This particular project was a birthday gift for my boyfriend and since it’s the gift giving season, I thought this would be the perfect time to share with you how I made it! Not only did I get to use one of our favorite photos from a trip to New Mexico, but the underlying message of, “Hey, I risked getting Tetanus from rusty barbed wire to make this for you.. that’s how much I love you.” really came through here. Which reminds me.. this is a PSA for you all to make sure you’re up to date on your Tetanus shot. I managed to make it through this creation without incident and loved that I was able to capture a bit of that rustic Old West feel that we experienced on our trip.
Alright it’s the beginning of the end (of the year that is) and I’m ready to end it strong! I don’t know if it’s just the right culmination of stress, anger, energy, and determination, but I have this fire to make things happen right now. I’ve been creating more regular content, reviving my newsletter, and writing out some concrete plans on how to navigate from the life I’m currently living to the one I want to be.
I realized that when I share with people some of my stories and struggles, the message I try to leave them with is to not live a life of mediocrity. Do not settle for anything less than extraordinary. We are not here to live out the same broken story of our pasts, relive the history of our parents’ bad marriage, or to keep working that safe yet soul draining job because it’s “all we know.” We all deserve better and I suppose I have to remind myself of that now and then.
One of my anchors to mediocrity has been my search for the dream farmhouse. I keep telling myself that things will change when I find the right home, but finding it isn’t happening as smooth or as quickly as I would like it to. I know, I know… “Everything will come together as it should.” but trust me, it doesn’t make the pill any easier to swallow in the meantime when you’re living almost 40 minutes apart from your partner, working opposite schedules and lucky to squeeze in a date night every other week, majority of your belongings are boxed up in your parent’s basement still, and you have Pinterest ideas and magazine clippings just piling up for that dream kitchen you’ve been trying to design for 2 years.
Letting that go and realizing I have the ability to change other areas of my life while I’m waiting has felt liberating. It’s one of those things that is written right in front of you the whole time, but you’re so focused on this ONE goal that you lose sight of everything else. And if you’ve found that you’ve done this too or might currently be.. here’s a bit of honesty for you to feel better about it..
Just a few weeks ago I was screaming into the phone at my boyfriend (thank you for loving me even through moments like that) that I was either going to give up and get an apartment in town or move to another state (again) because things weren’t happening here. I’ve also threatened to buy a ridiculously pricey motorcycle with my down payment instead of saving it for a house since the house thing isn’t happening. Let me point out that I don’t even know how to ride a motorcycle, renting an apartment would make me miserable, and moving to another state would solve absolutely nothing. But hey, I’m only human and we all have a drama queen living deep down inside of us that comes up with these “plans” when things aren’t going our way. Thankfully I was able to come back to Planet Reality and develop a plan that doesn’t involve zip code changes and learning how to ride an expensive motorcycle.
Onto some blog updates! A newsletter is maybe a bit antiquated for some, but playing the algorithm games with Facebook and Instagram posts so that my readers can actually see my content is exhausting. I try to grow authentically and by word of mouth so I don’t pay to boost or sponsor my content. My email list is the only platform where I can reach everyone organically and I think the best way to engage with you all one on one. I read each and every comment, email, and direct message and truly value the connections I make with everyone. So if you find you’re missing out on some of my posts, just simply subscribe to my newsletter and you won’t miss out ever again. You’ll receive a roundup of new posts at the end of the month, get access to exclusive recipes that will only be shared in email, and be the first to know about new projects and updates (like if I buy a house and/or motorcycle?). And not to worry.. I still love writing Daily Life posts and connecting with you all here, so these will be a regular feature.
Comment below and share with me one of your favorite Drama Queen Freak Out Moments or helpful tips on how you overcame a big goal or challenge! And to keep up with future posts, subscribe below!
This is always my favorite season to come up with new soup and chili recipes to help warm the bones after a particularly shitty (whoops.. I meant chilly) winter day. If you checked out the last couple of posts then you know I have an abundance of pumpkins and squash leftover from this summer’s garden that I’m trying to put to good use and now I’m wishing I had more! This pumpkin soup has been one of my favorites I’ve made so far!
I used hickory smoked bacon, smoked paprika, and smoked Gouda to lend that natural smoky meat flavor that’s noticeable, but not overpowering to the other elements of the soup. I also caramelized the onions by cooking them with a splash of my favorite porter beer and it added another yet another tasty layer to this soup. And if you caught my post last week and made your own big batch of pumpkin puree you now have the perfect recipe to use it up on!
While making this recipe the other day I was reminded that winter is essentially here and found myself scrambling to snap photos of the final product with the last little sliver of dusk light. I’m not 100% happy with the photos I managed to get, but I am over the moon with how the recipe turned out!
It’s loaded up with eggs, whole grain bread, butternut squash, apples, fresh sage, and crumbled goat cheese. This dish is full of great flavor on it’s own, but also pairs great with a little maple syrup on top, making it like a hearty and healthy French toast bake. I also kept this recipe vegetarian, but I think next time I’ll throw in some country breakfast sausage because hey.. why not?
My recipe also makes enough for TWO casserole dishes and re-heats well so you can bake it on the weekends and enjoy one fresh and then reheat the other for breakfast throughout the week. Or if you have a massive amount of family coming over during the holidays, this will serve up to 12 and can be prepped the night before!
Yesterday I shared how to make Simple Homemade Pumpkin Puree, so today I thought I would share a round up of some of my favorite recipes using pumpkin. Some of these posts are from my first year of blogging, which means cringe-worthy lighting, angles, and composition with the photos, but the recipe itself is something I wouldn’t change at all. They’re tried and true recipes that I use often, especially during the fall months. After the post, comment and share with me your favorite recipe from the roundup as well as a few of your own!
1. Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Smoothie
With a base of Greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, and frozen bananas this is a delicious and healthy way to start your day off. Of course you can turn it into dessert-breakfast by adding the whipped cream and crumbled graham crackers like I did! Find the full recipe here
2. Spicy Skillet Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
This has become one of my favorites to make year round! It’s hearty, spicy, and full of flavor. If you like butternut squash ravioli, this will quickly become a favorite recipe of yours too! Find the full recipe here
3. Pumpkin Spice Rum Balls
This is the recipe I get tagged in the most during the holiday season that you guys are making. A hefty dose of Sailor Jerry Rum is what brings all the flavors together in these potent and delicious Pumpkin Spice Rum Balls. And continue to tag me in your recipe photos, I love it! Find the full recipe here
4. Pumpkin Bread
This is one of those old recipes I was referring to. While my photography skills were still in the beginning stages, my baking skills were not. I made this one over and over again until I had it perfected to what I wanted. I’m not kidding when I say I’ve probably saved myself HUNDREDS of dollars not buying pumpkin bread at Starbucks over the years and instead just making my own! Find the full recipe here
5. Last, but not least… my Mini Pumpkin Pies!
This is my favorite way to serve up pumpkin pie during the holiday season (or really any time of year I’m craving pumpkin pie). These individual pies are as scrumptious as they are adorable and just as easy to make! Find the full recipe here
With all of the homemade pumpkin puree I made, I know I will be making most of these recipes over the next few weeks and sharing to Instagram. Head over and tag me in your favorite pumpkin posts of the season and follow along for more recipes!
This summer I let one side of the garden become a pumpkin patch full of ghost pumpkins and sugar pumpkins. I got a lot of questions asking why the sugar pumpkins were so small and why you can’t use the regular carving pumpkin variety to cook and bake with. The difference is this: The carving varieties have less flesh, they’re stringier, and have more water in them, not making for a nice smooth puree. Sugar or pie pumpkins have a ton of flesh, better texture, and are sweeter tasting, making them the obvious choice for pumpkin pie and other fall pumpkin dishes. And they’re just plain adorable, so they win!
Not a lot of people realize the versatility with pumpkin puree either, thinking it’s exclusive to being the main ingredient in pumpkin pies. I’ve used it in savory pasta dishes, to make rum balls, smoothies, face masks, and even added it to cat food! It’s full of fiber and my own little Punky Pie loves it mixed in with her dry food. I’m sure the puree would also work great as baby food, but in the meantime I’ve just got the fur-kid. Follow my simple tutorial on how to make your own puree and check back tomorrow for a roundup of my top 5 favorite recipes involving pumpkin!
This may seem like a spaghetti squash recipe, but this is really all about the sauce..
A good homemade tomato sauce can take a lot of time.. blanching, peeling, and then cooking down tomatoes for hours on the stove top. But let’s be real.. most of us are lucky if we even have time to wash our hair during the week (thank you Dry Shampoo Gods) so there’s no way we’re going to make that kind of time on a week night. Looking for a simpler option without sacrificing the flavor, I decided to utilize the abundance of cherry tomatoes I had from the garden. Since they’re so much smaller I didn’t have to bother with peeling and cutting them, which saved me about an hour in prep time. I tossed them onto a pan with a little garlic and thyme, roasted them in the oven, pureed them afterward, and poured it all into a couple of canning jars.
HOLY TOMATO SAUCE GOODNESS! It was zesty, sweet, hearty, and the perfect compliment to the spaghetti squash.. which by the way, can be cooked at the same time as the tomatoes since it’s the same oven temperature and approximately the same time to cook. Simple, delicious, and affordable. Now you can finally go wash your mane that has become more dry shampoo than it is hair.
Hello November! Last month was full of travels, straight back to a full work schedule, and house shopping. If you followed along on Instagram you saw that I celebrated my 30th birthday in Paris, traveled through to the south of France, and then across Italy. It was my first trip abroad and we packed in A LOT over the course of 3 weeks. Friends and family keep asking me about the trip and I still don’t know if I’ve fully processed everything we saw and experienced, so I’ve been answering with a lame and vague, “It was great!” and not much else. I’ve been trying to set aside a little time each day to write about each place we were so I can share each city in a separate post. There are a lot of great moments from the trip, but I will tell you my 3 highlights from Italy and share some photos NOT on Instagram yet down below!
Taking that much time off meant we flew back and immediately went back to work the next day. Winter is coming (GOT fans, where are you?!) and living in the country with a long commute to work means you have to leave some vacation days set aside for when you inevitably get snowed in. We’re also still searching for a house, so I will gladly jump at the chance of working long weeks since I have a fondness of old houses in need of lots of TLC and money to restore them. We have one in mind currently, but we’re in the fun negotiation phase so keep your fingers crossed for me!
Since I was MIA on the blog for all of October I’m thinking of some Halloween/Christmas fusions for recipes and crafts towards the end of this month. What would you like to see? And who would like a home tour on the blog of my dream shack when/if we close?
Alright I’m doing my best at keeping this fairly short for now. As promised, a few highlights from the Europe trip include:
Beppe – the 83 year old owner of the bed and breakfast we stayed at in Corniglia. He didn’t speak any English and did his best to understand my terrible Italian. He showed us everything in the entire apartment, lifted my massive luggage up the steps while proclaiming, “Forte!” (strong), over and over, and even made a joke about Chris being too tall to stand up in the bedroom loft. He was adorable and I’m unofficially adopting him as my Grandpa.
Hiking from Corniglia to Vernazza along the Cinque Terre trail. We went through olive groves, passed by farms with chickens, wild lavender and grapes growing, took in the most stunning views of the hillsides and Mediterranean, and enjoyed our first Italian pizza when we got to Vernazza.
Taking a pasta making class in Rome. We learned how to make three different types of pasta from a professional chef in the most beautiful loft space that once was an old pasta factory. Not only was it the most delicious pasta I’ve even consumed in my life, but the people we met in the group were amazing as well. It was the perfect night of delicious foods, wine, conversation, atmosphere, and communion. And I picked up a new skill and some recipes that I get to share with you all!
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Get out and try something new!
In Iowa we’re known for our endless fields of corn and endless creations of all things fried on a stick at the Iowa State Fair (including a deep fat fried stick of butter). I’m more into the sweet corn versus the artery clogging creations from the fair, so I picked some up while it was on sale and set about making some Mexican street corn. That same day I had a craving for a batch of guacamole so I just combined the two instead for some of the best guacamole I’ve ever made! Spicy and hearty with a mix of bell pepper, jalapeño, onion, and tomatillos from the garden. Then I topped it off with crumbled feta, cilantro, and more roasted sweet corn. And bonus… it’s a lot healthier than fried butter! 😉
With gardening season coming to a close I typically spend part of my days off processing the remaining tomatillos, peppers, and tomatoes from the garden into fresh salsa. I couldn’t think of a better complementing drink to all that spicy salsa than an icy cold margarita. I decided to mix in some tasty craft beer and used the Tangerine Express IPA from Stone Brewing. It made for an unexpectedly delicious and refreshing twist to my mixture of freshly squeezed orange juice, lime juice, honey, and of course a hefty splash of tequila. They were sweet and citrusy with the perfect mix of hoppiness and a hint of tangerine. You can use the excuse of spicy salsa to enjoy one of these or just make it because you damn well please. Either way you’ll be glad you did!