Disclosure: This post includes content from sponsors.
Howdy friends! I have some pretty amazing news to share with you today.
Disclosure: This post includes content from sponsors.
Howdy friends! I have some pretty amazing news to share with you today.
Oh my goodness has this month flown by! I have been a busy little bee lately, but I finally have some news to share on my second book. The Natural Mama & Baby Solution is having its first photo shoot with the amazingly talented Kimberly Davis NEXT WEEK!!
OMG, right?! I have been working my tail off testing recipes and making plans for next week's shoot and preparing to hand in the first half of the book (with all of the food recipes and bath and body projects) to my publisher. The next phase will be all about working on sewing projects, collecting contributor content, and writing all of technical information to beef up the first two chapters.
Y'all, this is a HUGE book. It's massive! Many times over the past year I have wondered just what I was thinking when I put together this behemoth.
It will all be worth it though when it's out there helping kinda-crunchy moms like me make it through their pregnancies and first years of motherhood with a little extra creativity and natural living know-how on their sides.
Did I mention I would be illustrating the tutorials and editorials as well? WHAT? I know. I'm a crazy woman.
Meanwhile, Kimberly took our very first book photo with her own lovely bathing beauty. This here is just a little taste of what's to come. To stay in the loop for book number two make sure and sign up for the book's mailing list. The list will get first dibs on signed copies, testing samples, and other amazing goodies so get on there quick before it fills up! (Just kidding. It's an email list. It can't fill up.)
By the way, if you are a writer, blogger, yoga maven, doula, pediatrician, early childhood educator, or any other kind of professional tied to the world of pregnancy and babies please hit me up! I am looking for folks to contribute short pieces (ranging from 2-3 sentence to 2-3 paragraph blurbs) for my new book. I am including as much expert input as I can and I need YOUR help to do so.
If you aren't one of these lovely people but you happen to know one I would be grateful for an introduction! Please send all inquiries to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am going to be completely immersed in this whole book-writing thing for the next two weeks so you may not hear from me much. I'll be back soon - and with some pretty banging fall recipes with goodies like sweet potato, apple, sriracha... you know, all the traditional things for fall.
Before I go I just wanted to give a big shout-out to Central Market's cooking school and culinary instructor, Sahar Arafat-Ray. Central Market generously invited me to attend a cooking class and I took the opportunity to beef up my dumpling skills. Sahar's Asian Dumpling Class was great! I learned how to make Yaki Mandoo (Korean Beef Dumplings), Bun Rieu (Vietnamese Crab Dumpling Soup), and Har Gow (Cellophane Shrimp Dumplings). I even got a little refresher on Gyoza (Japanese Pot Stickers).
A school bus that has been purchased by a private owner and converted for some purpose other than hauling people around, such as RVing. Can be a very economical, cost-efficient means of obtaining an RV. Example: I bought an old school bus and turned it into an RV! Now, it is a skoolie!
Welcome to my latest obsession, school bus conversion blogs.
My tendency to daydream is no secret. It's a habit I've indulged in as long as I can remember. When life gets a little too heavy my imagination has a way of stepping in and taking the reigns - steering my attention away from whatever is bringing me down and pointing it to a more appealing fantasy.
Right now that fantasy involves packing my family up for an indefinite road trip. Picture this: a tiny house on wheels roaming from one national park to another. No mortgage to pay. No lawn to mow. Just Scott, CC, and I on the open road. (Well, just Scott, CC, and I, two cats, and an elderly collie-mix. Hehe.)
Sounds perfect, right? And maybe just a little bit crazy.
At least I thought it was crazy until I started poking around on the internet. It turns out that there are a ton of families out there living the dream. Just type #skoolie into Instagram and you'll find a flood of photos and stories from folks out there living on the road.
In fact, I personally know two families that live full-time in RVs.
It's a thing people do and I want IN.
Tiny Bus Home via Shalom Mama
While I work on convincing hubby to go along with my schemes (I'd say he's a good 10% on board at this point) I'm living vicariously through the following Skoolie blogs. The following blogs are written by people who are out there doing this thing RIGHT NOW. It's almost too much fuel for my skoolie fantasy to handle.
My Favorite Skoolie Blogs
Know any other great skoolie blogs? Leave your hot tips in the comments for me to drool over.
Howdy gang. How's your summer going?
I turned 35 and all I got was astigmatism. Hardy har har, yes? But seriously, I treated my ever squinty eyes to an eye exam as a birthday gift to myself and walked away with this snazzy set of glasses.
My Mom got me a Ninja Coffee Bar, which is just as amazing as Sofia Vergara says it is. Hubby got me several little gifts that I've had on my list: a butter dish, a pepper mill, and a funny cat to hold my steel wool on the kitchen windowsill.
Getting old is hilarious.
But some people still find me interesting. I was interviewed by the folks at Foody Direct recently. Check out their blog post to hear what motivates me to keep writing and making.
I'm working on putting together my next series of classes at CRAFT Austin. What would you like to learn about? I've got bath bombs, gemstone soaps, DIY Nail Polish, and mineral makeup on my mind.
If those sound interesting to you, please let me know! Your input will help me select which classes to offer for Fall 2016.
I attended a sweet little media event at Venezia Gelato a couple weeks back. This cute little gelato place is located on South Lamar, right next to Mother's Tattoos.
I enjoyed a light and creamy cone filled with lemon and pistachio gelatos alongside some of my favorite Austin blogger and instagrammers, Girl Eats World, Sugarfoot Eats, and Bake Me Away. Thanks for the invitation, Venezia!
Guess what else was right next to Mother's Tattoos? I tried to catch a pokemon inside it, but that didn't work out.
At home we've been devouring Noosa yogurt. The Aussie-style creamery sent over a massive box of Strawberry Rhubarb for us to check out and it was delicious! I am delighted to see their pumpkin flavor appearing on shelves lately too. My other favorite Noosa would have to be lemon. Scott loves cherry, and CC likes the strawberry rhubarb best.
Speaking of CC, he had his second birthday at the end of May. Whoah, right? Not to be totally cliche, but I CAN NOT believe how fast this is going. How is my babe already a tot? We threw him a little party with kids, crafts, pizza, and a trampoline full of balloons.
I've been hard at work trying to catch up on writing chapters for book number two. I still haven't settled on a proper name for my book about natural living projects for mama and baby, but I'm hoping something snappy will hit me soon. Inspiration is aplenty, what with my sister popping out an adorable nephew recently and my first fabric sponsor, Honey Be Good, sending a shipment of beautiful eco-concious fabrics for me to work with.
I managed to churn out almost three chapters on a recent trip to my mom's house. 10,000 words a day is a furious pace, especially with a certain someone demanding a certain something constantly. Am I still using 500 extra calories a day? I sure hope so.
As for the rest of our summer, we've been doing our best to get out there an enjoy ourselves despite the heat. Swimming is a huge part of our strategy and we do our best to get to local spots like Deep Eddy or the YMCA whenever we can. My folks also have a saltwater pool at their house which makes trips to Nanna and Pop's house extra enticing. We even hiked down to the greenbelt last weekend for a little creek swimming.
We spent the Fourth of July at my parents' place as well. Their neighborhood had a little parade with families on bikes, kids in wagons, and a real-deal fire truck. Naturally, our wagon was decorated the silliest and got loads of confused looks. I asked my 3-year old nephew what the eagle should say and here we are. I'm a firm believer in letting kids imaginations take the lead. It makes them happy and the results are often hilarious. Caw!
I'm trying (again) the Little Moments Photo-a-Day Challenge. So far, I'm on Day 3, and have posted 2 photos. Not bad, right? You can follow my adventures on Instagram, or better yet, join the fun with Little Moments.
What are you doing for fun this summer? Give me the lowdown in the comments below.
The overall theme of this year's new years resolution is "self-love". 2015 was a rough one. It started strong with my first book coming out and getting to watch my first baby grow into a toddler. Then in the summer my world was shaken up. Despite the quakes I have managed to keep plowing ahead - signing a second book deal, starting my own business, and snagging a few really fun freelance gigs. My son continues to inject even the darkest days with boundless joy and for that I am grateful. Here's hoping that 2016 will be a good one. The folks in my little corner of the universe could use a solid win.
What are you hoping and planning for in the new year? I'm setting the following goals for the twelve months ahead.
Forgive My Body
I have not been particularly kind or careful with my body over the past six months. I know, deep down, that in order to be healthy my body must be cared for. It must be nourished, exercised, and yes, loved. I am not only her passenger but also her steward and I need to find the strength to take back the reins. I must forgive this body for losing something irreplaceable, for being fallible, fragile, and human. That means eating better, moving more, and becoming an advocate for my own health. Most of all it means granting this imperfect body the same grace I would give someone I love. That's easier said than done, but I'm working on it.
Dress for Success
If I'm going to get any better at this whole "self love" thing than that also means treating myself to clothes that make me feel stylish and confident. As far as I know, I'm not one of those people that is notoriously bad at dressing myself, but as I become more and more wrapped up in motherhood and career I find myself with very little time or energy for fashion. I feel like I barely have time to get dressed - let alone maintain a decent wardrobe. At the same time I need to look "smart" when I am out and about promoting my book or working on my business.
Rather than adding another task to my ever-growing plate I decided to let an expert help me out with this one. I just signed up for my first Stitch Fix. If you aren't familiar with this service let me sum it up for you. Stitch Fix sends outfits right to your door that have been hand-picked by your own personal stylist. When your outfit arrives you can try everything on and decide which items to buy and which to send back. Pretty nifty!
I'm going to be part of their influencer program which will give me the chance to share my little fashion journey with all of you over the next year. Stay tuned for outfit photos and major shopping decisions to come. Exciting stuff, I know. If you have been curious about using Stitch Fix now is a great time to try it out. New year. New clothes. Let's do it together. Tag your IG photos with #stitchfix and we'll compare hauls.
Finish my Second Book
I'm scheduled to hand in my second manuscript in Fall 2016. It's going to be a busy year! Not only do I have to write an entire book about creating natural and handmade goodies for mama and baby, I have to name the thing. We started out thinking it would be called The Natural Baby Solution (a nod to my first book) but are there really any solutions when it comes to babies? I just can't decide if I like that title or not. We'll see!
In the meantime I have lots and lots of work to do. I'll be sewing up a storm thanks to the book's fabric sponsors, Spoonflower and Honey Be Good, whipping up skin care treats, and cooking like crazy while I perfect the many food and drink recipes the book will contain. Phew! Oh wait. I mean, WOO, right?
Get Knocked Up
With all of this book and business stuff going on it probably seems crazy to try and have another baby, but you know what they say. Time waits for no man, and for no mama either. Everything that happened this Summer set me back emotionally and physically, but I'd like to spend 2016 getting back on track. I'll never forget what I lost, but if I want more children, and I do, I've got to try and move on. The idea leaves me both hopeful and terrified. I'm hoping that setting this goal and speaking my wishes out loud will help quell my anxiety and build some optimism.
Make Make it Good Apothecary Sustainable
I mean that not only in the environmental sense but also in the economic department. By the end of 2017 I would like to be living off of my business. No more hourly job. No more working for somebody else. I'd like to finally achieve that career independence I've been dreaming about for the past decade or so. I think this idea might just be IT. I'm busting my butt to build a brand that I'm proud to share with the world, and I'm excited to create a business model that has philanthropy built in to its very core. I am looking forward to loving what I do.
Let's do this, 2016! Bring it on.
Oh my poor abandoned blog. I feel awful for the way I've let the old girl shrivel up lately. It's just that life has been particularly overwhelming these past few months. CC has finally reached the age where getting anything done with him underfoot is totally impossible. I try to cook and he climbs the stove. I try to clean and he commandeers the vacuum cleaner - saddling it like a noisy stallion as he gallops along his path of destruction.
In short, he's a handful. So, it was with teary eyes and mixed feelings that I dropped the little tyke off at baby school yesterday morning. He'll only be attending three short days a week but to his mama that eighteen hours feels like an eternity. I came home to an empty house and wondered how I would make it through the day without someone trying to feed me his pre-chewed cheese sticks. I spent most of my freedom worrying about whether or not CC was equally distressed at my absence, but did manage to get some much-needed work done before picking him up in the afternoon.
It turned out that he hadn't missed me much at all. In fact, he was in such a great mood that he spent the entire car ride home (and subsequent afternoon) babbling, giggling, and singing to himself. He loved baby school - like really really loved it. If his enthusiasm continues I may even up his attendance to five days a week. The prospect of having thirty hours free of toddler interruption is kind of mind boggling.
Anyway, all of this freedom means that Mary Makes Good will finally be getting some regular love once again. Starting with a brand new recipe this Friday I am making it my mission to keep this space hopping with projects that are yummy, crafty, and of course, good.
Book sales are trucking right along. I still haven't seen a copy in a big-box bookstore but I'm keeping my eyes peeled. If YOU see my book on a shelf anywhere please do me a favor and snap a pic. I am dying to see it out there in the world. I did get to experience a little of that feeling when I gave my first demo at Whole Foods last weekend. The whole body department set up this cute little cart to peddle copies. By the time I left the building this little pile had shrunk! Thanks to Kimberly the dang thing is so pretty that I know once people see it they will want to buy it. Crossing my fingers that more store start picking it up soon!
In the meantime you can get copies (digital and print) online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or you can get a signed copy directly from me. If you are outside of the United States, check out Wordery. They offer free shipping on my book to countries all over the world!
Speaking of my book, keep an eye out for awesome posts coming at you for the Natural Beauty Solution blog tour. A bunch of super-duper bloggers have agreed to check out my book, try out recipes, and host a multi-blog giveaway in celebration of The Natural Beauty Solution's release! Visit the following blogs to check out their posts AND to enter for a chance to win a gigantic bundle of natural beauty ingredients and a copy of my book.
Mother's Day is just around the corner so I took the liberty of buying myself a little something. Some women receive flowers or jewelry on Mother's Day (especially their FIRST) Mother's Day, but my husband isn't really interested in gift giving. Since I come from a family in which gift giving is a primary love language this has caused some turmoil over the course of our relationship, but I'm trying hard to let it go. It's not really the gift I want, after all, it's his love and appreciation. Instead of getting angry at his stinginess I try to remember that I have that - then I go out and buy myself a present.
To commemorate my first Mother's Day I bought myself this beautiful print from Spirit & Soul. I plan on matting and framing it once it arrives, then hanging it in my bedroom. If my cash flow were a little more generous at the moment I would also have bought myself a copy of Jade Beall's The Bodies of Mothers: A Beautiful Body Project. Her incredible photography captures the beauty of mamas in all stages, ages, and walks of life - glorious imperfections and all. It's something I'd like to have in the house for my children to discover when they get to that age where we fixate on having perfect bodies. I think recognizing beauty beyond the societal norm is something that enriches the soul - and practice makes perfect!
You might wonder whether this lack of hooplah on my spouse's part leaves me feeling unappreciated. The fact is that yes, it often does - despite my efforts to get over it. If you have a special mama in your life I suggest taking the time to make her feel loved and appreciated for all that she does. It usually doesn't take much. A small token, a few carefully chosen words, and some quality time is all most mamas need. Just quit being a lame-o and do it!
Speaking of love, the bakers of Austin are getting ready to unite once again to help those in need. I'm proud to have been a part of several Austin Bakes events over the past few years. Later this month Austin Bakes will be throwing a citywide bake sale to benefit Nepal in the wake of a devestating earthquake. Visit AustinBakes.com to find out how you can help too. Austin Bakes will need home bakers to donate goodies, volunteers to help run the sale tables, businesses to partner as sponsors (providing supplies, cash donations, and sale locations), and help spreading the word to make this sale the best one yet. The sale is scheduled for Saturday, May 23. Follow Austin Bakes on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to keep up with the latest news.
Tickets are on sale now for this year's Byte of Texas food blog conference. This event is put on by the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, an organization near and dear to my heart. This two-day conference will feature panels, workshops, and of course, great food and drink. Earlybird ticket prices will be available for a limited time so make sure and grab yours right away.
I will be appearing at two different events in Austin this month giving demonstrations on DIY natural beauty. Join me for a free evening of all things honey at Vuka on May 21 from 6:30 - 9:30. I'll be making honey grapefruit honey scrubs, and other honey experts, including cookbook author Marie Simmons, will be giving talks on cooking, wellness, and beekeeping.
I will also be giving a natural beauty talk at The Texas Olive Festival on May 30. Texas Hill Country Olive Company will be hosting the four-day event at their headquarters in Dripping Springs. This celebration of all things olive will include chefs demos, orchard tours, food & wine tastings, live music, and so much more. I'll be sharing some tips on how to use natural virgin olive oil in your everyday beauty routine, demonstrating some olive-based beauty recipes, and selling natural beauty kits and specially priced pre-orders of my book (coming out June 15.) Tickets for The Texas Olive Festival are on sale now.
In other news, my baby is becoming a toddler before my eyes and I can't even handle it. Before I had CC I talked a big game about how I would never feel sad to see my baby grow up. I mean, that's the whole point, right? Turns out I was completely wrong, because every step (yeah, literal STEPS) he takes toward toddlerhood is simultaneously wonderful and heartbreaking. I miss his quadruple-chinned baby face already!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that help support Mary Makes Good and mentions a product that I was given samples of for free.
We spent last weekend doing one of my favorite things - throwing a party! Our friends Keeley and Kirk are having a baby and we couldn't be happier for them. To celebrate we threw a little Jack n Jill shindig which involved a crawfish boil, tattoo themed baby shower goodies, and a Frito Pie buffet. Needless to say it was pretty rockin' for a baby shower. I'll be sharing a whole post on the party sometime soon.
By the way, a friend of mine who works at a certain mega-chain health food grocery store told me that his customers are going bananas over the arrival of an Organic Fritos-style corn chip. This made me chuckle. Texans are very serious about their Frito Pie - even the more health conscious among us. If you are GMO-phobic, you'll be happy to know that Frito alternatives like Sage Valley Organic Corn Chips and Trader Joe's Organic Corn Chip Dippers are out there for your crunching pleasure.
Speaking of food projects, I just received sample swatches from my latest fabric design from Spoonflower. These pizza prints are the first in a new series of food illustration designs that I have in the works. If I can manage it I plan to make CC a pair of pizza pants for his first birthday party which is just a little over a month away. Eeek! How did my baby get to be a year old already?! By the way, you can order your my pizza fabric for your own projects through my Spoonflower shop.
I have a new favorite Instagram feed. Check out @kidsaretheworst for hilarious parent-submitted pictures of kids doing what they do best - blowing our minds with epic jerk moves. The photos are classic and the captions have me snorting and chuckling to myself like a Grade-A wackadoodle. Good stuff.
The folks at NatureZWay sent me some free samples of their reusable bamboo towels to check out. The drying towels are pretty amazing. I've been keeping one next to my drying rack and I must say it dries dishes off in a freaking jiffy. They also sent some re-usable paper towels which are pretty neat, but didn't really work for us. They would be great for folks who are looking for an inexpensive way to bulk up their re-usable kitchen linen collection. Personally I just prefer to use plain old cotton kitchen towels (which I can throw in my washing machine) for my everyday cleanup. My chief complaint is that everyone kept throwing my bamboo towels away! Since they look like paper towels my friends and family are constantly tossing them in the trash when they lend a hand cleaning up. The re-usable paper towels also need to be hand washed and air-dried which is a pain. Again, they are probably a better fit for a different household - maybe one better organized than mine!
We've been doing some work outside the house lately - or I should say Scott Bobleo has been. I've mostly just been watching from the window and supplying drinks. Scott tore down our old deck and built us a brand new one - from scratch! It's big, sturdy, and beautiful - kinda like Scott. We are planning to stain it some weekend soon and install a sail shade and outdoor mister fan by the time Summer hits. We have some planting to do as well. The City of Austin dropped off three new trees for our yard, a fig, an eve's necklace, and a mountain laurel. These little beauties were totally free through the NeighborWoods program!
Living with a ten month old baby is sort of like being trapped inside the world's cutest snow globe - and every time you think you've found your way around the place someone comes along and shakes the damned thing up. So you might also say that living with a ten month old baby is like living inside a tornado... or some kind of crazy vortex where time and reason function totally differently.
My friend, Hilah, who recently had a little boy of her own described the experience of motherhood pretty brilliantly as "the worst-best sleepover party that never ends". That pretty much covers it. On one hand, I am happier than I have ever been in my entire life. On the other hand, I am completely exhausted, physically battered, and constantly stressed. My eye never stops twitching. I can't keep up with work, or household chores, or basic personal hygiene. I'm a mess - but I'm a mess with a full, happy heart, and a deep well of joy. It's pretty mind boggling.
At ten months my little CC is crawling, standing, cruising on the furniture and eating us out of house and home. With his maniacal laugh and appetite for mischief there is never a dull moment. So while I'm picking half-dissolved apple puffs out of my hair every night I remember that sometimes Kids Are the Worst, but they are also always the best.
The Austin Food Blogger Alliance put out its annual City Guide just in time for SXSW. (Which I completely missed by the way. Big surprise. There were ZERO SX events thrown inside the baby tornado snow globe. Zero!) I shared three posts for the guide this year, two updates on older posts (Ice Cream and NY Style Pizza) and a brand new post, Austin's Most Interesting Pizza. Be sure to visit the City Guide to check out awesome guides to food in Austin from a whole gaggle of ATX bloggers.
I sat down for tea a few weeks back with an old friend who recently started her own business hand-blending artisan teas. Lauri launched White Cloud World Teas like a boss, and is out there hustling her tasty teas at fairs and expos all over the place. Lauri's gusto is really inspiring. I need to cultivate some of that energy myself to get my butt in gear and get natural beauty and soap making workshops going soon. The Natural Beauty Solution has been sent to the printer and will be coming out in stores in just a little over two months! I'm simultaneously psyched and terrified.
Speaking of inspirational people, my sister, Heather, will be running the Boston Marathon on April 20. She's running for Project Hope and will be collecting donations for their charity for the next four weeks leading up to the race. Every penny goes directly to Project Hope so please consider stopping by her site to make a donation. You can also check out her blog while you are there - a real treat since Heather also happens to be a really entertaining writer. Go Heather!
I did manage to leave my house earlier this month in order to celebrate my Mom's birthday. We feasted on lobsters at home on her big day and spent the following evening learning to properly pipe buttercream at Make It Sweet. I've always wanted to learn more about cake decorating. That particular skill leaves a big old hole in my culinary repertoire. In fact, baking was the only portion of culinary school where I really struggled. Turns out I can't make biscuits. The shame. THE SHAME!
You know what's a shame? The fact that I saw this robot that makes noodles but it wasn't actually MAKING noodles wen I saw it. I wish you better luck should you happen to be visiting Chen Z over at Oak Hill. Great place for noodles and dumplings, by the way. It's not a very nice place to eat but the food is killer. We usually opt for take-away as the dining room is decidedly uninviting.
I leave you with my most successful baby art project to date - CC's footprints made into valentines. I hope that your Spring is shaping up into something lovely - or at least looking less like Winter.
This past weekend I watched my little sister, Caitlin, perform with her sketch troupe, Taken Seriously, in their debut show at The New Movement Theater. Cait is a natural born comedian. She came up with her first standup routine when she was just a wee tot. She would put her hands on her little toddler hips and deliver this long, storylike joke. Though her pronunciation was still a little hinky (an account of her being a baby and all) she never missed a line.
"Standally" (Stanley), she'd say. "You're not opposed to do dat!"
Now she's all grown up and taking her funny to a whole new level. Knowing she was funny, I expected to get a good chuckle out of her show on Saturday night, but it was way funnier than that. I spent half of the show doubled over with tears running down my face. It was seriously funny, and I couldn't be more proud of my sister for having helped write it. Taken Seriously is opening for Opposites (a really funny improv team) this Wednesday, 8:00pm at The New Movement Theater on Lavaca Street. If you are free, I highly suggest checking it out. Tickets are just $5 and it's BYOB. Follow Taken Seriously on Facebook to find out about future shows.
I saw Cait perform again on Monday night when she M.C.'d Vanessa Gonzalez's show, I Don't Know Dating. There must be something in the air because again, I was totally unprepared for how funny it would be. I Don't Know Dating is a one-woman sketch show where Vanessa explores - quite candidly - the craptastic side of romance.
I Don't Know Dating is on again next Monday, February 16. It is the perfect show to go see with a group of your girlfriends, especially right after Valentine's. It will be at The Spiderhouse Ballroom (29th and Guadalupe) at 7:30. You can check out the FB Event Page for more details.
Speaking of my incredible sisters, Heather is running the Austin marathon this weekend, and is just nine(ish?) weeks out from running the BOSTON MARATHON! What? She's a freaking firework. Heather will be running for Project Life, a charity that does all kinds of amazing things for humanity. She's started a blog, Heather Runs, to track her training and progress and to act as a fundraising platform. Heather's goal is to raise $5,000 for Project Life before she runs Boston. It would be amazing if you would consider making a donation on her page, visiting her blog, and sharing it with your people. Go, Heather, go!
Another new blog I am pumped about is Love the Retro Life. My friend, Sailor, is a period expert, a pinup photographer, and a talented stylist. She is the genius who glammed my bridesmaids and myself for my retro wedding back in 2009. Since then Sailor has run a successful pinup studio. Now she's taking on a lifestyle blog and I couldn't be more excited to see what this talented gal dishes out. Check out her blog at SailorRetro.com or follow her on the Love the Retro Life Facebook Page.
I may not be the one training for a marathon, but I sure do love to load up on carbs. I've been eating a whole lot of pizza lately in order to research picks for this year's pizza guides. I shared my New York Style Pizza Guide yesterday, but am also working on a Neopolitan Guide and hopefully a Most Unique Pizza Guide. My travels recently took me over to the small food truck park at South First and Elizabeth that houses 40 North Pizza and Regal Ravioli. The proprietor of 40 North had asked my friend Suzanna of South Austin Foodie to come check it out, so we made it a food blogger date.
CC and I helped Suzanna gobble two pizza pies. The first was one of their weekly specials - topped with roasted butternut, mozzeralla, thyme, red chiles, and hot honey. Yum. These guys definitely know what they are doing when it comes to pizza. The crust was great, the toppings were tasty, and the pie was baked just right. After that we tried the truck's most famous pie, the Hot Honey. This was a tomato sauce pie topped with dollops of house-made ricotta, thin sliced coppa, and a drizzle of hot honey. I never would have thought to put honey on pizza, but it really works. The sweet honey with the savory tomato is just delicious, especially when an element of heat, like spicy coppa or red chiles is thrown in. I enjoyed 40 North quite a bit and would happily return. By the way, you can check out Suzanna's take on 40 North on her blog, South Austin Foodie.
We were also treated to a bite by Regal Ravioli. I had heard many times how great their beet ravioli was, but hadn't yet had a chance to try it. While I do love a good beet now and then, they aren't my favorite so I am often weary of trying beet-based dishes while I am out and about. I am really glad that I got the chance to taste these ravioli though - they were something special. Caked in a chunky pesto sauce and stuffed with savory beet puree, this was the kind of beet dish that makes me want to give those red little globes another shot. They were really, really good.
So it finally happened. I went outside my front door half topless. I didn't realize until I came in and sat down after taking the trash out that I had never rearranged myself after CC's last nursing session. Whoops. At least I don't think anyone saw me.
The spirits were tasty, and it was nice to hear from a woman who has found success and independence after a decade of full-time motherhood. I sometimes wish I had put my own career on hold so that I could focus just on CC, but my post child-raising years are already spoken for. That's when I dream of starting a folk singing career or moving to a beach in South East Asia.
Stetted is doing the October Unprocessed Challenge so I thought it would be nice to play along. I decided to step it up another notch though and just go paleo for the month. After losing the initial baby weight I had kind of plateaued, so I'm hoping the added restrictions will get things going again.
The transition period into Paleo was a little rough, even though I was already off of dairy, gluten, and most processed food. Taking away all grains, legumes, and refined sugar left me insanely hungry and tired. I also had a headache for several days. I'm happy to report that the fog has lifted, I'm feeling good, and I'm already losing weight.
I'm in the home stretch for writing my book right now which basically means I am losing my mind between work, writing, and baby. Luckily my Mom has offered to help by letting me spend the week at her place. I can focus on work while she gets her snuggles in with CC.
My goal is to have all of the text for Natural Beauty Reset done by the end of this month so that I can spend all of next month on recipe testing and photography. Photo shoots with Kimberly Davis are happening next month and the manuscript is due December 1st. We spent a couple of hours this past Tuesday working on the book's cover. It's funny - I've been working on this book for a long time but now it is starting to feel really REAL.
Someone better call the scientists because I'm pretty sure the speed at which the Earth rotates has increased. Can 2014 really almost be over?
During the past few weeks of being on a gluten and dairy free diet I've been asked several times which is harder to give up. Considering that I can't eat a proper pizza either way, I have a hard time answering with any enthusiasm. When pressed, I'll admit that I do have a preference. If dairy and gluten were both dangling over a cliff and I could only save one...
The thing is I'm not really that big of a cheese eater. Apart from pizza and ice cream, I could definitely live without dairy. It would be really nice to eat a sandwich though, or some spaghetti, or a plate full of dumplings.
While I haven't found any substitutions for bread, I have found something to satisfy my ice cream cravings. NadaMoo sent me a couple of free pints on National Ice Cream Day - which just so happened to land at the end of my first week on this diet. By that time I was already pretty broken up over the prospect of an ice creamless Summer, so while it wasn't exactly Jeni's, it did hit the spot. Thanks, NadaMoo!
The Chocolate Almond Chip is my jam. I even found some gluten-free sugar cones at Whole Foods. The saddest part of this journey so far was handing my Jeni's stash over to Scott Bobleo. I had been working my way through three last pints, but without action they were getting freezer-burned. It seemed senseless to let them go to waste, but it was a little painful to watch him devour them after I'd been rationing it so carefully.
Speaking of Jeni's, my sister got me a copy of the new book, Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts for my birthday, and it is gorgeous. It's a little more out there than the first book, but that appeals to me. The book includes a bunch of new ice cream recipes, including a few variations using a vegan base, and recipes for accompanying cakes, cookies, and other nibbles to go with your ice cream.
Ulysses Press treated me to a review copy of Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches by Kris Holechek Peters. I've ben meaning to whip up a batch or two of ice cream from this book. The author includes recipes using several different bases using everything from Soy to Hemp to Coconut. It will be interesting to see how the different bases from each book stack up.
Do you have a favorite recipe for dairy-free ice cream?
P.S. Just an FYI - Though I was hooked up with some free stuff, I was not paid or asked to write about these books and brands. All the opinions here are my own.
Howdy folks. Just checking in from Babyland, where the name of the game is waiting. I know I said I would be taking a break from Mary Makes Dinner, but today the mood to blog is slapping me silly, so here I am. Food-wise, we've been keeping busy in Babyland. Just last week Scott Bobleo and I whipped up our first test batch of ice cream for a future project that we were way too excited to begin. I won't go into a whole lot of detail just yet. Let's just say that we took our first step in a long journey to fulfilling a dream, and that the first step was banana flavored.
We made (and shared) thirty one pints of Banana Pudding Ice Cream. It's one of my favorite recipes, so we thought it would be the perfect way to kick things off. Over the next year or so, our goal is to make, test, and share a new ice cream recipe every month. Our local friends and family are playing taste-testers and providing feedback that will help us fine tune the formulas into something that will hopefully (one day) grow into our own itty bitty business. We're taking things slow. With a kiddo on the way, a book in the works, and two full-time jobs, this isn't something that will happen overnight, but in good time, we are hoping to make it happen, which is pretty thrilling. By the way, we'll be blogging and sharing the recipes as they come out, so get ready for a whole lot of sweetness in the coming year.
David Leite of Leite's Culinaria stopped by to visit the current students at my former cooking school recently. I have a serious soft spot for this guy. His latest blog post strikes some very tender chords with me. It's all about his personal battle with Bipolar Disorder and how the world of food, cooking, and Julia Child helped him cope. As a person who has dealt with some dark times herself, and has also found peace and focus in the comfort of the kitchen, it's wonderful to hear his story. Seeing him support the Community Cooking School endears me all the more. Now I will have to get my hands on a copy of his book, The New Portuguese Table.
Babywatch 2014 continues, with no imminent signs of Babeleo's arrival. We are hoping that the little one decides to get a move on soon, as I'm battling a bit of hypertension right now. The midwives put me on bed rest, which is kind of tricky for an activity-addicted individual such as myself. I spent a week or so following their orders to remain immobile, but after the pressure went down a bit I began sneaking back into the kitchen, cooking a quick meal here and there. Being eternally hungry enables me to justify these forbidden jaunts pretty well. Tonight I devoured an entire pan of zuchinni before the rest of the meal was even finished. I couldn't help myself. It was covered in salt, pepper, lemon, and parmesan.
Scott Bobleo may not be suffering from hypertension, but he is surely suffering. The poor guy is so wound up over Babeleo's impending arrival that he can hardly sit still. I felt bad for him yesterday, so I made him a chocolate cream pie. I'd like to tout this act as proof of my superior spousing skills, but the truth is that I may have at least partially been motivated by getting to eat some of that pie myself... just maybe.
The kindly folks at R.W. Garcia hooked me up with some free samples of their tortilla chips this week. Their Veggie Dippers were promptly devoured with a tub full of hummus. I'm definitely adding them to my snack wish list. They were pretty addictive, with just enough added flavor to make them a little more interesting than plain chips, but not so much as to make them unsuited for dipping. Thanks for hooking a preggo lady up, chip people!
On Sunday we went out for what might just be (hopefully) our last pre-baby breakfast date. Inspired by Ryan and Julie's Austin chilaquiles investigation on Foie Gras Hot Dog, we decided to check out Senor Buddy's. This place is owned by the same family as Curra's, and offers up a smaller, but similarly stocked menu of Mexican breakfast options. I don't know if I'd rate their chilaquiles plate better or worse than Curra's, but it was sure nice to avoid the crowd that usually mobs Curra's on Sunday mornings. We sat outside in the shade, enjoying our breakfast in the company of just a handful of other diners and a few wandering chickens.
By the way, if you've ever found yourself wondering what the difference is between Mexican food and Tex-Mex, check out this article from my friend, Meredith Bethune. She and Rick Bayless get to the bottom of this age-old culinary question in her latest contribution to Serious Eats.
When I was in first grade, my classmates and I were asked to write our own books. Keep in mind that we were six, so when the teacher asked us to write a "book" she really meant for us to write a short story. We were given xeroxed worksheets to fill out with words and pictures, which were later folded in half and stapled together. Thus, our simple books were published.
There must have been something especially striking about mine, because my teacher ended up submtting it for a young author's award. I swelled with pride when she told me that I'd won. There was even an award's ceremony that took place in a bigger school, AND I got to meet Stephen Kellogg, who was one of my favorite authors at the time.
Though my goals have changed many times since then, there has always been a part of me that was affected by the short, but magical success of my six year old self. I've wanted to be many things in my life, a singer, an artist, a marine biologist, but since first grade, an author was always on the list.
I couldn't be more excited to tell you that this lifetime goal is on its way to being achieved. I signed my first book deal with Spring House Press earlier this week. The working title is Natural Beauty Reset, and the book will serve as a step-by-step guide to replacing all of your commercial beauty products with a 100% natural and DIY routine. While I am also definitely itching to write a cookbook, natural living is a huge passion of mine, so this book is the perfect first project for me. You can read more about the book over on Mary Makes Pretty.
I've been toasting my success with juice a lot lately. As Babeleo grows he/she leaves less and less room for my stomach, so juicing has become an essential part of making sure I get all of the vitamins I need. My juices tend to be pretty veg-heavy, with only a little bit of fruit to help enhance the flavor. My two go-to blends are a green juice made with kale, cucumber, green peppers, apples, lemon and carrot, and a purple juice made with beets, cucumber, carrots, red pepper, and grapefruit.
I baked up a storm on Sunday. I started off by whipping up a batch of vegan Banana Oatmeal Cookies with Carob Chips for the Austin Worldwide Vegan Bakes Sale.
These folks set up their goods at Wheatsville Coop on South Lamar and raised more than $1500 for Austin Pets Alive. I love when baked goods are used to make the world a better place. I picked up a few treats when I stopped by to drop off my cookies: a cocoa crispy treat, a chocolate mint bar, and a mini lemon tart. They were all delicious.
I also baked some non-vegan cookies in preparation for baby time. I used the recipe for Postpartum Cookies from The Austin Food Blogger Alliance Cookbook to stock my freezer with some quick and easy treats. These cookies are packed with whole oats, flax seed, mollasses, and eggs, making them great for nursing mamas. The recipe called for hemp seeds as well, but since I was all out of those, I substituted almonds instead.
Scott was awfully disappointed to find out that the two batches of cookies were already in deep freeze by the time he came home from his morning motorcycle ride. I'm not entirely cruel though. I did save him one.
I know pregnant ladies are supposed to have food cravings, but I've had so few throughout the past eight months that when one does sneak up on me I don't even know how to handle it. At some point last week I was struck with a longing for sushi that went beyond reason. Just thinking about the taste of soy sauce against white rice and avocado and my heart would start pumping right out of my chest.
I immediately began scheming. How could I get my hands on some sushi? Sounds easy, I know. This town is full of sushi joints. The thing is that Bobleo has us on a serious budget in anticipation of my upcoming maternity leave. Since our stomachs are our most dangerous money pits, the takeout/going out budget was the first thing to get slashed.
"Go and get a roll from the grocery store.", he says. Psssht. I don't want that crappy, cold stuff. I want room temperature rice, freshly rolled around something delicious... and I want it BAD.
So I took to the internet, stalking All You Can Eat Sushi Joints, searching my email for coupons, Groupons, or any tool that might get me closer to my goal. I even considered driving to Houston to visit my parents so that I could guilt them into buying me a sushi dinner. It's pathetic. I know.
In the end, I ate a pickle sandwich, took some deep breaths, and decided to make myself piles of sushi at home. Thus, my scheme evolved into a dinner party, the best one ever, in fact. I'll be telling you more about that next week. For now, oggle this photo from the night in question.
Later that week I went out to happy hour with my hubby and my sister, Heather. We hit up El Chile on Manor Road pretty frequently, relying on their half price nachos to fill our bellies after work is done. Scott Bobleo appreciates the $3 Pacificos, while Heather usually opts for a $5 house margarita. These days I stick to water, but the queso and chip intake easily makes up for anything I might be missing out on. Their brown salsa is a particular favorite of mine. It's dark and sweet and spicy. Yum.
We joined my sisters, parents, and a few close friends on Sunday for an afternoon Easter meal. As usual, my family delivered in the deliciousness department. Sarah made potato pancakes topped with chives, creme fresh and smoked salmon. Heather brought a cheese and spinach strata, and I made a Coquille St. Jacques casserole by my Dad's request. It was a mighty spread!
I also whipped up a sweet oven pancake with strawberries. I got the recipe from a book I was invited to preview recently, Tina Nordströms Scandinavian Cooking.
By the way, I am devouring this book. It is packed with gorgeous photos and tempting recipes, all inspired by modern Swedish home cooking. As a third generation Swede, this is right up my alley. I look forward to trying out many more recipes from this massive book.
Skyhorse Publishing was gracious enough to gift me with a copy to check out, and also gave me permission to share a recipe with you. I made it pretty much exactly the way the book recommends, only with one little difference. I was inspired by a certain Ricotta Tart over on Stetted and opted to macerate the strawberries with mint rather than adding them plain. To do it my way, simply toss your strawberries with a tablespoon of sugar, a squirt of lemon juice, and some minced fresh mint (or basil, yum) about an hour before serving.
Sweet Oven Pancake with Strawberries
Excerpted with permission from Tina Nordströms Scandinavian Cooking: Simple Recipes for Home-Style Scandinavian Cuisine by Tina Nordstrom. Copyright 2014, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
Makes 4-6 servings
- 5 eggs
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup (250 ml) flour
- 3 cups (700 ml) milk
- 2 tbsp (30 g) butter
- fresh strawberries
- whipped cream
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF (225ºC).
- Divide the eggs into whites and yolks. Whisk the egg whites and the sugar into a stiff foam.
- Mix the flour with half of the milk and all of the egg yolks. Whisk until the batter is smooth. Add the rest of the milk and then fold the egg white foam into the batter.
- Put the butter on a baking sheet and place it in the oven until the butter has melted. Pour the batter into the baking sheet and bake the pancake in the center of the oven for about 25–30 minutes.
- Serve with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. To make it extra special, sift powdered sugar on top.
The Austin Food Blogger Alliance celebrated its third birthday this year with a cozy food blogger potluck at the Sustainable Food Center. Food blogger potlucks are pretty magical. Imagine a room full of food-crazy people geeking out over a common meal. The company is great, but the food is even better. What a spread! There were tarts, pizzas, dips, salads, and pies galore. I tried pretty much everything, and didn't regret a single bite. AFBA people, can we cook, or can't we? If you want to find out more about the potluck party, and everything we ate there, check out these lovely follow-up posts from Relish Austin, Full and Content, and Oh Spooning.
Because I am utterly ice cream crazy these days, I came with a batch of fresh made dairy happiness. The flavor this time around was Almond. I used almond butter, almond extract, and chopped roasted nuts to make it just about as nutty as humanly possible. Despite how quickly it melted it was still well recieved, so I am going to mark it up as a success. I'm sharing the recipe later this week, so you can find out how it tastes for yourself.
Another party went on this weekend, my baby shower! My Mom and sisters outdid themselves by throwing an amazing travel-themed party. There were fun games, adorable favors, cute decorations, and of course, plenty of delicious food. They spoiled me with a spread of sushi from Roll On Sushi Diner (one of my favorites), along with a whole international appetizer buffet. There was Swiss fondue, Italian tapas, and French crudite, among other goodies. The dessert table was just as impressive, with homemade Swedish crescent cookies, Dutch stroopwafels, and ice cream sandwiches from Cool Haus. Continuing the Mary-themed food madness, everyone went home with a jar full of Dill Pickle Popcorn from Cornucopia. Yum!
Those who see me often in the "real world" know my dirty little secret already, but I'll let you in on it here too. I've been supplementing my vegetarian diet with a little meat here and there to help keep my protein quotas up during the pregnancy. This wasn't an easy decision, but it felt necessary, especially when my midwives limited me to one or two servngs per week of soy or tofu. After measuring out how many beans it would take me to get there every day, I made a tough call and reached for the BBQ.
Anyway, one of my takeout staples has been pollo al carbon, Mexican style grilled chicken that comes from a smokey shack near my house. I was getting ready to chow down on my last piece this morning when Mr. Pickles (my fluffy white ragdoll cat) jumped up on to the counter and licked it. WHAT THE...
I chased him away, said a few bad words, and sliced off the licked bit. I ran to the bathroom (because that baby just can't stop head-butting mama's bladder) and when I came back, the other cat was up there going to town!
Now we are at war. You don't take a preggy's pollo. You just don't.
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