Bulu Box Review- January 2014

 bulu5So, I tried Bulu Box on a whim as a new one for January, mostly because of a deal they are still running. They are offering 50% off any subscription length with the code BULUGAN669, so I got a one-year subscription for $55, plus, they have a point system for doing reviews which allows you to get additional discounts if you order products, so, to me, it seemed like a great deal.  Less than $5 per box, plus lots of great discounts that can equal the price, practically a free box! Bulu Box offers a choice between the regular Bulu Box with health, wellness and nutrition samples, or their weight-loss box, which includes some of the same, but then adds some weight-loss specific items. I chose the weight-loss box. Here are the goods:

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The box had a lot of fun items in it, including healthy snacks, drinks and supplements. Here are the details:

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Tapaz 2 Go Snack: ($3)This is a to-go box with lentil crackers and hummus. It looks delicious, but I will probably throw it in my husband’s lunch one day instead of eating it myself. He is a hummus nut. These run about $18 for a 6-pack, so that is not cheap, but with Bulu points from reviewing products, I could see ordering these at a discount.

Body Glove Surge Energy gel pouch: ($2) This is something that I would throw in my pocket for a long run, and I am always up for trying natural energy supplements. I find the ones with all the chemicals to be frightening. When I saw the name Body Glove, I immediately thought of the surf clothes that I HAD to have when I was about 10 (here in Colorado, where, alas, there is no surfing) Everyone wore Body glove t-shirts back in the 80’s. And this is actually the same company. In addition to surf and outdoor gear, they have now branched out into all natural energy. That is some staying power, for sure.

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Body360 Nutritionals Burn 360: This is a fat-burning, metabolism helping supplement. I have to admit that this is not really my thing, and I probably won’t use it. I just don’t believe in anything that can help you burn fat unless that thing is getting your butt to the gym. I am kind of anti-pill when it comes to weight loss. I am more in the eat less, do more, no gimmick camp. This is an interesting supplement, though, for those so inclined, containing Acai. If you purchase the full-size version, it comes with a free download of a detox program.

HELPS Organic R and R tea: I like getting tea in my boxes, and right now I have a terrible cold, so I may just have this one before bed tonight. It says it contains lemon balm and passionflower to “ease you into a peaceful sleep” Just what I need.

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The Body Glove Surge snuck into another photo by mistake.

Smarty Pants All-in-One Adult Weight Management Gummy Vitamins: I am definitely a gummy vitamin person. I can never seem to force myself to take vitamins regularly unless they come in “candy” form. And so that is what I use. These look pretty legit, and I am going to try them for the next three days in place of my regular gummy vitamin. These contain fiber and Omega 3, something you don’t always get in a lot of the drugstore vitamins.

All told, Bulu Box had a great value for the $4.60 per box that I paid with my one-year subscription. In addition, there are a lot of cool supplements I want to try, and the points system they offer (similar to Birchbox) lets you accrue points quickly enough that it will take a big chunk out of the price of buying things through their shop. I am excited about what the next year of Bulu Box has to bring me.

This post contains referral links.

Conscious Box Review- December 2013

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So, after ten days of being inundated with a sick toddler (like violently sick), I am finally getting it together enough to catch up on some reviews. Sick babies come first, but I still have some stuff to tell you all about!  Conscious Box was running a free box offer, so I took advantage, just paying shipping for one box. This is a very cool box, especially for those who are looking for great natural and responsible products. Here are the goods:

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The packaging was gorgeous, and there were SO MANY items inside this fun little box. I just kept pulling them out. Here are the details:

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The Source Coffee: This is ethically-sourced coffee. The coffee included in the box was ground, and our machine grinds whole bean, but I am going to use this in our French press this weekend. I love coffee and have just recently been learning more about the ethics of where beans are sourced, so I thought this was a great inclusion. The coffee from this site is more expensive than what you would buy at the store or at Starbucks, but it is nice to know that your coffee is ethical.

Jiva Coffee Cubes: Ok, so I wanted to hoard these and keep them for myself, but my dad is a Folgers guy, and so whenever I find any decent instant coffee alternatives (such as Starubucks Via) I always give them to him.  Because seriously, Folgers…*shudder*.  Jiva Cubes are basically like bullion cubes, except they are coffee (they do hot chocolate, too!) with a little sugar in them.  I am going to order these for our next backpacking trip. You just drop them in boiling water, and you’re good to go! Love the idea. Love that they are fair trade. And LOVE that you can do them hot or cold. While I need my hot coffee during the freezing winter months, as soon as May or June hits, I am all about the iced coffee.  Love.

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Country Life Vitamins: The box included samples of the Stress Shield Nighttime Supplement and the Coenzyme B-Complex. I will admit that I am terrible about taking my vitamins. I know I should, and it is not that hard, but for some reason, I always stick to it for a few days, and then bail.  So, if anything, these served as a great reminder to take vitamins in 2014.  If you are a big vitamin person, Country Life is definitely a company to check out. They promise consistent product with clean, fresh ingredients. Some vitamin companies are a little questionable to me, but this one seems legit.

Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Jellies– This is a kids Omega-3 supplement, which is very important for little ones to get, especially if they are like my little one and subsist mostly on NutirGrain Waffles. My little guy is a few months shy of being old enough for gummy vitamins, so I might pass these on to a friend whose daughter is already two. These contain no artificial colors or preservatives and provide kids a great dose of Omega 3s for great brains and eyes.

Fruitsmax Supplement: This is a probiotic supplement that contains 21 fruit elements, as well as acidophilus to maintain good gut health. I am a big believer in probiotics, and love that these contain a lot of extra nutrients, too. These are in my purse for the days that I forget to take my regular probiotic. This is a really interesting new company that prides itself on merging nature, science and art. That sounds like something worth putting in your body.

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Last Round All-Natural Hangover Support: This is an all-natural supplement that you’re supposed to drink after a night of drinking before you go to bed that will supposedly prevent hangover symptoms. I suppose that my problem with this might be that if I have had enough to drink that I will probably have a big hangover, then I am probably not going to remember to take this supplement before bed. Maybe if I left a note on it on my nightstand. Well, the next time I drink that much I will try to remember, but still, a cool sample to try.

Biobag compostable sandwich bag: Love this idea. I hate using so many bags for all the lunches we pack, and knowing they’re compostable would ease some guilt. Sold.

Treesmart Pencil: These pencils are awesomely made out of recycled newspaper instead of trees. While I am strictly a pen girl, my handy husband is always up to some house or woodworking project that he uses a pencil for. He has already claimed this as his own.

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Assorted natural sweeteners from Wholesome Sweeteners: This was one of may favorite items in the box, a little box inside the box that contained a big variety of all-natural sweeteners. It included some sugar substitutes and lots of Agave sweeteners, and I going to put them in my cute little sugar packet container that I put out whenever I put out coffee and pastries. I love the variety and want to try a lot of these samples.

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Herbal Zap Immune Support: Make a tea with this packet to enjoy an immune supporting beverage with 14 Ayurvedic herbs. I will do this right now, as toddlers are the antidote to immunity.

Epic Xylitol Gum: This gum is said to kill bad mouth germs, prevent dry mouth, and taste great. I am not a big gum chewer, but every so often, I get the urge. I will try this this week when I have a couple papers to write.  Chewing gum while stuck at the computer helps me focus, and who doesn’t need a little extra dental health?

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Nature Nate’s Popped Sorghum snack: So, I really like this stuff. It is like tiny popcorn, and popcorn is my favorite food. The awesome thing is that is has even more protein than popcorn. The only drawback is that I like my popcorn like snacks warm, so now I have to figure out how to pop my own sorghum.  This is gluten free and full of fiber. Nice. I will totally be buying some of this.

Gnu Foods Fiber Love Bar: This is totally up my alley. I can never seem to get enough fiber in my diet, even with all the popcorn I eat, and so I usually have to tun to bars or supplements. I got the Chocolate Brownie flavor, and it was delicious, as well as being…ah…effective. Nice.  Gnu Foods offers a 30% discount at their site when you sign up for a monthly mailing of bars.

While I don’t break down the values for boxes of samples, this one was definitely worth the $4.95 I paid for just shipping when using the code FREEBOX. The regular price for Conscious box is $19.95 per month. I loved that there were lots of items in the box and I am excited to try some of the brands in full size, but I feel like $19.95 is a little bit too much for a box that is all sample sizes. I will look at the next few months of reviews to decide if I want to sign up for a subscription.

FabFitFun VIP Review for Fourth Quarter

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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:

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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:

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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- Make Me Over, Someone!

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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:

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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.

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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.

Nature Box Review

I was so excited to get our first Nature Box yesterday, although I was still recovering from the stomach flu, so my samples were tiny. Here’s what it looked like inside:

Nature Box is a monthly box of nutritious and fun snacks. I get the deluxe box, which has five different snacks, a few servings of each.  This month’s box also included a little sheet of Nature Box stickers, which my toddler son loved.  I stuck one on the front of his shirt, and he was very proud of it. Now on to the snacks.  We received:
Masa Chips: These were kind of similar to corn chips, but lighter and they have flax seeds in them. I liked these a lot. They were not too salty and not too “flax-seedy” I put some in D’s lunch today, and the Oxo came back almost empty, which never happens.
Pistachio Power Clusters: These reminded me of the cashew clusters my best friend obsessively buys at Costco, but a little lighter. These are delicious.  The serving size for these is three to four clusters, which was fine for post-stomach-flu snacking, but I would probably be hard pressed to only eat three on a normal day. Which is why this is also a weight-loss blog. Sigh.
Vanilla Macaroon Granola: This stuff is dangerously good, both the favorite for me and Mike, I think. It is sweet, but filling, so not as hard to stay within the recommended portion size of a half cup.
Cherry Berry Bonanza:  I am not a big dried fruit person, but Mike was all about this stuff.
Roasted Kettle Kernels: These were right up my alley. Similar to the Corn Nuts of my sordid, chubby youth, but lighter, and with a salty sweet combo. Really good. 
What I like about Nature Box is that the snacks feel kind of special, if that doesn’t sound too lame, so you aren’t likely to just grab the whole bag and chow down. I divvied little samples of each for Mike to try when he got home:
He liked all of them, and pretty soon the sample plates looked like this:
All in all, I would say Nature Box is a success for all three of us. Nature Box deluxe is $19.95 per month, and there are larger sizes, too.  Um, yum!
Update! Plum District is running a half-price coupon for Nature Box today; pay $20 for $40 worth of snacks. Check it out!

The Soap Boxes and Subscription Boxes Inaugural Post

Welcome to my new blog, where I will be reviewing subscription boxes along with discussing everyday things such as being a working mom, trying to get and stay in shape, my awesome family and friends, the occasional recipe or kitchen anecdote,  and the ridiculousness that tends to be my life on a fairly regular basis.  This week, I will be reviewing the PopSugar October 2013 Box, as well as a couple others that are headed my way, such as ipsy and Citrus Lane.

The way I approach my subscription box selections is that I allow myself $200 per month for monthly subscription boxes.  There are one or two that I almost always get, like PopSugar, because they are my favorites, and then I will switch out on some others, getting some for a couple or three months and then switching up to something new to try. If there are special edition boxes, such as the holiday box being released for sale by PopSugar and Neiman Marcus this week, (check the PopSugar site on 10/16; it will sell out quick!) I do not count those in my $200 per month budget, but I don’t always spring for the purchase either. It depends on if I’m feeling lucky.  Or rich!

About me…
I am a recently laid-off mother of a sweet 18 month old toddler boy, D, and the wife of an awesome guy, Mike, who is suspect of subscription boxes, yet approves of the abject pleasure they seem to give me, so allows the box obsession to continue. Both of these boys are the loves of my life.  I am currently in the throes of job hunting, so my life is in a bit of turmoil. I have been a professional writer for over 15 years and need this outlet to be writing about something fun whilst being out of the rat race.  But even when I get back into the rat race, I promise to regale you with my stories and reviews. And wine.  I just decided there will be wine here in some capacity. And wicked humor and posts about how I mess up at everything. (in no way related to the wine) Please join me.

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