Mar 29, 2012

Grow Your Garden with Miracle Gro Expand 'n Gro! {sponsored post}

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Scotts® for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Who doesn't love a beautiful garden in the spring time? I love going outside and enjoying the great outdoors, especially when my garden at my house in Utah starts growing. I love seeing all of the beautiful flowers, including my favorites, which are roses. There is something so peaceful and calming about a garden, don't you think?

That's why I think utilizing a planting mix that will make my flowers grow even faster will be amazing! Read on to find out why...

via Garden Collection

To make gardening much easier and proficient Expand ‘n Gro™ has developed a MIRACLE‐GRO® EXPAND ‘N GRO TM CONCENTRATED PLANTING MIX which transforms your garden in a beautiful paradise full of plants a plenty that will create an amazing growing environment, which will also result in excellent results in your garden!

How is Expand 'n Gro Concentrated Planting Mix different from basic potting and garden soils? Well, it uniquely blends together plant food and coconut coir fiber. A small, compact, and easy-to-store bag of Expand 'n Grow will be just as efficient as a big, heavy bag of soil, but even better! Amazingly enough a concentrated planting mix will expand up to 3 times when you mix it with water. It also will feed plants for up to 6 months as well as make your soil easy to work with. Plus - it retains up to 50% more moisture than your normal every day potting soil. Yay!

EnG Product Shot.png

Now it's your turn to try Expand 'n Gro. Why not enter into the ?! Offered by Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro, this is a great giveaway to participate in!

Do you like to garden? Don't you think making your gardening experience and prep time even better is worth it? I do! :)


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Mar 25, 2012

5 Black and White Photography Tips - guest post by Peter

Hi Ocean Dreamers, I made it back to Utah 
 and now it's time to work away! 
Of course I miss CA and BK very much
but I'll be back soon - I always am!
Here's one more guest post for you to enjoy 
{ I love black and white photography btw } 
and I'll be back tomorrow to announce 
the winner of my Juicy Couture giveaway! :)


5 Black and White Photography Tips

Black and white photos bring out the details in a subject, by removing the often dazzling distraction of colors. While any subject can be captured in black and white, many photographers choose people. That’s because black and white portraits tend to reflect a model’s personality in his or her facial expression, in a way that color portraits cannot.
Whether you plan to capture portraits or any other subjects, here are some useful tips on black and white photography.

1.                   Contrast is key
In a photo whose color has been removed, the intensity of the light becomes crucial, and will be one of the elements that will make the strongest impression on the viewer. Contrast thus becomes essential for conveying your message. For remarkable shoots, keep your eyes peeled for scenes with high contrast, because these usually make for the best black and white photos.
2.                   Play with contrast
You can further improve contrast during post-processing. When you use professional image-processing software you’ll be able to experiment with curves and levels, as well as with dodging and burning. These four, used subtly, can help you improve contrasts. And what’s great about them is that they can be used only with certain areas of your black and white photos, without affecting the whole.
3.                   Capture in RAW or in color
If you’re using a digital camera, you’ve probably tried already the ‘Capture in Black and White’ option. While with high-end digital cameras this option can produce good results, it’s still better to shoot in RAW or in color, because nine times out of ten the end results are superior when you do the conversion with your image-processing software, rather than when let your camera do it for you automatically.

Post-production black and white conversion gives you more options, leaving you more room for experimentation. For the most control during the conversion process, shoot in RAW. If your camera doesn’t support RAW, then go with color JPEG.
4.                   Shoot with a low ISO
For most black and white photos, the noise ISO adds is eye-catching, unpleasantly so. To be on the safe side, use the lowest ISO you’re comfortable with to avoid the noise. You have to remember that while you can always add noise with Photoshop, you cannot really remove existing noise, at least not entirely.
5.                   Consider using color filters
Some black and white photographers dislike color filters, preferring to leave the tones they’ve captured unaltered. Even if you’re one of them, why not give color filters a go, and see whether you can add special effects to your photos?

You have two choices: either a non-destructive color filter applied through your image-processing software, or a digital camera color filter. The first is less of a hassle, which is why you should try it first. Later on, if you like the effect color filters can bring to your black and white photos, you can start using a digital camera color filter.
In the end, remember that while black and white photography is essentially similar to color photography, it does emphasize contrasts more, and it requires, to some extent, a different approach toward the subject.

The post is written by Peter Smith. Peter is passionate about photography and digital cameras. Apart from that he is a freelance writer and teacher. Visit his site to know more about corporate video production and  film production companies.

Mar 23, 2012

Spring Time Equals Style Time - guest post by Ash

Hi loves, I'm still having fun in CA so my friend Ash is going
to entertain you with some lovely spring time style ideas!
Enjoy! xoxo.


Spring Time Equals Style Time

Ah, spring -- flowers blooming, birds chirping and best of all, fewer layers to weigh down your wardrobe. So with warmer weather knocking at the door, you don't want to trade your snow boots for last year's flip-flops. Instead, satisfy your need for brighter hues and lighter fabrics with these tips for making this season's spring trends functional for both day and night.

For the Office
Can't wait for that Caribbean getaway this summer? Bring the sand and waves to the cubicle early by sporting a classic straight-leg white pant with a coral or turquoise blouse. Top it off with some matching wedges, gold bangles and a pastel manicure, and your office look will wash away the Monday blues with effortless class. If, however, your job calls for a uniform, it does not mean you need to disappear into a sea of fellow co-workers. Stand out from the crowd with a brightly colored silicon banded watch or a bright pink lip-stain and gloss.
Wine and Dine

Nothing says boring like that drab black dress, tights and boots you've been hiding under all winter long. Shed dark neutrals and dare to bare some leg with a sparkling sequin mini paired with a similarly colored silk blouse. As always, shoes complete the look with some sky-high heel, but spring's popular trend is a nude pump that elongates the leg and subtly draws the eye upward. Keep in mind, however, that if winter has left your skin looking a little lack-luster, slather on an exfoliator to buff away dry skin and finish it off with a moisturizing lotion with a bronzer in it.
Outdoor Fun

Since the weather's warmer, it's finally time to venture outdoors again. If rollerblading, or biking is your thing, try incorporating the season's neon trends into your look by creatively pairing your knee and elbow pads with a brightly hued sports bra and head band! If you're a golfer, try hitting the links in a light pair of khakis, a crisp pastel polo and a great pair of ecco golf shoes.
Don't Forget the Hair

Your hair is as important to your look as your clothes. Since today's girl is as busy as she has ever been, who has time for those giant Kardashian waves that were "so 2011?" If you are forward-thinking and in need of a look that goes from bed-head to chic with a little texturizing paste and the swift tassle of the hair, consider visiting your hairdresser for the hot new pixie cut made popular by Michelle Williams. If you aren't quite ready to lop your locks, try rocking a sexy beach wave. You can keep your length and still look put together with a little sea-salt spray and some carefully placed highlights.
Be Yourself

Remember, spring is a time of rebirth and rejuvenation. There is no better time to step out and explore fashions, but be sure to be true to yourself in the process. After all, trends come and go, but the clothes you wear from year to year should always be a reflection of who you are.


Be sure to let Ash know what you think of her post on Twitter
Thanks Ash!

Have a great weekend Ocean Dreamers!
I'll be back in Utah soon and next up is a post from me! ;)

Mar 21, 2012

Lose Weight with Mouth Watering Vegan Recipes - guest post by Jefferey

Hi Ocean Dreamers,

Have you ever had vegan food?
I have and it was really good! 
Here are some great tips on how to
lose weight by eating vegan recipes.
There's a lot of valuable information in this guest post, 
so soak it up and enjoy learning how to be healthy! 

P.S. Yesterday I had a smoothie with spinach in it
and it was amazing! It was rather green but
encouraged me to be healthier and eat lots of fruits
and veggies every day ! ;)


Lose Weight with Mouth Watering Vegan Recipes

The world is changing and many people are becoming vegans either because of the health benefits associated with it or the realisation and sensitivity to animals being slaughtered. Being vegan has a different meaning for people belonging to different regions around the world. Some people believe being vegan is eating only plant extracts that include fruits and vegetables. Others believe being vegan is eating plant extracts along with dairy products and are called as Lacto-vegetarian. Another set of people believe in eating vegetables, fruits, dairy products and eggs and are called as Lacto-ovo-vegetarian. Basically, what is common is excluding poultry, sea food and meat from the vegetarian category. A vegan diet generally includes only plant extracts and no dairy products or eggs.

·         Vegetarian diet is rich in protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Vegetables and fruits are a rich source of fibre and folate. They are rich in phytochemicals which help the prevention of many chronic diseases.
·         Green leafy vegetables and fruits like blueberry and strawberry are cancer-fighting agents because of their high antioxidant content. They help in fighting against cancers like stomach, prostrate, breast and colon cancer.
·         Vegetarian diet is low in fat content, animal protein and cholesterol. It helps in keeping the heart healthy and weight under control. It also helps in controlling hypertension.
·         Vegetables and fruits are effective against diabetes and kidney diseases.
·         Fibrous diet helps in keeping a good gastro-intestinal health. This type of diet helps in relieving constipation and improves digestion.
·         Vegetables and fruits help in maintaining the proper functioning of the brain and protect it against diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.


There are certain disadvantages too related to a vegan diet. A vegan diet is low in protein because of no eggs and animal protein. Therefore in a vegan diet, a diet rich in tofu, soyabean and milk must be followed. Vegan diets can lead to calcium and vitamin B12 deficiencies. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause depression and low energy levels in humans. Milk and milk products are a good source of vitamin-D, deficiency of Vitamin-D can lead to osteoporosis and joint pains. Therefore, it is very important to fill up your deficiencies either by substitutes or supplements.

A vegetarian diet can be unhealthy too, if a lot of processed and high calorie foods are included in the diet like burgers, fries and fizzy drinks. High fat content foods should be avoided and a low carbohydrate diet should be followed keeping a balance between fats, proteins, minerals and vitamins.

A vegetarian diet can also be made fulfilling and nutritious by keeping following things in mind:

§         Eat three to five servings of multi-grains in your diet.
§         Eat a variety of vegetables, preferably three to four different types in a day.
§         Include three to four different types of fruits like strawberries, blueberries, banana etc.
§         Two servings of legumes or beans must be eaten along.
§         Little olive or canola oil, nuts like almonds, hazelnuts raisins and flaxseeds.
§         A portion of egg and dairy products like soyamilk.




§         4 cups chopped spinach
§         A box of Plain couscous
§         2 tablespoon vegetable broth
§         Mozarella cheese (vegan) half cup
§         4 tablespoon olive oil
§         8 big tomatoes
§         1 tablespoon pine nuts


§         Take a saucepan, add 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Heat it and add pine nuts, spinach, vegetable broth and couscous which is cooked as per the instructions on the pack.
§         Cook the mixture and make the spinach tender. Keep the mixture aside.
§         Take the tomatoes and chop the head of the tomatoes and empty their pulp. Rub a little olive oil on the tomatoes.
§         Bake these tomatoes in the oven for approximately twenty minutes till they become little crisp.
§         After baking the tomatoes, fill them with the spinach mixture. Bake them for ten more minutes.
§         Sprinkle mozarella cheese on the tomatoes and bake them for another five minutes to add the final touch by melting the cheese and serve them.


For frying purposes:
§         Tofu in a crumbled form One lb
§         Olive oil
§         Chopped onion (small)
§         Green chilli (chopped)
§         Salt and pepper as per taste

For the cheesy sauce:
§         Flour half a cup
§         Water two cups
§         Mustard yellow one teaspoon
§         Garlic powdered one teaspoon
§         Yeast half a cup
§         Margarine (vegan) four tablespoons

§         For frying, take a pan and heat it with some olive oil in it.
§         Saute green chillies and onion in it for about two minutes. Put aside in the pan.
§         Put crumbled tofu in the middle of the pan and roast it till it becomes golden.
§         Mix tofu, green chillies and onions together and keep aside.
§         For the sauce, mix flour, garlic powder, yeast and water in a utensil. Then put it on fire and keep stirring continuously till the mixture starts to boil.
§         Take the utensil off heat and add yellow mustard sauce and margarine to it. Mix them well.
§         Pour this sauce over the scrambled tofu and mix them well. Heat the pan slightly and the dish is ready to be served.

The article is a contribution by Jefferey Morgan, being a fitness expert he has great knowledge on healthy foods that help you to stay fit, his exceptional knowledge also gives him motivation to write great articles, visit his site to know how to get ripped fast and know more about him with Get This Ripped.

Alternatives to Diamond Engagement Rings - guest post by Carol

I hope you are having a great week Ocean Dreamers! 

While I'm enjoying my time in sunny CA with BK,
 please enjoy this guest post by Carol! 

P.S. When I get engaged I very much want a sapphire 
or multi-metal engagement ring. 
Hence I instantly loved this guest post &
 I hope you do too!

 Alternatives to Diamond Engagement Rings

It has been famously said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend – and that supposedly goes for diamond wedding and engagement rings, too.  By American tradition, a man proposes marriage elegantly on bended knee, while offering a glittering white diamond ring to the love of his life.  When she says “yes” it is a wonderful moment filled with kissing and hugging; usually someone cries.

But what if he were to propose with something other than a white diamond ring?  It has happened in the Royal Family – remember Princess Diana’s regal blue sapphire wedding ring?  In fact, the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth, and Princess Anne also received sapphire engagement rings; Princess Sarah Ferguson was presented with a ruby.

Although you may be new to the idea, consider creating your own vision for a perfect wedding ring.  Many modern brides choose a colored stone ring, an eternity band, or a less extravagant plain band as a timeless symbol love.  If you are in the market for an engagement ring, read about several alternatives to diamond wedding rings.

Sapphire Engagement Rings

Sapphires, generally thought to be a deep and mesmerizing blue, actually exist in nearly every color.  The exception is the color red – the reason?  A red-colored sapphire is known as a ruby.  Sapphires are excellent choices for rings because of the durability of the stone.  On Moh’s hardness scale, a diamond ranks a 10, the highest number for hardness.  Corundum (the mineral composition of sapphires and rubies), by comparison, ranks a 9.  A sapphire can handle much more wear than a softer stone, like an amethyst (a variety of quartz) or an aquamarine (beryl), which are less suitable for wedding rings that are worn day in and day out.

 The most popular sapphire engagement rings feature a blue sapphire.  When choosing your sapphire engagement ring, why not make a statement with a single dazzling pink sapphire (a solitaire)?   Set it to sparkle most intensely in a white gold or platinum mounting.  For an ultra-modern look, combine a pink sapphire with a rose gold setting.  Decide which hue of metal best enhances the stone’s unique properties. A fine yellow sapphire flanked by two small diamonds in white gold is an elegant choice; if you are feeling daring, you can design a wedding ring featuring two or three colors of sapphires.  The possibilities for a breathtaking sapphire engagement or wedding ring are virtually endless.

Ask your jeweler to provide several stones for you to choose from.  Is the stone natural or lab-created?  Has it had any heat or other enhancement (treatment)?  These and other factors impact the value and price of the stone.  An educated salesperson will be able to help you make comparisons and lead you to the best stone and setting for your particular circumstances and budget.

Multi-metal Wedding Rings
Today’s bride can create a custom ring out of more than one metal.  For example, a white-and-yellow-gold ring can produce a more intricate design than a ring made of a single color of gold.  One exciting (although pricey) possibility is Mokume gane, a traditional Japanese technique of melting different colored metals and alloys to create one stunning piece of custom jewelry.

Rings Made of Alternative Materials

You may be surprised to learn of how many different options there are, including:
  • yellow gold
  • white gold
  • rose or green gold
  • platinum
  • titanium
  • palladium
  • silver
  • tungsten carbide
  • stainless steel
  • enamel
  • ceramic
A simple Google search will provide you with results to learn more about each of these alternatives, including their prices and a description of their qualities.

Carol Neuwirt is a freelance writer from Butte, Montana. She is an avid antique collector. She is an expert in antique jewelry and antique rings in particular.

Mar 13, 2012

5 Foods with Secret High Sugar Content - guest post by Kodjo

Hi Ocean Dreamers!

I hope you are having a great start to your week. I'd like to introduce to you a friend of mine named Kodjo. Kodjo was kind enough to let me guest post on his blog: { How Zumba Makes Your Heart Healthy and Strong }, so I'm very happy to have him guest post on mine!

Kodjo is great in the health, fitness, and food department and is encouraging me to live a healthier lifestyle! Thanks so much for that Kodjo! I hope he encourages you as much as he encourages me. So, take it away Kodjo!
5 Foods with Secret High Sugar Content

No, we’re not talking about cookies or candy. Those should be avoided by default. What we’re speaking of here, are foods that are sneakily packed with sugar, unbeknownst to us. The not-so-sweet truth is that overindulging in sugar can result in a variety of health-related complications, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few.

Despite this blatant fact, Americans still consume on average, 22 teaspoons of added sugar daily, way above the threshold of 10 teaspoons. Lower you health risks and pay heed to the following unconventional foods with high sugar content.

Dried Fruits
If you thought dried fruits such as dried cranberries were safe, healthy snack options, think again. Most brands contain excess sugar and can easily carry 30 g per serving. Next time you are in the mood for dried fruits, reach for the unsweetened varieties instead.

Not all yogurts are healthy. In fact, the popular brands of yogurts contain at least 7 teaspoons of sugar per serving (equivalent to 3 times the amount found in plain regular yogurt). Go for plain yogurt, and add in your own frozen or fresh fruit; or even organic honey. 


Beware of the rainbow-colored and cocoa-covered cereals. Some of the sugar-disguised cereals include Kellog’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran, and Kashi’s GOLEAN Crunch; these two pack around 4 teaspoons of sugar each, per serving. Perhaps you are in the mood for Post or Kellogg’s raisin bran? Here, you’re looking at a whopping 5 teaspoons of sugar per serving! 

Much healthier alternatives are whole grain varieties, which boast higher nutritional value, and contain significantly less sugar.

Oatmeal will sure fill you up in the morning, but many of the flavored packets of oatmeal contain at least 14 grams of sugar per serving. This is the equivalent of eating three Oreo cookies! You certainly don’t want that many Oreos in the morning, and in one sitting. Instead, shoot for no-sugar content oatmeal such as Quaker Instant Oatmeal.

Spaghetti Sauce

A pasta dish might not stand out as sugar-loaded meal, but it can be unfortunately. This is because most pasta brands add sugar to their sauces. For example, one serving of marinara sauce contains approximately two teaspoons of sugar. True, you may not be able to taste the sugar in your marinara sauce, but you better be sure it’s hiding in there. Always make it a habit to carefully read the nutritional facts section of your groceries.

As you can see, foods that boast high sugar content may not always be screaming it out loud. Some are very sneaky, and you have to be extremely vigilant. Read labels systematically, and if the sugar content is low, pay particular attention to any artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or high fructose corn syrup. They are even more dangerous than plain sugar.

About the Author: Kodjo Hounnak√© is an avid health & fitness blogger. When he’s not blogging about home workout routines and healthy eating habits, he is probably either busy working out or eating healthy. Follow him on Twitter @Kodjoworkout

Mar 10, 2012

why you should switch over to cruelty-free makeup

Hi Ocean Dreamers!

I hope you are having an amazing weekend.

It finally warmed up here and it's so nice to enjoy the warm weather! I was able to exercise outdoors and it was so refreshing. The crazy thing was that there were about four different deer just hanging out in my backyard and they must be getting used to people because they didn't move very far. Part of me was frightened, but the other part of me was enjoying their company. It's pretty amazing how wild animals can get used to their surroundings sometimes. :)

This whole Kony 2012 pledge has really gotten me thinking about how I can make a change. If you haven't seen the video or have no idea what I am talking about please head to the website ASAP. I promise you won't regret it and it will open up your eyes to a horrible injustice that has been taking place without people even knowing about this, until know.

I don't want to be a blogger that's focused on popularity, fame, numbers, or anything of the sort. I want to use my writing and blogging to help change people and to change the world. So I'm going to make more of a conscious effort to write about things that matter to me and that will hopefully shed some light on some topics that need to be addressed too.
{Thanks My Beauty Bunny!}

Today I'm going to address cruelty free makeup. 

Recently I've switched over to organic makeup and cruelty free makeup after learning more about the truth behind the makeup I was using (Lancome). After finding out that companies like Lancome and more were allowing animals to suffer, I decided to switch over completely to cruelty free cosmetics. Cruelty free makeup essentially means investing in cosmetics that do no do any testing whatsoever on animals. explains cruelty-free makeup well and I'm going to quote them here:

"Every year, millions of animals are poisoned and killed in barbaric tests that were crudely developed as long ago as the 1920′s to evaluate the toxicity of consumer products and their ingredients. Rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, and other animals are forced to swallow or inhale massive quantities of a test substance or endure the pain of a chemical eating away at their sensitive eyes and skin– even though the results of animal tests are often unreliable or not applicable to humans.

There are many misconceptions that animal testing is required on products or that it is the most effective way to see how a product works on humans. That is simply not true."

The lovely Michelle at The Vintage Apple first educated me about how animal testing is affecting poor sweet animals and I was both touched and saddened when I watched this video from Beagle Freedom Project:

Watch and learn why these poor sweet pups had NEVER been outside of their cage for their entire lives and how they reacted to their freedom when they were finally able to set foot outdoors for the first time.

If you're curious what makeup brands 
DO NOT test on animals,
 here are a few of my favorites:
 {Tarte is the powder that I use & love.}
{I was really happy to discover that MAC does not
participate in animal testing - hooray!}
{Soap & Glory}
So as you can see there are still a lot of amazing cosmetic brands that have animal cruelty free makeup worth investing in and wearing on your pretty face. Unfortunately sometimes it is hard to tell who is cruelty free and who is not. How can you tell for sure? Well, the company only knows for sure but many companies have registered with Leaping Bunny, which proves that their ingredients have not been tested on animals. Also look for this sweet picture on the bottom of your favorite cosmetics website for a quick reference.

Two great blogs/resources
 that I go to and trust are
to get the facts straight and find out 
who is cruelty free and who is not.

I hope I shed some light on how many cosmetics unfortunately cause harm to poor sweet animals. But - by making a pledge to be cruelty free you can make a difference. Help educate people too!

Have you heard of cruelty free makeup?

What are your thoughts on this subject?