unboxing

Influenster Frostybox Unboxing

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I know this post is hella late, and I’m so sorry! The Frostybox was the first Influenster box I’ve received, and I got a ton of awesome products of various types and brands that I’m so excited to try out (and it was all free! Who can argue with that?) This box was diverse and interesting, so let’s get right into it.

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The first thing I noticed in my box was this Ecotools Hair brush. I’ve heard great things about the Ecotools line of makeup brushes, but I didn’t know that they made hair brushes! I love that Ecotools utilizes materials like bamboo to create environmentally friendly, sustainable products. The bristles on this brush are quite fanned out, so I initially thought this was a round brush, but to my relief, it’s a regular brush (I’m afraid I’m not so adept at hairstyling and don’t know the best use for a round brush!) The vents on the tool are designed to dry the hair 20% faster, which is a concept I can get behind! I don’t like to blow dry but hate the feeling of wet hair, so this sounds like a perfect solution. This brush retails for $10.99.

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The next thing I noticed was this bottle of Rimmel makeup remover. I haven’t tried many RImmel products, but what I love what I’ve experienced from them so far, so I was very excited by this product. It claims to be gentle, remove all kinds of makeup (even waterproof and long-wearing), and is suitable for use for those with sensitive eyes and contact wearers. I always appreciate gentle products, since my skin is very sensitive. I like that it’s much bigger than my other eye makeup removers, too. This retails for $7.49

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Next was McCormick Thyme. I was pleasantly surprised by this spice, since I was expecting this box to be exclusively cosmetic items. I love that they included lifestyle things as well! A good, aromatic spice like thyme is handy in the kitchen since it’s versatile and can be used to add flavor to things from breakfast foods to baked goods. I was particularly happy to gift this to my mother during the holidays (and she was thrilled to receive it!). A bottle of McCormick thyme costs $4.79

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The next thing to grab my attention was a bag of Redvines Strawberry Fruit Vines Bites. I was curious about this, since I hadn’t heard of the brand or seen something like it before. I haven’t  tried them yet, but they seem like little licorice candies. I’m always a fan of snack foods in boxes, and everyone likes something sweet! These candies are available in stores for $1.29-$1.79.

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Continuing on was Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea. I had never tried tea before, but I’ve heard great things about Celestial Seasonings, and the candy cane flavor was cute for the holidays. I brewed this tea and gave it a chance, and enjoyed it very much! The peppermint taste was quite strong, so I wouldn’t recommend it to people who know for sure they don’t like that flavor. But I enjoyed it, and thought it was a great take on plain green tea. The info card that came with the box didn’t list a sales price for this item.

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Moving on to Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner in Black. I was excited for this product! As I said, I love Rimmel, and the look of this product is similar to my beloved Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils. I’m going to love trying this out and seeing how well the two compare! This retails for $4.49.

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Next is NYC Expert Last Lip Color in Sugar Plum. Some of my first forays into makeup were with NYC (I cringe at the thought of a matching lip gloss and nail polish I picked up in sixth grade). It’s great to see the brand still thriving, and I look forward to trying this product now that I know a bit more of what I’m doing when it comes to cosmetics! I think the color is interesting, and very holiday. This product retails for $1.99.

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And finally, the Boots No. 7 Advanced Sachet. This serum is designed to reduce fine lines and make the skin look younger. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m always interested in sampling new skincare (assuming it’ll be gentle to my skin). Anything that promises to be anti-aging is appealing, but often the formulas for these products are too harsh for my extremely sensitive skin, so I’m interested in seeing how this product works for me. A full-sized version of this product is $22.99.

I also received cupons for the Boots serum and Celestial Seasonings teas, which was a nice bonus! I know I’m so behind on posting this box, but I really enjoyed everything I saw in the box. I can’t wait to really give everything a good try. I have  a long backlog of products, but stay tuned for more in-depth reviews of the products mentioned here!

Did you get a Frostybox beauties? How did you like it? Or better yet, tweet me or leave a comment with a link to your own unboxing/first impressions post or Youtube vid!

(*I received this box and all the products included for free for testing purposes.)

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Graze Box 05 Review (And Why I Unsubscribed)

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I was always fond of my Graze Boxes. The last one I received, a week before Christmas, came with this cute tree and reindeer pattern that I thought was a special touch.The inside contents were just as good! The box’s items were delicious, so I was extra sad to part with the brand (which I did only because I’m not working right now and can no longer afford it 😦 )

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The box was delicious and had a great mix of sweet and savory items. The snacks I received were Chili Honey Almonds, Smoky Chipotle Dip With Rosemary Breadsticks, Deconstructed Carrot Cake, and Summer Berry Flapjack.

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First, I tried the Chili Honey Almonds. These were a good source of protein and vitamin E and magnesium. Spiced nuts are one of my favorite snacks, so I really enjoyed these. The almonds were glazed with chili and honey (obviously), and I loved that I got that kick of heat and the sweetness. Both flavors were distinct and present (sometimes Graze is a bit too light handed with their flavors).

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Next, I tried the Smoky Chipotle Dip with Rosemary Breadsticks. The benefit of this one is that it’s light, 100 calories. The breadsticks have a sweet herby smell. I liked that the dip was smoky but light and flavorful, kind of like barbecue sauce. A friend tried this as well and said the dip tasted like sweet and sour sauce. The brand describes the dip as a relish, which I agree with. It has that kind of texture, only slightly runnier. The breadsticks left less of an impression. They weren’t as crunchy as I expected, but they were good carriers for the dip and didn’t taste bad on their own.

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Next was the Deconstructed Carrot Cake. I absolutely l-l-loved this! The benefit of this is that it has a ton of vitamin C (70% of your daily allowance!). This was a mix of carrot chews, ginger fudge, walnuts, and cinnamon flavored raisins. It had a really yummy, spicy fragrance, like a real cinnamon carrot cake. The carrot chews had a gummy,chewy texture and tasted a bit artificial on their own (it wasn’t bad, just a bit fake-sweet). I was worried that the ginger fudge wouldn’t taste different than the vanilla fudge from the last box’s salted cookie, but it actually had an intense ginger flavor that I really liked. The walnuts were plain (which is fine by me, I love walnuts), but I felt like they absorbed some of the other flavors, which made them extra delightful. And lastly, the cinnamon raisins were tasty, but the cinnamon flavor was fainter than I had hoped. When eaten together, the taste is just extraordinary, definitely reminiscent of carrot cake. I love Graze’s deconstructed dessert snacks, and this one was definitely a hit with me.

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And finally, the Summer Berry Flapjack. I’m a fan of Graze’s flapjacks, since they’re dense and satisfying. The perk of this one is the whole oats. The “summer berry” aspect comes from “berry infused cranberries,” although which berries they didn’t specify. This had a tart cranberry smell. The taste was nice and sweet. I prefer these to other popular cereal fruit bars because these seem less artificial and sugary. These are lighter, but still chewy and a pleasure to eat.

So I’m very sad to see Graze go, because the last box I got from them was definitely a hit! Once I have more money coming in, they will definitely have a re-subscription from me. In the meantime, I can say earnestly that they’re a good brand going in the right direction with healthy snacking. I would definitely recommend Graze to anyone who was interested, because they have such a diverse mix of flavors and the creations can be pretty unique. They’re healthy, and remarkably inexpensive. What other food boxes have you tried, or heard good things about Beauties? Let me know!

04 Graze Box Review

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My fourth Graze Box featured an interesting mix of their products, with some tropical, some sweet, some savory and some unexpectedly salty flavors. Let’s get right into it.

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When Graze sends me dips, I eat them first, out of fear that they’ll go bad quicker (a fear that’s based on nothing, by the way). So I tried the Summer Berry Compote first. The perk is that it’s light, 130 calories. This is a sweet-smelling fruit jam with wholegrain shortbread dippers. I thought the jam scent was pleasant but the dippers had this weird scent that reminded me of feet. However, they tasted good together. The compote was fresh and summery, and the dippers had that delicious, semi-crumbly texture and made a good savory contrast.

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Next was the Beach Bum. This is a mix of coconut flakes, dried pineapple, and chewy dried banana coins. The perks is that this is light (90 calories) and has vitamins and minerals (Vitamin C and Maganese). This had a nice, tropical scent. The pineapple had a fresh taste despite being dried. The coconut flakes are thin, crunchy, and flavorful (although in my container, there were so many in relation to the other fruit that it was a bit overwhelming). The banana was mild, and unfortunately tends to get stuck in the teeth. This has that tropical flavor somewhat, especially when you eat all three together, but like many Graze goodies, it suffers from being too timid with the flavor.

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Next was the Sweet Mustard Ranch. This was easily my favorite thing in this box! The perk is also that it’s light (130 calories). This is a mix of poppy seed pretzels, sour cream and onion cashews, and mustard breadsticks. The flavors were so good, although if you’re expecting anything ranch flavored, you’ll be disappointed (I wasn’t, as I’m not a fan of ranch). The poppy seeds add a nice, unexpected flavor to the pretzel that’s clearly more healthful than salt without skimping on taste. The cashews were so good! You get that distinct sour cream and onion flavor, plus the richness of the cashew. The mustard breadsticks were delicious too, with a clear mustard flavor. These items taste great on their own, but create a pleasantly unique flavor when eaten together as well. I love Graze’s savory treats; they often turn out so well.

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And finally, the Salted Fudge and Peanut Cookie. I was looking forward to this new treat, as I have a major sweettooth, but I was utterly disappointed. I hate to say it, but this was my least favorite thing I think I’ve ever tried from Graze. Its a mix of salted peanuts, redskin peanuts, vanilla fudge, and mini chocolate cookies, with the perk of being a good source of protein. This just smells like peanuts, and sadly, the salted peanuts just taste like salted peanuts. I wasn’t discouraged, and went on to the redskin peanuts, which may be one of the most awful nuts I’ve ever tasted. Sadly they tasted very reminiscent of twigs, which I found quite unpleasant. The vanilla fudge was sweet and tasty, and played well with the salty elements, but the pieces were so tiny, its like they didn’t count much. And finally, the chocolate cookies were a big let down. They were salty and didn’t have a chocolate taste, just a weird bitter aftertaste. This seems like it’s just there for texture. This is one of those treats that has to be eaten together to make sense, and it comes together more that way. But it was still not as sweet or decadent as I was expecting. The redskin peanuts kind of killed it for me because of their overpowering, unpleasant taste. I was disappointed with this one.

So this box wasn’t perfect, but there were some real gems in here. I loved the Sweet Mustard Ranch! It was pretty much flawless to me. However, each other the other treats had varying degrees of room for improvement. The compote dippers were mild and smelled weird, the Beach Bum was overwhelmingly coconut, and the fudge and peanut cookie was just not for me. But as always, I love getting these boxes, and can’t wait for the surprises in the next box.

November Ipsy Unboxing/First Impressions, and why I’m unsubscribing.

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Something I love about Ipsy is the cute little makeup bags/clutches they give you each month. This glittery one is sturdy and durable, and is actually made by Forever 21 for Ipsy (according to the inside of the bag). This month, they were very generous with the samples, so let’s get right into it.

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First is Marc Anthony Oil Of Morocco Argan Oil Hairspray. I’ve heard good things about argan oil so I expect this to be somewhat good for the hair. It’s also Sulfate, paraben, and DEA free. When I sniffed it, though, it had a strange scent that reminded me of antifreeze (not good). I’m not great at doing my hair, but I’m sure this will come in handy next time I try to curl my strands.

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Next is Temptu S/B Highlighter in Pink Pearl. The packaging is a little cheap–a plastic squeeze vial, and its very small–but I reckon with a product like this, a little can go a long way. Its a liquid, so it leaves a bit of residue on the fingers, but shows up very subtle.

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Next is Be A Bombshell Eye Base in Submissive. This is easily the most exciting product in my bag this month. This has the look and feel of a MAC Paint Pot, which I’ve been eager to try. So I’m curious to see how well this works. It’s a very subtle flesh tone that I’m sure will accentuate shadows nicely. Plus, I love any kind of colored cream/gel base for layering glittery shadows over top, so I will definitely get good use out of this!

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Moving on, is Starlooks Gem Pencil in Ultra Olive. This is a nice full-size liner. It’s a wood pencil, and from the packaging  I wasn’t expecting much. But when I swatched it, I was surprised. It felt so smooth and gave great pigment in one swipe. It’s a shimmery khaki green, which I reckon will look great with my hazel eyes, so I can’t wait to give this a proper try.

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And finally, J.cat Wonder Lip Paint in Mad Splatter. This is packaged exactly like OCC Lip Tars, and have a similar mint smell, so I’m very curious how they compare. I love the shade name, very quirky. This is a sheer product, like a tinted gloss, and comes out as a soft raspberry shade, much softer and wearable, more daytime, than it appears in the tube. Which is a bit sad, since I love a vampy lip, but the color is beautiful regardless, so I’m sure this will get a lot of use.

So if I’ve been so happy with these two bags, why am I unsubbing? Sadly, because the unpleasant reality is that I can no longer afford the monthly cost. I’m sad to see the service go from my mailbox, since it was always a pleasant little bundle of joy for me. I look forward to resubscribing one day though! What did you get in your November bag?

03 Graze Box Review

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Graze Boxes are always welcome in my mailbox! This week was especially delicious, so let’s get right into it.

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First was the Twist of Black Pepper Popping Corn. I was interested in the popcorn since I first heard about the brand and was so eager to try it. Naturally, it was super tasty, with the black pepper adding flavor instead of butter. The perk of this snack is that it’s a good source of fiber, and is light (7g fat, 130 calories). The portion they give is also very generous. While it’s still a single serving, it’s bountiful and filling, so you don’t feel like you needed more than they gave you.

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Next is Nature’s Immunity Nuts, a combination of roasted unsalted cashews, Brazil nuts, and raw pistachio kernels. I admit, this was something I was a little meh about at first–how exciting are raw, unsalted nuts? Turns out, I was so wrong! This was mega delicious. The cashews, which I thought might be bland, actually had a great roasted flavor. The Brazil nuts had good crunch and had this very fresh, right-off-the-tree taste. The pistachios were mild, but rich, so the three of them together were very well-rounded and flavorful. This is a nutritionist’s pick, and boasts great amounts of Selenium and Copper.

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Third, Hot Cross Yum. I had high hopes for this, and it delivered big time! This is part of Graze’s Classics Reinvented line, a series of snack foods inspired by tasty desserts. The benefits of this one is that it’s light (130 calories), and is a good source of Vitamin E and Manganese. This was an awesome treat from start to finish–it smells delicious, like a sticky bun. The orange infused raisins were great; they almost had a rum flavor. The sponge pieces aren’t  totally hard but add a nice textural element (since they’re a bit crunchy). They taste a bit like shortbread, only softer in texture. The cinnamon honey almonds were fantastic as well, flavorful without being too strong or sweet. When eaten together, you definitely get the taste of a baked citrus dessert. Graze did a fantastic job with this one, and can’t wait to try more from this line!

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And finally, the Fruit and Seed Flapjack. This was another one of those snacks I was unsure about, and again, I was surprised by how amazingly delicious it was! It’s a rolled oat “flapjack” (think cereal bar) with dried fruit and seeds. The perk is in the whole oats. What was awesome about this was the thickness and texture: they give you three slabs, and they’re thick and dense and so tasty. One at a time is quite filling because of the density of the oat, fruit and nuts. Despite that, it doesn’t feel heavy as you eat it. It’s very fresh and indulgent, one of those “can’t believe it’s good for you” kind of treats.

As always, Graze impressed me with it’s fantastic goodies this week! I’m still a very happy customer and continue to look forward to trying more of their awesome flavors. Want to try Graze for free? Use the code JULIAR8VP when you sign up at Graze.com and your first AND fifth boxes will be free! Let me know how you like your boxes!

02 Graze Box Review

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My bi-weekly Graze Boxes are always something I look forward to. I think everyone means to eat well, but lifestyle and finances are just  a few of the things that can get in the way. Graze helps curb that by providing four healthy, delicious samples (out of 90 options). Each snack food contains at least one health benefit, indicated by an icon on the upper-right of the individual package. My second box provided a mix of of unique flavors, and was decidedly more savory than my first box.

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I wanted to try the Wholegrain Banana Caramel Dippers first (largely because they looked delicious, but also because I’m not sure how well the sauce would keep). The perk of this snack is that its light, only 150 calories, which is impressive, since it feels decadent. It has a delicious banana scent. The dippers are a pretty good size, with more than I expected included. They have a nice texture, soft and a little crumbly without falling apart. It was sweet and definitely banana flavored, but not overwhelmingly cloying. The caramel was a little bland though, not too thick, sweet, or sticky. Its an impressive treat that definitely feels a lot more indulgent than 150 calories.

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Next is Jalapeno Fiesta. I was looking forward to trying out this blend of jalapeno peanuts, salsa mesquite almonds, and roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. This snack has two perks: it’s a good source of protein, and is a good source of vitamins and minerals (Vitamin E and Magnesium). I really liked the peanuts (the bit of heat kicked in a little late) and the almonds (which had a mild but distinct and delicious flavor). The seeds were a bit meh (they’re just roasted, nothing special). I liked the taste, but I would’ve preferred if it was a bit stronger, more noticeable (its not spicy at all, and I’m not one for too much heat. But this tasty flavor is a bit watered down).

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The third item I got was Tropical Daiquiri, a portion of lime-infused raisins, dried pineapple, and dried green mango. I was least excited for this, because I’m not wild about dried fruit, but I ended up enjoying it. It had a pleasant lime scent and the flavors were better than I anticipated. I’m already a fan of raisins, and the lime infusion made them feel very summery and refreshing, almost margarita-like. I adore pineapple as well, and was pleased that even in it’s dried form, it still retained that juicy, ripe flavor. I was a bit leery about green mango, because I had never tasted it, but it had a fresh, sweet taste and pleasant texture that I ended up enjoying. Apart from this obviously being a serving of fruit, it’s also light, clocking in at only 100 calories.

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And finally, the Herby Bread Basket. Always a fan of savory, Italian flavors and carbs, I was most looking forward to this bundle, and it did not disappoint! This is a mix of mini basil breadsticks, garlic crostini, and oregano rice crackers. This had a lovely herb-y scent and was wonderfully savory. The basil breadsticks were delicious with a firm, almost pretzel-like texture with a great flavor that reminded me of pizza. The garlic crostini were just as good, with a nice crunch. As a garlic fan, I would’ve liked to see the flavor more pronounced, though, as it’s very subtle, almost missable. The oregano rice crackers surprised me, as they had a slightly sweet flavor, but it was tasty and paired well with the other flavors and textures included here. This was definitely my favorite of the four samples this week! And surprisingly, all this flavor comes in at only 100 calories.

So I was happy with my Graze box, and enjoyed the mix of flavors I was able to try. But sadly, I felt like a lot of the flavors were watered down, and could stand to be upped in intensity. But otherwise, I’m satisfied, and I’m continuing to looking forward to the next box and the unique combinations in store for me.

Ever tried Graze? Or any other food/lifestyle boxes? I’d love to know what you’re thoughts are!

October ’14 Ipsy Unboxing/First Impressions

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I’ve been wanting to subscribe to beauty boxes for so long. After seeing a ton of unboxings and reviews on Youtube, I decided to try out Ipsy, Michelle Phan’s service, first. I like that each month has a theme (October was “Beauty Candy”), and that you get a cute little makeup bag. The material of the bag was surprisingly nice–I was expecting cheap vinyl, but it could actually double as a clutch or a makeup bag for travel. Another thing I like about Ipsy is that they mix well-known brands with lesser known ones, so you get to try brands and products you may otherwise never have considered or even heard of.

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The first product I received was a full size Nicole by OPI nail polish in the shade On A Gilt Trip. Just looking at it in the bottle, it’s a pretty, shimmery pale gold. I think this a timeless kind of shade that can transition through the seasons. I love OPI, so I look forward to trying this sister brand.

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Next is Noyah All-Natural Lipstick in Deeply In Mauve. This shade looks dark in the tube, but when swatched, it was actually a pretty, brown-based berry red. It looks like it’ll be really lovely for fall. I detected no scent. I like that this lippie is synthetic-free and not tested on animals.

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Next is Skone Tattooed Waterproof Eyeliner. Sadly, I couldn’t find a shade name on the product or on Ipsy’s site. But it’s a medium dark black. Since it has a felt tip applicator, this comes off as more liquid than pencil liner in finish, so it make require the precision and patience of liquid.

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Next is Ayres Patagonia Body Butter. I really like the packaging on this product. It has an old-fashioned apothecary feel that I think is really cute. The product itself is a medium-thick white cream that feels a little luxurious, blends in easily and absorbs quickly. It does have a slightly medicinal scent though, from jasmine and rosemary (but it’s not unpleasant or strong). Of all the products I got in my bag this month, this is the one I’m most excited to try.

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And finally, Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser. Skincare is not something I’ve tried much of, but my skin is fussy (very sensitive), so I look forward to trying this out. When I “swatched” it, it felt thin, a bit runny, but lathered well without water on the back of my hand and felt nice, so I think it’ll be gentle enough to use on my face. It also has a nice, fruity-sweet smell, exactly like Pez candies!

I’m not at all disappointed with my first Ipsy. I got a good mixture of products to use all over the face. I always love adding new brands and products to my stash, as well. I can’t wait to put these babies to good use. Full reviews coming soon! What did you get in your Glam Bag this month beauties?

01 Graze Box Unboxing/Review

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I was so excited to sign up for Graze, a bi-weekly food subscription box. I’ve always been a foodie, and something like this is right up my ally. Plus at only $7 USD per box, it’s a steal. Since the service has over 90 products to choose from, and I don’t have any special dietary needs, I decided to let them surprise me completely. All 90 of their treats sound delicious, so even if I wanted to choose, I wouldn’t be sure where to start! All of Graze’s products are light and promise to be good for you in a variety of ways.

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Each box comes with four snacks, as shown above. The four included in my first box are (clockwise from top left): My Thai (Sweet chili sauce with baked soy bites), Raspberry & Coconut Muffin (amaretti drops, raspberry infused cranberries, almond slices, and coconut flakes), Morning Energizer (cherries, pear, and walnuts), and Black Pepper Pistachios (roasted pistachios with black pepper).

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The first I tried is My Thai. I liked the little chili pepper doodle on the packaging. The sauce smelled good, you could tell by the fragrance it’s intended to be more sweet-smoky than too hot (which is great, because I can’t really handle spicy foods). I really liked the way it tastes. The soy bites are seasoned and the sauce is so delicious. The bites are nice and crunchy and pair well with the sweet sauce. This product packs a lot of flavor at only 80 calories.

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Next was the Raspberry and Coconut Muffin. The perk of this treat is that it’s light (140 calories) and is a good source of vitamins and minerals (Vitamin E and Manganese, dominantly). I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it (since I’m not a huge fan of cranberry), but the raspberry-infused cranberry actually made me say “mmm.” It has a sweet taste that cuts down the cranberries’ overpowering tartness, and feels more like a more flavorful raisin. I was surprised by how well they were able to get the flavor of a muffin in here (I thought it’d be more loose interpretation). The sweetness is there, and it’s evocative of something you’d bake at home, especially if you take a small handful and get a little of everything at once.

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Next, the Morning Energizer, a combination of dried cherry, dried pear, and walnut. This one is also only 140 calories and has the added perk of being a nutritionist pick. The package claims the energy from this comes from copper and manganese. The cherries had a nice chewy texture and tart flavor. The slices of pear are generous and despite being dried, have a delicious fresh flavor. The walnuts are rich and delicious.

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And finally, Black Pepper Pistachios. This treat has only 100 calories and also boasts vitamins and minerals (protein and fiber, according to the nutrition facts included in the package). The cute squirrel doodle was actually the first illustration I really noticed on the containers. I love black pepper, but I’m not really crazy about pistachios. Sadly, the black pepper flavor didn’t come through as much as I would’ve liked (it just kind of tasted like plain pistachios), so this was a miss for me.

Ultimately, I loved my first Graze box and it was a great experience! All of the foods included were so tasty, and the fact that they’re portioned well and not so bad for you are all tremendous perks. The affordability and bi-weekly shipping are awesome, too. So far, I’m not seeing anything I don’t love about Graze.