vegan

Review: Graze Box December 2013

Today I have another Graze box to open up for you. Graze offers bi-weekly or monthly boxes full of nutritious and natural snacks for $6; you can choose from special options like gluten-free or vegan (my choice, obviously) and you can rate the snacks you like or dislike to streamline the offerings in your future boxes. If you’re interested in learning more you can visit their website.

This month’s box sadly had no chocolate (boo). The America’s Nut Mix, with almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans and redskin peanuts was just okay, but it didn’t seem like anything different than what you can buy at the regular grocery store.

The Pina Colada was a mix of pineapple, coconut and mango. It was a little chewy but tasted good.

My Thai was a tray of soy bites with a spicy sweet chili sauce. This was my favorite of the box and I would certainly love to have a full-sized portion to munch on during movie nights on the couch!

Finally I got a tray of Fruit & Seed Flapjacks, which are oat granola bars with seeds and dried fruits. These were soft and chewy and very tasty.

So that’s it for my December Graze box! Have you ever tried Graze? Any favorite snack or subscription boxes that you look forward to each month?

Product review: Steamcream

Disclosure: I was sent a product in exchange for a review. However I was not compensated for writing a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.

Hey beauties! Are you enjoying your winter? We got several inches of snow here yesterday and I’m loving it. If there’s one thing I don’t enjoy about winter, though, it’s the fact that colder temps and drier air turn my skin super-dry and sensitive, and my regular body and face lotions just don’t cut it anymore.

Hence, I was pretty excited when Katie from Steamcream contacted me to ask if I’d like to try a tin of their all-in-one moisturizer, suitable for use on face, body, hands and feet ($20/75ml). After a couple of weeks of testing, I’m finally ready to share my thoughts with you! Steamcream is vegan and natural and contains ingredients like almond oil to soothe and moisturize without piling on heavy synthetics that can actually do more harm than good. You can learn more about Steamcream’s ingredients and sourcing here

The Steamcream formula comes packaged in your choice of a variety of different beautiful tins. I opted for Thalia, with a pretty orange and white floral design, but if you browse their design gallery you’ll see they have nearly two hundred tins to choose from, meaning there’s something there for everyone! The metal tin is very sturdy but small enough to fit in your hand.

Steamcream has what I would describe as an earthy fragrance, due to the combination of almond oil, lavender, chamomile and neroli. It’s not terribly strong and doesn’t linger long, but if you prefer preppy or uber-fresh scents to what I like to call “hippie” scents, you might be disappointed with the fragrance. Just an FYI. Personally I love natural scents, but I’ve also gotten the side eye for saying I like patchouli, so to each their own. I like that the scent fades away quickly so you can add your own perfume or body spray without creating a competing mix of fragrances.

Surprisingly, the formula is very thin–I expected it to have the consistency of a body butter, but it’s thinner than even a facial lotion. Obviously if you’re used to piling on heavy moisturizers in the winter, such a thin consistency seems odd; it’s hard to imagine how Steamcream can moisturize so heavily when it feels like there’s nothing on your skin. However, when I tested out the cream on one side of my face and body versus a thicker face cream and body butter, I found that there was no noticeable difference in moisturization even after several hours. At the twelve-hour mark, the side with Steamcream actually felt like it was retaining moisture better without reapplication–no dry or itchy patches!

The really lovely thing about Steamcream is that it’s truly an all-in-one product: it moisturizes my dry legs and hands like a much thicker product, but it’s still lightweight enough to use on my face without triggering a breakout. Also, since it’s so light and non-greasy, it’s very good for layering under makeup. I think it would be great for someone who didn’t like using very thick products, or for someone who wanted to layer products without feeling that they were slathering a layer of buttercream frosting over their limbs.

If you’re looking for a new cream to add to your winter skincare routine I highly recommend heading over to the Steamcream website and browsing their tins–it’s a great way to treat yourself this holiday season!

Full ingredients: Oatmeal infusion, orange flower water, almond oil, cocoa butter, glycerine, stearic acid, triethanolamine, organic jojoba oil, lavender oil, chamomile blue oil, orange flower absolute, rose absolute, neroli oil, cetearyl alcohol, coumarin*, geraniol*, citronellol*, limonene*, linalool*, perfume, methylparaben, propylparaben. (*Occurs naturally in essential oils)

Disclosure: I was sent a product in exchange for a review. However I was not compensated for writing a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.
 

Product review: Immortal Herbs Immortal Sleep

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

Happy Saturday everyone! I hope you’re all having a great December, enjoying the holidays and the snow. (I love it.) Today I have another short product review for you–the Immortal Sleep deep sleep formula from Immortal Herbs. Vegan, gluten-free and GMO-free, this blend of Chinese herbs works to decrease anxiety and stress, help you relax, and promote a deeper, more restful sleep.

Like a lot of people, I’ve tried plenty of different “deep sleep” over the counter medicines over the years and I’ve never found one I really liked. Too much melatonin seems to make me have nightmares (not an uncommon side effect, I’m told) while the regular Tylenol PM type of sleeping pill just doesn’t do enough to help me fall asleep and stay asleep. When I do find something that lets me sleep through a full eight hours, I inevitably wake up groggy and feeling drugged.

Immortal Sleep is different. It worked well to help me relax and fall asleep, and I was able to stay asleep through the day. I’m a very light sleeper and once I’m awake, I have a lot of trouble falling back asleep, so being able to sleep through the day is kind of a big deal for me. And happily, once my alarm went off for work, I was able to get up and get going without any of the usual draggy incoherent after-effects of a sleeping pill.

Overall I really liked this, and while I still try to avoid taking supplements no an everyday basis, I would definitely take this if I was having trouble sleeping and needed something to ensure a good night’s rest!

Immortal Sleep can be purchased through the company website for $54.95 (90 capsule bottle), but it’s currently on sale for $34.95. You can find Immortal Sleep here.


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Unboxing/review: Conscious Box November 2013

Today I’m unboxing the November 2013 Vegan Conscious Box. Conscious Box is a monthly subscription box that costs $19.95 (includes shipping); there are no preview or skip windows in this subscription. Subscribers choose from a classic, gluten-free or vegan subscription and receive a box each month filled with ten to fifteen samples of natural beauty products, food, health items, and lifestyle extras. If you want to learn more about the box you can visit their website. I also recommend checking out the company’s Facebook page, as they often post offers for free or discounted first boxes (which was what prompted me to finally order one for myself!).

When you get your box, you can rate the products and share on social media to earn points; those points are then redeemable on the website toward full-size products, with the points working just like coins. A single review earns you ten points and in turn knocks ten cents off a purchase. Keep building up those points (they tally more quickly than you might think), and you can save on products like food, beauty essentials, household products and more. It’s a nice perk and I think the system of using points to knock down the purchase price is a better way to encourage reviews and feedback than a system where you have to have lots and lots of points to cover the full price of an item, since it will take a long time before you can redeem anything worthwhile.

Okay, on to the contents of the box!

First up we have two food items: a bag of YogaVive Chocolate Apple Chips ($4.49 per bag) and a three-pack sampler of Mighty Leaf teas ($7-$10 for a 15-bag box). The apple chips were just okay–nice and crispy, but it was hard to detect the chocolate flavor. These were a nice snack, but they aren’t something I’d run out to buy, especially for the price. I’m always happy to see tea samples as I do drink a lot of it, and while these are a little pricey for my usual drinking habits I would definitely consider buying them on sale.

The Rebootizer packet ($15 and up for a three-packet box) is supposed to be used as part of an allover week-long detox system, drinking one packet per day, so it’s kind of hard to say how well it works based on one packet/one day of use. I will say that the flavor was strange–like bitter apple cider, but “off” somehow–and while the pouch design is ingenious, it’s not very easy to pop open and shake up per the directions. That said it’s literally a shot glass of a drink so if you needed to detox and wanted to do it in the smallest portion possible, I could see this being a good way to do it.

The MRM Relax-All ($25 for 60 capsules) is a sample of a sleep aid. I’m not big on getting dietary supplements in subscription boxes because I just don’t use that many of them. I’m not big on unnecessary medication and in my long sad pursuit of something to give me a better night’s rest, I’ve found very little that helps. These didn’t necessarily do anything to help me sleep for a longer period of time, but I do feel like these helped me to relax and enjoy a more restful period of sleep, and I didn’t wake up feeling groggy or drugged like I have in the past when taking things like Tylenol PM.

Two travel-size soap samples: one of African Black Soap from Coastal Scents ($12.95 per 15-oz. bar) and one of Lemongrass Summer bar soap from Harmony Acres ($6.95 per 5.5-oz. bar). I could smell the lemongrass, one of my favorite scents, before I opened the box!

The natural perfume sample from Pour Le Monde is intriguing, especially since sales from this perfume benefit the charity Guiding Eyes For The Blind. A full size 1.7 ounce perfume costs $95, so this is a pretty high-end sample to include in the box. The Blood Orange & Juniper lip balm from Ivre de Fleurs is full size (retails for $7.50) and contains ingredients like mango butter to nourish dry chapped lips.

The Sunology Natural Sunscreen sample is a nice idea, but…foil packets! Argh! You just can’t adequately judge a product from a tiny packet, in my not-so-humble opinion. I do like that it has a high SPF (50) and doesn’t contain ingredients that sting my eyes, but it’s just really hard to say how well I like it based on such a tiny application.

The Better Botanicals Apricot Eye Therapy packet ($18.99 for 15 ml) is a lot better, since eye cream goes so far that a 1.5 ml packet will last a good while provided it’s kept in an airtight baggie. I’ve been using this under makeup and before bed all week and it really does help with tired, puffy eyes, making me look much more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed even on my worst days, so I will definitely consider purchasing this in the future.

This box also included a few coupons, but I didn’t count them into the box’s value. Overall, my estimate of the box’s value is as follows:

YogaVive apple chips (full size): $4.49
Mighty Leaf tea (3 bags): $1.50
Rebootizer: $5.00
MRM Rest-All: $0.83
African Black Soap: $0.79
Lemongrass soap: $1.84
Pour le Monde perfume: $6.00
Blood Orange lip balm (full size): $7.50
Sunology sunscreen: N/A
Better Botanicals eye cream: $1.89

Total value: $29.84

Overall, I would say that I was pretty happy with this box. There was a decent mix of items, two full size items and two high-value cosmetics samples (the perfume and the eye cream). I wouldn’t say it was the best value overall but it did exceed the purchase price and I liked enough of the items to give it a thumbs-up.

I’ve seen some really great boxes and some sort of blah boxes come out over the past year, but overall I think I like it enough to stick around and see what the December box will hold. If you’re subscribed to Conscious Box, or to any other vegan-friendly boxes, tell me about it–I’d love to hear your recommendations/rants/general thoughts about these boxes!

Unboxing/review: Graze Box November 2013

Today I’ve got another foodie box to review for you. Graze gives you a sample of natural and tasty snacks for $6 per box; users can choose to receive boxes every two weeks or every four weeks. Shipping is free but currently Graze only ships within the lower 48 U.S. states. Users can rate the items in their boxes as “try”, “like” or “love” to affect future boxes; they can also “trash” a snack to ensure they never receive it again. For those of us who are vegan or following a gluten-free diet, Graze offers the option to “trash” all snack options that don’t fit into our dietary requirements, making this one of the first cheapie food boxes to my knowledge to so sweepingly accommodate these two dietary restrictions! Keep in mind, though, that Graze does not filter for nut allergies.

If you’re interested in signing up for Graze, keep in mind that you’ll need an invite code, so you can sign up for the waiting list or get an invite code from an existing Grazer. You can also try your luck with an internet search for sign-up or free codes, which surface from time to time on sites like RetailMeNot–but they go fast, so pounce while you can! I snagged a sign-up code from Cosmo that hit its limit almost within 24 hours, so when I say fast, I do mean fast.

Each Graze box is a slim, no-frills cardboard package that’s fully recyclable and offers minimal waste, which I love. Inside are four individual snack containers, each with a perfectly portioned snack that’s about the same size as a vending machine delivery, only much tastier and healthier! The snacks include a mix of sweet and savory. I opted for a vegan box and was happy to see that my four snacks covered a good range of snacking “moods”.

Dark Rocky Road: Belgian dark chocolate buttons, cranberries and pecans. This was a very sweet dessert snack. Yay for vegan chocolate!

Tropical Daiquiri: Green mango, lime raisins and pineapple. I like dried fruit and the lime raisins gave this a little twist. This wasn’t as cloyingly sweet as the dried fruit you might find in a typical grocery store, which made me very happy.

The Herb Garden: Oregano rice crackers, crispy peanuts and baked herb bites. This was a very savory snack and I could have done with more! I was glad that it wasn’t too salty. The husband really liked this also.

Seedsational: Roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds with soy sauce. Honestly, I’m not a big “seeds” person, but if you like seeds then this is a good one–the soy sauce flavor is mild enough that you get a little taste without feeling overwhelmed.

Overall I thought this was a pretty good box, especially considering that everything was vegan and yet didn’t taste “healthy” in the least. Have you guys tried Graze, or would you be interested in trying it? What do you think of foodie boxes overall? Obviously with my dietary restrictions foodie boxes are kind of hit and miss for me, so this little gem was a real delight in my mailbox this week. :)