Lakehouse Living

We’ve been at the lake since Friday night and we took today off to continue the fun. Be back with regular posts tomorrow!

Homemade Calendula Oil

Every month, Heather joins us over here to share her knowledge and love of herbs! Last month she shared how to create your own aloe vera gel and this month she’s sharing how to create your own Calendula oil + how to incorporate it into a recipe! Enjoy and be sure to look her up over on Tea With Me.

Known as the pot marigold, Calendula has been growing in pots since ancient Rome.  Originally from Europe and Africa, you can find the golden petals in beautiful gardens around the world.  This herb should be one of your first go to plants when it comes to an herbal first aid kit. With healing properties from anti-inflammatory to antifungal; Calendula is famous for helping with minor cuts and bites, skin rashes, and internal inflammation (lymph nodes).

Most people think of Calendula as a medicinal herb, using calendula oil as a base for salves and lotions. Instead of a DIY for a salve this month, I wanted to introduce you to the spice side of the marigold. Calendula makes a very light floral oil, that is delicious with balsamic vinegar. The smell is divine and if you love dipping crusty bread into oil and vinegar, this combo is the way to go. We’ve been experiencing a heat wave recently and I wanted something light and refreshing – a chicken salad with homemade calendula oil.

There are two ways to make calendula oil – cold or hot infusion. The cold infusion oil steeps the herb/oil in the sun for a minimum of a week, whereas the hot infusion takes four hours over a low heated saucepan.

Cold Infusion

  • Start with a very clean and sanitized jar (especially if you are going to use the oil for medicinal purposes.)
  • Fill with calendula petals up to the top.
  • Pour olive oil (the higher quality the better) over the petals to the top. Secure lid.
  • Place in a well sun light lit area and shake once every other day for a minimum of a week.
  • Drain petals and replace oil in jar.  Secure lid.

Hot Infusion

  • Again start with a clean and sanitized jar.
  • Fill calendula petals and oil to the top.
  • Then pour contents into a small saucepan.
  • Heat on low for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Let cool. Drain petals from oil. Add oil to jar, secure lid.

Chicken Salad with Calendula Oil Dressing
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Heather Mulholland
Ingredients
  • Calendula oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 
Cracked black pepper
  • Spinach
  • 
Raw beets, shredded
  • Raw carrots, shredded
  • 
Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cooked chicken breast, sliced
  • Calendula petals
Instructions
  1. In the bottom of a large bowl, mix your oil, vinegar, and cracked pepper together.
  2. Place spinach, beets and carrots into the salad bowl and mix to coat.
  3. Sprinkle seeds on top of the salad.
  4. Lay sliced chicken breast on top.
  5. Sprinkle dried calendula petals on top. Serve and enjoy!
Notes

Note – The above ingredients have no amounts, use your judgment in how big you wish your salad to be and how much dressing you wish to consume (I like my salad lightly coated.) I use a 1:1 ratio for oil and vinegar.

 

Good Goods

Despite being on a spending freeze, I still keep track of some lovely goods that I’ve come across via blogs or Instagram. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a screenshot of something someone has posted because I don’t want to forget it. Sometimes I wish there were better ways to “bookmark” photos in my Instagram feed. More on that later. Here are some of the more recent goods that I’ve either tried or added to my wishlist:

  1. 12oz Keep Cup: I snagged one of these with my Fab credits. If you sync your Fab account with Facebook, you receive $5 of credit per month. That combined with the credits I receive from referral links, I can usually try a few new things per month! It’s a great site and one of my favorites.
  2. Too Faced Eye Shadow Primer: It’s the best I’ve used. I love Candlelight shade and got a sample from my friend Jess awhile ago. Once I’m out, I’ll probably buy a full tube.
  3. GLOSS Moderne High Gloss Masque: This stuff is AMAZING. Makes my hair so, so soft when I decide to blow it out. It makes my hair smell like coconuts. I only have a sample from my Birchbox but I hope to buy a full size with Birchbox points.
  4. Apivita’s Pomegranate Lip Care: I saw this in a magazine and have been wanting to give it a try. Only $7! Anyone try it before?
  5. Gather Journal: Looks beautiful and I can’t wait to get my hands on an issue someday.
  6. Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Saw that Elise was reading this and made a note.
  7. Erin Templeton’s Recycled Leather Card Case: I need something to keep all my business cards. This seems perfect.

 Anything on your wishlist lately?

Here We Go: Following Blogs

Here We Go is back (after a bit of a hiatus while I finished up my day job) and I’m excited to be talking about blog following today! There are so many ways in which you can keep tabs on your favorite blogs and, in turn, allow others to follow yours! I don’t claim to know everything about some of these methods but I’m willing to share my thoughts and opinions!

Before I begin, I would like to say that I think everyone should have an RSS feed set up for their own blog. This is a link that you can use to connect to your RSS button on your blog or even use when signing up for sites like HelloCotton. You can create an RSS feed via Feedburner and the nice thing is that if you someday were to move your blog…your RSS feed will transfer and stay the same! Now onto a few methods:

GOOGLE READER:

I predominately use Google Reader to keep track of the blogs that I love. I’ve kept the total number of subscriptions to 63 and it’s very manageable. As you can see, I have about 8 categories and try to really only subscribe to blogs that I wouldn’t want to miss.

Pros: Easy way to organize, keeps tabs on all my favorites (starred), simple, attached to my Google account, easy way to search

Cons: Strips the blogs of their style, still sometimes feels clunky, no easy way to share posts

BLOGLOVIN’:

Bloglovin’ has been around for awhile. I wrote a post awhile back about Google Reader vs Bloglovin’ and decided to stick with Google Reader. After signing up for an account, it allows you to follow other blogs (while claiming your own and adding it to their directory). Here are my pros and cons:

Pros: Simple design

Cons: While it allows you to “remove frame,” (screenshot below) which will allow people to click directly to your blog, it sure did take awhile for this setting to click over after I changed it. I don’t like how delayed Bloglovin’ is when updating the “unread” + “read” posts. Overall, I find this interface to be a bit confusing and I don’t enjoy reading blogs when I’m signed in. I also don’t think that my landing page forms a connection with new readers (image above).

HELLOCOTTON:

I’m new to Hellocotton (I joined last weekend) and so far, I’m pretty impressed! In order to join, you must sign up and essentially create a profile. You can import your own blog information to join the directory and then choose blogs (based on categories) to follow. It reminds me of Bloglovin’ but (in my opinion) it’s better.

Pros: I like that your blog’s landing page is more engaging and allows followers to “like,” “comment,” and “share!” Like Bloglovin’, you can choose to remove their frame so that when someone clicks to read more…the traffic comes directly to your blog (image below). Personally, I find it easier to find popular blogs through Hellocotton and can see myself using it to follow DIY, fitness and fashion blogs that I don’t necessarily want to add to my small curated list on Google Reader.

Cons: It’s targeted (it’s blatantly stated) towards women. I don’t only read blogs by women and I like to branch out of the lifestyle/fashion clique often. If you’re every interested in some other cons, check out this great post by Dolly Rouge.

TWITTER LISTS:

I love using my  private Twitter list to keep track of blogs that I don’t necessarily subscribe to via Google Reader. I chose not to make it public because I didn’t want the pressure of keeping it updated + accurate. I like that I can add bloggers or remove them without that hanging over my head.

Pros: I always see when a blog post gets tweeted out, I can interact in real time with these bloggers, and it keeps it personal! Twitter crosses that line from following a static blogger to forming real relationships.

Cons: Sometimes you’ll miss posts if you’re away from Twitter for awhile. There’s only so much you can read days later. Also, sometimes when I’m sifting through this list, it’s harder to comment on posts since I’m on my phone.

Some other options that I didn’t go into detail about: subscribe via email and Google Friend Connect.

  • Subscribe via email: Here’s a great article about how to set it up for your blog. I have a link in my sidebar for those that want posts sent directly to their inbox!
  • Google Friend Connect: This service has been expired since March 2012 for all non-Blogger blogs so I’m not really going to go into any details. If you’re interested in an alternative, check out this post by Google.

I hope this post helps clear up any differences about each service. Like I mentioned above, I don’t know all so please comment below with any other “pros” and “cons” or other services that I didn’t mention! How do you subscribe to blogs? What do you wish you saw more? What do you wish you saw less?

Follow my blog via Hellocotton | Bloglovin’ | RSS | Email | Twitter

Spending Freeze Update

Oops. Totally not a real excuse but I had to admit it. I tweeted it last week while I was in Chicago and I take full responsibility. For what it’s worth…it was only $30 and so I don’t feel quite as bad. The lamest part? I didn’t even try it on so I don’t even know if it fits. Hmm…I need to do that.

Besides that, it hasn’t been TOO tough. It’s the most difficult when I physically go into stores. I bought a few birthday presents for friends a few weeks ago and it sort of helped that I could still purchase something before I left. Here are some tips and ways around those spending cravings:

1. Round up all those clothes you never wear and take them into Plato’s Closet. I took some stuff I never wore and got $10 and then bought a pair of gold knock-off Sperry’s there for $6! Walked out with $4 cash (don’t laugh…I plan on buying a magazine with that!)

2. Sign up through Fab.com and get all your friends & family to sign up and purchase stuff! You get credit when they make their first purchase of $25 or more. I also just got a $10 credit recently because an old order was delayed in shipping. Combined with my $5 credit/month for connecting my Fab account to Facebook…I snagged this laptop case for free! (I’ve been on Fab for a year and have received $245 in credits. FREE STUFF PEOPLE! Sign up here.)

3. Cold brew your coffee. Seriously. If you’re tempted to stop at a Starbucks during these summer mornings…you need to do this. We cold brew now and each have a cold drink tumbler that we take with us if we’re on the go. Spending $2-4 daily on drinks is dumb. (We use this recipe.)

4. Be realistic and budget. Just because I’m on a spending freeze doesn’t mean I sit in my house and drink water all day. We are realistic with our budget and know to allot a realistic amount of money when we have trips, birthday parties, events or weddings to attend! If you budget $0 because you’re “on a spending freeze” you’ll just force yourself into a situation where you will spend money but without a cap.

Well there’s my little update. I’m still 48 days out so I’ll be updating you all again next month! Any other tips from you who have mastered these freezes? 

 

Relish: Salmon Pita with Creamy Mustard Sauce and Caprese Salad

There’s something about eating one of these salmon pitas that just tastes like summer. These recipes for the salmon and sauce were inspired by this salmon burger recipe on the Eating Well website. The caprese salad is a long-time favorite for my wife and me, and it’s so easy to make. Plus, it really does add to the summery feel of the dish.

I bought packaged salmon with skin from Trader Joe’s, so I had to cut off the skin. This is no easy task, so I definitely recommend having it done for you if possible. I found that if you can get your knife a little ways in right along the skin, you can hold the skin against the cutting board with your fingers and then push outward and slightly upward with the knife while maintaining a slightly downward angle of the blade. I know, it sounds tricky, but this is probably a good skill to have anyway, right?

Caprese salad can be different depending on what you love most. If you’re a mozzarella superfan, then you might have giant slices of mozzarella with a tiny tomato slice and a tiny basil leaf. If you can’t get enough of tomatoes, then perhaps yours will look like a mound of tomato slices over a bit of mozzarella with a sprinkling of basil. My personal recommendation is a 1-to-1 ratio in overall amount of mozzarella and tomato, plus a medium-sized basil leaf and about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of olive oil per portion. Some people add salt and pepper, but I really don’t think they’re necessary. And while this is called a salad, I definitely think fingers are acceptable utensils.

The salmon pita is really pretty simple to make, and it’s a good lunch to bring to work. If you bring a pita and little tupperware containers of salmon and sauce and microwave the salmon a bit, then you’ve got a tasty sandwich with which to make your coworkers jealous. Plus, there’s the major benefit of salmon being so good for you, and if you use low-fat or fat-free sour cream and Greek yogurt, this whole meal is excellent.

Relish: Salmon Pita with Creamy Mustard Sauce and Caprese Salad
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Jon Schelander-Pugh
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • Salmon (about 1 lb. Salmon fillet, skinned)
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • optional splash of beer (no more than 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Creamy Mustard Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 tablespoon capers, strained
Instructions
  1. If your salmon still has skin on it, remove it now. This can be done by inserting a long sharp knife between the meat and skin starting on the tail side, holding the skin against the cutting board, and moving the knife along at a very slightly downward angle while maintaining a slightly upward force. Really, the best thing to do is to get your salmon fresh from the seller and ask them to remove the skin when you buy it.
  2. Cut your salmon into cubes of about 1/4 inch. Try using as little back-and-forth motion as possible to avoid making the salmon mushy. Place the salmon in a medium bowl
  3. Finely chop your garlic and shallots. Add to the salmon and carefully mix.
  4. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and lemon juice and carefully mix. I find that I occasionally enjoy drinking a beer while cooking, and this is a recipe that works to just splash a little beer in while mixing. So if this works for you, give it a try. Use no more than a tablespoon of beer.
  5. Place salmon mixture in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, and up to 1 hour
  6. While salmon is chilling, mix together the Greek yogurt, sour cream, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, paprika, and ground mustard in another medium bowl. Add the dried parsley and dried dill and mix in. Finally, add the strained capers and mix in. I prefer my capers whole, but if you want them to be blended in, pulse the whole mixture a few times in a food processor.
  7. In a large skillet, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, or enough to coat the bottom. Place over medium heat and add the salmon. When you hear it begin to sizzle, stir for about 4 minutes. After that, let it sit for another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the salmon starts to slightly brown, remove it from the heat.
  8. Cut a pita in half and place a little bed of lettuce in the pocket of each. Stuff with salmon and then drizzle in the sauce.
  9. For a truly summery dish experience, make a side of caprese salad by thinly slicing fresh mozzarella, then topping the mozzarella slices with tomato slices and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and salt & pepper to taste.

 

Chicago, Chicago

A mini trip to Chicago had been in the works since last November when we bought tickets to see Coldplay at the United Center. Obviously when you plan THAT far in advance, you have no idea that you’d be just starting out freelancing full-time or that your husband would only be in his 4th full week at his new job. Nevertheless, we jumped in the car and headed off to Illinois on Tuesday night, picked up my siblings and headed up to the city! I absolutely love Chicago and hate that we’re six hours away.

We stayed downtown, went shopping (oops I cheated on my spending freeze! I bought a $30 dress for a wedding!) and went to the Coldplay concert on Wednesday night. IT WAS AMAZING. I’ve been to 8 Coldplay concerts now and I must say that it was the most entertaining of them all. A lot of people hate on Coldplay but I’ve loved them since 2001 and will never stop. I’ve been to almost every Coldplay concert with my friend Megan and it was so great to add another one to our list. Every single person got a free wristband before it started and at various times throughout the concert they would all light up at the same time, flashing and blinking. It felt like I was in outer space surrounded by a 30,000 stars.

I walked away from the experience and spending time in Chicago with a few thoughts:

  1. Spend more time in Chicago (professionally and personally). Most of my family lives there and some of my best friends. It’s very near and dear to my heart.
  2. Create amazing experiences through my business and what I do. Johnny Cupcakes focused on this when I saw him speak at WMC Fest earlier this year. Spending the extra money and creating something memorable is always worth it. That concert was exactly that.
  3. My siblings are amazing. I’m 10 years older than my sister and six years older than my brother but they are two of my most favorite people on this earth and it’s so fun to spend time with them.

Now it’s Friday and since I essentially just HAD a weekend, I foresee a bit of working in my future this weekend. Do you have any fun plans?

CITY GUIDE: Providence

Today’s City Guide is brought to you by Erika of Foxtrot Press! Be sure to follow her on Twitter!

Providence is a unique, thriving community of artists, entrepreneurs and craftsmen. With both RISD and Brown University calling Providence home, it’s hard not to have an eclectic mix of people, places and events. You can walk the city easily and that’s one of the best ways to discover some great places.

The RISD Museum has been a staple of the Providence art scene. Boasting a huge collection that ranges from pre-historic artifacts to Picasso’s to modern day pieces, the museum is definitely worth a visit. I love nothing more than going in on a Sunday afternoon and wandering around, just taking it all in. I find the collection to be so impressive that I constantly find new pieces that I had never noticed upon previous visits. Also, the Chace Center, which is the newest addition to the museum, always has an interesting exhibition, be it an exhibition of glass works by Dale Chihuly or an exhibition of work by the RISD faculty.

If getting down and dirty and making something is more your cup of tea, head over to AS220’s Printshop, Labs and Media Arts. AS220 has really made the artist’s community available to everyone. You can learn how to operate the Vandercook Proofing Press or Takach Etching Press to make prints, create unique 3D objects by using the laser cutter or transform some old photograph negatives into Cyanotype prints. Workshops are offered every month that can introduce you to a whole new process or take your knowledge to the next level.

With all of the artwork seeing and creating, you can definitely work up an appetite. Providence is known for its amazing food and there is no lack of variety here. Stop by Viva Mexico (conveniently located next to the AS220 Printshop) for an authentic mexican meal, grab a falafel wrap or gyro at East Side Pockets on Thayer Street or head to Federal Hill for some of the best Italian meals (seriously, any place on the Hill is fantastic).

My favorite Providence eatery and bar to stop by is Tini. As it’s name suggests, the restaurant is, well, teeny. Seating only about 20 people around the marble and stainless steel bar, it’s an intimate dining experience. Cocktails and entrees are constantly changed, depending on the season and what the local farmer’s are able to provide. There are some regular dishes and drinks you can always count on, such as the Tini Weenie (the best gourmet hot dog I’ve ever come across) and George’s Pink Margarita. Occasionally, Tini will offer drink making courses where you learn how to create different cocktails and get to munch on some yummy snacks (gruyere and portabello mushroom crepes, anyone?).

Providence also offers many unique boutiques, if you’re on the hunt for an outfit that no one else has or just want to surprise someone with a handmade gift. Westminster Street is home to some of my favorite Providence shops (along with even more fabulous places to grab a bite to eat). My favorite shop to find funny, creative gifts is Craftland. Every item in the shop is handmade, with most products created by local artists. They have a wide variety of items from fun letterpress cards to beautiful ceramic cups and bowls to huge, lighted marquee letters (check out that exclamation point!). The shop also has a gallery space which showcases talented, local artists.

Queen of Hearts and Modern Love is a boutique that’s across the street from Craftland. QOH is the clothes side of the shop whereas Modern Love is my go to place for shoes. Both shops have a kitschy-vintage soul to them, with shoes being propped upon old record players and accessories being displayed on old type drawers. I’ve been known to stop in to “window shop” and leave with whole new outfits. Karen Beebe, fashion designer and owner of QOH and Modern Love, has done a fantastic job curating both shops with items you can’t find elsewhere. Plus, everything is reasonably priced so you can be fashionable without breaking the bank.

Whether you’re here to eat, see some art, shop or relax, Providence has you covered on all fronts.

Featured image by Stephen Downes.

Let’s Talk About You

Last weekend I “attended” Blog Brunch and (like always) walked away with so many new ideas. One idea that I loved was trying to learn MORE about your readers. It’s easy for me to just blog puke every day but who just wants that? Here’s the thing, I can’t keep track of every blog that interests me and there are so many times that I interact with people through my blog but never really get to learn more about them! I feel like I know you all by name/avatar but I want to know more!

So here’s my plea: TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF! Below I’ve listed 5 questions. Feel free to copy and paste the list into the comment section and answer them below! I hope to do this once a month.

  1. Where do you live? Be as generic or specific as you want.
  2. What do you do for a living? What are you doing when feel like you’re really living?
  3. You have to move out of your house in 5 minutes. What items do you grab?
  4. What’s one brand that has your loyalty?
  5. Share a link to your blog!

Let’s Connect

Now that I’m freelancing full-time, I decided to reassess and improve the ways in which I can connect with others. It’s easy to join every social network but it’s harder to be intentional (and use your accounts for different/unique purposes). I’ve listed the different places that I connect with others and how exactly I like to use them:

1. Twitter // @alliepal

I use Twitter daily (sometimes even hourly). Half of the people I interact with are local and the other half are designers/creatives. I schedule 6-9 tweets to go out throughout the day via Timely.is. Scheduled tweets can feel a bit impersonal but since I’m always around to respond…I don’t feel as bad. Half of the tweets that get sent out are links to interesting articles that I’ve come across recently and the other half are links to my own blog posts. I feel that Twitter is a great way to stay relevant and personal. I find and meet great bloggers, designers, and local entrepreneurs every day! While I do follow over 1,000 people, I keep everyone in private lists and focus on keeping tabs on them that way. For example: I have a list of close friends and so I can check that easily in the morning and throughout the day focus on my blogger list, designer list, client list, etc.

2. Instagram // @alliepal

Instagram is by far my favorite online community. I decided to be really picky and specific when deciding who to follow and follow back. I wanted to keep it visually stimulating and inspiring and so when I launch the app on my iPhone, I’m usually smiling while I scroll. I often feel that the Instagram community that I’ve curated is a positive one and I love being a part of it. There are some people that I follow on Instagram that I don’t necessarily follow on Twitter because their images (in my opinion) resonate with me more than their tweets! Simple as that.

3. Facebook // allisonlehmandesign

I’ve really dropped the ball when it comes to my Facebook page. I used to update it a lot with recent designs but as I got sucked into my office job, it really became scarce. I’m excited to bring the page back to life and focus on freelance living snapshots from my iPhone, tips, and blurbs from current books that are challenging me. Facebook and I have a weird relationship and I’ve cut my personal account down to about 45 close friends and family.

4. Pinterest // @alliepal

I’m most excited to start using Pinterest more intentionally! To me, Pinterest always seemed a bit pointless (while simultaneously sucking me in). I’ve decided to use it as a place to share a few specific things:

  1. Gluten-free recipes + products
  2. My own blog posts (sporadically)
  3. Design resources
  4. Mood boards with clients

Also, I started a new Instagram account (@glutenfreepal) and Tumblr yesterday that will focus on my healthy + gluten-free lifestyle. I’m hoping to add more random recipes and tips to the Tumblr as time goes on. Feel free to follow and ask questions!

How do you handle your social media accounts? Any accounts that you’ve really enjoyed that I’m not currently a part of? What’s your pet peeve when it comes to these sites? I’d love to hear from you all!