Archive for the ‘My Work’ Category

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium ($50 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway!)

Monday, April 18th, 2016

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

This post is sponsored by EcoScraps. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that help support our site! 

As regular readers know, I have a black thumb. I have never been successful at growing anything and my lawn can prove it. When I discovered succulents though, my world finally got a little greener. Succulents are my kind of plants because they are so low maintenance and they don’t require a lot of water. Today I want to show you how to make a succulent terrarium and how I made it as budget-friendly as possible.

Oh, and did I mention a $50 Walmart Gift Card giveaway?

Sweet!

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

We are going to be making our succulent terrariums with a new product that is on the shelves at Walmart called EcoScraps. I’m so excited to share about it because the company’s mission is so awesome and really aligns with our family values. EcoScraps recycles food scraps and turns them into organic and sustainable lawn and garden products. They recycle by collecting wasted food from from stores and restaurants and convert it all into natural garden products. 

Between 2011 and 2015, EcoScraps has recycled 75 million lbs of food waste! They are matching that number in 2016 with projected recycling of another 75 million lbs of food waste–this time in just 12 months.

Before they contacted me, you may recall, I was all fired up about food waste after watching the documentary, Just Eat It, on Amazon Prime and chatting about it on my 3 Little Things list. Our family is REALLY trying to do better with our food waste and have been making it a big focus during the week to eat the food we purchase and not throw it away.

You can TRULY make a significant difference in the food waste crisis by simply changing some of your shopping habits. Did you know that bagged salad, for instance, is one of the #1 foods wasted? Doing things like buying bagged salads only on the days you plan to use them is a GREAT way to reduce the food waste in your home. Simple switches will do so much for our world.  You can find out more on the EcoScraps website and find their products on Walmart shelves now!

Now that you know the company’s mission, let’s make a succulent terrarium with their eco friendly potting soil!

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

Glass Trifle Container (I found this for $6.97 at Walmart)

Pebbles

Charcoal

Sphagnum Moss

EcoScraps Potting Soil (this was located outside of our local store)

Succulents (I like to choose an odd number for arranging. Mine had 7 of various sizes)

Garden Trowel

Ways To Save on Supplies

  • Fairy gardens are very popular right now. Ask your local nursery if they have smaller bags of pea gravel or moss available for purchase. I was able to get small bags of these items for a lot less.
  • Look to see if there are any succulent arrangements that are already prepared and the pricing and compare it to individual succulents. At my nursery, succulents individually were $4 each,  but for $20, I was able to get double the succulents AND it helped to know which ones worked and looked nice together.

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

Easy How-To

Creating a terrarium is a lot like creating a layered cake or trifle so that is why I thought this container was so fitting!  

1. Begin by adding your pebbles to the bottom of your container. This is to create a false drainage layer so water can settle and not flood the plants. You will want to add one inch to two inches of stone, depending on the size of your container.

2. Next, we will layer our charcoal. The charcoal can come in granules or shards (the type I am using is shards). We will spread a layer of this over the rock to help reduce bacteria, fungus, and odors in our terrarium.

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

3. Next add a layer of moss to create a barrier between the potting soil and charcoal.

4. Prepare your plants for planting by removing them from their pots and loosening up the root ball and exposing the roots. If the roots are particularly long, you can trim them down a bit.

5.  Add a layer of dirt to your terrarium. Gently place your plants inside and then top them off with a bit more dirt, using your hands to gather the dirt firmly into place around each of the plants. Be mindful where you are planting them, mixing up your plants of varying heights and foliage, to fill your jar.

Siri Reminder To Water Plants

5. Finish by watering your terrarium lightly, being mindful not to overwater it because succulents do not like to be soggy. Caring for your terrarium is easy, especially if you are a terrible gardener like me. I’m so terrible, I put Siri in charge.  Feel the soil weekly to see if it is dry and add water if it is.

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

Here is another view of what our terrarium should look like from the side. Make sure to place it in a spot that gets a little sun on their beautiful leaves, but not scorching hot spot in your home.

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

 

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

These are beautiful to keep or to give to someone special in your life. Thank you, EcoScraps, for letting me share about your amazing mission to reduce food waste in a really wonderful way. I hope you guys can try their products!

To help you get started on your own gardening, we are giving away a $50 Walmart gift card to one lucky reader! Enter to win below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post was sponsored by EcoScraps. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that help support our site! 

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How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

As Mother’s Day approaches, I thought it would be fun to revisit one of my favorite crafts that I did with my daughter (a fellow expert pom-pom maker!). What a great way to use up scraps of yarn! xo

 

What could be a better gift for Mother’s Day than a bouquet of pom pom posies that you can enjoy all year long? You won’t believe how easy it is to make pom pom flowers for a special mom in your life. Walmart challenged us to come up with a fun Mother’s Day project that anyone can do for someone special in their life and we are so excited to show you how easy (and thrifty!) this little project is!

Supplies Needed:

Scrap yarn in any color (we used scrap yarn from my overflowing yarn bin)
Hot Glue Gun
Glue Sticks
Scissors
Large Clover Pom-Pom Maker
Wilton Cookie Sticks (over in the cake decorating supplies aisle)
Jar

How to Use the Clover Pom-Pom MakerHow to Use the Clover Pom-Pom MakerHow to Use the Clover Pom-Pom MakerHow to Use the Clover Pom-Pom Maker

How to Use the Clover Pom-Pom Maker

Directions:

 

1. Make an assortment of Pom-Poms using your desired method of pom-pom creating. Follow my picture tutorial above if you would like to use the Clover Pom-Pom Maker that I discovered.

Why I Am Using The Clover Pom-Pom Makers: I have tried every thrifty known method for making pom-poms from cardboard, to forks, to compact discs. To make this bouquet of posies, I decided to see if I could find a gadget to help me and I cannot rave about this Clover Pom-Pom Maker enough. It is the perfect tool to add to your arsenal if you are making pom poms and it is simple enough that my 7 year-old could use it.

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

2. Open a package of cookie sticks and remove one from the package. Begin wrapping yarn around the cookie stick, covering all of the white parts. I start the yarn weaving the tail in at the top so that I don’t have to glue it at the top. It’s okay if there is a bit of white showing at the top because your pom-pom will cover it!

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

3. Once you are almost to the bottom of the stem, add a dab of hot glue and continue wrapping until you get to the bottom. Snip the end of the yarn that has been secured with the glue.

4. Add a dab of hot glue at the top of your stem and then secure a colored pom pom to the top. Hold in place for thirty seconds.

5. Gently bend your stem (gently or it will break) to create a more natural looking flower. Set aside and repeat this process with the rest of the flowers.

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower BouquetThat’s it!

TA-DA!

Easy yarn pom-pom posies that are sure to brighten any mom’s day! If you want to really make this cute gift stand out even more, here are a couple of more sweet ideas to really set the mood for a special mom in your life.

Pom-Pom Cupcake Topper

I went ahead and bought the Small Clover Pom-Pom Maker to show you how cute this one is for decorating a cupcake for a special mom in your life. We just hot glued this little cutie on the top of a toothpick and it only took a couple of minutes to add a little pom-pom magic to a store-bought cupcake!

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower BouquetWho could resist a gift as sweet as this?  Not only is it the perfect Mother’s Day gift, but it would make a sweet gift to celebrate any occasion. Pair these pom-pom posies with a gift certificate to pick up craft supplies for the crafty mom in your life.

I also joined Vine this weekend which is a fun app for making a quick 8 second video. Here is my 8 second video of my pom-pom making. I would like to disclose that I am in my favorite polka-dotted pajama pants here for this super professional tutorial!

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

Happy Pom-Pom Making, friends!

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

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Bringing Outdoor Furniture Indoors

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Bringing Outdoor Furniture Indoors

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

Do you remember when outdoor furniture looked like…  well, outdoor furniture. Now outdoor furnishings rival those inside my home and I have started looking at these pieces differently than I used to. I now see the true potential for outdoor pieces in indoor spaces and I wanted to chat a bit with you about that today!   I am partnering up with the BHG Live Better Network this month to show you the fantastic offerings they have this year for your outdoor (or indoor) needs.

Bringing Outdoor Furniture Indoors

A couple of years ago, we created the cutest spot in our house that isn’t in our house. My dreamy she shed makeover is one of the best ideas I have had to utilize a hidden space in our home. I wanted something that we could really lounge on and originally thought a daybed would be a great idea. The truth was though, I really needed something that could stand up to a lot of abuse and the idea of changing linens in a shed did not appeal to me at all.

Let’s be honest, I can barely change the sheets on my own bed.

Outdoor Bed Ideas

I did a lot of research on smart bedding solutions and discovered this Better Homes and Gardens Providence Outdoor Day Bed while browsing and just knew it would be so perfect for our space. This piece was coated in durable outdoor fabric since it was intended for outdoor use, making it perfect for a mom with two busy kids.

When I saw that it was available again this summer (YAY!), I just had to share it with you because it makes me so happy!

Bringing Outdoor Furniture Indoors

This outdoor daybed has become THE spot in the house for anyone who needs a little retreat. The generous size of this piece really is as deep and as long as a true bed would be, making it a fantastic place to take a nap.  I have been known to take many a blissful Sunday siesta on this bed. Curled up with a throw and and a good book, it’s the perfect retreat right on our very own property. When the kids and my husband can’t find me, they know that I am out here taking a little time for myself.

Although I loved the bed itself, I wanted to add a fresh accent color to this piece so I switched out the pillows with a few cute options I scored on Groopdealz as one of their deals-of-the-day and added a Too Legit To Quit pillow from Michelle Dwight Designs to add a splash of fun to the bed.

Even if you source your pillow covers somewhere else by supporting a fellow crafter, I have found inexpensive pillow forms from Walmart to create cushions with style for the back of this bed.  The pillow forms are two for $5.15 and feel like expensive cushions and line the back of our bed. I love that we can switch pillow covers on this piece to bring in a new accent color or simply to freshen things up.

outdoor-bed-ideas-2

We were lucky enough to have a very mild fall and winter so we were able to use this shed more than we usually do, as you can see by this cozy picture of my daughter nestled in blankets. I found a string of outdoor lights and hung them from the canopy to create a beautiful glow in the evenings.

Twinkle lights make any space magical, don’t you think?

I am so happy my kids have this spot to read in.

Bringing Outdoor Furniture Indoors

As a child, I only dreamed of places like this to curl up with books and I try to never take for granted such a special retreat!

I hope this inspires you to look at outdoor furniture a little differently. Whether you have a spot in your basement for a little nook for your kids, if you are looking for an alternative to couches for a patio space, or if you are making your shed into a dreamy bonus room, this bed is for you.

Live-Better-Network-Badge

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant (FREE Printables and Red Velvet Popcorn)

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Red Velvet Popcorn Recipe With Free Allegiant Movie Popcorn Box Printables (from The Divergent Series). I know we have so many Divergent fans out there and I am so excited to be partnering with Lionsgate today to share about the third film, The Divergent Series: Allegiant. I am new to the Divergent fan club and dove into the books this week and I am absolutely loving the storyline and can’t wait to see the first two films next week before Allegiant hits theaters on March 18! 

Allegiant Movie (The Divergent Series)

After the earth-shattering revelations of Insurgent, Tris must escape with Four and go beyond the wall enclosing Chicago. For the first time ever, they will leave the only city and family they have ever known. Once outside, old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless with the revelation of shocking new truths. Tris and Four must quickly decide who they can trust as a ruthless battle ignites beyond the walls of Chicago which threatens all of humanity. In order to survive, Tris will be forced to make impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love.

Red Velvet Popcorn Recipe With Free Allegiant Movie Popcorn Box Printables (from The Divergent Series).

I wanted to utilize the landscape of  The Fringe (the unknown land they explore beyond the wall in this new film) and it’s beautiful red hues to create a Red Velvet Popcorn treat you can share in honor of the film. We also have adorable free printable Allegiant popcorn containers for your treat.

Red Velvet Popcorn Recipe With Free Allegiant Movie Popcorn Box Printables (from The Divergent Series).

Popcorn is one of my favorite weakness and popcorn coated in white chocolate and red velvet cake… be still my beating heart. I was so excited to invent this fun treat and, of course, a Google search yielded that not only am I not the inventor, but one of my favorite blogging friends, Michael from Inspired by Charm, also had created this treat in his kitchen.

Of course, I am gluten-free so you can hunt for a gluten-free red velvet cake mix at your store or you can find many great options online. If you are short on time, not only can you save yourself from making a cake from scratch, but you can also utilize something like Skinny Pop as your popcorn base.  And, let’s say, if you are a mom who is required to make a bake sale treat for your daughter’s class, you can kill two birds with one stone and utilize the extra cupcakes that aren’t used in the popcorn for her treat. WINNING!

Don’t you love the vibrant red that captures the landscape of The Fringe so well? Gorgeous!

Red Velvet Popcorn Recipe With Free Allegiant Movie Popcorn Box Printables (from The Divergent Series). Red Velvet Popcorn Recipe With Free Allegiant Movie Popcorn Box Printables (from The Divergent Series). Red Velvet Popcorn Recipe With Free Allegiant Movie Popcorn Box Printables (from The Divergent Series). Red Velvet Popcorn Recipe With Free Allegiant Movie Popcorn Box Printables (from The Divergent Series).

To assemble your Allegiant popcorn boxes, simply print and cut them out with scissors. Begin by folding the sides of the box and then fold up the bottom and side flaps. Once all the folds have been made, stand it up to assemble and secure with a little clear tape inside! Done!

Grab the FREE Printable Popcorn Box  HERE!!

Red Velvet Popcorn Recipe With Free Allegiant Movie Popcorn Box Printables (from The Divergent Series).

If you are looking for me this week, you will find me curled up with the books, binging on these fantastic films, and filling my tummy with this delicious popcorn treat. Be sure to check out the movie trailer below and hit your local theater on March 18th to catch Allegiant on the big screen! Learn more about The Divergent Series on their official website. I can’t wait to hear what you think about this one!

Red Velvet Popcorn Recipe With Free Allegiant Movie Popcorn Box Printables (from The Divergent Series).

Red Velvet Popcorn
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Red Velvet Popcorn is a fun treat to share that can even be made gluten-free, inspired by the movie Allegiant!
Ingredients
  • 8 cups popped popcorn (I purchased some Skinny Pop for this or you can pop microwavable popcorn for your base)
  • 3 red velvet cupcakes (prepare a boxed cake mix and reserve three cupcakes for crumbs to add to your popcorn)
  • 22 oz. (2 bags) white chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
Instructions
  1. Prepare your red velvet cupcakes as directed on the cake mix box. Reserve three cupcakes and crumble these in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Pour eight cups of popcorn in a large bowl.
  3. Melt the white chocolate chips with a tablespoon of vegetable shortening in a double boiler on your stove. Be sure to stir it often to avoid burning your chocolate.
  4. Pour the white chocolate over your bowl of popcorn and stir to coat each piece completely. Pour the popcorn mixture on a large sheet of parchment paper.
  5. Sprinkle the reserved red velvet cake crumbs on the popcorn. Using a spatula, gently flip the popcorn to coat the other side of it with the crumbs as well.
  6. Leave on the parchment paper until it has completely hardened. Break apart and serve in our popcorn boxes.

Recipe Adapted from Inspired By Charm!

This post is in partnership with Lionsgate. Thank you for supporting the companies that help support our site! 

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How To Make a Dream Catcher (GIVEAWAY- Star Darlings Book Sets)

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

This post is sponsored by Disney Press. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site! 

I am so very excited to share with you an incredible new book series from Disney that just recently launched, perfect for girls in the age ranges of 8-12 years old.  Star Darlings  focuses on answering the question of where wishes come from, and features a diverse array of star-charmed girls who encourage and help others to fulfill their heartfelt wishes. Each Star Darling has her own wish that she pursues with the help of her faithful friends.

These shared journeys and experiences provide exceptionally positive examples to inspire tweens to follow their dreams and helps to  harness the power of their individuality, highlighting the power of making positive choices, and shows that they can make anything possible.

Star Darlings Book Review

Star Darlings A Wisher's Guide to Starland

These books are rich with themes of friendship, confidence, leadership, and teamwork, the Star Darlings as they are known, go on many magical adventures together. Determined to succeed in spite of their youthful inexperience, the girls show courage and ingenuity—plus a whole lot of humor—as they guide Wishers to discover happiness and fulfillment.  You can learn lots more about the Star Darlings series on their webpage and find fun activities, music, and videos to watch about these inspiring girls!

My daughter is an advanced reader at ten and found these books to be fun AND challenging. Within record time she had finished the first book and could not wait to start diving into the next ones.  If you have a tween girl, these have been a great step towards reading more advanced books! She really loved them and also told me that she has already found something in each character that feels a little like her.

Since the new Star Darlings series is all about the power of wishes, we wanted to share with you a few of our dreams and wishes for this year and show you a fun way to capture those by crafting a DIY dream catcher together. Not only that, but we would love to share with you the chance to win these books for a special young lady in your life so be sure to scroll all the way to the end of this post to participate in the giveaway!

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed:

Glue Gun & Glue Sticks

Embroidery Hoop (we detached the inner hoop for our project)

Fabric Scraps or squares

Hemp Cord (available in the jewelry supplies section of your craft store)

Feathers (any amount/color- we used 3)

Colorful embroidery thread

Scissors

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Dreamcatcher

1. Begin by cutting a small cut on the longest side of your fabric piece and then begin ripping it down until you have a nice even piece.  Holding it in place at the top, begin wrapping the fabric around and round the hoop. When you come to the end, add a dab of hot glue to secure it and then repeat the process until you have covered the entire hoop. Once you get to the end, finish again with a dab of hot glue.

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

(source)

2. The most challenging part is, of course, creating the webbing inside the dreamcatcher.  Here are lots of examples that you can see on Pinterest. Depending on your child’s age and craft level you can make this very easy, like we are showing here, or more difficult!

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

Measure approximately five feet of hemp and start with a knot at the top of your dreamcatcher. Then begin creating loops, twisting and looping until you get to the beginning again. Then begin the next loop of webbing by going between those circles to create the next round of loops. You can then keep repeating this pattern, as the circle begins to get smaller and smaller.

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

3. Have your child tear strips of fabric to tie to the bottom of the dream catcher. We chose two colors and alternated them in our dream catcher.

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

4. Finish with decorative details like feathers or beads to complete the look. We used a little embroidery thread to secure these to our dreamcatcher.

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

When I asked Emily what her big wishes and dreams were for this year, they were all focused on our big jump to middle school next year. Starting at a new school is a big challenge and I can tell that this has been on her mind a lot as she asks her brother many questions about the school and how her day will look there. She said that her big dream is for middle school to be full of good stuff. Doing this craft together gave us time to really talk about that and focus on catching all the good things in life and focusing on the positivities of new friends and new experiences at a new school.

With our busy schedules these days, crafting together has gotten pushed off and I loved making time to create with her this week. This was an easy one hour project that really gave us some time to bond and talk about our wishes for the upcoming year.

Star Darlings

Star Darlings Book Review

In honor of this new series I am giving away a Star Darlings prize pack. One (1) winner will receive:

  • A Wisher’s Guide to Starland
  • Sage and the Journey to Wishworld
  • Libby and the Class Election
  • Leona’s Unlucky Mission
  • Scarlet Discovers True Strength
  • Vega and the Fashion Disaster

This giveaway open to US addresses only and prizing and samples will be provided by Disney Press.  Please check out the widget below for more details on this contest! Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How To Make a Dream Catcher from MomAdvice.com

This post is sponsored by Disney Press. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site! 

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Gluten-Free Sloppy Buffalo Joes

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Tracking PixelGluten-Free Sloppy Buffalo Joes from MomAdvice.com

This post is sponsored by Lingham’s Hot Sauce. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this site! 

Sloppy Joes are nothing fancy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love them. When my husband and I were in high school, we would hit a local deli each week where he would enjoy a good old-fashioned sloppy joe sandwich and I would indulge in a flaky spinach & feta croissant as a special treat. When you have been with your partner as long as I have, almost every memory, every dish, and every life moment is laced with each other. I always think of those lunches when I make this dish for him, these high school moments that later shaped my life and family.

We have held steady and true to this classic sandwich over the years, but this week I’m partnering up with Lingham’s Hot Sauce and thought it would be fun to switch up this classic comfort food in their honor. My husband, a lover of traditions when it comes to the classics, was not too sure about my Sloppy Buffalo Joes idea, but after one bite of these delicious sandwiches, we all agreed that this was just as good as the classic version and a fun gourmet twist on a cafeteria staple.

Gluten-Free Sloppy Buffalo Joes from MomAdvice.com

Lingham’s Hot Sauces were new to me, but have actually been around since 1908! They come in a variety of flavors from garlic to ginger and they offer an extra hot variety for those of you that like your hot sauce with an extra kick. Their original hot sauce is absolutely divine and the closest I have tasted to homemade from the supermarket. It has a complex flavor on the tongue that at first tastes sweet and then the heat travels through, just like an experience that you get with a good glass of wine.

The sauce is thick and requires a good shake before you use it since they don’t use any bulking agents, something the brand really is proud of. The best part for this gluten-free gal is not only is it gluten free is that it is 100% all natural, verified non GMO, Halal and Kosher…

Oh, and did I mention you can find it at Walmart stores nationwide? Yay!

Gluten-Free Sloppy Buffalo Joes from MomAdvice.com

Sloppy Buffalo Joes are a healthier take on a big plate of buffalo wings as we get back to more balanced eating in the new year. This sloppy joe mixture consists all white ground chicken meat, garlic, diced onions, diced celery, and diced carrots. Next is a spicy sauce layer with our Lingham’s Hot Sauce (feel free to go Extra Hot on this one!), tomato sauce, chicken broth, and a worcestershire sauce finish. Once this cooks down together, it has that perfect balance of sweet and spicy, just like the hot sauce we added and I love that there is a healthy serving of veggies in these for my kids!

Gluten-Free Sloppy Buffalo Joes from MomAdvice.com

The thing that really brings this whole thing together on this sandwich are those finishing touches. Blue Cheese crumbles are sprinkled on top and the addition of a toasty bun completes this deliciously sloppy joe treat. The creaminess of that blue cheese really adds balance to the spicy sauce on this.

I usually avoid the gluten-free buns, but have discovered that a gluten-free bun slathered with a tiny bit of butter and then toasted on a hot cast iron skillet improves the flavor of these 100% for me.  Of course, you could also serve this delicious filling stuffed in a sweet potato or over a big pile of brown rice.

The true test if a dish is a success is if the leftovers are eaten in our house. Not only did our whole family love this, but they begged to eat those leftovers the next day. This one is going into our regular meal rotation and I have a feeling if you try it, it will go into yours too. What a fun spin on an old classic!

Be sure to pick up some Lingham’s Hot Sauce to add that perfect balance of sweet and spicy to your dishes!

Gluten-Free Sloppy Buffalo Joes
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Take classic sloppy joes up a notch with this spicy buffalo flavoring and creamy blue cheese finish. It's sure to be a new family favorite!
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped or grated
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼-1/3 cup Lingham's Hot Sauce (Original or Extra Hot- we used a ¼ cup in our house)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 8 gluten-free buns, split and toasted
  • 1 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 large dill pickles, chopped (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the meat and break it up with wooden spoon, then cook for 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add in the carrots, celery, onions and garlic, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then cook for 7-8 minutes more.
  3. In a bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, tomato sauce and stock. Pour into the pan and stir to combine. Simmer until the mixture comes together, five minutes or so.
  4. Pile the sloppy Buffalo filling onto the toasted buns and top with blue cheese and chopped pickles.

 Adapted from Rachael Ray

This post is sponsored by Lingham’s Hot Sauce. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this site! 

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Transitioning Your Holiday Decor

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Transitioning Your Holiday Decor from MomAdvice.com

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

Now that the holidays are behind us, it is the natural time for many to declutter and organize their spaces . I am partnering up with the BHG Live Better Network to show you some tips for transitioning your holiday decor and adding some organization to a hutch or any open shelving unit in your home.

Transitioning Your Holiday Decor from MomAdvice.com

Here is what my hutch looked like before I added some thoughtful winter touches. I got this hutch  from a thrift store many, many years ago for less than $100, painted it black, and spray painted the handles all on the same day I got it. It was my first DIY, before that was even a thing here, and I loved this piece because it gave me confidence to try painting furniture.

I often think of repainting it in a fresh color or doing something with the backs of those shelves, but for now it serves its most important purpose as extra storage in our home. My kitchen is smaller and I was always struggling with space to prepare our meals on my counters. Relocating our microwave, coffeepot, coffee cups, and fruit bowl help keep my counters clear and made this piece a true workhorse in my kitchen.

As far as decorating goes?

I never have!

That said, these long months after the holidays can feel a little barren with decor and I wanted to make this a little more decorative while still making the most of storage.

Transitioning Your Holiday Decor from MomAdvice.com

I got some little houses and trees from the holiday section of our local Walmart store and added these for decoration, got a beautiful fruit basket (available in stores only) to allow the oranges to bring more color to this set-up,  got plate stands (over by the photo frames) to display my Better Homes & Gardens metallic plates, and added a decorative wood top jar to house my homemade cocoa mix nestled next to a jar of snowy white marshmallows.

The side of our coffeepot got a sprinkle of family photos with a little washi tape. I later discovered this side is also magnetic so now my daily to-do list hangs there too!

Transitioning Your Holiday Decor from MomAdvice.com

Transitioning Your Holiday Decor from MomAdvice.com

Transitioning Your Holiday Decor from MomAdvice.com

 

These affordable and simple additions will help me power through these winter months and then I will tuck them away to be used again next year. Mini trees and houses are perfect for adding a sprinkle of beauty to any bookcase or shelf.  Be sure to check out all the great organization and storage solutions that Better Homes & Gardens offers at Walmart as you ready your home for another winter season!

 

Live-Better-Network-Badge

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.

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3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

Friday, December 18th, 2015

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3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

I’ve really enjoyed sharing some new holiday gift-giving strategies and traditions that are important to our family with you. Today I wanted to talk about a gift that I really struggle with… the gift card.

While practical in so many ways, I have found it difficult to make gift cards feel personal. I want people to always know that when I give them a gift card, it isn’t because I don’t care about them to shop, but only that I want them to treat themselves to something they really love.

I can tell you that I don’t know a single girlfriend, sister, or mother that would object to a shoe gift card. I may not know their shoe sizes to always shop for them personally, but I know that if I give them a gift card for shoes that they would be more than thrilled to peruse the shoe aisles for the perfect gift. Bonus points if that gift card accompanied a gift card to their favorite coffee shop so they could sip while browsing.

Today I wanted to share with you 3 ways I have created to make a gift card to Shoe Carnival more personal and make it truly stand out!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

(Shoes: Nicole Carleigh in Black)

Create a Snow Globe Jar

If you put anything in a jar, I think it instantly amplifies its level of awesomeness on any gift. Jars are very inexpensive gifts to give and this little snowy-filled scene only took a couple of minutes to pull together and requires zero craft skills.

Simply add a little faux snow on the bottom with whatever you might have in your craft supplies or purchase those delicious rolls of snow they have out with all of the snow villages this time of year. Place a little snow on the bottom, add an inexpensive ornament, and finish with a bottle brush tree. TADA!

With just a few moments you have created something really cute for their mantle out of items that they can use for their own holiday decorating or food storage. Best of all, tucked underneath that blanket of white is a gift card to do a little shoe shopping!

WINNING!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

 

Knit a Gift Card-igan

As you know, I am a knitter, so I always find fun ways to use my hobby for the holidays. This year, I stumbled upon this amazing little pattern for a Gift Card-igan and knitted this out of a little scrap yarn I had left over from another project. It is a perfectly gratifying project since it is so small in size and the pattern is easy enough to execute while watching holiday movies on the couch.

Whatever your craft skill set is, consider using it to create a unique gift card holder of your own. Sewing, embroidery, decoupage, crochet… there are so many fun ways to incorporate your own crafting skills to make a gift card holder that is unique and special. It adds that personal touch to any gift you give and showcases your talents in such a fun way!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

 

(Shoes: Crocs Cap Toe Rhinestone)

Add Our Free Holiday Sparkle

I’m all about the holiday sparkle from attire to the gifts I give. These Crocs Cap Toe Rhinestone shoes add that holiday touch I love with their shiny cap toes and rhinestone embellishment. Did I mention how comfy these are? They are the perfect shoe for any gathering because you can be on your feet for days without any discomfort! I found the same holds true for the Nicole Carleigh Boots I got, thanks to their low and wider heel.

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

Of course, sparkle can also be added to your gift and I wanted to share this fun printable that our designer, MJ from pars caeli, created just for you to add that personal touch to your gift card this year!

(scroll to the bottom for this freebie!)

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

 

Shoe Carnival happens to be running a Give 1, Gift 1 Gift Card promotion this week which is perfect timing with our gathering of packaging ideas. If you purchase a $50 gift card, you can receive a $10 bonus reward card that can be redeemed from 12/26-1/16, in-store only.

Be sure to cash in on this incredible promo and I hope you can use a few of our ideas for your gift-giving needs this year!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

FREEBIES Galore:

FREE Colorful Cute Shoes Fund Envelope

FREE B&W Cute Shoe Funds Envelope

 

Today I am giving away two $50 gift cards to two winners to add a little holiday sparkle from Shoe Carnival for those upcoming holiday festivities!  Follow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter.  Good luck and happiest of holidays!

 

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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How We Grew Our Site By 4 Million More Page Views This Year

Friday, December 18th, 2015

How to Increase Your Page Views from MomAdvice.com

MomAdvice is celebrating her 12th birthday this year. For those of you following along all these years, I can’t thank you enough for your support. It’s this time of the year where I reflect back on my hits and misses with my business in 2015. After going through our traffic numbers from the past two years, we realized we had experienced a growth of 4 million page views since 2014. Our growth has been holding steady around the same figures overall for years now, so this type of growth was very exciting.  This year I really buckled down and got serious about strategy for our business and I believe the growth is a reflection of that.  

Let’s face it, I’m a dinosaur in this business. Young women are joining my field all the time and I struggle with the trying new things because of the reality of my time constraints coupled with the laziness of doing what already works. That said, there were many new things we tried and I’d love to share them with you, if it might help your business in 2016.  My biggest piece of advice is just try one new thing out a month and really look at your numbers. If you are finding it isn’t helping you grow, don’t be afraid to try something else.

Let’s go through the hits that drove the hits (wink, wink!)

How to Increase Your Page Views from MomAdvice.com

I Drove Pinterest Traffic To The Most Popular Posts

As a lifestyle blogger, Pinterest is my biggest driver of traffic to the site.  If you look at your web stats (through Google Analytics or your web host), you can grab a clear picture of what and why people are visiting you from their search terms to the amount of traffic each post is driving.  In the past, I was really focused on the new content I was creating and pinning that, but those weren’t driving the traffic as much. Although that’s important too, my top ten posts are more important for my traffic.

Once I figured out my top ten posts, I promoted these regularly and I utilized Ahalogy to schedule these pins for optimum times when people would be on Pinterest. 

I’ve been a lazy blogger about affiliate revenue, but I started taking that avenue more seriously for building passive revenue to these top ten posts too.  This diy blanket scarf post now offers fabric options that readers can peek at which generates a small amount of revenue that can pay for things like web hosting, my newsletter, or my editorial assistant.

Driving traffic to these posts only required tweaks on existing content (new headers, adding affiliate links, and pointing people back in their direction), and did not require me to create new content.  It helped me get through times when my creative wells had run dry.

How to Increase Your Page Views from MomAdvice.com

I Paired My Passions With an Interview Series

I think any blog can benefit from some type of interview series. Design Mom & Cup of Jo are two great examples of sites that pair thoughtful editorials with a great balance of interview content. I am a big fan of the Living With Kids series and the Beauty Uniform series always yields fun beauty tips and tricks.

Most of all, I appreciate the fact that doing an interview series relieves my shoulders of some of the content creation, although it isn’t without work.

My passion is for books and writers so I created our Sundays With Writers series to interview authors about their books and to share those with our fellow bookworms. They are very popular with our audience and I have a natural place for affiliate links for books that helps support the site financially.

To continue building upon that concept of making the most of every interview, I asked each author about their favorite book of all-time and compiled these recommendations into a single post that is updated weekly for our bookworm readers. This post is also a top post on our site because my readers are always looking for new book recommendations.

The success in this as a traffic driver though has really relied upon my own ability to create unique interview questions. Many of these have taken an hour or more of research to gather nuggets of information about the author and their books to try and create content that is both unique and compelling. This time-investment pays off because the authors and their publishing houses are happy to push traffic my way to help with book sales. These new readers may or may not stick around to find out more, but a seed has been planted that we are a good resource for book recommendations and for the stories behind the stories.

All in all, I feel like this one was a big win and traffic driver this year!

How to Increase Your Page Views from MomAdvice.com

I Worked On Getting the Balance Back

In 2014, I was really focused on financial recovery which sounds kind of funny, but writing a book in 2013 meant that my site really suffered and we took a financial hit. I just couldn’t keep those two balls in the air. 2014 was our most profitable year and, I admit, the least balanced year on the site because I took too many sponsored jobs. This year, I increased my rates and took fewer jobs. Overall, it was a better balance for the site and for me personally.

I worked on more personal posts that were more community-building or that I thought our readers might find interesting. Our 3 little things (something anyone can replicate) is a weekly happy list that shares everything from what we are watching on Netflix to comfortable lingerie.  These posts are a regular reader favorite and are a place where I can inject more of myself in them. I finally felt confident enough to let you tour my home and that seemed to be a big hit this year too.  We also talked (with my son’s permission) about his ADD diagnosis and how we work with him to succeed at school.

My struggle always is building that intimacy while keeping our privacy. As a protective parent and as a person who lives in a small town, I choose to keep the site as personal as I can with a clear line drawn in the sand about the boundaries for personal content. I grappled a lot with sharing the ADD journey, for example, but the outpouring of emails we received after that led me to believe that this personal series was important to share about, simply to let parents know they are not alone.

We joined a new ad network that has increased our revenue considerably, giving me the ability to write more personal pieces and not having to rely so much on sponsored content to pay our bills. That said, sponsored content is still how I earn the majority of my revenue and is necessary to sustain the site. I am very proud of the content I create (you can see my work here although many posts were duplicates this year for our m challenge series) and I try to always only select jobs that add value to my reader’s life.  It means I turn a lot away and that is okay.  An increased rate though allows me to be more selective and also do a better job for my clients because their products can really shine.

I think restoring balance restored our community and contributed to our higher traffic numbers. 

How to Increase Your Page Views from MomAdvice.com

We Got Serious About Our Newsletter

And when I say WE I mean Jami. Jami blogs over at An Oregon Cottage and she works very hard behind the scenes here at MomAdvice. I am an ideas person while she actually executes half the things I think about, but would have never followed through on.  We hired a designer to design a simple template and got serious about newsletter building by offering free printables periodically that would drive newsletter subscribers.  We keep it clean, personal, & useful each week with all of the happenings in one spot.

I never know how social platforms will change. Facebook, a top driver, no longer drives as much for us without putting in considerable funds & effort. This newsletter helps deliver consistent readers who really love the site back to the new offerings. Moving forward, we will continue the consistency (meaning Jami will continue being consistent and I will be dreaming of other ideas) and we will continue develop offerings that make this newsletter useful to you.

How to Increase Your Page Views from MomAdvice.com

I Diversified & I Did Good Stuff With That Money

Dinosaurs have a hard time changing their old ways, but I tried new things this year. I sold an e-book, I taught a course on creativity, I guest spotted on podcasts, I taught myself iVideo, I finally applied to some affiliate programs for things I was already talking about, and I sold my first product through Hazel & Ruby.  All of these projects, in turn, drive unique traffic to the site and some generated profit that we weren’t expecting this year.

All of these funds earned from diversifying the revenue went to charity. We were able to supply courses and materials for women at a local women’s shelter, we supported a non-profit doing great things for cancer patients & their families, we assisted with gift-giving for kids in need, we provided a large donation of gifts of warmth for a men’s shelter, we supplied items needed for a local food pantry & shelter, and we took care of a family in our community that had fallen on hard times. 

I continue to look for ways to diversify the income to benefit those in need. It’s money we never expected and we know all that good stuff will come back to us. My next focus is on building an Etsy shop with 100% profit to Burkina Faso for wells. It’s a dream of mine to give the gift of clean water to many more there.

That Was Great, But I Can Do Better

The misses? Tons! I know I can always do better. Sometimes I wonder if this is what I should be doing. I have dreams of developing something (still stewing on that!)  for those in need, but when I do it, I want to do it very seriously.  For now, I’m just using this as a vehicle for creativity, connections, and causes.

2016 will be all about continuing to work smarter and not harder. My first goal is to produce an ebook on our journey towards minimizing. I have much to say about our journey. I also have a big dream to publish a cookbook/memoir that I think would sell really well. The concept feels concrete, it’s the doing that is the hard part for me.  January will be about making these things come to life and continuing to be open to the possibility of new projects and new ways to diversify.

how-to-increase-your-page-views

Have questions? Ask me and I promise to try to be as honest as possible! Have tips for growth? I need ‘em!

My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

Tracking PixelMy Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

I hope you didn’t miss my post last week about our family’s first celebration of St. Nicholas Day. We had the best time adding this new tradition to our family rituals and hope you can bookmark it for next year for your family too!

Today I wanted to share with you a few of our family’s favorite holiday traditions. We really try to focus on simple blessings in our home and moments with our kids, rather than a lot under our tree. It’s a focus that has served our family well and it frees up funds to do more giving to those in need which is a big priority for us.

I’d love to share with you a few ways we have found to do this!

The 4 Gift Rule

The 4 Gift Rule

Years ago, I ran across a gifting strategy that has worked really well for our family over the years. As you know, last year our family went the Choose Your Own Adventure route with our kids and we had an incredible vacation to Florida. Due to my husband’s new role at work, it has become difficult to get away this year and so we are defaulting to a timeless tradition of 4 gifts that keep our gifts thoughtful and keep the excess at bay. Have you heard of the 4 Gift Rule? It’s so simple and easy!

In our family we do:

WANT

NEED

WEAR

READ

My husband and I do these gifts for each other as well and the tradition has really served us well over the years. Everyone gets one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, and one book to read. It simplifies purchasing for each other and we all end up with really great gifts that actually get used every year.

Open One Gift Early

Of all the categories, the wear category is my favorite because it is the one gift that my kids get to open early before all their other gifts. In that gift is typically a pair of festive pajamas that they get to slip on to see the holiday lights through a local neighborhood known for their tradition of incredible lighting in our town (that also happens to give back to our community).

We usually head to Steak & Shake for Peppermint Shakes and take in the beauty of the holidays in our jammies and bundled up in cozy blankets. Why icy cold shakes became the tradition, who knows? It is that cold and warm contrast that the kids love though so we have been doing this for many years for them as a holiday treat.

My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

Have a Family Day in the Snow

Our family loves to play in the snow together and we make it a point to hit our favorite sledding hill at least once a year! When they put up a caution and sled at your own risk sign on our favorite hill, we felt like we were snow warriors or something!

If you haven’t checked out Shoe Carnival’s winter boot selection yet, you are in for a treat. Warm boots are a must-have item in Indiana and, thanks to my children’s enormous growth spurts each year, one of those items we purchase each year.

My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

Welcome, to the boot show!  I picked out four great shoe options for our family that I think you will love. First, for girls I have the Capelli New York Kids Storm Duck Boots as a winter must-have. As I have said before, I have discovered Duck Boots are a really practical option for Midwest weather because it can protect you from the snow and rainy season very fashionably.

For the less snowy days (or for our friends enjoying warmer climates this winter) we recommend the Mia Lauren in Cognac Smooth for a great kid’s boot option to stay fashionably warm and that should go with everything in your closet.  I only wish it came in my size!

For my son, Tommy Hilfiger Charlie Duck Boots were the best option for all of the crazy weather conditions here.  We aren’t a very brand-focused family so I really just looked at all the options at the store and felt the insides for warmth, good stitching, and a well-crafted shoe. I can truly say that these are boots that will last him forever. Should he outgrow them, he can hand them down to his Dad to wear (how crazy is that?).  For tweens and teens, this is the boot option I would recommend!

My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

The third option is for me, the fashionable Northside Bishop. The lower portion is water resistant while the top is decked out in faux fur and a Nordic-inspired trim.  It also has a Nor-Foam insulation to protect my feet against the cold. Once again, these boots are fashionable AND practical.

Do you remember the boots that we had when we were kids? They often weren’t that warm and they definitely weren’t stylish. How lucky are we to have such beautiful options and at such affordable pricing.

Lucky for you it is the Perfect 10 season! You can get $10 off for every $50 spent, upward of $40 off of 200! That is one great deal to take advantage of as you stock up on your winter necessities.

My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

This year I wanted to make the occasion even more magical so after our annual day of sledding we are finishing the evening with this rich Peppermint Cocoa to warm up by the fire. I created this delicious treat for my kids and would love to share it with you today to inspire you to spend a day in the snow with your kids!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
A delicious peppermint hot cocoa recipe perfect for sharing while viewing those holiday lights as a family.
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 quart milk
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips (3 ounces)
  • 7 peppermint sticks; 3 crushed (1/4 cup), 4 left whole
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Place cocoa in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk until cocoa has dissolved. Add chocolate chips and crushed peppermint; simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate and peppermint have melted, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Add salt. Ladle into mugs; serve each with a peppermint stick.

Today I am giving away two $50 gift cards to two lucky families to find some warm and stylish boots for the holiday season from Shoe Carnival so you can tackle those crazy sled hills too!  Follow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter.  Good luck and happiest of holidays!

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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