Create the Good: Ways to Give Back

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Create the Good for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

With the holidays quickly approaching, I think many of us are reflecting on how lucky we are. Having a roof over our heads, food on our table, and family and friends surrounding us with love is a blessing that we should never take for granted. With so much to be thankful for, I sat down to think and to take a moment to focus on a few small things I can do to give back to the community and to create some good in the world.

These last few months, I’ve had the idea in my head to create care packages for the homeless to carry around in my car. Back when I was in middle school, my sister and I volunteered at a mother-daughter program called Ek Kardia (From the Heart). One of the big projects involved creating Christmas packages to kids coming from families facing some financial hardships. I remember the feeling of excitement as I carefully crafted my gift box and made a homemade card, smiling at the idea of making a difference in someone’s holiday, small or large.

I wanted to extend the same idea of putting together a bag for the homeless that contained useful and meaningful items. One thing that personally hits my heart hard is when I’m driving and see those in less fortunate situations on the side the road. I wanted to be able to hand them something other than a few dollar bills. I hoped to make something that stood as more than just a handout, but as a small gift from me to them as they go through a rougher patch in their lives. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone is fighting their own personal battle and it is not for us to judge, belittle, or scoff at the life situation someone might find themselves in.

To make each care package, I found plain white canvas totes at a local craft store and filled them with a warm blanket, deodorant, tooth brush and toothpaste, a pair of socks, chapstick, individual kleenex packs, granola bars, and a small gift card to Subway.

I’m partnering up with Create the Good to help inspire those around me to do at least one positive action a day to help support someone else and brighten up their day. Create the Good is a fantastic medium to connect you with volunteer opportunities that help you share your life experiences, personal skills, and passion in a way that gives back to your community. Create the Good is currently hosting a 25 Days, 25 Ways to Give campaign to help give you small ideas on how to make a difference in your daily life. These 25 ways include things as simple as taking a moment to compliment a street performer on their talent, sending a letter to one of our troops, or responding “yes” when the cashier at the grocery store asks if you’d like to donate a dollar to a charity.


If the warm fuzzies aren’t enough, participating in the 25 Days, 25 Ways challenge enters you to be one of 25 winners of a $100 gift card or the grand prize of a trip to Smuggler’s Notch Resort in Vermont!

Getting started is as simple as visiting 25 Days, 25 Ways to Give and signing up with your name and email address. From there, be prepared to get tons of inspiration on how your small actions can make a big difference!

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Weekend Recap

Hi friends! Let’s catch up on the weekend!

Thursday was a late night at the library for Kyle and I and we ended up spending about 5 1/2 hours there cranking out work. Me on organic chemistry and Kyle on a capstone project. I’m lucky in that I’m usually able to concentrate for long periods of time without getting antsy, but I swear I was hardwired with productivity that night and was flying through my studies. I’m 99% sure my focus was due to my new drug of choice: dirty chai lattes. I discovered them a few days before and ended up having 3 of them in a time span of 2 days. Yikes :shock: . And no, they’re not promiscuous chai lattes (which for some reason is the first thought that came to mind when I heard of them #immature), but chai tea lattes with espresso added to them. I think the combo of caffeine from the tea and the espresso work together in me to really bring out my inner productivity monster. Try one!

After getting back from the library at about 12:30 at night, I went to bed still a little wired from my drink, but slept well. I woke up the next day at around 7:30 and immediately began working on a sponsored post that I hadn’t had time to complete. I finished the post, packed up a few things for the weekend, and drove to the nearest gas station to fill up my car before driving home. Quick thought, but does anyone have any good fuel-efficient car recommendations? My old Honda Accord is about 12 years old and I’ve been considering saving for a new one since I’m getting sort of sketched out by how safe it is. You know how everyone has one thing they’re kind of weird about? For me, it’s car safety. I was in an accident when I was younger and it really impacted how I feel about driving in general. I’d want something eco-friendly and great on gas mileage since I’ll be driving a lot to photograph weddings in the SoCal area. Recommendations are appreciated!

After getting home, I vegged out for a while before plugging away at an essay I have due in a week and a half or so.

I planned on staying at home all day to power through work, but my parents informed me that the annual Christmas gathering at our Norwegian church was happening that day and I decided to take a study break. When I was growing up, my sister and I would go to Norwegian school on Thursday nights and we have a lot of memories at that church. It’s been about 4 years since we last went to the Christmas festivities there, so it was a major throwback. Everything seemed a lot smaller!

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Wok Wednesday with P.F. Chang’s (Giveaway!)

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of P.F. Chang’s Home Menu for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Imagine this scenario: you come home from a busy, busy day and you are HANGRY. Your boyfriend hides from you because you are rummaging through the fridge like a madwoman and you might just bite off his head. All seems lost and it becomes increasingly more evident that you’ll have to brave the frigid 60 degree Californian weather to go get some takeout. You turn away from the fridge, desolate, before having a foodie epiphany. You open up the freezer and… YES! Huzzah! Your dinner problems are solved and you are sitting down to a delicious and easy meal in a matter of minutes.

Meet my new friend, P.F Changs Home Menu.

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P.F. Chang’s Home Menu let’s you enjoy all the yummy Asian-inspired food that you love, but without all the hassle of making a mess in the kitchen yourself or having to run out to a restaurant! With a fantastic variety of beef, chicken, shrimp, veggies, noodles, and lick-the-spoon sauces, there’s a meal or side dish that everyone will enjoy! On Wednesday, I had dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes (!) and satisfied my broccoli and beef craving without having tons of pots and pans to clean after. Talk about taking my hump day and amping it up with #WokWednesday! You really can’t beat the convenience and combination of bold flavors.

To amp up my P.F Chang’s Home Menu meal, I added red pepper flakes for a little spice (not too much, since you all know I’m a spice wimp!) and garlic salt for a pump of extra flavor. I served everything on top a bed of their white rice, which soaked up all the sauce and made for a more hearty meal!

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Giveaway Alert!!

You can find P.F. Chang’s Home menu is your local grocery store in the frozen aisle and can enter to win the Wok Wednesday Kit Giveaway which includes branded woks, chopsticks, tableware, etc!

Enter by leaving a comment below on what you would do to celebrate #WokWednesday. One lucky person will win!

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Wok Wednesday

Healthy Garlic Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

Healthy Garlic Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

A fluffy mashed potatoes that’s completely free of butter and heart-healthy? I’ll take a pool-full PLS.

Today’s recipe is here to answer your foodie prayer for lightened-up Thanksgiving eats! I know the holidays can be tricky for those trying to eat healthy and keep from over-indulging. You’re looking to stay on track, but endless amounts of baked goods and butter-laden dishes are flashed in your face and, let’s be honest, resistance is futile. You think you’re grabbing some salad, but you look down at your plate and you *somehow* managed to get half a pie on your plate. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? It’s a mystery.

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If We Were on a Coffee Date… #3

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If we were on a coffee date… I’d tell you that last Friday, Kyle and I had our 5 year anniversary! I’ve been pretty terrible about blogging regularly/taking photos, so I don’t have a recap from the day, but it was fantastic. We got a couples massage and headed to our special restaurant in the mountains for a rustic and cozy dinner. Oh! And I got a very sparkly promise ring that’s currently sitting on my finger as I type this. I am a huge fan of gold antique-y jewelry and Kyle completely blew my expectations away with the gift he got for me. Am I lucky or what?!

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