Quiet Winter Walks

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We have been trying to enjoy the soft, silent beauty of this winter season when it’s not minus degrees. We bundle ourselves and the dog up (yes, he has a coat AND boots for the extra frozen days) and trek through the woods for some fresh air and refreshment. It’s a different world during these winter months and it feels good to get out and enjoy it when we can. It’s really not so bad when you are prepared. I’ll take scarves, hats, mittens and sweaters any day over the sticky hot of a sweltering summer day. Find the good in all seasons and you’ll always have something to look forward to.

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The Upper Peninsula

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Matthew, Ollie, and I decided to start out August right by treating ourselves to a quiet, relaxing vacation to the Upper Peninsula. We found a simple, newly updated 100-year old cabin for rent on a small lake. Our favorite part was the amazing deck overlooking the water. There’s something so refreshing about eating your meals as you look out onto the peaceful ripples of the lake. We would definitely go back.

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It was only in the high 60’s to low 70’s, so we didn’t have the chance to swim in the lake. The cabin did include two kayaks though and I wish we could still venture out every day. Dipping your paddle into the cool water as the sun is setting is my kind of way to end a day. On our last night there, we followed a beaver or otter through the lily pads for at least 15 minutes. This trip has awakened a dream in both of us to someday have a cabin of our own on a quiet lake.

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matt dock

Ollie really loved the peaceful setting to relax and go for long walks down the wooded road without lots of scary noises and sights he’s not really into here in the city. He liked seeing deer, butterflies, and birds instead. He says he would go back too!

ollie trees

lake trees

lake views

winter brightness + beauty

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When I began my 20’s, I always assumed once I graduated college, I’d be out of here. Guess it didn’t quite turn out that way, but in the words of Mumford & Sons, “I will learn to love the skies I’m under“. I’d like to think that I am where I need to be right now, but I hold on hope that a new adventure lies ahead of us soon. In the spirit of embracing where I am {and on a snow day, even! while listening to Sigur Ros, the perfect snowy music} I will share some pretty winter touches in our house.

Up above we have our Ikea-inspired winter forest art that Mr. M and I made. One of the perks of having a long, cold winter is that it gives us extra time for creative projects. I helped M sketch the design and cut out the template and he cut out and sanded the forest out of simple white-coated masonite. We even found two LED stick lights that go behind it to light up at night and bring out the shadows. I love it.

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One of my favorite estate sale finds last year was this linen snowflake embroidered dresser cloth. Each snowflake is so delicately sewn. I have realized that I honestly would miss winters without snow. Obviously it gets old and annoying eventually, but it’s so charming and sparkly some of the time. Having a puppy that adores playing in it is another plus. See, I am trying to make the most of this place, this climate. Makes it a little more bearable.

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Some more estate sale + flea market finds to brighten up our winter days. That flowered tray is actually a gift from my parents from a flea market adventure they had in Denmark. It’s my special little treasure. The tiny vintage cardinal print reminds me of my Grandpa–they were his most favorite birds. The blanket was handmade by M’s Grandma and it happens to be Ollie’s favorite cuddle blanket.

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The tiny wooden snowflakes were a Christmas gift from M’s parents. So pretty. That mini credenza has a story of its own that may involve a journey from the Jersey Shore (um, not the show!!) all the way to Wisconsin.

So there you have it. Our cozy winter home. And now I must admit I am ready for Spring…

becoming a veggie lady

veg man, originally uploaded by ordinarymoment.

I was 20, it was the fall of 2003. A junior in college, living in my first apartment off campus. I stopped eating most red meat, for the simple fact that I would rather spend the tiny bit of money I had on new music from Atomic Records. I knew how to cook enough to survive, but the menu consisted of mostly Lipton Sides pasta, lunch meat, bread, fruit, and veggies. I ate meat when I visited home and went out with my friends. I still liked chicken a lot and thought you would have to be crazy to stop eating it. Then I visited my first (and last) Chinese Buffet for dinner one night. All was going well until I took a huge bite of some questionable-looking grey chicken. It was terrible, and I was thoroughly grossed out. I couldn’t look at the stuff for weeks. And so, my challenge began.

What would it be like to stop eating all meat? Could I do it? In middle school I tried to be a vegetarian because I read in Bop! that the biggest heartthrob ever, Mr. Jonathan Taylor Thomas, happened to be one. It lasted about a week. I was older now, in charge of my groceries and cooking. I actually loved vegetables. I always had–as a kid, one of my favorite parts of birthday parties and get-togethers in my family were the veggies and dill + spinach dip. My grandma’s canned green beans from her garden were almost as good a treat as the ice cream my grandpa forever stocked in the freezer. So, it was official: I was going to go vegetarian, just to see if I could stick with it.

Now most of my friends and family thought this was just a phase, one of those college things. I’ll admit, I probably didn’t eat the best those first 6 months. But then something happened. The more informed I became about our food system, the more committed I was to making this lifestyle change. I tried my first black bean tostadas at Beans + Barley and fell in love. I met (and became smitten with) a cute vegetarian boy that summer of 2004. I started reading cooking magazines and cutting out recipes. My new boy began cooking delicious meals for me. It was working! And I didn’t even miss meat. I still don’t.

It’s been 9 1/2 years and becoming a vegetarian has changed my life for the better in so many ways. I’ve learned how to cook from scratch–no more Lipton Sides! We make yummy food for fun in our house, to share with each other and others. I feel good about what we are putting into our bodies and know the food we eat will sustain and nourish us. We are proactive in finding out where our food comes from, helping us to make the best decisions about what we should and shouldn’t eat. I’m not trying to sound like a food snob here, but our personal decision for our family is to eat whole, healthful meals as much as possible. After watching lots of Netflix food documentaries and doing our own research, it’s just important to us to eat real, natural food. It’s a part of our lives that we’re willing to sacrifice for because we know it will be best in the long run. It may take a few minutes longer to make homemade biscuits or brownies from scratch, but the amazing tastes make up for it all! Cooking and baking for the ones that I love is one of my favorite parts of life. I am glad I met and kept up with my challenge all those years ago, otherwise things would be much less delicious.

ten years of growing up

cameramel

I have just about two months left of my 20’s and have been thinking about all the big and small things that have happened. Time went quickly but the last ten years have been full. College, graduation, my first real job, marriage, first house, first dog, oh my! Such a period of growth and challenges that come with growing up. I feel like I have changed so much and have learned who I really am. I want to remember the best and most memorable experiences of this time in my life so I decided I need to document them right here. And so begins the series…

do small things with great love

Ollie winter walk., originally uploaded by ordinarymoment.

I like the fresh feeling a new year brings, another chance to live and experience, a time to reflect and make changes where they are needed. There are things I want and need to make happen this year so I am hoping 2013 treats us well.

Life is always interesting, isn’t it? Some years incredible, others with deep disappointment, hurts, loss. Joys and sorrows, balancing each other out. Of course I know it is those hard times that help us to grow, to become stronger, to understand ourselves and others in new, better ways. We need difficulties to fully appreciate the beautiful moments in our lives. Though knowing this doesn’t ever seem to make it easier during those not so great moments.

Sometimes it’s easy to let yourself be overwhelmed with the pain and wrong in life. To feel hopeless and small, wondering how just you can do anything to leave this world a better place. I love this quote from Mother Teresa:

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

The small things make all the difference–a smile, a note of thanks, a kind word. Tiny gestures of kindness we all have time for, no matter how busy life gets. One of my goals for this year is to just make it happen. So often I think of something I should do, something that I know would brighten another’s day. Yet I use the excuse of busyness, of being tired, losing my energy and motivation. We don’t always know what someone else is going through, when someone is having a bad day–imagine how they might feel by just your simple act of kindness. I want the people in my life to feel loved and appreciated, to spread little moments of joy when I can. So that, I suppose, is my New Year’s Resolution: to stop making excuses, and make things happen!

2012 was not my favorite year…but sharing a picture of the best part that makes me smile and laugh all the time up above.

finding a new use

chevron table, originally uploaded by ordinarymoment.
M used his skills to paint us this tiny table for our icy beverages while relaxing on the porch.
He took off the old tabletop from an Ikea table I had, bought an inexpensive table round from Menard’s, then used our leftover paint from the map project to paint a fun, bold pattern.
Can’t wait till next season when we can spend more time in our new hang out spot.

a great lakes solution

lakemichiganpainting, originally uploaded by ordinarymoment.

Our last challenge while finishing our porch remodel this past summer was figuring out a way to cover the large, dirty, paint-peeling window looking into our garage on that long stretch of white siding. We didn’t want to spend hours sprucing up a window to nowhere, so we decided a big piece of art was needed to break up all that white space. We went through a few ideas and settled on a huge depth painting of Lake Michigan, which is two blocks away from our house. Inspired by this etsy card by Crafterall on Pinterest, showing a papercut topography map of the lake, we went about beginning our giant masterpiece. M built a simple frame large enough to cover the window, then I helped him stretch some canvas we had over the frame. He used a projector to trace the outline and I chose monochromatic blues to paint a simplified version of the depths. We bought inexpensive paint samples from Lowe’s for the paint. After we let it dry it was hung over the window to hide the ugliness and bring a big pop of graphic color + design to our relaxation space.
Tomorrow I will share another little project we did using the leftover paint.

laughter and joy.

6 months ollie, originally uploaded by ordinarymoment.
Bringing a dog into our lives has brought so much laughter and happiness. Almost 30 years old, and I had never owned a puppy of my own. Ollie is crazy and funny and adorable and frustrating at times, but oh how we love him. He’s helped us to discover new places and has inspired adventures. Beautiful hiking spots so close to home yet never explored before. He likes to eat and sniff all things–most especially mulch, leaves, pieces of fireworks, any little bit he can get into his mouth outside. He ate so much sand on his first beach trip that his poop was sandy for two days straight. He is tinier than we were expecting and can jump so high, even when we form our arms into a circle and tell him to “Jump through the hoop!”. He likes to do yoga stretches after he gets up and gently jumps up so you can give him a hug. (He is peeking over the couch cushion as I type with his favorite tiny basketball and a wagging tail, hoping I will play some fetch). He is a fraidy dog and hides or barks if something is out of place…a jacket, a rubbermaid container, a big pot on the stove. If we are watching tv and not paying enough attention to him, he will jump on the back of the couch, barking at us to tease us, hoping we will play. He is energetic and playful but when he is finally tired he will snuggle on our laps while he falls asleep. He is pretty awesome and we can’t imagine life without our little Ollie bud.