Author Archives: Laura
found on http://ignitelight.tumblr.com/
rainy day sunshine
originally found on pinterest (the pin wont link anywhere, so that’s all I can reference…)
the closet cleanse
I love clothes and all the accessories that go with, but I have a small closet (think coat closet here). Its a problem. When I first tried to fit all my stuff in my current closet, I would catch myself daydreaming of the walk-in I had in my Chicago studio apartment (it was almost the biggest room!) Back in reality, I scored one of the hall closets all to myself and use it for my dresses, skirts, sweaters and heels, which helps a lot. I employed perfect sized drawers, crates and baskets to help me fit everything else in the closet in my room, but over time I noticed only about half my clothes were in the closet at any given time. I had clothes in the bedroom closet, in the hall closet, all over my floor, in bins and baskets, in the laundry and in the garage. Finally, one day, while trying not to drown in a sea of scarves, I threw out a lifeline to myself…”I have too many clothes! Time to take control.”
And so I began the process of really owning what I own. I feel that being in the right frame of mind to do this is really important. I was ready to simplify my wardrobe. A few months before, I may not have been able to part with things or organize as well.
I started by making three different bins, one for stuff I wanted to keep for sure, one for things I could give up and the very important third bin that I could figure out later. I made myself get rid of at least one of everything…one coat, one sweater, one dress, one t-shirt, etc. ,etc. After going through everything, I bagged up the ‘give’ clothes right away. Then, I focused on the ‘not sure’ collection. I laid everything out and picked out one favorite to go back into ‘keep’. Feeling good. Next, I looked through the pile for things that I would wear if it was ‘improved’. For example, there was a pair of jeans I love but never wear because of a missing button and a light blue puffy vest that I want to wear, but don’t because of the color. A new button and some dye will hopefully fix those problems, so they get set aside in a new pile. From there, I picked my least favorite thing and throw it in the ‘give’ bag. The rest goes through individual decisions and quite a bit goes back to ‘keep’ so that I don’t stress myself out. Then I repeat the process with all my accessories (hats, tights, shoes, scarves, etc…).
As I looked at the size of the bag of stuff that I would no longer have to fit in my closet, I felt energized and relieved and rode that clothing cleanse high straight into organization.
I put everything from the ‘keep’ bin in piles…shirts, pants, socks, bags, workout clothing, etc. Then I pulled out all my baskets, crates, hangers and bins and got to work. I love using baskets and small fabric bins for hats, socks and tights and purses. For scarves and belts, I love a multitude of hooks that hang over doors and stay out of the way of everything else. My favorite thing is a fabric bin with a lid, which I store things in, but also use as a chair, a computer stand or to reach the baskets up top in the closet. I was so excited when everything I had kept fit in my closet(s) with a tiny bit of room to breathe. Sigh of relief.
3. DEAL WITH THE FIXERS
Once all my keepers were happily put away, I still had a ‘give’ bag and a ‘fix’ pile to deal with. I looked through the fixers and made a list of things I might need to fix them. I actually got rid of one more thing in doing this. Then I put them all in a box and made a deadline. If I don’t deal with these by the end of the year, I never will and we will then say our goodbyes.
4. GIVE, SELL AND DONATE
One of the best parts of this whole process was finally giving the clothes away. If something I dont need anymore will make somebody else happy, I’m happy. The first thing I did was let some friends go through my pile of stuff. Then I looked through one more time to see if there was anything I might be able to sell and actually picked out a few things. There are lots of ways to sell, such as garage sales or ebay and for me this time around it was a consignment store. I took in seven items, they took four and gave me $19. Deal. That money went to a savings for something special. Finally, I took what was left and donated it. There are lots of options here as well and I like doing a little research because I like to give to a womens shelter or local project if possible. This time around, I was able to donate to a rummage sale to benefit a local outdoor school that one of the kids I watch attends.
5. A FEW EXTRA IDEAS
Don’t forget to do the laundry! This process will be easiest if everything is clean and available to sort.
Do some detailed sorting. I found that I had more trouble getting rid of any skirts and dresses, so I went a little more intense in the sorting. I laid everything out and arranged by color and/or category. There was a gray skirt I had been contemplating that was then easier to get rid of because I saw that I had two other gray skirts. It also became more easy to see that I didn’t need five floral spaghetti strap summer dresses!
Prepare for the next round. I had seen a great idea on pinterest for hanging clothes and decided to use it. Basically, you hang up all your hangers backwards and then after something is worn, they get turned around. After a year or so, you can see easily if anything wasn’t used. And if you dont wear something over the course of a year, do you really need it!?
Try stuff on. For me, trying things on helped to make the keep or give decision. If something was far too tight, it went away. On the other hand, I found some things that were far cuter than I remembered and made sure they were easy for me to find in the future. Also, I know it is easy to think that something will fit once you lose those 10 pounds, but be careful about hanging on to things that aren’t being used. I kept a few of my favorite ‘tight’ things as a fun reward, but tossed the rest. If you lose enough weight to fit into things you can’t come close to fitting now, I say you deserve a shopping trip for new stuff! 🙂
Make a shopping list. Once I had a fuller grasp of what was in my closet, I made a list of a few things that might help my wardrobe out. For me, this included a colorful cardigan, a versatile black skirt and a neutral lacy top among a couple other things. That way, when I’m shopping I can buy what I need and can build more outfits with instead of dropping money on something I already have!
It took time and made a mess for a little while, but it was worth the clean closet (and mind) in the end and I wish you the happiest of sorting, organizing and giving!
So, in honor of Thankgiving, I thought I would share a recipe I recently discovered.
I have been going crazy over fall inspired food lately, making pumpkin bars and cookies, soup with squash, and apple everything, so it was about time for some cranberries! I had purchased some at farmers market and was looking for ideas, so when I found this simple cranberry jelly option as the holidays were fast approaching, I knew it was the perfect time to try it. It also didn’t hurt that it used apple cider, which I love and had just made a batch of!
I cut the original recipe in half because I only wanted to make a jar or so to start, so feel free to double (or triple or whatever)! Also, just as a random fyi (something I learned along the way), a pound of cranberries equals about 4 cups.
2 cups whole cranberries
3/4 cup sugar (I used organic)
1/4 cup apple cider
lemon juice (optional)
1. Combine cranberries, sugar and cider and simmer until the cranberries burst. (they will make a fun ‘pop’ sound)
2. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir.
3. Once it has cooled a minute or two, do a taste test. If it is too tart, add a bit more sugar and return to the heat for a minute. If it is too sweet, add a little lemon juice.
4. Once the flavor is right, press the mixture through a food mill or sieve to separate the skins.
5. Place the remaining jelly into a clean jar.
I found this amount to make about a small jar of jelly. My understanding is that this recipe holds up fine to a full hot water canning process, so if you’ve got a lot of cranberries on your hand you can make lots and save it for later! For me, I loved something simple and quick that I could just stick in the fridge and enjoy now.
The jelly made a proud appearance on the Thanksgiving dinner table and has also been delicious in cream cheese and turkey sandwiches! Yum!
found original recipe on food in jars
Something awesome is happening on my photo blog, daily perspective, right now. I just posted my 1000th photo a week ago! To celebrate, I am giving away free prints of photos from the blog and you get to choose which one you want!! Find out more on the blog and tell me your favorite before the holiday ends!!! 🙂
Meet CJ. Yes, CJ stands for change jar and yes, I named it.
I was given this handy change-saver for Christmas last year and I have to say its one of the best investments I’ve ever (not actually) made! (gift) It provides such an easy and fun way to save all that spare change floating around. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to fill or how much money that would be, but I am excited to say that it now holds over $150! I am looking forward to cashing it in for something special soon and highly recommend CJ as a way to organize and save.
Here are a few quick tips for ways to collect more change:
Designate a place for your change. It doesn’t have to be a fancy counting jar like CJ. Any old jar or bowl or bucket will do.
Create a goal and/or reward. If you know that you are saving your pennies for a night out, a massage or a $100 shopping trip, you are simply more likely to save the coins.
Use Cash. Obviously, the more you use cash instead of cards, the more change there will be. It is also a great way to budget and limit overspending.
Round it Up. Loose change manages to find its way everywhere, from pockets and purses to washing machines, car consoles and counter tops. If you see it, touch it or hear it, gather it up and put it in its designated place. The occasional floor cleaning cushion turning change hunt can be a fun activity as well.
Happy change saving!
p.s. If you are interested in this specific product, find it here on Amazon. There are lots of other counting change jar options out there as well.
thinking. longing. loving this today.
Recently (ok so it was two months ago), I was staying up near Mount Hood and had planned a late morning hike. After doing a little research and getting a couple recommendations, Mirror Lake seemed to be the perfect fit. The trailhead is easy to find just along the southside of Highway 26 between Rhododendron and Government Camp. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead and can be purchased nearby.
The trail travels about 1.5 miles uphill at a steady pace (total hike is about 3 miles roundtrip with a 750 ft. elevation gain). It is not too strenuous, but is a good workout. Most of the hike meanders through forest and over a small stream here and there, but also offers some great views of the forest.
Once the lake is neared, the trail can be followed in either direction to loop around it. Mirror lake itself does not disappoint. It is a serene little lake with a wonderful view of Mt. Hood. There are several campsites along the trail and a few areas of “beach” to stop for lunch, rock-skipping or reflection.
I am so glad that I stopped for this hike. It was a beautiful day and I had a wonderful time exploring, taking photos, reflecting and soaking up some Oregon sunshine. I will definitely go back!
homemade honey nutmeg mask
As I’ve mentioned before, my sensitive skin and I are on the search for some great homemade beauty products. When I saw a post about this acne mask, I knew I had to give it a try.
All three of the ingredients in this mask help to heal the skin. Nutmeg has long been known and used as an anti-inflammatory and has antiseptic properties, making it incredibly healing. Honey is a natural moisturizer and is packed with antioxidants. It heals, protects and rejuvinates. Milk is naturally soothing and lactic acid is also a great exfoliator.
I was a little nervous about this one because I had read some reviews in which people complained of their skin burning (most likely due to nutmeg sensitivity), so I tested a small area before I smothered it all over my face. Green light. The mask was simple to make and easy to apply. I have to admit that while it was on, I felt nothing. I wasn’t sure that it was actually doing anything, but once I took it off my skin just felt happy. I look forward to using this again!
1 Tablespoon Raw Honey
1 Tablespoon Ground Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Milk (recommend whole organic)
1. Combine ingredients.
2. Spread mixture generously on face and neck and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
3. Wash mask off with water.
found recipe on huda beauty
pumpkin chocolate chip bars
I love breaking out the yummy fall inspired pumpkin recipes once the season rolls around. This recipe was simple, pretty healthy and delicious.
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat an 11 x 7 pan with cooking spray, butter or parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, eggs and oil until smooth.
3. In a separate smaller bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, spices, salt and brown sugar. Add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Pour evenly into baking pan and bake for 15-20 minutes. Insert toothpick to check for doneness.
originally found on pinterst via pennies on a platter
doing what i love
I have been on a blog hiatus. On purpose. Kind of. Life got busy and I needed some room away from all the screens to breathe. While I was away, I found some fresh air, but I lost the motivation that comes from the discipline of making my thoughts, photos, musings, projects and inspirations public in blogland. Not only does it motivate me, but I genuinely love the creative outlet of blogging.
And so I am back. Doing something I love. Looking for motivation to do more of what I love. And to let this love infiltrate all that I do.
What do you love? What would you love to do?
learning through the lens
found via pinterest and origianlly from here (where you can buy prints)
how to freeze berries beautifully
Recently, a fellow vendor at farmers market gave me a tip for freezing berries that will change my life. She told me that if you pre-freeze them on a cookie sheet, they freeze as whole berries and do not get smashed together in the bag or container. I do not know how I had never heard this before! I headed home after market excited to try this new trick with my excess of freshly picked berries. After doing a little research and picking up a few other tips, I went for it and am very pleased with the results.
Here is the process:
First, aquire beautiful berries. This go-around was raspberries for me. I recommend checking out your local farmers market!
Next, wash the berries. It works great to place the berries in a strainer or colander of some sort. Then, submerge that into a bowl of water and gently swirl the berries around.
* Using the colander/strainer helps to both keep the berries from getting blasted with water and allows dirt, etc. to drain into the bowl below.
Let the berries drain and dry for a little while either in the colander/strainer or by laying them out on some paper towel.
Now arrange the berries onto a baking sheet and stick it in your freezer. I left mine in overnight and it seemed about right.
When you take the berries out of the freezer, they will be individually frozen and easy to transfer to a bag or container.
*If you are using a bag, use a freezer bag. I have tried get away with using the non-freezer type. Not the same.
Place the berries into a bag or container and seal well, being sure to force as much air out as possible.
*If you are using bags and are not lucky enough to have a vacuum sealing system (or are gifted with my inability to properly close bags), try placing a straw at one end of the sealing strip. Squeeze as much air out as you can and then suck the rest out before you close the end of the sealing strip.
Don’t forget to mark your bag or container with the contents and date! (easier to do this before you put the berries in a bag)
Place back in freezer to keep and enjoy later!
homemade cucumber mask
If you know me, you know I have crazy sensitive skin. (yay!) If you don’t know me, you know that now too, I guess. I sunburn in about a half a second, have a bazillion allergies and have been trying forever to find beauty products that I can use safely. I don’t know why it took me so long to get in on the homemade beauty product scene, but I am there now.
Below is a recipe for an oatmeal cucumber face mask. All of these ingredients have benefits for your skin. Basically, I just threw it all in a blender and then put it on my face. Simple. It pretty much looks like cucumber oatmeal out of the blender. (Okay, so it basically is cucumber oatmeal) I was a bit apprehensive at first…thought it was going to slide off of my face and get all over my clothes. Still, I was hopeful, so I put a headband on, put a towel on the floor and put the mask on. I also set aside a couple cucumber slices for the eyes. Let the healing begin!
About a minute into the experience, I thought, “I have cucumber oatmeal on my face. What am I doing?”
Two minutes into the self-made spa moment, I realized the mask was not sliding off my face, but I was still feeling a little silly.
Then, somewhere around minute three, I felt the mask working. It tightened and my skin felt tingly and cool in a refreshing sort of way.
I kept the mask on for about 20 minutes. The last 17 minutes were spent trying to let my body re-teach me how to relax. Seriously, when is the last time you actually cleared your mind and tried to relax your muscles intentionally? It had been a while for me. (sleeping doesn’t count)
After I washed the mask off, my skin felt and looked refreshed. And, surprisingly to me, I felt refreshed. Overall, this was a very positive experience and I will absolutely make this mask again.
1/2 Cucumber, cut into chunks
1/4 cup Oatmeal
1 T. Raw Honey
1 t. Aloe*
1 t. Avocado Oil*
1.Combine ingredients in blender or food processor.
2. Spread mixture generously on face and neck.
3. Lie down and relax for at least 15 minutes.
4. Wash mask off with water.
*The aloe and avocado oil are optional and avocado could be used in place of the oil as well.
colorful cash envelopes
Last year, I finally decided to embrace a cash envelope system to help control my budget. (something that has gained much popularity thanks to Dave Ramsay’s Total Money Makeover). While browsing pinterest one day, I came across some fun handmade cash envelopes and was inspired. (I can no longer find said pin) So, before the start of the year, I made my own. (My mom helped a lot…she is a much more skilled at sewing than I am)
I had a lot of fun making these and enjoy using them.
First, I chose the fabrics I wanted for the envelopes and for the purse/clutch/large envelope to hold them all. All of these fabrics came out of my moms sewing closet and are fun because I had clothing made out of many of these as a kid.
After figuring the right size for the small envelopes, I got to marking and cutting.
Then, to add a little stiffness to them, we used some Pellon Wonder Under to line the fabric.
Finally, the fabric was sewn into envelope form (simply folded over and sewn on both short sides).
A small velcro piece was added to the inside to help protect the precious cash!
The large envelope/clutch was made last to ensure it was cut to the proper size to fit all the envelopes. It was lined with with another fabric and a snap enclosure was attached.
I have not been using any sort of labeling system for my envelopes, but have seen that many do so with velcro fabric labels or cardstock insert style labels. I simply assigned different fabrics to different spending categories and have come to know which is which. 🙂
My main categories are groceries, dining, transportation, entertainment, hobbies, personal care, home & office, gifts and clothing.
Once the budgeted cash is gone for the month, that’s it…it’s gone! Currently, I roll over any left over cash to start off the next months normal budget. Eventually, I plan to put the leftovers into savings each month. I do, however, put all my left over coin change into my change jar, CJ.
Check out some more tips from Dave Ramsay on using the envelope system.
find more of my pictures on daily perspective
oats (peanut butter banana oatmeal bars)
I’ve always enjoyed oatmeal and oatmeal raisin cookies. I also enjoyed scooping up a huge bag of these whole grains yesterday for less than $2.00. But even more than this, I thoroughly enjoyed taking the time learn some of the many health benefits to oats.
Three reasons oats are so good for you:
1. Fiber. They contain a specific type called beta-glucan, which helps keep cholesterol low. In fact, studies show that when a diet includes the amount of fiber found in one bowl of oatmeal, cholesterol is typically lowered 8%-23%! This also means dramatically reduced risk for heart disease!
2. Manganese. Oats have lots of it and it plays lots of healthy roles! It helps our bodies metabolize fats and carbohydrates, absorb calcium, maintain healthy blood sugar levels and promote normal nerve function. (just to name a few)
3. Iron. Of course there are many other great food sources of iron, but there are also many people that are iron deficient and anemic. It is estimated that around 30% of people do not get enough iron and that number is higher in kids and pregnant women. Iron is important because our bodies need it to make the protein hemoglobin, which is used to carry oxygen in our blood cells around our body. So, yeah, pretty important.
PEANUT BUTTER BANANA OATMEAL BARS
1 1/2 cups oats (original recipe calls for quick…I used old fashioned)
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1-2 large mashed banana
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1. Preheat the oven to 350°
2. Mix together the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon.
3. Add in the vanilla extract, milk and egg. Stir together.
4. Add the mashed banana and peanut butter. Combine all of the ingredients.
5. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 8 inch metal baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
Cool Completely. Cut into squares and enjoy!
These things are great! They taste like some sort of wonderful lovechild of a peanut butter dipped banana, baked oatmeal, and banana bread. And for how delicious they taste with no butter or oil, only a small amount of sugar and several healthy ingredients in the mix, it is hard to go wrong! I will definitely make these again. (next time I will use the metal pan, though. I used glass and had to bake them much longer)
Recipe source: Rumbly in my Tumbly
I recently created a piece of art using materials I found outdoors and a few things I had lying around. It was both created with and inspired by brokenness. To find out more about the inspiration and the process, visit the post on blartog.