Thursday, September 29, 2016

Basic Invite Review

I was invited to try out Basic Invite for the Thank You cards I needed to purchase for Christopher's Baptism.

I usually always go to TinyPrints, Shutterfly, or more recently, Personalized Creations. I hadn't heard of Basic Invite before, but was excited to try it out and see some newer layouts than I'm used to.

Right away I noticed some pretty unique things about this site that many of the other sites don't offer:

Almost Unlimited Colors - Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. Once you select a design you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 different color options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail. This is what we feel sets them apart from almost any other online stationery company.

Custom Samples - Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so they can see exactly how it will print as well as the paper quality before they ever have to place an order for 500 invitations.

Over 40 Different Colors of Envelopes - Basic Invite is just as colorful with our envelopes as we are with our invitations. Customers can choose from over 40 different colors when it comes to their envelopes so that they can make their invitation stand out even before it is opened. All of our envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be quickly and securely closed without licking a single one.

I chose the Opaque Photo Flair Design.  I had a little bit of trouble at first trying to figure out how to add in photos to customize, but once I got the hang of the site, it was easy from there. I could totally customize everything, from the background color, to the font - which is often what frustrates me at Shutterfly and TinyPrints.  I didn't change a whole lot about this design because I pretty much liked it the way it was! All I had to do was pop in 3 personalized pictures and I was done!

My order came quickly. Everything looked really great, and was in excellent condition! 

I definitely plan on checking out Basic Invite come this holiday season when it's time to look at holiday cards! I peeked around and they have some really great, and unique layouts for all their cards, especially the Holiday Cards!!

Have you ever heard of or tried Basic Invite? What is your "go to" card/invitation/stationery site?

*Disclaimer: I received thank you cards from BasicInvite for free in exchange for this review. However all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Christopher Joseph: 5 Months

Name: Christopher Joseph

Weight: 16 lbs. 1 oz.

Height: 26 1/2 inches

Health: Excellent Health! Hasn't been sick yet (knocking on wood as we speak) even with big sister having a fever all last week! 

Sleep: He sleeps so well! Asleep for the night usually between 6:45 and 7:15 every night. Gets up once (on occasion twice) through the night for no more than half an hour. Gets up around 7:00/7:30 the next day.

Social: Smiles at EVERYONE! He loves when people are talking to him, making faces with him, and generally interacting with him.

Diet: Exclusively Breast Fed - I will start on some solids in the next week or two. By now, I had started food with Natalie, but I just wasn't ready to with Christopher just yet. I will probably start with some banana or oatmeal in the next two weeks. 

Likes: Being HELD!!! Likes being in his jumper! Loves interacting with people - he is SO Social!

Dislikes: Being alone. Being put down. Loud noises. Natalie blew into a loud noisemaker last night and Christopher lost his shit. He was so scared and sad!

Milestones: Rolling over:


Chris asked me if I loved Christopher more than Natalie the other day. He was kidding, of course. We laughed. Obviously we both know we love them both equally. But Chris said he asked because I seemed to be different with Christopher. And he didn't know if it was a "boy" thing, or a "second child" thing. I assured him, it's a "second child" thing, and I do know what he's talking about. I'm much calmer, and more patient with Christopher than I was with Natalie. Not that I was impatient with anything Natalie did at 5 months, but I'm just calmer and more confident this time around, and I think it shows in my interaction with him. I also know even more than before how fleeting this baby phase is, and I am trying to embrace it as much as possible.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Munchery Review

Last week I tried - a food delivery service. This is a ready-made meal service that is delivered right to your door. I had a coupon code for a free meal, so I got dinner for something like $3.00 tax/delivery charge.

My initial feelings of this business were positive. It was very easy to order a meal, there were a lot of options for meals, sides, and dessert! I placed an order the night before for dinner the next day. I received a text from the driver 10 minutes before he came, and then again when he was outside at 6:45 (my delivery window was between 5 and 7pm).

But then there was the meal. I really, really wanted to like it. I ordered grilled salmon with aioli, broccolini and white rice. First of all, I'm convinced that "aioli" is just a fancy way of saying "mayonnaise" because that's what it was. The meal as a whole was very disappointing. I took one bite and realized the salmon was very, very raw. I didn't realize I ordered sushi. So I put it in the microwave to finish cooking it. But then the rest of the meal was just so bland. Blah, Bland, Boring. I had to add a little bit of salt and pepper just to add some flavor to it.

I loved the concept of this, but I will not be ordering from them again. Can't say I didn't try!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Disney Anxiety and "Natalie Says"

Whelp, Natlaie made it one week in school before getting sick and she now has missed 3 days of school this week! She's finally back in school today but of the 8 first days of school, she's missed 3!! So much for finally getting into the groove of things - this sickness pretty much had us stuck inside for 3 days straight. It was just a high fever, which was gone by the time she woke up Wednesday morning, but I still kept her home one extra day just to be sure.

Natalie is like a super sponge these days. All of a sudden she's super into Disney Princesses and music. She requests music in the car (her favorites lately have been "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from Mary Poppins, "Part of your World" from Little Mermaid, "For the First time in Forever" from Frozen, and "When Will my Life Begin" from Tangled.) My mother-in-law bought her these little Disney princess figurines and she is OBSESSED and wants to learn as much as she can about each one of them. So now music and books are typically centered around them. I love it, because I want her to learn about all of these characters, songs, and movies just as much as she does. I get so excited when she learns another Disney thing, because it just makes me that much more excited for the time we take her to Disney and she recognizes all these characters, but am I the only one who feels super, super overwhelmed introducing their kid to the wonders of Disney? Like - if I want her to know all the classics, PLUS all the current Disney and not to mention Disney/Pixar movies: I would literally have to devote hours upon hours a day/months/years for her to watch these movies. I know she doesn't have to memorize every Disney Movie by the time she's 3, but there's something to be said for the fact that most of these classics came out when I was a kid and as they came out, our parents took us to the movies and then we learned them from there. I didn't have all 52,000 classic disney movies sitting at my my fingertips from the time I was born.

There are 19 Disney/Pixar films beginning in 1995 with Toy Story listed on their Wikipedia page:

Wanna know how many Disney classic animated films are listed on Wikipedia??
90 Disney Classic movies. I mean, a small handful I've never heard of but still!! Even if 20 of these are minor, insignificant movies, that's still 70!

So I guess my question is: Where do I even begin??

Well - I begin with my favorites, because, why not? So The Little Mermaid has been a popular one right now, and I love that she loves and watches it :) But now she's obsessed with that movie and only ever wants to watch it. I put it on for her, but inside I'm thinking "No! I have 119 other movies for you to learn, there's not enough time!! There's no time, there's never any time!!!" (anyone? eh? eh?)

Anyway, on to what this post was really supposed to be about. The funny things that Natalie says or has said as of late. She cracks us up all the time, and sometimes I forget to write them all down, but here's what I was able to document:

  • Out to dinner on Saturday - I don't even remember what she was responding to but she clearly was reciting something she's heard me say before:
    "Are you KIDDING me?!"

  • Leaving my in-laws house after dinner: "Bye water, Bye pool, Bye plant, Bye tree, Bye grass, Bye flowers,

  • Natalie has been watching a lot of Dora these days, so now she has taken to saying "Gracias" instead of Thank You and it's really cute!

  • This one is really weird. When Natalie goes to the bathroom, she often likes to cover her eyes and rest her head on my shoulder while I hug her. (I know...) But she usually says "Ima see better in the dark," before covering her eyes and hiding on my shoulder.

  • "Thank you EVER so much!"- sept 2016 after getting a snack at a party

  • Another weird one, and I don't even get it. But every night before I leave her room she goes "Mommy! We can pull some different hairs". I'm guessing it has something to do with her pulling my hair all the time and I have to yell at her - so maybe her suggestion is to pull different hairs? Not sure...

  • "Bye bye home! See you later!" 9/4/16 as we pull out of the driveway

  • "Ok mommy, if you say so!" - all the time

  • Me: "Natalie, do you want fish sticks for dinner?
    Natalie: "Absolutely. Not." She's repeating me. Whenever I yell at her for doing something bad I always say "Absolutely not!" August 22, 2016

  • Holding up a dried hydrangea: August 19, 2016
    Me: What is that Natalie?
    "It's a lollipop Nature!!”

  • “Of course!” - she says this all the time

  • With my dad after she asked him to watch Super Why and he said "Not now"
    Natalie: "Let's spell the word 'Super Why'" (they spell it) "Let's spell the word 'television'" (they spell it) "Let's spell the word 'watch'" (they spell it) - subliminal messaging much??

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Meeting Jackson

Over the weekend we got to meet my new little nephew Jackson!! Jackson weighs in at a whopping 4 lbs. 7 oz. and is the tiniest thing I've ever seen! Seriously, seeing him next to Christopher is the funniest thing EVER and made me realize just how HUGE my "little" 4 month old is! I felt like I was holding air when holding Jackson and I can't even believe that this is big compared to when he was born!!

He's adorable and doing really well, I can't wait to see what he looks like in just a few months as he gets bigger and stronger!!

I think my mom had her best birthday yet on Friday - with all 3 of her grandchildren and her 91 year old dad by her side! It was a different kind of chaos with all those kids (well plus my sister's 3 dogs and 2 cats I suppose....), but I guess this is our new normal now!

Welcome to the family Jackson!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 1 of Nursery School Recap

We successfully made it through Natalie's first week of school last week!! It was a whole new normal around here and I'm still trying to figure out how to best maximize the 2 hours I get while she is at school. Here are some observations after one week.

1. I hate not knowing what she's doing while she's at school. Her teacher updates her website to tell us what they learned that day - but I want to see who Natalie sits next to, how she is with the other kids, what songs they are singing, etc. etc.

I love that when she's home she'll just start singing a song that I've never heard before, or reciting a prayer that I know I've definitey never done with her. She was retaining new things already after one week and it's so cute. I gave her an apple in the car on Friday and she sang this whole "apple song" before she took a bite out of it - Chris and I were both like "What is she singing?? Must be something from school."

2. I already got an email from her teacher that she doesn't sit on her chair or the floor and keeps running around. Also, she was climbing on furniture in the classroom. "We need to all work together" to teach her to sit "criss-cross applesauce" on the floor, and on her butt in a chair.

I'll take full responsibility for not being strict enough about her sitting on her chair. She's always standing and climbing on our chairs and through the months/years, I just let it go. But it honestly never really crossed my mind to "teach her" to sit down criss-cross on the floor. If we play on the floor we're either laying on our stomachs, or have our feet out.

I don't like the idea that Natalie may be the one kid who's causing disruptions in the classroom or possibly giving her teachers gray hairs. I know she has already been on time-out in the classroom (but luckily, I know she wasn't the only student to be on time-out) I know the teachers are totally used to dealing with every kind of kid out there. I talked to two moms this week at pick-up and both of their kids turn FOUR this November! They held their kids back last year because they weren't ready or potty-trained for school. The difference between age 3 and 4 is HUGE, but as the teacher pointed out to me: she's taught kids Natalie's age before and they knew how to sit down, so it's not an age thing.

I am hoping hoping hoping that in one month's time, this will all be a distant memory and Natalie will finally learn how she needs to behave in school. She already stopped climbing on the furniture within 2 days, so she definitely understands. Chris and I are upping our a-game at home to work with her on these things now. When we ask her what she does at school she always says "I listen to my teachers, and I eat snack." Well, that and "I peed on the floor". She said that twice last week so I finally emailed the teacher to see if this was true (It wasn't).

3. Natalie LOVES school. It's all we can do to keep her from literally running to the school in the morning and bolting for the door when we get there for drop-off. She gives a quick "Bye Mommy, I'll see you later!" and she's off - doesn't even look back once. Of course, I both love and hate this at the same time.

4. 2 1/2 hours is NOT ENOUGH TIME for me. At all. It's really 2 hours by the time I get home from drop off and have to leave again for pick-up. Plus, I get to pick-up early so I can talk to the other moms and start getting to know other people, so I've been getting just under 2 hours at home with the baby. Add in a nursing session and I might as well just make the bed and call it a morning. Sigh, I had such high hopes for these mornings but I'll figure it out.

5. I've met two moms already that we meet outside the door each day and talk for a bit before the kids come out. They seem really nice and Natalie is already invited to the one little girl's birthday party this November. It's nice to start meeting some other people in my community with kids the same age. So far, we are very happy at this school.... and hoping they are happy with us too, as long as Natalie can learn to sit that is :)

6. Everyone told me that when Natalie started school I'd notice that she'd be tired and more hungry. And yes that is true!! She actually asked for lunch last week and downed it every day! Usually, she is not very hungry for lunch. She also took great naps each day - this is great!!

Here's a little montage of her first two days of school: Orientation day and first day!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Natalie starts school

Whenever I ask Natalie why she's crying her response is always "I'm crying cause I'm cryyyying"

Open and honest - straightforward, and to the point. Yes, of course. You're crying cause you're crying.

Well that's what I have to say about today:

I'm crying, cause I'm crying.

My little baby officially started school :)

(To be completely honest I find the expression "I'm crying" over these milestones as just a form of expression. I actually didn't cry and while I sometimes get emotional, I really don't actually cry at milestones like this. I'm mostly just excited for her"

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Marleyspoon, Home Chef, and Green Chef Reviews

My little experiment to try all the home meal preparation services has been coming along tremendously!! I am learning SO MUCH, making things I never would have thought of to make, and trying out new foods that I am loving, and eating perfectly portioned meals at dinner!! This has been so much fun, and I look forward to my new meal shipment every week!

I've been bad about taking pictures because sometimes I'm so excited to sit down and eat the meal (or really rushed because it's already late) that I forget to take a picture, so I only have pictures for some of the meals.


So here's the deal with Marleyspoon - I got SIX MEALS for $30! Completely by accident! A few things: Though their customer support did end up ultimately handling everything fine with my cancellation, it was a bit of a hassle. The mobile site wouldn't allow me to cancel, and then I ended up cancelling too late over email, and then I got an email saying my next shipment was being sent to me but I thought I cancelled it. So it took me about 2 phone calls to get someone to help me. They said their customer service email wasn't working and they hadn't received any of my many emails asking for help. Also - when I was on the phone to get a refund back on my second payment, it sounded like a rousing game of beer pong was going on in the background. It could have been an office send-off party, or a particularly amusing staff meeting, and frankly, it sounded like a fun place to work; Buuuut maybe not the best background noise for your customer support phone service line. While cool, it was a little bit unprofessional IMHO.

But the food was great - remember I had 6 meals here and I didn't take pictures of all of them: 

Grilled Romaine & Steak Salad with Lemon-Grana Padano Dressing - Loved the grilled romaine, and did this again a few days later.  This was a very easy meal.

Miso Cod & Bamboo Rice with Sesame Spinach - The cod was a little bit tricky to cook here and was a little tough. Not sure if I overcooked it or what. Enjoyable, don't necessarily feel the need to make again

Honey-Mustard Chicken with Potato, Celery and Apple Salad - This was great, Chris enjoyed it too. A nice light, summery Friday night dinner

Chicken Puttanesca with Zucchini and Orzo - This is a dish I never would have normally made because it calls for olives and I HATE/am allergic to olives. So I just omitted them and it was AMAZING!!! I ate this for dinner and then lunch the next day, and it made a LOT. I def. would want to make this again. YUM!

Pork and Pepper Skewers with Corn Rice Pilaf - Another great recipe, enjoyed by both of us. 

Poblano Tacos with charred corn salad - Didn't make this!! I ended up freezing this meal because I didn't have time to make it, so no opinions on it yet!

Home Chef

Chicken with Tiger Sauce with sugar snap peas and rice - BEST MEAL YET!! Winner Winner chicken dinner!!! The chicken with tiger sauce was our favorite meal so far. Chris LOVED it, I wanted a whole other plate of it, it was so good! If I want to recreate it, I'd have to buy, like, 4 different sauces from an Asian market, but I do hope to recreate this one day! That's what I'm talking about - this used ingredient I have never heard of it my life, and certainly would never even think to buy, but now I want to have my own stash of them on hand!
Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps with water chestnuts and sesame dipping sauce: Delicious. The whole lettuce wrap thing wasn't Chris's cup of tea so he wrapped his in a tortilla shell but this was highly enjoyable and very "diet friendly"!

Seared Flat Iron Steak and Roasted Sweet Potatoes with toasted walnuts, blue cheese, arugula and balsamic glaze. - You had me at toasted walnuts, blue cheese, arugula and balsamic glaze. The meal was good but the salad was the best part :)

Green Chef

Tuna Burger with Parmesan roasted Green beans and salad:

Pesto Orzo Steak with Spinach Walnut pesto, fennel, squash and blue cheese: It was DELISH!! I made this when my parents were here and we split it three ways. It was really good and we all wanted more, lol. I think the portion would have been perfect for two people, but it was still a good amount of food. I would def. make this again.

Apricot-Glazed Chicken with smoky applewood potatoes and arugula corn salad: The potatoes were really delicious, the chicken was kind of like a sweet honey-mustard sauce. It didn't taste too apricoty at all. This is an example of something I would have seen a recipe for and would have said "Chris would never like this"...but he did like it and it was good! Another win! They sent a TON of salad dressing with this so I've been using it all week on my salads and really loving it (that's the corn salad dressing) The only problem is, I'm not sure if I can recreate the dressing since it was already prepared and I don't know the ingredients (to be fair, I didn't check on the website to see if I could find a recipe for it, so that might be available to me).

So far I've tried: Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Home Chef, Green Chef, Marleyspoon.
I have to try out Plated, Real Home Chef, and Sunbasket - and then I plan to go through all of these trials again but using my mother-in-laws address!! LOVING this so much! Are there any other companies out there like this that I'm missing??

Are you interested in trying out Green Chef?? I Have two coupon codes for your first box (that's 3 meals) completely free!! Leave me a comment or email me at and I'll send you the code - first come, first served!