Friday Five

1. Happy Halloween! Today’s Friday Five is a little late because we have been busy all day celebrating! Jimmie loved his puppy costume. I will post a ton more pictures next week, but here is one to hold you over.

puppy2. Yesterday we went to The Cheesecake Factory with my mom. We went mainly because we wanted pumpkin cheesecake. When the cheesecake came out, we realized it had pecans on top, even though we did not order the pumpkin pecan cheesecake, which they also have. Why would they put pecans on the regular pumpkin cheesecake? It doesn’t say that the pumpkin cheesecake is topped with pecans on the menu. If I wanted pecans on my cheesecake, I would have ordered the pumpkin pecan version. I’m allergic to nuts, therefore I had to order Smores cheesecake too. It was great, but not pumpkin.

3. We are going to Arizona next week to see Jim! I can not wait to be together again. This whole being apart thing isn’t really my cup of tea. Plus, Jimmie misses his daddy! There will be no Friday Five next week or any posts starting Thursday until we return on Wednesday because I am not bringing my tablet. I will not be checking email or Facebook while I’m there either. I just want to spend time with my family, relax, and enjoy the warm weather.

4. Jimmie turns 6 months next week while we are in Arizona. We are going to give him something new to taste while we are there: rice cereal. It is going to be his first taste of “real” food. I wonder if he will love it or hate it?

5. I bought the new Taylor Swift CD, 1989 this week. I have been waiting and waiting for it and I have to admit, I don’t love it. It’s not bad, but it isn’t good old Taylor. It’s more like “pop star Taylor.” I still like it, for what it is, but I miss Country Taylor.

 

 

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Pampered Chef Dinners Done B1 Choice Review

When my friend Claudia asked me if I would like to review a Pampered Chef Dinners Done Kit, I jumped at the chance. I really wanted to go to one of her parties where everyone gets together and makes 10 freezer meals in one night. The only problem is, I don’t live anywhere near her. I was excited to be able participate in this Pampered Chef workshop without leaving my own home. In less than three hours, I was able to make 10 freezer meals for the average family of four to five people.

Since I am staying with my parents for a few weeks, I thought there was no better time to try out the kit. The Pampered Chef Dinners Done Kit B1 Choice comes with seven different spices, one bottle of sauce, and one bottle of balsamic vinegar. Also included in the kit are 10 recipes, a shopping list of ingredients you will need, and cooking instruction labels for your finished freezer bags. The kit costs $67.25 plus tax and shipping. I went to ShopRite in the morning on the day I decided to make all 10 meals. I bought all of the ingredients for less than $90. I already had a few ingredients at my house which saved me a few dollars: butter, olive oil, rice, garlic, and brown sugar. My dad helped me with this cooking project because I knew that having a 6 month old would cause some unexpected distractions. This would make a great afternoon activity for kids, partners, or friends to do together, but it could definitely be done by yourself.

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What I loved most about these recipes is that besides the spices from Pampered Chef, there weren’t too many more ingredients. Many recipes just required meat, veggies, and cans of tomato products and/or broth. I often see freezer meal workshops that require you to buy tons and tons of spices and you end up with so much left over. Although I used the majority of the Pampered Chef spices in the kit for the ten recipes, I do have enough left over to many of the meals again. I will be making the meals for only two people next time, making it even easier to use some of the spices again by cutting the recipes in half.

The 10 meals that I made with this kit were: Italian Chicken Pasta, Crockpot Lasagna, Unstuffed Bell Peppers, Balsamic & Basil Beef, Asian Pulled Pork, Brown Sugar Balsamic Pork Tenderloin, Maple Balsamic Pork Chops, Maple Herb Chicken, Tomato Basil Pasta, and Sweet & Sassy Chicken. I started off by making the first meal that was going to go right into my Crockpot for dinner. The one benefit of doing this in your own home is that you can start eating your meals that same night. Another benefit of doing this in your own home is being able to use your own tools that you are comfortable using, even though most of my favorite cooking tools are Pampered Chef products.

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Jimmie liked helping with the cooking. He also really enjoyed chewing on this wooden spatula. Who knew that it would make an excellent teether?

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I made each recipe from start to finish before starting the next one so that I wouldn’t get confused. After making each meal, I would label the freezer bag and the box of pasta, if need be.

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Another cooking tip: if you are making these meals by yourself, set the freezer bag in a bowl so that the bag doesn’t tip over when you are adding ingredients, especially liquids. Many of these meals have a lot of liquids in them and if you are trying to hold a bag with one hand and pour with the other, a mess could occur.
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As a busy mom, I love the fact that after prepping for a few hours and cleaning up, I don’t have to think about putting dinner together for at least ten days (note: many of these meals make leftovers if you are feeding less than 4-5 people). There actually wasn’t too much to clean up after prepping all of the meals. All we had to wash were a few cutting boards, knives, and measuring items. Now, all I have to do is take one bag out of the freezer and throw it into the Crockpot and then clean the Crockpot after dinner so that it is ready for the next day. Also note, you don’t have to use the Crockpot to cook your meals. You could also use: the Pampered Chef Dutch Oven RockCrok, the Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker, or 11’/12′ skillets. I prefer the Crockpot because I can turn it on in the morning and forget about it until dinner.

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Here are nine of the meals we made. The tenth meal is in the Crockpot ready to eat.

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So far, I have cooked the Maple Herb Chicken and the Crockpot Lasagna. I enjoyed the chicken because it was moist and full of flavor. I absolutely loved the lasagna because it was so easy to just throw the pasta in the last hour of cooking, I had never cooked pasta in the Crockpot before. It also tasted amazing, and that’s coming from a girl who is 75% Italian. I can’t wait to try the rest of the meals and try more of the Pampered Chef kits.

I was given a Pampered Chef Dinners Done Kit in exchange for an honest review. If you would like to order your own Pampered Chef Dinners Done Kit, or any Pampered Chef products, please visit Claudia’s Facebook Page for contact, website, and ordering information. If you are looking for paleo, vegetarian, and gluten free options, Pampered Chef also offers recipe kits to fit those needs. 

Friday Five

1. Being back in New Jersey for a few weeks is exhausting but lots of fun! Jimmie has been busy almost every day, which makes him sleep like a rock almost every night. Yesterday, he had his first real play date and it was the cutest thing ever. I loved seeing him interact with another baby his age.

2. Jimmie finally got his first tooth this week, and as a bonus, he got his second tooth the next day. Poor baby was not happy, but it could have been worse especially since it barely interrupted his sleep, just my delicious burger at Ruby Tuesday.

3. I went to Kohl’s yesterday and all of the clothes there were exactly what was popular in Korea last year. I didn’t like the fashion when I left Korea, and I still don’t like it here in the U.S. Hopefully next year is better.

4. I had vivid dreams about Korean food and pastries last night. I woke up starving. I miss our food spots and the bakery. I told Jim I missed Korea the other week, he told me I was losing it. Seriously though, I miss it ;-/

5. Starbucks is coming out with a new drink this Christmas, the first time in five years: Chestnut Praline Latte. It has nuts in it, and I am allergic. What a bummer. Korea had a Cranberry White Mocha two years ago and it was AMAZING. The cranberry sprinkles on top were the best part, and I normally don’t even like White Mochas. I just saw a new Christmas mug on the Korea Starbucks Instagram. It had a super cute gingerbread man on it. Crossing my fingers that we get the same mug here too.

Since I skimped on the photos last week, here are a few extra! Happy weekend!

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Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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What happens when your wife disappears on your fifth year wedding anniversary? Ask Nick Dunne. Nick and Amy, former New York writers, live in a small town in Missouri. Nick owns The Bar, a local bar, with his twin sister, Margo, and Amy is a stay-at-home, bitter, house wife. After going to The Bar, and receiving a phone call that his front door is wide open, Nick returns home to find his wife missing. Where did she go? Did Nick kill her? That’s what the whole town, including the police, are wondering. A story full of non-stop drama makes one question what lies behind this picture perfect marriage. Does anyone really know the person they marry?

I didn’t really know much about this book before I started seeing movie advertisements. The movie trailer looked good, which made me want to read the book before seeing the movie; I really love a good mystery story. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn kept me on the edge of my seat almost up to the very end. The book begins by going back and forth between Nick, present day, and Amy, past tense diary format. It reminded me of the play The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown. Nick starts off talking about where their relationship went wrong and how he has fallen out of love, and Amy starts off describing the beginning of the relationship and how they fell in love. Then, just when you think you have it all figured out, the plot thickens. You’ll just have to read it to find out how.

The whole novel made me question Nick. Every other page I thought, ‘Well, maybe he killed his wife.’ Then I would think, ‘No, he couldn’t have done it!’ I loved and hated Nick all at the same time. Amy, on the other hand, I kind of hated her the entire novel. She seemed shady and spoiled to me, right from the very start. She never seemed happy and she was never satisfied with what life handed her, even with a hefty trust fund from her parents’ children’s book franchise Amazing Amy.

Fast forward to the end of the book. I’m obviously not going to say what happens but I am going to say that I hated it. My dad looked at me right when I finished and asked, “What’s wrong? You look distressed.” I was, at the time, frantically clicking on my Kindle to see if there was more. I then went to my tablet to see if there was a sequel or plans for a sequel. Gillian Flynn states in this interview that she wanted the ending to be controversial. She knew that most readers would have something negative to say about it.

Monday Funday

Another fall weekend went by in the blink of an eye. Jimmie has been having fun in New Jersey with my family. We went to our favorite pizza place on Saturday. Sunday we went to another pumpkin patch and made homemade pasta. I wish Jimmie was eating something other than formula so he could have enjoyed the pizza and pasta, but I told him we will have some when he is ready.

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Aunt Alicia feeding Jimmie while we wait for our hayride

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Jimmie’s first hayride

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Nolan trying to pick up a big pumpkin

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Watching football with Uncle Mike

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Making pasta!

pasta2I wish there was leftovers for this chilly Monday morning; there was actually frost on the grass when I woke up! I am ready to visit Arizona so that I can wear shorts again. I love fall and all that, but frost is a bit much.

Friday Five

1. I started reading Gone Girl this week. It is a page turner, for sure. I really can’t put it down. The downside of this is that I am now having nightmares. I’m over halfway done and it just keeps getting better and better. I can’t wait to see the movie with Jim!

2. Why did I not know, until yesterday, that Ebola isn’t airborne?I really think when they talk about it on the news they should put in big letters at the bottom of the screen, “EBOLA IS NOT AN AIRBORNE VIRUS!” I think it would make people feel a little (A LOT!) better. I feel like I am a pretty informed person when it comes to this whole situation, I even looked up the symptoms on WebMD, yet I didn’t know it was transferred through bodily fluids. Shame on me and shame on the news for not clarifying this every time they report on the scary situation. Part of me still thinks it could be airborne…

3. Jimmie rolled over this week! I was beginning to think he was going to be one of those babies who never rolled. I was trying to get it on video, but he did it right after I pushed stop recording. Figures.

4. My favorite author, Sarah Dessen, just announced when her next book is coming out. Saint Anything will be released on May 5, 2015. I will be pre-ordering my copy so I can start reading it that day! I just hope it’s better than her last book, The Moon and More, which comes out the same day in paperback.

5. Two weeks until Halloween! Jimmie’s costume came in the mail. It looks so warm, so I’m kind of hoping it is chilly. I want to make so many tasty treats before the big day, I just have to find time. Pumpkin cookies are on the top of my list, as well as mummy hot dogs.

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