Friday, July 31, 2015

Treatsie Gourmet Sweets Review, July 2015 + Double Sweets Code!

After the bullet proof packaging and extraordinary customer service efforts required to protect the chocolate in Treatsie's shipments last summer, I knew better than to expect any chocolate before October this year!  But I think the July box is as good as a gourmet treats box can be without chocolate. All the items arrived in perfect condition, which indicates some really careful curation considering that the temperatures where I live have hovered right around 100 degrees for the past week and a half. 

In case you're new to Treatsie, they send a box full of gourmet sweets each month. The cost is $19.95 but you can get that down to $16.92 a month if you subscribe to the annual plan. There is a $4.95 per month shipping fee. In each box, they feature three different vendors and the value is around $25.  Boxes ship around the third week of each month so Treatsie is one of the last subscription boxes to arrive every month.

Inside the July box were two packages of cookies, a bag of toffee and three licorice bars: 

On the back of the information card is a recipe for Vanilla Bean Lemonade. Treatsie doesn't usually send recipes so I'm not sure what prompted this one except the obvious association between lemonade and summer.  This one uses only vanilla beans, sugar, water and lemon juice.  Looks good and I just might try it.

When I saw the three fruit bars with LICORICE spelled in big black letters on each one, the alarm bells in my head started clanging.  I can't stand licorice.  But I was somewhat taken aback when I saw that they looked like fruit bars and were labeled with the flavors Mango, Strawberry and Cherry. Being extremely skeptical (and wanting to avoid even the slightest risk of licorice getting anywhere near my taste buds), I studied the ingredient list like I was cramming for a final. Not finding anything offensive, I decided to try the tiniest taste.  Guess what?  These are NOTHING like traditional black or red licorice.  They taste like very chewy fruit roll-ups.  I've about polished off the mango flavored one.  When you get past those huge black letters, it says these are all natural "American Style" and "handmade with real fruit" by Anya's Licorice. I must admit; I've been forced to re-evaluate my stance on the subject of licorice!

Next are two packages of cookies from Wackym's Kitchen (in Dallas, of all places). Each package contains a stack of eight cookies that look like shortbread.  One package is full of Margarita cookies, made with fresh lime and sea salt.  These are very crunchy and buttery with a hint of lime and a bit too much sea salt.

The second package contains Salted Caramel cookies which are brown sugar butter cookies topped with sea salt.  Both of these are interesting and tasty sweet and savory treats.

The Trail Mix Tennessee Toffee from Shotwell Candy is a delicious buttery toffee with the addition of sunflower seeds, dried cherries and raisins.  As somewhat of a toffee connoisseur, I can attest that this is REALLY good toffee.  In checking their website, I see that they also have traditional toffee and.....espresso toffee!  I am going to order both; this stuff is addictive.

I really wasn't expecting such a great box this month but Treatsie exceeded expectations and proved that it IS possible for me to get by a month or two without chocolate. By the way, Treatsie has a pretty good points system that really pays off if you're a regular subscriber.  You can earn points for each box you receive, any additional purchases you make or for referrals.  Those points add up quickly and can be redeemed for products in their on-line store.  Having forgotten about their points program, I recently discovered I had $35 worth piled up.  Having that much to spend in Treatsie's store is a NICE problem to have!

If you're ready to try Treatsie, use code FRBUCO01 or FBDOUBLESWEETS to get double the amount of sweets in your first box (that's more than $40 worth of goodness)!

Thanks for reading,


Disclosure:  Views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own.  Product discussed in this post was purchased by Lone Star Shopper. Post may contain referral or affiliate links.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jouer Le Matchbox Review, Summer 2015

Thanks to Birchbox and maybe a couple of other beauty subscriptions, I've had the chance to try a few Jouer cosmetic samples.  Typically, they are beautiful products that are elegantly packaged.  Based on the items I've tried (admittedly limited), I'd put Jouer on a par with the best department store brands...with the price to match. Since I have been intrigued by this brand but didn't have enough knowledge to jump in without a net, I was glad to hear that they've recently made a quarterly subscription box available.

Jouer's Le Matchbox is a customized box containing products matched to your skin tone and type, based on a quiz taken during sign up.  The boxes are shipped quarterly but you can skip any time you want.  The products are mostly full sized and you also get insider savings on their other products.  With a subscription, the cost of the quarterly box is $45.  You can also purchase just one box for $65.00.  

It took one month from the order date for my first box to arrive. Not surprisingly, Jouer sends an elegant gift-quality pale pink box embossed with their name in gold. What did surprise me was that the box and its lid were lined with a very plush velvet-like material.

Le Matchbox contained four full size Jouer products, one luxury sample and an information booklet. All of the full size products were packaged in pale pink gold embossed boxes.

The color booklet features one of the products on each page with a description, application tips and full size retail price.

Notice in the photos below that several of the product cases have odd little tabs and slots on them.  These items are made to interlock with each other so you can create a thoroughly customized palette.  This is an interesting concept that I haven't seen with any other cosmetic company.  I get it but all those little exterior bits and pieces really detract from what would otherwise be very sleek packaging.  I'm not convinced that all my products need to be stuck together!  You be the judge.....

The first item is Jouer's Mineral Powder Bronzer.  This is a lightweight pressed powder containing a lot of good-for-you ingredients like antioxidants and vitamins.  It also contains Japanese Green Tea powder....huh?  This is in a shade called "Suntan" which looks a bit dark for me but I know you can buff out a quality bronzer to pretty much whatever you need. This comes in a long rectangular case with a full length mirror in the lid. (Retail $30)

Next is a Lip Sheer with SPF 15.  This is a Barbie pink shade called "Tulum", not the best color for me but definitely pretty.  This is loaded with all sorts of emollients and sun protection; just wish I'd received a more wearable (for me) color.  (Retail $24)

Eyeshadow is not my thing but I don't remember any way to opt out of receiving it in the initial quiz.  This is a creme eyeshadow in a very versatile and slightly shimmery taupey brown shade called "Organza".  This is a very natural looking color, quite velvety and lightweight. The retail price for a full size single seems extremely high to me. (Retail $22)

I am baffled by the Everyday Effortless Mascara.  Despite all my efforts, threats and use of force, it took me forever to figure out how to open this thing.  Turns out you have to unscrew the base...and mine was stuck tight. That leaves only half an inch of handle which makes the wand extremely difficult to control.  I'm sure I'll have to clean mascara off my fingers every time I use this.  What were they thinking?  Aside from the questionable packaging, this mascara has a Vitamin E rich formula and I like the full shape of the brush.  It's also the first sub box mascara I've EVER received that is not is brown...blondes rejoice!  (Retail $24)


This little package is actually a deluxe sample size of Jouer's lip and cheek tint.  This is a creme product intended for fingertip application and once again, is full of things that are good for your skin.  The color I received is called "Petal"; a very blendable and wearable melon pink.  I like this product; just wish it were full sized!  (Full size retail $22)

So, the retail value of this box (not counting the sample) is right at $100, a little more than double what it cost.  These are lovely products that are good for your skin; I believe they all contain sun protection and some form of hydration.  The packaging of Le Matchbox overall is stunning but I'm not sold on the interlocking cases.  

I believe the Summer box is sold out but if you're interested, be sure to sign up for Jouer's newsletter so you'll be the first to know when the Fall box is available.  (I'm guessing that will be in September.)  Unfortunately, Jouer does not seem to be generous with discounts.  If you know of any, please let me know and I'll update this post.

Oh by the way, "jouer" is the French verb for "to play".  Let the games begin!


Disclosure:  Views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own.  Product discussed in this post was purchased by Lone Star Shopper. Post does not contain referral or affiliate links.

Pet Gift Box Review, July 2015 + $5.00 Discount!

Reviewing the July Pet Gift Box was not in the plan since I rarely review boxes two months in a row. But the contents of the current box are just so darn cute, this box really deserves some attention.  My pup Tucker and I have tried several of the dog boxes now and we both agree that none of them compare to Pet Gift Box. These boxes always have a great theme, the products are top quality and the quantity is more than you get with any other box.

If Tucker were given a small budget and told to build his own subscription box, I'm pretty sure he'd come up with something like this meat-themed box.  If this box doesn't appeal to your dog, you might need to take him or her to the vet.  (I don't care how enlightened you are; your dog is NOT a vegan!)

The information card introduces the "Bark-B-Que!" theme, lists each item and gives its retail price.

This extremely realistic looking cheeseburger ("Burger Buddy") comes from Photo Reel.  It is a chew toy with an enticing crinkly sound when it's played with or chewed.  Squeeze a bit harder and there is a squeaker inside.  (Retail $6.99)

This is an old fashioned steak squeaky toy from Amazing Pet Products.  It has a loud squeak and looks real enough to keep your pup entertained for a while.  This one is not for the most enthusiastic chewers though; Tucker could de-squeak this in about 30 seconds!  (Retail $4.99)

We both like the treats that come in Pet Gift Boxes.  Tucker likes the way they taste and I like the quality.  These Hot Dog Treats from Nathan's are all beef and made in the U.S.A. Tucker is especially happy that he always gets full sized bags of treats. (Retail $7.99)

The most fun and creative additions to this box are three nutritional condiments from Petchup.  These are flavored liquids that add taste and interest to any food...really important for dogs like Tucker who don't like dry food.  There is "Bark B-Q", "Petchup" and "Muttstard".  They all contain Omega 3, 6 and 9, glucosamine and prebiotic. They are also gluten free and low calorie.  (Retail $8.97)

It wouldn't be a meat box without sausages (with smiling faces) on a rope!  This is a toss and tug toy, probably the one Tucker will most enjoy from this box.  (He brings a tug toy to me at least once a day, insisting on a game of fetch combined with "try to take it away from me".) (Retail $5.99)

The second big bag of treats is called Grill-icious All-Natural Chicken Treats.  These are round cookie-shaped treats made with chicken and sweet potato...already a huge hit with Tucker!  (Retail $5.99)

Do you see why I felt compelled to review this box?  Tucker and I have received a lot of different dog subscription boxes but Pet Gift Box consistently sends the one we both most look forward to receiving. The combined retail of this box is $40.92.  The box costs $27.99 on a month to month basis but you can get significant discounts for longer subscriptions, particularly for the annual term, which is only $17.99 a month.  If you've shopped for dog toys and treats lately, you know that's an absolute steal.

O.K., off my soapbox.  Suffice it to say...if you're looking for a dog or cat subscription box, I highly recommend Pet Gift Box.  Click here for a $5 discount off your first box.  Your dog deserves it.  So do you!

Thanks for reading,


Disclosure:  Views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own.  Product discussed in this post was purchased by Lone Star Shopper. Post may contain referral or affiliate links.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Target Beauty Box (Back-to-College) Review, July 2015

Over the past year or so, Target seems to have been all over the place with regard to its Beauty Box. They are clearly experimenting and using it to test market new products and gain exposure for established brands.  They are charging so little for this box (sometimes $7 and sometimes $5) that the buyer is basically just paying the shipping and handling cost.  I strongly suspect the HBA vendors are contributing the product so the net cost to Target is probably little or nothing....a win/win/win situation!

For a while, it looked like Target intended these boxes to be quarterly or seasonal. Since there was a box in June, I wasn't expecting another one in July.  Then they came out with the "Back-to-College:  Head of the Class" box for a measly five bucks. (If you've "liked" my Facebook page, you got a heads up about that and hopefully got one of these boxes.)  I'm not complaining!  Target's Beauty Boxes are a great value and I'd like to see them make it a monthly thing.

Target's boxes have increased in size over the past year.  They started out with a branded white box.  That has now grown by about 25% to a larger sleeker black box. Although this isn't technically a subscription box, how often do you see boxes get bigger?

The box was packed full of familiar brands and some of their newer products.  There are five full size products and two that I think are luxury sample or travel sizes.

There is a minimal information card that includes a coupon for $3.00 that can be used in store or on-line.

First is a 2.8 oz. spray bottle of Dry Oil Spray from Herbal Essences new "Wild Naturals" line. This is a shine booster that is said to leave your hair glossy and radiant.  (Full size, $5.99)

Next is a 2-in-1 pumice stone from The Bathery.  This has two textures (the blue oval is the finer one) and can be used anywhere on your body for smoothing and refining rough skin. (Full size, $1.99)

This beautiful Colorlicious lip gloss from Covergirl is in shade #630, "Give Me Guava" which is a very pretty and shimmery pink that will make a great "go to" color for almost everyone. This, by itself, is worth the entire cost of the box as far as I'm concerned. (Full size, $5.99)

There are three Goody hair elastics in teal, purple and fuchsia.  These are "ouchless" because they are made without any metals.   (Sample size, est. $1.00)

This huge metallic fuchsia Max Volume Plus mascara is from Wet 'n Wild.  This is in the shade "Amp'd Black" and is supposed to strengthen lashes and give them 10 times their volume. I'm a little scared of this one! (Full size, $4.99)

This little package of Hollywood fashion tape contains several strips of clear double-sided tape that can be used to close blouse gaps, hide straps, secure necklines, repair or adjust hems, etc. Why have I never owned these before? (Sample size, est. $1.48)

The last item is my favorite, a package of 10 travel towelettes from Yes to Cucumbers.  I really like all the "Yes to ....." products that I've tried and facial towelettes are especially useful.  These are made with soothing aloe vera and are good for cleansing, removing makeup and nourishing skin.  (Full size, $2.99)

If you include the $3.00 coupon, the value of this box is about $27.43, not bad at all for just $5.00! Whatever the marketing rationale, this was another terrific box that contained several new products. I may be in the minority but I really like the fact that these are all mainstream items with nothing so "out there" that I'm not likely to ever actually use it.  

So far, Target has not turned the Beauty Box into a subscription box.  That means you have to stalk the site if you want one....they don't come automatically. Although the boxes do sell out quickly, I haven't had any problem snagging one. There is no telling when the next box will be available but I'm guessing it will be fall oriented. Keep an eye on my Facebook page or watch Target's site if you are interested.  This may not be the most exciting box out there but it is one of the best value boxes.

Thanks for reading,


Disclosure:  Views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own.  Product discussed in this post was purchased by Lone Star Shopper. Post may contain referral or affiliate links.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Amor Naturals Soap Box Review, Summer 2015 + FREE Shipping & 15% Discount Codes

Of all the subscription genres, the bath and body boxes are my favorite. The decadent nature of the product means the quantities you get are small but there's no denying the absolute charm contained in these little boxes of heaven. Amor Naturals is a quarterly service that sends 5 or 6 sample sized organic and natural handmade goodies.  Cost is $19.99 per box plus $4.99 shipping.  

For the Summer Soap Box, Amor Naturals decided to embrace the clean ocean movement with a mermaid theme.  All of the products in this box were created with sustainable materials and come in recyclable packaging.  They also donated a percentage of each box sold to The Ocean Conservancy for conservation and clean-up efforts.

There are two cards in the box, one that gives all the product information and one that details the ocean conservation mission of this box.

This "Blue Lagoon Bath Bomb" is the most beautiful pale blue color.  It's also falling apart in its package but that's what bath bombs are designed to do.  This one contains coconut milk, organic cocoa butter, dry seaweed and peppermint.  It has a very soothing coconut and peppermint scent.

The "Cucumber Lime Face Mist" is a refreshing spray containing lime and cucumber water with cooling peppermint, aloe and seaweed extract.  This is meant to be sprayed on the face to help repair sun damage.  The card suggests refrigerating it before use.  If there were a beach anywhere near me, I'd definitely have this in my tote bag!

This little pot contains "Coconut Mint Foot Balm".  It smells very much like the bath bomb and contains shea butter, tea tree oil and cooling menthol.  This is massaged into the feet to relieve soreness and dryness.  Sounds like it's also good for calves to improve circulation. Since I've had a touch of plantar's fasciitis lately, I think this might feel really good in the mornings.

This spray bottle contains "Mermaid Hair Sea Salt Hydrating Spray".  I'm a little suspicious of this one since sea salt hair products usually mean roughing up your hair for added texture, which my hair sure doesn't need.  However, the card says this one is for shine and softness so I may relent and give it a try.  The scent is coconut and orange blossom, both of which I like, but my nose recoiled a bit at the first sniff.  So, I'll proceed with caution.

The last item is a small container of "Exfoliating Mermaid Mask".  This is made of sea clay (for detoxification), seaweed extract (repairs skin) and grain exfoliants. Massage it in, leave it on for 3 to 5 minutes, then rinse off. The directions say it can be used on the face or body but with such a small amount, I will confine it to my face.

I really loved the theme of this box; it's perfect for summer and lends itself to the coconut and peppermint scents found in most of the products. For me, the two most useful items are the face mask and the foot balm.  The bath bomb is pure luxury; I can't wait to try that.  I'm less excited about the sea salt hair spray and the facial mist but hey...keeping an open mind is what subscription boxes are all about!

Amor Naturals has an on-line shop where they sell individual products.  Use code MERMAID for 15% off in their store.  (At the moment, I only see three products but hopefully, they will fill out their shelves soon.)  For the Soap Box, new subscribers can use code FREESHIP15 to get free shipping.

The Amor Naturals Soap Box is a bit of a splurge but if you try it, be prepared for a really nice experience!


Disclosure:  Views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own.  Product discussed in this post was purchased by Lone Star Shopper. Post does not contain referral or affiliate links.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sock Panda Review, July 2015 + 15% Discount Code!

At the risk of sounding like a total sock nerd, I'm excited to share my two latest pairs of socks from Sock Panda.  There's just something about this company...from the colorful recyclable mailer to the fun designs and the cute little panda heads on each pair of socks; I always look forward to the arrival of the pretty aqua envelope!

When signing up with Sock Panda, you can choose whether to receive one or two pairs of socks per month.  ($12 or $19 respectively with discounts for longer term subscriptions)  You also get to choose the general design of the socks you get--"Patterns and Prints", "Wild and Crazy" or "One of Each".  Since I'm on the two pairs per month plan, I chose the last option. For every new subscription, they donate a pair of socks to someone in need.

Here are the two exceedingly cute pairs of socks I received for July's shipment. These are made of 85% cotton, 10% nylon and 5% spandex; very soft and stretchy.

The first pair is white with a pattern of colored pennants in aqua, purple and red. The little panda head is at the top of each sock and the Sock Panda logo is across each toe.  I don't wear many white socks but then I didn't have any this cute either!

Although I haven't shown them in a blog post before, I received the next pair of socks in a previous shipment.  With the sea theme of orcas wearing sunglasses and fish and crabs in the deep blue sea below, they are beyond adorable.  I am glad to have these to add to my gift pile but I would not have been happy if they had been a less attractive or fun pair of socks.

After subscribing to Sock Panda for six months, this is the first duplicate pair I've received. That makes me wonder what sort of controls they have in place to avoid that happening. If they are just choosing socks randomly each month, the risk of duplication seems pretty high. The saving grace is that these socks are SO cute that it's not hard to gift or trade extras.

Some discount codes that are working at the time of this post are:

HELLO, SUB15, MILITARY15 - 15% discount
PANDA10, SAVE10 - 10% discount

These discounts are applied to your initial payment so they are worth more the longer the term length you choose. Besides building up your own sock drawer, Sock Panda subscriptions make great gifts. With fun socks for men, women and children, they pretty much have feet needs covered!

Thanks for reading,


Disclosure:  Views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own.  Product discussed in this post was purchased by Lone Star Shopper. Post does not contain referral or affiliate links.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ipsy Glam Bag Beauty Subscription Review, July 2015

The theme for Ipsy's July bag is "Summer Lovin'".  That's as far as they go; no messing around with detailed information cards here.  Usually you get what you pay for but at just $10 per month, you always get a lot more value with Ipsy.  I was also pleased to see all new products this time; no repeats and thank Purlisse!

The best way I can think of to describe the July cosmetics bag is "boho chevron". Bright, colorful and summery it certainly is!  You really have to hand it to Ipsy for constantly coming up with cute new bag designs.  I must have 50 of these by now!

This is a luxury sample size of Vasanti's BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator.  This is an exfoliating cleanser that includes papaya and aloe in its ingredients.  I'm not familiar with this brand but it's always nice when you can cleanse and exfoliate in one step.

One of the most fun cosmetic brand names out there has to be Jelly Pong Pong.  (I dare you not to say that out loud at least once!) This is a 2-in-1 eyeliner and shadow crayon in what looks like a coppery brown color.  

The value winner in this month's bag is a Tarte Amazonian clay waterproof bronzer in the shade "Park Avenue Princess". It comes in a unique faux crocodile textured compact. This compact is about one third the full size which retails for $30.  That makes this one worth about $10.  

Tarte's blushes and bronzers are best sellers for a reason; they have a lovely creamy texture that gives a wonderful "lit from within" look. My camera really didn't capture the color well; it is considerably darker than it looks here. By the way, are you familiar with the "backwards 3" method of applying bronzer for the most subtle facial definition?  

One thing I have NEVER received in a subscription box before is a pair of tweezers. These are from Crown Brush, which is known for quality cosmetic tools.  I usually prefer scissor tweezers but this is a quality pair with precision tips so I may give them a try.

Lastly, we have La Playa sea salt spray from Octavio Molina Hair.  This is a texture spray which is the last thing my hair needs.  It's infused with algae extract for moisture and can be used on dry hair for separation and movement.  Since I need a "de-texturizing" product (is there such a thing?), I'll pass this one along.

So there you have it for the July Ipsy bag.  All in all, it's a nice selection and I especially appreciate the new brands and products.  There are no repeats which is pretty much the definition of a great bag to me.  Variety, quality and value are the three things I want from cosmetic subscriptions and Ipsy consistently provides all three.

If you are new to sub boxes and cosmetic subscriptions in particular, I highly recommend Ipsy as an excellent starting point.  It is a great way to sample a lot of mid range products that you might not otherwise know about or want to take the risk of purchasing in the full size.

Thanks for reading,


Disclosure:  Views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own.  Product discussed in this post was purchased by Lone Star Shopper. Post does not contain referral or affiliate links.