Monday, May 22, 2017

Unboxing: March Anime Bento Box

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Once again, this past month, I was treated to an Anime Bento Box in my mailbox! For those of you unfamiliar with Anime Bento, it is a subscription box filled with anime/manga goodies and a snack from Japan. Each box also includes a tee shirt!

In this month's box, I received another DIY treat kit, a Yuri on Ice tee shirt, a folder, a CD with anime music, two cell phone charms, and a $5.00 gift code to bookwalker, a website selling digital manga and light novels. The one thing that was missing from this box that has always been included in the others was a card detailing the contents, but that's ok, I could figure it out with my friend!

The treat kit was entirely in Japanese, which meant that once again, I had to rely on only the pictures to make it. I don't think I did half bad, as the pictures are very detailed. It ended up being this color changing fizzy sweet. It' wasn't bad, but lacked any definite flavor and the texture was...odd.

Yuri on Ice is not an anime that I am familiar enough with to instantly recognize, but my friend did! This light blue shirt has a skate with the quote “we were born to make history”. It makes a great lounging around the house shirt.

The folder is another pocket style that I don't see in stores around here, but is still pretty useful. Though I don't know the anime, and lack the information card, it seems to be an Alice in Wonderland theme that is nonetheless pretty to look at. I love the detailed artwork in anime stills and there's always something interesting to find.

I was very excited for the CD with anime music, as I think that anime intros and credit songs are, for the most part, super fun! I never skip them when binging! This CD has six tracks, but only three songs. The first three are the regular versions, and the last three are the karaoke versions! I'm honestly not mad, as it makes for good background music.

The two cellphone charms are identical, a pink haired girl, and I instantly knew that they were to become the BFF charms for my bestie and I! Unfortunately, mine broke within the first couple days from getting caught on my seatbelt while my phone was in my pocket. Hers, however, still dangles from her phone case!

The last thing in this box was a $5.00 gift card to the website bookwalker. I knew instantly that I wanted to use it towards getting the next book of the Ancient Magus Bride! Using it was easy, and I'm glad to be aware of a digital source of new manga.

If you think that this box and the others I've gotten sound like something you or someone you know of would enjoy, you can get your own subscription starting at $35.00/month!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Awesome Life Friday #113

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

Here's a bit of what we've been up to this week:

And now our favorite part - the FEATURES !  If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!

How to Make the Best Carrot Cake // Fluster Buster
"This is, hands down, the best carrot cake you will ever taste and you don’t need to be a master baker to pull it off. It has the perfect blend of spices, it’s super moist, not overly sweet, loaded with lots of goodies which gives it an amazing texture."

Farmhouse Pillow Fun: A Tutorial // A Fresh Squeezed Life
"They are simple to make and oh-so cute.  You can customize these any way you want to, and place them on your bed or your couch or a chair.  Or a gift for a friend would be wonderful!"

Kite Craft: Making a Kite with a Paper Plate! // The Country Chic Cottage
"Summer is almost here and this kite craft makes a great activity while the kids are out of school.  You probably have everything on hand that you need to make these as well.  That is my kind of summer activity!"

Homemade Dill Relish Recipe // Little House Living
Terrific water bath canning recipe to make the most of summer's bounty.

DIY Boxwood Topiary with Faux Concrete Pots // Crafts Unleashed
"Need a little something to add to your decor this spring?  A boxwood topiary is just the thing!  You can even create a faux concrete DIY pot with just a few simple steps.  I absolutely love this project and how they turned out.  I know you will love them as well!"


Weight Watcher's Shrimp & Guacamole Wontons // Just Plum Crazy
"The Weight Watchers Shrimp and Guacamole Wontons recipe is not only easy to make but keeps me on plan without going over. With only 3 smart points per serving of 2, I can even have a few more so that I’m not tempted with all the other goodies."

If you are one of our FEATURED bloggers, this button is for you!

Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!

Are you all ready to party?  If you like, we'd love it you'd help spread the word by grabbing our button:

Here we go!

Review/Giveaway: ERO Performance Drinks, Pt2


At the end of my last review for ERO performance drinks, I announced that I would be doing a 30 Day ERO challenge as a part of my health and fitness journey.

What does that mean!? Will there be before and after pics in this post? Yes, that's what everyone likes to see - including me! So just stay tuned, and learn how I have achieved some amazing fitness results with the help of ERO!

For this challenge I committed to eating clean, working out, and fueling my days and more specifically my hard core workouts with ERO! And let me tell you, the workouts were so hard core!

As a reminder from my previous post, ERO is a 6oz shot that features 10g BCAA, vitamins and minerals, all while containing no sugar, caffeine, or calories. ERO delivers focused energy in a small mango, citrus flavored package, making workouts more powerful.

BCAAs are the building blocks of muscle, many of which aren't produced in the body. BCAAs can only be ingested through protein-rich foods or supplements, like ERO!

Not only does our body need BCAAs, as it does vitamins and minerals, they are proven to increase muscle repair and muscle growth, slow muscle deterioration, significantly reduce muscle and overall body soreness after a workout.

As if that wasn't enough, BCAAs also promote weight loss by targeted fat training, and improve mental focus. Who doesn't love all of that!

What makes ERO so much more powerful is that you can do your workout first thing in the morning, do it fasted, and accentuate your fat burn and build your muscles.

Doing a fasted workout does mean that it has to be done upon waking, then eat high protein meal just after, aiming to eat within an hour of waking.

Mmmm egg whites, and Greek yogurt - the breakfast of this champion!

With all this knowledge of how BCAAs work, I used ERO to fuel my workouts, from intense weight lifting sessions to interval training.

I was told recently about the one minute work out by Dr. Martin Gibala, and the power of interval training. Basically, when you train at your maximum capacity, but in intervals, the body is able to re-adjust itself so that with each additional interval, you are able to make better use of more oxygen, and get much more out of the workout.

Dr. Gibala tested his theory by comparing the results of people on a stationary bikes.

Group one did 5 intervals of 30 second sprints with 4:30 min of rest, 3 times a week, Group two did moderate to heavy biking for 45 min 5 times a week.

After 6 weeks, both groups showed the SAME improvement.

Therefore, less frequent but more intense bouts of interval training is just as effective as moderate/long term endurance training.

Word, right?

I know many people don’t have the time to have regular endurance training: to run many miles every day, or go to the gym every day, but I do think that most people can go to the gym once a week for an hour.

The ERO workout, with the right weights, will deliver the most intense training intervals possible. Make sure to take at least a 2 minute break in between each interval.

Here is the ERO workout, done in 3 rounds:

Squat, Bench Press, Dead Lift  

First you warm up - a few reps with just the bar, then add 50-70% of your max.

Round 1-  Do 4-6 reps at the heaviest you are comfortable doing.
Then take a 2 minute break - VERY IMPORTANT

Round 2- Do 6-8 reps while dropping the weight by 10-15%
Take your 2 minute break

Round 3- Do 8-10 reps while dropping the weight by 10-15%

By the time you are doing your 2nd set of dead lifts, you will be gasping for air!

It was suggested, so I did take a bottle of ERO before, during and then after, to enhance endurance, energy, and recovery after.

What is so great about becoming more fit, and having more energy, is the drive and passion that comes with it - the drive for more!

I had goals of losing weight years ago. Goal attained. I had goal of feeling better about myself inside and out. Goal attained! I had goals of looking leaner - getting there. NEW GOAL: enter into a physique competition.

Wait. What? Hold the phone.

Yes. My new goal is to compete in an NPC physique competition this coming October.

This is huge, by the by.

Not just a bikini competition, but next level, leaner, much more muscle definition, though still feminine.

With this huge decision, came a fantastic coach in Jon Andersen, who prescribes workouts, meal plan and provides tons of daily accountability.

My new enhanced workouts are definitely fueled by ERO.

I pound one before, add one to my gigantour (total Jen word) 60oz water bottle for a citrus flavored water for during, and drink one after - this aids in keeping me awake after these exhausting workouts, all without any carbs, calories or caffeine.

When I get a chance to go to the gym, it is always after work, then I have a 40 minute commute home, and need time with my honey. Without the extra boost of energy, I'm asleep super early!

Over the years, I have come to understand that health results are 80% nutrition, 20% exercise, and 100% mindset.

If this past 30 days of the ERO challenge, sticking to a low sugar, low carb, high protein (therefore high BCAA!) diet has shown anything, it is that this statement is true.

Proof is in the pudding kids - I'm down 10lbs of fat, gained muscles mass that is already more defined, and best news yet, my clothes are fitting better!

What is also great is that I am not in this alone! My great friend Kari was the first to decide to do the physique competition.  She talked to my cousin Melissa, and me and together we decided to take on the world!

ERO has been a life saver, and a great partner, supplying both Kari and Melissa with some ERO to fuel their workouts as well.

When I asked for their feedback on their experience with using ERO to fuel their workouts, they mirror how I feel - more energized, and they find the mango-citrus flavored supplement to be tasty.

Our coach, Jon gives us weekly workouts that take pain is gain to the next level.

Even if I were not doing this competition, the ERO workout would be perfect to fit into a crazy busy life.

Jon's workouts, on the other hand, are not by any means easy to fit in, with an average workout time of 1.5 to 2 hours each, and 5 different workouts each week - but I am now training to compete, and ERO has helped keep me going, and aided in recovery time.

I absolutely cannot wait to see where this new, intense and frankly terrifying chapter on my life takes me, and of course dear readers, I will update you.

Rebecca Klein
I recently shared a new dessert recipe that fits into my competition-training meal plan - so definitely fits into yours!

As I have worked through my own fitness journey, I have seen many women transform their bodies from unhealthy to healthy, attaining their weight and fitness goals, and generally feeling much better.

Several go so far as to take their journey to the level of bikini and physique competitions.

One of the women I have been following is Rebecca Klein. She is super amazing, and inspirational to me. I'm including a pic so you can see what it takes to win a physique competition!

ERO BCAA Shots are available for purchase on their website and at select gyms.

NOTE:  Due to a depletion of product, we must sadly cancel our planned Giveaway at this time (see comments for an explanation from ERO).  We look forward to their planned new product, due to be released in a few months.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Swiss Steak & Noodles


Swiss Steak - an American classic that has nothing to do with Switzerland. Instead, the term was an early 20th-Century word that had to do with tenderizing an otherwise tough (and frugal) cut of meat.

The way that works in this recipe is a combination of pounding the beef thin with a tenderizer mallet, and cooking it slowly with acidic tomatoes, which further breaks down the tough m,eat and transforms it into a rich, flavorful dish.

My grandmother and mother did this and I'm betting  yours did, too.  If you've never tried it, give it a try and I'll bet your family will have a new comfort dish that won't break the grocery budget.

(Note: I use a cooking bag for mine, but a lidded casserole dish works fine, too, of course. Just expect to have to do a bit of soaking and scrubbing)

As with so many everyday meals, this is quite variable by preference and what you have on hand - onions and mushrooms can be removed if you like, other veggies can be added as desired (try some frozen peas and carrots or some spinach) as long as you keep the tomatoes.  You could even add some diced potatoes.

Spices can take you just about anywhere you like from Italian to Mexican to Middle Eastern - or stick to a good shake of salt and pepper to please your great-grandmother's palate.  I'm not including specific spices here - what I do entirely depends on what I'm in the mood for that day.

Also, most recipes call for a bit of flour to thicken  the sauce, but if you're rather not, it is still delicious and flavorful without it.

In other words - this isn't a recipe to fuss about.  It's one to get a hearty dinner on the table using what you have.  And goodness knows, we all need a few of those to keep on hand.

Swiss Steak
(serves 4-6)

1 Tblsp flour
1.5 - 2 lbs round, flank or chuck steak (I used a London broil)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 pint sliced mushrooms
1 large can of diced roasted tomatoes
1 Tblsp. minced jarred garlic (or fresh)
1 Tblsp. Worchestershire sauce
Herbs & Spices to taste
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/3 cup flour (optional)
1 Tblsp. flour (optional)
1 cooking bag (optional)

Open a cooking bag into a shallow baking pan, and sprinkle with 1 Tblsp. flour.

Cut the steak into serving portions, and pound thin.  Season with salt and pepper.

Layer half the onions and half the mushrooms to the bag inside the pan, then lay out the tenderized steaks. Cover with the remaining vegetables.

Mix together tomatoes, Worchestershire, garlic and all seasonings, along with flour if desired.  Pour this sauce over the top of the meat and veggies, coating as evenly as possible.

Leaving some airspace above the Swiss Steak, seal the bag according to manufacturer instructions, and stab the bag a few times with a knife to create air vents.

Bake at 325F for 2 hours or so - longer times at low temperatures will make this more tender.

Serve topped over rice, mashed potatoes or - as I like it, flat egg noodles and a seasonal vegetable.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Party in Your PJs #158

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Happy Tuesday!

Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on three different blogs each week.   In addition to Kim from The Cookie Puzzle, you'll also find Party in Your PJs every Tuesday evening at Grandma Ideas, and here!

You'll also find the Awesome Life Friday link-up here at RCHReviews, every Thursday evening at 8pm ET so we hope to see you there as well.

Are you ready to party? I can't wait to see what you've brought to share!

Kim ~ The Cookie Puzzle | Facebook | Pinterest 
Nina ~ Grandma Ideas | Pinterest | Twitter
Lynda ~ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos | Facebook | Pinterest

 Meet the Co-Hosts

Kim @ The Cookie Puzzle 

Kim is a small town girl who love simple things. Simple cookies, simple crafts and simple people. She is a wife, mother to one son and two adorable fur babies. Slightly addicted to reality TV and sitcoms, but she loves curling up with a good book or a good walk while listening to podcasts. You can find her at The Cookie Puzzle, where she shares her love for cookies and crafting. 

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

How is this: Nina is wildly in love with her grandchildren. She delights in doing activities with them that strengthen their relationship –- playing games, doing crafts, snuggling, reading stories to them, and cooking together. She enjoys reading, technology, and traveling. (Tahiti is her most favorite place on earth!)

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Lynda lives outside DC with her husband Michael and elderly beagle, Sadie. She and her daughter Jackie started RCHReviews as a way to spend time together in spite of living across country, and along the way they've added several friends as regular contributors. Between them all, they bring together many different perspectives and lifestyles with one common philosophy - try new things, have fun, and remember you are awesome!

The rules for the group board include:
1. Limit of one pin a day.
2. Just like the party anything goes, but clear wonderful pictures with great descriptions are most successful.
3. Please no Spam ( Spammers will be deleted without warning)
4.  If you pin to the Pinterest Board, please link to the Party in Your PJs Party also, the party runs from 7 pm Tuesdays-Midnight Saturday (Central Time)
5.  Finally have fun and share this group board  with blog friends and followers!  The more success the group board is the more success you will see from your pins.

Want to be added to the group board?  Follow our Party in Your PJs board and email Kim at

Features from Last Weeks Party!

 to see their features - we each pick our own!

All links are pinned to a Party can follow the board on Pinterest...feel free to follow the board, there is lots of inspiratioPn to be found there.

Ok...let's party!

Rules -Link to post, not your home page
-Link to something YOU made, wrote or thought
-No Etsy or Business Pages
-Link Parties, Roundups and Giveaways welcome
- Don't Link and Run! Please visit other links, make friends, learn something new, leave a comment.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: Prep Dish Meal Plan Subscription Service


There is one argument that is a constant in my house. As a matter of fact, the Mister and I have this fight nearly every single night. It's really the only thing we fight about.

What do you want for dinner?

This question is the main cause of friction in my marriage, because he wants to eat what I want to cook and I want to cook what he wants to eat. See our dilemma?

Without question, meal planning is a great solution because you don't have to worry about that dreaded question every night - it's already decided! And, you only have to go the grocery store (my least favorite chore) once that week, getting all of your ingredients in one trip.

However, when we have tried meal planning before, it always seems to end up with the same few meals over and over again, and my begging him for some input about what he wants to eat. After a couple weeks, I just give up.

Just when I was resigned to the belief that meal planning couldn't work for us, I encountered Prep Dish. Prep Dish is a meal plan subscription that offers both Gluten Free and Paleo menus.

Plans start at $14/month and the subscription includes a meal plan for four dinners, one breakfast, a side salad, a snack, and a dessert, along with a grocery list, and instructions for a prep day as well as each day's instructions.

Prep Dish has eliminated my dinner distress and has made dinner time quick and easy, which, as the mom of two little ones, is always appreciated!

With every meal plan, there is a prep day, which takes about two hours (sometimes a bit longer), but after that initial day, the meals are extremely quick to whip together. If you use Sunday to prep, your dinners for during the week are all set, and there's no worry about endless chopping after a long day!

If, however, there is one week where you won't have an entire afternoon to dedicate to meal prep, there's even a week's menu that has a quick prep, which will take only about an hour.

I don't often have the luxury to be in the kitchen for hours because the Mister is active duty military and often gone for a few months. I shudder to think about the state of my house with the kids left without adequate supervision for that long!

Instead, I have found a different way to get around the meal prep day. I color code each bit of prep for each meal, and use that code to do the prep before dinner like normal.

Each month, you get access to the menus for every week, as well as the quick prep week, for both Gluten Free and Paleo diets.

These recipes are written with the intention of a family of four eating them, two adults and two children. With only one or two adults and one child eating these meals, I have found that the leftovers after about two weeks can get us through nearly an entire week of dinners!

I've been using Prep Dish for about six weeks now, and I am going to continue using Prep Dish to make my life, or at least my dinners, much easier!