Handmade Soap Recipes & Small Giveaway

This Giveaway is now CLOSED!

As part of Michael’s Random Acts of Kindness week, I was asked to make a fun craft and then “Craft it Forward.  So I whipped up some different and fun handmade soap recipes.  I shared the basic recipe for making handmade soaps earlier this week.  I shared my Lavender Soap Recipe as well.  Today I want to share with you a couple of other soaps we came up with.

soap 4

My three girls had a great time helping and wanted to come up with some fun Valentine’s Soap for their friends.  So we made some pink heart soaps that they scented with peppermint oil and dyed pink using some drops of red soap colorant which we bought at Michael’s Craft.

DSC_1779 032-1

We poured the pink soap into a rubber heart mold and let them harden.  Then we melted our white soap base and poured it into our rectangle soap molds also found at Michael’s.  When that soap had hardened we sprayed it with rubbing alcohol and added another thin layer of white soap and then placed a pink soap heart in it and let it harden completely.

*Find the full soap making recipe and instructions here.

soap 8

Then we wrapped them up and tied them with a colorful bow so that we could give them away as part of the “Craft it Forward” campaign.

soap 9

We also experimented with some different flavors of soap.  I LOVE citrusy and FRESH scents.  So we thought it would be fun to add some Lemon essential oil along with some fresh lemon zest to our soaps.  YUMMO!

soap 5 label

We did the same with Lime.  But I did not have a lime oil so I used doTerra’s Citrus Bliss oil…which is awesome, and then added some fresh lime zest to the soap base.  I imagine these soaps will have to be used fairly quickly so that it stays as fresh as possible.

soap lime label

Shannon, one of my readers, left a comment about Lavender Lemonade on my Lavender Soap post.  Lavender Lemonade!!  I have not heard of that.  But I am dying to try it.  It will be the next one I try.  Sounds amazing right?

But we did make a Pink Lemonade Soap by simple creating a double layer soap.  Pour the first layer and let it harden completely.  Then add a second layer by spritzing the top (where you will add the layer) with rubbing alcohol and then pouring your second color on.  We added lemon essential oil and some lemon zest in the white layer.

soap 7 label white

And in the spirit of Valentine’s Day and Random Acts of Kindness Week, we delivered our soaps to some of our friends and neighbors.  Each of them were given one of our handmade soaps and a $5 gift card to Michael’s.  Aren’t they the cutest…our friends that is? We are so blessed to be surrounded by good people.

I have one more Michaels gift card to deliver…  If you want to win a $5 gift card to Michael’s and have me send it out to you, simply leave a comment here.  Any comment will do!

soap collage

Michaels is participating in Random Acts of Kindness Week, Feb. 11-17, by asking customers to share their own random acts of kindness on the Michaels Facebook page and to use the hashtag #RAOKDIY when sharing on Twitter and Instagram.

RAOK1RAOK 2

In celebration of the holiday on Sunday, Feb. 17, Michaels hopes to inspire customers to participate by giving away more than $100,000 in gift cards at its nearly 1,100 U.S. and Canada stores. Gift card recipients will be encouraged to “craft it forward” and exhibit their own random act of kindness towards another person.

Customers who want to “craft it forward” can find inspiration for Random Acts of Kindness projects to give to others on the Michaels Random Acts of Crafting Pinterest board.

handmade-soap-recipes

Vanilla Peppermint Pattie Milk Shake

Valentine’s Day at our house usually consists of my husband and I celebrating at home with our children.  We have done this since the kids were little.  I am sure it was because it was difficult to find a babysitter or the fact that the restaurants had a two to three hour wait.  But either way, it has become a fun tradition at our house.

ID 7afinal

The entire family looks forward to having a nice “candlelight” dinner together.  The hubs and I usually get the kids a small gift or goodie from us and then we play games or watch a movie as a family.  It has become a time for us to enjoy and spend time with each other in a busy world that usually has us running from one thing to the next.  It has become a good night for us to reconnect.

This year I thought it would be fun to cap off our dinner and enjoy some good Old Fashioned Milk Shakes while playing games together.  Have you tried any of these yummy Coffee Creamers from International Delight?  They are not just for coffee people.  I added some to a Vanilla shake and you have a yummy dessert.

ID 9a

Now, unfortunately due to my recent milk allergy (among others) I will not be able to enjoy these with the family.  But some almond butter on a rice cake should be fine for me to along side them…right?! haha

Here is how you make them:

Old Fashioned Vanilla Peppermint Pattie Shake

3 cups of Hard Vanilla Ice Cream (not soft serve)

1/2 cup Milk

1/4 cup International Delight York Peppermint Pattie Coffee Creamer

Raspberries for garnish (optional)

Mint Garnish (optional)

Blend all ingredients together in your Blender until thick and creamy.  You can add more milk or Creamer to your shake depending on your preferences.  Serve in a tall, frosty mug with a stripe-y straw and a spoon.

ID 8a

I had a couple of kids and a husband who eagerly volunteered to be my taste testers for me.  I think they were a hit….

ID 10a

Check out all the other awesome flavors these International Delight Creamers are available in.  Do you remember the super yummy Raspberry White Chocolate Muffins I shared?

This Valentine’s Day, share the love with recipes and homemade gift ideas! Don’t miss the International Delight Valentine’s Day Twitter Giveaway. Enter by following International Delight on Twitter and by tweeting your favorite ID flavor with the hashtag #IDLove. Winners will be contacted on February 15th and will receive ID Valentine’s Day Sampler Packages!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.


Rescue Remodel Contest with IKEA and the Family Handyman

It feels like the holidays are becoming overly commercialized, especially within the last couple of years.  With Black Friday shopping creeping over into the Thanksgiving Holiday,  is the Holiday Season is losing its real meaning?  Have we become more focused on receiving than giving?

IKEA_RESCUE_REMODEL_LOGO

Today I want to share with you a way that you can give back to someone right in your own local community.  I am working with The Family Handyman to get the word out about the Rescue Remodel Contest and how you can help a local community organization of your choice, get a $25,000 kitchen makeover from IKEA.

Whether it’s the firehouses that protect you or the community centers that provide shelter and food, they tirelessly serve your community every day. Now you can reward their hard work by nominating them to win a new IKEA® kitchen in the 2nd annual Rescue Remodel Contest.

We’ll outfit a deserving community organization with a custom kitchen featuring everything from cabinets and appliances, to cookware and food storage. And since it’s all from IKEA®, it will be full of smart and innovative ideas to make their lives a little bit easier.

There are so many hardworking and deserving community organizations that work diligently to benefit those in their neighborhoods and communities.  With so much focus on consumerism, it is nice to be able to find a great way to give back to those who give so much.

image

To nominate a local organization you will need to head over to The Family Handyman’s FB page and answer the following questions in 500 words or less:

  • How would an IKEA kitchen makeover help your local organization and the community?
  • Why does your local community organization deserve an IKEA kitchen makeover?
  • What makes your local organization special and deserving?
    So go ahead and nominate a deserving organization.  It only takes a few minutes of your time and is a great way to give back in this season of giving.  Nominations will be accepted until December 15, 2012.

image

Disclosure:  Entry for this Contest begins on Oct 1, 2012 and ends on December 15, 2012. There will then be a public voting period on selected finalists from about February 1, 2013 until March 30, 2013. This contest is open to legal U.S. residents 18 years of age or older at time of entry.  This is a sponsored post by my on behalf of The Family Handyman and IKEA.

Working With Brands

When I was younger I never would have imagined that I would be a “creative blogger”.  Especially because the internet didn’t even exist! But here I am…blabbing away to perfect “strangers” on an almost daily basis.   But I am so grateful to be able to have this opportunity and great blessing to be able to share and interact with you all.

image

(My Family)

As a woman and a mother, I have appreciated the interaction I have with other women and mothers.  I find that overall we have the same goals and interests for our lives and our children.  Raising children and being a woman in today’s world is challenging.  As young mothers we are bombarded with conflicting information, criticism, and judgment, usually from other mothers.  So it can be nice when you find a group of women that are supportive and encourage your efforts.

I also have enjoyed learning from other women and mothers.  Learning about products and ideas that have helped you in building your families and homes into bright spots of love and encouragement to help buoy your children up as they face everyday challenges.

So when I started getting asked by others to share their companies or products, I was pretty excited but also very humbled.  As my blog grew, I began to get more and more requests and soon became overwhelmed with so many to choose from.  To deal with it, I made some pretty strict guidelines for myself.  I feel a great obligation and responsibility to my readers and feel like I owe it to them.  After all, the only reason I am in the position I am, is because of them sharing my site with their friends and families.

I would NOT post about anything and everything.  I wanted to keep my site from becoming one big commercial.  I wanted to share only those products that I would actually buy, unsolicited, and use in my own home.  A product that I could stand by and recommend full heartedly.

image

(only a few of the amazing friends I have made blogging)

I am not sure why I felt so strongly about this,  but I think it is because I have met some AMAZING people through this blog.  And even though I don’t know most of you, I realize that you are real people….with real families and struggles.  And just like most people I know, you have a desire to raise your families with the best of intentions to the best of your ability.

We are really all in this together.  And from my experience, it really does “take a village” to raise a family.  I know that if one of my good friends recommends a product or a solution for something I (or a family member) is struggling with, I am most likely going to give it a try.

image

(High School friends and Moms I admire and look up to)

So with that in mind, I have really tried to use that as a guideline for what I share and promote on The Idea Room.

One of the earliest Brands I began working with was Blog Frog.  I was a Community Leader in their Seasonal Celebrations Community and loved the interaction it gave me with lots of other women.  I really enjoyed it because it gave me a way to discuss a wide range of ideas and questions of “everyday life” with REAL women and moms.  It was real women sharing real concerns and solutions for one another.

Recently I was asked by Blog Frog to share some advice for Brands who are wanting to work with bloggers such as myself.  I have three things that I would like a Brand to know before working with The Idea Room.

1.  Get to Know Me and My Readers

Many times I will get a scripted email with my name and email address pasted in.  These almost always get deleted.  I get so much email and these are usually the first to go.  Get to know me.  Spend some time on my site.  If your product isn’t relevant, it will not be a good fit.

2.  Have a Product That is Relevant

I write about things I generally love and use.  If I buy something somewhere, I will share where I got it with my readers, because I WANT to.  I do this because as a mom, I LOVE when someone shares with me where they found an amazing product that has helped them or that has helped to create a lovely home atmosphere.

3.  Be Flexible With How I Share Your Product

I have worked with some companies that have strict guidelines about HOW I share their product with my readers.  As a creative blogger this is really frustrating for me.  Be willing to be flexible and work with the blogger and you will get a more organic post and a REAL review for your product.  There have been a lot of products that I would have loved to share, but didn’t because I didn’t want to have to “sell” it to my readers.  I value my readers and their time and don’t want them to ever feel that I am using them to sell or push a product.  But, if I do genuinely love your product, I would love to have an opportunity to be able to share a great product with them.

I have had a few Brands that I have been able to work with because I truly love their products and know that my readers will too.  They have allowed me great flexibility in sharing their products in a natural and organic way.

If you’re a brand looking to work with online influencers, learn more about BlogFrog’s Brand Solutions here.

As a part of the BlogFrog Influencer Circle, I have the chance to create meaningful, authentic content for brands I love. If you’re a blogger interested in new opportunities, join BlogFrog’s Influencer Circle and check out some of the top brands already working with BlogFrog.

Now, I’m curious. What do you love most about blogs and blogging?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of BlogFrog. The opinions and text are all mine.

Healthy Kids with Odwalla Smoothies

If you have been following along with us here at The Idea Room, then you know how much I enjoy doing creative things with my family.  The seasons are changing and fall is quickly moving into winter at our house.  Pretty soon we will be spending a lot more time indoors due to rainy and snowy weather.  So, as a mom, I am always on the lookout for creative indoor activities for my children and I.

One of our favorite indoor activities to do together is to make and then play with the BEST Homemade Play Dough….EVER.  We use a secret ingredient to give the play dough a delicious smell and color.  Have you ever made Play Dough with your kids?  If not, you won’t believe just how easy it is…and the Play Dough is better than any you can buy in the store.  Watch the video tutorial and learn how to make play dough.


Last month I shared with you some tips for Encouraging Creativity in Your Kids.  As part of that post, I also introduced you to Odwalla Smoothies for Kids which comes in three delicious flavors.

image

Each of the new smoothies contains 100% juice and counts as one serving of fruit and contains 50% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C.  Even though Odwalla Smoothies for kids are made with no added sugar, each box contains 110-120 calories, and is therefore not a reduced calorie food.  For full nutritional information, including sugar content, click here.

You can find Odwalla Smoothies for Kids in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store.

Raising kids is tough. Every mom wants to give her children a good start. Whether you have a picky eater or a shy kid, the Odwalla Ambassadors are here to answer your questions about Recipes, Active Living, Education, Play, and Creativity!

image

We would love for you to come and join us in the Goodness Grove where you can ask questions and participate in some fun conversations.

Please share some challenges you have overcome in teaching your kids healthy habits for a chance to win at $200 gift card. Official Sweepstakes Rules.

Odwalla has asked me to be a Good Mom ambassador through BlogFrog. I am being compensated for my participation in the program but all opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of Odwalla or The Coca-Cola Company.

Encouraging Creativity in Your Kids

I love to encourage Creativity in my children.  I think it is a great skill to have that can guide you through a successful life.  It’s the way that child interacts with the world around him and it’s the way she grows in developing important of social, emotional and educational skills.  Sometimes parents need help teaching creativity to their kids.

So how can your encourage your child to be more creative?

1.  Turn off the television and computer screens.  Nothing can hamper a child’s creativity more than toys that entertain.  Kids now-a-days have access to entertainment 24 hours a day.  Gone are the days where kids played outside, entertaining themselves from sun up to sun down.  When I was growing up my mom had to force us to come inside when the sun went down.  Today we have to force our kids to get outside.

developing-Creativity-in-kids

2.  Encourage your kids to get messy.  Gather up your craft supplies or random items around the house and encourage them to create.  Many times as moms we are afraid to let our kids make a mess.  Sometimes the best way to learn is to let them do it themselves.  If that is too scary for you as a mom, roll up your sleeves and create right along side of them.

sand hollow

3.  Sometimes kids need a little help to get their creativity flowing.  Suggest different ways for them to express their creativity.  If they enjoy cars, encourage them to build a road for their cars with some tape.  Or create a city on a canvas drop cloth.

image

Or if they enjoy bugs, create a scrapbook for them of pictures with their latest bug captures.  Encouraging them is a great way to help them to get excited about the new project.

image

4.  Let your kids be individuals.  This one can be a tough one for me.  I have to really force myself to let my kids create things in THEIR way.  Stand back and let them do it how they want to do it.  Everyone is different and kids need to be able to feel like their way is just as important.  If a kid wants to color a picture of a barn rainbow colors instead of red…let them!  (or vice versa)!  There is not one correct way to CREATE something.

5.  Provide a place and supplies for your children’s creativity.  You don’t need all the latest and greatest supplies.  Sometimes the best creations come from a bucket of water and some dirt.  A little dirt is not going to hurt your kids.  Let them get dirty and then let them run through the sprinklers or the hose before coming back inside.

sand hollow 2

I recently teamed up with Blog Frog to become an Odwalla Smoothies for Kids Ambassador over the Creativity section.

Odwalla 6

You can join me and the other Ambassador’s over in the Goodness Grove where we discuss a wide variety of ideas and questions that concern all of us as women and mothers. This community is a great place to ask questions all about kids and healthy living. I am there to help encourage and get women thinking of ways to get creative to give their kids a good start. Come join us! By simply joining in and asking your own questions you could possibly win a $1,000 shopping spree.

Odwalla 1

And have you tried these new Odwalla Smoothies for Kids? They taste great and come in 3 great flavors: Strawberry Banana Jungle, Mango Pineapple Island, and Grape Berry Prairie. Odwalla Smoothies are made with 100% juice and count as one fruit serving and they are gluten free. I like that they are such a quick way for my kids to grab a snack as we quickly head from school off to ballet or soccer practice.  You can download a coupon and give them a try here.  They can be found in the refrigerator section of your local grocery store.

Odwalla

I hope you will come and join me over in the Odwalla Smoothies for Kids Goodness Grove.

Please reply with some of your fun tips for giving your kids a good start and be entered to win a $200 gift card. Official Sweepstakes Rules.

Odwalla has asked me to be a Good Mom ambassador through BlogFrog.  I am being compensated for my participation in the program but all opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of Odwalla or The Coca-Cola Company.

Arm & Hammer Ultra Last Cat Litter Solution

A couple of weeks ago I shared with you a challenge I had taken on behalf of Arm and Hammer Ultra Last Cat Litte r. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the results. I really did notice a difference in the smell of the litter box. There was none. I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am about this.

I have gone to great lengths to hide all evidence of being a cat owner. Not that I don’t like cats per se, I just don’t like people to KNOW we have a cat because of the cat hair and litter box.

And since the cat box and his food are hidden away in a cabinet in a room that many of my family use to enter my home, I had to find a solution for the occasional cat litter box smell without feeling like I had to change the cat litter every. single. day!

image

This cat litter really does work. It is just one of the many ways I try to keep my house clean and fresh. I also love to open the windows to let the cool breeze through the house not only to freshen it up but too cool it off in the spring and summer.  I also try to regularly clean out the garbage cans and sprinkle a little bit of Arm and Hammer baking soda in the bottom to keep them fresh as well.

What about you? How do you keep your home fresh and clean?

The maker of ARM & HAMMER® products challenged me to switch to ARM & HAMMER Ultra Last Clumping Cat Litter and this summer, they are giving away $12,000 in the ARM & HAMMER Switch & Save Challenge Sweepstakes. To be entered to win one (1) of twelve (12) $1,000 prizes, simply reply to the question below!

Remember to join other ARM & HAMMER Switch & Save conversations for even more chances to win!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Arm & Hammer. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules.

ARm & hammer litter challenge

 

If you have been following me for a while, then I am sure you know that I have joined with Arm and Hammer in a series of different challenges with a few of their products.  During this process I have come to be a big fan of their products.  I have never once been asked to tell you anything other than how I HONESTLY feel about the products I have been challenged to use.  And so far I have been a huge fan of the products I have tested.

So today I am taking on my final challenge…and for me, this one is something I am looking forward to testing out…

image

 Arm & Hammer Ultra Last Clumping Cat Litter!

cat door 1

We have a cat, and while I really like animals (I worked at a pet store all through college), I don’t love having them in MY house.

I have owned countless animals…until I got my own house (uh…thanks Mom)!  Now, even though I love animals, I don’t want to have any evidence of pets in my home because I can’t stand the hair, the mess, and let’s face it…the smell.

cat door

I have gone to great lengths to hide all evidence of our cat.  I installed a cat door in our laundry room cabinet, under the sink.  Since this is the main room my family enters the house through, I didn’t want everyone to immediately see the cat mess.

Now that I have the food, cat bed and litter box hidden discreetly away, I feel better about company entering our home in that room, but I can not always take care of the smell.  Not exactly the first thing I want company to smell as they enter my house…So I am taking the #SwitchandSave challenge to see if Arm & Hammer Ultra Last Clumping Cat Litter can help eliminate the animal smell.

cat door 2

As always, I will be sure to report back in a couple of weeks about how the cat litter worked for us.

The maker of ARM & HAMMER® products challenged me to switch to ARM & HAMMER Ultra Last Clumping Cat Litter and this summer, they are giving away $12,000 in the ARM & HAMMER Switch & Save Challenge Sweepstakes. To be entered to win one (1) of twelve (12) $1,000 prizes, simply reply to the question below!

Remember to join other ARM & HAMMER Switch & Save conversations for even more chances to win!

*This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Arm & Hammer. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules.

Redbox Summer Fun Movie Titles

Summer is quickly coming to an end at our house and we are trying to squeeze out every last bit of it before we are deep into school schedules, homework and projects. We set up a movie for the kids and a couple of their friends, outside on our back porch.

For some reason watching a movie outside is a lot more fun than watching it inside…right? I used to drag our black and white T.V. (complete with tinfoil on top of the antennae) out on my back porch with my sisters on many of my childhood summer nights. So it has been something I have wanted my kids to enjoy as well.

We picked up one of the Redbox Summer Family Fun Movie Titles, Puss in Boots. I probably enjoy this movie just as much as the kids do! Have you seen this one? I think it is pretty entertaining.

I asked my kids to share a couple of their favorite parts from the movie with you. Here is what some of them had to say…

What are some of your favorite family movies to watch together? Do you ever watch movies outside with your friends and family?

Rent movies like Puss in Boots and many other family fun titles, like Space Dogs this summer for a chance to win a family trip to the Kennedy Space Center! Official Sweepstakes Rules

3 Easy ways to enter!

1. Rent a participating movie or game at a Redbox kiosk before 8/27 and enter your email at checkout. Click here for a complete list of participating titles

2. Reserve a Summer Family Fun movie or game online before 8/27

3. Go here to find out how to enter without renting

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Redbox. The opinions and text are all mine.

Favorite Princess

With three young girls in the home we are definitely not strangers to princess movies. One of our favorite “princess” movies is Mulan. Although technically she is not a princess, my girls really enjoy this movie. One of my girls will even listen to the movie soundtrack as she goes to sleep at night.

I think one of the reasons I really like Mulan is for her courage and bravery. Mulan has a strong sense of family and moral beliefs and sets a good example for my girls (except for the sneaking off to war part :)) haha! Mulan is a great heroine for my girls to look up to.

Make your kids feel like royalty! Rent Kiara or another Family Fun title from Redbox between 7/9 and 7/28 for a chance to win a Princess Cruise for your family. Official Sweepstakes Rules

3 Easy ways to enter!

1. Rent a participating movie or game at a Redbox kiosk before 8/27 and enter your email at checkout.Click here for a complete list of participating titles.

2. Reserve a Summer Family Fun movie or game online before 8/27.

3. Go here to find out how to enter without renting.

*This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Redbox. The opinions and text are all mine.