Friday, 22 September 2017

Dokidoki Crate Review - September 2017

I was so excited to review my first DOKIDOKI crate. It should come as no surprise that I absolutely adore Japan (it is one of my absolute favourite places on Earth) and at least part of that has to do with the Japanese fascination and adoration of all things Kawaii!.

Japan Crate describes the crate as 'Your monthly care package of Kawaii'. I couldn't have put it better myself. This month focuses on Happy Homes and therefore has house related goods.

Price: $30 USD per month.
Note: As with most crates you save money depending on your length of subscription. However, in this particular instance you don't save much. If unsure I'd advise opting for the pay per month.

Shipping: Free Worldwide.

Includes: 7 Items.

What's Inside?

Every month DOKIDOKI crate comes with a full colour mini magazine which details the theme, the items and features a short manga and an abundance of kawaii. I definitely prefer when monthly loot crates go to this effort as I think it makes it all the more exciting month to month.

Hopi-chan Phone Hanger - $5
Every month you also receive a different, adorable Hopi-chan phone hanger. To go with the theme this month's comes with an attached abode. I currently have her on my house keys.

Kumamon Pitcher - $10
There were two separate Kumamon items included this month. A high quality, incredibly useful pitcher that will come in super handy as the weather heats up for iced teas and flavoured waters.

Kumamon Micro-fibre Clothes x 2 - $2
To continue the Kumamon theme we also received two micro-fibre clothes in blue and pink. I personally like these too much for dish cloths and will instead use them as face washes. A note on Kumamon: he's a much loved mascot created by Kumamoto Prefecture in an effort to boost tourism. Whether it worked or not I'm not sure but his success as a brand is one that is undeniable. In 2011 he was voted number one mascot in Japan.

Strawberry Diffuser - $2
To go with the pitcher the crate included a strawberry diffuser. It looked a little weak and flimsy to me but I used it to make strawberry nougat tea and had no issue.

Hello Kitty Toothbrush Holder - $2
There's also a Hello Kitty toothbrush holder. For me this was a brilliant inclusion as Josh and I store our toothbrushes in the shower and they often fall out of the bamboo caddy so this helps keep them in place and is also more hygienic.

Kiki's Delivery Service Toothbrush - $2
Last is the Kiki's Delivery Service toothbrush. I probably won't use it as it's more the kind made for children but I might put it away and keep it for when Aurora has teeth to clean.

VERDICT? Having lived in Japan I feel I have the inside scoop on this box - namely the vast majority of the items were likely sourced at Daiso (which, is where the generous pricing comes from). By my reckoning there's approximately $23 worth of merchandise (again, I think I'm being generous with that estimate). That said I still don't regret buying the DOKIDOKI crate and will continue to do so because I enjoy the elements of delightly kawaii surprise I receive from the crate. It's just important to recognise that the value isn't there if you're considering buying it for yourself.

To subscribe to DOKIDOKI crate click here.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

lookfantastic 'Birthday Bash' beauty box - September 2017

lookfantastic's beauty box is a monthly box of beauty goodies shipped worldwide from the UK.

"Each month you'll receive a box packed full of beauty products with a guaranteed worth of over £40 (approx. $65AUD). These products are carefully selected by our beauty team, and with YOU in mind! From cult classics to completely new brands you have not heard of before, you are sure to discover new beauty treats within our box." - lookfantastic website

Below is the review for September 2017's box, the Birthday Bash edit:

Price: $20.50-$25AUD monthly (depending on length of subscription)
Note: lookfantastic allows you to sign up for a 12 month subscription (saving you cash money) that you pay monthly, not in one lump sum.

Shipping: Free international shipping.

Products: 6 and a Lollypop (3 Mini and 3 Full Size).

What's inside?

Every month lookfantastic comes with a booklet, detailing the items and giving you a few little beauty tips and tricks for the coming season.

The box also comes with a mini Elle magazine (full warning: the magazine is about 70% ads, so don't expect the same magazine as what you'd typically buy).

Illamasqua Mini Contouring Gel Sculpt in Silhoutte - $20
To be honest I'm not really one for following trends and the whole contouring scene seems to me very much a come and go phenomenon. This kind of contouring provides a distinct hardening (which I find very ageing on most people) that does not go with my natural, soft make-up preference. Ignoring my biases I also think this product would benefit for being slightly smaller as, without using a brush, it provides a wide stroke that would not blend seamlessly on most faces. Probably my least favourite of all the products in this box. (See the unblended sample below)

Eve Lom Cleanser and Muslin Cloth 20ml - $20
I've cleansed, toned and moistorized since I was 15 and gone through numerous expensive and cheap items in all categories. At around $1 per mil this cleanser definitely fits into the expensive range. It's not bad. However, in my opinion (and this it through years of testing) when it comes to cleansers cheap is normally just as good. Great for a nightly treat while it's lasts but I wouldn't buy it.

Decleor Hydra Floral Anti-Pollution Hydrating Gel Cream 15ml - $17
This has a really strong scent I associate with chemical packed face creams. That said, I've been using it around my décolletage area (which is generally a little dry) and it has instantly looked and felt more hydrated and toned. If you can get past the smell it certainly is a great hydration boost.

Hikari Full Size Eye Shadow in Tonya - $20
Lookfantastic Unicorn Eye Shadow Brush - $5
A great everyday palatte that adds a natural glow to any and every look. Vamp up or lighten depending on the situation and setting. It comes with a unicorn shadow brush which is useful for broad strokes but not smaller more intricate shadowy looks. (See sample of the palette below.)

Holly's Lolly's - Elderflower Flavour - $5
This was quite a sweet and delicious treat both myself and Josh shared to celebrate life (and, of course, lookfantastic's birthday!)

Sculping Gel & Eye shadow Palette

Soft look with the Hikari Palette and Contouring Gel

By my reasoning $20.50 this month has bought me approximately $87 worth of product, which translate to wonderful value for money. I might not have loved the sculpting gel or the cleanser but I enjoyed sampling everything and the rest of the products are all ones I'd gladly add to my beauty regime. lookfantastic is a wonderful subscription box and one I'm looking forward to receiving and reviewing in the coming months.

Click here to give it a go for yourself.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Lookfantastic x bareMinerals Collaberation Beauty Box - September 2017

Recently I decided to subscribe to lookfantastic's beauty box and, while doing so, popped their Limited Edition bareMinerals Box in my basket as well. Below is my review.

Price: £35.00.

Products: 3 Full Size. 3 Mini.

One of the main supposed benefits of the bareMinerals brand is that fact that apparently by using all natural mineral ingredients in your daily make-up routine you are actually improving your skin over time. In the provided booklet, though not exactly recommended, it's suggested that overnight wear will potentially lead to a brighter complexion (or, at the very least, have no adverse effects). I tested this theory, leaving a full face of make up on overnight. The results? When I woke I still maintained a no make-up, barely-there clear and bright look. Furthermore I've had quite rashy, red skin recently (a combination of hormones and a cold I'm currently battling) and, surprisingly enough, after cleansing my skin was clearer and brighter than previously.

Complexion Rescue
I personally didn't love the coverage of this product. I've several BB and CC creams in my make-up arsenal (mostly from Japan and Korea) and this gave a quite thick matte finish that you don't get with a lot of other products. I couldn't wear this alone and that's what I like about CC and BB creams. However, as a primer it did a great job.

Always a fan of pills and potions guaranteed to help your skin. So far this serum does seem to have helped calm the aforementioned redness and puffiness. I'll continue using and (hopefully) continue to see result.

All Over Face Colour - Soft Romance
This is an interesting product. Initially I was somewhat frightened by it and it's bright red tone, fearing an inevitable reddening (precisely the thing I was trying to avoid). I was surprised how it merely added warmth to the face, providing a healthy sun-kissed look, rather than a red one. A great product.

Original SPF25 Mineral Veil
This was my absolutely favourite product of the bundle! It gives a lovely finishing touch to the whole face. I think I will add it to my daily routine as I loved the polish it provided.

Mini Smoothing Face Brush
This is a great mini brush that's very effective at created a seamless powdered look. Will throw into my mini cosmetics case for easy weekends away.

Lash Domination Volumizing Mascara Petite Precision Brush
Not the best mascara I've ever used. I did find it a tad clumpy, likely due to the precision brush. What you got in curl, you lost in definition. Does seem to have good staying power though.

Overall I was very impressed with the bareMinerals box. Unfortunately it's no longer available at lookfantastic as it's was, in my opinion, definitely worth the money.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Skoshbox Review - September 2017 (Japanese Snack Subscription)

Skoshbox September 2017

Is it just me or do you other netizens do online window shopping? I've spent many a restless night/morning/arvo/anytime-really filling my online basket with needs/wants only to balk at the price, remember the past harsh sting of midnight buyers remorse and click x (only to come back and do it again next week).

It is through this method of the imaginary mega-shop I stumbled across my very first Subscription Box purchase (a post-baby gift for both myself and Josh to share ((which btw is something I recommend to all mothers after delivering a child))).

SkoshBox by Tokyo Otaku Mode (an online anime and Japanese goods retailer) is a monthly cornucopia of tasty, weird and wonderful goodies from Japan.

"Skoshbox is the only monthly box backed by Japanese snack companies. That means exclusive collaboration boxes and first-look items just for our members. Our boxes contain an exciting mix of new trendy items, DIY Kits, traditional favorites, and wacky flavors." - TOM's Official Description

Below is a face-value look at the delicious delights of the September 2017 box, along with tasting notes.

>Price: From $12USD - $35USD per month.

Skoshbox offers three sizes: SkoshBox (6-8 Snacks), Dekabox (10-12 Snacks & 1 Mystery Item) and Megabox (13-15 Snacks and 2 Mystery Items). Because I'm sharing, a huge fan of Japanese snacks and have chosen this as my go-to-post-baby-weight-loss-Mum-cheat I opted to subscribe to the Megabox.

First time subscribers also receive 50% cash back in Tom Points (which can be used on most items in store). Considering the plethora of brilliant Japanese goods available (including figures, plush toys, clothing, home goods and more) this is a welcome bonus.

Shipping: Free Worldwide Shipping.

My first box was shipped 15th August and I received it on the 1st of September. SkoshBox estimates 2-4 weeks time-frame for delivery, depending on location. It is worth noting the goods from the store are considerably swifter; I've made several orders and received them all within the week.

What's inside?!

I know in the past SkoshBox has included a booklet with in-depth information on the snacks along with interesting tidbits about Japan. This month, however, they've opted to go digital with a flyer redirecting you to a link with a list of the snacks and their ingredients. To be honest I was super disappointed with this as I would much prefer the booklet as a memento. I've sent them that exact feedback which, hopefully, they take on board (I imagine others feel the same).

Horn Orange & Cocoa
A soft chocolate wafer exterior with a chewy orange centre. I'm not a fan of the chocolate/orange combo and this features a particularly striking and distinctively tangy orange taste. Hubby, on the other hand, adored it. One of the benefits of this snack is that (like many other Japanese candies, including many of those I received) the bite sized portions (8 in total) come individually wrapped to seal in the freshness for multiple snacking sessions.

Kara Edamame: Edamame Flavour
The first thing that immediately strikes you with these crisp crouton like sticks is the prevalent edamame smell: like concentrated edamame sifting up to tease your palate. Unsurprisingly the taste is just as intense as the scent. Again, hubby loved them. I'm still not sure how I feel, they're a weird snack (kinda like eating a stock cube as far as boldness of flavour is concerned).

Seibutsu Zukan Sea Creature Gummies
These are bad! They come in three flavours (mandarin, cola and soda) and each are equally horrid. They have the sickly taste of chemical cough syrup and the consistency of an old shoe. I literally had to peel them from their container (like that sticky, gummy plastic they sometimes have in packaging). They do come with a trading card featuring a particularly gruesome looking fellow so that's a plus... I guess. Honestly I've no idea who'd buy these. These can really only be appreciated for their sheer only-in-Japan uniqueness.

Mille Feuille Bar
So yummy! This was a crisp and fresh multi layer wafer with vanilla resting in between the layers and a chocolate coating. My only complaint is that there wasn't more of it.

Koala's March w/Yoshimoto Gainin Koala 2
These tiny little teddies, complete with adorable (sometimes grumpy) expressions are delicious bite-sized morsels. If you're familiar with a hot honey lemon, the taste is almost identical in biscuit form (and cold). A delicious and refreshing treat.

Hinyari Dango
This was a particularly sweet mochi. In my experience they can be quite tasteless but the icing sugar topping made for a tasty, chewy treat. I enjoy the consistency. Hubby liked them too. Thumbs up.

Choco An-Pan
I'm a huge fan of a fresh red bean an-pan but this delivered what I feared; a stale biscuit with an underwhelming chocolate centre.

Spice Cheese: Chilli Pepper Flavour
Hubby and me were in conflict over these: personally I loved them, he was indifferent. They have a delicious cheesy flavour and a nice crunchy consistency. I think mostly he was disappointed that, despite their claim, they are really sans spice.

Cheese Kaki No Tane
These had an overpowering cheese stench (I use that word intentionally as I found it entirely unpleasant). The taste matches the smell: an overpowering cheese that I personally found very off-putting. Hubby offered to devour the rest but found the more you ate the less pleasant they become.

Satsumaimo Caramel
The trip from Japan to Oz obviously gave these treats a little heartache as they were practically vacuum sealed in their plastic wrappers and it was a bit of a nightmare getting it all off (I'm assuming they're not usually like that). The payout for the effort involved was entirely Meh! They had a very vague caramel taste and could more truthfully be described as mediocre tasteless blobs.

Ajiwai Puccho Shirokuma
These are chewy fruity morsels with a fizzy powder centre. Again, the taste is quite overpowering and not great but also not terrible.

Puchi Sauce Yakisoba Senbei Crackers
This was hubby's favourite and I also really enjoyed it. Tiny savoury wafers with a lovely savoury BBQ like taste. The more you eat the more they actually remind you of yakisoba. Definitely one of the stand out items.

Fit's Energy Drink
This is a pretty standard fruity gum. The flavour runs out quite swiftly but it's enjoyable enough (if a tad chemically) while it lasts.

Kyo-Machi Saryo
These taste like strawberry, matcha and soy flavoured cake, in hard candy form. Interesting, light and quite varying as far as taste is concerned.

Puchi Mari Kawaii Wagashi
We received the Sakura leaf Mochi: a cute little snack themed bean bag accessory. I think I'll add him to a cross body bag to add a little Japanese flair. A welcome addition that goes with the snack box theme.

Neko No Hitai Sticky Note
Who doesn't like something cat themed - certainly not me, Remy and Rupert can attest to that. So I'll add these cute kitty sticky notes to my rotating stationary collection. Though with limited writing space I'll have to keep it brief.

Mystery Items!
Mametaro Plush
I adore this charming, bandana-wearing Shiba Inu. Aurora will likely enjoy him as well and I've added him to our ever growing collection of family plushies. I was somewhat disappointed however to receive on the one mystery item, despite promises of two.

The Verdict!

I found myself a little disappointed with my very first SkoshBox. For starters I wish they hadn't opted to scrap the informative booklet in lieu of a very basic online list. I was also let down by the fact that, despite promises otherwise, I only received one mystery item (cute though he may be). Furthermore having lived in Japan (and knowing first hand the ridiculously inexpensive price of most things snack related) the Megabox at $35USD a month (that's approximately $44 for us Australians) or approximately $2.20 per snack isn't good value for money. A lot of these snacks are on the cheaper end of the scale and the tastes reflect this. That said I can't pretend I didn't enjoy the experience of the treats on offer (good, bad and in between). Perhaps next month will have better offerings.

I'm also expecting this months' Japan Crate so we'll see how it compares. After discussion with Josh I've also signed on to Snakku (one of the more refined Japanese snack options) in the hopes of less artificial and (hopefully) more flavourful goods on offer.

Want to try Skoshbox for yourself? Sign up here!