Nina Garcia Quarterly Box: March 2014 (#NGQ02)

Okay peeps, it’s that time again.  That oh so special time of year when the Nina Garcia Quarterly box shows up on my doorstep!  This is only the second box in the subscription and yet it’s at the top of my favorites list.   Quarterly is a service that offers quarterly subscriptions curated by all kinds of interesting folks who send select items in their special area of expertise.  Nina Garcia of course is a “Style Expert” and this is a fashion and beauty focused subscription.

BoxOpen Box 1

I was super excited to see what the theme of the box would be. Nina Garcia invites us to celebrate her fifth anniversary with Marie Claire and the arrival of spring.   So it turns out it is a “celebration box that includes a mixture of accessories, beauty products and home items”.

Once again the first thing in the box is a lovely letter from Nina describing her items and why she’s chosen them.  The inclusion of personal and detailed letters from the curator are a feature that make Quarterly stand out from a lot of the other boxes.  The letters make these boxes feel extra special and like the curator took time and care putting the box together.

Open Box II
Okay, okay enough backstory, let’s get into this box!  Drumroll, please…

TshirtMuy Cool T-shirt by SpƎnglish: (Estimated Retail: $55.00)
Nina’s Description:  This oversize tee can be worn dressed down with jeans and stylish sneakers, or dressed up with a skirt and blazer.”
Verdict: Love!
This is a special edition T-shirt created especially for Quarterly subscribers and includes Nina’s signature on the tag.  I was incredibly surprised to find a sized item in the box since Quarterly doesn’t ask for that info.  Amazingly the shirt came in a size I can wear (large) and I think it will fit great.  I love the flared cut and because it can be worn “oversized” it will probably fit a lot of the smaller folks as well.  I do think including this was a gamble since it won’t fit everyone, but for me personally I love it.  Because this is a special edition, I’m estimating the value based on the only women’s tee available on the SpƎnglish site.

Sterling Silver Shark Tooth Necklace by Sara Beltran:  (Retail: $100.00)
Verdict: Miss
Nina’s Description:  “It’s an incredibly versatile piece—you can wear it alone, or mix it up with other necklaces to create a bolder statement.  Its happy and brightly colored cord will seamlessly transition from spring into summer and the silver shark tooth gives it a trendy edge.”
My first instinct was that this looked cheap and sort of dated.  Color me shocked to find out it actually costs $100.00.  I like the daintiness of it, but the shark tooth just doesn’t feel fashion forward.  I do think it might be cute layered with some other pieces, so I’ll give that a shot.  If the pendant had been something that felt a little more fresh I would have adored this item.

Nail Polish
O.P.I “Greenade” Polish (Estimated Retail: $9.00)
Nina’s Description: “As with clothing and accessories, nail polish also changes from season to season.”
Verdict: Miss
This is another exclusive item for Nina’s Quarterly subscribers.  You all know I love polish and O.P.I is the first brand I really started using.  I like their polish, but this shade will in no way work for me.  I think this bright yellowish green is  a really hard color for a lot of folks to pull off.   I also don’t get a Nina Garcia vibe from it.  It’s not a color I imagine her wearing—even in spring.  I’m sure someone else will enjoy it though so I’ll probably trade this one out.  Since this is another exclusive I based the value on regular O.P.I. polishes.

C Wonder Delicate Skull Cuff:
 (Retail: $34.00)
Nina’s Description: “This fun bangle can be worn alone or stacked with other bracelts you wn to create a signature look.”
I don’t know about you but for me “skulls” do not scream out springtime (or celebration).  If this had come in a fall or winter box, I’d probably like it, but I’m looking for birds and flowers right now, not skulls and shark tooths.   It kind of looks like something I could pick up from a discount accessory place.  After googling, it seems like other folks got different styles, so I may have just been unlucky.  I may try it out with some other bracelets (like my hot pink gorjana and griffin from a long ago popsugar box) and see if I can “spring” it up.

ReVive’s Moisturizing Renewal Serum : (Retail: $??? Full Size: $235.00)
Nina’s Description:  “I wanted to include some of my favorite beauty products that turn back the clock for my skin.  Apply..every night and you will wake up feeling naturally refreshed with dewy skin.”
Verdict: Love!
So throughout my boxes I am quickly accumulating a billion serums, but I love trying out uber fancy pants expensive products so I’m excited to give this one a shot.  I hope I don’t love it too much because $235 for one beauty product is not going to happen.

Wallet Wallet Open
Wallet from Charming Charlie(Retail: $15.00)
Nina’s Description:  “The radiant floral print will be the perfect finishing touch and pop of color for all your spring outfits.”
After this never-ending winter, I’ve been craving florals so this cheerful wallet was a nice addition.  It is extremely practical with lots of slots for cards and the hardware has a rose gold color that is really nice.  I don’t know if the fabric on the wallet will stand up over time, but it’s an extremely affordable piece so if it lasts for just a season I’m fine with that.

LAFCO “Fleurs de Baies” soap (Retail: $17.00)
Nina’s Description:  “The scent leaves subtle floral notes on your skin without being overwhelming, and the packaging is beautiful.”
This is a lovely soap and Nina is right the packaging is beautiful, but the scent is just not for me.  I’m super picky and sensitive about scents and this one is too reminiscent of heavy old lady flower perfumes.  I’m going to gift this to someone who will love it and appreciate it.

Tom Ford’s “Jasmine Rouge” Perfume (Retail: Freebie/Sample; Retail – 1.7. oz: $210.00 )
Nina’s Description:  “…Jasmine Rouge as another way to get your floral fix…this scent is lovely and I like the finish.”
So like I said fragrances for me are problematic.  I hated this one.  It was too strong and overpowering.  I think a lighter floral would have been better for spring.  Despite my perfume pickiness, I do think spring is the perfect time to pick out a new fragrance so including one was a good idea.

Laura Mercier Bonne Mine Compact (Retail: $48.00)
Nina’s Description:  “…contains neutral colors for blending, to give your skin a fresh spring glow.  Additionally..100% of the proceeds to go toward the Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund, which is a cause close to my heart.”
I adore Laura Mercier and use her products regularly.  I’ve been eying plenty of cream cheek products for spring but luckily haven’t committed yet.  This product looks like it will work well with my skin tone and I’m going to have fun trying it out.  The best part is not only does this palette make you pretty and the proceeds go to charity, so this is officially my favorite item in the box.

Donkey Co. Tea Bag (Retail: €$7.95; USD $10.97)
Nina’s Description:  “Donkey Co. makes absolutely adorable tea bags and in honor of my 5th anniversary at Marie Claire, they created a Nina Garcia 5th Anniversary Marie Claire Special Edition of their Pret-A-porter.”
So now I can have morning tea with Nina Garcia!  Well, sort of it.  It’s a fun little whimsical addition and I’m trying to broaden my tea horizons so I’m going to give this one a shot.  Since this is special edition, I based my prices on similar tea bags from their site.

X Pen Ballpoint Pen (Retail: $??? Estimate: $8.00)
Graphic Image Pocket Notes Notebook:(Retail: $36.00)
Nina’s Description:  “This X-pen ballpoint pen is both functional and fashionable—an accessory that works with any outfit.  The graphic image pocket notes notebook is the perfect size (and weight!) to carry around with you on a daily basis.  I think there is something classic about taking handwritten notes and keeping a personal touch.”
These guys were packaged together so I figured I’d review them that way.   I hoard blank notebooks so this is right up my alley and I love high quality pens. For spring I had planned to re-organize my workbag and these items will be my new go-to pad and pen.  I couldn’t find the retail value of the pen so I’m estimating it at $8.00.

Happy Chic By Jonathan Adler (Retail:12.00)
Nina’s Description:  “The modern design on this Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler picture frame makes it perfect for holding some of your fondest memories.
I guess this item was included because Nina is the “resident style voice at JC Penney” and they want us to know they have low budget Jonathan Adler items.  Problem is this one is boring and the quality on it is pretty cheap. It looks like something you’d get on sale at Target.  Don’t let the Jonathan Adler name on this fool you, you could spend the same amount at TJ Maxx for a similar but much better quality frame.  I think other folks got different designs, which I may have liked more than this one.

Philosophy’s Time in a Bottle Serum (Retail:74.00)
Nina’s Description:  “For long lasting beauty, start your morning with philosophy’s time in a bottle serum.  Its impressive cocktail of antioxidants will protect and perfect your skin.  I use it on a daily basis to keep my skin healthy and smooth.”
Another serum?  So I guess we have learned that serums are really important and this is Nina’s day serum.  It’s been a long time since I tried a Philosophy product so it will be nice to revisit the brand.  Although at this point  I’m going to need to create a spreadsheet to figure out when to use all the serums I have now accumulated.

Marie Claire
Marie Claire Magazine & Fausto Puglisi Collage (Retail:4.99; Freebie?)
Nina’s Description:  “one of the most special items in the box is the illustrated Fausto Puglisis Collage which he create din celebration of my 4th year at Marie Claire.  I adore Fausto’s runway collections.”.
We all know there will be Marie Claire in the box and I always enjoy reading the magazine.  I understand the idea behind the collage and it’s a nice thought, but it’s not particularly attractive and I don’t know many people who would want to put this up on their wall.  Sadly, it will most likely end up in the recycle bin.  So sorry, Nina.

Full Box

The tshirt, notebook/pen and cheek palette made this box for me.  Unfortunately, there were also a lot of misses, but the value on this is so high that overall it was still an uber fabulous box.  I paid $100 for this and received about $420.00 worth of items even excluding the cost of the two sample items.

While I do love this box, I found her first one to be much more cohesive and on trend.   Perhaps the nature of the “anniversary” and “my favorite things” pushed this box into being less thematic and more random.  I had been hoping for an amazing spring fashion box and I did get some great items for spring, but this box had quite a few things that felt out of place for the season.

I’m interested to see if the next box is more thematic (like the fall) or more eclectic like this one.  And as usual I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

If you’re interested in the celebrity boxes at Quarterly, check back soon because I should be receiving the Andrew Zimmern box shortly!

Which box did you like better?  The November box or this one and why?

Neiman Marcus Popsugar Must Have Box – November 2013

So it came.  Finally.  The holy grail of subscription boxes.  The now infamous Popsugar Special Edition Neiman Marcus box that cost $250 and sold out in 12 hours.  I have one and now it’s time to see what’s inside it.

BoxBox Half Open

To start, this frick’n box is so heavy that there has to be something breakable in there.  Only stuff fragile stuff can weigh this much. If I thought the $100 Fall style box was luxurious, this was like it’s uber snobby, super rich, older cousin. The box itself is really high quality and I plan to reuse it for storage, so we’re already off to a great start.

Neiman Box Open Wrapped

Chevron Printed Throw:(Retail: $195)
Verdict: Hit!
This item was the spoiler Popsugar released when the box was first announced.  The big question was what color you’d find in your box. I ended up with the gray which is the shade I wanted.  I had planned to gift this if I ended up with certain colors, but sorry suckers, this one is mine.

Jonathan Adler Carnaby Zebra Stacking Dish:
(Retail: $24.00)
Verdict: Gift
We’d been told this box would include something by Jonathan Adler.  Now I love me some little dishes for rings, keys or paperclips, but I’m just not feeling the design.  I got the navy blue and, something about the navy + animal print just isn’t working. It’s like nautical, but not. I think if this had come in the shiny gold they offer on the Jonathan Adler site I’d have loved it.  As is, I’m putting it in my Christmas gift pile.

Le Métier De Beauté –  Pretty in Punk Eye Shadow Palette:(Retail: $95.00)
Verdict: Love!

The last clue Popsugar gave us is that there’d be a Le Metier De Beauty item in this box.  This punk palette was made exclusively for this Popsugar collaboration so I don’t have a link to the item itself, but I’ll price it the same as their similar palette on the Neiman Marcus site.  Before I signed up for this box, I was unfamiliar with the brand but now that I’ve seen it, I’m so excited to try it out.  These folks are so fancy pants, I can’t even figure out how you order from their site (apparently everything is in sets?).  At first I was startled by the colors  and was afraid that my translucent self would be unable to use anything but the shimmery gold.  After googling I came across Le Métier’s video of their Couches de Couleur technique.  (You know it’s super fancy because the name is in French).  It seems that you layer these colors on top of each other to achieve a smoky eye.  After watching the whole thing, I think I can actually attempt this!  It has totally rocked my beauty world.  Just keep your fingers crossed that I don’t waste a $95 eyeshadow palette making myself look like I got punched in the face.

Neiman Marcus “Twist” White Fudge-Covered Corn Twists:
(Retail: $19.00)
Verdict: Hit!
This tube of calorific goodness is described as “white fudge-covered corn snacks.”  I’m game for trying all kinds of food items and while I’m normally not a fan of white chocolate this looks intriguing and will be a perfect to munch on when I put up my Christmas tree and decorations.

Slim & Sage Dinner Plates:
(Retail: $99.99)
Verdict: Gift
So these porcelain dishes are supposed to help you lose weight by being smaller (9 inches versus the standard 12) and with super secret portioning via geometric design (two quadrants for veggies, one for protein and one for carbs).  I seriously love dinnerware, but I’m just not in love with this pattern.  For the most part I’m not a geometric person and I don’t think I’d get much use out of these.  Another disappointment is that on the bottom of this beautiful box it reads “made in china” (as does the Jonathan Adler).  I don’t mind stuff being “made in china” when I buy it at Target, but for a super luxury box from Neiman Marcus, I’d kind of like to see it come from France, or Italy, or some other place that makes crap I can’t normally afford.  The plates are packaged really nicely and there are a few people on my Christmas list who I think would really love them, so they most likely will be gifted. ( Although the red is so perfect for Christmas I still might change my mind!)

NecklaceNecklace Closeup
SHY by Sydney Evan Love Pendant Bezel Diamond Necklace
: (Retail $125.00)
Verdict: Hit!
This is a 14K gold plated (over silver) necklace with an itty bitty diamond.  Yes, I said DIAMOND.  (Apparently Neiman Marcus is well aware of what’s a girl’s best friend.) I don’t own any word jewelry so this is a nice addition to my collection.  It’s really the offset diamond that makes it interesting.  The strange thing about this necklace is that it is very, very tiny.  It’s pretty much choker length. I think this could actually be a really cute gift for a tween aged girl, and if mom wants to go super cutesy she can get one for herself and they can match.

Nest Candle in Birchwood Pine:
(Retail: $34.00)
Verdict:  Love!

First, I love candles.  Second, this one has a really authentic pine tree smell.  This is perfect since I have a fake tree and every year my compromise with my boyfriend is that I’ll burn a pine candle and get a real wreath (he complains that there’s no Christmas smell with my fake one).  The glass container is adorable and has this fabulous mid-century modern holiday vibe to it.  This will be making its way into my holiday decorations come November 29th.

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray:
(Retail: $39.00)
Verdict:  Love!
The description makes this sound like magic for your hair: “This invisible dry hair spray builds in incredible volume and sexy texture. Patented polymers absorb oil at the roots, leaving you with just-styled hair for days (and nights).” So as I’ve mentioned in other posts, my hair is my final beauty frontier.  This year I conquered nails (thanks to Julep) and 2014 will be my hair year.  The last couple years, I’ve been going with a short bob, but I’ve been growing it out in search of long hair.  Right now I’m having an Ally Sheedy Breakfast club moment, so I’m hoping this item is as amazing as it sounds and will give me some much needed help with styling my hair.  I mean people it has patented polymers  which is so sciency it just has to work.

Full Box

With tax I paid a whopping $267.50 for this box, but the value tops out at $630.00.  Now under normal circumstances I don’t splurge this much, but every year since I turned thirty I allow myself one luxury purchase at my birthday.  It should be something high end and special that will last a long time.  This year I decided to gamble on this box.  I’m actually quite happy I did.  Not only did I get a diamond, but I got a fabulous throw and candle that will look great in my apartment, a yummy treat to have during my holiday tree decorating, hair and makeup products that will totally help me try out new looks and a couple of fabulous Christmas gifts.

Popsugar also has a sold out Holiday box, but I snagged one so if you want to see what’s in it, be sure to check back.  Currently available along with Popsugar’s regular subscription there is also a Must Have Holiday Box for Men

So what did think of the Neiman Marcus Popsugar box?  Was it as luxurious as you thought it would be or did you expect more?

The Backstory

Popsugar is a women’s lifestyle subscription that delivers a monthly box of fun, full-size products hand-selected by Popsugar editors.

In addition to Popsugar’s monthly must have boxes, they have some seasonal special edition boxes that contain uber luxe items.  The price tag on these boxes is higher, but the products you receive are high end.

Popsugar Subscription Pricing:
Monthly – $39.95
3 Months – $109.85
6 Months – $214.70
12 Months – $404.40

Coupon Codes:  REFER5 = $5 off sitewide
POPSUGAR10 = $10 off a 3 month subscription

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