Product Review: Fresh Step® Lightweight Extreme Cat Litter

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Fresh Step Lightweight Extreme Litter for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
 Fresh Step ® Lightweight Extreme Litter and Target  asked me to give this new cat litter a try. We have 2 cats and picking a great cat litter for odor control is crucial in this small house!

Now that we are empty nesters and our children attend college 2000 miles from home, our cats, George, and Ty-Ty provide a lot of our entertainment now, and help the house not feel so empty.  Since the kids are gone and the cats don't have as many people to play with them, I recently put a bird feeder right outside their favorite window and they have loved watching the birds. We call it cat tv!

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The  reason I accepted the challenge to try out the new lightweight  litter available at Target, is that in the past year and a half I have been diagnosed with a degenerative disease in my spine. This has made lifting heavy items a big no no for me, so I was anxious to see if Fresh Step® new lightweight extreme litter  will have both the quality I am used to, AND be a bit easier on my back.

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My trip to Target was a quick one, because they have the display in a very easy to find location, right on the end cap of their pet section. Besides the scale on the display showing the 30% lighter litter, I liked that the bottom shelf had the original cat litter so that when I picked up the lightweight extreme litter you know I had to also pick up the original to see for myself if there was a difference. Of course the difference in weight was huge! It was easy to carry and load in my cart, and  I can't wait to see how much easier it will be to pour it when I change out the litter this week!

I'll be posting next week what these two furballs think of the new litter! Cross your fingers!

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Fall Burlap Wreath

This cute, yet inexpensive wreath can be made for fall or any season or colors that you love, any time of year!

This wreath from start to finish was under $10 by using some inexpensive supplies. I made this one for my daughter in law, using her favorite colors. The pictures show the deep teal as more blue than it really is. Her favorite colors of red and teal are the feature for this version, but I already have a more traditional autumn themed wreath in the works, using deep autumn yellow, orange, and red felt flowers. Have fun with it!

Felt Flowers (see how here)
Pool Noodle
Duck Tape.
Plain Burlap Ribbon
Printed Burlap Bow (I used a red chevron pattern)
Hot Glue Gun.
sewing pins.

Monogram wooden letter (Mine is about 13 inches long).
Scrap book paper and modge podge Glue

Take Pool noodle and form a circle. Grab a friend, and have them help you secure the noodle in to the wreath shape by wrapping it securly in duct tape.

Wrap pool noodle in burlap ribbon, overlapping the ribbon to cover the wreath. Secure end of burlap ribbon with hot glue to the wreath.

Using sewing pins, place felt flowers in desired locations, and secure into the wreath. Using the pins will allow you to "play" with the placement before you are ready to secure them permanently with hot glue.

When you are ready to permamently secure the flowers to wreath, gently lift the flower up slightly and hot glue it to wreath.
(I wonder if you secured the flowers down tightly enough with pins, if you could swap out the felt flowers year round to change up the wreath?)
Glue Printed Burlap Bow to bottom of wreath, right next to the last flowers.

To use a monogram letter:
Using Modge podge and scrapbooking paper , cover a wooden alphabet letter  to decorate.
Hot glue bottom of letter to the inside bottom of wreath right above teh bow. If top /sides of letter touch the wreath, hot glue there as well.
Using clear fishing line, feed the line around /through the top of the letter ,and secure around the top of the wreath, tying a tight knot in the fishing line.


Spicy Stuffed Acorn Squash

With fall comes a bounty of fall/winter squash. Acorn squash is the star of today's recipe! With it's mello flavor, it is the perfect "bowl" to serve a spicy sausage, black beans and 7 grain pilaf!  This would make a great vegetarian dish by adding in tvp/soy crumbles in place of the sausage, or just leaving it out all together.

I think I'll try playing with this in the crock pot w/out precooking the squash next time. Anyone have thoughts on this?


Felt Flowers

Making Felt Flowers, like these little Roses is very easy to do! You can have a bunch of them made up in minutes! No real crafting talent needed! I promise!
I am making a wreath for my daughter in law using most of her favorite colors (Which I will show you in my next post! Sorry for the teaser! You can use these little flowers in a ton of different ways!

Let me show you how to do it.

8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet of felt.
an old CD (Computer, music, dvd, etc)
Hot Glue Gun

Trace a circle onto your felt using the old cd as a template and the pencil. (I can fit 3 circles to a sheet)
Cut out Circles
Draw a spiral shape onto the felt. (Ok, after the first one I skipped drawing the spiral, and just sort of cut it out by eye)
Following your spiral drawing cut out your spiral.
Starting in the center of the spiral start rolling up the spiral in your hands.

Secure the last outside end of the spiral to the rolled up flower with a dot of hot glue.

In this version, I started rolling it up by forming a "cup" in the middle.
This gave it completely different look than the others that were rolled up straight/even. (see the second picture above this one to see the difference!)


Master Mix: Soup Base

Making and freezing containers of this Soup Base will give you all the homemade slow cooked goodness of from scratch soup, with the speed of a quick, convenience meal all wrapped into one.

During summer when my tomatoes are coming out of ears, I make sure to make a batch of this soup base and store it in the freezer. Its perfect to thaw and either use in the crockpot or on the stove top for a meal in minutes.

Its' the perfect base for making: Creamy Tomato Soup, Minestrone, Chili, Kielbasa & Bean soup and much more!

If you don't grow your own tomatoes but have friends and coworkers that share theirs, this is worth saving those tomatoes for and make this  with them!

Today I am using mine to make Roasted Tomato Soup to store in my freezer but it can be stored as is and used later this fall for any soup you want:

Master Mix: Freezer Soup Base:
Makes approx. 3 quarts

15 large tomatoes (about 5 lbs)
8 cloves garlic
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Oil
1 large onion chopped
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt.
4 cups Broth: Beef, Chicken, or Vegetable
Optional: add ins: Diced carrots, green peppers, diced celery

Preheat oven to 400°
Cut tomatoes into quarters and scoop out seeds (discard seeds)

Mince garlic.
Place tomatoes on baking sheet.
Sprinkle minced garlic over tomatoes.
Drizzle 1/4 cup oil over tomatoes and toss tomatoes to mix well.
Bake 15-20 minutes till tomatoes are soft and roasted.
Let cool slightly.
Remove skins from tomatoes, and lightly crush tomatoes with your hands.

In large sauce pan add 2 Tablespoons oil and onions. Saute over medium heat till soft.
Add in to  pot:
the pan of tomatoes (just dump it liquid and all)
water, salt, broth and any optional vegetables.
Bring to a boil.
Turn down heat and slow simmer 30-45  minutes till vegetables are tender.

Remove from heat. Let cool 5 minutes.
Store in freezer safe containers.
Store in freezer, use within 3 months.

Printable Copy

To Use Soup Base:
Soup Mix In Options:
Use in your favorite Chili, Stew, or Soup Recipe or:
To use soup master mix warm up 1 quart, and add in your favorite soup ingredients:

Cooked rice
Small Ditalinli pasta (or other small pasta)
Quick cooking Barley
Cooked Quinoa

Beans: Cannellini, Kidney, Black, etc.
Diced Kielbasa
Cooked and crumbled hamburger, or sausage. (or diced brats)
Leftover diced ham, chicken or beef.
Stew meat.

Vegetables: (If you didn't add them to your base or in addition to )
Green Beans
Lima (Butter) Beans
Endless options here!

Seasonings: (depending on the type of soup you are making. You may not want any add'l seasoing)
Chili Seasonings
Italian Seasoning
Beef or Chicken Bouillon
Red pepper flakes

Click here for my Roasted Creamy Tomato Soup recipe!
What would you add in ?

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