The Homegrown Collective: August 2014

In the spirit of trying out new things, I decided to purchase a couple months of The Homegrown Collective.

“The Homegrown Collective is an invitation to be a part of the growing overall collective of people who are looking to shift their lifestyle to a more local, self-sustaining, and eco-conscious way of living.”

And what’s included in their monthly boxes?

“A blend of seasonally appropriate, professionally curated and exclusive consumer items. We like items that are unique, useful, practical and exciting. In our efforts to promote self-sufficiency, environmental stewardship and sustainability…Each product will reflect the season you receive it. It will be meaningful and useful. One month you may receive the ingredients for a home-brewed hard cider to add you your Holiday season. Another month’s box may include the missing items to make a secret Native American cold remedy just in time for flu season. Every item will have a purpose and tie back to our goals of helping our Members become a little bit greener and self-sufficient. Aesthetically, some have coined it, ” Pinterest in a box”.

Box

Now I love me some Pinterest. Like I have pinterest boards for everything (seriously everything), so it was the whole “Pinterest in a Box” that piqued my interest. The thing is I’m crafty and I like a challenge, but I’m not uber granola hipster.  I also tend to get crazy busy with writing, my full time job and my hobbies so a DIY eco-friendly sub was a bit of a risk for me, but I opted to give it a chance.

I started off my subscription in August and yes, I know it’s November now. But here’s the thing. I wanted to actually make the stuff in the DIY box so I could give you a real review. It took me awhile, cause you know, stuff.
Open Box 2Open Box 1  Open Box 3

So my first box theme is: “DIY Summer Essential Home Detox Kit
Sheets

It includes natural items to make your own:

Air Freshener
Air Freshener

Oil Diffuser
Diffuser

Soy Candles
Candle Kit

So it looked like all the projects circled around using essential oils for home freshening. I actually really liked all the projects included and was excited to try them. The one small part that turned me off was that the literature repeatedly talked about how awful chemicals were and all that buzz word nonsense. Not a specific chemical mind you, just “chemicals”. Chemicals are in everything, including us. They are not inherently bad just for being chemicals. I really wished they’d keep the inaccurate propaganda out of my fun DIY box. It put a bit of a downer on what was otherwise a fun box.

Now to do the projects.

I bribed asked my boyfriend to help me since some of these involved stuff like microwaving wax and if you leave me alone for things like that, there is no telling what might end up on fire.

We start with the air freshener. It’s just dropping some essential oil into water that you put in a spray bottle. We followed the directions and you couldn’t smell a thing when you sprayed it. I even tripled the amount of oil. Nada. I ended up just dumping the air freshener later and repurposed the bottle for watering my little succulent garden. The sprayer was good quality and a nice shape and size. I may try it out again with even more oil and see if that makes a difference.
Oils

We moved onto the diffuser. This one was a little bit of a cheat since it required you to supply your own Safflower oil. Shockingly, I actually had some on hand from a Chocolate Beet Cake I’d made (no seriously, I’m really not that hipster). The glass vessel they supplied was good quality and I’m assuming you could use a different one of your choosing. I put this one in my living room.  It’s been awhile and I still don’t smell much. It is cute though and who knows maybe it is absorbing more odors than I realize.
Diffuser #2

I saved the most complicated for last. The soy candles. This is the project where I needed adult supervision since melting things in the microwave is required. It took a lot of babysitting and watching but the candles actually turned out great. The trickiest part was making sure the wick stood up straight while the candle hardened. And from giving them a sniff it actually smelled like the essential oils I added. Success! I’m not sure I’d make my own again since it seems like a ton of work for something I can get inexpensively already made, but the kit certainly delivered a nice product.
Melted Wax Candle #2

OVERALL
Full Box

Verdict: Like

While the projects weren’t all super successful for me, I really liked the idea behind the kit and I can certainly use the essential oils included for different projects. The materials in the kit were high quality and nicely packaged.  I do think that they should have included the safflower oil required for the diffuser.

I had a coupon code for my first box so I paid $36 total (including shipping)and with the discount I really thought it was a great value. I nabbed one more box to review for you all so we’ll see how my next pinterest-in-a-box turns out.

Do you like DIY projects? If so which ones?

THE BACKSTORY
The Homegrown Collective
Month to Month: $39 + $9 Shipping
3 Months: $105 + $9/month Shipping
6 months: $234 + Free Shipping
1 Year: $429 (1 free month) + Free Shipping

Birchbox: August 2014

As we’re heading into this warm September, I still have a few August boxes to show you guys. Included in these stragglers is my August Birchbox.

Box

So the usual cute Birchbox.
Box2

Now for what’s inside.
Open Box

Anyone else tired of the unbiquitous “keep calm” memes? Show of hands?

Open Box 2

This month’s theme is “Lighten up.” And it’s supposed to help us keep “cool” and laugh “our way into fall”. Interesting. Let’s see if it lives up to the hype.

Liner
Noir Cosmetics Long-Wear Eyeliner
(Retail: $15.00)
Description: Thanks to vitamin E and jojoba oil, the crayon has an uncommonly smooth texture that makes it easy to draw a rich line without pulling the sensitive skin around your eyes.”
Verdict: Miss/Gift
So Birchbox has been sending out emails to allow us to choose one sample in our boxes. Previously, I’d received my emails with no problem until the August choice, when my email didn’t take me to the selection page. I assumed that the email was only an announcement and the selection email would come later. Sadly, I was wrong. This eyeliner was one of the options subscribers could choose from.  Once I knew I’d lost my choice, I was sure I’d get this, since it was the one option that would be totally useless for me. I very very rarely wear black eyeliner. As a pale redhead I just look goth if I try to wear this outside of an evening look. I didn’t swatch this since I wanted to gift it. I’d love to see less black eyeliners in these boxes. Most subscribers have a ton of black (or don’t use it at all) and it’s not like there is much shade variation there.  How many black eyeliners do you really need?  At least with another neutral like brown or gray you have more shade variations to work with.

Shampoo
amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo
(5.3 oz Retail: $21.00)
Description: The weightless spray absorbs excess oil and dirt, leaving locks clean and deodorized as well as lighter and softer. Plus, it can be used on color-treated hair.”
Verdict: Gift
This may win the award for most adorable travel sized packaging. Unfortunately, I am well stocked with dry shampoo of both regular and travel size but I’m putting together a travel beauty kit as a gift and this will be the perfect addition.

Naobay Body Radiance Lotion
(250 ml Retail: $24)
Description: “Olive oil, shea butter, and avocado oil deliver serious moisture, while aloe vera soothes and protects skin.”
Verdict: Meh
For some reason I forgot to take a picture of this one (Sorry folks, guess old age is finally getting to me). There are so many lotions on the market, that for me to rush out and buy one it has to wow me and this just doesn’t. It’s light, the smell is inoffensive, and it seems to moisturize well enough, but it’s not compelling in any way. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but it’s just not a win for me.

BBDr. Jart+ Dis-A-Pore Beauty Balm
(1.7 oz Retail: $36.00)
Description: “”This tinted BB cream, for use on combination to oily skin, treats and tightens pores and fine lines for a smooth, even complexion. At the same time, the all-in-one formula protects skin from harmful UV rays and hydrates as it works to keep oils at bay.”
Verdict: More Meh
For vampires like me, spf 30 isn’t enough.   I have combination skin and I didn’t find that this did much for my pores (which are quite large and noticeable). I also found the coverage on this just a bit too sheer for my taste.   Another miss.

Eye CreamBenefit It’s Potent! Eye Cream
(.5 oz – Retail: $34.00)
Description: Lush hydrator that brightens dark circles and boosts skin’s elasticity over time.”
Verdict: Meh Squared
So I actually love trying out eye creams. I think they are a really important part of a skincare routine, but these packets are so tiny there’s no way to determine if this cream is effective. There are some products that can work decently in foil packets (hair styling creams, shampoos/conditioners, perfumes, body creams, face masks, etc) but eye creams and anti-aging products do not fall into that category. And while those little cardboard containers may look kind of big there is only an itty bitty tiny amount in each one. There is no way for me to judge an eye cream adequately after only 2 uses. It’s just a waste to put this in the box. Now if this had been a small tube where I could at least get a week’s worth of applications, this would have been a “love”.

 Full Box
OVERALL
Verdict:
Meh to infinity & beyond!

I’m finding the theme here to be a bit mixed. I guess the dry shampoo and the spf 30 BB cream go with the lighten up, but how does a black liner called “noir” fit into that?  Nothing about black gel liner feels “light” to me.

This was probably the biggest miss for me since signing up with Birchbox. I was super disappointed that I missed out on picking my sample since there were a few options I would have loved and that on their own would have made this box a success.

Because I made a regular Birchbox purchase with a special coupon code, I got this month’s Birchbox for free and after reviewing each item, my points earned me the equivalent of $5.00, so despite my dislike of this box, I still came out ahead.

What did you get in your August Birchbox? Did the items jive with the “lighten up” theme?

THE BACKSTORY

Birchbox subscriptions cost $10 per month or $110 per year.

Your options: Women’s Box or Men’s Box

Points System:
Whenever you buy something at Birchbox they give you Birchbox points. $1.00 = 1 Birchbox Point.
Each 100 Birchbox reward points can be redeemed for $10.00.
You can also earn points by reviewing the samples they send you (10 points per sample) and referring/subscribing friends. If your review all the items you receive in your box each month, you’ll receive 50 Birchbox rewards points!
If you purchase a full size of one of the sample items they sent you in that same month, you receive free shipping on them and often extra points.