Food Friday: Staple Pantry Goods

As promised, here are my lists of staples for the pantry. You will notice that not everything here is a superfood. That is because there are special occasions like birthdays which require treats. Not only are these events important for family and social life, but it is important to learn how to use restraint and have a small single portion of an indulgent treat made after a healthy meal. Bon appetite ! 


  • Cornmeal for Polenta
  • Quinoa
  • Oats for baking and hot cereal


  • short or long grain brown ( preferably basmati)
  • wild rice
  • black forbidden rice
  • sushi rice


  • whole grain and gluten free pasta, i.e. spaghetti or penne
  • Oils and fats
  • Canola, for higher heat cooking
  • olive, extra virgin, for medium heat cooking
  • olive, extra virgin, cold pressed, for dipping.
  • sesame oil for flavor
  • flavored oils
  • coconut oil

Some basic spices and herbs

  • kosher salt
  • pepper, preferably whole peppercorns
  • lemon pepper
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • basil
  • sage
  • chili
  • cumin
  • paprika
  • garlic, fresh and powdered
  • ginger, fresh and powdered
  • cinnamon
  • cloves

 Canned and jarred goods

  • tomato sauce
  • diced or stewed tomatoes
  • tomato paste
  • canned olives
  • canned pineapple for pizza or stir fry
  • various beans, like black, pinto, garbanzo
  • pickles
  • sauces like soy
  • chilis, diced
  • canned salmon
  • coconut milk
  • all the jams, jellies, chutneys, and pickles that you have canned : ) 
  • vinegars like apple cider vinegar, balsamic, rice

Dried things

  • raisins
  • dried cranberries
  • sun dried tomatoes in oil

Baking Ingredients

  • whole wheat flour, I prefer fine grind for the most protein and the heaviest bread
  • whole wheat pastry for pie crust
  • unbleached flour if you must have it
  • gluten free flour for those who require it
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • cream of tartar
  • cornstartch or tapioca powder for thickening pies
  • sugar, white, brown cubed and powdered
  • chocolate chips
  • bakers chocolate 2 forms, blocks and powder
  • expresso powder
  • sweetened coconut
  • molasses, agave, honey
  • Nuts (see the freezer section in future posts) 


  • a complete selection of chai and coffees, including decaffeinated versions of each
  • teas: black, green, and herbal
  • Soda water, or Perrier or Pellegrino to splurge

Stay tuned for the fridge and freezer sections next week on Food Friday ! 

Structure Sunday: The Structure of Your Home Office

Today's women have to do it all. Homemakers and professionals alike need a home office to do all that they need to do. Here are my tips for what goes into a home office, and what should take place there. 

I have also included some great resources about home offices. 


Three setups tailored to your budget:

The Essentials:

  • A place to write and store your life management things. 
  • Day runner with addresses, calendar, and notes or smartphone with same features. 
  • Backup for your smartphone if you have one. ( ? cloud) 
  • Writing implements, pens, pencils, highlighters, markers 
  • Spiral notebook to centralize and keep notes ( instead of sticky notes everywhere)
  • A few sticky notes even so 
  • Filing box and files 

Nice to have: 

  • Laptop with internet access 
  • Software 
  • Spreadsheet like Excel for Windows or Numbers for Apple  
  • Word processor like Word for Window
  • Photo storage and processing software. 
  • Bulletin or marker board for ideas, art and planning 
  • Bookshelves 
  • File cabinet 
  • A decent camera


  • Printer/fax/scanner
  • Nice speakers
  • Nice headphones 
  • IOS device like ipad 
  • an extra monitor 
  • A good camera


Ideas for your home office schedule


At the beginning of your day...

  • Leave your home office alone. Get your health related things done first, like working out, bathing, and eating a healthy breakfast. 


 In your home office work time… 

  • Check your email twice per day. Don’t do it reflexively. 
  • Leave social media closed until tasks are finished. 
  • Add every new contact into your address book AS THEY COME IN.
  • Keep a spread sheet of your budget. 
  • Use accounting software like Mint, which is free, ibank, which is cheap, or Quicken, to keep your bank, loan and credit card accounts in order. 
  • Set up bills to pay automatically or put reminder notices in your calendar program. 
  • Store your photos digitally, and backup those and your other documents two ways, the cloud, and a cheap external hard drive. 
  • Work on your projects in sessions about 45-90 minutes long. Then get up and stretch and drink some fluids. 
  • Develop a system of file keeping. You may like Evernote which is free. You can organize anything into albums. In side the albums are notes where you can put text, documents, picture, sound, movies, links, or anything. 


At the end of the day

  • Review your calendar and plans for the next day. 
  • Chart any nutrition or fitness data that you are working with on a daily basis. Make sure the method is simple and fast. 

At the end of the week

  • Review your calendar and plans for the next week. 


Home offices can be a lot of fun. They are ground zero for domestic creativity. Think recipes, projects with kids, projects for the house, tracking that workout and budgeting for that vacation. Knowledge is power and organization will put it to work. 

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Structure Sunday: Things that help keep me organized

I am not naturally organized. If left to my own devices, I would go deep. For example, I would knit for a whole day. I would read entire books, workout a little too much, or cook overly complicated meals. I don't lack for inspiration or tenacity. What I work towards, is balance and rhythm in my schedule. 

I am almost 53 and smart enough by now to seek outside advice. Lots of it. All the time. I have learned that I need it. At this point in my life, a big source of inspiration are my co- workers. They are the common sense ones. A person always needs that kind of people in their life. If you don't have any, I suggest you find some. 

Beyond that, my books and other media are very important for me. I read a self improvement article from one source or another two to three times a week. I have a couple solid go-to books on time management, and they never cease to help. Finally,  I listen to a selection of podcasts when I am in the car or doing things like folding laundry. These are weekly audio blogs on various topics, all collected for my listening pleasure by subscription, for free, on my smartphone, which hooks by bluetooth or cord into the stereo of my car or my house. I can set the settings to keep only the recent episodes, so there are no worries about all my space getting used up. To get podcasts, at least in the apple world, you go to the app store, or open the podcast app on your phone. I am sure it is just as easy for other platforms ( yeah right ; ) You'll have to pick your own topics. I defy you to find a topic that is not without a podcast. From chess to chocolate you will not be disappointed. 

For books, I recommend The Everything Time Management Book. It is clear and fun to read. My favorites are from the Harvard business review series ( the HBR series) and my favorite of those is Getting the Right Work Done. I will make sure to include these in my Amazon store which is under the Retail Therapy link in the left menubar. 

Bute even better and more up to date are articles in key magazines. I like learning about the science of human productivity and how it informs the way we conduct our lives. What does science say about habits ? What does it say about sleep or the way we study ? There's a lot to learn even in the social sciences about things like how to manage our feelings, and how we should communicate in order to get along. 

It takes a lot of reading to follow all this, and so I try to chose strategically. First, I set up a good home page on my laptop. My current one is through Yahoo, and I have it customized to the hilt. I also have a good few news reader apps. My faves are Flipboard and Currents, and these are also highly customizable. 

I still crave some paper, so I get a selection of key magazines, like Wired, Scientific American and Real Simple, to name a few. But more and more, I am choosing digital magazine versions. Oftentimes, but not always, digital versions come with the paper subscription, as long as you can log in with your subscription number. ( You all know that a subscription is much much cheaper than buying individual issues, right ? ) Digital magazines allow you to have all of your reading with you all of the time. 

Make sure there is a time for everything important in your day. Whether you are a stay a home mom or a busy executive, you should prioritize and block it out like the president. Just don't forget to block out some time every week to reassess and improve the way you keep yourself organized.