Escape Monthly: California! October 2015 Review + FREE GREEK BOX & 20% off FOR LIFE Coupon!

"Inspired by a love of travel - and lack of vacation days - these boxes include everything you need for a luxurious staycation."

Escape Monthly is a destination-inspired monthly subscription service focusing on finding the finest products to help you relax, unwind, and escape from the stresses of work and life, every month!

Each Escape Monthly box includes local products from a new destination every month! You'll discover everything from the finest artisan-crafted spa and beauty items, to gourmet treats, local delicacies and one-of-a-kind treasures!

Time to escape to The Golden State!!!!!

Destination: California!

The October's Escape Monthly destination was "California" and I can't even begin to tell you just how AMAZING this box was!!!

Positively packed with incredible luxury products, delicious treats, AND a special surprise to help keep every would-be traveler well-organized while out on their adventures!

I REALLY wanted to do this outside because the weather was so pleasant ....

But then.....
the wind started to blow and... 

Packing. Popcorn....

Needless to say, I moved the unboxing indoors.
So! Let's open this baby up and see what's inside, shall we?!

Upon opening the box, you find a beautiful full-colour tri fold brochure lying right on top of the tissue.
The brochure was reminiscent of an actual travel brochure you would receive at a travel agency. It did a decent job highlighting the box's contents while also giving the subscriber a few interesting facts about some of the most breathtaking natural landmarks one can find while in California....


Some facts on a few of the natural landmarks unique to The Golden State...

(The back of the brochure also had some information about California....)

AND right in the middle we find..

Our itinerary!
The brochure didn't list the product retail values or where they came from (which I would have liked). 

This box presented fairly well. No real "WOW" factor, but still pleasant on the eyes. 
At first glance, it appears as though things are simply "tossed" in, but everything was safely nestled inside the box and nothing was damaged or broken. This layout, also made it so that I could easily view a few of the items right away..

So, of course, I went for the chocolate....

"Our legendary milk and dark chocolates start with a custom blend of ethically sourced and sustainably farmed cocoa beans. We then infuse them with unique natural flavors such as fine wine, rich coffee, aromatic teas, and tree ripened fruit. All of our chocolates are created by our skilled artisans and handled with great care to preserve their unique flavor and character." 

Torn Ranch Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar (2 oz.)This chocolate bar had an amazing flavour and was a positive delight to try! A truffle chocolate is typically conical in shape with a creamy ganache center, but this company seems to have taken this characteristic and created an entire bar of absolute bliss! Like a truffle completely enveloped in delicious milk chocolate! However, unlike a tiny truffle, I had 2 ounces to savour!!!!
YUMMMMMYY! (っ˘ڡ˘ς)

I must admit, I'm a bit sad I gobbled it up all in one sitting, but I DEFINITELY intend on ordering more of these and seeing what other handcrafted delights Torn Ranch has to offer!

Retail Value: (estimated) $3.00*
*I wasn't able to locate the price for an individual bar, but I did find where there were six chocolate bars in a gift set priced at $18.00 (Chocolate Lover Bar Gift Set). So, I estimated each individual bar at $3.00.

"A brilliant wit once said that, "to most Americans, even though they have never been there, San Francisco is their favorite town". The existence of that belief is the strongest proof of the glorious vacation experience that awaits the visitor to that "city by the Bay", that "Paris of the West", a "diverse, beautiful and cosmopolitan city" that excites millions of visitors each year."

Frommer's EasyGuide to San Francisco - This was the travel guide included in this month's Escape Monthly box and while I haven't read all of it, I read a good portion of it and I really like the choices the author, Erika Lenkert, complied for this guide. It has a great variety and can can be helpful whether you're traveling alone and seeking a night out on the town or, traveling with family and seeking more kid-friendly destinations. 

Retail Value: $12.95 $10.00 (Amazon)*
*While the back of the guide itself lists a retail price of $12.95, I did locate a copy sold on Amazon for $10.00.

"California Mango hand and body lotion products are made from some of the best essential oils and vitamins that will completely revitalize your skin."

California Mango Natural Cleansing Gel (9 oz.) - This cleansing gel has a concentrated pearl formula designed to cleanse skin of impurities and excess oil. A refreshing blend of extracts* hydrates skin with Vitamin E to form a light layer of protection. It's suitable for all skin types and can be used in the shower or bath.
*Extracts: Mango, Açaí, Goji and Pomegranate.
"Mango Gel is the without a doubt the finest formulation available for skin cleansing. This special blend of gentle soft cleansers cleanse the skin leaving a soft,supple feel. Today's professional salons and day spas utilize this product for its superior results. Super moisturizing qualities along with our trademark "mango" fragrance will leave skin with a never before felt softness." (Source:
*I found this a bit odd, as the product inside the box was 9 oz. and was not listed as an available size. However, it IS available for purchase at their online store.

Retail Value: $7.99

California Mango Natural Hand & Body Lotion (9 oz.) - This lotion revives rough, dry skin and has a lightweight, non-greasy formula. It's a unique blend of vitamins, humectants and highly refined oils that moisturize and shield with a delicate balance and aromatic serenity, renewing skin's natural radiance.
*Extracts: Mango Butter and Oils of Jojoba, Grape and Sunflower Seed.
"California Mango Lotion is one of the most popular lotions used today in the beauty skin care marketplace. An overall hand & body product designed to maintain & enhance the surface skin health. Mango Lotion has become the standard in the professional beauty industry, establishing a retail following that is enjoyed by many salons throughout the world." (Source:
*Again, the product inside the box was 9 oz. and was not listed as an available size on the chart but IS available for purchase at their online store.

Retail Value: $7.99

Another amazing find!!! I would never have found this company if it weren't for Escape Monthly and the products are incredible! They work fantastically, they smell great and are sold at a great value. 

You can find out more information about the California Mango product line and view other products they have to offer on their online catalog here (PDF) or, you can purchase their products here at their online store!

"Sisal is woven plant fibers and is one of the most sustainable commodities on the planet."
(Source: Escape Monthly Itinerary)

Sisal Soap Pouch (5.5" x 4.5") - I L-O-V-E sisal soap pouches and I am so glad that this was inside this box! However, having seen this item, I do wish that they would have chosen to put in a bar of soap rather than a cleansing gel. Then again, I really love the cleansing gel so I'm nonetheless pleased with the choice.

Reusable Soap Pouches are super convenient and an economic way to gently exfoliate your skin while allowing you to use up every last sliver of your favourite soap! All you have to do is insert a bar into the pouch, pull the drawstring and lather up! After washing, simply hang your soap inside the bag and all the excess water will drain. This allows the soap to dry between uses so it lasts longer and eliminates the need to place your soap on a draining soap dish. (Neat, right?)

Retail Value: (estimated) $5.00* 
*This item was hard to estimate. There were no tags anywhere to identify exactly where this pouch came from. After having searched the internet for similar products, I found this Sisal Soap Pouch and provided a link to the site. I choose this site in particular because of its location, the variety and uniqueness of the products offered, the skill of the artisan, the company background, and its humble beginnings...

Mountain Girl Soap is a soap studio found on a ranch in Northern California and nestled between the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada, and its artisan, Naomi, is an artisan soap maker keeping the artful tradition of cold-processed handmade soap alive.
"The name 'Mountain Girl' was inspired by real women. It embodies the spirit of women who are strong, Earth-wise, and who nurture the connective relationship between humans and the environment." (Source: Mountain Girl Soap) 
I took a peek at her online shop and then delved into her background (quite inspirational) before deciding that this was something I ABSOLUTELY HAD to share. I'm all about women going out and doing what they love most! So, while this may not have been where this particular bag came from, I'm certainly glad to have found this amazing soap studio!

You can visit her shop Mountain Girl Soap here.
(Oh, and did I mention...? Her products are Cruelty-Free and Vegan!!!)

Loofah Pad (2.25" in diameter , 1" thick ) - I thought this was far more appropriate to have in combination with the California Mango Cleansing Gel! This was about 1" thick and roughly 2.25" in diameter so, it was more like a loofah cut than a loofah pad. Still, it connected well with the other item in the box and I will definitely put it to use. Even if it is a tad on the small side...
"True Story: loofah is a member of the cucumber family." (Source: Escape Monthly Itinerary)
Retail Value: (estimated$0.49-$1.00* 
*Again, this was a no brand item and so I had to do a bit of searching. I put the following words into the Google search engine "loofah slices sold by the piece" and came up with a few websites that sold these loofah cuts individually (Natural Bath and Body Shop & Wholesale Supplies Plus) and a couple others that sold them in bulk supply (Wholesale Supplies Plus & Etsy). 

OH! And, you can find some interesting loofah facts and additional information on how to clean and care for your loofah here and here!

"By choosing Napa Organics you are doing more than bestowing benefits to your skin and overall health, you are contributing to the community of local farmers who supply our region with quality ingredients. The truth is, skincare should be simple. We call it Agribeauty®​ and it’s a return to natural skincare that results in skin that is smooth, glowing, hydrated and healthy."

Napa Organics California Plum Oil (1 oz.) This has a delicate sweet cherry-almond aroma and absorbs into the skin instantly. It's locally harvested from the seed of the California prune (or dried plum) fruit and is rich in vitamins A, E, and beta-carotene. Plum Oil helps to reduce fine lines, improve the look of scars, and helps to even out dry and combination skin. It can also be used as a makeup remover, an oil cleanser, and to deeply moisturize and renew skin. It doesn't clog pores and is beneficial to those with acne, sensitive, or mature skin. (INGREDIENTS: 100% California Plum Kernel Oil)

It also states that it is an edible oil with intense nutritive value, but I think I'll pass on that test.... 
Retail Value: $32.00

Okay, I am EXTREMELY PICKY about my skincare so I just HAD to research plum kernel oil before I tested it out and I was incredibly impressed by what I found. Not only is this oil extremely rare, produced only in Northern California and France, but it also has scientifically proven antioxidant properties. Here are a few journals evaluating the benefits of plum kernel oil, the findings of which, are quite remarkable: Journal of Saudi Chemical Society, 2009 & Romanian Biotechnological Letters, 2011 .

I thought this was an awesome inclusion in this box! I love learning about new skincare products and I'm excited to see what Napa Organics can do! This is absolutely going with me on my upcoming visit to Europe. I just HAVE to show off this newest beauty find...

(I mean, really, plum kernel oil....who knew?!)

Napa Organics lavender hydrosol organic + biodynamic (1 oz.) - (facial mist) A floral tonic which significantly increases skin hydration, restores pH balance, reduces facial redness and leaves skin soft and refreshed. You can use this as a toner after cleansing, or to refresh and hydrate during the day. (INGREDIENTS: lavender hydrosol*) (*certified organic & certified biodynamic)

I wasn't able to find this on their website which leads me to believe that they likely don't sell this product individually (only in the Agribeauty Gift Set - Retail Value: $60.00).

However, while tracking down the retail value, I did happen across where NAPA ORGANICS was a Martha Stewart American Made Awards Style nominee!
(This company keeps getting better and better!)

Retail Value: UNKNOWN (To Be Released: 2016!) $16.00
Agribeauty Gift Set (Retail Value: $60.00) contains Napa Organics California Plum Oil (1 oz.) (Individual Retail Value: $32.00), Napa Organics Olive & Plum Balm (2 oz) (Individual Retail Value: $22.00), and the previously mentioned Napa Organics lavender hydrosol organic + biodynamic (1 oz.) (Individual Retail Value: unknown). I used the values of the first two products and subtracted from the total Gift Set value to come up with an estimated retail cost of $6.00 for this product. However, $6.00 seemed WAY too low. Especially, when comparing that estimate with the prices of their other products and reflecting on the quality of the product itself. It just didn't make sense. At $6.00, it would be an absolute steal! Not to mention, I would totally exhaust their supply if it proved true.... 

I DID find a similar product sold on their online store, Napa Organics Rose Geranium & Lavender Face Mist (6 oz.) priced at $28.00. When using this value and estimating price per ounce, I came up with an ever cheaper value for the Napa Organics lavender hydrosol organic + biodynamic (1 oz.) - approximately $4.67. Again, this was just too ridiculously low to be believable and I couldn't fathom it would be priced at anything less than $20.00. And even at $20.00, it would be well worth the cash.

In the end, I decided to email the company and make inquires about this last product. 
So, I will update as soon as I hear back from them!

Overall, this brand is absolutely out-of-this-world! I simply couldn't stop researching all the different skincare items they had available on their website! I'm totally blown away! I mean, talk about ultimate beauty find! However, it wasn't just the products they sold that reeled me in...their company background, ethics, and dedication to quality made them all the more appealing. I highly recommend checking this company out! 


Hilary Glass, Founder of Napa Organics Inc., got back in touch with me (talk about AMAZING customer service!) and relayed some fabulous news! Napa Organics WILL be introducing the lavender hydrosol organic + biodynamic one ounce bottle in 2016 and the retail price will be $16.00!!!!

"Why the wait?"
"We obtain our ingredients from growers in Northern California so our quantities are limited and many times we have to wait for the next harvest to purchase and bottle more products. This has happened with our locally grown organic Lavender Hydrosol this year. We completely bought out our grower's supply for the Escape Monthly box!" ~ Hilary Glass, Founder of Napa Organics Inc.

Ah, the perks of being an Escape Monthly subscriber! 
HOWEVER, we STILL have to wait until next year for more of this amazing facial mist so, if you have it, USE SPARINGLY!! 
Option #2: They do have the Napa Organics Rose Germanium & Lavender Face Mist (6 oz.) priced at $28.00 AND they'll be offering FREE SHIPPING for orders over $50.00 beginning November 15th with the code "50free"!!!

Also! If you subscribe to their online newsletter, you will receive a code for 15% off!!!

(Ummmm, did somebody say "Awesome Holiday Gift Idea" ?!? Because you're totally on the money!)

"Northern California gold miners of the 1800s were very fond of sourdough bread because it was low maintenance. Fast forward to the 1980s and artisan bakers in San Francisco shifted sourdough into mass popularity mode. Now you can create your own home-baked sourdough bread!" 
(Source: Escape Monthly Itinerary)

Gold Rush Old Fashioned San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread Starter (1/2 oz.) This was a surprise to find. I've never attempted to make bread before and I was delighted to have the opportunity to try! Sourdough is a favourite of mine and I'm hoping I'm as good at baking it as I am at eating it! Unfortunately, not being much of a baker, I really had no idea how to use this and I wish they had included some instructions in the box. On the back of the packet was some interesting information on the "Goldrush of 49" and how sourdough was as much a part of it as gold itself...
"Traveling throughout the West in the packs of miners and settlers, it eventually found its home in San Francisco. The air in the Golden Gate region enhanced the bread made there with a wonderfully distinct taste. San Francisco has become world renowned for sourdough bread. In the United States, and even in areas around the world, San Francisco sourdough is regarded as the benchmark by which all other sourdough breads are judged." (Source: Gold Rush Old Fashioned San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread Starter Packet)
Retail Value: (estimated$1.99 - $5.97*
*Bob's Red Mill had the retail price for the Gold Rush Old Fashioned San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread Starter at $1.99 and the back of the packet looked similar to the one which was included in the box. However, Made In California listed the retail price of the Gold Rush Old Fashioned San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread Starter at $5.97. I'm not sure why the price discrepancy (?), but if I find out, I will update here.

The minute I saw this, I KNEW I was going to need some recipes and I thought a few others might be in need of some as well. While on the hunt, I ended up finding the instructions, as well as, some techniques for making sourdough bread AND a video! (Hooray!)

So, I thought I'd post them here. In case anyone else is feeling as lost as I am...


I also came across a few other recipes while on the Bob's Red Mill Website:

A wonderfully large loaf filled with fragrant cheeses! 
(This recipe was provided by K.T. Webb of Adrian, Oregon - Contest Winner, Malhuer County Fair)

(This recipe was provided by Donna Rathmell German & Ed Wood)

This will be my first time baking bread (of any kind) and I'm pretty excited about the chance to make my very own sourdough bread! I'm glad they chose to include an item like this inside the box since, it's not just another product, it's also an experience and one I probably NEVER would have dreamed of trying on my own. An interesting choice with a lot of historical ties to California that I never knew. This will be a fun project and, hopefully, a delicious one!

"Not only does California border another country (Mexico), it's also the gateway to other global travel. Even if California isn't your launch pad for further travel, you can keep your passport, credit cards and other important documents organized and handy in this stylist leather travel wallet."
Escape Monthly Itinerary)

Leather Travel Wallet - Okay, Okay... So, the tag DOES read "Made in China". Still, this is always a travel MUST and I was satisfied with its appearance in this box. You could tie it in with the "California Theme" if you read the included travel guide (pages: 114, 162) or, if you already had previously knowledge of San Francisco's Chinatown, so I felt it was a grudgingly "acceptable" addition. (But, that IS stretching it more than a little...)

California theme aside, with Escape Monthly being a "Destination-Inspired Subscription" this was a well thought out inclusion and the wallet's slim design makes it easy to slip into a purse, jacket or carry-on bag. This will definitely come in handy anywhere you decide to travel.

Retail Value: (Price Tag$19.95*
*This value was super easy to find since the price tag was inside the wallet!

Escape Monthly had sent out an email on October 2nd hinting that this month's box would include a "special surprise that will help you to organize some travel items" so this was the reveal for that hint! I was pretty happy with it. I travel quite frequently and an extra travel wallet is a definite bonus to me!

Final Evaluation:

Box Contents:

Total Value (NOT Including Bonus Items): $81.46 - $88.90

Total Value (Including Bonus Items): $104.41 - $111.85

Subscription Price: $49.95/Month
Value (NOT Including Bonus Items): $31.51 - $38.95
Value (Including Bonus Items): $54.46 - $61.90

Final Verdict:

I truly enjoyed this box. Despite having lived there in my youth and frequently visiting friends and family, I learned quite a bit about California that I never knew simply by exploring the different items within this box..

I must admit, I was a tad annoyed when I first discovered there were no retail prices next to the items listed in the brochure or, in some cases, names as to who made certain products or even where they came from. After awhile, however, I found I was delighted to research into each of the box's contents! By doing so, I discovered many hidden gems all around California - small, local businesses I likely wouldn't have known existed if it weren't for having been introduced to them through this subscription service. Researching each item inside gave me the opportunity to learn quite a bit about the companies, local brands and artisans who made the products I was using - how they started, how they make their products and what makes them uniquely Californian. I even stumbled across a few other local brands which likely weren't the contributors to the items within this box, but nevertheless, were an absolute joy to have found!

For $49.95, this was quite a deal. I can't say the same for each and every box that Escape Monthly provides, but this box in particular delivered EXACTLY as promised ...
"Inside, we pack local and destination-inspired foods, relaxation and beauty essentials, and the highest quality products that bring the life of the destination right to you..." (Source: Escape Monthly)

Don't you just HATE when you miss out on something awesome....?

Okay, so here's a little something I missed! *Grrrrrrr*
On the lid of the box you will see instructions on how you can enter the 
All you have to do is unfold the box and "PIN" the map - indicating where you dream of traveling to next, "SNAP" a photo of the "PIN" (the goal is to generate as many "likes" as possible), "POST" it on the Escape Monthly Facebook Page, and you could "WIN" full or partial credit up to $1,000 (USD) towards airfare and accommodations to the destination of your choice!!!
Your winning photograph will be published on Escape Monthly’s Website and social media pages!

But, I was too late to enter....
Ah, well, there's always next time!

OR, you can find out more about the Escape Monthly Subscription Service on my previous blog post HERE!

Subscription: Escape Monthly
Box Description: "Curated for travelers with a taste for adventure and pure luxury, each box features high-value exclusive products exclusively sourced for our members. You’ll receive small-batch delicacies, artisan-crafted bath & body products, and unique local treasures from around the world."
rice: (Varies Based on SubscriptionEscape Mini: $24.95/Month ; Escape Regular: $49.95/Month ; Escape Luxe: $69.95/Month

Current Deals & Promotions:
This is your opportunity to DOUBLE your ESCAPES at a great price!


Greece is FREE when you get Arizona!!

Maybe you don't think of Greece when someone says "Arizona", but you will now!! For a limited time, get their 5 star GREEK BOX FREE when you sign up for Escape Monthly and get November's Escape Box - ARIZONA! But that's not all - You'll also receive 20% off ...FOR LIFE!!!! 
That takes this subscription down to $39.95/Month 
you receive the GREEK BOX FREE!!! 

So, be sure to snag this amazing deal before it disappears!!!

*Disclosure: I received this AMAZING Subscription Box, for FREE from Escape Monthly, for review purposes. I was not paid or reimbursed in any way for this review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are strictly my own. I have suggested this subscription based solely on the quality of the products offered and the services which this company provides its subscribers. 

*This post contains affiliate links.