We have had a lot of drastic makeovers in our house since we bought it and oh man, I love a good ‘before and after’ post to show how far we’ve come. A few years ago we did a major overhaul on our master bedroom (like major-major: there used to be a kitchenette in our bedroom!) which was a makeover for the ages. Off of our beautiful new bedroom was a secret little sunroom that needed some love — outdated carpet over even more outdated linoleum floors, dark brown wood paneling, and an eyesore of a 1970s ceiling fan. I’ve been saying I’ll tackle it for years, but we just never had the time so the door remained shut and the space went unused and frozen in the ’70s — out of sight, out of mind! Then in March when it looked like the stay at home order was about to start, I realized I might finally have all those free weekends I needed to finally give this room the makeover it deserved.  read more

Before we started social distancing, I used to go to the grocery store at least 3 times a week. Popping into the store every few days for last minute ingredients that I forgot or fulfilling a craving I had for a dinner idea. Now I am trying to stretch my grocery trips to last me 9 or 10 days and it’s totally flipped the way I think about my meal plan. I’m leaning on recipes that use up every last ingredient in the fridge and picking proteins that have a longer shelf life. The al fresco chicken sausage has been a lifesaver. I have different varieties stocked up in my fridge to toss into a pasta dish or serve on top of roasted spaghetti squash, to mix into omelets and frittatas, and I’ve even chopped up the buffalo chicken style sausage on top of a loaded baked potato. read more

A few years ago I hosted a bridal shower at my home on a steaming hot summer day. The weather was so warm that I started to panic that my menu wouldn’t hold up in the heat. I went down my list of recipes, trying to figure out what I could rework and tweak to survive the oppressive backyard sun. I got to the potato salad on the list and decided to cross off my traditional recipe (which you can find in my cookbook!) from the menu and swap it for a French-style potato salad made with a vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise. It was a winner, and something I always keep in my back pocket now for warm weather gatherings. read more

As we enter week 8 of being at home, I’m starting to feel like we’re hitting our stride and finding some new routines that make this not-so-normal situation feel a little more normal. The weather is starting to feel like spring and that is helping a LOT — getting fresh air and playing in the yard was a major mood-lifter this weekend. And there have been lots of silver-linings too, like finally having time to work on big house projects (I have some great before and after posts coming soon) and tackling my stack of to-be-read books. I’m finding it’s a delicate balance of keeping busy and cutting ourselves some slack these days. I’ve got some timely updates in this week’s download with Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day on the calendar, plus lots of reading list reviews, garden plans, and some kids stuff — scroll down to read more!  read more

Have you noticed recently how so many people are cooking from scratch more now that everyone is at home? We have tried our hand at fresh bread, roasting chickens, and tons of baked goods. Part of it is that we’re looking for something to do at home on the weekends (cooking with kids is usually a pretty fun, if not messy, activity). But another big part of it is out of necessity! We place our grocery store order online and it’s a bit like playing roulette to see what exactly will be in the bags when we arrive for curbside pick-up. My recent order was missing an out of stock item that I was craving: tortilla chips to dunk in my favorite Heluva Good! Dips, so I decided to try and make my own. read more

Taco night is a favorite in our household. Whenever I’m stumped about what to make for dinner, the first suggestion that always gets thrown out is “how about tacos?” and I am nearly always on board. Lately we have been making it part of our Saturday routine to grill up a bunch of tasty chicken and make our own tortillas (my sister gave us this fun tortilla making kit for Christmas and it’s fun to do as a family).  One of my favorite side dishes to make when we’re having taco night is a spicy chipotle broccoli slaw. Most of the time when I make this dish, I use a broccoli slaw mix that you can get near the bagged lettuce at the grocery store. I’ve had trouble finding it lately in my grocery orders so I decided to make my own version — scroll down for the full recipe! read more

There’s a lot of tough news in the world right now, so I’ve been trying my hardest to find the silver linings wherever I can. Little bits of light and positivity make all the difference to my mood and outlook. It can be something as simple as making our weekends feel a little bit different than the weekdays, even though when we’re all at home together it all kind of feels like it’s blending together! One fun thing I’ve been doing on the weekends is mixing up some special cocktails, experimenting with the ingredients I have on hand to make something tasty. My friends at Riondo Prosecco sent me some of their delicious, bubbly prosecco to  #TakeASeccoTo enjoy a little happy hour, and I got to work mixing up this simple cocktail. read more

Let’s have a little Earth Day chat about a topic I’ve become pretty passionate about over the last few years: reducing food waste! There are a lot of reasons to be conscious about reducing food waste, for me the lightbulb went off when I read that the EPA estimates about 22% of trash in landfills is food waste — more than any other single material in our everyday trash. And when food decomposes in landfills the nutrients in the food never return to the soil — the wasted food rots and produces methane gas. Being someone who writes about food for a living, I had a major realization that I was wasting a LOT of food. My fridge was a graveyard of uneaten leftovers and excess ingredients from photoshoots, and I knew I had to take a look at ways to majorly reduce the food waste I was creating at home.  read more

Last year around this time, I embarked on my first ever foray into gardening. I started with pretty low expectations since I’ve never been able to keep a house plant alive, but I wanted so badly to give it a try and see if I could make it work. We built raised beds, we filled them up with a variety of seedlings, and we started to watch it grow. By the end of the summer I had a bustling veggie garden with some big successes (more tomatoes, lettuce, and jalapeños than we knew what to do with), and some failures (basil that bolted, cucumbers that were stunted, and squash that never produced). More than anything, I grew a totally new, bustling love for the garden and an eagerness to do it all over again bigger and better this year.My favorite resource for figuring out what do to next in our garden is Mary Buri of @MarsKitchenGarden. I was first introduced to Mary’s wealth of vegetable gardening knowledge through my cousin and I instantly became hooked on the treasure trove of tips and tricks she shares on her page. Mary recently launched a garden coaching and design service, on top of being a mom to 4 kids, and somehow also managed to say yes when I asked to her to do this interview! I’m constantly learning from the information she shares in her instagram stories, and am so inspired by watching her business and garden grow — I hope this interview helps spark the same excitement in future veggie gardeners: read more

With kids out of school and adults working from home all day, like most people we are eating three full meals a day at home. Add to that the non-stop toddler snack requests, and my own time spent in the kitchen working on recipes for this site and my clients, I’m constantly looking for ways to make mealtime a little bit easier. It’s true, even food bloggers can use a break from all of this home cooking! One thing I’ve been doing for my own lunches lately is making a quick little snack plate to fill me up when I only have a few minutes to eat between juggling work and mom-life. It’s a choose your adventure sort of lunch, with a boost of protein from Hood Cottage Cheese, and whatever else you can find in your fridge and pantry. read more