Five Reusable Food Storage Alternatives

Last year for Earth Day, I wrote about how small changes can make a big impact on the environment. As I mentioned last month, I want to start sharing some of the ways you can make small changes in your home. Today, I am highlighting my favorite reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go.

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

These items will help you curb your use of plastic zip top bags, plastic wrap, and other disposable food storage items we all use in the kitchen.

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

Out with the zip top bags

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

The following contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase from the link I get a little cash to spend at the Farmer’s Market.

1. The first reusable storage item I ever purchased (besides glassware) was the Wrap-n-Mat. My go-to lunch for work was always a sandwich and the Wrap-n-Mat wraps right around your sandwich. It also doubles as a nice placemat which comes in handy, especially on picnics with kids. Even though I don’t pack a lunch for work anymore, this sandwich bag alternative still comes in handy. The plastic on the interior allows you to easily wipe it clean, and is BPA-free.

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

2. When I saw the spbang reusable snack bag featured on TheBabyGuyNYC Facebook page, I was already sold. Then I read that you can put it right in the dishwasher to clean it! I love the the ease of this bag. It’s great for snacks, but I’ve also been known to throw crayons or dry erase markers in it. It is easy enough for Coen to open himself and pretty durable. Plus, there’s space on the back for school lunch notes or just writing your name. Check them out here.

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

3. These reusable Lunchskins bags came in one of my Might Fix deliveries. If you don’t know about The Mighty Fix, it’s a subscription service through The Mighty Nest that delivers one green living product to your home every month. This delivery came with one sandwich bag and one smaller snack bag. Both have velcro closures and a spot to write your name. This is another item that is safe to wash in the dishwasher! Yay! (Just make sure to turn them inside out to air dry after washing).


4. AtMat SplatMat is where it’s at! Seriously! I discovered these super cute reusable bags on Instagram and soon after was the recipient of one of their giveaways! These are great for snacks or sandwiches and can be washed in the washer or dishwasher. They are also safe to throw in the dryer. I usually throw them in with towels and then turn them inside out to air dry. Coen loves the Batman theme bags!

So long, plastic wrap

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

5. Bee-ing able to leave the plastic baggies and plastic wrap behind has been a long time coming in our household. I can finally say we’ve kicked both habits though! Woo! The natural, sustainable and yes, green, alternative to plastic wrap is Bee’s Wrap. I love this stuff. It’s made with organic cotton muslin, beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. The antibacterial properties of the beeswax and jojoba oil help to keep food fresh and allow you to use the Bee’s Wrap again and again. Using it is super simple. Just use the warmth of your hands to help seal the Bee’s Wrap around bread, cheese, halved avocados, and bowls (no meat though, ew!). Then, wash it with cool soapy water and let it air dry. It folds up nice and small to store away until you need it again!

Five handpicked reusable food storage options for in the kitchen and on the go. Safe, simple alternatives to common disposable items in your home.

The Bee’s Wrap was another Mighty Fix item for me, but I also found it on Amazon, and locally at The Freckled Hen Farmhouse in Fayetteville. Also, be sure to head over to nwafoodie for another great post about beeswrap. Lyndi is a fellow Arkansas Women Blogger, and she’s talking about all things lovely for your kitchen!

Think you’ll give any of these reusable food storage options a try? If so, come back and let me know! I’d love to hear what you think. Most of all, just keep taking those small steps!











Luxura Brush Renew

I received a complimentary cleaning with Luxura Brush Renew. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Confession: I can’t remember the last time I actually washed my makeup brushes. I know I’m supposed to, but honestly even when I do, the junk doesn’t all come out. Last week I had the opportunity to send my brushes in for a professional makeup brush cleaning service.

I had no idea what to expect. Who even knew there was such a thing as a professional makeup brush cleaning service? I didn’t before last week! I thought everyone soaped up their brushes with facial cleanser. Rinse and repeat (and repeat and repeat). All I knew is that my brushes needed this!

I'm a little embarrassed at how dirt my makeup brushes were before sending them to be cleaned with Luxura Brush Renew.

Luxura Brush Renew uses a seven step deep cleansing process that gets all of the gunk and makeup out without damaging delicate makeup brushes. The touchless process uses ultrasonic technology to gently and thoroughly remove debris, oil and residue.

{Side note: my first job ever was at a vacuum cleaner store called Vacs/Etc. At one point the “etc” included an ultrasonic cleaning machine. The service we offered was blind cleaning, but I remember testing that thing out by dropping all kinds of stuff into it. It was pretty fascinating to see how well it worked, but I never thought to try it on my makeup brushes!}

Luxura only uses plant-based cleanser Savon de Marseille to cleanse and disinfect the makeup brushes sent in for the cleaning service. Sounds a lot fancier than my facial cleanser, I must admit.

You can sign up for a monthly subscription service so you are sure to keep your brushes clean, or just send them in for a one-time cleaning. One to two day shipping is offered so you don’t have to be without your brushes for very long!

I am so impressed with the service from Luxura Brush Renew. My makeup brushes are good as new!

I am so impressed with the service from Luxura Brush Renew. My makeup brushes are good as new!

Ready to try them out for yourself? Right now, readers of the blog can get 10% off of their first cleaning with Luxura by using the coupon code: Gray10

I’d love to hear what you think if you try them out!



Hoof it for Heifer Trail Run

Each year that we visit Mather Lodge for the Hoof it for Heifer Trail Run, I am in awe of the gorgeous views!In just a little less the two weeks I’ll be waking up at Mather Lodge, eager with anticipation for the sixth annual Hoof it for Heifer trail run. Every April since 2012, we head to Petit Jean State Park to put on this 20K trail run that benefits Heifer International’s domestic program, Heifer USA.

I love that the money we raise through the Hoof it for Heifer trail run goes to help farm and food entrepreneurs right here in Arkansas. Living in Northwest Arkansas, it is sometimes easy to get into a mindset that there is not great need and poverty in our state. However, one in four Arkansans struggle with hunger.

Heifer USA

We presented a check to Heifer USA for more than $10,000, the proceeds from the 2016 Hoof it for Heifer Trail Run!

Just as with the international Heifer Projects, Heifer USA’s goal is to teach or train the farmers and ranchers, and then give them support as they get their feet on the ground.

“In Arkansas, we use a farmer-owned business model as our development approach while providing resources and technical support coordinated with local partners to invest in entrepreneurs, businesses, co-operatives, coalitions and all components of a fresh food value-chain, transforming the way people and communities produce, sell and eat their food to create new, vibrant food systems.” -Heifer USA

Not only does the program support the farmers, it also supports the community by providing healthy and nutritious food for families and schools, creating and meeting a demand for locally grown food, encouraging self-reliance and conserving our state’s rich natural resources.

Local farmers drawing on local resources and leadership to meet local need.

Heifer Ranch
You can meet Abu the camel at Heifer Ranch. Heifer Ranch is just a little more than 20 miles from Petit Jean State Park where the Hoof it for Heifer trail run is held.
Abu the camel at Heifer Ranch

And we kept the Hoof it for Heifer trail run local as well. Petit Jean State Park is just a little more than 20 miles from Heifer Ranch, the headquarters of Heifer USA. In fact, we encourage runners to go visit Heifer Ranch on race weekend if time allows.

Petit Jean State Park

The course for the Hoof it for Heifer trail run couldn’t have a more beautiful backdrop than the scenery found along the Boy Scouts of America Trail at Petit Jean! Heifer’s mission is ending hunger while caring for the Earth, and I could not think of a more perfect place to drive that message home than at one of Arkansas’ very own state parks!

Thanks to Arkansas Outside for providing photos of the Hoof it for Heifer trail run, year after year!
Thanks to Arkansas Outside for providing photos of the run, year after year!

We love putting on this race, and we love that our runners get so excited to come back each year! For a recap from a runner’s perspective, I encourage you to check out this post by Lisa Mullis of Arkansas Outside! Each year they show up not only to run, but to also take photos and share them with the runners. We are so grateful for them!



Worth the Wait {On growing & gardening}

Cupcakes and watermelon cake are hard to wait for when you're only 2!

Sometimes it’s hard to wait. I find myself saying this multiple times a day to my three and a half year old. I can say it without judgment or annoyance, because it’s a truth that we all face sometimes. It’s difficult to wait.

The truth is, I get impatient too. There are times when I simply don’t want to wait.

Over the last month or two, I have been developing a new objective for julianne gray. I wanted to jump right on and blog about it at the height of my excitement, but I made myself wait. During that time, I have not blogged at all. That may not have been the best decision, but I think I needed that space.


Each row of a garden needs its own space.

My garden is just getting underway; we put in the first seeds only yesterday. However, there was a lot that we had to do before we ever put a seed in the ground.

We cultivated our own compost to add to the soil (talk about worth the wait!) We planned out the garden. We purchased our seeds. We removed the winter cover. We pulled weeds. We reconfigured the layout of some of the leeks and onions that were already growing. We fertilized and tilled the soil. We made rows. We sowed the seeds.

If you are a gardener, I don’t have to tell you that these things are not just fluff (although methods vary and some do without some things I mentioned), they are necessary for plants to grow and thrive.

In this same way, I have been making plans, cultivating my ideas, and helping those ideas germinate into something bigger.

The thing is, I finally realized what I wanted to focus on here in this space, and that’s documenting the ways my family and I are trying to live with less, conserve more, and keep things simple. If that helps my readers to take small steps to grow our world into a greener place—a more sustainable, environmentally friendly place—so much the better. Confession: I don’t have all of the answers. I am not claiming that I get it all right all of the time.

What I do have is a passion for recycling, composting, growing your own food, living simply and with less, making instead of consuming, sustainability, supporting local, preserving the beauty of our world and caring for the Earth.

More details on all of this coming soon (including my garden!), I hope you don’t mind the wait.

In the meantime, I would love it if you would connect with me on Instagram and Facebook. I plan to be sharing some of those small ways we can make an impact on our world on those channels and I’d love to get your feedback!

Coffee in the Garden {The Grounds at Garden Living}

Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living.

If you’re on the hunt for your new “third place” or just want to grab a great cup of coffee in a gorgeous garden setting, check out The Grounds at Garden Living in Fayetteville. I recently wrote about the new coffee shop in uptown Fayetteville for Only in Arkansas:

Tucked away in uptown Fayetteville is a lush little courtyard; an urban oasis complete with greenery, blossoms, brightly colored bistro tables and now, coffee. This secret garden of sorts is ensconced behind an iron gate, and hedged in between a flower shop on one side and, on the other, a garden shop that is now home to Fayetteville’s newest destination for coffee.

You would totally make my day if you read the complete article here.

Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living. Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living. Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living. Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living. Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living.

Coffee and cake in the courtyard soon? I heard that they’ve added waffles to the menu too, but that doesn’t exactly fit the alliteration. Who’s up for a coffee date?





Landscaping Update {Friday Refresh}

We made it to Friday! I haven’t done a Friday Refresh in awhile. That’s not because there haven’t been any changes around here though. In the two years that we’ve lived in our house we have focused mainly on the interior renovations that needed to be done (and then redone in some cases). This past April we had some flooding that resulted in all of the flooring being redone (most of which was already brand new), a total gut job to the main bathroom, and asbestos removal. Things already look very different than they did even in this first-ever Friday Refresh.

Because the inside of the house has been priority number one, the landscaping has been all but neglected during this time. I finally decided that this was one thing we could have someone else come do for us. I am so glad that we did!

Flower bed with fall color

My main objective was cleaning things up so the pops of color were just a bonus. The trees that were planted in this bed before were just not suitable in their height or placement, plus they were badly in need of trimming. Here is a before photo:

Overgrown flower bed before clean up

Here are a few more before and after photos of some of the other beds around the yard. They look so much better cleaned up, but of course I’m already thinking about what to add for more color and pop.

Before & after of front yard landscaping clean up

Before & after flower bed clean up

This is not a sponsored post, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Thanks to Mike Burney’s GreenCo for their great work and exceptional service. Not only did they quote me five times less what other companies quoted, they are capable, experienced and conduct themselves in a very professional manner. Check them out on Facebook if you’re in Northwest Arkansas and need landscaping help.







Guess who has two left feet & is taking ballet

Ballet shoes

Yeah, that would be me. Last night I mustered up my courage and set out to go to an adult ballet class. Can you imagine? I was so nervous about it and I probably changed my mind about going 20 times. I was rushing around trying to get dinner done and then I completely blanked on which dance studio the class was being held at so I was also frantically googling and scrolling through Facebook trying to find the ad for the class again. I was so close to throwing in the towel and staying home.

The thing is, I am writing about a ballerina right now and I knew this class would not only be fun, but also possibly give me a little insight into my character. So I went. I found the right studio and made it right on time. Only when I got there I found out that the instructor had been in the emergency room all day and the class would not be meeting after all. Let me just say that while I was disappointed I was more relieved than anything. “Phew, I don’t have to do this scary thing I drug myself out of my safe, comfortable house to do tonight.” Plus, I hadn’t had a chance to eat any of the dinner I made. However, the owner’s mom was there and gave me two certificates for free classes since I did show up, so that was nice. She told me all about the studio, her daughter, the other instructors and dancers while giving me and the one other adult who showed up a tour of the whole space.

I am still excited for the class for the class’s sake too. To be honest, I have secretly always wanted to be a ballerina. I don’t know how many times people have remarked that I should have been a dancer. I have always been afraid to let myself dance though. One of those things where I feel like I will most certainly fail at this so I’m not even going to try. At this point there is no worry about failing though. Sure, I may look like a fool trying to plié and attempting ballet positions (I don’t know any of the other names for them yet), but there is not a career or a recital or anything really at stake here. It’s just like any other class I might take—I am going with the intent of learning something new. I think that is what is freeing me up to go ahead with the class. Gaining knowledge to help me with my character is really a bonus to that end.

Not to mention, the best things happen while you’re dancing.



The Art of the Dance

Dancing shoesThis month is National Novel Writing Month or #NaNoWriMo for those in the know. This is my first time to attempt the ambitious goal of writing 50,000 words during the month of November. I am also going to post here every day this month along with the novel writing challenge. I already kicked my writing into gear last month by enrolling in a free online writing class through the University of Iowa. There is a certificate that you can earn, but my main goal for the class was to put pen to paper and actually write instead of just talking about it. My other main goal was to finish one complete work of fiction. So far I am faring well on the first goal, but I have started three separate stories and still have not finished one. The class is still ongoing, and I plan to continue on with it while also working earnestly on the last piece I started.

After writing and posting my first piece for the class, an excerpt about a girl starting a new school in a new town, I decided to pivot and write from a different perspective. Then, I decided I hated all of it and never submitted another writing assignment to the class. I did not want to proceed with either piece. I felt stuck. I needed some inspiration. So on Monday I decided to go explore Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

I started out on the trails because nature is one of my favorite places to find inspiration, plus, I needed the exercise. The morning was still cool when I hit the Tulip Tree Trail and then part of the Art Trail. Though I have walked the trails at Crystal Bridges many, many times, I discovered new things on this particular walk. I could hear the sounds of a construction crew and the occasional kid shrieking, but it was mostly quiet enough for me to immerse myself in the natural surroundings. I could hear the creek flowing, leaves falling down from the trees and the crunch of the rocky path beneath my feet as I walked along. I felt inspired almost immediately and decided to come back to the the Tulip Tree Trail Shelter with my notebook to write. However, when I got back to the car to get my notebook, I was suddenly thirsty so I went inside the museum in search of water.

Sights along the Art Trail at Crystal Bridges

What happened next was pure serendipity. I found that the current temporary exhibit on display is titled, “The Art of the American Dance.” I had a new character forming in my mind already that just happened to be a ballet dancer. I had not written a word of her story at this point, but she was there in my mind. I forgot all about the water I came in to find and walked up to the Guest Services desk, paid $10 to view the new collection (Though there is no cost to visit the permanent collection at Crystal Bridges, there is a fee to view the temporary collections. However, you can visit this collection for free on Thursdays from 5-9 p.m.), picked up a headset and went directly to the gallery.

Art featured in the traveling exhibit Art of the American Dance at Crystal Bridges

I have always just walked through the galleries on my own without a guide or an app to tell me about the art. I do recommend using the app (or one of the handsets you can check out) for this particular collection though. It really added to the experience because you are able to not only look at the art, but also see videos of the dances portrayed in the artwork, hear more about the time period the artwork is from, and listen to the music that would have been played. They even have a Spotify playlist you can listen to featuring some of the major dance songs from the 1940s to now. It would have been fun to listen to beforehand to get in the spirit, but I am enjoying it afterwards too. There is also this great playlist on YouTube to watch dance videos from Fred & Ginger, Beyonce, Swan Lake, Singing in the Rain, Westside Story, Elvis and many I have never even heard of before.

Once I had toured the entire exhibition, I grabbed a cup of soup and some water at the museum restaurant and got to work. I filled several pages of my notebook before leaving the museum. I hope to share some of my story here someday soon!






Chocolate & One Cool Cat {Halloween 2017}

This Halloween we took Coen trick or treating for the first time. This amounted to bribing him with the promise of going home and changing into his costume in order to get him to leave his beloved preschool for the day. Then, once we got home, we had to bribe him with chocolate in order to get him to put on his costume (This really shouldn’t be at all surprising if you read this post). Three-year-olds are so much fun.

Before I picked Coen up I got a text from Jeremy’s cousin’s wife, Chelsea. She asked if he was a fan of Frozen and suggested we come by her dad’s house where they were dressed up as the characters from the movie. I talked it up while we drove home, but even telling him we were going to see Chelsea didn’t convince him to put on his cute cat costume for trick or treating. Somehow, after a lot of coaxing and a little dark chocolate, we still made it over there right around when they were starting. It was a good thing too because by the time we left there was a line of trick or treaters waiting for photos and a traffic jam in front of the house! My little cat wasn’t feeling the photo op though and all we got out of him was this sly half-smile. It really was the purr-fect expression considering the temperament of most cats!

A frozen themed house set up just for Halloween!

We ended up going around the block to trick or treat at the rest of the homes in the neighborhood. By the time we made it back around our little kitty was hungry and ready for a cat nap so we headed home. I’m still not sure what we are going to do with all the candy we brought home. I was considering starting a Switch Witch tradition, but surprisingly Coen hasn’t been asking for any of it! We may just wait until next year for that. Plus, shhh, don’t tell, but I already ate quite a bit of it anyway. My favorites are the Reese’s!

How was your Halloween?

Last Minute DIY Kids Cat Costume

Need a last minute kids Halloween costume? This DIY cat costume is simple and cute!

This Halloween was all about taking the easy road. So why the DIY costume you may ask. Why not hightail it to the nearest Walmart and purchase a costume and be done with it? THAT would be easy, right? It’s true, I can’t think of anything easier. The thing is, I already had this costume made from last year. I know, I know, not everyone has an unused DIY costume to reach for, but I swear, I whipped this one together super last minute last year. Only, my kid flat-out refused to wear a costume last year. I wasn’t going to just let my handiwork go to waste! Okay, I did last year, but that was only because I knew that it would still work this year.

Now, last year I thought I would blog about how to make the costume and I even remember taking step-by-step photos for the post. However, those photos are nowhere to be found. In fact, I may have just imagined doing that. Luckily, I still had this inspiration post pinned on a Pinterest board, waiting for me. The costume can be done with absolutely no sewing, but I did do a tiny bit of sewing.

We started with a base of a black turtleneck and black leggings (I couldn’t find what I wanted in the boys’ section, so I just picked up a pair from the girls’ section at Walmart). Then I used an oversized (big boys size small) crewneck sweatshirt and cut off the sleeves. If you can find one that is not raglan sleeves it will probably be easier, but this worked just fine. Then, I turned the edge in and glued it with fabric glue. I am sure you could skip the sweatshirt if you want to, but we were glad we had it when the weather for Halloween festival at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks ended up being chilly and wet.

A few things I did differently:

Ears: The post I linked to says to use some of the leftover sweatshirt sleeve material to make the ears. I tried this, but felt like it was too droopy. Especially if you add some of the marabou to it as they suggest. The glue only helps so much. Instead, I cut triangles out of felt and glued them to the headband.

Looking for an easy last-minute costume idea for Halloween? This kid's cat costume is super simple and cute!

Tail: They suggested to glue the tail to the back of the sweatshirt, but when I had it pinned with a safety pin to figure out where to glue it my child was able to easily rip the tail off. This prompted me to sew it in place instead of using glue. You could probably do glue and see how it holds up, then if it doesn’t seem to hold well you could always still put some stitches in it to reinforce it. We also wrapped some electrical tape around the end of the wire hanger so that it wouldn’t poke through.

Looking for a last-minute DIY costume for Halloween? This no-sew cat costume is super simple and cute!

Whiskers: I knew there was no way my kid was going to let me put floral wire on his face for whiskers so I skipped this step and drew some on with face paint. Simple.

Looking for an easy last-minute costume idea for Halloween? This kid's cat costume is super simple and cute!

I think it turned out super cute, if I do say so myself. That ridiculously good-looking kid has something to do with the cuteness factor, but I take credit for him too!

I’m linking this post up on my friend Lacie‘s Funtastic Friday Link Party and her fabulous Halloween Blog Hop (Check it out, there’s a giveaway, too!)