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Best of Expo West

12 Apr

Last month the best natural and organic companies convened in Orange County for Expo West, where they showcased their newest products and old favorites. I love going to this show because I always find great new things! Here are my favorites from this year.

Cracked Nut Butter

This stuff is amazing. Nut butters with decadent dessert flavors that you can eat on a cracker, on a spoon, with ice cream, or baked into a fancy dessert. How good are the flavors? How about brownie batter, cinnamon roll, and cookie dough? So delicious. I mean, plain old peanut butter sandwiches seem kind of boring now.

Homemade Harvey

You know those fruit pouches they make for kids? I’m always stealing them from my nephew because they are yummy. Plus, it’s just a really convenient and non-sticky way to eat fruit on the go. But they are pretty small. So Homemade Harvey has a solution – fruit and veggie pouches for grownups. They’re bigger, and you won’t have to feel bad about stealing them from a child. My favorite flavor is banana strawberry kiwi.

Karma Nuts

I loooove cashews but I feel guilty if I eat too many because they tend to be pretty high in fat. Turns out that’s because of the way they’re cooked. Karma Nuts has “wrapped cashews” that are air roasted and the skins are left on to make them healthier and packed with nut-trition. (See what I did there?) They taste amazing, and they’re good for me. That’s a snacking win.

Vital Proteins

Vital Proteins has a marine collagen powder that I’m in love with. Not only is it a protein powder, but it promotes anti-aging and healthy skin, hair, and nails. But that’s not the best part. The best part is that it’s soluble in hot or cold liquid, and it has NO FLAVOR. This means you can mix it into your coffee! I love a protein powder that can go into my coffee so I don’t have to make a separate drink in the morning.

Moonshine Sweet Tea

I’m Southern, and that means I’m particular about my sweet tea. Especially the ready to drink stuff from a bottle. It’s usually overly sweet with too much artificial flavor. But not Moonshine Sweet Tea. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s all non-alcoholic. I didn’t try all of the flavors, but the original and the mint & honey are both amazing. The peach is also good, and I’m sure the others are great too. Except unsweet. I will never understand why a person would want iced tea unsweet.

So those are my new favorite products – I can’t wait to see what I find next year at Expo West!

Unstuff Yourself – Your House, Your Life

6 Apr

This post is written as part of the Unstuffed Blog Tour, which I am excited to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers. To learn more about the blog tour and join us, click HERE.

As you may have guessed if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, I love to organize. I love being organized, and when things are cluttered I get stressed. So I like to think that I have a pretty good handle on handling my junk. But even so, I found so much great information in Ruth Soukup’s new book, Unstuffed. This is what my review copy looked like when I was finished:

So yeah, I had some takeaways. Here’s one of my favorite nuggets about getting rid of stuff once and for all:

See, I’m really good at deciding to get rid of things. I’m less good at actually getting rid of them. I have a linen closet FILLED with things to get rid of. I’m saving them for some mythical yard sale that may or may not ever happen, because evidently getting twenty-five cents for my old glassware is more important than actually utilizing my closet.

Here are some other tips I picked up that I’ve already started implementing. I can’t believe how much of a difference these little things really make!

1) Make your bed. Every morning. As soon as you get up.

2) Be ruthlessly realistic about what you use and need.

3) Go for quality over quantity.

4) Organize your computer desktop. Ruth suggests using this image to keep things tidy, and I love it!

5) Learn to say no.

There are so many amazing tips and insights in Unstuffed and I know there will be things that really resonate with you.

You can also sign up for the FREE Unstuffed 10 Day Challenge to get started on your home! I did this one, and it was great. Each day’s task was brief enough that I was able to get it done quickly, but effective enough to make real progress.

If you get the book, you’ll also get Ruth’s full weekend challenge, if you can hack it. 😉

And finally, this book is about more than cleaning out your closets, it’s about cleaning out your life. One of my biggest pet peeves is the glorification of busy. Because busy doesn’t mean worthwhile or productive, it just means busy. And it probably means your schedule is full of clutter that can be unstuffed.

Declutter your home, mind and soul once and for all in Ruth Soukup’s life-changing new book, Unstuffed. Through personal stories and practical action plans, she will inspire you to finally clear the STUFF that is weighing you down—once and for all.

Monday Must-Haves

7 Mar

I wanted to do a quick roundup of a few things I’m currently obsessed with. Because I know you’re all dying to know what kind of cookies I’ve been eating.

Milano Melts

So let’s just jump right in to the cookies, eh? I don’t know what made me pick these up when I was in Target over the weekend, but I’m glad I did. I’m not a huge Milano fan, and I can’t remember the last time I kept cookies in the house, but these are out of this world amazing. Seriously. The cookie is light and crispy, there’s just a touch of dark chocolate, and then the perfect amount of Boston creme. Boston Creme Milanos. Get some and thank me later.

Kindle Unlimited

It’s like Netflix for books! Right now you can get a free trial of Kindle Unlimited, but make sure you cancel before the month is up or you’ll be charged the regular $9.99 monthly fee. They have a TON of books – over a million – so it’s like having the library at home. Yay books!

Everybody Loves Raymond

I had forgotten how funny this show really was. I have the full series on DVD and I’ve been watching them in the living room because I don’t have that TV hooked up to cable (long story). I usually like to watch Hoarders while I clean up and putz around the house, you know, for motivation, but I must say that Everybody Loves Raymond is much funnier.

Joy Mangano’s Pillow

I am not exaggerating when I say that this Memory Cloud Reader Pillow is the best and most comfortable thing I have ever put my head on. (And that includes some pretty hunky shoulders, ba dum cha.) The seam in the middle of the pillow makes it perfect for propping up in bed to read or watch TV and makes it adjustable depending on how much you want to sit up or slouch down. Teddy has clearly claimed this one, because everything nice is for Bear, so it’s a good thing I bought two. 😉 My next purchase will be the Joy Mangano bed pillows. I swear, that woman is a saint.

Painted Mason Jar Centerpiece for St. Patrick’s Day

2 Mar

Happy almost St. Patrick’s Day! Being Irish I feel like it’s my duty to at least have a little bit of decoration in my house for the holiday. So this year I created a painted mason jar centerpiece!

I kept things pretty simple. I started with a white and gold polka dot napkin. I like to have my centerpieces on a square or runner or charger or something to anchor them so it doesn’t look like they’re just floating around on the table. Maybe I’m just weird. But the napkin was a perfect match for the tissue paper I used in my mason jar vase, so that worked out nicely.

I used rainbow flowers in a green painted mason jar, and smaller black painted mason jars with gold gift bag filler to represent pots of gold.

The flowers are, unquestionably, the tackiest thing I have ever bought at a craft store. But somehow they just feel right for this project. I needed to work in a rainbow!

I also tried my hand at creating a painted mason jar for the first time. I did it by squirting a big blob of craft paint inside each of the jars, then putting the lid back on and shaking it around until the inside was fully coated. Then I placed them all upside down on a piece of cardboard, and rested them on two bamboo skewers so that the excess paint could drip out.

This worked really well for the little black jars. I love how painting the inside makes them look so glossy! However, even at my most successful, these babies took FIVE DAYS to fully dry. I may have used too much paint. I think they make adorable little pots of gold, and they may make another appearance as cauldrons for Halloween!

I thought about filling them with chocolate coins or Rolos, but let’s be real, that means I would eat all of the chocolate coins or Rolos. So for the sake of my jeans, I went with this shimmery gold gift bag filler that I had leftover from Christmas. Bathing suit season thanks me.

The bigger green jar didn’t work as well. I think maybe because it was so big? I don’t know, but the paint ended up all streaked and splotchy inside. No matter how I turned the jar it just slid down the glass. It looks okay in pictures, and once I had the tissue paper and flowers in it I didn’t notice the issues as much, but it’s still streaky and it doesn’t have such great coverage. If it didn’t take so dang long to dry I would have tried adding another coat.

Overall I’m happy with my cheerful little St. Patrick’s Day centerpiece. This was my first experiment with painting glass, but I really love the result on the little jars. I don’t think this will be my last painted mason jar centerpiece!

Bookcase Upgrade – Plain Jane to Silver Glam

24 Feb

You know how sometimes you need a piece of furniture to just be utilitarian? Like, I just need some pieces of wood that will hold things for me. Well I needed a bookcase. It was going in my office and since that room is kind of a hot mess right now, I didn’t want to invest in a big and/or fancy piece that might not end up working once I figure out this room.

So I got a plain Jane utilitarian bookcase, but then I couldn’t leave well enough alone. So I did a bookcase upgrade.

For my bookcase upgrade, I started with an $18 plain white bookcase from Target. Assemble that, then assemble your materials. Then, if you have any time left, go ahead and assemble the Avengers.

I used some 1/2″ trim molding from Michaels with a pretty decorative design. You can get cheaper molding at a hardware store, but I couldn’t find any there that was thin enough for my shelves.

First I cut the molding down to size using a hacksaw. Then I primed it in oyster white (because I thought I had pure white paint but it turns out I didn’t, and I didn’t feel like going back to the store). Once that was fully dry, I brushed on a coat of Martha Stewart Sterling Silver Metallic. It’s important to prime before using this paint because it doesn’t give you full coverage, it’s more of a sheer cover.

Then came the fun part – I got to use a caulk gun! Any time I get to use fun tools, it’s a good day. I laid down the bookcase and used Liquid Nails to attach my molding.

The molding wasn’t perfectly flat, some of the wood was a little warped and lifting up off of the shelves. So I used blue painter’s tape to secure the spots that were lifting up, then let it dry overnight.

The next day I carefully removed the tape and stood it back up. I love the results! And one of the best parts is that because of the way it’s assembled, I didn’t have to miter any corners. Oh yeah. It’s a very subtle improvement, but I really love the extra little bit of detail. I think it looks like at least $50 now. 😉

I packed it with books, and that bookcase upgrade is complete! (And yes, that is a picture of me with Kaley Cuoco in that frame. You know how I roll.)