Sunday, October 2, 2016

My Four Year Blogiversary + Favorite Things Prize Pack Giveaway

Wow, I can't believe my blog is already 4 years old already! To celebrate, I'm giving away a real food & natural living prize pack with some of my favorite products to one lucky reader. The sweepstakes end October 11th, so hop on over to enter!

I can't believe this blog is four years old already! {ugly cries} For the sake of all things blogiversary related + nostalgia and all that jazz, let me give you the semi-abbreviated version of my blog's origin story.

The Rising Spoon's Origin Story 

I created The Rising Spoon back in July 2012, only six months after graduating college with a shiny B.A. in English. I had no idea back then how I was going to use my degree and the idea of working a 9-5 corporate office job sounded like a soul-sucking prospect (to be honest, it still does).

I moved from Kansas City to Dallas three months after graduating to live with my long-time boyfriend (we're high school sweethearts) and within weeks was stressed about finding a job. Scratch that. More like a career, because hadn't I just spend thousands of dollars on a fancy piece of paper for that specific purpose? 

That's when my man did the most kind-hearted thing ever and told me not to worry about finding a job right away. He suggested I take my time and figure out what I wanted to do instead. 

At first, I outright rejected his offer. I was like "I don't want a man to financially support me". Just the thought of that situation made me uncomfortable. Mostly because I didn't want anyone to have financial power/leverage over me. 

But as I weighed my two main options--go out and find an office job I'd probably hate on the fly or wait while I figured things out and my boyfriend paid the bills--I realized it was selfish of me NOT to choose the latter option. Why?

Most people would kill for the chance to explore their passions before pursuing a career. If I turned this down out of stubbornness and minor discomfort (mostly a fear of opening up and getting hurt), I might regret it for the rest of my life.

So, I said yes. 

In the following three months, I spent most of my time browsing blogs and cooking websites so I could learn new cooking techniques and try different recipes. Clearly, I was obsessed with food. But it went beyond that. 

Every time I learned something new, I felt empowered. I was slowly reducing my dependence on take-out and convenience foods and my home cooked meals made me feel nourished instead of giving me digestive issues. 

At this point I was stalking looking at blogs like The Pioneer Woman, Skinnytaste, Simply Recipes, and Budget Bytes + hundreds more...thinking, "I could do this!" with glittery rainbow stars in my eyes. 

And so I did.

I created The Rising Spoon on Blogger (I'm still happily using this platform), spent a few weeks researching basic HTML stuff, and in mid-August 2012 published my first ever post about The Pioneer Woman's green beans with bacon.

It was just a quick picture snapped on my cell phone with a vignette and yellow filter applied (clearly I had no idea what I was doing) + a few paragraphs about the dish. This original post is still there in all its amateurish glory 
if you scrolallllll the way back through my archives.

But that's totally not necessary. Just take my word for it. Unless, of course, you happen to be a brand new food blogger and are feeling down about your lack of photography skills, then totally hop over to look at my horrible photo. 

I promise it'll make you feel good. Mayhaps it will show you what a little patience, dedication, and willingness to learn will get you in the years to come. 

And this, my friends, is how The Rising Spoon was born. 

In the four years since, the blog has grown organically, fueled by my desire to create, share, and learn + a willingness to put insane hours into maintaining and improving every aspect of it (we bloggers wear about 7-10 different hats at any given time). 

These days I'm trying to find more work/life balance even though I am officially a full-time blogger (I stressed myself way too much in the first 2 1/2 years and was practically glued to my computer--not healthy), but I'm thankful for all the hard work I put in early on. 

And I just want to reiterate that many of the skills I have now were acquired along the way by teaching myself and experimenting (you can read my about me page here). I don't have a culinary degree. I've never taken a photography class. I didn't have a lick of experience with HTML or coding. No formal marketing training, either (to use for emails and social media). 

Why am I telling you this? Because YOU might need to hear it. 

If there is something you want to do right now in your life, something that fills you with passion and joy, something that makes you feel alive, but you're holding yourself back because you don't feel prepared...ignore that voice in your head and start.

No one is ever 100% ready before they begin something. You will never have all the information, all the resources, all the possible angles. If you're waiting for the perfect moment, it will never happen.

Lemony Snicket quote on acting instead of wating

If I had listened to that naysaying voice in my head 4+ years ago, this blog wouldn't exist. And you, dear reader, wouldn't be here today. 

And that would be sad because the absolute best thing about blogging is connecting with people from across the world and positively impacting their lives. That's why we do this in the first place. To speak to others. To each and every one of YOU. 

Four-Year Blogiversary Giveaway

As a sincere thank you to all my new and returning readers, I'm hosting a giveaway for a prize package with some of my very favorite real food & natural living products. I use most of these either daily or weekly (ahem, I don't eat pasta every day). 

And just so you know, none of these products were given to me for free (sometimes companies give bloggers stuff to use in giveaways). I'm paying for everything 100% as my way of saying thank you to my readers and also introducing y'all to some products I'm pretty obsessed with already. 

The Prizes

1) Thieves Household Cleaner Concentrate 

This is the non-toxic cleaner made by Young Living that I use for almost every surface of my home. I mix 1-2 capfuls into a spray bottle with 32 ounces of purified water (so it doesn't make streaks on my mirrors), about 5-10 drops of tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia) essential oil, and go to town! It smells like Thieves essential oil (which is one of the ingredients), so instead of nasty toxic cleaning products (which are harmful to your lungs) your home will smell like gingerbread! 

2) Primal Pit Paste Deodorant

Have you switched to a non-toxic deodorant yet? If not, you totally should. My favorite brand, which I've been using for almost three years now, is Primal Pit Paste. Yes, I could make my own, but I love that I don't have to cause this stuff smells great & it works -- really well! 

I've made it through many a sweltering Texas day (24+ hours stink-free), and I will NEVER go back to the commercial deodorants filled with aluminum (and who knows what else) that block your pits from sweating. That's how you detox, guys! My favorite scents are lemonade, thyme & lemongrass, and lavender in the jar (not the stick). The one I'm including in the prize pack is lavender since almost everyone enjoys its relaxing, gentle scent.

3) Glass Jar with Built-In Wooden Spoon

I love keeping various sea salts on hand for cooking and finishing dishes and have been using this cute jar (see pictured above) to store the Alaskan sea salt that I bought in July while I was in Sitka, Alaska. You can use it for other herbs & spices or even small homemade gifts! I bought mine locally, but you can find several similar ones online.

4) Zum Goat's Milk Soap

This is the only bar soap I've ever used in the shower that hasn't dried out my skin. Every "scent" I've tried has smelled amazing (lemongrass is my favorite) and the company (Indigo Wild) is located in Kansas City, so I'm happy to support a small business from my hometown. 

5) Sacred Mountain Essential Oil Blend 

If you haven't noticed, I'm obsessed with essential oils, specifically those from Young Living. I use them in a variety of ways to support my body and mind. I've discussed them a bit in my DIY posts but mostly keep my essential oil talk to my Facebook group so as not to overwhelm all my foodie readers who aren't on the bandwagon yet. I'll be here waiting when you are! ;) 

So, I have my favorite single oils and blends, but one of my current go-to essential oils blends that I adore is Sacred Mountain. It helped me tremendously when I was dealing with stress and occasional anxiety. It has spruce, ylang ylang, Idaho balsam fir, and cedarwood essential oils, which are all grounding and comforting smells. 

6) Chamomile with Lavender + Nighty Night Herbal Teas

Drinking 1-2 cups of hot tea with relaxing herbs has been my nightly ritual for almost a year and these two are my absolute favorites as of late. I love this brand in particular because their teas have no "natural flavors" (which could mean anything) and almost all of their stuff is organic. The chamomile + lavender combo is sooooo relaxing & calming (I love to take a big whiff of the tea bag after squeezing it out), but the nighty night blend is even better. 

This one contains a blend of herbs (including chamomile), but the main ingredient is passionflower, which has some mild sedative properties so it'll help lull you to sleep in no time! If you're looking for an easy habit to add to your daily self-care routine, definitely give these a try. (Note: I usually do 2 bags per mug of tea so it's not too weak.)

7) Organic Einkorn Wheat Spaghetti

Ever since I discovered einkorn wheat products (and the flour itself), I've been one happy camper. While I don't have any gluten sensitivities (as far as I know - I've never been tested), foods with lots of flour like pasta tend to send me into a carb coma afterward. However, einkorn wheat doesn't affect me like that. I'll still feel full after a big meal, but not like I need to unbutton my pants and pass out. Know what I mean? Because of this, I fix spaghetti and other types of pasta more often, which is awesome when I'm looking for an easy meal that uses up leftovers in my fridge. :)

8) 100% Grass-Fed Hydrolyzed Collagen (Collagen Peptides) Powder

This past winter I switched from using protein powder in my smoothies to high-quality hydrolyzed collagen powder from 100% grass-fed cows. It's is a clean & tasteless source of protein (10 grams per tablespoon) for your body that also reaps the same benefits of gelatin (my grandma's "secret" to beautiful skin & nails). And unlike gelatin powder, you can use collagen powder in both cold and hot foods (it dissolves instantly). Because of this, I've been adding it daily to my bulletproof coffee, yogurt, and smoothies

(Bonus: If you want to order my favorite collagen that I linked to above instead of waiting for the giveaway, I have a coupon code just for my readers! Enter RISING10 at checkout for 10% off your total.)

9) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

I read this short book on decluttering last January and it totally changed my life for the better. It helped me get rid of so many things I'd been holding on to for emotional reasons or because I was attached to "stuff". Truth be told, I'm much happier with fewer things that actually bring me joy or provide a specific (immediate) use, and although keeping it that way is always a work in progress, this book gave me the tools to sort through everything effectively without abandoning the process halfway through. You can read my full review of the book here

Real Food & Natural Living Prize Pack: Enter Here

Use the rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway and unlock more options to increase your chances! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Basic Giveaway Rules (See Rafflecopter Widget For Full Details)
  • Because of crazy international shipping costs, this giveaway is only open to my U.S. and Canadian readers! 
  • All entrants must be 18 or older to enter
  • You may use one account to enter the giveaway (ex: if you have two twitter accounts, you can't use them both)
  • If the winner doesn't respond to my email within 48 hours, I will pick someone else.
  • I will ship out the prize with tracking info so the winner can follow its progress; however, I am not responsible for anything lost in the mail.

GOOD LUCK! And if you have any questions, please leave a comment below or email me at elainanewton [at] therisingspoon [dot] com.

Wow, I can't believe my blog is already 4 years old already! To celebrate, I'm giving away a real food & natural living prize pack with some of my favorite products to one lucky reader. The sweepstakes end October 11th, so hop on over to enter!

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