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Category: Fun Stuff

  1. Friday, May 18, 2018

    Friday Show and Tell: Joy’s Red Beans and Rice + the Chompers Podcast

    Happy Friday! I have two quick things to share today. These two things are awesome. Ready?

    Joy the Baker's Red Beans and Rice Recipe

    Joy’s New Orleans-Style Red Beans and Rice

    When I went to New Orleans about 347 years ago I bought a bag of Camellia Red Kidney Beans, a New Orleans classic. And then I came home and put the beans in the pantry. And then I didn’t do anything with them in forever and the beans were sad. But now they’re happy because they finally made it into a pot. One of my blogging friends Joy the Baker moved to New Orleans a few years ago and has a recipe for Red Beans and Rice on her site. I trust Joy, so I decided to give her recipe a try.

    Oh goodness I really loved this dinner. Joy’s Red Beans & Rice are delicious. And I didn’t change the recipe at all, which means I’m just gonna go ahead and send you on over to her site! (Okay, I did double the amount of pancetta and sausage, a decision I firmly stand by. We also served it over brown rice, which worked great.)

    Also, people from New Orleans say you have to use Camellia’s Red Kidney Beans. And you can buy them online so there really is no reason not to.

    Also, I bought a canister of Tony Chachere’s Famous Creole Seasoning for this recipe and have since used it three times on other foodstuffs, too. So, that is also a worthy investment.

    Chompers, the kids' tooth brushing podcast that rocks

    Chompers Podcast

    If you have any kids in your life that you have any kind of influence over then you need to keep reading. CHOMPERS IS THE GREATEST THING EVER. What is Chompers, you ask? It is a twice-daily podcast show for kids that teaches them how to brush their teeth and gets them to brush for a full 2 minutes. They tell jokes, share facts, do quizzes…the list goes on. It’s the best. Owen, our 6 year old, especially loves it and has listened to the Chompers podcast twice a day every day since we discovered it. And he totally brushes the whole 2 minutes every time.

    Seriously, go subscribe STAT. (I hear even some adults listen to the podcast to make sure they get their full 2 minutes of brushing in, too!) Click here to visit the Chompers website or simply subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.


  2. Friday, May 11, 2018

    Friday Show & Tell: Cool Food, Kitchen Gear and More!

    I have so many things to share today, ranging from a non-wheat pasta product, a non-dairy milk alternative, a super cool kitchen tool that made making cut-out cookies delightful, cool shoes AND a live show for the family that is sure to be awesome. Let’s just jump right in, shall we?

    Banza Chickpea Pasta

    Banza Chickpea Pasta

    I don’t follow many celebrities on social media, but I do follow Kristen Bell (who I actually saw speak last week and she is tiny and adorable and smart and she even sells really delicious bars that save lives, go check them out!). Back in February she posted this cute Instagram video about Banza pasta. I’ll be the first to admit I ordered six boxes almost immediately after watching it. I have eaten the pasta a few times now and am ready to report that…

    I love Banza! It smells and tastes a little different than normal pasta. Because, duh, it’s not normal pasta. It’s made out of chickpeas. Which means it’s full of fiber and protein and all kinds of good nutrients. But, also, when you top it with whatever you normally top your pasta with, it totally tastes good. If you’re looking for a wheat alternative or just want a pasta with a healthy boost, I recommend Banza!

    Oatly

    Oat milk by Oatly is a great dairy alternative!

    Okay, so I have pretty much cut dairy from my diet. I still use butter, but whenever I eat anything with cream or milk, I feel awful. Which means I haven’t had a decent latte in months, which is a cryin’ shame. Then, last week, I went to one of my favorite local coffee shops Revolution Roasters and discovered they had “oat milk” as one of their milk options. After a lengthy discussion with the barista (because once you get me talkin’ ’bout food I can’t stop), I gave the oat milk latte a try and SKIPPED HOME SINGING TRALALA BECAUSE I WAS SO HAPPY THE END.

    Oh wait. That’s not the end. I went home and ordered a whole lotta oat milk from Oatly, the very oat milk my barista raved about.

    So far Oatly’s oat milk is my favorite milk alternative I have tried. It has a unique flavor, as all milk alternatives do, but it’s my favorite so far, and the flavor is more subtle than say almond or coconut milk. It kind of tastes like, well, granola or oatmeal, but, like I said, it’s subtle. And the oat milk plays nice with my body. No nuts to worry about, no dairy to worry about and I feel good afterwards. Oatly is a plant-based, sustainable product, which is another big reason I am happy to support them.

    King Arthur Rolling Mat

    The rolling mat for baking form King Arthur Flour

    Oh my goodness I am so happy I bought this rolling mat. SO HAPPY. Here’s the background: my grandma and my mom always had the Tupperware rolling mat, which I received as a wedding gift many moons ago. I know they loved it, but I never really did (sorry Mom and Grandma!). The mat would slide around and over time it started cracking and falling apart (which made me sad because nostalgia, but I haven’t missed it in the kitchen as far as cooking is concerned). Once my Tupperware rolling mat bit the dust, I bought a new rolling mat from King Arthur. It came in the mail and I promptly put it away for a few years. It stayed in the cabinet, patiently waiting, until yesterday.

    This mat is seriously awesome. It stays put on the counter beautifully, it’s really big, and it just plain worked great. I highly recommend it! Click here to buy a King Arthur Rolling Mat for yourself.

    My New Favorite Birkenstocks

    My New Favorite Birkenstock Styles - Mayari and Daloa - from This Week for Dinner

    I didn’t start wearing Birkenstocks until a few years ago. Once I did, I was hooked and it’s pretty much the only shoe I wear (as made apparent by the T-shaped tan line on my feet that I just can’t shake). The Gizeh style has served me well and I own three pair. But, I’ve gotta admit, I was getting a little tired of them. So, I started poking around, looking at different kinds of Birks. I ordered a pair of the Mayari sandals in Stone and the Daloa sandals in Mocha, just to try on, mind you. And, well, I kept both pair. They’re my new faves. Which means now I’ll have even more Birkenstock tan lines on my feet. 😐

    Wild Kratts Live!

    Wild Kratts Live US Tour

    My kids love Wild Kratts on PBS. A lot. Even Cate, my 7th grader. I just learned that there is a Wild Kratts Live show and the U.S. tour kicks off in September. We are totally going no matter what. But it’s a surprise, so don’t tell my kids. (Hopefully they don’t read this, fingers crossed!) Click here to get tickets for a show near you!

    In Conclusion…

    Please don’t tally how much money I have spent on this post. Thank you and good day.


  3. Sunday, March 25, 2018

    Show & Tell: Things That Made Me Cry

    Today I have a special edition of Show and Tell for you: Things That Made Me Cry. Fun times! Two of these totally awesome things are music related and the third has to do with food. All three are wonderful.

    This Week for Dinner Show & Tell: "May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers" is must-see viewing

    May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers

    I must give credit where credit is due…my husband Nate has been listening to the Avett Brothers for ages and is the reason I know who they are. They are hands down one of my favorite bands and their concert a few years ago was one of the best we’ve ever seen. Judd Apatow must share the same sentiments as we do because he recently produced a documentary about the brothers and their band for HBO, May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers. Please go watch this documentary. It is just so wonderful I don’t know what else to say. Oh, I do know one more thing to say…I cried pretty much non-stop through the last 45 minutes of the movie. IT IS SO GOOD.

    And, one final thing: if you don’t know who the Avett Brothers are, start listening stat. Their most recent album True Sadness is perfection, but here are a few of my favorite older songs: Murder in the City (this one made me cry at the concert, it was embarrassing), Morning Song, and (of course) I And Love And You. (Photo credit: HBO)

    This Week for Dinner Show & Tell: Yo-Yo Ma in Concert!

    Yo-Yo Ma

    I took the girls to see Yo-Yo Ma at Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego. Yo-Yo Ma played the Brahms piano trios with pianist Emanual Ax and violinist Leonidas Kavakos and it was, well, beyond words. Three masters playing music written by another master on world-class instruments (some with the name “Stradivarius”). There were a few moments where the violin and cello played harmonies where I felt overwhelmed by what we had the privilege of watching and listening to. Another fun part of the night was Yo-Yo Ma’s countenance: you can just tell the man is filled with humility, kindness and joy. (And after hearing a few personal stories from Cate’s cello teacher about him after the concert, well, he is very firmly on my list of favorite humans.) If you ever get the chance to see Yo-Yo Ma in concert, make it happen. Click here for his scheduled concerts and appearances.

    This Week for Dinner Show and Tell: The Yakitori scene in episode 5 of Netflix's "Ugly Delicious" is beautiful

    Ugly Delicious: Season 1 Episode 5

    I know I already told you to watch Ugly Delicious on Netflix, but I do want to specifically call out a beautiful moment in the series. In episode 5 of the debut season, David Chang visits Yakitori Masakichi in Tokyo, where Chef Masahiko Kodama makes David yakitori, a Japanese-style skewered chicken. The chef grills Niigata-sourced chicken seasoned with Niigata salt over Japanese binchotan charcoal. David is pretty much overwhelmed by the perfection of what he tastes. When he tries to tell the chef just how amazing his food is, the chef’s reaction is, simply put, beautiful. Click here to watch Ugly Delicious.

    Happy listening, viewing and crying!


  4. Friday, March 9, 2018

    ‘Ugly Delicious’ is as great as you’ve heard

    Just a quick Show and Tell for you today. Have you heard the buzz around David Chang’s new series Ugly Delicious on Netflix? Think the buzz sounds like hyperbole? It’s not. We love the show. Go and watch.

    Ugly Delicious on Netflix is AWESOMEImage credit: Netflix

    That said, let me warn you that if you happen to fall asleep while watching the show, you will probably have a dream (nightmare?) where you finally decide to try crawfish and halfway through eating said crawfish you look at your plate where you have set down the crawfish you were just eating and you see it lying on its back on your plate and then you notice that its little legs and claws are slightly moving. Because it’s alive. You are eating a crawfish that is still alive.

    The show, however, is worth the risk of having this dream. I promise. Enjoy! (The yakitori scene in episode 5 almost made me cry!)

    *Note for parents: there is some spicy language peppered throughout the show, so probably best viewed without the little around.


  5. Thursday, November 16, 2017

    ATTENTION! ONLY ONE WEEK UNTIL THANKSGIVING!

    I love it when Thanksgiving is a little early because then there’s more time in between Thanksgiving and Christmas but HOLY CRAP HOW IS IT ONLY ONE WEEK UNTIL THANKSGIVING?

    Just letting you know I’ve tagged all of my Thanksgiving goodness on the blog. Simply click HERE to scroll through it all. You’ll find all kinds of goodness, including from-scratch green bean casserole that is to die for, cranberry slush, SERIOUSLY THE BEST WAY TO COOK TURKEY EVER and so much more. (Did I mention the turkey? Oh, yeah, okay, I did, but really, check out my turkey roasting technique.)

    Happy Thanksgiving prepping!


  6. Friday, October 20, 2017

    Show and Tell, Grab Bag Edition! Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer, Deodorant, Netflix Birthday Fun & Prius Envy

    Hello, friends. I have a veritable grab bag of things to share with you today, including a recipe, deodorant, Netflix and car talk. Yes, totally random. But also fun! 😉 Let’s start with the food!

    Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer Recipe from LAND O LAKES and @janemaynard

    Pumpkin Spice Butter Spread + Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

    Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer Recipe from LAND O LAKES and @janemaynard

    Last week LAND O LAKES treated me to a surprise package, complete with a shiny new Chemex coffee maker and everything I needed to make Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer using their Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Butter Spread. We are loving the Pumpkin Spice Butter (seriously, I had to cut Cate off…she would have eaten a loaf’s-worth of toast just to consume the butter), so I felt like I needed to tell you about it! Plus, I did in fact make the Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer and it was delicious. I am now sharing the recipe with you!

    Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer Recipe from LAND O LAKES and @janemaynard

    Show and Tell, Grab Bag Edition! Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer, Deodorant, Netflix Birthday Fun & Car Envy
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • ½ cup half & half
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 2 teaspoons LAND O LAKES Pumpkin Pie Spice Butter Spread
    Instructions
    1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Microwave, stirring occasionally, 30-45 seconds or until butter spread is melted and sugar is dissolved.
    2. Beat with hand mixer for 90 seconds or until mixture is frothy. (Note: I whisked by hand.)
    3. Store in refrigerator in a container with a tight-fitting lid up to 1 week. Shake well before each use.

    Native Natural Deodorant

    Native Deodorant, my new favorite thing! from @janemaynard

    Years ago I wanted to switch to natural deodorant but had a bad experience (read: Hello, Stinky Lady!) and gave up. but the fact I’ve been smearing aluminum on my body every day for over 30 years has always nagged at me. Well, my sister-in-law Cora recently demanded that I try Native deodorant. She was insistent. She pretty much made me buy it. Well, I must admit that I am grateful Cora was so bossy! I LOVE NATIVE. So, so, so, so much. I have the Coconut & Vanilla, Coconut & Shea and Apricot & Peach scents and I love them all. Note: the scents are seasonal, so a few of those flavors aren’t currently available, but there are a bunch of new ones that sound great!

    Why do I love Native so much?

    • First and foremost, the deodorant actually works. I have less body odor than I did with anti-perspirant and my clothes are picking up less scents, too. Cora (and the website) said that I would need about 2 weeks for my body to adjust and for the deodorant to work well. I started using the deodorant during a heat wave and loved it from Day One. But please, if you try it, give it at least 2 weeks to kick in (in case you are not lucky like I was). Also, if you need to freshen up later in the day, just re-apply and magically things smell better.
    • Native’s customer service is amazing. AMAZING. I originally ordered the summer scent pack and did not like the floral scent that came with it. Native made an exchange beyond easy. Plus, even before needing customer service support, I loved their email communications. They do a great job every step of the way
    • I really like the scent options they have. The deodorant just plain smells good without being overpowering.
    • For those with baking soda allergy, they also have a sensitive version that does not contain baking soda.

    I must admit I thought it was a little funny how excited Cora was about her deodorant. I mean, how can someone be that happy about deodorant. But here I am. On the Native bandwagon and happy to be here. I’m in all the way! Thanks, Cora!

    Netflix Birthday Fun!

    New! Netflix Birthday Messages for Kids! from @janemaynard

    Did you hear about the new birthday messages for kids on Netflix? They launched the birthday messages just in time for Owen’s birthday last month and he loved them. Owen’s birthday party involved taking eight 5- and 6-year-old boys to the LEGO Ninjago movie, followed up with a dinosaur cake at the park. Having the LEGO Ninjago friends and the Dinotrux friends sending birthday wishes his way totally made Owen’s day!

    To find the messages, simply type “birthday” or “birthdays” into your Netflix search bar and all 15 birthday message video options will appear. Definitely a cute way to kick off your little one’s special day!

    Why I Wish We Weren’t So Frugal and Had Bought a New Prius

    2017 Toyota Prius Test Drive from @janemaynard

    Nate has been driving a Prius for over 3 years and has been very happy with it. When his lease was up this past spring, we decided to be frugal and buy the car he was driving rather than start a new lease with the latest Prius. I was perfectly happy with that decision until 3 months later when Toyota lent us a new 2017 Prius for our east coast trip. I love the new Prius. We shouldn’t have been so responsible after all! What were we thinking? 😉 I am grateful I had the chance to try the Prius out for a month (thanks, Toyota!), but now I totally have Prius envy. Here are a few of the things I loved about the car:

    • The car basically drives itself. The radar cruise control works beautifully. I used it ALL THE TIME. For example, when we drove from Cape Cod to New Hampshire, I followed my sister-in-law using cruise control. The system detects the speed of the car in front of you and adjusts accordingly, so Jess was basically doing all the driving. There is also a lane departure alert system, pre-collision and pedestrian detection system, and the car can park itself.
    • Even better gas mileage. I got over 50 miles per gallon the entire trip.
    • For such a small car, there  is a ton of storage. The back is roomy, and there is a net you can use to store smaller items. The storage was great for short and long trips alike.
    • I’ve mentioned this before about Toyota, but I love their remote lock system. It’s just awesome.
    • There was also a spot for doing that fancy cordless phone charging. My phone doesn’t have that capability, but I was sure wishing it did! I also like how the middle console is set up better in the new Prius versus previous models.
    • The navigation system worked better than my Google maps app on my phone. Impressive! And the car told me what the speed limit was at any given time, which is especially handy on those east coast back roads!
    • The one thing I did not love was the SofTex synthetic leather seat material. It is more eco-friendly than other synthetic leather materials and does not use any animal-based material, but if I had to choose I would go with fabric or real leather. I just didn’t love the feel of the seats or how they looked when inevitably sand and other stuff got into the seams.

    Phew! I think that’s all I have to share for today. As usual, Show & Tell is for the whole class! Feel free to chime in with your own finds and recent loves in the comments!

    Please note: I have a relationship with Netflix as a member of the Stream Team, which means they don’t pay me a dime but do send me cool fun stuff occasionally. Toyota provided me with the Prius for our trip. Land O Lakes provided me with product. I have no official relationship with Native deodorant.


  7. Thursday, October 5, 2017

    The Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake That Was Beyond Beloved

    Owen’s birthday was last week and I have yet to share his birthday cake with you all. I love making fun birthday cakes for my kids and my kids really look forward to planning out their cake each year. For his 6th birthday, Owen decided he wanted a dinosaur birthday party. He and I sat down and scrolled through Pinterest together to find the perfect dinosaur birthday cake. Owen picked out a few options, kept changing his mind about which cake he wanted, and then learned about chocolate candy that looks like rocks. Once he knew that candy existed he was hooked on making what turned out to be the easiest dinosaur birthday cake ever. Thanks, Owen!

    Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    So, how do you make the easiest dinosaur birthday cake ever?

    1. Make a 2-layer round cake. Frost with chocolate frosting. Be generous with the frosting, especially on the top as those dinosaurs need a nice layer of mud to sink their feet into so they can stay standing!
    2. Buy chocolate candy that looks like rocks/pebbles. (I found the candy at Cost Plus World Market. They have pebble candy on Amazon, too, although the candy at Cost Plus were cuter and cheaper.)
    3. Place said candy on top of the cake.
    4. Pick out 3 of your child’s toy dinosaurs, stick them on top of the cake. (Dinosaurs should be relatively small – the big ones tip over.)
    5. YOU ARE DONE. You’re welcome.

    Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    I used Matthew Mead’s chocolate cake recipe, which you can find at the end of this blog post. I made a chocolate buttercream frosting for the outside of the cake – recipe below!

    Click here for the the inspiration for this cake!

    Click here for the other easy dinosaur birthday cake idea (hello, cutest fossils ever) that I was totally trying to get Owen to choose. I had him convinced for about 2 hours, but then that rock candy ruined everything. Except it didn’t because Owen’s cake was super awesome.

    Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake from @janemaynardThat’s Owen’s “I knew the rock candy cake would be as cute as the fossil cake, Mom” face.

    Here is how I made the chocolate buttercream frosting. Once again, people who usually do not like cake loved my cake. These recipes are winners. Also, use HIGH QUALITY cocoa powder. I’m telling you it makes a difference. Promise.

    Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) salted butter, room temperature
    • ⅔ cups cocoa powder
    • 6-7 cups powdered sugar
    • 6-8 tablespoons milk or cream
    Instructions
    1. Beat butter with a mixer (I use my KitchenAid with the paddle attachment).
    2. Using a fine mesh sieve, add the cocoa powder to the butter. (The sieve prevents the cocoa from getting lumpy.)
    3. Gradually work in the powdered sugar, alternating with the milk/cream and beating well after each addition. I put a range for the powdered sugar and milk/cream measurements. Start with 6 cups and 6 tablespoons each, then add more powdered sugar if the frosting is too thin, or more milk/cream if it is too thick. Frosting should be a spreading consistency that still holds its shape.
    Notes
    This makes enough frosting for a 2-layer 8- or 9-inch cake, with a little leftover.

     


  8. Sunday, September 3, 2017

    Burger Dogs and Week 552 Weekly Menu

    Happy Labor Day weekend, friends! I have a little something fun for you to potentially make at your barbecues this weekend, plus a menu. That’s right, I’m actually planning a menu this week. My goodness, I CANNOT believe I went two weeks without posting a menu. That is something I have not done in over 10 years, but I suppose there is a first time for everything. Honestly, it’s just been a crazy summer and we ended it with a bang. I decided to just give myself a break and not worry about it. Jane of This Week for Dinner from a few years back would be horrified. Miss a weekly menu post? QUEL HORREUR! But the world kept on spinning and this week I’ll give it a go again!

    How to Make a Burger Dog from @janemaynard

    But before the menu, I need to share this fun idea with you. One day when we were grilling up hot dogs and hamburgers, someone in our family (not sure who…maybe Nate? or one of the kids?) thought it would be funny to make a hamburger into a hot dog shape and serve it on a hot dog bun. I was like, “Sure, why not?” and proceeded to make hot dog-shaped burgers, a.k.a. burger dogs. The kids were downright giddy, it was really fun. So, the burger dogs totally worked and the kids loved it! It’s not that they taste different or anything, it really is just the novelty of it all. If you were to serve burger dogs as a meal, I would recommend chopping your lettuce and tomatoes as opposed to slicing, but other than that have at the burger dog like you would a regular hot dog or hamburger!

    How to Make a Burger Dog from @janemaynard

    How to Make a Burger Dog from @janemaynard

    I don’t have instructions because, well, all you do is shape the meat into what looks like a hot dog and then cook it like normal. Easy peasy! Now go and make burger dogs to celebrate Labor Day!

    Menu time…

    How to make Burgers Dogs! Plus this week's dinner plans from @janemaynard, including free printable PDF of the meal plan and ingredients list!

    MONDAY:
    – Labor Day Cookout! The food will be the usual suspects I’m sure 🙂

    TUESDAY:
    – BLTs

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Caprese Salad and baguette

    THURSDAY:
    – Grilled Brats
    – Salad and watermelon

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    Bistro Chicken
    – Salad and mashed potatoes

    Click here or on the image above for a printable PDF of this week’s menu and ingredients list.

    As usual, if you have a meal plan for the week, please share it in the comments!

    And, before we go, I just want to take a moment to send love to anyone reading this affected by Hurricane Harvey. All week it has felt strange to me to be going about my daily life, knowing of the catastrophe unfolding for so many. For those of you looking for ways to help from afar, my friends at Mom2 created a great list of ways parents and kids can help with the hurricane relief efforts. Much love to all!


  9. Wednesday, June 28, 2017

    How Shopping at My Local Farmer’s Market Reinvigorated Life in the Kitchen…and Got Our Family Eating Healthier!

    This post is sponsored by the American Heart Association Healthy For Good movement. The views, opinions and positions expressed within this post belong to Jane Maynard of This Week for Dinner and do not necessarily represent those of The American Heart Association unless explicitly stated.

    Local Tomatoes from Cyclops Farms | Photo from @janemaynard

    My new year’s resolution for 2017 was to cook more. I know it might seem strange to have a food blogger make this her resolution, but the fact of the matter was I had let cooking take the back burner (pun intended!). So, as 2017 kicked off, I decided to really focus on cooking again. And that focus has worked and made me a much happier person as a result.

    2016 was a rough year for several reasons that I won’t get into, but it really is no surprise that making dinner wasn’t a top priority for a good portion of the year. We were eating out a ton, which always makes me uneasy because I know we’re consuming way more calories, fat and sodium than we should be eating. There were a lot of pancake and cereal nights, too. I’ve made peace with how dinner went down in 2016 and have told myself “everything in its season.” But I am also feeling so good about the fact that I’ve been in the kitchen more this year, even during times that get especially busy.

    Cyclops Farms in Oceanside, CA | image from @janemaynard

    One of the keys to the success of this year’s resolution has been shopping at our local farmer’s market each week. There is a farmer’s market every Wednesday (all year!) in my town and after 3 1/2 years into living here I had never visited. I KNOW. It’s just so weird because things like farmer’s markets and CSAs make me so happy! So, as part of the resolution to cook more, I started going to the market each week. We also discovered a small, organic farm smack dab in the middle of a nearby neighborhood that is perhaps the happiest place in San Diego, with devoted shoppers and restaurateurs carefully selecting their produce each week.

    I cannot tell you how AWESOME this change in my life has been. First off, it’s fun telling my friends that I am going “to the market.” They think like I sound like a European grandmother and never quite know what I’m talking about.

    Cyclops Farms in Oceanside, CA | image from @janemaynard

    Beyond sounding like a European grandmother, going to the market each week has kept me much more in touch with what food is in season at any given time and our meals have reflected that natural seasonality more and more. And I love buying local – most of the farmers represented are located in my town or neighboring communities. I love knowing that our family is having a positive environmental impact through buying so much more of our food close to home.

    There’s been another unexpected benefit of going to the farmer’s market each week: my cooking has gotten more fun and creative. As you know, I’m totally about planning a weekly menu. My shopping list is always built around that plan and I rarely stray from the list when I am at the store. Going to the farmer’s market has gotten me to have a little more fun with our meals and add a bit of flexibility to the planning. Yes, I go into the market with a list, but I also let the fruits and vegetables that happen to be there that week drive what we eat. It’s made cooking fun and creative. (If you’re looking for a little creative inspiration before your next shopping run, consider shopping and serving the rainbow!)

    And, of course, the biggest benefit has been that we are eating way more homemade food, which is just plain healthier than takeout and most restaurant foods. I have been meaning to write this post about my new farmer’s market habit and the American Heart Association finally gave me the kick I needed to get it done. I am so happy to share my experience as part of their Healthy For Good campaign (did you know it’s National Fruit + Vegetable Month?), which encourages us all to Eat Smart, Add Color, Move More and Be Well.

    Remember that rough year I had in 2016? It kind of got me down. I felt uninspired and the stress of everything definitely caused me to rely too heavily on eating out. This post from the AHA about unhealthy eating as related to stress really spoke to me, especially numbers 2 and 6! I am telling you that this new focus I have had on nourishing myself and my family through food has been transformative. Yes, I still feel stress. Yes, I am still getting over some of that 2016 nonsense. But taking the time to focus on food has been amazingly uplifting. Plus, getting outside and walking for my grocery shopping sure has made life happier, too!

    I’m sure you’re wondering if I get all of my food at the farmer’s market…and the answer is no! First I hit the farmer’s market then pop over to my local grocery store to get other staples that weren’t at the market. I’ve never really loved food shopping, but now I look forward to it each week!

    So, that’s the update on this year’s resolution to cook more. The farmer’s market is my new happy place and I love the effect it’s had on our eating and on my life in general. And it’s totally helping me keep my new year’s resolution.

    Happy cooking!


  10. Thursday, May 11, 2017

    A Beautiful Up-Cycled Mother’s Day Giveaway + Maybe The Easiest Mother’s Day Craft Ever (as in, NO WORK FOR MOM)

    Sponsored by General Mills Cereals

    Happy almost Mother’s Day! To celebrate I have a fun and EASY craft idea for the kids in your life as well as some love for TO THE MARKET, one of my most favorite companies. And a beautiful giveaway that will have 20 winners (woohoo!).

    To The Market Up-Cycled Cereal Box Necklaces

    As you know I’ve worked with General Mills Cereals in the past. They approached me recently about coming up with a fun craft idea using up-cycled cereal boxes with my kids. I AM NOT A CRAFTY PERSON. But when I told my kids about the project they were all in. You see, they are crafty people. I’m not entirely sure they are my children. Anyway, my kids were doubly in when they learned they would have to eat some of their favorite, yummy cereals, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios, in order to make the craft happen (empty cereal boxes are a necessity!). Basically, this is their favorite post on my blog ever.

    Up-cycled Cereal Box Mother's Day Flowers

    As a lovely Mother’s Day gift, General Mills Cereals sent me a necklace and bracelet set from TO THE MARKET. TO THE MARKET is a company that sells survivor-made goods from around the world. I’ve written about TO THE MARKET before and founder and CEO Jane Mosbacher Morris is one of my favorite people. She was even on my podcast at one point! (It’s one of my favorite episodes, by the way. Jane is the BEST.) Anyway, TO THE MARKET is helping SO MANY WOMEN and their products are beyond lovely. I have a very special place in my heart for their work.

    To The Market Up-Cycled Cereal Box Necklaces

    The jewelry that General Mills Cereals sent was created by Haitian TO THE MARKET artists, with beads made from up-cycled cereal boxes. The beads are gorgeous. You simply cannot believe they are made from cereal boxes. Both my girls are enamored with the jewelry (I think Anna might steal it) and felt very inspired for their own cereal box crafting!

    Up-cycled Cereal Box Mother's Day Flowers

    Up-cycled Cereal Box Mother's Day Flowers

    Which brings us to today’s craft. For real this is the best craft ever because the parent doesn’t have to do ANYTHING. Just give the kids some empty cereal boxes (the more colorful the better!), scotch tape and colorful straws. Then say, “Go make flowers!” All three of my kids, from ages 5 to 12, had a blast cutting up the boxes and getting creative. Anna’s flower ended up being three dimensional, Cate made an adorable bumblebee for the bouquet, and Owen went completely off book and made a ladybug with a heart to show that the ladybug loves me. I consider it all a crafting success! And I didn’t lift a finger. (Well, okay, I helped clean up the billions of cereal box cuttings strewn about the kitchen. But it was worth it.)

    Up-cycled Cereal Box Mother's Day Craft

    Lucky for our family my beloved mother will be here for Mother’s Day this year. She will be taking home the best bouquet ever!

    Giveaway time! General Mills Cereals and TO THE MARKET are providing TWENTY of you lucky people with your own necklace made with upcycled cereal box beads. You can’t buy these necklaces, so this is the only way to get one! Here is how to enter: (Comments must be posted by Midnight PT May 25, 2017.)

    BONUS BONUS BONUS: If you head on over to TO THE MARKET’S Stories Blog, they are also giving away these necklaces and you can enter there, too! Yippee! Winners were randomly selected and have been notified via email. Thank you!

    Happy Mother’s Day!

    I partnered with General Mills for this post because they are committed to strengthening communities around the world through remarkable initiatives, nonprofits and causes that help strength people and the planet. General Mills Cereals partnered with TO THE MARKET to create these handcrafted pieces of jewelry from up-cycled cereal boxes as part of this commitment and to celebrate all the moms, caregivers, aunts, sisters and special heroes who fill the world with love.

    Learn more about General Mills Cereals and its delicious line of cereals including Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charm, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and many more at www.generalmills.com/cereal.