Triple Batch Of Pancakes

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I have found that weekday mornings it is almost impossible to have a good breakfast. Every day it’s the same old routine… I make coffee and guzzle the first mug while I’m getting ready, load up my bag and make a second cup to go. But I need more than just coffee (factor kids into the mix and I’m going to be screwed when that day comes!)… so typically I will have a piece of fruit and some protein in the late afternoon at my desk while I’m working. But, you know what would be better than any of that? Pancakes to kick off the day! If only it weren’t such an ordeal to make a batch of pancakes. Weekday Pancakes 3Weekday Pancakes 1

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What I like to do when I’m whipping up a batch of pancakes at home is triple the batch and add in some blueberries or chocolate chips. After they have been cooked up, I rip off several pieces of parchment paper, wide enough to fit a pancake, and then I layer on the pancakes. I like to put them in sets of three, with the parchment paper in between. The paper is the perfect size to put a pancake on, fold the paper over, add the second pancake, fold again, and place the last pancake. Then you can take your pancake bundle and put it in the freezer.

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Once the pancakes are in the freezer it’s so easy to just grab a bag, put them on a plate and heat them up in the microwave, or pop them right into the toaster oven. They are so good, so easy and they keep you full so much longer in the morning… why not start your weekdays off on a better note? Not to mention if you do have kiddos, this is a serious crowd pleaser with minimal morning effort!

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Designing at Home

As a design professional, one of the largest challenges I face is trying to feel like my home is in a good place all the time. The truth is, your home is a never-ending cycle of projects. From day to day activities like cooking, cleaning, etc., to larger projects and renovations, there is always going to be something to be done.

I work with my clients on this all the time, but it is tricky to actually follow this rule myself. Focusing on one thing at a time, and working with what you have is so much easier said that done, especially when I don’t have a copy of myself to hold my hand and walk me through it. So, do as I say, not as I do!

That said, I have been working on being happier with my space, with what I have and where we are at, without everything being exactly as I hope it will be someday.

I thought it would be good to focus on one room at a time, create a list and tackle it for each space to really get them in a good place. This would focus on the cosmetic only, it’s not a knockdown, drag-out scenario where you are crashing through walls or anything like that, so it keeps things small, dealing only with the finishing touches.

My problem is I don’t know where to start! Maybe I should start small and tackle the completion of our entryway. Hanging those little shoe cubbies was such a great move in that area, but there is more I would like to do… we need to change the light fixture and I would like to add a mirror (or something).

The living room has a few issues too, we have everything we need in there but it’s a matter of fine tuning, finishing the window treatments and getting them up, and the same goes for the bedroom… apparently I have something against actually hanging my curtains.

Lastly the kitchen. We just have storage and organization limitations there, but I think that will entail more planning to get to, so I’m not sure I would start with that. And the bathroom is off limits. Nothing is going to change in there, it is what it is and it’s perfectly fine and functional as is… though I do still need to share the little things I did there to increase the organization and visual appeal.

Anyway, so that’s where my house is currently… and that is what I’m considering to get moving in the right directions with my home? What space would you tackle first and what space do you think I should tackle first in my house?

Just remember, it’s not about everything being 100% finished. Your home is the story of the progression of your life. It should grow and change with you, so even if it is 100% done, there will still be little things that change in your space as time goes on and things happen. That’s a good thing. Let your home be the expression of you and give it the room to evolve with you.

MM :: Confidence vs Experience

“Cook with the confidence of experience, even if you don’t have either.”

Confidence vs Experience

I love this quote, and despite scouring the internet, I couldn’t find out who originally wrote or spoke these powerful words. (If you know, please share!)

I think it is often just easier to say, “I don’t know how” or something of the like, but you can also work your way through a lot of things that you don’t know how to do. I think that is a huge part of life. Don’t get discouraged and say “I can’t,” but rather say “I’ll try.”

You might surprise yourself at all the things you can do.

Greener Landscaping

Not as in the grass is always greener, but as in finding a more sustainable landscaping option for your home.

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First, I want to discuss the benefits of landscaping in general. When you have a nice front yard, it maximizes your curb appeal, it can make your home stand out as one that is better taken care of overall. Good landscape makes for good first impressions on potential home buyers when you’re on the market, which increases your home’s value. It can also increase the way you think about your home, making you feel happier and more content with where you come home to everyday.

That said, why not look into a more sustainable option that requires less upkeep and less maintenance overall so that you can have your beautiful landscaping and have the time to enjoy it too? Help a mother out, Mother Nature that is, and help yourself in the process.

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? So, how do we achieve a greener landscape? It all starts with the planning.

Limit the lawn. It’s okay to have a grassy area, but this grassy area uses a lot of water, mowing (more energy and air pollution) and overall just more maintenance to keep it look nice and fresh. So think about ways to decrease the amount of land your grass is covering. Start with healthy soil. Healthy soil makes for healthier plants. Remember when I mentioned starting to compost yesterday? Composting makes for incredibly healthy soil. Add beds around the perimeter. You can put anything in these beds, make a rock garden, make a garden filled with flowers, veggies, etc., the more beds the better. Look for native plants. Native plants are those that are native to your region, the are more likely to thrive in your area with limited support by you. Avoid invasive species. Invasive plant species will require more care, and they aren’t likely to thrive in your area without a lot of help, so it is best to leave them off the list. Find plants that thrive in your regional and micro-climate. Do you get a lot of shade in your yard? Cater to shade lovers. A lot of sun, look for sun lovers. Group plants according to maintenance needs. If there are plants that require more water, instead of running around the yard with the hose, you can go directly to where the water is needed and reduce the water you are using. Avoid high-maintenance plants. High maintenance is high maintenance, and even if you are an avid gardener and you can keep these high maintenance plants feeling lush and looking good, they are going to require more energy, more resources, more everything, so remember in green landscaping, less maintenance is more. Build in walkways. Adding a pathway of gravel or paver stones, cuts down on lawn coverage while guiding the eye through the space, and guiding guests through the area as well.

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Now that we know what to plan for and what to include or exclude, we want to make sure it looks good. After all, to really reap the benefits of a beautifully and sustainably landscaped property, you want to make sure that it looks as nice as it functions.

Incorporate different heights. Look for native trees, shrubs and tall grasses that are taller and can act as a nice backdrop for the rest of the plantings. You can also look into building or buying taller planters or terracing out areas with native stones or pavers to make a tiered planting area. Look at the texture. From a visual perspective, you want to make sure there is interest in what is there and visual texture is huge in creating something that is overall appealing to the eye. Try to incorporate different tall grasses mixed with different leafy plants, flowering plants, succulents and mosses, to keep the texture interesting. In addition to the texture of the plantings, you can add texture by incorporating boulders, sculptures or other features. The more variety you are able to incorporate, the better. Add Color. You can add color in vegetation and flowers that will bloom at different times, or look into adding something like a copper rain chain or colorful and whimsical garden globes. Incorporate patio areas and decks. Create a space to enjoy your newly landscaped space by incorporating a centrally located patio area where you can make an outdoor dining space and/or a place to just relax. You can consider adding a fire pit or a water feature to pull your chairs up around; make a zone for grilling and entertaining outside so you are ready to host at the drop of a hat. Add designated walkways. This is another textural element, but using gravel, pavers or decking will allow rain water to seep through and eliminate pooling or irrigation issues, while again limiting the amount of grassy space, and you can fill the gaps with moss or ground cover that is pretty, adds a soft element, and feels good on bare feet.

Now that you know what to consider, it’s the perfect time of year to get started! You’ll be ready for summer entertaining in no time, you will have less maintenance to worry about year round, and what’s best, your conscience will be clear knowing that your landscaping is greener. If you live in a state that frequently has droughts, also look into tax-rebate programs that you may be able to benefit from by converting to less or no grass.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. For more green landscaping inspiration, check out my Houzz ideabook, and follow us on Houzz so you don’t miss any updates!

10 Ways To Celebrate Earth Day

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Happy Earth Day! As this day stems from Arbor Day, I know many people try and plant trees or donate to causes that do the dirty work for them. If you are interested in planting a tree, check with your local town or county to see what public places are acceptable to be planting in. The last thing you want is for your goodwill to go to waste when you get in trouble for digging in the wrong places.

Trees have incredible benefits. Most prominently, they filter our air for us, providing us with the fresh air we breathe. They offer shade, some offer fruit, but more than that, they increase our happiness. Trees can increase the value of your neighborhood and some even believe that they reduce crime.

If you are unable to plant a tree today in honor of Mother Nature, there is still plenty you can do today (and everyday) that will have a positive effect.IMG_0514

Here is a list of 10 things you can do, try and check a few off your list this week, and see if there are some that you can squeeze into your day-to-day life as well.

  1. Start a compost bin. It will make great soil for planting in your garden while cutting down on waste.
  2. Shop the farmer’s markets. Keep it local and fresh by stocking up on produce from the local farmer’s market, this can also reduce toxins if they aren’t using pesticides when growing as well.
  3. Stop using produce bags. Yes the basket and cart are dirty, but likely so is the way the produce got to the produce department and you are going to wash it before you eat it anyway. And while you’re at the grocery store…
  4. Spend the money on re-usable shopping bags. Do yourself a favor, and make a habit to always keep two in your car. You can also create a habit of getting the old bags back into your car by putting them on top of your purse once they are unloaded or put them on a hook by the door, or even just looping them over the door-knob. These are some foolproof ways to make sure you always have them. Use them for more than just groceries, use them for clothing, the drug store, etc., there is no limit to where they can go, just more limiting of paper and plastic bags being used.
  5. Switch to cloth hand towels in the bathroom and kitchen. I know some people find this to be a dirtier, more germ-infested way, however, if you consider using one to dry your clean hands on in each room that can be re-used multiple times a day over the course of a few days as opposed to one disposable towel that is used once and tossed. Also for clean dishes, dry them with a fresh kitchen towel, this as well as the hand-towels can be washed and re-used over and over again, and save a lot of paper. There are times when a paper towel still might be preferable, and in that case, or in the case of toilet paper, recycle the inner cardboard tube instead of throwing it away.
  6. Group your errands by location. Throughout the week there are things that need to get done. Try making a list of what you need and grouping things that are located in the same neighborhood on the same day to reduce driving back and forth to all the places everyday.
  7. Go to the car wash. Using a car wash (do your research to find a reputable one in your neighborhood) ensures that the waste water is not running off into the general waterways.
  8. Transition your cleaning supplies over to an eco-friendly variety. There are plenty of green cleaners available at the store, but there are also some you can make using general household items.
  9. Replace your light bulbs. Start the process of keeping CFLs or something more efficient on hand and when your current bulbs burn out, replace them with the more efficient variety.
  10. When you aren’t using something, turn it off and unplug it. Try not to let the auto off settings do the work for you because things will stay on so much longer than necessary. So when you are finished making your coffee for the day, turn off the pot; done fixing your hair, turn off the blow dryer, flat iron, etc., turn them off and put them away; finished watching TV, turn it off. Most small household appliances have an sensor in them to automatically turn them off after a period of inactivity, but it would save so much if we just flipped the switch ourselves when we were done.

There is a list for you of simple tasks and tips that you can start implementing today! What else are you doing to be more ‘green’ or how are you celebrating this Earth day? I’m curious to know what I’m missing out on, so leave your comments on what else can be done.

I hope you are enjoying this series! I have some prettier posts planned for the rest of the week on how you can be more green in your design process to round off this mini-series. If you’ve made it through these wordier posts, I appreciate it, and if you are starting to implement some of the things we’ve been discussing, I know that the earth is thankful too.

Daily Conservation Efforts

There are some basic things that you can do everyday if you aren’t doing them already to help reduce your impact.

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I think by this day and age, we all know about recycling, but it’s a lot more than just paper or plastics. Check with your local town or county to determine exactly what things they will take into their facilities. Every town is different, and some will accept more than you think. You can also recycle things like cans or scrap metals and get paid by the weight of what you bring in.

Try to cut down on the things that you print out everyday to reduce the need to later recycle paper. Regularly remove your name and those in your household from the ‘junk mail’ lists to reduce the amount of paper coming in that is unnecessary waste (check DMAchoice.org). You can also try to re-use the waste-paper that has been printed out of necessity, but now you are done with it by making into scrap paper to jot down notes while on the phone. Re-use old newspaper as gift-wrap (you can add drawings over the top of the newsprint to make it more festive), or if you have a wood burning fireplace, save some of the newspaper to help get the fireplace going in the colder months, and take it with you on camping trips during the summer months.

Lastly, try to reduce the amount of receipts you are getting. A lot of retailers are now offering to email receipts. Set up an account that you use specifically to get coupons and receipts through and that way you can save what you need and filter out the rest without the added paper waste.

Water-Drop

Another major topic of conversation right now, especially out in California, is water conservation. Start with the little things you do daily. One of the easiest things you can do is start a timer on your phone and see just how much time you are taking cleaning yourself up daily. Don’t rush it the first time, take your time and make an effort to shower however you normally would to get an accurate gauge on how much time you are really spending. Do this for about a week to average out your daily shower time and then see if you can cut that down. Every little bit counts. Most states have regulations as to how much water flow a shower head can put out — most are around 2.5 gallons per minute, so you can do the math, if you shave a minute off of your shower time you are saving 2.5 gallons of water that day. You can also look into trading in your standard shower heads for a ‘low flow’ option. These come in several options but are typically around 2 gpm which during a 10 minute shower will save 5 gallons of water. These small amounts add up over time and do have a positive impact on the overall reduction of water usage. most of these shower heads have technology built into them that offer the feeling of just as much water as you are used to as well, without actually using as much.

To give you an idea, if one person swapped out their shower head to a low-flow options and showered for 10 minutes a day everyday, they would conserve an extra 1,825 gallons of water in a year. Now just imagine how much that number would multiply if more people were switching over to these low flow options and reducing the amount of time spent in the shower. Secondarily, you can look for a shower head or hand-shower attachment that offers a pause button that you can use to pause the flow of water while you are lathering up. Another small change that can make a big difference over time.

In addition to the shower, there are plenty of ‘low-flow’ options available these days. Look at the gpm indicated for lavatory faucets and kitchen faucets as well as the gallons per flush (gpf). For toilet gpf, most states require a maximum gpf of 1.6, however the technology is there for 1.28gpf and 1gpf to flush well and work effectively. If you are nervous about cutting the flush rate so drastically, consider a dual flushing system that uses less water most of the time with the option of flushing at a higher rate when necessary. Again, these small changes are easy to implement and add up faster than you might think.

There are a lot of other discussions out there about how to not waste water as much as well, and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on anything you are currently doing or have heard of doing. One that I heard recently was a suggestion to use the ‘warm-up water’ from heating your shower up to do something else in the house that you can do with water straight from the tap, such as boiling it for pasta. You can place a bucket under your tub spout to capture the water while you are waiting for it to heat up before getting in, and then take that water and use it later. It would be great for watering your garden and many other things as well, and it is a lot less sophisticated and less expensive than adding a gray-water usage system to your home.

Consider stocking up on things like good quality travel mugs and glass storage containers for leftovers and beverages so that you can save those paper cups. Get a mug that will work for both hot and cold beverages, and when you forget the mug at home and you still want to make a pit stop for a drink, put your paper or plastic cups into the recycle bin instead of the garbage when you can (Starbucks beverage cups are recyclable). The same goes for water bottles. Growing up in the PNW I didn’t drink a lot of purchased bottles of water, we had reusable water bottles that we filled before we left the house each day and re-filled as needed. Here in New Jersey especially, I’ve noticed there is a high amount of disposable water bottle usage. Take the time to put in a good filtration system into your kitchen or whole home if you feel it is necessary in your area, and invest in some re-usable water bottles.

I’m sure there are a lot more daily things one can do to reduce their foot print on this planet, so what are you doing that I didn’t already mention? Are you implementing any or all of the above? As I mentioned yesterday, don’t beat yourself up if you need to make a big effort to push yourself to better conservation efforts, none of us are perfect, so make an effort, take baby steps, and do what you can do. Every little bit helps!

Motivation for Mother Earth

We’ve made it through another fabulous weekend, the weather is getting better, there are more flowers in bloom and Spring is getting more Spring-like each day. This week holds Earth Day (April 22) and has me thinking.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), and in that neck of the woods there are a lot of ‘hippie’ tenancies, so I may be slightly brainwashed. But(!) I feel like we really don’t think about our impact on the planet near as often as we should. There is a large chunk of time that we are just living our lives and going about our typical day to day without any concern to the effect it may have, or what options we have to reduce this effect.

Earth Week

I thought this quote from the Dalai Lama was particularly insightful. We are quite quick to complain when there are more sever swings in the weather, but we aren’t so quick to act. I thought this week I would spend some time trying to discuss ways that we can do better. I am in no way shape or form perfect — none of us are — there is always more we can do. So let’s talk about it! It certainly can’t hurt, and every little bit can add up to make a difference.

What conscious efforts do you help in favor of bettering our environments and leaving a smaller footprint? I’m curious to hear what everyone is doing. This week I’m going to take a look and make a little list of things we can do that have an impact. I just want to start a discussion, I don’t want to upset anyone, and I’m in no way pointing fingers… I just want to get us thinking. Mother Nature is a huge source of influence for me, and I want that to continue through many generations.

I’ll leave you today with these words from The Lorax by Dr. Suess, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to change-it’s not!”

Champagne Thursday {Pomegranate Fizz}

Thursdays are a good day. You’ve already made it through the bulk of your week and with one more workday ahead of you, you’ll make it to the weekend! So why not break out the bubbly and celebrate? This week, I wanted to share a simple champagne cocktail recipe, that literally includes 2 ingredients… could it get any easier?!

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What you need: Pomegranate Juice (I love Pom because it’s pure fresh pomegranate flavor, but any brand will do in a pinch), and champagne (we pulled a bottle of Chateau St Michelle from our wedding stash, because why not), dust off your favorite flutes and you are all set!Pom Fizz 2

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You can alter the proportions based on how sweet or strong you prefer your fizz, I like a 1/3 : 2/3 ratio of juice : champagne. Pour in the juice first, and then add the bubbly. That’s it–you don’t even have to stir because the bubbles in the champagne will mix it up for you!

Perfect for a girls night and easy enough for a delicious night in with your main squeeze. Whether there is something big to celebrate, or you are just happy you’ve made to Friday’s Eve.

Pom Fizz Clink

Cheers! Happy little Friday!

Work Space Lighting

I am still working on getting my little home office work space fully put together so I can show you the real ‘after’ look from the shelving post a while back. I know some of you commented that you really needed to see the space finished to get the full idea of what I was trying to do there… so it’s coming.

One of the last details I am working on right now is the lighting. The work space is in our bedroom, and currently we only have a hideous single bulb flush mount ceiling fixture in the room. That will eventually change, but for now, I just need some dedicated light shining on my work space for when I am working either early or late and there’s not enough daylight filtering in to balance out the space.

I love lighting, so sometimes it can be hard to nail down exactly which piece is the right fit, but here are the options and some of my thoughts on each:

My primary concern for table lamps is I don’t want something with a heavy base that has large footprint. Since I added the shelves to get things off the surface to give myself more room to work, I don’t want to now limit the work surface by filling it in with a heavy-bottomed lamp. That said, I love the textured white look (though even the thought of dusting those little hexagons… no thank you) and any combination of white and gold is just so pretty, not to mention the soft handmade quality of the brushstroke lamp. (Gold Brushstroke Lamp by Jana Bek/BEK Design || White Honeycomb Table Lamp from World Market)

An alternate option would be to add sconces, I might have a mild obsession with sconces. They have no footprint and take up zero space so they are so useful. Alternately, you either need to hard-wire them or leave a cord exposed and hanging down the wall, and you have to anchor them into the wall as well…which ends up being more of a permanent detail or feature in your home, so if you will be there for a while, no big deal, but as this is our starter condo and it’s tiny and we likely won’t be there for too long and thus, I don’t know if this is the best option. That said, we have several nail holes and things that we will need to patch and repair when the time comes to ready the space for resale anyway so it certainly wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world and I could camouflage an exposed cord. I’ve also been trying to find a good way to incorporate sconces somewhere in our home basically since we moved in, so I don’t think I’ll nix these just yet. The industrial style piece is right up my ally I love it’s simple details and the glass shade and P was immediately drawn to the simplicity of the sleek white sconce. (Menlo Park Industrial Style Sconce found on One Kings Lane || Jax White and Wood Sconce from Crate & Barrel)

Lastly, there are floor lamps. They won’t take up any surface space on the desk, but I do have to be aware of how much physical space they take up in the room. They can be a great addition, help layer in the right amount of light for the space and even act as a focal point. The first option shown is just that-a statement piece-and it is glorious! I’m crushing on it hard, but at the end of the day, it might just be too much of a focal point for this area and end up pulling away from everything else that is going on here… plus I may not ever get any work done because I think I’d just be sitting here swooning over it all day. The second one is understated and simple while still being very visually appealing. I think the base is small enough that it could sit alongside the desk (or even slide partially beneath it) without taking up too much space, and I love that it brings in a touch of the gold tones, without being overkill. The black top mutes it down just enough to add an industrial edge to the glam gold base so the style is on point, but we have to consider the proportions and make sure the scale is a good fit for the space as well. (Studio Tripod Floor Lamp by West Elm || Black and Gold Crane Floor Lamp by CB2)

What do you think and which would you choose? I think I know which way I’m leaning, but I always love your input! Hopefully I can make a decision and get something ordered in the next few days so I can finish the work space and share the full reveal!

Motivation Monday {Spring Planning}

Spring is the season for planning and projects. I love this and find it to be spot on. Yesterday was the first day that really felt like spring is truly here!

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It’s time to start spring cleaning and planning our next projects around the house, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s also the perfect time to start planning get-togethers with friends. This season is prime for entertaining: it’s not such perfect weather that you want to be outside all day, and it isn’t so cold out that you just want to curl into a ball and snuggle.

So, what spring fetes are you planning?

We had a decent weekend, but for now, I am ready to tackle my to-do list and get working on the exciting projects that are underway over here. How was your weekend? Are you ready to tackle this week and all your plans and projects for this week??

Happy Monday!