Monthly Archives: June 2015

Birchbox Review – June 2015

I think this illustration is so cute and I wanted to save it for something special but I got impatient/lazy and decided to use it today instead. Image from Birchbox app.

I think this illustration is so cute and I wanted to save it for something special but I got impatient/lazy and decided to use it today instead. Image from the Birchbox app.

My June box was my 16th Birchbox!  Here’s what I got:

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels. This was my sample choice. These are made with Icelandic glacial water. (So bouge!) I appreciated that these are made with clean ingredients, but I didn’t see or feel any difference in my skin after using them. They did feel nice and cool, but so would a wet cloth. (So not bouge!)

COOLA SPF 50 Sport Sunscreen in Fresh Mango scent. This is a thin, lightweight lotion with a strong fruity scent. I am using and enjoying the sample but I don’t plan to buy the full size because it contains chemical (rather than mineral) sunscreen agents.

Temple Spa Good Hair Day Shampoo and Good Condition Conditioner. I was originally annoyed to receive more Temple Spa products from Birchbox but…I really like these. They smell like a fancy spa or an Aveda shop–that is, like rosemary, mint, eucalyptus, etc. Very nice! My hair feels clean and light. I would buy these.

Marcelle Mini Waterproof Eyeliner in shade Blue Lagoon. I just gave away a bright teal eyeliner during my Makeup Bag Makeover. I would have liked to try an olive green or burgundy or plum or navy liner instead. Teal looks little kid-dish on me.

Erickson Narrow Grab and Go Pony hairtie. This is a good hair tie–strong, thick, and grippy.

This isn’t the most exciting box I’ve gotten, but it’s not terrible. I will recoup $6 in review points, too, so that’s a bonus!

– Angela

My Favorite Things – A Personal Icon Set

Oh, the fascinating life I do lead!

Oh, the fascinating life I do lead!

So, I was inspired by Gloria of the blog Little White Whale to create my own icon set–and it was really fun to make. 🙂

Click on the image above for a better view!

 Target / Naps / Baths / Coffee Frappuccinos / My iPhone 6+ / Coca-Cola / Tuxedo cats / To do lists! / Tabby cats

I used Microsoft Visio to make these, but I bet Word could be used, too (just with more strife). I only resized, layered, and colored the stock shapes and symbols offered by Visio because I have absolutely no drawing or illustration skills. I think my icons turned out pretty cute, though–I like the thick lines and bright colors and simple shapes. They remind me of Hello Kitty and the PowerPuff Girls!

What would YOUR personal icon set include?

– Angela

Birthday Freebies!

Woot!  (Image from Sephora.com.)

Woot! (Image from Sephora.com.)

It’s finally June—my birthday month!

You know I love fun freebies, and MANY companies give away great birthday freebies and discounts! Just run a Google search for “birthday freebies” to find lists of the oodles of offers available from restaurants, retail stores, etc. You can get free appetizers/desserts/entrees, exclusive coupon codes, little gifts, etc. Most companies require that you join their rewards program well before your birthday to get the goodies, though, so start researching and signing up early.

A few tips on getting birthday freebies:

1. Sign up for the customer reward programs at least 60 days (2 months) in advance of your birthday.

2. Immediately log into your rewards account and confirm that your birthday is listed under your account details. If it’s not, find where to add it.

3. Confirm that the company has your correct email and home addresses.

4. Confirm that you are “opted in” to receive email and postal mailings.

5. Look for your goodies! Most come by email, but a few may arrive by postal mail.

I focus on getting the high-value, no-strings-attached birthday freebies. I don’t get jazzed about coupon codes that require a purchase, which appears to be the way many rewards programs are heading. Boo.

Anyway, off the top of my head (and according to some internet research), these are the best freebies I’m looking forward to this month:

SephoraNARS Mini Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in shade Cruella (a bright, matte red) and Mini Satin Lip Pencil in shade Rikugien (a shimmery mauve-y pink). Sephora has the best birthday freebie every year. It’s always a high-quality makeup item of some kind. To get this freebie, join Sephora’s free Beauty Insider rewards program and visit the store during the month of your birthday, or make an online purchase. (Sephora offers a men’s birthday freebie each year, too.)

Ulta – According to the interwebs, the Ulta birthday freebie will vary this year depending on the month in which you were born. Ladies who celebrated their birthdays in January through March received an Ulta-brand eyeshadow palette in neutral shades. I saw on Reddit.com that April through June birthday girls (that’s me!!!) will receive a travel-sized Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in the shade Voodoo, a purple. Cool! To get this freebie, join Ulta’s ULTAmate Rewards program and visit the store after you get an email alert that your freebie is available.

BareMinerals – Last year I got a pot of loose eyeshadow in a taupe-y shade. I can’t find any details online about this year’s freebie, though. Hmm. To get the freebie, join the BareMinerals FAB rewards program and look for an email.

Sports Authority – I signed up for the company’s The League rewards program recently and automatically got a $5 reward to spend in the next couple of months, plus I’m expecting a $10 reward for my birthday! I’m not sporty but I’m sure I can find a way to spend $15 in the store–maybe a fancy water bottle, headband, pair of socks, etc. Yeah!

StarbucksFree drink or food item of your choice! To get this freebie, buy a gift card (online or in store) of at least $5.00 and register it in the Starbucks reward program. Spend the money but keep the registered card for a free drink!

Dunkin Donuts – Free drink! To get this freebie, buy a gift card (online or in store) of at least $2.00 and register it with the DD Perks rewards program. You’ll earn a free drink for joining *plus* a free birthday drink! Not bad for two bucks!

I hope there are a few other good surprises this month, too! Whoo-hoo!

– Angela

P.S. – I don’t carry all these loyalty cards and account numbers around with me. I use the CardStar app on my iPhone, along with the Starbucks app and the Dunkin Donuts app.

P.P.S. – In the good ol’ days, Vera Bradley would send a $20 reward, and World Market’s Explorer Program would send a $10 reward.  They both sent lame coupon codes this year, though (only 15% off, I think).  Aveda used to send vouchers for nice treats, so I’m curious to see if they still do that.

Going Green(er)

Bouge alert!  (Image from BrushWithBamboo.com.)

Bouge alert! (Image from BrushWithBamboo.com.)

I find myself frequently re-reading the blogs Zero Waste Home and Trash Is For Tossers, and I think the message is finally starting to sink in.

I’m not ready to make any big lifestyle changes right now, but I’m definitely interested in making some easy-but-effective modifications to my trashy life.

Here are the painless ways I’m going green(er):

– I’m trying to remember to refuse plastic bags whenever I can. It helps that I carry a big purse and can usually stow my purchases in there.

– I bought a set of reusable (and washable) cloth grocery bags and actually remembered to bring them to the store this past weekend! Woot!

– I brought my collected plastic bags to the store, too, and recycled them.

– I bought 100% recycled (60% post-consumer waste) toilet paper, and I’m on the lookout for a good paper towel option.

– I did the math and realized that I will use about 300 plastic toothbrushes in my lifetime (whoa). As recommended by multiple zero-wasters, I just ordered a set of biodegradable/compostable toothbrushes from the Brush With Bamboo company. The wooden handles and white bristles look so nice, too–very design-y and modern and Instagram-worthy.

– I plan to ask a seamstress to repair/tweak a couple of shirts that I already own (rather than replace them).

– And, as you know and are probably tired of hearing about, I launched my Junk Mail War (update 1 and update 2).

Huzzah! It feels good to make these small changes, especially because I create tons (literally) of other waste elsewhere in my life. I know these actions are only a drop in the bucket, but maybe one day I will be able to take things further.

– Angela

P.S. I’m also contemplating the purchase of a reusable silicone menstrual cup…TMI?

Week Eight Update: Junk Mail War!

Vroom, vroom!  Image from ClipArtBest.com.

Vroom, vroom! Image from ClipArtBest.com.

It’s been TWO months now since I started my Junk Mail War, and I’m actually seeing a decrease now in the volume in my mail!

In particular, I know that I no longer receive a certain weekly sales flyer that really used to irk me. This was an especially obnoxious piece of mail. It was a mini magazine, really–i.e., many colored pages stapled together–and it always came sealed in a plastic sleeve holding other loose bits like coupons and perfume samples. But now I haven’t seen it in weeks! Yes!

To be honest, though, I still receive plenty of mail. I love getting mail. I always have several magazines, online orders, sample requests, bills, etc. coming down the pipeline. I hope, though, that opting out of my unwanted mail will help to offset the resources I use for my wanted mail.

I’m still learning as I go, but here are three new lessons I’ve picked up this month:

1. Keep a log of your removal requests. After a few weeks, it’s hard for me to remember which companies I’ve already contacted. If I were to do this project again, I’d keep a running list of the companies I’ve contacted, the date I contacted each, and the method by which I contacted each (i.e., phone, email, website form, returned mail, etc.).

2. Be wary of guest checkout options when shopping online. I recently made a guest purchase online with a store I’ve never shopped before…and then began receiving their mailer! How frustrating. In trying to avoid creating an electronic profile with a company, or in an attempt to not have to find or reset your password for an existing account (#hassle), you somehow authorize them to send you oodles of physical mail. Sigh. Moving forward, I plan to include a no–mail request whenever I see an “order notes” field.

3. Stifle the urge to attack the obvious junk mail that’s addressed to other (adult) members of your household. It’s not your mail, even if it drives you crazy. Just be a good example–maybe one day they will ask you for help with their own junk mail war!

I’m realizing that this war on junk mail will always be an ongoing battle, but I also know that my initial volume will continue to drop in the next few weeks–then I can just attack the odd piece as it arrives! I also plan to try to keep new junk away by including no-mail requests whenever I can when shopping online, opening new accounts, etc.

– Angela