Last week when G and I were in Amish country, we stopped by an antique shop (and there are tons of them).

In the midst of the many piles of stuff...

G came across some old (old as in 1933-1935) issues of Woman's Home Companion. We started flipping through them and noticed an abundance of fascinating period advertising. Since these magazines were geared towards women, the ads were overwhelmingly about personal beauty, cleanliness, and the necessity and virtue of keeping your family happy and healthy. A woman's worth was inexorably tied to these things through these ads with almost hilarious, absurd transparency.

 Some of them seemed like parodies of the time. They made me think these can't possibly be real, who would be suckered in by these glaringly manipulative and biased messages? Who would actually choose to conform to the idealized image of women in these ads (and how incredibly diverse they are)? But really, how different are they from the advertising of today? Perhaps advertising now focuses more on imagery rather than lengthy text and testimonials and advertisers are now more savvy about how they get their points across. But it seems to me the goal is still the same: make the consumer feel inadequate, prey on their insecurities, and assure them of how much "better" they'll be if they buy such-and-such.

When looking through the magazines I was reminded of a scene in the film  Mona Lisa Smile, during which frustrated Wellesley College art teacher Katherine Watson  shows her class slides of current (then 1954) advertising, and asks them "what will the future scholars see when they study us? A portrait of women today? There you are ladies.The perfect likeness of a Wellesley graduate, Magna Cum Laude doing exactly what she was trained to do. A Rhodes scholar. I wonder if she recites Chaucer while she presses her husband's shirts." And upon showing an ad ironically praising the freedom obtained from a certain brand of girdle, she exclaims, "a girdle to set you free! What does that mean? What does that mean? What does it mean?"

Looking at these ads makes me appreciate the fact that women today can recognize them for the ridiculous, confining, stereotypical pieces of propaganda that they are, and also makes me think about how much further we have to go. After all, what will future generations think about us when they flip through the brittle pages of some old issue of Cosmo in an antique store someday?

At only two dollars each, these little pieces of history were a steal and I thought you all might find them interesting. I posted them as enlarged as I could. If you can zoom in more to read all the text, please do, as they are so illuminating!

(picture heavy)
I'm so sorry for the lateness of this review. Haus of Gloi is about to start production on summer scents and I'm just now getting to reviewing Spring. Fail, and I'm sorry. Sick parents, sick me, and birthday vacay all conspired against me this month. Good thing though, I have gotten over the honeymoon phase of my orders (though the Reverie order is still new enough to invoke little butterflies) so I can hopefully plow through these scents with little fanfare and long-winded soliloquies. Though, who knows, maybe that's the reason why you read my blog :)
This title is not quite accurate for two reasons. One, this technically is not my first Lush haul, and enough time has lapsed between my making this haul and writing this that I have already managed to acquire another, so this post will also include my second, er, third, Lush haul.

My first Lush haul was actually almost four years ago, on my totally epic trip to NYC. I planned my obsessive little heart out over that trip, and Lush was one of the stops I really wanted to make. G and I went with a friend who clearly had never experienced my indecisive, contemplative, loitering shopping style. "So, we'll meet at X in about 15 minutes?" he asked. G just chuckled. Ah, how cute. Not even close, dude.

I remember a few of the products I tried with that haul, the Mask of Magnaminty and  some bath bombs. I liked everything, so I have no idea why I never bothered to order from them since then, since I didn't think there were any Lush stores near me. Probably because Lush is a little stupid expensive. I can't bring myself to purchase a single bath bomb for six dollars for an everyday sort of use, but for a special occasion, it's some wholesome frivolous fun. Since I am going away this week for my birthday, I thought it would be a good excuse to stock up on a few fun bath thingys to take with me.

One of my favorite parts of vacation is taking a long hot bath in a bathroom that's not mine. See, that lodge bathroom is going to be totally clean, uncluttered and new (of course, I realize there is some amount of self-delusion involved in really believing all of that). Still, no cleaning products competing for space with a sink crowded with products, no crumpled towels or dusty corners I keep forgetting to get with the Swiffer.  Bright, efficient, and totally not my responsibility. That, dear reader,is my idea of a damn good time. Throw in a yummy, fizzy bath bomb and I know I will be a supremely happy camper.

I ordered a variety of products to make the shipping costs worth it, and it did take a while to reach me since it ships from Canada. I believe it was around 7-10 days. I was a little worried the long transit time would destroy the products, and some of them did arrive a little melted or beat up looking, but all were intact. Just not as pretty as if I had purchased them in store. So I would be reluctant to buy them online if they were going to be gifts.

Anyway, here's my first haul. The package came with a huge Lush catalog, which was great because I love poring over catalogs. I'm one of those weirdos that actually looks at the Swiss Colony catalogs that appear in the mailbox every holiday season, dreaming up the ideal combination of sausage, cheese, and pastry to make my Christmas perfect. Yeah. Scary.
I haven't used everything yet but I do have thoughts on a few products.

Bubbleroons in Yuzu Cocoa and Rose Jam
Massage Bar in Hottie
Bath Bombs in Dragon's Egg and Twilight
Toothy Tabs in Dirty
Tea Tree and Token to the Forest Gods Toner Tabs

I also got a sample of Alkmaar soap. I was stoked to get a sample, which I wasn't expecting at all.

I have never been a bar soap person, I guess because most I tried years ago left that too squeaky-clean feeling that I didn't like at all. But I gave Alkmaar a chance and I love the smell, jasmine and honeysuckle, and while it has a little of that squeaky- clean feeling, it seems to disappear as soon as I get out of the shower.

The massage bars melt rather quickly into virtually a massage oil, so I recommend cutting the bar into pieces to conserve it. I cut mine into fourths and am keeping the rest in the fridge. The smell of Hottie is a little medicinal and maybe not ideal for um, sensual massage, if that's what you're looking for. I will use this but probably wouldn't buy this particular bar again.

Pure curiosity made me purchase the Dirty Toothy Tabs, which I am informed were made with love by Ryan. Well, I have a love/hate relationship with Ryan and the toothy tabs. My weird food texture issues flare up when crunching up the tabs, which taste like not much else than baking soda. It is truthfully a little gag-worthy. It just feels wrong. But once I start brushing my teeth with them, it foams up impressively and leaves my teeth feeling quite clean. The taste leaves a little to be desired so I follow with ACT mouthwash, and it's all good. I swear it has whitened my teeth a little, so I am going to keep using these. In fact, I bought some more in my second Lush Haul.

I've only tried the Yuzu and Cocoa Bubbleroon, which you crumble under running water to make a nice bubbly bath. They say you split them in half for two baths, but I was able to split mine into fourths and still got perfectly sufficient bubbles. Yuzu and Cocoa is supposed to be orange and chocolate scented, but I only get orange. Still, these smell nice and left the water a light creamsicle orange and quite moisturizing. I would try these again.

So because I didn't get everything I wanted from my first haul, I checked online and realized that a mall *somewhat* near me actually has a Lush store inside Macy's. I just never went to Macy's there so I never knew. I paid it a visit a couple weeks ago and it seemed to have a good selection of products, I don't recall seeing any of the Retro products but they did have the Fresh Face Masks, which is what I was really interested in. You can't buy them online (duh, they're fresh) and it wasn't practical for me to try them when I was on my NYC trip.

The only thing I don't really like about the Lush inside Macy's is that it's more of a very compact, space-efficient kiosk, and there were like five employees just waiting to swoop on me the moment I expressed any interest in browsing. One thing you should know about me is that I am a very independent shopper. I am not chatty, I rarely want to know about the current specials, and on the rare occasion I have a question, I will ask. Nothing aggravates or makes me more anxious than feeling an employee-like shadow hovering over me. I know, I know, they're just doing their job. Still, I'm sensing a Lush trend because if I recall my NYC trip to Lush correctly, their employees are friendly, but way too up in your grill for my taste. Seriously. Back off. I will probably go back to that Lush to save on shipping, but for me running the gauntlet of salespeople and mentally girding my loins really detracts from my shopping experience.

They weren't totally useless though, they did give me samples, so I will be nice now.
Haul part deux!

Coconut deodorant body powder
Sakura bath bomb
Brazened Honey face mask
Alkmaar soap
Atomic Toothy Tabs
samples of Fresh Farmacy soap and Silky Underwear powder

One of the salespeople was observant enough to give me a relevant sample, the Silky Underwear powder, which has a lovely scent similar to the Alkmaar soap. She was good, as I like it more than the Coconut powder I bought and will definitely buy it next time. I am a little obsessive about feeling fresh and dry, so I use body powder a lot. Coconut is marketed as a deodorant powder, and I was under no delusion that I could use this powder as a deodorant replacement. Just to dust on after bathing. The scent is not really fresh coconut, or even dry coconut, but more musty coconut. It's usable and functional, but the Silky Underwear actually smells fantastic, so I will use the Coconut up, and then it's
bye-bye birdie.

The Atomic Toothy Tabs (this pack was also made by Ryan! It's a small world, after all) were much more palatable than the Dirty ones. These have a smell/taste akin to a very potent gingerbread cookie batter, heavy on clove and cinnamon. Quite pungent, but at least it tastes like something, whereas the Dirty tabs were baking soda death. Still a little odd and a departure from the usual toothpaste taste, but it works really well and is worth the initial surrealness.

I got my Fresh Face Mask in Brazened Honey, which smells like honey, and looks like something I probably could whip up in the kitchen given the time, inclination, and free access to the bulk section of the health food store. These must be refrigerated and have rather short shelf lives. Mine is around 3 weeks, and there is probably enough in the tub for 4-5 uses. I figure I go to this mall once every month or two, so that schedule should work out nicely for me.

So that's been my first real foray in Lush products, and I must say while the products are fun and at times functional, I do prefer my favorite indie brands for actual perfumes and most body products. I will keep getting some products from Lush, but some items are just way too expensive to really pique my interest. Also, some of more shelf-stable items contain parabens, which I am not an expert on nor am alarmist about, but I do *try* to avoid them just in case.

Have you tried anything from Lush? Anything you think I should try and/or avoid?

Thanks for reading!

Hello all! I am just now starting to feel human again, not 100% but better than I was, and not a moment too soon, as I turn 31 (gah!) tomorrow. And I certainly couldn't leave for Amish country without sharing my Birchbox!

I upgraded last month from being a monthly member to a yearly member. There were a few advantages to this. First, you pay $110.00 for a year, so you get a month free. Then, you also get 110 Birchbox points, whereas with a monthly sub you only get 10 upfront, and no more for subsequent months. Since I had a little extra cash from my tax refund, I am glad I put it towards something I was going to continue purchasing anyway, only I don't have to worry about that ten dollars coming out every month for a year.

Er, only I did.

Part of the impetus for upgrading was that I received a promotion email, offering me 100 additional Birchbox points, on top of the 110. So, a righteous deal. For some reason though the website would not let me upgrade online (some sort of technical glitch I can't really explain) so I called to do it, explained that I was upgrading to replace my monthly sub, that I was using the promotion code, blah, blah, blah. I got the bonus points fine, and the $110.00 was charged to my credit card, but then, first of the month comes, and what do I see? Yep, a monthly charge. Grrr. I emailed customer service and three days later I received an apology and an assurance that the charge would be reversed and the monthly sub properly cancelled. The monthly sub in my account profile now says closed, and the charge was indeed reversed, so all is right with the world.

One more little thing. Part of the promotion was that you would get a special "pink Birchbox" for upgrading. A pink Birchbox is not really all that different from regular boxes, there might be one extra product, oh, and it's pink. So I assumed I would be getting this box, which actually looked really good to me:
Photo from Birchbox site

So being sick for over a week made me a little grumpy and a bit bummed when I got this box instead:

"But, Liber Vix", you say, "that's a full size Tarte Lipsurgence Lip Tint you've got there, valued at $24.00 dollars alone." And to that I say, why, yes, you're right. I got over my initial disappointment quite quickly, because this little baby rocks!

This has been fan-bloody-tastic for my lips, and while it looks really orange (the shade name is Joy), it doesn't apply that way at all:

Yeah, that's me a few days ago, still sick and unable to wear my contacts or eye makeup. I got this shot in between hacking and coughing and feeling generally very icky. Boo hoo. But my lips look nice!

The Microdermamitt is also a full size product which costs $28.50. I'm an exfoliation nut so this will come in handy!

The Wonderstruck perfume...meh. It's pleasant, but like any number of perfumes I've smelled in the past, not incredibly unique or memorable. Very cutesy and sweet, a bit precious. I'm sort of a snob when it comes to celebrity perfumes. Unless I really love a person, I do not want to wear their name, in olfactory or any other fashion. I know that's a little silly, but whatever.

I know I've gotten Yu-Be samples in the past and usually just give them to G because I didn't really know it was. It seems to be a multipurpose face/body/lip cream, so I will give it another try.

The Marula oil is sort of like Argan oil, I've gathered. I've been using this for several days and I really like it. I've been on antibiotics, and one of the few positive side effects of taking them for me is that my skin clears up wonderfully, so I can't attribute it to the Marula oil definitively, but it feels nice, is not super greasy, and leaves my face feeling very soft and supple. It's pretty expensive, 78 dollars, but if I continue loving it I may save up some Birchbox points for it.

Which brings me to my final thought of the day, which is why I think Birchbox is a pretty good deal, even though every month may not be an absolute win.

I cashed in 600 Birchbox points and got this:

I've been wanting the Juice Beauty Apple Peel ever since I got it in my very first Birchbox, and the beautyblender is something that's super useful and works great but would make me twitchy to buy myself. So I ended up paying only $8.95 for the peel ($45.00) and the beautyblender travel set ($23.95).

The peel is going to last forever, too. I got a whole use out of what was just on the lid! This makes Birchbox totally worth it in my book.

So sorry for the lack of posts lately. Dealing with my parents, visiting my dad in the convalescent home, and all that stress caught up with me and now I am home sick with an upper respiratory infection and viral conjunctivitis (I don't know if that sounds better or worse than pink-eye.) Either way, feeling mighty low but hoping to be writing again soon. My birthday is next week and we are going away for it (Amish country again!) so I
must. get. better. Till then...much love to you all :)
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