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Hi! I'm Christine! I'm an Eco-friendly, frugal living 30 something hippie at heart Mom of teens with dreadlocks. I love fitness, yoga, and enjoying life wherever I happen to be planted at the moment which currently is the Pacific Northwest.
Giving gifts has become so complicated these days with so many options. There’s lots of brick-and-mortar stores as well as online shops and everything in between. This means that not only is gift-giving harder, but being able to sort it all out is as well. When it comes time for me to give a Valentine’s Gift, I really like to go to My Gift Stop. If you’re looking for the best Valentine gifts for him or an online gift shop that makes gift-giving a breeze, here are some reasons why I love My Gift Stop.
The Easiest Way to Shop for Valentine’s Day, Give Back + Win a $500 Gift card to My Gift Stop
When I choose a shop to buy a gift from, I often look to see what sets them apart from others like them. Of course, price is one determining factor, but more or less I also look to see if they give back. With My Gift Stop, I love that they give back to Direct Relief. Direct Relief is a humanitarian medical charity that gives life-saving Medical Aid to those affected by natural disasters. MyGiftStop.com donates 5% of every sale to direct relief.
Also, I love how easy it is to shop on MyGiftStop.com. all you have to do is go to the homepage and select who you shopping for and for what reason. For instance, when I was looking for something for my husband, I selected I’m giving to my husband for Valentine’s Day. Almost instantly, there were tons of gift ideas. This made shopping so much easier because I didn’t have to sort through a bunch of things.
MyGiftStop.com sells high-end watches, handbags, cologne, perfume, and sunglasses; just to name a few things. You can also find them at amazing and incredible deals! Plus, they have amazing returns.
To make gift-giving easier this Valentine’s Day, you could win a chance to receive a $500 gift card from My Gift Stop. Just follow the link below and sign up for your chance to win. Make sure you also see how easy they are to shop from, too and get something for your loved one. Contest rules below:
No purchase necessary.
One participant will win a $500 Gift Card to MyGiftStop.com. All other participants will receive a 10% off coupon via email good towards any products.
Open to individuals aged 18 and older only; void where prohibited.
Entry closes on Monday, February 5, 2018, at 11:59 PM EST
Winner will be selected at random on Thursday, February 8, 2018.
Open World Wide
Winner will be notified by email, so be sure to add mygiftstop.com to your safe list.
Prize unclaimed after 48 hours of notification is forfeited and My Gift Stop reserves the right to select another winner.
Winner agrees to allow My Gift Stop to publish his/her name as a giveaway winner and to promote future giveaways and promotions.
Participant agrees that his/her email will be added to our email newsletter to receive private sales, new product updates, and other marketing emails. Email is never sold or shared. A participant may unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time.
Today’s article is from Guest Writer, Ashley Winters.
Let’s face it; many chemicals are destroying the world we live in, drastically affecting our health, and for many of us, they cause allergies, too. The more we change to greener alternatives, the better our world becomes. It all starts with one person. When it comes to cleaning your house, you want clean, but you also want safe! Here are some green alternatives to traditional cleaners that you can make right at home, inexpensively and in just a few minutes!
There are so many medicinal plants in the world, and the health benefits of these plants are pretty surprising. So many of them can be grown inside, which is helpful if you don’t have a yard space or the time to maintain a garden but still want to have some of these staples on hand. All of these plants can be grown inside and used to help with common ailments.
6 Medicinal Plants You Can Grow Indoors
This is probably the best known medicinal plant. Aloe is very cooling, which makes it great for burns. If you get a burn on the stove or from the sun, just snip a bit off, slit it open, and rub the insides of the plant on the burn. You’ll start to feel better in no time.
Mint is great for settling a stomach. If you are feeling nauseous, chew on a mint leaf, or drink some mint tea. It is also great for making breath smell better, which is why mint is the most common choice for toothpaste. You can also use this one to make a mean mojito!
Fennel is the main ingredient in Gripe Water. It is extremely calming to the stomach and can help with gas and bloating. The seeds are the best part to use when it comes to medicinal uses. Fennel can also be used as an all-natural pesticide. Now, fennel does have a slight licorice taste, but the health benefits really outweigh the taste.
Ginger is a medicinal plant that likes to show up in some of our fall favorites. Think pumpkin spice anything. However, ginger is great for things other than just flavoring our lattes. It is excellent at helping with nausea, but it can also help with heartburn, and pain from migraines and menstruation. Here are some tips for growing ginger as a houseplant.
Chamomile is a medicinal plant powerhouse! Most people know that you can use chamomile to help promote sleep, but did you know it does some other pretty special things? It can also help muscles to relax and help with depression.
All of these plants are common medicinal plants that can be grown in the home. Most of them can also be used to cook, so a great place to have these growing would be near a kitchen. Happy growing!
I hate to admit it, but I am living in a household that seems to be committing a crime of sorts; produce waste all.the.time. I wrote a post not too long ago about having a zero waste kitchen, but there are some habits that I have been having a hard time breaking and one of them is produce waste. Every 2 weeks when I clean out the fridge, I find myself throwing out produce; probably a couple hundred dollars worth a year, to be honest. It’s not only aggravating because it is literally money I am tossing in the garbage, but I think of how as a whole, we as a nation throw out so much food when there are places and people (some in our own country) that are literally starving. I got tired of it and decided to do something about it. Here is how I am solving the produce waste problem in my house.
How to Avoid Produce Waste
Make a grocery list and stick to it. Don’t just buy produce with no plans on how you will use it just because it’s habit or on sale because it’s in season. Creat a weekly meal plan and stick to it, only buying what you need in the exact amounts you need for the recipe.
Plan to buy produce a couple of times a week. Some produce goes bad so quickly, you will not be able to use it up fast enough should you run into a night where the dinner you planned to make can’t be cooked because you are shorter on time than you thought. To combat this issue, I hit the grocery store a couple times a week for ‘produce runs’. I make sure I come with a list and only buy those items, sticking only to the produce section of the store and then going directly to the counter to pay.
Freeze produce you have extra of. Even if you think you bought the right amount, it still happens that you have more than you actually needed. Instead of sticking the bag back in the fridge to get forgotten about, chop it up and freeze right away. Make sure to label the date you put it in and use it for everything from smoothies, to soups and casseroles.
Create a ‘Use First’ bin in your fridge. I use those organization bins you can buy for the fridge. They really help me keep things organized. With one of them, I turned it into a ‘use first’ bin so when my teenage stepdaughter comes home ravenous after a day at school, she knows that she can go to the ‘use first’ bin and make herself a snack or salad for her after school hunger. This is where I place things that are still useful but for whatever reason didn’t end up in the freezer.
Keep a running inventory of what you have before hitting the store and ‘shop’ your fridge first. When doing your weekly meal planning, shop your fridge first and plan those meals that will use the items in it first as well so the produce gets used up.
It’s still in the thick of soup season and although I know cream based soups are defiantly more full of calories than a broth variety, I love them. Sometimes, there is nothing better than a good hearty soup on a cold winter day. I bought an instant pot last year during Black Friday and I have loved using it to make meal time much easier. I have always loved making soups, but the instant pot makes it so much quicker and less messy. With clean up a breeze, I can make soups this winter all the time.
One of my favorite classic winter soups is Instant Pot broccoli cheddar soup. The soup only Requires a few simple ingredients so it’s frugal as well as fast.
If you want to lower the calorie content of this recipe, instead of making a roux like the recipe calls for, make a slurry. A slurry is simply a mixture of cornstarch and water. Be aware though, your soup will not taste as rich. Additionally, some people don’t like the mouth feel that are slurry leaves in a soup. The Kitchn has a great post on making a slurry.
Instant Pot Broccoli Cheddar Soup
To make Instant Pot broccoli cheddar soup, you will need:
1 QT of Free-Range Chicken Broth
3 Cups of Fresh Broccoli, rough chopped
1 Carrot, Shredded
2 Cups Shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar
1 Stick (¼ cup) Butter
¼ Cup Flour
½ Cup 2% Milk
½ Tsp Paprika
1 Tbsp Granulated Onion
1 ½ Tbsp Granulated Garlic
Dash of Pink Salt
Dash of Black Pepper
How to make Instant Pot broccoli cheddar soup:
Start by placing your free range chicken broth, fresh broccoli, and shredded carrot into your instant pot. Add your seasonings. close the lid, making sure it has a Tight Seal. Set it on the soup setting for 18 minutes.
When you only have about 5 minutes left on your time, start making your roux. This is achieved by melting your butter in a small pot on your stove, and slowly adding in your flour making sure to whisk and break up chunks. Your roux is ready when it has a smooth “wet sand” appearance.
When your instant pot is done and you have carefully let off the steam and opened the lid, you can now add your roux. Using a whisk, slowly add your roux and make sure to break it up. Your roux is a soup thickener so it should be well-incorporated. If you will be using a slurry instead, this is the time to add it.
I use an immersion blender to create a creamier soup, but you can also leave it as is. If you want to use an immersion blender, carefully do so now.
Next, add in your sharp cheddar and mix well. Finally, slowly stir in your milk.
You can add extra seasoning to taste at this point. I like to also garnish with a little bit of shredded cheese on top.
One thing my husband loves is ginger. He uses fresh ginger in his tea and he loves to add it to various recipes. Ginger is very low cost so this isn’t an issue, but did you know that ginger is also a nice looking houseplant as well and very easy to grow? Growing ginger indoors is a very simple way to have an almost endless source of fresh ginger as well. They don’t need or like direct sunlight so they do perfect inside. If you are wanting to grow some ginger of your own indoors, here are some tips on how to grow ginger as a houseplant.
How to Grow Ginger as a Houseplant
First, you will need to get the right kind of ginger root. You will need a good piece that is bought at a health food or natural food store if possible so it’s likely to be organic. The reason is, many places have ginger root with chemicals on them that act as a growth inhibitor. Natural food store ginger generally has natural growth inhibitors, too, and in the next step you will see how to get rid of them in both cases no matter where you buy.
Take your ginger and soak it in a bowl of water for 24-48 hours. This hydrates the root as well as gets rid of the growth inhibitors. It is vital for planting. If you skip this step, your ginger may not grow at all.
Next, fit the right pot. Ginger’s roots grow horizontally. So a deep pot is not nessisary, but a wide one is. I like to use a shallow one made for fairy gardens or succulents. Make sure there are drain holes. Fill your pot with moist, rich soil.
Don’t bury your ginger too far. You can and should leave it almost uncovered. Ginger grows close to the surface. The most important thing is to keep to soil and root moist. Your ginger should not be soaked, but you should keep it wet. I suggest using a water bottle to give it a good spray daily.
Be aware that ginger is not fast growing. It is completely normal for you to not see any shoots growing for 3-4 weeks. Allow your ginger to have a warm place in your home with indirect or partial sunlight for best results.
In case you are wondering, yes, you can grow turmeric this way as well!
Please note that I am not a physician or medical practitioner and cannot give advice on starting an exercise program. Check with your doctor before starting any sort of exercise regimen.
I started doing yoga a while back. I decided to do it because I often have stiff, sore muscles due to chronic pain caused by Lyme disease. It is incredibly helpful and since I can’t do many strenuous cardio or other exercises, it gives me a chance to get some healthy workout time in. It also helps me relieve stress as well as keeps me grounded. I have noticed that not only do I feel better physically, but it keeps me feeling positive as well.
One of the issues with doing yoga, though, is the fact that many of the positions are hard to do when you are plus sized like I am. Simply and bluntly put, my extra “stuff” gets in the way and I am far less flexible as well. This doesn’t stop me, however! Here are some tips for doing yoga if you are pleasantly plus sized like myself!
Tips for Doing Yoga When you are Plus Sized
Get yourself a yoga mat. You definitely need one no matter what, but as a plus sized individual, I highly recommend one. Since it can be hard to hold the positions, and your joints may be in pain, you will need some extra cushioning for your yoga time. Yoga mats do not have to cost a lot, either. There are many great low cost yoga matsonline that cost less than $10.
Drink plenty of water before and after you do your yoga session. Many people equate yoga with stretching and not really getting your heart going. This is false and I quickly learned this the first time I did it. I sweat a lot when I do my yoga and so I found out that it is vital to drink lots of water before and after my yoga session.
Listen to your body. Yoga can and will be uncomfortable at first, but it should never hurt. If you are finding that it is hurting too much to do certain stretches and positions, skip them or do what you can. With practice, you will get better.
Modify positions. You can modify some positions in yoga to make them easier for you to do. For instance, during Sun Salutations, when I get to the Swan Dive and the Standing Lunge, my belly gets in the way. I don’t try to move my body in a way it won’t. Instead, I don’t do the full lunge and I tuck my hands behind my back rather than forward to give my belly more stretching room.
Try out different sets and find ones your body works for. Don’t feel defeated if you can’t do some stuff. It’s OK! Try to remind yourself of what you ARE capable and not what you aren’t.
Get some good yoga clothing. Again, this does not have to cost a lot. I work out in cheap leggings and a cotton tunic top. I do recommend a great (not just good!) sports bra if you are busty. Many of the positions in yoga call for you to bend forward and a good sports bra will keep your (ahem) “ladies” in place.
Challenge yourself regularly. While you should not feel bad about not being able to do certain positions, you should also not deny yourself a challenge. Keep trying harder positions. You will get more flexible over time.
Do Partner Positions. These are great for helping each other achieve a goal and they allow you to support each other while trying to do some more challenging positions.
Do you do yoga as a plus sized individual? What are some of your tips?
I love to do crafts. The one thing I will admit, though, I never did really learn how to sew properly. So, although I love looking at all the fun projects I could sew on Pinterest, I knew that it was out of the question along with crocheting or knitting as those are also two skills I lack. I like to spend time with my daughter and stepdaughter and one of the things I like to do with them each if crafts and they both like to help with projects on my blog. So, one afternoon, I decided that if I tied the ends of something enough, it just might stay. I say a bag on another site that gave me inspiration but it had fringe and none of us really wanted that, so we decided to make one small adjustment and that was to get rid of the fringe on the bottom of the bag.
This bag works well for taking to the farmer’s markets and surprisingly, it can hold quite a few things because we tied it so intensely to get rid of the ends inside the bag. This is a perfect project to do with teens and pre-teens and it turns an old shirt that no longer fits into something usable again. I do recommend using a more vintage style shirt material (the kind that is stretchier and softer) because it is easier to work with and ties more securely. Plus, it stretches out better when it’s used as a bag.
No Sew Tote from a T Shirt
Materials you need to make a No Sew Tote:
An old T-Shirt
(yes, it really is that simple!)
1. Start by cutting off the sleeves right at the seam. You want to get it as close to the seam as possible or just behind it because this will be the handles of your bag.
2. Next, lay the shirt flat and cut off the neckline the way it lays. You want to make sure to cut off the extra as shown in the picture below because this is the opening for your tote and you don’t want it too small.
3. At the bottom of the T-shirt, cut 1/2 inch strips about 5 inches up on your T. If your shirt is way smaller, then adjust accordingly as you don’t want to go too high up or your bag will not have any room. (The cuts on my stepdaughter’s bag in this image are a bit short. We adjusted them before she got to the next step).
4. Turn your bag inside out. Start tying the strips together. First, you want to tie the top and bottom strip together, then you will go along 3-4 more times tying random strips together. Make sure to pull the knots tight so your bag is secure.
5. You will know it is done when you try to pry it apart and it doesn’t come apart. It will look like this inside:
and this on the outside:
That’s it! If you want, you can hot glue on some embellishments, but we chose to keep ours plain.
There’s been several times in my life that I tried to get fit for one reason or another. With it being the season to make New Year’s resolutions, I thought now would be a good time to discuss the mistakes I’ve made in the past In the hopes that it could help you if you’re making a New Year’s resolution for the same thing. Although I don’t believe in Making New Year’s resolutions when it comes to fitness, I’m still working on getting fit. I consider getting fit an ongoing process and a journey in itself. Through this journey, I’ve discovered some big mistakes that I made and many of them have nothing to do with a number on a scale. Here are some of the mistakes I tried getting fit and what I’m doing differently this time.
How I Failed the First Time I tried Getting Fit and What I’m Doing This Time
I focused too much on the scale– Focusing on the scale is one of the worst things you can do when going on a fitness journey. It says if we think the number on the scale tells us everything we need to know about where we’re at. The truth is, a number on a scale really is just that- a number on a scale. It doesn’t tell you about the times that you didn’t give up and instead, pushed through, it doesn’t tell you how much muscle mass you’ve built, and it doesn’t talk about the inches that you’ve lost. If you are focusing on nothing but the scale you will find yourself being disappointed a lot of time. This time around, I’m not weighing myself as often and when I do I’m not taking it to heart. I’m also considering not weighing myself at all. I’m also doing measurements with a simple measuring tape. I’m looking for the non scale victories.
I didn’t eat enough protein– The science proves it: muscle burns fat and muscle needs protein to build. The first time around I didn’t eat enough protein. What I say you need to eat more protein, I really do mean it. One of the easiest and fastest way to get more protein Into your diet is to eat cottage cheese. One serving has a huge kick of protein. I know lots of people don’t like cottage cheese but I’m lucky to enjoy it. Whatever it takes, make sure you’re eating enough protein. (Check out my recipe on Rainbeau Curves for delicious Chocolate Banana Protein Pudding!)
I gave up way too easily– A fitness journey is a slow process. A great analogy is that is more like a marathon than a sprint, no pun intended. This means you will have bumps in the road and times were you hit plateaus. It also means you might be pushing yourself to your breaking points and limits. In the past, I gave him away too easily. I let my chronic pain condition be my boss instead of the other way around. This time around, I’m telling it what to do. I’m finding that when I do, my pain days are less intense and fewer in between.
I didn’t build a support network– Every fitness journey must have a support network. In the past, I didn’t think I needed one. I thought this journey was one I took alone and, when I did try To build a network, I didn’t build it with the best people. I built it with people that wouldn’t necessarily hold me accountable and the ones that I did add that were good for me, I didn’t communicate with often enough. If I’m honest, I think I did it that way on purpose. This time, I am building a network of people and support that will push me to do my best.
I compared myself too much to others– Oh yes, I definitely compared myself way too much to others. Just like relying on the scale, comparing yourself to others and their journeys will do nothing but make you feel like giving up. Even if you compare yourself to others that have similar bodies and struggles that you do, oftentimes, you will still be disappointed, because each of us is unique. This time, the only one I’m comparing myself to is me and where I have been and how far I have come.
I didn’t set enough goals And I didn’t reward myself either– In the past, I set long-term goals but I wasn’t very good about setting short-term goals. These long-term goals seemed unattainable. This time I’m setting short-term goals so I can celebrate these victories and reward myself in healthy ways.Some rewards I plan on including are new fitness clothes, new non-fitness clothes, day trips to places I want to go and some spa time.
Can you believe that 2017 is almost at the end? It really seems like we were just ringing it in! One thing I love about New Years is the fact that I get to cuddle up on the couch watch some TV and drink a couple of cocktails with my husband. Sometimes I feel like having an alcoholic 1 and other times I feel like a non-alcoholic 1. that’s why this list of 20 cocktails to ring in the New Year includes both non-alcoholic and alcoholic treats. I hope you enjoy These beverages and have a Happy New Year in the coming year.
Keep in mind that the alcoholic drinks could be made non-alcoholic by substituting sparkling cider, soda or fruit juice in place of the alcohol. Additionally, you could make the non-alcoholic ones alcoholic by substituting or adding your favorite alcoholic liquor or beverage. Whatever you choose to do, please don’t drive drunk and always have a plan B if you plan on drinking.