FOOD

Experiment Part 1: Hello Fresh Review

Hello Fresh was such a good start to my experiment. As mentioned in a prior post, I embarked on the first part of my experiment: trying out products/services that I hear about on podcasts or see in ads. Hello Fresh seemed like a nice starting point because I wanted to get better at cooking and because I had been hearing about it SO much. I would say 90% of the podcasts I listen to regularly have featured ads for Hello Fresh. If you haven’t heard of Hello Fresh, it is a meal kit delivery service that provides instructions and portioned out ingredients to make at home.

My initial thoughts on Hello Fresh were that is was really easy, but a bit expensive. I did like that the boxes were kind of personalized (you can pick what type of plan you get– Connor and I got the plan that comes with 3 vegetarian meals per week and makes 2 servings). Other than those first impressions, I didn’t have any expectations.

Luckily, since I heard about Hello Fresh on so many podcasts, I had lots of discount codes to pick from to save money. With the code, I was able to save $80 over the course of 4 weeks. That discount really helped in making it seem more affordable and may have impacted my overall impression. After the discount, each week was anywhere from $30 to $50. Connor and I split this cost, so it seemed even more affordable. With the discounts and splitting the cost with Connor, I decided that Hello Fresh was worth the money.

The food is also a very important aspect of Hello Fresh, so that was something else I took into account during this experiment. We had a total of 12 different meals from Hello Fresh. I would say I really didn’t love 2 of the meals. They were still good, but they weren’t too different from something we would make on our own. I found that most weeks came with some sort of pasta dish, a rice dish, and then a more unique (at least to us– we normally have pasta or rice dishes) grain like farro or couscous.

I loved how many veggies were involved in the meals. There were usually 2-4 in each dish, which was great! I also liked that Hello Fresh covered all the details when it came to flavor. There were always seasoning packets, oils, cheeses, herbs, lemons, etc. to add more flavor to the dish. Those are the kinds of things I don’t always think of and won’t normally get at the store. Overall, the food was great and I really recommend the veggie plan. Connor and I always wished we had more of the dishes for seconds or leftovers the next day. Connor isn’t a vegetarian like me, so I think that says a lot about the dishes included. My favorite dish was “The Mediterranean Baked Veggies with Couscous.”

Lastly, I wanted to discuss the prep time and instructions that go along with each meal. I honestly expected prep time to be shorter. I’m not the best cook so a lot of dishes that had a prep time of 10-20 minutes took me 20-30 minutes. The overall meal and cooking would usually take an hour, so I am not sure if the timeline they give us super accurate. I also didn’t love how it says everything is in 6 steps. Each step included other steps within it, which I felt was a little deceiving, but overall I was happy to have good instructions to follow.

I would say Hello Fresh is worth a try if it is something you have been thinking about. Connor and I haven’t gotten it in a few weeks and I actually miss it. I think the main takeaways are that it’s great having the measured out/fresh ingredients, the meals are actually really yummy, and it does take a bit longer than it says on the instructions.

If you have tried Hello Fresh or any other meal delivery service, let me know what your experience was like. I would always be interested to try other brands!

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LIFE, weekend

Self-Care Sunday: Tips & Tricks

Happy Sunday everyone!! I have a love-hate relationship with Sunday’s because I love the idea of relaxing/recharging/prepping for the upcoming week, but I also don’t want the weekend to end.

Anyway, I am going to share some “self-care” tips and tricks. I try to make my Sunday’s a nice mix of productivity and relaxation, so I would say my tips are pretty reflective of this.

1. Sleep in- I love waking up and getting my day started, especially on the weekends. However, on Sunday, I sleep as long as I need to. I feel like it sets me up for a good week.

2. Get outside- I love exploring Chicago on Sunday’s. I either go to some of the local farmers markets, walk to get bagels or coffee, go for a run, or just sit outside.

3. Clean- this one is huge for me. I love getting laundry and dishes done on Sunday. They are the two main things that pile up during the work week. I also vacuum, dust, clean the bathroom, and organize anything that got cluttered during the week.

4. Light a candle- I have become obsessed with candles. I love to have one burning on the kitchen counter when I am home. I have a few different ones that I have been burning- one from Target, one I found at Aldi, and one Connor got me for Valentine’s Day (it’s the Pure Love kombucha candle from GT’s). I love when our apartment smells good and they are relaxing.

5. Diffuse essential oils- I got the same diffuser that my friend Brooke (hi Brooke if you are reading this) has and I use it almost daily. I mostly have it on at night, so lavender is always my go-to.

6. Stretch- there was a long period of time where I never stretched. I am mostly talking before and after running because I always hated it in high school. However, I love stretching to get my body moving. I still don’t stretch before or after running, but I do think it is a nice way to loosen up and relax.

7. Shower and get ready for bed early- I would say I shower and put my pajamas on by 4 or 5 on Sunday’s. I am able to do a face mask and do my nails if I need to! I have been testing out a few different face masks, but I always love the rose mask from Trader Joe’s and my greens mask from Glossier.

Those are all of my tips for now. Doing these things on Sunday’s helps me feel ready for upcoming week. What are some ways you relax or practice self-care?

TRAVEL, weekend

I Checked Something Off My Summer Bucket List (Garden of the Gods Recap)

I am on my way back from Garden of the Gods with Connor as I write this. If you have followed along for awhile, you probably recognize the name of this park from past posts. I have been wanting to visit since Connor and I moved to Chicago. I saw an advertisement for it on the side of a bus stop, and then I started seeing it on Instagram. It looked beautiful, so I knew I needed to go at some point.

Luckily for me, today was the day I got to go. Connor and I stayed in St. Louis on Friday night since it is a bit more lively than Southern Illinois. We drove to Garden of the Gods this morning after a big breakfast at Rooster on Grand. The park was roughly two hours from St. Louis and it rained the whole way there. Somehow the rain cleared up about half an hour after we got to the park.

We started our “hike” as the rain died down. I didn’t realize that the entire park was only a quarter mile trail (I definitely didn’t do any prior research) so I am not sure I can call it a true hike. Connor and I assumed we would cruise through the park, but we ended up spending about 1.5 hours at the park.

Basically the entire park is a paved trail with rock formations along the way. Each formation is a bit different from the others, and they all provide different views of the park/forest. We climbed up most of them. They were a little slick in some places because of the rain so I opted not to climb too much on some of them. I liked the third and fourth “lookout” points the best. I think they gave the best view of the park but also the other rock formations.

I was really happy with our time at the park. I guess the weather could have been a bit better, but the rain clearing up was good enough for me. It’s definitely a great place to camp and there are other areas throughout the Shawnee National Forest to explore. I am pretty sure Garden of the Gods is the main attraction, but I could be wrong on that.

Anyway, I would recommend making the trip. It is a beautiful park and really easy to navigate. I saw a ton of kids and families there too, so it would be a fun trip for anyone. From Chicago it is about 5 hours, but it is so nice being in nature, so I hope to make one more trip there sometime. I am thinking the fall would be a great time since the leaves will have changed colors!

What are your favorite parks to explore near you?

ENTERTAINMENT, FAVORITES, FOOD, goals, HEALTH, LIFE, PODCASTS, TRAVEL

My Favorite Instagram Accounts

Lately I have been thinking about the content I am consuming on Instagram, on YouTube, through podcasts, etc. I follow a bunch of different people– some for inspiration, some for travel, some for food recommendations, and some just for fun. I have a bunch of favorite Instagram accounts that I love following along with. I thought I’d share my favorites in case you are looking for some new accounts to follow along with.

I would say most of the accounts are more lifestyle based. Some include more fashion, beauty, travel, and family. And others are more food related or actual restaurants.

1. Shutthekaleup

2. Aspyn Ovard

3. Amberfillerup

4. Jacimarie

5. Maggiemacdonald

6. Chicagoismyboyfriend

7. Chicagofoodauthority

8. Indianafoodie

9. Learningfrombalance

10. Sarahsday

11. Withkendra

12. Embalanced

13. Meredithfoster

14. Thesaltydonut

15. Niceytreat

16. Kathleenpost

17. Detroitcookiecompany

18. Reneeroaming

19. Seersuckersandsaddles

20. Emmamacdonald

21. Gretchengeraghty

22. Brookemiccio

23. Haileydevine

24. Daniellecarolan

CHICAGO, FOOD, goals, LIFE, weekend

A Relaxing & Productive Weekend

It’s currently almost 9pm on a Sunday night and I feel really good about the weekend. Connor and I originally planned to go on a weekend road trip, but decided last minute to stay in Chicago. I was kind of happy we decided to stay home for the weekend since I was SO tired.. more tired than usual (I got in routine of staying up until 12am last week.. that routine will not continue haha). Plus, I ended up falling asleep at 9pm on Friday night.

Anyway, this weekend was nice since I was able to relax and be home. It was also super productive since I was able to clean, go through my clothes, grocery shop, and enjoy Chicago a bit. I thought it could be fun to list some of the things I did this weekend.

1. Had sushi for dinner on Friday

2. Went to the post office

3. Scones and coffee for Saturday morning breakfast

4. Did SO many dishes

5. Vacuumed

6. Went through my clothes. I like to do this every month or two.

7. Did SO much laundry.. we get behind on this with traveling pretty frequently. The hamper is empty now!!

8. Cooked dinner on Saturday night (cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe’s)

9. Cleaned our room

10. Face and hair masks

11. Went to the farmers market

12. Went to the grocery store to get a few things for breakfast and lunch this week. I definitely missed Aldi.

13. Tried out a summer cocktail recipe. It was good! I found it on Pinterest. Basically just cucumber, lemon, mint, a bit of sugar, and gin.

Those are a few of the things I got done this weekend. It felt great to get the apartment in order and get a bit more organized. I am hoping to have more weekends like this during the summer! What did you do this weekend?

LIFE

Life Update

I thought I should pop on over to my blog and share a bit of a life update. Nothing too crazy is going on, but a lot of my posts have been related to trips/travel lately, and haven’t been as personal.

I briefly mentioned some things I wanted to accomplish over the summer in my “Summer Bucket List” post, some of which included goals I have for 2019 overall. I have been listening to a bunch of podcasts, watching videos, and reading about the best ways to go about video editing, vlogging, and starting a podcasts. For some reason, starting a podcast has been a daunting task for me, so I am glad to be absorbing more information on how to really do it.

Going along with that, I feel like I have been learning a lot more. I am more focused on my goals and I am making more time for them. I am realizing how much I care about my hobbies and things I just like doing for fun. However, I do want to do a good job blogging, creating videos, etc., so learning and taking more time on things has been good.

I have been using Hello Fresh for a month or two now. I am planning to do a post on my experience soon. I am also deciding what product or service that I want to try out next for my experiment. I mentioned this in a prior post as well (read it here). I will give a sneak preview of my Hello Fresh experience now– it has really helped me cook (one of my goals for 2019). It can be annoying with all the prepping and clean up, but I am always happy that I took the time to make a yummy and healthy meal. I really do appreciate how Hello Fresh helped me get closer to one of my goals.

I just finished Gossip Girl… literally 30 minutes ago. I started watching it randomly when I was home sick from work in February or March (I’m pretty sure it was around then). I had no idea what to watch, so I just went with Gossip Girl. I ended up loving it, even at the end when I was told it wasn’t good/seemed low budget (haha). I am sad it’s over, but glad it had a nice ending.

Lastly, I have been keeping up with running lately. Even on the days that I don’t plan to run, I end up running. I really love that! It is really the best time for me and the weather has been great.

So I guess that wraps my life update for now! I am hoping to get some new posts together over the next couple weeks, so stay tuned for those. I have a long list of ideas waiting in my notes.

goals, LIFE

Summer Bucket List

Summer is almost here! It has been feeling like summer a couple days a week in Chicago (lol it is like 80 degrees once a week and the rest of the time it’s either raining or freezing). Because of all of this, it’s time for my Summer Bucket List!!

1. Ride Divvy Bikes with Connor along the lake

2. Go to Garden of the Gods State Park in Southern Illinois

3. Run outside before work some days (I imagine most will end up being afternoon runs)

4. Go to the Skydeck on a sunny day

5. Visit Sleeping Bear Dunes

6. Go back to Detroit

7. Take two trips that require a plane ticket (one is already booked and I’m thinking Dallas for the other!!)

8. Get some plants for our back patio

9. Perfect some summer cocktails

10. Vlog more

11. FINALLY start my podcast! I have been pushing it off for so long

12. Go kayaking

That’s all I have for now! I am am so excited for a full summer in Chicago and all of the adventures I have planned. Stay tuned to see what I check off my list.

What is on your Summer Bucket List?