One thing I’ve been particularly horrible at is learning to say “no”.
The Long Road to Becoming a Better Blogger
They say hindsight’s 20/20, and if my old report cards are an indication of anything, the people around me could see I was sowing the seeds to my destruction long before I could.
We all know there’re only twenty-four hours in a day, but I’ve been working to optimise every minute of my days since I was twelve. I could sleep when I was dead—I had too many ideas and a plethora of interests; it was all about the short-term pain for the long-term gain, and I was confident that I’d reach the day where I wouldn’t need to work so hard anymore.
But it’s been more than twenty years of sleepless nights and wishful thinking since, and I’m still not quite so sure when I’ll figure it all out.
I mean, the question is this—how do you succeed with your content when you can’t make it your everything?
If there’s one thing we know about Toronto, it’s that our weather is not consistent. May felt like July. Early June felt like March. It threw everyone in the city for a loop, its people feebly trying to make plans in a climate that wouldn’t play nice.
And it can suck—Toronto has a short enough summer as it is, leaving us longing for the sun on our faces and open spaces in all those months of BRRR.
But one thing you don’t need to give up is your grill.
A staple of just about any summer celebration ever, the grill brings people together. It connects with something deep and primal within ourselves, preparing food in ways that other methods never seem to meet.
But it’s so dependent on the weather. Some unexpected rain or a dip in the temperature quickly makes for uncomfortable grilling, so you’d better have a Plan B for when the weather sends your party plans plummeting south.
Friends—let me tell you all about the Hamilton Beach 4-in-1 MultiGrill—the small kitchen appliance that’ll give you a backyard barbecue feel even when Mother Nature has other ideas.
People often underestimate just how much of a difference a robust set of culinary skills can make in your life! As one who routinely goes out for lunch every day, eating the same ol’ same ol’ gets tiring pretty quickly—you shouldn’t let your neighbourhood dictate what food winds up on your plate, and that’s precisely what happens if you refuse to cook for yourself!
And that’s my problem—after realising how limited I was as a cook when working for my Dad and how inefficient I am when compared to Sarah, my motivation for cooking was… minimal.
But I’m not a teenager cooking chicken for the masses anymore. And I’m certainly not the same man as Casey the bachelor a decade ago. As I grew older, my palate grew along with me, and the simple fare that once did the trick just didn’t cut it anymore. A quick slice at Pizzaiolo made way for authentic wood-fired Neapolitan-style pies. Chipotle burritos replaced by the authentic Mexican fare at a local joint. My renewed interest in ingredients meant my takeout tastes couldn’t keep up… it was time I returned to the kitchen!
But you come to learn that great cooking requires some great tools, which makes it great that Hamilton Beach is backing me up with the appliances that’ll help me take my skills to the next level!
Hamilton Beach and Me — This Delicious Food Isn’t Going to Make Itself!
So yes—I’ve joined up as a Hamilton Beach Ambassador, which means I’ll be posting throughout the year about the awesome things they have to offer to get your culinary game on point. They’ve got tools and appliances to complement just about any culinary style, so I hope you’re good and ready to get in your kitchens and experiment—things are about to get tasty!
With the Christmas decorations down and the credit cards painfully paid off, it’s time to turn our heads to more pleasant thoughts. As we creep up on February, a whole lot comes with it:
Valentine’s Day for you die-hard romantics and people with obscene amounts of disposable income
Family Day, ‘cuz y’all know we couldn’t handle the New Year’s-Easter stretch without a long weekend
And of course, for a good chunk of North Americans who keep their eyes glued to the screen all Sunday for weeks on end, the grand spectacle we al know as Super Bowl Sunday.
Now, ain’t no secret—a huge sports fan I am not—but a delicious spread is well within my abilities! Whenever I throw down, there’s all sorts of delicious goodies on the table, and Old El Paso wanted in on the spread for my fourth post in the Let’s Taco ‘Bout It series!
Old El Paso — Even for those of us a LITTLE too familiar with cooking FAILS.
So I decided to take adulthood a little more seriously in 2017.
I mean, you make some decisions as an adult because you have to—going to the job to put food on the table. Making sure your kids are clean, fed and healthy. Some things you know you need to do to keep life moving in a positive direction, but others tend to feel so much more… optional. Like going to the gym regularly. Taking your vitamins every day. Or, in my case, making cooking a part of your regular routine, no matter how much you might not feel like it.
When I put my 2017 resolutions together, I knew I’d need to deal with the elephant in the room. I always find plenty of things to fill my time—even now, I’m working on extensive content for Black History Month and Canada’s sesquicentennial—but focusing on these things alone would just be selfish. Who am I to deny my family delicious and nutritious food just because I don’t feel like it? And that’s why I took this Old El Paso challenge on with gusto.
Unless my life sees some major changes this year, 2017 may mark the last list of 100!
It’s January 13th—I’ve spent nearly two weeks of my new year agonising over 100 items that matter enough to hit a list of goals and aspirations for the year ahead. And that’s a key difference from the lists that came before it.
Before it was a task list—I’d look around at everything that needed doing and jot it down, because my life would obviously be better with them out of the way.
But task lists aren’t inspiring. They’re not motivational. As a creative, that’s like dropping a pile of 100 things I dread on my lap and nagging myself to get ’em done by the year’s end.
Once I realised what I was doing to myself, so much so that I just went through my least successful year yet for my list, I knew I needed to make a change for 2017.
I’m particularly proud of the list I’ve put together for The 2017 100. I didn’t take any shortcuts—I wrote out 100 things that’d help me live the life I’d like to lead and prove instrumental along the path there. Rather than hurriedly scrawl out a list I’d likely ignore ’til December, I wrote one that I’d happily check off, knowing that each accomplishment would take me a step closer to a far better 2018. I feel like I’m finally getting it right this time, and I hope that shines through as you give it a look for yourself!
But that’s enough of my chatter—I’ve already made you wait long enough. Here for your consideration is The 2017 100—because it’s not what you do… it’s how you do it!
So somewhere in my crazy mind, I’d convinced myself it’d be a good idea to write my wrap-up for The 2016 100 all as one post, because I’m always so curt with my posts, of course. A few days of working on it quickly killed that idea, and here were are with the second part of my wrap-up, covering the things I didn’t get around to in 2016, but still plan to manage this year, as well as my reasons why.
(Note: You will see these in some form in The 2017 100, so you know—don’t be too surprised.)
What I Didn’t Do, But Still Want to Do Next Year
7) Stop biting my nails — Ugh. What I probably need to do first is reduce the amount of stress in my life to get a better chance of dropping this disgusting habit. I had a good run early in the year, but hey. Maybe I’ll have better luck this time! 8) Get rid of the wedding thank you cards I never sent — I don’t think those past thank you’s are getting sent. It’s just… not something I’m doing. Instead, I think I’d love to start sending Christmas letters with some personalisation. I’m not a complete jackass, guys, but there needs to be a point where we agree to move on. 13) Sort out my old TD employee RSP — Any outstanding finances in general, really: part of being an adult is knowing how much your insurance will pay out. What your benefits cover. What’s in your stock portfolio. 2017 Casey Palmer needs a better handle on all this kind of stuff!
14) Consolidate everything down to a single notepad — I mean, you don’t see the magic happening, but my desk and dining room table are plastered with pages of notes as I draft out my posts. Will it happen? Maybe. Do I want it to? Oh heck yes ?
The holiday season’s a not-so-subtle reminder that my hectic life’s about to get decidedly more so.
I’m a glutton for punishment—despite already having entirely too much on my plate at my 9-5, somehow I thought it a good idea to take the photos for our Halloween party and help choreograph a group dance for a Diwali celebration. And if the Christmas season wasn’t already busy enough, three years ago we were blessed with our elder son in mid-November—one who’s now old enough to know how he’d like to celebrate with parents willing to jump through hoops to make it happen. Any logical adult would put blogging on the backburner so they could handle the rest of their lives, but those adults obviously never met me—the holiday season’s the busiest time for the #BloggerLife, so ain’t no sleep on this side of the city this season!
Toddlers wouldn’t know good food if it hit them in the face. (And if you’ve ever seen a toddler eat, you’ll know that’s exactly what it usually does.)
Feeding kids ain’t as simple as it used to be. Back in my day (I cringe that I’m old enough to say that), I remember plenty tuna casseroles, stir-fries and macaroni and cheeses. No one had the time to slave over stoves like Moms did in the ’50s and ’60s, so quick and easy were the name of the game after a hard day’s work. And even though parents have less time than ever in 2016, we’re a lot more discerning in what we eat. We scrutinize nutritional guides. Scour ingredient lists. We do everything in our power to make sure we’re not giving our families food we’ll come to regret later.
So you’ll need meals that’re both quick to produce and good for you—good thing Old El Paso’s dinnertime options provide just that!
Though the little ones are too young to appreciate theme days like Taco Tuesday, Sarah and I appreciate planning our meals well in advance. Nothing’s worse than hearing “What’s for dinner?” before you’ve even had a chance to think about the answer.
And so our second Old El Paso dish was Skinnytaste’s Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup in Old El Paso Tortilla Bowls—a meal with minimal cleanup! Being the efficient chefs that we are, we used much of the chicken from our last recipe for the meal! Interested in how we made them? Check out the recipe below:
A little while back, when everyone was celebrating that extra day we get every four years or so, I found myself lunching with a number of media types—who know far more about food than I do—over at The Annex’s Nella Cucina, a local haven for those seeking high-quality cookware to flex their culinary skills*! But I’m no chef—heck, after my start in the food service industry, I nearly vowed to never step foot in a kitchen again—and while I might not do the lion’s share of cooking around the house, I do a good deal of cleanup, and Cookina’s line of cooking sheets is perfect for people like me who don’t want to spend hours at the sink after enjoying a delicious meal.
The Cookina Parchminum — Lining Your Life With a Little More Time
The Cookina Parchminum—one box of this stuff can replace 25 boxes of aluminum foil or parchment paper, is totally non-stick, and is heat-resistant to 550°F! Ever since getting my hands on some, it’s changed how we prepare food in Casa de Palmer—when you can pop something in the oven that’d normally stick to your baking pans, but now just slide it off onto the dinner plate where it belongs, it not only saves you time and gives you more food to work with… the ridiculously easy cleanup with a little soap and water after you’re done is nothing short of amazing.
Created by Cookina Inc.—a family-owned and operated business—the Cookina Parchminum is the latest of Alain Richard’s developments in Cookina’s 3-year history, exceeding 2 million units sold in over 12,000 retail stories in 8 countries! Popular as it is, I’m surprised that I haven’t heard of it before now—seriously, if you’re ever in the habit of sticking things in your oven or on your barbecue, you should really consider getting your hands on some; I don’t know about you but my time’s at a premium, and if a company out there wants to help me get some if it back, I’m gonna give it a shot!
So when you make sheets that line your oven, cover your baking pans and keep your barbecue sparkling, how do you really let people know what they’re capable of?
Easy—you get Dee of Dee Gibson Entertains to help whip up a delicious spread with everything from tender steak to delicious cookies… all prepared with Cookina products!
Morroccan Quinoa Salad with Brown Sugar Roast Squash, Caramelized Vidalia Onions, Kale, Chick Peas, Pomegranate, pumpkin Seeds and Orange Harrissa Dressing
So there you go—the Cookina Parchminum: a new way to reclaim control of those precious hours after dinner too often spent hunched over the sink! Let’s act a little more like it’s 2016 and not 1960, and keep Cookina on the tip of your tongues instead of scrubbing our lives away—I promise you’ll thank me for it!
Until the next,
*I noted, while there, that I can never tell Sarah about this place. As someone who loves baking and cooking, the sheer amount of quality product in this shop is staggering.
SHE CAN NEVER KNOW.
Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post and review with a full set of Cookina’s liner products, including the Cookina Barbecue (a reusable grilling sheet transforming the barbecue into a clean, non-stick surface), the Cookina Cuisine (a reusable baking sheet that’s an alternative to aluminum foil, parchment and wax paper and protects your baking sheets, pans and oven), the Cookina Gard (which lines your oven to protect it from drippings), and the new Cookina Parchminum! Sarah argues that it’s quite possibly the most useful swag I’ve brought home yet. I countered with trips to Vegas and Apple TV, but hey—who’s counting?
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands:
I can’t even lie, guys — coming up with a list of 100 goals for the fourth year in a row was hard — ridiculously so. I’m a very different me than I was when The 2013 100 came out, back when free time was still an abundant commodity I didn’t even know I was taking for granted, trying to fill it with countless things that’d keep life interesting.
A problem I most definitely don’t have in 2016!
As I work at surviving the upcoming year — especially with our second child’s imminent arrival — I needed to make the list a lot more realistic; I’m all too skilled at chasing ambitions that exceed my lifestyle’s capacity, and I’ll need to keep wary of that in 2016 if I want to see myself make it out the other side!
So without further ado, The 2016 100. It took a couple of days to polish off after recovering from the gauntlet that was 2015, but I feel like it’s a list that will really make waves in this life o’ mine should I see it finished!
But hey — that’s what I say every year ????
Thanks for reading!
1) Write an amazing series for Black History Month 2) Win a vacation for my dry cleaner 3) Watch Creed; Mad Max: Fury Road; The Martian; Ant-Man 4) Take Eric to a sporting event so he can stop complaining about getting left from sporting events 5) Phase my old 3.5″ hard drive out 6) Get rid of my old electronics 7) Stop biting my nails 8) Get rid of the wedding thank you cards I never sent 9) Clean out the basement crawl space 10) Build shelves into the crawl space 11) Give my FWD Powershot 2 to my old manager the hockey coach 12) Do the CN Tower Edgewalk 13) Sort out my old TD employee RSP 14) Consolidate everything down to a single notepad
Though a chiropractor I started seeing late into 2015 told me I’d developed some mild sciatica in my back, I didn’t need him to tell me I carry too much STUFF. In a digital age where we can pack mountains of information into a single device, there’s really NO NEED for me to carry all the draft posts and note that I do — save the fact that working from hard copy’s the way my brain’s WIRED.
In 2016, I need a little more focus to keep all my ideas stored in one place so I’m not constantly carrying EVERYTHING in my house made of paper, knowing that I probably scribbled SOMETHING on ALL of ’em.
15) Sort out the Internet situation at home so I can stop relying on tethering to LTE data 16) Learn enough Spanish to understand my sister-in-law’s Mexican wedding in May 17) Find time for date nights, which will involve finding someone who wants to babysit two kids… how about we just find more awesome things to do at home, just in case? 18) Try Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake 19) Get to 0 drafts on CaseyPalmer.com by converting everything into live posts 20) Install the growth chart for my kids that we got at my office baby shower 21) Update all the old content on CaseyPalmer.com 22) Upgrade the site infrastructure to better support contest traffic 23) Redesign the heck out of the blog (Twenty Sixteen, what up) 24) Find the time to pack more lunches for work 25) Clean up and optimize my Pinterest account (I still have that copy of Pinterest Savvy lying around somewhere) 26) Shave more regularly 27) Hand out my remaining business “cep” cards so I can put in a new order (wait — do we still do business cards?) 28) Clear out the bookshelves to prepare for Baby #2 29) Replace the lost key to our 2011 Ford Edge 30) Figure out what I ACTUALLY need to run my site and invest in THAT. 31) Replace our bathroom sink 32) Meet with the people who I never seemed to schedule in through 2015 (Aaron, Emma, Ria, Adrienne, Dianna) 33) Get a Brookhaven Computer Cabinet
The 1% of the Casa de Palmer workspace I use to do all the things isn’t the best — in fact, it’s falling apart. As I get older and start formalizing my #BloggerLife, Sarah and I agree that my workspace should evolve to show that. It’ll take some saving to make it happen, but it’d be a nice addition to the home.