Grilled Pears

I love grilling during the summer months! I mostly stick to meats and vegetables, but I have recently rediscovered the deliciousness of grilled fruit. Besides, after grilling your main course, how easy is it to pop some dessert on the grill while it’s all fired up?

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Ingredients:

  • pears- halved, cored, and then rubbed with oil. I’ve used both Bosc and Anjou. You could easily eat the skin with the Bosc; the Anjou were juicier but the skin was tough.
  • toasted pecans
  • cinnamon honey (2 Tbs honey mixed with 1 Tbs cinnamon)
  • ice cream (I used vanilla)

Directions:

  • Grill the pears flesh side down until warmed through and grill marks appear. Depending on your heat, it might take 5-10 minutes. You can also spin the pears to make a crosshatch grill pattern half-way through.
  • Let the pears cool slightly and then top with ice cream, pecans, and cinnamon honey.

Enjoy!

 

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Wildflower Walk

Barney knew the woods as a book and he taught their lore and craft to Valancy. Valancy learned the different fairy-likenesses of the mosses–the charm and exquisiteness of woodland blossoms. She learned to know every bird at sight and mimic its call–though never as perfectly as Barney.   -L. M. Montgomery

It was a lovely walk. I focused on the abundant springtime wildflowers, eagerly scanning every hollow, ravine, and tucked away spot on the forest trail. His gaze was upward, his ear listening intently to the trilling of the birds. As a result, we both came away richer in the sharing of each other’s hunt.

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Spring Beauty: it grows from an underground tuber similar to a small potato.

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Marsh Marigold: Latin family name is Ranunculacae, which means it is found where frogs live.

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Large Flowered Trillium: showy flowers easily identified by their 3 large leaves and white petals.

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Wild Geranium: If you look closely at the leaves and flowering stems, you will find them covered with white hairs.

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Jack-in-the-pulpit: if you look under the “hood” of the flower, you can find the “jack” inside.

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Jack-in-the-pulpit: Look for a 3-parted leaf on the end of a single long stem. Under the leaf, you might find this unusual flower.

 

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Great Horned Owlet poking his head out, looking for his mama that was several trees away.

 

 

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fluffy gosling and protective parent

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in front of a wild crabapple tree in bloom

 

I would highly recommend some local authors if you’re a novice who’s interested in identifying wildflowers in western Michigan. The book is called “Spring Wildflower Scavenger Hunt” by Barb Beck and Judy Bergman. By choosing a local book, the information and tips are very relevant.

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Bathroom Refresh

Believe it or not, in the 8 years we’ve lived in our house, I haven’t done a thing to our bathroom (besides cleaning it). I haven’t painted it, the flooring has stayed the same, and we’ve used the three existing cabinets and towel bar set. The bathroom was perfectly acceptable when we moved in, and so it remained a low priority on the to-do list.

But recently I’ve been getting the urge to freshen it up. The problem was that we’re planning on doing a bigger renovation in a year or two which would involve this bathroom, and so there was no point in spending too much time or money on something that would eventually be changing. And so I had to prioritize.

What I would keep (even though they weren’t my favorite):

  • the flooring- peel and stick vinyl that is starting to pull apart
  • the bathroom vanity- lots of room for storage
  • the mirror/medicine cabinet- also good for storage
  • shower curtain rod- straight (I eventually want a curved one)
  • towel bar set- white and chrome

What I would change (and wouldn’t cost too much money):

  • paint the ceiling white
  • paint the walls cream
  • move the towel bar set to better locations
  • get a smaller hamper
  • remove the one wall cabinet and replace it with an open shelf from IKEA
  • paint the bathroom vanity and replace the knobs to match the chrome
  • replace the shower curtain rings to match the chrome

Here is the before:

 

A warm beige not only covered the walls, but also the ceiling. I painted the ceiling white, and I decided to stay neutral on the walls, painting them a lighter and cooler shade of cream called Pebble Rock.

Here’s a contrast of the old warm beige and the new cream:

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The new cream is the color along the edge of the ceiling and corner.

 

I wanted to add a pop of color on the vanity. The vanity cabinet was white, and although it looked fresh, the cream faux marble top looked dingy against it.

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I wanted to paint the base a color that would make the faux marble stand out and look more intentional. Seeing that I’m not afraid of color, I went for a bold, jewel-toned greenish blue:

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Which looked terrible! I tried to convince myself that it was okay, but it wasn’t. And so I made another paint run, this time getting the color right: a muted grayish blue:

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Here is the final before and after to my small bathroom “refresh.”

 

 

Changes: hand towel on the left wall, toilet paper holder on the cabinet, vanity painted with new chrome knobs, a shelf instead of the wall cabinet.

 

Change: I hung the plant in the actual window frame.

 

Change: I took the top towel ring and put it by the vanity.

 

Change: smaller hamper and new chrome shower curtain rings (instead of yellowing plastic ones)

 

And some final close-ups:

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We got these shells and sea glass from all over the world: New Zealand, North Carolina, PEI, and New Jersey

 

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my air plant that I’m surprisingly keeping alive, and a shell night-light my sister made

 

 

 

 

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Tulips

The tulips have been gorgeous this year! We noticed the deer nibbling on them when they just started coming up, and so we consistently sprayed them and they actually made it!

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The crab apple tree is also about to fully bloom:

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And the hyacinths have been perfuming our walkway for over a week now….

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Sigh…..I just love Spring!

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Mortar and Pestle

I’m trying to curb my love for kitchen gadgets. But something that’s been used for thousands of years can’t be considered a kitchen gadget, right? It’s primitive, historic, and a totally essential tool (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

Enter the humble mortar and pestle. Except the one that I have is not humble: it’s a giant granite one. It works great, and I love it! I’ve used it for making guacamole and grinding pepper and spices. This summer, I’m hoping to make pesto.

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Do you own this essential kitchen tool? What do you use it for?

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Mango Mint Salsa

Cooks Illustrated (or America’s Test Kitchen) puts out my favorite recipes. Their Mango Mint Salsa is no exception.

Their recipe calls for serving it alongside salmon, but I decided to pair it with walleye, seeing that we received a bunch of it for free from one of Josh’s customers.

The following day, I used the leftover mango mint salsa on a BBQ pulled-chicken sandwich. It was surprisingly good!

 

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Ingredients for the salsa: get ready to do some chopping!

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The assembled salsa, ready to be devoured

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Walleye: I salted and peppered the fillets, coated them with flour, and then pan-fried them.

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Roasted potatoes with a walleye fillet smothered in mango mint salsa

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BBQ pulled-chicken sandwich topped with mango mint salsa

 

 

Mango Mint Salsa

Combine:

  • 1 diced mango
  • 1 minced jalapeno without seeds
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 3 Tbs lime juice (I used 2 limes)
  • 2 Tbs chopped mint
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

It can be served right away, and it was still in fine shape the following day.

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Bullet Journal

Ever struggle with having a ton of different lists (each focusing on different categories of your life) scattered over your desktop, phone, desk drawers, nightstand, etc? Enter the bullet journal.

I have found that it:

  • puts all my lists and ideas in one place
  • provides a physical copy of things (because I’m that type of person)
  • gives me the satisfaction of checking off items as they are completed
  • keeps my information easily accessible, especially for future reference
  • is not limiting in how much space I use for different lists, plans, etc
  • doesn’t force me to keep up with it daily or weekly…I just use it as I need it

Although a bullet journal can be used in many different ways (some people use it as a planner), here is how I’m making it work for me.

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I chose a basic black spiral-bound art book that didn’t have lines in it because I wanted the flexibility of being able to sketch ideas. I drew in my own lines wherever I wanted them.

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On the first three pages I made a table of contents. I can add to the contents at any time as needed. Right now I have fourteen lists going. Some more pages that may be added this Spring/Summer are:

  • vegetable garden plans
  • directions of how I process various produce (I seem to forget from year to year what I exactly did the previous year)
  • perhaps an exercise log if I’m feeling ambitious  😉
  • wardrobe basics/essentials I’m looking for
  • Bible reading plan
  • deep cleaning list
  • recipes for natural/homemade products

What’s great about the bullet journal is that if you use up a whole page for a list/idea, you can just start on a new page, even if it’s actually quite a few pages later. There’s even a bullet journal system of how to thread your pages together.

Here’s a closer look at some of my pages:

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On my mom’s last visit, I purchased a skirt pattern that I’m hoping to sew. I didn’t know how to sew button holes, so my mom figured it out on my machine, and I completed a few practice ones. But I knew that I’d forget the settings, and so I created a “Sewing Tips” page and wrote the information down in my bullet journal.

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I don’t get to go to IKEA very often, so I have a running list of things I’d like to look into or purchase when I get there again.

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A lofty list of goals for 2018. I actually see a box or two that I can already check off, which feels great!  😀

I’ve been using the journal for about four months now. Because the bullet journal is so customizable and can be used on a as-needed basis, I think that it’ll work long-term for me.  Let me know if you have any questions, because I’d be happy to answer them!

 

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