Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Goals for the New Year

I am a work in progress in many regards. I will work towards several goals in the coming year, but I don't so much feel as if I'm making New Years Resolutions as I am striving to do better in general. I aim to eat less refined sugar, move towards a more organic and vegetable based diet, and find more ways to embrace the little bits of goodness all around me in the coming year.  The difference is, these are actions I have worked on in the past and know that I will continue to strive towards.  I will not be done with them at any point in the coming year, and I'm so okay with that.  Also, I'm not resolving to give up anything. I am almost positive I will eat cheeseburgers and have bad days in 2015, it is what it is. 

New Year's Resolutions are believed to have originated in ancient Rome, as people would make promises to their gods to return borrowed items and pay off debts.  I'm not completely sure why, but I find this to be so positive. Ancient Romans were aware that they could do better and were willing to strive for that. I think having goals to eat a little better, be a little kinder and work a little harder is wonderful, but I think the best part is that you are making a goal. I don't mean that we are all screwed up and should probably do something with ourselves. By making a goal, you are recognizing something you could do a little better and focusing your intentions.

You have to wonder if the resolutions of the Ancient Romans were better kept at the time. I think the aspect that hinders many goals and resolutions is the grandeur of the goals. While losing weight may be a good goal for you, eating more vegetables, or exercising 3 times a week, may be more obtainable resolutions which would enable you to meet your overall goal. If you were making a shopping list, wouldn't it make more sense to list the individual groceries that you needed rather than just writing "groceries" on your list. In this sense I have come up with my own obtainable goals:
  1. Experiment with and using more honey, molasses, sucanat, sorghum, and 100% maple syrup
  2. Develop meat based dishes into more vegetarian friendly options
  3. Start waking up earlier to allow for a calmer morning and less hectic commute
  4. Running and walking more- this isn't for health as much as a time of reflection
Need help coming up with your own goals and resolutions? Here are a few interesting articles that may help:
      I love the focus of these articles from The Everygirl
      Also, Erika's less and more approach
      Lastly, a fun and ridiculous way to hash out goals

Hope your New Year is Bright!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Blue Apron

I have found a favorite new way to cook.  Blue Apron is a subscription service which you can opt in an out of and personalize to your dietary preferences.  I initially loved the idea of using fresh and seasonal produce and learning new recipes but wasn’t sure about the value.  Having someone plan, purchase, and lay everything out for you sounded like a great time saver, but I haven’t been leading such a hectic life that I don’t have time to come up with a few meals and make a weekly trip to the local farmers market and grocery store.  Also, spending $60 eating out or even ordering in for 6 meals (3 dishes of 2 servings) would be a great deal, but I don’t generally spend that much on home cooked meals. 

After trying Blue Apron, I definitely see the value in the system.  This company goes into so much detail in their directions (with additional tips online) as well as their products.  I think I contributed 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper to the last meal, but really and truly, everything else was provided, right down to the butter and seasoning.  Not only are you provided with fresh and seasonal produce, but also the opportunity to try things that may not be readily available at your local supermarket.  Even better, I feel like the recipes could be easily reproduced (with potentially a few substitutions).  In addition, the 2 meals that each recipe produces are so large!  Granted, I don’t eat large portions, but what was supposed to be 6 meals, really gave me 10-11 delicious meals.  

Earlier this month, I received the chicken schnitzel with watercress, apple, beet and red walnut salad, the shrimp & mustard green laing with jasmine rice, and the orecchiette pasta with roasted cauliflower, capers and garlic breadcrumbs.  While the chicken schnitzel was good, the orecchiette pasta was my absolute favorite.  I loved that each meal really brought together ingredients which I would not have thought to combine and did so in such a delicious meal.   I will definitely continue to use blue apron and encourage you to try it as well.  I received a free week of Blue Apron through a friend, but was not contacted or compensated by Blue Apron. I just loved it enough to share!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas to All

I  hope your Christmas is filled with delicious food and loving family and friends.  Merry Christmas and God Bless.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Brunch with the Birmingham Bloggers

Saturday morning, Brittany and I met in Birmingham for a brunch hosted by the Birmingham Bloggers.  The brunch was held at The Nest in Avondale.  Located just across from Avondale Brewing Company, The Nest is a beautiful new event space in a very cool historic area.  The brunch kicked off with a food photography/instagram workshop with Rachel, a food stylist for Cooking Light and blogger at Stupid Good Rachel. She covered lighting, angles, and backgrounds, among other things I had never thought of and offered great pointers.  

Rachel also coordinated the wonderful four course meal.  In addition to our yogurt bowls which we somewhat beautifully assembled (part of our workshop, we had a super green salad with pistachios, tahini and satsumas, baked eggs with crispy proscuitto and lemon zest home fries, and a citrus scented scone with grapefruit cream. With great food, wonderful people, and beautiful decorations like this, I'm reminded of how much I absolutely love brunch

I hope you manage to fit brunch into your busy life this week.  Do you have a favorite brunch-like meal?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Five Favorites for Friday

  1. I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family. We all gathered around the giant table that my dad built, and had way too much delicious food. Mom has a way of making even family dinners look beautiful. I took a carrot cake. This is my absolute favorite dessert to bake and the recipe is from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, in which I have yet to find a sub-par recipe.
  1. I also contributed sugared cranberries. I actually don't think I had ever had fresh cranberries before last week, but now I have, with and without sugar.  Sugared is way better. The recipe is super easy, but does require an overnight step. This kid really enjoyed them (this is not the best picture due the constant motion of this kid, but I love it). 
  2. I spent the weekend following Thanksgiving with Seth's family in Mountain Brook, and finally bought a decent pair of reading glasses at Kate Spade- Hooray Black Friday!
  1. I've been trying to read up on photography tips and tricks, see Shortcomings in Photography.  This National Geographic article on lighting was helpful.  I also finally got a picture of Butkus before he had chance to turn around (he has some type of aversion to cameras in general that generally results in his turning his bottom to the camera). 
  2. I put up a Christmas Tree! Actually, some of my family came over to help me put up a Christmas Tree. Now to find present to put underneath it!
This weekend I'm looking forward to a brunch with the Birmingham Bloggers and Sunday afternoon with my sister. Hope you and yours enjoy a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What on earth am I doing (shortcomings in photography and a new camera)

I will be the first to admit my shortcomings, especially in the realm of photography.  In effort to better my knowledge of this subject, I recently purchased a Samsung NX1100.  I looked into a few DSLRs but quite frankly they intimidated the mess out of me. The NX1100 is part of the Samsung's family of compact system cameras with interchangeable lens.  From what I've read on the camera, it has excellent reviews, and aside from limitations of low lighting, really has been great.  I'm still learning photography basics and trying to figure out how to use it (outside of it's easy to use SMART mode; I've got that down), but I thought I would share a few of my recent pictures. 

 The pictures above were taken at the Cloverdale Road Park, B's favorite of the many parks in the area. First United Methodist sits at the heart of Old Cloverdale. 

My dad and one of my nephews at my niece's Frozen themed birthday party. Dad and Gray painted a lovely Olaf the Snowman.

None of the photos have been edited.  I would love to hear any photography advice you may have.