Make Dishwasher Safe Glitter Mugs

Perfect for the holidays or gift giving!

Christmas Bird House

Make candy inspired bird houses for your holiday mantel.

DIY Pretend Doctor Kit

Make a functional pretend doctor kit for your favorite little ones.

Farm Girl Apron Tutorial

Turn old jeans into a cute gardening apron with this tutorial.

Glittered Bulb Ornaments

Sparkle with easy but impressive bulb ornaments!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Downton Abbey Fever! (and Black Friday Specials)

This post is brought to you by Cost Plus World Market

I'm not a huge TV watcher but the one show I absolutely must watch each week is Downton Abbey. Last season, my best friend and I had a tea party every week to watch the latest episode together - and we absolutely plan to do the same when new episodes start airing in the US in January.

I know I'm not the only one head over heels for Downton, so I wanted to share some really awesome promotions that Cost Plus World Market is running in regard to Downton Abbey.

Black Friday

If there were ever a store I would want to be first in line for on Black Friday, it's World Market. At each store, the first 100 people in line on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will get an exclusive Downton Abbey cup. There is a new design each day, so go all three days for the set!

If you make a $20 purchase on any of those three days, you'll also get a free Downton Abbey tote bag (while supplies last). Again, there is a new design each day so don't feel shy about coming back the next day! Get more details here.


Sweepstakes

Whether of not you shop on Black Friday, you'll want to be sure to enter the amazing sweepstakes. There are SO MANY amazing prizes being given away like a trip to London to visit the set of Downton Abbey and sweet World Market gift cards. Click here to enter.


World Market Downton Shop

Last year, World Market had a few Downton Abbey items and they were a runaway hit! This year, the Downton shop is back with a beautiful tea set, snacks, teas, kitchen items and more. I hit up my downton Portland store yesterday and bought everything I need to host the best Downton Abbey tea party ever (stay tuned...I'll be sure to tell you all about it next month!). See all of the great Downton Abbey items online here.

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Sponsored post disclosure: I was compensated by Cost Plus World Market for telling you about these promotions. Love of Downton Abbey and enthusiasm for tea parties is entirely my own. I only share information about events and products I truly enjoy and think my readers will, too. See my full sponsored post policy for more information.

Friday, November 21, 2014

10 Easy Tips to Increase Energy Efficiency and Save Money on Your Heating Bill at the Same Time!

This post is brought to you by PG&E.

As we're getting ready to head into winter, things are getting mighty chilly across the country! You will definitely want to start thinking about changes you can make to help keep your family warm without costing you a fortune. While installing energy efficient appliances can help - big ticket items aren't in every family's budget. These 10 tips fit every budget and will help you keep your house warm while you save money! Not only that, but it helps you save natural resources so that they continue to be available for generations to come.




1) Get baking
Using your oven will help warm your house more than stovetop or microwave cooking. Whip up an easy casserole or bake bread to go with dinner. When you’re done, leave your oven door cracked to release all the extra heat back into your house - just be sure to barricade the area to keep children and dogs away.

2) Shut the front door!
While I’m sure none of you have actually left your door open, if your doors aren’t sealed well, warm air can sneak out and cold air can get in through the cracks around your door. Use weather stripping to give them a better seal. (tip source: Jennifer from Always in Wonder)

3) Warm your walls
If you have a cold wall or cold spots on a larger wall, it may mean that your wall doesn’t have insulation (or not enough insulation). Fixing the problem can be costly or time consuming (or impossible if you’re a renter). For a quick fix, hang a rug or a quilt on your wall as decorative art instead. (tip source: Anna of Green Talk)

4) Cuddle up
Keep lots of blankets and throws available in your living spaces for you and you family to snuggle under. This lets you keep the thermostat a couple degrees lower but every still feels toasty warm.  (tip source: Jennifer from Always in Wonder)

5) It’s a snake!
Whip up an easy-to-make draft snake in about five minutes using this tutorial from Tiffany at Nature Moms Blog (no sewing required!). Place it on drafty window joins to help prevent temperature leaks. (Tutorial: How to Make a No-Sew Draft Snake)

6) It’s electric.
Even on insulated walls, electric outlets and lightswitches can be a weak point in your wall’s protective power against the cold. Last winter, I installed these Outlet Sealers & Switch Plate Sealers to help minimize leakage.



7) Let the Sunshine In

If you live where the sun shines during the winter (read: not Oregon!), open your curtains in the morning to let the sun warm up your house. Close them again when the sun moves to help hold the heat in. (tip from Amanda of Crafts by Amanda)

8) Keep it in the closet
The cold, that is. Keeping closet doors shut will keep you from spending money to hear unoccupied areas of your home. Your clothes won’t mind if it’s colder in your closet than in the rest of the house. This same tip applies for infrequently used rooms like your guest room. (tip source: Jessica of Mad in Crafts)

9) Pre-heat Your Bed
If you’ve been keeping doors of less-used rooms closed during the day, good for you! At night time, though, you can solve the problem of a chilly bed by preheating it - instead of turning up the thermostat to blast the furnace. Turn on an electric blanket as you’re starting to get ready for bed. By the time you climb in, it will be toasty warm and ready for you. Don’t forget to turn off the electric blanket before you go to sleep!

10) Stay Cozy
During the winter, change your bedding to flannel sheets and add an additional blanket to beds to keep you warmer at night without needing the thermostat to be as high.   (tip source: Jennifer from Always in Wonder)

Get more energy saving tips from PG&E here: Money and Energy Saving Tips


Got a great tip of your own? Let me know in the comments!

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Our blog newsletter offers the convenience of email delivery but only goes out every 10-14 days.

Sponsored post disclosure: I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Make a Mason Jar Soap Pump


As I'm wrapping up my dining room makeover, I've recently started on my upstairs bathroom - because there's no time to start a new project like right before your current one is done! This project couldn't be easier and took maybe 5 minutes from start to finish.


Supplies

Some of the links in my supply lists may be affiliate links. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

UV Light Systems for Water Purification

This post brought to you by Pelican Water.


Has anything ever happened to the water in your area that caused your utility district to post a boil water notice? Or maybe you have well water and you're not sure of its purity? Installing a UV light system to purify your water and eliminate harmful bacteria might be the right choice for your family. Here is some more information about how it works:


For more information, visit Pelican Water Systems.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

{Recipe} Italian Winter Squash Chili

This post brought to you by The Frozen Food Foundation.


This chili features frozen winter squash - which is especially great when you have eaten through all the fresh squash you grew in your garden for the year. Because freezing is nature's pause button,  it keeps the produce just as tasty and nutritious as it was when it was picked. Being frozen also helps it keep for a long time and reduces food waste - I know I'm not the only one who has had to throw out fresh produce because I got distracted and didn't eat it on time! Frozen foods conveniently avoid that problem and help make meal and snack times a snap.

Here is the funny part of this chili: I'm not normally a squash fan. But the way the Italian sausage and great northern beans play together with the fall spice make this a delectable, spiced (but not spicy!) soup. It's great way to get extra veggies into your or your kids' diets (did you know 90% of Americans don't eat enough vegetables?!). Of course, you all know that eating fruits and vegetables is important to help your body get essential nutrients and help fight chronic illness. Given the current rate of chronic illness, getting a good variety of colorful produce is more important than ever!


Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 box frozen winter squash (12.0z)
  • 1 quart of chicken stock
  • 1 can of great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 large cans (28 oz) diced tomatoes, drained*
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage without casings
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp thyme



Directions

  1. In a large pot, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Saute 1-2 minutes. 
  2. Add sausage to pot. Brown and crumble sausage until cooked through. 
  3. Add defrosted squash and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Add beans, tomatoes and spices. Cook on low for 1 hour or transfer to a crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  5. Top with shredded cheese, sour cream and diced onions if desired. Serve with crusty bread.


The University of California, Davis, in partnership with the Frozen Food Foundation, conducted a study that revealed that frozen fruits and vegetables are most often (or generally) nutritionally equal to – and in some cases better than – their fresh counterparts. For the study each fruit and vegetable was analyzed under the following conditions: frozen (analyzed within 24 hours of harvest and after 10 and 90 days of storage in a freezer) and fresh-stored (analyzed within 24 hours of harvest and after three and 10 days of storage in a refrigerator). Read the study to find out more.

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Sponsored post disclosure: This post is sponsored by The Frozen Food Foundation. All opinions and original chili recipe are entirely my own. Find out more by reading my full sponsored post and review policy. Follow the Frozen Food Foundation online: Frozen Food Foundation Twitter // Frozen Food Foundation FacebookVisit Sponsor's Site

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Whole 30: What I Ate Week 3


Interested in trying Whole 30 but not sure what you'd eat? I've been sharing my weekly meals with you to help inspire you to see that you can do it, too! 

If you're interested in doing Whole 30 with me? Get started here.

Each week I'm be posting about what we ate. Hopefully it will give you an idea of what the program is like and maybe even inspire you with your own food ideas, too!


Day 15

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with guacamole, frozen peaches with coconut milk.

Lunch: Egg salad served in celery sticks

Dinner: Chicken cooked in green salsa. Served with pico de gallo and guacamole. Sauteed mushrooms and zucchini on the side.

Day 16

Breakfast: Sweet potato hashbrowns, overeasy eggs, berries with coconut milk

Lunch: Aidell's chicken and apple sausage, salad, peach.

Dinner: Italian sausage with onions, mushrooms and peppers sauteed in coconut oil



Day 17

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, lox, guacamole

Lunch: Chicken sausage, banana, nuts (cashews and macadamia nuts).

Dinner: Cube steak (dipped in almond flour and fried in coconut oil), sweet potato fries, broccolini


Day 18

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and lox.

Lunch: Aidells chicken sausage, salad

Dinner: Chicken cooked in marinara sauce, tomato and olive salad


Day 19

Breakfast: Sauteed mushrooms, hard boiled eggs, berries with coconut milk

Lunch: Attended a party so I had strawberries, apples and carrots from the party food. Had some shrimp (from a shrimp cocktail tray but without the sauce). olives and a banana once I got home.

Dinner: Thai coconut milk chicken (cooked bone-in thighs in a skillet with garlic, coconut aminos, coconut milk and curry paste), asparagus sauteed in coconut oil, salad



Day 20

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, lox, guacamole.

Lunch: Roast beef slices, salami, hard boiled eggs, blueberries with coconut milk.

Dinner: Asian chicken (without the honey), broccolini sauteed in coconut oil.



Day 21

Breakfast: Italian Chicken Sausage, hard boiled eggs, berries

Lunch: Nuts (cashews and macadamia nuts), mixed fruit, grapes, shrimp (from a shrimp cocktail tray but without the sauce).

Dinner: Burger patties (mixed garlic into the beef)served over romaine with guacamole on top. Sauteed asparagus and roasted purple potatoes on the side.



Notes about Shopping:

We did most of our shopping at Costco to stock back up on staples like frozen berries, organic sweet potatoes, shrimp, organic chicken, macadamia nuts, eggs (2 dozen raw and 2 dozen hardboiled) and smoked salmon. I also picked up some supplemental produce and condiments at Natural Grocers


Need more Whole 30 ideas?

Follow my Whole 30 board on Pinterest for more Whole 30 recipes and ideas:


See all of my Whole 30 posts and Whole 30 recipes here



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Our blog newsletter offers the convenience of email delivery but only goes out every 10-14 days.

Monday, October 27, 2014

GMO Labeling is an Equal Rights Issue


As Oregon and Colorado close in on election day, voters in these states are deciding whether to label GMOs in their food supplies by voting for ballot initiatives 92 and 105 (respectively).

Pro-labeling citizens say that they have a right to know if they are purchasing food containing GMOs for a myriad of reasons. Some cite health concerns associated with eating GMOs. Some are concerned with the increased exposure to pesticides that comes hand in hand with many GMO crops. Some simply believe that more transparency is better.

See Dr. Ray Seidler (former EPA senior scientist) talk about just one of the many pesticide resistant GMO crops here:


The opponents of labeling, on the other hand - namely Dana Bieber, a paid spokesperson from Washington state (read: neither an Oregonian nor a Coloradan) - like to say that if consumers are looking for GMO free foods, they are already available. Those consumers, they say, should purchase only USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project certified foods.


So what's the problem?

Stated simply: To insist that only those families able to afford an all-organic diet should have access to information about whether or not their food contains GMOs is elitism at its worst.

According to their logic, here is a short list of just some of the people who labeling opponents say don't deserve the right to know if their food contains GMOs:

  • Moms on WIC (WIC vouchers explicitly prevent purchase of most organic foods including formula)
  • Students
  • Working class families
  • Families living on income from minimum wage jobs
  • Middle class families where one parent stays home
  • Single mothers
  • Middle class families with multiple children
  • Families working hard to pay down student loan debt.

If you belong to one of these groups of people, you apparently don't deserve to be informed about the kinds of foods you buy to feed your family.

The truth is that thousands of food products that do not contain GMOs are neither labeled as organic nor Non-GMO Project certified. Each of these labeling programs is costly to food producers and that results in these foods being sold at a premium price. Consumers currently have no way to know which non-organic products are GMO free because labeling the presence of GMOs isn't required.

Independent groups such as Consumer Reports have looked at this measure and determined that it will not raise the price of food despite fear mongering ads claiming cost increases in the triple digits.

Because costs will not increase, there is simply no good reason not to label GMOs.

Fellow Oregonians, please join me in voting YES on 92 - because everyone should have the right to know what's in their food.

Not sure what a GMO is? See my crash course on GMOs: Everything You Wanted to Know About GMOs but Were Afraid to Ask.

About the Author: 
Carissa is an Oregon mom to two energetic boys. She passionately believes every Oregonian has the right to be informed about the food they are purchasing - not just those wealthy enough to afford an all-organic diet. 

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Easy Last Minute Halloween Costume: Glowing Stick Man


Are you scrambling to come up with a Halloween costume that won't break the bank? I cranked out this Halloween costume in 10 minutes flat and only spent $2 to make it happen! If you need a fun, clever or dirt cheap costume, this is the one for you!


Supplies

  • Black hoodie
  • Black pants
  • 4 pack of 22" glow necklaces (buy 2 packages for child, 3 or more for an adult)
  • Clear packing tape
Some of the links in my supply lists may be affiliate links. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Make a Jack o Lantern Trick-or-Treat Bag


Plastic pumpkins are so not my thing. It makes me wonder how many plastic pumpkins end up in landfills each year - because you know that most people are not saving those once Halloween is gone. This easy to make Jack-o-lantern tote bag will get extra mileage since you can use it all month long to haul lunches, library books and more. Plus it rolls up nice and small to save for next year!


Supplies

Some of the links in my supply lists may be affiliate links. 


Directions

Find the directions online in my tutorial on Pentel's Blog: Create an Easy Jack o' Lantern Bag


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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Whole 30: What I Ate Week 2


Have you been following along with my Whole 30 journey? If you are, I shared what I ate for week 1 here: Whole 30: What I Ate Week 1

If you're interested in doing Whole 30 with me? Get started here.

Each week I'm be posting about what we ate. Hopefully it will give you an idea of what the program is like and maybe even inspire you with your own food ideas, too!


Day 8

Breakfast: Overeasy eggs over sweet potato hashbrowns.

Lunch: Turkey avocado roll ups (based on this recipe but I added garlic herb mayo and lettuce)

Dinner: Aidell's Chicken sausage and heirloom tomato salad.


Day 9

Breakfast: Veggie scramble with peppers, mushrooms and guacamole

Lunch: Egg salad served in celery sticks

Dinner: Asian chicken (without the honey), broccolini sauteed in coconut oil, coconut milk over frozen berries



Day 10

Breakfast: Pan roasted new potatoes, overeasy eggs

Lunch: Smoothie (banana, coconut milk, frozen peaches) - smoothies aren't supposed to make up a lot of your Whole 30 experience and this is the first one I had.

Dinner: Meatballs in marinara sauce, salad



Day 11

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, apple slices

Lunch: Hardboiled eggs, Aidells chicken sausage, banana, fruit leather

Dinner: Taco salad (ground beef with my homemade taco seasoning over lettuce with pico de gallo and guacamole).


Day 12

Breakfast: Hardboiled eggs, Aidells chicken sausage, apple slices

Lunch: Chipotle - I ordered a carnitas salad with pico de gallo and guacamole with no salad dressing.

Dinner: Meatballs in marinara, sweet potato fries



Day 13

Breakfast: Sweet potato hashbrowns, over easy eggs, apple slices

Lunch: Aidell's chicken sausage and salad

Dinner: Tacos (leftover taco meat from day 11 served in romaine leaves with pico de gallo and guacamole)



Day 14

I forgot to write down what I ate for day 14 (sorry!)



Notes about Shopping:

After spending about $350 on groceries for week 1, I was happy that I didn't need to buy much for week 2: just some more produce, some Aidell's chicken sausages and Costco, more eggs and some condiments like guacamole. 


Need more ideas?

Follow my Whole 30 board on Pinterest for more Whole 30 recipes and ideas:


See all of my Whole 30 posts and Whole 30 recipes here



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Our blog newsletter offers the convenience of email delivery but only goes out every 10-14 days.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How to Make Easy Stenciled Mustache Baby Onesies


Are you tired of the mustache trend yet? I'm not! Especially when it comes to adorable baby accessories! These mustaches are upgraded with a little bit of black glitter to give them something extra while still being manly.


Supplies

Some of the links in my supply lists may be affiliate links.