Thursday, October 19, 2017

DIY Indoor Cat Garden

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MeowMixatTarget #CollectiveBias 

Today's post is all about my girls: Roxy and Shadow.  For those of you who also have pets, you know how much a part of the family they are.  We've had Roxy for almost 7 years (her adoptiversary is later this month), and Shadow followed me home on Halloween 2013.  They move 1,000 miles with us three years ago, and when we built our house, we made sure to get a screen porch (10% for us and 90% for them), so that they could spend time outside, which is their absolute favorite spot.  From the things we do for them to the food they eat, these cats are spoiled loved.

Now that the weather is getting a little cooler and they spend less time outside, I thought it would be fun to give them a little bit of outdoors inside our home.  I've read about cat gardens before, and there are so many plants out there that can be beneficial to cats.*  These two girls could not be more different, so I made a cat garden with a few different plants to see what they enjoy best.
What you'll need:
- a shallow planter
- 3-5 different varieties of herbs
- potting soil
For our garden, I chose parsley, mint, cat grass, and cat thyme.  Other suggestions could be catnip, valerian, lemon grass, and rosemary.
1. Use the potting soil to make a flat layer on the bottom of the planter.  Make sure you select a planter that's low enough for the cat to access.
2. Place each herb in the planter (I love the herbs that come in biodegradable, plantable pots) and fill in the empty spaces with more potting soil.
3. Thoroughly water the herbs and set in a place your cat enjoys!
So far, Roxy is a little unsure about the cat garden, but Shadow loves it.  By far, her favorites are the cat grass and mint.
Even though Roxy hasn't quite warmed up to the garden yet, one thing the cats definitely agree on is their love for Meow Mix.  In the past, we've mostly fed our cats dry food, but now Meow Mix has come out with an easy-to-open and easy-to-serve wet food: Meow Mix Simple Servings.  There's no mess and no leftovers, and the Seafood Variety (24 pack) I bought at Target is awesome because we can get the assortment with flavors they both like.  10/18 through 11/15, you can get 20% off with the Cartwheel app by clicking here.
Yup, they love it!  If you want to try Simple Servings for your own cat, you can click here to earn points from Dailybreak.

Are your pets members of your family?  Do you have any tips for keeping my herb garden alive through the winter months?

*While I have done research on the best plants for cats, I am not a veterinarian.  Please consult your vet before adding any new supplements or plants into your cat's diet.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ScrubWithDots #CollectiveBias

Dessert is definitely my favorite part of any meal.  Mike always makes fun of me because I say "I'm full," but what I really mean is "I'm tired of eating this, where's dessert?"  I always have room for dessert, and if you have a sweet tooth like me, you know having to share desserts is the worst.  When I eat cake or pie, I usually take a look at all the slices cut and look for the one that's even the slightest bit bigger.  Needless to say, I love individual desserts because I can pick the best-looking one and know it's all mine.  These salted caramel apple hand pies are so delicious!  I used to only make them once or twice each fall because they can get a little messy and clean up would be a pain, but the taste makes them so worth it!  Now, I've made a couple adjustments to my prep, including purchasing store-bought pie crust (seriously, it's so good) and using Sponge Scotch-Brite™ Brand for easy clean up, and I am a baking machine.  Trust me, these hand pies will 'wow' at your next party:
- two store-bought pie crusts
- 1 large granny smith apple
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon flour
- 8-10 store-bought soft caramels
- 1 egg
- coarse sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Peel and chop the apple into small cubes.
3. Mix together the apple, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and flour in a bowl and set aside.
4. Roll out each pie crust and use the rim of a drinking glass to cut out 3-4 inch circles of crust.
5. On half of the crust circles, cut in a heart shape and small slits for vents.
6. On the other half of the crusts, spoon in about a tablespoon of apple filling.
7. On top of each apple side, sprinkle one caramel, cut into 6-8 small pieces.
8. Layer a heart crust side on top of each apple side and press the edges together, using egg wash (1 egg and a tablespoon of water) to seal the edges.  Use a fork to crimp around the edges.
9. Place each mini pie on a baking sheet, brush with more egg wash, and sprinkle with the sea salt.
10. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.
As you can tell, that cooking sheet gets a bit messy with all the baked-on delicious apple and caramel flavor.  Luckily, my Scotch-Brite® Non-Scratch Scrub Dots Sponge from Dollar General safely cleans all cookware, including everything non-stick.  The non-scratch sponges scrub fast and rinse clean.
For heavy-duty pots, pans, and cookware, there is also Scotch-Brite® Heavy Duty Scrub Dots Sponge that eliminates baked-on messes as well as both Heavy Duty and Non-Scratch dishwands.

With all the holiday cooking and baking on the horizon this fall, you can spend more time with family and less time cleaning!
To check out more cleaning ideas, visit the Scotch-Brite™ Brand social hub by clicking here and save $1 on our own purchase of any two Scrub dot items through (10/4-12/31).

Monday, October 16, 2017

Weekend Things

Happy Monday! This weekend, we had Mike's dad and grandma in town, which was a perfect opportunity to do all of our favorite touristy things. While Mike's dad has been here for a couple weekend trips to see us, his grandma hadn't been down since we move and hasn't seen Charleston since probably the 1990s. Picking me up from work on Friday at lunchtime, we headed over to Sullivan's Island for lunch at Home Team and a look at Fort Moultrie. Since they got up at 4am to get down here, they stayed back to relax while we went to watch the season kickball finals at the minor league ballpark. How cool is it that the teams get to play on the baseball field? Unlimited beer (for players and spectators) is an awesome bonus, too!
Saturday we headed to Johns Island to tour the Charleston Tea Plantation with stops at the Angel Oak and Baker & The Farmer, the cutest little new dairy and bake shop on Johns. This spot seriously deserves its own post soon - the chocolate ice cream and homemade waffle cone were perfection! Of course, we brought a few cookies home for that night, too. Dinner was our favorite Southern staple, Hominy Grill, followed by a few rounds of Sequence.
Sunday morning, Mike made sausage gravy and we spent time at Magnolia Gardens. After (my favorite part) the petting zoo, we did the nature train for the first time and saw tons of gators. After brunch at Mex 1 (another post I need to write soon!), we took a drive around Kiawah to show Grandma the beautiful beaches and homes.
We had the best time with them here, and the weather was equally as fantastic!

Friday, October 13, 2017

30 Before 30

I can't even count the number of people who said, "oooh, next one is the big one!" this year when I told them I was turning 29.  Well, if this year's birthday (and birthday weekend) were any indication, I guess this year is going to be big... I thought it'd be fun to round up a few of the things I want to do before this "milestone" to feel like I'm getting the most out of my last year of my 20s.  I tried to pull ideas for every aspect of my life: some of these are work-related, others travel-related, a few are to make the world a better place, and the rest are to try and be my best self.
1. Invest in an original piece of art

2. Get back to my ideal strength and weight

3. Volunteer

4. Get 8 hours of sleep each night

5. Purge and donate my closet

6. Start an herb garden

7. Have a girls night once per month

8. Visit more baseball stadiums

9. Network more

10. Run another race

11. Take a cooking class

12. Try yoga

13. Start a family tree

14. Do something nice for a stranger everyday

15. Visit the rest of the breweries in Charleston

16. Try something just for the adrenaline rush

17. Learn about wine

18. Make a plan to get to Cuba

19. Be a positive encouragement to those around me

20. Make an effort to break out of my introverted shell

21. Go on a hike

22. Advance my career

23. Buy a new camera

24. Travel internationally

25. Invest for the future

26. Cut my hair to donate again

27. Grow this blog

28. Stay more connected with family

29. Learn all the words to Rapper's Delight

30. Write to my congressmen about causes about which I'm passionate

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Surprise Weekend in DC

4:30 Friday afternoon, I walk into the bedroom and ask Mike what he's doing. "We have to get moving! Are you packed yet? You need to start packing!" "Uhhh, what are you talking about???" "We leave at 6. The high of the weekend will be 86 degrees and low is 67. You have to fit everything in one backpack." I panicked for about 30 seconds then threw everything I could think of on the bed. I didn't know how we were traveling, where we were going, or what we were doing there. Mike had mentioned doing something fun for my birthday earlier in the week but after a drunk friend slipped something at the bar the night before about seeing him out that weekend, I figured something a little more local was in the works. Apparently my drunk friend even knew the plan, and that was the beginning of the deception - haha.

Friday afternoon, Mike asked me over and over if I could guess where we were going, and with each guess I made, he'd add something else to his packed bag that I reminded him to get...more deception. When I guessed the NASCAR race in Charlotte, he got his binoculars, we packed all our toiletries in bags for a flight, and before we got in the Jeep, he made coffee for the road. Needless to say, I was confused. Well, we drove onto the highway, and at the last second, Mike got into the lane for the airport. At this point, I honestly expected him to drive all the way around the airport just to get back onto the highway. But he confirmed it, we did have plane tickets.

He said we were taking 2 flights and even the TSA agent was cool and handed Mike back my boarding pass folded when he told the agent I didn't know my surprise location yet. I made it until about 5 minutes before boarding when our layover in DC was spoiled by an announcement.

The flight was great, and we got off the plane to look for our connector. We started walking and talking, and before I knew it, we were headed for the Metro. Apparently we were there! Mike asked if I knew why we were there, and it took me a while but realized my Cubs were in town for the NLDS. Omg playoff baseball! I guess my summer of baseball wasn't destined to be over yet!

We got in at 9:30 or so Friday night, and after checking into our hotel, a Club Quarters around the corner from the White House, we took a night walk all around the monuments and memorials around the reflecting pool. Saturday was museum day (Air & Space and American History) before heading to the game. Sunday we visited the zoo and old town Alexandria. In between, we ate awesome food (which I'll link to below!) and walked basically every street we could! Thank you so much, Mike, for an awesome birthday surprise!

Friday night walk around the monuments...
Saturday morning doughnuts and coffee at Sugar Shack
Jumps at the Watermelon House
Nationals Park for the NLDS
Sunday morning with doughnuts and fried chicken at Astros
National Zoo
Old Town Alexandria (and the best cupcake)

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