Erin Condren Seasonal Surprise Box Review

Is there anything as exciting as coming home from work and finding out that happy mail has been delivered? I’m not talking about bills, of course. I’m talking about fun packages like this one…

First EC Surprise Box

Ah, yes, the classic Erin Condren box! Hard to miss. At the end of December, I got an email about a brand-new Seasonal Surprise Box that they were launching. According to the description, it would be an $80 value. The price was just $35 (including shipping)! So I took a chance. My surprise box finally arrived today! Spoiler alert! This blog post includes photos, so if you haven’t gotten yours, yet, be warned.
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Review | Art of Tea

Art of Tea

I love drinking tea all year long, but it is especially comforting at this time of year. There’s nothing like the way a mug of tea warms your hands as the delicious scent fills the air. I was recently offered the chance to sample a few of the offerings from Art of Tea, a tea importer and wholesaler based in Los Angeles.

Art of Tea

Art of Tea sells a huge variety of teas and tea-related goods. They even have a monthly subscription box! (Talk about the perfect gift for a tea lover.) Their website even has a Tea Wizard to help you decide what flavors you might enjoy. It’s definitely fun to play with and in fact, one of the samples the folks at Art of Tea sent me was on my recommended list (White Coconut Crème).

Let’s start there.

White Coconut Crème
Art of Tea

Ingredients: Organic White Tea, Organic Safflower, Organic Cornflower, Organic Coconut, Natural and Artificial Flavors

The first thing that struck me when I looked at the tea was the amount of coconut flakes. I couldn’t get a photo that accurately showed how nice they were: big, thick flakes of yummy coconut. They definitely don’t skimp on the ingredients! The flavor was nice and light. I added a bit of sweetener to my cup to bring out the flavors a little more. It was a great mid-afternoon treat.

White Winter Chai

Art of Tea

Ingredients: Organic White Tea, Organic Black Peppercorns, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Fennel, Organic Cloves, Organic Cardamom, Star Anise, Natural Flavors 

The White Winter Chai is available only during the fall and winter, and that makes sense to me because that seems to be the time to drink this warm, spicy blend. I enjoy a chai latte instead of coffee sometimes, and this tea was just delicious! The white tea makes for a more gentle beverage and the star anise flavor really came out, which I happened to love.

 

French Lemon Ginger

Art of Tea

Ingredients: Organic Rooibos, Organic Honeybush, Organic Lemongrass, Organic Ginger, Organic Lemon Verbena

Typically I don’t choose lemon teas, but I was intrigued by the addition of ginger to this blend. The other day I wasn’t feeling well and had a sore throat so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to finally try this tea. The smell of the tea leaves was wonderful and made me excited for them to finish steeping.

Art of Tea

The scent of lemon and ginger was as soothing as the tea itself. I added a few spoonfuls of the lemon-ginger honey I make every year to get us through cold season. All of the flavors worked so well together and I loved that I could really taste the lemon. I think that’s why I’ve tended to stay away from other lemon teas — even when I’ve added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, the flavor I wanted just wasn’t there. Not the case here! The ginger added a nice kick.

Art of Tea

I was really impressed with these samples and browsing through Art of Tea’s online catalog, I see so many other flavors I want to try, like Butterscotch, Cran Marnier, and London. If you want to treat yourself, or are looking for a last-minute gift for a tea lover, I recommend checking them out!

Time for Tea! A Review of Plum Deluxe

Plum Deluxe Tea

One of my favorite ways to warm up on a cold afternoon is with a cup of tea. So when the founder of Plum Deluxe (an artisan tea company based in the Pacific Northwest) kindly asked if he could send me some samples, I didn’t have to hesitate to give an answer.

Plum Deluxe is based in Portland, Oregon and offers a unique variety of tea blends, including flavors like Coconut Macaron, Mindful Morning Tea Blend, and Everything is OK Herbal Tea. Just the names of these teas are great, aren’t they? All of their tea blends are organic, non-gmo, vegan, and free of chemicals and sulfites. Whenever possible, ingredients are sourced from the Pacific Northwest.

Andy Hayes, the founder of Plum Deluxe, explained to me that the company is a tribute to his mother who passed away from breast cancer. As he writes on the company’s website, “My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 59. The subsequent 5 years of her life while she battled the disease were some of the best years of her life. She took the opportunity for self-care days and spa treatments, to keep her spirits up. She went out to dinner parties with friends to celebrate each day, and went to the gym regularly and became very fit. She laughed more. She traveled more – visiting her favorite city, Paris, and finally visiting the town her family was from in Germany. My mom taught me that no matter your circumstances, you can choose to create moments that matter, every day. And some of the most enjoyable moments are the small things – time to sleep in, relaxing in a reading nook, going on a neighborhood walk, or catching up with an old friend over a cup of tea.”

Plum Deluxe Philosophy

When I received my package of tea samples, one of the first things I noticed was that everything was packed with care. Andy’s mission of helping people appreciate life’s little moments came through immediately! As I read the list of ingredients on the tea labels, I smiled. Something that you will find in every batch of tea is love and gratitude. This attention to detail did not go unnoticed.

The fragrances were amazing, too. In fact, my 6-year-old daughter took off with one of the bags just so she could keep smelling it! I was now really looking forward to brewing a cuppa. My expectations were pretty high, and let me tell you, the teas did not disappoint! I was immediately drawn to the Deluxe Pumpkin Spice tea. I added a bit of unsweetened vanilla almond milk and thoroughly enjoyed my first cup of Plum Deluxe tea. It had a great balance of spice and black tea flavor.

Plum Deluxe Tea

Plum Deluxe Tea

The next tea I tried was the Autumn Orchard black tea. I was finishing up some editing work and wanted a little lift. I was really impressed with the amount of dried apple in this blend — there were so many nice chunks that plumped up as the tea steeped. A bit of honey brought out the wonderful, comforting flavors.

Plum Deluxe Tea

Plum Deluxe Autumn Orchard

My final test tea was the Oregon Breakfast Black tea. I drank it with a splash of milk while having my cranberry oatmeal. It had a wonderful, full flavor that I have to say brightened a rainy, dreary morning.

Plum Deluxe Tea

Finally, I want to tell you about something that I think really makes Plum Deluxe stand out: their monthly tea club! Unless you live under a rock, you know that monthly subscription boxes are all the rage. For as low as $10/month, you get one ounce of one of Plum Deluxe’s unique blends each month, plus a special second sample. Members also enjoy a discount on purchases, membership in a private Facebook community just for tea lovers, a monthly tea reading, and a few other benefits. There is nothing like getting a happy surprise in your mailbox! (Plus, wouldn’t it make a great birthday or Christmas gift?) 

I want to extend a special thank you to Andy and Plum Deluxe for introducing me to these wonderful teas. If you enjoy blends that aren’t run-of-the-mill, and are packaged by people who put thought into every step of process, you have to check them out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Trying Out Mineral Fusion Makeup


Many years ago I heard about something called “mineral makeup.” It was supposed to be better for your skin, so I gave it a try and loved it. However, over the years I’ve had opportunities to try out other types of makeup so it no longer is my go-to. I was recently offered the opportunity as a Smiley360 member to try out Mineral Fusion makeup, so I jumped at the chance!

Smiley provided me with a full-value coupon to purchase the Mineral Fusion product of my chosing at Target. I decided to try the Sheer Tint Foundation in Neutral.

Mineral Fusion Makeup Review

Mineral Fusion Makeup Review

I wanted to love this product, but overall it was not for me. When I squeezed the foundation out of the tube, watery liquid dribbled out, no matter how hard I tried to shake everything up first. I found that I needed to do quite a lot of blending to get the foundation to look less “caked on.”

Mineral Fusion Makeup Review

Also, the “neutral” is still too dark for my fair complexion. This, of course, is not something that Mineral Fusion did wrong. I’m just naturally pale. The other day I did my makeup using the Mineral Fusion Foundation and my daughter (who is 5) asked if I’d been a the beach. Out of the mouths of babes! But she has a point — I will keep this in my makeup bag until the summer is here and I have a little more color.

I would not totally give up on Mineral Fusion, though. I think I would love their lipsticks and mascaras.

According to Mineral Fusion: “Our products also help protect from environmental damage. We add age-defying antioxidants to all of our products – pomegranate, white tea, red tea and sea kelp, plus vitamins C and E – to defend against free radical damage. In addition, we enrich our products with specialized botanicals to provide targeted treatment that soothes and nourishes your skin. Our cosmetics are free from parabens, artificial colors, fragrances, gluten, phthalates and talc to ensure that even the most sensitive skin stays beautiful.”

Click here for a $3.00 off coupon and try it for yourself!