skip the paper towels

| simple living

i haven't bought a roll of paper towels in 5 years. many years ago when i started learning about our environment and what effect we have on it, i quickly felt a personal responsibility to reduce my impact. first on the list was to cut out any unnecessary items. what was first? paper towels! they are a convenience we simply can't afford. we just don't need 'em. here are some quick statistics:

- americans send 3,000 tons of paper towels to landfills each day.

- 51,000 trees per day are required to replace the number of paper towels that are discarded every day.

- the paper industry is the third largest contributor to global warming.

ready for the solution? switch to cute cloth napkins and dish towels!

vintage napkins
if your household uses one roll of paper towels per week, you could save more than $100 per year by switching to dishcloths, tea towels and napkins. plus, how darling is it to hand out cute vintage napkins to your guests rather than paper towels?!

think you can make the switch?

vintage napkins:

{row 1: 60's neon splash napkins, gray and burgundy napkins, vintage napkins}
{row 2: rust rose circa 1950, lime green linen dinner napkins, mod rust and brown linen napkins}
{row 3: turquoise and fruit napkins, vintage earthtoned colored napkins, linen harvest dinner napkins}

simple living
resources: 1800recycling, a lighter footprint

{the best} chocolate chip cookies

| seasonal recipes

i'm pretty sure i married the cookie monster. personally, i'm a brownie kinda gal, but one thing's for sure- i definitely married into a cookie family. and i count that as a good thing, as i've grown to appreciate the scrumptious rounds tremendously.

best chocolate chip cookies

this is my mom-in-law (aka cookie queen)'s recipe, and it's tried, true, and totally delicious. at her house, they are made at least 2-3x a week, and though it's much less at our house (sorry, dave!) they are definitely our favorite dessert.

of course, we were a bit frightened about what our latest vegan adventure would mean for this favorite recipe, but i'm happy to say that with a few vegan substitutes they turned out just as good- honestly! i couldn't believe it.. below, i'll give you the original recipe as well as our vegan substitutes. yum yum!


- 1 cup butter {vegan sub: earth balance butter}
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
mix above ingredients in an electric mixer.

- 2 eggs {vegan sub: 1/2 cup of apple sauce OR 2 flax eggs}
mix again!

- 2-1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt

- 12 oz vegan chocolate chips and mix

spoon out onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 375°F for 12-15 mins- enjoy!

little brown pen

| photography

little brown penthis morning i feel as though i've strolled the streets of paris, visted market after market and filled my bicycle basket to the rim with fresh cut flowers- all from the comfort of my own desk! little brown pen is a creative studio by evan and nichole robertson in paris, france, and i think the way they capture the country's beauty is stunning. with an eye for pops of color, you can follow their paris color project where they tell stories of color in the city of light.
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DIY Vanilla Extract with Ashley Pahl

| cooking ideas | DIY projects

a note from bonnie! happy monday, lovelies! since ashley pahl's drink recipes have been such a huge hit, i'm very excited to share with you today that she's coming on board as a weekly contributor- this time for a weekly diy project! to learn more about her (and just how adorably-sweet she is) make sure to head on over to her blog, indie pretty projects and check out her lovely etsy shop as well. now, won't you join me in a big warm welcome for her?


lemon poppy seeds

I've been cooking a lot more lately, and I've just started to realize how expensive real vanilla extract is - almost $4.00 for one ounce! Long ago I saw a recipe for DIY vanilla extract, and it's amazing how easy and cost effective it is - it came out to $1.01 per ounce! This would be even cheaper if you bought ingredients in bulk.


1 vanilla bean

3 ounces of vodka

air-tight container


Starting 1/2" from top of vanilla bean, slice length-wise down the bean, and stop 1/2" from bottom of bean. fold bean in half, and place in air-tight container. Fill the container to the top with vodka. Store in a dark place for two months, when it is ready to use. Shake occasionally.

Glass containers with corks would work perfectly - I used a plastic, screw-top bottle I picked up at Hobby Lobby. Handmade vanilla extract makes a fantastic gift - even after the extract is used up, the bottle with the bean still in it can be re-filled with vodka to make extract again.

My extract started out clear as vodka, but within two days it has already darkened some - I can't wait to try it out in a couple of months.

Have you tried making your own vanilla extract before? How did it turn out? Have you tried making any other kinds of extract for cooking?

ashley paul indie pretty projectOut to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

sponsor welcome: starshaped press

| sponsor welcome

starshaped press
starshaped press takes me back to a simpler time. all of their work is letterpress the old school way, as they use beautiful antique metal and wood typefaces and ornaments. no computers here! and the results are both timeless and outstanding.

starshaped press
this every heart beat print is extra-special. all of the proceeds from this $10 print will be going to the stella b foundation in buffalo, ny where two of the starshaped press ladies will be participating in a 5k this may. the foundation helps families with children fighting long term or terminal medical conditions. in fact, it's helped jen's little niece who has heart disease travel to get to one of her pediatric cardiologists. what a wonderful foundation to support!

a little is a lot

| simple living

live love eat balloons

{live love eat balloons by anek}

if you follow me on the old twitter thang, you might know that my mister recently decided to start eating vegan. i'm a supporter of both all things healthy and him, so it made me excited, but quickly made me wonder, 'what does this mean for me'? since i'm the cook, it certainly has some heavy implications for our dinners at home. but remembering why i think being vegan is such a good idea in the first place, i quickly decided to at least give it a try. why not? i find myself emotionally attached to dairy (but no longer meat, as i gave that up a long time ago). but isn't that kind of strange? why are we as a culture so attached to dairy? no other culture in the world is! i think i can live without it. especially with all the yummy alternatives there are these days.

but i immediately started being self-conscious of what people would think. i didn't want to tell anyone. more important then them just thinking i was a real quack, i didn't want them to judge me. saying your vegan these days comes with a pretty hefty toll. people judge. and hard. i can just hear them saying, "you say you're vegan but you're wearing leather shoes?" and then immediately dismissing me. i don't think that's fair.

in fact, i still plan on eating honey. local, raw, organic honey. it's good and incredibly good for you (remember?).

i still own some leather shoes and david will still wear is favorite leather belt. we're not perfect. we drive a big nasty car that only gets 20 miles to the gallon. i'm not proud of that, but you know what? i am proud of what we ARE doing. and i'm proud of each and every little thing that you are doing.

why are people so often negative to people who are trying to do good? i guess what i'm saying is that i don't like labels. vegetarian, raw foodist, vegan, paleo, locavore, freegan, pescatarian, fruititarian (just google these for some fun reads). if you can stick to it, great. but i think by labeling ourselves, we sign ourselves up for failure- and maybe (just maybe) even to be judged by others.

i'm interested in being the healthiest i can be. does that most closely resemble a vegan diet? yes. will it always? probably not. might i get chickens again and eat gorgeous, local and organic eggs right from my own back yard? probably.

i want to celebrate the good things. i want to lift up every conscious decision we as human beings make- no matter how great or how small. i'm proud of anyone who cares, even if it's just by a little.

so what do you do? i want to hear about it. do you have meatless mondays at your house? did you bike to work? pee in the shower to save water? did you pass up one burger from a fast food restaurant last week? did you buy something organic? support a local farm?

even if it's one decision, one time- i think it makes a huge difference and i want to know about it. i want to celebrate you.

on the flip side: even though you're a vegetarian, did you eat a piece of meat last week? confession time! are you vegans hiding honey in your cabinets? any paleo's out there still eating chocolate? i know you're out there, so fess up! i'll start in the comments section.

i want to start erasing labels and removing stereotypes from those of us who are just trying to do some good. we're not perfect. i want to acknoledge the greatest gift we have on this earth- the ability to make our own decisions about what we will and will not put in our mouths.

i want to celebrate you!

i'll 'meat' you in the comments section.

nourishing notes

| handmade

nourishing notes
seriously? maybe the cutest cards i've ever seen. a big thank you to jen for introducing me to these perfectly named nourishing notes: greetings that combine all things food, laughter and letterpress!  let's make whoopie, holy mole it's your birthday and whey to go are among my favorites, though it's hard to pick just three.  each card has a corresponding recipe idea or helpful kitchen hint on the back and each are letterpressed by hand using soy inks. yes, please! perfect for all lovers of food.

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