Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ready for next summer...

Yes, I know it's the day before Thanksgiving (yay!) & my latest test/try will not really get a workout for another six months or so, but I'm ready. Ready for the onslaught of mosquitoes that will eventually be back & zooming around our heads before we know it - we'll be using these babies:


Have you seen or used these bracelets before? They are new to me & I really like the way they smell as they are made with lavender, eucalyptus, citronella (of course!), & peppermint oils. One size fits all; I have pretty small wrists & they adjusted fine for me:

Hey, freckles!

You can also use them around your ankles too, which would probably be a better fit for me as I do not have small ankles! I also like that the pack has a variety of cute colors:


Here are the great dets:
  • They are made of microfiber & super comfortable to wear.
  • Instead of wearing them, you can also attach them to a backpack/bag or baby carrier.
  • They last up to 240 hours or 10 days.
  • Store them back in their  package or a sealed bag when not in use.
  • DEET free & 100% natural oils - 100% non-toxic.
Note: You should keep these away from fire & electricity, out of reach of kiddos, & away from your eyes, please.

Each pack has 12 & they retail for $12.95/pack.

So, let the eating commence tomorrow & let the mosquitoes stay away next summer. Or something like that...

Cheers,
S

#selpHbalance

I was receive this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Today

Today was a hard one for me.

I did expect to wake up to different results & while I do respect opinions & views that differ with mine - I still find the whole thing baffling. 

My brain can't fully process...anything.

I don't believe walls are a solution. Walls are easy; building complex & mutually beneficial relationships is difficult &...presidential.

I believe America has always been great. A lot of other countries are great too & yep, there are a lot of parts of the US that are not so great - "great" is too easy - we need to be striving for better.

I feel like "easy" won today. 

I feel like hate won today. 

I feel like "because I have a lot of money, I can do whatever I want - but, oh! I can also totally relate to you" (ha!) won.

I am also a little relieved for Clinton because at least (maybe) she can have a bit of reprieve from all this craziness. It was also very clearly documented that if she won, she would be berated for the next four years (go, team...sigh). And I do believe that reprieve for a woman like Clinton can only mean good things, better things for this country's future. 

Do I think she'll ever run again? Probably not. But that doesn't mean she will not continue to fight for children, women, families & be a power of influence.

It ain't over!

And I really need a bagel, stat!






Wednesday, November 2, 2016

#plant love!

This past weekend (pre-Halloween weekend!) I was able to put together & test a plant stand. I love plants, but they don't always love me. See the half-dead ground cover in the green pots below - we planted them earlier this year - that chive is looking a little sad too:


And because we were on the heels of Halloween, I decided to use it to hold a bucket of pumpkin heads (they are solar lights!) - this is one of the buckets we turned into planters - so I'll be adding another plant soon/post-Halloween & move the buckets back to the backyard, here.

I like this stand because it can be used indoors or outdoors. It's a little big for my house for indoor use, but I also gave it a trial run inside:



Is that aloe looking a little sad too?

If you use it indoors, the feet have caps to protect your floors:

 
I love how easy this is to put together! No tools are necessary. The pieces ship like this:



Unwrapped:



(I swear the "smiley face" was not intentional & I only noticed it when I uploaded this photo :-)

You then unscrew the caps on each stand (four screws for each stand) & re-screw them into the "legs".



Easy!

Finished product again:


I did have one screw refuse to twist off - a wrench took care of it. It takes less than 15 minutes to put the whole thing together. My only complaint is that Amazon shipped it in a ginormous box & it had SO much paper padding. A bit overkill & I think they could cut that down with bubble wrapped pieces.

It retails for around $27 which I think is a great price - I also think it will last quite awhile as it's all made of metal & very sturdy.

Now I need some healthier plants or figure out how to green up my thumbs!

Cheers,
S

#plant

I was able to purchase this plant stand with a generous discount. All opinions are 100% my own.




Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!



Years & another job ago (which feels like another life ago), my office had a Halloween-day-like-event. We were each asked to bring a treat to share. Happily & luckily I came across this post.

How cute is that? Healthy too! I wish I had taken a pic of my version; I need to make one again!

If you make this, be sure you have any extra long cutting board or serving platter - I kept running out of room & had to shorten him up. Or maybe I just used too many veggies?  Have no sense of scale?  (sometimes!) Serve the extra veggies you don't use with it, that way, your skeleton can remain a skeleton longer. :-)

And, if you need more scary-Hallowen-food-inspo, check this link out too.

Cheers & Happy Halloween,
S

Monday, October 17, 2016

Missing Cape Cod

Earlier this month I got visit Cape Cod for the first time. My husband lived in Orleans for about a year in his early 20's & I'm so glad he suggested it. We rented a car & drove up after three days in Boston (love that city too!) & had beautiful weather along with beautiful beaches, lighthouses, seafood - beautiful everything!

I will post more pics & details soon ('cause I don't want to forget such a great trip!) but for now, I really miss Cape Cod!




Can you tell?

We also celebrated five years of marriage on this trip - how did that happen so fast? 

We got married when I was on the cusp of turning 40 (late bloomers, unite!) & I wouldn't change a thing. Marriage has been such a wonderful journey & I promise, you enjoy things even more when you are older & wiser - good things are definitely sweeter.




Cheers,
S

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Listening is Loving

I love coincidences - references that pop up twice in one day, a song you've been thinking of that comes on the radio,  & themes or thoughts that circle around you so you can really soak them in & learn. They always make me feel like I'm on the right path & that I'm exactly where I need to be.

For instance, today, I heard two Stephen Hawking references. It's not everyday that happens so it makes me pay attention. It makes me stop for a minute & I don't think that's a bad thing. 

Last night my husband & I watched a really amazing film, Hector and the Search for Happiness. You can stream in on Netflix & I loved it. One of the happiness "lessons" Hector learns is that listening is loving; listening is love.  So true. It was my favorite line of the entire film (if you watch have tissues ready!). 

And on a drive to meet up with my Mom today, I listened to one of local NPR station's TED Radio Hour. It was called Extrasensory & one part of the show emphasized listening - Julian Treasure: How Can We All Listen Better? How to pay better attention to the sounds & world around us - especially other people. It turns out, we are not so great at listening to one another & it drove home again that listening is love. It's an act of generosity & one of honor. It's a gift. 

So I'm going to try & be better at listening. Get out of my own way (which is often what happens when we are "listening" - we are trying to think of our reply) & just listen. 

I've also been using the Headspace app for the past 10 days (meditating for 10 days in a row is huge for me!) & it too asks you to listen to the current sounds around you - pay attention, not judge them, but acknowledge them as a part of your space. And those sounds are gifts too - a ceiling fan whirling that keeps me cool, the AC running during a hot summer night, one of my dogs snoring, my husband turning the page of his book. All of the those things are riches beyond belief & if I don't listen for them, pay attention to them - they are lost. 

Listening is not only loving, it's an act of gratitude. 

Cheers,
S

ps. Did you know you can donate your voice? This was also a part of the show mentioned above (& one of the Stephen Hawking references - the other was The Simpsons :-); I am fascinated & want to register & see if I can maybe do it too - check out VocalID.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fun event coming to Atlanta!


I have nosy dogs... :-)

One of the first blogs I ever started following was Design*Sponge. Not even sure how I heard of it, but once I started reading I was hooked. In 2011, Grace Bonney (the blog's creator) released the book Design*Sponge at Home which I quickly snapped up & still love looking at from time to time.

Check out this shot of her once-upon-a-time NYC closet:



Wallpapered inside with an owl print! So creative & so stinkin' cute!

Her second book, In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs, will be released October 4th & she's currently on tour promoting it.  Even better, she, & some of the women featured in the book, will be in Atlanta on October 13th! If you are interested in going (I will be there along with my BF!) click here for more info. I'm super excited & it looks to be an amazing evening. 

For even more info & to check out the blog further, see here.

Cheers,
S

Amazon affiliate links above.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Home Fri: Vol. 9

I get dressed & ready each morning in a half-bathroom (& shower each night in our full-bath), so not a ton of space. Whenever I can hang items up it's a huge perk & keeps the room looking neater.  

Here's a pretty easy way to stow your flat iron.

Buy an inexpensive potholder (the cheaper & thinner the better because it will be easier to cut through) - like this one:



Then cut off the thumb section making the finger section as wide as you'd like - mine's a bit curved & tapered:




Turn it inside out & sew up the cut side (either by hand or machine). Then flip it back & it will look like this:



You can also cut the other side for a more uniform look & sew it up as well - but this method is a lot faster & it's easy just sewing up one side.

You can then place your warm flat iron inside after using & hang it up!




Viola - it now lives in harmony with my makeup! 

I also usually wrap the cord around the hook too - depending on what kind of morning I'm having (if the thing gets used at all!). There is a bit of room to put the cord into the holder as well, but I usually wait until I know it's cooled down. You could of course leave the pot holder as-is & it would also make a great flat iron holder, but I'm not crazy about the look of a pot holder in the bathroom. To me, this looks a little more streamlined & it was fun to make. 

And for more ideas similar to this, check Pinterest - there are some really cute ones!

Cheers,
S


Friday, September 9, 2016

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!


I lost my grandfather 16 years ago & he would have been 97 today. 

I am so grateful that I got to know him for 28 years. Twenty-eight years is a gift with anyone you love. And again, I'm so grateful that he was a huge part of & influence on my life. I miss him a lot & always will. And it's funny how & when loss hits you - sometimes it comes at you at the oddest moments, but I am happy for my memories.

He was kind & loving to me - kind to me even when it might not have been so easy to be kind to me (or even understand me), was slow to anger (so if he did, you knew he meant business), had a great sense of humor, was smart, & could fix anything - seriously, he was an excellent mechanic & could make magic happen. I don't have one negative thought or memory of him. Was he perfect? Of course not, but when I was kid, he really was.

And that's exactly how a grandfather should be: kind, funny, a fixer of all things broken, reliable, forgiving, & there. He was special in all the best possible ways.

Oh, & the man was handsome & had style too:





He loved cars.

A few of my faves with my grandmother:



And one with me! :-)



It's a pic of a pic unfortunately, but I love it & him. Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Cheers,
S

ps. last year on his birthday I was driving to work & noticed these cutouts on a construction site fence/barrier. They looked like hearts to me (pretty sure that was not the original intention, but who knows? :-) - I thought it was beautiful. I'll take whatever signs of love & loved ones I can get!



 

Home Fri: Vol. 8

Phew...it's been awhile since I've done a "Home Fri" (Home Fridays) - which bums me out because I love playing around with DIY crafts & making messes!  Such is a busy life, but here's a really inexpensive one that I hope you'll like.

Last month I hit up a Dollar Tree store for the 1st time in ages. I found these cute nautical-looking buckets & decided to use them as outdoor planters. If you haven't noticed, planters can be really pricey! Why!?!



Not bad for $1 a piece, right? They are also 2.5 gallons, so they can hold a decent-sized plant.

My husband then drilled some holes into the bottoms for drainage:



Another fascinating view: :-)



The drilled holes are totally optional. You could also use rocks or broken terracotta pots on the inside for drainage.

I then filled one of them up with another Dollar Store find (which I could not find on their website) - these spinning-wind-flower-pinwheels:



Talk about low maintenance flowers! :-) They would also look great with decorative rocks on top, but I don't have any right now.  I put them on the little, far backyard table that I painted back in June:





Better, more colorful view out to the yard:



And, they will last all seasons. Or, until they fade or the demon-squirrels in my yard drag them away (highly possible, ya'll!).  I also found these on the Dollar Tree website (I have no affiliation with Dollar Tree - just like cheap stuff sometimes!) - how cute would they be to put into the buckets for Halloween?  The possibility to change out these buckets/planters each season or holiday are endless (& inexpensive!).  

I might actually put real plants or flowers into them next spring/summer too. :-)

Cheers,
S

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Make this: Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Again, cleaning out the saved blog posts (I do love you, Feedly) and came across this post from 71 Toes.  It's not often you find a recipe that's easy to make, super quick, & healthy.  

Since I read this, we've made these dozens of times.  The ingredients are super easy to find too.  If you are a paleo-type or Whole30-er person, you can use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. I usually use a gluten-free tamari. I like coconut aminos but my husband is not impressed with it/prefers soy sauce...so, tamari is our compromise & makes everyone happy.

I love these too because you can change them up to suit your tastes - ground chicken, steak, ground beef, chick peas or beans instead of meat, green onions, other veggies, nix the water chestnuts if you don't like, extra garlic, collard wraps instead of lettuce? Yes, please!

For this version (made last night) - we used ground turkey, onion, garlic, powdered ginger, fresh cauliflower rice (thank you, Trader Joe's!), & I couldn't find full-on broccoli slaw, so I bought a bag of stir fry mix that had some broccoli slaw in it, tamari, & a tiny bit of sesame oil - it turned out great.


Wrap them up in lettuce (Romaine used here) & some hot sauce if you are so inclined. :-)




Full of great veggies, only uses one pan, & we have leftovers for tonight!

Hope you enjoy & cheers,
S


Monday, September 5, 2016

Farewell summer/Watermelon love

If I had a dime for every watermelon I've cubed up this summer I'd be living pretty large!

Before these lovey sweet things say adios - enjoy them as much as you can.  My husband loves to eat watermelon with a spritz of lime - & I agree, it's delicious!  But, my favorite way is with salt. Always has been, always will be. Pretty much any salt will do, but over the past couple of years I've been loving this combo:


I was given a set of the Maldon Triple Gift Pack & never really knew how to best use the smoked salt.  But, eventually, it hit me it would be awesome with melon & it is! 

Think prosciutto with honeydew melon - it's a little like that delish combo. 

Really, give it a try. If you don't want to go through the hassle of ordering salt online (but, honestly, Maldon is so worth it) or finding it in a local shop, try some plain or kosher salt if you've never tried salted melon. 

Salt makes everything taste better.

It's probably possible to make a DIY version of smoked salt (Pinterest?) using liquid smoke which is available at most grocery stores - I've never tried it, but maybe I will when this box runs out. Salt can be flavored with almost anything so I am thinking maybe some salt with lime zest would be delicious with melon too. 

Do you have a favorite way to eat watermelon?

Cheers,
S

ps. smoked salt is great on popcorn too!

Affiliate link above.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Farewell summer/Hummingbird love

As much as I love fall & the cooler temps, I miss the hummingbirds when they head south. They are still active in our backyard & every spring/summer we are on constant lookout.  This evening I caught a few snapshots (which then Google/my phone kindly turned into gifs - love that!) - at one point there were four buzzing around me! Happy Labor Day weekend!




They are so amazing (can you tell I am a little obsessed?)!


I love this one's red band:


Cheers,
S

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pure Love: Caine's Arcade



This is an oldie (four years ago!?!) but so worth sharing - if you've already seen this video once-upon-a-time, you know! I've been cleaning out the million+ blog archives I have saved & came across this little nugget of happiness/inspiration. Seriously, this kid is adorable & I get teary-eyed every time I watch it.

Click here and enjoy!

Cheers,
S


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How to read (lots) for little


My one consistent hobby throughout life (or at least from the age I could do so) is reading.  I usually read at least two books per week (see my ongoing reading list here) & I also work really hard to do so without breaking the bank.  Here are a couple ways I keep my costs low:

Amazon Prime

It might seem odd to start here, as Prime costs $99 per year, but if you make frequent purchases via Amazon it might be worth it for you.  Along with 2-day free shipping, streaming music/movies/TV, & photo storage, you can also download one (sometimes two) free books a month.  Yes, not entirely free, but it's a nice perk & I've read a lot of great books that I may have never given a chance.

Your local library

This one should really be at the top of everyone's list.  If you don't already have a library card - grab one asap - especially if you have kids.  Libraries have numerous benefits beyond books (like movie rentals, passes to local attractions, classes, computer access - just to name a few) - you can also download e-books & rent audio books via the OverDrive app.  Don't know how or where to get a library card?  Click the "Your local library" link above to get started.

The Kindle app

The Kindle app is awesome as you don't even have to have a Kindle to use it.  You can download it to pretty much any device & read away.  If you don't have a Kindle, many models are super affordable (if you read lots, they can't be beat - especially if you like to travel with lots of books at the ready) & can also be bought used.  I have one of the earlier models & though it's a bit scratched up from lots of wear & tear, it works perfectly fine.




Why would you want to use the Kindle app or invest in a Kindle?

Most of the time e-books are a lot cheaper than hardback or paperback books (not always, but often).  E-books also free up clutter in your home, give you instant access to a bazillion titles, & sometimes e-books are offered for free for a limited time.  They also often go on sale.  Another perk? Reading a cheesy novel or a particular title you'd rather not broadcast to the world?  A Kindle gives you that privacy.  :-)

Paperback Swap

This is one of my favorite websites for paperback & hardback books.  You list 10 books you are willing to swap & in return you'll get credits for books you'd like to read.   For the cost of Media Mail, you'll have a pretty good flow of books coming in & out of your life.  If a title is super-popular/current, it may take awhile to get to you, but it's fun getting an email that one of your wishes has been granted.  You can also track books to see where they've been around the world & even keep a book if it means that much to you (ideally, though, you'd swap it out again).  This is another great way to keep your bookshelves from overflowing/reduce clutter.
Free Little Library

This is kinda the local version of the Paperback Swap website - & free!  Does your neighborhood have one?  If not, maybe you can start one?   Your community donates books they are willing to share (kids book too!) & anyone can stop by & pick up a title - love this.

Create a book exchange at work

I've worked at a couple places where co-workers would leave books in the break rooms or create groups to swap books.  A great way to read & share.

Crowdtap & other various survey sites

This one might sound odd, but I usually earn one $5 Amazon gift card per week via Crowdtap (your mileage may vary...).  No, I'll never get rich on that, but $20 towards Amazon purchases each month adds up.   Many other survey sites offer payouts in Amazon gift cards.  For the time & cost of answering surveys, trying/reviewing products, etc. while I watch TV, these gift cards are worth it to me.  Free or reduced-priced books are always worth it to me.

Ebay & half.com

Both sites offer used books for sale (of course, Amazon too).  There are lots of used bookstores online & some physical ones still exist out there too.  Buying books used will always save money. Also, you can sell your unwanted books on these sites.

Here's a great link on other ways to get audio books for free. Do you have favorite ways to read for less?

Happy reading & cheers,
S

ps. some affiliate links above