Friday, November 12, 2010

New Reviews!

Ah, my loyal reader(s?), as you know I have been lax in my posting of reviews.  I have so many excuses, but do you really care? I didn't think so.

What I feel many of you DO care about are the reviews. 

Along with my past two months of the "Ol' Stand By's"  (Heaven and Earth Essentials, Metropolis Soap Co., and Dirty Sanchez to name a few), I have broken into some new, lovely soaps that I think you should all know about.

First is a wonderfully unique soap I got from Paradise Essentials.  Now, I usually try to avoid ovrly indulging in my love of a scent, but this scent was so unique, unexpected, and lovely, I felt I just had to rave.  The scent I am drooling over is "Cucumber Mint."  Yes, you read that right.  Cucumber Mint.  Ok, I admit to some bias, as my favorite commercial scent is Cucumber Melon, however, Cucumber mint has the cool, light, barely there refreshing scent of the cucumber mixed with the bracing snap of the mint. It is wonderful!! This is one fo the reasons I love handmade.  Who else would take a chance on a scent like Cucumber Mint? Warning if you buy it: It lathers beautifully, and leaves your skin silky soft, but the bar is Orange.  The color threw me, but it is easy to overlook when using such a lovely feeling soap.

Another soap I have used and really enjoy is a whipped cream soap by Skin Candy.  I ahve always been a  little bit wary of whipped soaps, but this soap is so creamy and rich.  I love it.  IT has a good consistency, too.  It doesn't feel like you are dealing exclusively with air, making you wonder what you are paying for.  Instead, it has the consistency of rich whipped yogurt. Very decadent feeling as you smooth it onto your skin.

Finally, my last experiment these past few weeks has been with a new foaming salt scrub. This one is from Susie Q's.  The consistency of Susie Q's salt scrub is different than any other scrub I have used. Instead of feeling like a sandy paste, their salt scrub feels almost foamy.  The exfoliation is still there, but it isn;t like rubbing a rough cream onto your skin.  I gi back and forth about how I feela bout that, but for those of you who dislike the rough feeling of most salt scrubs, but still want to get the exfoliating benefits, I recommend you check out Susie Q's foaming scrub. Now, I admit, the picture I swiped is from their sugar scrub cubes, but they are so pretty, can you blame me?

Ok, that's it for the reviews for now, however, beware!!  I am gearing up my lists of sellers to buy from for the holidays, so the reiews SHOULD pick up!!  Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wow....just wow.

So, my faithful readers, it's been a while, huh?  Sorry about that.  As Fall fell, my kiddos went back to school....and so did I.  Yes, I have embarked upon a new career as a middle school teacher.  It's an exciting time in my life, but, let me tell you, ANYONE who thinks teacher's lives are easy is smoking something.  I have been working 10-12 hour days, in addition to the graduate courses and certification classes that I have been taking in the evenings and on weekends.  I know it will all be worth it to see those lights go on in my student's eyes, but right now, my time is limited, so unfortunately, the blog is suffering.

However, I received something in the mail today that I just HAD to write about.  My box from Sampler Village.  Holy Wow.

Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture, so I had to steal one from the site, but there was so much in the sampler, Traci had to stuff stuff into the shipping box to make it all fit!

I really could tell the effort and thought that Traci and the villagers put into the sampler every month.  This month's theme was Halloween, and there were all kinds of great Halloween themed items, great Halloween packaging, and fun things in every package.

In my opinion, Sampler Village has really stepped up as the premier monthly sampler box.  I get the Luscious sampler every month, and I highly recommend it.  Those samepler have an item from every one of that month's villagers, and every thing I get is always great, both in quality and in presentation.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Revised Sample suggestions.....the LONG version

About 10 months ago, I posted my suggestions on what to do (and NOT do) when submitting samples to sampler boxes, and the value of tossing free samples in with a purchase. Recently, this came up again on places like facebook, so I decided to revise my original list to account for some things that have come up over the past year, and post again. Please indulge my vanity in thinking I  know these things.

First, some background.  I buy 2-4 sampler boxes a month. Every month, I try to make at least one purchase from someone who has sent something in a sampler, though it is not always that month's sampler.  I am a huge bath and body person, so there is a definite slant to my purchasing.

Sampler packs are the best way for handmade afficionados like me to find you.  In the last year, I have bought from over 20 sellers I found through samplers, some orders were huge (We're talking over $500 huge), some were a single bar of soap or lip balm.  My family is NOT wealthy, and money is tight, but I try to put aside some money every month to make these purchases. Almost ALL of the money I make on etsy ends up going directly out of my bank account to other sellers. I like supporting handmade, and I only buy things that I love. I am also a repeat buyer if you are a great seller.

I am also one of those buyers who keeps a list. I have a whole file of business names from companies I have gotten great products, service and/or samples from, what I got that I loved, any other thing special about them, and what type of products they have. I keep this list because I have a surplus of some things, and the list helps me remember sellers I have loved in the past for future purchasing, especially around gift giving holidays and events. I also have a list of people who I will not buy from for various reasons. 

As you may know from this blog, I also write reviews of sellers who really impress me. Often, these reviews are based off of a sample I have used and gotten from a sampler.  Whether this leads to sales, I do not know, but any publicity is good. Also, though I may not always buy from you, but at least I know who you are, and can tell someone else about you.

So, without further ado, these are my top 10 suggestions to consider when putting together samples:

  1.  Ingredients are vitally important in anything going onto or into a body. "Flavor oils" is usually not detailed enough as an ingredient.  I am allergic to artificial sweeteners, for example, so I need to know if your items contain them, even the lip balm. Frequently the flavor oils include things like this, though not always, so it would be a good thing to know.
  2.  First impressions are KEY. Packaging and presentation are hugely important. If your promotional sample looks a mess, what will your product look like? And why would I send you money for something like this, if you obviously don't care? Along the same lines, make sure your site matches with your samples. There is nothing more disappointing than getting an awesome sample, running to a website, and seeing stuff that is nothing like what you just got in a box.
  3.  CLEARLY label your product, what it is, and where it came from. Make it easy for us to find you later. Clearly label where your items come from with a business name and website address, even when including a free sample in with a purchase. I had an experience this morning where I tried to use a wax tart as soap. There was no label anywhere on the product telling me WHAT it was, just what scent it was, so I guessed, and guessed WRONG. You may think it is obvious what you are selling, but it isn't always. From now on, if I can't figure out what it is, it gets trashed.
  4.  Whenever possible, include instructions. Not everyone is familiar with sugar scrubs, wickless candles, melting body butter, paraffin hand treatments, that special kind of tea blend you just sent, or whatever. If I can't figure out how to use it, I am not going to.  That is a potential lost sale for you. If you are the one who tells me how to use something I am unfamiliar with, and I love it, I am going to buy from YOU. Instructions  also put you HIGH on the "repeat buyer" list.
  5.  The best things to include in samplers are things that need to be purchased relatively regularly. Give us just enough to be addicted (for me it takes about a week). When we run out, we will run to your store and buy. The next best thing to include in samplers is things that make great gifts. When Aunt Sally has her retirement party, I will know who to go for for that uniquely perfect thingamabob.
  6.  Food scented home, bath, and body products make a lot of people nervous. Especially chocolate and/or sugary treat products. Also, food SHAPED non-edible products are not always the best thing to send in a sampler.  I have had to stop my kids from eating more than my fair share of wax tarts.
  7.  Propaganda of any type is evil. No matter how strongly you feel about something, it is not professional to include it in your packaging.  If I don't agree with you, I will be turned off. If I agree with you, I will still be turned off by your need to preach.
  8.  If you send something scented, please wrap it up, at least in a Ziploc bag so the scent doesn't get everywhere. I will get sick of the scent before I use the item, and I may decide to throw it out if I worry the scent will contaminate other things, or is overwhelming in the small box or drawer I have it stored in.
  9.  Please give more than a month on coupons, if you are going to include them. I don't always get to the sample right away, and it i discouraging to see that I could have saved money on someting I want to buy because I didn't use it right away.  I can't use everything all at once, so please give me some wiggle room. Also, please pack the coupon separately from the packaging of your item.  If I want to give those earrings to my sister as a stocking stuffer, I don't want her seeing I got them in May with a coupon that expired May 21 on the card they are attached to.
  10.  Free samples (especially coordinating ones) tossed in a box with a purchase are awesomeness. They can be given to a friend to show them how great your stuff is, and it always eaves a good taste in the receiver's mouth.

I hope that this is helpful.  I LOVE samples and LOVE samplers. Some of my favorite sellers who I buy from all the time I found through samplers.  I love handmade, and want you to be successful at your craft!  Thank you so much to all of the handmade artisans out there, and keep up the good work.

Also, readers, any other suggestions I may have missed?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Quick Review - Treasure Gardens

My old soap is finally finished, so I have to again give props to Lana at Unicorns Pride for her awesome Lemon lime soap which lasted me two and a half months of daily shower usage.

So, I broke into my bin of samples from my wonderful samplers, and reached in willy nilly (yes, I still use that term, and yes, that is how I choose my soap).  What I came out with was a lovely wrapped soap that came in my Sampler Village box recently: a FULL SIZED sample of Heavenly Honeysuckle soap from Treasure Gardens.  FULL SIZED!!

This soap gives of such a robust scent, it has scented my whole bathroom like honeysuckle, which I love.  The soap lathers wonderfully in the shower and leaves my skin feeling soft and clean.  the shape of this soap is perfect to fit in my hand, so I find myself not even using my scrubby much.

Another thing I love about this soap is that, though it smells wonderful and strong, it does not leave a strong scent clinging to my skin.  As a teacher, I need to be careful about the scents I wear (if any), and soap is usually the only thing I use as a scent before leaving the house.  This soap leaves jus tthe right amount of scent, as there's just enough that the hubby can smell it when he hugs me, but it does not come off of me in waves.  Perfect. In the past I have felt like I needed to stick with a very clean scent to avoid this, but again, my eyes have been opened to the soapy possibilities.

Treasure Gardens has a great little shop with gorgeous looking soaps and a few adorable shaped soaps that may end up in a Christmas stocking here. I encourage you to check them out.


On a side note, I think I will do my reviews like this more often.  I felt like I was avoiding full sized samples because they take so long to get through, and I wanted to keep up my reviews, but it was taking a lot of the fun out of the reviewing.  Now, I will just write a review as I open up and use something.  Sound good?  Good.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Reviews of the Month!

As I put off and put off writing my reviews the last few weeks, I started thinking to myself: WHY? Why am I putting off my reviews?  The answer was quite simple and obvious: I just don't use that many new things in a week.  I am a creature of habit, and also a creature of pack ratting. 

I have so many new things going on in my life right now. I am trying to start a new career, the house is under construction, and we are still getting used to living in Houston.  School is over in a few weeks, and I am going back to school for the first time in 10 years on the 24th.  Because so much else in my life is new and exciting (and scary), for many of my every day routines, I am in a "default to what you know works" stage to help me try to find a sense of stability.

So, I am scaling back to one review a month for a while.  This month, there just isn't that much new to review.  I got a lot of exciting things in my samplers this month, but I haven't gotten to many of them yet.  I will just have to tell you what I HAVE used and loved.

The first soap I used was from Wicked Soaps, and it was wonderful. The sample was a good sized hunk that lasted me for more than two weeks.  It lathered up really well, and had a great scent throw.  Though the soap was a fuschia and black blend, there was no color transfer to my scrubby or shower.  I really enjoyed this soap.  Wicked Soaps has all sorts of products on their Etsy Page, so I am sure you can find something you will love there.  There is a Pink Sugar Sampler I have my eye on, and the husband has been given a not-so-subtle hint for Mother's day.

Another soap that I used this month was a new glycerine soap from The Bubble Room.  The soap I used is called "You Have My Heart", and it is this gorgeous iridescent white with a pink heart in the center.  Don't ask me how they did that with soap, but it came out really cool. Again, the soap sample was a good sized chunk, so over a week later, I am still using the same soap.  Many of the Bubble Room's soaps are vibrant fun colors, and my kids are constantly begging to use the samples I get from them from Sampler Village. The Bubble room has a fun and whimsical style, and is great for people who are still a child at heart.

The only other new product I used this month was some tarts I got from a new candle supplier.  The Gingerbread Cupboard sent these absolutely adorable shaped tarts out in both the Little Black Boxes and Sampler Village, and I was SUPER PSYCHED to get their tarts in each.  They have excellent scent throw, and are some of the cleanest molded tarts I have ever seen.  Their shapes are adorable, and it's obvious that a lot of thought and care went into them. 

As you can see, I haven't been using too many new things, so I am going to try to keep updating the blog with other postings, on my many other interests, and on some of my other purrchases and things I use.  Thanks so much, and Hopefully, in June I will have a huge list of wonderful handmade products to review!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Case for Multiple Samplers

Ok, I admit it.  I am one of those horrible people that contributors to samplers secretly have a serious dislike of.  Yes, it's true, I am a "multiple sampler buyer" (cue Psycho shower music).

For those of you not in the know, I am talking about home made item samplers, like Little Black Boxes or Sampler Village. They are boxes of sample sized (and sometimes full sized) products that have been donated to these samplers as a means of promotion. Sellers send samples to these box sellers in the hopes that, by providing samples to potential customers, this will lead to future purchases of full sized products.

I am all about samplers.  I think they are an awesome idea.  I have discovered sellers who I buy from almost religiously through finding their products in samplers.  I also love that some of the samplers are more geared towards a certain type of buyer, (for example, The Sampler tends to have more card and jewelry samples).  I even like a lot of the themes the sampler sellers have come up with for cohesion of items.

Now, the idea is, a seller buys a sampler box, they use the usually awesome samples in the box, and then they go off and buy more items they liked from the sellers that are in the box. For the sellers, the more people who are exposed to their products, the more likely a sale will result from their donations.

So, because of this, I know sellers are not too thrilled with people who buy multiple boxes of samplers filled with their donated items. Less exposure is never a good thing in advertising and promotion.

However, every month I find myself buying multiple boxes from at least one seller.  Yes, I do feel vaguely guilty about it, but I am going to continue doing it. Why? For a number of reasons.

Multiples of the same sampler do not always contain the same things.  Some sellers send in multiple scents. I may not like one of them.  If I get 2 boxes, and one is a scent I do not care for, but one is, higher probability that I will buy.  Some samplers, you do not get everything in one box, multiples expose me to more sellers.  and sometimes, if it is something relatively small, an extra is a good thing to help me decide to buy.  I also sometimes get a sample of something I think someone I know would love, and there's nothing better than having an extra sample to pass along to someone who may eventually buy.

Since money is tight here, I have a certain amount of money put aside every month for purchases of items from samplers.  Yes, I do get a backlog eventually of all of the great things I want, but I love having lots of options. I also love discovering new items to review and new sellers to buy from.

So, I encourage you to buy from the sellers in the boxes when you buy the samplers. Keep this great idea alive, and support handmade. And if you buy multiple boxes, be sure you are doing so to aid future purchases, not so you can just have more soap in the house. The actual producer of that sample sent it to the sampler for free.  Let them see some return on your use of their product.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Long Over Due

Hello my faithful readers. I'm sorry to tell you that this past month, I have really not done a lot of reviewing.  I have a few VERY LOVELY items coming up, probably on Monday, but right now, I am in a crazy state of mind.

As you may or may not be aware, I am heading back to work. As I plan to be a teacher, this is the big time for interviews, job fairs, and signing up for those summer classes you have to take for the next steps towards certification.  We are also int he middle of having some work done on our house, and painting 4 rooms.  With being so busy, I have been using what little free time I have as a little bit more time for myself, and I have been spending any extra afternoon time with my kiddos. 

I promise, the reviews and tutorials will get up and running on a regular basis again VERY soon. I just ordered this month's samplers, and a few etsy and eBay treats for myself.  I'm sure I will want to share with you!

Thank you so much for your support and for following.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What the....

Hello my wonderful readers!! 

You may have noticed that I haven't been around for a while.  Well, I had a no reviews week, then the kids were on spring break and we went to Las Vegas.  Since I went away, I didn't use any new items, so instead I will tell you about my handmade travel toiletries.

When I travel, I have a bunch of handmade samples that I travel with that I know I love.  Too often, I have broken out or had issues with hotel toiletries, so I let the husband use them and I bring my own.

The first thing I travel with is shine on shampoo and daily conditioner from Heaven and Earth Essentials. (scent this trip: citrus splash)  If I am traveling for a week, I also bring the damage remedy conditioner.  I like for them all to be the same scent, and HAEE has a BUNCH of different scents. As another bonus, the shampoo is a paste, so you don't need to fit it into the little quart ziploc bag the airlines are in love with.

I have gone a number of ways with soap.  I usually just grab a small sample of a soap that I know I love.  the little samples are the best, because they last about a week (the small slivers are great for a weekend), so you don't have to worry about bringing home the soap. This trip, it was a small soap sample from Metropolis Soap Company, whose soap I really love. Even the Dh has been brought over to the "dark side" by their Black Horror Soap.

For lotion, I prefer lotion that is in a pot.  though it can get under my nails, I have had a lot less issues with bag explosion with pot lotions.  This trip, it was Main Element Love's Rise and shine body and hand lotion. The scent worked really well with my shampoo and conditioner, and the little lotion pot fit well in my travel purse.

Perfume is always in the form of a little sample or two (depending on trip plans).  I have HUNDREDS of samples, from designer to handmade.  This trip, I took along two samples, one was August Sultry Sumer by Lemon Lollipop for day wear (Actually, I think the official scent is through their other company "four seasons fragrance," but the sample was from Lemon Lollipop), and the other was Dark Rapture by the Scent Diva (now known as the Soap Box) for evening wear. On a random aside, Dark Rapture perfume was the first thing I ever bought from an etsy seller after getting a sample in a sampler box.

My cosmetics are commercial, because I like the way I can get almost everything into a small compact.  Toothpaste is Aquafresh, and my sunblock is also commercial and a special one for super sensitive skin. Toss in a few Shout Wipes and my prescription meds, and that pretty much makes up my travel toiletries.

This trip was also a little bit special in the packing, because I knew we were staying in our timeshare. There is a HUGE soaking tub in the main bathroom, so I brought a few bath bombs from Sheba's Secrets. I let my daughter take a "fizzy bath" for the first time last month, and she is HOOKED! Both she and I had a few "fizzy baths" that week.

Also, again because we knew we would be in the timeshare, I brounght a silicone trivet, a little matchbook and a travel candle by Mrs Tattooed Geek. (Black Orchid).  These candles are great for getting the "hotel" smell out, and the "home" smell into your room.  The candle is in a tin, so there are no worries about wax spillage, and they last a LONG time.  Like I said, I brought ONE candle for the entire week.

So, sorry there are no reviews to write right now, but they will be back after next week! Have a great weekend!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Feature!

You may have noticed, but I have put links to the four samplers I have ordered on the bottom right side of this blog.  No more hunting for good samplers.  If I find more good sampler sellers, I will be sure to include them.

This week is going to be light on reviews, as I am finishing using some BIG samples, and between the hubby getting a job offer and me going on interviews, we didn't really get a chance to use many new things this week.  I've also been noticing that I have extra samples from sellers that I have already reviewed.  Though it is really hard for me, since I already KNOW that they are great, I have been trying to passs them over for new samples I have never used. My drawers are getting full, and I have had a few bad experiences lately, so I think I am going to allow myself to re-use some of these sellers' samples every once in a while. I also may start featuring a single seller every once in a while, especially if I have had a universally good experience with them.

I'll keep checking etsy and ebay and looking for new people to tell you about too!

I think I will also keep up with the pattern free sewing tutorials.  I am in the process of rearranging my sewing room (again), to get everythig to fit, but I will try to make time to get s few things made and a few tutorials written up.  let me know if there's anything you would really like to see.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

This Week's Reviews 3/2/10

Woo!  I had a bit of a panic this morning!  Turns out my husband, trying to be neat and tidy, threw out all of my assorted wrappers and business cards from this week's samples.  Fortunately, I found and rescued them, and, after a bit of the world's most stupid sounding argument....

("you threw away my wrappers!" "Of course I did! They're empty and cluttering up the counter!" "I need them for my blog, dangit!" "Then why were they in a pile in the bathoom?" "who cares where they were?  I needed them! Stop throwing out my important stuff!" "How am I supposed to know that empty wrappers sitting in a pile on the counter in the bathroom are important?"......etc)

...and a quick trip to Michael's for an "important blog wrappers" basket (and some candlemaking supplies...but that's a different story for another blog), I got everything together and recorded in my special "good samples" book, and ready for this week's blog.  Don't you feel special now that you have had your own glimpse into my private, everyday life? Yeah, didn't think so.

This week's reviews are a bit different.  Along with this week being my "the Samplers are coming!" week, which always leads to lots of trying out of stuff, I also bought a bunch of new wickless candles from sellers on eBay this week. Of course, I had to try out one of EVERYTHING, so I have a LOT of candle sellers to review.  Way more than usual.  I am also going to review a new tea supplier whose tea I finally tried out this week.  Add to that, my normal weekly soap review and a lotion review, and we are talking a lot of sellers to review this week!!

So, let's get to it!

This week's soap was "Think Pink" by A Slice of Delight. This soap is an awesome looking and smelling layered soap of glycerine and oil based soaps.  It really looks like a piece of candy or jewelry! The colors are very vibrant and rich. I love it.

Now, I am one of those people whose skin always gets a little tight and dry from using glycerine soap, but it seems a lot less due to the layering of this soap with the oil based soap added into the layers. I also love how HUGE the sample I got in my Sampler from Sampler Village is. It's got to be about a 2oz sample! I feel like I am using a full sized bar of soap, not just a little sample!  Very cool. 

All of A Slice of Delight's soaps are so artistic and fun to look at, even though they are currently out of stock of the "Think Pink", I'm sure you'll find a soap to love. Also from now through Friday, 3/5/10 at midnight, if you mention "Marbled Nails" in your checkout, you will get a $.50 refund off of one regularly priced bar of soap!  A Slice of Delight's prices are already great, but, heck, anything helps, right! Thank you so much to A Slice of Delight for that generous offer!!

Last month in my samplers from Sampler Village, and again this week in my Little Black Box, I got some AWESOME looking samples from a company called Farm Hussy.  Well, their complete irreverence cracked me up, so I hd to try some of their samples.  I ended up trying their "Udderly Tickled Hand and Body Lotion" in "Love is a Heart Fertilizer" scent.  The husband has also been using their "cock-a-doodle-Don't Lip Balm" and he loves it.  Farm Hussy has all kinds of products and scents on their site, which is just adorable and makes me chuckle.

The Udderly Tickled lotion goes on smooth and is just scented enough to smell nice, but not so much that you end up being the only thing people can smell in an elevator. It leave skin feeling refreshed and moisturized, but not oily, which is VERY important to me.  I have naturally very oily skin, so I am not one of those people whose skin eventually absorbs the oils from most lotions, I just glisten and repel water until my next shower.

The reason the husband is using the Lip Balm is because it contains artificial sweeteners.  He loves it and has already asked me to buy him more after this tube runs out. I told him I will, but I am getting it made ithout the sweeteners in it. Farm Hussy was VERY quick, polite, and professional about replying to my inquiries regarding whether or not their flavor oils contained artificial sweeteners. As they add their own sweetener, Farm Hussy CAN make many of their lip balms without sweeteners, which is awesome and good to know.

This week, I have been fighting some sort of upper resp infection. In fact, I was sick for the entire month of February with something or another. Hmm...Well, at least it led to my drinking even more tea than usual.  THis is a good thing, since I went a little crazy over the holidays, and bought more tea that anyone could reasonably drink in a my defense, a lot of it came free with the teapots....uh.....teaPOT! teaPOT!  Ok, teapots.  I bought myself 2 teapots for Christmas (one handmade and one BIG one from Pfalzgraff), my mother bought me a great glass teapot for blooming teas, my sister got me a special single serving brewing tea mug, and my son got me a froggie teapot.  I have a lot of teapots now.

One of the sellers whose tea I finally got around to trying the week is Bhak Tea. MAN, did I miss out by not trying them sooner!!  Their teas are fabulous.  I am especially hooked on their Vanilla Sunset Rooibos tea.  VERY yum.  I got myself one of their EXTREMELY reasonably priced tea samplers which came with a very cute bamboo tea strainer.  Working with them was very easy, and they really went out of their way to send me good quality tea on time for the holiday.

Like I mentioned earlier, this has been the week of candles. I got a bunch of new candles, both wickless and traditional to try out this week, and I went a little crazy on eBay after I found some sellers that were on eBay along with Etsy.  I am going to touch on all of them, so get ready.

The first seller is Delightful Scents. I had heard of Delightful scents before, but for some reason I had never bought from them or tried them out.  Then I got a little tart sample in my sampler from Sampler Village.  Well, let me tell you, this little tiny tart perfumed my ENTIRE house!  I was super impressed. The tarts I got from Delightful scents were of top excellent quality, and held their scent for a long time.  Delightful scents also carries traditional candles, incense, perfumes, tart burners and so much more.  They are really worth checking out, and are on my list of people to buy from as soon as my husband OKs any candles coming into my house again.....

Another wickless candle sample I got from Sampler Village was from Primitive Kountry.  Their "melties" are a good large size, and the scent lasted through three tea lights' worth of burn time.  Again, they have a lot of other products on their website.

The first seller I bought wickless candles from on eBay is RoseGirls Candles.  They have these lovely Chunk Tarts.  They are just hunks of highly scented wax that you can put on your tart burner. RoseGirls Candles has their own website where their prces are already really good and reasonable. Their tarts burn clean and put off an awesome sent.  HOWEVER, I admit, I found them on eBay. The price I paid on eBay was slightly better than their website, and I had to buy a whole flat rate box of tarts, but they are wonderful, and I am glad that I did.

Another seller who has plenty of products off of eBay, but who I found there, again, is Pamela's Palm Tarts and More. Pamela has some really nice tarts, and ships super fast.  She has hundreds of scents to choose from, and you can choose how many tarts you buy.  Although I put in a link to her Etsy shop, most of Pamela's selling right now seems to be on eBay (user name: "spfield01").  Her tarts are of good quality and are an excellent price. She also has glycerine soaps and tart burners in her store.

Amazingly, I also managed to buy some tarts from Pamela's SISTER, Pat.  Pat's eBay ID is "youareold", and I can't help but think that she is the younger of the sisters.  Pat also has some great, good quality wickless candles and tart burners in her eBay shop, and she ships just as fast as her sister.  I was seriously shocked at how quickly I got my huge orders in the mail from those two women..  The two sisters are in completely different parts of the country, but their commitment to quality and customer service is is their packaging. :)  Both women were really easy and fun to work with, and I recommend their products.

In all, it has been a great week for samples and purchases.  I hope you guys go check out these sellers, as I like all of their products, and I want them to be successful, if for no other reason thn the selfish one of wanting them to be there when I want to buy from them.  One of my favorite bath and body sellers and a company that I reviewed early on in my reviews, Capella's Garden has closed its doors for good, and I am bummed.  Yes, there are other great sellers I can buy from, and will, but it is always sad when a seller decides that they are done.  So, BUY from these sellers if you can, and keep them in business.  It will do us all a favor. You'll get some great products, they'll be able to make money and stay in business, and I will have sellers I know I can count on to buy from again.  WIN-WIN-WIN.

ETA: I got an email from Pamela and she informs me that she and Pat are IDENTICAL TWINS, and Pamela is 3 minutes older. Extra cool, as I have a weakness for twins, and especially identical twins, having married one, myself. :) Even cooler that they are both doing such similar things with the tarts.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

How to Re-Fit old Jeans by Inserting a Patchwork Panel

This is an old tutorial I wrote almost a year ago as a guest on another blog (under username coquiainjelfire).  I am reposting it on my blog here in an attempt to inspire myelf to write and post more tutorials on this blog.
We all have them. Those jeans that we USED TO be able to wear. Those jeans we WISH we could still wear. I admit I am guilty of keeping a bunch of jeans I wore in college. Ten years and two kids later, and there is very little chance that I will ever be able to wear them again, even if they were, by some odd chance, to come back in style again.

Since I have serious problems getting rid of perfectly good clothes, there is a simple solution: make the jeans fit by adding a side panel that provides a little more room. Let's start with the jeans we are going to refit.
These jeans are pretty great, with the exception, of course, that they are about 2 sizes too small. On the plus side though, they are in great condition, they have the right length inseam for me, they have a button fly (which I love), and they are boot cut, so I won't have to add any additional width at the bottom to account for tapered jeans. They're also FREE, having been in my attic since I got pregnant with my 6 year old.  If you don't have those jeans you wish you could still get into, you can also hit up any Goodwill or second hand shop and pick up a pair of jeans for very little money.  If you want your jeans to be paneled, the best would be to get a pair about 2-3 sizes too small. 

The first thing to do is to rip out the outseams with a seam ripper. I do this exactly the way your sewing instructor told you NOT to rip out seams. I put the seam ripper between the two sides of denim and cut the threads. Since the jeans have been sewn together with a chain stitch, you should be able to get enough play to just pull and rip without ripping a hole in the denim....and heck, it's quicker.

Cut all of the stitching on both sides from the beginning of the waistband to the hem. At the hem, tear out the stitches a few inches to either side of the seam and unroll the hem around the outseam.

Once your seams are ripped out, remove the stitches and left over thread pieces. Do NOT press the jeans after doing this. At the waistband, cut the waistband straight up from the seam.

At this point, measure the outseam of the pants INCLUDING the extra fabric from the unrolled hem, but NOT including the waistband. This will be measurement A.
Additionally, measure the width of the waistband.

Then, try on the pants. Yes, post rip. Now you can get them on. The way I like to do this is by running a belt through the belt loops and tightening it so it hits at my waist.

Straighten out the jeans so the seams are in the right place and measure how much space there is between the outseams. Measure in a few different places along your hips, thighs, and waist, and be sure to measure on both sides. One measurement will be the largest. Use that one to give you an idea of how wide your side panels will have to be, as you can see in my picture here.

I need about 4" at the lower hip. For the panel I need to make, I will add 1" for seams and an additional 1" for comfort, for a total of 6" of width. This will be measurement B.

Note: this is a good time, if you want to, to add any appliques, embroideries, or other embellishments to your jeans.

Now, you know how large the side panels of your pants will need to be. (A long, by B wide). The easiest way to do this is to cut a single piece of fabric to that measurement. I, however, tend to prefer to make a patchwork panel for the sides of my jeans, so that is what I will be showing.
I start off by laying out the patches for my pants to get a good idea of how they will look. I then sew the patches together. Since the patches are cotton, and cotton is lighter weight than denim, I like to also add a lining piece of fabric for the inside of the jeans. This adds weight and also increases the durability of the panels.
For the waistband, I take a piece of fabric the width of the panels and twice the length of the waistband plus 1" for seams. I fold the fabric lengthwise and place the raw edges lined up with the top of the panel going into the side of the pants. If you are using a lining piece, line this piece up also, matching the wrong side of the lining to the wrong side of the panel with the waistband piece on the outside, sandwiching the panel piece. Additionally, I like to have a small piece of heavy duty elastic to add to the inside of the waistband. This helps pull in the waist from the comfort inches I added into the pants earlier.
I cut a piece of elastic 1" smaller than the actual measurement I needed from the pants when I measured them (for me this is 3"). If you prefer not to have elastic in your waistband, make the waistband the actual width you needed added to your jeans plus 1" for seams, and taper out from the waistband measurement along the sides of the panels until you get to the full width of the panels at approximately 3-4" below the waist. I prefer the elastic because it allows for "fat days" and slight weight fluctuations.
Line up the elastic with the center of the waistband, pin right sides together, and sew your side panel onto your jeans. The easiest way to do this is to have the jeans on top going through the sewing machine, and sewing right along the old seam line. The jeans should still have a slight fold where the old seam was. Just slowly follow along in this. No worries about the different coloration from the dyeing of the denim showing,and the jeans will automatically press to the side after stitching so they lie flat.You will need to be careful when sewing around the rivet. Just go slowly and make sure you don't try to actually sew it. It should be off to the side, but in some jeans it is close.

Once you reach the hem, you may have some fabric left--cut that off straight across. Then sew on the other side of the panel, again with the jeans on top. Stop right before you hit the waistband on the way up, pull the elastic through the casing, and sew everything together. It should look like this when you are done:

Repeat with the other side.

Once the side panels are all sewn in, I like to finish the seams. This will keep them from unraveling. I have a serger so I just serge the edges of the seams, just as they were before I ripped out the side seams of the jeans. If you don't have a serger, you can zig-zag along the raw edge, or you can use an over cast stitch if your machine has one.

For the hem, re-roll the jeans back to how they were originally rolled. The panel will start to roll for you. Just follow that roll all the way across, top stitch following the old hem seam, and you are done.

To troubleshoot length: If your jeans are NOT the correct inseam length, there are a few ways to work through this. If the pants are too short, measure how much additional length you need. you can either cut off the hem, and sew a length of fabric onto the bottom for this extra length as an easy fix, or you can use this more complicated method: After opening the outseam, but before measuring for the needed length of the panel, cut the measurement of the additional length you need above the hem plus one inch off the hem off the jeans. For example, if you need 3 extra inches, cut your jeans off 4" above the factory hem.

With the jeans open, sew a strip of fabric that is the extra length you need plus 1" for seams onto the bottom. Then sew on the hem of the jeans. Finish the jeans as above.

Try on your new jeans and give yourself a pat on the back.

Two additional trouble shooting tips:

1. If your jeans are tapered at the ankle, you can counter that by tapering the bottom of your side panel so the bottom of your jeans is nice and straight...and along those same lines, if you like flares, just flare the panel as much as you want. Above all, feel free to experiment!

2. If you are getting too much fabric at the hip, where your legs start, you can taper your panel slightly along the "front seam" of the panel from about 1/2 way down the thigh upwards to the hip, and even through the waist to have less fabric. (By slightly I mean MAYBE a total of 1/2 to 1 inch TOTAL by the top of the taper.)  A lot of jeans tend to be snugger in the hips and rear end than other pants, so the extra fabric may not give yout he look you prefer.  This is an easy fix that you can decide whether or not you want by trying on the jeans before finishing the edges and hemming.  I have jeans that I have both ways, depending on how the jeans were sut in the first place.

Another great thing about these jeans: If you get tired of the way they look, or if you lose or gain weight so they no longer fit again, you can just rip out the panels and start all over again! Good luck and Enjoy your new wardrobe!

Sellers of the Week (eBay Edition) - 2/27/10

I thought I would talk about a few eBay buyers I have bought from, since this was an eBay-focused week for me.  A lot of handmade items I bought and used this week came from eBay sellers.

I like checking on eBay for supplies, larger orders, resale, AND handmade. A lot of sellers are on both Etsy and eBay, and eBay is a great place to find handmade seller's closeouts.  When you are on a tight budget, eBay is a great place to check. A number of sellers I have highlighted here have eBay shops also, since eBay gets such a huge exposure.

Anyway, Three eBay sellers I have used and recommend:

1. Franks11 - this seller is my go-to for cotton quilt fabrics.  They have awesome customer service, and really listen to you.  Yes, they sell in bulk, but their quilt fabric is of the highest quality, and is shipped super fast.  Franks11 has actually CALLED ME at times when they have gotten extra special shipments in at super low prices to let me know about them.  I highly recommend them for bulk fabric.

2. Lotus in the Moonlight - This is a wonderful store for resort and casual flowy clothes.  Annie, the owner/designer is in Bali and uses the beautiful fabric she finds there to make gorgeous clothing.  Yes, she has gone pretty streamlined at this point, but everythign is still her design. The shipping is fabulously quick, adn if you buy a few items, she will combine.  The only negative is, a lot of her stuff is dry clean only, as my husband discovered when he washed everything for me one day.  I love the designs, and if you are into the flowy look, you should really check them out.

3. Parawire - parawire is a great resource for wire. I get a lot of my silvered copper wire from parawire, because their wire is such great quality. Parawire has their own site where you can get their wire in just about any color or length that you want. parawire's eBay store is their "closeout" store where wire that has not quite lived up to their exacting standards, closeouts, spool ends, etc. end up for HUGE discounts.  Their shipping is quick, and they are very reliable.  You need to keep checking this site, because when their items show up, they go fast, and there is not always much in the eBay store.

And those are my three sellers of the week!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

This Week's Review(s) 2/20

Well, it's been a light week for reviews.  I have a LOT of samples from a lot of different sellers, but they all seem to be soap samples. I only use about one sample of soap per week, so I am slowing down on the reviews.  I have also been burning the same candle all week, since it was a nice big jar candle.  Since tonight's bath was using a bath bomb from a company I have already reviewed, that means I don't have a lot of reviews for you this week.

This week's soap was from Delta Moon Soapworks, in a scent called "Rainforrest" Other than the psychotic little English teacher in my head cringing at the misspelling of "Rainforest", I must admit that I can see why this soap is one of their best sellers.  The scent on this soap is very mild, just barely covering up the scent of "soap" when you wash, which is great if you don't want an overwhelming scent on your soap, or if you want to put on perfume after your shower.  So far, the soap sample has been holding up very well, and lathering nicely. I feel nice and squeaky clean after washing without feeling dried out, which I love.  I have a couple of other samples of soap from Delta Moon Soapworks, and they all seem very nice and of good quality.

As I mentioned earlier, I have been burning the same jar candle all week.  Though I have spoken about them before, I will give a shout out to Unicorn's Pride for their wonderful smelling candles.  I believe the last time I brought them up, I was talking about their awesome soaps.  Unicorn's Pride is run by a woman who I met over the internet a few years ago. She is very skilled in so many areas, and has turned her abilities into a great business.  Lana, the woman behind Unicorn's Pride, makes lovely soaps, lotions, shampoos, and body sprays along with her jar candles. She also hand crochets scrubbies and washcloths to use with her products, making it a real one stop shopping experience when you go to her shop.  If you need a hat or scarf, hers are very well made, too, and a natural extension from her other crocheted products.  I know Lana is all about happy customers, and she is one of my go-to sellers.

Since I have been sick this week, I have been all about the tea.  I had bought a bundle of teas from Blue Raven Tea over the holidays, and I have been drinking their Autumn Harvest Rooibos loose tea a lot. Autumn Harvest, Icewine, and TeaMan's Christmas Blend and Apricot black teas have been my saviors all week. Blue Raven Tea has great customer service and super high quality tea.  I have a bunch of different flavors of loose tea from Blue Raven Tea. My favorite is Seven Treasures Black blend...unfortuantely I love it so much I am out this week, adn it is out of stock, so I am checking back. Don't buy it all on me, readers!  (OK, if you beat me to it again, I'll live...I'll just pout a lot)  A lot of their flavored black teas, regular black teas, and destination blends seem so awesome, I am excited to try a bunch of them!  Blue Raven Tea is constantly coming up with awesome sounding (and tasting) blends, and they just keep me coming back for more. 

Well, that's about all for the reviews this week, but March samplers are coming out soon, so I shoud have a bunch more to talk about soon!  yay!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Some of my Etsy Purchases

Just a quick note today mentioning some Etsy sellers that I have bought from who I had a great experience with.  I am going to stick to three a week with a BRIEF review. I am sorting them by their etsy seller id.

1. SabrinaLeaf - I bought two pottery leaf soap dishes from Sabrina leaf.  They were extremely well packaged, and I get a lot of compliments on the soap dish in my guest bathroom.  They shipped quickly, and their work was of great quality.

2. haveitconfections - I LOVE Have it Sweet's caramels and homemade marshmallows.  Every time I buy from them, their packaging is professional, the items ship within a reasonable amount of time, and they have excellent communication.

3. Sandyssundries - last year, I got some awesome fingerless gloves from Sandy's Sundries.  They were the perfect size for my hand and shipped super quick.  I literally wore them to death, then my daughter stole them and lost a few.  Now that I am in Texas, I have less use for them, but they're great for chilly days.

And those are my three sellers of the week!  Thanks to all of them for a great transaction!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Two Weeks' Reviews 2/2-13

So, I missed posting my reviews earlier this week. I take full responsibility for this, as I was on an internship week, and was just too tired to post my reviews.  Also, as of last week, I only had one item to review, due to some disappointments, so it's probably a good thing that I waited.

Speaking of disappointments, since I am uncomfortable saying negative things about sellers on this blog, if I have a bad experience with a seller or sample, they will just not be mentioned by name here (though a general statement about "don'ts" may be based on something I have dealt with from them).  If I review a seller or product here, it will be because the positived outweigh any negatives that I have encountered with the seller, and I feel confident in recommending their products. This may mean that I don't review one of my typical products in a week due to my disappointment.

And now.....On to the reviews!

This week's soap is actually a foaming sugar scrub.  I have had a few foaming sugar scrub samples from The Soap Diva in my soap drawer for a while.  I got them from the Little Black Boxes, and due to my discomfort with using sugar scrubs in general, I haven't used them.  Well, last week's soap from Vintage Soap Shoppe lasted all of last week and most of this week.  Since I like to start new soap samples on the weekend for purposes of my reviews, I had a few days before I broke into the new sample.  For some reason, instead of just pulling out one of my "go-to" soaps, I decided to be daring and pull out one of the sugar scrub samples instead.  Let me tell you, I am glad that I did.

One of the things that had been turning me off of thiese samples was the fact that they were in plastic condiment to-go containers. This makes for a relatively small sample that, to me, looks a  That the Soap Diva had taken the time to print a lovely professional looking clear label on their containers countered much of this impression, and led me to keep these samples.  I understand that money is tight and that sellers don't want to spend too much on samples, however I have just had too many of these containers explode in my samplers, their contents getting on everything for me to feel anything better than ambivalent about their use.  What makes the Soap Diva special is, their choice of sample container is the ONLY negative that I could find with this sugar scrub....oh, and I looked on the website, and their regular scrubs come in a lovely jar.

Here in Houston, we have been having quite the cold snap.  Temperatures have been in in the lower forties for days. This has led to my typical winter nemesis: dry skin on my limbs and a grease slick on my face.  I normally have extremely oily skin all over, but when I am in long sleeves and long pants every day and going in and out of temperature controlled buildings, the skin on my arms and legs gets all dry and scaly.  Inevitably, my face is all broken out and I am slathering on the lotion everywhere else.  After a few days of using this scrub, though, I noticed that my arms and legs were not sucking up as much lotion as normal, and I was getting less itchy over the course of the day.  I give a large amount of the credit to the Soap Diva and their sugar scrub. 

The Soap Diva offers soaps, body butters and lotions, regualr sugar scrubs, candles, and wax tarts all in a huge variety of scents on their website.  Their prices are extremely good, and I look forward to the day that the come up on my "buy today" list.

Since it has been so chilly, I have also been shooting through the lip balm.  I have taken to carrying a pot or stick in my coat pocket, my purse, and my car.  Fortunately, even with my AS allergies, I have had plenty of lip balm, due to a few wonderful sellers.  One of the sellers, I was introduced to through Sampler Village. In last month's Sampler Village box, Luster Canyon sent out a lovely little set of a wonderful lotion and a little mini lip balm tube. WELL!  Every morning, I rub the lotion on my scaly legs, and every day after lunch, I pull that little mini tube out of my pocket and rub on some of the lip balm.

Luster Canyon's Lip Balms are unsweetened.  They do use flavor, but there is no sweetener, so the flavor is very light, though the scent is wonderful and strong.  There is only enough flavor tomake the lip balm not taste like "lip balm".  It's enough.  I also love the tiny little tubes.  They fit perfectly into my jeans.  I might have to go try to bug them to make me a little sampler set of their other flavors in those little tubes.  I have a bad habit of losing lip balms for a few months at a time when they're about half done, because I put them "somewhere special" and start a new flavor, then forget where I put them when I am ready to get back to them. These little sizes are perfect for that!

Luster Canyon's lotion is not oily at all, yet very moisturizing.  It lets off a nice scent that dissipates pretty quickly, which I like, since I don't always want to smell my lotion all day.  I don't feel like I have to slather it on, and it works all day. Luster canyon also makes soaps, and you can get their soaps in coordinating scents with your lotion, which is always nice, since you don't have to worry about clashing scents.

On a customer service note, I wrote an email to Luster Canyon asking them about whether or not their flavors had artificial sweeteners in them.  They got back to me extremely quickly, and were friendly and professional.  You can't ask for anything more than that!

Another lip balm I have been using this week is from Babynme.  I found this seler on Etsy this past Christmas when I was looking for AS free lip balms.  Babynme were very quick getting back to me and were nice and professional.  I ordered their Cinnamon lip balm, and it has a gret flavor and good coverage. They have a good sized pot of lip balm, and a great price.  They shipped quickly and were just wonderful to work with. Babynme offers other bath and pody products on their etsy site, and they have a few other affiliated sites.  Check them out!

Since I don't like putting sweet or strong scented lotions on my face, I usually use unscented Lubriderm after washing my face at night. Well, this week, I ran out and never got tot he store to buy more.  As luck would have it, in this past month's Little Black Box, I got some lovely body butter samples from Main Element Love in a scent called "rise and shine". This lovely citrusy scent is light and airy, so I decided to give it a try as a face lotion.  I think the only people not happy about that decision are the ones at Lubriderm. The body butter perfectly moisturizes my skin without making me break out or become a giant oil slick. The butter is a good consistency, not to firm, yet not too gooey, and perfect for the little pot that it is in.  As an added bonus, one of the things I find most exciting about this lotion find is that Main Element Love is IN HOUSTON!  yes, that's right, they are close by, so I should be able to get their body butter, soaps, shampoos, scrubs, hair care, or bath bombs whenever I want!  Sweet!

Speaking of bath bombs, I tried a new one this week.  Mainely Naturals sent these adorable race car bath fizzies in to The Little Black Boxes, and I used mine in my bath last night.  It was super fizzie, and gave off a perfect amount of scent.  I ahve discovered that, event hough I have a huge tub, I don't like how much oil I get from the huge bath bombs, so this one was just perfect for me. Mainely Naturals scents their race car fizzies with orange oil, which is a nice clean scent. They have all kinds of other lovely scented products in their etsy store, also.  I actually have another fizzie from an additional LBB that I bought, and I think I need to hide it from my kids before they fight over who gets it in his or her bath.

One of the things that I love about Valentine's Day is the CANDY.  The Sampler Village had a bunch of fabulous candies and goodies in it, and I just want to mention them.  There was some fabulous rock candy from Tracy's Home Canned goods, an awesome fondant bear that my daughter gobbled up from CRLCreations, and a lovely heart fondant cake topper from Two Sugar Babies.

Also, as a new feature on my blog, tomorrow, I am going to discuss a few good sellers I have bought from. Some will be repeats of sellers I have reviewed, and some will be sellers I have never mentioned here before. I wan tot bring up sellers of items that I have bought over the years that I have had a good experience with, adn some of those sellers are sellers of the type of thing I might not otherwise review.  I am not sticking with only the sellers I bought from recently because I am on a very tight budget, so I have not had a lot of buying money recently,and I want to be able to mentiona  few sellers every week. I do not make a purchase every week, so I am mentioning older sellers, too.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sample Pet Peeves and Sampler Boxes

There are a few negative things that I have been noticing are a constant theme in a lot of the samples I have been getting in my sample boxes. They make me wonder if sellers don't realize how important they are.  Working under the assumption that a seller is interested in my opinion and my reasoning for WHY I have not bought from them, I figured I would list a top five of my more major pet peeves when it comes to samples.

NUMBER ONE: Poor Quality Samples and/or Contact Information. I have had wax tarts that, though they burned well and put off decent scent, arrive in samplers wrapped in saran wrap, fall apart in my hands, and leave dye on everything. I've gotten soap that is unevenly cut and attached with scotch tape to a hand written "business card".  I've gotten lotion (I think) samples in mini disposable condiment cups that are completely unlabeled. I've gotten beautiful samples that were unattached to a business card, or items labeled with the seller's business name, but no URL.  I've had great samples that I have loved that haven't said what scent they are.  Why, if your promotional material is of shoddy quality or shows a lack of attention to detail, would I think that your packaging or the quality of your product will be better when I purchase from you? 

This ties in to....

NUMBER TWO: No Ingredients Listed.  I have allergies.  People in my family have allergies. People who I buy samplers for have allergies. Even if buyers don't have any allergies and are just conscientous about what goes into/onto our bodies/homes, we should NOT have to look up the ingredients from your product.  If your candle causes my husband's face to swell up, I want to know what was in it, so I can compare it to ones that DON'T make him swell up and see what he is reacting to.  If you send out an artisanal tea, I NEED TO KNOW if there are nuts in it.  Yes, I am one of those people who will look things up, I'll even email you about it, but it irks me a little if I have to.  (If you are polite and swift about getting back to me, that may erase my irk.)

NUMBER THREE: Food Scented Bath and Body Products. I opened a lotion the other day.  It was from a seller I have gotten lots of samples from and who I really want to like.  They have super professional packaging, great specials, and I have heard great things about their product quality.  I just can't bring myself to even PUT their lotion on my face.  Why?  The one I opened the other day smelled like strawberry-banana yogurt.  It was also pink and the same consistency of strawberry banana yogurt.  I put some on my finger and brought it toward my face.....and wiped it off on a napkin.  I felt like I was about to smear strawberry-banana yogurt on my face. The only reason I even CONSIDERED putting this lotion on is because it's the winter and I don't have to worry about attracting bugs. In the spring or summer, there is no way.  I also had to throw it away in a way that I kept it from my kids.  They may be 6 and 7, but they HAVE tried to eat food scented lotions and whipped soaps....I don't buy food shaped and scented soaps and candles for that reason.

So many things come in scented like food or sweets.  It bugs me.  You are losing a lot of potential customers.  You do not only have to contend with the possiility of the buyer not liking the scent you sent out, but also the possibility that they won't want to wear a food scent all day. I know I am not alone in the not wearing or using food scented products population.

NUMBER FOUR: Hyper Specific Seasonal Scents.  In October, I got so many pumpkin scented things, by Thanksgiving, I had been smelling them for a month emanating from all of my storage drawers.  After a while, I didn't even want any pumpkin pie, and it's my FAVORITE. I still have more pumpkin scented stuff than anyone could ever use.  Same thing with Peppermint and Pine scents this December.  Already this January, I have gotten a world of strawberry and chocolate scents.  Set yourself apart!  EVERYONE is doing the popular scent of the month, so do something different! You don't want me sick of its scent before I even get to trying your product.

NUMBER FIVE: Vague or Non-Existent Labels and/or Directions. It took me over 3 months to figure out what the heck wickless candles were for. I really thought they were some sort of cruddy potpourri, and I HATED THEM.  Then I learned what they were and how to use them. Now I use wickless candles 3 or 4 times a week. Wickless and wicked candles are my most frequent purchases.  The person who sent directions and an explanation is at the top of my buy-from list because I appreciated that she took the time to make up a little explanation card.  I am still confused by disolvable body butter and sugar scrubs.  I have bought a few solid shampoo and conditioner bars, and have yet to figure out how to PROPERLY use them.  There are other things I have gotten, and I don't even know what they are! things that look like little food things but say "DON'T EAT ME", yet don't tell me what to do with them; beaded thing-a-ma-bobs that are not long enough to wear as a necklace, but seem too bulky to be a book mark.  Etc., etc., etc.  Things are labeled in some sort of obscure way, and I can't figure them out. If I can't figure out what it is, how to use it, and why to use it, why would I use it? If I don't USE it, why would I buy it from you again? 

So, there you have it. My top five pet peeves of samples I get from samplers.  I'll tell you, though MOST of the samples are awesome.  They leave me drooling for a full sized item or five.  Some sampler senders are guilty of one of these every once in a while.  It happens.  This is why I usually cut everyone some slack.

I alo tend to buy my sample packages from reputable box sellers that I have heard about from word of mouth from multiple buyers and sellers.  I know there is some trash talking going on around some of these sellers, but that's not really something I care about as a buyer.  That being said, I have gotten good quality boxes from the following sellers:

The Little Black Boxes

Sampler Village

The Sampler

I also recently ordered from this seller based on good word of mouth:

Out of the Box Samplers

Because I am a "bath/body/candles/edibles" person, I really have a strong love for the samples from Sampler village which are mostly items in that category and The Little Black Boxes, which tends to get a great blend of everything every month.  The Sampler is more paper goods, cards, and jewelry based, which is not really my thing, though their sampler was excellent.  I mention this because the Sampler may not come up much here, but you should check them out. 

Out of the Box is my newest sampler box discovery.  The box I ordered looks like it has a good blend of items in it. I will have to see how they compare over the long run.

Well, I am off to a charity auction for my kids' school tonight and then watching the SUPER BOWL this weekend.  Look for a lot of items being reviewed early next week.  That's what happens when I have to get gussied up.  Have a great weekend, and GEAUX SAINTS!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Late Reviews! 2/2/10

Ok, I am late with my reviews this week. I was waiting for a few people to get back to me.  Some did, some did not.  Also, I had to cram for a practice test last weekend, so I was not as organized as I would have liked to have been coming into Monday.  I know. NO MORE EXCUSES! Give us reviews!!

Now that I am done pointing fingers around and making excuses, this week's soap is "Lavender and Cream Soap Blondie" from Vintage Soap Shoppe. I got this soap in one of the NEW SAMPLERS I tried out this month, Sampler Village. I am really liking Sampler Village, but I'll talk about samplers later.  There are some things I really like about this soap.  I love love love love love how they cut their sample.  Most soap samples are about 1oz. The seller will take a 4 oz. bar of soap, cut it in half, and then cut that half in half again making a thin cross section of the finished soap from top to bottom. (note: I am totally guessing on how sellers make their soap samples).  Often this is done (I assume) because the soap is made with some really neat layers, and the sample can show off the cool look of the soap as well as its body cleansing prowess.  The sample I got from Vintage Soap shoppe was not cut that way.  It was a square chunk cut out of a four oz bar like you would take 1/4 of a peanut and butter sandwich.  The sample has been very easy to hold onto, and I haven't had to fold it over and re-squish it together from getting too thin.

Also, this soap has some sort of granules in it which work just like a built in loofah to exfoliate while you wash.  Especially in the winter, when we are all so susceptible to dry skin, a little bit of help with the exfoliation is appreciated.  The soap is very moisturizing, too!  Vintage Soap Shoppe uses all natural ingredients, and makes candles, body polish, soap, lip balm, and other bath and beauty products. I have put a bunch of their items on my favorites list.

Speaking of Etsy's favorites list....I use mine as a wish list more than a favorites list.  I don't think this is unique.  I catch flack all the time for having a HUGE favorites list, but honestly, if the husband wants to pick me up a surprise every once in a while, he has told me how much he appreciates my (not so) little list.

Since this week I also started pounding the pavement, I used some of my lovely perfume samples!  Now, I have an unhealthy obsession with perfume, and have more of it than a family of 10 women could use in a lifetime, but that doesn't stop me. This month, I got nother wonderful sample from Lemon Lollipop.  This month's sample is actually a scent called "Lemon Lollipop" which, I have to admit, confused my poor little brain, asI was sure lemon Lollipop had forgotten to list the scent on the sample.  Silly me!  I actually lucked out, and Lemon Lollipop is one of a small number of sellers who overlapped in my samplers, and I got TWO samples this month! Go me!  The little samples will last you about 10 wearings, which is just the perfect amount of time for you to decide whether or not you really love the scent or whether it smells nice int eh beginning, but gets old fast.  Lemon Lollipop has a number of affiliated shops, and if you love a bunch of their scents across shops, they will put together a single custom order for you with the simplest email request or convo on etsy.  I really like all of the unique scents that they have. It is not all the same scents that everyone else is offering (though you can get a few of the mre popular ones, too).  They also offer solid perfumes, candles, and all kinds of other bath and body products. 

A thought: I have been getting Lemon Lollipop samples for MONTHS in my LBBs, and I had never ordered from them.  I finally pulled together a little money and am taking the plunge, since I ran out of samples of the scent "Sultry Summer" that I was wearing a lot and ran out of.  When I reached for it again yesterday and realised I was out, I knew it was time to bite the bullet.

I jsut realized that I am right this very minute burning a new brand of wickless candle.  I got a "Spring Rain" scented wax melt in my Little Black Box last month from Silver City Scentsations.  I was in the mood for a non floral, non-food, non-spicy scent, and this one just jumped out at me.  it is a lovely light scent, and the wax melts cleanly and without any smoking. The tart is just the right size for my burner, too. No overflow is always a good thing. Because this is a lighter scent, it is less noticeable in the house, but it does a nice job, and it is exactly what I was looking for.  I'm sure Silver City Scentsations other scents are much stronger seeming because they are stronger scents, I just do not yet have the experience with them.

I burn some sort of candle almost every day.  Even the hubby likes my candles, and he helps me pick out the scent of the day.  I have a LOT of votives, jar candles, and wickless candles.  At one time the hubby thought I had more than anyone could ever use, but now he realises I have less than a year's supply.  Now, if I could just convince him I don't have too much tea....(OK, I do have too much tea)

Last, but certainly not least in this week's reviews is the lovely Pink Sugar Cupcake mini bath bomb from Bath Talk that I got in my sampler from Sampler Village.  This bath bomb is 2 oz, which actually worked out well for me.  When we bought this house, I inherited a HUGE tub. I usually use the big bath bombs, then spend quite some time after my bath scrubbing up the leftover slick.  These little cupcakes let off a decent amount of scent for their size, but due tot he enormity of my tub it was a lot lighter than I was used to, though there was some scent and it did help set the mood.  HOWEVER, the clean up afterwards was so much easier.

I love how cute these cupcakes look, though I was thrown off by putting a "cupcake" intot he bath tub.  I admit, I prefer the regular shapes of the bath bombs, but the cupcake shape did not stop me from thoroughly enjoying this bath and wishing I had more of these cupcake bath bombs. Bath Talk has full 6 oz cupcakes in their etsy shop along with some lovely looking scrubs, soaps, and lotions, so eventually I will stop wanting and start having....Again, as you have heard me say so many times...."SOON....SOON!!!"

Ok, I am off to make a cup of tea, work with the kiddos on some homework, and tweak some cover letters.  As a few coming attractions, I will let you know what I plan on blogging about soon.  I will be discussing a few of the samplers I have gotten over the months and why I plan on continuing to order from some and not from others, and I plan yet another discussion on samples, some of my pet peeves, and some things that make them stand out.

Have a great week!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just a (OK, not so) Quick Yay!

I came home from class last night tired and frustrated. As I walked in the door though, my attitude did a 180, because I saw that I had some awesome boxes waiting for me.  I had 2 Little Black Boxes, a Sampler from Sampler Village, my order from Heaven and Earth Essentials, and my order from Angel Face Botanicals.

Of course, I fell on them like a starving dog on steak.

Then I woke up my kids by squealing in delight. Oops.

The hubby laughed at my reactions, stole some goodies out of my boxes, and told me to blog about the boxes, because I was so overwhelmed.

I am only going to talk briefly about the Little Black Boxes, because anyone who reads this blog knows I LOVE them.  This month was the Bath, body, and Candles theme box.  I know Kim had some problems with people flaking on their samples, but all I can say about the people who DID step up and provide samples is WOW.  There are some full sized items in some of those boxes!!  You all know how much I LOVE my bath and body product and candles, and I was psyched.  That was why I bough extra boxes this month, because I wanted a sample from everyone.  I didn't quite succeed, which makes me a little sad, but that's OK. I can't wait to start using, reviewing, and planning my purchases. :)

Yeah, I know....that was BRIEF????

My eye had been opened this month on facebook to another sample seller that people thought very highly of, and that's Traci at the Sampler Village.  I had never heard of them, but I decided to try out their Valentines day Mega Super Sampler (pictured on top....and sold out, though as of this writing, their regular sampler is still available!).  Again, all I can say is WOW. Everything came packaged in this pretty pink gift box wrapped with a bow, which was a really nice touch. The box was a lot bigger than I expected, too. 

The first thing that happened when I opened this box, is my husband swiped the chocolate dipped pretzel from RhodaRose.  While he happily chowed down on what he reports was a very delicious treat that I should think about purchasing more of (he never gave me any. *pout*), I rummaged through the box.  Now, I purposely bought one of the HUGE boxes with all of this month's Villagers in it, because I wanted too see what kinds of samples the Village got, and I'll tell you, they get some nice samples.  The Valentines box had quite a few sweets samples in it too, which I of course LOVE, too.  That may be due tot he box being a "Valentine's Day" sample, but that's OK with me!  There were a lot of bath and body products, some candles, jewelry, paper products, pet treats, what have you!  In all, I was very plesed and excited!

I'm really glad I tried out the Sampler Village.  Now I have two high quality and great sampler boxes I can buy every month to be exposed to even MORE sellers!!  For future review purposes, I have done my best to keep the samples from the Village and the LBB samples separate, though some sellers appeared in both boxes.

After all of this happiness and squealing, I opened up my order from Angel Face Botanicals.  You may recall a review I made earlier this month about their "awareness" soap.  Well, I ordered a full sized bar of it, I loved it so much, and I ordered some bath salts, because, hey, I love me some bath salts.  Everything arrived extremely well packaged and safely, and into the box, they had tossed a BUNCH of soap samples!!  FREE GIFTIES!!  WAHOO!!  I swear, I was more excited than I was at Christmas....probably mostly because I had given most of my Angel Face Botanicals products away, and I was feeling sad that I didn't have more of my own. :)

Finally, I got to my order from Heaven and Earth Essentials. They have figured out my weakness at HAEE.  LOTS of different scents.  They have scents I have never heard of or seen anywhere else!  I MUST try them all!!  I love that they have a lot of different sampler packs available too, because in general, I prefer to buy a lot of different sample sized products.  I probably have adult ADD.  I get easily bored even with using the same lotion or soap every day. I like the smaller samples over the full sized products, because then I am not trying to store half used soaps or lotion when I tired of that scent or product for a while.  True, I will also buy full sized samples when I LOVE something, but that's because I know I will WANT to go back to it over and over again.

Back to Heaven and Earth Essentials. Barbara has figured me out!  Every sample was a different scent!  AND she sent me a whole little handmade satchel of EXTRAS!!  This is why I love this company.  They really care about their customers.  The box I got myself over the holidays from HAEE was also full of little extras, and it was so lovely.  I really recommend their products!

Speaking of sellers, I had some problems with some sellers over the holidays. Packages not arriving or coming late. Poor quality of items.  Breakage due to poor packaging.  People just NOT SENDING STUFF, etc.  Because of those problems, the sellers who really came through, and then added little extras (which I could use to cover the problems) got an extra little spot in my heart.  Angel Face Botanicals and Heaven and Earth Essentials were FABULOUS in that regard, along with other sellers who I have already reviewed or will be reviewing soon, and will be sure to let you know about that. Now, I know I tend to buy a lot at a time (because I buy samples and sampler packs a lot, I tend to want to make things worth the shipping), I may get special treatment, but I have had sellers send me special extras when all I did was buy a bar of soap or a single lip balm, so you never know.
I have to note, though. I had NO PROBLEMS from any seller I have gotten anything from in my purchased samplers, be it LBB, Sampler Village, or other sampler packs. I have also never had a problem with anyone I reviewed on my blog, though I admit I have not purchased from a few of them YET. I don't anticipate problems, though.  The problems I had were mostly random people I found on etsy or the web, and I had some warning signs show up with those sellers that I have not gotten from anyone I reviewed (poor communication being a big warning sign). 

So, I'm done sharing my extreme excitement!  I hope I can get you excited, too!!