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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Yellow House Adventures: Kitchen Reveal

Oh hey, remember when I talked about updating our kitchen?

Well, it’s been done since Easter and I just never got around to taking pictures. Anyway, I finally remembered to do it and I can’t wait for you to see how great it looks. We didn’t change any of the layout or functions, so I’ve haven’t had any adjustment in that sense. I’d gotten so used to how nice it all is, that I was shocked how bad it was when looking back at pictures. The kitchen was the last room to get a makeover because I really didn’t think it was that bad and really it was Dave’s idea to do anything to it. But now I can’t believe what a difference a couple coats of paint, a new countertop/sink and white appliances can make.

I fall in love with this little house all over again every time I take a step back and realize how cute it really is.

To summarize the work we (Dave and a friend did most of the real work) did, I’ll list it here before you see the amazing results:

  • Paint Cabinets
  • New Countertop
  • New Sink and Faucet
  • Backsplash
  • Valances
  • Coat Rack
  • New (to us)  Stove
  • New (to us) Fridge
  • New Light Fixture
  • New Range Hood
  • Magnetic Knife Board
  • Extra Surface between Fridge and Range (This is amazing, it added 30% more counter space and filled a really awkward gap in the kitchen.)

Starting off with a couple before/after shots:

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And here are shots of just about every angle of the room:

 

Hudson the Camper

Can you tell I have camping on my mind? Oh boy, so I had been stalking Craigslist for weeks looking for the right trailer for us. And last Wednesday I finally found it. Dave went to check it out and everything worked out so that he bought it, and now we’re the proud owners of this handsome dude:

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He’s a little rough around the edges, but he is at least 50 years old. I named him Hudson and Dave calls him “Campy.” I feel a little silly giving him a name, but it just happened.

We’re not quite sure what the name and model of the camper are, though the back of it does have this faded decal:
5I’ve used my googling powers pretty hard and still haven’t found any clues as to what type of trailer ours is. There was an RV manufacturer in Tawas, MI called the Anderson Coach Company, but it closed in 1963. Supposedly they only used the best materials and were considered top of the line and also had another branch in Utah. I’m not kidding when I say that’s about all I know. (If anyone by chance knows more, I would LOVE to hear about it).

The interior of the trailer has already been pretty extensively redone. A previous owner had wanted it for a hunting hangout, but never finished it. He redid alot of the cabinetry and floor, however are no finishing touches at all. We’re lucky that the windows all still work and seem to be waterproof, the electrical is functional and the water damage is minimal. There are soft spots in the floor, but only small areas in the corners. We debated whether it was worth it to work on fixing them, but decided since we won’t be walking on the corners, we don’t know how long we’ll use this trailer and this doesn’t have to be flawless in order for us to enjoy it that we’d just prevent further damage and leave it as it is. We did not want to start pulling things apart.

Here are some before pictures of the state of the trailer when we bought it:

We’re not aiming for a perfectly restored retro trailer when all is done, we merely want a cozy little den to take on weekend trips into the woods. A simple place to hang out and be hospitable. If you’d like to follow along, I’m posting updates on Instagram — @hudthecamper.

To finish it out here are some of the logistical things we’re working with:

Budget: $1500 total

Goals:

  • Fix/waterproof Roof
  • Grind off Rust and Repaint Trailer Frame
  • Replace Tires
  • Install Trailer Lights, other safety features
  • Paint Exterior
  • Make Table convertible into 3rd bed
  • Get/Make/Find Mattresses and Cushions
  • Customize Kitchentte
  • Paint Interior
  • Window Treatment
  • New Light
  • General Cozy-fy

5 Steps to Build Your Own Capsule Wardrobe

capsule3I’ve been asked a couple time this week how to start building a capsule wardrobe and so I figured I just lay it all out there for you. If you’ve wondered how I did it, here it is!

(Past capsule posts: Decision to Start,  My Fall Capsule, What I Learned)

The fundamental mindset behind a capsule is a rejection of materialism. Your clothes do not make you. You do not need a new ____ for an event or to feel pretty or confident. A capsule wardrobe is meant to help you have a healthy relationship with your closet, not one ruled by whipping out your credit card whenever you feel stressed, sad or blah.

If you’re ready to get started, the Basics are:

  1. Purge — Only keep things that:
    • Fit you right nowcapsule
    • Work for your lifestyle
    • Are in good shape (you won’t wear something that’s worn out, no matter how much you used to)
    • Are right for the season (if something fits in all the other categories and you’re saving it for a different season’s capsule, pack it away for then)
  2. Assess — jot down on paper:
    • What styles of clothing do you need for you life? (casual, lounge, professional, formal, etc)
    • What is your style goal? (Do you want to be more urban, preppy, outdoorsy, etc.)
    • What color scheme do you want to wear for the season? (stick to a couple main colors and a few accents per season to keep things easy to mix and match)
    • What pieces are your current favorites? (These will reveal quite a bit about your style and the direction you should head in)
    • What outfits are your favorites to wear? (leggings and boots, sweater and jeans, 3 piece suit, etc.)
  3. Decide — Make guidelines for yourself:
    • How many items will your capsule include (Exclude: pjs, undies, workout gear, and cocktail attire)capsule2
    • A Budget (a reasonable amount to cover your needs)
    • Specific pieces you need (Identify what you need to fill gaps in your wardrobe and how much you will spend on it)
  4. Shop — God out or online and find pieces that are:
    • Within the budget you set for yourself
    • High Quality (try resale companies like ThredUp and ebay to keep costs down)
    • The right size (make sure they fit you right now)
  5. Wear — This is when you get to:
    • Wear only your capsule wardrobe for 3 months
    • Put away all other clothes into storage or donate (excluding pjs, undies, workout gear, and cocktail attire)
    • Don’t go shopping (I’ve found it helpful to stash things I’m tempted to buy on a Pinterest board and go back after the 3 months is over to see if I still want/need any of it)
    • Discover those same clothes in many different combinations.

You’ll find you have less clutter, an easier time getting dressed, and an improved sense of your style. I’ve found a surprising feeling of freedom from doing this. I can almost guarantee you will too.

Good Luck!

Further Resources: Unfancy |  Capsule Wardrobe Planner  | Project333 |  Capsules

My New Favorite Room

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Somehow I spent an entire week staying up until 1am painting and I survived. And now that I have a fresh and cheery bathroom, I actually think it might have been worth it. It isn’t done, but the most dramatic transformation is. While the pictures don’t go from terrible to amazing, it did become a pleasant space. Here is a little before/after comparison:Bathroom-beforeafter

My original plan was (full post here):

  1. Visually make the room feel larger with a lighter wall color (it’s still the bright blue you see in the first image) — I’m thinking a light gray.
  2. Incorporate some bead board — Just because I love it!
  3. Find a new solution to the medicine cabinet issue — probably just take it out and replace with a mirror against the wall
  4. Rework the space over the toilet to work better for storage.
  5. Set the storage situation up to prevent clutter on the vanity.

So far I’ve accomplished:

  1. New paint! A darker gray than I thought originally wound up being light enough to brighten up the whole room. And I painted one wall white which also helped.
  2. Bead board wallpaper in the toilet nock and east wall — this stuff is so cool. Cut it with scissors, wet it down, hang it up and then paint it. No sawing, nailing or heavy lifting work necessary the way true bead board would require. Magical!
  3. I removed the medicine cabinet and have a place holder mirror up for now — still looking for a pretty mirror to go above the vanity. I also updated the lighting above the vanity with a new fixture. It was my first adventure into electrical work, and I’m pleased with the result.
  4. The space above the toilet still is not finished, but I am currently working on a solution to create a bit more storage for all our extra toiletries and such. Keep an eye out for what I come up with. I’m excited and hoping my idea turns out as cute as I think it will.
  5. Storage — I’m a huge clutter bug… I leave my make up out and never put away my things. It drives me crazy, but I’ve realized I have to set myself up for success and create solutions that make keeping things tidy super easy. So the little cubby shelf next to the vanity helps quite a bit. We added 3 baskets that I can dump my curling irons and hair dryer into and sweep my hair products into another. It isn’t perfect, but it’s working better. Plus we have 3 cubbies for towels and toilet paper storage.

So far so good! I think the bathroom has become my favorite room in the house, which is awkward since I can’t just hang out in there. Dave-man and I are still commenting a couple times a day how much we love the transformation. This one goes down as a win in my books.

I’ll sign off with a couple more pics.

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Have a wonderful day!

Bathroom Peek

20150620_5I’ve finished the cleaning, deconstructing, wallpapering, painting, repainting, installing, and touching up of the bathroom. While not 100% done, I am definitely in the enjoying stage now. I can’t believe what a pleasant room our cave of a bathroom has become.

I will hopefully get a more extensive progress post up soon. Have a wonderful weekend!

The Evolution of a Vision

It’s no secret that Dave-man and I love a good adventure in the great outdoors. In fact I fell for him in the woods of Northern Michigan (full story here). Our wedding was always going to reflect our love for the outdoors and nature and my passion of crafting and handmade items.

When I started to imagine our wedding I saw lots of snow, sparkly stars, wool blankets, and cozy details. I thought a winter wedding would be perfect. Something along these lines:

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Once we realized our wedding date would be May 16… well all the visions of cozy sweaters and snowflakes were out of the question.

I played around with colors and textures. I considered the venue we had: a pretty average church building and gym. Everything came together into a vision that looked something like this:

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We planned and crafted and honestly once we got going I totally forgot I had created this little inspiration board. I was looking through our wedding pictures after we got them last week and I suddenly thought back to those early planning stages and realized we totally nailed it. Not only did we set a goal and hit it, I think it all turned out even more perfect that I could have imagined. I took that inspiration board and inserted the actual pictures from our wedding:

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I had to add a brown color swatch because we used much more burlap and brown than I first thought we would. But every other element either is spot on or even better than our inspiration.

Here is the icing on the cake of evolution of our vision for this day. We didn’t plan it in any way, but we happened upon a little path going through some woods during our couple portraits and our amazing photographer snapped this:

View More: http://sallyodonnellphotography.pass.us/esther-and-davidson

Doesn’t it just personify woodsy fairy tale to you? And that was our goal all along.

Wedding photos: Sally O’Donnell Photography

Refresh

Now that I can call the little yellow house that Dave-man has been fixing up for a year and a half “ours,” I’ve started to think of a couple things that we can do to it to make it even nicer. While I’ve been a pretty big helper with all the painting and cleaning and landscaping in the past, I never felt like I was free to voice my opinion any more than a suggestion when asked. But now?  Now it’s “my” home too. Now I feel free to let all my decorating and nesting powers loose.

First up is the bathroom. Here is a lovely picture from the Zillow page of our house (this is pre Dave-man purchase):IS-ssb3wdb0xw7x

It’s a tricky space to photograph and someone didn’t try too hard. 

To give you and idea of what this space looks like I drew up this super fancy floor plan:

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As you can see the room is long and skinny. There are no alternative options to layout and very few storage options. Currently there is a shallow medicine cabinet above the sink that sticks OUT into the room. Whoever thought that was a good idea…. well they’re a dummy. Having it stick into the already limited space in this room makes it feel smaller. The only other storage space is under the sink (ew) and another super skinny cabinet above the toilet.

Now that I’m done complaining, let me say it really isn’t that bad. The sink, toilet, and bathtub are fairly new and clean and it will only take a couple smaller tweaks to make this space much better. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Visually make the room feel larger with a lighter wall color (it’s still the bright blue you see in the first image) — I’m thinking a light gray.
  2. Incorporate some beadboard — Just because I love it!
  3. Find a new solution to the medicine cabinet issue — probably just take it out and replace with a mirror against the wall
  4. Rework the space over the toilet to work better for storage.
  5. Set the storage situation up to prevent clutter on the vanity.

Here is a little inspiration board I put together to visualize that I’d like to do. We received the shower curtain, tooth brush holder and towels as wedding gifts, so I want to build the whole bathroom look around those.

 

Now to get working on it!

Scarves for Days

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset This is the easiest tutorial. If you’ve never ever sewed anything in your life, this is the thing to get you started. It’s about 5 straight seams and you’re done. Zero complicated things. Since scarves + flannel + plaid is one of the winningest combos ever I suggest you make a couple for yourself and a few as Christmas gifts. I’m going to have a hard time giving away any of mine, I want to keep them all for myself.  ScarfTut_24.JPG Materials: — a 2 yard piece of flannel fabric — enough for 2 scarves, but you need it to be 2 yards long. — Scissors — straight pins — thread to match fabric — iron — sewing machine — if you don’t have a sewing machine, you could sew this by hand, as only straight flat seams are necessary. *Note on equipment: My sewing machine is a garage sale find (under $20) and my iron is essentially an heirloom from my grandma. So really don’t worry about fancy equipment, you just need a couple straight seams and to iron them to keep things neat. Continue reading