Thursday, May 21, 2015

Creating My Own Reading Corner Oasis with Renuzit Pearl Scents!

Disclaimer - I received sample Renuzit Pearl Scents and coupons to try as part of the Purex Insiders Program. All experiences and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the product I received.  #DesignYourAir


My house is full of toys, dolls, children's books and random things that my three kids have collected. A quick look in our living room shows off some photos on the walls but the rest, stuffed animals and strewn slippers is all distinctly kid.

This Spring I was ready to carve out a little corner for myself. The new Renuzit Pearl Scent Blue Sky Breeze was my inspiration. I am both a big fan of the scent and the light blue color.


Blue Sky Breeze is the perfect scent for relaxing with a good book and a cup of my favorite herbal tea. The Renuzit Pearl Scents both neutralize odor (did I mention that the kids leave their slippers and socks strewn about the living room?) and gives off a pleasant scent for up to 30 days.

I like that it doesn't require a plug-in (I need those for recharging my phone and Kindle, or to plug my speakers into) and also doesn't have an open flame or messy wax.

This is what my little corner looked like before. Nothing special here. I have a comfy chair, an end table and a stack of books to enjoy, but it was definitely missing something...


I headed to my local Marshall's to find some items that would reflect my personality and create a relaxing corner to enjoy when I have a spare moment.

I was really excited by what I found. I love fresh flowers from the garden, Don't flowers brighten a room? this big blue vase has a nice wide base so I won't worry about it tipping, but it goes well with my blue theme. Then I also found this cute framed page, "I Love You To The Moon & Back". I also snagged a comfy cushion to add a splash of color to my solid brown chair and a pretty tea cup and saucer just because.


In truth, making over an area of the home doesn't need to cost a lot of money. All these items were under $50 at Marshall's.


Once arranged on my end table, my items were simple, elegant and made me feel immediately relaxed.


After sprucing up my reading corner, all inspired by the cool blue, Blue Sky Breeze, Renuzit Pearl Scents, my corner is much more reading friendly. Now instead of just being a place I can do my reading, it is a place to enjoy my reading and even relax for a few minutes.


Just a simple change, but a fresh scent and a mini-makeover and this place feels more like "mine".

Renuzit Pearl Scents also come in:
  • Blue Sky Breeze
  • Serenity
  • Sparkling Rain
  • Tranquil
  • Seductive Pineapple



Coupon Giveaway - Leave a comment to be entered to win your own coupons for Renuzit Pearl Scents. Just answer the question below and tell me which scent you would use to makeover your room. Giveaway will end 5/30 at midnight PST. Winner will be contacted via email.

If you took the Renuzit Home Challenge, what part of your home would you change and which Renuzit Pearl Scents would you use for inspiration?


Andrea
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Rum Rocky Road Bunt Cake - #BundtBakers


You know, I don't think I have ever experienced Rocky Road outside of a pint of ice cream. It is a great flavor, packed with little surprises and a great way to reminisce about childhood with just a taste. I distinctly remember savoring the chocolate ice cream, packed with little marshmallows and crunchy peanuts. But it seems there are many variations on the idea of "Rocky Road" and variations as well as original are often the topic of debate.

Go ahead and google it. Everyone seems to have an opinion. 

But this week I am sharing a fun variation on rocky road with a Rum Rocky Road Bundt Cake. All the things I love about my childhood favorite, without the fear of it melting.


Yes, it is time for this month's Bundt Challange and Laura from Baking In Pajamas threw down the guantlet for a little Rocky Road Challenge for May in #BundtBakers. Big thank you to Laura for hosting this month! 


Well, I couldn't do a plain rocky road cake.. I wanted something slightly different. Something to take my childhood ice cream dreams into my grown up life. So there was rum. Or, I should rather say rum flavoring. 

It is just sad to pull every bottle out of the cupboard to only realize that there is no Bourbon and no Rum. ....I just wasn't feeling the Pineapple Rum for this recipe. I hope you understand. The Rum flavor actually goes nicely with the sweetness of the chocolate. It just gives it a little added dimension. 

The truth is Rocky Road can definitely contain fruit, usually dried, and cookies are common too. What I really wanted was that classic ice cream flavor of peanuts and marshmallows in a creamy chocolate ganache over a moist chocolate cake.

This ended up being the perfect "cake cake" to serve with a large glass of milk and enjoy with my youngest. He was the happiest little toddler ever to get the first slice of chocolate "cake cake" with Mama while his siblings were off at school.

Childhood definitely is better with a little Rocky Road...


Rum Rocky Road Bundt Cake

For the Chocolate Cake You Will Need:
  • 1 c. unsalted butter + more for greasing the pan
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder (we use Dutch processed)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp, baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. rum extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter your bundt pan and then coat lightly with dark cocoa powder. Knock out any excess and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, cocoa, salt and water. Let the butter melt and whisk the ingredients to combine. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Whisk together the flour, sugar and baking soda in a large bowl. Slowly stir in the wet mixture till combined (don't worry, it will be thick). Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then add in the Greek yogurt and rum extract. Whisk until smooth.

Pour the batter in the prepared bundt pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. To test if it is done, check by inserting a toothpick. It should come out clean. Let the cake cool for about 20 minutes, then invert onto a cake plate.

While the cake is cooling you can make the frosting.

For the Chocolate Frosting You Will Need:
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, unsalted
  • 4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 6 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. + powdered sugar to reach a thick, but pour-able consistency
  • 1/2 c. peanuts, roughly chopped
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and then whisk in the cocoa and milk till smooth. Add in the vanilla extract and then powdered sugar till the frosting is thick, but still pour-able. Stir in the peanuts and spoon over the inverted bundt cake.

Dot the top of your cake with marshmallows before the frosting sets up.



Enjoy! 


 
BundtBakers

#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page.

    Andrea
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek - #SRC2015

I received a complimentary book to help me write an honest review. I am participating in this year's BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge for the fun of it, reviews contain my own affiliate links for the books being read and discussed. #SRC2015


I am so excited to join in the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge again this year (#SRC2015 if you want to follow along). I have to say the line up of books (all 17) sound very exciting! Don't worry, there is still plenty of time to get involved and start reading along. Check out the Facebook Events page for more information on what books will be on the travel itinerary this season.

This year is being hosted by Jane Green and there are some great prizes you can win along the way... but, let's face it, good books and good company are their own rewards, right?


I am kicking off this reading challenge with a great book, The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek.



For a few secret months, 15-year-old Sam enjoys the unexpected attention of Suzie. However, at the end of the summer, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters when Suzie moves away. Watching her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers and plans an early escape to college. Suzie misses Sam and her closest friend, Bella. It is not until years later that a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother reunites the trio, causing Suzie to confront her past, as well as her friends.

My Review

The Grown Ups is a great Summer read that follows along with 3 childhood friends. The author, Robin Antalek, has such a great mastery of storytelling and it starts right off with a great ice breaker,
It was the summer all the children in the neighborhood caught a virus.
That first chapter was filled with so much vivid detail and humor that I was quickly hooked into the story and into the neighborhood that bound the 3 characters, long after they moved away.

This story drew me in with these dynamic characters, teenagers who struggled to grow up in the midst of parental problems, their own life choices along the way and the constant struggles that life throws at them. This was such a beautiful portrayal (though sometimes in the ugliest way) of the fears and struggles faced while growing up and finding one's place in the world.




Stay tuned for another book destination next week! I will be diving right into Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff.


Have you read The Grown Ups? What did you think of the story?

Andrea
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Monday, May 18, 2015

How To Refresh Your Overworked Washing Machine

I participated in this sampling on behalf of Smiley360.com. All experiences and opinions are my own. You can join Smiley360 at www.smiley360.com.


Okay, I don't just use my washer... running it 3-4 times a day and asking it to tackle dirty farm-soiled clothing just might be a tad on the abusive side. But, as a Mother of 3, our family goes through a LOT of laundry.

My beloved washer is one of my essential tools. I couldn't make my day work without it. My day generally starts off by throwing in my first load of laundry before my coffee is done being made. Then my day is not complete without a quick trip back to the laundry room to ensure nothing was left in the washer. If you have every found a washer full of damp mildew-ridden clothes (shudder) you may understand my paranoia.

Sadly, even with running the 'Clean Washer' setting regularly, I had started to notice that our clothing wasn't coming out smelling as fresh.

I learned this the hard way, breathing into a towel straight out of the shower the other morning. Ewwww..... And it was a fresh, 'clean' towel!


The last time this happened, I bought new towels. Don't laugh. Little did I know it wasn't the poor towel's fault... my washing machine held a dirty little secret.

My washer, with the sole purpose to get clothing clean, wasn't so clean itself. Did you know the washer can build up odor causing residue?

My MIL swears by leaving the door open between loads so the machine can dry out completely, but with our daily laundry load even doing that wasn't enough. Now I have a new solution to try for my less than fresh washing machine dilemma, I found something that will tackle that odor causing residue with minimal work from me. Did you know OxiClean makes a Washing Machine Cleaner?


I already use OxiClean as a laundry booster to help get out the tough stains and grime from my husband's work clothes, I also use it to help me battle against the grass stains and stain-rific mystery messes that my children grind into their shirts, pants and socks daily.

But now my washer can benefit from OxiClean as well.

My box of OxiClean Washing Machine Cleaner contained 4 easy pouches. It works with HE washers, never fear! To start with a deep cleaning, the instructions say to use one pouch on my machine's clean washer cycle 3 weeks in a row and then to maintain a clean washer I could use the product once a month.



Using the product was easy, I just opened and add to the drum, then select the clean washer cycle on the washing machine.  I let the cycle run and then after a quick wipe down inside the drum I was ready to get back to my weekend of laundry.



I have currently been using it for 2 weeks and yes, I do notice a difference. We usually use fragrance-free detergents, so there is no scent to cover up any lingering odors or musty smells. My towels are much fresher straight from the laundry room.

And that moment when I step out of the shower, grab a towel and wipe off my face? Much more pleasant now. No cringing, no colorful language...

Who knew that my poor overworked washing machine needed a little extra TLC?

Do you regularly clean your washing machine? Have you tried OxiClean Washing Machine Cleaner before?

Andrea
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pineapple Strawberry Cream Pops


This time of year I tend to have strawberries on the brain. Seems like I wait so long for Winter to finally make way for Spring... and then I find myself staring longingly at the strawberry patch across the street. 

My son is the first to find a ripe berry every year. This year it was a little earlier than expected. To be honest, I hadn't even had a chance to devote time to recipe searches using Strawberries! I usually go into the local strawberry season with a game plan. This year I am rather flying by the seat of my pants.

So our first strawberry recipe of the year was... frozen pops. 


Okay, not so glamorous or exciting, and yet they were the perfect use of these sun-ripened berries. We added a bit of sunshine to the recipe (i.e. pineapple) and a little creamy coconut yogurt and these simple little beauties were born... and promptly devoured by my kids.

I know strawberry season varies across the country, but I hope you will give these Pineapple Strawberry Cream Pops a try. They are a delicious and easy way to make a hot day a little cooler.


Why dairy free cultured yogurt? I have some dairy free kiddos and they really enjoy the So Delicious brand. It works really well in a smoothie or frozen treat like these.



This recipe works really well with the new popsicle mold I bought. The top lifts off and over the popsicle sticks, which allows for some fun layering and angle opportunities with popsicles.  Really, frozen juices and fruit can be creative, too!



Now I am just going to need a whole lot of those wooden popsicle sticks to get me through Summer!




Pineapple Strawberry Cream Pops

You Will Need:

  • 3 c. fresh strawberries + a few berries to slice
  • 12 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1- 6oz. Vanilla Coconut Milk Yogurt



Start by slicing a few berries and putting those pieces into the bottom of your popsicle forms. Evenly divide 6 ounces of pinapple juice between the pops. It will be just enough juice to fill the tip of each. Place your sticks into the pops and place in the freezer for at least an hour till semi-firm.

At the end of an hour, place the remaining strawberries, 6 ounces of pinapple juice and the vanilla coconut milk yogurt into a blender and puree. 

Carefully remove your popsicles from the freezer. Remove the lid carefully (it should slide right over the sticks) and fill pops with the strawberry/yogurt mixture. Put the lid back on, carefully putting all the sticks back into place. Freeze till firm.

To serve, run the bottom of the form under warm water for a few seconds until the pops release easily. Enjoy!


My kids couldn't decided which part they liked better.... the pineapple juice with chunks of frozen strawberry, or the creamy strawberry, pineapple yogurt bottom. I thought both hit the spot this past weeknd.

I hope you will enjoy this fun recipe with your own family!
Andrea
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Italian Baked Chicken, with Artichoke Hearts, Tomatoes and Olives


My family is pretty easy to please. Pasta is always a hit and anything that I top with olives and artichoke hearts is sure to have them singing my praises. This past weekend I decided to throw caution to the wind and add all our favorites in one place. This Italian Baked Chicken with Artichoke Hearts, Tomatoes and Olives was born!

The best part, of course, is it wasn't difficult to make. I pan seared the chicken breast and then placed them on a bed of artichoke hearts, Roma tomatoes, capers and olives to bake through and then topped with just a little mozzarella cheese. Served over a little simple angel hair pasta with a side of foccacia, it was the perfect weekend treat.



I take our weekend dinners very seriously. It is nice having the two oldest home during the day and with the weather turning warmer they play outside, and they play hard.

Like, muddy pants and dirt-smeared faces hard.

Do you remember those afternoons as a child? I would get lost in the backyard and my own imagination. I created fairy cities out of twigs, rocks and blossoms. But I also remember working up quite the appetite.

My Mom would often have a roast or the BBQ would be going. It was half the draw of the weekend.


Of course, even on the weekend I still have work to get done, cleaning, etc. I don't have all day to cook and prepare an extensive meal. I might want a fast solution to my dinner dilemma, but I don't want to sacrifice flavor.

Rummaging through the fridge I had a lot of odds and ends. The pantry held a few more goodies like the two cans of artichoke hearts. So they all went into the big baking dish.


Tossed with just a little flour to help tighten up any extra juices (even seeded those romas were juicy!)
it made a great bed for my chicken.

I slightly pounded out 4 chicken breasts then dipped them in egg and then flour before pan searing them. Then I nestled each down into my vegetables, topped them with a little cheese and baked it all till the chicken was cooked through.

This was easily done under 30 minutes and was a big hit with my family. I will be making this again throughout the Summer.

Ready for the recipe?


Italian Baked Chicken with Artichoke Hearts, Tomatoes and Olives

You Will Need:

  • 2 cans artichoke hearts, packed in water
  • kalamata olives
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and sliced
  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. capers
  • 2 Tbsp. + 1/2 c. flour, divided
  • olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the drained artichoke hearts, olives, sliced and seeded tomatoes, garlic and capers in a large mixing bowl. Toss with 2 Tbsp. flour and then transfer to a 9" x 13" baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Set up a dredging station for flour seasoned with salt and pepper and an egg wash. Add a little olive oil to a large skillet and heat to medium.  Pat your chicken breasts down with a paper towel so they are completely dry before you begin dredging. Then proceed to dip each breast in your egg wash and then lightly dredge in flour. Place the chicken, 2 breasts at a time, in your heated skilled. Brown both sides, then nestle the chicken into your vegetables. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Top the chicken with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Place the casserole into the oven and bake for 15 minutes before checking the chicken with a meat thermometer. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of your chicken breasts. The tomato and artichoke mixture should be baked through and bubbly.

Serve over your favorite pasts and enjoy!


Andrea
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Monday, May 11, 2015

Etched Oregon Swing Top Bottle - May Silhouette Challenge

Create an etched glass bottle for homemade strawberry lemonade, a great hostess gift for Summer.


One of my favorite parts of Spring is the coming of the local strawberries! Sweet and juicy berries are already dotting the strawberry fields here in Oregon and pretty soon the hot afternoons will start to smell like fresh strawberry jam.

This time of year, I love to create a simple and fresh strawberry lemonade.

I thought it was about time to profess my love of both my state and strawberries by etching a state outline into a Swing Top Bottle of my homemade lemonade just perfect for sharing with a good friend. Start with a sweet little swing top bottle.


I found this one at Michael's


Then it is time to break out the Silhouette, etching cream and other simple supplies. Do you remember my "Hello Sunshine" etched glass mug tutorial last Spring? This is a similar project and just as much fun.

Don't forget to grab a pair of protective gloves, the etching cream is caustic stuff.

Create a stencil in the Silhouette Design Studio. For this project I searched for an outline of my state and then uploaded the image into my program and used the trace function to create my own design. With a heart added in the middle, I was ready to go.


Take care when transferring your stencil. If it is not a single object and requires alignment, be sure to use transfer paper.


Then I put in a little extra time smoothing down the corners. I ended up with a little bleed under the edges, but I liked the rustic look of how it turned out.


Then comes etching time! I dabbed on some etching cream and then scraped off the excess. After just 30 seconds it was time to wash off the cream before removing the stencil. It is always fun to see exactly how it turns out.


It is subtle, but noticeable. I really like how it turned out. Now, I am ready to share my favorite way to cool off this time of year.

Now that you know how easy it is to etch glass, what would you like to make?

Want to Check Out More Silhouette Projects?

My Silhouette Challenge buddies and I are all sharing projects on our blogs today, so peruse the projects below for a wealth of Silhouette inspiration!

DIY Personalized NotebookDIY Kentucky Bourbon Etched Glass Set: Perfect Gift for Dad!Silhouette Monogram Ideas - Easy Monogram PhotoDAD Accordian Fold Father's Day CardEtched Oregon Swing Top Bottle  - May Silhouette ChallengeLeather BookmarkDIY Wedding GiftEtched Glass Vase with a SilhouetteHow To Make Etched Glass Tile CoastersSimple Handmade Gifts for Under $10.00Family Tree Frame with VinylMother's Day Etched Glass Terrarium: The Perfect DIY GiftWood Monogram Wire BraceletThe Art of the Etched Casserole Dish: Your Questions Answered!Faux Chalk Mason Jar GlassDelicious! Any More? An etched Glass plate
1. Weekend Craft // 2. Where The Smiles Have Been // 3. Confessions of an Overworked Mom // 4. Simply Kelly Designs // 5. Adventures in All Things Food // 6. Sisters, What! // 7. Create & Babble // 8. Creative Ramblings // 9. Practically Functional // 10. Briick by Briick // 11. My Paper Craze // 12. DIYJustCuz // 13. Made in a Day // 14. The Thinking Closet // 15. Architecture of a Mom // 16. Get Silvered


Andrea
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