Hello Fresh: Week One

A couple months ago, my parents told me they were trying out one of those meal delivery services, Hello Fresh.  A couple they are really good friends with had started doing it and to them it seemed like a pretty good deal.  While I was home over Christmas break one of their boxes showed up and so my Mom made one of the meals for dinner one night.  It was chicken dish of some sort and boy was it tasty.

Mom told me that I should consider the service because the meals were good and they always make enough for them to have leftovers and she thought it would save me some money.

I thought about it, looked at how much I spend on groceries each week and what the cost difference might be and decided to give it a whirl.  And I have to say, I’m a fan.

I opted for the Classic Plan.  This plan comes with 3 meals (you have 6 to choose from) and makes enough food for 2-4 people.  Which has worked well for me because with each meal I’ve had enough leftovers for at least 2 other meals.

I had my first box sent to me on Saturday, January 14th.  It arrived via FedEx and I received an email once it had been delivered to my apartment complexes front office.  I was on my way to a baby shower so unfortunately I couldn’t do a box unveiling or anything but I did sit down before I got the box and planned out which days I was planning to cook each meal.  I wish I had taken a better look at my schedule though because the week I had planned out turned out to be a very busy week with late nights that left me with no desire to actually cook anything.  Thankfully all the produce lasted for longer than a week so I was still able to cook all the meals.

Here’s why Hello Fresh works for me:

1.  You don’t have to go to the grocery store.  I hate going to the grocery store and having to look for recipes.  So for me getting to chose three ready made ones is great.  I love that this gives you everything in the exact amount you need so there is never a surplus of veggies or spices or anything.

2.  It saves money. (For a single person anyway)  Usually when I went to to the grocery store, I’d go every week and spend at least 80-100 dollars.  Mostly because I was buying stuff that was quick and easy and didn’t require a whole lot of effort.  Since I’ve start Hello Fresh I’ve only had to go to the grocery store for the necessities like milk, bread, butter, oil, etc.  I’m spending $60 on 3 meals that last me the whole week or longer.  I’m also still going out to eat every once and while but my food bills have still gone done.  My parents are getting 3 meals every week and that’s still saving them money.

3.  It’s super flexible.  You get to choose which weeks send you boxes.  I go with every other week but if there was a week I wanted to “unpause” all I have to do is go to the website or the app.  If you have a week “paused” you will not be charged for that week.  And there is no fee to sign up or cancel.

4.  You are given JUST the right amount of everything so there’s no waste.  I LOVE that everything comes in just the right amount of all the produce, sauces, spices, and meats.  It makes clean up sure easy and it makes the cooking aspect a lot easier because you’re not having to measure anything at all!

Here were the meals I chose and my thoughts on each:

Hearty Steak and Potatoes

This was the first meal I made and my least favorite.  Mostly because it was my first time cooking steak and it did not come out very good.  I don’t think I overcooked it, but I know I cut the meat wrong (which, who knew there was a wrong way to cut steak!? I certainly didn’t!).  Because I didn’t cut it “against the grain” it ended up very tough and dry tasting.  

My potatoes came out horribly.  I’m not sure why though.  I cut and cooked them exactly as the instructions detailed but I think it had something to do with my oven.  Next time I plan to just cut them into cubes rather than wedges.  I ended up throwing most of them away.

The best part of this meal was the cabbage.  It had a great flavor and I cooked it just right!

Overall I’m not sure I’m a fan of cooking steak.  I think I’m better off sticking with chicken, ground meat and fish.  I may try it one more time and see if I do a better job of it, but then again I might just stick with getting steak at a restaurant.

Lemony Shrimp Risotto

I was the most excited for this meal I think and the most nervous for two reasons.  Excited because I love lemon flavored foods and nervous because I had never made risotto before.  I also had to invest in a zester because I had to zest the lemon and had no idea what it meant to zest something.  Thanks to Hello Fresh though, now I do!

This meal was actually super easy to make, the most difficult thing was the risotto and the only reason for that is because you literally have to stand there for the full 25 minutes per the instructions and stir it.  You can’t just pour it in some water. cover it and leave it.  If you do, it’ll clump up and stick the bottom of the pan.  I was a little worried it was too creamy but a quick FaceTime conference with my mom and she assured me that was what hers looked like too.

Once the risotto was done all you had to do was toss in the shrimp and the lemon and boom the tasty creamy goodness was ready to go.  The accompanying side was zucchini and sadly I overcooked that just a tad.  Again I think it’s my oven, I don’t think I needed to cook it at 400 as the directions told me too.  So next time it tells me roast veggies in the oven I’m gonna lower the temperature I think.

I was able to eat this for lunch and another night for dinner.  And it was just as good heated up the next day as it was fresh.  I saved the instructions so I can make it again sometime.

Tai Pork Stir-Fry

The last meal was just as tasty as the risotto.  I’m a big fan of stir-fry and Asian inspired foods in general.  (In my next box I have this tasty looking Thai noodle recipe that I’m super excited to eat)  And this one was by far the easiest of the three and one that could definitely be re-created one day on my own.  The best part is I’m sure you can use any vegetables or meat you want.  As I was eating I was thinking that mushrooms would have been super good in the dish too! 

It literally took about 25 minutes of prep and cook time.  I was a little worried because this is the meal that sat in my fridge for the longest but all the veggies were just fine when I finally opened up the box.  It was such a flavorful dish and so conveniently proportioned!

I was able to eat this for both lunch and another dinner.  So it, along with the risotto, were by far the meals where I got the most bang for my buck.  And as I’ve already said the tastiest!


Overall I would say Hello Fresh is a good option for anyone who wants to cook more, eat a little healthier and save a little.  I’ve really enjoyed getting into cooking and basically learning how to do it. It’s definitely a learning process and hopefully I master it pretty quickly!

I’ve already cooked the first meal of my second box, but that is a story for another post!

This is not a sponsored post in anyway.  Just my thoughts on the service!

The Girl Behind the Blog

Since it’s the start of a brand new year and there are a few new faces around here.  I figured I would give a little re-introduction!  I saw this tag over on Mistle’s blog, Sweet Tea and Hydrangeas before the new year and thought the questions were perfect for a little get to know me post for the start of 2017!

So here we go!

First off I’m Kathleen! The girl behind Places I Will Go! I’ve been blogging since the end of 2010 and have loved every minute of it.  My favorite thing about blogging has been all the people I’ve met through the process.  I also love having a place to go back and remember important and even not so important events from life.

And here’s just a little bit more about me:

1. What is your middle name?   My mom didn’t give me one, because she wants my maiden name to become my middle when I get married.

2. What was your favorite subject in school?  History and English.  I’m seriously considering going back to school and getting my masters in History.

3. What is your favorite drink?  All time favorite is Dr. Pepper, but coffee is up there too!

4. What is your favorite song at the moment?  I mostly listen to the radio or one of my Pandora stations, but my favorite song right now is Head Over Boots by Jon Pardi.

5. What is your favorite food?  Sushi and pasta.  But I love a good burger and fries too.

6. What is the last thing you bought? A few decor items for the apartment.  But I’m about to be in the process of buying a new car!  I’ve started looking online and fingers crossed I find a good deal within the next week or so!

7. Favorite book of all time? Harry Potter for sho.  But I also love The Century Trilogy by Ken Follet.  It’s really hard for me to pick just one favorite book.  Like I think it would be impossible to narrow it down to just one.

8. Favorite color? Pink.

9. Do you have any pets? Yes, two cats, Sadie and Brady.

10. Favorite perfume? Burberry London.  I finally got some for Christmas so it’s been nice smelling good again!  Not that I smelled bad before but ya know…perfume helps!

11. Favorite holiday? Christmas.

12. Are you married? Nope.  Sadly not.

13. Have you ever been out of the country?  If so, how many times?  Yes.  Last summer I spend 2 weeks in Europe (it was the best trip EVER) and I’ve been on a few cruises and to Mexico.  I’m hope to add to my country count in the next few years though!

14. So you speak any other languages? Yep!  Spanish.

15. How many siblings do you have? 1, a younger brother.

16. what is your favorite shop? Does Target count as a shop?  Also a big fan of J. Crew and Old Navy.

17. Favorite restaurant? I can’t really say I have a favorite restaurant, but my friends and I always go to the same sushi restaurant and it’s called Nagoya.

18. When was the last time your cried? Last night watching Parenthood.

19. Favorite Blog? How can I pick just one?!  Here are a few of my daily reads:  Going the Distance, See You in A Porridge, The Wandering Weekenders, The Barefoot Blonde, The Daily Tay, Lauren Elizabeth, The Small Things Blog, Meg O. on the Go, Alkek’s Abroad.   This is just a handful.  There are definitely a ton more! 🙂

20. Favorite Movie? 

21. Favorite TV Shows? Grey’s Anatomy, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Modern Family, Friends, The Real Housewives (all of them)…..just to name a few.  I’m a big TV person! lol

22. PC or Mac? Mac all the way.

23. What phone do you have? iPhone 6.

24. How tall are you? 5’7″ ish.

25. Can you cook? Yes and no.  I’m not so good at coming up with recipes and stuff but I can follow a recipe just fine.  I got my first Hello Fresh box on Saturday and on Monday I made my very first meal.

Your Next Favorite Book [December Reads]

Happy January friends! And welcome to the first book reviews of 2017 (even though I technically read all these in 2016!)

I am so glad that I found the Show Us Your Books link up in 2016.  It has introduced me to so many great hello bloggers and book worms and I am so excited to keep up with the link up in 2017.

This year I have upped my reading goal by 25 books.  Last year I set a goal to read 50 books and I did it!  I’m excited for my challenge this year and have already jumped in.  I haven’t finished a book yet but I’m almost there.  I made the mistake of starting Parenthood on Netflix and now I’m sucked in, so that might throw me off for the rest of January.  But I’ve got 11 more months to power through!

Ok so lets get to my December Reads.  I was a reading machine in December because I had 5 books I had to get through in order to make my December goal.  And I can honestly say that I really enjoyed all five of the books I read in December.

Here they are:

Goodreads Synopsis: Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My thoughts:  THIS BOOK!!!! I loved this book so much that it made my best of 2016 post.  I loved the story, I loved the characters, and I just really identified with Cath.  I remember having some of her exact feelings my first of college (minus the twin sister thing, because I don’t have one of those).  But everything else she went through I kept nodding along with and thinking,” OH MY GOD ME TOO!!”  I didn’t really care for the Simon Snow stuff throw in-between chapters but I didn’t mind the actual fan fiction stuff when it was brought up because I may or may not have read fan fiction in high school.  Harry Potter fan fiction to be exact (#meganerdalert).  I can’t believe I did not know about this book before 2016 though and I am excited to read her other books this year! 

Goodreads Synopsis: It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

My thoughts:  This was the second book that I mentioned in my best books of 2016 post, because that’s how much I loved it.  It’s the second book in a trilogy, the first being A Different Shade of Magic.  I liked the first book just fine, but I absolutely loved the second one.  So much that it made my best of list.  I felt this book gave me so much more than the first one did, and I loved some of the twists.  There were a few things that happened that I totally did not see coming and I love it when a book does that to me! I cannot wait to read book 3, which thankfully comes out this year! 
Goodreads Synopsis: Dr. Iris Ballard’s glory days are behind her, so when Luke Hudson, her former FBI partner and onetime lover, asks for help constructing a psychological profile of an elusive serial killer who murders single mothers and dumps their bodies in the woods, Iris turns him away. She just wants to be left alone with her infomercials, her German Shepherd, and her vodka. That is, until she gets a peek at the case files.

The media has dubbed him “the Woodsman.” But after Iris learns the sickening details held back from the press, and as she sets foot onto the scene of his latest crime, she assembles a portrait of a more complicated, enigmatic, meticulous man. Control is his motivation. He thrives on it. Soon he even tries to manipulate the investigation by contacting Iris, hoping to rattle the woman he considers an intellectual equal.

The game is on. Iris thinks she has a read on her target, enough to push his buttons, to make him lose control. But when the Woodsman gains the upper hand, Iris faces the most painful reckoning of all—with her own violent past.

My thoughts:  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but I have a thing for thrillers.  I started reading them in high school, and every few months I get the urge to read one again.  This one did not disappoint.  I really enjoyed it.  I wouldn’t say I loved it, but it definitely passed the time just fine and is worth a read if you’re into books like this.  But it did leave me wanting more from Iris and Luke.  They’re did not wrap up to my satisfaction so at some point I will be reading the next book in her story! 
Goodreads Synopsis: Everyone has days, weeks, even months they wish they could do over—but what about an entire year? After living through the worst twelve months of her life, intensive care nurse Olive Watson is given a second chance to relive her past and attempt to discover where she went wrong…

After a year of hardships, including a messy breakup with her longtime boyfriend Phil, the prospect of her mother’s remarriage, and heartbreaking patient losses at the hospital, Olive is ready to start fresh. But when she wakes up in her ex-boyfriend’s bed on New Year’s Day 2011a day she has already livedOlive’s world is turned upside down. Shouldering a year of memories that no one else can recall, even Olive begins to question herself—until she discovers that she is not alone. Upon crossing paths with Sherry Witan, an experienced “repeater,” Olive learns that she has the chance to rewrite her future. Given the opportunity of a lifetime, Olive has to decide what she really wants. Should she make different choices, or accept her life as she knows it, flaws and all?

My thoughts:  I actually listened to and read this book.  Ashley from The Wandering Weekenders was a huge angel and sent me this as an audio book on Audible for my long trip across Texas at the beginning of Christmas break.  She knew I would like it because she and I have very similar taste in books!  I liked the book so much that I couldn’t wait to finish listening to it and thankfully Ashley told me she had it on her Nook in case I wanted to keep reading it once I reached home.  Literally as soon as I got home I downloaded it from her library and jumped in right where I had left off.  This was such an interesting book.  I loved the storyline and I really liked the way the book ended.  I will say that Olive did irritate me at a few points in the book but that didn’t stop me from really enjoying it.  It was actually refreshing to not love the main character and still really enjoy the book over all.  
So read it.  It’s good! 
Goodreads Synopsis: Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

My thoughts: This was my very last book of 2016.  One New Years Eve I had another 10 hour drive ahead of me.  And I knew I needed to listen to something for the drive.  Audiobooks help keep me focused and it would help me knock out my reading goal for the year.  I saw this book pop up on Ashley’s reading list and it immediately caught my attention because of the cover.  My Dad just downloaded Audible so I just logged into his account and he let me us one of his free credits for the drive.  The book was about 9 hours long via audio and so it was perfect.  
I honestly wasn’t sure how much I was liking the book.  It was told from three different perspectives but the same readers voice.  I found myself enjoying certain storylines more than others.  The storylines for each of the sisters was so different and I really enjoyed that.  This was yet another book where the ending (at least one part of it anyway) totally took me by surprise and thus I will be reading the sequel because I have to know what happens to one specific character!! Plus I wanna know which sister will be queen! Because nope, they do not tell you in book one!  
And that’s a wrap for 2016.  I have to give a huge shout out to Ashley one more time because three of these books came from her!  Thank you for letting me read them! 🙂  You’re the best! 
So to wrap things up here, currently I’m reading a silly little romance fluff book.  It’s just what I need right now.  The next book is probably gonna be same, only of the historical variety.  I have plans to read The Woman in Cabin 10 in February because it’s the book for one of the book clubs I’m in.  And I have a ton of books sitting on bookshelves and coffee table that need to be read.  So I have a pretty good line up to get my next reading challenge started!
BUT…..I’m excited to jump into all the posts today and get some other recommendations for 2017!  
Have a great Tuesday!
Linking up for…..
Life According to Steph

2017 [GOALS]

2017 is a big year.  It’s my last full year in my 20s.  Which to be honest I’m not at all upset about.  I think I’m ready to kiss my 20s goodbye.  But I want this last year to be my best year yet.  Fingers crossed it is.

Let’s take a look at last years goals and see how I did.

In 2016 I wanted to…..

Go to church more regularly.  I failed.  Like epically failed.  And I still haven’t found a church in Houston I’m 100% comfortable in.

Read 50 books.  CHECK CHECK CHECK!

Drink more water.  I think I’ve accomplished this pretty well.  But there was no way to really gauge it at all.  But it feels like I drank a lot of water in 2016.

Be healthier.  Meh. I stayed the same weight this year.  That much I know.  And I was definitely a little more active then I have been in past years.

Keeping blogging and go to a blog conference.  YES! Thrive was unbelievable.  I really wish I could go this year, but I just don’t think it’s in the cards.  Hopefully there will be a workshop or two I can attend in 2017.

Improve photography skills.  I would 100% say my photography is better now than it was when I first got my camera.  But I still want to take a class of some sort.

Wear more lipstick.  Check.

Save money.  Yet another failure.  I think I need to approach this differently in 2017, than I did in 2016.

So….5 out of 8 isn’t too bad if you ask me.  It’s one more goal accomplished than in 2015. So go me!

And now we come to my goals for 2017.  These are my long term goals I hope to accomplish.  I’ve been toying with the idea of setting up some small monthly goals as well!  So stay tuned for those!

In 2017 I want to…..

Read 75 books!  That’s 25 more than last year.  But I think it’s doable.  Hopefully.

Cook at least 3-5 meals at home a week.  I just signed up for Hello Fresh.  My parents have been doing it for a few months now and love it.  So I’m hoping that I do as well.

Be healthier…again.  Ok this is kinda a carry over from last year.  I need to find an exercise class I like and I’m hoping by cooking more meals at home this will help accomplish this goal too.  Plus, I would like to see my weight drop.  So I do need to start exercising with a little regularity.

Pay off debt.  Last year I said save money and that didn’t happen.  So instead of just saying “save money” I want to be more purposeful and actually pay off the debt I have.  Granted the majority of that is in student loans but still.  I also have started planning out a better savings plan.  So hopefully that will help me not only save money, but pay off debt as well!

Put myself out there more.  Last year I went on exactly zero dates.  Now there may have been at least one but I honestly don’t remember it at all.  So that’s not good.  But I know that I need to be more assertive and out myself out there.  I’m never gonna meet anyone sitting on my couch watching Bravo.  Although lets be honest that’s not gonna stop any time soon, but I want my dating life to be much more active than it was last year.

Keep traveling and book another Euro-trip for my 30th year!  Plenty of state side traveling is already planned for 2017.  I don’t have any international travel planned but would like to get something booked for 2018.  So that’s the goal.  Right now we have Iceland and Denmark on the brain! 🙂

Redesign the blog.  I’ve loved this design but I find myself wanting something more.  I still want the clean and fresh look I have going right now but I would like to spruce things up a bit this year.  I’ll have had this design for two years now and I think it’s time!

Alrighty there ya have it.  Here’s hoping 2017 is as amazing as I hope it’s going to be! 🙂

Linking up with Jenn and Jess for What’s Ha-“Pinning”!