Once upon a time, when I was feeling a bit down in the dumps and cranky, my dear husband, while on break at work, tried to think up a way to cheer me up.Read More
Here's the way I see it: If you're making a mess then go ahead and really make a mess :-) Yup! A new way of arting and crafting has emerged from the Hayes household. On a particularly rainy day I received a package from Amazon. Lil' P gets particularly excited about packages from Amazon...ever since a huge box (who recalls what was in it...that is not important) arrived for her last year and transformed itself into a spaceship. Anyhow, the package that arrived on this particular day was quite a bit smaller but an idea emerged. I put the box along with some crafty things I had collected from my closet on the table, blasted some music, and let lil P go for it! Out emerged the coolest lil dollhouse I have ever seen (and yes I am biased).
The minute P said "dollhouse" I realized we needed some "dolls". Clothes pins worked perfect for that. P drew little faces on about 10 different pins and then had me draw some. We drew on little outfits for the dolls as well and named each one after one of P's friends and family members, so that they could have a doll to play with when they come over. (her idea)
Pretty much the only other thing I did to help was cut some holes in the box with an exacto knife for windows and the door.
Next P made the carpet:
And decorated with "stickaws" and pipe cleaners (which she wrapped around the windows):
Now lets talk about all of the high tech modular furniture that P made for her little house. You see, according to her, these tissue tubes can be seats for a rocket ship, tables, or a bed. (the house is a normal house but it can also fly in space duh)
So there we have it. My kid was entertained for hours which is very much worthy of a blog post if I do say so myself. :-)
Part 3! Here we go!
I remember when I was just discovering my foodieness and I asked someone who the best chef in the world was. Their answer was Ferran Adria of El Bulli. So here we go with that theme again: I just love knowing what a chef eats when they're actually cooking for themselves. Chefs at El Bulli eat a "family meal" together every day and that's what this book is about. They use purposefully inexpensive ingredients as they're feeding a crowd. There is a back up of stocks, broths, and sauces in the freezer. The family meals are well organized and coordinated with step by step instructions and timelines.
Each family meal at el Bulli includes bread, a first course, a second course and desert. The coolest part is they really mix together foods from all different cultures, as the chefs come from all over the world. In one night they'll eat burgers and ceasar salad and the next night its farfalle with pesto, Japanese style bream fish and Mandarin oranges in Cointreau. This book is a great way to adventure out and try new foods on the cheap, plus I promise you will become best friends with your local fishmonger.
The title for this one says it all. After the free PDF in part 1, this is my favorite budget cookbook. Each meal in this book costs under $8 per person and it's really great stuff: risotto, all kinds of soups, shrimp n grits (yum!), pasta from scratch.... Lando also has great recipes for cheaper cuts of meat and explains how to get the best deals/ most bang for your buck. There are recipes for lamb shanks, chicken wings, short ribs, various cuts of pork and the like.
While the first key to cooking on a budget is knowing which foods cost the least (see book above) the second equally important key is to simply have cooking skills. As Lopez-Alt explains, once you know all of the ways to cook an egg, the basics of soups and stocks, meat preparation etc. then you can make something from pretty much anything. Instead of always following recipes you can think on the spot about what you'd like to cook with what you see in your fridge or whats on sale at the market. If there's one book that will make you the best cook you can possibly be, it's this one. It is the literal science of cooking, in a nutshell and Kenji Lopez-Alt does an awesome job of teaching. (he even took all of the pics in the book)
For example, here is a display of eggs boiled at 30 second intervals so you can decide exactly what consistency you'd like:
Thus concludes my list of favorite cookbooks for the cook on a budget. I'd love to know if you have a favorite budget cookbook. Let me know in the comments :-)
Woohoo! Time for part 2! Up next on my list of favorite cookbooks for people on a budget:
The day I discovered that I wanted to be Christina Tosi's best friend (not that she has any idea who I am) was actually the same day I knew that Tim was most definitely the man I should marry. Tim made me the "Birthday Cake" from Tosi's first book, the Momofuku Milk Bar. There are no words to describe how amazing that cake is but I shall try: Imagine the best boxed confetti cake you've ever had but imagine it was three tiers and made from scratch and was twenty times as good and had chunks of cookies in it and and and
So yeah. Ya'll may know Tosi as a judge on Masterchef but I've dribbled on photos of her baked goods for years prior to her TV debut. #imjustsayin :-) For example, here's the Inside cover of Milk Bar Life
I've made the above cookies countless times and it has taken me all of five minutes not including the time in the oven. I suppose there's an ongoing theme in the budget cookbooks I've chosen- most are these sort of simplified or "at home" versions of fancier/ less budget friendly books by the same chefs. This one's title explains exactly the point: This is how Christina Tosi lives. This is the stuff she actually cooks when she's at home and exhausted after work, when she wants to entertain, on a weekend off, for a bbq, etc. She has an entire section devoted to what she does for an ideal "girls night". I tend to be the girls night host amongst my friends as well so this was of course my favorite part.
I take that back. My favorite part is actually the recipe for "Kimcheez-its" and dip
In a nutshell: Get you this book!
I mean, look at that cover. You want to eat that food? I don't blame you.
Tim made Bayless' pork chili verde and it was insanely good. This is a budget cookbook review so here's the cost breakdown: He bought a pork loin for $8 but only used half, bought tomatillos, serano and poblano from the Mexican Market for about $3 plus some garlic and onions for maybe $4. This fed us for literally days.
There are tons of recipes for legit Mexican food in Bayless' book and almost all of them are inexpensive and healthy. You could easily eat Mexican food every day with this book.
Stay tuned for part three of this Budget cookbook review :-)
A Three Part Series by Jamie Hayes
My husband Tim and I met five years ago on okcupid (A website which I highly recommend). We both took the website rather seriously, answering all of the voluntary 'about me' questions. Like, I'm talking hundreds of questions. This is my very long way of saying that it is our theory that this okcupid algorithm matched us, in a nutshell, because of our love for food. Another thing the algorithm seemed to grasp is that neither of us care about money and therefore we studied liberal arts and therefore we live, you guessed it dear readers, on A BUDGET.
Tim is an avid cookbook collector. When he was younger, before he had any responsibilities, he would buy books like these:
Flash forward a decade or so to us being parents on a budget and our go-to cookbook is a completely free PDF (more on that below) but we do budget cooking foodie style (although, to quote my bff Katie, I like the word gourmand better than foodie...maybe I shall say we are gourmands on a budget). We pay great attention to the ingredients and where they come from. Sometimes that location is our own backyard.
We've managed to obtain quite the collection of cookbooks throughout the years and below are some of our favorites. We hope you find your new favorite cookbook among them.
Back in the day, Tim purchased for himself the original masterpiece in all of its glory: Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. Its five volumes include: History and Fundamentals, Techniques and Equipment, Animals and Plants, Ingredients and Preparation and Plated Dish Recipes. Also included was a spiral bound Kitchen Manual.
But a few years ago after Modernist Cuisine was so successful, its creators made a shortened version of their original multi-volume series, this time geared towards the home cook interested in incorporating more modern techniques into their cooking. Their new project became Modernist Cuisine at Home. This newer book is just one volume with an additional spiral bound kitchen manual.
Much like its predecessor, Modernist Cuisine at Home has the worlds most beautiful food photographs by Nathan Myhrvold, Melissa Lehuts and the Cooking Lab photography team:
The reason I chose this book specifically for cooking on a budget is it can teach the aspiring modernist home cook all of the basic recipes they need, such as the worlds best pizza dough recipe (we swear by it) and Mac and Cheese that will possibly make you cry with happiness if you like cheese as much as I do and did I mention- the photos alone are worth every penny.
To quote Brown's blog:
Good and Cheap is a cookbook for people with very tight budgets, particularly those on SNAP/Food Stamp benefits. The PDF is free and has been downloaded more than 1,000,000 times.
After the PDF went viral online, I launched a Kickstarter project to fund a print run, using a "get one, give one" system (like TOMS Shoes) so that people who bought a book for themselves could give another copy to a family in need.
The campaign was tremendously successful — I asked for $10,000 to print a small batch, but I ended up with 5,636 supporters who raised $144,681! That made it the #1 cookbook ever on Kickstarter.
To Download The FREE PDF: http://www.leannebrown.com/
Good and Cheap is my favorite! This, I would say, is the book I think of and use the most day to day. Its recipes are also the least expensive as they were designed specifically for people on SNAP/ Food Stamp benefits. Brown created the pdf with the budget of $4 a day in mind. (holy cheapness!) Good and Cheap is a great overall lesson on how to eat well even if one is on food stamps (or would like to spend much less money on food in general). Take note, Gwyneth Paltrow. If I were to sum up Leann Brown's suggested lifestyle philosophy when it comes to eating on a budget, it would be to concentrate the most on plant foods, using meat sparingly. She also has some great from scratch recipes for things like roti, tortillas, pizza dough, pasta, etc. but the best thing about this book is that you don't feel like you're eating cheaply. Instead you're thinking like a true cook- taking great care with everything you make at your kitchen counter.
*stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of my series on cookbooks for the cook on a budget
Hello, internet people! Tim here with a blog about waterfalls. Oregon is lousy with them, and most of them are great. These three are amazing. We live right next door to the Umpqua National Forest and that provides us with a quick getaway to places like this. Layng Creek Road is one of my favorites. There are three rather spectacular waterfalls within 4 miles of each other up there and its a great place to visit. Each waterfall is a quick hike of about a half a mile, though it is up and down hills and the trails can be mildly tricky in spots. Our three year old has successfully navigated all of these so if you happen to have a mild mannered toddler these could be fun hikes. Without children you could easily make a day of it and see all three waterfalls in a three or four hour jaunt. From Eugene I would say it's about an hour and fifteen minutes to the first waterfall on this list, so be prepared to make a day of it. (May I suggest breakfast at Buster's in Cottage Grove. This is a completely unpaid endorsement, I'm just a big fan of a good breakfast)
A Few Quick Notes on Travel:
The falls are all located up Layng Creek road, a forest service road that is maintained admirably by the good people at the Forest Service. It's a beautiful and pleasant drive along the creek and through the woods. That in mind, this is a forest road and it can get narrow, the potholes can be massive and in poor weather you should probably just stay home. I have traversed them all with my Nissan Sentra and have done just fine (aside from the occasional pothole scrape). There is also nowhere to get water by the falls so bring plenty, and snacks are always advised.
For directions to these falls and many more adventures see the Forest Service's recreation guide. It's a 51 page pdf with maps to a couple dozen falls and hikes in the Cottage Grove Ranger District. I printed mine out (at my old job, hehehe) and thumb through it looking for new adventures. It gives very detailed directions, far better than I could ever do, so I highly recommend looking at it. For serious, do it. I've found many a good hike in there.
Spirit falls is our cover waterfall this post. It's the easiest to get to, only a few hundred yards from where the pavement turns to gravel, just past your last chance for a bathroom. As it is the easiest to get to it is also the busiest, but at it's busiest there will be maybe five or six cars. After a half mile hike the falls clock in at 60 feet tall. There's a picnic table in the shade at the waterfall so its a great place for lunch on a hot day. All of these waterfalls are in the Layng Creek watershed so swimming is discouraged but the spray from the falls is always refreshing. Like any waterfall it will be at its fullest early in the spring, which is when these photos were taken.
From Spirit falls Moon and Pinard Falls are each 3.5 miles away. In different directions from each other. From here on out the road is unpaved and the last .3 miles to Moon Falls are on a narrow gravel road that is a little bit bumpy and mildly nerve wracking. It is little traveled but be careful out there. I don't mean to scare you off, I just don't want you to get out there and start cursing my name for sending you into the woods unprepared.
Once you get to the parking lot the falls are a half mile away and a fairly easy walk. Like many of the trails in the Umpqua forest it follows along an abandoned logging road through second growth forest before meandering down to the falls. Moon Falls clocks in at 125 feet. Pretty impressive. There's a picnic table at the trailhead and another at the falls. Don't cheat yourself, the walk to the falls is short and the view from the parking lot table is lousy.
There's also a patch of cedar trees that grow in the creek created by the falls. It's pretty nifty.
From Moon Falls you head back towards Spirit Falls and then you can pop over to Pinard. I really like Pinard Falls. I've seen many a waterfall, what with being from Oregon and all, and this is on of my favorites. It's 105 feet tall, the rock faces are massive, the pool is beautiful, and it's all a very striking experience.
That said, it's been a while since I've been there and I can't completely recall what the roads are like (which means they can't be memorably awful, right?), but I do remember the hike gets a little steep near the falls. Not too bad, but definitely a little steeper than the other trails. There's a bench by the falls but no picnic table. The viewing area is small and I did not climb down to the pool, though there is a little path for that.
This concludes our tour of the Waterfalls of Layng Creek, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read, maybe I'll see you out at the waterfalls one of these weekends!
Hello!! I didn't forget about you! Things got busy busy but the good news is I'm amped for the summer and am thinking I will have lots to write about as Oregon is sort of magical that time of year (who am I kidding- its magical all times of year). Speaking of, Tim and I took a VERY mini vacation (about 24 hours) to Yachats a few weeks ago. It was so wonderful! Plus, I remembered to take pictures and notes so I could write about it:
For my friends who aren't from here, the Oregon coast is actually quite close to where we live- about 50 minutes or so. We drove west toward the cost after dropping 'lil P off at the grandparents in Eugene. Our first stop was, I think, the first potty option in Florence and a good way to send $20 out into the ether:
Yup. The casino.
Up next was the Fred Meyer where we bought all the junk foods and gas for the car. Then it was time for adventuring and Heceta Beach. The lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper's house are some of my favorite things about Oregon (not to mention the beach itself).
Next it was time to check in at the hotel. We stayed at the Adobe in Yachats which I highly recommend. Every room has an ocean view but it is still very affordable. (It was VERY affordable for us as we had a gift certificate from my amazing in-laws but I still plan on going back as often as possible). Here is the view from our room! :
The room also had a fireplace and an excessive amount of lounge chairs.
You can buy this at the front desk:
We got fancified and then got a fancy drink at the hotel lounge. The waitress who appears to be sitting on my shoulder was an absolute hoot!
We then went out to dinner at a place called Ona. The ambiance was excellent and it felt like a fancy date. We had a nice server as well. I will say that the food could have been better and more local given the prices. Also too much saffron can actually taste a bit dirty/ muddy and this was unfortunately the case with my pasta. I learned later that there is a fun pizza place by the Adobe so next time, that.
The next day we went to the Drift Inn for breakfast which is tried and true and awesome. They have umbrellas hanging from the ceiling!
and this mural!
Then it was on to one more beach where Tim found every agate in Oregon and I found no agates but enjoyed the hunt.
Here's a story for ya:
Right after I graduated from college (the University of Wisconsin...Go Badgers!!) I needed an easy summer job and I ended up working at Lane Bryant for all of three months.
I gained a very valuable skill there, which still comes in handy to this day. The skill of properly measuring women for bras. Since making that fact known, I have had pretty much every one of my girlfriends ask me one of the following questions:
1. How do I measure myself so I know what bra size I wear?
2. I've noticed you have a rather large bust, Jamie. Where do you purchase your bras and how much do you spend on said bras? (ok I guess that counts as a two part question)
Here are my answers:
-You'll need a cloth tape measure.
-First, while wearing a bra measure yourself (in inches) around the band of your bra; over the band and not too tightly (but sort of tight). If you have an odd numbered measurement or any fractions of an inch, round up.
THIS IS YOUR BRA'S BAND SIZE
*The band of your bra, not the straps, is what is 90% in charge of holding up your boobs. You want the band to be tight without being painful. If it leaves a mark, then it is too tight.
-Then, still while wearing a bra, measure around your breasts at the outer most part (probably your nipples). Make sure you have really good posture. It should almost feel like you're sticking your breasts out. Keep your shoulders back.
Write down that measurement (in inches)
-Now, count the number of inches in difference between your band measurement and the measurement around your breasts. Write that number down.
For example, if your band measurement is 38 and the measurement around your breasts is 43, then the number you would write down is 5.
-Use this chart with your magic number:
less than 1 inch difference AA cup
1 inch in difference is an A cup
2 inches B cup
3 inches C cup
4 inches D cup
5 inches DD or E cup
6 inches DDD or F cup
7 inches DDDD or G cup
8 inches H cup
9 inches I cup
10 inches J cup
11 inches K cup
2. Where to buy Bras and Swimsuits if you have a big chest or are plus sized (aka you have a bigger band width than what is available in chain stores):
-First of all, right at home here in Eugene, Oregon there is an amazing store for all women and all sizes both large and small and everywhere in between: Ruth's Foundations! (they are located in the Southtowne Shoppes in south Eugene)
This place rocks! The women there are so helpful and they have pretty much every band size and cup size and more importantly if they don't they'll order it for you.
The bras I've gotten at Ruth's (I also bought a Speedo swimsuit there in a plus size) were a little on the pricey side although that may be because the brands that carry my size tend to be pricier. I think I spent about $60 per bra. But the idea with Ruth's Foundations is they want your bras to last you a long time. They offer repairs/tayloring of bras so if, for example, the under wire of your bra comes out or the elastic band is fraying/ losing its elasticity they can fix that.
Unfortunately, as a large-chested plus sized woman, this is the only store in town that carries my size so after that I head online for my shopping:
-Amazon! You can get to amazon from the banner right at the top of our page! You can get pretty much anything you need on Amazon. I've gotten all of my big 'ol nursing bras here and other bras as well.
I got an awesome strapless bra here but I wasn't a huge fan of what it was called, lol. They called it "The largest strapless bra in the world". Sometimes they offer said bra and sometimes they don't but this is a great place to buy plus size bras and they have a good range of prices. They have some really good deals on two packs of bras as well. (not to mention great deals on six packs of underpants)
Sometimes I'll find a great bra in my size here. Great prices...probably the least expensive option on this list. Nice swimsuits, too!
Huge range of sizes! I would probably say this is my favorite place to buy bras, shape wear, underwear and swimsuits.
Carries all sizes and all different kinds of nursing bras. I love their nursing cami and it was the only one I could find in my size.
*Why am I not including places like Lane Bryant and Torrid, you ask?...for the simple reason that I do not buy bras at those places as they do not carry my size. However, they may carry your size and if they do awesome! I really like their stuff.
In the comments section, please feel free to let me know if there's any great places I've missed. Thank you for reading!
Well I'm just gonna go ahead and say it: We sort of failed the "Use It Up" Challenge. But only sort of. I'll explain:
First, here's what I had in mind: Tim and I were planning on using up all of the random stuff that we'd accumulated in our pantry by getting creative and looking up recipes, etc. Then I was going to beautifully organize things with a plethora of decorative vessels. What didn't occur to me when we chose this category to use up is that we had friends and family in town for the holidays, lots of holiday parties and pretty much never ended up eating dinner at home. Oops :-)
Here's where it gets really embarrassing:
This is both the before and after picture of our pantry. I know. We are what I'd like to call "pantry shovers"; meaning ever since we moved into this house OVER A YEAR AGO we've been shoving our groceries into our cabinets, telling ourselves that we'll get around to organizing it all at some point. Tim's random Asian ingredients ended up at the top where I can't reach...that's about as organized as we've gotten so far.
Now that our dirty secret is out of the way I would like to move on and discuss what I did get out of this challenge, which was actually a lot:
Tim and I both want to be healthier. I recently had a doctors appointment during which I discussed with my doctor the fact that I have these huge spikes and dips in my hunger and energy levels and that I sometimes even get nauseous when I'm really hungry. She said that this was probably due to my addiction to processed refined carbs aka my tendency to eat lots of baguettes and pasta. She recommended that I try to not make those items such staples of my diet.
So, as you may notice, the only pasta left in our pantry is one box of lasagna noodles. The question now was what do we cook instead? That's where this challenge was hugely helpful. While rummaging around I found all sorts of healthier grain options that I had either opened and tried once or, gasp, never even opened. Here are some of the recipes we tried, with honest reviews on how they tasted:
1. Rice (brown rice is of course ideal). This one is obvi and I'm sure most people eat rice as part of their diet. To go on top of the rice, for the "Use It Up" challenge I grabbed a pre-made curry boxed 'meal kit' and added to it sun-dried tomatoes, since I wanted to get those out of the pantry (an awful idea) as well as cabbage, tofu and fish sauce (a very good idea). The consensus: I will definitely continue to stock up on these sorts of ready made curry boxes as it was so easy. We got a bunch at the Cottage Grove Grocery Outlet. And I will never again add sun-dried tomatoes to it.
We had four boxes of quinoa that we purchased once from the Cottage Grove Grocery Outlet because they were on sale for $3 each!!! Then we tried it once and I didn't really like it. The solution: This recipe I got from pinterest:
It is sooooo good! I won't exactly call this healthy cuz cheese but it is a great way to get veggies, protein and healthy carbs into the belly of Lil' P...she loved it.
I'm gonna go ahead and say that millet as a stand alone is not so yummy. But I have not given up on it! I plan on trying to bake with it as well as use it in soup ...I think it will work better that way. For millet I used this recipe:
While I find Millet blerg, I love love loved the gravy!! I plan on making it again and putting it on top of a different grain. Since I'm not vegan and because I was trying to use up what I had as opposed to go shopping, I made some substitutions/ changes to this recipe which I was happy with:
-I cooked the millet in vegetable broth.
-I dissolved a chicken bullion cube into the gravy
-I also added Worcestershire sauce and dried parsley for some color
-I topped with Parmesean cheese!!!!!!!!
4. AND THE WINNER IS....FARRO
Oh man! I'm not going to even bother with a recipe because I eat this stuff ALL THE TIME! It is so good! Follow the package instructions and cook it with broth instead of water and wow!! Farro stands alone and can be used as a side dish for any protein...fish, chicken, pork, you name it. You can even make farro risotto (farroto). Get you some Farro!!!!!
Ok well I think that's about it for this portion of the Use It Up Challenge but I'm not calling it quits. I'd like to actually finish the challenge with Tim's help and use up a bunch more stuff in our pantry to make some space so that we can actually organize it. We will of course keep you posted!! Happy New Year!
P.S. don't forget to check out Ali's blog. She'll be posting with what she did for the challenge tomorrow and I have a feeling it's going to be awesome
by Jamie (but Tim will be taking part in the below mentioned challenge too!)
One of our favorite bloggers (who also happens to be Tim's cousin), Ali at Good Little House had an amazing (maybe even a HayesAmazing...badumbum) idea to get our blogging/photography/crafting/handyperson/creative/cooking juices flowing: We are going to spend the next month (until January 5th) using up some thing(s)- and by the way, we challenge you to do the same! The idea is to choose a category of things you have a bunch of that you need to use: crafting supplies, scrap paper, pantry items, a freezer full of mystery meat, billions of dollars in philanthropic funds, a garden full of squash....You get the idea. I think I know what we'll be choosing to use up but you'll have to stay tuned to see our blog post about the challenge this January :-)
Meatballs! They're a red sauce classic that evokes images of checkered table cloths, dusty plastic grape bunches and chianti bottle candle holders. But when you don't have time to go to your local Italian eatery and order a plate, they're an easy and rewarding dish to make at home.
I like to use a mix of beef and pork for my meatballs. All beef is just too....beefy. And the texture is a little tougher. I also like to bake my meatballs on a rack in the oven so the fat drips off, which automatically turns them into a health food. (Ed. Note: No it does not) They don't get quite as browned up in the oven as they would if you browned them on the stovetop, but I don't think that makes too much difference. They're covered in sauce anyway, no one will ever know. Unless they sneak one out and wash it off. If they do that don't invite them back to dinner.
Oh, and one of the best things about meatballs? Leftovers. Meatball subs, meatball pizza, more spaghetti and meatballs. It's a win, win, win. I'll give you a quick rundown on making meatball subs after this column is finished. You'll be happy you waited.
Note: We're getting detailed on the meatball making in the recipe and there are lots of pictures of raw meat and they aren't all beautiful. Just thought I should tell you. If you've made it this far your probably decently carnivorous and as carnivores it's something we should strive to be comfortable with, but if you are of delicate sensibility I understand.
Preheat your oven to 425 and make sure the rack is in the center of the oven.
Gather all your ingredients and tools. You're going to need a large bowl, a small cutting board, a box grater and a microplane if you have one. (A microplane is a nifty little grater that is shaaaaaaarp. They're great for zesting citrus, and grating things like Parmesan, ginger, garlic, chocolate, etc. You deserve one. Look! there's a link for one right there!)
Now crack your egg into a large bowl. You need a big bowl because you're going to want to really get in there and mix things about.
Now mix that egg up.
Now add your bread crumbs, herbs, salt, pepper, chile flakes, parsley and cheese. If you don't have a pepper grinder you can use pre-ground. (I really, really like this OXO grinder. You can adjust the grind from coarse to fine and anything in between. Most pepper grinders have the pepper come out on the bottom and they leave little dusty rings of pepper wherever you set them. Not this one! The pepper comes out of the top! No more mess! Brilliant!)
Grate your onion on your box grater directly into the bowl. You can mince the onion instead but I find the grated onion mixes better and more evenly into the meat. Microplane or mince your garlic and toss it in the bowl as well.
Now that you have all that looking so beautiful in the bowl it's time to mix it up. Grab a spoon and go to town.
Now that we've got that lovely mess it's time to add the milk and mix it up some more. It should be a fairly smooth, not too liquid mix but it should be able to flow, not sit there like jello.
I know, I know, its a gross, gloppy, chunky starchy mess. But you've just made a panade, the classic French mix of starch and liquid that is used to bind and moisten ground meat preparations. Look at you and your fancy French culinary techniques! Tres bon!
Now that we've finished congratulating ourselves on our new found fanciness it's time to add the meat. You can play with the proportions but for this recipe we're doing one pound of beef to one pound of pork. Add them to your glop! I mean, combine them with the panade. Yeah, that's it.
Now things are going to get real messy. Your hands should already be pretty clean, because you washed them before starting the recipe, right? Good. Because it's time to roll up your sleeves and go to town on this mess o' meat. That's right, get your hands in there and mix the meat together. I know it's gross, but you just can't get a good, even mix with a spoon. You could try a stand mixer but that will probably overwork the meat and make your meatballs tough. So get in there and mix the meat, gently, folding it together with your hands until you have an even distribution of ingredients.
There! Well done. Looks like a nice distribution of stuff. Now wash the hell out of your hands. Time to taste the mix.
"Oh god, taste it?!? It's raw beef! And pork! And egg! Are you mad?!?!?"
No. I mean, probably. But not for that reason. I didn't say to taste it raw, did I?
"Oh. I suppose not."
Exactly. So just calm down for a tick and let me explain. You probably nailed the recipe and have some excellent tasting meatballs. Or maybe you forgot something important, like salt or parsley (Yup). You're going to take a small spoonful of mix and put it on a plate.
That's a decent amount.
Plop it on the plate and microwave it for about 15 seconds. It's going to pop and sizzle but that's fine. It's also going to look like a little grey meteor and be a little chewy. That is why we don't microwave meatballs. That would be a bad, bad idea. When it's cooked through pop it in your mouth and see if it tastes alright. I needed to add a little more salt. And I still forgot about the parsley. Sheesh.
Alright! The time has come to form the meatballs. We're going to get a little dirty again here, but first get out a sheet pan (one with sides) and a cooling rack, they type you cool your cookies on. Make sure the rack fits inside the pan. You can skip this step if you need to but putting the meatballs on a rack lets the fat drip off and keeps the meatballs from sitting in a lake of molten fat and getting too greasy.
So, meat is mixed, pan is ready, it's time to form the meatballs. Set your oven to 400 and grab yourself a small bowl or mug of cold water and set it by your bowl o' meat and pan. Don't drink it! You'll be dipping your hands into the bowl of water every meatball or so to keep the meat from sticking to your hands. If you really, really can't handle sticking your hands into the meat (but if you made it this far you probably are okay with that) you can use an ice cream scoop to form uniform meatballs, but they may come out a big shaggier than if you hand form them.
Okay, let's get forming. Dip your hands in the water and grab a handful of meat. I like my meatballs fairly substantial so I grab about a half cup of the mix for each ball, you can scale that up or down as you like.
Now that you've grabbed your hunk o' meat roll it between your hands until it's roughly spherical and smooth. Don't do this too hard, you're not pressing the meat into a ball you're only giving it the shape it needs. It should already be sticking together pretty well from all the mix ins we added earlier.
Now that you've formed your meat mix into a perfect sphere, plop it onto the rack, spaced about inch apart, dip your hands in your water, and keep rolling. I wound up with twelve big meatballs from this batch.
Once you've formed all your meatballs wash your hands. You probably didn't need to be told that but that's what I'm here for. Put the sheet of meatballs into your oven and set the timer for twenty minutes. It took 25 minutes for me to finish mine but I always like to check to make sure I haven't overcooked them. Put a 3-5 quart pot on the stove and start heating some tomato sauce. You can make your own (and we'll talk about that soon!) or you can use store bought. I used store bought this time because I was all out of canned tomatoes crazy, right?!?) and it was great. It doesn't matter how good the sauce is, letting the meatballs simmer in it for a couple minutes will make it much, much tastier. Magic!
Once your meatballs have reached a temperature of 165 they're ready to eat. If you don't have a thermometer there are a couple other techniques you can use to see if they're done. You can sacrifice a meatball by slicing it in half or you can do the old "poke and see if the liquid runs clear" trick, but that one is a little too imprecise for me. Another classic trick to see if something is warm enough is to stick a metal skewer or fork into it and then touch the skewer to your upper lip. If it's hot, it's probably done, but again, it's imprecise. Consider getting yourself a thermometer. They're great for cooking meat and also checking if things like bread or rolls are done. You can get a good one for $15 or spring for a right fancy one for $50 or more.
Now that our meatballs have come to temp take them out of the oven. I let them cool a little bit before I put them into the sauce because I remove them from the rack with my hands. You can use a spatula for this, but because the meatballs are on a rack they've kid of started molding into the crevices and you'll a.) lose a small bit of meat to the rack if you use a spatula and b.) then have to clean said meat out of the rack, which is kind of a pain.
So, once your meatballs have cooled enough to handle put them into your pot of sauce, stir gently and let them simmer while you prepare your pasta. I like a linguine, but whatever you have is good. I don't have pictures at this point because I believe in you and know you can make pasta, and also because I forgot. Anway, you now have a nice pot of meatballs simmering in sauce (also not pictured) and a pot of pasta cooking merrily away. Once the pasta is done place a serving (or, if you have a pasta problem like me, two) in a bowl, top with a little sauce, a couple meatballs, and a whole lot of cheese. It is not possible to over cheese at this point. If you have it (and you should, because it's in the recipe) put a little parsley on top because it looks fancy and tastes kind of nice.
And there you have it! A nice, hearty bowl of spaghetti and meatballs to enjoy with your family, a hunk of bread and a couple glasses of wine. Ideally you will have plenty leftovers. I like to make meatballs subs the next day or meatball pizza, or just make more pasta and repeat. I'll talk about meatball subs in an upcoming episode, too. Thanks for stopping by and putting up with all those pictures of raw meat, I appreciate it!
Hello and welcome to another recurring feature here at Hayes Amaze: Stretch the Budget, a savings tip series that will have you saving money and eating great for pennies on the dollar. (Disclaimer: It probably won't be that amazing. But it'll be worth it.) For our first trick we are going to take a large cut of pork loin and show you how to make it into several chops, a roast or two, and some meat for mincing or grinding.
I am an unrepentant carnivore. I am more than happy to make, eat and cook vegetarian entrees. They can be delightful, filling and satisfying. They can even be wonderfully unhealthy. But I would be lying if I didn't say that I prefer a little meat in my dinner. And since meat can be expensive I look for ways to save a little money while getting a better product. And so it is that I introduce you to our guest this evening: Mr. Pork Loin
When I buy pork I try and avoid a pre-brined, injected cut of meat. They inject the pork to make it stay moist when it's cooked, put a little flavor into it and, most importantly, pump up the weight so you spend a little more. I find that the brined meat is a little too salty, throws off my recipes and generally has a strange quality to the meat that I don't appreciate. That said, if all you can find is an injected bit o' meat, don't feel bad about buying it. Just remember to watch any salt you put into the recipe as the meat is already fairly well salted.
So we have here a 4.25 pound hunk of meat at $2.29 a pound. How does that compare to pre-cut, supermarket chops? I'm glad you asked.
Here we have a package of four chops, about a half inch thick for $4.99 a pound. One, maybe two dinner's worth of meat for ten bucks. We have twice the meat for a lower price. Sweeeeet. We also have control over how thick our chops are. These are a pretty decent thickness for supermarket pork chops. Anything less than a half inch thick is going to be overcooked before it's done and you may need a saw to cut it, or at least leather working tools. And plenty of gravy to cover the dryness.
Alright, enough about those supermarket chops. We are through, and we've moved on to something much better and will never look back. So, first step with our pork loin: Remove the wrapper.
Removing the wrapper is best done over the sink. Set up your cutting board and take your pork and a knife to the sink and have a couple paper towels ready on the counter. There's going to be a bit of liquid and it's a little ooky and you don't want it all over the place. Food safety is no joke, friends.
Once the wrapper is off, hang the pork loin over the sink for a second to let any excess liquid drip off. It's not completely pleasant but it'll be worth it. Some people say you should rinse your meat, but that isn't really necessary, and present advice is to avoid doing that as water can splash bacteria all about and turn your kitchen. I don't know about you, but I have enough bacteria around my kitchen already, thank you very much. Take your paper towels (good thing you had them ready, isn't it?) and pat the meat dry. Lay the pork loin on a cutting board. Like the picture.
Now it's time to decide what you want to get out of your pork loin. Do you just want chops? Do you want three or four decent sized roasts? Maybe a mix of the two? Maybe you want to make a pork loin copy of Michelangelo's David. I cannot help you if that's the case. It may be too late for help at that point.
Here's what I decided to do:
We have here six inch thick chops, a lean chunk on the left there that I'll be using to make spicy bulgogi pork (Why yes, I will share that recipe with you! Thanks for your interest!) and a fatty chunk on the right that I will be grinding up to make meatballs. If you are going to make a roast I recommend using that fattier side and cutting a four or five inch section. The fatty bit will help the roast from being too dry. The leaner section is good for stir fry.
Now that you have decided what you want out of your loin (oh dear, that didn't sound right...), commence to cutting. Start by cutting your roast of one end and then work your way down, cutting piece by piece. Like I said, I prefer a thicker pork chop, about one inch. Chops that size won't dry out as quickly and can be pounded into thin cutlets that you can use to make schnitzel or tonkatsu (and I will cover those as well, thank you for asking). A half inch would be the minimum thickness I recommend, and you can go up to two inches for some real cave man sized double chops, if that's how you want to roll.
Take your knife and make long, slow strokes. Use the whole length of the blade. The less sawing back and forth, the smoother the surfaces of your chops and roasts will be. It should take just three or four back and forth motions to get through. If they do come out a little ragged don't worry about it. They will still be delicious. You'll just need a little more practice and maybe some better knives.
(If I had the $$$ these are the knives I'd buy. Good knives are a great investment)
Now that you've parted the pork it's time to put it away. Decide if you're going to use any of the bits in the next day or so and freeze anything you will be saving for later. I like to put them in single layers in large freezer bags so I can take out one or two as needed. The roasts will go into individual bags.
Wash your hands (cross contamination is no joke, people!), get as many bags as you need, open them and grab some tongs. Alternatively you could ask a responsible adult to help you if one is near. They can hold the bags open while you fill them with your dirty pork hands. Today I was alone, so I used tongs. Be careful not to touch the outside of the bags or zipper area with the raw meat.
And there you have it! You'll note that one chunk is not bagged, that's because I used it to make meatballs immediately after I portioned my pork. The tale of the meatballs next time, my blog friends, but until then, enjoy!
Hello blog friends! Tim here, the other half of the Hayes Amaze team. I'll be popping in every now and again to write a post, starting with my first installment of Way Too Easy Recipes, a column for food that is quick, easy and light on the pocketbook but not on flavor. Some of these dishes are so easy they barely require a recipe, but you're going to get one anyway because, gosh darn it, you deserve one.
Now I'm no stranger to making fancy things that take all day, look fantastic and are picture perfect for facebook bragging (and I will be sharing some of those recipes with you as well), but I don't always have the time, energy or desire to do that. And for those times, there are things like French Bread pizza. It's a childhood classic that had completely slipped off my radar, but we threw a Halloween party and needed something quick and cheap to feed a bunch of people and this was it. And it was a hit! It immediately took a place of honor in our easy meal pantheon. And now, without further delay, our recipe:
(This recipe is easily scaled up for a crowd and will be a hit if you need quick party food. Trust me on this one.)
French Bread Loaf (We use one to feed the three of us, but one of us is very small, so adjust accordingly)
Tomato or Spaghetti Sauce
Mozzarella Cheese (A little Parmesan is nice, too, if you have it)
Pizza Toppings (Pepperoni, olives, salami, ham, pineapple, onions, peppers, anchovies, really whatever you can agree on.)
Pictured is a one dollar Walmart loaf. It is not great, but for a dollar it is hard to beat. If you cannot find a one dollar Walmart loaf, bakery bought is fine. Just make sure it's decently wide. You don't want a little tiny baguette for this recipe. It will just make everyone sad.
Place an oven rack in the top third of your oven and preheat to 450 degrees. You want it nice and hot to melt the cheese and crisp up the bread.
Remove the bread from the bag. (You probably knew that already)
Use a knife to cut the loaf into top and bottom halves. You now have the canvasses upon which your pizza dreams shall be painted.
Remove the halves of bread to a sheet pan. We made half the loaf early to eat with our toddler and the other half later. They get a little soggy if you let them sit too long before eating. Not bad, but not as good as fresh. Pour some tomato sauce onto the loaf, about a half cup, more or less depending on your taste, and spread it around with the back of a spoon. I used some strained tomato sauce, but a spaghetti sauce like Newman's is also quite good. Whatever is on sale is best.
Get your cheese. I used grated mozzarella and a grated "Italian blend". If you don't have grated cheese, grating it yourself is fine.
Apply a good layer of cheese to the pizza. If you live with a child this is a good time to have them help. If you do not have a child, it is not necessary to get one for this step.
Prepare your toppings. Here we have some Safeway salami and some Grocery Outlet pepperoni. Your toppings may look different. Do not be alarmed if this is the case.
Begin applying your toppings. I like to place them in a neat, symmetrical fashion but this is unnecessary and speaks more to my persnicketyness than to the recipe. Here we have a layer of pepperoni.
And here we have an interlocking layer of salami. Again, it is not necessary to be so fussy when laying out your toppings. That's my problem, not yours.
Now that your toppings are laid, I like to dust the top with a layer of cheese. Parmesan is good here, or more mozzarella or some cheddar. I tell myself that this layer helps keep the toppings secured to the pizza, but it really just looks nice and it crisps up right good. Mmmmm, crispy cheese.
Place your pizza in the top third of your preheated oven and close the door. You will note some excess cheese on the pan, I blame my child helper for this. Set your timer for seven minutes. The pizza should take about ten, but I always like to check. Burned pizza makes for a sad family.
Your pizza is done with the cheese is melty and starting to brown, and the crust on the ends has turned a dark, dark brown and crisped about the edges. Don't be afraid to let it get pretty dark, but you do need to watch it carefully at this point. Remove the pizza when it is done to your liking and let sit on some trivets for a couple minutes.
When your pizza has cooled to the point that there is no longer a danger of burning yourself, remove it to a cutting board and cut into slices with a knife. A pizza wheel really won't do for this, the bread is just too thick. And now it is time to enjoy! Dust it with parmesan, maybe sone red pepper, grab yourself a beer, root or otherwise and eat! This is an informal dish, best enjoyed in the company of loved ones and perhaps with a family movie playing in the background.
There you have it, folks! The very first installment of "Way Too Easy Recipes" is in the books! Let us know what you think, and, as always, stay tuned for more great content from the Hayes Amaze team!
For my first post on our brand new website (woot woot!) I thought I'd share some pictures of the little fall decor projects that have been happening here at the Hayes house.
Atop our console table we have: Mr. Buddha who was a gift from our friend Matt for our wedding (rumor has it he purchased it from our Target wedding registry....I love it!), a lovely mason jar vase also from our wedding and four 'lil pumpkins painted by our darling toddler, 'lil P.
Since 'lil P is two years old, rather than handing her a carving knife, we decided to have her paint her pumpkins instead. We let her pick them out herself at Detering Orchards, which is pretty much the most awesomest place on Earth come October. (we also helped her carve a jack-o-lantern but this is how we kept her occupied during the carving party). The best thing about these small little gourd pumpkin thingees is they last way longer than jack-o-lanterns....we'll probably still be able to keep them around to decorate on Thanksgiving.
After the painting, we let her add glitter to the pumpkins. The one below is my all time favorite. We call him David Bowie.
Let's talk about this mason jar (and let's not talk about that huge scratch on my wall which for some reason I didn't notice until posting this picture...sigh). We spray painted a bunch of mason jars to use as vases for our wedding. I will post in more detail about how to do that as I continue with the blog posts about our wedding reception. It's filled with dried "decorative oregano" which we accidentally planted in our garden instead of actual flavorful cooking oregano. A pretty woopsie indeed.
Up next: Another fall decor project for toddlers: paint a tree with toilet paper rolls (this idea was all over pinterest and I am in no way taking credit for it :-) )
I think it's time to add some Turkey crafts to the collection! Until then, my friends!
Our second “Craft of the Month” comes early (woohoo!) because it happens to also be the first major task on the master “to do” list. “What list are you talking about, Jamie?” Well, dear reader, if you truly loved me you would know I’m talking about the list from my first post: Wedding Reception Planning: Jamie and her Magical Duct Tape Crazy Board
Oh man. I love lists. I actually wrote a song about lists and how much I love them. I wrote it just for you. Sing the following to the tune of “My Favorite Things”:
Items on lists in particular orders/ lists of more lists and more lists and more listies/ lists upon lists upon lists upon lists/ these are a few of my favorite things
lists make me happy and help me remember/ all of the thingees to do in December/ lists upon list upon lists upon lists/ these are a few of my favorite things
When the dog bites/ make a list of/ what you have to do/ so that you don’t get the rabies-Mc-Rabies/ and then you won’t feeeeeeel so baaaad
Did I mention I was a poetry major? I mean, it seems obvious but I’ll mention it anyways.
Before you do anything else, you should get yo self a party binder. This is the part where I need to explain to you, dear reader, that I was unaware during the creation of our reception that I would have the desire to blog about it in the future. So there are lots of things that I didn’t get a picture of. Our party binder was unfortunately one of those things. It was absolutely fabulous. My former room mate Stacie made it for me and it had dividers for each topic: guest list, venue, crafts and decorations, food and drink, and “misc.” Each divider had a cutsie picture of Tim and I and so did the cover. When we moved to our house we left the binder on the floor and our two year old got a hold of it and tore it to pieces. sigh. My point is that an organized party binder is the shiz. I just happened to read today that trapper keepers are making a comeback!! Check outhttp://www.trapperkeeper.com ! If I were you I would get one and make dividers for each thing like I mentioned above and put a folder in each section. Keep loose paper handy in the side pocket for your LISTS!!!! Time to sing the song again.
The first major task on the master list is to make the “Save the Date” cards. You may ask why, being a non-traditional wedding reception, did we do the whole save the date thing. My answer is that we wanted to convey to our friends and family from out of town that this was a big deal…that this was sort of equivalent to our wedding so please, ahem, save the date, buy your airplane tickets, send us gifts (kidding hehe)!
There are a few things that need to happen before you make your save the date cards: make a master list of all your desired guests so you have an idea of how many of these save the date cards to make. Also, make a website for the party so that you can include the web address on the cards.
Tim and I used http://www.ewedding.com to make our website. It was easy peasy.
You may not have all of the information for the site yet but you can keep adding info as you get it. The goal for right now is just to have some photos up and a web address so people can check back for info about your party as they need it. Eventually on the website you should try and have: directions, your gift registry, information about the hotel block of rooms and transportation, general party information, etc.
Now for the funsies! Making the actual cards. Did I save one of our cards? Did I take a picture of it? I sure didn’t! But have no fear because we actually hired someone on Etsy to design us a personalized printable save the date card. She saved it as an image file, emailed us the file and then we printed them out ourselves on our home printer. and here it is:
The artist shop on Etsy who did this for us was called "Blue Moon Designs". It appears taht she is taking a break from Etsy for the time being but I found lots of similar designs on Etsy. Just search for "printable mason jar save the date".
We splurged on some fanciful cream colored linen card stock from http://www.paperandmore.com and we also purchased envelopes to fit our cards. You want to make sure you have at least an eighth of an inch of space between the card and the envelope so that you can actually slide the card in. A quarter inch of space on each side is ideal.
We were able to fit four of the mason jar images per page of paper.
Our original plan was to just have a square invitation but then we got the brilliant yet ever-so-time-consuming idea to cut out each mason jar so that our save the date card was the shape of the mason jar (thanks for your help, mom!) and boy oh boy were they not the cutest things you ever did see!
Until next time, friends!
The best advice I received about party planning was that it’s important to break up monotony/ un-fun list making/ making phone calls/ obtaining addresses mumbo jumbo with fun stuff that you look forward to doing. The person who gave me that advice happens to be a therapist so she for sure knew what she was talking about. For my husband and I that fun stuff was the crafts and shopping. Whenever we were starting to feel stressed, we’d make a point of changing our focus for a few days over to crafting or buying supplies online or at stores.
My favorite craft from our wedding reception was also the most time consuming. We made every single one of our one-hundred-thirty-some guests a personalized drinking glass that they could fill up themselves at the bar with whatever they liked.
photo credit: Caitlin Lyons or Jackie Mancilla or Erica Schroyer or Liz Shaffer-Wishner…I can’t remember. Or it may have been another guest…if I didn’t credit you, my bad.
Ain’t they cute?! Let’s talk about mason jars: One could call them the scruffy beard with a fancy hairdo of weddings. Meaning, they may be very much a trend that we will associate with the mid-2010’s and also very much a hipster thing. I have to say that I’m ok with that. They are cute as shit and also cheap as shit! And most importantly instead of wasting a bunch of paper cups you have a wedding favor that people can keep. That said, we probably went a little overboard with our mason jar theme as I’m sure you’ll see as I continue to post about our event. Oh well. I’m sure I will still look back at everything fondly and joke about how it was all oh so 2014. :-)
So how’d we do it? First we bought a ton of mason jars as cheaply as possible. Instead of worrying about everything matching we ended up getting a mixture of plain glass, blue glass, wide mouth, and regular mouth glasses. That way we could just grab whatever the store had. I think we got about half of our jars at Fred Meyer and half off of Amazon. We got pint jars for the grown-ups and little 8 oz jars for the kids.
In addition to the jars we used: Chalkboard spray paint, a Chalk pen and blue painter’s tape. And beer. The beer is for drinking. Keep it out of the range of the spray paint.
I should start by saying the credit for making these jars goes to my husband Tim. All projects involving spray paint were done by him…possibly because spray painting involved being outside and drinking beers. Also because he’s awesome and helpful and was very hands on with the party planning which I appreciated so so much.
So, the first problem we ran into was that half the mason jars we bought had designs on every side of the glass. In other words, there was no flat surface to spray paint on. On those glasses we ended up doing smaller rectangles of chalkboard paint instead of bigger squares. Just something to keep in mind when you buy mason jars for a project like this. It may be best to buy ones that have at least one smooth side.
Tim had read that when spray painting squares on mason jars, one must tape plastic bags all around a square sized space that you leave uncovered. So basically, the only part of the jar not covered in plastic bag is the square shape you will be painting. Then just spray the whole thing and the square is the only part that will get paint on it, leaving the rest of the jar pristine.
Here’s what happened when he tried it that way:
If at first you don’t succeed and fail so badly that you almost pee yourself laughing, have a beer or two then try, try again.
So yeah. The bag sort of made a pattern when we pulled it off and it just really didn’t keep a nice seal from the paint.
By the third time Tim had down a fail-proof-ish system that he would like to share with you:
-Wash all of your jars and make sure they are completely dry….so maybe do this the day before you start your project. It’s such a huge pain in the ass. I’m sorry. But speaking of ass, if you take the lid off the jars you’ll realize they really do smell horrible before being washed.
-Make a square with painters tape and go around the tape with your nail making sure the tape is really on there well and no paint can get under it. Maybe even make a second row of painters tape so your squared off section is surrounded by like an inch or two of painters tape.
-Then just be careful when you’re spraying to stay within the square. Be gentle. Go over it a few times with the spray paint. If you mess up wipe it off quickly. If you have a little black streak somewhere else on the jar, maybe you’ll notice later and you’ll scrape it off. Maybe you won’t notice and just your wedding guest will notice and then they’ll never talk to you again.
-Let the paint dry fully and completely before you peel the tape off.
-store the glasses until you have your final guest list and then write everyone’s name and table number on their glass with a chalk marker. We used our glasses as, I think the formal term is “escort cards”, which tell people where to sit. They were at the front table of the party just as you walked in.
So there ya have it. :-)
Some of the most brilliant people– both real and fictional, have what my husband has named the ”crazy board.” You know, those boards that are usually in a shed with notes and photos and newspaper clippings and if you’re really crazy, various letters circled and lines made with yarn…
Anyways…The first step of my party planning process was to create a crazy board of my own. Mine consisted of a series of lists duct taped to my front door along with a calendar. (in our case the dollar store kitten calendar). First, I basically made a master list/timeline. This timeline served as a list of all of the smaller, more detailed lists I ”needed” to make. I know…I just…I know. But I really enjoyed doing this. That’s the scary part. My point here is that I hope my crazy board process is helpful to you in your party planning. I will type said list up for you below. It should serve almost as a guide for all of the topics I hope to discuss in more detail in future posts. So if you’re wondering, for example, what specific decorations I used, where I got my dress, invites and that sort of thing, I promise to talk about all of that.
Before I type up the list I want to make a note about the calendar: While a timeline/master list was a nice way to keep track of when general things needed to be done, the calendar was for specific appointments. For example: meeting with the DJ to discuss party philosophies, nose hair trimming appointment with self in bathroom mirror from 2pm to 2:07, etc. etc.
I’d like to give a shout out to pinterest, wedding magazines, and wedding blogs in general. I read a lot of other people’s timelines before coming up with my own.
ok one more important note: This list is specifically for non-traditional wedding receptions. I didn’t include the usual timelines for booking florists, dress shopping, caterers, photographers and the like because I didn’t use any of those services in a traditional manner. For example, by caterer I mean Qdoba (holla!) and by dress shopping I mean order something online and account for shipping time. You get the idea.
Now I present to you, the timeline:
16 months-12 months before Wedding Reception:
-Brainstorm/ get the ball rolling: This is a 3 day process involving wine, pinterest and awkward conversations about money.
-make a party binder
-pick a venue. Book it!
-make preliminary guest list so you have an idea of the number of guests
-make a ”wedding” website
-make save the date cards
8-10 months before
-make a detailed DAY OF THE RECEPTION plan
-make a chart/ blueprint of the reception venue/ where things will be such as the bar, the food, the dj, your secret stash of scotch, etc. Make sure to include lots of red circles around letters and strings and pictures of Jodie Foster…just kidding about that last part.
-finish compiling guest list and addresses
-register for gifts (woot! woot!) (put your registry info on the wedding website)
-send save the date cards
-make detailed decorations list and decorations shopping list
-shop for decorations!
5-7 months before
-hire a day of coordinator. Give them all the needed details and have a meeting if desired.
-arrange child care
-make or order invitations
-reserve a block of hotel rooms (put the info on your wedding website) (make sure you write the ”cancel by” date in your calendar)
-arrange transportation (put info on wedding website)
3 months before
-hire caterer. Make a menu plan, discuss payment details.
-Make linen arrangements
-write in detail your overall food plan and shopping list
-Make a list of craft and decor projects. Recruit help!
-craft! craft! and craft some more!
-Make a list of clothes and makeup needed. Buy it.
2 months before
-meet with DJ. Discuss music preferences and flow of the wedding/ announcements they’ll need to make.
-ask people to make speeches
1 month before
-check in with wedding coordinator
-check in with caterer
-check in with DJ
-check in with childcare
-make home brew/ order kegs
-buy wine or make it
-recruit set-up and take-down team
-make haircut appointment
-make makeup appointment
2 weeks before
-order flowers from grocery store
-check in with the other speech makers
-get sexy hair
-make wax and nail appointments
-double check final decorations list to make sure you have everything
-deal with any parking arrangements
-call guests who didn’t RSVP
-give caterer final headcount
-make a seating chart
1 week before
-confirm arrival times, any last details with: wedding coordinator, DJ, venue, childcare provider, caterer, linens, flowers
-shop for last minute food/ decor
-check in with set-up and take-down teams
-make packing list of things to bring to the venue
-start putting all the wedding stuff together in big plastic totes
-confirm hotel block
-get $ for vendors, put in envelopes
1 day before
-shop for perishable food
-check packing list. Make sure everything is ready to go
-give payment envelopes to a trusted friend or relative
day of (see DETAILED DAY OF list taped to your crazy board) :-)