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I’m a lucky gal.  I’ve got a kiddo that loves to craft, and enjoys being creative.  She’ll try any recipe, and by golly, she’ll tackle any crafting project with gusto!

This year we wanted to add some handmade items to our tree.  We opted for some starry-centered cinnamon apples.  They smell amazing while they’re dehydrating in the oven, and they look pretty and delicate when hung on the tree.  Plus, they’re incredibly easy!

Ingredients

  • Apples
  • Cinnamon

Supplies

  • Baking sheet
  • Wax paper
  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • String or ornament hooks for hanging
  • Adorable child

Instructions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Slice apple, leaving the center in its natural shape.  Line baking tray with wax paper (we were out, so we had to grease ours with a very light coat of olive oil).  Arrange apples on tray.  Sprinkle with cinnamon

Cook for approximately 2 hours, flipping in the middle.  Remove and let cool.  Attach ornament hook, or tie with string and hang on tree.

Enjoy!

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Christmas Tree Hunting

December 2, 2014

This year marked the beginning of a new family tradition: Christmas tree hunting.  We piled into the car with a thermos of hot chocolate, and made the thirty minute trek to the farm.  We listened to Christmas carols, while we bobbed for marshmallows at the bottom of our cups.  Fun was had.  Family photos were snapped.  It was perfect!

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I love chorizo.  I think it makes almost everything taste better.  This baked egg dish is no exception.

I made this with posting it to the blog as an afterthought, therefore, these ratios are imperfect.  Just make sure the bottom of the pan is covered, and looks yummy to YOU.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 3 red potatoes, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 package of chorizo without casing
  • 4 eggs
  • crumbled feta cheese to taste
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • crusty bread to scoop everything up

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Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat oil and one tablespoon butter over medium heat in a pan that can go directly into the oven.  Add potatoes.  Once slightly browned, add onion and garlic, cooking until they are translucent.  Remove from heat.

Dollop chorizo on top of potato and onion mixture.  Crack eggs in the center.  Dollop one tablespoon butter throughout the pan.  Top with crumbled feta, salt, and pepper.

Cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until chorizo is thoroughly cooked, and eggs are to your liking.

Serve immediately, with crusty bread for sopping up all of this deliciousness.  Enjoy!

Good Eats: Homemade Ramen

November 24, 2014

2014-11-23 03.48.55Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped chives
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 10 ounce package ramen-style noodles, without seasoning
  • 3 cups roughly chopped spinach

Instructions

In dutch oven, cook sesame oil until just fragrant over medium heat.  Add ginger and garlic until golden brown.  Add broth, soy sauce, and water.  Bring to a boil.

Add shiitake mushrooms, chives, and carrots.  Cover and simmer until mushrooms are tender.

Meanwhile, cook ramen noodles in a separate pot.  Strain and set aside.

Once broth is flavorful, add spinach, cooking until wilted.  This takes about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Serve by adding noodles topped with warm broth to a bowl.  Drizzle with siracha.

*Note: I like to store my noodles and broth separately if I have leftovers.  Otherwise, things get a little starchy!

Adapted from Damn Delicious

Right Now

November 18, 2014

What I’m Reading: Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  “Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.” We shall see if it is up to snuff.  Additionally, if you’re interested in joining the Books Beyond Borders virtual book club, send in a request.  We’re on week one of reading, so there’s still time to join!

What I’m Coveting: Sonnet James

Sonnet James Reese Dress

This Reese Dress by Sonnet James.  I mean, technically, I loved them all.  Designed with play in mind, these dresses are durable and stylish.  I could definitely hit the park with our little jitter bug in this!  Awesome perk: fabric is sourced from NYC and assembled in San Fran.  That’s a win-win if you ask me!

What I’m Watching: High Maintenance

High Maintenance

A Vimeo web series created by husband and wife duo Katja Blichfield and Ben Sinclair, High Maintenance offers a glimpse into the lives of a NYC pot dealer and his clientele.  It is wacky, comedic, and at times serious.  Matt and I have watched nearly all three seasons in two days.  It’s that good.  You can watch the new season on Vimeo for $7.99, and the first two seasons for free here.

What I’m Listening To: Serial

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If you haven’t heard of Serial, then you are likely living under a rock.  Created by This American Life, Serial is a weekly, real life Who Dunnit podcast series that will leave you guessing what’s around the corner.  Be prepared to feel like this.

What I’m Learning: Cooties are Real

GeneralBacteria

Ten seconds of kissing transfers 80 million bacteria, and that’s a fact!

What I’m Proud Of: Supporting Elizabeth Warren

Warren

This gal is still making me gush with her current pursuits in holding Wal Mart responsible for its poor employment practices.  Hers was the first political campaign that I contributed to, and she hasn’t let me down.  If you’d like a government comprised of folks like her, gimme a heeeey!

And that’s that!  What about you?  What are you into right now?  Leave me a comment below!

This is not a pretty post filled with beautiful photos. Instead, this post gets all sorts of down with the nitty gritty. If you’ve been following along over the past few weeks, then you know that I am purging a whole heck of a lot at our house right now. This weekend, my goal was to sort through all of my clothing, as well as our little Jitter Bug’s. This was an extremely daunting task, as evidenced by my before and after photos below.

I’m not an expert in the minimalist field, but I definitely know how to organize. Here was the method to my closet and dresser sorting madness:

Do Your Laundry

This is probably one of the most important aspects of this task. It is really important to have all of your clothing in front of you. Only then will you know if you have ten black camisoles. Knowing your arsenal makes it easier to purge unnecessary items.

Label Your Piles

This is especially helpful if you have the assistance of your own Jitter Bug. Put those tiny hands to work! Our kiddo loves jobs like this. We labeled ours as follows:

  • Trash (also our rag pile)
  • Sell– whatever we do not sell, we will donate
  • Keep

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Turn on Some Tunes

Seriously. Dolly Parton makes this task so much more fun!

Wear a White Top and Jeans

Then, you have a great base to try on all sorts of clothing items. If you aren’t really sure about an item, then try it on!

Sort with Purpose

This is a great time to be really honest with yourself about each piece of clothing. If it doesn’t fit you perfectly, and you only feel so-so in it, then get it out of there. You are taking up precious space with a sub par item. We don’t have time for that!

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Hang Up and Lay Out the Keepers

Anything that made it into your keep pile needs to be hung up and laid out. I hang mine up by item, i.e. tops, pants, skirts, outerwear, and then I sort by color.

Sort Again

Once you’ve done your initial sort and hung up and laid out items by purpose and color, go through your keep pile again. Then, do it one more time.

Stand and Stare

This is my favorite part. Just take it all in. You just sorted the shit out of your wardrobe. Treat yourself to a glass of wine, even if it’s the middle of the day. You’re kind of a big deal.

Here are the before pictures of our closet.

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Here are my sorted items. Note: they only take up one hanging rack!

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Currently, I am in the midst of painting the closet all white. Then, I am going to add storage and some fun details to make it a space that we love getting ready in!

 

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I am way late posting these photos, as this was a trip that was taken over Labor Day weekend.

We visited family in Golden and then hopped over to Boulder for a few days of fun. This was my and Kaya’s first trip to Boulder, and Kaya’s first trip to the mountains.  Kaya would like to move there. Can you really blame her? We cycled EVERYWHERE and had great food. That’s what our family calls a win-win.

Here are some photos from the trip:

En Route to Boulder

 

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Pink Crop Top

Over here at Midwestern Musing, we do not have a horribly difficult time with purging, unless, of course, we take into account clothing. We’re talking clothing from ten years ago, stacks of vintage clothing that I HAVE NEVER WORN, and some items with the tags still on them. (There is no way that I am the only one that is guilty of this.)

A few years ago, when my mother was helping me move into my apartment in Texas, she was going through my closet, hemming and hawing about the amount of clothing I had hoarded and left unworn. The woman called me out, and it still kind of stings. It was then, because of my dear mother (and I will never again admit this) that I started a one year fast from purchasing clothing.

It was shockingly easy, and led me down the slow and grinding path of minimalism that I am hoping to delve even deeper into today. It also taught me these five simple facts:

1) Yo, girl, you have a shopping problem and there is no room for that in your baller-on-a-budget lifestyle. Alas, I am much better at this today, but sometimes a reminder is needed.

2) You are a borderline clothing hoarder of items that even have holes in them, that you have not worn in like seven years.

3) You do not need new stuff all the time.

4) No, you will NEVER get that button sewn onto the $.50 sweater that you got at Goodwill. EVER. Your personal history and array of worn clothing has taught you this. Donate it. It was not a bargain.

5) You will be much happier with less.

Number five is the real kicker. Number five is spot on. Number five also kind of freaks me out in an exhilarating way, kind of like the time I was peer pressured into cliff-diving at summer camp, but that is neither here nor there.

Here is my method to the madness:

Keep Pile

  • It is flattering
  • I LOVE it and cannot live without it
  • It fits into my predetermined color palette, or compliments it

Sell Pile

  • Super cute, but I never wear it
  • Super cute, but it is not currently sitting in the pile of laundry that has accumulated over the last month.  AKA I never wear it.
  • Super cute, but not my size
  • Super cute, but not my age
  • Super cute, but not modest enough for my lifestyle

Donate Pile

  • Items that have sat in my Etsy/Ebay shop for entirely too long
  • Items that I have not sold at my garage sale

Rag/Trash Pile

  • Items that have seen their last days

Pretty simple, really. My goal is to keep less that 75 items after my initial purge and then sift through my pile several times. I am going to allow myself to keep items that I know I would like to replace with a more durable version, i.e. camisoles and undershirts, but that need to be integrated into my budget. At the end of my garage sale, I will likely throw some loot toward these items.

Stay tuned for a reveal! Also, if you would like to capitalize on my purge, check out my Etsy shop for vintage items and my Ebay shop for gently used items. I will be posting new items online very soon!

Is anyone else tackling this same problem? Has anyone out there overcome this?

The Weight of Stuff

September 24, 2014

Stuff.

Just saying the word is a bit stifling.

The majority of it is not even needed.

Around here, it’s no longer wanted.

It’s a simple realization that’s been a long time coming. A revamp of my budget a few months ago, and a random urge to purge the boxes that sat in our basement for two years, got me thinking about the accumulation of stuff and how much it can hold us back from what we truly want.

Ugh. Stuff.

But what has really spurred this realization is our family discussions. We’ve talked about what we want in life, as a unit, A LOT lately. Specifically, what our family lifestyle goals are, and how we can achieve them. And here’s the thing: none of our desires lay in the acquisition of material possessions. Not for a single one of us. All three of us place emphasis on each other, health, education, and travel. Each desire does require an investment of either time or money, but none are dependent on a collection of stuff.

I feel good about this new outlook. Real good. So good, in fact, that I’m going to share our experience on this ‘ol blog.

I’m going to streamline our home in an effort to inch us closer to the lifestyle we dream of. Yeah, we’re going minimalist over here.

Anyone else tackling a similar feat?!

 

Tiny Boxes

August 7, 2014

Currently, Matt and I are renters.  Our home was built in the early 1920s and has quite a bit of charm.  Along with the charm also comes a shoe box for a kitchen, a closet for a bathroom, and a lack of linen storage or dishwasher.

When I first saw the house, which was on our move-in day (we had just driven 12 hours in a U-haul with a maximum speed capacity of 55 mph, mind you) I cried.  However, after schlepping our belongings up 14 stairs and into our front door, plus a few beers, I started to really tingle with the potential of the place.  This was, after all, our first home together, and a need for improvement meant more DIY practice!

I’ve done a lot of small projects on the house, like ripping up linoleum, painting walls and trim, fashioning coverings for kitchen cabinets, stripping paint off of hardware, and digging and planting new flower beds.  I know this isn’t our forever home, but the obsessive-compulsive tendencies of my personality do strike from time-to-time, and those little things that bug me get made-over or hauled out all-together.  That’s just me; I can’t help it.

This house has challenged my preconceived notions of what I would prefer in a home.  It doesn’t seem very large, as it has a poor layout, but I think if that was changed around, it would be too big for us.  It seems that with a well-thought-out layout, living on the smaller side is the wisest option for our family.  It will give us financial freedom from a large mortgage, and the ability to focus on the things we love–like spending time together and traveling.

I know now that I would like two small bathrooms and bedrooms, and an open-concept living, dining, and kitchen area–on the smaller side, please.  I also need a lot of built in space to take advantage of for storage purposes.   A one car garage would do nicely, with a little bit of storage for our bikes and tools.  An area to congregate around back is a must, with plenty of gardening space for yours truly.  And that’s it, folks!

Our forever home will be curated down to the smallest items.  If it doesn’t serve a purpose, it’s gone.  If it doesn’t fit, it’s gone.  If it’s excessive, it’s gone.  You get the gist.

Isn’t that the way life should be?

Here are some of the homes and spaces that I draw inspiration from:

I love the detail in Clark Collins’ Laguna Beach cottage.  The neutral, fresh background is a beautiful backdrop to a mix of timeless and modern pieces.

 

This guest home belonging to Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen is practically perfect.  I’m positively obsessed with it.

What are some must-haves in your forever home?

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