Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bespoke Post "Distilled" Review

And here's the Bespoke Post box that I picked up for my husband for Christmas, the last of our 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").  But I picked this one up for about $63 plus shipping with that deal.  Although I really love Bespoke Post's boxes, this will likely be our last for quite awhile as they are pricey to begin with. . . and exchange is killing my cross-border shopping these days :(  I won't cancel (yet) though because I can easily skip until there's a box I can't resist, our dollar gets better, or I need to pick up a great gift for someone.

Although Bespoke Post does ship once a month, their website allows you to 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 for this box, Distilled, it's the perfect combination of two of my husband's favourite things:  science and gin :)  Seriously, it's like a chemistry set for booze - check it out:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Two Awesome Coupons: FabFitFun and Five Four Club!

*Last Call:  These codes expire today, 12/31/15!!

Yikes! The coupon codes are out in full force this week - must be the time of year. . . or perhaps the force awakening?? (*cringes* Don't throw fruit at me, please!)

I usually share coupon codes during my reviews if I can find any but these two are sooo awesome, I had to share them immediately!  I love both of these subs and rarely see deals this good so if you want to try them out, now's the time (with a little Christmas money, perhaps?).

FabFitFun is offering 25% off purchases of their Winter box - regular price is $49.95 (plus $8 shipping to Canada) so that's a great discount.  I haven't reviewed mine yet (it just arrived on Christmas Eve) but it's a really nice box and includes easily over $250 in value! I'll post my review as soon as I can but in the meantime, you could check out my review of the Fall box :)  Just enter coupon code OMG!

- and Five Four Club is offering 50% off your first two months! This sub is regularly $60 US plus $25 surcharge for Canadians (which works out to about $115 dollars at the moment) so this coupon will get you 2-3 gorgeous, quality men's clothing items per month for $55 US (if you're Canadian, or $30 US if you're not).  I would highly recommend checking this one out - my reviews are here (September, October and November) if you want to see what kind of items might arrive at your door.  Just enter coupon code FFWINTER!

Bespoke Post's 2015 BLKBX Review

Bespoke Post offers a special "Black Box" (BLKBX) with Black Friday purchases (boxes or shop purchases over $45, I believe) each year.  I have never received one. . . until now!  I knew that I wanted to get a Bespoke Post box for my husband's Christmas gift so, instead of waiting until the 1st, I picked it up on Black Friday and this box came free (and became a bonus gift from Santa).   

What is Bespoke Post?  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!  So I was expecting some men's grooming and lifestyle items in here - and Bespoke Post did not disappoint.  Their regular subscription boxes are 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.  

This particular box was free with purchase (there will likely be another one next year FYI) but it will also show you the type of items and quality of products (I can not stress the quality enough!) that Bespoke Post offers.

First look:  lots of little, individually wrapped items :)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Frugal Fridays: A Christmas Thought

So, obviously I'm not doing a full-out FF post today - it's Christmas! I'm spending the day with family, especially with my boys :) Hopefully you're doing likewise. . . with your family. . . because it would be weird if you spent it with mine, lol! (unless you are my family)

Anyway, here's a frugal Christmas thought:

Your shopping is done.  The only thing you should be spending today is time with your loved ones :)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fabletics December 2015: Return Experience for Canadians

Well, that's a bummer! I was sooo close to picking up the gorgeous black sweatshirt dress last month.  But I didn't.  So this month, I saw it in another colour (this gorgeous winter white / black heather) and needed it.  Urgently.  I pictured myself lounging in front of the Christmas tree, sipping a cup of Tea Sparrow with a sheet mask on. . . *sigh*.  Doesn't the model look so comfy? But it was not to be.  So this month's "review" post is going to be all about the Fabletics return process, and how it works for Canadians, instead!

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.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Bisou Beauty Bar Haul and Product Reviews

Well, it's been quite awhile since I've done a hauls post! I've been getting them. . . but, I don't know. . . I guess I didn't think they were all that interesting? What do you think? Would you like more hauls? Are you interested in more skincare posts? Let me know what you think!

That out of the way, I decided I simply had to share this one with you because I am so incredibly impressed with this new source for asian / k-beauty products and I am excited to tell you all about it!

Bisou Beauty Bar is relatively new on the scene and operates out of Vancouver, BC (that's in Canada for those international readers).  They source their products directly from Korea and currently ship via Canada Post to Canadian addresses and via Canada Post / USPS to American ones.  The best thing about having a (reliable) source for my favourite beauty and skincare products in Canada is that they charge in Canadian funds! And offer free shipping on orders over $65! With our dollar the way it is, sourcing these products from the States or from Korea can get rather pricey. . . while BBB's pricing is not rock-bottom (like Rose Rose Shop or even Tester Korea), not paying for shipping or exchange definitely makes up for it, imo.  Plus shipping is so fast (like under a week during peak holiday season!), they have lots of items on sale and include plenty of free samples with your order.

The selection is not huge but they are adding new items regularly and I am so happy to see lots of items from CosRX, Re:cipe, LJH and SU:M37 (among other brands) since they make some of my favourite things (or things I really want to try) and can sometimes be difficult to find elsewhere.  Love!

While I have included lots of links in this post, they are not affiliate links.  All opinions are my own:  I have not been compensated for any of this and I purchased all of these products with my own money.

Here's what I picked up in my very first Bisou haul: 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Frugal Fridays: 10 Things You Should Know About Planning a Wedding

Today is my 5th wedding anniversary.  Yup, my husband and I have officially been married for half a decade.  So this isn't going to be a terribly long post - we have some celebrating to do this evening which means I need to clean / tidy my house so the sitter (my mom) doesn't think we live in squalor. . . we don't. . . I promise.  But I digress.  Thinking about our wedding, and pulling out the pictures, reminded me of all the planning and hard work we put in to make our wedding the way we wanted it. . . on the budget we had to work with.  Hence this post!

So, without further ado, I present to you the 10 things I now know that I wish I could travel back in time and tell my pre-married self about planning a wedding.  And yes, that's a ridiculously long title for this list ;)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Julep December 2015 Review

Julep's December 2015 Collection is the "Up All Night Collection" and, lol, can I relate. . . but not in the fun, party way they expect! Between the toddler (who rarely wakes, to be fair) and the baby (who makes up for it), I sometimes feel like I am truly "Up All Night!"

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 :)

On to the products!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Frugal Fridays: Checkout 51

First, thanks to my best friend for pointing me towards this next frugal service!  It's awesome to find new things to help save :)

Checkout 51 is another online service / app that issues you a cheque when you've saved enough cash - much like Ebates (and here's my post on how awesome Ebates is - we saved almost $100 on my husband's new computer!! No joke!).

Do you clip coupons for grocery shopping? Checkout 51 works kind of like that - except it's way easier and you don't have to carry around little pieces of paper with you.  Here's how it works:

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Five Four Club November 2015 Review

And now for month three of Five Four Club, the third and final "Volume" for the autumn season.  Five Four has indicated a slight change this season in order to provide customers with a more cohesive range of outfits per season.  In September, my husband received two shirts - one dress shirt and one lightweight hoodie (that review here) and in October, a fantastic fall jacket and scarf (that review here).  What would arrive this month? Pants, right? Gotta be pants? How else can we call this a "cohesive range of outfits" if it includes no bottom half?

Never heard of 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 was our first full-price month and it worked out to just about $115 with last month's exchange rates.  If you're interested, you could try coupon code AFMOMMY15 to get $15 off your first month or AVIATORS to pick up a free pair of sunglasses when you subscribe (I think they're both still working but if they're not, let me know and I'll adjust this).

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 we subbed, 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 - and he's definitely getting some more casual items, which he likes (his style is evolving!).  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, December 06, 2015

Tea Sparrow November 2015 Review

Mmm. . . tea :)  While I do drink tea all year round, the autumn/winter is decidedly my favourite time to curl up with a cup (and a good book, and a fire, and a cozy blanket. . . sigh).  And Tea Sparrow is my favourite way to try delicious new teas.  While I am consistently impressed with the quality and variety of teas sent each month, I think this month might be my favourite! And that's saying something!

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.  Or, for a limited time, use this link to pick up a Tea Sparrow gift subscription as a Christmas gift (I'd highly recommend it!) for 15% off.  Enjoy!

Now, on to the teas!

Friday, December 04, 2015

Frugal Fridays: Make it Meatless! (Part Two)

Last Frugal Friday, I decided to tackle the monumental task of a meatless cooking post (it's here if you like)! It was so huge that I had to continue it in a second post! As I explained in that post, opting to eat vegetarian or even vegan meals fairly regularly (even as little as once a week) can really save you some cash.  Meat products can be quite expensive.  So can some meat substitutes. . . but there are others that are cheap and delicious.  While many people hesitate to opt for vegetarian meals because they worry they won't feel full or have the misconception that they will somehow be lacking in iron and protein, that simply isn't true.

For comparison's sake, here are the stats on two commonly- recommended "cheaper" meat choices and last week's two "winners" - meat alternatives that are inexpensive while also being high in protein and iron.  The costs are from (where possible) and the nutritional content is through Google (I think they use Wikipedia) as well as when not available elsewhere.  I'm focusing on calories, protein and iron since that's usually what people ask vegetarians and vegans about, in my experience.  More protein will make you feel fuller so in terms of a healthy diet, higher protein in fewer calories is a plus.

Cost per kg Cost per serving (100g) Calories per serving Protein per serving Iron per serving
Ground Beef $12.75 $1.28 332 cals 14g 8% DV
Chicken $7.58 $0.75 239 cals 27g 7% DV
Chickpeas About $1.10 (dry) - $6.00 (canned About $0.11 (dry) - $0.60 (canned) 364 cals 19g 34% DV
Black Beans About $1.10 (dry) - $6.00 (canned About $0.11 (dry) - $0.60 (canned) 339 cals 21g 48% DV

Last time, I covered "Gateway Subs" - those easy substitutions that you might already eat or can easily add into your diet without it being too much of a shock.  This week, I will tackle "Next Step Subs" which are a little further from the average diet but still easily found in most grocery stores.  And I will also introduce you to some "Say What? Super Subs" that you may never have heard of unless you are vegetarian/vegan and that you may have to pick up at a specialty shop (health food store, natural foods store, etc.) if you decide to try them out.