five things · Food

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday!

I really hoped to finish a project this week, but it’s May, and if you have kids in school, you know what that means. Our days are full – Mother’s Day classroom celebrations and meetings and baseball practices and sign-ups for new activities – all great, wonderful, fun things that are important to soak in and enjoy and not worry about what’s NOT getting done on the to-do list. The busyness is a reminder to me to stop, be present, and appreciate what’s happening in THIS moment, not wishing away the moment for something else. This is a lesson I seem to have to learn over and over again.

Here are five things on my mind this week:


1. Salad lunches. I promise, this is not becoming a food blog, but I keep finding recipes that are game-changers. (See nachos recipe here and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies here.) Like our Friday Night Nachos, this could be filed under “Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink”. I started these salad lunches because I am addicted to Trader Joe’s Harvest Salad and went in search of a way to recreate it at home. I found this copycat recipe and improvised. Now I make a giant salad out of whatever I can find in the fridge – baby carrots, leftover green beans, corn, green onions – plus the addition of some protein – hard boiled eggs, rinsed and drained canned beans, leftover bacon, small cubes of white cheddar – dumped on a big pile of spinach or mixed greens.

creamy dijon dressing

The dressing is key. When I made it the first time, it was really thick, so I added water. The second time I made it, I realized I had forgotten to add the rice vinegar the first time. I didn’t like it as well, so I went back to my first “oops” version.

Here’s my take on the Creamy Dijon dressing:

  • 2 Tablespoons mayonaisse
  • 2 Tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • dash of turmeric

Blend all ingredients, then add a tablespoon or two of water to thin to desired consistency. Enjoy!Every single day, do something that makes your heart sing.

2.This quote. A sweet friend gave me this card several years ago, and I recently uncovered it. It’s hanging by my workspace as a reminder and encourager: “Every single day, do something that makes your heart sing.” -Marcia Weider

3. This house tour from A Cup of Jo. You know, I’m always up for a good house tour, but I love the ones Joanna does because of the stories behind the houses, the thoughts of the homeowners, the inspiration that always comes from them. This one had me nodding along with the similarities of our life right now – the puttering around before the kids get up, the talk about the treehouse, even the chest that serves as a coffee table (ours belonged to my Appalachian Mammaw and was given to me just before Husband and I got married). And I loved the quote by the homeowners’ daughter about French patisseries: “They make things beautiful not just for marketing, but because it’s what should be done.”


4. Coffee meditation. Sounds like a great way to start (restart?) meditating.

5. These never get old. Every time, my face hurts from smiling so much. This one was super fun.

What are you up to this weekend? We’ve got baseball and birthday parties and, oh yeah, it’s Mother’s Day! (BG has talked about a tea party/brunch ever since last year’s, and I heard whispers around the dinner table last night. Can’t wait!) Also, my bedside book stack is getting out of control, so I’m hoping to get some good reading time in as well. Hope your weekend is full of good laughs, yummy food, and delicious rest. Thanks for reading!

creative habit · five things · Food · Home

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday!

Not to sound like a broken record, but guess what – illness struck Casa de Beautiful once again. Woohoo! Forget that it’s April, forget that it’s 80 degrees and sunny and we’re wearing shorts and sandals. Bring on the stuffy noses and coughs! (I was thinking maybe it was just allergies – I’ve been struggling for weeks – so I sent BG to school, and she kept telling her teachers, “My mom says I have allergies.” Imagine my surprise when both kiddos woke the next morning with full-blown colds. Whoops!) So on Wednesday, everyone stayed home, got lots of rest, watched movies, slurped soup, and relaxed. It was pretty lovely, and then everyone was ready to go back to school on Thursday. Now we’re cruising into the weekend, ready for some fun! Here are a few things on my mind this week:

rita ortloff

1.Abstract Paintings. So, confession. We’ve lived in our house for almost 3 years, and only BB and BG have any sort of art on their walls. The rest of the house remains bare.  SHAME! I want to start a BIG art project that allows all of us to collaborate – something fun with lots of color. I love this piece by Rita Ortloff – check out her story here and here. (Also loving this piece by Kristy Gammill and this project by Kimberly Duran.)

Only practicing

2. This quote. I found it via A Cup of Jo  (check out the entire post – great inspiring words here), and when I read it, I stopped in my tracks. This is exactly what my brain would have wanted to say here if I were as eloquent as Dani Shapiro. (The quote is from a book, Still Writing. I’m waiting for a copy from the library.)

3. Running. First of all, I am NOT a runner. There was a brief period of my life when I ran (brief as in a few months). And I LIKED it. I liked how calm I was after a run, I liked how strong my body felt, I liked being outside alone in the quiet of the early morning. I even ran a 5K. (Husband likes to tell the story of how, just before the finish line, I turned to him and said, “I’m going to finish! I’m really going to finish!”) But then I stopped. I got a cold and stopped and never started again. Recently, though, I’ve been having warm thoughts about running again. And then I read this article. I’m not making any promises, but I think it might be time to give it another try. Maybe.

cookies 4 3

4. These cookies. Ever since my little ER visit last week, my sweet tooth is back. I cut added sugar from my diet years ago, and I haven’t really missed dessert much. This week, I did. (I’m blaming the antibiotics.) So I went in search of some “paleo-ish” (read: minimal sugar) recipes to help. First, I made these. They were good, but they prompted Husband to say, “Can’t you just add sugar to stuff? These taste so HEALTHY.” (I liked them, and the kids did, too, although maybe more as a “snack” than a “treat”.) Then I made these “milkshakes”. BB and BG are big fans of PB Chocolate Love at Jamba Juice, so I was hoping this would come close. It was pretty good – Husband liked it (“But couldn’t we just add milk? And maybe some chocolate chips?”). Finally, two nights ago, I tried these. OH. MY. GOSH. The BEST gluten-free cookie I’ve had, hands down. I gave Husband a couple to try. His reaction? “Amazing! This is it. This is THE recipe. What’s in them?” Yea! We considered eating the whole pan while the kids slumbered away, but we resisted and saved some for them to try the next day. (I substituted butter for coconut oil, but I’m sure they are amazing either way.)

5. Made me laugh really hard. While Husband attempted to sleep beside me. If laughing is like jogging for your insides, my insides ran a marathon.

What are you up to this weekend? I’m planning a walk with a friend early Saturday morning before we rent a U-Haul to go pick up a chicken coop. That’s right! We aren’t homesteading yet, but the day is coming. A friend is generously giving us their coop, and Husband has cleared out the space in the back yard. I guess it’s time to start researching. Cluck cluck! Hope you have a fun weekend! Thanks for reading.

Christmas · etsy shop · five things · Food · good life

Five Things

Happy Friday!

Don’t know if you heard about the Winter Storm that Northern California is getting, but there’s been lots of hype. I think we were all hoping for The Big One – Husband kept checking radar, I checked rainfall totals, friends found new weather apps, other friends went to the grocery store to find them completely sold out of flashlights and batteries. Don’t get me wrong – I love the rain, and it was lovely and cozy and all those things you attribute to rain when you live somewhere that doesn’t get snow – but it hasn’t been the major storm that was predicted. But I’m thankful for the rain and all that comes with it. Here are a few things other things on my mind this week:

1. Obviously, this made me laugh.

orange seeds

2. Surprises. One morning this week, we were finishing breakfast, and I grabbed a Cutie out of our giant bowl of Cuties for everyone at the table. (You know what Cuties are, right? Those little easy-to-peel Clementine oranges that are in season this time of year.) Everyone started peeling and devouring the sections. In my first section, I found 3 seeds. I held it up and laughed, saying, “How funny! This section of my Cutie has a lot of seeds.” As I proceed to take apart the rest of the orange, I found at least 3 seeds in every section, and some with 4 or 5 seeds in them. I was surprised that such a small piece of fruit – known for being seedless – would have so many seeds. I dug each of them out and made a little pile on my plate, thinking about how this is like life. We make these plans, we have ideas about what our years and days and even moments are going to look like, and often, they don’t turn out like we think. We make big plans for the week, and someone gets sick. We sketch out designs to finally make that Advent calendar out of felt with pockets for each little ornament but then, once again, December 1st arrives, and we do Advent the same way we’ve always done it, with the ornaments in their little cardboard box. We pick up seedless fruit and we find 30 seeds inside. But it doesn’t make the fruit less delicious – it’s just different than what we expect. I’m trying to keep this idea in my head this week – and in the weeks leading up to the holidays – when things don’t go quite like I want them to go. They are still delicious, juicy, beautiful moments.

3. Wrapping presents like a ninja. Confession – I’m still working on my Christmas lists. BG’s birthday is next week, and I’m not finished with her gifts, so I feel guilty moving on to Christmas before that’s complete. But if I were finished, I’d be watching this video over and over to perfect the technique. Who am I kidding? I’m just watching it over and over again anyway – it’s mesmerizing. (Speaking of mesmerizing, this. It’s on a website called The Kids Should See This. I showed it to the kids. They were not nearly as enthralled as I was.)

4. I made baked sweet potatoes for dinner this week. In the slow cooker. Who knew you could do that? They were delicious. We had ours with black beans and avocado, but I think sausage would be great, too.

5. This quote.

What are you up to this weekend? We’ll be finalizing birthday and Christmas plans, laying low and resting up for the weeks ahead. It’s still really hard for me to believe it’s December already. I’m going to be closing my Etsy shop on Wednesday of next week for Christmas and New Years, reopening in January with some new pieces, so stop by this week if you’re looking for a special gift. Have a great weekend!