Browsing Tag


On Record Collecting // Weekend Almanac Issue 2

May 9, 2014

I’ve got a fun little personal post before the weekend sets in. What are your plans this weekend? Are you going to be spending it with your beautiful mother? I personally will be relishing in a graduation grill-outs since Wyatt’s little bro is finally graduating. I’m in charge of desserts too so there is probably a good chance something sweet will be popping up around here in the next few days!

Last fall, I wrote an article about record collecting for Weekend Almanac and it finally appeared in their newest issue that was released last month. Weekend Almanac is an inspiration of beautiful photos, recipes, adventures, and guides that all take place on the weekend. You should definetely hop on over to their website and check it out for yourself.

On that note, there were a lot of ‘outtakes’ from the photo shoot I took for the article and I thought it might be fun to share them on here with all of you! Yes, this was before Wyatt cut all of his hair off. And yes, record collecting is sort of like cheating for me since I sell indie records for my day job. But hey, its a hobby none-the-less and something else I’m passionate about when not in the kitchen. Plus, lets be honest, there is nothing more satisfying than cooking up a meal with a warm vinyl spinning in the background.
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Happy Friday! See you in a few days with a new recipe to share with all of you!

A Look Back & New Goals /// 2013 Round-Up

December 29, 2013



The small gap between Christmas and New Years has always been a time of reflection. A time to sit back in awe and amazement that another year has gone by. A time to shuffle through all the things you’ve clung onto for the past year. And a time to let go of all the items on your list that weren’t checked off. It’s even easier for us bloggers to do this since we’ve got a whole website dedicated to documenting our year – whether its through the food we ate or the clothes we wore or the products we lusted over..these actions tell a story that make up a chapter of our lives.

I’m very pleased to report that my reflections this year have been SO much more positive than last years. 2012 had been a year of huge change and a complete year of doubt. I had graduated from college halfway through and had spent my whole life in confidence before that point. After graduation, I was left feeling lost and vulnerable – left with complete doubt in everything I did (everything from where I was living to what food I was putting into my body to coming to terms with getting older). But – let’s stop there and not reminiscent down that rabbit hole.

It feels so good to read that old post and know that I’ve grown into my ‘adult’ skin so much in this past year. Yes, I still have a lot of growing to do and I still have a long list of irrational fears (who doesn’t?) but it’s been such an improvement since then. I’ve come to really love the small Midwest town I call home – not because there is that punk house that used to serve us drinks underage during shows or those spider-ridden rocks where we could day drink on the lake all day without being bothered. No, I’ve learned to look at this city with fresh eyes and appreciate being able to walk a few blocks to our local co-op grocery store to buy ‘hard to find’ flour blends and local produce. I’ve learned to love the lake for it’s beautiful trails that you can spend a whole Saturday afternoon getting lost in (sober!) and making your dog’s day by taking him for long walks through the centuries old neighborhoods.

I don’t think I’ve changed too much in 2013 but my outlook certainly has. I’m so very excited to evolve more come 2014. Here were my 2013 goals:

1. More adventures close to home

2. Less doubt, More Risk

3. Less processed foods

4. Work on photography

5. Keep moving forward & always improving

6. Continue to surround myself with positive people


I think it’s safe to say I can check all of those off my list. Although, everything on that list are all things that are still a ‘work in progress’ and I do want to continue with these goals in 2014. Here are a few more light-hearted goals to add to the 2014 mix:

7. Get our asses to Montreal. It’s time – this IS our next big trip.

8. Spend as many lazy Saturdays as possible on the vintage turquoise boat I inherited

9. Rent a summer home on Lake Michigan and spend a weekend on the beach

10. Make my own print magazine / zine (whether it be a collaboration or just all VV – it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and needs to happen)

10 feels good. 6 BIG ongoing goals from last year and 4 new fun ones. Yeah, I feel good about this. I’m ready for you 2014!


And finally, as I continue with my reflection of 2013, I thought I’d share some of my favorite VV memories with you..

  Continue Reading…

Homemade Pumpkin Pasta with Goat Cheese Whip & Browned Butter Sage

September 27, 2013


You know, I was so proud of myself for thinking about using that can of pumpkin before October rolled around. I was like ‘damn, I’m going to beat the pumpkin craze this year for sure!’ and then I waited 3 days to post this. And now this recipe is in the dead middle of all the pumpkin blondies and nutmeg dutch babies. Oh well. This was my attempt to create a ‘savory’ dish with the pumpkin instead of the sugar overload that October tends to bring (helloooo Halloween!).



Continue Reading…

The Blue Bush

July 12, 2013


I had so much fun reading Baker Bettie’s post on their new home that it inspired me to give you guys a little peak into our lives.

It’s been one year since I started the ‘post college’ stage of my life that I’m currently knee deep in. It’s been a year since I moved into The Blue Bush with Wyatt and our peanut butter loving dog, Tuko. The Blue Bush (as we like to call it since…well…the outside of the house is bright blue) is a cozy little Midwest home that was built in 1910. Yup, that’s what the records say…1910. So, as you can imagine, the place isn’t exactly in tip top shape. We’ve worked hard to transform it into a home that reflects us and it’s been fun to watch the process unfold. I’ve collected quite a few pictures of the last year so I was thinking this could be a good time to show you around.


This also means it’s been one year since we owned a microwave or a dishwasher. Can you guess which one we miss the most? What my nails wouldn’t do to have a rest from being drenched in soapy dish water for just ONE night.

As for the microwave… I always just forget they even exist these days. I still remember the look on Wyatt’s face when I first purposed not having a microwave in our new home…the look of bewilderment followed by complete disbelief. But he agreed and it’s been wonderful. I’ve learned SO many new things since having to go back to cooking ingredients the way they are supposed to be cooked (i.e. using a double boiler, boiling water over the stove top, etc). My favorite part about not having a microwave is that you always have to work for your food around here. Sure, if you REALLY want to just eat a frozen dinner of (veggie) nuggets then that’s fine…but you’ll have to bake them for 20 minutes in the oven which means you could just whip up some polenta / sautéed veggies in that same amount of time. It really has helped me to not take short cuts and prepare real food in the kitchen.

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We’ve filled the house with lots of vintage furniture…


…And vinyl records..


..And have filled our sunroom with house plants (which is a perfect little hideout full of green in the middle of winter)


This is the studio room…


<— Wyatt’s desk and (can you tell who is the clean one in this relationship? ahem, definitely not me…) and my desk —>

bluebush15  bluebush11

We spent a lot of our time in the backyard. I’ve managed to build two gardens…one with herbs and one with vegetables. The cucumbers and zucchini have been going crazy and it’s finally time for the tomatoes to start ripening (!!!).




Well, I just wanted to take the opportunity to show you around a little. It’s crazy it’s taken a whole year to get around to telling you about my obsession with house plants, my love for vinyl records, and show you a peak of our little cozy home. Thanks for reading!


Searchable Saturdays

June 29, 2013

…And time for some inspiring links from around the web:


1. ADVENTURING // Headed to the west coast at the end of July to join a friend on her cross country road trip. I’ll be tagging along on the part from San Fran to Portland which means I’ve been going a little crazy with planning. We are definitely hitting up the Redwoods and ocean. Anyone have any recommendations for San Fran / Portland / anything in between?!

2. INSPIRING // Look at this salad from Gourmande in the Kitchen! Don’t all the wonderful colors, textures, and shapes make you want to eat this for every meal? Love Love Love feeling inspired by vegetables. Now, the only problem I need to get over is my dislike for beets…they are so beautiful…why can’t I just like them?!

3. CREATING // I’ve been familiarizing myself with dreamweaver and Issuu a lot lately in hopes to start making my own VV online magazine / zine. This has triggered hours and hours of flipping through magazines and online design books in the name of “research”.

4. CRAVING // Milkshake Strawberry Banana Cake?! Yes, please. This ‘milkshake turned baked goods’ trend has been popping up all over Pinterest but no one has done it quiet as beautifully as Hungry Rabbit.


Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend planned! I’d like to do some adventuring to the lake but the forecast calls for storms all weekend. It might be a sign that I’m overdue for a day getting lost in the kitchen…

Searchable Saturdays

June 8, 2013


1. CRAVING /// Have you seen this Roasted Apricot Buttermilk Ice Cream with Almond Streussel from Reclaiming Provincial?! Yup – dayummm! Summer fever has hit me hard and I have began a ridiculously large collection of ice cream and popsicle recipes..

2. CREATING /// The Vanilla Bean posted some wonderful pictures of making lilac sugar. I love using flowers in baking (makes your baked goods so so fancy!) or perfect way to add some extra fragrance in your afternoon tea.

3. INSPIRING /// I don’t usually save ‘inspirational’ quotes but this picture has stuck with me for some time. I often times get worked up over work and have problems letting it go – this picture reminds me that I often times get sucked into a situation and ‘go a little mad’; getting creative with doing something out of the normal helps reminds me I can remove myself from this funk. My way of removing myself is by hiking, baking, cooking, camping, and being out in nature.

4. DREAMING /// My dream is to eventually own my own bakery. Until I have the money and find a wonderful town lacking fresh breads and treats, I can only dream and prep. I’ve contemplating taking some bread baking and pastry classes to help expand my cooking knowledge.


Hope you have a wonderful weekend! I’m off to do some thrifting and pick up some fresh produce at the farmer’s market.


PS Have you checked out my new logo in the top corner? It’s totally different from all those ‘minimalist’ logos that are out in the food world right now and I love it. I asked Wyatt’s brother to draw me a picture of two vegetables having fun canoeing together and this is what he came up with. It’s a weird mix between a children’s book cover and DIY zine style – I love it!

Cabin In The Woods

May 28, 2013

We ditched work last Friday and headed to a cabin in the woods for our long Memorial weekend. Wyatt has family who owns a Wisconsin lake home. We had been promised hours of swimming, boat rides, and tubing. Unfortunately, the weather never rose above 60 and we had to improvise. I did manage to get out of my comfort zone by hanging out with some lamas, riding on a 4 wheeler for the first time, and eating obscene amounts of velveeta cheese (which was kind of a mistake.. but I’d probably do it again).

We couldn’t do much exploring close to the cabin because they were having problems with ticks and bears (another weird experience for us – I can’t be the only one that thinks this is strange, right?). We were, however, able to build campfire down by the water and enjoy the dock. We also adventured to a nearby State Park (Interstate Park) and did some major hiking. Here are some snapshots from the weekend:


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What did YOU do for the long weekend?


Searchable Saturdays

April 6, 2013



1. LOVING /// Tomorrow marks the first outdoor Farmer’s Market of the year here in Bloomington. I am sure there won’t be much produce yet but lots of delicious local food, plants, and live music. The first market is what I always consider marks that Spring is officially here.

2. CREATING /// Baker Bettie is hosting her annual Cookie Wars. I was the winner last year (woooo!) with my Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies with Mascarpone Frosting and can’t wait to enter again! If you are looking for some inspiration, check out her post about previous cookie recipes here and don’t forget to enter by May 1st!

3. GROWING /// My seeds are sprouting! There is nothing more rewarding than growing your own food from seed. I decided to invest all of my money that usually goes towards our CSA into our garden. Pretty risky but that means we can not fail! Hope on over to Fox In The Pine’s blog to see her method for starting seeds!

4. EXPLORING /// We originally had a Southwestern road trip planned for the beginning of May. However, the time snuck up on us so we are pushing our big summer trip back to September. That means more time to plan (maybe even go somewhere new instead? Yellowstone? Montreal? San Fran?) and more small trips between. I’m thinking next 3 day weekend we are going to head to the Smoky Mountains.

Hope everyone has some wonderful weekend plans and gets outside to enjoy this spring weather.

Searchable Saturday

March 2, 2013



1. Puppies on the mind. We are still on the hunt for an adorable french bulldog to be Tuko’s new playmate. We’ve been going to the animal shelter to look for lovable options but I’ve found it much harder [emotionally] to go there than before we had a dog. Perhaps now that we have the sort of connection with our own pup, it’s hard to see all those dogs not experiencing that loving connection and knowing that some of them never will. It’s just really sad. But it does make me feel good knowing that we could be helping one of those dogs one day soon.

2. There is this underground (literally- it’s in a cellar) hipster bar we go to sometimes (hipster? Don’t believe me – they have a drink called ‘The Pitchfork’). We were there on Thursday night for a friend’s show and I noticed a bunch of jars full of colorful concoctions in the fridge behind the bar. I asked the bartender about one of them and he said ‘Oh. That has ginger, orange, and gin in it. But it won’t be ready until the weekend.’ After that, I couldn’t help but start obsessing over the idea. How does the process work? What were they making? How long does it have to sit? Was it a fruit liqueur? An infused gin? I won’t know unless I go back this weekend (which…it sounds like I have to) but it started getting me thinking about fun infusions. I can feel a weekend project coming on…

3. DEEP DISH PIZZA! What more do I need to say? Growing up, I would spend the weekends taking the train into downtown Chicago with friends. We would go to concerts and eat obscene amounts of deep dish pizza. I find myself craving it from time to time but we don’t really have any deep dish pizza places down here. Best next thing? Guess I’m just going to have to start making my own!

4. So the haircut that has long been tempting me finally came last week. You think I would have got it out of my system but now I’m just obsessing with new hair ideas more than ever. I fear that once the newness of this haircut wares off, I will be left feeling like I have a super boring-plain trim. Quick! I better do something drastic – time to dye it! Should I go bright red using Lush’s organic henna dye or Aveda’s blue-black dye?! Should I do blonde dips or dye a chunk of my bangs blonde? Or do an all over honey blonde color?! So many options!


Well, I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend ahead of them! My weekend plans got put on hold because my car is in the shop. This means the next two days will probably consist of a lot of laying around the house (unless I feel like walking…in the snow…and cold). Sometimes it’s good to be stuck in one place – that is when the creativity has to set in. Right? Maybe? I don’t know.

Searchable Saturdays

February 23, 2013



1. ADVENTURING /// I’ve had a bit of the winter blues this week so Wyatt demanded that we take a lunch break at the greenhouse on Thursday. I was totally against the idea because it felt more stressful to find parking, pick up a sandwich, walk to the place, AND get back to work in an hour than it was worth. But that all changed when we got there. We ate our sandwiches in the ‘tropical’ section (we are talking 85 and humid – heaven!) and I forgot all about my annoyances from work (or the fact that I had to be back in a timely fashion). Sometimes I forget how happy greenery makes me and breathing in the fresh, humid air was the biggest stress- reliever I felt all winter.

2. WANDERING /// We are headed to Florida in a little over 2 weeks and I cannot think about anything else. Biking to the beach. Grilling out for every meal. Swimming. Sun bathing. Swimming holes. Smelling the ocean. Swimming. Exploring the marshes. Digging through vintage stores. Roadside diners. GAH – SO EXCITED!

3. CREATING /// This is it. This is going to be the weekend that I finally try to make macaroons. It’s such an intimidating dessert but that is still not an excuse to keep putting it off. To be honest, I’ve never even ATE one before…let alone made them. This is an experience that needs to happen.

4. LUSTING /// Been OBSESSED with the idea of chopping all my hair off and dying it black or red. We are talking 90′s bob here. I have mega long brown hair (picture in the top left) and just want to do a drastic change. Must have stood in front of my mirror at least 4 times this week with the intention of chopping it all off but backed out each time. I don’t mean to sound shallow but cutting your hair is scary. True Story.


I hope you have a fantastic weekend ahead of you. I’m off to do some major thrifting / check out the new LUSH cosmetics store that opened this week. Hopefully my love for consumerism will boost my bitterness towards this snow / slush weather.

Searchable Saturdays

January 26, 2013

Searchable Saturday’s Time! Here are some inspirations from the week…




1. Chocolate and [sweet] Potato Chips?! Ohhh mannnn. These are gonna be awesome!

2. I’ve got planning my garden on the mind and have been daydreaming constantly about fresh picked tomatoes, basil, lavender, and cucumbers…

3. Long hair has made me super lazy and I feel like I only ever wear it down. Not anymore! Starting this week I am going to take back the fun parts of having long hair and play around with it!

4. I started on a crazy time consuming and oh so awesome project this week. There are so many photos from traveling to Maine, Austin, Portland, Colorado, Utah, and Florida over the last year and a half that I’m determined to do something about it. I’ve embarked on creating an online zine of all my favorite FILM photos and cannot be more excited. I’ve posted a few of them on pinterest so hop on over there for a preview. More details on this soon!


Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! I’m off to the greenhouse to pretend like it’s tropical and humid out [and maybe take some 35mm photos while I'm feeling inspired].

Veggie Dogs & Winter Fires

January 20, 2013

No recipe post today. Just an adventure in the woods geode hunting, roasting veggie dogs, listening to tapes, and playing around a fire.



Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. It was so nice to step away from my stove and cook over an open fire. To drink a few beers before 3 pm. To wonder in the woods on a brisk day. To watch the sun set over the water. To go on an outdoor adventure in the middle of January.




Searchable Saturdays

January 19, 2013

Mixing up the format again for Searchable Saturdays…because I can. Let me know what you think. Cool? Cool.




1. I’m constantly looking for inspiration in new forms and ordered this quarterly publication this week. I LOVE low-fi photography and cannot wait to get this in the mail! Ordered their summer issue but the winter one is on sale right now for 11 bucks. Go check it out!

2. I’ve had the worst spring fever this week and it has sparked a lusting for high-waisted shorts and round sunglasses. Check out my spring style board on pinterest for a look into all the fashion lusting I’ve been doing.

3. This picture may have made me drool a little bit. Lettuce, Avocado, Cucumber, and Peanut Sauce?! Yes, please!

4. With spring fever comes a small feeling of stir-crazy. I am SO ready to road trip and go swimming and go canoeing and sleep under the star. Gah!

Well, I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend! I am off to drag Wyatt on a hiking and winter picnic excursion because 50 degrees is warm enough for my stir-crazy to demand an adventure.

Searchable Saturdays

December 1, 2012

Okay, let’s try something different. So I’m a visual person and there is a good chance that you are too. I resisted using photos in my Searchable Saturday’s posts for a long time because 1. I feel uneasy about using other people’s work and like to try to keep it strictly original around VV and 2. I am very particular about all the photos being uniform and the same size, shape, etc.

But you know what? Screw it. There are some REALLY gorgeous photos from the links this week and I’m going to show them off.

1. Already prepping for the Holidays? Me too! Click here are some beautiful (and free!) printable gift tags for all your holiday gifts!



2. I call myself a baker but have never made a pie with a lattice top. Shameful? Probably. Perhaps this tutorial is just what I need to push my baking boundaries….



3. This week I have been enormously inspired by Cannelle et Vanille’s food photography. As I continue the journey to find my aesthetic and grow my photography, I’ve noticed (thanks to Pinterest) that I am drawn to “busy” food photography overloaded with colors, shapes, and textures.

4. I’ve been craving some DIY projects in my life. Adding making this geometric garland to my weekend goals!

5. Don’t know the difference between bread and pastry flour? Check out this great quick flour reference for all your flour needs!

Well, I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! I’m off to pick up my winter CSA box…

Searchable Saturdays

November 17, 2012


Good Morning! Do you have big weekend plans? We are hosting a Friendsgiving this evening so I am planning to spend the rest of the day cooking, baking, photography, and cleaning [when did I become so domesticated?]. Anyhow, here are a few links I found to get my creativity going this week:

1. I have been developing a mood board to better try to understand what VV’s photography aesthetic should be. I found this beautiful food photography blog while doing some research for the board this week. So gorgeous!

2. Make your own flavored coffee? I’m in.

3. Vegetarians live, on average, 8 years longer than meat eaters? I’ll take that!

4. Freckled Mag is my new favorite online magazine. The photography is stunning and the art is beautiful. Very inspiring!

5. An informative (and not overwhelming!) intro to Illustrator. Love it!

6. Finally! I super easy widget for instragram that updates the feed as you post.

7. VV was on TheKitchn this week! How cool is that?!

8. This Dulce Delight video!! Everything from the bright colors to the beautiful typography to that accent! So good!


For more inspirational links, check out VV on Pinterest!


Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream

November 9, 2012

Oh my goodness, it’s Friday! I hope you are as excited as I am. Last weekend we had daylight saving (turned the clocks back an hour) so it has been pitch black every night this week when I leave work. Total bummer. But the great thing about it being Friday is tomorrow I can play outside in the SUN all day! And it’s suppose to be in the high 60′s and sunny. You know what that means? It means I’ve already planned a full menu for a lunch picnic with my puppy and boyfriend.

Anyhow, here is a simple and quick recipe for vegan pumpkin ice cream! I used bananas as the base which made the ice cream thick but the banana taste was masked by the pumpkin and cinnamon. Have you tried this trick before? Frozen bananas blended taste super similar to ice cream…it’s awesome. Whoever thought of this was a serious genius. I cannot wait to experiment with this concept more (I’m thinking…chocolate, banana, and peanut butter in our near future?!).



Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream

Makes about 2-3 servings

  • 3 bananas, frozen and peeled
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Serve right away (it will have a texture similar to soft serve) or let freeze for 2 hours to make firm.

Enjoy with warm pie or as a late night snack (and don’t even feel guilty about it!)


PS: Don’t forget to check out the wonderful giveaway I am hosting this week!

Moody Monday // Bannock Bread

November 5, 2012

So I started my day a bit bummed out. In addition to it being Monday (yuck), I also received some news that my designer working on the new blog layout had some family things come up and she will not be able to follow through on my redesign! It’s a total shame and sort of got me down (I had been looking forward to this redesign since September!). However, after much consideration, I have come to the conclusion I was meant to do this one myself. I started this blog as a creative outlet and for me to hand off one of the biggest parts of the creative process for a blog (designing it!) seems a bit silly. Yes, it’s going to take many hours of drinking ginger-lemon tea and watching youtube videos to figure out how to transfer all my information into a self-hosting site and to learn what the html code is…for well, pretty much everything…. but it will be a rewarding learning experience. I had been feeling in a bit of a blog rut lately and this will be good to step back from my daily posting routine and a chance to get creative on a different level.



Anyhow, enough about that – how was your weekend? I picked up the What Katie Ate and Homemade Winter (I made those delicious Gingerbread muffins from her last book!) for some weekend inspiration. This recipe for bannock is out of the Homemade Winter book and it was oh so delicious with some butter and strawberry jam. Think a hybrid of a savory scone and crumbly pancake. Got it? Now you want to make some? Okay, cool. Here is the recipe:



Bannock Bread

adapted from Homemade Winter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, cold and sliced
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I made my own)

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Next, cut in the butter and slowly add the buttermilk until the mixture is just combined (don’t overmix!).

Heat a skillet over high heat and melt a tablespoon of butter and then turn down to medium-high heat. Form the sticky dough into a large ball and place on the skillet (flatten it a bit but not so much that it’s touching the edges). Let cook on that side for about 5 minutes (turn down the temperature a little bit if it’s cooking too fast – I almost burned mine the first time around) and then flip to cook on the other side for another 5 minutes.

Remove from pan and let cool slightly. Serve with butter and jam or cream cheese or syrup or whatever you can find that looks tasty in your fridge!

Colorado Exploring

November 2, 2012

Heyya! No recipe today. Just a few snapshots from our Denver trip last weekend. Hope everyone is gearing up for a fantastic weekend!


PS It’s the last day for my Cascal Giveaway so don’t forget to sign up before it’s too late!

Chai Latte Pancakes + A Giveaway

October 26, 2012

Okay, so I have a confession. I don’t really like water…I know that sounds weird and maybe it’s because the water in my town is HEAVILY polluted but it just does not do it for me. Soo…bland. I’ll drink it if it’s boiled and has tea steeped in it..or if it’s gone through the process of being brewed into coffee. Other than that, I stick to sparkling water. The heat wave that struck the Midwest this July really got me addicted to canned seltzer water…and to flavored fizzy water. And here I am, 3 months later in a bit of a rut with my 4 cans of flavored sparkling water a day. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my sparkling water but, for a change of pace, I was very excited to try out this new all natural bubbly “soft drink” that Cascal approached me about it.

Cascal All Natural soft drinks are crafted with natural juices (no added sugar except from the juices) and fermented for fuller flavor. At first, I was a little put off by the word ‘soft drink’ because sugary pop comes to mind and I do not usually drink soda. However, this stuff is not the average soda you are used to getting at McDonalds. It reminds me of a mix between my beloved seltzer water and a sparkling juice. The end results are just terrific.

A few of my favorite parts about this soda? Well, they have AWESOME and intriguing flavors. My favorite was the Crisp White which had notes of Pear, Apricot, and Magnolia. Even the one with a chocolate note (Ripe Rough with notes of Chocolate, Rose, and cherry) had a refreshing and not overly sweet flavor to it. And if I have not convinced you already, each can is only 60-80 calories. 60-80 calories for a soda? Ohh yeah!

Anyhow, if you are into trying these out, head to your nearest Whole Foods to pick up your favorite flavor or enter my giveaway for a chance to win a sample pack! The sample pack will have the following five sodas in it:

Crisp White – With notes of pear, apricot and magnolia

Ripe Rouge – With notes of cherry, rose and chocolate

Fresh Tropical – With notes of mango, jasmine and kaffir lime

Bright Citrus – With notes of lemongrass, tangerine and pineapple

Berry Cassis – With notes of black currant, tangerine and lemon

And now for the fine details…

How To Enter:

Leave a comment below telling me your favorite fall soup recipe.

For Extra entries:

Like Cacal or Vegetarian Ventures on Facebook and leave a comment below saying you did


follow Cascal (@CheersCascal) or Vegetarian Ventures (@shellywester) on Twitter and leave a comment below saying you did!
***Make sure to include your email in the comment below so I know how to get a hold of you! This giveaway will be closed on Friday, November 2nd at 10 PM Eastern time and is (sorry!) open to US residents only.***

This is now closed!


Oh, also, shifting topics…I have a recipe for you! Here is a recipe for some vegan chai latte pancakes that I created using a combination of Isa Chandra’s Chai Latte Cupcakes and Perfect Pancakes recipes!

Perfect way to brighten up your morning on these gloomy fall days!

Chai Latte Pancakes

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons canola/vegetable/coconut oil
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 black tea bag or 2 teaspoons loose leaf tea
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • dash of vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until just boiling. Remove from heat, add in tea bags, and cover. Let steap for 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves. Make a well in the center of the dried ingredients and add the oil, almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until everything is well combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium and pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet (you should be able to make 2-3 at a time depending on the skillet size). Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Serve warm with cocoa powder and syrup.

Moody Monday /// Maple Glazed Acorn Squash

October 15, 2012

Good Afternoon! I am feeling particularly moody today because I am just not ready for the weekend to be over. Luckily, I spent all weekend doing things I wanted to do….hiking, exploring, cooking, baking, yoga[ing], etc. On Saturday, Wyatt and I took the afternoon to explore some new shores along Lake Monroe. We have our normal spot that we always adventure to in the summer to bask in the sun, play our favorite tapes, and dip our bodies into the lake. However, now the weather is too cool for that we decided to spend our time walking along the shores and taking in the beautiful fall leaves, crisp breeze, and sound of the water against the rocks. It was such a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

And, on the way back into town we stumbled upon an abandoned water-slide (how random is that to just find a giant water slide in the woods?). It was built out of cement and runs 400 feet. After some research, we discovered it was an old attraction from the 70s that was quite popular back in its day but was eventually shut down because of larger theme parks that opened up in the area. It’s too weird to think that we have probably passed by this place dozens of times and never thought to look closely.

Anyhow, here are a few pictures from the adventures (some really weirdly saturated photos…they transferred from my phone weirdly…but I kind of like it. Look at how blue Wyatt’s sweater is in the last one!):


And, as usual, to go with my Moody Monday Theme…I will be keeping the recipe super simple today! This roasted acorn squash is perfect to go with any weeknight stew or even as a side at your next holiday dinner. Just take ten minutes to prep and then pop in the oven for an hour while you prep the rest of dinner! So easy!

I should let you know…this recipe may be simple but this side is packed full of flavor. The drizzle of maple syrup helps bring out the natural sweetness that shines through when roasting squash. It’s the perfect side to counteract that savory main dish.

Maple-Glazed Acorn Squash

adapted from SpoonForkBacon
  • 1 acorn squash, center removed and
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon sage, chopped
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the acorn squash into equal slices and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, brown sugar, sage, and salt.

Bake for 40 minutes (and flip halfway through). Drizzle maple syrup over the squash and cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve warm!

Searchable Saturdays

October 13, 2012

We made it! It’s the weekend! I don’t know what it is like by you but it’s GORGEOUS today in Bloomington, Indiana. I am going to keep this short because we are getting ready to head out for a day hike///picnic (could be one of the last ones this year!).
Here are a few inspirations from the week:

1. A fantastic tutorial on adding borders to scenery pictures which triggered me playing around with the picture above.

2. I eat A TON of salads and have been trying to make my own salad dressing as much as possible. Here is a great article on understanding what make’s a great vinaigrette!

3. Along the lines of salad…do you know how to properly use your refrigerator for produce? I didn’t before reading this.
4. Not going to lie…our house is [very] old and now that it is too cold to have the windows open, it gets musky REAL quick. DIY all-natural air freshener? I think so!

5. More wonderful photography tips that every blogger should know!

6. We made this amazing butternut squash pasta with friends earlier this week. I am already craving more!

7. Apple Butter mustard? Yes, please!

Searchable Saturdays

September 29, 2012

Insta-portrait with Tuko. Yes, that is right, I am the most annoying dog owner ever and always want to take pictures with Taco/Teekee when he is sound asleep (I can’t help it! That is when he is the cutest!)


And here are a few inspirations that I came across this week….

1. As anyone who has read my blog this summer knows, I have been crazy about coming up with cocktail concoctions so this little tutorial was incredibly informative! And… beautiful photos never hurt!

2. I’ve never made a cheese plate before but these pictures are sure as hell making me want to….

3. Tomorrow is a national free museum day which reminded me that I really would like to go to the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the St. Louis City Museum before it gets too cold. AND, my friend just informed me of an awesome Mid-Century Museum nearby that we must check out. Museums on my fall to-do list? I think so.

4. I don’t really talk much about music on VV which is weird…since my day job does consist of working for 25 independent indie-rock labels…anyhow, this is a video from Moon Duo that is too awesome not to share.

5. I’m obsessed with trying to improve my photography skills and here are a few tutorials that I was super into this week: The Language of Photography and Get That Blurry Background

6. Oh! We hosted our first ‘Horror Thursdays’ move night this week and I made Joy The Baker’s giant skillet cookie for it. It. was. so. delicious!


Okay, well it’s too nice out to be on my computer right now. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and enjoys a lovely lunch picnic today!

Moody Monday // Basil Salt

September 17, 2012

Hello, Gloomy Monday. The overcast and rain made it particularly hard to get out of bed this morning but this picture from camping next weekend managed to brighten my mood. So…here I am… currently moving pretty [very slowly] into my week. Ah, oh well.

Did everyone have a good weekend? I hope so! Mine was spent with family, at the farmer’s market, cooking yummy food, plant shopping and doing yoga. I picked up some delicious looking butternut squash (helllooooo, Fall!) and some sweet corn (before it’s too late!)…ah, I love this “in-between” part of the season where summer vegetables are still around but fall produce is also popping up.

However, now it’s back to business! I’ve spent a good portion of today looking at website designers and am feeling very frustrated. It’s like looking for the perfect home to move into! There are endless options but I can’t seem to find the right designer/company that fits both my style and my budget. And so the search continues….



And to continue our discussion from last week’s Moody Monday, let’s talk about another way to preserve basil! Come on, I know you all have pots upon pots full of basil blooming in your backyard right now and we all know they will be gone as soon as that first [unexpected] frost hits. So pick as much as you can and let’s bake some basil salt! [or preserve some pesto like we did last week!]

Who needs plain old basic salt when you can make your own flavored salt? Basil salt is a fun way to retain the flavors of summer all year long. In the summer, sprinkle it on top of a [cucumber/cream cheese] sandwich or enjoy with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. In the winter, enjoy with an Italian-inspired pasta dishes or even on top of your morning pile of eggs and hash browns.

Oh and did I mention that the subtle mint tint the basil gives the salt is absolutely beautiful? Yup, not lying.

Basil Salt

  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup coarse salt

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Pulse everything in a food processor until incorporated and finely ground. On a parchment lined baking sheet, spread out the salt so that it’s in a single layer.

Bake for 30-40 minutes and stir halfway through the cooking process.

Enjoy sprinkled on everything!

Searchable Saturdays

September 15, 2012
photo from our camping trip last weekend at Lake Michigan


And here are a few of my favorite web links from this week…

1. I have been doing the yoga journal fitness challenge and it has been a great motivator! It’s pushed me to wake up early every morning and do one of their work out videos (which gets sent right to your email!).

2. My friend, Kristin, and I have been doing weekly craft nights which as been a nice way to push each other to actually do all the DIYs we swoon over. This week, we tackled how to make billy buds…so simple and they look awesome in my vintage vase!

3. Brown Butter Espresso Chip Muffins…what more do I need to say?

4. Harvard is doing a series on famous chefs and the science behind food. I bring this up because they post videos online for you to watch the lectures! How cool is that?

5. A great tutorial on how to properly frost a scallop cake!

6. I am a total photoshop nut and love using actions as shortcuts. Have you seen the 70s action that pioneer woman has up for free download? LOVE LOVE LOVE.

7. Been doing research on vegan cooking shows lately and came across this adorable show called Save the Kales! Highly recommend

Well, hope everyone enjoys their weekend and is whipping up some delicious fresh tomato dishes before the season is over!

Searchable Saturdays

September 8, 2012


Picture of Tuko from our hiking adventure on Tuesday.


And…. here are a few favorite things that I stumbled upon this week:

1. Don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to shop as Target as I am for the new Curiosity Shoppe line coming to stores August 9th.

2. Cat sweaters. Need I say more?

3. I made this Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella from Smitten Kitchen on Thursday. It may have been one of the best summer recipes to date. So delicious.

4. New knitting project that I should start on now so I can rock this scarf come December!

5. It’s 90 degrees here today but all this talk about Fall has got me itching for fall fashion!

6. MMMMMMMM! Cannot wait to try making this Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Hummus!

7. New Sweet Paul Fall edition is out! So inspiring!

8. DIY polaroid coasters? I’m in!


Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! I’m off to spend the day hiking!