Showing posts from October, 2011

On Our Menu: October 31 - November 6

The colder weather means we're craving comfort foods. I was going to make the Mushroom & Black-Eyed Pea Ragout last Saturday but instead we had pizza... after we had just had pizza on Thursday! Yikes. 

In other news, I got a Champion juicer from my parents for my birthday so I'm looking forward to cranking out some healthy, yummy drinks.


Today is my golden birthday. Yep, I'm 30. I thought that I would have a hard time turning the big 3-0 but aside from the gray hairs that have been popping up, I'm happy. Maybe it's the way I've been looking at my life this year. On past birthdays I would feel disappointed that I was turning another year older because I have so many things I want to do in my life. The ol' Bucket List just keeps growing. But this year I decided to look back on the past 30 years (mostly just the past 10) and remember all of the amazing things I've already done. Some of these things were on my Bucket List, some not. Regardless, they are things that stick out in my mind as happy memories and have helped shape me into the person I am today. I am so blessed.

(In chronological order for the most part. Follow the text links for a lot more pictures.)

1. Rebuilt a section of the Continental Divide Trail in the San Juans Mountains of Colorado for 4 weeks with the Student Conservation Associa…

A Unique Harvest (and a recipe!)

"I started growing mushrooms." After hearing my statement, most people utter a chuckling an incredulous "What?" You see, I love to eat mushrooms but am afraid of poisoning myself by picking a toxic mushroom while foraging in the woods. The solution? Grow my own!
This past spring I attended a workshop near Peshtigo, Wisconsin and learned the ins and outs of growing mushrooms at home. I proudly brought back two different packages of mushroom spawn one being that of Summer Blue Oyster mushrooms.

For growing our oyster mushrooms I chose to use the “totem method.” First, we cut down a live poplar tree with a trunk diameter of about twelve inches. Certain mushrooms with only grow on specific types of wood and oysters happen to like poplars. We were lucky enough to have access to a stand of poplar trees. (Thanks mom and dad!) The trunk was cut into 2-3 foot long sections. Those sections were then cut twice more leaving us with a 3-piece totem.

Next, we placed a large garbage…

On Our Menu: October 24 - 30

I haven't done one of these in awhile because I was busy preparing dried meals for our trip to the Porkies. A lot of people ask what we eat on our backpacking trips. Well, let me tell you - we eat well and we eat A LOT! You wouldn't believe how many calories you can burn hiking 12 miles with a 30 pound pack on your back. I dehydrate all of our meals ahead of time and they really do taste great. On this trip for dinners we had beef stroganoff, tamale pie (cornbread cooks on top of chili), and a chicken and rice dish. My favorite backpacking cookbook is Lipsmackin' Backpackin'. The meals have big portions and taste great because you start by dehydrating fresh veggies, fruits and meats.

LOL. See me in the photo?

Backpacking in the Porkies

Earlier this week Christian and I spent 4 days backpacking through one of our favorite places - the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan. We hiked about 12 miles a day and stayed at a different rustic cabin each night. Cold wintery winds were blowing off of Lake Superior but our little cabins were nice and cozy. Four days out in nature was exactly what I needed to restore my soul. Here are a few of my favorite shots from our trip.

Autumn Around Us

While helping to set up for the John Muir Chapter Autumn Assembly at Camp Helen Brachman last Friday, I took a break to photograph a small prairie garden. Autumn is here, and it's beautiful.

35,000 Bracelets Delivered

Remember these bracelets I made back in May?

They were delivered to Russia... with Love. To see the smiles they brought, visit the Craft Hope blog

"Do not ever, for a moment, think that what you are doing does not matter. It matters to at least one child. One child that needs you."   - Jade, Craft Hope

Skeleton Birthday Party Invites

If you are still Bead Soup Blog Hoppin' go here.

I turn the big 3-0 this month so my parents are throwing me a party. My mom asked me if I wanted to make my own invites. Um, yeah! I saw a really cool skeleton invite on so that's where I started. The template for the skeleton can be downloaded right from the website. I imported the template into InDesign and typed the party info right onto the body so I wouldn't have to hand write 20 different invites. Then, I printed the skeleton out on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of white card stock, cut out the individual pieces, and assembled Mr. Bones with mini brads. Aren't they hilarious? I also added a little ribbon bow tie.

I knew I didn't want to buy envelopes so instead I built a template for a #9 policy envelope that fits on one 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper. 
This also allowed me to customize my envelopes and add some fun graphic elements. I printed out each envelope on orange card stock, cut out the corners, then fo…

On Our Menu: October 3 - 9

I had high hopes for the two recipes I tried last week from the Real Simple cookbook. The Spiced Mini Burgers with Couscous Salad were pretty good but nothing extraordinary. Christian thought it was too salty and I didn't even use as much salt as the recipe called for. Also, the hummus was unnecessary. I think I would have like the Tortellini with Eggplant and Peppers a lot better had I not put the fresh parsley on.  Even though I wasn't impressed by the two new recipes I tried from the cookbook, it still holds some all-time favorites like Angel Hair with Spicy Shrimp and Cool Southwestern Salad with Corn & Avocado.

This week's menu has already changed from when I took the picture. Instead of Black Bean & Cheese Quesadillas, tonight we're having mushroom quesadillas with oyster mushrooms that I grew myself! I plan on writing a post in the future about the whole journey of growing mushrooms. It's very interesting so stay tuned!