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Trying Out a New Way to Cook for the Family

I had never heard of Blue Apron before seeing it on some of the blogs that I read, but it sounded good and I was certainly up for trying it out. My friends here hadn’t heard of it either, but when I was in New York, I mentioned it to a couple of people and they knew all about it. Apparently it’s a big thing out there already? And it is available for free shipping nationwide to over 80% of the country, so chances are good that you’re in one of their delivery zones. So far we’ve tried one week of the service (three meals), and everything we’ve cooked has been great!

Blue Apron Ingredients

Brandon does more of the cooking than I do, but we were both in the kitchen to make our first dish: Filipino-Style Beef Picadillo. (Because duh, one of us had to hold the camera. How do food bloggers do this on the regular?) The recipes are designed by chefs to be delicious and good for you, and you can choose portions for two, four, or six people. The meals are $9.99 per serving with free shipping and we went with the four servings size, but they’re generous so we had leftovers for lunch from each recipe.

Preparing Ingredients from Blue Apron

Brandon, Cooking

There is a lot of packaging, which is understandable — the boxes are packed to keep things cold during shipping so the food stays fresh. Everything arrived in perfect condition though, even potentially squishable foods like the tomatoes. The ingredients are sent in just the right amounts, so you have everything you need all planned out for you with no trip to the grocery store and you don’t end up with random bottles of stuff you’ll never use entirely. (Like the giant bottle of fish sauce that has been sitting in our house, mocking us for not finding more uses for it.)

Cooking

Cooking

By the way… ever wonder how multiple pots and pans fit on our antique stove? Answer: not very well. The left half is wood-burning, so only the right half with gas burners is functional as cooking space. It’s a challenge. The stove looks cool, but it’s pretty apparent that cooking technology has changed a lot since 1918.

Cooking on an Antique Stove

Even with our ancient stove, we do make almost all of our meals at home. We fall into ruts though, making the same meals over and over again, so it’s nice that Blue Apron helps us learn new recipes and lets us try out new foods. (I’d never had chayote squash before using it in this beef dish.)

Blue Apron Filipino-Style Beef Picadillo

The meals are really good, and the kids liked them too. We even garnished for presentation, which we usually don’t do. So you know. Fancy.

Kid-Approved Dinner

I’m glad we got the chance to try the service because we’re looking forward to using Blue Apron again, for sure. There’s no commitment; you can sign up and get a week’s delivery, then skip or cancel at any time. I think it could be particularly useful for us when baby number three arrives, so we won’t have to do the meal planning and shopping.

If you’d like to give it a go too, Blue Apron is offering two free meals with your first order to the first 50 readers that sign up.

I’m in France!

And I’m maybe just an eensy bit excited about it. An opportunity came up to go to Northern France, and while I wish Brandon were here with me (and that I could indulge in more than the tiniest sip of champagne while in the region), an amazing trip like this is not really the kind of thing you say no to.

Reims, France

Je parle seulement un peu français, but it’s coming back to me enough to get by. I’m visiting Reims, Dijon, and Poitiers as part of a sponsored campaign with the French board of tourism, and then extending the trip to visit Marrakesh and Paris too. I have some other content planned to share with you while I’m away, and of course I’ll recap the trip in a couple of weeks when I’m back. Until then, you can see some of what I’ll be up to on Instagram if you’re curious!

Making it Home

Let’s get rambly. Last weekend, I almost bought a couple of chairs for the back parlor, and then I decided against it. I’ve done this a bunch of times. I know — excitement and thrills! Hold on to your seats!

I’ve mentioned before that Brandon and I had set aside a budget for furniture when we bought this house, and I think we used it well. We bought a washer and dryer, a black and white striped sofa for the front parlor and a teal blue sofa for the back, a rug, and a media console. We’ve been working with what we already had from the last house too, of course, but this house is bigger and much different in style, and so there are some missing pieces. And those missing pieces are harder to justify spending a lot on, since we’ve already bought the main things and have gone through that initial furniture budget. Anything coming in now will be brought in a little at a time, and saved up for as we go.

This is exactly how we did things with the first house too, way back in 2007 at the beginning of this blog. The difference now though, is that I feel more pressure to do it all. Do it right! Do it big! Jules and I were emailing back and forth (chatting about something else), but she sent this gif in reply and it made me burst out laughing. It’s kind of appropriate here, so you get to enjoy it now too.

Go Big or Go Home!

Aren’t you glad? (Ack, it’s going to take a few posts before that gets pushed off the home page…)

But back to those chairs I almost bought. I love the idea of a matching pair of armchairs facing the blue sofa, which is what I was going for when I picked up the olive green scroll-arm chairs last winter. Then I got them home. They were a good deal, the scale was right, and the shape was interesting, but the color was off. Thankfully I didn’t lose any money on them (phew), and the mistake reinforced what I already knew, which was that I don’t like to make big impulse purchases. I like to fall in love with an item, then ponder it for a while. Sometimes I still love it, and it’s a go (like my blue sofa, which I thought and thought about for months before finally buying it on sale). Sometimes, I’m over it a couple of days later.

I often see chairs on Craigslist, in a thrift/resale/antique store, or on a flash-shopping site, and think I can make them work. I’m sure I could, and their easy to justify purchasing. The price is good! The deal won’t last! But then the more I think about it, I realize I’d be repeating the same mistake as with the green chairs. Something may be a great deal, but if the scale, shape, or color is off, I’m not going to be happy with the purchase long-term. And I’m not interested in rushing out to get a bunch of things for the sake of having a ‘finished’ room (self-induced pressure to do so or otherwise be damned). I’d rather wait and get it right. Maybe the right find will come along. Maybe it will mean saving up longer to buy the best quality I can. Either way, it’s going to take time. And I’m okay with that.

Actually, I’m more than okay with it. I’m enjoying the process! I love living here and experiencing the changing seasons in our house. I like being able to really think about how we can make it work best for our family. I may wish we had just the right chairs opposite a sofa, but if we need more seating there are others we can use in a pinch. Decorating shows and seeing client work from designers condition us to think that a rooms and houses can and should come together on a deadline, but that’s now how real life works for the people I know and it’s not how it works for us either.

I may not always succeed, but I’m doing my best to do things right the first time, and to value quality over quantity. What interests me most is working with what we have, adding good pieces over time, and adding pieces with an overall plan in mind (but being flexible enough to let that plan shift and change). I’m aware that I could be creating blog content by bringing in new pieces and working on rooms as quickly, but it’s more important to me that I’m creating a home. I’m trying to think of a cliché to mirror Go Big or Go Home here. Maybe Slow and Steady Wins the Race? Ah, wait, I have a Pinterest board full of platitudes and quotes to choose from!

This will do nicely.

When you do things from your soul, other people really dig that shit.

Also, this.

Remember why you started.

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