Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Escape Monthly (European Christmas) Review, December 2014 + 20% Discount Codes!

Thinking outside the box can make the difference between a great sub box company and a mediocre one.  That's exactly what Escape Monthly did with their December box.  I have subscribed to Escape Monthly since April of this year. Every box has introduced us to a new destination with products representing that area.  There has always been a travel guide included.  I enjoy those but quite frankly, there is a growing pile of them in my living room and I'm starting to trip over them.  It would be quite interesting to know how many of those actually inspire REAL trips?

Anyway, December is a bit different.  This month, Escape Monthly focuses on European Christmas traditions.  I found this box to be quite a relief from the relentless holiday retail cacophony and I especially enjoyed the departure from sending a travel guide.  But I'm getting ahead of myself. The big aqua blue box arrived right around Christmas and weighed in at a whopping three and a half pounds.

Open the lid and you see their statement aqua chevroned tissue paper with our travel brochure on top. I wish "Smell-A-Blog" existed so I could share the wonderful scents emanating from this box!

There are eight products in this jam packed box, all representing different Christmas and Yuletide traditions in various parts of Europe.

The tri-fold brochure tells about the inspiration for this box and gives information about each item included, including its country of origin and retail price and a bit of trivia. Did you know that the ancient Romans celebrated a holiday called Saturnalia on December 25th?  That has a slightly satanic sound to it but the day actually honored their god of agriculture.

Here's the source of the fabulous aroma wafting out of the box....a package of "Bisschopswijn Mulling Spices".  That unpronounceable and nearly unspellable word means "mulled wine" but these spices can also be used to flavor apple cider or cranberry juice.  The mix that is creating the incredible scent includes bits of orange peel, cinnamon pieces, whole cloves and allspice, orange oil and cinnamon oil. Although this is meant for flavoring drinks, you can also simmer some on the stove to infuse the air or just toss some in a potpourri dish.  This particular product is made in Iowa but the blend is reminiscent of the flavors most appreciated in the Netherlands. If you're interested in ordering this product or any of its variations (not a bad idea), you can purchase it directly at their site.

Candles and tea are two of my favorite items to receive in subscription boxes.  This box of Stash tea contains 18 tea bags containing a caffeine-free herbal tea called "Christmas in Paris". This tea is a blend of cocoa shells, peppermint, lavender, chocolate flavor and vanilla extract...quite an interesting mix!  As you can see, the label is in English on one side and French on the other side. Love that this is a full size item!


Another French product is this tube of Clement Faugier Creme de Marrons de L'Ardeche Chestnut Spread.  The brochure says that this is a staple in homes across the French countryside during the holidays.  It can be used in crepes or as a side with cheese and wine.  I think the packaging here is interesting; in the U.S., it might be mistaken for toothpaste or hemorrhoid cream!

This beautiful book is a guide for touring Europe with Christmas in mind.  It is called "European Christmas" by Rick Steves.  Unlike other tour books we have received, this one is full of color photos and written in a much more engaging narrative style than a typical tour book.  There is a section each for England, Norway, France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.  This is really a comprehensive guide to the holiday traditions in these countries and even includes recipes for their best loved Christmas dishes.  

There is an exquisite handcrafted snowflake ornament from Germany. The center snowflake dangles inside the outer frame on a single thread.  So when it's hung, it takes on a beautiful fluttering 3-D effect. I've done a lot of needlework in my life but I'm not familiar with the technique used here. This is not tatting or any form of crochet that I recognize. It has the precision and extremely fine thread of machine made lace but it is actually a handmade item.  If anyone can enlighten me, please comment below. 

Next is a good sized bag of Mini Madeleines by St. Michel.  These come from Normandy, France and are light, moist and delicious.  I actually have a madeleine baking pan that I've never used so perhaps these will inspire me! I'm wondering how these would taste with a bit of that chestnut spread from above? (How very American of me!)

My favorite item in this box is the 10 oz. jar of St. Dalfour Red Raspberry & Pomegranate fruit spread.  This looks delicious and I can't wait to try it.

The bonus item in this box is a Nougat de Montelimar which is a simple nougat bar made with almonds, honey, pistachios and egg whites.  This comes from the town of Montelimar in France. By the way, if you've subscribed to any of the boxes that feature foreign candies, you might have experienced quite a few nougat-based candies from Europe. It seems to be almost as popular there as chocolate is here.

That's all for the European Christmas box.  The total retail value of this box is $57.00. Boxes cost $49.95 but you can use codes MYESCAPE or YOUDESERVEIT to get a 20% discount for the life of your subscription, making it only $39.96.

I really enjoyed the departure from routine represented in this box and hope that Escape Monthly will do similar seasonal variations in the future.  In the meantime, January's box is taking us to Portland, OR. Portland is known for its "weirdness", gourmet food, luxurious bath & body products and artisan owned companies so this is sure to be an interesting adventure. If you sign up soon, you can also use the code PORTLAND to get 20% off your subscription.    

Methinks there are spices to be mulled now!


Disclosure:  Views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own.  Product discussed in this post was purchased with my own money. Post does not contain referral or affiliate links.

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