18 September, 2013

myHoopla - September, 2013

myHoopla is the first Australian box of its type.  It's a children's activity box aimed at ages 3-7 which fits right in with my family as I have two boys who are 6 and 7 years old.  They do have an intellectual disability which puts them at the lower end of the age range in terms of ability which was reflected in the amount of assistance they needed when creating the projects with the supplied goodies. 

I prefer to let my children create something that reflects their current ability rather than "helping" to achieve a perfect result.  A process over product mentality if you will.  I did need to give a fair bit of help with these projects as otherwise we wouldn't have ended up with a recognisable project at the end, which would have made it difficult to show you the projects the box included.  I received the sibling add-on version of the box which contained enough materials for both my children to participate.  I highly recommend getting this if you have more than once child in the age range as they were both really keen to have a go.

The strength of this box was that everything needed to complete a project was pre-cut and sorted.  We just needed to pull out the bag and we were ready to go.  This would be outstanding for busy working families who don't have time to set up a complicated crafting activity.

This month's box was "Pirates" themed and there were three activities included:

Parrot Puppet

Making the parrot was very much a "hands on by the parent" activity.  Threading the wings through the body was tricky for little fingers, as was working out where to place all the small parts that needed to be glued on.  I ended up putting dots of glue on myself, which guided my small parrot makers as to where each part needed to go.  All the parts were pre-cut and prepared and in an individual bag so set up was instant and the very minimal mess went back into the bag.  My youngest son chose this activity to do first, he was excited by the bag of colourful feathers.  Neither of them wanted to use their completed parrot as a puppet, they wanted to make them "fly".  Much fun was had throwing them up in the air and letting them "fly" to the ground.

Hook Hand

I did this activity with my 7 year old and it was a pretty good fit for his ability level.  He liked putting the glue on the cup and sticking everything together, especially the white "lace" part and putting on the stickers.  He would have liked a few more stickers to stick (two were provided).  A fair bit of adult help was required to understand the instructions, but he was able to do the actual construction without assistance.  I found this tricky to photograph as the flash kept over-exposing the foil part.  I hope my enthusiastic model makes up for it :-)

Treasure Map

The idea of this activity was to draw a treasure map for another family member to follow to find buried treasure (toy gold coins were included).  The paper to make the map on came rolled up but once we opened it, we found it was cut into the shape of a map which was a nice touch.  Being brown paper, the lighter coloured crayons provided didn't make much of a mark, but we managed.  My kids were a little disappointed that the coins didn't have chocolate inside :-)

There was also a bonus activity of making Pirate Treasure Stones which was also shared on the My Hoopla website.  We didn't tackle this one as I didn't have access to coffee grounds but I did appreciate that they included this free on the website so you can get an idea of the sorts of activities they include in the box.

Check out other bloggers reviews of this month's box:

None that I can find yet but it's only just come out.

17 April, 2013

Paw Bag - April, 2013


My dog came home from doggie hospital yesterday (he has diabetes) and we had a little treat waiting for him.  His first Paw Bag!  Just the thing to cheer him up.  Paw Bag is a bi-monthly bag for dogs (they do one for cats as well) that costs $39.50 + $6.50 for shipping and includes toys and treats.

He's got some shaved patches of fur in odd places and he's looking a bit comical at the moment so a treat was in order to take his mind off it.  This bag was especially good as only one of the items was edible (my parents dog tried that one as ours is on a special diabetic diet) so he could enjoy almost everything.

Here's what was in the bag (everything was full size):

Woodland Crackler

Well, a "woodland crackler" turned out to be a surprisingly ugly bright pink bunny that makes a cracking sound and has a squeaker in it.  My dog was interested in the squeaker but didn't like the crackles.  He actually retreated under my desk to hide until I put it away.  He would have been happy if I'd just worked the squeaker for him but he didn't want to get anywhere near the bunny himself.

Gingerbread Man

As this is furry and had a squeaker in it my dog was extremely interested.  I think this was his favourite from the bag. It comes under the "something to destroy" category of toy which he always thinks is fun.

Barney's Bakery Treats

I got the "Doggy Donuts" which looked good enough for humans to eat.  The ingredients were good enough for humans to eat as well, they even used free range eggs which I highly approve of.  We gave these to my parents dog to taste test as ours is on a special diet now.  I can report that they were considered extremely delicious.

Organic Rope Ball

This was very sturdy and looks like it would stand up to even a large dog doing quite a bit of tugging on it.

Wuff It All Natural Soap

This looks very nice and was packaged beautifully.  I can't try it until my doggie's hair has grown back a bit, he's missing three big patches and two smaller ones so he looks quite undignified at the moment.  It's a nice big bar and I'm quite curious to wash my dog with a bar soap as I've never done it before, we've always used shampoos.

Chuck a Duck Flyer

My kids were very keen to have a go with this product.  They picked it out straight away.  It's a rope ring with an unattractive cartoon duck attached to the centre designed for throwing and fetching.  My dog quite enjoyed it too, but I think the kids enjoyed it more.  The idea of throwing a duck was considered pretty amusing.

Dental Loofah

I used to give Dentastix before the "special diet" thing happened so if my dog agreed to chew on this it would have made a good substitute.  He sniffed it politely and had a bit of a chew, but clearly preferred the gingerbread man.

And that's the Paw Bag.  Might make quite a good gift for someone hard to buy for who really loves their dog (or cat).

22 March, 2013

Lust Have It - March, 2013


Lust Have It for March comes once again in their new presentation boxes which I find quite useful for makeup storage.  The missing product from last month arrived, there was more than one full sized product and there was a good range of products too, including more than one make-up item.  All in all, a very good month indeed.  Here's what was inside:

The Natural Source Camouflage Colour Crayons in Metal Green and Purple Plum (full size value $9.99/ea)

The sticker on the red crayon didn't come off cleanly, leaving residue all over my crayon.  Don't you just hate it when that happens!  These crayons come in an amazing range of shades and they say can be used "on the face or body to create that sense of fun, theatre, class or individuality".  While I'm quite happy to leave the house wearing a petticoat my makeup choices are a little more on the mainstream side, so the only use I can find for these are as an eye liner. Both crayons were lovely and soft, perhaps even slightly too soft as I did find little extra bits of colour balled off when I used them.  Metal Green did make a very cool unusual looking eyeliner and because it was so soft it was comfortable to apply.  I did find something really odd on their web-site.  They have in their faq "It is bovine free. Bovine ailments affect the central system and is related to the “Mad Cow’s Disease"."  Slightly awkward sentence structure aside, bovine just means cow.  I don't know what they mean by "central system", but mad cow's disease is transmitted to humans by EATING contaminated cow products.  No-one's going to be eating their makeup so I'm at a loss why they feel the need to advertise their product in this way. 

Orly Flash Dry Drops (deluxe sample size)

I'm very happy to try this as an alternative to my Seche Vite.

Bioderma Atoderm Nourishing Cream (sachet)

This was the product that was missing from last month's box.  Points off for being a sachet - they're so hard to dispense and I always end up wasting product because I can't re-seal it.  I do love that this is intended for sensitive skin and can be used on the face and body, though it's really a bit expensive to use as a body cream.

Goldwell Dualsenses Rich Repair Hair Treatment (deluxe sample size)

I'm always happy to get a new hair treatment.  My hair seems to respond well to mixing up a lot of different treatments rather than always sticking to the same thing.

Ocean Essences Gold & Pearl Rubber Mask (full size $9.95)

This product isn't listed on Ocean Essences website (much like their offering in March's Bellabox) so finding out more information about it was tricky.  The value I'm taking from Lust Have It's product information card because I can't find anywhere to purchase this mask.  I also couldn't use it, though I did try.  No matter how hard I mixed it I just couldn't get it to mix properly.  It ended up really lumpy and made a huge mess.  I just wasn't comfortable putting it on my face.

Bio Elixia Body Shaper Cellulite Contour Cream (full size $59)

I've never really believed that cellulite creams do anything.  Now I'm going to have the opportunity to find out for myself.  I'm very impressed that Lust Have It managed to include a full sized product worth $59 and if it ends up working (I'm going to give it a try over the suggested 4 weeks) then I'll admit I was wrong about cellulite creams.

So this was a pretty solid month from Lust Have It.  My only grumble is that other bloggers seem to be getting a lollipop.  I want my lollipop darn it :-)

Check out other bloggers reviews of this month's box:

See It, Love It, Swatch It
Shrinking Wallet
Katy's Beauty Secrets
Sweetaholic Beauty
Matilly Rose's
Kitsch Snitch

20 March, 2013

Europe in a Box

Photograph from www.europeinabox.com.au.  Used with permission.

Here's a new Australian box to appeal to the gourmet foodie.  Europe in a Box is a monthly box of European food and drink that costs $53 per month (including shipping).  They say that "each box contains four gourmet products each originating from a different culinary destination in Europe, including an authentic imported drink, additional samples and a keepsake." I think this could make a great gift for the hard to buy for person in your life.  I know my husband would be pretty happy to receive one of these boxes.

I wish I had a slot available in my box budget at the moment as the products really appeal to me.  Looking at the March box (links and photograph below) I would like every single one of those products!  I do know that my husband would really enjoy this one, so I might try one for his birthday in August.  I can tell you that I've emailed the owner and their customer service is very good, I received a very quick reply to my email with the extra information I was looking for.

Photograph from www.europeinabox.com.au. Used with permission.  This was their March 2013 box.

There are a couple of discounts available at the moment.  If you want to sign up you can try:

$5 off 1 month subscription (one off fee, not a recurring transaction) - SPREADTHELOVE
$10 off 3 month subscription - DISCOVEREUROPE
There are a few reviews out there already for the first box.  Check out:

19 March, 2013

Her Fashion Box - March, 2013

The first Her Fashion Box is here. I got the classic box and here's what was inside:

Circa Home Everyday Soap in Lilac and Orchid (full size, value $9.95)

Mmmmmmm.  This made the whole box smell great and it's so smooth.  I have a few soaps and body washes to go through before I get to using this one, so I stored it in my lingerie drawer to take advantage of the amazing scent.

Gold Ponytail Holder (full size, value $2.60)

There's been some controversy on the web about where Her Fashion Box are sourcing their fashion items and what they are worth.  I found this which looks identical at $2.60 each.  I do quite like the product.  It's tricky to get in without pinching bits of hair but it holds well and looks good.  Luckily I have long hair though!

Moxi Sample Collection (deluxe sample size)

Quite a few Her Fashion Box customers weren't too happy to receive "time of the month" products in their box.  Some felt it was inappropriate and others had no use for them.  Unlike some I was happy to see Moxi included here as I can use their products and they're the most premium brand out there that I know of.  I can't imagine any other brand being included in a fashion box though, so I expect this is a once-off partnership.  The cute little box contained two tampons, two pad and one liner.

Master Makeup Blending Brush (full size, value $30)

Great!  I'll get lots of use out of this.  It's a really nice brush too.  The bristles are held firmly in place, they're nice and soft, and it's the perfect size for blending.  There was a special offer for 20% off the rest of the collection, but I've just purchased two sets of Real Techniques brushes so I'm set for the foreseeable future.

Redken Diamond Oil Shampoo, Conditioner and Treatment (deluxe sample size)

I'm happy with the size of these as there's enough to try over a few washes.  This is a new product that's going to be released in May so we get to try it early which is pretty cool.

Maybelline Colour Sensational High Shine Lip Gloss in Gleaming Grenadine (full size, value $15.95)

Another hit.  This gloss was very pigmented, a lovely colour, not sticky at all and to top it off it had amazing staying power and a quality glass container.  I ate two meals while wearing it and it didn't budge at all.  This may be the best lip gloss I've ever tried!

Classic black and gold necklace (full size, value $2.99)

I'm guessing at the value of this necklace.  The necklace from the feminine box was worth $2.99 so I'm assuming the classic necklace has a similar value.  It's reasonably nice looking, but on the back side the pieces are hollow and look a little cheaply made and two of the gold pieces fell off when I took it out of the bag.  Hopefully I can get a replacement from them.

So am I happy with the first box?  Yes.  I make the total value to be $61.50 from the value of the full sized products alone.  It was especially good value at the first month's reduced price (even given the suprisingly low value/quality of the jewellery items) and it was good enough that I think they can sustain next month's higher price, especially if they take a little more care with the quality of their fashion items.  I liked that a brochure came with the box that showed what products were in the feminine and trendy boxes as well.  It was interesting to have a sticky beak at what else was sent out.  I was not pleased, however, that Her Fashion Box did not reply to an email I sent them about the quality of the jewellery.

Check out other bloggers reviews of this month's box:

Matilly Rose's
Kitsch Snitch
Shrinking Wallet
The Made Up Maiden

18 March, 2013

Lust Have It Price Increase

Lust Have It have increased their price to $19.95 per month.  Current members will stay at the $14.95 price point for the next 6 months before having to pay the new higher price.  They also have a coupon code "ANNUAL" to get an annual subscription for $160 which works out at $13.33 per box, though there's no details how long this code is valid for.  This is a pretty big discount from $220 if you're looking to stay with them for some time.  I tested it today and the code is working at the moment.

Native Box - March, 2013


Loved this month's Native Box which had some products I was pretty excited about trying in it, and again there were lots of products included which I love.  My dog couldn't leave this box alone, he kept sticking his head into it while I was trying to photograph.  I think the gingerbread smelled just too delicious for him to keep away.  The box was Easter themed including chocolates and lettuce seeds (for the bunnies to eat).  Here's what was inside:

Ecocern Mini Carry Bag (full size value $0 as this bag isn't listed on their website)

Well, this is just a throw away product (into the recycling bin of course).  I have no use for a plain paper bag at all.  I almost didn't bother photographing it but they listed it as an item on the product card (and marked it as vegan!) so here it is.  This exact bag isn't listed on Ecocern's website if I even wanted to purchase it.  Bit of wasted space really and my time wasted dealing with it.  Don't worry though, this was the only dud product in the whole box!

Bondi Chai Latte Stick in Vanilla Honey Chai Latte (full size, one serving, value $0.53)

I frothed my milk in my coffee machine, tipped in the contents of this stick and stirred.  Delicious!  The powder disolved completely without too much effort, it tasted great, and the hot milk made it lovely and creamy.  I really want to try their other flavour "Club Cinnamon" as well.

The Chia Co Chia Shots (full size, one serving, value $0.74)

Instructions say to "sprinkle onto breakfast cereal".  Will do.  They added a bit of crunch to my puffed corn and milk this morning.

Laviol Organic Shea Butter Cleanser (sachet)

One application of cleanser is not enough to successfully trial a product.  To see what effect something is going to have on my skin I really need enough to use for a week or so.  Native Box - slightly larger sample sizes on the skincare please!  The ingredients of this product looked really good and I've never seen a cleanser contain shea butter before, they're usually in body butters, so I was quite interested to try this product.  I'm also very pleased to receive a product for sensitive skin, which I have.

Rainforest Remedies Lemon Myrtle Soap (full size, value $3)

Lemon Myrtle is my favourite fragrance ever.  Yum.  This soap smells amazing, I almost want to eat it!  I can't stop smelling it.  Love this.  I want to try EVERYTHING this company makes.  More please!

Ashmore's Strawberries and Milk Chocolate (full size, one serving, value $2.20)

Mmmm.  The weather has finally turned cooler and chocolates arriving in monthly boxes through the post is viable again.  This was the yummy bonus product this month.

Gingerbread Folk Easter Bunny (full size, one serving, value $1.60)

Perfect ingredients, exactly the same as homemade, this cute little chocolate gingerbread bunny hit the spot.  The wrapper was even compostable.  Loved this too.

Greenpatch Lettuce Seeds "Loose Leaf" (full size, value $3.50)

I have a huge vegetable garden filled with heirloom fruits and vegetables so the inclusion of seeds was perfect for me.  Lettuce is a good choice too as it's easy to grow for beginner gardeners, is ready to plant now, and fits the Easter theme (bunny food).

Your Inspiration at Home Guacamole Dip Mix (one serving)

This had good ingredients and there was enough to make a pretty big bowl of dip, adding avocado and sour cream.  We made another one without the dip mix for the kids as it had chilli flakes in it.

That's it for this month.  I'm off to smell my Lemon Myrtle soap again!  As always with Native Box, if you sign up and put "Katherine Kelly" in the delivery instructions I'll get credit towards a free box. That would be lovely :-)

Check out other bloggers reviews of this month's box:

I can't find any other bloggers reviewing this box yet, so I'm claiming it as an exclusive (!) until proven otherwise.  Let me know if you've blogged it and I'll link to you.