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…

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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…