Friday, 21 November 2014

Amoda Tea is BACK!

Box: Amoda Tea
Price: $18/month, including shipping
Ships to: North America
What’s inside: 4 different teas (3 cups each), tea filters 

Some of you may have remembered one of my favourite Canadian subscription boxes, Amoda Tea. Check out my previous blog posts about this sub here! I really love this company -- I even had a personal phone call with one of the owners, Darryl McIvor, to discuss what I liked about the company and learn about where they were heading. 

They ended up shutting down their subscription service a few months ago to focus on their storefront, which carries a variety of teas from several companies, many of which are local or ethically source from other countries. Though I know the quality of the teas is generally great, the thing keeping me from pulling the trigger on their regular store was the shipping costs. 

But now they're back! Here are differences between the old box and the new:
  • 4 different teas, instead of 3
  • Each tea sample makes about 3 cups, instead of 5-7
  • Tea filters are included with the box -- no need for your own strainer
  • A tea-sipping playlist is included with their usual tea-tasting notes and steeping instructions
  • $6 increase in price, from $12 to $18
So, do I think the price increase is worth it? Somewhat. Before, the box was incredibly great value, with 15-21 cups of tea for $12 -- less than a dollar a cup. Now, it is 12 cups for $18, $1.50 per cup. This is still not unreasonable, considering how much it can cost to buy loose leaf tea elsewhere, much less a good curation from a wide variety of companies -- plus shipping.

Am I going to resubscribe? I'm pretty sure I will. I'm moving things around in my budget and I do believe I'll be able to re-subscribe! With a cold winter coming, I can't wait. 

If you'd like to try out Amoda Tea's new box, use code WELCOMEBACK to nab your December box for $12.  

If you're not ready to commit to a monthly subscription, try out their single Tasting Boxes! I recommend the Must Haves, which contains Duchess' First Love, a tea I've reviewed in the past. Rainy Days contains one of my favourite sweet teas of all time, Caramel Toffee.

Happy tea drinking!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Ipsy November 2014 Review

Box: Ipsy (Referral link)
Price: $10/month, $110/year; $4.95 shipping to Canada
Ships to: North America
What’s inside: Various beauty product samples and full size products, very roughly personalized

This month's Ipsy features a glittery silver bag. The bag itself is actually coated in plastic so there's no fallout nor that gross sandpaper feeling. It's not my style though... but how about the products?

be delectable from Cake Beauty ultra nourishing hand cream in Coconut and Cream 60mL/2fl oz || Value: $6
Beneficial ingredients of note: glycerin (second ingredient), coconut oil (halfway through list), shea butter (halfway through list), coconut extract (last half of list), aloe juice (last half of list)
Detrimental ingredients of note: fragrance (first half of list; 9th ingredient)
I don't usually list glycerin as a beneficial ingredient even though it is, because it's so commonplace in any skin care item. The fact that I did is because this hand cream doesn't have much else going for it. There is more fragrance in this than coconut oil or shea butter! I could smell this through the packaging. Luckily, I got one of my favourite scents ever -- super sweet coconut. That alone is enough to make me use this, but not as intended. By my standards, this is not a hand cream, but a fragrance. It is ridiculous how strongly this smells. If I ever want to smell like coconut (which I do, all the time), I will use this. But only a little bit.

Beneficial ingredients of note: bentonite (second ingredient), witch hazel water (fourth ingredient), kaolin, niacinamide
Detrimental ingredients of note: plenty of potentially irritating botanicals, including lavender extract; fragrance (second last ingredient)
Oh, Glamglow. This is my first Glamglow product because I've hesitated to dig a hole in my pocket. $20 for this little sample! A lot of people really love this brand, but many argue that you can make the same at home without the added preservatives, botanicals, and fragrance. I agree, but there's something about the brand name which makes me so curious! I don't think I'll ever splurge on it myself, but I'm glad that I can try it now. I'm saving this mask-type cleanser for a pampering day.

Starlooks Gem Eye Pencil in Ultra Orchid Full size || Value: $17
Beneficial ingredients of note: none
Detrimental ingredients of note: none
I'm still a newbie to Starlooks, so while some are tired of this brand, I am absolutely not. I've been thinking about getting into coloured eye liners lately, and I got my favourite colour -- a deep purple. It's faintly shimmery, maybe with a hint of glitter. I can't wait to gather up the courage to try wearing it out. 

 J. Cat Beauty Wonder Lip Paint in Mad Splatter || Value: $4.99
Beneficial ingredients of note: none
Detrimental ingredients of note: parfum (second last ingredient)
This is my first lip tar, and such an affordable one! Others I've seen, such as the famous OCC lip tars, are quite expensive, even as samples. A tiny dot of this managed to produce the swatch below, which means this will last me just about forever. It will be great practice for me to decide on whether I'd like more of the same.

Be a Bombshell Eye Base in Submissive Full size? || Value: $14?
Beneficial ingredients of note: None
Detrimental ingredients of note: None
With nothing to compare it to, and no weights listed on the BaB website, I have no idea if this is full size or not! This is 0.09 oz, or 2.55 g. There have been a lot of complaints about this company concerning quality control. The mascara from a few months ago in particular was pretty rancid, if I remember correctly. This eye base seems totally fine in quality and its colour -- a subtle, shimmery taupe-brown -- is a good neutral. The fact that it comes from a company I'm not a fan of is clouding my opinions, though. I'm not sure if I will use this yet, since I have plenty of neutrals already.

Top to bottom: BaB, Starlooks, J. Cat
When I swiped this swatch with a finger before completely dry, the eye base proved itself to have zero staying power. I'm worried about how well it would stay on my eyes, which are quite oily. There was shimmery goodness all over my arm that would move everywhere, but not come off. It was basically gone after a quick hand wash. The eye pencil stayed very well; there was some smudging with my finger but it proved to be decently waterproof. The lip paint, after initial smudging due to not being dry, had incredible staining. After three hand washes and a shower, I could still see where I swatched it. I am very impressed with it, though I haven't used it on my lips yet.

Ipsy can be up or down for me, and this bag manages to be a bit of both. I am over the moon with the Glamglow, Starlooks, and J. Cat, as they are products I've been thinking of trying for ages and/or in colours I enjoy. The hand cream, while terrible ingredients wise, is one of my favourite scents. The eye base is rather disappointing though could technically get used, and the bag isn't going to be used at all. I paid $15 and got $62 worth of items; most coming from the Glamglow. Even without the dubiously full-sized eye base, I got over double what I paid for. So far, this bunny is sticking with Ipsy. Here's to next month!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Golden Tote October 2014 Review

A little late to the punch (when am I not?), but I decided to try and actually wear the items from my Golden Tote before reviewing! So here goes!

Box: Golden Tote (Referral link)
Price: $49 (1 chosen item + 1-2 surprise items), $149 (2 chosen items + 3-5 surprise items), ($25 flat rate international shipping)
Ships to: International
What’s inside: Clothing

October's tote partnered up with Keep A Breast to bring a special bag as well as a small gift, with proceeds going to the organization. I thought that was very kind of them and I'm always glad to help support breast cancer research, because it has affected my family quite a bit.

This month, I got a $149 tote and two add-ons, which is what I'll start with!

Merrick for Golden Tote Swing Dress in Teal (XXS) (cut+sew) || Value: $35
This dress refused to photograph. It is not quite a teal; I would call it more a deep (but not dark) cobalt blue. This is super comfortable; heavy enough for fall but light enough for a cool spring day. I did find that it wasn't flattering on me without a belt. It's just a touch too big on me in that way, but it looks great once belted. I was eying this since they released the initial colours in the summer, and I'm so glad I finally have my hands on it.

Vegan Leather Moto Jacket (S) (Thread Supply) || Value: $75
I was a bit worried that this would me too large for me, as I normally wear XS -- but this is pretty much perfect on me! A little roomy but that is what I wanted, in order to layer underneath. The arms are a touch long, but that's because I'm pretty short (5'0). This vegan leather jacket doesn't smell at all, and comes with a fabric hood that can be rolled up and zipped into the jacket. It has a little metal buckle at the collar if you decide to zip and button it up all the way. The lining is polyester, which is the only thing I didn't care for in this jacket. Otherwise, it's perfect and I expect to wear this very often.

Next, my two chosen items for the tote:

A-Line Swing Dress in Blue (XS) (Skies are Blue) || Value: $35 (original $46)
I was initially so-so about this dress, and only really picked it because I wasn't sure what else to get. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this dress is a slightly heavier polyester/spandex mix, making it very comfortable yet warm enough to wear on a fall day. Unlike the Merrick, I found that this looks fine unbelted as well. It's super versatile, as I can wear it with or without leggings and/or a belt, and the sleeves look nice both down and rolled up.  

Jetsetter Jacket in Beige (S) (Skies are Blue) || Value: $50
This faux-suede jacket felt really nice, and draped wonderfully and comfortably. Unfortunately, it was just too long on me, and I didn't feel like it was worth taking to a tailor. I've since sold it to someone on the wonderful Golden Tote Trading Group on Facebook. Absolutely wonderful quality, just not my size.

Now come the surprises! This month, I got four.

Southwestern Cardigan in Jewel (XS) (cut+sew) || Estimated value: $40?
Okay. This is absolutely beautiful in colour, flattering in cut, and super comfortable on. Except... the very first request in my comments was no tribal. I know that many Native American people are uncomfortable with the tribal print trend and in support of them, I refuse to wear tribal print that is not made by them. Regardless of my political affiliations, it's disappointing that my stylist chose this. There were multiple other surprises to choose from! I wish this came in a plain colour or pattern, because I really do want to wear it. The pattern is beautiful, but for things that other people hold special in their culture I prefer the "look, don't touch" approach, myself. This is up for trade/sale.

I hung the bracelet from Keep a Breast in this photo, because it is similarly tribal. I'm glad I somewhat donated to the organization, but this bracelet will not go to use.

Elbow Patch Dress (S) (Fantastic Fawn) || Estimated value: $30?
I actually really liked this, but it isn't my usual style and I know it wouldn't get used as often as I would like. It's also a little too curve-hugging for me to be completely comfortable, and the elbow patches are just a touch too low on my arms to look good. This is also up for trade/sale.

Blouse in Blue (S) (Naked Zebra) || Estimated value: $40?
I couldn't really come up with a name for this shirt, nor could I find it on the Naked Zebra website. Most of the clothing on their website runs $45 and up, but I wouldn't personally value it at that. This shirt is very flow-y, with a button-up back. The back is a bit longer than the front and is somewhat translucent; the front has an extra layer to cover up. Again, this is a bit big on me and not flattering, though others make it look great. I wish I got the teal colour!

Cowl Neck Sweater in Ivory (S) (Le Lis) || Value: $30?
I saw this in the spoiler images before the sale and knew it was totally my sort of style, and requested it. The knit on this sweater is nice, but it's done in a way that is very, um, loose. That is, I wouldn't recommend this for cool weather, because the wind goes right through it -- you can see your skin if you pull on the fabric slightly, and most bras would probably peek through if not a neutral colour. The waist and bottom of the shirt also leave much to be desired -- it's not fitted at all and is actually very unflattering on me if I don't have it tucked in the front. I also find this to be incredibly fragile -- I wore it for a day and found that the slightest point would catch on the fabric and pull little threads off, even my hangnails. Still, I like it. But I don't feel like it's going to last a long time.

Overall, I paid $254 including international shipping, and received maybe $335 worth of clothing. I love my two extra items and both my picked items (though one just didn't fit right), but my surprises were really disappointing to me. Luckily, the GT Trading Group is wonderful and there is almost always someone looking for any item I don't care for!

I still recommend Golden Tote, though not as much for people who are XS and petite because many of their items just do not cater to that population. They are very good at pointing out items in the boutique that are suitable for XS buyers, and they do note length on most items, so keep an eye out for those. The models themselves are typically 5'9-6'0, as well. Good luck tote-ing!