Thursday, August 22, 2013

Vivienne McMaster in Artful Blogging!

When I learned that Vivienne McMaster was going to be featured in Artful Blogging I was very excited! Vivienne has been such an inspiration to me. 

Having seen the issue blogged about, I haunted my local book seller. I couldn't get my hands on a copy. Then yesterday I saw it as I rounded the rack and exclaimed "Oh, there it is!" A woman who was looking at quilting magazines asked what I was so excited about. She didn't know about blogging or Artful Blogger, but she went home with a copy in her hands and plans to put her quilts online. 

I learned about Vivienne's classes when a writer whom I admire changed her twitter profile photo and commented that she had taken it in an online class. I got Vivienne's contact info and then time went on. 

Several years later (last summer) I took my first course with Vivienne. She is a kind and gentle soul who brings out the best in people. The community of people she draws to herself is positive, powerful and inspiring. No wonder I keep going back for more. 

Congratulations, Vivienne. To celebrate your appearance in Artful Blogging, I decided to take some selfies. I share my favorite with you here. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Joys of Menu Planning and a Give Away - My Happy List Tuesday

It's been a couple of weeks since I participated in My Happy List Tuesday. 
Here's what's been making me happy these days. 

The school year is almost upon us. Last year, I spent much of the year lunch-less. I worked straight through the day and found myself ravenous once the last student had left my charge. This was good - I had a lot of work to do and it was easier to get it done without taking the time for lunch. I also spent more time with students. This was bad - I didn't eat as well as is good for me and I missed out on the bonding time with colleagues.

After school there is always a maze of appointments and things to do. Evening meals proved to also be a challenge.

This year I decided I would take the bull by the horns and do something I hadn't done in years - make weekly meal plans. There was a point when I was reading a lot of books about home organization and all of them recommended a weekly meal plan. My reasons for resisting trying this included the inability to take advantage of deals at the green grocer or fish market - a reason that never stood up to examination. Once tried, it was clear that weekly menu plans simplified life. Even the odd daily deal could be accommodated by pushing the plans back one day. It should have been a no brainer to continue this plan. Yet, it's been years since a weekly menu has been in residence here.

Enter Just Bento, a website dedicated to the art of packing lunch boxes, Japanese style. It's a wonderful site full of great resources. One of the personally most helpful parts of the website were the meal planning PDFs. These PDFs were what inspired me to get back on the horse with weekly meal planning. After looking at them, I made my own forms that addressed the needs of my family. The form includes a checklist for protein sources and one for color balance. It helps me to see visually that I am creating a varied menu. There is also a check list for items to be made the night before. The next step is shopping list.

A few weeks ago we took a trip to Ebisuya, a Japanese grocery store in Medford, MA. It's a wonderful store with a very wide range of Japanese foods. In the book section of the store was the Just Bento book! I snatched it up. Even though our stash of o-bentou making supplies is prodigious, some new tools ended up in the grocery cart.

I bought some boiled egg molds. You open the up, place the raw egg inside, snap closed and boil. Presto – a rabbit or bear shaped boiled egg! Cute, right?

Meanwhile, I have been trying out an app called Snap Recipes for tackling the large stack of loose recipes that has defied organization. The app allows you to take up to five photos of the clipped recipe and add information. Tagging the recipes make them searchable by type. The elimination of that stack of clipped recipes and the ease of mobile access to them makes this a real win. It has helped me to work on this project on the go.

Last week I did a trial run of week one menu plan. I hope to eliminate some of the kinks of my system and see where my problems lay. Eventually I hope to have at least four weeks of lunch plans to choose from.

And here’s the give away!

Tools for making your lunch special!

Cookie cutters you can use for cookies, sandwiches, omelets, carrots and more. There are even message stamps – it’s like scrapbooking your food!

Want to win one of these prizes? Subscribe to my blog and leave a comment below with your email. I will select the winners on September 15th. 

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