The Podcasts I Listen to and You Should Too!

I’ll be honest, I didn’t always get podcasts. They seemed kind of distracting and maybe a weird length and what did I event want to get OUT of listening? Then, I dabbled with Serial. If you are a podcast listener, I’m CONFIDENT you have heard of Serial and have probably listened to the first season (let’s be honest, the second season wasn’t as good… amirite?!).

A year or two later, I was still only using podcasts to listen to some sermons of favorite pastors on occasion, ya know, like a good Presbyterian does, I have at least a top 10 of pastors in each region.

Then, I saw that my friend Emily’s husband had started a podcast. It sort of perpetuated my idea that, similar to blogs, everyone has a podcast now. Well, though that might be true, Joel’s podcast was pretty good… then the rabbit hole was OPENED. And here we are today, I will share my top 10 podcasts and why I like them. Here we go, in NO particular order:

 

1.     Pour not Poor. This is the aforementioned podcast of my friend’s husband. BUT don’t be fooled, this isn’t a pity mention. This is a podcast for folks in the young adult to 40ish year old who is looking to learn more about money and investments and frugality… WITH A TWIST! They are also lovers of craft beer and highlight a new beer every episode. This podcast comes out every Wednesday and runs in the 35-60 minute range!

2.     NPR’s How I Built This. This podcast is an entrepreneur’s DREAM. With this podcast Guy Roz interviews different business founders about their journey, the ups and downs, the fun stuff, the hard stuff, and how they disrupted their field. I first found this podcast because they interviewed Alli Webb, the founder of DryBar. And if you know me AT ALL, you know how much I love DryBar and Alli Webb!! Guy has also interviewed the founders of TRX, RX bars, StitchFix, WeWork, and dozens of other awesome nationally recognized brands and experiences. This podcast comes out about weekly and runs about 45-65min.

3.     Christy Wright’s Business Boutique Podcast. This one is definitely targeted to women who are looking to start a business. Every episode talks through an important tool or aspect of business ownership and then includes an interview with a small business owner. I’ll be honest, I don’t listen to EVERY episode that comes out; I do however love the episodes that cover the topics I’m interested in. This podcast comes out every 2 weeks and is about an hour long.

4.     The FedHeads. This is where you all get to learn about my TRULY nerdy side. This podcast is hosted by Grant Thornton and is a weekly digest about different topics regarding the federal government. I use this as a quick 10,000 foot view on things ranging from the President’s Management Agenda to the DATA Act to government infrastructure. The best part? It comes out every Monday and is less than 20 minutes. The perfect way to start your week a little informed!

5.     LadyBrains. This podcast is like spending 45 minutes chatting with your best friends. The catch? You are actually just listening to best friends talk to each OTHER! This podcast covers almost every topic under the SUN. From purse contents to hiking to travel with kids to current events. No matter what the conversation at hand, it is a great way to listen to adult conversation (really awesome for stay at home or work from home moms) and it is, mostly, super intelligent conversation. This podcast comes out weekly and ranges from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.

6.     Raising the Bar. I know I mentioned my love for Alli Webb earlier… well this is HER podcast! She and her brother, aka her co-founder, use this podcast to interview other entrepreneurs. And I LOVE IT. So far they have had some favorites including Joy Cho the founder of OhJoy and Ellen Bennett the founder of Hedley&Bennett. This podcast is definitely inspirational for business owners, aspirational types, and those who just love hearing good stories! If you haven’t caught on to a theme yet, I listen to a lot of podcasts about business. BUT even if you don’t want to start a company, I find these podcasts super great for challenging how we think about the day to day event. This podcast is weekly and is about 45 minutes.

7.     The Popcast. Y’all. Y’ALL. y’all. This podcast is hilarious. This is perfect for a mind break. Knox and Jamie sit and talk weekly and discuss everything that doesn’t really matter. From Bachelor/Bachelor’s in Paradise/Bachelorette recaps to conspiracy theories to “the dad’s of pop culture.” It is a longer podcast, almost always over an hour; but GREAT for staying in the loop on current events as well as a good laugh. This show is witty and quick and you can put it down and pick it back up any time! PLUS their live episodes are always a gem!! As I mentioned, this is a weekly podcast that runs an hour+.

8.     The Bible Binge. This is ALSO from the minds of Knox and Jamie of the Popcast. In this one, though, they talk through a different Bible story every week as if it was a movie in our current culture. This includes casting, their own production elements, and how the Bible story might be perceived in the present day. This is the adult version of Sunday School felt board Bible stories. It’s great. Again, a good brain break, and so so so entertaining. Be warned, listening to this on an airplane might call of bursts of laughter that aren’t easily explained to those around you. This is a weekly podcast and runs about 60-80 minutes.

9.     WDW Prep To Go. THIS. Ok, so this is my Disney podcast. I know y’all are SHOCKED that there would be a Disney podcast on my list… I kid I kid. But this one is truly one of the best. Shannon, the host, focuses largely on touring plans and interviews with folks who are planning their trips. It is helpful for me as a Disney planner to learn about different services and closures and how to consider planning trips for different sized families or different age groups… It’s also a fun one to help get you jazzed for an upcoming trip! This podcast is pretty sporadic and can run anywhere from 7min for a daily trip check in up to 2 hours for a full on trip report!

10.  The Side Hustle School. You guessed it! One more small business podcast! This one is a daily podcast that is typically less than 10 minutes and highlights someone who started a side hustle that is successful and growing. It can cover anything as small someone renting camera gear to run ins with giants like Amazon. This is a nice daily boost if you are thinking through ideas for a business or wanting to start a side hustle yourself. As I mentioned, it’s daily and short! Great for a commute!!

 

Y’all. I feel like I have just scratched the surface of podcasts. BUT this is where I would start. I have about 20 more or so that I subscribe to for different reasons and that maybe I listen to sometimes but not regularly. And, clearly, my focus is on starting a business… but these are all really inspirational no matter where you are in life! One fun side note, is that I have actually begun reading more since listening to podcasts. I am not sure if there is a direct correlation, but I find when I’m learning some things I want to learn MORE things. So, maybe it IS related! I hope you enjoy these, and let me know if there are any podcasts I should dig into!!

PS Apple Ear Pods have made ALL the difference in the world in enjoying podcasts. I can have a podcast playing and leave my phone on the kitchen island while walking around the house without having to carry my phone… plus no tangled chords!!!

Macaron Class {recap and supply list}

Y'all, the first cooking class of 2018 hosted by CounterspaceBR was a SUCCESS! I opened up my mostly renovated kitchen to five classmates and our instructor, Ruby Bloch of Salt & Light Pastry Co. We walked through Ruby's preferred method and perfected recipe for macaron... She instructed us step by step in the process and everyone had the chance to ask questions and take notes along the way!

Ruby Piping

A highlight for me was Ruby's detail in textures to look for, consistency clues, and the stories and tips of figuring out different recipes while on her culinary journey!

We will definitely plan to host Ruby again SOON! In the meanwhile, here are some of the tools we used for the class along with some tips on WHY they are important!

First: a scale! This is the one we used in class. It is a digital scale with the ability to go back and forth between measuring units and a very reliable tare feature! Precise measurement is key in preparing this delicate dessert!

Candy Thermometer is next. This is something that I use for a bunch of different treats, including marshmallows! I use this polder version. But Ruby likes the Taylor brand with a digital read! I might be adding that one to my collection!! A candy thermometer is important so that you have the right temperature of heated sugar to make a proper meringue. 

Meringue

Another important factor in the baking, is a sturdy flat sheet pan. I have 6 of the Nordic Ware half sheet pans and could probably add another half dozen to my collection for good measure :) Having a flat surface ensures the macaron will cook evenly and not end up "tilted."

Ruby

In that vein... it's also important to have super flat parchment paper. I accidentally bought full sheet pan size, but those are easy enough to cut in half OR you can purchase half sheet pan size here! It comes with 200 sheets, so maybe a good investment to split with another baking buddy!

Piping bags are also on the list. We used 18" disposable bags. I use these for much much more than just piping macaron, and these are easy to find at local craft supply stores (Michael's or Hobby Lobby). 

spatula

And for the piping bag... a piping tip! We used the Ateco 806 tip.  Wilton has a comparable tip as well! This tip is 1/2" in diameter and allows for proper control in piping and size to get uniform macaron.

The best part about all of the equipment we discussed is that NONE of the items are macaron specific, and most all of them will be very useful if you are looking to learn and explore baking a bit more! For me, purchasing the scale and thermometer opened up a pandora's box of possibility!!

IMG_3146.JPG

So you want to get organized...

How often does the calendar re-set and we immediately feel the need to sweep, purge, wipe down, and organize? Or maybe it's just me? Well, on the off chance that it ISN'T just me, here are some resources and reviews for organizing your space!

I live in a moderately sized house. Three bedrooms, two baths, 1800ish square feet. I use almost every room in my house on a daily basis with the exception of the guest bedroom and guest bathroom. Therefore there is STUFF in every room. 

Last year, I Kon Mari'd with some success and did a MAJOR clean out. That was really good for me! The most significant impact came in my master closet, hall closets, books, and paper! I shredded and recycled SO MUCH PAPER. I wasn't thorough enough cause time and toddler, but the cleanse aspect made me feel fresh and made my house feel a bit more livable. The one thing that was hard for me was what to do with so much of the sentimental or non daily use items... that's where Emily Ley comes in!

A much less overwhelming process and book that I'm currently reading is Emily Ley's "A Simplified Life." This book is super approachable and the goal is to define and claim the art of homemaking. The entire concept of the book is this, if you simplify your home and schedule and brain of "clutter" you can live a more simplified life. This comes in the form of a clean out (which was a lot easier to tackle having already Kon Mari'd), creating a plan for weekly meals, figuring out what your family/home needs on a daily basis, and using ALL that information to help simplify life and routine. I haven't finished the book or fully implemented all of the suggestions YET, but I'm excited to tackle my life (house included) and simplify! And, currently on the Simplified Planner instagram account there is a daily simplify challenge for January! It comes with one task a day to help work towards a clutter free house and schedule!

One of the biggest differences between the two books and programs is that Emily doesn't preach extreme minimalism and doesn't advocate for tossing heirloom/sentimental items quite the same way as Mari does. Emily DOES, however, give you a plan for what to do with those items that might not have a place on the shelf but are worthy of being kept and cherished and passed down.

One last resource, along the same lines as the instagram challenge above, is the Apartment Therapy January Cure. This is a daily email with tasks to set you up for a year of success in your home! It started yesterday with cleaning out ONE drawer. Just one. Thankfully, that overlapped with Emily Ley's challenge to declutter your kitchen utensil drawer. 

So, if you are with me on January feeling like a fresh start for your home, take a peek at the resources above! I hope to do a full recap at the end of January on the daily tasks as well as how to continue these practices throughout the year!

These are a Few of My Favorite {shopping hack} Things!

Y'all, let's talk about holiday shopping. Cause at this point, unless you have Amazon Prime OR want to go to the mall OR spend a bazillion dollars on shipping, this is the week to get in gear. So, I'm going to share how I navigate Christmas shopping.

First, I always start early. We are out of "early" zone, but that's ok! Start now, and you'll be in good shape! Before I even THINK about shopping I make a detailed list. I make a list of everyone I intend to shop for and assign a dollar amount total it up then PLAN to stay in that budget. I also add in Christmas cards and a small buffer amount to the budget. This "extra" will come in handy as different occasions arise when you want to share a small gift with someone or participate in a gift exchange.

Second, this is where we start to think about SAVING money... I try to remember to use ebates. The times that I remember to use it when Holiday shopping, I always end up with $15-50 cash back! Here is the key, though, once you KNOW what you want to purchase for people... go to ebates and check which retailers have the best cashback offers before you make your purchase. For example, you might be tempted to purchase a LEGO set from Amazon BUT legos.com typically has 2-5% cash back OR Barnes&Noble might have up to 10% cash back (that's the deal TODAY + free shipping!).

Ebates also has a plug in, similar to pinterest, that you can install in your preferred browser so you are ALWAYS getting the cash back without even having to search through ebates! If you plan on doing any online shopping at ALL for Christmas (or ever again really), I would suggest creating an account! Plus they typically have a $10 bonus for signing up at all!

Next, I think about what brands I like and try to get beyond generic gifts. For example, my sister HATES to shop for clothes. The small handful of times she does go shopping for herself, she ends up purchasing replicas of things she already owns. So, this year I'm giving her a stitchfix gift card. This is a GREAT gift for busy moms. The clothes come to your DOOR and you don't even have to pick them out. You just try them on and decide to keep them or not! Another great idea, in that vain, is Trunk Club. Trunk Club is also a clothes delivery service, but it's more aimed at helping curate a capsule wardrobe and is an arm of Nordstrom which comes with quality and well known brands.

Now, shopping for kids: for my son I stick to "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read." This means I purchase four gifts (plus some stocking stuffers) and one of them is the "big" gift. For example, this year his big gift is his want and it's a LEGO table! He is also getting a book from a series we are reading, some red converse, and a bed frame.

And, if you are in a rut thinking about buying for friends and family, I'm a big fan of Wayfair and overstock.com for some creative ideas. I also love to keep a small section of my hall closet dedicated to easy little gifts. Notepads and flashcards and stickers and candles. These make easy gifts for babysitters or teachers or neighbors!

Last, and certainly not least, I LOVE trying to shop as local as possible for friends. I realize I just referenced a bunch of online shopping tips, BUT if you can get out of the house to shop (I realize jobs and kids can prevent this) find a local market to shop at!! My side job of baking, has me active in a local maker's market and IT'S GREAT! I guarantee if you live in an city there is SOME opportunity to buy from local makers! Some of my favorite Baton Rouge makers include Mimosa Handcrafted and Pottery by Osa as well as just about everyone featured at the MidCity Maker's Market. These markets are also GREAT places to stock up on little gifts for your gift closet!

For those of you who haven't taken the plunge into holiday shopping or are just looking for a little inspiration to wrap up your gifting list (no pun intended), I hope this helped!! What's your best tip for preparing for the madness that CAN be Christmas shopping?

Oh Hey! Remember Me?!

Y'all, it's been a minute. And by minute, I mean a really long time... ya know, the way the kids use "minute" these days. 

I'll tell you about some things that have happened since I've last opened up this here blog:

We have been to Disney World THREE times.

I have renovated my kitchen.

We have potty trained AND regressed.

I've earned A-List status on Southwest again (technically I earn it upon completion of my work trip this week).

I have attended some weddings and some funerals.

I've been to Boston, Houston, DC, San Francisco, Orlando, LA

There has been a massive flood... again.

I low-key started a side business selling cookies and teaching cooking classes.

AND I've use my instant pot successfully a whole bunch of times. 

So, how have Y'ALL been? I'm really excited about getting back on this blogging train. Specifically, I'm excited to merge what I'm doing here with the business I'm starting... look out for the "merger" soon. I'm also excited to do some mini gift guides for the super last minute shoppers. Basically, it's gonna be me telling you about all my favorite things AND my favorite cookbooks.

Oh, and speaking of the merger, you have probably noticed (all two of you), that I don't use my @ontheimaginaryblog insta handle any longer... if you've been missing food pics and photos of my crazy life, check out @counterspaceBR. That's gonna be the new home for all things food, hosting, and imaginary!

Just in case you want a taste of my favorite things right now, here are the 5 cookbooks you should gift this holiday season (in no particular order)

1. Over Easy by Joy Wilson

2. One Pot by Martha Stewart

3.  Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

4. Cherry Bomb: The Cookbook by a whole bunch of awesome ladies

5. Sweet (and actually buy this for me cause I don't have it and I want it really bad...) by Yotam Ottolinghi

6. BONUS CAUSE I LIED: Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman

I'll tell ya this, I have cooked out of Deb Perelman's new book countless times already including a really awesome delicata squash and brussel sprouts salad that I brought to Thanksgiving dinner. It was a delight!

I can't begin to stress how awesome cookbooks are for gifts. ESPECIALLY for someone who loves food. You really don't have to love to cook to enjoy most of these books... The photography alone makes them stand out additions to a coffee table or bookshelf!

Ok, I'll end here for now. But I'm telling myself I will be writing a lot this December and into the new year. Get. Excited. 

LaLaLand

I can't make this up. I had written an entire recap of our LA trip and then Chrome "quit unexpectedly" and it was lost. 

So, I have a few options... the one I'm gonna go with is sharing some pics of Henry running around at Griffith Observatory now, then maybe mustering up the strength to write an actual full blogpost later... 

This was from the last full day of our trip. Henry had TWO major meltdowns while at the observatory, but I'm also pretty confident running around there was one of the highlights of his trip... You can see a host of his emotions (and a lot of his back while he runs) if you click through the gallery!

Homemade Funfetti Cake {and other reasons to purchase "Molly on the Range"}

Let me lay it out for you in simple terms: if you like to cook or bake you should purchase "Molly on the Range" by Molly Yeh (pronounced Yay!). If not for her name alone... seriously. 

This cookbook really hosts a massive array of culinary opportunities! From challah to cookies to homemade crackers to amazing hot dish recipes to soups to... the piece de resistance... HOMEMADE FUNFETTI CAKE!

This cake graces the cover of the book and is probably 97% of why I wanted it so badly. That, and every recipe from her blog that I have made has been utterly amazing. In fact, Molly's tahini buttercream oreos are a staple of my cookie repertoire. I digress, back to the cake.

This cake would be described by Mary Poppins as practically perfect in every way. And, I was so nervous to bake it. Like, I've had this cookbook since Christmas and haven't even read the recipe all the way through nervous. Then a few weeks ago, I was stressed and on edge and had absolutely no required baking on my agenda and I went for it. I had no reason whatsoever to bake it, but who needs an excuse for cake?!

Here are a few notes: it's amazing. You will want to eat it all. It calls for corn starch which gives it unreal texture. You only use egg whites, no yolks... which is kinda weird for cake. AND of most importance, you MUST you jimmies (long skinny sprinkles) NOT round tiny ones or flat ones or any other kind.

Then, if you follow her directions closely, you will produce this:

 

It took a heck of a lotta constraint to not eat all of it myself. At every turn that I could find an excuse to give some away, I did. It'll be fun to add it into the mix of cakes I can cater out for birthday parties PLUS you can convert it to cupcakes! And, I'm not gonna lie, it was a great opportunity for me to practice icing. I could really REALLY use some work on decorating cakes... but am excited for the challenge that brings!

 

So, y'all, if I have shared anything of value with you ever... it is this book. Buy it. Love it. Cook from it. Share it with others!

 

Distractions and Schedules

So, I sat down tonight with full intentions of writing a "things I like right now post." I even had a super clever intro written out comparing myself to Oprah. Trust me, it was hilarious... but there was no finishing it. I hadn't planned the post out well enough and didn't have the energy and then there were cookie decorating videos on instagram to watch.

How the HECK am I supposed to focus?! There is so much out in the world to occupy my thoughts and head space and keep me from using my "free time" in a productive and purposeful manner. I have cookbooks to read and a kitchen to clean and Mindy Project to catch up on. Not to mention all of the blogs I could and should be reading on how to create and curate a brand, which clearly I'm not reading right now cause I'm busy doing the math on the cost of Disney vacations vs an Annual Pass.

What's the answer then? How do you successfully sit and write or read or take steps towards bettering yourself? I can't even find 20 minutes in my day to complete a workout DVD. 

Then the ULTIMATE question... if I really am trying to create content by cooking and baking and scouring cookbooks for recipes which all takes TIME, when am I supposed to put that on paper?! Am I really distracted? Or am I just not managing my time well? I think some practical next steps are trying to create a regular schedule and sticking to it. Right now my routine is a little out of whack. I wake up with my son whenever he does, anywhere from 6-8am... then start churning. I typically have work emails to attend to or interoffice messages to respond to the first bit of the morning before dropping my squirt off at school for 8:30am.

My day's all look a little bit different but usually have the same common denominator of conference calls + emails. I typically take 30-40 minutes to run errands, pick up the house, do laundry... that kinda stuff. Then pick up my kiddo around 4:30/5, and nighttime is just nuts. I can't really get much computer work done after dinner/before bed time cause Henry always wants to "help." PLUS his bedtime has morphed from 7pm to 8pm. By that time of night I'm exhausted, and I can't motivate myself to get any of my extra work done.

Writing this out, has helped me realize a few things:

1. Henry needs a regular and earlier bedtime.

2. I need to set an alarm and wake up at the same time every day so that I can get ahead of the madness.

3. I need to start working out again... Last fall when I was taking these crazy fitness classes on the regular, my schedule was in LINE. I also hurt my back really bad, so maybe I need to find something different this time...

4. Making time to create and making that part of my routine is KEY. 

What does this all mean? This means my kid is gonna be mad at me for making him go to bed, I'll rely heavily on cold brew coffee while I adjust to a schedule, and y'all MIGHT have to muddle through some sub-par blog posts while I make myself write daily. And until my writing gets better/my recipes go viral, just follow me on instagram.

Maybe I'm Crazy

I realize every time I start to day dream about my hope of a Target collaboration or this here blog making money or starting my own business, that maybe I'm a little crazy. THEN even crazier things happen!! A friend who I watched start her own business, JUST GOT A TARGET COLLABORATION.

Mom Fuel Mug

I don't say "just" lightly. Kristen has worked her behind off growing her brand. She started with letterpress work on the side while working at her old high school doing graphic design work... then she had enough business to quit her job, then opened her first store front. THEN ANOTHER store front! She regularly attends national paper shows and her work can be found all over the US in boutiques and major retail stores alike... True story, I was in NYC with my friend Bethany last summer and saw some Thimblepress goods in a boutique and kinda flipped out!! Her confetti push pops can also be found in Anthropologie!!

Y'all. I was in Anaheim, CA last month when the announcement of Kristen's Target line was announced and promptly took my rental car to the closest store and bought two of the mugs right away. Then when I arrived back home nearly cleared out the display at my local Target.

Thimblepress at Target

AND IT HIT ME. She has reached a goal I have. Heck, maybe it was a goal SHE had! And I know her. I watched her start a business on the side while saving so she could start working for herself full time. I watched her announcements as she hired people and her brand grew. And I can do it too! I can start my own business. Heck, I could end up on an aisle cap at every mom's favorite big box retail store... I can DO it. So, here is me committing myself to work hard, on the side while working a full-time job and updating my house and raising a tiny human, to grow my little idea for a blog and helping get people in their kitchen and hosting and trying new foods and flavors and spices!

Giveaway

 

I want to walk people through cookbooks and kitchen tools and constantly be on the search for the best of the best for entertaining and cooking and learning about FOOD! So, yeah, maybe I'm crazy, but I'm excited to see where the crazy takes me. In the meanwhile, congrats to my friend Lee who won my Thimblepress at Target giveaway on instagram a couple of weeks ago... I have ANOTHER instagram giveaway going now, so check it out!!

 

Coffee, Y'all!

I HAD AN ENTIRE POST WRITTEN AND DID SOMETHING STUPID AND IT WENT AWAY! So, here is me trying to be clever late at night and re-create it.

Basically, I was telling y'all that the month of March is always FULL. I hate using the word busy, cause let's be real... everyone is busy. My month actually involves travel and going places and Saturday's with stuff going on. FULL. I have a big ol' conference for work next week followed by a a wedding in California + a VERY mini vacay. Before that I have another Maker's Market!!!

So, I started this month with a coffee making class... cause that's the only way I would be able to get through. My friend Wallis Watkins came over and taught me and some friends how to brew the perfect pour over! I'm gonna walk y'all through some of the equipment you need for the best cup of pour over at home! The best part, many of these items serve many uses in the kitchen!

First, a scale! I love my digital kitchen scale. You will want it to have a tare feature... and this is a fixture for baking as well!

Grinder!! A burr grinder is really the only way to go. I love bodum products, but you can always shop your local Home Goods or kitchen shop for a great option!

Once you have measured the beans and they are the correct size, you will want to heat the water. This is the kettle I have and it's GREAT! And again, it's a super functional kitchen item. Do yourself a favor and burn through $23 for a good kettle.

Now as far as the actual pour over cone, you can go fancy or not! And I put mine right over the coffee mug... no crazy extra equipment needed. 

Finally, a goose neck kettle. This is KEY because you want thin, even water distribution for the best brew. 

Some of these things you might already have, some might be new to you. Either way, you can spend as much or as little as you would like AND in most cases a full set up will cost less than a quality coffee pot!

Google to find the right proportions and note timing and water temperature do make a difference... but the perfect pour over can happen at home. And it should. Now, I'm gonna go brew another myself and tackle my growing March to do list.

How I Spent my Mardi Gras Break

For those of you NOT in Louisiana, Mardi Gras break is real. It's a thing. Schools close for anywhere from two days to a full week. Half of Louisiana goes to DisneyWorld or skiing while the other half stays put and enjoys the parades. I chose the latter.

In between parades and revelry, I KILLED the lunch game. Like totally killed it. I did some experimenting with pimento cheese, made a killer turkey/mexi bowl, and practiced buttercream... so that's not exactly lunch material BUT I did manage to eat some FOR lunch on a cake. So, yeah, it was lunch... don't judge.

But back to the pimento cheese. A few years ago I had the yummiest pimento cheese at a lovely little bar in DC called Southern Efficiency.  This pimento cheese had all kinds of flavors and textures. Definitely far more exciting than the plain stuff I would either make at home or the over processed stuff you buy at the Winn Dixie or other southern grocery store chain. THEN instagram told me that Trader Joe's started carrying sweet and hot pickled jalapenos. UERKEA! I promptly went out and bought some... then waited almost a whole week to attempt recreation. Let's be honest, I was too busy and my kitchen was too messy to really give it a good go. Mardi Gras break to the rescue!

I made it a few days ago and it blew my mind. Today, I re-created it and actually measured the ingredients so I could guide you along the road of pimento cheese amazing-ness. And, I'm gonna tell you now... this recipe is HEAVY on products that are easily found at Trader Joe's, so if you don't have one nearby I'm sorry.

3/4c shredded mild cheddar cheese (fine shred preferred for texture reasons)

3/4c swiss/gruyere shredded blend (available at Trader Joe's... it's a bigger shred, which sounds weird to say out loud. again preferred for texture reasons)

3T Mayo

3T Plain Greek Yogurt

1/4c chopped roasted red bell peppers (aka pimento)

1/4c chopped up sweet and hot pickled jalapenos (available at Trader Joe's)

1/4c chopped/roasted pecans (super inexpensive at Trader Joe's and already chopped for you)

1/2t salt

1/2t garlic powder

1/4t paprika

Y'all, just dump this all in a bowl and mix it up REALLY good. If it feels a little wet, sprinkle some more cheese in. THEN DEVOUR THIS ON EVERYTHING. I have had some by the spoonful, some on bread, some on toast, and this weekend... I'm gonna put it on BISCUITS. 

Mardi Gras break was good to me, y'all; and hope, by way of this recipe, it was good to you too!

To Bake or To Blog {that is the question}

Most days I have to ask myself if I will take time to blog OR if I will watch TV/go to bed early/clean the kitchen... you know fun distracting stuff. But last week I had a different bug keeping me from blogging: COOKIES!

I jumped on the opportunity to participate in a local Maker's Market which involved prepping and baking about 150 cookies last week. Now, I think we all know I have a real job, so this meant 2-3 hours of extra work every night AFTER putting my squirt to bed. In case you were wondering what it looks like to prep for a market of this variety here it goes:

1. Frantically email your designer so you have a logo ready to print stickers.

2. Find someone to PRINT stickers! 

3. Order cellophane baggies for the cookies.

4. COMMENCE the baking!

Last Monday night I prepped a double batch of the "New York Times BEST Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe." Then Tuesday I prepped a quadruple batch of Joy the Baker's "Vanilla Bean Confetti Cookie." Both types of dough need extended refrigeration so it worked out! Wednesday night I didn't do any baking or prep work. Thursday I began baking. I got through the chocolate chip cookies with ease. Then realized I should probably bake more (good idea cause they were the second to sell out after the donuts... yeah, there were donuts), so I prepped a THIRD recipe of cookies to bake. Friday was when the real fun started. I began bagging and sealing the cookies + baked ALL OF THE CONFETTI COOKIES. I basically spent the day putting a tray of cookies in the oven, taking a tray out, putting another tray in, sealing one cooled tray's worth of cookies and so on... times 5 trays of cookies!

LATE Friday night the process became a party! I had neighbors come over and shell a costco package of pistachio's while I baked a double batch of tahini butter cream oreos. I fear I would have thrown in the towel if it weren't for dear friends sitting and chatting with me while I worked... oh and they brought wine. :)

Saturday morning was the final countdown to the big show! I planned on baking fresh pistachio donuts for the market that morning (just about the only goodie that wouldn't hold well past a day or so). And that was when my brain stopped working. I not only curdled the eggs with hot butter THREE times, I LEFT OUT THE SUGAR. It was one hurdle after another, that I blame wholeheartedly on lack of sleep. But gosh darn it, I finished them! 34 donuts in the end! BOOM!

I packed up the goods and went to set up, both nervous AND excited. I have NEVER in my life EVER sold something to strangers at a market. Sure I've done retail sales in college and baked for friends... but to SELL my baked goods was a whole new ball game. BUT I DID IT.

The first items to go were the donuts... followed quickly by the chocolate chip cookies, and finally the tahini buttercream oreos. After 4 hours, I left having made almost $300 and only 10 cookies left! What a RUSH. And not a sugar rush, cause I didn't let myself eat any of the goods throughout the week or the morning of. 

What's even more exciting, is this is gonna be a thing. I'm gonna start selling my cookies! On the regular! How cool is THAT?! Have you ever taken the plunge into the creative economy? It's terrifying and AWESOME all at once. So, look out for me next month at the Mid City Maker's Market in Baton Rouge; and if you can't wait till then, shoot me a message about ordering some of my treats!!

I Won a New Kitchen {internet contests are sometimes real}

Last Friday afternoon my son came home with an ear infection. We spent the weekend kinda chilling and low key... he wasn't his best. Then when Monday rolled around he still wasn't well enough to go to his play school, so I had a "let's attempt to work with toddler in tow" day. It wasn't the worst, but it wasn't easy. And just when I was feeling a little low, he FINALLY fell asleep for a nap.

Rather than using that time to sit and reply to emails, I needed to clear my head a little so I decided to bake a loaf of Avocado Pound Cake (technically two loaves, cause it's a double recipe). While whipping up mashed avocados into butter + sugar, I got an instagram notification... that Joy the Baker tagged ME in a post. Why, on earth would she do THAT? I swiped with excitement only to realize she was announcing that I WON HER KITCHENAID CONTEST. And I wasn't one of the "small appliance" winners... I won the WHOLE shebang. I won a stove, hood/vent, refrigerator, and dishwasher. Literally thousands and thousands of dollars worth kitchen appliances. All because I posted three pictures using two hashtags each time and tagged both Joy and KitchenAid. (the cocktail picture featured in this blog was one of them), I was eligible to win. AND I DID.

This was not just amazing, but the timing was IMPECCABLE. Just when I'm starting to try to use my kitchen more and think about ways to invest in my kitchen and start offering cooking classes out of my kitchen (more on that later) and realizing that my dishwasher is more of a dish steamer and all sorts of other little things... this was HUGELY exciting and encouraging and affirming.

So tonight, after a 48 hour trip to DC for work that involved a 14 hour work day, I'm sitting at my computer and picking out brand. new. appliances. Meanwhile, almost in tears of humility and gratitude out of this seemingly random kindness and all of the dear friends who are sharing in their excitement with me!! I think when I consider what it is to share life with people it is almost easier to "mourn with those who mourn" and show sympathy and empathy in times of hurt and pain... but how often do we avoid "rejoicing with those who rejoice" out of selfishness? So, to those friends rejoicing with me, thank you! 

I will have all of you over for cookies once everything is installed! Now go out and start entering all of the instagram contests you find... cause you JUST.MIGHT.WIN!

PS The avocado pound cake didn't turn out....

Refrigerator Surprise!

My dear friend Melynn introduced me to this term, "refrigerator surprise!" Its key word for, I don't have anything to make ONE WHOLE meal but I do have a lot of food in the fridge that needs to be consumed. We have all been there... read a blog or thumbed through a cook book then when to the grocery store while STARVING and bought all of the food you could fit in one, narrow Trader Joe's shopping cart.

You come home. You make one REALLY good dinner... then the rest of the food sits in the fridge. It doesn't all work together really, although one time I had limes and ripe avocados and made the most delicious popsicles ever (seriously, that happened), so don't limit yourself! Then, BAMN, a work trip sneaks up on you; and suddenly you need to cook mushrooms + eat avocados + cook ground turkey + drink that LAST little bit of rose' + finish of the leftovers. NOT to fear! SJ is here!

Here are some things you can do on refrigerator surprise night:

Sandwich. This might seem obvious, but you can make ANYTHING into a sandwich. Before my most recent work trip I was able to use up the end of some braised chickpeas and a ripe avocado to make the most glorious open faced "health" sandwich!!

Pizza. You can pizza almost ANYTHING (last night I made mushroom, shallot, and prosciutto pizza... last week I made roasted sweet potato pizza). Root veggies, roasted chicken, leftover greens. Make it fun! Between great pre-made dough options at the grocery store and all of the easy at home dough recipes, it's a no brainer!

Soup. This is especially effective if you have some sort of ground meat to use up. Sautee some onions and garlic... add ground turkey or Italian sausage out of the casing... brown the meat then add in 4-8 cups of a broth/water combo then throw in chopped up veggies or even greens or noodles. BaBAM soup!

Pasta. Similar to pizza, you can pasta almost anything. Veggies/meat/can of tomatoes or heavy cream + noodles. Perfection!

Breakfast. You can turn almost any combo of veggies and meat into the best breakfast for dinner you've ever had. This is especially effective if one of the things you need to use up is eggs. Frittata some sausage and onions and root veggies + cheese and yumminess galore! Or, shred up carrots and potatoes to make a hash. Insert fruit into pancake batter. Combinations + options are endless!

Y'all. I'm now hungry and a little sad that I didn't go the breakfast route last night when enjoying some refrigerator surprise!

So, next time you open your fridge without a good meal plan and don't know WHAT to do, make some magic. Pick the type of thing you want to eat and consider what ingredients you have... then go wild! This is also a great exercise in helping to firm up your pantry. For example: "I always wish I had coconut milk handy and rarely do" OR "I really like refrigerator surprise soup, so I should keep a few cartons of stock handy" OR "I always have pasta handy, maybe I should have canned tomatoes for pasta refrigerator surprise at the ready as well." Really this is a good opportunity to expand your horizons, get creative in the kitchen, and test some new flavor combinations! 

What's your favorite "Refrigerator surprise" combo? What are your pantry staples that can make something out of nothing in a jiffy? Tell me more!

I'm Bad at Pinterest

Y'all, I love to hate pinterest. As a mom, an event planner, and a blogger I really should just love to LOVE pinterest. But here is the deal, I'm really bad at it. Case in point: I found an amazing red lentil, spinach curry recipe on pinterest. I've even made it a few times. Then last week when I went to make it again I realized I NEVER PINNED IT. I have just been using the search function to find the same recipe over and over again. Well, it used to ALWAYS be one of the top hits when you search for "spinach coconut milk lentils." Apparently some people having been working their SEO and my recipe is now nowhere to be found. 

Lucky for y'all, it was pretty simple and I have a decent enough memory. I was able to recreate it MOSTLY accurately this past week. The thing that I really love about this dish is that it consists of almost ALL pantry/fridge staples even though it sounds complex! Win win! Delicious AND doesn't require an extra trip to the store!

Here are the ingredients best I can recall (I will put an asterisk next to the items I always have on hand).

Olive Oil to coat the pan*

1 yellow onion*

3 cloves of garlic*

1" piece of fresh ginger pealed*

2 tsps curry powder*

1 tsp cumin*

1 tsp salt*

1 cup red lentils*

1 15 oz can coconut milk*

1 cup chicken or veggie broth*

two heaping handfuls of spinach (this is the ONLY item I would need to add to my grocery list to make this dish)

IMG_9715.JPG

 

1. Chop up the onion, garlic, and ginger.

2. Heat your pan over a medium heat (I use my Staub dutch oven for this. Really anything that is bigger than 4 quarts will do.) Add the olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan once it is heated then add in the chopped onions, garlic, and ginger. Cook these down till they are soft (4ish minutes)

3. Add all of the spices to the onion mixture and coat everything with the blend!!

4. Add in the lentils + coconut milk + broth and heat to a simmer.

5. Cover the pot and let the lentils simmer for about 20 minutes. I typically stir the pot a handful of times so the lentils don't stick to the bottom.

6. Add the spinach to the pot and stir the leafy greens in until they are wilted and fully incorporated into the lentils. 

7. ENJOY! 

Y'all, never in your life would you believe a curry dish could come together this quickly and with such simple ingredients!! Once you've made this, I'm pretty sure you will be hard pressed to avoid making it again almost immediately. One of the bigger perks of this dish is that it freezes REALLY well. Plus you can always mess with the flavor profile and add more curry to heat things up or add some greek yogurt when serving to cool it down. 

And because this was so yummy, I hope that I can become a better pinterester cause I would hate to lose another fantastic recipe due to my lack of pinning savvy. How do you use pinterest? Is it more project related? Or do you like to casually stroll the depths of decoration themes/craft ideas/inspirational posters (is it just me or are there a LOT of inspirational posters/memes on pinterest these days!?)? Or maybe you just DON'T use it!? Talk to me. 

NOLA {the self defined New Year's Resolution}

I live all of 75ish miles from New Orleans. New Orleans is home to my go to airport, which puts me here at least once a month BUT I never actually make it into the city. Ever. My how THAT has changed in the past few months. It started with the Joy the Baker class... have I mentioned that I took a pie making class with Joy Wilson? No? Yes? Ok, I'll stop.

ANYWAY. Since that class I've come to NOLA 4x NOT including an airport trip. That's four times in ONE month. I'm LOVING me some NOLA these days. The initial driver in these excursions was an annual pass to the Audubon Zoo and Aquarium which makes for a fun daylong distraction with my toddler. Along the way, though, I have discovered some really great food and coffee in this fair town. (yes, I'm in NOLA as we speak) So, I am going to go ahead and declare a retro-fitted New Year's Resolution to go to New Orleans more often and to try one new thing each trip! Look at me keeping my resolutions so well!!

But on to the important part. Coffee. We all know that New Orleans is a foodie place to be, but because my trips used to be so infrequent I always ended up back at the same "usual" spots. In the past few trips that has changed, and it's been AWESOME. So, if you are looking for some places to explore around the city here is my short-ish first installment of things to enjoy in NOLA focusing on: Coffee!!!

Cherry Espresso. This place gets top billing for a few reasons, mostly cause I'm sitting here RIGHT NOW AS WE SPEAK (type). This place is a great work spot/neighborhood coffee shop/they have bagels. It's slightly larger than the other coffee shops I'll mention which means there is almost ALWAYS a spot to sit and enjoy your coffee. Bonus: they have outside space AND there is playground across the street. I'm honestly sad it took me so long to discover this place. Location: Uptown

 

Mammoth Espresso. This place is a fav for many reasons, one of which is that it draws a direct connection back to DC. One of the managers at Mammoth used to work at The Coffee Bar in DC and is friends with a lot of my old friends... so it's a cappuccino by association! This space is a bit smaller and far more of a "stop in on the way somewhere" coffee shop. Location: CBD

 

Spitfire Coffee. This place has one of the best cortados I have ever had. And I can be SUPER picky about my cortados. This place is TINY (and barely stroller friendly). It's the perfect cure for all of the chicory coffee that is rampant around the area. BTW, it's so small that I feel weird stopping to take a picture of my coffee. So you will just have to use your imagination and guess what the coffee looks like. Location: French Quarter

Solo. Ok, I'll be honest. The first time I went here I walked in and ordered my capp, and it was AMAZING; BUT I definitely felt NOT cool enough to be in there. Like felt SUPER out of place. It was like accidentally showing up to the senior class party as a freshman... Like cool stylish older kids with edgy hair all hanging out together and I walk in wearing a sweater vest (not ironically) with a French braid sort of not cool. BUT THE COFFEE WAS SO GOOD. Go, try it. You're probably cooler than me so it'll be just fine. Location: Bywater

 

Do you like to travel? Do you use coffee as your guide in new cities? Do you live in or near a city worth exploring more? Or maybe you've found a good, retro-fitting New Year's Resolution to continue to pursue? Tell me how you explore and what you're up to in 2017!

Banana Bread {aka browned butter can even make rotting fruit delicious}

A long long time ago (really just a decade ago), I worked for a campus ministry; and I was broke. Some of my best friends were also working for campus ministries and also broke.  During this time we honed many skills, most them involved cooking SUPER cheap meals and watching cable at other people’s houses.

We each had our go to for entertaining college students over coffee or dinner. Mine was baked ziti (and if I never make that dish again, I’ll be OK). My friend Allison pretty much owned banana bread. Think about it, cheap fruit + pantry staples = a delicious loaf of otherwise rotten fruit… and we were in no place to be throwing away food.

Over the years, her recipe has been my go to… but just recently I started to play with it, and well… browned butter later, here we are.

I almost always make two loaves at a time. Once I see bananas starting to turn south faster than I can eat them, I either freeze them or put them in the fridge if bread making is nigh! So here is a nice blend of Allison’s classic recipe with a few fancy twists and turns.

Chocolate Chip, Brown Butter Banana Bread (two loaves and very easy to half)

6-8 bananas (for me 7 is the magic number)

1 ½ cups butter

2 cups sugar (you can skimp a little on sugar if you want… but who would want to?!)

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

3 cups all purpose flour

1-2 cups chocolate chips (however many float your boat)

1.     Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two 9x4 loaf pans (butter, pam, coconut oil spray, whatevs... we just don't want it to stick!!).

2.     Put the butter in a sauce pan on the stove to melt down and brown. This removes a lot of the water from the butter so there is crackling and popping and it takes a minute to get it browning then BAM watch out or it’ll burn before you know it (kind of like a roux). Then pour the browned butter into a separate bowl to cool off while you mash up the peeled bananas. I almost left out the detail of PEELING the bananas then I realized some people might need that note, so it’s there. I’m not assuming anyone here is an idiot… just attempting to be thorough!

3.    Mix in the sugar with the bananas then add the brown butter. Stir thoroughly (but don't OVER stir). Add the eggs and vanilla and fully incorporate.

4.     Then mix in the baking soda and salt.

5.     Fold in all the flour till it’s fully incorporated and there are no pockets of flour hanging out.

6.     Mix in the chocolate chips!

7.     Bake at 350 for 55ish minutes. I say that because every oven is a little different. I have an electric oven and this recipe takes about 5 minutes less than Allison originally noted… Basically at the 55 minute mark I use my cake testing stick to see if the stick can go in and come out dry. If it’s still not done, bake it in 5 minute increments till it is ready!

I typically cool the banana bread IN the pans for a good long while… maybe 30 minutes or so? THEN flip them onto a baking rack to cool the rest of the way. I’m not gonna lie, the smell alone makes waiting hard. Be warned.

I store it wrapped in aluminum foil and have never had to wonder how long it will last… cause we can finish a loaf within about 2-3 days. Don’t judge my life.

So, when you have the urge to bake and you don’t want to waste those almost gross bananas… there is a way out! What is your cheap and easy entertaining staple? Is banana bread a go to for you? Tell me! I always enjoying discovering new things, and what better way than asking an internet full of imaginary friends!

Meal Planning. It's a Thing.

If you have ever been on pinterest or owned a slow cooker, you have probably considered meal planning. Well, I have both been on pinterest AND own a slow cooker… so I have embarked down the meal planning rabbit hole.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed about that hole:

1.     It CAN be cheaper, but isn’t always.

2.     It CAN be healthy, but it isn’t always.

3.     It CAN be a time saver, but it isn’t always.

Y’all, I don’t meal plan cause I’m on a strict diet or because I have a $4 budget per meal. I meal plan because I like to be prepared, I’m a solo parent, I work full time, and I LOVE TO COOK. So, here is how I do it. I start with a formula. This is what works for me, adjust accordingly depending on your family’s schedule and commitments (I use a note pad similar to this one and keep it on my fridge for the week):

Monday: Cook

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Meal (I LOVE my slow cooker! It even has a browning function!)

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Quick Easy/Eat out on the Cheap

Friday: Something NEW!

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Refrigerator Delight! (basically clean out the fridge and start fresh)

My first and biggest tip: plan on eating leftovers some nights (although, I have ONE friend ::cough cough amy cough cough:: who doesn’t LIKE leftovers… whatever, that’s just more cooking. But I love you, Amy! I promise!), and I plan on eating out one night. I realize you might not eat out, no biggie. I will say this, there is nothing MORE annoying than grocery shopping for the week then ending out one night you didn’t plan for then having extra groceries to figure out… ok, there is a lot more annoying such as political posts on facebook or people who can’t properly navigate four way stop signs. But you get my point.

I really do love incorporating as much new food as possible. I also am typically cooking for myself and a toddler, which means cooking for myself + macaroni and cheese. Whatevs.

What’s on the docket this week, you might be asking?

Monday: Red lentil curry with spinach (I would link to the recipe from pinterest but I can’t find it… will do my best to transcribe and post soon!)

Tuesday: Roasted veggies + hummus

Wednesday: ALL of the leftovers

Thursday: This will most likely NOT be an eat out night because my babysitter just had brain surgery… so it will probably be a “what veggies are going bad? Hurry slice them and put them on pizza crust” night

Friday: Turkey biscuit bake! This isn’t a NEW recipe, but I haven’t made it in ages… so it counts.

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday nights are spent reviewing cookbooks for ideas, typically…. Or in this instance blogging and telling you what I do while not doing it, then grocery shopping Monday afternoon before school pick up (or after if I’m feeling brave).

I realize that I have a flexible job and the luxury of taking a quick grocery trip during the day; you probably don’t have that. BUT YOU MIGHT either have a spouse to watch the kids while you grocery shop OR no kids at all! In the end, we all make it work amirite!?!?!?!?

If I’m feeling super bold, I’ll remember to take a photo of my shopping cart to share with you and do a recap of what ACTUALLY went down in the kitchen. In the meanwhile, do you meal prep? Why? Why NOT?! Do you even like to cook? What’s your go to week night meal?!

I Have a Thing for Cookbooks {in case you haven't noticed}

A few weeks ago when I was baking pies with Joy the Baker, saying that will probably never ever get old, I realized that I have a mild obsession with cookbooks... this came when we were discussing what books we were currently reading. I was stopped in my tracks, um, none? Then it hit me. I wasn't NOT reading. I was just reading cookbooks as opposed to literature.

I have briefly touched on this before, about how I read cookbooks like real books. Then I realized it is largely because a lot of great bloggers have become cookbook authors, and that lends to their books reading like a story. That theory was reinforced when I received Molly Yeh's new cookbook "Molly on the Range" for Christmas. Her book is true literature. It is so much more than a cookbook. It is a memoire, a living memoire!

When I was telling my mom about Molly's cookbook she said, "That's what you want to do, isn't it?" Yes. Yes, it is. I would love to take my love of food and drinks and life and coffee and travel and translate it to this blog so seamlessly that it could become a story worthy of reading between a hard cover. With all of this love of cooking and cook books and stories in mind, I would like to share with you a few of my favorites!

"Homemade Decadence" by Joy Wilson. No surprise that this one is on the list. It is Joy's most recent cookbook and covers brunch dishes and cookies and ice cream and cakes... from basics all the way to the most intricate of yummies! One of my favorite recipes would be the brown butter, lemon, and honey cupcakes. Yes, they are as amazing as they sound. I have made them a few times now, and these tiny heavenly cakes do NOT disappoint. Find a neighbor with a meyer lemon tree and go ham on those bad boys.

"Molly on the Range" by Molly Yeh. Now, this cookbook has been in my library for all of 17 days BUT it's already life changing. I haven't made any of the recipes from the book cause I've been recovering from pneumonia... but I have made the tahini buttercream oreos from her blog no less than half a dozen times. Each time slightly better than the last. In her book she explains her love for tahini and why is pops up throughout all of her recipes. Read it. Bake from it. Cook from it. You won't regret it. 

"One Pot" by Martha Stewart. Every mom needs this book. It is awesome. I make the sausage and sweet potato soup just about every other week in the winter time. Plus the turkey biscuit bake is divine! This could revive weeknight dinner. Trust me.

"EveryDayCook" by Alton Brown. This book is just fun. I bought it during KidneyStoneGate of 2016, and it's so intriguing. I'll be honest, I haven't cooked out of it yet, but that has more to do with being a busy season of work and life and holidays and less to do with the approachability of this book. I even have a pressure cooker now cause it is on his tools for the kitchen list... Pho will happen in my kitchen and SOON!

I have 4-5 other go to cookbooks, but I can't give all my tricks away at once! What are your favorite cookbooks to read and cook from?! What books am I missing from my short list?!

Konmari + Donuts {The first timer's guide to tidying}

I’m late to the game on the "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" but I don’t care. I bought the book. I DEVOURED it. I have begun the process. AND I FEEL AMAZING ABOUT IT.

The only SLIGHT thing was the time I almost threw away the title to my car, but as Marie Kondo would say… just get another!

Y’all. If you have purged or cleaned or organized your house ever with little to no lasting result, get this book. Read this book. Embrace this book.

If you have watched any morning TV shows at ALL in the past three years you have surely seen a segment on this book. If not, we probably wouldn’t get along cause you probably don’t think Kathie Lee and Hoda are hilarious. But whatevs, we can figure out our friendship later… The snippet from most of these segments that sticks with people is asking yourself if your belongings “spark joy.” This probably sounds crazy to you/completely weird UNTIL you read the book and start following the konmari method then subsequently find yourself thanking random belongings in your house out loud, or not?! Whatever, I’m not weird.

Anyway, here are my big takeaways from the process so far:

1.     You have to focus on YOUR things. Not your husbands or your kids or your roommates. DO YOU FIRST. You don’t know how other people relate to their stuff, and you can’t be tossing someone else’s clothes and books willy nilly.

2.     My bigger question ISN’T about something sparking joy, but rather the concept of has it served its purpose. Marie Kondo talks about the clothes that you hold on to because it was something you loved but never wear or worse yet something you HATE but you spent too much money on. Did that aforementioned garment teach you about your current style? Then thank it, remove it, and move along! It has served its purpose. And to the shirt that you hate… did it teach you what styles you DON’T like? It has served its purpose!

3.     PAPER: This is where having served purpose is a much better question. Did that baby shower invitation for someone you haven’t seen in three years serve its purpose? Yes. Yes, it did. You are FREE to toss it. I tossed SO MUCH PAPER AND I FEEL SO ALIVE!!!

4.     Finally, you cannot being this process or expect it to be easy/good/refreshing UNTIL you have finished the book AND are emotionally ready to do it.

5.     Donuts make the process WAY better. If you don’t believe me… follow this recipe then try to convince me otherwise. Marie might be upset that I added a mini donut pan to my kitchen BEFORE konmari'ing it, but she probably has also never tasted a brown buttered champagne strawberry donut. So there.