My Method: Weekly Meal Planning

September 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

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This is your typical Sunday morning- coffee in hand, pen and paper, and a stack of Bon Appétit magazines. It’s meal planning time! As I was sitting down to do it this week, I thought you guys might be curious to see my process. It’s nothing too complicated, but it makes getting dinner on the table  and not letting the food in our fridge go bad during the week much easier.

I generally let my farmer’s market purchases guide our weekly menu. I like to pick what looks best that week and go from there. I get all our produce at our Saturday market so that come Sunday I know what I’ve got to work with and what I need to buy at the grocery store to round out the week. This week I picked up bell peppers, tons of broccoli, heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, and a bunch of apples. I’ve got two dinners out this week and Brandon is headed out of town so I didn’t want to overdo it.

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I start by outlining all the items I’ve got to work with- from veggies to pantry and freezer, and any other little tid bits that will help me figure out what I need to get from the store. Like breakfast and snacks- I want to make sure we have enough to last us through the week.

After reviewing what I’ve got, I start crafting meals. Seeing all the ingredients I have on hand listed side by side helps me create meals that minimize the additional items I need to buy, and plan enough meals for the week. This makes life so much easier! The chicken and broccoli dish was for Sunday. I knew we’d have a few leftovers, but we’d need something else to round out lunches. A quinoa black bean salad was a no brainer, given what I had on hand. I have a ton of peanut butter in my cupboard since I accidentally bought a jar when I already had a full jar, so I decided a big batch of peanut noodles for dinner one night would be perfect. Plus, it’d use up any remaining veggies, and give us enough for leftovers. And the roasted apples are kind of just for fun- a riff on a recipe shown in the first photo!

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I’v always got a pile of lettuce or dark greens on hand which become side salads pretty much every night of the week, and help round out a lunch that isn’t too veggie heavy. Three meals (with leftovers built in) seem to be our magic number, leaving us with enough food to get us to the weekend. Weekends we do most of our eating out, hence the Saturday/Sunday planning schedule.

That’s pretty much it! I’d love to know, how do you guys meal plan? Anyone else highlight the ingredients they need to buy? Control freak, right this way!

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Life Lately | Salted Maple Pecan Olive Oil Granola |

September 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Hot diggity I am soooo done. After going on 12 straight days of working I am ready to unplug, lounge, and just plain old hang this weekend. Do you have a perfect Saturday morning? This is mine: I wake up around 9 am (because I can some how miraculously sleep until that time), make a homemade latte, and curl up on the couch to watch my favorite shows from the week. Parenthood! Nashville! You’re back! (Ssshh don’t tell me what happened.) Then I walk to the farmer’s market and load up on all sorts of goodies for the week. After that I come back home and tackle some sort of household project that has been on the back burner forever. This weekend it’s switching over my winter wardrobe and purging my closet. I’m feeling a major purge and considering doing an online sale of some lightly used items. Would you be into that? Anyway back to the weekend- I then round out the day with a sweaty workout and dinner with good friends. That is exactly what is going down tomorrow and I could not be more excited.

I’m closing the week with an insanely good granola recipe . This was my first time using olive oil as the fat in my granola, and I gotta say- I love it. The flavor is nothing like you would imagine. This will be part of my perfect Saturday, too! Thank you all so much for your support on yesterday’s post. I’m so thrilled you’re just as excited as me about the series. Here’s to a wildly relaxing weekend!

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Salted Maple Pecan Olive Oil Granola adapted from Food52

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1 cup raw pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raw pecans, left whole or coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place oats, sunflower seeds, coconut, pecans, brown sugar and salt in a bowl and mix until well combined. Mix together syrup and olive oil in a measuring cup. Pour over dry ingredients and stir well to combine.

Spread granola mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until granola is toasted, about 45-60 minutes (mine took closer to 55 minutes).

Remove granola from oven and  let cool completely before serving. Can be stored in an airtight container up to one month.

NYC Eats: The Cookshop

September 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

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One of my long time blog dreams has been to share inside peaks of my favorite restaurants in the city. And as made clear by the survey, you’re hankering for more content around what to do and where to eat in New York, too! I’m thrilled to kick off the first of many posts to come that show my go to spots for dinner, grabbing drinks with friends, or enjoying lazy brunches on the weekends. I’ve teamed up with my sweet friend Sas of Sasithon Photography to capture all the beauty of the food and spaces. Her photos are going to blow your mind!

To kick things offwe dropped by The Cookshop last week, one of my absolute favorite spots in all of Manhattan. I’ve eaten there literally more times than I can count and never tire of the food. My love affair with this place becomes pretty clear when you discover that their entire restaurant philosophy is based around bringing honest, seasonal dining to New York City. You know how passionate I am about that! And the thing is, they do it so well. From the food to the cocktails and everything in between,  I always feel like each dish truly honors the ingredients.
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{The Heirloom Tomato Salad w/ Basil, Red Onions, Black Olives, and California Olive Oil}

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I love the way their dishes showcase the beauty of the natural ingredients. Pictured above is the Butterfield Sullivan County Brook Trout with green beans, chiles, scallions, ginger, and balsamic.

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It seems like everyday now there’s a new cocktail bar springing up in the city, but Cookshop consistently wows me with their creations. The bartenders, just like the chef and kitchen staff, are tasked with creating cocktails around what’s in season. Pictured above is the “Bee Sting”- a cocktail composed of Greenhook Gin (made locally in Brooklyn), cayenne honey, lemon, and a spicy raw sugar rim. This was so good!

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{Pictured above- the Berry Mojito and Jersey Peach Margarita}

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Can we talk about this BLT? It is literally the mother of all BLTs. It took every ounce of my self control not to chow down right in the middle of shooting! I love the way the sandwich is served on a rustic wood cutting board.

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The Cookshop is located at 157 10th Avenue, right next to The High Line. I usually end up stuffing myself to the brim, so it’s the perfect time for a leisurely post meal stroll on the High Line, around Chelsea, or along the Hudson River Greenway. If you live in the city or are visiting, this is definitely a not to miss spot for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

All photographs were taken by Sasithon Photography. Sas lives in New York City and travels locally and anywhere worldwide to shoot weddings, travel, lifestyle, and more. Check out more of here amazing work here! I so hope you’ve enjoyed this post, we can wait to show you more delicious-ness!

Girl Crush: Jacquelyn Clark of Lark & Linen

September 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Visiting the blog Lark & Linen is like enjoying a cup of hot tea- warm, inviting, and oh so cozy. I’ve been following Jacquelyn’s beautiful blog for longer than I can remember, but every time I visit I get lost in her beautiful posts- whether it’s a gorgeous interior or delicious dish. So naturally, she had to be our next girl crush! Read on to learn about how she got the fabulous job of heading up Style Me Pretty Living (yep that’s her job!), how she decompresses from a social media fueled work life, the chapstick she can’t live without, and more…

I absolutely love the design and aesthetic of Lark & Linen! Did you design it yourself? When did you start your blog?
Thank you so much! I’ve been blogging for just over three years now (wow, saying that “out loud” is crazy! It feels like I just started). I actually hired graphic designer Aprile Elcich a year and a half ago to come up with the design. I still can’t believe how perfectly she captured the look I was after! She’s the best. Seriously.

What prompted you to get into blogging?
I feel like this is the most obvious answer and we’ve all heard it a hundred and one times, butI started Lark & Linen as a result of feeling under stimulated at work. At the time, I was only two years out of university and I was working for an architect in downtown Toronto. The office culture was amazing, the people I worked with are still some of my closest friends, but the work I was doing really just didn’t inspire me (I was working on government offices for the most part). I craved that creative outlet and instead of whining about it, decided to take matters into my own hands.

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You have the glorious job of working for Style Me Pretty! But before we dive into that- you used to be an interior designer- how did you get into that career?
I’m actually still practicing interior design on the side! I’m only taking on one client at a time due to time constraints (aka a serious lack of said time!), but I feel like it’s necessary for my sanity. I’ve been obsessed with all things design my entire life. I vividly remember getting excited about going to new friends birthday parties so that I could see how their homes were laid out and decorated. I would then race home and re-draw their floor plans (I’m still weirdly obsessed with floor plans). Yeah, I wasn’t the most “normal” seven year old around.

In terms of my career path, I studied Environmental Design at the Ontario College of Art and Design. After interning at an architecture firm during my last year of University, I was lucky enough to be offered a full time job upon graduation. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Ok now we can talk about Style Me Pretty- how’d you start working there? What’s your job like?
I can confidently say that I have the best job in the entire world. The hours are long, the pace is ridiculous (we are constantly going a mile a minute), but it’s so rewarding, so creative and I’ve truly never been happier!

In terms of my involvement, I was actually travelling through Ireland last September when I received an email from THE Abby Larson (cue hyperventilation). She informed me of this new undertaking the Style Me Pretty brand was working on, told me she had been reading my blog (even more hyperventilation), thought I’d make a great fit and asked if I would be interested in being a part of it. It was the best blogging moment of my life! The thought of leaving the world of interior design in the traditional sense was slightly terrifying, but I just had a gut feeling that it was an opportunity I needed to take.

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Given you work from home, how how do balance work and personal life?
Honestly? It’s hard. Because my work, my computer and my office are so accessible (ahem, three steps away at all times, thank you condo living!) it’s so easy to work almost constantly. I’ve only been doing this for 10 months so I’m still trying to find that balance. So far I’ve determined that it’s imperative for me to get up, actually get dressed and sit at my desk (no matter HOW tempting it is to get cozy on the couch). Keeping that separation has really helped. In addition, when I am “offline” (i.e.: weekends), I’m learning to become very good at being in the moment and really shutting my work brain up.

Having a job that revolves around blogging and social media can be ever demanding. How do you decompress?
Is it weird that I decompress while working on Lark & Linen? I find it so relaxing! In addition, I don’t put pressure on myself to stay active on social media. You might notice that I go through phases where I tweet ten things and post four instagram photos in one day, and then you might not hear from me for a while. It’s easy to get sucked in and feel as if you need to be making your mark at every minute of every day, but I’d much rather post when I really have something to share. It feels more authentic and people typically respond better that way anyhow. Win-win!

What’s your daily routine like?
For the most part, I typically wake up around 7:45 and make myself a cup of tea before getting dressed. I’ll then log on around 8:30, check on my Lark & Linen post that had gone up earlier, and catch up on my favorite morning reads. From 9:00-1:00 I’m writing posts, responding to questions, setting up photo shoots, handling all things social media for SMP Living and any other multitude of different activities. I try to take a half an hour lunch most days (where I maybe kind of sort of watch the last half of The Young & the Restless – hello guilty pleasure!) before getting back to it. If I’m feeling stir crazy, I often head out to the coffee shop around the corner from me for the afternoon. It’s then much of the same thing, rinse, lather, repeat until 6:30-7:00 each evening! At that point, my boyfriend and I usually make dinner together and catch up on one of our shows (right now we’re completely obsessed with Orange is the New Black). I’ll then finish up my own post for Lark & Linen and work on anything outstanding I have to do for my freelance design job. I try to instill a “no electronics after 11:00 pm” rule but that doesn’t always work out. And I try to be fast asleep by midnight. This whole blogging thing isn’t always as glamorous as it may seem – ha!

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Three products you can’t live without: My computer, loose leaf tea and palmers cocoa butter swivel stick chapstick (obsessed!)

Something about you most people wouldn’t realize or know: I like to pride myself on my advice giving abilities! I seem to be my friends go-to for any life help and I love it. I’m good at doling it out, not so great at taking it myself though, I must admit.

 The thing you’re most looking forward to this fall: Ugh am I totally annoying if I say cozy scarves and knee-high boots? I know. I want to roll my eyes at myself. But they make me happy!

Thank you Jacquelyn! I loved learning more about you. Be sure to add Lark & Linen to your must read blog list- stat!

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All photos courtesy of Lark & Linen.

Dressed to Entertain: Farm to Table Dinner

September 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

Farm to Table | Perpetually Chic

After five years of living in Madison, Wisconsin, home of the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country, the farm-to-table movement has become near and dear to my heart (like it has to Clara). We’re lucky enough that almost every restaurant in our city celebrates local ingredients, even prominently displaying a list of the farmers they work with–which is part of why Madison was recently touted as a top “foodie paradise.” And we’ve made a trip to the farmers’ market our Saturday routine for several years now, loading up on fresh produce, organic meat and eggs, locally-made jams and bread, and cheese (of course)!

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This time of year is the very best–the market is ripe with an amazing array that still includes summer favorites like heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn and peaches, but also now boasts fall crops like squashes, cauliflower and apples. It’s the time of year whenwe come home with our bags filled to the brim…

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To me there’s no better way to celebrate the start of fall and a bountiful season than with a farm-to-table meal, featuring local-only ingredients, a simple table setting, and great friends gathered round.

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To fit the relaxed vibe after a morning at the market and an afternoon in the kitchen, my look is a compilation of simple, pared-down favorites. Navy is my favorite color, and one I often like to wear full-on–in this case in the form of a crepe tank and dark denim, paired with a hint of brass and a fun kilim slipper (just brought these back from our trip to Turkey!) for a little global flair.

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How are you guys celebrating the fall season?

GET THE LOOK: J.Crew tank | J.Crew jeans | Kilim Arts slippers (similar) | H&M horn necklace (similar)

Results from the Survey & Your FAQs

September 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Good morning! How was your weekend? It felt glorious to get out of the city and do something good. As I mentioned last week I volunteered to assist with Farm Aid‘s annual event, a benefit concert that works to support small family farms through funding and really more so educating the public on why we need these farms that grow quality food in a sustainable fashion. These are the farmers taking care of our land through farming, not flooding it with chemicals. If you know me, you know this is something that is near and dear to my heart and why I take shopping at the farmer’s market so seriously. These farmers are facing all sorts of political and economic pressures, and it felt good to do something truly active to support this cause. Plus it didn’t hurt getting to see Dave Matthews perform. Swoon!

Now, the blog. First off, you are awesome. The feedback I received from the survey was incredible. And the cool thing? We are all on the same page! You want food, you want the dets on where to eat and what to do in NYC, you want to know how I started my business (from soup to nuts), and you want more on blogging- how I grew this blog and what I recommend to newbie bloggers. I have covered some of these topics before, especially the latter two (here here), but I’ll be getting back into them. On the food, I hear you on the recipes! And especially those of you who want more full meals. I’m working to get as many to you as possible. In order to do that, food will likely switch to the middle of the week. Monday was proving to be a bit of a challenge for me, so look out for food posts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the next few weeks.

Beyond that, it’s clear you have some general questions about my life- everything from my daily routine, to how I stay in shape and handle my taxes. It became clear as day that I need an FAQ section! So grab your coffee and cozy up, I’ve answered the most asked questions below,and will also be storing those answers up in the sidebar. I will be diving into most of these further over the next few weeks/months. If you have one you really want to hear about or other general qs- let me know in the comments!

Where should I eat and what should I do in Manhattan and Brooklyn? I created a Williamsburg food guide that shared 10 of my favorite spots to eat in my neighborhood. The second portion of that guide will be coming out at the end of September. In early October I’ll start sharing behind the scenes profiles of my favorite spots in the city (in Brooklyn and beyond). In terms of what to do, look out for posts like this and follow along on instagram! I’m always sharing where I’m eating and what I’m doing in the city there.

How do you stay in shape?  While extremely flattered by this question, know that I don’t have one fix all solution and often ask friends or bloggers I follow the same question. For me I’ve found eating a primarily clean diet (i.e. very little to zero processed foods) with a limited amount of meat, and exercising 3-4 times per week with a focus on strength training are what work for me. Some weeks I don’t make it to the gym at all, and some weeks I eat horribly. This often leaves me feeling pretty crappy and motivates me to get back on the wagon. On a daily basis, I try to eat as many vegetables, drink a ton of water, and limit my sugar intake (something I just started doing thanks to the suggestion of a friend and it’s making me feel insanely good).

How did you grow your blog? What are your best tips for new bloggers? Big picture, it’s been a focus on creating truly original content (posts like this), consistently maintaining that level and quality of content (which has lead to some super helpful press), and networking with other bloggers. More tips can be found here and each subsequent post I write about this will be linked to on the FAQ page.

How do you balance work and life? I try to maintain pretty strict hours in front of the computer (8 am to 6:30/7 or so), make time for exercise, enjoy an iPhone free home cooked meal with my boyfriend every night, and take at least one day on the weekend where we get away from our computers and explore a new part of the city.

What do you do outside of blogging and cooking? I love working out and try to make that a priority. I love listening to podcasts or cozying up on the couch for my favorite shows (Breaking Bad, Scandal, Homeland, The Newsroom, Nashville, and Glee), and I usually have a book on my Kindle (currently reading this) and a stack of magazines to get through. Other than that, I love exploring the city and living life like a tourist on the weekends!

How did you start your business and grow it over time? Big picture- network, network, network. This post shares my career history and how I got to where I am today, and this post and this post go into more detail on networking. I’ll be revisiting this topic in the fall of 2013.

How do you handle taxes, health insurance, etc? Look out for a post on this in October 2013!

What’s your daily routine like? I wake up around 7:30 and get to work around 8 am. Some days I’m at home all day, working on client projects until about 6:30/7 pm. Other days I’m running around the city to meetings and sneaking into coffee shops with internet to stay on top of email when I can. I’ll workout in the late mornings or over lunch on the days I’m home all day, and in the evenings on the days I’m out and about. I start dinner around 7:30, eat around 8 pm, do a little more blog work after dinner, and try to relax with TV or a book before bed. By 11 pm, I’m completely beat and crawling into bed!

How do you make ends meet living in an expensive city and working for yourself? There’s sort of no one way to answer this, but for me it was about figuring out how much money I needed to live the kind of life I wanted and then working furiously to achieve that number, being extremely intentional about my purchases (I don’t shop a ton and only buy things I truly need and love, and will use for a long time), and removing excess from my life- which means spending on the things that really matter to me. I’ll shell out $37.00 for a Soul Cycle class because it’s worth it to me, but I rarely eat lunch out and we don’t have cable. It’s all about balance. In addition, before I ventured out on my own I made sure I had enough savings built up to support myself for several months in case I struggled to find work.

How did you learn to photograph food? Can you do more photography posts? Largely trial and error, and some Photoshop tricks. I also highly recommend this book. I’d love to do more posts, but at this time I don’t really feel comfortable speaking at length on the subject since I’ve simply learned by doing. There are other amazing tutorials online- definitely check those out!

Will you share more ethnic food recipes? This blog is meant to be a reflection of what I’m actually making in the kitchen, hence my style of cooking. While I love ethnic food, I prefer to eat it out and don’t make it at home too often. I may venture more into this category in the coming months, but if I do, the recipes will be pretty basic.

That’s about it! Like I said, more details to come on all of the above- and be sure to let me know if you have any more specific questions about my life, work, etc. Would be thrilled to answer them.

Image by Emily Anderson for Apartment 34

Life Lately | September 20th |

September 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Yesterday a friend sent me a short but really sweet email to applaud me for all that I’d accomplished in the last two years. It was completely unexpected, but (of course) really made my day. All too often I focus solely on the future- on ways I can grow or be better. I rarely step back to take in how far I’ve come or even allow myself to feel good about what I’ve done. We don’t do this enough for ourselves! That email set the tone for my entire day, and it probably took my friend less than five minutes to write.

It’s kind of  ironic because lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationships and friendships in my life- which ones are most important and where I should be investing my time. And also how the smallest of gestures can really make a world of difference. I’m always the first to say… I don’t have time! I’m too busy! But I’ve found making the time to write a thoughtful comment on a blog I admire, send a handwritten note, or take an hour out of my day to catch up with a friend over the phone makes me personally feel so much better (and actually better at my job).  It’s totally worth the time away from my desk. I sent six handwritten notes this week and it felt amazing! Plus sitting on my living room rug surrounded by pretty stationary is kind of the best way to unwind after a long day at the computer. Know what I mean?

I’m off to Saratoga for the weekend to assist with the annual Farm Aid concert (hello John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews Band!)- you can follow along on instagram as I chronicle my travels. I’ll see you back here on Monday for some state of the blog talk and changes thanks to the feedback on the survey. You still have until this Sunday to fill it out, so if you haven’t already done so- you can do so right here. Remember, all constructive criticism welcome!

Here are a few fun links… have a great weekend! xx

Image by Mike Gilger for Raleigh Simple Evening, found via wit+delight

 

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