Monday, February 20, 2017

An Easy & Healthy Valentine



Honestly, I love Valentine's Day. I really do. I used to try to be all "cool" and "nonchalant" & say I hated it but, really, I've always loved it. I mean, it's a holiday. It's another reason to celebrate something good, in a world of chaos. It's fun for me to see little cut-out heart garlands hanging in the school. It's fun for me to wear red & pink all week. It's fun for me to see all the different kinds of Valentine's cards. It's fun to see all the Valentine's boxes at school. It's fun to have a reason to bake something for James, decorated in red or pink sprinkles or frosting, or heart-shaped. 

Some people "hate" it because they believe it's a commercial holiday. Yeah, well, it doesn't have to be. I mean, I usually make something like chocolate chip cookies for James. I already have the ingredients at home, so why not especially make them on Valentine's Day to celebrate the day of love?

I make my friends little cards & mail them. Yes, stamps cost money, but we already have them in the house for other reasons, & aren't all friends worth a mailed letter every now & then, expressing your gratitude & love for them? More than just on Valentine's Day do I send my friends a sweet note in the mail. It's just, on Valentine's Day, the card is red & pink & covered in hearts & cute little sayings :)

And what is so wrong with getting flowers for your sweetie? James buys me flowers, randomly, all the time. It's just on Valentines day, they are usually red and/or pink! 

Point is, you don't have to spend unnecessary money on V-day if you don't want to. It's only a "business money-making holiday" if we let it be.  

So, on Valentine's Day this year, I decided that my Valentines at work would be Cuties! I love love love Cuties. They are my favorite fruit! And instead of taking the time to write out a bunch of cards & figure out a way to attach said cards to said Cuties, I put them in a basket with one card! So easy & quick. 

James & I had a sweet dinner that evening, too. I cleaned the entire main level, lit a candle or two in each room, & made dinner. I made a big batch of spaghetti with garlic toast. For dessert, I made brownies and Jim brought home a Dairy Queen Ice Cream cake. We consumed way too much sugar that night...
We ended our evening with two sappy chick flicks & called it a night! And we loved every minute. 

What did you do on Valentines this year?

Love,
Ash     

Friday, February 10, 2017

Reusable Dryer Sheets


Valentine's Day is coming up... and what better way to show your love for your loved ones, than to do their laundry & make their clothes static & chemical free, along with smelling perty? 

Sooo romantic, I know. 


But, hey, it works. And this is something to use all year 'round, ya'll!

There is a lot of buzz going around about whether or not to use dryer sheets. So many people say they are laden with chemicals, while there are sites that say otherwise. 

How about we just make our own to be safe?

I mean, why not make our own! They are so easy to make, & you know exactly what is going in to them. And, let's not forget the number ONE reason to make these: 

They save you money!

You can reuse them over & over & over, and not have to buy dryer sheets from the store over & over & over. 

Seriously, these are SO EASY to make.   

Reusable Dryer Sheets
3/4 cup vinegar, white
1/4 cup water
5 drops essential oil
1 mason jar with a lid
1 t-shirt

I grabbed an old t-shirt to use for this. I got this t-shirt after someone handed it to me in a bar. Strange, I know, but it was brand new & I ain't about to pass up free stuff. The shirt was an XL. I cut the shirt up into {roughly} 6x6" sheets. This made a lot of dryer sheets. I didn't count, but I'd say about 25. Thank you, bar stranger. I will remember you as long as I do laundry.

In the mason jar, I measured in the vinegar & the water. I then added about 5 drops of an essential oil. You can do any scent you like. I did lavender, cause it's my fave, but I will probably do lemongrass in the Spring. I gently swirled & shaked the jar so it all mixed well. 

Next, I stuffed the t-shirt sheets in the jar, one by one. By the end, I could NOT fit another sheet in there! It was packed to the brim. I screwed the lid on the jar & set it down, upside down, so all the sheets could soak in the solution. I left it like that for about an hour. 

After that, I was ready to use my first homemade dryer sheet! I just opened my jar, took one sheet, & tossed it in with my wet clothes in the dryer. After the cycle was done, I just found the dryer sheet in the mix of clothes & put it in a basket on the dryer to be used in the future. Once I use up all my wet dryer sheets, I will make the whole concoction over again with the sheets in the basket. Reusable, cheap, & easy! 

The vinegar helps control the static. It also helps soften the clothes. The essential oils help make the clothes smelly-good. You can {probably} add more than 5 drops, but I wouldn't overdo it. 

Just think: in the new year, you can use lavender scent to keep you calm. In the Spring, you can use lemon to awaken your senses, along with the Earth awakening from winter. In the summer, you could use grapefruit. In the fall, you could use cinnamon. At Christmastime, you could use peppermint. SO MANY OPTIONS.

  
And that's it! Reusable Homemade Dryer Sheets are now a laundry staple in our home. We weren't using any kind of softener or dryer sheet before this, & I missed the scent. Also, our clothes were a bit static-y & our towels not so soft. Not anymore! These sheets help with all those problems. And my pocketbook is happy! 

Laundry Love,
Ash   

Friday, January 13, 2017

10 Gift Ideas for Your Travel Lover


It's a little after Christmas as I write this, but it is travel season, so what better time than to bring you a post about Travel Lover gift ideas?! I have a trip to Mexico coming up so making this list was a neat way to think about some of my favorite travel gear. Maybe their birthday is coming up, or maybe you're thinking ahead to next years Christmas, or you just want to get them a little something before they head off to foreign lands. Check out my list of 10 Gift Ideas for Your Travel Lover, from one average traveler to another!

1. Airbnb Gift Card

This was the whole reason I wanted to do a post on Gift Ideas for Travelers. I got an email from Airbnb suggesting to buy a gift card from them for a loved one who likes to travel. Man, oh, man - what a great idea! Airbnb is a site travelers use to book lodgings that may be a more local option. It tends to be more affordable, and gives a better experience than a commercial hotel. We have used it many times on our trips, like staying in Duane's apartment in St. Croix, or Helen's place in Marina del Rey, or Michele's place in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. 
You can choose any amount to gift, & you can send it right from their website & to your giftee's email. As a traveler myself, I would definitely be overjoyed to get an Airbnb gift card. You cannot go wrong with these! [Go here to get one!]
 


2. Wireless Headphones
Cause, ya know, they are probably listening to music or watching a movie on their flights. I recently bought a pair at Menards. Yup, Menards. But they are great. I use them while working out or cleaning the house. It's nice to be able to leave the phone on the counter & move around freely, without being plugged in. [ Find mine here! ]

3Stainless Steel Bottle
Ok, just hear me out. I love my water and, for many years, I just used a reusable plastic water bottle. Then I won a stainless steel bottle from Healthy Human & life changed. The water tasted so much better in a stainless steel bottle versus from a plastic bottle. Healthy Human does not sponsor my posts, nor pays me, so this is truly genuine. Now, because the water tastes so much more great, I drink more H2O, which is good for me in about a gillion ways. You can find stainless steel bottles at Wal-Mart, near the lunch boxes/kitchen area, but there's just something about Healthy Human's bottles. Here's a quote from their site: "Made with only high quality pure food grade 18/8 stainless steel, even on the inside of the lid, these reusable gems are vacuum sealed to keep your beverages icy Cold for 24 Hrs and steaming Hot for 12 Hrs." And I can vouch for that; the beverages do stay cold for a long time! So, when your traveler is in the hot Caribbean or the humid jungles or the dry dessert states, they will appreciate cold water from their stainless steel bottle. And... they will appreciate you! [ Go here to shop for one! ]

I won this one & a tumbler.
    
4. Amazing Leggings
Ok, this one is more for the ladies. Can I just say - Thank God for leggings. They are amazing. When sitting on an airplane, there is nothing worse than being uncomfortable. So, instead of wearing stifling jeans, or baggy sweatpants, wear these super soft, comfortable, & discreet leggings from JCPenney. I asked for these for Christmas & they. are. wonderful. You can't see my underwear under them, they are so soft & cozy, & they have pockets! I really didn't think I would care about the pockets, but they are super nice to have, especially to slip my phone into. [Get a pair here!]



5. A Tablet
Want to spend a little more on your traveler? Of course you do, because you love them. But, if means are there, get them a tablet. Now, I can't really delve into the tablet-advice-giving-world, but there are loads of websites with info on the best ones to get. Personally, I have an old Nook, which works great for me. I can read books, play games, but also watch movies! I simply go to the Nook Store, under Movies & TV, find, buy, & download the movie I want. I have about 5 movies on my Nook, & each year while on a flight, I watch 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or all 5 of them. Actually, my mom got them on her Nook account and, with permission from her, used her account on my Nook so I can watch them. Every year, I look forward to revisiting "It's Complicated" or "The Heat" on my flights. If you do go with a Nook, a Barnes & Noble Gift Card would be a great stocking stuffer to go with it! [I have this Nook.]


6. A Good Book
Tablets are nice, but books are great, too. I got my mom "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are" as I had heard great things about it... plus, if you read a feel-good/positive on your flight or vacation, it will make the time that much better! You could also get a book set in the location where they are traveling; I am going to Mexico this year, so I checked out "Like Water for Chocolate" from the library. It is set in Mexico & truly sounds like a great book.  I also read "Happier Than a Billionaire" when I was in Costa Rica. It made the trip that much more intriguing! Get them something unique, like "The One & Only Ivan" or "The Art of Racing in the Rain." If they would rather have a thriller or something exciting, try "Zombie Zone Zero" or if they might like a classic, try "The Old Man and the Sea." There are so many options! I use Goodreads to find good books. 


7.  A Camera
If they need a good camera with a wonderful zoom to zoom in on those colorful birds in the trees, or that zip-lining moment, I have this camera & it's perfect for what I need. For stocking stuffers, toss in a sim card with tons of room for picture storage! 



8. Neck Pillow
Yup, a neck pillow. They work well & you can find them all over for under $20.



9. Beach Towel
If your traveler is going anywhere near a beach, a pool, a hot tub, or waterpark, they'll need a beach towel. 



10. Bags!
Whether it's a functional luggage set, or a make-up bag, or a backpack, or a beach tote, or a practical purse, bags can be used for so many parts of a trip. Jim's mom got me a luggage set for Christmas last year & I just love it. I no longer have to borrow luggage from someone else! My sister just bought herself a make-up bag for her trip, so she can stow away every little beauty product, all in one spot. When I am exploring on my vacations, I like to carry around a small, cute backpack instead of a purse. This is so much easier on my shoulders. Or, if your traveler is traveling light, but needs to compress their stash, try buying them Ziploc XL bags. They are massive. Roll up the clothes into these bags, let the air out, & zip closed! This allows for so much more room in their luggage. 



 
So there you have it - ten useful travel gifts for your travel loving friend. I hope this sparked some kind of inspiration in you so you can surprise your vacationing companion!

What would you add to the list?
 
Love,
Ash