8 Hours of Cooking in 2 Minutes or Less

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 →

World Wine Domination

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 →

Yes, You DO Need a Budget

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 →

Yes, There Is Even An App For THAT

This post is sponsored by Natural Cycles There was a time in my 20s – like there was/is/will be a time in your 20s – when I briefly enjoyed being “ahead of the curve”, technology-wise. After leaving for college with a new budget laptop that broke constantly and only a vague understanding of the internet (TUBES), I tackled my steep learning curve and learned to embrace new gadgets and tech and before I knew it, I was suddenly considered tech-savvy by friends, coworkers, and family. Not that the benchmark was set all that incredibly high, back then. I knew how to troubleshoot my parents’ printer and modem, I knew how to use a bunch of software programs and HTML, and I could patiently explain the concept of digital cameras and why no, you don’t just “pop the roll of film” somewhere into a computer like a disk or CD-ROM to put photos on the internet. (Legit conversation I once had once.) I MEAN, I HAD A BLOG. And a sweet Motorola RAZR flip phone. I was hip and with it and totally saving up for an iPod. I’m saying all this now because now I'm in my 30s and regularly... Read more →

To Amy From Dad

This post is sponsored by Legacybox. After my dad died and my mom downsized to an apartment, I inherited multiple bags and boxes of family albums, loose photos, random clippings and mementos. I believe the idea was that as I am laughingly (lolingly) considered to be one of the more "tech savvy" types in the family, I was best suited for the task of scanning and digitizing the sprawling heaps of ephemera. That...never happened. You're shocked, I know. I went through everything and did my best to sort it into categories, but ultimately it all returned to the various bags and boxes and ended up on a shelf in the basement. A terrible place for such delicate, irreplaceable items, a fact I knew perfectly well (humidity! floods! fire! snakes!) and felt plenty guilty about, but ugh. Where to start? Our scanner is soooooo sloooowwwww and really doesn't do a great job with the older, poorly color-corrected photos, plus there were all kinds of old VHS/video tapes from various camcorders that I didn't know what to do with. Plus this: In August of 1997, my dad underwent surgery to remove his larynx due to cancer. The surgeon planned to create a... Read more →

The Month of Too Much Pizza

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. We skipped three straight weeks of Blue Apron during the kitchen remodel. We didn't want to, especially since each of those weeks would've included at least one of our all-time favorite meals from last year, plus something new that we were dyyyyyyying to try. (Queso and pepper arepas, anyone?) But, you know. NO KITCHEN. We took a couple weak stabs at using the grill, but even that only worked if the meal required little to no prep work, which we were doing on the dining room table, surrounded by clutter and construction dust. Dirty dishes piled up in the bathroom, I rinsed cutting boards off in the bathtub upstairs, and all the drains were getting clogged by even the most minuscule bits of food. We started eating out or getting delivery, or buying whatever packaged/pre-prepared food options we could find most nights instead. The results: Immediate and somewhat drastic weight gain for both me and Jason (I jumped close to seven pounds over my goal/ideal weight). AND OH MY LANDS MY CHILDREN LIVED ON NOTHING BUT PIZZA. To the point where if we dared go to a restaurant that didn't have pizza, they'd... Read more →

For the Next Time You Feel Like Dipping Potato Chips In Chocolate Ice Cream

This post is sponsored by LOLA. GO AWAY BOYS. THIS POST IS ABOUT LADY BUSINESS. So here's a thing that happens to me. Tell me if this happens to you. I realize I am running dangerously low on a Certain Essential Item. I make a mental note to purchase Certain Essential Item the next time I'm at the store. Fast forward to the next time I am at the store: There's a thing that I need. What was that thing? I feel like it was important OH LOOK THERE'S A SALE ON GOLDFISH AND SCENTED CANDLES. And then I come home without my Certain Essential Item, and less than 24 hours later it's like HO HO HO AND GOOD MORNING GROWN-UP LADY IN HER REPRODUCING YEARS, WHATCHA GONNA DO ABOUT THIS? And then it's a frantic search in hopes of finding an old, beat-up Certain Essential Item in the bottom of a handbag somewhere, followed by a mad dash to the store where Certain Essential Items are never on sale, but OH LOOK BULK HALLOWEEN CANDY IS 50% OFF LET'S EAT SOME FEELINGS. (Tampons, yes. I am talking about tampons here.) One of the reasons (among many) we switched to... Read more →

Get Your Prep On

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. (Tomato, watermelon & farro salad with seared halloumi) In the comments on my last post for Blue Apron, a few of you cried foul on the claim that all the recipes can all be made in under 45 minutes, and wanted to know if I was some kind of knife skills wizard, or if I was just straight up lying like a dirty lying liar, a fraud, a cog in the Blue Apron Misinformation Machine. To which I say, calm your tin foiled butts, I don't cook with a stopwatch running, maybe sometimes it takes 50 minutes, also it's really all about practice and prepping tools. My knife skills are DEFINITELY nothing spectacular -- I've always wanted to take a class, because right now if I were to go on Next Food Network Star I'd totally be that contestant that I shout at every season, like you got cast on Next Food Network Star! Take a damn knife skills class before you get on the plane, idiot! (Does no one else do that? No? Okay.) I will absolutely admit that the very first meal I cooked with Blue Apron -- while undeniably delicious... Read more →

The Bed in a Box That’s Now In My Office

This post is sponsored by Leesa. Stay tuned for big ol' discount at the end! Somewhere (admittedly low) on our New House Features priority list, was space for a proper, grown-up guest bedroom. Our friends and family have endured years of sleeper sofas and futons, less-than-ideal bathroom set-ups and minimal privacy. I really hoped we might end up with a house that at least allowed us to offer them a room with an actual door. That's a tall order for a family of five, especially since any bonus bedroom or den would need to serve as my office. So it looked like it was gonna be futons in the basement playroom for houseguests again. But after setting up my modest bit of office furniture, I realized we could absolutely fit a full-sized bed in the room as well. A room with a a door, a generous walk-in closet and was steps away from a full-sized bathroom. A bathroom that was NOT my children's primary bathroom, and thus not completely disgusting. It would be snug, but worth it. (My last office was technically a small "bonus room" off our master bedroom, and so small that most of the homeowners with our... Read more →

Ceiba vs. Carpet

This post is sponsored by BarkBox. YO FELLOW DAWGS. CHECK OUT MY NEW CRIB. So we're not the only ones who got a new house. In preparation for moving Ceiba into a place chock full 'o carpet (because Ceiba likes to pee on carpet, loves to pee on carpet, is valedictorian of peeing on carpet), we decided to try re-crate training her while still at the old house. I admit I wasn't really sure how to go about crate training an older dog, especially since the LAST THING I wanted to do was stress her out right before the move came along and CHANGED EVERYTHING ABOUT HER ENTIRE LIFE. And obviously our first go at crate training her as a puppy wasn't very successful, since if there's anything she enjoyed more than peeing on carpet, it was peeing in the crate. (YO DAWG WHY U SO GROSS?) So I read some tips online and then focused on making the crate as cozy and pleasant for her as possible. We moved her bed inside and left the door open, then gradually started closing it at night, or while we were out for very short, then longer periods of time. We also... Read more →