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.

IMG_4964

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.

Attachment-1

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)

IMG_4622

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.

Attachment-1-1

IMG_4852

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

Advertisements

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.

IMG_4554

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

IMG_4257

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!

IMG_4555

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:

IMG_7986

IMG_9228

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:

IMG_4556

 

maple banana walnut smoothie:

——————————————————————

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.

IMG_2166

clear your desk.

IMG_2174

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

IMG_2169

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.

IMG_2499

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) 

HipstamaticPhoto-544370436.279965
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.

SNOWDAYCALE_DO NOT DELETE
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.

IMG_1123

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.

 

IMG_0126

 

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)

IMG_0113

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!

IMB_uzQb2m

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:

table One

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

Contemporary-Scandinavian-Bedroom-Ideas-2

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!)

IMG_6910

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.

IMG_7166

 

 

 

 

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

memorial day.

it seems as though I haven’t had much to say about this year, from the looks of my posts here. in reality, there’s so much going on, so much keeping my thoughts occupied about the future of our world that creating beautiful blog posts have been the furthest thing from my mind.

BOTANIC

but memorial day weekend is here, and this weekend traditionally marks a time in the calendar year where things tend to shift; we pack away the long pants, and pull out the summer skirts. we dust off the picnic gear, stow away the snow boots. so maybe it’s time to shift my thinking as well. back to focusing on beauty and creativity, and away from despair and darkness; looking towards a future of hope, one where there’s always that open road ahead, where you never know what will meet you. where the adventure awaits.

ROAD

so we sit, and plan, looking forward to more travel; discussing a trip to acadia national park and plotting our next adventure. always moving forward, hoping and focusing on a positive future for everyone.

CLOUDS

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

public lands, a love story.

last year we were so fortunate to be able to experience so many of our public lands, parks and monuments. I decided to start collecting patches along the way as a way to remember the places we had seen.

IMG_0955

I bought our first official patch at the padre island national seashore. the kind volunteer behind the counter at the gift shop explained to us how we could drive onto the beach and camp there. he also told us how the beach in texas is considered a highway, and if we chose to we could drive for miles on it. we were thrilled with the possibility.

img_4996

it was there that I started thinking about this quilt. from every park, monument, forest or historical site that we stopped at with a visitor center, I bought a patch and added it to this quilt. it’s like a living memory, a work in progress. hand stitching the patches over fabric that is covering holes in the antique bedcover that is older than me.

img_3911

when we were at yellowstone, it just happened to be the month of the 100 year anniversary of this amazing place. we were lucky enough to be caught in the middle of a herd of bison crossing the road; they were feet from our car, and I will never forget that feeling, the feeling that we were visiting their home. we were their guests. it was humbling. and it was my favorite day.

death valley was spectacular.

img_4998

our year of travel took us from cleveland ohio to the eastern shore of texas,

to the peaks of alaska, and back around…

IMG_7736

IMG_7015

IMG_2142

we stopped at badlands national park after visiting deadwood and sturgis.

we were not disappointed. even saw the elusive big horn ram.

img_3174

this is one of our favorite campsites; a wildlife preserve in western nevada.

without the bureau of land management, the national forests, the department of antiquities, the national monuments or the national forests none of this would have been possible. we have so much left to see. and we saw so much.

it is vital that they stay funded, operating and protected.

odds and ends.

Working our way east, to take care of some business (those pesky health things that just don’t go away) we rushed through most of the entire west-to-mid-west. we ticked five (yes FIVE National Parks off our list in under two weeks (can you say exhausted) and stopped in at some tourist-trappy gems like Wall Drug and the Corn Palace along the way.

IMG_2147

IMG_2145

IMG_2198

We somehow even had the timing gods lined up so perfectly that we were in Sturgis, SD just in time for what Sturgis is famous for.

IMG_2194

We saw amazing things, breathtaking things that I will never forget. The herd of bison that we found ourselves in the middle of as they crossed the road in Yellowstone. The sun setting on the Grand Tetons. A forest fire up in the hills at dusk outside of Cody, WY.

Badlands National Park.

IMG_2142

The Oregon Coast. Olympic National Park where we hung out with this beautiful creature for about 15 minutes.

IMG_9786

Glacier National Park….Rainier.

And during the long, straight road through the midwest, this:

IMG_2138

IMG_2137

miles and miles and miles of sunflowers. “stop!! I need to get out!!”

cars and trucks speeding by on I-90 watching the crazy lady with the camera take a billion photos of the sunflowers.

IMG_2136

I mean, how could I not?  just look at all of them!

For an updated look at where we’ve been…. we have a map for that.

thanks, as always, for reading…more to follow :)

 

 

All images © 2010-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

 

 

alaska.

hey friends.

I’ve been the worst at blog-updating, but with good reason. we’re in alaska, as I might have mentioned in a previous post and we’ve been working six days a week. on the seventh day we try to get in adventures, laundry, internet time and rest. *try being the operative word.

we’re seeing most of the wilderness through the windows of the employee shuttle to and from work.

IMG_7174

last week, on our day off, we were able to take a hike in Denali National Park (this is our 26th National Park/Monument since December)

DSC_0912

DSC_0947

it was beautiful

and exhausting.

a few weeks ago we had the pleasure of seeing snow…..

DETA3022

which we had avoided all winter, but we didn’t mind as it was short lived and kind of beautiful to see.

IMG_7015

most days it looks like this. (except when it’s raining, like today)

most nights it looks like that as well…which has been the hardest thing to get used to. the white nights. right now we’re at about 19 hours of daylight, which makes insomnia even more fun :)

we are looking forward to being back on the road at the end of september.

seeing friends and family back east.

seeing sunsets, sunrises, the stars. the moon.

driving aimlessly and stopping randomly.

camping.

more parks!

but for now, here we are.

IMG_7209

All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

months and miles.

 

today marks the day. the sixth month anniversary of loading up the car, waving goodbye to lake erie, cleveland, ohio…..and heading out on the great adventure. 

we honestly had no idea what we were doing. like, no clue.  

IMG_6561I mean, sure we’d plotted out a general course…looked at a million blogs about how to do what we were doing, but, seriously. 

not a clue. 

so here’s a bit of what we’ve learned: 

–you’re going to need half of what you think you’ll need. we made so many packing mistakes and ended up tossing or donating a lot of things along the way. the essentials are called essential for a reason; only pack what you know you’ll use daily.

FullSizeRender

–travel slow, and if you find a spot that looks good, stay there. we spent a lot of time chasing good weather mainly because we weren’t equipped to live comfortably for long stays in rain or high winds. but if the weather was good, having enough supplies (read: coffee) to stay in one spot for five or more days will definitely save money and stress)


–always stop for the brown signs on the highway exits: they mean good things: national parks or monuments, state parks or really fun touristy stuff! some of our best adventures were “oh hey what’s that sign?!” trips off the beaten path.
–buy a national parks pass. just do it. the national parks are the best idea the US has ever had, and getting in free across the country saved us so much financial worry and, wow was it worth it. 

–if you find a spot you like, stay there! bonus tip: free camping is abundant, you just have to know how and where to look for it. there are multiple apps to help with that; we used one called Allstays. we spent a total of $16 on camping in 6 months, all of that in Texas. and if all else fails, most walmarts, and some other retail stores (camping world, cabella’s) allow overnight camping. just ask :) 

IMG_1123 

–adapting to your environment is key. travel bloggers on instagram are not showing you everything (like where do they poop?) the sooner you realize that you’re now technically homeless and relying on your current, constantly changing, environment for all your needs, the sooner you’ll be able to adjust to your newfound freedom!

 

–you’re much tougher than you think. I never thought I’d be able to hike to the top of this canyon…or sleep in my car in a dark forest in the rain….or survive a windstorm in new mexico. I didn’t know how tough I really was.

DSC_0037

–time is a social construct. (think about that one….I must ask at least once a week, “wait, what day is it?” because we don’t have to be anywhere, do anything, on anyone else’s time….weekdays or weekends don’t matter. it’s weird and takes time to get used to.) 

DSC_0602

–this country is huge, beautiful and is so vastly different if you just travel more than 300 miles outside of your comfort zone. if you don’t like where you are: move! there is so much out there to see and experience. 

–people out there (away from the cities) are much nicer, kinder and more generous than you know.  this was possibly the hardest thing for us to get used to, being from the service industry. we were so ‘on guard’ and had our defenses up against everyone, and just did not expect the kindness of strangers once we were away from the cities. 

–don’t wait. we’ve met so many women, or couples in their retirement years who’ve said to us (all_of_them_have_said_this) “we should have done this at your age, good for you guys.” 

don’t wait. honestly.  

IMG_6560

where we go from here: 

today we are in yakima, washington, on our way to a town north of seattle for the week. we are then boarding a plane, friday, for anchorage, alaska. 

yes, alaska. eep!! we’ll be working up there for the summer outside of denali national park. I can say this: we are excited to be off the road for a while, but last night, as we spent our final night sleeping in the car (fittingly in a walmart, just like our first night in new jersey) we were talking about how we are actually going to miss the freedom we’ve had, the autonomy, the rising with the sun, going to bed when it gets dark, and the general not-seeing-any-other-humans that has been so great. we’re going to have a bit of a time adjusting. 

but it will also be nice to have showers, and meals, and a bed whenever we want. that will be nice.
so, stay tuned from alaska! 

xoxo, j 

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