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hatchery subscription box
Reviews, Subscription Boxes,

Hatchery: A Subscription Box For Discerning Foodies

Of all the different specialty food subscription boxes I’ve tested (and I’ve tested quite a few), Hatchery is probably my favorite.

I love the idea that you get to try so many products in each box, and although they aren’t full-sized, you can get a lot of use out of them while deciding if you want to invest in a full-sized version of the product. Hatchery’s boxes are valued at $20. The box I got contained 5 different products.

These products won’t be the centerpiece of any meal, but they will add a much-needed flavor element to a dull dish. They’re all so unique – you’ll have a lot of fun experimenting in the kitchen.

So besides great products at a great value, you can also take heart in the fact that each box features products made by people and small companies, not corporations. Each box contains an insert with an in-depth company bio and tasting notes for each product. There are also a couple of recipes to serve as inspiration to get cooking!

The Hatchery theme of handcrafted(/homemade) is present in everything they do, including the box that the products come in.

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Without further ado, here’s what I received in my tasting box:

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Fourth Creek Foods – Sweet Red Pepper Relish

$7 full-size

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Here in Chicago, I’m pretty used to hot giardiniera relish being a standard side. Sometimes it’s nice to balance out a sandwich instead with a sweeter version of the same type of condiment. My boyfriend was very happy for this addition to my fridge.

Chi-Cho Sauce

$9 full-size

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This sauce has some spicy elements, but is quite mild in taste. I’m glad to have it in my fridge for when I have someone over who likes flavor, but not major spice.

Laguna Salt Company – Summer Smoke

$8 full-size

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I love specialty spices and salts, so this one’s perfect for when I’m experimenting with flavors. I’ve got to say, the packaging also draws me in. It all fits together so beautifully.

South Boulder Sauce – All Things Orange Hot Sauce

$9 full-size

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This hot sauce is a little more intense than the previous one (there’s some habanero!), but interestingly enough, contains a flavor in common – carrots! I like to think that makes it a little healthier than the average hot sauce…

Laura Ann’s Jams – Strawberry Vanilla Bean

$9 full-size

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Most of the time, I opt to buy the “boring” jams at the grocery store. Its good to get tasting boxes like these with curated products – it forces you to step outside of your comfort zone. What I liked about this was how balanced the flavor was. Perfect for spreading on a sweet and savory english muffin!

Hatchery has both tasting boxes and a la carte products available on their website. Sign up for the email newsletter to be notified when awesome deals happen!

If you’re still looking for a Christmas gift, as of this writing, they’re offering $10 off gift subscriptions using code, “HOHOHO” at checkout.

Have you tried Hatchery or other food-related subscription boxes? Share your finds in the comments!

Please note: A free Hatchery box was provided in exchange for this review.

BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB SUBSCRIPTION REVIEW
Reviews, Subscription Boxes,

Book of the Month Club Subscription Review

I love to read. This year I made it my goal to read 52 books – one for each week. I’m happy to say that as of the beginning of October, I kicked my goal’s butt! As such, I’m looking for more books to read before the end of the year. I stumbled upon the Book of the Month Club subscription when browsing Gilt City one day. Gilt City is a great way to enjoy the luxuries of Chicago and designer brands at a discount.

I recently received my first Book of the Month club book. Here’s a little bit about the process.

Book of the Month Club Subscription Review

When you start your Book of the Month Club Subscription, you’ll be presented with 5 different possibilities.

The possibilities represent the different book selections that have been carefully curated by the Book of the Month Club team. The genres get pretty specific, so it’ll be easy to pick if you gravitate towards certain types of books. One of the books each month is curated by a guest judge, usually a notable modern literary figure.

For the month of October, I chose Fates and Furies by Lauren Gross. This book was picked by guest judge Leigh Haber. If you aren’t familiar with her, Leigh Haber is the books editor for O, the Oprah Magazine. As you may well known, Oprah is known for popularizing many modern bestsellers.

book of the month club subscription review

Fates and Furies is about a couple madly in love, and how their relationship evolves over time, as well as the internal struggles they face throughout. It alludes to Shakespeare and greek mythology to flesh it out even more. I haven’t started it yet, but it’s next on my list – I could use a fiction fix!

You can opt to select a book each month, or opt for Book of the Month Club to pick for you. Either way – there’s not a bad choice. This one stuck out to me, but I wouldn’t been happy with any of their options.

A week or two into the month, the selection is shipped to you.

The books themselves are a great deal. For example, Fates and Furies is on Amazon right now for $16.77.

One month of the Book of the Month Club subscription would cost about the same – $16.99.

A 3 month plan would run you $12.99 per month.

The best value is a 12 month plan, which is only $6.99. I honestly can’t think of a better deal for a reader who loves reading physical books. And they’re all hardcovers! Shipping is free.

I’m more than satisfied with my Book of the Month Club subscription and can’t wait to see what the next months bring.

How do you get ideas for new books? Let us know in the comments!

Note: A 3 month Book of the Month Club membership was offered in exchange for this post.

MARY’S SECRET INGREDIENTS: A SUBSCRIPTION BOX REVIEW
Reviews, Subscription Boxes,

Mary’s Secret Ingredients: A Subscription Box Review

I’m kind of strange in that one of my favorite types of gifts to receive is food-related or kitchen tools. Honestly, nothing is more exciting to me than either of those things. I could get lost in William’s Sonoma or Sur La Table.

So I was excited when I first stumbled upon the Mary’s Secret Ingredients subscription box. I was using the Freebie app, which allows Chicago’s heavy social media users access to delicious food, events and more in exchange for a social shout out. Freebie was offering users this box for just the cost of shipping, so I decided to give it a try.

The first box I got was excellent and all the tools and ingredients have been used up or dispersed across my kitchen, so I decided to order another box to review… and because I enjoy the surprise of what gets included each quarter. Here’s what I got:

Mary’s Secret Ingredients: Subscription Box Review

Instead of getting a lot of random cooking ingredients that might be hard to actually imagine using, this box was a useful combination of ingredients and kitchen tools.

Mary's Secret Ingredients Subscription Box Review

Ardent Mills: Ultragrain All-Purpose Flower (Estimated Value $5) – This flour is touted as being healthier than regular white flower and can be used interchangeably in recipes without messing up your baking. Before I fully understood it, I’ve messed up recipes using whole wheat flower. This is the perfect pantry staple for people who want to be just a little healthier and don’t want to think too hard about switching up their recipes.

Coastal Goods: Sarah’s Sea Salt – Tuscan Salt (Value $6.25) – I absolutely love spices and seasonings, and this one is no exception. Rosemary is one of my favorite ways to season meat, and it’s one of the main ingredients in this mix. I’ve seen smaller packages of seasoning that retail for a higher price than this, so I’d consider it to be a value.

Jenkin’s Jellies: Hell Fire Pepper Jelly & Guava Brava Pepper Jelly (Value $14) – I’m actually quite intrigued by this spicy jelly combo. The Jenkin’s Jellies website suggests using it paired with cheese and crackers or as a topping… yum! I’ve got some experimenting to do.

POURfect Ultimate Measuring Spoons with Leveler Tool ($13.99) – This is actually one of the main kitchen tools I’ve been missing, which has resulted in many hasty and incorrect measurements when baking. Now I have no excuse! What I love about this particular set is that it’s so exact, even in super small measurements. The leveler tool helps make sure you don’t use even one grain too many.

Total Value: $39.24

Total Cost: $25. Used a 25% off discount and paid $20. Use code “LOVEBOX” before 12/4/15 for 25% off a box!

I think this subscription box is enough of a value to get it even a third time! Especially when you consider the fact that you aren’t even paying extra for curation. So far I’ve been very pleasantly surprised and each month is something new to look forward to.

Would you give Mary’s Secret Ingredients subscription box a try? What subscription boxes have you tried? Let us know in the comments!

VINYL ME, PLEASE: A SUBSCRIPTION BOX REVIEW
Reviews, Subscription Boxes,

Vinyl Me, Please: A Subscription Box Review

Vinyl Me, Please bills itself as “The Best Damn Record Club Out There”.

Vinyl Me, Please Subscription Box Review

Given the care that goes into every single package they send out, I’d be inclined to agree.

If you’re not aware, Vinyl Me, Please is one of many vinyl subscription services out there that offers delivery of a curated record for around 20 or 30 bucks a month. This begs the question:

Why?

Who in their right mind would want this? Who would pay between 23 and 27 dollars a month to get an album that somebody else chose for you, when you can walk down to Transistor Records and get one that you know you want for $20 or less? Who could possibly want that?

Well, me, for one.

For the purposes of this review, Vinyl Me, Please was kind enough to send over the records chosen for their August and September deliveries. From the box the records were shipped in to the hand-signed slipcovers that they’re covered with, it’s obvious that care goes into every step of the process here.

Vinyl Me, Please Subscription Box Review
Inside each box, subscribers will find a hand-picked album, a custom 12”x12” art print inspired by the record, a short piece of prose, liner notes, and even a cocktail pairing created by the lushes over at Vinyl Me, Please with the goal of enhancing your listening experience.

If that still doesn’t seem worth the price tag, consider that each and every Vinyl Me, Please record is a pressing exclusive to VMP subscribers, meaning that these albums are pretty much one of a kind.

Vinyl Me, Please Subscription Box Review

It’s understandable that some will still balk at the fact that somebody else is choosing your music for you. I won’t lie, I was kind of afraid I’d get, I don’t know, an LP of Limp Bizkit B-sides. Luckily, my fear was misplaced.

If the albums they sent us are any indication of what they send month-to-month, Vinyl Me, Please is interested in supplementing and filling out your existing vinyl collection with essentials that music lovers may not have, as well as albums yet to find a huge audience. You can follow this link to see their back catalog.

The past two Vinyl Me, Please boxes included two relatively well-known records, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to score any indie cred by showing them off. That said, both of the albums are unquestionably well-reviewed, interesting, and staples of their respective genres: a 20th anniversary pressing of the brilliant Wilco album A.M., as well as Four Tet’s 2012 album Pink. The Wilco LP was a beautiful clear-ish creamsicle color, while Pink was a 2 LP set complete with MP3 downloads.

The two records couldn’t be more different, and that speaks to Vinyl Me, Please’s sense of taste. Every album will be a surprise, yes, but this service really isn’t for people who care about that. It’s for people who want to be surprised, who want to
discover (or rediscover) an artist or album, for people who would be happy with experimental electronica one month and early ‘90s hip-hop the next.

The prose is beautiful. So is the art. So is the music. It’s completely understandable to not subscribe to this service if you’re on a tight budget, and don’t really want to risk getting an album you’re not into.

Vinyl Me, Please Subscription Box Review

But honestly, if you want to start building a record collection or supplement an existing one, 23-to-27 bucks a month isn’t a whole lot to ask. And for me, as well as many of VMP’s subscribers, the surprise is part of the fun. It feels like those halcyon days of childhood, where you’d show up to school one day and an excited, music-loving friend would hand you a CD-R with “KAYNE WEST: COLEGE DROPOUT” scribbled on the front in blue sharpie, and you’d spend the next day talking about the music. Except now, you’re supporting the artists, and you’re getting the records from someone who can spell correctly.

And hey, worst case scenario, if you don’t like the album, you can always drown your sorrows with a stiff drink.

Vinyl Me, Please Subscription Box Review Vinyl Me, Please Subscription Box Review

Have you tried Vinyl Me, Please? Click here to learn more and sign up!

BARKBOX: A SUBSCRIPTION BOX REVIEW
Pets, Reviews, Subscription Boxes,

Barkbox: A Subscription Box Review

This post is part of a series reviewing different subscription boxes.

I first tried BarkBox over a year ago, when I first got my own dog. I was so excited, because I’d been waiting since I started college to get him – my parents’ graduation present to me. I wanted to welcome my furry child Leo to our home by spoiling him with treats and toys, and BarkBox seemed like a great way to do that.

Fast forward to today – one of my favorite old coworkers from Groupon now works for BarkBox. He’s the perfect fit for the job – he loves dogs and recently got a Shiba Inu that he loves to death (and now gets to bring to work!). He hooked me up with a free box so that I could share with you what a typical BarkBox looks like. If you’re wondering what to expect, this should help to answer your questions.

BarkBox Subscription Box Review

Here’s what was in the BarkBox I got:

Benny’s Bully’s Beef Liver and Banana (Treats) – $8 value

These are good treats to have on hand that pack a nutritious punch. I usually shy away from treats with ingredients like beef liver (I have weird food aversions even if I’m not the one eating it!), but obviously dogs don’t have any problem with those tastes.

Nature’s Bits Salmon with Strawberries and Sweet Potatoes (Treats) – $8 value

If you like supporting local farmers and businesses, then you’ll feel really good about giving your dog these treats (and reordering them if your dog falls in love). The ingredients are 100% sourced locally!

Swag Co. Parrot (Toy) – $9 value

Leo is not as excited by toys as he was when I first got him, but he loves toys with a squeaker. He also loves to get new things about as much as me, so this went over well when I first gave it to him.

Safemade Pet Pineapple (Toy) – $10 value

Same notes as the previous toy, but this one was designed to be more safe for dogs. What I like about it is that it’s flat and easy to store.

BarkBox Subscription Box Review

Aussie Naturals Salmon Half Cigar (Treat) – $5 value

This was a larger treat for a small dog. Before ordering a BarkBox, the system prompts you as to what size dog you’re buying it for (based on weight). Although this treat was physically large compared to Leo, he enjoyed the hell out of it. It was cute to watch him consume it, and it was gone in minutes. Definitely a special treat I’d get for him again. The only downside – it’s crumbly. Hopefully your dog is good at cleaning up scraps!

Total value: $40

Depending on what plan you get, BarkBox subscriptions range from $19 to $29 per month. Obviously, the more months you buy upfront, the better discount you get overall. BarkBox does lot of promotions for first timers (at least one month free or free premium toy upgrade each month), so sign up for their emails to start receiving the offers. Besides promotional, the emails always have fun pictures and stories for dog lovers, which I enjoy.

Overall, I love BarkBox. There hasn’t been one I disliked. Leo usually loves the toys and demolishes the snacks. Sometimes you’ll find handy extras you wouldn’t think to get – one I got awhile back had a medical wound spray that could really come in handy. I guess if I had to critique anything, it would be the number of snacks. Leo is a small dog and I like to give him treats, but I don’t want to overfeed or completely spoil him. There are just so many that by the time you get next month’s box, you’ve maybe given your dog half of them (or less). That’s actually the reason why I originally cancelled my Barkbox subscription – I was overstocked on treats!

My suggestion would be to start with a 1 or 3 month box and see what you think. If your dog powers through snacks and toys, consider a 6 month or one year box. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Have you tried Barkbox yet? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

chicago cheap ass (20)
Beauty, Reviews, Subscription Boxes,

Target Beauty Box: A Subscription Box Review

Target Beauty Box Subscription Box

You can find a subscription box for almost anything – pets, alcohol, kids, food… and beauty. Subscription boxes have become my favorite way to discover new products. They also offer an incredible value – at least the reputable ones do. For a low monthly recurring payment, you get products curated by experts for less than they would cost separately. As the nature of this blog is finding deals on a budget, I’m starting a series for reviewing subscription boxes.

The Target Beauty Box is one of my favorite “subscription” boxes. It comes out periodically (once every few months) and can’t be bought on a subscription, but is worth keeping track of.

Target Beauty Box Subscription Box

The Target Beauty Box I’m reviewing contained the following items:

CoverGirl Super Sizer Mascara by Lashblast ($6 Value, thanks to My Subscription Addiction for values)

I love that Target Beauty Boxes almost always include a full-size mascara sample, because mascara gets gross after no more than a few months. The brands they include are always top drugstore mascara brands, and this box is no exception.

Fekkai Pre-Soleil Hair Mist ($6.80)

I actually got this same sample in a previous Target Beauty Box. It’s a nice addition to your hair care regiment for the summer, because it protects your hair for the sun. It’s light and smells fresh.

Hair Food Moisturizing Mask ($12 Value)

I’m a big fan of hair moisturizing and deep conditioning treatments. My hair needs them at least once a week, and the results are more than worth the extra time in the shower. So I was really excited that this full-sized product was included in this Target Beauty Box!

Olay Active Botanicals Moisturizing Toner ($1.80 Value)

I don’t usually use many beauty products, and toner is not something that’s been a part of my routine, to date. I’m excited to try this product and see if it makes a difference!

Olay Active Botanicals Day Lotion ($3.60 Value)

This facial lotion is so light and fresh… I honestly think I may have found my new preferred face lotion!

Crest 3D Whitestrips 1hr Express ($11.25 Value)

I’ve used Crest Whitestrips in the past and they’re annoying to wear, but they really do look. I’ve been drinking a lot more tea lately, so I was glad to get this sample!

Total Value: $41.45 (with an added value of $3 off coupon for Target Beauty purchases)

What I love about Target Beauty Boxes is that they contain so much value that I actually go out and buy the items I like at full price after I’ve used them up. I can think of at least one item from each box I’ve gotten that I really loved, and several more that are fun to test out and have around, even if I don’t use them everyday.

I’m not someone who usually gets excited about beauty products, but the Target Beauty Box has so many fun and useful things at an incredible price. You also get a $3 off $15 coupon to use towards any beauty purchase at Target in every box!

Have you bought a Target Beauty Box? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!