Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Dear Jill,
You won't get a "Thank You" note because we talked on the phone.  You knew one wasn't coming though, right?  I would have put Becks on the phone to properly thank you, but he was busy helping with the Ninja building.  We'll call tomorrow.  Or Friday.  Or in maybe in 3 months...


Dear Anyone Else Reading,
Please note that Becks' birthday is in January.  Cooper's is in April.  We were confused by who got the gift since Jill didn't put a name on the box.  Cooper assumed it was his since Becket's was "forever ago".  But I explained that this was "Aunt" Jill we were discussing.  And that's why we love her.


Projects, Projects Everywhere

Is there anyone who doesn't love a good project? I mean, seriously . . . not even a little bit? Maybe it needs to have the word project in the title in order to be an "officially sanctioned" one, but for some reason, projects just make me smile a little bit.


The first phase of Project 333 is about to come to an end in eight short days. It's been easier to accomplish than I originally thought. Have I missed the clothing in the big bins upstairs? Not really. Do I plan on donating most of them. Absolutely. Does the next phase terrify me? Oh, god, yes! The problem with phase two is the months that it will encapsulate. Considering it is snowing right now, I'm concerned that I won't have a mix of warm and cold clothes. Plus school will end some time in June (fingers crossed), so I will need a mix of professional and non-professional clothing. But I'm pretty sure that I can make it work without too many issues. Here's the plan:
  • Keep four pair of capris on the top shelf and trade them in for the pants when the weather gets too warm. 
  • Buy some tops from L. L. Bean that will work for both work and non-work days. 
  • Get rid of anything that doesn't seem like it will work for the next six months. 
  • Stop buying shirts from Old Navy since they aren't very thick and they wear out pretty quickly. 
Considering that Project 333 has been pretty much pain free, I'm thinking that I need to reassess my eating . . . more importantly the amount that we eat out. I could easily cook dinner, but all too often, Dave and I eat dinner out. Granted, it's just the two of us, but still . . . it adds up. So, from April to June, no eating out. Conditions? You bet: one dinner out a month (because my sushi making skills are asstacularly bad) and the weekly breakfasts at Panera or Starbucks don't count. That will mean lots more dishes, lots more planning, lots more fiddling with recipes. The book of choice? Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express because I like his approach to recipes . . . basically do what you want within the parameters of the food you have. My kind of food.  If I can make it (and Dave, too), I have a small plan in place at the end of June . . . but that needs more planning probably in the form of a project or two.

- Jill

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shop & Give at the Same Time. It Really is That Simple.

Help the people of Japan.  Shop.
Learn More.
And shop.

See?  Simple!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

American Test Kitchen Best of 2010 Cook Through

I have a problem.  Doesn't it seem like I'm always typing that?  Maybe I'm not.  Or maybe I just bitch about my "problems" more than most.  But let's continue with my current problem.  I love cookbooks!  And when I find one I love, I tell a lot a people about its beauty and worthiness.  You need this one!  You hide veggies in food!  This is the greatest Vegetarian cookbook to be written.  You don't even have to knead the bread.  It's true.  I have 4 cookbooks I flip through on a regular basis:

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian-Mark Bittman
Vegetarian Classics- Jeanne Lemlin
Betty Crocker Cookbook Bridal Edition
Food Revolution- Jamie Oliver

I reach for one of these cookbooks at least once a week.  These are my books that look a little gross within the pages.  Spines are cracked near certain recipes.  Juices are dried on favorite pages.  Soon I'll be making revisions on the pages of my favorites.

I also love cooking magazines.  It's their quickness mixed with their glossy photos of yummy dishes.  I dog-ear a dozen recipes and plot our dinners.  But my problem occurs when I fall out of love.  Those dog-eared recipes get recycled.  The cookbooks are replaced with newer ones.  And as if these loves need another kick to the gut, I rarely cook the same thing twice.  Maybe it's to be fair to the revolving number of cookbook/magazine.  Maybe it's because I want to have something new on my table.  I've gotten better, but still not as good as I'd like.  

One magazine that is the King of All Cooking Magazines is American Test Kitchen's special issues.  I think they come out 4 times a year, but I could be wrong.  The directions are things experienced cooks drool over and novice cooks crave.  The reviews are always spot-on and never feel like advertisements.  If you've never seen or purchased one of these issues, find one today.  I've flipped through this issue at least a dozen times.  Each time a new recipe would entice me, but I'd put it back.  I don't need another cooking magazine!  But last week I remembered my plan to cook through a cookbook.  Could this be considered a cookbook?  I think so.  It has 95 recipes ranging from snacks to desserts.  There isn't one recipe that I really don't want to try.  It's full of recipes that I would never try.  I'm not a huge fan of roast or ribs.  But the pages look delicious.  I'd try those recipes if I had to.  And now I'm forcing myself to try them.

I won't always blog about it.  I can't do that.  And I won't strive to photograph them like a food blogger.  But when I do, I'll share my opinions and what the family thought of them.  When we need a dinner, this will be the first place I'll go to.  Friends?  If we invite you to dinner, it will come from this magazine.  I'm not putting a deadline on it because I just want to finish them.  And I won't buy another cookbook or cooking magazine until I've finished.  Gasp...  With one little exception...  American Test Kitchen special magazines are fair game.  I've missed an issue before and it haunted me.  Thankfully a friend had it and I could copy the recipes I knew I'd try.  Scroll all the way to the top of this post and you'd also know that I haven't tried any of them.  But I have them if I want to.

I've made one and I'll write about it tomorrow: Empanadas.

p.s. Another cookbook that I'll tackle this year comes out in June.  I thought I'd add some balance to my diet.  Pre-order it.  And buy this while you're at it.  Come June you'll be thanking me.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Flickr Stuff

I haven't worried too much about Flickr crazies.  I also haven't had photos of my kids turn up on random websites.  Maybe then I'd start to worry.  But here's two things I don't understand:

1. Tumblr.  Yes, it's flattering that someone is inspired by my photo.  But when it flies around the web & people click back to the photostream & they don't say "Hi"...  That's weird.

2. People who Favorite a photo or add me as a contact and they don't have photos available to me to look at.  Fine.  If you want to keep your kids private, good.  But don't expect me to share mine with you.  I'll block you.

OK.  I'm done.


p.s. I think I found my cookbook to cook through.  More on that later.