Monday, April 17, 2017

Make It: Acai Fruit Bowls

Like some of you we are just coming off our Spring Break which we spent in San Diego. While we were there we found a place called Nektar Juice Bar that served amazing juices, smoothies and Acai bowls. I think we had an Acai bowl three days in a row! 

So upon returning home we decided to try our hand at them ourselves. Though we don't have the amazing produce that California is already enjoying, we will be soon enough from our public markets. And I figure the more practice we get the better! 

We have found acai berry to be easy to find frozen in packets from Sambazon. We have found it locally at Fred Meyer, The Co-Op and Whole Foods.  You can buy it sweetened or unsweetened (we go for unsweetened). This is your base and then the rest can really be based on your taste. 

We were trying to make ours taste as close to the ones we had in California so we made them as follows:

2 Sambazon acai berry packets, unsweetened
2 frozen bananas
4-6 strawberries (approx)
1/4-1/2 cup of almond milk
1 tablespoon of almond butter 

Then you just give it a big blend and pour it in a bowl. Then you are welcome to top it as you wish. Everyone in our family did things a bit differently. We all topped off with bananas and strawberries, but some of us added blueberries while others added agave syrup for sweetness. I think we all added shredded coconut. 

And the thing I was really trying to copy was the type of granola used...we found Natures Path Hemp Plus Granola to be the perfect sort of granola. Not too sweet and heavy, but more of a light and crispy addition. 

We found the frozen packets this weekend at Costco as well so we loaded up in the hopes of starting many weekend days with an Acai Bowl. And I just looked up our local favorite juice bar Electric Beet Juice and found they will make any smoothie into a bowl if you need another option.  Let me know if you try making one! 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Get Thrifty: Five Thrifting Tips

I like to talk about clothes and fashion, do you? I find my usual answer when I am asked where I got something to often be "thrifting." This leads to discussions about how to be successful finding things. I've come up with some tips to start! 

1. Be Open Minded: And by this I mean about your stores. We have a few standards (Value Village being one of them) but we are always open to the little, funky non-profit stores (The Assistance League of Bellingham is a favorite of the smaller stores in town). When I say be open minded don't disregard cleanliness or things of that sort. I am thinking more of what you may find that would work for you. The smaller stores tend to have smaller prices, and an interesting mix of stock. 

2. Be Flexible: I'm not talking like a gymnast. Be flexible as to go into the store with an idea of what you are looking for (palazzo pants, light coat, ect.) but then be open to what you find and where your wanderings take you. We have found staples such as t-shirts and jeans, but more often than not, it's the surprise finds that have been the best additions to our closets. 

3. Go often: We tend to hit the thrift stores on Fridays which is just our way of relaxing and starting off the weekend. But we go as much as we can as stock turns over a lot and you never know what you will find. 

4. Take photos: Sometimes (often) I need to see myself in an item to see how it looks on me objectively. It sometimes help to remove yourself a bit to make a final call on a piece of clothing. (this coat by the way was a big YES before I even took the photo!) 

5. Have fun!: This is our number one rule for thrifting. Somehow it's turned into an outing that the whole family enjoys. We are either laughing over sayings over t-shirts, trying on ridiculous shoes, or squealing over an amazing find! (the above is Sam trying on a beekeepers jacket! We almost couldn't stop laughing!)  A general rule I have about my attire is that it should include an element of fun. A talking point makes your clothing a point of connection. And shouldn't our clothing make us happy? 

Do you thrift? Do you have any tips for me? Or any questions? It's a favorite topic, so I would love to talk more about it! (ps. When this post goes up we should be returning from San Diego...hopefully there are some thrift finds in our baggage!) 


Monday, April 3, 2017

Make it: Fuzzy Slides

My daughter Samantha likes trendy, fun pieces for her wardrobe. It's fun to see what she finds to inspire her wardrobe choices, on instagram, thru friends or on tumbler. Her latest find was fuzzy slides. Rhianna and Gucci kicked off the trend of furry shoes and we thought we might try our hand at some! 

Gathering supplies 

We were inspired to try our hand at at making these slides when we each found a pair of plain ones while thrift shopping. Once we had those, the rest was easy. Samantha went with a furry, bright material. I decided to use a strip of boa material. Both were easy to find at craft/sewing stores in the area and cost less than $4 (coupons were easy to find and helped). 

Prepping the materials

The lengths of boa have pieces of string on both ends that I cut off before starting to apply to the shoe. We used a glue gun to apply both our materials. 

Sam gluing her fabric down

We worked slowly on the glueing down. Sam worked from one side to the other, while I started with a strip on the top and worked toward the toe. 

Gluing in process

Though the slides I have had holes the glue didn't make too much of a mess. It was just a matter of letting one strip dry before starting on the next. 

One shoe finished 
Once both of our shoes were done it was just a matter of trimming them up, and a massive clean up! Especially the fluff let from my boa! 

The finished fun!
Voila! The finished slides! We are headed to San Diego for spring break this week and are both thinking it's the perfect time to bring these out and sport them! Steve's 90 year old Mom wears slides so we are thinking maybe we'll bring our extra materials and see if she wants a pair! Would you wear a pair of these wild shoes? 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Field Trip: The Bagelry

A couple of weeks ago due to a cool program called Morning Jam put on by our Downtown Bellingham Partnership I was able to go on a behind the scenes tour of a Bellingham Landmark, The Bagelry

All the deliciousness! 

I've eaten at the Bagelry in all seasons of my life. I discovered it as a student at Western, continued eating there for lunch when I worked downtown, and found bagels made my growing family happy. So getting the chance to go behind the scenes felt a bit like the Wizard of Oz! Ready to see the magic? 

Aaron & Terra Seaton, the Bagelry Owners

First, a little background. The Bagelry has been in Bellingham since 1984. The original owners sold to Aaron & Terra Seaton, longtime Bagelry employees who took ownership in January of 2016. They have kept things as they were, with the understanding that with the shop being such an institution customers would expect things to stay as they are. But they are adding and tweaking here and there. They have introduced seasonal bagels, such as a salt-rosemary one that is amazing! And there are thoughts of a bagel truck down the road. 

Terra introducing the key players

Terra took us on the tour and the first stop was an introduction the main ingredients of bagels. They list is short...flour, salt, sugar & yeast. And then just water. What they make of those humble ingredients is nothing short of magic! 

The ingredient mixer

The ingredients spend time in this huge mixer. Terra said that the main mistake that happens with bagels is loosing track of what has been mixed into the mixture...did they forget the yeast? Too much sugar? Mistakes are rare, and become apparently rather quickly! 

The forming of the bagels

This is the stage where the ingredients take shape. The bagel dough is rolled out on the table, cut into workable bits, then sent thru the machine in the back to start the shaping of the bagels. 

Bagels taking shape

I have to say this is the point where things get exciting! The bagels are formed quickly and it's mesmerizing to watch them being formed. Once they are, they are set on trays, and sit on trays to rise. The time they spend on this step depends on the type of bagel. Needless to say, there are tons of bagel trays happening. 

The many bagels in the oven

Once the bagels have had time to rise, the then go into a quick bath in boiling water, then they get fished out and get their run in the oven. This job looked so stressful, but the baker did it with grace and speed. There are many trays of bagels moving at this point. Being boiled, being set on wood flats with seasoning, or being run thru the oven. We were all shocked to find out that 2,000 plus bagels are sold a day! This amount is managed by 38 employees that are there at various times of the day, doing various jobs. 

Nothing like a warm bagel! 

Of course we left the tour craving bagels, and took we took some back to friends at work. And seeing these photos again, I'm craving one now! The Bagelry sells many different bagels, spreads, and sandwiches and is open seven days a week. Cash only. 

The "Walk-inn" 

I'll leave you with this silly photo from the kitchen...the "walk-inn!" I'm off to see if I can talk my husband into a bagel run! 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Make It: Rainbow Grilled Cheese

Yay! It's the first day of Spring! To celebrate I wanted to bring you some rainbows. I mean we've had plenty of rain right? It's time for things to turn. And if I can't promise the type in the sky, we can do one better. How about tasty, cheesy, yummy ones? 

Gathering ingredients 

We actually tried this last week for an early St. Patrick's day celebration, but I think they are useful for so many had a bad day and need a pick me up. A colorful party nibble. A Unicorn party. Or just because. Did you grow up in a family that would occasionally color their pancakes? Steve is and has fond memories of it. I consider this the 2017 version of colored pancakes! 

Mixing in coloring

We picked up two packages of shredded white cheddar cheese (over 2 cups worth), and also bought sourdough bread. We already had the food coloring on hand. We decided on four different colors so we just separated the cheese into bowls and added the food coloring based on how vibrant we wanted the color (about 5-7 drops a bowl). 

Ready to make rainbows!

Then it is just a matter of arranging the grated cheese in a rainbow pattern on the bread and grilling it up. I found the only tricky part was making sure not to drop a bunch of colored cheese in the pan when setting up your sandwiches in the pan. 

Making rainbows!

Once you have the cheese in place it's just time to grill them up and enjoy! We had a bunch of fun cutting them partially and pulling them apart to play with the cheese! And of course you are left with colorful, cheesy sandwiches. So, here's to Spring and the sighting of many rainbows! Real or otherwise! 

Rainbow goodness! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Make It: Denim Embroidery DIY


Every once in a while I get the itch to personalize my clothing. My daughter Samantha has been using embroidery to add a touch of fun to a bunch of different outfits and once I saw the above photo in an e-mail I knew I wanted to try my hand at it! Using google image search I was able to find where the photo came from. It happened to be from a DIY from Honestly WTF which was really helpful! 

Gathering supplies 

I bought the jeans at the Gap and being somewhat on the short side I had no problem with cutting off the hem. I just did a bit of a freehand and thankfully it turned out even! I have teased that my daughter is somewhat of an impatient crafter and I think that may apply to me as well! 

Getting started 

Samantha had all the supplies I could need. I did a small tracing of the lettering with a white pencil I had to give me a guideline. And then I just went for it. I tried using a chain stitch which is well illustrated in the Honestly WTF link. Once you start it's a pretty easy stich to master. 

Almost finished 

Once started things moved along quickly and I think I was done in about 20 minutes! I was pretty happy to have made a regular pair of jeans into something a bit special. 

The finished product

The ease of doing this has me dreaming of tackling a bunch of other projects! I'm thinking t-shirts or sweatshirts will be next. Studio DIY has another great guide with pointers on how to set up a template when I get to those! Do you see yourself trying anything like this? 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Field Trip: Treehouse Point

Recently Steve and I made a lifetime dream happen. We have heard of a lot of unfortunate events near us that made us realize that the time is now to make things happen. And something we had been thinking of doing for some time is visiting Treehouse Point. Who wouldn't love sleeping in a treehouse? And that they are available as near as Fall City what were we waiting for? 

Fountain and signage for treehouse

The minute you drive onto the property you feel transported. The grounds are gorgeous and a bit wild, with a centerpiece of a fountain. You can see a treehouse or two right when you pull in. And the lodge is welcoming. Steve was happy to find it was a source of homemade cookies and other snacks! They also have a small merchandise area in case you need something to commemorate your stay. 

Lodge interior 

The greeting is low key and welcoming. We were told how the gate works (apparently they had to install one and create a tour program to help balance those that were curious about the treehouses with privacy of those that are staying in them. Everything is secured with codes which makes it really easy to get around and into your treehouse. 

Bonbibi at first sight 

And then it's on to your treehouse for the night! We had secured Bonbibi for the night and were happy to find it's in a fairly quiet area on the property. It does not have it's own bathroom but there are two full bathrooms at the base of it with heated floors and showers! 

The magical grounds in the evening

The grounds and the treehouses have wonderful lighting with some on motion sensors or timers. It makes for a quietly relaxing environment. Nothing takes very much thought and it feels like you are in Narnia, or the setting for the Hobbit. 

The lovely provisions provided 

The rooms have most things you could think of provided. All you have to bring is basically warm clothes and plan for your meals, besides the breakfast they provide. There are games, gorgeous flowers, and ice chests if you would like the use of them. 

The view from the bed

When we moved in we opened a window, threw the big woolly blanket that we brought, and threw ourselves on the bed to just take it in. I think the window stayed open the whole time we were there (the treehouses are fully heated) so that we could listen to the river and the wind. Steve just relaxed while I took a little snooze. Being in this sweet little space was a bit like being on a boat. Listening to it rain and just hanging out was enough. The last time we were able to hang out together like this had been ages. I don't remember being so relaxed. 

Playing cards into the night

Aside from leaving for a bit for dinner at the nearby Fall City Roadhouse (that just happened to be used in Twin Peaks!) we were back to just hang out. We ended up playing games until late and enjoying the sound of the wind and rain in the trees. We were able to keep a window open all night and were still toasty warm with the heat. We woke to the magic of snow falling which made the visit complete for Steve. 

Until next time...
They serve a wonderful breakfast at the Lodge where there are so many options, vegetarian and otherwise. The staff helps break the ice by joining in with coffee and encouraging everyone to visit one another's treehouses, though we were with a shy group and no one took us up on it! (we were hoping to get a glimpse into Temple of The Blue Moon!) It was suggested by one of the staff that people tended to mix a bit more in the summer around the fire pit that they provide (along with s'more fixings!) and tend to keep to themselves a bit more in the winter months. No matter, we were so happy with our time in the trees. Let me know if you end up heading there yourself! 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Field Trip: Mister Ice Cream in Vancouver, Canada

Mister signage 

Last weekend we capped off our day trip to Vancouver with a visit to a place I have always wanted to try. Mister in Vancouver is an ice cream shop, but one with a twist. They make your ice cream to order...with liquid nitrogen. 

The process

You end up with a creamy delicious treat and a bit of a show to boot! Steve chose Double Oreo, Sam a Creme Brûlée with lavender, and I ordered a Thai Tea flavor. Because Sam's was a creme brûlée they even finished it off with a sugar crust and a torching! Even more of a show. 

Our trio of flavors

One of my favorite things about getting out and about and trying new things is getting inspired. This was certainly inspiring. Steve is wondering about bringing some liquid nitrogen home and seeing if we could make some magic of our own! I'll let you know if we make something happen! 

Steve with his treat

Monday, February 20, 2017

Field Trip: Day Trip to Vancouver

Colorful storefronts

Like a few of you out there, I have been suffering with a head cold. It's been dragging along for a while now. And along with this I have a bad case of cabin fever. While waiting out the sickness to get better we decided to tackle the cabin fever with a quick day trip to Vancouver Canada. 

Cookie choices

We like to explore a place with loose agenda then see where things take us. We started with the idea that we would explore the Chinatown neighborhood as it's one we haven't checked out yet. Once we picked an area Samantha did some quick research and found a starting place. 

Creme brûlée and cookies

Crackle Creme is the sweetest little place for treats. Do you like creme brûlée? They do a variety of small batch flavors. Would you prefer a liege waffle? They have those too! Or hot chocolates, espressos. Or what Samantha was really excited about...these amazing cookies! They had such a variety it was hard to choose. But knowing we would be spending most of our day eating we split a creme brûlée, a waffle and some cookies between us. A perfect, sweet start to the day! 

A variety shop

Then we were off exploring. We walked the blocks around the area and just being tourists. We wandered the stores and spent some time in a tea shop sampling some teas and settling on a few to bring home. We took in the color and sights. And we just appreciated being in a different city for the day. 

Sam and I 
There is something about being in a big city. The energy, the color, the differences. We love just wandering around and taking things in. And of course the food! 

Joe Pizza 

Then you know it was time for a snack again so we thought pizza by the slice would be perfect! We found Joe Pizza and settled in for a quick pizza by the slice break. A slice of margherita and one of parma later and we were good to go for more adventures! 

Community Thrift Frock Shoppe

Then it was off to our other favorite activity...thrifting. We found Community Thrift in nearby Gastown. They have two stores and both were amazing. Sam found the Vintage Frock Shoppe to be right up her alley and came out with a few things. I found the Unisex shop to be more my speed...lots of t-shirts, army shirts, and the like. Both are well curated and fun shopping experiences! 


Then, it was time to eat again! Back again to Chinatown to a place we had spotted earlier, Fat Mao for some noodles. We each ordered a different dish, the passed the plates to share! This little restaurant was so good! Each noodle dish was incredibly different in flavor. And it turns out they are one of three restaurants started by the same chef. Now we have a starting point for another trip! We can't wait to try Freebird Chicken! I'll be sure to tell you all about it when we go! Been on an adventure of your own recently? Battling cabin fever? Tell me how you manage it!