aspen & pine

a journey in creativity and mindful living

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minimalist journal

I found a three pack of these for a dollar at the dollar store. They are much cheaper than moleskins, but still cute! I am using one to help me work through what stuff I want to keep in my life, and what to edit out. I am having trouble getting rid of things, but really want a clutter free and clean looking environment in our home. To start I am answering some questions from Into Mind’s blog, which the links to are listed below. This way I can really focus on what Jordan and my’s needs and priorities are. For example since we have our own photography business, we have some extra items I need to make space for (like camera and video equipment).

This week I loved:

When being “frugal” actually costs more, some advice that fits into a minimalist lifestyle.

Minimalism: a beginners guide and how to start living a simpler, more intentional life in 9 easy steps from into mind.

I have to admit that I am a terrible tea horder! Here’s a tip from the kitchn to keep that stash in check.

 

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tree

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.

 

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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

SALSA VERDE

Makes: 6 pints or 12 1/2 pints

          Ingredients:        
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

Enjoy!

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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

 Enjoy!

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beach-treasures

Sorry for the silence on here, I just haven’t gotten around to posting much since we got back from our road trip at the end of August. We explored and discovered so many places! The image above are some natural treasures I picked up on Washington’s beaches, one of my favorite places.

this week I loved:

Simplifying your kitchen for the tiny house, or in my opinion, any house!

When simple feels complicated on The Art of Simple.

How to create a life with room for what matters most on More with Less.

Another post by Courtney Carver, including a smoothie recipe, and why we should do things we don’t want to.

A pretty hair tutorial.

I absolutely love the white interior of this small house!

Facts about palm oil and rainforests is something we all need to read up on! Some images of Borneo’s vanishing rainforest on National Geographic.

tomato sauce

Tomato Sauce | home canning

We had lots of tomatoes this year from my parent’s and grandparent’s gardens, so I made some sauce with my Mom. She makes a ton of it every year, and has taught me how. We use this sauce for pizza, spaghetti, and in other dishes.

This post is more of a how to than a recipe since I didn’t include measurements. As a general rule 20 lbs of tomatoes will make 7 pint jars, but it also depends on how thick you like your sauce. For my sauce I don’t remove the tomato seeds or skins, and instead blend them up together in a blender. It’s quite fun and easy, without the mess of pressing them through a sieve or using a food mill.

Tomato Sauce

paste tomatoes
garlic
fresh basil
fresh oregano
salt
pepper
lemon juice

Wash, cut off ends (and bad spots), and core tomatoes. Place into a large pot with about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom. Cook tomatoes until they are swimming in their own juices. Pour tomatoes into a colander to drain (you can save the nutritious tomato water if you wish). Blend in batches that fit in your blender with garlic and fresh herbs. The amount of seasoning you add is up to your taste buds, but I generally added 2-3 cloves garlic and a small handful of fresh herbs to each blender batch. For a plain sauce just omit the seasonings. Pour the pureed tomatoes into a pot, add salt and pepper to taste, and cook to desired consistency.

While sauce is thickening up (it shouldn’t take too long since we already got lots of the water out), set up your canner, jars, and lids. Put 1 Tbsp. lemon juice in each pint jar, or 2 Tbsp. in each quart jar depending on what you are using. When sauce has reached desired consistency, 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 35 minutes.

Enjoy!

laundry day

laundry day

I love laundry day. Hanging laundry on the line, bringing it in, and folding it relaxes me. I especially like washing sheets because of the way they billow in the wind like the sails on a ship. Sometimes, when I go out to bring them in and the wind has picked up I feel like I am taming a wild animal. Then I get to put them back on the bed, so crisp and fresh smelling, I just want to lay on the bed for a while.

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blackberry picking to cobbler

I hope you guys all had a lovely 4th celebration! I got to pick my Grandma’s blackberries while they were away for the weekend, and so I made this Cobbler. It was delicious, but I think next time I’d reduce the sugar in the batter.

We are leaving for a six week road trip at the end of this week, and there is so much to do! We already have our destinations planned (loosely to allow for improvisation), and I made a menu for our meals. Now comes oodles of packing and preparing food to do before we shoot a wedding on Saturday and leave Sunday. It’s going to be crazy.

This week I loved:

Gorgeous images of backpacking in the Grand Canyon

An essay about less, and how it’s really more

A great tip from the kitchn on how to keep guacamole green

I just discovered Yoga With Adriene on YouTube, and have beens starting out with her videos for beginners. My goal is to learn enough to be able to do some yoga out in nature on our road trip!