balcony garden

my new favorite spot is the corner seat on my balcony where I can see just about all there is to see, including my mini balcony garden.

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I’m growing some basil, mint, cilantro along with some d e l i c i o u s lettuce and the cutest of strawberries.

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of course at the rate I’m producing berries we’re going to have one a week, which doesn’t make for a very good shortcake season, now does it?

I’m hoping to make up for the lack of berries with some home grown tomatoes, which I use in my new favorite breakfast: softboiled eggs and tomatoes. (I had no idea this combo was so amazing) I’ve gotten into the habit of boiling 8-10 eggs (6min, 30 seconds) at the beginning of the week and keeping them peeled and in the fridge so I can just pull them out and have a fresh creamy soft boiled egg whenever I need one. (highly recommend)

 

served with salt and pepper and a twist trader joes every day seasoning blend: delightful. (I use that stuff on everything)

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every night, even if I don’t sit out on the balcony, I try to get a photo of the sunset, and every night it does not disappoint.

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I’m looking forward to an entire summer of every changing horizons and fresh produce from my balcony garden!

xo

All images © 2013-2019 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

new life.

well friends, it’s been a while. *checks calendar*

yep, almost a year! I’m sitting in a new apartment, and hey, if you’re keeping track, this is our fifteenth move since 2009! this one, though, is finally starting to feel like home. we overlook the lake and a bunch of green–the effect of which cannot be underestimated.

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as an added bonus, every night we get a sunset show

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b r e a t h t a k i n g 

we’ve done a lot of downsizing, purging of things along the way (remember we lived in our car for a year) so over the past two years, we’ve been slowly adding things, with the thought that eventually we may be living a back on the road in a van or an RV. (a girl can dream) so, with that in mind our choices have been focused on function and design; less impulse buys.

living with less is generally a great way to exist anyway (Marie Kondo I was on to this way before your cute little netflix gig) the absense of clutter helps me focus; there’s less to clean, it’s brighter!

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I’ll be doing a full post on the design / things I made or bought for the apartment within the next few weeks. 

oh i almost forgot!  we have a new family member:

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introducing grace ff hopper, her name in honor of the first female pioneer of computer programming and a legend. our hopper enjoys naps, chasing her favorite crumpled up target receipt around the living room and chirping at the birds that land on our balcony railing. she has her own instagram account that she’s not very good at updating, and has recently been trained to walk on a leash and sleep in a crate overnight (!!) I’m obsessed and my entire camera roll is now cat photos. be prepared.

well. ok.

if it’s sunshine-y where you are, get out and enjoy it; and here’s a smoothie recipe I just whipped up this morning:

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maple banana walnut smoothie:

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8 ounces unsweetened coconut milk (I use SoDelicious)

1/8 cup unsweetened greek yogurt

1/2 cup frozen organic pineapple

1/4 cup organic walnuts

1 tsp. real maple syrup (my syrup of choice is Crown Maple)

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

starting with coconut milk, add all ingredients, in order, to blender or nutribullet and blend until smooth.

 

xo, j

 

 

All images © 2013-2019 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

spring cleaning

*inhale*

let it go.

freshen up your space.

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clear your desk.

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and while you’re here, it may be time to lighten up your digital life.

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a few years ago, while upgrading to a new computer, I lost over two years worth of photo files. it was heartbreaking, as it spanned an especially important part of my life. I was able to buy a recovery program and retrieve a small portion of them (maybe 5%) but the rest of those memories are gone.

the files on my computer, phone, and back up drives are precious to me; but are they going to be there when I want to show them to my future self? will they be around and readable in 5, 10, 20 years?

future technologies are developing so fast that we may not be able to read the data on a thumb drive shortly. think about all of the vhs tapes or even dvds your mother (or grandma) has and no one has the equipment to watch them on….who’s to say this isn’t the future for this laptop I’m typing on right now?

I have two huge bins filled with shoe boxes of photo envelopes that date from the late 1980’s to the early 2000’s. there they sit in their envelopes, just as I left them, dated and organized, in a waterproof container ready for me to look at whenever I choose. the colors haven’t faded, and thanks to some forethought, most of the negatives are still there with the photos they represent. I imagine my children will have them to look at for years, just as I can still look at photos of my long passed relatives.

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my solution or should I say my current obsession is to edit and organize my digital photo files (all 40,000+ of them) into printed photo books so they are accessible as a readable history. this is very time-consuming (to say the least) expensive (gimme those coupon codes) but it’s also a great way to dump the files I don’t need, and give me security in knowing the photos will be around a little while longer.

cathedral of st. john the baptist, parma ohio

cathedral of st. john the baptist, parma ohio

having prints made of some of my favorites is also on my list (you know, the ‘when I have all the moneys’ list) 

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yorktown lanes, parma ohio

so, if you need me, I will be here, scouring through thousands of files, picking the perfect photos to tuck in a book that hopefully somebody years from now will pick up and go,

wow.

what a great memory.

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snow day, garrison new york

 

*for an interesting look at this whole digital media reliance vs the old school method might I suggest the movie california typewriter  (not a paid endorsement!) 

All images © 2013-2018 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

 

settled.

sometimes being settled is a good thing.

spending 2016 on the move was a great thing.

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spending 78.5% of 2017 in a constant state of flux was a not-so-great thing.

 

so, this thanksgiving, being settled in our own place feels kinda great.

 

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gluten free all the things (except those darn crescent rolls. not that I couldn’t have made gf crescent rolls (I totally planned on it but ran out of energy.)

Anyway, it proved a good time to teach a couple of young men exactly how to roll triangles of refrigerator dough into crescent shapes.

(I think they did a pretty good job)

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being back in my own kitchen is helping me get back on the eating right train. would you believe I made a kale lasagna today? yes. kale, once my sworn enemy, occasionally finds a place in my diet (trader joe’s broccoli and kale slaw is downright addictive) 

this kale sausage lasagna was super easy to throw together and a low-carb dish to warm you up on a chilly winter weekend. *recipe adapted 

ok in complete honesty, calling this a lasagna might be a bit of a stretch. it’s more of a casserole. 

IMG_0320Ingredients:
1 lg bunch of kale, washed, stems removed, cut into 2″ pcs

2 tsp. olive oil
1 lb bulk italian sausage (hot or sweet)
1 jar pasta sauce

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

preheat oven to 375 degrees. spray a 9″ x 12″ glass pan with non stick cooking spray.

heat the oil in a large heavy sauce pan, brown the sausage until cooked thoroughly.

when the sausage is done, add the pasta sauce, and let the sauce simmer 20-25 minutes, or until it’s thickened and the liquid is reduced.

 

add about a teaspoon or so of salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.  drop the kale into the boiling water and cook until barely wilted. this should take between 1-3 minutes depending on the kale, so keep an eye on it. drain kale into a colander in the sink and toss it to remove as much moisture as possible. dump the cooled kale onto a clean cotton dish towel, roll up and squeeze out remaining moisture.

begin layering the ingredients in your prepared pan, starting with half of the kale. then half of each of the sauce, the parmesan, the mozzarella. then repeat. you’ll have two complete layers.

cover with foil and bake, covered for 20 minutes, then uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.

let casserole sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

enjoy!

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All images © 2013-2017 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

abandoned.

traveling to the poconos during the seventies meant you were either on your honeymoon, entertaining business guests, or you were a ‘swinger.’

 

traveling to the poconos in 2017 means you’re either a youtube urban explorer out for the next great video shoot of an abandoned resort, or you’re a family headed to the big indoor waterpark/hotel/human petri dish.

this past week my daughter and I headed to the poconos in hopes of being able to sneak a peek into the past. I plotted out several abandoned places along our route, with the intent of photographing and exploring as many as we could along the way. our first stop in scranton was a bust (torn down and replaced with new homes) our second stop, scranton lace factory, was not conducive to interior exploration but we did take a few exterior shots.

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when we arrived in the poconos and couldn’t get into the summit resort we proceeded to our main destination; penn hills.

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if you know anything about abandoned poconos, you’re familiar with penn hills. let’s just say there’s not much stopping just about anyone from exploring the 85+ acres of pure 70’s honeymoon kitsch (or what’s left of it)

 

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the blend of modernist architecture, mixed with graffiti, broken glass, and the force of nature kept stopping me in my tracks.

 

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at times it was overwhelming.

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human damages far exceeding the unrelenting force of nature.

 

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we only saw a fraction of the property, but it was simply amazing.

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I would have loved to have seen this place kept intact, the bones of the architecture are so fantastic, and it could have been brilliantly returned to it’s glory as a vintage throwback (hipsters would’ve loved overpaying to sleep in a round bed!)

but back taxes and bad business decisions have left it to rot, and it appears that it will most likely be bulldozed rather than restored.

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it made for a wonderful adventure, one we won’t soon forget.

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All images © 2013-2017 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

summer breakfast

It’s hot. Summer is hot, proven by my social media feed filled with people posting photos of their car thermometers or screenshots of their weather apps. (do you remember winter….and the ice and snow? yeah, me too.)

It’s that wake up hot,
…go to bed hot, kind of hot.

If you’re like me and you don’t like a big breakfast (and if you can remember to prepare this before bed, which I know I’m asking a lot) this is my new favorite breakfast treat.

I know, there’s a billion recipes for these online. In fact I even saw pre-made “Refrigerator Oats” at target last week.

Some call for cute mason jars or fancy spices and yogurt

But, after experimenting and testing different methods my favorite recipe is this:

OVERNIGHT OATS:

in the smallest of my Pyrex Snapware (the little orange one):

1/2 cup gluten free oats
1 Tbls shredded coconut (unsweetened)
a few blueberries
some chopped pecans
1 Tbls maple syrup (agave, or other liquid sweetener will work)
1/3 cup milk of choice (coconut works great!)

Don’t stir, just snap the lid down, refrigerate overnight and in the morning you have a cold refreshing, (gluten free, dairy free) nutritious breakfast!

Of course the options to modify this are pretty endless; I find that the combination of the crunchy (pecans) and the sweet (blueberries) with the texture (coconut) make a great balance.

Enjoy! And stay cool 😎

 

 

 

All images © 2013-2017 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

obsessions.

first off, maybe you’ve noticed I’ve made some changes around here. I’m not entirely convinced that I love it yet, still tweaking the edges, but it was time for a new look so I picked a new theme and well, here we are. let me know what you think! (or not, you know I’m not one to order people around… and ok, if you really know me, then you know that’s a bold faced lie right there.)

on to my latest obsessions which all revolve around design and decorating. specifically light, airy, modern items like this dining room:

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or this bedroom, with a bed I could imagine spending the whole day in:

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I’m researching every possible sofa in internet sofa land: currently landing on this one from article as a favorite with a strict no coffee drinking rule applied to all who sit!sectional

the reason for all my obsessing over household items (you should see my pinterest) is we are going to be settling down again, taking a break from the nomadic life we’ve been living these past few years. Mr. X is going to be getting a coding certification and we’ll be staying put in our old hometown at least for a few years as he gets his foothold in a career.

I imagine we’ll hit the road again in the future (we still have so much more to see!)

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but, for now I look forward to organizing my laundry room and watering plants, figuring out where to put my baking sheets and things of other high importance. it will be good to have a place to call home, again.

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unless otherwise credited, All images © 2013-2017 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life