Monday, December 31, 2012

Holiday VoxBox Time!

"What is a VoxBox?" you may ask. "What is the new project?" you may ask. Well - I've got excitement and I've got disappointment. No projects in this post. That's the disappointment. The excitement? *Drumroll please*... reviews of everyday items you all can benefit from!

No, this is not going to be an every post thing, it all depends on how often I receive VoxBoxes - which brings me to your first question. This is a VoxBox:
Let's take it from the beginning. So as I was stalking reading other blogs, I saw that one blogger joined a website - www.influenster.com. Being the copying little blogger that I am, I had to check it out. Turns out, it's a website that you go in and do reviews of products/objects/styles/foods/beverages/books/anything you want and, of course, read the reviews as an informed consumer to purchase the good stuff! The website feeds on social networks - as a member you advertise what you get, what you see, what you're doing (blogging about it) and you get points as to how active you are on the social networks and, mostly, the reviews. Then there's the VoxBox - the more active you are, the more helpful you are with your reviews, and the more things you're interested in, the more stuff you get delivered to your door to test out and blog and review about. I was skeptical until I got this fantastic e-mail saying "You're receiving the Holiday VoxBox 2012!" Sure enough - on my doorstep was this box chock full of fun things to try out.

So here goes. First up - Quaker Real Medley's Cherry Pistachio Oatmeal, $1.79 per cup
When I got this my first thought was "ew" because I am not a fan of oatmeal. But, I promised to review it so I sucked it up. As soon as I opened the package, it had about 1 inch of food in it. I was unimpressed by the quantity - it's an awfully big cup for such a little amount. Then I noticed huge chunks of cherries and pistachios and was instantly impressed. When I used to purchase flavored oatmeal to give it a go for attempted health benefits, all of the flavorings were ground up and when it was put in with water it turned into a mushy gushy mess that was unappetizing, to say the least. This one, you added boiling water to and put the cover back on, waited 3 minutes and opened the lid to a way better bowl of outmeal. (There was a microwave option too, but we have a teapot at the office that this was the easier route.)

I was so impressed with the taste when I opened it up and tasted it. It wasn't mushy at all! In fact, it had the crunchy taste of oats, nuts, pistachios and the tang of real (because they were!) cherries. It was very delicious! I was beyond surprised and ended up buying these at my next grocery haul. I am also impressed with the ingredients -  it's in the "healthy enough" category that I don't mind making it a regular in the breakfast rotation. Here's the ingredients: whole grain rolled oats, dried sweetened cherries (cherries, sugar), multi grain blend (whole grain rolled oats, rolled barley, whole grain rolled rye), brown sugar, pistachios, almonds, nonfat dry milk, whole grain rolled wheat, natural flavor, salt. Altogether it's 290 calories, 8g fat, 49g carbs and 9g protein. Kept me nice and full all morning, too.

Score: 4.5 out of 5, due to the small portion in a large cup. I don't think I would have been so taken aback if they were just honest about their portioning and put it in a slightly smaller cup.

Next up: Goody Quikstyle Hairbrush, $11.99 per brush
I didn't quite know how to deal with this. How does it dry? Wouldn't it mold? How does it actually work? All the answers were on the back: Usage: Use it like a regular brush. The idea is that it dries your hair faster because the microfiber bristles soaks up excess water. Drying? Air dry. The bristles are "protected by antimicrobial properties" that prevent mold and mildew. I used this brush this morning and I'm not quite so sure about the results. First off, I noticed that the hair brushing bristles were very hard and had no give or flexibility whatsoever. The microfiber bristles didn't have a different feel but, as you can probably see from the picture, they tended to mat themselves down so I wasn't sure how well they were actually going through my hair. The brush did address this, saying on the back "After a few uses, the microfiber bristles may begin to look a little flat" and tell you to fix it by running a comb through it and then turning it bristle-side down and tap it a few times to "fluff" them back up. Not sure how I feel about having to comb my brush after every few uses; and, to be honest, I didn't quite see much difference than if I just brushed my hair, ran a towel through it, then brushed it again. Did having it all together save me time? Maybe a bit. Would I have bought this brush? Probably not. I'd probably tend towards a brush that had bristles with a bit more flexibility.

Score: 2 out of 5. It certainly served the purpose of getting my hair brushed, and maybe it did dry my hair a bit more than a regular hairbrush - but so does a towel. It's a bit on the expensive side for a brush as well.

Next up: NYC Color LIQUID Lipshine, $2.49 per lipshine.
The color they sent me was "Nude York City" which I thought was very clever on their part. It's advertised as a lip shine that is non-sticky and moisturizes lips with Vitamin E and is supposed to have a "creamy and soft textured feel". This smelled absolutely delicious, and had a big wand that made for some good lip coverage. I don't agree with the non-sticky claim - it was pretty sticky but the creamy and soft-textured description certainly had a leg to stand on. It made my lips stick together and drinking from a glass awkward. It did moisturize a bit, but not any better than my regular lip balm. As the lip "shine" is the obvious claim to fame on this product... how'd it do? It did great. The shine was max-impact like and I really liked the nude color. Although this comes in 10 shades, I'd probably stick with the nude.

Score: 3.5 out of 5. I loved the smell, the wand and the shine and the price wasn't too shabby either. It was sticky, and it's advertizing is clearly proud of it's "non sticky" claim, so I think that was a bit of a downfall.

Next we have Kiss Nail Dress, $6.99 per box (one box has 28 strips, for fingers and toes)

I do confess - this I have not tried yet. I'm hoping to put them on for New Years with my new dress, so once that all happens, I'll be sure to score this one out and tell you how it goes. Essentially - it's a sticker that you put on your nails and then file down into shape. From the sounds of other reviews, they work out pretty well, but as soon as dishes are done (or 2-3 showers) they will unpeel themselves. It's for this reason that I didn't put them on earlier. I am very impressed with the designs and colors though - the ones Influenster sent me are rhinestoned out and seem to match the colors of New Years perfectly. You'll see soon enough.


Next: EBOOST, $28 for box of 20 powders, $39 for box of 30 powders, $39 for box of 12 shots

This advertises as a powder (or shot, but I got the sample of powder) that boosts your mood, focus and immunity with natural ingredients and no crash. I don't know what to say about this other than - don't do it. It's not absolutely horrible - but it's not "good" either. This powder turns regular water into some sort of effervescent liquid that seems to mini-shock your tongue when sipped:

I would not know if it does anything with focus, immunity or energy because I could barely get through half my glass. It was so weird because it wasn't a bad taste, per say - it was pink lemonade - but it definitely is not what you are expecting. And those prices? I get that it only averages out to be $1.40 per drink, but for that same $1.40 I can buy my Coke Zero and get my caffeine fix (focus, energy) and then pop a Vitamin C for the immune boost. I'm good on this one.

Score: 2 out of 5. Blegh.

Lastly - Sole Society, www.solesociety.com

This is an online website for SHOES! This had my name written all over it. I do confess, I have not yet used my coupon that they sent me for $25 off my first purchase. I went on the website and checked out the new shoes, popular shoes, etc. for some ideas on what to buy but I could not make up my mind! I will definitely use it soon though, so I will be sure to update you on the purchase price and the fit of the shoes that I did buy. So far, I am extremely impressed with the shoes, as well as the site itself. It's an easy website to use (with all the shoes on one page to go through them all in one click) and it has free shipping BOTH ways, all the time. With $25 off offer, I was anticipating a larger dent in my bank account, but with most of the shoes going for $49.99 or $59.99, Influenster has essentially given me a "half off" code for most of the website. BONUS! Also, when I went to check it out on Friday, December 29th they had a special going for buy one get one free - making for a 49.99 or 59.99 discount! Unfortunately, the $25 off does not combine with the buy one get one (yes, I tried. Who doesn't want to try to get 2 pairs of shoes for just $25?!). Once my bank account recovers from Christmas a bit, I will certainly try this code out.

The extra bonus?! I can give the code out to all my wonderful friends (that's you!) On that note, please head over to www.solesociety.com and use the code INFLUENSTER25 for $25 off your first purchase! Take a little time to hum and haw over it - the code expires on January 31, 2013.

Score: 5 out of 5 for appearance, website ease of use, pricing and shipping costs. I may have to amend this score, depending on how fast the shipping is and (hope this doesn't happen but maybe) how easy returns are.
See - aren't you much happier reading a post that gives away stuff at the end? Enjoy, all my shoe-loving friends. And try that oatmeal.