three chocolate protein shake recipes

ith the heat these days I've been trying to eat as many cold things as possible without resorting to popsicles and ice cream all the time.  Finding something that fills me up but also cools me down has been a challenge, so I started making some protein shakes to both help with the midday heat and hunger.

I like to keep some frozen fruit in the freezer to have on hand for smoothies and such.  If you're freezing fresh fruit, instead of buying bags of pre-frozen fruit, spread it out on a cookie sheet and pop it in the freezer.  This will make sure your berries freeze individually instead of clumped together and they'll freeze faster spread out on a cookie sheet than thrown together in a ziplock.  After they're frozen you can toss them in a ziplock to store.

Chocolate Strawberry Banana is probably my favorite version of these three.  It's just fruity enough, and reminds me a little bit of a banana split.  Yum!

1.5 bananas frozen
2-3 strawberries frozen
1 c milk
1 scoop (~1/4 - 1/3 c) chocolate protein powder
1 tsp chocolate powder (optional)


Keep some cold brew on hand or chill your leftover morning drip coffee in the fridge to make this smoothie!  Not only will it cool you off, but it'll give you a little kick of caffeine too!

1/2 c cold brew coffee
1/2 c milk
1 scoop (~1/4 - 1/3 c) chocolate protein powder
10 ice cubes


Truth be told, I'm not a big peanut butter fan, but I know tons of people out there are, including Dan!  I used to work at a smoothie shop in a gym a long time ago and this smoothie was their most popular smoothie, so I know I'm probably in the minority with my PB aversion.  Reese's Pieces has proven that chocolate and PB is a tried and true combo and this smoothie is awesome for those of you out there who love peanut butter and chocolate!

1.5 bananas, frozen
1 spoonful peanut butter
1 c milk
1 scoop (~1/4 - 1/3 c) chocolate protein powder
1 tsp chocolate powder (optional)

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diy rolling island

he kitchen is probably my favorite room in the house.  No matter how nice the living room is, it always seems like people congregate in the kitchen. Compared to our last house we’ve got a palatial kitchen, but we still find that we’d like a bit more counter space for cooking and entertaining. I figured a rolling island would be the perfect solution and decided that instead of going out and buying one, I’d like to make one myself!  I had made our living-room coffee table using pipe and wood, so I wanted to match that aesthetic, plus I was familiar with the process of building that way. I absolutely love the way it turned out, and it’s the perfect space for storing our coffee and tea accoutrements.  Whenever we need to use it for extra counter space, we just roll it to where we’re working and it’s ready to go. I got caster wheels with locks so we can keep the island from rolling away when we’re chopping veggies and doing other work.

All of our coffee-making things — grinder, French press, pour over and filters — are included on the first shelf to keep the top shelf from getting too cluttered. There aren’t enough of us in my household to justify a drip coffee maker, but there’s plenty of room to store a coffee maker as well. We’ve also started getting into drinking tea, so I made a basket of our tea bags, loose leaf and tea pots as well.

This DIY came to around $350, but I was on a time crunch and Ikea was all sold out of their butcher block so I had to spend about $100 more on the butcher block top by buying it elsewhere, but Ikea's Numerar Beech countertop is much cheaper.  I ended up getting the countertop I wanted for this DIY later on when I was redoing the Winne's kitchen and Ikea is definitely one of the most inexpensive places to get a butcher block countertop.  They're about $130, and I like it because it's wood and therefore really easy to cut to size, depending on your size needs.  I was also thinking of getting the Ikea Sanfrid stainless steel table top and using that as the top, and it's even cheaper, at $99.  It also has an industrial look, so it'd go well with this DIY too.

What you’ll need:

8 12-inch-long, ½-inch diameter black pipe nipples
8 1/2 inch floor flanges
4 1/2 inch Ts
32 1 1/4 inch #12 flathead screws
16 2 inch #10 roundhead screws
16 #10 flat washers
4 caster wheels (if you want to keep your cart from rolling, get ones with wheel locks)
4 2×4 blocks (4 inches long)
1 73-inch x 18 inch pine board (cut in half to create two 36-inch long pieces)
1 36-inch x 19 inch butcher block (mine is 1 1/2 inches thick; you can
find inexpensive butcher block countertop IKEA)

1. First put the caster wheels on the bottom of the bottom shelf. Pre-drill holes in the 4 inch 2×4 blocks. Make sure the holes for the screws are 1 1/4 inches from the edges of the pine board, so place the blocks on your bottom shelf to measure from the edges. The screws will be long enough to attach the 2x4s to the bottom shelf. Once all your holes are drilled, position the 2×4 blocks on the pine board bottom shelf and place the caster wheels lined up with your pre-drilled holes. Put the #10 washers on and screw the wheels on using the #10 roundhead screws.

2. Now, flip the bottom shelf so the wheels are facing down. Place your four floor flanges on the bottom shelf directly over the 2×4 blocks and rotate the flange so its 4 holes aren’t directly over the screws you just put in for the wheels. Mark where the holes are with a pencil and drill holes for the screws. These screws will also go through the board and into the 2×4 to further secure the 2×4. Screw the flanges on with the #12 flathead screws.

3. Take your first four 12 inch nipples and screw them into the floor flanges. Screw the Ts on to the top of the nipples and then put the last four 12-inch nipples on top of the Ts.

4. Grab the second pine board shelf and place it on top the 12-inch nipples. Position it so it’s directly over the bottom shelf (if you want to measure where the center of the pipe hits on the bottom shelf to get the top shelf exactly matched, you can do that, or you can eyeball it). Draw a circle around the edge of the pipe on the bottom of the board, so you know where to drill the hole so it can slide down to rest on the T. Once you have your circles drawn, take a 7/8ths spade drill bit and drill the holes you just drew. Now you can slide the second shelf onto the 12-inch nipples and they’ll slide down to rest on the Ts.

5. Put the last four floor flanges onto the top of the nipples; make sure they’re tight. Put your butcher block on top of them, and again you can measure everything to make sure it’s centered, or you can eyeball it. Mark with a pencil where the floor flange holes are, pre-drill holes and then screw the top on with the #12 flat head screws. You’re done!

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geometry lesson

oly cow, July has been packed.  I feel like I've been sprinting for the whole month and August is (hopefully) my finish line.  Of course, more things will be coming up and I'm sure August will be full too, but I'm hoping things will be a bit less crazytown.  I need to actively not over-schedule myself because I have the bad habit of saying "yes" to too many things and ending up a pile of human stress laying the floor rolling around moaning, "whyyyy."  Okay, that was an exaggeration.  Life is such an ebb and flow of busyness and relaxation, I'm not sure I believe that this elusive "balance" actually exists, just a healthy understanding that sometimes I'm in the ebb of relaxing periods of time and other times I'm in the rush of busy times and that each one of those times doesn't last forever.  There's a light at the end of those busy tunnels where I'll be able to crash and binge on Netflix TV, even if it feels like I'll never be able to get everything done.  
In some ways I feel like trying to find balance is unhealthy.  Trying to constantly remain balanced on some mythical peak of neither under nor overwhelmed, while not falling towards boredom or stress sounds stressful in and of itself.  It seems more like life is just learning to sail calm seas along with stormy seas and learning to find your sea-legs and go with the flow.  Obviously it makes sense not to over schedule yourself and purposely sail into dangerously stormy seas, and similarly to not remain anchored in the shallows.  But I'd rather be sailing somewhere, following the map of my dreams and goals, and encounter the seas I'm given along the way, than stay stuck in the harbor. 


dress(worn as skirt) + top/courtesy of modcloth :: shoes/courtesy of loly in the sky
bag/courtesy of rouge + whimsy :: scarf/thrifted :: shades/courtesy of lulu's

Last week I went into my commenting system and noticed my super old email was still connected to it so I updated my email and somehow I'm now unable to log in or retrieve my account, which means I can't approve comments.  If you've commented in the past week, they are going through, I just can't approve them so they show up for the time being.  I've emailed support three times so far and haven't gotten a response, which is a bit obnoxious, but hopefully the issue will be resolved soon.  So don't worry if your comments aren't showing up, they're going through, I just can't approve them yet!

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fancy savory popcorn 3 ways

've never been a big popcorn person, but I remember when I was in like 4th or 5th grade and I was over at my best friend's house and she sprinkled parmesan cheese over popcorn and it kind of changed my life.  So awesome.  Granted, most things are improved with the addition of parmesan cheese, but I had just never thought of popcorn being anything more than the bag you toss in the microwave that has weird butter flavor, or the popcorn from the movies that comes in size tiny and size costco-pallet. 

Over the years I forgot about popcorn, mostly because the last time I had a microwave was when I watched it fly off the top of my refrigerator in the rearview mirror in my Winnebago as I attempted to drive up a horrifyingly steep, potholed, one-way Seattle street because a friend gave me the wrong directions to his house.  When I finally did get to his house, my microwave was a mangled mess on the floor and I tossed in in the nearest dumpster and haven't had one since.  I'm sure deep down I knew that popcorn could be made other ways than just the microwave bag stuff, but I had never seen it done and never thought about it.

So, before we get to the fancy part, here's how to pop popcorn if you don't have a microwave, or just want to pop it the old fashioned way!

3 tbsp butter (or peanut, grape seed, canola oil)
1/3 cup popcorn kernels

1. Heat the butter in a large 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat.

2. Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the butter and cover the pan.

3 When those kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover the pot and remove from heat for 30 seconds.

4. Return the pan to the heat and the popcorn should begin popping.  Once the popping is consistent, gently shake the pan, moving it back and forth over the burner.  Keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release, which will make your popcorn drier and crisper. Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat and dump the popcorn immediately into a large bowl or paper bag.
Makes ~ 2 quarts of popcorn.

Now for the fancy stuff!  Here are three different savory popcorn toppings that will take your popcorn to the next level!  Fancy popcorn makes for an awesome appetizer, and it's quick and super easy to whip up.


2 quarts of popped popcorn
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 small jalapeno, seeds removed, minced
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 c Cotija cheese, crumbled

In a medium bowl whisk together the butter, lime juice and zest. Add the minced jalapeno. In a small bowl combine the black pepper, salt, red pepper, and cumin.  If you want less spiciness you can omit the jalapeno and red pepper flakes, or just reduce the amount you use.

Drizzle half of the butter/lime/jalapeno mixture over the popcorn, and mix until the popcorn is coated and moist. Taste. Add more of the butter mixture to taste, and mix it up again.  Take the small bowl of your seasonings and sprinkle most of the mixture over the popcorn, shake and mix to coat the popcorn. Taste, and if you'd like more flavor add the rest of it.  Sprinkle the crumbled Cotija over the popcorn.


2 quarts of popped popcorn
4 slices bacon
4 tbsp butter
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
smoked salt

Cook bacon until crispy.  Place bacon on a paper towel lined plate to drain, then crumble or slice into small pieces and add to popcorn.

Melt the butter and pour over popcorn, then sprinkle with smoked salt to taste. Mix to combine. Then add parmesan cheese and toss to coat. 


2 quarts of popped popcorn
4 tbsp butter
4 to 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 c finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
smoked salt

In a sauce pan, melt the butter then add the minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves.

Drizzle the garlic and thyme butter over all of the popcorn and mix well.  Next, add the parmesan cheese and mix again.  Add salt to taste and then sprinkle the remaining thyme leaves over the popcorn.

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salmon with peach salsa

was walking around the grocery store the other day and had picked up some peaches because I was going to try grilling them, but then I walked by the fish section and I decided that salmon with peach salsa was a better idea (and probably more filling as a meal).  It's been a while since I sat down and actually made a meal, life has been shifting a bit these days and Dan and I are still finding our groove with our new schedules, so food has been a smash-and-grab free for all most of the time.

Salmon is one of the few things I feel really natural cooking.  You know, like the thing you feel comfortable just whipping up without a recipe, on the fly.  Sort of Emeril-"BAM!" style.  I've cooked it enough that it's one of my solid, go-to meals.  This past Christmas we had Dan's parents over for Christmas dinner and I made salmon instead of a roast or turkey, simply because I knew it would be great, whereas I'm definitely not as practiced at those more traditional holiday meals.  In my family, though, salmon was a more traditional holiday meal.  Sure, we had the thanksgiving turkey and sometimes a Christmas ham, but at least one of our holiday meals was either king crab or sockeye salmon.  When you're an Alaskan, celebrating with the bounty of the earth means lots of seafood.  


Ingredients for Peach Salsa
1 med tomato, diced
1 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
1 1/2 lbs peaches, diced
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper or to taste

Ingredients for Salmon
1-2 tbsp butter, in thin slices
1-2 tbsp brown sugar
1 large or 2 small salmon fillet(s)
1 tbsp lime juice
a few slice red onion rings

Preheat the oven to 325ºF for a small fillet or up to 375º for a larger fillet.

Combine the peach salsa ingredients and set aside in the fridge.

Line a cookie sheet with tin foil.  Set the salmon fillet on the foil and put the thin slices of butter on the filet.  Sprinkle the brown sugar and squeeze the lime juice on the fillet.  Place onion slices on the fillet and pop it in the oven.  For a smaller fillet 20-30 minutes will do, but for a larger filet do 40+ minutes.  If you aren't sure if it's done, use a fork to flake apart the fillet at the thickest part to see if it's cooked through.

Once your salmon is done, plate it and pour on some salsa!  Dan loved the salsa so much I think his plate was 50% salmon, 50% salsa.  We didn't have chips on hand to eat with the leftover salsa, but I'm going to the store to get some because it's too delicious to go to waste!

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