Topbox – September 2014

Wow, it’s halfway through September already! Jeez, where does the time go?

Anyway, it’s already the mail time of the month and I’ve decided to review Topbox first because it’s got the least amount of things for me to write about and I’m lazy tonight.

I get points for honesty, right?

What is it?

Topbox is a Canadian monthly beauty box subscription that features 4 deluxe samples for $12 per month, shipped right to your door via Canada Post. Some months even include full sized products! Keep in mind that they do have a waitlist of about 2-3 months from initial sign-up before you start your subscription!

Here’s what I got in the September Topbox!

Topbox September 2014

I actually really like this box even though it’s got another nail polish in it. I’m starting to get back into nail polish and I definitely don’t have a forest green, so I’m pretty happy with it!

Topbox September 2014

Lancome Visionnaire Advanced Multi-Correcting Cream (15mL sample = $27.60) – $92 for 50mL

Does this even count as a sample?! This thing’s gigantic! Not to mention, the retail value of this is more expensive than most other full sized items I’ve BOUGHT.

It’s really smooth, light and silky, too! I’ll definitely be trying this for a week to see how it does.

(PS – Molecules are usually referred to by their unique IUPAC name or by their chemical structure, not an acronym. Funnily enough, the term Lancome uses looks more like a code used in astronomy when naming new discoveries in space.)

Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo – 156mL for $29, 30mL for $11, only at select professional salons

Oooh, dry shampoo! I’ve always wanted to try it out since my bangs tend to get oily much faster than the rest of my head.

It smells really lovely and definitely carries a faint sea buckthorn berry scent that I actually quite like! It’s also really light and soaks up the oils, so it looks like a pretty good investment if I ever see it in a salon.

Topbox September 2014

Bioderma Sebium Purifying Foaming Gel for Combination/Oily Skin (15mL = $1.50 sample) – 200mL for $19.95

It might not be a very high value or large sized sample, but I can definitely get some good use out of 15mL for a face cleanser!

It definitely has a distinctive “soapy” scent in it from that type of fragrance that they tend to use in gel face and body cleansers, but it’s not slimy or goopy at all and my face feels reasonably clean afterwards.

Teeez Scandalous Nail Lacquer in Spa Retreat – 8.5mL for $15, Full Sized!

Even though it’s another nail polish, it’s from Teeez and I really like this brand! The colour’s a deep forest green that I didn’t have in my collection before and it’s perfect for the chilly months ahead.

The formula’s really nice and pigmented, not like some cheaper nail polishes that you can get for like $4. I’m looking forward to wearing it for a while after my demo on Thursday!

Topbox September 2014

Verdict: 4.5/5 – Even though there’s not a lot of colour cosmetics in this box and there’s yet another nail polish, there’s something about it that I really like about September’s offerings! The dry shampoo smells great, I know I’ll get a good use out of the Bioderma and the Teeez, and I’m actually pretty curious to try the Lancome. All in all, a good box at the perfect time for me!

Did you get the September Topbox? What did you think of it?

xoxo,

B.elle

Christmas Planning (Already?!)

I’m usually the first to complain that holiday advertising and marketing are starting earlier and earlier every year. In fact, I actually saw some Christmas cards at Costco just last week and it wasn’t even September yet!

Usually, I cringe at the thought of Christmas when it’s like 30 degrees outside, but this year I have to think about what to get the monsieur… I only met him at the end of February, so I’m not as familiar with him as I am with Chris or my other friends!

So, I figured I’d go for a pretty reliable stand-by: Knitting!

I picked out a pretty basic pattern that I found online at Purl Avenue called the Ridge Rib Men’s Scarf.

Ridge Rib Men Scarf

Ridge Rib Men’s Scarf from Purl Avenue

It’s a pretty simple pattern, but the end result looks really elegant and classy! Plus, since I tend to zone out while I’m doing my crafts, so easy, simple patterns are perfect for me.

I went to Romni Wools over on Queen St. W after work and I picked up this yarn!

image

It’s hand dyed by a company out in Mineville, Nova Scotia called Fleece Artist and it’s 100% wool.

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As you might be able to tell, they do amazing colours and I had such a hard time picking one out! I ended up choosing the blue one and hoping he doesn’t mind the purple in it.

I also decided to start a new scarf for myself because a girl’s gotta have more than one alpaca scarf.

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Isn’t that a gorgeous yarn?! I’ll do a separate post about it and that project when I start it.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish them both by December… Wish me luck!

xoxo,

B.elle

Birthday Shenanigans

I’M 27!!!!!

Yeah, I know it’s not exactly a milestone birthday for most people, but it’s got a sort of geeky significance to me since it’s 3^3. It’s a lucky number!

Anyway, my birthday landed on a Monday this year and I didn’t arrange any plans because of two reasons: (1) I had to attend a show over the weekend for work, (2) I actually forgot about my birthday.

Is that a first sign that I’m getting old? I’d prefer to think of it as being pleasantly busy enough for a couple of weeks to zip by!

I feel so blessed and grateful to have such a loving group of friends and family, along with an amazing, caring man to call my boyfriend.

Not only was this my birthday week, it’s also the last week of August and the last unofficial week of the summer holidays! Ahhhh! That also means that both FanExpo Canada and the CNE happened this weekend, so I had a VERY busy time.

Apologies in advance for the super long post!

Monday the 25th – Birthday!!! I had the day off this year since there was a 3-day car show the company was showing at and, you know… it’s my birthday. TAKE THAT! I joined the cats for most of the day and napped through to the afternoon until I had to get ready to go out for dinner with the Monsieur! He took me out for drinks at The Pilot’s patio and then to The Oxley in Yorkville (!!!) before heading back to his place for some Futurama.

Seriously a perfect night for the both of us!

Tuesday – Second birthday dinner! Chris and my cousin Agnes brought me out to a fantastic Portuguese fine dining restaurant called Adega on Elm St.

We had some charcoal-grilled chorizo with crunchy, tart pickled vegetables as an appetizer and I opted for the Fettucine with Scallops & Smoked Bacon for my main.

Adega Fettucine Scallop and Smoked BaconIt was soooooo yummy! The portion looked a bit small, but the pasta was fresh and homemade and the cream sauce was velvety smooth. The best part of the dish was easily the scallops, which were buttery soft and perfectly seasoned like the ocean.

Of course, Chris and Agnes managed to spoil me with some great makeup and a new bag! (Not pictured just yet!)

Wednesday – Back to normal work! But, my parents surprised me by taking me out to dinner at a new-ish Cantonese/Japanese buffet up in Markham called Dragon Legend. It’s right across the street from the Costco up at Highway 7 and Woodbine Ave., and it’s pretty darn tasty!

Beware if you’re a driver: the parking lot is TINY even though there’s a ton of seating inside the actual restaurant.

Thursday – FanExpo time! After work!

Chris and I decided to go to FanExpo on the first day this year because we were pretty freaked out last year by the huge crowds. Plus, the Thursday pass was a lot cheaper and the hours were later, which was perfect for an after-work outing!

FanExpo 2014

I know, this seems like a super massive amount of people, but this was only the NORTH Building! The South Building had the sales floor and a ton of other shows and awesome displays as well!

FanExpo 2014I mean, how awesome is this full scale model of the Batmobile from the Batman: Arkham Knight video game? OVER 9000, THAT’S HOW AWESOME!

FanExpo 2014I’ve also always wished that I had the talent to be able to do an epic Lego structure like this one of Smaug the Destroyer from the upcoming movie The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies.

Of course, there’s always some sort of shopping involved and this time was no exception!

FanExpo 2014

Serenity Comic Book: The Shepherd’s Tale

Seriously, how did I not know that there’s a third book out?! AND, I also found out that there’s a FOURTH book coming out later this year! WHAT?! My mind was blown when I found out.

Tokidoki’s Unicornos Series 3 – Coccinella

It’s a unicorn pegasus with a ladybug pattern… I would’ve been happy with any of them, but Coccinella’s so cute! The Unicornos series, like Dunny’s, are blind boxes, so I really had no idea what to expect since it was a spur of the moment purchase.

Kidrobot x Futurama Keychain

I got this for the Monsieur as a little gift! He really likes Futurama (not surprising since he’s a physics PhD student) so we’ll see what he gets!

Batman Logo Black Ring

This is possibly the best purchase I’ve ever made at a comic book convention! I’ve never seen a geek ring this well made before that’s been made to fit WOMEN’S fingers! I was alraedy debating on whether or not to pick up some new Justice League comics, but knowing that it’d be super hard to find a glorious Bat-Ring like this really made the decision for me.

Friday – Nothing. I needed the rest, trust me.

Saturday – I actually skipped my parkour training session (GASP!) and went to the CNE with Chris! I was pleasantly surprised to see that they changed the main shopping area to be a lot less cluttered and weary-feeling even though the Arts and Crafts Pavillion was largely the same. We stayed for the afternoon but left around 6 just because it was getting unbearably crowded.

There was a lot of stuff to see and buy, but I bought a lot of things recently for a good price. But, I did manage to grab some new socks and a tshirt from a local designer!

Sunday – Shopped with Mom for some new lingerie/underwear at Victoria’s Secret. It was one of those days where I really appreciated how close I am with my mom and how open we are about what’s going on in our lives.

Monday – Went to Port Perry/Lindsay, ON area for lunch and fishing with my parents and a couple priests. Again, I spent the afternoon outside in the sun so I’m nicely tanned now but at least I managed to pull up a bunch of fish!

Fishing

 

It looked like rain for some parts of the day, but it turned out pretty good!
Kawartha Lakes

 

So, that was my birthday week and a bit. It was super busy and lots of fun and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

xoxo,

B.elle

 

Dollarama Drinks

So, after the Toronto Food Truck Festival, me and Chris decided to hit up the Dollarama near the station. She wanted to check for something and I wanted to grab some gum. But, once we got inside, we were immediately drawn to the food aisle.

There’s some pretty reputable things to eat in Dollarama, like Primo brand canned soups and sauces, some pretty decent pastas, Uncle Ben’s rice side dishes, Mr. Big chocolate bars, Excel gum and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. It wouldn’t be too far from the truth to say that you could make a decent meal out of Dollarama food.

But, there’s some stuff like instant coffee and single serve drinks that just look strange…

Dollarama Drinks

Don’t they look scrumptious? Chris and I really wanted to do a blogger swap, but we figured that this would be a good adventure for now instead!

We chose these drinks because we wanted to try something that didn’t involve a lot of cooking and that was somewhat familiar to us. I don’t mind some 3-in-1 instant coffee drinks, especially the ones from Malaysia, and we were really curious to see how a rice smoothie would taste!

4 Care Balance Rice Smoothie

4Care’s Balance Rice Smoothie in Chocolate Flavour and Vanilla Flavour

I swiped the vanilla flavoured one since Chris wanted the chocolate one. The ingredient list is pretty intimidating since three out of eleven ingredients are thickeners and calcium carbonate is there for stabilization and acidity regulation.

… Means it keeps it from going funky and the acid levels at the same place over time. Sorry, the science is sticking out.

4 Care Balance Rice Smoothie

 

Assuming that the information is actually right, the nutritionals aren’t too bad in a single box! There’s one good thing out of this.

But, the taste itself is so overly sweet! I don’t mind the flavour much since it actually tastes somewhat like vanilla with a nice nutty tone to the whole profile, but the drink’s thickness really kept the sweetness on my palate!

The chocolate was even worse compared to the vanilla because it felt like they added more sugar to try and mask the bitter cocoa flavours. Plus, the chocolate version was even thicker! Chris could barely get it through her straw!

Verdict: 2/5 – It’s quite cheap at $1 for two small boxes, but there’s better stuff out there for $1, even in the Dollarama.

Insta-Coffee Mocha

Dollarama’s Insta-Coffee in Mocha

I really shouldn’t have been so surprised at the really complicated ingredient deck, but I was! The thing takes up a whole section clear down the cup!

It should’ve been a clear sign of what’s inside…

Insta-Coffee MochaI do like how they included a disposable cup in the packaging so it can be used in some sort of long term coffee emergency on the road. There’s even some handy lines on the side of the cup to show you how far to fill the cup with hot water!

Too bad that’s about the ONLY thing I like about this drink.

Insta-Coffee MochaIt looks alright, but it tastes like an ashtray that’s been sprayed with a cheap chocolate room freshener. I don’t like throwing out food, but I had to throw this one out after I took a few sips.

Verdict: 0.5/5 – Don’t drink this unless it’s an absolute emergency. But, with so many coffee places around, who would need to keep one “just in case”?

I have no idea what to expect for our next blogger swap…

xoxo,

B.elle

 

 

 

 

Topbox – August 2014

It’s Topbox time! Wheee!

What is it?

Topbox is a Canadian monthly beauty box subscription that features 4 deluxe samples for $12 per month, shipped right to your door via Canada Post. Some months even include full sized products! Keep in mind that they do have a waitlist of about 2-3 months from initial sign-up before you start your subscription!

Let’s see what’s in the August Topbox!

I totally forgot that they offered the organza option again this month, so I was pretty surprised when I picked up my Topbox and there wasn’t a box inside! When I saw pics of other people’s Topboxes with organza bags, I hoped that I picked it because I’ve been needing a separate bag for small storage.

On first glance, this month’s contents look pretty good. I’m pretty happy that I didn’t get another nail polish, to be honest! Although I find it pretty hilarious that there’s a nail polish REMOVER this time around.

Barefoot Venus’ Macadamia Oil Hand Cream in Hunny Mango – $5.99 for 60mL, full sized

I love this hand cream! It’s so soft and light, so it’s perfect for summer use after washing a ton of dishes or when my callouses start flaking off a bit too much. The fruity, honey scent is absolutely heavenly, too.

LAQA & Co.’s Bees Knees Sheer Lip Lube Pencil – $20 for 2g, full sized

I laughed out loud when I saw this product because I had have this thing about the ’20s, its glitz and glam, and especially the funky sayings they had like “bee’s knees”!

The colour is really quite sheer but it turns out to be a more delicate, lighter pink than it looks in the tube. It feels really smooth and buttery, with a slight hint of mint in it, too.

Here’s a swatch of it on the left compared to Tarte’s Amazon Butter in Coral Blossom!

Bees Knees LAQA & Co. vs Tarte Coral Blossom

It might be a bit too light against my particular complexion, but it might work for me in late fall or winter. If not, I’ll put it up for swap!

Clinique’s All About Eyes (5mL sample = $10.33) – 30mL for $62CAD

According to the product card, it’s supposed to reduce the appearance of eye puffs, darkness and fine lines. Considering how I’ve been sleeping lately, I’m hoping that this will show some kind of result if I try using it.

I’m not a huge fan of Clinique’s products, but I do appreciate the larger deluxe samples they provide compared to their full sized things. It’ll give me time to see if there’s any effect on me rather than just a single serving sample.

Belvada Cosmetic’s Nail Polish Remover

It’s been a while since I’ve thought about Belvada! In fact, I think the last time was when Topbox had sent out a round of their blackhead masks that turned out to be pretty painful. Like last time, Belvada doesn’t provide a lot of information online about their new products, so it makes me wonder what they do with these things after they’re sampled in Topbox.

I actually like the concept of having some portable nail polish remover wipes on hand! I did my nails on Saturday before Edgefest, but I noticed that my nails needed a desperate clean up halfway to the monsieur’s place.

Luckily, I didn’t face any fashion faux pas since it was just Edgefest and it was getting pretty dark anyway. But, this little container would’ve been perfect to keep in my bag!

Verdict: 4/5 – I got one of the best variants I’ve seen so far and I really like it! There’s a good variety and top quality in my box that I really can’t complain. The colour of the Lip Lube would have been a lot better in a different colour for me, but that’s just the way it is!

Did you get the August Topbox? What did you think of it?

xoxo,

B.elle

Tasting Box – August 2014

Like usual, I got my Tasting Box a couple days after I ordered it. And, of course, it takes me over a week to get this review out!

Here’s the August Tasting Box! This month, they put in a whopping 7 products!

What is it?

Tasting is believing! The TASTING BOX includes 5 scrumptious tastes to enjoy, made by our favourite Canadian small batch food artisans and delivered directly to your door – a different box each month.  The TASTING BOX is the perfect opportunity to discover and sample the culinary talents right in our own backyard! Only 50 TASTING BOXES are available each month, so order yours today!

It’s $14.95 + shipping for a box, so people in Ontario and Quebec get it for around $22 or so after tax.

Tasting Box August 2014

Made with Local’s Peanut Butter Blondie (Dartmouth, NS) – $22 for 8 bars, $2.75 per bar

Omgosh, peanut butter blondies! It’s definitely not a health product or an energy bar of any sort, but I’m actually pretty excited to see a fully packaged bar that’s just for indulgence. Not to mention, it’s made out of oats, peanut butter and chocolate! (I LOVE PEANUT BUTTER.)

I love seeing new products coming out from the Maritimes, especially products made with local ingredients!

Stone Milled Specialty Grains’ Buckshots Snack Pack (Oak Bluff, MB) – $35 for case of 25, $1.60 each

I’m actually not too sure how to eat this since the buckshots are tiny little pellets of grains. It says I can snack on it directly, but it feels really awkward trying to eat a handful of this at a time since they’re so small!

It says that you can put it in your cereal, so I might just use this in a couple bowls of oatmeal in the next couple mornings. It should be interesting to see what Smokey BBQ breakfast oatmeal will taste like!

Wholly Noggin Bars in Walnut Blueberry (West Vancouver, BC) – $41.98 for case of 12 bars, $3.50 each

This bar is made out of all organic and natural ingredients, so it’s actually incredibly dense and kind of crumbly. Just a bite of this bar contains so much energy and chewy goodness, but I still think it’s too hard!

It has a very distinct nutty scent and flavour, along with some notes of banana that I really didn’t like. It’s not that good tasting, in my opinion, but it might be good for vegans or those on the Paleo diet.

Tasting Box August 2014

Ohmbars’ Lemon Cranberry Poppy Energy Bars (Ottawa, ON) – $33.48 for 12 bars, $2.79 per bar

I got a bit hungry right after I took these pictures but I still had dinner to eat, so I quickly grabbed this bar to munch on first.

See, I totally didn’t notice that the Ohmbars are primarily made out of date paste or else I would’ve given this to my best friend since she LOVES dates! I’m not a huge fan, but I actually quite liked this one. It wasn’t crazy dense like a lot of other date bars, but it still got pretty stuck in my teeth after I finished it.

The sweetness was at a good level, and both lemon and cranberry flavours were pretty balanced out with each other!

(PS – Very punny name. Love it!)

inner-J Bars’ Lemon Goji Berry Coconut Bars (Toronto, ON) – $11.99 for 3 bars, $41.99 for 12 bars

I think Tasting Box sent out a couple samples from J-Bars before and it looks like they’ve gone through a major packaging overhaul! It looks a lot better than the clear plastic resealable bags that they were using before.

Tasting Box August 2014

GORP Clean Energy Bar in Cocoa, Hemp & Almond (Niverville, MB) – $49.70 for 16 bars, $3.10 per bar

This bar has a really neat marketing spin since the GORP part of the label is actually a sticker that you can use to reseal the packet!

It’s really delicious with the bitter cocoa balancing out the sweetness from the rice syrup and the chocolate chips, but I think 65g is a bit big for a bar! Although I think the sticker is to help you save some for later.

SIPsoda EAST’s Natural Craft Soda in Lavender Lemon Peel (Vaughn, ON) – $40 for 24 bottles, $1.67 per bottle

I wasn’t too sure what to expect out of a lavender lemon peel drink, but I’m actually quite enjoying it! The bubbles aren’t too aggressive and the sweetness level is just right as a flavoured soda. The lavender notes aren’t too strong, but it definitely has a faint sense of drinking potpourri.

Verdict: 4/5 There wasn’t a lot of variety in the box with so many energy bars, but I really enjoyed how most of them tasted! I’ve also been eyeing the SIPsoda for a while, but it costs too much to get them shipped from BC, so I was very happy to get a bottle in my box!

Did you get the August Tasting Box? What did you think about it?

xoxo,

B.elle