I originally wrote this post for Offbeat Families, but I wanted to re-publish it on Home to keep the awesome conversation going…
Aaron's drawing of our family. (Dogs not to scale. Cat not pictured.)
I come from a big family who came from big families. My grandfather was one of eight siblings, my mother is one four siblings, and my mother and each of her siblings has had three kids. Now those three kids are all starting to have three (or more!) kids.
Except for me.
I'm married, and, if things go according to plan, we won't ever have kids. Or, as some of my family members have put it "start a family." Now, I take issue with that phrase…
July 31st is Harry Potter's birthday. In honor of our favorite wizard, here's a DIY post from Homie Amanda of "pies in cake" fame…
I would say that most of the decor in our house is fairly "normal" — modern, beautiful, but normal. We don't have a ton of geeky art displayed everywhere (except in my partner's office). We tend to appreciate more subtle hints of geekery. However, those items tend to be hard to find in the wild, so sometimes you have to create your own.
A while back, I discovered Harter's Wands on Etsy. You send them the screenshot of your wand from Pottermore, and they will make one to (pretty much) the exact specifications (unfortunately, dragon heartstring/unicorn hair/phoenix tail feather not included… I'm assuming… I haven't broken mine to check).
Only, what do you do with a wand once you have it?
You make a wand display plaque, of course!
If that sauerkraut post made you hungry for German food, then let's just round out our "German food day" with this ode to pretzels…
It all started when I saw this duvet cover on Modcloth. I don't know why… but I love it. I mean, I love pretzels, especially the big soft kind (you know, the kind that you get at sport game events) with the large salt chunks, topped with mustard — omg! But I never thought that I'd love them on my bed spread… or as a theme in home decor in any way, pretzel shape, or pretzel form.
But I was wrong! This stupid wtf-ery of a duvet cover makes my everything right now.
So it made me think… what else was I missing out on in the world of pretzel home decor? Turns out… quite a lot.
I'm on a fermentation kick lately, and sauerkraut is my favorite. I love it because it's easy to make and it tastes great on everything from hotdogs to soup. But mostly I love it because homemade sauerkraut is full of probiotics, and I've had enough rounds of antibiotics to need some help in that department.
Cabbage naturally has lactic bacteria, which is why it's so fermentable!
To make a single large Mason jar worth of sauerkraut, here's what you do:
"I'm less like a set of drums and more like a guitar — you can't just pick up your sticks and go right into the music and expect good results." (Photo by: Thomas – CC BY 2.0)
My husband and I have been married for two years now and with him being active duty, he is gone for months at a time and in a demanding and high-stress work environment. Naturally, as you might expect, the fullness of our sexlife dissipated. I was feeling neglected and dissatisfied with the few times we did have sex, and never seemed to have a constructive conversation about sex, until now…
I wrote a letter to my husband and he's already opened up to me about it much more than he has ever before. I wanted to share my suggestions of what to include, in the hopes of helping others find the right words to say when bringing up these issues to their partners so that they too can have productive conversations about their sex lives.
A little while ago we asked "how do you make leftovers feel less leftover-y?" Offbeat Homie SmashedTogether gave such a brilliant answer, that we made it its own post!
Food prep tips from professional kitchens that you can try at home. Photo by Chef Amy Wolf.
In all honesty, there is no way to make four nights of chili seem like anything other than four nights of chili. I get the appeal in making a big batch of food and having it there for you for the rest of the week, but if you aren't consuming it, that's money down the drain. If you aren't enjoying it, then what's the point?
Food shouldn't just be fuel for your body; it's a sensory experience that is supposed to make you feel alive. And there's something about the same pre-cooked slurry four nights in a row that makes that harder.
Leftovers aren't for everyone, but you're on the right track with cooking at home. I think that most people these days have built up cooking a meal every night to being this huge ordeal that it really isn't. Homemade fridge/freezer meals are a great alternative to frozen pizza, don't get me wrong — but after years of working in restaurants, and watching empty plates turn into meals in 15 minutes or so, cooking a meal for yourself really doesn't seem so hard.
Think about eating in a mid-level family restaurant. Not the fine dining kind, and not the mostly-pancakes-and-bacon joints, but the places that turn out meals from more or less real ingredients in about 15 minutes, almost every time. Think about the systems they have in place to bring you a full meal only minutes after asking for it. The biggest reason isn't that food is cooked before it's ordered, but that the ingredients are prepped.
Prepping is the key to making meals that taste fresh but come out fast. It's not as hard as you think; all you need to do is take the time you have been spending making one big meal, and spend it being your own prep cook! Here's how…
Last week on the Offbeat Empire blog, Ariel wrote about our new ad platform over here. The tl;dr version is that the biggest difference you'll notice will be that in a few months, the sponsored posts will be about bigger companies. Don't worry, they'll only be companies we like, and still written in the voice of the Empire. Soon, when you see me gushing about IKEA (like we normally do anyway), the Empire will be compensated for the gushing.
Which means Offbeat Home & Life becomes profitable, which means less chance of Ariel threatening to kill the site like she killed Offbeat Families. Yay!
But I also wanted to talk about reader supporters and patrons here on Home…