To My Llama Love

Who doesn’t think “llama” when they think of love? These fun V-Day cards are here and ready to help you get in the Valentine’s spirit. This card features a festive llama, with “Happy Va-Llama-tine’s Day” on the front, and “To My Favorite Llama” inside. Folded cards are available in this design, can be purchased individually or as a set of four, and come with complimentary kraft paper envelopes in the Etsy shop; grab ’em while they’re hot! As always, keep up with the latest happenings by following the FB page.

HappyVaLlamaTinesDay.jpg

cards | follow | shop

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Foodie Friday : Bringing Home the Bacon + Bakin’ It

Yes, we’re tackling one of those sacred items in the kitchen : versatile, savory, endless uses. There are myriad ways to cook  this magical item, and just as many ways to use it, but when it comes to bacon I prefer to bake rather than fry. The thing about baking your bacon is :

You’re left with less mess.

It’s so easy to make it crispy, soft, or crispy on the outside with a soft middle.

There’s more control over quantity of grease.

Bakin' Bacon

My method begins with a classic baking sheet, lined with aluminum foil, and dressed with a medium sized puddle of your choice of oil. Strips of bacon are separated from the slab, placed together on the pan, slightly overlapping, and seasoned. Next is the fun part. Typically, I’ll season one side with Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, and then upon flipping halfway through cooking, will season the other side with generous amounts of black pepper, white pepper, garlic, and paprika.

The key to success when cooking bacon this way is to place the baking sheet in a cold oven, turn it on to 375 degrees, and bake till desired doneness. Mine is usually done in 30-45 minutes, with the strips crispy crunchy on the outside and a little soft in the middle. As mentioned above, I’ll flip and add more seasoning halfway through, and maybe even drain some grease to make the strips more crispy. When done the strips are cooled on a plate of paper towels, grease is drained off pan and stored in the freezer, and foil is balled up and tossed. Easy cleanup!

For softer bacon just leave the grease in the pan through baking and cook for less time; crispier bacon can be achieved by draining the grease several times throughout the process, flipping the strips more frequently, and baking longer.

On another note, if you haven’t tried Trader Joe’s bacon ends and pieces then you clearly haven’t lived. Unlike standard strips it’s literally the ends and pieces left over from cutting those perfectly rectangle slabs of bacon. While this isn’t ideal for uses that require a full strip it is super delicious, comprised of hearty chunks, and wonderful for all sorts of cooking, baking, and snacking. Added bonus : sometimes you’ll even get a couple full strips in your package.

bacon | cavender’s | pan

Llamas are for Lovers

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner we’re getting into the spirit with some fun llama cards, which of course set us on a hunt for all things llama to gift with those cards…

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sweater | mug | card

Closet Challenge : Seven Month Review / Thinking about Minimalism and Mindfulness

In my goal of having fewer things you could maybe read between the lines and see something like : spending less on things, not spending/shopping at all, reducing clutter. All of those things might come out of this challenge, but those aren’t the reasons I entered into this, and maybe we’re getting a little off track with that kind of mindset. Something I’d like to focus on in the the coming months is being mindful about my minimalism approach. Looking for ways to make smarter purchases, purchasing for quality over quantity, keeping the things I need and/or use, letting the rest go – this what the challenge should be about. With that in mind I’ve come up with some guidelines to keep myself on track. These are the things I’m comfortable with splurging on :

Good, real food – I like to eat, a lot, and I particularly like unprocessed food made with ingredients I can pronounce, that don’t come with all sorts of added chemicals, pink slime, or unidentifiable stuff.

Learning new things – Last year I signed up for a Metalworking class at a local museum despite having no idea about anything having to do with metalsmithing. What a wonderful experience! The year before I did a certificate on Business Foundations that covered things like financial accounting (yikes!) and stretched the limits of my brain beyond where I thought they could stretch. It was a definite struggle, I hate it at times, and in the end I learned nearly as much about myself as I did about accounting. Under this heading I’d file things like travel, professional development, conferences, networking groups, and philanthropic endeavors.

Services that make my life better – Of course I could probably super glue some shoes back together or stitch up a seam myself but taking these things to a professional serves two purposes for me, getting a job (really) well done and giving myself a break. I like both those things.

Quality, Purposeful “Stuff” – Whether the trusty (cheap) one cup coffee maker I use every day and still runs like a charm, the boots I wear almost daily all winter long, my last car that I drove for more than ten years before it finally bit the dust, it just feels plain good to use something up completely. Fast fashion, wasting food, and planned obsolescence just aren’t for me. I get such satisfaction from knowing my cost per use is a fraction of a penny, and that I’m purchasing things that are made of good quality and served their purpose well.

Giving (Back) – This one can come in many, varied forms. My giving back of choice is by joining philanthropic groups in our area, in particular, Young Friends groups that support local organizations. These groups typically involve planning and executing events that raise capital for the organization, awareness of a cause, and involvement with the community. Under this heading I also lump in gifting to others for any occasion. I enjoy taking the time to select a perfect, thoughtful, quality, and purposeful gift for each recipient. There’s something delightful about finding that exact match.

Finding Joy / Unique Experiences – This one sort of sums up the others; finding joy in the opportunities presented to me and recognizing the uniqueness of a moment. This is easiest to find when traveling somewhere new but can also be present in daily experiences. More than anything it’s mindfulness, being aware of the moments as they happen, and delighting in them when they do.

Great resources :

http://www.simplyfiercely.com/how-i-became-a-minimalist/

http://www.missminimalist.com/

(image of tall trees / idea of freedom from things + freedom to do instead)