Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Things People Didn't Tell Me About The Xbox One.

Introducing the all new, Xbox One.  The One that does it all.  In my opinion, it has the potential to do it all, but sadly, it just isn't there yet.

image via Xbox.com

I actually waited several weeks to run out and buy my newest gaming console, the Xbox One.  Why?  My gaming friend Jason (Gamertag: Jasonincbus) and I made a deal: neither of us would give in and buy one until the other decided to do so.

Anyway, he gave in first due to some gift cards he received and who am I to go back on a deal? 

So check it out, the following are things no one was trying to mention when I asked people to give me the pros and cons of the Xbox One (and believe me, I asked quite a few people).  All I heard were things like, "It so great, Ang!", "It's the best thing like everrrr!" and "You have to get one!"

These are the things that struck me as foul right off the bat:

No voice messages.  That's right, the Xbox One does not allow you to send voice messages to your friends.  You will, however be notified of incoming voice messages from the land of your Xbox 360 friends, but you will not be able to listen to them unless you bust out your 360 and sign into your account on there.  Can anyone say, DUMB?!

No Bluetooth support.  Yep.  You read that right.  No. Bluetooth. Support.  So, this means you can say goodbye to your expensive $300+ headsets.  Oh, wait.  They are releasing an adapter sometime during the "first quarter" of the year.  Do real-life gamers even test these consoles out prior to the launch?  Get it together, Microsoft!

No way to view or modify your hard drive capacity.  Literally, there is no way to view your current storage situation.  Like what happens when I want to delete a game?  Oh, never mind there are less than a handful of available games and almost all of them are right around 40GB to install.  5x40=200.  We are good!  (insert sarcastic undertones here).  What the Efff?!
 
This brings me to my next complaint:

You MUST install your games to your hard drive.  It is no longer an option to do so, the Xbox One now insists you install to the hard drive in order to play the game.  Gone are the days of going to your friend's house and popping in a game and just playing it.  Gone!  What about the non-tech savvy parents out there?  You pay $500 for a console and your kids want to be able to play a game on it, right?  RIGHT!?

The games take upwards of 30 minutes to install.  Mine took 56 minutes on average per game.  I bought (3) games in total, so needless to say I spent most of the night installing games to the hard drive.  Fair to note:  many people report around 30 minutes to install games, I happen to have a defective device (more on that in a minute).

Apps.  One of the selling features of the Xbox One was the fact it can play my Blu-ray discs.  I mean, dang I can now retire my PS3, right?  Yeah, I sure can AFTER I download an app.  For real.  You are required to download an app in order to play a movie via your Xbox One.  This does not come pre-installed.

Oh and let's not forget about listening to music.  Did you get the app?  If not, forget about it.  MP3 files on your disc?  Forget about those, too.  MP3 files are not supported on the Xbox One.

On the plus side, I was able to download Netflix, HuluPlus and Amazon Instant Video with ease.  If you want HBO Go, you better just watch it on your Smart TV, your iPad, or maybe even your phone, because the Xbox One, does not offer an app for it.

Watching Television.  I have to say the ability to hook up your cable or satellite box to the Xbox one is pretty nifty, but what about for those times when you don't want to have to turn the Xbox One on?  I mean, come on - my almost 60 year-old mom does not want to turn on a gaming console in order to watch reruns of Friends or Murder She Wrote.  Come on now.  Without having to purchase a splitter of some sort, there should be a way for us to still watch TV the old fashioned way, if and when the need arises.  Because, believe me - the need will arise.

Followers.  You will no longer receive friend request alerts (which is handy for just saying "NO!" to the Xbox stalkers out there).  Girls: you know what I am talking about.  You will, however, soon see your list of "followers" growing.  These so-called followers are people who have recently added you as a friend.  Wait.  Say Whatttt?  You may be thinking..."No way Ang, people can't add me unless I approve them first..."  Say goodbye to those days, my friends.  But, guess what?  To add a friend, all you need to do is "follow" them back.  Pretty simple, right?  Oh my bad!  I forgot to mention you will now see every single thing the people you follow (aka add as friends) do via a handy thing known as the Feed.  That said, the Feed will tell all of your stalkers every single thing there is to know about you.  Did you just watch Prison Break via Netflix?  Yup.  Are you playing Forza?!  Well, by golly you sure are, because I can see it in my Feed!  Everything any creeper ever wanted or needed to know about you in regard to your Xbox One is right there for their viewing aka reading pleasure.  The Xbox One...The One That Tells It All.

The following is just something I find annoying, even though I did know about it prior to my purchase.  I only have myself to blame re this one.

No backwards compatibility.  I mean like not even for previously purchased digital games via the XBL Arcade.  Come on guys.  If you can make COD Ghosts, BF4 and even Lego Marvel work, you can let us have access to our digital content.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for technology.  Hello, my name is CPU22GIRL for a reason.  (That's Computer-22-Girl for the slower folks out there).  But this Xbox One is not even close to being ready for the masses.  It really isn't.  But, guess what?  Just like the same crappy games with their same crappy servers and lack of support we have ALL been complaining about for years - we will continue to buy it.  If we will buy it, they will make it.

The bottom line is this:  The games (or lack thereof) pretty much suck, the console itself needs some serious revamping in order to live up to its true potential and overall there is no way knowing what I know now, I would ever recommend purchasing this console in its current state.  To anyone.  Like ever.

I truly had a list much longer than this, but for some odd reason I can't find the note I typed to myself via my Galaxy Nexus.  So, this is all from the top of my head, kids.

Oh yes, regarding my defective console - I will say this.  Microsoft was on point when I contacted them because my brand new, 5 day old console decided it no longer wanted to read discs.  I mean, come on!  I had already inserted 3 different discs into the console.  That is a lot, guys! (insert sarcasm (again) here).  They offered me something they are calling an "Advance Exchange Order" in lieu of me having to wait to get my console repaired.  Pretty much what that means is I had to provide my credit card info, Microsoft then placed a $500 "hold" on my card and is in the process of shipping me a brand new console.  In return I am to ship back the defective one using the box the new one arrives in.  Not too shabby, and if the old-school Red Rings of Death (RROD) situation was anything to learn from, it seems they have learned a thing or two about customer service.

Another thing worth mentioning is pretty much ALL of the above could be fixed via a system update.  I mean, really, why can't we send voice messages?

Last, but not least are the things I really like about the console:

A stand-out plus of the console is the voice chat is very true to life.  It literally sounds like you are on the phone with someone.  Very clear and concise.  So much so, you can hear other people breathing.  Like a lot.  Just saying.

The speed of this thing is pretty awesome, as well.  Everything moves super quick.

The Kinect is amazing.  It recognizes you when you walk in front of it and you have the option of enabling auto-log in.  I have to say: This is pretty cool.  The voice recognition is pretty nice, too.  It really does listen to what you say.

The "Xbox Record That" feature is one of the neatest added features I have seen.  Did you just blow someone up with a grenade launcher?  Well, tell your Xbox to "Record That!" and it will.  You can share the video with all of your friends later.

I will update this list as things change, but for now, I am out.  Happy Gaming!

01/09/2014 Update: I was browsing the xbox.com website and came across the following: 


Uninstall Xbox One content
If you need to make room for a new game, or if you want to uninstall a title that you don’t use anymore, you can do it from My games and apps. Here’s how:

  1. Start from Home (press the Xbox button on your controller to go Home).
  2. Go to My games and apps.
  3. Highlight the content that you want to uninstall.
  4. Press the Menu button on your controller.
  5. Select Uninstall.
This sure helps!  I checked it out and it even tells you how much space the game/app is taking up.  However, there still is not a way to view any type of summary/overview re how much space has been used

Friday, September 13, 2013

Everyone Should Have Their Own Robot

Green iRobot Logo via iRobot

I Heart iRobot.  For realsies.  This is a post I intended to write a long time ago.  I am a HUGE fan of iRobot.  I own both the Roomba and Scooba models and can not say enough good things about them.  Anyone who comes to my house gets introduced to them at some point.  Often, I refer to them as my kids.  Their names are Claire and Sam.  As in, Claire Redfield & Sam Fisher.  If they ever (who am I kidding?!) When they have a baby robot, she will be named Lara Croft.  Don't hate.  I have a photo album dedicated to my robots on facebook.  Seriously.

Had I known they would one day become celebrities, I would have taken better pictures when they were first born.  I regret to say I never took pictures of Claire (the Scooba aka the mop), when she first came to live with us.  But, when her boyfriend Sam moved in, it was so on.  I understood the power of the robot by then.

A Little History.
Meet Claire.  She was born in January, 2010.  I found her online.  At the time, it was the only way she could be had.  I ordered her directly from iRobot.  I paid $599 with free shipping.  OUCH.  But, I would do it again.  In an instant.  Even if it meant blowing the dust off of my American Express.

Claire aka iRobot Scooba 380, cleaning our floors.

Claire is an extremely hard worker.  She even cleans our guest house.

Claire, age 2

It wasn't long before I decided Claire needed a boyfriend.
Meet Sam.  Born April 27th, 2012.

Sam Fisher aka iRobot Roomba 560
I purchased Sam from Bed, Bath & Beyond.  I utilized a 20% off coupon and a free upgrade kit with purchase.  I paid just under $400.

Don't doubt the cleaning power of the Roomba. This is after 3 cleaning cycles of all rooms. Our floors are super clean, too. We never, ever wear shoes indoors.

Gross, eh?

 Sam even cleans under the table and between the chairs.

I love this little guy.  Our cat, not so much.

The Nitty, Gritty Details.
Both units are low maintenance and easy to use.  Because it uses water, the Scooba requires a bit more maintenance (aka cleaning) to keep it working efficiently.  It is all really easy, though.  The Roomba picks up the grossest stuff you don't even know is in your house.  It cleans under the beds and in closets.  You can even schedule your Roomba to turn on automatically every day of the week!  Need I say more?

Some people may think they are too loud.  In my opinion, the noise level is the equivalent of a blow dryer on the low setting.  It does not bother me at all.  Better than having to bust out the Shark Steam Mop or Dyson (my other mop and vacuum power couple of choice).

The Roomba with an upgraded bin kit works great.  We have a Husky dog and a Siamese kitty and there is not a speck hair on my tile after these robots have done their daily chores.  If you are wondering how the animals like the robots - they have never bothered the dog and with our cat, it was touch and go at first, but now he doesn't even move when the robots come near him.  Like as in, he stays asleep.

In October of 2012, I had to replace Claire's battery pack.  This cost me $69.70, including shipping.  Again, I ordered directly from iRobot.  I have not had a problem since.

Do you have access to a Bed, Bath & Beyond?  If so, utilize their 20% off coupon and call it a day.  They have the best return policy, hands-down.  Especially, if let's say, the robot eats a few Nerf bullets and never sounds the same again.  BOOM!  Return and get a new one.  You will be right around the $300-400 mark with the upgrade and the one with scheduling.   No need to get all cray-cray and buy the remote...now that's just LAZY!

So, what are you waiting for?  Step up your robot game, today.  Your floors and your white socks will thank you.  This has been a public service announcement to dirty floors everywhere.

Disclaimer:  If you think I am alone in my Robot fandom, think again!  People everywhere name their robots and even let their kids ride on them! (Not recommended by iRobot).  Yes, I really refer to them by their names.  You can ask anyone who knows me.  Also, at some point, I would love to own my very own iRobot pool cleaning and gutter cleaning robots, too.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tutorial: How to Embed MP3 Audio Files in Weebly for Free.

**UPDATE:  A couple of days after I posted the following information, my audio players would not show up on my published page anymore!  They show up within the site editor, but not when I publish.  In the mean time, I am searching for a workaround...please comment below with a link to the information if any of you are able to find one.  Thanks!**
 
So, check it out.  If you are a Weebly user and are like me (on a budget), you probably use the FREE version of Weebly.  Yes?  I have been using Weebly since the whole Microsoft debacle and couldn't be happier.  Well, maybe a little.  Earlier this year (on my birthday, no less), along with some major price increases (you can read about those: here) Weebly rolled out some really cool features for the Weebly "Pro"users.  At the time, I saw no need for them.

Fast forward to September of 2013 and me offering my exceptional web design services (see: free) to my sister, and low and behold, mama needed some of those aforementioned Pro features that only the paid users of Weebly had access to.  My sister is a Voice Actor and she has a crap load of audio demo clips that need to be uploaded on to her site, so you can understand why I needed the ability to add audio.  For free.

Now, I can usually call upon my good friend, Google and find pretty much anything online.  Flexible footer workaround?  No problem.  Customized favicon? Check.  However, when you Google: "How to embed MP3 Audio Files in Weebly" some weird and totally non-helpful links appear.  So-called "free accounts", "trial accounts", etc.  The bottom line was I did not want to sign up for anything.  The following is a workaround on how to embed mp3 audio files into Weebly without being a paid Weebly Pro user.  Thank me later.  I mean, like if it works.

How to Embed a Quicktime Audio Player into the Free Version of Weebly

First off, I have a couple of sources to site.
I found the original code for the audio player on Design Shack, however, they cited their source as: O'Reilly Media.  The people at O'Reilly go into a lot more detail as to the why's and the how's.  Great for geekazoids like myself; everyone else: not so much.

That being said, I will try and make these step-by-step directions as easy as possible.  I mean, one could assume if you are down to alter some HTML/CSS code, you know your way around a computer.  Just in case, this will be easy peasy.

1.  Open Notepad (or something you can copy and paste into)
2.  Copy and Paste the following code into Notepad

<object height="42" width="300">
<param name="src" value="LINKHERE">
<param name="autoplay" value="false">
<param name="controller" value="true">
<param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF">
<embed src="LINKHERE" autostart="false" loop="false" controller="true" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" height="42" width="300">
</object>

3.  Log into your Weebly account and launch the site editor
4.  Click on the "Design" tab
5.  Click "Edit HTML / CSS"
6.  Under "Files", click "Add new file(s)"
7.  Locate and Select the mp3 file you want to upload
Tip: if you have multiple files you want to add, hold "ctrl" down while selecting each one and you can upload them all at once.

Wait for the upload to finish and once it is done uploading, select the file by clicking on the file name.  Notice the name is probably something long from whatever the original file was called.  You may need to rename the file if it is super long, has spaces or punctuation.  For ease of use, I renamed all of the files I was working with.  If you need to rename the file click on the "Edit File Name" pencil icon and change the name to something much smaller.

For reference, my mp3 file name was: Culvers.mp3

This is the part where I had to get creative.  I needed to find out the exact file location name of my mp3 file in order to embed it into the code for the audio player.

This is what worked for me:
  1. Under the "Files" section, click on any image
  2. Right click on the actual image itself and select copy image location
  3. Go to your Notepad and paste what you just copied.  This is what showed up for me: http://www.weebly.com/uploads/1/2/9/1/12916600/custom_themes/220457269242630165/files/banner-short.jpg?1378966562195
  4. Now highlight everything after "files/" and delete it.  Remember, delete only the point after the /
  5. You will end up with something that looks like this: http://www.weebly.com/uploads/1/2/9/1/12916600/custom_themes/220457269242630165/files/ 
  6. Go back and Copy the entire name of your uploaded mp3 file
  7. Next, Paste it exactly where you deleted the previous text, be careful you do not erase any of the text you left there
  8. This is what my new url looked like after pasting my mp3 file name on the end of it: http://www.weebly.com/uploads/1/2/9/1/12916600/custom_themes/220457269242630165/files/Culvers.mp3
  9. Finally, select the entire thing and Copy it
  10. Hit Save in the site editor
The hard part is over, I promise.
  1. Go back to the first snippet of code you pasted in Notepad
  2. Select the first LINKHERE portion of text (be sure to leave the two quotation marks)
  3. Paste what you just copied in BETWEEN the quotation marks
  4. Select the second LINKHERE portion of text (again, leave the quotation marks)
  5. Paste the file name again
BEFORE:
<object height="42" width="300">
<param name="src" value="LINKHERE">
<param name="autoplay" value="false">
<param name="controller" value="true">
<param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF">
<embed src="LINKHERE" autostart="false" loop="false" controller="true" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" height="42" width="300">
</object>

AFTER:
<object height="42" width="300">
<param name="src" value="http://www.weebly.com/uploads/1/2/9/1/12916600/custom_themes/220457269242630165/files/Culvers.mp3">
<param name="autoplay" value="false">
<param name="controller" value="true">
<param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF">
<embed src="http://www.weebly.com/uploads/1/2/9/1/12916600/custom_themes/220457269242630165/files/Culvers.mp3" autostart="false" loop="false" controller="true" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" height="42" width="300">

At this point, you can adjust other settings like height, width, auto play/start, color and loop to your liking.  I left my settings alone.
  1. Copy the entire code you just edited
  2. Select, "Build"
  3. Scroll down to the "More" section and select, "Embed Code"
  4. Drop the embed code where you want the audio player to appear on your site
  5. Click on the "Click to set custom HTML" 
  6. Paste your new code into the box
Voila!  You are done, my friend.  Now Publish your site and test out your new, free embedded audio player.  Mine took a few seconds to load, but it happens automatically while your page is loading.  For free, I am not going to complain!

This is a partial screenshot of what my sister's page looked like when I was done adding all of her voice over demos:



Fair to say, I tested it out on the Firefox, Google and Chrome browsers.  Chrome was the only one that gave me issues.  I am thinking it could have something to do with Weebly's announcement last week regarding the new Weebly dashboard for Chrome.

Does it look as nice as the one available in-house with a paid Weebly Pro subscription?  Nope.  What you get is a simple and basic player.  Nothing fancy.  No title or clip length information like the one Weebly offers.  Would it be easier to just pay for the Weebly Pro service?  Probably.  Am I going to?  Not yet.  I am, however, kind of kicking myself for missing the whole grandfathering into the previous price point situation.  Also, I read through Weebly's TOS agreement and could not find anything saying this is not allowed.  However, I urge you to read it for yourself and use this code at your own risk.

I hope this tutorial helps you guys.  Please leave a comment and let me know if you try this and it works, or if it gives you any problems.  If you have a better workaround, please post the link so we can all check it out.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Liebster Award (is what exactly)?

liebster-award
photo via Photo Science Channel
Today I received a notification that I had been nominated for something called a "Liebster Award".  Say whaatt?  No really, what is a Liebster award?  I had no idea.  So, I asked my two most trusted friends, who always give me great answers, Google and wiki.

Upon further research regarding the origins of the Liebster Award, I only became more confused.  It is like the game of Blog Telephone.  Some people say in its original form, it was a chain letter, while others say the original rules were much different than those being used today.

Basically, a Liebster Award is:
A Blog Award

"A blog award is an award for the best blog in a given category. Some blog awards are based on a public vote and others are based on a fixed set of criteria applied by a panel of judges.

Like film or television awarding committees, blog awards are started by a certain body, usually composed of blog enthusiasts. Since blogging is an Internet activity, most of the process is done online.

Nominees are usually accepted from anyone in the Internet as long as the one who nominates adhere to given policies and procedures. The nominated websites, varying from independent servers to provider hosted are scanned by a selected team of judges.
The filtered nominees are then announced online or by other means such as newspaper or radio stations. Other bloggers or Internet users are given the opportunity to vote for several categories such as Best Single Post, Best Blog Site, Best Design, and others. The winners are announced in a ceremonial night usually held in large venues and online.
There are also blog awards initiated by small groups of bloggers in certain locations. The nomination and selection process is usually the same with major awarding bodies but the awarding is usually less extravagant." 

Uhm, OK...thanks?  I guess this is pretty cool.  Right?  Regardless, this "Liebster Award" comes with some stipulations.  As in some things I need to do to pay it forward, so to speak.  So, here we go...

To make things easy, I am basing my response on the directions found on the blog of the person who nominated me:  Always Blabbing

The Rules:
  1. You must link back to the person that nominated you.  Check.
  2. You must answer the 11 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you.
  3. You must pick 11 bloggers to be nominated for the award with under 200 followers.
  4. You must come up with 11 questions for you nominees to answer.
  5. You must go to their blogs and notify your nominees.
The questions I was given (in purple font, mind you):

1. Eyeliner gel or pencil?  Pencil.
2. Favorite nail polish.  Essie.
3. Dream vacation destination?  Anywhere I can snorkel.
4. Sandals or boots?  Havaianas all day.
5. Favorite Season?  I live in California, need I say more?
6. Favorite Holiday?  Summer Vacation.  Be quiet, it is a holiday for me.
7. Colored mascara yay or nay?  Definitely not.
8. Do you have animals?  Unfortunately.  I say that because while I love our fur balls, I have become allergic.  The dog resides outdoors, so she is ok.  The cat, however, is about to kick rocks.
9. One make up product you can't live without: Only one?  Lip balm with SPF.
10.  Favorite Movie?  I see what you are trying to do:  If I were to answer this, you would be able to hack every single account in my name.  My second favorite movie, The Count of Monte Cristo.
11. Favorite Food?  Healthy: Grilled Veggies.  Not so healthy:  My MIL's Tacos.  They.  Are.  The.  Bomb.

My 11 Nominees:

Seriously?  This is going to be the most difficult one.  I am THE ONLY PERSON with a blog who I know who has less than 200 followers.  Hmmm.  Okay, here goes.  Never mind it's not going to work.  Instead, I am listing my top 11 blogs I read the mostWhat?  This is blog telephone, remember?  Everyone else has altered the rules, so I am going to, too.  I will even go one step further and give a description as to WHY I heart these blogs so much.
  1. Pretties & Posies I LOVE her white furniture.  Seriously, I am addicted to all things white.  Also, her pictures are gorgeous.  Go check them out.
  2. Dreamy Whites This is the blog that inspired to me to take the plunge and purchase my white sofa.  A year later, I can not complain.  Much.
  3. Thrifty Decor Chick I do not thing there is anything this "chick" can't do  She is like AMAZING.  Also, her house is gorgeous.
  4. The Design Junkie I first met Chrissa back in our MySpace days (don't judge us) and instantly fell in love with her writing style.  Fast forward many years later, and we are still friends (like in the Internet sense of the word, but whatevas).  I absolutely adore her style, her heart and she makes like awesome things.  Just go read her blog already.  PS.  She also has a white couch.  So there.
  5. The House of Smiths This family has got to be fake.  (I kid.)  I mean, their house is perfect, their kids look perfect and their blog is filled with all things fabulous.
  6. Cozy. Cottage. Cute.  The name says enough.  Super cute site.
  7. One Good Thing by Jillee  I want her to be related to me.  She makes her own LAUNDRY SOAP!  Seriously though, I used her recipe on how to clean my expensive pillows and make them bright white again.  It worked and she is awesome.
  8. IHeart Organizing  This is the site any busy mom needs to subscribe to.  She has awesome ideas and I love her blog theme.  It is so pretty.
  9. Trippin with Stanley  I stumbled upon this blog while researching RV design ideas.  (You can read that post here.)  These people made their home on wheels so cute and even gave him a name.  They blog all about their adventures.  Fun!
  10. Romantiska Hem  Since we are on the topic of RV's, this is the most chic one I have ever seen.  So beautiful, you won't even mind that the entire site is in German (?).
  11. Vena The Great  Last, but definitely not least ~ this woman is amazing in all things hair, design, photos and even soap making.  Plus, she is super pretty on the inside and out!

My 11 Questions for the blogs I nominated:
  1. How do we know each other?
  2. Kindle: yay or nay?
  3. If finances did not play a factor, where would you live?
  4. List one goal you want to accomplish in the near future.
  5. What do you want to be doing in five years?
  6. Ten?
  7. Who inspires you most?
  8. What is your biggest pet peeve?
  9. If you could do any one thing, right now, what would it be?
  10. How many subscribers and/or followers does your blog currently have?
  11. Since this award was originally intended to help bloggers increase their following - in your opinion, what is the single best piece of advice you would give to a person just starting out?
Now I have to notify all of these people....Good Lord
The end.  Carry on minions.  :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Julep Maven August "Classic with a Twist" Box


Julep's August Quote of the Month
Last month I became a Julep Maven by joining Julep's nail polish subscription service.  (You can read all about that here).  Since then, I have yet to be disappointed.  Around the 20th of July, I received an email notifying me the upcoming August Maven boxes were available for preview.  I logged into my Julep account and I have to admit - it was a hard decision to pick only one box.  I almost splurged and upgraded my order to the entire "Garden Party Collection".  Since I had purchased Julep's "Summertime Mystery Box" earlier in July, I just couldn't justify spending more money on polish so soon.  I chose the "August Classic with a Twist" box.  That is my style, after all.  Oh, I also added a couple of add-ons to my order.  I mean, who can resist?!



Fast forward to August 1st.  This arrived in my mailbox:


Yes, the mailman actually crammed the entire box into my mailbox and I almost broke a nail trying to pry it out of there!

Close up view of August Maven Box

One thing I must mention is Julep always has the nicest packaging.  They really go all out on making the most of their monthly themes.  My polishes arrived bubble wrapped in tissue paper with a cute ribbon.  (I opened the packaging before I thought to take a picture).  Also, everything is matchy-matchy, which I adore.

August Classic with a Twist Polishes with Add-Ons

Julep August Classic with a Twist Box Breakdown:

The descriptions for each product come directly from Julep's website.
  • Sylvia - Classic with a Twist: Lilac purple crème
  • Veronica - Classic with a Twist: Modern mauve crème
  • Doublestep Foot Treatment and Friction Stick: This no-mess shea butter treatment nourishes and moisturizes feet, stimulates circulation, and prevents blisters.
  • Features & Benefits:
  • Invisible formula creates a barrier between feet and shoes to protect against blisters
  • Shea butter provides immediate and long-lasting hydration
  • Chili pepper oil invigorates skin and stimulates circulation
  • Vitamin E nourishes rough, dry foot skin
  • No parabens, sulfates, or phthalates
  • A packet of Forget Me Not seeds to plant in my garden

My Add-Ons:
  • Bea - Bombshell:  Lemonade crème
  • The Champagne Trio - A limited edition trio celebrating the 2nd anniversary of the Julep Maven Program.
  • Amity (friendship) - Classic with a Twist: White gold metallic
  • Clio (celebration) - Bombshell: Silver, pink, and lavender multi-dimensional glitter
  • Reiko (gratitude) - It Girl: Rose gold metallic

Package Value Breakdown:
(As of this post all of the individual polishes currently retail for $14.00 or $11.20 if you are a Julep Maven Member)

(3) Individual Polishes:  $42.00 / 33.60
Flower Seed Packet: $1.00 (guesstimate)
Champagne Trio (set of 3 polishes):  Normally $42.00, Currently on sale for $20.00
Doublestep Foot Stick: $22.00 / $17.60

Grand Total Retail Value = $107.00 ($85.00 if you factor in the current sale prices)
Maven Subscriber Price (if purchased separately) = $72.20

What I actually Paid
August Box $19.99
Bea Add-On $4.99
Trio Add-On $14.99
Total = $39.97

Overall, I feel like this box is a great value for the money spent.  Also, I like all of the colors.  Especially the glitter polish, "Clio" included in the trio.

Did you purchase a box this month?  What did you get?  Did you love it or hate it?

If you are not already a member and would like to find out what your Julep Maven Style is, use this link to access Julep's style quiz and a special offer just for you.  Use code "FREEBOX" and your first box is free!  You're welcome :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Julep Summertime Mystery Box Reveal

A few days ago I received an email from Julep notifying me their Summertime Mystery Boxes were now available.  Being new to Julep, I was curious to find out more about what a mystery box entailed.

Summertime Mystery Box choices

After clicking the link that was included in the email and googling past mystery boxes I came to the conclusion that I wanted one had to have one.  Basically, Julep will guarantee a specific color (in this case, two) and there will be a minimum dollar amount assigned to the box.  Usually, Julep will offer a couple of different boxes and you really won't have any idea what will be in them.  Because of this, nail polish addicts everywhere will commonly order both boxes, often resulting in duplicate polish colors and/or products.  Alas, Julep made it easier for people who want to try it all and not get duplicates.  This time around they gave us three different box choices.  Summer Days, Summer Nights or a combination of Day & Night.  I went with the combo box.  Of course, the bigger box cost a bit more ($39.99) than the individual Day/Night boxes ($24.99), but I was okay with that.  For $39.99 I was guaranteed to receive $125 - $300 retail value of products.  This amount actually becomes a bit less with my Julep Maven discount, but as I am trying to build my Julep collection, I felt like I would still be getting a great value for my money.

As usual, the products came packaged super cute - ready for gift giving if that's your thing. :)  Okay, so what did I get in my "Mystery Box"?  Here are all the details:

Julep Summertime Big Box Version 2


Colors (the tag for Felicity was missing upon arrival)

 

 

Product Breakdown:

I have listed the nail colors in the order pictured above.  The descriptions for each product come directly from Julep's website.  Also, as of this post all of these polishes currently retail for $14.00 or $11.20 if you are a Julep Maven Member.

  • Emmanuelle: Sheer warm pale pink crème
  • Raegan:  Electric dark pink crème
  • Nicolette: Opaque french white
  • Monica: Multidimensional pink glitter (Exclusive to the Summertime Boxes)
  • Kyla: Coral orange glitter (Exclusive to the Summertime Boxes)
  • Felicity: Yellow gold metallic chrome
  • Amber: Golden bronze suede
  • Double Duty Makeup Brush: This unique 2-in-1 tool contains two stackable brushes—a large tapered brush for streak-free foundation application and a flat concealer brush that offers precision coverage and control. ($28.00/Maven Price: $22.40)
  • Toe Separators (they do not sell these individually, but I would guesstimate a price of $1.00)
  • Glycolic Hand Scrub Sample: This "facial for hands" packs a 10% glycolic acid punch. Whisk away dirt and oil and reveal noticeably softer and younger looking hands after just one use.  (Since this is a sample size, I will guess $1.00 here, as well)

 

Price Breakdown:

(7) Julep Polishes =  $98.00 / $78.40
Double Duty Makeup Brush = $28.00 / $22.40
Toe Separators = $1.00
Glycolic Hand Scrub Sample = $1.00

Grand Total Retail / Maven Subscriber Price = $128.00 / $102.80


Even if I purchased these individually at my Maven discounted price, it is still a decent deal.  Would I choose these specific colors?  Probably not, however, I really do like some of them.  There is always the chance I will try the colors I think I don't like and end up loving them (and vice versa).

When I ordered my Summertime Mystery Big Box, I also added a special "add-on" to my Julep order.  I got this sparkly little number for $6.99!

America

America:  Sterling silver stars with shiny red and royal blue glitter (Currently on sale for $9.99)


So, what do you think?  Would you order a "Mystery Box" and risk getting things you don't really love?  Until I receive duplicates or have a ton of Julep polishes, I am pretty sure I will keep trying my luck.  :)

Would you like to find out what your Julep Maven Style is?  Use this link to access Julep's style quiz and a special offer just for you!

If you did order a Summertime Box, please comment below and feel free to link to your pictures/blog/etc.  I would love to see what you received in yours!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Influenster's SunKissed VoxBox Final Product Reviews

Remember last week when I posted my exciting news?  I had received my very first VoxBox from Influenster!  My box contained four exciting new-to-me products and I started using them almost immediately.  Well, it has been a few days and I have some information to report.

#SunVoxBox

 

PRODUCT REVIEWS:

 

$10.99
Recently, I was involved in a car accident which resulted in a back injury.  Because of this, I passed this specific product along to my mother-in-law who has a favorite pair of heels she purchased from Nordstrom, but recently have been hurting her feet.  I have seen her wear these sandals and within 20 minutes she takes them off under the table.  No joke.  She wore them for quite a few hours with the inserts and said her feet felt great the entire time!  Score for Dr. Scholl's!!


$3.99 - $4.99
These hair ties are awesome!  I have slept in them, worn them in the pool and even used them on my 6 year old niece.  They stretch well, don't pull your hair and look cute, too!  For thicker hairstyles, use your fingers to stretch it out a couple of times before placing in your hair.  I always buy Goody hair bands and these Ribbon Elastics live up to Goody's good name.  (See what I did there?)  Go get some!!


$12.99
Excerp from Olay's site:  Finish your daily beauty regimen with the all-in-one solution with 6 skin perfecting benefits:

• Refreshes skin instantly
• Brightens for a radiant glow
• Evens tone with a splash of sheer color
• Hydrates for 24 hours
• Smoothes for softer feeling skin
• Protects against UV damage with SPF 15 




The things I do for this blog...
Out of all of the products, this was my least favorite.  It seemed to work OK, however, I didn't notice that much of a difference in the way my skin looked.  Sure, it did help (somewhat) to even out the overall texture and color, but the scent was a bit much for me.  Fair to note, I am super sensitive to any and all types of fragrance.  Also, it made my skin feel a bit on the oily side - and that is never a good thing.  This product can be purchased through Olay and Amazon.


So many colors to choose from!!

I love me some nail polish and at $2.99 each, what's not to love about this polish?!  I have to say, the color went on smoothly, dried well and was super shiny!
Color: Mardi Gras

It started to chip within 48 hours, but that is the norm for me.  I was cleaning our pool and doing dishes - so kind of my own fault.  The most important thing was that it removed easily with gentle polish remover.  That is not always the case with some of my other polishes.  These 32 shades are available for a limited time, so I will be purchasing more of these from Walgreens ASAP.  What are you waiting for??  Get your Summer mani and pedi on!


In conclusion, I really enjoyed receiving and trying out all of these fun and exciting products.  So, what do you think?  Will you be purchasing any of these products for yourself this Summer season?



Disclaimer: I received all products complimentary from Influenster.