Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Celebrate American Made Virginia January 2014

Rating: Love It!!!!
Cost: $39.95/month

Celebrate American Made launched in December 2013 with a Wyoming themed box. This subscription features local artisan foods and crafts from a different state each month. They graciously sent me this box to review. This month featured Virginia, the state for food lovers. I always love checking out new subscriptions and their packaging. This one was amazing! So much fun to open and is definitely going on my gifting list!!!

The box was about the size of a shoe box and recognizably from Celebrate American Made.

This is the first look.

And I had to include a 2nd look, because I loved the cute packaging of this box.

It also included a letter with the products included. And a lot of other fun Virginia companies to check out. This was definitely one of the best curated boxes I've seen in awhile! Everything included in the box was made locally in Virginia and was different and unique!!!

The first item was Montebello Kitchens Traditional Virginian Peanut Soup. I've never tried peanut soup, so I was so excited this was included in the box. I can't wait to taste it!

The next item was Savannah Grace Cheese Straws. I've never had these before either, but they looked like a good snack. And they are so delicious! My daughter loved these and wouldn't put them down!!! And she's been a picky eater lately, so these get my stamp of approval. Now I just have to find out how to buy more.

Also, included was Graves' Mountain Apple Butter. I've had Apple Butter before and I love it, so when I saw this I was happy. They also have some recipes on the Celebrate American Made website to go along with this month's box and there is a Salad with Apple Butter Vinaigrette that looks yummy! We're definitely going to try it soon!!!

Another item included was Route 11 Yukon Gold Potato Chips. I resisted the urge to eat these up right away and tried out the recipe on their website for Potato Chip Chicken. It was so good! I never would have thought to use potato chips as breading. We'll definitely be making this again! The factory these potato chips are made at is also open to the public Mon-Sat for "fry viewing" so people can see how the chips are made.

The Virginia Chutney Spicy Plum Chutney looks delicious and won the 2013 Gold Sofi Award for Outstanding Condiment. I can't wait to try this as it is suggested on their website with crackers and cheddar cheese or as a topping for roast pork.

There were also a couple non food items included. One was Brigit True Organics Lip Balm. I will never complain about getting lip balm in a subscription box. I go through it like crazy and can never have too much. Not only are the ingredients simple and clean, but also the packaging. This is definitely a company I'll keep in mind for skin care products.

The final item was found at the bottom of the box under all the packing material and was probably the most meaningful item in the box. It was a print by Natalie Kay. It was created by the artist for her friend that had suffered severe injuries after a car accident and the print was sold to fundraise for her medical expenses. Talitha Koum meaning "Young Woman, Stand Up" is the inspiring message on the print. There was also a link included to read the whole story, that you can also get to from the Celebrate American Made website.

There was so much thought put into this box and small Virginia based businesses that were featured. You can also find so much more additional information on the Celebrate American Made website. Definitely check it out if you are thinking about subscribing or just want to learn more about the featured states. February they will be featuring Arizona and March will be Colorado, so subscribe now if you don't want to miss out. I know I'm going to keep this subscription box in mind for myself and as gifts. What a fun gift to give to natives of the state featured! I can't wait to see what this includes in future months.

I also have additional information about how this company was started, so if you want to learn more read on. The idea for Celebrate American Made came to Tiffany Tompkins in July 2012. The subscription box boom had hit and she thought that it would be a great idea to help small businesses get in on some of the action. 

A daughter of entrepreneurs, she knows how hard it is for small businesses to compete for market share, much less spend time marketing their own products while running their company. Small companies have small budgets, fewer people than needed and as a result, little time. So, she let the idea simmer until finally, in November, she decided she HAD to make Celebrate American Made happen.

Chalk it up to being 9 months pregnant or just tired of the negativity during the election, she sought to start Celebrate American Made as a way to unite the country by celebrating the hard working people that make America great - small business entrepreneurs! 

Listening to the media and other people describe “these people” or “this state” in a way that made me think they were talking about a foreign country was depressing. Isn’t the diversity of America one of its greatest attributes? She loves discovering new treasures made in other states. Trying new foods, seeing what people create as artists and gaining new perspectives keeps life interesting. 

So, Celebrate American Made was born and her journey of celebrating one state at a time has begun. Over the next few years she is going to revel in America’s unique landscapes, history, and culture. She's going to find wonderful products that are indicative of each state and help small businesses by telling their stories and getting their products into the hands of consumers who are passionate about these same things.

Will you be joining her on her journey of discovering the unique items found in each state? Subscribe here today.

*This complimentary box was received in exchange for my honest review. As always the opinions are my own!

Unpack the Box

Monday, January 20, 2014

Blues Jean Bar (BJB) Express Box January 2014

Rating: Not For Me!
Cost: Pay retail price of items you keep

I was so excited to try Blues Jean Bar (BJB) Express Box, that I subscribed immediately after finding out about it! It sounded perfect for me. I'm addicted to clothes, especially denim and was so excited to see what they would send me.

BJB Express is similar to Stitch Fix in concept, you fill out a profile online and select how often you want to receive a box (monthly, quarterly, or one time). You pay $1 to have the box shipped to you and you try everything on and keep what you love and send back what you don't. You only pay for the items you keep. You work closely with a stylist to tell them your likes and dislikes, and will receive up to 6 outfits. You have 10 days to return the unwanted items. You ship the items back with the shipping label that's included in the same box everything comes in. If you return everything within 2 days you get 20% off.

Here's what the box looked like when it arrived.

And here's what it looked like when I opened the box.

The outfits were all bundled with twine. I had 4 bundles included in my box.

Here's a look at what was included in each bundle.

Ok. So I was a little disappointed in what was sent to me. I requested no skinny jeans, since that is all I currently own and all I was sent was skinny jeans. I was happy to see one of the outfits I asked for, that was featured on their Facebook page. The prices were all different, some items were on sale and some were very expensive. I liked the range of prices that were offered, but most of the outfits were pretty much the same. I was hoping for more variety and some sweaters since it is going to be very cold for at least 2 more months where I live. They also sent a variety of sizes. I received shirts in sizes ranging from XS to M (I wear a S) and jeans ranging from 25 to 27 (I wear a 27).

I didn't take pictures of myself wearing the clothes, and I used a dress form for the shirts. The pants all fit decent, some better than others, but the ones I liked were very similar to ones I own, so I couldn't justify buying any of them. They were all sent back, but here's a list of what brands/styles I received and the cost of each.

James Jeans legging in a very dark denim wash (1st picture) Size 27 Retail Price $172
Fidelity mid rise skinny twill pants in sage color (2nd picture) Size 27 Retail Price On Sale $88
Henry & Belle super skinny ankle in rustic color (3rd picture) Size 26 Retail Price $158
Fidelity low rise crop in steel color (4th picture by sequin shirt) Size 27 Retail Price On Sale $88
Henry & Belle super skinny ankle in gunmetal color (4th picture by floral blazer) Size 25 Retail Price $189

Now for the shirts. Rory Beca v-neck tank, with cut out back detail. Size Small. This shirt was my favorite, but I couldn't justify keeping it with the retail price of $203. I loved the pattern and colors of this shirt and it fit perfect. The back detail was very nice and different from anything I own. Sent Back.

It was also bundled with an Astars black cardigan. Size Small. Retail Price $96. This was ok, but I already own so many black cardigans and I really don't need another one. I tried this on with all the shirts sent to me, but didn't like it with any of them. Unbuttoned this cardigan looked kinda frumpy, so you could only wear it buttoned, limiting the styling options. But it was a super soft fabric, making it so comfortable. Sent Back.

The BJB cowl back tank was a keeper. It had a nice back detail like nothing I currently own. It was a vibrant color that I loved. Plus I couldn't beat the sale price of $13. There was no way I could not buy this. This was my favorite item in the box without even looking at the price tag. And I can't wait until summer to wear it with white skinny cropped jeans! Kept It.

The BJB color block tank was another keeper because of the sale price of $11.75. How can anyone say no to that?!? This was super cute on and like nothing I own. (The pictures definitely do not do it justice) It will look great with a cardigan in the winter or worn alone in the summer. I do need to tell you one thing that really bothered me though. This shirt had a makeup mark on it upon arrival. I expected high quality items from this company and understand that can easily happen as customers try on items, but was disappointed that they would send something like that. I'm hoping I can get it out, because I'm in love with this shirt. Kept It.

This outfit also came bundled with the C&C California orange jacket. Size X Small. Sale Price $32.25. This just wasn't my style and fit large for an X Small. Also, this had some strange fading on the shoulder and arm, but the rest of the jacket did not have any fading, which made me think this may have been placed in bright sunlight. I understand it was a sale item, but I expected to get top quality pieces considering the retail price point of this subscription. Sent Back.

The Naked Zebra one pocket trim blouse in powder blue was shipped to me in a size Medium, which was too large for me. Retail Price $32. I wasn't crazy about the style of this shirt anyways. Sent Back.

The final outfit was featured on the BJB Express Facebook site and I was excited to try it on. The BB Dakota sequin tank in silver was sent to me in a size Medium. Sale Price $17. This was huge on me and so unflattering. Sent Back.

The BJB floral blazer had a sale price of $37. This fit well, and I almost kept it. I tried it on with quite a few items to see if I could make it work, but decided I didn't need it. I didn't love it with anything I tried it with, but it was very comfortable. Sent Back.

I'm not sure I will try BJB Express again. I had such high hopes for this subscription service, but felt it didn't deliver to my standards. I wish I would have received some other styles of jeans and not all skinny. I was so interested in this service, because I'm not able to buy the designer jean labels I love where I live. I really need some new jeans that I can where all the time (that are not skinny) and I unfortunately didn't find any jeans I loved in my box. I do really like the 2 shirts I am keeping and they were a great value, but I was hoping for items I could wear now while the weather is still very cold.

Have you tried BJB Express? What were your thoughts?

*This subscription was purchased and financed by me, unless noted otherwise. Posts may contain referral links and I totally appreciate it when you use them!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Citrus Lane January 2014

Rating: Lifer!!!!!
Cost: $29/month

My 19 month old daughter's Citrus Lane box arrived yesterday. I had no idea what we would be getting this month, because the only reviews I had seen were for older ages. I was pleasantly surprised by a very large box, but then I had remembered I bought an add on item. So, inside the large box was my add on and the regular Citrus Lane box. The boxes are so fun right now. They have winter scenes that you can punch out and shine a flashlight through to make a scene on the wall. So cute! This is what we got in this month's box.

The first item I pulled out of the box was the Shape Sorter from Plan Toys. My daughter immediately did the gimme hands, because she wanted to check it out! I think this will be a great toy for her to use in the car and when we are out, because the pieces stay attached. Plus it will take her a little while to figure it out because the rope makes it a little more difficult to fit the shapes and you have to do them in a specific order. I was very happy with this toy and so was my daughter!

We also received Adhesive Bandages from Ouchies, Jr. We had received these in an earlier month, but we got the Olivia pattern in the previous box and Mr Men & Little Miss 4 Girls pattern in this month's box. We will definitely use these and I think the patterns are so cute!

The Travel Wipes for Dapple are nice. These will come in handy when we are out and need to wipe something down before she touches it. I love that these are natural and free from phthalates, parabens, and dyes. These went right into the diaper bag!

And at the bottom of the box was something I never thought I'd see in one of our boxes, since they had them in previous boxes before I was a subscriber. The Lunchie from Skip Hop. I was so excited for this. I've been wanting one forever for her and thought about just buying one, but now I'm glad I didn't! We got the owl (I secretly wanted the panda, since we received the panda utensils in a previous month), but they are honestly all cute! This made the box for me.

I was also very excited about the add on item I ordered. The 3 Sprouts Pink Elephant Storage Bin is so perfect! I've wanted one for her nursery for awhile, but just never made the purchase. When I saw it as an add on and knew I'd save a little money, plus not have to pay shipping, I couldn't pass it up. These are large and sturdy and totally adorable! I'm very happy!!!

I was very pleased with this box as usual. I also received my Golden Tote January Mystery Tote yesterday and was more excited about my daughter's Citrus Lane box than the Golden Tote for me! And if you knew how addicted I am to clothes you would not believe it, but seriously it's true. I couldn't stop talking about her box and that super cute storage bin I ordered!

Do you subscribe to Citrus Lane?

Popsugar Must Have January 2014

Rating: Love It!!!!
Cost: $39.95/month

I received my Popsugar Must Have January box today. I was trying to go spoiler free this month, but ended up peeking. Ooops! This box is always the one I look forward to most each month. I wasn't too excited after seeing the spoilers for this box, but in person I loved everything! Here's the first look.

And here is what was inside!!!

The first item was Malin + Goetz Detox Face Mask. I can't wait to try this! It's a 5 minute foaming gel that uses antioxidants and vitamins to gently cleanse pores while sealing in hydration and brightening your complexion. I'm completely sold if it can do all that! I'm trying this tonight!!!

The next item was The Juice Generation Book. I wasn't too excited about this book, but I knew just the person who would be! My guy is sooooo into juicing, so this went straight to him, and I'll get to try a few of the yummy juices! It's a win/win for both of us!!!

The Jack + Lucy Tech Gloves are just what I needed. My gloves look gross (like muppet hands) and I really need to get rid of them. These knit gloves are so soft and neutral to go with everything! So happy these were in this month's box!!!

The Rifle Paper Co. 2014 Flip Around the World Desk Calendar was my favorite thing in the box. It's gorgeous and fun pictures are different from any calendar I've seen. I can't wait to check out a different city each month! This is going right on my desk at work so I can admire it daily!!!

I also received Pipsnacks White Truffle Pipcorn, which is described as mini popcorn. I'm excited and nervous to try this as I'm not quite sure what it will taste like. I haven't tried it yet, but I hope I'll be pleasantly surprised. And this bag was quite large! I expected it to be a small bag from the spoiler pictures. I hope it's yummy!

The final item in this month's box was Revlon by Marchesa Box O' Files. These are a really cute pattern and I'm putting these right in my purse. I can always use a nail file and never have one handy. I love these!

I was so happy with everything in this box and will use everything! Popsugar Must Have continues to deliver quality items that I never thought I needed, but end up loving! I think I may be a lifer with this subscription box!!!

What do you love about Popsugar Must Have? Sign up here, so you don't miss out on next month's box.

* If you use my links in this post, I'll receive a small referral credit. Thank you!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Golden Tote January 2014 Mystery Tote

Rating: Like It!!!
Cost: $50 (Sold Out)

I finally received my Golden Tote January Mystery Tote today. I was so excited to see what was inside. I had requested to receive the Puella Savant Swing Dress (because I LOVE that dress) but I don't think they looked at any requests for these mystery boxes as they were already packaged by size and ready to ship. I knew there was a chance I would receive items I already owned and there were no refunds with the mystery totes. I thought it would still be a good deal if I got 1 or 2 pieces I liked. 

Everyone was promised a Puella dress as one of their 4 pieces. Unfortunately, I received a dress I already own. It is a different color than the one I already have though. And it's a very nice fitting maxi dress.

The next item I received was also something I received in a past tote. It was the Potter's Pot Sequin Blazer that was one of my picks from the November tote. I love it and wore it to ring in the new year, but I definitely don't need 2.

The last two items were not items I already owned. Yay! But I'm not sure I was crazy about either one. One was a Renee C ivory poncho. It's really soft and fits ok. I'm just not sure when or where I would wear it.

The final item was a Jealous Tomato print dress with belt. This was cute, but fit a little tighter than I prefer. I actually think I almost picked this dress for one of my totes, so I was happy to see this. It just didn't end up fitting me quite right.

I think the value of this tote definitely exceeded what I paid for it. The Puella dress alone is worth more than $50. I'm trying to trade some of the items on various Golden Tote trade forums. I hope I'm able to make some people happy and get some items I love! This was my most anticipated Golden Tote ever because I had no idea what to expect. 

Thursday Thoughts

I’m linking up with Jen from Ramblings of a Suburban Mom for Thursday Thoughts.

Earlier this week Jen from Ramblings of a Suburban Mom posted updates to her subscription box list and I saw one I knew I couldn’t resist! It was THE subscription box I had been waiting for….forever. What was it, you ask?!? BJB Express Box! The Blues Jean Bar Express Box was started by the retailer and is a box containing 6 hand-picked outfits by one of their stylists. You can choose to get the service monthly, quarterly, or one time. It’s similar to Stitch Fix in concept. You pay $1 deposit to receive a box and are charged for what you keep. You have up to 10 days to return the unwanted items, but if you return it in 2 days you save 20%. They have subscriptions for men and women.

I signed up as soon as I heard about it and was contacted by a stylist right away for more details. I’m so excited for this box that words can’t even describe it. I’m soooooo addicted to clothes, but denim is really my thing! I’m always searching for the best fitting, perfect pair of denim!!! I haven’t been too pleased with the items sent to me by Stitch Fix, so I’m hoping BJB Express delivers what I’ve been searching for. I expect to receive my box early next week, so stay tuned for my review!

I have a January Clean Out Contest on my blog. Enter here to win some jewelry from Bijoux Box and some samples from Birchbox!

I’m also still waiting for my Golden Tote January Mystery Tote to arrive. It should be here today! Yay! From what I’ve seen from the reviews so far, it could really be anything. I’m hoping for the Puella Savant Swing Dress that some people got in their December totes. It has adorable elbow patches that I can’t resist! I’m just hoping I don’t get all items I already own from past totes. Can’t wait to see what I get!!!