Author Archives: Deanna Michaels

DIY Foaming Hand Soap

This DIY Foaming Hand Soap is one of the easiest things you can make! Not only do you control exactly what goes into it, you also save a ton of money!

Foaming bottle and essential oils. DIY Foaming Hand Soap.

Affiliate links are used in this post.

Forget spending $3.50-$5.50 on a bottle of quality soap, this can happen for as little as $.50. Quite the savings for 30 seconds of work. (And nope, that’s not exaggerating.)

I know life can get crazy and sometimes we need to put DIY on the back burner, but this is something you can keep up with during even the craziest seasons. You also know exactly what’s inside of it and can easily change scents without adding harmful ingredients or artificial colors.

DIY Foaming Hand Soap Ingredients:

Liquid Castile Soap – 1/4 Cup

Where to buy:

Moisturizing Oil (optional)

Water (distilled, filtered, or boiled) – to finish filling container

Essential Oils – 15-30 total drops

Preservative – 1/2 teaspoon (optional)

  • Optiphen Plus. I’ve seen some places that recommend adding this preservative to extend the shelf life. It’s a paraben and formaldehyde-free preservative.

Foaming Bottle

  • Here’s a 3-pack from Amazon.
  • An even cheaper option is to purchase a $1 bottle of foaming hand soap from the store, dispose of the contents, rinse the bottle, remove the label, and reuse.

Do you make your own hand soap? Any favorite essential oils combos I should try? (Keep reading for the recipe in printable, consolidated format :) )

castile soap, essential oils, bottle to make foaming hand soap.

Are you new to saving money or interested in lots of tips to help you be able to live on your limited income? Check out Erin’s new book filled with 100 tips, tricks, and simple ways she provided for her family on a budget.

For more ways to save, check out:

What are your favorite (easy) DIY projects?

DIY Foaming Hand Soap
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup unscented liquid castile soap
  • 15-30 drops essential oils
  • Moisturizing Oil (optional) choice of: ½ teaspoon vitamin E oil, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon almond oil, or 1 tablespoon fractionated coconut oil.
  • ½ teaspoon optiphen plus (optional)
  • Water (distilled, purified, or boiled)
Instructions
  1. In the bottom of foaming bottle place castile soap. Add essential oils and moisturizing oil and preservative (if using).
  2. Gently swish around.
  3. Fill bottle with water being sure to leave room for lid.

Foaming bottle and essential oils to make foaming hand soap.

 

 

Hospitality on a Budget

You want to open your home, open your life, and build community. You have a little concern though: How can you show hospitality on a budget?

Dining room table with sign on it. Frugal hospitality.

There’s isn’t much wiggle room when it comes to your finances, but you feel called to reach out to those around you and invite others in.  (For help with hospitality as in introvert check out this post!)

There are several ways you can be hospitable without breaking the bank. Think outside the box – there are no rules that showing hospitality can only look one way.

Hospitality on a Budget

Dessert

Make up a pan of brownies or a sheet cake and invite a family over for dessert. Super simple and you don’t have to worry about a main dish.

Popcorn and Games/Movie

This again skips the pressure of having to make a meal. Make up some buttery popcorn and a batch of kettle corn and pull out a few games to play.

Tea and Muffins

Invite a mom over one afternoon and let the kids play while you enjoy tea, muffins, and fellowship.

Cookies at the Park

Make up a batch or two of cookies (made with butter you bought on sale and stocked up in the freezer) and text some of your friends with kids and have them meet up at a local park.

Simple Meal

If you go for a meal, remember it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Go for easy and affordable. Use what you already have in the fridge or what’s on sale. Soup and homemade bread is one of my favorite frugal options. Pasta also tends to be a budget friendly (and kid friendly) option. Also, don’t worry about sides. If you have them, great, if not that’s fine too.

Simple

Don’t stress about decorations or drinks. Go for less unless you already have things to use. Watching after holiday clearance sales are a great way to add a few decor items to your stash for future events.

Potluck

You don’t have to do it all! Pick a theme and invite a few families over for a potluck. Perhaps Mexican, baked potato bar where everyone brings toppings, Italian, finger foods, or just a good old church style potluck.

Meet up at Free Community Events

Watch out for fun events in your town. Meeting up with friends for the Rodeo Parade or hitting up the ladies’ night out at a local store doesn’t cost either of you anything and it is still fun.

Coffee Shop or Restaurant

This one has the potential to not be budget friendly so plan carefully. Find a local place with some frugal items on the menu – a mug of black coffee or hot tea might cost you under $2. Split an appetizer. To save money, be sure to watch whether you are expected to tip or not.

Picnic table with apples and candle on it. Hospitality on a budget.

Hospitality at my house isn’t elaborate.

There aren’t 5 course meals or grilled steak on the menu. However, no one has gone hungry and the food is always appreciated.

Find simple things to do that work with your budget. Don’t stress. Just invite people in and enjoy their company.

What are you favorite ways to show hospitality on a budget?

If you are an introvert and find yourself struggling with hospitality, be sure to check out this post for encouragement!

For a lot more info on hospitality and learning to just open the door to your home and life, be sure to check out Jen Schmidt’s new book!

Picnic table with apples and candle on it. Frugal hospitality.

Dining room table with sign on it. Hospitality on a budget.

Easy Sourdough Waffles

Easy Sourdough waffles with butter and maple syrup.

These easy sourdough waffles are on our menu weekly.

Well, make that more than once a week. The kids eat them for breakfast at least twice and then we normally make them for Saturday lunch as well.

Not only are they easy, these are the best sourdough waffles!

I recently delved into the vast world of sourdough. Wow, so much information and so much science. It’s fascinating. I don’t have the brain power (or energy) to be an expert sourdough maker but thanks to a starter my brother-in-law gave me I’m enjoying switching some of my regulars over to natural yeast.

If you don’t have a brother-in-law quite as impressive as mine 😉 , (affiliate link coming) there are sourdough starters you can purchase on Amazon!  You really can find everything there.

Besides these easy sourdough waffles, we also make sourdough sandwich bread and pizza dough weekly.

Because I’m not an expert, I’m not going to give you advice on starting or maintaining your starter, but I’m going to work on a post of my go to resources!

I use recently fed sourdough in this recipe. I mix it up in the evening and the sourdough was fed that morning up to 3-4 hours prior.

Easy Sourdough waffles with butter and maple syrup.

Easy Sourdough Waffles (aka The Best Sourdough Waffles)

Equipment Used (affiliate links):

Easy Sourdough Waffles
Serves: 6 waffles
 
Ingredients
Night Before:
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (fed that day)
  • 1½ cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup water
Next Day
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, optional
Instructions
  1. Combine sourdough starter, flour, and water in a glass mixing bowl. Depending on thickness of your starter you might have to adjust water. Cover and let sit overnight.
  2. The next day preheat waffle iron.
  3. Stir all remaining ingredients together (salt, baking soda, vanilla, melted butter, eggs, and sugar if desired) and pour on top of the sourdough mixture.
  4. Stir with a fork until combined.
  5. Cook in waffle maker until golden brown.
  6. Top with butter and maple syrup.
Notes
I do not use sugar in my waffles.
If making waffles for lunch I still start them the night before. If I am making waffles for supper, I start the process in the morning.

Easy Sourdough waffles with butter and maple syrup.Easy Sourdough waffles with butter and maple syrup.

Being Hospitable as an Introvert

Hospitality. It can be intimidating, even scary. You might think your life is too crazy and your house is too messy. Besides, you are an introvert. Isn’t being hospitable as an introvert stressful?

Coffee mug talking about hospitality and introverts.

It’s easy to want perfect – food, house, entertainment. We want to impress our guests. Less than 100% isn’t good enough. That puts a lot of pressure on us and on our families. A lot of unnecessary pressure. (If finances is your bigger concert, be sure to check out this post on hospitality on a budget!)

We decided to make this year one of focusing on opening our home and just inviting in those in our lives – even when we otherwise might have considered it too inconvenient, even when it might seem scary.

It’s been good,  it’s been fun. We’ve gotten to know people, make memories, and have conversations we wouldn’t have otherwise. Coming from an introvert, don’t let stepping outside of your comfort zone or your personality hold you back. You will miss out on so much!

Here are a few tips for you fellow introverts when it comes to hospitality and opening up your home and life.

Tips to Being Hospitable as an Introvert:

Do Simple.

Stop trying to do so much.

An elaborate 4 course meal isn’t necessary. You don’t even have to do a meal. Try inviting a new friend over for tea and muffins or having a family over for popcorn and a game.

Decorate if it’s your thing, but if not, don’t worry about it.

We all have our own lives, our own strengths, our own likes and dislikes, our own way of doing things. You don’t have to try and copy what someone else is doing.

Instead just start right where you are at. I love this quote from Jen Schmidt’s new book, Just Open the Door:

Quote on starting to be hospitable. Just start - you can be hospitable as an introvert.

 

Cleaning Routine.

He he. This one right here is probably my biggest stressor. 3 kids, working, homeschooling, projects. Sometimes it’s hard to keep on top of things.

A perk to our focus on hospitality this year has been to keep the house a little tidier than it typically was. Sure, some days are chaos, but generally we aren’t too far off from a house that’s clean enough for guests.

Try implementing a cleaning schedule to make sure you stay on top of things.

Go for Good Enough.

If everything had to be perfect before I went for it, let me tell you, it wouldn’t happen!

House projects take longer than expected. (Living in the midst of one now.) Kids keep on playing. Cooking has to happen.

Embrace the imperfection. Now, I know there are some basic cleanliness things that need to happen. (Who wants to use a filthy bathroom or eat food from a grimy table?)

But at the same time, remember that everyone else has the same sorts of things happening in their lives. You opening up your home, especially with real life happening, might encourage others to do the same.

Move Outside your Home.

Okay, so maybe your home is undergoing an extensive remodeling project. Or maybe right now, trying to clean in order to host people really stresses you out.

Don’t let that stop you. Instead, be hospitable elsewhere. Bring cookies and water and meet up with a new friend at the park. Use the coffee shop or a restaurant to visit. Invite a mom to go on a walk pushing strollers. There are so many options.

Look for ordinary moments that you’d normally spend by yourself and invite someone to join you.

Quote on finding hospitality in the ordinary. Ways to be hospitable as an introvert.

Start with Your Friends.

As you begin to get into the habit of opening the door of your home and opening the door of your heart and life, start with a friend.

You’ll will have a great time and won’t be as stressed. That will help you be brave and motivated enough to reach out to someone you might not know as well the next time.

Have More Than One Person Over.

Maybe your biggest stressor is carrying on a conversation or worrying that you won’t click with someone you don’t know well.

Try inviting over two friends/couples/families so there will be multiple people to keep the conversation moving.

Have over a good friend and also someone you don’t know as well.

Dining room table talking about hospitality and introverts.

Think of Questions.

Most of the time, conversation really does flow easily. As you start talking, subjects naturally come up and you are asking questions and sharing with each other automatically.

If you are still worried about conversations, though, think of 10 questions you can ask if you feel the dialogue has stalled.

Even questions like: “How long have you lived here?” “How many siblings do you have?” “Do you have any trips planned for this summer?” “How did you meet?”

Ask about their kids, interests, hobbies, favorite books or movies, jobs, family life.

If you are a good listener, you will most likely have follow up questions that can be asked and the conversations will go deeper – really begin to get to know your guests. Often times your guests will ask you the same questions in return.

Relax, and simply enjoy getting to know people!

Just decide hospitality is something you are going to do!

Don’t stress, just do. It is good. It really is enjoyable, even as an introvert. Take that step and simply invite someone in.

Just open the door!

What tips do you have for being hospitable as an introvert?

Money is another big obstacle. Be sure to read this post for ideas on ways you can show hospitality on a budget.

Jen Schmidt has new book out called (affiliate links used) Just Open the Door. She’s the queen of hospitality and loving those around her. To hear her story and glean from her years of experience you’ll want to read her book!

Dining Room table, hospitality as an introvert. coffee mug on table. Hospitality and introverts.

 

Cheap gift ideas for her

Great list of cheap gift ideas for her! Perfect for your friend, sister, mom, coworker and they are all under $10 and on Amazon Prime!!! #frugal #gifts #giftideas #presents #budget #christmas #birthday #mom #sister #presentforher

I use affiliate links in my posts. If you purchase through them I receive a small portion of sales. Check out my disclosure for more info.

It can be hard to find Christmas presents on a budget – especially if you have a long list of people to buy for. Cheap is probably not the best word, maybe frugal or budget friendly is better but I have a list of cheap gift ideas for her!

The her might mean mom, sister, friend, or co-worker.

Each of these gifts are $10 or under and they are all available on Amazon prime (or were when I put it together 😉 )! Hooray for affordable gifts that you don’t even have to leave your house for.

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

Cheap Gift Ideas for Her:

1. Mugs. I love having my tea in a cute mug. There are a lot of cute mugs out there. Check out some of these on Amazon. This pink Do All Things in Love mug, or this on that says Always be Joyful in Hope. Of course there always something like this with polka dots. Target and Walmart should have some cute options in the store as well.

2. Coloring Book for Grown Ups. Countless options out there, so if you know a specific interest you could probably find a book to go with it. There are also a lot of basic coloring books. Check out these two to get you started.

3. Colored Pencils. These would be great to accompany the coloring book. Check out this brand to get top of the line pencils. There is a small set available for under $10. Or you could always go with this package from Crayola.

4. Scarf. A blanket scarf, infinity scarf, or a light weight shawl wrap scarf are all fun options.

5. Socks. Here are some cute owl socks, this pack has geometric shapes, some wool socks, or these that have foxes on them.

6. Wood Sign. You could go inspirational like this or this, get something for the coffee lover, book lover, or use it to tell your friend just how much you love them.

7. Journal. Bullet journals are super popular so something like this would be appreciated or else a hardcover banded journal. You could also go for a more inspirational cover like this or this.

8. Pens. A 12 pack of assorted colored felt tipped pens would go great with the journals or even by themselves – list making will be a lot more enjoyable. 😉

9. Soy Candles. Soy candles are a little more expensive but they are better for you. Here is a woodwick candle, a Mrs. Meyer’s peppermint candle, and a vanilla rose candle.

10. Chocolate. Everyone needs a chocolate stash, right? Be the favorite and replenish your friends. Here are a couple options. If you have a Trader Joe’s I love their chocolate bars. Or check out the natural section of your grocery store for brands like Endangered Species, Alter Ego, and Green & Black.

11. Tea or Coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker but if your friend is, buy local or gourmet coffee beans or ground coffee. If they are a tea lover, a new box of tea is always fun. I enjoy Yogi (one of my favorites is this), Stash (I love this one), and Tazo.

12. Relaxation. Have you ever used a head scratcher? We bought one a few years ago and they feel amazing. This set comes with a back scratcher too. If your friend is a bath lover you could also do bath salts.

13. Books. My sister recently read this book by Emily Freeman and said it was amazing. I read this missionary biography a couple years ago and was inspired by it and I read Unbroken last year and LOVED it. Check out this post for more ideas.

14. Gift Cards. In can be hard to spend money on ourselves, so a gift card is a little guilt free spending splurge. Some ideas are you local bookstore or coffee shop, a favorite fast casual restaurant, Target, Starbucks, or Amazon.

15. Slippers. Don’t laugh, but I bought my first pair of slippers a couple years ago. Super cheap soft soled ones and I wore them out! Last year my husband got me another pair with rubber soles so I could toss mine. I’m a slipper convert for those winter months.

16. Nail Polish. Stuff the slippers or mug with a few little extra items. Some non toxic polish would be a fun little extra.

So, what are your favorite cheap gift ideas for her?  Any well loved, budget friendly ideas I should add to my list?

If you are looking for more help on your gift lists, be sure to check out these posts:

Great list of cheap gift ideas for her! Perfect for your friend, sister, mom, coworker and they are all under $10 and on Amazon Prime!!! #frugal #gifts #giftideas #presents #budget #christmas #birthday #mom #sister #presentforher Great list of cheap gift ideas for her! Perfect for your friend, sister, mom, coworker and they are all under $10 and on Amazon Prime!!! #frugal #gifts #giftideas #presents #budget #christmas #birthday #mom #sister #presentforher

New Mexico Style Pizza

This New Mexico Style PIzza is an amazingly tasty twist on traditional pizza. Salsa verde makes the base of the sauce and so many flavorful toppings. Must make soon! #pizza #pizzanight #mexican #texmex #salsaverde #cilantro #supper #chicken #turkey #leftoverturkey

I use affiliate links in my posts. If you purchase through them I receive a small portion of sales. Check out my disclosure for more info.

I have an amazing pizza recipe for you today. It’s a little bit different. In fact, you’ve probably never made or even eaten one quite like it. What exactly is it? New Mexico Style Pizza! Think Mexican pizza with a twist.

My mom found this recipe when I was growing up and I recently had to email her and ask for it, because I had to make it. :-) It’s been made several times in my house over the past few months. It was even a hit with company.

Salsa verde and a little lime juice make the perfect sauce. Then we top it with chicken, corn, green onions, and cheddar cheese. After it comes out of the oven sprinkle with cilantro and top with sour cream if you’d like. (Though it’s just as good without the sour cream.)

See what I mean? It’s unique and full of flavor.

I think this recipe would also be a great one to use up some of that leftover turkey on. Swap the chicken for turkey and your family won’t even think of Thanksgiving as they eat this.

If you are looking for a pizza crust recipe, check out this one that I have. Pizza dough is super easy and forgiving. Plus, making it means you can get your preferred crust thickness. You could also buy refrigerated pizza dough (Trader Joe’s sells one) or a prebaked crust.

This New Mexico Style PIzza is an amazingly tasty twist on traditional pizza. Salsa verde makes the base of the sauce and so many flavorful toppings. Must make soon! #pizza #pizzanight #mexican #texmex #salsaverde #cilantro #supper #chicken #turkey #leftoverturkey

New Mexico Style Pizza

5.0 from 1 reviews
New Mexico Style Pizza
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup salsa verde (see notes for more info)
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 cup cooked chicken
  • ½ cup frozen corn, thawed
  • ½-1 cup cheddar cheese (or a mix of cheddar and mozzarella)
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
  • Pizza dough (or a large crust)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix together the first 5 ingredients.
  3. Roll out pizza dough (I do a 14 inch circle), place on pizza stone, and spread with the sauce mixture.
  4. Top with chicken, corn, green onions, and cheese.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and top with cilantro and sour cream (if desired).
  7. Cut into 8 pieces and serve.
Notes
The original recipe called for a lot more sauce, so feel free to double the sauce ingredients if desired. We found that ½ cup of salsa verde was the perfect amount for one pizza.
This New Mexico Style PIzza is an amazingly tasty twist on traditional pizza. Salsa verde makes the base of the sauce and so many flavorful toppings. Must make soon! #pizza #pizzanight #mexican #texmex #salsaverde #cilantro #supper #chicken #turkey #leftoverturkey This New Mexico Style PIzza is an amazingly tasty twist on traditional pizza. Salsa verde makes the base of the sauce and so many flavorful toppings. Must make soon! #pizza #pizzanight #mexican #texmex #salsaverde #cilantro #supper #chicken #turkey #leftoverturkey

Best Gifts for a Preschool Boy

These are the best gift ideas for a preschool boy. They are all my sons FAVORITE things. Great ideas for every budget.

I use affiliate links in my posts. If you purchase through them I receive a small portion of sales. Check out my disclosure for more info.

Oh preschool boys. I have one of them in my house right now and they are a lot of fun and can be super sweet and cuddly but they are also loud, messy, and a lot of work. My preschool boy loves to explore and experiment – and in the process ruin things! What are the best gifts for preschool a boy?

These guys definitely keep moving, but given the right toys can sit down and work at a project for a long time. I’ve put together a list of the best gifts for a preschool boy – and all of them are ones my son LOVES! Scooting and biking he has a blast with but he’ll also sit down on the kitchen floor and put together puzzle after puzzle.

Best Gifts for a Preschool Boy

1. Scooter

At 4, my son has been scooting for several years now and can be quite the daredevil. I think learning to ride a scooter helped him learn to bike ride without training wheels easily too.

2. Train Set

Trains. Is there anything else to say. We have tracks at home and when we go to children museums he still goes right for the train table.

3. Dinosaurs

My kids are obsessed with these creatures and we have quite the assortment of dinos at our house. They often make an appearance with the train tracks.

4. Construction Trucks

We can spend hours watching trucks at a construction site and he loves taking his trucks into our yard and creating his own work site.

5. Puzzles

I’m always surprised how much my preschooler loves puzzles – but he can sit there and do one after another.

6. Bike

If it helps him go fast, my son is all over it. He’s always asking to ride bike.

7. Sandbox

The perfect place to put those construction trucks to work. 😉

8. Books

Books about their favorite subjects are always a hit. In our house that means books all about trains, trucks, and dinos with a few other favorites mixed in.

9. Coloring/Art Supplies

The perfect thing to get creative with and practice drawing trains and dinos. If you are brave by some paint. It’s a little messy, but my 4 year old loves it.

10. Building Kit

My guy also loves using a hammer and helping his dad with projects. This kit is similar to the projects that Lowe’s used to offer and he loved.

11. Games

Games with parents and siblings are a favorite. These are the ones that my son says are his favorite – and he really does pick them out the most frequently. Hiss is his number one pick.

12. Bug House

Thankful for my little guy who likes bugs! That means I don’t have to mess with them. :-)

13. Lego Duplo

When they get going, my preschool boy can spend hours playing Duplos with his sister.

What are your ideas for best gifts for a preschool boy? Anything I should get for my son that he’ll love?

If you are looking for more help on your gift lists, be sure to check out these posts:

These are the best gift ideas for a preschool boy. They are all my sons FAVORITE things. Great ideas for every budget.These are the best gift ideas for a preschool boy. They are all my sons FAVORITE things. Great ideas for every budget.

These are the best gift ideas for a preschool boy. They are all my sons FAVORITE things. Great ideas for every budget.
These are the best gift ideas for a preschool boy. They are all my sons FAVORITE things. Great ideas for every budget.

Gifts for the Home Cook

Great gift ideas for the home cook! These will be perfect for lots of people on my gift list. Ideas for every budget too.

I use affiliate links in my posts. If you purchase through them I receive a small portion of sales. Check out my disclosure for more info.

I spend a lot of time in my kitchen and I’d love this gifts for the home cook! I’m all about quality over quantity when it comes to gadgets and love cooking from scratch. If you are good of enough friends with the person (maybe even a family member) in your life that spends a lot of time in the kitchen, you’ll probably have a pretty good idea what sort of items from this list they’ll enjoy.

For even more ideas, be sure to check out these 3 posts where I share my favorite kitchen appliances, tools, and gadgets:

Gifts for the Home Cook

1. Measuring Spoons

Every home cook needs a set of stainless steel measuring spoons that range from 1/8 teaspoon to 1 tablespoons. A lot of sets skip the 1/8 teaspoon, but I use it all the time.

2. Measuring Cups

These are a splurge the home cook might not purchase for themselves, but are so handy. I’ve had handles fall of of several cheaper sets of stainless steel measuring cups.

3. Good Quality Foods

A lot of times, a home cook on a budget won’t splurge to try imported products or excellent quality stuff that’s more expensive. A gift is a perfect way to get the explore new foods.

Think vinegar:

or olive oil:

or spices:

or salt:

4. Fun Kitchen Towel

Look for something that fits their style and would make them smile. Check in your local Target and Wal-Mart too! My favorite cute dish towels actually came from our local bookstore and from Pottery Barn.

Or check out these adorable (and affordable) towels from Hobby Lobby:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Cutting Board

Good quality cutting boards – something I still need to purchase. The cheap plastic ones dull my knives so quickly. If you go with plastic, make sure it’s at least well made!

6. Aprons

I don’t use apron often, but I like having one when I’m cooking things that will be splattering grease or when I’m in nice clothes.

7. Decor

Again, know your recipients style – but there are lots of fun options out there. Shop online and don’t forget about Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, and Target stores.

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8. Assorted Cheeses

Give your home cook some fun ingredients they normally wouldn’t splurge on. Trying and using cheese is so much fun.

9. Pizza Stone/Steel

Everyone at least needs a ceramic pizza stone. I’ve broken a few pizza stones over the last years, so someday I want to try a pizza steel!

10. Knife Organizer

I’d rather have a few knives than an entire block of them. This is on my wish list for storing them safely:

Or else one of these drawer knife holders.

11. Cookbooks

I know there’s such a thing as too many cookbooks, but a new one can be a lot of fun! Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

What are your favorite gifts for the home cook?

If you are looking for more help on your gift lists, be sure to check out these posts:

Great gift ideas for the home cook! These will be perfect for lots of people on my gift list. Ideas for every budget too. Great gift ideas for the home cook! These will be perfect for lots of people on my gift list. Ideas for every budget too.

Mandarin Salad

This easy mandarin salad is a delicious salad dinner option that's husband approved. We love the crunch of chow mein noodles and the sweetness of the pineapple. Yum!

I use affiliate links in my posts. If you purchase through them I receive a small portion of sales. Check out my disclosure for more info.

Salads are one of my favorite things to eat! In fact, I don’t think there can be too many salads in your repertoire. Who knew a plate full of fresh produce can yield so many different flavors? This Mandarin Salad is a fun one – crunchy chow mein noodles and juicy pineapple! Yum.

We’ve been making this recipe for over 20 years! When I was a kid, some friends made this salad and we loved it and requested the recipe. Growing up, we simply called this Mandarin Salad, “Mrs. Bowen’s Salad”. 😉

I know we think of salads as health food, but salads can actually be full of not so great ingredients. This salad is a bit of a splurge with an ingredient I don’t buy for anything else – chow mein noodles! But considering it’s just a topping – I’m okay with it.

Besides, this salad is a fun twist on the typical salad flavors and is one of my husband’s favorites.

These are the noodles they have available at our Wal-Mart. Maybe a health food store would have something a little better.

Mandarin Salad

Mandarin Salad
Recipe type: Salad
 
This is a delicious and unique salad you'll want to add to your meal rotation.
Ingredients
Almonds
  • ¼ c. sliced almonds
  • 1 T. sugar (I omit the sugar)
Salad
  • 1 head romaine or green leaf lettuce
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large can pineapple tidbits, drained well (can substitute fresh)
  • 3-4 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts
  • chow mein noodles
Dressing
  • ¼ c. oil (I use olive oil)
  • 2 T. sugar (I use a pinch of stevia)
  • 2 T. vinegar
  • 1 T. snipped parsley (or 1 t. dried parsley)
  • ½ salt
  • dash pepper
  • dash Tabasco sauce
Instructions
Almonds
  1. Cook almonds and sugar over low heat until the sugar is melted and almonds coated. Cool and break apart. (Note: I simply lightly toast the almonds with no sugar)
Salad
  1. Wash and tear lettuce into small pieces.
  2. Place salad ingredients into separate dishes for a build your own salad meal (our preferred method) or toss together all salad ingredients except for the almonds and chow mein noodles. Top with chow mein noodles, dressing, and almonds right before serving.
Dressing
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small mason jar. Shake well and refrigerate until serving.

This easy mandarin salad is a delicious salad dinner option that's husband approved. We love the crunch of chow mein noodles and the sweetness of the pineapple. Yum!This easy mandarin salad is a delicious salad dinner option that's husband approved. We love the crunch of chow mein noodles and the sweetness of the pineapple. Yum!

Gift Ideas for the Female Fitness Lover

Gift ideas for the female fitness lover

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Surely we all have a female fitness lover in our lives. That means we need gift ideas for a female fitness lover. Maybe a mom, sister, friend, right? Or maybe even yourself. :-) I never really thought I’d call myself a fitness lover, especially a runner, but over the last year I’ve organized my life where exercise has become a priority. Now I actually enjoy my my running days and my strength training days. I’m even in the middle of training for a half marathon, thanks to a sister for bringing it up and being a partner in crime.

Even though it’s only October, this is also the time of year when a lot of us have gifts on our minds. Coming up with ideas of our own wants and also planning on what to buy for people on our lists. Hopefully this post will help your brainstorming gift ideas for the female fitness lover for not only Christmas but also for birthdays and any other occasion. :-)

Gift Ideas for the Female Fitness Lover

1. Headband

I bought a ponytail headband last year and I’ve loved it. I have to wear my ponytail lower than I typically do, but it’s worth it to keep my ears warm. Make sure the runner in your life has something to protect their ears.

And when the weather is hot, one of these sweat headbands would be handy:

2. iTunes Gift Card

This will let them load up their devices with new music to keep their minds in a happy place during those intense workouts.

3. Race or Competition Entry Fee

Races and competitions aren’t free. In fact they can be crazy expensive. Pay the registration to an event on their wish list.

4. Snacks

Intense exercising can make for an intense appetite. Extra nutrient dense, and portable food is always a handy idea.

5. Wireless Earbuds

6. Gloves

7. Layering Pieces

A new pullover, jacket, or shirt.

8. Belt

9. Arm Band

It’s nice to not have to hold your phone in your hand and risk dropping it.

10. Running Lights
Keep your runner safe with LED or reflective light or gear. These would be handy for those early morning or late night runs.

11. Dumbbells

I love having a light set and something heavier.

12. Water Bottle

Stainless steel insulated water bottles are always great. Here’s one I thought looks great:

13. Cookbook!

I have to know, what’s your favorite fitness gear? Who’s the fitness love in your life?

If you are looking for more help on your gift lists, be sure to check out these posts:

Gift ideas for the female fitness lover