Curated subscription review: Bluum

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I finally got around to trying another of the "mom and baby" centered curated subscription boxes, Bluum. I got a 3-month Bluum subscription for $18 with a Groupon, making the box, which is generally $12/month, half price.

Even at half price, it was overpriced. Sadly, at least upon my first installment, the Bluum box is one of the worst values for money of any I've tried. The shipping time and packaging were fine--pretty standard. But when I opened my box, this is what I saw:

bluum box.jpg

The contents:
-Ella's Kitchen Pears, Apples, & Baby Rice (3.5 oz package, estimated value $1.89)
-Peanut Honey Pretzel Luna Bar (1.69 oz, estimated value $1.59 as per Bluum, but I'm pretty sure they are $1 at Trader Joe's)
-Seventh Generation Baby Wipes (sample package of 3, estimated value $4.69/70, or $.20)
-Babybug Magazine (single issue, estimated value $29.95/9 issues, or $3.33)
-BabyGanics Cover Up Kisses Lip Balm (0.15 oz, estimated value $4.99 as per Bluum, $2.99 on

Total estimated value: $12, max

So, if I take Bluum's prices (which are higher than the same prices I easily found online for the same items), this box is JUST worth the regular price one would pay for it. That doesn't represent very good value. The products are all nice enough, as far as being usable, but nothing here sticks out as something I am stoked to have discovered, either. These are regular, off-the-shelf-at-Target type things. I also didn't see how they really fit into the box's theme, "June Bug: A Picnic is the Perfect Way to Make a Family Memory." I was also bummed that the little book/magazine was bent to fit into Bluum's box--that didn't seem like very good planning on their part.

So, all in all, disappointing. This is one that, had I not shelled out for a 3-month subscription, I probably wouldn't give a second month's chance. I'll let you know if future boxes are any better.


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First, the inevitable update: baby is not yet born. Baby is now officially late. Baby is making me INSANE. But all is well, no signs of any distress, and s/he will either get here before July 7 of her own volition or be forced out on that date.

But that's not what this post is about. Rather, it's a warning or update or something. At the request of Buzzy's other parent, his/her picture will not be shared on this blog. Neither will his/her name. This isn't something I'd previously considered, but M feels strongly about preserving this baby's Internet privacy, to the degree that's possible, and having identifying information shared on Mama's very public blog isn't gonna do that.

I am of mixed emotions about it. On one hand, I want to tell you all about this amazing journey that we're going to be going on, and I feel a little bit hamstrung about doing that without a name and a face to go along with it. But M's point is a good one--when I made the decision to be public online, to use my real name and not a pseudonym, that was a decision that, as an adult, have a right to make. It's not the same one M would make (he's pretty well anonymous online, other than the places where I've outed him), and it's not one that I really have a right to foist on our kid, either. So, for the purposes of WINOW, Buzzy will remain Buzzy. I will tell you what sex s/he turns out to be, but that's probably all of the information you're going to get.

This discussion with M brought up a lot of larger issues that I probably haven't given as much thought to as I ought. What is the reasonable expectation of Internet privacy for a baby? A child? How much does one parent have a right to expect from the other, if one of them is a public online person, like me, and the other a private one, like M? This is, I guess, the first real parenting disagreement we've had, and it's an interesting one to start with. Once it became clear we were starting from really different places (I really didn't, and still don't, see the harm in sharing a name and picture--it's embarrassing stories where I draw the line), M and I hashed out the rules for every online forum in which I participate. Due to the public and searchable nature of it, things will be the least open here on WINOW. It would be M's preference for me not to discuss Buzzy here at all, even with a fake name and no picture, but I didn't think that was very reasonable. The no-name, no-photo thing is, I guess, our first parenting compromise.

Tell me about your experiences with this, readers who have kids? Did you and your partner have to negotiate about it, or were you on the same page to begin with? Are you happy with how you've done things, or would you do it differently if you had it to do over again?


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News from the land of No News


I'm sure this goes without saying, but Buzzy has declined to make an appearance yet. My mom is here, I'm off work, and we're just...waiting. Which isn't a bad thing--it's nice to have some time to relax--but it's a little bit unnerving knowing I could go into labor at any moment and having it just not happen. I also have less and less attention span for anything, and haven't been able to come up with much to blog about. So you may not hear from me until it's baby picture time, or I may go on a tear and start blogging every day just to keep myself busy. Hard to say.

In the meantime, yesterday I got my second set of maternity pictures, taken at the same location and by the same wonderful friend photographer as the first, so I thought I'd share a few of those:







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Curated subscription review: Jewelmint


Jewelmint was the first (I think) of a crop of curated subscription programs from the e-commerce company Beachmint. Beautymint is Jessica Simpson's skincare program, Stylemint is a t-shirt program curated by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. Shoemint is shoes, headed up by Rachel Bilson and Nicole Chavez in conjunction with Steve Madden. Homemint is housewares and is Justin Timberlake's baby (which still makes no sense to me). The most recent addition, intiMint, is a lingerie and loungewear line by Brooke Burke-Charvet. Honestly, none of them hold a lot of appeal for me. Jewelmint, however, does. It's a subscription jewelry program, with all pieces designed by Kate Bosworth and Cher Coulter.

Basically, you pay $29.99/month for a selection from Jewelmint's jewelry collection. You can choose anything in the collection, but certain pieces are recommended based on your style profile. If you don't choose anything, your credit rolls over. If you log in within five days of the beginning of the month, you can skip that month and not be charged. It's a pretty easy system, and one I have enjoyed so far.

I've been a member since last July and have received the following pieces:

East Side Beat Duo (no longer available)
JewelMint East Side Beat Duo Bracelet Ring 1.jpg

Scarab Ring
scarab ring.jpg

Trinity Bracelets (no longer available)
JewelMint Trinity Bracelets 1.jpg

Paramour Bracelet (sold out)
paramour bracelet.jpg

Payal Belle Bracelet (no longer available)
Payal Belle Bracelet.jpg

Honey Bee Ring
honey bee ring.jpg

Persephone Pendant
persephone pendant.jpg

The quality of the pieces I've received has been variable. I love both of the chunky Scarab Ring and the Honey Bee ring--they are nicely heavy and feel good on my fingers. The Persephone Pendant, too, has some nice heft to it. The Trinity Bracelets are pretty terrible, thin and fragile and cheap looking. Though I like the style of the Paramour Bracelet a lot, I doubt it's going to hold up very well. My two real failures have been the Beat Duo and the Payal Belle Bracelet, and in both of those cases, I think the problem was far more my choosing pieces that don't work with my style and far less the pieces themselves.

Jewelmint is not fine jewelry, and it's more expensive than a lot of costume jewelry. That said, at least some of the pieces are, to my mind, of a higher quality than a lot of costume jewelry. It comes very nicely packaged in a reusable box and a little velvet bag, and it's great for gifting. Going through the new choices each month has helped me refine my jewelry taste, which has been interesting--I would have said there was no real consistency to the things I like, but I think there actually is. I also very much like that if you are on-the-ball about doing it, you can skip months where nothing appeals to you without any sort of penalty--that make the program easy to use only when you want to use it. All in all, I'd recommend Jewelmint for jewelry lovers who are looking for a new infusion of style, but only those who aren't going to be too fussy about metal quality, and definitely not if you have sensitivities to mixed metals.

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Window shopping: World Market


So first, let me just confess: this post is a complete rip-off. Young House Love has been doing window shopping posts for ages, and I love them, and I have been wanting to do my own. To make things worse, though, they most recently (as in, two days ago) did one for World Market. Which was, of course, the first one I was intending to do. So I thought about not doing it, but then I figured hey, it's a big Internet, and I didn't pick any of the same feature items that Sherry did (she focuses solely on housewares and I snapped photos of cool stuff all over the store) so why not?

So, some things I saw at World Market that I really liked:

wm bracelet bar.jpg

The World Market Bracelet Bar is one of my favorite parts of the store. So many great bangles, and such great prices! Unfortunately, almost none of them fit over my gigantress hands. So sad.

wm soaps.jpg

Soap is one of the reasons I was at World Market to begin with--Mark goes through an extraordinary amount of soap (I can't figure out how he manages to use it so fast), and he likes the offerings at World Market a lot. So I bought several different types of Lemon Verbena and Lavender bars for him to try, most of which were $5.99 each. Isn't it a nice display?

WM garden stools.jpg

I really liked the fun red and teal colors and the overall shape of these tin drum garden stools/tables, which were on sale for $49.99. They'd look great with the brightly colored flowers and furniture on our deck. Unfortunately, even the sale price was a bit steep for me, so I left them there.

These wire stools were even cooler, and also on sale--$29.99 for the smaller teal one and $39.99 for the larger purple one--but they didn't seem to be sturdy enough to double as seat, or as stands for heavy plants, so I passed on them as well.

wm folding tables.jpg

Third try is the charm! These little metal folding tables checked all my boxes--brightly colored, strong enough for plant stands, and on sale for a really reasonable $23.99 each. The yellow and green versions came home with me.

wm bucket grill.jpg

These awesome turquoise galvanized bucket grills were another major temptation--we have a Big Green Egg for serious grilling/smoking needs, but wouldn't something small like this be useful as well? Or is that maybe what I am telling myself because they are so cute? Inexpensive, too--$24.99.

wm tunesian mugs.jpg
wm tunesian tagines.jpg

I spent a long time gawking at the display of Tunesian hand-painted ceramics. They are just so gorgeous! My favorites were the mugs, for $6.99 each, and the tiny tagines, for $4.99 each.

wm colanders.jpg

I tried really, really hard to think of a reason to buy one of each color of these awesome 6" metal mini colanders. Aren't they just so much fun to look at? I couldn't think of an excuse, though--I mean, what are some alternative uses for colanders? We already have two. If you don't, I say run to World Market, though--these babies are only $1.99 each!

wm tiffin boxes.jpg

In reality, these little two-tier tiffin boxes are too small for more than a small snack, but there has to be some use for them, because the colors and style are just too sweet. Not a bad price, either--$9.99 each.

wm coffee filters.jpg

I am forever recommending single-cup drip coffee filters to new coffee drinkers, or to those crazy folks who only drink an occasional cup, and these are the coolest looking ones I've ever seen. They are heavy ceramic, rather than plastic, and come in great colors! At $6.99 each, they're a very economical way to make your coffee, too.

wm measuring spoons.jpg

A while back, I pinned a set of brightly colored ceramic measuring spoons I loved, from Anthropologie, to my Pinterest board. They were $18. These floral ones I like not-quite-so-well, but I still like them plenty. The price? $3.99.

wm matroyshkas.jpg

The matroyshka doll measuring cups, priced at $12.99, were the single hardest item for me to leave at the store and not bring home with me. They're just. so. cute. However, ceramic measuring cups seem like an accident waiting to happen. Now that I have had time to think about it, however, I can think of several non-measuring cup uses for them, so I may have to go back and get them...

Poking around the website as I wrote this post, I couldn't help but pick out a few things I didn't see in my local store...

wm block print cosmetic bags.jpg

I love block printing, and this set of three block printed cosmetic bags are just too cool looking. Bright and fun but still classy and unique. Bonus is that they're made of cotton and on sale for $14.97 for the set. Wouldn't they make a nice gift?

wm bud vases.jpg

How totally cute are these six glass bud vases in a wire carrier? They look like old-fashioned milk bottles! I think they'd be super cute with all different flowers in them, clustered together, or by themselves. They're a steal, too--$24.99.

wm ceramic drawer chest.jpg

I've been lusting over wooden chests with ceramic drawers like these all over the place--perfect jewelry boxes! I didn't see this larger one when I was at World Market, though, just a smaller version (more earring than necklace sized). This one is $39.99.

wm letterpress bowls.jpg

These letterpress bowls just slay me. They are too perfect. The classic, simple designs, the small scale...swoon. They're not a bad price, either--$23.96 for the set of four. There are also mugs at the same price.

tm tunesia tidbit bowls.jpg

These little "tidbit bowls" are from the same Tunesian collection I mentioned earlier, but I didn't see it them in my store. I don't know that I'd use them for food, but wouldn't they be cute for little catch-all bowls? They're $15.96 for a set of four.

wm crocus napkins.jpg

World Market has such great textiles, I can't believe I didn't notice any when I was in the store. I must have somehow missed the whole section. Online, though, there are tons of choices for my favorite, and this set of multicolored crocus napkins just barely beat out lots of other contenders. It's $15.96 for the set of four.

And that is probably enough for now! This window-shopping thing is kind of fun--should I try to start doing it a bit more regularly.


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Big nursery reveal!


A few weeks back, I showed you some of what we had in mind in putting together the baby's room. Over the weekend, we finished the room up (or more-or-less finished it, I'm sure I'll keep futzing with it over time), so I thought you might like to see/hear about the final result. I'm also playing with collage software, but am still unable to take a decent damn picture, so please forgive the sub-par effort on that score.

Buzzy's nursery:

(Click for bigger pictures.)

The players

-Graco Lauren Classic Convertible Crib in Walnut (the only big thing we've purchased new)
-Pali Amy Changing Table in Cherry, drawers removed (thrifted)
-Shermag Glider & Ottoman, natural with beige microsuede (handed down from a friend)
-four-shelf folding bookshelf (Craigslist, re-purposed from elsewhere in our house)

-Ikea Lusy Blom rug (re-purposed from elsewhere in the house)
-Janey Baby Animals crib sheet (Zulily)
-Janey Baby Animals changing pad cover (Zulily)
-random cream cotton curtains (temporary, re-purposed from elsewhere in the house)
-colorful safari mini-quilt (hanging on the crib, handmade by my mom)
-frog mini-quilt (on the back of the glider, handmade by my mom)
-Boppy with Sweet Pea slipcover (gift)

-Wimmer-Ferguson Infant Stim-Mobile (Amazon)
-Elmer the Patchwork Elephant (in the crib, gift)
-Angel Dear Blankie, monkey (on the changing table, from PetiteBox)
-elephant blankie/lovie (on the changing table, gift)
-hand-knitted Sheldon turtle (on the changing table, gift)

-multiple sizes/styles of lined baskets, all thrifted and/or re-purposed from elsewhere in the house

-Oregon: My Roots Lie Here print (above the crib, gift, from Global Child Collection)
-Elkton, Oregon watercolor (above the crib, re-purposed from elsewhere in the house, Bally Greeting Cards)
-Blue Dog print (near the doorway to the master bedroom, re-purposed from elsewhere in the house, gift)
-Beastling & Boodle water color pencil drawing (above the bookshelf, drawn by our friend Howell)
-Zebra painting (above the glider, re-purposed from elsewhere in the house, from Austin-area artist Zebra)
-Colored pencil shaving art (above the changing table, gift)
-Floral and antique note collage (above the changing table, re-purposed from elsewhere in the house, gift)

Unpictured, there is a small closet, outfitted with two shelves and a hanging rack, and organized with yet more thrifted/re-purposed baskets, all full of baby clothes and textiles.

I can't overstate how happy I am with how the nursery turned out. The space feels both calm and happy, both appropriate for a baby and tolerable for an adult. It's comfortable and full of things that have been gifted to us and/or represent the people and places we love. I honestly couldn't have wished for anything better. I also love the eclectic nature of it, and how much of it is re-purposed from elsewhere in our house. It seems to fit seamlessly in with everything else we love, and I like that.

I'm also really happy with how little money we put into it. As I mentioned, the crib is the only large thing we've purchased new (not just the only one in the nursery, the only one period). We've been generously gifted/handed down, and I've had some decent thrift store luck, which is awesome. I did splurge at Zulily on the Janey Baby sheet and changing pad cover, because I love the Janey Baby stuff so much that I couldn't resist, but other than that, I've been able to keep my baby-related shopping constrained, and I'm glad I have--it feels more like us to have put together a great space for our little one mostly out of stuff that was given to us or stuff we already had.

The only issue? Having a fully put together baby's room makes it much more clear to me how not put-together the rest of our house is. I want to do this to every room now. Wonder if we can manage that in the next two weeks?

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Where to buy beauty products: a guide


I recently had a friend ask me where the best place to buy makeup is. The short answer, of course, is that it depends on your priorities, what you're looking for, etc. However, the short answer is decidedly non-helpful, so I thought I'd do a rundown of some of the online and brick and mortar options I've tried and how I think they stack up.

Sephora (online and brick & mortar)
Sephora is kinda the makeup gold-standard. Both in-store and online, they strive for a hip, upscale vibe and they only carry prestige brands. They carry skin and hair products and fragrance as well, but makeup seems to be their specialty.

-great selection of high end makeup brands
-generally knowledgeable sales people in the stores
-stores are generally clean and well-organized
-website is generally easy to navigate and well-organized
-amazing return policy both online and in-store
-free shipping for orders over $50 online
-3 free samples with every online order
-regular online coupon codes for free deluxe samples
-good house line
-special "Sephora only" colors and palettes from several brands
-good membership/rewards program (points don't expire, annual birthday gift)

-overall sales are rare
-no non-prestige brands
-brands not carried include Sue DeVitt, Cargo, Jane Iredale, Mally, Pop Beauty, and Essie
-increasingly stingy with samples in-store
-stores can feel overwhelmingly trendy or hip
-store stocks vary widely by location

Ulta (online and brick & mortar)
After Sephora, Ulta is probably the second most often cited online and brick & mortar beauty store. Ulta carries both prestige and drugstore brand makeup, plus a ton of hair, fragrance, skin, and bath products. Most stores also have in-store salons and many have Benefit Brow Bars. It feels a bit less upscale than Sephora and is set up more like the cosmetics/hair care section of a Target or similar store.

-carries inexpensive as well as prestige products
-large selection of hair, bath, and skin products
-good return policy both in-store and online
-free shipping for orders over $50 online
-3 free samples with every online order
-lots of sales/coupons (though many have severe brand limitations)
-lots of brand-specific in-store and online sales/offers (i.e. get a product or deluxe sample free with purchase of $X)
-rewards program
-inexpensive house line

-stores can be disorganized and messy
-brand not carried include NARS, MUFE, Dior, Sue DeVitt, Josie Maran, Mally, Jane Iredale, and TheBalm
-carry some brands in-store only, including DuWop and Fresh
-don't typically give samples in-store
-coupon/sale brand exclusions can be very frustrating (online only) is the prestige brand arm of online giant It's an online-only market for higher-end beauty products, including skin care, makeup, hair care, fragrance, and bath items. Because it's partnered with, it is easy to one-stop-shop for drugstore brands/items at the same time as prestige items.

-good selection of both prestige and drugstore brands
-lots of sales/coupon codes (though again, brand restrictions may apply)
-free shipping on orders of $25 or more
-3 free samples with every purchase
-easy return policy for cosmetics (anything with the "100% Color Guarantee" symbol on the listing)
-tends to feature kits/palettes that are hard to find elsewhere
-lots of brand-specific online sales/offers
-purchases contribute to rewards program

-online only
-no house line
-brands not carried include MUFE, Dior, and Josie Maran
-poor return policy for non color-guaranteed items
-website can be difficult to navigate
-brand restrictions on sales/coupons can be frustrating (online only)
As is the prestige arm of, is the prestige arm of less well-known As is the case with the former situation, drugstore brands are available within the same online shopping trip from the sister site. carries skin care, makeup, hair care, fragrance, and bath items. I am new-ish to the site, having only made one or two orders from them, but am a fan so far.

-both prestige and drugstore brands available
-lots of sales/coupons, with what seem to be fewer brand restrictions than Ulta or
-free shipping on orders of $25 or more
-3 free samples with every order
-easy, free return policy on everything
-very clean and easy-to-use website
-purchases contribute to Familyhood Rewards program

-online only
-no house line
-weakest selection; brands not carried include MUFE, Dior, Josie Maran, Fresh, NARS, Mally, Smashbox, Cargo, Tarte, Urban Decay, and Benefit

There are, of course, other places to buy cosmetics--some people swear by department stores, others are dedicated to drugstores. Some people love brand-specific stores like MAC. I have very little personal experience with those outlets--department store makeup counters intimidate me (though I hear they are the best for scoring samples), I don't buy much drugstore makeup, and I'm not a MAC fan. Maybe someone can jump in and give their impressions of those options in the comments?

Clearly, each store I've reviewed has its strengths and weaknesses. They are all about the same when it comes to shipping costs and samples, but beyond that, they do vary. If I were giving awards, it would be something like:

Best Selection:
Best Prices (least exclusive sales):
Best Return Policy: Sephora and
Most Exclusive Shades/Products: Sephora
Best Rewards Program: Sephora
Most Accessible: Ulta

My where-to-buy preference depends a lot on what I am looking for. None of the four stores I mentioned carry all of the brands I like, so I typically need to shop multiple stores to get everything I am looking for. In general, I prefer to shop online, and makeup is a finicky thing to buy without trying, so return policy is also an important factor. I lost some love for when I realized that I couldn't return some expensive face care pads that weren't covered under the color match guarantee. I also look for who is having a sale, and what that sale actually covers--the $10 or $15 off coupons Ulta regularly runs don't do me much good when all of the brands I am looking to buy are excluded from the sale, but if the brand in which I am interested happens to be available at, their coupon code is less likely to exclude it. Freebies also feature in my decision--Ulta and both regularly have deals wherein you get large cosmetic bags of samples with a $50 or $100 purchase, and I find those extremely hard to resist. Finally, rewards programs play a factor--I think Sephora's is the best, but that may just be because my intro to prestige makeup was at Sephora, I've been shopping there the longest, and my rewards have built up several times.

Mostly, like the short answer says, it comes down to what is important to you. With the exception of special events like Sephora's Friends & Family sale, across-the-board prices aren't going to vary that much for most prestige branded things (drugstore brand prices will vary wildly though, and those cosmetics can often be had for pennies, so it's worth price shopping those). The perks, then, become important, as does the shopping experience, whether it is online or in-store. And a lot of that come down to preference. I will likely continue to shop all four stores, and there isn't one among them I don't recommend.


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Curated subscription review: Glossybox


I was really, really excited about the US launch of Glossybox. First, I'd heard good things about the UK version (and some good things about the Canadian version). Secondly, I adored my first petiteBox, which is put out by the same company. Finally, the website just looked so nice! The boxes are a bit steep in price, at $21/month for "5 exciting travel-sized beauty products," but I queued up for the US beta launch anyway.

I joined Glossybox on May 10. On May 25, my box shipped. It arrived on May 30. This is all slow enough to annoy me, but it's within the range of normal, probably, so I can't complain too much about it.

The packaging is as nice as the website shows. The box is a light pink, heavy cardboard container with separate lid and the little Glossybox crown logo on the top. It's very reusable.


Inside, the packaging continues to impress, with the products neatly wrapped in tissue, a real ribbon, and Glossybox's informational card:


But what about the real test? These were the products I received (and I believe they were the same across Glossybox subscribers, though I am not 100% sure on that):

-1.7 oz Phyto Phytojoba Intense Hydrating Mask for Dry Hair ($38 for 6.7 oz, estimated value $9.64)
-.028 oz Burberry Lip Mist in Copper No. 202 ($30 for .12 oz, estimated value $7)
-.5 oz (full-sized) Zoya Nail Polish in Reagan (estimated value $8)
-.27 oz Amore-Pacific Moisture Bound Refreshing Oil-Free Hydra-Gel ($100 for 1.7 oz, estimated value $15.88)
-1.29 oz (full-size) Marvis Whitening Mint toothpaste (estimated value $7.50)
-Glossybox branded blush brush

Total estimated value: $48.02 (plus the brush)

As far as value goes, I'd give Glossybox a middling mark--yes, the products are worth more than twice what I paid for the box, but I regularly see values this high and higher with lower price-tag boxes (Beauty Army and Birchbox come to mind). While this box by no means felt like a rip-off, it's not the most cost-effective box I've received, either.

The variety of the products was nice--a hair product, a skin product, a nail polish, and a makeup product, rounded out by a toothpaste. The toothpaste I found a little bit weird, frankly, but I love the Marvis packaging so much that I can't complain, and it was, at least, full-sized. I liked the size of the products in general--the cheaper products (nail polish and toothpaste) are full-sized, and the more expensive products are big enough samples to get some real use from.

The thing I liked the most about this box was that the products are all things I'd like to use/try. The Burberry Lip Mist, unfortunately, is a wretched color for me, but that's a luck-of-the-draw thing and not remotely Glossybox's fault. The nail polish is a great summer color and I plan to use it the next time I paint my toenails (i.e. when I can reach them again). The hair mask will be useful for summer-fried hair. The toothpaste will go in my travel supplies and be used eventually. The moisturizer will be added to my ever-rotating lineup. I also really appreciated the "extra" of the brush, which seems to be of a fairly high quality. There is nothing in this box that isn't usable, nothing that I pulled out and wondered why they'd bothered. That helps with the feeling of getting a little luxurious gift, and I appreciate it.

I can't unequivocally recommend Glossybox yet, but I am hopeful and I will certainly be keeping an active subscription for a couple more months to see how they progress. I'll keep you updated.

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Letter to Buzzy #1


Dear Buzzy,

OK, first, about the Buzzy thing--I'm so sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen. You needed an in utero name, and first it was Party Boy (which is totally your dad's fault and I had nothing to do with), but that didn't really suit you, since you were so insistent so early on that I should have no fun and feel like crap. So, Erin christened you Baby Buzzkill, and it stuck. I am very much hoping that once you're born and have an actual name, the Buzzy thing will be but a distant memory, but I kinda suspect it's gonna hang on, at least in some circles.

Speaking of your name, I suppose I should also tell you that I wanted, for a few days, to name you Waylon. Your dad wouldn't let me. However, I did get the promise of a basset hound named Waylon down the line, so all is not lost.

Now then, the timing of this letter: I intended, last fall when I first got knocked up, to write you a letter monthly and save them all for you, because I thought it would be fun not only for me to record how this pregnancy thing goes, but for you, one day, to read about what it was like for me when you were on the inside. Clearly, since you've been hanging out in there for nine months and this is Letter #1, I fell down on the job. I blame the five months of puking, followed by the four months of swollen feet and anxiety. Better late than never, right?

Actually, I think I've been avoiding writing not just out of laziness and distraction, but because I don't want you to feel bad for what I'm going to say about being pregnant. That's dumb, though, because by the time you read this, you'll be smart enough to know you had nothing to do with it (though I have to tell you the truth, kid, I do sometimes feel like you're just in there fucking with me). Hopefully by the time you're old enough to ask me about it, I'll have forgotten just how much I hated pregnancy. Or I'll lie. But the truth is that being pregnant with you has been god-awful miserable and I've more or less hated every minute of it. For the first trimester-and-a-half, I was horribly sick. I lost almost 40 pounds. I couldn't eat and I threw up all the time. So it wasn't an auspicious start. Since then, it's been better, but those happy, fun second trimester side effects, like energy and glowing skin and increased sex drive? I didn't get them. Instead, I got massively swollen feet (and that, more than anything, is what has had me believing you do have some hand in this and you're just messing with me), anxiety, and high blood pressure. Now, with less than three weeks to go before you're supposed to show up, I'm just plain miserable. I don't look that big, but I feel enormous, I weigh more than I ever imagined I could (those 40 pounds came back, and brought friends), I can't sleep, I can't get comfortable, my feet are so swollen I have to wear flip flops everywhere, I've been relegated to the most atrocious clothing imaginable, and you insist on moving in the most uncomfortable way possible several times an hour, just to make sure I still know you're there. Some people don't mind being pregnant. Some people even like it. Your mom hated it.

All of that said, there is something (God help me for using this word) magical happening right now. You're on your way--the midwife told me yesterday that she'd be surprised if you were late--and we are, about as much as we're ever going to be, ready for you. We have all of the endless baby crap we need, and lots that I'm sure we don't. Your turquoise room is painted, your sleeping places are put together, your car seat is installed. We've been making a place for you in our lives for months, shifting our priorities around the same way my organs are being shifted around, so you'll fit, and now it's mostly done. All that is really missing is you.

Even after carrying you around for all of these weeks, it's still hard for me to picture you in there, growing, getting hair, starting to move down towards the exit. What I can picture, however, and have started picturing on the regular, is what you'll look like once you're on the outside. Will you look like Mark, or like me? In my mind, I've got features picked out for you, a mix of his and mine--you're a blonde baby (though I know your Grandma Irene would be especially pleased if you defeated the odds and came out red-headed), with a nose like Mark's and a mouth like mine. You come out blue-eyed, as white babies tend to do, but you end up carrying on the hazel-eyed gene I got from my dad. You are a big baby, with long fingers and toes. I know, though, that as soon as I see what you are really like, I'm not even going to remember how I imagined you'd be. You'll be exactly what you're supposed to be.

And will you be a boy or a girl? It's a subject of endless debate, though very little of it is actually between Mark and I, both of whom seem content either way. I've said since the beginning that I thought you were a girl, and I still do, though the feeling isn't particularly strong either way and I won't be surprised if you're a boy. Mark says he thinks you're a boy, but he's not convinced either way, either. My mom is sure you're a boy--she thought your 20-week ultrasound picture looked "masculine." I am reproducing said picture here just to show you how ridiculous that really is:

Yeah. Grandma Penny is a nutter.

I've been trying to figure out if, deep down, I want you to be a girl or a boy. I've always said I wanted a boy, since somebody raising boys into a new kind of men is the only way I can see any hope for the survival of our species. Turns out, though, when it's not an abstract concept anymore, I don't care so much about the survival of our species--I can imagine you fondly in any sex. I try to tease a preference out of myself, but I really can't find one.

One thing I do have a preference about, and I get about as much say in this as I do in your sex, is that you hold off your arrival until my mom gets here. I know it's important to her to be here, and it's important to me to have her here. (It's also important, most important, maybe, to your dad, who does not want to have to deal with me in labor alone.) She's coming five days before your due date, so if you can just not decide to start life as a pathologically early child, that would be great. Right on your due date would be super, but anytime during that week would work out very nicely. I tend towards the slightly late side myself, in general, so I'll probably consider it an annoyance, but also a sign that you're like me, if you hold out a few extra days. If you go buck wild and wait until the 4th of July to be born, I promise not to name you Amerika or anything, though I probably will be pretty cranky by then.

I've mentioned my anxiety a couple of times, and it's true that it's gone a bit off the rails over the past few weeks. I worry about every possible thing I could do wrong once you're here, and then I worry about the things I don't know I could do wrong and thus don't know to worry about. This is, I'm told, well within the realm of normal, though it feels a bit pathological to me. I guess anytime you embark upon something this big, and this new, you're bound to have a few pre-performance jitters. Oddly enough, the only thing I am not worried about is labor. I figure that will sort itself out, one way or the other, and the idea of pain doesn't keep me up at night nearly so well as the idea of incompetence. Then again, I may not know how to be a mom yet, but you don't even know how to be a human, so maybe you should be the one anxious one? I promise I'll help you figure it out if you do the same for me.

I guess I should explain, before I go, why this letter is here, on this blog, instead of written in longhand in a box somewhere to give to you when you turn something-teen/on your wedding day/the day of the birth of your first child/some other auspicious occasion. Mostly because I am a member of the computer generation and writing longhand hurts my hand. Also because I write better for an audience, and I'm not good with delayed gratification. You're my intended audience, but it's going to be years before you ever read this, and even then I'll probably get a completely underwhelming reaction (I'm picturing a teenaged you complaining about me being long-winded--please don't ever get the haircut I am picturing you having). This blog is where I store my stuff, random collection as it is, and it seems like as good a place as any to put this, for now. I promise that once you get big enough for the things I write about you to potential be embarrassing, I will re-think this Internet open book strategy.

As I close this letter, you've started to move around in my belly after being calm for the last hour or so. You must know I am thinking of going to bed--you're kind of a brat that way. You are big enough that your body parts are creating weird alien lumps, so that my stomach is rarely a smooth globe anymore. Right now, something I assume to be your butt looks an awful lot like a tumor just to the left of my belly button. What? I said I'd not write things that might embarrass you later, not now. As long as you're still in my body, you're totally fair game.

I can't wait to meet you. It's the thing I'm looking forward to second most in the world right now. After not being pregnant anymore. Or maybe it's the other way around...


Your Mom


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Fighting the exhaustion


I'm still trying to keep up with blogging a few days a week, but no promises, y'all. I'm 37 weeks pregnant and I am EXHAUSTED. Carrying this kid around has gotten to be real work!

I'm also a bit lacking in brain power--I've tried a couple of times to write posts and they've been less than coherent.

But hey, you can see what I look like!

And how I feel about it...


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Along with the huge spate of monthly or quarterly subscription sample boxes that have popped up lately, there have been a few more sporadic offerings. These are similar boxes of beauty samples, but they are one-time purchases that come around every now and again, not subscription programs. I recently learned about two of these offerings and thought I'd review them for you here. I can see both costs and benefits to this model--you aren't tied into anything and it's not a monthly (or quarterly) expense, which is nice. However, you have to remember to order each time a new box comes out, and the regularly arriving gift in the mail aspect is lost. Mostly, it probably depends on what you are into these boxes for whether these types of services are better or worse for you.

Beauty Cache

The first non-recurring offering I found was the SkinCareRx Beauty Cache bag. For $29.99, plus S&H, the Beauty Cache promises "a myriad of products designed to exfoliate dull skin, create luscious locks, repair sun damage, and add vibrant color." Unlike the majority of these programs, everything that will be in the bag is detailed on the site, aside from one "full-sized mystery gift." The site does not, however, tell you how large each sample will be.

I ordered my Beauty Cache bag on May 23, got a shipping notice for it the next day, and received it on May 26, so shipping was very quick. The packaging was unremarkable--a regular mailing box, with the blue plastic Beauty Cache bag and a few loose items inside.

This is what I received from Beauty Cache:
beauty cache.jpg

-10 CANE + AUSTIN Retexturizing 10% Glycolic Treatment Pads ($60 for 60 pads; estimated value $10)
-2 oz Oscar Blandi Smoothing Shampoo & 2 oz Oscar Blandi Smoothing Conditioner ($23 for 8.45 oz each, estimated value $5.44 each)
-.5 oz Nuxe Reve de Miel Hand & Nail Cream ($22.85 for 2.6 oz, estimated value $4.39)
-1 oz DHC Deep Cleansing Oil ($26 for 6.7 oz, estimated value $3.88)
-2 .05 oz Priori Smoothing Eye Serum packets ($66 for .5 oz, estimated value $6.60 each)
-.07 oz elta MD SPF 47 UV Clear Sunscreen for Acne Prone Skin packet ($29 for 1.7 oz, estimated value $1.19)
-.068 oz Peter Thomas Roth Laser-Free Resurfacer packet ($75 for 1 oz, estimated value $5.10)
-full-size Delux Beauty lipliner in Nudey Shimmer (discontinued product)
-.34 oz NIA 24 Physical Cleansing Scrub ($35 for 3.75 oz, estimated value $3.17)
-2 small (estimate .25 oz) M2 Skin Recovery Moisturizers ($49.98 for 1.7 oz, estimated value $7.35 each)
-small (estimated .1 oz) Jane Iredale PureLash Extender and Conditioner ($16.50 for .3 oz, estimated value $5.50)
-full-sized Cargo eye shadow duo in Vienna (being discontinued, estimated value $6)
-$20 off $100 purchase at coupon

Total estimated value: $78.01

There were definitely things I liked about the Beauty Cache bag. I thought the CANE + AUSTIN pads were a great inclusion, and it's awesome that there are ten of them, so you can really get a feel for how they work. The shampoo and conditioner samples were very generous and Oscar Blandi is a good line, in my experience. I'm curious about the deep cleansing oil and, again, happy with the sample size. I'll also look forward to trying the M2 moisturizer, and I think it's great that they included two tubes, since they're fairly small.

The thing I'm always most excited about, however, is the makeup, and it irritates me that both of the makeup products included in the bag (including the special "full-sized mystery gift!") are discontinued/being discontinued. That kind of feels like a cheat to me. While I will probably use both products, I don't like feeling that I am paying for what amount to remnants. More practically, what happens if I decide I love something (which is part of the idea of these sample collections, after all)? It's no longer available. I'd prefer companies stick to samples of products that are still on the market.

Overall, this is one I'll probably try again next time it comes up--the value is definitely there. I just hope they don't lean too heavily on the little foil packets (though at least there were plenty of them!) or outdated makeup in the future.

Total Beauty Collection

Total Beauty Collection works pretty much like the monthly sample services--for $15, including S&H, they send 4-6 "deluxe beauty samples." The only difference is that it isn't a subscription--you have to re-order every time they come out with a new box (and I'm not clear, based on their site, on how often that happens). I ordered my Total Beauty Collection box on May 24, got a shipping notice on May 25, and the box arrived on May 29 (with the 28th being a holiday), so once again, shipping was very fast.

Packaging was so-so. The cardboard Total Beauty Collection box arrived inside another, plain cardboard mailing box. It's not anything re-usable. The products inside were packaged loosely in paper packing material, but nothing was broken.

This is what I received:
total beauty collection.jpg
-.3 oz Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil ($24 for 1.7 oz, estimated value $4.24)
-.09 oz Senna Lip Lacquer in Awake ($19 for .25 oz, estimated value $6.84)
-.15 oz likewise Daily Skincare Moisturizer/Sunscreen ($44 for 1.69 oz, estimated value $3.91)
-.1 oz Scientific Organics emerginC Phytocell Detox Mask ($50 for 1.69 oz, estimated value $2.96)
-.006 oz Pixi Eye Bright Primer ($18 for .08 oz, estimated value $1.35)

Total estimated value: $19.30

I bet you can guess what I am going to complain about! These samples are SMALL. The two skincare samples are not more than single or, at most, double use size, and the makeup samples are only a few uses worth as well. Because of these small sample sizes, and the general quality of the products (Pixi, for example, is sold at Target), the total value of this box is barely over the price tag paid for it--unusual for these types of boxes. More than most boxes I receive, these samples felt like samples I'd get free, either with a purchase or just by being polite to a salesperson. With the exception of the likewise moisturizer/sunscreen, which I am excited to try, there was also nothing included in this box that wowed me. These are products I've either seen before or products that don't strike me as particularly "deluxe." I'll be skipping future Total Beauty Collection offerings.

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