• health,  product review,  vegetarian

    Product review: Immortal Energy

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

    Happy Friday everyone! Today I have a review of an herbal energy supplement from Immortal Herbs. You might remember that I reviewed their Total Nutrition smoothie supplement mix this summer; they were kind enough to send me a sample of their Immortal Energy supplement and I thought the crazy week of Thanksgiving and Black Friday would be the perfect time to test it out!

    Immortal Energy ($39.95/90 capsules) is an all-natural vegetarian formula that uses Chinese herbs to give you sustained energy and a boost to your muscles and immune system, without the addition of caffeine or other fillers that can leave you crashing later in the day. The directions say to take 3-4 capsules as needed, so I opted to take three capsules with breakfast so I could kick my day off with an energy boost.

    The surprising thing about this product is that it doesn’t give you an energy rush like a traditional energy drink or shot (like Redbull, 5 Hour Energy, etc.). Instead it’s more of an overall boost to your alertness and stamina, helping you to get through your day without feeling so sluggish and drained, both mentally and physically.

    I really appreciated that this didn’t leave me jittery, nor did it make it hard for me to sleep later in the day. Some energy supplements really seem to “sit” in your system and can make it hard to relax and unwind at the end of the day, but I didn’t experience any of those negative side effects with Immortal Energy.

    I really like this product and feel like it would be great for anyone who works long hours, is in school, or otherwise has a demanding schedule and needs a boost without resorting to tons of sugar and caffeine. If you want to learn more about this product or to purchase it, you can visit the company website here. For Black Friday savings, enter the code “HOLIDAY” at checkout to get 25% off your order plus free shipping!

    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.
  • Beauty,  cruelty-free,  food,  product review,  skin care,  vegan,  vegetarian

    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!

  • food,  health,  product review,  vegan,  vegetarian

    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. :)

  • Uncategorized

    99 questions you should ask yourself: part four

    Well, I’ve been quite the failure at BEDN. I meant to blog for the past few days but I’ve had some personal things going on this week and I just drew a blank. I couldn’t think of anything to post. I’m trying to get back into the swing of things this week though.

    Today I’m posting part four of the ongoing questions series that my friend Katrin dug up. You can find her answers here. Some of these questions are so strange, so remember she isn’t the one who wrote them! We’re just copying and pasting here! :P

    31. What are you not made for?

    Athletics. I’m not particularly fast or strong and I’m quite clumsy.

    32. What secret would you never want your partner to find out?

    It’s not a secret if you tell!!

    33. Name three things you don’t want people to know about you.

    Um, again, it’s not a secret if you tell! But something I generally don’t admit would be…I miss fish. Bad, bad vegan. When my husband makes tuna sandwiches for work it’s about all I can do to not line up with the cats by his feet!!! I wouldn’t eat it again, but there’s just no vegan substitute for it.

    34. Why do you think your friends like you?

    I asked my husband this and he said, “Because you’re Rat, and everyone loves Rat because he says what everyone else is already thinking but is afraid to say out loud.” (Rat is a character in a comic strip called Pearls Before Swine. This is a good example of his personality.) Okay, so I am honest and sometimes quite blunt about things, which is a good thing because I’m not two-faced. But I do try to temper it with kindness! I would also like to think that my friends like me because I’m a good listener and because I’m funny. I consider a sense of humor to be a very important asset in a friend.

    35. How similar is your Facebook self to your real self?

    I don’t use Facebook much anymore, but if anything I’m less brash online because I know that things don’t quite look the same in black and white print as they can sound when told face to face. It’s easy to make a remark and have it totally misinterpreted.

    36. What is the most annoying thing about your partner?

    I don’t know…I think when we got together we went through the “honeymoon phase” where nothing was annoying, and then we went through a stretch where everything was annoying, and now we’ve just settled around each others quirks to the point where they don’t really matter. The only thing that really truly drives me bonkers is if I’m trying to sleep and he starts talking loudly on XBOX chat with his gamer friends–there’s no way to sleep through that. But I accept that as a peril of being a night owl and sleeping at 4 PM when everyone else is just getting off work and wanting to be social.

    37.  Why do you publish things on the Internet?

    Because I don’t know a lot of people in RL who share my interests, so blogging is a way to meet others who like the same things I do and make new friends in the process!!

    38. Do you have a hobby?

    Reading. Also, listening to music and watching movies.

    39. What do you search for on youporn?

    I don’t. Once again, neither Katrin nor I came up with these questions!!

    40. Whose Facebook inbox would you love to read?

    My boss’ inbox. I can never pin down her personality and I wonder what she’s like away from the stress of work. I think a look at her personal messages would tell me. How nosy, right?!

  • Uncategorized

    Random Thursday: It’s just how I was raised

    Once again I’m hooking up with Em, Lin and Katrin for Random Thursday, and this week’s topic is a doozy! I think almost all of us have something “weird” in our habits or personalities that is just a by-product of how we were raised. A few of the things about me that are “weird” but seem perfectly normal based on how I was raised…

    1. I read. A lot. Thanks to blogging I’ve finally met other book-obsessed who understand this, but in RL I don’t know a lot of avid readers. When I was growing up we rarely watched TV and since we lived in a small town, didn’t go out a lot to events. Also, the winters were rather harsh, so we spent a lot of time inside during those months! My parents made sure we had ready access to the library though, and we grew up reading past our grade levels. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I started to understand why all of this bookwormishness wasn’t “normal” to other people, but as a kid I just felt sorry for people who didn’t read often enough. I guess I thought they couldn’t read very well and they just said they didn’t like reading to cover that fact. Now that I’m an adult I’ve realized that some people just genuinely don’t like reading, but I still feel sorry for them (perhaps even more so).

    2. I like healthy food. My parents pushed us to eat vegetables and healthy snacks; things like chips and soda were “treats”, and we rarely ate at restaurants. As an adult, even with a hyperactive sweet tooth, that focus on healthy eating is still drilled into my subconscious. I don’t have a big appetite for packaged junk food; it tastes really strange to me. I count myself lucky that I grew up in a household that served apples instead of chips with our lunches, because it’s made it easier to develop healthy habits as an adult, when there’s no one watching you and forcing you to be good!

    3. I’m a budget nut. I credit my Dad for teaching us kids to be responsible with our money, even when we were too young to really understand things like interest rates. I’m sure some people think my habits of budgeting, shopping and saving are really weird, but thanks to those early lessons I’ve managed to stay debt-free as an adult and still have a little extra for a rainy day. When my husband and I first got together he thought it was really strange that I would say I had no money to spend, when he knew very well I had money in the bank. It took him a while to realize that there was a difference between “money to spend” and “money to save indefinitely”. If I don’t have cash on hand for something like clothes or travel, I wait until I do. Sometimes it’s no fun, but it’s kept me out of trouble in the money department!

    4. I’m quiet. There are multiple facets to this. One is that we had a very small family, so I wasn’t accustomed to huge groups of relatives and friends milling about. Lots of people and noise is too much for me. Also, my parents more or less expected us to be well-mannered children, and part of that means no running and screaming in public places. We were expected to be quiet, polite and respectful of the people around us. The third thing would be that my dad worked all kinds of crazy shifts while I was growing up, so were expected to be quiet during the day while he slept. As an adult sometimes I have to remind myself to be a little more loud and assertive, especially at work, instead of constantly trying to be quiet and not bother other people by making noise. I think sometimes they forget that I’m there! (Can be good or bad, depending on the circumstances!) Even if I’m home alone, I catch myself trying to shut doors without clicking the latch. Old habits, I guess.

    5. I’m a night owl. Like I said, my dad worked every shift in the book, including lots of night shifts. We were homeschooled, so since we were at home during the day while he slept, our schedule inevitably bounced around from a “normal” school schedule so we could work quietly on assignments while he slept or was away and have family time when he was awake. I know a lot of adults frowned on our irregular school schedule, but I’d like to think it’s made me a more flexible adult in the work/sleep/have a life balance. I can shift around pretty easily if I need to because I’ve never really had a set schedule of sleeping and working. Honestly, after so many years on night shift, I really can’t fathom working days again!

    6. I grade my life as pass/fail. When I was a kid we got teased for being “weird” because we didn’t go to public school. I guess it was assumed that we weren’t really doing any school work at home. Ha! I don’t remember a lot of the stuff we did but I do remember that my mom wasn’t keen on the whole “A, B, etc.” system of grading–if we didn’t do our work up to a certain standard, we redid it. It was a pass/fail system with no option to fail. It was just expected that we would do extra, read more books, take up extracurricular hobbies (I dabbled in photography), etc. Because I was always expected to do my best as a kid, I’ve always had a certain expectation that I would do my best in the rest of my life, rather than settling for “good enough”. To this day I get teased for taking things too seriously or working too hard but I’ve made a pretty good life for myself and most of the time I manage to get what I want by working hard for it, so I would say that there’s no need to change my methods!!

    7. I DIY. Whether it’s fiddling with the car, baking and cooking, sewing clothes, painting furniture–I DIY a lot of things in my daily life. I suppose this part of my childhood came partly from trying to stretch the almighty dollar instead of being wasteful, and partly because my parents wanted us to learn to be resourceful and creative. It worked. I’ve done a lot of DIY as an adult that has saved me money over a professional job and/or given me the satisfaction of having something unique instead of mass-produced.

    Overall I think a lot of the “weird” things about how I was raised have made me a better person in the long run. I didn’t have a lot of the normal food, toys or experiences that other kids my age might have had, but I took away a lot of values and lessons that have served me very well as an adult.

    What “weird” things about your life are just a part of how you were raised? Tell me in the comments!