aspen & pine

a journey in creativity and mindful living

Month: October, 2014

link love


This past week we dog-sat for my sister’s dog, Molly. Now she has gone home and it feels lonely around here without her sitting at my feet, or accompanying me on a walk. However, I am trying to appreciate this day for it’s quiet, subdued nature. It’s overcast here, which can sometimes make me feel more tired or sad than usual. Today, I am choosing to focus on the beauty of rainy days. They are quieter, creating an environment of reflection and peace. The sound of the rain is gentle on the roof, and it is extra cozy to be indoors at my computer or cleaning the house. When you are feeling down, I encourage you to focus on what is beautiful in your day. It really makes a difference!

This week I loved:

I was trying to figure out how to put Jordan’s (my husband) hair in a bun and found inspiration here.

This article about the benefits of coloring for adults gives me the excuse I need to finish coloring that jungle poster I never finished.

Simple moments to a simpler life by Courtney Carver

5 simple tricks and tools for living intentionally on the honest blog.

8 things to let go of now by Courtney Carver. I am hoping to work on getting rid of  clutter when wedding season ends!

I used to have a pen pal when I was younger, I think it would be a fun thing to do again. Here are 25 things to write to a pen pal and some places you can find a pen pal here and here.



link love

lunar eclipse

photo by Jordan Baker

What a lovely (and a bit crazy) week! We woke up at 5:15 to view the lunar eclipse on Wednesday, and it was amazing. My sister and I were texting back and forth about it, and she ended up driving over to get a better view of it with us which was fun! My husband and I shot a wedding on Friday in Washington D.C. then traveled to Pennsylvania for a wedding on Saturday. We were so thankful for Jordan’s parent’s help with driving. We also took the opportunity to go on a little excursion to lake Erie on Sunday. I had never been before and it was so beautiful! We drove around Presque Isle State Park, stopped and walked down the beach picking up rocks and sitting on driftwood. It wasn’t crowded at all, and the leaves were starting to change color too. We also celebrated my Grandma’s birthday earlier in the week with a delicious meal of chicken and steak fajitas, beans, spanish rice, and cheesecake!

This week I loved:

Reading that Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize

Watching Tiny House Nation, now that’s a show I could get addicted too!

This is such a cute cottage, I especially like the cat.

ello looks like an awesome new social media platform, without all the advertising.



salsa verde

salsa verde | home canning

Jordan discovered salsa verde on one of our road trips, but it is $3-4 for a tiny little bottle. So my Mom, along with the habaneros, also grew tomatillos so we could try making our own! I made my salsa verde on the hot side, if you want to reduce the heat, omit or decrease the number of habaneros.

canning salsa verde


Makes: 6 pints or 12 1/2 pints

5 lbs tomatillos, husked, washed, and cored
1 onion, peeled and quartered
4-6 habanero peppers
4 jalapeno peppers
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 bunch cilantro, washed
1/2 cup lime juice
1 Tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper

Slice cored tomatillos in half or quarters and blend in a blender until smooth. Pour into a large saucepan. Blend the onion and garlic with a little of the lime juice and add to pan. Next blend the peppers, cilantro (remove roots), and remaining lime juice together. Be careful when adding this mix to the pan as you don’t want to breath in the hot pepper fumes. I kept the lid on the pan after adding the peppers to help keep them contained (remove the lid before cooking). Now add your salt, pepper, and cumin. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Process 15 minutes in a water bath.

salsa verde with habaneros | home canning


link love

photo by Jordan Baker

photo by Jordan Baker

Today I picked some granny smith apples from my Grandma’s apple tree and froze them for pies. I used this method, but omitted the flour in case I want to make anything gluten free for Thanksgiving!

This week I loved:

Writing encouragement on Rowdy Kittens

Journaling to success on Seaweed Kisses

How hiking is great for your health

5 simple ways to give with love and redefining abundance by Courtney Carver

hot salsa

salsa | home canning

My husband loves hot stuff, and I mean really hot stuff. He’s eaten ghost peppers, which used to be the hottest pepper in the world until the Carolina Reaper came a long. They have such lovely names don’t they? I am not about to touch either of those peppers, which can burn their way through the pickers gloves. No thank you, I think I’ll stick to working with the lowly habanero (whose juice still got under my fingernail and burned all day long when I made my salsa verde).

This year my mom grew some habanero’s for him, and suffice it to say that they really grew. We have so many habaneros I don’t know what to do with them all. One of the plants even bent and broke off from the load! Since I am not a fan of spicy things, I haven’t been very good at keeping Jordan stocked up in things like hot sauce and salsa. I am definitely making up for that now with the multitudes of jars of salsa filling up our pantry. I made this salsa with my mom for the first time, and it turned out great!

Hot Salsa

10 cups tomatoes, chopped (about 6 lb. whole)
5 cups onion, chopped
5 cups green peppers, chopped and seeded
2 1/2 cups hot peppers (I used a mix of jalapenos and habaneros), chopped
1 1/4 cups cider vinegar
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp cilantro, minced
1 Tbsp kosher salt

Place whole tomatoes into a large pot of water and boil 2 minutes to release skins. Place boiled tomatoes in cold water, the peels should come off easily now. Peel, core, and chop tomatoes. We chopped the peppers and onion in a food processor to make things a little quicker, this gives a finer textured salsa. If you want chunky salsa you might want to chop by hand. Mix all ingredients together in a pan and simmer 10 minutes (or more if you want thicker salsa). Ladle into jars, wipe jar rims, and screw on lids. A helpful guide to water bath canning can be found here on the Ball website. Process jars 15 minutes.

habanero salsa | home canning