Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Green Drinks

Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows I am pretty obsessed with the NutriBullet. It is definitely one my favorite items in the kitchen and a ‘green drink’ has quickly become part of our morning breakfast routine. I also love to enjoy something fruity and refreshing after a sweat inducing hot yoga session.  I use whatever fruit we have on hand that week and I try to mix it up as much as possible to keep it interesting.
For breakfast I almost always use spinach as my ‘green’ but occasionally I will break it up with kale or mixed greens such as collards, dandelion, etc. I find spinach to be the least offensive. Unless you really like the taste of the more unique options I think they can make the drink taste bitter. The spinach is fairly mild and takes on the flavor of whatever fruit is included. If you are new to green drinks I would recommend adding an apple or banana as they overpower almost anything you put in there. From there you can move on and become more adventurous. Sometimes when I am sick of spinach I will use carrot or cucumber as my base so that I am still getting a veggie into the mix.
I really don’t have any set recipes since I tend to use different items each week but I will share some of my favorites. As far as ingredients, it’s really whatever you like. Have fun with it. Picking the ingredients is the best part! And it is a great opportunity to incorporate fruits and veggies that you might not otherwise be getting in your diet.  I would recommend using at least one veggie and then adding 2-4 fruits. For the liquid I use water, almond milk, coconut milk, coconut water or any combination of the four.  Summer is really an amazing time to start doing this because there are so many delicious fruits and veggies at your disposal. 

After yoga or a workout I like to enjoy something made just with fruit. Especially after hot yoga, it really helps to cool me down. My current obsession is cantaloupe, pineapple and grapefruit with half coconut water/half coconut milk. So refreshing. These types of smoothies can make a great late night treat as well. I wouldn’t say it’s an exact substitute for Ben and Jerry’s but it definitely helps curb the craving. If you want something more ‘chocolatey desserty' I would recommend blending organic chocolate milk with a banana and almond butter or you can substitute almond milk and a scoop of chocolate protein powder instead of chocolate milk.  

Some other favorites:
-Kale I Mango I Banana I Apple
-Spinach I Nectarine I Strawberry I Orange
-Cucumber I Peach I Pear
-Spinach I Plum I Pineapple I Grape


Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Guest Room

This room actually used to be the master bedroom. This is what it looked like when we moved in. Gotta love the burgundy carpet and pink walls.

When we moved in the house had 3 bedrooms upstairs. What was supposed to pass for a 3rd bedroom was more like a closet. 4 years ago we knocked down the wall between that small room and the second bedroom to make a bigger master. That left the original master open. We had remnants of furniture from past apartments in there along with all the random stuff we didn't know what to do with. Basically a junk room. When we had the occasional guest we would quickly try to make it as neat as possible but really it was just terrible. It was one of those projects that just seemed to keep getting pushed back because we really had no immediate use for the room. A couple of months ago we finally got the motivation to clean it out. We got rid of or donated what we didn't need and found a home for the rest. I always feel so much better, and somehow lighter, when I get rid of 'stuff'. Clutter drives me crazy which is why the door to this room was always closed. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I don't have any photos documenting the space as it was.
We didn't want to put too much money in to it but I wanted to make it more inviting. At least something nice to look at when coming up the stairs. I brought Greg along on a Target shopping trip and we picked up some odds and ends that we thought would work. Here is where we ended up. 

The walls need to be painted and there's still a remnant of that bubblegum pink on the radiator but definitely an improvement. This room gets direct sun in the morning and I love walking up the stairs to see the light pouring in. It makes me happy.

Side table, lamp, ceramic turtle, curtains, yellow and white pouf- Target
Overhead light- West Elm
Down comforter, blue statue- Home Goods
Dresser- vintage from Craigslist (I have plans to refurbish this down the line)
Pillows- Green pillow covers- Etsy, Grey pillow- Target

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Great Outdoors

Or maybe not so great. Our backyard has been sorely neglected. We have focused on the inside so much these past few years that the outside has definitely taken a backseat.  We have started to turn our attention to creating a backyard oasis but it is going to take some time and a lot of planning.  Right now we are just concentrating on creating a blank slate as we try to figure out what we actually want to do back there.  This is what our backyard looked like when we moved in.

Not bad. Decent enough landscaping, huge built in pool, patio. Definitely livable.

Here is what it looked like last week. 

Pool gone. Landscaping out of control. Grass needs some serious help.  OK, we kind of ruined it and yes, we filled in the pool. Here’s the thing. Pools are great for parties and great for other people to come over and enjoy. Not so great to have to clean and take care of, especially when it was used maybe 4-5 times each summer. This pool was old, like 35+ years old. It was starting to deteriorate and we either had to put money in to keep it or to take it out. In the end taking it out was the best decision for us. Even though it probably cost more up front than making the repairs, in the long run it will save us money.  Plus it gives us much more space to play around with. This was done at the end of last summer. Now that the ground has settled (literally) we are starting to plan what we want to do. First on the list was cleaning up the out of control landscape. We are really not fans of hedges so our first instinct was to just rip everything out. However, they do provide needed privacy from neighbors so we decided to take some out but leave a few until we really have a concrete plan in place of what will replace them. We want to be able to use our yard this summer so the goal at this point was just to get it looking presentable. We had a company come over and take down a tree as well as a few hedges and do a major cleanup of the ones we decided to keep for now. This was definitely money well spent. It would have taken days for us to do this ourselves. Here is what our yard currently looks like from the same angles as above.

Granted, this is not an immediate improvement and we may not have thought this completely through because we now have a huge gaping hole to our neighbor’s yard where a tree used to be.  We didn’t really anticipate the empty space this was going to leave. Whoops.  

We may look into planting something else there or possibly putting in a new fence.
Greg and I definitely have some different visions for the backyard so this renovation is going to be a compromise. Here are a few images I have collected.
I love the idea of creating a patio right outside our sliding doors with a pergola overhead. 

  image from here

image from here

I envision the landscaping to be very organic in feel- I don't want it to feel too contrived. We will need to build it up over time to create lots of layers and textures. 

 image from here

image from here

 image from here

So that is where we are at right now. Really just at the beginning stages. Next on this list is to clean up our patio area so that we can use it for the summer. After that I hope to start getting some more plants and trees and figure out what we are doing about that huge hole. Luckily those neighbors seem to like us. For now.