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Check here frequently for new product reviews. I will be sharing my thoughts on all sorts of products and companies. All thoughts are my own unless otherwise noted. While there may be some items that are gifted from companies, I promise to give my honest opinion.


Product Review: Amazon Prime Coffee & Tea Sample Box

2018-03-20 12:45:20 karenmsmith77

If you caught my post a few weeks back all about the benefits of Amazon Prime, I told you I would be starting to review some of the products and service only available through Amazon Prime. That day has arrived. I am starting with some of the sample boxes available. I want to reiterate, these are only available to Amazon Prime members.

When you purchase a sample or sample box on Amazon, the amount you spend is credited to your account after your sample ships. Once you receive your samples you can log in and select to use your credit on a list of approved items.

Today we are looking at the Coffee & Tea Sample Box.

Amazon Prime Coffee & Tea Sample Box

How It Arrived

Each sample box is shipped in its own individual box. They come in the usual brown box, but are marked Amazon Sample Box. This particular one was rather on the plain side compared to the others I have ordered. Some are quite elaborately designed, as you will see in upcoming reviews. This box was by far the heaviest out of the sample boxes I have ordered.

What Was Included

The coffee and tea sample box is unique because you are actually getting full size products. But they are available in other sizes and in cases. The page description says you get six or more items in this box, and that samples may vary. Here is what came in mine:

1 illy Caffe Unsweetened, 6.8 fl oz

1 illy Cappuccino, 8.45 fl oz

1 Gold Peak Chai Tea Latte, Vanilla, 14 Fluid Ounce

1 Gold Peak Coffee Drink, Almond Toffee, 14 Fluid Ounce

1 Java Monster, Mean Bean, 15 Ounce

1 Honest Tea (Organic Unsweet Peach Ginger Tea, 16.9-Ounce Bottle

1 Honest Tea (Organic Honey Green Tea, 16.9-Ounce Bottle


I actually got the exact drinks pictured in the listing, and there is a good chance you will too.

My Thoughts After Trying Products

For this box, I thought that based on the picture that as long as I got at least one tea drink I was pretty sure I would like something in this sample box. And as you can see I got two tea drinks.

I did at least tasted everything in the box except the Monster drink, I already know I don’t like those. But my husband doesn’t like Monster, so I passed that to him. He said he preferred his regular flavor. Before I tell you my thoughts on the other products, I want to make it clear, this is not a statement on whether these products are good or not. It is just my personal taste and dietary needs.

The first things I tried were the two Gold Peak coffee drinks. I wasn’t really a fan of either of them. They were too sweet for my taste. Way sweeter than anything I have tried from Starbucks. So maybe if you can’t find coffee drinks that are sweet enough for you, these may be a good choice for you.

I then tried both of the Honest teas. The unsweet Peach Ginger tea was a bit of a disappointment for me. I thought that with the peach flavor there, it shouldn’t need sugar added. I was unfortunately wrong. I even tried adding a bit of sugar myself, but it just didn’t seem to help it. The Honey Green Tea however was my favorite thing in the box. I have had a similar product from another brand that I also enjoy, so I am not surprised that this was the favorite.

Finally I tried the two drinks from illy. I again was not a fan of the unsweetened caffe drink. I felt a bit torn on the Cappuccino drink though. I liked the initial taste, but there was an overwhelming metallic after-taste. I can’t help but think that if this drink were stored in a different type of container this might have been my favorite drink. But as it was I couldn’t drink it with that after-taste.

How Using Your Credit Works

Once you have tried all of your samples, or really anytime after receiving you sample box, you can log into your account to find your credit. Now I initially found it a little difficult to find where the credit was located. If you also are having a difficult time, then there are two ways to get to your credit. If you already have a link to the Amazon Sample page that is the most direct way to get to it, and I have linked to that page for you at the beginning of this post.

If however you do not have the direct link to the samples page, then the easiest way to get to that page is by going to the list of your orders in your account. Find the sample box in the list and click on it. At the top of all samples, and sample box, pages there is a link to the sample pages.

Once you arrive at the sample page there will be a box in the top left corner that tells you how much credit you have and link to take you to the redemption page. When you get to the page to redeem your credit there is also a link that says see all products that qualify for redemption. I found with this box there was more variety in flavors and product sizes to choose from than what came in the box.

What I Chose

I think you probably won’t be surprised that I ordered tea. I didn’t just order one tea, I ordered a variety of the Honest Teas. Of course a couple of those were the Honey Green Tea. I don’t know about all of the options, but the ones I chose were only available through Amazon Prime Pantry, so that is something to keep in mind with this box.

Once you make your selections the sample box will still be viewable through your orders list, but it will say it is no longer available. These are one time purchases.


Tell me in the comments if you have tried this sample box or any of the products in it. What did you like/not like?


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Posted in: ReviewsTagged in: AmazonAmazon coffee & tea sample boxamazon primeamazon reviewamazon sample boxamazon sample box reviewamazon samplescoffeecoffee & tea sample boxdrinksproduct reviewreviewsamplesteaAmazon Prime Coffee & Tea Sample Box Read more... 0 comments

Product Review: Not Your Mother's Blue Sea Kale & Pure Coconut Water Sea Minerals Shampoo and Conditioner

2018-02-28 12:35:57 karenmsmith77

I am on a personal mission this year to find a shampoo and conditioner that both works for my hair type and for my sensitive scalp. To be more specific, I need something to help with my contact dermatitis. I want to go beyond not causing an allergic reaction and find something that will actually help the skin on my scalp.

To keep these reviews relevant to more people than just those with a Balsam of Peru allergy or some other sort of fragrance allergy, in addition to general information about the shampoo each review will be broken down into sections. I will do half of the review just based on how effective it is at cleansing, price, ease of use, etc.. The second part of each review will be based on the effects on my allergy as well as discussion of ingredients used.

I am of mixed heritage, and I don’t have typical white girl hair. My hair is very thick and coarse. It tends to be very dry, and can turn brittle if I wash it too often or don’t condition it enough. But my hair is reasonably healthy outside of that, as I do not use heat on it very often and I try to take care of it to the best of my ability.

My scalp goes back and forth between dry and oily depending on the time of the year and the products I have used. My biggest struggle with my scalp is from the allergic contact dermatitis. This causes a dry, scaley, itchy coverage on the scalp that looks a lot like dandruff. I have never been able to get it fully cleared up on my scalp. At its worst, when I have a reaction to something, it also burns and can blister.

Now that we have covered the basics of what I am looking for in a shampoo and conditioner and what I my particular needs are, lets take a look at the actual shampoo and conditioner we are reviewing today.

The Product

Not Your Mother's Blue Sea Kale & Pure Coconut Water Sea Minerals Shampoo and Conditioner

This is the Not Your Mother’s Blue Sea Kale & Pure Coconut Water Sea Minerals Shampoo and Conditioner. I bought mine online at, but it is also available in most Ulta stores as well as Walgreens. Each 16 oz. bottle sells for $8.99, at least at Ulta.

I decided to give this set a try because of several reasons. I have had previous good experiences with the Not Your Mother’s Brand, I just hadn’t tried any of their shampoos and conditioners. I also have had relatively good experiences with the main ingredients. Coconut is always good for my skin, and seems to do well in my hair as well. And the blue sea kale, well I have not had a direct experience with it, but other ocean plants like kelp have been successful in the past. Plus since this is a drugstore brand the price is right and it would be easy for me to find at a moments notice.


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How It Performed

Not Your Mother's Shampoo

This shampoo had a lot going for it, and so I was pretty hopeful that I would have a great shampoo. Unfortunately, it fell flat for me. I really expect anything coconut to be super moisturizing. This was not. If anything I felt it was drying, and by the end of washing my hair with it my hair felt a rough.

Not Your Mother's Conditioner

Now the conditioner fared slightly better, but not by much. Just the nature of what conditioner is means it’s not going to dry my hair out. It did moisturizer, but it just wasn’t the intensity that I needed. And oddly enough, even though the moisture was light, it left my hair feeling weighed down and limp.

Overall, I would say that this shampoo and conditioner is fine for anyone who has thick hair, but it would be best for someone who stays on the oily side. I would not recommend it for coarse hair or dry hair. I also would not recommend the conditioner for anyone with fine, thin hair. I think this set is going to be for a very specific hair type.

The Allergy Affect

When it comes to my Balsam of Peru allergy it can get really complicated as to what will or won’t affect me. You can read the ingredient list and not see anything that looks problematic and it still can be. Then there are also times that you can look at the ingredient list, be really nervous about what’s on the list, and then nothing happen. In this case the ingredient list for both the shampoo and conditioner was rather on the small side compared to a lot of hair care products I have used over the years.

The only ingredient I was the least bit wary of was fragrance. The Balsam of Peru allergy does get classified as a fragrance allergy, but it’s not really. It is used in some fragrances, but not all. So I sometimes react to fragrances, and sometime I don’t. In these cases I know certain scents to stay away from for sure, and for the rest I do a smell test. What I mean is I can usually tell by just smelling the product whether I will react. Upon smelling the product, it seemed like I was in the all clear.

After washing my hair with the Not Your Mother’s Blue Sea Kale & Coconut Water Shampoo and Conditioner everything seemed fine. I thought for a bit I had hit the jackpot on the first shampoo and conditioner I was trying. But unfortunately about three to four hours after washing my hair I started to experience a reaction. Full on itching and burning that led into flaking skin. It fell just short of causing blisters. So this was a fail on the allergy front too.

Final Thoughts

This shampoo and conditioner from Not Your Mother’s was just not a good match for me. Since I had an allergic reaction, there was definitely no point in trying it a second time. If it were not for the allergic reaction, I probably would have given it at least a second shot just to see if my hair reacted different.

I will be reviewing a lot of shampoos and conditioners this year, so if there is one you would like to see me review leave the name or a link to it in the comments, or alternatively you can send me a message on the contact page. I would love to hear your feedback. Also, tell me in the comments if there is anything more you want to know about the shampoos and conditioners I try. Did I leave some needed information out?


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Posted in: beautyReviewsTagged in: Balsam of PeruBalsam of Peru Allergybeauty productbeauty product reviewBlue Sea Kale & Pure Coconut Water Shampoo and ConditionerConditionerconditioner reviewNot Your Mother's Blue Sea Kale & Pure Coconut Water Shampoo and ConditionerNot Your Mother's reviewNot Your Mothersproduct reviewreviewShampooshampoo and conditioner reviewshampoo and conditioner setshampoo reviewULTAWalgreensNot Your Mother's Blue Sea Kale & Pure Coconut Water Sea Minerals Shampoo and Conditioner Read more... 13 comments

Product Review: PF Chang's Home Menu Sesame Sauce & Bonus Recipe

2018-02-20 13:34:41 karenmsmith77

I received the PF Changs at Home Menu VoxBox

The people at Influenster recently sent me the PF Chang’s Home Menu VoxBox. If you are wondering what a VoxBox is you can check out my first post about getting a VoxBox to find out more. To potentially get a VoxBox of your own, sign up on Influenster’s Website. You don’t have to be a blogger or YouTube personality to receive them, you just have to have social media and be willing to review products and share them on your various social media accounts.

Each VoxBox you receive from Influenster is different depending on the brand or theme they are centered around. Some VoxBoxes everyone gets the exact same thing, and other ones like this box there is a variety of things you could potentially get. Some boxes you are told up front exactly what you are receiving, and with others you don’t know until you open the box. With the PF Chang’s Home Menu VoxBox I knew I was receiving a sauce, but I didn’t know which one.

What I did know was that there were four options of what I could receive, and they are pictured on front of the box I received. The four sauces you might have received in this box is Kung Pao, Teriyaki, Mongolian, or Sesame.

Prior to receiving this VoxBox I was already a fan of PF Chang’s Restaurants. I had tried several of the PF Chang’s Home Menu frozen products. However I was not aware that these sauces were available to purchase.

Inside the PF Chang's Home Menu VoxBox, I had the Sesame Sauce and a coupon to use towards another product of choice.

When I opened my box I saw I had the Sesame Sauce as well as a coupon for $1 off a sauce of my choice and a card with a recipe suggestion on it.

The recipe they suggested for this sauce is a Sesame Stir Fry. But their recipe calls for chicken, and as most of you know I eat a Pescatarian Diet most ten months out of the year. Granted that is what most people think of in the US when they think Sesame Sauce, so I am not surprised PF Chang’s Home Menu’s recommended recipe included chicken. If you want to see the recipe they recommend, click here.

The great thing about PF Chang’s Home Menu Sesame Sauce is that it’s not really a super sweet sauce like you get at many Chinese takeout restaurants. Instead I think the vinegar tastes shine more, and it really lets the taste of the Sesame rise to the surface. This makes it so much easier to pair it with a much broader variety of meats.

So when I made time to cook with the sauce I decided to stick with making a stir fry, but I changed up the ingredients to suit my mine and my husbands dietary needs and tastes. I made a brief video of me cooking the stir-fry along with the directions to make it the way I did.

This was so simple and easy to make, and I love the way the Sesame Sauce tastes with the shrimp. I will definitely purchase the sauce on my own. And I am quite eager to give the other sauces a try. This is definitely one of my favorite VoxBoxes I have ever received.

If you are interested in seeing other people’s post and videos on various social media about these sauces you can search the hashtags #RecipesThatWok and #SauceThingsUp.

Let me know in the comments if you have tried these sauces before. And don’t forget to share any recipes or tips you have for using them.


Shop Cratejoy - The ultimate online destination for subscription boxes.

Posted in: ReviewsTagged in: asian cookingchinese foodInfluensterInfluenster VoxBoxpescatarianpescatarian recipePF Chang'sPF Chang's Home Menu Sesame SaucePF Chang's Home Menu Sesame Sauce reviewPF Chang's Home Menu VoxBoxPF Changs Home Menuproduct reviewrecipeRecipesThatWokreviewSauceThingsUpSesame Saucesesame sauce reviewSesame Shrimp Stir-frySesame Stir-Frystir=fryVoxBoxInside the PF Chang's Home Menu VoxBox, I had the Sesame Sauce and a coupon to use towards another product of choice. Read more... 0 comments

Update: After One Month Of Sleeping On Purple

2018-02-15 14:58:19 karenmsmith77

The purple bed
Last month I posted all about getting a bed from Purple and my impression after sleeping on it for a week. So if you want to hear all about the buying process and my first week of sleep, make sure to check that out if you haven’t already. At the end of that post I promised that I would be doing some updates, and here I am back with my update after one month.

If you read the last post then you know I was having a couple of issues that left me unsure whether I was going to keep the mattress or not. They recommend that people give it at least thirty days before making a decisions, and say that some people with back issues have a harder time adjusting. And since you have a one hundred day period to try the mattress out at home, I wanted to give it as much of a chance as possible.

I am happy to report that things are going much better with the mattress. When I did my first weeks impression post I was very much torn and it was a 50/50 toss on whether I was going to keep the mattress. But the mystery pain I was having seems to be gone. I am actually sleeping solidly through most nights now, which is a rarity. If I do wake up its more like I turn over once and go right back to sleep. So I am now at a 90% sure that I am keeping the mattress.

I have actually went back to trying the pillow out too. I am still a bit more torn on the pillow because there are things I like about it and things I don’t. I love that it alleviates the neck pain I would often get at night. I also love that it never gets hot. But it is the worlds heaviest pillow. If I try to sleep like I normally would with my arm under the pillow, the weight will cut off circulation in my arm and it will go to sleep.

So at this point I probably won’t do another update on the mattress unless something changes drastically and I decide to get rid of it, or if I feel it starts to wear out faster than it should. I will definitely share those types of things with you.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about the bed or the pillow.


Posted in: ReviewsTagged in: one month updateplus size bloggerproduct reviewpurplepurple bedpurple mattresspurple mattress reviewpurple mattress reviiewpurple pillowreviewreview updatesecond impressionsThe purple bed Read more... 9 comments

What Is Really Included In Your Amazon Prime Membership

2018-02-08 12:12:26 karenmsmith77

So if you are like me then you probably don’t read most of the emails you get from companies you buy from. This includes Amazon. So unless it’s really brought to your attention, you may not know exactly what is included in your Amazon Prime membership beyond the couple of things your signed up for.

For the longest time I didn’t realize there was anything more than free prime shipping and prime video. I slowly started to learn about some other benefits, but I still didn’t realize the full extent of what you get with Prime. So when I recently posted about the new service Amazon is starting, the soon to be Amazon Wardrobe, I did quite a bit of research and discovered some things I didn’t know was available to Prime members. And since there seems to be such a big response to the posts I do about Amazon, I thought I would start talking about more of the things you can get through Prime and occasionally reviewing some of them as well as some of the add-on services you can sign up for.

The Cost Breakdown

I am guessing most of you know at least the basics of Amazon Prime. But just in case you didn’t here is a quick rundown. Amazon Prime will cost you $99.00 a year, or alternatively you can choose to pay monthly at $12.99. What many people may not know is that if you are a family that is on a tight budget and gets any sort of assistance through an EBT card, then you qualify for a discounted option called Prime Discounted Monthly Offering. If you don’t already have Prime, then you can get a 30 day free trial to either Amazon Prime or Prime Discounted.

The Basics

First, lets talk about the two things that I consider the basics of Amazon Prime. I think these are the benefits the average person is going to be more familiar with from Amazon, and it’s certainly what springs to mind for me first when I think of Prime. How familiar you are with other benefits are probably going to depend a bit on when you signed up for prime and if you read Amazon emails.

First you have Prime Shipping/Prime Delivery, where it all started. Now not everything on Amazon qualifies for Prime Shipping, but you will know what does by the bright blue Prime written out by the price. You can also narrow your searches to look for items only available with Prime Shipping. So what does Prime Shipping consist of? You get:

  • Free Two-Day Shipping: Millions of items delivered fast and free.
  • Free Same-Day and One-Day Delivery: Order in the morning to get free delivery before bedtime on more than 1 million items. Or get One-Day Delivery on qualifying orders placed by the afternoon in certain cities. Look for the Prime logo.
  • Prime Now: Skip the trip and get FREE 2-Hour Delivery on thousands of items.
  • Free Release-Date Delivery: Be among the first to get new video games, books, music, movies and more. Choose Release-Date Delivery on qualified items and receive your package by 7 p.m. on that date.
  • Free No-Rush Shipping: Don’t need your Prime order right away? Select No-Rush Shipping and earn rewards for future purchases.

So if you shop through Amazon a lot, getting a Prime Membership may be worth it for just Prime Shipping. It is definitely something to factor in if you are trying to decide when making the decision to purchase a membership.

The other service I consider a basic is Prime Video. Prime Video is a section in Amazon’s own streaming service that has thousands of movies and television shows you can watch for free with your Prime Membership. And just like Netflix and Hulu, Prime Video also has their own original content in addition to movies and shows that you may be familiar with from other sources. I highly recommend The Tick and Good Girls Revolt.

I feel the rest of the options you get with Prime can be put into one of three categories. There is shopping and entertainment extras that come with your Prime Membership, and then there are a group of things you can upgrade to.


Inside the category of shopping there is a really large range of perks that come with your Prime Membership. Here is what you get:

  • Early Access To Deals: Get 30-minute early access to Lightning Deals on
  • Prime Exclusives: Amazon’s hand-picked products offered exclusively to Prime members.
  • Alexa Voice Shopping: Shop for millions of items with Alexa and reorder the things you use most.
  • Alexa Voice Deals: Prime members can shop with Alexa and receive an additional discount on select deals.
  • Prime Pantry: Low-priced everyday essentials in everyday sizes delivered to your door for a flat delivery fee.
  • Amazon Family: Up to 20% off diapers and 15% off eligible products from your baby registry.
  • Amazon Elements For Prime: Enjoy access to Amazon’s own line of everyday essentials. (This is Amazon’s own line of natural products and vitamins.)
  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card: Eligible Prime members earn 5% Back every day on all purchases, in addition to rewards everywhere else you shop.
  • Amazon Prime Store Card: Eligible Prime members can get 5% back every day on purchases and access to exclusive financing offers.
  • Prime Reload: All Prime members can earn 2% rewards on their debit spending when they reload their Gift Card Balance with a checking account.
  • Amazon Dash: With a simple click, Prime members can use Dash Buttons to order favorite products.
  • Wickedly Prime: A line of distinctive food and beverages, available exclusively to Prime members. (This is Amazon’s own line of snacks and drinks.)

And while Amazon doesn’t list it on their page as a benefit for Prime Members, Prime Samples is also exclusively available to Prime Members. Prime Samples are a selection of products you can purchase in sample size, either individually or in sample boxes. Upon purchase you get a credit for the same amount to go towards purchasing a full size.


Obviously Prime Video would fit into the entertainment category, but we covered that in the basics of Amazon Prime. What else is there? Surprisingly quite a few things. Here is what you get:

  • Prime Music: Stream more than 2 million songs, plus thousands of playlists and stations.
  • Audible Channels: Unlimited listening to original audio series and playlists handcrafted for every interest.
  • Prime Reading: Prime Reading gives you unlimited access on any device to more than a thousand eBooks, popular magazines, comics, books with Audible narration and more.
  • Amazon First Reads: Read one of next month’s new releases now for free.
  • Washington Post Free Trial: For a limited time, enjoy unlimited access to The Washington Post with a six-month free trial.
  • Twitch Prime: Get free game content every month, ad-free Twitch viewing, Twitch Channel Subscription and more.
  • Prime Savings In Video Games: Prime members get exclusive discounts on pre-orders for PC, PlayStation 4, XBox One, Wii U, 3DS and more.
  • Prime Photos: Free unlimited photo storage for you and five others. Plus, upgraded search helps you find photos fast.
  • Share Your Prime Benefits: Link your account with one other adult to share shipping, streaming access to movies and TV shows, Audible Channels and more for free.

There are even a few great upgrades you can add to your Amazon Prime Membership.

If you really enjoy your Prime Music you can upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited. You can get a 30 day free trial, and after that a membership start at $7.99 a month. Price will depend on which plan you pick. With the unlimited plan you get way more music choices, its ad free, and you get unlimited skips.

You can also upgrade Prime Video with various Amazon Channels. You can add HBO, Showtime, and/or Starz as well as a few other options. Additional channels cost between $4.99 and $14.99 a month. The great news is you do not have to have cable to subscribe, just Amazon Prime.

Amazon also has a special service you can upgrade to just for the kids. It’s called Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. It lets you have unlimited access to thousands of kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps and games. It costs $2.99 a month.

And finally there is Amazon Fresh. It is just $14.99 to add Amazon Fresh to your Prime Membership. This is Amazon’s grocery delivery service, and its only available in certain areas. Unfortunately it’s not available where I live at yet. With this service you will be able to place your grocery order and get it as soon as the next day without every having to leave your house. This just might be my dream come true, and I will definitely try this one out at least for a bit once it’s here.

As you can see there is a lot to Amazon Prime now. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I want to start reviewing some of these perks and things you can get through them. I already have ordered one of the sample boxes and I thought I would start there, so look for that review soon. If there is anything in particular that you would like reviewed or talked about let me know in the comments below so I can move it up in priority. Also let me know how much you knew about Amazon Prime. Was any of this a surprise? If so what?


Tee Fury

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