Coming Back


It’s almost midnight and I am enjoying the quiet of my living room with a beer trying to figure out what to write after a year and a half of almost zero blogging.  For a time I had switched over to a self hosted blog, but that didn’t work out like I had hoped, then things went completely haywire and I had to take a step back from blogging completely to focus on rebuilding my life.  Today my life is completely different than the one I had when I wrote my last post.  I don’t want to get into the details too much since they are far too personal and there is a lot of pain associated with them.  However, there are a two things that I feel my readers need to be updated on, since these things were such a presence in my blog before.

First, Tom and I separated at the beginning of this year.  We were having a lot of problems over the last couple years and decided that perhaps a break would be beneficial.  I think it has been and we are getting along great, working together and starting to make tentative plans to be a family again.

Second, we temporarily moved back to southern California, which in the end turned into a massive disaster, but that also is getting better and we are planning to move back north as soon as humanly possible.

Brae and Gavin are doing great.  Brae is almost 11 and in 5th grade this year!  Gavin will be turning 3 in October and is a wild carefree sweetheart.  They will be a bigger part of my blog than before since much of my cooking is done with them in mind.

I will not be posting often, maybe once a week and mostly recipes.  I was shocked to see how many people still visit this blog everyday which I am so very happy about.  I miss blogging so much and am excited to get back into it.

Until next time. :)

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Pancake Slamwich

I have an amazing sandwich over on my new blog today!  Come on over and check out the first of many of Tom’s Man Sandwiches.

Toms Pancake Sandwich-1

Posted in Breakfast | Leave a comment

Roasted Broccoli and Turkey Burgers on my New Blog

Have you checked out my blog’s new home yet?  Do you need to update your feed or subscribe?

If you haven’t been over to visit come on by and see my newest recipes

Roasted_Broccoli_MelissaBeach-6Oven Roasted Broccoli


Turkey_Burgers_MelissaBeach-1Turkey Burgers

See you there!

Posted in Dinner, Links | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

We Moved!


Hi Everyone!

I am super excited to tell you that we have moved our blog to a self hosted site!  I’m still getting things organized and updated over there, but I thought it was time to share!

You can find now find us at

My first post on the new blog went live this morning.  Please head on over and check it out!

Also be sure to update your RSS feeds and subscribe to my new blog!

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Life in Black and White- March

Has it been a month already!?!

This past month has been incredibly stressful with visitors, car troubles, illness, baby sleep troubles and so much more.  I hope to get back to blogging regularly soon.

The rainy season has finally hit us and with it comes incredible cloud formations.  I caught these yesterday.

Clouds1WEB Clouds2WEB

Hope your having a lovely March!

Continue along our Black and White Photography blog circle by checking out Jennifer’s Blog.

Posted in Photography | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Life in Black and White – Feb 2014

Gavin BWBLOG-1

One of Gavin’s favorite places to play is inside the empty bird houses outside.  They are like giant cubbies with doors.  The perfect place for a toddler to play hide and seek.

This post is part of a year long blog circle on Black and White photography.  Please check out Jen Reynolds fabulous blog next.

Posted in Photography | Tagged , | 12 Comments

How To Make Fresh Pasta (without a pasta machine)


It feels so good to be posting a recipe!  Its been too long!

Recently I discovered a wonderful website called Scribd.  It’s basically Netflix for books and I am totally in love with it.  Its like having an entire library at my fingertips.  This month I’ve been reading this wonderful book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  It documents the year she spent studying happiness and implementing different ideas to make her life more enjoyable on a day to day basis.

One of the tips she offers is to be sure to spend some of your spare time doing things that you find enjoyable.  Even if no one else likes it, or people think its stupid or a waste of time.  If it makes you happy (and doesn’t harm anyone) then do it!  This seems obvious right?  Well, as you busy Mom’s out there know, most of our free time is spent doing things that make other people happy.  This inevitably leads to grumpy Moms, which leads to grumpy kids.  Not a good thing.


So this year I’m going to try to spend an hour or two each week doing something 100% for myself.  This week I tackled pasta.  I have always wanted to try making fresh pasta, but it seemed like such a useless skill considering how many different kinds of pasta I can pick up at the store for $1.00.  Yesterday while Gavin was napping I made pasta just for the fun of it and I discovered 2 things.

1.  I enjoyed every part of the experience, even the aching arms I had from rolling out all the dough by hand.

2.  Homemade pasta is GREAT!  Chewy and hearty, with a delicate egg flavor.  Even my daughter, who normally turns her nose up at anything new, loved it.  Plus it was very simple to freeze up the pasta I didn’t cook for another day.  All it cost me was three eggs, some flour and about 90 minutes of free time.


I used this recipe from The Kitchen.  Next time I plan to try adding pureed herbs and veggies to make flavored pasta and I plan to borrow a pasta maker.  Rolling out the dough was tough work!

A Couple Tips When Making Pasta

Be generous when sprinkling the flour.  It will make the dough much easier to work with.  Just don’t go overboard.  A thin coating every few minutes will be fine.

To put less stress on sore wrists try rolling the pin with your forearms.  I have weak wrists from a previous career as a massage therapist.  I use a long bakers pin, not the classic kind with the handles, but one that looks more like a heavy dowel.

Use an old tea ball to sprinkle the flour.  You know, the ones with the handle that leak tea leaves all the time.  It’s the perfect mini sifter.

Grab a friend to help.  Having a spare set of hands around is helpful especially if you are using a hand crank pasta maker.


Homemade Pasta (without a pasta machine)

Feeds 4-6 people

  • 2 cups flour, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs

1.  Make the Dough: Using a large bowl add the flour and salt and stir well.  Make a hole in the center of the flour and crack the three eggs into it.  Next, whisk the eggs with a fork and slowly begin to combine flour from the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Soon your eggs will be stringy, keep gradually incorporating flour until a soft dough forms.  When the dough looks dry begin kneading the flour in with your hand.  When all the flour is incorporated scrape the dough out onto a well floured counter top.  (I use a large pizza peel)


2.  Knead and Rest: Knead the dough adding a little flour whenever it becomes a little sticky.  After about 10 minutes or so the dough will form a soft ball and when sliced you will not see any air bubbles.  Place the dough in an ungreased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel.  Let rest for 30-40 minutes.


3.  Rolling out the Dough: Dust a baking sheet with flour and scrape the dough out onto it.  Cut into four pieces.  Cover all dough with plastic wrap while you roll out and cut each piece.  Flatten one piece of dough with your hand and roll it as flat as you can with a well floured rolling pin.  Fold into thirds.  Turn and roll as thin as you can.  Do this 10 or so times for each ball of dough.


4.  Cut the dough by rolling one sheet out as thin as you can.  Cut into strips with a knife or pizza cutter.  You can also roll the sheet up and slice equal slices off and unroll them into noodles.  I used a herb slicer that my little brother gave me for x-mas a few years ago.  It sucks at cutting herbs, but it makes beautiful noodles.  Toss the noodles in some flour and coil into a little nest.  Cover any dough or noodles you are not working on with a layer of plastic wrap or a towel.


5.  Cook in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.  Drain and serve with sauce.

Freeze any extra noodles by coiling them into nests on a cookie sheet and freeze.  When frozen transfer to a freezer safe ziptop bag.


This afternoon we are hoping on a plane to So Cal for my stepfather’s memorial.  Wish us luck on our trip.  It’s been a long time since my last flight and I’m a little nervous!


See what I was cooking up this week in previous years.

Jan 2012: Perfect Blueberry Muffins

Jan 2011: Chocolate Truffle Cake

Posted in Dairy-Free, Dinner, Homemade Pantry | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Right Now


Right now

:listening – To Gavin pound on the keyboard.  One of his new favorite toys.

:thinking – about all the guests I have had visiting this past month.  It’s so fun to reconnect with old friends.

:feeling – anxious about my upcoming flight to So Cal.  I haven’t flown in a long time and we are all going as a family.

:wishing – for the rain to come.  While the rest of the US is freezing, California is warm and dry.  Suddenly a warm sunny day takes on this eery feeling.

:wanting – to start gardening for this summer.  I am determined to make this summer’s garden a success, but to do that I have to find more sun and improve my soil.  I think I have the answer for one problem, but not the other.

:needing – to write more.  I feel the urge.

:making – pasta today.  I hope… If Gavin takes an early nap.  I’ve never made pasta and I’ve always wanted to.

:changing – my perspectives to become a happier healthier person in 2014.

:loving – watching Gavin’s personality emerge.  He is a smart happy child with a trixie sense of humor and a sprinkle of rebellion.

:playing – with drawing and painting more.  Every couple of years I go through an arty phase.  I’m feeling it come back to me.

Posted in Family, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Free Quick Edit Preset for Landscapes

Laguna Landscape

In my opinion, watching someone edit a photo is the best way to learn how to edit your own pictures.  On my photography blog I would occasionally do editing tutorials and now that I’ve combined my blogs I would love to expand on that in 2014.  I ‘m also interested in doing screenshot videos as well.  I’ve been researching how all that works.  If you have any resources please let me know!

I love this new Lightroom preset I created for my landscapes so much that I want to share it with you as a gift for the New Year!  It’s perfect for fixing underexposed images and will pop the colors and contrast.  I use it on those images that I normally would throw out.  It also has a slight HDR effect that I like in a lot of my landscapes.

Download from Dropbox

To install, download the preset file onto your desktop.  Open Lightroom and go to the presets window in the Library module.  Right click on User Presets and click Import.  Then select the preset file from your desktop.  Voila!  To use this preset just click on it from under the User Presets window.

After you run the preset play with the sliders a bit to see what they do to your image.  Playing is how you learn!

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE share a link to your creations in the comments and be sure to link back to me when posting your images on your own sites.  Thanks!

Vineyard Sunset

Posted in Free Actions/Presets, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments


Purple Sunset870

I may be in the minority these days, but I actually love making New Years resolutions.  To me they are more like goals for the year instead of a list of things I will probably fail at.  Re-evaluating my goals for the year is something I actually do seasonally.  Around the beginning of each season I write out a rough list of what I would like to accomplish during that season.  So New Years goals are, for me, just my goals for the year squashed in with my goals for the winter season.

In 2014 I would like to:

– Improve my skills in Photoshop and Lightroom.  I would really like to learn compositing and improve my artistic skills in Photoshop.

– Further develop my photographic style and explore photography in new ways

– Finish documenting my family’s recipes here on my blog and create a small book as gifts for my family

– Work on my spiritual self

– Find regular exercise I enjoy

–  Grow a successful vegetable garden and preserve the harvest

–  Continue paying off our debt (I am a Dave Ramsey girl)

–  Get Gavin to sleep through the night, in his own bed

–  Teach myself to draw

–  Read more books

–  Start writing a book

–  Explore the county with my kids

–  Become more Me

This winter I would like to:

– Knit Gavin an earflap hat, a pair of mittens and some booties

– Finish a few knitting projects neglected from previous winters

– Build another garden bed

–  Add worms to the garden

–  Deep clean the entire house

– Finish painting and rearranging Brae’s room

I hope to revisit this list in a year to see how I have progressed!

What are YOUR goals for this year?

Posted in Holiday | Tagged , | 4 Comments