Unsponsored Amazon Fresh Review

Balancing my life is always a work in progress. I try to cook somewhat-healthy meals for my family, but I’m constantly tempted to grab take out. Life is busy, right? I like to order groceries from Amazon Fresh and have them delivered to our door. It’s been a huge help and made my life less stressful.

J and I have been Amazon Prime members for probably around a decade now. We use Amazon often: cat food, bird food, toilet paper, clothes, etc. And now I’ve been using Amazon’s grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh, for a few months.

Ordering is simple!

I pay to use Amazon Fresh because the convenience is worth it to me. For example, I went to visit my parents in Florida this summer, and I was able to order groceries while I was there and have them delivered right after I got home.

Keep in mind that our flight wasn’t going to land until close to midnight Saturday night, and on Sunday, I would have to take my MIL back to her house in Virginia. There’s more to it than that, but anyway, the point is I started to stress out at how much had to get done as soon as I got home and how little time I had to do it.

Then I remembered I could just have groceries delivered, which would save me 1-2 hours on a Sunday afternoon. Huge stress relief! And that’s what I did.

I’ve ordered through the Amazon website, and I’ve also ordered using the Amazon app on my iPhone, so it’s something I truly can do on the go.

I’m signed up to receive status updates and notifications about my orders. This one was for a late-night delivery.

When I go to order, the first thing I do is reserve a delivery time. You can choose either attended or doorstop delivery. Basically, do you want the delivery driver to ring your door bell and wait for you, or just leave your stuff there? I go with the latter, and I’m signed up for text alerts, so I know when my groceries have been dropped off outside my door.

Once you choose a delivery window, that time slot is held for you for 1 hour, so you have 1 hour to fill your “cart” and check out. You can go into the account after the fact and add more things to your order if they haven’t started filling it yet. Amazon will list a time on their site that you have to finish managing/changing your order by. Since I’m signed up for notifications, Amazon will also send me a message letting me know by what time I need to finish making updates to my order.

We signed up for the Amazon Fresh subscription service, so we pay a monthly fee of $14.99. Additionally, we have to buy at least $50 of groceries, or we’ll be charged a delivery fee of $9.99. That’s never been an issue because I always order more than $50 of groceries! There’s an automatic tip of $5 applied to the order, but you can change it up to 24 hours after the delivery. It used to take me 2 hours at the grocery store to shop and checkout every weekend, and that didn’t include driving. For example, if I want to go to Whole Foods, it takes 20-45 mins just to get there depending on traffic. Twenty mins would be first thing Saturday morning.

So not counting the tip, I pay $14.99 a month to not spend 8+ hours driving to and from and in the grocery store. That’s like 3 of my macchiatos from Starbucks. I love coffee, but I’d rather have the grocery delivery! Oh, and Amazon Fresh delivers Whole Foods brand stuff too, so it’s a win-win for me.

The delivery service isn’t perfect. Sometimes something gets broken. I had a yogurt container break once, not enough to make a mess in the delivery bag, but obviously I wasn’t going to eat it after that. I immediately went online to my Amazon account and filed for a refund since the product was damaged. It was an easy process.

Cracked yogurt container

The worst thing that has happened so far is that one time the delivery driver forgot to deliver one of my bags. I received my freezer items packed in dry ice and my bag of dry goods, but the bag of fridge items wasn’t on my doorstep.

I immediately contacted Amazon. The rep refunded that bag, and she said she would contact the driver to see the driver could still bring the groceries.

Well, the bag did show up on my doorstep, but it was about 5 hours later. Amazon packs the fridge bags with frozen water bottles instead of ice packs, and the water in the bottles in my fridge bag were starting to melt by that point. I tossed most of the food because I wasn’t sure it was safe. I kept the eggs and some of the salad stuff.

The food arrives in paper bags that have been taped closed.
Freezer items arrive inside an insulated sleeve with dry ice on top.
Fridge items arrive in a big plastic bag with frozen water bottles instead of ice packs. We dig free bottled water. 🙂

That was a very disappointing experience. Even though my money was refunded, I still had to go out to the grocery store. That’s what I was trying to avoid in the first place.

A forgotten bag has only happened once. As long as that unfortunate experience stays a rarity, I’m going to continue to use Amazon Fresh. The convenience is perfect for our current lifestyle, and the monthly fee is worth it for us.

Right now, if Amazon Fresh is offered in your area, and you are an Amazon Prime member, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial.

(Affiliate link below: If you purchase anything through my link, I will earn a small fee that I will most likely spend on toys for my budgie, Deathrooper.)

Have you ever used Amazon Fresh? If so, what did you think?

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Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

Since we moved to the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area several years ago, I’ve wanted to go camping at Assateague Island National Seashore, which is off the Maryland and Virginia coasts. It’s actually about 20 minutes south of Ocean City, Maryland. The island is known for its wild horses, and the book Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry is set there. Did you read the Misty book when you were a kid? I did, and I also read some of the sequels.

I occasionally check the reservation website for open campsites, but the national park campground there is usually booked 6 months ahead of time, so it’s been difficult to get in. Well, about two weeks before the Columbus Day weekend, I just happened to browse the website and found an open campsite for that weekend! It had to have been a cancellation, so I immediately booked the site because I figured it may be my only chance to visit. There is a state park campground there too, but from the reviews I’ve read online, it’s not as nice as the national park.

I, Little J, my sister in law, and one of my nephews ended up camping there together. We had an oceanside campsite. That means we actually camped in the sand right next to the beach. The ocean was just over a sand dune from our tent! There is also a bayside campground at the national park, but I just loved being on the beach.

As soon as we drove off the bridge and onto the island, we saw wild horses! In fact, we did see wild horses every day that they were there, and they even roamed our campsite! That actually turned out to be a problem, so here’s a tip for you. If you see the wild horses sauntering over to your campsite, hide all of your food items in your car, or they will trash your campsite looking for the food. We learned that the hard way. We didn’t leave food out unattended; we were there, but the thing is, you’re not allowed to come within 10? –I think it was 10– feet of the horses, or you risk getting a fine. We were also warned that although they’re not afraid of humans, they are wild. They will kick, and they will bite. So that meant that when the horses walked into our campsite, we backed away from them; that’s all we could do. We just had to wait until they were finished investigating whatever they wanted and left.

The horses are the alphas on Assateague Island!

There are no hot showers on the island, just cold-water showers, which I think would be fine in the summer, maybe even refreshing. Also, the toilets are basically luxury porta potties. I wish I had taken photos. Next time we go there, I’ll take photos and share them in a post. They are a step up from your regular porta potties. They’re up on their own platforms, and they’re very large. There’s room for a stroller or wheelchair to fit inside. I thought they were fairly clean too. There are built in night lights, so you can still see inside them at night.

I read online reviews that the mosquitos were very bad on the island, so we packed a lot of bug spray, but we didn’t really see a lot of bugs. I think it was because we went camping in October, so if you’re camping in the summer, I would recommend you bring repellant just in case especially if you’re going to do any walking near the bayside where there’s a lot of brush and swampy conditions. I did get a few bites at our campsite on the last day. It had rained the night before, so I think that brought the bugs out.

We also had sunblock for the sun since there’s very little shade on the island, especially at the oceanside campground. I think that’s a must for this campground. I have a gazebo with mosquito netting, but because of the wind, I didn’t try to put it up.

So speaking of the wind, I recommend getting extra long stakes or utility stakes for your tent. They should be some kind of stakes that are appropriate for sand. I bought some screw-in utility stakes from Walmart, and they held the tent down even when it was storming. For our 6-person tent, I used 8 stakes.

In spite of the horses trashing our site and my SIL’s car battery dying (yeah, that happened), I loved it. Little J and his cousin just played in the sand all day, digging and looking for sea shells, etc. It was awesome to have all of that available at our campsite.

Shenandoah National Park is still my favorite place to camp, but I think Assateague Island National Seashore is my close second. Like Shenandoah, there is an entrance fee into the park. At the time that we went, the entrance fee was $20 per vehicle for a one-week pass. The annual park pass (Assateague Island only) was $40.

A national park pass for all parks is currently $80, but military families are able to get a free annual pass. All of the fees may change as there is currently a proposal to charge more for high-demand parks like Yellowstone, Shenandoah and Assateague beginning in 2018.

Have you been to the National Seashore?
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Campfire pizza log


It’s almost Labor Day -a busy camping weekend- so I wanted to share one of my new favorite camping meals, a campfire pizza log!

Over Memorial Day weekend, we went camping at our favorite place to travel to and camp at, Shenandoah National Park. This time we went with a co-worker of mine and his family. We decided ahead of time to share some meals, so I started researching online different yummy meals for camping. I wanted to up my game since I was cooking for people other than my family!

One meal I came across was the campfire pizza log, but I couldn’t find a site that gave step-by-step instructions. Without instructions, we had to wing it, and we definitely have some lessons learned, which I thought I’d share.

To make the pizza logs, I used:

  • Refrigerated pizza dough (the kind you roll out from a can)
  • Pizza sauce
  • Pepperoni
  • Shredded cheese
  • Olive oil spray (okay, I didn’t actually use this, but I should have, and I will next time)
  • Nonstick foil

The logs are pretty simple to prepare. I made three large pizza logs (three cans of the refrigerated pizza dough), which is what you’ll see in my photos; HOWEVER, because the larger logs didn’t cook evenly, I recommend doing smaller pizza logs, so two logs from each can. I’ve written the directions below to reflect what I will do next time.

Directions for two small pizza logs:

    1. Cut two large pieces of nonstick foil. They should be large enough that you can completely wrap up the pizza logs. It’s better to cut them too big than too small. You can always trim off the excess with some kitchen shears or scissors!
    2. Have the nonstick side facing up off the counter (you’ll want the pizza logs on the nonstick side) and spray the nonstick with an olive oil spray or something similar. This will help keep the pizza log from sticking to the foil when you unwrap it after it’s been cooked.
    3. Before rolling out the pizza dough, cut the dough log in half. You’re going to make two smallish pizza logs from each can of dough.
    4. Place each piece of dough onto its own piece of foil.
    5. Roll out the pizza dough on the foil until each piece is in a rectangle.
    6. Spread the pizza sauce on top.
    7. Layer the pepperoni and cheese. (Obviously you can use whatever toppings you want.)
    8. Roll the pizza back up into the shape of a “log.”
    9. Fold the foil over top of the log and secure all the edges by rolling them in.

Camping Food

Camping Food
I didn’t do it, but cut this in half! Make two pizza logs from this sucker.

Camping Food

Corn and Pizza Logs
The smaller rolls to the left are pieces of corn on the cob. The three long rolls on the right are the campfire pizza logs.

That’s it! I actually froze ours in the freezer since we didn’t intend on eating them the first day of camping. Once they were frozen, I wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in our camping cooler with ice. I was hoping that as the ice melted, the plastic wrap would help keep any water out of the logs, and it did seem to work.

Camping Food
The two longer rolls are the pizza logs. The small and medium rolls are corn on the cob.

When it was time to cook the pizza logs, we got a nice fire going, and then we placed the pizza logs on the flat griddle above the fire. As I mentioned above, the pizza logs didn’t cook evenly. The logs were getting a nice char in the center within 20 minutes, but these larger logs that I made were so long that the edges were too far away from the fire and weren’t picking up heat. That’s why I suggest making two pizza logs from each can of refrigerated pizza dough. That will get you a more evenly cooked pizza log, and they should be done around 30 minutes.

Camping Food
You can see that the center part of the pizza log is a little more cooked and charred than the edges. That’s why I recommend making smaller logs, so the edges can also reach the fire.

The cooking time is going to vary depending on how hot your fire is and the proximity of the pizza log to the fire, so keep that in mind. You’ll want to peel back the foil about every 10 minutes to check the logs. Use tongs to help you check safely, and if you wear fabric oven mitts … keep them away from the flames!

Camping Food
So tasty inside!

The three cans of refrigerated pizza dough ended up making enough pizza logs to feed 4 adults and 3 small children with leftovers. I also served up some fire-grilled corn on the cob.

Have you ever made a pizza log? What is your favorite camping food?

 

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