Food Writing and Why I Love It So

In college, my roommate was studying Culinary Arts (he’s now the Chef De Cuisine of the Green Zebra in Chicago) and encouraged me to take a culinary fundamentals class. I was hooked. I loved everything about it and decided to take Culinary Arts on as my minor degree, with the goal of becoming a food writer once I graduated. It seemed like the perfect fit for me and I just knew it was gonna happen.

Along comes graduation in 2009, right as the reality of the recession was setting in across the nation. I started applying to the jobs I wanted, where I could write about food. After some time I started applying to jobs I would enjoy. Writing jobs, not necessarily about food but maybe I could get there. More time passed, and I found myself applying for jobs I could do, because I felt trapped in my current circumstances. At the time I was managing a cell phone store, and I even began applying for other retail managerial positions, simply because they were a step up in pay and we were expecting our sweet little Greta.

It was a frustrating time, but out of it came some great opportunities. It was during this time I applied for a conference planning position, which ended up being my first real job out of college. And what started as a conference planning gig eventually turned into a position in digital marketing, which is the field I’m in now and is something I never knew I’d love so much. But food. Food has always stuck with me and that dream of being a food writer (on a more grand scale) remains.

To me, food has always been about relationships. When I was an awkward teen with no friends, I spent hours in the kitchen with my angel mother. She made it her priority to cook dinner for our family of 10 (I’m the youngest of 8 kids) so we could sit down and talk to each other over a home cooked meal. And even though the food we ate was simple, (had to stretch those teachers’ salaries) it was always more about the people around the table. I think this is one reason why Jules and I enjoy having people over as much as we do, and why I love to share my recipes. Because even though you all can’t sit around our table, I love the idea that we can still have dinner together in a way. And I love to share my food with as many people as possible.

Well, along those lines I have some exciting (for me) news. I’ve been asked to join the Char-Broil Allstars team!

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What does this mean, exactly? Well, I’m a contributing blogger to the Char-Broil LIVE blog. Every month I get to share a post on their site and talk about food, specifically grilling (my favorite kind of cooking). I’ve been using Char-Broil grills for years now and our long time readers already know I think they’re the best (Tru-Infrared, baby). So this is a great partnership for me, and I hope it becomes helpful for you, as well.

My first post as a Char-Broil All-Star has gone live today on their blog. I’m super excited to have another audience to share my love for food with, but I’d love for you all to read it as well. They really want to help people enjoy the experience of grilling, and not just give them recipes to follow, which is what I’m all about. I hope you’ll join me over there once a month, as well as here on our blog (yes I’ll still be posting here) as I continue sharing something I love to do.

Today I wrote about grilling winter vegetables and how to make these super delicious Brussels Sprouts:

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Bonus: as a reader of our blog, I can pass a 15% discount to you for anything Char-Broil. Grills, tools, smokers, fireplaces – you name it. So with Spring coming up, head on over to their site and take a look and use promo code B15CLJ upon checkout.

A $500 Laundry Room Mood Board

First, thank you for all the well-wishes on Chris’s behalf. His back surgery went perfectly, and while he has a pretty strict recovery regimen for the next 12 weeks, he already feels worlds better. We’re so happy and feel the love you’ve been sending our way. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Today I wanted to share the mood board I created along with our friends, the Pugmires, for their laundry space. You can check out Monday’s post here if you missed the scoop on this project. Ace Hardware threw in $250 that till go toward drywall, tape, mud, texture, paint, and shelving (like you see in #5 below) and we were given $500 to spend at Wayfair so that naturally became the budget for decorating the blank space (baby). It was a blast working with them to find pieces that reflect their style–which is pretty in line with my style–and things that they were just so excited to have that I wouldn’t have ever thought of. To my pleasant surprise, we stttreeettttched that $500 into a pretty legit budget-friendly laundry room. Here’s how it looks in mood board form:
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The biggest thing I learned when putting this mood board together on a budget was know when to splurge and save–and be willing to do both! The woven shelf basket was as much money as the pretty red stool, but will add an undeniable richness to the setting. Natural fiber rugs, like this 6′ round jute one, are a great way to save (it’s $119 I think) while layering in lots of texture. The sheepskin might not be necessary, so it is a bit of a splurge, but Corine absolutely lit up when we came across it–totally worth squeezing it into the budget!

Things have already started rolling in from Wayfair, the Pugmires purchased some beautiful laminate flooring and walls are up and ready for paint–so I definitely owe you an on-site update.

A Laundry Reno Begins!

There’s nothing that excites me more than diving into a new project. The beginning is the most thrilling time for me. Making plans, maybe tackling some demo and getting the first glimpse of giving a room new life. Ahh, it’s a beautiful thing. A few weeks ago I got an email from our long-time partner, Wayfair, basically saying they were looking for a few bloggers to revamp their laundry spaces in the new year and they’d pitch in $500 to get it done. These are exactly the kind of sponsors we say “yes” to because we have all the freedom. And also, the laundry room is on our to-do list this year!

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The only problem was/is Chris’s back. Wah-wahhh. Last year, he lifted a band saw by himself and tweaked his back. He’s been working on it, doing physical therapy, chiropractic–the works. And it just kept getting worse. He got a cortisone shot thinking that would help. And  it did for a day or so, but then his foot started going numb. He got an MRI that showed two herniated discs pushing up against his sciatic nerve. While he’s been wanting to fix this without surgery, it’s reached a point where the parts of his leg that aren’t numb feel like they’re always on fire, and it’s getting steadily worse. Delaying surgery any longer would only lead to permanent nerve damage. So! Tomorrow morning, after an excruciating waiting period, he is going to have a microdiscectomy. The good news is he should get some relief right away, the unfortunate news is the recovery is about 3 months. For the first 6 weeks, he won’t be able to lift anything over 10 pounds (which is very sad since Faye is about 18lbs) and for another 6 weeks after, nothing over 30.

This puts a lot of our larger project plans at bay for the first quarter, but I have a list of things (like our bedroom!) that I am more than capable of doing alone. Wayfair gave us an end-of-February deadline for their proposed project and while we talked about me tackling our laundry room alone, I just don’t know enough about electrical nor do I have the strength to move walls, Ha! But then I had an idea of possibly re-doing someone else’s laundry room. I could design it, shop for it, direct it like those shows that give the couple “homework” at the end of the night and still live-blog it. I pitched it to Wayfair and they were totally on board!

After searching high and low for a local laundry room that needed major TLC, and a couple willing to put in some elbow grease–I found it:

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Some friends of ours are remodeling their older home and while some spaces are completely mind-blowing to see before and afters of (their kitchen! I must share their kitchen one day!), their basement is mostly untouched. Right when you walk downstairs, you have to walk through this laundry room before heading into the family room and guest room. So, it is a very important space. It’s  really the threshold to the downstairs. Wayfair has everything we need to whip this room into the most beautiful shape decor-wise, but it obviously needs a little more than decor. I really wanted this to be a true gift (even if they would have to help with the labor part) so, I emailed our friends at Ace Hardware and they pitched in the supplies we need to insulate, drywall, tape, mud, paint, shelve, move around electrical–it’s going to be amazing.

Tomorrow I’ll share the mood board I designed for the space and how we decided on a budget-friendly direction. Even though this isn’t our house, I am just as excited about watching this beat down laundry room get a new life. I hope you are, too!