November 30, 2018



  1. How Americans define their dream job these days.
  2. Things you might regret when you’re older
  3. Pizza is more nutritious than breakfast cereal
  4. How dealing with past trauma can help one beat addiction.
  5. How to work from home without falling into a pit of despair.
  6. Why procrastination is bad for your brain. 
  7. How restaurants got so loud.
  8. Tears, magnified. 
  9. This is pretty exciting for Roald Dahl fans! 
  10. Things you might have forgotten about your childhood.
  11. How long does it take for a lego to pass through your body? 
  12. My mental age is 90 years old and apparently, I like cornbread muffins.
  13. I’m all for giving the gift of experiences.
  14. Parenting in a nutshell.
  15. Number 3 made me laugh. My parents should have done that with us kids.
  16. How to be creative when you’re feeling stressed.
  17. Another way open offices make you less productive.
  18. I like these public warning signs.
  19. CUTE Holiday dresses for parties: one / two / three / four
  20. To make this weekend: Instant Pot Minestrone Soup




I’m excited to announce that I am going to be part of a FOOD + MORE Week retreat at Santa Fe Photography Workshops in Santa Fe, New Mexico May 2019. I have space for 14 students in my Food Photography for Bloggers class!  This will be my second time to Santa Fe and I am so thrilled to go back. If you’re looking to brush up and/or enhance your food photography skills come take my workshop! We’ll be playing with food, light, and composition. There will also be a Farmer’s Market tour in the mix.  I’d love to have you! Read more about the workshop here:  Food Photography for Bloggers with me, Tracy Benjamin!

Other workshops happening during the week:

The Craft of Food Memoirs Writing with Molly Wizenberg

Podcasting with the Kitchen Sisters 

We’ll all be together for meals and nighttime fun, you should join us!



November 29, 2018

Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas

If you're looking to make your own Homemade Holiday Gifts this year, Tracy Benjamin from Shutterbean.com shows you all of her favorite ideas.

Now that it’s about to be December, I think it’s time we went through some of our Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas.

We have options.

We do!

I went through my archives and this is my greatest hits playlist for you:


Chocolate Earl Grey Tea Truffles

If you’re looking to wow some friends, these will do the trick. Their flavor is complex and sophisticated!

Plus you get to roll chocolate and that is fun.

Make your own Crystallized Ginger. Recipe on Shutterbean.com!

Candied Ginger

Fight colds with gifts! Ginger is a welcomed treat this holiday season.

Candied Citrus Peel

A really fun project to make with friends!

Salted Rocky Road Fudge

My mom used to make Rocky Road Fudge every year. This is my take on it!

Crunchy Peppermint Bark


November 28, 2018

Homemade Candied Ginger

Make your own Crystallized Ginger. Recipe on Shutterbean.com!

Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I turn to ginger.

Ginger is my go-to when I need a good pick-me-up.

It helps calm an upset stomach.

It opens up my sinuses.

It’s also the first thing I think of to mix in a cocktail (I love ginger beer!)

Ginger gives me that mouth burn and that heat I’m crave.

It’s in my favorite cookie.

This season I’m all about my lemon ginger elixir.

In other words, I LOVE GINGER.

Make your own Crystallized Ginger. Recipe on Shutterbean.com!

This year I am giving Homemade Candied Ginger as gifts.

The holiday season is GO GO GO season which means it’s time to up the ginger intake.

It will help promote digestion, gives people a reset, enhances cocktails and baked desserts!  It’s also one of those gifts people didn’t think they needed until they received it from you.

It’s unique.

It’s thoughtful.

There’s intention behind it (so many good uses!)

Make some.

Jar it up!

Drop off some in a friend’s mailbox.

Make your own Crystallized Ginger. Recipe on Shutterbean.com!

Notice how cute your friend’s mailbox is!

Leave a note and a flower.

Tis the season to take care of each other, one piece of candied ginger at a time.


November 26, 2018

Intentions for the Week

Looking to get your head in the game? Tracy from Shutterbean makes a weekly TO DO LIST called her Intentions for the Week. Here's what this week looks like:

Happy Monday!

Now that Cooper is back at school after Thanksgiving break, I am going to switch from entertaining/making holiday magic mode to full  HUSTLE MODE!

Are you feeling the holiday rush?  I am.

Ask yourself:

What can I do this week that will help me get ahead of schedule?

Write it down.



If you are rushing around, don’t forget to make sure you take some time to take care of yourself.

I know that it takes a lot of energy to make magic throughout the holidays.

Rest if you need to. Take a bath. Have yourself a turmeric latte,

Steer your loved one towards my favorite things from 2018 guide for self-care inspiration.

Maybe it’s about working smarter, not harder.  Can you ask for help this week? What can you ask for?

Maybe you have friends who also want to save money this holiday season AND HANG OUT?

Host your own homemade holiday gift party.  

You can get a lot done when you enlist help.

It all starts with a TO -DO list. Here are my Intentions for the Week:

Intentions for the Week:

  • laundry
  • clean out fridge
  • clean out bathrooms
  • put the tree up
  • grocery shop. GET HEALTHY FOOD.
  • decorate the house for Christmas
  • have a date with the calendar
  • return library books
  • drop off donations
  • get address book ready for holiday cards
  • write down what I eat in my food journal (coming soon!)
  • pick up piles around the house
  • get mammogram
  • trip to post office
  • do some meal prep
  • catch up on social media
  • write currently post
  • catch up on bookkeeping
  • make lists for Christmas
  • spend time outside
  • make a batch of kombucha
  • clean out car from trip
  • work on holiday packages
  • make a new homemade holiday gift for the blog
  • figure out holiday card/order
  • promote photography class I’m teaching next year in Santa Fe
  • post new products in Etsy shop (food journal & prints coming soon!)
  • be better about drinking water (this is my favorite cup these days)

Last Week’s Intentions:

  • Work on gift guide
  • Give myself permission to go slow
  • Drink enough water
  • Continue to write down what I eat in my food journal
  • Edit photos/submit to client
  • Work on invoices
  • Go to bed before 11PM
  • Track steps with my Fitbit
  • Catch up on social media
  • Find some time to be alone
  • Hang out by a body of water
  • Find fresh air
  • Spend quality time with family
  • Make pumpkin pie
  • Prep/Cook Thanksgiving dinner
  • Take a holiday card photo
  • Read a book (this is what I’m into right now)
  • Finalize Etsy stuff and post (cards! Workbook!)
  • Celebrate/honor the anniversary of my mom’s death with family dinner
  • Make some Art/write in journal
  • Pull out Christmas decorations
  • Make lists for Christmas

Mantra for the Week:


Holiday Jam:

Feeling stressed? Don’t forget to write down your Intentions for the Week. Having a TO-DO list will help give you a good PLAN OF ATTACK!

All the best, 



November 25, 2018

My Everyday Life: Week 47

Here’s what this past week looked like- My Everyday Life Week 47

Our Thanksgiving menu!

My Everyday Life: Week 47 on Shutterbean.com

How I organize my brain.

My Everyday Life: Week 47 on Shutterbean.com

TADA! My dad set the table.

Thanksgiving was out at Yank Sing for dim sum last year. It was nice to be at my parent’s house celebrating the holiday.

Here’s what our week looked like last year. I read through it this morning as part of my grieving process this weekend. Wow. A lot can happen in a year.

My Everyday Life: Week 47 on Shutterbean.com


My Everyday Life: Week 47 on Shutterbean.com

Manhattans + apps.

My Everyday Life: Week 47 on Shutterbean.com

My friend Becca sent me the most beautiful flowers.

This week was such a tender week. I am so thankful for all of the friends who gave me support and how many people who’ve I’ve never even met sent me SO MUCH LOVE. THANK YOU.

My Everyday Life: Week 47 on Shutterbean.com



November 23, 2018


 I LOVE LISTS // a collection of links from the 'net on Shutterbean.com


  1. Five Essential Christmas movies to watch with your children.
  2. How do cat’s tongues work anyway?
  3. I love looking through vintage Disneyland photos.
  4. I hope you’re not reading this from a Black Friday line. 
  5. Time to get started on your tea infused vodka!
  6. When things align perfectly. So satisfying!
  7. These bookends are so creative.
  8. Watching a panda play in the snow is good for your soul.
  9. They’ve remade the Lion King and here’s a side-by-side comparison
  10. Avocados are being genetically modified to be peeled easier.
  11. Need some gift inspiration?  My Etsy wishlist might help.
  12. Why kids like parenting toys.
  13. The blessings of aging.
  14. Teachers share their most memorable gifts from a student
  15. Why Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday
  16. No one really talks about what happens to women in their 40s
  17. There are so many pens in this post I’d love to try!
  18. I love reading posts about packing for trips.
  19. Behold! The most beautiful staircase made of copper.
  20. Did you catch my  2018 Favorite Things Gift Guide?
  21. My old-timey profession is a switchboard operator. Lol
  22. Hostess Gifts:  tea towelspersonalized pottery / a plant / retro board games


Shopping Deals for you!

Get $20 off your first book with Blurb

$35 off your first order at Eshakti- use code TRACYBENJAMIN

$25 off Stitchfix when you sign up

Earn cash back with all of your online shopping- Ebates is THE BEST. 

$10 off your first order from Instacart

30 day free trial of Amazon Prime – just in time for the holidays!

$10 off your first order at Parabo Press (great for prints!)- use code NAHOOS

$10 off your first FabFitFun box 




November 21, 2018

Favorite Things Holiday Gift Guide 2018


Shutterbean's Favorite Things (Gift Guide!) of 2018

I put together a list of my Favorite Things Holiday Gift Guide (Oprah style!) and realized that every single thing is part of my self-care toolkit.   I think after this year of grief, I’ve figured out that the most important thing for survival during tough times is taking good care of myself. Whether it’s, work, family, grief or the holidays, LIFE will take a lot out of you. I hope my favorite things help inspire you to either work on your own self-care routine or give the gift of self-care. Sometimes people need friendly reminders that they are worth the time and effort.  Newsflash: everyone is worth the effort.

Foot massager Circulation is important! If you have cold feet or your feet are in pain and need massaging, I recommend getting a foot massager. Each session lasts about 15 minutes, which is also a good marker of time! Sometimes when I’m writing, I’ll say “two sessions on the foot massager and then I can take a break.”  You can adjust the pressure and the rolling and it warms your feet up in the process. No having to negotiate foot massages from another person!  The only problem I run into is that when I pull it out, everyone in my family begs to use it. It’s something worth fighting over. You’ll see.

Bath Robe I had a terry cloth robe for like 7 years and replaced it with this one. I was a little worried about buying a robe off of Amazon without feeling it first (I am really sensitive/picky with fabric). This one is perfect!  When we were in Italy as a family many many years ago, my Mom was obsessed with waffle weave towels and now I think of her when I use it (daily). Waffle weave for the win! It’s the robe I use when I get out of the shower and it’s very absorbent. You’ll instantly feel like you’re in a spa environment while using one.

Heated  Shoulder/Neck wrap We were having a family dinner last year and my Dad was complaining that his neck hurt. I popped this wrap in the microwave for about 4 minutes and wrapped it around his neck and he LOVED it.  Then I bought him one for his birthday. He uses it with his heated eye mask. It’s quite a sight!  If you’re having a rough day and you feel the weight on your shoulders, heat this up and get into bed. The aromatherapy aspect of it is very nice. It’s especially nice during the colder months. I will sometimes end up falling asleep after I use mine in bed!

Foam Roller This roller is so useful that it goes on family trips, though it stays in my bedroom most of the time. If you ever have any back problems or have aching legs, you’ll be happy you have one of these. I am not sure how you would wrap it if you give one as a gift, but my brother gifted one to my Dad last year and he’s been a huge fan ever since.

Diffuser Once you start your journey with essential oils, you’ll find yourself adding diffusers to different rooms in your house. This is the one I have next to my bed. I like it because the light it gives off is SOOOO cool. It makes the experience even more enjoyable.

Hammock-    I got one of these nylon hammocks as a gift many years ago and it wasn’t until this past year that I put it up. Hammock time is my favorite time. If you’ve been turned off by the weave in hammocks (it hurts after awhile! and leaves marks!), then you will like this one. You feel absolutely weightless and snug in your own private cocoon.

And some of my favorite tech/kitchen tools this year have been:

Shutterbean's Favorite Things (Gift Guide!) of 2018


Fitbit Charge – Been wearing this thing for almost a year now. It keeps my activity level up! I also like checking my heart monitor and sleep cycles.  I live for the days when fireworks go off on the watch, telling me that I’ve hit my 10k step goal for the day. Knowledge is power, yo!

Alexa – One of the most used gadgets in our house!  I use it mostly for music and setting timers. You’ve probably noticed how often I do that when you watch my Instagram stories of cleaning up my house. It also comes in handy when you need to do measurement conversions in the kitchen or you want to check the weather forecast. For a good while, we were playing family Jeopardy with it at the dinner table. We have a few of them throughout our house!

Mechanical Switch Keyboard  This year I switched from Mac to PC.  Part of that transition included getting a monitor and keyboard for my desk so I could edit photos on a bigger screen. One of the biggest game changers was my light up mechanical keyboard. That means it makes a nice sounds when I type. It makes typing more fun and I LOVE the feel of the keys under my fingers. PLUS!! It lights up and you can change the colors. How fun is that?!

iPad Pro   I’ve been loving mine! I mostly use it for hand-lettering (I use Procreate) with an Apple pencil. It’s a game changer. At least for me, it is. This is the case I have. It’s a good theft deterrent because people will think it’s just a composition notebook!

Instant Pot  A great gift for someone who loves to play around in the kitchen.  It can cause quite a ripple effect in the kitchen when you get to use a brand new machine. Mine is mostly used for applesauce, hard-boiled eggs, bone broth, and braised meat. I’ve also made braised red cabbage in it. It’s been a fun tool to have in my meal prep arsenal.

Got any favorite things you’d like to share from 2018?  Let’s hear some!