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Welcome to another installment of Dishin’ It Up – January 2018 edition – where i share my favorite food and fun from the past month!
Happy February! It’s hard to believe that we are already in the second month of the new year! So much has been keeping me busy and I have a lot of stuff I’m working on that I can’t wait to share with you soon. If you are a long-time reader of Kitchen Concoctions then you know I used to do a monthly series called Dishin’ It Up, where I shared personal highlights, books I’ve been reading, restaurants I’ve been checking out and other fun and favorite things from the previous month.
Last year I was doing these regularly for every month and then summer came and we were faced with quite a few hard times with personal challenges and deaths in the family. Even though I did my best to keep blogging somewhat normally, it was hard and I really wasn’t in the mood to write these posts. While we are still dealing with a lot personally, there has been a lot of good things lately so I decided I wanted to bring these posts back. So, here’s a peek at to what was happening in January.
What I’ve been up to:
The next few months are going to be incredibly busy with work and personal things (I can’t wait to share more details soon!); so, I knew I had to get organized and get busy working on goals and projects that I want to accomplish this year, both personally and professionally.
While there is still a lot of room for growth, I’ve been working hard to maintain a regular blog posting schedule here on Kitchen Concoctions and on social media. I’ve also been working since last year to update all my old blog posts and recipes (there are hundreds!!) to be more reader friendly; which means creating recipe cards, updating lots of old ugly photos and adding more cooking tips to these tried and true recipes. And while this is very time-consuming work, and it’s just little ‘ole me over here doing everything, I am so happy to be getting this done. So, keep your eye on my various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram) and sign up for our newsletter, as I update and relaunch these beloved recipes.
Also, since I’ll be so busy with other things the next few months, I’ve been testing, retesting and photographing recipes like crazy, so that I can continue to bring you amazing content, even with added responsibilities and challenges. The hardest part about this is getting great tasting ingredients that are usually only at their best in spring or summer and keeping these recipes and blog posts under wrap until they make sense to publish. So, if there is a specific recipe, cooking or craft tutorial you would like to see, let me know and I’ll try to make it happen!
What I’ve been eating:
Since it is the beginning of a new year, I’ll be updating my city guides to the best restaurants in Austin, Texas. Because of this I’ve been visiting some new and highly rated restaurants (new to Austin and/or new to me), to see if they are worthy of adding them to my Austin restaurant guide. I’ve also been revisiting some of my favorite Austin restaurants to get new photos and to make sure they are still the best of the best.
To update my Best Donuts in Austin, Texas guide, I recently picked up some of my favorite donuts from the local grocery store, Wheatsville Co-Op. Not only are these donuts soft and airy with the perfect amount of glaze; they happen to be vegan (but you would NEVER) know! Pictured above is the chocolate glaze with sprinkles, the maple glaze and coffee glaze; with the maple and coffee glazed donuts being my favorite!
In January we were invited to the complimentary soft opening of the newest Pluckers Wing Bar location, located in Oak Hill, here in Austin. Pluckers got its start here in Austin way back in the 90’s and now has locations all over Texas and Louisiana. Pluckers is our go to place to get hot wings, because they have a TON of sauces and dry rubs to toss their wings in, and they are always consistent with their products.
I usually always get my order of wings half garlic Parmesan (dry rub) and classic buffalo wings (mild heat level as their hot is too hot for me), with a side of sweet potato fries. They also have great salads, sandwiches and burgers and have an array of house made lemonade and cocktails. In fact, if I don’t get my regular order of fries and wings, then I get the Honey BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad which comes loaded with grilled chicken, black beans, corn, crispy tortilla strips and more.
Oh, and if you join their Pluckers Club, you get special offers, free food and invites to complimentary soft openings of their new locations, so you can check out these new locations too!
What I’ve been reading:
I set a goal to read more in 2017 and I started out strong early in the year. Then I was faced with all the personal challenges and really didn’t have the time nor cared to read. So, inspired by some of my favorite bloggers and influencers who read between 52 and 100 books last year (you can check out some of their book recommendations by clicking here and here), I decided to revisit my goal to read more this year.
So far, I’m doing good and have been enjoying reading (and listing to audio books) in several different genres. In January I read two books and started a third. Here’s my reviews of those two books:
Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson – I actually listened to this as an audio book and really enjoyed “reading” this book this way because it was read by Marcus himself. Being a chef, I really liked hearing about Samuelsson’s life, starting back when he was a boy in Africa to being adopted and being raised in Sweden, and his long journey to becoming the successful restaurant owner and celebrity chef we know today.
In the book Samuelsson is also very open and upfront about other personal struggles he faced, including discrimination, trying to mend his relationship with his daughter, and lots of financial struggles, that, unless you are in the food industry, may not realize and understand that chefs really don’t make that much money and even those celebrity chefs have financial struggles and have a hard time finding work or investors to back their restaurants.
Even if you are not a chef or foodie, I think anyone would enjoy this book and could relate to the struggles and sacrifices made to pursue the career of your dreams.
Lab Girl Hope Jahren – Lab Girl is very similar to Yes, Chef, in that it is about a female scientist trying to break down barriers to pursue her dream as a scientist. To be honest, it was hard for me to get into this book at first, as Jahren talks a lot about science and paleobiology, things that don’t interest me as much as food and cooking. But as I kept reading, I really enjoyed this book because, again, the underlying theme of the book was her struggle to pursue the career of her dreams, despite challenges she faced as a woman scientist, as she struggled financially (again, a job of passion and not necessarily paying well despite impressive degrees and experience) and Jahren’s openness as she struggled with becoming a working Mom. Things, that whether or not you are a scientist, as a woman in the workforce, can relate to in one way or another.
And even if I’m not that into science, I think it was really good for me to read this book, as it was another non-fiction book (when I go to pick up a new read, I tend to gravitate towards fiction) and was about topics I’m not as familiar with, which it is always a good thing… to keep learning and expanding your mind!
What I’ve been watching:
Of course, I was happy to see all my favorite shows return after the holiday hiatus and I’m still loyal to the fan favorites like This Is Us, How to Get Away with Murder and Scandal.
But I started watching the new Fox show The Resident and I’m loving it! I’ve always loved medical dramas and this one has some of my favorite actors and actresses (including Emily VanCamp and Matt Czuchry). But what I like most about this show is that it is not so much about the character’s personal lives (like Gray’s Anatomy), but about the struggles that medical staff deal with on a day to day bases that interfere with their ability to do their jobs. Things like pushy insurance companies and money driven hospital administrators, to their own health issues related to years on the job, nurse’s dealing with know it all doctors, doctors conflicting on ways to treat patients and medical staff going above and beyond to care for their patients. I highly recommend it!
What I’ve been loving:
All through school and when I worked corporate jobs, I ALWAYS used paper planners or large desktop calendars to help keep me organized. But then I started this blog and would always publish stuff on a whim and never really keep a calendar.
However, as I grew my blogging and personal chef business, I quickly realized I needed to get back to my paper calendar. Because of this I have tried ALL the paper calendars. I used a cheap, basic calendar and a nicer, thicker more in-depth calendar from Walmart but it didn’t really work for what I wanted.
I then paid a ton of money (at least in my opinion) for a super fancy Day Designer Planner. Even though this is a pricier planer, there were lots of things I loved about it. It was designed for entrepreneurs and goal setters and has tons of inspiring quotes, goal setting worksheets, etc. all in the planner. It also had an entire page for each day with hourly blocks to schedule things. But there were several things I didn’t like about that planner; one major thing was that the rings that bound it together weren’t solid so slowly the planner began to fall apart as pages slipped out. Also, it didn’t have enough space for me to keep notes, ideas, etc. and I had to not only haul a planner around but separate notebook as well, to keep my plans, recipe ideas, etc.
Then last January I discovered The Happy Planner and it has totally worked for me! It is available at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, JoAnn’s Fabric and is often on sale or can be purchased with a coupon for 40% off, making it super affordable. Not only did I love the price of this planner, I love that it has things you can easily add to it like notebook paper (no more hauling around a separate notebook!), finance worksheets, fitness trackers and more!
In addition to the extra pages, dividers and more you can add to it, The Happy Planner has an entire line of stickers, folders and other planner accessories. This planner has rings (disks) that are solid and allow for inserting these extra pages. It also has a regular calendar set up for each month, as well as, two-page spreads for each week, with big planning blocks for each day. This is the best calendar I’ve found for my needs (and is super durable) and I love it!
Well that’s it for now! What have you been up to lately? Share in the comments below!
For more up to the minute peeks into my favorite eats and fun, follow Kitchen Concoctions on Instagram!
Disclosure: I was invited to the soft opening for Pluckers and received complimentary food. No other products and places mentioned in this post are sponsors or part of any partnerships, I just love sharing what I’ve been up to and some of my favorite things as part of my Dishin’ It Up series! All thoughts and opinions are my own. To read more about my disclosure polices, click here.