December 31, 2014

Save an EXTRA 10% on Your Purchase at Cost Plus World Market!

One of my favorite stores is offering a great deal right now. You can save 10% on your entire purchase in-store and online!

Just click on the link for the code to save online or for the option to print a coupon that you can use in-store.

The offer is good from now until January 19th, and you can print as many coupons as you want. Happy shopping! ;)

December 30, 2014

A Play Mat DIY for the Kids! Pond, Farm, School

I've had a 10 day break from blogging... man how time flies when you're sick, then busy catching up after being sick, cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, etc.

In between, I made some time to finish up a play mat that I was making for Dave's grandkids. It was just felt, glue, and occasionally some embroidery floss, so it went together pretty quickly and easily, and I love the way it turned out!

There are so many places online where you can find inspiration if you'd like to make your own felt play mat. Pinterest is always a great source, and so is Google Images. Some are incredibly elaborate, and some are simple.

Be warned that once you start, it's really hard to stop! I kept thinking, "Just one more..." and "I should add a..." Anyhow, keep reading to see more how it all came together when it was done.

December 20, 2014

Books to DIE(t) For: Sorting Through the New Diet Books of 2014 {Self-Care Saturday}

To diet, or not to diet? That is the question. 'Tis the season! Christmas isn't here yet, but the TV commercials have already made the New Years Resolution transition... Medifast, Slimgenics, and OH so many more. The January issues of all of the magazines are hitting newsstands with all of the weight loss headlines you might expect. And of course, December 30th is the release date of several new diet books.

I thought I'd do a post today that was a quick summary of each of the diet and weight loss books that I've received over the last 6 months or so. It would allow all of us to learn what options there were for weight loss plans out there quickly and easily. That was the plan anyhow. Until I started the spreadsheet list of all of the diet books that I've received for review over the last 6 months or so.

December 18, 2014

Contemporary Modern MixUp with Modani Furniture

One of the reasons I love mid-century modern style so much is the clean lines of the furniture mixed with lots of natural elements. Lots of wood and lots of texture.

Modani is known for their contemporary, modern looks and I wanted to pull from my love of all things vintage - and my love of mid-century modern style - to create a modern room using one of their modern sofas as the PERFECT base for the room. It's sophisticated, comfortable, and neutral, so you can make it work with absolutely any style of decor for your living room.

December 16, 2014

Beautiful Boho Holiday Decor

I love eclectic holiday decorating and found some beautiful bohemian Christmas decor to share with you today. Enjoy!

To find the original source of these images and more, visit my Boho Christmas board on Pinterest!

December 12, 2014

Cozy Gifts that She'll LOVE from UGG

When I think Christmas, I think cozy! A warm mug of Tom & Jerry, a crackling fire, the soft glow of Christmas tree lights... SO COZY!

As a young girl, I got new pajamas every year for Christmas and I know that lots of families still have that tradition. As I was looking through different websites for my gift guides this year, I came across this SUPER cozy loungewear from Ugg that is TO DIE FOR!

I don't know any women that wouldn't love something cozy like this to wear in the evenings around the house - and the fact that this line comes from Ugg means that they are excellent quality that will last her for years!

Scroll down to see the great selection and to find out what special offers are available for readers of A Beautiful Little Life!

December 11, 2014

Beautiful Acts of Kindness: Flowers from Trader Joes

Brighten your week for WAY cheap! 
I stumbled across this story on Facebook this morning and was touched by the struggles of a mom to handle her mid-tantrum autistic toddler with a baby strapped across her chest at Trader Joe's. It's definitely worth reading because this family is AMAZING!

The Trader Joe's employee recognized the struggles of  this family and took the time to hand her a bouquet of flowers and offer a few kind words. So very touching.

It brought back my own memories of standing in the checkout lane at Trader Joe's with a few groceries and a beautiful bouquet of flowers for my now husband's mom, who was in the hospital. The chatty cashier asked who the lucky recipient was and I told her about Jeanette and her battle with cancer that was coming to an end. She put a sticker on the outside wrapper of the bouquet and said that the flowers were free. A small gift from Trader Joe's to help us and help brighten her day.

December 10, 2014

Taking Great Care With ALOHA When You Get Sick At Christmas

I've been sick since Saturday. Sinus headaches, stomachache, and just overall garbage. It's especially difficult this time of year when there is SO much to do, so little time, and ABSOLUTELY no time to be sick!

This morning I woke up so frustrated that I actually was feeling WORSE. I was actually angry at myself! Then I started thinking about WHY I am not getting better. I fall into old habits when I'm not feeling well. I lay around thinking that I need "rest" and eat things like toast, crackers, and gingerale. Not exactly the healthiest choices! I realized that it's time to really kick it into gear and start taking better care of myself!

December 7, 2014

A Day Late and A Dollar Short! Busy and Broke for the Holidays! {Self-Care Saturday}

Self-Care Saturday - on Sunday?

YEP! I'm so swamped these days that the LAST thing I could afford was a whole day down with a headache, but that's what I ended up with. I had no choice but to spend the day taking care of myself because I couldn't even move!

'Tis the season to be super busy, and to be stressing out about spending. This year, there seem to be more deals and sales than I've ever seen before. I'm pretty sure that black Friday is now EVERY Friday between Thanksgiving and Christmas!

I've finished shopping, but I'm now to the point where I'm second guessing some of my choices and making a few returns. Yes, really!

So the struggle is to stay on track with work, blogging, etc. so that I don't fall behind, and stay on budget from now until Christmas. 17 days. How? I've been looking on-line for help! (with 5 other shopping tabs open...)

December 5, 2014

Pretty Alternatives to the Traditional Christmas Tree

My son and I went out last weekend and selected a beautiful, real Christmas tree for our living room and decorated it before he went back to school on Sunday night. I especially love the soft glow of the lights in the evening when its dark outside.

But we don't all have the space - or the desire - to have a real Christmas tree! That doesn't mean that you can't enjoy all of the best parts of the holiday season.

Here are some of the most beautiful Christmas tree alternatives I've seen!

December 4, 2014

Spice Up Your Holiday Sides with Texas Pete Hot Sauce!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Texas Pete for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

As soon as Thanksgiving passes and the turkey leftovers start to dwindle, I start craving something a bit spicier than turkey, stuffing and potatoes. When I was approached by Texas Pete Hot Sauce to try one of their new recipes and share it with my readers - well - I don't think their timing could have been any better!

There were so many yummy recipes to choose from, but I chose a roast corn and black bean salad because it reminded me of all the things I love about those fast food burrito bowls. Texas Pete has a LOT of varieties - Hot Sauce, Wing Sauce, Garlic Sauce, and CHA! by Texas Pete sriracha are a few of my favorites. You can find Texas Pete Hot Sauce in stores or online. Now back to that yummy salad...

December 3, 2014

Festive Casual Style: Adding Sparkle and Shine to Create a Memorable Look!

It's so easy to run around this time of year looking like the busy, frazzled woman that you really are... but there's a way to look pulled together without blowing your schedule. It's all about adding just a bit of sparkle and shine!

You throw on a black t-shirt and a pair of black jeans, then add a statement necklace and a coat and you're good to go absolutely anywhere!

The key is to stick with a monochromatic outfit to make dressing simple and looking sophisticated. Whether you're wearing head to toe black, burgundy, or white, you'll look totally pulled together - sophisticated even! Check out these looks...

Winner, Winner, GREEK DINNER!

Where does the time go? I cannot believe that it's December 3 already. I'm so far behind that the December 1 drawing for the giveaway of the wonderful cookbook, "It's All Greek to Me" came and went without notice!

Remember the yummy baklava recipe I posted last month? It's in the book!

I wonder if that's what JILL J. - the winner of this drawing - will make?

Congratulations Jill! And if you have any leftovers from whatever you make, think of the one who made it happen... Just saying! ;)

December 1, 2014

Thrifty Holiday Decorating: Dessert Stand Decor

I paid a visit to my favorite local thrift shop this morning - Arc's Value Village - and found a really cute dessert stand. I knew it would be perfect for the holidays and I started playing with it as soon as I got home!

We just got our tree yesterday and all of the holiday decorations are still laying around, so it was easy to find some things to use on the dessert stand.

Check out how easy it was to turn the stand into a pretty decorative centerpiece that I can use from now until Christmas, when it gets filled with cookies and candies!

November 26, 2014

Great Gifts for Guys: Husband, Boyfriend, Son, Son-in-Law, Co-Worker

80% of the gifts that I'm buying this year for Christmas are for guys. To me, men are the most difficult people in the world to shop for. Women are SO much easier! I always think that, with most women, you really can't go wrong with the gift of a nice robe, a new makeup bag with some goodies tucked inside, a salon spa gift card, a pretty scarf...

With guys it's different. They would never admit it, but most of the guys that I know are really PICKY! Ask them and they'd say that they don't care what they get. Anything is fine. And THAT is precisely what makes them impossible to shop for!

I've searched high and low to find the best, most unique, items to share with you. Hopefully it'll help you come up with some ideas of your own for the men in your life! All of the stores listed have awesome deals for the holiday season - the prices listed are all regular prices, so be sure to check out the discounts!

November 25, 2014

Pretty Party Ready Pixies! Pixie Hair Accessories with Sparkle

When you have super short hair, it's easy to feel like there aren't any ways to make your hair look special for a party. I fall into a rut and my hair ALWAYS looks the same!

This year for the holidays, I want to change it up and add a bit of sparkle. I've looked all around the web to find some pretty party looks that you can pull off - even with super short pixie hair!

It's all about adding  a pretty headband, hair clip, or barrette to make your look special. Here are some of my favorite looks!

November 24, 2014

Keeping Warm This Fall & Winter: Layer It On with ModCloth!

The best way to stay comfortable when the weather is changing is to dress in LAYERS. When you're out running errands you want to be able to add layers and take them off again as needed.

There's a trick to layering your clothes and not looking like a bag lady! They key is to choose pieces that are lightweight, not bulky, and pile them on! Start with a tee or tank as a base layer, add a long sleeve tee or turtleneck, then top it off with a jacket or sweater (check out the wonderful selection of sweaters from ModCloth here!) and all of your cold weather accessories.

ModCloth has an awesome selection of all kinds of layers. (and they have great sales, too!)  Here are a few suggested outfits you could try!

November 20, 2014

Old Purse into New Wall Pockets: Craft Inspo for DIY Wall Pockets

I am forever losing things. I swear my mom was right - I'd lose my head if it wasn't attached.

This time of year the LAST thing that I want to lose is those awesome discount offers that come in the mail! $10 off here, 20% off there, it all adds up in a big way!

I remembered that I saw a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Justina Blakeney, for these adorable little wall pockets that she made, so I thought I'd give them a go myself and see what I could do.

One of my big, slouchy handbags had seen better days and I purposely set it aside for the day when I would cut it up for a project just like this one. I'm pretty happy with the way these little guys came together!

They're not as good as the one's that inspired them, of course... I should have pulled up that pic BEFORE I started - not after! Anyhow, here's the wall pockets that SHE made, and how I made mine!

November 18, 2014

High - Low Gifts: Accessories from Sundance Catalog & World Market

One of my favorite things to do when I'm shopping for gifts is to find the best stuff for the least possible amount of money, and I'm pretty good at it. Not to brag, but if scouting out the best bargains was a sport, you might say that I'm an all-star!

World Market is one of my go-to stores for great imported items at the best prices. Sundance Catalog has the most drool-worthy handmade goods ever and I LOVE everything they offer! As I was shopping, I couldn't help but compare some of their products because they appear quite similar! The main difference is the price!

November 14, 2014

Never Say "I Have Nothing to Wear!" Again

If you're like me, you have a closet full of clothes, (too many clothes!) and you have nothing to wear.
If you're like me, when you get something new you wear it like crazy for a few weeks, then it goes into the depths of your closet... never to be seen again.

If you're like me, you get overwhelmed when you shop for clothes and end up not finding anything.
If you're like me, fit is always an issue but you hate trying clothes on in the store. If you're like me, you are super frugal when it comes to shopping and don't like to pay a lot for your clothes.

If you're like me, you are going to love LE TOTE. It's unlimited clothing rentals - UNLIMITED - for one monthly fee. It's like Netflix, but for clothes! You can try it right now - FREE - and you get a $10 credit to buy anything you'd like!

How does it work? I'm glad you asked!

November 13, 2014

Gifts for Co-Workers, Colleagues, Office Mates with IDEAS UNDER $25

Co-workers can be very difficult to shop for. You want to give a small gift, but it's always a slippery slope and difficult to know if it's acceptable to give a gift for your boss, your assistant, etc. 

Some companies frown on gifts for the boss. If you're new to the company, or just not sure what to do, it's always best to ask someone what others have done in the past.  

Regardless, always keep gifts for the boss priced appropriately for your salary, and make sure that your gift isn't too personal or too lavish. You don't want to appear as though you're trying to buy your way into good graces! 

November 11, 2014

Great Gifts for Pets! (and for pet lovers, too!)

Our pets aren't REALLY spoiled rotten... but they know that they are loved! Okay. They're spoiled rotten. Especially the "puppy" that's now 1 year old and over 50 pounds, but still thinks she's a lap dog.

She's HILARIOUS! When she gets a new toy she gets so excited that she can barely stand it! She hops around and makes it squeak and runs around like crazy. Adorable!

Needless to say, all 4 of our pets are on my Christmas list this year! Here are some of the most awesome awesome ideas that I've found.

If you have a pet (or a pet lover) in your life, I know they'll love these great gifts for the holidays!

November 8, 2014

5 Ways to Feel Beautiful Instead of Frazzled This Christmas Season! {Self-Care Saturday}

from CBS this morning interview 11/7/14
I saw this interview on CBS yesterday morning with Carlos Santana and was blown away by so many things he said, but I actually stopped and wrote down the quote, "Once in a while it's important, it's ok, to look in the mirror and say, man, I'm delicious. I'm fine." It made me think... when was the last time I looked in the mirror and thought that I looked great?

During the holidays, it's especially important to take great care of yourself. It can be SO easy to let the season get the best of you.

Yet the more you have to do, the more likely you are to let taking care of yourself slide to the bottom of your list.

When you're running around, would you rather be looking a wreck and feeling frazzled - OR - looking pulled together, and feeling beautiful?

November 7, 2014

5 Tips to Make Designing Your Holiday Photo Cards Easier

I love receiving all of the photo cards from friends and family every year at Christmas.

I save all of the cards that we get in the mail. I pack them up every year with all of the rest of the holiday decorations and don't even think about them again until I dig everything out to start decorating. It always amazes me how much the kids change as the years go by!

Preparing to send those holiday cards, I know, can be incredibly stressful! Shopping for clothes, finding just the right location to have the pics taken, getting the family dressed up and ready for a photo session, then selecting the photos where everyone looks good, selecting the design that works best with the photos you have - WHEW!

Here are 5 things that you can do to make designing your holiday photo cards easier on yourself this year, plus a money saving offer from!

November 6, 2014

A Greek Holiday Feast! Baklava Recipe :: It's All Greek to Me Cookbook GIVEAWAY!

I've hosted many Christmas Eve dinners, and for several years, I prepared a Greek themed feast for my guests. I'd prepare mezze, followed by kebabs, shrimp saganaki, spanikopita, lots of salad, lots of wine, and of course - baklava for dessert. You can read more about hosting a Greek themed dinner in my book "Creating A Beautiful Little Christmas!"

When I was given an opportunity by BenBella Books to review a cookbook called "It's All Greek to Me," I jumped at the chance! "It's All Greek to Me" has an amazing baklava recipe that I'm sharing with you here. Did I say AMAZING? Because the phyllo is rolled instead of laid out flat in a pan it's incredibly flaky and light!

November 4, 2014

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like... CHRISTMAS!

It's NOVEMBER! Everywhere I look I see Christmas! Is it just me, or is it happening earlier and earlier all the time?
I have to say, there is a FIRE lit under me to get things done to finalize revisions on my book, "Creating A Beautiful Little Christmas." Although I still have a ton to do, I'm crossing more and more off the list every day.

Soon, it's going to be ALL CHRISTMAS - ALL THE TIME around here! I have awesome posts planned for the holiday season, including unique and handmade gift ideas, gluten-free and paleo recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas, updating your winter style, awesome giveaways and SO much more! 

October 31, 2014

Customize Your Holiday Table with CREATE UR PLATE!

I received a discount on my purchase from CREATE UR PLATE as a blogger affiliate. All opinions are mine! One of the best things about being a blogger is being one of the first to know about awesome new products, and when I was given the opportunity to try CREATE UR PLATE for the upcoming season, I was SO excited! 

The idea isn't new... people have been using mod podge to put images and fabric on glass plates for years. The technology IS new. These aren't pictures that you glue on. They are printed, removable decals that you can use on glass plates OR PLASTIC DISPOSABLE PLATES, remove, and use again and again! 

I just received mine and I have had a blast playing around with table settings for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Scroll down to see what I chose for my patterns, AND now through November 27th, take 25% off your order at Create UR Plate using the code TURKEY25 at checkout! Check it out & create your own designs!

October 28, 2014

Decorate With Nature This Fall: DIY Decor with Twigs!

We have had a large, broken branch hanging by a thread for the last year on our big ash tree in the back yard - and on Saturday it finally fell! Thankfully it didn't fall on the pooches because they were both outside at the time.

You may have seen my post a few weeks ago on using sticks as fire starters, but this time I wanted to do something different with the many sticks I now have.

I decided to do a little WINTER decorating! Come on... everywhere you look there is Christmas stuff. It's almost time to "fall back" AND the weather is definitely getting chilly here in Minne-SNOW-ta.

I made twig stars and evergreen bundles with some berry accents from another tree in our yard. Pine cones were added so that I can put peanut butter and birdseed on them for the birds this winter. All tied up with some garden twine!

October 25, 2014

Boost Your Immunity This Fall with Organic Avenue! {Self-Care Saturday}

I've been trying to clean up my diet - cutting back on processed food, eating less sugar and more fruits and vegetables - but it's hard to get all of the nutrients that your body needs to protect itself from viruses and infections. Even on my best eating days, I know that I'm not getting enough.

I recently found out about Organic Avenue, a "plant-based grab and go retailer." Organic Avenue's stores are designed to inspire and enable healthy living - I only wish that there was a location here in the MINNE-apple to go with all of their locations in the BIG apple! Thank goodness they ship their juices, boosters, and cleanses because I am their newest, biggest fan! 

October 24, 2014

10 Lightened Up Comfort Desserts for Chilly Fall Nights

When colder weather rolls around, I CRAVE warm desserts - like bread pudding, warm tapioca with whipped cream, apple crisp with vanilla ice cream, and warm, decadent brownies.

I crave them a little bit TOO much! I've been really packing on the pounds over the last few years and not feeling great about myself and how my body is looking these days... leading me to hit the web in search of some light, comforting dessert recipes! My criteria - low(er) in calories, include some healthy ingredients, and/or light versions of classic favorites.

Just so you know... there are no artificial sweeteners, egg replacement or funky stuff in these recipes. They are definitely not calorie free, but they ARE better than the originals.

Here are my top 10 finds!

October 21, 2014

Thrift Shop Ceramic Owl Makeover! DIY Home Decor

When I brought this ceramic owl home from the thrift shop, my husband thought I was totally crazy! Let's face it... it's ugly.

But if you could look past the creepy painted eyes, it had a cute little face! Plus, it had a pink tag so it was 50% off of the original $5.99 price tag.

It definitely needed some paint to bring it back to life. I decided to pile on the layers until it looked just right - and the result was better than I could have ever imagined!

October 18, 2014

FALL FATIGUE: 6 Reasons Why it Happens and How to Deal With It {Self-Care Saturday}

When my sister lived in California, she used to laugh at me when I would complain about feeling lethargic, fatigued, achy, and overall like GARBAGE, and then blame it on the changing seasons. Years later, after having made the move back to Minnesota, she would say, "I know that I used to laugh at you, but..."

Our local CBS affiliate did a story on "Why We Feel More Tired When The Seasons Change"
and when I saw the teaser for it I felt so - - - VALIDATED! But their bit was short, and the answer they gave (IMHO) didn't do justice to how crappy so many people feel. I couldn't help but think that there had to be more to it than changes in the amount of sunlight and how much sleep we're getting - and I was absolutely right!

October 16, 2014

Oh MANGO... How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways!

cashmere wool blend cape $89.99
One of my favorite fashion brands out there that recently launched a plus sized line with sizes up to a 20, a performance line of athletic wear, AND they still have the most incredible style at a decent price! Yes, I'm talking about MANGO.

MANGO Violeta is the same high-quality you would expect from MANGO with awesome styles. Brace yourself though - this PLUS SIZE line has sizes that start at size 8 and go up to a size 20.

Wait, what?! Size 8 is PLUS SIZE? Daaaaang. Ok. Take a deep breath and try to remember: When was the last time was that you put a size XS in your cart? An XS is an 8 and an XL is a 20. What comes in between, I'm not sure, so be sure that you check out their size chart, but DO visit MANGO Violeta online, check out the coats, (on sale now) the casual dresses, and the knitwear. FABULOUS!

October 13, 2014

7 Fabulous New {GLUTEN-FREE} Cookbooks for Fall!

Orange & Pepita Granola from
YumUniverse (recipe included!)
If you are living a gluten-free lifestyle, it can be difficult to find simple, satisfying, gluten-free recipes for you and your family... but it's just gotten a whole lot easier!

There are 7 (Yes, SEVEN!) great new cookbooks that you MUST SEE before the holidays if you are living the GF lifestyle! There are so many great recipes here - from decadent desserts to savory  appetizers to hearty sweet potato gnocchi - you'll definitely find some fresh, new, gluten-free recipe ideas to add to your rotation!

Special thanks to the publishers of these great books for providing me with review copies at no cost through, especially BenBella Books (publisher of YumUniverse) for providing the recipe for Orange & Pepita Granola for you to try!

October 9, 2014

Man's Best Friend? A Dog Is A WOMAN'S Best Friend!

 photo Maggie4_zps8de004aa.jpgThis post brought to you by Purina®. The content and opinions expressed below are that of

For a woman, especially a single woman, a dog is a best friend, a companion, and a fierce protector! Remember when Sandra Bullock had that creepy stalker break into her home while she was there? She went face to face with him just outside her bedroom door! When I saw that report on the news, the first thing that came to mind is WHERE WERE HER DOGS? There is no way anyone could get into this house without me knowing it. There is no way anyone can walk past this house outside without me knowing it!

October 8, 2014

Shoptober for Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

I've personally selected some of the most special items available for a limited time during the month of October to support BREAST CANCER AWARENESS!

When you purchase any of the following items, you help give free mammograms to those who cannot afford one, you help care for sisters that are battling breast cancer, and you support research to help find a cure for breast cancer. Does it get any better than that? 

October 7, 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Today Show #PinkPower T-Shirt Available Now!

To support Joan Lunden, who is battling breast cancer, the TODAY family kicked off a special #PinkPower series for October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They invited breast cancer survivors to stand with them on Rockefeller Plaza, all wearing #PinkPower t-shirts. Viewers responded with overwhelming support and flooded their in-boxes with inquiries about purchasing these shirts.

In partnership with, a not-for-profit organization that serves as a trusted source of medical information and guidance for people whose lives have been touched by breast cancer, the NBCUniversal Store is proud to make the #PinkPower t-shirt available.

The Only Fall Jacket You Need!

Burberry Brit "Copford" Quilted Jacket
Everything old really IS new again! I remember that my grandma had a quilted jacket like this... and take a look at one of the most beautiful, practical, trendy and "normal" looks for fall.

The lightweight quilted jacket is really the only jacket you need for fall. It can be dressed up, dressed down, and worn with absolutely anything!

Wear your quilted jacket with a skirt and boots to work, jeans and a classic white shirt for brunch, jeans and knee high boots to run errands. Flats, heels, boots - no matter what the occasion you are good to go!

The Burberry Brit jacket on the left retails for $595, but there are quilted fall jackets in every price range - in every color - and cut in different styles.

October 2, 2014

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - 4 Things You Can Do BESIDES Buying Pink Stuff

    You've probably seen the pink ribbons... October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! I know that every time I turn around there is a special something that is for sale - available in the color pink - for a limited time and with a percentage of the sale price going to support breast cancer research, patients, education, etc. 

    But I don't always want to just BUY something, for a variety of reasons. I can't always afford it. If it's not something that I need or love, I don't want to bring it home - no matter what color it is. I'm trying to clear out clutter, not add to it! But I do want to do my part to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  What's a gal to do? 

    I decided to do some research and come up with ways that we can all make Breast Cancer Awareness Month meaningful without spending a dime buying pink "stuff" that we don't really need. Here's my list of 4 things:

    October 1, 2014

    Guide to Autumn Reading: Curl Up With a Good Book!

    Here are my picks for some of the best, new books this fall. When the weather turns chilly, it doesn't get much better than curling up with a good book - and you can't go wrong with any of these great reads!

    There are a lot of really dark tales out there this fall and I didn't want to only feature that type of book. If you're into that sort of thing, you might also check out "Voyage of Strangers" and "The French Executioner" - both are excellent but not featured here.

    What are you reading this fall? Leave a note for me in the "comments" section of this post and I'll let folks know!

    September 27, 2014

    7 Tips for a More Peaceful Home {Self-Care Saturday}

    When I say "peaceful home" what comes to mind? Some might think of a Zen sanctuary, a retreat center, or a friends house that always seems quiet and inviting. Often times our own homes aren't places that we consider to be peaceful! Why? Because we LIVE THERE! 

    Living in a home causes all kinds of activity! Seldom are we able to spend a day at home doing nothing but relaxing or reading a book without someone or something interrupting our peace. That doesn't mean that you can't work to make your home more peaceful than it feels now! Here are seven great tips that I found on how you can make your home more peaceful.

    September 25, 2014

    Five, Six, Pick Up Sticks: Getting Ready for Fireplace Fires

    All summer long, we pick up sticks. Our neighborhood is full of big, beautiful trees. It's one of the things that I love the most about it!

    Back to sticks. We pick them up after a storm blows through. We pick them up before we mow the lawn. We pick them up after the dog drags them to the middle of the yard and puts them in a pile. Sometimes we pick them up from the neighbors yard and throw them over the fence into our yard.

    We burn them in our fire pit. We pile them up next to the shed. This year, I decided to put them to good use!

    After the finger incident of 2013 where I smashed my finger in a wood splitter, we BOUGHT our firewood for the winter this year. What we are lacking is the kindling wood that you need for starting fires. Hmmm...

    September 24, 2014

    12 GIN-SPIRING Recipes for Fall: Warming, Comforting Ginger

    There are so many tasty and healthy ways to enjoy the warming, comforting spice ginger!

    Here in the United States, it's mostly known for adding a little zip to cookings and soda, but worldwide it's a staple ingredient used in cooking and more.

    Ginger is the perfect spice to warm your body when the air starts to get chilly in the fall, but it's so much more than that! Ginger helps maintain normal blood circulation, helps prevent colds and flu, improves digestion, reduces pain and inflammation, and can strengthen overall immunity.

    Here are some of my favorite ginger recipes from the web. Must try: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, Apple Ginger Smash Cocktail, Ginger Chai Tea, and Ultimate Ginger Cookies.

    September 22, 2014

    Love Your Pets? Take the Paws for Life Pledge!

    Love Your Pets? Take the Pledge!
    This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Purina® for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

    I write SO often on this blog about living a healthier lifestyle - why wouldn't we all choose to do the same for our pets?

    Sometimes our house feels like a total zoo, but we wouldn't trade our critters for anything! We have 2 cats, (Gypsy and Snowball) and 2 dogs (Copper and Maggie) that are absolutely a part of our family!

    September 20, 2014

    September 18, 2014

    5 Years of Fall Fashion: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 Fall Fashion

    Fashion trends come and go, but fashion designers tend to have a certain look to their designs that they adapt to meet current trends year after year. That has never been more evident than it is now. I thought I'd share some images from fall fashion runways from 2010, fall fashion runway images from 2011, fall fashion 2012 runway show images, 2013 fall fashion trend images, and 2014 fall fashion runway images. Images are from top fashion designers that are household names - Calvin Klein, Diane Von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la RentaMichael Kors, Ralph Lauren,  and Narciso Rodriguez.

    September 16, 2014

    A Softer Haircut for Fall 2014 - Fringe - Pixie - Bob

    It's September and there's a bit of a chill here in Minnesota. This time of year is so strange. No matter where you go, there are people wearing flip-flops and shorts, there are people wearing boots and sweaters, and there are people wearing actual coats! All at the same place on the same day! Fall fashion at it's finest in the Midwest!

    My favorite REAL trends for fall are soft, pretty, a little boho, 70's inspired, rich in color and texture, and full of fun! How do you translate those qualities into a head to toe look? A super cute pixie cut with a softer edge. 

    September 12, 2014

    Happy Friday {Do More of What Makes You Happy} NYFW

    Happy Friday all! Isn't it amazing how quickly the weeks go by? I can't believe that it's the middle of September. The older you get, the faster time seems to fly.

    Fall is such a time of transition. As the blossoms fade and the leaves start changing it's hard to believe that another summer is gone.

    That's why I've come to realize that you have to be thankful for every moment you have. You have to make sure that you take time every day to do something that makes you happy. You have to make sure that you are doing what's right for you and making the very best of what you've got!

    For us introverts it's a gift to be able to stay home and curl up in the evenings with a book or magazine, to watch a movie instead of taking a walk, to crawl into bed under the covers instead of cranking up the air conditioning. I can never wait for "sweater weather" to arrive, but now that it's here I'm in a bit of shock!

    September 9, 2014

    Brew Your Own Kombucha at Home! Save Big $$

    Why spend $6 a bottle at Whole Foods for your favorite brew when you can easily and inexpensively make your own kombucha right in your own kitchen?

    I've been brewing my own "booch" for a few months now and I thought I'd share some basic information on how you can do the same!

    The reported health benefits of drinking kombucha tea are plentiful, from clearing up stomach problems to alleviating arthritis pain. I'm not going to go into great details about that in this post, but for a great explanation on what kombucha IS and why you might want to drink it, there is a ton of information on

    Back to brewing the booch!