while I’m away…

For the past few months I’ve been working with Paleo Magazine on various reviews and other freelance work. A couple of months ago I was given an exciting new project, and I’m thrilled to finally share it with you today — with the launch of the new and improved Paleo Magazine app, the editors will be releasing free guides and e-books to online subscribers, starting with my e-cookbook!

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I developed and photographed 10 original Paleo recipes over the span of one hectic month, and the finished product is now available for free when you download the Paleo Magazine app. The entrees included appeal to all tastes and every season, and were inspired by some of my favorite flavor combinations: lime and cumin, shiitake mushrooms and shrimp, fresh peaches and roasted cherry tomatoes, sweet potato and chorizo.

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The whole experience was a learning process. Sure, I’ve been creating my own recipes and photographing the end result for years now, but the pressure was on to create something more sophisticated and streamlined. I used every tool in my arsenal to create inventive flavor pairings and visually appealing photographs, and spent a good chunk of an afternoon scrounging for props at the thrift store. It was hard work, harder than I imagined, and after this experience I have an immense amount of respect for cookbook creators everywhere.

But you’d better believe we ate really well at my house that month.

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So while I’m away, head over to the Paleo Magazine app and check out my first published cookbook. Try the recipes, put your own spin on them, and get back to me with your stories. While I won’t necessarily be whipping up delicious dishes while on the road and sharing them with you here, you can take a little piece of my Paleo perspective with you on your smart phone or tablet to enjoy this fall. Cheers and happy eating!

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a quirky dip-dyed chair

5436ec22e8a811e285af22000a1fb30f_7A tip for anyone planning to move in the next few years, here’s a little advice. Don’t wait until a couple of months before you leave to finish all of the projects you’ve been “meaning to do.” What will happen is this — a sudden sense of urgency will come upon you to complete all of the half-started attempts to find the perfect rug, re-upholster an armchair, paint a masterpiece. The pressure of a deadline increases exponentially when coupled with a tendency toward perfectionism (raises hand), and so the best options are to: a) start working on your projects before you have a pressing deadline to meet or b) relax, take your time and enjoy the process.

Another good idea is to start small. One of my goals for 2013 is to refinish the stack of secondhand furniture I’ve picked up over the last year, including two end tables, a dresser, and an armchair covered in worn yellow velvet but with the most incredible architectural bones. In an attempt to pump myself up for the projects ahead I began with a quick and easy project, this dip-dye style chair that I hope to use in my future workspace. It took a total of two afternoons to finish, including sanding, painting, drying, a coat of polyurethane and another drying session. It turned out to be really cute, and it’s just the type of instant gratification that I needed to keep me focused on my grander goal ahead.

Dip-Dyed Chair

You will need: a wooden chair, medium-grade sandpaper, masking tape, a small pot of paint or a can of spray paint, spray polyurethane, a drop cloth and a large, airy workspace.

Determine the line at which the paint will stop and tape that section off. Gently sand the sufaces you will be painting, and wipe them off with a damp rag. If you have any mineral spirits handy, a quick swipe of that after the sanding will clean off any remaining residue and open the wood grain to prepare for painting.

With a small brush, or with a can of spray paint, give the prepared area two coats of color — make sure to let the first coat dry completely before going over again with a second coat. Let the paint dry overnight or for another day, then gently remove masking tape to reveal a crisp boundary between paint and wood. Coat with a thin layer of polyurethane and let dry overnight until it is no longer tacky.

Inspired by this.

 

preparing for spring

Even though where I am feels a little more like summer than spring, and even though much of the U.S. looks more like winter, I can’t help but prepare le sacre du printemps. Once March hits I’m all about the blooms and bulbs, heavy cleaning inside and more time outside in the sun. I like to work a little harder on my skincare regimin to prep for tank top-and-sunhat season ahead, and my willpower becomes totally useless against any plants begging to come home with me at the grocery store.

(See potted mint above and hyacinth, below.)

One Saturday, when it started to truly feel like the warmth was going to stick, we took a little extra time to spruce up our front porch with solar lanterns and a few plants for al fresco dinners and parties. We have a little bistro table with two tiny chairs, and so a pair of thrifted camp stools helps to add a little extra seating. I even switched out the wintery fronds in our grapevine wreath for the front door in favor of more cheery fabric-scrap pompoms.

Inside, I hung a new piece of art — a tea towel by Leah Duncan from a great fundraiser from back home.

Most of my sweaters are on their way into storage, and to welcome the sunny days ahead I’ve started sewing a little sleeveless top out of an old pillowcase I bought at the thrift shop. It has the cheeriest, most darling floral print and I can’t wait to wear those box pleats out with shorts and sandals.

And, in keeping with a little spring tradition of mine, a little white hyacinth is blooming inside on our kitchen table. Hyacinths are such a harbinger of spring, with their timid peeking from the soil and the sweet perfume they send out with colors plum, blush and ivory.

Keeping it in the kitchen, or on a free spot on the counter where a weak beam of light happens to land, feels a little like being home again. Seeing hyacinths bloom in my mother’s flower beds always meant that winter was over, that a new season of rebirth and renewal was coming, that it was time to slough off the dead skin of winter a leap, naked and new, into the morning.

A most astonishing thing —
Seventy years have I lived;
(Hurrah for the flowers of Spring,
For Spring is here again.)

-W.B. Yeats, “Imitated from the Japanese”

try this

Whenever I feel a little overwhelmed by my to-do lists or deadlines or projects, I find that often the best remedy for overworking and overthinking is to step away from the screens and do something with my hands. Something that requires tactile senses, a deep concentration beyond that of coding and Photoshop design minutiae. So take a minute this week and try this: find some materials worthy of your creativity, be they watercolors or fabric scraps. Carve out a chunk of time to devote to your craft. Find an item of inspiration like I did, and then see where your hands go and how your mind follows. Let me know how this little experiment goes for you — wishing you all sorts of luck and happy surprises.

busy bee

new-winter-header.jpgnew-winter-header-ii.jpgnew-winter-header-ii1.jpgHello reader-friends, I’ll be hard at work this weekend revamping the site — already I’ve changed a few things around and I’ve got plenty in the works. What do you think about the new details around here?

If you wouldn’t mind taking a moment, I’d love to hear your opinion on the three header versions I’ve created above. Additionally, if you have any ideas or requests for content or design additions here on little dutch wife, make sure you leave a comment about that too. Spring is just around the corner and already I feel the stirring of new blood, new creativity, and a strong desire to clean house!

project life update

I anticipated 2013 would be a pretty amazing year. 2012 was certainly nothing to sneeze at — I wrote and defended my honors thesis, planned a wedding, graduated from college, got married and moved to a new state — but the year ahead promised to be full of new experiences and enough free time to document them all. Although it wasn’t one of my goals, I have dedicated a portion of my time each week to memory keeping with Project Life.

What is Project Life, exactly? It’s a revolutionary way to scrapbook, but instead of focusing on the “big events” and feeling the need to buy all of the papers, supplies, special scissors and ornate stickers, Project Life highlights the details of every day in a simple, glue-free format that can be as minimalist or as expressive as you so desire. The tagline of Project Life is “cultivate a good life and record it”, and I like this for so many reasons. First, it acknowledges that we as humans have a desire to keep track of how things happen, whether through journaling or taking photos along the way. Second, the phrase pays homage to a conflict that I know many bloggers understand — how to live a good life but also document it thoroughly, beautifully, without compromising participation. I’m so happy to report that, in my experience, Project Life makes that doable.

I asked for the Project Life Clementine kit for Christmas this year, and ended up receiving not only the binder and the sheets but several packs of cardstock and the entire gorgeous Clementine core kit. I started right away, and I’ve kept it up ever since.

Week after week, I take an afternoon or two to print photos, compile mementos from the week, cut them down to size and jot down a few words or a few paragraphs about what went down that week. Some weeks it’s easier to create a beautiful page than others. Some weeks it’s impossible to fit in all of the highlights.

The best thing about Project Life is that it has helped me to cultivate an attitude of awareness and contentment. When I’m looking at a set of blank pages, thinking back on what happened the week before, I’m able to recall small moments of beauty more easily than before I started Project Life. I’m getting better about remembering to take photos, and I’m getting better about remembering with take photos with my camera. I’m becoming more aware of opportunities to try new things and start new adventures, because all of that means a more interesting Project Life that week — and, more importantly, it means a more interesting life in the long run.

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Cover page: I opted for a Christmas recap for my cover page instead of a 2013-themed one. I had so many great shots and mementos from the holiday that I wanted to include a bit of the end of the year with the start of the new year. I covered the page protector with some leftover fabric from a sewing project.

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January: Week 1 – This page encompasses New Year’s Eve and our trip back to Texas from spending the holidays at home. Just recently I put all of the Christmas cards we received into three plain page-protectors for a storage solution and to get a glimpse at how many sweet friends and family members sent us well-wishes on our first Christmas season together.

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January: Week 2 – I was getting more into the habit of taking photos throughout the week, and I was especially trying to capture bits of our daily life. I really like the photo of Andrew on his “lunch break.” Although it’s pretty obvious that I still wasn’t comfortable with my handwriting or my pens.

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January: Week 3 – Not a lot happened across the week, so I saved our PL spread for documenting our trip to Austin over MLK weekend. This was one of my favorite spreads, and one of the most creative and accidentally color-coordinated. It really captured our experience in Austin and was an awesome repository for all of the little mementos I picked up along the way.

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January: Week 4 – Another simple week but a full weekend. This spread had a greater proportion of journaling/text to photographs, but here I’m beginning to get a feel for free-writing handwriting and I finally found a good pen for this purpose.

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February: Week 1 – I really like how the colors turned out on this page, the white and the red and light blue. We didn’t actually do very much of note this week, but it was easy to fill in the gaps with little life details captured along the way, and I’m happy about that.

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February: Week 2 – My parents came to visit, and so this was a week full of fun photographic opportunities. I kept the journaling cards simple, with only a few pops of color and some soft greys to balance out all of the photographs.

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February: Week 3 – I used another page protector to store a few cards and Valentines we received this week, and used some simple white Thickers to add a little textural flair. I love how you can still see through the page protector a little.

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February: Week 4 – I was sick this week, and I really struggled to gather enough photos to make for an interesting page. The rodeo helped with that, thankfully.

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March: Week 1 – Now, nearly every week that I make a spread I think, “this is my favorite.” This week, though, is really one of my favorites. I was very intentional about taking photos and I’m thankful to finally have some shots with our friends that we made, oh, a few months ago.

Two months in and already I’m loving this project for how it has challenged my creativity, improved my attitude, and drawn my attention to how wonderful this life of mine is. Years from now I know I’ll appreciate all of the hard work that went into documenting our first year of marriage, the beginning of Andrew’s military career, how we dealt with life at our first assignments and how we changed along the way.

Of course, there are details from the first couple of weeks that aren’t perfect, that I wish I could go back and change, re-write, or re-align. Theoretically, I can still do that, but I rather prefer to see my creative progress instead of trying for absolute perfection all of the time.

Supplies: Project Life Clementine binder, Clementine Core Kit, Project Life 3×4 grid cards, Project Life 4×6 Textured Cardstock, Project Life Design A Photo Pocket Pages, Thickers (in white, gold metallic, and wood grain), paper cutter, corner rounder, Paper Mate flair felt-tip pen, Cannon printer and matte photo paper, and scraps of this and that from around the house.

Some notable inspiration around the web: Becky Higgins started it all, so her blog is a good jumping-off point for anyone unfamiliar with the concept of Project Life. Elise Cripe has lovely spreads, but what I most enjoy is how she incorporates her Project Life journey into her daily blog. Hers is an excellent resource for newbies like me, who are learning as we go, as she breaks everything down into usable, learnable chunks. And finally, everything that Ali Edwards touches turns to gold. I dare you not to lose hours flipping through her Project Life blog archives and then questioning everything artistic you’ve ever done. Just kidding.

a little announcement

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 7.41.34 PMI’m so excited to announce that I’ll be attending the 2013 Paleo FX conference in Austin next month. I’ve dreamed about going to something like this ever since I got on the nutritional path, and I’m so grateful to be able to make this dream a reality, to hobnob with other food geeks, and to learn about fuel and movement in one of the coolest cities in Texas. Let’s do a little roll call to see who else will be there — leave a comment if you’re going and hopefully we can meet up and chat while there.

On the docket for seminars are such big names as Robb Wolf, Diane Sanfilippo, the one and only Melissa Joulwan and Dr. Terry Wahls. You’d better believe that I’m bringing all of my paleo/primal literature for some signatures! In addition to lectures, there will be training seminars, cooking demonstrations, and tons of paleo-friendly vendors hawking their wares. I’m looking forward to tasting some of the famous Steve’s Original PaleoKits and scoring an issue of Paleo Magazine.

I’ll be blogging updates and recaps while I’m there, but for now I’m the most eager to hearing about who else will be around for the festivities.

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And instead of my typical around here Friday post, today I’m going to share a few links I’ve found on the web that have piqued my interest in the last couple of days. They run the gamut of historical articles to, of course, recipe posts.

This article makes me want to move back to the farm. Yeah, life is rough and tough there sometimes, but it’s worth it. This, combined with a recent podcast I listened to about interning on Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm has got me itching for a pair of overalls and a coop full of laying hens. Maybe someday we’ll go back to the farmstead and live a life of subsistence farming, complete with rain barrels, compost piles and lots of room to roam.

This Winter Greens, Kabocha Squash and Peeled Pear Salad from Goop looks fabulous. I will make it this weekend, by golly, by the power invested in me by the state of Gwyneth Paltrow.

And speaking of greens, around my house we’ve been all about the dark leafy vegetables of late. We go through heads of kale at a time, but earlier in the week I grabbed some giant bags of mixed greens — collards, mustard and turnip greens — that were two for $5 and I’ve been pleased with my purchase ever since. I usually wilt half a bag at a time in a skillet with some butter, add a dash of garlic powder and fish sauce, and finish with a squeeze of lemon. The same goes with our usual kale, and I serve this with eggs for breakfast or with any variety of protein for dinner. Lately, I’ve been looking for more interesting greens recipes and have turned to Foodgawker for inspiration. Look at all of this gourmet kale-y goodness.

I want to try Crossfit. Has anyone done it before? There’s an upcoming free intro session at my local box and I’m eager to try it out. Because I want to be this beautifully badass.

After getting sick earlier in the week, I’m finishing up a round of effective (but regrettable) antibiotics. I’m going to finish out the week with a little extra oil of oregano and hopefully start from scratch with homemade kefir and sauerkraut (plus capsuled probiotics) to rehabilitate my gut. A variety of literature I’ve been reading lately, including this article from The Human Food Project, via Mama’s Weeds, stresses the importance of the gut in our overall health and physical function, including our immunity and metabolism. The recommendation to “eat more [species of] plants” has really been on my mind lately, especially as I’ve been downing so much kale. Plus, I think it could be a fun game to see how many different kinds of vegetables I could ingest in a week. Would you be up for the challenge to get in “30-40 species” in a week?

I’m still hard at work in the wardrobe department, although I’ve been doing my share of online dream-shopping instead of actual shopping. I already mentioned how much I love the Emerson Fry spring line, but have you seen the new 3191 collection? Just a few pieces available per style, all handmade. I would have snatched this tank up in an instant but, sadly, I just barely missed it.

In the next few days we’ve got a few social engagements to look forward to, including a date at the rodeo. What occasions are you donning your best boots for this weekend? Let me know, I’m always curious!