All posts by Holly VanWert

Holly is an intersectional feminist, cat enthusiast, gamer, and stress baker living in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She is a longtime blogger, sporadic poet, and the founder and editor of Woman Tribune.

Saving on Energy Costs this Winter — Direct Energy Savings

When my husband and I were in the process of buying our home, one of the first questions we asked the sellers was what their average annual energy costs were. If you are currently going through this process or will be in the future, don’t be afraid to ask this question, as well as for any documented proof they can provide of utility bills they can give you for the past year. You have every right to know what you can expect to pay to keep your home running smoothly.

Living in Northeastern Pennsylvania, we knew that it would be our energy costs that would be one of our largest monthly investments. Not only do we experience several months of freezing temperatures and seemingly endless snow, me and my husband also both work from home and are almost constantly yolked to one device or another, making for very little energy downtime.

If your electricity costs skyrocket during the winter, here are 3 tips anyone can implement to save big on energy costs, including Direct Energy savings for choice areas in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

1. Turn the Thermostat Down

45 degrees in the spring and 45 degrees in the winter feel like two entirely different temperatures. One feels like rebirth and excitement to finally get outside and feel the warm breeze on your skin, while the other feels like hibernation and sadness.

end of autumn beginning of spring meme

If you’re the type of person who cranks the heat as soon as you feel the slightest nip in the air, stop. That chill in your bones is an illusion and you’re wasting money trying to quell its lies. By keeping your thermostat set to 65 degrees during the day, you can save a considerable amount of money while still being comfortable. It’s unrealistic to think that you should feel great lounging around at home in just a tank top when it’s 5 degrees outside. Break out your favorite sweaters and sweatshirts and say hello to big energy savings. During the nighttime, set your thermostat a few degrees cooler. The savings will add up over time and there’s no point in heating your home to 65 degrees while you’re tucked away in your warm and cozy bed.

Your thermostat isn’t the only energy-wasting culprit in your home. Most people have their water heaters set way too high; this is especially true if you have a dishwasher. Ditch your dishwasher manufacturer’s recommendations and lower your water heater to 120 degrees. Your water will heat to a temperature satisfying to everyone in your home, and by rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher they will come out clean without needing lava-like heat to scour stuck-on food away.

2. Keep the Cold Air Out

Our home is nearly 100 years old, and while new windows were installed relatively recently, there are two older windows in our living room and kitchen that can get pretty drafty. Drafts can cost you hundreds of dollars every year in wasted energy, so it’s important to do what you can to keep your warm air inside. You are paying for it, after all. Luckily, there are some quick fixes for drafty windows that can help save you money if you can’t afford to replace them.

Once the chill of autumn strikes, use an indoor window insulator kit to seal your windows and keep that cold air out. If window insulating isn’t an ideal solution for you, say if you have five cats who claw through any barrier keeping them from being able to sit in the window (what, you don’t?) a set of thermal lined curtains are a worthy investment.

3. Choose the Right Provider

So many people choose an energy provider simply because they are the most well-known company in their area, they came at a recommendation of a friend or family member, or they have just always used them and are weary of change. However, chances are that there are multiple providers in your area, and you owe it to yourself to shop around. While multiple factors should go into your decision process, ultimately choosing one energy provider over another should come down to quality service for a fair and affordable price.

Direct Energy Savings

Direct Energy powers your home with a fixed-rate energy plan with the peace of mind that you will pay the same rate throughout your contract term. No seasonal fluctuations here, just big energy savings that will have your bank account breathing a sigh of relief. Direct Energy is also the only energy provider to be a part of Plenti that lets you enjoy rewards every month.

Direct Energy offers different savings depending on where you live. Just plug in your zip code on their website and learn about the Direct Energy savings available in your area. Here in Pennsylvania, Direct Energy has special offers for the month of January:

Save up to 16%* over MetEd’s electricity rate, and up to 12%* over Penn Power’s electricity rate. There’s more! Save up to 10%* over Penelec’s electricity rate!

You can also enjoy Direct Energy savings if you live in Ohio, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

*All savings refers to the current difference between Direct Energy’s fixed rate offer and the Utility’s current Fixed Rate for Basic Service as of January 8, 2016, and does not include any other component of the electricity bill. Utility rates are subject to change and there may be no savings following the respective official utility rate change date. Direct Energy’s fixed rates include electricity supply charges only and excludes delivery/transmission charges, taxes, and all other utility-related charges. Offer is limited and valid for new residential customers only.

Are there Direct Energy savings in your area? How else do you save on energy costs during the winter? Leave your tips in the comments!

New Year, New (Wholesome) Eats: Chicken-n-Waffles Casserole Recipe and Van’s Foods Prize Pack Giveaway #WinVansFoods [Closed]

We know and love Van’s Foods for their wholesome breakfast, lunch, and snack time options that you can feel good about. We were first introduced to Van’s back in 2014, when we had the chance to snack on their PB&J Sandwich Bars and Multigrain Chips that were instantly a snack time hit in our house. Our enthusiasm for their simply delicious products filled with whole grain goodness, as well as their commitment to non-GMO verified ingredients, has grown right along with their expanding product line, which now includes cereals, pancakes, and even pasta. They also have a variety of gluten-free offerings certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization.

Van’s is also the leader in frozen, better-for-you waffles. Whether it’s a quick, warm, nutritious breakfast, an allergy-friendly stand-in for bread, or a delicious whole-grain dessert, Van’s 8 Whole Grain Waffles, Power Grain Waffles, and Gluten-Free Waffles are ready in just 4 minutes in the toaster, and are as convenient as they are nutritious and delicious.

Van's Chicken-n-Waffles

Van’s waffles have been adapted in all kinds of recipes that can be shared again and again; even family favorites you’ve been enjoying for years, like chicken and waffles. Here’s a healthier take on this ultimate comfort food dish with a Chicken-n-Waffles Casserole made with Van’s gluten-free waffles.

Chicken-n-Waffles Casserole

Yield: 6 servings

Chicken-n-Waffles Casserole

This Chicken-n-Waffles Casserole recipe is a healthy family favorite. You can prepare the baked crispy chicken ahead of time (and keep it handy in the freezer for later if desired). The waffles are pre-cooked and the only thing you need to make is the gravy, which comes together in just a few minutes. What could be easier than that?

Ingredients

    For the Chicken:
  • Olive oil, for greasing
  • 5 cups rice cereal crumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • For the Gravy:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Silvana's All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
  • 2 cups dairy-free creamer or milk
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 9-ounce package Van's Gluten-Free Totally Original Waffles, toasted and cubed

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil and set aside.
  2. In a shallow bowl, combine the cereal crumbs, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a separate shallow bowl, beat the eggs. Coat a chicken tender with the cereal mixture, dip into the eggs, then coat again with the cereal mixture; place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and make the gravy. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until golden. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the cream and simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Season with parsley, paprika, about 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Grease an 8x8 baking dish. Toss together the chicken and waffle cubes, then pour over the gravy. Bake until bubbly and golden, about 25 minutes.

Notes

http://womantribune.com/new-year-new-wholesome-eats-chicken-waffles-casserole-recipe-vans-foods-prize-pack-giveaway/

Van's Prize Pack

If you are one of the many who have made the New Year’s resolution to begin eating more mindfully, we have teamed up with Van’s Foods to get you started on the right foot with some new wholesome eats (and a few extra goodies.)

One lucky winner will receive a $100 Visa gift card, Van’s tote and water bottle, and $25 in coupons for free Van’s Foods products of your choice. This giveaway ends January 13, 2016 at 2:00PM CST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No incentive was provided for this publication. Woman Tribune is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

6 Incredible Bathrooms You’ll Be Lusting After

The bathroom can be one of the trickiest rooms of your home to design and decorate. You want to maximize its functionality, but you also want it to look good. If you struggle to create a welcoming and relaxing environment in your bathroom, we have some incredible bathroom inspiration that will have you planning a makeover of your own.

white bathroom
The Refeathered Roost

High on most every woman’s ultimate bathroom wishlist is a tub that allows the water to cover both her knees and breasts at the same time. This all white Hampstons-style bathroom exudes spa-like luxury with a deep claw foot soaking tub that has been updated with chrome feet. And when you want to get your day started right, a separate glass shower lets you get in and out and on your way.

contemporary bathroom
Houzz

This contemporary shower proves the ultimate relaxation doesn’t have to happen in the bath. The ultra spacious glass shower features a rain shower head, plus a separate handheld shower head and even a seat. This bathroom really kicks the idea of what we think a shower should be into overdrive.

modern farmhouse bathroom
Jenna Sue Design

Forget “shabby chic” and say hello to “modern farmhouse.” We are in love with the rustic design of this bathroom, and it’s a great example of how to transform an unassuming piece like a buffet table into a highend bathroom vanity.

bathroom color combinations
BHG.com

This bathroom strikes the ever-so-delicate balance between masculine and feminine design. The vanity also showcases another wonderful way to repurpose items. The pop of color on the outside of the claw foot tub really makes this space stand out.

green bathroom
MessageNote

And if you really want to experiment with color in your bath or powder room, this hunter green and dark wood combination is full of personality.

modern bathroom
desire to inspire

Using tile that is commonly utilized for just the backsplash over your entire space may seem risky at first, but here’s a perfect example of it working. This ultra modern bathroom comes together with a dark brown vanity, black accents, and a full glass stand shower.

When planning your bathroom makeover, keep in mind that it is possible to renovate any size space to meet your needs and showcase your personal style. Even if you don’t have room for a grand soaking tub, a glass shower matches any color scheme you can come up with and will fit seamlessly into any design style. You can find the perfect glass shower with glass shower screens from Sydney supplier.

INFOGRAPHIC: A Look at Children Raised in the LGBT Community

The way we think about the typical American family has changed considerably over recent years. There are more older first-time parents now, as more people are choosing to wait until later in life to start a family due to career goals or financial strain, or a combination of both. There are also more blended families and stepparents who are playing an active role in the raising of children. But it was the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage earlier this year that not only legitimized countless families across the country, but also opened new pathways for LGBT people and couples so that more families can be formed.

There are some people who believe — and dedicate ample time, energy, and resources in attempts to convince other people to believe — that children raised in the LGBT community are somehow at a disadvantage compared to their peers raised by heterosexual parents. However, there is now ample evidence proving those allegations to be wholly inaccurate.

The infographic below busts some of the most common myths about children raised in the LGBT community.

Equal in Every Way
Presented By Growing Generations

It’s true that children of LGBT parents face unique challenges throughout their lives, but those challenges are not forced upon them by their parents. Furthermore, there are many factors that can make someone a less-than-ideal parent, but their sexual orientation or gender identity is not one of them.

Organize and Protect Your E-Life with the WD My Cloud Mirror #KEEPITCOMING

We’ve all been there before — we’re plugging away, working, fulfilling obligations, sharing the memories we’ve captured and cataloging the others away. It’s all very business as usual until suddenly, it isn’t. The computer crashes. Nothing was backed up. Everything is gone. I have been there a few times myself (because evidently it takes something happening more than once to teach me a lesson) and each time was devastating.

I have led an active e-life since I was a teenager, and I have been a blogger since before The Powers That Be came up with the term “blogger.” I have created, written, and managed numerous blogs, forums, and websites — Woman Tribune alone since 2008. That’s a long time, ripe with opportunity to lose a lot of important files, pictures, and data — and I did. Now, things are different, and the task of backing up your files has been completely revolutionized.

Do you remember when backing up your files meant dragging them over to a floppy disk for safe keeping? If only we knew back then that the future would bring us stylish 6-inch-tall white boxes capable of storing our entire e-life in just a few clicks. I’m talking about the WD My Cloud Mirror — a personal cloud with a built-in backup plan.

My Cloud Mirror

We all know and have come to rely on “the cloud.” We also have come to know its flaws and the security breaches that can come with utilizing it. What makes the My Cloud Mirror different is that it is your own personal cloud storage safely located in your own home.

The My Cloud Mirror comes with everything you need to start storing files in about five minutes. Plug it into your router and a power outlet, then head over to the website and follow the instructions for setting up and you’re done.

Whether you need to free up space on your phone, tablet, or computer, or just make sure everything on all of your devices is safe and sound should anything happen, the My Cloud Mirror can store all of your important files and memories away for safe keeping. Because it has a dual drive, not only do your important files get stored onto the drive, but everything is also copied onto a secondary backup for twice the protection. Hello, peace of mind!

My husband is a musician, and to keep his music files (which are ridiculously large) safe, he has taken to accumulating way too many hard drives. Talk about a headache when trying to find the right music file! With the My Cloud Mirror’s 4 terabytes of space, he can KEEPITCOMING™. What I love most about this personal cloud is that you can access your files from anywhere there’s an internet connection, so if you’re out of town and need a file on your computer back at home, if you’ve synced it up with your My Cloud Mirror, you can retrieve that file instantly. How cool is that?!

The My Cloud Mirror is available in 4 TB, 6 TB, and 8 TB, and comes with a 2-year limited warranty. It is compatible with Windows® 10, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 or Windows Vista®, Mac OS® X El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks™, Mountain Lion™, Lion™, as well as DLNA®/UPnP® enabled devices.

My Cloud Mirror

Forget the public cloud! Be in control of your own data with the WD My Cloud Mirror, and get anywhere access to your important content stored safely at home.

Thank a Veteran in Your Life with a Great Clips Haircut

Now that Halloween has passed, there’s almost no time to catch our collective breath as we gear up for the string of holidays that will soon be upon us. In addition to giving thanks, as well as the birthday festivities that open and close this month in my family for myself and my grandmother, November also gives us the prime opportunity to acknowledge, appreciate, and celebrate the veterans in our lives and communities with Veterans Day on November 11.

I have written about my family’s history of military service here before, and about the tremendous impact my aunt’s 26 years of service had on me as I grew up.

Aunt Jenn military awards

Witnessing my aunt’s accomplishments in the military over the years taught me to be strong and determined, to never back down from what I know is right, but also to remember to take care of myself.

If anyone has given me a thorough lesson on the importance of pampering in a woman’s life, it is my aunt. Every year for my birthday and Christmas, she packs up a great, big basket full of bath and body products, no doubt delightfully enabling my shameless addiction for all things smelly. It is because of these baskets that I cannot remember the last time when I didn’t have my pick of bubble bath, body wash, and bath fizzes when all I wanted in the world was to relax in a hot bath.

Another great way to pamper yourself is with a haircut. Whether you get your hair cut regularly to maintain a certain length or style, or let your hair grow for years and then go in to get several inches cut off at once, a great haircut can significantly improve how you feel about yourself, no matter who you are. So why not pass on that feeling of new-found confidence to a veteran or military serviceperson in your life?

For the third year in a row, Great Clips is thanking veterans and active military members for their service with the gift of a free haircut — and you can help!

Thank a Veteran with Great Clips

Active or retired military members get free haircuts or a free haircut card on November 11, and any customer who gets a haircut at Great Clips on November 11 receives a free haircut card to give to a veteran.

*Only veterans and active members of the military are eligible to redeem the free haircut card. Family members of said military members do not qualify.

Great Clips is the only major salon brand that offers customers a way to thank veterans in their lives. With more than 3,800 salons throughout the United States and Canada, they are the world’s largest salon brand and employ nearly 35,000 stylists. Great Clips is dedicated to improving the communities in which they operate, with a focus on philanthropic and volunteer activities.

Find your local Great Clips and make a haircut appointment for Veterans Day, November 11.

Do you have a veteran or active military member in your life whom you would give the free Great Clips haircut card to?

Creepy, Crawly, Crazy-Cool Halloween Party Inspiration

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with MODE.

Of all the holidays, events, and special occasions we throw parties for, Halloween has got to be one of the most fun. There are so many spooky themes, characters, and ideas you can run with!

Whether you like blood and guts, eerie elegance, or cutesy gore for the kids, you’ll find it all in the story slideshow below — edible eyeballs, sweet spiders, oozing brains, cackling witches and their many concoctions, and more. Check out the story slideshow below for all of the Halloween party inspiration you will need.

Note: If you are running an ad blocker, you will need to disable it to see the slideshow.

Check out Creepy, Crawly, Crazy-Cool Halloween Parties

by Jillian Tohber Leslie at Mode

Feel Comfy and Confident with U by Kotex Lightdays Liners

One of my very best friends and I have an ongoing conversation about how much our bodies obviously hate us, as evidenced by the constant slew of shenanigans that pop up out of seemingly nowhere. While many things in a woman’s body begin to shift, change, wreak havoc, and fall apart on us as we get older, my most frequently complained about ailment still centers mostly around my menstrual cycle, and the many cruel jokes it plays on me. It’s a shame we don’t share the same sense of humor.

When it comes to that time of the month, I am a hot mess. I am irritable and cranky, while simultaneously emotionally needy; I’m just an uncomfortable cluster of contradictions. What surely doesn’t help matters — and the source for most of my menstruation-related stress — is that its timing has only become more erratic as I have gotten older and my body has continued to change. Naturally, this has made me more accident prone, which is frustrating, to say the least. In addition to making sure I am always, always packing extra pads and tampons with me wherever I go, especially if it is within the week leading up to my monthly visitor, I have also taken to using liners — a great little back-up plan to protect against surprises, leaks, and uncomfortable situations.

U by Kotex Lightdays Liners

U by Kotex offers a full line of feminine care products for periods including pads, liners, and tampons. Outstanding protection that keeps you one step ahead.

U by Kotex Curves Liners:
Get serious protection that’s perfect for lighter flow days and help protect your undies from unexpected surprises and last-minute spotting!

  • Bright bold colors and designs feel fun
  • Clean and comfy
  • Fits your undies, fits you
  • Cool patterns and colors help you escape boring period protection

U by Kotex Lightdays Liners:
Whether you need backup support or just want to feel fresh, these liners have you covered. Stay-in-place protection helps keep your liner comfortable and secure.

  • Ideal for light flow and tampon backup
  • Breathable cover with a soft and silky touch
  • Comfortably flexes with your body

U by Kotex Lightdays Liners

U by Kotex #BringComfyBack Contest

Lost that undie feeling? Get it back with U by Kotex liners — so comfy, they feel just like your undies.

To help spread the word (and love) about U by Kotex liners, they are kicking off the #BringComfyBack Contest!

U by Kotex #BringComfyBack Contest

Visit BringComfyBack.com and upload your creative pic or gif showcasing your best uncomfy face. Each month one lucky winner (judged based on originality, style, and LOL factor) will receive a $200 Urban Outfitters gift card, Go Pro Hero 3 white camera, $100 Sephora gift card, and U by Kotex products. The most creative “uncomfy” selfie will be awarded the grand prize — a trip to L.A. with a girlfriend, an exclusive U by Kotex photo shoot as their new social star, and $2,000 spending cash.

Want to try U by Kotex liners? Click here to snag a $1 off coupon!

Fix the World, Girls: Nonprofits Founded by Women

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with MODE.

All around the world, there is hardship and suffering. There are moments of injustice and discrimination; countries at war are being ripped apart from the inside-out by greed and corruption; more and more families are trying to make ends meet under the poverty line. When you think about the human condition today, it is far too easy to get discouraged or for your outlook on the future to turn bleak. Sometimes we need a reminder of all the good that is being done here and around the world.

In times of change, conflict, and crisis, the women who founded the nonprofits we’ve rounded up below didn’t just wish for things to be different — they worked to create lasting change that is actively enriching and saving lives. Check out the slideshow below to learn how black and brown dolls are revolutionizing the way young girls of color see themselves, how survivors of human rights abuses are earning a living wage and uplifting their communities, what is being done to inspire more women to run for political office, and more.

Note: If you are running an ad blocker, you will need to disable it to see the slideshow.

Check out Fix the World, Girls: Nonprofits Founded by Women

by Woman Tribune at Mode

The Privilege of Back to School Season and Girls’ Education

All this week and last, kids have been steadily making their way back to school for another year of learning and growing as individuals. In our neck of the woods, the last of the summer stragglers will return to the classroom after Labor Day, thus completing this year’s transition from the lazy days of summer to early mornings, books, and homework.

When I was a kid, I anticipated going back to school. First day of school pictures captured my gap-toothed grin that couldn’t possibly get any wider as my hands clutched onto a brand new backpack and lunchbox. I liked going to school, and I liked learning new things. As I got older, my love for the school establishment diminished, but my hunger for knowledge stayed very much the same.

Whether I anticipated or dreaded heading back to school, one thing is abundantly clear as I look back on my school career now — I was lucky. I was lucky to have the opportunity to experience back to school season every year; to attend a school within walking distance of my home; to learn from wise teachers who took the responsibility of my impressionable brain seriously.

Many girls around the world are not as lucky as I have been. Today, there are an estimated 31 million primary-school-age girls who face daunting barriers that keep them from attending school and receiving an education. Though hungry to learn, these young girls face gender discrimination, the burden of being responsible for household chores, lack of access to transportation to get to the nearest school, or are forced to marry way too soon.

The state of girls’ education in the developing world is both shocking and humbling:

  • Keeping girls out of school sentences them to a life of poverty and poor health
  • Women earn 10-20% more for every year of school completed
  • Children of educated mothers are 2x as likely to go to school
  • Children born to literate moms are 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5
Laxmi Udaan Girls School
Josh Estey/CARE

CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty with a commitment to empowering women and girls, is working to remove the barriers to education that are keeping millions of girls who are hungry to learn away from school. One of the ways in which they are succeeding is at the CARE-supported Udaan residential school in Hardoi, India, where girls like Laxmi Pal aren’t only creating art, but also history.

12-year-old Laxmi grew up believing that she did not belong in school. Instead, her days were filled with housework and looking after her younger siblings while her mother was away cleaning houses and her father struggled to find seasonal work on farms. In her rural farming village, girls typically marry and move out of their family’s home at 14. Laxmi became the only member of her immediate family to ever go to school when she began attending Udaan. Their program is giving adolescent girls who had either never been enrolled in school or were forced to drop out a second chance to learn through an accelerated bridge course. After, Laxmi and girls like her can be mainstreamed into a government school to continue their education.

Invest in a Girl’s Future

Education is an investment that pays off now and for generations to come. You can help CARE’s mission to eliminate barriers to education for millions of girls by purchasing a Gift of Lasting Change. Browse CARE’s catalog of back to school gifts to support their work in promoting girls’ education.

Some of the gifts you can give are:

  • $10 cash donation
  • School uniforms for 2 girls ($38)
  • 2 pairs of school shoes ($30)
  • Backpack and school starter kit ($26.10)
  • 3 feminine hygiene kits for teen girls ($30)
CARE girls education
CARE

This back to school season, help make a difference in the lives of girls around the world with CARE.

Top photo: Josh Estey/CARE