Bahamas: Photo Gallery

I took a short cruise to the Bahamas with my partner's family to celebrate his mom's 60th. It was an amazing time! Check out our fun in the sun. Special thanks to the Grants for letting me tag along (and cracking me up every minute of the trip lol). 

3 Reasons Why I Cancelled My Blue Apron Subscription

I like to call myself a pretty good cook. I know my way around the kitchen, and I learned a thing or two from the amazing chefs in my family: my mom, grandmother and aunt. My schedule makes it hard for me to cook as much as I would like these days. Despite that, when I do get a moment to throw something together, it's a relaxing and rewarding experience. I put on my music, light a candle, dance around the kitchen and try to create a masterpiece. Whether it's a home cooked meal or an outing with the Circle City Supper Club (shameless plug), good food and the ritual of sharing it with others is one of my favorite things. So when I was gifted a free trial subscription for Blue Apron, I was all in. The "meal kit delivery" trend is hot right now, and I definitely wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It also gave me an excuse to try out some new recipes and use them as practice for food photography. Win Win. 

So let's get into it. Here are my thoughts on the Blue Apron service, what I enjoyed and what ultimately led me to cancelling my subscription. 

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What I Got

Blue Apron promises everything you need to make a complete meal with farm fresh produce, meat with no added hormones and sustainably sourced seafood. You select a plan sized to feed your family. Your kit arrives at your door every week, shipped on ice to keep it all fresh. 

I selected the 2-Person Plan, which includes ingredients for three unique meals every week. All for a total of $59.94, with no shipping cost. They also have larger family plans. Meals work out to be about $9-10 each. 

I received ingredients and step-by-step instructions for meals like Nashville-Style Hot Catfish, Tandoori Style Chicken and Rice, Roasted Pork & Mustard Pan Sauce, Chicken & Sweet Pepper Tostadas and Mozzarella & Arugula Paninis. All of the ingredients were labeled and packaged up nicely so that you can get organized and store what you're not ready for in your fridge.

What I Loved

My first impression of Blue Apron is that the food is delicious! I really appreciate the fact that I was working with fresh ingredients. The quality of everything was great.  

The meals that I made were very unique and not your every day, go to recipes. That alone is probably the best benefit I found from the service. I mean, I had had Nashville hot-chicken before, but I never considered taking that style and making hot-catfish. I think BA also has a thing for fresh salads and slaws. I got at least one in every delivery. Super easy stuff like mixing vinegar, salt, mayo, sugar, etc. over chopped cabbage. Delicious, but again, not something I would normally put on the menu. My favorite meal was probably the Chicken & Sweet Pepper Tostada. Really simple and repeatable, but packed a lot of flavor. 

I also really loved the fact that after I gave the recipes a try, I was able to remix and recreate them on my own. Each kit comes with recipe cards that you can save for future reference (they are also available online). I spruced up the already yummy panini with my own blend of Italian spices and sautéed shrimp. Brownie points for impressing my taste-tester/boyfriend, who is not easily impressed. 

loved this tostada, definitely making it again. 

loved this tostada, definitely making it again. 

What Could Have Been Better

So at this point, you're probably wondering why I cancelled my Blue Apron plan. As much I enjoyed the recipes, there were a few things that I could not get past. 

  1. The portion size was just too small. Listen, now I understand that not every meal needs to be a buffet. But my family is from the south, and we don't cook "small". It's just how I'm wired. I also like having left overs to take for lunch the next day, because that saves me time and money. That ain't gonna happen with Blue Apron.
  2. The instructions were convoluted and extra AF. With every new recipe you learn in life, you can expect a bit of a learning curve before you can just whip everything together. But I was honestly flabbergasted by the complexity of some of the instructions. It's like they were written without wanting you to know the end goal, so that you could be surprised at the end. Don't have me "place mozzarella on a 9x9 square inch cutting board and slice into fine pieces, setting aside in a Pyrex mixing bowl for later use", when really you could have just said, "cut up some cheese and put it on the bread." All of this hoopla also led to lots of dirty dishes. I just...I don't have time. 
  3. It's too expensive (for what it is). Now I admit, BA can be a convenient way to make sure you have options for dinner. It's cheaper than dinning out, so if you need ways to cut back, this could be a great option. However, if you are someone that already has a decent cooking ability and don't mind going to the grocery store, it's not your best option. I really see BA as a treat. Something fun to try here and there, but not practical for my everyday lifestyle. You can get more bang for you buck by shopping and prepping yourself. 

So tell me, have you tried Blue Apron or any other meal delivery kits? Do you think they are worth it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Also, be on the lookout for more food photography from me soon! 

Drinks With Drea: Episode 1

So, we did a thing. And I am so excited to share! As you guys know, I love to meet and learn about other creative entrepreneurs. That often takes the shape of interviews on the blog. I decided to merge that with a theme that I've been sharing on my Instagram feed for several years. #DrinksWithDrea. I wanted to create a fun way to chit chat about home decor, style, good drinks - basically just have a good convo. I plan to invite guests to talk with me from time to time. Other days I may just give a tutorial, or discuss whatever is on my mind. 

For this first episode, I'm introducing you to what Drinks With Drea will be. I'm also talking with India Gary, the owner of Shodah Spalon, a salon and spa located in Fishers, Indiana (just outside of Indianapolis). India is an entrepreneur with lots of gems to drop about her journey and growth as a business woman. Check out her Instagram page to stay in the loop with the salon. India and I connected over our love for IKEA and home decor in general. You guys should know by now, that the new IKEA Fishers is opening on October 11th. By the way, I was at Media Day for the store and I am so impressed with what they have to offer. If you have time to hit the Grand Opening, you definitely should! They are giving away hundreds of pieces of furniture including sofas and chairs. Also, if your birthday is October 11th, you get a gift card! Listen, just go. Checkout some photos from that day plus the Shodah Spalon, down thread. 

Watch the first video and let me know what you think! Should I do more video content? What topics do you want me to discuss? Let me know in the comments! 

 

Special thanks to DFG Media for videography services!

Snaps from the interview at Shodah Spalon with India. 

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And from IKEA Media Day...big takeaway from this tour, I am super pleased to see a lot of new product, plus edgier finishes and color for the pieces we love. Loved seeing rich colors and bold pieces. 

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These Turkish rugs may have been my favorite piece. Each rug features unique patchwork. 

These Turkish rugs may have been my favorite piece. Each rug features unique patchwork. 

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Oooh wee, we covered a lot today! As always, give me a holler if I can do anything for you. These last few months of the year are going to be jam packed with home styling projects and family photo sessions (and a little vacay sprinkled in there...). Don't forget to subscribe to the newsletter to stay in the loop. 

Later!

Target's New Home Decor Brand is a Dream: Introducing Project 62

If you've been keeping up with the news at Target, you know that they have some big changes going on with the lineup of brands we know and love. I'll admit, change is hard. So when I heard that some of my favorite lines like Mossimo and Merona were vanishing, I did a dramatic wall slide. As it turns out, we can keep hope alive. Target announced that they would be replacing some of their original brands with new and improved options. So far, they are delivering on this promise in a major way.

Meet Project 62. The new home decor brand featuring mid-century modern accessories and furnishings, all at an affordable price. This is one of four new home decor lines Target will be introducing, each with their own unique aesthetic. Let's be frank here - Project 62 is going to give West Elm a run for their money. I said it. And I'm here for it.  

The first line up of this collection boasts everything from furniture, bedding and lighting to dining and entertainment pieces. Take a look at my favorite picks so far and clickthrough to shop:

Sorioano Square Arm Channel Tufted Chair - $249.99 Available in blush, nav, grey and linen. 

Sorioano Square Arm Channel Tufted Chair - $249.99 Available in blush, nav, grey and linen. 

Marble Clock - $24.99. The marble trend is not going away and I don't mind.

Marble Clock - $24.99. The marble trend is not going away and I don't mind.

Hand Made Cotton Wall Hanging - $24.99 I've been seeing lots of woven wall hangings lately, they do a great job of adding texture and achieving that bohemian vibe. They can be pricey, so this is a great alternative. 

Hand Made Cotton Wall Hanging - $24.99 I've been seeing lots of woven wall hangings lately, they do a great job of adding texture and achieving that bohemian vibe. They can be pricey, so this is a great alternative. 

Dinnerware clockwise as shown: Marble Cheese Slicer $19.99, Porcelain Serving Bowl $16.14, Cheese Knife Set - Copper $16.99, Tiley Stoneware 16pc Set $59.99, Izon 5 pc Silverware Gold Set $19.99

Dinnerware clockwise as shown: Marble Cheese Slicer $19.99, Porcelain Serving Bowl $16.14, Cheese Knife Set - Copper $16.99, Tiley Stoneware 16pc Set $59.99, Izon 5 pc Silverware Gold Set $19.99

Throw Pillows - $19-24.99 It's all about geometric lines and patterns.

Throw Pillows - $19-24.99 It's all about geometric lines and patterns.

Take a look at the new goods from Project 62 and tell us what your eyeing in the comments. Have you purchased any items yet? If so, give us your review.

Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter! Keep up with everything happening on the blog and be the first to know about giveaways and special offers. 

 

All Photos Courtesy of Target. 

IKEA is Coming to Indy: 7 Decor Finds That I Love

MEATBALLS.

Yes. No more loading up for that trip to Chicago or Cincinatti. Ladies and gentlemen of the Central Indiana area, IKEA is set for it's grand opening in Fishers on October 11th, 2017. I suggest you prepare yourselves accordingly. Expect all the hoopla for their Grand Opening, with folks lining up to get free goods and check out the new space as early as 48 hours in advance. So if your looking to be one of the lucky peeps that gets a free sofa, you may want to start lining up soon. 

I love me some IKEA because I know I can find amazing pieces without hurting my pockets. I am all about mixing high end pieces AND quality items at a forgiving price point. IKEA allows you to do so seamlessly, especially if you lean towards their mid-century stylings. And let's be real, a lot of these expensive home furnishing stores do not have the manufacturing quality to match their price tags. I'm not gonna call out any names, but guys - please remember that you don't have to break the bank to have a fly home. 

I rounded up some of my favorite IKEA finds, a few of which are in my home now! By the way - I'll be attending IKEA's Media Day, just prior to the Grand Opening. Keep an eye on my IG stories for some live action in October. 

7 Decor Finds that I Love

1. LILL Lace Curtain - 4.99

I'm a big fan of IKEAs textile department. I have these sheer curtains in white and I use them for everything! Photo props, Christmas tree skirt and of course, as actual curtains.

I love to stock up on serving bowls, because it seems like I never have enough when guests are over. The Blanda Series has gorgeous and practical bowls in bamboo and stainless steel.

The IVAR cabinets are one of my favs because you can DIY the heck out of these babies. With a little paint and creativity, you can create some amazing custom looks. Click for more DIY ideas. 

Seen here are three of these classics, side by side. These go well with just about any style. I love the natural finish. 

Almost like grandma's crystal set, but you can still afford brunch this weekend. Priorities. 

Ultra modern and stylish. The VEDBO chair is simply a great seating option. This one is not available online, so you will definitely have to be on the lookout in stores.  

I have an obsession with ornate mirrors! They make such great statement pieces. This one is bold, and will stand out in your space. Anchor it in an entry way or above a buffet table for some flair. 

Tell me in the comments, what's on your shopping list for the new IKEA store?! Let me know if there is anything I can help with. 

How to Slay in Dubai: Fashion, Food and Travel Tips

Hello Dubai!

Summer 2017 has been a whirlwind. I ended a busy season of work, home renovations and traveling with a trip to Dubai. If you've been following my Instagram, you've seen a peak into my experience via Stories (sorry Snapchat. It's not you, it's me). It was amazing to say the least. Read on for my take of this opulent city and a few tips that I learned during our stay, including how not to get scolded by the mall police.

Also, I took a lot of photos. Check out Part Two for the full gallery of our adventures.

Fashion

So let me say this first...if it is style that you seek, Dubai has it! The shopping experience is boundless. You could spend an entire day in the Dubai Mall. There is an incredibly interesting juxtaposition of modern style against a backdrop of traditional customs. This can pose some challenges though, especially for tourists navigating the dress code (READ: our first day of exploring resulted in a friendly tap on the shoulder from mall security to cover up a bit more). Yes. That happened. Even with our best efforts to dress modestly, we still missed the mark. Embarrassing, but look - I took the fall so that you don't have to. Don't be me. Here's what I recommend to keep it fabulous while meeting the women's dress code:

  1. Dubai is quite progressive in terms of dress and locals don't expect you to completely change your wardrobe. But, you must dress modestly while in public spaces - ie Malls, Mosques, the Market, etc.
  2. In Public - keep your neckline, shoulders and legs mostly covered. Plunging cleavage will get you hit with a strong side eye. If you plan to visit the mosques (which you should!), you will not be permitted with bare arms. For mosque style, I recommend a loose, floor length dress with sleeves. You will also receive a head-covering for your hair.   
  3. Nightclubs and Beaches - This is where you can relax your style a bit. Feel free to wear your body con dresses and short skirts to the clubs. Do dress to impress, because the locals will be bringing the heat. Most of the clubs are inside of hotels, where it is completely acceptable to show some skin. If you're taking a dip in the pool, two pieces are just fine. Skip the thong bikini, and be sure to have some nice coverups to get you from your hotel room through the lobby. 
  4. A Note on the Heat - If you head to Dubai in the summer, you're gonna look at the forecast and say to yourself, "Oh, I've been in 100 degree weather before. I can handle this". No. No you can't. This is a different type of heat. This is desert heat. This is like, Amazon jungle heat. Slap ya mama heat, if you will. Keep that in mind when you're packing. Think light, breathable materials. Billowy maxi dresses were my go to. 

at the Burj Khalifa observatory

hanging out poolside at the Sofitel Dubai The Palm

Food & Drink

Guys. The food. Oh man. I probably underestimated how good the food was going to be, but what I learned was that in Dubai's luxurious tradition - just about every restaurant boasts a five star menu with top chefs from around the globe. They are big on themes, and every detail is meticulously executed from presentation to taste. It's a foodies dream! Do you know how many pictures of food I took?! 

We feasted at Smoqoholics, an amazing hookah lounge and restaurant.

The experience at Cavalli Club - five star service, impecable food. The DJ gets started around midnight, and don't forget to check out the -18 C Ice Lounge downstairs!

The best part about the food scene is the deals you can find with just a quick Google search. Pro Tip: before you head out, do a search for "ladies night Dubai", "brunch specials Dubai", etc. Ladies can get a free happy hour at hundreds of lounges and clubs. Most of the hot spots have specials where the prices are cut in half. I could go back just to explore the nightlife, swanky lounges and rooftop bars. I also loved the fact that many of the menus had amazing mocktails for those of us who aren't indulging, but still like to sip on something cute. 

Travel Tips

What else? Dubai has so much to offer in terms of "things to do". We spent eight nights, and barely scratched the surface. Here are my top suggestions on things to add to your list:

  1. Explore the Old Souk. The market area was a lot of fun. This is where you can find traditional clothing, spices, souvenirs and BEAUTIFUL gold jewelry. Put your bartering hat on and prepare for some pretty aggressive sales tactics, lol.  
  2. Visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. As a designer and photographer, this part of the trip blew my mind and was really important for me. The architectural detail and just overall design is hard to truly capture with a photo. But of course I tried.
  3. Book a desert tour. There's plenty of them, and you can find decent deals on Groupon. We went on the Arabian Adventures, which is sponsored by Emirates and it was so much fun! Dune bashing, camel riding, belly dancing. All of that jazz. Do it. 
  4. Stay in the Palm. Might I recommend, Sofitel The Palm Resort. The Palm is a beach area, just outside of downtown. It's a little off the path, but I loved the quiet seclusion after a long day of adventure. The staff was amazing, and we could not want for more. It was a truly gorgeous property, and our Junior Suite was a gem. Confession: we may or may not have harassed the front desk team for copious refills of a secret lemon-mint juice, reserved for guests upon arrival. I made friends with the staff at Olivier's Cafe after visiting every day for my morning latte. Thanks Reza for our Turkish Coffee, it was quite the treat! 

 

Please note, all statements and opinions are my own and represent my true experience. I have not been sponsored by any of the brands or companies noted above. 

Dubai Adventures: Photo Gallery

Checkout the flicks from my girls trip to Dubai! For the full read on our travels, check out Part One, How to Slay in Dubai: Fashion, Food and Travel Tips