Are you an Influenser?

People often ask me “How do you get all of these companies to send you free products to try?”. Well, that’s easy. I am proactive about seeking out opportunities. Nothing in life is ever free, if it doesn’t cost you money it will probably cost you time.  However, the time spent doesn’t have to be wasted. There are many sites that I use online that reward me in free products, vouchers and even sometimes money that I also find quite entertaining. I have compiled a list of my favorites for you and in case your wondering, no, you do not need to write a blog to participate! Anyone can join.

1. Crowdtap

Crowdtap is a fun site that prompts you to answer interesting short questions to earn points. Each day a series of questions will be available for you to answer, each one only taking seconds complete as you click your opinion from the available choices. These questions normally earn you around 25-50 points each. You can also earn larger quantity points (1,000-2,000) by completing fun tasks. These tasks can be anything from taking a photo in a grocery store of an item to sharing fun information with your friends. The site even goes even further and allows you to opt in to moderated discussions and sampling events to earn even more points. Once you accumulate points you can turn them in for amazon vouchers or other great items.

2. BzzAgent

BzzAgent is a sample and share based website. You are frequently asked to answer short surveys about your lifestyle and when your interests match what they are looking for they will invite you to join a campaign. Once you accept the campaign you will be mailed a sample (usually a full sized product) in the mail to test. If you share your review of the product with your friends through their website you have a better chance of being included in the next product campaign. Its extremely fun and easy.

3. Smiley-360

Smiley-360 is along the same lines as BzzAgent. They will invite you to join in a campaign and send you a free item to try. After trying the item you can share your thoughts on the product with your friends and earn smiles. The more smiles you earn the better your chances to get more campaigns. This website, along with BzzAgent, do not offer any monetary rewards. The opportunity to experience the new products is your reward.

4. Influenser

I am still quite new to influenser. It does, at first, seem a bit overwhelming. There are several surveys and tasks to complete to unlock badges. You can only unlock a certain number of badges so you need to pick the categories you are most interested in. If you are chosen for a campaign, then Influenser will send you a VoxBox filled with different products to try. After you try them you can go back to the site and answer more surveys about the products you tried. I’m still working on this site, but I did recieve my first VoxBox and it was quite fun and filled with great goodies.

5. PineCone Research

This is a survey site that pays you to take their surveys, however they only accept new applicants once in awhile. Look for new applicant banners to be displayed on websites and I will keep you up to date if I see them. Once you sign up you will receive emails from the company when a survey is available. The surveys can be quite lengthy, but are usually quite interesting. Each survey pays $3.  Once in awhile the company hosting the survey will send you a full sized product to test and answer questions about. I have been using this research company for several years and have enjoyed my time with them.

These are just my top five. There are many others, but these are the ones I have seemed to stick with.  If you have any other sites like these that you just adore, leave the link in the comments. I would love to check them out.
 
P.S. If you need an invitation to sign up for any of the programs listed above just email me at raisingdickandjane@yahoo.com and I will see what I can do to get you one.
 
Whats Your Opinion?
<3 Dick and Jane
 
Disclosure: Yes, this post does include affiliate links.

{How To} Create a Chicken Wire Frame #TBCcrafters

There is something about a piece of hand signed artwork that I just can not resist. The fact that someone poured their heart and soul into a project and felt proud enough of their work to sign and date it means a lot to me. I love collecting artwork. I really love displaying artwork in my home. The same art piece can inspire me in different ways each day.
As many of you know, I am not much of a winter person. Once winter begins I am pretty much counting the days until the sun arrives again and I can get back outside. Now that we are getting closer to spring here in Michigan I am getting antsy for it to begin. Right about now I am filling my life with as many things that remind me of spring as I can. It is almost as if I need to remind myself what is coming so I have the strength to wait a little bit longer. So when I came across the artwork from The Art of Jamie Barks I was smitten. It is beautiful and inspiring. Just what I needed right now.
When my artwork arrived I wanted to find a unique way to display it in my home. A standard frame would just not do it justice! So I decided to create my own original frame using a basic untreated frame and some chicken wire. What I created was perfect. I might even sign and date it 🙂
So follow along and I will show you how I made it.
Chicken Wire Frame {How To}
1. I bought a standard wooden frame from my local Michaels store. If you have old wood laying around you could also make your own, but I did not have any spare wood nor the time to spend creating my own frame so I bought one.
2. I had some left over spray paint in robins egg blue that I used to lightly coat the wooden frame. I wanted a touch of the wood to show through the paint, so I did only one light coat.
3. After the frame dried I cut (or had my husband cut) a section of chicken wire to fit the frame size.
4. He then stapled the chicken wire to the back of my frame.
5. Finally I attached my piece of artwork to the front of the frame using paperclips. I didn’t want to damage the print at all and this seemed like the best option. It actually looks quite cute as well.
Now you can display your artwork in an “artsy” way in your home. What? You have no artwork that you love to display? Well, no problem. Ive got you covered. Jamie Barks, the talented artist from this post, is giving away a free print to one of my readers! Wow, right? So take a look at her artwork and see what inspires you. Once you find one that you love you can create your own unique frame to display it on.  Now enter the giveaway using the rafflecopter entry below. I know your ready to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
  
I also got this sweet little print to hang in my daughters room. Isnt it lovely?
Choose to Be Happy – Jamie Barks
<3 Dick and Jane

Disclosure: I was provided with two prints to review and one for a giveaway for this post. My opinions of the art was not pursuaded by this generous act. Thank you.

What Do You Think?

I don’t normally post like this, but I came across this banana slicer on Amazon and thought it was just too cute not to share! My kids love eating bananas and I think they would get a kick out of safely cutting them up themselves. Hey, I love anything I can do to promote healthy snacking with my kids.
 
So what do you think? Is it purchase-worthy?
Was $9.98, but is on sale today for $2.48.

 


Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer

<3 Dick and Jane
 
  
Disclosure: Links in this post are affiliate links.

Im Not Nuts – Winter Gardening

Yes, you are viewing this correctly.  I am starting to plant my outdoor garden while it is still snowing and the temps are still in the teens. What am I thinking? No, I’m not nuts. Its called winter sowing and it works! (or so I hear, thinking positive!)

 
I love to eat fresh produce and vegetables, but the cost to buy them can be expensive (especially if you buy organic). So this year our family has decided to turn half of our backyard into an edible landscape. I have not always had the best of luck with gardens and plants. I tried one other time to start plants from seeds and lets just say they didn’t make it. This year will be different though. This year, I want it more and I want to see my handwork pay off. So in order to put my best foot forward I did some research online and found what I believe to be the best seeds to get started with.

 

In preparation for my big winter sowing project I started saving our plastic milk containers months ago. I also went door to door collecting peoples recycling from them for my project (lol, no lie). After I had about 20 containers, washed and air dried, I began re purposing them into mini greenhouses.
 

 

First, remove the lids. You wont be using them for this project, but you could keep them for another purpose. I was thinking of turning mine into a tic tac toe board.
 
Second, carefully poke holes in the bottom of the carton so excess water can drain out.
 
Third, carefully cut all the way around the middle leaving a one inch spot uncut. This will work as a lid that can be opened and closed.
 
Next, fill the bottom of the container 3/4 of the way full with a good quality seed starter mix. Add your seeds and add a little more dirt to cover.

Water thoroughly, allow the water to drain out the bottom holes.

 
Using duct tape, close the lid and tape it shut so it does not fall open when the wind blows.
 
Finally, write what you planted on the carton using a sharpie and place them outside in a sunny place.
 
Now, just leave them be. Once the weather warms and the seeds get more sunshine they will sprout. During warm days you can open the lids to give them more air, but make sure to close the lids at night. The milk carton will act as a mini greenhouse and keep the little buds warm. After the last frost you can transplant them into your garden. Apparently some seeds need this cold period in order to bloom and some say that winter sown seeds are hardier than those planted in the spring.
 
Doesn’t this sound fun? I am super excited to see my little baby sprouts in the next couple of weeks! Oh, but keep in mind. Not everything should be planted at the same time during winter sowing. Its best to start with plants that are hardy to your region. Hardy plants can be sown anytime during January or February.  I started my garden with spinach, broccoli, strawberries, clematis, and poppy’s. I will be starting my annuals and less hardy plants during March and April.
 
As things begin to grow, I will be keeping you up to date on our progress! Please also share your garden photos and stories with us on our facebook page. If your just getting started gardening, I recommend checking out the book Backyard Gardening and starting with Ferry Morse seeds. These two have turned out to be great resources for me.
 
 
Go Dig in the Dirt
<3 Dick and Jane
 
Disclosure: Raising Dick and Jane will not be held responsible for any injuries or non sprouting seeds from following our advice in this post. Please use caution when using sharp objects. A big thank you to Ferry Morse for providing us with seeds for our project. No compensation was received, my opinions are my own.

Fruity Pebbles Baked Donut Recipe

 
Mmmm….Donuts. I cannot help it, I have a sweet tooth. As much as I try to eat healthy, I just can not resist a sweet tasting treat. Unfortunately, I also passed this trait on down to my kids who have decided to name anything sweet tasting a “Dee”. I think this name came about when Jane was just old enough to start talking and would try to say “Me” whenever she caught mommy sneaking a yummy snack without her. However, her attempts to say “Me” sounded more like “Dee” and the name caught on. To this day, they still ask me to make them “Dee’s” when they want a sweet treat.
Not only am I attracted to anything sweet, I am also attracted to colors. There is something about vibrant blues, greens, reds and yellows that makes my heart sing. So yesterday Dick, Jane and I set to the kitchen to create a fun colored, sweet treat for our breakfast in the morning. Yep, you guessed it. We made homemade donuts using Fruity Pebbles cereal. I know that donuts are probably the worst thing you could eat for breakfast, but hey. . at least I make my own and bake them instead of frying them, right? So in my mind that sort of makes them ok.
 
This recipe got four thumbs up in our house. Even my husband, who is not much of a sugar person, said they were really good. He also got mad at me for baking them because he now cant resist eating them. 🙂 tee hee. (He could use to gain a few pounds though, so I don’t look so fat standing next to him.) So here is the recipe we came up with, however the only change I would make is not adding fruity pebbles directly to the batter.  We did this and the fruity pebbles got a bit chewy after baking. Its best to just use them as a sprinkle.  
 
 
Fruity Pebbles Donuts
 
Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Butter – softened
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
 
Frosting Ingredients
1 stick butter
1 bag powdered sugar
milk
 
Donut Directions:
 
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease donut pan with cooking spray.
2. Begin by mixing all of your wet donut ingredients in a large bowl using a hand blender until well mixed.
3. Add dry ingredients into the wet mixture and continue to blend until well blended.
4. Spoon the mixture into a large plastic bag or frosting bag to easily pipe into the donut mold.
5. Fill each mold 3/4 of the way full using donut mixture.
6. Bake donuts 10-12 minutes or until edges brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
7. Allow your donuts to cool on a wire rack and make frosting using the directions below.
 
Frosting Directions:
 
1. Melt 1 stick of butter in a microwaveable dish.
2. Blend in 1 bag of powdered sugar and 1/4 cup milk using a hand mixer.  
3. Continue to add milk into the mixture until you obtain your desired consistency. You want it thin enough for your sprinkles to stick, but not thin enough that it will run off the donut.
4. Once your donuts have cooled, spread the frosting on each and sprinkle with fruity pebbles cereal.
 
 
Now you can enjoy this sweet and fruity treat that is surely an eye pleaser. They are yummy!
 
Sweet Dreams
<3 Dick and Jane
 

 

Homemade Dog Treats

Last week I introduced you to our dog Manson during our Wordless Wednesday post. As you can see by his photo he is a big sweetheart. We treat him like one of the family by allowing him free run of our house, by letting him sleep in bed with us and by feeding him healthy “human-like” foods. He is quite spoiled for a dog. He even gets a stocking full of new toys and treats each Christmas just like the kids do. While we have a few things we need to work on with him, like getting into the garbage cans, barking like a nut when someone walks by our house or jumping on people when hes excited, he is a pretty good dog and deserves to have a good life (like all dogs do).

When Manson was a puppy, he and his siblings were abandoned and left to die. Luckily, a nice couple found them and brought them all home. They spent the next couple of months making sure the pups were healthy, feeding them and finding good homes for them. My husband and I were a young couple with no kids and decided that a puppy would be a great new addition to our little family. He was such a cute baby! Who could resist this face?
Manson quickly became a member of the family and has been with us as we welcomed Jane and Dick into our home in the years following. We could tell that our dog Manson was in love with our children just as much as we were. He is never cross with them and will let them play with him as children do. The sense of “these are my kids” can be felt whenever an unfamiliar face come to our home. I can tell that Manson would do everything he could to protect any one of us in the case of an emergency. He loves us and we love him.
In honor of puppy love this week, Howling Husky Bakery, has offered to give one of our pet loving readers two dozen of their all natural, handmade dog treats! Each treat is made to order before shipment to ensure maximum quality and the recipes are all taste tested by the bakery owners’ Siberian Husky named Siqua. Check out these flavors, they all sound delectable! How about serving your pup a peanut butter banana, blueberry cinnamon, cheesy tuna or savory chicken treat? I’m sure with treat like this even Manson would learn to stay out of our garbage cans and behave for guests.
Remember though, these are all natural and do not contain preservatives so when making or buying homemade dog treats store them in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent molding and lengthen the use by date.
Enter to WIN using the rafflecopter below.
Woof!
<3 Dick and Jane
 Disclosure: We were provided with a sampling of dog treats from Howling Husky Bakery in order to facilitate our review and post. While we were allowed to keep our review items, we were not compensated for our post. All of our thoughts are our own.



Whats In My Home?

Today I decided to do something a little different and make a video for all of you.  I know, its not great, but I am no professional actress. lol.  So be nice! 🙂
 
I have always appreciated art, in all different forms. I purchase items from the talented artists on etsy all of the time, so I thought I would share with you some of my favorite “finds” that I love and have on display in my home. There are links to all of the etsy shops featured in this video below so you can check them out too.
 

Door Knob Hooks – by Shabbrustic Chic Boutique
Double Sided Table Runner – by Special Occasion Design
Wall Art – by LarryCarlsonStudio 

If you enjoyed my segment, leave a comment and I will do it again in the future. I have many more great finds to share. Also, if you have an etsy shop that you think I should check out leave the link to the store in the comment. I read every comment and will be sure to take a look. Who knows, if I love what I see, the item may be featured on my next segment!

Rock On
<3 Dick and Jane

Im Giving Up!

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m giving up! Some of  you might remember that I joined my local gym back in December in hopes of regaining the youthful body I recently lost. However, it did not work.  Not one bit. I did try too. I went as often as I could and pushed myself hard while I was there. But now after three months, lost interest and nothing to show for it I’m giving up (I think I actually gained weight to tell you the truth). I can now totally understand why some people give up on gym memberships so easily. Being inside sweating on a machine under artificial lights is not human nature.
Andrew Weil, MD wrote in his book, Spontaneous Happiness, that most people abandon workout regimes based on treadmills, weight lifting, and other gym-based exercise because deep in our primitive psyches we feel that such activity is a waste of energy. I completely agree.  Our bodies were made for hunting, harvesting, traveling and living, not running in place and going nowhere. I would much rather spend my time working hard in my garden to burn calories and have delicious healthy food to show for it. Or what about a dance based house cleaning session? Now there is something I could get into! I need to have something to show at the end of my workout to keep me interested and find goals based entirely on weight loss to be discouraging.
I have also found that the artificial light of the gym does nothing to re-energize me. I need real light, like from the sun. Studies show that being outside in the daylight increases Vitamin D levels in your body which in turn give you more energy and can help you combat depression and other health issues. I do understand that in many areas of the world the sun is almost non-existent for several months out of the year. I experience the loss of the sunshine here in Michigan.  During the winter months I can feel a difference in my mood, weight and overall health.
 
So while I am feeling bad about my body right now, during the winter, I know that spring is just around the corner. As soon as I can get back to being outside and active, these extra “hibernation” pounds should come off as easily as then went on. I believe there are many people who thrive on the “gym experience”, I am just not one of them. I would much rather be active in a natural way and spend more time playing with my kids. So I’m giving up on going to the gym and making it a point to be more active in my everyday life.  For me and maybe many others, this type of active lifestyle may work better than a gym routine. Remember though, a healthy lifestyle takes a balance of eating right and being active. What ways can we be active in everyday life that will burn calories but not feel like a routine? Here are a few that I came up with that I can easily work into my everyday life.
 
Have a dance inspired house cleaning session
– Take the kids or dog for a vigorous walk
– Plant and tend to a garden
– Mow the yard (with a walk behind, riders don’t count)
– Play with your kids outside
– Go for a bike ride
– Go shopping
– Hike through the woods
 
Have any ideas to add? Leave a comment below. 
 
Hopefully this will inspire those of you who are just not interested in a gym style workout, but still want to be healthy. You do not have to “go work out” to get exercise. Just remember to stay active in your everyday life. After all, isn’t any motion better than no motion?
 
Going outside to play now
<3 Dick and Jane

Laundry Room Makeover #TBCcrafters

 
Every once in a while I get the itch to re-decorate my house.  It normally starts off as a twitch while I am cleaning and look up to see a piece of furniture that looks out of place, or a spot on the wall that looks too bare. I don’t know what it is, but when something looks off kilter I quickly begin to dream up ways to put it back into a jive.

A few days ago while I was doing laundry in my, less than to be desired, laundry room I felt the itch. This room , however, can hardly call itself a room. Its more like a hallway with a washer and dryer in it. But no matter what it calls itself, it still needs help. Desperately. So as I placed the dirty laundry into the washing machine I glanced around the cramped, dingy room and dreamt of ways to make it a masterpiece. First, I need to take a large garbage bag to the cupboards which hang just above my washer and dryer. They need to be put to better use than being filled with junk papers and odd ball items which can find no other rightful home. Next, I want to paint the bare wood cupboards white and replace the lackluster hardware. Finally, I dreamt of creating a small rack to use for hanging clothes to dry or stacking folded clothes on. My plans all sounded wonderful, and I wanted a genie to blink her eyes and have it all transformed; however this job has turned out to be no easy task for me. This dream is going to take me awhile. So in order to get my creative juices brimming and keep myself motivated I made a quick and easy wall decor project to hang on the first wall I see as I enter the room. These letters will serve as the inspiration I need to make this room into my dream.
 
Each letter of the word “W-A-S-H” is made of a cardboard letter which I picked up at my local Michaels store. I believe they were about $2.99 each at my store, but were featured in their weekly sale when I grabbed them.
 
 
After much deliberation on whether to paint or decoupage my sign, I decided to go with a matte black chalkboard paint. I felt that the “old school” elegance of the chalkboard paint would fit well within my manifesto. So each letter was carefully painted, allowed to dry and re-coated to cover.
 
 
When the letters were completely dry and ready to hang, I got a whim of an idea to add some faux chalk marks to the letters. To do this I used a white Sharpie permanent oil based marker. I tagged the “W” with some floral pin stripping and added a 2 cent symbol to the “H”.
 
 
Hanging my creation on the wall took a little bit of creativity since the letters come with no sense of hanging hardware. Luckily, my husband took charge of this for me and made them look nice. We simply used a nail and hammer to create a hole in the middle back of each letter and used the small hole to hang over the nails in the wall. Easy right?
 
 
I hope you have enjoyed my “little” tutorial today and stick around to see the rest of the big reveal within the next few months. I’ll be sure to leak out a few sneak peaks along the way!
 
Be sure to also check out the rest of the crafts in today’s blog hop. There is a lot of inspiration to be shared.
 
Always Be Creative
<3 Dick and Jane