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Tag Archives: RipeTrack


7 links

So glad Kristy tagged me to do this fun 7 links post that’s been circling the blog world. I’ve had so much fun reading through old but notable posts on other blogs and it was fun to have a reason for me to look back over some of my own.

My 1 year blogaversary is coming up next month, so this is a good time to look back on where I’ve been over the last year…

The Goal

To unite bloggers in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.

The Rules

  • Blogger is nominated to take part.
  • Blogger publishes his/her 7 links of his/her blog – 1 link for each category.
  • Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part.
  • The best posts from participating bloggers will be posted on the Facebook, Twitter, and Blog at #My7Links

Most Beautiful: Honeymoon part 2: Kyoto

I decided to go with the most visually beautiful post because I don’t tend to write “inspriational” or “motivational” posts, which I think is what was intended for this category.

When Jeff and I honeymooned in Japan, Kyoto was the place that was burned most deeply into our hearts. It was rainy and gloomy for the entire 4 days we were there, and yet Kyoto was made even more beautiful by the cold quiet fog hanging in the air around us, by the clouds of mist draped low over the verdant mountains, and by the Kamo-gawa river full of rain and life making it’s rushing music just outside the window where we slept.

While Japan was certainly a new world for us full of confusion and curiosity, there were a few brief moments in Kyoto while walking along the Kamo hand in hand that both of us felt like we’d been there our entire lives and never wanted to leave. I still miss that misty place.


Most Popular: Kevin and Ashley’s wedding

Fade edge wedding cake

It was the culmination of a week-long foray into wedding cake baking. I was so honored that my brother-in-law Kevin and his now wife Ashley asked me to bake their wedding cake for them, the only problem being that I had never baked a wedding cake before and was completely unfamiliar with some of the tools and techniques it takes to make it all happen.

I watched countless YouTube videos to learn each little part that I’d never tried before and spent hours practicing to make sure I could actually deliver what I’d promised. I can now say that I feel absolutely confident that I could do this again, and even better now that I’m more familiar with the process.

It made me so happy to see everyone following along with me during my epic cake baking week and the responses to the finished product were huge!


Most Controversial: Decatur Craft Beer Festival

I got some flack for this one after I posted a link to it on a local Decatur blog. Although I appreciated the hard work and countless volunteers that went into making this festival happen, I just really didn’t enjoy it. Decatur has an amazing beer culture and I expected a better festival here, so my criticisms came from a place of pride in my town rather than lack of appreciation for it. Still, I had many angry locals slamming me for saying negative things about their beloved beer festival, not just on my blog but on the blog I posted my link to. I still stand by my assessment though and I’m glad I was honest about it.


Most Helpful: How to season a Yixing clay teapot

Fully seasoned Yixing teapot

I have a couple of “how tos” on the blog but this one is the one I’m most proud of.

Jeff and I are both tea nerds and have started a small but growing collection of authentic teaware. We’ve learned a lot about how to care for these items and how to use them to their greatest potential. Anytime a new pot enters our home it needs to be seasoned, much like a cast iron pan, to allow it to brew it’s best cup of tea. We had fun learning all about how to achieve this with the pot you see above, a Yixing clay beauty that we use exclusively for brewing pu-erhs (aged and fermented Chinese black teas.)


Surprise Success: Apple bars with cinnamon “cream cheese”

I created this recipe during a month of vegan cooking. I wasn’t really sure what I was making when I started, I think I was going for a raw bar but they wouldn’t hold together so I baked them. A Toffutti “cream cheese” icing topped them off and surprisingly they ended up delicious. Not bad for a total experiment.

The bars were a surprise success even back when I made them, but they skyrocketed when Angela of OhSheGlows featured them in her Recipe Link Love series. After that they got shared on a couple of sites around the web and to this day they’re still my most viewed recipe.

I only wish that my photography had improved by the time I made these, it pains me a little to see such terrible photos representing my blog around the web. Oh well. :)


Not Enough Attention: Cold cure drink to kick the sick

Every time I or Jeff get sick I make this drink to nurse us back to health. Seriously, it completely knocks out a cold in 2 days if you make a ton of it and sip at it constantly. It has worked for me every time.

I’ve brought it up again a few times on the blog and recommended it to sick blog friends, but I don’t think it’s ever really gotten the attention it deserves. This stuff is magic people, you have no idea!

One reason that I think no one ever makes it is because it has so many ingredients, and if you’re sick you’re not in the mood to go out and get them if you don’t already have everything. So I’ll say this: The ginger and cayenne are the most important. If you have nothing else, those two in hot water or your favorite hot tea will do fine. Hey, no one said it would taste good, it’s medicine!


Most Proud: Introducing RipeTrack

RipeTrack homepage

This here is my little baby….RipeTrack.

Jeff and I worked on creating this produce seasonality database for many long months before finally debuting it on the blog. It made me so happy to hear all of your congratulations and praise for our hard work. It’s still the post that I’ve received the most comments on and I’m so proud that it was this one.

We’ve been meaning to do some work on the site for a while but we’ve both been caught up with personal projects. Someday though, we hope to turn RipeTrack into the best source for seasonal eating on the web!


I’m supposed to tag 5 people to do this post on their own blog, but I’m already a little late in the game and I think that everyone I would tag has already been tagged. So, if you want to do the 7 links post and haven’t been tagged yet, consider yourself tagged!

Do you have a favorite post of mine? What’s your favorite post on your own blog?


Salad season

First of all, THANK YOU, to everyone that checked out RipeTrack and left such wonderful feedback!

This project has been on my mind for a long time now and it feels so good to finally get to share it with everyone. Based on comments, it seems like we’re going in the right direction with how to take this site to the next level.

And it’s just in time too. Spring has sprung and so many fruits and vegetables are coming into season right now. Lettuces, avocados, and even pineapple are all on my radar for the end of this month.

And right now, all I can think about are salads! Normally, I’m not a big salad person, but for some reason nothing else will do right now.

I had this amazing Thai salad with marinated tofu at Raging Burrito over the weekend…

Thai salad at Raging Burrito

And yeah, maybe a margarita or two was involved. 😉

Yesterday I made a salad of mixed lettuces, broccoli, dulse, pistachios, Annie’s roasted red pepper dressing, and sesame seeds. Served it up with some Pacific creamy tomato soup.

Tomato soup and salad

And today I wanted that same salad, but I jazzed it up with some dried cranberries and had a sliced asian pear with cinnamon on the side.

Salad and asian pear

I’ll probably want another tomorrow, I gobbled all those up like they were brownies.

So now that fresh spring produce is bountiful, I’ll be sure to fill my plate with it and keep using RipeTrack to anticipate all the new and delicious fruits and vegetables as they come into season.

Know how else you can tell spring is here?

Lucas sheds his winter coat

Gross! I think we lost half a cat on that one!


Introducing: RipeTrack

I am so excited to present something to you today that is the product of many months of hard work on the part of my husband and I.

RipeTrack logo

Introducing: RipeTrack –  A searchable produce seasonality calendar to help you keep track of when your favorite fruits and vegetables are in season and at the peak of ripeness!

We’ve been working on this site for several months, but the real catalyst came several years ago. Allow me to tell you a little story about me and sour strawberries…

For years, I had the bad luck of buying carton after carton of gorgeous red strawberries that would all inevitably turn out to be sour and unripe. Strawberries are one of my very favorite fruits, favorite foods even, and I hadn’t had a sweet one in years. Not to mention that berries are notoriously expensive, so I was even more angry that not only was I not getting the experience I wanted from those finicky little fruits, but I was throwing money away as well.

Strawberries and clementine

Last year I made the decision that I was going to try my hardest to not buy some of the more sensitive fruits and vegetables out of season. I ran into one major problem with my shift toward more seasonal eating though, I had a very hard time finding out just when I could expect each item to become ripe in a typical year.

Searching online would often turn up vague seasonality information if at all and usually the answer was hidden deep within a lengthy article. I wished that there was a faster way for me to find out when the best time was to buy my beloved strawberries, and really, the best time to buy all of our produce.

Jeff had been asking me to come up with a project to work on together in our spare time (he’s a programmer/web developer,) and suddenly it hit me that together we could build a database of the seasonal ripeness information for every fruit and vegetable imaginable and make it available on the web!

And so, RipeTrack was born!…

RipeTrack homepage


There are 3 ways to use RipeTrack: You can search by the individual item you’re looking for, you can search by month to view everything that’s ripe during that time, or you can search by keyword to view everything of a certain topic.

For example, here I’ve searched for “berry.”

RipeTrack search "berry"

The results are displayed for all berries in the database, neat huh!?

To read the graphs, just move your cursor over the graph and up pops a grid showing the months of the year. The bracketed area represents what part of the year we’re in now.

See, I took this shot on the last day of March, and that’s the bracketed area.

RipeTrack graph with months

The yellow and green areas show when the item is ripe. For the strawberry shown above, you can expect it to be considered ripe from late April to early November. But to insure that you get the sweetest and juiciest strawberries, purchasing during the green “peak season” is more likely to get you the best berry for your buck.

The red areas correspond to when the item is not ripe. You will still probably be able to find the item in stores, but you can bet that it was either grown in a greenhouse or shipped from across the world. For some items, you won’t notice a diminished quality during the off-season, but for others like the tomato, they just won’t be nearly as good in October as they will be in June.

The really cool thing about RipeTrack though is that it’s interactive. If you come upon an item that doesn’t have any information on it yet, and you think you know when it will be ripe, just submit a feedback form and we’ll add your input to the site!

No information on search

Feedback form

We’re hoping that over time, the information on RipeTrack will get more and more accurate with user feedback to become the most complete and reliable source for seasonal shopping on the web!

So, I really hope that you guys are as excited about this website as I am. I know that it’s something that did not exist on the web previously and that it’s something that I have really needed.

We have many more features planned for RipeTrack in the future including how to choose a ripe fruit or vegetable at the store, a monthly newsletter of what’s in season and what’s not, and even a way for you to save your favorite produce and compare lists with other users!

If you have a moment, please visit the site today and experiment with searching for items, months, or keywords. I would love to hear your ideas on how we could improve the site or any other suggestions or comments you may have. I may link to a short online survey about it soon to get some of your opinions anonymously as well.

That’s the big announcement. NO, I’m not pregnant, sorry everyone. 😉 But RipeTrack has been my little baby for the last few months and I’m as proud of it as a new mom. Please tell me what you think!