Eco Friendly Cleaning Tips #ad

Some products featured in this post were provided to us free of charge. 
Happy Saturday everyone! Today I will be doing what I do most Saturday mornings.. . clean the house.  I know, I am a rebel right?

As many of you know I have been finding ways to “green” my life. Since cleaning is a big part of my life, I have been on the lookout for more eco friendly ways of cleaning as well. I have cut the floor cleaners and switched to a steam based mop. I have researched natural ways to clean with everyday products, such as vinegar and lemons. Now, I have found a way to “green” my laundry. This was a necessity not only because I dont like using harmful chemicals, but also because my kids tend to have sensitive skin. . . so using chemicals and fragrances in my laundry was a big no no. 
I have heard in the past about using wool balls as a natural fabric softener, but had never found the time to make them. So you can imagine my excitement when I found these. . 
Woolzies are 100% pure New Zealand wool dryer balls. They do everything that a “conventional” fabric softener does, plus they reduce the drying time by 25% (saving on un-needed used energy)!
After doing research I was so pleased to find that they are made without any chemicals so they are safe for my family. 
I have been using them for about two weeks now and love them. Super easy. . just leave the balls in the dryer and only swap out the clothes. Now I have more time to scrub my bathtub . . yippy, right?

Here are a few helpful links to help you “green” your cleaning routine. 
Happy Saturday Everyone.  We hope you have a fabulous long weekend!
Where to Buy Woolzies, as featured in this post: 

<3 Dick and Jane

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Pantry Paratus Giveaway


Do you love to cook? We do too, and we especially love cooking with good quality spices. Some of us grow our own, and what we can’t grow, we purchase from places like Pantry Paratus. Why? Cause they supply high quality spices that are packaged in such a way that the spices and seasonings actually taste fresh. Have you ever bought a jar of spices from the grocery store and noticed the flavor just wasn’t very potent? Maybe it hardly even smelled like the plant would? Not with Frontier. When you open their bags of spices you’re blown away by the powerful aroma. Pantry Paratus wants to give four of you a chance to order some of these wonderful spices, but they want you to be able to pick them out!

Meet Our Sponsors

Pantry Paratus is our main sponsor for this giveaway and is giving away four (4) $50 gift cards to buy Frontier Spices! The bulk spices are packaged in foil bags to keep light out, thus keeping your spices fresh much longer. Frontier Natural Foods products are created with the most sustainable agricultural practices available, making them environmentally friendly, and they’re delicious! Salsa Garden Chronicles – To store your Frontier Spices in a beautiful, easy to use way while keeping them fresh, Salsa Garden Chronicles is contributing a Kamenstein 6-Canister Magnetic-Strip Spice Rack. The Homesteading Hippy is contributing a $25 jamba juice gift card for you to treat the family to a healthy refreshing afternoon snack.

Other Participating Blogs

How to Enter

This giveaway will have 4 winners! The grand prize winner (first name picked) will receive a $50 Pantry Paratus gift card to buy Frontier Spices, as well as the spice jar kit and the Jamba Juice gift card. Three runner-up winners will each win a $50 Pantry Paratus Gift Card. To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway is open to US residents only. Giveaway ends on September 9th at 12:00 AM CST. Winners will be drawn randomly using the Rafflecopter tools and winners will be contacted and given 24 hours to respond.


This giveaway is sponsored by the company and bloggers listed above and organized by the Homestead Bloggers Network.

How to Make a Table from an Old Farm Window {DIY}

My grandparents live on an old farm and it is one of my favorite places to visit.  There are always chickens running around, beautiful wild flowers and vintage artifacts at every turn. The farm brings me such an inspiration for my design style. You might have noticed that coming out in my work. 
One of my favorite things on the farm are the barns. Some of them are slightly falling down, but that doesn’t bother me. I look past its present appearance and appreciate what it was. . and what it still has. Take a look at the wood on the old barn. It has such character, such color and sometimes a beautifully chipping paint. There are so many things you could do to reclaim this wood. There are so many things it could be turned into. Today, however, we are going to talk about the old windows you might find in one of these old barns. . or an old house. 
Since we aren’t going to be removing any of the old windows from our farm yet, I can usually find ones I like at rummage sales or flea markets. I actually have three old windows displayed in my home. I suppose it is a bit of an obsession for me. 🙂
Old window used as wall art in my dining room.
Today I decided to take one of the smaller windows I’d found and turn it into an end table for my living room. This is actually a very easy project. The first thing I did was wash the window down. Normally the windows are quite dirty from storage or use. Once the window was washed, I allowed it to air dry in the sun for a few hours to get all of the dampness out of the wood. After it was completely dry, I painted the window with a sealer. Once the sealer dried, I simply screwed on leg attachments to the underside of your window and screw in the legs. I also found an old handle that looked like it worked with the table and attached it to the end. 
Voila! Easy. .. cheap. .. and handmade. 
<3 Dick and Jane

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake {Recipe}

Yes, another zucchini recipe. But this one is just TOO GOOD not to share with you. Even my husband (who doesn’t like chocolate) couldn’t get enough of this cake. 

It reminds of me of an Oreo after its been soaked in milk. 
The best part of this recipe is that is helps to use up garden surplus of zucchini, uses less oil than a standard brownie or cake and is egg free! I cant necessarily say that it is healthy (especially after you put the frosting on) but maybe it is healthier? 
Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Ingredients: 
1/2 c. oil
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 c. flour
1/2 c. Hershey’s Dark Chocolate cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 c. shredded zucchini
Chocolate Frosting: 
6 Tbs. Hershey’s Dark Chocolate cocoa powder
1/4 c butter
4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Directions: 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Start by mixing together the oil, sugar and vanilla extract. 
3. Slowly add in the cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and zucchini. 
4. Lastly, work in the flour a cup at a time. The mixture will seem VERY dry, however once the zucchini lets its water out the mixture will start to resemble a cake batter. Just keep stirring and working it together until this happens. 
5. Once the mixture resembles a batter, pour it into a 9×13″ greased glass dish. 
6. Bake 20-25 minutes or until done.
Frosting Directions: 
1. While your cake is cooling, add your butter and cocoa to a small saucepan over low heat. Allow to cool slightly. 
2. Mix together the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in the chocolate mixture and stir. If your frosting is too runny, add more confectioners sugar until it reaches your desired consistency. 
3. Pour over cake and refrigerate. 

I like to store this cake in the fridge. It keeps better. 

Enjoy!
Dick and Jane

Need a Hero? Be a Hero {Giveaway}

With school once again approaching (and already here for my southern friends) the talk has once again returned to bullying, what to look for and how to prevent it in our schools. I must admit that bullying is a concern for me with my children. I have seen too many young people struggle through school and even make poor decisions because of being bullied. Do you remember last year when I wrote a post about my daughter being bullied already in kindergarten? Yes people. . bullying happens even as young as kindergarten.  It truly breaks my heart and I am willing to do anything I can to help spread the word about standing up for one another! 
Mostly these days when we talk about bullying we automatically think of school aged children, however, bullying does not exist only within the school system. Bullying can take place anywhere and with any age group. Bullying can happen in the workplace, between acquaintances or even between couples in relationships. Bullying is an epidemic that needs to be addressed. How do we stop it? We stop it by creating Hero’s.

 Matt Langdon, the founder of The Hero Construction Company, has spent several years traveling around to different schools teaching faculty, staff and students how to become modern day hero’s.  If he has come to your child’s school you may have heard about the “funny Australian man and his orange pants” that came to visit one day. Matt has shown a proven track record with the schools and has decided to join his efforts with several other hero inspired speakers in a two day hero training conference that anyone who purchases a ticket can attend! This amazing event is bringing in speakers from all over the globe including Jocelyn Stevenson, co-creator of the children’s show “Fraggle Rock”, Sesame Street, Bob the Builder, Barney and Friends and The Magic Schoolbus. Speakers also include Zoe Weil and Phil Zimbardo; two leading professionals in the world of humane education and psychology as well as a long list of other credible speakers and motivationalist’s. The event is limited this year, being its first, to only 600 attendees. So as you can imagine, seats to this popular event are going fast.

   

Do you have what it takes to be a hero? Do you want to know more about the warning signs of bullying to be a more informed and prepared parent? Are you a business owner who wants to create a forward thinking team? If any of these statements are true for you, then check out the Hero Round Table website and learn more about this amazing opportunity being hosted in Swartz Creek, MI this November. 
Don’t leave yet. . I have AMAZING news for you! In support of parents against bullying, The Hero Construction Company is going to sponsor one reader to attend the Hero Round Table Conference! The event is being held in Swartz Creek, MI on November 9th and 10th. Winner will receive free admission to the conference including two lunches and one dinner (a $325 value). Transportation, lodging and all other meals are the responsibility of the winner. Does this sound like something you would love to attend? Please, enter below. . . 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be The Change You Want to See in the World
<Dick and Jane

A Post for the Ladies {Plus a Giveaway} #ad

Some products in this post were provided to us free of charge. 

Today’s post is directed towards all of my lady readers out there. This may be a weird subject to write about, but I believe an important one. Men. . you will probably want to stop reading right now. 🙂

Last week I was having a conversation with my best friend about the new feminine pads I found. They are completely organic, 100% cotton and free from chemicals and plastic. Wow, in my journey to remove toxins from my life never had I thought about all the bad things that were lurking in my feminine care products. I had done some research in the past into reusable feminine care products, however, I was not quite comfortable taking that big of a leap. I was “comfortable” with my routine and wanted to find a product that was similar to what I had been using, but better. That is why I believe this post is important. There may be others of you out there who are also looking for a better product to use when that time of the month rolls around. One that wont cause irritation and is better for the environment as well. This post is being written to tell all of you “I found it”. 

I came across Natracare’s products online. I was immediately intrigued, yet skeptical. I decided to contact the company and see if they would send me a sample product to test before I committed to buying their product. Being that they completely believe in their products, they agreed. When the samples arrived I thought “ok, this looks just like what I am used to”. When I tried the product I was blown away by the comfort level of the product. It was so soft! I could not believe that I had been using my old brand of feminine pads for so long. My old product felt like plastic. It was sticky, caused irritation and felt like I was wearing a pad. The Natracare pads are soft, no plastic. They feel like I am wearing nothing. I immediately went out to my local natural store and bought more.  There was NO way I was going to go back to the old brand after what I had just tried. 
Natracare caries a wide range of products: 
Ultra Pads
Tampons
Maxi Pads
Everyday Liners
Maternity
Incontinence 
Baby Wipes
The Facts: 
– Made from certified organic and natural products
– Chemical and additive free
– Biodegradable
– Certified free from animal testing
Where to Buy: 
Natracare products can be found at your local health food store, select drug stores pharmacies or on Amazon.

Natracare is the natural choice!
Since Natracare stands behind their products they are giving Raising Dick and Jane readers an amazing opportunity (actually two amazing opportunities). 
First, Natracare is offering to send the first ten people to respond with their mailing information a free sample set to try the product out for themselves! The sample set includes: one applicator tampon, one non-applicator tampon, one ultra pad and one everyday panty liner.  
*Samples will be limited to the first ten respondents
You can also enter to win the grand prize, An exclusive Natracare Cotton Bag, full sized product and a Natracare t-shirt. Enter to win this prize using the rafflecopter form below. 
<3 Dick and Jane 
Disclosure: This was not a paid post. I did however receive full sized products free of charge to sample for this post. All opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. 

Planting your Fall Garden

I almost feel like I just started harvesting from my spring efforts, yet already it is time to get my fall garden started. Many of the plants such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, spinach and lettuce have already stopped producing and need to be pulled out of the garden and replanted. Getting these plants started again now will give you yet another yield right before the first frost. This may also give you another chance to fix problems you found during your spring efforts.

One of the problems I found when planting my spring garden was that the soil in which I planted my carrots was too dense. This caused my carrots to grow thick but very short. So this fall I have decided to plant them in a loose dirt container on my front porch instead of in my gardens out back. We will give this a try and see if I cant produce a better yield for the fall. 

Another problem I found was that my broccoli never produced a head. I really have no clue what happened with this one, but I am going to give it another try this fall and see if it doesn’t do better in the cooler weather. My spinach also burnt up in the sun before it could grow, so we will be trying that one again as well. 

Right now is also the time to plant your spring perennials so they will be ready to come back in the spring. Most perennials just need to be in the ground by August to establish enough to make it through the winter. Then in the spring, these perennials will take off as any other perennial will. I started my perennials in pots and will be transferring them to the ground this week. 

Did you have any plants that you want to try again this fall? Let us know what went wrong and how you are correcting it in the comments.

<3 Dick and Jane

The Re Purposed Paper Box #TBCcrafters

While I was out browsing a garage sale one day I found an old wall side newspaper box. It was brown, ugly and in pretty bad shape but they only wanted $1 for it. So I bought it. I figured I could do something with it, after all I just hate to see things go un-used.

This is what it looked like when I bought it. Yuck. 
Looking past all of the brown nastiness, I could see that this piece had potential. I liked the scalloped top. It reminded me of a french patisserie awning. 
I got to work on this piece first by sandblasting all of the old paint and grime off, then giving it a fresh new coat of paint. 
While the paint was drying I visited my favorite graphics website, The Graphics Fairy, and picked out some french inspired clip art to modge podge to the front of my project. After the paint dried I painted a thin layer of modge podge to the old paper box in the area I wanted to apply my art. Next, I laid the paper over the wet modge podge and pressed it down to create a nice bond. 
I added a french inspired clip art to the front and also to the top. 
After applying the paper to the old paper box and smoothing out as many bubbles as i could with my fingers I added a second coat of modge podge over the top of the image and covering the entire front of the box. Then I allowed it to dry for several hours. Once the modge podge had dried I took the box over to the sink and carefully, with my fingers, got the edges of the paper image wet. I continued to get my fingers damp from the faucet and gently scrub the edges of the image paper until the paper started to wipe away. 
After I had wiped away as much paper as I desired I stopped and let the piece dry once again. Just so you know, I only wiped away paper from around the image. I did not wipe away the image itself. This just breaks up the lines of the paper and gives it an “aged” effect. 
Once everything was dry once again I took a black and brown acrylic paint and mixed them gently. With my finger and a towel I added paint around the image and wiped it off. I just wanted to give the effect of this piece being aged and somewhat dirty. 
When the entire box looked aged enough for me I sealed it with a waterproof sealant in case I wanted to use this outside. Now I just have to decide. . indoor mail holder or outdoor flower planter? What do you think?
Tell me your thoughts.. 
<3 Dick and Jane

Antimicrobial Bathroom Scale – Product Review #spon

Every once in awhile I am contacted by a company who wants me to try out their products. I will either accept or decline depending on if it peaks my interest or not. This product peaked my interest for many reasons: 
Its antimicrobial – you know how I hate germs!
I like to know how much my kids weigh for at home medicine dispensing. 
I would like to keep track of my own weight gain / weight loss
It’s nice looking. 
When the scale arrived it was easy to use and ready to go. I just pulled it out of the box and stepped on! Yup. .. there is my weight. . :/  Maybe I wont be using it for my weight too much anymore and use it more for knowing how my kids are progressing. 🙂 A few month ago my Jane got quite ill and hasn’t gained much weight since then. Luckily now that I have this new scale I am able to check her actual weight instead of just by the outer appearance of her and I am happy to say she IS actually gaining weight. This has put my fears to rest. 
The other best part of this product is that it is antimicrobial. The paperwork that came with this scale said that on an unprotected bathroom scale surface bacteria can double in number every 20 minutes! Eww. The Microban Antimicrobial scale inhibits the growth of odor and stain causing bacteria by stopping it before it starts. Good to know!
If you are in the market for a new scale check this one out. I was quite happy with the product and told the company I would share this product with my readers. So here ya go! 

Disclosure: This is not a paid post and all of my opinions are honest and true. I was provided with a free sample in order to facilitate my review. This post may contain affiliate links.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Homemade Alfredo Sauce Recipe & a Chicken Giveaway #ad

Some products in this post were provided to us free of charge. 

I have recently become enamored with growing my own food and cooking all my food from scratch. Humans were designed to work with their hands and doing so gives me such gratification. Lately I have been working hard to ditch the pre-made sauces for my own “made from scratch” recipes and today’s alfredo sauce is worth the minimal work! Seriously, why would I spend around $4 for a jar of alfredo sauce when I can easily and more naturally make it at home?  I want to warn you though that my first attempt at making this was a complete disaster. I had my heat too high and burnt my butter and garlic, turning the whole mixture a nasty brown color which no one would eat. But round two went much better and tasted ah-maz-ing! Lesson learned here is to keep an eye on it and have all of your ingredients ready ahead of time. Things cook quite quickly in this recipe. ha, no time to let it simmer while your looking for things in the fridge.

Homemade Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients: 

2-3 garlic cloves – minced
4 oz cream cheese
4 TBS butter
3/4 cup milk
2/3 c Parmesan cheese
Dash of pepper

Directions: 

1. Begin by adding your butter to a small sauce pan over med-low heat.
2. Toss in your minced garlic and allow it to slightly cook.
3. Once the butter has melted and the garlic slightly simmered, pour in your milk. . slowly.
4. At the same time also include the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese.
5. Increase the heat slightly to med and allow everything to melt down while continually stirring with a whisk.
6. Simmer and stir until you have reached your desired consistency.

Now just add a dash of pepper and serve over homemade noodles and baked chicken. Mmmm..
I also like to throw in fresh mushrooms because mushrooms are my favorite! Serve with a side veggie like broccoli and you have just made a completely handmade meal in under 30 minutes! You should now feel proud of yourself.

Lets take a minute and talk about the chicken. I like to use chicken in many of my meals because it is high in protein and better for you than red meats. However, I am very picky about my chicken. I am always looking for the best option to feed my family that is free of antibiotics, growth hormones and are cage free. I recently found a new chicken that claimed to have many of the things I was looking for in a chicken so I did a little bit more research and got in touch with the company.

Have you heard of Nature Raised Farms?

Nature Raised farms chickens are
– raised without antibiotics
– fed a 100% vegetarian diet
– have no added hormones or steroids
– certified by third party animal welfare agencies

I think that it is important to think about the meat we eat and do a little bit more research into the brands we buy. I really liked many things about this product, especially the free roaming way in which they are raised and the lack of added hormones and steroids.  The only thing that I didn’t like was that while the chickens are fed a completely vegetarian diet (no animal, protein or bakery by products are used) they are not fed an organic feed which means they corn and soybeans the chickens eat may be genetically modified.

Being an informed consumer is important! You have the right to know how your food is raised or how it is created. Do a little research, contact the companies and ask questions! Let’s make it a point to support the companies that create their food to the standards we deserve.

During my talk with Nature Raised farms they wanted me to offer my readers a chance to try their product out for themselves and see first hand what they thought about it.

The giveaway includes: 

$10 gift card to purchase Nature Raised Chicken (available at Publix, Super Target, Walmart, Food City, HEB and Marsh)
A Nature Raised Wooden Cutting Board
A Nature Raised Reusable Grocery Bag

Enter below for your chance to win:

Disclosure: I was provided with the same prize pack offered above in return for hosting this giveaway. All opinions of this product are my own.