Blue Apron: Week 1 Review

Back in December, we received a coupon in the mail, which in and of itself is nothing out of the ordinary. However, for once it was a coupon I actually wanted to use — “$30 off your first order.” For months, I had been considering one of these home-delivery food services but had yet to commit.

The service at the top of my list? Blue Apron. Why? Well, it was the first one I had come across back when these things were a bit more of a novelty and it had been promoted on a couple podcasts I listen to, regularly. Now that I had a coupon, that offered 1/2 off, I had no more excuses. It expired on December 31st, and I put off ordering to the very last minute, but finally set up my account.scheduled our first delivery for January 6th.

Account set up was easy, and I love that you can choose the types of ingredients you receive: Selections include fish, poultry, shellfish, pork, beef and lamb, as well as “I’m a vegetarian.” I checked that vegetarian box and scheduled our first delivery for January 6th.

Week 1 Meals

  • Roasted Cauliflower Pitas with Feta Cheese & Yogurt Sauce
  • Artichoke & Potato Quiches with Romaine & Orange Salad
  • Spaghetti Squash Marinara with Mushrooms & Garlic Knots

Cost for Week #1: $29.94

Our box arrived right on time! I unpacked the box and loaded the fridge with perfectly-portioned-for-two-people ingredients for the three meals. This was even more exciting because it meant I didn’t need to go grocery shopping for the week! This whole Blue Apron deal was looking even more appealing.

We started the week off with the pitas. They were super-simple to make! Prep time, with the help my sous chef (the boyfriend) was pretty close to the 15 minutes the recipe card indicated, and our meal with ready to eat in less than an hour. The yogurt/feta sauce was delicious and just spicy enough! My only complaint was that the pitas stayed pretty unpliable, which made filling them difficult.

Next up, we made the quiches. Now, I’m not a fan of quiche, period, but figured I’d give it a try because I do love artichokes and potatoes. Again, prep time was simple and probably took less than Blue Apron’s estimated 15 minutes. The salad seemed pretty plain, but once the vinegar and oil dressing was added it was good, but still very simple. The quiches were easy to make but so bland. They reminded me of every vegetarian meal I attempted to cook at home, circa 2009 — flavorless, unappealing, and unsatisfying. Definitely not something we’d ever make again.

Spaghetti squash was last on our list because I, rightfully, assumed it would be the most difficult and time-intensive to make. Granted, I wasn’t there to help and my man did it all himself and informed me, “This recipe is a bitch!” But his garlic knots were beautiful, although not very garlicky at all because the garlic paste wouldn’t paste, and he thought the dish was a bit on the bland side. I, however, had it for lunch the following day and thought it was pretty tasty! Maybe it just needed that time to marinate in the sauce and really absorb the flavors. I’d keep it in the recipe box if he had enjoyed it, but since he didn’t it won’t be gracing our table again, either.

Pros & Cons

  • I love that it eliminated the bulk of meal planning and grocery shopping.
  • All three recipes were fairly quick and simple to make, which is a must in our kitchen.
  • Delivery was on time and ingredients were fresh.
  • It doesn’t fully eliminate grocery shopping. You still need basics like milk, eggs and bread, along with anything for lunches or snacks throughout the week.
  • Recipes are single servings, for two, so there are no leftovers. This meant we still had to plan for lunches and a couple other dinners, which we would usually rely on leftovers for.
  • 2 out of 3 meals weren’t that great, in our opinions.

Overall, the concept is great, but I’m not sure this is the service for us. We’ll see what we get in Week 2 to determine the true value for our lifestyle. Stay tuned!

Featured image by Unsplash/Pexels.

Minimizing: Photo Scanning

While watching “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things,” I began to consider what, if anything, we could live without. To be honest, I initially felt like we were in a decent place. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there were items that were taking up space, somewhat unnecessarily. One major item in question: photo albums.

Sure, photo albums keep your memories neatly organized and tucked away, but you still have to store the albums themselves, which take up space you could use in a better way. Initially, I did a bit of research on places that scan and archive your photos, and other documents, for you. Although its certainly an option, it didn’t seem worth the expense to me when we have a perfectly good scanner at home.

At first the task seemed pretty daunting. Then, I remembered that I had gone through them all before we moved, so there were at least fewer than there had been just a few months ago. When I finally took stock of what lay ahead, I found we only had 5 photo albums — two of which were pretty small. I decided to start small.

It only took about an hour to scan all the photos in both the small ones, leaving me feeling accomplished, and like this might not take so much time after all. A couple days later, I moved on to one of the larger, but still on the smaller side, albums. It took about 2-3 hours to scan and sort through which ones I wanted to keep, and which I was willing to part with. I left the two big kahuna’s for another day.

When I returned to scanning a few days later, I started with the largest and fullest album. It was loaded with old family photos from when my dad was a kid; my parents’ wedding and a couple vacations they took before I came along; plenty of pictures from his various hunting trips; and other photos my dad had taken. There were plenty I knew I wanted to keep, so when I started scanning, I just scanned. I’d worry about sorting later!

About halfway through (when I got to the hunting trip section), I started sorting. Landscapes are beautiful, but I didn’t need them all so most of them went into the “see if someone else wants these” pile. When I got to my parents’ old photos, I pulled out duplicates and any I didn’t care to have physical copies of to take home to my mom. I don’t know that she’ll want them, but that’s for her to decide, not me. And finally, I was on the last album! Most of these were my photos from high school and a bit of college, and it got pared down the most. Scanning both of the larger albums at the end took about 4-5 hours, but the task is pretty easy. Plus, you can work on other tasks while scanning to make the time go faster, if you want.

Although I ditched a lot of photos throughout the process, every single one was scanned and archived on an external hard drive. Now, all of our remaining photos live in one, singular, photo album! In all honesty, 99% of the pictures I kept aren’t even mine; they’re old Polaroids or black and white photos of someone else’s life. But they bring me joy, so they get to stick around.

Feature image via Pixabay/toomanyloginnames.

Am I a Minimalist?

minimalist living space

I wouldn’t say so, and neither would the amount of stuff in my home. Although some of my friends may disagree given my tendency to purge possessions quite regularly. How regularly? At least once or twice a year—sometimes more—and I get rid of plenty of things we no longer need, find useful, or simply don’t want.

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Early last year, I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and proceeded to recommend it to anyone who would listen, especially if I knew they enjoyed organization as much as I do. Since I am fairly organized, I wasn’t sure how much I’d get from the book, but after giving her decluttering method a shot, I was shocked. Our home was tidier and my underwear drawer had never been so organized! One particular spot of suddenly free vertical space (bye-bye bookshelf!) made me so happy. I craved more of that light, free feeling.

In July, we moved approximately 10 hours away from that original, clutter-free home. Once again, pre-move, we purged what we could to lighten our load—literally and figuratively.

Downsizing from a 750-square-foot, two bedroom apartment to a 500-square-foot, one bedroom seemed like a reasonably huge feat, but we did it. Now that all of our remaining belongings are in our new, smaller space, it often feels…cramped. At least to me. Mind you, we have plenty of room for everything and to maneuver, but one pair of shoes left in the floor now equals clutter and drives me crazy much faster than ever before.

The transition of moving also came with new jobs and, thus, new schedules. We seem busier than before, but that could be due to our slightly opposing shifts at work. Since we’re either busier, home less or, perhaps, lazier, the smaller space feels cluttered much more frequently.

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A few weekends ago, we watched “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” on Netflix. On our 40+ inch, flat-screen TV. Naturally, the movie spurred my innate desire to “let go” of things into high gear, once again.

So, am I a minimalist? Maybe. One in progress.

Feature image by hervé castaing/Flickr.

To Resolve, or Not to Resolve? That Is The Question

New year, new you. That’s generally the idea, but it seems false and I kind of like the old me, so why become “new?” Instead, I’ll strive for a better version of the old me.

Historically speaking, I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions because they never last. And when I have made them, they tend to be a vague, more philosophical, if you will, resolution than anything concrete. As with most resolutions, I typically don’t meet said resolution head on at any time throughout the year.

This year, I’ve resolved to set myself some goals (not resolutions) for the coming months.

  1. Collect 25-60 pages of poems. Then consider self-publishing a book of collected poems, which is a little scary.
  2. Re-naturalize our home and routines. Basically, get back to eating better, treating my body better, and focus on getting my personal care and household products all on the non-toxic, eco-friendly track.
  3. Minimize, minimize, minimize. Let go of more belongings and get down to the “bare necessities” (which will include Netflix and internet access). Also, work on saving money and reducing the need for money.
  4. Experience more. My man is quite the adventurer, and I am quite the lover of, at least, the idea of adventure. This year, I’d like to try more adventuring experiences…with fewer complaints and less hemming and hawing than in the past.
  5. Write more. See below.

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Old me has always been drawn to blogging, from the times of Xanga until now. But, every time I’ve started a blog…I’ve “failed.” Content would be consistent for awhile, then it would drop off. I’d get too busy or feel too uninspired. Sometimes, I just felt like I had nothing new or useful to say. One missed post would turn into two, then five, then it’d be months before I logged back in. It happened on WordPress (more than once) and Tumblr, so it wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy a given platform.

This blog originally started after blogging on Tumblr. I had decided that I had found “my” niche, and to separate my book review content from other miscellany would only benefit me and my blogging efforts. (Newsflash: It didn’t, but you can still find all my bookish content here.)

So, I tried co-blogging for awhile. And, for a few months, it seemed to work much better. I wasn’t solely responsible for creating content, so on week’s that felt too busy to write, I could check-in with my blogging buddy (and irl BFF) to see if she could post something that week, and vice versa. But then we both got busy and things, once again, fell short. Our poor little blog was rarely updated and kind of forgotten.

Once again, I feel drawn to blogging. So, in an attempt to set myself up for success — no niche subject matter restraints. If something compels me to write, then write about it I will. In my mind’s eye, there will still be book- or writing-related content, along with anything else in life that strikes my fancy.

Feature image via Pixabay/Pexels.