An experiment in meatless

laelene Posted in reviews,Tags: , , ,

I got involved with BzzAgent towards the end of last year and recently started getting some offers through it!  It’s been pretty exciting and I wanted to share my first FREE product: MorningStar Farms veggie burgers. I was sent a coupon for a free box and I opted for a very delicious-looking Grillers Chick’n Veggie Patties.  Since my mom was home, it took me awhile to finally getting around to cooking for myself and it turned out great!

collage of cooking up morningstar farms grillers chick'n veggie pattyI made a quick and easy stir fry with two Grillers Chick’n patties, some bean sprouts, and some wood ears (so very Chinese of me).  I liked that the packaging was split up into two separate plastic bags so I don’t have to worry about the other two patties getting frosty.  When I first opened the plastic bag, the smell of the patties made my mouth water!  It doesn’t really need any extra seasoning at all.  When I got to cutting, I realized that I probably needed a sharper knife since I got a bit of mush as the patty defrosted.  Apparently butter knives don’t cut it (haha).

So here’s my oh so simple recipe, Chinese style (aka no exact measurements)…


1-2 MorningStar Farms Veggie Patties in the flavor of your choice (depends on your appetite – one is plenty for lunch and two is great for dinner or to share)

2 handfuls of veggies chopped up and ready to stir fry

1 dollop of soy sauce (if you must add some stronger flavor)


1. Chop up the patties & veggies into bite-size pieces.

2. Heat up a wok or stir fry pan and dump in all ingredients.

3. Stir around so nothing burns and turn down heat low if needed.

4. After stirring for awhile, throw on the extra sauce as desired.

5. Turn off burner and enjoy with rice, rice porridge, or alone!

Yup, and that’s how cooking goes in my household.  It came out pretty well, though with the strong flavor, I didn’t need the soy sauce.  I definitely want to try it as a burger next time.  You should give it a try sometime too! 🙂

Blissmobox: Anniversary special

laelene Posted in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ah, the anniversary box.  This is what got me into this whole subscription box thing – a fateful email that I received telling me that if I subscribed for a year, I’d get free shipping on the boxes AND a bonus 13th special edition box.

blissmobox is just under $25 per month with shipping (or as discounted as just under $120 for 6 months – as you can see, they used to offer an annual subscription but that is gone) and comes with eco-friendly products in themes like beauty, snacks, home, pets, and more. Each month you choose from two or three themes, or skip if none of them appeal to you. They do not offer a referral program.

email from blissmo announcing blissmobox anniversary offer

I just couldn’t resist so I decided to sign up for a subscription.  Here’s what ultimately came in that anniversary box:

contents of blissmobox anniversary edition including eco logical sunscreen, peeled snacks apple-2-the-core, bates water filtration bottle with blissmo logo, all terrain insect repellent, and neutrogena naturals night cream

Not pictured: ecover dishwasher tablets

collage of peeled snacks apple-2-the-core dried fruit snackPeeled Snacks gently dried fruit, Apple-2-the-core – I’m not usually a huge fan of apples, but I ate these up pretty fast!  I love that they’re just apples, plain and simple.  They’re slightly sweet and so light that they’re really the perfect snack when you want a little something but don’t want too much sugar.

collage of all terrain herbal armor insect repellentAll Terrain insect repellent, Herbal Armor spray – As you can see, it comes out a rich milky white, but rubs on clear.  There’s a strong herbal, almost medicinal scent that’s sure to keep bugs away.  Maybe I just haven’t used it enough to loosen up the nozzle, but it always comes out more liquidy than misty for me.

collage of bates water filtration bottle with blissmo brandingBayes water filtration bottle, blissmo branded – This is a fun water bottle with filter built into the cap.  The nice thing is when you’re on the go, you just put tap water in and by the time it reaches your lips, the water has been filtered for you.  That way you can bring an empty bottle wherever you go and just get water from any restroom sink.  Or if you’re particularly impatient, you don’t have to wait and watch as the water trickles through your normal filter – just start gulping!

eco logical skin care sunscreen, for body – I didn’t realize it at first, but this product was actually on my “to try someday” list after I learned about it through Daily Grommet.  I’m looking forward to using it on my day out or vacation since I don’t really get much sun otherwise.  I haven’t opened it yet since I want to preserve it until I’m ready to use it, but I’d imagine its consistency to be something like toothpaste.

collage of neutrogena naturals multi-vitamin night creamNeutrogena Naturals skincare, multi-vitamin nourishing night cream – I’ve been using this every night after I shower.  It’s definitely a thick, creamy face cream that hydrates my skin.  I also love the light, slightly sweet smell it has, which is soothing and relaxing.  I had no idea that Neutrogena had a new line of natural products, so it was cool to be introduced to that and hopefully they’ll expand the line to take over the original products eventually.

collage of ecover dishwasher tablets sampleecover natural cleaning products, automatic dishwasher tablets – I don’t actually use the dishwasher to wash dishes, so I’m still trying to figure out what to do with these samples.  I guess I could use the dishwasher just to try them out, but I’m not sure I even know how to operate the thing.  Maybe I’ll just try dissolving them into the water I use to wash the dishes.


Overall this was a random box with no real theme, but it provided a nice introduction to more eco-friendly products in many categories.


Blissmobox: Skin ‘n’ Hair Care

laelene Posted in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ready for the belated August blissmobox low-down?  Here goes!  The options for that month were Skin ‘n’ Hair Care, Lunchbox Snacks, or Pristine & Clean.

blissmobox is just under $25 per month with shipping (or as discounted as just under $120 for 6 months) and comes with eco-friendly products in themes like beauty, snacks, home, pets, and more. Each month you choose from two or three themes, or skip if none of them appeal to you. They do not offer a referral program.

the choices for august's blissmobox: skin'n'hair care, lunchbox snacks, or pristine & clean

The three choices for the August blissmobox.

Since I had just gotten a box of snacks and I wasn’t particularly interested in excuses for cleaning, the beauty box was perfect!  When I opened the box, I was greeted by a sampling of items for just about any skincare need, ranging from practical to pampering.

collage of august skin 'n' hair care blissmobox contents


collage of wellinhand action remedies therapy oilWellinhand Action Remedies, Therapy Oil – The most practical of them all, this little oil is great for all kinds of skin conditions ranging from cuts and burns to soreness and pain.  I haven’t really had any skin conditions that I can test it out on, but the soothing herbal scent with a slight hint of sweetness already indicates to me it has some of the healing properties of herbs.  I almost didn’t see the sample when I was looking at the info sheet, so it would have been nice if there had been a more decent size included.

collage of mychelle pumpkin renewal face and neck cream unscentedMyChelle Dermaceuticals Pumpkin Renew Cream, Unscented – This is a rich and creamy face and neck cream that is gentle and soothing.  It has a thicker consistency than a lot of other moisturizers and even feels a a bit elastic.  It’s really nice!  I also love that the pumpkins they use come from their very own garden (or so it says).

collage of hugo naturals all over lotion in comforting vanilla & sweet orange scentHugo Naturals All Over Lotion, Comforting Vanilla & Sweet Orange – Can you say YUMMY?!  The combination of the sweet and citrus elements in this lotion remind me of a delicious orange cupcake!  It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling whenever I put it on and it’s almost like getting a dose of comfort food.

collage of giovanni brazilian keratin & argan oil ultra-sleek shampooGiovanni Eco Chic Hair Care, Brazilian Keratin & Argan Oil Ultra-Sleek Shampoo – This shampoo has a really nice smell that I think is something like macadamia nut?  I can’t quite pinpoint it, but it’s familiar and nutty.  The shampoo is pretty runny as you can see, but it’s also creamy and rich.  I love the subtle sweet scent that lingers and makes using this shampoo feel like a luxurious experience!

collage of la fresh eco-beauty instant body soother towelettes in natural peppermint scentLa Fresh eco-beauty, Instant Body Soother – I wasn’t too sure what to do with a “body soother” at first, but then I discovered that it is PERFECT for after a workout.  The minty smell gets deep in your lungs to really refresh while it cools and soothes your skin!  It’s downright pampering.  😉  These moist towelettes are just moist enough to gently clean away some of the grime on your skin, yet aren’t so wet that you have to wait for the residue to evaporate.  La Fresh is really water-conscious in how they produce their products, which I totally love!


If you’d like more info on these brands, you can click below to enlarge the photo and read more.

collage of blissmobox skin 'n' hair care info sheet


Yuzen August 2012 edition

laelene Posted in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wondering about the second Yuzen box?  Never fear!  I’m here to show you what came in it and give you the low-down on each item.  This time around, the color scheme was yellow and there were six fantastic brands included.

Yuzen is $26 per month and comes with around 5 or 6 eco-friendly beauty, skincare, food/snacks, and home products. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. Sometimes there’s a waitlist to get the subscription. They do not offer a referral program.

collage of products included in the august 2012 yuzen box

collage of unwrapping of august 2012 yuzen box

Click on the pictures for the full sizes so you can enjoy all the details of each product!  You can even zoom in to read all the messaging.

collage of mrs. meyer's lemon verbena all purpose soap bar included in the august 2012 yuzen boxMrs. Meyer’s Clean Day – Lemon Verbena All Purpose Soap Bar:  As I was opening the box, I got a hint of this soap bar’s clean scent wafting up.  It’s a huge full-size bar that will last me a LONG time!  The wrapping was a nice smooth texture and it wasn’t glued too strongly together, so opening the packaging was actually a pleasant experience.  I’d heard great things about Mrs. Meyer’s products, so I was pretty happy to get a chance to try it out.  The soap suds nicely and gently cleans your entire body.

collage of cowgirl desert recovery cleanser included in the august 2012 yuzen boxCowgirl Skincare – Desert Recovery Cleanser:  This is a fun new brand I hadn’t encountered before!  The smell of the face wash is soothing and slightly sweet – maybe rose?  It’s perfect for washing away whatever managed to accumulate on your face and doesn’t strip your skin of moisture.  It’s meant for dry, aging, or sensitive skin but it’s useful for any type of skin.  The container reminds me of elixirs from a Western (or maybe it’s just because their name is Cowgirl :-P).  Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, anyone?

collage of organic india teas included in the august 2012 yuzen box - tulsi original, tulsi lemon ginger, tulsi sweet rose, and tulsi sleep flavorsOrganic India – Tulsi Original, Lemon Ginger, Sweet Rose, & Sleep teas:  I enjoyed each one of these Tulsi teas!  I’ve never heard of Tulsi before, so I was definitely intrigued by this “holy basil of India” that is incorporated in Ayurvedic practices.  It’s apparently popular as an herbal remedy and has both general health and medicinal values.

collage of organic india tulsi teas included in the august 2012 yuzen box brewing
It didn’t taste much different to me than normal teas, so it’d be easy to substitute them in while still enjoying the taste of tea, yet getting the added (healing) benefits of tulsi.  With a name meaning “the incomparable one” how could you not give it a whirl too?

collage of coola cucumber mineral sunscreen for face included in the august 2012 yuzen boxCoola Suncare – Cucumber Mineral Sunscreen for Face:  Haha!  Funny that just like the first Yuzen box, I happen to already use one of the products included.  This is that particular product from this box and I’m more than happy for another!  In fact, I happen to have one at Panda’s and one at my parents’ now so I can protect my face wherever “home” is.  The cucumber scent is so relaxing and the sunscreen absorbs into the skin well, with no greasy layer to worry about.  It’s perfect for your face and hands.  Don’t forget to apply it to your neck too, if it’ll be exposed!

collage of olomomo nut co chai bliss almonds included in the august 2012 yuzen boxOlomomo Nut Co – Chai Bliss Almonds:  Oh yum!  Talk about wonderfully fragrant and oh so delicious.  These almonds are covered in a sweet layer of vanilla and cardamom flavoring that is just delightful.  I don’t normally like to eat nuts, but if they all came like this, I could definitely incorporate them into my routine!  Plus, who doesn’t want a product made with love?  (See ingredient list, hehe.)

collage of tilvee healing balm included in the august 2012 yuzen boxTilveeCalendula & Comfrey Healing Balm:  WOW.  Not only do I love the usefulness of this product, it smells wonderful too!  I can hardly get enough of it.  It’s basically what you’d put on for anything adverse that happens to your skin, whether it be cuts and scrapes, rashes or sunburn, even plain old dry patches!  Not long after getting it, I actually got a scratch and I applied it until my skin healed.  Worked great, though it’s not meant for eliminating scars.  Still, my skin would have scarred horribly had it not been for this healing balm.  I’m obsessed and I use it on just about all skin conditions that ail me.  Oh, and I absolutely love that it comes in stick form for easy application and ultimate portability!

Yuzen July 2012 edition

laelene Posted in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wow, another month is upon us and I think it’s high time I shared what exactly came in that first Yuzen box that I was so thrilled about.  I must say, it set the bar high and really got me pumped for what’s to come, month after month.  Luckily, they definitely didn’t disappoint with their second one in August and I’m confident that the upcoming September box will impress me yet again.  Not only did I get quality products that look good, smell good, and make me feel good, I can feel safe using them knowing that they’ve been vetted for environmental & health factors.

Yuzen is $26 per month and comes with around 5 or 6 eco-friendly beauty, skincare, food/snacks, and home products. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. Sometimes there’s a waitlist to get the subscription. They do not offer a referral program.

Click on the pictures for the full sizes so you can enjoy all the details of each product!  You can even zoom in to read all the messaging.

collage of lotus wei energy mists included in the july 2012 yuzen box - three scents: infinite love, joy juice, and quiet mindLotus Wei Energy Mists – Joy Juice, Infinite Love & Quiet Mind:  These lovely scents were first to entice my senses.  There were three of the six variations, with each meant for encouraging a different kind of energy.  Joy Juice is tangy and bright (how do they manage to make a scent smell “bright” right? Yet somehow that’s exactly what it is).  I’m guessing that the citrus elements are what make it that way.  Infinite Love is sweet and warming with various rose elements.  Meanwhile, Quiet mind is fresh and gentle with a certain kind of herb-y fragrance.  Each is definitely fittingly named for its purpose.  Interestingly enough, I actually prefer to mix the scents rather than use them individually to enhance a certain element.

collage of kopali organics mulberries included in the july 2012 yuzen boxKopali Organics – Mulberry:  I tried these as soon as I was done taking pictures of all the products in the box (boy, it’s tiring work!).  They’re soft and chewy, with a little bit of crispness from the seeds.  They kind of reminded me of something I can’t quite place… they’re sweet and tangy with a little bit of an aftertaste/feel.  You know that slight itchiness you get in your throat sometimes?  Yeah, that’s what happened to me.  Overall I liked them, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy them.  Definitely a nice little sweet snack to pop in your mouth in lieu of something more sugary like candy.

collage of primavera revitalizing face scrub included in the july 2012 yuzen box with couponPrimaveraRevitalizing Face Scrub:  To start with, this bottle looks and feels great!  I love it when it’s pleasing just to pick up an item.  Plus, I was really drawn to the interesting cap it has – very unique design that I appreciate.  The scrub makes use of jojoba wax beads, whatever that means (they feel wonderful).  The beads are a nice tiny size and very smooth; I don’t feel like my skin is being sanded away.

collage of teatulia teas included in the july 2012 yuzen box - lemongrass and white tea flavorsTeatuliaLemongrass & White Tea:  I am a huge tea fan, so I definitely appreciated getting to try a new brand that’s so ec0-friendly to boot!  I LOVE the fact that the bag and pyramid pouch that the tea come in are compostable, which means I can bury everything the tea came in.  The lemongrass flavor was just fragrant enough without being too grassy and the white tea flavor was a nice tea that you could brew a little darker or lighter to preference.  Both went down smooth and were well-put together.  Plus, the silky pyramid bags are totally fun.  Also good that they don’t use those bleached strings, which I hear leave a LOT of waste in landfills (more than you’d ever imagine a little bit of string could cause).

collage of people towels handtowel in bee sweet design included in the july 2012 yuzen boxPeopleTowelsBee Sweet:  Ah this is SO adorable!!  I love it, and as you can see in the top right of the collage, I actually have two of these already from my days with Opportunity Green.  There are so many places you can keep a little hand/face towel handy though, so I could always use an extra.  Plus with this cute messaging, it brings a smile to my face every time.

collage of himalasalt himalayan pink salt included in the july 2012 yuzen boxHimalaSalt – Fine Grain Shaker:  I’m a sucker for things that come in mini and I this falls under that category!  I really enjoy the smaller size salt shaker and for the longest time I didn’t want to open it and ruin it.  When it came time, I used a chopstick to poke it in and tasted it raw… I’d call it “earthy” (in addition to salty of course).  Compared to idoized salt, this is more pure and you can taste the grounded element in it.

And finally, if you’re interested in reading the message from Ted & Jen and the info they included about each product, click on this image and zoom in.

collage of introduction message and information sheet included in the july 2012 yuzen box


Blissmobox: Blissful Bites

laelene Posted in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , , , , ,

After much anticipation, I’ve finally gotten to enjoy my very first blissmobox!  This is the July box and I chose the Blissful Bites option to get my snack on.

blissmobox is just under $25 per month with shipping (or as discounted as just under $120 for 6 months) and comes with eco-friendly products in themes like beauty, snacks, home, pets, and more. Each month you choose from two or three themes, or skip if none of them appeal to you. They do not offer a referral program.

the choices for july's blissmobox: naturally hers, naturally his, or blissful bites

The three choices for the July blissmobox.

Inside, I found seven great items: 479° Popcorn, Beanitos chips, Crunchmaster crackers, Betty Lou’s cereal bar, Braga Farms pistachios, Giddy Up granola, and Panda licorice.  It’s a nice mix of sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy, all with plenty of flavor and goodness to boot.

collage of july blissful bites blissmobox with contents slowly unveiled

collage of 479 popcorn in black truffle and white cheddar flavor479° Popcorn, Black Truffle & White Cheddar – I’m actually not a huge fan of popcorn, so it’s a feat that I actually liked this one. The flavor hits you after you eat some and inhale… it’s very rich and a bit overwhelming, but strangely addicting. I’ve never really cared for truffles but this gives me just enough of the flavor without making me queasy.

collage of beanitos black bean chips in chipotle bbq flavorBeanitos black bean chips, Chipotle BBQ – These are so much like corn chips I’d never miss the old stuff. Great taste and crunch factor, though the chipotle BBQ flavor was a bit spicy for my sensitive taste. Still, I enjoyed them and would eat them despite the stomachache.

collage of crunchmaster multi-seed crackers in original flavorCrunchmaster multi-seed crackers, Original – Talk about extremely crunchy! These rice crackers offer a satisfying crackle as you eat them. They are tasty on their own, and probably awesome with dip.

collage of betty lou's justgreatstuff cereal bar in superberry acai flavorBetty Lou’s JustGreatStuff cereal bar, Superberry Açaí – Moist and luscious, with bits of fruit to chew on and a gentle sweetness. These are so much better than other cereal or energy bars! If I needed an on-the-go snack I’d totally have to get these.

collage of braga farms pistachios in salted flavorBraga Farms organic pistachios, roast & salted – I’ve never been particular to pistachios so I don’t lean either way with these. They taste much like other pistachios I’ve had and they’re organic, so that gives them bonus points!

collage of giddy up and go granola in notoriously nutty flavorGiddy Up & GO granola, Notoriously Nutty – Wow! I have never actually been excited to eat granola, but one bite of this and I was shocked into a smile. I think it’s the cinnamon that gives it a delicious sweetness, coupled with the slightly soft chewiness that makes this so good. This isn’t the dried-out, washed-up granola you may be used to.

collage of panda licorice in blueberry flavorPanda licorice, Blueberry – I took a bite and was surprised that this was a rather dry treat. I despise normal black licorice so I was reluctant to try this, but then I love blueberry-flavored things, so I gave it a shot. It has a nice mild flavor and kind of reminds me of a blueberry fruit strip or soft granola bar. There is a slight lingering taste of licorice but nothing too strong.

If you’d like more info on these brands, you can click below to enlarge the photo and read more.

information on brands included in blissmobox's july edition blissful bites

Yuzen: my first subscription box!

laelene Posted in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , ,

I’m beyond thrilled that I finally got a package today!  Exactly one month ago, I first got into this whole subscription craze and ordered the anniversary special from blissmobox.  Unfortunately, that meant that I’d have to wait until early to mid-August to get my first shipment (and I have been waiting rather impatiently).  Luckily, a few days ago I came across Yuzen when I was checking up on one of the blogs I follow.  Everything about this brand appealed to me – the name, the aesthetics, the eco-friendliness of their choices, even their messaging!  I tried really hard to resist, but honestly I couldn’t.  When I caved, I decided that I wanted this to be a special gift from my boyfriend (haha :-P).  So, I brought it up to him and spent some time convincing him.  I’m an extremely persuasive person, so of course I got my way and he put in the order to get this box indefinitely – yippee!

I feel really fortunate that they still had July boxes available and the very next day, my package was sent out!  Now it’s a mere three days later and I got a wonderful surprise at my front door.  🙂  It’s a good thing that a thunderstorm came rolling by, since I only discovered the package when I went to bring in the chairs from outside.  Either the post lady didn’t ring the doorbell, or all three of us in the house missed it.  Anyway, I’ll stop babbling so much and share some pictures, which I was very obsessive about taking.  I meticulously documented just about every single move I made.  Another day I’ll go into why I instantly loved Yuzen so much.  Today it’s all about joy and happiness and fulfillment and excitement and… ok ok, on with it:

collage of yuzen july box from arrival on doorstep to opening of box

They make it so beautiful! The experience of opening the box is worth savoring.

Upon opening the box, a fantastic scent wafted up – I nearly rushed through the opening process to get to it, but I took a deep breath instead.  After all, this is all about bringing a little zen (and happiness) to my day, so why not take it slowly and truly appreciate every little thing?  The inside card includes a lovely message from founders Jen & Ted about the wonders of summer, which inspired July’s theme of “bringing joy, discovery and a celebration for the senses.”  They sure did accomplish that!  I also got a wonderful surprise when I saw the note from Panda (the boyfriend): “This is for my Panda Bear: a monthly commitment to a happy relationship.”  Yay!  <3

collage of yuzen july box including ribbon, yuzen paper, and info card

I can’t wait to re-purpose the decorations, especially the Yuzen paper (which I will turn into origami jewelry to be sold at Panda Loves)!  When you open up the card, there’s information on each of the brands included in the box, as well as why they chose it.  I definitely appreciate this information and soaked it all in.

collage of yuzen july box taken apart layer by layer until all products visible

I carefully took the products out item by item until I found them all.  There are Lotus Wei flower essence mists to help you connect with your inner beauty, a Primavera facial scrub to renew your skin, some Himala Salt for a pure addition to your meals, Teatulia teas to enjoy an organic & healthy beverage, a People Towels hand towel to save the world from paper towels, and Kopali Organics mulberries as a superfood snack.  I absolutely love these products; what a great selection from Yuzen!  I’ll reserve my opinions on the products for some other posts before this one gets too long.  Excuse me while I go try them all!  🙂

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