*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something. Thank you so much for your support!
Have you heard of Date Night In Boxes?
I asked my followers on Instagram if you'd be interested in a review, and the majority of you said yes! So I reached out to Night In Boxes and asked if I could be an affiliate, which would allow me to test out their products for you all.
What is NIB? Sometimes it's hard to find a babysitter when you want to go out for date night, or you don't want to spend a ton of money on activities and dinner. That's where Night In Boxes comes in. Their idea is that you sign up for a monthly subscription box, and they'll send you a box filled with activities, small treats, a menu for the evening, and other fun things. They create "date night" for you - all in the comfort of your home.
Now, I thought this was a great idea. Sometimes it can be hard to come up with something to do on a free evening, and maybe you're on a budget that month. So having a built-in subscription that sends you all of the accoutrements for a fun night together sounded like a lovely idea.
Here was our experience!
When we first got the box in the mail, I was really excited - I mean, look at the packaging! How pretty is that?
I didn't want to open the box itself until Jacob and I could do it together, on our actual date night, so instead I went onto the website. When you sign up for the box, you'll get login information so that you can access the monthly theme page. There, you'll find an invitation, a Spotify playlist, menus, grocery lists, and more of the printables that come in the box itself, but are online just in case you need them.
I started off by printing out the invitation and giving it to Jacob. He was very surprised, but thought it was really cute. I thought it was a sweet idea, too.
Then, I decided to look at the grocery list and the menu ahead of time so that I could go shopping and cook for our "date night" in advance! The menu was created to match the theme, and even though everything looked delicious, I think it would have been nice for them to include alternate menus for those who are vegan, vegetarian, or kosher, like us. We were still able to alter a few of the recipes to make them appropriate for our dinner, but something like the shrimp-based recipe we couldn't do much with. But the idea of having recipes laid out to match the theme of the evening was truly lovely.
And look how nicely my veggie burgers turned out! (That's ricotta cheese and tomato pesto, for those who are curious.)
Opening the Box
Our date night finally arrived! I took seriously the idea that we were having "date night," even if it was at home. I put on some makeup, took a little bit of time to prepare dinner, and mixed our drinks before Jacob came downstairs so that I could present it to him.
Then, Jacob and I opened the box together. It was kind of exciting! What would be in there? What would we be doing tonight? As you can see from the above picture, the box is chock-full of really adorable items.
After sitting down and eating our dinner, we cracked into some of the activities. The Date Night In Box comes with a booklet that walks you through your date, which is a nice touch. It also offers you some topics to discuss over dinner, which I think would be fun for some couples, but we didn't enjoy it as much. We tend to have a lot to talk about, so adding table topics wasn't as necessary for us.
Then we moved onto the chocolate fudge that they included in the box, which was delicious! I do hope that they will offer a couple of different options to those who purchase their boxes in case they have any food restrictions. I think that would be a great addition to their box selections.
After finishing up the food, we followed the booklet's guide. We learned how to play Mexican Train, which was a great game, and we played a Murder Mystery card game, which we also enjoyed. After that, we made a time capsule together that we are supposed to open in ten years - hopefully we remember!
So what did we think? I think it's a great idea, but you have to know your relationship. For us, this was fun, but there were definitely moments that were a little too geared toward a woman's perfect date night, which wasn't always my husband's cup of tea. There were other parts of the evening, like the menu, the added decor (with the candle cover), and the games, that we really enjoyed. All in all, I would recommend it! If you're interested in trying it, follow this link and get 2 months free with a 6-month subscription with code NIB2FREE!
Here are the pros and cons:
1. Forces you to make time for each other. If you have a hard time making plans for just the two of you, I think this is the perfect solution. After the kids go to bed or after a long day at work, you have everything you need right at home to have a fun evening to remember.
2. Plans everything for you. Do you hate figuring out what you're going to do together? This takes all the guesswork out of it - and puts all the responsibility on the box itself.
3. You can stay home and have a great time. Don't want to get a babysitter? Don't want to go out after having been at work all day? Don't want to get dressed up? Here's a great solution.
And here's a pro from Jacob!
4. They coordinate and bring across the monthly theme well. The box we received was 1920s themed. You can see from the pictures, everything has an art-deco look. There is a striking, Gatsby-esque black and gold design on the box, the candle shade, and all the other materials. The game was a speak-easy, prohibition themed mix up between Go Fish and Clue. NIB is strong with theme across all the materials, the menu, and the activities, and that is something to appreciate. If you're busy and harried by all else there is in life, "date night" may just be dinner at home with some wine you don't normally have. The Night In Box is really something different - because of the theme.
1. Can be geared more toward a woman's idea of a perfect date night. We've only tried one box, so this may not be true for all of NIB. But with NIB's Great Love theme, we did notice that some of the prompts were distinctly more fun for me than for Jacob. He was a good sport, but he doesn't always want to talk about our feelings and "favorite moments," which is totally fair! So if your guy isn't interested in that kind of thing at all, he might not like certain aspects of the box.
2. Room for improvement with some of the pieces included. This is basically only in reference to the dominoes. We noticed that some of the white dots that were supposed to be colored in simply weren't. Which made playing the game a bit more confusing!
3. More food options to appeal to different allergies or restrictions. As I mentioned above, I think it would be a really great addition to the boxes if they could offer different meal options for people with religious observances or allergies. That would take the box from good to great!
Have you tried NIB? Would you be interested in trying it? Are you going to purchase a subscription? Let me know in the comments down below :)
I must admit, I have a rather unpopular opinion.
I didn't like Mad Men.
Can you believe it? I know. Everyone and their mother was obsessed with that show. Well, after seeing that the entire series was available on Netflix, I decided to watch it - beginning to end. I liked the idea of the nostalgia, of seeing the fashions change through the 60s and 70s, of understanding these characters inside and out.
I was highly disappointed.
Here's why. WARNING: Major spoilers ahead!
1. The production value doesn't make up for the characters. Whenever I talk to someone about Mad Men, the first thing they'll comment on is the production value. They love the costumes, the sets, the idea that the story takes place in visually-distinctive eras that we currently have nostalgia for. And they're not wrong! The sets are well-done, the costumes are gorgeous, and it is interesting to observe the characters experience historical events in the past that we already know will happen. But let's be clear. None of this makes up for the show's negative qualities. It's cool to look at, but I'd rather flip through a book of old Sears catalogs than suffer through seven seasons of bad people doing bad things.
2. There are no redeemable characters. I cannot think of one main character on the show who doesn't take an action that is horribly irredeemable. Everyone does something awful. And here's the kicker: no one even feels guilty. Don sleeps with tens of women on the show and really only feels guilt when he's caught. Of course, that doesn't make him change his ways. He tells Stephanie, the niece of his first wife (a marriage of convenience), in the LAST EPISODE of the show that she shouldn't feel guilty for abandoning her child. I mean, if that's the last episode, he really hasn't grown an iota since the beginning of the series, has he? Joan sleeps with her ex-boyfriend while her husband is gone serving in the military and bears his child, never telling her husband the truth. (This isn't to excuse Joan's husband for his behaviors.) Betty sleeps with Don in the sixth season when she's happily married to Henry. Peggy sleeps with Pete, a married man, bears his child and gives it away, then sleeps with ANOTHER married man years later. I could go on and on about the different characters and the actions they take that they feel no guilt for, but that would take up too much space in this review - so I'll stop here. But the characters never grow, change, or repent for their actions.
3. Don Draper is an absolutely TERRIBLE person and the writers are obsessed with him. Don is suave, charming, debonair. And he is a horrible person. He acts terribly, betters himself briefly, and then becomes terrible again. The writers would have you believe that they know this, that they condemn him for it, but in truth - they adore him. The writers fetishize him. They give the audience flashbacks to explain Don's behavior, when, in fact, there is no justification for the way he treats the people around him. They give him moments of humanity to show that he's not a monster, but even the greatest monsters have some moments of sensitivity. Don is an entirely selfish character who doesn't grow or change and takes advantage of the women and people around him. And by season 7 that is a pretty exhausting main character to follow around.
4. Betty Draper is an unfair depiction of a woman in that era. Betty Draper has, in some ways, become the icon for the suffering 1960s housewife. I find this entirely unfair. First, she's married to Don, one of the worst characters on television. No woman, housewife or not, would be happy married to him. Second, I don't think that being a housewife made Betty "crazy" - I think Betty had issues all on her own. Look at her relationship with her children - look at her relationship with Glen. She's a mess. And let's be clear - until the very last episode, when everyone gets their happy ending, the writers generally show women as unhappy. They're at home raising children? Their husbands are cheating on them and they are unfulfilled. They're in the workplace? They can never get to where they want to go. I understand that they're trying to show that women of that era couldn't have it all. But Betty Draper's character is not a good example of a normal woman who is suffering because she's a housewife - she's an example of Dostoevsky-ian heroine with many emotional and mental struggles.
5. Peggy is basically irredeemable. Peggy gives away her child at the end of the first season. We see her at her mother's house with the child twice, I think, and both times she acts disgusted with him. We then don't learn what happens to this child until the fourth episode from the end of the series, in a passing conversation she has with Stan, the man she ends up with, where it becomes clear she gave him up to be raised by another family. And she doesn't express regret, or sadness, or any of those things. She expresses annoyance that men can leave their children with not so much as a thought, and women should have the same opportunity. Here's her response to Stan telling her he didn't have a great mother, and reflecting it back on herself: "Maybe she was very young! And followed her heart and got in trouble. And no one should have to make a mistake, just like a man does, and not be able to move on! She should be able to live the rest of her life, just like a man does." Yeah, that's the major lesson we as a society should learn. Not that men should take responsibility for their actions, but that women shouldn't have to take responsibility for theirs.
6. Sex never brings anyone happiness and is pursued for the worst reasons. Sex is an obsessive part of this show. Who will have sex with whom? Will everything fall apart? It's as much a part of Mad Men as the set-dressing is. But Mad Men is unique in one big way. There is no time where you're rooting for a couple that finally makes it official and consummates their relationship physically. You're not waiting for any two characters to get together, like Ross and Rachel, or Jim and Pam. People just kind of ... have sex. And they are never happy afterward. "I had sex with my secretary in a hotel room." "I slept with my daughter's school teacher." "I cheated on my husband in a bar bathroom." This might all be fine if, at some point, the show portrayed a counterpoint to this behavior - a more meaningful physical relationship that brought depth to a marriage, for example. But nope.
7. The ending wasn't satisfying because no one deserved a happy ending. I watched the entirety of Mad Men in about a month. I don't know about you, but when I've spent a lot of time with a show, getting to know the characters and the story, I usually find myself sad when it ends. I cannot stress enough - I did not feel sad AT ALL when I came to the end of Mad Men. This one fact blows my mind. I got to the last episode, wondering if I would miss watching Peggy, Roger, Betty and Don, and I did not. So why didn't the last episode make me cry? Why wasn't I moved by everyone's endings? Everyone ends up doing what they would have wanted - but no one deserved their happy ending. They lied, cheated, and stole and what do they get? Rewarded.
8. For a show that focuses on character development rather than plot, I didn't understand any of the characters' motivations. This was the biggest issue for me. The show is all about the characters. It's not plot-driven. The story surrounds the characters choices and decisions. So why didn't I understand anyone's motivations for anything? People act badly because they can, not because their characters actually would. And that is a real oversight in my eyes.
So, here's the big takeaway: No one learns. No one grows. No one changes into a better person. They act poorly and then continue to act poorly and then get a happy ending. One season of that? Okay. Seven seasons? Not so much. A progression is what makes a story interesting - and the progression can't simply be moving from era to era, costume to costume.
What do you think? What are your thoughts? Have you seen the show? Let me know in the comments below!
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Planning a wedding and a honeymoon at the same time can be overwhelming.
I planned both, and I know from experience! At the same time that you're on the top of the world, you're also looking at costs and prices that blow your mind and trying to make sure that everyone stays happy. And when it comes to planning the honeymoon, it's hard not to make it entirely secondary to the wedding day.
Now, when I was planning our honeymoon (in those rare moments of time I had between planning the wedding and finishing my Professional Studies Certificate), I had a lot of ideas for where we could go: Paris, Rome, Santorini, etc. And guess what? We didn't go to any of those places.
Because we didn't want to spend the first ten hours of our marriage and the bulk of our honeymoon budget on flights.
This is my number one piece of advice for couples planning their honeymoon. Save money on flights so that you can spend your money once you're there! We decided to go to Old Quebec, a historical area of Quebec City that is absolutely stunning. Both of our flights were under $200, and the trip was two, 1 1/2 hour flights, with a layover in between.
And once we were there, we had the BEST time. We didn't worry about spending money eating out for every meal, or buying each other gifts, or getting a couple's massage. We didn't have to spend two days recovering from jetlag. We didn't have to worry about the cost of our hotel. We had saved enough on flights that we could really enjoy ourselves once we were there.
So I figured I'd give you my top tips for planning your honeymoon. I also asked Jacob what his one tip would be, and I've included that below!
1. Save money on flights. Like I said above, don't spend your entire honeymoon budget on flights. Once you get there, you'll be stressed trying to save every dollar since you already spent all your money just getting to the dang place. Because here's the truth: this amazing place that you've spent so much money to visit won't be fun at all if you're constantly worried about your budget once you're there.
2. Don't fly somewhere you will have to take time to recover from jetlag. Now, some may disagree with me here, but if you're honeymooning right after your wedding, you probably don't want the first few days of blissful marriage to be filled with exhaustion-ridden bickering. It's just bound to happen - when you're tired, you're grumpy. And even if you're not bickering, you might just be too exhausted to fully enjoy each other's company as husband and wife. Instead, opt for somewhere in the a similar timezone so you can enjoy yourselves for the entirety of your honeymoon.
3. Book a few exciting things in advance. When we went to Old Quebec, I knew that I wanted to book two things in advance: a couple's massage and a dinner cruise. That gave us some sort of structure once we were there and also gave us something tangible to look forward to. I recommend doing the same for your honeymoon. It can be tricky to pull things together once you're already in a new place, especially if the language is different, so doing research beforehand is HUGELY helpful. I also find that not having any sort of a schedule can allow the day to get away from you, so having a few things planned can keep you on track for a really fun time.
4. Buy one thing that you'll wear and remember forever. I really enjoy jewelry - I usually tie up memories with my favorite pieces. If Jacob buys me something, every time I wear it I think of and am grateful for him. So I knew that I wanted to buy something when we were on our honeymoon so that every time I wore it, I would remember what a wonderful time we had. Jacob bought me a lovely set of pearls when we were on our honeymoon and I love wearing them because of the memories I have of him buying them for me. I think it's really nice to have something from your trip that will give you a little glow every time you wear it. And if you don't spend too much on flights, you can buy something really lovely that will last the entirety of your marriage!
5. Jacob's Tip: Only plan a couple of things a day (written by Jacob): "You are Newlyweds! You have no idea what that means. It is new, it is exciting. You will have moments where you stop in the middle of walking, stare at your spouse and think, 'We did it. It's done. We're married. Just like that.' You will feel awe, you will feel surprised, you will feel dumbstruck. It is unlike anything you have felt before, and now is the time to share your giddiness and wonder, and the well spring of joy that bubbles up that makes you want to throw your arms in the air and jump around with them.
"And you cannot do any of that or appreciate any of that like you should and like you deserve to if you are over-scheduled. Running around all day to check off a list of tourist attractions is not what you are on your honeymoon for. You go on vacation for that. This is your honeymoon. You get one, and its purpose is for you to bask in the warm, sunny glow of the amazing commitment you have made to one another. You will remember those moments and feelings more dearly than you will yet another appointment.
"Wherever you go, make the most of your unstructured time in a way that puts the focus on the two of you together. No distraction or obligations. When we were in Quebec City, we spent five days in the old city. Most of each day we walked the cobble stones, looking in shops, admiring the architecture and views, and enjoying goofy conversations or silliness. A tour here, a day trip there was fine. But center stage was the fun of us together with enough room to enjoy what that now meant to us on our terms.
"You just got married. Give yourselves the time to explore and enjoy what that means."
Jacob is totally right, of course, but can you tell which one of us likes to plan and schedule and which one of us likes to explore and adventure? It's a nice balance for us that we have each other to fill in the gaps.
Are you planning your honeymoon right now? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
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Do you have a wall in your house that you simply don't know what to do with?
I did! It was too big for just one picture, and I didn't want to go out and get a giant mirror to fill the space. But after living with a blank wall for about eight months, I finally got up the courage to create something that I never thought I could do without professional help: a gallery wall.
What's a gallery wall? The idea is that you take a bunch of different sized pictures, plaques, paintings, etc. and put them on your wall in an aesthetically pleasing way. That doesn't mean perfectly symmetrical, although if that's your thing, go for it! But it usually means a somewhat eclectic mix of picture frames, styles, and sizes.
It turns out that creating a gallery wall is actually much easier than you might think! It took me all of an afternoon to put it together, and I had a great time doing it.
What made me decide to invest the time and effort into creating a gallery wall was that we had finally received the prints from our wedding photographer (I know, it only took a year!). They came in a few different sizes, and I didn't want to have them sitting on tables all around the house. Instead, I decided to get creative.
I think one of the sad things about using our phones to take pictures is that we don't often take the time to print our pictures and really look at them. Choosing pictures to put up, though, is like putting a photo album on your wall where you can look at it whenever you want.
So, without further ado, here are my tips for making your very own gallery wall!
1. Choose pictures that fit into a theme. When you're choosing pictures for your gallery wall, I think it's nice to have a theme. For us, we themed our gallery wall around our wedding and a few photos we took together about six months into our marriage. You could choose pictures with friends, your family, or even pictures with your dog! But having a theme will tie the whole wall together.
2. Order your prints in a bunch of different sizes. Once you've chosen your favorites, head to Walgreens or CVS and order your pictures in a variety of different sizes. 4x6, 5x7,and 8x10 are all great sizes, and having different size prints will add variety and spice to the frames you can choose and will add dimension to your gallery wall.
3. Head to T.J. Maxx or Marshalls. Now that you've got your prints in hand, you get to choose the frames you want! I love T.J. Maxx and Marshalls because they have a lot of great, cheaper options that are really unique and have so much depth and dimension. I highly recommend checking them out.
4. Look for different styles of frames, as well as a few word-art pieces. When I went to look for frames, I knew that I wanted variety, but I wanted them to fit into a certain theme, too. I was looking for something rustic, with muslin bows, metal clips, and weathered paint. You can choose whatever theme you want, or you can just go with a whole variety of different frames: modern, old-fashioned, rustic, or fancy. It's really up to you. But choose a few different types! As well, I liked the idea of incorporating a few word-art pieces to hang among our pictures to add more flair to our wall - I chose a few that said things that we believe in. You can choose whatever fits your theme and the pictures you've chosen. Have fun with it!
5. Lay out all your pictures on the floor to see what you want it to look like. When you get back home, put all of the pictures in your frames and lay them out on the floor. See what looks good to your eye and make adjustments. There, you can see what looks good to you and change things easily. Take a picture once you've figured out what you like so that you can replicate it on your wall.
6. Hang it on the wall and enjoy! Now that you know what you want it to look like, take some measurements and start hanging everything up! You'll love what you put together and you'll get to enjoy your pictures so much more frequently than when they're simply stored in your phone's memory.
I included some options from T.J. Maxx to try for your gallery wall at home - I hope you find something you like.
If you try this, please send me pictures on Twitter and Instagram! I'd love to see what you come up with. And let me know down in the comments too!
*Disclosure: This contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something. Thank you so much for your support!
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There are some movie theaters that are truly awesome.
When I was living in Los Angeles, for example, there was the little theater right down the street that was easy and convenient to get to. And you know what? We never went there. The ArcLight was miles nicer, so we would drive the twenty minutes to get there, even though it was more expensive.
Well, ever since Jacob and I moved to Virginia, we've been loving one movie theater: the Alamo Drafthouse. The first time we visited, we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into. We knew that they served dinner and that the seats were more comfortable than your average movie theater, but the experience at the Alamo Drafthouse is so much more than that.
We've now been more than ten times, I would say, and each time we have had a great experience.
The first thing you'll notice when you enter is the decor. Alamo Drafthouse Charlottesville is decorated in a kitschy, themed way that feels like a throwback. The light fixture looks like a spaceship, and you've got neon lights pointing you in the direction of each theater. Off to the side is the restaurant affiliated with the theater.
After you buy your tickets, either at the desk or at a kiosk, you proceed down the hallway, where you'll see old movie posters in different languages - again getting you into that throwback frame of mind! And that's really the thing about Alamo - you can tell that they take pride in their theater as an establishment, not just as a place to watch movies.
Once you're in the movie theater itself, you'll find out how the Alamo really stands out.
1. The Ordering System. As soon as you walk into the theater, you'll see some incredibly comfortable leather seats connected to a little table. Once you sit down, you'll notice that each table has a little pocket underneath it with a light and a menu. This is so that you can look at your menu during the movie and order whatever your heart desires. And how do you order, you may ask? Well, each table is also equipped with two pens, a pad of order cards, and a little bar to stick your order card into to get a server's attention. You simply write down what you want and a server will collect your order and bring it straight to your table!
2. The No-Disturb Policy. This has been one of our favorite features at the Alamo. You aren't allowed to talk, text, or generally be a disturbance in the theater. You get one warning - the second time you're kicked out of the theater without a refund. If someone is bothering you, you simply take an order card and write down who is bothering you. Then a server will come take your card, go back behind the scenes so as not to make it obvious who reported whom, and will return to admonish the disturber. This might sound strict, but honestly, it is such a great system and if you've ever had a loud talker next to you in a movie, you'll appreciate it.
3. The Food and Drinks. The menu is great and has a lot of wonderful options for vegetarians as well as regular meat-eaters. One of my favorites is their Impossible Burger and fries, although last night we enjoyed their pizzas. As you might have figured out, I couldn't take pictures of our food since we ate our food during the movie! In addition, for some films the Alamo will actually create new themed menus of food and cocktails to match the theme of the movie. They also have great beers (hence the name, Drafthouse) and really cool milkshakes.
Besides showing new films, the Alamo Drafthouse also does something they call their "signature series." They show old movies, be they cult classics or just great films, and do themed viewings. After the previews, the manager of the theater will come out and give you some info about the movie you're about to watch. It's a cool feature and we really appreciate it.
All in all, we highly recommend Alamo Drafthouse and, give it - you guessed it! - five stars.
Have you been to the Alamo Drafthouse? What's your favorite theater? Let me know in the comments below.
*Disclosure: Alamo Drafthouse Charlottesville generously gave us two complimentary dinner tickets in order to make this review possible. Jacob and I have been to this theater and eaten dinner there many times, so this did not influence our opinion! :)
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Hey! I'm Abby, the creator of Classically Abby, a commentary, opera, beauty, and lifestyle brand dedicated to looking at the world from a classic perspective. I'm the first Conservative Influencer and I'm an opera singer with three degrees in performance!