Ask Away...

September 30, 2014

I Even Stay Organized with My Diet

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I'm obsessed with organizing and I find that being organized helps me stick to a healthier lifestyle.  So it's no surprise that I'm eating healthier at lunch now because I can organize my food!   I am obsessed with Laptop Lunches from Bento-ware!

This little gem is the bistro bento box.  It comes in the beautiful color I chose and it's made of durable plastic that is microwave safe and dishwasher safe!  
I have been majorly slacking on my healthy lunches and I end up either having just a sandwich, or I only eat half because I'm just miserable.    So I figured if I have a little more fun with lunch prep, it should help. And it did!
Inside my Laptop Lunch is a sandwich box, a little container with a lid for fruit or any other side, and a lidless container (the Laptop Lunch lid actually acts as the lid for this one for anything else! The possibilites are endless. I love the silverware slot! I actually use it for my string cheese.  I put fresh apples in the one container and some granola in the other.   And you can actually get different Bento Buddies for different configurations. 

Does it make life easier for me? Heck yes it does!   I just get home, rinse out everything, and repack it for the next day.  Then when I am getting ready to head to work in the morning, I don't have to worry about shovig my sandwich in my purse and having it squished.   That's because the Laptop Lunch box is sturdy and protective.  Then even if I toss it around while it's in my purse, the two lidded containers inside are water-tight.   And for those of you that love being healthy all the way around, not only is this product free of phthalates, BPA, lead, and PVC but it's also made proudly in the USA!
Seriously, this is awesome!   If you are a mom, you will love this for your kids.  And if you are an employee who packs their lunch daily, like I am, and already carries too many bags to work (work bag and handbag) you don't  need a 3rd! So just carry your Laptop Lunch in your existing bags or under your arm.  I seriously will never use a lunch bag ever again!  

PS - What do you pack in your lunch? I want some ideas! 




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Black + Grey

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Thread Society is a wonderful place to find basics that you can dress up or down.  Here, I've chosen to dress this tunic top up with a pair of leggings!




 



Thread Society's mission is to change the world one shirt at a time! They even have an amazing project called the Shirt for Shirt program. They match every purchase made online and donate an item of clothing to a child in need regionally, nationally and abroad. They also engage, partner with and facilitate social justice initiatives in communities throughout the United States. And they've made a commitment to support arts and culture by creating collaborative and creative opportunities for artists across multiple disciplines.
All I did was add a belt, leggings, and boots to this outfit and used a pop of purple color with a statement necklace.   This is SUCH a comfortable outfit!



And I have a coupon code for you for 20% off at Thread Society. Just use: AskAway20
So What I Wore:High Waisted Leggings in Eggplant from GOGO; Flowy V Neck Dress is from Thread Society ; Boots - Guilty Soles.    




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September 29, 2014

How To Budget Better with Groceries

I recently asked everyone what budget related topics they wanted me to write about and one of the topics that came up was budgeting with groceries.  




Groceries can be a major expense but if you budget very carefully you can spend money wisely and maybe even find places to save money every month!  

Here are some ways to budget better with groceries.


Meal Planning//  Meal planning is an amazing thing because it not only helps you figure out what you will eat and when but it gives you an outline of everything you'll need from the grocery store for that week. Sit down and look at what you have in your pantry (spaghetti and sauce, meat in the freezer) and see what meals you can make from that for the week.  After a month of planning your meals you'll find it's easy to get on a routine of what meals you make on what days and you'll find that you have a whole selection of ideas to choose from each month.  All you have to do is change the days you eat the meals on (or if you are a creature of habit like me, just stick to the same schedule every month!)


Make a  List// Seriously, if you don't write down everything you need for each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner!) you'll always end up forgetting something and then you'll have to make more trips to the store, which means more distractions each time you go.  Also, when you make a list STICK WITH IT.  Those displays they set up are meant to entice you, but keep looking at your list and telling yourself if it's not on the list, you aren't getting it.

Take Inventory// Before you leave for the grocery store, see what you already have from your list so that you don't end up buying too much and then letting it go to waste.  Also, take inventory so you see what you are low on with regular things like Milk or eggs so that you can get them all in one trip.

Cut Coupons// The key to cutting coupons is to only cut the ones you will need.  If you don't eat pasta ever, then don't bother cutting coupons for pasta.  Some people buy stuf on sale and then never end up using it.

Research Sales// Each week after you cut coupons, check out the weekly circular for your grocery store.  Are there any items that are on your list, that are on special?  Put a star next to them, and also make a note if you have a coupon for the item as well. It's great to double up on sales.  You also can plan your meals around the sales after you get good at the meal planning.

Buy Generic// The thing about coupons is that they usually aren't for generic brands, so you may still end up paying more money than you need to.  For example: The pasta on the coupon is .50 off, and it costs $2.50 normally.    The generic brand costs $1.00.  So even if you used your coupon on the name brand, you will be paying $1 more than if you just bought the generic.   Always buy generic.  The price usually is better than any retail brand.  

Don't Be Fooled// A good deal can actually not be a great deal for your budget.  It may be 2 for $6 with ice cream, but do you really need to eat that much ice cream? It's not good for your diet... so maybe just buy a healthier dessert instead.  Also, with me, I don't fall for any coupons that say $1.00 off 2.   I usually don't need 2 of that item, or it will end up being something that will go bad before I use it.  Always stick to your meal plans and shopping list first before worrying about deals. 


Track Your Expenses// Once you start doing the above for a few weeks, you can save your receipts and add up what your monthly grocery expense is.  Since you are shopping more wisely you may notice that you only spend $400 a month for your whole family, rather than the $600 you used to spend.   And you know what this means? You can start budgeting $400 for groceries every month and then use the $200 elsewhere like to pay down debt or to build up your emergency fund.

What grocery store tips do you use to save money?






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A Breakfast For Dinner Clean Plate Club Party // + A Giveaway

This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Cascade.  I was provided the featured product free of charge to facilitate my review, but all opinions are 100% mine. 



Everyone loves breakfast for dinner so that's exactly what I did one Friday night with some of my closest friends and family.   When everyone arrived, they received a champagne glass of Orange Juice and got the chance to check out my signage!



Everyone could use some tips on making the most of their dishwasher right?


I told my guests how Cascade Platinum is the ultimate way to clean dishes.  In fact it was designed to clean dishes SO well that it can even get your actual dishwasher sparkley! Cascade Platinum works well on 24-hour stuck on food, just like the brownie dish that I loaded in front of them from the night before.   I then let everyone enjoy some brownies! 


It was time for me to start cooking breakfast for dinner.  The delicious breakfast meal was titled A Toast to French Toast.  Such a starchy and syrupy meal! My guests were excited to see how the dishes would clean up. 

 As we waited for things to cook and be ready, we discussed how to get immaculately clean dishes.

My tips were:

[] Never block your sprayer with bulky items. It's okay to stack dishes high and low but if you block the sprayer your machine can't work effectively.
[] Place tall dishes and pans in the back of the bottom rack so they don't block the detergent chamber.
[] Glasses or fragile items should be placed in the top rack so they are safe from the powerful sprayer under the bottom rack.
[] Long utensils should be threaded through coffee-mug handles in order to keep them secure during the wash cycle.









James heard that there would be syrup on the French Toast so he was happy.


Once it was ready - I served it and as everyone ate, I showed them how I would be cleaning my gunky dishes with Cascade Platinum!


 



I explained  that Cascade Platinum works best when the food soil is left on the dishes because it's special enzymes latch onto the food and break it down so that it can all wash away. If I were to pre-wash it, there would be nothing for the enzymes to attach to and the detergent wouldn't be working its hardest for me. And no worries about damging the machien or pipes with stuck on food because there's a garbage disposal built into the bottom of most all dishwashers. 

And did you know:
96% of people surveyed spend up to an hour pre-washing their dishes each week.   Yet, 74% of that group are STILL having daily dishwasher fails with dishes coming out dirty, spotted, or streaked.   And 51% of them end up re-washing the dishes that didn't get clean the first time!!!      

And 46% of people surveyed believe that skipping a pre-wash means that their dishes will come out dirty and gross. WRONG.    Remember everything I said above?   

I also explained that I put the brownie dish and some of the other items on the bottom rack face down so the water could get all the hard to reach spots! 



Look at how simple it is to just toss a Cascade Platinum packet in and add some Cascade Rinse Aid.



We all hung around and chatted and watched some TV while I ran the dishwasher.


Everyone got to pick up their goodies and instructions and we waited for the big reveal.



Holy moly!   Once again, super squeaky clean and spotless!

I told everyone to follow Cascade on Twitter and Like them on Facebook so we can rave about them on there!
Sorry you guys couldn't be at my party, but if you have tried Cascade Platinum what did you think?

Have an opinion to share? Head to the Cascade website to leave a short review of Cascade Platinum (http://www.cascadeclean.com/us/cascade/review) including #CascadeShiningReviews. One reviewer will win a Kitchen Aid Dishwasher!



Everyone was sent home with a goodie bag including a sample of Cascade Platinum and Cascade Platinum Rinse Aid. 

And guess what I have for YOU since you couldn't be there in person? A chance to win a Prize Pack from Cascade which includes:
Cascade Platinum
Cascade Platinum Rinse Aid
Whisk
Spatula
Wine Topper
Sugar Sifter
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Fearless in Fall

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I absolutely love supporting other bloggers which is why I adore my new Fearless shirt from I Wore Yoga Pants!

I also wanted to try out this whole turban trend with hair. It worked great!! It's from 9th & Elm where you can get handmade and independent designers pieces for a great price! It's great at keeping my hair out of my face which is my main issue in the windy Fall weather.







How cute are my shoes? They are Converse All Star Double Tongue Flower sneakers from JD Sports!  Nothing beats a classic pair of Converse to give you a stylish casual look!







So What I Wore:
Converse All Star Double Tongue Flower sneakers from JD Sports; Jeans - Old Navy; Shirt - I Wore Yoga Pants; Jacket - bebe; Turban - 9th & Elm.


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September 26, 2014

7 Keys to Great Hair from Chroma

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Can you imagine a word where we never had to worry about hair styling, washing, and products? Well, in reality, that's not gonna happen.  If you want lustrous locks, you need to properly prep them and that means using quality products.  

Chroma Studio Hair Care products are great for every type of hair and they are formulated in a salon by a stylist!   Any girl that's concerned about the maintenance of healthy, shiny, hair will love Chroma Studio products.  They address the needs of dehydrated, brittle hair and come with UV protection, sulfate and paraben free formulas, and they reduce frizz while adding volume.   So here are 7 keys to great hair!



1. Protect Hair With  Aqua Shampoo
Chroma Aqua Shampoo is color safe and free of parabens.   It won't strip or dry out your hair and it restores moisture so that each time you shampoo you are adding to the health and life of your hair.  It also has UV protection which is imperative to make your color last a long time between salon visits.  The consistency of this shampoo is great and a little goes a long way when working it into a lather.

2. Control Frizz and Infuse Volume with Aqua Conditioner
Aqua Conditioner will give you body and volume while still controlling frizz.  Again, there are no parabens or sulfates.  Remember that your hair is technically dead on the ends so any TLC you can give it is VERY beneficial.  I not only love the smell of this conditioner but I also love how it left my hair silky and shiny after my shower.
3. Protect Before Your Dry
Most of us use a hairdryer to dry our hair after the shower.  This means we are damaging it after we just tried to restore it's health.  ALWAYS use a heat protectant when thermal styling.  You'll gain root lift and volume from Volume Heat Protection and I assure you it won't leave a sticky residue behind. 
4. Sculpt Your Strands the Right Way
With Sculpt, you get a soft hold with definition and control and no crusty stiff strands. It smells great and a little goes a long way.
5. Sculpt and Tone Together
With Sculpt and Tone you get a styling cream AND a toner which eliminates brassiness caused by oxidation.  I love how this helps my highlights look like I just got them done!


6. Let It Shine
Shine is an olive oil based spray that not only gives you shiny hair with just a few quick sprays, but it also detangles!  It's my must have product.
7. Get Yourself Under Control
Control 3 Way Hairspray helps give you a soft, medium, or strong hold depending on the adjustment of the nozzle. You get to choose! It works great all day long for me and I'm pretty rough on my hair styles!
What are your tips and tricks for healthy hair?


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