Aug 312014
 

I go back to work this week.  Which is to say, I go back to working at school 5 days a week, as opposed to the other work I’ve been doing since the end of June.  It’ll be an interesting year;  there are lots of changes on the docket.  I’m looking forward to getting back into the classroom and trying out some of the new ideas I have.  I’m looking forward to collaborating with other educators.  I’m really, really, really looking forward to having a regular schedule and routine.  But getting back into that routine is going to be a bit rough, I know.  Why do mornings have to be so early?

We sent summer out with a bang this year.  My parents were here for the weekend; Dad and Brian hung new wire shelving in my pantry (full details coming in Tuesday’s post!) and we all went to Tanglewood last night to see Josh Groban preform with the Boston Pops.  I knew the show would be good, but it exceeded expectations.  Josh’s personality is much funnier than I expected and hearing him sing live with orchestral accompaniment was awesome.  The perfect weather and delicious picnic we enjoyed on the lawn prior to the show weren’t bad either.

tanglewood 8.30.14

josh groban 8.30.14

Trying to plan a menu for the school year is much different than during the summer.  During the summer I have much more flexibility with my time and much more energy.  I also know that if I don’t have a plan, I can come up with something at the last minute.  But I find that during the school year it is crucial for me to have a plan.  The school year is crazy enough without having to worry about what’s for dinner.

This week’s pick up:

CSA pick up 8.29.14

tomatoes, leeks, fennel, musk melon, lettuce, peppers, eggplant, carrots, cabbage

This week’s plan:

I’m returning to a daily menu this week because my menus are going to start featuring more weeknight friendly meals that I suspect many of you will benefit from as well.  Those meals do not always feature our produce so I haven’t been listing them of late, but this ought to help provide a more complete picture.  As always, the days of the week are just a guideline, I often re-order meals throughout the week.

This week features 2 Mark Bittman recipes that I’ve never made before, but they fit the ingredients I’m looking to make use of (though I’ll need to add shiitakes and sun-dried tomatoes to my pantry).  I don’t know if there will be leftovers or not, which could mess up my menu, or make excellent lunches for school.  There are a lot of remaining cold cuts from our Tanglewood picnic, so the plan is to make sandwiches for lunches this week.  We’ll probably have carrot sticks and nuts alongside those sandwiches.  Maybe yogurt, too.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
zucchini pancakes +
tabbouli
LABOR DAY
Falafel Burgers from Savvy Eats
corn on the cob
coleslaw
Braised Tofu with Eggplant and Shiitakes from Mark Bittman + shredded, sautéed cabbage kielbasa pizza + salad Leek, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Goat Cheese Frittata from Mark Bittman + salad leftovers?
corn on the cob

 

For those who enjoy menus by ingredient:

tomatoes, carrots – salads, snacks,

leeks – 2 will be used in the frittata,  perhaps I’ll make soup with the remaining one

fennel – was taken home by my parents, who accompanied us to the farm, if I find out what they did with it, I’ll let you know!

musk melon – snacks

lettuce, peppers – salads

eggplant – Braised Tofu with Eggplant and Shiitakes

cabbage – coleslaw, which I’ve never made, and shredded and sautéed

Aug 282014
 

Remember that time that I made “invest” my word for 2014?  And then I wrote a nice summary of how that was going at the end of February and again in April?  And then my goal for the year was never heard from again?  Just like a New Year’s Resolution to not make it past the first quarter.

Except I actually didn’t entirely forget about it.  But when I realized I’d skipped writing an investing post for May and June, I decided just to wait until the end of the summer to provide an update.  So here we are.

Self

It’s a little amusing to me that “self” is the first topic I added to this post template.  I was looking forward to sharing about the progress in the other areas, but I don’t feel particularly strongly about this one.  On one hand, my blog, my home, my job and my body are all parts of myself and I did do a lot of work there.  On the other hand, much of this summer has felt like it’s been about external things.

But it’s not all bad.  I read some books and took trips to Chicago, the Jersey Shore and Maine.  I participated in a small group bible study at my church which I’m looking forward to restarting this fall.  But overall, self-care has not been a focus.

Blog

I have spent a lot of time on my blog this summer.  In my last investing update I mentioned that I’d done a Google Helpout with Katy Widrick and the effects of that are still on-going.  Katy suggested that I work toward more clearly finding my niche by focusing my blog on local topics.  At first I was really hesitant, but the more I thought about it, the more interested I was.  I love living in the Berkshires and there are a lot of awesome food related events that are worth sharing about.  The shift of the Relishments brand from food and flexitarianism in general to food and flexitarianism in the Berkshires isn’t a huge one, but it did result in a new header image, new social media images and bios and some new content.  You may have noticed an increase in local posts over the past couple months; my current plan is to write about specific Berkshire things (events, stores, restaurants, etc.) twice a month. 

I’ve continued to work towards finding an advertising strategy that works for me.  Most of my ads are still affiliate ads and not providing revenue yet, so I’ve supplemented with some other income through Lijit and Google Adsense.  One of my goals is to court local advertisers, but I’m not sure when I’ll be working on that.  I’ve also been working on using my biggest referrers, Pinterest and StumbleUpon, to my advantage. 

Another super useful result of the Helpout I did with Katy was the Facebook group I joined.  The amount of help the group members provide each other is amazing.  You can thank their input for the look of my new media kit, the social media sharing icons that now appear on the left side of my blog and the fact that I’ve stuck to my editorial calendar so well lately.

As always, I would love any blog feedback you may have!

Home

In my April/May post, I bemoaned the fact that we hadn’t made any house progress in a long time.  That was not the case this summer.  We took advantage of a great sale to get 2 Threshold 6-cube organizers from Target (not an affiliate link) for our upstairs hall to make up for our lack of a linen closet and I love the way they look.  We also finally put curtains in our living room and office, thanks to Zulily (affiliate link).  We also hung a bunch of artwork and photos that had been leaning up against the wall since we moved in.  It’s almost like this house in inhabited by adults! Almost. 

This weekend, Brian and my dad are planning to install wire shelving in our pantry.  I’ve been dreaming of this shelving (which will replace the white particleboard bookshelves we’re currently using) since we moved in.  I hope it all goes well!

Relationships

Summer relationships are weird.  I’ve hardly talked to anyone from school and many of my local friends are so busy with kids and vacations and work that it’s hard to make plans.  My daily emails with my sister fell off because of my random schedule.

That said, some of my other relationships have been renewed this summer.  I had the change to attend the wedding of one of my college best friends.  The Jersey Shore family reunion with Brian’s side was the first time I was able to really talk to some of his relatives.  We’ll have seen my parents on two occasions.  Brian’s college roommate came to visit for a weekend.  We hung out with my college roommate and her family for a day.  And I suddenly and randomly revived relationships with some formerly very close friends, thanks to the internet.

Work

In terms of school, I invested decently this summer.  I’m rolling out a new teacher website this fall which has seen some serious work.  I’m also teaching a brand new and very different course that I’m excited about.  Work on that will be on-going, guaranteed.  I also invested a chunk of change at yard sales and used book sales on items for a classroom library.  I’m really excited about it; probably more excited than my students ever will be.  I also passed the teacher certification test I took in June, so now I can really call myself an overachiever.

This summer I worked a new summer job at a non-profit.  It ended up being a lot more work than I expected, but I am loving it.  Some aspects of the job are going to continue throughout the school year, which is also awesome.  My investments there are pretty concrete and it’s fun to see their effects.  I also think that stepping back from teaching for a bit will give me more energy for the fall.

Fitness

You would think that someone with a really flexible summer work schedule could manage to get into a fitness routine, but I didn’t.  I did make it to yoga once or twice.  I ran two 5k races – The Humane Race and the Dash for Dana – and felt good about my times.  I did some running in preparation for those races and I’ve done some  running since.  I’ve also done a lot of walking.  Not bad, but considering what I could’ve been doing, not impressive either.

Three in One (CSA Menu Plan #8)

 Posted by at 8:42 am
Aug 252014
 
Three in One (CSA Menu Plan #8)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a menu plan; life just hasn’t been conducive to that sort of thing.  In fact, it hasn’t even been conducive to picking up our farm share; Brian’s picked up 2 of the last three pick ups because I was unavailable.  August, why were you so busy? Nevertheless, we [...]

Whole Roasted Squash

 Posted by at 8:13 pm
Aug 212014
 
Whole Roasted Squash

It’s times like these that I’m glad I don’t have a vegetable garden.  My Facebook feed has seen numerous posts lately from friends wondering what to do with all the zucchini and summer squash springing up in their gardens.  I’m sure the rain we got today isn’t helping matters any either.  Recently I discovered that [...]

HarneyFest: Tea, a Tour and More

 Posted by at 8:01 pm
Aug 192014
 
HarneyFest: Tea, a Tour and More

On Saturday, Brian and I headed to an event I’d had on my calendar for months: HarneyFest at the Harney and Sons Tea facilities in Millerton, NY.  I’d seen it announced and, given my love for Harney and Sons Tea (which I wrote about here and here and here), I knew I had to be [...]

Highlights: Holding on to Summer

 Posted by at 7:45 pm
Aug 172014
 
Highlights: Holding on to Summer

I hate to ruin your day, but it’s best if you know the truth:  there are only 14 days left in August.  Then it will be September.  At church this morning, I feel like every conversation I had was along the lines of “where did the summer go?!”.  So, as I look at my summer [...]