Sunday, September 25, 2016

Outdoor Entertaining

Living in northwest Wisconsin means you spend a lot of time outside.  We don't have many big cities nearby, but we have plenty of woods, water, and nature to enjoy.  Two weekends ago, I went geocaching with some girl friends and we had way more fun than any of expected.  This week we got together for a campfire and to try out some new marshmallow roasting sticks.

Campfire Collage

Since we got together after work, I wanted to make something quick and tasty for supper.  So, we roasted some veggies in the coals.  I had gotten everything cut up in the morning, so when my friends arrived, I was able to just lay everything out on a tray and let people assemble their packets.  I used precooked sausages, but you can use hamburger or hotdogs or whatever you like.  I also precooked my potatoes because I wanted to be sure they would be done in time.  I also used julienne carrots, shredded cabbage, onions, parsley, basil, and chives.  But, you could add mushrooms, cauliflower and whatever other veggies you desire.  You simple pile your selection on to a sheet of aluminum foil, add a little butter, salt, pepper, whatever you like.  Then tightly wrap it up and bury it in your campfire.

We only roasted ours for about fifteen minutes and as you can see, it was cooked through.  Size of packets and fire temp will definitely affect your cooking time, you also need to be sure your meat is cooked if you use something like raw hamburger.  There's something about cooking your food over a fire that makes it extra tasty!  I'm hoping to get a couple more campfires in before the snow falls.

For dessert, smores, of course!  But, I wanted to fancy it up a little, so I decided to go beyond just Hershey bars and grams.  I also had mini Mounds bars, Rolos, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Brownie Brittle and gluten free crackers.  It was fun trying different combinations and I ate way too many marshmallows.  Tripworthy sent me a box of their roasting sticks to try.  They're telescoping, so they fold up small and have a handy little carrying case.  My first impression was that they didn't feel super sturdy, but I was wrong, they held up great to a night of roasting and the handles are nice and smooth.  While you can buy stronger sticks, they don't fold up and these worked perfectly.  If you do a lot of camping away from home, these are worth a look due to their travel friendliness.

So, what's your favorite thing to roast over your campfire?  Let me know in the comments below.

I received these roasting sticks from Tripworthy in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How to Diffuse Essential Oils- Two Ways

So, if you have any interest in essential oils, I'm sure you've seen those nifty little, electric oil diffusers.  They're great and Amazon sells tons of different styles- ones that look like rocks, ones that have color changing lights, different shapes.  But, what if you're not sure you want to invest in a diffuser?

If you're just getting started playing around with essential oils, you can find soapstone oil diffusers that use candles  for under $10 at Walmart.  You use a tealight candle to heat your essential oil solution and provide yummy, clean smell wherever you need it.  Just, add water to your diffuser's basin, mix in oils of your choice and place a lighted tea candle inside your diffuser.  The heat will help the scent permeate the room.

Using a Candle Diffuser

For a little fancier way to get some natural scent into your living space, you can heat some herbs or fruits and essential oils on the stove top.

Stovetop Diffusing

It's September so fall is coming.  That means it's time to put away flowery scents and switch to citruses and spice.  Bergamont is a great citrusy scent.  It's uplifting, and supposed to relieve anxiety.  It's one of my favorites.  Here's two ways to diffuse it.

Candle Diffuser
10 drops bergamont
5 drops clove
Mix with water in the diffuser, light your candle and enjoy the fresh fall scent.

Stovetop Diffuser
10 drops bergamont
1 sliced lemon (or orange)
1 cinnamon stick
Place in a kettle on the stovetop, simmer on low.

Regardless of which method you use, be sure to keep an eye on them.  If you end up letting all your water evaporate off, you could wreck your soapstone diffuser or end up with burnt lemon and cinnamon stick in your kettle.

I received this bottle of essential oils for free from Tomoson in exchange for an honest review, but all thoughts are my own.  If you are interested in purchasing your own bottle, you can find them on Amazon, currently for $14.50.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September Goals and August Recap

We're already 13 days in to September!  It's crazy!  And I'm finally getting around to posting them.  Ugh!  But, I did have them made at the beginning of the month and met with my goals group already, things were just busy at the beginning of the month here on the blog.  So, let's jump right into how August went...

August Goals
  • Reestablish morning routine.  Doing better but still not there.  This is going to be really important with starting the new job and being back to working a day shift.
  • Start back with morning pages.  Ah no.  Like not at all.
  • Walk at least three times a week.  Another big fat no.
  •  Clean eating.  I maybe did a little better, but still have a long ways to go to get that back under control.
  • Sew twenty things for the upcoming craft fair.  Yes!  And have more ready to go!
  • Read six books.  Nope.  Only read three.
  • Four creative excursions.  Yes!  Went kayaking by myself, and spent three different days with three different friends.  Plus, took a little hike on a new trail with my baby brother, so I think this one went pretty well.
  • More blog posts.  I was aiming for twenty, but ended with fifteen, which was still my best month in 2016.

Here's what I'm to do this month:

  • Set weekly goals.  I think I'll do better with my monthly goals if I have a weekly attack plan.
  • Quiet time and exercise before turning the computer on.  I have a habit of turning on the computer and then getting sucked in for hours, neglecting things like my morning routine.  I think this will help turn that around.
  • Exercise three times a week. 
  • Read four books.
  • Twenty blog posts.  I came so close last month that I really want to see if I can do it this month.
  • Sew twenty things.  If I can make twenty things each month before the craft fair, my table will be well stocked.
  • Start Christmas shopping.  At the very least, make a list.  I want to be done with my shopping by December 1 so I can actually enjoy Christmas and all the festivities and not be stressed with shopping.
  • Gratitude journal or morning pages.  Aim to do one or the other each day.
So that's my September goals.  And don't forget to check out the link up over at My So Called Chaos to see what everyone else is working on this month!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Books n Bloggers Reveal with Jenni King!

Here it is!  The reveal of all the awesomeness my Books n Bloggers partner sent me.  First off, a little recap:  Books n Bloggers is hosted by the amazing ladies over at Chaotic Goddess Swaps.  This time around I was paired with the amazing Jenni King.  You can see her YouTube review of my package here.

I was so excited when I saw her package sitting on my doorstep Tuesday morning, and when I opened it, I was even more excited.

I love unwrapping books!  It helps keep the mystery going as long as possible.

So, of course I had to dive right in and rip off the papers.  Let's take a quick look at the extra treats she sent first. 

  • We have some some coffee from a local shop that smells amazing.  I can't wait to finish the bag I'm on so I can try it.  
  • Also some adorable little kitty toys that the two brat cats were quite interested in.  HB likes to carry stuff around in his mouth and these are the perfect size for that.
  • And some awesome washi tape.  I use washi for card making, envelope sealing, gift wrapping, and journaling so I'm looking forward to trying out these beauties.

And as for books.  She sent me some amazing picks!

  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette was added to my wish list based on a review from someone I can't recall now.  It may have been Beth from Printcess but I can't recall.  Jenni has read this and gave it five stars!  And I see the author has also wrote for Arrested Development, which is one of my all time favorite shows, so that makes me all the keener (or is it more keen, I don't know), to read it!
  • Burial Rites has only recently popped on to my radar.  Lindsey's Library reviewed it in July and gave it five stars, and Jenni said she loved it as well and thought it looked like it'd be right up my alley, so now I'm eager to give it a try.  It's a historical mystery set in Iceland.  Uhm, yeah, I think it's safe to say I'll be enjoying this one!
  • A Tale for the Time Being is one Jenni hasn't read but thought it looked interesting and I would enjoy based on past reads.  It takes place in Japan and involves the finding of a lost journal washed up on te beach and the mystery of finding its owner.  I'm always trying to stretch out of my comfort zone of reading books set in the US and Europe, so looking forward to this one as well!  
So, I had a great time swapping with Jenni! She sent me such lovely books and coffee and washi tape and cat toys!  Totally spoiled me.  It's all right in my wheelhouse and I really enjoyed her channel!  She's engaging and fun and gives great reviews.  You should definitely check her out.  Also, don't forget to head over to Chaotic Goddess Swaps to see the link up and check out the books everyone else got in their swaps.   

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

September Reading List

Guess what!  I finally finished Silas Marner.  And I don't feel like I was missing out on anything by waiting until I was in my thirties to read it.  It's a nice little story, but I don't know if I'm missing a bunch of subtext and hidden meaning, or what, it just really didn't do much for me.  But, the good news is that I can finally get to some of the other books on my to be read list.  Here's what I'm hoping to read this month.

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith.  If this looks familiar, it's because it was on my to be read list last September.  I really want to watch the movie on Netflix, but not until I read the book, so fingers crossed, it's going to happen this month.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.  This is my classic pick for the month.  To be frank, after all the fun I had with Silas Marner, I'm not really looking forward to this one, so if you've read it and enjoyed it, please give me some encouragement,

An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina is also a repeat.  It was on my list in October of 2015.  But now that I've finally finished We Wish to Inform You... I really want to read Paul's story.  He's the gentleman that Hotel Rwanda was based on.  He did amazing things that he viewed as just doing the right thing.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown was scrounged up at Goodwill.  I've listened to some TED Talks Brown has done and an interview here and there, so I'm excited to read this one.

So what's on your reading list this month?  Or did you read something good last month?  Let me know!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday- TV Shows of My Childhood

Top Ten Tuesday this week is actually not book related at all but TV.  So, in honor of it being back to school time and all, I'm going to share ten of my favorite shows from my school age years. Now, I graduated in 2001, so all these have been off the air for quite some time, but they deserve a trip down memory lane.

Let's get started... in chronological order:

MacGyver (1985-1992)- Loved Macgyver!  He could fight off bad guys with a paper clip, chewing gum, and a lighter.  I'm pretty sure I didn't understand a lot of the episode since I was 9 when it went off the air, but I really liked it all the same.  My mom tells how I used to get excited when it came on every week.  I actually bought my brother season one for Christmas a few years back and we had fun watching it.  It was cheesier than we remembered, but still fun.

The Wonder Years (1988-1993)- I was pretty young when this show started, and I didn't even realize it was set in the 1960s and 1970s until after it was off the air.  But something about Kevin and Winnie and Arnold, I just loved.

Saved by the Bell (1989-1993)- I spent many a Saturday morning watching this.  Some of the shine has faded as the actors grew up and you hear horror stories of how the cast was behind the scenes, but at the time I loved Jesse and Zach.  They were definitely my favorites.

Family Matters (1989-1998)- Ah Family Matters.  Cranky Carl, dorky Steve, suave Stefan.  TGIF was always my favorite block of TV programing.  I loved Step by Step, Full House, all of them.

SeaQuest DSV (1993-1996)- Perhaps the first sci-fi show I loved.  It didn't hurt that it had Tiger Beat heart throb Jonathan Brandis in it, playing the child genius who communicated with a dolphin.

Boy Meets World (1993-2000)- Another TGIF show.  This had my other childhood crush, Rider Strong.  I still haven't seen Girl Meets World.

Animaniacs (1993-1998)- The only cartoon to make the list.  I remember thinking this was hilarious.  There was usually a Pinky and the Brain sketch in each episode, which were always my favorites- two lab rats who were bent on taking over the world.  Brain was smarter than a normal lab rate and Pinky was his English accented, dopey side kick.

The X-Files (1993-2016)- Moulder and Scully.  The perfect team.  I had to sneak episodes of this one because my mom was convinced it was too scary/evil for me to watch.  Scully rocks an amazing assortment of pant suits and Moulder has some of the widest ties I've ever seen.  They were cool and funny and took turns saving each other.  I really wanted to be Scully and work with Moulder when I grew up.

The Pretender (1996-2000)- A young man escapes from The Center, where he's spent his whole life.  He's a genius and uses his talents to help people who have been wronged, all while running from goons The Center sends after him.  What's not to love.

Roar (1997)- If you enjoyed Hercules or Xena, this show would have been right up your alley.  It was only on for one year, and starred Heath Ledger, before anyone knew who Heath Ledger as the lead.  Vera Farmiga played one of his sidekicks.  It was at the height of Riverdance and the popularity of all things Celtic.  I used to tape the episodes on VHS and watch them again and again, and was very heartbroken it wasn't picked up after it's initial season.

So do you remember any of these? Or what shows did you always watch when you were in school?  Drop me a comment below and check out everyone's tv themed list.

Monday, September 5, 2016

August Book Recap

So August wasn't the good reading month I was aiming for.  I did find some new treats but as for reading, I'm really getting hung up with Silas Marner and Gracious Living in a New World.  I'm hoping to finally finish both those this month, and get on to some more fun reading.

Here's what I read in August:

A Jane Austen Devotional by Steffany Woolsey- I used this one in my daily quiet time.  It used a passage from Jane Austen and tied it to a virtue.  I really liked it, and it made me want to read the Austen novels I haven't yet, and reread the ones I've already read.

48 Days to Work You Love by Dan Miller- I read this one at the start of my job odyssey and it was really interesting, and motivating.  It has the usual job looking resources like resumes and cover letters, but what made this book stand apart is that it focused on changing career changes or finding a fulfilling side hustle.  If you are at a career crossroads, or just feel as if you're not sure what you're supposed to do with your life, I really recommend this book.

30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs compiled by Bruce Wilkinson- This book started out really promising, then lagged in the middle, then ended well.  It has thirty chapters and each one was written by a different Christian author and focused on an aspect and how improving it would help lead to a spiritual breakthrough in your life. 

What I acquired in August:
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie- A classic recommended by 48 Days to Work You Love.

The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesteron- Anytime I find a used Chesterton, which is not very, I pick it up.

The Power of Prayer in a Believer's Life by Charles Haddon Spurgeon- Another classic to add to my study on prayer.

A Pocket Guide to the Stars and Planets by Duncan John- Another Bookmooch find.  I've been looking for a book that will help me learn to identify the constellations.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes- This was reviewed by Beth on Printcess.  I was intrigued and added it to my wish list on Bookmooch, and wouldn't you know it, a copy came up just a few weeks later.  So I snapped it up.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley- Another classic.

Run to the Mountain by Thomas Merton- I stumbled across this one at the thrift store, and wasn't so sure about it, but for a dollar, I figured it was worth checking out.  I'm not Catholic, but I seem to be drawn to books about Catholic saints, monks, and authors.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker- This is another one that I've seen other bloggers ooh and ahh over, so when I found a copy at Goodwill for half price, I snapped it up.

2016 Year to Date:
Read: 28
Acquired: 39

Sunday, September 4, 2016

August So Far...

Yep, I realize it's September now, but the end of the month turned into a big whirlwind of emotions and things.

Word to Describe the Month: Frazzled.  I was put on call A LOT in September.  Like 25 out of 40 hours some weeks.  Not being at work isn't the end of the world, it's the uncertainty of not knowing if you're going to get called in or not.  Like, I would be in the middle of making dinner and then have pull something out of the oven, because I had to go in.  Or I'd debate chancing mowing my lawn and hope they didn't call me in.

Then, I had a week of vacation near the end of the month and I had all sorts of plans of things to get done, but instead I was this frazzly mess trying to figure out if I should stick it out at the hospital or apply for another job.  I live in a tiny little town.  Jobs are not plentiful here.  I've been at the hospital for almost nine years.  But, I finally pulled the trigger and applied for a different job, had an interview, and got the job.  I was sick to my stomach right up until it was time to leave the house.  And then, once I got there and we went over everything I felt like it was totally the right decision and just at ease about it all.  I've given my notice at the hospital and start the new job on September 12.  So, while most of the month felt frazzled, it's ended well and I'm looking forward to something new!

Watching: With all the on call time spent sitting around at home, I watched Jessica Jones and Stranger Things on Netflix.  And loved both.  Note: You don't have to love comic books to love Jessica Jones and if you love the 1980s, and a show that's a cross between Stand by Me and It, you need to watch Stranger Things.

Mornings are for Coffee and Contemplation

Working on:  A lot of sewing.  It was a crazy productive sewing month.  I lost count but I know I finished well over twenty things, which was my goal.  I have a lot of blog posts in mind for September and some new projects in the works.

Looking forward to: A new job.  Wearing something besides scrubs!  Not working holidays and only one Saturday morning a month.  No nights.  I don't know if I'm going to know what to do. Also, the NFL starts back up next weekend.  We had our fantasy football draft last week and it went really well.  Yahoo ranked my draft as the best, so I've been talking smack to my husband all the time.  He beats me every year, but I think this may be my year!  And, finally getting my goals back on track.  It's been kind of a rough last few months!  Masterminds meets today, so looking forward to getting back on track.

August in photos:

Pictures clockwise, starting from the top: My parents dog, Cora, she's almost nine months old now.  Spent one of my days off driving in the hills near my town; love this lake.  Sunflowers at my parents house.  They have rows and rows on the edge of their field.  And, a little bridge my brother and I found when we were checking out a little trail in town.

Hope your August went well!  Did you do anything fun or exciting?  Any big plans for September?