Closeup image of a yard sale sign

It’s almost summer, and spring cleaning– for me– has stretched on for a couple of months this year. I have been putting off having a yard sale for the longest time, but I really need to free up some space. According to yardsales.net, the average household has about $7000 worth of stuff they no longer use or want.  I need to cash in on some of that.  I already know what has to go, but I have been putting it off because I just haven’t known where to start.  I’ve had garage sales before with some small successes, but I really want to have a smooth and worthwhile experience.  I have some good items that I would hate to let go for too cheap, but I don’t want to have to lug anything back to storage either.

index

Luckily there is an ebook from yardsales.net, a website that helps put buyers and sellers together.  The Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Yard Sale is a comprehensive, easy to read manual on how to put together a professional yard sale.  It contains useful tips on organization, safety, the best times to have yard sales and—my favorite—pricing.

I always feel pressured to sell for less than I think I should get for my items, and though I have done my share of successful negotiations, the thought of a full day of it is just so stressful.  I checked this book and found great strategies for not only putting together a successful sale, but also insightful tactics on how to set prices, what to mark, where to display and even how to deal with the different types of buyers who will be stopping by.

Image of clothes on hangers at a garage sale

 

Knowing what to expect and how to really plan for a successful yard sale has me excited about turning my clutter into cash.  This ebook can be found on Amazon.com and is available free until May 27!

{ 0 comments }

Ci776WPXEAILz0w.jpg large

I’d like to take a quick moment to address something that I think is important.  It’s not political and it’s not a soap box thing.  This is very relevant to all of us as consumers, particularly those of us that cook.  This is a green issue, but look; I don’t obsessively and aggressively promote environmentalist ideals.  I do strive to understand things that make good ecological sense.  I believe in buying responsibly and using resources ethically.  A lot of rumors go around about what is good and what is bad; what you should and shouldn’t consume.  One of the big things I’ve heard more recently is that palm oil is bad for the planet, which is interesting because palm oil is in, uh, everything.  How do you avoid an ingredient so pervasive it’s in your cosmetics, you soap, your food?

Virtually every aisle of the grocery store is a tidal wave of palm oil.  How do you get away from it?  Have big corporations finally edged out the consumer’s ability to choose?  What is the little guy to do?  Has Goliath finally won?  Well, I looked into it and found out something that makes a ton more sense.  Palm oil isn’t bad for the planet.  Irresponsible business practices involving palm oil farming are bad for the planet.  Not only that, but something is being done about it.  Big sigh of relief!  You can see the difference between good and bad palm oil here

As it turns out bad palm oil is bad because it contributes to water pollution, and deforestation, seriously destroying habitats for many animals and people.  Sustainability is key and ethically sourced palm oil is a win for both farmers and the environment.  Good palm oil is grown sustainable, meaning it helps to protect forests and valuable animal species.  It also allows farmers to harvest more oil and use less land.

When nearly 50% of all the products we buy in the supermarket contain palm oil.  It’s good to know the difference between good and bad palm oil and that we don’t have to snub it all together.  Palm oil is a perfect ingredient in so many products because it has a smooth creamy texture and no odor.  These are excellent cooking properties which are maintained even in extreme heat, which makes it ideal for food recipes in addition to other product manufacturing.  It can’t really be replaced, but even if we used an alternative oil it would create the same devastating results.  Remember, it’s not the palm oil that’s bad, it’s unsustainable practices.

As a consumer you have a choice in the products you buy.  Sometimes it’s hard because you have to avoid certain ingredients, and in this case it would be a nearly impossible headache.  The great news is that with a little better understanding about why palm oil is considered bad and how you can identify good palm oil, you can buy responsibly and not contribute to the further destruction of our planet.  The RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) has been working since 2004 to make sustainable palm oil the norm.  Look for the certified sustainable palm oil seal on products containing palm oil and find out more here.

This blog post is sponsored by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

{ 0 comments }

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NutrishCatCrafts #CollectiveBias

Watson Teepee 2

You all know how much I love Watson and I try and make him little places for him to enjoy. I have bought his a toddler chair, made him a luggage bed, and now I have made him a cat teepee . Here is Watson enjoying it ( he is currently using it while watching for birds).

Watson Teepee

I was inspired to do this DIY when I looked at  Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Pinterest. There are tons of fun tutorials and cat related content. In 2007 Rachael Ray created Nutrish which is a super-premium food and treats for dogs inspired by recipes from her own kitchen.

IMG_3025

All the recipes are simple and full of wholesome ingredients with real meat or fish. There are never corn, wheat, soy, gluten, poultry-by-product meal, fillers, artificial preservatives or colors. I am always looking for better food to buy Watson so I went to my local Fred Meyers and picked up Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Dry Cat Food – Zero Grain Chicken & Potato Recipe which has U.S farm-raised chicken as the #1 ingredient. I also picked up some Grain Free Wet Food For Cats.  Watson already has had the Chicken & Salmon Catterole™ and loved it!

index

You can find Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® wet and dry cat food varieties at many different retailers near you, as well as online at Amazon.com. I personally went to Fred Meyers since it is so close to my home. You can find where you can buy Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® wet and dry cat food varieties HERE.

Remember when you introduce food to your kitty to do it gradually – over the course of 7 – 10 days. Simply start replacing more of the current food to Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® until the switch over is complete. Rachael’s personal proceeds go to Rachael’s Rescue, which was created to help shelter pets in need – over $14 million has been donated.

IMG_2885

This is what you need. 4 dowels ( 27 inches), 2 Yards of fabric, scissors, 3 yards of rope, hot glue gun, and optional ( ring ) I did not ended up using this.

You will want the tie the dowels together – very well. Eric did this by wrapping the rope tightly around each dowel. Once it is tight it should stand on its own in a teepee shape. If it does not stand well you can glue a ring to the dowels using a hot glue gun to help the structure, if you wrap the dowels tight enough you will not need this step.

IMG_2891

Can you see Watson “helping”? Next you need to cut out the teepee shape from the fabric. Using the dowel I measured the length so I knew how much to cut. I cut the fabric at that length so it made a almost circle. I also cut the top of the fabric into a circle so it will fit well over the teepee structure.

Heat up the glue gun and hem all the seems ( this will give the teepee a cleaner look)

Next drape the fabric over the structure and see if it fits

Teepee

Next you want to close up the front seam with hot glue and you are done. I put the teepee on a rug to add to the comfort level.

Watson Teepee 3

Make sure to check out Nutrish on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

 

{ 1 comment }

Young beautiful female traveler standing on the street and looking at the map

Summer is HERE! This means traveling around the world – are you ready?

My parents just got back from a trip abroad and when they returned they had a host of stories about the food and the wildlife they encountered.  Unfortunately, they had also acquired a slew of roaming charges.  Traveling abroad can be brutal on your phone bill especially now that staying connected is more important than ever while you are in a foreign land.  Without convenient way to find a local SIM card you have to rely on WiFi, or face dastardly roaming fees.  None of these solutions is a good option when you need to be working, sharing, or navigating abroad.

Portrait of beautiful young woman standing on the street and using her mobile phone

Now there is an appropriate and affordable solution.  The KnowRoaming Sim Sticker saves travelers on roaming costs in over 200 countries worldwide.  Just put the SIM Sticker on top of your current SIM card and it remains dormant until you roam.  It then activates and connects to a local network for voice, data and SMS services even if you have an unlocked phone.  The entire service is pre-paid and never expires.  You can also access unlimited data in over 70 countries for $7.99 per day.  To buy your SIM Sticker and find out more about how to use it go here.

Where do you want to roam?

Disclaimer – This post is sponsored by KnowRoaming but all the thoughts and opinions are my own.

{ 0 comments }

mall

Can you believe that we’re already about to let the kids out for summer vacation already? Just a few short months ago everyone was complaining about the cold weather and wishing for Spring but it seems like Spring has blurred by and now we’re on the brink of Summer. For some of you that might mean that it’s time to start planning summer vacation but for me it’s a sign that summer deals are on the horizon at retailers everywhere. On par with holidays deals, summer shopping is one of my favorite markers of the season. Everything from clothes to shoes are drastically marked down and I’ve always been able to find a lot of cute summery items for amazing prices. I’m excited to see what this years haul is like.

Of course, my readers know me. I may be on the hunt for some amazing deals but I’m always hyper aware of my budget at the same time. This is why, even though the deals are hard to resist, I’m constantly trying to save even more money that I would on just deals alone. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t like to save extra money wherever they can these days? Especially if you’re anything like me and you like to sneak into your local mall on occasion. Everyone knows that the mall is one of the most expensive places on the planet to do your shopping but unfortunately they’re almost always the only place where you can find the best retailers.

Knowing that the best sales can be found at the mall in the upcoming summer months, I set about making a list of ways to keep myself in check while being able to save money. I’d love to share my list with my readers so that they might save a little extra money themselves.

  • Shop the deals. I know I just mentioned this above but this is probably the most important step I can share. More often than not stores tend to mark their items up, most of the time. During sales you’re more likely to get some of your most coveted items for a more reasonable price.
  • Utilize Coupons. Next time you see a newspaper in your local convenience store, go ahead and grab one. They’re always chalk full of nifty coupons. Many large department stores include their coupons with grocery retailers coupons. 10%, 15% and 20% are some of the nice deals you’ll find from scouring the Sunday paper.
  • Say no to store credit cards. It might seem tempting and the sales clerk might be doing an excellent job providing you with great incentives but just say no. Store credit cards might sound nice but they’re a clever way to trick you into spending more money, not saving. They also tack on interest on unpaid bills so you might unintentionally wrack up some extra charges. They’re definitely not conducive to saving money.
  • Sign up for mailing lists. Often times at check out I’m asking if I want to sign up for that particular stores mailing list. I always say yes! The store newsletter always comes with some pretty nice coupons that are bound to save you a pretty penny next time you’re planning a visit to their store.
  • Set yourself a limit. I know this seems like common sense but you’d be surprised at how often people deviate from their set spending limit without a second thought to why they set it in the first place. Making a list of what items you’re looking for specifically also helps to keep you in line when it comes to spending extra. Always set yourself a budget for going into the mall or have a list handy. Your wallet/bank account will thank you for it when all is said and done.
  • Visit Outlet stores. Nearly every major store has an outlet store. Check out the locations nearest you and head on over. They often have the same items that you’re looking for in your favorite retailer but often at lower prices. Sometimes the items might have a small defect (that you might not even notice at all) or the outlet has a surplus so they sell them for super cheap.
  • Coupon Apps. I can’t tell you how many times coupon apps have helped me save money. Apps like Coupon Sherpa and Shopkick help provide coupons for some of your favorite stores. They’re sure to save you some money the next time you’re shopping for deals.

Letting me loose at the mall is something akin to letting a kid lose in the candy store. I adore shopping for the latest deals but like a lot of my readers I’m guilty of spending way more than I should. With this nifty tips I’ve been able to drastically save and hope to put them to good use when the summer deals hit. I hope they’ll be helpful to my readers as well.

{ 0 comments }

BBQ Sauce Chicken KC 2

I cook dinner almost every night and I am always looking for ways to make dinner easier to make and how to make as little dishes as possible ( since I have to clean them afterwards). I recently found KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce Mix & Dry Rub ( have you seen this product yet?).

IMG_1467

The KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce Mix & Dry Rub is so easy to use. You can either simply use the dry rub on your meat ( which is amazing by the way – I used the spicy habanero last night on a whole chicken ( perfection)) or you can add 3/4 – 1 cup of water, soda, beer, bourbon or juice. If you add 3/4 cup of liquid you will be creating a personalized BBQ sauce while 1 cup of liquid will create a marinade. The sky is the limit with all the different combinations and ways to cook with KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce Mix & Dry Rub.

KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce was created in Kansas City ( which is known for their barbecue).  Using KC Masterpiece will give your dish that authentic BBQ taste. KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce and marinade varieties are gluten free, except for Caribbean Jerk marinade and Honey Teriyaki marinade. I love that the recipe I have for you today is gluten free so everyone in my family could enjoy it.

KC BBQ

This is all you are going to need. I cook for my family everyday of the week – my time is limited so I love to make simple recipes that are yummy for everyone with very easy cleanup

This whole recipe uses one plate and one casserole dish ( plus a mixing spoon).

My dad had a kick making the BBQ sauce. We used 3/4 Cup of Root Beer Soda – for this recipe I actually used both BBQ packets in the box. We placed both packets in the casserole dish with 1 1/2 cup of Root Beer

Dad BBQ Sauce

Eric was our official taste tester. We got 2 thumbs up!

Eric

I took about 1/2 of the BBQ Sauce out of the pan onto a plate ( you can use a bowl). I placed the chicken in the pan – brushing the BBQ sauce onto the chicken. Baked the chicken for about 20 minutes

IMG_2814

Then I added in a bag of my favorite frozen veggies – use the rest of the KC Masterpiece’s BBQ Sauce on top and bake for another 20 minutes.

Here is my dad mixing in the veggies

Dad BBQ 2

Once the 20 minutes is up the dish is ready to serve. Simple and easy to make on a busy weeknight PLUS cleanup is super easy.

If you do make my One Dish BBQ Chicken and Vegetables please make sure to comment and let me know what you thought

BBQ Sauce Chicken KC

One Dish BBQ Chicken and Vegetables
 
:
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Pound of Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Package of KC Masterpiece's BBQ Sauce Mix and Dry Rub ( contains 2 packets)
  • 1½ Cup of Root Beer Soda
  • 16 oz of Frozen Vegetables
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a casserole dish whisk together the BBQ Sauce mix packets and soda
  3. Take ½ of the BBQ Sauce out of the casserole dish and place in a bowl or plate
  4. Add Chicken the BBQ Sauce - Bake for 20 minutes
  5. Add Vegetables ( Frozen) and the rest of the BBQ Sauce
  6. Bake for 20 more minutes
  7. Serve

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of KC Masterpiece. The opinions and text are all mine.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Farmers Market

May 19, 2016

13131238_10104065313016955_4947165809410408512_o

If you did not know Oregon is full of wonderful farms – many of them participate in farmers markets in the area. Right now the farmers market does not have a ton of my favorite buys ( like raspberries) but there were strawberries.

I do not go to the Farmers Market that often since Saturday is the normal relax day in my house after a long week of work. But since the local Farmers Market was having its opening day I thought it would be fun to go

13147343_10104065314913155_5366518580739005020_o

I really wanted to buy a bunch of carrots – but I honestly have no idea what I would do with them. I have bought carrots so many times and they always go bad. I do have recipes for them but I never seem to get around to actually making anything. I am a more potato girl.

13217029_10104065314928125_2375810702866579492_o

I did end up buying asparagus ( one of my favorites) – my favorite way to prepare them is a little olive oil and salt and pepper ( bake for about 20 minutes at 350) – SO yummy

Farmers

I was able to pick up some strawberries which I was really excited about – fresh strawberries are amazing.

13116138_10104065314923135_70580990362674211_o

I always love to look at all the flowers – most of the time I do not pick any up ( I tend to buy all my fresh flowers from Trader Joes) but this was Mother’s Day weekend so I got a bouquet for my mom for $15

 13112991_10104065314908165_1556747325212637740_o

She really loved them – I think it was a pretty good deal for high quality flowers.

This is everything I bought from the Farmers Market

13147789_10104065314918145_1380366453926931017_o

I ended up buying 4 different herbs ( there will be a post all about these herbs).  We picked up Cheesy Puffs ( locally made here in Portland). I make all the lunches for Eric for work – and I always like to change up the sides to his sandwiches and these puffs fit the bill. He is a huge fan of blue cheese. I got a pint of Hood Strawberries – they were a little costly – I cannot wait to pick my own strawberries soon since it is so much cost efficient. I bought the strawberries for Eric’s lunches as well. Lastly I got asparagus – this is for dinner later this week.

{ 0 comments }

Portrait of redhead woman in red glasses with money on blue background

Budgeting can be tough for many people. The thought of tracking how much you spend each week can be tiresome. Many people have found the envelope system to be a much easier way to watch what you spend.

If you have never heard of the cash envelope system way of budgeting, it is simply taking a certain amount of cash out of each paycheck and putting it in separate envelopes for different types of expenses. For example, maybe your “groceries” envelope may have $100 in it each week. And your “entertainment” envelope may get $50 each week. Bottom line, you set up which envelopes you need and how much each one gets out of each paycheck. Once you have spent all of the cash in the envelope, you are done with that category until your next paycheck.

But if you don’t like to use cash like many of us today, you can still use this method. Still grab your envelopes and write your categories on the outside of each one, along with the amount you have to spend on that category. You can also use small a notebook, sticky notes, or whatever you want to use. You can even create a simple spreadsheet to keep track. The key is that each time you make a purchase from that category, you deduct that amount from your total. When you get to $0 you are done.

The success of this system is to not try to work around the system. If you run out of money in your “clothing” category, don’t move money from your “gas” category to help pay for that dress you just saw and have to have. Be disciplined and stick to what you set up for each category.

If you don’t spend all of it each month the best practice is to put any leftover into your savings account. That way you are continuing to build your savings as you go along.

Have you ever tried the envelope system? What works or doesn’t work for you?

{ 0 comments }