30 Favorite Things Giveaway!!

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It’s finally Giveaway day!  I’m so excited to start celebrating my 30th birthday with all of you!

Turning 30 just got a little easier with your help, so thanks for being here and supporting me!

*Disclaimer: You’ve seen posts before that look like big advertisements and a “sell out”.  You should know I’m not getting paid or getting commissions from anything I mention. Everything included in this giveaway is TRULY one of my favorite things and I wouldn’t include anything that wasn’t.  Any donated items were out of the generosity of the donor. I want this to be fun!*

Here’s how the giveaway works:

1.  The giveaway lasts from October 17th until my birthday on October 31st at midnight.

2. You can choose several ways to enter, using the form below.

3. Every few days, on this page, I will reveal 5 more of the items in the giveaway until all 30 are unveiled! So, be sure to go sign up below using the giveaway form to hear about the fun new items you can win!

4. Winner announced November 5, 2013 and the prize is mailed the following week! Eek!

I give you a HUGE prize option, right off the bat…

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Amazing, right?

I am thrilled Tea Collection was kind enough to give $100 to somebody!

1. $100 Tea Collection Gift Card! (My favorite kids clothes.  Softest.  Best quality. The have women’s clothes too!)

2. A set of 3 Rifle Paper Company Notebooks (who doesn’t love Rifle?)

3. Tortoise Onion Goggles (I use these pretty much every day.  Sadly, I can’t cut an onion without them or I cry…literally)

4. Birch print paper straws (Best straws ever.  I can hardly drink anything without one)

5. My own handmade organic lip balm (blood, sweat, and tears went into this, people)

6. A special jar of my own blood orange marmalade made with vanilla and rum! Yum! (Made with the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook)

7. 1 lb. of local Cafe Moto coffee.  (My favorite roastery here in town! This one is my fave…I can only drink decaf and they have the BEST!)

8. Roasted garlic salt from The Salt Farm here in San Diego. (Great salt. Great packaging.  Found in my fave local store Pigment)

9. A jar of locally made Fleur De Sel Caramel from Praline Patisserie (caramel is on the top of my sweets list!)

10. A set of 6 floral-cut mason jar lids in an adorable cloth bag, along with a sweet set of floral paper straws from my friend, Ana of We Love Citrus.  Coupon Code “WELOVEBIRTHDAYS” for everyone to save 20% off anything in Ana’s shop until 10/31.

11. 2 GORGEOUS cards from the fabulous Small Adventure artist, Keiko!  (She’s a favorite of mine from Renegade Craft Fairs of the past.  My favorites also include her print of North American Butterflies and Flowers)

12. Starbucks Venti Tumbler.  (Can’t beat a good tumbler and I use my metal one every day)

13. Medusae Airplant.  (Had to find a way to bring some garden into this box.  Got this one at Pigment)

14. Trader Joe’s Sea Salt Caramels (I’m a lover of all things caramel.  I can’t help myself with these!)

15. My current favorite dress pattern for little girls: “Sally” dress from Very Shannon! (Can’t wait to make this? Buy it here now with 10% off with code “GOLDEN10″)

16. Handmade Charlotte stencils for your organizing needs!  (Love the lady who created these. ;))

17.  Rifle Paper Company botanicals label and sticker set. (I use these ALL THE TIME.  They don’t print this one anymore.  They also make amazing holiday labels!)

18. A vintage Bing Crosby “Merry Christmas” vinyl.  (My very favorite Christmas album!)

19. St. Helena Olive Oil Company’s Balsamic Method Tradizionale.  (Best balsamic you will every have in your whole life. No competition)

20. West Elm’s mason jar cocktail shaker. (I got mine at our San Diego store here.  The capacity of this thing is amazing)

21. Gweneth Paltrow’s Cookbook “It’s All Good” (I’m in love with this cookbook and I’m not a great cookbook user)

22. A set of 6 blue vintage remake mason jars (who doesn’t love a good mason jar, plus…BLUE!)

23. & 24. My favorite shampoo and conditioner from Acure ( finally a great smelling shampoo that is organic and ACTUALLY works)

25. to 28. 4 bottles of Scrappy’s Bitters for all of your cocktail needs!

29. $5 gift card to Target (Favorite.Duh.)

30. $25 to TARGET because they are that amazing!!!! (Right?)

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WINNER IS…

AMY SEEGERS!!!

Took my a while to get a hold of Amy. I was just about to pick a new winner when I heard back from her!  Yay, Amy!

Enter the giveaway below and PLEASE share a little birthday love for me and spread the word about my giveaway! Thanks, friends!
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Chicken Coop Update: We Have Walls!

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Ed has been working so hard on this chicken coop!  Check out my first post here about this amazing news!  We are still gathering and soaking in as much information as possible.  Over the last few Saturdays, Ed dug trenches (with a little help from those hard-working guys outside of Home Depot), installed framing, cement blocks, part of the wood siding, the base of the coop interior, frame and installed 2 of our vintage windows, and installed 1 vintage screen door.

Here are some chicken related questions with been wondering about, as well as some things we are learning (PLEASE SHARE YOUR CHICKEN KNOWLEDGE BELOW!):

Do we want to throw a Thanksgiving turkey in the coop and will he get along with the chickens? Not sure if we would be taking on too much with that one.

Where to buy our chickens? I’ve found some local hatcheries here in San Diego.  It’s really important to me that they eat good food from the minute they’re born.  Why else would we be raising them, right?

What should we feed them? After looking at loads and loads of websites and local store options for feed, I’ve concluded that I will be making my chicken feed and scratch, among other things.  Sheesh.  I don’t know why I’m surprised.  Chicken feed, even organic, is FULL of corn and fillers.  What’s the point?  Everything I’ve read says feed chickens corn as a treat and yet it’s the first ingredient on every bag I look at.  This is not ok therefore I am searching for balanced recipes.  This one looks perfect and well researched. Recipes?

How to keep pests away?  I am searching for the right kind of containers to store food in to keep rats and moths away.  HELP!

How do I take care of these little ladies?  Right now, we are reading, having the kids read, and are reading to the kids, “A Chicken In Every Yard”, “The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals”, and “Farm Anotomy” to gather information! Favorite books?

What is the best way to reap the benefits of chicken poop?  I currently have to buy chicken fertilizer for my garden so I’m searching for the right kinds of cleanup methods that are best for getting the most out of chicken droppings.  Hey.  Nothing wasted, right?

Names!!  I think it’s safe to say that every one of us is excited about naming these ladies!  I’m expecting names that reflect Star Wars, book characters, hilarity, and maybe something slightly inappropriate coming from my husband.  We are splitting them up to name them so everyone will have their chance to pick!

To follow the every day chicken and backyard homesteading adventures, follow us on Instagram.

PLEASE share anything you’ve learned below!

Here’s the coop progress by the man who is constantly surprising me with making my dreams coming true…even chicken dreams…

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A Golden Afternoon Farm

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We are so excited to be expanding our little backyard “farm”!!  For a solid 3 years, I’ve read, thought, prayed, researched, and dreamt of owning chickens.  The time has not been right in our lives until recently.  I see now why previous years would not have been good.  To take a venture like this, the entire family has to be all in and ready to take on the work involved.  I can honestly say that we are ALL ready!

A Golden Afternoon Farm is ready.

My husband has bravely taken on the task of building us a rather large chicken coop.  Right now, we are planning on having 15 chickens.  Sound like a lot?  Well, we use 5 dozen eggs a week for all of our breakfast, baking, and other food needs.  That’s what happens when you cook from scratch, I guess.  Plus, we’d like to be able to share some with our friends and family (get ready Erik and El!). He’s never build a chicken coop, but he has all of the spirit he needs to carry him through!  He is proving that if you want to do something enough, you can learn your way through the hard parts.  I’m really proud of him.  We have been married almost 10 years and he’s still making my dreams come true.  Who knew a chicken coop could be such an amazing and unexpected display of affection?

I’ll keep you posted on our progress and share how he built it after it’s finished!  We don’t have chicks lined up yet but I really felt strongly about finishing the coop before getting the chicks to make everything smooth and stress-free.

NOW, any seasoned chicken farmers please leave as much advice as you can in the comments!  I want to know what you did right and also what you would have done differently.  For the organic farmers…what you feed your chickens (every organic feed I see is loaded with corn!).

Favorite this and that…

tricks of the trade…

Please share!

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Make: A Succulent Teacup Planter

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Last year after Christmas, I told myself to find something simple yet wonderful to make for my friends the next year.  I get caught up in so many projects and commitments, sometimes I end up leaving less room for the fun handmade Christmas presents I love so much.  My schedule has changed a lot the last two Christmas seasons with my attention turning towards homeschooling.  I am enjoying this school year so much but when vacations comes around, I am in much need of rest and time to finish projects…and go to seemingly endless rehearsals and performances for the Nutcracker.  I wanted a gift that would be easy, fun, inexpensive (although, good friends are always deserving of the best!), and beautiful.

I feel really good about these succulent planters.

Succulents are perfect for everyone because they look great and SUPER EASY to take care of as they need minimal care and water once established. Perfect for friends, your mother-in-law or mom,  the neighbors, or the UPS driver.

I started looking around estate sales and thrift stores for good English china to plant succulents in a few months ago.  I noticed that the Japanese and Chinese tea cups were always more.  How nice that the one I was looking for was actually less.  Yay, for me!  I got mine ranging from $.25 to $6.  If I was in love with the cup, I would buy it for $6, but usually not.  You could buy new ones as well.  A special monogram mug from Anthropologie is always a good idea for $8.

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Required materials:

tea cup

glue

soil

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Basically, I took the teacup, glued the bottom of the cup to the saucer (optional), filled it with soil, and added succulent clippings.  They survive for long periods of time with limited water, but make sure to keep the soil moist while they are developing roots.  If you have time, place the clippings in water, wait for the roots to form, then add them to the soil.  I’ve been propagating them for a few months now from my own yard.  It would be super easy for you to find a neighbor with overgrown neighborhoods (think retro 70′s neighborhoods where they will be prevalent, like mine).  I saw some down the street from me and will definitely ask them in the future since it’s a variety I don’t have.

That means they’d be FREE!

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Tomato Gazpacho with Pickled Onions and Parsley Oil

Isn’t it great how some of the most enjoyable foods are the simplest?  A scrumptious garden tomato with a simple sprinkling of salt is a delicious gift.

So simple.

I made my case for peaches being one of the greatest foods of summer, but tomatoes are right up there too.  The kids and I had an opportunity this past weekend to pick at a local farm here in San Diego, Suzie’s Farm.  We’ve done many farm tours there for school and we love being able to pick baskets and baskets of produce goodness.  The Best.  When summer fruits and veggies are at their peak, very little needs to be done to improve upon them.  God created a tomato or a pepper to go from incredibly sour and inedible, to juicy and sweet in just a few days, thanks to that glorious summer sun.

What a fantastic overseer and gardener God is.

Thank you, God, for tomatoes.

I think gazpacho is a such an amazing soup. It actually existed way way back in the deep dark corners of the history books.  Maybe it’s just my love of history, but I think it’s pretty cool to eat something like they did in Rome long ago, don’t you think?  It was created to both enjoy the produce of summer but also to eat on a hot day.  Quite simply, it is a tomato-based soup served chilled.  All of the ingredients are thrown into the blender, so no cooking over the stove or turning on the oven for this recipe!  The pickled onions add a little tang and the parsley oil adds some fun flavor and color.

Ok, let’s blend…

Toss all of the gazpacho ingredients in the blender.  Puree for a few minutes or until completely smooth.  Season to your liking.

Pour into bowls.

Done.

I find arranging buffet style toppings for meals encourages kids to create their own meals and eventually try things which  would normally cause them to freak out.  Having a small level of control even helps mine to branch out and try new things.

Above, I have hard-boiled eggs, pickled red onions, parsley oil (see below), bruschetta, goat cheese, cucumber, and avocado.  If you had shrimp or crab available, that would be fantastic too!

I also served ours with bread since it is an automatic comfort to my kids when they are eating something with a texture like a soup.  Gazpacho or even tomato soup are delicious with torn pieces of bread in them.

Enjoy!

Tomato Gazpacho with Pickled Onions and Parsley Oil

For the gazpacho:

6 regular size tomatoes, preferably heirloom

1  large avocado

1 sweet pepper, any color

1 regular size cucumber, peeled and diced

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

2 T. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. paprika

1-2 cloves of garlic

salt and pepper, to taste

For the toppings:

pickled onions

avocado, chopped

hard-boiled egg, chopped

fresh bruschetta (chopped tomatoes, dash of olive oil, garlic, salt)

goat cheese, crumbled

cucumber, peeled and chopped

Parsley Oil:

1 c. of fresh parsley

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

salt, to taste

Blanch the parsley for 1 minute in boiling water.  Strain and blend with the olive oil in a blender.  Serve, salt, and refrigerate.

Add all of the gazpacho ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.  Season to your liking.  Add the toppings and enjoy!

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