plants make me happy

It’s a fact… plants make me happy.

And I’m not the only one. Scientific studies prove that having plants in your living space helps purify air and makes one feel closer to nature. Think about it… plants represent the earth, air, water, sun, life, growth. Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by all that goodness?

Whenever I am feeling like I need to do something to ground me to the earth, I like to garden. Succulents are so freaking simple to plant. They (almost) never die, require little to no water, survive in sun and shade, and can be in or outdoors. They bring life and imagination to the space, and can be planted in just about anything.

succulent garden box

So when it’s cloudy out, and I am feeling disconnected… uprooted… not quite myself, digging my hands into the dirt really centers me and gets my mind right. So I decided, what better way to spruce up myself and my place then with a new planter?

Succulents can be picked up in so many places. Nurseries, flower stands, even drug and hardware stores. And containers can be anything from actual planters and pots to old tea kettles or books. All you need are some basic gardening supplies and you are well on your way to making your own little gardenscape.

DSC_6887

You will need enough dirt to fill your container 2/3 of the way, plus an extra few cups on the side. I didn’t even use a spade, I just went with my bare hands since none of the plants were spiky. I also brought with me a bowl full of water to fully soak the box while I worked.

You can also adorn your succulent container with fun little bits & pieces like seashells, sea glass, river rocks, old keys or crystals. Since mine is on my beachy little patio, it is surrounded by sea treasures from my local beach.

beachy patio

 

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Don’t call it a comeback!

Allow me to re-introduce myself…

After almost a year of radio silence, I am officially baaaaaack! This time last year, as I embraced the idea of living in the now and being present in every moment, I took a hiatus from my beloved blog to just… live.

I traveled, fell in love, made great progress in my life in many ways, learned lessons, made friends, explored new passions, and grew my roots deep in my community.

And now I am back, ready to hit the ground running, with lots to share! Sometimes going off trail into the wild can take you into an unfamiliar land, and feeling a bit confused by where you have wandered off to. But once you follow your footsteps back to where you left off, you can truly experience a second wind, a fresh perspective, and head back onto the trail with an all new outlook. And now that I am writing and taking pictures again, I am starting to feel like my old self again and am reallllllly feelin myself.

This year, I am seeking creative and spiritual growth, want to take good care of my body and give back to my community that has done so much for me this past year.

So, without further ado… this is my new and improved blog-baby. For those who followed my old blog – thank you for all of your encouraging words over this past year. I am excited to share Health, Habit & Home with all of my family, friends, followers, and all you strangers out there too. The name speaks for itself… our Health, our Habits and our Home really make up the solar system of our lives, while we just orbit and seek balance. I am by no means an expert on… well, anything. I am just a girl in the world looking to have fun, be happy, speak my mind and laugh a little along the way. So * disclaimer * take anything you read on this blog with an open mind and a grain of salt, and if you don’t like it, click the X in this tab and move on. And if you do, read on, comment, email me, share my link, whateva you like… Just keep it positive people!

Playing with Flowers

Life is about the little things. Simple pleasures. And for me, that includes having fresh flowers in my house.

The smell, the colors, the freshness… just thinking about flowers makes me happy.

I spent some time working with an amazing floral company this past year, and learned a lot about floral style. From shabby chic classic like roses and peonies, to modern and bright blooms like irises and spider mums, you can really achieve any sort of mood with your stem selection.

There are some basic concepts about mixing and matching flowers that I find helpful when I am enraptured at the farmer’s market.

Option 1: Different shades of the same color. Color is a great thread connecting a variety of different annual and seasonal blooms. Pinks, yellows, and creams are exceptional colors to experiment with, and can almost always be found year round.

Option 2: Colors that border each other on the color wheel. Think brighter combos like red/orange and orange/yellow, and cooler palettes like blue/purple and purple/red.

Option 3: Combine colors that oppose each other on the color wheel. Since green is neutral, it shouldn’t count in the color clash. Pink and blue or orange and purple are bold pairings that pack a visual punch. Purple and yellow is a common blend that is really nice in the summertime.

Whichever way you choose, make sure you are giving your flowers a shot at living a long life by giving them the light and water they need to thrive. I like to keep mine in mason jars and change the water every three days. I also find that the windowsill is too strong a sun spot for my plants, so I keep mine in the center of the room to take some of the heat off.

 

Playing with Flowers

Southern Style BLT’s

blt biscuits

I draw a lot of inspiration from many mags and sites, but I think AllRecipes is my favorite of all. Whenever I am bored with what’s in my fridge or out of ideas, I just get lost in the digital catalog of delicious/authentic/comforting/creative dishes. My success rate with AllRecipes is pretty high, so when I stumbled across this diddy, I knew I was onto something great.

Let me set the scene: it’s a snowy, freezing cold day in Connecticut. My boyfriend, his family and I were on our second round of missed flights, and we had been cooking elaborate meals for days thinking we would be leaving town. Seeking something quick, easy and warm for lunch, I started trolling AllRecipes in search of something that would comfort us in the cold… and impress the ‘rents of course.

So I came up on the genius idea to make BLT Biscuits. There is something about a biscuit that just warms the soul – or maybe it’s just my southern upbringing. My Aunt Woowa used to hand press her biscuits with lilly white flour. Her soft little hands would guide me through the process and then voila! Biscuits were born! And then slathered with butter, jam, gravy, you name it.

Unfortunately, lilly white flour is not available in this part of the country, and we were in a pinch. So Pillsbury had to do. And surprisingly, they were great! Cheap, convenient, and the perfect size for a high pile of B, L and T.

The key to making these is baking the bacon in the oven – trust me, it makes a HUGE difference!

fixins

pillsbury biscuits

baked bacon

blt biscuits

Heavy Jam Sesh

mixed berry jam

It’s amazing to me that even while the rest of the country is freezing their buns off, we still have it so easy here in San Diego. Sure it’s no surprise that we have pretty perfect weather, world renowned waves and an active lifestyle, but we reap the benefits of nature’s wonders in less superficial ways too. Our valleys are caked with crops, boasting some of the finest fruits and vegetables in the country. In no other state is the occupation of a farmer as popular, and in no other state can you get plentiful produce year round.

My aunt likes to spend her down time celebrating these gifts from the earth with her amazing cooking. Her dishes are vibrant, well balanced and always changing, but every fall I look most forward to her pear preserves. She has explained to me how easy they are to make, that any fruit can really be preserved. I filed the thought away for a rainy day, until I found some inspiration in an unexpected place.

My boyfriend and I took a bike ride to our local produce stand to pick up some veggies for dinner, and there were stacks of cartons of sweet berries at an insanely affordable price, glowing in the summer-like sun. I began researching different jam recipes that day, and after pondering many different varieties, I stuck with my guns and planned to make some simple mixed berry jam – without pectin [ick]

**side note: pectin is a soluble gelatinous polysaccharide [aka carbs] that is present in ripe fruits and is extracted for use as a setting agent in jams and jellies. There are already carbs in fruit, so adding pectin – although helpful – makes jam stick to your ass. Luckily, there are good people in the world who avoid using pectin in lieu of more natural ingredients and processes.

Valentine’s Day was right around the corner, and I wanted to spread some love to my friends – no pun intended. Rarely do I use jam in my own life, however PB&J is one of my guiltiest pleasures, and it’s a great thing to have in the fridge if you have guests over for brunch.

I carved out a few hours to make my first batch of homemade jam, but discovered it was a lot easier and more fun than I had expected. Sure, my jam could have thickened a little more, but most of my friends finished their jars before the end of the month, so maybe I will keep my version of the recipe exactly how it is 🙂

Ingredients

4 cups each of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries

3 cups of sugar

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Directions

Have ready 8 hot, sterilized half-pint jars and their lids. I boiled mine ahead of time, and then popped them into a baking dish and kept them warm in the oven @ 250 degrees while I made the jam 😉

In a large non-reactive saucepan, gently stir together all of the ingredients. Bring saucepan to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently. The original recipe said it should take about 15 minutes for the jam to thicken. I went for about 30 – 45 minutes and it probably could have stayed on longer.

Ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving 1/4 in. of headspace. Wipe the rims clean and seal the lids on tightly.

Place the jars in a bath of boiling water for ten minutes. They can go right into the pantry from there, but must be refrigerated once opened. Enjoy on your favorite gluten free pastry, pancakes, or in a good ol fashioned PB&J.

natural sweeteners

who needs artificial sweeteners when you’ve got the good stuff?

jam jars

Just Peachy berries

blueberries

fresh berries

bubblin berries

playing with burlap

berry special gifts

homemade berry jam

Loving the Pioneer Woman and her Southern Sweetness

Pioneer Woman Whiskey Peach BBQ Chicken

There is something about the Pioneer Woman that reminds me of the cooks in my family. Whether it is her sweet southern demeanor or her knack for making classic comfort foods, I always find myself turning to her for my not-so-healthy-but-raveworthy-recipes.

I was so sick of chicken breast the past couple weeks, I completely ODed. My old roommate was more comfortable cooking with chicken thighs, which I found to be surprisingly delicious (I was always more of a white meat girl, but chicken thighs changed my perspective forever). As I was sitting at the car dealership a couple weeks ago with my dad, I was watching the Pioneer Woman in all her glory at the local super store, stocking up on chicken thighs. I was so eager to see what she was going to make, that I actually hung out in the dealership lobby a little longer after the car was done just to watch LOL.

Long story short, I found the most finger lickin chicken thigh recipe in the land. All you need are some peach preserves, barbecue sauce, green onions and good ol fashion bourbon whiskey. The rest is pretty household stuff, but I did need to buy a new pot just to fit all these juicy thighs.

Ingredients (yields 6 servings)

12 whole chicken thighs

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 yellow onion, diced

1 1/2 cup whiskey

12 fl oz barbeque sauce

1 jar peach preserves

1/2 cup water

2 tbsp worcestershire sauce

4 cloves of garlic, peeled

3 whole green onions, sliced thin

Directions:

Preheat over to 300 degrees. Heat oil and butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Place chicken thighs, four at a time, in the pot (skin side down if yours have skin). Brown both sides, then set aside on a plate.

Pour off half of the grease in the pan, then return pan to stove. Add onions to the pan and stir, cooking for 2 mins. Pour whiskey into the pot, being careful if you’re using an open flame. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan, allowing the whiskey to reduce for a couple of minutes. Pour in bbq sauce, peach preserves, water and worcestershire sauce. Throw in the whole, peeled garlic cloves. Stir until combined, then return the chicken to the pot (skin side up). Cover and put pot in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Used the sliced green onion as a garnish, and serve with your favorite potatoes, quinoa and/or greens!

Pioneer Woman Whiskey Peach BBQ Chicken

Pioneer Woman Whiskey Peach BBQ Chicken

Pioneer Woman Whiskey Peach BBQ Chicken

Pioneer Woman Whiskey Peach BBQ Chicken

rustic roasted reds

chicken paired with rustic roasted red potatoes w/ s+p