Oh Simple Joys

Pursuing Balance Blog Design

Rachel Cox1 Comment

2015 was such an exciting year for me with my design freelancing. I am completely self taught as many of you that have been around here awhile know. So to continue to see this business grow and mature has been such an exciting journey for me. I began by doing blog designs here and there and now while I still offer blog design services my clients have become much more diverse. 

Samantha and Nicole contacted me about designing there blog and I was so excited to have a blog design to work on in the midst of my other project. These two ladies are both so filled with passion I knew it was going to be fun to collaborate together. They were a joy to work with. Pursuing Balance is their joint lifestyle blog that chronicles their journey to a life of balance. Their wit and charm is seen in every post and makes it so fun to follow along with their adventures. 

We went with a very calm color palette because the idea of pursuing balance just exudes the need for calm and peaceful colors. The deep navy and purple create some depth while the teal and khaki keep things light and airy. 

I got really into the logo design and ended up with five logo concepts this time around instead of my normal 3. Oops! Inspiration struck though. So I just went with it. I played around with some scale drawing and various fonts that were whimsical yet still professional and clean. 

Nicole and Samantha chose the second logo concept and I think t is perfect. Very simple and clean while still being feminine and unique. 

Overall this was a great project thanks to Nicole and Samantha for being such easy clients to please. They made this job a breeze, and I cannot recommend enough that you go check out their witty and practical blog! Visit them by clicking the button below! 

Formula for Planning 6 Meals in 30 Minutes or Less (plus 1 week of recipes)

Rachel Cox10 Comments

Ok I need to be honest here...for the first few years of marriage meal planning was a weekly task that really stressed me out. Anybody else out there felt this way? Well I did. I could not decide on what I wanted to cook, or I would plan for 5 or 6 elaborate meals with insanely long ingredient lists...I hardly ever landed at a balance. And talk about busting the budget, yikes, but that is another post for another day. 

Awhile back I worked at a bakery as a head kitchen assistant and during my time there I began to notice something about my boss...she NEVER used recipes. Like ever, and she never had to plan meals. I was so amazed by her ability to throw ingredients together to make something delicious with minimal effort (all while running a successful business and being a mom to 9 year old triplets and a 7 year old, hello super woman), and the longer I worked closely with her the more I learned to be this way in the kitchen. 

Now, I am quite the type A personality, so not meal planning would not work for me like it did for my boss. However, I have taken the principles I learned from working at the bakery and created my own simple meal planning formula that I try to stick to every week. It is broad and really just a road map for me to keep planning simple and stress free. 

 Simple Meal Planning Formula! Super handy for making meal planning stress free and QUICK! YES!

MEAL PLANNING RULES OF THUMB 

  • MAKE IT YOUR TIME - Set aside your own uninterrupted time to get this done. I usually make out my weekly meal plan on Sunday afternoons. I will sit at the dining room table with my laptop, meal planning journal, recipe book, and a cup of coffee and go to town.
  • BROWSE RECIPES BEFORE YOU START- I take about 5-10 minutes to look through Pinterest, recipe books, and my own printed recipes before starting to meal plan. I make notes of recipes that interest me as I go. 
  • TAKE INVENTORY - Before I start planning out my meals I do a quick pantry, freezer, and fridge scan to make sure I know what I have to work with. Saves money every time. Check out my previous post on Meal Planning 101 for more tips to make the before, during, and after process less stressful also. 

Now for my super simple formula, I have five categories I try to stick to loosely. These categories help me fly through my planning, and rarely do I spend longer than 30 minutes beginning to end scratching out a meal plan for the whole week. 

 Oh Simple Joys - Meal Planning Formula   Makes Meal Planning a breeze. Easy and Fast!! YES!

2 QUICK MEALS

I say that a meal is quick if it takes less than 30 minutes from the time you cut your oven on to the time you are at the table serving your family. OR it is a meal that is frozen ahead of time, or a crock pot meal. So I try to get creative but always plan for two simple, no fuss meals. 

1 NEW OR ETHNIC MEAL

As a self proclaimed foodie I really enjoy trying new dishes. So I limit myself, for my husband's sake (he is not a huge ethnic food fan) and for the sake of our budget to one meal a week. I may try a new ingredient I have never worked with or a new technique with something as basic as chicken. This meal keeps me excited to be in the kitchen every week. 

1 MEAL IN A BOWL

Oh the endless possibilities in this category. Rice bowls are my favorite. I will use barley, quinoa or rice, add in some protein and sauteed veggies and call it a day. Salads are a great option, as is any pasta dish. HELLO CARBS IN A CREAM SAUCE!!! Also during the winter months we have some type of soup almost weekly. 

1 MEAL ON THE GRILL

As Mississippi residents it is never too cold for us to grill outside, but for those of you that may actually have a winter you can grill inside with those nifty little grill pans that can be found anywhere these days. We usually grill out once during the weekend. It feels different than our normal meals during the week so it is an exciting way for us to usher in a relaxing time off from work. 

1 REPURPOSED MEAL

Repurposed meals are my favorite because they push me to get creative. Basically I take any leftovers from the week and make a dish out of it. Sometimes it may be a soup, other times it may be a frittata or quiche, and other it is simply breakfast for dinner night. Creativity is key in this category.

1 DATE NIGHT

Last but not least, my husband and I have an out to eat date night once a week. Because who doesn't love a night off?! 

 Oh Simple Joys - Meal Planning Formula   Makes Meal Planning a breeze. Easy and Fast!! YES!

Meal planning can be simple when you follow this easy formula. Think of it as a simple road map to help you detour stress and to save time!! Below I have listed our meal plan for this week (by category) for you all to use as an example. 

Quick Meals -

New / Ethnic Meal - 

Meal in a Bowl - 

  • Chicken Noodle Soup (also a repurposed meal made with broth from bones of the flat roasted chicken, leftover chicken meat, leftover veggies - BIG MONEY SAVER right here!!)

Meal on the Grill - 

Repurposed Meal -

  • Mixed veggie, sweet potato, and kale frittata (not really a recipe on this one, I just follow my gut)

How do you make meal planning less stressful? I would love to hear your tips and tricks! Have questions? Drop me a line!

Cookies & Grace Brand Launch + We bought a house!

Rachel Cox4 Comments

Somehow Christmas, News Years Eve, and 2016 all snuck up on me. I blame it on the void of routine in my life right now, but man I just love fresh starts so I am trying to still seize the spirit of a new year even though we are a few days in. Many of you follow me on social media so you know that Ben and I just moved to Clinton, MS, bought a house, AND are renovating said house (are we crazy or what?!). We are super happy, super tired, and super thankful for the provision that this house is for us. 

In the midst of all the crazy I nearly forgot to highlight this gorgeous client of mine, Cookies & Grace. Author and baking extraordinaire, Ali Grace, was a joy to work with and is so much fun to follow. Her blog is all about raw truth and sweets, so of course you should check it out. Ali Grace wanted a very professional look while still having some whimsy and pops of her favorite colors. 

For her inspiration board I pulled in images with elements that nod to her passion for baking while also giving off a cozy vibe that describes Ali Grace's personality to a T. The navy and mustard are such a fun color combo. 

Logo concepts are always the most daunting and exciting part of the design process for me. They are scary sometimes because you have no idea what the client will think, but exciting because your creative juices are allowed to flow at an all time high speed. I pulled in brush lettering, professional fonts, and some fun graphics to create four unique logo concepts. Ali Grace chose a variation of the first logo, and we got to work on the rest. 

I also was able to design business cards for this sweet lady and I loved being able to bring in all the shades of blue along with the logo. They turned out great! 

Overall this was one of my favorite projects to work on, it was so whimsical and fun, and getting to know my clients during our Skype chats and endless emails is always the best part of the job. Be sure and click the button below to see the live site in action, and say hello to Ali Grace! (you will seriously be drooling over her gorgeous cookies!!)

If you or someone you know is interested in logo design, website design, branding, or print design be sure to check out my design process, packages and portfolio. My 2016 design schedule has several openings and I would love to work with you! 

Also, for those interested below is my picture of our house, new post coming soon giving you the "before" tour!