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Monday, November 13, 2017

Holiday Helpers: The Stationery Studio

I am the WORST at holidays. I am not a big fan of festive holiday home decor, at least in our house, and I seldom manage to get holiday cards out on time. This year, though, I've got an ace up my sleeve. The Stationery Studio has a great selection of  christmas-cards that can be personalized to fit any family… even ours! Their designs range from simple and casual to elegant and foil-embellished.

We don't really do the formal family portrait thing (are you really surprised?), so I decided to use one of the first day of school candid shots I took of the kids this year. The design I chose was the Red Pine Trees Holiday Personalized Photo Card, which features a single family photo on one side, with a bold geometric pattern reminiscent of a Christmas tree forest on the reverse.

Much to my surprise and delight, the quality card stock and lustrous matte finish of the printing made my iPhone snapshot look almost… professional. Certainly intentional, at the very least! The cards and envelopes arrive in a heavy weight linen-textured keepsake box that makes it easy to keep everything in one place.

It's not even Thanksgiving and I have the holiday cards ready to be stuffed with this year's school portraits. Thanks to The Stationery Studio for kicking our holiday season into high gear.

Disclosure: In accordance to the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I have received product samples to facilitate this review but all opinions here are decidedly my own.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Ready For Orbit? Space Nation Seeks to Unearth Your Full Potential

Having your head in the clouds isn't such a bad thing. In fact, Helsinki-based startup Space Nation wants everyone in the world to be shooting for the stars, literally!

As it says on their recently launched website, "The Space Nation Astronaut Program turns your smartphone into a ticket to the stars. It’s the first free global astronaut training program. Anyone with a mobile device can take part."

The Space Nation app is currently in beta testing and is due to be released to the general public in February 2018. I have been lucky enough to get a sneak peek behind the scenes and it is going to be a gamechanger for everyday people who dream of one day traveling beyond Earth. The app will encourage users to build skills in science, teamwork, self-awareness, and other fields that will help them in their quest to become astronauts. Top app users will be recruited from all over the world to attend a real-life astronaut camp to train for a final competition, with the ultimate winner actually getting to participate in a trip to space!

Since its founding in 2013, Space Nation has broken crowdfunding records, acquired lab space on the International Space Station (ISS) and become the first space member of the United Nation’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO. This is no fly-by-night operation. Space Nation is making the dream of space very real, indeed.

With this week's launch of Space Nation Orbit, a lifestyle magazine for hopeful future astronauts, Space Nation is looking to build a community of content creators and social media influencers to help share their mission. My longtime blog friends Katja and Candice are currently mining the talent pools of New York City, but they are always on the lookout for good recruits:

I will be signing on to Space Nation's maiden voyage and I hope you will join me in Space Nation Orbit. I'll be contributing over there as a team member, too!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Amazing Deals on Kansas Pork at Costco Wichita

Last week, the butchers at work ground, stuffed, and linked half a ton of pork into sausages for the King Wiener contest at Bloktoberfest. It was a veritable pig-apalooza, which seems fitting since October is National Pork Month. In fact, we should all be celebrating Porktoberfest!

Pork has always been a family favorite. My mother is from Okinawa, where pork is a staple protein. She prefers the stewed, braised pork dishes, but the thin-pounded crispy tonkatsu cutlet – similar to the German schnitzel – still tops my last meal wishlist. On the other side of the family, my Alabaman grandmother taught me the ways of spicy vinegar-sauced pulled pork BBQ when I was little. Add in Chinese char siu, European charcuterie, and Peter Brady's pork chops and applesauce and it's clear that pork holds a special place on our family table.

What I didn't grow up with, oddly, is the simple and delicious pork loin. This incredibly versatile and affordable cut is very lean and can be used for just about anything. Pork tenderloin is tender and mild in flavor, lending itself well to marinades and sauces. Even better, it can be cooked quickly – ready in just about 20 minutes on the grill and just a bit longer roasted in the oven. It makes a satisfying and nutritious weeknight supper without too much fuss.

Kansas Pork has worked with Kansas Corn, and the National Pork Board to offer some amazing  sale prices on pork at Costco in Wichita to celebrate Porktober! During the week of October 16-22, Wichita Costco shoppers will enjoy a instant redeemable coupon (IRC) good for $2.50 off per package of pork. With regular prices already very competitive on the twin packs of pork tenderloins, this is a remarkable value. If you have a Costco membership, it's time to stock up your freezer!

"If you cook it just right, it cuts like butter" - @HogFarmerMom Saucy Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin
4 pound pork loin center roast boneless, (untied), fat and silver skin trimmed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 to 9 slices bacon
1 cup barbecue sauce purchased PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer to plate and cool for 10 minutes. Wrap bacon slices vertically around pork roast; do not overlap bacon. Tie lengthwise and crosswise with kitchen string to hold bacon in place; tuck loose ends of bacon under string. Place on a rack in a roasting pan, tucked-bacon side down. Roast on rack for 15 minutes. Turn pork over and reduce temperature to 350ºF and roast for 15 minutes. Remove rack and return pork to pan, tucked-end side up. Roast, turning occasionally until bacon is browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast reads 145ºF, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Skim fat from pan juices, leaving browned juices in pan.Add barbecue sauce and preferred ingredient (*see below) and bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring to loosen browned bits in pan; simmer 2 minutes.Remove strings, carve pork, and serve with sauce portions *Preferred Ingredient • Savory: Whisk 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard into the sauce. • Spicy: Stir in 2 tablespoons pickled jalapenos chilies (nacho slices), drained and finely chopped, into the sauce. • Fruity: Stir one 8.25-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained, into the sauce. • Smoky: Stir in 1 or 2 minced canned chipotle chilies in adobo into the sauce. #eatpork #eater #huffposttaste #buzzfeast #buzzfeedtasty #tastingtable #forkyeah #carnivore #foodandwine #mycommontable #eeeeeats #yahoofood #bacon #foodgawker #meatcraft#f52grams #beautifulcuisines #thekitchn #buzzfeedfood
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Costco Wichita will feature pork tenderloin sampling on October 21st.

For other recipe ideas, be sure to check Pork Be Inspired and

Disclaimer: I have been lucky enough to work with the kind folks at Kansas Pork in the past and I probably will in the future, although I declined to be compensated for this post.