Books · Product Review

Book Beau-A Book Lover’s Product Review

One morning a few months ago while sipping coffee I was browsing social media and saw something called a Book Beau. Have you ever heard of It? Have you seen It? Do you have one too? I felt like I was seeing it on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I was like a fish looking at a baited hook. I needed to know more about it. I did my research. And went about my day wondering what the buzz was all about.

A few weeks later, again while sipping coffee, my social media feeds suggested Book Beau. I checked Amazon and discovered it wasn’t available there. I was hoping to read reviews. I did find some YouTube videos and as you can tell, my interest was piqued. Book Beau’s site was offering a sale on pre-order fabrics so I took the bait and decided to find out what this phenomenon is really about.

Who knew when I ordered these babies that it would take probably twice as long. I ordered them early March under the impression they would be made and delivered in time for Easter. Production issues caused a delay and they were here before May Day! Barely. The company did communicate a couple of times via email with new shipment dates and even offering a coupon on another order the second time they had to advise of the delay.

Now, were I a Beau addict, I may have jumped right on the deal. Having yet to own one, I was slightly annoyed. Perhaps in future they might consider a partial credit for first orders of at least the shipping cost. This is a young company that used kickstarter to get into the business. They honestly care about the product and customers and may not be in a profit margin that gives them much to work with. And honestly their production issues were probably so incredibly stressful for them.

But I have them now and I have been been test driving my beaus for a couple of weeks. I should really stop ranting and get to raving.

When I opened the simple packaging and pulled these too beauties out, I have to say I was nonplussed. Yes…speechless. I saw the online images and I don’t know why I was initially confused. But puzzled, I was.

Believe it or not these babies sat on the floor next to my work space for a few hours as I went to the internet checking into my sanity.

Then I decided to give them a test drive and fell in love.

We have sleeves and covers for our electronic devices and planners. Why not our books?

And they come in the right sizes for paperbacks. Do you toss paperbacks into bags and then they get contorted or damaged? Yeah. It happens.

What I love best is that my self-directed learning books also have room to have designated pens and highlighters stored together. When I am on the go everything is in a neat little package to grab from my bag to pick up right where I left off.

They also are made of water resistant fabric for rainy days and leaking bottles.

It is easy to spot your current read in progress versus your to be read books if using these sleeves too.

Needless to say, I am ready to add to my collection. They keep adding new designs and the sizes are great for mass market and Indie print size. This book lover cannot imagine life without them after only a week.

Time to rethink the budget to add more functional fun to my collection.

Watch for more fun in this space. And if you want to find out more about them or purchase one (I am not getting any perks here.) Book Beau has an easy site to browse and buy.

Have a great weekend. I am off to play with books!

Family · food · health · Planning · Recipe

Meal Planning -Delivery Kits Review

Coffee time equals quiet time around here and I was reviewing blog ideas realizing I owe you an update on some of the other meal kit delivery programs we tried: Sun Basket and Martha & Marley Spoon.

If you recall, I posted a few weeks ago about out family pleasing experiences with Home Chef. This Friday another delivery will be at my doorstep and I am excited. Next week’s meal planning is practically a fait accompli thanks to Home Chef.

The past couple of weeks we tried a couple of other offerings.

Sun Basket

I immediately unboxed and loved all of the paper packaging knowing how easy recycling would be.

I was not excited about the recipe book. A magazine style that included EVERY single recipes shipped to any customer. That meant I had to find the recipes by flipping through the pages. (Each time I made a meal.)

I was slightly annoyed that the ingredient list didn’t include measurements. Now, I get that it is all pre-measured but I am a girl that wants the ability to re-create a winner. What if I really like it and don’t want to wait to see it again in rotation?

We received a few meals and the first one we tried was the steak meal.

I really enjoyed this meal. It was easy and light. My dauggter, however did not. She thought the steak was bland. We both were not impressed in the quality of the steaks. We had much better cuts from Home Chef.

My daughter wanted nothing to do with the vegetable dish but I loved it!

The other two meals were really pretty tasty as well. As far as quality goes, if I were cooking foe just myself I might try it again, but no one in my family was adventurous enough to try. I, myself had plenty of options for lunch and dinner all week.

If you recall, Home Chef has very little waste for us. Sun Basket had far too many vegetables. Yes…even for me.

I have skipped the next few weeks because I want to browse the rotation of menu options to see if there may be another week to try again. But our initial review is only moderately pleased. Also, the cost per person was $1-2 more per meal on average. We all have to love it to make the cost worth it.

Martha & Marley Spoon

Did you know Martha Stewart had skin in the game too? I shouldn’t have been surprised.

So we ordered a box.

The unboxing made me smile. I loved the recipe card! The note making it seem more personalized was a nice touch. And the small magazine that introduces the team and concept was a nice addition. They didn’t send a binder like Home Chef did. And I guess that little organization perk tickled me. Not having one from Martha was disappointing but not a show stopper.

Did you notice the quantities and measurements? I was so happy to see them. Re-creation is a possibility. That made me happy.

When making this dish, the recipe was hard to follow. It is based on 2 servings with notes for 4 servings. I really struggled because the formatting, amounts, and discerning the difference between 2 and 4 servings just didn’t jive. Not sure it hurt the outcome but this wannabe mom chef did not find this experience enjoyable.

The dish was delicious! And I would make it again. My daughter is not a fan of rice so I may have over served myself and ate leftovers the next day as well. We went with the lower prices cut of meat and it was a good cut: much better than Sun Baskets option but still not on par with Home Chef. We could have spent a bit more for higher end cuts of meat. I didn’t and wouldn’t feel it made a difference.

Now Martha is new skin in the game and the menu options from week to week are very limited. Especially if you are trying to align to dietary needs.

I am not compelled to order in the next couple of weeks as the menu choices just do not interest me nor my family. I am going to skip a few weeks and jump in again. I feel Martha deserves another go to see if the one meal we tried was an anomaly in my struggle to discern the recipe and instructions.

Overall we were pleasantly surprised and are sad the menu isn’t more robust yet. Martha does give me hope to try again.

So many more to try: One Potato, Blue Apron, and Platrf to name a few.

Next month maybe we will give them a spin. But for now, I am sticking with Home Chef because they have delivered consistent winners.

Have you tried any meal kit deliveries yet? Which ones? I love having these as options on busy weeks.

Crafting · Family · Holidays · Recipe

Organizing Recipes – Decluttering the Piles

I have so many recipes in so many random places. Santa brought me a Happy Planner Recipe Planner a couple of years ago. And it is full of blank pages that are just waiting to get filled.

Over the past several months I have been finding recipes I have jotted down, saved as favorites, and printed. I look in a box, a book, or a drawer and suddenly a new recipe is stuffed inside. Instead of sticking them back, I have started putting them in the pocket folder of this planner and while I binge watch one evening each week, I WILL transfer them to my recipe planner. Finally!

I love the format and flexibility of this planner and hope that I can eventually have all of my recipes stored here.

As I use it I will also include love notes and memories in these pages for my kids to have for years. I can embellish with stickers and pictures and washi tape so that it can be another memory-filled and likely food-stained reminder of my crazy obsession of making things pretty.

And of course I have themed stickers to include in the fun!

How do you organize recipes? If you are looking for a binder like this I found mine along with expansion packs at Michael’s. I have also seen them on Amazon and of course, at one of my favorite sites, wwe.thehappyplanner.com

Share your way of organizing favorite recipes. Show me some pictures too. I would love to see them.

Family

Managing Mondays -Remembering Mom

I actually enjoy sipping coffee at all times of the day. I probably should have decaf after noon but I never do. My mother and grandmother had a pot consistently ready to drink all day long. I am not quite that dedicated. It is not unusual to drink coffee past noon nor is it unusual to be sipping it in the evening.

I have been thinking about my weekly spread a lot this past week. Today is my late mother’s birthday. We like to celebrate birthdays all week long in this family. So this week is in memory of her. I picked a lot of my Happy Planner stickers in red and yellow because she loved red and she loved our Kansas City Chiefs. We did just come away from NFL Draft weekend so my mind is full of red and yellow images. We started off yesterday grilling burgers and hot dogs. She loved simple meals. Tonight we are having ice cream with all kinds of sundae toppings. Dinner is optional. I intend to share stories with my children who never met their grandmother. I love to hear them laugh. My mother was passionate and funny. Even when she was angry she was funny. Honestly, she would be so comical when she got angry at me that I ended up in more trouble for laughing. I think it was my nerves bubbling up. I also loved how she got me in trouble at church and other public places for being a Nosy Nelly. I was the one that got the elbow from Grandma. I miss that kind of getting in trouble with her.

I haven’t put all the pen on this weekly spread yet. I am staying functional in planning as I go. I try to save space like I do every week to note daily what I plan to focus on. And as usual, I have my daily pages ready for notes and priorities.

This week will be fun and full of stories. Nothing makes me happier than time with my children and hearing them laugh. Birthday weeks are some of my favorite weeks. I may journal a bit in my EC notebook and title it, Tales of Grandma Rosemary. We are so busy I may run out of storytelling time.

How do you celebrate birthdays? Do you go big or keep it small? One day? A week? A month?

Family · Goals · Planning · Reflection

Managing Mondays-Mom Priorities

It is coffee time! Quiet time is so very precious to me. And this time at the beginning of every week as I sip coffee feels paramount to how the week can go. I take time to think on all that I need to do plus what I would like to do. It is my way of getting out of the bed on the right side.

The past few weeks have been a struggle in changing priorities and I have had to shift even more to remembering what matters most. This focus adds a perspective like no other. I want to ensure I balance Mom priorities over work priorities because the family needs that right now. It isn’t just about my schedule. It is more about being “present” in mind and heart more.

I spent most of my time sipping my first cup in a retrospective state and looked back on what did and did not go well over the past couple of weeks. I asked myself what I could do differently because I felt like I was being too hard on myself and others around me. I realized that my expectations were perhaps set too high or not communicated effectively which can cause conflict on the home front.

Setting my plan for this week I designed a motivational and functional week spread in my planner. I wanted to see reminders of what is really important at work so that I can keep the negative noise and nonsense from others in perspective. And in doing that I can avoid the negativity from seeping over into other aspects of life. Most importantly self care needs to be at the front of the train and not in the caboose as a back burner.

My spread is full of motivation and focus areas. It gives me permission to delegate nonsense to the back burner. I am reminding myself to be the servant leader by focusing on my team’s needs and being a positive in the storm. Recently I have had an opportunity to observe leaders who are in the trenches with their teams and leaders who stay back in the tent barking out orders and then hiding in the shelter waiting and watching. The latter leader style sometimes seeps negativity out beyond the team and affects the bigger goal. And it is simply not my style. So while I am in the trenches I want to remember to be positive and guide my crew to the best outcomes with encouragement, gratitude, and course corrections that take us along the journey to the finish line celebrating together.

This week I want to make sure that I am focusing on the behind the scenes planning that sets the stage for every act in the play my team is cast in so they can be stars. I want to ensure the setting is right, the props are in place, and that they know their lines.

At home, I want to keep the work from seeping in. I want to protect our time so that it is of such quality that we all feel accomplished and grateful.

These may seem lofty goals for the week but I don’t think so.

In any moment of negativity I plan to step outside of it and ask myself:

  • Am I the engineer on this train right now?
  • Is this helping any of my three focus areas?
  • Should this be back burner?
  • Will this seep beyond work?

Knowing the answers to these questions should guide me to the right energy level in the moment and maintain perspective.

At the end of the week I aim to have positive energy to tackle that garage with my family: A project that we never seem to get to with our conflicting schedules and energy levels.

Share your spreads for the week and share the why. I always want to understand others why.

Family · Goals · lists · Planning

Managing Mondays-Plan with Flexibility and Lists

Oh how I love my coffee and my morning time! I haven’t yet cracked open the work laptop even though I probably should. It is going to be a big week full of planning meetings, important dates and appointments.

I thought I would share my weekly spread and some of the other lists I have at the or have plans to make.

I love my spread this week. I picked this sticker set because my best friend is celebrating her birthday and she loves teal colors. Even my Erin Condren pen is primarily teal for the week. Most of the stickers are from one of my favorite Etsy vendors, Joyful Planner. She designs beautiful weekly and monthly sets. It is always a treat for me to visit her shop and splurge a bit.

I really expect today as well as most of the week to feel a bit crazy so I am inserting few extras to help me keep my sanity and make lists as I go along. I am going to try a weekly master as a half page and use the daily as originally intended. I am interested to see how much I can actually get done in a day with the sometimes ridiculous conference call schedule.

As you can see, I haven’t put much pen on yet. I need flexibility in my functional plans because I feel the winds may change a bit as early as today so I focused on only writing the non negotiable events and my goals. I gotta trust my gut today and let my plans and lists take shape in the moment.

I hope you all have a great week and that you are managing just fine this Monday. I am going to keep on sipping coffee, making lists and planning the week day by day.

Share below how you plan. What kind of lists do you make? Do you track your hourly appountments?

Family

Weekly Meal Planning

As I sip coffee I am thinking about my meal plan for the week and I am disappointed in myself. I just don’t know what sounds good this week. And when I ask the family they aren’t offering up many suggestions.

Usually today is a batch cook day where I spend my afternoon making a prepare and cook meals for the whole week. Not today. I am having friends and family over to barbecue. Sometimes I throw planning days to the wind and this is one of those days. I am sitting and looking at the blank half page for my planner with a blank look.

I think it is because the last couple of weeks someone else did the planning for me: Home Chef.

Yes! I tried one of the many meal kit delivery subscriptions and let me tell you, I loved it! So did the family. And as I think about a couple of the menu items I realize I have ingredients in the house to recreate the Chicken Paillard, the favorite of all the dishes we tried.

Before continuing on with my writing here, I stepped away so I could go online and plan for a delivery next week. I liked having my box delivered on Friday and having three meals planned already including all of the ingredients.

Unboxing is much easier than going to the store and putting everything away. The ingredients are packaged together by meal and slide easily into the refrigerator.

The recipe guide is online as well as printed on a cardstock page. Your first order includes a 3-ring binder to store your recipes. The planner in me loved that.

Above are images of my handiwork and the Chicken Paillard in the skillet is what I have decided to make again this week. It was incredibly easy and delicious. The picky eaters really loved it and I was surprised at how easy and quick it was to cook.

Did I think it was expensive? When I look at my grocery bill and what I usually spend and waste it was very economical. With three meals delivered over two weeks our waste was minimal. Hindsight is usually 20/20, right? I think I may cook too much on Sundays anticipating we will eat more leftovers than we do. It is more challenging to plan with adult children and teens who have busy schedules and finicky appetites. I guess I still have a lot to learn as I head toward emptynester land. Less is likely more and starting now is a good a time as any.

From a budget perspective I realize I didn’t spend any more than when I plan and do all the shopping and prep myself. I saved oodles of time though and I actually got us out of a rut of the same old same old. I also had a personal bonus from all of this: I have more clothes that are too big and a full box of them ready for donation because I consistently ate fresh ingredients and balanced my proteins and carbs splendidly. That made it all worth it.

While writing this I finalized the meal plan for the week.

I also decided to try a different meal kit delivery, Sun Basket. It will arrive in a little over a week and help make next week planning easier. I look forward to comparing the two systems. I also noticed our local grocery store is getting skin into the game with meal kits. I may have to give them a spin too. I would love to stay local. Honestly, I am not sure anything can top Home Chef. I read reviews on ALL of them for weeks and settled with trying Home Chef first for many reasons:

  • Affordability
  • Consistently positive reviews and ratings
  • Easy meals
  • Simple ingredients
  • Gluten free and Paleo meal options
  • Meals that I thought my family would try

It will probably take something seriously outstanding to win me away from this one because out of 6 meals there was only one that didn’t wow me and the family subseqiently going to waste. That meal was a risk from the start because I knew that the finicky eaters wouldn’t dive into it. I was right and it left me with a meal that just didn’t please me as a leftover. Some dishes just don’t taste as great the second time around.

But that winner, Chicken Paillard, as you can see, is on the menu for the week and that is keeping me out of the meal planning rut. Something new to look forward to for all of us. When I made these meals I felt like a world class while I took time plating and setting the table enjoying special time with the family. We talked and laughed and enjoyed each other and the accompanying glass of wine (for the adults).

Have you tried any of these subscription services? Which ones? Please share I would like to avoid pitfalls and steer toward winners for my household too.

If you want to try Home Chef, here is my personal referral link that gives me $30 off a future week of meals. And let me know what meals you tried.