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Thinking Inside the Box: April Birch Box

The third box for the Round Two Trials is the beloved Birch Box. I don’t have any experience with the service, but I did subscribe to Ipsy, which is similar, for a while.  I’d recently read some great reviews by various other bloggers, specifically how much the boxes have improved since they began partnering up with other companies to design the box of the month, so I figured I’d give it a go.


What I Got:

  • Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream (Lavendar) – I am a little torn when it comes to this product. It worked great, probably the best shave cream I’ve ever used, but I didn’t like it. My legs were the “silky smooth” we all wish for, but the smell was a little overpowering and I had to rinse the tub after I was done because the cream left little clumps all over the bottom of the tub. Which was a little gross.
  • English Laundry Notting Hill Perfume – Out of all the items in my April box, this was my favorite. I have been on the search for a new, more sophisticated fragrance for the last few months. I found a serious contender a couple of months ago, but after using up the sample, I found out the bottle was $100. This one is only a little better at $70, but hey 30 bucks, right? I think what appealed to me most about the overall fragrance was the balance of scents. It was floral without being powdery or matronly, the citrus notes kept things clean and sharp, and the vanilla added a pleasing warmth. Even better, you only need a drop or two to keep you smelling nice all day.
  • Acure Organics Pore Minimizing Face Scrub – I have been blessed with good skin. A bit of occasional dryness or redness, but all and all not much to complain about. I didn’t even bother to try this.
  • Au Naturale Cosmetic Trio (Lovely) – While this sample pack was pretty cute, it wasn’t the easiest to use. The lipstick and blush were solidly okay, even if they weren’t my first choice for colors, and the ivory shimmer was really pretty with some of the colors from my Naked pallet. Not something I will go out and buy, but I liked trying them out and I was happy that I had the chance to.
  • Oi Shampoo & Conditioner – Again with the scent! Like the shave cream, this shampoo was way too strong for me. I could see it working for someone who only has to wash their hair ever few days, since the scent would mellow, but I have to wash mine everyday. The conditioner was better, and I used the entire packet, but it wasn’t amazing enough for me to run out and buy a bottle.
  • Oi All in One Milk – Another product I didn’t try. My hair is super fine, and one of the reasons I have to wash it everyday is that it gets oily very easily. I know from experience that I absolutely cannot use leave in conditioners.

I hate to say it, but for this month, the most exciting thing about my Birch Box was the actual box. I really liked the design from Rifle Paper Co, and I’ll probably use it to store something in. There were a few things I was excited to try, but it definitely sucked that there were two samples that were essentially useless.

$20 a Month

After fudging the budget a little on last month’s products, I strictly held myself to the $20 limit. It was a little difficult since I didn’t buy everything in the same place at the same time, but I managed. So here we go.

$20 a Month - April

Soap Box Apple Body Wash -I got to try their “Black Soap” body wash in my Vegan Beauty Box. It was a little too strongly scented for me, but the idea of one bottle providing vitamins for a child for a year made me willing to give it another go. Fortunately, my local Earth Fare stocks several different scents so I decided to try the apple. It’s a great body wash, nice lather, leaves my skin soft and free from residue. The apple scent was a lot better than the black soap, still not really my thing, but I’d buy it again. For the children.

Sally Hansen T ripple Shine Nail Polish – I was really disappointed in this polish. Sally Hansen is a pretty solid brand, one that I used for years before I could afford to invest a little more in my cosmetics. The coverage was inconsistent, and even worse, it never fully dried. The first time I tried it I thought maybe I put on too many coats trying to even the coverage out, so I tried again a few days later with only two thin coats, and an hour and a half later it still wasn’t dry. Fail.

Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion Face Scrub – my Friend Jenn is a HUGE fan of  Body Shop beauty products and she has been encouraging me to try them for a while now. For me, the biggest draw back was the price; I don’t mind spending $5 or maybe even $10 on something I may only use a couple of times, but $20+ was more than I was willing to invest on something I might not like. I was in Ulta a few weeks ago, and they had a bunch of Body Shop samples by the register for the low low price of $2.50 each, so I decided to give it a go and grabbed a face scrub. I LOVE IT SO MUCH! While my skin is usually really smooth, I will occasionally get bumpy dry patches. This scrub lessened the irritation, got rid of the dead skin, and left my skin feeling hydrated. Bonus, I got three uses out of a single packet. I went back for a full size, but they were out, so I grabbed the last two sample packs to hold me over until they restock.

Freeman Facial Enzyme Pineapple Mask – this was a cheating a little bit; I already knew I was a fan of this mask. My friend Stefanie and I used this for spa nights while we were in college, and I loved it then.  But it’s been a few years and the formula or my skin could have changed right? Fortunately, neither has; the smell is fruity and wonderful, it doesn’t drip, and it leaves your skin feeling so very, very soft.


Some really good stuff and some not so good, but all in all not a bad month product-wise.



A new cupcake shop named Gigi’s just opened up right around the corner from my house.  Andy and I had been watching the construction for a while since we usually get stuck in rush hour traffic right outside the shopping center where it went in.  We gave it about a week and then we picked up 4 cupcakes on our way home from the grocery store. Here is how it went.

Gigi 1 Gigi 2 Gigi 4 Gigi 3

We picked out Cookies & Creme, Wedding Cake, Apple Pie and Banana Split.

Gigi 6 Gigi 5
Banana Split – Strawberry cake with banana frosting, dipped in chocolate shell and garnished with a cherry, chopped nuts and a banana slice. Not really my thing, but Andy liked the mix of flavors and said he’d definitely get it again.

Wedding Cake – White cake with vanilla frosting and white sprinkles. Not really Andy’s thing, but I enjoyed it. I like to get a baseline for the quality of a company’s cupcakes by ordering the plainest thing they have on the menu. Complicated flavors are actually easier to execute than simple ones, and this simple cupcake was amazing. I’d get it again over all the other flavors because it was just that good.Gigi 7

Apple Pie – Spice cake with cinnamon frosting, apple pie topping and cinnamon crumbles. Andy and I both agree that while this was a good cupcake, it would have been better had they dialed back the sweet a little bit or added more of the tart apple pie filling.

Gigi 8

Cookies and Creme – Chocolate cake with Oreo frosting and Oreo crumbles. This was Andy’s favorite; a little sweet for me, but still pretty good.

Overall Gigi’s cupcakes were really good; we don’t really eat cupcakes a lot, but we’ll definitely go back. Check out the website for their daily flavors. For my gluten free friends, Gigi’s has Gluten Free Friday ever week where they make 3 special gluten free flavors (you have to go to the store to find out what the flavors of the week are).

Sephora & OPI

I love buying nail polish, which is a little strange considering due to the amount of typing, crafting and baking I can never keep a polish chip free for more than a day. My toes fare a little better, since I try to get at least one pedicure a month.  As i’ve gotten older, I have become a bit of a polish snob, I am extremely picky about the brands i’ll use, and right now I am favoring Essie and OPI and since OPI makes an exclusive Sephora line I have been stocking up on the some of the more interesting shades.  When the Garden of Good and Evil collection debuted I was a little torn. Most of the colors are not really what I normally wear, I lean more towards deep reds, violets, and almost blacks, but I was curious enough to give them a try.

To the amusement of the ladies working at my local Sephora, I used the testers to give my self a rainbow manicure and then decided what colors I wanted to invest in. I had pictures, but my nails were in really poor shape by the time I had my camera back in hand.

Finally, after much debate and inner turmoil (I kid you not) I ended up with the sample pack and a regular size of the Designer Fig Leaf, so here is my review:

Designer Fig Leaf: An opaque metallic olive green, probably my favorite of the bunch. I would recommend a minimum of two coats for nails Poison Ivy would be proud of.

Completely Fern-ished: A matte olive green that is exclusive to the sample pack, while I like it, it sort of looks like the other green’s ugly sister by comparison.

Eve-y On the Eyes: A really lovely cool shimmery fuchsia, something that would be great on any skin tone.

Tempted by Teal: A bright iridescent teal that shifts gold and silverish, almost exactly like Mermaid to Order, which is one of my favorite summer shades, but a little less opalescent.

Frankly I Don’t Give A-Dam: A matte light grey that was surprisingly feminine, I will be picking up the full size on my next shopping trip.

Overall I really think this collection has something for everyone, and the sample pack is a great way to try some colors that you may not usually wear. It’s definitely inspired me to branch out from my red-purple safety net, and i’ve received lots of complements on my new green nails.