[Review] Retreat Yourself Winter Box

Despite being a four-day work week, it has been a looooong week. But it has been made significantly better by the arrival of the Retreat Yourself winter box!

This is my second Retreat Yourself Box – I reviewed the Autumn box back in March and was a huge fan then. I’ve used everything I received in the Autumn box, particularly the yoga non-slip socks, and the Koja superfood salad and breakfast toppers. In fact, I loved the Koja products so much I actually repurchased the Fig & Hazelnut breakfast topper, and am trialling the Chilli Coconut and Pecan salad topper. Typically I prefer to make up my own mixes and toppers, but these were so delicious I was more than happy to buy replacements. This product is definitely going to become a staple of my pantry.

Anyway – on to the winter box. To recap the Retreat Yourself box basics:

The Box: Retreat Yourself, a collection of 10 – 15 products sample and full-time health and wellness products, with a focus particularly on Australian organic brands, which definitely has my support.

Cost: $49.99 + $9.99 shipping for an ongoing subscription, or $59.99 + $9.99 shipping for a one-off purchase.

Delivery: Every 3 months (not often enough!)

Delivery time: it took 8 days from delivery notification to delivery to my workplace, which is consistent with most Australia Post deliveries.

Each box is themed by season, and this box definitely had a gentle winter vibe.

As with last time, the box comes packaged in a kraft brown box, and you open it to find the products wrapped in tissue paper and twine, just like a real gift to yourself.This box contains 12 products. There is once again a really fun variety of products – muffin mix and consumables, hair product, lip balm, a keep-cup, a colouring-in mandala with pencils… really hitting every aspect of health and well-being!

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Soooooo many heart eyes.

Set below are the products, with links to where you can buy them individually (where relevant) and the price if you were to buy it as a stand alone product (and where the box item isn’t full-size, the price is estimated based on the advertised full-price item adjusted to the value of the item for sale).

  1. Bake Mixes Cacao and Acai Muffin Mix $12.95
  2. Bambi and Sammi No. 1 Hair Masque $16.95
  3. Dollar Hippy Club ‘Knot a Care’ Hair Oil $26
  4. Forage Cereal Gluten Free Porridge (made in Melbourne!) $9
  5. Kokoluxe Organic Cacao Drinking Chocolate $15
  6. Prana Chai Masala Blend (also made in Melbourne!) $6 ($20 for 250g)
  7. Australian Superfood Co. Superfood Bar -Wattleseed Husk Cacao Bar $3.50
  8. Wotnot facial wipes $1.99
  9. Pure by Phytocare Papaya Vapour Balm $12.95
  10. Retreat Yourself Karma Kup (or Keep Cup) – listed as $19.95
  11. Mandala Colouring In by Stephanie Carver
  12. Four colouring pencils

Based on that review, the total value of this box is $124.29, which is comparable to the last box, and over double the $50 cost. Once I again I feel like I definitely got my money’s worth, while also getting the chance to try something new.

I will start by saying I was a little disappointed to not get the promised surprise gift for reviewing the Autumn box on the Retreat Yourself website. It isn’t entirely surprising, but then again, I’m kind of sad! The box did include a list of the products which set out the retail price, which was almost perfectly reflected in my review of the retail websites; I really appreciate that kind of transparency. And it included the cute day plan, which is a nice touch for bringing together the products and show how they can be used as part of your day.

Anyway, as for trialling the products, I had tried KokoLuxe before in the Goodness Me box and I was pretty excited to get a full packet of it! The scent is unique, but the flavour is delicious, and you definitely feel as though you’re having a cup of hot chocolate.

I’m not the biggest fan of keep-cups – not because I don’t love that they save the environment! But I find the lids make your drink take a bit plasticky, which is annoying. However I do love the colours, and I might end up using this mug around the house.

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I gave the Papaya Vapour Balm a go. It is scented with eucalyptus and lemon myrtle, so it is really beautiful and refreshing. However, as I’m a total fool, I didn’t read the instructions properly and applied it to my lips, as in a lip balm, when it’s actually a vapour balm to be applied to your chest and back!!! I panicked for a moment, but as the ingredients are 100% natural, and the scent was still beautiful and softening – and I didn’t die. So there’s a plug. But I do think this will be a really lovely winter addition for when you’re bundled up with a cold – a refreshing scent that naturally brings you some calm.

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The wotnot facial wipes are described as being for dry/sensitive skin. I tend to really dry out in winter – even though I aim to drink 2.5L of water a day, I still feel like I’m being leeched of hydration. The wipes were really refreshing and nice, and as far as I could tell, unscented, so a nice balance to add to your handbag.

I gave the Superfood bar a go. It’s flavoured Wattleseed Husk, Cacao, with coconut and wattleseed. I tend to prefer just eating a carrot stick to trying raw bars, but this one had a great texture and I thought the flavours were great. I’d love to try some of their other flavours.

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I adore the colouring-in mandala. Although I haven’t really gotten on board with the mandala obsession that has taken over social media, I do love the concept for colouring in, and I’m looking forward to a quiet Saturday night catching up on the Bachelorette and colouring in this little image. Thankfully I have an enormous collection of textas and coloured pencils, so I think I can make this guy pretty cute.

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Overall, I love that once again this box struck a great balance in providing goods for positive nourishment with good and wholesome food, goods for your physical health with hair products and relief from colds, and goods for my mental health, with mindful colouring and tea and hot chocolate for quiet and peaceful activities. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

Overall rating: 5/5.

 

 

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[Review] Goodness Me Box

It’s been a while since I got to review one of these bad boys! I’ve been really looking forward to getting the Goodness Me box. I’ve known about it for a while, but was waiting for an elusive discount code so that I could sustain the expensive habit of subscription boxes. Around Easter there was 30% off a 3 month membership, so I swooped on the opportunity, and received my first box in April.

To start with, the basics:

The Box: Goodness Me Box, a box designed to encourage health food sampling, providing a box of 5 – 10 samples a month with the goal of getting consumers excited about eating pure and wholesome food.

Cost: Monthly subscription is $25/month with free shipping. There is also a 3 month subscription for $70 (upfront), a 6 month subscription for $135 (upfront) or an annual subscription of $265 (upfront).

Delivery: Monthly.

Delivery time: I can’t report on this one, as somewhat irritatingly I didn’t get an email notification letting me know my box had been shipped.

As usual I got my box delivered to work (I think I’m really starting to test the patience of the service centre), and was very excited to have it arrive.

This box comes in one of those nicely packaged foldy boxes with themed tape, wrapped with twine and a little Goodness Me tag. There was a bonus Soma Bite bar in the big packaging, which actually came across kind of random. I found myself questioning whether it was supposed to be in the box and they just forgot? It was an odd packaging decision.

Inside the box, the items were wrapped in tissue paper, and the box was stuffed with filling paper, which made everything present really well immediately upon opening.

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The April box contained:

  • Kokoluxe hot chocolate powder
  • 2 x Chai Tea sample bags
  • Just Jerky
  • Power Mix
  • Tom Yum Soup kit
  • Fruit-Free Bar
  • Citrus and Chia Bites

Total value: $25.60

 

The information booklet that came with the box contained the name of the product, some info about the brand and the cost of the item. however, those numbers were a little off, and I’ve calculated the above value based on the actual weight of the products received. Disappointingly, the total value of the box only met the cost of purchasing it.

In terms of the actual products I received, I’ve set out a list of what I think of those items I tried below:

  • Chai tea: delicious. I always find organic brands of tea have a better aroma than, say, Twinings. Whether that can be attributed to the organic-ness, or just they put more effort into packing a punch with the herbs and spices they use, I can’t say, but I would buy these in a store.
  • Just Jerky: actually amazing. The honey and coriander flavour was subtle but delicious, and the jerky bites were a great size. Jerky is never something I would contemplate buying, but if I had it in my cupboard I would probably never stop eating it. Definite 10/10. And consistently with the Goodness Me brand, the jerky is sustainable sourced and ethically produced. So that’s nice.
  • Soma Bites bar: hard no. Weird flavours and texture. Definitely would not re-purchase.
  • Fruit-Free Bar: very delicious. I detest dried fruit and any kind of fruit bar, because I subscribe to the belief that if you aren’t actually holding the fruit itself in your hands (e.g. an actual apple) you aren’t eating it. You’re just eating a sugar version of it. I’m not open to being disabused of this notion, not matter how much it appears based on rubbish, but of course you don’t have to agree with me. However these don’t feel particularly healthy to eat, since it is all packaged and stuck together and generally feels a bit fake, so I wouldn’t be substituting plain nuts for this bar on a regular basis.

Although this box was full of great and different products, the fact the value of the box didn’t greatly exceed the cost of subscribing really turned me off. Next month’s box has been advertised as ‘Decadent Desserts’, so I’m hoping that it will meet the quality of the goods in this box, and exceed the value!

[Review] Retreat Yourself Autumn Subscription Box

You know those inspiration memes that come up on instagram and pinterest? The ones that are full of broad sweeping views and beautiful people with their eyes closed taking in the world? The ones that make you want to just be that person so bad? The ones that kind of look like this?

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That is what getting the Retreat Yourself box is like. It is the best. Retreat Yourself is a health and wellness subscription box that aims to be more than a collection of products – it guides you on your journey to health and wellness. And it is fantastic.

To start with, the details:

The Box: Retreat Yourself, a collection of 10 – 15 products sample and full-time health and wellness products, with a focus particularly on Australian organic brands, which definitely has my support.

Cost: $49.99 + $9.99 shipping for an ongoing subscription, or $59.99 + $9.99 shipping for a one-off purchase.

Delivery: Every 3 months (not often enough!)

Delivery time: it took 8 days from delivery notification to delivery to my workplace, which is consistent with most Australia Post deliveries.

Each box is themed by season, and I subscribed in time for the Autumn box, which began delivery from the beginning of March, and is available all through (Australian) Autumn until sold out.

When this box arrived, I picked it up from the services department at work and high-tailed it home for lunch so I could take my time opening up all the products and enjoying all these treats immediately. This was such a fun process thanks to the beautiful packaging of the products, all of the fun items inside, and getting to peruse the Retreat Yourself Wellness Guide and Retreat Yourself Experience!

 

As you can see, the contents are beautifully wrapped with twine and some padding inside to keep the products nicely positioned (and not broken!). The Autumn box contained 12 items, and a collection of discount vouchers, so a great selection to keep you occupied for quite a while.

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I was really impressed with the array of items in this particular subscription box. As you can see, it includes some consumables such as delicious healthy hot chocolate and a paleo bar, some chill items like a candle and journal, which I’m dying to trial together, and beauty items. This varied collection results in a really exciting and fun box that lives up to the “health and wellness” branding. Set out below are the products, with links to where you can buy them individually and the price if you were to buy it as a stand alone product (and where the box item isn’t full-size, the price is estimated based on the advertised full-price item adjusted to the value of the item for sale).

  1. Coffee Not Coffee Hot Cacao Superblend (two sachets) ($3.46 value)
  2. MoveActive Non-slip Socks ($16.95)
  3. MoveActive Bag ($9.95)
  4. Skindles Skinefit Butter ($20)
  5. Love Ludie Fig Tree Candle (approx $7 value)
  6. Yoga Glow Detox Mask (approx $14.95 value)
  7. Retreat Yourself 100% recycled paper Journal ($12.95)
  8. Naked Seeds Pancake Mix with Maca & Chia ($14.99) (makes 10 – 12)
  9. Koja Fig and Hazelnut Breakfast Topper ($9.50)
  10. Blue Dinosaur Paleo Bar ($3.95)
  11. Harvest Bliss Vitamin C Bath Salts ($9.95)
  12. Pho Spice Bag (..don’t know, but smells amazing!)

 

Based on the above, the total value of this box is $123.65 – over double the cost of subscribing to the box itself, which I think is super impressive, and makes me feel my $50 was well-spent.

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I took a quiet Sunday afternoon to trial the Hot Cacao Superblend. I just blended the sachet with boiling water and let it sit for a while. The scent was a bit different – you naturally expect a chocolate aroma, but since this isn’t actually chocolate, it’s more of an earthy scent. But the drink itself really was delicious and felt indulgent, and I’d buy it again. If you wanted a more creamy hot chocolate experience I’d use heated milk and boiling water, but I was happy with the water.

The paleo bar was pretty delicious. The ginger and nut was good, and the ginger flavour wasn’t too strong which was great. The only reason I wouldn’t buy these is we don’t buy packaged snacks, in favour of stocking the fridge with fresh veg. But if you like to have packaged snacks around in an emergency, these bars are tasty and seem pretty healthy/legit.

The Skinefit butter is the smoothest, most delightful experience, and I’m so thrilled to have discovered this amazing product! It’s natural and has a really soft, delightful scent, and is great on my really dry elbows and rank wrists. This is probably my favourite product in this box.

Otherwise, everything else is in the process of being trialled – I’ve ear-marked the pancake mix for next Saturday morning, and am saving the candle for my next Sunday afternoon me-time session with the face mask and journal. But I should disclose that those socks have not been removed from my feet since being unwrapped. They’re fantastic. I’ll be trialling them at yoga next Friday night to see how grippy the grip really is, but they’re really cosy and the spots are fun.

The vouchers were for a variety of brands, and the discounts ranged from 10-25%. I’m not the biggest fan of just getting discount vouchers, especially when the discount is that minimal – it doesn’t really make me feel valued, or motivated enough to check out the store, since these discounts appear relatively regularly in this current retail market. Maybe a buy one get one free or an additional free gift with purchase  would be more motivating as a customer. Although the $1 boost juice voucher will be put to good use!

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The guide book is one of the best touches in this box. Not only does it contain the details of the products you’ve received in your box, it also has great articles that are relevant to the contents, and this one had some super cute recipes I’m looking forward to experimenting with. I love Pho, but I’ve never made it before, and this recipe is a great motivation to test my skills and try something new. The double chocolate brownies look absolutely divine, and the ingredients list is clean and fresh, my favourite kind! My favourite articles were the hip opening active stretch, with images to help you through, and the Power of Journalling article. Generally this mini magazine was a real little sample of self-love, and I felt a sense of calm and peace reading it – and the images inside are beautiful, I’ve stuck the opening autumn lives image on my wall at work to remind me to chill the eff out on those stressful afternoons. And the Retreat Yourself Day Plan is such a fun touch.

Overall, this box is really unique and feels luxurious and special. I loved the packaging, the contents, the booklet/mini magazine containing recipes and great articles about improving your life, and the retreat yourself day guide. Even though I didn’t follow it to the letter, I’ve stuck the guide up near my bed as a reminder for taking it a little easier on myself every day.

The price tag is a little hefty, clocking in at $60 including shipping. However, the box is only available every three months, so you can write it off as a rare self indulgence, and as demonstrated, it is great value for the array of full size products you get. Even if these aren’t products you’d typically purchase, I’d recommend the box – it has widened my knowledge of Australian-made products that prioritise sustainability, organic produce and ethical practices, all in addition to making really beautiful and thoughtful products.

Typically I’d cancel my subscription to free up my budget to trial other options, but this box was such a wonderful experience I’ll be keeping my subscription for winter – which is perfect timing, as it will be released in June, just in time for my birthday! And I see myself purchasing some one-off boxes for birthday gifts.

Overall rating: 5/5

 

 

[Review] Lust Have It! March

So I previously shared how I’d be reviewing a different subscription box each month, with the intention of getting more familiar with what all the subscriptions offer, the kind of products and variety you get, bang for your buck, and, of course, discovering new products. I have done a review of Lust Have It! and thought I’d cancelled the recurring subscription, but whoops! Turns out because I’d subscribed in the middle of February to the February box, and the billing for March was before the processing of my cancellation application, I have also ended up with the March box for reviewing. And I’m not going to lie – I am extremely tempted to just sign up for an ongoing subscription to this box, because it is so beautiful, and you get such fabulous products.

The Basics

So to recap, Lust Have It! is an Australian-based subscription box that sends out a collection of beauty, skin and hair products each month. Each “box” is actually a small zippered cosmetic bag, and contains 5 – 6 products depending on the month.

Cost: $19.95 / month, plus $2.95 shipping.

Delivery: Monthly

Delivery time: about a week between receiving a shipping notification and the box arriving on your doorstep.

What’s in the box?

  


Check out this month’s collection! Tucked in that bag of delightful treats are:

1. Full size Be A Bombshell Black Mascara ($15USD / approx $19.84AUD)

2. Body Shop Vitamin E moisturiser cream ($24.95 for a 50mL tub, so approx $7.48 for this 15mL tub)

3. Lanolips handcream ($15.99)

4. Mellow powder blush ($10USD / approx $13.22AUD)

5. Body Shop Oils of Life ($54.95 for a 30mL bottle, so approx $12.82 for this little 7mL sample)

6. Body Shop Italian Summer Fig 15ml sample spray ($36.95 for a 50mL bottle, so approx $0.77 for this 1.5mL sample)

7. Garnier Full & Luscious shampoo and conditioner ($5.95 for a 250mL bottle, so approx $0.24 per sample)

Total value: $70.60.

So in true girl shopping logic, we spent $20, but it was worth $70, so we made $50! Such a deal! But honestly, getting so many full size products that form part of my basic routine (particularly mascara), makes this feel like it’s worth it every time. And as I said in my previous post, I love the bags the subscription comes in – they can be multi-purposed for so many things, and are super sturdy.

So far I’ve experimented with the mascara and the fig perfume. The perfume has a gorgeous soft scent, and that tiny little spray bottle packed a punch. I would definitely buy a bottle of this to complement my more pricey perfume and make it last!

The mascara goes on nicely, and gave a nice black finish. I probably wouldn’t buy it, but only because I’m extremely partial to my Marc Jacobs mascara and don’t tend to waver from my favourites. However it is a great product and I’d recommend it to others.

The hand cream smells delightful, and is going to live with my mum, who loves rose-scented creams. I also gave the Vitamin E cream a quick trial; it is a really delicious smell, and has a thick, creamy texture and feels extremely hydrating as it goes on.

So, this delivery was so great I’m bumping my rating up to a 4.5/5. I may be renewing my subscription…

[Podcast Review]: ‘When Willpower Isn’t Enough’

Like most of the universe, I became hooked on podcasts because of the Serial story. I have a great desire to generally learn more, but I don’t engage well with “non-fiction” book reading. However, reading blogs and listening to engaging podcasts has accidentally resulted in imbuing some more knowledge, and I’d like to keep that up. TED talks are definitely something I’d like to engage with more, but I have had a tonne of finance and behavioural economics podcast subscriptions gathering dust on my phone that I’m finally uncovering and listening to. One that really resonated with me was an episode of Freakonomics titled ‘When Willpower Isn’t Enough’. 

The episode basically involved interviewing a behavioural economist on her work into temptation bundling and the fresh start effect. “Temptation bundling” is where you restrict the time when you can do something you love, such as watching an episode of a favourite TV show, only when doing a particular activity or after you’ve done an activity you struggle to make yourself do, such as going to the gym. The “fresh start effect” is that boost in motivation or willpower upon a perceived restart of a cycle, such as the new year, or a birthday, or even the start of a month or week. 

What I took away from the episode is that temptation bundling and the fresh start effect are devices available to people to self-harness and form the basis for the creation of new habits that result in achieving personal goals, such as losing weight. I found the concepts pleasant and interesting, and generally easily applicable to my own life. However, the nature of the devices makes me wonder how they’d apply to more complicated or emotive changes than simply going to the gym more (so you can find out what happens next on your show). I feel as though my position is that these concepts are a bit of a stop-gap for those”nice to have” type of activities, such as gym-going or maybe writing consistently (possible temptation bundle: only purchase a coffee when you sit down to write for a half an hour?). That is, when you think”I’d like to do that thing”, but often find you just do something else, you can combine them. But say you’ve been told you’re pre-diabetic, or your debt is so massive that you absolutely must pay it down or face bankruptcy, then these pleasant devices are most likely insufficient? I also don’t think that your trigger has to be quite as drastic as the ones I listed above, but if it’s something you intrinsically believe you should do, there perhaps isn’t a place for the devices.

Then again, I’m on a constant mission to find a balance between guiltlessly enjoying myself and choosing to hustle in the right areas. These devices definitely play an important role in mixing and matching activities that fall under those two categories. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the podcast, and as you can see, it has definitely made me think. I am definitely not immune to the fresh start effect (coming back on board to this blog at the start of 2016!) and definitely am employing it with my finances on this vacation, where each day is a fresh reminder to “start fresh” with making the choices that will get me where I want to be.