a heartfelt diy

| DIY projects

a heartfelt diy
valentine's day is just around the corner. can you believe it? before we know it love birds all around will be booking reservations, planning special dates and buying chocolate hearts. whether you plan on going out or staying in, a little love and celebration is always good for the soul. to spruce up the holiday decor, i love this diy valentine's garland from how about orange.

a heartfelt diy
i think these would be so pretty strung in a window or over a dinner table set for two. jump over to how about orange for the full how-to!

over the rainbow

| handmade inspiration

over the rainbow

{over the rainbow}

{to properly set the mood for this post, make sure to play this!}

just so happens, this is one of my favorite songs! isn't it beautiful? i would love to have this at my work station, to be reminded that dreams really do come true. so far, i can't find it for sale anywhere but you can contact the artist through her flickr page. i hope you have an over-the-rainbow kind of day!

sweet talk: 10 reasons to avoid artificial sweeteners

| simple living

i think we probably all have fallen victim to artificial sweeteners, or at least to some sort of false marketing. years ago, i used to be the queen of splenda as i thought it would be a great way to reduce my calorie intake. welp, i was wrong. it took a little research to find the truth behind artificial sweeteners, but i hope the tid-bit that i share with you today well help answer a few of the questions most people have about using them.

artificial sweeteners

{sweet talk}

10 reasons to avoid artificial sweeteners

1. laboratory made. sucralose (splenda) was actually discovered while trying to create a new insecticide. splenda is made when sugar is treated with trityl chloride, acetic anhydride, hydrogen chlorine, thionyl chloride, and methanol in the presence of dimethylformamide, 4-methylmorpholine, toluene, methyl isobutyl ketone, acetic acid, benzyltriethlyammonium chloride, and sodium methoxide. whew!

2. stevia's effects. though still being researched, stevia has at least one compound which has been converted in the laboratory into a known carcinogen (cancer causing). in the laboratory, it has been shown to cause testicular abnormalities and reduced testosterone levels in males and causes females to give birth to both fewer and smaller offspring.

3. headaches. some people experience increased headaches while using artificial sweeteners. cut out the diet coke and see if your headaches disappear.

4. increased appetite. artificial sweeteners lead to an increased appetite and food intake in some people. since artificial sweeteners are often substantially sweeter than sugar, risk for increased appetite and food consumption runs even higher when vast amounts of the sweeteners are consumed.

5. artificial sweeteners confuse your brain. the enzymes in your mouth begin a cascade that primes your cell receptors for an insulin surge, and when it doesn’t arrive your brain feels cheated.

6. your health. people who use artificial sweeteners are heavier, more likely to have diabetes, and more likely to be insulin-resistant compared with nonusers.

7. aspartame. over the years of its use, aspartame has been blamed for cancer, lupus and multiple sclerosis and some studies indicate cancer in rodents from lifelong use of low doses of aspartame.

8. weight gain. artificial sweeteners have not been shown to promote weight loss, and some studies show that the sweet taste may actually cause more craving of sweets. if you are trying to loose weight, you should avoid artificial sweeteners.

9. decreased serotonin. several studies show that consumption of aspartame can lead to excess levels of phenylalanine (an amino acid that is safe in small doses). that means decreased levels of serotonin in the brain which can lead to depression, anxiety or panic attacks.

10. increased insulin. acesulfame potassium, aka ACK, sweet one, and sunett stimulates insulin secretion, which could cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). it has created lung, breast, thymus gland, and other tumors in rats, as well as leukemia and respiratory disease even in small doses. it is found in baked goods, frozen desserts, candy, drinks, cough drops, and breath mints.

now i know, much of this was awfully scientific. and to further the confusion, most research ends with a disclaimer about how inconclusive it is. my point is, if there is this much debate, uncertainty and probable concern about something- why should i risk it? i would rather err on the side of caution and stick to natural sweeteners.

what is a natural sweetener? things like honey, juice concentrates, dates & raisins, molasses & of course real sugar are delicious and wholesome.

research and recommended reading: artificial sweeteners, artificial sweeteners by the nat'l cancer institute, artificial sweeteners by livestrong, sugar substitutes, artificial sweeteners and diabetes

pattern inspiration

| handmade inspiration

lately, it seems that everywhere i look, patterns have begun to catch my eye. i believe that i have become more aware of them, and have also begun to give them much thought. what it took to create them, the color palette used and what the source of inspiration might have been.

pattern inspiration

pattern inspiration

love wreath

pattern inspiraiton

scandi - colour it yourself

pattern inspiration

apple blossom meadow

pattern inspiration

brie harrison

patterns inspire me. from the textured tiles on a sidewalk to how the clouds align above, to the patterned packages along the isles in whole foods. patterns surround me and they nourish my creativity.

dear friends, what nourishes your creativity?

butternut squash and red onion pasta

| seasonal recipes

recipe time! i made this roasted butternut squash and red onion pasta last night and boy was it yummy. it goes together quickly and makes for an easy kitchen clean-up, too. perfect for guests!

butternut squash and red onion pasta


- 1 medium butternut squash

- 1 medium red onion; sliced

- 2 cups fresh spinach

- 16 oz of pasta (i used campanelle)

- 1 tbs olive oil

- 1 tsp sage

- 1/2 tsp thyme

salt & pepper to taste

*make sure to preserve 1 cup of the salty pasta water as you drain the pasta

butternut squash and red onion pasta


preheat the oven to 450°F. quarter, peel, remove the seeds and chop the butternut squash in 1" pieces (to help peel the squash, you may boil it in about an inch of water for ~15 mins first). toss the squash and the onion together with the olive oil and the herbs and place on a baking sheet. roast in the oven until browned, about 25 minutes. meanwhile, bring some salted water to a boil and add the pasta; cook until al dente and drain, preserving about 1 cup of the salty water. remove the squash mixture from the oven and toss with the pasta, fresh spinach and reserved pasta water. serve and enjoy!

tastes orangey

| handmade

tastes orangey


"A warm bath, a cool day
your heavy arms collapse
a place both near and far away
is tiled with slippery traps.
Be careful when you leave the tub
the steam is rising tall
no matter how you grasp and pull
your towel is bound to fall."

tastes orangey


tastes orangey


"We lay content in the warm light of afternoon.
The world may tell us there's no time to nap, but we will show the world."

tastes orangey


tastes orangey


"Between Two Ferns,
but not as funny
we lie in bed, you call me honey
we laugh because we don't have money
I pinch your nose and it is runny!"

i could immediately tell that there were a couple of love bunnies behind this shop, as it oozes cutesy romance, love and happy poems! you can tell that the adorable clare and her husband-to-be kai have a sweetness about them, which shows up through their work. visit tastes orangey to see more of clare's sewn paintings and windy lane studio to see her fiance's beautiful work- even a portrait of her!

peppermint mocha latte recipe with ashley pahl

| handmade

hello dear ones! today i have a very special treat for you! since so many of you were interested in last week's espresso post, i've invited the lovely ashley pahl to share with you a few of her scrumptious coffee recipes! she's such a sweetheart and i just know that you're going to love her (and her recipes). you can expect to see her for next the month or so as she shares one delicious recipe with you each week. to get to know her, make sure to check out her beautiful blog and etsy shop. enjoy! xo, bonnie


peppermint mocha latte

One of my favorite weekend treats is a trip to the coffee shop for a latte and some "Me time." As enjoyable as this outing can be, those $4.50 drinks can really add up, and especially in the winter, it's more fun to stay warm inside. Enter: the DIY latte.

Drinking lattes at home is no longer for the privileged; espresso machines are very affordable these days, and if an espresso machine isn't in the cards, very bold, dark roasted coffee can be substituted in these recipes.

For those of you who still have a a stash of candy canes from the holidays, they're the perfect finishing touch for this warm, wintry drink!

peppermint mocha latte
Peppermint Mocha Latte
makes two drinks


Peppermint syrup
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

mocha "syrup"
- 6 tbsp cocoa powder
- 6 tbsp warm water

- 4 ounces brewed espresso
- 4 - 5 ounces steamed milk

Optional toppings:
- whipped cream
- chocolate sprinkles
- cocoa powder
- crushed candy cane

peppermint mocha latte


Begin with the peppermint syrup. If you've ever made simple syrup for cocktails, it starts out with the same idea: bring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil; once the boil is reached, add the peppermint extract and lower temperature to a simmer. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. This process allows the alcohol in the peppermint extract to burn off, and the end result is a very sweet, peppermint-y syrup. Don't have peppermint extract? Here is a recipe using candy canes.

Meanwhile, add three tablespoons of cocoa powder and three tablespoons of warm water each into two mugs. Then stir into thin paste. Personally, I do not add sugar into the chocolate syrup because there is enough sugar in the peppermint syrup; however, if you like a very sweet drink, this is a good recipe for chocolate syrup.

Next, brew four ounces of espresso, and then steam four to five ounces of milk, making sure there is froth on top. Pour two ounces of brewed espresso into each mug; follow espresso with the steamed milk, holding back the froth with a spoon. If you want more information on brewing espresso or steaming milk, check out this guide from Coffee Geek!

Once the milk is poured, spoon the leftover froth onto each cup, and pour in 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup of peppermint syrup (depending on how sweet or strong you like your flavored lattes). Top off with whipped cream, sprinkles, crushed candy canes, or a little cocoa powder.

A little note
Do make the peppermint syrup - don't just try adding peppermint extract to a mocha latte - the result will be unpleasantly bitter!

cofee with indie pretty projects

ashley paul indie pretty projectAshley has been coffee-crazy since college when her husband bought her an espresso machine for Christmas. Armed with a pot of dark roast, she spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her self-titled Etsy shop.


| handmade

wendy jug ceramics
i think these ceramic night lights from wendy jug are just dreamy. for those of us without a fireplace, these would be a great alternative as they create such warmth and coziness. i can see them set back in an old fireplace well or huddled together on a mantle. placed on your nightstand for a romantic touch or an added soft light to a comfortable reading nook. no matter where, i love their glow.