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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Easy Heart Shaped Cupcakes

Last week in my Facebook scrolling I came across the most adorable heart shaped cupcakes posted by my friend and Pampered Chef consultant Anne McMillan. She was highlighted the Pampered Chef brownie pan, which of course I have because due to hosting a Pampered Chef bridal shower almost seven years ago I have EVERYTHING Pampered Chef and I ain't complaining.

Instead of running out and purchasing a heart-shaped cupcake pan, a small ball of tinfoil transforms ordinary cupcakes or brownies into the perfect heart shape.

Anne's preference for boxed brownies is the Philsbury brand, but if you are looking for something lighter than brownies she recommends this Chocolate Sheet Cake recipe.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup water
1/2 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs beaten
1 1/2 baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

Instructions:
Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking soda. Mix in oil, beaten eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Bring water and margarine to a boil and then combine with mixture.


Use the Pampered Chef Small Scoop (1 teaspoon scoop) to fill cupcake liners. The key to make sure you don't fill the liners up too much so that batter doesn't rise above the liner once baked. Once the batter is in the liner place a small ball of tinfoil in one of the corners. Bake for 16 minutes at 350 degrees.

You should easily dress these up with icing, but I choose to go the sprinkle route. One of my favorite things to do is to mix sprinkles to make my own custom blend. These cow sprinkles are one some of my favorites and I have loved using them on chocolate dipped pretzel sticks.

I can't wait to hear how you use this idea. Whether you need a sweet treat for Valentine's Day, bridal shower or just because I know these will be a hit.

This post was not sponsored my Pampered Chef. I just really like all of their kitchen gadgets. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A Fresh Look on GMOs

In the last month, I have been in San Francisco (Keep Collective leadership conference), and Denver (National Western Stock Show and Des Moines. When you are traveling that much, you meet a lot of different people. I’ve been in more Ubers than I can count. I am the kind of Uber rider that wants to know the driver’s life story. And at some point that means they want to know mine, so I share that I’m from Iowa and our family raises cows. Yup, this girl who is running around in black pleather pants, lipstick and has more bracelets on that you can count knows a thing about farming. 

On our farm we plant GMO corn and soybeans. It helps us less water and less energy. GMO farming methods have reduced the equivalent of nearly 500 billions pounds of carbon dioxide from the air. Both our farm and organic farms use pesticides to ensure that our plants stay healthy, however using GMOs lets us cut back dramatically on the amount needed. We can spray less often, with more targeted precision. On average, GMO farming has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, while increasing cop yields by 22%. Land is expensive so the more we can grow on least amount of land possible the better. 


Whether it be the Uber driver, my city-living conference roommates, the server at the restaurant or the CEO of Keep Collective they are all concerned about one thing: the safety of the food they are feeding their families. Thanks to the media and fancy marketing labels everyone is so darn confused about what is right and wrong, healthy or safe. GMOs are on the top of everyone’s list as “I’m not so sure about those things.”


Now let's start with some basics. GMOs aren’t a thing, but a breeding method. Nearly every crop grown today could be considered a GMO: People have been selecting and cross-breeding crops to make them more useful for thousands of years. What was once the result of trial and error is now efficient, predictable and precise — a finely tuned way to pass beneficial, naturally occurring traits into the seeds farmers, like Jon and I, need to grow our food. At the end of the day, they’re no different than any other seeds, except they grow into crops that need less water, or naturally fend off invasive insects or disease. 

On our farm we plant GMO corn and soybeans. It helps us less water and less energy. GMO farming methods have reduced the equivalent of nearly 500 billions pounds of carbon dioxide from the air. Both our farm and organic farms use pesticides to ensure that our plants stay healthy, however using GMOs lets us cut back dramatically on the amount needed. We can spray less often, with more targeted precision. On average, GMO farming has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, while increasing cop yields by 22%. Land is expensive so the more we can grow on least amount of land possible the better. 


Recently, I came across a brand created by farmers like me called Ethos Chocolate and they care as much about GMOs as I do. Why? Instead of being focused on GMO corn and soybeans like we are, they created a line of chocolate flavors that represent other GMO crop stories: The Optimist (cacao), The Survivor (papaya), The Hero (orange) and The Trendsetter (apple). The cacao bean and each of these fruits are currently faced with environmental pressures, but through GMO technology farmers are working to make these crops more sustainable. I would cry if chocolate ever went away. I am addicted. 

The flavor of The Optimist (straight up chocolate) is my favorite, but I love the story of the The Hero the most. In the past decade, Florida orange production has dropped to its lowest level in 50 years due to the crippling citrus greening disease - which has infected 90% of Florida’s citrus groves and has no cure. This has caused revenue and jobs in the citrus sector to drop and orange juice prices to skyrocket. While a GMO tree variety is a long way off, researchers have identified a solution that can be applied to existing trees, using a virus as the vector to deliver antibacterial proteins called defensins found in spinach plants (defensins are also found in your saliva, fighting off microbes). This means that oranges will be sticking around for a lot longer, which is amazing!

With Valentine’s Day arriving soon and we all should feel good about indulging in a sweet treat. Ethos chocolate wants to send you, or your favorite person or gal pal a package of their limited-edition chocolates for free. All you have to do is submit your request here. Yes, Target will have a delicious selection of chocolates but this is a fun and easy way to directly support farmers and learn a little more about the food choices available to you and your family. 



This post was sponsored but A Fresh Look, all opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Winter Skincare and Make Up Routine

Dry winters and travel usually wreck havoc on my skin. However, knock on wood I think I made it through four days in San Fransisco for our Keep Leadership Retreat and five days in Denver for the National Western Stock Show without my skin coming back a complete wreck. I am normally really bad about being consistent with my skincare routine but I promised myself that I had to make it a priority and I came homing winning!

Beauty Counter Cleansing Balm: I started to use this product right before Christmas. If you have followed me for any amount of time you know that I hate washing my face and I normally just use make up removing wipes. However, I had heard such good things about this and my esthetician Anna Drees (she is amazing if you live in Northeast Iowa) is also a Beauty Counter rep and recommended this product. Removing my make up has never been so luxurious. You only need a little bit of the balm and it melts your make up off. Then I don't use water to remove, but rather wipe it off with a clean dry cloth.

Beauty Counter Countermatch Adaptive Moisturizer: I have been using this moisturize for almost a year now and love it. You only need one pump, and it provide hydration for 24 hours. Technically you only need to use it once a day but often I'll use it morning and night. I love that it adjusts the amount of hydration you need based on your skin.

Ever Beauty Water: This stuff is amazing and I think is a big reason why my skin has been in so much better shape this fall and winter. You can use it has a make up remover but I have been using it as a toner in the morning. It helps remove any dried on skin or make up that I missed the night before.  I also love that it isn't drying like a lot of toners are. If you use this link you can also get $20 off your first order.

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer: I always get asked questions about my foundation. I don't think it matter as much which foundation you are using if you aren't using a printer. I received this one as a complimentary sample through Influencer. I have to say I am loving it. You don't need very much and it smooths out my skin, makes my pores look smaller and my foundation lasts so much longer during the day.

What are some of your favorite winter beauty products?

This post may include affiliate links. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Statement Earrings You'll Fall in Love With

Naked. That is how I feel without earrings on. I mean it can be hair in a ponytail, yesterday's mascara, sweatshirt off the pile off dirty clothes kind of day, but by slipping a pair of earrings on makes me feel that much more put together.

p.s. Lipstick works this way too. Lipstick and earrings are like partners in crime.

If you follow me on Instagram you'll notice that my earrings have gotten a little bigger and little more badaxx recently. I mean you really can't got wrong with statement earrings.


I have rounded up a few of my favorites. Yes, the statement earring is the perfect accessory for graduations and weddings and fancy parties. But, I promise you that they work just as well for a trip to Walmart (Target is 30 miles away from me), the ball park or a night out with friends.


Shocking that I would have a whole section on turquoise earrings. This is a color that looks great on everyone. It is perfect in summer, but I also love in fall and winter as a pop of color.

Before statement earrings use to mean heavy earrings that you were ready to ditch within an hour. I would say overall statement earrings have lightened up but if you are looking for the barely there feeling then these tassel options are the way to go.


And finally, remember that statement earring don't always have to be huge just fun. The next time you are in the J.Crew Factory story or Target, or shopping Baublebar online pick yourself up something up. I would love to see a photo.

This post may include affiliate links. 

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