August 25, 2014

re•cipe: greek layer dip

The best incentive for a clean house is guests, so we decided to have our housewarming party this weekend way before we were ready to at least get the place looking presentable.

Our new digs are in a Greek neighborhood, so we decided to go Greek in our edible offerings- Greek pastries, Greek booze (ouzo-ginger lemonade, anyone?) and Mediterranean appetizers including one I was more than happy to steal from another friend. She makes this delicious Greek dip at every event she hosts and I just want to devour the entire dish! I know I'm not crazy because people proceeded to ask me for the recipe all weekend long. So, from her to me (with tiny tweaks) to you, here is the star of our weekend (sorry, I took very few photos but you can get  a peek of the dip jut behind the big white bowl):

Greek Layer Dip

(this size batch fits in an 8-9" square pyrex dish)
Bottom layer: blend two blocks cream cheese with juice of 1 lemon and 1 tbsp. Mediterranean seasoning
Middle layer: Spread hummus (plain and/or garlic) on top of cream cheese layer
Remaining layers: Crumbled feta cheese, diced cucumbers, diced tomatoes

Chill until ready to serve (recommended to let flavors set) and serve with pita chips!

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August 15, 2014

summer days drifting away [TWO Giveaways - CASH & AD SPACE]

It's that time again! Now that the house insanity has settled down, I'm back in the game of free promotionFour bloggers will win ad space for September - a 250x250 sidebar button with social media love including a sponsors-only group Pinterest board to promote any and all of your content! Put your name in the hat to win here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

               Bekah           -          Aleshea          -      Katie       -         Heather      -             Holly

We felt there was no better way to enjoy summer than by sharing cash in a super easy fashion, so, one last time, here's an insanely easy giveaway for some moolah wired straight to your PayPal Account for whatever your little heart desires. Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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August 11, 2014

Essential Oil Love


One of a gazillion reasons I consider myself “crunchy” is my sensitivity to synthetic fragrance. Back in high school, I could slap on all sorts of products from Bath and Body Works and the like (though even then I had some certain aversions) with no consequence. As I went through the college, the number of scents I could use without repercussion were on the decline. The headaches and nausea I experienced certainly weren’t worth a nice smelling lotion.

By the time I got married, I couldn't use any signature collection scents from B&B Works (just the aromatherapy line which I also can no longer use), and candles? I had two go-to scents from Yankee Candle. I couldn't tolerate anything else! Even worse was the fact that Sean was able to accurately screen scents for me. He would smell things first and know which ones not to let me even try. Even so, when I was craving a nice new scent, I would generally leave a store frustrated with a huge headache.

Many of you know that Arbonne was a huge catalyst for my cleaner lifestyle. One thing I noticed when I started using the products was that they all smelled nice…and not a single one of those nice smells bothered me. That’s when I first realized I had fragrance options other than synthetic – I could enjoy scents again! 

lavender essential oil + massage oil = WIN!

As a lover of aromatherapy, I started playing around with essential oils. I can safely say I’m riding that bandwagon these days.  Aside from smelling amazing, they all have so many uses. Often times, I just mix them in my Arbonne (unscented would work fine too) lotion or massage oil to enjoy the scent, but there’s so much else I can do. Here are some favorites:

  • ·         Allergy relief: Oh, the allergies. I like to mix a few drops of lemon, lavender, and peppermint oils into lotion or coconut oil and rub into my feet before bed. Sometimes I will also rub a very small amount around the sinus area as well for additional relief. Smells great and eases the symptoms. I learned about this trick here.
  • ·         Extra dreamy linens: You can make a linen spray easily by following a formula like this one. I like lavender since it promotes relaxation. It’s such a nice light scent on my pillow at night!
  • ·         Laundry that smells good without making me sick: I actually do still use many of the products I review. Last year, I was given Woolzies dryer balls to use in place of dryer sheets. Since I use DIY or unscented laundry products, the Woolzies combined with EO (again, lavender is a favorite of mine here) allow for a light, non-toxic fragrance in our clothes. Simply place a few drops on a ball or two when the clothes are dry and run the dryer on an air (unheated!) cycle for a few minutes. Easy!

Notice what those uses all had in common? Lavender oil! While I use a few different oils and constantly try to expand my uses and the types I use, lavender is an easy and familiar friend that even EO virgins can use easily.

When  Elite Gold Solutions offered me the opportunity to give their lavender EO a try (the best selling lavender EO on Amazon), I was ecstatic! The bottle they sent me was a full ounce which will last me forever (a lot of the bottles you see in stores are usually half that size and still last a long time).

Their oil turned out to be the only one I had access to for the first couple weeks after our move - my other oils had ended up packed in a box in a low-priority room. So, the Elite Gold EO and I had plenty of time to get acquainted. My feet have been super achy lately, so one night before bed I mixed it with massage oil (the only other thing I had on hand yet) and rubbed it into my feet. When Sean came in later to go to bed, his first question was "What did you put on?" He loved how good it smelled! I have to agree. It smells a lot stronger if you smell the bottle, but that is simply because there is much more oil to smell. Once used properly, it smells and acts just as good as I expect an essential oil to. 

I am more than happy with this EO and plan to use every drop! As I use up my other oils, I may have to also look into the other varieties offered by Elite Gold.

Are you a fan of Essential Oils? What is your favorite type and use?
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I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

August 7, 2014

top 10: room essentials with Kleenex

Full disclosure: this article is financially supported by Kleenex + Walmart

I remember the excitement of going to live on campus for the first time and all the things I'd need to style and transform a tiny dorm space into my home. These days, I'm transforming a much bigger space, but it's fun to compare my top 10 necessities form then and now:

Then: Dorm Room Style

  1. Cute, colorful bedding in twin XL. Sheets must be super soft.
  2. Cute, colorful towels to match bedding. Must be super soft.
my towels in college were this color!

  1. Fast laptop
  2. iPod dock
  3. Clorox Wipes
  4. A shower head with the as much force as a fire hose.
  5. The essential medicine cabinet stock - allergy tablets and pain relief
  6. Whatever dishes I could afford
  7. A stash of tea and sugar
  8. Paper goods - TP, paper towels, and Kleenex. Must be super soft.

I must have been an old soul, even then. Most of the list remains the same with a few minor tweaks:

Now: First House Style

  1. Cute bedding in queen. Sheets must be super soft.
  2. Matching towels. Must be super soft.
  3. Fast internet for all tech in house
  4. Baking soda and vinegar for all sorts of cleaning fun
  5. More natural cleaning supplies, soaps, detergents for everything else!
  6. A shower head with the as much force as a fire hose.
  7. The essential medicine cabinet stock - allergy tablets and pain relief - plus essential oils and vitamins/minerals to avoid usingother meds.
  8. Matching dishes
  9. A stash of tea and organic sugar
  10. Paper goods - TP, paper towels, and Kleenex. Must be super soft.
Some things never change. While my budget has improved slightly since college, it's still important that I not waste money which is why Walmart is always a great place to shop for the essentials- especially the Kleenex Expressions Tissue.

And while it's no secret that I wish chevron would die, I know most of you bloggers are still all over the chevron and thus I will let you know that four colors of Chevron designs to go with your style are a limited Back to School edition with  Walmart in a  64 ct oval box. Whether you're decorating your dorm or just continuing the chevron craze, you're welcome.

no dorm bathroom is complete without Kleenex!

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August 6, 2014

house meets pinterest: master bath

Oh, Pinterest, what did we ever do without you?

Long before buying a home was ever in the picture, I'd started a few boards dedicated to ideas I liked for our future home. Those few years of pinning here and there have now come in handy as we try to make this house home and deal with the dilemma that is storage in the city.

I must say, we're quite fortunate. We are only the third owners of our house (built in 1920), thus it is a miracle that things are updated as much as they are. We have recess lighting, and updated kitchen, and plenty of amenties including a couple closets that aren't original while still keeping the home's historic integrity (the brick wall and wood floors, anyone?).

Oh, but the last owner who was awesome enough to have done those updates? He was a man. How do I know? Besides the obvious fact that he sold us the house, there's the matter of the bathrooms. Only a man could tolerate such bathrooms. No counters, no cabinet space, just the minimal basics. Ugh.

Sean and I had agreed that this room would be the one that we shell the big bucks out for later to refurbish. The room is kind of weird and there's nothing I want more than a soaking tub. At least that's what I thought at the time. Things have changed.

I want storage!

Look to the left of the picure and you see an empty space at the end of the tub. We've been in the house three weeks now and there are still fully packed moving boxes in that space. I wash my face, do my makeup, and put it all back in the box. Eww. We need a solution.

Back to Pinterest. And the dismay of finding that all those pins I once thought so clever did me no good as they were for bathrooms with counters and cabinets. Except one:


Thank God. The blogger this pin came from still had the post up which told me exactly where those little gems came from, so off to IKEA we went in search for the BEKVÄM spice rack to-be-turned bathroom storage. Two and a half hours after entering, we emerged victorious with my $15 worth of newfound sanity.

A coat of paint, a few screws and mason jars later and I finally had some space. What do you think?
(by the way, we didn't paint the bathroom as we plan on the aforementioned overhaul. Don't judge us on the walls)

Four wide mouth mason jars - not bad for a little spice rack!

The Arbonne shelf - in case anyone doubted how much I love the stuff!

It's  a start!

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