Find / Food & Drink

How to Make French Press Coffee

May 17, 2017

There is a lot of debate on how the perfect cup of coffee is made. But, in my opinion french press might be the most accessible “good” cup of coffee out there. A french press is one of the least expensive coffee makers out there and I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a bad cup of coffee poured from one. So, here’s my “how to make french press coffee” guide.

There are a lot of instructions out there of how to use a french press properly. A lot of those guides require a timer and a scale. My process is a lot less technical and and a little more approachable. Like with any cooking or baking I do, a little experimenting is always apart of the process.

I’ve put together a little guide of all the things that you might need to make a great cup of coffee with a french press. Now, you definitely don’t NEED all of these items, but a lot of them are very helpful. The only item on guide that you have to, have to have is a french press. We can find substitutes for al the other items.

  1. Start by grinding your coffee. I always start with whole beans. I feel like the flavor of coffee immediately starts to change once the beans are ground. You coffee will taste so much better if you grind your beans right before you brew them. A coffee grinder is one of the first appliances I bought. I think I was in college and they usually cost around or less then $20 for a great basic grinder.
  2. Measure your coffee. This really comes down to personal preference. But, 1 tbsp. of fresh ground coffee to each cup of water is a good starting place. I LOVE strong coffee so I tend to add a couple more tablespoons of coffee to my french press.
  3. Put water on to boil. You definitely don’t need a fancy electric kettle, but they do make the job a little more hands off. Water can be boiled in a simple pot. Experts say that the water should be a very specific temperature for brewing coffee. My simple trick to knowing when the water is ready is to watch the water and just before it hits a rolling boil, that’s when you use the water. If it does hit a rolling boil, just let it sit a few minutes before adding it to the coffee.
  4. Add the water. Pour about 1 cup of water over the ground coffee. Allow it to sit for about 30 seconds and then stir it. Then add the remaining water. The brew time can vary. But 4 mins. is perfect brewing time as far as I’m concerned. Then press the plunger down.
  5. Serve the coffee immediately. If you leave it in the french press, the coffee will continue to brew. So either pour it in cups right away or store it in an insulated thermos till you are ready for a second cup.
  6. And if you want to take it to the next level. Sweeten your cup with a little simple syrup and top with warm frothed milk.

  1. Coffee Grinder – Once you have a french press, a coffee grinder should be next on your list. You’ll never want to buy ground coffee again.
  2. Whole Coffee Beans – Counter Culture is one of my favorite roasters. They source beans from small scale farms around the world.
  3. Simple Syrup Bottle – I make all my own syrups and don’t worry and simple syrup 101 is coming soon as well.
  4. Bodum French Press – this is the best of the best. I still use a Bodum that was my mom’s and she used it back in the 80’s. The best part of Bodum is that all the pars are replaceable, even the glass.
  5. Coffee Scoop + Bag Clip – these are so handy for both keeping your beans fresh in their bag and also for measuring out the coffee.
  6. Electric Kettle – I actually haven’t owned an electric kettle in years. But, they really are so handy. Maybe I’ll add this cute mint one to my Christmas list.
  7. Insulated Coffee Mugs – if your cup of joe isn’t piping hot, what’s the point? I also love that you can see your coffee through this mug. So much of drinking coffee is a ritual and experience, the right mug can make all the difference.
  8. Milk Frother – this is for taking your coffee enjoyment to the next level. When we lived in both Papua New Guinea and Yemen, I had one of these hand frothers and it worked so well.

 

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Mother’s Day Flower Giveaway

May 10, 2017

Today’s post is just a friendly reminder that Mother’s Day is just around the corner and maybe I can help you with a really pretty last minute gift idea. But first, head over to instagram and enter to win a really pretty bouquet of flowers to send to a special mom in your life. Over Easter break, while we in Northern California at my parent’s place, we got to visit and tour Stargazer Barn.  It was a super rainy, cold day, but we stayed dry walking through their huge green houses filled with tulips and lilies. These are American Grown flowers. Did you know that a lot of the flowers you buy at your local supermarket are shipped in from all over the world. Not only do they ship fresh flowers all over the country, but Stargazer Barn also delivers unique gifts paired with these gorgeous fresh flowers. They pair local artisan products with their lovely blooms for an perfect gift for someone you love. Wine, chocolate, coffee and even jewelry with fresh flowers – a match made in heaven. This gift set of tulips, chocolate and coffee is my favorite. Oh and these Queensland Tulips are AMAZING!Stargazer Barn has a special discount for Oleander + Palm readers. You can get 20% your total purchase from now till Mother’s Day with this code: FLWRS4MOM20. And be sure to head over to instagram and enter the GIVEAWAY! 

etc. / Food & Drink

Rosemary Shortbread with Strawberries, Ice Cream and a Balsamic Reduction

May 9, 2017

Rosemary Shortbread

Shortbread cookies have always had my heart. I love these little buttery treats so much. I also love to play with interesting flavor combinations. These herby cookies hit all the right notes for me. Earthy rosemary, paired with sweet strawberries and tangy balsamic reduction make for an unforgettable sundae.

Rosemary Shortbread

Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • a pinch of salt

With an electric mixer, beat the butter on high for a minute. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add the flour and salt and beat again until smooth. Add the rosemary a mix until it is incorporated evenly.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thickness on a well floured surface. Cut out 1 inch by 3 inch rectangles. Prick the tops of the cookies with a fork. Place the cookies on parchment lined baking sheet. Place the cookies in the freezer for at least 30 mins. Preheat the oven to 350 F, bake the cookies until just golden brown on the edges, about 12 mins.

Rosemary Shortbread

Serve with vanilla bean ice cream, fresh strawberries and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Balsamic reduction sounds super fancy, but it’s one of the easiest things to make. Simply bring 1/2 cup of good balsamic vinegar to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the vinegar reduces to 1/4 cup of liquid. Allow to cool completely and you have a rich, think sauce to serve with meat, veggies or in this case – ICE CREAM!

Rosemary Shortbread

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The Week’s End

May 5, 2017

These are just a couple pictures from my camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park last week. The Cholla Garden was still blooming. It’s are really cool place to visit and feels a little like you are on another planet. If you’ve never visited Joshua Tree, you are missing out. It’s my favorite National Park. And I didn’t even know I was a desert girl.

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Well that was a week. This is a fast, super productive week. This weekend we are hosting a church potluck, so of course I have a bunch of things I want to finally finish around the house. Probably only about a 1/3 of the list will get accomplished, but that’s ok. I stripped some wallpaper up stairs this week. I patched the wall already, so before today is over, I really wall to sand the wall and get it painted. I have this huge round mirror that I bought before we moved into the house and it still hasn’t been hung up yet. So, that is priority # 1!

And now, here’s my recommendations for blog reading this weekend. You guys, there’s some good stuff out there:

Happy Weekend Friends!

Find

Summer Swim + Sun Skin Savers

May 3, 2017

Summer Swim + Sun Skin SaversCactus Pool Float

Well, Summer is here in California. Yesterday we hit 95 F and today is supposed to be triple digits. So, shorts and sandals are definitely out and the thought of putting on a swim suit in public has been giving me hives. I was I’ve kind of been in an exercise rut. To change things up a bit, I’ve been swimming laps at our local community pool. The gym definitely wasn’t fun and running was really bothering my joints. I love swimming and kind of forgot that I did. Now, I look forward to my workouts. Imagine that!  Lonnie has even been getting up with me a few mornings a week and we’ve been swimming at 5:30 am together. I’m about 3 weeks in and I feel like I’m getting a great workout and my joints aren’t complaining at all.

The only downside is the sun and water draining all the moisture out of my hair and skin. So, I’ve had to up my skin and hair routine. I’ve found a few things that are really helping, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites for Summer Swim + Sun Skin Savers.  I’m definitely not a beauty blogger, just a real person with fair, sensitive, and kind of old-ladyish skin. And in true O+P style, these products are all very easy on the budget and almost all of them can be found at Target (because you know that’s the only place I go).

Summer Swim and Sun Skin Savers

  1. Conditioning Hair Mask – Not only is the packaging pretty, this hair mask smells so good. I use it at least once a week to help with the pool hair situation.
  2. Body Scrub – If you want to feel as soft as a baby’s bottom, definitely use this all over your body.
  3. Facial Oil – Summer of the Girls with Glasses introduced me to this. I don’t ever use lotion now. I LOVE this oil so much.
  4. Foot Mask – My sister in law gave me one of these for Christmas and oh my do they work well. I live in my Birkenstocks and flip-flops – so dry heals happen. You won’t believe how great your feet look and feel after using this mask.
  5. SPF Lip Balm – Definitely a winner and so many great flavors.
  6. Body Brush – Exfoliate exfoliate exfoliate!!!! It’s the name of the game when you are dealing with dry skin. I use a soft brush like this in the shower almost daily to help get rid of dead skin.
  7. Body Oil – I just started using this last week and I love it! I have very dry skin and I spray this all over my body when I get out of the shower. It smells sweet and soft and doesn’t compete with my perfume. And it moisturizes so much better then just lotion.
  8. Oil Free Sunscreen – This is my go-to! As a redhead, I’ve tried all the suncreens, believe me. Hawaiian Tropics is oil free and doesn’t feel plastered on and sticky. I even wear this on my face and my very sensitive skin loves it. It also smells the way Summer should smell – a hint of coconut.

Do you have any go-to skin and hair products that I should be trying? I love a good “real person” recommendation.

This post contains affiliate links, but these really are all great products that I 100% use and recommend. 

 

Design

Sage Green Walls

May 2, 2017

After visiting Sweden last month, I’m definitely convinced that it is ok to bring back sage green. I saw this calm, cool, soft tone in a lot of homes and restaurants. It’s definitely a throw-back color for me and I’m sure many of you. My brides maid’s dresses were sage green in 1998 and our first house had lots of sage green walls.

It’s really such a great color. I consider it almost a neutral. It’s subtle and not overpowering at all. And it looks great with so many other colors. I recently painted a half wall in my studio, and I really love how it came out. I’m trying to decide which room in our house would look good with sage green walls. Maybe the powder room is a good place to start.

I did a little pinterest search and found some really great rooms that use sage green in a fun modern way and don’t feel too 1998. No surprise at all, a lot of these rooms are from Scandinavian homes.

Sage Green Paint

I did a little sage green research for you. This is totally not an ad or even a sponsored post, I just love Sherwin-Williams paints, and it’s the paint store I shop at.  Here’s a few sage green paint colors to consider. The color I used in my studio is the very first one Clary Sage. My studio is very bright, so the color seems lighter once it’s on the wall. But, with any color, you have to try it in the space first. These are just 6 sold sage greens that I was drawn to. Copen Blue feels quite modern and very similar to a lot of the sage tones I saw in Sweden. Maybe this is the color I’ll try in our powder room. And while Artichoke is the darkest in this group, I think it’s my favorite. It’s dark and grounded but still a soft, subtle green in a way. Sage is just that perfect earthy green. It kind of has that pretty pastel feel, but with a little more sophistication.

Sage Green Paint ColorsSage Green PaintSage Green PaintSage Green PaintSage Green Paint Sage Green Paint Sage Green PaintSage Green Half Painted Wall

 

image sources: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10

So what do you think? Are you ready to throw back? I’m definitely still in love with my white walls, but I think a little sage green could be fun to play with.

DIY

DIY Living Wall with Moveable Planters

May 1, 2017

Sometimes you just need a little privacy in your outdoor areas. As you know we recently converted a small unit attached to our garage into a guesthouse that we are using as an Airbnb.  We wanted to create a little outdoor seating area for guests that was a little more private and secluded. So, a DIY Living Wall with Moveable Planters seemed like that best idea. It’s a great way to add even more green to a space. And in a tight space, going vertical is the perfect solution.

Vertical Living Wall with Moveable PlantersVertical Living Wall with Moveable Planters Vertical Living Wall with Moveable Planters

I teamed up with my brother Joash (aka super handy, carpenter guy) and Fiskars (because they are the garden tool experts) to dream up an easy-to-build, yet totally stylish modern living wall. We designed it with simple, inexpensive materials, and simple cuts and assembly. No fancy hooks or hardware is needed. Using a simple cleat system, the planters can easily be moved around, repositioned and hung of either side of the wall.

Vertical Living Wall with Moveable PlantersVertical Living Wall with Moveable Planters

I am including a pattern with all the dimensions to help you visualize all the cuts and pieces for this project. We used inexpensive pine and just sealed it with an outdoor sealer to protect it from the elements. But this could be painted or stained, we just loved to Scandinavian feel of light wood. Bold black planters paired with the light wood created a nice contrast.

Start by glueing and screwing the frame of the wall together first. Pre-drill and attach ‘B’ to ‘A’ and then screw both pieces of ‘a’ to the top and bottom. Use the 2″ screws for assembling the frame.

Next attach ‘C’ in the center of both sides. Use the 1-1/4″ screws to attach these supports.

For the horizontal slats, you will need to cut the 1×4″ pieces cut down the center at a 45 degree angle using a table saw. You will need 22 total, each 5 ft. long. Space these slats 6 inches apart from each other. Pre-drill with a counter sink bit, and attach them to the frame with 1-1/4″ screws, 6 screws for each slat. Screw two in the center and two on each end of the slat.

Vertical Living Wall with Moveable PlantersVertical Living Wall with Moveable Planters

Now you will attach cleats to plastic planters. I chose to use inexpensive black plastic window box lines because I loved their simplicity and clean lines.

Cut extra lengths of the 45 degree angle slats. These will be cut the lengths of the plants that attached to backs in the opposite direction.  Pre-drill the holes, starting 2 inches from the edge and spacing the screws no more then 6 inches apart.

Pre-drill holes in the plastic planters as well. Then using a 1-1/4″ screw and a washer, attach a cleat to the back of every planter.

The cleats fit seamlessly on the wall. The weight of the planter holds them in place and there is no worry of them slipping off.

And there is no clunky hardware or hooks, the planters even look great from the back.

Vertical Living Wall with Moveable Planters

The planters can easily be take down to water, plant, prune or weed.

Vertical Living Wall with Moveable Planters

I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with this living wall. I’m excited to play with more plants and figure out what will grow best in the vertical garden. It’s also has created a great little outdoor getaway spot for my guests.

Vertical Living Wall with Moveable Planters Vertical Living Wall with Moveable PlantersVertical Living Wall with Moveable Planters

I teamed up with Fiskars to create this fun project. Thank you for supporting the companies that help make this blog possible. 

DIY

California Wildflower Art for Mother’s Day

April 25, 2017

Mother’s day is just around the corner. And if I know moms, there are a couple of gifts that are always winners – flowers and pictures of their grandkids. This year I’m giving both. California is finally out of it’s long draught and we have the most amazing wildflowers this year. I don’t want these pretty images just living on my camera or laptop. I want to be able to enjoy these colorful hillsides all year round. So, I’m gifting some of the wildflower pictures I took a couple weeks ago to my mom and mother-in-law this year.

I’ve teamed up with Mixbook again to bring you another FREE Download and a really awesome discount for Oleander + Palm readers. You guys – keep reading because you all get 60% off coupon code!  Last month I tried out their sleek, modern Acrylic Prints. For Mother’s Day I felt like something a little more classic, like a Framed Canvas Print, would be better for moms. And these canvases are soooo pretty. I’m going to have a hard time giving them away.
I love modern framed canvas prints like these for styling and decorating a bookshelf. With their clean, straight-edged frames, they can easily sit on a shelf. Mixbook offers three frame options for their canvas prints – white, black and espresso. You can also order a canvas print without a frame, but I think the frame instantly elevates the look.
You can download this FREE California Wildflower image HERE! Feel free to print it on a canvas or upload one of your own awesome snaps. While we are here chatting about art on a bookshelf, I thought I’d share a few tips for styling a good looking #shelfie. I started with a very inexpensive, industrial/storage style shelf. And with the right items, place in the right stops, it looks nice enough for a living room.

1. Start with big and bulky items on the bottom of the shelf. If you are going to store items in baskets or bins, visually these items feel more balanced if they are placed on the bottom shelves. Also, you really don’t want to be lifting heavier items off and on a top shelf, I would just feel awkward. So, I started with a cute metal basket, filled with pillows and a throw for easy access.

2. Next, place art pieces on the shelves. I chose to place the field of flowers canvas on the highest shelf, it is definitely above my eye level, but this image is less of a detail shot and can be enjoyed from a distance. The cute picture of Olivia sitting in the flowers is one I want to see a little more up close, so I place it on the middle shelf. This shelf is closer to eye level. Art can be hung on the wall behind the shelf, leaned against the back, or sat upright like these cool framed canvases.

3. Think horizontal next. Obviously I don’t have a lot of books on this bookshelf, but they still are an important part of styling this shelf. Instead of placing books upright with their spines facing out. Try creating little stacks of books for horizontal interest. Think of these stacks as little risers for pretty objects.

4. Play with height and depth. On any self, you don’t want all the objects to be the same height. Place shorter objects on the stacks of books to give them a little lift. Try to place objects, that are on the same shelf, all at different heights. Also push taller, bulkier items further to the back of the shelf and layer in shorter, more petite items near the front. It’s ok to overlap items. You don’t want everything all lined up in a row.

5. Finally, add a little metallic. We’ve played with shapes and colors, now it’s time to think about texture. And a shiny metallic finish can really be the jewelry for a good looking shelfie. I chose to sprinkle in a few shiny brass pieces. I added a little metal calendar to the top shelf, a brass box to the middle, and a vintage candle holder near the bottom.And what’s a Mother’s Day gift without a thoughtful card (another thing moms are guaranteed to love)? Did you know that Mixbook also has an awesome selection of Mother’s Day Cards, cards for all occasions and even invitations? I made custom cards for the moms in my life with a few of the pretty wildflower images.You can even add custom text and pictures to the inside of the cards as well. I added one more shot of Olivia to the inside.Add don’t forget, Mixbook has an AMAZING discount for Oleander + Palm readers. You guys get 60% Canvas Prints!!!!!! Just enter the code OP60 (offer good until 5/10). But don’t just check out their gorgeous canvas prints, be sure to check out their calendars, photobooks, cards, prints in every size and shape, acrylic prints, metal prints and so much more.This post is sponsored by Mixbook. Thank you for supporting the companies that help make this blog possible.

Food & Drink

Kentucky Derby Party

April 19, 2017

Kentucky Derby PartyKentucky Derby PartyThrowing a party doesn’t have to be a tone of work or super stressful. I think if you have a great drink, a sweet and a savory snack and a fun take-away – everyone is guaranteed to have have a good time. If you want to appear a little more on the fancy side, may a suggest throwing a little Kentucky Derby Viewing Party. Really I love any excuse to host a get-together, but one with a little Southern charm feels classy.Kentucky Derby Party This year, Ghirardelli is an official sponsor of the Kentucky Derby and they have just come out with the NEW Dark Chocolate Bourbon Caramel SQUARE. It is soooo good. Bitter sweet dark chocolate filled with creamy, rich bourbon flavored caramel – it’s a match made in heaven. Any good Southern-inspired party definitely needs these delicious chocolates served. Oh man you guys, I’ve had to limit myself to one a day, because they are the perfect little sweet treat.
Kentucky Derby PartyKentucky Derby PartyFor my little get-together, I’m serving Ghirardelli‘s NEW Dark Chocolate Bourbon Caramel SQUARES, Chipotle Lime Pecans, and Virgin Mint Juleps. As a little party favor, all the guests are going home with a mini trophy filled with a tine mint plant, so they can go home and make more mint juleps. To bring a little winning good luck, I used pretty ceramic trophies to hold flowers and treats. Party decor doesn’t have to be complicated and time consuming. Some fresh flowers can really make a party festive in no time at all.Kentucky Derby PartyKentucky Derby PartyWhen I think Southern treats, pecans always come to mind. These sweet, salty and a little spicy Chipotle Lime Pecans and the perfect pairing for Ghirardelli’s NEW Dark Chocolate Bourbon Caramel SQUARES.Kentucky Derby Party

Chipotle Lime Pecans

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp. chipotle
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups whole pecans
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

Toss all the ingredients in a bowl together to coat all the pecans evenly. Spread out on a parchment lined baking tray. Place in a 350F over for about 20 mins. Toss half way through the baking time. If the nuts are starting to get dark brown, remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely and then break apart any nuts that a stuck together. Store in an airtight container.

Kentucky Derby Party

When I think about a warm Southern day, a refreshing Mint Julep comes to mind of course. And since I’m a fan of the mocktail, I’v come up with a fun virgin version of this Southern classic.Virgin Mint JulepVirgin Mint Julep

Virgin Mint Julep

  • 1/2 cup fresh mint chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ginger ale
  • lime juice
  • crushed or small pebble ice
  • powdered sugar, lime wedges and sprigs of mint for garnish

Start by making the mint simple syrup. In a small pot, place the water, sugar and mint. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. I like to leave the mint leaves in the syrup as long as possible. When you are ready to serve the drinks, stain off the mint leaves with a fine metal sieve. Store the syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Fill a glass with crushed ice. Add two  2 oz. mint syrup, the juice of half a lime and ginger ale to fill the glass. Stir and top the glass with more ice. Sprinkle the top of the drink with powdered sugar and garnish with a wedge of lime and a sprig of fresh mint.

This drink can also be made in a pitcher if you are serving a large crowd and you don’t want to fuss with mixing individual drinks. 1 liter of ginger ale, mixed with the full batch of mint simple syrup and the juice of 3 limes make enough to serve 6-8 guests.Virgin Mint JulepKentucky Derby PartyKentucky Derby Party

Here’s to getting lucky in Kentucky!

This post is sponsored by Ghirardelli Chocolate, thank you for supporting the awesome companies that help make this blog possible. 

 

Food & Drink

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

April 18, 2017

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

I must be ready for Summer, because I want strawberry flavored EVERYTHING! We planted a few strawberry plants about a month ago and we are already enjoying a few berries every couple of days. Picked from the garden, they are perfection, so sweet and juicy.

A strawberry mocktail is definitely Summer in a glass. And you know how much a love a fruit and herb combo. Basil gives this drink a fun earthy twist. This drink is on the sweeter side, so salt rim is kind of nice.

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • lemon/lime soda
  • lime juice
  • strawberries, basil, salt and lime slices for garnish

Start be making the Strawberry Basil Syrup. In a food processor, pulse strawberries, basil and sugar. Pour the puree into a small pot, and add lemon juice. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 3 minutes. Cool completely, and pour through a metal sieve. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks

Rim a glass with salt and then fill with ice, squeeze the juice of half a lime, add one part Strawberry Basil Syrup to two parts lemon/lime soda (sprite or sierra mist). Stir and garnish.

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita

If you are locking for a real margarita recipe and think that maybe the tequila is missing, you can check out this recipe.

Strawberry Basil Mock-Margarita