What is a Virtual Assistant?

What is a Virtual Assistant?

What is a virtual assistant?


Have you heard “virtual assistant” around the internet and aren’t sure what exactly it is? A VA is someone who does various duties remotely, via the internet, to help support a business or entrepreneur. Their role is to help that owner/entrepreneur run their business by taking on tasks that they may find dull, time-consuming, or beyond their expertise. This way they can focus on the parts of their business they find fulfilling, typically the more creative aspects.


What does a virtual assistant do?


There is no limit to what a virtual assistant can do. If you need help with e-mail management, a VA can do it. If you need assistance improving your Pinterest presence, a VA can do it. If you need assistance with editing and proofreading, a VA can do it. VA’s can also:

  • Manage social media presence
  • Create graphics for your blog and Pinterest
  • Manage analytics for website and Pinterest traffic
  • Calendar management
  • Customer service
  • And so much more!

Interested in knowing more things a virtual assistant can do? Head on over to Gina Horkey’s list of 150+ services a VA can offer.

Who can use a virtual assistant?


Well honestly, anyone can use a virtual assistant. Bloggers, entrepreneurs, and anyone who does business online can use a VA. Even brick-and-mortor stores can use a VA to increase web presence and try and translate that to foot traffic and sales. Do you hate sorting through your e-mail filled with customer inquiries, spam, and your e-mail subscriptions? Hire a VA to sort, answer, or delete unwanted e-mails. Need help promoting your blog? A Pinterest VA can create images, promote your posts in groups, and increase your audience through Pinterest. (Did you know that Pinterest is actually considered a search engine rather than social media? Who knew! A Pinterest VA did 😉 )


Who can be a virtual assistant?


If you have an internet connection, a computer, a willingness to learn, and motivation to succeed, you can be a VA. How? The authority on becoming a Virtual Assistant these days is Gina Horkey, who wrote an article about becoming a VA on her blog. Gina is an absolute wealth of information and resources when it comes to starting your VA business. In fact, I am a graduate of her 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success course.


Interested in hiring a virtual assistant?


You’re in luck, I’m offering some virtual assistant services. Head on over to this page, and we can get started discussing how I can help support you in your business and meet your goals.

Help! Is it okay to ask for help? (yes)

No one likes to ask for help.


In college I was doing very badly in a course (I cannot stress how bad I was doing, let’s just say I’m glad there’s no letter worse than F) and my teacher came to me and told me I needed to get a tutor. My ego was bruised, my pride hurt. I didn’t want to admit defeat and admit that I wasn’t doing well. I was an honors student in high school, but this department-specific course was kicking my butt.


I asked for help. My tutor ended up being another freshman (who was advanced a year worth of pre-req’s which, let’s be real, hurt my ego a little more) and he helped me improve my homework grades. I still struggled in that class, but I managed to escape it with a C.


No one likes to ask for help. But I learned through my college experience that sometimes you need it. Sometimes you have to admit that you’re in a little over your head. And it’s ok. Everyone has had to ask for help.


Do you think CEOs get to where they are without assistants? Without delegating work? Do you think the top bloggers get to where they are without hiring a virtual assistant?


No. They get to where they are by working with people who excel in the areas they may not. They have the big ideas but need help executing? They’ll hire a manager. A blogger has great ideas and experiences but struggles with grammar and spelling? They hire an editor or proofreader.


Are you a court reporter struggling to find time to get your proofreading done once your work comes back from your scopist? Hire a proofreader. By hiring a proofreader to go over your work to do that final polish, you give yourself time to take another deposition and cover the cost. You’ll be able to spend more time out in the field. Even if you don’t usually use a proofreader but you’re stressed with the number of depositions you’ve committed to, you can hire a proofreader for a one-time job. There’s a large field of proofreaders available to help.


Are you a creative entrepreneur looking to expand your business but bogged down with the mundane tasks? Let me do them! There’s nothing I love more than a clean inbox. As your virtual assistant it’s my job to act as your administrative assistant, just at a distance. I’ll handle the tasks that bore you so you can focus on growing your business.


It’s ok to ask for help. It can grow your business. It can reduce your stress. You’re worth it.


If you’re looking for a proofreader or a virtual assistant, feel free to click the links for more information.

7 College Textbook Hacks


There’s nothing more fun than going to your first semester of college, bright-eyed and naïve, ready to start your education.

And getting slapped with a huge bill at the school book store.

I had very little support when transitioning from high school to college and had no idea how much textbooks would cost me going in. The sticker shock was enough for me to figure out how to save money on my textbooks. Here are the ways I figured out how to save money and not go further into debt.

No matter which option you go with, always price check it all. Always look. There is no rhyme or reason to which option will be the cheapest, so always look at all your options to find the best one.

  1. Renting – Now most people know that you can rent textbooks online from various websites and even some school stores do. Rentals don’t cost as much as purchasing the book outright, but unless it’s a rare book, it will not likely be the cheapest option. CD’s and online content codes may not be available.
  2. Secondhand Websites – Used copies can be in great condition from places like eBay, Amazon third party sellers, Half.com (run by eBay) and Thrift Books. I got really lucky with some used copies in college; one had page numbers next to all the questions so I always knew where to find the answers! Again, CDs and online content codes may not be available with this option.
  3. Facebook Groups – Find out if your major or potential career has a Facebook group where you can buy and sell items. My major had a club page where students could sell their books to one another, with no shipping costs!
  4. Buy One Edition Back – General Education courses have textbooks that always appear to have a new edition out every year or two, jacking up the price. Most of the time these editions update minor statistics and shift some information to put some money in the author’s bank account. While I can’t fault them, it makes it frustrating for the rest of us. If you find you have a book with tons of back editions, buying one edition back will give you the same general textbook. Make friends with someone in the class with the current edition to see if you can photocopy whatever information you need. I did this with a few different courses, it worked well.
  5. Online Editions – Online editions of books will cost less, but restricts you to using them on a computer or tablet. Personally, I don’t focus as well reading on a digital screen as I do on paper, so I resorted to this option rarely. But if you function well using your iPad or computer as a textbook, it’s a great option.
  6. Library – Sometimes you will get lucky and find the textbook at a local library or at your college’s library for use. Downsides are the book may get checked out and you don’t get to see it, or the library will require it stay in the building for student use.
  7. Don’t Buy It. Deep breaths, it’s ok. Sometimes your teacher assigns a book and then never actually assigns any work from it.

A bonus option here to save money is to allocate funds for your textbooks and then once that semester is over, you can turn around and sell the book. I am a huge fan of selling on Amazon. They take a small commission but give you a 3.99 shipping allowance which can leave you with the majority of your money back. Only once has the option to trade the book in for Amazon credit been more than what I could sell it for. Even if you sell the book for $5.00, you get the $3.99 shipping cost for a grand total of $8.99. Amazon will take a 8-15% commission giving you $5.90. Shipping by USPS Media Mail costs between $3-$5. You won’t make much selling a book for $5, but those $200 textbooks can give you money back into your pocket.


No matter which option you choose, always wait until after you get your course syllabus before you buy the book. You will not likely need the book on the first day of class. The syllabus will be able to show you how much you’ll use the book or at all. Depending on the subject you’ll know if you can buy an older edition or digital copy.


Textbook cost panic aside, remember it’s just a part of the experience. Best of luck with your semesters!

5 Music Options for Freelancing (And 1 Non-Music)

Arguably one of the most important things to ensure for your freelancing is the environment where you work. Are you going to be able to focus on your work while you’re in the same room with your kids watching Sofia the First? If you can, more power to you, the ability to block out sounds is important. But if you can’t focus with your kiddos running around, or the TV blaring, you’re going to need to set up an environment conducive for focus.


Music is a part of everyone’s life. From radio jingles to the radio on your commute to work; the soundtrack to your favorite movie to a song you made up to remember a password (How I Met Your Mother? Get it?). It’s important and can be a huge benefit to your work.


Personally, a silent room drives me insane. When I read for pleasure, I put on the radio, Pandora, or Spotify. But pleasure is different from working. When working, I need something less distracting. I find myself singing along with the music instead of focusing on my work. So what to do? Here are a few options.


  1. The score from your favorite movie. The score of the movie is the music in the background; it’s the orchestral music that helps set the mood. I loved the sounds of the Harry Potter movies, so I listened to the score while I studied.
  2. Video game music. The music put into video games is intended to motivate you and sets a mood. If you’re working on a steady project, find something that’s smooth and encourages you to continue on your path. If you have a deadline looming, pressure, play “boss fight” music. It’s faster and louder. It motivates you. This website is an option.
  3. Personal Playlists.  If lyrics don’t bother or distract you, make playlists of your favorite tunes. Spotify is a great tool to set up your own lists of your favorite artists. If you want something similar to the radio, Pandora creates “radio stations” based off of one artist or song.
  4. Instrumental Covers. Another of my personal favorites is to listen to instrumental covers of my favorites songs. It removes the distracting lyrics and gives you something familiar to listen to while you’re working. Vitamin String Quartet has covered everything from Lady Gaga to Led Zeppelin and everything in between. I plugged them into Pandora and got a radio station based completely off of instrumental covers.
  5. Classical Music. Not the most popular of choices, but still a good option if you don’t like silence and can’t handle lyrics. Don’t be fooled though, “The Mozart Effect” has been ruled a complete myth. While Mozart created some amazing music to listen to, it does nothing to increase your IQ. So if you’re interested in classical music, be open to all composers.
  6. White Noise. A non-music option, technically, but an option nonetheless. There are various apps in the iTunes or Android stores that offer white noise options. They include white noises including rainforests, humming fans, trains, and more. Some of those don’t sound very relaxing, but if you grew up on the train tracks, it’s a constant sound you get used to.

What do you think? Is there something you listen to while you’re working that I haven’t mentioned? Thoughts on these options?

5 Ways to Deal with Anxiety and Change

Change is exciting. Change is terrifying. But no matter how you feel about it, change is anxiety inducing.


For the average person, anxiety is the warning your body sends to your brain to notify it of change. Anxiety isn’t always bad. It’s the butterflies in your stomach before a first date; the excitement and nervousness you feel on your first day of a new job. All too often we experience the anxiety that comes from negative experiences. Anxiety that this first date is a horrible person. The pit of stress you fall into when you walk into work at a job you hate. What new problems are going to arise? What changes are going to happen?


I think one of the major hindrances of people achieving their goals is the fear of change. Change is anxiety inducing. It’s scary. The idea of quitting a hated job or leaving a city you’re not comfortable in to explore new options is terrifying. Especially if you’re taking a leap and moving forward on faith.


In February I “rage quit” my job after months of being treated poorly and trying so hard to work for my clients. I got to the point where I couldn’t take the stress anymore and when a co-worker was fired for almost no reason, I walked out after her. I had no job prospects in sight. Within a few months it became evident my husband’s job was failing to meet the standards he’s set for himself. With a crappy rental that was literally collapsing under us, we decided to leave town, take a leap of faith and move on.


We’ve been back in his hometown for nearly two months and been trying to get our footing. I’ve got a part-time job and a freelance gig I’m setting up through this website. He’s struggling to find his way. The house we agreed to rent is being renovated and we’re living with my in-laws. This is not where I wanted to be at this stage in my life.


But you know what? It’s where we are. We are a young couple with no kids (only a spoiled rotten kitty) and we’re working toward goals. Sure the goals aren’t specific, but they’re our goals. My goal is to get my freelance proofreading business going so I can work from home, so I can eliminate the need for daycare once we have kids. His goal is to find a job he doesn’t hate that can turn into a career. How sad is it that he’s hated all the full-time jobs he’s held? It breaks my heart for him. So we’re moving on, looking into options, and supporting each other.


We’re technically homeless and unemployed right now. Talk about stress and anxiety, right?


So what do we do that can help relieve our anxiety while going through so many changes?


  1. Communicate. I can’t stress this enough. My husband is not a talker, I am. I have to ask questions of him to get what he’s thinking. It’s ok, because he still communicates with me that way. I know where he’s at and I try very hard not to inundate him with questions. If you aren’t married, vent to a friend, write in a journal, scream it all out to God. Believer or not, it’ll make you feel better. You have to communicate your stresses, bottling it up only prolongs the suffering.
  2. Take time for “carefree timelessness”. In his book, The Seven Levels of Intimacy, Matthew Kelly discusses “carefree timelessness” which is the ability to spend time with your spouse without an agenda. It’s the difference between spending a Saturday accomplishing chores or errands and carving out a few hours to get together and say “what do you want to do?” and end up getting ice cream. It’s something a lot of couples don’t make sure to do, and struggle to have time for. With neither of us working right now, we are absolutely spending this time together with the understanding that we won’t have so much time like this in the future. If you don’t currently have a significant other, make time for a close friend, even if that time is on the phone, it can be an extremely comforting destresser.
  3. Fight the demons. There is always going to be that awful voice of doubt in your mind telling you that you won’t succeed, that you won’t get out of a difficult place. That voice is self-doubt, it’s the devil, it’s a demon hiding in your mind. No matter what your beliefs are, it’s an evil voice you need to silence. How? If it’s a career related voice, read a book on career success, confidence, or something specific to your field. Boost your confidence. Take action. Do something to silence that voice.
  4. Do something spiritual. Don’t let me lose you here! I’m personally a Christian, and I know not everyone is, but we all have some form of spirituality in our lives. Meditation, writing, reading, running,yoga, any of these things can be considered spiritual. It’s individual. For me, it’s prayer. I get peace from just spouting off to God about my stress and anxiety. It helps. A good cup of coffee and a good book helps.
  5. Remind yourself it’s going to be ok. Life gets hard, I’m not denying that. Things can get far worse before they get better, but remember the sunshine is coming. The days after the storm are coming. There will be joy and light in your life again. I like the way this comic says it:Life won’t always be easy, but there’s a finish line. There are goals. And you’ll make it.

Career is Not My Priority

I have no idea what I’m doing with my career.

As a young child, when my peers were dreaming of becoming doctors, police officers, and teachers, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Sure I was biased because I had one, but I wanted to be a mom. My dramatic play was always based off of getting married and having babies with my favorite TV characters. As I got older it turned into fanfiction writing about those favorite characters (new ones!) and their lives.

At school, I thought about being a librarian. I loved reading and was grade levels ahead every year. Then I wanted to be a teacher. In high school I was lost again. I didn’t like school, so I didn’t want to continue on in school for the rest of my life. I loved music and singing and I have a talent so I was looking into different music careers. I wanted to produce for a while, but looking into the college requirements it had a lot of physics and math, subjects I struggled in (at best!). I didn’t want to teach, and then I found Music Therapy.

It sounded great. You use music to deliver therapy to anyone, children, adults, people with disabilities, mothers in labor, infants in the NICU, people in hospice and so many more. I was accepted to school and I graduated four years later with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy. I dealt with a lot of anxiety about the career. I don’t think it was imposter syndrome, I think it was discomfort being in a career path I wasn’t passionate about.

I graduated and did what I was supposed to, I completed my internship and got a job halfway across the country. I wasn’t happy with it. I didn’t feel like there was enough of a passion. I didn’t love what I was doing. I didn’t feel like I was doing my best. So when my fiance got a job two hours away, I followed him and tried something else.

I started working as a pre-school teacher a year ago. I do not like it. The kids are great, they’re the best part of the job. My co-workers and the parents are generally the worst part of the job and I do not want to stay there.

So with the jobs I’ve done in my life (I’ve also worked at a restaurant but I don’t consider that ‘career’) a few things are clear and I need a change. I want to find a career I can do that I will enjoy.

I need a job that will provide for my desired lifestyle.

I want to be a mother. Having children is something I’ve always wanted. My husband and I both work in jobs that don’t make a lot. So I want to find a career that will provide enough on part-time work, or build skills now to have a job that will continue to provide when I want to have children.

The options I’ve considered and will be exploring are the following:

  1. Blogging – this has been the highest recommended “work-at-home” option. It can make a lot of money if done in the right niche in the right way. Downside, I’m unsure of a niche and I don’t know if my life is interesting enough.
  2. Creating Passive Income – this one is more vague, but the best option I can do with my current skill-set, is to write and self-publish a book. Downside, do I have a topic to write about? Chandler Bolt seems to think so.
  3. Grad School – I’m considering going back to school to obtain an MSW. I’m good with organization and I believe working in an administrative team for a non-profit or any other service company, I could be valuable. Downside, it’s expensive.
  4. Proofreading – the one skill I am developing is proofreading for court reporters. I really like this option as what I’ve discovered is there is a demand for this service and growth in the industry is possible. I’m in the middle of taking Caitlin Pyle’s Proofread Anywhere course and I’m feeling successful. Downside, it costs a bit up-front and it does take loads of work to master the skill.
  5. Virtual Assisting – This one I just started researching. I’m going to explore doing some assisting. I have the skills, I’d just need to learn how to apply them, and market myself to bloggers or professionals who could utilize them.

My main goal is to be able to work from home. I want to be a stay-at-home mom someday, so having a business I can develop now while my husband and I are childless, is so valuable. My main goal in life isn’t career (if yours is, that’s ok! Everyone is different) it’s family. I want to have a family life. But to have it, I need a stable income.

I’ll say it here, my goal for 2017 is to leave my day job and begin earning income from home. I will continue to update on this as the year progresses. Ups and downs, anything is possible.

To Brightest Stars

I settled on this blog name after seeing the quote:

I looked on Google but never found it attributed to anyone. This quote means a lot to me, and it’s deeply personal.

I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety since high school. Probably before then, but my memories are hazy from that part of my life. I coped with my situation by blocking those memories out, to survive in that environment. From high school until college I didn’t thrive, I survived.  This I consider my “darkest night”.

Then I started counseling. I had answers for how much pain I was in. I had answers for how to break the cycle. I learned how to free myself and learn to live a better, healthier life. This is my “brightest stars”.

I’m living a full life. It’s not perfect, I’m completely lost when it comes to a career. Emotionally and mentally I feel strong and I feel healthy. That’s the important part. I can figure out what to do next because I have the tools.  I’ve worked through my darkest nights and I will become a bright star. I will succeed. That’s the important part.

Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce

Have you ever just craved homemade spaghetti sauce, but didn’t want to go all out cooking something complicated?

Well, I made some tonight in twenty minutes.

It’s so easy.

I started making this when I was an unpaid intern living in Boston. It was my first time on my own and I cooked for myself most nights. We rarely had jarred tomato or spaghetti sauce when I was a kid, so instead I ventured out and made my own. This is a great recipe if you’re new to cooking. Seriously, so easy.

So first, gather your ingredients.

Yep.  That’s it. You need a can of tomato sauce, a can of tomato paste, minced onion, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and sugar.

Now, I grew up in a family where we pulled 400 bulbs of garlic out of our garden every summer, so using the dried garlic isn’t my preference, I really like having it fresh, the flavor is much more intense. However on the flip side, I have always hated onion, so the minced onion erases my hated of the texture. It’s all about preference, and sometimes, shelf life. Fresh goes bad, the dried stuff lasts longer.

Ok, so once you have your ingredients together, get out a saucepan and put it on medium. I tried something new and put the onion and garlic in the pan with some Pam spray.

I let it cook until I can hear it sizzling and I can smell the herbs. I didn’t put enough in the pan and ended up adding more later, but I think releasing the flavors made a more aromatic sauce.

After your garlic and onion smells amazing, add the tomato sauce and paste to the pan.

Tomato paste is kind of a weird texture, but it thickens the sauce. I didn’t use it the first few times and the sauce stays pretty watery. The paste thickens it up and makes it that familiar spaghetti sauce texture. Let the mixture heat and stir it until it’s a smooth consistency.

Next, add sugar. When I first found out that you put sugar into tomato sauce I was weirded out. It didn’t seem right. But the sugar counteracts the acidity of the tomato. I like my sauce sweet, so I use a good amount of sugar.

I love sweet sauce. I used more sugar than this. And this, the seasoning, is where I need to dispel one of the biggest myths of cooking. Don’t taste it while you’re cooking because it’s not done so it won’t taste right. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. TASTE IT. TASTE IT CONSTANTLY.

Think about the ingredient you’re adding. In this case, it’s sugar. So I sprinkle it on to cover the top of the sauce, stir it in, and then I taste it. It wasn’t sweet enough so I added more. Start with a little bit and add more and more until it tastes the way you want it to.

Now the same with the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add a little, stir it, and taste. I go light on the salt and pepper and add enough Italian seasoning so it’s a solid influence on the taste. I like using Italian Seasoning because it’s a blend of the major spices and you can use one instead of having to find a bottle of marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, oregano, and basil. Let me tell you, in my rural area, there’s no Savory. I’ve looked. Do the same method that I suggested with the sugar. Add a little, then taste. Do this until it tastes the way you want it. This is where I added more onion and garlic since I didn’t get enough at the beginning.

Heat the sauce through, taste it to make sure it’s how you want it, and you’re done.

Seriously. Already.

Yummy. We had our sauce on spaghetti with some frozen meatballs I baked in the oven while I made my sauce and the noodles boiled. Next to it is a bagged salad with Kings Hawaiian Croutons (which are amazing by the way).

This recipe makes a lot of sauce, I put most of it in a plastic container in my fridge to use for other recipes. Heck, sometimes we’ll dip pizza into it like marinara.


Minimalism is Overrated

Embrace the Clutter!

I will never be a minimalist. Look at that picture up there. It’s so white.

I can’t do it. I’m a sentimental person. I find joy in the silliest of things. I love knick-knacks and silly decorations and dozens of picture frames featuring my family and friends. Right now I’m looking at a shelf that includes two Pez dispensers, a Chick-fil-a cow plushie, a Steelers mini-football, and three different stuffed animals, two from my childhood. I have an entire box of the ticket stubs from every movie I’ve seen with my husband.

I hold onto things.

And with my life, having moved 12 times in the last eight years, I have come to terms with the fact I can’t keep everything. But I can keep the things that make me feel good. That spark memories. So I keep the bouquet I caught at a wedding a year before I married my husband. I keep the little stuffed bear my Dad brought me back from a business trip to Philadelphia when I was probably twelve. These things remind me of people I love.

And I think that’s ok.

It seems today people make a lot of emphasis on being “minimal”. And I can appreciate the concept, but I’m far too sentimental to live it. I love my little collections. I somehow have five or six angel figurines and I love them all.

But I don’t need things that don’t mean anything. There’s a difference between keeping things that have a meaning and keeping things that could maybe have a purpose someday. And that is how I decluttered my house.

I went through my things and judged them based on the following criteria;

Have I looked at or used this in the last six months to a year? I also considered “have I touched this since I unpacked it when I moved in?” And that is how a lot of things got put in the “donate” pile.

Is this really worth holding onto and moving? I threw away a lot of little scraps and cute little things I’d hung onto for some reason or another (a ribbon from Bed Bath and Beyond? Chucked! A dirty stress ball from college? Thrown!).

Can I donate this so someone can use it? This one is easy for me. Extra utensils from the wedding? Donated. Clothes I don’t wear because I don’t like them anymore? Donated.

Would I miss this if I gave it away? Can I replace it for less than $5? This was a little more difficult. My parents were raised by people who lived their young lives in the Great Depression and the years of sacrifice during WWII. It was passed down to me that we don’t throw things away. Well that’s wrong. I will not hang onto random bits and pieces of things that I might want in a year or two. If I can pick it up at the dollar store at that time, then I will. But I will not haul it all over the country “just in case” I need it someday. I’m pretty sure that carrying it with me whenever I move is way more costly than accepting I can buy it again someday.

Is it broken, damaged, or dirty? If it couldn’t be cleaned or fixed, it was tossed. If it could be cleaned, I cleaned it. If I still didn’t need it, I donated it.

Can it be recycled?  Is it an old dresser that can be up-cycled? Is it a pile of old paperwork from college that you’ve never referenced at work? Paper makes up a surprising amount of weight, so shred what you have to, and recycle the rest. But if you don’t get to those “projects” within a good amount of time (a year at the most) you probably aren’t going to get to it, so cut your losses and sell.

Following these rules I threw away two trash bags filled with garbage, a 13 gallon trash bag filled with recycling (mostly paper!), and four grocery bags filled with things that got donated to my local thrift store. I still feel like I have my “treasures” and I’m sure someday I’ll go through and donate a few more of the things that got through this rampage. And one day I’ll get my husband to go through his piles too!

Easy Salmon en Croute

Sounds fancy, right?!

Now, if you’re not a huge fan of fish, I highly recommend you try salmon or a tuna steak, and cook them properly. I grew up eating baked haddock and cod and would be content to never have it again. But I love a nice piece of salmon.

I grew up on the east coast where fresh salmon is not only available, but frequently went on sale. I loved going to get a pound of salmon when it was half off and just pan frying it with a spritz of lime.

Then I moved to Iowa. Now, Iowa is a landlocked state, so fresh seafood is a logistical improbability. And it never goes on sale. I’m on a budget here, so spending $13.99 on a pound of salmon is just not practical. I tried frozen, wasn’t impressed. So I gave up on having a nice piece of salmon unless I was back east visiting my family. But then on a shopping trip I spied a piece of fresh salmon sitting on a shelf with a sale tag. And where did I find this glorious surprise? Walmart. And was it the best salmon I’ve had in the Midwest? You bet it was.

Since this discovery I’m always checking out the fish section at Walmart and they have a surprisingly nice selection of fresh fish that will go on clearance when it’s close to the “best by” date. It fits my budget and satisfies that craving I get every now and again.

One way I always wanted to try salmon was “en croute” which means it is baked into a pastry crust. So I headed over to the frozen aisle where the baked items were and grabbed a package of Pillsbury puff pastry.

Now, traditional salmon en croute has a creamed spinach filling, but I was looking for an easy version of the recipe. I went home and used a can of pesto instead. It’s so flaky and so delicious, I’m so happy with this recipe.

Easy Salmon en Croute

Cook Time: Approximately 1 hour

Servings: 2


1 lb fresh or defrosted salmon

1 sheet of puff pastry – defrosted

2-3 Tblsp. Pesto



Extra Virgin Olive Oil



Preheat oven to 350˚

Unfold puff pastry onto a clean surface. If necessary, use rolling pin to make it large enough to wrap around your piece of salmon (depending on size and shape of the fish).

Take salmon and pat it down with a piece of paper towel to reduce liquid, if any. Salt and pepper the fish. Take spoonfuls of pesto and spread it along the pink side of the fish (not the skin) in a nice thick layer.

Place fish onto the center of the puff pastry, pesto side down. Wrap the puff pastry around the fish, opposite sides in.

Flip folded side down onto a greased baking sheet. Use a knife to scour lines into the top of the pocket. Lightly oil the top of the pocket for baking.

Place in your preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. The top of the pastry will be browned.

Cut in half and serve!

Sides: For my meal we had a simple side of salad, but any steamed vegetable would go great with this meal. No need for any grain or carb. To make it a “one pot” meal, you can add your vegetable inside the pouch; I definitely recommend asparagus cut to size.