Mother’s Day Gift Ideas – Birch Box’s New Limited Edition Superwoman Beauty Collection

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Cleopatra TOCCA Crema da Mano Luxe Hand Cream - Natural Beauty and Skin Care Hand Cream with a Fabulous Light Grapefruit and Cucumber Fragrance - Perfect for a Mother's Day GiftRecently I decided to give Birch Box a try. Based out of New York City this amazing company is perfect for anyone who loves trying out new bath and beauty products. I’d been wanting to try a sample box subscription for some time, but so many of them were out of my price range or required paying for three months or more up front. Birch Box is different. For $10 a month, billed monthly, you received a fabulous box of beauty, grooming and lifestyle samples each and every month. Samples include fragrances, skin care and bath products, cosmetics, even teas and snacks! What has me really excited about this sample program is that it includes high end brands I ordinarily wouldn’t have the chance to try due to budget restrictions. It also offers the chance to try “green” brands that are just launching.

I haven’t received my first sample beauty box yet – it’s set to arrive on Thursday – but I did order the limited edition From the Garden box they offered. It’s sold out now, but you can buy the products that were included within the box individually. My favorites from the box were the Tocca Crema da Mano Luxe, the Lafco Little Luxuries Candle Tin and L’occitane’s Thé Vert & Bigarade fragrance.

I received the Cleopatra Tocca Hand Cream (pictured above) which is a fragrant blend of grapefruit and cucumber. I immediately fell in love with the fragrance. It’s lightly scented, but smells quite lovely – crisp and fresh. What I really liked about this hand cream was that it absorbed quickly and left my hands feeling soft and smooth – almost silky in the way baby powder makes skin feel to the touch. It’s made with a combination of moisturizing oils including avocado and coconut oil, and also contains shea butter and chamomile extract. Tocca offers this cream in five signature fragrances – Cleopatra (as mentioned), Stella (blood orange), Giulietta (pink tulip and green apple), Bianca (green tea and lemon), and Florence (bergamot and gardenia). I pretty much want to try them all. Plus I love the packaging. And with Mother’s Day coming up I think these would make an excellent Mother’s Day gift as well.

I did some looking around, and Birch Box pricing is pretty much dead on with other retailers who offer their products. Minus the extra benefits that come with shopping Birch Box which include free shipping, free samples and offers from their Bonus Shop, and their rewards program.

Mint Scented Lafco Candle Tin with Matches that Fit Neatly Into the LidOne of the other products I received in my limited edition From the Garden Birch Box was this Lafco Little Luxuries Candle Tin in Mint. My favorite thing about this container is the tin it comes in. While the fragrance I received was mint, it really did not smell so much like straight mint to me, rather more of combination of mint and pine. My boyfriend thought it smelled more like pine than anything else, which was fine by him, seeing as how he prefers a more masculine scented candle so this scent made a nice compromise. Made from soy wax, this small candle has a burn time of over thirty hours. But what really does it for me is how lovely the tin itself is. Not only is it pretty to look at, but the lid has an indention on top that hold a box of matches. I thought it wa pretty genius to pair the two together. This is one tin I’ll definitely be re-using and re-purposing once the candle is gone. I may even put another candle it since I’ve been dying to try my hand at candle making at some point.

L'OCCITANE La Collection de Grasse - Thé Vert & Bigarade FragranceI also really love the sample of L’occitane’s fragrance Thé Vert & Bigarade that I received. It’s part of their new line of fragrances, La Collection de Grasse, that was inspired by its namesake town in the south of France. The four fragrances within this line are Jasmine & Bergamote, Vanille & Narcisse, Magnolia & Mûre, and Thé Vert & Bigarade. Thé Vert & Bigarade is a blend of blossoming green floral notes with earthy wood notes that reminds me of tradition. It’s not overwhelmingly floral and is almost crisp in nature. For me, it’s what a “toilet water” should smell like. That beautiful, yet expensive perfume that you coveted from your grandmother’s dresser. Traditional in a way that is classy, sophisticated, understated and timeless.

Mother's Day Gift Idea - A Fabulous Limited Edition Beauty Birch Box -  The Superwoman CollectionWith the From the Garden Limited Edition Birch Box now sold out, Birch Box just introduced a new limited edition box for Mother’s Day. Named the Superwoman Collection, this new beauty collection includes $190 in products bargain priced at just $58 with free shipping. (Plus you can score some sweet extras with it at no charge from the Bonus Shop.) As this box had so many intriguing products I really wanted to try, I indulged and purchased one for myself. Though you could always buy one for you AND one for mom. This box includes the following full sized products: 29 Preserves I-Block Grape Seed Age Protecting™ Estate Collection Eye Shadow – a four shade collection of shimmery ivory, creamy pink, rich espresso brown, and a warm cinnamon infused with antiaging grape antioxidants, a Le Métier de Beauté Dualistic Eye Pencil, a Le Métier de Beauté Anamorphic Lash Waterproof Mascara, and rms beauty™ Living Luminizer. You also receive a travel size Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask and Molton Brown Heavenly Gingerlily Moisture Bath & Shower along with a super cute Chambre de Sucre’s Macaron Limoge Trinket Box. In addition to shipping for free I was also able to choose a sample pack with two samples at no charge – I chose the Weleda Pomegranate Firming Night Cream & Archipelago Pomegranate Body Soap – and a free sample of Benefit BADgal Lash Mascara.

I can’t wait to receive to my first Birch Box shipment – I’ll be sure to fill you in on what’s hot and what’s just, well, not. And I’ll also be sure to give you feedback on the new Superwoman Collection! If you’re interested in trying Birch Box for yourself, you can sign up here. In addition to their sample box program, you can also shop for any of the full size products they carry. Birch Box products of the month always ship free no matter your order size. Other products ship free with a $50 order. Plus you earn points toward free products with every purchase! You can also gift a women’s subscription to Birch Box just for Mother’s Day for 3, 6 or 12 months!

Teroforma Whisky Stones® MAX - Great Gift Idea for Father's DayAlso, new to Birch Box are subscriptions for men. My boyfriend said he didn’t think he was really interested in a subscription for himself, but he did enjoy the purchase I made for him from the Men’s Birch Box Shop. I bought him the Teroforma Whisky Stones® MAX – as whiskey is his favorite drink – and a container of Mr. Natty Presents Frank’s Beard Elixir. I also chose the Birchbox Man Pick Two Sample Pac (Free with $25 purchase) which I received free with my purchase and I added the Birchbox Koozies (free with $30 purchase.) Plus it shipped free!

Father's Day Gift Idea - Wood Grain Beer Koozies with ZippersThe Birchbox Koozies, which I wasn’t expecting to be that great since they were a free product, are actually really cool. They look so much nicer in person and have that awesome wood grain motif that’s currently trending. They also have zippers on the back to zip the koozie snuggly around your beer or beverage.

Have you ever tried a sample program – either Birch Box  or another company? What was your take?

DIY Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas – Pint Sized Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas You Can Make and Buy

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Sometimes the smallest gifts mean the most. One of my favorite things to shop for at Christmas is stocking stuffer gifts because sometimes the biggest gifts are the easiest. To fit something very special inside a stocking it can’t be too large, but it can be more meaningful. Following are some of my favorite ideas for handmade stocking stuffer gifts for women and girls that you can make yourself or purchase from a handmade artisan.

DIY Handmade Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas

DIY Handmade Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas - Handmade Stocking Stuffers You Can Make for Christmas Gifts

Handmade Stocking Stuffer Gifts for Women

Holiday Handmade Christmas Gift Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Women and Girls
If you enjoyed this selection of gift ideas, please check out my other Holiday Gift Guides and Christmas Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas for things you can craft and things you can buy to support handmade. You can also follow me on Pinterest. And don’t forget to check out my own shop, Rebecca’s Soap Delicatessen, for handmade bath and body products all perfectly sized for stocking stuffer gifts!

The Bath, Beauty and Home Fragrance Giveaway

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Some of my favorite handmade products are those geared toward bath, beauty and home. Therefore I thought it’d be fun to offer a giveaway to my readers for a chance to win a selection of handmade products within those categories! To put this contest together, I joined up with three other great artisans – Blackberry Thyme, Still Water Candles, and Face. Body. Feet. One lucky winner will receive handmade products from all three of these shops along with a selection of handmade soaps from my own shop, Rebecca’s Soap Delicatessen.
Handmade White Tea and Ginger Goat Milk Soap from Rebecca's Soap Delicatessen

Rebecca’s Soap Delicatessen was founded in 2001 after my handmade soap addiction got the best of me. I specialize in creating handmade shea butter soaps and lotions. When I’m not whipping up soaps, I love to listen to local live music, visit my city’s farmer’s market, read when time allows, and come up with fun and crafty new DIY projects for my blog, Soap Deli News. I am a proud single mother of a teenage son who is both a talented soccer player and a new driver in training. (He got his learner’s permit this summer!)

For this contest, I’ll be giving away three of my newest handmade soap bars – Handmade Lemon and Basil Shea Butter Soap, Handmade White Tea and Ginger Goat Milk Soap, and Handmade Coconut and Lime Goat Milk Soap. ($18 value.) In addition, you can also save an extra 25% off all sale products from Rebecca’s Soap Delicatessen when you use coupon code: BACKTOSCHOOL through September 30th, 2012. Buy as much as you want and never pay more than $6 in shipping!

Handmade Pumpkin Spice Soy Candle from Blackberry Thyme

Teresa, of Blackberry Thyme, is offering one of her luscious, Handmade Pumpkin Spice Soy Candles as a prize! ($8 value.) Heavily scented and dye free, this hand poured clean burning candle is a rich fragrance blend of cinnamon and clove with vanilla and coconut. (Be sure to read my review of Teresa’s candles that I posted a while back after making a purchase from her!)

Teresa opened her shop, Blackberry Thyme, in November 2007 as a way to create extra income for her family. She has always loved sewing and crafting and Blackberry Thyme allowed her the chance to be creative and remain a single, stay at home mom to her two children. Teresa specializes in hand crafting eco-friendly 100% soy wax candles, wax melts and handmade soaps. You can find her products both on Artfire and Bonanza.

Handmade Pamper Herbal Facial Steam from Face. Body. Feet.

Jacqueline, of Face. Body. Feet., is giving away one of her natural, herbal facial steams! The Pamper Herbal Steam consists of natural botanicals including chamomile, rose buds, lemongrass, passionflower, orange peel, and jasmine flowers blended together for a deep aromatic facial cleanse when added to boiling water. ($8 value.)

Jacqueline got her start into natural beauty after discovering Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Craftsin the library one summer.  Within it’s pages was a simple, natural bath tea recipe that Jacqueline thought would be fun to make. She purchased the herbal ingredients she needed for the recipe, and then made several lavender bath tea bags for her and her husband to try. All she remembers about that night was that she slept like a baby.

During Jacqueline’s research for natural ingredients and recipes, she discovered Etsy, an entire online marketplace for handcrafted items. After visiting Etsy’s bath and body section and seeing all of the great products people were offering, the seed was planted and Jacqueline started her own natural bath and body business, Face. Body. Feet.

Handmade Lilac Air Freshener in Jelly Jar from Still Water Candles

Janelle, of Still Water Candles, is sponsoring two of her delightfully scented Jelly Jar Air Fresheners for this giveaway – one in Lilac and one in Vanilla Sugar. These 4oz. air fresheners come in a cute jelly jar with a daisy cut lid to let the fragrance out. These air fresheners make the perfect substitute for areas where you can’t burn candles such as the dormitories, cars, or the office. They last much longer than candles and make adorable gifts. ($16 value.) Make any purchase from Still Water Candles through October 31, 2012 and use coupon code: 20FallSale to receive 20% off your purchase.

Janelle is 22 years old and recently graduated with a math degree. When she’s not making candles she enjoys reading, cooking, and walking her dog. Her shop, Still Water Candles, started out solely as a candle shop. However, since it’s conception, it has slowly evolved to also include sachets, air fresheners, and reed diffusers. She named her shop after one of her favorite verses, Psalm 23:2-3: “He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul.”

The total prize value of this contest is $50. If you’d like a chance to win, simply enter via Rafflecopter below through September 28, 2012. This contest is open to USA residents only, ages 18 and up.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Handmade Artisan Candles from Blackberry Thyme

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I’ve been on the hunt for some good quality candles for a while. I’d bought some recently from a local artist, but found they didn’t really put off a noticeable fragrance and they burned unevenly leaving one of the three wicks melted into the candle permanently no matter what I did to try to rectify the situation. Glade candles seem to work well, but they are so small and seem to burn through rather quickly. And Yankee Candles – they are just so expensive and many of the fragrances set my allergies off. So I started hunting for another artisan candle supplier and found Blackberry Thyme.
Artisan Handmade Mulberry Scented Soy Candle from Blackberry Thyme
Initially I inquired on the size of the candles from Blackberry Thyme as it wasn’t noted in the listings. The response I received back from the artisan behind Blackberry Thyme, Teresa,  was not only quick, but a little unexpected. Apparently I was one of the people who had inspired her to go into soapmaking which was both flattering and entirely coincidental. But it definitely provided that extra little push to give her handmade candles a try. All of Teresa’s candles are 8oz. The cotton wick candles run $8 each while the wooden wick candles are $9 a piece. Even with shipping I found her prices to be comparable to the price of a quality commercial candle. I decided to try Teresa’s wooden wick candles since I’d never tried this style of candle before. I was excited by the fact that her candles are made with soy wax – which is my preference for a long, clean burn – and that these candles have an especially long burn time of 100 hours or more. So I bought two candles to try – Mulberry and Cinnamon.
Handmade Wooden Wick Soy Candle from Blackberry Thyme
Teresa shipped my candles out quickly via USPS Priority Mail. They arrived several days later, well packaged and smelling fabulous. I found that getting the wooden wick to burn the first time did take a little longer than traditional cotton wick candles. But once the wick caught the candles burned beautifully and filled the room with their respective fragrances. I burned the mulberry scented candle in the living room and the cinnamon scented candle in the kitchen. I burned both for several hours and it hardly put a dent in the candles – a testament to the long burn time. Relighting the candles for a second and third go was a cinch after the initial lighting – just like lighting any other candle and they smelled simply wonderful. I am also a fan of the mason jars the candles come in. They are super cute jars with great little tin lids that will prove perfect for upcycling for future crafty projects of my own. Start to finish I am in love with the candles from Blackberry Thyme! I will definitely be purchasing more of these candles in the future. The quality is amazing and the pricing is reasonable making them great for both everyday use and for gifting. So if you’re like me and love a truly great candle, be sure to check out the selection at Blackberry Thyme and tell Teresa I sent you!

DIY Eco-Friendly Soy Wax Candles – Great for Favors and Gifts

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Despite the fact that I make my own homemade soaps, I’ve always been a little intimidated about making candles. Not to mention with the increasing costs for raw materials for soapmaking ingredients and continuously rising shipping prices, I’ve been reluctant to invest in buying wax for DIY eco-friendly soy wax candles because of the high shipping costs due to the sheer weight of the product.

However, after discovering a little DIY for making handmade soy candles for less than a dollar each (not including the cost of the container) I think I may just give candle making a try.

DIY Eco-Friendly Soy Wax Candles for Your Home! These hand poured candles also make great for Wedding Favors and Homemade Gifts! Learn how to make your own easy DIY eco-friendly soy wax candles with this simple candlemaking craft project from Ruffled blog!

DIY Eco-Friendly Soy Wax Candles

Ruffled Blog has an excellent diy tutorial for making eco-friendly soy candles on the cheap. While they suggest giving these as wedding favors, you could also make these for your own home use or for gift giving over the holidays or for other special occasions like birthdays or Mother’s Day.

This candle making project calls for natural soy wax flakes, cotton wicks, a fragrance oil, and a recycled glass container of your choice. You can buy matching containers on the cheap at the dollar or second hand store if you prefer. But your container won’t cost a dime if you upcycle an existing container you already have such as a mason or jelly jar.