Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Harrison Blake Apparel Monthly Club - November Review

I recently found Harrison Blake Apparel and decided to try out their monthly club in hopes of getting a few things I can use as Christmas gifts for my teenage sons and husband.  Both of my boys wear 'fancy duds' often but they are also becoming quite fussy in the quality of their clothing and accessories.  I wasn't sure how HB would measure up but thought it was worth a try.

All of the details on the Selected club can be found here, but in a nutshell it's $25 US for 1 necktie and 4 other accessories.  From what I've seen of past boxes (which they have photos of on their site), the accessories typically include pocket squares, tie bars, lapel pins, bracelets or watches.  All items are HB brand so you can't really compare the prices elsewhere.  There is a bow tie club available as well.

You are billed on the 20th of the month for the next month's box.   I asked if I could get November's even though I subscribed on Nov. 3 and sure enough, they shipped it to me right away on Nov. 6.  I received it today, Nov. 17th which is an excellent turn around time for something coming from the US.


This month was extra-special as there were 6 items rather than the usual 5.  There is a card included itemizing the items and providing a retail price.

1.  Rosette Lapel Pin - $15
2.  Microfibre pocket square - $18
3. Knit necktie - $25
4. Anchor tie bar - $24
5. Leather Anchor bracelet - $12
6. Stainless Steel collar stays - $20


They did a great job on this month's theme - the items look great together.  I don't think any of the males in my house would wear anchor items on a daily basis (but with teenagers, who knows), but we go on a cruise every couple of years so they will definitely wear them then.  My oldest son LOVES knit ties so I know he will love this one.  He wears pocket squares all of the time at work and he's also starting to wear lapel pins so I think this month's box will be part of his Christmas present.   Overall, $114 retail value for $25 is a great deal.  As for quality of the items, the tie and pocket square felt very nice.  We'll have to see how well they hold up after a few uses but they appear to be good quality.

The item I like the most are the collar stays.  These will definitely get used.  They have small magnets to keep them in place - what an excellent idea!  I checked on their site to see if I could purchase an additional pair but they are only available in this box.

If you are interested in this particular box, it is available for $35 on their site now.

If you are interested in a sneak peek of December's box, you can find that here.  I know my boys will be happy with everything in it!  I'm thinking of getting a second box for a gift for my nephew too.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Little Life Box November review

Oh how I love my Little Life Box.  I didn't get it last month and I missed it.  I purchased a one year subscription that I thought was auto-renewing, but it doesn't.  I had to go back on to their site and purchase another.  Not a big deal, just meant I missed a month of goodies.

As you can see, LLB changed their look - version 2.0 they say - it's a new colorful logo and the boxes are now white.  Looked different on the outside, but still the same awesomeness inside.

All of the details can be found on their site HERE.  Very simply - Your new healthy essentials. In a box.  At your door.  Every month.

This month's box is super loaded:

As usual, there is a good variety of items but mostly snacks and foods which suits me just fine.  There is always a mixture of samples and full sized items.  This month included the following goodies:

1. Flap Jacked buttermilk Protein Pancake Mix $3.65

Why have I never thought to add protein powder to my pancakes?  My kids love pancakes so I have many healthy recipes, but having a mix can be super handy.  All you need to add is 1 cup water and the mix will make 6-8 pancakes.  I checked out the company website here and see they have single serving protein muffin mixes too - chocolatey goodness.  A bag of the pancake mix sells for $9 on flapjack's site and $11 on LLB's (due to fact they are a US site and LLB is Canadian) - this sample is one-third of a full-sized bag.

2.  PB & Me all natural Powdered Peanut Butter - $8

I've been wanting to try powdered PB for a long time so I love that I got this one.  From the companies website: The original all-natural, low-fat peanut butter. Made with premium roasted peanuts, PB&Me traditional flavour is lightly blended with a hint of sweetness to create the delicious peanut butter you grew up eating, without the calories of course! PB&Me is a fresh take on Peanut Butter. We remove 90% of the fat from the peanuts - resulting a delicious alternative to traditional peanut butter, with 2x the proteins per gram than traditional stuff.  PB&Me's uses are endless! Add a little water to enjoy it as a spread, use it as an ingredient in your shakes, absolutely delicious in baking, or simply enjoy it by the spoonful!  2 Tablespoons of mix to 1 T of water - how simple is that!  This is a 180g bag, it's sold for $9 for a 200 g jar online.  Love that it's a Canadian company too!

3.  Simple 7 Quinoa Chips $1.25

MMM, chips, but healthy ones!  No fat, no artificial colors or flavors, no perservatives, gluten free all clean ingredients.  This is a 23 g bag.  A full size (99g) size bag is $4.  According to LLBs site they are available at health food stores as well as some major grocery chains (Sobeys, Loblaws, etc.).  Made in the USA.

4.  eLan Sunflower Seeds $3

Sunflower seeds without all the effort of shelling.  Organic, GMO and gluten free.  Packaged in Canada but from China.  This is a big bag (200g) and is priced at $3 on LLB so seems like a great value.

5.  Four o'Clock Tea bags - $0.50

This company has been included in the box in the past, but these are two new flavors which I'll be happy to try.  Gingerbread and Almond Biscotti.  Available in many healthy or organic food stores across Canada.  Another Canadian company.

6.  Real Salt - Nature's finest sea salt - $0.20

This is a really cute and very small salt shaker.  So cute. All-natural sea salt with more than 60 trace minerals, a unique taste their customers love, and reports of health benefits around the globe. Don’t we all just like it simple!  135g sells for $4.79 on Well.ca so this is really only worth about $0.20 but it's a cute addition to the box.

7.  Amazing Grass Raw Reserve Super food Berry flavored mixes - $4

We've received these in a past box, just not the Berry flavor.  I'm going to pass these on to my husband and see what he thinks.  I wasn't fond of the other but I'm not so good with green powdering stuff.  Count them, if you dare: Amazing Grass Raw Reserve contains twenty five billion probiotics per serving. You could say it’s their ultimate combination of whole organic superfoods.  These are sold on Amazing Grasses site for $2/package

8.  Planima hazelnut cacao + maca sprouted vitality bar - $3.50

The Hazelnut Cacao bar combines the creamy taste of hazelnut butter with raw Peruvian cacao in a rich brownie-like treat. It's filled with crispy nuts and seeds, plus raw cacao nibs and maca root for an energizing boost in vitality and focus.  Enjoy the enhanced flavor and nutrition of living nuts and seeds that have been brought to life by soaking, sprouting, and gentle dehydration to preserve their life force.  Only the most nutritious whole food ingredients have been selected. No artificial ingredients or additives, ever.  Sounds super healthy and with cocao can it be bad?  Another Canadian company, this one appears to be founded by some young heath enthusiast.  

9.  Neocell Beauty bursts Gourmet Collagen soft chews - $1

Soft chewy candies that result in better complexion, nails and hair - yes please!  NeoCell Beauty Bursts deliver high absorption beauty nutrients in delectable, gourmet soft chews. Collagen Type 1 & 3 is the body's beauty protein & strengthens skin, hair & nails. Hyaluronic Acid is know as "Nature's Moisturizer" & hydrates the skin. Vitamin C is essential to boosting collagen in the skin.  Well.ca sells bags of 60 for $28.

10.  Earth paste toothpaste - $0.50

All natural, lemon twist and peppermint flavored toothpaste.  These packages will be super handy for an overnight trip.  Can be purchased online in tubes or in these travel sized packages for $6/24 packs.

11. Buckthorn Sniffle Stick - $5

A natural way of being.  Looks like a chap stick, but it's actually an essential oil blend to apply to your chest and nostrils when you have the sniffles.  I used essential oils all of the time when someone in the house has a cold, but this is perfect and easy to use.  Love this! Available on their site (but I couldn't find it) and well.ca.  Another Canadian company who need to update their website though!

12.  Weleda Anrica Massage Oil 0.06 oz sample - $0.40

  • Nourishes skin with antioxidant-rich sunflower and olive oils
  • Addresses muscle aches and soreness with extract of ecologically harvested arnica
  • 100% natural fragrance of rosemary and lavender helps the mind to relax
  • 3.4 oz bottles is available from Amazon.ca for $24.

    13.  Urban Spa classic nail brush - $3

    Another Canadian company, this will go straight into my basket of goodies near my bath tub.


    LOTS of stuff in this box.  It's taken me quite a bit longer than usual to write this post, which is a good thing.  The value of this box is $34 and I paid $25 for it.  Best of all though, I was introduced to quite a few new companies and products.  Happy, happy!

    Wednesday, November 4, 2015

    Jule's Wellness Lifestyle November box review

    It's always a happy day when my box from Jule's Wellness arrives.

    Jule's Wellness is a Canadian company, supporting Canadian business.  I receive a themed box each month with high-quality and health-conscious products.  What else could I ask for???

    The Details:

    From the Website:
    We hand-select health-conscious & female focused lifestyle products every month for our subscription box service. Surprise yourself or a loved one monthly to luxury wellness lifestyle products! This isn't just a box of sample packs... we send you an assortment of goodies from our boutique!

    Cost:  $34.32/month including shipping

    Item you are interested in purchasing after you've had a chance to sample them in the box, can be purchased in the online boutique.  You will receive a 10% discount code with your box.

    This month, the box contains some culinary favorites and staples.  As always, there was an information card and this month we also received a recipe card.

    This Month's goodies:

    Lee's Ghee:

    I have never tried Ghee before, so I guess this is a good time to start.  The butter is sourced from Ontario's Organic Meadow.  The website and card provide a lot of information on the health benefits and uses of Ghee.  The price online is $20/255g.  This is a 125g size so I valued it at $11.  

    Earth's Choice Organic Coconut Milk:

    We use coconut milk mostly in baking or smoothies in our house and this is a good size for that at 160 ml.  This is not available on their site, but I'm estimating it at $1.60 based on similar products.  

    Celtic Grey Sea Salt:

    I've used white and pink sea salt, but never grey, so this will be nice to try. This is a full sized 8 oz container, valued at $8 on their site. From the site: Light Grey Celtic® is a whole crystal (coarse), moist salt that is mineral-rich, completely unrefined and hand harvested. Dried by the sun and the wind; it retains the ocean’s moisture, locking in a vast array of vital trace elements. Light Grey Celtic® gets its light grey hue from the pure clay lining of the salt beds where it is harvested.
    Light Grey Celtic® is perfect for use in a grinder and for cooking. The whole crystals dissolve with heat and moisture, enhancing food with its rustic, old-world flavor while adding vital nutrients to your diet.

    Acropolis Organic Mousto Balsamic Vinegar:

    I LOVE Balsamic Vinegar.  I just opened a new bottle though so I'm going to keep this one sealed until I've used that one up.  This is a great sized bottle (250 ml) which is priced at $12 on the site.  From the site:    Created from an ancient recipe, Acropolis Organics mousto balsamic vinegar is made from Romeiki grapes to deliver a taste as rich and dynamic as Crete's history and culture.
    Unlike most modern balsamic to which cane sugar is added, our Mousto Balsamic is enhanced with Petimezi - a natural, ancient grape molasses, which gives our vinegar a full fruity sweetness. It's then aged in oak barrels for six years to further enrich its flavor. The refined chef's choice ingredient, Mousto Balsamic will transform your salads, vegetables, pasta, meat and seafood dishes into culinary works of art.  This is a product of Crete.

    Jaswant's Kitchen Tadka Masala 100% Natural Indian Spice

    Thanks to a very close Indian family friend, my kids have a developed a love of Indian food.  I've never attempted much but this I will use for sure.  They included a very simple recipe for salmon that even I shouldn't be able to mess up.  Again, this product is produced in Canada.  Price online is $8.


    This box contains 5 items which will all be used.  The value is there, adding up to approximately $40.  Unfortunately, it didn't feel as exciting to me as some of the past boxes, but I guess that's because it contained staple items.  I'm hoping next month's box will be one that feels more like presents with Christmas coming.

    Tuesday, November 3, 2015

    House Box response

    I really don't like complaining.  I will go out of my way to avoid confrontation any kind.  I was raised by the old "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" philosophy.

    I don't like posting poor reviews, but the last one was a negative review.  After a few days, I thought i should at least give the company an opportunity to respond.  I sent Alison, the owner of House Box, an eMail expressing my disappointment in the first box, a link to my post and a request to cancel my subscription.

    Here is her response:

    Hi Joann,
    Thanks for letting me know about your blog post, and about your feelings of disappointment towards the service. I am truly sad that you felt the value was not there, as the box was carefully thought out and curated to present new ideas for household items. I understand that not everyone will love the service and will feel that the product total is not worth the money spent. All I can say is that the idea is to present new ideas, not necessarily deliver a dollar value of product.

    When I first thought of the company, I had no idea how much all the things that went into producing a shipment was going to cost, and was completely shocked when I learned what shipping costs were! Ideally, the cost would be closer to $15/box plus $5 shipping, but then it would be costing me money to produce. As we become more established and our brand is recognized, I hope we will be able to include more high value "deluxe" samples. And I understand that when our volume of shipments increases, we will be offered lower shipping rates, which we will gladly pass along to our subscribers. I am sorry to see you cancel your subscription, but I understand it was disappointing if it was not what you had in mind.
    Allison Brown

    Although she was very polite in her response, I'm certainly not changing my mind about the subscription.  Firstly, these really weren't 'new ideas' that were being presented.  I use all natural laundry detergent and dish soap already (and there are a LOT of options out there and places to purchase them).  Paper straws can be purchased online, or in local department stores.  As for coffee..........nothing new there.  

    As for shipping, I completely get that Canada shipping is pricey - and completely out of her control.  The subscription price does not include shipping - that is an extra $10 which is enough to cover the cost.  Obviously, there are costs of packaging, etc. that need to be covered too but paying $30 for $7 worth of stuff can't all be blamed on shipping. 

    I wish her luck in her business, but I think she's going to have a tough time of it.