Thursday, November 11, 2010


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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to Manage your Google Reader Without Losing Your Mind

Happy Wednesday, friends!  Do you have tomorrow off from work? I am planning a relaxing day in yoga pants and fuzzy slippers, reading blogs and cooking in my newly reorganized kitchen! Any special requests? :)

Today's post has been a week or so in the making and I hope you find it useful and interesting. While sipping the most amazing tea of our lives at Leland Tea Company in SF on Sunday, Teri and I got to chatting about reading blogs (duh) and how we manage reading, commenting, saving recipes for later, etc. It's a massive task, and no one system is perfect, but here are a few of my tips for making the most of your Google Reader.

Google Reader Next Button
I've blogged about this before after I heard about it from Savvy Julie earlier this year.  Basically, the Google Reader Next button has revolutionized my blog reading habits and it is so easy. Here are 4 simple steps for getting set up.

1. Log in to Google Reader
2. Click "Settings" in the top right corner and select "Reader Settings"

3. Select "Goodies" from the menu across the top
4. Scroll down to "Put Reader in a bookmark" and drag the "Next" button into your bookmarks bar. I like to leave it as the very last bookmark so I don't mis-click.

Clicking the Next button will take you to the newest item in your Google Reader. The best part is that you don't have to read blogs in Reader anymore, because the Next button takes you to the actual blog post! This gives the blog you read traffic and you see the post in the way it was intended to be read (sometimes Reader messes with the formatting, etc).

You can also create a Next button for a specific tag if you separate your Reader into categories or folders. Just select the tag you want to create the button for and then drag the button into your toolbar like before. You can rename the button anything you like by going to Organize Bookmarks under your browser's "Bookmarks" menu.

I keep my blogs in Reader separated into the following Folders:
  • Cooking
  • Friends
  • Food/Fitness
  • Teaching
  • Wedding (yes, I still read a few wedding blogs... They're so pretty!)
  • Design/Lifestyle
Using the Next button kind of eliminates my need for folders (since I didn't create a Next button for specific folders as outlined above), but as a highly organized person, they just make me feel better. :) You could also organize your blogs by ones that post daily versus ones that post less often (or ones you want to read daily versus ones you want to read less often) or by any other system that makes your little organizational heart sing.

I cannot sing the praises of Taboo highly enough. This is a great little Firefox plugin that everyone should be using. Once I started using the Next button, I realized that "starring" blog entries was getting more difficult (since I was on the actual blog and not in Reader). However, just bookmarking them didn't help me much either because I always forget to go back to my bookmarks. And then I installed Taboo.

Taboo is a Firefox toolbar add-on that lets you save a website for later by taking a snapshot of the web page, including session state information (such as how far you've scrolled on the page and information in forms). The basic premise is that instead of having a million tabs open of pages you want to go back to, you just keep them all in one tab. Even when you quit Firefox, your tabs are still saved!

The plug-in adds just two little buttons to your toolbar, so it's pretty unobtrusive and definitely not clunky (I had clunky plug-ins!). You click on the button on the left to save a tab and the button on the right to access all your saved tabs.

You can then search/browse through all your saved tabs. A single click and you're back to the same place on the page as when you saved it.

You can access your saved tabs a number of ways. My favorite is the grid view:

When you mouse over a saved tab, it enlarges it for you!

You can also access your saved tabs in the details view, where you can enter notes about the tab:

There is also a calendar view, so if you can't find that recipe for Lemon Bars but know that you saved that tab back in February, you can look for it that way. Ah-maze-ing. I love Taboo!

"Just Say No"
This last tip is the easiest, but the hardest at the same time. Sometimes, when I am feeling like my Reader is never empty and I am just skimming blogs to get to the next one (instead of reading and commenting and contributing to the conversation, which should be the whole point), I start pruning my blog list. I have a few criteria that I consider when adding a blog and I follow that same criteria when I decide to remove it.
  1. Do I like your writing style? 
    • As an English teacher, common spelling/grammar errors drive me mad. I know I'm guilty of making mistakes now and then, but a blatant disregard for punctuation and frequently misspelled/confused words (there, their, they're!) is a huge irritation for me
  2. Do you post content that I find interesting? 
    • Personally, I am interested in recipes, kitchen tips, and workout/training information. I am not interested in what you ate every day. When I started reading blogs, I was reading a lot of "what I ate today" blogs and very quickly got bored. Now, I look for blogs whose content helps me improve my own life, whether in the form of recipes/cooking tips, new workouts, style and design or blogs that just give me something new to think about.
  3. Do I get annoyed/angry/bitter when I read your blog? 
    •  I read a great article on Hollaback Health about putting down the haterade and not "hate following" blogs, just for the purpose of thinking about how much you dislike them when you read them. I immediately unsubscribed from about 5 blogs after I read that article. I choose not to surround myself by people who say/do things I don't like in real life, why wouldn't I do the same online?
  4. Do you seem like a person I would like in real life? 
    • OK, I know that sounds horrible, so let me rephrase it a la Katy Widrick and some of her 10 Reasons I Subscribe to Your Blog: I know you, I like you, I'm like you, I want to be like you, you make it easy, you make me think, or you're funny/quirky.

I love blogging and being part of this community, so I do everything I can to make staying in contact with other bloggers as easy as possible so I want to continue doing it. Reading blogs should never be a chore, so if it's feeling like one, try one (or all!) of these ideas to get your blogs under control!

What are some of your tips for keeping your blogroll manageable? Share them in the comments!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Caramelized Onion and Sweet Potato "Pizzas"

And now back to our regularly scheduled food programming :)

I've had my eye on Erin's Caramelized Onion & Sweet Potato Tart for a few weeks now, but when I got out all my ingredients to make it tonight, I realized that I had accidentally purchased puff pastry shells and not puff pastry sheets. Not wanting to make another trip to the store, I decided to make a batch of my whole wheat thin crust pizza dough and see what happened.

In short, MAGIC.

 I rolled out the dough super thin, so when it cooked up it was crunchy and almost cracker-like.

I then followed Erin's recipe exactly and cooked my "pizzas" for about 8 minutes each (I use a pizza stone to get nice, crisp crust).

The flavors were so rich and warm and perfect for this cold evening. I was running low on Parmesan, but next time I'll be sure to use a heavier hand.

I had some beets from our CSA last week that were begging to be used, so I scrubbed them and tossed them in a pot of boiling water for about 30 minutes and then just served them with salt and pepper.

Brian loves beets. The bowl was half empty by the time I cut the pizzas and sat down to eat!

If you are here for the first time from FitBlogger, WELCOME! How are you cooking differently now that the seasons are changing?

Foodbuzz Festival 2010

Confession: I didn't take very many pictures at this weekend's Foodbuzz Festival. I was just having such a good time I kept forgetting to pull out my camera! I guess that makes me a bad food blogger. Oh well! Here are some of the snaps that I managed to catch.

Street Food Fair! This was a really fun event at Herbst Pavilion for mingling, exchanging our foodie gifts (I scored some Michigan granola from Wendy at The Local Chef!), and enjoying some serious food truck yumminess. I ate way more meat and cupcakes than normal and was a little miserable when I went home that night.

Snacks from Frog Hollow Farm

Pear Tarts!

Getting ready for our gift exchange!



Breakout Sessions - I didn't snap any pictures during my first breakout session because we were learning about food writing. As an English major and teacher, I was really interested in this but basically, I learned not to use words like delicious or yummy. Um.... OK, thanks. One good thing that I did take away from that session though was an exercise in which we had to describe a food in terms of the memory it gave us, and not necessarily  how it actually tasted.

Then, I headed over to a demo by Alaska Seafood. Mary Sue Milliken from Border Grill made some crazy delicious fish tacos that I got to sample later at the Tasting Pavilion. I didn't have the best seats to get good pictures, but Mary was hilarious and so fun. I can't wait to try some of her recipes at home.

Alaska Seafood is hosting an awesome Wild Alaska Fish Taco recipe contest from November 3 to January 31. The winner gets a 3-day/2-night trip to Santa Monica and will get to ride along and serve their winning taco recipe in the Border Grill Taco Truck with Mary Sue and Susan Feniger!

The last session I went to was about "Blogging Success." It was run by a panel consisting of Tina, Damaris, and Stephanie. I was a little distracted trying to coordinate lunch plans on Twitter, but I did hear a few things that resonated with me - namely that "successful" bloggers do not necessarily blog daily (hooray!), commenting on blogs is a way of telling the author, "I appreciate that you took the time to write this!", and it takes a while to find your niche, but just keep working at it.

Farmer's Market Wandering with Ally! I love the Ferry Building but had actually never been there for the Farmer's Market, so after having our picture taken in front of a Hearts in SF in Union Square, we headed down to check out the produce.

They're putting up the Christmas tree in the background!

Jam from Swanton Berry Farm!

Tasting Pavilion
Then we walked over to the Tasting Pavilion at the Metreon where I basically ate nonstop and took only one picture, but at least it was a good one:

Gala Dinner
Then we got all prettied up for the Gala Dinner in the Grand Hall of the Ferry Building.

There were passed appetizers and wine and then an incredible four-course meal catered by Paula Leduc with Bonny Doon wine pairings. It was about a million degrees upstairs in the Ferry Building (or maybe we had just had too much wine...), so Teri and I sneaked off to the bathroom and removed our tights before dinner. I didn't snap many pictures (and even my pics of the food are a bit dark), but Ally, Teri, and Heather were excellent dinner company and we had an incredible time.

We ended our time in SF with a brunch sponsored by Nature's Pride. The food was not the best and the weather was very unpleasant, so Teri and I later found ourselves holed away in a corner of Leland Tea Company for an hour or so eating scones, drinking tea, and talking about work, blogging, and life. It was a great way to end the weekend!
Lynn from The Actor's Diet (so glad I met her!) put together a great little video from the weekend. You can watch it here. It's a great review of the weekend!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Life Lessons Learned from Blogging Conferences

I promise I actually took pictures this week, you are just going to have to wait a little longer for them! I had so much fun this weekend and learned a lot about food and blogging at the Foodbuzz Festival, but the majority of what I learned applies so readily to life itself that I wanted to share:

  • Know Who You Are & Be Yourself
Part of going to a blogging conference is knowing how to answer the question, "What do you blog about?" I spent a considerable amount of time before leaving for the Festival thinking about how I would "define" myself this weekend. I found that they way I described my blog had a big effect on how people reacted to me as a person. I even had one blogger (who shall remain nameless) respond with, "Oh, there seems to be quite a few bloggers like you," with a little disdain in his voice, like there was something wrong with posting healthy recipes!

But the thing is, I'm not going to change the way I blog just to make readers happy, just like I'm not going change who I am as a person to make other people happy. I blog for me, not for anyone else. Otherwise, why bother?

  • Be Nice & Stay Positive
I tell my students this all the time. Just be nice! Smile, say hello, ask people about themselves, and at least pretend like you are having a good time. I was instantly drawn to the people who had big grins on their faces and were putting out positive energy, making an effort to get to know people, and in general having a great time. It was a busy and stressful weekend as far as socializing and networking were concerned, but it only comes around once a year so I felt like it was worth it to be positive and make the best of it, rather than complaining about the weather or being tired or having too many people to "have" to talk to.

  • Be Gracious
I don't pretend to have a million readers, but I really appreciate the readers that I have. When people told me this weekend that they read my blog and that they enjoy it, I said, "Thank you!" and then I made an effort to get to know those people in an authentic way. This was hard to do with 350 people in attendance at the Festival, but I can't tell you how many people whose blogs I read regularly were not gracious or even remotely interested in me when I introduced myself and told them how much I enjoy their blogs.

I don't feel like I'm doing anyone any favors by writing Running Foodie, so it bothers me when people act like I "owe" them some sort of special praise beyond, "I like your blog" when I meet them. I  expect them to at least attempt to engage me in conversation instead of just waiting for me to keep talking. After I get the introductions out of the way, I want to get to know them as a person, not continue to shower them with compliments. I don't consider anyone who was at Foodbuzz this weekend to be a blogging "celebrity," but I did feel like some people acted like they were and this really bummed me out.  The best way to ensure that I don't read your blog anymore is to not be nice when I meet you in person. :(

  • Take Risks
When I left for the Festival, I knew that I was not going to know a single person. This was terrifying! I am also not very good with big groups and prefer to get to know people one-on-one. Fortunately, I hooked up with Ally right away and then spent a huge chunk of Sunday with Teri exploring the city. I admit I had mini blog crushes on both of them and was nervous to meet them (what if we actually had nothing in common??), so I am so glad took a risk to meet up with them and get to know them. It was so rewarding and I feel like I made some friends that I will have for life!

Did you go to Foodbuzz? What were some lessons (life or blog-related) that you learned?

EDIT: I realized after rereading this post that I might be on the verge on sounding like a bit of a Negative Nancy, so let me assure you that I had SO MUCH FUN this weekend. I cannot remember laughing so hard, smiling so big, eating so much good food, and drinking so much good wine since my own wedding. I am already planning to attend in 2011. Thank you, Foodbuzz! I will wax poetic about the festival after I've gone through all my pictures and posted a formal recap later this week.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


It's a rainy Sunday morning and I'm sitting at Don's kitchen table while it pours outside. I think am still full from Friday night's Street Food Fair at Herbst Pavilion (not to mention yesterday's Tasting Pavilion and Gala Dinner) and I'm not sure how I am going to manage to fit another morsel of food into my body at the Farewell Brunch this morning, but I'm willing to make the effort if only to see these lovely faces again:

New friends Ally and Teri! I look like a creeper, but they are totally adorable :)

I'll be back with a more formal recap of this weekend's festivities (although you can read about a million of them online already, I'm sure. How do people find time to blog during such a busy weekend?), but I have seriously had a really incredible time drinking wine and eating ridiculously unhealthy food and getting lost in San Francisco and removing my tights before dinner.

More on all of that later.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Welcome to Fashion Friday!

Happy Friday! I hope you've all had an awesome week and have exciting weekends planned. I know I do!

I hit you all with a lot of posts about food and running and nutrition, but as you probably remember, I'm pretty into fashion too. However, the majority of what I blog about fits into the "yoga pants and hoodie" category.

In light of this, I'm going to try something new around here - Fashion Friday!


I know I'm not the first blogger in the world do a Fashion Friday, so I'm not going to try to reinvent the wheel here. My plan is to just give you a brief review of what I wore each week (or on the days that I remember to photograph it) as well as highlight some of my favorite pieces and where I scored them/for how much (I hate paying full price for anything!).

Without further ado, here we go!

Dinner at my parents'
Forever 21 jeggings ($14!), F21 top, Gap flats
F21 sweater, Banana Republic wool pants, flower pin from Pins and Needles, Too

Gap sweater, Mossimo (Target) pencil skirt, Payless boots

Banana Republic silk top, Banana Republic khakis, Gap flats

NY&Co top, Banana Republic sweater vest and plaid pants

No picture for today because I am still in my PJs! I took today off to get work done at home before Foodbuzz kicks off this evening!

Have a super weekend!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Easy Crockpot Carnitas

Me and my crockpot were at it again last night!

You'll just have to believe me when I say that we actually ate these awesome carnitas as tacos, since this is literally the only picture I took of the entire meal. I know you won't have any trouble believing me when I say that these are, perhaps, the best thing I've ever made in my crockpot.

Crockpot Carnitas
adapted from Kelle Hampton

  • one 1lb pork tenderloin
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 jar salsa verde
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 can chopped green chiles
  • 1/4 cup red salsa
  • 1/2 can black beans

  1. Put pork tenderloin and chopped onion in your crockpot
  2. Pour salsa verde, diced tomatoes, green chiles, and red salsa over the pork.
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours. Use a fork to shred pork near the end of cooking.
  4. Around 20 minutes before serving, add black beans and stir to combine. Allow to heat through.
  5. Serve with tortillas, avocado, more salsa, sour cream, etc.

Seriously, they could not be easier. If you don't eat pork (or just don't like it), I imagine you could do these with chicken as well. I would use bone-in, skinless breasts and thighs. As evidenced from my experience cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot, the meat will shred nicely (but you might need to use your fingers).

And after dinner, you can enjoy hazelnut butter on whole wheat toast with chocolate chips. Yum.