Friday, December 28, 2012

my awful secret

My awful secret has been in hiding everywhere and for a fairly long time. Never leaving because I don't ask it to. Poisoning open spaces of each new dwelling I relocate to. 

Friends, don't submit me to Hoarders (can you watch that show and not think that you're one of those millions of people who will one day have an extreme problem?). I am coming clean. I am kicking the habit. I am taking charge of the stuff that sits in the closets and extra spaces in my home. Boxes are being sorted and the junk is out of here.

Okay, okay, it really isn't quite that bad. (And I'm not trying to make light of real people's problems) But when storage space is limited one room of boxes can be very overwhelming.

And the truth is... 


It is leaving... slowly but surely.

Every box that we've moved to our new home will one day be emptied. I just know it. I have to believe it. Because if I don't, it will never happen.

So I'm going one container at a time and sorting out the box madness that is under my desk in our semi-useless study. (One day I will blog from that desk. I promise.) So happy to have that craziness out of our now usable music room. 

And thank goodness for a husband who is supportive. Every time he comes home and sees a new pile in the recycling bin or freshly labeled files he tells me that I'm getting somewhere. 

I will no longer shift boxes from space to space, but I will simplify the contents of our home. Thanks for allowing me to unload my mental clutter... because sometimes that needs organized too. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A favorite dinner salad

One goal I had for 2012 was to encourage my creativity while cooking. I decided to document a few dishes that I created over the year, as well as attempt to make more kitchen "staples" at home. I created several recipes that were super easy... dishes that I would come back to time and time again. I decided that even if they were not amazingly creative, they should be featured and remembered none the less. I have one more of these. A sweet and nutty type of salad. My new favorite salad to make when hosting dinner or bringing over a little something for a dinner with friends.

Sweet and Nutty Dinner Salad

1 head torn romaine lettuce
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup toasted nuts (pecans, walnuts, pistachios, or almonds are my favorites for this salad)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 sliced pear

dressing: apple cider vinaigrette
2 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Salad: Prepare lettuce. Place in large salad bowl. Sprinkle feta, toasted nuts, dried cranberries, and sliced pears over top of lettuce.  

Dressing: Mix honey, olive oil, apple cider vinegar in a jar. Stir/shake. Serve with salad.

If you really want to impress your taste buds, roast some butternut squash and add it into the mix. Delicious, delicious, delicious. Then exchange the feta for goat cheese... you won't be sorry. Not in the slightest.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Breakfast Bake

One of my favorite dishes to prepare for when guests are coming for a weekend stay or before the start of a busy week is a good breakfast bake! Hearty, full of good vegetables, bread and eggs that makes the start of any day a bit brighter.

Over the past few years I've looked up many types of breakfast casserole recipes to the point where I just whip something together based on the produce in our home. Here is the general recipe I follow:

Breakfast Bake

olive oil
6 or so slices of bread (it can even be bread that is a bit dry)
1/2 pound to 1 pound sausage
4 to 6 eggs
1/4 onion
1/2 to 1 full pepper
3 or 4 garlic cloves
other favorite veggies
sea salt
black pepper
shredded cheese

Grease a 9 by 13 pan with olive oil. Brown and crumble sausage. Slice or rip bread into small pieces. Toss into pan for the first layer of bake. Put your browned sausage in the pan over top of the bread layer. (Holes and mixing is fine while layering your ingredients) Chop onions and peppers. Mince garlic. Sautee onions, peppers, garlic over the stove (in olive oil or a bit of the left over sausage drippings). Chop and add any other vegetables.

Scramble eggs and pour over the casserole layers. Sprinkle a bit of black pepper and sea salt over top of the breakfast bake. Put casserole in fridge for a few hours or overnight.

Before baking, allow your pan to warm (before placing into oven) and shred some cheese over top of bake.

Bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until eggs are cooked and cheese is melted. 

'Tis the season to be a bit busy... let's start off a day a little easy... I'm thinking about fixin' one of these for this weekend of family time! Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Skillet Potatoes

Some of our favorite dishes are breakfast foods. And since we're not really the best early morning people we often eat breakfast for dinner. {Our intentions are not to rush away mornings, but sleeping in is so nice in our cozy bedroom!} 

One of our favorites is a hot skillet full of tasty potatoes. You can eat them as a side dish with any meal really. We love skillet potatoes with a slice of breakfast bake straight from the oven or on a plate with eggs and toast. 

Skillet Potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium potatoes, chopped in half inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pepper, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and peppers cook for two minutes. Add potatoes and stir occasionally until each side is brown. Place lid to cover skillet. Cook until potatoes are soft. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add rosemary and stir again. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve as a side dish with a favorite meal.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Loads of Loaves

The many breads of 2012

There were wheat breads, squash breads, sweet breads, corn breads and savory breads too.

There isn't anything quite like a slice of homemade bread. This year we have been happily adding homemade bread to our monthly menu. I thought it would be fun to remember some of my favorite recipes. I've been inspired by a variety of websites, cookbooks and blogs. Below are a few links that might be just perfect for your kitchen too! 

Butternut Squash Bread {My favorite breakfast/snacking bread!}

Easy Homemade Bread {super easy way to start making bread loaves}

Oh and these amazing goodies... which aren't loaves of bread but a good change up:

Golden Crusted Fluffy Biscuits

Golden Sweet Corn Bread

{Small Disclaimer: I'm sharing these recipes because I really did enjoy the process and the final bread product(s). I can also report that I achieved delectable baked goods with these recipes on more than one occasion, so I will call them 'tried and true'.  Go ahead and preheat your oven... you know you want to!}

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Humble Homestead: Our Bedroom

::subtle colors::

::important details::

::cherished mementos::

When we moved into our home we decide to dedicate our home improvement time on spaces that we would be awake in and the places where we would make our loved ones feel comfortable. The guest bedroom, the kitchen, the living room, the dining room were all rooms that were painted first. Also, it seems that the guest bedroom and living room are the most decorated rooms in our home. We have some bigger plans for different spaces of our home. Plans that we must save our time, materials, and money for. When we wanted to make our home be ours we found that paint seemed to give us the most bang for our buck. Which is why most of our house has been painted over the last year.

Now here we are decorating and adding personal touches ... so excited to be finally working on creating a beautiful, organized bedroom for us. I think it will make each day start a little brighter. I'm spending time making each drawer a bit easier to contain and getting that closet cleaned out properly. It has been easy now that I'm in love with the colors on our walls.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: A Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to you my dear husband and best friend! Everyone had so much fun celebrating this past weekend. Thanks to our friends and family who made it such a special time!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ten on Ten: glimpses of a day

10 on 10... ten photos to represent bits of life, to find beauty in the everyday...

After a full weekend of celebrating my husband's birthday it was a busy day of settling things back to 'normal' around our home.

I'm linking up with Rebekah {at a bit of sunshine} for the 10 on 10 monthly photo project (read more about it here). Check out the photos from the final 10 on 10 project of 2012 here. This has been a fun way to capture a bit of daily life. {Thanks Rebekah for being a hostess with the most-est!} 
Happy 11th!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Running in 2012: 5K Completed

Over the past few months I've been writing a bit about my long trek to becoming "a runner" {or at least "a jogger"}. Complaining about how I don't love running, but that I'm making activity goals and for the most part reaching them.

My overall goal of running has been to increase my good health and activity choices - not to get stressed out by the fact that every race I consider to run doesn't work with our personal calendar or savings account. (is it just me or are races expensive and not always timing friendly?) This has been a bit of a conflict for this year's "registering and running a 5K" goal.

So instead of registering and running in a race with others in the community my husband and I ran a "Welcome December" 5K. It was around our town and the "registration fee" was pizza and winter brews after the run. This works for me... we think we have a new family tradition. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

50 Miles in November

Last month I joined the Haus of Girls "50 miles in November" challenge

It's been a beautiful fall for hiking, walking, and running. 

It honestly took me all month to complete this challenge. I meant to complete more miles running, but sometimes hiking happens...

Thank goodness for a husband who was up for a random (and late) walk around town on November 30th. We decided to look for 50 to mark the end of my challenge... we took this photo around 10 o'clock. When we ended our late night stroll I had logged just over 50 miles for the month.

How about 46 miles in December? I'm already in...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kale and Mushroom Lasagna

Kale, there are days that I love you and days that I just can't get you out of my fridge :)

We belong to a great little CSA where we enjoy getting our locally grown organic fruits and veggies. It has been a great supplement of produce while I pretend learn to grow a garden. One day I hope to have enough growth to supply our family, but that day isn't coming any time soon. With this in mind, we gladly use our dollars to support our local farmers at the market and via our "Happy Box" CSA.

Some weeks we get loads of leafy greens. This has inspired the following recipe:

Kale and Mushroom Lasagna

1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup kale or other leafy green (spinach is great as well)
2 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
1 pepper
3 small to medium tomatoes
1 quart jar of tomato sauce
Lasagna noodles
1 tsp oregano
2 or 3 chopped fresh leaves of basil (or 1 to 2 crumbled dry leaves)
about 8 oz of cottage cheese
parmesan or mozzarella cheese
olive oil

Grease 9 by 13 oven safe pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Clean and chop the mushrooms, garlic, onions, and peppers. Cook them in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Clean and chop kale and add the stemmed sections into the pan of now soft veggies. Cook for two minutes, add remaining kale. Stir and let wilt slightly. Remove from heat. Clean and chop tomatoes. Add tomatoes and a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce to cooked vegetables. Stir.  Add oregano, basil and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Assemble lasagna as desired. I typically start by pouring a bit of tomato sauce to cover the bottom of pan. Then add a layer of noodles, spread cottage cheese on noodles, add tomato sauce, a new layer of noodles and then the layer of mushrooms/kale mixture. Continue layers until pan is full. Pour tomato sauce on top and shred cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and noodles are soft.

*I like to make this dish ahead and let it sit in the fridge over night prior to the final baking. I think it allows the flavors to combine well and makes for an easy but tasty dinner the next night.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Feeling Thankful and Missing Fall

Thanksgiving is upon us. In my mind, the fall season ends for me on this holiday. I believe this to be true because when I was a child snow would often fall on Thanksgiving. It makes for a magical family dinner to see a few white flakes float down to barely cover the remaining brown leaves in the backyard.

The past few days have been wonderful and sunny outside. We've enjoyed a lot of time out hiking and taking in those last bits of fall. What a great way to send off this wonderful season!

Thankful for a beautiful season and for having so many loved ones to celebrate life's bounty with. 

Hope your Thanksgiving is happy too!

I'm linking up with Rebecca and Kristi for the final fall photo challenge post. Thank you ladies for your creative and inspiring ideas that kept so many talented people snapping! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Shoreline Brewery in Michigan City, Indiana

Our final brewery to visit on our end of the summer brewcation was Shoreline Brewery & Restaurant in Michigan City, Indiana.

First impression: Well... we came pretty early in the day, so there were not many people there. The general area around the brewery and restaurant was pretty deserted. It felt a bit like a ghost town to tell you the truth. But when we walked inside it looked like a typical sports pub and there were fellas around drinking beers and watching a football game. Very relaxing sort of feel.

Service: Great! We sat at a table and had a nice waitress. She even opened the brew gear room for us to look around.

Food: They did have a full menu (I saw ribs for listed for lunch and pasta for dinner). We did not eat at this location. It was poor timing and a bit of a random stop. This is what happens when you pass a sign for a brewery after a late brunch with an early dinner planned and ingredients are already in the cooler (camping + dinner = cooking when the sun is still out)

Prices & Other Notes: We were pretty excited to learn how affordable the growlers were... then we found out that they do Monday $8 growler refills. (And $8 pitchers on Sunday) They also have music often on Saturday nights and Open Mic on Tuesdays. It seems any day of the week is a good time to go!

As for the beer: Our group had pints of Stella Blue, Benny's APA and Beltain's Scotch. Benny's and Beltains are World Beer Cup Medal winners and we thought they were deserving of such awards. The boys liked the brews so well that they ended up stopping back later in the day to pick up a growler for the campsite. They chose the Sesh Wheat Ale and it was tasty too!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Family Ties: Growing Up is Difficult To Do

Little Man A is working on some teeth.

Those teeth will come through someday.

I'm linking up today's post with Live and Love Out Loud and Angry Julie Monday. Check out other Wordless Wednesday Posts here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sew Lovely: Baby Bibs

Somehow it has happened. Everyone I know is having a baby or just brought home a new little person. It is exciting, it is joyous, and it is a bit scary. I can't believe we are in the baby shower phase of life. The past three years we would go to six or seven weddings each year. Now those families are growing. Good thing my friends are fun and always throw great parties.

In order to make something special for some of my favorite expecting mamas, I've been sewing with my good friend Kaytie. She is making and nesting for her little one (eek! love that growing baby bump!) while I prepare gifts for all those little faces. I love our sewing sessions, we talk and talk... like good friends do. 

We decided this project would be fun and useful for the new babies who are a'coming. There are so many tutorials to use, in fact Kaytie wrote about a few patterns that she had searched out in this blog entry. Baby bibs are so rewarding! Quick, simple, so sweet. We chose tons of great fabrics and away we went! 

I recently made one set of bibs for my dear friend from college. Adult life has gotten in the way of seeing her often, but I am so happy for her growing family. I think it is just wonderful that a little beautiful baby will wear something made just for her. And I know those mamas love keeping babies clean while still looking sweet. And I've already made a few more... they are slightly addictive!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI

During our Michigan Brewcation we stayed in Grand Rapids for a long afternoon. The city was great fun and while we were there we stopped at two breweries. First HopCat (click here for HopCat's website) and then we walked over to Founder's Brewing Company for drinks and dinner. 

First impression: Love. Dreamy hardwood floors, open balcony, loads of good natured folk. 

Service: Great! We had two lovely waitresses checking on us for drinks very often (and filling water glasses for our designated driver). When ordering food there are specific windows to place and pick up your order and the fellas back there were very pleasant as well! 

Food: We ordered their "Tree Hugger" sandwich and it was tasty! The food was good quality but we did order an extra side item (pasta salad - tasted great) that we didn't think was really worth the cost. I believe while eating it my husband and I agreed that we should have just split a new brew for the calories and cash we "spent". So if you are there for the food, eat up an extra side item because they have several to try. But if you are not the designated driver the sandwich and fries were plenty (we split it). Then grab a second (or third) brew. 

Other Notes: Founders Brewing Company has been ranked in the top five breweries in the world for years on Since 2011 they have held the second place position on Best Brewery in the World.

As for the beer: Never found a beer that we didn't like from Founders. It was great to have pints straight from their taps. On this evening I liked their Honey Wheat but the boys at our table enjoyed drinking All Day IPA, Centennial IPA, Red's Rye and the Fest Wheat. All good, all recommended. 

I really enjoyed the atmosphere at Founders Brewing Company. The place was beautiful and there were all types of people there (locals and not-so locals, crowds of mixed ages and groups of friends). Please check out their website to see if you'd like to stop by the next time you are in Grand Rapids, MI.