Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cocoa Daisy Reveal | Hemingway Kit

This kit is so much fun.  Of course with a name like Hemingway, it had to celebrate one thing especially close to my heart: books!

I made a little unboxing video when I got my kit in the mail.  Here is the highlight reel, set to music.  It keeps posting upside down for some reason.  You can see the full video here.  

This is what I got this month:
July Planner kit and add-on

I made 3 layouts and one holiday book spread.  

I love using the planner pages on other stuff. Here I cut out a stack of macaroons from one of the pages and popped it up on a planner dashboard. 

Love all the pineapples this month. I fought the urge to hoard and piled up multiple pineapple designs on this page. The large pineapple is fussy cut from a DITL card. I used another card for my journaling.  I used some of the gold foil rub ons here as well.  It is always fun to fill up a block grid page with fun embellishments. 

This photo enlargement turned out so well I pretty much let it stand on its own. The large wood veneer was the perfect fit for it. 

This is the first layout I put together this month and I really love how it turned out. I sewed down strips of my favorite pattern paper to mimic book spines. Then I used up almost a whole pack of thickers spelling out some of the favorite books Lakshman likes. 

Head over to Cocoa Daisy to shop and see what everyone else created this month. It's a good one! 

Tomorrow is Today | Disney World 2015

Last time we went to Disney World, we managed to pull off the big surprise:

The surprise was so much fun for everyone.  We kind of kept letting it slip but they were too young to catch on to anything not stated outright.  

This time we let them know well in advance.  Somehow it did little to dampen their excitement on the day we left.  

We were counting the days for weeks beforehand.  It became a common topic of conversation at dinner time.  Many many extra bites were eaten by Nandini so she could grow enough to ride the big kid rides at the park.  She was dying to be able to ride the new Snow White ride.  

When we finally got within a few days, the numbers seemed to stretch out quite a bit.  By Nandini's count we had three days to go before our trip for almost a week.  Finally the day arrived and she declared, "Tomorrow is today! We are going to Disney Woooohld!"  

Oh to be four and have tomorrow, the day you have been waiting for and yearning for, finally arrive. 

At one point Avinash asked me why I love Disney World so much.  I almost didn't know what to say.  I was running on the Dwarf Mine Train ride with him and Nandini.  It was late at night and there were twinkling lights all around us.  I felt breathless from running and giddy with excitement to ride the roller coaster again.  I was thrilled that they said Nandini was tall enough to ride, just barely, but still able to ride.  I just told him that being there felt like heaven to me.  He said he felt magic was all around him.  

I will share more photos and projects soon.  I am slowly starting to scrap the pictures.  I did a few layouts but still might make a mini book as well. 

And, yes, we still try to make it to our favorite photo spots every time we visit.  Especially number one! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

5+ Reasons to Try Blue Apron | What to Make for Dinner

Blue Apron has a current promotion for two free meals with your first order.

I got really lucky with this one.  A friend of ours was going out of town and offered us her blue apron box for the week.  Luckily, we are both vegetarian so it was a good fit.  

I was so blown away by her generosity and even more pumped as I opened it up and found out what it was all about.  

Somehow I was expecting freeze dried trays of cafeteria food.  I was kind of excited about popping one into the microwave (???) for a quick lunch.  Ehhhhh.  Ok.  Weird much?

What I found instead was a huge box stuffed to the brim with fresh ingredients.  We got three meals with two servings each.  There was fresh produce, grains, oil, butter, vinegar, spices, garnishes.  Everything but the salt and pepper needed to make a meal.  (And very little of that is required along the way). 

I unloaded all of the fresh food into the fridge and left all the shelf stable ingredients together in the box.  

Dinner is usually a helter skelter affair around here.  I don't know why, but I seem to have run out of dinner ideas about four years ago and they show  no sign of returning.  Every once in a while I will see a Pioneer Woman blog post that looks interesting, but let's face it, it's mostly the desserts I want.  

I wouldn't even care about all this, except I can't get the first two meals we had out of my head.  They were so completely and utterly delicious.  I thought about the summer squash quesadillas all day.  They added some awesome spice mix to the box that made those normally completely unappealing looking knobby yellow squash, the kind you find cubed and forced into succotash as if it might make lima beans taste better, into something craveable.  I have a two ikea counter top shelves full of spices and I use them regularly but I'm still not sure how they made that spice blend taste so good.  

After the second dinner, rice with soy glazed eggplant and shisito peppers, I signed up for our own account.  I can not wait to get the next box.  It's kind of addicting scrolling through the cookbook online.  

I see a lot of benefits to the subscription, even if it is $60 a box normally. 

1. Less grocery shopping.  
Grocery shopping is all too often a trap.  I spend hours of time carting all the kids around the store.  They whine for cookies and I try to distract and mollify.  I pick up random ingredients with a vague idea of cooking something.  And yet, by the time I get home I have no energy left to think of a recipe to make, let alone cook.

2. Less Produce Wasted
By the time the end of the week rolls around we are lucky if we haven't thrown away at least half of the produce we never got around to using. It's so wasteful and makes me feel like I'm pouring money into the trash.  It gets harder the next time at the grocery store to steer clear of packaged foods I know won't spoil.  Bags of tortilla chips and oreo packages are not helping me lose the baby weight.  Which is more like toddler weight at this point. 

3. Make it stretch
Even though we spend almost twice that amount on groceries each week, and even more when you count eating out expenses, I still can't help but flinch a little at the cost.  This week we were able to use the two-person meals to feed our whole family.  For the quesadillas, I made extra plain cheese quesadillas for the kids.   We even made extra for their lunches the next day, which is a big help when camp starts at 8 AM.  And, don't even think about being late, because that means a nature hike for mama while trying to find his group. 
The next day I opened up a box of silken tofu and added it to the eggplant stir fry.  I baked a portion of the tofu to make it crispy and try to avoid the naysayers.  Turns out Avinash only wanted eggplant and Ryan ate the tofu.  Stranger things have happened.  The best part was I didn't have to think about how to prep and season the tofu because the soy glaze added more than enough flavor to the whole dish.

4. Make it your own
The dishes are really well seasoned on their own but there is still room to play around where you want.  I added curry leaves and a bit of coconut oil to the rice to add some flavor there.  Scrolling through the upcoming menus I think I will be opening a can of garbanzo beans or black beans to a lot of the recipes to add extra protein and help make extra servings as well.

5.  Steal from your own box
I love that each dish has fresh herbs going into it.  The herbs are in half bunches or quarter bunches, compared to a normal bunch from the grocery store.  This helps to keep things from going bad, but I found there was more than enough garlic chives for example to grab a few for my morning scrambled eggs without taking anything away from the dish.  The basil for the risotto was also very abundant and could have been used for other dishes (except I wasn't cooking many other main dishes aside from Blue Apron).

6. Get help cooking
The recipe instructions are so easy to follow that my husband could make all of the meals we tried by himself.  This is huge.  I love to cook for my family, but that doesn't mean I have the energy to do it every night.  Having an option other than greasy take out food is awesome.  Plus, I think my husband is learning more about cooking in general this way. Bonus!

This is not a sponsored post, just my honest take on Blue Apron.  I loved it so much, I had to share!  Hopefully they will start a referral program soon, lol.

I know there are a lot of other dinner delivery services out there now.  What is your favorite trick to help get dinner on the table?

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