The Fresh Exchange Blog is the design and lifestyle blog of Mike & Megan Gilger. You might find posts about trends, style, fashion, travel, design, interiors, food recipes, and health. We call Raleigh, North Carolina & Traverse City, Michigan, home.
If there is a type of book I am obsessed with it is hands down cookbooks. Though I do no enjoy excess by any means in my life, there is one thing I have a soft spot for..cookbooks! I cannot get enough of them. If there was a library just full of every cookbook and book about food ever made I would love to spend the rest of my days just wandering the aisles and fingering through every page of them. I find cooking fascinating and always have. Sometimes I have more inspiration and time for it than others, just like any of us, but if I am going to pick up something on a Saturday it is a cookbook. I will read the thing front to back and fold the corners and mark the pages of cookbooks because I believe in the pursuit of great food done simply and beautifully.
That said, I thought since many of you have asked me for my cookbook recommendations (as I clearly have an obsession) what I love. At first, I was going to just make a big list, but I started realizing the number of books that was in one post and so I am going to spread it out throughout the year. Plus, this gives you a chance to go and read some before the next list comes out.
First up is a list closest to my heart. I have found there are very few books about seasonal eating and what it means to eat within a season. But these ones are not only some of my favorites but some of the highest revered in the space. Some are more simple and straightforward than others, but what I love about all of them is that they offer a lifestyle to eating rather than just ideas for recipes. Thinking about when a vegetable is available and how it presents in that season at the peak is a beautiful concept that I obviously am obsessed with. I could talk hours about seasonal eating and food, but I will leave that for another day.
These books below have been integral in inspiring how I cook and eat these days. There are many other books, but for instance, Six Seasons is a book I have been working through for nearly 6 months now. It is filled with crumbs, salt, marks, folded pages, and more and every recipe challenges and me and changes how I see some of my favorite veggies while helping me understand them before they ever land on my plate. It is hands down one of my favorite cookbooks we have on our shelf.
Another book is the Simple Fare collection from Karen Mordechai. I love what Karen does and her approach to simple food. This book helps give you wonderful alternatives to some unique dishes. Not to mention the book itself is at the level of a coffee table book.
Finally, my other favorite book out of all of these is Jamie At Home. I LOVE Jamie Oliver. He was one of the first people I ever heard really break down the problem in our society with food. He made me question everything in our food system in a great way, which ultimately has lead me to eating the way we do now. I picked this book up on a whim after I had another one of his, but this book is beautiful, amazing, and absolutely what it looks like to enjoy the seasons through food. His dishes are a little more complicated, but they are real and honest. He does a great job with this one. Plus, the illustrations are worth flipping through alone.
Okay, I will let you wander through the rest, but just had to highlight these three as some of the ones that really have impacted how I view food and talk about it here.
First of all, Spring is coming. Before we dive into this conversation, just know that we are at the closing of winter days in these next 4 weeks. This next week is the official start to Spring, but as we well know in the north it is simply a date on the calendar. Spring in the northern parts of the world sees those daffodils and blooms usually at least a month later than the calendar tells us we should, so how do we make it through this end of winter without feeling completely worn down by the snow and cold?
Yes, even I the lover of seasons struggles this time of year. This quite literally is the hardest point in the year of seasonal living. You mentally and physically are ready for winter to phase off and those warmups we had have given you a clear picture of what life in spring looks like even if it includes mud and a lot of brown in our life before the blooms begin. The sound of 45 degrees and sun sounds near heavenly at times, but as we still see snow in our forecast and don’t dare put our shovels and boots away we have to still find ways to make the most of these next 4 – 6 weeks of cold/wintry days we may have.
So, both for my own self and for you, I have put together a list of ways to really in the very least survive these next few weeks of however much snow, cold, and dreary days we still have.
One note, if you do feel actual depression during these days, do talk to your doctor and/or therapist. There are varying levels of seasonal depression and sometimes getting a little Vitamin D isn’t the answer. You may need further help, which is totally acceptable and understandable. Just a little disclaimer for all of you as many of us northerners have been there.
So here is our list for enjoying these end of winter weeks before we see those first blooms in the next month (or so ):
Plan a weekend getaway:
We recently went just north an hour and stayed in a season. Since it is off season we got to see a local coastal town in a whole new way then we see it in the summer months. Kind of amazing actually. But if you need some warmth, get away for a long weekend to a warm spot. Typically you can find some deals on last-minute flights. Don’t make it an ordeal just head out. I highly suggest going in April as I feel this is the hardest month!
Plan Something Special each week:
Planning a dinner with friends or an activity or even finding events to attend is really important. This gives you something to look forward to during these months. We try to make a point to do dinner with at least one friend each week especially this time of year. Nothing fancy and sometimes it is going out. We also make a plan that if we go out for dinner once a week to a local restaurant as a family. This gives us all something to look forward to and connect in a different way especially when we are busy with work and life.
Go to the gym:
Now is an awesome time to get back to the gym. Bathing suit season is fast approaching and the gyms have cleared out of the resolution goers. Setting time aside to go is great for establishing a routine for yourself and body, but the endorphins produced by a good sweat session is really amazing when you are feeling down.
Switch up your winter attire:
There are a lot of sales right now for winter things so if there was an item you were eyeing now may be the right time to get it. You will get a few weeks of wearing it and then pack it away once it warms up. In the meantime, it will give you a fresh perspective on your wardrobe and make you feel a little more excited to get dressed for these final weeks of the cold. I also think it is fun to switch up my coats as well. I stop wearing my parka bc I get tired of being that bundled up and instead switch up the hat I wear and coat to make it feel different for a little while.
Find the Sunny spot:
Now that we have more sun later in the day I love to enjoy it by finding the warmest and sunniest spot in the house and just laying and reading in it. If I close my eyes it can sometimes feel like I am at the beach almost haha. The sun is warming and you will notice the snow is heavier and denser which means the air is warming around us and so is the ground even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Laying in the sun even for 30 minutes in your home can feel amazing and bring you a lot of joy.
Buy some plants:
Many local greenhouses are beginning to stock some plants in their stores and will be opening up now that spring is arriving. So go pick up some little plants to keep inside. You could even create some herb boxes that can be inside for now and moved outside once the last freeze happens in your zone. Having greenery in your home will bring a sense of spring to your home even if outside it is still lingering in winter.
Take note of the changes each day:
Even when there is a Nor’easter dumping 12 inches there are signs that winter is coming to an end. The Nor’easter itself is a sign in fact since storms like that only come as weather patterns are shifting. Even on cold days you can find the signs of things to come. From where the sun has melted snow and revealed patches of small plants to the maple syrup filling tap lines and buckets. Even the way the sun has felt in the last few weeks feel different than it did a month ago. All these things are small signs and are things to take note of. Each day things shift slightly and by noticing the positive steps we can more easily deal with what feel like set backs.
Now this sounds a little nuts, but I find it helpful to clean our house and minimize things while the days are still slow. This way when spring finally shows up and all we want to do is be outside, we can. We won’t feel the need to do “spring cleaning” because we did it before the spring weather ever showed up. Being prepared for a season is one way to help welcome it in and feel we are striving forward.
So tell me, what are ways you help make the most of these final weeks of the year. Do you enjoy certain things? Do you have routines that help make the most of it? What are doing to keep yourself busy and excited through these final weeks?
Excited to hear your tips and to hear about you enjoy these final weeks.
Eating this time of year by the season can be a little disheartening. We are pulling from things that farmers have kept in cold storage or are coming from a little further south. There is nothing wrong with that, but this is recipe is one that will help you make a very yummy and exciting dish that everyone in your family or even just you excited to enjoy those root veggies and end of the season veggies.
I learned about this dish years ago when a girlfriend made it for us after we had Hayes, since then I have realized the depths this simple dish offers and how healthy it is. We make various kinds of combos of it but I love it because I can chop things quick and put it in the oven, walk away and in under 40 minutes we have dinner ready and on the table while I get some quality time with Hayes and Mike can tie up work for the evening. Everyone enjoys it and we all gobble it down and hope for leftovers the next day. Full of flavor and greens and protein it will fill you up and have you wanting more. So here is my version of this combo with alternates for nearly any similar combo and dietary restriction.
The Ingredients you need: 1 LB Sausage – You can use ANY sausage or ground meat you like from a vegan one to pork to lamb to chicken. Anything works and I have tried it all.
2 Medium Apples – I use the ones at the edge of going bad so perfect this time of year (I also used applesauce one time too haha…worked great!)
1 cup quartered and cleaned Brussels Sprouts (can also use broccoli)
1/2 roughly chopped red onion (can use shallots or Vidalia as well)
2 garlic cloves (I just slice or rough chop them)
2 cups Sweet Potato or Butternut Squash – either one works great
1 tsp. Paprika
1 tbsp Stone Ground Mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Fresh Rosemary or Sage if available
* You can also add in Rutabaga, Turnips, or any other root veggies you need to use up. Really this dish can take any veggies that roast and it will be great!
* If for some reason you don’t have apples add in Golden Raisins for a touch of sweetness
Chop all veggies roughly and as they are ready drop them in the roasting dish.
Either slice or separate sausage (depending on what you are using) on top
Add Olive Oil, Spices, mustard, herbs, and S&P
Let cook for 30-40 minutes or until meat is thoroughly cooked. Cooking sausage or any ground meat is important in order to ensure it is safe to eat. Know the temp your meat should be at. Most meat thermometers have a guide on them for reference.
Let set for 10 minutes.
Serve with a grain is desired and if you would like, top with your favorite fermented veggies or Sauer Kraut.
That is it! Super simple and easy for a weekday meal or double it to feed a lot of people for dinner. A kid-friendly and yummy meal full of seasonal vegetables you can eat with nearly any combo. A great go-to for nights you don’t want to put in much effort at all. Also, it makes great leftovers with an egg the next day too!
The last few weeks I have been sharing the details of rooms but goodness you guys have so many questions and I wanted to put this post together before we shared much more about the house in order to give the best tips to you guys. I love the questions and looking for tips, but since I don’t have time to answer all of them individually I thought creating a post containing all of my tips and then having a space for you to answer further questions below would be most helpful so you can see other people’s questions and answers.
Through this over 2 year process of dreaming up the house, buying land, designing the home, and then building it, I have learned a ton about what it means to build a home. It is a full-time gig. A fun one but also a sometimes stressful one. Thankfully I went in with some tools under my belt and expectations set properly since my dad use to be a contractor and I grew up on job sites. I love the process and the dust and dirt of it all. I love picking things out and envisioning it all. It is way better than the furnishing part I will tell you that. HA, but that is me. Even with all the right expectations set, I still learned a lot and there were some stressful moments for us from the finances to the wrong wood showing up and figuring out how to fix it on the fly. All these things can feel like earth-shattering moments in the process and make you question the process and what you are doing.
Now, most of these tips are intended for custom built homes, but I am sure many can be applied to any home build or renovation as well. I have no been through building a track home or any extensive renovation in a home so I have fewer tips on that. Happy to answer questions though
My goal with sharing these tips is that you will also have a positive and amazing experience while you see your dream come to life like we did. Even in the stress and frantic decision making, it was such an awesome experience and though I am happy we are settling into our home, I did love the whole process and working with our team of craftsmen.
First of all before I jump in though, I have to say the #1 reason we had a positive experience came down to our builder. We met with 4 different builders. I talked about some if here, but you don’t want to waste too much time with them but usually within 2 meetings you can get a feel for their responses and interest in your project. All the builders we met with were great, but Shugart Builders was the only one that just was honest and straight-forward with us. It was refreshing! Not to mention Nick was responsive and did things when he said he would. It was reassuring when we were thinking about spending the most money we had ever spent in our lives. As we went through the process of getting our loan and choosing fixtures everyone raved about Nick and his team so we knew we were in good hands even if our style was a little different than what Nick normally built. We chose them for quality and attentiveness to the project. Sure enough throughout the process we had a dedicated team of people who showed up every day to work on the house. They worked hard and always wanted to check in and pull me into the project so I could catch things which saved them ripping things out many times. I think we only had anything in framing or finish moved or changed 4 times, which is pretty awesome. It saves time for them and many times money for you. Needless to say, we loved our crew and they felt like family when we completed and because of them things were done on time, they got to know us, and we got to know them. It was an amazing experience to say the least. So, know that our experience being great, began with a great team and your’s will too!
To find the right person I suggest getting proper recommendations, checking out their work, and doing research, but ALSO respect their time. Some of the best ways to get good recommendations is asking your mortgage broker and friends who have recently built. We actually found Shugart through Houzz actually. Since most quality builders are busy it is important to make a decision and move with someone because they don’t have a ton of time to onboard new clients as they manage other projects at the same time they are taking you on. Though your project is important, be respectful of their time still. It is just courtesy and you never want to be THAT client. A good builder will be attentive when appropriately so you feel the house is what you want and everything is lined up for the project to be smooth.
Beyond having a great team with you there are some other things that are my top tips in this process I tell everyone I know who is doing a custom built home that I believe really made a difference in the process:
Know what you want and stick with it: We weren’t great at this but once our design was firm we stuck with it other than a few small changes as we started framing. This is normal and another reason it is important to be available during the whole process. Our foreman would lay boards on the floor the day before they framed so we could see where the walls would be and we could adjust before anything was built. It was great and helped us figure out a shift in a closet and so on in the upstairs. Sometimes it is hard to see a space until you are in it. This was the happy medium and saved everyone time. But once we made the decision we stuck with it even after the wall went up. This keeps your project on track. Now is something is just breaking your heart, say something, but do it sooner rather than later.
Have a System for on the fly decision making: There were so many times I had to make quick decisions about something and knowing we had a set color palette, color of wood, and fixture colors made it so easy to make those decisions. It helped me not over think it at all. You can see my system I used here.
Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions. A good crew will want to make sure you understand what is happening so you can be happy with what they are doing. Give them the opportunity to know what you are wondering and concerned about. Asking questions when they come is better than sitting and wondering as well.
Bring food and treat your crew like family:
I still think about the guys framing the walls of our house on 90 degree days in the sun or hauling in heavy cabinets and more. They put so much heart into what they were doing even on cold, hot, and tough days. They showed up and made it right each time. Many times they went above and beyond. I wish I could have brought them more to keep them fueled, but I did what we could. Most of the time they are happy with some warm cookies or donuts from a local store. But sometimes I would bring them beers on Friday evenings or bags from a local grocery store full of goodies for them to munch on while they worked that week. I brought water on weeks I knew it was going to be hot and more. It wasn’t a lot, but these guys are the ones that made our dream come true and I wanted them to know that wasn’t missed ever. We felt so thankful for their heart being in the work every day. I wanted to make sure they knew it. Growing up with a dad that was contractor I knew the difference these little things do for a crew in the way they perceive the job they are working on. Building homes is hard work and so showing them respect and thanks for what they were doing was the least we felt we could do.
Get their opinions but be honest about what you want: Many times this isn’t your contractor or crews first rodeo so they have seen a lot of home project before and know how things come out when you make certain decisions. When something came up I wasn’t sure about I would always ask their opinions. I trusted them to give me honest answers. I would consider it and go from there with either what they suggested or another option if I felt it better suited us. I always appreciated knowing all the options and opinions.
Be open to solutions:
These guys have been doing this for a long time. They know the ins and outs of projects. Listen to them and try to be creative working with them. Many times there is a good mix of quality and design you can always find.
This is HUGE and what I believe made the difference for us in our timeline and design. If you don’t care it is fine to step away but know when they break ground most custom homes with homeowners who have opinions, it is just the beginning of the work ahead of you as a homeowner. If you want your dream home I suggest being willing to show up and answer questions on site. Though for us it was sometimes a 40-60 minute drive for us each way to get to the house, we made it a priority. I wanted to be involved and I think it made a huge difference because we could problem solve, make decisions, and then they got back to work quickly. This way if they did something we didn’t have to tear it out and redo it more than one or two times. This saves a TON of time for your team. Being flexible and close by will make a huge difference if you want to be hands-on with the design and build process. Mike and I always said both of our first priority is always Hayes and then Mike had his work and before my work I always placed our house right after Hayes in the list of priorities. If there was a question, I showed up and we solved it. It was all worth it.
Stay ahead of them:
I always asked what things they would be needing for the house and would literally go home, make a decision and order it and make sure it was on my doorstep in plenty of time before they needed it. This meant they were never or rarely waiting on things from me. I ordered everything as early as I could. Also Amazon Prime is a life saver since our local options are so limited. You don’t want your crew waiting on if you don’t have to.
Try your best to get over the small things:
We had some things that a few times felt like big things in the moment. Looking back they weren’t. They were small and now that we are in we don’t notice the compromises we made, but it is so hard to feel that way when you are making all these decisions. Just try to gauge what matters and what doesn’t.
It doesn’t always happen all at once:
Our neighbors taught us this. They built their home in stages and ultimately this is why we waited on a garage. We knew to build our home the way we wanted it we couldn’t do both. We could save up for a garage, but we wanted the house sooner rather than later. We also waited on choosing some light fixtures such as our dining room light and our bedroom light. Honestly, I am glad we did because it was hard to know what we wanted till we were in. It is so nice to let some things just fall on the back burner and realize you can bite it off in chunks. Even a paint color…seriously. You don’t have to make all the decisions before moving in. For instance, we are adding a deck this spring that we couldn’t fit in our original loan but now have cash to do it with. Just waiting and saving a few months while the house was being built meant we could do it and we aren’t missing it right now since it is winter.
I probably have a few more tips from this process but I kind of would love others to weigh in because everyone has different experiences. I know a few of you are in the process or have completed new homes or are about to begin so please share what you are learning and let’s talk about what it means to really tackle this type of project. It can be a huge undertaking but a very rewarding on to say the least.
Since moving into our home I have been hunting for homeware items that are quality, handmade, and don’t break the bank. Having a mix of larger brand homeware items and high quality homemade things creates a well rounded and unique design in your home with character and personality. But! That doesn’t mean it is easy to find the right things. I have found that though I follow a lot of great stores with great products that connecting with stores through Etsy is one of the best ways to find things we love. Things are usually one of a kind or made to order, but the time and money are well worth it for the quality and unique pieces you receive. So I gathered up some of these items for you to get inspired today.
Last week I did a whole story on Instagram about everything I use for self-care and through the process all of you were begging for a dedicated post to this. I heard you and I wanted to pull this together so you had someone to reference outside of Instagram. I am including EVERYTHING I use and love and have hunted for the last 5 years. I feel I have finally found the things I feel great about and I am proud to recommend to you. Many of these products I have used for years and some or in the last 6 months but they have stood up, performed, made me feel better, and many of them put money back in my product over other expensive products.
Over the years I have learned a few things when it comes to what I use to take care of my body from the inside and out:
Clean beauty and self-care products do not need to be complicated or necessarily expensive. You shouldn’t be dropping an arm and a leg on your products. Simple and back to the source is best. Treat your beauty products and self-care like your food. The fewer the ingredients the better.
You need to drink a lot of water and eat well. There is nothing that compensates for pour diet and dehydration. Eating lots of fruits and veggies, quality fats from nuts and so on, plus drinking nearly a gallon of well-filtered water will change you and make you need way less on your skin. I promise! The best thing to cleanse impurities is lots of water. End of story.
Great self-care and quality clean products used = less makeup needed. Yes it really is that simple.
Moisturize your skin in every season till it won’t take anymore. Every season your skin needs more moisture than others so be aware, but moisturize it to the end of its life. Particularly before you sleep.
Don’t scoff at the “granola things”. I use to think some things were really weird or was scared by trying certain things, but now I am a strong believer in the oil on my skin and cleansing with oil, dry brushing, clay masks, oil pulling, and oh yeah, tongue scraping. These things are so good and honestly have made me much healthier and my body better. Glad I took the leap.
So I am going to go a little more in-depth here than I went on my stories because of the other questions I got afterward. I can add to this if need be but I broke it out into 5 sections here for you. Though I could have made this multiple posts, I figure you guys would appreciate seeing it all in one place. So let’s dive in we have a lot of ground to cover.
From the Inside Out:
I take supplements just like everyone. I don’t do anything crazy, but since Mike works with a company called Blueprint for Athletes that is a branch of Quest Diagnostics which is the largest blood testing company in the world, I have the chance to actively test my blood. These tests, which you can take as well allow you the chance to optimize your health and place your health in your hands. Through Blueprint, I have been able to work with a nutritionist to figure out what I actually need and most importantly what I don’t. They are releasing a lifestyle based branch in the next few weeks that he has designed and the results you can see on your phone was his most recent work for them. It is very cool especially because it connects to Apple Health. Needless to say, it has helped me figure out as a woman in my child-bearing years what is working and what isn’t just by getting my blood screened every 3 months. Based on that, here is what I am taking to optimize my health and skin so I am doing my best.
***As a note…I get many of these vitamins in my morning smoothie. Anything that is a powder is in my smoothie every morning. I feel off if I don’t get it each day. ***
Vital Protein Collagen: This is great for skin, hair, eyesight, and more. I don’t eat beef really but I trust this maker and their items though I have thought about switching to the marine collagen as I process fish much better than beef and have wondered about this not working as well because of how I don’t handle beef as well. But either way I know from some predispositions in my family that I should be taking this regularly. Plus anyone who wants great hair and nails would enjoy the benefits of this.
Garden of Life Once Daily Prenatal Vitamin: No I am not pregnant, but My doctor years ago had me start prenatals way before I ever was ready. He noticed deficiancies I had and it all stemmed from being in child-bearing years and not having the right nutrients. Needless to say, he made me start a prenatal. I have stayed on it since then (age 25) and will stay on it till I feel I am through the years of wanting to have children and recovered from breastfeeding. The vitamins offer the benefits of great hair and nail growth, but sometime deficiency will come out in our skin themselves. I found by taking this through pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding, and no post breastfeeding and as a mom in my 30’s I don’t see large pores or anything. It is really nice.
Vitamin D: Living in a cold climate with periods of little sunlight, we need this. Even though we spend a lot of time in the sun during those months we try to make a point to always be taking it throughout the year. I was told via my blood results to be taking around 4,000 IUs and I have felt positive and bright through this whole winter season. It helps so much with mood, mental balance, and your immune system. Taking the right amount is extra important.
Green Pastures Cod Liver Oil Capsules: This is a little further beyond just Fish Oil. Fermented Cod Liver Oil smells and tastes just as awful as you believe it does, but Green Pastures has made these capsules and you don’t burp up fishy flavors later either. The fermented oil offers a raw way of getting the most potent levels of EPA/DHA Omega 3’s you could possibly need. So good for you.
Bluebonnet Magnesium Citrate:I swear to you this is why I never got much morning sickness with Hayes. I had stopped taking it right before I got pregnant because I didn’t know I was pregnant and was sleeping way too hard. Come to find out I was pregnant and when nausea set in I started taking this. I still had that awful taste in my mouth and I had food aversions and smells would set me off, but I never threw up and I never felt like I couldn’t eat. Learning that we all are extremely deficient in this was what got me taking it originally. Now I take it every night (just 400 mg) and I sleep well every night and I know it has built my immune system and more. It is wonderful and I don’t know if it does my skin any good, but beauty sleep is a real thing so I figure it at least helps with that.
True Veda Turmeric, Black pepper, and Ginger: I love taking this as it helps take down any inflammation we have in our bodies. Either from lack of sleep, food choices, or stress in our bodies. Mike and I both find this extremely helpful to take daily. Since my family has a history of auto-immune diseases, I feel this is one of my defenses to keep inflammation in my body in check. Ultimately it helps my body look less inflamed if I am stressed or ate too much bread one weekend. We all make bad choices, but helping our body recover from it is a nice way to be kind to our bodies.
Coconut Oil: I usually put this in my smoothies. I made sure to have a Tbsp a day either in my food or smoothie in some way especially when pregnant and breastfeeding. The amount of healthy fats your body needs to during those times it helps keep your skin and body well lubricated and everything moving right along.
Amazing Grass Super Greens: I swear by this stuff. It is packed full of those algae greens you don’t want to think about eating all the time but are really good for your body, mind, and health. I drop a scoop in my smoothie every day. I also give it to Hayes in his smoothie and it makes me feel like a super mom especially when he refuses to eat anything but crackers and bananas that day.
At Home Blood test: I already described it above so I won’t explain again, but this is so helpful to get you in a good direction with what your body needs and doesn’t need.
In My Shower: I am a big shower person especially in the winter, but I keep things pretty simple. Mike and I share shampoo and conditioner and soap. I use a few other things, but these are my essentials in the showering department. As a note, I always do my dry brushing before the shower. I also only do it when I take a shower in the morning as it is a rather invigorating experience I feel like. When I do it at night I find it far too stimulating. Finally, I think a robe is a wonderful calming experience after a shower or bath plus it allows you stay warm but still get oil and moisturizer all over you after your shower before you get dressed.
Vegetable Bristle Dry Brush: As I said I use this when I take showers in the morning. It gets your lymphatic system working in order to clear toxins and invigorate your nervous system. It feels so good. Follow these directions if you want to get into it.
Malin + Goetz Shampoo: I fell love with their stuff at the San Jose Hotel in Austin. I was sold especially with the conditioner. The scents are awesome and I love the look in our shower. Though I am about to try this one next from True Botanicals.
Malin + Goetz Conditioner: This conditioner is one of my favorite things about taking a shower. The fresh scent, especially in the winter, is revitalizing and so refreshing.
Acure Brightening Face Scrub: When I want to really exfoliate (about once a week) I LOVE this scrub. You can just gently scrub and it gets all that additional dirt and more off your which makes it an awesome way to get extra clean when you need to.
Olive Oil Soap Bar: I love this soap bar for all over. The olive oil is moisturizing and great for your skin so you don’t walk out of the shower dried out especially during winter. The scent is clean and simple as it is only the smell of olive oil. It also works great for washing your face if you just want to quickly remove dirt without much fuss at the end of the day.
Coco Rose Body Scrub: This is kind of one or those luxury products that I think you can live without but I really love it and use it from time to time. I do make my own but this one is so well made it is hard not to keep some on hand. I have a recipe here for making your own body scrub that is so simple.
Coyuchi Robe: I love having a robe after a shower so I can moisturize my skin but still feel warm. Coyuchi has awesome robes and this flannel one is so simple and beautiful.
My Facial Skin Regiment:
These were the items I shared in my story on Instagram. All of them are clean and simple products I have been trying for months or years and can really stand behind. These are the items that work for me and keep me feeling well moisturized and limits the amount of makeup I need on my face. I love how most everything I use is very simple and such limited ingredients so I know what I am putting on my skin. This was extremely important to me when I was pregnant and breastfeeding, which more or less forced me to limit everything that was touching my skin as much as I could unless I knew what it was. If you are anything like me, it can be easy to forget that our skin is our largest organ and absorbs everything that touches it.
Charcoal Soap Bar: I swear by charcoal soap for cleaning your skin and the best part is it shouldn’t cost too much for something with quality ingredients. I buy mine from our co-op from a local soap maker using all natural and simple ingredients, but you can find them just about anywhere. Just make sure there is no funny business in the ingredients. That is the most important thing. The charcoal really cleanses your skin while keeping it hydrated and smooth at the same time.
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil: I use coconut oil to remove makeup, but you can use just about any oil that you feel is good for your skin. Also, my theory with makeup remover is if your makeup doesn’t come off with an oil and/or soap and you need a special remover something is wrong. I just don’t like the idea of using a “remover” on my skin because what else is it removing?
Thayer’s Witch Hazel Rose Toner: This toner will take away any excess oil you have from removing your makeup and clean out the last bit of dirt lingering. It also will calm any inflammation from being outside or even just from washing. Plus it smells amazing. Some people asked about that in my story, but the witch hazel won’t remind you of your postpartum days it will smell like roses
Ursa Major 3 – Minute Mask: I don’t always have time for a mask a few times a week but this quick mask is one I can do while I brush my teeth. I do it after I use my toner and I will do it 2-3 times a week. I find the next day my skin is so radiant and even it is crazy. The product has aloe vera in it and smells like it and it simply goes on, you let it dry, and then wash it off with a wet towel. So simple. It is pricey so if that isn’t in the budget, you can buy Aloe Vera and do something very similar. Aloe is a great way to heal your skin and naturally close up pores and so on.
Japanese Hand Towel : I love the feeling of Japanese made hand towels. They are soft and wash well and help gently to remove makeup. Other towels I find are too harsh and rough especially for removing around your eyes. I use to use cotton pads to remove makeup but since deciding to start being less wasteful this was an easy fix for me. As a note, I change my towels every other day and wash them with natural organic laundry soap so there is possible of an irritant. I like The Laundress for towels and sheets.
Badger Beauty Balm in Argan: This stuff is pure magic. I love it and swear by it. I use it as my night moisturizer and sometimes even lightly apply more in dry areas in the morning before putting on makeup that day. My skin has never been more even or fresh feeling than when I use this product. It is heavy so you don’t need much when applying. It goes on well and then any excess I gently remove with a towel.
Herbivore Botanical Jasmine Oil: This is one of those you don’t need, but I love and use sparingly and as needed. I love the scent and how it feels on my skin. I particularly use this after dry brushing days when I get out of the shower. Wait a little bit before you get dressed in anything too tight fitting though it can feel a little icky. This goes for any time you oil your skin.
Suvana Chapstick: I have hunted for clean chapstick and have come up with this one. Very happy to report it served the winter well.
Indian Healing Clay Mask: For those times I want to treat myself and mask I use this super simple mask. I do it for about 10 minutes and just when I feel I need to get that deep level of clean. I don’t have time to mask often, but I think this stuff is the best out there.
Mask Brush: If you use a mask brush it on. It is both fun and more enjoyable. Simple pleasures you know?
In My Makeup Bag:
This is pretty simple as I only use a few items. I love the things I have and since I use such little makeup and most days is just a little concealer and mascara, I rarely run through products so I find I usually spend less than $100 a year on makeup, which has been nice to know even as I have purchased more expensive things that sometimes also require shipping to get to me. The best part is every single one of these products are clean and functions brilliantly. Win and Win!
Glossier Concealer: I love this concealer because it never looks cakey and it ACTUALLY hides my dark circles. I love it and love the packaging and company.
Glossier Wowder: Since my skin can get a little shiny I like to just finish things off sometimes with some powder. I love this one as it takes so little to look finished and ready to go.
Eyelash Curler: Cause I have short lashes and I got to make the most out of them.
Juice Beauty Eye Pencil: A little on top and a little on bottom. That’s all. I love that this eye pencil smells natural and like wax which tells me the cleanliness of this product is real. Plus it really works well.
Glossier Boy Brow: It is like a magic wand especially for my crazy brows that are untamable and unshapable. This still fills in but looks natural and like you just have good brows every day no matter the time of day.
Juice Beauty Mascara: I have hunted for a lot of mascara and this one is the winner for me. It isn’t going to make you look like you are a movie star or pump anything up beyond reality, but it is natural and works great. Best part is it comes off with just water and soap and anything residual removes with a cleansing oil like coconut oil or castor oil. No need for any makeup remover natural or not.
Other Self-Care Products I Use:
These are all the other things I am using for self-care from deodorant to tongue scraper to toothbrush to toothpaste. I am still hunting for a few things in this department but I am offering up my items I am currently using with my review to them. I may update this later for you though if I find something that functions better.
Shouldn’t the best things in life be simple? I think so! So when I ran out of crackers at a dinner party not long ago, I realized why couldn’t we just make our own. In under 30 minutes and before our friends arrived, I had over 3 dozen crackers warm and ready for a cheese plate and my Sourdough starter was happy to be used. These super simple and easy crackers are now our pantry staple we keep in a jar in our pantry. Over the course of the last few weeks we have saved more than $30 on groceries because I am making them myself with the most readily available ingredients in our pantry. A simple thing that is basically free…how about that?
As I said last week I am going to be sharing more recipes that are focused on seasons and economy. I also believe that food should be absolutely simple and easy for everyone. All it takes though is some intention and adding new things into rhythms in our weeks slowly. This is a new one for us but a fun one.
You guys keep asking for our Sourdough recipe and I am working with my friend who I got my starter and recipe from to do a post, but for now, let’s make some crackers okay?!
Gather these ingredients:
2/3 Cups of sourdough starter (I use mine right before I feed it that day to make these)
3 Tblsp. Olive Oil
3/4 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour (I have also used whole wheat and it works very well as well)
1/4 tsp. fine salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Course finishing salt to spring on top ( I use Maldon)
Before we begin, if you do not have Sourdough starter but want some here is how to make it. Or if you have no interest in starting that venture I suggest using this recipe instead. I have used it a few times and it works out great, but I won’t lie the Soudough version is better.
To make the crackers here is what you do:
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. I use a rubber spatula to combine the dough. Then use my hands to need it till it is well mixed and a nice ball.
Let sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours. This helps the sourdough flavor come out through fermentation etc.
About 15 min. before you are ready to cook preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the oven readies, place dough on the counter that is sprinkled with flour and divide your dough into two balls. Roll the first ball out to about a 1/2 inch to 1/4 inch thick.
Then slice the crackers into squares using the pastry scraper. You can also use a pizza cutter, but I hate cleaning them so I like the pastry scraper better.
Place each cracker on the baking sheet one by one with a little space between and before placing in the oven sprinkle them with course salt.
Cook till they are golden brown in color around 5-8 minutes depending on your oven.
Remove from oven and let cool before storing in a jar.
Repeat these steps till all crackers are cooked and ready for storage.
I typically do this the day before I make bread or early in the morning on a weekend. I figure the cost of these guys is about $1 total for more than you would receive in 1 box of crackers bought at the grocery store. They are so simple and I have totally messed up the ingredients and they still turned out awesome. You can add in rosemary or thyme or even some cheese to the dough as well if you want. You can also shave fresh parmesan on them in the last couple minutes of baking and skip the salt if you want. Either way they are amazing and better than ANY cracker I have ever bought.
One trick I do for this though is to sometimes double the recipe especially if I know we will want more that week. If I don’t want to cook them right away I can stop the fermenting process by placing them in the fridge and waiting till we want more or if I have dinner guests that week.
I find that making these small changes has also helped eliminate some trash and items we are recycling as well. Not having the box or the bag they come in to get rid of is really nice. Instead, we just reuse the jar over and over again and I get my flour in bulk at our co-op so I reuse the same bag as well. Simple ways to be more conscious while being healthy and finding rhythms in our cooking and days. Crackers never go out of season and are always awesome to have on hand any season.
Do you make your own crackers? What do you love about doing it? Have you never done this? Does it seem like something you could start doing?
When we were designing these spaces, I lost count of how many times we redesigned these spaces. Thinking about how you approach a home and how to enter it is a big deal. I think of the spaces we fought about in the design process this whole area was a big one. I wanted the entry here so we could look out to the west and over our dining room the moment we walked in. It was a big deal to me. I wanted our house to always feel focused on the table and it is, but how do we adjust the rest of the space?
This space is probably one where we have a lot of confusion about still in our home. We LOVE it, but we also have a lot of question marks left still from what our mudroom/wall hanging area will be like to maybe putting more tile in because we live on acreage and there is a lot of dirt and water that comes in the front door, to decorating. We left these spaces minimal so we could learn these spaces before we went too crazy on the design of it. Honestly, though I have really enjoyed the minimalism of it all. We couldn’t be more in LOVE with our half bath or the way our entry feels open to the rest of the house or how everything flows around to the kitchen so smoothly. It is very clean and such a modern take on that farmhouse feeling.
The biggest decision we made was placing our pantry in the cabinets in the kitchen so we could limit the amount of space needed to be used in this area. What resulted was a larger half bath and wider halls, which when we are all trying to get out the door for a hike on the weekends is extra necessary. The pocket door allowed us to not worry about a door swinging out into the hall.
The thing I love the most in our entry/hall area though is our laundry. It wasn’t what I planned AT ALL, but I love its accessibility to everything in the house. These cabinets from Hygge Supply worked perfectly in our space to hideaway our laundry and more so it kept our space very open but the dirty life of laundry hidden. The best part? I actually get laundry done and put away, which is saying a lot. I love how it is right next to the kitchen so messes clean up and toss right there for washing. I can fold and watch Hayes easily in the kitchen and more. I also love that when I am done, I just close it all and the mess is hidden. We are still trying to figure out a dirty clothes gathering area solution but I am thinking of placing baskets over the washer for dirties. Currently, we just have one dedicated day to laundry from our bedrooms and it is doing the trick.
We keep all of our coats we use daily in a closet between the coffee cabinet and the laundry cabinets. It isn’t big but we keep the essentials and it keeps us minimal. We also have our Dyson hand vac mounted to the wall and our mop and cleaning supplies in there. It can be a tight fit in the winter, but some of this will be solved once we decide on our hook and bench solution hopefully before next winter.
We love that, for now, we can keep all the necessities in this area for running in and out. Now that springs is beginning to approach, we are planning to also create an outside area for boots and things that hold a lot of dirty so we can keep more dirt outside. The biggest regret I have in this space is not thinking about having it be tiled. I just didn’t think twice about it but within a few days of living here and having a huge snow storm, I realized we should have thought about it. I assume in the future we will choose to tile this area when the wood finally has seen better days. Though we could refinish the wood, we figure the tiling would be better for our lives at some point.
My favorite space in this area though is for sure our half bath! I had so much fun coming up with this space. Since most of our home doesn’t have a lot of color it was cool to add in some here. Small spaces are such awesome places to add something a little edgy. Both because it costs less and it is simple if for some reason you get tired of it down the road and decide to change it. You can see my post about the design here, but more or less I wanted to stay classic, but bring in some fresh patterns and colors. Inspired by our travels to boutique hotels in New York and LA, I wanted anyone who came to our home to feel something similar in this space. The room is dark and moody but modern with a touch of farmhouse. We used Nick Gap to create a modern take on Shiplap so it felt clean and minimal but created a visual element in the space. I love textures in spaces that are subtle like this and it worked perfectly.
We then added a Hygge Supply vanity in the space in the same color as all the other cabinets. I love the color of it because depending on the space it really changes and naturally fits in each setting.
For the floors in here, I went very classic but with a modern twist by doing a modern triangle pattern using Meteorite and Halite from Fireclay. Used in a simple pattern they create a funky yet modern pattern without having to get custom painted tiles. I loved the selections Fireclay had because the options were endless for creating our own patterns. I had first considered using these painted tiles from them, but when the size of the bathroom shifted, I realized we could really make the most of it creating a pattern of our own. We then grouted it with charcoal grout and I will tell you we leave the dogs in here when they get dirty and the dark grout holds up to their dirt. I just sweep and quickly mop and it is clean and brand new looking in minutes. I couldn’t be happier with how this little nook in our home came together and the way it really acts as a focal point when it could be such an arbitrary and utilitarian space in our home.
As the entry point of our home, the flow has proven to be wonderful. Even the location of the bathroom has proven to be perfect. Because you don’t want to have the bathroom to far from the action but not too close either, having to turn a corner and enter it makes it a wonderful location while still in the thick of the fun in our home.
Though this area still has a long way to go in terms of putting in hooks and a permanent bench and storage, we feel it couldn’t have come together more perfectly. Soon enough we will choose a rug for the entry space and hang things on the wall, but for now we are loving the simplicity and minimalism that may not always be the case in our home.
Spring feels as if it is trying to come a little early this year. It is sometimes odd to me to be without a parka mid-afternoon more days this last month than I was wearing one. It is hard to complain about to have the chance to get outside and get dirty the end of February and beginning March. Maybe it was a list we all needed. Who knows? None the less it has me thinking about the garden, being outside and what I think I will want to wear this spring. For a long time I have wanted a good pair of overalls. I have HUNTED for so long to find some. It seems there are a lot of options and a lot of styles so while I was hunting, I thought you guys may be curious as well, so I rounded up some of the ones I was looking at.
I ended up ordering a few pairs from Levi’s because I wanted some I could work outside in. Since I will be spending a lot of time this spring and summer being dirty setting up a garden and working outside on landscaping, I wanted something easy to wear on those days, but also clean up and wear to hang out in as well. I have linen overalls I love, but it was time for real denim ones.
I looked and looked for ethical options here, but let me tell you I had the hardest time finding them. I found one pair from Reformation but that was it, if you have a pair from an ethical clothing brand, please post them below for us all. I would love to look at those as options as well.
So in case you are like me and hunting for the perfect pair, here are the ones I looked at and considered. I personally ordered the two darker styles from Levi’s in a size up so they fit looser. Check Instagram for a little review once I receive them in the mail. Happy to chat more about them and what I end up deciding on.
I woke early that morning. The moon was bright and nearly like daylight at 5 AM. I don’t always do this, but sometimes it happens naturally and I roll with it. Changes that come with your 30’s are funny. Some feel natural and some feel hard to accept, but becoming a morning person has been one that surprises me the most. As I slowly stretched and woke myself up, I looked out our window that is one of our favorite views in our home. From there we can see over snow-covered hills and layers of land of Leelanau. As I look out as I have many mornings and nights this winter, something was different. There stood packs of deer wandering over the hills and meandering through the sumac at the edge of the hill we live on. They stepped through the snow gracefully wandering down the ravines. I woke Mike because it was the first time we had seen them since we moved in. I then whispered in the dark to him, “Spring is coming…”
2 weeks later here we are tapping maple trees and prepping our yard for the upcoming spring season. There is hard work ahead of us and more work to be done. Great things take time and owning a home is a lesson in that. But I think so are the seasons. Watching the world have a rhythm and step daily into new seasons and out of old ones is a refreshing promise that small steps forward or backward can sometimes always be in the plan whether we realize it or not.
This last week as I wandered our land feeling the trees as they warmed and collected the rocks that had been hidden under the snow to make way for seeding our grass, I became aware of a new season that sometimes we miss here in Northern Michigan. There is the season of Late winter. For many of us this is when we cannot wait to hop a plane to somewhere warm. Even though we ourselves have trips planned in the coming weeks, I am learning and finding such beauty in this season. This is the time before the crocuses pop-up or the asparagus shows up through the dirt. There is this beautiful time between the deep parts of winter and the first real days of spring. This time sometimes can be short but this year already I know it will be longer than normal. It began the day the deer wandered in packs through our yard and the coyotes crying at night woke me out of a deep sleep. This is when we tap our maple trees and switch out our parka for a lighter warm coat. It is when we first roll down our window on a sunny day in February while wearing sunglasses. This is Late Winter.
We cannot call it spring because that it is not. It is the space between the wild winter storms that cover the world in heavy layers of snow. It is when we know in our souls we must pack away the snow sports and replace them with our gardening tools. It is the time when the trees turn greener even when the snow still is on the ground and it is when the branches of the cherry trees brighten to a burnt red all of a sudden. The signs are all there and I am noticing more than ever living here. I am watching small eco-systems of moss brighten to spring greens even while under the last bits of snow. Late winter doesn’t promise we are in the clear from the snow or ice because we aren’t. It will come again and we will shovel our way to our car another time or more. Our winter boots still have a place, but so do our wool socks and rain boots.
Wandering the woods this last week with Hayes, I saw glimpses of spring here. I felt the warmth of the sun and could smell the earth for the first time since fall. I felt renewed, but I knew this was just the height of late winter on us. This is how the earth brings the flowers and calls the birds back home and the animals out of hibernation. The world awakens during Late Winter and we should follow suit. March is sometimes a hard month in northern states here. The ebb and flow of warm and cold days brings sickness and sometimes bad moods when the warmth doesn’t stick around, but I have learned this is how we prepare for the warmer and fuller months of the year. We use these final weeks of Late Winter to awaken to the earth again and to life outdoors again. We can even use our days of being sick as a reminder that rest is necessary. We can use this tug and pull between winter and spring to help us find gratitude in the warmth and the cold. For me, knowing it is all part of the plan is necessary.
The things I learn from the world around us in a seasonal climate are life-giving. The connection we make with the world around us and how it moves is incredibly meditative. Watching our world step into spring and back into winter reminds me that when we are doing any great work we don’t move forward all the time. Sometimes we are still. Sometimes we are sprinting. Sometimes we are stepping backward. But no matter the direction if we know the way we are meant to head that is the most important thing.
Spring is coming and in fact, I dare say a little earlier this year. Sure we will see snow storms still, but the color of the ground, the movement of the deer, the smells when the sun comes out are all indicators that this winter season is saying its final farewell this month.
Read Full Article
Read for later
Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
Scroll to Top
Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.