This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. Anybody remember all this, from the good old days, back before somebody taught Ezra how to put a hand on a popped-out hip, punctuate every sentence with a pointed "OKAY?" and a facial expression dripping with bershon? The little chef costumes had a pretty good run, but alas, he is officially far too gigantic for them now. Ike will wear it from time to time, unless Ezra hides in a fit of possessive pique GOD HE'S ONLY EIGHT SWEET MERCIFUL ADOLESCENCE. He recently got a styling new upgrade, though. (It was very important that I photograph him holding this pear, for some reason. He had a lot feelings about this pear.) Even more exciting was a proper grown-up cookbook, which he decided had to be for him, because Blue Apron must know what a good cook he is. I mean, they sent him an official chef-in-training apron and everything. And their Winter Cookbook, full of many of our favorite recipes and a whole bunch of new ones (including DESSERTS, which YAYYAYYAY). (The mushroom steam buns with purple potato salad are at the top of EVERYBODY's dinner wish list now. And I already have... Read more →

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. With lots of travel planned and our garden overflowing, we decided our standard Blue Apron delivery of three meals a week might get a little overwhelming, so we switched to the four-person, two-meals-a-week Family Plan a few times this summer. One of the more charming surprises of this particular plan (besides all the delicious foooooooood), was the inclusion of a weekly "Kids' Cooking Camp." Every week, our box included cooking activities, games and challenges for the boys to try. It was a really great idea. One week covered easy food prep techniques (peeling garlic, washing produce, rolling pizza dough), another week challenged us to keep the dinner table a family-focused, screen-free zone (that was harder on the grown-ups than the kids), yet another taught kids what grows in what season and why it matters; all summer kids were encouraged to submit recipes and photos and stay hands-on in the kitchen. The best week, according to my kids, was this one: Not only were the recipes a hit (Moroccan lamb & beef pitas and a crispy cod with corn on the cob), but tucked inside our box of ingredients was a packet of pea... Read more →

This post is sponsored by Wisdom Panel® Canine DNA Tests. Beau's original adoption listing said he was a mix of Miniature Schnauzer and Yorkshire Terrier. We have no idea if his owners gave that description when they surrendered him to the shelter, or if it was just a guess made by a vet or the rescue group or what. We do know that the "Schnauzer" part seemed to mostly be based on his pre-haircut appearance, because once his fur was groomed it was clear his actual snout wasn't all that Schnauzer-like after all. His foster mom agreed, and added her personal guess of terrier breeds mixed with wire-haired Dachshund, based on his legs and feet. Our vet said he was all terrier: Yorkie, Jack Russell, Cairn, and probably a good smattering of others. When I would play around with online tools and surveys based on his physical appearance, I would get wildly weird results, like Pomeranian and Shih Tzu. The guessing game can be fun at first, but also hugely frustrating. What ARE you, dog? I've been sent photos of several Beau doppelgangers from all over the country -- crazy identical pups, right down to eyebrow coloring and the flippy... Read more →

This post is sponsored by Hologic, Inc., the makers of the Genius 3D MAMMOGRAPHY exam. This Sunday is National Cancer Survivors Day, and while cancer has managed to take quite a lot from our family over the years, I’m super grateful for the One That Got Away. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer back when I was pregnant with Noah. A lump, a mammogram, a biopsy, a mastectomy. A terribly all-too-common story—one in every eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime—albeit with the silver lining of early detection. When breast cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent. Of course, when you’re in the throes of a suspected cancer diagnosis, it’s always a terrifying timeline. How long has it been there before anyone noticed? How fast is it growing while we wait for results? How early is early enough? This year marks her 11th year as a breast cancer survivor. She was at the hospital the day Noah was born, and has been cancer-free ever since. She’ll be spending this Sunday here at our house, celebrating Ike’s birthday. As my own 40th birthday looms ever closer, that “one in eight” statistic looms larger.... Read more →

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. I just had to do math on my fingers to figure out how long we've been using the Blue Apron service. It was either that or count the recipe cards, which, I mean: Hahahaha. It's been about 19 months, a whole bunch of posts and even more awesome meals. Less shopping and food waste, fun recipes to choose from, excellent and unusual ingredients, impeccable customer service. And my hippie side appreciates how hard the company works to constantly improve/streamline/reduce the packaging and sources food from sustainable fisheries and humane, responsible farms. Definitely makes how CONVENIENT the service is feel like even less of a trade-off. (And yes, I am typing this praise of my own genuine authentic free will and not because of some required list of talking points. SO THERE.) And now, for something maybe slightly different, I present 20 completely random cooking and life lessons that Blue Apron has taught me: 1) My children will eat ANYTHING if it's encased in a calzone. 2) Make kiddo-sized calzones for double the dinner yield, reheat the leftovers in the oven during breakfast, wrap in foil, and toss in their lunchboxes. Your children will... Read more →

This post is sponsored by CANIDAE®. When we adopted Beau, his foster mom gave us a small container of his current food, just enough for us to transition him over to the food of our choice. She said this, then paused, and asked if we'd mind telling her what food we planned to use. When I told her I was thinking about trying CANIDAE®, she looked visibly relieved. "OH GOOD," she said, before going on to describe some other dog food options using some rather colorful adjectives. She also gave us a slow feeder bowl, as Beau was prone to scarfing food down so quickly he'd barf it all back up. He was also highly protective of his food, so we'd need to remind the kids not to interfere while he ate. All pretty standard rescue behavior; after all, he'd been one of waaaay too many dogs at his original home, and was very underweight when he was surrendered to the shelter. He shared his foster home with four other dogs, all of which had their own sad histories of neglect and not enough food. And sure enough, we brought him home and gave him some food, and even with... Read more →

This post is sponsored by The Bouqs Company. So the lovely folks at The Bouqs Company asked if I would like to write another post for them, and like last time, included codes for two of their glorious sustainably and volcano-grown bouquets as part of the deal. Unlike last time, however, I did not order the flowers for myself. Okay, that sentence makes it sound used my good fortune to spoil my mom or my sisters or surprise one of my friends. Which would have really nice of me! They probably would have really appreciated that! Had I done that. Which I did not. No, this time I simply forwarded the codes to my husband, like OH HEY LOOKIT COUGH HINT HINT WHEEZE. Happy early Mother's Day. Or happy random Tuesday. Your call, honey. Now Jason is a wonderful husband who loves to send gifts and little surprises, and who definitely spoils me and the boys (and now Beau, who already owns more toys and treats than most newborn babies). And oftentimes those impulses make it hard for him to follow basic instructions, so saying "go to Target for paper towels and a roll of wrapping paper and THAT'S IT'... Read more →

This post is sponsored by The Crock-Pot® Brand. I received my very first Crock-Pot® slow cooker at my bridal shower. We didn't register for anything and really didn't want a ton of stuff, but a slow cooker was one of the few items I requested my mother and future MIL suggest if anyone asked for a specific idea. (Being completely broke college students with loans and rent and two big do-it-ourselves moves scheduled within our first six months of married life, we admittedly hoped the lack of registry would signal that HEY CASH WOULD BE GREAT to our friends and family.) (Most people got the hint. Everybody else bought us the exact same set of casserole dishes.) Today, we own three different slow cookers: small, medium, and large. Clearly, we have truly arrived. When I was little, my mom would make these beef-and-vegetable stews in her slow cooker that even I, a horribly awful no-good picky eater, would devour. I think because the way the house would slowly start to smell all savory and delicious throughout the afternoon, and my stomach and taste buds would involuntarily start to crave whatever I was smelling. When I was working outside the home,... Read more →

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron Wine. This is the sponsored post I was born to write. Wine. Wine wine wine-y wine. Oh look, more wine. In summary, wine. The end. Okay not really. But oh, what a happy delivery this was. Six 500ml bottles (about 2/3 the size of a regular bottle), three whites, three reds, each one selected to pair with our upcoming meals from Blue Apron Proper. Delivered right to our door like some kind of boozy Christmas miracle. Along with some dinner-time reading for wine nerds. (We are totally the nerds who read every word about the wine and vineyard, attempted to identify each of the listed flavors and notes, and saved the cards of our favorites so we can track them down -- or wines like them -- for much re-purchasing.) We're actually not big white wine drinkers, and I admit I was worried we'd get a box full of big oak-y syrup-y Chardonnays that we hate, but instead we received three pretty unique whites we'd never tried before, and ended up loving every single one. It helped that the suggested meal pairings were. Spot. On. We tend to just grab whatever bottle we... Read more →

This post is sponsored by YNAB. A little over a year ago (and thus, easily a decade too late), I finally got off my butt and went through the incorporation process. AMALAH LLC officially exists, and all my monies -- this here blog, plus my many assorted ongoing and on/off writing/copywriting contract gig -- now flow through an LLC, right into my very own Grown-Up Business Checking Account. And then the monies flow back out, sadly, usually in the form of estimated tax payments (boo), contributing my share to our household budget, and general other business expenses (drinks on meeee). (It's called NETWORKING. And it's IMPORTANT.) My husband is good at creating budgets. The maths and the categories and the pie charts bleeding red all over the place because we spent HOW MUCH on movie tickets last month? (It's called STAR WARS. And it was VITALLY ESSENTIAL.) I'm actually very good at sticking to budgets, as money and the Not Having Enough Of It is and has always been a big anxiety trigger for me. If buying a new pair of shoes means some other category will go in the red this month, I will kick the shoes off, run... Read more →