Monday, May 22, 2017

Deep Thoughts: Intentional Summer Calendar

Now that the sun has come out here in the Pacific Northwest it seems like the time to think of summer. Once the girls got older we found we had to be really intentional about planning to be sure that things happened! We have certain things that really make it feel like we have had a well lived summer, and if we miss doing them it feels wrong!

A tool that I was introduced to last year was the Intentional Summer Calendar created by my friend Elizabeth Boyle. She held a get together where we discussed our plans and how to make them happen, and then took the calendars home to fill out with our families. This year she is making the calendars available for purchase here and I am glad to have one at hand to get to planning! 

The older our girls have gotten the more we find there is a need for the calendar to make sure these things happen. We are down to only one daughter living at home, and we want to make summer count. It's likely she will be working so it's extra important that we we plan. Sitting down and figuring out what's important to everyone has been a helpful start to the season. 

There are a few activities that we have done most summers since the girls were little. One is  the drive in. Steve grew up in Oak Harbor and has been going to the Blue Fox Drive In since we was little. Being able to to bring our girls to the same place has been so much fun, and a tradition they have continued with their friends. We anticipate at least two trips there this summer! 

Strawberry picking is another very real marker of summer. We hit Boxx Berry Farm as soon as they put out the call that the U-pick is open, then pick until our trays are (and tummies!) are full! We eat as much as we can fresh, then freeze a bunch so that we can have a taste of summer all season long. And if we are feeling extra industrious we make strawberry jam. 

Steve loves going to the Bellingham Bells Baseball Games. We live so close it's easy to attend the games. They are relaxed and fun. And though I'm not as into the game, I do find hanging out eating peanuts and drinking beer on a warm summer night to be a relaxing way to spend a summer evening. Compromise is sometimes a great thing!

Something that we fill in in-between the planned activities is trips to the lake to swim! We head there almost once a week when the weather is nice for an early evening dip to cool off. It's one of the many benefits to living in this area! 

Something that we had to plan for and buy tickets for is the Seattle Art Museum show of Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors. I'm so crazy, excited about this show! We have friends meeting up with us in Seattle and we are all going in together. We are doing this as a family, and I am so looking forward to our day in Seattle. 

Are there any activities you are hoping to take part in this summer? Anything that speaks to summer for you? Let me know in the comments. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Field Trip: Herbivore Botanicals Spring Shopping Event in Seattle

Friends, I am all about trying to move toward natural skincare and makeup. And when you package it in a beautiful, minimalist way even better. And when it's made in Seattle it's an incredible bonus. So, when I found out thru Facebook that Herbivore Botanicals was opening up their showroom for a shopping event I was all in. 

So, on Wednesday I met a friend for lunch in Seattle then after a quick visit to one of my favorite stores, Moorea Seal we headed over to the event. Though you head into a regular looking office building the lovely smell of their products greets you as you hit the floor they are located on!  We were welcomed with a free pin and then into the showroom for some shopping. 

They had a lovely spread of food and treats (Cupcake Royal cupcakes!) but we were truly focused on seeing the space, and of course shopping. The office is a lovely, open area full of natural light and white furniture. This is the type of place I imagined working at when I was in my cube working at a bank! I wish I would have gotten more photos, but lets just say it's a well curated, relaxing spot. We were told that the production happens in a building a couple buildings away and that is smells even more amazing there. I can't even imagine! 

After taking in the space, we got down to shopping! They have beautifully packaged, natural and cruelty free skin care and it's really hard to chose. I've been a fan of the Coconut Milk Bath Soak  for some time and can't think of a more luxe bath. I also have the Sea Mist Texturizing Salt Spray and have been so happy with both I felt ready to try some of the other products I have heard raves about. 

So I decided to try the Phoenix Facial Oil Roller. It's meant to help skin regenerate, and rehydrate which is something I would be more than happy to see happen! It has a beautiful, light fragrance and feels delicious on my skin. It's lovely to have a skin treatment that smells so delightful, will help your skin be it's best, and you know you aren't exposing your body to unnecessary chemicals! 

I also purchased the Pink Clay Exfoliating Mask. I've long been trying to make Sunday night a spa night and felt like this would be the perfect addition. It takes the smallest amount (1/2 - 1 tbsp) mixed with a bit of water to make a mask that will exfoliate and soften your skin. And again, this smells wonderful. Almost a bit like a sweet tea. Along with our purchases they gave us a lovely gift of the Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist which my daughter tried to take right away! A toning, hydrating facial spray that again smells fantastic. I can't wait to put all these products to good use! 

The highlight of the visit had to be our quick chat with the founders of the line, Alex Kummerow and Julia Wills who couldn't be sweeter, more open and so excited about their brand. Alex admitted to being a "plant nerd" and talked of how much they enjoy learning about plants and their properties, and the uses they have. Much of their brain storming takes place in Hawaii where they can un-plug and really think about the next thing. And if they can't get to Hawaii, they said the next place they brainstorm is with Julia in the bath and Alex taking notes! We joked about "bath culture" but I really believe they have created a wonderful addition to what we have available when it come to pure, plant based body products. And after meeting the two of them I am sure I will become even more of a devotee to the brand. Picturing the thought and care that goes into everything they do makes it all mean that much more! 

Interested in trying some yourself? You can find Herbivore Botanicals online here, or if you are local you can find them at Spruce downtown! Let me know what you try! 


Monday, May 8, 2017

Field Trip: Book Larder Croissant Class with Rachael Coyle

I have a co-worker (and friend!) who is a great cook and baker. So much so that it's a benefit at work! When a birthday came up we gave her a gift certificate to Book Larder in Seattle, a cookbook shop (and so much more). They have a huge selection of cookbooks, author talks, and cooking classes. 

When my co-worker Cherie decided on a class I ended up being the lucky one to accompany her to it! The last time I spent any time at the Book Larder was back in September of 2013 for the Trophy Cupcake book tour which you can check out here

To say that I am not an advanced baker would not be an understatement. I would make chocolate chip cookie dough to eat it rather than bake it! But Cherie had faith, and Rachael is a relaxed and calm teacher, making what could be complex and scary a doable thing. Rachael Coyle was at one point the Culinary Director of the Book Larder and now has her own bakery, Coyle's Bakeshop

There is a mysterious alchemy of dough and butter that is involved with a laminated dough. There are many steps to working with the dough, known as the Detrempe and the butter, known as the Beurrage. We were taken thru steps to "lock in" the butter, and work with the dough in turns. 

The class was so well done that we were able to work thru the whole process thanks to Rachael coming prepared with dough at different stages. Getting your hands dirty and really getting a feel for the dough makes a difference for someone like me that needs that for learning. 

And in-between steps? We were able to taste test! After proofing, rolling in chocolate, or gruyere cheese and ham, and applying egg washes we got to eat! I couldn't help but stuff my face with warm, delicious croissants in all forms! 

If you have any inkling at all to try your hand at baking or any other interest in cooking I would get on the e-mail list for Book Larder. They bring a variety of chefs to the store and there is always something interesting going on. It's worth the short drive to Seattle. I know Cherie is now talking about taking a biscuit class. I know next time I am Seattle I plan to visit Coyle's Bakeshop! Is there something that you would like to conquer in the kitchen? 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Get Thrifty: Small Touches with Big Impact

When I was in my 20's I wasn't very thoughtful about my clothing choices. I would purchase things without an idea about how it would work with other items in my closet, or with a purpose. These days I have more specific ideas for my closet that will take some savings (hello Swedish clogs!) but I still want to shop in the meantime for items that will make a difference with items I already own. That's where thrifting comes in!

There are so many small ways you can make a big impact on your wardrobe. One way is with bandanas. We have found them in so many colors and prints, and all about $2. Tied around your neck, wrist, or even on your bag they give a quick pop of color and fun! 

Jewelry is another quick and inexpensive way to add some oomph to your look. These earrings feel really contemporary and thankfully super light. And at $3 I was happy to bring them home! 

The shoe racks are another place I always browse to see if there are any pairs of interest. I have a gorgeous pair of italian made J.Crew flats that I love, and I just found these red Fidji sandals that add a fun pop of color. And a quick note on brands...I find a smart phone handy when I want to check out a brand name. I knew nothing about this one, though when I looked it up I found it's sold at Nordstrom among other stores and appears to be a quality line. There are treasures to be found! (I think these cost $8!)

Another find that my girls and I have found helpful is small zipper bags. Samantha uses one in her backpack where she keeps a bunch of helpful items that she may need throughout a day. 

And we always use the little zipper bags when we are traveling to keep our make up, electronics and other bits of our life together in manageable ways. 

These little finds have given me the little kicks to my wardrobe that I am looking for while I at the same time saving money for the big items that I am hoping to add to it. Having a mix of high and low keeps allow me some freedom while being purposeful at the same time! 

What do you look for when you go thrifting? Do you have any small buys that make big impacts? Please share!