Mysterious Package Company: Curious & Conundrums

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If you’re not familiar with the Mysterious Package Company, it’s actually a lot of fun. Their basic premise is they send you or a giftee a series of–get this–mysterious packages that tell a story. They create an intricate little world in their packages, with letters, newspaper clippings and “relic” items that reveal the mystery. Each experience is a little subscription box in itself. The prices range from $99-$299 and they suggest an audience age and disclose the kind of content each will contain without spoiling the mystery.

They recently started a quarterly subscription box, the Curios & Conundrums box. Previous iterations of C&C were flat mailings that contained very detailed puzzles and secrets, and it’s unclear whether this package is as intricate. I recently received the first box, and thought I’d share a bit about it! The theme was Gods of Madness… which I’ll get into later.

It’s $29.99/quarter. This came in a package that looks like an old book, which was clever. The inside front flap had details of everything contained in the box, made to look like evidence cards.

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Rocksbox!

Rocksbox is $19/mo for a Netflix-ish jewelry subscription. They send you three pieces of jewelry and you can return them and swap out as much as you want. You make a “wish list” of jewelry items you love, and one of the pieces they pick to send you will be from that list. You also earn $10 a month to spend on future purchases. With the average “member price” of my pieces around $80, it wouldn’t take long until you earn a free or very discounted piece of jewelry to keep!

Curation is a part of this subscription, and possibly one of my favorite aspects. Based on your wishlist and a quiz of your preferences, someone at Rocksbox hand-selects the three pieces you’ll get. It comes along with a card about why the pieces were selected. You can then provide feedback about the selections for your next Rocksbox.

Everything comes in a shipper, and inside that, a hinged box tied with a ribbon. It feels very luxurious. Every piece of jewelry comes in its own drawstring bag, and sealed inside a plastic baggie. No tangles, and no damage. Postage is paid both ways, but unfortunately, you have to return everything you’re not buying at once to trigger the next shipment. I’d love to be able to hang onto a piece for a while. I’d also like it if I could trigger the next shipment myself rather than waiting for them to receive the jewelry. That’s probably because of the high value of the items, but it bums me out, man.

One thing I really love is that their style quiz asks your ring size. I recall their options went above a 10 (!!) and they only show you rings available in your size. I wear a 9, so this is a huge help to me! They only have about 7 styles available in my size right now, but that’s completely fine! It’s above and beyond what I expected.

My three pieces:

 

I selected the House of Harlow necklace and it’s everything I hoped for. On me, it hangs to my midsection and has a nice weight to it. The other two pieces felt a bit off from what my wish list would hint that I like (I had no short necklaces in my list, nor hoop earrings) but I get why they were chosen. The hoops are very summery and would make a great boho look with the House of Harlow necklace. The bar necklace was lovely and will be perfect for a couple of weddings I’m going to this week, but on my rather thick neck, it’s a bit short. In my feedback, I said that I have a thick neck. I also mentioned that if they have expanders, I’d love to have one with any future short necklaces they send. We’ll see what they say!

I followed a referral link to get a free month of the service (want in on that action? Enter code AMANDABFF192) I’m not sure if I’ll continue after that runs out, but I really enjoy this subscription and recommend it to any jewelry hounds who are always trying to spiff up their wardrobe. I could also see it coming in handy in the summer months for wedding guests, or around the winter holidays for all the parties!

Lola Review : cotton tampons

lolaI got a free month of Lola tampons through last month’s Pop Sugar box. I figured I would give it a try because, hey, tampons ain’t cheap. (You can get your first two-box order for $9 on their site.)

The concept is they send you 100% cotton tampons in your chosen variety of light, regular and super.

I assumed that, because they’re focused on the EVILS of what may be lurking in your tampons, that they wouldn’t choose plastic applicators. I was mistaken. They promise that the plastic is BPA-free, but they don’t mention much more about it. Their box labeling includes: “Ingredients: cotton, plastic”. Uh… “plastic” is a pretty flexible term in my mind. Cardboard isn’t necessarily any better, but I just found it a strange choice. Too, for me, was the after dinner mints wrapping. Why not paper? I guess I assumed because of the focus on cotton, that this would be an eco-friendly company. I feel like it’s not. The box is a really nice paperboard (no glossy coating) which is better for recycling, but I just don’t feel good about this brand in relation to their eco-ness. Which, to be fair, they don’t tout. It was just my assumption.

The tampons themselves are the mini, compact kind. The cotton is very dense and with a lot of ribbing on the sides to help it expand. The string is a thin wisp of knotted thread.

For me, the tampon was actually too dense. I inserted a super tampon on a very heavy flow day. When I removed it, it was apparent that the tampon acted more like a cork than an absorber. The end was slightly bloody, but when I pulled it out, GOOOSH. I dropped one in water and it expanded really slowly, but gave me the definite impression of a very solid puck of cotton. Not for me.

I just don’t like compact tampons versus “regular” ones. I prefer longer tampons. It just feels like more protection from leaks to me. I also like a sturdy string and Lola didn’t have it. And I like my paper-wrapped tampons with cardboard applicators, to hell with what’s in the tampons themselves. I agree with Lola that we do need better regulation of tampons, but just because they say their cotton is 100% cotton, that doesn’t mean that their tampons are pure and free of taint. They say “100% natural cotton” with “no chemicals, synthetics, or dyes”. But this doesn’t look like raw cotton to me. It’s been processed and surely bleached? I just feel like Lola should clarify just what “natural” means to them.

This subscription is not for me. I like the concept a great deal, but the price is out of my reach and their product just isn’t suited to my personal use. I wish they had other options, and who knows, they might add them. But for now, it’s a pass from me.

Walmart Beauty Box : Spring 2016

IMG_1235Here’s another Walmart Beauty Box! They’re “free” ($5 shipping per quarter) and they now let you choose from one of two beauty profiles. They automatically chose “trendsetter” for me, since I was at the time under 30. The millennials, they love trends!

I’ve gone on and on about why I love this box, but it really is just the right price point, shipped just often enough for me to never be disappointed. I always seem to get one item that makes the subscription feel like a good value for me. This month was no exception!

Colgate Optic White Toothpaste – I’m pretty sure this is a sample size tube, but it’s still very large. I’ve gotten this from Influenster and purchased it on my own. It promises whiter teeth in three days. While I can’t speak to that claim, it’s definitely whitening.

Biore Baking Soda Pore Cleanser – This is a clear, nice-smelling cleanser. I used it on my nose and chin and it had the most neutral results of any cleanser I’ve ever used: nothing bad to report, nothing terribly great. I could feel some random rough chunks in this, and I couldn’t’ decide if it was supposed to be the baking soda or some plastic microbeads (boo! hiss!)

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer – This is a fake tanner. I never try these, but figured I’d give it a go. I’m very fair, and this was splotchy on me. It’s a nice “natural” fake tan on me, but using this daily would be a big no.

Neutrogena Moisture Smooth Color Stick – OMG THIS SMELLS LIKE NOSTALGIA. It smells like a Bonne Bell Lip Smacker. The shade is somewhere between pink, puce and brown. It’s a nice natural shade on me. This is full-size and a $7.50 value!

Curel Itch Defense Body Wash – I haven’t tried this, but I’m surprised this wasn’t part of the winter box. It says it’s for dry skin, and that’s when my skin is at its dryest.

John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Visibly Brighter – I’m not so sure about this product. It claims it will lighten your hair! It says it will do so without going brassy, but I am skeptical. I might try this. It doesn’t smell at all like a chemical lightener and it has some natural extracts that should be nourishing.

CeraVe Healing Ointment – “Protects and soothes cracked and chafed skin with a non-greasy feel”. Will I be trying this to protect against chub rub? You betcha.

Vera Wang Embrace This is the blue scent, which is Periwinkle and Iris. I hate perfume samples, but this was a nice scent.

 

Others – A foil packet of Burt’s Bees BB Cream, a shade sticker try-on card from Loreal True Match and some coupons.

Peaches and Petals : January 2016

IMG_1051My boyfriend was disappointed that there weren’t any peaches in the box. I have to say, that would’ve beat what I got.

Peaches and Petals describes itself thusly: “Experience our world of fun, flirty and fashionable vintage-modern lifestyle in a hand-curated box delivered to you each month.”

Every box I checked out was accessories and jewelry, so I was excited to try this box at half off (use code PEACHADDICT). Naturally, the month I try it, the box includes exactly one piece of jewelry and zero accessories. Then again, the box reviews I checked out said that they included ancient makeup and “free with any purchase” accessories sometimes, so I maybe dodged a bullet?

The Overall: Boo. Hiss. I spent $7.50 on this box and the value was definitely there, but I cancelled immediately. I don’t recommend it.

The Packaging/Theme: It comes in this cardboard box bottom that slides out of a cardboard sleeve. So the whole thing is delivered in a mailer bag. That makes exactly zero sense to me. Why not just send it in an actual box? It comes with a Peaches and Petals sticker on the sleeve, then everything is wrapped in tissue. This month’s theme was Adventure, so the tissue was landmarks. Cute. The curation definitely went with the theme.

Inspirational “Decal” (Value ???) – This seems poorly printed. I’d probably just call this a regular-ass sticker, but what do I know?

Kikkerland Selfie Stick ($12.50) – And I thought hell would freeze over before I owned a selfie stick. This doesn’t even work with my phone, but here we are. I get that this probably fits the market of this box, except I feel like if you want to own a selfie stick, you already do.

Hamilton Beach 17oz Fruit Infuser Water Bottle (???) – I was super stoked to get this. Though I know every other subscription box in history has sent one of these out at some point, I’ve never ended up with one. I kept eyeing them at the store, but they seemed just too expensive for me. The bottle itself is glass. I couldn’t find this particular one for sale anywhere (more on that later) but I’d estimate it to cost at least $8, so there’s my value in this box. The colours were random, and I’m stoked I got purple.

Adventure Jewelry Bracelet (????) – This is an adjustable open bracelet with a plane on one side and a cloud on the other. The quality isn’t great and it was already tarnished and spotty.

Family Circle Healthy Home Style Cooking Cookbook (Retail value listed as $34) – This cookbook was printed in 2011. This was given away for free with a two-year subscription to Family Circle magazine. It’s apparent from other reviews of this company that they get bulk lots of these “free with any purchase” items and overstock items from some companies’ extremely outdated inventory. I just feel like that gives your box a pretty bad rep. I assume the water bottle is an outdated overstock item, but it’s acceptable because as long as the product is intact. But something branded so obviously? I don’t know.

What Would It Take to Get My Dollar? – I would need an acknowledgement from them regarding the practice of sending out old freebies and a commitment to not do it going forward. They just announced a price increase from $14.99 to $19.99 and–who knows–their plan may be to stop sending out old flea market stuff. But I would have to see it in action for several months before I’d put my dime down.