These are a few of my favorite things: July

It's hard to believe that July has come to an end, but here we are on the cusp of August, swiftly approaching Fall, the start-up of classes and things that come after, which I'd prefer not to mention! Fall is actually one of my favorite times of year but when you live in a region like I do, where nice weather...warm weather...is hard to come by, you tend to savor every little bit you get. So I really wish we weren't already 2/3 of the way through summer! 

Even with time feeling like it's going at warp speed, I have been able to acquire quite a few favorites this month. Some are things I've actually loved forever, while others are things I tried out for the first time this month. So without further ranting....let's get into it! 

First up, let's talk about tea! In all honesty, coffee is my first choice when it comes to a hot drink. However, thanks to my mom, my evenings feel totally off kilter if I don't have a cup of tea every night. While she sticks to her tried and true Red Rose, I like to try new teas from time to time. I actually have quite the collection (more than can be contained in one cabinet) and when I heard about this particular brand, I felt compelled to try them as well.  

First off, Tea Pigs is just a great name! It's different and stuck in my mind right away. Secondly, I really like the design of their tea bags and the opportunity they offer for people to order an assortment of their choosing to sample. I've been trying their teas out for over a month now and have only found one of the bunch that I didn't particularly care for. My favorites are the Licorice Peppermint and the Chai - both incredibly delicious! Not only does Tea Pigs produce fantastic teas, but they are also eco-friendly and support the communities that produce their teas. That's a lot of good ju-ju in a little tea bag! 

Right now they have a coupon code on their website that can get you $5.00 off your order of a sample pack. Enter the code PIGLETS to save!!

Next up we have a LUSH product that I tried a million years ago as a sample, but for some reason passed on buying full-sized. Fast forward to a couple months ago when the friendly staff at Lush suggested I pair it with another product I was trying out (King of Skin). I don't know why I didn't buy this sooner! 

The smell is so refreshing, you get an incredible lather from a small amount and it really leaves your skin feeling happy and soft! I like to switch up my products and also scents from time to time, but I can safely say that Rub Rub Rub will definitely become a staple shower product for me from now on!

Alright...so over the past month and a half or so, I've been doing a lot of revamping of my skincare routine (both morning and evening). I have sensitive, oily, dry, acne prone, dull, .....you name it....skin and there are probably more products that don't work for me than ones that do. To make matters more difficult in the realm of skincare, I am allergic to Salicylic Acid - an ingredient found in a ridiculous amount of products! 

Enter Kiehl's! I tried a few of their skincare items on a complete whim to be honest. I'm generally hyper vigilant when it comes to researching skin care products and double checking the ingredients in them, but I ordered the Ultra Facial Cleanser and a few other Kiehl's products without doing that and I can safely say that it was well worth the risk!!!! 

This cleanser is utterly fantastic. It's gentle but works hard when it comes to leaving your skin feel clean. It isn't overly drying or abrasive, and while some might not like the smell, I happen to enjoy it. I've been using this cleanser diligently night after night and along with a few new products that now make up my evening skin care routine have noticed a MAJOR TRANSFORMATION in my skin!! If you have tricky skin, I would strongly recomend looking into Kiehl's products, particularly this cleanser because I can wholeheartedly say that they have been miracle workers on my skin!

Want to see my evening or daytime skin care routines?? Let me know in the comments!! 

This is a product that I actually didn't plan on including in my monthly favorites but I just had to after I used it and fell swiftly in love! This is the first Deborah Lippmann nail polish that I have ever tried and it's in the color Mermaid's Dream. I cannot rave enough about this polish! 

First off, the formulation is fantastic and in two coats looked perfect. Secondly, her colors and names are just on point! I don't often veer towards colors like this, but I purchased it online on a whim and am so pleased. If you haven't tried out any Deborah Lippmann polishes before, this is definitely a great color to start with!! Want even more reason to check out the brand? These polishes are cruelty free - which is something that forever scores major points in my book! 

 Next up we have a new foundation that I've been playing with for a little over a month. I was in the market for a foundation that matched my summer skin a bit better and wanted something with some SPF in it. Having never tried Bobbi Brown anything before, I decided it was finally time to check the brand out and picked up their skin foundation.

This foundation provides a light to medium coverage that doesn't leave my skin feeling overwhelmingly oily, or like I'm wearing two pounds of makeup. Two thumbs up!  I will say that the formulation is a bit watery, but after working with it multiple times, I've just gotten used to it. If you're wondering, I wear the color warm beige 3.5. 

Last but CERTAINLY not least, is one of my all-time favorites. I'm talking lifetime, holy grail favorites. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Oh my, what can I even say about this show?! I'm utterly obsessed and have been watching it every Wednesday in the fall for years. I recently decided it was about time that I not only owned the seasons on DVD, but also that I watched in order, from the very beginning. I'm currently working on Season One and am about to embark on Season Two. Words can seriously not describe my love for this show!! If you're looking for a show to get into that has PLENTY of seasons to consume your time, this is definitely one to watch!

I hope you enjoyed my July favorites and would love to hear YOURS in the comments! Thanks for reading! :) 


Let's Review: BarkBox Dog Subscription Boxes!

Hello Everyone! Today I wanted to share a review with you all for BarkBox. Now I realize there are plenty of reviews out there for this subscription service, but I wanted to throw my two cents in as well. I can't lie: I'm a huge shopaholic. I'm also a total dog lover and anything related to dogs turns me in to a mighty big sucker!!

If you don't know what BarkBox is, it is a monthly subscription service catered to dogs. Each month they send out boxes with four different items for your dogs to snack on and play with. They aim to provide options that are more wholesome than much of what you find in your pet stores and also try to focus on 100% made in the US products. Both of these endeavors get BarkBox points in my book! You can sign up for a one month, three month or six month subscription term and shipping is always included in the price you see. Additionally, they do ask about the size of your dog and for my three labs, going with the large dog option was a no-brainer!

At first I was a bit apprehensive about trying BarkBox, if only because I wasn't sure if what they would send would work for my dog (specifically toys), and also to be honest, I spoil the dogs well enough on my own so I didn't know if I wanted to add more fuel to the fire!

I have taken a break between subscriptions a few times (I've been subscribing on and off for a least a year and a half), yet everytime a box arrives, the dogs know EXACTLY what it is!!

So for this review I wanted to include a glimpse into the monthly box, in this case it is for July.

BarkBox comes in a plain cardboard box every month, with a simple BarkBox inscription. Despite the fact that we receive packages ALL THE TIME (way too much online shopping!), the dogs still seem to know that this one is just for them. Is it the smell??

Everything comes "wrapped" in the BarkBox paper, and includes a card that shares with you the theme of this months box as well is information regarding what is in the box. Recently, they have added the option for you to reorder online through BarkBox or through text, any items that you liked enough to repurchase. Additionally they now share pricing which is something I appreciate!

So this month's box had a beach theme and ours contained five items. To be completely honest however, I wouldn't consider the smoothie as an item since they are often thrown in our boxes.

 Bixbi Daily Essentials Chicken Breast Jerky Treats

The first item up is this bag of Chicken breast jerky treats. What BarkBox says:

Wheat, corn, and soy-free, these USA made and sourced jerky treats are packed full of anti-oxidant rich whole foods including blueberries, cranberries, reishi mushrooms and of course - delicious chicken! From the heart of Colorado to a satisfied pup tummy in no time flat.

BarkBox states that for a 5 oz bag, these cost $10.00, with similar pricing elsewhere online. I give these treats points for being wheat, corn and soy free and I also like the inclusion of blueberries with a) my dogs LOVE and b) are super good for dogs! I don't generally purchase jerky treats for the dogs though so these are definitely a rare treat as they only receive them from BarkBox. 

Healthy Dogma Coconut Flavor Barkers

These coconut dog treats look like your standard dog biscuit, and unfortunately, I cannot share with you what BarkBox says regarding this item because they made a printing error and gave the same description for these as the chicken jerky above. Oops!

I can share with you that BarkBox prices these at $8.00, which is nearly the same as the price on the Healthy Dogma website (they charge $7.95). I am excited to try these out for sure! I mean, who isn't coconut good for?! Also, after looking at the manufacturers website, I am impressed at the variety of flavors they offer! Seriously! Check them out! 

Mr. Barksmith's Pina Colada Smoothie

Next up is what I consider to be an add-on. Here's what BarkBox says about them: 

If you like Pina Colada and getting lost in the...well, you know the rest! Isn't it time to share a tropical moment with your pup and make sure they don't miss out on this classic summertime treat? Each treat is made from human-grade food ingredients, is wheat, gluten and dairy free, and can be enjoyed at room temperature or frozen - pawfect for these extra hot summer days. One for them, one for you. Knock it back and repeat! 

These retail for $2.00 on the BarkBox site, however, I found a six pack of these in a different flavor online for $6.49, bringing the individual price to less than $1.10 each. Personally, I am sick of receiving these in our boxes. It's not cost effective for me to purchase a box for each dog, but it's frustrating when you receive a single use treat such as these because it forces me to pick favorites!! I generally look at items like this as an add-on since they are a one time deal. 

Etta Says Duck Chew

What BarkBox says about these duck chews: 

Made from wholesome American duck, Etta Says duck chews have always been a favorite to pups, whether near the sea or miles away. Who can blame them?

These are $4.00 each on the BarkBox website, which seems to be a decent price unless you are looking to buy in bulk through various pet supply websites. The dogs seem to really enjoy treats like this, the only challenge I have is trying to break it into three pieces so they all can get some. Some of these types of treats will break easily while others shatter which is no fun considering the strong smell most have! I have no real complaints for these though and neither do the dogs!

Loopies Fish Bones Toy

Last but not least, we have this fish bone shaped toy. Barkbox says this: 

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...your pup's got a new fishy friend! This extra-durable, neon blue ocean-dweller from Loopies is ready for tugging, tossing, cruising the tides - and whatever else your pup has in store for them. 

On the Barkbox website this toy retails for $15.00 - yikes! In my opinion, that is a lot for a toy like this. I could not find this exact toy online other than through Barkbox so I am unable to compare prices unfortunately. I will say that the toys are where I generally have the biggest gripes with Barkbox. I choose the large dog size but I honestly wish they would do a more in-depth survey so they could take greater consideration with what they include. I have three Labrador Retrievers, which means AGGRESSIVE CHEWERS! Toys like this just don't last no matter how "extra-durable" they claim them to be. Last month we received a stuffed monkey butt (no joke) which also claimed durability and within a minute already had a whole. It's hidden from the dogs now because if they had five minutes with it, it would be toast. While they do seem to enjoy soft/fuzzy types of toys, they don't last long enough for me to see the point in purchasing them. I'd be lucky for something like this fish bone to last fifteen minutes, which would equate to $1.00/minute. In my case these types of toys aren't worth it. I can say however that we've received some FANTASTIC rubber based toys (we have a bone from a box last year that they go nuts for and admittedly, so do I because it's vanilla scented and smells AMAZING!!) - I just wish we could see more toys like that!

Overall, I will continue to stay subscribed, at least until my subscription runs out next month. However, I can't say I'm totally sold on paying for another subscription right now. The biggest clincher for me has become the shipping. BarkBox says that they ship out on the 15th of each month and we used to receive our boxes within 1-2 days of then. Lately however, each box has taken longer and longer to arrive and this month was the real clincher. What supposedly shipped on the 15th didn't arrive until the 22nd. That's eight days!! I had to be real careful on social media so I wouldn't see any sneak peaks at what everyone else received well before we got our box! 

If I were to rate Barkbox on a scale of 1-10, I would give them a 5. Which is why I'm on the fence about continuing as a subscriber. I would love if they could improve on that score and I'm sincerely hoping they do (so are three labs I know)! 

If you have tried out Barkbox, what are your thoughts on the service? Pros & Cons I want to hear it all! Please share in the comments!!

Interested in trying out BarkBox? Order through this link* and receive 10% off your first subscription!

*Link is a referral link. For every subscription someone makes, I will receive a free month of BarkBox. I am not paid/sponsored to make this post in any way.


Mega Book Haul!

I figured what better way to start off this new blog than with a massive book haul! It's summer now which for me, means a lot of pleasure reading. During much of the year, I am busy reading for school and don't have much time to dedicate towards reading for my own enjoyment. In an effort to fight the reading slump that I've been in lately, I went a bit overboard getting some new books to read during the break. (Ok...a LOT overboard!!)

I didn't pick up all of these books at once, but over the course of a month. Some were purchased online and others came from various bookstores. In the first bunch we've got:

  • Across the Universe by Beth Revis - this I picked up from Amazon after watching an Essiebutton video (this girl could get me to buy pretty much anything!!).
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen - this was a very quick little impulse purchase after Emma Watson mentioned it on twitter. I believe she is in the movie adaptation of this book!
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness - this was merely something I picked up out of curiosity, which is something I do a lot. I like the adventure of gambling on a book!
  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer - this book has a lot of hype about it and I finally picked it up online. This is what I'm currently reading - if you would like to see a my thoughts on it (or any others) please say so in the comments!
  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - I picked up the first in the Mortal Instruments series because I've been seeing so much buzz about the books on Youtube and figured I'd give them a go!
  • The Intercept by Dick Wolf - This book was in the bargain section at Barnes & Noble and I could NOT pass on it! Don't know who Dick Wolf is?? He is the creator of one of my ultimate favorite television shows: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. (as well as the rest of the L&O series, Chicago Fire and Chicago PD) I did not know he had any books and cannot wait to read this baby!!
  • East of the Sun by Julie Gregson - this was another bargain book section. I gave the back a quick read and saw that the setting was India, which is a region of the world I love reading about and for under five dollars deemed it worth the gamble!
  • Picture This by Jacqueline Sheehan - here is another glimpse into how bizarre I can be when picking out books! Why did I purchase this? First of all, it was in the bargain section (check). Secondly, it has a black Labrador on the front (CHECK!). My best friend is a black lab named Nessie and I'm a total sucker for anything dog related, but if you have a black lab on the cover...yeah I'll probably buy it!
  • The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom - Yet another bargain book that I picked up on a whim! 
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn - I recently read Gone Girl and really enjoyed it, so I decided to pick up another book by Flynn to try out. If you would like to hear my thoughts on Gone Girl, please let me know! (PS - anyone else super excited for the film adaptation??)

Alrighty! Round two: 

  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith - If you didn't know, Robert Galbraith is just a pen name for JK Rowling. Do I need to explain purchasing this book?? I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, love JK Rowling so this book needed to be in my life!! I had some issues with trying to preorder it so it came a bit late but I dove right in when it finally arrived. I can confidently say that I LOVED this book and am eagerly awaiting the next. Additionally, it really brought me back to the days of Harry Potter waiting with anticipation for my book to arrive. This was my summer tradition back in the day!
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - I read/watched the hype surrounding this book and finally caved and purchased it. The book consumed me and I am looking forward to seeing the film! I strongly recommend reading this book if you haven't already! I would love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments!
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart - Oh my, what can I saw about this book?! I bought it on recommendation, and read it in less than 24 hours. It's that good! It's also a nice easy read and a book I would suggest if you've been battling a reading slump like I was.
  • Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler - I have read all of Chelsea Handlers books prior to this one so it was mandatory that I also pick this one up. I waited a while to finally read it but I don't regret the time I spent with it. While it wasn't my favorite among the books she has released, I did enjoy it. It was a nice break from the other books I have been reading lately.
  • Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding - I have seen the movies for these books as my aunt is utterly obsessed. I've always considered reading these books but when I saw this particular version of the book, I absolutely had to have it! I look forward to reading it soon!
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton - this was a book I added to my cart on Book Depository after reading the preview and finding it interesting. It's definitely an intimidating looking book though and I hope I can get to it this summer!
  • Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham - If you don't know who Lauren Graham is, she is an actress most well known for her role as the mother on Gilmore Girls. I've always seen this book at Target and passed on it, so I finally decided to get it a go!
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri - this is a book I've had on my Amazon wishlist for ages now and finally just purchased it. It's also been made into a film, though I have not seen it. (I prefer to read the books before seeing movies!)
  • Adam by Ariel Schrag - I honestly cannot remember the premise of this book right now as I purchased it last month. All I know is that it seemed interesting to me at the time  - enough to make me add it to my reading wishlist!
  • Paper Towns by John Green - Oh John Green....this is the second book I have picked up from Green. I read The Fault in Our Stars after being a faithful subscriber of Green on Youtube and seeing all the hype. I have yet to see the movie (but actually have plans of going in the coming week or two), but I can say that the book was AMAZING and I look forward to diving into more of his work!!
So I've got twenty books....a couple of which I've read, but many of which I have yet to get to. If you would like to hear my thoughts on any of these books, please let me know in the comments! I'd also love to hear book suggestions anyone might have, based on what I have hauled today!  Now if you excuse me....I've got some reading to do! ;)