Friday, September 13, 2013

7 Things to Love About Summer #1 | Learning Awesome New Things

As summer winds down,
most folks think of fall as the time of year for learning.

I loved going back to school
And it wasn't just because of the new schools and supplies.

I was totally that nerd.
Right on up through college.
Yep, that ivory (or is it ivy?) tower
was my existence.

At Cornell, I started off as a genetics major.
So it was with a squeal and a plea like no other
that I begged for the Clever Girls Network to choose me
for a 23andMe campaign to pry open and peek at my genetic code.

That sounds kinda scary right?
Well, it wasn't at all.

They send you this super cute #23andmeDNAkit.

You send them some spit.
In return, you get some really interesting personal information.
And, if you elect to do so, you can start getting messages from long lost relatives
who want to get back in touch.


Some of you know that this past February, we lost our daughter Sunshine.

During our first trimester, we did a standard Triple Screen. It consisted of a general genetic history make up, an ultrasound and some basic blood tests to tell us the probability of Sunshine having a genetically inherited condition. While there are some things they can rule out based on me and my husband not having conditions, other things due to chromosomal irregularities were a bit harder to rule out completely.
That's when I first became obsessed with genetic testing.
And wanting access to more of it.
Without it costing a billion and two dollars.
(Interesting note, when 23andMe first started, they charged $1000 for the tests)

Because of our Sunshine experience with the medical realm of genetic testing,
it was pretty easy for me to understand the 23andMe process of giving you very user friendly data about your likelihood of devolving certain conditions related to your carrier status of certain genes.
Basically, your genetic code can account for a lot of who you are, but it isn't everything.

Also, genetic testing is still so relatively new that there are only so many things you can even test for. 23andMe has a pretty comprehensive set of 240 pretty common health reports that they base your genetic findings on.

What I loved beyond the medical information was that with a quarter million members, 23andMe is the largest DNA-based ancestry service worldwide.

At $99 per person,
you can join in and have 23andMe fun with genetic ancestor

There was a time when I was obsessed with genetic testing.
Between potential blood clotting disorders and recurrent pregnancy loss issues, there are more and more options for testing available on the market. While medical testing should always include conversations with your doctor, what I loved about 23andMe is that it is plastered all over the fertility boards as an easy, accessible, first step for genetic testing.

Because you actually use saliva for the testing, you don't have to find someone to draw your blood and so you get access to lots of tests at a super reasonable price.

Also, the website itself and the results are in super user friendly format.
There are great forums to get help if you don't understand the concept of probability (ie, the probability that you will get diabetes based on your genes vs the definitive answer as to whether or not you actually have diabetes) and the ancestor fun making...that is going to make my fall.

So what say you?
Are you interested to know more about who you are and where you come from?
Is $99 an accessible enough entry point for you to dive in and get some genetic answers?
Check out what other folks are learning
with their #23andmeDNAkit on Twitter and Facebook.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective
and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More super simple meals with #manwich

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Manwich for SocialSpark.
All opinions are 100% mine.

The other night, I got home super late.
I needed to cook, I needed to walk the puppy, I needed to harvest my fields in HayDay!

I'm just saying ya'll.

As we wind down through my list of favorite things about summer,
I felt like I needed to share more super easy family meals love.

Oh I missed you. 
That is, until fall chili making rolled into my kitchen.

Cue the 

I'm not even going to lie.

Growing up, my most FAVORITE meal of all times
was when my mom made sloppy joes with #Manwich.
Of course, back then, it was all about the original flavor.


My love affair with salad (and, really, homemade dressing)
began with the salads that my mom would make with our sloppy joes.

As I grew up, my meals started to consist of stuff that I "canned" myself

And the meals looked yummy like this

And then, I got some ideas going when I got two whole new flavors of #Manwich.

True, there are lots of Manwich Recipes that you can try out.

I've done turkey versions of sloppy joes and tofu versions too.

But now, I want to try some chili with the Bold and Thick & Chunky versions.

Ready to see how that turns out? Me too!

Check out these cool Manwich TV Ads
and let me know how excited you are to try some #manwich yourself.

Stalk Instagram for photos of the #manwich chili.

Who knows.
Maybe some version of #manwich spaghetti sauce will grace the summer harvest.

Friday, August 9, 2013

7 Things to Love About Summer | #2 Super Simple Family Dinners with Kraft Recipe Makers

The summer is just totally clicking by around these parts.
How about for you?

So we've examined 5 things
that I love about summer

And we all know that "love"
and "heat" do not go in the same sentence for me.

I love  coming and going places,
seeing awesome movies,
indulging in favorite childhood memory lane treats,
(and pondering what other ways I'm connected to my arthritic grandmother)
of course,
being the hostest with the mostest.

Now it is time for
the two things I love most
about summer.

Which is saying a whole lot
since I have already covered gardening
and canning parties.

Up here in the land of
not quite midnight sun
(although it's still bright enough
to walk my dog
at 10:30 pm on some summer nights),
there just feels like there is more time
to do things
like cook my family a meal.

And because we all want to be outside
in the sun
for the 17 days that it shows up around these parts
I like my meal prep to be super quick and easy.

This is where
saves my day.

kraft, recipe, chicken, sweet and sour, B3HD

This time of year,
there is a ton of produce
sprouting in my own backyard.

Those of ya'll who know quirky old me in real life
know that I don't do fresh chicken.

But throw some chicken nuggets my way

kraft, homegrown, recipe, chicken, nuggets, carrots, pepper, sweet and sour

and my own carrots and bell pepper

simmer, sauce, kraft, recipe, B3HD, veggies, homegrown

and I am just saying
that me and that Kraft Recipe Makers simmer sauce
may just be new best friends.
Let's not even talk about that too tasty
to be legal finishing sauce.

I just followed the tip on the back of the box
and satiated the meat eaters in the house
and made this with chicken nuggets
(they say breaded tenders...I say nuggets...even easier).

Tomorrow will just have to stay tuned
for THAT trick up my sleeve.

After this super simple summer family meal
thanks to Kraft Recipe Makers
I got right back out in the garden.
There was a harvest to be had after all.

And peaches to can.

Though I just threw together the back of box option
with some substitutions
(they suggest pineapple and red onion in their recipe,
I just used super sweet bell peppers and carrots in mine),
there are actually three prep options that each Kraft Recipe Maker comes with.

to toss together really quickly.

I specifically chose the sweet and sour chicken version
because I knew I would be able to make tomorrow's gig
out of something designed for chicken.

But there are actually 7 different varieties of Kraft Recipe Makers.
Each one comes with two savory sauces
(although I would say my finishing sauce for sweet and sour chicken was perfectly sweet)
there's a little something for everyone.

These technically will feed five.
Since it is just me and my better half
(and the puppy who would eat a whole plate of whatever if we let her)
I had enough simmer sauce and finishing sauce left over
to go at it again tomorrow night.

And that is after two hefty servings tonight.
Love. That!

Head on out to Safeway
and find your Kraft Recipe Maker over by the meat aisle.
I know.

Fake out for the veggie lovers in my life.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

After the Party, there was an After Party and...

...well, yeah.

While my #3 fave thing about summer
entails being the hostess with the mostest,
I gotta admit that I detest cleaning up.

If you've been following along on Instagram,
you know we have been having the jam up at my place.
And by "jam" I really mean jam.
As in we had ourselves a little canning party!

Just so you know, there is absolutely
about a canning party.

In between soaking greens in fortybajillion rinses of "fresh water"
and trying to keep a good lookout for #CleanHands,
the bathroom got OVERTIME
handwashing duty.

Though I prepped my bathroom with this super cute yellow hand towel

at the end of the night,
Kleenex Hand Towels
won by a mile.

I thought that cute,
newly domesticated folks,
would be smitten with my cute yellow towel.

And maybe they were.
But at the end of the day,
the Clean Hands Campaign
won hands down and the vote was for using
Kleenex Hand Towels.

As I thought back on my travels and all of the hands washing
and hand drying I was doing,
the more I think about it,
the more I cannot say that I disagree.

Because really, with cloth towels,
how do you KNOW that someone washed their hands long enough
or at all
(I know, that deserved a gross out alert)
rather than just wiping off on the cloth towel?

There is no mistaking when a Kleenex Hand Towel has been used.

And that is a very (VERY)
good thing.

As a master composter,
after using these,
I am totally good with disposable

Kleenex products.
Just want to make sure that people don't flush these
although it looks like that once used, they would be fine even being flushed.

If "fine" for you is having thousands (millions?) of others
thinking the same thing
and then the aggregate result being not so cool.

Compost for all!
#CleanHands AND Clean Earth!
Why use a damp, germy, overused towel
when you can join the Clean Hands Campaign
and use Kleenex Hand Towels.

Speaking of which,
your odds were really good for winning your own set.

Congrats to Tara
who will be stopping into town next week
and getting her own box of hand towels to try out.

If you didn't win, don't cry.
At 2.99 a box, you can try out your own.
Snap some up today!

I cannot wait until later in August
when we have our annual BBQ for the tourney.
The only thing messier than a canning party
is a BBQ.

Especially around my parts.
Are you ready to party?
Wanna come over to my shindig?

It's going to be epic.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective
and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Party Prep with Kleenex Hand Towels

My #3 fave thing about summer
really deserves a bit more commentary.

As I mentioned, 
one of the things I love about summer
is that this is the time of year
when people are always coming for a visit

or we are going for a visit.

Settled back in at home,
it is now time to prep for party time.

One thing that my better half is pretty adamant about
is that we have all the goods necessary for people to wash their hands in the bathroom.

Usually, this means washing our super cute yellow hand towels
and getting them hung up just right.

However this year, we're going to do a bit of an experiment.

I'm also going to put the Kleenex Hand Towels
on the back of the toilet tank.

Let's see which one's people prefer.

What say you?
Would you use my cute yellow towel
when you came over OR
would you join the Clean Hands Campaign
and use Kleenex Hand Towels.

Let me know in the comments
(or on facebook or on twitter)
what your preference is
and you might win a box of your own.

You, of course,
can still enter by 

following me on Instagram.

I posted the two photos above and you can 
comment on any of those photos about how you sure could
use some #CleanHands.

Bonus points for being clever and finding a non-party photo
to get all #CleanHands on.

Winner will be chosen by July 30/31st ish.

Just join in the convo for your chance to win.
Are you ready to party?
Wanna come over to my shindig?

It's going to be epic.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective
and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

7 Things to Love About Summer | #3 Coming and Going (for a visit) with Kleenex Hand Towels

Well now.

I'm back from the oppressively hot east coast.
I did NOT indulge in my favorite childhood treat
(although it would have been totally appropriate).

We thought about seeing another awesome movie
but after seeing that one in California,
there wasn't much that was going to top that.

Though my back was bugging me a lot before I left
and I seriously considered taking my well-researched opinion about
back arthritis into my chiro, instead, we left the garden and headed east.

Way east.
Into a heat wave.

Heat wave aside,
one of the things I love about summer
is that this is the time of year
when people are always coming for a visit

or we are going for a visit.

While this past week, we were the ones going,
we're steadily sliding into coming season.

We have some pretty big life events coming up
and to that, we'll be hosting a gig or two to close out this summer.

I mean, what is not to love about being next to Godliness
with this level of cleanliness?

In my travels this past week,
I spent a lot of time drying off on cloth hand towels.

As a master composter,
I am totally good with disposable
Kleenex products.

Especially when you consider that in the U.S. alone,
people do that exact same drying routine
200 billion times per year.

On towels that look clean.
But really...

Why wash your hands
only to dry them on a dirty towel?

Why use a damp, germy, overused towel
when you can join the Clean Hands Campaign
and use Kleenex Hand Towels.

I'm getting ready to host a shindig
and guess what will be in my bathroom?

Kleenex Hand Towels of course.

Want some for your next gig?
Well I'll tell you what.
I've got some to give away.

Since I know most folks visit this here blog via a reader
of some sort,
I'm not going to MAKE you jump here to comment to win.

Instead, let's make it easi(er), peasy(er).

You can follow me on Instagram.
I'll be posting photos as I get ready for the party of the century
(which I'll blog about here, of course).

Comment on any of those photos about how you sure could
use some #CleanHands.

Bonus points for being clever and finding a non-party photo
to get all #CleanHands on.

I'll even throw in some extra special
extra summer fun on top of the Kleenex Hand Towels for the winner.

Ready to have some fun?
All you have to do is comment on any of my Instaphotos
with a clever (or dull) #CleanHands comment.

You don't have to follow me (but you'll want to to see the winner)
and you don't have to comment on the blog
(but you'll want to because commenting is cool).

Winner will be chosen by July 30/31st ish.
Don't have Instagram?

If you click my widget for Instagram photos to the right
over there --------------------->
you can actually see what you're missing out on.
I think you might even be able to comment via the web.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective
and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Monday, July 1, 2013

7 Things to Love About Summer | #4 Gardening (with Lifescript)

Tracking Pixel

This is a sponsored post by me on behalf of

So let's see.

Summer is now, officially, well under way.

and I might have had chance to party like it's 1999.

But when all is said and done,
there is something about
when you live close to the land of the midnight sun
that makes summer
totally about gardening
and being healthy for me.

Case(s) in point

lifescript, healthy living, rheumatoid arthritis, gardening, #lifescript, #gardening, #arthritis

lifescript, healthy living, rheumatoid arthritis, gardening #lifescript, #gardening, #arthritis

Thing is,
I totally inherited my green thumb from my granny.
I think I may have also inherited her rheumatoid arthritis.

You see,
she had the most gorgeous gardens
(floral and edible)
on the block.

I loved being out in the yard with her.

The other day,
as I was out and about in my garden,
I started to notice some mannerisms
that made me think about my grandmother.

I remember growing up,
that she really could not bend her knees
to pull flowers or weeds.

I remember growing up,
that she would lay the water hose in her garden beds
rather than hold a trigger sprayer or even use her fingers to
"splay" the water.

I remember growing up,
that she would wince as she
wrapped her hand around a sturdy weed to give it a tug.

As I spent time in my own garden,
I was noticing that if I couldn't sit on the grass
(ie, because it had just been watered)
that it was really painful for me to bend my knees to get close to my beds.

I noticed that
I rarely use my sprayer
without the auto on switch.

I noticed that after a couple of hours of 
pulling and tugging in the garden
my hands would be on fire.

Aside from the green thumb that I got from my granny
I started to wonder if maybe, I had also inherited her
rheumatoid arthritis.

Being the curious girl that I am,
I decided to get to know a bit more
about who I am.

I sent off a kit to 23andme

genetics, test, 23andme, #23andme, #genetics

and I quickly jumped over to Lifescript.comto study up on rheumatoid arthritis.

I checked out the Rheumatoid Arthritis Health Center
and boy was I floored.

First, it should go without saying
that I'm a girl that likes to read.
Anything, really.
But especially really GOOD,
really approachable,
really legitimate
consumer health information

I might have gotten a bit consumed by my time on the site.

While I personally love
(and write my own)
health and living advice
I actually like that the site
has writing by professional health writers, experts and physicians.
As in, lots of medical advice
but by professionals who get that
people need it to be in plain English.

While I ended up on the site
as I was exploring Rheumatoid Arthritis,
I love that they have information
on other prevalent medical conditions related to women's health.

I wish they had a Fertility Health Center.
1 in 8 couples struggles with fertility issues
and this is a significant women's health issue.

To that, they do have a general "Women's Health Center"
and if you drill down there, there is a link for infertility.

Alas, I wish it had it's own Health Center on Lifescript.

Interestingly, as I was looking into some of my
Recurrent Pregnancy Loss issues
there were lots of references to Humira and Prednisone.

Who knew that by exploring my arthritis link
I might end up on those meds anyhow?

as I researched rheumatoid arthritis
here are some of the things I found interesting

Yoga is good.
8 Steps to Staying Active with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Tired, stiff and achy? Maybe it's arthritis.

Did all that work to harvest the garden, now what?
6 Recipes for Rheumatoid Arthritis
(including a tasty leek, asparagus and herb soup)
Time to get offline
(and off the keyboard)
and back into the garden.

Lifescript’s Rheumatoid Arthritis Health Center features tips, quizzes, recipes and articles
 – all by professional health writers, experts and physicians –
covering common RA symptoms,
foods that compose an anti-inflammatory diet,
new RA therapies and more.

 Please visit the Lifescript Health Center on Rheumatoid Arthritis
for more information.

This is a sponsored post by me on behalf of

Sunday, June 23, 2013

7 Things to Love About Summer | #5 House Parties with Gevalia

So let's see.

Summer is now, officially, well under way.

Now it is time to party like it's 1999.
like it is the sunniest summer we've ever had in Seattle.

I cannot attest to the truthfulness of that last statement.

I CAN. however, attest to the effect the sun has had on my garden.

See, lilacs!

Lilacs in bloom mean it is time for a shindig.

Ideally, this would be in my garden 
(where I spend all my time).

But this is Seattle and summer here

is truly coffee weather.
Mostly because, it is always coffee weather here.
Just throw some ice in it.

Cue Gevalia.

You see.

I am so not a coffee drinker.

I know.
I'm not sure how they let me live near Seattle either.

All things said, I LOVE TEA.
And all sorts of DIFFERENT tea.

So my second best ever gift from my husband, was one of those 
single serve
drop in
coffee/tea server


Especially when we host folks, 
because we can have fresh coffee available for them.

While some folks might be locals who are addicted to a particular brand

or visitors who feel like a trip to Seattle isn't complete without a sip of that other stuff,
I love that Gevalia now comes in single serve cups for your 
Keurig® K-Cup® Brewer, perfect for a quick Gevalia fix.

Just so you know, Kraft Foods is not affiliated with Keurig, Inc. 
KEURIG and K-CUP are registered trademarks of Keurig, Inc. 

The really great thing is that these single serve Gevalia offerings
are available at my fave place in the world (outside of my garden)

Go Safeway!
Time to host brunch.

I made some tasty sandwiches,
a white bean salad
and some ultra fru fru cracker bites

That cracker was the hit of the day.
tasty thin cracker
smear of goat cheese
dab of apricot jam
smaller dab of mint chutney
fresh mint leaf on top.
Splash of fig balsamic vinegar on the plate.

They were SO yummy.
hit of the day.
High maintenance of course.

The Gevalia
went absolutely stunningly
with the cracker bites.
And with strawberries.

Because everything goes well with strawberries.

I love summer get togethers.
growing up,
in between playing school
(because I was a nerd like that, I would play school during the summer break)
and doctor
(not like that ya'll)
when we played house
I can tell you that we were hosting parties all the time.

Mud pies and all.

now that I'm all grown up
I don't host nearly enough parties
but when I do
I like to make sure my guests are taken care of.

I totally love that Gevalia comes in these one cup servings
so that we can hang out in the yard
reminiscing about our little girl parties.

What parties are you looking to hold this summer?
Where's my invite?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.