Saturday, November 28, 2015

Bespoke Post "The Butcher" Review

This is the second "month" (I skipped one!) of my super-awesome Groupon deal for a Bespoke Post subscription.  Ordinarily, a box is a little pricey at $45 US (or $55 for a one-time purchase).  Shipping to Canada is an extra $10 but I have found a few boxes that will not ship here (one I really wanted was "too heavy").  Boxes do ship once a month but you can easily skip a month or swap out the box they've selected for any other available box (there are usually a few new options as well as some old favourites).  If you forget to skip or swap, they will send you your default box for the month, as many of these types of subs do.  Billed as a men's subscription, I prefer to think of Bespoke Post as a lifestyle sub.  True, some boxes seem very geared towards men but a lot of them would appeal to anyone!

As I mentioned, I got in on a fantastic deal with Groupon:  three months of Bespoke Post came to $63.20 US plus shipping (because. . . Canada).  Total.  That means I will be receiving three boxes of my choosing for less than half price :) Although I'd love to keep them all to myself, we will likely be using most of these for Christmas gifts so. . . if you're friends or family and don't want your gifts spoiled, stop reading! You've been warned ;)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Err. . .

I know I promised a Frugal Fridays post for today - my Make It Meatless (Part 2) post, to be specific! But. . . err. . . Black Friday. . . shopping. . . No one's surprised, right?

Instead, here are three simple tips for keeping (reasonably) frugal on the biggest shopping weekend of the year:

1.  If it's not on sale, don't buy it!! (This is a weekend for sales - regular pricing need not apply!)

2.  If you don't need it, don't buy it!! (I got car seats - yay! I passed on the great slow cooker deal b/c I have one - yay for restraint!)

3.  If it's an online purchase, don't forget to use your Ebates!! (lots of bonus cash back to be had this weekend)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Julep November 2015 Review

Julep is a monthly nail polish subscription box / beauty subscription.  Their polishes are 5-free and vegan-friendly which I love! For $24.99 per month (or $19.99 per month if you sign up for 3 months up front), you will receive your choice of 2-3 nail polish / beauty items each month according to your profile.  "Classic With a Twist", "Bombshell" and "Boho Glam" profiles receive 2 polishes and 1 beauty item; "It Girls" receive 3 polishes and "Modern Beauties" receive 2 beauty items.  But now, no matter what profile you are, you can totally customize your box or even switch to a totally different box! And you can skip any month after your first month as a Maven (Welcome Boxes don't count).  Sounds perfect to me!  

If you're interested in trying out the subscription, my links will take you to a FREE Welcome Box, just pay the cost of shipping - this will sign you up for the subscription so be forewarned about that (if you scroll down though, you can get in for the 3 month rate of $19.99 per month).  Check out the Welcome Box I received here.  This is an American sub so do factor in the cost of exchange although, aside from Welcome Boxes, shipping is free for Mavens - even Canadian ones :)

November's Collection was "The Switch-Up Collection" and all about shifting seasons. So, what did I get?  Well. . . a lot of stuff, as usual!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Frugal Fridays: Make it Meatless! (Part One)

As you may have discovered through previous posts, we don't eat a lot of meat in my house.  I am not a strict vegetarian but I am a mostly-vegetarian.  I eat eggs and dairy, fish and seafood and, occasionally poultry - it's easier to eat some meat since my husband and children do! When I first started cooking regularly for my then-boyfriend, a meat-eater lover, he had two concerns about vegetarian meals:  they had to be filling and they needed iron. I was quickly able to show him that vegetarian does not mean starving or lacking in iron. . . nor do the vegan recipes we've embraced either!  Incidentally, he says he much prefers bean or lentil-based meals than those which use more "meaty" meat substitutes like tofu, tempeh or seiten (say what? more on those next week!) so if you're nervous about trying something different, those might be good places to start.

But vegetarian / vegan cooking can mean delicious, easy meals that are good for you (have you read the stuff they're saying about red meat consumption?), and even better for your pocket book!

So without any further ado, here's my guide to the best meat alternatives and substitutions, complete with recipes (most of which, I have actually tried!).  If you have Pepperplate, you can easily add the recipes you like to your collection by clicking the link and then clicking the "add to Pepperplate" button on your browser (if you downloaded it).  If not, then it might take a little more effort ;) I have organized them from the easiest, gentlest starter subs - things you probably already eat, to things you may not eat but can probably find in the grocery store, to things you might not have heard of and might need to purchase at a specialty store.  The Gateway Subs are included in this post and I'll tackle the rest next week :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fabletics November 2015 Review

I skipped last month's Fabletics but this month. . . well, let's just say they had me at snuggly Arctic/winter inspired outfits :) As much as I really dislike winter by, say, March, I love late autumn-early winter:  snuggly blankets, no more yard work, sweaters, and body conscious outfits that don't show a ton of skin :)

For those who are unfamiliar with Fabletics, they offer monthly workout outfits (or loungewear, if you're more like me) starting at $49.95 for VIPs (and seemingly at $10 increments from that point depending on the items and the number of items - outfits tend to be 2 or 3 pieces).  It is a subscription program so at the beginning of each month, you must either choose an outfit or opt out for that month - if you fail to do either, you will be charged the $49.95 minimum cost although you can later use that money to make a purchase (it's not like a punishment fee or anything).  To make things even more enticing, Fabletics offers your first month at half price - that's $25 for one of the cheaper outfits (or half of whatever the cost is of the outfit you choose).  Note the phrasing there:  "first month" - that means that taking advantage of this offer will set you up in their VIP program and you will then either need to purchase/skip each month. . . or I guess you could take advantage of the offer and then cancel if you really wanted to.

Now that that's out of the way, on to this month's outfit! 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Frugal Fridays: Cheaper Breakfasts In a Hurry

Last week, I tackled why you (and I!) should stop buying coffee (that post here).  Even when it's 7:30 and you needed to be on the road 10 minutes ago to drop your kids off before you have to get to work.  It's all about planning ahead and setting yourself up for success.  And the same goes for breakfasts.  How many of you cannot resist the call of the McMuffin (especially as you line up for your morning cup?)? Or worse, how many of you have just gone without the "most important meal of the day?"

Thing is:  we know we should eat breakfast. . . and we know that anything we make ourselves at home is going to be cheaper and healthier (and way more delicious) than anything we buy on the go.  But it doesn't always happen.  All we can do is set ourselves up for success - it's easier to stick to a plan if it's foolproof. . . and to actually eat your breakfast if it's ready and waiting for you (and more appetizing than a baggie full of Cheerios - not that I don't like Cheerios but I digress).

Here are some delicious ideas to feed yourself (and your family, if you have one) quickly, relatively easily and cheaply in the morning!  They run the gamut from ready-to-eat, to handheld, to minimal prep in the AM. . . and I've tried almost all of them.  Most are ovo-lacto vegetarian (that means they include eggs and/or dairy) but some are vegan and others can be easily veganized or meatified if that's your thing.  Personally, I find breakfast is the easiest meal to make meatless and cutting back on your meat intake can save you a ton of cash (upcoming post alert!). If you have Pepperplate, you can add these recipes to your collection with the click of a button (and here's why I love Pepperplate)!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Happy Bloggiversary!

Umm. . . so this was actually yesterday. . . but I forgot :(

It's been one whole year since I started this blog! We've been through some times, haven't we? Happy posts, sad posts, and lots and lots of reviews.  What are your faves? What are you most excited to read?

And, in honour of the day, here's my greatest hits, the top 5 most read posts from the past year:

5.  Frugal Fridays:  Save Money By Planning Your Meals (Oct. 23, 2015)

I'm happy one of my Frugal Fridays posts made the cut! It's kind of fun for me to cost things out and think about responsible finances :)  Here are all of my Frugal Fridays posts.

4.  Fabletics August  2015 Review (Aug. 16, 2015)

Still love me some Fabletics :)  November's review is coming soon! (here it is!)

3.  SquareHue September 2015 Review (Sept. 19, 2015)

Well, that's interesting. . . I'm not subbed to SquareHue any longer and this post pretty much explains why.  I guess a lot of you felt similarly?

2.  Memebox Superbox #77 Foot Therapy Review (Dec. 14, 2014)

An oldie!  And one of my first box reviews!  Memebox was so fantastic for a time.  And then they broke up with the world (well, aside from the US, China and South Korea basically).  Ah, well, here's a throwback to what once was.

And. . . the most read post on my blog this year was. . .

1.  Colour Blindness:  Figuring It Out (Sept. 2, 2015)

Thanks for this :)  Obviously this is a topic near and dear to my heart and my first post about raising a child with colour blindness was a long time in the making.  It definitely needed more researching than most of my posts.  And it's also one of the ones I am most proud of.  It is rewarding to see many of you felt similarly :)

Here are all the posts in my series on this topic.

Whether you've been with me all year or this is your first visit, thank you.  When I started this, it was just for me to write.  I wasn't sure anyone would even care to read what I had to say.  While I know I don't have a huge readership (blogger has stats, you know), I do know that there are some of you who stop by from time to time.  So thanks!  Cheers!

Five Four Club October 2015 Review


Here's our second month of Five Four Club.  As indicated last month, Five Four is making a slight change in order to provide customers with a more cohesive range of outfits per season.  Last month, my husband received two shirts - one dress shirt and one lightweight hoodie (that review here).  We were hoping for a bigger ticket item this month and Five Four did not disappoint!

What is Five Four Club? It is a men's clothing subscription out of California.  They have a lot of celebrity clients (including Mark Wahlberg) and offer a variety of Five Four-branded clothing items.  It is a little pricey at $60/month (especially for Canadians since there is an additional $25 surcharge for us - boo! - and exchange on top of that!) but there are, occasionally, deals to be had.  This is our second half-price month (since I used an awesome coupon code!).  Coupon code FBSAVE50 might let you get your first box at half price.

When you join Five Four Club, you fill in a pretty detailed profile indicating your sizing and preferences so that your stylist can select the perfect items for you.  Last time around, my husband signed up for "Business Casual" and picked up a lot of button-down shirts.  This time, he opted for "Mix" to get a little more variety.  I notice that the style profiles have changed a bit from last year - Casual, Forward, Classic and Mix - which I like.

So, what did he get this month?

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Tea Sparrow October 2015 Review

Despite the warm weather we've been having, it is autumn (right?) and that's my fave time of year for curling up with a good book and a good cup of tea.  So it's the perfect time for Tea Sparrow!

What is Tea Sparrow?  A fave sub in my house!  For $20 CAD per month (including shipping), Tea Sparrow sends 4 different types of loose leaf tea (so yes, you need some way to brew loose leaf  - tea balls are an inexpensive option) - usually a green, a black, a rooibos and an herbal but sometimes they mix it up.  The teas are separately packaged and are each approximately 0.6oz for a total of about 35 cups of tea per month (less if you use a lot of tea in brewing, maybe more if you're willing to brew twice using the same tea). 

If you want to try Tea Sparrow, check out this 60% off offer and get your first month for only $8! When you click the above link, you will be taken to a password-protected page.  Enter "teas" as your password and you will be offered the promotional discount.  Please be aware that this will start a recurring monthly subscription but Tea Sparrow allows you to skip any month through their website (although why would you want to?) and you can cancel at any time.  Enjoy!

So what arrived in my mailbox this month?

Friday, November 06, 2015

Frugal Fridays: Stop Buying Coffee!

I know. . . sometimes you're running out the door with two kids, a backpack, a briefcase and you realize you haven't even brushed your teeth, let alone had anywhere near enough caffeine to face the day.  (What? Just me?) And these are the days when the allure of the drive through coffee shop is almost impossible to resist.

But, have you ever stopped to ponder just how much your daily cup is costing you?  And if there is an easy way to avoid this cost to begin with? No? Well, it's your lucky day because I, apparently, have nothing better to do than conduct a little coffee comparison shop just for you :)

Seriously, I think this might shock you. . . I didn't expect these results to be so dynamic!