Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June Self Portrait

It was brought to my attention almost 10 years ago that I assume a lot of guilt for no reason. It took me a little by surprise at the time, but after giving a bit of thought I actually agreed. 200 percent. But what could I do? It was an emotion that I did not know its origination or how to curve.

Over the years, the level of guilt on certain topics ebbed and flowed. I have managed to get over the guilt of saying no to work projects or plans, I don't feel bad for indulging in myself, for not checking emails on the weekends (occasionally) or responding to texts immediately. Others - leaving home, leaving family and things undone, not keeping in touch with people I've known for more than half my life (and longer) - are harder to swallow. Some days I have an overwhelmingly amount of guilt for overcommitting, not doing or knowing enough, or even for feeling tired and going to bed early.

I'm not sure how I made those strides exactly. Maybe I made myself too busy to embrace that feeling. Maybe my overactive conscience took the backseat to enjoy this new no-second guessing, less self-critical person and found it wasn't so bad. I know my confidence has grown immensely, so perhaps I was just growing out of it. On a recent trip home I was sorely reminded of that nagging sensation by someone I should really care less about. But why? For what reason?

I heard some good advice recently. Do something small consistently. Be 100 percent when you're being something - or someone - you believe is good. And that is enough.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mediterranean Night

I'm a big dip person. It's a serious weakness, but a delicious one. With this said, naturally I have two 92 Days of Summer list items that are dips. For this Wednesday night, I tried an original tzatziki recipe that I'm so excited to add to my dip routine. And a falafel recipe that is simple and tasty as well. So, let's go!

What you need:
for the tzatziki (it's ideal to make this first)
1 cup greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cucumber
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dill
for dipping: cucumbers, radishes, bell peppers, banana peppers, tomatoes...you name it.

for the falafel
1 cup fresh parsley
1 cup cilantro
1 cup almonds, peanuts and carrots (almonds are ideal, but I didn't have enough - or of peanuts either so I improvised)
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp olive oil, more for the pan
optional: sun-dried tomatoes and/or sesame seeds

What you do:
for the tzatziki 
1. Grate the cucumber and place into a mesh strainer. Lots of recipes suggest letting it strain overnight, even through a cheesecloth...but I did not. I used a mesh colander and was able to reduce enough liquid to my satisfaction.
2. In a bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, garlic and olive oil. Mix well.
3. Chill in the fridge and add the dill right before serving.

for the falafel
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray your baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. In a food processor, combine the parsley, cilantro and almonds/peanuts/carrots (if you are using carrots, be sure to chop first or even run them through the processor first).
3. Add in the chickpeas and chop until smooth.
4. Pulse in the oil, flour, soda and garlic. Here is where you could add the sun-dried tomatoes or sesame seeds.
5. Roll into 1.5-2" balls and place on the baking sheet. You can either leave as balls or pat them down into patties. Either way, top with a little oil.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Hello Ohio.

Ohio in the summer is a treat. We typically visit in the cold months, around the holidays, so enjoying the outdoors, my parents' backyard, dinner and drinks on their deck, several rounds of bocce ball - and even golf - is usually not on the agenda. This time we took full advantage. And we even taught Mike the mid-west ways of Euchre.

I got to reminisce about my nerdy self at age eight and my love of Abraham Lincoln. My mom found this beloved paper doll set that we bought on a girls trip (yes, my choice for a girls weekend to Springfield, Illinois). Then we had to determine just what the 16th president was doing in downtown Alliance...so we did:

Knowing Mike's love of milkshakes, we made a stop at Milk and Honey. My Boston Cooler (i.e. rootbeer float milkshake) was exactly how I remember them from high school. And Mike's concoction of Oreo ice cream, caramel and chocolate syrup was to his liking as well.

We made our very first stop at the infamous Troll Hole Museum - you can see more about that here. Most importantly we attended the wonderful wedding of two wonderful people, Jilly Bean and Trey. Noting beats a mid-West wedding with lots of (choreographed) dancing!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

#51: Coldbrew

I can't believe how easy - and delicious this was. I'm excited I decided to tackle this list item so early in the Summer so I can enjoy iced coffees during the hot days ahead. The recipe I followed made a pretty small batch, so I would recommend doubling this amount, especially if you have more than one coffee drinker in the house.

What you need:
6 oz of coffee, ground coarse with a few whole beans
6 cups of water
a pitcher, mesh colanders, coffee filters
creamer or liquor is optional, but very welcomed

What you do:
1. Combine water and coffee in a pitcher. Cover and let sit on your counter for 24 hours.
2. Run through your mesh strainer a few times. I ran the brew through my clever drip once to really strain out the fine grounds.
3. Refrigerate until cold.
4. Fill a glass with ice, add coffee, a splash of water (if the taste is too strong) and your creamer of choice.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

92 Days of Summer Returns

You know the drill, 92 Days of Summer from June 1 to August 31.

This may be my most interesting Summer yet!

Follow along here and on my Instagram or by using #92daysofsummer to track your own adventure.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Self Portrait

I must have gone on hundreds of road trips in my life. New cities, girls weekend, camping trips, bus excursions, train rides...I'm fortunate the list goes on. As for preparing for any getaway I look forward to lots of sleep, good meals (both homemade and going out), tasty beverages, new memories with friends and a time of relaxation.

This weekend was no different. We packed up the car and headed to Beech Mountain to see our friends' new house. They brought their kids and Grandma, which to some of you that probably doesn't seem like a getaway...but these are the sort of kids that make the thought of having a few not so bad. Plus, Grandma loves babysitting so it's really a win-win.

Anyway, we filled each day to the brim. Magnificent views, sunbathing, soaks in the hot tub, a campfire and s'mores, animal sightings, even my very first ski lift ride (to a mountain-top bar with 360-degree views)! The concerns of farm signage, deadlines and design drain melted away. By the time Monday morning rolled around I convinced myself we need our own Mountain House about 16 times.

All good things must end, eventually... With two hours left in the drive home my stomach started to get that twinge of anxiety. The week ahead's to-do list starts forming and quickly begins overflowing with items. I used to have this feeling quite frequently, but within the last year it's gotten less and less. Maybe it's because I started saying 'No' more often. Maybe it's because I've just realized everything gets done eventually and nothing is really that big of a deal. Or, maybe it's because we've had
the opportunity to do little escapes like this more often. Regardless the reason, I took a deep breath and drove full-speed home...the next experience awaits.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Baby Shower Gaggle

My dear friend is expecting a baby girl this Summer and what better way to celebrate than with an adorable baby shower!? I was honored to help plan with four other amazingly talented ladies to make our 'Oh Deer...Baby Lauren is Almost Here' woodland theme top notch for the mommy-to-be. Above are the invitations I designed with matching insert cards. I also made coordinating food place cards, a signs and baby games. 

Lucky for us, the host has this gorgeous (handmade by her and her boyfriend) wooden dining room table that perfectly fit our theme. Our wedding decor, once again, came in handy as we used the wooden slabs (from our centerpieces), cake plates and branch garland.

The menu consisted of lots of treats from chicken salad sandwiches to dill potato salad, Mexican rollups, a cheese plate, veggies and dips. For dessert we served red velvet cupcakes (the lady of the hours' favorite) and chocolate chess pie. For the non-pregnant guests we served white peach sangria and champagne. 

As an advocate for no games at showers, I actually liked the games we picked - mostly because they required no effort or awkward moments. The clothespin game, the yarn game and the Wright Family game were general crowdpleasers.

We were also very fortunate to have a florist on the planning committee. The flower arrangements were absolutely stunning and seriously classed up the day. But you can never go wrong with ranunculus in my book! Everyone participated in our 'books for baby' which is a great way to build a unique collection of books - and touching words from loved ones. We're so excited for Sarah, her hubby and their little bundle...now finish out these last couple months and arrive safely Lauren!