Measure & Whisk: Real food cooking with a dash of minimalist living

Friday, April 29, 2016

Minimalist's Overnight Trip Packing List (+ Overnight Packing List for Baby)

I mentioned in Wednesday's post that we went to San Antonio for the weekend.  Although we ended up needing kind of a lot of stuff (baby's high chair, lots of toys for the 2+ hour car ride, snacks for the 2+ hour car ride, and a suitcase), I find that bringing a lot of clothes (and stuff generally) just stresses me out.

I have put together a little outline of what to pack for an overnight trip. I really hate hauling around 2 weeks worth of clothes for 2 days, so I try to simplify.  This will give you a good idea of what is important to me when packing, and how I try to diversify clothing options, in case of inclement weather, or baby catastrophe (throw up, explosive diaper, spilling a drink, etc) .

I am planning on doing another post like this for a 5-day trip in a few weeks when we head to Las Vegas to see my family (my little brother is coming home from a Mormon mission).  I will do what I am packing for me, and what we are packing for Fox. I am also planning on doing another summer guide, for longer than 4 weeks, when we head to Utah at the end of May.   Hopefully this will help a variety of people trying to travel with less!  Please trust me when I tell you that traveling with less is definitely worth it!

Anyway, here is what we took with us clothing-wise:

For Me: 
An Outfit for Friday: Traveling necessitates comfortable clothing, in my opinion.  I always try to choose something that I will feel cute, but comfortable in as well.  I never like to travel in sweatpants, or pajamas, but a darling short-sleeved sweatshirt fits the comfort bill perfectly!
- a short-sleeved sweatshirt
- comfy well-fitting jeans
- dressy booties
- sunglasses
- small earrings

An Evening In: We watched a movie and had chocolate fondu with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law on Friday night, so I wanted to wear something comfortable while we we gorged ourselves on brownies dipped in chocolate (such a good idea, right?).  Also, I find that other people's homes tend to be freezing, so I decided to bring a sweater that I could wear that night and the next day if I needed it.
- a tee shirt
- an extra tee shirt (in case of a spilled drink or baby slime)
- sweat pants
- sweater
- cute socks

An Outfit for Saturday: San Antonio is starting to heat up, and we went to the zoo on Saturday morning, so I brought a nice cool summer dress.  A fun pop of color from the belt (and some not-pictured yellow earrings), and I felt put together and pretty!
- summer dress
- belt
- booties
- sweater (I didn't end up wearing it at all that day, because it was so warm)

*The clothing is all linked to below.  Some of the links are affiliate links.  If you decide to buy anything from Everlane, I would be thrilled if you bought it through this Everlane link

top: j. crew (very similar or this one that I own. If you decide to buy either one of these, I would really love it if you would sign up through this link to Everlane so I get the credit!)
pants: madewell via thredup
sunglasses: borrowed permanently from Adam (similar)
earrings: hand-me-down from a friend (similar)

 t-shirts: target (similar)
pants: old navy (similar)
sweater: old navy via clothing swap (similar)
socks: woven pear (sold out of this pair, but they have other cute ones!)

dress: made by me (similar and similar)
belt: target (similar)
shoes: The Mint Julep Boutique
sweater: old navy via clothing swap

For Fox:
Friday Travel Day (Not pictured): 
- t-shirt
- shorts
- moccasins

Friday Night: I would always bring something warmish, unless your baby sleeps extremely warmly.
- pajamas

Second outfit/Just in-case outfit: I feel that it is a good idea to bring an extra set of clothes that could double as pajamas or a daytime outfit.  He didn't end up needing to wear it, but I was glad we had brought it all the same.
- long-sleeved t-shirt
- sweat pants

Saturday Outfit: We traveled on this day, too, so it was nice to have a something comfortable for him to wear.
- pants
- t-shirt

whale pj's: kohl's
lion shirt: badger and rue
orange pants: carter's outlet
sweat pants: adidas
red shirt: Osh B'gosh via a friend
Blogger Tricks

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Weekly CSA Share and Meal Plan

This past weekend, we drove down to San Antonio for a last weekend with Adam's brother and his family before we head to Salt Lake City, UT for the summer.  It really was a terrific time!  Fox had the best time playing with his cousins!

He hasn't spent time with any of his cousins since he has been old enough to actually play with them, so this was really exciting and new for him! His little cousins were SO sweet to him, and kept him entertained all evening and the next day!  They thought he was great, and he thought they were great.  It was darling to see!

Because we were gone overnight on Friday, I missed a day cooking, and we had hamburgers with some friends last night, so I am missing two meals this week.  I am not sad about it, and the ones that we did have were quite tasty.  Hopefully this gives you some good ideas of what to do with the vegetables in your fridge!

And I didn't take a single photo of any dinner this week... Here is a lovely photo of an artichoke that I took.  That is the best I've got this week!

To Use Up:  

Weekly Menu: 
Lentil Soup - This was surprisingly delicious.  Lentil soup can be great, but it is just lentil soup most of the time.  This recipe took it a notch above and was very good.
Beet Soup - an old favorite.  Adam always loves it when I make this, and Fox is totally cool with eating it, too.
Carrot Quiche - I promise this one is coming soon. It is TERRIFIC!
Radish and Cabbage Salad - this combo didn't sound great, but the dressing made it. It was really very good. I might replace the radishes with red peppers or something next time.
Parsnip Au Gratin - I didn't have any tinfoil, so the kohlrabi was a little hard, but the crispy topping was delicious!  And Fox ate it, too.  Hooray for baby friendly meals!

I hope your Wednesday is going well!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Braided Challah Bread

When I was young, my talented mom made a lot of homemade bread.  She made whole wheat sandwich bread, dill bread, homemade rolls and challah bread (sounds like hah-leh). She probably made other breads, too, but these are the ones that stand out in my memory.

When I finally started making bread as an adult, I decided to try my hand at challah bread, because it was a familiar to me, and it quickly became one of my favorites to make and eat.

It is a somewhat sweet egg bread, and because it is braided, the final product is gorgeous!  You will feel like an absolute rockstar when it comes out of the oven!  I used to make this a lot in my college apartment, and it was always a hit, and was eaten so very quickly.  It is perfect to eat by itself, to use for sandwiches, served with butter and jam, and as a delicious base for grilled cheese.

Truly this bread is a wonder.  It takes some time to make, but one of the things that I love about bread, is that there is very little hands-on time.  You just need to be around to keep it moving to the next step, but there is ample time to do laundry, help kids with homework, or write a blog post between rises.

If you like homemade bread, you really ought to add this one to your arsenal of recipes.  It is delicious!  Happy Monday!

Also, on a totally unrelated note, I selected the winners from my Instagram giveaway last week.  They were:  @ebee333, @eskolrood, @onwhomtorely, and @auntbeckj!  Congratulations to the winners, and thank you everyone else for participating!  I really appreciate you all!

If you are super bummed that you didn't win, you should probably make this bread as a consolation prize.  Homemade bread does wonders!

Braided Challah Bread:
adapted slightly from the Williams-Sonoma Bread Cookbook
makes 2 medium-sized loaves of braided bread

4 1/2 cups  unbleached all purpose flour (divided)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbs active dry yeast
4 Tbs granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil or olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs butter

Put 3 cups of flour in a stand mixer, if you have one (it will work fine in a plain mixing bowl, too).  Use the paddle attachment.  Form a well in the center of the flour. Pour the water into the well in the flour.

Sprinkle the yeast, and a tablespoon of sugar over the water. Let stand for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is foamy.

Add the remaining tablespoons of sugar, the eggs, oil and salt.  Mix well until a shaggy dough begins to form.  Add the remaining flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Remove the paddle attachment, and use the dough hook at this point.  Knead on low speed for a 4-5 minutes, adding more flour, as needed, 1 Tbs at a time.  Note: you may not need all the flour, or your dough may need a little extra.  Play it by feel.  The dough should be soft and elastic, and no longer leave little bits on your hands when you finish kneading.

I find that it is hard to tell the when the dough is ready in a stand mixer (it often ends up sticky), so sometimes I will take the mixer bowl off the stand mixer, and add flour, kneading by hand until the dough is no longer sticky, but smooth and elastic.

One your dough has reached the soft and non-sticky stage, remove it from the bowl and place it in a greased bowl, flip the dough over, so the top and bottom are greased.  Cover it with a greased piece of plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Carefully deflate your dough with your hand.  Turn it over, cover it, and let it rise again until doubled, another hour, or so.

Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat.  Turn the dough out onto a floured cutting board, or clean dry surface, and divide the dough into 6 equal portions.  Set aside 3 of the pieces for a minute.

Take the remaining 3 pieces and roll them out into long skinny snake-like pieces, about 14" long, and about 1" diameter through the middle of the snake.  Place the three ropes parallel to each other and pinch the three pieces together at one end.

Braid the ropes together to form a loaf. Once you finish braiding it, pinch the 3 end pieces together. Tuck both pinched ends of the bread under the loaf, just enough to hide the ends, and to keep them from coming unbraided.

Repeat with the other loaf, and place both of them on baking sheet, leaving a few inches between the loaves.

Cover with a damp towel and let the bread rise until doubles in size, another 30-40 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Bake until golden brown, 35-40 minutes. If you are worried about it being cooked all the way through, leave it in until it is deeply golden.

Remove from the oven, and let cool for 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack for another 10.  Serve while warm.


Friday, April 22, 2016

The Financial Benefits of Being Minimalist

Minimalists often spend a lot of their time talking about how their lifestyle brings peace, simplicity and order to their lives.  These are definitely benefits of a minimalist life, but sometimes we overlook the best part of minimalism:  It can be a less expensive way to live.

Intentional living makes me regularly evaluate what things I buy to bring into my home.  It also gives me a legitimate reason to stop trying to keep up with my next door neighbor (literally or figuratively).

Social media can absolutely rob you of your happiness because it promotes the comparison game. That person that you follow has a prettier, better decorated home, or nicer clothes, or they shop at the farmer's market every week, or whatever.

When I stop trying to keep up with them, and be content with what I have, I am a lot happier.  I am also less likely to drop a lot of money on random junk to make me more like someone I saw on Instagram or Pinterest.

Today I want to talk a little bit about how minimalism is a cheaper way of leaving for my family, and some specific examples of how this can work, even if you shop for more expensive items.

There are generally two scenarios for my shopping trips these days.

First Scenario:
I think about going shopping (this is more recreational shopping, not grocery shopping, or shopping for something specific). Then I realize that buying random stuff won't make me happier long term, and it will probably just clutter up my apartment. So instead, I end up at the park with Fox instead of at the mall.

Bottom line?  Choosing to skip an unnecessary shopping trip will always save you money.  Be content with what you have until you actually need something.  It might take some practice at first, but the more you find things to be grateful for, the easier it will be to be satisfied with your own life.

Or, my second scenario:

Decide to go shopping with some specific goals in mind (let's use clothes as an example here, but it could work for most items you might shop for).  For example, you might need a few new short-sleeved shirts for the summer months.

Before you go shopping (even online shopping), consider what the right short-sleeved shirts might look like for you.

Adam is currently in school, and our budget is pretty tight because of it, so I rarely impulse buy anything, even at the grocery store.  I tend to plan out what I am going to get in advance, and then purchase just those things.  Impulse control is much easier when you have a plan.

My plan would be to look for shirts that are long enough to cover my stomach and back, versatile, sleeved, and non-sheer.  Your ideal shirt might be something totally different, but figuring out what you are actually looking for will help you sort out cheap, clearance distractions before you even get to the store.

It may take longer to find the right item(s) this way, you will be happier long-term with what you have purchased. Clearance shopping usually ends up being cyclical, because those clothes were often purchased on a whim, because they were a good deal, and not because they fit well. You will stare into your closet bursting with cheap, meh-fitting clothes, and still feel like you have nothing to wear, so you will want to go shopping again.  Because of this, spending a little more money for a better piece can actually save you money.

Choosing the right stores to shop at (online or in a brick and mortar building) can also help with impulse control.  If you shop at a store that generally carries well-made items (whether they be expensive or not), you will be more likely to get an item that will fit better and last longer.

Because I like hearing myself talk, I want to walk you through one other, real-life scenario for purchasing stuff for my home, and how being a minimalist has made my life easier and cheaper.

When we first moved into our apartment a few years ago, I kept wandering through Target and other home stores trying to figure out what darling nicknacks to put on our end table and on the bookshelf.  I never really found anything that I loved, and my surfaces mostly stayed blank.  I had a few photos, but no nifty geometric metal things, or brass animals.

I felt bad whenever I would look at design blogs, with their perfectly curated bookshelves and beautiful trinkets and then see the lack of stuff on my shelves (remember that lousy social media comparison I talked about earlier? I have totally fallen for it, too).

In retrospect, that seems completely ridiculous and I am grateful that I don't have a bunch of nicknacks from 3 years ago, that don't look trendy anymore, and are covered in dust. Also, I think I saved myself a few hundred dollars by not purchasing stuff that I didn't love.

I still have books, photos and a few other necessities on shelves, but they are things that I use regularly and that bring me pleasure.  And dusting doesn't bring me pleasure.  At least it wouldn't if I actually did it.

Minimalism goes back to the heart of why you own something.  Does it bring you joy?  Does it fit well?  Is it the right fit for your home and your life?

In the last year or so, since we have been applying minimalist principles, I have tried to only purchase only things that I love. My mom always says, "If you don't love it, don't buy it."  Words to live by, people.

I have limited my shopping trips to more necessary trips, and consequently have spent less money in almost every area of my life.  Our home is easier to clean, with less stuff, feels more spacious, and our lifestyle is costing less money.

Why on earth would you fill your home with a bunch of junk that takes up valuable storage space, just because it was on clearance.  I have made this mistake too many times.  It isn't worth it.  It won't ever be.

Here's to simpler living!  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Living with a CSA

This past week was an unusual one.  I typically am very organized in the grocery shopping/menu planning department, but since we are moving in a few weeks, and we have grains and other things to use up, plus an extra CSA box that came this week, I decided to just get a few essentials, like milk, eggs and fruit.  That is really pretty much it.  I think I spent $8 at the store this week.

This meant I got to be extra creative figuring out what to make.  And it worked out pretty well! Higher stress than having a list, so I will be back to a concrete menu next week.  I guess it was nice to see how winging it went. I don't think I would do well doing that every week...

To use up:
Carrots (SO many carrots!)
Sweet Potatoes

This Week's Menu:
Roasted Carrot Tart - This one is spectacularly good and I will be posting it soon.  I could eat this everyday for several weeks, I think!  So yummy.
Potato and Swiss Chard Pizza (similar to this pizza recipe)
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Chipotle Ranch Dressing
Peanut Butter Hoisin Stir Fry
Carrot Soup
Mini Beet and Parmesan Tarts - I might post these later these in a few weeks.  They were delicious and even great the next day!
Italian White Bean Soup - This one was a wild card when I was grasping at straws for one more dinner this week, and it was surprisingly great.  I served it with a very similar variation on these tasty nutmeg muffins

In other cooking this week:
These Chocolate Chip cookies from Janssen's Blog (I never use shortening, so I use all butter and they turn out beautifully!)
This amazing French Bread
I adapted these cornmeal cookies... They were a medium success.  Not great, but not terrible.

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