Nerd Block – March 2014

I finally got my Nerd Block today after worrying for a day and a half that Canada Post had lost it in the mail.

But, I finally have the precious box and here it is!

Nerd Block March 2014

What is Nerd Block?

It’s a monthly subscription box featuring all things gamer, geek and nerd collectibles. For $19.99USD+tax, you get about 5 random full sized collectibles and a tshirt of your size with a design from ShirtPunch!

They mentioned that they partnered up with Ubisoft for the March box and they totally delivered with an official Assassin’s Creed figurine!

Again, they haven’t provided a product card, so I’m not too sure where these things are sold or any details about how much they might retail for.

Nerd Block March 2014

McFarlane Toys Assassin’s Creed Connor Action Figure – $19.99 (approx.)

AHHHHHHH! I squealed when I saw Connor in my box! I know that AC3 wasn’t the best out of the franchise (AC2 has better story, I haven’t played AC4:Black Flag yet, and AC1 and Altair hold a special place in my heart), but I loved Connor’s arsenal and the setting they put it in!

I am going to have to clear some space to put him up in my room!

Topps Wacky Packages Stickers Series 7

Basically, it’s a pack of trading parody stickers. They’re like trading cards, but you can stick them on your products for a little laugh.

They’re made by the same designers as the Garbage Pail Kids – parodies of the Cabbage Patch Kids – and are apparently making some sort of trendy retro comeback, somehow.

I didn’t even know that trading cards were still a thing these days. I’ll probably end up giving the unopened pack away. Email me if you’d like it! (knowyournoms [at] gmail [dot] com)

Nerd Block March 2014From left to right…

The Simpsons 25 of the Greatest Guest Stars – Yao Ming

This is a new series that just launched this year! It’s great to see The Simpsons still going strong in mainstream culture. But has it really been 25 years?! Damn, I’m old.

Legend of Zelda Mini Figure – Tetra from LoZ: Phantom Hourglass

I really have to stop throwing out the little cards that come with the figures because I have NO idea what the official name is!

Anyway, it’s Tetra! She’s such an adorable, annoying pirate princess brat, but she has her moments! I also love the fact that she came with a full heart container!

Star Trek Skele-Treks – Borg

This is sooooooo cute! I have to admit that the Borg is one of my favourite antagonist species in Star Trek and I am so looking forward to seeing if the new movies will bring them around and how they reinvent them! (I only have a LITTLE problem with the Klingons in the last movie and that was the fact that the ridges were way too shallow.)

But I love how it’s such a delightful mix of Star Trek and sugar skull designs! So morbidly adorable!

Nerd Block March 2014

No, I didn’t get 2 tshirts! I got the Darth Vader one on the left in my box, which I will be doing my damnedest to wear during parkour training to get a chase going!

The Totoro tshirt came from ShirtPunch, which is a partner company of Nerd Block! Each design is (usually) available just for a day, unless it makes it to a grab bag day. I am loving both designs!

Verdict: 4/5 It’s a great box! Everything’s pretty cool and now I even have a new tshirt and an awesome Assassin’s Creed figurine!

But, I’m still going to cancel.

Although it’s a great box and a fantastic subscription company, I was reviewing my credit card statement and Nerd Block charged me $35.80CAD for this box. That is a VERY far cry from the $19.99 price that it advertises. I know that it’s all from the taxes and the conversion rates, but I just can’t justify spending that much every month on collectibles that won’t be consumed or used up like cosmetics or food.

Likewise, my tshirt from ShirtPunch was originally priced at $6.99 and I was charged $16.61CAD because of (I think) shipping and taxes.

To me, this isn’t a fair deal since everything looks like it’s processed and sent in Canada. If it’s American owned and operating in USD, I would like to know that first!

I might revisit this box in the summer, but I have to stop for now.

Did you get a Nerd Block? What did you think about it?

xoxo,

B.elle

Tasting Box – March 2014

It’s the time of the month where I’m getting a ton of goodies in the mail! Yay! Christmas all over again! (The weather here agrees with me. Seriously, when is it going to get warm?!)

Anyway, The March Tasting Box!

Tasting Box March 2014

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!

They’ve recently changed their shipping policies for the Tasting Box so it’s now $14.95+shipping instead of including the shipping in the price. I live in Toronto and they ship from Ottawa, so I don’t have a problem with that since it’s a bit cheaper for me than it was before!

Let’s take a closer look at what’s inside.

Tasting Box March 2014

Ferme Guy Rivest’s Strawberry Wine Jelly – Rawdon, QC (Full Size 140mL – $3)

This is a really nice jelly! You can absolutely tell that it’s made out of strawberry WINE, so if that’s not your thing, you might not like it too much.

It only has 3 ingredients: strawberry wine, sugar and natural pectin. It’s super hard to find a good jelly that has so few understandable ingredients although I’m sure the strawberry wine has something else in it since it takes a bit more to ferment it.

But for some reason, I think it’s a little too much on the liquidy side. Maybe it’s because it had to go through some pretty polarizing temperatures as it went through Canada Post?

Carolina’s Box of Goodness’ Artisan Dulce de Leche Brownie – Ottawa, ON (1 square, approx. $2.15)

I don’t know if you know this, but I love brownies yet I’m not a huge fan of chocolate brownies! I might’ve only had fudge up to now, but I don’t know why I prefer blondies instead! (Note: I like blond and brown hair on my men, I don’t discriminate! 😉 )

It’s so soft that it literally melts in your mouth and absolutely delectable! My square had a little bit of sugar crystallization in it so it didn’t have a completely even texture, but it shows that it’s handmade. Personally, I would’ve preferred it to be a little more firm, but I’m not going to argue with French dessert traditions!

Tasting Box March 2014

JBars All Natural Protein Snack – Toronto, ON (2 full sized bars in Lemon and Cocoa, $12 for a pack of 3)

These were supposed to be samples, but Anne-Marie was a darling and gave me the full sized bars! What a sweetie!

I love how JBars packaged them into clear, resealable plastic baggies. I get so frustrated at the traditional sleeve packaging even though I know that it’s a lot cheaper! The resealable function is great for keeping the freshness and they do mention to keep it in the fridge if you need to!

I tried the cocoa one and the cocoa flavour is pretty balanced even though I found it slightly bland. (But that could be because I ate the brownie first. Oops!) But, even though I had the brownie first, I could really taste the toasted quinoa! I found that the texture soft, but almost too crumbly for a protein bar.

Tasting Box March 2014

Dad’s Westcoast Awesome Sauces’ Wildfire Awesome Sauce – Mill Bay, BC (40mL – $1.44)

This hot sauce is indeed an Awesome Sauce! It’s super spicy, packed full of flavours like jalapeno, bell peppers, cumin, garlic, bird’s eye chili, sugar and jarred with the cutest two kittens ever on the front.

I anticipate this tiny jar to be finished very soon after a few dinners.

Kricklewood Farm’s Cold Pressed Sunflower Oil – Frankville, ON (100mL- $2.80)

I haven’t opened this yet to try it out, but I’ve never used sunflower oil before and this seems like the perfect time to try it out! I’ll have to make up a new recipe for this… 😉

Verdict: It wasn’t as great as the February Tasting Box, but March had some good offerings! I definitely enjoyed the Brownie and the Wildfire Awesome Sauce, but the weather must have wreaked a little havoc on the Strawberry Wine Jelly! I’m looking forward to see what April’s offerings are!

Did you get a Tasting Box? What did you think about these products?

Want a Tasting Box of your own? Keep an eye on FoodiePages.ca on the 1st of each month at noon to get one of the 50 that they make!

xoxo,

B.elle

Note: I am not paid by Foodie Pages or any of the companies mentioned in this post for this review. All opinions and views are mine.

Topbox – March 2014

Look what I got in the mail today!

Topbox March 2014

My March Topbox! Yay!

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, they include full sized products for customers to get! Keep in mind that they do have a waitlist of about 2-3 months from initial sign-up before you get a box!

It’s great to see that they included another coupon code, but I don’t think I’ve ever ordered cosmetics online OR from Lise Watier! I hope one of you readers can use it! Just punch in the promo code TOPBOXLW at checkout on a purchase $50 or more to get 10% off!

Topbox March 2014Clinique Superprimer Face Primer (7mL sample) – $29 for 30mL

I’ve been using foundation a bit more often these days, but I’ve been using Smashbox’s Photo Finish Primer so far. I’m looking forward to trying Clinique’s to compare!

It’s very lightweight, non-oily and dries extremely fast. It doesn’t leave any residue at all, either! Looking good so far!

Belvada Cosmetics Blackhead Facial Mask (2 packets)

There wasn’t a price listed nor is the product listed on Belvada’s website, so I’m going to guess that this is an unreleased product that’s going through some market testing.

The great thing about them is that they’re made with bamboo charcoal and I LOVE using charcoal facial products! I can’t wait to try them out!

UPDATE: After reading a bunch of reviews about how painful it is and how some girls have reacted really badly to the mask, I’ve decided not to try it out.

Topbox March 2014Cina Nail Art Pen in Purple – $8.79 Full Size

It’s an alright colour, I guess? It’s a bit dark for my liking, but… I’m not really into doing nail art on my own, but there’s nowhere on ANY beauty profile out there that goes, “Do you like nail art pens?” so I can’t really complain.

The tip was really weak and pretty much got crushed right after I pumped the tip to get the nail polish out, so now it’s not even a fine tip for detailing, which is what nail art is supposed to be!

Lise Watier Solution Double Dual Phase Eye Makeup Remover (38mL sample) – $24 for 120mL

Yay! I love getting makeup removers! I was just running out and I even bought some makeup removing wipes, but this will definitely get used!

It’s got two different solutions in the jar, so you have to shake it up before moistening a cotton pad to wipe off your eye makeup. Remember: this is EYE MAKEUP REMOVER, not for the rest of your face! It just doesn’t work as well on the rest of your face, trust me!

It works pretty well to remove my daytime makeup gently and it’s fairly affordable as luxury makeup removers go, but it will be interesting to see how well it does against some more aggressive nighttime makeup.

Verdict: 4/5 The nail art pen was a TOTAL miss, but I do really like the other products in the March Topbox! There weren’t any colour cosmetics, but I didn’t miss it and I know I can use most of it up by next month!

What did you get in your Topbox? What did you think?

Interested in joining? Click here and get on the waitlist now! Don’t forget to check out their Facebook page for the latest updates!

Threading – feat. Beauty Now Salon

Short answer: Threading is another method of hair removal by using a length of thread. The beautician (or technician, whatever you’d like to call them) twists a piece of thread around the hair and plucks them out row by row. It’s an old technique originating in India, and it’s a good alternative to sticky waxing and chemical depilatories.

I’ve had threading done before years ago when I was in university and I remembered that it gave me amazing results, cost a lot less than other hair removal methods AND it didn’t even take half an hour! So, when I noticed my eyebrows and upper lip getting a bit gnarly and a cute date coming up, I figured that I’d go get some threading done at a new salon that opened up in my neighbourhood.

Introducing Beauty Now Supply + Salon!

Beauty Now Supply + Salon

Address: 1202 Woodbine Ave., Toronto ON, M4C 4E3
Salon Services: Hair (men, women and children), colour, wax and threading, with expanded waxing services and manicure and pedicure services coming in the spring
Websitehttp://www.beautynow.ca/

I had just finished work and decided to call ahead to make sure that I didn’t need an appointment, since it was getting late and I wasn’t sure if they would have enough time. A man picked up and reassured me that I could just walk in for a session even though they were closing at 6pm today! Ah, better rush!

When I stepped through the door, I was blown away by how BIG the inside was! Looks can indeed be deceiving with the walls completely lined with brands like Schwarzkopf, Goldwell, DS Laboratories, OPI, KMS California, Paul Mitchell and Redken. Just beyond the cashier was a huge space with a well spaced out hair salon for about 6 clients at a time.

A tall, burly man with some impressive facial hair greeted me with a warm smile.

“Hey! You just called, right? Come on in! Nancy here will be doing your threading today. Do you want to hang up your coat?”

Instant welcome, great atmosphere and it turns out that he’s the owner, Brian. This is great.

Nancy, a small framed Asian woman, gently herded me to a well lit mirror after I handed my jacket to Brian and laid me back on the reclining salon chair.

“You want natural, yes? Just clean up?” She said softly, almost in a whisper.

I nodded. My eyebrows arch nicely to my facial structure and I do NOT want to look permanently angry.

With subtle hand gestures and soft “no”s, she directed me to stretch out the skin under my eyebrow with my fingers as she unwound some thread.

Ahhh, yes. I remembered doing this and then being pretty relaxed last time and closed my eyes.

KRRRIP. With thread in her mouth and the rest twisted between her fingers, Nancy caught several rows of tiny, minuscule hair follicles between the twisted thread and yanked them right off my face.

OWWW. The pain was definitely familiar, but it didn’t seem to hurt like this last time! I quickly told myself to relax and breathe deeply as Nancy methodically and rhythmically trimmed and shaped my unruly eyebrows into a sleeker, but natural shape.

Only 15 minutes later, she brushed away the stray hairs from my face and brandished a small mirror in front me. “Do you like?”

Oh. My. GOD! My eyebrows looked fantastic! The shape was perfect and completely EVEN. I could never achieve that on my own and I had to walk around with crooked eyebrows the last time I went to a salon during lunch break.

“Do you want me to do lip, too?” She asked and waved to her upper lip.

Yes, please!

The results were absolutely fantastic. I was in tears by the end of it, but she giggled and reassured me that it was completely normal and everyone tears up with pain from threading. After I got home, the threaded areas were red and a bit swollen from the hairs being forcefully yanked out, but I took care of that with a cool, damp cloth and simply waited it out.

The bill came up to about $15 after tax but before tips, which is totally affordable for the impeccable service I received and I am definitely going back again!

Want to make an appointment at Beauty Now? Check out their website here and give them a call! They’re super friendly and really close to Woodbine Station.

Have you had threading done before? How was your experience?

xoxo,

B.elle

Blogger Swap – Lipstick

Yay! Second blog swap with the lovely bff at The Other Side of the Box!

We had so much fun with the last swap that we decided to do another one right after it. This time, it’s LIPSTICK!

I know Chris likes (re: LOVES) lipstick, so I was looking forward to see what kind of fancy lipstick she got me!

Youngblood Lipstick - Just Pink

Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics Lipstick in Just Pink – $19.50-ish

It doesn’t look like it’s readily available in Canada just yet even though my first search showed that Target carries it even though Target doesn’t offer an online catalog of any sort. Spa Boutique does have it for $19.50 with a $10 shipping fee, but if you spend $75 or more, the shipping is free.

It comes in a nice, sleek little black tube that snaps shut, which I do appreciate since I always seem to find my lipsticks with the cap half off in my purse!

Youngblood Lipstick - Just Pink Swatch

The lipstick goes on pretty nicely and the shade itself is really lovely. I usually go for redder, brighter colours but I can definitely use this for every day wear! It’s a little patchy on my lips right now, but I have some pretty deep lip lines and it’s still winter so all of my lippies go on funky. That being said, it does a very good job of hydrating my chapped lips after a couple applications!

Also, it’s a cruelty-free product made with natural ingredients! Yay!

Have you tried Youngblood Cosmetics? What’s your favourite lip colour?

Don’t forget to check out The Other Side of the Box!

xoxo,

B.elle

Speaking Canadian – Ordering Coffee

I was talking to a coworker who recently came from Poland about coffee. Midway through the conversation, she suddenly asked me, “How do you order coffee from Tim Horton’s with just milk?”

“Well… A small coffee with 1 milk,” I replied.

“Really? Because at Timothy’s, I ask for a regular medium coffee and they give me a medium black coffee of their normal roast. But, I guess that’s because they have that bar with the milk and sugar to make your drink yourself, right?”

I told her that, yes, most coffee places that have that milk and sugar island typically serve coffee black and let you customize it yourself. I never really realized that ordering coffee at Tim’s (or other fast-food franchises) is so different in Canada!

Here’s a handy guide to ordering a cuppa joe in one of Canada’s most popular coffee chain:

Extra Small – 8oz (some places might not stock this size)
Small – 10oz
Medium – 14oz
Large – 20oz
Extra Large – 24oz

Black – Simply coffee
Regular – 1 cream, 1 sugar
Double-Double – 2 creams, 2 sugars
Triple-Triple – 3 creams, 3 sugars

Only sugar – 1/2/3 sugars
Only cream/milk – 1/2/3 cream/milk

So, an order would typically sound something like: “Hi, I’d like a medium double-double, a small regular and a large with 2 milks, please.”

The person would get:

  1. 14oz coffee with 2 creams, 2 sugars
  2. 10oz coffee with 1 cream, 1 sugar
  3. 20oz coffee with 2 milks, no sugar

They use automatic dispensing machines for their sugar and cream, so a small triple-triple would be mostly cream, sugar and a liiiiiiiiittle bit of coffee and a lot of diabetes in a cup.

I’ve also learned that if you want MILK instead of cream, you have to specifically ask for it because their machines only contain cream as a norm. For all you health-conscious people out there, be careful when you’re ordering from Tim’s!

The phrase “double-double” has been so ingrained in Canadian culture that it’s almost universally understood throughout the country at any coffee store. Even if you order a coffee at McDonald’s or a small cafe, the cashier or barista will instantly understand what a “double-double” order means and make you a rich, sugary coffee.

I usually just get a small regular, though. How about you?

xoxo,

B.elle

Blogger Swap!

I had my first blogger swap last week!

Blogger Swap Box March

I swapped with my bff over at The Other Side of the Box and this time, the theme was TREATS! We agreed on 3 different types of treats and I was really looking forward to what she picked out for me.

Werther's Original Caramel Apple

Werther’s Original Caramel Apple Filled Hard Candies

Whaaaaaaaaaaaat! Caramel apple hard candies?! These are awesome! The apple filling inside the caramel is actually soft and tastes kind of artificial (go figure) but I can tell that it’s supposed to be green apple. I do really like how the caramel gets soft after sucking on it for a couple minutes!

Werther's Original Caramel AppleAnother fun detail that I never noticed before today: the candies are actually the same size as they show on the package. Who knew!

Lindt Chili Chocolate

Lindt Excellence Chili Dark Chocolate

I KNEW she was going to give me this! She’s been bugging me forever to try this and I always said, “I’ll try it soon!” and never did. Now, I finally get to dig in!

Lindt Chili Chocolate Wrapper

Not quite, it seems. This is the first time I’ve seen chocolate bars wrapped and sealed like this! It took a while for my to rip it open without the chocolate flying out at me, but it’s nice to see that they did this to keep it fresh.

I love the pairing of sweet and savoury with the spicy kick! I didn’t think it was that spicy, but I can handle a lot of heat. (Green Thai coconut curry and tom yum soup are some of my favourite dishes!) It was mostly a heat that was at the back of the throat, and I thought it could use just a little touch of salt to really balance out the flavours!

Betty Crocker Red Velvet Cupcakes

Betty Crocker’s Red Velvet Cupcakes

Of course. She gives me a box of foolproof baking mix of her favourite cake. (Is this a hint to share?)

I haven’t had time to make it yet, but I’m excited to see how it tastes! Also, it’ll hopefully give me some baking practice so I can finally make a cake that doesn’t get burnt!

I really liked all the products in my swap box! I can’t wait to see what’s in the next one! 🙂

Don’t forget to check out her blog, The Other Side of the Box!

xoxo,

B.elle