Spring Guidebook

Free Spring guidebook to help you get the most from this beautiful season. Whether it is during actual Springtime, or just when you have a season of growth. Click image below to access the digital PDF. Also available to print and use as a hard copy! I love to print off the foods to nourish pages and post in my kitchen for easy access while I menu plan.

Happy Spring!

Sourdough Cinnamon Nut Rolls with Salted Caramel Drizzle

My only story with this is that I make cinnamon rolls about once every three years, and then wonder why I don’t do it more often.

This time I adapted some basic recipes and made my own creation, which turned out well (but maybe that’s because I only eat these once every three years so they taste extra good…).

Here’s what ya do:

Sourdough Cinnamon Nut Rolls with Salted Caramel Drizzle

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 8 tablespoons cold butter
  • 300-350 grams all-purpose flour (about 2.5 cups)
  • 100 grams active sourdough starter (about 1/2 cup)
  • 240 grams buttermilk (about 1 cup. Note- you can always add a TBS of vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk to make “buttermilk”)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (the good kind please)
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Filling:

  • 150 grams brown sugar (about 2/3 cup)
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4-1 cup walnuts, chopped

Salted Caramel Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2.5 tablespoons half and half, or cream
  • Large flaked salt

Instructions:

Plan ahead! Start about 8-12 hours before you want hot, sweet rolls.

  • Grate the cold butter into large bowl. Add the flour and mix in with butter. Add sourdough started, maple syrup, and buttermilk to the flour and butter. Cover bowl with kitchen towel and let rest at room temp for 8-12 hours.
  • Heat over to 375 Fahrenheit. Butter a 12 inch cast-iron, or a casserole dish.
  • Mix salt, baking power and soda together well in a small cup. Sprinkle this on top of dough, and mix well.
  • Flour a clean counter and turn dough out of bowl. Give the top of the dough another good puff of flour. Roll dough into a big rectangle. Mine ended up being about 20″ by 12″.
  • Mix cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeat, and chopped walnuts in a bowl. Coat dough with your melted butter, and sprinkle with filling ingredients.
  • Roll the dough longwise, and then cut into 8-10 even rolls. Place in baking dish (I love cast-iron), leaving a smidge of room in between to allow for baking up.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and crispy on top.
  • Drizzle caramel on top while still warm.
  • Take photos to commemorate.

Glaze:

Melt butter in small pan on stove, add brown sugar and cream. Over medium low heat, stir until sugar dissolves and allow to bubble for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle a generous pinch of salt, stir to combine, and drizzle over hot cinnamon rolls.

Fall Bucket List 2020- COVID Safe

No matter where you are, Autumn can be such a fun time for traditions. One we always do in the New England area, is apple picking. This may seem crazy to some, to pay an inflated price to pick your own apples, but it is such a fun Fall activity, and we do it every year. With activities looking very different due to COVID, our bucket list for the season changed a bit. Less parties (unless virtual), no Harvard football game, and trick or treating on Beacon Hill is out. BUT there are still so many fun and cozy traditions to be made! Here’s our pandemic friendly Fall bucket list: 

Fall Bucket List

Text:

  • S’mores by the fireplace
  • Paint pumpkins
  • Make pumpkin spice golden milk
  • Take a nature walk to see Fall leaves
  • Cozy up for a read-a-thon day
  • Take family photos 
  • Visit a corn maze
  • Make a gratitude tree
  • Go thrifting for a few new cozy Autumn pieces for wardrobe or home (online or in-person where safe)
  • Bake butternut squash bread
  • Go for a scenic drive
  • Apple picking with cider donuts
  • Have a food prep day and stock freezer with chile, soups and breads
  • Mail a care package to a loved one
  • Vote
  • Have a candlelit dinner
  • Collect leaves, pinecones, and acorns and make a fall craft
  • Throw a football at the park
  • Donate a coat to a coat drive
  • Learn about ancestors for dia de los muertos
  • Have a game night with family/roommates

Valentine’s Day Books for Kids

I love traditions around holidays. Kristin and I grew up with many traditions, and now I am carrying on traditions in my own family, and making some new ones of my own.

One tradition that I love is reading themed books for holidays. It’s so fun to have a pile of different books to get you excited for whatever holiday is coming up.

Valentine’s Day is next week, and here is what’s on our list! Psst, ‘Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch’ is my favorite. Makes me cry in a good way ha! I suggest it even if you don’t have kids.

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1. Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch- Eileen Spinelli, Paul Yalowitz

2. Plant a Kiss-Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Peter H. Reynolds

3. Love From the Crayons- Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers

4. If You’ll be my Valentine- Cynthia Rylant, Fumi Kosaka

5. Arthur’s Valentine- Marc Brown

6. A Hug is for Holding Me-Lisa Wheeler, Lisk Fang

Happy reading!

-Rachael

Fall Bucket List

Who’s excited about Fall?! We obviously are, and have made a list of some of the things we want to do to celebrate this lovely season.

Fall just lends itself to coziness, learning, long walks, holding hands, baking, and trying new things. Call us #basic, but we think it’s a pretty great season. I’ve started attending cooking and science lectures at Harvard, and they go throughout the season. Find something fun and new to learn in your area (and then share, we love to hear 🙂

Click here to print off the Fall Bucket List, and follow along!

Fall Bucket List-01What’s on your bucket list?

 

DIY Fizzing Toilet Cleaning Pods

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I have a quick and inexpensive DIY for you! I saw this recipe and tutorial on Pretty Providence and knew I wanted to try it. Once you get all the ingredients, these cost cents to make a batch, and are whipped up in just a few minutes of hands on time. Below is my experience, and some tips.

Recipe from Pretty Providence, very slightly adapted with my notes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup citric acid (sometimes can be under the name ‘Sour Salt’, or “lemon salt”. I ended up finding mine at a local Armenian store, as the grocery stores near me did not carry it. Some grocery stores carry it, or Amazon is always a good bet). 
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar (white)
  • 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide
  • 15 to 20 drops your choice of essential oil (lavender, rosemary or peppermint. I like peppermint for it’s strong, fresh scent). 
  • silicone candy molds. You can also hand shape into little discs, or use mini muffin tins, but make sure to line the tins with paper cupcake holders. These pods dry hard, and it is very difficult to get them out of hard molds. I learned through experience. 

Instructions

  1. Add baking soda to a mixing bowl and break up clumps. Baking soda naturally cleans and eliminates odors, making it the perfect base for the fizzies. Add the citric acid (see my notes above) and stir. The citric acid is what adds the fizz to these cleaners.

  2. In a small glass bowl, mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, which will work together to help clean your toilet. Now SLOWLY drop by drop, add vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to the baking soda. If you add it all at once, you’ll have a big mess due to the reaction between the baking soda and citric acid!

  3. Now add the essential oil and gently mix. This is just for scent, so you can choose any scent you like. I used peppermint.

  4. Use a half teaspoon to scoop the mixture into your candy molds, and press in gently with your fingers. You don’t want to fill them completely full, because this will expand. They really do puff up, it’s fun to watch. Let dry for at least 6 hours or overnight.

  5. Place the pods in glass jar and keep them sealed near your toilet. (I just used the open bowl for photo’s sake 😉 Make sure you label them and keep them out of reach of children, as with any cleaning supplies, natural or not. Whenever your toilet needs a little freshening, just drop one of these in!

    Photos of my process below.

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Done, and ready to freshen! With a little bit of fizzing action to boot 😉

Reader Spotlight-DIY Blanket Ladder

Melia, one of our sweet readers (and sister! ;), decided to go all in with DIY this month with us! Side note, she is one of the most creative, artistic, and crafty of us six sisters. We definitely were inspired by her this month.

Melia just moved into a larger apartment, from a tiny studio, so wanted to make a few pieces for her new space. Here is one of those projects, which she made for next to nothing! Color me impressed.

Tools and Supplies (mostly gathered from extra bits and pieces around the house. Also can be bought at any home improvement store).

  • 2, 2×4 pieces of wood-about 71 inches long (adjust to what size you want your ladder)
  • 2, 1×4 pieces of wood-21 inches long
  • Small finishing nails
  • Wood glue
  • Sander/sandpaper
  • Wood stain that also acts as a sealer

 

Directions:

Sand all wood, then start building! (I love when a tutorial starts that easily).

The top rung of the ladder should be about 8.5 inches from the top, and then about 11 inches in between each of the next three rungs. That should leave roughly 16 inches on the bottom (if using the 71 inch long lengths).

Use wood glue to attach your rungs to each side piece of wood, and let dry slightly. Then nail each piece securely, using small finishing nails.

If desired, distress the wood somewhat at this point (can also do some after staining). Bang it up with tools, sand the corners, and make little marks in the wood with a screwdriver to help give it an older look.

Wait for the wood glue to dry completely, then stain entire ladder. Can continue to distress after stain dry if desired, or just sit back and enjoy your work!

Time: 2-3 hours.

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And done!! Look how amazing that is! All from extra bits and pieces around the house. It will be perfect for blankets, or towels and other linens. Hopefully this can inspire you to try your own DIY project.

 

What projects have you been working on lately?

DIY Gold Bedside Lamps (and some spray paint tips)

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This is not much of a tutorial, but rather a “hey, look how simple DIY can be!”. I knew I wanted lamps beside our bed for reading, and I looked at so many options. Some were too expensive, some were too big for our tiny apartment, some were good and a decent price, but I wanted a challenge *wink*. I knew I could make some look how I wanted, on the cheap, and that would fit perfectly in our tiny space. My first trip to Goodwill I came across a matching pair of lamps and snatched them up for $3.99 each. They are just basic, dorm room type lamps, but I knew that they would look spiffy with a fresh coat of gold. I love that they clipped onto the bed, which saves us precious space, and they plug in rather than need to be wired to the electricity of the house, which was essential (#renters). Here are a few inspiration pieces I used when buying and painting my lamps.

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A few spray paint tips:

  1. Get the good stuff. Pay a few extra bucks. I love Rustoleum in Pure Gold. Make sure to get the cans with the spray nozzle on top, it makes the application and clean up so much smoother.
  2. Wait the proper amount of time for the next coats. You can usually either do quick second coats within about 30 minutes of the initial coat, or wait 24-48 hours. Meaning, don’t remember in 3 hours and try to do another coat. It will glob up and make a mess.
  3. Clean up fingers with nail polish remover. If you get a good nozzle (see number 1), you shouldn’t have much finger clean up at all.
  4. Use long, steady strokes to apply paint. Overlap each layer slightly, and be confident with it as you go around! Don’t be timid; show that paint who’s boss.
  5. Make sure you are far enough away from cars, house, small children, etc when painting. It’s amazing how a tiny bit of wind can carry spray paint.
  6. Clean your nozzle after each time you use it.

Here’s the final product. There will be matching ones on either side. (Full house tour will be done later. All 400 square feet!). What do you think of the gold lamp transformation? Is DIY your thing, or would you rather just pick up a final project from the store? (No wrong answer, I like to do both depending on what it is :).

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Simple Macrame Plant Hanger

I have wanted to try making a plant hanger for years now, but never just did it. Now that we are in our new studio and I am putting together our home, it is the perfect time for these kinds of projects. I also am a “plant lady”, and I think the more plants the better! I do need to work on not killing them though….

Now let’s get into this DIY. First step–I had to find a tutorial to walk me through the process. I have never done macrame but used to make friendship bracelets like no one else. I figured that might carry over somewhat. It did, but I realized I still really needed a good enough tutorial to walk me through every step. You guys, I looked at every tutorial on Pinterest.  None of them fit my needs. They were either way too complicated for a beginner like me, or too simple (I wanted a bit more than just basic knots), or they had really poor instructions. But then I found *drumroll* Persia Lou’s tutorial for a simple macrame plant holder. It was just what I was looking for–simple but with a pretty design, had great photos of the process, along with clear and concise written instructions. Perfect! I thought about making my own tutorial based on my experience, but hers is just so great, so why reinvent the wheel? I have done the work of finding the best beginner tutorial for you, you’re welcome. What I do want to show you is my experience making my own holder, and a few tips I picked up along the way.

  1. I used Paracord which is super strong, easy to knot, pretty, and I had a big bunch leftover from another project. Win. Also, now my plant holder acts as a lovely emergency supply item. (Paracord is a common type of rope for emergency situations due to its strength and specific type of weave).
  2. The tutorial used 10 foot long lengths, I used 8 feet for my smaller pot. You could probably get by with 6 feet, depending on how long you want it to hang down. Mine is hanging from a short slanted ceiling in our home, so it could have been shorter, but I do like the length I ended up with as it became eye level with my sofa. Anyways, you get the idea– the shorter the length of rope, the shorter the planter. Just don’t make it too short, you will need plenty to make the knots.
  3. Once you cut one length of your rope, just use that as a guide for the remaining seven. Trust me, it’s a lot easier than trying to measure and cut every one using a tape measure.
  4. I used a gold bangle I had for the ring. It worked perfectly! Look around your house, use what you have.
  5. I frayed the end of mine to make a little pom-pom looking end. I think it’s cute. I think it also would look good to leave them hanging longer if you cut your cords longer. With paracord, I think it looks best to fray, or brad the ends. It’s not the most pretty cord to leave raw. Other types of rope might look better left hanging.
  6. I used a gold planter to go with my pretty gold ring at the top. I also love white planters for a minimalistic look, but don’t be afraid to add some color via the pot. It helps the macrame stand out.
  7. Just start! It’s an easy, fun craft, and makes a lovely addition to any room in the house. This is coming from someone who is admittedly not very crafty. You can do it. I want to work up to some of the more difficult patterns. Starting with this one gave me the confidence to try more.

Here are a few photos of my process. I think seeing some of these close up with paracord might help anyone who wants to use this type of rope for their project.

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CompletedMacramePLantHolder

 

Vegan Menu Plan

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Going from paleo last week right in to vegan is an adjustment. But we think it’s important to try different food lifestyles, to get a good idea of what you like and don’t like; what works and doesn’t work for you.

Most people are familiar with the vegan rules of eating-no animal products. No dairy, meat, or eggs, and some vegans avoid honey, silk, products with beeswax, etc.

So there is the list of “no”, but a great list of “yes” too- yes vegetables, yes fruits, yes grains and legumes, beans and herbs, nuts and seeds. So many yummy “yes” foods 🙂

If you want to try it out, check out our week of Vegan Menu plans and shopping list here.

Our Pinterest page has a board with all the recipes we use, divided by week.

We are excited to delve into vegan eating, and hope we can learn some new principles that we adapt into our eating lifestyles. Dive in and join us! Try it out for a week and see what you feel and think.

{Past food weeks include Mediterranean and Paleo.}