Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A few changes to the Dining Room

Hi Friends!  I thought I would share a couple of small changes I have made to our dining room this summer.  This feels like "pre-fall" decorating.  I really would like to completely redo this room at some point  (see my dining room PINTEREST BOARD to see what I have had in mind!) but a few little improvements should keep me going a while longer.  Can anyone relate?  :D

First up, this room has a vaulted ceiling and morphs into our living room so I have left the wall color and trim neutral-ish.  The walls are Behr "Harvest Brown" and the trim throughout our entire home is Dunn-Edwards "Whisper."  

I found this great table runner at Target earlier this summer.  I like the contrast of this yummy green with the other elements in the room:

Mums to remind me of cooler weather to come (it is currently in the 90s in SoCal!):

I bought this upholstery fabric from a remnant shop for $3 a yard!  I have enough to cover all 6 chairs in the room, but I felt that might look too matchy-matchy, so I left two chairs in their funky cheetah print.  I know it's unorthodox and I may change it but for now I can't seem to bring myself to do it.    

I rearranged some of the artwork in the room and added this antique mirror (formerly from our ENTRY ) simply because I hate not using it since it is a family heirloom.  I realize it is too much of a contrast with the square pieces next to it, so it may go soon.  My younger son told me it reminds him of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.  (I don't think that was a compliment!):

One of the new additions this summer is this pair of buffet lamps from Ballard Designs.  I chose the lampshades in burlap, and think the room feels more earthy and casual as a result:

Some of our wedding china is stored on this console that was purchased at Pottery Barn years ago:

Here is a shot looking back towards our front door...this is what an open concept home looks like:

And looking at the room straight-on:

(chandelier from Pottery Barn; lampshades from the former Pierre Deux)
This shot reminds me that Thanksgiving will be here before we know it and my older son will be on his first visit home from college (YAY!).

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my updated dining room.  


Monday, August 27, 2012

How to Cook Lentils


Lentils are really a healthy, sustainable and inexpensive vegan source of protein.  The problem is, I just haven't been able to eat them..............until now!  :D  Thanks to Caitlin of Roost, I feel I now know how to properly prepare them so that they are easily digestible. 

Although you will find that most people do not believe this is necessary, it is the soaking of the lentils that is crucial.  Caitlin and her husband follow a special diet (please see the beautiful photography on this blog as well as the amazing recipes!) so I figured I should try soaking the lentils and see what happened.

I have made them twice now and have been able to enjoy them tremendously with no problem!

To prepare lentils, cover 1/2C lentils in filtered water for 24 hours prior to cooking.

Rinse and drain:

Next, cook up a little bit of onion in olive oil...

Add the soaked and rinsed lentils, about 1.5C water and a vegetable bouillon cube:

Check the lentils after about 25 minutes.  They may need more time.  You want them soft but not too mushy.  When they appear to be done, drain any remaining vegetable broth off and add salt to taste:

pink Himalayan salt

And VOILA!!! Add more seasoning or herbs as desired. Lately I have been cooking up some local veggies in olive oil and then adding about 1/4C of my cooked up lentils at the end and throwing a few chopped herbs on top. Simple, healthy, sustainable and good! :D

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Victorian Charm: Ferndale, CA (tiny town!)

Hi Friends!  Today I thought I would share some images I shot in Ferndale, CA, en route to my son's college.  This is a tiny, historic Victorian town in far northern California near the breathtaking coast and is quite a wonderful departure from where we live in SoCal.  I loved the architecture and charm of this little place.  Ferndale is where food network TV star Guy Fieri called home for most of his childhood.  :)  He must be an adaptable guy because this town is TINY and yet he has successfully navigated Hollywood.  Crazy difference.  :)

Here we go!

Below is a shot of the main drag in town.  It is a super sleepy little town but oh-so-cute!

I loved this church, below:

I could have photographed every is a typical street: 

This abandoned bike had vines growing through it!

Lots of gingerbread:

The home below is more Arts and Crafts, but I loved the stone wall on the exterior:

Details of some of the intricate architectural mouldings:

Ferndale is just south of Eureka/Arcata on Hwy 101.  I noticed that the flowers were especially healthy what with all that ocean mist and fog they must get all the time.  While there, we had a quick snack and discussed whether or not we could ever live in such a tiny town...made for an interesting discussion.

I hope you enjoyed the images.  :)  I want to go back! 


Monday, August 20, 2012

My Minimalist Son and College

Hello Friends!  A couple months back, I shared about longing for a Minimalist Closet and to that end began de-thugging my own closet and joining Project 333 (that is the Project's Pinterest Community Board...for more info click here which will take you to  I am still working on it.  :)

and then...  

Last week we took our eldest son off to his (beautiful) college destination.  The size of his dorm room would have mortified the average teenager in our hometown, no doubt (particularly a female!), but he ended up with lots of space to spare.  How?  Because he is a total minimalist.  

His closet is below....the drawer unit is actually fixed in the closet and houses everything from his socks to workout clothes and clean towels...there is a lot of room in those drawers still!

The little basket atop the dresser houses his toiletries (yes, there is some plastic there, sadly!) and the two containers on the uppermost shelf are actually empty!   One of those containers is actually his trash receptacle.  He also has a recycling receptacle and that one is on the floor near his desk.

Four pairs of shoes include hiking boots, running shoes, regular tennis shoes and the flipflops that he was wearing.  Most of the time he is only in flipflops, but that will change with the weather.  :)

This son is the ultimate in reuse-recycle.  For example, his bath towels were former residents of the boys' bathroom  prior to it's makeover.  I only purchased a new set of washcloths for him for college.  And the bedspread had previously found it's home in our Guest Bedroom prior to it's black and white prettiness.  I had saved it to become a picnic blanket one day but never used it.  The bedspread is actually meant for a full-sized bed but when I asked him if he wanted it hemmed his response was a simple "no, don't bother-it will be fine."  I am glad it was a bit wide, actually, because his bed is raised to accommodate more storage underneath and it hides the ugly boxes he insisted on keeping for moving back after the school year (I mean, why recycle the boxes only to need them again?)!

On the desk side, there is more than enough room for his books, lamp, computer and other supplies.  Next to the desk, is another office-like file cabinet upon which rests his printer, reusable mugs/bottles and water heater for tea.

I guess I should mention that he plans to study Environmental Science.  :D

I love the view from the front of the dorms:

He did not want a microwave or mini-fridge (these are in the lounge anyway should he need them) since he is eating on campus for his meals, and did not bring a TV or gaming system.  The campus is super hilly and fairly contained, so he did not wish to bring a bike.  These things may change, but again, he is a minimalist.  His room was a nice respite from the other dorm rooms that we saw which were so crowded with far too much STUFF!

Within four days he had done one load of laundry.  This is what happens when you don't have a ton of clothes.  :)

If you are interested in helping your child become more minimalist, there are some great tips here:

I am working on son #2.  :)  My husband has always been extremely green, but I only joined this awesome way of thinking a few years ago and still need improvement.  To read about the changes we have made so far please click here.  While it may seem that GREEN and MINIMALISM do not go hand in hand, if you begin to practice zero waste, you will see that they actually do.  :)

Here are a few more images from the college trip just for fun:


Not a bad place to study!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Using up ALL of your Produce for the Week!

CSA strawberries are the BEST!

I absolutely LOVE getting a CSA from our local farm each week.  Sometimes, I will admit, it can be a challenge to use it all up in creative ways.  Anyone know what I mean?  :)  On occasion, I have been guilty of tossing spent produce into the compost like most anyone else.  However, as many of you know, I dislike excess and wastefulness ...and since we were going to be out of town moving our eldest son off to college, I wanted to use up the remains of our produce before we left.  Here is what I did (this might sound nerdy, but it worked!):

1.  First, I made a list of all the remaining produce in our fridge and on our counter (fruit bowl and basket).  Only a few things were not from our CSA box, including the apples, bananas, and red pepper. 


tomatoes (really a fruit)
1 red pepper
carrots-lots of them
leaf lettuce
kale-just a little bit
broccoli-just a little bit
green beans

2.  Now came the fun part!  :D  I looked at the list and figured out what I could make with what we had:
SALSA, using the tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro
CABBAGE SALAD, using the cabbage and adding the red pepper, some carrots and parsley
SMOOTHIES, using berries, banana, squeezed oranges, and KALE
SALAD, using the lettuce, onion, carrots and tomatoes
GRAPEFRUIT CAKE, as a dessert
WATERMELON, on it's own (naturally!)
APPLES, for snacks and BAKED, for a dessert

3.  I then planned our meals around all of the above ideas.  For example, the steamed veggies were side dishes, the salsa was incorporated into a Mexican-style casserole, the salads were eaten as main dishes, etc.

I am happy to say that all this amazing produce has been accounted for (except for a couple of onions and carrots).  Hopefully this little post will help someone who tends to toss produce or needs a little inspiration to use everything up.  Remember, too, that many fruits and veggies can be prepped and frozen (or canned for that matter).


Gluten-free brownie with fresh strawberries!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Images and Big Changes ahead...

WOW, this getting my older son ready for college thing has been tough!  I am excited for him, so excited....and also worried, nauseated, sleepless, happy, hopeful....and just about any other emotion one might conjure up.  I am happy to take any prayers.  :)

I know next week will be very full as well so I thought I would post some images from this summer.  Yes, I realize it is only early August, but before you know it I will be packing up lunches for school for myself and my younger son, Jay, and working myself weary again.  I DO so love having summers off!!!  Definitely a huge perk of working in education.  :)

Enjoy the photos.  Some were taken by Jay. 


Each day is a gift....that's why it is called the Present, and I have tried to enjoy each moment I have left at home with my older son!

The college boy...

The artist boy...he LOVES his bike and has tinkered with it a tremendous amount this summer.

Together we have... 

shared some great food...

And we have seen some beautiful things...

(below is our front yard urn...)

(...possibly my dream home below if it were a bit more cottage-y...;)

Oh and just putting it out there:  I would really, really LOVE a simple (read:non-roadie, non-racing/triathlon) bike with a basket:

Beautiful Dana Point, below:

a precious Golden girl who smiled for the camera...

sweet wooden boats... 

...sailboats only need apply...

I know the road ahead will be filled with some sad moments as my son moves off to college, but I am also excited to see what lies ahead and where I'm going as a mom.  I am so very grateful to have friends to lean on and a God I trust!

Hope you liked the photos!  :D

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