Archive for November, 2010

November 30, 2010

Hop Shop Go Service Review

Hold on tight because this will be a word heavy post…

I have received numerous requests for my feedback on Hop Shop Go and the services that they provide, and I thought it might be a good idea to lump it all into the one post instead of replying to everyone in seperate places. So in a nutshell, Hop Shop Go is a parcel purchasing and forwarding service for those like me who live in the middle of nowhere (aka Australia) at least according to some US based websites that will not ship to us. You have the option of purchasing the product yourself and having it shipped to a US address supplied by Hop Shop Go, who will then forward the package on to you on arrival for a fee OR if the site you’re purchasing from does not accept international credit cards (and most don’t) you can opt to have Hop Shop Go order the packages for you (charged to your pay pal account) and then sent to their US address and again forwarded to you on arrival for a fee.

I have placed 10 orders using Hop Shop Go so far (wow, that is eye opening) and have had no complaints so far. (I did have an issue with an order that I placed but I can’t blame it on HSG because it was my own fault for forgetting to put the discount code in with my order.) I find once my order has been sent through, it takes a day or so for it to be placed. It’s then anywhere between a week and a month before the products arrive at the HSG US address (depending on where you’ve bought it from, and which shipping option you’ve opted for – I always opt for cheapest shipping because I’ve never been in any huge rush to receive the things I’ve ordered). Once the package arrives at the US address and shipping is paid for, it takes around a week for the parcel to reach me here in Australia. Note: you will need to sign for the parcel when it arrives. I believe HSG use DHL (or they have done so for all of my packages) who will leave an unsuccessful delivery attempt card if you’re not home to sign for your package. There is the option to go online and ask to have the package re-delivered to a new address, or to the same address where you can leave the signed card as permission for them to safe drop the package. The card also has the option for you to sign for all future packages, which I have done repeatedly but for some reason they keep leaving the card and not the package, which is annoying.

Price wise, I find that the websites that I am buying from either have such a cheap price point that the shipping makes the order worthwhile, or that I am buying from places that stock products that are impossible to find here (namely Anthropologie, GAP and Banana Republic) so I don’t mind paying just a little bit more for shipping. Generally, the price of shipping for me has ranged between $20-$40. I believe that there is a minimum of shipping based on the minimum charge weight of 2kg. So for example I purchased 3 items from MAC, and then in a future order only ordered 1 item, and shipping was the same. So it would be of benefit to buy up to at least the minimum package weight to make shipping worthwhile. Note: You will need to calculate your own rough idea of shipping fees, as the cost of shipping is not presented to you until the parcel arrives at the US address. It was a sort of guessing game for me at the start, but now I know that most packages I order will range between $20-$40 as I mentioned earlier. You will also be charged the cost of shipping from the site your initial order was placed to the US based address at the time of paying for shipping to Australia.

Help/Service wise, when I had a problem with my order (forgetting to put the discount code in) I emailed for advice (response took around 5 hours to come through) and also went online to the on-site chat function. The chat was online within business hours within my own timezone, which I found very useful. Also, despite the person I spoke to not being very helpful (she was adamant that nothing could be done to alter my order – yet miraculously it was altered anyway, I’m not really sure how that happened), I found the chat function to be very handy. I hate using US based services that require you to CALL them within US business hours to ask for help. I mean, seriously.

Things to note:

> They will not ship nail polish or perfume (which sucks because I wanted ALL of the OPI for Sephora polishes on the Sephora site).

> If you order something that they are unable to purchase, they will drop it off of your order without notifying you IF you have opted to have your existing order placed if an item is unavailable. If you’ve opted to have your entire order cancelled in the event that a product is not available, I’m not sure if notification is sent through as I’ve personally never had this occur.

> They will not order an item if there is a discrepancy between the price you have quoted, and what shows up for them when they go to order it for you.

> If the majority of your order cannot be placed, they will email you to confirm that you still want to go ahead with the rest of the order.

So that was my long winded rant regarding Hop Shop Go and their services. I will continue to use HSG as a parcel purchasing and forwarding service, because it offers me everything that I want for in that regard, and I am happy to wait for packages that may take a month or so total turnaround to arrive. I thought it might be a good idea to include the thoughts of other people who have used this service before, and I will add more in future if anyone else wants to contribute.

Jennise from Pink Ribbons: “If you compare the service between Parceliton and HSG, I would say Parceliton is the winner. Why? Because of their promptness in placing your order and turnaround time. Most of my purchases with Parceliton arrive to me in Australia within 2 weeks. HSG is a great comparable service, albeit orders take a lot longer to arrive at your US address. The website is easy to use and all my orders have been placed in a reasonable timeframe ie. overnight or the next day. You sort of don’t hear anything until your order arrives at your US address which normally takes 2 weeks (this could be due to the busy holiday season in the US) and it kind of makes you wonder ‘hey, what’s happened to my order’? So would I use HSG or Parceliton for future services? I would use HSG because it’s a cheaper service and I am a fairly patient person. ”

November 29, 2010

Product Review: Alaska Glacial Mud Co. Purifying Mineral Mud Masque

I was sent two sample sachets of the Alaska Glacial Mud Co. Purifying Mineral Mud Masque to trial and review from Australian online beauty retailer Bathing Beauty. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of Bathing Beauty before, but after receiving the initial email regarding review of a seperate product I had a browse of the site and was really impressed! As well as the Alaska Glacial Mud Co. they stock other top quality brands like This Works, Kiehls, RMS Beauty & Nude Skincare. Anyway, back to the review… My first thoughts on the mask was that it was a lot “lighter” and easier to apply than any of the mud or clay based masks that I’ve used in the past. This made for a much smoother application, and more pleasant feel from the mask in general. After applying, the mask had a kind of warming sensation to it. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it wasn’t what I was expecting, and took a little while to get used to. After using the mask there was no redness or irritation showing on my very sensitive skin (bonus points for any face mask that can do that!). The instant result from the mask was smooth and soft feeling skin. The next day my oil production was reduced dramatically (a Christmas miracle!) and my skintone was less red and more even looking. Scent wise I initially thought that I would prefer the vanilla/lavender scented mask, but I actually preferred the peppermint/lavender scent as it was more refreshing, and I feel better suited to warmer weather. The Alaska Glacial Mud Co. Purifying Mineral Mud Masque retails for $59 AUD and can be purchased online from Bathing Beauty.
November 28, 2010

Recent Reads

I am really happy with the way I’ve managed to work reading back into my life again this year. As a child I always had my head buried in a book, but the past few years had seen reading fall by the wayside as a priority in my life. Thankfully I’ve reignited that passion and am making the most of my free time on my train ride to and from work every day by reading a good book. Here are some mini-reviews on the books I’ve read lately.

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyle
(note: this book is not pictured above because I borrowed it from a friend at book club, and have since returned it to her) This book was a very fast and easy read, but the story was definitely something that lingered with me for a little while afterwards. I’ll try not to give too much away, because the true theme behind the story is not really given away in the book until around half way through. I already knew what it was though, after discussing the book with my friend so I knew what to expect. I enjoyed this book and would recommend reading it, but I am not sure I could watch the film version as I was in tears at the end of the book and having that particular scene brought to life outside of my mind’s eye might be too much for me to handle.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Truth be told I was quite disappointed with this book. I think the problem was that I had heard a lot of hype about the book before reading it, and it was definitely not what I had expected. The story is very slow moving and languid, and the book itself is very gentle in a lot of ways. That may sound strange, but if you read the book I think you’ll understand what I mean. I think if I went back and read it again and kept in mind how the story would flow, and knew what to expect I might enjoy it a lot more. I will definitely be seeing the film version of this when it’s released in Australia because I think the story would translate really well to film (and no, not just because it has my girl crush Carey Mulligan and my current lust object Andrew Garfield in it…).

A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
(note: again, this book is not pictured above because I borrowed it from a friend at book club and have since returned it to her) I hated this book. I must be some kind of heartless cyborg because this book did not move me in any way whatsoever. I don’t know if it’s because this is a true story, and in order for the author to describe the situations he was placed in as a child he had to distance himself emotionally from it, but I found the story very clinical and very hard to properly relate to. I would have also liked a bit more of an insight into his mother’s situation, and what it was that made her snap and become such a horrible person. I’m not sure if this is further explained in the other books that Dave Pelzer has written, and I’m not really sure if I’ll be bothered to find out either.

Room by Emma Donoghue
(note: this book is not pictured because I have leant it to a friend) I loved this book. In fact “Room” is very closely tied with “The Road” for my favourite book of 2010. Room was quite a refreshing read after A Child Called It, and gave me a whole new outlook and respect for child narrative. I won’t go too much into detail about the actual story, as the reason why Jack and his mother are in ‘the room’ are not explained on the blurb or within the book until a couple of chapters in. I will say that the reason they are in the room was definitely not what I had expected, and I really enjoyed the concept of the story and where the book went with it. I will definitely be reading Room again to see if I can get anything more from the story, and have been recommending this book to anyone who will listen!

Blindness by Jose Saramago
I’m sure you’ve heard me mention it before, but I love books and films with an apocalyptical type storyline. My best friend had suggested Blindness to me ages ago, and for some reason while randomly browsing the book depository one night I stumbled across it and decided to buy a copy. The general concept of this book is that the entire population of Earth goes blind within a week. There is no apparent cause or explanation, and no cure. One woman retains her sight throughout the ordeal and witnesses how mankind responds to such a phenomenon. (and it ain’t pretty) I enjoyed this book, though the story grew kind of boring and repetitive around 3/4 of the way into the book but picked up again at the end and became a real page turner again.

C by Tom McCarthy
I didn’t like this book at all. I had high hopes because it was one of the books shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year, but I just couldn’t get myself into the story. I didn’t find any of the characters likeable or relateable, and the story was all over the place and hard for me to follow. I struggled with this book and it took me over a month to read, which isn’t like me at all! I doubt I would re-read this, and probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone to read either.

Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil by John Berendt
I loved this book, and it was a great way to get myself back into the swing of reading after “C”. The story flowed really well, all of the characters were amazing and I fell in love with Savannah about one chapter into reading the book. (and want to plan a visit at some stage of my life! what an amazing place) I didn’t even realise that this was a true crime story until reaching the end of the book. I adored this book and would probably call it one of my favourites now. I will re-read again in the future for sure.

What are you reading at the moment? Any good book suggestions for me?

November 28, 2010

Newsflash: Bloom Warehouse Sale

Those of you lucky enough to live in or be visiting the beautiful city of Melbourne next week be sure to stop off in Richmond and go to the Bloom Warehouse sale! It’s times like these I really hate the fact that I live on the opposite side of the country!
November 28, 2010

Feedback Results & Giveaway Winner

I want to extend a big thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to my recent post requesting feedback from readers. It was very helpful, and I managed to figure out a few different things that I want to try and add to The Belle Lumiere in the upcoming months. Some of the main features that I will be adding to the site are:

> Book related posts & reviews
> Wardrobe related posts
> Nail polish swatches/reviews
> Youtube videos
> “Face Of The Day” posts

And a few other things that are still in production so I don’t want to talk about it too much just yet! I also mentioned in my initial post that I would send a little prize pack as a thank you to one of the readers who responded. And after consulting the oracle random.org, the winner was Claire! So thanks Claire, and I will be contacting you via email regarding the prize. Thanks again to everyone who participated!

November 26, 2010

Style Inspiration – Gemma Arterton