Browsing Category:

Simplifying

Apple Cinnamon Fall Cocktail Recipe

Fall is here. We saw the aspens change colors in Rocky Mountain National Park. We saw snow in Boulder, and slept through 16-degree temps in South Dakota. Needless to say, it’s not felt like the typical southeastern North Carolina fall we’re used to.

Apple Cinnamon Fall Cocktail Recipe

So, it’s time to switch out the margs for fall cocktails. I searched the internet and came up with a few options and headed to the “food center.” Yes, we were in a small town in South Dakota. Unable to find all the ingredients I needed, I got what I could and decided to piece together a recipe.

Apple cinnamon fall cocktail recipe

The first go around was not so good, but it was sufficient for watching football in the RV. Second go around, I made some tweaks, and it was just right.

Apple, cinnamon, a little spice. It’s the perfect sweater weather (or flannel weather) cocktail.

Apple Cinnamon Fall Cocktail

Ingredients

Fall Cocktail Recipe

Cocktail Mixture

2-3 Mulling Spice Tea Bags (usually n the tea section)
Apple Juice
      Apple cider can be used instead of apple juice and mulling spices.
2 Cinnamon Sticks (optional: more for garnish)
1 Organic Apple
1 inch of ginger
Whiskey (for Luke) | Vodak (for me) I think rum would be good too, if you want to experiment.

Cinnamon Sugar Rim

Equal Parts Cinnamon & Organic Cane Sugar

Cinnamon Sugar Cocktail Rim

Directions

Cider Mixture

  1. Prepare the mulling spices according to directions on package.
  2. Once cool, combine the apple juice and mulling spice according to the ratio on mulling spice package to make your apple cider.
  3. Chop half of the apple into cubes. Peel and chop ginger.
  4. Add the apple, ginger and two cinnamon sticks to the apple cider.
  5. Place in fridge for a few hours for the flavors to combine.

Fall cocktail cinnamon sugar rim

Rim glass

  1. Combine cinnamon and sugar on a plate or wide bowl.
  2. Moisten the rim of the glass with an apple slice.
  3. Dip glass in mixture.

Apple Cinnamon Fall Cocktail Recipe

Cocktail

  1. After rimming the glass, add a few ice cubes to the glass.
  2. Add your shot of choice.
  3. Fill glass the rest of the way with the cider mixture. Let a few apple pieces slip through.
  4. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and apple slice.
  5. Enjoy the best season of the year!

 

The Perfect Fall Cocktail

Happy Fall! Leave me a comment with your favorite fall cocktail, and let me know if you try the Apple Cinnamon Fall Cocktail.

Minimalism and the Road We Never Expected

It was 2012, and Luke and I had just bought our first house – 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a garage. It was exactly what we needed. We each claimed a spare bedroom as our respective offices. Honestly, my “office” was half closet space, half art supplies. During the 4 years we lived in this house, that room only collected more clothes that I should have donated and stuff I didn’t know where else to put. Our 1,700-square foot house started to seem too small.

The Shift to Minimalism, Well Simplifying

We tossed around the idea of buying a bigger house, but at the time, our budget didn’t agree. As we talked more about what we “needed,” we realized we only really used the kitchen, our bedroom and bathroom, and a small portion of the living room. A bigger house wasn’t the answer. We needed less stuff.

We made small changes – I finally dropped that bag of clothes off at Goodwill, stopped shopping just because, and cleaned out the junk closets.

The annoyance I felt when sifting through the closet trying to find that one shirt happened less and less. The anxiety I used to feel walking into my half closet/half art room “office” dissipated as I got rid of all the stuff I didn’t use. We had simplified a bit, and it felt good.

minimalism led us to life on the road

However, our quest to simplify took a sharp turn to minimalism when Luke and I felt the calling to uproot our “normal life.” See, for the most part, we both grew up, went to school, and got (our dream) jobs in our hometown. We were where we wanted to be this point in life, but we couldn’t deny the urge to experience something new. Something that only true minimalism would allow us to do.

Fast forward to today, and we’re living in roughly a 230-square foot RV traveling full-time with our three dogs.

We spent the months leading up our “move” truly getting rid of things that weren’t necessities or items of true importance. Bags upon bags upon bags of clothes were donated. We sold most our stuff like excessive throw pillows, a cookie tray I never used, and curtains I hadn’t used since college. To be honest, I was a little overwhelming seeing all the stuff we had collected and rarely used.

With the excessive stuff gone and our living expenses reduced, there was an exhilarating sense of freedom. We were ready to hit the road.

Minimalism has allowed us to travel full-time while working from the road. In addition to the opportunity it has provided us, it’s taught us a few things.

We don’t have to be so stressed.

I can count on one hand the number of temple-switching stress headaches I’ve gotten since we started traveling, which is impressive given how frequent they were.

Minimalism has given us a sense of freedom from money, “keeping up,” never having enough time, and heck, constantly cleaning a dirty house.

We’re not buying excess stuff, which means two things: less stress to make more money and simply less clutter. I’ve learned and am continuing to learn that we have enough.

Full-time RV Lifestyle

Full-time travel is by no means completely stress-free, but the simplicity we’ve chosen to live in is less stressful than our former “normal lives.” Plus, it’s hard to remain stressed when you can walk out the RV door and stare at the Tetons or go hiking in Yosemite.

 We need way less than we think.

When we first bought our house, I knew in the back of my head we would outgrow it. The closets weren’t big enough, and I didn’t have a dedicated laundry room. It seems silly now, but if there was space, I was going to fill it up.

Now, I’ve learned to live with a fraction of the stuff that I thought wasn’t enough, and I truly feel content. There was a definite mind shift that had to take place. Happiness is not found in acquiring more or having the newest whatever, especially if it creates more clutter, anxiety or strain on finances.

Minimalism

Simply having open space to breath and saving money to do the things I really want have brought so much more happiness than an extra throw pillow or a new pair of shoes.

Yes, we can happily live with fewer material possessions, but we can also thrive in a “tiny” space with three dogs. Sure, it feels tight at times, and we can’t cook together, but it has the only spaces we used in our house – bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and (small) living space. We also take full advantage of our outdoor living space, whether it’s playing with the dogs, eating breakfast, or watching the stars at night. Living minimally doesn’t mean missing out or going without; we truly feel like we have abundantly more.

We are meant to experience life together.

We got married young; I was 20, and Luke was 21. Luke was working full-time, and I was still in school and working at night and on weekends. For the first year of our marriage, we rarely saw each other. After graduation, I worked a normal schedule, and Luke started his own business. Typically, he was working before I got out of bed, so we had a few hours at night and the occasional weekends together.

Luke and I both loved our jobs and didn’t think much of our schedules. As we started trading possessions for experiences, it became obvious how little time we spent together. We didn’t get married to work all the time to buy things we didn’t need, but that’s what was happening.

Life on the road full-time

Now, life on the road is the exact opposite. We’re together all the time, which has its unique challenges, but we are living life together. When you married your best friend, it’s a pretty good trade-off. There’s just no way we would have been able to take enough time off work or been able to afford to go all the places we’ve been if we didn’t decide to minimalize.

Minimalism led us to live in an RV, at least for now. We wouldn’t trade the experiencing we’ve had together for anything, but I don’t believe you must move into an RV to experience the benefits of simplifying.

Decluttering, realizing what is “enough,” experiencing life with those you love, and ultimately finding contentment is available regardless of your square footage.

So, what’s going to be your first step to simplifying your life?

The Simple Guide to Flavoring Kombucha | Huckleberry Kombucha Recipe

The second fermentation is when you flavor your kombucha. This is where you can get creative and try new things, especially if you RV full-time. We’ve loved going to farmers markets to pick up local fruits to use in the kombucha like Huckleberries.

Simple Guide to Flavoring Kombucha

Simple Guide to Flavoring Your Kombucha

Once you’ve finished the first fermentation and removed your scoby from the tea mixture, which is now your kombucha, you’re going to add your flavors. This can be fruit juices, fresh fruit, frozen fruit, fresh or dried spices, lavender, and so on. The more sugary the flavoring, the more carbonation you’ll get.

Step 1: Choose your bottling method. You can flavor you kombucha two different ways:

  1. Add your flavors right into the gallon jar (my preferred method) OR
  2. Bottle you kombucha and add the flavors to the individual bottles.

Step 2: Add your flavors.
Step 3: Put an air tight lid on the jar and store in a warm, dark place for 1-3 days. Carbonation can/will build up in the jar, which can cause it to explode – especially when changing climates. Keep an eye on it, and “burp” the lid, if needed.
Step 4: After 1-3 days, strain the fruit/spices, if preferred
Step 5: If you flavored your kombucha in the gallon jar, transfer the kombucha into individual bottles.
Step 6: Move your delicious kombucha to the refrigerator. Once cool, it’s ready to be enjoyed.
Final step: Drink up those delicious probiotics and get started on your next batch.

Montana Huckleberry Kombucha

Montana Huckleberries

We are spending this month traveling through Montana in the RV. This is a gorgeous state! One thing we noticed quickly is this state is obsessed with their huckleberries. And for good reason, they’re delicious.

A few weeks ago, we finally tried fresh Montana huckleberries. The best way to describe the taste is to take the best things about a blueberry and the best things about a pomegranate and combine them into a perfect little berry. Juicy with a little sweetness and a little tartness.

After eating our fair share of fresh huckleberries, I decided to save the rest for my next batch of kombucha.

Huckleberry kombucha recipe

Huckleberry Kombucha Recipe

Ingredients 

1 cup of fresh Huckleberries
1 batch of “first fermentation” kombucha

Step 1: Take you cup of fresh huckleberries and toss the in the blender. You want to give it a few pulses, scrapping the sides occasionally, until you have a mix of juice and berries.
Step 2: Put the blended huckleberries into your kombucha and give it a quick stir with your wooden spoon.
Step 3: Follow the directions above for the second fermentation.

how to flavor kombucha
What does Huckleberry Kombucha taste like?

Huckleberry kombucha tastes like little sips of Montana summer. But really, it’s great – it has a little tartness, which we like, and still retains that huckleberry flavor. The fruit doesn’t have a lot of sugar, so it isn’t very carbonated. You can always add a tablespoon of sugar to the second fermentation if you’d like more carbonation.

I have another batch going through the first fermentation right now, so I have a few days to come up with a Flathead Cherry kombucha recipe. Stay tuned!

What’s your favorite kombucha flavor?

The Simple Guide to Making Kombucha

We started making kombucha at home at the beginning of the year, and it was so simple (and saved us so much money!). Luke and I have a bit of a kombucha habit. So when we decided to move into the RV and travel full-time, I knew I had to figure out a way to brew kombucha in the RV.

This simple guide to making kombucha is a fool proof way to make kombucha at home with a few tips at the end for those of you wanting to brew on the road.

Simple Guide to Making Kombucha

What you need to get started making kombucha…

You will need right a way:

  • Gallon glass jar with a secure plastic lid
  • Cheesecloth and a rubber band
  • 14 cups of distilled/purified water
  • 8 bags of black tea or green tea
  • 1 cup of sugar (I prefer organic cane sugar)
  • Scoby culture – you can buy one, get one from a friend (or me – I have plenty) or if you’re really intense make your own
  • A few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • A wooden spoon

Everything you need to make kombucha at home

You can also buy a kombucha starter kit like The Complete Kombucha Kit that comes with everything you need. It’s what I used to get started because I knew it’d take me forever get everything together.

You should go ahead and get:

  • Glass bottling jars – something like this: 16 Ounce Clear Bottles or recycled store bought kombucha bottles
  • Funnel
Step-by-step guide to making Kombucha
Making Kombucha at Home

Step 1: Boil 8 cups of water
Step 2: Remove from heat and add the tea bags; steep for 6-8 minutes
Step 3: Stir in the sugar until fully dissolved
Step 4: Pour the tea mixture into your gallon jar and add the remaining water; leaving 3 inches of space at the top of the jar (unless you’re traveling in an RV*)
Step 5: Allow the tea mixture to cool to room temp – don’t kill your scoby by putting it into the tea too soon
Step 6: Clean your hands with vinegar and water (not soap) – make sure they are really clean
Step 7: Gently pick up your scoby and add it to the tea mixture in the jar
Step 8: Stir in a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar using a wooden spoon. You want the pH at 4.5 or below. I don’t have pH strips, so I just do 2-3 TBS – it works just fine.
Step 9: Place the cheesecloth over the jar and secure with a rubber band
Step 10: Place the jar somewhere dark that has a bit of ventilation – I’ve found the cabinet to work just fine. Try not to move it until it’s done.*
Step 11: Wait 1-3 weeks.

Complete guide to making Kombucha

Wait 1-3 weeks? Not super specific, huh? The hotter the climate, the faster the fermentation. You may only need 7 days. The colder the climate, the longer it will take. I once had one take 3-4 weeks to finish. (RVers, be sure to read the notes at the bottom on this.*)

After a week, using a WOODEN spoon (no metal should touch your booch), begin tasting your brew. If it’s still sugary sweet, it’s not quite ready. If it’s too bitter, add a tablespoon of sugar and give it another day or two. You can also tell when it’s ready by the baby scoby forming on top of the jar or as a layer on your original scoby. Once it’s sizable enough to pick up, you’re probably done.

Final step: With clean hands, remove the scoby and place it in a shallow tubberware (or start a scoby hotel) with 1 cup of the kombucha. This will be your starter for your next batch.

How to Make Kombucha at Home

That’s all there is to the first fermentation. To add flavor and fizz, here’s how you do the second fermentation.

Making Kombucha in an RV*

Alright fellow full-time RVers, making kombucha on the road isn’t difficult, but there are a few things to be aware of.

  1. I don’t fill my jar up with the additional water as much as I did at home. I leave about 4 inches at the top versus 3 inches.
  2. You don’t want to move too much during the first fermentation. Kinda problematic when moving in your lifestyle, right? Here’s how we handle it:
    1. I avoid making a new batch if we’re going to move several times in the next 1-2 weeks. Just wait until your settled. If we’re only moving once or twice, I go for it.
    2. The jar is only covered in cheesecloth. I place the jar in a plastic grocery bag with a small towel, just in case there is any splashing or spillage on travel day.
  3. Find a secure, dark cabinet to brew your kombucha in and make sure it’s secure on travel day.
  4. Temperature control. This is difficult. We’ve gone from cool 40-50 degree weather to hot 90 degree weather in a matter of days. When it’s cold, I wrap the jar in towels to keep it insulated. When it’s hot, I just keep checking it since it will be done brewing a lot faster.
  5. Have fun with it. The different atmospheres and climates will alter your booch. Don’t be afraid to mess it up. Try new things until you figure out what works. With all the fresh, local fruits at different destinations, you can experiment with all sorts of flavors in your second fermentation.

If you have questions about the first fermentation, leave it in the comments, and I’ll be sure to answer it. I don’t want you missing out on this probiotic goodness.

Simple Sundays | Olympic National Park

RV life and full-time travel in some ways allow you to slow down, but then some weeks go by in a hurry. At the end of the week, it can be hard to remember to what we did on Monday or even what city we were in. The last thing I want is for this trip to be over and only remember the highlights. Some of the sweetest moments have been the simplest.

Simple Sundays | June 19-25

So, the best thing I can think to do is quick weekly recaps at the end of the week with all the little moments that make up this trip.

Electricity

We left Bend, OR (one of the best places ever) last Sunday and headed towards Portland. We couldn’t find a free place to camp in the area, which was a bummer, so we decided to stay at Ainsworth State Park. Ainsworth had full hook-ups and showers for $24 a night. While we love dry camping, it was nice to have unlimited electricity and a real shower for the first time in 3 weeks.

 

Multnomah Waterfall

Waterfalls

The waterfalls outside of Portland are amazing. We walked up to Multnomah and Bridal Veil Falls. If you’re in the area, I recommend driving through. It’s a quick hike (really just a walk) to the falls.

 

Portland International Rose Test Garden

Roses + Tacos 

After the waterfalls, we drove into Portland. Luke tried a donut from Blue Star Donuts, and I grabbed a latte from Barista. Then we drove up to the International Rose Test Garden. It truly smelled like roses. If you’re in Portland, check it out – it’s free!

Then, I had the great idea to go see the Urban Waterfall sculpture. It was weird. I know we were in Portland, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. The sculpture itself is beautiful, but there were so many people standing and swimming in it. I don’t think I even took a picture. I wouldn’t add this to your Portland to-do list.

The tacos, however, should definitely be on your list. A quick “gluten free in Portland” Google search provided several options, and we landed on Por Que No. Be prepared to stand in line for these delicious tacos. Not everything is gluten free, but the staff was extremely knowledge and helpful.

simple venture sunset

Salt Creek Recreation Area

Salty air. Need I say more?

We’re currently parked (aka temporarily broken down) at Salt Creek Recreation Area with an ocean front view. The ocean air feels and smells like home. The view of a rocky shore with Canada in the distance reminds us we’re on the opposite side of the country.

Dinner and drinks on the roof of the RV. Warm days, incredible sunsets, chilly nights. And the best RV neighbors! If we’re going to be stuck somewhere for a few extra days, this is the place to be.

 

gluten free cupcake at The Blackbird Coffeehouse

Gluten Free Desserts

Celiac doesn’t make life easy, but we’ve managed to make delicious gluten free Butterfinger sugar cookies. On Friday (and again today), we ended up at Blackbird Coffeehouse in Port Angeles to get some work done. I ordered a coffee without even looking at the menu. Very few coffee shops have celiac-safe baked goods. After an hour or so, I looked over at the menu, and to my surprise, they had several gluten free options. Luke and I split this amazing chocolate cupcake with raspberry icing. It. Was. So. Good.

 

Olympic National Park

Deer. Marmot. Black Bear. Mountain Peaks.

Olympic National Park has so much wildlife! We saw our first bear of the trip, several deer and the cutest marmot stuffing his mouth with food. The trail smelled like a mix of Christmas and wildflowers. The views of the mountain ranges were incredible. We could have stared at the vastness of it all forever.

Next Week

We’re not totally sure what this week will look like. We, well Luke, has to get the brake situation repaired. Hopefully, we will get to explore more of Olympic National Park before making our way to Seattle.

We’d love your suggestions on things we must do in Seattle. There’s so much to try to fit in; it’s hard to decide!

-laura

There Isn’t Anything Simple about Simplifying

The Process of Simplifying

Moving into a 32-ft RV means minimalism (simplifying) whether you want to or not. There’s room only for the essentials and not much else. And let me tell you, there isn’t anything simple about simplifying. After living comfortably in 1700 square feet for the past four years, we’ve collected plenty of non-essentials, not to mention I’m a bit of a hoarder. Scraps of fabric that I’ll one day use, airplane tickets from our honeymoon, Hudson’s puppy collar… lots of things that represent memories but ultimately resulted in clutter.

Preparing to move into the RV full-time meant a lot of sorting and cleaning out.

The Purge

This purge wasn’t anything like cleaning out your closet after Christmas to make room for new clothes. It was cut-throat closet, kitchen, spare bedroom, drawer-I-never-open cleaning. Round one: throw away the old, broken, unusable, yes even several of the memory “things” that we didn’t need to keep. The hard part was next. What do we want to take in the RV? What do we want to put in storage? And what can be sold or donated?

We literally walked through the house, room-by-room, with a notebook and made a list of what we needed to take on the RV and what we really wanted to take. Essentials – can opener, French press, important documents, etc. Really want but not essential – cocktail set, extra coffee mugs, throw pillows. As we continued to clean out the house, this was our guide to make sure we didn’t try to bring too much onto the RV and to make sure we didn’t store or give away something we needed.

The easiest next step for me was to go through our closet. Since we have about three RV-size cabinets a piece for all our clothes and all four seasons to be prepared for, I basically made the most skimmed down capsule wardrobe possible with the addition of extra yoga pants and hiking clothes.

The nicer clothes I no longer needed I sold on Poshmark. Everything else went to the yard sale or give away pile.

The Yard Sale

Moving is a good excuse to purge, but moving into 270 square feet that doesn’t need to be and can’t be furnished calls for a yard sale. We stored our good furniture and favorite décor, but pretty much everything else went to the yard sale. It’s amazing how much stuff I crammed into some of our closets only to be sorted years later for the yard sale. We didn’t make a ton of money during the yard sale, but it was better than nothing. We did clear out a good amount of stuff, which mean fewer trips to the Salvation Army – totally worth it!

It took months of sorting, deciding and finally purging to get us to a place of minimalism where we could fit what we needed in the RV and what we wanted to hang onto for the future in storage. Cleaning out the drawers and closets I ignored for years wasn’t exactly fun. Throwing away things I truly didn’t need but hoarded for the memories wasn’t exactly easy. Getting rid of things I liked or will use one day wasn’t my favorite. The process of simplifying wasn’t really my favorite either. I probably got rid of 10 trash bags of just my clothes – ridiculous! Even when we were still in the house but the excess stuff was gone, I didn’t miss them. Getting ready in the morning was so much easier because I wasn’t shifting through things I never wore to find what I wanted.

We forced ourselves into a minimalist lifestyle because we wanted to take this trip, not necessarily for the minimalist lifestyle but living without the clutter has been refreshing. We still have all the memories and room to make more.

Simplifying your stuff takes time – at least it did for me. One category, or hey, one drawer at a time. Sort, throw out, sell, give away or organize. It may not be the most fun thing in the world, but it’s worth it!

-Laura