Saturday, July 5, 2014

boxfullove umai: Candy Japan

My love affair with Japanese culture --and particular weakness for Japanese snacks-- is fairly well documented around the blog.  So you'll imagine my excitement when I discovered a Japanese candy subscription that ships out J-snacks not once, but twice a month!  An investigation was in order.

Luckily for me, Candy Japan was gracious enough to send me a complimentary candy shipment for review.  I was especially grateful, because Candy Japan is a one-man show, remarkably sourced and run and packaged and mailed by a Finnish expat living in Japan, so I'm sure he has to be mindful of his resources.  Thank you, Bemmu!

So how does the sub work?  Well, in the spirit of Japanese manga, Candy Japan put together this handy infographic (which I borrowed from its website) that does a better job of explaining than probably this entire post:
How Candy Japan works
   Subscribe to Candy Japan  We choose interesting     You get candy in the     Enjoy the candy envelopes 
                             & delicious Japanese      mail twice a month
                             candies for you

And that's basically it!  A monthly sub is $25, which includes shipping and handling worldwide (!), and includes two snack and candy shipments delivered roughly every two weeks.

This is what my shipment looked like out of its mailer:

And after shimmying out of its bubble wrap sleeve:

About as colorful as Shibuya!  Honestly, packaging is at least half the fun of Japanese candy.  Why can't the rest of the world get hip to dancing cheese wedges and prancing ice cream cones?

I'm obsessed with these handsome fellas.  They're umaibo (read: yummy) sticks, cylindrical corn puffs that come in a variety of flavors.  Think oversized cheesy poofs.  Deductive reasoning leads me to believe the guy on the left is cheese flavored, while the guy on the right is corn or corn potage (corn potage appears to be a thing among J-snacks -- who knew).

I'm willing to bet this guy also involves corn potage.  
Fine-tuned deductive reasoning skills will come in handy with this sub, as shipments will arrive (gasp!) without info cards.  Which means 99.9% of your packaging, ingredients (beware, allergy sufferers), and labels will be in Japanese.

Hey! Some English! Looks like we have curry on the left and something fishy on the right.
I find unwrapping a box of colorful mystery goodies I essentially get to blind-test really fun, but I could see how that might scare some people off.  Candy Japan will email you some days after shipment detailing the contents of the box, but I personally think it's cool that you have some time to play with your food.

Sugary goodness.
My package included a pretty varied assortment of goodies, from candy to savory snacks to sweet treats, which I also think is great.  

Possibly cotton candy on the left? Maybe animal crackers on the right?  Mad deductive reasoning skills, yo.
Incredibly, there were no Pocky and no funky-flavored Kit Kats to be found among my snacks!  I mean I'll never turn down a Kit Kat, but I will say I think they're overrepresented in the world of J-candy, so I was happy to get a more unexpected selection of treats.   

Brownie-ish bites maybe?
Although I loved receiving a huge box of treats, I don't think my snacky bounty is representative of the usual Candy Japan bimonthly shipment -- I'm presuming I got two biweeklies combined into one mailing. According to its site, you can generally expect to receive between one and three items in each package, so if you sign up just know you'll probably be receiving about half of the things you see pictured in this post per delivery.

I just hope no baby turtles were involved in the making of the one on the left.
I don't know either, but I like it.
Seen enough?  Ready to get into your own delicious, exciting, and cryptic subscription of Japanese snacks?  I don't blame you! Head over to Candy Japan to get started.

And let me know what you think!  Do you like the flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants surprise tasting element of this insert-less sub?  Would you like to know what turtle popcorn tastes like?  Are you also obsessed with umaibo sticks?  Let me know in the comments.

See you later! それじゃ、また。

This post does not contain affiliate links, referral links, or other forms of advertising for compensation. The box and products therein were provided free of charge for review purposes. Regardless, all opinions are my own and never affected or influenced by sponsorship. For full disclaimer and disclosure details, click the disclosure tab above.

Friday, June 20, 2014

boxfullove TLC :: My Cotton Bunny :: May 2014 + COUPON CODE!

Hi guys!  Back from another mini-hiatus during which the boyfriend and I took some time off work and spent a few days in New Orleans, now officially the city of my dreams.  We ate our fair share of oysters, drank some transcendent sazeracs and Ramos gin fizzes, caught amazing local brass bands on Frenchmen Street, and fought the urge to stay put and not come home.  

But alas!  We came back.

And in the interim, the lovely folks at My Cotton Bunny generously sent me one of their bundles to review, so there's that.  Yay.  Please note that it was impeccably timed, too.  What does that mean, you say?  Weeell... I'll explain.

My Cotton Bunny sends a monthly stash of feminine hygiene products along with an assortment of small goodies to keep you well stocked during that time of the month, and to provide some well-deserved treats during an otherwise relatively crappy few days.

Membership is $16 per month, which includes shipping costs.  Once you sign up, and before checking out, you get to specify your preferred brand of tampons or pads, whether you want pantiliners every other month in lieu of your usual products, and your preferred size (regular, super, or super+). 

You can also time your delivery to coincide with that visit from Aunt Flo, if you will (sorry, but period discussions automatically = unavoidable corniness), by selecting those key dates on a handy calendar.  Then input your payment info, and you're set!

These are the tamps I requested and received. Yay tamps. They're Regular Kotex Clicks: they get the job done and, as far as these things go, are pretty good-looking.  Anyway, I'm sure we're all sufficiently familiar with these that I didn't see a real need to photograph them further.

Chocolate is always, always well received chez Boxfullove, so I was really excited to find these in my bundle.  Around period time, I'm always craving rich, sweet, indulgent, milk-chocolaty treats.  I'm such a stereotype! The two bite-sized Equal Exchange dark chocos were a little too dark and stark for me, but I did love that they're Fair Trade and high-quality confections, so  brownie (pun intended) points go out to My Cotton Bunny for sourcing these. The Righteously Raw square was cool in theory (spicy chocolate!), but a little too aggressively spicy for me. These were a creative addition to the box, though I'd love to see something of the truffle persuasion, or along those lines, in future shipments. 

I was also excited to find these cute Galleon Teas tucked into my bundle.  (++ packaging points!) I may be a rarity, but I'm never upset to find tea in my subs.  It's a delicious and comforting treat, so perfect for a time-of-the-month sub.  

I appreciate that My Cotton Bunny does not remove the pads or tampons from their original packaging, so finding the little random, unlabeled hot-pink towelette was a little odd. I wasn't sure what to make of it: Body wipe? Or makeup wipe, like its LA Fresh Travel-Lite companion? Ok, ok, I wasn't mystified for long, since the My Cotton Bunny insert helpfully revealed it to be an Always Radiant Wipe-to-Go

The final treat, and the bundle's standout, was this cute sterling silver bracelet with its accompanying charms. It's very similar to a Pandora bracelet, and surprisingly high-quality, so it was a welcome surprise. It's not entirely my style, but I'm sure a majority of girls were thrilled to find this guy in their bundles.

Not bad at all for a mere $16, right?  While the total retail value of a My Cotton Bunny bundle might not be astronomical, I think the value here is in the service they provide. They do your period-supply foraging for you, so if you stick with them you'll hardly ever have to worry about depleting your stash,  or about standing awkwardly in checkout lines with your armloads of absorbent goodies. They also give you something to look forward to, a much-needed little morale boost amid all that hormonal moodiness and yuck.  

My Cotton Bunny is a fun, sensibly-priced sub, and I think it's a solid investment overall.

What do you guys think?  Interested in joining My Cotton Bunny?  Boxfullove readers get 10% off their first box with code MAYBLOGMCB.

This post does not contain affiliate links, referral links, or other forms of advertising for compensation. The box and products therein were provided free of charge for review purposes. Regardless, all opinions are my own and never affected or influenced by sponsorship. For full disclaimer and disclosure details, click the disclosure tab above.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

boxfullove soul :: Sapphire Soul :: May 2014 (+ coupon code!)

Hi guys.  I'm back after taking an unexpected break from blogging during which the boyfriend and I have been working long hours at our respective jobs, attending friends' weddings, dealing with car issues and, you know, doing life stuff.

I'm finding out that blogging is a time-consuming business, and I'm in awe of so many of you who hold it down so deftly along with all your other work and responsibilities.  I have a lot to learn about the blog/life balance, obviously!

And speaking of balance, today we'll be checking out a new sub that strives to help us achieve the equilibrium of mind, body, and soul that's so elusive to so many busy people out there.    

Meet Sapphire Soul, which mails out a monthly shipment of products "to inspire your mind, take care of your body and open your soul."  

Sapphire Soul generously sent me their small Balance Box to review free of charge.  The Balance Box costs $28 per month, and includes a curated selection of items "focused on holistic and organic health," on metaphysics, and that are "good for balancing the energy in your home."

If the small Balance Box isn't quite enough for you, you can upgrade to the large Balance Box, which costs $48 and includes a piece of crystal healing jewelry in each monthly shipment.

You can also elect to receive, instead of a Balance Box, a monthly healing jewelry bracelet ($25), a box of crystals ($7), or a box of essential oils ($16).  The cool thing about these options is that they're combinable: so if you want a Sapphire Soul sampler but especially love oils or crystals or jewelry and want more, you can sign up for a Balance Box plus any of the smaller targeted boxes to really customize your sub.


Another nice thing about Sapphire Soul is that they realize we may not all be very well-versed in the care, maintenance, and application of crystals and such, so they provide pretty detailed inserts explaining the reasoning behind the inclusion of each item, along with explanations and tips on how to use it.

The main insert (the white sheet in the background, above) notes that the focus of May's box is "the 4th Chakra, the Heart."  I don't know much about chakras, other than they're central to the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, but the insert helpfully explains that "[the] heart chakra is associated with love, and allowing yourself to open up to everything beautiful around you."  Sounds good to me!  I also learned that the heart chakra is associated with the color green, so there was a green theme throughout the box, from the crinkled packaging shavings to the enclosed candle.

This is my favorite item in the box. It's a malachite stone in its own little pouch. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, it's gorgeous, a deep green banded by dark dark rings. It makes for stunning jewelry -- my mom has a gold and malachite necklace my dad brought her from a trip to Mexico years ago, and it's stunning. From a more metaphysical angle, Sapphire Soul points out that malachite "is a wonderful protector of children" and "[helps] to lift depression and heal emotional wounds."

If I understand the insert correctly, some subscribers may have received an emerald instead of malachite in their boxes. Coincidentally, emerald happens to be the May birthstone, which ties in really well to the green May box theme!

This is a heart chakra candle, to be burned while "[focusing] on the intentions and energy you want to bring in while lighting." I confess that I was a leetle underwhelmed by this guy. It has a nice Nag Champa-y scent, but it's so... plain. I guess maybe a fancy label or tin might distract away from the focus you need to take while burning, though. Anyway, I love Nag Champa, so I'll definitely get some use out of this candle.

This heart chakra essential oil spray is "[an] exclusive Sapphire Soul essential oil blend of Jasmine, Rose and Blood Orange."  You can really make out the jasmine and orange notes, which work well together.  This blend can be used, for example, "as a perfume, fabric refresher, [or] car air freshener." Or perhaps sprayed onto this guy:

This lavender eye pillow can be heated in the microwave or cooled in the freezer to make a hot or cold pack before placing over the eyes. It's made of a soft, satiny fabric and filled with lavender and organic flax seed. It smells and feels great and, again, would probably work well with a spritz of the oil spray. The package directions indicate the mask can be used "to help alleviate migraines, anxiety, stress, mild depression, and insomnia."

I know subscription box tea is a highly divisive subject in blogger circles, but I love tea, so I'm never unhappy to find it stashed in my sub. These two little bags are Chanakara brand melon, green tea, and yerba mate blends, and called A Tea for Love & Harmony.

Last but not least is this guy, part of a crystal grow kit. When we first pulled it out of the box, we were a little confused -- it kind of reminded us of Christmas and those grow-a-boyfriend kits from the 90s (which, apparently, are still around!). How did it fit into the Balance Box? We had questions, but we decided to fill its white dish with the enclosed packet of mystery liquid, and then we kind of forgot about it.  And then this happened:

Didn't see that coming! Its boughs are made up of tiny multicolored crystals. WAY better than grow-a-boyfriend!  

And that's the May Sapphire Soul Balance Box!  What did you think?

I didn't do a price breakdown for this box, because I think the value here is in the curation rather than the retail price total, which would be difficult to calculate anyway for personalized items like the proprietary essential oil blend.

A quick disclaimer: I am totally new to the realm of oils, crystals, chakras, and Western interpretations of Eastern philosophy and religion.  I'm not much a believer in the soul, and nurture myself through books, music, travel, science, friendship, love, and food (all the great pleasures in life).  Still, I am a big fan of essential oils, think gemstones are gorgeous, and am always looking for smart ways to relax and recharge.  I think this sub is especially well suited to people who are inspired by spiritual and metaphysical traditions, but will also appeal to anyone who appreciates essential oils, crystals and gemstones, and receiving thoughtful treats in the mail.

If you're interested in getting your own Balance Box subscription, or would like to learn more about Sapphire Soul, feel free to click on any of the Sapphire Soul hyperlinks throughout this post to navigate to their website, where you'll also be able to sign up for their newsletter and receive a free PDF chakra/crystal/essential oil chart.  

Also, now through June 15, use code CHANGE at checkout: Sapphire Soul will donate $1 to a women's charity of its choice, and you'll receive a bonus item in your next box. Win/win!

And let me know your thoughts on this sub by leaving your comments below.  My blog posts may be less frequent these days, but I'm still here!

This post does not contain affiliate links, referral links, or other forms of advertising for compensation. The box and products therein were provided free of charge for review purposes. Regardless, all opinions are my own and never affected or influenced by sponsorship. For full disclaimer and disclosure details, click the disclosure tab above.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

boxfullove links :: Share Your Subscription Link Party! :: April 2014

It's the end of the month, and you know what that means...

Share Your Subscription with Unpack the Box
Hosted by Unpack the Box and MommySplurge

...It's linkup party time, courtesy of your lovely hosts Unpack the Box and Mommysplurge!

Click the party button above, and you'll be transported to a festive page filled with links to other bloggers' April subscription box posts.  Connect with other smart, witty, box-obsessed and likeminded ladies and, if you're a sub box blogger yourself, join the linkup too!

As always, cocktails optional, and BYOB.

See you there!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

boxfullove patchouli :: Glossybox review + coupon codes :: March 2014

How am I still catching up on March reviews? As I was organizing this post I completely flaked and thought this was my April Glossybox -- which, in fact, I haven't received yet. (I do tend to get these late in the month.) Oops. Too many boxes, too little time!

Glossybox' March installment was so perfumey, I could smell it right through the cardboard mailer! Which is just fine by me. I mean, a deliciously scented unboxing > a meh, bland unscented one, right?

If you're not yet acquainted with Glossybox, you can read through some of my other reviews to get an idea for how it works and what it delivers. Basically, it's a monthly subscription of luxe beauty products and cosmetics; it'll cost you $21 a month to sign up, unless you choose to prepay for a longer sub, for which you'll receive a discount; you'll earn points towards free boxes by filling out product reviews; and your boxes'll arrive gorgeously packaged every time without fail.

Fancypants photo shoot in the hoooouse.

Chock full of goodies! These guys rarely disappoint. I received three deluxe samples, two full-sized items, and a bonus gift in this box.

Glossybox partnered with Rhode Island-based jewelry design house Alex and Ani this month to celebrate the launch of their Scent 7 bath and body collection, so each box included one of three Scent 7 items: hand cream, body soap, or body mist.

As you can see, I got a soap bar, also the party responsible for the heavenly-scented unboxing.  Here's how the Alex and Ani website explains the inspiration behind the soap and Scent 7 Collection as a whole:
Inspired by ancient alchemy, and scented with warm spice and sweet floral undertones, Scent 7 Soap Bar is crafted with essential oils that embody the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. When balanced, these four natural elements assist in harmonizing one’s chi. Earth stabilizes, air calms and regenerates, fire stimulates the power of the heart, and water purifies. Created with shea butter and coconut oil, Scent 7 Soap Bar effectively nurtures the skin, increasing hydration and thoroughly cleansing the body. Invigorate your senses and lift your spirit with each use. 
The Scent 7 soap bar definitely lends itself to an invigorating shower: it packs a serious patchouli punch tempered by soapy, floral overtones. Definitely not burdened with a typically "feminine" scent, this guy is both really earthy and really fresh, which I love. If you're not afraid of strong, musky perfume (I had a phase years ago during which I only wore Hugo by Hugo Boss cologne, and my favorite detergent scent is "mountain fresh," so clearly I'm not squeamish in this department), you'll love this collection.

Alex and Ani also sent along this pretty adjustable bangle in a silver finish. I probably wouldn't have picked this out for myself, but in all honesty the swan charm won me over. Loved getting this quality bonus in my box. (Took this picture with my iPhone -- we forgot to shoot the bangle with the rest of the products, as he had already found a home inside my jewelry box!)

Another full-sized product! Woo! And an exclusive one, to boot -- this new-to-me brand is German and, from what I can tell, unavailable in the US unless purchased through Glossybox. I haven't tried it yet because my lips are crazy sensitive, and I'm scared to put anything more abrasive than a sugar scrub on them... But the moment I'm feeling adventurous, I'll throw caution to the wind and give this a whirl.

Nails Inc Brook Street Nail Polish. $9.50 for 0.33 fl oz. Sample is 0.13 fl oz, so about $3.74.

This coral-pink shade is perfect for spring, and the polish itself goes on pretty thick and opaque, so two coats give great coverage. The deluxe sample size should last through two or three pedicures at least. A promising intro to Nails Inc, which I'd never tried before. (Yes, I have a Julep obsession. It's a problem.)

Sisley Paris Black Rose Cream Mask. $158 for 2.1 fl oz. Sample is 0.38 fl oz, so about $28.59.

Alert! Alert! A full-sized version of this tube costs $158! The Glossybox info card insists that this facial mask, "rich in trace elements, vitamins and plant extracts, [is] specially formulated to act instantly on the signs of aging and fatigue to rejuvenate skin and restore vitality." For that price, I fully expect little baby peptides to jump out on two legs, plunge into the fine (ahem) lines around my eyes, and poof! make them disappear entirely. All snark aside, though, I'm excited to slather this on my face. Saving it for the aftermath of a particularly fun, overindulgent weekend. I'll let you know about the plunging peptides.

Alterna Haircare Bamboo Volume Plumping Strand Expand. $22 for 4 fl oz. Sample is 0.85 fl oz, or about $4.68.

I have super thick straight hair, so I'm not sure this is necessarily the product for me... thought it does claim to volumize while it strengthens and moisturizes hair, so I'll have to give Mr. Stand Expand a try.

Glossybox is generally a high-quality package and an excellent value, but even by GB standards, March was outstanding. Receiving the swan bangle and participating in the Alex and Ani Scent 7 Collection launch made this one extra special. Total retail value came out to $97.01 -- ridonkulous!

What did you think of the March box, ladies?  
Not a subscriber and interested in signing up for a Glossybox sub? Feel free to follow any of the Glossybox links on this page (I'll get a little commish for the favor -- thank you!) and, at checkout, type in code SHINE to score a bonus Too Faced Glamour Gloss, BONUS for a bonus Beauty Blender sponge, or PINK for a bonus Glossybox blush.  Codes are good through April 30, and only one code per order will work.  Enjoy! 

This post may contain affiliate links, referral links, or other forms of advertising for compensation. Regardless, all opinions are my own and never affected or influenced by sponsorship. For full disclaimer and disclosure details, click the disclosure tab above.

Friday, April 18, 2014

boxfullove tarjay :: Target Spring Beauty Box review

Who knew? Target has jumped on the subscription box bandwagon!

Actually, it looks like this is nothing new. I've heard rumors and stories of mythical makeup bags filled with samples that Target would release to its customers every few months, free of charge. I'm not sure whether these fabled bags were gift-with-purchase deals, or whether they were offered solo, but either way, they are no longer.  The newest version of the Target Beauty Bag comes in a cardboard box, costs $5, and features full-sized products and deluxe samples.

Unfortunately, these guys were a limited edition, and they're no longer available for purchase.  Until the next edition rolls around, I hope.  I hear (it's all rumor and conjecture with these things!) that new beauty bag releases are posted on the Target Style Facebook page, so if you want to snag one of these when they're next offered, you might want to hit "like" and follow. 

My bag came with an info card listing and briefly describing each of the included products, with a coupon for $3.00 off a Target beauty purchase of $15 or more, and a coupon for 20% off and free shipping on the dermstore, blush, and hairenvy sites.  I doubt it's an exclusive coupon, so I'm going to share it with you, too: just enter BEAUTY4U at checkout sometime before June 30 on any or all of the participating sites.

 Unboxed! Lots of deluxe sample action going on.

The loot on display: Two full-sized cosmetics and three deluxe-sample-sized hair and skincare items.

A girl can never have too much mascara, even if she is mostly loyal to one particularly foolproof and wonderful orange tube. This aerodynamic "butterfly" applicator promises to "lengthen, stretch and volumize every lash to the outer corners of the eye."  Yes, please. This looks really promising, and I can't wait to try it... once my orange tube runs out, that is.

Herbal Essences Naked Dry Shampoo. $4.99 for 4.9 oz. My sample is 1.7 oz, so about $1.70.

A girl --this girl, anyway-- can never have too much dry shampoo, either! I have long, straight hair that gets oily and goes limp fast, and short of a shower, there's nothing better to revive second- and third-day hair.  I haven't tried Herbal Essences' version yet, but I'm happy to add it to my arsenal of hair secret weapons. Also, the "Naked" in the name isn't just there for shock value: this shamp is paraben- and colorant-free, and made with natural tapioca to absorb oil. Nice!

Jergens BB Body Perfecting Skin Cream. $11.95 for 7.5 fl oz. My sample is 2 fl oz, so about $3.19.

A BB cream for your whole body? Genius idea! In practice, this cream doesn't really conceal or minimize the appearance of "flaws" (in other words, don't bother using this to camouflage age spots, spider veins, stretch marks, and the like, because it won't) as much as it adds the subtlest hint of a tinted glow. I don't know that how cost-effective it would be to buy this in place of a daily body lotion, but I would definitely use it every now and then on bare arms and legs. As an added bonus, it's really moisturizing, though light, and it smells pretty great.

Toni & Guy Sea Salt Texturising Spray. $14.99 for 6.8 fl oz. Also available as a 2.5 fl oz deluxe sample, which is the version I received, for $4.99.

This is the second Toni & Guy sea salt spray sample I've received in recent months, and I've yet to try it. I guess I'm scared that spritzing this on my roots will result in creating a matted, unwashed look rather than the preferred beachy, carefree, boho vibe. I don't know... Can any of you ladies vouch for this texturizer?

Although this might look a bit intimidating in the tube --the petal-pink color, the shimmer, and the Smoochies name kind of skew pre-teen,-- it's actually incredibly wearable in practice. The color I received, Tickled Pink, goes on sheer, and gives only a hint of flattering shimmer. It's super moisturizing and, incredibly, not at all sticky. Plus is smells and tastes like strawberry bubble gum. This one really surprised me, and I think it'll be added to the rotation of mainstay lip balms and glosses.

All in all, the Target Beauty Box adds up to a $22.26 retail value, which is excellent considering I only paid $5.00, and that shipping was free. (I know there was a temporary snafu that affected some Beauty Box purchases, adding shipping fees in error -- though I believe those shipping fees were later refunded on request.) Granted, these aren't the most exciting or cutting-edge products, they're drugstore standbys; but the way I see it, for less than the price of a mascara I would've bought at Target anyway, I received four other generously-sized beauty samples (three, actually, since the gloss was a full-size), and two coupons to boot. The Beauty Box is so cheap it's almost criminal to pass up!

What do you guys think? Was this a worthwhile purchase for you, too, or would you rather have had a different experience with the Target Beauty Box?

This post does not contain affiliate links, referral links, or other forms of advertising for compensation. Regardless, all opinions are my own and never affected or influenced by sponsorship. For full disclaimer and disclosure details, click the disclosure tab above.