Get Your Fall Gardening Guide!

spinachI was super inspired this week and have put together a pretty fun newsletter for the month of September – a fall gardening guide! Haven’t started your fall and winter garden yet? No problem! There’s still time! There are lots of seeds you can get in the ground in September to enjoy in the fall and early next spring! Sign up for my free e-letter (on the sidebar to your right!) and get fall gardening tips delivered to your inbox next week!

Work Lunch: Taco Salad

WorkLunchToday is the first in a series I’m calling Work Lunch! Each week, I’ll share something I’m making for lunch. I’m hoping it will inspire you and me to keep work lunches creative and satisfying!

photo (27)Lately, we’ve got a lot of greens to eat, so I find myself eating a lot of salad. I start with a large plastic container – mine’s just over 6 cups. I like to pack it up with greens, other raw veggies and whatever dressing I’m using. Since it’s a large container, I end up with enough room to toss things around when I’m ready to eat. I pack my dressing in a 4oz mason jar and stick it in the salad container so that if it happens to leak, it will leak onto my greens and not into my bag.

IMG_4525When I prep my salad, I put all the greens into the big container and use kitchen shears to give it a few chops. It saves me a little time and a few extra dirty dishes. Plus, it quickly reduces my greens into bite-size pieces.

IMG_4526In order to make the salad something that will sustain me until my afternoon snack, I add lots of protein and grains to my salads. For my taco salad, I pack a pint jar full of brown rice and black beans. I pack those apart from my salad greens in case I want to heat them up a bit before I add them to my salad bowl. I love this salad when the rice and beans are warmed so they wilt the greens ever so slightly.

Instead of a dressing for this one, I opt for a generous squeeze of lime, a sprinkling of salt, and some spoonfuls of homegrown roasted tomatillo salsa. To top it off, I add some slices of avocado. I learned somewhere that the pit of the avocado helps keep the avocado from turning brown, so I keep the pit in as long as I can. Either way, the skin of the avocado helps serve as natural protection when it’s making its journey to work with me. If we happen to have some tortilla chips, I bring a little bag of them along with me. I especially love to smash a handful of tortilla chips over my salad bowl. There’s something magic about the salty crunch.

 

Back-to-School Granola Bars with Cacao and Cranberries

image (10)After a whirlwind of a summer, during which I finished planning the wedding I spent four months putting together, I officially became Mrs.Davison! (You can expect an extremely detailed recap of all the wedding goodness…as soon as all those beautiful pictures come in!) A few days after that, I came home to start my new job as an instructional mentor. So, if you’ve been wondering why I’ve been MIA as of late, that’s why. It’s exhausting keeping up with so many huge life changes.

photo (24)That being said, I am in full-on work mode at this point – the time of year when I spend half of the day on Sunday prepping lunches and snacks for the work week. There’s something grounding and comforting about this weekly routine of mine, especially when I can get Eric to keep me company while I cook.

photo (26)This recipe for naturally sweetened homemade granola bars has been a solid snack resource of mine for a couple of years now. These bars are versatile as there is room for adaptations when it comes to the add-ins. Coconut flakes, golden raisins and cardamom (instead of the cacao or cinnamon) is a stellar combo. So is dark chocolate bar pieces, sour cherries, and chopped pecans. I have a feeling my Ayurvedic guru, Nicole, would say these would also be an excellent vehicle for the super root, maca! The options are really limitless. It’s just that now that I’ve eaten my latest version, the recipe below, I don’t know if I’ll be in the mood to experiment for awhile. They’re that good.

Give them a try, change ‘em up, and let me know what you came up with!

photo 2 (2)DIY Granola Bars with Cacao and Cranberries

Adapted from this recipe by Diana at My Humble Kitchen

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats, uncooked
*1 2/3 cups dried fruits and nuts (For this amazing combo, use: cranberries, chopped pecans, raw pumpkin seeds, golden flax seeds and mini-chocolate chips)
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tablespoon raw cacao powder (or 2 tsp cinnamon or cardamom, depending on the flavor combo you’re creating)
1/2 tsp salt

*You need a total of 1 2/3 cups of extras, not exact totals of each, so be flexible and be creative! I simply take the 1 cup measuring cup and fill it up with a combo of goodies and then dump it into my dry ingredients bowl. I repeat a second time, filling the cup about 2/3 of the way full. It doesn’t have to be hard and fast – have fun with it!

Wet Ingredients:

1/3 cup raw honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil (heat slightly if it’s in a solid state)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and brush a 9×13 pan with coconut oil. Remember to grease those pesky corners too!

2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

3. Mix together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then add them to the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold in until all the dry ingredients are evenly moistened.

4. Press the granola bar mixture into the pan with your hands. This is a messy, not-so-easy process, but it’s worth it! It’s a little less sticky if you press with damp hands.

5. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes.

This part is critical. When I follow these steps, exactly as written (thank you, Diana, for leading the way!), my granola bars come out beautifully. When left in the pan for too long at one of these stages though, I sometimes have to fight to get them to come out and have ended up with granola. So, take care at this stage.

6. Remove the granola bars from the oven and allow them to cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Then, when the timer goes off, loosen the edges with a spatula or knife.

7. Allow the bars to cool for another 15 minutes. Then, slice into bars and gently (this can be especially difficult with the first two or three bars until you have room to maneuver) transfer them onto a rack to cool completely.

8. When cool, store the granola bars in an airtight container, separating layers with parchment paper so they don’t stick.

9. Take them to work and enjoy a happy snack during the day or on your commute home!

Etsifying with Handmade Wedding

chalkboardEtsifyverb, to use Etsy to make something even more amazing than it already it. (Yes, I’m making up my own words now). 

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have been crafting day and night to get ready for our wedding. I have been waiting for this day for years and have always anticipated hand making the hell out of it! It is a wedding workshop over here and I am loving every single minute of it!

While I am making the bulk of the decor, favors, and flair for the big day, I have also sought out the help of many super talented artists on Etsy to add a few details. Being an artist and having an Etsy shop myself, I feel a special camaraderie with my fellow Etsy artists and feel excited to support their work and their shops. Even when I knew I could probably make the piece myself, I opted to buy the item in order to support the artist. When our wedding day comes, which is fast approaching, I know I’ll be able to look around and see lots of little ways that Etsy artists made the day just a little more special.

Here are some Etsy delights that will be making an appearance at my wedding:

clay_gardeniasClay Gardenias for my hair – I am SO excited about these! Rather than fussing around with real gardenias, which are heavy and have extremely delicate petals, I am going to wear these life-like clay beauties that I won’t have to worry about. Wearing a gardenia is a Brewer tradition and I’m excited to be able to mimic the style of my grandma with a little help from dkDesignsHawaii. They are even more beautiful in person than they are in the images, if you can imagine that!

shrugA Delicate Cream-Colored Shrug  from the WhiteFashion shop – It’s going to be hot up in the Santa Ynez valley where we’re getting married, but when the evening winds pick up, I have a feeling I might get a bit chilly. This shrug is as beautiful in person as it is in the photo. And it fits just as well!

BuntingA Charming Bunting Cake Topper – Bunting will abound all around our ceremony and reception (I’ve sewn over 500 feet of it!!!), so naturally, I couldn’t resist this adorable bunting cake topper with our initials on it. I found  this gem at the AtCompanyB shop.

butterfliesFinally, since my mom passed away 13 years ago now, she will be at my wedding in spirit. Butterflies were always a favorite of ours and they always seem to make an appearance when I’m needing a little mom love. When I see a butterfly, it feels like a little wink from my mom. So, in order to celebrate that connection, we bought the most amazing ombre sugar butterflies for our cake. I am SO excited to see how beautiful they look on ours. We opted for the orange monarch butterfly style since monarchs stop to rest in Goleta, just outside of Santa Barbara (near where we are getting married) during their migration south. They are life-like and gorgeous – a sweet little detail that will make my heart sing! Find these at Sugar Robot!

Want to see all the projects I’ve been crafting up for the big day? Stay tuned!