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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!

chicago cheap ass (2)
Reviews, Technology,

Save or Splurge? Panasonic Solar Charger Review

We’re neck-deep in Chicago’s music festival season with plenty more to look forward to until the summer is officially over. Earlier this summer, I wrote about what you need to survive a Chicago summer festival in style. Among what I’d consider one of the most important things to consider was a portable battery charger for phones and other devices. You don’t want to be separated from friends or lost while trying to navigate if you’re unfamiliar with the city when the festival is over.

I recently had the opportunity to review the Panasonic Solar Charger, and put it to the test during my three day stint at Lollapalooza.

Let’s start with the good.

What I really like about the Panasonic Solar Charger is that it has a lot of very useful features that compliment each other. Obviously, one of the main features is that you can use the sun to charge your device when traditional outlets are unavailable or in short supply. Most music festivals have charging stations of some sort, but I’m hesitant to leave my phone out and vulnerable on a charger in a heavily-trafficked area, or even just having to force myself to stay in one spot when there’s so much else going on. And if there’s a line… all bets are off. Empower yourself to not have to deal with that.

The Panasonic Solar charger also has a USB outlet for charging. This is a great option for making sure that you go into a festival with juice… even if it starts raining. There’s also a flashlight function which produces a very bright LED light. Perfect for if you’re at a festival at night and are trying to navigate in the dark, or find something you dropped.

A recommended use scenario would include setting up a space where you can sit for awhile and lay out the charger in front of you in full view of the sun. Another idea would be to secure it to a backpack or purse on the outside with some zip ties.

Let’s talk about the not-so-good.

Although the battery life on the charger seems good (it basically has a never ending energy supply), it charges my battery slower than free portable battery chargers I’ve gotten at various events. The free chargers I’m referring to, you could get on Amazon for less than $10.

It also takes up more space than the portable battery chargers I’ve just referenced, and many others I’ve seen friends carry. It’s skinny but long and wide.

My recommendation is that you should get this charger if you’re going to a camping festival, like Bonnaroo… You stand to benefit from the fact that there will be no outlets. The flashlight setting wouldn’t hurt, either. For all other situations… get yourself a cheap portable battery charger.

The Panasonic Solar Charger was provided to me by Verizon to use for free during a review period of one month.