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.

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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.

Michigan the Beautiful

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I’m sure you’ve noticed how much I love my home state, Michigan. While we may not live in the most interesting place — I like to compare our neck of the woods to a pancake — we’re never too far away from an adventure just waiting to happen. Michigan is one of those places that doesn’t exist anywhere else, mostly because of the Great Lakes. We take them for granted, but we’re they define so much of life around here. During the summer, we find ourselves in many cute shops and art studios all over the little towns and beaches. If I had walls that needed art here are some things I would love to fill our home with. I love these both for their beauty and because I have strong emotional ties to the subject matter. I hope you enjoy them.


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Found Here These prints are stunning. Unfortunately I can’t afford them all.


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Found Here This is the cutest. Wouldn’t it’d be perfect as wallpaper too.


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Found Here Dave and I spent so many hours on this beach in the UP. It’s even more beautiful in person.


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Found Here This artist’s work is so complex and enjoyable. I love his detailed drawings as well.

Hosting Easter: 5 Simple Decor Ideas

I remember looking around our little house at Christmas time and feeling like it was finally a Home. We had spent the end of Thanksgiving weekend decluttering and pulling out our meager Christmas decoration. Something about the seasonal decor brought the perfect atmosphere and I dreaded the day we’d have to pack them away. However, I’ve been surprised how much I continue to love our home for each new season.

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This year, Dave and I have the honor of hosting our Family Easter. Which means I have an excuse to decorate for Easter.

Our main living space is painted light green and decorated in white with dark wood and some other neutrals sprinkled throughout. The color scheme works so well for spring that I don’t need much. I wanted to keep my budget small, so I’ve been diy-ing it up. Here are some of my budget-friendly, simple easter ideas:

  • painted plastic eggs — I used chalk paint and de-neonified these babies. Super easy and I grabbed the eggs from a resale store, though I’m sure most people have them lying around.
  • budding branches — I remember as a child bringing snipped branches from bushes into our home every year, sticking them in a vase, and waiting for them to grow little mini leaves. Then we hung decorated eggs from the little branches. I’m hoping all my branches grow little leaves in time for Easter. Grow, baby leaves, Grow!
  • chalk sign — Oh my! I saw this phrase on a sign at Hobby Lobby and loved it, but did not love the colors or design. So I took a picture and recreated it on a chalkboard we have left over from our wedding. It makes me smile every time I see it.
  • wheat grass — I actually grabbed one of these in the grocery store for the cats (trying to curb their succulent eating habits with better alternatives). But they look so cute that I thought they’d make good centerpieces and grabbed a couple more. I’m thinking with a couple eggs nestled in I’ll have myself super affordable table decor.
  • bunny rabbits — We found some really, really ugly rabbit figurines from the resale shop and spray painted them. voila, pottery barn-esque, subtle bunny cuteness for the season.

I can’t wait to see how everything comes together. All the freshness and white is making me unreasonably excited.

Have a wonderful weekend! You know I’ll be Easterfy-ing our whole house.

 

 

Web Wanderings

Happy Friday!

We spent last night tobogganing with my coworkers and it totally felt like the weekend started a day early, until I had to go to work today.

A friend sent me this a couple days ago and it was good to see someone addressing the fear that living ethically is too expensive.

Un-Fancy is back!

These earrings are lovely.

Going to try and make this delicious looking tart for our small group this weekend.

Had this app recommended and have been enjoying it. It’s pleasantly designed which is a requirement for anything I keep on my phone. Plus, since deleting the Facebook app off my phone, when my mindless scrolling urge kicks in, I can read this one instead

I’m debating hard between this dress and this one for my spring capsule. I have 2 weeks before I have to decide.

I’m loving the tiny gold double earring look (I know I’m late to the trend). But I need to find the right combo. I’m thinking this one is a winner:

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Maybe with these?

I work at at wellness company, so we’ve been super excited about the new Fitbit all week. This is the first one I really want. It combines all the functions I wanted in one. So maybe it’s time to upgrade from my almost 3 year old Zip?

Have an awesome weekend! February is almost over!

 

Podcast Favorites

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Thought I might share some other things that are my favorites these days: Podcasts. All of them. All the time.

I started listening to podcasts over a year ago when I realized I could occupy my left brain at work while my right brain did all that creative stuff. It’s been a great system. I’ve listened my way through so much stuff. But as I have some favorites have risen to the top. I thought I’d share some of them.

Note: Just because I like these and recommend them, doesn’t mean they all represent my opinions or views. We’re all big people here, so let’s make up our own minds about stuff. Okay? Okay.

The Minimalists Podcast — “Love people, use things. The opposite never works.” This is one that Dave-man and I are listening to over and over. We love just about everything they have to say about life. (It’s amazing how well minimalism seamlessly integrates with our faith)

The Longest Shortest Time — “a family show, not just for parents.” File this away in mommy prep and hilarious stories.

The Nourishing Buzz — As I’ve been more concerned (read: obsessed) with healthy nutrition, this has been a fun and informative resource

This American Life — A classic. I’m sure you know about this one. But did you know you can listen to all their episodes online?

Modern Love — A newbie on the block, still waiting to see if it’ll be a regular. So far so good.

Lore — When I need a little a campfire story, this is my go to.

Criminal — The last episode, “Perfect Specimen” was a home run. Some can be a little gruesome and some can be awesome. Use that discretion.

The Mystery Show — I’m waiting on pins and needles for this one to have a season 2. Watch out where you listen, might find yourself giggling like a mad person while people give you the side eye.

Serial  — The one that got me hooked on podcasts in the first place.

99% Invisible — A goodie all about design in the world. A+


Here to Make Friends
— A recent find that feeds into my love of the Bachelor. A fun recap of the past episode.

Stuff You Missed in History Class — I went on a binge of these a while back and completely over did it. Now I am finally starting to enjoy them again.

The Message  — A quickie. Some podcast fiction to add to your routine.

Start Up — If you’re interested in the inner workings of the beginning of businesses, this is a no holds barred documentation of start ups.

And that’s about it for now. But I want to hear about your favorites. Please. If you enjoy podcasts and have one you can’t get enough of, please share the love!podcasts.jpg

 

 

Home is Best

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Somehow today is a good day. I think it’s a combo of sunshine and temperatures that are above freezing (33 degrees) and have the birds singing. It’s hard to be grumpy about Monday when it feels like Spring on the first day of February. I have high hopes for the groundhog and his shadow tomorrow.

As I said on Friday, we didn’t have any plans for the weekend. It was the first Saturday that I woke up in my own bed in weeks. We spent Saturday and Sunday working around the house. The best part was an old college friend who just moved back to Michigan came to visit. I hadn’t had a friend visit like this since we got married. It was so refreshing to just welcome someone into our home and do life together for a day.

We tore our house apart to do two projects on 2 separate rooms at once (we’re crazy!) and ate the same stew for multiple meals to minimize cooking. We spent Friday and Saturday night running to hardware stores. College Esther wouldn’t be able to believe how “boring” life is now. Now Esther wouldn’t want it any other way. I love being home. I love nesting just a little more into our little yellow house. I love spending time checking things off a list and spending quality time with my favorite people and kitties. Just the perfect combo of hustling and lazing. Home is best.

 

 

Primping and Cleaning — Beauty Favs

I usually give myself 10-15 minutes to get ready in the morning before work. I love looking semi-acceptable but I wouldn’t describe myself as high-maintenance. Most days I’d rather sleep an extra half hour than do my hair. When I use products I want them to last all day (or week), do their job well, and help me strike out into the world with confidence. These are some of my absolute favorites:

201507301. Coconut Creme Cowash Cleansing Conditioner — I have a dirty secret: I haven’t shampooed my hair since February. I know! gross! Except I still clean it with this Co-Wash Conditioner. In college I washed my hair every day and always struggled with frizz. These days I sometimes go 3 or 4 days without washing my hair and my scalp adjusted and produces way less oil. Our bodies produce the right kind of oil to keep hair healthy so this conditioner washes away the dirt and grime without stripping the hair of all natural moisture the way regular shampoo does. I have noticed my hair is softer, less frizzy and doesn’t get oily nearly as quickly. I honestly don’t even miss the suds.


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2. Big Sexy Hair Powder Play — I bought this to add volume to my hair for the wedding and fell in love. Oh-my-Lanta this stuff is good. Just a little sprinkle and my day or two old hair looks not only looks brand new but has oompf and texture. I use it for just about anything. It’s the best.


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3. MAC Paint Pot (in Painterly) — I have always hated how eye shadow and liner transfer and crease and just generally don’t stay where you put them. I didn’t realize there were products that are meant to prevent exactly that. Another find when I was putting together my wedding look, this stuff is magical. I’ve been using it every day since February and I still have more than half a pot left. It’s worth a little splurge. completely, 100%. worth it.


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4. Arm and Hammer Essentials Deodorant — so this isn’t really a beauty product but it is an important part of getting ready in the morning. Supposedly the aluminum stuff in regular deodorant is a carcinogen. I used men’s old spice deodorant for a while, but finally discovered this non-aluminum more feminine product. Perhaps I’m not the most stinky person, but I do know that is works because I notice it on days that I forget to use it (sorry if that’s tmi).


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5. Thayer Unscented Witch Hazel — I picked this up just recently after getting my nose pierced and hearing this would help speed up the healing process. I’ve started using it on my face most evenings after washing my face and it feels so lovely. I’m still waiting to see if the initial decrease in blemishes will be long term or merely a coincidence. I used it on a sunburn and the aloe was so nice as is the fact that it doesn’t contain alcohol the way most witch hazel does.


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6. Electric Toothbrush — I finally became a grown up and got a new dentist since moving. At my cleaning they suggested an electric toothbrush. At first I didn’t really like it because it felt so rough on my gums, but since I’ve learned how to use it better, I love it. It has a timer, so I know how long to brush and don’t just guess about it. Plus when I’m done my teeth feel so much cleaner than when I used a standard toothbrush.


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7. Sally Hansen Miracle Gel — I’ve had two real salon shellac manicures and I loved them. Until I took them off and they wrecked my nails for months afterward. I picked up this new Sally Hansen Gel Polish for a wedding hoping it’d last the whole weekend. It surpassed my expectations. While it doesn’t last weeks like a salon gel manicure will, it does last at least 4 days chip free for me and I can usually get an entire week out of it.This stuff will probably be the only kind of polish I use forever. (I’ve also heard you can use the top coat over any kind of polish and I’m going to try that asap.)


Now that you know way too much about what I like to use to primp, maybe you’ll try something and like, let me know! There are few things I love as much as talking about girly products.

Summer Favs

Summer in #puremichigan is magical. It makes up for the terrible winters, except that it’s too short. The days are long and warm. The fireflies and crickets put on a show after dark. Grass is soft and bbqs become a daily occurrence. It’s easy to be happy and lighthearted during this season. This may be a bit cheesy, but all this to say Michigan summers are the best. A few highlights around here lately:

1. This romper. I couldn’t get on board with the romper boat until I found and tried on this one. It was love at first wear. It’s long enough in the torso to not give me a wedgie and the fabric is so soft. It’s my go to for Fridays at work because it feels like wearing PJs. In fact this is a very “professional” car selfie of me just this morning. Lookie what I’m wearing!

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2. This adorable succulent arrangement. I found it downtown last weekend when we stumbled on a street festival unintentionally. I’d been looking for some succulents to stick in the bathroom (have to be faux since there are zero windows in there). These were a steal and some of the cutest I’ve seen.

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3. My Madewell Transport Tote. Oh my. I’ve dreamed of this bag for years and Dave-man gave it to me as a wedding gift complete with my new initials “EMR.” It smells of leather and fits everything from a sweater to my dslr and pretty much anything else I might want. I’ve even used it as an overnight bag. I heard that it took the designers 7 months to perfect this tote and I have to say I can tell. There is nothing about it that I would change.

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4. Salads. All of them. Chicken Caesar , Asian Sesame, Cole Slaw, Southwest, you name it, I’ll eat it (minus the tomatoes, please). I’ve always loved salads, but in the summer they are the perfect food. We have at least one a day and somehow I don’t get tired of them. In fact right now my mouth is watering just thinking about a big ol’ crunchy bowl o’ greens.

5. Long evenings. I love having 5 hours of daylight left after I get home from work. It’s amazing. We’ve been pretty busy around here working on projects and such, so we need all the time we can get. Please excuse the unlandscaped and messy backyard in this pic, that is one project we haven’t gotten to yet.

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6. The weekends. Weekend are always nice. But in the summer they are wonderful. We tend to fill ours to bursting. Every Friday-Sunday is a new adventure and I love being able to be outside in the sunlight all day. In a way, I feel like Frederick the mouse — saving up all the sunshine and colors for when winter comes back.

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7. This little babe of a car. I’ve been calling him Mikey the Miata and Dave-man has spent countless hours in the garage tuning up his new baby. Since we’ve been together, this is our sixth car between the two of us. I have a man whose favorite pastime is craigslist and finding good deals on engines. This one is my favorite by far and I’m ready to sell my old Passat and drive this little “barbie car” full time. Now to only convince the hubby. 😉

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I have about 985 other favorite things about summer, but these are my top 7 right now. Do you love summer as much as I do? Anything you love in particular?

Have a wonderful summer weekend! We’re already packed up and ready to zip out of town at 5 tonight heading to the west side of the State and a weekend on Lake Michigan.

Happy Friday!

Wandering Prep, Part 4: minimal and cozy

I’m the kind of person that tends to have 3 favorite items of clothing at one time and then wear that one outfit out. So in a way this packing list will let me do just that. Favorite sweater + leggings + scarf = forever. This list might not be quite 3 items, but for 3 weeks I’m keeping it pretty minimal:Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 4.05.43 PM

gray cords | black skinnies | green wool cardigan | gray sweatshirt tunic | white cable knit cardigan

gray long sleeve T-shirt | breton top | chambray button down

dirndl | cami | tank top | scarves | PJs

leggings | fleece lined tights | warm socks

My plan is to take only my absolute favorite and most versatile pieces. With two pairs of pants, plus leggings, I’ll be more than set on the bottom half. And all the tops can be worn together and/or interchangeably.

I’m sure you noticed one piece that seems a little unique. Austrian ladies wear dirndl — the traditional dress — during holidays and special occasions. It’s based on the historical Alpine peasant clothing and includes a short blouse and apron. I have one that is blue with a red apron and never get a chance to wear here. So you can imagine my excitement to bust it out for Christmas Eve. Now I just need to convince Dave-man to get a pair of Lederhosen.

As a girl who   L o v e s   scarves it’s killing me to downsize the selection to two (plus one or two for my outerwear). But, committing to this mini wardrobe isn’t that bad because my two cousins overseas will let me borrow sweaters, scarves and such if I start to hate my own things. Also, I plan on doing a bit of shopping over there. So don’t think of me as some extreme wardrobe capsuler or something. I’m really just saving room in my suitcase for bringing chocolate back.

And for fun, I’ll leave you with some different combinations I came up with in case I want to mix it up from my favorite combo:

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