Rhubarb Lime Salsa with Bitters

Check out my latest recipe creation over at the Sunflower Natural Foods blog!

Salsa

xo

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DIY House Project Ideas

Life is busy as ever over here, but I do have some exciting news – we bought a house! We started looking a few months ago and happened upon one last month that is perfect for us. It’ s in Portland, close to downtown, on a bus line and is an older home that has recently been updated, so it still has its 1920s charm. We don’t move in until the end of June, so it leaves us plenty of time to plan, pack and daydream about fun projects. Here is some inspiration I’ve come across recently that I want to try out in the new house:

CD case turned into bathroom shelving:

CD Shelf for Bathroom

courtesy of Repurposed, Recycled, Reused, Reused, Reclaimed, Restored

I’m kicking myself for not keeping my old CD shelves, but I bet these pop up at thrift stores all the time. My only concern would be water collecting at the bottom of the holders, and hence mold, but my husband suggested drilling some holes in the bottom of each shelf to allow air to circulate – problem solved!

Old bed frame turned into garden fencing

Bed frame in garden

Courtesy of Unconsumption

I don’t know how much time I will have to start a garden this year, but I love the look of this old headboard in the garden bed. I think I will wait and see what the current occupants planted in the garden in the back. There is a big raised garden bed right behind the deck and a pretty expansive yard behind that, so there will be lots of room for experimenting with flowers, vegetables and fruit bushes.

Framed postcards

frames 1

courtesy of third story(ies)

frames500-3

courtesy of the style files

This is a project I’ve had on the back burner since our wedding. Instead of a guest book, we had people write messages on vintage Maine postcards. We have some great messages and  images, so I’ve been wanting to put them in glass clip frames and display on a wall – now we will have room to do this! The postcards are 3×5, however, and I can’t find clear glass frames that size – 4×6 is the smallest I can find online – any suggestions on how else I could display them?

What house projects have you taken on this spring?

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Sunflower Natural Foods

Sunflower_Natural_Foods

I’ve started blogging for Sunflower Natural Foods, a natural foods store based in Laconia, New Hampshire. They have a great bunch of bloggers sharing recipes, DIY health and beauty tips and natural remedies. If you are looking for a new salad idea, check out my latest post.

Kale

I will be blogging for them each month, so be sure to check it out, as well as the other great posts – one of my favorite posts is a DIY recipe for dry shampoo – I’m going to try it out this weekend!

xo

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Nursery Inspiration: Kate Quinn Organics

Greetings! I figured it was time to dust off the blog and get back into the swing of things. It has been a busy time over here, but I am loving every minute. Willa Hayes was born December 26 and we have been having a blast. How could you not?

W

Since Willa was born, I have become more interested in baby clothes and I have become obsessed with kate quinn organics. Though they are on the pricey side, they often have $10 flash sales and other discounts, so you can swoop in now and then and pick up some good deals. I love their aesthetic – cool earth tones, simple, elegant design. Here are some favorites:

Green Birds Orange Airplanes Blue Pants

They recently had a Pinterest contest, asking their fans to share images that inspire – the person with the winning board will have a nursery designed for him/her! Here are few of my images below.

Czech Animals

Plates

Adonis Microcarpa

You can see the whole board on Pinterest. They announce a winner on April 15 – wish me luck!

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Exclusive! 20% off at Turtle Love Company

I’m in the final stages of my pregnancy (39 weeks!) and my poor blog here has been woefully neglected the past several months. I have lots of ideas for future recipes and content, though, so look for a comeback soon!

frontlogo1In the mean time, I wanted to share a special holiday deal with you. As part of the Vintage Style Council with Turtle Love Company, I have had the pleasure of promoting some of their gorgeous jewelry. In exchange, they have extended a special offer to readers of mainebelle. From now through Monday, December 10, receive 20% off one of Turtle Love Company’s exclusive necklaces – just enter the code mainebelle at check out! This includes any of the mother and baby animal necklaces, state necklaces and initial necklaces. I’m wearing the State of Maine necklace today and it is stunning!

maine

Here are a few other necklaces that are eligible for the discount – they make for great holiday gifts!

TLC-ELEPH1-SV-N-2TMother and baby elephant necklace ($68 with discount)

TLC-LETTER-SV-N-2TInitial necklaces ($48 with discount)

I hope you have a great holiday season – more updates soon!

xo Michelle

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Sneak Peek: Turtle Love Co. Style Board

This past summer, I was lucky enough to be asked to join the Turtle Love Co. Vintage Style Council. Turtle Love is an online jewelry company based in Portland, Maine. They sell ecologically responsible and vintage jewelry, specializing in engagement and wedding rings. My own engagement ring came from Turtle Love, so they have a special place in my heart.

They recently named one of their vintage diamond engagement rings Michelle, so I prepared a Pinterest board of photos that the ring inspired. Turtle Love will debut the board on their blog this coming Monday, but I wanted to share some photos ahead of time.

First, the ring! (it’s absolutely gorgeous)

1950s wedding dress with tulle and full skirt – my ideal!

Here is my wedding dress – inspired by Audrey Hepburn.

Assortment of vintage plates for a wedding dinner:

My dream wedding shoes – wish I had these at my wedding!

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End of Summer Treats: Nectarine Scones

Nectarines and peaches are my favorite fruits and they are only in season in Maine for a very short window. Though I made these about a month ago, you may still be able to find some last waning local nectarines and peaches. I’m eager to try this recipe with many of the apples we have coming our way through the Out on Limb CSA we recently joined. This is by far my favorite recipe of the summer!

I adapted the recipe from Indigo Scones and found I could squeeze in five nectarines, instead of the 1-2 they suggested. The scones are amazing right out of the oven and they also lasted a full week for us in the refrigerator. Just toast them up, add a pat of butte, pair with a fried egg and you have breakfast perfection. The nectarines are sweet and tangy and the dough is soft and full of cinnamon.

Nectarine Scones

Ingredients for dough:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter (cubed )
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing (there’s no need to buy a whole thing of buttermilk – simply mix one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar with about a cup of milk and let sit for five minutes. This way you only use what you need and don’t waste money a whole carton of buttermilk).
  • 3-5 ripe nectarines, sliced thin

Cinnamon-sugar topping:

  • I used about 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon mixed together.

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix. Add the cold, unsalted butter (make sure it is cubed) and mix with your fingers or a pastry blender. I started with a pastry blender and ended up using my fingers to combine the butter with the flour mixture. Mix until you have a crumbly mixture and then add the egg, vanilla and buttermilk.

Put some flour down on your counter or a cutting board and knead the dough until you have nice firm dough. Flatten it out with your hands and then a rolling pin into a rectangle shape that is about 12″ x 10.” The dough will be thick. Brush buttermilk on half the dough and lay out the nectarines – the more you put on, the better, in my opinion! Sprinkle some of the cinnamon-sugar mixture on the nectarines and then gently fold the other half of the dough on to the nectarines.

From here, cut the dough into the size of scones you want and brush with buttermilk and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture on top. Pop into the oven for about 20 minutes (check at 15 – you don’t want these to burn at all). Once the dough seems solid and is lightly browned, pull them from the oven and let cool. Enjoy!

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Summer Desserts

Summer highlights = the abundance of local, fresh fruit. Despite the heat, I’ve enjoyed spending time in my kitchen the last few weeks trying a few new recipes:

Peach Pie with Crème fraîche

Blueberry Crumble Bars

Buttery Blueberry Cake

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Nourishing Belly Balm

A few months ago I ordered what I thought was cocoa butter lotion through the Portland Food Co-op. What I actually ordered, however, was solid cocoa butter. Smells delicous and nourishing for your skin, but the only way you can use it if you heat it up so it melts a bit.

Since I don’t have a microwave and didn’t want to make a hot water bath for cocoa butter every day, I decided to combine the butter with a few other ingredients to make a convenient, nourishing balm for my growing belly (so I guess this is my annoucement – I’m pregnant!).

My go-to book for making all types of lotions, creams, salves and other body care products is Earthly Bodies, Heavenly Hair by Dina Falconi. It has hundreds of recipes for men, women and children and they are all easy to understand. One of my favorites from this book is the blue chamomile face cream – I stand by this cream as the best face moisturizer I have ever used.

So I flipped through and found a recipe for belly balm. I simply swapped in the cocoa butter for the shea butter the recipe called for and ended up with 8 oz of a soft balm that is easy to apply, smells delicous and is nourishing for my skin.

Supplies:

  • 2 oz jojoba oil (you could also try swee almond or grapeseed oil)
  • 2 oz coconut oil
  • 2 oz cocoa butter
  • 1.5 -2 oz olive oil
  • 1 oz beeswax

Directions:

Pour the liquid oils into a heat-proof Pyrex cup, using the oz measurements to guide you. Add the cocoa butter and coconut oil. Grate the beeswax in until the liquid rises 1 oz. When you are done, your combination of oils and solids should be at the 9 oz mark on the Pyrex (I ended up being a little closer to 10 oz, but the recipe turned out fine).

Place the Pyrex in a hot water bath and stir the mixture with a wooden chop stick (no metal) until the solids have completely melted.

Pour the hot liquid into clean, glass jars (make sure they are wide mouth so you will be able to easily scoop out the balm once it hardens a bit). Once the liquid is cooled, you can put the caps on the jars.

This batch should last me for several months. This is a great nourishing balm for all skin types and it feels GREAT on your skin! It’s not greasy and your skin absorbs it right away.

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Easy Kale Chips

It has been an embarrassingly long time since I have posted. There’s been lots of exciting changes and events happening over at mainebelle, and I’ve been busy with work, projects and other adventures. I’ve missed writing here, though, so I plan to be posting with more frequency – thanks for your continued support!

Lately I’ve been trying to experiment with greens – when I eat kale, swiss chard or collards, I usually just steam them, add a dash of salt and pepper and eat them as a side dish. While this is great, it also tends to get a little boring. I had always wanted to try kale chips, so at the recommendation of Isabel over at Women’s Wellness in Portland, I decided to give it a go.

Kale chips are surprisingly easy to make and are delicious – they melt right in your mouth and it suddenly becomes very easy to easy to eat en entire bunch of kale in one sitting. One item to note – after you take these out of the oven, make sure they are completely dry and crispy. I put the top on the tupperware while they were still warm, which ended up making them soggy (still edible, but missing the crisp). Have you tried making chips with other vegetables?

Easy Kale Chips

  • 1 bunch of organic kale (I used curly kale)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic granules
  • Brewer’s yeast

Pre-heat your oven to 275 F. Thoroughly wash the kale and cut into small, bite size pieces. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic granules and brewer’s yeast. I experimented with this combination and really like the flavor – the chips would also be great with just a bit of salt.

Spread the kale on a baking dish in a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes (turn over the kale after about 10 minutes). Make sure to keep them in until they are crispy and slightly browned, but make sure not to burn them.

Let cool and enjoy a delicious snack!

Spread the kale in a single layer on a baking pan

Just out of the oven

Bowl of crispy kale chips

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