Mediacom Internet: Reviews, Pricing, & Performance

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Mediacom Internet

Mediacom is one of the prominent Midwest and Southeastern internet service providers, available in 21 states and serving well over six million customers. Providing high-speed broadband internet through a cable network, Mediacom offers six internet packages along with digital cable TV and phone services.

If you live in the Midwest or South, Mediacom may provide internet connectivity to your area where other providers don’t, making them the obvious choice. With a range of internet packages from low speed to high, the company allows its customers to choose the plan that suits them best. Furthermore, customers who live in an area covered by Mediacom’s Xtream Hotspots can also get connected outside their homes.

Mediacom internet packages

Mediacom’s internet plans vary in four key areas:

  • Download speed
  • Upload speed
  • Usage allowance, also known as a data cap
  • Price

Uploads and downloads are measured in Megabits per second, or Mbps, representing how fast data can transfer from the internet to your computer or vice versa. Usage allowance is the maximum amount of data you are allowed to transfer each month, usually measured in Gigabytes, or GB.

Access 60

  • Designed for light internet usage
  • Downloads up to 60 Mbps
  • Uploads up to 5 Mbps
  • Usage allowance of 60 GB
  • Mediacom package speed: 15 Mbps, etc.
  • Mediacom package price: $19.99/mo, etc.

Internet 60

  • Designed for 2-3 simultaneous devices
  • Downloads up to 60 Mbps
  • Uploads up to 5 Mbps
  • Usage allowance of 400 GB
  • Mediacom package speed: 15 Mbps, etc.
  • Mediacom package price: $19.99/mo, etc.

Internet 100

  • Designed for 3-6 simultaneous devices
  • Downloads up to 100 Mbps
  • Uploads up to 10 Mbps
  • Usage allowance of 1,000 GB
  • Mediacom package speed: 15 Mbps, etc.
  • Mediacom package price: $19.99/mo, etc.

Internet 200

  • Designed for 6-12 simultaneous devices
  • Maximum download: 200 Mbps
  • Maximum upload: 20 Mbps
  • Usage allowance of 2,000 GB
  • Mediacom package speed: 15 Mbps, etc.
  • Mediacom package price: $19.99/mo, etc.

Internet 500

  • Designed for 12-20 simultaneous devices
  • Maximum download: 500 Mbps
  • Maximum upload: up to 30 Mbps
  • Usage allowance of 4,000 GB
  • Mediacom package speed: 15 Mbps, etc.
  • Mediacom package price: $19.99/mo, etc.

Internet 1 GIG

  • Designed for more than 20 simultaneous devices
  • Maximum download: 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)
  • Maximum upload: up to 50 Mbps
  • Usage allowance of 6,000 GB
  • Mediacom package speed: 15 Mbps, etc.
  • Mediacom package price: $19.99/mo, etc.

Mediacom availability

Mediacom offers internet plans in many Midwest and Southern states, as well as select states in the West. The states that Mediacom serves are listed below:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Mediacom also offers WiFi connectivity through Xtream Hotspots available in seven markets:

  • Alabama – Gulf Shores
  • Arizona – Apache Junction
  • Georgia – Valdosta
  • Illinois – Quad Cities, Galena
  • Iowa – Des Moines, Dubuque
  • Minnesota – Savage
  • Missouri – Columbia, Jefferson City

Mediacom features

Besides basic connectivity to the internet, Mediacom packages include other features. Some are included free and others are available at an extra charge.

In-home WiFi

Routers supplied by Mediacom provide WiFi service inside your home, although coverage for larger homes may require an upgrade to the Xtream WiFi 360 package. Although there is no additional charge for the WiFi service, the modem/router fee is currently $11.50 per month. Subscribers may purchase their own modem/router as long as it is compatible with Mediacom’s system.

Xtream WiFi 360

Designed to give your home WiFi connection a boost, Xtream WiFi 360 uses extenders to amplify your WiFi signal and give fast, consistent service throughout your whole home. While there are promotions available to provide this service free of charge for a limited time, the standard rate is $5.00 per month.

Total Defense security suite

Available at no charge, Total Defense protects up to five personal devices, computers or Android mobile devices, with anti-spam, anti-spyware and anti-virus applications and personal firewall, anti-phishing and parental controls.

Xtream Hotspots

Mediacom hosts hundreds of WiFi hotspots, allowing subscribers unlimited access and users without a Mediacom internet plan free access for 30 minutes per month.

Additional usage allowance

While each Mediacom internet plan does have a data cap, users may add more capacity at a $10 charge per 50 GB.

Additional pricing information

While some new subscribers can install their modem themselves, a standard installation by Mediacom includes a $99.99 fee. Some installations require a Mediacom-approved professional. All new customers must also pay a $10 one-time activation fee.

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3 Best Replacement Window Brands of 2019

If you’re looking for new replacement windows, there are a lot of factors to consider before deciding which is the best window brand for you. What do you value most when it comes to replacement windows? Here are some of the questions you should answer before purchasing:

  • What is your budget?
  • What style of replacement windows do you like?
  • Do you want energy-efficient windows?
  • What type of frames do you need?
  • What warranty options are available?
  • Do you need your replacement windows professionally installed? 

This deep dive into the three best replacement window brands of 2019 considers all of these factors in order to help you decide which replacement windows are right for you.

new replacement windows with green trim

Noel V. Baebler / Shutterstock

The 3 best replacement window brands

Pella Windows

If you value high-quality, energy-efficient windows backed by years of experience, then Pella is a great option for you. The company has been around for nearly 100 years and is a true leader in window innovation. Additionally, they offer an energy-efficient product line with “options that will meet or exceed ENERGY STARⓇ certifications in all 50 states.” And no matter your favorite styles, colors and materials, Pella offers the perfect replacement windows for you.

Pricing: The price of Pella windows depends on the style and material you choose. Double-hung windows from Pella cost between $124 and $355.

Andersen Windows

Andersen Windows is another best brand for several good reasons: they’re long lasting, energy efficient and low maintenance. You can trust that these replacement windows, which offer a modern style,  will hold up well over time. Best of all, Andersen allows you to design your own replacement windows so you get a good match for your home.

Pricing: The design-your-own option will vary depending on the type of window you need, but the average replacement double-hung window from Andersen costs between $409 and $674.

Simonton Windows

If you’re looking for vinyl replacement windows, Simonton is the brand you want. While they’re known for their vinyl, their customer service and impressive warranties are proof that this brand is committed to quality. In fact, they’ve won multiple awards for their quality and performance. When you’re looking for durability and customer satisfaction from your replacement windows, Simonton is a great place to start. 

Pricing: The cost for Simonton double-hung replacement windows can range from  $150 to $1000, depending on the size of the window, the type of vinyl chosen and the thickness of the glass..

Window Warranties

Even with the best window brands, there is bound to be a defect from time to time. It is essential to consider the warranties offered when choosing a replacement window brand. Without a good warranty, you could lose hundreds of dollars to remove a bad window and then reinstall a new one.

Pella offers a variety of warranties on their products. One of the best offers is The Pella Care Guarantee, which “is available exclusively for replacement customers who purchase and install Pella products through their local Pella Window and Door Showrooms.”

Andersen also offers a warranty on all of its products, and it can even be transferred if you sell your home.  If/when you sell your home, you can transfer your warranty to the new owner with their exclusive Owner-to-Owner limited warranty.

Simonton’s warranties have helped them win awards for customer satisfaction. Like some of Andersen’s warranties, they are also transferable. Many products from Simonton come with a limited lifetime warranty.

window open in home

Regfer / Shutterstock

Window Replacement Process

Once you decide which is the best replacement window brand for you, next you’ll have to find the right supplier/distributor to purchase them from. Some companies have local showrooms that sell their products. Another great option is to visit a home improvement store, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot, or to shop their sites.

After you have purchased the replacement windows, you’ll then need to hire a qualified local installer to install the windows in your home. The companies often train their preferred contractors and dealers so that your replacement windows are installed quickly and perfectly. Before you hire anyone, be sure to search for them online so that you can read reviews from other customers. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. 1. What is the best brand of replacement windows? 

The best option for your home will differ depending on your budget and window needs. Consider costs, available styles, energy efficiency, frame types, warranties and professional installation options.

  1. 2. How do I buy replacement windows?

The best place to start is the company’s website. They make it easy to purchase directly from them and often have contacts for qualified installers to install the replacement windows in your home. 

  1. 3. Where can I buy replacement windows?

In addition to purchasing online from the company’s website, you can also go to your local home improvement store, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. These stores often sell the best window brands.

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Best Home Internet

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Best Home Internet: Reviews and Comparisons

Internet access is basically a necessity these days. About 87% of Americans use the internet; we rely on it for everything from online banking to keeping up with friends. If you’re looking for the best home internet to help you stay connected, look no further. We’ve done the research to bring you the top five home internet providers.

What makes the best home internet?

As a home internet customer, you’re probably looking for the best value, speed, and service for your money. To evaluate the best home internet plans, we took all these important factors into consideration.

  • Price: We looked at the advertised monthly price of an internet plan with a minimum 100 Mbps download speed. These prices don’t include additional fees such as service or equipment.
  • Packages: Service providers sell several different tiers of packages, with faster speeds costing more per month. Some providers offer a wider range of options than others, giving you more control over your monthly bill.
  • Customer reviews: For unbiased customer ratings, we referred to the J.D. Power U.S. Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study. This study awarded each service provider with a star rating between 1 and 5, taking five factors into consideration: performance and reliability, cost of service, billing, communication, and customer service.
  • Speed: Internet speed and reliability are important to pay attention to, as not all home internet plans live up to their advertised speed. We used the PCMag Speed Test to judge each provider in this category, which uses a weighted scoring system to determine the fastest internet nationwide.

Best Home Internet


At the top of the list, Verizon offers a combination of top-rated service and speed for a reasonable price with its Verizon Fios service. J.D. Power gives the provider a perfect 5-star overall rating, with top scores in each category. At $39.99 per month for 100 Mbps download speed, you’re getting a good value for your money. PCMag agrees; Verizon Fios tops our list of fastest internet service for home with a score of 186.1, 50% faster than the second runner-up.

The only area where Verizon falls short is its variety of packages. There are only three plans currently advertised on the provider’s website. However, at $79.99 per month for the top tier 940 Mbps plan, you’ll still be getting a great deal no matter which speed you choose.


If you’re looking for highly customizable wireless home internet, Optimum is a good provider to look at. They have an incredibly diverse package lineup with seven basic speeds to choose from, not counting add-on features like extra modems and smart routers. A 200 Mbps plan costs $44.99 per month, the best value on this list. But if you’re looking for something even cheaper, Optimum offers low-speed plans for as little as $24.95 per month. The reliability isn’t too bad, either; PCMag gives it second place with an index score of 111.1.

Optimum’s customer reviews are somewhat mixed. J.D. Power gives the provider 3 stars overall, although it should be noted that a score of 4 stars was awarded for customer service. Billing and communication got less than ideal ratings, each with 2 stars.


Third on the list is Comcast, an internet provider that is well-known for its Xfinity service. The price is a bit high, at $54.99 per month for a 100 Mbps plan. However, PCMag acknowledges good speeds with a score of 102.3.

In terms of customer feedback, J.D. Power puts Comcast in second place with an overall score of 3 stars. The area where customers feel the provider is lacking is in value for money; Comcast only gets a 2-star rating for cost of service.


Cox offers a decent range of home internet plans, starting at $29.99 per month and going all the way up to $99.99 per month. For comparison, however, the provider’s 150 Mbps speed will set you back $59.99 per month, which isn’t a great value next to some of the other best home internet providers. Looking at speed, PCMag puts Cox in the middle of the lineup with a score of 90.4. This is a significant jump from 2018, when the provider’s score was just 71.3.

Customers give Cox an average 3-star rating according to J.D. Power. But if customer service is important to you, take note: the provider gets 4 stars in this category. Cox is also a great option if you’re looking for no-contract home internet, with options for prepaid internet plans.


At $44.99 per month for a 100 Mbps plan, Spectrum gives its customers fairly good value for their money. Unfortunately, the reviews don’t quite agree, as Spectrum only receives a 2-star rating from J.D. Power. PCMag gives the provider a speed index score of 76.7. Still, there’s plenty to like about this provider. If you like the idea of getting WiFi on the go for free, home internet customers who choose Spectrum get access to more than half a million hotspots nationwide included with their plan.

These best home internet providers are known for their nationwide consistency in speed, price, and service. For a more accurate analysis, look for reviews of providers specific to your geographic area. 

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Onyx Is The New Marble And Here’s Why

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There’s a new stone that’s taking over marble’s popularity — and it’s onyx. Are you wondering what the difference is between onyx vs. marble? Onyx is actually a type of marble and it has many of the same properties. The difference is the stunning patterns and veining in each slab.

Onyx comes in varying degrees of patterns and a rainbow of stunning colors. Many of the most popular onyx colors — like jade, mint, light pink and warm tan — work well with today’s on-trend colors.

onyx vs. marble

Dusty pastels and earth tones are the hottest colors at the moment and the warm tones of onyx stone tie in with the look. Image: Philipp Shuruev/Shutterstock

An interesting quality of onyx is its lack of opacity. Onyx is more translucent than marble, making it a great stone for lighting or for creative purposes like a backlit wall or surface that casts a glow and enhances the stone’s patterns.

onyx decorating ideas

A panel of onyx was backlit to cast a glow and display the intricacies of the stone. Image: T_A_P/Getty Images

Considering onyx vs. marble? Here are some onyx decorating ideas that can help you incorporate onyx in your next home design. We even have some onyx home accents in stores now that you can add to your space to bring some unique texture to your room.

Pastel Onyx Decorating Ideas

You’ll find onyx in pinks, lavenders, tangerine, pale blues and celadon-like greens.

different between onyx and marble

An onyx wall adds texture and high luxury to a room. If you’re on a budget or renting, consider onyx-patterned wallpaper instead. Image: Philipp Shuruev/Getty Images

onyx home decor

The cool, smooth surface makes a great table or counter. Just remember to give it the same care you’d give marble since both stain easily. Image: Philipp Shuruev/Getty Images

onyx decorating ideas and onyx home decor

A dramatic pink onyx bathroom gives this large space a modern yet art deco flavor. Image: snorkulencija/Shutterstock

Warm-Toned Onyx vs. Marble

If you find marble a little cold in hue, the classic earthy shades of onyx may be a refreshing option, especially when paired with crisp white or greys.

onyx decorating ideas

Onyx may be a better choice for a bathroom or kitchen if your space feels too flat or cold. Image: tulcarion/Getty Images

onyx bathroom decor

Your powder room may be small but can be dramatic. This one features onyx mosaic tiles, countertop and a vessel sink. Image: T_A_P/Getty Images

onyx kitchen countertops

Gold is one of the most popular tones of onyx and works with nearly any home design style. Image: Corinne Labastrous/Shutterstock

Neutral Onyx Colors

If you’re looking to add texture without the warm tones, you’ll find onyx patterns featuring black, cool beige and pale greys.

onyx tile

This bathtub backsplash is understated and neutral, but still interesting, thanks to the onyx tile’s veining. Image: Food Travel Stockforlife/Shutterstock

onyx or marble?

For a dramatic effect, try adding some black onyx to a room. The white veining is high contrast and looks like a piece of art. Image: Philipp Shuruev/Getty Images

onyx decorating ideas

How’s this for a dramatic dining room setting? Image: Philipp Shuruev/Getty Images

onyx vs. marble decorating ideas

A grey onyx bathroom looks contemporary and unique. Image: Vadim Ovchinnikov/Shutterstock

Onyx home accents in stores now:

onyx vs. marble decorating ideas
onyx vs. marble decorating ideas
onyx vs. marble decorating ideas
onyx vs. marble decorating ideas


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BloomsyBox: a Flower Lover’s Dream

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Subscription boxes are officially a thing. There’s a box for whatever interests you. If you’re a makeup lover, Birchbox is just the thing. If you and your hound are besties, you’ve got BarkBox. Basically, if you want a subscription service that suits your tastes, there’s probably a fill-in-the-blank-box out there for you. Think your “thing” might be too hard to ship? Think again. I was thrilled to discover there’s one for people who love flowers: BloomsyBox.

BloomsyBox offers weekly or monthly shipments of fresh flowers delivered right to your doorstep. I was a little skeptical. For starters, flowers fade fast. Am I really going to get wow-worthy blooms out of a cardboard box that’s been on a truck for who knows how long? And then there’s the fragility issue. You really expect me to believe you can send me a full bouquet of flowers and they’re going to arrive in great shape? Well, I got my own BloomsyBox to find out. And — spoiler alert — the answers were yes and yes.

bloomsybox 5

Get single-variety and mixed bouquets shipped to your house on the schedule that works for you. Image courtesy of BloomsyBox.

How BloomsyBox works

BloomsyBox is a flower-of-the-month (or week, if you’d prefer) club. You decide if you want a bouquet monthly, bi-weekly or weekly and dictate the size of bouquet you’d like to receive. They do the rest.

The flowers

BloomsyBox features both mixed and single-variety bouquets. The latter means that instead of getting a mixed bag of flowers — including some that will die in a few days and you’ll have to carefully pick out of the bouquet — you get a full bouquet of a single type of flower. (I got a single-variety box of lilies.)

BloomsyBox varies their shipments, so you might get tropical flowers one shipment, tulips the next and then a mixed bouquet. Or, if you know you want to stick to roses, BloomsyBox has also partnered with Martha Stewart for rose-only shipments curated by Martha herself.

And each box comes with an informational card so you can take great care of your blooms, extending their lifespan as long as possible.

The sources

I was impressed to learn that BloomsyBox has put some thought into their sourcing. They partner with nearly 50 family-owned farms for their flowers, all of whom are Rainforest Alliance certified. That means your flowers grow without toxic chemicals and the workers get fair conditions.

Another fun fact about BloomsyBox’s sourcing is that they’re able to get their flowers from their source to you in two to four days. They say that’s about half the amount of time it takes for flowers to get to a vase in your home when you get them from a florist or a grocery store. That’s because BloomsyBox doesn’t need any middlemen. They ship the flowers straight from their sources, where they’re arranged, to you.

bloomsybox 1

Martha Stewart Roses also ship on a monthly schedule, but at a slightly different price point. Image courtesy of BloomsyBox.


The monthly BloomsyBox comes in three sizes:

  • Bloomsy S, $40/month
  • Bloomsy M, $50/month
  • Bloomsy L, $55/month

The monthly Martha Stewart Roses also comes in three sizes:

  • Small, $50/month
  • Medium, $55/month
  • Large, $65/month

Just can’t get enough flowers? Fear not! BloomsyBox also offers more regular shipments:

  • Bloomsy Bi-weekly, $50/every two weeks
  • Bloomsy Weekly, $45/week

Oh, and here’s a perk! All BloomsyBoxes ship free.

100% satisfaction guarantee

BloomsyBox says you’ll never have to pay for a bouquet you didn’t like. If you get a flower variety you truly dislike, you’re not out of luck.

bloomsybox 3

My BloomsyBox sure did bloom! Image provided by Kacie Goff.

My BloomsyBox review

This all seems pretty good, right? If you’re a flower lover, you’re probably always trying to keep fresh flowers in your house. But that extra trip to the florist is a hassle, and grocery store bouquets often leave something to be desired. Could BloomsyBox fill the void?

I got a box to find out. However, I was initially concerned. When my box arrived, one corner was bashed in. It’s been raining a lot in my area, so a lot of my packages have been showing up a little disheveled. This one, in partcular, looked like it had been through the ringer between BloomsyBox and arriving at my door. But, upon opening it, I found the blooms inside unscathed.

I received a large box of lilies in my shipment. Upon arrival, all of them were closed. This wouldn’t have been ideal if I had been planning on hosting a dinner party that night, but I was personally thrilled. I trimmed the ends and put them in a sunny spot and, sure enough, in a few days, I had colorful blooms opening up. And I continued to enjoy my bouquet for nearly two weeks. Now that’s fresh!

bloomsybox 4

The BloomsyBox was so large I used some of the blooms to add color throughout my apartment. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

The size of my shipment also impressed me. It barely fit in my largest vase! I put out a few of the blooms to make small arrangements for my bathroom and guest room and a lily for my coffee table.

The pros and cons of BloomsyBox

All in all, the freshness, quality and size of my BloomsyBox impressed me. It’s a bit of a splurge, but if you’re already spending money on fresh flowers on a regular basis, it could be an awesome way to cross an errand off your list. Plus you know you’re getting your flowers from a sustainable source. Here are my takeaways:


  • High-quality flowers
  • Fresh shipments
  • Free shipping in boxes that truly do protect the flowers
  • Quality, sustainable sourcing
  • Variety of size and shipment frequency options


  • Expensive (when compared to grabbing a bouquet at the grocery store)
  • Few customization options
bloomsybox 2

Want to try your own BloomsyBox? Use our promo codes below. Image courtesy of BloomsyBox.

Get your own BloomsyBox

All that said, would I recommend BloomsyBox? If you love having fresh flowers in your house, absolutely. It’s a fun way to treat yourself and, because you know the flowers are coming from ethical, sustainable sources, it’s totally guilt-free! And, of course, Freshome has you covered if you want to check BloomsyBox out for yourself. Here are a couple of promo codes you can use:

With spring in full bloom (if you will), it’s the perfect time to bring some life and color into your home. Enjoy your blooms!

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Birchbox: Treat Yourself Without Busting Your Budget

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Who doesn’t love a little retail therapy? After a stressful week at work or, heck, even a stressful meeting, treating yourself to something nice is a fun and easy way to banish those blues. The only problem? It can get pricey. And that’s doubly true if you love beauty products. That trip to Sephora adds up fast — and there’s no guarantee you’re going to like all the products you buy. That’s where Birchbox comes in.
birchbox 1

Birchbox sends you curated beauty or grooming samples for $10 a month. Image courtesy of Birchbox.

What is Birchbox?

Birchbox is a monthly subscription box that sends a curated selection of beauty or grooming product samples. Each box is stocked with five samples, some from iconic brands and some from new and exciting ones. Oh, and the best part? Birchbox is just $10 a month.

If you’re into beauty or grooming products, Birchbox is a dream. It’s a fun and easy way to try out a handful of new products each month, saving you from a medicine cabinet spilling over with partially used products you bought, tried and didn’t love. And, speaking of savings, it’s a whole lot more affordable to try products this way, too. Plus, they have a pretty impressive list of brands, so you can rest easy knowing your box is going to come with some quality stuff.

Birchbox customizes your box to you. When you sign up, they’ll have you fill out a Beauty Profile. You tell them what kind of products you’re into and give them some info about your hair and skin. Then, each month, they use your beauty profile to curate your box. (And I think it’s pretty effective. My boxes were spot on for me.) Plus, you have the chance to pick one of your samples each month from a set list of options, which I think is a fun add-on. They email you when it’s time to pick for each box so you never have to worry about missing your window.

Sounds pretty cool, right? But, as with all subscription boxes, it all comes down to actually testing it out. So I signed up for Birchbox to get an inside look.

birchbox 2

My February and March boxes. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

My Birchboxes

Good news, savvy reader. As of this writing, I’ve received not one — but two — Birchboxes, so we’ve got some good hard evidence to go off, here.

birchbox 3

The body creme was my favorite from this month’s box. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

February Birchbox

In February, my box included:

First things first, that body creme is incredible. I’m something of a lotion aficionado. You’ll never, ever catch me without a quality lotion in my purse, in my glove compartment, at my desk, by my couch — you get the picture. And JUARA’s product is worth talking about. It smells great, feels luxurious upon application and keeps your skin feeling hydrated without leaving you greasy.

And, bonus, my liquid eyeliner was on its last legs, so the Eyeko came at an ideal time. And it, too, is great. Plus, I don’t know if the sample size is just big or if I got a full-size liner in my box, but it seems like it’s gonna last me a while. And since the liner retails for $22 on Birchbox’s site and I only paid $10 for my entire box, this subscription was already feeling like a steal.

Would March be equally impressive? I tracked my box obsessively once it shipped to find out.

birchbox 4

The perfect prep-for-summer box. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

March Birchbox

In March, I got:

Okay, the people at Birchbox must be mind readers. This box was pretty much everything I had been thinking about getting for summer. No joke. I’m always looking for a good sunscreen that doesn’t feel gross to put on. And, as I’m coming up on 30 fast, I’ve noticed these beautiful crow’s feet developing by my eyes. Anticipating spending some time in the summer sun at the beach, I was thinking I should probably grow up and buy an eye cream.

And, speaking of quality beach time, what’s a more perfect look than a rosy lip balm and some highlighter on your cheeks? It was also pretty clutch that they gave me another leave-in conditioner since that’s the literal only hair maintenance I’m willing to do (so sorry, hair). So, yeah, I give them an A++ for this box.

The highlighting cream, in particular, is awesome. It’s super shimmery so you only need a tiny bit. And it smells like summer! That little tube is going to last me forever so, again, I feel like Birchbox is a steal.

Check out Birchbox for yourself

I’ve been trying quite a few subscription services lately (others I’ve loved include Home Chef and BarkBox). A lot of them are great, but Birchbox is one that I really don’t know why you wouldn’t try. I mean, it’s $10 a month. And I’m not big into makeup, but I love to treat myself. I got some seriously luxurious products (hello, collagen eye pads!) that felt truly tailored to me. As the product description card included in my March box reminded me, “There’s no time like now to take a moment for yourself.”

Ready to get your own personal moment shipped to your door? For a limited time, click this link and use coupon code FIRST10 to get your first box for only $10. (Regularly $15 a month.) Treat yourself.

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BarkBox: the Subscription Service that Treats Your Four-Legged Friends

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Who doesn’t love getting presents? If the spike of subscription box services has taught us anything, it’s that we love getting gifts in the mail. And if we have to buy them for ourselves, so be it. But, sometimes, we like to spread that love around. That’s where pet subscription boxes like BarkBox come in. Designed to delight our furry family members, these boxes ship stocked with treats, toys and more. When I set out to try the BarkBox — the dog equivalent of the subscription box trend — I expected a few toys my dog may or may not like. What I got was so much more.
barkbox promo

BarkBox is a monthly subscription service that ships your pet a gift box full of themed goodies. Image courtesy of BarkBox.

How BarkBox works

First, I hate to break the news, but BarkBox is only for dogs. (But don’t worry, there are plenty of cat subscription boxes out there.) Now, let’s talk logistics.


Each BarkBox shipment is valued at over $40 but costs notably less. How much you pay per box will depend on the length of the subscription you set up. Specifically, BarkBox costs:

  • $29 for one month
  • $25 a month, or $135 upfront for six months
  • $22 a month, or $239 upfront for a year

Based on the box I received, I’d say that’s a pretty great deal. But more on that later. We’ve got more details to sort out first.


Each box ships free if you live in the contiguous United States. That’s pretty neat, huh? If you live in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rice or Canada, your shipping will cost $8.


To make sure your pup is getting treats and toys he or she can truly enjoy, BarkBox comes in three different sizes according to your dog’s weight:

  • Small: 20 pounds or less
  • Medium: 20 to 50 pounds
  • Large: over 50 pounds

When you sign up, you’ll let them know which size box you want to receive. And, if you’ve got a dog who’s still growing, you can change your sizing throughout your subscription.


Now, BarkBox isn’t just going to send you a random assortment of junk each month. Far from it. They curate monthly themes to add some zest and playfulness to each month’s box, making it as fun for the owner as it is for the pup. Some past themes include:

  • The Knights of the Hound Table
  • Chewrassic Bark
  • The Good, The Bad and the Pugly
  • Throwbark Thursday
  • Bento & Blossoms
  • Sniffin’ Safari

The box I received was Valentine’s Day themed and came with a cute card with the following poem that I just had to share:

Noses are wet,

Violets aren’t food,

I’m looking for chew love…

And I think it’s YOU!


Want more or less of a certain type of item? BarkBox offers a TAILored program that customizes your box to your specifications. Contact their Happy Team to make your requested changes.

And, if you’ve got a pet with food allergies, you’ll be happy to know two things. First, BarkBoxes never contain wheat, soy or corn. Secondly, BarkBox offers an allergy-friendly BarkBox if your dog can’t handle beef, chicken and/or turkey.

Maybe food isn’t your problem as much as your pet’s play habits. If you own a four-legged friend who loves to destroy toys, you can choose BarkBox’s Super Chewer offering, designed specifically for dogs like yours.

Scout’s Honor

BarkBox has a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee for both you and your dog. If you or your hound are less than impressed with an item in your shipment, you can get in touch with their Happy Team and they’ll make it right — scout’s honor.


Our BarkBox was very on-theme and very fun to open. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

My first BarkBox

Okay, that all sounds pretty good, right? But what’s it like in reality? I took BarkBox for a test drive to find out.

The BarkBox I received was packaged inside a cardboard box for shipping and tied with a pretty red ribbon. I’m a sucker for good presentation, so my first impression was solid. And that continued as I opened the box, which was lined with a très cute V-Day themed liner and stocked with the aforementioned card, three toys, two bags of treats and a chew.

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The very V-Day contents of our first BarkBox. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

Specifically, our box contained:

  • Coco-Nuts For U Valentine’s Treats
  • Ham Over Heels Valentine’s Treats
  • Hearts and Farts Boxers
  • Be My Howlentine Rose
  • Squeakhearts (three small squeakable plush hearts in a crinkle bag)
  • I Love Chew

The Squeakhearts have been a huge hit at my house. The little bag in which they come has an easily openable velcro top. When my dog is driving me a little nuts while I’m trying to work (like at this exact moment, actually), I put a treat in the bottom, stuff the hearts on top and close it. It keeps him occupied long enough for me to at least type out a paragraph uninterrupted.

The Coco-Nuts treats were also a pleasant surprise. When I first opened the bag, I got a huge whiff of chocolate. Which is, uh, disconcerting, to say the least. But upon closer inspection, I learned that they contain carob, a dog-safe chocolate alternative. A perfect Valentine’s Day treat!

Between all the fun and romantic toys and treats, I ended up with a bunch of items I would never have chosen myself that both my pup and I have been loving. So if you’re looking to spice up your pet’s life, BarkBox is an amazing resource.

barkbox rose

My dog got in the Valentine’s Day spirit thanks to his themed toys. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

The pros and cons of BarkBox

All in all, my impression of BarkBox is extremely positive. Letting their pros hand-pick items for your four-legged friend is an excellent way to change things up if you often find yourself getting in a toy or treat rut. And I was personally really impressed with the quality of both the toys and treats in our box.

TL;DR? Here are the pros and cons of BarkBox:


  • Fun themes make the shipments feel extra special
  • High-quality items
  • Reasonable pricing and free shipping in most states
  • Customization options based on dog size, allergies and toy destruction levels
  • Scout’s honor satisfaction guarantee


  • Inability to control what’s in your shipment (I see this as a pro, but I can understand wanting to be more involved)
  • $8 shipping in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Canada
  • You’ll definitely need a bigger toy bin/box
  • No options for cats

Get your free BarkBox

Sound like something you might want to try? For a limited time, you can use our link to sign up your pup for a 6- or 12-month subscription and BarkBox will give you an extra month free! Just use the code FRESHOME. As they told Freshome, “If you’re a dog, there’s nothing better than BarkBox — a monthly delivery of toys, treats and everything that makes tails wag. If you’re a human, what’s better than FREE?”

We can’t really argue with that. And even if they weren’t running such a great deal, I’d still recommend giving BarkBox a try. Whether you choose a single box or sign up for years, your pet will definitely thank you.

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Blue Apron: Does This Meal Delivery Service Deliver?

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Technology has driven services that simplify our lives. And that’s perhaps most apparent in the kitchen. You can get your groceries delivered. Alexa can read you recipes. And meal delivery services like Blue Apron can make cooking a breeze.

All at a cost, of course. Most of Blue Apron’s meals are $10 per serving. That’s not a hefty fee, but it’s comparable to delivery. So is it really worth the extra work it takes to put the meal together yourself? I got my own Blue Apron box to find out.

blue apron 1

Blue Apron was one of the first meal delivery services on the scene. Image courtesy of Blue Apron.

How does Blue Apron work?

Blue Apron, like other meal delivery services including Home Chef and HelloFresh, ships everything you need to make meals right to your door. They do all the work of meal planning and grocery shopping. When your Blue Apron box arrives, you load the ingredients for your set number of meals into your fridge. Then, whenever you’re ready to whip up one of their delivered recipes, you pull out the ingredients and get started. It makes home cooking simple.

Blue Apron offers four plans:

  • Signature Plan for 2: You get to pick two or three weekly recipes that will feed two people. Meals are $10 per serving and everything ships free.
  • Signature Plan for 4: You get to pick two, three or four weekly recipes that will feed four people. Meals are $9 per serving and everything ships free.
  • WW Freestyle: You get to pick two or three weekly recipes that will feed two people and will all contain 15 or fewer Weight Watchers SmartPoints®. Meals are $10 per serving and everything ships free.
  • Vegetarian Plan for 2: You get three weekly recipes that will feed two people. Meals are $10 per serving and everything ships free.

Blue Apron partners with farmers to bring you the freshest, healthiest ingredients. They offer sustainable seafood as recommended by Seafood Watch®, their ingredients are non-GMO and none of their meat suppliers use any growth promoters (e.g. hormones).

Blue Apron is also pretty flexible. You can skip and reschedule deliveries from within your account provided you do so before a set date (basically, before Blue Apron has already started prepping your next shipment). You can also switch plans as needed.

blue apron 3

Blue Apron’s ingredients were definitely fresh. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

My Blue Apron box

This all sounds pretty good in theory, right? I mean, I hate grocery shopping and am always rushing to put together a meal plan for the week. But is it worth the price tag? I got my own Blue Apron box to take this meal delivery service for a spin. I received three meals. And I will say, the ingredients were definitely fresh. So fresh, in fact, that even though it took me over a week to find the time to prepare all three meals, everything was still in perfect condition.

One thing I will say, right out of the gate, is that I’m not a fan of the way Blue Apron presents their ingredients. Some other meal delivery services I’ve tried put everything you need for each recipe in a convenient package (usually in a single bag). Blue Apron’s ingredients ship loose in their box, for the most part. (Some of the smaller ingredients like spices and sauces come bagged together). Since everything was loose, it took me longer to put away and longer to gather ingredients when I was ready to cook. And — oops — the lemon they sent me got used in a green smoothie. Fortunately, I keep lemons stocked so I was easily able to replace it, but I’ll never know if that Blue Apron lemon would have really transformed the dish.

Now, let’s talk through the meals I received. Quick note: I’m a vegetarian so all of these meals are meat-free.

blue apron 2

I tried the Spring Pea & Mushroom Ramen first. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

Meal #1: Spring Pea & Mushroom Ramen

The Blue Apron box had good timing. I was battling a nasty cold and grocery shopping was definitely not something I wanted to do. Plus, I was thrilled to see that one of the meals was a warm, nourishing-looking ramen, perfect for my current condition. So I made the Spring Pea & Mushroom Ramen from my box first.

This meal came together super easily. I was sort of dreading cooking, but my husband’s been working long hours so I was fending for myself. It took me probably 15 minutes start to finish to whip up this dish. Major win! As a serious ramen lover, I was really looking forward to digging in.

And I found myself disappointed. While the ramen was definitely nourishing and the hot broth felt great on my sore throat, I thought the overall dish was a little lacking in flavor.

As I said, though, I’m a big ramen fan, so maybe my standards are too high. It was time for meal two to show me what Blue Apron had to offer.

Meal #2: Spicy Broccoli & Fresh Fusilli Pasta

Next on the docket was Spicy Broccoli & Fresh Fusilli Pasta. My husband has recently decided he likes pasta (thank goodness!), so we were pretty excited to put this one together. I’m obsessed with mascarpone and the included wedge of Grana Padano cheese was a definite perk.

Once created, did it live up to the hype? Sort of. This meal was, again, super easy to cook. But, again, I was a little underwhelmed. It was definitely good, and I would have confidently served it to a friend. But it also tasted pretty simple, even with all the impressive cheese additions. Would I make it again? Sure. Was it worth $10 a plate? Not really.

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Finally, we had a meal worth repeating. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

Meal #3: Chipotle-Roasted Cauliflower Romesco

First, let’s straighten this out. While the recipe title denotes that it includes cauliflower, I actually got romesco in my box. Which was totally awesome because I’d never cooked with romesco before! Plus, it’s really pretty. So it was time to make my Chipotle-Roasted Cauliflower, er, Romesco.

They say third time’s the charm. And, wow, that was definitely the case here. The flavors in this dish were varied and notable. The chipotle had a great kick, and the crème fraîche mashed beans and lemon yogurt sauce balanced it beautifully. I think my husband and I  both inhaled our dinners in about 30 seconds.

Another thing I loved about this recipe is that it included bright, crisp radishes but I don’t have the rest of the bunch languishing in my produce drawer, fated to almost certain demise. I mean, really, how often do you feel like slicing up a radish for a snack?

With this last meal, I think we finally saw what Blue Apron has to offer. The other two may just have caught us on an off day, or maybe vegetarian meals aren’t their strong suit. But with meal #3, I was wowed.

Try Blue Apron for yourself

Would I recommend Blue Apron? Sure. Would I recommend trying other meal delivery services, too, to find out which you like best? Absolutely.

And if you want to take Blue Apron for a spin, we can save you some money. Get $60 off your first three boxes through Freshome.

Blue Apron definitely makes dinner time a little simpler. And that’s something worth celebrating!

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