Cooking dinner with Blue Apron.

Sponsored post by Blue Apron.  All thoughts are my own.

One of the most important, if not most important, things we do as a family each day is sit down together for dinner.  I love that time around the table to recount the days events, share a meal and spend quality time as a family.  However, making dinner has become one of my least favorite things to do.  It didn’t always used to be that way.   Trying to find a meal that 5 different palettes enjoy is next to impossible.  Inevitably there is always at least one person who complains about the dinner I’ve just labored over and begs for cereal.  Maddening! Then I go in to the whole, “DO YOU KNOW THERE ARE STARVING PEOPLE…” lecture which never goes over well.

When Blue Apron reached out to see if we’d like to try their meal service I was totally on board.  Anything to help me try and fall in love with cooking again as well as see if could find something my little men would enjoy would be a welcomed challenge.

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 2 dinners for 4 people were delivered in a box right to my doorstep.  Just the ingredients was a change to my old stand-by dinners I’ve gotten used to making to suite palette’s under 10 years old.  There were no boxed meals with artificial powders…everything was farm-fresh.

Night 1 I made Cantonese-Style Beef & Vegie Stir Fry.  The recipe was printed on a color page with pictured instructions.  It was like Cooking for Dummies and super helpful.

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Okay, so a carrot is a carrot, right?  No lie, I swear this carrot must have been grown in Heaven’s garden.  That sounds ludicrous, I know.  These ingredients were fancy, high quality ingredients that I wasn’t expecting.  I could have eaten everything raw they were so good.

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It took about 45 minutes start to table which was a little longer than I normally like to spend on a meal but I was very careful to follow the instructions.  Last thing I wanted was to show off a slop of a meal for the camera.

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Wouldn’t ya know they all ate it (except my youngest who I still have to force vegetables upon).

Night 2, I was swamped with work and the crew was hungry.  I had a deadline so I told the Mr. where the ingredients were, gave him the recipe card and let him loose to make Chicken Mole with Sweet Potatoes.

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People, the Mr. doesn’t ask for much at all.  The one thing he would love every night is to know what the plan is for dinner…even if he has to cook it himself.

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When he called everyone in for dinner I was shocked. Like fall off my seat shocked.

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HE MADE THIS ALL BY HIMSELF!  Tell me this doesn’t look like a restaurant made it!
A+ on presentation.

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Obviously he made no attempt at hiding any pride in his “cookery-ship” (word he invented).

The verdict: The Mr. and I loved it…the little men…we’re working on it.

So here’s how it works:
Blue Apron is a meal delivery service where you are the chef.  You can pick from a 2-person or family plan which serves 4.  The price for this plan is $8.74 per meal, or $69.92 per eight serving delivery. Free shipping.  No commitment, cancel anytime. Each meal is between 500-700 calories per person.

Would we do it again?
  Price. How do I say this without sounding like a poor cheapskate? Our allotted food budget is a lot less than $8.74 per person, per meal.  I totally think the price of the meal is on point but for our young family it’s a bit high to eat like that every night.  Having said that, I was so busy with work on night 2 that if we didn’t have the meal for the Mr. to prepare I would have sent him to get take-out which would have been the same price as the Blue Apron price and our take-out would have been less healthy.

Taste.  My little men weren’t as dazzled by the meals as the Mr. and I were.  Probably because they were a lot of vegetables (which most kids think are poison).  But listen, your kids get used to eating what you prepare most.  These Blue Apron recipes are the ideal way I’d like to feed my family all the time.

Convenience.  This is the biggest seller for me.  For as many excuses for price and complaining kids I have, you just can’t put a price tag on convenience in this day and age.  We’re just so busy that anything that helps us put a healthy meal with fresh ingredients on the table without having to plan or shop is priceless in my book.

We always ending up eating out at least once a week when schedules are just too hectic.  I would much prefer to have a healthy meal in the fridge on stand-by to prepare than running out for something which would take the same amount of time and be less healthy.  Having one meal delivered a week would be completely doable.

So here’s an exciting offer I get to extend.  If you’d like to try Blue Apron the first 50 readers will get two meals off their first Blue Apron order free!  Click here.

To explore some of Blue Apron’s dishes go here to their recipe page.

So tell me, with dinner time becoming some-what of a novelty these days how do you make dinner work at your house?

Keeping your carpets Bissell clean + Bissell Upright giveaway.

Whenever we tackle a new project the whole house goes to crap.  100% of the time we inevitably leave a trail of mess and disaster in our wake.  Case in point our plank wall project that we posted about yesterday.

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With the magic of before and after’s it may look like we’ve got everything under control but with 4 men and myself living in a construction zone it’s anything but organized and our carpets really take a hit.  While I was painting, my youngest stepped in the paint pan and my oldest threw a ball at the wet wall. Despite our efforts to take precautionary measures at protecting the house and carpets, a mess is inevitable.

Our carpets, pre-project, were worn with the normal wear and tear of family living but painting made an even bigger mess even with a tarp laid down.

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Every single stair had some kind of stain on it.

Introducing my BISSELL ProHeat 2X® Premier 47A23 Upright Deep Cleaner.  You may remember I sang it’s praises during the holidays when I spilled a red berry smoothie all over my vintage Persian rug.  It saved my rug (and my sanity).

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Luckily it has a hand tool which is perfect for stairs, upholstery and tight smaller spaces.  This time I volunteered to try the BISSELL Professional Deep Cleaning with Febreze® Formula on our carpets.

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You just mix the formula with warm water in your machine per the instructions then spray, scrub and suck.

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Check out all the filth it sucked up with just one pass.  You see the formula going to work immediately when you spray it on and it smells great.  Plus it has Scotchgard which protects your carpets from future stains.

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This little hand tool came in real handy when my son got sick in the car on the way back home from a road trip.  Ugh.  I would have had to pay $150.+ to have an auto detailer professionally clean the car upholstery otherwise.  Fortunately, my Bissell tackled it and any lingering odors.

These are our master bedroom carpets.  I’m amazed at the amount of dirt this gray carpet shows.

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We don’t wear shoes in our home or eat anywhere but the kitchen…this is what normal daily wear and tear looks like.

 BISSELL Professional Deep Cleaning with Febreze® Formula to the rescue!  My mom always said, “You want a job done right then do it yourself.”

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You know how every house has it’s own unique smell?  Your carpets are the main source of where that smell lives.  Check out the amount of grime this baby pulled out of our carpets.

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Using BISSELL Professional Deep Cleaning with Febreze® Formula neutralizes those odors and brings freshness to your home.

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Now your carpets will accentuate the room and smell as fresh as the rest of the decor.

Now for some exciting news.  Bissell will be giving away one Deep Clean Lift-Off machine and BISSELL Professional Deep Cleaning with Febreze® Formula.

lift off giveaway

To enter, go check out Bissell’s site here.  Then come back and leave a comment on this post letting us know your best spring cleaning tip or how you’d use a Bissell machine.  (Please leave your email address with your comment for us to contact you in case you win).

Good luck!

Plank Wall Reveal.

This is a sponsored post by HomeAdvisor.  All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Last week I gave you an in-progress peak of how our plywood plank wall project was coming along that HomeAdvisor sponsored.

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Now that my new friend Nathan was done with his part of the install it was my turn to take over. It was quite a doozey but I balanced a ladder on the stairs and filled nail holes then got it all painted. One thing I learned the hard way was that I should have painted the wall prior to installing the boards.  I honestly thought the cracks would be so small that the stencil wouldn’t show through but it did.  Getting enough paint on my brush and jamming it in to all those cracks was a major task.   Note to self…paint the wall underneath first.

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Having a sheet of plywood cut down in to planks was a lot cheaper than using tongue and groove boards like we did in the rest of the house but there are some big differences.

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You probably wouldn’t notice there were two types of materials in the house but if you compare the two you’d see some differences.

Plank vs. Tongue & Groove

The plywood planks have a much rougher surface and the edges can get a little jagged when they are cut down.  It’s not a big deal if you’re going for the slightly distressed look.  I tend to like things a little more clean and smooth so I prefer the tongue and groove.  However, I saved so much money with the plywood boards that I can easily overlook it.

Another issue with the plywood planks is that they ten to bow a bit.  Again, you would probably never notice but when you take a part in the install you notice everything.

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One way to try and alleviate this is to glue the boards down in addition to nailing them down.  I was worried I would say in 10 years, “Remember that year when planks were big?…” and want to rip them out, which is why I opted not to have them glued down.  Filling a gazillion nail holes is one thing…repairing damaged, glued drywall is another.

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Now that it’s all done I am SO glad I hired out the install of the planks themselves.  It was just such a major job which would have taken me weeks to do with my little men.  I lucked out with finding a superb guy on HomeAdvisor and would highly recommend giving them a try next time you need a home improvement professional.

HomeAdvisor also just launced their new True Cost Guide which is an interactive tool that helps you get an idea of how much your project will cost you by comparing averages of local and national jobs.

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 Check out our previous post on the install here. Paint color: Silent White by Clark & Kensington.