eMeals vs. Real Plans

When it comes to meal planning, I’ll take all the help I can get. I’ve posted before about eMeals, the very first meal planning service I used.

Last year, I decided to give Real Plans a try. Elias has a mild gluten and dairy allergy, so I wanted to see if another meal planning service may be better for my family.

After using Real Plans for a few months, I opted to return to using eMeals. Here’s why:

Real Plans offers really nice features that allow you to fully customize your meal plans. You can even exclude very specific ingredients. Once you make your selections, your plan will be delivered to you each week. It’s great. It was just too many options for me.

eMeals delivers a weekly meal plan with minimal customization. I prefer that approach. I want someone to hand me a meal plan. That’s what eMeals does – I don’t have to do anything except for choose which category I want. I subscribe to the Paleo plan and make minor substitutions when I cook if needed to accommodate the gluten and dairy allergy.

Real Plans offers breakfast, lunch and supper planning options for the price of your subscription. That’s also great. However, I found that I didn’t use the breakfast or lunch planning options. eMeals has separate subscriptions for each meal. When they offered half price subscriptions in the fall, I purchased both a lunch and supper plan.

Each plan has recipes that my family does and doesn’t like. Each plan offers a good variety. Each plan is worth the subscription fee. I’d recommend either one; you really have to test drive them to find the best fit for you and your family.

For me, eMeals is the simpler of the two, and it works for my family.

 

It’s 2015. I’m back, and I have some goals.

Like it or not, it’s a new year, and I’m back to blogging!

With a new year come new goals.

My verse for the year is Ephesians 4:29. Words can hurt, or words can help. I get to choose. God has given me the gift of words; it’s my opportunity to use them to His glory.

Here are my two simple goals for the year:

  • Finish organizing my office.

My fantastic mother-in-law has set me up for success with this one. She not only spearheaded the effort to put together the shelves I purchased for the room, but she also has unpacked most of the boxes in that room. All I have to do is purge some things and organize it. Really, it’s that simple.

  • Build relationships.

I’m great at making plans that never happen. Months may pass by before I realize I have no idea what’s happening in a friend’s life. This year, I’m not going to wait until that “perfect moment” to get together with someone. This year, I’m just going to invite someone over for tea, or supper or whatever. It doesn’t matter if the kids interrupt 150 times, or if I haven’t mopped the floor in a while, or if I still have a messy pile of mail on the table. People are important. Relationships are important. Letting God use you in someone else’s life is important.

Do you have any goals for the year? Please share!

Evergreens No More

Ben’s been hard at work on the yard. Most weekends, and many evenings, you’ll find him wielding a chain saw or an axe or some other manly type tool.

Now, thanks to his hard work, we can see our property from the back of the house!

Last week, he took down the trees that had grown in front of the enclosed side porch (on left in photo below). Now that they’re gone, we can be in that space and watch the deer in the yard. Today, he took down the trees on the opposite side by the garage. Pictures of tonight’s project are below. 20140707-221416-80056196.jpg

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Product Review: Command Products for Hanging Frames

So far, I have yet to hang any art in my house using nails. It’s true; I haven’t needed Ben’s help with a hammer and nails once since we moved in!

Our last house had mostly very textured plaster walls, and nails were pretty much the only option when it came to hanging art on the walls. Our new house, however, has nice smooth walls, and since I discovered Command picture-hanging products, I’ve been on a roll!

These all have been hung using Command products:

family photo wall

Family photos printed, framed AND hung. Check me out.

gallery wall

The start of a gallery wall going up the stairs.

Ohio print

Our first item to be hung on the walls! This was a birthday gift made by Blake and Irene!

I mostly eyeball the placement, but occasionally do enlist the help of a small level.

Here are links to the products I’ve used:

Command picture hanging strips

Command Sawtooth Sticky Nail Hanger

Dr. Seuss Themed Kids’ Birthday Party

Let’s first address the elephant in the room. This party took place in December, nearly five whole months ago. But it was so cute, I still wanted to share it!

Anyways, moving on …

Elias was turning 3, and Eva was turning 1 in December, so I decided to do a joint birthday party with family at our house — which we had just moved into in November. I went with the Dr. Seuss theme because (1) it’s adorable; (2) my children love to read; and (3) it was a good choice for a dual boy-girl theme.

My ultra-talented brother and sister-in-law created the invitations for me, as well as a scrapbook page for guests to fill out (much like I did for Elias’ first birthday party in 2011) and super cute cupcake toppers. (They also have an Etsy site.)

Dr. Seuss cupcake toppers

Cute cupcake toppers, made by Irene

It was a fairly simple birthday party, but I still wanted to add something fun and extra special. I decided on a photo booth, and Irene really took the lead in putting it together. She made some really fun decorations and props, and the resulting photos were great. Irene even brought her updated version of a Polaroid camera so guests could see their pictures immediately; those will go into the scrapbook with the notes from family.

Dr. Seuss photo booth

The Patterson family

Irene’s photo props were so darn adorable, the photographer, Tiffany, who did Eva’s one-year photos suggested we use them in the photo shoot. The results were awwwww-inducing cute! Tiffany also did our family photos in the fall.

Dr. Seuss themed photo shoot

Photos by Levenhagen Photography

Finding a Baby Gate for a Split-Level Staircase

Although I appreciate my husband’s creative suggestion to find some discarded baby gates at garage sales and zip tie them together, I thought the better approach to finding a safe and non-hilljack baby gate for our split-level staircase was to buy one made for that purpose.

It was expensive, but I feel much better about the safety of my home.

Here’s what we ended up with:

baby gate for split-level staircase

baby gate for split-level staircase

It’s great! It completely does the job, and I plan to purchase two more for the top and bottom of the staircase.

The specifics:

This is a Custom Fit KidCo Configure Gate with one 24″ Gate Extension.

30 Days of Thankfulness, Day 17: My Own Home

Today, I am thankful for being able to live in my own home.

This year was a whirlwind. Between having a new baby and selling a house, moving in with my in-laws, finding a new house and finally moving in yesterday, it’s been exhausting.

We were blessed by my in-laws opening their home to us for six months, and we were blessed with finding a perfect new house to move into.

There is something to be said about being in your own home, putting stuff where you want it and not feeling bad about the mess you’re making.