Bloggers Give Back Giveaway! Win a donation to your favorite charity!

30 August 2013

I am so thrilled to be able to participate in this amazing giveaway that was put together by the lovely Lesley at By the Porchlight!  Being an employee of a non-profit organization & an avid volunteer with the humane society, I can honestly tell you that every single dollar counts and can make a major difference.  I can't wait to find out which amazing charities you all would support!

It's no secret that bloggers are amongst the most caring, giving people on the internet. However, sometimes our budgets don't allow us to donate as much to our favorite charities as we'd like. Well, here's a unique giveaway that gives you the opportunity to do just that - donate a bunch of money to a charity of your choice! One lucky winner will have a donation of $120 USD (or equivalent) made to the charity of their choice in their name!

The giveaway entries work just like any other around the blogosphere but this time all of the money donated by our wonderful sponsors will serve a greater purpose!

Please take a minute to check out the giveaway sponsors and their favorite charities below.

 Learn about World Wildlife Fund

Learn about The Girl Effect

Learn about Cause for Paws Utah

Learn about RAINN

 Learn about Chai Lifeline

Learn about GLAAD

Learn about Mollie's Dream TNR

Enter below for a chance to have $120 donated in your name to your favorite charity! Good luck!

Boysenberry & Greek Yougurt Popcicles

15 August 2013

Boysenberries are a cross between a blackberry, raspberry, and loganberry...and they are delicious.  They are sweet with a delicate complex flavor.  They don't have the same kind of acidity that you'd expect from a raspberry or blackberry and they are really unique and have a flavor all their own.  How have I lived 29 years without discovering these beautiful berries?

I decided that the perfect accompaniment to these lovely berries would be a touch of greek yogurt.  The natural tartness & beautiful thick creamy texture were perfect with the sweet, fresh flavor of the boysenberry.  As an added bonus, greek yogurt adds a great punch of calcium and protein to this sweet summer dessert.

Greek Yogurt & Boysenberry Popsicles!

Here's what you need:
1 pint fresh or frozen boysenberries
1 cup of yogurt (I used non-fat vanilla greek yogurt)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Toss the berries in a blender with the sugar & water.  Blend until smooth.  Stain the juice from the seeds using a mesh strainer or a foodmill.
At this point, you could just add all the yogurt for a quick and lovely pop, but I decided to add it in layers to get a beautiful ombre effect. 
For an ombre effect:
Fill the mold about 1/3 of the way with pure boysenberry puree & let freeze fro about 15+minutes.  
Stir half the yogurt into the berries and fill another 1/3 of the way full, freeze for about 10 minutes (if you are using a mold that has a base on the stick like this you don't want to let this layer fully freeze because you need to add your stick through it when you add the last layer)
Add the remaining yogurt to the puree and pour your top 1/3 layer.  
Add the sticks and freeze for at least 3-5 hours.
Remove from the mold and enjoy!

Greek Yogurt & Boysenberry Popsicles!

Jam Sessions: Ginger Blueberry Butter

12 August 2013

Late July & early August is blueberry season in the Pacific NW.  Fresh picked blueberries in the peek of season are heaven to me.  The simple pleasure of making blueberry muffins or just sitting on my patio and apologetically eating an entire pint of blueberries are a special part the joys of summer for me.

This year, I decided to try something a little different with my blueberry haul - blueberry butter.  It's something I've been curious about for awhile and I'm glad I finally tried it.  By taking pureed berries and cooking them for hours with ginger and sugar, it transforms the traditional blueberry experience.  Blueberry butter is a deep, rich sauce-like condiment that is a perfect accompaniment to cheeses or ice cream and also lends itself beautifully to meat marinades.  It is also really easy to make.

Ginger Blueberry Butter!

You will need:
5 cups washed blueberries (about 2 or 3 pints)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 cups of sugar
3/4 teaspoon powdered ginger*

Puree your berries in a blender or with an immersion blender.  Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and mix.  Cook on high for 6-12 hours, stirring occasionally and leaving the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape.  The longer you cook your butter, the thicker it will become, so the cooking time is entirely based on your preference.
Once you have reached your desired consistency, you can ladle into hot, sterilized jars and process in a hot waterbath canner for 10 minutes.

*The spices that go into blueberry butter are entirely up to you.  I chose ginger to brighten the blueberry flavor and give it a bit of zing, but make what you like to eat.  By adding 1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon of cloves will transform your butter to that traditional beloved fall flavor similar to traditional apple butters.  You could also experiment with curry, pepper, cardamom, or anise to make something completely your own.

30 before 30 : Update

10 August 2013

I have just about 4 months left before my 30th birthday and my 30 before 30 list is going really well and I figured it was a good time to revisit it and update.

It has been an amazing few months since I started this list. I did some truly amazing things that I had been dreaming of my whole life (like seeing the northern lights in Iceland!) and it reminds me that I sometimes really need to let myself dream bigger and really take risks to make those dreams a reality. At the same time, it's a way for me to celebrate the little things like a new tattoo or refinishing the prefect desk.

Here's a little update:
1. See New Orleans - check!
2. Eat an authentic New Orleans poboy (& also try either crawfish or alligator)check!
3. Go on a swap tourcheck!
4. Travel outside of the US check - Iceland & Canada!
5. See the Northern Lights - check!
6. Soak in the Blue Lagoon - check!
7. Say "yes" to new adventures and experiences - always a work in progress, but I think I am doing pretty well so far!
8. Find a new job that makes me happy and leaves room for a work/life balance  - I have taken a position in a non-profit eldercare organization as of July 1 & I am really enjoying my work! 
9. Continue writing this blog - I know that I've been a little behind on how often I update, but I adore this blog and I adore the people it has allowed me to meet, so I am not giving up ;)
10. Refinish my new desk - check!
11. Try more recipes that intimidate me
12. Get another tattoo - check!
13. Get my craft room fully organized - so close! More work this weekend!
14. Make an effort to declutter my life - Several carloads of Goodwill donations have been made as well as a massive yardsale.  I am going to continue this project to create better habits!
15. Work on connecting more with my sister 
16. Be better about keeping in touch with people & sending mail
17. Grow at least one new thing in the garden that I've never tried before - This year, I am trying a few different radishes, carrots, and pattypan squash.
18. Finish an embroidery project
19. Pay off all my outstanding medical debts
20. Design and create a ton of custom jar labels for all the canned goods I have made
21. Continue doing the 52 Lists Project - I love this project!  I hope it comes back soon!
22. Attend GeekGirlCon 2013
23. Keep working on maintaining my savings account balance - I have been rocking it.  It's a huge deal for me to say that I have been accomplishing this through a bout of unemployment, travel splurges, and a new job!
24. Visit Vancouver, B.C. - check!
25. Go bungee jumping - I really hope to plan this soon!
26. Express my gratitude for the people in my life more often - a never ending quest, but I feel like I've been really focused.
27. Start an Etsy shop for some of my thrifting finds 
28. Volunteer more often & take on more fosters - check!
29. Be less afraid of the unknown
30. Plan an awesome 30th birthday party

My life has changed so dramatically since the day I turned 29, I have lost a job & started a new one, made some amazing new friends, created beautiful things, saw places I've only dreamed up, and I've learned so much about myself in the process. It's been a series of ups and downs, but I am really excited about where I go from here.
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