Monday, July 29, 2013

Nature Box Review July 2013!

I am excited to bring you all my first official Nature Box review! Not too long ago I did a comparison between Graze Box and Nature Box, and after having Graze Box for quite a few months, I decided to put my deliveries with them on hold and get Nature Box for a few months to see how I liked it!

After your first month, which is more like an introductory box, you are able to choose your snacks. This time I chose 5 snacks and the other 5 were a surprise.

Before I get into the reviewing of each snack, I will say I was a bit disappointed with the shipping time of my box this month. I was supposedly charged on July 9th, and I did not receive any sort of shipping notification until July 21st, and did not receive my box until July 26th. However, if they continue to arrive at the same time each month, it should be fine. I did contact Nature Box about my issue and they happily and kindly gave me 50% off my August box! So far I've had nothing but pleasant interactions with their customer service.

So let's get on with the reviews, shall we? I thought it would be important to review the flavors of the snacks because unlike Graze box, which sends you weekly snacks so if you don't like something you can "trash" it on their site, Nature Box gives you larger bags of snacks once a month. It would be a real bummer to get a large bag of something and really dislike it. So hopefully my reviews will help some of you!
(picture of all the bags and names of snacks!)
*I've noticed most Nature Box snacks come in small or large bags. I will let you know what size bag each snack comes in!*

1. Blueberry Almond Bites (Vegan)
These little bites are light and airy like a rice cake. They have a very nice blueberry flavor and a satisfying crunch that comes from the almonds. You get a nice large bag of these, and they're perfect for a late morning snack. 

2. Might Mix (Vegan)
This mix has raisins, peanuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, dates, apricots, pumpkin seeds, apples,  and walnuts.
This is a dry fruit/nut/seed mix with no seasoning or added flavor. Very simple. Nice selection and freshness. This mix comes in a small bag.

 3. Whole What Blueberry Figgy Bars (Vegan)
 These are very close to a fig Newton without the "cake" on the outside. Instead, there's more of a gritty/grainy texture on the outside but still taste very nice. Each bar is about twice the size of a fig newton, or half the size of a Nutrigrain bar.  You receive 5 per bag and they are individually wrapped, which is a great convenience.

4. Banana Bread Granola (Vegan)
 By far my favorite of the bunch!  This is sooo delicious! There is a very light banana flavor, but these taste more like big chunks of the "bunches" in Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. Some of the tastiest granola I've ever had.

 5. Honey Mustard Dippin Stix
These are little sesame seed crackers with a light honey-mustard flavoring. They taste similar to honey mustard pretzels. They come in a small bag but it's filled to the brim! It's going to take me a long time to go through these!

6. Lonestar Snack Mix (Vegan)
 This mix includes: Almonds, cashews, peanuts, multi-seed chips. This mix has a very strong BBQ flavor, but tastes more like burnt charcoal than BBQ. As you can see from the picture, there is hardly any multi-seed chips, and the bag is filled with mostly almonds. Not a huge fan of this one, but I will most likely finish the bag. This mix comes in a small bag.

7. Tuscan Summer Mix
This mix contains: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, cashews,  and almonds.
This one is very strange. Savory raisins are not my thing. The flavoring is tomato-basil-ish... similar to a pizza sauce. It tastes fine on the seeds and stuff, but feels very off with the raisins in the mix. The seasoning is very rustic yet a bit strong for my tastes. This mix comes in a small bag.
 

8. Zesta Fiesta Mix
This mix contains salsa corn sticks, jalapeno peanuts, garlic peanuts, chili lemon peanuts, spicy pumpkin seeds,  and almonds.
This one is really tasty! It sounds spicier than it is. It definitely has a kick to it, but it's very tolerable. Has a nice zesty flavor, although the corn sticks tasted slightly stale. Overall it's quite good and I would probably get it again. Comes in a small bag but is filled substantially.

9. Peppery Pistachios
 
If you love pistachios like I do, than you will not be disappointed! These are simple pistachios with a sea salt and pepper seasoning. So delicious and have a little kick. These come in a small bag.


10. BBQ Kettle Kernels
  These have a very nice BBQ flavor, much different from the lonestar snack mix. Have a naturally satisfying crunch to them, and taste similar to a Frito, or a corn chip. Non GMO corn is a bonus. These will definitely satisfy a craving for something salty/savory!


While there were a few duds in the bunch of snacks I got this month, I think overall there were a lot of tasty ones too! I am even glad that I got a few snacks that I did not like, as it helps me eliminate the things I'm not interested in, and eventually I'll have a list of all the snacks I enjoy from Nature Box, which will make choosing my snacks more easy and convenient. Overall, I'm very happy with the size of the bags and the quality of the snacks. Looking forward to next month!

Vitacost Be Boxes / Be Fit Box Review July 2013!

I am REALLY excited to share this review with you all! This past week, I finally received my very first "Be Fit" box from Vitacost! I have received their Be Well and Be Pretty boxes in the past, but the Be Fit is a first! I am usually not interested in "diet" products as I feel they are counter-productive to health and wellness (diet pills are a no-no!) but I thought I would see what this one was all about!

If you scroll back a bit on my blog you will see a few previous Be Boxes and what some of them have contained in past months. While I know some of them can be duds (according to others in the past) I have actually always been very happy with the items in the Be Boxes, and this one was no exception. They only cost $13.99 a month and include shipping. Best part? You can add any vitamins or products you want to your order and all of it will be free shipping if you've also purchased a Be Box!

Enough of my rambling, let's get on to the good stuff. What did I get?


UH...WOW! Those were my exact words when I opened my Be Fit box. Here's a quick idea of what was inside:

-Kathy Smith exercise DVD
-Bag of Muesli (interesting oatmeal-type cereal)
-Bag of Edamame
-Full-size bag of orange-flavored hunger suppressing chews
-Canister of natural sea salt
-Pack of Atkins peanut butter cups
-3 Chocolate Cherry Kind Bars
-3 Maple-nut Kind Bars
-6 "Fruit Sandwiches" (taste like pineapple fruit snacks!)
-3 green tea bags
-3 classic breakfast tea bags

Honestly, while I'm normally not into the "diet" side of health and wellness products, I was VERY pleased with this box. Not only did I get MORE than what the box costs, but I love the variety of healthy snacks! My all-time favorite bar-type foods are Kind bars. They are pretty pricey, but they taste SO amazing. I know they retail for about $1.50 each, so that is $9 JUST for the Kind bars!

So far, I have been thrilled with everything in this box, and every box I've received from them prior. My suggestion is to look at previous month's boxes and see if you can find youtube videos or blogs (like this one) to help you get an idea of what is in each box. If it's worth it to you, grab one! They also make great gifts. This exact box is most likely still available, but only until the end of July, so grab it fast!


Monday, July 22, 2013

E&J XO Brandy Review!

 

Now I know I normally review beauty-type products, but I was asked by BzzAgent to test and review the E&J XO Brandy and I thought I would write my thoughts here on my blog! (Just to point out, I was given a coupon for the Brandy so that I could try it and give my honest opinions. I was NOT paid for this review and it reflects my honest thoughts!)

BzzAgent sent me my kit and it was pretty awesome. Looked a little something like this (not including the bottle of Brandy):

Got a nice "User's Manual" which has lots of information on the brand as well as the liquor and recipes for yummy cocktails! BzzAgent also included 2 booklets of rebate coupons, a deck of cards and a tote bag. Neat!

I had my fiance run out and purchase a bottle of the E&J Brandy and we were both happy to find it was only $12 at our local Liquor store. That is an excellent price for such a large bottle! We also picked up a few lemons and limes and a bottle of ginger ale, to make a cocktail.


When you open the bottle of Brandy, it has a very gentle scent to it. Sweet and caramel-y with a spiced scent to it as well.. It's quite nice! I actually would like a candle or something that smelled like it! The recipe for the cocktail was ginger ale, brandy and a squeeze of lime. It was very light and bubbly. Would make a very nice cocktail for anyone, even if they weren't into hard liquor. My fiance and I both enjoyed it.


We both also agreed however, that it was a bit harsh when taken straight (in a shot form.) Neither one of us are very big drinkers of liquor. We're more beer and wine coolers kind of people, but we definitely agreed that using it sparingly in cocktails made for a very unique and interesting flavor.

If you haven't tried Brandy before, you truly can't go wrong with E&J XO Brandy. it's a very unique alcohol (which I am told is made from wine!) that takes part in creating some very tasty mixed drinks. It's highly recommended for anyone looking for a fancy tasting, yet low cost liquor for their next party or get together!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bulu Box: Worst Subscription Box Ever?

So last month I decided to try a Subscription box called "Bulu Box." I was told it was similar to the VitaCost Be Boxes, as the Bulu Box of your choice would either contain wellness products, or diet/exercise products for $10 a month. I found a code to try a free month, so I figured it couldn't hurt to see what it was all about.

If you saw my review from last month, you would know that I was incredibly disappointed with what I received, even though the box was free for me. I realize that there are people out there that spend $10 on these boxes, so I reviewed it as such. First off, I requested the WELLNESS box, and I received the diet/fitness box. I think a lot of the diet pills and fitness things on the market are very dangerous, and I am more concerned with HEALTH than WEIGHT, so I was pissed off that I received a box I didn't ask for. However I glanced at other's reviews of the wellness box and those ones weren't much better. I quickly canceled and moved on with my life.

Or so I thought.

This month rolls around and I notice that Bulu box has charged my card yet AGAIN. I certainly remember cancelling this box, so I e-mailed them and asked to be refunded. They explained that I had TWO ACCOUNTS with different e-mail addresses, but connected to the same debit card. At this point, I vaguely recall trying to sign up with one of my e-mails and it wouldn't go through, so I used a different e-mail. The reason why I continued to assume that it didn't fully go through the first time was because I never received a box for the second e-mail for the month of June. If what they were telling me was a fact, I should have received 2 boxes in the month of June, as they were telling me I had two subscriptions. I told them I had never received a box for that "account" and I didn't even know it existed. They pretty much told me "too bad."

At this point, I just wanted it to be canceled, so I tried to log in to the bulu box website to cancel this second account and not only would it not accept any password I tried, when I attempted to recover the password, it was never sent to my e-mail. I was furious by this point, and demanded that they cancel this second subscription from THEIR end, as it wasn't working on mine. They finally did, or so I hope, yet they still told me I wouldn't be refunded for the box I didn't want in the first place.

I thought, "Ok..it's $10. Maybe I'll get a better box this month."
This is what I received. I wish I was lying.


Not a SINGLE ITEM in the box was full sized. EVERYTHING was a sample packet. The Powerbar fruit packets are about $1.50 each in stores. So I paid $10 for a bunch of sample packets and 2 powerbar packets.

If you're interested in a box that has these kinds of products but don't want to be ripped off by a horrible company that sends you crappy sample foil packets, I would suggest the VitaCost boxes. You can choose from Be Fit, Be Well, Be Strong and Be Pretty, and you get more than your money's worth with them. Buyer Beware when it comes to Bulu Box. There are better options out there and you won't be ripped off.

Ipsy Bag July 2013 Review!



One of my favorite times of the month is when Ipsy bags start shipping. They were one of the first subscription boxes/bags I had ever subscribed to. They hit a rough spot shortly after they launched and I ended up cancelling due to the lack of quality products. However, a few months later they seemed to find their footing and I was just dying to re-subscribe! Since I did, I have yet to be disappointed! Certain months are better than others, for sure, but overall the value cannot be beat by any other beauty subscription and they are currently the only beauty box that I am actively subscribed to! Let's get on with seeing what I got in my July Bag!


The great thing about the past few months of Ipsy, is that they've been using the IpsyMatch system, which is where they cater certain products in your bag to your answers in your beauty survey. While they've sometimes seemed like they've ignored the surveys entirely when choosing what to send, it seems like they may have done something different this month, as I got the item I was hoping for!

Let's start off with the products that everyone received.

Pop Beauty Pouty Pop Crayon
I really love the idea of these lip "crayons" and I've always really loved the Tarte LipSurgence ones, however the $20+ price tag usually killed it for me. I was really excited to receive the Pop Beauty one as the entire set of 6 is only $25 or so. I received the color "Flirty Fuschia" and was not a fan of the color at all. The application is smooth and feels very nice on the lips, and it actually lasts quite a while. However the color was a chalky, neon pink color that looked absolutely terrible on my lips. It would probably work well for someone with a deeper skin tone, or someone with blonde hair, but with my pale skin and black hair it was horrendous. I will say the product, color aside, was great quality and I wish I got a color I liked more as I think I would have enjoyed it more!

BH Cosmetics California Collection Sample Palette
This is such a cute idea from BH Cosmetics. They recently released 3 different California themed palettes and this mini palette has a sample color from each palette. I've been looking forward to trying their shadows because they always seemed similar to Coastal Scents and I was interested in comparing their quality. I love that the shadows go nicely together. The royal purple, gold and brown could make a really fun look. When swatched with my fingers, they have a nice color payoff. However transferring them to my eyes or to swatch on my arm, the colors come off a bit chalky and not very pigmented. It was a bit disappointing, but I am happy to have received it so now I know to stick with Coastal Scents! :)

COOLA Mineral Face SPF 20 Rose Essence Tinted Moisturizer
 I am not familiar with this brand so it was nice to get a product from a new company to try! I am not big on tinted moisturizers because I have terrible skin and need something with a lot more coverage, but there ARE some days where I just can't be bothered to do a lot and use a BB cream or something like this. I was disappointed at the very small tube, and even more disappointed at the fact that I had to squeeze it almost completely flat to get any product out. The color seemed slightly too deep for my skin tone (think 1-2 shades darker than an Ivory foundation) but it did seem to blend out nicely. Didn't really have much coverage, but I don't expect much from a tinted moisturizer. Wasn't a huge fan of this one but was again happy to try it.

Sexy Hair Weather-Proof Humidity Resistance Spray
I really love this brand/line of products. I don't usually buy them as I think they're a bit expensive, but I am always happy to get the Sexy Hair lines in subscription boxes. It was PERFECT timing to receive this product in my bag, as it's been 90 degrees here in Rhode Island for over a week now! The spray has a nice light smell and works surprisingly well keeping the humidity away from my hair! I would definitely recommend this product to anyone who has naturally frizzy or humidity sensitive hair.

Demeter Salt Air Perfume Oil
This was the product I was most excited to receive. Out of  all the other options available, I was hoping for this one. I have seen/heard of Demeter perfumes so it was nice to finally get to try one. Salt Air smells like the air around you when you're laying on the beach. It has a sunny, warmness to it. Salt, sand, suntan lotion. That's really what it smells like. It's a VERY light scent and is very enjoyable. My only complaint is that the scent seems to disappear within about an hour. I am a perfume/scent addict so I wasn't too thrilled about that, however the scent is absolutely lovely and I will use this vial up without a problem!
All in all, this was a great month for Ipsy. I thought it was one of the first bags that REALLY felt like everything was themed to the time of year. The summery vibe was apparent in the cute neon pink waterproof bag, the Salt Air perfume, the light pink lippy, tinted moisturizer and humidity spray. I love that they truly stuck to the July theme and as always, I'm super excited for next months bag!!

If you'd like to sign up for Ipsy, you can do so here: Join Ipsy!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Graze Box VS. Nature Box: A Comparison Review

It's been awhile since I've done a review! I've been putting this one one on my "to do" list for quite awhile now, but I wanted to nom through all my Nature Box snacks that I received so I could do a comprehensive review not only on the subscriptions themselves, but the quality of the snacks. So now that I'm ready to go, let's do this!

As most of you know, I am obsessed with subscription boxes. Mostly beauty subscriptions, but I recently dove into the world of "snack boxes" and I am ALWAYS looking for healthy snacks. While I'm not the healthiest eater in the world, I much prefer healthy snacks over junk food. I love nuts and seeds over chips and cookies. Not sure why! But those kinds of snacks can get really expensive when you're buying them at the grocery store. After doing a little online research I came across the lovely, Graze Box!

GRAZE BOX

Graze Box is a fun food subscription service. They send a small box of 4 different healthy snacks in individual serving-size containers. Each box is just over $6 with shipping included. You can get them weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. They will also occasionally manually change your subscription to weekly under certain circumstances. I had e-mailed them about getting my box weekly and they said that since I lived close to their HQ in New Jersey, that they could change my subscription to weekly. If I lived too far away the boxes might not make it on schedule for a weekly sub. If you're interested in a weekly sub, simply shoot Graze an e-mail and see what they can do!

Once you sign up with Graze, you can view all of the snacks they have to offer. You can rate them on a scale:
Trash: you never want them to send you this snack
Try: you're not sure how you feel about it, but you're open to trying it
Like: something you like/think you would like and you'd enjoy receiving it
Love: something that looks delicious/something you've tried and love and want to get more of

This is a great system because you can change it as you go.Another great plus for Graze is that they have excellent customer service. Every time I have had an issue with a box or a concern, they always compensate me and/or answer me as soon as possible. They are very kind and helpful and that's hard to come by!

(another example of a Graze Box. Yummy!)

Another great thing about Graze Box is that they are always coming out with new snacks. They have over 100 snacks to choose from and counting! They're snacks have always been fresh and delicious each time I've received a box. If you need variety in your snacking, Graze is definitely a good option!

The Cons: Well...they've only recently launched in the United States (they're based in the UK) so boxes have been routinely late in the past. They have fixed this since the the US launch, but I feel that it's important to point out. Sometimes a week would go by and I wouldn't receive a box at all. Some weeks I'd receive two. This was a bit bothersome because I depended on my boxes for my weekly snacks. They were always very compensating and kind about it and would give me a free box or 50% off of my next box etc. There are also times where I  disliked the small size of the snacks. This could potentially be a plus for those of you who desire portion-controlled sizes, but I wish they were a bit bigger. I usually bang through one little tray of snacks in a minute and I'm not very satisfied. But you know, that's just because their snacks are so dang delicious!

Graze Box is Great For: More frequent boxes and delivery customization. Portion control. Control over the kind of snacks you'd like to get. Great variety of snacks.

If you're interested in signing up with graze, please feel free to use my invite link here:
https://www.graze.com/us/p/7CL17KN7U
(I ALWAYS donate my referral credits to the Graze School of Farming!)

Using my invite code will get you your 1st box AND your 5th box totally FREE! Yay!


NATURE BOX

 Note: I have since cancelled my Nature Box. These prices/opinions reflect the state of Nature Box at the time I was subscribed.

Nature Box is a bit different from Graze Box. They send one box a month (this is not something that can be changed) and you get a choice of 5 different bags of healthy snacks for $19.95, 10 bags for $29.95, or 20 bags of snacks for $49.95.  I really liked the idea of getting resealable, larger bags of snacks, so I decided to give Nature Box a try.

When you sign up with Nature Box, they send you a "starter box" of snacks that they have chosen for you. I received 5 snacks that I was very excited about. The cherry ganache granola is to die for. Some of the snacks were very nice quality and others were not as exciting or fresh-tasting. Their snacks are similar to Graze, but instead of getting 16 small trays of snacks each month, you get 5 bags to last you over the month, and most of them will! If you'd like more examples of snacks that Nature Box offers, check out my other Nature Box snack review HERE.

After your first month with Nature Box, you can continue to let them choose your snacks for you, OR you can shoot them an e-mail and request to choose your own snacks. When it's time to choose your snacks for your second box, you can go through their list of snacks and choose the 5 that you are most interested in. If you think you might want more snacks that month, you can add more snacks onto your box. The more snacks you add on the less they cost each time, IE: the 6th snack is $4, the 7th is $3 etc etc. They also do "extra" snacks that they send to random subscribers.

The Cons: After having Nature Box for 3 months, I decided to cancel due to the cons. An issue they consistently had was they never had the snacks I wanted in stock during the time I was supposed to choose my snacks. They also have incredibly slow shipping. These things may or may not bother you, and if the pros out weigh the cons for you, then Nature Box may be a good choice. However, my 3rd Nature box was very disappointing. You can read about why I canceled this subscription in more detail HERE. However, I will say that the quality of their snacks plummeted over the short 3 month period, and they were not very interested in hearing about the low quality of their snacks. They also did not refund the money I had spent on that box, even though they had assured me they would. It's very difficult to cancel Nature Box as well. There is no easy "unsubscribe" button. There may be now, but when I attempted to cancel, I was directed to a phone number. All that hassle just doesn't seem worth it.

Nature Box is Great For: Larger, resealable bags of snacks. Choice of getting more or less snacks in each box. Clearly labeled vegan, gluten free, and organic options.

Both services are worth the money if you're in the market for a variety of healthy snacks. You don't have to search high and low at your local Whole Foods or health store to find good tasting snacks. Graze Box is great if you want more control over how often you get your boxes, or the portions etc. Graze Box also has excellent customer service and a wide variety of snacks. Nature Box is good if you're interested in larger sized bags of snacks, and more control over which snacks you want to receive and how many. They are also excellent for vegan/organic/gluten free options that are labeled on their site and on the bags as well.

I had originally put my Graze Box on hold so that I could try a few months of Nature Box, and while I expected to like Nature Box much better, I eventually canceled and returned to Graze Box. I find Graze Box to have a more user-friendly website, that their snacks are superior in flavor and in quality, and that I am never bored with the snacks I receive. They're customer service is exceptional to boot.

Final Thought: While I was originally impressed with Nature Box, I found them to be the inferior company when it came to snack quality and customer service. I have continued my Graze Box subscription and have been a very happy customer. I do think that Nature Box could work for some people, especially if you have dietary restrictions. My personal preference is Graze Box!