Friday, February 28, 2014

Homegrown Collective Box February 2014

Today I received my Homegrown Collective GREENBOX!  I was so excited because this is my first one and I am also gifting a three month subscription to my mother-in-law for her 40th wedding anniversary.

The Cost: $39.99/month plus shipping

What You'll Get: Homegrown Collective strives to deliver seasonally appropriate, professionally curated products that deliver satisfaction of living a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle to your doorstep each month. You will receive a wonderful DIY kit that will get you on the path to "going green".  I can't tell you how much fun it is to do these projects with friends, family and even children.  This is fun for everyone all packed into a small box of wonderful!

The theme for the month is Bee-Amazed!  How sweet it is, honey!
This month is a celebration of our biggest little garden partner, the bee!  Included is all the essentials for making Honey & Sugar Scrub, Beeswax Wood Butter and Honey Beeswax LipBalm!

One thing I love about HomeGrown Collective is how they include everything you need to make each thing in the box.  This month they have even included a glass mixing bowl!  It is also very well packed.  Considering this month's box had two glass items, perfect packaging is important!

Contents: 6oz Raw Honey (very hard to find it raw, at least in my area!  Do not give to children under 2yrs), 6oz Pure Beeswax, 4oz Grapeseed oil, 8oz Organic Cane Sugar, 4 Dried log slices of Almond and Maple tree, Natural Ixtle Luffa Scrubs and a glass mixing bowl, cotton wipes, honey stirrer, sandpaper, mixing sticks and 2 lip balm containers with lids.
I plan to make some of these tomorrow.  Most likely the lip balm and  Wood Butter.  I will update this post once I do.

Verdict:  I am hooked!  This is a great value.  The Homegrown Collective GREENBOX gets you out of your comfort zone and helps you accomplish things you never would have tried.  It's worth every cent in experience alone!  It also seems a fantastic way to do a project with your kids that teaches as you go.

Update: Read the Complete Verdict here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Second Round of Soap

The day after my Arabian Spice soap disaster learning experience, I tried again.

This time I had spent a lot of time online trying to figure out how people made fun and fancy, colorful soap.  I had food coloring but while you can use it, its not the best.  I went to Michaels and got some actual soap coloring.  I now owned gold, wine and orange colors.

Previously, I had gone through my scents again and picked out the ones I thought probably weren't the best for soap and put them aside. I also was ready to do something more interesting that flat, skinny soap.

I found a tutorial online for making "soap rolls".  This is basically doing what I already had done.  Make really flat soap... Then roll it up like a cinnamon roll before it gets too hard.  The roll is then sliced and you have 1/2 inch curls of soap before you.  These can then be place in your soap mold and another batch of soap can be poured over them.

As you can see, this time I used my Birchbox instead of the larger Glossybox.  I also used better scents!  These are Lemongrass with Orange Valencia swirls!  I secretly am in love with them.  I think they look pretty good for my second try.  I used clear Melt and Pour Glycerin Soap for the regular par t of the bar and the White Base with Shea Butter for the swirls.  You might be able to tell that the top is kind of lumpy and thats because the soap went gloppy as I was pouring.  It got too cold I guess.  I was trying not to  melt the swirls that I had placed in the mold. I have since learned that instead of continuing to pour, I should have just thrown it in to the microwave for ten seconds to melt it again.

It smells SO good!  I added some cosmetic grade glitter to it, too, so it sparkles.  DH wasn't to thrilled about that until I promised him it would not make him sparkle if he used it.  I knew this because the second these were solid, I hopped in the shower to try it out.

So my second time around I learned to be a little creative, that Birchboxes make excellent soap molds (4 perfect bars), and that a little less sparkle will be just fine.

Also, lemongrass might be the best soap scent on earth!

Soap Making!

I never thought I would be the type to make my own soap.  I don't think I ever thought it was possible without a lot of work and a ton of messiness.

For Christmas this year, a friend of mine gave me some soap she had made.  She is the ultimate in craftiness.  She paints, soaps, sculpts, makes pottery that can actually be used, she blows glass, etc etc.  She is quite possibly the Queen of All Craftiness.  I am not.

So, I assumed that because the Craft Queen made soap that it was probably something the average non-crafty person couldn't do.

Luckily, I was wrong!  There is an easy way to make soap and then there is an even easier way.  I know, who thought that was even possible?!  Dove is making a killing!

I researched soap making online.  We all know the internet is the source of all information, true or otherwise.  In this case, my researches were productive. is very informative and good for people who don't even know what a "trace" is.  People like me.

The internet is also good for buying things.  It's really easy to buy things like subscription boxes and things you don't need but because you saw it you desperately want it.  My foray last week was a little of both.  I found everything I needed to make soap and then I found a little extra.  I do recommend Brambleberry as a great place to start looking for soap making supplies. I do not recommend Bulk Apothecary because their shipping is outrageous and they didn't even include a single sample.  I also used and CandleScience as sources of Fragrance Oils. 

After my packages arrived and I opened them all, smelled all my fragance oils and essential oils, and set everything up, I got started. 

For my first soap project I used Melt and Pour glycerin soap with shea butter and mango butter.  This is a white soap.  In the process of my researches, I discovered that anything with Vanilla will cause your soap to turn brown.  Other oils will also turn your soap colors but vanilla is the worst, I guess.

I had read that you can use anything as a mold as long as you line it.  So I lined my Glossybox and got to work.  I melted one pound of soap, mixed in a deliciously mouth-watering Arabian Spice scent and poured it into the box.

And then my soap was done about half an hour later.  Ready to cut.  This is when I discovered the mistakes I made.  The good thing is that none of my mistakes meant I had killed the soap.  It was still soap.  Just not... ideal.  First, it was too thin.  The Glossybox was too big for one little pound of soap.  I got six really skinny bars.  Second, while Arabian Spice smells like heaven (cinnamon, clove, orangey awesomeness) it is not the best scent to rub all over your body in the shower.  Thirdly, white is boring.  So, my first foray into soapmaking was fun, easy and I learned what NOT to do.

Back to research.

PopSugar February 2014

PopSugar Must Haves Box was probably the very first box I signed up for.  It was not the first box I received but it was the one that started my subscription box spiral.
Inside this box was a Gorjana Griffin Jewelry roll with a $25 gift card, Nourish Organics Argan Oil Face Serum, ModelCo LipGloss/Lipstick, NCLA Rodeo Drive Nail Polish, Sugarwish RedHot candies with a 20% off coupon, K.Hall Designs Peony Travel Candle and Dial Body Wash.

My thoughts:

Of all of these things, the ones I will use are the ModelCo lipgloss/lipstick combo, the Dial Body Wash and the Nourish Organics Face Serum.  Oh, wait.  Yes, I ate the candy already.

The NCLA nail polish is too dark for my taste.  A very dark maroon red.
The Peony candle is so adorable!  It does smell like peonies but I don't care for floral scents.  So this will be a gift.  Or likely a stocking stuffer for some lucky person. :)
I don't particularly need a jewelry roll.  I tend to go very light on the jewels when leaving town.  But I did trade this on a Swap site for something so awesome I can't remember what it was.

That's another thing.  There is a thriving Swap underworld!  I had no idea until I got into this.  When you get something you won't use in a box--swap it to someone who will for something else!  Because so many of the boxes are a complete surprise to the recipient, there will always be things that can't or won't be used for a multitude of reasons.  There also appears to be a certain etiquette to swapping but I haven't quite figured out what it is.  More research is required!

Back to the Popsugar box.  I was happy with this box.  If you are interested in purchasing a Popsugar subscription or even a one time box, you can use my referral code, if you like, by clicking here.
The Popsugar MustHave Box is $39.99 but you can save $5 by using the code: REFER5

Subscription Boxes are Amazing!

I've just recently discovered something wonderful.  Namely, the world of Subscription Boxes.  Within the last few years subscription boxes have become all the rage.

You can get anything delivered to your door if you are willing to pay for it.  Starting with make-up and skin care products, continuing to Geek Tech and dog toys and on to Dinner for Four (or two) and a little something to pick you up around that time of the month.  Yes, it's that varied.

I still am not quite sure how I stumbled upon this remarkable world of things you don't actually need but are really fun to get in the mail.  I was enabled in my subscription box acquirement by a lovely lady who runs a blog called My Subscription Addiction.  Yes, she posts regular reviews of every box known to womankind.  I'm not sure what she *does* with all the stuff she receives because I've only just started this and I'm already feeling a  little overwhelmed by all the little bits and pieces I've acquired.

I've tried to be very sensible about my new love for packages sent right to my front door but I do admit that I might have gone a teensy bit overboard.

For instance, I'm not a huge make up user yet I've subscribed to several make-up boxes.  With the intent, of course, to use what I receive and branch out into new make-up-applying territory.  Shockingly, its actually worked!


 Gift of Maven
My husband is loving my freshly painted nails.  This is thanks to Julep.
Julep is a subscription box almost exclusively for nail polish.  They have a monthly box for Julep Mavens.  Each box is packed with nail colors and beauty products geared toward you and the answers you chose on their style quiz.

If you would like to try Julep Maven, use the code FREEBOX and you will receive your welcome box for free. Regular Maven pricing is $19.99 a month.  Frankly, I signed up for my free box then cancelled because I just cannot go through that much polish.  I did, however, buy their special Cupid Mystery Box.

I also have been subscribing to Glossybox.  Glossybox sends five luxury beauty products each month for $21.  I'm really happy with them because they sent me the best lotion on earth called Vichy Aqualia Thermal.  It's a rich cream that hydrates like nothing else I've ever tried.
The products are high quality and the sizes are deluxe samples.  Not full size but definitely big enough to use many times and really get an idea of how you like it. They have a program where you get points (Glossydots) for each box you receive and for each review you leave on their website for the products you got in your box.  Get 1000 points? Get a free box! 
One caveat for Glossybox is their shipping schedule.  They charge you at the beginning of the month but don't ship until quite late.  For instance, I was charged on February 8th but my box just now shipped on February 26th.  Meaning its quite likely that I wont receive my February box until March.  I personally don't mind as long as I get the box.

I've also subscribed to Barkbox for the dogs, Ipsy for make up, Blush Mystery Box for skincare and Memebox for interesting Korean beauty products!  I've subscribed to Homegrown Collective which provides a DIY kit once a month.  This month was homemade lip balm, sugar scrubs and wood butter.  SO fun!  I subscribed to a man box called Bespoke Post for DH.  And many (its bad, I know) more!

I don't think I can tell you how much fun I'm having finding, ordering and writing about these boxes!  Its really a lot of fun and I'm enjoying it.