Friday, January 30, 2015

My life in shambles: A post-Birchbox Review of Things in my Immediate Vicinity

In one fell swoop I both cancelled my Birchbox subscription and ended the existence of my primary muse for this blog. While the bandwagon fan in me can smile at the fact that the Seahawks will win another Superbowl on Sunday, the writer in me cringes at the fact that I have lost a large chunk of motivation, and that that motivation stemmed primarily from a subscription to grooming products. But I must press on. In the words of Marilla Cuthbert “To despair is to turn your back on God” and that’s certainly not what I’m about. Presented for you now is a series of reviews on what was readily available to me. While I’m certainly not in the most hygienic state that I was last month, I hope you can still enjoy this blog

Animal Portrait Calendar
I didn't believe in love at first sight until I saw this Calendar. 

As the days dwindled it became increasingly apparent that it was time for me to let go of my much beloved, but completely useless Cupcakes of 2014 Calendar. A years worth of scrumptious looking desserts was over and I took my annual mid-January trip to the mall Kiosk to pick up my 75% off replacement. The pickings were slim, but I found a single gem amongst the foliage of Sports Illustrated and Daily yoga Tips offerings. For the next 12 months I will have some of the best looking animal portraits I’ve ever seen. In the fashion of politicians and aristoc(r)ats I can gleam a small amount of joy from the cold reality that my life is slowly passing and I am helpless to stop it, yet for some socially condescending reason I’m not allowed to have a mid-life crisis before 50. What if I die at 52? Then this would be the perfect time to have one, wouldn’t it? Regardless, at least my Birthday month has the most dapper Otter I’ve ever seen, and my First born should be born on a month with a sweet looking Gibbon.

Leaving Wonderland
This is an album cover and not a craigslist add for rusty bicycles. 

This artist and met briefly at a political themed summer camp. It was seriously a giant LARP (Live Action Roleplaying Game) where we played the roles of congressmen and women and we had to lobby our bills in an attempt to have it presented before the governor at the end of the week. Natalie and I didn’t roll with the same crowd, per se. While my character was attempting to legalize Marijuana for recreational use (a bill that was assigned to me, not chosen) she was attempting to save puppies or something, I can’t really be bothered with the details at the moment. Anyway, we went to the same camp for a few years, after which I promptly forgot she existed. That is until we ended up going to the same college. An interesting coincidence that served as a catalyst to simply extend the standard Facebook friend invite and twitter follow.

Fast forward 6 years and a link pops up into my twitter feed. “Oh, look at that! Natalie made an album and posted it on youtube, I didn’t know she was that into singing, maybe I’ll give it a liste- This is fantastic!” seriously, I’m probably the worst person to review or critique music, but I was totally unprepared for the level of quality that began pouring through the small speakers on my Nexus 9. Natalie uses her musical prowess to create a sound that is uniquely her own. Lyrically, the songs are just fun while the melodies merge with her voice to create something that is simply a pleasure to listen to. Listen to it on Youtube here, but you should probably just buy it here. Follow her on Twitter here.

Chain Mail Dice Bag
My bag is just as lethal as my dice rolls.

I started a new job in the customer service department of a door manufacturing plant here in Lynden Washington. It was a long time coming, I’m thoroughly proficient in door use, as I utilize them dozens of times a day. On top of that Monsters Inc is one of my favourite Pixar films, so, yeah. It’s a passion. While touring the plant I met a fellow by the name of Ken. Ken is in charge of programming a number of the automated machines in the shop. While talking I noticed he was wearing a couple of rings made out of chainmail. As if programming robots wasn’t cool enough, this guy tells me he creates chainmail items as a hobby. While he absolutely declined to accompany me to the mid-summer Renaissance Faire, he said he could make me a dice bag. I used to be able to say with confidence that my leatherman was the most dangerous item in my bag, NO LONGER. I now have the capability of rendering a full grown rhinoceros unconscious. Ken is the most unsuspecting guy in the world, but he carves and makes chainmail and used to play Dungeons and Dragons. He is a better role model than The Backstreet Boys.

Jack in the Box Tacos
I think they had to stop using this promotional image because it was the definition of false advertising. 

Simultaneously horrifyingly disgusting and absolutely delicious at the same time. I might be upset that they even call them tacos if they weren't 50 cents a pop and as addicting as meth. A co-worker apptly called them "Crunchy grease".

*note: I don’t know if meth is actually addictive, as that’s only an assumption I’ve made from years of watching TV and movies.

Marley’s Mellow Mood

I am drinking this right now. This tea is advertised as a “Relaxation Drink”. Essentially an anti-energy type of concoction that calms your emotions and clears your head. While you could certainly achieve a similar experience with a hot cup of Chamomile, this one tastes like Arizona raspberry tea, which is what summer taste like and who doesn’t love the taste of summer? Living in a state that has legalized recreational marijuana for real, it’s easy to see what the packaging is trying to insinuate. However, you’re not carded for this drink, because it is literally just tea. Using chamomile in the ingredients as well as a few other choice herbs, it manages to make you pretty sleepy. While undoubtedly the placebo effect plays a large part in how one might feel drinking this. For me in particular it causes my eyelids to feel heavy, not quite as much as say a dose of benadryl or nyquil, but it certainly makes it easier to sleep. Some people have problems with the dragons and how they make you cross the sea without even consulting their travel agents before going ot ashi in the oatmeal with the skittles winning a su[erbowl go hawks sniiiiiiiiiiiiiiidddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd.

I'm sorry, I don't even know if this is funny or useful because I seriously started drinking that tea 30 minutes ago and I need to go to sleep. I'm just posting this. Tune in next time when I review a Thai restaurant that the entire city of Lynden claims is fantastic in some sort of elaborate practical joke to convince me to eat there again.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Farewell to Birchbox

Well my smelly colleagues, my pursuit of higher hygiene is about to take a semi-permanent hiatus. Having a $20 reoccurring fee for small bottles of potions lotions that make me absolutely irresistible to my beautiful wife is just too steep a price to pay. My limited disposable income will be better suited elsewhere. Perhaps I'll simply set aside the money for a "blogging budget" where I can spend it on things I can write about here. Regardless, unless I've screwed up the billing cycle, this will be the last Birchbox review for a while. So here it is, my January 2015 Birchbox

Billy Jealousy Fuzzy Logic Hair Strengthening shampoo

Honestly, I just got tired of typing all these long names.

The vast majority of shampoo on Birchbox is geared towards reverse hair thinning.

A legitimate picture from my Homeschool alma mater.
That's me on the left celebrating my friend's graduation from highschool a few years back. I cannot risk my hair getting any stronger. Thankfully I recieved a sample size of this, otherwise what is currently a symbiotic relationship would undoubtably turn hostile to the point where I would simply become Gossamer (google it, he's a Looney Toon because I refuse to use a "cousin It" reference. I heard enough of those serving dry turkey and boxed mashed potatoes to senior citizens ). Oh right, the Shampoo. Oddly enough, this was the first of two products that reminded me slightly of Andy's Mints. The smell was slightly more natural, as if the chocolate mint had been eaten by a pine tree that exhaled directly into your face. The texture was soft, it lathered up nicely and cleaned by hair like a shampoo should. While my hair didn't cascade into perfect waves of chocolate brown after running my hands through it, it did an exceptional job of making my hair light and fluffy, like how I've always pictured a good souffle. The sample was nice, and I love trying new hair product, but this did little to deter me from my giant Amazon bottle of Head & Shoulders.

Clean: Cologne 
Not an actual cleaner.

I mean, the name of this is just so accurate it's almost pointless to write out a whole review. This smell is to cologne what "Clean Linen Scent" is to Febreze, bread and butter (not literally, you freaks, it's a figure of speech). I've reffered to my wife's asthma issues, and this one was the worst on that front. I tried to be sneaky apply a little on my way to work. It was my first day, so I was wanting to impress you know? Well between coughs she insisted that no one else working at the door factory would care what I smelled like. While she was 100% right, I feel like it really gave me that confidential edge that's needed when starting a new job. It was a nice scent, but nothing to write home about, unless the only way you write home is through product reviews, in which case it absolutely is.

DTRT: First Thing First Facial Scrub
Ingredients: Gunmetal.

I received a DTRT facial scrub last month and it was exactly what I was looking for. So, needless to say I was surprised and confused when I received an ALMOST identical product. Same company, packaging and type of product. The difference here was that this iteration was a once weekly facial scrub. DTRT seems to have made a commitment to not feeding fish those plastic exfoliating beads that were so popular in cosmetics and 1990s design. Instead, this time they threw in some crushed up appricot seeds to do the leg work. To be honest the thing I remember most about the sample was the color. It was like a silvery gunmetal grey. I took the greatest risk you can take while washing your face; I opened my eyes. I did this to double check that I hadn't just rubbed acrylic paint all over my mind-blowingly gorgeous face. Both times I survived and saw no traces of the pigmentation residing on my hands. A real shame.

Mt. Sapola Charcoal Soap

Not for use with BBQs

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love good bar soap. Bonus points for this being the second item to smell like chocolate mint. Oh sure, it's not the scent they were going for, but I don't hold that against them. To be fair, if Wonka's chocolate river mixed with a crest factory you might have a closer idea to the smell. Yes, chocolate toothpaste (patent pending) sounds about right. The charcoal color is something I've had issues with in the past, primarily with the dye sticking to my shower. It wasn't as big of an issue this time around, but still had residual color left where it sat. Charcoal unfortunately only refers to the color of the soap, as the exfoliation is accomplished by some kind of rice. So not only do you not get the exfoliating experience of a lifetime, but you may as well kiss that Chimney Sweep costume goodbye.

Icon Q Altos Earphones with Mic

Triangle box can also be used as a survival tool when confronted with wildlife.
This review almost didn't happen! The packaging was reminiscent of the torturous Christmas mornings where it took poor dad three hours to undo twist ties and rip open clam-shell packaging before I could play with my toys, which ultimately just ended with both of us in tears. Not only was it difficult to open, but the package was triangle. What that means is that when I finally managed to wrestly open one end of the package I may as well have opened a switch blade. This razor sharp point kept shanking my hand like he was some prison yard bully. No matter, I'll just open the other sid- DOUBLE SWITCHBLADE!!!!! The headphones sound pretty good, I mean they certainly give my beloved $10 Gummy plus headphones a run for their money. The cord unfortunately tangles a little easier than I would like. Sound is pretty great, the in-ear pieces come in multiple sizes and the mic is also a nice touch. I was eager to get a different sample this month, but now that I'm blasting Jibs "Chain Hang Low" into my cranium, I really can't complain too much.

Well, that's it for now I guess. I may return to Birchbox reviews at some point, but at the moment the cash just isn't there, or rather it's going to be reallocated to either other nerdy stuff or just food. I hope you've enjoyed this series, because it's really been a blast to write. I'm off to use up my Birchbox points on two pairs of fancy new socks.