Posts by Cassie

Let’s Talk Blogging Income

34

Posted on Jul 29, 2014 in Career

cash

Ready for an obnoxiously long post about the ins-and-outs of my blogging income? Probably not. But here goes anyway…

I’ve pretty much always treated my work here on Back to Her Roots as a hobby. Sure, I have some ads in the sidebar, and I do some sponsored posts here and there, but for the most part, I’ve never really seen my blog as legitimate income source. I did it because I love writing it, I love interacting with you folks, and I really enjoy it as a creative outlet. The extra cash that I make from it basically does little more than cover my expenses and give me a little bit of pocket change for buying canning jars or some fancy new kitchen gadget. Because I never really viewed it much as business, I never really pushed myself to make my blog reach its full potential (both monetarily and content-wise).

And that was fine, before. It’s amazing how much things change when you become a parent. It’s like your life is suddenly bisected into B.P. and A.P. eras (Before Parenthood and After Parenthood).

Before parenthood, I could afford to devote 30+ hours a week to crafting recipes, projects and posts for Back to Her Roots without much recouping of the income. Before parenthood, it was okay that my hobby took up so darn much of my time, because, honestly, what else was I going to do with all that freetime? Before parenthood, I could easily work 70 hours a week between my blog, writing career, and freelance projects, and still have time to head to the gym, play in the garden, watch an episode or two of some TV show after dinner (oh, and actually cook dinner).

mixer kitchen

After parenthood, I’ve realized that the precious amount of freetime I have is just that—extremely precious. I no longer have the vast freedom with my schedule that I did B.P. I have to be very careful to be efficient with the time I do have. And the honest truth is, BTHR isn’t very efficient. It is a huge timesuck in my life (a timesuck that I love, but a timesuck, nonetheless) but the amount of compensation I receive for the amount of labor I put into it just isn’t realistic anymore. To put it another way: something has to go in my life.

I’ve thought long and hard about what thing would be the thing to go. Obviously, I’m not planning on sacrificing time with my family—that’s a given. And I don’t plan on sacrificing the things I need to do to keep myself healthy (getting a somewhat decent amount of sleep, cooking healthy foods, exercising).

That left me with figuring out a way to not work 70 hours a week, and still be able to put food on the table. I, thankfully, have a lucrative freelance writing and design career, and as much fun as that is, I still find myself wanting to spend my time working on my blog most days. The truth is, I can’t cut out my freelance career (well, I could, but we’d be living in a cardboard box) and I really don’t want to stop writing my blog. What a pickle, right?

pickles

That leads me to the point of this post: I’m going to be working hard over the next few months to make BTHR more efficient for me monetarily. I don’t want to give up my blog but the fact of the matter is, if I’m going to devote so much of my time to this blog (time that isn’t spent snuggling with my daughter) then I need it to help us out financially a bit more—and maybe eventually enough that I can back off on my freelance hours and free up a little more time in my life. As much as I’d love to be independently wealthy and be able to just write this blog for the sake of blogging, that just isn’t realistic in my world. My time is valuable, and I’ve been ignoring that for years.

So what’s all this mean? Well, this means that I’m going to be working really hard to make BTHR even better and more engaging for you guys. But I’m also going to be working hard on the back-end to make it more lucrative for me. I’m going to try my darndest to make these changes not interfere with the reading experience (and maybe even enhance the experience in some spots). I’ll be trying lots of different things over the next few months and be asking for your feedback the entire way. And, I think most importantly, I’m going to try to be as transparent about the process as possible—including sharing monthly reports on my income, expenses and readership.

Without you guys, I wouldn’t be making a dime, so it seems only right for me to be clear about what is going on behind the scenes. If you aren’t interested in that, cool, just skip past the post or two each month about blogging income, and I’ll be back with a yummy recipe the next day.

lunch laptop computer

Past Revenues

The first thing I want to do in this whole transparency project is share with you a little bit about the revenue I have been generating over the past few months. Blogging income reports have become all the rage in the blogosphere lately, and for good reason. Not only is the transparency really nice for readers, but it’s also incredibly inspiring for other bloggers. It is possible to make a decent living doing this thing that we love (without selling your soul to the highest bidder), and I love being able to see clear evidence of that each month. It used to be so taboo to talk about money and pageviews, but I think the value of transparency outweighs any icky feelings folks might get from talking about the numbers. I plan on writing up a post each month showcasing the financial backend of BTHR.

On a personal note, I think tearing down the curtains and showing what’s going on backstage is incredibly motivating (and, well, terrifying) as a blogger. I’m going to try to work hard to make this blog a good income source for my family, and each month, I’m going to be posting my results for all to see. Thousands of people seeing your monetary successes or failures each month is a pretty good motivator to work hard!

So, let’s talk about what I have been making so far this year:

May 2014—$877.17 <– the last month I have full data for
April 2014—$836.88
March 2014—$724.54
February 2014—$1,344.17 <– I had a big sponsored post this month
January 2014—$1,923.49 <– a post I wrote went viral on social media this month

These are just gross income numbers, they don’t take into account the money I pay for taxes, hosting, ingredients, props, and a million other little expenses that go into blogging. This income also comes from a variety of sources—not just one ad network. They include multiple ad networks, affiliate programs and sponsored posts. When I share my monthly income report, I’ll go into more detail about both the income sources and the expenses I have.

To some folks, these numbers might sound like a lot, to others, it might sound like nothing. To put this into perspective for myself, I like to think of it as hourly rate. Say I work 25 hours a week on my blog (a conservative estimate). That’s 100 hours a month. So, in May, I was making a whopping $8.77 an hour—that’s less than the minimum wage in some states! Comparatively, I charge at least seven times that amount for my design work. See what I mean about how BTHR just isn’t efficient for me financially? And that’s not even considering that my blog revenue is decreasing each month, even though my readership is increasing. Womp. Womp. Something ain’t right, kids!

Hopefully, when you see my income reports over the next few months, you’ll see those numbers creep up as I work toward my goals (more about that below). I plan on sharing everything I do in a month so you can be on the journey right along with me, and chime in on anything that doesn’t feel “right” to you (although, my goal is to weed out anything shady before it ever comes your way). And, if you write your own blog, maybe some of the things I share can help you make your blog own blog more profitable.

laptop couch post

Goals for the Remainder of 2014

You guys know I’m a big fan of goal-setting, and I think amping up my blog income requires a set of goals, too. I’ll talk about these in more detail in my upcoming monthly income reports, but here’s a general overview of what I’m thinking for the remainder of 2014.

Diversify

Back when I started blogging, ad sales were the way to make money. You got into a good ad network selling to good advertisers, and you were basically rolling in the dough. Then advertisers got smart and started to realize that readers pretty much just tune out ads on websites anymore (either figuratively or literally through ad blocking software). This means that ad sale revenue just isn’t what it used to be. Even though my blog traffic has grown by 400% over the past three years, my ad revenue has pretty much stayed the same. Crazy, right?

The fact is, while ad sales are a great baseline (and really easy) way to monetize a blog, they are no longer super lucrative. To really make the most out of blogging, you have to diversify your income sources. Not only does that mean diversify your ads themselves, but also think about other products you can offer to make a buck. For the rest of the year, I’d like to focus on diversifying my income portfolio beyond just ad sales and the occasional sponsored post. The more baskets my eggs are in the more apt my blog is to be a sustainable income source for years to come.

easter eggs

Create a Social Media Strategy

I’m the first to admit I’m pretty lax with social media. I could be leveraging my nearly 13,000 social media followers much better. I mostly just use my BTHR social media accounts for personal use, and while that’s fine as a part of a blog’s social media strategy, it is definitely ignoring a large opportunity to gain more readers and create a larger network.

I also need to do a better job of marketing myself and my hard work on social media. I went as far as having WordPress automatically publish my posts to by Twitter and Facebook feeds, but other than that, I do a rotten job of publicizing myself. Which is silly. People that follow me on social media are following me because they want to hear from me!

Write and Publish an eBook

Writing a traditionally published cookbook is incredibly fun and rewarding (seeing it on the store shelves is way cool), but it isn’t incredibly lucrative. Sure, you get a nice big advance check, but when you spread that out over the hours and hours and hours of work that goes into a book, it just doesn’t end up being very much. I have so many great book ideas that I’d love to try to put into eBooks for purchase. Not only do I get complete control over the content, design and marketing (something you decidedly don’t with traditional publishing), but I also have a sneaking suspicion I might be able to make it a bit more profitable than traditional publishing. Plus, I just think it’ll be flat-out fun!

salad jars

New Design and Content

My blog design needs an overhaul. I did a complete redesign about 18 months ago, and the result worked beautifully for a while, but there have been a lot of technical changes on my blog in the past few months that have started to break down my blog structure. I would really like to move my design over to a more sustainable theme and work on making it clean, crisp and easy-to-navigate. I also want to overhaul a lot of my content pages. I’ve been working on a new navigation system, new pages, and a new recipe index that’ll hopefully make the whole blog a better experience.

Seek Out Opportunities

You’d be shocked at the number of emails a day I get pitching me stuff for the blog. I turn down a good 99% of the proposals because I just don’t think they are a good fit for me, my blog and my readers. But what I haven’t been good about is pursuing opportunities that I do think will be a good fit. I’d like to spend more time over these next few months cultivating partnerships with companies that I truly believe in—and that might mean cold-calling them. I can’t expect them to always just stumble onto my bog!

Streamline

Part of the hobby philosophy of my blog is that I’ve pretty much done everything manually and haphazardly. Sure, I schedule posts, and I have a rough editorial calendar, but I think I can do a lot better at streamlining my blogging process to be more efficient. This, in and of itself, won’t bring me more money, but if I can spend less time generating the same quality content, that means my income is much more efficient and more time with my family—which is my whole goal for this project!

june bug

Thank you so much for all of your support over the years! I hope you’ll stick with me as I work my way through this new chapter in my blogging career. <3

Have you ever turned a hobby into a career?

Cherry-Almond Upside Down Cake with Blue Diamond Almonds

6

Posted on Jul 28, 2014 in Food

There is an orchard on our homestead. And when I say “orchard” I mean “area of grass that will someday hopefully hold fruit trees,” because, the truth is, our orchard produces pretty much nothing but crabgrass and dandelions now.

That didn’t used to be the case. When I was a little girl growing up here, I remember rows and rows of fruit trees. And right smack in the middle was an old, knotty, twisted cherry tree. My family never had much luck growing tree fruits (hence the empty orchard now), but we could always count on that cherry tree to produce gallons and gallons of vibrantly red cherries. There was no need to have more than one tree—that sucker kept us in cherry pie and cherry preserves all year ’round.

cherries

I think my love for all things cherry comes that workhorse of a tree. I have so many fond memories of picking the low-hanging fruit as a little girl and some not-so-fond memories of “pick cherries” being on my chore list as a teenager. Even though I wasn’t happy about going out and picking the fruit as a 13-year-old (with my head wrapped in a white t-shirt, so my dark hair wouldn’t get too hot in the summer sun), I sucked it up because I knew there were many, many delicious things to come from all that effort.

And, honestly, I always liked picking cherries a heck of a lot more than I liked pitting cherries. That’s an annoying country kid chore that’s right up there with filling mole holes, carrying firewood and snapping pole beans. Although, if you use the ole pastry tip trick (use a pastry tip to poke the pit out—works every time), it makes pitting cherries much easier! In fact, it makes it a little bit fun, even.

pitting cherries

Even though we always had enough cherries stashed in the freezer to make the world’s largest cherry pie when I was a kid, we actually didn’t have dessert much growing up in my house. Dessert was definitely a treat reserved for birthdays, holidays and visitors, and you knew something special was happening (or someone special was coming over) when Mama fired up the oven and started working on a dessert for after supper. In my world, when company is coming over, you vacuum the rugs, put on some music, and bake them something delicious for dessert. And in summer, that meant cobblers, pies, and maybe even a fruity cake!

cherry almond cake

My friends over at Blue Diamond Almonds asked me to use some of their all natural almonds in a dish that would be perfect for summer entertaining, and my mind immediately thought of dessert. Because, still, to this day, you know we’ve got company coming over when I make a dessert!

To me, desserts in the summer have to be fruit-based. I’m as big of a chocoholic as the next girl, but save your triple fudge brownie chocolate cheesecake buttercream surprise for the middle of winter. In July, I want something fresh and fruity. Maybe that’s because I had so many delicious, delicious fruit-based desserts during the summers of my childhood (and many of them thanks to that old cherry tree). There is something about a dessert made with fresh fruit, preferably picked the same day, that just feels like quintessential summer.  And when combined with the natural, nutty flavor of almonds, this cake is a perfect option for serving to guests on a hot summer day (especially if you have some freshly-churned vanilla ice cream to plop along side).

blue diamond almonds

Unfortunately, that cherry tree from my childhood succumbed to old age a few years ago. Even though it wasn’t alive anymore, we still kept its twisted trunk and branches in the middle of the orchard out of respect for how many years and years of delicious fruit it produced for us. And then, last year, I was mowing in the orchard, and happened to bump one of the branches of the tree and the whole thing came crashing down—it was completely hollow from rot. Maybe one day, we’ll plant another cherry tree in that same spot and our daughter will have as many good cherry-flavored memories from it as I do from that old tree.

Enjoy!

Cherry-Almond Upside Down Cake

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Cherry-Almond Upside Down Cake

The cherries turn into a gooey, syrupy topping for the dense almond cake, making it a perfect partner to a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a warm mug of coffee.

Ingredients

    For the Topping:
  • 4 cups cherries, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • For the Cake:
  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds (about 4 ounces of whole almonds)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a non-stick cake pan or springform pan liberally with cooking spray, set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss together all the topping ingredients until cherries are well-coated. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and spread into one even layer, set aside.
  3. Whisk together the flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl, set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the sugar, butter, and coconut oil until smooth. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, and then the almond extra and yogurt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in three additions, making sure it is well mixed between each addition.
  6. Pour the batter over top of the cherry mixture. Spread evenly using a spatula.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before inverting onto a cake plate.
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What’s your favorite dessert to serve to company?

Upcycled Tire Wall Planters

12

Posted on Jul 25, 2014 in Gardening

tire planter Over the past few weeks, we’ve been really working on getting our front porch in tip-top summer shape. We have a ton of outdoor living space that we really haven’t done a very good job of utilizing over the past two years that we’ve lived here. We have a really nice covered porch on the front of our house, and an absolutely huge deck on the back of our house. Both of them have sat mostly empty for the past few years—we just didn’t really know how to make the most out of these huge spaces. But I think we’re finally starting to figure it out. porch We haven’t done much to the back deck still (our plan is turn it into an outdoor dining area, since it has a door to the kitchen), but we are definitely getting there on the front porch. We have a few really nice sitting areas, plus an awesome hammock area at the end of the porch. Our plan is to eventually switch out some of the furniture we have out there for higher-end pieces, but for now, it’s functioning really well and we’re using it every single day! porch One of our favorite spots on the porch are our two Adirondack chairs. We sit here and drink coffee in the morning and eat dinner at night (well, when the bugs aren’t too bad). I love this little spot, and one of my favorite parts of this spot are our wall planters we hung up above the chairs. They add such a fun little burst of color to the otherwise ho-hum brick wall. porch These planters were so incredible easy to make, and, for us, totally free because we had the materials on hand, and we did some dumpster diving for the tires. Let me show you how we made them. Here’s what you’ll need for each planter:

Materials

  • A tire
  • Drill with a 1/2” drill bit
  • Spray paint
  • Landscaping cloth
  • Soil
  • Plants

As far as plants go, we went with shade and part-shade annuals because, obviously, on the covered porch, they’re not getting a whole lot o’ sunshine. We planted a combination of decorative grass, impatiens, and lobelia. We really like that the tall, spiky grass fills in the center of the tire, while the impatiens and lobelia fill in the bottom and add some color—and eventually the lobelia will hopefully spill down and out of the planter a bit. If your planter is going on a wall in the sun, you have a crazy wide variety of fun plants you could fill it up with! These would be so beautiful with wave petunias pouring out of them. tire planter We snagged our tires from the local recycling depot. It’s not hard to track down used tires. Look on the side of the road, ask your local garage, or go ahead and hit up the dump or recycling station like we did. If you’re planning on getting new tires soon, ask the mechanic putting them on if you can take your old tires home (in fact, most places charge you to dispose of your old tires, so if you take them home, you’re actually saving cash). tires First up, I gave our tires a good scrub so the spray paint adhered well. tires You’ll need to drill in some drainage holes in the bottom of the tire. So go ahead and figure out which way you want facing up, and then drill a few holes in the bottom of the tire using your drill and drill bit. We ended up using a 1/2″ drill bit, and drilling through both directions (outside-to-inside and inside-to-outside) to make sure the holes didn’t close in. Drilling through rubber isn’t easy or fast, but you’ll eventually get through it. It doesn’t take a ton of drainage holes—we ended up with about four per tire. tire And now it’s time to get painting! You definitely don’t have to paint the tires if you’re digging the black—in fact, the dark color will help keep the soil nice and toasty if you live in a cooler climate. But, I can’t resist an opportunity to put an obnoxiously bright color on something, so I whipped out the spray paint (and, obviously, you can tell from this picture, it wasn’t my first painting project of the day)! spray paint tire We have lots of touches of teal and turquoise on our front porch, so I decided to pull that into the tires as well. I went with Valspar Exotic Sea. I thought the color would also look really nice against some dark plant foliage and the colors in the brick. Because our planters are hanging on the wall, I didn’t really worry on painting the back, just the front and the sides. I thought it was going to take a billion coats, but it only took two, plus a light touch-up to get some pretty, pretty blue tires. tire Then I let those suckers dry and cure out in the sun for a day. The next day, I came back and cut small strips of landscaping fabric to line the inside of the tire. This probably isn’t necessary, but I figure since I had the fabric, it wouldn’t hurt to put it in to help keep the soil from plugging up the drainage holes. tires And then I filled up the bottom with soil, planted my plants, and watered it in! planter tire We hung them up on the brick wall using 3-1/4” concrete screws in the mortar. At first, we thought we’d just put two screws in and hang the tires on them and be done with it. But Craig wasn’t too happy with how secure that felt, so instead, he drilled large holes in the top of the back of the tire to actually fit over the screw heads—much more secure. tire planter I am obsessed with these planters. I absolutely love everything about them. I love that they are quirky and weird and eclectic. I love that they’re trash that we ended up making beautiful again. I love that they allow us to put plants in a place you wouldn’t normally expect them. tire planter Don’t be surprised if you come to our house and see tire planters everywhere—I have so many ideas for places to put them now! I can see a whole row of them on the wall next to our back deck filled with herbs. Or a bunch of them on the walls of our barn packed with bee-friendly plants (to help draw bees to our garden). Bring me all the tires!

Have you done any projects this spring or summer that you’re really excited about?

Coffee-Banana Smoothie Packs

6

Posted on Jul 23, 2014 in Food

smoothie packs

Smoothies are a new parent’s best friend. Seriously. Being able to pack tons of nutrients and goodies into something that can be “eaten” with one hand is pretty much life-saving when you’re busy taking care of a little one. I think all parents should register for a high-quality blender on their baby registry.

Thankfully, I had a sneaking suspicion that I might enjoy some one-handed eats and managed to whip up a big batch of smoothie packs before I went into labor. If you’ve never made a smoothie pack before, basically, it’s all the ingredients for a smoothie portioned out for an individual serving all ready for a trip in the blender. I’m the first to admit that there is nothing complicated about making a smoothie the regular way, but being able to shave a few minutes off with smoothie packs has been a total lifesaver during these itty bitty teeny tiny newborn baby days. All I do is open up one of these packs, dump it into the individual serving cup of my blender with some milk, and—bam!—smoothie.

smoothie

It probably comes as no surprise to you, but my favorite of the smoothie packs I made is this banana-yogurt smoothie that’s spiked with some fully-leaded coffee. I’ve always enjoyed coffee, but I’ve never been one of those folks that needed a daily jolt of java. But now, I’m quite liking the little bit of pick-me-up that I get from coffee, and being that it’s the middle of summer and hot as heck here in the Midwest, I really enjoy getting my burst of energy in cool, creamy, frosty smoothie form.

My smoothie packs have three ingredients—frozen vanilla yogurt cubes, frozen concentrated coffee cubes, and frozen banana pieces.

smoothie packs

To make them, I first just portioned out the yogurt into an ice cube tray. I went with vanilla yogurt because I like the added flavor and the little bit of sweetness, but you could obviously use plain yogurt or whatever else sounds good to you.

yogurt smoothie pack

And then, in another ice cube tray, I froze some highly concentrated coffee. I made this coffee about twice as strong as it would be if I was just drinking the coffee, because I only put two coffee cubes per smoothie. I really wanted that coffee flavor (and well, the caffeine) to come through in the final smoothie. You could also make espresso and freeze it if you have an espresso machine.

coffee smoothie pack

And then I also froze banana pieces into large chunks. For each smoothie pack, I put in two yogurt cubes, two coffee cubes, and about half a frozen banana into pint-sized freezer bags.

smoothie packs

And then, when it’s time to make the smoothie, I just dump the pack into the blender with about a cup of milk and blend it all up until smooth. This gets me about a 12 ounce smoothie, which is a perfect hold-me-over option until I can procure a real meal. I then rinse out the freezer bag and hang it up to dry for the next time I want to make smoothie packs.

This method of smoothie pack making works for all kinds of flavors. I have other packs in the freezer with yogurt cubes, frozen strawberries, frozen bananas and these booster packs—which is nice for when I need to get in some real nutrition. I’m also thinking I might make some with chocolate milk (yum!), banana and peanut butter.

What’s your favorite kind of smoothie?

Daily Eats: Breastfeeding Edition

30

Posted on Jul 21, 2014 in Food

me juniper

Breastfeeding is crazy, y’all. Not only do I find it totally insane (and amazing) that my body can produce all the nutrition that a tiny human needs to survive and grow less tiny, but I’m also fascinated by the way nursing affects my body. I had heard that exclusive breastfeeding burns about 500 extra calories a day, but I don’t quite think I grasped what that meant in terms of eating and energy levels for me postpartum. That’s like taking a Zumba class everyday or running on the treadmill for an hour! Of course I’m hungrier! And I imagine during baby growth spurts (like we went through last week) you burn even more than 500 calories.

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to document a normal day of eating for me while breastfeeding. I think society puts a lot of pressure on new mothers to get their bodies “back” quickly after birth, and that includes being restrictive with food. I definitely think it’s important for moms to take care of themselves and try to get back to a weight and fitness level they are happy with eventually, but I’d also like to do my part to normalize the idea that it’s okay to just coast along and listen to what your body needs while nursing (especially in those first few months).

juniper

Worth noting, even though I’m eating lots, I am still consistently dropping weight–about a pound a week (in total, I’m down about 30 pounds from the day I went into labor). I am also not doing any workouts, just a daily easy walk around our property (usually with June Bug strapped to me). I really think the body was made for this process, and while it may take a bit longer to lose my pregnancy weight than if I restricted calories and worked out intensely, I’m fine with that pace (I totally understand that other new moms might want quicker results). Plus, getting to eat lots of rich, healthy food is kinda a blast. Onto my eats…

10:00am: Whole wheat bagel, cream cheese, eggs and bacon. Plus a side of Greek yogurt with chia seeds, granola and strawberries. Plus a strawberry smoothie and an unpictured big ole Mason jar full of ice water.

breakfast

This has been my breakfast since I got home from the hospital. So yummy! By the time morning comes around, and I’ve done 3+ nursing sessions overnight, I am absolutely starving.

12:00pm: Chocolate protein smoothie.

smoothie

I usually prefer to make my own smoothies, but these suckers were on mega clearance at the grocery store. Plus, I’m a big fan of easy right now, and you don’t get much easier than premade smoothies.

12:30pm: Snack plate with cherries, a Babybel, tomatoes, a hard-boiled egg and apple, peanut butter and raisin sandwiches. Plus a glass of iced oat straw tea.

snack

Back when I was dealing with anxiety and panic attacks immediately postpartum, Craig did some research about natural anxiety remedies and found some folks had success with oat straw tea. It seems to be working for me. Although, It’s entirely possible that it was just coincidence and my hormones began to regulate the soon after I started drinking it, but it doesn’t hurt to have a glass everyday just in case.

3:30pm: Leftover spinach ravioli topped with olive oil and Parm. Plus a side salad and another Mason jar of water.

dinner

I skipped lunch in favor of taking a nap, and both June Bug and I woke up starving. I’m getting impressively good at eating while she nurses.

5:30pm: Fried zucchini.

fried zucchini

There are lots of benefits to living 1/4 mile from your Mama. One of them is that she’ll randomly bring you delicious food (which I suspect is really just an excuse to see the baby). That’s okay, fried zucchini is awesome.

7:30pm-10:30pm: Another snack plate: cherries, a Babybel, a hard boiled egg, tomatoes, cantaloupe and a granola bar. More water.

snack

Baby Girl is a big fan of evening cluster feeding, which means for about three hours every night, I’m camped out at the end of the futon in her nursery feeding her pretty much nonstop. Thank heavens for my iPad, handheld snacks, and an attentive husband. And the fact that babies eventually grow out of cluster feeding. These KIND granola bars have been a staple since June Bug was born. I ordered them in bulk and literally have a dozen boxes stashed in the nursery closet.

1:00am: Granola bar, applesauce and water

snack

Squeezy applesauce is an awesome middle-of-the-night nursing snack. Just enough sugar to give me a bit of energy to stay awake, but not so much that I feel wired.

3:30am: Granola bar, banana with PB, and water

snack

The 3am nursing session is my favorite because it’s such a sweet, quiet time with my baby girl, but man, I am always SO hungry by this point (but entirely too sleep deprived to head to the kitchen for “real” food). I’ve been trying to make up snack plates in the evening so they’re easy to grab-and-go when she wakes up in the middle of the night.

6:00am: Trail mix and water.

Trail Mix

This is the part of the morning where I have to decide to get up for the day or go back to bed. Usually I stay up, and spend some quiet time with the little lady before breakfast, and that requires fuel. I keep a bowl of trail mix by my nursing station for quick and easy snacking.

And then the whole cycle starts over again!

What’s your favorite one-handed snack (I need new ideas!)?