20 January, 2015  |   Comment

Linking Log

Stroller Party USA

Happy Tuesday!
Here are five links that kept me scrolling this week.

Top Five Digital Media Launch Mistakes
J
ust because you have a proprietary CMS doesn’t mean you’ve done it. Love this breakdown of some pitfalls of the current publishing model.

Mater Mea
Mater Mea is chock full of mothers of color sharing life philosophies> It’s positive. It’s artistic. Every day I learn something more from Anthonia’s powerful point of view.

Choosing Red Wine for your Wedding
Did you know I write for the Monogamy Wines wedding blog?
(Now you do.)

Smoke
“Your life wants to kill you. Get lonely and let it. What’s the worst that could happen?”

20 Detox Salads to Get You Back on Track
I’m starting to get bored with salads. And it’s only been two weeks.
Foodie Crush knows what I’m in the mood for before I’m in the mood for it with these gorgeous salads. Plus, those images!

19 January, 2015  |   1 Comment

Meal Plan Monday

Prediction: This week will overflow with loving words. #mealplan

Last night, you’ll see we had roast chicken. Sunday’s roast spiced chicken was flavored with a mix of 1/4 cup ghee, 1 tablespoon seasoning salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp rubbed sage and garlic rubbed under the skin. Since I am Whole 30-ing it this month, I like to frontload the week with foods I can eat for lunch. Last night’s chicken leftovers will go in Monday’s lunch.

Sunday, January 18
On Sunday, I also made Wednesday’s butternut squash soup. The flavors just get better over time. Sunday night I also cut the beef and carrots for Monday’s pot roast.

Tuesday, January 20
Tuesday is taco night. Due to what’s in the fridge, I’ve already changed the taco meat from pork carnitas to old fashioned ground beef tacos. My picky family goes loco over ground beef tacos. I use Penzey’s Taco Seasoning. Ha! Now you can too! Taco night leftovers also do well in breakfast burritos or taco bowls the next day.

Tuesday night I’ll also make the spaghetti and meat sauce for Thursday’s dinner. I doubled up on meal prep on Sunday and Tuesday — one of those things that don’t take as much effort as it looks in writing — just requires a little preplanning!

Wednesday and Thursday, January 21 and 22
I have late night meetings on both Wednesday and Thursday, so I’ll make sure at least half the meal is pre-made. Poor James has things hard enough, juggling tap and drama and ballet and a full time job and people.

Friday, January 23
We’re extending the fun of James’ birthday for another 40th birthday dinner with our friends. We’re really excited about this one.

Saturday, January 24
Wrap the whole week up with a Helpie Selfie. We’ll have a leftover party just in time for next week’s meal plan.
(You know how that is.)

9 January, 2015  |   4 Comments

Pantry Unmessening

Apartment Therapy is featuring their January Cure. And since the Whole 30 wasn’t enough January obnoxiousness, I’m now dragging my home into it.

Wednesday’s task?
Clean and organize my pantry.

Ready to judge me?
Especially about that jug o’Crisco?

Before:

Judge away! This is my pantry, before.

I found 3 boxes of cake-cup ice cream cones, three (THREE?) bags of oyster crackers and had to come to terms with the fact that I’m a person who has 6 different kinds of salt.
(The judging comes full circle.)

After:

Angels sing after my pantry gets the treatment

Dry food storage in American kitchens can be way too spacious, way too dark and way too sticky. Mine is all three.

Three things I learned from cleaning my pantry this week

1. Wait until I’m in the mood to toss.
If I’m in a mood where I’m feeling scrimpy or under-resourced, I will spend all my time consolidating Turmeric jars. Today I was in the mood to toss and my kitchen thanks me for it.

2. Organize for the person I am, not the person I want to be.
My pantry needs to have snacks at kid level. I need to be able to grab a bay leaf without looking and everything I put in a mason jar just for looks will go bad. I also love Penzeys Spices more than the average bear.

3. Forgive myself and do better
I feel pretty terrible about the entire garbage bag of wasted, expired, stale food I threw out. I can do better. I will do better.

The more I live, the more I know what works for me. I’m thrilled to have a program to follow – just as long as I don’t read the comments.
(Never read the comments.)

Play along! I want to see (judge) your pantry too!

1 January, 2015  |   Comment

Things I did right: Meal Plans

Last night I went on a bender of tallying up all my shortcomings — listing all the times I overindulged and underappreciated. When I finished, I moved on to my general thoughtlessness, selfishness and bad temper.

Oof.

This morning I awoke with a shame hangover with only one cure.
Counting up the things I did right.

In 2014, I planned my meals every gosh dang week.

She likes short ribs

Here’s the post where I outlined the logic behind my meal planning — it is still mostly true. But I have a few more tips that made meal planning work even harder for me this year.

1. Publicity:  Instagram helped. Making it public forced healthier decisions and a regular schedule. Join me, won’t you?

Thai Pork Lettuce Bundles

2. Veggie Box: We are active CSA participants – we signed up for Farm Fresh To You  which delivers veggies to our door every Friday. If you’re in California, you can too – if you’re inclined, use the code HELE4346.

We’d originally cancelled our membership, we just couldn’t justify dumping so many uneaten veggies each week (Despite my attempts, I could get no toddlers to try turnips). But then, they introduced box customization. We can pick nearly exactly what we want in our box. We can also see the prices to compare with our local grocery store. This means that we’re getting healthy fruits and veggies we’re likely to eat, delivered to our door every week. For fruits and veggies in season, it’s cheaper than Safeway.

They are called Shishito Peppers because the bottoms look like little lions! (Shishi in Japanese.) Rawr!

2. Scheduling: I pick a time for weekly grocery shopping and work backward from there. If I have an hour and a half late Saturday morning, I set aside 20 minutes before that to make my meal plan and shopping list. The meal plan and shopping list are two sides of the same piece of paper, so I remind myself what to get. I won’t shop more than once a week, so this saves us time and energy.

August so far

3. Better leftovers: We threw out a lot of food at the first half of the year — so I had to get  better about planning meals with lunches in mind. I front-load the week with dinners that give good lunches and then we taper down the quantity, eating more leftovers as we get to Saturday.

Dorothy is sad at dinner

Things that didn’t work for me
Amazon Subscribe and Save: I couldn’t justify the sinking feeling in my heart when I saw the gas, effort and waste that went into a regular delivery of paper towels and toilet paper.

Couponing: I do my best with the Safeway app — but I just don’t have the time or mental space to keep coupons straight.

Too Adventurous: We have space in our brains for no more than one brand new recipe a week. Pinterest makes this challenging, but for a family at this time in our lives, it’s best to stick with what we know.

I have a few hundred meal plans from over the years collected on Flickr if you want to see what we eat for dinner on the regular, peep and judge freely!

Here was the one meal plan we stuck to in its entirety – pens at the ready we’ll be even better in 2015
Last week was the first in YEARS we ate everything according to meal plan. (I think we can do it again.)

Happy meal planning to you!

 

1 February, 2014  |   3 Comments

February NaBloPoMo

Bothe

If you’re in any sort of job where you’re the go-between from the public to a product — like if you were a buyer for BevMo — I imagine that you would have a learning curve from “this is what I personally love” to “this is what’s popular in the world right now.”

For example:  thanks Target buyer, I’m glad you like Shabby Chic, but mid-century owl mirrors are what’s making the Instagram ladies say “Adorbs!” and you need to make sure there are 500,000 of them in stores.

Well, I sort of do that for my day job.
But for bloggers.

For my job, I recommend themes and bloggers for campaigns. In that I walk the line between recommending for paid content, what I, personally love (Long Rambling Narrative Posts About the Exquisite Joy/Pain Of Our Human Existence) and what’s actually going to work for the next campaign.

I see clients’ campaign whims swing back and forth:
We want storytelling!
No! Pinterest!
JUST MAKE THEM SAY THEY LOVE THIS NEW FEATURE!
Selfies are in/not in!
I’m SO over illustration.
Bigger Pictures!
Not THAT BIG!
Snapchat.

Wait.
What did they want again?

There’s always a good fit, but it’s mostly luck.
This person is the right age, this person has the right color hair, this person already drives this car. It’s rarely something you can prep for — this being in the right place in your life at the right time.

The places where sponsored content comes from changes fast. The requested media is all over the place. During this exciting time, it’s all crazy — you can make informed choices, but you can’t be everything to everyone.

There’s no one way to be the “top” right now outside of doing what you do.

Bothe

So this short month, I’m taking my own advice.
I’m having fun with this medium.
I’m going to be me.

I’m not going to stress out and worry about the next big social network, but I’ll experiment with those too.

Thanks for granting me the freedom to experiment.
I like your open point of view.

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