Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nail Polish Dupe!

I actually happened upon this Essie nail polish dupe by complete accident.  I had a $1 off Rimmel nail polish coupon and decided to use it when I was at Wal-mart.  I saw that they had some Rimmel nail polishes for $1.50.  Say Whaaaaaaa?! That's right folks, only $0.50 for a nail polish (after coupon)!

I snagged a pretty lavender color and thought nothing of it until I got home and added it to my nail polish drawer.  I noticed right away that it looked exactly like another nail polish I already had and an Essie one at that!

Color wise they are pretty darn close and they're even closer once they were actually on my nails.  I did notice a couple of differences though.  The Essie brush made it easier to apply and the Rimmel formula seemed a bit thicker, but both lasted on my nails the same amount of time without chipping (around 5 days).

What about you? Have you ever bought an item only to get home and realize you had something similar already? Please tell me I'm not the only one!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Raise a Giant {and a Giveaway!}

Bullying. It's something we are all familiar with. It's something I'm sure at one point or another we have all been exposed to. 

I'll be completely honest and share that I for one hated High School.  I hated it with a passion.  Growing up a military brat I moved a lot, usually every 4 years.  So changing schools and having to make new friends was never an issue for me until High School. 

You see I attended three different High Schools.  Three very different High Schools.  But the one thing that these schools had in common were bullies.  Whether it was the guy that was bigger than everyone else or the "mean girls" each of those schools had them. During my 2 years at one particular High School the only thing I ever looked forward to was graduating!  To this day I am so thankful that the Internet and social media wasn't around.  I can not even imagine how students today cope with that.  Which is why I believe now, more than ever the children of today need our help.

It's time we as parents take a stand and do what is right for our children.

Just because we physically can't be there every second of the day (especially for our school aged children) we still have a responsibility to let our children know we are emotionally there for them no matter what.  I believe it's imperative that we let them know we are here to help.

That's why I am so honored to be taking part in the Raise a Giant campaign.  Green Giant is encouraging parents to write letters to their children on bullying, the effects it can have, and what to do to stop it.  To find out more about their Raise a Giant Campaign be sure to visit their website.  There you can write your own letter (to your children, nieces, nephews, etc) as well as read the encouraging words left by others.

Here is the letter I've written to my own children:

Dear Kyle and Kaylee,

I want to start by letting you know how much I love and care about you.  You two are incredibly smart, kind, beautiful, and generous children and I am truly blessed to be your mother.  I am so proud of everything you have already learned and accomplished in your young lives. As much as I may not want to admit it I know you are getting older.  I know you are becoming young adults.  This time in your lives can be very exciting but for some it can also be scary.  Some children aren't as nice as you. Some children are mean and pick on others who have done nothing wrong.  These kids are bullies and they are not cool. They are no better than you or me.  Bullies do not possess any special powers so don't for one second fear these kids.  No matter how big or scary they try to portray themselves.  If you see someone getting bullied you must say something.  Say something to a teacher, a bus driver, a principal, a parent.  Say something to your classmates or your friends and if you have enough courage say something to the bully.  Tell someone, anyone, about what is going on.  Tell them it's wrong and that it needs to stop.  Stand up and defend those that can't defend themselves. Then, be kind to the child that was being picked on.  Smile at them.  Give them a wave.  Say hello.  No one, absolutely no one, has the right to make another person feel bad about themselves. Please know you will never get in trouble for doing what is right. I hope that you will always lead by example and I trust that you will have the courage to stop someone from being bullied.  Whether it's at school or online I trust that you will do what is right when you see that someone is being mistreated.  I trust in you, my amazing children, and I always will!


In order to encourage you to write your very own letter I have a fun giveaway planned! The amazing folks from Green Giant and General Mills are offering a $25 gift card to one very lucky reader.  Want to know how to get involved and possibly win a prize? Well look no further...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This is a sponsored post for My Blog Spark and Green Giant.  It's purpose is to raise awareness about bullying.  However, all thoughts and feeling expressed in this post are 100% my own.  A $25 donation to Pacer's Center for Bully Prevention was made in my name in return for my completed blog post.*

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thrifty Cooking Tips

I have some unexpected (but totally in a good way) tricks to help make cooking easier and I can't wait to share them with you.  Some of these have been in my family for years while other tips I've learned only recently. There are so many ways to use ordinary items from our fridge and cabinets to help make preparing meals (and cleaning up after them) easier. I think you'd be surprised.  So let's get to it!

1.    To prevent grease splatters just add a few dashes of salt to your pan before beginning to fry foods that can splatter.  You'll be able to cook without pain and you won't have to clean off all that grease from your cooktop.

2.    Want to know a secret to making fluffier omelets?  For every 3 eggs used just add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.  It works like magic!

3.    To keep a pot from boiling over there are 2 easy tricks you can use.  The first is to stick a toothpick, laid flat, between the lid and the pot.  The little space will allow steam to escape thus preventing the pot from boiling over.  You can also use a wooden spoon, laid straight across the pot.  I use this simple trick all the time and it really does work!

4.    Don't want to lay that wooden spoon on the counter after you've been cooking with it? No problem! You know those holes in the handles to your pots and pans? Just stick your wooden spoon in there.  Now there's no need to worry about cleaning extra food or spills off the counters.

5.    Need to soften hardened brown sugar? Chip off a piece of the brown sugar and wrap it up in aluminum foil.  Then bake it in the oven at 300 degrees for 5 minutes.

6.    Want to know the neatest trick when it comes to dusting your cake pans or muffin cups?  Put flour into a large salt shaker and sprinkle away.  Then just keep it in your pantry until you need to use it again! I think kids would really get a kick out of this.

7.    To help keep rice from sticking together add a spoonful of lemon juice to the boiling water while cooking.  When the rice is done just let it cool for a few minutes and fluff with a fork before serving.  Easy as rice pie.

8.    There's a faster (and easier) way to clean that cheesy cheese grater.  Just use an old tooth brush! It works like a charm and you don't have to worry about tearing up a wash cloth or sponge.

9.   To get stubborn burnt-on stains off enamel pans soak the pan overnight in saltwater.  The next day just boil the saltwater in the pan, the stains should lift right off.

Last but not least...

10.    To keep your cookbook (or one you're borrowing) from getting splattered cover the book with plastic wrap. You'll be able to read the directions and keep the book clean at the same time! Pretty nifty eh?

There you have it, ten tips that will hopefully make cooking and cleaning a little easier!  Have any other tips you'd like to add?  Feel free!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Thrifty and Fabulous Accessories Giveaway

Wow, has it really been 2 months since I did a Thrifty and Fabulous Accessories Giveaway?! Well, I'd have to say it's about time to have another one! Sound like a plan?

So what's up for grabs?  How about $25 store credit! That's right, one lucky winner gets to spend $25 in the Thrifty and Fabulous Accessories shop any way they'd like!  Here's just a few lovely items available in the shop...


Well let's get on to the fun part shall we?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

No Hair Dryer, No Problem

Lately I've been on this quest to get my hair in healthier, shinier shape.  My hair is naturally dry so when I get it highlighted every 8 weeks, use blow dryers and straightening irons on it every day, well I'm certainly not doing my hair any favors. It was not only dry but it was starting to become brittle.  So I asked myself, what is one thing I could give up in order to give my hair a break?

The answer?  I decided to give up my hair dryer!

I started out by washing my hair every other day (I used dry shampoo on the days I didn't wash it) and then let my hair completely air dry.  I won't lie, I was not looking forward to styling my hair after it had air dried.  I loved the volume I would get from a blow dryer and I had a feeling I was going to be stuck with flat, lifeless, limp hair.

Here's how my hair would normally look after I blow dried it and straightened the ends.

The first time I styled my hair after it had air dried it was a little flat but not nearly as flat as I had thought it would be.  That's when I knew I could totally go a week without using my hair dryer.   By Day Five I could tell my hair was healthier and my volume was coming back thanks to a new shampoo and conditioner. 

Well one week went by and before I knew it I had gone two whole weeks without using my hairdryer!  Now I know to some ladies this challenge might seem silly but I'm telling you I was addicted to my hair dryer. I was using that sucker every single day (or damn near). So to go two whole weeks without it was a pretty big deal.   

I snapped a quick selfie around day 10 and looking at it now my hair looks the same (volume wise) as when I used the hair dryer.  It wasn't flat at all! And it even looked shinier!

Now it's been about a month since I originally started the get healthier hair challenge and I've used my hair dryer a total of 3 times.  On those 3 days I ended up having my hair air dry about 3 quarters of the way and then I did a quick blast, set on cool, directed at my roots. Oh, and I only used the hair dryer on days when I was really rushed. But 3 times in one month isn't all that bad, at least to me it isn't.

What about you? Have you done anything crazy for the sake of your hair lately?  Are you addicted to you hair dryer?  Please tell me I'm not the only one!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Little Kitchen Update

If you read this post from August then you'll remember when I mentioned how badly I wanted to add some knobs and/or handles to our kitchen cabinets.  We actually installed the drawer handles over a year ago but never got around to adding any other hardware. 

Until now folks! I found the perfect brushed nickel knobs at Lowe's for around $1.47 a piece.  We needed 21 and since Lowe's offers a 10% military discount I got all the knobs for under $30.  Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

Installing the knobs was easy as pie.  My husband and I were able to install all 21 knobs in under half an hour.  I measured and drew the dots where we wanted the knobs to go and he drilled the holes.  I cleaned up the sawdust left behind from the drill and he screwed in the knobs.  We actually worked pretty well on this project. I know, even I was surprised.

So ready to see how our kitchen is looking now?

I got to admit I love how they look! I know the knobs on the upper cabinets are a little lower than normal and I'll take full blame for that.  BUT considering I'm super duper short (I'm barely 5'2) their placement on the cabinets actually work out great for me (and my kiddies).

I think when it comes to kitchen updates we're pretty much caught up.  Eventually I would like to add a tile backsplash and I'm debating on removing the vinyl decal (seen in the pic above) but nothing is set in stone.  For now I'm just loving the updates we've already done.  The new faucet and hardware help personalize this room so much, it actually makes me want to get in there and cook!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Curried Quinoa {Gluten Free}

I have a delicious gluten free recipe to share with you all today! I got this recipe from a Clean Eating magazine several years ago (I'm thinking back in 2009) and ever since it's been my favorite go to recipe whenever it comes to quinoa.

Gluten Free Curried Quinoa

1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tsp curry powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup quinoa
2 Green onions, chopped (optional)

Add stock, curry, cayenne, salt, and pepper to a medium size saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat (uncovered).  Add the quinoa, bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat. Finally, remove the lid and fluff quinoa with a fork. 

If you like, feel free to top with chopped green onions. Since I have a ton of green onions on hand (I recently harvested over 200 green onions from my garden) I decided to add some to this dish and boy is it YUMMY!

My daughter is also a huge fan of curried quinoa.  I actually had to double this recipe the last time I made it so there would be enough for everyone.  That little girl can eat an entire dish all by herself, easily!

Well folks, I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as we do.  Thanks so much for stopping by!  

Friday, October 4, 2013

Purdy Flower

A few weeks ago I found myself in the makeup department at Wal-mart.  My mission? To find some killer drug store makeup deals! Not only did I succeed in my mission but I discovered a new beauty brand that I'm absolutely obsessed with.  The brand? Flower by Drew Barrymore (which is exclusive to Wal-mart).  I had heard good things about her makeup from one of my favorite beauty gurus Essie Button but it's when I saw the line of nail polishes that I really fell in love. I wanted each and every nail color Flower made.  Since that wasn't possible I chose one and that one ladies was Good Bud-dy.

This stuff lasted an entire week without chipping! It's incredible to say the least.  Here's the link where you can view all the other available colors.  They are gorgeous and I'm fairly certain next time I'm in Wal-mart I'll be making my way back to the makeup department so I can pick up another nail polish.

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and the price is extremely reasonable (under $5).

Have you tried any products from the Flower line?  If so what did you think of it?  I've only tried the nail polish but I might have to pick up one of her lipsticks, or blushes....

Thursday, October 3, 2013

September Beauty Favorites

Wow, is it October already?  I swear September went by so fast! September has always been one of those odd transitional type months for me.  It's not really Summer and it's not exactly Fall.  It's weird.  One day it's warm enough to wear shorts and sandals and the next it's chilly enough for boots and scarves.  It's weird I tell you!  But enough about our can't-make-up-it's-mind-weather, here are some of the beauty products I happened upon last month that I am absolutely swooning over!

1.   L'Oreal Ever Creme Shampoo. I discovered this gem while watching one of my fave You Tuber's Essie Button.  She raved about this line of shampoo and conditioners so of course I had to give it a try. I decided to go with the Intense Nourishing line since my hair is extremely dry. Well I have to say, it's pretty amazing folks.  It not only smells incredible but it's sulfate and paraben free.  Love, love, love.

2.   L'Oreal Ever Creme Conditioner.  The conditioner smells just as good as the shampoo but it's not as rich as I would have liked.  Ir's great in that it doesn't weigh my hair down but I definitely have to add a leave in conditioner after I rinse this stuff out of my hair.  Overall I really like it.  I believe they make an Ever Creme deep conditioning mask, so I might have to give that a try.

3.  Too Faced Boudoir Eyes Soft and Sexy Eye Shadow Collection.  This is my 1st ever eye shadow palette (well higher end palette anyway).  OMG it's amazing! I have no idea why it took me so long to buy an eye shadow palette.  Ok, I'll admit it, it was the price tag that held me back.  But I'm telling you it's probably the best makeup investment I have ever made.  The colors in this palette are so soft and dreamy.  The eye shadows in this collection are very soft and neutral, not at all harsh. Plus the names of the eye shadows are kind of fun too (see pic below). I'm obsessed to say the least.

4.  Revlon Nearly Naked Pressed Powder.  This powder is one of my all time favorites.  It's light weight but it stays put all day, which is pretty incredible.  Since I never have to do any touch ups whenever I wear this powder I have a feeling this stuff will last me a while.

5.  Revlon Quick Dry Base Coat.  I haven't used a nail polish base coat in years! Until now.  This little baby extends my manicure by 3 days...easily! I've also noticed that my nails seem healthier and stronger since I've been using this.  Maybe it's a coincidence, maybe it's not but all I know is I'm happy I stumbled upon this little find.  I'm not super crazy about the smell but considering I love everything else about it I'd say it evens out.

6.  Almay Color+Care Liquid Lip Balm.  This stuff is a little tube of happiness (that's what she said)! It's lip balm and lip gloss in one.  It's not that sticky, glittery kind of lip gloss though. So no worries there. I got the shade Blooming Balm and it's the softest pink ever.  I carry this baby with me everywhere.  I have another color in this line but the Blooming Balm is by far my favorite.

7.  Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss.  This is another lip gloss I am loving! I got the shade Super Natural and it's exactly that, light and natural.  I like to wear this lip gloss whenever I go a little bit heavier with my eye makeup.  It gives my lips just the slightest bit of color without being too overwhelming.  It's perfect.

As you can tell from the pic above I've been using the heck out of that eye shadow palette! Aren't the names fun too?  The only name I'm not familiar with is Sugar Walls.  I'd google it but I'm afraid of what I might find. Or God forbid immediately after there's some freak accident, cops are involved, and everyone is made aware of the last thing I googled.  Hahaha.  So if anyone wants to elaborate on the meaning of Sugar Walls feel free!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Our Subtle Front Lawn Makeover

Want to know something super embarrassing?  Around early Spring our front lawn looked like this!

Hideous isn't it?  For the longest time we could not figure out why our grass kept dying. I attempted to lay some grass seed covered with compost (which usually did the trick whenever we had smaller patches of dead grass) but no matter how much I watered it nothing would happen.

I didn't want to throw a whole bunch of money away on sod because I had a feeling something was going on underneath the soil.  Sod would have only been a temporary fix (and an expensive one at that) but since we live in a neighborhood with HOA we knew we had to fix our lawn and fast.

Well long story short I eventually found the root of the problem (no pun intended).  It was grubs! Gross, disgusting, grubs.  So once we discovered what the problem was we headed up the road to Lowe's and bought some handy dandy grub remover.  It was one of those treatments that attaches to a hose and you just spray away. I can't remember which brand we used but it worked like a charm!

A few weeks later our grass seed finally took.  We were still dealing with some patchiness by the garage when it hit me! Why don't we extend the rock area?  Both my husband and I hated the tiny triangle space filled with rocks that's located right by our garage.  To this day we have no idea why our builders/landscapers designed it that way.

Now I should mention when I came up with this great idea it was in the middle of summer and our average temps were in the high 90's.  At the time my husband seemed pretty pumped about doing some DIY but I should have known that hot weather plus physical labor don't exactly make him a happy camper (which is why I don't have any during photos).  Lesson learned!   

Back to the project...First, we had to buy the metal edging (which is what we already had in our yard).  Lowe's didn't have any in stock so we had to drive a little further to Home Depot.  Luckily they had plenty of edging in stock so we grabbed 2 just to be safe. 

Our landscaping rocks took a while to find because Lowe's and Home Depot didn't sell our type of rock.  We were getting a bit discouraged when I remembered that we have a local rock shop just a few miles from our house.  Words could not describe how happy I was when we arrived at the rock shop and the first thing I saw was our landscaping rock! Not only because they carried it but because our builders had decided to go with a local business when they did our landscaping. Got to support those local businesses!

We loaded up both our vehicles with a couple hundred pounds of rock (which I think came to around $15) and we were good to go! Once we were home we got to digging.  After the edging was in place and the rocks were laid out I added more grass seed (as needed) and 2 weeks later our yard looked like this!

Much better don't you think?  I'm so glad we were able to tackle the grubs and get our grass to grow back.  Even though the rock portion of this project was a bit stressful, I absolutely love how it turned out. Definitely adds more curb appeal. 

Ready for the before and after?

So much better isn't it?! What about you all?  Have you tackled any yard projects lately?  Or dealt with yucky grubs? Do tell!

New and Improved

Well it's here! A new blog address AND a new layout.  Pretty fancy don't you think?

I don't know about you but I am absolutely loving the new look and it was all made possible thanks to the lovely ladies from Designer Blogs.  My goal for this blog was a calmer and cleaner look.  I definitely think Designer Blogs and their amazing team helped me achieve that.  I worked specifically with Lindsey and she was such a joy.  Anytime I had a question or concern she was there with a solution. Their customer service is truly impeccable.

If you haven't checked out their site already you got to add it to your must do list!  They have an array of affordable Blogger and Word Press blog templates and they also offer custom web designs.

This was the 3rd time I've worked with them. I love them that much!

I have some plans to tweak a couple of things in order to help make this blog easier to navigate but nothing major.  When it comes to codes I'm definitely learning as I go so who knows how long the process will actually take me.   

So what do you think of the new layout? I hope you love it as much as I do!
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