Orange-Cinnamon Iced Tea

I’ve been planning a big patio furniture upcycle reveal. I was hoping to have part one of that project completed to share with you this week but, well…I opted to relax with a glass of iced tea instead. It’s been about 80 degrees and sunny all week in the Chicago area and the summery weather has just been begging me to enjoy it while drinking a cold beverage.

Orange Cinnamon Iced Tea

If you’ve been following the blog over the last few months, you may have noticed my current obsession with citrus. I’m not really sure what the root of that craze is, but I have been wanting to put oranges in pretty much everything – salad, mocktails, pasta, you name it. To add to that orange-inspired collection, I’ve made a simple sweetened iced tea recipe that’s the perfect drink to enjoy on a warm day while sitting in the shade on a yet-to-be-upcycled patio chair.

Orange Cinnamon Iced Tea 2

I promise that I will be working on that furniture project next week and I really am excited to share the results with you. In the meantime, grab a glass and join me as I relax with some Orange-Cinnamon Iced Tea.

Orange-Cinnamon Iced Tea
Yields 8 cups

Tea
8 cups water
8 tea bags (I use a basic black tea)

1. In a medium pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil.

2. Once the water boils, add the tea bags and remove from heat.

3. Let the tea steep for 4 minutes.

4. Remove tea bags and let the brewed tea cool.

5. Once the tea is cooled, add the orange-cinnamon syrup. Mix thoroughly. Transfer to a serving pitcher and add ice.

6. Serve and enjoy!

Orange-Cinnamon Syrup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
Zest of 1 orange

1. In a small saucepan, mix the water, orange juice and sugar. Add the cinnamon sticks and orange zest.

2. Turn heat to medium-high. Stir mixture frequently until it comes to a boil.

3. Once the mixture boils and the sugar has dissolved, remove saucepan from the heat.

4. Allow the sugar mixture to cool. It will thicken a bit once cooled.

5. Strain mixture to remove cinnamon sticks and any large pieces of orange zest.

6. Add cooled sweetener to brewed tea.

Mother’s Day Reflections

My beautiful picture

I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve decided to get a bit personal with this post. I’ve been intending to share this part of my story for months, but to be honest I’ve been procrastinating because I know writing about it forces me to be vulnerable. There’s no recipe, no ideas and no DIY project with this post. Just me.

My beautiful picture

So why get personal? I know that I am not the only one who is feeling this way when spring rolls around. I’m sure I’m not the only one with a deep ache that reignites for weeks leading up to today. If you’ve felt that ache, you know exactly what I’m referring to.

Mother’s Day.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am absolutely in favor of celebrating Mother’s Day – I think moms deserve much more than one day of celebration. But for many people, Mother’s Day feels like a deeper gash in an already existing wound.

My beautiful picture

For me, this year is the first year without my mom. After battling pancreatic cancer for about two years, my mom died on February 12th at about 10:15am. Last year at this time, she was struggling to continue treatment. I vividly remember strolling through the aisles of the grocery store one afternoon last spring. I walked past the greeting card section and thought I’d glance around for a Mother’s Day card. A wave of emotion crashed over me the instant I began reading Mother’s Day cards. I just lost it and practically ran out of the store. I couldn’t bear to stand there and think about buying what would likely be the last Mother’s Day card I would ever give my mom.

My beautiful picture

I don’t mean to tell a sob story. I’m not looking to complain or proclaim myself a victim – because honestly, I have no reason to do that. I had the best mom anyone could ever ask for. (I think the term “supermom” was coined as soon as my mom had kids.) I simply want to share a piece of my story because I know that I am not the only one who is grieving this Mother’s Day.

My beautiful picture

I grieve for those who never experienced a loving mother, those whose heart craves the chance to be that loving mother, those who are struggling in the midst of motherhood, those who like me have lost the most incredible of mothers. Today, I will joyfully be celebrating the wonderful mothers in my life who deserve this holiday and so much more – and I will be remembering those who quietly wish someone knew how painful this holiday really is.

My beautiful picture

The photos throughout this post are of my mom when she was about my age. I’ll be sharing more recent photos of my mom in future posts, but I’ve had so much fun over the last few months looking at old pictures that I couldn’t help but share some of them with you. Today, even though she is gone, I’m celebrating. I’m celebrating the fact that I had an incredible mother who demonstrated an unwavering faith in Jesus and loved others with the love I hope I can someday emulate. Yet in the midst of my celebration, my heart aches because I miss her more than words can express. I realize I can’t call her to wish her a “Happy Mother’s Day”. And I weep.

My beautiful picture

If it’s all you can do to escape the greeting card aisle at the grocery store when the Mother’s Day cards ominously stare you in the face, know that you’re not alone. I celebrate you and encourage you to share your story with family or friends. If you’re not sure who wants to hear you out or what to say, share your story with us. From the bottom of our hearts, we’d love to hear from you and we want you to know that we hear you, we grieve with you and we celebrate you.

My beautiful picture

This photo is of my parents on their honeymoon. They had been married nearly 48 years when my mom passed away.

To hear a bit more about the story of my mother and our journey in the midst of her cancer, click here. You’ll read the words of my dad, who has exemplified what it means to be a loving husband more than anyone I have ever known in my entire life.

For those struggling this Mother’s Day, especially due to infertility and the loss of a child, read my cousin’s story on her blog. You will truly be encouraged.

Cranberry-Citrus Mocktail with Mint

Mocktail 3

At my house, we typically have a pretty boring beverage selection. If you came over on an average day, you’d have your choice of either coffee or water. Maybe if you’re really lucky, we’ll have a gallon of milk on hand. We’ve had people over for a big homemade dinner only to realize that when I offered them drinks, their exciting options were water or…ummm…water.

Keep reading!

Clean Eating | Mango-Banana Breakfast Smoothies

When Tiffany introduced the “Clean Eating” series a few weeks ago, I was inspired and excited to adjust my own diet. I’ve not exactly been demonstrating the greatest eating habits lately. Despite my best efforts back in January to make doable New Year’s resolutions involving exercising and healthful eating, those resolutions lasted about as long as the bag of chips (that used to be) in my pantry.

Mango Banana Smoothie 1

Keep reading!

Clean Eating | Gluten Free Lemon Almond Butter Cookies + Easy Homemade Almond Butter

Clean Eating | Gluten Free Lemon Almond Butter Cookies + Easy Homemade Almond Butter - offbeat + inspired

What I love about cookies: they’re dense, a delightful combination of crumbly and chewy, the perfect balance of sweet and savory, buttery without being too rich, and a convenient dessert in that there’s typically no gooey or sticky mess involved. What I don’t love about cookies: it’s easy to spend an unreasonable amount of your daily calories on them, which is because they’re usually stuffed with not quite necessary (and not quite healthy) ingredients like dairy butter, white flour, double doses of sugar, and a lot of eggs. You’re probably thinking “Unnecessary?! That’s where all the flavor comes from!!” And you’re right — but the recipe I’m sharing today will prove that it’s possible to get all that flavor with only a fraction of the “unnecessary” ingredients, and the result is a buttery, crumbly, chewy, sweet and savory cookie packed with flavor, loaded with healthy ingredients — and they’re only 66 calories each!

Keep reading!

Cappuccino Biscotti

It’s no secret that I love coffee. From my morning brew to nearly every other coffee-related recipe or project, I’m obsessed. Coffee soaps, coffee cupcakes, coffee decor – there’s something about this delicious beverage (probably caffeine) that I just can’t get enough of.

Cappuccino Biscotti 6

Keep reading!

Painted Kitchen Utensils

A few weeks ago, some of the girls in my family had a craft day at my house. Despite the fact that I have tons of craft supplies and my garage is filling up with roadside furniture collections I’ve been promising my husband I’ll redo at some point, I was at a bit of a loss trying to find some craft inspiration for that day.

Wooden Spoons 3

Keep reading!

Offbeat’s Picks: The Artwork of Kevin Stinehart + A Giveaway! (Giveaway Closed)

Pierce Collage

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk with Kevin Stinehart, a South Carolina-based woodworking artist. Kevin salvages materials like old books and wood scraps and uses them to create works of art. He says, “I have found that in life some of the most striking beauty is found in the discarded and broken things. I strive to mirror that same hope in the art that I create. While the end result should be a thing of aesthetic pleasure, the ultimate goal is always redemption – something new from the old, something lovely from the rubbish, and in each of us, and in all things, another chance to be made beautiful.”

Keep reading!

Clean Eating | Quinoa Pilaf + Balsamic Roasted Kabocha Squash

Clean Eating | Quinoa Pilaf + Balsamic Roasted Kabocha Squash from offbeat + inspired

I think it’s fairly common to make healthy eating resolutions in January, and then watch in horror as they go down the drain when Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter hit. Those don’t seem like big eating holidays, which is why we all figure we’re out of the dog house post-New Years — but then the boxes of chocolate, fancy dinner dates, Irish soda bread, corned beef, Easter ham and everything buttery, sugary, salty and fried makes itself absolutely necessary… again.

Keep reading!

Coconut-Lime Soap

Yesterday morning, I looked out the window while I was getting ready and decided, “You know what? It looks like flip-flop weather!” I’m not quite sure what got into me, but I got dressed and was completely convinced that I would get to work and everyone would be wearing summer attire.

Coconut Lime Soap 3

Keep reading!