Friday, January 27, 2017

My Experience With Green Chef Dinners From Start to Finish!

I recently got the chance to sample Green Chef dinners! Basically, Green Chef is subscription box for your tummy. You get to choose a plan that fits your families needs and then the ingredients for amazing, organic, healthy, sustainable, GMO free meals is shipped to your door. Here is my experience from start to finish-

I was so excited to receive my Green Chef box in the mail. I knew right away I needed to get the ingredients into the fridge, so I opened it immediately. Everything was packed with great care. The outside layer in like a little insulating blankey to keep the food nice and cool. Inside there were layers of ice packs and packaged food. At the very bottom, sitting directly on another layer of ice packs was the meat.

I was little concerned about how everything would ship and the freshness of the ingredients upon arrival. There was nothing to worry about, as all the ingredients looked great and felt cold.

Our family chose the carnivore plan for four people. Our box had enough for two meals that would feed our whole family. Each meal's ingredients are color coded and packaged. Some ingredients were pre-prepped while others required a little chopping. Each meal included a very detailed recipe card. There were step-by-step instructions and pictures that even the novice cook could decipher

The first meal that I made was sweet and sour pork over quinoa with a broccoli and edamame salad. There was a little chopping involved, but nothing too laborious. For example, I was sent three half sections of bell peppers, the seeds were already scraped and they just required me to cut them into bite sized pieces. I also cut the meat into smaller pieces and the broccoli. Nothing hard, but you do need a knife and a cutting board. 

The recipe estimated that the meal would take 35m to prepare. It took me about 40- but that was entirely my own fault as I had several interruptions. Seriously, sometimes I don't know how I get food cooked at all. The baby always needs changed and there is a fight to break up and then I get a phone call. I'm sure for most people this would take about 35 minutes.

My kids both had glowing review of this meal. I mean, it has pineapple and sweet and sour sauce in it, a family crowd pleaser for sure. I thought it tasted really great and I like that it was served over quinoa. I loved the broccoli salad that was on the side, but it received a mixed review from my husband (who is notoriously picky.)

Initially, I was sure that this would not be enough food to feed our whole family. When I looked at the ingredients it just didn't seem like much. But there was actually more than enough. Each person was able to have a large serving and there were even leftovers, which I enjoyed  for lunch the next day. 

The next meal was chicken cassoulet with a baby kale salad. This was chicken thighs served on white beans, carrots, celery, cremini mushrooms and onion in a tomato sauce and topped with breadcrumbs. The side salad has baby kale and radishes with a vinaigrette.  

More of the ingredients were prepped here, the carrots, celery and onion were all pre-chopped. I only chopped the mushrooms and herbs. I'm guessing because the overall time of this recipe was a little longer, 45 minutes, they wanted to keep prep time down. This recipe was actually simpler, the additional time was because it need to cook in the oven for a while. So, a good portion of the allotted time was hands off. I washed the dishes and fed the baby while this tasty dish cooked up.

How did it taste? Wonderful! This is a meal I plan on making again. Very family friendly. This dish was super flavorful and the salad paired really nicely with it. The kids and husband all approved. Again, there were leftovers, which I just ate for lunch today!

Before trying these dinners I really didn't think this service would be for me. I mean, I like to cook and honestly it just seems expensive and unnecessary. However, these meals really got me thinking. How often do I get super busy and can't plan dinner, resulting in me throwing up my hands and deciding we are going out. For my husband and I to eat and the kids to get some dinky meal, it's going to cost us. For the family plan carnivore box each meal costs $12.99. Sure, it's more than if I bought the ingredients at the grocery store, but much cheaper than eating out. There is no minimum commitment so you can always skip boxes or cancel if you know it won't be necessary that week.

Both meals were really pretty simple to prepare and cook. You do not need to be an Iron Chef to make these. If you can follow directions, use a knife and turn on your stove you can do this! I think my husband could have even figured these out. And how fun would this be as a creative date night?

This would have been such an awesome things to have after my last baby. Family and friends bring us meals for a week or so after baby comes, but after that we are on out own. This would have saved me the from some grocery shopping and meal planning. I could have fed my family great meals without all the stress. There are just times when life gets nuts, after a baby, during a hard pregnancy, long work hours, or just general life. You want to eat good, healthy food but simply don't have the time to do all the work, that is when this box would be a lifesaver. It saves prep, dirty dishes and a shopping trip.

Even though I find cooking enjoyable I sometimes just totally run out of inspiration. We get in a rut and eat the same thing over and over. These recipes are so inspiring and there is a ton of variety. If you fall in love with a meal you can find the full recipe online and make it again.

If you think your dietary restrictions will keep you from enjoying this box, they might have an option for you! There are 2-Person Plans that include Omnivore, Carnivore, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free Plans and Family Plans include family-style Omnivore and Carnivore Plans. Check it all out on their website, they offer a lot more than you might think.

Even if you never considered something like this would be a fit for you, I totally recommend looking into these Green Chef dinners. I was really impressed with everything from the quality of the ingredients to the final meals.

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 I received this product for free from Moms Meet (, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Around Our House Week 7

Last week we started a new history curriculum through Home School in the Woods. We are exploring ancient Egypt! I will have a complete review near the end of February and I can't wait. This has definitely added a little fun and anticipation to these winter days.

I can't believe we are about halfway through the school year. It feels like we just began! So far I feel like we have been meeting goals and making a lot of progress. I need to be more dedicated in getting our nature studies done. It's just so cold and wet here it's hard to get outside.

 Lately we have been journaling and observing some paperwhite bulbs I am growing indoors. We also found some sand-dollars when we were at the beach last week and they are going to be a lesson later this week.

Last weekend we made our annual trek out to Diamond Lake for a little snow fun!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Same Kind of Different As Me-- For Kids! BY Ron Hall and Denver Moore

I remember years ago picking up Same Kind of Different As Me. I was pregnant with my fist, nearing the end and highly emotional. Insane hormones + extremely moving book = emotional perfect storm. Seriously, I'm not sure if a book has made me cry like that to this day. When I saw that there was kids book coming out based on the adult version, I had to get a hold of it! Sort of neat that I read this while pregnant, all those years ago, and now I can read the kids version to my 6 year-old!

childrens books
Same Kind of Different As Me For Kids begins with Denver as a child. The book explains how he lived during the Great Depression. His family was very poor and worked on a plantation. He had to work and couldn't go to school and didn't have anyone to teach him. He desired to travel, learn and get out of his situation. However, when he leaves for the city he is homeless and can't get a job because he has no education. He lives as a homeless man for a lot of years and becomes very angry. He eventually meets Debbie at a homeless shelter and she tells him that God loves him and so does she. She and Ron help him and amazing things begin to happen!

I thought that the book did a great job of retelling the story in a way that children could connect to. This is a hard story, about homelessness and poverty and the way that people with less are treated. Talking about Denver's childhood, his bike, his dreams, it shows kids that people who end up on the street are people. They were children, like them, who might have had a really hard life and even when they try to rise above their situation, like Denver, they find they can't without some help.
That is the real heart of the book, sharing God's love and kindness. It opens up a lot of great conversation with children about homelessness and the power of one person who is willing to help.

This is a longer picture book and I would say it's probably best suited for children who can sit for longer periods, probably 4+. The illustrations are lovely and were actually done by the author. This is a kids book that touches the heart of the child and parent alike.

"Nobody can help everybody but everybody can help somebody." 
Denver Moore

I received this book in exchange for my honest review from BookLook Bloggers.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Around Our House Week #6

This Friday we hit a milestone. We are officially finished with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons! It feels like we have been in this book forever. But we did it! And it actually worked. It feels slightly miraculous.

Between insane rain we had a few small bursts of sunshine. It is amazing how much smoother school goes after a long bike ride. 

 This weekend we found some extra time to spend as a family. We had fun exploring this beach. We had to boat across a river to get over here, making it even more of an adventure. There were tons of sand dollars washed up, perfect for a little nature study later this week. I love the beach in winter. We occasionally get these nice, less windy days.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 Yearly Membership Review

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This year I am trying something new! I am so pleased that I have been chosen to participate in the Homeschool Review Crew. This should be a fun and growing experience for me. We are going to start the year off with a resource that is new to me.

Our family is getting the chance to review the Yearly Membership available for I generally shy away from online resources, as they often seem like more trouble than they are worth. There aren't enough options or the course feels incomplete. After printing 100+ pages and burning through countless ink cartridges I end up disappointed. I am very happy to report that SchoolhouseTeachers is not your typical online resource.

SchoolhouseTeachers is an entire site devoted to curriculum for all ages. Courses are available for preschool aged children all the way to high-school and there are even a few courses for parents! I really liked that are courses aimed at the whole family as well. There are actually over 300 courses total. With so many options, I think just about any family could find a course that fits. Even if I wanted to, there is no way I could fit that many textbooks and print resources into my house (although, even the thought is tempting). Having access to them virtually means they are at my fingertips, but not taking up precious shelf space.

The range of subjects is huge-
I find it appealing that the courses range in length and difficulty. Some run for weeks and others only a few lessons. One course might require a great deal of effort and commitment to finish while others are simpler. They are all ready to be started when it's convenient for you. All the things that make homeschooling great, the ability to go at your own pace, to customize to your kids needs, to stop and start when it feels right-- translates to these courses. Without, of course, the hefty fee of textbooks.

I did notice that some courses use books that would have to be acquired. The ones I saw were available at my library or relatively cheap. Which I think is important. It's frustrating when you have already dropped money on something like this, only to learn that to actually use it you now need to spend $200 on more books.

The website is huge and bursting with resources. However, it feels easy to navigate and find just what our family needed. With a few clicks you are ready to start learning. If the process feels intimidating, SchoolhouseTeachers breaks down how to use their site in the New Members Hub. Beyond that they have great customer service and really want you to get the most out of your membership. There are tons of planning resources to help document and keep track of what your student is doing. There were even special sections to get help with high school students or special needs.

Image result for rightnow media banner

The other membership benefit that I wanted to feature was the access to Rightnow Media. This is a pretty awesome perk. Rightnow media is basically a streaming service like Netflix that offers tons of Christian videos. Members of SchoolhouseTeachers get a free membership to Rightnow. I have heard so many great things about their videos and I am so excited to explore this with my family. We love the Torchlighters series and now will be able to watch them all and go through the accompanying course.

So, how have we been using this resource in our home?

Online Classes

I really love classical music and have desired to implement some sort of education on different composers.  I browsed around in the music section and found this course on Great Musicians. There are twelve lessons, each focusing on a great musician such a Beethoven, Chopin or Bach. Each lesson is essentially a short biography. Learning about the childhood of Beethoven humanized him and made him much more interesting to my six-year-old son. Beethoven too, was once a child who didn't really enjoy practicing, who loved his mother and lived in a cozy looking home.

I just pulled the lessons up on my computer and read from there. Of course they can be printed as well. There is a review question sheet that can be used for older kids too. After we read through the lesson I got on Spotify and we listen to a few of each musicians greatest works.

I sometimes feel like this little lady gets a bit neglected as I invest a lot of time into her brother. She loves doing school though. SchoolhouseTeachers has a large section called the Preschool Playground that has resources for toddler to preschool aged kids.

Since she recently started going through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, I thought some handwriting practice might be in order. I printed out the Beginning Handwriting course for her. We practiced writing the letters with our finger and then a little bit with pencil. She loved the little rhymes that went with each letter.


For me this website seems like a great way to add in some extra learning. There is so much variety than I thought there would be. SchoolhouseTeachers is not just math and reading- there is film making and architecture and so much more. For me, this is really where this site will really get used. We have our bases covered with the basics, using curriculum that works for us. SchoolhouseTeachers opens up the chance to study photography or home economics
. With the holidays over and no end to winter in sight, it's nice to shake things up a bit.

If you're looking to expand your homeschooling resources, give SchoolhouseTeachers a try! If you're on the fence, take advantage of their 30-day trial for $1 and see if it's a fit for your family.

Interested in how SchoolhouseTeachers works with other families? Check out more reviews here!

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Around Our House Week 5

The days have been stormy and dark around here.

Everybody in our county got snow. There was even snow on the beach! Somehow our little valley missed out on the fun. We did get some ice, but no snow :(

We were feeling a bit restless from being stuck inside for so long. We managed to chase a break in the weather and went for a hike. This was a beautiful little trail right near the ocean. It felt like something from a storybook, all closed in and magical.

When the rain began we headed for ice cream!

 I can't believe we are starting a new year. This year brought us our tiniest girl, certainly the highlight of the year for us.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

Adult Fiction  After reading a lot of non-fiction lately, it was a nice change of pace to pick up this fantasy by Patrick W. Carr. The Shattered Vigil is the second book in this series. I reviewed the first book, The Shock of Night about a year ago.

I really enjoyed the first book and was excited to read what would happen the Willet and the Vigil.
Even though they had pulled through, there were so many mysteries and loose ends.

This book starts in the wake of the daring and nearly disastrous save on Bas-solas. They are trying to put right all of the wrong and hoping that the situation is contained. It quickly becomes obvious that there is a lot more to the indecent and the evil that lurks in the darkwater is expanding and active.

Willet gets involved in solving the mysterious death of a nobleman's daughter. His investigation leads him close to home and the vigil. The vigil is in danger from unseen assassins and the church itself. As they set off in different directions, they attempt to figure out what they are facing and just stay alive.

The beginning of the book felt painfully slow to me. I couldn't set the first book down, but this one lived on my nightstand for a while. I would pick it up and then lose interest and put it down. I didn't want to give up on the series altogether so I pushed through. By the time I had made it near half-way, I was genuinely intrigued and interested again.

The book finally gets going and the characters hit their stride. The addition of the urchins as apprentices added some fresh voices to the mix. I felt like their characters were among the most intriguing.  This book also features more of Gail, Willet's love interest. Her character felt very flat to me in the first book and I had hoped she would be left behind here. She is eventually added into the story line instead of just feeling like a loose-end though.

Overall this book just didn't feel as strong to me as Carr's previous works. It expands the story but it felt like it lost a lot of the first books momentum. Fans of the first book will appreciate learning more of the story, but be prepared for a slow beginning.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review from Bethany House.