1, 2, 3 & Jump


Eight Tips for a Smooth Holiday Dinner

Well, yes, Thanksgiving was weeks ago, but I successfully hosted a group of 19 adults and one toddler. It wasn’t stress-free, but all in all it went smoothly. I thought I’d put down some notes here to make the next holiday (i.e. Christmas) go just as smoothly and avoid the couple of hiccups that did crop up.

  1. Set a Time & Let People Know. Ok, so, this one I didn’t do super well. There were still a couple text the day of asking what time dinner was being served. Be sure this included in the invite (more on that later) and encourage people to come on time. You’re always going to have the problem of people running late/hitting insane NYC traffic etc., but in order to have any sort of order for the day you need an estimated time for serving dinner. If needed, remember that hot plates are your friend.
  2. Facebook Groups. There was a time I rebelled against Facebook. There are a myriad of reasons, but really, my Mom, mother-in-law, husband and pretty much everyone else that uses a computer is on Facebook. So, yes, there are prettier evites, but for my family and friends, it’s easier to use the technology that people are actually using rather than trying to get them to convert.
  3. Text/Call & Confirm with the Non-Facebook People. In my family there are a handful of people that just don’t use email or social media. Sigh. So be sure to text or call these people well in advance, confirm that they’ll be attending and ask them what they would like to bring. This brings me to …
  4. Ask everyone to bring something. This actually worked really, really well. I decided that Thanksgiving should be more of a potluck, because I really just couldn’t handle cooking a Turkey, a bunch of sides, host and clean-up. I used the Facebook group to coordinate what everyone brought. About a week before the holiday, I posted the proposed menu and asked anyone to chime in with missing dishes etc. Also, remember there will be a lot of different foods, so huge servings aren’t necessarily needed.
  5. Order & Pick-up Turkey/Meat Early. As soon as I have a reasonably accurate head count, I order the turkey. It just feels good to have that item checked off my list. Likewise, picking up the turkey is a major to-do. When I can, I like to pick it up early. Since I used a dry brine this year, I picked up the turkey on Monday and did the dry brine that evening. That gave the bird three full days to soak in the flavors of the herbs.
  6. Set-Table & Do Any/All Prep the Day Before. To the extent anything can be done in advance, do it! I made the base for the gravy, set the table and got the side-tables set-up the day before. This made the morning go a lot smoother. This will be even more important for Christmas since we go out for Christmas Eve.
  7. Get a Toddler Wrangler. In the morning, before all the other guests arrived, I asked my sister to come early to play with Leah. My sister is one of Leah’s favorite people, so she only takes a couple minutes to warm-up and they can happily draw and read together for quite a while. Leah still didn’t go down for her nap, but that’s just kind of how she rolls with big events. Having the extra set of hands made it possible for us to focus on cooking.
  8. Tupperware & Clean-Up. Ugh. This was my one major fail. I should have bought those cheap tupperware containers to send leftovers with everyone. We didn’t have a lot of leftovers (next year 1.5 per person or two smaller turkeys), but it would have been so much better if I had the tupperware ready. Also, I need to come up with a plan to deal with clean-up, including an organized place for recycling and trash. Our regular bins don’t really work for parties.

Finally, I have an amazing husband that helped with all of this, from the brining (I read the instructions, he brined), carving the turkey and keeping an eye on it while I wrangled the toddler. Hosting is a major job, which goes so much better when two people can work together to get the cooking and cleaning done.


 December 17th, 2013  
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Look What I Made: Scrap Paper Notebooks


While there are a lot of good things about working from home, one of the challenges about being your own boss is that you’re responsible for everything. This includes all of the office management stuff that comes with running an office. Running to Staples or ordering supplies online? Yep, that’s my job. Doesn’t matter how I value my time, if I can’t do my job without the supplies, then it has to get done.

Now, confession time, I’m kind of a notebook junkie. I try to keep things in check when I go to Staples or Paper Source. But I can always find an excuse for a new notebook. Design*Sponge ran this tutorial a while back for a do-it-yourself notebook that’s made with scrap paper. I’ve been meaning to try it for a while, but just got around to it this week. Over the last couple evenings when I usually just watch bad TV (or work), I made my first notebook (with the bad TV in the background). Isn’t it cute? This one is for me because I made it and I get to decide. The next one will be for Leah so we can have a little book with all her scribbles. She loves coloring these days and I think it will be fun to look at these in a couple years. Plus, these are a lot easier to throw in a box and store than all her giant painting projects that she “makes” at daycare. It’s an easy, fast and useful DIY, my favorite kind.

Bonus: I had all the supplies in my house already. What’s your favorite quick DIY project?

Have a great weekend!
P.S. A couple cool notebooks … that, I guess, I don’t really need.

 September 20th, 2013  
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Ham, Pam & Spam

So while I have this blog, I’m not  a blogger (nor, do I really want to be one) because, well, I don’t actually post anything here very often. I’m in the middle of trying to launch my law firm and figure out what I want my professional life to look like and doing lots of interesting professional-type things that are kind-of-sort-of letting us get by. Blogging takes time away from doing that, earning money so we can pay the mortgage, being a Mom and just doing stuff I like to do. I’m doing what Penelope Trunk probably, almost definitely, would recommend that you do not do when starting a blog. That is, posting when I’m not watching TV or doing something else. But so what? I’ll throw my 250 words into the universe now and again and see what, if anything, sticks. The thing is, no one (and I really mean no one) reads this blog, yet I get tons of spam comments. Which makes me wonder, where does all this spam come from? Is there a spam factory? Are there people in Asia earning $1 a day to post comments in the hopes that they don’t get filtered out? I’m sure it’s all automated, but still, at some point, someone somewhere typed these words into a computer: “Pull the nose bridge toward you with the index finger. At the same time, push the top of the frame with the thumb.” And then some spam bot thought it would be a good comment on my blog. I guess I could just look on the Internet and find an answer, but … spam bots, if you’re listening, let me know how it all works.




 September 18th, 2013  
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A Little Bit of Navel Gazing

So I’m pretty sure that you’re not suppose to write a lot about blogging on your blog. I mean, some people do, but I don’t think a posting about blogging (a) is really that interesting and (b) is really what I’m going for here. But I’ve also been kind of confused about what I’m trying to do here, I mean, originally I created this website purely to play around with WordPress before launching my business site (er, still under construction). Finally, I decided that my business site is going to be just that, a business site, which will not include a blog. (Side note: I’ve yet to read a legal blog that holds my interest that is actually about the law, as oppose to say, the business of law. If you know of one, please let me know and I’ll check it out.) But that left me with a nagging question, do I want a personal blog? For a while I thought, no, but I keep getting pulled back here. Clearly, there’s something I want to say, or do, or create, that is best expressed online.

Penelope Trunk (crazy, but awesome) says that your blog is suppose to have a goal. I struggled with this a lot, but I think the goal of this site is actually simple, to create a community of like-minded people. Probably women, but really, who knows. I work from home, I have a young daughter, all of this can be pretty isolating. I want to have an on-going discussion with the kick-ass people I read on the web. I want to be one of them, rather than just a lurker.

If you found this useful, I hope you will share it with a friend. You can find more goodness by me on Pinterest, Flickr and Twitter. My professional website can be found at www.sarahreganlaw.com.

 August 8th, 2013  
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Doing Things: Queens County Farm Museum


L and I had an unplanned morning yesterday and access to a car (which is unusual) , so we took a short ride to the Queens County Farm Museum. According to its website, the Farm is the longest continuously farmed site in New York State and is a great place to visit with toddlers. It’s not too big and has all the standard farm animals – cows, pigs, horses, goats, chicken etc. L seems to like animals, even if she’s a bit intimidated by them. Lately, she growls and waves hello every time she sees a dog.  We had been to the Farm a couple months ago, right before L’s first birthday. At that time she seemed to like it, even going so far as to pet the goats. It was really cool to see her reaction yesterday just a few months after our first visit. She pointed waved and growled as we roamed the farm. We even got to feed the goats! She kind of freaked out when the goats licked her hand, so I ended up feeding them while she happily watched. It quickly got way too hot for us (and many of the animals seemed to be inside) so we headed to the car after about 45 minutes. Still, it was a great (free!) way to spend an hour or so in the morning. The Farm has tons of activities and events throughout the year and a large crop of vegetables that will be ready to pick soon. I personally can’t wait for the pumpkins this fall.

Happy Tuesday!




 July 16th, 2013  
 Day Trips Near NYC  
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A Work in Progress

Happy Thursday! Since I’ve started working from home, I haven’t had a real office. I kind of worked all over the house, spreading papers all around me and then piling them back up when the family came home. Over the last month or so, I realized that I needed to get serious about creating a little place in the house that was my dedicated work space. I spent some time looking at desks and chairs and this and that, just dreaming about the perfect space (ah … Pinterest). But then I realized, like usual, I was getting way too far ahead of myself. For now, I decided to make my life easy – I needed a table and a chair. Everything else could come later. Fortunately, I already owned both. So last week I cleaned out the guest room/office that still had a couple boxes left over from our move. This week, Tim and my father moved the table upstairs – thank you!! Now, I have an office! Hooray!



Nothing fancy, but it’s mine. I have grand plans for this little nook, which I promise to share as it comes together.

Have a wonderful day!

If you found this useful, I hope you will share it with a friend. You can find more goodness by me on Pinterest, Flickr and Twitter. My professional website can be found at www.sarahreganlaw.com. 



 July 11th, 2013  
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Wednesday Link Round-Up

Happy Wednesday! Back when I was living the dream as a corporate attorney, Wednesdays were somewhat of a mixed bag. If I was busy on Wednesday, there was still hope that if I worked hard, focused and stayed late, if needed, that I wouldn’t have to work all weekend. If I wasn’t busy on Wednesday it inevitably meant that work would come in late Friday and need to be done by Monday. Slow Wednesdays were never a good sign. These days Wednesday is about getting stuff done. But, if you happen to find yourself in need of a little distraction while waiting for someone here are some fun links:

  • Lucky Magazine’s “How to Tie a Fishtail Braid” (via Into The Gloss)
  • I love this post about what a safe baby crib looks like (i.e. nothing like the photos on Pinterest).
  • Have you heard The Lumineer’s song “Hey Ho”? L likes to sing along! There’s really nothing sweeter than a 1-year old yelling Hey! Ho! Slightly out of time.
  • I wrote this post a couple years ago on a DIY version of Rodin’s Face Oil. My plan is to move over the couple useful posts I wrote a million years ago on Tumblr, but I have to figure out the logistics.
  • This baking soda and lemon trick really works! Like really, truly amazingly. I should have taken before & after shots of my sink because it was like magic. I’m completely a baking soda convert now.
  • I’ve been making soy candles lately (more on that soon). I really like the packaging of these candles from 11th & Grand’s Etsy shop.

The Cubana Cafe on Smith Street in Brooklyn has the best mojitos. (Image Credit: Caviera)

If you found this useful, I hope you’ll share it with a friend. You can find more goodness by me on Pinterest, Flickr and Twitter.

 July 10th, 2013  
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How I Got Better Pictures on My iPhone



As Leah’s grown, I’ve had to adapt and find new tricks for capturing all the amazingly cute things she’s doing. A couple months ago, I could sit her in front a blank wall, hand her a toy and shoot. But now she won’t sit still for two seconds let alone a couple of minutes. So I thought it would be worth it share how I’ve gotten better pictures on my iPhone.

  • Natural Light – Forget the flash on the iPhone, it blows everything out and makes everything ugly. In my opinion, its not worth using. Ever. Instead I rely on natural light and try to find opportunities to shoot outside. When we moved into our house, I took some time to observe the light around our new space. Once I knew when and where the light comes in I was able to try to have Leah play in that area when I wanted to get a couple pictures.
  • Take Many (Many) More Shots Than You Think You Need  – Sometimes I’m just taking pictures, because I love taking and having pictures of my daughter. Other times, though, I need a picture for a particular purpose – a birthday invitation or a present for Grandma, for example. Especially when I’m shooting with a purpose I take a lot more pictures than I think I need. For one thing, sometimes it’s hard on the iPhone to really, truly tell if everything is in focus and looks the way I want it to. Also, sometimes, when I keep shooting, I get a shot that’s better than the original shot that I thought was “it.” To make this easier, I downloaded the ProCamera App, which allows for high speed shooting. With toddlers that are constantly moving and grabbing at the camera, I love having the ability to take multiple photos at a high speed. The picture above is one of my favorites from a series of about 25 pictures I took using the ProCamera app using its high speed function.
  • Forget the Zoom –  My preferred method of shooting is to get down low and up close. Without a professional camera, I find the zoom really doesn’t work very well. The pictures tend to be pixelated and blurry. Getting down at Leah’s level and getting relatively close (i.e. far enough away so that she can’t grab the camera but close enough that I can see her blue eyes) has resulted in the best pictures. Also, I like to generally set up the shot I want and then look up from the camera and make eye contact with Leah. Kids know when you’re distracted playing with the camera and when you’re interacting and paying attention to them. By looking up, smiling and engaging with Leah I get more smiles and funny faces. Just like adults know when you’re distracted checking email and thinking about work, kids know when you’re present playing with them and when you’re mentally somewhere else. The best pictures come from quiet observation and being present.



 May 23rd, 2013  
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