December 6, 2013

HOLIDAY CARDS FROM MINTED

Ho, ho, ho. The Holidays are here and boy, could I used a heavily spiked beverage. While this holiday season is extra sweet because of all the wonderful things that have happened this year, like everyone else, it's hard not to feel completely overwhelmed as the year winds down. However, it was important to me to send out a holiday card this year to share my gratitude to all of our friends and family. Luckily, I've partnered with Minted.com to help make this holiday card process an easy one and will also be working with them on wedding invitations, menus, and programs.

Like I said, I needed to make the process an easy one. In short, sending out a card that has us frolicking in white, with Jonah doing leaps in the air between us, and the darling dog in tow (which we'd have to borrow), wasn't going to happen.  With a wedding 4 months away, not only are we busy and faking a smile on the beach would be tough, but we are on a budget and want to save our resources. Therefore, we needed to find a card that was either a non-photo card or wouldn't look terrible with my iPhone photos blown up.

The holiday card options were fantastic and there were actually so many options for cards that didn't require the perfect family photo or make me feel bad about the snow we never really get in California. In fact, the options were so cute and current I didn't really feel bad about anything!

I settled on these darling ones. I love that I got to select the shape and choose colors. The best part, was that since there are only 3 of us, once I ordered, I simply sent a note to the customer service department and asked that they removed one of the pairs of boots and one scarf (and which order to place them in). In less than 24 hours, they sent me a proof and we moved forward. How's that for ease?!

I also loved that I had the option of writing a little note and including as many photos as I wanted on the inside of the card. This gave me the chance to tell the story of the past 12 months both visually and in text, and wish everyone a fantastic 2014. Hurray for all-in-ones!

So now with Holiday behind me (kind of), it's time to truly dig in to THE WEDDING. Can't wait to share with you the invitations designs I'm working on in Minted.com.

**Side note, I know I'm all talk... In truth, when I do post wedding photos, there will probably be one or two photos of us frolicking in a field in wedding garb, gazing lovingly at Jonah. The only thing missing will be the dog. I'm working on that one. Give me time. ;-)**

This a sponsored post. Opinions are my own. 

December 5, 2013

THROWBACK THURSDAY: MY BROCCOLI BOY

Every now and again, I start feeling a little sentimental about how much I miss Jonah's baby and toddler years. Though age 6 is proving to be fantastic in a million ways,  there are moments, like this morning, when I wish I could go back in time... just for a little... The new words he'd use, the developments he'd make, the way he ate... I know this sounds silly, but when a 6 year old eats, let's be honest- it looks, well, like eating and usually just looks like a mess (on the floor). Eating is for survival at this point.  But when a 1, 2, or 3 year old eats... Well, to me it was like watching a rare bird (scratch that, I hate birds. What am I thinking?!)-- it was like watching a rare, baby tiger eat for the first time. It's fascinating, sweet, and produces some special moments that for whatever reason, stick with you forever. (For the record, I'm actually not one of those people that find it fascinating when animals eat. Like, at all. But since the majority of world does care, I used that analogy for them. I do what I can).

Since it's Throwback Thursday, and since I'm feeling particularly mushy this fine 43 degree - SoCal morning, I thought I'd share a clip I found from a few years ago. Jonah was about 3 1/2. Just before this video started, he was asking about how people swallow and to tell him about "Spit," which I explained was called "saliva."  As an expert on saliva, ahem, if you're a fellow parent, you'll find my answer to be quite comforting, if nothing else. And trust me, there's nothing else. I only know what I know people.

Anyway, enjoy and cherish the small moments. And eat your broccoli. xo, JB


video

November 26, 2013

GIVING THANKS: MEMORIES OF HAITI

This morning, I intended to share this delicious Giada DeLaurentiis Eggplant Capanata recipe and sort of brag about the fact that I am "woman hear me roar" because I'm making an Thanksgiving appetizer that will also double as a fantastic leftover dish to add to pasta (okay, so I still kind of roared). But right as I started to craft the post and upload my ever so stylized and glamorous iPhone -push the mess aside so it looks just like Pinterest minus the blur photos, I remembered the date:  

Exactly one year ago today, I went to Haiti.

One year ago today, (which happened to be the week after Thanksgiving), I went to Haiti with Ladies' Home Journal and Crocs Cares to deliver 5000 shoes to school children. While a bountiful recipe can be a great reminder to give thanks for the luxuries in life we often take for granted, I have so much to be thankful for and my journey to Haiti is one of those blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving and Much love and peace.
xo
JB

*****

Day 1

When I was first contacted by Susan Pocharski, Entertainment Director at Ladies' Home Journal, asking me if I’d like to join them, CrocsCares, and Feed the Children for a trip to Haiti to deliver shoes to school children, I was beyond honored and thrilled. Opportunities like these are rare and there wasn’t an ounce of hesitation when I leaped back with YES! In addition, I was going to be traveling with Real Housewife of New York, Countess LuAnn de Lesseps and mom bloggers, Nicole Feliciano and Catherine Connors, both whom I look up to and admire greatly. I could hardly contain my excitement.

Minutes later, of course, (being me), I was scouring the CDC and US Embassy websites for up-to-date info on all the shots I may need and the security precautions I should take.  After all, I thought, Haiti is the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. Surely, there’s a lot to take into consideration. But in reality… there’s not much disease or security measures to take into consideration anymore than any other poverty-stricken and under-developed country.  A country lacking infrastructure means more than unsettled financials, it means unsettled people… and therefore, I’m assuming, unsettled tourists…

Once we got through customs and outside of the airport, it seemed like instant mayhem. While I certainly wasn’t expecting a JFK type arrival with a Carmel Car & Limo to greet me in a luxury sedan, I wasn’t necessarily expecting a mob, of what I think was mostly men, covering the walkway in which we had to walk through to get to our cars that would caravan us through Port Au Prince to our hotel. People were shoving, grabbing bags, even yanking us here and there to come with them. My travel companions, including the lovely Sally Lee, Editor in Chief of LHJ, however, seemed unfazed.  Though I did my best to cover it up, I knew she could tell I was nervous, and I definitely was embarrassed. Buck up, Jenny, buck up.  But, I felt so far from home… already. Perhaps it’s because Sally had visited Haiti before, I thought… and as an activist, many other third world countries, that this sort of chaos doesn’t penetrate anymore… This is Haiti, everyone kept saying. It’s just chaos. 

And it was. During the nearly 2.5 hour drive to our hotel in Petionville (which is approximately 5 miles away from the airport), it was instantly obvious that the devastation from the earthquake in 2010 is ever-present. Tents on the sides of the road, a completely non-existent National Palace and rubble… still… rubble and crumbled facades. What kind of state will these schools be in that we’re visiting? What kinds of needs will these children have that we’ll be delivering shoes to?

Oh, how I couldn’t wait to see the children. I realize it sounds dramatic and maybe a little cheesy, but truly: I needed to touch a child. I needed to see the one thing that I knew would calm me. Of course I was missing my son, but it wasn’t a homesickness that made me ache to get to these schools… It was a need to find a commonality. A need, for even if only an instant, to connect with a group of people whose lives are so different from mine, simply from a survival standpoint. The love of a child though, that binds us together. It really makes us the same. I’m not here to see the devastation and report back. I’m here to give something.

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November 25, 2013

THANKSGIVING DECOR: WORK WITH WHAT YOU GOT

Thanks to Pinterest, I'm now well aware of the fact I'm not the only woman in the world who falls asleep at night dreaming of beautiful table-scapes, perfectly baked pies, and unbelievably organized pantries. Apparently, we all want things to look and taste just perfect.

While I had every intention on showing you one amazingly thought out and decorated Thanksgiving mantle and table display, the reality of time, a full time job, a child with green stuff oozing from his sinuses (TMI?) and what I think might be a broken thumb (mine, not his), set in. Things can only be so perfect for so long. Or at least close to perfect, kind of.

Still, with a very full plate, it was and is my mission to make my house presentable not just for the real life folk coming to give thanks on Thursday (and eat a 26 pound bird), but to show you, the people of the intra-world what you can do with scraps of burlap (from your kind of-sort of-organized craft closet) and foliage from your own back yard.

Here's what I did:

To make the burlap sign, I cut some pieces of burlap, and used my sons marker to write "Give Thanks." Placed it in an inexpensive frame.


To get the fall foliage thing, I climbed on to my patio, and using kitchen shears (only the best), chopped down some branches. (Jonah was the photographer to document the "mom in the wild" journey).



Using the freshly cut leaves and leftover pumpkins and gourds from Halloween, I draped them across the mantle and used a few pieces of clear scotch tape to keep the leaves in place. And voila!



24 hours later.... Dried leaves. If only every Pinterest sequence revealed the "what really happens moments after perfection (kind of)."

Good news. There's more leaves where this came from. Bad news, the backside of the pumpkins are now basically covered in mold. Now worries, turn those bad boys around for the next round of Pinterest perfection photos...  Shhhh.....

November 21, 2013

THE GO TO: SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH MEAT SAUCE

Is this fancy iPhone work, or what?!
As if life isn’t hectic enough, (and that doesn’t include wedding planning), I’m hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year for 23 people. Thankfully, everyone is bringing a dish, so all I have to do is cook the turkey (hi, mom), and make the table look pretty (hi, Pinterest). Needless to say, this past week has been a little crazy.

In an effort to stay sane (and healthy) during “go, go, go time,” I’ve been leaning on some “go to” recipes that I know I can whip up easily.  Some of my go-tos are meatloaf, crockpot turkey chili, shredded chicken tacos and takeout (hey, if we’re being honest).  Another Fall favorite is Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce.

There are two things, okay, actually three things, I can do well: 1) Roast Squash, 2) Make Turkey Bolognese, and 3) Remember lines from “Friends.” (That has absolutely nothing to do with cooking. But it’s just a great trait that I thought you should know about).


Here’s how to make this super simple, go-to meal.


This serves about 3 (that is 2 adults and 1 child. Make 2 squashes if you’ve got a bigger brood).


-1 Large Spaghetti Squash
-1.25- 1.5 lbs of Lean Ground Turkey
-Your Favorite Tomato Marina Sauce
-Fresh Mushrooms
-Fresh Basil
-Fresh Garlic
-Grated Parmesan Cheese
-Olive Oil
-Salt & Pepper
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2) Slice spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise. You can opt to drizzle insides with olive oil, salt andpepper, or just leave plain. (This time, I did the drizzle…)
3) Place squash, cut side down, on an oiled or olive oiled sprayed baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes until squash is tender. (For 2 squash, bake 1 – 1 ½ hours).

4) As the squash is cooking, heat two table spoons of olive oil in a sauté pan. Once heated, at crushed fresh garlic.
5) Add mushrooms and sauté until cooked. In a separate pan, brown your ground turkey. Once browned and cooked through, add to the mushrooms and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and 5-10 pieces of chopped up basil depending on your preference. Add the tomato sauce and simmer.
6) Once squash is done, remove it and let it cool.  Shred the inside of the squash with a fork to create a spaghetti type consistency.  You can add olive oil and Parmesan here... but I did not. Instead I served it with a big heap of the sauce and topped with more fresh basil and Parmesan.

What are your weeknight go-to meals?

November 19, 2013

BATCH COOKING: HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN TAGINE

It seems like every Monday, I'm on a hunt for a recipe that is sort of a one stop shop-- a recipe that I can get all the ingredients literally in one shop, put them all in one pot, and walk away. However, not only is this crock pot-codependent relationship hurting the feelings of my 5qt Le Creuset pot (I'm not bragging, I'm just saying it's really pretty), but it's starting to bore Jonah and Peter to tears: There's only so much shredded chicken tacos and turkey chili a man/boy can take.

Luckily, a few months ago, I went to New York and had the opportunity to cook with the very talented Tamara Reynolds for Lifetime Moms. One of the recipes we made was Chicken Tagine. This two-pot Mediterranean dish may sound challenging, but let me tell you it's super simple, flavorful, and is a perfect dish to satisfy my Le Creuset calling. The best part: it's a batch recipe. With batch recipes, you can make a large portion and save/freeze it for another meal or, as Tamara suggests, swap half with a neighbor or friend that is making another batch of something delicious. (Though, good luck trying to match my batch, she says mockingly).

Happy batch cooking!





November 18, 2013

HOLIDAY GIFTS & IDEAS WITH eBAY COLLECTIONS

This year, Thanksgiving and Chanukah are sharing the spotlight. For my family, this means that at 5 o'clock when the turkey coma usually sets in, we're going to have to rally for a little dreidel and gift exchanging action. This also means that as the Thanksgiving host, (I must be out of my mind to take this on this year), in addition to getting my menu prepped and table decor in line, I'm going to have to going to have to think about gifts about a month sooner than I normally would!

As a curator for eBay's new collections program, I've gotten a head start on all the things I want to get for family and friends... and of course, the things that if anyone happens to want to get me something, well, they'll know just where to find it.  Ahem, ahem.

No seriously, while a Chanel clutch might be a liiiittle out of the budget this Chanukah, I've found that putting these Collections together have been a great way for me to keep track of not only the things that I'm coveting, but ideas and inspirations for projects I want to tackle, like organizing my office and closets.

Here are some of my collections that I've created that are completely inspired by what's going on in my
life:



The point is, eBay Collections is a great way to store ideas and inspirations, watch sellers and newly listed items, AND find items just in time for the holidays and of course, all year round. Speaking of which, with just over week until 8 nights of festive lights and a big turkey dinner, I need to get cracking!  First stop. Kid + Easy Gift = Legos! Done! 


Join me and be sure to use #eBayCollection & #FollowItFindIt

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