Tuesday, November 29, 2016

{Entertaining} Chili Cook-Off 2016

Good morning and Happy Tuesday to my lovely readers.  I'm back from a little Thanksgiving break which was so nice.   Christmas decorating seems to be in full swing over here so Halloween feels like it was ages ago but it was less than a month ago! We hosted our 2nd Annual Chili Cook Off in the neighborhood for some Halloween fun.
Mr. Click and I dressed up as Axl Rose and Slash from Guns 'n Roses.  I think we got a little too into it. :) My costume was super easy, I only had to buy a black bandana and I borrowed the jacket, plaid shirt, gloves and boots.   He needed the hat, sunglasses and a fake ciggy.  
We set up the cook-off area in our basement since it worked out so well for Miss High School's birthday bash.
We used these voting sheets again and I made some clipboards out of sturdy cardboard and binder clips.
 This year we had two vegetarian chilis and four other chilis to sample.
 Some of the toppings...corn chips and oyster crackers. We also had cheese, salsa and onions.
 Last year I decorated some wooden spoons for the prizes so I kept that tradition alive and did it again..with lots of glitter!
 They are a fun memento from the night if you win one (I didn't).
Here are our winners in order: Most Creative, Spiciest, Best Overall & Good Try.  We had more entries this year so it was even more competitive.
It was another successful cook-off and I hope we continue the tradition!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

{Review} Skinny & Co Coconut Oil and What is Oil Pulling?

I love coconut oil so when Skinny & Co reached out to me to review their product I was all about it! I loved hearing that Skinny & Co is a cruelty free and Leaping Bunny certified company. All of their coconuts are handpicked and wild-harvested in Vietnam.
I received 5 samples to test out.  There are so many uses for coconut oil, it's not just for cooking.
First off is the the Whipped Body Butter and some of its uses are: moisturize and soothe itchy skin, shaving cream, after sun treatment, soothe skin rash and baby acne. It's a silky whipped blend of 100% raw coconut oil,organic almond oil and essential oils.  Then there's the straight up Coconut Oil.  Skinny & Co's coconut oil is chemical free with no fillers, bleach, blending agents, solvents or toxins.  I learned that it's always alkaline, never acidic and contains only short and medium chain fatty acids(long chain fatty acids are stored as fat).  This allows the body to absorb the oil much easier, enhancing its effectiveness.
 Their coconut oil is 100% raw and truly cold-pressed.  It's never heated about 97 degrees Fahrenheit.  Some more uses for coconut oil: deep conditioning treatment, add to coffee (try it!), tea & smoothies and as a healthy replacement for butter or other common fats. Try it with popcorn!  The Facial Oil is a great make up remover, facial cleanser, daily moisturizer and beard oil for the guys.
 They make a formulation just for Oil Pulling Mouth Wash too.   Do you know about oil pulling? Since I received the sample, I've been doing it in the mornings.  You swish 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 5-20 minutes then spit it out (in the trash, not your sink) rinse, then brush.  Oil pulling is said to detox the body, whiten teeth, remove plaque, increase energy, keep skin clear and reduce headaches among other things.
 I really like their brand because they add natural peppermint oil so your breath feels really fresh after swishing.  I was a little skeptical about oil pulling and it took me awhile to build up the amount of time I could swish it around it my mouth, but my teeth really do feel smooth and clean after I'm done.
Finally this Sugar Scrub had to be my favorite of the bunch.  It can be used to exfoliate skin and lips and it's great for shaving but it tastes SO good....it's really nice in coffee and tea (or straight out of the jar). #dontjudge

If you sign up for Skinny & Co's newsletter, you'll get 10% off of your first order.

Have you tried coconut oil, oil pulling or used it for anything other that cooking? I'd love to hear your tips and experiences.
Disclaimer: I was given this product to review but all opinions are my own.
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Monday, November 21, 2016

{Get Crafty} DIY Ballard Designs Inspired Holiday Door Tags

I love when I can DIY something fairly close to the original for a lot less moola.   I get a lot of decoration inspiration from Ballard Designs and when their holiday catalogue arrived these holiday door tags caught my eye.
They add a nice big visual statement to the door and I loved their simple design.  One side says "Give Thanks"
and the other side says "Happy Holidays".   Gotta love a dual-holiday decoration!  At $25 plus shipping though, I thought I could maybe replicate them at a fraction of the cost.   Maybe!
The originals are made out of iron but I chose easy to work with balsa wood.  I picked up one piece of it at Michael's for $2.99 and some black paint ($0.79).  I got the thinnest piece I could find and it was about 36 inches long.
Balsa wood cuts easily with a utility knife. I cut the wood in half and then I sketched out the top "tag" part to cut with the knife using a ruler.
 I had to make a few extra cuts to make the two tags even.  Perfection is not my strong suit.
 Then they each got 2 coats of black craft paint on each side.
Drying in between coats of course and touching up where necessary. I punched holes in the top with a paper hole punch.  Then I asked my talented eldest child to pretty please add the lettering to the tags. She chose her own font and free-handed the letters with white paint.
I will probably add a clear spray sealer to the tags but it's been too cold and windy lately to get that done. In the meantime, here they are on my Wine Cork wreath,ready to greet visitors in the front hall.
They also look lovely on our fall wreath at the front door.  We have a storm door so they are protected from the elements.
The finished tags are about 16 inches tall and 4 inches wide.  I used a grey gingham checked ribbon (recycled from a Christmas gift) to hang the tags.  Raffia also looked nice with the cork wreath.

The Merry Christmas side is adding even more holiday cheer to our evergreen wreath.
I'm really pleased with how these turned out.   
 Finished cost was less than $4.00. woop woop!

Here's another Ballard Designs inspired tag project.
Ballard Designs Inspired Beverage Tags
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Friday, November 18, 2016

{Recipe} Bell Pepper Risotto: {Oil & Gluten Free}

I made this risotto for my book club last month and promised to share the recipe with you guys.
The recipe is based on this one but I made mine oil and gluten free as well as vegan. It was still really good! #shocker   I made it again to photograph it and turns out, it's an easy weeknight dinner!
(6-8 servings)
8 cups of vegetable broth
1/2 large onion, diced
2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange), diced
1 3/4 cup arborio rice 
3/4 cup dry white wine
salt to taste
1/2 tsp tumeric (optional)
 To Make:
Bring broth to simmer in a medium pot on the stove.  Heat some water or broth in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add diced onions and cook for about 2 minutes until translucent.
Add diced peppers and cook 8-10 minutes, adding more water/broth to keep from sticking to pot.  
 Add uncooked rice and stir for a minute or so to coat the rice with the pepper/onion mixture.  
Pour in wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc) and cook for a minute or two.  (You can skip the wine and just start adding broth if you prefer.)
Start adding heated broth a cup and half at a time, stir gently and allow to be absorbed completely by the rice. Turn heat down to medium.  Repeat for 25-30 minutes until rice is al dente. You might not use all of the broth.  This last step may sound a bit labor intensive, but it's really not bad..just carry on with making the rest of you dinner, checking on the rice/broth and adding more broth as needed.
When the rice is done, take the pot off of the heat and add a little more liquid. Stir in the optional tumeric (gives it beautiful color and a little kick of spice) and salt if needed.
Serve and enjoy. You can add some Parmesan cheese if you like.
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