Monthly Archives: May 2013

May Foodie Penpal with Flavor

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It’s Foodie Penpal reveal time! I’ve signed up to receive a Foodie Penpal a handful of times and I absolutely love it. You don’t even have to be a blogger to participate.

Foodie pen pals

Here’s how it works:

1. Sign up here by the 4th of the month that you want to participate.

2. On the 5th of the month, you are assigned a Foodie Penpal.

3. You communicate with your penpal about any food allergies or preferences, as well as where to ship the package.

4. By the 15th of the month, send $15 worth of food to your penpal that may include homemade goodies, local treats or just some of your favorite discoveries that you want to share! The box must also contain something handwritten.

5. You’ll receive a package from another Foodie Penpal, who was assigned to you.

6. If you are like me, you squeal with delight when your package arrives.

7. You enjoy said goodies, which you may have never known about otherwise.

8. If you are a blogger, you post about the package you received on the last day of the month – Reveal Day! {If you are not a blogger, you do not need to do anything, but thank your Penpal, of course! However, if your Penpal does blog, you can choose to write a guest post, if you so wish.}

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My delightful May box came from Tiffany in Rhode Island. She shopped and sent my package out in less than 24 hours! I was so impressed when my box arrived.

here are the goods

Fun Foods shipped from Rhode Island by Tiffany

Tiffany’s cute smiley card indicated that she tried to find some items produced outside the U.S. {It’s like she knew me!} She found some spicy goods, too, knowing that I like things with flavor. {This blog isn’t called Season It Already! for nothing!}

Also included was a nice eco-friendly Target shopping bag. I took everything out and piled it all on top of the bag and Benny just had to get in the photo as he always does!

asdfa

Does Benny want to be in the photo or does he just want the food? Hmmmm…

The box was waiting for me when I came home from a girls’ weekend in Wisconsin Dells. The first thing my husband and I tore in to were the cookies!

cookies

These assorted gourmet cookies came from a local bakery/grocery store that Tiffany loves!

Those cookies were so chewy and fresh! Rob and I might have had them gone the next day. 😉

I’ve been holding out on the Mango Habanero Salsa. Why? Rob is allergic to mango. Also, when I open a jar of salsa, I never finish it. I have no idea why that happens! However, my dad is visiting this weekend. He loves habenero! I plan to dig in and enjoy the jar with him.

Tiffany indicated that she included these chips for dipping in the Habanero Salsa…

Rice & Bean

Lundberg Bean & Rice Chips – Pico de Gallo

…but we got too antsy. Pico de Gallo flavor? Sold! We tore the bag open. And, actually, we were glad we did. These chips were so flavorful and well-seasoned that I think they did better on their own. Mmmmm…

Actually, we’ve had company in town for the last week! Between Rob’s parents visiting last weekend, my parents visiting this weekend and my mom staying the week to deep clean our house {Yes, I AM the luckiest girl in the world!}, the Oriental Party Mix made the perfect snack.

And you know that the chocolate bar was broken up to pieces and brought with me to work each day for the past week or so. And I haven’t found a KIND Bar that I haven’t liked yet. This Fruit & Nuts in Yogurt one did not disappoint!

asdfad

Honeycomb Crisp Milk Chocolate from Ireland & Fruit & Nut in Yogurt KIND Bar

Lastly, is the Masaman Curry Paste from Thailand. Oh how I love curry! I had every intention of making it the week after I received the box. It just hasn’t happened yet. My plan is for next week. I’ve got a can of coconut milk that has been waiting to be used!

Thank you so much, Tiffany.

I adored my Foodie Penpals box and thank you ever so much for getting it out so quickly!

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I had so much fun shopping this month for my penpal, Ariel in Virgina. Ariel has a very interesting ethnic background. She sometimes writes over on her sister’s blog Hapa-tite, so if you want to learn more about these two ladies and what I sent Ariel, be sure to check out the site!

If you’d like to participate in Foodie Penpals, click here.

What is your favorite spicy or ethnic food?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Surdyk’s Flights – Getting to the Airport

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We like to get to the airport early. I’m talking, at the very least, two hours before flight time. It’s not just to give us time to go through security. We know there’s plenty of time for that. But we don’t want to feel rushed. When we are going on vacation, we want to start our vacation right away. And for us, it starts at the airport, before we even leave the soil of our resident state.

I know a lot of people don’t like to dine at airports because they think it is too expensive. And it is. But there is something to be said about starting your vacation the minute you get through security. Sure, if I have a morning flight, I generally do eat ahead of time or bring a banana or Fiber One Bar or some nuts of some sort along with me for some a.m. fuel. Then, when I find the nearest coffee shop (be it Starbucks or Caribou Coffee), I get myself a nice, warm and happy medium Americano. {I especially do this if said flight is 7am or earlier!}

However if we are going to have a little lunch or dinner at the MSP airport, I insist that we go here:

Surdyk's Flights (source shopmsp.com)

Surdyk’s Flights (source shopatmsp.com)

Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese Shop is located in Northeast Minneapolis and has been an institution since 1934. Not too long ago, Surdyk’s put a wine market and bar in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (Terminal 1, aka the Lindbergh Terminal). Cleverly named Surdyk’s Flights, it’s where I like to get a flight or glass of wine pre-departure… and not to mention, a little bit of grub!

The first time I discovered Surdyk’s Flights, I enjoyed a flight of wines with a salami sandwich. It was simple and delicious. This isn’t a fancy wine bar. There’s just a handful of two-person booths and a side counter that serves as a bar. The food menu is simple: cheeses, meats, antipasti, salads and sandwiches. That’s it. And if you are on the run, you can grab one of their pre-made sandwiches to go. And these aren’t your average airport-to-go sandwiches. These are made with high quality, fresh ingredients. Grab one for your flight and your seatmate will be soooo jealous.

I’ve forced Rob to try Surdyk’s Flights when we travel together. After the first time, I haven’t needed to twist his arm again.

When we flew to Las Vegas this past winter, we sat at the bar for lunch. After perusing the beverage menus, we decided on wine flights. I went with the Tiny Bubbles because bubbly is something that’s not often served by the glass. And getting Rob to share a bottle with me is rare.

Tiny Bubbles

Flight of Tiny Bubbles: Vinho Verde, Prosecco, Moscato d’Asti

Rob went with a flight of reds:

red flight

The Robust Reds: Desert Wind “Ruah”, Klinker Brick Farrah Syrah, Kenwood Jack London Zinfandel

I love the tomatoes behind the glass in that photo! Among that flight of wines, Rob actually ended up finding a new favorite that day…

Klinker Brick

Klinker Brick Farrah Syrah from Lodi, California

If you aren’t in the mood for wine, they do offer beer by the bottle and some fun cocktails…

DRINKS

I like the idea of the MSP Overshot! Remember when that happened? I love that they made a drink named after it.

That day, we ordered a cheese and meat platter:

meat and cheeses

Selection of Three Cheeses & Three Salumi – $16
with olives, cornichon, fruits, nuts and marinated vegetables

It may not look like much, but it was the perfect amount of food for two. Really.

On our next trip to Surdky’s Flights, Rob really wanted to get the wine he adored on the previous visit, since he hadn’t seen it since:

klinker

Here’s the cool thing… Since Surdyk’s Flights is also a wine shop {you’ve already gone through security, so you can purchase wine to take aboard your flight}, when you order a bottle of wine, you pay for the shop price of the bottle – not the double or triple retail price you see at most restaurants! SF-Klinker BrickTherefore, the cost of this bottle was only $17.99! That’s virtually unheard of in a restaurant. However, if you want to order a glass of this wine at Surdyk’s, you’ll pay $11. No kidding.

passport book and cigs. drress

I love that your check comes in a little passport book with some candy cigarettes…

On this occasion, we decided to on just the cheese:

asdfasd

Selection of Three/Five Cheeses – $12/$16
with quince paste, fruits and nuts

And although they aren’t pictured, I’d highly recommend the sandwiches… especially if you don’t get to the airport early enough to sit down and have a pre-vacay beverage.

I adore Surdyk’s Flights. And there’s got to be a reason why it’s rated one of the best airport wine bars, even though it doesn’t really have a bar feel.

How early do you get to the airport?

Cheers~
Carrie

The News Room – Minneapolis

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My in-laws were in town this weekend and Rob planned an afternoon on Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minneapolis. We love going downtown on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when there is nothing big going on {i.e. a Twins game}. It’s wonderful strolling along Nicollet stopping for a drink and app or two.

Rob and I have stopped for an afternoon drink at The News Room a couple of times before. On our last occasion, we took a look at the menu. It looked incredible! I had eaten there about ten years back with some girl friends. I remembered it being excellent. However, it’s a rare occasion when Rob and I are out in downtown Minneapolis for dinner. So, it just hadn’t happened yet.

We had intended on having a couple of drinks and some lunch on Nicollet Mall that day with his parents. Rob printed out a map of the street, highlighted the establishments he liked and even printed out menus of said places for his parents to peruse!

We started off at The Local with a round of ciders, reminiscing about our fall trip to Ireland. We wandered over to the Dakota Jazz Club so that Rob could show off one of the places where rob has found his Top 10 Fries in the Twin Cities. Unfortunately, the Dakota is not open for lunch on the weekend, so we wandered a bit further to Brit’s Pub. However, upon entering, the place was packed from wall to wall and there was about an hour wait for a table. A soccer match drew this crowd to Brit’s. And in the summer, lawn bowling and outdoor movies do, too!

By then, we decided to go for an appetizer at The News Room. Rob’s mom and I had our eyes on the Brie Curds:

BRIE CURDS DEEP FRIED BRIE, HOMEMADE BLUEBERRY KETCHUP 11.95

Brie Curds
deep fried brie, homemade blueberry ketchup
$11.95

And they were incredible. I love me some melty brie, so these did not disappoint. Drag the brie curd through the blueberry “ketchup” and it’ll remind you of baked brie drizzled with preserves. Yes, that good. These are highly recommended. I can’t stop thinking of them. You need to go to the News room just to try these!

The boys, though, decided to try the Arancini:

arancini crispy fried croquettes filled with risotto, benton's bacon, and bleu cheese, served with marinara 8.95

Arancini
crispy fried croquettes filled with risotto, benton’s bacon,
and bleu cheese, served with marinara
$8.95

These were tasty as well, but both Joyce and I decided that we liked “ours” better! Yeah, Rob and I still want to enjoy an entire meal at The News Room together, but this was a wonderful introduction.

We wandered about a block off the mall to have our lunch at Devil’s Advocate. But that’s for another post. 😉

What are our favorite kinds of appetizers?

Cheers~
Carrie

Which Food Box to Keep?

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Subscription Box Saturday – Food Box Edition

I know I subscribe to a lot of monthly boxes. But I really try to follow this rule: Only subscribe to one box of any kind. However, I’ve broken this rule with food/snack boxes. I belong to two. It’s tough deciding which one to keep! Generally speaking, I think I like my Love with Food box a little bit better. Why? They introduce me to new products that not only taste good, but are often healthy or just better in terms of the quality of ingredients and processes used. I also love the themes. However, I do get some tasty items in my Goodies box as well. And that one’s only $7! It’s hard to quit that! Here’s a comparison of the May contents.

Subscription Box: Love with Food

Premise: Sample the best gourmet food products delivered to your door!”

Cost: $10/month + $2 shipping. (Special deals if you purchase more than one month at a time)

Extra Benefits: Review products, share recipes and refer friends for points toward free products.

What’s Special: For each box shipped and each order placed, a meal is donated to a hungry child.

To Join: Click here.

May’s Theme: Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed

From Left, Clockwise:

Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves: I’ve received Bonne Maman in a few different boxes now. I’ve always loved this product since I first had it in France nearly 20 years ago. So it’s a welcome treat! I also love the mini sample jars they come in, which I reuse like in this post.

Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning Blend: We haven’t used this yet, but I’ve read that a little can go a long way! I intend to add it to pasta sauce or to season veggies this summer! Maybe I’ll even switch up my usual popcorn routine with a sprinkle, too. Did you know that of everywhere I’ve been, I think New Orleans has some of the best food in the world?!

Mrs. May’s Naturals Strawberry Pineapple Crunch: While these little nuggets tasted good because the ingredients went well together, I thought that the clusters were a little big. It seemed like a lot of calories for just a few little bites! This was the box’s “mystery item” which must be something they recently started. Instead of the insert stating what the product is, you have to go online to find our more info.

LWF insert

Caffe Borsa Hand Drip Single Origin Coffee: I’m stashing this away for a trip when coffee might not be available.

Snapz Crisps – Tomato Crunch: I love tomatoes. They are one of my favorite things on this planet. I was so excited to try these at only 40 calories a bag. The flavor, though, was very concentrated and a lot sweeter than I expected. I could only eat half the bag until it got to be a little too much. I was surprised how satisfied I was on just 20 calories. I think these would be great in a salad to have that added crunch without the carbs or fat of croutons or nuts. Have you tried these before?

Bali’s Best Latte Candy: These were the first to come out of the box! I enjoyed one while Rob had the other. Love these! There is not much  more to say. Coffee-flavored candies? I’m in!

Biscotti Bari Authentic Almond Biscotti: I love biscotti and the almond, almost amaretto flavor of this hit the spot. Yesiree – tastes authentic to me!

“Great Full” Vegan Sweet Potato Cookie by the Cookie Department: The phrase “Vegan Sweet Potato Wellness Cookie” just made the cookie sound disgusting to me. I am not a sweet potato fan. In addition, it sounded like a lame attempt to come up with a cookie for a vegan.

NOT SO! This cookie was delightful! I was completely surprised. I loved, particularly, the molasses flavor. This was the big surprise of the box for me. My only gripe: It uses the words Vegan and Wellness to make it sound like a healthy cookie. But when I look at the fiber and protein content, it’s not all that impressive, especially since one cookie is 2 servings!

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Subscription Box: Goodies

Premise: “Receive a monthly Taster’s Box filled with exciting snacks for you to enjoy. The monthly Taster’s Box includes 5-8 trial-sized snacks and treats enabling you to discover your favorite new goodies.”

Cost: $7/month, includes shipping

Extra Benefits: Review and rate products, upload photos and complete a profile to earn points and unlock rewards.

What’s Special: I guess I’d have to say the price. Although Goodies is a company owned by Wal-mart.

To Join: Click here.

May’s Theme: I think Goodies stopped doing themes about two months ago. You now receive a note in the box instructing to go online to learn more about the products, rather than receiving an insert describing them. When I logged in online, this month’s header read:

May 2013 – Taster’s Box

Sweet and sour. Smoky and spicy. Fresh and refreshing. We’ve got all the bases covered when it comes to flavor this month.

Goodies May Contents

Blurry May Goodies Box Contents

From Left, Clockwise:

Bronco Bob’s Mango Chipotle Sauce: I haven’t tried this yet, but I intend to make the recipe on the back on a night when Rob is out golfing. {You know, that whole fins and feathers thing… oh and mango.}

Zico Coconut Water: I have just started to learn about coconut water by following Paleo bloggers. I’ve found some that I like and some that I don’t. My list of Goodies online wants me to rate a chocolate-flavored coconut water. WHAT?! I certainly did not receive a chocolate one! This big bottle was 4 servings. I poured two into a water bottle to sip on two separate days. It was good, but not the best I’ve had. Still loving the ones with pulp thanks to Kristen at Change of Pace!

Super Seedz Sea Salt Pumpkin Seeds: Tasty change from the normal popcorn or almonds I eat as a savory snack!

Seedz

Wholly Guacomole: I love when subscription boxes know that they can’t send you something, but really want you to try it. So they send you a coupon for a free package! While it’s just as easy to buy an avocado and mash to make your own guacamole, sometimes it’s just nice to have a quick little package to take to work. I like the 100 calorie packs that are just the right serving size without worrying about when you are going to use up the rest of the avocado before it browns too much.That is what I’m going to buy with this coupon!

Chipotle BBQ Beanitos: You know how I feel about BBQ flavors. So I saved these for Rob. I did steal a chip or two and we were both really surprised how the bean element gave these chips so much flavor! Oh boy, I’d love to try another variety.

Beanitos

Blue Raspberry and Pink Lemonade Gummy Straws: These do not interest me. They are going straight home with grandma to my nephew. He’ll love ’em! It’s my job as the aunt to sugar him up, right?!

California Olive Ranch Olive Oil: I so want to do a post about olive oil… the labeling, the flavors etc. I used one of the two sample packages when sauteing some veggies this past week. However, I tasted a little on its own and realized that this was too good for sauteing; it should have been a finishing oil! Also, it’s cold pressed – a bonus. More to come on that in a future post.

EVOO

Numi Moroccan Mint Tea: I am on a tea kick and this one was refreshing and did not disappoint! Plus a coupon to order more.

Numi Mint Tea

These two boxes were excellent this month, so I’m still having a hard time choosing just one. Enjoy the rest of your memorial day weekend!

When it comes to flavor, which spices or sauces knock your socks off?

Cheers~
Carrie

OK – Don’t Forget the Pets

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My heart goes out to all of those affected by the Oklahoma tornado disaster. I can even begin to imagine how horrific this past week has been for them. The residents of Moore, Oklahoma need our help. And if you haven’t already, please do your part in donating in any way that you can.

While everyone affected by the tornado needs help, I would like to remind you all not to forget about the pets. When a disaster hits, they are often overlooked. When Katrina hit New Orleans and its environs, some pets were walking around in the rubble which created splinters, cuts and infections in their poor paws! I wish I personally could help all the poor animals who have suffered through this tragedy.

source - firstpost.com

{Source: Firstpost.com}

If you haven’t already seen this video that has gone viral, you need to take the three minutes to watch it. It’s absolutely incredible. Please watch it first because I’m going to talk about it in a bit.

Then there’s the story of a dog that guarded its owners body. You can read about that here. Unfortunately, not everyone is reunited with their pets or owners. Many of these displaced animals that are now missing owners need medical and everyday care.

I knew I wanted to help, but wasn’t sure how. Emails from companies and blogs I follow helped me out with that by sending me such information. Here is a list of ways you can help, too:

  • Petflow.com, a pet food delivery website, is offering free shipping when you send food to the listed Oklahoma Shelters, no matter how small the order is. If you choose to spend $55 or more, you will also get 10% off.
  • The Pet Food Pantry of Oklahoma City‘s website is setup for immediate PayPal donations in which all donations benefit the tornado victims and their animals.
  • The Animal Rescue Site is collecting donations for animals affected by tornadoes as well. I visit this site nearly every day because each day that I click means a bowl of food for an animal. There is also a store in which every purchase donates at least 14 bowls of food and even medical care for animals.
  • And lastly, visit the blog Pawcurious. The writer is a veterinarian who lists other ways to help. {And if you are a dog lover, it’s a blog to follow!}

I keep thinking about that TV crew person who saw Barbara Garcia’s dog while she was being interviewed in the video mentioned above. How did they possibly see her?! It was just her eyes peering out. Even when they zoomed in on the dog, she was difficult to spot. She was lying there in the rubble and crawled out without a sound after Barbara lifted some debris. How many other animals were traumatized that way and never found? I can’t imagine how hard it would be to search for family, friends or pets amidst the aftermath.

So I ask, please help in any way that you can. Recovering from such a trauma can be an emotionally exhausting experience for people and pets alike. Give something you have so that they will once again have something, too.

Thank you,
Carrie

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Charlotte Memories…

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Because you can never capture an entire trip without writing a book, here are some images from the rest of our vacation in Charlotte last month…

Charlotte-Herself

Ever wonder how the city of Charlotte got its name? Well, now you know. (Click to enlarge.)

Charlotte

More Craft Beer

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Southern Fast Food Breakfast. Hey, Southerners, do you prefer Bojangles..?

…or Chick-fil-A?

Chick-fil-A was the winner for me!

Chick-fil-A was the winner for me!

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U.S. National Whitewater Center

A place for adventure sports and where American Whitewater Olympians come to train!

Shadow with her daddy

Shadow with her daddy 🙂

Can you guess what game we were playing?

Can you guess what game we were playing?

And lastly, a little something from the trip that keeps me laughing:

Hooman

I think that’s a nice note with which to end. Don’t you?

 Where are you spending your next vacation?

Cheers~
Carrie

Birchbox vs. Beauty Army

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Subscription Box Saturday: Beauty Products Edition

Most of you who follow me know by now that I get a Birchbox every month. However, last month there was a new addition. And no, I’m not talking about Shamrock. 🙂

I learned of a Beauty Box where you can choose your samples. I thought I’d give it a shot. Here is my comparison.

First up is Birchbox which is just $10/month, including shipping. I get to try a out a lot of high end beauty products and earn points each month a box is shipped, each time I review a product and for each purchase outside of the box. Points can be redeemed for more product.

May 2013 Birchbox Contents

May 2013 Birchbox Contents

This month’s box included items that I will definitely use: Pilot Acroball Penamika Obliphica Nourishing Hair MaskSumita Color Contrast EyelinerCOOLA Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for FaceMarvis ToothpasteIsaac Mizrahi FABULOUS Eau de Parfum Sample.

Truthfully, I haven’t tried any of these items out yet. Well, except for the pen. They were such perfect travel sizes that they went straight in my travel bag, so I’ll be able to try them out this girls’ weekend!

You can read about my other Birchboxes here:

April 2013 – Women’s Health

March 2013

Feb 2013 – Red Carpet Ready

January 2013 – Best Year Ever (and links to 2012 boxes)

Next up is my new box from Beauty Army. Beauty Army is $12/month, including shipping. First, you complete a profile. Then, each month, you pick from a selection of samples to try. You can choose up to six. If you don’t like your options, you can just go back and change your profile to reveal new items. You can do this as many times as you wish! Since you will not receive a box until you pick your samples, you can skip any month. With Beauty Army, you can earn badges for completing surveys, reviewing products, inviting friends to join and making purchases. An earned badge can get you a discount on full-size products and free boxes.

this is how my box arrived in the mail

This is the box I received in the mail.

Box inside a box

Box inside a Box: After stripping away the outer layer, this was the box inside. I love this box. It’s sturdy with a lid. It can serve many household purposes!

Even though I’m not a girl who is really in to pink, I love the army theme once the box is opened. And when I read, “Hello, Gorgeous!” I instantly smiled. I told Rob that is why I get these boxes… Because most women don’t get surprises nor told that they are gorgeous very often. 😉

felt empty.

And despite the fact I chose these samples, I sincerely did forget what I picked. So they were still surprises to me.

In fact, it wasn’t until writing this post that I realized that one of the items was not what I selected…

adsfads

April 2013 Beauty Army contents

Included:

  • Mighty Leaf Chocolate Mint Truffle Tea – I was skeptical, but ended up adoring this tea!
  • Own Refining Moisture Night Cream – This was a tiny sample. It was kind of difficult to make an opinion of it.
  • Mark Scanda-Lash Mascara – This is the perfect travel size! I tried it out, liked it and threw it in my travel bag.
  • Nailuv Gel Polish This is the item I did not request. 😦 It requires a UV lamp to apply. I would have never picked it. Maybe they were out of the Nelson J Beverly Hills Argon Oil Non-Foaming Shampoo that I selected?
  • Immuno-Viva Sunset Tea – I’ve been on a tea kick lately…
  • GG Gatsby Raise Volume Conditioner – A one-time sample that went straight into my travel bag. This will help me with my shampoo to conditioner ratio dilemma.

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In comparing these two boxes, there are pros and cons to both. I like the fact that you can choose your own samples with Beauty Army, so you get what you want, as long as I they send you what you selected! However, there is something to be said about the element of surprise with Birchbox. Still, with this first month of Beauty Army, the items seemed really small/one-time use samples, which seems silly for $12. But maybe that was just the case with the specific samples I chose. Birchbox usually combines a mixture of single and multi-use samples and will sometimes even throw in a full-sized product.

I don’t intend to receive two beauty boxes each month. We all know that I’ve got a serious addiction and get my fair share of subscription boxes every month! However, if there are some good samples out there in a particular month, I will continue with Beauty Army. I like the option to get what I want and skip when I don’t want anything. And I know that I will stick with Birchbox for a while yet.

How do you feel about surprises? Love ’em or Hate ’em?

Cheers~
Carrie