Monday, June 29, 2015

The Great Meal Delivery Experiment

Howdy Ya'll!  I know a few of you have been anxiously awaiting the results of my 3 weeks of experimentation with 3 different meal delivery services.  So here is my take on all three companies (btw I was not compensated for any of my reviews but some of the companies offer discounts off your first week and some offer discounts for referrals, check each website for details.)

Blue Apron--(cost $59.94 for 3 meals for 2 people)

Shipping and Packing-The smallest box and probably the most carefully shipped.  But I had two ingredients missing (some capers and some white wine) and one pack of cilantro that was way past its prime.  Would have been a frustrating trip to the store at the last minute if I hadn't checked for all items right away.

Customer Service-They credited me $12 towards a future order when I emailed about the missing ingredients.  (Which was fine with me since I had wine and cilantro and only had to buy the capers.)  Very quick response.

Meals-Salmon Burgers with Potato Salad, Arepas de Carne Molida and Chicken Piccata.  (photos of the Arepas and Chicken Piccata)  Both the Arepas and the Salmon Burgers were something totally new to us and though skeptical both were great!  The food overall was tasty but the portions were the smallest of all three companies.  I added some black beans on the side of the Arepas and a salad to the Chicken to round it out. 
Other Info-The recipe cards included were bright, easy to follow and they had the best Facebook support page as far as tips from other buyers who had made the same recipes.  I enjoyed looking over each one before I made it for extra tips and tricks.  Blue Apron only offers 3 ea. meals with meat or 3  vegetarian meals each week.  You can sub a veg meal for one of the meat meals if something doesn't strike your fancy but I thought it was the most limited of all of the companies as far as choice each week.  It is easy to try for a week and then suspend delivery though so if a week didn't look great to you you could just skip it.

Plated--(cost $72 a week for 3 meals for 2 people-but this was the only plan where you could order less or more meals based on choices for the week-the cost would go up or down accordingly.)

Shipping and Packing-By far the worst packing of the bunch and it showed (see photo of box on my porch.)  Box was way too big and the food got crushed in process by the ice packs inside.   I had a head of lettuce that was half brown and a broken small plastic bottle of wine that had spilled in the box.  I did go online and found that many people had the same problem that week and most said this was not-usual for the company.
Customer Service-After an email about the box and few damaged items they also credited my account with the cost of one meal.  Quick response.

Meals-Chicken Under a Brick with Roasted Veggies, Sambal and Miso Roasted Fish with Coconut Noodle Salad, and Caesar Steak Lettuce Cups with Lemon Potatoes (photos of all three.)  Portion size was good.  I didn't need to add anything and we were full (mostly-see next statements.)  The Chicken cooking technique was a first for me and it was fantastic and I'd try it again for sure.  The Fish with the cold noodle salad was just...odd.  The fish had good flavor but just didn't seem to go with the cold noodles to us.  We ate it but I wouldn't fix it again (cold noodles and fish???.)  The Caesar steak cups were inherently flawed.  The concept was good but the little tub of anchovy paste for the dressing (which I poured all over the cups) was WAY too strong.  I love Caesar salad and I even like anchovies fine but this overpowered the dish.  I ate most of mine but DBF gave up after one lettuce cup and said it tasted like rotten fish (it really did.)  A shame really.


Other Info-Again the recipe cards were pretty and helpful.  I didn't find as much online support as far as other users go but plenty of company/website support.  Most flexible as far as number of meals ordered per week and number of choices of meals but they charge shipping if you buy less than $50 worth in one week.  Again easy to stop and start when you would like.  They also offer dessert for $4 per portion and they also offer fancier dishes each week (like filet mignon for an upcharge.)


Hello Fresh--(cost $64.50 for 3 meals for 2 people)

Shipping and Packing-The best of the bunch.  Perfectly sized, well packaged box.  Nothing was damaged.  Food lasted well for the 4-5 days until I fixed all meals.

Customer Service-Ironically for the box that had the best packing of the food I was sent the recipe cards for the vegetarian meals instead of the carnivore meals.  A quick email and literally in less than 5 mins I had downloadable links for all the cards.

Meals-Chipolte Rubbed Chicken Salad with Pico and Avacado, Warm Farro and Shrimp Bowl, and Serrano Steak with Mango Slaw and Cilantro Rice (Chicken Salad and Flank Steak meal pictured.)  I thought all of these meals were very good with pretty large portions.  I had leftover farro salad and leftover mango slaw and rice.

Other Info-Easy to follow and possibly the simplest meals to prepare in the bunch.  Again helpful Facebook page with user reviews and tips.  Pretty recipe cards and they included the nutritional information in great detail.  You got to choose three meals out of 5 for the week (1 option was vegetarian.)  Easy to stop and start.

Link-  use referral code CMRZ33 for $40 off your first box (which is a pretty darn good for trying it out.)

Some overall thoughts about this whole process...

I think this is a great idea for busy couples and families.  It would also be very helpful for new moms or inexperienced cooks new to the kitchen who want to learn.  One thing that was off-putting to me though was the amount of waste from the boxes, ice packs and packaging.  I tried to think of how much waste I would have if I had purchased the items from the store though and I guess it wasn't bad.  The ice packs can be re-used at home (or sometimes donated to your local meals on wheels.)  The boxes collapse into the recycling and most of the inner packaging was recyclable.

The pricing is more than I would probably spend on our normal meals at home but less obviously than going out.  Each plan had good and bad points.  I missed leftovers yet at the same time didn't miss the leftovers from cooking for two (if that makes sense to you guys-cooking for two is hard for me.)

The cooking times for me varied, it did take me longer than the time listed on the recipe card but I had each meal on the table in less than an hour. 

Final disclaimer-If you have a picky eater in your household this probably isn't for you.  Leslie did fine for some meals but by meal #8 (the Farro salad with the shimp) he just flat out didn't eat anything but the shrimp and I just skipped serving him the steak with mango slaw all together (he has a thing about meat and fruit).  He was just burned out on trying new things and it was becoming a dinnertime battle.  I personally love trying things and I'm not very picky so for me it was great.  But if you have a picky one or a meat and potatoes person this just isn't going to work for you.

I think if you are interested in the process though you should try one of the companies at least one time and see how you like it.  Feel free to let me know if you have any questions and I plan on trying each of the companies at least one more time (after I give Leslie some time to eat some meat and potatoes!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

It's "Hawt" Out There!

Howdy Blog Hoppers and welcome to the June Club Scrap National Parks Blog Hop...
If you want to be sure you checked out all of the great projects this month just hop on back to the Club Scrap Blog!

So I don't know about ya'll but here in the Northern Metro Atlanta area it's HOT!  I know summers in the South are usually pretty warm but for the time of the year it's been downright HOT for the last couple weeks.  Highs in the mid 90's with high humidity.  My poor Mom in Phoenix is facing temps of 114 for the next few days!!  So I made up a new word for this unbearable sticky hotness.  For those times when your undergarments are stuck to your sweaty body and sweat is running into your eyes...that's called being "HAWT".

HAWWWWWWWWWWWWWT.  You have to say it in a southern drawn out kind of whiny tone to get the full effect.  So you might be wondering what this has to do with the Blog Hop today...Well my craft room is here...
That my friends is a loft space.  Do you know the number one issue with loft spaces?  They are HAWT!  So when I need to whip up a crafty project it needs to be done with great haste!  So I grabbed some materials and set out to create.

(AJ helped to pick out today project.)

So today we are making a copy cat (ha I just said cat) of the Altered Composition Notebook from Retreat 2013.  The full directions can be found at the Club Scrap site here along with a handy video!

I gathered my notebook, 4 pieces of 8 1/2 x 11 paper and a length of ribbon from a grab bag pack and I was ready to go.

I used a piece of the National Parks 8 1/2" by 11" for the front cover and then coordinating grab bag papers for the other three sheets (I mean of course did you expect me to use all my new papers?)  All you need is a little bookbinding glue and a craft knife and you can cover your book in a jiff!

After gluing and burnishing you can flip the book over to cut carefully around the cover to remove the excess paper.

After doing this to all four sides (front and back, inside and out) I added a pocket to the inside back cover.
(This may or may not be exactly how you were supposed to make the pocket but it worked so...)

After just about 20 minutes and a little decorating you end up with this!!  Adorableness! 

(We are headed to an eco-resort on the Georgia Coast at the end of July and I plan to take it along to do a little journaling.) 

So this month I'm offering a random prize to someone who replies to my blog.  Club Scrap accidentally sent me someone elses GHM order in my box this month and said I could keep it so I'm going to turn around and give it to one of you lucky readers.  It includes 1 Irresistible Stencil, 2 Blues Lite Suede Papers, 1 Blues Treble Clef Pins, 1 Double Sided Stamp Scrubber, and 1 pack of ink applicators.  Pretty nifty huh?  I'll have the cats draw a random number to pick a winner.  All replies entered before Sunday June 28th at 8pm will be entered to win.

Finally here is a little farewell from MaryAnne who lays in this position because she's HAAAWWWT! (She's cooling her lady parts)
Stay cool my crafty friends and hop across the pond to Hetty's Blog!


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bold Botanicals

Howdy Blog Hoppers, welcome to the April Club Scrap Blog Hop featuring the Botanicals kit!
You've just hopped from Hetty's Blog and if you want to check out all the project this month be sure to stop by The Club Scrap Blog.  Now that we have that out of the way we can skip right to my finished project this month...
I know right???  Super cool!  So let's learn a little about this card and the process.

First we are going to have a little lesson in German (this is a bonus today, you had no idea you would be learning German did you?)  The art of cutting paper is called Scherenschnitte.  It translates loosely from German as "scissor cuts".  I started playing with this 16th century art a few years ago when I was decorating my kitchen and I created these...
I was struck by the QDDLs that Ron posted in his blog post here.  I loved the black and white of the flowers and how well it popped.

To create this card first grab your stamp, some embossing ink, black embossing powder and some thick glossy paper.  I used some from the Retreat 2008 Life's A Stage kit.  Thick is best for cutting and the glossy I think embosses best.
Stamp and emboss your image (do it a couple times if you are kind of stamping and embossing challenged.)

Pick the one that ended up the best.  If you have a small light spot it can easily be fixed later with a permanent marker.  Just grab your craft knife and start cutting...
I found as I went that it was a little better to cut out the smaller areas first.  Leave the image as large as possible until you are finished.  About 30 minutes and some sore fingers later you have this...

(Yes that is actual Earth and Herbs Club Scrap paper from 2002.)  Mount your artwork with black pop dots on the printed paper and then I used a sheet of Textiles and Notions purple.

I was pretty pleased with the end result and don't tell anyone but I think it would make a great Mother's Day card for my mom!

Thanks for hopping by today and hop along to Debby's Blog.

Oh and before I forget...
AJ is very excited about next months' kit The Blues!  Can't you tell?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ready...Set...Greetings to Go!

Howdy folks and welcome to the Club Scrap March Blog Hop!!
You should have hopped right over from Tiare's Blog but if you want to check out all the great posts this month feel free to "Hop" on over to the Club Scrap March Blog Hop post.

This month I'm featuring the newly "re-modeled" Greetings to Go Club from the 50s Kitchen collection.
It's been touted as the newer, gentler, easier version of the original with very little extra supplies needed to create 12 cards each month.  Being the kind of OCD person that I am I was a little skeptical if they were really as easy to create as they were advertised.  So I decided to have a little test run for you guys.  (You thought I was going to make something original didn't you?  Is this your first time on my blog??)

So picture it, a rainy Sunday afternoon and some 50th Anniversary Sound of Music tv show from the DVR (i heart that movie.)
So with my trusty table set up in the den I decided to see how long it would take to complete the Greetings To Go.  I started with the unopened pack and the directions open on my ipad.  I hadn't even read the directions yet...So...Ready Set Greetings to Go!!

I grabbed the list of supplies from the ipad and headed up the stairs to the loft (my crafting area which thrives in turmoil pretty much all of the time.)  So trip #1-I gathered everything from the list and plopped it on the table.  I started to read the directions and headed back up the stairs (trip #2) for my scor-pal (oops!)  Now I was ready...
So I did end up making trip #3 up the stairs to grab a better button adhesive but honestly folks in exactly 90 mins from the start of my supply gathering to the end of the process I had 12 perfectly made cards and just this left over.
Leslie came in partway through and swapped over to Ultimate Survivor Alaska so I might have paid a little more attention to the crafting than the tv...
But really I was surprised.  I made all of these including gathering, scoring, folding, decorating and even picking up in 90 minutes with only 4 trips up the stairs (including trip #4 which was to put everything away.)
My time included throwing the cats off the table approx. 5 times, stopping to look up something on the internet that was unrelated, putting some ribs in the oven and making the cards.  Pretty impressive.

I am constantly looking for easily portable crafting ideas and I think this is the perfect fit.  I'm anxious to try again next month and beat my 90 minute time!  Even if you aren't normally a card maker I invite you to try this re-tooled option for easy to make, impressive to give cards each month!

I hope you enjoyed my little experiment, your next stop on the hop is Ink Stains with Roni!

The cats have recovered from being tossed off the table...they knew you were concerned.

Until next month!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Keep Calm and Blog On

Howdy folks and welcome to the Club Scrap February Blog Hop featuring the London Calling kit!
If you came from Tiare's Blog you are following along perfectly.  If you'd like to check out a full list of today's bloggers please visit Club Scrap!

So remember last month when I made something awesome?  Well this month that didn't happen.  In fact it was all I could do to crank out this post today.  You see everything was going great, we had just returned from a week of vacation (oh how I wish I was there now!)

See how pretty and warm it was?  Well we then came home to an ice storm.  This below is just one of about 10 areas just on our street!

Seriously folks, power is very under-rated.  So we finally got power back last week and finally got stable internet up yesterday.  So for the last week and a half things have been a little crazy.  And Cold.  So I felt it was appropriate to make this card.

It was easy peasy.  I found a website where I could generate my own "Keep Calm" printable here.  I have three different family members moving in the next couple weeks and I thought the little house with the "Move On" was appropriate.  The whole idea was actually my mom's as I was frantic in the 11th hour to come up with something, anything for the hop today.  (Thanks Mom for bailing me out.)  I just printed out 3 of them and slapped them together with the awesome Greetings to Go set.  You could also use the unmounted stamp included with the kit to make your own "Keep Calm" saying.

AJ approves of the work.  I stamped this cute saying from the In The Neighborhood Um stamp set on the inside.
So I know it's not an amazing spectacular project like the rest you will hop to today but it was as good as it got with all the craziness going on. 

In closing I did a little research and did you know that the original Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster released for WWII by the British Government Propaganda Department?  There were a total of three different poster themes but this one actually wasn't widely distributed.  Most all the posters were gathered and reduced to pulp at the end of the war in 1945.   A bookseller stumbled on a copy in 2005 and it's popularity has skyrocketed since.

So if you are having a crazy week, month or even year so far just remember...

Now feel free to "Carry On" to your next stop on the hop Inkstains with Roni!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

One Month Late...Idea Stealing!

Howdy Blog Hoppers and Welcome to the...Constellations Blog Hop!
We have swapped up the order for the hop this month so in case you're confused (admit it, you're confused aren't you?)  Feel free to hop on back to The Club Scrap Blog.

So in December I went to a little local craft show and saw the cutest idea for a project.  I planned on stealing borrowing it for the Reunion Blog Hop...except I got busy.  You know how December is right?  Cray-cray!  So one month later I adapted my original idea for the Constellations Kit and came up with a little something like this...
It's a wooden wall hanging with clips so you can change out the photos whenever you want to.  In the little booth I saw they had them going both vertically and horizontally in all different shapes and sizes and colors.  I saw kids themes, sporting themes, you name it!  So here are the easy steps you can take if you want to make one for your very own!!

Step One-Buy some wood.  I ended up with a 1"x8" 8 ft long from our local Home Depot.  I had them cut it in half at the store (this makes it easier for transporting.)  I actually chose sort of a mid-grade wood.  It is worth it to have as few "knot" holes as possible.

Step Two-Lay out your idea to see the final size your wood should be.  Considering my work table currently looks like this...
I decided to lay mine out on the floor.  You aren't really having to go for perfection here just a general idea.  I used three 5x7 scraps of paper as a guide and left spacing for the clips and the stencil letters and then I made a pencil line so I would know where it needed to be cut.
Step Three-Find someone handy with power tools.  I know, I could have done this myself but sometimes it is ok to ask for help.  Leslie said to be sure to score your cutting line on the top side with a box cutter, this assures you will have a clean cut.  If you don't do this you might just need to do a little sanding.  No biggie.
Step Four-Paint your wood.  Try to find a cat free area and protect it with something.  This old plastic tablecloth works nicely.
I used three coats of white acrylic paint to cover and then I added a layer of silvery glitter acrylic paint as well.
Step Five-Fix up your decorations.  I cut 3 ea. mattes of 5x7 Constellations paper (the 12x12 Navy star print and the 8 1/2 x 11 burgundy star print.)  I also used the stencil to draw and then cut out my WISH letters.  It helps if you draw your pencil lines on the back side of the paper you want to use (flipping the stencil backwards.)
Step Six-Put it all together!  I used Club Scrap bookbinding glue to carefully glue down my 5x7 mattes, my WISH letters and my ribbon.  Using the grid ruler here is super helpful to make sure you keep even spacing between your mattes.
Step Seven (optional)-I went ahead and added two layers of mod podge over my entire project.  It really helped everything stay down and in place.  Both my ribbon and my mattes got a little "bubbly" in this process.  Luckily on the mattes it doesn't matter because they will be covered with the photos.  The ribbon?  Well it just has a little more character now.

Step Eight-Attach your clips.  Again there were power tools involved here but I don't think there would have to be.  I saw different clips that could be glued down, nailed down or even magnetic.  These grey ones came again from Home Depot.

The final step involved me hurriedly getting a few photos printed, racing to pick them up and adding them to my project with the clips so I had something neat-o to show you all today!


I hope you like it (if you buy a whole piece of wood you'll have plenty to make two!)  Thanks for joining me, Leslie and AJ the cat as we hopped today.  Next stop is Ink Stains with Roni!