Everyone I know (okay, online anyway) is in love with their Instapot, and while I have not yet succumbed, we do have a few time-saving kitchen devices. There’s an older pressure cooker that I pull out only rarely – just one bad experience with a chicken soup spill/semi-explosion (entirely operator error, btw) stays with you for a while, and a newish Crock-Pot which I use at least once a week because I do like an easy dinner prep.
Our favorite, and possibly over-served but maybe not because I never get push back, dish is Smitten Kitchen’s Black Bean Ragout. Served over garlick-y toast, rice or pasta or sweet potatoes (we do love our starches), with avocado and quick pickled red onions. The leftovers (if there are any) go into another favorite – and super easy – dish also from Smitten Kitchen – Spaghetti Squash tacos (shhh, I even microwave the spaghetti squash – it’s so fast and easy).
These lovely Parmesan crackers are another favorite. Serve them alone, or with almost anything – hummus, chutney, more cheese, and it will look as if you know more than you do about baking.
We’ve been eating more plant-based foods around here, it’s healthier, more eco-friendly and kinder, too. And the Minimalist Baker is wonderful go-to resource. I made the One Pot Red Lentil Chili for that freezing cold Marathon Monday and it was delicious! Start it on the stove and move to the slow-cooker.
We also love the wonderfully flavorful and hearty Abundance Kale Salad. Prep this on Sunday and you have meals for a few days. I also prep grain bowls for lunches. Make your favorite grains in advance and put them in the fridge, do the same with roasted veggies. In the morning, pack a bowl with whatever strikes your fancy. Fast dressing? A chef friend told me to slightly water down hummus for a quick tahini dressing. Yummy and easy.
Easter is here, and this year I had to plan ahead for a few reasons instead of my usual seat of my pants plan. Did I ever tell you of the almost failed Easter because I didn’t look for the plastic eggs until the day before Easter and unbeknownst to me, my husband had inadvertently recycled the eggs? Did I mention my undying love for the Auburndale Star Market and the manager who gave me their left-over Easter event plastic eggs? No? It was a close one.
So, in plenty of time for Easter, I invited some of my favorite people over for an Easter basket photo shoot. My favorite candy? Cadbury mini eggs, and no, I don’t share them easily. A close second? These yummy Cubze from The Happy Chocolatier.
Turns out that I haven’t been very good at sharing these either. I sense a theme.
Check out the beautiful baskets that Debbie, Leah, Kim and I put together. (photo credit Debbie)
My children are older now, but never too old to get chocolate or a care package. I packed up the fun vintage packaged crayons from Target, plastic eggs (filled with Reese’s chocolate eggs) and Lake Champlain dark chocolate bunnies, fun pastel post-its (they are students,after all), and these cute as a button watches from Armitron.
And, temporary tattoos (the only kind of tattoo I’d like to see, btw) from Tattly.
Sending care packages is one of my favorite things to do when they’re away. You don’t need a holiday for an excuse to shower someone with gifts. Need ideas? I go from the practical gifts that moms everywhere know their kids need like socks, clothes, school supplies (notebooks, paper and pens), to a new book they’d like. What else? A water bottle or travel coffee mug, holiday decorations, and food – always welcomed by the college set. I’ve sent everything from a cookies and a vanilla cake to avocados. Just pack everything carefully (freeze the cake) and you’re all set. It helps to have a great resource – I use the post office for regular packages but anything requiring special attention, my go-to is Tom at The UPS Store in Newtonville. Amazing customer service, every time.
Disclaimer: I recieved Armitron watches for this post. All other items were purchased. All opinions are, and remain, my own.
I do like a good snow day – especially when I can plan ahead of time for it and have no where to be. Here’s a super easy and quick project I did on our last snow day.
First I took an decorative outside plant stand and painted it white (Rust-oleum or Krylon are both brands that I have used with equal success – this project was Rust-oleum). Then I re-purposed a plastic IKEA place mat to make shelf liners and cut to size (notice how I even rounded the edges – so fancy). And then slid the place mat piece through the side. Add a candle, hand lotion, and cute paper napkins and you have a little more storage. This would be sweet with a tiny plant or vase with flowers. Do you have a favorite quick DIY project? Share in the comments – I could use some inspiration for Thursday.
I was recently invited to a holiday party with a group of Xfinity Moms to learn about new and improved Comcast services. I have partnered with them for this sponsored post to share with you a few of my favorite things. As always, all opinions are my own.
So on a very cold night last week, I was persuaded to leave the comfort of my home, and a potential evening of binge watching The Crown, to learn more about Xfinity at the Comcast store in Burlington. Okay, my decision was helped along by the promise of prizes – namely a goodie bag of cute Xfinity swag and time with some bloggers I know in real life and online. Great timing, because we are looking over our phone, internet, and television service and about what is best for our now far flung family. With two kids in college, the daily household internet and television use might be down but only until they’re home again – and in the meantime, we’re not willing to give up fast internet speed and service.
So, what did I learn? A lot, actually. Did you know that 86 percent of in-home broadband use will travel over wi-fi this year, and by 2020 Americans will have an average of 50 wi-fi connected devices in their homes? What?! I can’t wait to see our future home! Like The Jetsons but without the flying cars.
While we nibbled on yummy food, and as I finally warmed up with a hot cider, I learned about Xfinity XFi and some cool new features. Like what? Well, you can pause wi-fi on your network by device OR user! Hello homework helper! That is definitely a feature that I wish we had while our kids were younger. So awesome for managing screen time. More features for the younger set?
Comcast has partnered with one of my favorite sites for help in determining appropriate content for kids is Common Sense Media, and now you can get ratings and reviews directly on the TV. And you can set up controls by age – super helpful.
Well, it’s almost Christmas and the Santa Tracker has fun games, music, movies and sing-a-longs, updates how many days until Santa will be here. Year round, The Kids Zone is a safe and secure place for them to explore age appropriate content.
We also learned that voice recognition is here…and it is awesome. Say you want to re-watch (no judgement) Love Actually – just say so and it will play it! And once you’re watching the movie, you can replay your favorite scene… like my favorite performance of All I want for Christmas is You.
Xfinity makes finding your favorite shows a breeze with a very cool user interface that can be set to menu style below or using images – I’m seriously into the visual menu. And for your sports fans – check out the team remotes!
Wait, there’s more! We learned that Xfinity Mobile was the nation’s first wireless service and you can set up your account in different ways – either “By the Gig” for $12 per GB of shared data across all lines per month, or an unlimited plan for $45 per month, per line. If you’re paying by the gigabyte, you can “switch and save” by changing to Unlimited anytime during the billing cycle. Or also “mix and match” so each individual has a data option that makes works best for them. Great idea – our mobile needs seem to change monthly.
My favorite feature? If you’re home and can’t find your phone (phew – it’s not just me), you can ask the tv where your phone is. My kids will really like this feature so I can stop asking them to call my phone for me. Yes, it may happen once or twice…a week.
Wow, Xfinity has a lot going on! And I haven’t even mentioned their home security, control and energy management platform called Xfinity Home. You can stay connected to your home wherever you are. And they have awesome apps for streaming, checking your home security, Comcast account, and connecting to your email and with Voice2go access which lets you take Xfinity Voice virtually anywhere (including overseas). Now that’s a feature your college student can use if they’re lucky enough to take a semester abroad!
So many features, and such a innovative and thoughtful approach to integrating your tech life with your real life activities. Well done, Comcast!