DIY Date Night Mason Jar

DIY Date Night Mason Jar

I LOVE date nights, but sometimes we have a really hard time deciding what to do.  So when I stumbled upon this Date Night Mason Jar DIY on Pinterest, originally crafted by Life in the Green House, I thought this was an absolutely brilliant idea for us.  Daniel and I tend to be pretty indecisive when it comes to activities, sometimes wasting hours of time trying to decide on a variety of options.  I loved the idea of committing to just pulling a stick out of the jar and boom, there’s our date night with no decision making required!  I also thought it would be a good opportunity to think of more creative or unique dates, so we don’t fall into the same dinner and a movie pattern.  I’ve had this DIY on my list of to dos forever, and I finally finished it!  See below for my modifications and instructions:

Date Night SuppliesHere’s what you need:

  • 1 mason jar
  • Jumbo popsicle sticks
  • Ultra Fine Point Sharpie in black
  • Red acrylic paint
  • White acrylic paint
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Red food coloring (optional)
  • Mod Podge (optional)

Paint MeasurementsHere’s what you do:

The first thing you want to do is decide on your categories and colors, and then come up with some date ideas!  I chose red, dark pink, light pink, and white. One thing I changed from the original DIY was how the sticks are colored.  Instead of spray painting the entire popsicle stick, I decided to just paint the tips, creating a paint dipped effect.  To do this, I simply measure about an inch and a half below the tip and made a pencil marking on both sides.  I used the first completed stick as a template for the rest.

They turned out exactly how I pictured.  I love how clean and modern they look!

Date Night Color Categories

Here’s what I did for color coding and some of my date ideas for inspiration!

Red sticks are mostly nighttime dates out on the town, and they are a little more expensive and take some planning.

  • Sushi dinner
  • Downtown “food hop” (appetizer at one restaurant, dinner at another, and dessert at a different one)
  • Dinner and a movie (a little cliche, but we rarely go out to movies, so I still love this one!)
  • Dinner and drinks on Mississippi Ave.
  • Weekend away
  • A night at the theatre
  • Concert or sports game

Dark pink sticks are also nighttime dates out, but are less expensive.

  • High school mall date (go see a movie and eat at the food court, haha!)
  • Bowling
  • Ice skating
  • Drinks and dessert at a fancy restaurant (great way to try a more expensive restaurant without breaking the bank!)
  • Afternoon matinee and dinner at home
  • 4th Friday free museum night (check out your local museums, many have free nights!)
  • Happy hour and bar games
  • Dinner and beer sampling at a brewery

Light pink sticks are date nights at home.

  • Homemade sushi and movie rentals
  • Matinee out and dinner at home
  • Homemade pizza and board games
  • Fondue dinner and dessert
  • At home wine bar and cheese plates (grab a few different bottles of wine and do your own tastings!)
  • Strip games and drink champagne while taking a bubble bath (this is a great one to spice things up!)
  • Hot oil massages (another spicy date night, great way to connect and a free massage never hurt!)

White sticks are daytime dates.

  • Oregon zoo
  • Wine tasting at vineyards
  • Lunch and beer sampling at a brewery
  • Museum and food carts
  • Rock climbing gym
  • Aquarium
  • Matinee
  • Brunch and a hike or a game of tennis
  • Dim sum and a walk at the nature preserve
  • Baking and puzzle making
  • Ice skating
  • Movie or TV marathon with delivery

I chose to repeat a few of the dates, because a couple of them fit into more than one category.  This was a really fast and easy DIY, I think the longest step was coming up with the date ideas.  Take a look at the finished project!

Date Night Ideas

Date Night Mason Jar

Date Night Jar Close Up

While I don’t think I’ll have a problem remembering the color coding, I did like the idea of a color code key just in case.  The original DIY had a printed label attached to the jar with a ribbon.  I had wanted to paint the lid in chalkboard paint and create a key that way, but the jumbo sticks were a little taller than I initially realized.  So instead, I painted a popsicle stick in chalkboard paint and created a key that way!

Color Code Key

I abbreviated some things to make it easy.  N is for night, D for day, In means at home dates, and the $ signs are for expensive and less expensive.

Date Night JarBonus:  As you can tell from my pictures, my mason jar is red.  I had seen a lot of pins about mason jar tinting around the same time I saw this DIY, and I really loved that look.  So I decided I might as well stick to my red tone theme!  I followed instructions on Momtastic, and I believe I used roughly 20-30 drops of food coloring to get this deep red color.

This was such a fun DIY, I don’t know why I waited so long!  This will be great for our indecisiveness and give us the chance to be more spontaneous!  I’ve even left some room to add new dates as I think of them and when the seasons changed.  What are some of your favorite date nights?


Detox Bath: Home Remedy for Cold & Flu Season

As I sit here writing this post, my boyfriend is sick and I’m starting to feel like I’m catching whatever he has.  Oh no!  Temperatures are dropping outside, it’s wet, and the air is frigid… It’s cold and flu season.  Perhaps even more so for us because we’re transitioning to a new, colder climate!  Well, as I try not to think about that fact, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share what I have come to find as the miracle home remedy for when I’m feeling ill… The detox bath.

I first stumbled upon the detox bath on Pinterest (surprise surprise), where I found my go to recipe on the blog Beauty Bets.

Ginger Detox BathHere’s what you need:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Baking Soda
  • Ground Ginger

Here’s what you do:

  1. Draw a hot bath, as hot as you can possibly stand it.  You want to SWEAT, I mean, seriously sweat.  This will help you release toxins.
  2. The original recipe suggests you add three pints of hydrogen peroxide (3%), but I usually only add about half of a large bottle.  Hydrogen peroxide supposedly helps to oxygenate the body and help expel toxins.  It is also antiviral and antibacterial.
  3. Add about 1 cup of baking soda.  The original recipe does not include baking soda, however, after reading about detox baths on Healthy Living How To I now add it to any bath I take.  Baking soda helps neutralize chemicals (such as chlorine) and increases mineral absorption.
  4. Add 3 tablespoons of ground ginger.  Ginger is anti-inflammatory and helps increase blood circulation.  I’ve taken baths both with and without it, and I found that the ginger definitely helps you sweat more!
  5. Soak in the tub for about 30 minutes, or as long as you can stand it.  PLEASE listen to your own body!  Depending on how I feel, I will soak anywhere from 15 minutes to the full 30 minutes.  Don’t overdo it!
  6. Drink LOTS of water before, during, and after.  You want to replenish your body after sweating out all those toxins.

Tips:  I personally only take detox baths when my boyfriend is home, as you do sweat profusely and can feel a little lightheaded.  Better safe than sorry!  Also, please stand up slowly when getting out of the tub.

When you’re rinsing off, please use only natural soap that is free of harmful chemicals.  You’ve opened your pores from the hot bath and released a bunch of toxins; you don’t want to add them back into your body!

I only take this bath right before bed because it does wear you out, and makes your body will feel a bit like jello.   I usually chug a few glasses of water and go straight to sleep.  And boy, do I sleep!  This bath makes me sleep like a baby, and by the time I wake up I feel SO much better.

I’ve taken this bath during varying degrees of sickness, and I ALWAYS feel some percentage of better the next day.  I’d say somewhere between 75-100% better every single time.  It may just be the placebo effect, or the fact that the bath forces me to drink more water and get a good night’s sleep.  But considering any time I take this bath, a cold that would usually last a few weeks only lasts a couple of days… with those results, I think I’ll continue this home remedy regardless!

Here are a few other variations I often use:

Epsom Salt Detox BathHere’s what you need:

  • Baking soda
  • Epsom salt

Almost all of the directions from above apply to all detox baths.  You want the hottest bath you can stand, you want to drink lots of water, and you want to use chemical free soap when rinsing off.

  1. For this bath, I add about 2 cups of Epsom salt, which helps draw out toxins.  Epsom salt also helps decrease bloating.
  2. I also add about 1 cup of baking soda.  Again, baking soda helps neutralize chemicals.
  3. Soak for about 30 minutes.  I usually take this bath when I’m not feeling well because of my own doing.  Perhaps I’ve been eating too much sugar and junk, or have been drinking a bit too much alcohol.  This bath is great for a general detox to rejuvenate your body.

Lavender Detox BathAnother variation I do is basically the same as the recipe above, but I had 5-10 drops of lavender oil to the bath.  I especially like this bath when I feel bloated or stressed out (or both!).  Lavender has a calming effect and, again, Epsom salt is great for decreasing bloat.

In case you need some extra help, here are a few other things I do when I’m sick:  I up my intake of Vitamin C, and I take Goldenseal Echinacea drops three times a day.  You can find Goldenseal at most health food stores, I bought mine at Whole Foods.

Well, I think I’ll definitely be taking my general detox bath tonight.  Hopefully that will prevent me from fully catching my boyfriend’s illness!  I hope these detox baths help you survive cold and flu season!

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor, and these recipes are only suggestions of remedies that work for me.  They are not intended as a diagnosis or prescription, and should not be in place of medical treatment and/or advice from a professional.  Please always consult your doctor first before trying any home remedies.


Apple Recipes Perfect for the Fall

As promised, here is the 2nd round of apple recipes we tried after apple picking.  If you missed my first batch of apple recipes, be sure to check it out!  Lots of tasty meals to try!

The first recipe we tried this time was Momma Pritchett’s Grilled Pork Chops and Apple-Pear Topping.  If you eat pork, you must try this recipe.  The pork chops turned out so juicy and tender, and the marinade added delicious flavor.  Based on reviews, we didn’t change anything except the serving size (we reduced the recipe to 4 servings).

Grilled Porkchops

 For the apples and pears, I did not bring the sugar mixture to a boil as suggested.  I simply whisked the sugar until it dissolved, and then added the fruit to the pan.  We also placed the fruit directly on the grill rather than use a grill basket.

Grilled Apples and Pears

We don’t have an outdoor grill, so we just used our grill pan.  As you can see from the photos, both the pork chops and the fruit turned out picture perfect.  If you’re in the market for a grill pan, this is the one we have.  We are more than satisfied with it, and I highly recommend it!

Apple and Sausage StuffingWe paired our entree with a Sausage and Apple Stuffing.  If you recall from my first apple recipe post, I used apple smoked bacon in a turkey dish.  I also used chicken breakfast sausage in our Apple and Sausage Penne recipe.

Well, we used the rest of those ingredients in this stuffing recipe!  What was great about the recipes we decided on was that a lot of them used the same ingredients, so we really got the most bang for our buck!

The recipe did not call for bacon, but other recipes we saw did, so we decided why not add it in!  I mean, who doesn’t love bacon?  I diced the bacon and cooked it with the sausage.  We used a cornbread stuffing mix, and we used water instead of chicken broth since the recipe only called for 1 tbsp.

The stuffing turned out really well and paired beautifully with the pork chops.  We chose this recipe specifically because it was quicker than most.  I must say, even though we used a stuffing mix, there were so many fresh ingredients added in that it didn’t taste like a mix AT ALL.  This would definitely be an easy and fast stuffing for Thanksgiving, not to mention impressive!  And no one needs to know it was semi-homemade… If you make it for a large group, I suggest doubling or tripling the recipe.  Maybe we just like heaping helpings, but this didn’t last 12 servings, probably only 5-6 between the two of us.

The entire meal was SO good, and a lot quicker to make than we thought it would be.  I would highly suggest trying these recipes out!

Spaghetti Squash

The next recipe I tried was a pin I saw on Pinterest.  I’ve been wanting to cook a faux pasta dish for awhile now, so when I saw this Gluten-Free Cheesy Veggie “Pasta” Bake, I knew I had to try it!

While grocery shopping, we were trying to figure out other ways to use up our apples.  So when I saw this gorgeous spaghetti squash at Trader Joes, I immediately thought of the “pasta” bake.  I mean, apples and spaghetti squash are both typical fall flavors, so adding apples to the recipe seemed logical.

If you’re not familiar with the spaghetti squash phenomenon, it’s a great alternative to pasta if you are gluten intolerant, trying to cut back on carbs, or just want to try something different.

Spaghetti Squash Noodles

After cooking the squash (fastest and easiest method would be microwaving) and removing the seeds, you use a fork to scrape the flesh out.  You eventually end up with a big pile of spaghetti-like strands like this picture.

We followed the recipe pretty exact, but we replaced the zucchini with about 4 cups of chopped apple.  We also cooked the dish about 15-20 minutes longer than the recipe indicated, as the spaghetti squash wasn’t as soft as we wanted.

Here is the finished “pasta” bake!

Spaghetti Squash Bake

So tasty and a very healthy meal!

Apple SalsaNow, I think we’d be pretty crazy if we had all these apples and we didn’t make caramel apples!  So we invited a couple of friends over for a caramel apple making/board game party.  We made this Apple Salsa for a snack!

A very unique salsa compared to a typical tomato based salsa.  We followed the recipe exactly, and it turned out really nice.  Fresh, tart, and sweet!  There wasn’t a whole lot of spice, despite the two peppers, but you could always skip deseeding them if you want more heat.

And now for the caramel apples!  We melted the caramel according to the directions on the package, we also melted some white chocolate for double dipping.  As you can see, we had quite the topping spread.  Our toppings included:  toffee bits, Nerds, cinnamon chips, crushed Butterfinger, peanut butter chips, and chopped pecans.

Caramel Apple Toppings

Here are a few pictures of some finished apples!

Caramel Apples

White Chocolate Caramel Apple

The apples Daniel and I made were:  Nerd covered, half Butterfinger covered, peanut butter chip and pecan covered, and the one pictured above…  Double dipped in white chocolate, and covered in cinnamon chips and toffee bits (which was by far the best apple).  This was the first time we made caramel apples, and they turned out pretty good for being novices!  The only trouble we had was the caramel and toppings sinking to the bottom.  If any of you have any tips to prevent that from happening, let me know!

And finally, the very last recipe… Apple Brownies!  Now, I will warn you, these are not technically brownies and do not have the texture of a brownie.  I’d say it’s more of an apple cake, and we knew this from reading the reviews beforehand.  Most reviewers said it was delicious despite the misleading name, so we still wanted to try it out!

Apple Brownie Batter

We did change a few things after reading several reviews.  We added 1 tbsp of vanilla extract to the wet ingredients, and 1/2 tsp of nutmeg to the dry ingredients.  We creamed the butter with the sugar instead of melting it first.  We also diced the apples instead of slicing, and sprinkled the top generously with cinnamon sugar.

Not sure if you can tell by this picture, but after you’ve combined the ingredients the batter will be very thick.  It will look like only apples and barely any batter.  Totally fine!  The apples cook down and the batter surrounds them perfectly!

They came out incredibly moist and with a nice crust on the top.  Unfortunately, they’ve gotten a bit mushier with storage, but still very tasty.  Again, it’s more of a cake, so I’d say the best way to serve this would be warm and with a scoop of ice cream!  We started heating bars in the toaster oven to crisp them back up!

Apple Brownies

Whew!  I can’t believe how many recipes we tried in such a short timespan, and I seriously can’t believe how many apples we’ve eaten!  All in all, it was a fun experience.  It gave us the opportunity to try out new recipes, create our own, and cook with ingredients we don’t normally use.  So I hope you all enjoyed both part 1 and part 2 of our apple recipe adventure, found some new favorite recipes, and inspiration for your own everyday cooking!  Happy Eating!


Adventures in Highlight and Contouring

I’m sure many of you have seen the wondrous trend of Highlight and Contouring (HAC) on Pinterest, and probably want to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.  I know I did!  I really wanted to see if it worked because I don’t feel like my bone structure stands out on film that well.  If successful, perhaps this could be a camera friendly trick to land more roles!

As I’ve mentioned before, Maskcara is my go to blog for beauty videos, and was one of my first introductions to HAC.  So I’ve only followed her tips on how to Highlight and Contour thus far.  She basically does it in every makeup tutorial, each time a little differently and with different products.  The two products I bought upon her recommendation was the L’Oreal Paris True Match Foundation Powder in Deep Cool for Contouring, and Maybelline New York Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer in Nude for Highlighting.  Being a beginner, I’m not sure if these colors are working for me, since I don’t notice much of a difference in my before and after shots.  Take a look!

This is the first time I tried HAC out.  Not really noticing much of a difference here, maybe a little more definition on my cheekbones.  Because I’m new to this, I think I’m a little worried about going too heavy, as I don’t want it to be obvious in person.  This could be why there isn’t much of a contrast between the two photos.  I also think my Highlighter could be one shade lighter.

HAC Set One Before & After

This is my second attempt.  I think I got a little better, or am I just imagining it?  I think I’m seeing more definition on my cheeks, a sharper jaw line, and a thinner nose.  I find it so hard to tell though!  Is it the makeup or the angle of my face?!

HAC Set Two Before & After

Third time’s a charm, right?  I think so?  I definitely notice more of a difference between the before and after shot.  Overall it looks like my bone structure is more defined and my face is a little thinner.  I also have a bump on my nose (thanks to the Austrian side of my family), which looks less noticeable after HAC.

HAC Set Three Before & After

All in all, I was expecting more of a drastic difference after seeing all those side-by-side comparisons on Pinterest.  Beauty blogs make it look so easy!  Either my bone structure is already more defined than I think it is, or I’m just doing it wrong (most likely the latter)!

If anyone has any tips or tricks, or know what I’m doing wrong, please share in the comments section.  I’d love to hear from you!

I plan on coming back to this topic again in the future with another HAC series, to see if I’ve improved at all (and if I can take better photographs of makeup).  Stay tuned!


DIY Halloween Wine Bottles

Halloween Wine Bottle Inspiration

I love wine and I love Halloween, so when I saw this great DIY project on Pinterest by Lombardo Lagniappe, I knew I had to try it.

Our house is severely lacking in Halloween decorations, but this DIY was a pretty quick, painless, and somewhat inexpensive (depending on what supplies you already have on hand) way to fix that.

I mainly followed the original design, but changed a few techniques and aesthetics to suit my needs.

As you can see, I chose to vary the shape of the bottles rather than keep them uniform like pictured above.  I really loved how each bottle seemed to fit each “character” perfectly.  I already had these lying at home in our recycling bin, but if you don’t (and you want to keep this project inexpensive), you can’t go wrong with 2-Buck Chuck from Trader Joes!

Halloween Wine Bottles Before

In fact, the bottle on the left is Charles Shaw Chardonnay, and the bottle on the right is Charles Shaw Merlot!

Being on a budget, I couldn’t really justify buying all of the spray paint colors that were used in the original DIY.  Specifically because I didn’t know when I’d use them again, since I didn’t have any projects in the works that used spray paint.  So I chose to only buy the Frosted Glass spray paint (which I found at Home Depot), and use acrylic paint I already had for the rest of the color.

I’m sure it definitely took longer than just spraying them and using paint pens for the detailed work.  But I have to say I really liked the texture that came from hand painting them.  Not to mention the feeling of accomplishment!

And here they are, my ghoulish wine bottles!

Halloween Wine Bottles After

I followed the taping suggestions from the original blog post.  For Frankenstein, I sort of followed both examples.  I cut the notches first, and then put the tape on the bottle.  Once the paint was dry, I used an exacto knife to trace over the notches again so the paint wouldn’t peel off with the tape.  Because I couldn’t find black glitter at the store, I decided to nix it.  And in the end, I don’t think they really needed it!

Halloween Wine Bottles

Here they are on our dining room table!

A pretty spook-tacular addition, if I do say so myself!