Time for an installment of Weekend Things:

1. I got a blog makeover! I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about my site’s new look and the functionality.

One of the things I’m most excited about is that I now have visual recipe indexing. Meaning there’s a photo accompanying each recipe, and the recipes are categorized better and by type.

Go to the top right hand corner of the screen, where you’ll see Browse Recipes and a drop down menu, where you can click on the category you want.

visual recipe indexing

For example, if you click on cookies, you’ll be brought to this page, where you can see every single cookie I’ve ever posted and click on what you want. How cool is that.Cookie archives

Not every single category is listed in the drop down menu in an effort to keep things more streamlined, but the major ones are there.

If you’d like to search for things a little more obscure, say, avocado, you can type avocado into the search bar.

Search bar for averie's website

Or, use the drop down menu again. The last item that says Recipe Index on the drop down brings you to the Recipe Index page, which looks like this. From there, you can browse by ingredient.

Recipe Index page

It’s not perfect because I have 4 years of recipes, and was horrible about tagging them. And in the past month, I’ve been working behind the scenes trying to tag and categorize my recipes.

As time goes by and I notice things that could be tagged better, or that I missed, I will continue to tag and categorize as best I can.

If you are looking for a recipe and can’t find it by using the drop down menu, the search bar, or the recipe index page, email me and I can help you find it. I just posted last week that I have 300+ recipes on Foodgawker alone, and even I can get lost. There are also old posts from when I was on Blogspot that don’t have accompanying images that show up, but cest la vie.

All photos now have a hoovering Pinterest button in the top left-hand corner of the image for easier pinning. I know I appreciate this on blogs I visit so that I can pin the image I want to, and for selfish reasons, so that I can pin the recipe as a reminder to myself that I want to make it.

The other thing that has changed is that there is no more loveveggiesandyoga anywhere in my html or in any of the post titles or links. Anything that exists on other sites and refers to me as LV&Y or links to my site using LV&Y, such as other blogs or Pinterest, is now forwarded to averiecooks.

Goodbye old site, you served me well, but I’ve moved on. When I first started blogging 4 years ago, I loved veggies and yoga, and I still do; I just don’t choose to write blog posts about them and haven’t for the past few years.

I have anxiously been awaiting this makeover and launch for nearly one year.

screenshot of vanilla extract page on website

None of this would have been possible without the help of Lindsay Landis of Purr Design. She’s also the blogger behind Love and Olive Oil

And she’s written two books in the past 18 months, The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook and Breakfast for Dinner

If you are at all thinking of a blog makeover, Lindsay is amazing. She’s patient as a saint, creative, a visionary, and at times, a mind-reader. Her waiting list is on the longer side, but she’s well worth the wait. I cannot tell you how much I admire her work, and how thrilled I am with it.

Needless to say, my situation wasn’t just a straight makeover because of the URL changes. Every other designer I had previously worked with or interviewed, didn’t want to touch it with a 10-foot pole. Lindsay jumped right in, and handled it all like the true and extremely talented professional she is. Lindsay is your girl if you need a bigger time makeover.

2. I’m a contributing Blogger, Recipe Developer, and Photographer on Pillsbury, a “Pillsbury Maker”

I grew up in Minnesota, home of Pillsbury, before moving to San Diego and it’s quite an honor with a touch of nostalgia for me to be on the Pillsbury site.

"Pillsbury Maker" Averie Sunshine

I made Pretzel S’mores Chocolate Cookie Bars

Pretzel S'mores Chocolate Cookie Bars

3. They’re similar to the Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies, which I made after the Smore’s Cookie Bars, because I was loving the pretzel and salty-and-sweet vibe so much.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies

Marshmallows and a chocolate cookie bar base were swapped for salted caramel and a blondie bar base.

Pretzel S'mores Chocolate Cookie Bars

4. San Francisco 500 Square Feet Apartment Tour – Dad, mom, and two small kids living in 500 square feet and tt’s amazing what they’ve done with it and how uncluttered and functional it is.

For anyone with kids, you know how kid stuff multiplies. And for anyone with a food blog, or who’s a cook, or just who’s lived life and isn’t 22 anymore living in your first apartment, you know that kitchen stuff multiplies; it’s bulky, and hogs space. Between kid and kitchen stuff, I could fill 500 square feet easily.

San Francisco 500 Square Feet Apartment Tour

5. We live in a 1200 square feet urban condo and it feels extremely cramped at times; other times not as much.

No yard, no garage, no basement, and no attic like the houses I grew up with make San Diego much different than rural Minnesota.

Averie's kitchen

6. 10 Ways to Make Better Brownies – Including some I had not heard, like the number 9, “Chill them before baking. After spreading the batter in a pan, refrigerate it for at least an hour or up to overnight. The end result will be brownies with extra-crisp edges and a moist, fudge-y center.”

I have two recipes for brownies, and swear by both of them. They’re both one-bowl, whisk-together recipes that are as fast a a boxed mix and produce consistently stellar, ultra-fudgy brownies.

Fudgy Nutella Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting – This brownie base uses melted chocolate and I like to swirl in Nutella but the brownies are fabulous with or without Nutella

Fudgy Nutella Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting

And The Ultimate Fudgy Caramel Brownies

The Ultimate Fudgy Caramel Brownies

7. I went to Big Potluck a couple weeks ago and am still thinking about how much fun it was.

Big Potluck

Ree Drummond at the Big Potluck

8. I was named one of the Top 10 Desserts and Sweets Bloggers on Pinterest– “…We compiled the list based on Cision’s proprietary research, with results limited to bloggers who dedicate significant coverage to sweets.”

I’ve been given quite a few honors and awards over the years, but being recognized as a ‘blogger who dedicates significant coverage to sweets’  makes all of my sweet teeth very happy.

Top 10 Desserts and Sweets Bloggers on Pinterest

9. Eating All Organic Food On a Food Stamp Budget – According to the author, yes, you can feed a family of three all-organic food for the month. The author stayed within her monthly food budget of $526. She offers tips and suggestions what she does.

Organic vegetables

10. Buttery Sweet Dough Emulsion – “Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor is extra-buttery, with hints of vanilla and citrus; add a few drops of this flavoring to your favorite sweet bread recipe, and your family and friends will be clamoring for the name of the bakery you visited.”

If it could make everything smell like Overnight Buttermilk Soft and Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls I would be in heaven.

Buttery Sweet Dough Emulsion

11. I got a Mother’s Day Care package yesterday from Sur La Table. They’re an amazing source for everything you need for your kitchen, and for things you don’t even know you need. I’m in heaven when I wander into my local store. They sent me a Le Creuset Teakettle

Le Creuset Teakettle

 And a Cuisinart 7-Cup Food Processor in Metallic Red

Cuisinart 7-Cup Food Processor in Metallic Red

Needless to say, this kicked off my Mother’s Day Weekend in a fabulous way. I can’t wait to put the food processor to use with a batch of my favorite peanut butter, Honey Roasted Butterscotch White Chocolate Peanut Butter (GF)

Roasted Butterscotch White Chocolate Peanut Butter

What are your Weekend Things?

Could you live in a 500 square foot apartment with your spouse/partner and child? For all of you with kids, remember that baby stuff and kid stuff multiplies in the closet.

Could you eat organic (or do you care to) and feed your family on $500 a month? I know plenty of single, childless people who spend that on themselves in two weeks.

If you’ve made anything, done, seen, or bought anything fabulous recently, feel free to link it up in the comments.

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day Weekend and I hope all the moms have a special day that’s exactly the way you would choose.

Stay tuned for an amazing giveaway. You won’t want to miss it!

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