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Every week it seems a new service is popping up which is subscription based. Traditional monthly subscriptions have existed for years (e.g. fruit of the month club at Harry & David). However, the buzz about monthly subscriptions seemed to pick up around 2010.  Just a few years later, the breadth of subscriptions available leads me to questions what is still left to tackle.

Today, let’s break down some of the subscription services available and the costs associated with them:

Beauty

  • BirchBox Cost: $10.00 per month for women and $20.00 per month for men

Clothing

  • Women:
    • Stitch Fix | Cost: $75.00 price per item on average (5 items per box or an average monthly cost of $375)
    • CakeStyleCost: $50.00-$450.00 per item
    • Le Tote– A little different in that you return the items. Think Netflix but for clothing | Cost: $49.00 per month
  • Men: Bombfell | Cost: $69.00 per month
  • Active wear: Ellie | Cost: $49.95 per month for two pieces
  • Shoes:
    • JustFab | Cost: $39.95 per month
    • ShoeMint | Cost: $79.98 per pair monthly 
    • ShoeDazzle– no longer offers this. Instead create a unique boutique for each buyer | Previous cost: $39.95 per month

Food

Children

  • Learning Projects: Kiwi CrateCost: $19.95 per month 

Extras

  • Pets (don’t forget your dog!)
    • BarkBoxCost: $29.00 per month
    • Jr. Pooch– clothing subscription for dogs. The descriptions make me laugh.
  • Green: Homegrown Collective | Cost: $39.00 per month
  • Boxes of Favorites:
    • POPSUGAR | Cost: $35.00 per month
    • FancyCost: $39.00 per month
  • Gifts: Subscription to any of the above services

What’s the grand total you may ask? To have a personal experience selected for you every month will come at a price of $203.85 each month (female) or $123.95 each month (male). That is assuming you chose the cheapest subscriptions, don’t have a child or a dog, and don’t like extras.

This list is just the services that I’ve heard about. Doing my research, I stumbled across a blog dedicated to this topic that has an impressive directory that you may want to check out.

Now the question remains, what subscription service is the world missing? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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February: Lemon Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

Lemon cupcakes with strawberry frosting

Happy Valentine’s Day! To celebrate the day, I opted to make cupcakes. Strawberry lemonade is one of my favorite treats. I decided that I needed to make it into a cupcake.

For the base, I used a wonderful lemon cupcake recipe from the Stir. The cake is a bit more dense than traditional cake. However, it is very moist.

silicon vs. tinFor this baking session, I tried using free-standing silicon cupcake holders and a traditional tin. The cakes looked so different! Can you guess which one is the silicon?

The silicon is on the left. The cupcake liners did not fit well so the cakes had an uneven bottom and one edge popping in. The traditional tin sheet gave the cakes a brown edge from the pan. Overall, I preferred the color of the silicon but the shape of the tin. I may need to invest in a silicon pan that is a solid piece of silicon.

For the frosting, I made a decadent strawberry buttercream from my baking addiction. However, I found that the strawberry flavor was not strong enough. It is most likely because strawberries are out of season. I ended up adding two more tablespoons of strawberries to the frosting with some powder sugar to thicken it back up. After a frosting disaster with my decorating bag, I gave up and went with the old fashion smooth frosting style.

To add a little wow to cupcakes since the frosting was so plain, I opted to make hearts from strawberries. Here is a Vine of my cutting technique:

Natural Winter Wreath

I do enjoy the occasional craft project. When I found the adorable rose shaped pine cones in my parent’s yard, I could not resist. This wreath can be made for Valentine’s Day or just as a winter decoration. You could even paint the whole thing red to look like roses.

Add some decoration during the long winter months.

Add some decoration during the long winter months.

Natural wreath for Valentine's Day.

Natural wreath for Valentine’s Day.

How to Make the Wreath

Supplies:

  • Styrofoam wreath: I used a 16″ flat. However, it was a lot to cover.
  • Deodar Cedar Cone Roses: I used at least 100. You’ll be surprised how many it takes
  • Sheets of green moss: if you opt not to paint the wreath a color
  • Spray paint: optional and not used on the wreaths pictured above
  • Natural bark covered wire (if you want a heart)
  • Red berries (if you want a heart)
  • Wire: 24 gauge
  • Hot glue: lots of it!
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Scissors to cut the moss

Instructions:

  1. Using the 24 gauge wire cut multiple pieces about 1.5″ long. With your needle nose pliers make a small closed loop at the end of the wire. The loop should be about 1/8″ or less. Make it tight around your pliers. The theory behind adding the loop is it will help to make the bond with the pine cone more secure.
  2. wired pine conesThe pine cones have a natural hole in the back. It makes the perfect spot to add the wire. Add some hot glue to your wire loop and place it inside the hole. Leave the pine cone upside down to dry. These lovely wired pine cones could now also be used on other projects.
  3. If you are painting your wreath, now would be the time to spray it down with the color. Make sure to use paint that will not eat through the styrofoam. If you are going for the natural look, now is the time to place your moss sheets on the wreath. Try to cover the edges as well. However, don’t worry if you have some small gaps. The gaps can be covered with pine cones. You may need to cut the moss to fit the wreath. (I did mine a little backward because I decided to add the moss after I’d already set the pine cones. The pine cone color looked too pretty to paint.)
  4. Adding mossStart pushing your wired pine cones into the wreath. Pack them in as tightly as possible to create a fuller wreath. If you are using the moss, the wired pine cones will act as the bond to the wreath. Aim to put the wires at the edges of the moss and through the thicker areas of the moss.
  5. Your wreath is now complete as a winter wreath. Add a ribbon to make it festive. This would be the time to spray paint over the pine cones if you are going for a solid look. Continue reading if you would like to add a heart to the middle.
  6. Take the bark covered wire and make a loose heart that just overlaps with the center of the wreath. This should give you a general idea of the length. Add a little extra to be safe.
  7. With the initial length in mind, triple up the wire. I found that the one wire by itself was too skinny. Now cut the wire and twist the three pieces together to make a vine like structure. The twist does not need to be perfect. The gaps will make it interesting when you add the berries.
  8. Heart shaped wireStart to form a heart shape with the vine. Make it so the point of the heart and the two curves overlap with the edge of the wreath. Again, do not worry about making it absolutely even. You want it to match with the natural elements on the rest of the wreath. However, do make sure it lies flat on the ground.
  9. BerriesUsing your hot glue (yes, this is a lot of glue) make a tiny strip of glue on the front of the heart following the wire. Add two or three berries. Repeat this process until you cover the whole heart. The goal is to follow the lines of the wire so that you have spots where you have three berries next to each other and other spots where you just have two. By laying the berries this way, you will keep the natural feel of a vine.
  10. Cut 3″ of the 24 gauge wire and bend it in half. Feed the open arch through the bottom point of the heart between the wires. Using your pliers twist the wire so it makes a tight wire stake. Repeat this process for the two arches.
  11. Take your finished heart and lay it on top of your wreath. You may need to temporarily remove a few of your wired pine cones to place it in. Using the three wires, secure the heart to the styrofoam. Add back in any removed pine cones. You may also need to re-glue any berries that came off during placement.
  12. Voilà! You have a Valentine’s Day wreath. I secured mine to my door using a loop of fishing line.

Did you try making a wreath for the winter of Valentine’s Day? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!

Super Bowl Sunday

Image

The Super Bowl is a great time to go shopping. The malls are empty and it is the time of year when you can start to look at spring clothes. However, with the 49ers playing this year, I felt that as a resident of SF, I needed to watch the game. It was a good game with a rough ending.

The highlight of a Super Bowl party is the extremes of sweet and salty food. I took the game as an opportunity to make pretzels for the first time with cheese sauce. The recipe was posted on Pinterest from the site Smells Like Home. Although it took more time than I originally anticipated, the work was worth it. I doubled the batch and was pleased that I did. However, my mixer had mixed feelings about handling that much dough. The cheese sauce was OK. Next time I may try to make a sour cream or ranch sauce with chives.

On the tech side of the world, it is great to see the evolution of big companies using social media. @Oreo rocked it. With the power outage they quickly came up with a witty tweet. Articles today credit the fact that they had a team setup with complete control to execute on a real time campaign. The work really paid off in terms of buzz. I would be curious though if they will be able to correlate it back to Oreo sales.

Success is a journey…

Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome. – Arthur Ashe

Thank you Brian for sharing this quote! It feels very appropriate for so many startups (mine included).