christmas cards with minted

christmas cards with minted

i realize this may be a bigger deal for you than for me, but… my christmas cards are in the mail!  about 5 years ago or so, we had family pictures taken, i ordered cards, then i couldn’t finish!  the thought of addressing about 100 cards by hand and then also the cost of stamps made me decide sending out cards wasn’t such a great idea after all.  i handed out as many as i could, but ended up throwing the rest away!

christmas cards with minted

but not this year!  i am running a little late, but my cards are done and in the mail!  i ordered my cards through minted and could not have been happier with the process.  the hardest part was deciding which design to choose!  in the end, i ended up going really simple, with a gilded edge, which complimented our picture really well.  (thanks cameron, for the great pictures!

christmas cards with minted

christmas cards with minted

the standard paper is so nice and thick!  i also had a collage of pictures done on the back, but forgot to take a picture of that.

christmas cards with minted

we also went fancy and did the gold envelope liners, which were way easier to put in than i expected.

christmas cards with minted

we had a really simple message written along the bottom, and kept the overall design clean.

christmas cards with minted

christmas cards with minted

(please ignore the bad choice of nail polish – i have decided i am definitely NOT a red nail polish girl)

my favorite part was the FREE printed addresses!  i just typed in all the addresses and they came beautifully printed!  even better, next year they’ll still have all my addresses stored and the process will go that much quicker!

you guys, its not too late to order your christmas cards.  i mean, maybe call them new years cards if you want.  or my sister-in-law sends out groundhog’s day cards every year – do that!  i love getting cards during this season, even if they come after christmas!

have you entered my giveaway yet?  you still have a couple days so get on it!  minted is giving away (2) $125 gift cards to their site.  how awesome is that!? all you have to do is CLICK HERE and fill out a quick form – good luck!

how i meal plan: hello fresh!

several months ago (maybe a year?) my friend emily posted about a meal plan that changed her life.  i laughed, but read on anyway, thinking “really?”

one of my most dreaded mom duties is feeding my people, and all thats involved with that: meal planning, grocery shopping, making meals that get complaints & groans, not knowing what i’m doing in the kitchen, making the same meals on repeat and throwing out wasted food.  i thought that meal planning was the way to go and it would solve all my dinner-making woes.  my kids are old enough that they take care of their own breakfasts and lunches for the most part, but dinner was my nemesis.  for sean’s christmas present a couple years ago, i created 6 months of meal plans, with a variety of new and favorite meals (i know, super romantic).  i thought if i knew what we were going to eat each week, grocery shopping would be much more simple, and i wouldn’t dread dinner time.  it seems like a silly thing, but this area of my life was a huge stressor.  after just a few months of following the monthly meal plans, i ditched them.  i was going to 3 different stores to get all the ingredients i needed each week, and i often forgot ingredients i thought i had – almost every meal – grrr!

hello fresh was a breath of fresh air.  it is chef curated recipes based on seasonal farm fresh ingredients delivered every week to your doorstep.  there are several plans (choosing the number of meals each week), you can choose from a weekly meal menu, get pre-measured seasonal ingredients, and prepare amazing home-cooked meals.

when i read emily’s post about hello fresh, i immediately shared the idea with sean.  i think he felt as desperate as i did (he was tired of all the money we were spending eating out as a result of me not being prepared for dinner), so he said, “go for it”!  i was able to use a discount code for $40 off my first box which would feed my family for 3 nights, so it absolutely felt worth the try.

was it worth the try? um, heck yes!  we have continued to order weekly boxes from hello fresh for nearly a year now and love love love it! IMG_7418

so here’s how it works:  each week i get a box shipped to my front door.  i know what day it comes so i am able to plan out my meals according to when the box comes.  i have a little routine when the box comes – i lug the box to the kitchen (its pretty heavy since there are a bunch of frozen ice packs keeping the food nice and fresh), then make sure my fridge space is open.  we have a dedicated section at the top of our fridge for our boxes – 3 sit on the top shelf with their proteins tucked on top of the boxes.

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before i put away the boxes i just do a quick check to see if all the ingredients are there or if any have spoiled. *quick disclosure – i have had several times over the course of many months, where an ingredient was missing or a bell pepper was soft, etc.  a quick email to customer service ALWAYS got me an apology and a discount on my next box – several times i have been given a completely free box because of their minor mistakes!  all that to say, nobody’s perfect, mistakes happen, and the hello fresh customer service ROCKS!

so when it comes time to make dinner, i pull out a box.  the only decision i have to make is which of the 3 meals i want!  we leave our recipe cards on our counter all week, right where we prepare our meals.

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i take out a box, empty all the ingredients on the counter, and use the box now as a trash can for meal prep (did you ever watch rachael ray cook?  its like her ingenious garbage bowl she kept on the counter).  the recipe card tells me exactly what to do.  and there are pictures, too.  i also have the hello fresh app on my phone, which sometimes has extra videos to explain techniques that may be new to me. IMG_7426 (2)

the great thing, is i can start the meal, then if i need to take over with the kids, i can tell sean what step i’m on and he can easily step in.

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or even better, i can have my kids help with the meal, too, since it really tells you everything you need to know!

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my favorite routine after a long day, when i used to dread having to make dinner because i was drained, i pop in my earbuds, turn on a podcast, and cook in peace and quiet.  if i’m not too drained, i’ll put a fun station on pandora and turn the speakers up.  usually a kid or 2 will join me at the counter, and if i’m lucky sean will pour me a grown up beverage ;)

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i call everyone to dinner and they help me plate everything (it always looks beautiful, like take-my-picture beautiful).

here are the pros and cons for you:

pros:

i don’t need to decide what to make 3 nights a week

the box for 4 feeds my family of 5 (and sometimes 7 if we have parents in town)

we have loved every single meal with the exception of one so-so option

cooking unique meals that we never would’ve tried on our own

i can choose 3 out of 5 or 6 meal options each week if i want (or they’ll choose for me)

no wasted ingredients, everything is perfectly proportioned

quiet meals – everyone is savoring each bite

lots of appreciation from the family for yummy meals

learning new skills in the kitchen

easy to stop meal deliveries for vacations – or take them with!  we just did that for a road trip and it worked out great because we had all the ingredients we needed, all packed into one box!

the meals are all pretty healthy.  we tend to skip the options with potatoes or pasta.

the sauces.  oh the sauces!  so so good.

fresh herbs in almost every meal – i never knew what a difference fresh herbs made!

cons:

cooking takes a good chunk of time, generally 45 minutes or so.  i often need some alone time by that point in the day so i don’t mind too much.

not super cheap, but its definitely been worth it for us.

its only 3 nights a week.  but the other nights we either are eating with friends, eating out as a family/on a date, or have something super simple, like a premade frozen meal or leftovers.

sometimes the prep requires more dishes and pans than i feel like washing.  but then again, sometimes it just takes a few things!

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i’ve been wanting to share about hello fresh for so long, but i really wanted to make sure we loved it and didn’t get tired of it first.  i can honestly say that this meal system has changed our family for the better.  it sounds silly, but meal time is an every day occurrence and it is a mostly peaceful time for our family now.  the cost has been worth it for us, and our time spent at grocery stores has been severely cut down, as has our grocery budget.

so here’s the cool thing: you can try this too, with a $40 discount on your first box just like i did!  you can cancel at any point.

use code Y34NWA for your discount.

and if you really love it, you can refer hello fresh to friends and get $20 off your next box for each friend that tries it out – not a bad deal!  every couple months they also send me codes for completely free boxes that i can send to friends, which is really fun and feels generous even though i’m not doing anything at all!

hellofresh

try it, you’ll like it! (yo gabba gabba, anyone?)