30 days of posting challenge

Day 8: How to plan dinner when you’re not a planner

I didn’t plan to cook dinner tonight, nor did I plan not to cook dinner. This is hardly unusual. Shane and I just aren’t planners. I’m not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just how we are.

How do we manage to get dinner on the table every night without a plan? It’s actually not a matter of planning*. It’s a matter of remembering (or keeping a list) and having an arsenal. That is to say, a list of foods you mostly always buy and an arsenal of quick recipes.

Here’s our list – 15 of the most basic of basics things you should try to keep on hand if you want to be able to throw a quick dinner together on a moment’s notice. I’m going to go ahead and assume you already have olive oil, butter, salt, pepper and flour.

  1. Whole Peeled or Chopped Tomatoes in a Can
  2. Pasta
  3. Eggs
  4. Trader Joe’s Handmade Flour Tortillas
  5. Cheddar or Mozzarella Cheese (pre-grated is fine)
  6. Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese
  7. Salad Greens and/or Broccoli (but really the more veggies you have on the ready the better)
  8. Eggs
  9. Chicken Tenders (yeah, the raw kind) and/or Extra Firm Tofu
  10. Garlic
  11. Onions
  12. Lemons
  13. Seasoned Rice Vinegar
  14. Rice
  15. Panko Breadcrumbs

Tonight’s dinner was a perfect execution of the list and the arsenal method. Homemade Chicken Nuggets, Baked Tofu, Rice and the remainder of the salad from Saturday—which I had saved, un-dressed so we could have it again.

That’s all for tonight!

*Full disclosure: I have experimented with meal planning pretty extensively in the past. At this point in my life, it seems like too much work.


30 days of posting challenge: Day 6

Today was one of those days. Shane was working. I tried to do some unpacking since we moved back to our house in June and are still in boxes. Between 10am and 1pm, I managed to unpack approximately one box, thanks to my incredibly helpful offspring.

I tried to take the kids for a “fun” trip to Party City.


Took them to Trader Joe’s partly as punishment and partly because I wanted to buy wine.


After rolling all over the floor of Trader Joe’s, Sid screamed all the way home because he wanted to take his sweater off, but couldn’t because he was in his car seat. When we got home, he stripped naked in the parking lot and demanded justice at the top of his lungs.

By then, Shane was home so I locked myself in the office to contemplate what kind of salad might just be good enough to turn my day around.

I settled on this salad from Epicurious, but substituted walnuts for pecans, and radicchio and romaine for red endive.

It’s a lot to ask of a salad to be so good it turns your day from poop to gold, but this salad did it’s best and I give it an A for effort. And I’ll definitely make it again.

Shane made pork tenderloin.


30 days of posting challenge: Day 5

Oh hey look, I’ve made it 1/6 of the way through my challenge! Today I’m going to tell you a little about my day job, but first I’m going to tell you about dinner.

I love Fridays because I work a short day from home and then if all goes well I have time to do stuff, like cook dinner or take the cats to the vet. My goal is to make something special for dinner on Friday. And by special I mean something besides whatever-it-is-I-can-throw-together-in-30-minutes-because-that’s-all-the-time-I-have, which is what happens on all of the other weeknights.

Even with the extra time on Fridays, somehow I often end up not having time or forgetting to go grocery shopping. Tonight was one of those nights. Fortunately we had approximately 14 shrimp in the freezer, a massive head of cauliflower, and lemons. And since 99% of the time we also have olive oil & pasta, I was golden.

Regular readers probably think I have an odd proclivity for cauliflower. What can I say? It’s a hearty vegetable that soaks up flavor well and fills the void when everyone else is eating meat or fish. So yeah, we had cauliflower again. This time, just roasted with lots of olive oil & salt, lemon juice, lemon zest and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Yum.

For the kids and Shane, I made Shrimp Scampi. And we had a side of linguini. Shrimp scampi is super easy, this is my favorite recipe (you can skip the shallot and/or the parsley if you don’t have them) but this one is fine too, if you’re just serving it alone or with pasta and don’t need a lot of sauce.

So, do you still want to hear about my day job, or do you  just want to look at another picture of that cauliflower?

Enough about cauliflower! What I do for a living is design real estate marketing campaigns. So, my team and I, we brand buildings (as we like to say) all day, every day.

It’s a super interesting job that stays interesting because for each building we have to find a way to carve out a real personality, and try to get inside the heads of the people who will live of work there, and create a campaign that caters to them. Not who they really are necessarily, but who they aspire to be.

I love home. I love homes, all kinds of homes. Whenever I go somewhere, I fantasize about living there, and sometimes even seriously consider it—even though moving is my personal version of hell. In fact, I love looking at real estate so much that when Rose was little, she thought my job was “looking at houses on the computer.” For better or for worse. So this line of work is pretty much perfect.

Maybe the connection between the blog and my career has something about home? Or not. That’s ok, I still have 25 more days to figure it out.

Until tomorrow!

30 days of posting challenge: Day 4

Tonight as promised I’m picking up where I left off two nights ago. So go ahead and read that post here before you continue—that is, if you like things all chronological-like.

So, what exactly does this blog about dinner, food, family and life have anything to do with my career as a graphic designer? (Drumroll…. or not) Sorry, I don’t have an answer to that question right now. But maybe I will at the end of 30 days!

As part of the Build Yourself Accelerator workshop, we do a lot of really helpful exploring and asking questions of ourselves. One of the things we discussed was how to leverage what you’re already doing to build career success and visibility.

The blog immediately came to mind as something I’m already doing, now I just need to find a way to connect it to my career. And that connection is what all this posting will hopefully, ultimately reveal.

Want to know what I do for a day job? Tune in tomorrow… or maybe the next day.

Oh right, this blog is about dinner! Tonight Shane made pizza (yesssss!) and a delicious little plate of mozzarella with a teeny tiny pile of fennel on top, that he tried to pass off as a salad (it’s the thought that counts, right?)



30 days of posting challenge: Day 3

Ok, so. I’m not going to tell you more about why I’m doing this project. Not tonight. Sorry.

Instead, I offer you this glimpse into my husband’s food preference versus mine. Take a wild guess which plate belongs to which of us. Acutally, don’t even bother.

More on the posting challenge tomorrow. Promise!

30 days of posting challenge: Day 2

So what’s up with the revived daily posting again? If you’re a reader you know I’ve been struggling to keep the blog afloat ever since I had a second kid and took a full-time job in an actual office that doesn’t double as my dining room.

I totally love my job, and I totally love my two kids. So how do I share that love with my old friend, the blog?

Recently I started doing the Build Yourself Accelerator with Mia Scharphie. I first met Mia (pronounced my-ah) when she came to our office to give a presentation on Building Yourself by Building Others. I was utterly moved by her presentation and the idea of building your professional self by building those around you. 

I was surprised and delighted to learn that I could get ahead in my profession without being an asshole and stepping all over my colleagues.  I wished I’d known sooner. I’d be so much farther along in my career by now. Kidding…. Sort of.

Being horrible to other people was never part of my career plan but I honestly thought there was some level of insincerity or kissing up required, and I was going to put that off for as long as possible. 

Mia’s talk was totally enlightening. I love to help others grow, build people up and make them feel good. Who knew it could help my career?

What the heck does this have to do with this food blog? Check in tomorrow to find out more.

P.S. Tonight’s dinner before (at top) and after (below) featuring cheese tortellini, easy sweet italian sausage & tomato sauce and, as always, salad.

Dinner every night

I’m challenging myself to revive the blog by posting every night for 30 days (more on that later). Today is a great day to start. Even without fantastic photos, it seems 100% worth documenting the salad Sid made for me with his very own 3 year old hands… and a pair of scissors.

I’m not entirely sold on the ketchup and fresh mint salad dressing, but I love that my little laddie made his own. And I adore that he’s got his vegetarian mom’s back on BLT night, since dad wasn’t home to do his magic.