What Is the Best Gift You Have Ever Received?

13 Nov

So, I’ve obviously had Christmas on my mind. Last week I did a poll on Facebook to find out everyone’s thoughts on sending out holiday cards.

I feel like over the years I receive less and less cards and was thisclose to not doing it any more. I had 60 of you vote and here are the final counts:

So it looks like I’ll be sticking with sending out holiday cards, at least for another year!

Now  I’m thinking about holiday shopping. It goes without saying that I haven’t started shopping for Christmas yet. I typically don’t start until after Thanksgiving. However, I’ll be on my sister’s wedding cruise for a week in December… which really limits my shopping (and procrastinating) time.

I also have the WORST time figuring out what I even want for Christmas.

So, I’m totally going to cheat and ask you all…

What is the BEST Gift You Have Ever Received?

Tell me the what! Tell me the why! Tell me the when! Tell me all about it in the comments!

Maybe this little exercise can help us all figure out what to add to our shopping lists!

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The Best Insoles to Wear with Your Rothy’s for a Perfect Fit

12 Nov

I first wrote about my thoughts on Rothy’s back in March (Let’s Talk About Rothy’s: Are they Worth the Money) and it is still one of my most popular posts. I get a lot of questions on my Rothy’s, so I thought I’d devote a post specifically to answer how I make sure each pair fits perfectly.

One of the top complaints I hear on the Rothy’s fan Facebook pages is that people are frustrated with the inconsistency in sizing. I ordered my typical shoe size of 8.5 for my first pair and they fit great… but then when I ordered additional pairs I found that for some I needed to size up to a 9. So let’s first talk about sizing.

Rothy’s Sizing Rule of Thumb*:
The Flat: Order your typical shoe size for dress shoes. For me, that is an 8.5.
The Point: Order a half-size up from your typical shoe size. For me that is a 9.
The Loafer: Order a half-size up from your typical shoe size. For me that is a 9.
The Sneaker: Order your typical shoe size. For me that is an 8.5

MOST of the time this works, but occasionally a particular color will fit smaller or larger than normal. For example, I found that the gray zebra points fit super small and I had to size up to a 9.5.

My Tricks for Getting the Perfect Fit
If your Rothy’s are a just a little too tight, it might be better to switch out the insoles rather than exchange for the next size. It seems like everyone has their own favorite insoles and I’ve tried a bunch of them – leather, fabric, different ones from Rothy’s, fleece… I’ve tried them all.

If your Rothy’s are a smidge too tight:
Take out the Rothy’s insole and replace it with this one that is only about $12 for a set of two pairs . You can trim the insole to your exact size (I use the Rothy’s insole as my guide) and it is just thin enough that it gives your toes a little extra room. This exact insole solves about 95% of my fit issues.

If your Rothy’s are STILL a smidge too tight with the thinner insole:
Take out the insole altogether. Use a little piece of moleskin (I like this kind) and stick it right into the bottom of the Rothy’s where there is a little bump from the manufacturing process. This will keep the bump from irritating your foot while you walk. I have found the shoes just as comfy with no insoles at all (and other ladies on the Rothy’s Facebook pages do this too!).

If your Rothy’s are a smidge too loose:
Leave in the Rothy’s insole and put the slim insole (this one again) UNDER it, so you have two insoles. The second insole stays nice and snug under the first one and gives your foot just a little lift for a perfect fit.

Remember: Wear your Rothy’s Inside the House Until You Are Sure You Have a Perfect Fit! As long as you wear your Rothy’s inside, you can exchange them within 30 days.

Exchanges Really Are Easy
I’ve only had to do an exchange once and it was for my gray zebra points. For some reason even in a size 9 they seemed to be a little too snug. I followed the instructions on the Rothy’s delivery alert email and ordered an exchange for a 9.5. They emailed me a postage paid return label and I held onto it for a few days until the bigger size arrived. Then, I tried on both sizes to make sure I picked the one that fit best. The 9.5’s were great (for my 8.5 sized feet…) and I stuck the smaller pair back in the mail. All in all, it was a pretty painless process!

I hope you find my tips helpful! If you are interested in trying out Rothy’s for the first time, I recommend you read my original review post (find it here). In addition to a ton of info and a FAQ section, it also has a special $20 referral code for your first pair.

Please let me know if you have any other questions for me!

P.S. If you are interested in checking out how I style my Rothy’s, you can find me on Instagram here: PocketfulofJoules on Instagram!

* Based on my own experience and feedback that I’ve heard from others.

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by Rothy’s. It’s my own thoughts and opinions because I’m a big fan. This post does contain an Amazon Affiliate Program link. This means that clicking on a link may help me earn a small commission at no cost to you.

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Reviewing Home Chef

8 Nov

I haven’t reviewed a food delivery service in quite a while. I tried Blue Apron years ago (once) and then tried Hello Fresh in 2014 and have been using it once a month or so ever since (2014 Hello Fresh review). Over the last four years, lots and lots of new food delivery service companies have launched. I’ve been pretty happy with the occasional Hello Fresh delivery though, so I never bothered to try any of them.

A month or so ago a friend shared that she had some free trials of Home Chef… so I figured, why not? Unfortunately, I waited too long to claim my free trial because I was going out of town, but still decided that I wanted to try it out. Home Chef sent me a $30 off promo, so I went ahead and ordered my first box.

And if I’m going to try it, I might as well share my thoughts with you all!

Home Chef: How it Works
Each week subscribers can choose from 15 recipes featuring steak, chicken, pork, fish or vegetarian meals. I picked the three meal option (2 servings per meal) and it cost $59.70. Each week there is also an option to add a fruit basket and/or smoothie for an additional cost. I didn’t add any of those extras and just stuck with the meals.

I had my delivery come on a Tuesday and I received an insulated box that contained a binder with the recipes, as well as all the pre-portioned ingredients clearly divided into the three meals.

My meals:

Steak de Burgo with mashed red potatoes and thyme roasted carrots

This was the first meal I made from the box and I really enjoyed the steak and potatoes. The carrots could have used a little longer in the oven. My husband said the steak was not the best I’ve made, but I’m pretty sure that was due to me juggling dinner and lunch packing and not a reflection on Home Chef. And he totally ate it anyways, so he must have liked it a little….

Chimichurri Salmon with zucchini and squash

I made this the next day and my husband was out of town, so I totally didn’t have to share. I did send him a photo though so he could see what he was missing! I LOVED the entire meal, including the chimichurri sauce on the salmon and the added cheese on the zucchini/squash combo. I shared some salmon with Jack and ate the second meal the following day for lunch. It was delicious reheated!

Philly Cheesesteak Meatloaves with green beans

This recipe was the most involved of the three, but I really liked that the meatloaves were made with ground turkey rather than beef. I’m still limiting my beef intake (darn cholesterol), so I wouldn’t have been able to do this and the steak in the same week if it were red meat. I liked the mini turkey loaves (made in muffin tins), they were really tasty and filling. Jack loved it, but wasn’t a fan of the green peppers… but I can easily customize the recipe and keep it divided in the muffin tins the next time I make it.

I really enjoyed all three of the meals and didn’t find any of the instructions difficult to follow. I liked the variety of the meals and how every single ingredient needed was included in the box (even a little pat of butter for the green beans). I would (and will) make all three of these meals again!

Comparing Home Chef to Hello Fresh
Since I’ve been using Hello Fresh for the past four years, it only makes sense to compare the two services. Since they are so similar, there can only be ONE WINNER of my heart. Or tummy.

Meal Options
Home Chef allows subscribers to pick from 15 meals each week, while Hello Fresh offers 14 meals. I’ve been using Hello Fresh for the past four years (ordering once every 4 – 6 weeks), so I’ve seen lots and lots of repeated meals. Once I make a meal that we love, I keep the recipe so we can remake it on our own… it doesn’t make sense to order the same meal from Hello Fresh to remake.

I’ve only used Home Chef for the past month (we’ve received one order and we have one more coming in a couple weeks). I can see all of the upcoming menus for the next 6 weeks and it seems like there is a much wider variety.

Winner: It’s looking like Home Chef is the winner, but I’ll keep you posted.

Meal Pricing
Most Home Chef meals are $9.99 a serving, with lunch portions discounted to $7.99 a serving. For Hello Fresh, the 3 meal/2 serving plan is $69 per week which breaks down to $11.50 per meal. Hello Fresh also charges more for ‘gourmet’ recipes – such as Garlic Herb Buttered Sirloin Steak (an extra $5.99 per person).

This is actually the reason that I decided to look into Home Chef – Hello Fresh previously did not charge more for certain meals and I find it a turn off, especially when they are already more expensive!

Winner: Home Chef

Recipe Design & Execution
Home Chef sent me a plastic binder that included all three of my recipes for the week as well as some overview information. Hello Fresh sends their recipes out loose. This isn’t a huge deal, just a really nice touch as I can then add additional Home Chef recipes into the binder easily.

As for the ease of executing the recipes, the three Home Chef recipes I made worked well. They made sense in how you prepare the ingredients and the suggested timing seemed accurate. Many times when I’m making a Hello Fresh recipe, I have to change it around because there is a more efficient way to do it. For example, if I’m making everything on the burner it doesn’t make sense to turn on the oven to roast some zucchini when I can just sauté it in a pan. Same goes for turning on the oven to toast a piece of bread… HELLO, that’s why we have toasters!

Winner: Home Chef

Portion Size
One of the reasons I liked Hello Fresh better than Blue Apron was because they offered more generous portion sizes. While the servings are for two people, I could usually throw an extra side item together on my own and stretch the meal for the three of us. I found Home Chef’s portions pretty comparable to Hello Fresh. However, Home Chef provided a bit larger portions for both the steak and the salmon. This worked out great for us, because Jack LOVES both steak and salmon… and polished them off!

Winner: Home Chef

Final Thoughts
I was really pleasantly surprised by my experience with Home Chef and will continue to use them. After my next scheduled delivery of Hello Fresh, I plan on cancelling my subscription (or indefinitely pausing it) and replace them with Home Chef for my once-a-month order. I know it is much cheaper to just go and buy my own ingredients at the grocery store, and we do this the majority of the time. I just really like the opportunity to experiment with new recipes in such an easy way!

Give $30, Get $30 Referral Code
If you would like to try Home Chef, you are welcome to use my special referral code: https://www.homechef.com/invite/gbd4Ves20o5rY Those who sign up using the referral invitation will receive a $30 discount off of their first order and I will earn $30 in Home Chef credit towards a future order.

If you do decide to try Home Chef, please let me know what you think! A little tip though, when you sign up for your first delivery go in and immediately “pause” your second delivery date. That way you can try out a box and decide whether you want to keep the subscription before having to pay for a second box. Then, if you don’t like it just hit “cancel” and you won’t get any more boxes or be charged more than your initial payment.

Have you ever used a food delivery service like Hello Fresh, Home Chef or Blue Apron? Tell me about it in the comments!


{Disclosure: This was not a sponsored review. I paid for my Home Chef subscription with my own money. All thoughts and opinions in this review are my own. If you choose to use my special referral promo code, I will receive a credit towards my future Home Chef orders. For anyone who does decide to use the code… my tummy thanks you!}

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Not Running This Year’s Across the Bay 10k

6 Nov

For the second year in a row, my friend Lindsey and I registered to do the Across the Bay 10k. This was actually going to be our third 10k of the year – we did the Sole of the City 10k in April and the Wayfarers Annapolis 10k in June. For someone who always said I have no interest in running more than a 5k, that’s pretty incredible!

We actually really enjoyed the Bay 10k last year (read it here) so we stuck with the same plan of me driving to Annapolis to meet up for dinner and drinks, before I spend the night and then wake up early in the morning for the run.

That was the plan.
That did not happen.

Sure, we did dinner.
Sure, we did drinks.

And more drinks.
And a little more drinks.
Annnnnnnd, we got back around 2am and slept in. Skipping the run.

This is my hangover face.

Instead of getting up early and running, we woke up late and got breakfast. And coffee. ALL the coffee.

After we felt a bit more human we did some shopping – Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack, a nearby thrift store. I found an AMAZEBALLS sweater that I’m obsessed with (sneak peak) and can’t wait to share what I thrifted (soon). Oh, and more food… this time with ALL the French fries.

Sure, we didn’t run. But this weekend was exactly what I needed. Some great girlfriend time + lots of yummy food + more girlfriend time.

Maybe we’ll try to run the 10k again next year…

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