Then comes summer…

I do like to make special memories with my family during the summer. More daylight hours mean that there’s more opportunities to build relationships with my kids and my husband as well as our friends.

Here in California we’ve actually been experiencing REAL seasons in 2019! Course, they go back and forth, unable to make up their mind which order to follow. But hey, it’s actually looking like summer is coming along the coast! Every foggy morning quickly brightens into a sunny day with light breezes…it’s one of my favorite parts of where we live.

While I haven’t joined the craziness of school aged kiddos with finals, end of year parties and such, I do like to make special memories with my family during the summer. More daylight hours mean that there’s more opportunities to build relationships with my kids and my husband as well as our friends.

Beach days are a must for us!

I’ve been seeing lots of great ideas to be more intentional about how the summer is spent, especially with littles. It got me thinking, there’s gotta be other mom’s or peeps out there who’d love some ideas to navigate the glorious days of summer! So here ya go…all in one place! These are some of my favorite ideas from around the internet. Happy summer everybody!

Don’t forget to tag #thesproutedcottage and the people below if you try one of their ideas! I’d love to see what you and your sprouts end up doing this summer!


Fun, FREE, printable for your summer days!
Printable courtesy of @chalkfulloflove on Instagram

Summer Bucket List by Chalk Full of Love.

There are tons of summer bucket lists out there. Just search Pinterest and you’ll know what I mean. What makes this one unique and super fun is not only the cute lettering and summer sherbet colors, but the idea of community behind each item on the list. From hosting a game night (our cup o’ tea right there, see below!) to spending the night under the stars, this list will have you making memories all summer long. I can’t wait to start this list and I have it right on my fridge as I type! Best part, it’s available as a free download at the link above

Photo Credit: @CottonStem on Instagram

Summer Banner for Kids by Erin at CottonStem on Instagram.

This is such a fun idea and can be endlessly customized to fit your fam! Erin always has such cute, crafty ideas to do with her girls. The banner reminds me of an updated version of the construction paper chains I use to make as a kid getting ready for Christmas.

Photo: @radandhappy on Instagram

Color Happy Subscription by Tara at Rad & Happy

Oh my cuteness!!! This has been a super fun find for my Sprout. New coloring pages every single month, print them as many times as you like, only $5 a month! And best part…I don’t have a million coloring books all over our house! Coloring has been a great way for me to connect one-on-one with my girl. Our Little Big Dude took up a lot of my time in those first months (what newborn doesn’t?) and coloring was something Sprout and I could do after he fell asleep for a nap. It gives me a chance to just connect with her and build our relationship. We choose one each month to put in her art journal. It’s been SO MUCH FUN!!!

Photo by Robert Coelho on Unsplash

Family Game Night

Summer is the perfect time to start a regular family game night. We are big board game people here at the cottage. Dave wrote an article a while back and built a great list of games to get you started! We love that there’s no wrong way to do a game night. A couple snacks, table inside or outside to play on, and the people you love are all you need to get started. Sometimes we’ll have friends over and make a whole meal out of the evening. Another idea that crossed our mind was “board game date night.” Get several couples together at one house and hire a babysitter to watch the sprouts at another. Make it a potluck and you’ve got a fun evening for grown-ups for a fraction of the cost to go out.

Photo Credit: @casscayucos on Instagram

Community Night at Cass House Cayucos

The specifics of this idea are definitely for my local readers, but the idea could be applied to almost any town. Live, local music, paired with delicious food is becoming so popular across the country!

About 10 minutes south of us is the cute beach town of Cayucos. Right as you hit downtown, there’s a gorgeous venue called the Cass House. It’s most known for being a fabulous wedding venue, but they’ve done a lot to the property to make it so much more. They have a bakery, outdoor grill style restaurant, and our favorite…Community Night. They host local musicians and serve up delectable tapas style dishes every Monday night from March – November. Tapas is the style of food that brought Dave and I to the central coast in 2012. Think family style, elegant, comfort food in a laid back atmosphere. Perfect date night out on a summer evening.

“Community Night is a casual dining experience where the menu changes weekly and consists of seasonal flatbreads, market salads, and chef’s specials. “

Cass House Cayucos

What on Earth is a “Cheeseboard?”

A cheeseboard (or cheese course) is often served at the end of a meal, frequently replacing dessert. It has also become popular as an appetizer course when gatherings and parties are hosted in a more relaxed atmosphere.

There are a lot of things that take the subject of cheese to a deeper level than just grabbing a block from your local grocery store.  Especially these days.  With the dawn of exported foods and easy travel, we have variety available to us like no other time in history.  We have also entered a period of local craftsmanship and animal husbandry (fancy term for raising animals in case you were wondering!) that allows us to access food raised and crafted in our local cities and towns.  Throughout California and other states, you can meet your farmers and ranchers and even tour their fields and farms.  Not only is it possible (and has been for a while now), but its becoming more and more encouraged by these small family farms.  They want you to come and see what they are so passionate about!

As people learn more about their food and where it comes from, it opens us all up to a whole world about history and techniques as well as traditions and flavors.  This was our favorite part of learning about cheese. Continue reading “What on Earth is a “Cheeseboard?””

The Best Things in Life Are Cheese

Cheese…what more can we say? It’s one of those ingredients that can make a simple meal so much better, a small party into a great gathering, and basically make most humans the happiest humans around! It’s a year round crowd-pleaser and satisfies those midnight cravings for munchies.

Cheese…what more can we say?  It’s one of those ingredients that can make a simple meal so much better, a small party into a great gathering, and basically…make most humans the happiest humans around!  It’s a year round crowd pleaser and satisfies those midnight cravings for munchies.

Cheese Boards by the Sprouted Cottage - Tips for choosing, assembling, and serving cheeses to a crowd.

We are big about cheese around here.  Busy days often call for homemade mac and cheese or a delicious, grilled-to-perfection, grilled cheese sandwich.  Before the Sprout came along, Dave and I would often frequent our local cheese shops and select a couple types to take home for Sunday afternoon lunches and beach side picnics.  Then the Sprout came…after two months of her experiencing acid-reflux symptoms and the screams to match, we discovered that she was lactose intolerant.  Heavy sigh…cheese was a way of life for Dave and I!  Well maybe not a way of life, but we definitely survived on it often!

Cheese Boards by the Sprouted Cottage - Tips for choosing, assembling, and serving cheeses to a crowd.We aren’t the kind of people who give up easily, though.  After all, Dave’s a chef…so we set out to find ones that she could tolerate, which also meant that I could eat them while nursing.  And find them, we did!  We found many varieties that she not only tolerated, but enjoyed discovering when she got older.  Life had returned!

Continue reading “The Best Things in Life Are Cheese”

Life Starts All Over Again…

Maybe it’s the red hair, maybe it’s the fair skin and freckles, all I know is that summer is always a bit off for me. Fall is more my bread and butter. I mean walking around with auburn colored hair automatically makes me fit in better! By August I am ready for sweaters, spicy scented candles, and crisp evenings filled with falling leaves and changing colors. The California temperatures don’t always agree with me, but luckily Cambria and the coast tend to oblige.

How did the summer fly by so fast?!  There are back to school sales everywhere and my inbox is full of emails for discounts on everything from clothes to backpacks.  As a girl who loves a good discount, I can’t exactly complain!  However, I definitely feel as though summer is floating by quickly and fall will be here before I’ve microwaved my coffee for the third time!

I’m sitting here, staring at the most beautiful picture of a cottage in Idaho that was taken by a dear friend last fall.  A bit of light through halfway bare trees, leaves scattered about a fading green lawn, this is the whimsical photo that stares back at me.  It’s beautiful and it makes me so excited for the season that’s approaching.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/EvelynnsHeaven
Photo credit: Evelynn Seaberg   Evelynn’s Heaven on Etsy

Continue reading “Life Starts All Over Again…”

What on Earth Should I Plant in My Veggie Garden?

So, here are some tips about what to plant in your veggie garden that we’ve figured out along the way. We hope they will point you in the right direction in deciding what plants to get and what seeds to start.

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Easy tips and strategies for planning your best veggie garden yet!It may be a bit early to think of gardening for some of you and we know the groundhog saw his shadow and all that jazz, but here in California we are getting warmer and warmer everyday.  Winter was very, VERY mild this year and never really held on.  I’m sure this sounds wonderful to some, but we really missed the snow,  rain, and chilly weather that reaches a lot of areas in our state.  After that horrific, record breaking drought and wildfires, we hoped for more than just one wet year (2016-2017).   It wasn’t meant to be apparently, so now it’s time to move on and be grateful for longer days, (and hopefully some spring showers!)  Longer days mean there will soon be new fruits and veggies popping up in grocery stores, farmers’ markets and possibly your own back yard!  Not sure why you should grow your own food?  Check out our post about why you should consider homesteading and why its great for modern families.Morro Bay Overlook Highway 46

“I’ve never grown my own food, what on earth should I plant in my garden?!”

One of the questions we get asked a lot is, “I’ve never grown my own food, what on earth should I plant in my garden?!”  It’s a good question and super complex.  Until we moved to the cottage, we always had limited space to plant or unique gardening circumstances like minimal sunlight, poor soil etc.  As we’ve mentioned before, we both grew up with summer gardens that we loved,  so we knew we just needed to work with what we had and figure out the rest.  We learned that even a small deck can provide a good amount of fruits or veggies if you choose the right ones for you and your family.  You may not be able to grow everything you want, but you’ll know what you can grow successfully and save yourself a ton of money and frustration. Continue reading “What on Earth Should I Plant in My Veggie Garden?”

Falling for Pickles!

The other beautiful part of fall is the abundance of produce that ripens at the end of summer/early fall. Especially cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans. The cooler weather also makes pickling a little less exhausting at the cottage. Pickles are full of vitamins and minerals and are often consumed to aid digestion as well as other ailments.

Simple Cottage Dill Pickles
A classic and tasty recipe perfect for the whole family.

Fall is officially here and it’s starting to show. Our maple tree is turning red, the plum tree is turning too. We love autumn, especially here on the coast.  The weather is mild and sunny and most of the tourists are back home in school. The other beautiful part of fall is the abundance of produce that ripens at the end of summer/early fall.  Especially cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans.  The cooler weather also makes pickling a little less exhausting at the cottage. Continue reading “Falling for Pickles!”

Chocolaty Zucchini Muffins

Not exactly the typical summer crop that comes to mind, but once you try this, you’ll be making it late into the fall with that large zucchini crop!

Today, Day 4 of the Summer Produce Series we are bringing you chocolate! Not exactly the typical summer crop that comes to mind, but once you try this, you’ll be making it late into the fall with that large zucchini crop!
img_1961Zucchini is a great crop to grow, even if you have a smaller yard. Each plant yields several pounds of vegetables and the blossoms are delicious to cook with too! The plants are hardy and there are many varieties to choose from.  We like to grill them with a little salt, pepper and olive oil for a dinner side.  When we aren’t grilling them, we’re baking them like this…

img_0152
All the spices blend well with the moisture of the zucchini to create a flavor party in your mouth!

The inspiration for these muffins came from a recipe that is often made in Dave’s family. They make a chocolate zucchini cake that is moist and divinely full of chocolate. His great aunt made the cake many times throughout the years and it became a signature dish to bring to potlucks and parties. In fact, we made the cake on one of our first dates. Dave had made it several times for friends and we decided to make it together. So, I guess you could say this started our love for cooking together!
img_1980A cake is a great dish when you have a crowd or large family, but our family is still small and apparently it’s not healthy to devour a whole cake on a regular basis! (Say what?!) So, we came up with these muffins. They are a portable version of the original with a couple twists. A little less dessert and a little more breakfast.
img_1979They will keep in an airtight container on the counter for 4-5 days. Or you can wrap them individually and freeze them for up to a month. Just pull out however many you want and thaw them overnight.

It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but I promise, they all add to the layers of flavor in these beauties.
img_1974Hope you enjoy them! I promise, your kids won’t even know that they are high in protein and full of green veggies!

Chocolaty Zucchini Muffins

  • Servings: 24 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Who says you can’t have chocolate for breakfast? This muffin recipe is full of moist zucchini and protein to keep you full.



Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. plain, Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 c. zucchini, finely grated
  • 1 c. chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Fill 24 regular muffin cups with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and maple syrup using a hand mixer. (Or the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer.)
  3. Add the oil, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. Mix until fluffy.
  4. In a separate bowl, blend the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, baking powder and spices.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter in two batches and mix until incorporated.
  6. Fold the zucchini and chocolate chips into the batter.
  7. Using a cookie scoop, fill each muffin cup 2/3 of the way with batter.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then enjoy!