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Before I get into all the posts from my Savannah, I wanted to give you guys a Blue Apron update. We just finished our third week, and things have gotten so much better!
Our box actually made it on time for the very first time. It was waiting at the door when we got home, perfectly chilled, and relatively unscathed. One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about this service is all of the seasonal ingredients that are showcased in the various recipes. This week the focus was on corn, endive, and tinkerbell peppers, and the food was absolutely fantastic.The skill level required this week was a bit more than in previous weeks, but Andy was a champ and even made his very first jam for the grilled cheese recipe.
Shrimp & Squid Ink Spaghetti
I’d really been looking forward to the squid ink pasta; it looked so cool, and we really enjoyed the dish. I think I typically enjoy my pasta with a bit more sauce, but with a few minor tweaks, this is something I can absolutely see us making again.
Sweet Corn & Tinkerbell Pepper Pizza
I dropped the ball a bit with this recipe. I didn’t get enough oil on the baking sheet, and our pizza ended up practically glued to the pan. I managed to chisel it out with a very sharp spatula, but it wasn’t the prettiest plate. The kale salad that actually topped the dish was so good. It took the whole dish from, “pretty good” to “we HAVE to make this again”.
Grilled Goat Cheese & Plum Jam Sandwiches
This was the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever had. The goat cheese was smooth and creamy; the shallot plum jam was so perfect I actually ate the left overs out of the pan with my fingers. The tart crunchy salad kept the meal balanced and fresh. So good. I can’t even.
I am really loving this trend of the boxes getting better every week. With such a rocky start, I was wondering whether we’d even want to use the service for a full month, but now I am going to be really sad when the month is up. I can’t wait to see what is coming our way next.
To change things up a little bit for Round Three of Thinking Inside the Box, I decided to review a subscription service that delivered weekly vs. monthly, Blue Apron. You’ve probably seen it all over the internet, but in case you haven’t, Blue Apron is a service that delivers recipes and ingredients for three meals to your door each week. You fill out a quick and easy form about the things that you will and won’t eat and then select the 3 meals you’d like from a list of 6. Each week new recipes are available.
We had some issues with our first order. Fed Ex delayed our package overnight and then delivered our box battered and bruised at the end of the day (where we’d been assured we’d get shipping priority). To top things off, they left our packaging outside in the 90 degree heat without ringing the doorbell or knocking. Fortunately, Andy and I were keeping an eye out, and we spotted the box.
On first glance, there didn’t seem to be much of a problem; the food was still cool (although not the refrigerated cool we’d been promised), and we quickly unloaded the contents so they could be stored properly. This is where we ran into the biggest issue. Many of the items had been damaged in transit. The container holding our seafood had been punctured and had leaked into the bottom of the box. Fortunately, the dividers had kept the rest of the crate from being tainted. The produce was nicked and bruised from the can (pictured), but luckily, only one item actually was too damaged to use. We bought a replacement so we could still try out all three recipes.
I will say the food was pretty good, and it was nice to cook with my husband, since it’s usually an either/or situation. The recipes were easy to follow and gave very detailed instructions, plus pictures, which I think is always helpful.
Spiced Shrimp & Pearl Couscous
This was the best meal of the three, and it helps me do something my doctor has asked me to do recently which is add seafood back into my diet.
* We’ve recently discovered I have some odd food allergies; my body has trouble processing beans/legumes, and it’s left me fumbling a bit for vegetarian protein options. I’m not exactly thrilled by this setback, but it’s temporary, and I’ve added more vegan meals into my breakfast and lunch to help me feel a little better about the situation.
Brown Butter Gnocchi
I loved this so much! I am going recreate it with a few minor tweaks maybe even later this week.
This last one I wasn’t a huge fan of, but Andy went nuts for it. He ate the rest of mine and the little bit left over in the pan. All and all, not a bad first week.
One thing that I want to make sure to tell you guys about is the amazing customer service I received after the delivery fiasco. I was really pissed with the way that the entire situation had gone down and was very close to calling this experiment a huge failure, and when the Blue Apron people reached out to ask me about my delivery, I sort of let them have it. Not in a bitchy way, just letting them know what happened and that I was really disappointed. Not even 24 hours later, I had an email from an actual person who was almost as upset as I was; he wanted all the details of everything that had gone wrong and after getting the list, I was issued a full refund and an additional credit on my account. And before you get all skeptical, I never once mentioned that I was a blogger or that I was reviewing the service.
This was another service that went out on a really high note. My June Bookish Box was without a doubt my favorite of the three I received. Theme-wise, it was the most on point, and all of the products were things I found useful. A little teaser: Wonderland!
What I got:
- Out of Print Socks – Admittedly, these are not a color I would pick for myself, but they have the white rabbit on them, so I’ll be wearing them anyway. Since we are still in peak sandal weather, these are currently tucked away in a drawer with the rest of my “cold” weather pieces.
- Baugaboo Bear Designs Notebook – I like the Great Gatsby, and I like pocket sized notebooks that I can tuck into my bag. This one has the added bonus of being very light so it won’t weigh my bag down. Plus, the brown cover should hold up well to wear and tear.
- A Cute Geek Ampersand Ring – This is such a cute little piece; I put it on as soon as I was done photographing it. I made the mistake of putting it on my nightstand, and Oliver grabbed it and scuttled under the bed with it. I know he didn’t eat it because I could hear him batting it around; I just couldn’t get to him. At some point, I will have to crawl under there and retrieve it.
- Appraising Pages Shirt – Hands down my favorite shirt from these boxes. It’s pretty, and it’s Alice themed. I am considering turning it into a tank top so I can get more use out of it.
- Magnetic Book Mark – This wasn’t on the insert page so I have no idea where it came from, but it’s useful. You can always use a good bookmark.
This is a bit mixed for me. Do I like the service? Absolutely. Do I want to order more boxes in the future? Yes. Do I want every single box they put out? Eh, not so much. I think unless you are a HUGE bookworm, there are going to be boxes that aren’t really “you”. My advice would be to subscribe to their email list and determine whether to buy the monthly box after hearing the theme. You’ll still end up with some cool stuff, and it’ll feel more personalized.
This months’ mail is going to be sad; it’s my last of all my three month subscription services. I am excited to try out some new services, but it’s always sad to say goodbye to something you’ve had so much fun with. Things went really well with this month’s sample selection, and I feel like this service is really ending on a high note. Here is the breakdown:
What I got:
- Benefit Gimme Brow Gel – This sample is the reason that people get subscription services like this. It’s that new shiny product that you never knew you needed. I’ve used brow pencils or my Julep brow tint for a while now, and they get the job done, but this stuff is a game changer. Two or three quick swipes and your brows are brushed, shaped and filled in. It’s knocked like 2 minutes off my morning routine.
- The Beauty Crop PBJ Smoothie Stick – Nope, nope, nope. Color – Meh, Texture – Meh, Longevity – Minimal, Smell/Taste – Awful. I could have let the other aspects slide and chalk it up to not being a huge fan of lip crayons/sheer tints/that particular color, but the smell and taste were awful. I wanted to wipe it off as soon as I put it on. *shudder*
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Exfoliant – I haven’t tried this yet; my usually good skin is having a rough week, so I don’t want to introduce anything that might exacerbate the situation. I am excited to try it out though. I like to use a more serious exfoliant once a week, and I am almost out of my usual choice. Fingers crossed.
- Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray – I am still on the fence about this one. I have certain products that I use every day, and this doesn’t really fit into the current line up, nor does it work as a replacement for one of the other products. I am going to have to play around with it a bit more before I decide definitively one way or the other.
- Coola SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint – I wanted this one to work out so badly! Even though they sent me the “light”, it was about two shades too dark for me. I tried a bit on my wrist anyway, just in case, and it was indeed too dark. It felt incredible though; I don’t think I’ve ever used anything with a comparable texture. It came out of the tube like a cream, but when you smoothed it into your skin, it felt soft and velvety like rose petals. I gave it to a friend to try, and she was equally enthralled with the texture.
Overall, the Birchbox subscription was just “okay”. Heck, my favorite part about it was the interesting packaging the samples came in every month. It was cool being able to try out new things, but I would have liked more control over what I was getting. Especially since a lot of the issues I had were that the products didn’t work with my coloring or skin/hair type. Comparing it to the Julep Box I was getting last round, I would go with Julep hands down.
After being so please with my first PopSugar Mini last month, I was pretty excited to see what they had in store for May. I know the regular box was loaded with wellness products, and I was curious to see how that would translate into the mini.
What I got:
- Zing Anything Zingo Tritan – I am a pretty big fan of infused waters in general. Tap water is perfectly fine on its own, but throw in a few sprigs of mint and some citrus or strawberries? Takes things to a whole new level. I’ve had parties where I go through three pitchers of infused water before the guests even begin to reach for other beverage items. As nice as it can be keeping “fancy” water in the fridge, it is a little more difficult to do when you’re out and about or at the office. This bottle makes it a lot easier to do. Fill up the bottom with herbs and fruit of your choice and just refill your bottle throughout the day. Easy peasy, lemon squeezey.
- H2O+ Beauty Oasis – Okay, I am going to go ahead and say that I haven’t used this yet, but I am working up to it. I kind of have a thing about using creams or lotions that are blue. Bright blue may look like crystal clear water (which is what I am guessing the manufacturer was going for), but it isn’t really a naturally occurring color when it comes to actual compounds and ingredients. I fully intended to add this to my night time routine, but then I saw the color and I balked. I’ve opened the container a few times since then and it seems to be getting less and less scary, so I am optimistic about trying it relatively soon.