Tag Archives: coupon

R.I.P. Goodies, Hello Love with Food


Subscription Box Saturday: Food Box Edition


I was sad to receive this email this past month:

028They don’t explain exactly why they are discontinuing the subscription box service, but at the $7 price-point (including shipping), I still question if subscription boxes can thrive. Although if anyone could swing it, you’d think Wal-Mart could. The email has me curious what is in store next that they cannot share.

Here was the contents of my final Goodies box:

051Of course, all things chocolate are long-gone. Everything in the box had a thin dust of what seemed like flour over it. Then I realized that it was coming from the foccacia mix. I still want to make it, but I wonder if it’ll turn out because I’m not sure how much of the mix was lost! I have not tried the other goodies, but they all are things that would be perfect on-the-go.

Love with Food

For those of you who subscribed to Goodies, I think you will be happy if you take the $5 off offer and come over to Love with Food.

Why? The subscription is more – $10 + $2 shipping. But for each box that ships out, a meal is donated to a hungry child. You can certainly feel good about that! I also feel like that the products in the LWF box are usually more new-to-me and a bit healthier and/or less processed. They do have fun themes, too.

October’s theme?

Scary Delicious!

It was quite appropriate for Halloween. Here are the scary contents:

chocolate Pizzelle Crisps from Silk City Snacks

Chocolate Pizzelle Crisps

Verdict? Meh. I’d rather have one piece of Dove Dark Chocolate (35 calories) than this 100-calorie bag.

Triple Berry Glee Gum

Triple Berry Glee Gum

I love that Glee Gum uses brown rice and cane sugar. It’s kind of a novelty, but I’m still not lovin’ this gum.

Caveman Cookies

Caveman Cookies

Dark photo – sorry. But I loved these! They are made with a mixture of pumpkin seeds and maple syrup. Festive and yummy!

Torie and Howard Organic Hard Candies

(not pictured)

I didn’t notice that they were even in the box until later. My favorite flavor of the bunch was the d’anjou pear and cinnamon!

Vinaigerie Gingras Pixo Pearls

Vinaigerie Gingras Pixo Pearls

What? These are apple cider vinegar pearls. Not exactly sure what to do with them yet. Need to go to The Google.

Happy Squeeze Fruit and Veggie Twist

Happy Squeeze Fruit and Veggie Twist

I brought this on our road trip back to Green Bay one weekend. Not bad with both the fruit and the veggies. {I’ve had the applesauce and other fruit squeeze pouches before.} I shared it with the pooches, because Sophie couldn’t get enough out of that pouch! She loved it! I may have to mash up some blueberries, apple and carrots for her dinner some time. That pouch is only 60 calories.

Dang Toasted Coconut Chips

Dang Toasted Coconut Chips

These are appropriately named because DANG! are they good! What’s interesting is that I first tasted these when the arrived in my very first Goodies Box. I guess some things come full circle. I’ve even sent these to a couple of Foodie Penpals. This will make anyone who loves coconut (and maybe even those who don’t!) very, very snackfully happy!

Kind Bar

Kind Bar

I love Kind Bars and want to try all the flavors. So I’m quite happy any time one ends up in any of my subscription boxes!



Love with Food doesn’t often put these kinds of coupons in their boxes, but you can’t exactly ship this item. So it’s a great idea! I’m looking forward to picking up a Lean Cuisine “Honestly” Good Entree to find out what they are all about.

I have a few new boxes in the works because I found some great trial coupon codes! You’ll learn about them in the next month or two. If you have any questions about any of them, let me know because they make the perfect gift!

If someone were to sign you up for a subscription box as a gift, which one or which type would you like it to be?


Top 5 Gifts for that Hard to Buy for Person Who Has Everything


Yes, we all have at least one of them on our gift lists. That person that you rack your brains over every year to find them a gift that they’ll actually like and use. If you’re lucky, you might find one that they’ll adore.

Gifts for that Hard to Buy for Person Who Has Everything

Believe it or not, my husband is hard to shop for when it comes to gifts. He thanks me politely and then the gift ends up on the shelf in a closet or in a drawer for an indeterminate amount of time before it disappears. That is so frustrating! The problem is that {as Racheal mentioned here}, when men want something, they tend to just buy it for themselves. It turns out, my attempt to be creative usually backfires on me.

A couple of years ago, I finally found the perfect gift – one that he loves and that keeps on giving:

an iPhone

It worked out perfectly because I am the one that handles our cell phone account. Plus, it was something he never knew he wanted. To this day, he still thanks me for this gift.

However, unless you are buying for your spouse or adult child, you probably aren’t going to buy anyone else an iPhone.

Instead, I’m thinking of those people that you may not know as well or those people who seem to have everything, or people like grandparents who are older and don’t want/need more stuff. With this list, I sincerely hope you find that aha! gift for that seemingly impossible person to buy for on your holiday list. If nothing else, maybe this list will spark an idea for something perfect!

Here are some items I’ve come up with over the years and are in no particular order:

1) Gift Card

  • I know some people who hate giving these. They feel that they are impersonal.
  • However, I love receiving them! I often wait to use them as weight loss or NSV rewards!
  • They are perfect for teenagers!
  • Think iTunes, sporting good stores for athletes, craft stores for the crafty, a unique store online that you found, an electronics store for the techie. Or just think about where your gift recipient often goes.
  • I know teachers who say they love getting $5 Caribou Coffee and Target gift cards that they can actually use.
  • And you’d know I’d accept a gift certificate to any restaurant just to try it out. {The first time we went to Sul Lago, there had to be over a dozen people who came in to get gift certificates. And this was before Thanksgiving!}
  • Not sure which gift card to get?
    • Many grocery and other stores have stands with all different types of gift cards in many denominations. Check out the stand to be inspired with ideas.
    • Do a search on line. Just Google: X {Gift Recipient hobby} + gift card.
  • This is what makes the gift certificates personal:
    • “I know you love to do this/these types of things! So pick out something you really want!” or
    • “I know you love this place and will use this!” or
    • “I thought of you because I love this place and thought you’d like to try it out.”

2) A Photo Canvas {or other photo gift}

  • My friend Stacy swears by the photo canvas deals on Groupon and other daily deal sites. You send in or upload a photo and they convert your photo to canvas. Your favorite photograph becomes a work of art you can hang on the wall. With all the traveling I love to do, I plan to pick out favorite from a trip to canvas-ize.
  • Grandparents love photo memories. A photo book or calendar you either create yourself or online will do the trick. {Note: I am NOT a scrapbooker, so I love using websites like Snapfish.}
  • If you are in to giving ornaments, consider a photo ornament.  I know people who give their children an ornament each year with the year printed on it so that by the time they leave home, they’ve got not only their own collection of ornaments, but also memories. A photo that depicts that year for someone or a memory of the two of you is a great idea.

3) Subscription boxes

  • I know, I’m addicted to these right now. But, really, but who wouldn’t want one?
  • If you love or want to learn more about wine, would you turn down a Wine Club gift subscription? I didn’t think so.
  • Two of my current favorite subscription boxes are:
    • Birchbox – Beauty, grooming and lifestyle products for women and men! Check out my latest box and review here.
    • Love with Food – Gourmet Food Samples. Each month your box ships, a meal is donated to a hungry child. Check out my latest box and review here.
  • Need a gift for a pet or pet parent? Check out BarkBox – my pooches LOVE IT! Latest box and review here.
  • Or how about a magazine subscription? There are so many unique ones out there now. Do a search online. Just Google: X {Gift Recipient hobby} + magazine.
  • There are also gift subscriptions for olive oil. We’ve done this before and have found exceptional quality!
  • And this Wisconsin girl would never turn down the gift of a Cheese of the Month Club!

4) Experiences

  • This is my favorite category! I’m talking things like:
    • Plays or concert tickets.
    • Cooking Classes – Twin Cities peeps: I’d recommend Saga Hill, Kitchen Window and Local D’Lish.
    • Spa Day – I don’t think I know of one woman who wouldn’t want this.
    • Or any experience that makes you think of your recipient! Like the Beer Trolley Tour I’m taking my husband on this weekend as part of his birthday box!

5) Your Time

  • This is one of the best and most cherished gifts you can give.
  • People who love you, but don’t really don’t need more stuff would love to spend more time with you!
  • Get tickets to a play or concert that you both love.
  • Take them to a movie, a trip to their favorite restaurant or do something together that you know they love to do, but don’t get to do that often.
  • Buy tickets for the event, or just create your own coupon that states something like: “Coupon good for: A Trip to Izzy’s Ice Cream”. I suggest putting an expiration date on it so that they will redeem it ASAP. (Although you don’t have to adhere to that expiration, of course.)

What’s the most unique gift you’ve given?

What ways have you given experiences or times to loved ones?

Happy Holidays~

The Power of the “Groupon”


I use the term Groupon rather loosely.

In fact, I use it to describe all dining deals that we buy and use, just like one calls a tissue Kleenex, whether it is that brand or not. So my apologies in advance to all of these Deal Sites that are just as worthy.

Not sure what a Groupon is?

Well, where have you been?! These are deals posted daily that allow you to get half-price or more off of gift certificates to restaurants, salons, gyms, spas, services, etc. For example, restaurant XYZ may have an offer where you can buy a $50 gift certificate to their restaurant for only $25. And boy do these gift certificates hold a ton of power!

What’s the catch? Well, you generally can’t combine them with any other offers, specials or promotions. However, the purpose is to bring you into their restaurant by a specific date. {The promotional value almost always has an expiration date, although the value that you paid for the certificate never expires.}

We love these deals! And while I’ve read some arguments on how they can do more harm than good for businesses, I think it is up to the restaurant to decide where they want to spend their advertising dollars. Because that is what the deal truly is – advertising. People become more aware of these businesses whether they buy the deal or not. For example, I received an email announcing a deal for the Amsterdam Bar and Hall. However, I forgot about it after I got busy doing something else and never decided to buy it. Still, I had never heard of this new establishment before and it intrigued me. So the next time we were in downtown St. Paul, we decided to check it out. And we did. The advertising worked.

That’s Power #1 of the Groupon: Introducing me to new places.

Power #2: Getting me there sooner than later. There are several establishments on our restaurant bucket list that we’d really like to try soon. However, our list of Groupons is extensive and we want to use those up before they expire. Sorry, La Belle Vie, while we do have a grand desire to try you out,  you are on the back burner for now. By buying a Groupon, I’ve essentially already invested in a meal there and I’ve committed to them for redemption!

Power #3: Exposing me to different neighborhoods. Living in a south of the river suburb of the Twin Cities makes it easy to frequent the same nearby places when we want to grab a quick bite. But a Groupon often draws us to other parts of the Twin Cities which we may have never visited otherwise. We are quite the fans of Northeast Minneapolis now! We even have a few places in St. Paul where we’ve become “regulars”.

Do you really buy that many of these, Carrie?

And how do you keep track of them all?

Why, yes. Yes, we do. We have over 30 pending right now. And yes, we use them all before they expire. I do want to offer you some key tips on how to decide which ones to buy {and when to pass}, how to organize and use them before the  promotional period expires and how to use them to splurge a little. {The following tips refer specifically to dining deals, but you can use similar techniques for spa, fitness, household and other deals as well.}

There are so many! Which ones do I buy?

First, sign up to receive the daily deals in your inbox. A list of deal sites in the Twin Cities can be found here. You can set up a “junk” email address, if you’d like. I have an email address that I use when I sign up for newsletters, deals, offers, and when I buy something online. That way, they don’t clutter my regular inbox. However, I do check this email once or twice a day.

If the deal appeals to you, click on it and study the following:

  • Location – Would you be willing to drive to this location?
  • Expiration Date – Check your calendar. Do you have time to get to this location before the expiration date?
  • Menu – Go to the restaurant’s website. Check out the menu. Does anything appeal to you? If not, there is no reason to buy it! A deal has no value if it’s not something you’ll use. {For example, I won’t buy deals from Italian restaurants that only offer spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parmesan and fettucine alfredo. They don’t impress me.}
  • Have you been there before? If not, just buy ONE deal. Nothing’s worse than finding out that a place wasn’t as you had expected and then being stuck with another gift certificate to use there. On the flip side, ff you’ve been there and love the place, only buy as many as you can fit into your schedule before the expiration date.
  • Look at the fine print and exclusions:
    • Most deals state that you can’t use them in conjunction with any other offer or promotion. That’s normal and makes sense for the restaurant’s benefit. However, if you love to go to a place for their happy hour and aren’t excited about anything else on their regular menu, the deal may not be worth it to you.
    • Does the deal exclude alcohol or particular dishes? Some do. When a $50 gift certificate is good for food only, it’s sometimes hard to get to that amount when it’s just my husband and me. To be sure, go back to the menu and check the pricing to make sure you’d be able to spend enough to cover the gift certificate.
    • Some deals are only good Sunday through Thursday. If you can’t get to the other side of town on a weeknight, don’t buy it!
    • Check when the restaurant is open. Sundays and Mondays are the days of the week many restaurants are closed. Make sure that the restaurant is open on the day and during the hours you are planning to visit. Keep in mind that some restaurants serve only brunch on Sundays, too.
    • Is there a minimum purchase? While I don’t see this much with many of the daily deals such as Groupon or Living Social, it is quite common on Restaurant.com. For example, you might need to spend $35 or $50 in order to use your $25 gift certificate. Again, analyze the menu.

Keep your deals organized!

Some people keep track of their deals on their phone with apps for each deal site. I need all of my Groupons in one place. We print out each deal as soon as they become available and put them in an accordion file:

Deals filed by month to use the ones expiring first!

We keep our file o’ deals locked in my car. That way, if for some reason we don’t do our homework and we find a place is closed {we learned this the hard way!} or we want to pop over somewhere else, we can just thumb through our trusty accordion file to see what we have available.

Use your deals before they expire!  {They aren’t deals otherwise.}

  • I keep a spreadsheet. Yes, I’m geeky like that. My spreadsheet includes the name, location, dollar amount, exclusions and expiration date. I keep them sorted by expiration date. However, if I want to use one in a particular city, I can sort that way, too.
  • Use those that expire soonest first. {Both the spreadsheet and file accordion file help with this!}
  • Schedule them on your calendar! We like to put the date we’d tentatively like to visit, but include the expiration date in case we need to change. Some prefer instead to put a reminder on the calendar about a month or two before they are about to expire. Again, remember to watch for holidays when the deal may not be valid and days that the restaurant may not be open.

There are some fun ways to use your dining deals!

  • Dining deals can make your night out seem much less expensive, especially when giving a new place a try.
  • If you normally would order a sandwich, you might want to use your deal to order some higher priced options such as steak or seafood.
  • You could use it to add an appetizer or try a more expensive bottle of wine. My sweet spot for restaurant wines is between $30 – $45. However, when my friend Ceci and I dined at Solera, we got a $65 bottle of Spanish wine when our server’s description had us drooling. We had a $25 gift certificate and since we are fellow wine lovers, splurged in the right place. We found one of our favorite restaurant wines ever! That bottle and that night out is unforgettable.

And of course, always tip on the pre-discounted total of your bill. Your server isn’t working any less for you and gratuity is not included. We try to leave our tips in cash whenever possible.

Dining deals can be worth it if you devise a system for buying and organizing them. Organization is key. In fact, we have at least two Groupons per week “scheduled” in our calendar through the end of July. I’m a geek. I know. But it’s fun. And it works.

What do you love about Groupons and other dining deals?

How do you use them?