Wearing an insulated snowsuit and fleece-lined beanie
Parenthood

How to Dress Adventure Babies for Cold Winter Weather

In her first year of life, Gemma camped in the snow, hiked the Cascades, explored the Colorado Plateau, and visited a variety of terrain from sea level to 12,000 feet above. Through it all, she remained a happy, healthy baby and simply adores being outside, rain or shine.

What’s your secret to bringing a baby outdoors? other parents want to know. And while they think my answer will be one of the many pieces of gear we’ve acquired since becoming parents ourselves (we definitely don’t travel lightly!), I always tell them it comes down to one thing: layers.

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The greatest hits of 2017 and what's to come
News & Events

The Greatest Hits of 2017 and What’s to Come

Starting the New Year always means taking a look back on the blog, finding out what worked, why it worked, then making changes and setting goals based on those findings. As a blogger, I want to learn what you like to read and share. I want you to relate, linger, like, comment, engage, come back to, and feel inspired by my content. If you did any or all of these things in the last year, then I consider that post to be a success.

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Cranberry moscow mules, sugared cranberries, and holiday nuts
Everyday Eats & Sweets, Recipes, Sips & Syrups

Cranberry Moscow Mules, Sugared Cranberries, and Holiday Nuts

This post is sponsored by Minted. All words and thoughts are my own.

Christmas and cocktails go hand in hand for my family and me, and it’s always a time of festive drinks and finger foods in between the reunions, the traditional meals, and the present opening.

We like to start the day with mimosas and gin fizzes, move on to a second round of gin fizzes after brunch, and preface dinner with a creative cocktail or two. If it weren’t for my brother-in-law, a mixology aficionado, I probably wouldn’t stray too far from tried-and-true favorites in the drinks department… Because honestly, every time I source the web for Christmas cocktails that feel special, they all seem a little too fancy for my liking.

I always land on recipes that call for exotic liqueurs or time-consuming infusions, all of which I’d maybe use once and never again. For me, the ideal holiday cocktail involves hard liquor we already stock, seasonal fresh fruit, and a little fizz. That’s why I love these cranberry moscow mules! They’re simple enough to make but still look — and taste — like you put some effort into it.

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Hawaiian macaroni salad with pickled beets
Everyday Eats & Sweets, Recipes

Hawaiian-Style Macaroni Salad with Pickled Beets

This post is in partnership with Newell Brands, makers of Ball® Fresh Preserving Products. All thoughts and words are my own.

Over the summer, I was invited to the headquarters of Newell Brands, makers of Ball® Fresh Preserving Products, to learn the history of the iconic jars and to tour the test kitchen, where a team rigorously develops and tests hundreds of canning and preserving recipes for the brand’s site and books.

Part of my role as a Fresh Preserving ambassador is to share the joys of home canning and teach essential preserving skills, and you may have watched the Facebook Live episode that I filmed a few months ago where we made bread-and-butter pickled beets.

But on top of canning techniques, one of my most-asked questions is… How do I use this stuff?!

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Make your own insecticidal soap for natural pest control
Garden of Eatin', Pests & Diseases

Make Your Own Insecticidal Soap for Natural Pest Control

I recently moved a number of outdoor plants inside my house for the winter, and all have been doing well for the last few weeks until this week… when I found a colony of tiny pests on the windowsill, on the rim of the pot, and on the stalk of my banana plant.

I had hosed it down, inspected the leaves, and put it in fresh potting soil to prep for overwintering it, but even in the absence of pests to the naked eye, hitchhikers are always a possibility. They lay eggs on the undersides of leaves or hide in the garden soil that was still clinging to the roots.

The aphids seemed to appear overnight, and I needed to get them under control quickly yet naturally — a high concern since the plants were overwintering in our bedrooms. (Those little white specks are nymphs, or young aphids.)

Luckily, when it comes to fast and easy (and cheap!) pest control, organic gardeners know that it takes just two ingredients to make a safe and effective pest spray: liquid soap and water.

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Starting our Oregon Christmas tree tradition
Garden of Eatin', Trees & Shrubs

Starting Our Oregon Christmas Tree Tradition

In years past, my husband and I always kicked off the Christmas season with a visit to a Southern California tree farm. Out in the suburbs of Orange County, we wandered past row after row of perfectly pruned pines in 75°F weather while palm trees swayed in the balmy breeze above our heads.

I liked to think it was just as much a novelty for him as it was for me. He grew up going to “real” tree farms in rural Northern California, and my family did what most families did — stop by one of the many Christmas tree lots that popped up in front of supermarkets after Thanksgiving.

We’d once considered doing the same — before we had a toddler in the mix and whimsical memory-making wasn’t as much of a focus — but I love any excuse for an adventure (even if it’s an urban adventure) and Will’s DIY spirit never turns down an opportunity to wield a saw, so the U-cut Christmas tree farm became a fun tradition for us.

After moving to Bend, I wanted to continue that tradition so our daughter would have something festive and outdoorsy to look forward to every year. I Googled “Central Oregon Christmas trees” with the hope of finding a list of tree farms near our house, but instead found out about the US Forest Service permits that blew my city-girl mind away.

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DIY mason jar koozie (plus a recipe for vanilla and bourbon mulled cider)
Recipes, Sips & Syrups

DIY Mason Jar Koozie (Plus a Recipe for Vanilla and Bourbon Mulled Cider!)

This post is in partnership with Newell Brands, makers of Ball® Fresh Preserving Products. All thoughts and words are my own.

Being a Fresh Preserving ambassador means I have quite the collection of Ball® Canning Jars in my kitchen (and my pantry, and my garage, and my laundry room)…. so much, in fact, that many of them are used for purposes other than canning and preserving.

If you open the kitchen cabinets, you’ll see plenty of jars alongside our highballs and mugs as I love using them as drink glasses. The pint jars are perfect for water (we sometimes even freeze them for frosty pints of beer) while quarts full of iced tea are a staple in the summer.

Mason jars are great for warm drinks, too, if you gravitate more toward the likes of coffee and tea. (I should add a disclaimer here that Newell Brands doesn’t recommend putting piping hot beverages in their Ball® Canning Jars, so wait for yours to cool off a bit before serving. You can also lessen the chances of thermal shock by swirling some hot tap water in your jars to warm them up first.) To buffer hands from the heat, I have a few sets of woolly koozies that wrap around my jars — just like those paper sleeves you find at coffeeshops, only the koozies are reusable and much, much cuter.

What seals the deal even more is how easy they are to DIY. No knitting or crocheting experience necessary, not even a sewing machine… all you need are wool socks, scissors, and needle and thread. (You’ll find the full tutorial below!)

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Simple spice drawer organization
House & Home

Simple Spice Drawer Organization

My previous kitchen was small, so small that it necessitated the use of vertical space to store my collection of jars (on a shelf suspended above the counter) and spices (on a magnetic board screwed to the side of a cabinet).

I’m in a slightly bigger kitchen now, but have the opposite problem: plenty of drawers and cabinets, but no vertical storage. For someone who keeps over 80 varieties of herbs and spices on hand, it’s an organizational challenge. But I finally came up with a neat, beautiful, and practical system for labeling, storing, and sorting all my containers, and it’s such an easy project that I had to share. (Plus, I’m an organizational geek to the highest degree and surely there must be others like me?!)

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