Small Joys

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Happy Friday! Is it just me or are the weeks just flying by?

Life these days is rushing by at a breakneck speed. Perhaps it’s because every weekend is jam packed full of fun and life? We barely have time to recover, unpack, repack and keep up on daily chores before we head back out to some new adventure. It’s so fun and sometimes just a bit exhausting. But we had a friend point out that we’re merely living this stage of life to the fullest. After all how can I complain when everything we’re doing is so fun and enjoyable?

This week I’m so grateful that Dave has been home more. August is a natural quiet time for his business and I think he’s catching his breath a bit. I’m so proud of him and all the work he’s doing. He keeps using the phrase “when we make it” and I have to remind him we’re already making it! Not just making it, we’re thriving. I can’t imagine loving our life right now any more than we already do!

It’s been obscenely hot this summer and especially this week, so I’ve been loving mango fruit pops and frozen blueberries as my evening snack. So delish.

We’ve also been swimming in veggies since our farmshare ramped up a couple weeks ago. I love making dinner and everything on our plate being fresh. It’s one of my favorite parts of summer. I knew that growing my own garden was out of the question this summer, but I love still having and abundance of fresh local produce.

This weekend I’m headed to Ohio for a wedding and bachelorette party (2 separate girls). I can’t wait for dressing up, girly chats and some city fun. This country mouse enjoys a nice dose of city every once in a while.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Weekend Wandering: Into the Woods

Manistee080716We took this past weekend to introduce some of our high-school-aged friends to the fun of backpacking. We couldn’t tell if they had fun (we must have worn them out!), but we had a blast ourselves. We hiked only 11 miles in 2 days, but it’s one of the prettiest stretches I’ve hiked. The Manistee River Trail below Hodenpyl Dam is a quintessential hiking trail. As we walked along, we had the river on one side and fairyland forest on the other. The trail wove up and down creek beds, crossed foot bridges, and gave us many chances to look down on the river valley.

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I did things a bit differently on this trip. Usually I keep my camera in hand at all times and worry too much about capturing everything. This time I left my camera safe in my bad during the day and pulled it out after we were done hiking and were just chilling in camp.

The light was so much better in the evening and I loved soaking up the light and woods in this way.

Hope your week is off to a good start. We’re savoring these August days all the more because we know summer’s end is coming quickly.

Weekend Wandering: Up North 2016

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Happy Monday and first day of August!

I have to share a bit from our mini getaway this past weekend. It was our annual trip to the Leelanau/Traverse City area. We’ve gone up there the last three years at least once and every time we go, it gets better. This time we learned a couple more things and found some new favorites. I want to go back so badly (I’m already scouting out beautiful Airbnb rentals in the area).

We combined this trip with a reunion with some of our best friends after a year apart. It felt extra special to be on a beautiful vacation with people we really like. We spent a bit too much time in the car and in tacky shops, but since we never stopped chatting, even those less exciting parts of the trip were great.

We enjoyed some of the best beach days I’ve ever had on Lake Michigan and watched 3 stunning sunsets. Some of my favorite times were our meals on the enclosed porch overlooking the lake. I’ll share the cutest spots we discovered later, in case you want to plan your own trip and so I don’t forget for next year’s trip.

Life is good when you’re Up North with friends.

Happy Camper: Little Loves

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetThought I’d share some things I’ve been loving recently, since I haven’t been able to finish any of the other drafts I have. I want to concentrate on things I’m grateful for and loving, rather than things I want — cultivating gratitude instead of desire and all that. In a world with lots of bad news right now, I’ve tried to enjoy all the more the good things in everyday life.

This moisture gel for making my skin look so happy in the morning.

This little film of someone else’s trip to Iceland. I’ve been watching so many like this and putting together such a long list of places we want to visit. So excited!

Knowing that tonight I’ll be watching a sunset from this overlook:

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Watched The Fundamental of Caring with my office squad last week and enjoyed it. It was one of those movies that doesn’t fit into one category and is a pleasant surprise.

I don’t really know why, but when it’s extremely hot, plain water never sounds good. So I’ve been doctoring up different concoctions, usually involving the mint from my herb garden. With a fun straw and lots of ice, it makes it way easier to drink up.Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

This weekend is our mini summer vacation and I can’t wait. Dave and I can both use some time off to rejuvenate and soak up sunshine. We have tomorrow off and what a good week to cut short! Hope wherever you are you are seeing little joys and giving thanks.

 

4 years of you and me

Somehow Dave and I have been an “us” for 4 years today.

Somehow this feels like a bigger deal than our wedding anniversary was. Because our wedding was just a confirmation and cementing of what already was.

Last night we were lying in bed and I asked Dave if he knew I was going to be his wife 4 years ago when he kissed me for the first time. He totally surprised me when he said maybe not that night, but he did within a month after we started dating. I had no idea that he was sure about that so early on — sooner even than miss overly-attached me. A little piece of our love story that I didn’t know. I love that.

I’m a pretty sentimental person, so anniversaries are special to me. I love looking back how far we’ve come and look forward to what still will. So happy I get to do life with that handsome guy. Here’s to many more years!

P.S. Our love story here.

 

Small Joy: Cold Brew

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This summer has been unusually hot for this part of the state. Usually things cool off during the night and I need a light sweater on the way to work. But instead, we’ve run our ancient hand-me-down air conditioner multiple nights and hid out in the bedroom (the only room that the AC can cool). In the morning, a hot cup o’ joe is the last thing I want. Consequently, I’ve been dabbling in the world of homemade cold brew and iced coffee.

Once I figured out a technique that works for us, my dabbling quickly descended into an addiction. When I tasted how much smoother and less bitter cold brew is, it’s hard to go back. I am not exaggerating when I say that my coffee has become my 2nd or 3rd favorite part of every day.

In case I’ve piqued your interest, here is the recipe that works for me. You may need to tweak it for yourself, but don’t be discouraged. It took me a couple tries to figure out exactly how I like it. (in fact, my batch from last night didn’t turn out very well because I didn’t give it the full brew time. C’est la vie.)

Ingredients:

  • 4.5-5 cups water
  • 1 cup course ground coffee beans (I would recommend a medium roast like this)
  • milk (I love this coconut-almond milk)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ice!!

Equipment

  • A french press (or a carafe and sieve)
  • Coffee grinder
  • a drinking straw or two
  • your favorite glass or drinking jar (I drilled a hole in a canning jar lid because I refused to pay $10 for a pre-made one. It works great and keeps me from spilling in the Jeep on the way to work)

Instructions

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  1. I like to grind the beans fresh and coarsely. I’m not too particular, but it does help to have the grounds coarser.
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  2. I dump 1 cup of the grounds into the french press with the water. I used to measure, but don’t anymore because it holds just about the right amount of water. I let the mixture to sit for 18 hours on my counter. I usually make my brew at dinner time and drink it for breakfast — easy peasy. coffee2
  3. After 18 hours (give or take, this isn’t a science. Just figure out what works for you), I push the french press down and either stick in the fridge or mix with milk and a bit of maple syrup. I used to remove the grounds and filter through a coffee filter, but have gotten lazy, especially because keeping the grounds at the bottom haven’t made that big of a difference in taste to me. I usually do 1 cup cold brew, 1 cup milk and 1 tbsp syrup with 4 ice cubes. I like my brew stronger, so the milk creates a lovely iced latte.coffee1
  4. The best part is sipping on such a yummy drink. I love using a fun glass and straw. Somehow, it’s never quite enough.

If you try this and have any success I’d love to hear about it. Small daily joys like these are crucial in a wold where evil and hurt are so prevalent.

Goals

I’m a lover of lists, summer, and goals. Which means I’ve combined all three and present my summer goals list.

video // we have a big trip planned for this fall and I’m determined to take quality photos and videos of our adventures. I want to be able to capture some beautiful moments to enjoy later without spending the whole time looking through a viewfinder. Which means I’ve been practicing this summer in hopes of increases my skill and decreasing the time it takes for me to capture views.

herb garden // I gave up on growing a garden this summer and we’re getting local produce through a weekly farmshare, but I figured an herb garden can’t be that hard. So far I’ve kept my basil, mint and rosemary alive. And it’s so lovely to have fresh mint any time I want to add it to a drink.

Leelanau // We spent a weekend in Glen Arbor last summer and it’s one of my favorite memories of 2015. I remember driving along M-20 with the top down and savoring every moment. I can’t wait to get back up there and do a whole lot of nothing in one of the prettiest places.

Hudson // this is obvious. But every project takes just a bit more time than we expected and with free time scare in the summer, there are still plenty of things to do on our trusty little camper. Luckily that doesn’t stop us from putting him to use. This weekend, he got to play guest-room to our visitors and did a great job.

road trip plan // as I alluded to above, we have a big trip planned. We’re finally heading to Iceland this fall. We’ve reserved a 4×4 little camper van and plan on circling Iceland’s Ring Road for 10 days. This has been one of Dave’s dreams since he was a kid and a dream that I’ve been more than happy to adopt as one of my own.

skin care regime // considering I’ve struggled with acne for 10 years, I decided it’s time to get it under control. It’s a bit sad how easily skin issues can corrode confidence. I’m not sure why, but it seems to be a fact that many people suffer from. So this summer I’ve determined to beat it. So far I’ve been really happy with

studio // I have a room all to myself in our house (Dave gets the garage) that I’ve made into an office/studio/craft room. It’s really great, but I’ve been trying to get it to a place where it feels more like a real room than our storage room with a desk in it.

These aren’t that lofty, but writing them out helps inspire me to take steps to reach these. Considering we’re pretty much half way through summer, it’s a good thing I’ve already started most of these.

Summer Loves

Happy Monday!

Since we can’t go back and physically relive this past weekend, I’m doing so in digital form today. The things that made it so enjoyable were small and simple. Cancelled plans on Saturday meant we did one of my very favorite things: farmer’s market breakfast date! I even made us go to bed earlier on Friday night, so that we could get a little “sleep in” and get up early enough to get a cup of cold brew (I’m afraid of them running out before we get some). I’m addicted to iced coffee in general these days, but the cold brew from Heirloom Coffee Co. is my very favorite right now. It’s probably a good thing it’s only available on Saturday morning, otherwise I might need an iced coffee budget.

I thought peony season had escaped, without me finding any to take home and enjoy. But happily we found the prettiest bouquet on our way out of the farmer’s market with peonies in them. I resisted the urge to take them to work, just so I could look at them during the day.

After setting my summer capsule, I ended up returning the black jacket and got this dress instead. When I say I wore it all weekend, that is not an exaggeration. The only time I took it off was while we painted our little camper on Saturday afternoon.

I’ve found my absolute favorite nail polish color last week. (Sidenot, just googled “favorite synonyms” and came up with no good alternatives so I’m sticking with “favorite” though it sounds redundant) My toenails usually sport some shade in the pink to red family, but for the first time in ever, they’re playing it cool with Get Mod. *heart eye emoji* time 10.

If you find yourself in possession of a large amount of farmshare rhubarb and none of the ingredients for either pie or crisp, just boil it down with some strawberries and lime juice, puree with stick blender, allow to cool and pour over strawberry ice cream. It’s simply delish. We polished off almost an entire quart of ice cream that way on Sunday. What can I say, it was hot.

The rest of our weekend was filled with activities like cleaning, laundry, garage organizing and such. Though not really my favorite in the moment, I’m a pretty big fan of the results and the less stressful week they produce.

Hope you enjoy the rest of June and are savoring all the wonderful little things that summer brings your way.

Haiti 2016: An Update

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On Saturday, instead of packing up and heading to Haiti like we had planned, we’ll be staying home and probably not doing anything remotely exciting. And we’re ok with that.
We were so excited when we announced our intent to head on a mission trip to Haiti. It was a huge step of faith and we were ready for that.
And then we started hearing murmurs of a virus in South and Central America. So, to be completely honest, we’re not going because of Zika. It’s a simple explanation for a decision that wasn’t made easily.
We spent the last couple months researching, praying and discussing the pros, the cons, and everything in between. It took us a while, but once we decided against going, we have been filled with complete peace about it. There is a tricky line between fear and appropriate caution, and we really tried hard to do what was wise and not let panic creep in.
Ultimately, the CDC’s recommendations have been cautionary and the correlation between Zika and Microcephaly in infants is high. There are also known risks to adult and children who contract the virus, including triggering Guillian Barre Syndrome. With all this in mind, we decided that for 1 week in Haiti, these are risks that aren’t wise for our family to make at this time.
We are so grateful for everyone’s support and love through this journey. We’ve learned so much about our family’s heart for mission and we know it will be a part of our life’s vision going forward, whether local or abroad. Even though we aren’t actually going on the trip, the whole experience has been so valuable.

Summertime in Northern Michigan

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There are few things sweeter than a day spent outdoors. I’ve found that in order to get Dave to relax, the easiest thing to do is whisk him off to a place where he’s far away from cell reception, house projects and his work inbox. This weekend past weekend, we did just that and did some camping in Huron National Forest. Just thought I’d share a couple photos because it was lovely.