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A Winter Walk Along the Palos Verdes Cliffs

Enjoying a nice day of California Winter!
We parked at Terranea Resort and went off their path to the public trail along the cliffs, a breathtaking day.

terranea-december

Rainy Night House by Joni Mitchell


Ladies of the Canyon was my first introduction to Joni Mitchell. This is one of my favorites on the album; I used to sit on the living room floor as a kid and listen to my parents albums for hours.

Catalog Choice Top 10 Tips for Holiday Waste Reduction

I received the below email this morning from Catalog Choice. I thought I’d share their holiday waste reduction tips and let more people know about how awesome they are. They are a free service that will help remove you from unwanted mailing lists like catalogs and other spam advertising. Over about a year I was able to stop getting almost all “snail” junk-mail. Their site saves your address and name permutations to make it easier for you. You can check up on the status of whether or not they were successful in contacting the companies or not. Please check them out! Catalog Choice
Catalog Choice
 

Catalog Choice Top 10 Tips for Holiday Waste Reduction
 
1. Reuse foam peanuts. Most packaging materials for shipping can be used more than once.

2. Compost your leftover food. It’s easy and makes for a great fertilizer!

3. Wrap creatively. Use comics, old maps, sheet music, fabric/wallpaper scraps. And use fun tins and food boxes you crush and recycle for gift containers.

4. Make festive recycling bins. They’re a great addition for your holiday party and a great activity for kids.

5. Give the gift of time or talent. Take someone to a play, concert or movie. Make your own gift certificates. Offer your talents like photography or financial planning.

6. Help your friends go green. Give planet-conscious gifts like compost bins, can crushers, water timers, programmable thermostats, rain barrels, bird feeders, light timers or bat house.

7. Buy outdoor light strands that are wired in parallel. If one bulb goes bad, the others still work, so you won’t be throwing away entire “bad” strands.

8. Keep it simple. One thoughtful gift is better than six wrapped packages of unwanted gifts.

9. Don’t wrap oversized gifts. Hide them and give clues. Make gift-giving into a treasure hunt.

10. Plan previously-loved or homemade gift exchanges. Books, a restored piece of furniture or a rebuilt bike can be cherished for many years and by many people.

Some tips are very do-able. As far as our household goes, we are doing great on creative wrapping. I don’t own any wrapping paper rolls. I have one roll of recycled brown craft paper, but most of the time I wrap gifts in reused bags I’ve received, fabric scraps, old scarves, paper bags or some other reused paper. Be creative! It’s fun and beautiful to add a piece of vintage ribbon or a fresh flower.

Fashion Inspiration: Navy Blue Poppy Dress

A little ensemble built around this simple dress with 5 poppies.

1. Poppies Blooming Dress by Synergy from shop ruche

2. Nail Polish Call Me Gwen-ever from opi

3. Vintage Glass Bracelets from etsy

4. Stone Y Necklace – Semi-Precious Coral Colored Stone Costume Jewelry/ Apricot from etsy

5. Vintage 1940s green leather peep toe from etsy

6. Honey Brown Luscious Leather Purse/Clutch from etsy

Refrigerate Tap Water in Glass Bottles

We drink tap water, but I like it cold. So we store and refrigerate it in these glass bottles. It tastes great stored in glass and looks nice for serving. The bottles were only $3.99 from ikea.

Glass Bottles from Ikea
Yesterday I was feeling overwhelmingly grateful for living in a place that has safe drinking water from the tap.

Cabin Clean Up in Running Springs

We spent a nice but allergy filled one night at our remodeled cabin this thanksgiving weekend. I enjoyed the sunrise from our living room, by the fire with my hot chocolate in an awesome 70’s mug, while my dad played with my son on the rug. I found 3 of this type of mug, so awesome!
 

 
We were there to clean up after the remodel. There is construction dust and rat poop everywhere and it was an allergy nightmare, but the beauty of the area makes up for it.
 

We have a family of deer who live around the house that we admired; such an amazing respite so close to Los Angeles.

Easy Pumpkin Pie from the Can

One of our neighbors is very meticulous about her yard. She offered to rake our leaves, seeing as we weren’t doing it with my husband working and me with the baby full time. They were really piling up. I told her, “no, no my husband will get to it”, but she insisted. (I know it drives her crazy). I offered to bake her cookies as a thank you/payment.
 
When I was leaving the next morning, she was sweeping away; she stopped me and asked if there was a good place to get a pumpkin pie nearby, and told me how much she and her husband love a flavorful pumpkin pie; I said that I didn’t know of one, but I took the hint and now I am baking a pumpkin pie.

 
I thought this would finally be the time I try making my own crust…but I checked the cupboard and I only had bread flour and salted butter…getting discouraged I went to Trader Joe’s and bought the frozen pie crust. (I know I could’ve just bought the right ingredients for dough, but just thinking about it made me tired). So anyway, I wanted to find some tips on how to spruce up the pre-made dough and I found this blog post
 

I will only be using 1 single pie crust, so I cut it down a bit and used 3 graham crackers and a heaping tablespoon of sugar, with some added cinnamon.
I followed the pumpkin puree can recipe.
Midway into mixing the filling, I noticed that it called for a deep dish pie tin, which I don’t have, so I had used a 9” cake pan.
 
After it was thawed and I tried to unroll it, the very inner portion was cracking apart, so I managed to mush it back together on top of the graham cracker crumbs. But it started to fall apart when I was transferring it to the pan. I ended up folding it in fours and re assembling it inside the pan.
When I got it pieced together and sprinkled with more crumbs, I brushed it with butter.

I baked at 375 for 20 min (directions say 20 min at 450) but my oven sucks (i set it to 500). I checked and the crust was browning nicely so I figured it was time to turn it down.
Then continue for another 40-50 min at 350.

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Recipe

It’s finally soup weather here in California!

This amazing vegetarian split pea soup comes from 101cookbooks.com. The smoked paprika gives it a depth and smokiness that usually is achieved by using ham to flavor split pea soup. It’s wonderful!
 
http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/vegetarian-split-pea-soup-recipe.html
 
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 cups dried split green peas, picked over and rinsed
5 cups water (or broth)
juice of 1/2 lemon (reserve the zest for topping)
a few pinches of smoked paprika
more olive oil to drizzle

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions and salt; cook until the onions soften, just a minute or two. Add the split peas and water and/or broth; it’s nice to use half and half. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the peas are cooked through (but still al dente). Using a large cup ladle half of the soup into a bowl and set aside. Using a hand blender (or regular blender) puree the soup that is still remaining in the pot. Stir the reserved soup back into the puree. Stir in the lemon juice and taste. If the soup needs more salt, add more a bit at a time until the flavor of the soup really pops. (This will also depend on what broth you’ve used).
Ladle into bowls and serve each drizzled with olive oil and topped with smoked paprika and a touch of lemon zest.

The Beautiful Carmel by the Sea

We were treated to a great vacation this week by my in-laws. We had a wonderful time of shopping and eating! And some baby breaks too.
 
Amazing Hot Chocolate from Pastries and Petals.
We love everything they bake there. Some of the things we ate included a Brie and Apricot Panini, Ham, Spinach and Tomato Quiche, Raspberry Scones, Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwich with Chocolate Fudge filling…the list goes on.

 
My husband carrying Oliver; we got good use out of his yoda hat in the cold, windy weather.

One of the many cute cottages; every fence and gate is different.

Bathing Oliver in the sink; he loves his bath time.

A Resting Buddha Sculpture in the Secret Garden. One of our favorite places to browse; just as good for spending an afternoon is the Pilgrim’s Way Bookstore connected in front of the Secret Garden.

The Drive Home to Socal: A smoky sunset with a plume over the ocean

Our 3 Year Wedding Anniversary

Three years ago I married my best friend, my high school sweetheart, my life partner. Now we have a wonderful little family with not just cats, but a human son! I love you honey.


A few of my favorite images from our wedding day. A special thanks to Jonathan Young for photographing our wedding.

The wedding ceremony and reception took place at Hartley Botanica in Somis, California.

If you would like to see our photographer’s original blog post it can be found here