was just so cozy to open.  Here are the details:


Askinosie Chocolate Single Origin Cocoa Powder: We are big Askinosie chocolate lovers around here, and I pick up the bars on a regular basis at our neighborhood gourmet shop. I bet this hot chocolate is legit!

Three Tarts Gourmet Marshmallows in Cinnamon: Yes, these will go perfectly with the hot chocolate. I think I will save both of these items to make for me and my husband on Christmas Eve night while we are Santa-ing for D. Mike is a hot chocolate freak, and the marshmallows might just send him over the edge. Maybe we’ll even throw a little booze in there. You never know with us; we’re kinda wild like that.

Jonathan Adler Fireplace Matches: So these are going to get used soon. The packaging is gorgeous, and I love long matches anyway, but we have a fireplace that is 100 years old and in questionable service, so we don’t really use it. What I do instead is fill it with candles (I get the inexpensive six-packs from IKEA) and we light them for special occasions, including the special occasion that we both happen to be sitting down with a glass of wine and the baby is sleeping. It gives the illusion of a fire in the fireplace without all the wood and mess. So, anyway, these matches are perfect for lighting all of the candles in one swoop instead of burning my fingers on a hot Bic lighter.  Also, not sure why I didn’t photograph the matches with the candle, but my odd methods are simply part of my charm.


(sorry for crappy photo…I’m getting better with my new too-fancy-for-me camera, but it is a process)

(MALIN+GOETZ) Votive in Cannabis: So, I was kind of wary about receiving a candle with a Cannabis scent, but honestly, it does not really smell like I thought it would. I would definitely consider this a manly scented candle, which are not my personal flavor to burn, but it still smells fresh and woody and clean. I think this one would make a nice gift.

Chantecaille Flower Infused Cleansing Milk and Jasmine and Lily Healing Mask: Man do I need a mask so bad. I sometimes look at my face in the mirror and am shocked to see my mother staring right back at me.  This mask promises to give my face a dose of pure calm. I wonder if they have a version for your whole life instead of just your face.  The Cleansing Milk will probably get tossed in my swim bag, as it is always nice to have something good to wash my face with instead of the “face wash” at the gym. I put it in quotes, because I am almost positive that the face wash and body wash are interchangeable in the giant dispensers in the gym showers. This would be a nice change for my tortured skin. No wonder I look 20 years older than I am sometimes.

L’OCCITANE Shea Butter Hand Cream: I have this and use it already (though Keihl’s is my go-to hand cream) and this deluxe sample size is perfect for my purse. My hands will be thankful.


Mox Botanicals Matcha and Clementine Body Soak: This smells really nice, and I love the packaging. This sample will most likely end up in the Bag-o-Beauty, simply because I do not take baths. It’s not that I don’t want to take baths, in fact I actually long for it sometimes, but then I remember that I am over six feet tall and that we live in a house with bathtubs that are not even remotely large enough for a tall person to take a bath. So, if we end up moving to California, I am searching for a house with one of those giant jacuzzi tubs, and then I will use this, if not, my friends can fight it out for it on our lake trip this summer.

S.W. Basics Organic Lip Balm: This lip balm feels great and has a very different, but nice smell.  I like it, and it will be part of my vast collection immediately.


These were my two favorite items in the box.

Happy Socks Combed Cotton Crew Socks: I love wearing funky socks like this with clogs in the winter. I am always wearing athletic socks, and I love to change it up a little bit with some cool ones. These are bright pink and burgandy tiger stripes. I feel cooler already.

Scrabble Birchbox Edition Mini Game: This is so cute. I love Scrabble, and how fun it is it to have this tiny little portable size. The board folds up small, and the letters are super small. Adorable. I don’t know how functional this board would be for like super-competitive Scrabble players, but just for messing around on a mountain trip? Definitely.

All told, the Birchbox Snow Day box had a great value, and I love almost everything in it. They also included really cute cards explaining how to have different kinds of Snow Days. Sold. this Colorado girl can most definitely get behind an awesome snow day.  This box is still available here.

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And the Finalists Are…

I have rounded out my final box selections for the next three months. I have ten boxes, which puts me slightly over my $200 per month budget, but hey, I’m close, so I’m counting it. I tried to vary my boxes into a few different categories so that there are lots of fun reviews. In addition, while I keep a few subscriptions going at all times, some of these are three-month subscriptions that I will switch to try something new down the road.  So here are the finalists:

Bespoke Post
Bespoke Post is a monthly box geared towards men. I have gotten one Bespoke box so far, and am looking forward to this month’s. Let’s just say, my husband is going to love all of the awesome stuff he gets from these boxes. They are perfect for the guy who like to be a little trendy without being a full-on hipster. I mean, seriously, ironic mustaches are really not that cool around the office, you know? Bespoke Post is $45 per month and you can get 25% off your first month with the code WINGMAN. the cool thing about Bespoke is that they send an email at the first of the month every time, letting you know what boxes are available and what is in them. Then you can choose whether or not to opt out for that month. While it may take out the element of surprise, it also ensures that you never pay for anything you don’t want. Seems like a deal to me!

Bike Loot
Bike Loot is just what the name implies, a monthly box of fun new stuff to try for cyclists. My husband is a die-hard cyclist, and so this is another one just for him. He is a lucky guy. Bike Loot is $10 per month, plus $3.95 shipping.

I have not received a Birchbox yet, but I am excited to try another $10 box, especially one that gets such great reviews. I should get my first one in December.

Birchbox Man
ANOTHER one for my husband. Seriously, how did he score all of this gear? Birchbox Man is $20 per month and is a monthly box of sample and full-sized products for men, including accessories. I think my husband will love the socks and trying the aftershaves and moisturizers.  And I will enjoy him smelling so nice. Although, he usually smells pretty nice anyway.

Citrus Lane
This one is for little D. (I swear, I get some stuff, too) My son is 19 months old, and so far, he has loved his gear from Citrus Lane, a monthly box with snacks, toys and other fun kid stuff. They specify their picks to your child’s sex and age and the items we have gotten are pretty cool. I let D have one or two of them, and then I stow some for the holidays, too. Citrus Lane is $24.95 per month.

I really love my ipsy envelope/box that I get each month. It is only $10, and there are always great sample and full size items in each little makeup bag, and the value always far exceeds the cost. As I mentioned last week, ipsy is how I discovered my favorite mascara EVER, It’s So Big, by Elizabeth Mott. Ipsy curates their bags based on a profile that you fill out, so not everyone gets the same things each month, but the items are catered to your skin type and other preferences.

NatureBox is another one that I will be getting for the first time this month. I am pretty excited about this monthly box of healthy snacks. This is something the whole family will be able to use, and it will make lunch packing and on-the-go days much easier. Nature Box Deluxe is $19.95 per month, and there are other sizes with more snack servings for those feeding a bigger group. They are always running a 50% off your first month offer which you can find on their Facebook page. The offer I used today was DAILYCANDY, which I grabbed from Retail Me Not

Pleasure Pantry
In keeping with the theme of having boxes from varying areas, I chose Pleasure Pantry to round out my ten boxes. Pleasure Pantry is an adult subscription box company that sends sex toys, lingerie and other bedroom related products to try each month. Pleasure Pantry is $29 per month, and I will get my first one in November. With a toddler running around and not much time to spice things up, I think this will be an exciting addition to my box collection, as well as to my marriage! Pleasure Pantry offers boxes for all types of couples, boy/girl, girl/girl, boy/boy, and a bridal box. This makes me even happier to support this company. Equal spicing up for everyone!

PopSugar Must Have Box
The PopSugar Must Have box was my first subscription box, and it is also my favorite. I also love their Limited Edition boxes that come out a few times a year. This is a box geared towards women with fashion, beauty, lifestyle, houseware, and food items. This box is my little slice of me-time each month, and I usually try (sometimes I can’t wait) to set it aside and wait for some alone time with some wine to crack this bad boy open. I LOVE PopSugar Must Have. The Must Have box is $39.95 per month, and the Limited Edition boxes are usually $100. They recently released a $250 splurge box where they teamed up with Neiman Marcus. It will be delivered this month, and I cannot wait.

The Sparaj subscription box has me totally intrigued, and I am very excited to receive my first one in December. Sparaj call themselves a “discovery service”which sounds pretty cool to me. They are a new subscription box company that focuses on natural spa-like products from a different area of the world each month. Their pre-launch box was a Thailand-themed box, and I was bummed to miss it. Thailand is one of my favorite places in the world. Sparaj is $40 per month, and they do not autorenew right now, so you must reorder each month or select a three or six month subscription

So that is the lot. I am looking forward to my new boxes and my usual boxes with gusto for the holidays. Not only does my $200…ok, closer to $250…per month cover all of my fun and shopping for the month, it also covers almost all of my holiday shopping and gifts. To me, that seems like a great deal. Can’t wait til the boxes start coming.

Oh, The Insanity

I took this photo when Mike and I were at a football game a couple weeks ago. I was peeing while I took it; I’m classy like that. It was written on the inside of the stall door at about peeing-level. It made me laugh so hard, because, honestly, this is a pretty permanent solution to a temporary problem, amirite?  It did make me look right away though, and yes, there was some TP. Phew.

Now on to more important things, most notably, how I am a slacker and have not reviewed anything yet.

I am not sure how things can seem so out-of-hand busy when I am not working AND the boy is still in school most of the time. Job hunting has been taking its toll on me, and I am still waiting to hear on one offer. (Cross your fingers.  Right now!)

I WILL start reviewing boxes here soon.  I lied on the boxes I said I was going to review last week, but I swear, I will start with November boxes and review with gusto. I’ll be looking at PopSugar, ipsy, Citrus Lane, Bespoke (maybe, if it looks like something good), and Bike Loot (my husband is going to get that one as a surprise, but not until after I open it and dissect it for review purposes). I will also purportedly be getting the PopSugar Neiman Marcus Box in November.  swoon.

The PopSugar Holiday Luxury Box goes on sale today, too, so I will have that to look forward to in December, as well as the start of Sparaj, which I am SUPER stoked about.  That box looks right up my alley.

So, yes, I guess I that this means I am more focused on the Soap Box portion of this blog until November, because, honestly, my ipsy and PopSugar boxes for October are already old news. (but I still love them!)  But until November reviews, you can just count on more babbling from me as I try to sort out what the hell I am doing with my life.

Happy Halloween to everyone tomorrow.  Mike and I dressed as the Blues Brothers and D was a policeman. We did it a couple weeks ago for Trunk or Treat at D’s school, but will probably dress up again tomorrow night for a trick-or-treating gathering at my best friend’s house. Having a kid makes these holidays so much more fun! Even when they refuse to wear their tiny police hats. 🙂

Stay warm everyone, and always make sure there is TP.

Tomorrow, a review of the Favorite Things Party I hosted at my house last weekend.  30 tipsy women bearing gifts.  It’s a must-see.