Thursday, August 28, 2014

Almond Milk

I would never bash milk, not in 100 years. As a young girl, whenever I would sleep over at my girlfriends house, her parents would buy an extra gallon just because I was coming to stay. Milk for breakfast, milk for lunch, milk for dinner and milk before bed. I loved it and I still do.

That being said, my brain tells me that making my own beverage from something grown from the earth might be a bit more natural for my body. I mean, calves don't breast feed from humans, right?

This post isn't to argue cows milk vs almond milk- I enjoy both. It's simply that I made some fabulous almond milk last night and wanted to share it with you.

The first time I had almond milk it was a store bought container, but then found out how easy it is to make at home with just two ingredients. Almonds + Water.

I like very almondy (is that a word?) milk with a dash of cinammon and, if it's around the holidays, a dash of nutmeg, a splash of kahlua and maybe a little...oops, getting carried away. Anyway, this is how I make almond milk using one heaping cup of almonds per three cups of water.
The first thing to do is soak the almonds so they get plump and soft. To do this, stick the almonds in a bowl and add water until they are covered by and inch or two, then stash them in the refrigerator for a day. When you get them out the next day don't be alarmed if the water is murky, just drain and rinse the almonds.
From there, drop the almonds into a blender and add your water. I like to add just a couple cups of water to begin with, then blend on high for about a minute until its very creamy, then I add the remaining water and continue to blend for another minute or two.
Don't start drinking yet, place your nut milk bag into a large bowl, then pour the contents of the blender into the bag. Most of the milk will filter through no problem, but for the rest you'll have to squeeze. Maybe that's where the whole milking an almond thing comes from- squeezing the nut bag. That doesn't sound right.
Anywhoo, pour your almond milk into a mason jar and add a couple sprinkles of cinnamon, shake and enjoy! I love having a little mason jar in my fridge full of cinammon almond milk. I'm the only one in the house that likes it, so I can take a couple swigs straight from the jar, pop the top back on and put it away. Yummm yumm.
The more almonds that you use, plus longer soaking time = creamier milk. 
Some people opt to use almonds with the skins removed because the skins can cause a slightly bitter taste in the milk, but I personally can't tell much of a difference.
You can add some sweetness or flavor by using vanilla beans, honey, cocoa, sea salt- sky's the limit!
What's left in the bag is called almond pulp. There are lots of baked goods recipes that utilize almond pulp, almond meal and almond flour.   
Stores 3-4 days

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kitchen Shelving Inspiration

As a self imposed rule, we aren't allowed to start any more house projects until after the honeymoon. There's no reason we can't look around the web for a little inspiration though, right? 


I like that these shelves actually wrap around the corner, then we wouldn't have all of that wasted space on the back wall.


Shanty-to-Chic uses decorative hooks to make it look as though they are holding the shelves suspended.


Another idea is to leave a little extra space between the window and the shelves to hang a couple little cafe curtains, but I really love all the light from the windows and would be quite hesitant to block any of it.

Our Vintage Home Love

Love the decor on Diana's shelves, how she mixes the textures of stoneware, woven baskets, the old vintage scales and greenery.

I'm itching to tear out some cabinets!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Recipe Round-Up

There's not much better than a Sunday afternoon nap, especially being woken by an amazingly scrumptious aroma wafting from the kitchen.

Kelly had gone Salmon fishing on Lake Michigan with his stepdad Sunday morning, so what I was smelling was fresh caught salmon baking in the oven and chopped veggies from the garden being steamed.  I couldn't believe my eyes, nose or mouth. See, this was the first dinner he'd ever cooked for me and it was to-die-for yummy. Well, let me tell you, it's going to have to happen a little more often.

Since our fridge is bursting with fresh salmon, I searched some of my favorite food blogs for a few recipes.


Here's a recipe for Naked Salmon Burgers using red and yellow bell peppers. I don't think I'd leave them naked, probably dress them with a little of her Zesty Avocado Cilantro Dressing and stick on a toasted pretzel bun. Yummmm.


Design Love Fest

Spicy and sweet Salmon Tacos with Mango Salsa. She uses chili powder as the fish seasoning, but I think I'd switch it up for cajun and maybe a dash of cayenne pepper.

Wait Til Your Father Gets Home


This one is a little nostalgic...our sitter's family had a cabin on Trout Lake in the U.P. Whenever we'd travel up there to stay, we would stop at this little convenient store to purchase some of their smoked salmon dip. With a box of Wheat Thins, we would have the container of dip devoured before we even made it to the cabin. This Smoked Salmon Dip recipe looks like it might just take me back.

Dinner a Love Story

This Salmon Salad might be on the menu for tonight. Potatoes, corn, green beans, cucumbers....yum.Yes. Definitely on the menu tonight.

Do you know of any good Salmon recipes?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Blast from the Past

I have been volunteering for programs that offer equine-assisted activities and therapies since 2007. Fall of 2013, I found a center close to home that offers classes year round. After a few months of weekly classes here, I decided that I'd like to become certified a therapeutic riding instructor. My mentor suggested that I start taking riding lessons as part of the process.

After searching a few different places for lessons, I came across 'Winning Edge Training Center' in Hudsonville. This perked me up a bit because, when I was little, the barn and trainer that I started riding with were in Hudsonville. I clicked on the link for the website and was looking at pictures of the facility and thought, oh my goodness- that is my old barn! As I'm clicking further along, I find that it's my old trainer as well!

I picked up the phone to call her and I think about gave her a heart attack when I told her who was calling. I starting riding with her when I was a little girl until about age thirteen. It turns out that she had been here and there training and just came back to the old barn in 2013. Is that fate or is that fate?  Now she's married with a sweetheart of a daughter and a young son.

Needless to say, I started taking lessons from her again. I dug around and found one of the scrapbooks that I made years ago, these pictures take us back thirteen years to some of the best days of my life.

This old beauty is Classy Patches, one of the sweetest mares known to this world. I would ride her all around the show grounds with just her halter and lead rope.


This handsome fella is Dyamond in the Rough...aka 'Monty'.  The picture on the left is from the same barn we all came back to. Crazy how the world works. 

Can you tell I didn't like him much? 

Let's go back to this spring...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kitchen Project {Part Three}

It's been a long time coming, but I finally have some new photos! Here are some links if you missed phase one or phase two.


We first framed in the top beam, then installed the bar top with wood glue and finishing nails.  The two sides were completed last so that the bar top is sandwiched between the side beams and the counter tops, adding to stabilization. The whole project was stained, but we put a coat of polyurethane on the bar top to protect from wear and tear of everyday use.

We did make a little mistake with the first varnish we used on the bar top. For our first try, we used boiled linseed oil, which was recommended online and from the local hardware store. We applied the varnish correctly, but it ended up bringing out all of the little imperfections underneath the stain. It's a beautiful varnish, but maybe for something that hasn't been stained. Or maybe we only thought we applied it correctly. Who knows. Anywhoo, we had to completely re-sand and re-stain the board before applying the correct varnish.

He then used Minwax Wood Putty in Ebony to hide the small holes left by the finishing nails. Wood putty vs. wood filler is appropriate to use in this instance as we are unable to sand the final project. It was fairly simple to use- simply form a small ball of putty and rub it into the nail hole. From there, make sure to clean off the surrounding area with a clean, dry rag.

I wasn't much help but an extra pair of hands, but honey did a fabulous job. I knew it was going to look good, but it turned out even better than expected and we both love it. We love it so much that we decided that the rest of the kitchen might like a little bit of a face lift too.

Wouldn't want anyone to get bored around here- right?


So here's what we're thinking next...

Wanderlust Wishes

It's been quite a rainy day in Georgia, so how about we take a little trip? Let's go across the country to Northern California, home of Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Photograph by Michael Nichols

Follow along after the jump...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sweet Nothings

This weekend was fabulous in that we had nothing to do- a big, sweet, fabulous nothing. See, I’m normally a homebody. I have no problem being at home all weekend with nothing more than a good book, my dogs and a couple projects.  So our weekend consisted of a bonfire with friends, afternoon naps, fishing, cleaning out a room upstairs and just plain lounging.

Here some pictures, if you’d like to see…

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Can you guess what these are my lovelies? Yes. Wedding Invitations. Wedding invitations that arrived a week before they needed to be in the mail.

I am a procrastinator at heart. I have no problem admitting that, but I'm just going to put it out there that this time it's for a reason. I started reading The Offbeat Bride's book, and she had a piece of advice regarding wedding planning that I took to heart. Keep things in perspective. This is going to be one of the best days of our lives. One of the best days, with many more to come.

She suggested making important goals to be accomplished between now and then that have absolutely nothing to do with the wedding. So I did just that. I took out my calendar and set goals. Goals for riding, goals for volunteering, weekend trips and house projects.

One Sunday night honey looked over at me and said "almost eleven months" and I smiled, then immediately freaked. Eleven months was in reference to when we started dating. Three months referenced our wedding date. And I hadn't even looked for a dress.

I've since found a dress, ordered and mailed invitations and secured a caterer. There are still a few things left to do, but as soon as I start getting overwhelmed with all of the little details, I simply remember to keep it in perspective.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sunflower Fields Forever

Saturday night we were on our way Van Buren State Park when we passed the happiest field I ever did see. 

Honey said that maybe he'd start farming sunflowers... I'd be okay with that.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Saugatuck Big Lake Classic

Elbow deep in fish guts is how we spent our weekend.

Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But there were fish guts involved.

We spent Saturday and Sunday helping with a fishing tournament where Kelly's family works each year operating the weigh-in station. Each day, the competitors lug their giant coolers full of fish and pick their one biggest catch of the day to weigh for the 'Big Fish' contest, then weigh their total fish. They receive points based on the total weight of all their catch, plus points for total number of fish caught. The fishing teams were split into Pro Division and Amateur with rules and regulations regarding the number of fish, lines in the water, species, etc. 
Here's the Tweedle Brothers hanging up the 'Fish Drop-Off' sign. This is the one time a year that Kelly breaks out the shorts, can you tell?
While his stepdad was out fishing, the boys were in charge of weighing the fish, which meant grabbing them by the gills and setting them in the bucket. They'd first weigh the 'Big Fish', then add the rest of them for the total weight. Then came the fun part when all of those fish were dumped back into the team's cooler, causing a revolting splash of slimy guts, scales and blood to spray up their arms and acros their shirts. EWW. And I hope you weren't reading this over lunch.
I was pretty upset that I wasn't able to get my hands all up in that bucket.
Kidding. His mom and aunt were in charge of completing the scorecards, while his sister ran the cards from the weigh station to the scorekeepers table. After they were logged into the scoring system, I ran them outside and wrote the final scores on the giant boards for the teams to see after they docked and came up for lunch.
It was the first time I'd been to a fishing tournament and it was really cool! I loved seeing all of the different boats with their bajillion fishing poles and colorful lures. The DNR had a station next to the weigh-in where they would do a little research on the fish after they were weighed. On the second day, they brought us over half of a smoked salmon that one of the teams had caught the day before. It was so yummy I could've eaten the whole thing myself.

On Saturday his grandma came and hung out for the day, then on Sunday his other sister joined in the fun. I wish I had more pictures, but we were so busy once the boats started coming in with their fish that I got distracted and didn't even think about it.

We had a sun-filled weekend by the lake and now our freezer is stocked with salmon, that's pretty okay in my book.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Symphony of Destruction

It was like FernGully in our woods this weekend. I could practically hear the poor little faeries scrambling for a new tree to call home.

This is the entrance to our little forest. Not very pleaseant for an evening stroll, unless you're decked out in coveralls and a helmet with a face shield. 


Enter Mr. Bobcat Forestry Cutter.

Kelly's cousin, who operates this type of equipment for a living, was kind enough to haul this monster to our house and spend his Saturday afternoon clearing a path so that we could enjoy our woods a little more.

We went through and marked a tentative destruction course with a pretty high tech trail marker that some of you may have heard of. Toilet paper. Then he went at it! 

There are no pictures of the monster in action because this thing could send a wooden spear through a person quicker than Joffrey could lop off Ned Starks head.  I wasn't gettin up close and personal with that.


The machine leaves behind a trail of stringy wood over the smaller mulch, but after a couple hours (and a few blisters) with some steel rakes, we had a nice clear path that was covered in smaller mulch.

I did have to take one small break to, you know, enjoy some eye candy.

We're so grateful to Troy coming over and clearing this path for us. Don't mind the dog butts, they love the trails as much as we do

I am calling them my horse trails. One might be sweet enough to point out that we don't actually have any horses, but dare to dream, right?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Too Much Zucchini

We walked out to the garden last night and picked five zucchini, with plenty more that will be ripe within the next few days. Seeing as how everyone is in the same predicament right now, I can't even pay people to take some off of our hands. In light of this slight problem, I've been searching the web for the past week to see what other people are doing with their abundance. Some of my favorite ideas are below.

[ The Live-In Kitchen ]

Absolutely trying this vegan zucchini brownie recipe. They look full of gooey, fudgy deliciousness.

Here are a couple ways to store your extras. How-to freeze zucchini in chunks and freezing shredded zucchini (useful for baked goods, soups and sauces).

[ The Nourishing Home ]

Zoodles! Add in some yellow summer squash for a little variety. Here is a helpful link on how to spiralize and she has a note at the bottom suggesting using a julienne peeler, which is what I use at home. One of my favorite ways to enjoy them is steamed, then tossed in avocado oil and parmesan with a little salt and pepper.

Honey just introduced me to fried zucchini for the first time. Yum, yum, yum is all I can say to that one. He prepares it by discarding both ends and cutting the remainder into nice, thin slices. Next, coat the slices in flour seasoned with pepper and garlic salt then drop them in hot oil to fry for a couple of minutes. Once they are golden brown, remove and drain on a cookie rack or tray lined with paper towel. Sprinkle with a little more salt & pepper for good measure, then enjoy!

[ The Pioneer Woman ]

Break out the grill for some lemony zucchini wedges.

[ Martha Stewart ]

Or you could get completely crazy and try some zucchini quesadillas. With avocado and smokey, mozzarella cheese...ummm, yes please.

What are you doing with all of your zucchini?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gruene, TX

Back in March, we flew down south for a five-day trip to Texas. We were splitting our trip between San Antonio and Austin, but our unplanned side trip to the pint-size historical town of Gruene is what I’d like to share with you today.

We spent the morning zip lining across Wimberely Valley in Texas Hill Country and made it back to base camp just as the first drizzles started to fall. As we jogged back to our vehicle, a sweet gentleman stopped us and asked what our plans from there were. We didn’t have any, so he quickly drew us a map of how to get to Gruene and suggested that the Gristmill be our first stop for an early dinner.

The building that houses the restaurant was part of Gruene’s water powered cotton gin, built back in 1878. The mill burned to the ground in 1922 and the only building left standing was its three story brick boiler room, now the Gristmill Restaurant. We rushed in from the rain and had a drink while we warmed our hands in front of the woodstove. The mill was cozy on a chilly, damp day with with fireplaces located throughout the entire restaurant and an abundance of happy people filling their bellies with good food.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to the most scrumptious salsa that my taste buds have ever encountered. It was so stinking good that I don’t remember what either of us ate for dinner.
This little town seems to be centered around Gruene Hall, Texas’s oldest continually operating dance hall, built in 1878. It’s been host to ‘up-and-comers’ George Strait and Lyle Lovett, to name a few. And does anyone remember the movie ‘Michael’? John Travolta’s famous dancing feet filmed a scene for the movie right on those old wooden floors. Plus, they couldn't go wrong serving ice cold bottles of beer.
The General Store had many delicacies to offer…Pickled Quail Eggs anyone?

We found a charming little wine tasting building dressed in wood siding and a tin roof. We stopped inside and I ordered a glass of red wine, while honey opted for a beer. Since it’s located in a historical town, we were actually allowed to take our beverages and continue exploring.
There were a few antique shops, a coffee house, a tea room and many other quaint little places that we didn’t have time to explore. We hope to visit again someday.

Cheers to unplanned adventures.



Monday, August 4, 2014

Kitchen Project {Part Two}

Now that we’d knocked out the wall, it was time to start working on the faux beams. Kelly was able to find a few boards of roughly milled red oak up at the farm. This wood had actually been logged from his great-grandmother’s property when his grandpa was just a boy, back when horses were used for logging.  

The planks were very rough, so we used a planer that allowed us to even out the thickness of the board while leaving it with a semi-smooth surface. Although the boards looked much better after being run through a couple of times, they still needed to be sanded.

We started by using a belt sander with 50 grit sandpaper, which helped to remove all of the black marks caused by the planer. We then switched to a finishing sander first with 80, then 220 grit to smooth down the whole board.  

We were left with these beautiful red-tinted oak boards, which prompted a debate on whether we should stain them dark or leave them in their original color. In the end, we decided to go dark. We used Minwax Oil-Based Ebony Stain, which soaks into the wood and turns it a rich, dark brown. The two wide pieces only needed two coats of stain, while the thinner piece will need a third coat.

Next step- hanging these puppies!  

Friday, August 1, 2014

National Parks Wish List

My sweet chinchillas, I’ve been feeling a little wanderlust-y.  One of my dreams is to visit all of the US National Parks in my lifetime, but here are a few currently at the top of the list.

Rocky Mountain

Photo Credit: NPS
This makes the tippy-top of the list because it is where we will soon be spending our honeymoon! I’ve been following Andy's blog for pictures, pointers and motivation.


Glacier Mountain

This is the park I chose to research for my fifth grade National Parks Project. It's only fair that all of that homework time should result in a vacation.   


A photo of preservationist George B. Dorr 


A little East Coast love. It's on an Island, plus we could stop along the way for a bona fide New England Clambake! You know, the kind where you dig the hole in the sand. How does that work anyways?

Have you been to any National Parks this summer?

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