All Posts By

Sionann

Lifestyle Motherhood

35 Things My Kids Should Know About Me

35 things my kids should know about me

As my pregnancy advances and I begin to consider my future as a mother I find myself wondering how things will change. How I will change. What are some things my kids should know about me? Will I pull from the invisible well of strength that all mothers seem to have? Perhaps I’ll be guided by some sort of inner knowledge that will unravel and unlock as I need it most. But who will I be?

While considering very important things like if I’ll ever enjoy a cigarette and a glass of wine again I realized that it might be important to document some things my kids should know about me. Maybe when my kid reads it for the first time they’ll feel enlightened. Or maybe, much like a child, they’ll brush it off as lame. I don’t know and I don’t really care—that’s a thing about me.

  1. I’m terrified of spiders.
  2. I had to steal my high school diploma because of a mistaken late fee on a textbook I had returned.
  3. I change my mind a lot.
  4. Sometimes what I think and how I feel aren’t the same.
  5. I love the smell of black & mild cigars, they remind me of being a kid.
  6. I used to think people would find me more interesting if I liked what they liked. It turns out the opposite is true. Be the voice, not the echo.
  7. I’m still afraid of the dark.
  8. I wish I was closer to my mom.
  9. I’ve never felt stronger than when I was pushing my body in the gym and I’ve never felt more in tune with myself than when I was pregnant.
  10. Sometimes I don’t like who I am, I wish I was more tolerant and forgiving.
  11. I’ve never met a better person than your father. That’s why I married him and why I chose him to be your dad.
  12. I’m passionate about people, when someone needs help I will drop almost anything to figure it out.
  13. Once my underwear was showing while I was sitting in the cafeteria in 7th grade. I was sooo embarrassed. Now, I couldn’t even estimate the number of people I’ve mooned, your ideas will change.
  14. Nothing is better to me than a cup of coffee, a good book, and the rain.
  15. I hate it when people smack their mouth when they chew.
  16. For me, the hardest part of growing up was learning to handle being wrong and admitting it with dignity and grace. I’m still working on it and growing all the time.
  17. I wish I didn’t have stage fright. I would love to perform.
  18. Halloween is my favorite holiday, Christmas is a close second.
  19. I’ve thought I looked fat in every photo ever taken of me.
  20. I’m certain the earth is round.
  21. My favorite part of my body is my back, it’s strong and gives me the ability to do everything that I do.
  22. I wish I was better at outdoor stuff, I fantasize a bit about being a survivalist.
  23. I also fantasize about secretly being really good at martial arts.
  24. As a toddler, I used to tell people I lived at Target.
  25. This might not come as a surprise, but I’m very contrary and confrontational. Hopefully, you’ve learned a measured temper from your dad.
  26. I can barely snap my fingers. It’s one of my biggest shames.
  27. As a child, my favorite ice cream flavor was “green.” My parents would test the theory by giving me both pistachio and mint chip. I couldn’t tell the difference and loved them both.
  28. The first time something “blew my mind” was when I was six and I was informed I didn’t have to take off my dress to pee, I could just pull up the skirt.
  29. Han shot first
  30. Kid horror stories really fucked me up. I’m still afraid of something licking my hands or feet if I let them hang off the bed.
  31. I’ve marched against war and for human/ civil/ women’s/ gay rights whenever I could.
  32. I never could be told what to think or who to be. I hope you inherited that, though I’m sure I’ll regret saying that.
  33. At the time of your birth, I was able to express complex thoughts and emotions exclusively through the use of emojis and KIMOJIs. It’s vintage, look it up.
  34. I’m really good at doing anything with my hands and I enjoy handicrafts.
  35. I’m an animal lover through and through.

I’m sure one day there will be a follow-up post including a great deal more things my kids should know about me. What are some things your kids should know about you?

Lifestyle Recipe

Quick and Easy Vegan Split Pea Soup

vegan split pea soup

These days, meal prep is king. While everyone tries the latest and greatest life hacks for efficiency, few can argue that prepping your week’s meals in advance can save a lot of time and headache. Whether you’re living the single life with three jobs or a stay at home mom, everyone can benefit from prepping some grab-and-go meals to use throughout their week. I’ve done a quite a few one pot recipes in the past to save time on meal prep, but I’d never done a vegan split pea soup until now.

My mom used to cook split pea soup from scratch. I have vivid memories of the aroma of ham and peas wafting through the house to greet me after school. For this recipe, I decided to do a kind of smokey vegan take on mom’s traditional split pea soup. I’ve been craving spicy food like crazy so I implemented some paprika and hot sauce to add some heat to the recipe. I love this vegan split pea soup because it’s really nutritious and high in fiber so it’s filling as a stand-alone entree and can be taken as leftovers for lunch super easily.

Actually, I have this amazing tiny crock pot that I take to work. It holds probably 16 oz. or so and I love it. I just plug it right in when I get to work and by lunch time the contents are hot! I haven’t tried cooking in it but it’s amazing for heating leftovers.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for Vegan Split Pea Soup!

Vegan Split Pea Soup

Print Recipe
Serves: 8 Cooking Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 8 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion chopped (yellow or white)
  • 6 cloves of garlic minced (or 2 tbsp, jarred minced)
  • 2 lbs. of split peas (this is usually two bags, don't forget to rinse!)
  • 2 tbsp. paprika (or more to taste)
  • 3 tbsp. of a hot sauce like Tapatio (or more to taste)
  • 7 pints of water (or 14 cups)
  • 8 vegan bouillon cubes
  • *You can substitute a vegetable stock for the water and bouillon cubes if desired
  • Garnish: Paprika, sesame seeds, caramelized onions

Instructions

1

In a large pot sauté your carrots, celery, garlic, and onions until the onions are soft and translucent

2

Add your water and bouillon or vegetable stock, split peas, and any additional starches you intend to use. Bring to a full boil

3

Add your paprika and hot sauce if desired. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally

4

Garnish with paprika and sesame seeds or caramelized onions if desired and serve!

Notes

If you have extra starches laying around you can add potatoes (cubed or diced) and rice or other grains like barley at the same time you add the split peas. This will add more bulk and calories but can extend the use of the recipe if you have a large family or are trying to budget extra for meals.

DIY Lifestyle

Tips for Planning A Wedding On a Budget

wedding on a budget, planning a wedding,

When it comes to planning a wedding, details are king. This fact is even more pronounced when you’re planning a wedding on a budget. Each couple is as unique as the message they want to convey on their wedding day. Regardless of your budget, there are a few things you can do to help take the pressure off the process and streamline your finances. After throwing a wedding for my best friend and beginning to plan my own wedding a short six months later, I learned a lot about what it takes to execute such an important event. I’ll use my friend’s wedding as an example since it was planned in less than a week after her venue had to cancel last minute! Through this process, I learned some of the key tips for planning a wedding on a budget (and a time crunch!)

The first thing you should do when planning a wedding on a budget is sit down with your partner and really think, “what kind of wedding do we want to have?”

This is huuuuge. What kind of people are you? You might like the aesthetic of a NY Museum wedding but if you’re backyard barbecue people then there’s a conflict of interests there. On the contrary, maybe you are a Museum person but most of your guests have small children they’re bringing and the family is on the older side—then lots of stairs or breakable things are out of the question. Will you want the ceremony and reception at the same location? Really narrow down what kind of venue will be appropriate for the size, duration, and vibe of your wedding day.

Next, you should consider your priorities for the wedding.

Here, we really mean for the decor and the party. The ceremony requires very little overall other than the officiant. Maybe for you, a priority is that there’s an open bar and your partner really wants to save money of flowers. To start you should each choose three things that you couldn’t see getting married without i.e. photobooth, arch at the altar, style of chairs, style of centerpieces, passed hors d’oeuvres, etc… Having these “asks” down on paper can really help you prioritize and organize your time, money, and overall efforts towards the things that will have a big impact.

Finally, before you get down to actual planning and selection of vendors, etc, Decide On A Budget.

How much will you each be able to put towards the wedding between now and the big day? How much of that is available now/ upfront  (keep in mind most vendors will have to secure down payments for their services prior to confirming your dates). Set a realistic goal. Add 10% to that for contingencies, or if you’re capped, take 10% off and plan for that so the contingency fund is already handled. Also look at some sample budgets and wedding calculators online that are up to date for the year you’re planning. Even better if it’s regionally inclusive.

Now it’s time to go back to those lists of priorities.

Rank big ticket items from most to least important and then itemize those sections. For example, if the decor is #1 for you then you might choose to rent more expensive items in lieu of entertainment like music or an open bar. When you’re planning a wedding on a budget, some sacrifices will be made, but you wont feel that it’s lacking.

In each section list the things that are most non-negotiable (NN).

So for decor, it might look like this:

  • Arch (NN)
  • Tables with white linens (NN)
  • Aisle (runner or Shepard hooks or…)
  • Chairs (impartial if linens and centerpieces are solid)
  • Stage area (not important to me)

For food it might look like this:

  • Amazing Dessert table (NN)
  • Passed hors d’oeuvres (NN)
  • Buffet style? (Yes)
  • Pizza, tacos, or BBQ? Potluck maybe?

The NN (non-negotiable) items are what you’ll be spending your hard earned dollars on. As a general rule, cast a favor net far and wide months before your big day. Maybe everyone you know owns a 6 ft banquet table! That could save you a TON of money—and you never know until you ask. Perhaps a guest has an antique piece of furniture or a dessert stand you’ve admired? You’d be surprised the lengths your loved ones will go to make your big day successful, even if that means disrupting some of their personal home decor for a weekend.

Planning a wedding on a budget for my friend meant calling in favors left and right! Luckily one of our friends is an Art Director and was able to loot her set dressing and props department for some gorgeous greenery and arches:

© Callie Biggerstaff

Food On A Budget

This would be the time to call in favors from your restaurant and bar friends. Can they get you a catering deal? I was managing a restaurant at the time of my friends’ wedding so it was a great way to supplement the catered things with some dishes that I made myself.

If you are going with an actual venue that’s “inclusive” you might experience some pushback when it comes to using your own caterer. If they give you shit about only being able to use theirs, pull the religion or culture card! I.e. “Oh, actually in our faith/ culture we have to serve certain food…is that going to be a problem?” They’ll be quick to not want to insult you and usually make an exception.

We convinced a local ice cream truck to come by our house around 8pm after we knew the speeches would be done. It was a super unique, cute, and affordable way to serve dessert! We just handled the tab when everyone was done. The bride and groom even got to board the truck for a photo-op inside!

If you do decide to do a brunch the next day, do a picnic! Grab a bunch of pastries from Costco or your local bakery, ingredients from mimosas, and a few flats of eggs. You can use the grill at a park to cook eggs and have a super fun and low-key brunch. This could also be a potluck where part of your bridal party or family is asked to contribute by picking up muffins, croissants, etc… teamwork truly makes the dream work!

Booze On A Budget

For alcohol, you have a big choice to make. Are your guests paying or are you? If they’re paying you might still have to supply everything and essentially “front” the liquor. This is where parents might be able to help by fronting the big bucks for the night. You can always return bottles you don’t use.

Remember that even though everyone loves an open bar, no one will hold it against you if you forgo it. People are soooo accommodating during weddings—you’re basically a celebrity—so milk the good vibes and set it to BYOB or wine only, etc. You call the shots here, no one else! For my friend’s backyard wedding at our house, we set up a super cute DIY drinks table. There were chalkboards with instructions on how to make a “brides drinks” or a “grooms drink” along with plenty of non-alcoholic mixers and some wine.

wedding on a budget

Another idea to save money on booze/ open bar is to cut your wedding short.

It’s trendy and fun to do wedding weekends, but if you have a wedding on a budget it’s a stupid choice. Much better to have an elegant ceremony and 2-3 hour reception than a super long and drawn out thing, especially when some vendor charge by the hour! This way the people that stay for the duration of the weekend are only close friends and family.

Photography On A Budget

EVERYONE knows a professional photographer, right? When planning a wedding on a budget it’s super pragmatic to request that friend to shoot the ceremony! Offer them what you can in terms of money (you could even negotiate to pay them a week or two after the wedding so you have time to financially recoup). More than likely though, they’ll extend their services as a wedding gift, especially if it’s just the ceremony you want to be handled professionally.

In addition, for the reception request that;

1.) Everyone bring one disposable if it’s not in the budget to supply a bunch yourselves or hire an official photographer.

OR

2.) Use a wedding hashtag and group Dropbox for party pics! Using your RSVP software you can schedule an email to everyone the day after the wedding with a Dropbox link for all wedding pics, done and done! Plus candid shots are better anyway.

Officiant On A Budget

It’s getting more and more popular to have a friend officiate, especially for a wedding on a budget. If customs, religion, or culture doesn’t require anything specific of you, it’s a great way to go! Otherwise—if you don’t go the “ordained friend” route—you can spend anywhere from $150-$1000+ on an officiant so it really depends on your expectation. I’ve seen beautiful and simple ceremonies that took no more than ten minutes from the bridal march to the smooch.

Centerpieces On A Budget

Dollarstore anyone? This is the time to get creative! Scour Pinterest for the aesthetic you’re drawn to and make a list isolating the key elements. For my friends’ wedding, I liked old books, candles, and moss (I literally didn’t give her a say because it was such short notice so I surprised her. A HUGE leap of faith on her part!).

Once I’d decided on the look, I knew with those three things I could do a simple and elegant centerpiece. I looted all my local Goodwill stores for old looking books, bought some bagged moss on Amazon, and used some dollar store candle holders. They turned out beautiful!

Again, the key is to really figure out:

1.) what’s most important to you as a couple

2.) what will have the biggest impact for a low cost; A great example of a this would be to use cheap paper lanterns to help light a path. This gives an illusion of a lot of landscaping and thought even though it’s simple.

Another great example would be the uniformity of tables/ etc. I used a white base for all the linens and chairs in both mine and my friends’ wedding to add some elegance. Here’s a photo of my friends:

© Callie Biggerstaff

 

A coordinator/ MC On A Budget

Okay, so your average 30-50 guest backyard wedding might not require a coordinator, but it never hurts! Put that bossy (I mean assertive) family member in charge of the schedule. This can be an MC like a MOH or BM, or an aunt or uncle that means business. You’ll be happy later not having to worry about letting people know the cake is being served or that it’s time for a send-off.

DO A SEND-OFF

Even if you just go to the bar down the street for a breather, and loop back after. It’s nice to have a moment alone! Plus it’ll help expedite getting everyone the fuck out of your parent’s house/ the venue.

Weddings can be stressful as it is. Your relationship will be tested in the months leading up to your wedding. But it won’t break you and it shouldn’t break the bank either. My final word of advice is this (actually a friend of ours suggested this to us while we were in the trenches of planning): Around 2-3 months out, you’re going to be panicking. Your invitations haven’t gone out yet and you feel like a general shit-show. Grab your partner and go out for a beer. Bring a notepad and a couple of pens. Over the next hour, drink and ask each other, “Okay, if the wedding was tomorrow/ this week, what would we do?” Fill in the blanks for food, booze, officiant, music, dessert, traditions—and you’re good! Don’t stress, cuz at the end of the day, you got this!

Xo.

Let me know what I missed or any tips your have for planning a wedding on a budget!

Lifestyle Travel

10 Tips for Traveling Abroad

Tips for traveling abroad

I just returned from a much-needed vacation to Europe. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to move there go back. Now that I’ve returned to the states, I have some tips for traveling abroad that I’d like to share.

Our trip began with my husband and I flying to Paris, where we would spend a few days alone exploring the city and the sights before linking up with his family in Basel, Switzerland. From Basel, we took a river cruise down the Rhine with around 200 other passengers on a small ship. The cruise was packed full of excursions and we were in a new city (or two) each day. I had never been to any of the countries we visited so I tried to soak it all in while sometimes rushing a quick lunch or bite to eat between tours.

Life on the ship was nice, we didn’t have to worry about much. Each stateroom had a US 2 pin power outlet, so, for the most part, we were able to use our various electronics and chargers without hassle.

The trip did have its fair share of trials and learning experiences; Mostly due to the colder weather that I’m no longer used to as an Angeleno. So I began making a list of tips for traveling abroad that I wish I’d known ahead of time!

 

  1. Think about the fashion of the region before you go: More than likely, you’re going to reach your destination and realize your accessories aren’t going to cut it. It’s vacation, there will be pictures. Do a cursory search on Instagram using places or hashtags for the area and decide on what to bring to achieve the look you want.
  2. Note the weather forecast and plan for colder: I knew it was going to be cold in Europe, but I underestimated it. Bring extra layers and one winter jacket if you’re heading to a colder region.
  3. Pack light: Even if you don’t plan to shop, you will. There’s something magical about purchasing things abroad knowing that pretty much no one you know will have it. In the days of H&M and Forever21, it’s nice to buy some unique pieces for your collection. Pack only half a suitcase so you don’t have to purchase (and check) extra luggage on your way home. You can even pack or bring a large empty duffel as your carry-on.
  4. Inquire within your hotel about amenities: Many hotels (and hostels) supply blow dryers and other items within the room. Note what is already provided so you save space in your luggage for other things.
  5. Have a plan: For each city, my husband and I starred different sights, bars, and restaurants we wanted to see on Google maps. That way, when we were walking around aimlessly, we could kind of scout which direction we should head and which things we could scratch off our list on the way. This made it super easy to leisurely explore while not missing out on anything big!
  6. Check a local guide for seasonal events and openings: We lucked out in Amsterdam by arriving on King’s Day (a national holiday). It was a giant party in the streets and so fun, but it could have waylaid us if we hadn’t known ahead of time. Additionally, we were able to go to the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse for my MIL’s birthday. It’s only open for 2 months a year so the timing was paramount!
  7. Buy a portable phone charger and always take a business card from the hotel you’re staying: These can be solar powered or otherwise but you’ll need it! Whether you need an uber or to pull up the Metro map to find your train, a dead phone can mean losing a whole day’s opportunity to explore. Come prepared. When your phone inevitably dies and you can’t exactly remember how to pronounce the name of your hotel—or what neighborhood it’s in for that matter—having the number and address of the place is a life (and time) saver.
  8. Learn some basic phrases: Even if you botch it, people appreciate the effort of at least trying to initiate the conversation in their national language. Even if it’s only to say “Do you speak English?” it will usually ensure the kindness of the locals.
  9. Make sure you have more than six months on your passport: You’ll thank me later. The US will let you enter until your passport expires, but some countries won’t let you travel (leave) if you have less than six months left. Also, it’s a good practice to always make copies of your passport in case it’s lost or stolen.
  10. Exchange rates are usually cheapest through your credit card: If you’re from the states, you’ll have an option to charge either USD or local currency. Choose local currency and save a little. Check with your credit provider first as rates vary.

I hope you enjoyed my tips for traveling abroad! Let me know anything I missed and what trips you have planned in the comments!

Xo.

DIY Recipe

How To Make Your Own Granola

Make Your Own Granola

For breakfast, I’ve always loved granola. As a kid, I had an Uncle who kept granola in his pantry at all times. My home was usually stocked with Grape Nuts and skim milk, so granola with yogurt was a huge treat! Since then, I’ve almost always kept granola stocked in my kitchen as well. However, I can’t believe I’ve been paying for it all this time when it’s soooo simple to make your own granola! For the most part, granola only requires ingredients that you’ll already find in your kitchen cupboards. So, I decided to learn (and teach you) how to make your own! Get ready to level up your smoothie bowl and breakfast recipes!

Recipes for granola all are very versatile because the main component is rolled oats! I read that you won’t want to use quick oats because they don’t hold up as well after baking. This recipe is a great activity to do with family or friends and—perhaps even more so—it’s a quick and easy option to impress some early (or entirely unexpected) guests! Let’s not forget it as a budget option either since granola works as a meal or as a simple grab and go snack.

To make your own granola requires as little or as many ingredients as you’d like and only takes about an hour to make from start to finish.

For my granola, I wanted something that was tropical and kind of sweet. I knew I’d be putting it over plain Greek yogurt and wanted to include what I already had too much of in my pantry.

In this recipe, I added an egg white for added protein. However, granola only needs a ratio of around 1:6 wet to dry. You can make a simple syrup or use honey/agave, egg whites, and oil for your wet ingredients like I did. If you’re adding dried fruits like raisins, goji, apricots, etc., you’ll want to wait to add those until the mix is baked through and transferred to a bowl.

Make Your Own GranolaMake Your Own Granola

Make Your Own Granola

Print Recipe
Serves: 10 Cooking Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup of extra-finely shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup of pepitas
  • 1/2 cup of crushed almonds
  • 3 tbsp. bee pollen
  • 1/3 cup honey/ agave
  • 1/3 cup warmed coconut oil
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • dash of cardamom
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup green raisins
  • 1/4 cup goji berries
  • 1 packet of Mango Açaí fruit snacks

Instructions

1

Pre-heat your oven to 300°F

2

Mix the oats, seeds, nuts, and other dry ingredients in a bowl

3

Add your spices and salt to the dry mix and combine thoroughly

4

Stir in your wet mixture until all the ingredients and coated

5

Spread your mix on a parchment lined baking sheet

6

Bake for 40-60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes

7

Transfer your mix to a bowl and add your berries and dried fruits

8

Serve!

I hope you enjoyed learning how to make your own granola! Check back often for more recipes and kitchen tips Xo.

DIY

Coconut Lime Cardamom Lip and Body Scrub DIY

Lip and Body Scrub DIY

I’ve wanted to do a tutorial on a lip scrub for a while. It wasn’t until around five years ago that I realized lip scrubs existed. I suffer from bizarrely chapped lips, even products that are meant to moisturize can turn my lips peeling and puckered. For that reason, I don’t use lipstick too much because it just ends up looking like shit within an hour or two. Because of my bad luck in beauty, I’ve been diligent over the past couple of years about finding beauty products and solutions that work for my skin, budget, and lifestyle. This lip and body scrub DIY will demonstrate to you the basics of creating a delicious, fragrant, and natural beauty product for your friends and family.

Lip and Body Scrub DIY

Lip and Body Scrub DIY

Lip and Body Scrub DIY

Exfoliating Lip Scrub

I’m absolutely in love with the sweet citrus and cardamom notes that come from both of these scrubs.  When I used the lip scrub for the first time, I was immediately transported back to Bali in my mind. There’s something about the combination of fragrances and flavors that are truly tropical and luxurious. I’m obsessed with this lip and body scrub DIY—I might even develop a lip balm for my upcoming online shop.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (or sugar in the raw)
  • 1+ tbsp. coconut oil or honey/ agave
  • 5 drops lime essential oil
  • 1-2 drops vanilla oil or extract
  • A pinch of cardamom spice
  1. Combine your sugar with your oil or honey/ agave. Combine well until the mixture is a paste
  2. Add the essential oils and spices to the mix. Mix well
  3. Bottle your delicious lip scrub in a glass or plastic container. If you’re trying the recipe as a gift option, you can get cute bottles in bulk on Amazon.

This lip scrub is so delicious and edible! To use: apply a small amount to lips, rubbing around to exfoliate, and lick away excess.


Lip and Body Scrub DIYFace and Body Scrub

One of my favorite parts about this face and body scrub is that it reuses used coffee grounds. This is an excellent way to repurpose household items to make sure you’re less wasteful, and you’ll get a luxury product out of it that smells divine! Used coffee grounds already have so many practical uses in and around the home, but bath and beauty products are great! The coffee helps to wake you up as it invigorates your senses while the lime oil energizes as it’s astringent qualities cleanse.

**I don’t recommend using your used coffee grounds if you have low-quality coffee in the house (the worst part of waking up is a bad cup of coffee and the breakout it caused your face after using it in a scrub recipe).

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup used coffee grounds, pressed to get rid of excess moisture
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 10 drops lime essential oil
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom
  1. Combine your used coffee grounds with your coconut oil. Work together until a paste begins to form
  2. Add your essential oils and spices while stirring together
  3. Bottle your scrub and gift/ use accordingly

 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial for Lip and Body Scrub DIY!

Recipe

Breakfast Burrito With Rice Paper

burrito with rice paper, Breakfast Burrito with Rice Paper

I order spring rolls pretty much every time my husband and I go out to Thai food. I love the chewy texture and vibrant colors that peak through the veil of rice paper. I’m a big fan of mochi and rice noodles as well! After one of my recent visits to a sushi place, an idea struck me: What if I made a breakfast burrito with rice paper??! Holy shit, am I some breakfast genius?

I did some googling, and it turns out a breakfast burrito with rice paper has been done before.

However, it’s received way less attention than I would think. I’ve seen fruit and floral spring rolls trending on Instagram lately, which I still want to try. This time, however, it was a matter of what was available to me, so I was inspired to create a colorful breakfast burrito with rice paper.

The great thing about this recipe is how versatile it is. Rice paper is naturally gluten free, which is a huge plus! That opens the possibilities to an even larger and more diverse group. I’m always on the lookout for easy and quick meal options for my husband, as well as any guests that grace our doorstep.

You could incorporate fried tofu, sweet potato, hash browns, cheese, veggies, or nearly anything else that belongs with breakfast. I’d love to try both a tofu scramble and breakfast oats in some rice paper soon.

For the sake of simplicity—and what I had in my fridge—I used egg, avo, and goat cheese for my recipe today. I also purchased rice paper on Amazon ahead of time in preparation.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for a Breakfast Burrito With Rice Paper!

Breakfast Burrito With Rice Paper

Print Recipe
Serves: 1 Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs scrambled (or 1 cup of cubed tofu, scrambled)
  • 1/2 small avocado
  • 2 oz. goat cheese
  • 2 sheets of rice paper
  • Sriracha

Instructions

1

Scramble eggs until fluffy

2

Cut and cube avocado

3

Soak each sheet of rice paper in warm water for 5 seconds (or per manufacturer instructions) and place on a plate

4

Put all ingredients on the rice papers, distributing evenly, and roll.

5

Serve with ketchup, hollandaise, hot sauce, or whatever!

DIY

How to Build A Porch Swing

build a porch swing

Lately, my husband and I have been putting a lot of focus on making our porch and back patio more comfortable for entertaining. This has included a lot of things, such as purchasing new patio furniture and an ivy trellis, which I’ll feature in another post. Something I’ve always really wanted was a porch swing. I find something romantic in the safety and coziness of a good porch set-up. An ideal place to sip wine or coffee while cozied up to loved one. So after shopping some things online, I decided it would be best for me to learn how to build a porch swing.

I viewed lots of tutorials and different DIY porch swing options. There are quite a few beautiful tutorials on how to build a porch swing, but they aren’t accessible for the average person. Most people don’t have every type of saw available to them. Furthermore, even some of the more basic models needed pocket holes, which are great but I didn’t want to fork out extra money for a Kreg jig. I wanted to design something that was functional, cute and—most of all— one that required as few tools as possible.

I have a lot of experience with basic woodwork because of building frames, mural panels, and wall jacks for festivals I work. If there’s enough lumber available, I can build anything. However, you don’t have to have previous experience to build a porch swing.

When you build a porch swing, it’s of the utmost importance that it’s safe. Most of all, no one wants the embarrassment of having their swing collapse on a guest or family member. Trust me; my brother has had two hammock swings collapse on him at my place (I didn’t make those, though, and was using a Husky brand velcro strap to hang).

Before you tackle this instructional on how to build a porch swing, read through everything first to ensure you don’t have to re-do steps.


Release of Liability:

These instructions and guidelines are provided as a resource and general advice/ recommendations regarding installing a porch swing. Each situation is unique, and it is your (the reader’s) responsibility to ensure the safe installation of any porch swing in and out of your home. 

This notice serves as a release of liability for thornandthimble.com and Sionann Ghahremani.


How to Build A Porch Swing

DOWNLOAD PORCH SWING PLANS

SUPPLIES USED

  • Tape measure
  • Drill
  • 2.5″ Wood Screws
  • 1.5″ Wood Screws
  • 2″ Finishing nails
  • Hammer (or nail gun if you’re lucky)
  • Sand paper/ Electric sander
  • Exterior paint
  • Safety glasses
CUT LIST
  • (2) 2′ x 4′ @ 55″ (base frame)
  • (5) 2′ x 4′ @ 21″ (base frame)
  • (3) 2′ x 4′ @ 27″ (back supports)
  • (12) 1′ x 3′ @ 55″ (seat and back slats)
  • (2) 1′ x 4′ @ 25″ (I accidentally miscalculated and did 24″, whoops)
  • (2) 1′ x 4′ @ 13″
HANGING MATERIALS
  • (2) Packs of 15′ chain link (zinc coated) for 340 lbs, working load
  • (4) 1/4″ quick links with 880 lb, working load
  • (4) Nylon lock nut, coarse
  • (2) 5/16″ x 4″ Screw hook lag thread
  • (8) Fender washers 1.5.”
  • (4) 5/16″ x 4″ Eye Bolt with Nut

The entire project cost me about $90.00, but if you need to purchase essentials link screws, wood glue, etc., you may end up paying closer to $100.

Start with building the frame.

Your frame includes the (2) 55″ 2′ x 4’s and the (5) 21″ 2′ x 4’s. There will be exactly 12″ of space between each seat support and the next.

First, I drilled pilot holes before I began gluing or screwing. For pilot holes, your want to use a bit that’s at least as large as the smallest diameter of your 2.5″ screw. Once that’s all the way through both pieces, you should use a drill bit that is the same size of your screw to re-pilot the first piece of wood/ entry point for the screw. The wider pilot hole here will allow the screw to pull the piece you’re attaching tightly, this eliminates any gaping in the wood. You can read more about why to use pilot holes here.

Once the pilot holes were complete, I applied wood glue to the seat support end and attached the screws, 2 for each piece. Then I repeated it on the other side.

Begin attaching the (3) back supports.

Now you’ll attach the (3) 27″ back supports. I used the same method of piloting, gluing and drilling here.  Instead of (2) screws, I used (4) for each support.

Lay your swing on it’s back to attach the front armrest support.

Next, I attached my (2) 13″ armrest pieces to the front of each side of the swing using (2) screws and wood glue. Make sure to use your smaller 1.5″ wood screws here to avoid hot-points.

Begin attaching (7) of the 55″ seat slats to your swing with the 2″ finishing nails.

You’ll nail them straight into all the base supports beneath them, being sure to keep the sides aligned neatly. I attached the back and front seat slats first, so each was flush with the back supports and front armrests, respectively. Then, I worked inward giving each slat a 1 1/4″ gap between them. I used (3) nails on the outside edges, and (2) nails per point of contact for the rest. Use your best judgment; things should be getting pretty sturdy by now.

Attach the 25″ armrest after nailing in the first two bottom (5) 55″ back slats.

I started with doing the top and the bottom slats first again. The top slat should be flush with the upper/ top part of the back supports, and the bottom slat should be flush and on top of the back seat slat.

The top of the second back slat from the bottom should be at exactly 8 3/4″, this will allow your to rest your 25″ armrest perfectly on that second slat for support.

Once that 2nd back slat is in, attach the 25″ armrest using finishing nails. Continue connecting the remainder of your backrest slats with equal spacing.

FINISHING

Use a piece of sandpaper or an electric hand sander to sand down any rough edges or pieces of wood. You want your swing to be splinter-free.

Paint your swing with whichever color exterior paint you desire!

HANGING

All of the swing hardware will attach to the swing itself except for the Screw hook lag thread, which will go directly into the ceiling/ beam you’re hanging from. If you’re drilling into a ceiling, make sure to use a stud finder. Measure your beam to allow at least 2 inches extra on each side of the swing to account for motion. So for a 55″ swing, you’d measure 59″ total. You’ll want to first drill a pilot hole that’s slightly smaller than your screw hooks threaded diameter. Then screw in the hook to complete.

For the hardware on the swing itself, you’ll want to use the same drill bit to create a pilot hole on the 21″ exterior of the swing base on each side. Use a washer as a guide to ensure the washers have room. Once the pilot holes are drilled, put a washer on your eye hook with the nut between the washer and hook, and screw in. You’ll cap the eye bolt with a washer and Nylon lock nut on the interior underside of the swing. Repeat on the other side.

Attach one quick link to each eye bolt.

For the chain, I found the center point of each 15′ chain and hooked that link onto the Screw hook that I installed in my beam. This gave me two even sides hanging down. Attach the hanging link to your quick link at the desired height. For reference, the front of my swing is suspended one link higher than the rear, with 57 links on the rear and 56 links on the front.

Ta-da!! Now you know how to build a porch swing! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Let me know how your projects went in the comments and reach out for any questions or concerns regarding this DIY.

Recipe

My First Breadmaking Experience: Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe

Artisan Sourdough Bread

I first became interested in baking, specifically bread making, while touring a commissary for the restaurant I worked for. During my visit, the kitchen lead explained to me that they were having an issue with their “mother dough.” I love learning different recipes, so I was immediately interested in knowing about everything he was talking about. Does the dough really have a mother? Wait, the dough is a living thing, that you feed?! What the what? My head was spinning with questions and concerns. I never knew that making Artisan Sourdough Bread was an artform!

Since this experience, I’ve learned a little more about breadmaking and specifically about sourdough. King Arthur Flour is a fantastic resource for baking and breadmaking, my friend—that was kind enough to give me a sourdough starter—turned me on to their site and it’s full of great information!

If you happen to have friends that bake or dabble in bread making, consider yourself lucky! On my journey to my first bread making experience, I lamented over acquiring a sourdough starter or piece of “mother dough.” I knew I could make my own starter using a few separate ingredients. But is that better? I was so grateful to be gifted a starter in the end. This started me on my path to an Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe of my own!

The basics for sourdough are this:Artisan Sourdough Bread

  • Sourdough is fermented and used to start the next batch. This is a ‘leaven’ or ‘starter’ and is used instead of fresh yeast.
  • When flour mixes with warm water, it attracts bacteria, including wild yeast. The living bacteria create/ expel by-products that allow the dough to rise.
  • Bacteria from our (your) environment break down makeup of the flour, turn complex carbs into sugars, which the yeast feed on. This process produces a gas (CO2) and causes the dough to expand. Depending on your breadmaking environment your bacteria and yeast will behave differently. That’s why there’s ‘San Francisco’ Sourdough, because of the environment/ climate the dough is cultivated in.
  • When raised dough goes into an oven, the yeast will die off, but the CO bubbles are trapped inside. It’s for this reason that bread, particularly sourdough, has airy bubbles.

As I said, I acquired a starter, but you can easily make your own sourdough starter!

I loved the result of my first Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe. I modified a few recipes into the one I used. Most are very similar anyway.
Artisan Sourdough Bread

Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe

Print Recipe
Serves: 2 loaves Cooking Time: 3+ Hours

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of "fed" sourdough starter (This means your starter has been fed in the last 6-12 hours and has a nice, happy, bubbly consistency).
  • 1 1/4 cups of lukewarm water
  • 4-5 cups of unbleached flour
  • 1 packet (2 tsp.) active dry yeast (you can add this straight in or activate it with warm water per the instructions on the package)
  • 2 1/2 - 3 tsp. salt
  • Optional:
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. of citric acid (for extra sour bread)
  • 1 tbsp. sugar in the raw

Instructions

1

Combine all ingredients and knead into a smooth ball of dough with a little bounce. You can do this by hand or for 3-5 minutes with a bread hook in a mixer.

2

Set the dough ball in a greased, covered bowl and allow it to proof/ rise for 70-100 minutes. If the bowl is large enough you can cover with plastic wrap or use a shower cap like I did. This protects the dough from drying out. Some people even use a wet towel. You just don't want the cover to touch your dough.

3

Divide the dough in half and carefully shape the dough into loaves, placing them on a greased baking sheet or parchment lined baking sheet. Allow the loaves to proof/ rise for another hour or so.

4

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

5

Slash a deep "X" through each loaf on top. Use a serrated bread knife if possible. I didn't and I read it's easier.

6

Place your loaves (on the greased baking sheet or parchment lined baking sheet) in the oven for 20-35 minutes. Check your loafs regularly every 5-10 minutes and spray them quickly and lightly with lukewarm water.

 

Recipe

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger

sweet potato black bean burger

This Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger exists because a good veggie burger is hard to come by. The store bought kinds are typically bland in flavor and trying to front like some fake meat, which is gross if you ask me. What if you could fulfill your veggie burger desires in your very own kitchen? Well, you can!

Being a Lacto-Ovo vegetarian—as well as a reasonably active person—I’m always looking for new recipes and ideas to get enough protein in my diet. As many of you know, it can be increasingly difficult to fulfill your protein goals as a vegetarian. It’s not that it’s too hard, and the average person doesn’t need too much protein. As an athlete, though, it just takes more precise math and dedication to tracking your nutrition. I’ve tried a lot of veggie burgers over the years. Black bean is my favorite variation, but I had quite a bit of trouble with the quinoa & black bean burgers. They always seemed to crumble apart, which might be a user error but was annoying nonetheless. These small kitchen mishaps inspired me to look at other ingredient options. I was triumphal with this Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger.

My friends and family have been raving about this sweet potato black bean burger since I first served it with my Mango Radish Coleslaw. The sweet potato gives the burger a great consistency. Not to mention, the little bit of sweetness enhances the other spices and ingredients. I put an egg in mine for the extra protein nudge, but you could totally use vegan egg replacer or even a little Greek yogurt if you eat dairy but not eggs.

Serve this Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger with any spring or summer side. Praise and happy faces will surround you, ain’t nothing wrong with that!

sweet potato black bean burger

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger

Print Recipe
Serves: 4-6 Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes (peeled, cooked, mashed)
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 egg (you can sub greek yogurt for vegetarians and avocado or egg replacer to make it vegan)
  • 3/4 cup Panko (try a gluten free option, quinoa, or brown rice as an alternative)
  • 1 1/2+ tbsp. of coconut oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. Eye of Newt (lol, it's ground mustard seed, Muggles!)
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2+ tsp. salt
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions

1

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp. of oil in a pan over medium heat

2

Mix all ingredients except for oil together until you can form patties with it

3

Cook the patties in in oil for about 3 minutes each side or until golden brown.

4

Plate and serve!

Notes

You can cover the pan while the burgers cook on a slightly lower temp if you're worried about the egg getting hot enough.