NOLA- Hazel Lane March

April 8th,2014

I’ve never been to New Orleans, so why not bring a piece of New Orleans to me?  Cue the jazz bands and toss me some Mardi Gras beads and now I have a craving for Zatarains…ah come on…you know that commercial is going to get stuck in your head!

Hazel Lane features a different city every month. Select one of their three sizes, mini ($19.99), City Explorer ($39.99), or  Deluxe ($59.99) – you can buy a one-time box for a taste of that month’s featured city or sign-up for a subscription and experience a new city each month. How cool is that? You get to explore and never have to leave your couch.

When my package arrived, I already knew that I wasn’t going to like the presentation. It was sent in a soft mailer that my mailman just shoved in my mail box, which, in turn, bent everything that wasn’t solid. Hazel Lane, break my heart, can you please put “do not bend” on your mailers?

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The presentation indeed wasn’t that great.  I opened it up to find my items were wrapped in brown paper enclosed with a sticker and the ends exposed. I wish they would have sent it in a corrugated box with some crinkly stuffer- it would would have looked so much cuter and my stuff wouldn’t have been bent. Oh well- I’ll move on.

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Hazel Lane included a personalized Handwritten postcard from the co-founders Sam & Ash. Honestly, I love stuff like that! If you have read any of my past reviews you know that  I am big on customer service.  That kind of personal touch you receive doesn’t make you feel like just another customer.

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My first item was from Blue Frog Chocolate, it was a cute milk chocolate alligator paired with a chocolate coin wrapped in purple foil. This is a perfect play on Louisiana and the swampy bayous. May I add this was delicious?  I opened it up right away and ate half.  The plan was to save the other half for my husband but it was taunting me and consumed it a few minutes later. ($8.50)

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The second item was a JBrewton NOLA Print. I wasn’t really happy with this item. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good artist and creative artwork.  The print is a layout of New Orleans wards which I found interesting since I have not been to the Big Easy.  However, my issue was it was printed on HP paper and valued at $15,00. It is the same type of HP paper I use to print out pictures on my home printer. Plus, due to the way this package was mailed, it arrived bent. If it would have had a cardboard backing and encased in clear plastic, it may not have been damaged. Again, I do like the print, it is colorful and makes me want to discover the wards of New Orleans.

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I’m saving the best for last. I truly mean it! The final item was a body spray from Cake Face Soaping.com called “Hangover”. I will admit, it’s been a while since my last hangover; but boy after smelling this scent, I wish I had this product all through my college and pre-baby days. This product is made from distilled water, with Cake Face’s original blend of homegrown herbal hydrosois and essential oils. The spray is 100% natural, handmade, and get this – Vegan. It has an incredible smell, I can’t exactly pinpoint it but there has to be rosemary and mint somewhere in that mix. What a pick-me-up, it really does refresh you! After every shower, I have sprayed this on me and even refreshed myself throughout the day. I’ve sprayed it on my pillows. Seriously, I cannot get enough of this product!  Can you tell I love “Hangover”? ($8.00)

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The NOLA box is listed as a $31.50 value.  I loved the chocolate and the body spray, these were excellent items.  While I did like the print, I do not think the overall “value” is $15.00. I like this company and would enjoy exploring more cities; for those interested, Hazel Lane takes you to Brooklyn in April.

**UPDATE: Oddly enough, as I was writing this review I received a mass e-mail from Hazel Lane stating that items will be shipped in their new 100% recycled boxes in April.  If you do sign-up for a subscription, you will have the option to cancel or skip a month by e-mailing Hazel Lane customer service.

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Hammock Pack- March Review

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Hammock Pack is a vacation-in-a-box subscription service, each month featuring a different location or destination theme. $25.00 a month plus $5.00 for shipping.

I’ve never been to the Great White North….Canada that is. Although I was only two hours from the border while in college, a Canadian weekend was never a go.

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This month included products from Canada’s artisan scene. A few names have popped up in other boxes, so being honest, I wasn’t overly excited with this box.

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Writing has always been a passion of mine. Buried in my closets are journals from my childhood and writing classes I took in college. That being said, the first item out of my box was a EcotJot Journal by an artist featured from Scarborough, Ontario. Eco-friendly, which is always a plus, this journal is made out of recycled paper. ($10.00)

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I received a pair of Mercantile 519 earrings in this month’s box. Oddly enough I have already received a pair in a different color from another subscription box and was not overly excited to see these.  They are cute but one pair for me is enough. ($6.00)

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You can always win this girl over with chocolate. Next in my box was a nice sized chocolate bar from Awake Caffeinated Milk Chocolate Bar. I am sure this won’t last long in our house as someone will be getting their sticky paws on this candy bar. ($2.00)

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Two samples of Kaia Naturals Juicy Bamboo Facial Cleansing cloths were also included. I have received Kaia products before from other boxes and am happy with them. These are made from 100% biodegradable bamboo for cleansing your face  ($2.00-3.00)

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The final item in my box was Good Energy tea from Tealish. Made from black and green teas, fruit, and yerba mate guarana seeds, this mix is designed to provide energy. The tea bags are biodegradable. ($10.95)

After reviewing the items of the box, I was not overly excited with my first Hammock Pack. I will be receiving a box for April & May and hopefully they will contain items that will pique my interest.

The box retail value came to $31.95. I paid $30.00 with shipping.

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Wantable Accessories- March 2014

What girl doesn’t love receiving jewelry? I prefer diamonds, but since that’s not realistic nor economical I’ll settle for a monthly box that sends me jewelry. Not only is this a great subscription to purchase for yourself or a friend…it’s not a bad idea to drop hints *nudge, nudge* to your husband, boyfriend or partner!

Wantable offers three types of subscriptions: Accessories, Make Up and Intimates. All boxes are priced at $36.00 for a subscription or $40.00 for a one-time purchase, both choices offer free shipping.

If you don’t like the box you received, Wantable allows you to return it. Being able to return your box is a added benefit that most subscription companies don’t offer. Additionally, should you desire to skip a month or cancel Wantable provides the option to do so.

Wantable offers the opportunity to complete a style profile for each type of box.  The style profile works this way – you are shown a picture of an item and rate it on a sliding scale ranging from love it to dislike it. Based on your ratings, Wantable is able to send items you truly desire and you are not left receiving something which does not match your taste or style. I assume this also keeps their returns to a minimum.

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My box arrived quickly through the United States Postal Service. Greeting me was a pleasant note wrapped over the items reading, “it’s a pleasure to meet you”.  Inside the box was a personalized sticker stating this box was packed specifically for me, this is a great personal touch. While it is a small thing, it does make it feel as though the box was a gift to me rather than being randomly picked off a shelf in a warehouse. Included was an invoice which provided a description of the jewelry, the retail pricing of each item as well as pairing tips for completing the perfect looks.

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Although I was getting ready to leave, there was no way I was going to let that box sit and wait until I got back home. Let’s get real….I was anxious to see what was inside!

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Waiting for me, was a beautiful white and turquoise striped infinity style scarf.  Lightweight, soft and chic; the Harper Scarf is a great for spring and summer.  Hanging in my closet are at least 75 scarves, I absolutely adore them and wear a different one every single day. This is a great addition to my collection and one I look forward to wearing. ($24.00)

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A black, velvet-style jewelry bag with a “W” was positioned underneath the scarf. Inside was an American Flag watch called “The Kelsey Watch” with a navy leatherette wrist band and a brushed gold tone frame. At first glance, I wasn’t thrilled with it and dismissed it as curiosity lead me to the next item. Not until I came back home and looked at my jewelry again did I find myself falling in love with it.  Normally, rustic Americana isn’t my style…but thanks to these boxes, I am learning to step outside my comfort zone and try new things. I have loved watches since I was a young girl and they are a staple of my wardrobe, I feel naked if I leave the house without one.  It’s perfect for the 4th of July! Accessories make the outfit and my new American Flag motif will look great with a pair of shorts and brushed gold tone accent jewelry. ($25.00)

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A similar, smaller jewelry bag was lying next to the watch bag. A gold-tone chain and black-beaded pull-tie bracelet were inside. When I reviewed the invoice, the picture of the bracelet did not match the one I received. I emailed Wantable asking if I received the correct bracelet and as I type this, I have not heard back.  I will update when they contact me.  The bracelet I did receive has a nice weight to it and an intricate design. Perfect for a dress down outfit, skinny jeans, stillhetos, and a cute top or even something a little more dressier, like a sexy little black dress. It is easy to put on and pull the ties with one hand to tighten or loosen. I am not able to note the price nor do I know the name of the bracelet until I hear back from Wantable. They have the “Kori Bracelet” with an art deco description retailing for ($18.00)

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Lastly, a fun, little ring fell out of the bag. The Cayla is an arrow-inspired open ring which has a nice, edgy feel to it. I’ve never worn a ring of this style before and look forward to pairing it with a cute outfit. The ring fits well and is not heavy despite looking like it would be. On a side note, the ring pairs quite nicely with the bracelet. ($8.00)

Wantable WON me over with a big fat capital “W”. Updating your accessories, trying new styles and keeping up with the trends are a great way to show off your personality and fashion flair. Plus, I don’t know about you but it makes me feel good to have something shiny and new to play with.

Maybe a make up or intimates box is in my future?

***UPDATE*** Customer service did contact me back within 2 days regarding my bracelet. Unfortunately, they were out of stock of the bracelet pictured in the invoice. They sent a replacement bracelet.

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Graze Snack Box- Free

My grandma helps me review some of my boxes. Yes, my 81 year-old grandma! She lives next door and whenever a new box arrives she loves to help me unbox them.

While flipping through her “Real Simple” magazine she came across an ad for Graze.com, a snack box subscription with an offer for a free box ($6.00 value). She told me I must try this and like any good granddaughter, I obliged.  Plus how could I pass up an offer for a free snack box?

When I signed up I opted for the “Calorie Counter” box which has a range of 50-to-150 calorie snacks, all individually packed.  This is the healthiest selection. Asides from the “Calorie Counter, there is a “Nibblebox” which contains a greater variety of snacks.

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Today my snack box arrived and I was more than happy to open it up and see what was waiting for me to munch on and taste. I opened it up, took pictures and proceeded to knock on grandma’s door to show her. “How cute is that?!?!” “Oh, what a great idea!!” All positive comments from grandma before we tried out the goodies.

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Reviewing snacks and food is a personal preference and everyone has different tastes. Any future reviews regarding food should not be held against the company in the event I just don’t like something. I never really understood competitve cooking shows- If you don’t like salmon and a contestant makes you salmon, thats a strike against them.

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Fortunately for Graze.com my grandma and I liked every item inside.

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The first snack out of the box was Toffee Apple – chewy, granny smith apple slices with a sticky toffee sauce (70 calories). I haven’t ventured into dried fruit style snacks, yet I was pleasantly surprised with this treat. It had a delightful taste without being overly sweet. Toffee Apple is something I would have for dessert. It does a great job satisfying my sweet tooth and would help me stay away from a piece of cake or cookies. This one was my favorite out of the box.

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Next we opened up the Herby Bread Basket which contained mini basil-flavored breadsticks, oregano rice crackers, and garlic crostini (90 calories). Very good! I loved the oregano rice crackers, the taste and texture were quite appealing and something which I have not tried before. My grandma loved this one the best.

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Black pepper pistachios were next (100 calories).  We both love pistachios but for a snack box I would not have chosen them because I can buy pistachios anytime and choose these boxes to try something different. That’s not to say they were bad, you could taste the black pepper which added a nice flavor to the pistachios.

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Lastly, we sampled the Morning Energizer (140 calories).  I probably should have tried this first since it was 10am…oh well.  Great mix of cherries, pears and walnuts. Nice little assortment and a great pick-me-up snack to start off your moning (hence the name) or after a run or workout.

I enjoyed this free box from graze.com, in fact, I have decided to try out a few more boxes.  Oh, and as for grandma, her words were “sign me up”! For $6.00 a box (always free shipping) you can have a snack box delivered to you every 2 or 4 weeks, you can try out the Nibblebox or the Calorie Counter and cancel at anytime which is easy to do from their website. I also thought it was a great idea that you can order another box if you wanted to have an extra for yourself or to give away without adding an additional subscription. This is how grandma will be receiving her box.

When you receive your box you can sign onto your account and view a description of the snacks that were delivered to you.  There is an additional option to rate the snacks from trash (never again) to love (send regularly). I opted for the trash on the pistachios- this way I can try something new.

Graze.com also provides you with a friend code. Share this code with friends, family, Twitter, Facebook or another source of social media. When someone signs up for graze.com and enters your code, you receive a $1.00 off your next box. Oh did I mention that if your friend signs up they get their FIRST and FIFTH box FREE? (cancel anytime)

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Would you like to subscribe? Use my friend code: L39C66CJP

Do you want your first box free? Head to Graze.com, enter in the special code “simplefree” and select the foods you like and they will mail your free box.

Dottie Box Mini

 

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I received my one-time mini Dottie Box for $10.00 plus $3.00 for shipping and handling.  It was a nice little gift to receive in the mail, perfect for the Etsy lover in us all.

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First gift out of the box was a multi-colored crocheted item by Lavender Lizard. It had a key ring attached to it but I was not sure what it was. Nicely handmade with a lot of red, green, and yellow detail; I finally figured out it is a lipstick or lip balm holder which can be attach it to a key ring.  What a good idea!  While I like the concept, I would not place this on my key chain only because I hate a bulky set of keys. I am also quite sure that if my husband were to use my car, this would be the first thing taken off the ring too. While it may not work on my keychain, I did find the perfect spot – clipped to the diaper bag.  Lord knows that the diaper bag is a giant black hole, swallowing every item in there, making it impossible to find.  Now my lip balm is handy when I take the little guy for a walk. ($6.00)

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Next I found a minty green, mini nail polish from CoCoLacQuer.  Now I am pretty conservative when it comes to my nail polish colors, I get nervous to try colors outside of my comfort zone.  I usually gravitate towards pale pinks or shimmery tans but rarely adventure into greens or yellows. ($2.00)  (Update: I tried this nail color and a day later the paint on two of my nails had significantly chipped away…was not thrilled with the time I spent to paint and dry for it to chip so soon.) Disappointed to learn there is no longer an Etsy Shop.

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I wondered if there would be a jewelry item in the box and Dottiebox did not disappoint.  I found a cute pair of rose lavender/pinkish plastic stud earrings from Mercantile519 for pierced ears.  Not normally what you would find on my ears but with these subscription boxes I am evolving my style and trying new things. These earrings look great with a few tops I own and will be cute for spring. ($5.00)

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The last item was wrapped in a brown paper bag with a sticker announcing Dottiebox is celebrating their one-year anniversary. Inside the bag was a tube of juicy watermelon lip balm (heyyy….perfect for the crochet holder!) that is 100% natural. I love, love, love lip balms! It’s easy to win me over with a great smelling balm. The scent reminds me summers past of fresh cut watermelon in the air at family barbeques. ($3.50)

Overall, my experience with Dottiebox was pleasant. If you are looking for a gift to give your sister or to a friend who loves handmade items – or who enjoys supporting artists – Dottiebox would be ideal. An affordable, surprise gift that I am sure would bring a smile to their face.  As an added bonus, Dottiebox will include a personalized gift tag for your recipient, a very nice personal touch.

The box retailed at $16.50 and I paid $10.00 plus $3.00 for shipping and handling.  In total, I received a lip balm as well as a crocheted holder in which to place it, a mini nail polish and earrings.  For the $10 I spent (minus shipping), I feel Dottiebox supplied a good value; however, I would have liked to have seen at least one more surprise item inside like a beauty product or a hair accessory.  Something like a mineral eye shadow would have been great or a twist tie.  For the items Dottiebox provided, I feel it is a box that should be considered.

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The Librarian-Indie Gift Box

Indie Gift Box ($25 monthly/ + shipping) High quality, one of a kind items made by passionate artists. Not a monthly subscription. Purchase the current month’s theme & buy the box when you want. First come – first serve. http://www.indiegiftbox.com/

I ordered a box which was still available from February called The Librarian.

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When the box arrived it was fairly light, I definitely wanted to tear it open and see what was inside because of its weight.

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First item out of the box were two stretch bracelets made from Czech glass with silver plated accents from DuchessaOriginals. These are petite bracelets; I have tiny wrists and these bracelets are tight, definitely not a whole lot of wiggle room on the wrist. Cute but not something I got overly excited about. ($12.00)

(Let me make note, I have the upmost respect for people who create, I am a supporter of artists and artisan designers).

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I worked for years in an Antique Jewelry Store and had the opportunity to appreciate the years of evolution in jewelry styles. Cameos are not always appreciated by everyone- I happen to really like them. I have an old cameo ring from my mom, which I occasionally will take out and wear. Low and behold, inside my box was a pair of cameo earrings from One Ugly Unicorn. Petite, black-and-white, very cute for pierced ears. I took them out of the plastic bag and realized they are made from plastic, not that I was expecting the real thing, of course. These are cute and I’m sure they will find a way to my earlobes- appropriately fits The Librarian theme. ($4.00)

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Next, I took out a small box which contained a microfiber handkerchief from Activist Eyewear. Handkerchiefs are a pastime,this is an item I would have never thought about  but I am glad it made its way into the box. It sparked an idea for a gift, especially for the modern day bride.They have several different options on their website ($20)

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Now this item, by WrittenForYou, is a tag that reads “drink coffee,read books,be happy” My assumption is this is a book mark. Remember those from elementary school, before the internet and Kindle Fires? Have you forgotten the smell of a library book or what turning a page felt like? Playing on the theme “The Librarian”, a cute little item which I will use for the library books sitting on my end table. ($4.00)

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My favorite piece of the whole box was the surprise item from a past artist, a chai tea lip balm from ReveilleReveille. Made with avocado oil, cocoa and shea butter just to touch upon a few of its moisturizing elements, it is perfect for smoothing out those chapped winter lips (pucker up boys). The best part, it smells exactly like a chai tea!  Indie Gift box has this listed as a $6.00 value- ReveilleReveille has it listed for ($4.89)

The retail value of this box is $46.00. Overall, this wasn’t my favorite box; truth be told, many of the items did not fit my style.  However, there was value in the box as items did exceed what I paid.  I am happy to support the artists and their community and believe Indie Gift box provides a wonderful opportunity for these creative minds. I do love handmade items, with these types of subscriptions you don’t always know what you’re going to receive.  But in a way, that’s the fun of it. Because of the uniqueness of the items, I don’t want to give up on Indie Gift Box.  While this box was not completely my style, I will definitely try them again when they are available for purchase.

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TOKYOMILK DARK No.26 Wisdom

Intoxicating….Sexy…..Must Have!

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Picture this: It’s been a long day, you’ve had endless errands, chores and baby cries to last you a lifetime. Your hair is a mess, you threw on yoga pants and a top you chose by sniffing it to determine if it were clean or not.  All you can think about is dropping the kids off at grandma’s and a well-deserved date night with your husband or partner. Your little black dress is hanging in the closet ready to hug your body; your pumps are screaming for a night out on the dance floor.  You have perfect accessories, your hair and make up is flawless but you’re missing one thing…..the element to tie it all together.

Very rarely do I ever come across a product that knows how to appeal to my inner sex goddess. A product that is so intoxicating it makes me feel like a new woman every time I wear it.

TOKYOMILK DARK Fate & Fortune Collection No. 26 Body Souffle in Wisdom by Margot Elena is a must have! This soufflé is one of the best I have ever used, it quickly absorbs into your skin, making your body feel silky and smooth. For us Midwesterners in the wintertime, it is a perfect product to bring moisture back to your skin. Shea butter and Avocado oils keep your skin beautiful and hydrated.

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I was excited to try this product out, admittedly, it took me a few minutes to try and figure out how to open it (twist) duh! This product looks rich, the jar has weight and the label is both simple and alluring.

After I figured out how to open the jar, the scent hit me right away – floral meets musky organic smell. This is a product that you most likely would want to skip your perfume and a scent that will last all day.

It will set you back $40.00 for a 6oz jar- I do believe $40.00 is a lot to spend on a body lotion but I will definitely buy this product again. I use it sparingly, mostly for date nights with my husband or when I need a pick me up or a feel sexy moment after cleaning spit up off my clothes.

The first night I wore this my husband was immediately drawn to me. There is something about the smell that is bewitching in a way you can’t put your finger on it but you want to keep coming back for another smell. I feel mysterious and sensual when I wear this. We all need a little spice in our lives.