Monday, November 23, 2015

It's a Harry Potter Birthday Party!

I've always wanted to throw a Harry Potter Birthday party!  Dexter turning 1 gave me perfect excuse.  For the past 8 months I have been collecting items from various stores and online that would help me turn our house into Hogwarts.  I'm pretty sure Preston grew suspicious of my actions when I started hoarding empty toilet paper rolls.  This past Saturday my visions became reality as we celebrated with friends and family. 

Welcome to Hogwarts in Texas!

It was super windy outside so our vinyl brick wall was very very hard to hang up and secure.  We had the music on repeat outside.  I'm sure my neighbors loved it. Below are the rest of the photos, it's hard to capture some of the decorations on camera.  Especially the floating candles.

This cake was AMAZING! I got it at RedHead Cakes.



I didn't get any pictures of the Dragon Wings (chicken wings) or Troll Eyes (meatballs) and I also didn't get any pictures of all the people.  It was hard to remember to capture everything!  Regardless, it was the best birthday party and I had so much fun putting it all together. Here are some fun photos of the us getting the house ready the weekend before. I had originally wanted to do some "how to" photos of the crafty items, but again...just ran out of time.  Never took the photos.  But if you see something you like, let me know and I can send you the details of how I did them. A lot of them I found on good old Pinterest!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Plated - My Review

The meal delivery service is sweeping the internet.  Ok, so I'm being a little dramatic, but there are multiple companies out there that provide fresh groceries along with meal cards to your home/work.  It takes the meal planning, grocery shopping, and "what do you want for dinner?" off the table.  Which is funny since they are putting food ON the table. Hehehe.  Anyway, as some of you may know, we have been subscribing to the company Blue Apron for several months now.  We started in August and are still going strong.  Loooove it.  However....I have been gifted a week of Plated by a fellow new mom and friend.  She tried Blue Apron, but likes Plated.  So it's only fair that I try Plated, right??  So I did.  Here is my review:

There are several delivery options for Plated which I thought was nice.  We picked a Saturday delivery as to not run into our Blue Apron delivery on Tuesday.  Can you imagine?  Both boxes sitting on the porch together, "oh hey there, you sure you are at the correct house?"  "ummm, yes. I've been coming here for months.  Why are you here?"  "::chuckles:: Wouldn't you like to know."  I don't have time for box drama.  So, Plated arrived yesterday.  I had almost forgotten about it to be honest!  We had been out running around since 8am so when the doorbell rang a little after 11am, it woke me up from my nap.  I opened there door and there she was. 

I want to start off by saying that I'm going to try not to compare EVERYTHING to Blue Apron (BA), but I am going to a little.  With that being said.....the plated box was a lot larger than I was expecting.  BA's isn't that much smaller, but smaller.  Oh' I almost forgot!  You can check out my BA review by clicking here.  Back to the Plated box.  Very excited to open it up.  I was immediately surprised at the packaging.  It was like a big burlap sack! Very eco-friendly.  Nicely on top were the recipe cards.  After open it up, I could see the wonderful little packages of food all nestled in together.  It was a snuggle fest for the veggies!

The packaging is complete different than BA.  BA has the vegetables just freely roaming around the box.  Plated has everything grouped together and labeled.  It is nice as there have been times that I'm holding an apple and asking myself, "why do I have an apple?" Then searching each recipe card to find out who it belongs to.  I laid everything out.  With the grouped bagging, it created less items in a way.  Less space in my fridge for sure.  Again, you can look at my BA review blog to see visual pictures of the difference.

We had dinner plans on Saturday, so tonight (Sunday) was our first night to make our Plated meal.  The chosen meal was Caramelized Cauliflower Tagliatelle with Hazelnut Pesto.  Here is the recipe card. Same general concept as BA.  A small thing that I didn't realize I liked about BA's cards is they show you your ingredients needed with a picture.  Not a deal breaker, but I noticed it when it was gone.

The Plated card has a nice feature where it tells you what you will need.  12" large pot, baking sheet, blender (optional), etc.  I started by reading the whole card first, which it also recommended.  We do this with BA too as it helps you with your overall timing.  This reciepe was fairly easy.  I only needed to chop up 2 items!  And really only 1 when I think about it.  I chopped the parsley, but that was it.   I tore the cauliflower up with my hands. I soon had everything ready to go.

I roasted the cauliflower in the oven, which I failed to get a picture of.  While that was roasting, I made the pesto.  This was easy since I had a small hand held blender.  If you didn't, I can see how this would be a little more elbow work.  Got the pasta boiling and then I had to wait for about 5 mins.

I mixed everything together and topped it off with pecorino cheese and we had a meal!  Tada!! It was really tasty and we gobbled it right up.

Sarah's Review: I'm really happy we tried Plated and looking forward to making our other 2 meals this week.  I'm not sure if we will completely switch to Plated, but I'm not canceling it right away.  I want to end on a positive note, so I'll do my dislikes first.  I don't feel like I learned any new cooking skill with my meal tonight.  I already knew how to do all of the items.  But I could have just picked a non-complicated recipe on accident.  I didn't fully examine my options, just went with what sounded yummy.  I don't like the portion size.  Waaaaay to much food for 2 people in my opinion.  This dish could have easily feed 4 people.  We double checked the card to make sure the serving size was for 2 and not 4.  I mention this because we still ate it all.  With BA, it's better portion control for us and we both have been able to tell a difference in our waist size since subscribing to BA.  Now for what I liked!  It tasted fantastic and was super quick to make.  Sometimes with BA it takes me up to an hour and I curse the chopping and chopping and chopping.  It called for a whole lemon, but I could only see it using half a lemon.  After reading the card again I noticed the other half is to be used for your glass of water.  Or as they say, "Use remaining lemon to brighten a glass of water."  I thought that was a nice touch.

If you have any doubts about doing a food service, may it be Plated, Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, or whatever else is out there! I vote yes.  Go ahead and sign up for a week.  I would also like to take this time to thank Sara for this Plated opportunity!  It's so much fun and we will keep it around.  It will be nice to mix it up a bit.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Blue Apron Wine?!?

That's right, Blue Apron now delivers wine! It's paired with their meals.  So a genius idea! For just $70 a month you can get 6 bottles of wine.  3 Red and 3 White.  Delivered right to your door or in my case to work.  We won't have the delivery every month.  Probably once every 2-3 months.  But as soon as I found out about the option, we had to try it out. order came!  Here is my review so far.  I say "so far" because we haven't opened and tasted any of the wine.  Just unpacked it and put it away in its cozy home.

Let's start with the packaging. It comes in the signature Blue Apron box.  Only this one has wine glasses and bottle openers on the outside instead of food.  It also has very Special Delivery Instructions.  It requires an adult signature and is very specific on the Do not deliver to an intoxicated person. This made me do a burst of laughter as it reminded me of when we got married.  The sign on the wall in the court house for our marriage license said the same thing.  

Once you open the box, you can make it into a handle.  This feature is very helpful for carrying it to and from your car.  Kind of wish the food box came that way, but it would be waaaay to heavy.  Now for the opening of the box!  I was so excited.  Oooooooo, look at that.
When you first open the box, there is a envelope filled with 6 cards.  Each card has a full description of each bottle.  It tells you about the region for each wine and lots of other facts.  All the bottles for Blue Apron are from California. 
You turn the card over and it has even MORE information.  Including different types of food that would go well with the bottle.  My favorite part is it list 6 meals that are up and coming with Blue Apron that will pair well.  They aren't the next meals in a row, they are scattered over the next 4-5 weeks.  Next week we are making Pork Schnitzel and I already have my bottle picked out.

After I got over the joy of the cards, you remove a layer of cardboard and TaDa! 3 pretty whites are snuggled in their pods.  All safe and unbroken. 
I removed the bottles, another layer of cardboard and you have your reds!
You probably noticed I've been saying the word cardboard a lot.  That's because there is a lot of it.  Blue Apron has a recycling program with their boxes!  You print off the label and you can mail all of your months worth of cardboard and food packaging back to them.  I'm telling you, if I could work for this company, I'm starting to think I would.  The concept is just amazing. As a closing, here is a full picture of my order.  The bottles are 500ml.