The Daily Grind

It's 11:20 am here in Oklahoma, and I'm listening to a podcast at my desk and updating my calendar with all the coffees, lunches, and calls I have coming up. The check I just wrote for our rent is sitting on the edge of my desk, my blog editorial calendar is open on my lap, and my Day Designer planner is open next to me. I have 10 tabs open, three Word documents, and Slack running in the background. 

The remnants of breakfast are sitting on the counter because last night's dishes are still in the sink. There are puppies barking at the window and a cat rubbing on my ankles. My coffee is getting cold and the candle I light to signal "work time" is sitting next to the lamp, still dark because I forgot to light it. The yoga pants I'm wearing definitely did not make it to yoga today. 

The podcast I'm listening to is called the Daily Grind, and it's hitting super hard today. My routines are still not in place. I need to designate writing time, but emails and phone calls have started to fill my calendar instead. Yesterday I meant to eat breakfast, but by 1:00 pm I still hadn't eaten lunch because I'd burned not one but two lunches. I'd put some leftover pizza in the oven to reheat and forgot it first. Then I tried to reheat this chicken dish and forgot it as well. I finally made myself shut the computer down and made some Hamburger Helper, because I was starving and it was 2 pm. 

The daily grind is real, but I'm so thankful for it. It's going to take some time to figure it out, and I have to give myself the grace to deal with dirty dishes in the sink. I need to decide what is important and make time for it (exercise, writing, paying bills) because it is so easy to let the urgent take over. The tyranny of the urgent is real and must be fought. 

I'm also asking you wonderful people to give me a little grace right now. I may not get a post up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It may be Tuesday and Wednesday, or Wednesday and Friday. But I'll be here! And I promise that every Wednesday between now and October 1 there will be a brand new installment in the When I Grow Up series. So just now you can always count on that for now! 

Until tomorrow, friends. Have a great day!

Previously on Mrs Robbins Sparkles...

Cooking with Blue Apron

Taking a break from the When I Grow Up series this week to tell you about my latest experiment: Blue Apron. I was going to wait to write about this until next week but when I shared some photos last night I had several people express interest in it. So I decided to tell you about it today! 

Cooking with Blue Apron || MrsRobbinsSparkles.com

Blue Apron is a company that I've been hearing about for awhile. They sponsor a few podcasts I listen to, and I've always thought about trying them. When a friend from college posted on Facebook that she had some free vouchers to give out, I jumped on the chance. (Which means this post is in NO WAY sponsored by Blue Apron - they don't know who I am or that I'm writing this. So it's all my opinion and I got no compensation for it.) 

Basically Blue Apron sends you everything (well, almost) you need to prepare three amazing meals a week. You receive a box once a week full of fresh produce and meat, measured to exactly what you need for each recipe. All you have to do is chop it up and prepare it. (But it does take longer than you'd think!)

When I signed up I was given a few options. First, I was able to decide what day the delivery would take place. I chose Tuesday. Next I was able to choose three meals from their menu. Each week they offer 6 options, half of which are vegetarian. For this week I chose Chicken Milanese, Vadouvan-Spiced Lamb Burgers, and Cod & Miso Soba Noodles. And then I had to wait. 

On Monday I got an email letting me know my meals had shipped, and they arrived around 3 pm on Tuesday. The box was left on my front stoop by the FedEx delivery man, and probably would've been fine there for the entire afternoon. Since I was home I brought the box inside and started going through it. 

Blue Apron Box

The box held a shiny refrigerated bag and three recipe cards. Once I opened that I found the produce and knick-knacks were on top. They weren't super cold which worried me, but now I realize it was packed perfectly because some of the items (like the buns) shouldn't be kept super cold. I pulled out all the produce and found a huge ice pack. When I removed that I found the fish, chicken, and lamb meat resting on top of another ice pack, so everything was still super cold! 

Blue Apron recommends cooking seafood dishes first, because obviously it doesn't last as long as other items. So around 5:15 I started dinner. This meal was supposed to take about 35 to 45 minutes, but it took me closer to an hour. That's one common complaint I've heard from other people - for cooking novices like me, it will take longer than their estimate. 

To get started I laid everything out to make sure it was all there. I was surprised to see white eggplant, which I've never had before. (Spoiler: it was delicious!)

Cod and MIso Soba Noodles || MrsRobbinsSparkles.com

Once I verified everything was there, I started chopping. It didn't take too long - peeling and mincing the ginger took the longest, mostly because it was more delicate than chopping up everything else. 

Blue Apron - Cod and Miso Soba Noodles || MrsRobbinsSparkles.com

I won't walk you step by step, but after cutting everything up and mixing up the sauce, the cooking actually began. 

Cooking tomatoes for Blue Apron || MrsRobbinsSparkles.com

After cooking the first batch of veggies I moved onto the eggplant and started boiling the noodles. They finished up about the same time, and then it was time to cook the fish. I got them in the pan and got to work putting together the noodles, sauce, and veggies, as well as the toppings (peanuts, basil, etc). Cooking the fish was the worst part. I've yet to master cooking fish - it always sticks! 

Cod and Miso Soba Noodles for Blue Apron || MrsRobbinsSparkles.com

Despite the sticky fish and the oil that splashed onto my hand giving me a nice little burn, everything turned out great! The noodles weren't anything I'd had before, but they were surprisingly delicious. The flavor of everything was great, and I was super happy with it! Even James liked it, and he's more of a meat and potatoes kinda guy. (He was skeptical about the noodles, though!) 

I think we ate around 6ish, so it took me closer to an hour to prepare it. But it was worth it! 

More details on Blue Apron

  • You can choose a two-person or a family plan. 
  • You can choose your 3 weekly meals from 6 options.
  • You can skip a week at any time - and you can cancel at anytime. No contracts.
  • You can choose your dietary preferences - will you eat beef, poultry, seafood, lamb, etc.
  • You can pick which day you'd like your box delivered. 
  • You keep the recipe cards and can use them over and over again on your own!

I'm not sure how much the family plan is, but the two-person plan is about $60 a week. I know that's pricey for some - it's a little pricey for us! But that's about $10 per person per meal, which isn't bad for such an amazing meal. 

Even though I've only cooked one meal so far I've decided to go ahead and have another box delivered next week. Mostly because one of the meals is steak and I'm so excited to see how that works out! I'll let you know how I feel after I cook the other two meals this week.

So have you tried Blue Apron? Or another similar company? What did you think? 

Previously on Mrs Robbins Sparkles...


Working From Home: Routines are Crucial

I've been working from home for two weeks now. It's been awesome and also a bit of a struggle. I didn't realize how reliant I had become on my routines, and now that I have no routine I've been thrown for a loop! 

Working from Home - you need a routine! || MrsRobbinsSparkles

Back when I had a day job I would wake up between 5:30 and 6 to shower, get some client work done, and get ready for the day. I'd drive 30+ minute downtown to the office, do the banking thing until lunch when I'd pull out my personal computer and do client work for an hour before going back to the banking thing until 4:30 when I would either go home to work more or head to a coffee shop to work before meeting a friend for dinner or something. 

Things varied a little, but that's what life looked like the past couple years. Busy but predictable. 

Now that I can do whatever I want whenever I want, it is a little overwhelming! Don't get me wrong - it is pretty wonderful too. Last week storms blew through our state, and James got to sleep in. So I decided to make biscuits and gravy for us!

Biscuits and Gravy

The next day I took an hour in the afternoon to work out. And by work out, I mean I read a book and walked around our pool for about an hour. (Full disclosure: our pool turned green the next day. I have no idea what happened!)

IMG_1740.JPG

My first week working for myself I took a quick trip to Dallas for a networking event - on a Tuesday! I stayed with a friend and worked from her couch. And last week I took a few hours in the afternoon to run errands and visit the AT&T store to get a new phone. (Upgraded to a 6! And I snagged a half-price Kate Spade case, so it was a win all around.)

Kate Spade || MrsRobbinsSparkles

Clearly I've been taking advantage of the flexibility. But two weeks in I realize I NEED routine to succeed. So I'm working on creating a routine I can stick with. If you work for yourself, any tips? I've got some ideas but I'd love to know how other people do it. 

Previously on Mrs Robbins Sparkles....