Win Valentines Day on Me [giveaway post]

Who wants to win the best of the best for Valentines Day? Seriously I am going to give one lucky reader a 200 dollar gift card to Anderson's Seafood, a DIVINE box of chocolates from J.B. Chocolatier and fabulous candles from Holy Archangel Candles, all you need is a special someone and your day is made.

First up 200 dollars to spend anyway you want at Anderson's Seafood. You can go for luscious salmon, halibut or even crab, I've got you covered, so go with your wildest dream dinner and make it happen. And of course that comes with free shipping so you get to spend the entire gift card on seafood, not shipping.

Then you're going to receive one box of hand dipped limited edition chocolates from J.B. Chocolatier. Jenny is a friend of mine, she has some pretty high standards when it comes to chocolates and she only ever sends out the best, I've witnessed first hand her production, she is ruthless in her perfection. Combine that with just 6 flavors produced every month and you can understand why your mouth should already be watering. 

And finally to top it all off and really set the mood you're going to receive a set of pure beeswax candles from Alex at Holy Archangel Candles. The beeswax scent of these candles is probably more fragrant than any flower you'll ever be lucky enough to inhale and they truly glow when lit, you will bask in their presence, I promise! 

Enter via the widget below and good luck! 

All prizes were given to me to giveaway, I was paid nothing and given nothing in any way. The winner MUST be a US resident! 
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This is a post I originally posted waaaayyyyy back in 2011 when a big nasty storm was pounding the Mid-West and we got no snow. That scenario seemed so odd that year that I wrote a post about "what to do on a snow day" and while stormy lower 48/low snow Alaska has become somewhat the norm, the information and ideas on how to pass snow days are still valid. SO if you're in the new and improved "STORM OF THE CENTURY" and you have to stay home check out how we pass those days in Alaska. I've added a few ideas and edited this for the update

So you're stuck at home because it's snowed, a lot. The plow trucks were pulled off the highways and basically everything between the upper northeast and Oklahoma is crippled by massive snow storms. And wind. And ice. But here in ALASKA, land of snow, wind and ice, we got nothing. It's about 30˚ and slightly windy. Our big scary storm brought 3 inches. PPfffft.

So I thought I'd share some of my "keeping busy on snowy, too cold to be outside, stuck at home days" tactics. I haven't had to employ a lot of these of late, but I have them to share. I'm sure one or two might come in handy. So put the duct tape away, grab a cup of coffee and have a great day.

What to do with kids on a snow day:
1) dig up a recyclable dish soap bottle, fill it with water, add some food color and go draw in the snow-for the love of all that is holy don't give them yellow dye
2) start building a leprechaun trap, those little buggers come back around the first of February and boy they'll try every trick in the book to rob you blind
3) why not recycle some puzzles with missing pieces into magnets? they make great presents to have on hand
4) make homemade reese's cups, so good and easy to make, kids can help every step of the way
5) use duct tape and a box to build a mailbox for your house, mail love notes, valentines and maybe even secret admirer notes...
6) get out the scissors, glue and paper and make valentines with your kids
7) if you have any wax and wicks in the house, consider making candles
8) do you know how to knit, crochet or hand sew? why not share that knowledge with your kids?
9) have fun with veggies 
10) teach your kids to shovel, it's good for them and then they can do it again and again!

What to do on a snow day without kids
1) start a rag rug, use old clothes that are never going to be worn again, tear into strips and start braiding, it's fun
2)  make homemade pudding
3) declutter your house
4) SLEEP--you'll notice there is no link for this, um yeah I've had kids for 18 years now, there is no rest for the wicked, er parents
5) upcycle and repurpose for nifty storage
6) shovel so you can eat that pudding
7) going going going green, so many simple tricks to get started
8) make a cool heart garland
9) plan a summer garden
10) shovel some more so you can make these Twix-tacular Knockoff Bars

I'm sure if I didn't have kids at home I'd spend the majority of my time sleeping, shoveling and eating. Repeat. Repeat.

A few tips on survival:
1) don't use a gas grill in the house NEVER EVER GRILL IN YOUR HOUSE
2) keep fresh water on hand, you will want it and need it, fill the tub with water
3) if it's really cold consider leaving water dripping in sinks, this will help keep pipes from freezing
4) keep candles, matches and flashlights where you can easily find them but out of reach of kids, undoubtedly the power will go off as soon as it is dark out and you'll have NO idea where any candles are
5) smile, weather can not be avoided

Peace and Love--


Thrifter Share

A post to share your thrifted finds, whether you plan to keep them, sell them or give them, share them here first! This is also a place you can come to commiserate and find support for your thrifting habits. HA!

We're renovating our basement, making a family room out of, strangely enough, the family-ish room, it's been a space we've called the library for it houses all of our books. But it's also served as the resting place for our poor unloved tv which was unceremoniously yanked off the wall so many years ago and left to kick around without a place to live. It has a couch stuffed in it and not a lot of room beyond that. SO we cut the books in half, really did a deep cull, and got rid off one bookcase. We're also removing an oversize storage closet I THOUGHT we needed years ago, we probably did then but we're running lean on crap these days and we hope to keep it that way, so out it goes. 

Eliminating the storage closet will double our family room space and make it big enough so other people can be in it with us, have a coffee table that is big enough to play a game on and also give us a space to hang the tv. It's not connected to cable or anything exciting just our vcr/dvd player but still all those old Disney movies on vhs are so going to be rolling down there! 

That closet was where a lot of the stuff I donated in the "donate a thing a day-reverse advent challenge" came from. Not only did I ultimately end up donating something like 24 boxes by Christmas day but I also have hit about 38 total boxes since I started the weekend before Thanksgiving, that's a lot of stuff and it feels so good. 

So my pickings are slim because, well yeah, I'm a recovering thrifter!

I found a brand new and mean BRAND NEW Lands' End dress for myself, well what a bad photo, the dress is folded in half for some insane reason, I should have unfolded it, it is roughly knee length. Not a style I like too much but when I throw a running shirt over the top and wear a pair of leggings under I can run or ski and keep my jiggles to myself and for 4 dollars I feel like I got a good deal.

I also grabbed this shirt for myself it was 1.50 and it's the flattering diagonal stripes style that always look good( I may be delusional but just let me keep believing eh?) I think it will be a nice change from all the dark clothes I seem to have. 

And here is the latest box of 'out they go' donates ready to go find a new home. I just got those magazines a few weeks ago and boy I'm glad I didn't pay full price because they weren't that great. An unneeded storage jar is in there as well as a dress I just never wore and a pair of swim trunks that no one here needed anymore. Someone, somewhere will need them. 

Link 'em up, leave a comment go support and visit your fellow thrifters and if you're so inclined follow the Thrifter Share board on Pinterest and be sure to share your favorite pins.


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One Bowl Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

One Bowl Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread is a tasty way to use up those bananas that are past their prime, in fact you may find yourself buying extra bananas just to make my chocolate version of the Gold Medal Flour's Best Banana Bread recipe. 

We're in a constant battle over here to stay ahead of the bananas, can anyone relate? I feel like maybe I should stop buying them because they go so quick, then again they're the perfect on the go snack and it comes with it's own compostable wrapper even. What's not to love? Oh well beside the fact that they do get too ripe sometimes.

But I have the solution, I'll just bake with them. I found the BEST banana bread recipe and it truly is the BEST I've ever had. It's moist, it's tender, it's just perfect really, must be the proportions and it makes two loaves which I like because, well, boys and food, you know. I saw it on the back of the Gold Medal Flour bag, go figure, but I only saw it in passing so I didn't have a copy of it but it was easy enough to look up online

And I took that Best Banana Bread recipe and I made it better(for me! and maybe you?) by making it a ONE bowl recipe and adding cocoa powder and chocolate chips. Right now we're washing all dishes by hand so I'm ferreting out any shortcuts in dish washing I can and putting them to good use. I know you usually mix the flour with the other dry ingredients believe you can do that if you want to but the loaf does rise just fine even if you don't, just follow my directions. I cut out a dirty potato masher, a bowl for mashing bananas, a bowl for mixing flour and dry ingredients in, so I'm feeling pretty good about this recipe right now. I also wish I had a slice of this bread right now, sigh. 

One Bowl Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
oven 350˚ makes two loaves 
**stand mixer needed**

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
5-6 over ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup (or more!) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup chocolate chips
preheat oven to 350˚
grease 8 inch two loaf pans
in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the sugar and the butter, scrape the sides of the bowl down as needed to get it all mixed together
add the eggs and beat them in
take each ripe banana and give it a good smoosh before peeling it, you don't want it to squirt out but do get it all smashed up in the skin
then peel one side of the peel off and add them to the bowl and beat well
mix in the vanilla 
with the stand mixer off sprinkle the cinnamon over the sugar banana mixture
over the top place 1/2 of flour, sprinkle on the cocoa, baking soda, salt and the rest of the flour
pulse the mixer on to stir once or twice to stir the ingredients
don't beat it just stir it in
stir the buttermilk in 
and then also the chocolate chips
avoid the temptation to beat the bread batter, a good quick bread only needs to be stirred 
divide the batter between the greased loaf pans
bake for 50-55 minutes in a 350˚ oven
let cool for ten minutes or so and then remove from the pans
wrap in plastic wrap while still slightly warm to keep it moist
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Thrifter Share

A post to share your thrifted finds, whether you plan to keep them, give them or sell them, share them here first!
Another week another 3 boxes donated, and you'll all be proud of me because I dropped and RAN. No lingering to go see, I just put my stuff in the drop box and left. Which is my favorite way to donate stuff, then I don't have to feel weird or bad for dropping off stuff. Am I the only one who feels like my donations are unworthy? Or that after I leave they look at my stuff roll their eyes and think "why bother??" Or that I'm busting in on private conversations when I whip that door open? Everyone stops talking, all heads swivel straight to you and suddenly you're the main event, a sudden attack of shyness take over for me. It's why I like the donation bins in the parking lots, it's like donations anonymous. The only drawback to these is that they get pilfered regularly, left open to the elements, so I compromise and drive to the actual thrift store and use the bin in their parking lot, it has cameras and it's patrolled by the police. Why yes I DO live in a small town with nothing better for police to do, why do you ask??
SO much stuff going out the door and so many avoidance tactics going on over here you might think I didn't thrift shop but you'd be wrong, I DID. But I was picky as all get out, super scrutinized every thing I THOUGHT of buying and came out with one thing, well ok two things but they're a pair. 

It's been so warm that we have no snow left on the ground. The fields, which are usually cloaked in deep snow are practically bare, and they have giant puddles that are frozen enough to skate on. We needed just one more pair of skates to get both boys and myself on skates, bingo, found a nice pair, now we just need to get them sharpened. 

Link 'em up, leave a comment and go visit and support your fellow thrifters! 

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Easy Ground Beef Homemade Jerky, Original Flavor [GIVEAWAY POST]

If you're looking for an Easy Ground Beef Homemade Jerky Recipe that's Paleo, Clean Eating, MSG free, Gluten Free and STILL delicious, look no further, you've found it. If you just want tasty beef jerky you feel good about eating or sharing well I've got you covered too. And if you want to win a jerky gun to give this recipe a try guess what? Yep, me covering you! 

I'm a huge fan of beef jerky, I love it for the simple fact that it's just a nice chunk of protein that's quick and easy to eat but also satisfying. Lately the stuff from the store is feeling less healthy and more full of junk than I want to eat, so I set out to find or come up with a recipe for something I can enjoy again.  I didn't have to look far, I'd found this recipe a while back, pinned it and I started from there. The spices looked solid and I only had to tweak it a bit for our tastes, and I left out that wretched beef broth too. That stuff is full of nasty chemicals, I'm pretty sure she used homemade, although it's unstated. 

Why ground beef jerky? Well a couple reasons: I happen to have a lot of ground beef because our beef order came in last November and I bought a dehydrator last fall too, with it came 2 jerky guns. Both solid reasons for making ground beef jerky but this stuff is so tasty you don't need a solid reason, just a jerky gun, which we'll get to that in a moment. 

Easy Ground Beef Homemade Jerky
please note
-you will need a dehydrator AND a jerky gun both available on Amazon (and those are affiliate links!) and also available in most box stores
-the meat mixture needs to chill over night
-your results will vary so plan to be flexible the first time you try this
3 pounds lean ground beef, the very best you can afford
4 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons smoke flavor
2 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
4 teaspoons dried minced garlic
4 teaspoons onion powder

break up the ground beef in a mixing bowl
sprinkle everything on top and mix thoroughly 
refrigerate overnight
when ready to dehydrate turn the dehydrator on to about 145˚-155˚ full fan 
open the jerky gun, load it with meat, packing it down so it doesn't have too many air bubbles
once filled and ready to go pull the trigger and squeeze out a line of meat
2-3 squeezes will make a line about 3-4 inches long which seemed about right for us, your gun may be different and so then will your results
make them as long as you prefer, I made mine on the shorter side to make packing in lunches easy 
repeat with each tray of the dehydrator, in mine I used 7 of the available 8 trays
I also put the meat directly on "clean a screen" tray liners not on the actual trays OR the fruit leather trays 
place the trays in the dehydrator and leave them alone for an hour or two then take the bottom tray and move it to the top and viceversa
continue drying for another 3 hours or so, checking for doneness every hour or so 
to test I picked them up to see how flexible they were, after an hour or two I tried one to see if it was done it was not dried at that point but it was cooked through
after 4 1/2 hours of total cooking time the jerky was done
yours in your dehydrator may require more or less time so do plan to make this when you have the time to be flexible
once the jerky is done wipe off any grease and let them cool depending on how lean your burger is you may need to wipe them off one more time 
store in the refrigerator consume within a week
or freeze them for longer storage 

Now when I bought my dehydrator, second hand (but practically brand new!), it came with two 
BRAND NEW jerky guns. Now I don't know about you but I can only use one at a time so I thought 
I'd pass one on to someone else who would like to make some ground beef jerky. Enter via the widget 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ohhh lets see this is sponsored BY ME and it's only available to people who have a United States address because shipping is expensive. 

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Thrifter Share

A post to share your thrifted finds, whether you plan to keep them, give them or sell them, share them here first.
Oh the first week of January is always a killer isn't it? Bleak, dark, Christmas is done, the work of putting away and cleaning up is the only thing left and it's just so unpleasant. On the upside it's a great time to take a good look around at your post Christmas mess, make a good to do list and get down making the house clean and organized. That being said I NEED my windows washed or I swear I'm going to go absolutely bonkers, the are so disgusting. All the furniture moving, subsequent cleaning and rearranging is nice once it's done but mid way through can make anyone mad and cranky. Time for a thrift stop! 

After I donated another huge box of stuff we no longer need to the thrift store, I whipped in just to see, that's the dangerous part right? You're just looking and then whoops you've got a basket and then oops two pairs of the exact right size of Lands' End pants are in that basket. 
Well the good part is that they were only 2.50 a pair and keeping a good stock of pants for kids is always a smart idea because they never stop blowing them out in the knees and they never stop growing, I consider this a smart buy! And I saved roughly 35 bucks if I estimate each pair to cost 20 dollars brand new, fact is they probably cost more like 25 each brand new. 

On the way out I lingered at the free magazine boxes, I always look, you never know when someone might get tired of every magazine they ever owned and dump the whole lot, current edition and all, so I always stop and peruse. I didn't find any super current magazines but I found a couple Clean Eating magazines and since I'm back in the healthy eating and living saddle again I figured they'd be interesting to look through. I grabbed a country magazine Quick Cooking too, they're always fun too.

   Then I saw this and grabbed it
I love those tea cups, aren't they fantastic. 
And to top it off it is a current edition too. 
Link them up, leave a comment, visit and support your fellow thrifters and above all THANK YOU for coming by!

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