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Pinned It. Did It. Upcycled Girl’s Dress

Pinned it. Did It. Upcycled Girl's Dress

Do you have any clothes in your closet that you love, but don’t love to wear? That was the case with this one skit. I loved the fabric, and it reminded me of a trip to visit my grandparents when I was pregnant with my daughter. But honestly, this skirt looked terrible on me. I’d put it on, look in the mirror and take it off again. Still, I couldn’t get rid of it.

Finally it dawned on me that I could turn it into something else. So I upcycled it into a dress for Bean. And then she asked if it could be her wedding dress.

Read the whole story over on Liz’s blog!

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Workflow Wednesday: How I Use The Printable Charm Planner Pack

Workflow Wednesday: How I use the Printable Charm Planner Pack

I go back and forth with my planning and scheduling support. Mostly I like my planning systems to be digital and in the cloud, so that I can get to them whenever and from whatever device I have handy. But I have a weakness for pretty planners, too.

This year I put together a printed planner for my blog that has been a huge help for keeping me on track and organized. Also, when I’m overwhelmed, I move off the computer to paper. I don’t know why, but the simplicity of paper and pen seems to help me feel like everything is more concrete and achievable. Or maybe I just like being able to cross things off with a pen when they are done.

I’ve been following Sarah Bell of  Printable Charm on Instagram since before she launched her shop, and I love her designs and her philosophy toward life: “I want to feel good about spending quality time with my family, knowing we are focused on the things that will actually matter in 10 years!” So when she put out a call for bloggers interested in trying and reviewing one of her Printable Charm Planner Packs, I jumped at the opportunity.

Official disclosure: I received a free planner pack for review, but the images and opinions in this post are my own.

I chose her Chalk It Up Planner because I love the simple, modern look. The planning pack also comes in Glam Slam and Seaside Watercolor designs – it really was hard to choose a favorite!

Each of Sarah’s planner packs include the following:

  • 2 years of calendars with daily and monthly views
  • Birthday and anniversary perpetual tracker
  • Blog planner
  • Health tracker
  • Financial freedom tracker
  • Direct sales planner
  • Menu Planner
  • Teacher Planner
  • Appointment, activity and black sticker sheets (to be printed on sticky paper)
  • Notes pages

She also offers a separate Goals Planner and a Travel Journal And Planner.

Workflow Wednesday: How I use the Printable Charm Planner Pack

I printed out the menu planner immediately I’ve written about my commitment to menu planning before, and this one-page menu planner and grocery list is perfect for the way I plan our family’s meals.

Workflow Wednesday: How I use the Printable Charm Planner Pack

I liked her blog planning designs, but I already have a planner printed and bound that will through the end of 2014. I may look at using some of these pages for my 2015 planner. I especially liked the weekly sheet that includes an area to track social media promotion for each post and the stats tracking sheet.

Workflow Wednesday: How I use the Printable Charm Planner Pack

The financial planning section is great, but I already do all these things online. If you are just starting with budgeting or really want to have this work in a tangible printed format, you’ll love these forms. There are monthly budget planners as well as a sheet to help you track debt payments and savings goals.

Workflow Wednesday: How I use the Printable Charm Planner Pack

Because I mostly keep my calendar in iCal, I didn’t think I’d be using the calendar pages. But on a week I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with my to-do list, I decided to print out the daily calendar to help me map out how to get some stuff done. I printed the month of October half size and stapled it into a planner pad. Then I filled in all my scheduled appointments, tasks from my to-do list, and my family’s schedule for each week, making sure I wasn’t overwhelming myself on any one day. This has been really helpful in getting caught up in the last week, while still protecting my still-fragile daily energy. The daily view, with its division of morning/day/night is really great for helping me see my day in manageable segments.

There were two things I’d have really appreciated that this pack didn’t include. First, a linked index list of the contents. Because there is SO MUCH in this planner, I spent a lot of time scrolling through it, looking for the one page I wanted to print. It would be great to have an index at the beginning that would let me jump to the  section I’m looking for

Second, I would have liked a very simple project tracking sheet. I know there’s a separate goals planner that contains something like that, but there are many small projects in my day to day life that I need to break down into smaller steps to take action on. I’ve been using this free printable from Ann-Marie Loves.

The upshot? If you like to plan on paper, and love pretty design, these planner packs are awesome. You can find your own here at Printable Charm.

Do you prefer paper or virtual tracking for your schedule and to-do list?

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Workflow Wednesday: How To Start A Painting

How To Start A Painting; A Guide for Mothers :: www.nuturedmama.net

I found this post on my old blog recently. Although I wrote it when Bean was just a baby, the struggle to extricate my attention from motherhood to focus on my creativity is no easier now. The details may look different for me now, or for you there, depending on your craft or the age or number of your children, but I’m guessing the struggle will feel familiar to many of you. 

How to start a painting:

Carefully break the sleeping baby’s latch on my breast.
Freeze until I am sure she’s asleep.
Slowly get out of bed, hoping the bed frame doesn’t creak and wake her.
Sneak down the hall, avoiding the squeeky board.
Turn on the baby monitor.
Check the time.
Empty the sink, wipe the counter.
Put away the mail.
Add a couple things to the running to-do list that I thought of while laying in bed.
Empty the litter box.
Peek in the bedroom to make sure she’s breathing.
Check the time.
Start a load of laundry.
Put on some music. Change my mind and leave the music off because it will wake the baby.
Go in the studio.
Go back to the kitchen for the baby monitor and a glass of water.
Go in the studio.
Pull out a photo and fight the urge to go print a better one off the computer.
Pry open the palette and check the paint.
Toss the dry paint out and apply new colors.
Fight the urge to go vacuum.
Check the time.
Talk back to the voice that says I’m not any good and I don’t know what I’m doing and I have lots of other things that are far more important and a better use of my time.
Go fill a jar with water and sit.
Fight the urge to go check that the baby is breathing.
Rummage around for an appropriate surface to paint on.
Resist the urge to choose something that needs a coat of gesso, thereby giving me an excuse not to start the actual painting yet.
Sit down at the easel.
Notice that the support I chose is a different aspect ratio than the photo and rummage around some more for masking tape to mask the photo to the right shape.
Listen closely to the monitor to make sure the baby’s breathing.
Go get the mail.
Check the time.
Panic, because the baby’s going to wake up any time now.
Sit.
Take a deep breath.
Dampen a brush and pick up some color.
Take another deep breath and relax my shoulders, bringing my attention to this brush, this color, this moment.
Begin.

Do you have rituals or routines you use to shift gears between one role and another? Share them in the comments below!

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A Better Way To Ask, “How Are You Today?”

A Better Way To Ask "How Are You Today?" :: www.nurturedmama.net

I have a long-time friend who dislikes the question, “How are you today?” because he feels people answer out of habit, not really saying how they are. “Fine,” we say, or “Pretty busy,” But what he wants to know, when he asks someone how they are is how they really are.  Not the habitual answer, but how they really are in that moment. He wants to connect.

He asked me once what question he could ask to find out how I really am and I told him to ask me if I’d noticed the sky today.

On days when my mind is busy and the to do list is pressing and noticing the world around me is not a priority, I don’t notice the sky. It takes a certain amount of slowness, of presence, to look up and really notice. Sometimes a sunset will be so brilliant that it will wrest your attention no matter what, but a cotton candy puff of clouds, or a spinning length of contrail, I might not notice those. But if I’m not noticing the sky, I’m not noticing a lot of other things, either. Like if I’m hungry, or need a glass of water, or need to take a break. I’m probably not going slow enough to let my daughter explore at her own pace, and I’m probably forgetting to say “I love you,” and “I hear you.”

A day when I can tell you about the sky is a good day.

What question would you want someone to ask you to get below the habitual response? What question would uncover how you really feel at this moment?

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5 Books For Creative Mamas

5 Books For Creative Mamas

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a product after clicking through a link I will earn few cents from the sale at no additional cost to you. This income helps to support this blog. Thank you!

There used to be a huge Barnes & Noble bookstore a short drive from my office, back when I still worked in an office. On the days when I just had to escape the world of tech and management to reconnect with my creative artist heart, I’d go there on my lunch break and wander the aisles. Usually I’d end up in what I thought of as the creativity corner. Three shelves intersected there. One shelf held the art biographies, and books on art technique, graphic design and typography. Another had crafts – from wood working to knitting and quilting – and the third had the books that were harder to classify: How to get unstuck, how to keep an art journal, 100 ideas for things to draw.

I loved that corner, and over time quite a few of those books came home with me.

Here are 5 of the books I’ve turned to over and over, especially since leaving the corporate world and becoming a mother. Each has a slightly different focus, so whatever kind of creativity you are seeking in your life, one of these is sure to fit the bill.

If You Need A Creative Self Care Practice

Inner Excavation: Explore Your Self Through Photography, Poetry and Mixed Media, by Liz Lamoreux

Liz is a friend of mine, but I bought this book before I got to know her in person. If you read her blog, many of these practices will sound familiar. These are also the roots of how she leads her wonderful Be Present retreats (where I will be this weekend!). If you are not able to attend a retreat, this book is the next best thing. She walks through the tools she uses to slow down, be present, and look inward to understand who she is in the world in this moment of her life. These are tools that she (and now I) return to over and over again when life begins to swirl or my emotional footing feels uneven.

Each chapter also includes sample projects from other teachers, including Susanna Conway, Kelly Barton, and Vivienne McMaster, who share their own approach to Liz’s basic toolset.

If you only have room in your attention or budget for one creativity book, this is the one I’d recommend. it is so rich.

If You Write (Or Want To)

Use Your Words: A Writing Guide For Mothers, by Kate Hopper

When I first became a mother, I started scouring blogs and Amazon for writing by mothers whose experience mirrored my own. At first that was enough to help me make some sense of it, but quickly I realized I needed also to write it out. What started as journaling and letters to my daughter took forays into freelancing for parenting magazines and then this blog.

Whether your goal is to blog, to write for print magazines, or craft personal essays or memoir, this workshop-in-a-book can set you on your way. The author covers different kinds of forms on the topic of parenting and motherhood, the ethics of writing about our children as characters, how to write about the hard stuff, and how to simply craft the arc of a story. Each section includes exercises to get your pen to paper (the most important part of writing, of course), and samples by mother-writers.

Bonus recommendation: If you want to write about your life but need prompts to get you started, I love the book Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg.

If You Want To Get Your Kids Involved

Hand In Hand: Crafting With Kids, Ed. by Jenny Doh

I’ve been following Jenny Doh since she was Editor In Chief at Stampington. I recently found her Instagram feed and am newly convinced that she’s one of the most creative women sharing her work on the internet right now.

She’s published a number of books at this point and this is one of 2 or 3 of hers I own. It is a compilation of essays on creativity in the family and accompanying projects by 20 popular bloggers. What I love about this book is that it illustrates that there are many ways to be creative, and many ways to share your creativity with your children. I learned so much just from reading about how each of these women puts creativity in the center of their lives.

The projects are also fun, and are appropriate for a range of ages. Most are pretty straightforward, so don’t be scared off if you don’t have a lot of supplies or specific skills. They point is to play together, not to make something perfectly beautiful following a pattern.

If You Want to Jump Start Your Own Creativity

The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission To Be the Artist You Truly Are, by Danny Gregory

The cover of this book has a recommendation from SARK that begins, “The Creative License is a leaping burst of enthusiasm…” and I have to agree. This book is colorful, exuberant, and joyful. If you want to learn to draw, want to keep an illustrated journal of your life, or just want a way to slow down and record the small moments, this book will launch you there.

This is not a book to sit down and read cover to cover. I doubt you’d be able to any way. Each section is so inspiring and full of ideas that I can’t keep it in my hands – I have to set it down and go draw something, make a mark, try something.

If you need a jolt of electricity to be more creative, get back to art, or juice up what you are creating now, try this book.

If You Are Grieving or Struggling

Art Journals & Creative Healing: Restoring the Spirit through Self-Expression, by Sharon Soneff

The back of this book says, “Sharon Soneff demonstrates….how the process of journaling can be a tool in navigating through some of life’s more difficult or challenging seasons.”

Personally, motherhood has been the most challenging season in my life thus far. Not to mention that the act of raising a small person brings me face to face with all my old unhealed stuff on a regular basis.

While writing is certainly a way to work some of that stuff out, I find that journaling in a visual way gives me access to even deeper awareness and healing. There’s something about turning off my logical, language brain, and being in images, color and texture that is incredibly powerful.

With examples, stories, creative exercises and worksheets, the author shows you how to use a visual journal to explore and work through difficult emotions and experiences.

Soneff has a background as a scrapbooker, so her sample journals may be less daunting than Gregory’s books if you are scared of art journaling or don’t feel like you are very creative yet. But there are plenty of messy, painty examples, too!

People, it was so hard to just choose 5 books to share with you. What are your favorite books on creativity or the creative process?

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Taking Stock In September

Taking Stock :: nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock :: nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock :: nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock :: nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock :: nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock :: nurturedmama.net

After taking the full month of August off to recoup from a second round of pneumonia, I think a check-in post is a good place to begin again. This is where I am in this moment, at the cusp of fall.

Want to play? Copy my list and fill in your own answers or just pick a couple of categories that jump out at you. Post in the comments or share a link if you post it somewhere else. I want to hear what’s up with you, too!

  • Making: Putting up in jars and dehydrating fruit.
  • Cooking: Soups and sweet breads.
  • Drinking: More water – or trying to.
  • Reading: Bread And Wine, The Language of Flowers, Infidel (all at once!)
  • Wearing: Leggings under skirts as the mornings and evenings start to feel chill.
  • Feeling: Winter creeping in.
  • Needing: More sleep. Always more sleep.
  • Listening to: My Paint To This playlist in the studio.
  • Smelling: Tomatoes (that’s what I’m dehydrating today).
  • Saying yes to right now: Paint and color and play.
  • Saying no to right now: Figuring out where all this is going in advance.
  • Thinking about: The stories I’m ready to let go of.
  • Worrying about: Getting sick again.
  • Noticing: Turning leaves, chilly mornings, and my craving to knit.
  • Working toward: A full, painted journal.
  • Pinning: My Recent Pins reflects the true nature of my scattered attention: Sewing projects for me and her, craft projects, a certain shade of lipstick, art journal ideas, and recipes.
  • Favorite thing Bean’s been doing: Telling long stories that are part memory, part fantasy, part what-if.
  • Least favorite thing Bean’s been doing: Fighting with me over screen time. Every day.
  • Finding most nurturing: Doing handwork in the evening. I’ve been working on a crewel embroidery alphabet sampler.
  • My favorite thing last month: My baby sister’s wedding and my daughter twirling at twilight in the rain.
  • What I’m grateful for right now: Routine. Friends. Trader Joes’ Cinnamon Schoolbook Cookies.
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Pinned It. Did It. Kid-Friendly Baked Donuts

Kid-friendly baked donuts :: nurturedmama.net

 

I love fried donuts. I love the crunchy-sweet of maple-glazed old fashioned. I love the sweet cinnamon bite of bear claws. I love messy jelly-filled powdered-sugar-coated donuts.

What I don’t love is how I feel after I eat them. All greasy and bloated and sugar high. And I really don’t like how my kid behaves when she feels all greasy and sugar-high after the rare family donut outing.

Recently I decided I wanted to try making donuts at home, but not quite like the ones we get at the donut shop down the street that make us feel so ick. I wanted to make a baked donut that was more satisfying, less sweet, less greasy, and less guilt-inducing. Something I’d be happy to let my daughter eat on a weekend morning.

And I did. Hop on over to Liz’s blog to read about the two baked donut recipes I tried and what me and my small resident donut-taster thought of them.

Kid-Friendly Baked Donuts – click here to read the full post.

 

 

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Project Cookbook: Spaghetti With Egg and Bread Crumbs

Spaghetti with Egg and Bread Crumbs, from Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros :: nurturedmama.net

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a product after clicking through a link I will earn a few cents from the sale at no additional cost to you. This income helps to support this blog. Thank you!

I have to apologize for the delay in this fourth post on Apples for Jam, which I expected to run at the end of July. Early in July I came down with pneumonia and the week I was working on this post I found out it had come back for a second round. At the advice of my doctor and the urgings of my man, I set aside all of my blogging and writing work and took the entire month of August off. Now it is September and I’m feeling much better. But I didn’t want to skip this last recipe from Apples for Jam, so here it is, better late than never!

Spaghettini With Egg and Toasted Parsley Bread Crumbs

This recipe (p120) starts off with the words, “This is nice and simple.” That’s a recipe speaking my language right there! As I wrote in July, we were facing a glut of eggs. I already had some hard-boiled in the fridge, so this seemed like a perfect dish to try for one of my “working” mornings.

Three days each week my daughter goes to daycare and I pick her up at 1. I am so focused on my to-do list on those mornings that I often forget to eat lunch before I need to leave the house to fetch her. Having a plan for a fast and simple meal is what saves me. Because it is written to serve 4, I simply used the recipe as a guideline to make a dish for one. I also liberally deleted and substituted ingredients: No anchovies (yuck!), regular spaghetti for spaghettini, french bread for white, celery leaves for parsley, and extra garlic and lemon zest.

Spaghetti with Egg and Bread Crumbs, from Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros :: nurturedmama.net

If you’ve been reading this series from the beginning, you may have noticed that I adjust recipes a lot. My ex used to say that you should always make a recipe exactly as written the first time, then make your adjustments on the second round. I’ve been reading Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist and she shares similar advice given by Thomas Keller of The French Laundry. It is not bad advice. But I just can’t seem to do it. I’m a tinkerer at heart. And I don’t want the need for a trip to the store to get between me and a perfectly good meal.

Spaghetti with Egg and Bread Crumbs, from Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros :: nurturedmama.net

And this was a good meal. Fast and simple, just as promised. Enough egg and pasta to fill me up and enough zing from the garlic and lemon and texture from the fried bread crumbs to make me pay attention. This is one I definitely recommend. Next time I’ll try it out on the whole family, with a tossed salad to round it out.

Final Review Of Apples For Jam

Spaghetti with Egg and Bread Crumbs, from Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros :: nurturedmama.net

Although I enjoyed the recipes I made from this book, in the end I’m deciding to let it go. I will copy down the formula for fruit sauces and this spaghetti dish into my kitchen notebook, but there just weren’t enough recipes that really called me to warrant the space this one takes on my shelf. Because the collection is largely comfort foods, many of the recipes are repeated in other cookbooks I own. I was also bothered by the text layout. Although beautiful, the styling of the pages made them really hard to read when I had a spoon in one hand and a steaming pot to tend. So, out this one goes.

So, readers, what should I cook next? What are you craving to cook or learn about cooking now that fall (or spring for some of you) is creeping in?

 

This post is part of the Project Cookbook series, throughout which I cook through all the recipe books in my kitchen to decide which to keep and which to let go. I’m searching for simple, heathy ways to feed my family. You can find the rest of the series here

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Pinned It. Did It. Handmade Maxi Skirt

Handmade Maxi Skirt - Pinned It. Did It. :: www.nurturedmama.net

For my next project in the Pinned It. Did It. series, I tackled a maxi skirt.

This was supposed to be an easy project but I made a mess of it. It all came out well in the end (I love the skirt, which you can see in the photo above), but I share my lessons learned over on Liz’s blog.

I hope you avoid these problems in your next sewing project!

Read the full post here.

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Project Cookbook: Lemon Curd Goat Milk Ice Cream

This lemon curd goat milk ice cream is slightly subtle and elegant, but also lick-your-spoon delicious. :: www.nurturedmama.net

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a product after clicking through a link I will earn a few cents from the sale at no additional cost to you. This income helps to support this blog. Thank you!

A few weeks ago I posted this photo on Facebook and begged for recipes:

This lemon curd goat milk ice cream is slightly subtle and elegant, but also lick-your-spoon delicious. :: www.nurturedmama.net

Our hens had been very productive during the warm months of May and June and while my health was poor I wasn’t keeping up with their output. I needed egg recipes, stat!

Two suggestions I heard several times were ice cream and lemon curd. Both use 3-4 (or more) eggs each. I did make lemon curd, and we had egg salad for dinner a couple of times (yum, and easy, by the way!) but man, those chickens just keep laying!

Last week I had dinner with a couple of friends, one of whom runs a farm in Northern California. She always brings goodies when she comes to town and had offered to trade me a jar of lemon curd for a jar of her fresh goat milk.

When I was a kid and we lived off the land, we also raised goats. I don’t have particularly wonderful memories of their milk. I remember it tasting really strong and well, goat-y. I was going to just give her the lemon curd and pass on the milk, but she insisted her goats gave really mild milk and I should really try it again. She suggested ice cream.

This lemon curd goat milk ice cream is slightly subtle and elegant, but also lick-your-spoon delicious. :: www.nurturedmama.net

I had seen a recipe for ice cream in Apples for Jam that looked interesting, so I took her suggestion.

Now I know. Trust Bonnie on all things ice cream.

I can’t say if the milk was mild enough for me to drink straight, because I used it all in this ice cream. And it was wonderful.

I started with the Lemon Curd Ice Cream recipe in Apples for Jam (p140), but I used whole goat milk instead of milk plus heavy cream. My ice cream might be a little less rich than the original recipe intends, but it is wonderful. This is no low-fat ice cream. Because the whole goat milk had plenty of cream already, it still has that thick, rich mouth-feel of cream-based ice creams.

I have this Cuisinart automatic ice cream maker, which makes quick work of the actual freezing part, and churns to just the perfect texture. The only problem with this machine is that the bowl has to be pre-frozen, ideally for a full 24 hours. Here’s another ice cream tip from Bonnie: Buy a second bowl so you always have a cold one in the freezer. She’s so smart!

And here’s a tip from me. Get yourself one of these amazing ice cream scoops. My aunt gave me one a number of years ago and my ex and I fought over it when we split. I don’t remember now which of us kept the one we had, but the other of us definitely bought a replacement. It is that good. No ice cream is too frozen to scoop with it, and it is shaped perfectly to get the very last tiny bits out of the bottom of a round container of any size. I didn’t know an ice cream scoop could change my life until I tried this one.

Here’s my modified recipe:

Lemon Curd Goat Milk Ice Cream

4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar (the original recipe recommends superfine sugar, but I used regular organic evaporated cane juice)
3 Tblsp butter, cut into small pieces
grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon, or more for a stronger lemon flavor
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (which was 3 lemons in my case)
2 1/2 cups raw, cream-on-top goat or cow milk, warmed slightly.

Bring a pan of water to a boil and then lower to a slight simmer. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a wide glass or stainless steel bowl until thick and creamy. Set the bowl on top of the pan of water, creating a double boulder,  add the butter and let it melt, stirring occasionally. Add the lemon zest and juice and whisk continuously until it thickens. It should lightly coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the bowl from heat and whisk in the milk. Keep whisking for another minute to help the mixture cool slightly so the milk doesn’t curdle. Set it aside and let it cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally. Put the bowl in the fridge until it is completely cold before pouring it into the ice cream maker. Follow your machine’s directions for churning and finishing the ice cream.

Do you have any ice cream tips to share? Add them to the comments!

Next week I’m going to try another recipe that uses eggs (because those hens!). This one is spaghetti with soft-boiled egg and toasted parsley bread crumbs. Tune in next week to see how it went!

This post is part of the Project Cookbook series, throughout which I cook through all the recipe books in my kitchen to decide which to keep and which to let go. I’m searching for simple, heathy ways to feed my family. You can find the rest of the series here

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