A Big Announcement!

Dear Friends and Readers,

I cannot even begin to express my appreciation to all of you who have faithfully followed me on this blog for some time. To you, I am so excited to announce my newest project (Well, one of them anyway. I have a couple more in the works that should be exciting, also!)! It’s one that’s been on my heart for some time now, and I hope you’ll do me the honor of joining with me. 

How to Wash Produce

Don’t you just love a tip that saves you time and money… and is good for you in the process? You can’t beat that, right?! Well, that’s the sort of tip I’ve got for you today on our blog.

  • I’ll save you TIME by showing you how to wash your produce all at once (and if you only go grocery shopping once a month, it saves you even more time).
  • I’ll save you MONEY by showing you how washing your produce all at once will make it last longer and stay fresher.
  • It’s GOOD FOR YOU because washing your produce and having fresher produce means fewer pesticides entering your body and more nutrition.

It’s a win-win all around, my friend! Here’s how to wash produce in big batches to save you time and money.

Fruit Punch Ice Pops

Oh the dog days of summer! Great for lying in the shade on a sultry day and enjoying an ice pop and hoping it helps cool you down.

Just not those nasty ones that are full of food dyes, fake colors, nasty sugars, and other assorted ickyness. They’re so easy to make yourself that there’s no need to resort to such.

DIY Coffee Shop Drink: Maple Pecan Latte

I have a serious confession to make.

*Deep breath.*

Ok. Here goes.

The truth is. I’m addicted to fancy coffee shop coffee.

{insert shocked emoticon}

I know, right? The fact that it’s crazy expensive and that I would never consider spending that much money on anything else so trivial and transient does not deter me. The fact that it’s hardly good for me does not deter me. The fact that it doesn’t satisfy me as much as I think it will does not deter me. NOTHING deters me!

Crock Pot Greek Chicken

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Authentic Simplicity!

This is one of my go-to recipes (if I have such a thing… that means I’ve made it more than once!) from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, that crockpot classic, “Fix it and Forget it“. All kinds of crockpot recipes and variations for everything from roast beef to mac and cheese to cake.

How to Wash Produce

Don’t you just love a tip that saves you time and money… and is good for you in the process? You can’t beat that, right?! Well, that’s the sort of tip I’ve got for you today.

  • I’ll save you TIME by showing you how to wash your produce all at once (and if you only go grocery shopping once a month, it saves you even more time).
  • I’ll save you MONEY by showing you how washing your produce all at once will make it last longer and stay fresher.
  • It’s GOOD FOR YOU because washing your produce and having fresher produce means fewer pesticides entering your body and more nutrition.

It’s a win-win all around, my friend! Here’s how to wash produce in big batches to save you time and money.

How to Wash Your Produce (and save time and money in the process)

First of all, I want to highly recommend that you go grocery shopping once a month if you’re really interested in saving yourself significant time and money. It might sound crazy, but trust me, it’s totally doable and it works. You’ll find all the info you need to get started in my eBook, Your Grocery Budget Toolbox.

Once you’ve gone on your monthly shopping trip, you’ll have a mountain of produce that you want to last as long as possible. There are a lot of ways to do that, and many of them are discussed in the book, but one of the best ways is simply to wash all the produce before you put it away. So pile up all the produce on the counter next to the sink, and then get started!

1. Fill the sink with water and some vinegar.

You can also add a couple drops of Thieves oil for added cleaning power! You don’t need a huge amount of vinegar; I just add a few generous splashes and call it good.

Place your produce gently in the water. Be sure not to put things like apples and blackberries in at the same time, because that could be seriously bad news for the blackberries. Depending on how much produce you have, you may need to do several batches.

Let the produce sit in the water for a minute or two.

2. Rinse the produce in a colander.

Remove the produce from the sink and place in a colander. If you have a double sink, you can rinse it right away; otherwise, you might need to wait to rinse until you’ve run all the produce through the vinegar bath.

Be sure to rinse the produce very thoroughly to get off all the remaining pesticides and bacteria, as well as all the vinegar.

3. Place the produce on a towel to dry.

Set out some towels on your countertops and put the produce on the towels in a single layer to dry. I sometimes leave it on the countertops overnight, depending on the time I get started with it, but generally it will take only a couple hours.

Carefully store the produce in the appropriate spot in the fridge or pantry.

This whole process takes 10-15 minutes plus drying time and saves you a lot of money in the long run! You’ll find that your produce lasts significantly longer when you wash it this way before storing it, which means less produce dumped in the trash. And, of course, your produce will be cleaner and fresher for you when you go to eat it, which is good for your health as well.

Helping you save money on your groceries is one of my favorite things to do ever, so I’m super excited about my latest project. I’m working on updating and slightly revising the ebook I mentioned earlier, Your Grocery Budget Toolbox. It’s going to be an even better resource to help you keep your money in your pocket while purchasing the highest quality  of food possible for your family. Once the second edition of YGBT is released, I’ll be working on a spiral-bound print copy as well! And on top of all that, pretty soon after that I’ll be releasing an eCourse that personally walks you through the process of saving money on your groceries. I’m not a squee-in’ kinda girl normally, but I’m so excited about what I’ve got in store for you that I’m about to do just that! So make sure you sign up for email updates so you know when all of this brand new awesomeness is released. Here’s to healthy food… and more money in your pocket!

How to Win Your Child’s Heart

How to Win Your Child’s Heart –

Image(s) courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

You hear a lot in various circles these days about the importance of “winning your child’s heart” … but what does that mean exactly? And more importantly, is it even a Biblical concept?

I’ve been contemplating both of those questions for a little while now, and I’ve arrived at some satisfactory conclusions for myself. (I’ve also realized how terrible I have been in this department!)

I’ll start with my thoughts on the latter question:

Is “winning your child’s heart” a Biblical concept?

Well, certainly the Bible does not command us to do as such, at least not in the way it commands us to discipline, train, and teach our children. I haven’t found a verse yet that says, “Go win your child’s heart!” But here are some verses and Biblical principles for your consideration:

  • Obedience springs from a heart of love. John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
  • God instructs children to give their hearts to their parents. Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.
  • Our Heavenly Father pursues us. I John 4:9 We love Him because He first loved us.
  • Parents are to engage with their children in a loving manner. Matthew 18:5, 6 “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”and Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
  • Jesus rebuked the disciples for disregarding children, and made a point of reaching out to them. Matthew 19:13, 14 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

    How to Win Your Child’s Heart

    I think it’s safe to say that it’s a Biblical concept, so now what about the question of how exactly to go about it? I’m embarrassed to admit this one has stumped me for some time. The best I could come up with until recently was that I needed to spend more time with my children. Relationships are built on time, right? But that didn’t seem to be cutting it for my love-hungry Certain Little Someone, and I could sense a building anger and frustration in his heart that worried me. We could spend the whole day together doing all kinds of fun things, but it was like his love tank still wasn’t quite full.

    As I pondered the problem, I lightbulb went on in my (admittedly dim-witted!) head: “Winning someone’s heart” is exactly what goes on in a courtship! Now, clearly, at some point this analogy totally breaks down, but there are a lot of similarities that are applicable to the parent-child relationship.

I mean, think about it. Exactly what happens when a young man has an eye on a girl and sets out to woo her? As I imagined a courting couple, I began to develop a clear picture of what it would look like to win my child’s heart (minus the googly eyes and raging hormones):

  • I must spend time with him. This is where it all starts. Time – copious amounts of time – spent together, doing whatever. What’s being done doesn’t matter so much as the actual fact of spending time together. Typically, a couple falling in love can’t wait until the next time they get to see each other or talk on the phone because they just love spending as much time as possible with that person.
  • Time together is a good starting point, but it’s not enough: What’s even more important is the interaction that takes place during the time spent together. For one thing, a courting couple will generally participate in activities they don’t necessarily enjoy simply for the sake of spending time with the other person. This means, I must sometimes play games and other activities I do not enjoy simply because my son enjoys them and I want to spend time with him. This is hard for me because I’m a girly-girl and both my boys are ALL. BOY. Playing outside is something I just do not love to do – never have – and yet, I must do it if I want to win their heart. My Certain Little Someone, in particular, absolutely loves the challenge of trying to hit a baseball with his big foam bat and literally could spend HOURS practicing this skill. I have never ever enjoyed baseball in any form, and it’s sheer torture for me to throw him the ball over and over and over and over… and over … and over again! (It’s probably also sheer torture for him to try to hit my wild throws, poor guy!) But I’m learning that this is something very important to him that I need to do – with a good attitude – whenever I can, just to show him that I love him.
  • I must speak kindly, gently, and respectfully to him. A fledgling courtship will break up pretty quickly if harsh words are exchanged! And yet, harsh words escape my mouth so often when speaking to both of my sons. Harsh words and harsh tones build walls and drive wedges between people; they don’t win hearts and they don’t build relationships, and they certainly don’t win a child’s heart! I find my boys respond to me so much better when my words are spoken in kind tones. And when they are misbehaving and require correction, I still must guard my tongue and my tone of voice and make sure my words are respectful and loving even as I discipline them in one way or another.
  • I must praise his success… and his effort! Flattery will get you nowhere, but well-worded sincere praise can secure a heart better than anything else. Just think of how a courting couple compliments each other on just about everything. I have never seen a child who didn’t blossom when praised, and it’s common knowledge that the more you praise a little one, the harder they try to please you and earn that praise. Whether they experience success in behavior, academics, sports, or some other endeavor, I need to pay attention to it, notice it, and praise them for it. And even if they don’t succeed, if they tried their best, I want to notice and praise that, too.
  • I must see his potential. One of the quickest ways to a person’s heart (besides food, of course) is to notice not so much what they are but what they can be. See the person hidden deep inside (sometimes pretty deep) and seek to draw it out by making the other person aware of it. This is particularly an area I need to improve in with my children! I’m oh-so-quick to see their faults and failings that I overlook their potential to be more. I don’t want to tromple on their potential; I want to bring it out!
  • I could go on, but I think you get the general idea! What it comes down to is this: a courting couple is generally on their best behavior, treating the other person in the best way they can in a concerted effort to win their heart. Parents can do the same thing for their children, but it’s a lot harder because it has to be balanced with the need to train and disciple them. It’s also a lot harder because in the parent-child relationship the heart-winning is usually one-sided; whereas in a courtship, as long as there’s mutual interest, both parties have their best foot forward.

    And clearly, the analogy falls all to pieces at some point, because in a courtship there’s that added element we’ll call “romance”. Obviously, that doesn’t come into play here!

    But I’m taking a cue from the lovelorn and making a concerted effort this Valentine’s Day (and all year long) to win my child’s heart so that they will more willingly accept my instruction and discipline.

    What steps do you take to ensure you win your child’s heart? 

    Advertise

    What is Authentic Simplicity?

    Anne Simpson, the author and editor of Authentic Simplicity, has been blogging actively since 2009. She has been featured in national publications such as All You (Dec 2011) and For Women First (Jan 2013). She has also been a guest on the radio show Inside Out with Martha Manikas-Foster on Family Life Radio.

    Anne Simpson is also the author of the eBook entitled, “Your Grocery Budget Toolbox“, available for $7.99 on PDF, Kindle and Nook. It is currently #8 in Amazon’s Cooking, Food & Wine Reference category, and has received  a rating of 4.5 stars. Your Grocery Budget Toolbox has been featured on many blogs, including Money Saving Mom, The Humbled Homemaker , Healthy Kitchen Guide, and many more.

    Anne Simpson was also a regular contributor at Homemaker’s Challenge in 2012. She has guest posted on many blogs, including:

    • Money Saving Mom
    • Stacy Makes Cents
    • Good Cheap Eats

    Authentic Simplicity was originally called “Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy”, focusing mainly on healthy foods that didn’t waste money, time or energy in preparation. As Authentic Simplicity, the blog continues to focus on simplicity and frugality, but with a broadened scope that includes household and family matters.

    Who is Our Audience?

    Authentic Simplicity is a lifestyle blog with a focus on simple, natural, and grace-filled homemaking. Topics include real food, frugality, health, housekeeping, with occasional forays into the realm of craftiness and decor. The majority of readers are women in their twenties and thirties, most of which live in the United States.

    Current Stats (Winter 2013)

    Monthly Traffic – 28,000 pageviews

    Facebook Following – 3,650

    Twitter Following – 850

    Pinterest Following – 2250

    Google Page Rank – 3

    What Others Are Saying

    We worked with Authentic Simplicity to promote our product and our new blog. She was not only able to bring us quite a bit of web traffic to our blog but she also helped us boost our social media influence/following, and the majority of those new followers still follow us today. Thank you Authentic Simplicity for making our relationship well worth our investment.

    –Brent with GrainMillWagon.com

    Anne is a joy to work with! She consistently posts quality content, which makes her readers trust her opinion. Not only did she do a great job with my advertising campaign, she gained a new loyal reader in me!

    -Anjanette,  Lilla Rose Independent Consultant

    Available Opportunities

    Facebook and Twitter Shout-Outs – $2ea. or 3 for $5

    Limit of 3 per person/company. 20 spots available. In my experience, Facebook links boast the highest rate of click-throughs, so this is a GREAT deal, considering I have a potential reach of almost 9,000 on Facebook alone (according to FB stats).

    Post Footer Link – $5 for 1 Week

    4 available. This would appear at the bottom of each new post written during the span of 1 week. Many people see this as they scroll down to read the comments.

    Greet Box Message – $10 for 1 Week

    4 available. The Greet Box Message is what visitors see at the top of each post, right under the title. It has the distinct advantage of being above-the-fold.

    Ad Space 125×125 – $10 for 30 Days

    3 spots available, above-the-fold not guaranteed. Catch the eye of my readers as they browse through the site.

    Above-the-Fold Ad Space 250×300 – $20 for 30 Days

    1 spot available. Anyone who visits the blog – even for 20 seconds or less – will see this prominently placed ad.

    RSS Footer Link – $20 for 30 Days

    1 spot available. The RSS Footer link appears at the bottom of every post read via email subscription or RSS reader.

    Sponsored Post – $30 for 1 Post

    1 spot available. An individual post dedicated to your product or company often garners more attention than all the other options combined, plus it comes with at least one free Facebook and Twitter shout-out. Sponsored posts are written by me, with consideration given to the content and links you desire. Guest sponsored posts are also an option, upon approval (i.e., I will not post a guest post unless it meets my criteria for content and quality.).

    Custom Packages

    I am happy to create custom packages composed of these and other elements on a price agreeable to both parties.

    Please contact me for if you are interested in pursuing any of these options. I look forward to hearing from you!

    About Me

    I’m just a simple girl who longs for an uncomplicated life.

    Wife to one amazing man,

    Mother to two rambunctious boys,

    One of eleven children,

    Daughter of the King,

    Happily defined and shaped by these.

    By God’s grace and for His glory, I live, love, serve, and write.

    Still curious? 
    Ten Random Facts About Me
    Ten Things My Relevant Roomie Should Know About Me

    Better than the Box – Chocolate Pudding

    This post was originally published in 2009 on Authentic Publicity.

    One of my main goals on this blog is to prove to anyone who doesn’t believe me that cooking healthy foods from scratch is neither difficult nor time-consuming. Too many people think that cooking is either a great mystery they could never solve, or so time-consuming they would always be stuck in the kitchen. Instead, they rely on boxes (or bags or jars, or packages, you get the idea) that are quick and easy, but expensive and chock-full of unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients.

    There’s a better way!

    About Authentic Simplicity

    Some things in life are worth the complications. Others? Not so much. 

    It’s my aim in life (OK, one of them) to balance authenticity (keepin’ it real) and simplicity (keepin’ it simple). Kind of like my wedding ring: it’s authentic, because who would want a fake? But it’s simple, because gaudy is just not me.

    Alas, not everything in life is serendipitously and simultaneously authentic and simple like my wedding ring. If it were, then wedding rings would not be quite so precious, would they? Sometimes one must sacrifice authenticity for simplicity, and vice versa.

    Join me, then, on my journey to find the elusive union of authentic and simple, the place where “real” and “easy” join hands and work together to achieve admirable results. And follow along as I discover when to replace the one with the other for the sake of my own sanity and my love for those around me.

    In other words, Let’s keep it real. And let’s keep it simple. 

    ~At Home~

    • Beauty – on the dining room table, in the living room, adorning your self… beauty should be everywhere. But it shouldn’t take forever, require special skills, or cost a fortune.
    • Children – they don’t need a lot of toys and games, or even elaborately planned activities and lunchboxes. They just need guidance and love. And a kickin’ awesome birthday cake.
    • Garden – even black thumbs can grow a pot of herbs, especially mint. This is what I have learned.
    • Handmade – craftiness is closer than you think, and makes a lovely gift.
    • Health – a complication in life that I am on a never-ending quest to simplify. No doctor’s degree, just mostly common sense and knowledge gained.
    • Household – keeping it clean and organized is a big job, but there’s no reason to complicate it.

    ~In the Budget~

    • Save Much – a penny saved is a penny earned. And pennies add up.
    • Spend Wisely – spend those pennies wisely; never spend more than necessary, and only buy what is useful. And occasionally, what is beautiful.
    • Waste Not – repurpose, reduce, reuse, recycle  upcycle, use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. Whatever you do, don’t waste it.

    ~On My Mind~

    • Ideas – occasionally, I have good ones.
    • Knowledge – is power. But power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So I share my knowledge to share the power.
    • Rants – wherein I step up on my soapbox. Delete as you feel the need.
    • Reflections – moments to remember, occasions to memorialize, thoughts to ponder, faith to cherish.

    ~On the Table~

    • Basics – gotta start somewhere.
    • Beverages – mostly coffee.
    • Bread – by which you cannot live alone, so don’t even try. Except maybe my mom’s sticky buns. I might be able to live on those.
    • Breakfast – the best start to your day.
    • Celebrations – every day is a celebration, but some are more memorable than others.
    • Dessert – appropriately, it comes before dinner in the alphabet.
    • Dinner – but you still have to eat your dinner.
    • Lunch – the daily pit stop.
    • Sides – to go with dinner, of course.
    • Snacks – to keep you going.

    Popular Posts

    No Butter? No Eggs? You Can Still Make Cookies!
    How to Make the Most of Your Grocery Budget Dollars
    How to Get Canning Supplies for Cheap or Free
    A Little More Mexican: Pork Carnitas
    Fight the Flu With Pumpkin Soup

    PS. Looking for Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy? You found it! This is the new-and-improved version.

    Top 3 Classics Everyone Should Read

    Note: This post contains links to books available at great prices on ThriftBooks and Amazon. Thanks for supporting Authentic Simplicity!

    Because previous generations were considerably more verbose and eloquent than our own, classic literature can sometimes be difficult to slog through. Besides which, some of you can probably recall tortured hours spent forcing ourselves through required reading for high school American and British literature classes, and the resulting horror left by the trauma is enough to cause you to swear off classics forever.

    5 Super Bowl Menu Ideas

    Here’s the funny thing: I hate football, and I haven’t been to a Super Bowl party in years. But I have a whole bunch of Super Bowl idea posts on my blog… wonder what a psychologist would make of that, hmmm?!

    Now if someone were to invite me to a Super Bowl party, I would be happy to attend because a party means food, and when food is involved… count me in! Especially if your Super Bowl party features any of the following menu items:

    1. Homemade Chips & Dip

    Uh huh. I’m serious! I know, it’s way easier to buy a bag of chips and a jar of dip. But making your own chips and dip is way cooler, plus also way healthier.Double win!

    2. Parmesan Crisps

    OK, so I admit that making your own chips and dip can be a little bit labor-intensive and time-consuming, but Parmesan Crisps are a different story altogether: super easy and pretty fast! Oh, and amazingly delicious. You won’t be able to eat just one, and I’m not kidding.

    3. Football Cake

    This simply decorated football cake won’t take you anymore time than any other homemade dessert, but there’s no dessert more appropriate. Touchdown!

    4. BBQ Chicken Dip

    Think of the famous Buffalo Chicken Dip, minus the hot sauce, plus some BBQ sauce, and you have BBQ Chicken Dip. It’s total yum; ya gotta try it!

    5. Toasted Chickpeas

    Chances are, if you’re having a party, you’re going to have some guests with food sensitivities. If anybody in your party is gluten-free or allergic to nuts, dairy, eggs, or wheat, then this is the perfect snack for them! None of the afore-mentioned ingredients, and it’s delicious to boot. Plus – bonus for you, the hostess and chef – it’s super easy to make. I bring you Toasted Chickpeas.

    May the best team win!

    Something From Nothing: Bread Crumbs from Stale Bread

    Wait! Before you throw it away, think for a second. Can you use it for something else? Frugality is not only saving your money when purchasing, it is saving your money by getting everything out of what you have already purchased. I read somewhere that the frugal person’s motto was the same as the environmentalist’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. If we all followed that motto, we’d save a lot of resources, in our homes and around the world.

    For starters, what about that stale bread? Or those end slices no one wants to eat? Whatever you do, don’t throw them away!

    Autumn Shepherd’s Pie

    So the weather outside today felt more like summer than autumn but I was still in the mood for my autumnal version of the perennial classic, Shepherd’s Pie. I had some acorn squash that I was looking forward to cooking up, and Shepherd’s Pie was the perfect use for it.

    It’s a simple meal, but both my DH and I love Shepherd’s Pie. I especially love changing it up a little, as I did tonight. Enjoy!

    Autumn Shepherd’s Pie
    1 lb of potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into chunks
    1/2 acorn squash, cooked
    3 cloves garlic, peeled
    1/2 cup plain yogurt
    1/4 cup milk
    1/2 cup shredded cheese, divided
    1 lb ground beef
    2 TBSP flour
    1 cup beef broth
    2 TBSP ketchup
    3-4 cups vegetables

    First, make the mashed potatoes. Boil the potatoes and garlic in water or broth until tender (alternatively, you can just add garlic powder later in the mashed potato mixture). Mash the potatoes together with the cooked squash, yogurt, milk and 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese.

    Brown the ground beef in a large pan. When it’s completely browned, sprinkle the flour over it and stir in. Add the broth and ketchup; mix thoroughly. Add the vegetables (note on the veggies: you can use pretty much any veggie you have on hand, but root vegetables work especially well. I used a combination of carrots and acorn squash this time around. Also, frozen veggies work best; if you use fresh, steam them a little to soften them before adding them to the ground beef.) and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.

    Pour the meat mixture into a casserole dish. Drop large spoonfuls of the mashed potato mixture over the meat mixture.

    Carefully spread the potato mixture over the meat mixture, sealing it in.

    Cook at 375 F for about 15 minutes or so, then top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and cook for 2-3 more minutes, until cheese is melted.

    This recipe is so flexible: you can get really creative with the vegetables, and the cheese too. Try it also with ground turkey or chicken for different flavors.

     

    Make Time to Read

    There was a time not so very long ago (actually, it’s pretty recent history), when I believed that reading was a luxury enjoyed by those who had more time on their hands than I did. My sisters and friends would talk about this book or that book and I’d think, “Man, I wish I had time to read!” Not that I never read – that would have been sad indeed – but I didn’t read very much. I either read in stolen moments here and there (like in the only room in the house where a person has a little privacy if you know what I mean), or I’d binge-read late into the night and regret it the next day.

    What’s in your Lunchbox? Quick and Easy Lunches

    As a teacher, I saw a LOT of lunchboxes through the years… and their contents, which occasionally amazed and astounded me. And not necessarily in a good way. To be perfectly frank and honest, the initial thought that popped into my head when observing my students’ lunchbox contents was often, “What were his/her parents thinking?!?!?!” Sometimes I came to the conclusion that they weren’t. Other students impressed me, though, with the contents of their lunchboxes, and those parents I mentally congratulated. I understand it’s difficult to provide a well-balanced, easily portable, easily eaten, well-liked, not-likely-to-be-traded lunch for a picky pupil every. single. weekday. Throw in that most parents barely have time to think about such a lunch, let alone actually create it, and one can easily understand how a child ended up with a lunchbox full of random odds and ends mostly full of sugar, bad fats, and far-from-complex carbs.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’ve already conquered the Lunchbox War, congratulations to you: Well Done! If you’ve been defeated though, or hardly begun to fight, I’ve come up with a few tips to save you Time, Effort, Money… and most importantly, your child’s HEALTH.

    Today we’ll start with Time and Effort, probably the biggest obstacles in the fight for the healthy lunchbox. Most parents know what should ideally go in the lunchbox, but many are too discouraged by the amount of time and effort it would take to make it happen. Maybe these ideas will help you surmount those obstacles and lead you to a better lunchbox this school year.

    Quick & Easy Lunches

    Create a flexible but reliable menu.

    Develop a basic framework you can use every day that will save you from having to think too much. For example, plan on variations of the following in each lunch:

    • -Main Dish (sandwich, soup, leftovers, etc.)
    • -Drink (water’s always good!)
    • -Yogurt or Cheese
    • -2 Fruits or Veggies
    • -Small Dessert or Snack

    This is a proven formula that will give them enough to eat every day, but is easily varied by including different main dishes, fruits, vegetables, and snacks.

    Adapt this formula for your own child, one that is easy for you and enjoyed by him or her. It’s easy to change up, but the basic formula stays the same so you don’t have to think too much about what goes in the lunchbox.

    Involve your child(ren).

    This is easier and saves more time than you might think, especially if you have a formula like I described above. Even a kindergartener can help out with his/her lunch if they know what goes in it. In fact, I would say that from first grade up, if mom or dad takes care of the main meal (and kids can even help with this, depending on age and what it is), the child can take care of the rest. Post a checklist on the fridge, pictorial if necessary, that clearly shows what items should go in the lunchbox every day. Place those items at an accessible level, and make it your child’s responsibility to put all those items in their lunchbox every day. If you’re not comfortable leaving it entirely up to them, all you have to do is instruct them to leave it open until you check it for accuracy. Inspect each lunchbox quickly,  correct where necessary, zip it up and off they go!

    Fill the lunchbox the night before.

    You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating. Make lunch the night before, and then your morning routine will be slightly less hectic. Every  night after dinner, when we clean up the dining room and kitchen, we make lunches for the next day. The lunches go into the fridge with all the leftovers and are ready for to grab the next morning. If you don’t have enough room to store their actual lunch boxes in the fridge overnight, place a large plastic box of some kind on one of the shelves, and put all the lunch contents in it every night. In the morning, just grab the contents and transfer them to the individual lunch boxes. This will still save plenty of coveted morning prep time.

    Corral lunchbox items in the fridge and pantry.

    This goes hand in hand with the previous tip. Collect all the yogurt cups, cheese sticks, and other refrigerated lunchbox items in one big plastic container on a shelf in the fridge, or designate one of the meat/produce drawers as “lunchbox drawer”. In the pantry, place all the shelf-stable items, such as snacks (healthy ones of course!), juice boxes, fruit cups and other lunch munchies in a designated, clearly labeled, easily accessible container.

    Invest in some inexpensive, time-saving tools, like an apple slicer or an orange peele.

    The apple slicer is an incredible invention that will allow you to slice up an apple for your child(ren) in seconds and is a lot easier than pulling out a paring knife and cutting board. It will make the apple easier for your children to eat, especially if they are younger. Apples will brown when exposed to air, so you can either dowse them in a bit of lemon juice and water or just pack them in an airtight container to reduce the browning.

    The orange peeler is especially useful for elementary-aged children as it can safely be packed with their lunch and allow them to peel their own oranges, clementines or tangerines by themselves at school. If you’re not comfortable with packing the peeler, simply use it to slice through the peel before putting the citrus in the lunchbox, so at least they have a starting point and they can peel easily from there.

    What about that main dish?

    It’s easy enough to figure out the side items: yogurt cups, cheese sticks, fresh fruit or fruit cups, etc. But what about the main dish? This is usually the biggest quandary when it comes to lunch-packing time. A little forethought and preparation goes a long way to help.

    If your child has access to a microwave, make use of it!

    Of course, not every school or classroom has the capability of reheating a child’s lunch, which is a bummer. Also, many people prefer to avoid overuse of a microwave. If that’s the case, refer to the next tip:

    Invest in a thermos or other insulated container.

    Even though both schools where I have worked had ready access to microwaves for all the student lunches, some parents still opted to use a Thermos or similar container instead. And it worked great! If the food goes in hot, it keeps its temperature long enough to be deliciously warm at lunch time. This opens up SO many time- and effort-saving options for filling up those lunchboxes. Read on to see how!

    Cook a double batch for dinner and send the leftovers for lunch.

    I do this all. the. time. In fact, we eat leftovers for lunch more often than anything else. Usually, the lunch version is simplified, in other words, doesn’t necessarily include all of the sides, sauces, etc. Also, for small children, the food needs to be easily eaten, which means some foods will have to be cut up for them in advance. Plan your dinners ahead of time, determine which ones will easily translate into lunch, and voila! Your lunch the next day is instantly ready at the same time as dinner!

    Make big batches and freeze the extra.

    Whenever you cook up basic staples like noodles and rice, cook extra and freeze the extra. You can even pour spaghetti sauce over them before freezing for an instant meal, in which case you should freeze them in individual containers. The noodles and rice can be used for dinners OR even for quick lunches when you don’t have leftovers or sandwich options available. Also, extra shredded chicken, beef and pork can be used as sandwich fillers or noodles/rice/potato toppers for delicious lunches.

    Make use of the crock pot.

    Cook Chicken Noodle Soup (this is where some pre-cooked noodles will come in handy!), Homemade Spaghetti-os (this only gives you 7 hrs max, so it’s perfect if you’re late to bed, early to rise), or Chili in the crock pot overnight and your main dish is ready  in the morning! This concept is limited only by your imagination and the contents of your fridge and pantry: cook just about anything (cooking times vary, so keep that in mind) overnight, place it in an insulated container (or re-heat at lunch) for a delicious, fresh, hot lunch!

    Always keep sandwich items available.

    This is an area where I frequently fail. The idea is to keep some kind of bread, as well as sandwich filler items (lunch meat, tuna, eggs for egg salad, etc.) available at all times, so that when lunchbox-filling-time comes and there are no leftovers or other hot food available, you still have easy options without resorting to cans or packages of processed food.

    Currently, I pretty much exclusively make sourdough bread, but one thing that has really helped in the past to have fresh bread available almost all the time is the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day method, and its companion, Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

    With this method, you can keep bread dough in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or longer in the freezer. Pull it out and bake it whenever you need fresh bread. ….

    How to Save on Grass-Fed Meat

    You know that the mass manufactured meat available here in America is horrible, what with its hormones, GMO’s, antibiotics, occasionally horrifying additives (pink slime, anyone?), and other hair-raising issues. But what’s a girl to do when that’s exactly what’s available at the local grocery store… and for half the price (or less) of the good stuff?!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {04/03/2013}

    Welcome to Healthy 2Day Wednesday! Thank you so much for linking up all your great posts each week – we always love seeing the knowledge everyone has to share.

    Anne’s top 3 picks from last week:

    As the top 3, you have been Facebook’d, and Tweeted and Pinned by Anne. And don’t forget, your posts were pinned to our Pinterest board made especially for Healthy 2Day Wednesdays.

    How to join this week’s fun:

    • Share an idea, tip, recipe, things to avoid, something new to try, natural remedy, alternative medicine, going “green” tips, etc. that will help us to remain or become more healthy!
    • If this is your first time participating read more info & get button here (also find the “I’ve been featured” button there)
    • Comment on another participant’s post, this builds community.
    • Add button or link back to that day’s link up.
    • Spread the word so we can learn more ideas on keep our families healthy; feel free to share on Facebook or Twitter.
    • Ideas: homebirths, natural remedies, an interesting article, something eco-friendly, a review, natural cleaner, alternative or holistic approaches to health, how to’s, the list goes on and on!
    • If you are adding a recipe, make sure the ingredients do not include white flour, refined sugar, processed products, packages products (unless it is clearly stated or pictured that it is organic or all natural) and the like. We are looking for whole food recipes that are beneficial to our health.
    • If you have any questions regarding H2W’s, please contact Rachel.

    If you’re not participating today, I hope you’ll come back & join in next week!

    5 Indisputable Facts About Vaccines

    I don’t normally get controversial here on the blog but some things weigh heavily on my heart and this is one of them. I’m concerned by the growing number of people who are angrily shouting “You dumb anti-vaxers with your pseudo-science! You’re killing everybody else with your stupid refusal to vaccinate!”; they are so blinded by their anger (fueled by media reports funded by pharmaceutical companies) that they don’t stop, take a breath and listen to actual facts. Well at any rate, that’s the impression I get from their ranting internet comments.

    Teacher Appreciation Gift

    I’ve been a teacher of one kind or another for most of my adult life, but it’s been a new experience for me the past couple of years to be the parent of a student. Having been on both sides of the equation, I know the importance of a thoughtful gesture that shows appreciation for the hard work a teacher does throughout the school year.

    Disinfect Your Home with Thieves Oil

    Recently, my family has gone through a bout of various illnesses, and I have declared myself DONE with it! I have no idea what brought on this sudden onslaught to our immune systems, but we’ve run the whole gamut of diarrhea, vomit, coughs, runny noses, fevers, and sinus infections. DONE, I say! We are done with all the germs. 

    Henceforth and therefore, I went on a rampage through the house with my bottle of Thieves and an assortment of other tools, determined to ban the sickness from our house for good. Or at least for a good long while.

    5 Questions to Ask Your Essential Oil Company (Or, How to Find a Reputable Source for Essential Oils)

    To say that there is a lot of confusion out there about essential oils is sort of like saying that Niagara Falls is kinda big. In other words, it’s a gross understatement. No matter your query or how it’s worded, any internet search about essential oils is bound to bring up conflicting information, making it extremely difficult for a novice to sort through it all and find the kernels of truth hidden in all the hyperbole.

    5 Home Remedies for Pink Eye

    Pink eye (or Conjunctivitis) is one of those annoying little illnesses that is more inconvenience than anything, especially since anyone who sees anybody (or hears of anybody) who has pink eye seems to think that the Black Plague of Death is nigh at hand and reacts with horror. Henceforth and therefore, one is required to sequester themselves away from all society until doomsday has passed and the eye is no longer shedding icky goopy stuff…. which can take up to a week. Like I said, an inconvenience.

    DIY Furniture Polish – 3 Ingredients!

    First off, let me start by being completely authentic with you. The absolute and total truth of the matter is that my natural tendency in life is NOT to polish the furniture. Meh. Polish shmolish. If it were up to me, dusting would be the extent of my furniture care (that and attempting to avoid liquid spillage on its surface).

    Safety Online

    I was provided a year’s subscription to Covenant Eyes in exchange for this post for Authentic Simplicity, but all opinions and thoughts are my own. This is not a commercial; just my thoughts about a very real problem each of us faces in our world today.

    Good and evil run on parallel tracks and they both arrive at the same time. 

    I heard a sermon once where the pastor repeatedly quoted that statement until it was stuck in my brain forever, and I’ve since repeatedly thought how true of a statement it was! The internet is a perfect illustration of its truth: it can be both good and evil.

    No More Boring Lunches!

    This post here is just as much for me as it is for you. School for me and The Boys is about to start in another week, and that means lunchboxes for every member of the family every day of the week. (OK, every weekday, anyway.) That, in turn, means forethought and planning, things I’m not super good at. It also means I need some creative ideas at the ready because I hate – HATE – doing the same ol’ thing day in and day out. Hate it, I say.

    So I’m doing a little browsing on Pinterest – where all good ideas roam – and am sharing my findings with you. (You can thank me later.)

    My IKEA Hack: {Almost} Built-Ins

    Although we came by our current residence in a rather haphazard manner, we have enjoyed it tremendously. It’s so much bigger than our previous space, plus it has a HUGE back yard that The Boys love to play in. Besides which, it’s right off the main road, so the location is absolutely perfect.

    However, it does have one drawback. (Can’t have everything, right?) Being a basement apartment, it is seriously lacking in storage space. Each bedroom has a closet, and there is a small storage unit under the stairs, but that’s about it. There’s no linen closet, no coat closet, and no laundry room (only a laundry closet) and I’m realizing that I relied heavily on those rooms for storing all sorts of things in our previous residence.

    Three Easy Ways to Give Back this Christmas

    After the gratefulness of Thanksgiving comes a flurry of commercialism and materialism: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. I like to shop with the best of them, and I always have fun with my family browsing the good deals on Black Friday, but it’s nice to have a day to turn our attention back to our blessings and those who are less fortunate. (And no matter how dire our circumstances, there is always someone less fortunate than us.)

    In celebration of the spirit of Generous Tuesday, I bring to you 3 very easy ways to give back from Authentic Simplicity.

    Treating Cancer Naturally {Touched by Cancer}

    Have you been touched by cancer? Maybe not you personally, but a close friend or family member? Then this series is for you. In honor of a dear friend of mine who was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this year, I dedicate this small space of the internet to spreading hope and compassion in the face of a terrible disease. Hope for prevention and treatment, and compassion for those suffering. Please share the posts in this series with anyone you know who has been touched by cancer.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {Week 80}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2day Wednesdays! We have a lot of new updates, so please take a look!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday is hosted by:

    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    and introducing 2 new hosts:
    Paula of Whole Intentions
    and Stephani of The Cheapsake Cook

    And we would also like to invite you to contact Rachel or Anne about being a monthly guest host of H2W, we will choose one blog per month to join us on Authentic Simplicity.

    4 Ways to Prevent Cancer {Touched by Cancer}

    Touched by Cancer - a series at Authentic Simplicity

    Have you been touched by cancer? Maybe not you personally, but a close friend or family member? Then this series is for you. In honor of a dear friend of mine who was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this year, I dedicate this small space of the internet to spreading hope and compassion in the face of a terrible disease. Hope for prevention and treatment, and compassion for those suffering. Please share the posts in this series with anyone you know who has been touched by cancer.

    How to Cook Any Whole Grain {Get Healthy & Fit, Week 6}

    Welcome back to the Get Healthy & Fit series here at Authentic Simplicity! Joining me are 18 other bloggers, all desirous of improving their health and raising their level of fitness. We each have a different goal in mind and a different plan to reach that goal; and you can follow each blogger’s progress here. Follow along on Twitter and Pinterest as well!

    I discussed my personal goals at length the first week, but to sum up, this is what I’m hoping to do in the course of these 12 weeks:

    • Kick my sugar habit
    • Lose approximately 10 lbs. and a few inches
    • Fit in my clothes
    • Develop sustainable habits like eating more proteins and fewer carbs

    Although I’m going low-carb, I’m not eliminating carbs entirely. Instead, I’m almost completely eliminating sugar from my diet (replacing it largely with stevia), and focusing on the healthiest carbohydrates possible. To that end, when it comes to grains, I am trying to minimize the amount of flour (any kind) I consume, and instead eating the grain in its entirety.

    5 Words About Allume

    I had the privilege of attending the Allume conference for Christian bloggers this past weekend, and it was just as wonderful as I remember it (back when it used to be the Relevant Conference). A little larger (OK, twice as large, at least as far as attendance is concerned), and in a totally different hotel, but still very much the same.

    12 Ways to Enjoy Whole Grains {Get Healthy $ Fit Series}

    Welcome back to the Get Healthy & Fit series here at Authentic Simplicity! Joining me are 18 other bloggers, all desirous of improving their health and raising their level of fitness. We each have a different goal in mind and a different plan to reach that goal; and you can follow each blogger’s progress here. Follow along on Twitter and Pinterest as well!

    I discussed my personal goals at length the first week, but to sum up, this is what I’m hoping to do in the course of these 12 weeks:

    • Kick my sugar habit
    • Lose approximately 10 lbs. and a few inches
    • Fit in my clothes
    • Develop sustainable habits like eating more proteins and fewer carbs

    Why We Get Fat {Get Healthy & Fit, Week 3}


    Welcome back to the Get Healthy & Fit series here at Authentic Simplicity! Joining me are 18 other bloggers, all desirous of improving their health and raising their level of fitness. We each have a different goal in mind and a different plan to reach that goal; and you can follow each blogger’s progress here. Follow along on Twitter and Pinterest as well!

    I discussed my personal goals at length the first week, but to sum up, this is what I’m hoping to do in the course of these 12 weeks:

    • Kick my sugar habit
    • Lose approximately 10 lbs. and a few inches
    • Fit in my clothes
    • Develop sustainable habits like eating more proteins and fewer carbs

    Simple Preschool: Reading

    Join me every week as I show you how me and my 4-year-old Certain Little Someone do simple preschool at home through our blogs.

    No curriculum, no pressure, but lots of learning! 

    Reading is a natural extension of phonics. You won’t get too far in the phonics instruction before you naturally start to blend the sounds together to form words. And it doesn’t take a genius, or even an expert, to instruct young children in the art and science of reading English. It doesn’t even really require any special curriculum or equipment. It just takes a patient person who already knows how to read English and can follow a few simple steps. 

    Posting Frequency and Stuff

    Last night’s Facebook party was a smashing success! If you missed all the fun, you can still get in on all the giveaways here.

    One thing we talked about during the Facebook party was organization – and the lack thereof! I admitted that I’ve been struggling lately to juggle all the things on my plate: blogging, preschool at home, housekeeping, family and church activities, and more. Although I hate to admit it, it’s impossible for me to adequately fulfill all these responsibilities, so I’m realizing that something’s gotta give.

    My Simple Preschool – Phonics Part 2

    Join me every week as I show you how me and my 4-year-old Certain Little Someone do simple preschool at home through our blogs.

    No curriculum, no pressure, but lots of learning! 

    Last week, I discussed in detail my approach to teaching phonics throughout the preschool years (and into kindergarten), but I realized I left out  a few important details. So here are a few important details that I must mention.

    Don’t Waste a Drop!

    I have a money-saving tip for you today that is so basic I fear most of you already know it. But just in case someone like me is out there who is a little slow when it comes to this kind of stuff… well. This is for you! (And for those of you who are already all over it, you’re my hero. Really.)

    When it comes to food waste and frugality, we don’t really need to get fancy. Honestly, it’s mostly about using it up someway somehow so that it doesn’t end up wasted in the trash.

    A Sweet Treat for You – Whole Wheat Skillet Blondies

    I honestly haven’t really been indulging my sweet tooth much lately, but that doesn’t mean I won’t share a treat or two with you, my friend. This particular one I made for a gathering a week or two ago, so I shared it with lots of other people and only had a tiny little piece myself.

    Thank goodness, too, because it was quite delicious, and I’m pretty sure I would have eaten the whole pan if left to my own devices.

    Organizing on the Cheap Recap

    Have you ever been frustrated by all the creative organization ideas you see in magazines and on blogs, only to realize that you simply can’t afford (or don’t want to spend the money) all those gorgeous bins, boxes, baskets and other containers? Me, too! I’ve learned to organize my home (uh, to a certain extent) without spending an arm and a leg, and I have a whole week’s worth of money-saving organizing tips that you will love!

    Get Rid of Ants Quickly, Easily and Naturally

    Just ask my husband, or anyone who knows me, really. I HATE BUGS. Now, as long as they stay outside where God put them, I am happy to let them live in peace. But the very second they encroach on my territory (or, heaven forbid, my person!), war is declared by virtue of their trespass. 

    Unfortunately, those nasty little boogers seem to require nasty chemical weapons when engaging in warfare. They certainly make for a hardy army and a worthy foe! And despite my efforts to create a non-toxic space inside my home… I have to admit I am willing to resort to chemical warfare when it comes to bugs.

    BUT! (she says with a triumphant brandish of her coffee grinder) BUT! I have found a weapon that brings ants to their knees, begging for mercy; only to be haughtily ignored, and left to go slinking off into the dirt. Where they belong. And the citizens rejoice!

    How to Organize for Less at the Dollar Store {Organizing on the Cheap}

    I’m so happy you are here with us this week for 5 Days of Organizing – more than 20 bloggers will be bringing you daily inspiration for organizing every aspect of your life. And with back-to-school days breathing down our necks, we all need it! 

    Have you ever been frustrated by all the creative organization ideas you see in magazines and on blogs, only to realize that you simply can’t afford (or don’t want to spend the money) all those gorgeous bins, boxes, baskets and other containers? Me, too! I’ve learned to organize my home (uh, to a certain extent) without spending an arm and a leg, and I’ll be sharing my tricks with you all week long. Stick with me for great cheap organizing ideas!

    Scroll down to the bottom to enter the cash giveaway; and when you’re done, click on the footer image to see other posts by other bloggers in this series PLUS lots more giveaways (including a copy of Your Grocery Budget Toolbox!).

    How I Organized my Pantry for FREE with Empty Jars {Organizing on the Cheap}

    I’m so happy you are here with us this week for 5 Days of Organizing – more than 20 bloggers will be bringing you daily inspiration for organizing every aspect of your life. And with back-to-school days breathing down our necks, we all need it!

    Have you ever been frustrated by all the creative organization ideas you see in magazines and on blogs, only to realize that you simply can’t afford (or don’t want to spend the money) all those gorgeous bins, boxes, baskets and other containers? Me, too! I’ve learned to organize my home (uh, to a certain extent) without spending an arm and a leg, and I’ll be sharing my tricks with you all week long. Stick with me for great cheap organizing ideas!

    Psssstt! Scroll down to the bottom for your chance to win $50 in cash from Authentic Simplicity!

    A Fruit, A Vegetable, and a Hot Dog {Food Waste Friday 8/30}

    One of my biggest pet peeves is throwing away food. I could kick myself every time I dump food down the drain or in the trash: it’s just a complete and total waste! And I hate waste. Which is why I am so thrilled to link up to  The Frugal Girl on her weekly feature where she posts a picture of all the food she had to throw away for the week, and invites other bloggers to do the same. The idea is to feel some accountability – who wants to admit they threw away all that money to the whole world? – to help you avoid throwing away food in the future.

    The Best Short-Term AND Long-Term Storage for Fresh Herbs

    Honestly, the best way to keep herbs fresh for the longest period of time is to keep their roots firmly planted in the soil, where they will be nourished and happy for several months at least.

    But if you, like me, cannot keep a dill plant alive to save your life, then you might benefit from these tips. (Oh, don’t worry; I will persevere in my yearly attempt to kill grow dill, but so far, I haven’t managed to keep it growing for longer than a couple weeks. Yeah, that was probably the record.) And, thankfully, these tips will also apply to a large number of other herbs, if you are also very good at killing those (Or if you just don’t have room for potted herbs. Or if it’s the winter and herbs would die anyway.)

    THE Best Pancakes. Period.

    Don’t they look scrumptious?

    In order to understand how wonderful this recipe is, you need to understand something about me: I don’t ever make the same thing the same way twice. It used to frustrate my DH, but now he’s used to it. No, normally, I only make a recipe once, and it has to be really really good in order for me to make it twice. To become part of my “repertoire”? That is saying something.

    How to Become a Gardener {7 Days, 7 Tools: Build a Better Grocery Budget}

    This post originally appeared as part of a 7-day series announcing the launch of my ebook, Your Grocery Budget Toolbox. Your Grocery Budget Toolbox is over 150 pages long, each page loaded with all the tools you need to build a better grocery budget.

    In Chapter 8: Take it to the Next Level, I bring you all sorts of strategies about how to take your frugality to another level, one that goes beyond the bottom line of how much you fork over at the grocery store. Because that total at the bottom of your receipt only tells you part of the story. True frugality is a lifestyle, and involves active participation on your part.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {7/10/2013}

    It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for a sharextravaganza (said no dictionary ever) of healthy and natural living posts. If you’re a blogger you can link up your wisdom, ideas, projects, recipes, whatever you think other people might benefit from reading. This is our weekly gathering of brilliant ideas shared by amazing people who love to experiment with new ways to improve their lives and their health. Browse through the collection… or add your own!

    Guest Post: Healthified Strawberry Crisp

    Today’s post on Authentic Simplicity is brought to us by my friend Erin at The Humbled Homemaker. She’s writing about one of my very favorite things… strawberries!

    Ah–strawberry season. It’s almost over in my Southern state of North Carolina, but it’s just beginning elsewhere. One of my favorite summer pastimes is picking berries. And although I love eating them raw (and sometimes right off the plants!) or in a summertime smoothie, one of my family’s favorite desserts is a warm-from-the-oven, juicy strawberry crisp.

    All Natural Homemade Bug Spray

    I don’t like bugs. I don’t like them in my house, and I most certainly do not like them on my person.

    However, bugs like me. They like me very much. They seem to consider me a veritable feast free for the taking, and I find that rather presumptuous of them.

    5 Days with Whole Wheat Flour: Getting the Most Out of Your Wheat

    Join my friends and I as we spend 5 days together, exploring a variety of topics all related to mothering and homemaking!

    Welcome back to 5 Days with Whole Wheat Flour! So far we’ve discussed the different types of wheat available, and why you should choose whole wheat (for the most part) over white flour. Today, we’re going to discuss the benefits of grinding your own wheat.

    Say what? Yes, grinding your own wheat. No, not by hand. (Heavens, that would take forever!) Not even with a stone.

    These days, you can purchase appliances that will speedily grind your wheat (and any other grain or seed) for you so that you can have the freshest possible flour in a minute or less.

    5 Potty Training Tips

    Potty training. The very words tend to elicit groans from even the most seasoned parents. It’s not exactly the funnest stage of toddlerhood, not even close. However, if one wants to get from Point A (Diaper World) to Point B (Underwear!) – kind of essential to daily life at some point before the age of 5 – one must go through the Land of Potty Training.

    Black Bean Chili with Avocado Mousse {Recipes from Avocado Lovers}

    We are avocado lovers around here. Well, my boys and I are. My DH doesn’t much care for them (although he enjoys my Chicken Pizza with Avocado Ranch Sauce well enough). But ever since my boys were babies, they’ve been eating avocado straight up like it’s candy. Delicious, wholesome, healthy candy.

    I’ve experimented with avocado in baking – still working on that one – and in smoothies (Shamrock Shake, and Choc-Ocado Smoothie), as a pasta sauce, and – naturally – in guacamole. Recently, though, Avocados from Mexico challenged some of us bloggers to create new Mexican-inspired recipes using avocados. My mind naturally goes to guacamole when I think of Mexican avocado dishes, but I wanted to do something a little different. As yummy as guacamole is, and as fun as it is to create different variations of it, I embraced the opportunity to come up with something I’ve never done before.

    SRC: Orange Chocolate Macaroons

    Wow, Secret Recipe Club time came around fast this month! It totally caught me by surprise near the end of my OAMS cycle, and due to poor planning on my part, I happened to be completely out of flour and oats. That pretty much eliminated any baking, and I didn’t have time to try any main dish recipes. Thankfully, Cupcake Muffin, my assigned blog, came to my rescue with a simple recipe that not only requires minimal ingredients (that I happened to have on hand, miracle of miracles) but that also tastes amazingly delicious. Even better? I’m the only one in the house that can eat them, so they are all mine. Muahahahahahahah! There are some perks to being the only person in the house without any dietary issues.

    Pumpkin + Pizza = A Match Made in Heaven

    I’ve already complained at length about my diet-enforced pizza woes, so I won’t bore you with that whole diatribe again. Suffice it to say that necessity encourages creativity around here if we are ever to enjoy our favorite food group (which would be pizza, in case you didn’t follow that).

    And honestly, as much as I love pizza, and as much as I have been goofing off with pumpkin since at least the middle of September, it never once occurred to me to put the two together … until I saw Anne-Marie’s Pumpkin Chorizo Pizza a few weeks ago.

    Homemade Pink Lemonade

    For my birthday in May, my wonderful DH hosted a lovely party for me, and even made most of the food! (I think I’ll keep him!)  Included in the menu was some delicious strawberry lemonade, which he made himself from scratch to the delight of all our guests. He made a HUGE batch, and it was gone almost instantly.

    Since then, we’ve made it a few more times because it was just so good we couldn’t resist. The last time I made it, though, I took it one step further. That one little step went from “amazing” to “Uh.May.Zing”. Just like that.

    It’s still strawberry lemonade… but it’s pink. So I call it “Pink Lemonade”. Fitting, huh? But unlike the pink lemonade you can buy just about anywhere else, this pretty little beverage has no artificial colors. No artificial flavors or preservatives, either! In fact, it has no refined sugar, and very little sugar at all. Can you say, “Mmm-mmm!”

    Recipe: Pink Lemonade

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup lemon juice
    • 1/4 cup unrefined sugar (any kind)
    • 1/4 t. liquid stevia*
    • 1 cup hot water
    • 3 cups cold water
    • 1/2 cup chopped strawberries
    Instructions

  • Place the lemon juice, sugar, stevia, and hot water in a blender (I used my Vitamix). Blend until sugar is dissolved, making sure to vent the lid to allow steam to escape.
  • Add remaining water and chopped strawberries. With the lid secure, blend until the strawberries are incorporated into the liquid.
  • *If you prefer sugar, use 1/2 cup of sugar and omit the stevia. If you prefer to use stevia exclusively, use approximately 1/2 t. Adjust sweetener to taste.
  • Healthy 2Day Wednesday {6/5/13}

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    Great ideas await you in this week’s linkup. Others are sharing their fantastic ideas for healthy living – and you can too! We’d love to have you join us and share how you embrace your health!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by:

    Rachel of Day2Day Joys

    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady

    Anne of Authentic Simplicity

    Paula of Whole Intentions

    Steph of The Cheapskate Cook

    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    Carrie’s top 3 picks from last week:

    As the top 3, you have been Facebook’d by Carrie. And don’t forget, your posts were pinned to our Pinterest board made especially for Healthy 2Day Wednesdays.

    Have you been featured as an H2W favorite?
    We now have a button for you to add to your post or side bar! You can get different size buttons here.

    How to join this week’s fun:

    Link up to any of our blogs with your favorite healthy post.
    Guidelines for this Link-Up:

    • Share an idea, tip, recipe, things to avoid, something new to try, natural remedy, alternative medicine, going “green” tips, etc. that will help us to remain or become more healthy!
    • If this is your first time participating read more info & get button here (also find the “I’ve been featured” button there)
    • Comment on another participant’s post, this builds community.
    • Add button or link back to that day’s link up.
    • Spread the word so we can learn more ideas on keep our families healthy; feel free to share on Facebook or Twitter.
    • Ideas: homebirths, natural remedies, an interesting article, something eco-friendly, a review, natural cleaner, alternative or holistic approaches to health, how to’s, the list goes on & on!
    • If you are adding a recipe, make sure the ingredients do not include white flour, refined sugar, processed products, packages products (unless it is clearly stated or pictured that it is organic or all natural) and the like. We are looking for whole food recipes that are beneficial to our health.
    • If you have any questions regarding H2W’s, please contact Rachel.If you’re not participating today, I hope you’ll come back & join in next week!

    Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan and Stuff {Secret Recipe Club}

    I love broccoli. I mean, I looooovvvveee broccoli. Steam it, drown it in butter, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and MMMMmmmmMMMMThat’s pretty much as close to heavenly as a vegetable can get. 

    So I was super excited (probably more than one should be regarding cruciferous vegetables) to see that my Secret Recipe Club assignment for the month, Life of a Modern Housewife, had a delicious recipe for broccoli! Um, yes, please! Heavenly vegetables? How could I resist!

    If you, too, like roasted vegetables, The Modern Housewife has a great roasted carrots recipe as well. I absolutely love Chinese dumplings, so I’m definitely going to be trying her Steamed Chinese Dumplings recipe because she makes it look awfully easy (and way cute). If you’re more into desserts, try her Lemon Meringue Cupcake!

    But back to the broccoli. What I love about this recipe is that it’s a sprinkle-this-and-drizzle-that kind of recipe. Totally my favorite way to cook! Honestly, there are so many recipes I come up with at home that I never blog about because I never take the time to sit down and measure them, and I know you all get tired of my ambiguous directions. But really, this recipe is so simple, and you can start with a whole pile of broccoli, or just a handful, and go from there with a sprinkle and a drizzle. I will say – for the inquiring minds that want to know – that I had a little less than a pound of broccoli florets, and I used 2 cloves of garlic. Other than that it was seriously just drizzling and sprinkling.

    If you’d like to give the Secret Recipe Club a try, you can apply to join here.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {5/22/13}

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday Week 102

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    Great ideas await you in this week’s linkup. Others are sharing their fantastic ideas for healthy living – and you can too! We’d love to have you join us and share how you embrace your health!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by:

    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    Paula of Whole Intentions

    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    Carrie’s top 3 picks from last week:

    As the top 3, you have been Facebook’d, and Tweeted by Carrie. And don’t forget, your posts were pinned to our Pinterest board made especially for Healthy 2Day Wednesdays.

    Fox in the Kitchen Hazelnut Crusted Halibut

    Have you been featured as an H2W favorite?

    We now have a button for you to add to your post or side bar! You can get different size buttons here.

    How to join this week’s fun:

    Link up to any of our blogs with your favorite healthy post.

    Guidelines for this Link-Up:

    • Share an idea, tip, recipe, things to avoid, something new to try, natural remedy, alternative medicine, going “green” tips, etc. that will help us to remain or become more healthy!
    • If this is your first time participating read more info & get button here (also find the “I’ve been featured” button there)
    • Comment on another participant’s post, this builds community.
    • Add button or link back to that day’s link up.
    • Spread the word so we can learn more ideas on keep our families healthy; feel free to share on Facebook or Twitter.
    • Ideas: homebirths, natural remedies, an interesting article, something eco-friendly, a review, natural cleaner, alternative or holistic approaches to health, how to’s, the list goes on & on!
    • If you are adding a recipe, make sure the ingredients do not include white flour, refined sugar, processed products, packages products (unless it is clearly stated or pictured that it is organic or all natural) and the like. We are looking for whole food recipes that are beneficial to our health.
    • If you have any questions regarding H2W’s, please contact Rachel.If you’re not participating today, I hope you’ll come back & join in next week!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {5/15/13}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    Great ideas await you in this week’s linkup. Others are sharing their fantastic ideas for healthy living – and you can too! We’d love to have you join us and share how you embrace your health!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by:

    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    Paula of Whole Intentions

    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    Paula’s top 3 picks from last week:

    As the top 3, you have been Facebook’d, and Tweeted by Paula. And don’t forget, your posts were pinned to our Pinterest board made especially for Healthy 2Day Wednesdays.

    I just couldn’t keep my eyes off these truffles from Holistic Homemaking. The fact that their made with avocados is a health plus in the right direction!

    Loved this helpful recipe to kill the odor from sweaty, stinky shoes by Dawn of The Grey Area.

    Beth at Nourishing Passions shares a great way to use coconut flakes and save a bundle!

    Have you been featured as an H2W favorite?

    We now have a button for you to add to your post or side bar! You can get different size buttons here.

    How to join this week’s fun:

    Link up to any of our blogs with your favorite healthy post.

    Guidelines for this Link-Up:

    • Share an idea, tip, recipe, things to avoid, something new to try, natural remedy, alternative medicine, going “green” tips, etc. that will help us to remain or become more healthy!
    • If this is your first time participating read more info & get button here (also find the “I’ve been featured” button there)
    • Comment on another participant’s post, this builds community.
    • Add button or link back to that day’s link up.
    • Spread the word so we can learn more ideas on keep our families healthy; feel free to share on Facebook or Twitter.
    • Ideas: homebirths, natural remedies, an interesting article, something eco-friendly, a review, natural cleaner, alternative or holistic approaches to health, how to’s, the list goes on & on!
    • If you are adding a recipe, make sure the ingredients do not include white flour, refined sugar, processed products, packages products (unless it is clearly stated or pictured that it is organic or all natural) and the like. We are looking for whole food recipes that are beneficial to our health.
    • If you have any questions regarding H2W’s, please contact Rachel.If you’re not participating today, I hope you’ll come back & join in next week!

    Go Play in the Dirt! {Raising Healthy Families}

    Welcome back to the Raising Healthy Families series! Join us each week as we take a look at different ways to keep your family healthy and vibrant in a not-so-healthy world.

    By Susan Vinskofski of learningandyearning.

    Did you realize that our health is intimately connected to soil? It plays a role in our mental health as well. Read learningandyearning’s Go Play in the Dirt! It’s Good for your Health to learn more about a very special bacteria found in soil which boosts serotonin in our brains. The post has lots of ideas for getting dirty, too! As if you needed help with that.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {4/10/13}

    Welcome to Healthy 2Day Wednesday! Thank you so much for linking up all your great posts each week – we always love seeing the knowledge everyone has to share.

    Anne’s top 3 picks from last week:

    As the top 3, you have been Facebook’d, and Tweeted and Pinned by Anne. And don’t forget, your posts were pinned to our Pinterest board made especially for Healthy 2Day Wednesdays.

     

    97 Tools to Help You Keep House, Raise the Kids, and Love on Your Hubby

    I love things that are simple.

    I love a good deal.

    (I love a fantastic deal even more.)

    And I love anything that helps me simplify my life at home.

    I’m so excited to share with you this fantastic offer that is all of those things at once!

    For 6 days only, more than 75 widely-known bloggers and authors in the homemaking sphere have joined together to offer 97 of their most popular eBooks and eCourses, valued at just over $600, for the incredibly low price of $29.97!

    More than anything, our goal for this sale was for it to be, well… ultimate! We firmly believe that you will not find a more comprehensive collection of homemaking resources anywhere on the web, and particularly not in this price range. For this low price, you gain access to every single one of these resources, so that you can customize your own collection to contain exactly the ones you want and know you’ll use.

    This library of homemaking helps include topics such as mothering, organization and cleaning, recipes and kitchen helps, home education, spiritual growth for both moms and kids, home décor and DIY, pregnancy and baby care, frugal living, health and fitness, and even work-from-home and financial tools.

    To sweeten the pot, we’ve also teamed up with 10 companies to bring you over $140 in bonus offers, giving you an affordable opportunity to get products you’ll use and love for only the cost of shipping, or in some cases, entirely for free!

     

    What’s Included in the Sale?

    When you purchase The Ultimate Homemaking eBook collection, you will get instant access to any of the 97 eBooks and eCourses listed below.

    PLUS over $140 of FREE Bonuses

    Each The Ultimate Homemaking eBook collection comes with more than $140 of FREE Bonuses from 10 companies that we know you’ll love. More on these bonuses below.

    Please note: This collection is only available from 9 a.m. EST on April 29th to 11:59 p.m. EST on May 4th. There will be no late sales offered.

    Home & Property {Cleaning, Organizing, Decor}

    31 Days to Clean by Sarah Mae @ SarahMae.com ($4.99)
    Getting it Together: Your Guide to Setting Up a Home Management System that Works by Kayse @ kayse pratt ($3.99)
    Pulling Yourself Together: Implementing a Cleaning Routine that Sticks by Becky @ Clean Mama ($10.00)
    Simple Living by Lorilee @ Loving Simple Living ($2.99)
    NOT a DIY Diva by Melissa @ The Inspired Room ($3.99)
    One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler by Tsh @ Simple Mom($5.00)
    28 Days to Hope for your Home by Dana @ A Slob Comes Clean ($5.00)
    Organizing Life as Mom by Jessica @ Life as Mom ($9.00)
    Clean Enough: Simple Solutions for the Overwhelmed by Jenni @ Live Called($4.99)
    10 Steps to Organized Paper by Lisa @ Lisa Woodruff.net($5.00)
    Handmade Walls by Jamin and Ashley @ the handmade home ($9.95)
    Easy Peasy Chores: An Easy-to-Use Chore System That Brings JOY Back Into Family Chores by Alina Joy @ The Good Old Days Farm ($17.99)

    Educational Children’s Resources

    Princess Training by Richele @ Under the Golden Apple Tree ($3.99)
    The Armor of God by Richele @ Under the Golden Apple Tree ($2.50)
    My Bedtime Learning Book by Richele @ Under the Golden Apple Tree ($1.00)
    Think Outside the Classroom by Kelly @ Generation Cedar ($6.97)
    Raising Rock Stars — Kindergarten Bundle by Carissa @ 1plus1plus1equals1($10.00)
    The ABC’s For Godly Boys Curriculum by Lindsey @ Road to 31 ($8.00)
    The ABC’s For Godly Girls Curriculum by Lindsey @ Road to 31 ($8.00)
    K4 Curriculum by Erica @ Confessions of a Homeschooler ($15.00)
    Write Through the Bible (print) by Trisha @ Intoxicated on Life ($5.00)
    Write Through the Bible (cursive) by Trisha @ Intoxicated on Life ($5.00)
    Balcony Girls (books 1 & 2) by Sandy @ Reluctant Entertainer ($19.90)
    The Dig for Kids: Luke (Volumes 1 and 2) by Patrick, husband of Ruth @ The Better Mom ($5.98)
    Music: An Essential Ingredient for Life by Ryan @ Resound School of Music ($6.99)

    Budgeting {Finance & Time}

    From Debtor to Better by Barry @ From Debtor to Better ($10.00)
    Tell Your Time by Amy @ Blogging with Amy ($2.99)
    The Homemakers Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule by Amy @ Raising Arrows ($4.99)
    Your Grocery Budget Toolbox by Anne @ Authentic Simplicity ($7.99)
    Finding Financial Freedom by Kelly @ Generation Cedar ($5.97)
    Become a Frugalista in 30 Days by Susan @ The Confident Mom ($3.99)

    In the Kitchen {Recipes and Cooking}

    Crock On by Stacy @ Stacy Makes Cents ($5.00)
    Real Food, Real Easy by various bloggers @ The Humbled Homemaker ($9.95)
    Wholesome Mixes by Kristy @ Little Natural Cottage ($4.00)
    20-Minute Meals by Leigh Ann @ Intentional by Grace ($4.99)
    Restocking the Pantry by Kresha @ Nourishing Joy ($9.99)
    Money Saving Mom’s Guide to Freezer Cooking by Crystal @ Money Saving Mom($3.99)
    Simply Summer by Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama ($7.95)
    Do the Funky Kitchen by Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers ($4.95)
    Real Food Kids: In the Kitchen plus 1 month access to select Real Food Kids eCourse videos by Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS and Jami @ Eat Nourishing ($20.00)
    Seasonal Menu Plans on a Budget: A Month of Meals from My Humble Kitchen to Yours by Diana @ My Humble Kitchen ($4.99)
    Just Making Ice Cream by Marillyn @ Just Making Noise ($12.00)
    The Curative Kitchen by Susan @ Handy Pantry ($20.00)

    Pregnancy & Baby Care

    First Bites by Hilary @ Accidentally Green ($9.99)
    Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert by Erin @ The Humbled Homemaker ($9.95)
    Stress-Free Baby Shower by Sara @ Your Thriving Family ($4.00)
    Unbound Birth by Jenny @ The Southern Institute ($2.99)
    My Pregnancy Journey by Mindy @ Simply Designs ($9.99)
    My Buttered Life Baby Edition by Renee @ Made On Hard Lotion ($5.00)
    The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year by Rachel @ The Minimalist Mom ($5.00)
    Redeeming Childbirth: Growth & Study Guide by Angie @ Redeeming Childbirth($3.99)

    Holidays & Special Events

    Festive Traditions by Jill @ Modern Alternative Kitchen ($7.95)
    Holiday Mixes: Gifts in a Jar by Kristy @ Little Natural Cottage ($4.00)
    Flourishing Spring by Michele @ Frugal Granola ($5.95)
    Family Camping Handbook by Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship ($6.95)
    Truth in the Tinsel by Amanda @ Oh, Amanda! ($7.99)
    Plan a Fabulous Party by Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect ($4.99)
    iPhone Photography: The Visual Guide by Alli @ Alli Worthington($9.97)

    Spiritual Growth

    Pursuit of Proverbs 31 by Amy @ Amy Bayliss ($3.99)
    The Best of Visionary Womanhood by Natalie @ Visionary Womanhood ($5.00)
    God’s Word in my Heart: A Scripture Memory Learning Guide with Verses {all 4 versions} by Jenn @ The Purposeful Mom ($3.99)
    Kept: a 13-Week Inductive Study on 1 Peter by Lara and Katie @ Quench Bible($4.99)
    Love Like Him: an 8 week Inductive Bible study on 1 Corinthians 13 by Lara and Katie @ Quench Bible ($2.99)

    Marriage & Romance

    Rekindling Romance by Jason & Jami @ A Biblical Marriage ($4.99)
    Good Wife’s Guide by Darlene @ Time-Warp Wife ($2.99)
    31 Days to Build a Better Spouse by Ashley @ Ashley Pichea ($4.99)
    31 Days to Great Sex by Sheila @ To Love, Honor and Vacuum ($4.99)
    Entangled: Recognize Your Emotional Affair by Amy @ Amy J. Bennett ($4.99)

    Motherhood

    The Heart of Simplicity by various authors @ The Heart of Simplicity ($9.99)
    True Christian Motherhood by June @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home ($7.00)
    Hula Hoop Girl by September @ One September Day ($4.99)
    When Motherhood Feels Too Hard by Kelly @ Generation Cedar ($4.97)
    Mindset for Moms by Jamie @ Steady Days ($4.99)
    From Cube to Farm by Heather @ From Cube to Farm ($2.99)
    4 Moms of 35+ Kids Answer Your Parenting Questions by various authors @ 4 Moms, 35+ Kids Parenting E-book ($7.99)
    That Works for Me! by Kristen @ We are THAT Family ($8.00)

    Health & Fitness

    100-pound Loser by Jessica @ Muthering Heights ($4.99)
    Honoring the Rhythm of Rest by Danielle @ Domestic Serenity ($2.99)
    42 Days to Fit by Brandy, Emma and Stacy @ The Marathon Mom ($4.99)
    Healthy Homemaking by Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home ($12.95)
    Personal ePlanner by Jennifer @ ListPlanIt ($5.00)

    Beauty

    Frumps to Pumps by Sarah Mae @ SaraMae.com ($4.99)
    The Cottage Mama’s DIY Guide by Kristy @ Little Natural Cottage ($4.00)
    Simple Scrubs to Make and Give by Stacy @ A Delightful Home ($3.99)
    The No Brainer Wardrobe by Hayley @ The No Brainer Wardrobe ($7.99)
    Embracing Beauty by Trina @ Trina Holden ($9.00)
    Reuse, Refresh, Repurpose by Kristen @ The Frugal Girl ($3.99)

    Working from Home & Blogging

    Your Blogging Business: Tax, Talk and Tips by Nikki @ Christian Mommy Blogger($4.99)
    The Bootstrap VA by Lisa @ The Home Life {and Me} ($12.99)
    How to Grow Your Blog and Manage Your Home by Jacinda @ Growing Home($4.99)
    How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too by Mandi @ Life Your Way ($12.00)
    Simple Blogging: Less Computer Time, Better Blogging by Rachel @ Small Notebook ($8.00)

    Ecourses

    Learning in Love: The Preschool Years by Renee @ FIMBY ($7.99)
    Homeschooling from the Heart by Renee @ FIMBY ($7.99)
    Grocery University by Carrie @ Colorado Bargains ($24.95)
    Vibrant Living Strategies for Moms by Lisa @ Well-Grounded Life ($59)
    You Can Do This! The First Five Steps to a Real Food Kitchen by Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers ($5.00)

    Bonus Offers

    • Each bonus offer can be redeemed once only per eBook Bundle purchase.
    • For each bonus offer, transaction numbers or proof of purchase may be required at the time of redemption.
    • All bonus offers are free gifts from the bonus sponsors, are their sole responsibility to provide, and are subject to availability.
    • All bonus offers expire at midnight on May 19th, 2013 (2 weeks from the last day of this sale).

    General

    • It is your responsibility to download and back-up your purchase within the 1-month download time-frame. With proof of purchase, we can renew download links up until August 1st, 2013. After this date we will no longer have access to the books and will not be able to provide any new links to download.
    • Due to the nature of this sale, there will be no refunds available. However, we would invite you to read our Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more about the file types, the download process, how the bonus offers work, etc.

    Please note: This collection is only available from 9 a.m. EST on April 29th to 11:59 p.m. EST on May 4th. There will be no late sales offered, so make sure that you get your bundle right away!

    Particularly for those wanting to read these ebooks on their mobile devices (iPhones or iPads, Android, Kindle, etc.) you will want to learn more about the file types, how to download them correctly, and how to transfer them to your device.

    This post includes affiliate links, and I make a portion of the sale of each ebook bundle. Thanks for your support of this site!

    Detox Your Cleaning Supplies {Raising Healthy Families}

    Written by Hilary Kimes Bernstein of Accidentally Green

    Welcome back to the Raising Healthy Families series. Today we’ll take another look at how to keep our families healthy in a not-so-healthy world.

    Unfortunately, many commercial cleaning products are toxic. But the great news is that you can make your own effective, safe cleaners. Before you start your spring cleaning routine this year, choose your supplies carefully.

    Please check out Accidentally Green’s Detoxing Your Cleaning Supplies to learn more about toxic cleaning supplies and non-toxic, homemade options.

    4 Books I’ve Been Reading (That I Highly Recommend)

    First of all, can I just say that I love my Kindle? (Actually… what I really love is my Kindle app on my tablet… but my Kindle makes it possible to enjoy my Kindle app… so I love my Kindle!) I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my Kindle in the last few days, and have actually devoured quite a few brand-spankin-new eBooks in the past 24 hours. I’ve been toting my Kindle everywhere – to the living room, to the dining room, to the kitchen, to the bedroom, and, of course to the bathroom (where else does a busy mom find time to read?!).

    Whether or not you have  Kindle, too (my friend Erin wrote a very helpful post about reading digital books without an e-reader), you can benefit from the ever-growing digital library of wisdom out there that is far more accessible (and takes up a lot less space) than its old-fashioned hard-covered, paper-backed ancestor. In particular, there are 4 recently published digital books that I have been perusing the past couple days and highly recommend to you!

    Whether you’ve been cloth-diapering (or CD-ing, as the lingo goes) since before it was popular or are pregnant with your first little one and curious about the possibility, you will learn something in The Humbled Homemaker’s brand new eBook, published just a few weeks ago. I promise. Erin leaves absolutely no stone un-turned and shares every little shred of knowledge she has learned in her years of researching (and using!) cloth diapers. I totally wish I had access to this book when I was researching cloth diapers, because I would have avoided some mistakes along the way that led to the demise of my first set of CD’s. Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert is currently available right here via PDF for $9.95

    2. Accidentally Green

    Accidentally Green is a memoir of one woman’s journey from “normal” to “green“… almost by accident! Wherever you are on your journey to improve your health and your environment, you will identify with the questions, obstacles, and issues that provoked Hillary to discover “new” and better ways to eat, clean, shop, heal, and just plain live! I found myself empathizing with Hilary at times, and admiring her at others. Her determination to research the best for her family is inspiring to me and encouraging as I continue on my own journey to simplify our family life without sacrificing what is authentic and real. As someone who strives to make EVERY decision in life based on the Word of God, I also really appreciated her Biblical perspective. This quick read is available for just $2.99 via PDF, Kindle, and Nook.

    (But the price is going up soon, so get it while you can!).

    3.  Intentional Blogger

    Can you believe that when I first started my own blog, I had never actually read  one before? I had only heard of them. It makes me laugh to think about the earliest beginnings of my blog when pretty much me, myself, and I were the only ones who ever visited it. And then when I started it up again – in earnest and for reals – I still had absolutely no earthly idea what the heck I was doing. I didn’t even know for the first year that I could actually monetize it beyond Google Adsense. Crazy, right? Too bad I didn’t have LeighAnn and Nikki’s new (as of yesterday!) eBook, Intentional Blogger, then! I would have started out right instead of making a zillion mistakes along the way and falling flat on my face more than once. Huh! If I had read their book first, I might even be a mega-blogger today (Haha!)!!

    Clearly, I’m in the place where I’m supposed to be… but if you’re a blogger at any stage, I really think you need to read this eBook. Packed – and I mean PACKED – with resources, you’ll have everything you need to take your blog to the next level (whatever that is). And I love their emphasis on focusing on God and what HE wants from your blog. You won’t be a success without that determination as your guiding focus. And since it’s a brand new eBook, you can currently get this book for $12 (25% off the price) by using the code “LAUNCH25” at checkout. (Only for a limited time.) Alternatively, if you subscribe to the authors’ newsletter, you can get 50% off the purchase price until 8am April 26 (which is Friday morning). Buy Intentional Blogger here.

    4. Easy Peasy Chores

    This last one is more of a tool than a book you sit down and read. But WHAT a tool it is!! Busy mamas everywhere have been needing this resource for a loooonnngggg time. I can remember back when I was growing up, and my mom organized our chores using index cards in a little file box. She would have loved this system! Alina has broken down all the possible chores that need to be done in your home into simple tasks that even the children can help with. Whether you want to organize the tasks by person, by room, by zone, or by day of the week, you can do so with this – truly – easy peasy system. There’s an initial cost for printing out the cards and purchasing the supplies, but Alina’s even got some great ideas to help you get started with minimal out-of-pocket expense. I am SO excited to get The Boys (ages 4, 2, and, um, 33) and myself started on this house-cleaning system, especially now that I’m teaching again and my boys are going to school with me. Anything that simplifies my life excites me, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to find this resource exciting, too! It’s only $15.99, and it’s worth every stinkin’ penny. (It would honestly be worth even more.) You can buy the Easy Peasy Chores system for yourself here.

    PS> Several of these books will be available in an eBook bundle sale coming up next week. $30 for almost 100 eBooks, all of them just as good as the ones I mention below. It’s not a hard choice to make… $16 for Easy Peasy Chores today? or $30 for Easy Peasy Chores PLUS 96 other books, ecourses, printables, planners, etc etc?! Yeah, like I said, not a hard choice. It’s coming on Monday, so stay tuned!

    PSS>My very own eBook – Your Grocery Budget Toolbox – is in the same eBook bundle. Yippee!

    PSSS> The very last one I promise. I’m a total cheapskate, but even I have to say that this bundle deal is gonna be kickin awesome and totally worth it. $30 is a lot to spend on books all at once, but it’s WAY more than books. Stick around and I’ll be telling you more about it here on the blog, on FB, and on Pinterest.

    PSSSS> Oops. Really the last one. I forgot to mention that there are more than $140 in bonuses that come with each purchase of the book. Seriously, this is a no-brainer.

    Mango Coconut Muffins {Secret Recipe Club}

    This month’s Secret Recipe Club finds me in the middle of a move. As in, the kind where you pack up every blessed thing you own into a box and drag it across the country only to unpack it all moments later. Only in my case, we’re not quite moving across the country – just about an hour south of where we are now. So no big deal, right?!

    Ha! I wish it was no big deal! I kept telling myself all month long, “You’d better make your SRC recipe and write up the blog post before you’re so crazy busy you don’t have time to do it!”. Wise words, yes? Sadly, I did not listen to my own wise words, and so ended up searching for a recipe on Edesia’s Notebook with only a few moments to spare… and not a lot in my pantry.

    I found it humorous that the recipe I chose to make from Edesia’s Notebook was one that Lisa, the blogger, had found when she was searching for a fruity muffin recipe… but only had mangos to work with. Oddly enough, I, too, had a mango in my fridge despite the fact that my kitchen cupboards were getting rather bare due to our impending move. So Mango Muffins it was!

    (If I’d had the ingredients on hand, I would have gone for one of her delicious sounding egg dishes – Butternut Garlic Quiche, Eggs Benedict Casserole, or Summer Vegetable Frittata. Or maybe her Breakfast Meatballs, which sound fan-tab-u-lous!)

    I did not change the recipe significantly, but since I had some coconut ingredients on hand, and since coconut and mango were born for each other, I added a little coconut to the mix. Plus, I didn’t have any ginger, so I experimented with cinnamon and cardamom.  Tropical deliciousness!

    Find out how you can join the Secret Recipe Club here.

    How to Find a Rental {Or Not}

    Here is my authoritative guide to finding the perfect rental.

    Or not.

    1. Hire a realtor. You’ll want someone who’s experienced and impartial (i.e., not affiliated with any of the properties you’re considering), but not afraid to take on renters. Ask co-workers or other acquaintances for recommendations. A realtor can help you wade through the sea of available options and help you find exactly what you’re looking for while representing your best interests to potential landlords.

    OR… just do online searches on places like Trulia, Homes.com and even Craigslist, and contact the real estate agent who represents the apartment you’d like to see. 

    It worked for us.

    2. Investigate the facility thoroughly before signing on the dotted line. Make sure the property is truly as advertised, because sometimes those landlords get a little creative with their listings. Cozy? Try “tight”. Charming? Perhaps “dated” is a better choice of words. You’ll also want to be sure that the building is sound, otherwise you might get stuck with drafty windows, wimpy water heaters, or inadequate heating units.

    OR… Have you brother-in-law stop by to visit the place on his way home from work so he can give you a thumbs up or thumbs down. Accept the enthusiasm oozing from his voice over the phone as approval to move ahead. Tell the real estate agent as soon as possible that you’d like a 1-year… no wait, make that 2-year lease on the property, ASAP!

    It worked for us.

    3. Interview potential landlords. I mean, seriously, you never know what kind of crazies live in this world. Will they disappear and leave you wondering where (and to whom) you should pay the rent, with a broken washing machine on your hands (this may or may not have happened at some point in my life)? Do they have a secret criminal past (background check, perhaps?)? You want to be sure your landlord will be responsible and quick to respond whenever you have an issue with the property. Plus, you don’t want them to be weird.

    OR… you can meet your landlord when you arrive to check out your new place and sign the lease… all in the same day. 

    It worked for us. 

    4. Avoid partial property rental situations. Again… you don’t want to be sharing space with crazies! Those situations where the landlords live in the same house as you, just a thin door (or wall) away? Creepy.

    OR… Find a gorgeous, spacious basement apartment for rent in one of the richest areas in the county, with a humongous yard and a lovely arbored patio that you can (at least temporarily) call your own. Safe neighborhood, 50% more space than you had previously, and just off the main road for your DH’s commute to work. 

    It worked for us. 

    5. Negotiate the price. There may or may not be room to budge, but it doesn’t hurt to try! Just like in actual real estate transactions, it can be possible to lower the rent. It all depends on the landlords’ situation and what he/she is trying to get out of the place. It’s always worth a try!

    OR… Don’t haggle over the price because you’re afraid someone else is going to snap up this gem before you can. And because, since utilities are included, you’re saving effectively $300 a month anyway, so who cares if the rent is at the top of your range?!

    It worked for us.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {3/20/13}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2day Wednesdays! 

    Top 3 this week:

    Rachel’s favorites from last week:

    As the top 3, you have been Facebook’d and  Pinned by Rachel. And don’t forget, your posts will be pinned onto my Pinterest board especially made just for Healthy 2Day Wednesdays.

    Tiffany from Don’t Waste the Crumbs researched why butter is so good
    for you. It’s a swap of everything we’ve been taught about low fat… real butter is GOOD for you!
    Heather from Healthy Family Cooking shares a delicious recipe to make your own chocolate chips (well globs) but who cares, these look amazing!
    Sara from Your Thriving Family shares a wonderful alternative to
     regular cake we’re all used to.

    How to join this week’s fun:

    • Share an idea, tip, recipe, things to avoid, something new to try, natural remedy, alternative medicine, going “green” tips, etc. that will help us to remain or become more healthy!
    • If this is your first time participating read more info & get button here (also find the “I’ve been featured” button there)
    • Comment on another participant’s post, this builds community.
    • Add button or link back to that day’s link up.
    • Spread the word so we can learn more ideas on keep our families healthy; feel free to share on Facebook or Twitter.
    • Ideas: homebirths, natural remedies, an interesting article, something eco-friendly, a review, natural cleaner, alternative or holistic approaches to health, how to’s, the list goes on & on!
    • If you are adding a recipe, make sure the ingredients do not include white flour, refined sugar, processed products, packages products (unless it is clearly stated or pictured that it is organic or all natural) and the like. We are looking for whole food recipes that are beneficial to our health.
    • If you have any questions regarding H2W’s, please contact Rachel.

    If you’re not participating today, I hope you’ll come back & join in next week!

    5 Simple Ways to Detoxify Your Home and Body {Raising Healthy Families}

    Welcome back to the Raising Healthy Families series! Join us each week as we take a look at different ways to keep your family healthy and vibrant in a not-so-healthy world.

    Today’s post is written by Stacy of A Delightful Home.

    The fact that we live in a world full of chemicals, pesticides, and other harmful substances can’t be denied.

    Sure, we strive to eat good food and use natural cleaners, but what do we do about the unclean air and the unhealthy things that have already made their way into our homes and bodies?

    Stacy shares 5 simple ways to detoxify your home and body so you and your family can live the healthiest life possible (and they are not as crazy as you might think)!

    Sock Drawer Clean-Out! {28 Days to De-Clutter}

    Cleaning out the linen closet was yesterday’s task in case you missed it. Today, we’re going to tackle the sock drawer. Or sock drawers if you are so inclined! If you’re keeping up with these challenges, join our 28 Days to De-Clutter Facebook Event page and share your excitement with the rest of us as you accomplish each task! If you’re just joining us now, you can keep up with all the tasks here.

    I will be honest. I hate socks. And I hate hose. And I like tights but only in the dead of winter. And I hate buying tights because they’re so dreadfully expensive. So my sock drawer is pretty bare most of the time anyway. However, there are certain people in my house who shall remain unnamed whose sock drawers can hardly be shut because they are so full of socks. Ahem. And then there are other, also unnamed, people in my house who repeatedly lose the mates to their socks at an alarming rate, and whose socks end up scattered around the house hither and yon with abandon.

    It is to them I dedicate this post.

    De-Clutter Your Sock Drawer in 10 Minutes 

    Choose which sock drawer you want to battle. Then set your timer for 10 minutes, and…

    BEGIN!

    Collect all the socks from the nether regions of your house into one place. Dump out any socks still in the drawer and begin sorting through your pile.

    First, make a big heap of all the orphans. You might find as you go that they are not orphans at all, but for now, just set them to one side.

    Also take note of hole-y socks. They must go. Where is up to you, but go they must.

    Now analyze the remaining hole-free, well-matched socks. Do you like them? Do you wear them? Are they still in style? Maybe it’s time to get rid of the jingle bell socks you’ve had since your early twenties (true story). If you answer “no” to any of those questions, then that pair of socks must also go.

    Once you have a pile of socks that you love and are in good condition, make sure they’re folded neatly and then place them into your sock drawer in an organized fashion. I like to fold mine the way Mama’s Laundry Talk says to fold them – it’s simple and it keeps the socks from getting stretched out. I do fold my kids’ socks in the traditional method (folding one sock into the other) just to cut down on the sock orphanage inhabitants, but my own socks just fold flat.

    Extra Credit

    • Socks can be darned (tee hee) by following these simple instructions. I personally do not love socks enough to go through that effort, but if you really love your socks, you will be happy that there is a way to keep them going for a little while longer.
    • If you’re socks have had it (or are orphaned) then consider upcycling them!: Make a bag holder or a Barbie sweater, turn them into mittens or mitten cuffs, or use them as plant pot covers or vase covers. Or do what I did and turn it into a coffee cup cozy.
    • While you’re in the vicinity, take the time to organize the other nearby drawers – ya know, the underwear and lingerie drawers. Yes, I organized mine, too, but ain’t no way I’m splashing pictures of those all over the internet!!
    • Check out the 28 Days to De-Clutter Pinterest Board for more inspiration!

    Let’s De-Clutter Together

    If you completed today’s 10-minute task, I’d love to hear about it! Tell me all about it – and show me a picture – on the 28 Days to De-Clutter Facebook Event page. Bloggers can grab the badge below and write a post – I’ll link to it in my next post and pin it to my 28 Days to De-Clutter Pinterest Board, and share on Facebook and Twitter.  And everyone can join in on the Twitter conversation by using the hashtag #28daystodeclutter.

     

    Organize Your Board Games {28 Days to De-Clutter}

    We’re working through the house, cleaning out the entertainment areas one by one. Yesterday’s task was the kids’ toys, and today it’s the board games! If you’re keeping up with these challenges, join our 28 Days to De-Clutter Facebook Event page and share your excitement with the rest of us as you accomplish each task! If you’re just joining us now, you can keep up with all the tasks here.

    Today’s post is brought to us by my wonderfully creative friend Karla, who really needs to start a blog of her own! Seriously, she always has the greatest ideas, and I would totally read her blog daily if she ever wrote one. (Hint, hint!) But even though she doesn’t blog on a regular basis, she kindly volunteered to help me out with this series since I am in the middle of packing to move in another week (AGHGHGH!!). Instead of organizing my games, I just packed them up! She, however, went through and de-cluttered her entire board game collection with beautiful results. Thank you SO much, Karla, for sharing your creativity with us!

    De-Clutter Your Board Games in 10 (or so) Minutes 

    I am a game lovin’ gal.  In fact, I must admit my competitiveness has been known to get a bit out of hand at times when a good game gets started in my house.  I also must admit that the mess which comes along with all our different games gets a bit out of hand at times too!  Cards, pawns, dice, boards, pieces, Pieces, PIECES!  We typically find all the missing pieces by stepping on them…Oh Joy!  or vacuuming them up…Oops!

    And when we find a good game we love, we love it well!  Sometimes a little too well, if you know what I mean.  There is NO telling how much money I have spent on tape trying to keep those well loved boxes in tact so they can keep all their stuffing in.

    Then, recently it hit me.  Why am I trying to keep the “oversized”, “crowding my shelf”, “won’t last much longer anyways”, “cost me a (small) fortune in tape” boxes?  And the answer to that question and a not very good one at that – “…because it’s the box the game came in!?!?” – sent me searching for another option.  So here is the solution that has, thus far, worked

    very well for us.

    Here is what I used:

    • clear containers- I found mine at Wal-Mart.  I like that they do not taper and the handles do not indent into the box taking up precious inner space.
    • scissors
    • wide clear tape- like packaging tape
    • sandwich baggies
    • marker
    • rubber bands (optional)

    First, you need to decide which games will fit best into which size containers as well as which ones you can combine best together into one container.  I  found that most board games fold into a square making them fit remarkably well in the larger containers and in fact I could fit two to three board games into each one.

    Cut the name of the game from the side of the original box and tape it to the inside of the container making sure the name shows on the side you want facing out from your shelf.  (My larger ones I have labeled on one of their long sides, but the smaller ones are labeled on a side with a handle.)  Then label a sandwich sized baggie with the name of the game and place all the playing pieces into the baggie (pawns, cards, play money, everything!!!).  It helps to put a rubber band around the cards or money, but this is not necessary.  Here is an example of three games (Sorry, Clue, and Mad Math) in one container.

    Things that don’t work well for these containers and system…Puzzles!  You really need the picture on the box!  Also, boards that only fold into a rectangle.  The containers just aren’t quite long enough.

    All our playing cards received a shared container all their own as well as our

    One plus to this new system (and one I was not expecting) was how well now my boys clean up the games once they are done playing.  Before, they would shovel (literally) all the loose game pieces back into the box.  Some pieces were forgotten and left behind, others fell through the cracks of the broken box without care and the boys didn’t really bother to get them back in again, so alas, we had an abundance of pieces missing in action waiting for a foot or vacuum to “rescue” them.  Now, there is just something about having a baggie that in itself takes a little more thought to scoop and place the pieces into and then zip it up, but believe it or not all of the pieces  (((knock on wood))) having been ending back safe and sound into that baggie.  It doesn’t really take much more effort and the zipped bag keeps things from falling out.  YAY!  No more pieces missing in action!

    Another plus…  I went from three and a half shelves stuffed to overflowing with games, down to two.  You can see from the picture how I was able to stack 4 containers with 6 board games and 3 usually bulky and somewhat awkward to store games into less than half a shelf space.  Now…hmmmm… what to do with our new found shelf space??  Perhaps I should reward my efforts with a new game. Any suggestions? ;)

    Thanks again, Karla! I’m going to be trying that when I get settled into our new place because some of the cardboard boxes on our games have already fallen to pieces at the hands of The Boys. If you’re looking for more game organization ideas, check out my 28 Days to De-Clutter Pinterest Board.

    Let’s De-Clutter Together

    If you completed today’s 10-minute task, I’d love to hear about it! Tell me all about it – and show me a picture – on the 28 Days to De-Clutter Facebook Event page. Bloggers can grab the badge below and write a post – I’ll link to it in my next post and pin it to my 28 Days to De-Clutter Pinterest Board, and share on Facebook and Twitter.  And everyone can join in on the Twitter conversation by using the hashtag #28daystodeclutter.

     

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {2/20/13}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesdays!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is proudly hosted by the following ladies. Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    Stephani’s top 3 picks from last week:

    As the top 3, you have been Facebook’d, and Tweeted and Pinned by Steph. And don’t forget, your posts will be pinned onto our Pinterest board made especially for Healthy 2Day Wednesdays.

    Lovely collection of 28 smoothies sans bananas from Green Thickies

    Ever since I learned how America’s sudden obsession with quinoa is hurting South American families who used to rely on this little-known high-protein grain (just two of many articles here and here), I’ve avoided buying it . I know it’s just a drop in the bucket kinda thing, but it’s a drop I’m responsible for. Anyway, I thought this post was really interesting an helpful on how to grow and prepare your own quinoa. It’s actually a pretty plant!

    How to join this week’s fun:

    • Share an idea, tip, recipe, things to avoid, something new to try, natural remedy, alternative medicine, going “green” tips, etc. that will help us to remain or become more healthy!
    • If this is your first time participating read more info & get button here (also find the “I’ve been featured” button there)
    • Comment on another participant’s post, this builds community.
    • Add button or link back to that day’s link up.
    • Spread the word so we can learn more ideas on keep our families healthy; feel free to share on Facebook or Twitter.
    • Ideas: homebirths, natural remedies, an interesting article, something eco-friendly, a review, natural cleaner, alternative or holistic approaches to health, how to’s, the list goes on & on!
    • If you are adding a recipe, make sure the ingredients do not include white flour, refined sugar, processed products, packages products (unless it is clearly stated or pictured that it is organic or all natural) and the like. We are looking for whole food recipes that are beneficial to our health.
    • If you have any questions regarding H2W’s, please contact Rachel.

    If you’re not participating today, I hope you’ll come back & join in next week!

    Quick & Easy Fish Fingers

    I don’t have a lot of fish recipes on this blog because, frankly, I didn’t really cook fish until about a year ago or so: Canned tuna and salmon were pretty much the extent of my fish-cooking repertoire. Also, since I didn’t really grow up eating a lot of fish, I hadn’t really developed a taste for it and honestly knew nothing about it. 

    But for the past year or more, I’ve been slowly learning more and more about fish and how to prepare it, and I’ve realized it’s a busy mama’s secret weapon for quick and easy – but healthy – meals. Fish fillets cook up so quickly no matter which method you choose and offer a lot of great nutritional benefits to boot. Currently, we eat fish once a week, and I’ve enjoyed trying many different recipes and experimenting with different cooking methods.

    Typically, I buy the individually quick frozen wild-caught fish fillets because they are the most reasonably priced. I can typically get them for around $4 a pound, and many types of fish are available in this manner (tilapia, cod, whiting and perch, to name a few).

    This particular recipe is one of my early experiments, and one that turned out perfectly. It was so simple and so yummy; my kind of recipe! I recommend using stone-ground non-GMO cornmeal for optimum nutrition.

    How do you like to cook fish?

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday 1/9/13

    Welcome back to Healthy 2day Wednesdays!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday is hosted by:
    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    Paula of Whole Intentions
    Stephani of The Cheapskate Cook
    and this month’s guest host is Lisa of HappyinDoleValley

    We would love for you to take some time and get to know all the hosts of H2w this week! Stop by each of our blogs and see what we are all about! :) We love comments!

    Lisa’s Top 3 From Last Week!

    To Soy or Not to Soy @ Peeling back the Onion Layers
    A must read if you use lots of soy products!

    Chicken Cashew Curry @ Axiom at Home
    Spicy & healthy — YUM!

    Haybox Cooking, the Original Crockpot/Slowcooker
    @ Life Less Hurried, Living in the Slow Lane
    A homemade, non-electric cooking method that I will definitely be trying!

    Link up to any of our blogs with your favorite healthy post!

    Guidelines for this Link-Up:

    • Share an idea, tip, recipe, things to avoid, something new to try, natural remedy, alternative medicine, going “green” tips, etc. that will help us to remain or become more healthy!
    • If this is your first time participating read more info & get button here (also find the “I’ve been featured” button there)
    • Comment on another participant’s post, this builds community.
    • Add button or link back to that day’s link up.
    • Spread the word so we can learn more ideas on keep our families healthy; feel free to share on Facebook or Twitter.
    • Ideas: homebirths, natural remedies, an interesting article, something eco-friendly, a review, natural cleaner, alternative or holistic approaches to health, how to’s, the list goes on & on!
    • If you are adding a recipe, make sure the ingredients do not include white flour, refined sugar, processed products, packages products (unless it is clearly stated or pictured that it is organic or all natural) and the like. We are looking for whole food recipes that are beneficial to our health!

    If you have any questions regarding H2W’s, please contact Rachel.

    Simple Sides: Refreshing Melon Salad


    Welcome back to Simple Sides! Every Thursday this month, some bloggy friends and I will be bringing you super simple and delicious side dishes to get you through the dog days of summer. Last week, Steph The Cheapskate Cook shared with us her Tomato Basil Bruschetta. In the next couple weeks you’ll hear from Mary at Barefeet in the Kitchen and Nancy from Real Food Allergy Free, but today you’re stuck with me.

    I hope you don’t mind. Hopefully you won’t be disappointed.

    You are here: Home / Home / Simple Sides: Refreshing Melon Salad
    Simple Sides: Refreshing Melon Salad
    August 11, 2011 By Anne Simpson

    Welcome back to Simple Sides! Every Thursday this month, some bloggy friends and I will be bringing you super simple and delicious side dishes to get you through the dog days of summer. Last week, Steph The Cheapskate Cook shared with us her Tomato Basil Bruschetta. In the next couple weeks you’ll hear from Mary at Barefeet in the Kitchen and Nancy from Real Food Allergy Free, but today you’re stuck with me.

    I hope you don’t mind. Hopefully you won’t be disappointed.

    Not much compares with fruit for its simplicity in preparation, which is probably why my mind often goes in that direction when seeking a quick side dish that won’t heat up my kitchen. If you browse through my meal plans, you’ll realize quickly that fresh fruit is featured frequently every week, usually multiple times. My DH can’t tolerate very many raw vegetables (none, actually), but he can eat quite a variety of raw fresh fruits, which is one more reason they show up at our table on a regular basis.

    I often just chop up whatever fruit is in the fridge into a take-it-or-leave-it conglomeration, but I also like to come up with intentional creations that take into consideration flavors, textures and colors. There are a few such standbys that serve me well (like Stone Fruit Salad, or Honey Lime Fruit Dressing), but now and then the urge strikes to try something new and perk up the taste buds with some additional, unexpected flavor.

    This was the position I found myself in a couple weeks ago, when I had a strange new melon I had bought at the Farmer’s Market. I think it was a canary melon, at least it looked alot like this:

    At only $2.00, I figured it wasn’t that much of a risk if we didn’t love it, but thankfully, even that $2.00 was not a waste. The flesh tasted like a mild honeydew melon and had a pleasantly smooth texture. Its fragrance was fresh and inviting, which may be why the thought of combining it with citrus was tempting.

    In my search for melon inspiration, I found a recipe originally intended for casaba melon, but easily adapted to other melons. I was hooked by the combination of ingredients far removed from my typical honey-based fruit dressings; in fact, there was no sweetener involved at all, which is of course a huge plus in my book. I was also quite pleased that it was naturally allergen-free, requiring no adaptation to make it suitable for my Certain Little Someone.

    The original recipe calls for the juice and zest of a lime combined with coconut milk (Let’s hear it now: “Put the lime in the coconut, the lime in the coconut….”), which is a pairing I love, but alas, I had no limes. I did, however, have a bag full of clementines I had found on sale, so I switched out the lime with a clementine.

    An inspired choice, truly. The lighter tang of the clementine joined perfectly with the mild flavor of the melon, highlighting it but not overpowering it, and adding a delightful touch of extra flavor. And despite the lack of sweetener, the resulting fruit salad was deliciously sweet just as it was.

    And the best part? No oven was turned on in the process of making this fruit salad.

    How QUICK was that? OK, so refrigeration can take a while, but here’s a time-saving tip: Make this salad first before starting the rest of your meal, and it will be ready to go when you are.

    So EASY, too, except maybe chopping the melon. Here’s another tip: Chop your melon when you buy it, and store it in a container made specifically for the purpose of storing produce (I like Tupperware’s FridgeSmart series), so it’s ready to eat when you want to eat it. Be sure to use it within a few days, though.

    Let’s break down the cost and figure out how CHEAP it is (or isn’t): I bought the melon for $2.00, as I said, and I used about half of it or so. I have recently discovered that Bloom carries Goya canned coconut milk for $0.99 a can (Trader Joe’s carries the lite version for the same price), and this recipe uses less than half a can. I used a clementine from a bag that cost $2.99 and contained 10-12 clementines, and the cost of the shredded coconut is negligible. That brings our total for this dish to less than $2.00, not too bad!

    It’s certainly very HEALTHY! Combining the fruit with the coconut milk is a stroke of genius, because the fat in the coconut helps your body to absorb the many nutrients found in the melon and citrus fruits. Check more blogs here.

    Frugal and Easy Essential Oil Storage {From an Upcycled Spice Rack}

    Young Living Essential Oil’s distributor program in order to get a great discount on their oils, I have been slowly amassing my essential oil stockpile. It’s exciting, but it presented a new problem: where to put them. 

    Enter the spice rack I purchased at a yard sale a while back for the measly little price of $2.00! I’d been hanging on to it for a while, intending to freshen it up a bit for a new purpose (not being useful for containing spices, in my opinion), but hadn’t gotten around to that little task yet.

    As soon as I started pondering how I should handle my essential oil storage situation, I immediately thought of that old spice rack! It was perfect for the task on multiple levels:

    • It was just the right size to hold the bottles.
    • The open shelves make accessing the bottles easy!
    • I had a spot on my bathroom wall where it would fit perfectly.

    However, it was quite ugly. That dark brown stain is not exactly my thing.

    So I set out to beautify it with an “almond” colored spray paint. Easy task, yes?Well, unfortunately, either me or my can of paint was struggling because the paint came out all drippy and splotchy instead of in a smooth, even coat. I followed the instructions on the can exactly so I would like to say it wasn’t me… but it had been a long while since I’d spray painted anything.

    Whatever the case, my final coat of paint resulted in a strange crackled texturethat I found to be appalling initially. But the longer I looked at it, the more I liked it! It kind of gave an antiqued textured look to the spice rack, which was rather serendipitous in my opinion. I had originally planned to apply some sort of filigreed rub-on transfer to the shelves as a decoration, but I think I actually like this sort of shabby chic look better.

    I have no idea how you can replicate this look yourself (ha!), but at any rate, I do think a coat of spray paint in the color of your choice will dress up an old spice rack (you can find them at thrift stores and yard sales all the time) to store your own essential oils (or any other small bottle that needs storage, like nail polish… or spices).

    Think essential oils are out of your price range? Think again! Read how I afford essential oils here. 

    Simple Sides: Mango Summer Salad


    I don’t know about you, but I’ve been loving these Simple Sides this month! In case you missed it, Steph the Cheapskate Cook shared her Tomato Bruschetta the first week, and I brought my Melon Citrus Salad last week. Next week, you’ll meet Nancy from Real Food, Allergy Free and her side dish, but this week, it’s Mary from Barefeet in the Kitchen.


    Read the rest of her post to get the recipe for her Mango Summer Salad.

    And don’t forget to join us next week for one more Simple Side on Authentic Simplicity!

    An Easy Pasta Side Dish {Secret Recipe Club}

    Welcome to Authentic Simplicity,

    “Grumpy’s Honeybunch” , aka Shelby, writes about her life and the people she loves, and those subjects often revolve around food. Her extensive collection of recipes includes quite a few that caught my eye, including Sour Cream & Chive Potato Bites, Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts, and her Mom’s Cheese Ball (I love family recipes!).

    I was in need of a simple side dish for dinner and was thinking that pasta would work nicely, so I decided to make her Pasta with Garlic and Oil, originally by Mark Bittman, one of my faves. Whenever I typically make a simple pasta side dish, I just drizzle it with olive oil and add a few herbs, but adding the garlic takes it to a new level of deliciousness that’s elegant enough for guests yet retains its simplicity. I took out the chili peppers because we don’t eat those around here, but I kept with her idea of basil because I love basil! I wish I hadmore  fresh basil on hand, because nothing beats fresh basil, but I supplemented my little bit of (frozen) fresh basil with some dried. It was still delicious, but the fresh basil would take it over the top!

    Pasta with Garlic, Herbs and Olive Oil

    Ingredients

    • 1 pound pasta, cooked
    • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • pinch of salt
    • 1/3 cup fresh basil, or 1 TBSP dried basil
    Instructions

  • Heat the oil and garlic with a pinch of salt in a pan over medium-low heat until the garlic is golden, shaking the pan gently to stir as necessary.
  • Pour the garlic sauce over the noodles, adding extra oil or reserved water from cooking the pasta if it’s dry. Add basil, salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
  • The Secret Recipe Club is a great way to find new blogs and bloggy friends… and of course, some pretty awesome recipes! Find out how to join here.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday

    Welcome back to Authentic Simplicity Healthy 2day Wednesdays!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday is hosted by:

    Rachel of Day2Day Joys

    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady

    Anne of Authentic Simplicity

    Paula of Whole Intentions

    Stephani of The Cheapskate Cook

    Top 3 from last week!  Unfortunately, there will be NO top 3 this week, check back next week when we will continue with featured posts.

    We would love for you to take some time and get to know all the hosts of H2w this week!

    Link up to any of our blogs with your favorite healthy post!

    Guidelines for this Link-Up:
      • Share an idea, tip, recipe, things to avoid, something new to try, natural remedy, alternative medicine, going “green” tips, etc. that will help us to remain or become more healthy!
      • If this is your first time participating read more info & get button here (also find the “I’ve been featured” button there)
      • Comment on another participant’s post, this builds community.
      • Add button or link back to that day’s link up.
      • Spread the word so we can learn more ideas on keep our families healthy; feel free to share on Facebook or Twitter.
      • Ideas: homebirths, natural remedies, an interesting article, something eco-friendly, a review, natural cleaner, alternative or holistic approaches to health, how to’s, the list goes on & on!
      • If you are adding a recipe, make sure the ingredients do not include white flour, refined sugar, processed products, packages products (unless it is clearly stated or pictured that it is organic or all natural) and the like. We are looking for whole food recipes that are beneficial to our health!
      • If you have any questions regarding H2W’s, please contact Rachel
    If you’re not participating today, I hope you’ll come back & join in next week!

    Simple Sides: Fresh Summer Corn Salad

    Welcome to the last installment of Simple Sides! In case you missed it, Steph the Cheapskate Cook shared her Tomato Bruschetta the first week, and I brought my Melon Citrus Salad the next week. Last week, Mary from Barefeet in the Kitchen shared her Mango Summer Salad, and this week, Nancy from Real Food, Allergy Free brings us her Fresh Summer Corn Salad.

    Pickles 3 Ways: Fresh Pack Canned Pickles

    Canned pickles are the first kind that I attempted, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy they were. In fact, I’ve discovered in the past few years that canning in general is not as great a mystery or even as overwhelming an undertaking as it always seemed to be. It’s quite simple and can be done with the most basic equipment. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of time, especially if you’re working in small batches, like I usually do.

    Of the 3 pickling methods I’m describing, canned pickles last the longest, so are the best for long-term storage. In terms of taste and texture, unfortunately, they’re my least favorite. However, when you stack them up against store-bought pickles, they still win in the taste department, so it’s still worth it to can them if you want pickles to last through the winter.

    Preserving the Bounty: Turning Berries into Jam

    Of the many wonderful things you can do with strawberries, jam is one of the best. It’s kind of hard to decide, because there are so many delicious delicacies like strawberry shortcake, or strawberry ice cream, or strawberry syrup, or strawberry lemonade, or… Like I said, hard to decide.

    Good thing it’s strawberry season, huh? Too bad the strawberry patches have suffered this year for a variety of reasons from flooding to heat waves. Thank goodness there are still enough strawberries to go around!

    Iced Tea: Your Way

    Today is actually breezy and cool but this past week has been one long heat wave with temps in the 90s and more. Perfect for sitting in the shade, shooting the breeze… and sipping iced tea.

    I went to a local blogger meet-up yesterday, hosted by DC area Dunkin Donuts, and had a chance to try their new iced teas. If you’re out and about and hankering for some iced tea, I definitely recommend their peach or raspberry flavored iced teas, which are drinkably delicious (I know, I just invented a word, how cool is that?) and refreshing  just as they are without any sugar or other sweetener whatsoever. As compared to McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A iced teas which are mostly sugar with a little bit of tea.

    Gifts from the Kitchen: Scone Mix in a Jar

    We often think of scones as a British food, I guess because it’s a very British-sounding word. But when Brits say “Scone” they mean something very different from what we as Americans mean when we say “scone”. A British scone is very much like an American biscuit (although a British biscuit is very much like an American cookie or sweet cracker).

    And to think, we speak the same language.

    I don’t really know if the American scone has a counter-part in English cuisine, and I’m not sure why they’re always cut in triangles, or why we think they are British. There’s a lot regarding scones that confuses me, as you can see.

    Secret Recipe Club and Sunbutter Surprises

    This is my first time joining in the fun as part of the Secret Recipe Club, a fabulous blogging event kind of like Secret Santa, whereby each blogger is secretly assigned to blog about a recipe from another blogger, and all posts are unveiled at exactly the same time. I have no idea (yet) who is blogging about a recipe from my blog, and Dana at Food For Thought has no idea that I’ve been searching through all her recipes, trying to pick just one to try out for the grand reveal.

    I was greatly intrigued by her incredible collection of internationally inspired recipes, and almost chose several of them. In the end, though, I settled on a sweet treat that presented a challenge to me: Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies. The whole idea of the cookie fascinated me, as the only ingredients are peanut butter, sugar, cinnamon and egg, topped with a Hershey’s kiss.

    My Garden and Garden Fresh Meatloaf Balls

    Meatloaf balls because I started out with meatloaf and ended up with meatballs.

    And my garden, because, as puny as it is, I am proud of it and want to share it with you here on Authentic Simplicity.

    My newest acquisition: Rosemary

    I have to admit that gardening is not my favorite pastime, especially container gardening, because you have to water the darn things constantly, and woe to those who miss a watering!! Every year, I swear I’m not going to bother… and every year, I do. I guess I figure eventually I will get the hang of it?

    A Little More Mexican: Pork Carnitas

    It’s a day late for Cinco de Mayo, but Mexican is yummy any time, so it’s all good. This is actually my go-to recipe whenever I have a nice big pork roast: it’s easy (naturally), delicious, flexible and makes plenty for leftovers.

    I won’t even pretend that it’s authentic “carnitas” as I have never, to my knowledge, had authentic carnitas (unless you count what they sell at Chipotle’s) so I have no idea how it compares. And I highly doubt authentic carnitas are made in a slow cooker (but how I love my slow cooker!).

    No one except the most discerning purist will care, though, because this is just a delicious way to cook a pork roast, no matter what it’s called. A rose by any other name and all that.

    Don’t Throw Away Those Sweet Potato Peels

    One of my biggest pet peeves is throwing away food. I could kick myself every time I dump food down the drain or in the trash: it’s just a complete and total waste! And I hate waste. Which is why I am so thrilled to link up to  The Frugal Girl on her weekly feature where she posts a picture of all the food she had to throw away for the week, and invites other bloggers to do the same. The idea is to feel some accountability – who wants to admit they threw away all that money to the whole world? – to help you avoid throwing away food in the future.

    Tuna Pasta Salad for Spring

    Move over, mayo! We don’t need you anymore. Not when we have deliciousness like garlicky vinaigrette to dress our salad! Not when the weather is {finally} whispering spring into our ears. Not when lighter fare beckons our taste buds.

    Oh, no, we don’t need mayo. Not for tuna pasta salad, anyway!

    Orange + Chocolate = Tastebud Heaven

    Have you ever had a chocolate orange? They’re more readily available in Europe than here in the United States, but you can still find them around. If you’ve never had one, and you come across one – snatch it up! It’s pricey, but it’s worth every penny (well,  once in a while anyway!).

    It’s been a loooooonggg time since I’ve had one, but I remember well the amazing (and yet unlikely) combination of chocolate and orange. Whoever first put those two flavors together was a genius! Lately, I’ve been experimenting with the combination myself… and having a great deal of fun in the process! This morning, for example, I treated myself to orange chocolate pancakes. Wow. Orange juice in the batter and shaved chocolate stirred in – to die for!

    Mostly, though, I’ve been experimenting with an orange mocha drink, or perhaps better entitled, “Chocolate Orange Cafe au Lait“. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

    Coconut Lime Mousse, aka “Heaven in a Cup”

    I spend a lot of time experimenting in the kitchen and tinkering with recipes, and I have to say that 90% of the time, my tinkering turns out okay. Just okay, though. Usually nothing fabulous, usually nothing to write home about, usually nothing to blog about.

    Then, 9.9% of the time, it’s a total failure that has to be dumped in the trash, never to be spoken of, at home, on the blog, or anywhere.

    That remaining .1%? It happened yesterday. That one moment, when I took the tinkering to extreme levels, crossed my fingers, squeezed my eyes shut real tight… and. Wow. Perfection. Deliciousness. Amazing yumminess.

    My Favorite Recipes: Wheat-Free Vegan {Delicious} Oat Muffins

    Recently, I was thrilled to find a great new (to me) blog called The Austerity Kitchen. Then I was bummed to find out that it was no longer publishing new material. I hate it when that happens! Thankfully, the authors posted a fabulous vintage oat muffin recipe before they moved on to greener pastures, and that same oat muffin recipe has since become my go-to muffin recipe.

    Copycat Shamrock Shake – Healthified!

    I have never actually had one of those famous Shamrock Shakes at McDonalds. Not because I am too good for McDonald’s (Because, um, yeah. Sometimes I go to McDonald’s.). No, the thing is I’m not a huge milkshake fan. They’re just not my thing. Especially fake green ones. Cookies ‘n’ Cream would be a different story on our blog, but fake green? Nah. I’ll pass.

    Guest Post: A Veggie Flower Garden

    Even though it’s early March and the weather still hasn’t officially decided yet if it would rather be winter or spring, my thoughts have already turned to gardening. My garden consists of pots on my balcony, but still. It’s my garden! I can’t wait to try my hand again at planting some veggies and herbs in the pots. I was only partially successful last year, but I have high hopes for this year’s harvest!

    You don’t have to wait for the official spring, though, to enjoy some vegetables and flowers. My friend Sheila, from Alice and the Mock Turtle, shares with us how to make some gorgeous flowers out of … vegetables! Sheila is a wonderful real life friend that I’ve been privileged to know for quite a few years now. I used to work at the school that she and her husband started, and I was always in awe of her creativity as a teacher, as well as her mothering skills. You’ll catch a glimpse of both these qualities in the post below of Authentic Simplicity: I can’t wait to try these with my Certain Little Someone (*mentally putting peppers and spinach on the shopping list*).

    That’s enough from me. Here’s Sheila, with her Veggie Flower Garden

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    My children enjoy eating fruits and veggies, sometimes. When we plan for parties though, they often expect ‘tasty’ food. I have found if I disguise veggies in fun, they think it’s party food any day.

    I also enjoy playing with food and don’t necessarily discourage my children from doing the same. I think this helps them not only to enjoy it more but also be more willing to try something they may not have otherwise.

    So my suggestion to get kids to eat more of their veggies and even try new foods is to have fun with ingredients and have them help. Here is a quick and easy, cheap and healthy idea for a kids snack or party food~ a Veggie Flower Garden. You can do the prep and have your child help with the building.

    Veggie Flower Garden

    bell peppers
    baby spinach
    fresh herbs (recommend parsley, cilantro, chives and/or mint)
    green peas

    Rinse and dry peppers. Slice from bottom of bell into rings, thin or thick. If you want to build more elaborate flowers, use thin slices.

    Working on serving platter (a butcher block works well, or cover a piece of cardboard with blue wrapping paper and then protect with plastic wrap for a bright ‘sky’ backdrop), make a cross with spinach leaves, snapping off long stems as working. Over lap four more leaves just inside two intersecting leaves. Lay pepper ring on top of spinach leaves. Add a few green peas to middle to represent seeds.

    Or add another smaller pepper ring before placing peas. If you have a few rings stacked, you could put a small piece from the bottom of the pepper in the middle to hold a the peas together and up higher.

    Select a few stems of fresh herbs (I used parsley) and place to look like flower stalks.

    Finish off the bottom of the platter with short pieces of chives to resemble grass. Also, use some of the pieces from the bottom of the bell to place as fallen flower petals. Use the top of a bell pepper (after removing seeds) to serve dip in.

    What are some of your favorite fun kid foods?

    Dinner in 15 Minutes? You Betcha!

    At any rate, a main dish that can be fixed in about 15 minutes. Sound good to you?

    I thought so.

    All you need is a package of pork chops, some flour (I used brown rice flour so my Certain Little Someone could also enjoy it, so if you need gluten-free or wheat-free, it’s easy!) and some basic seasonings to make a super delicious main dish in 15 minutes or so. My DH said I needed to save this recipe so I decided to blog about it here on Authentic Simplicity. Aren’t you lucky?!

    Secret Recipe Club: Brazilian Chocolate

    Welcome to the March edition of the Secret Recipe Club (Group A), the part of the show where the bloggers sing write about each others’  recipes (which they have secretly been testing on the sly).
    My secret assignment this month was none other than our host for the week, The Heritage Cook. Jane, the heritage cook, is the one who keeps our Group A organized and ready to go every month. (Thanks, Jane!) Jane is passionate about eating local, organic and seasonal food, which appeals to me, as you can imagine. She has tons of recipes, and she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to the kitchen, so go check out her blog and be inspired!

    1-2-3-Soup!

    Well, it’s more like 1-2-3-4-5-Soup!, but 1-2-3 is just catchier, so there. And the credit for this post idea goes to Steph, the Cheapskate Cook, who just finished a round-up of great winter soup recipes.

    The truth is, this is how I usually make soup: not with a recipe but with a basic guideline or formula (hence the 1-2-3-4-5). It’s hard to imagine that about a year ago or so, I could count on one hand the times I made soup. For some reason, soup seemed kind of nebulous to me, a concoction I couldn’t quite pin down to definable details and measurements, so I avoided it. When I did make soup, I wasn’t 100% satisfied with it, so I rarely tried.

    Savory Oven Pancake to Keep You Happy

    Don’t miss a single exciting post in my Women’s Wellness Seriessubscribe today! We’re talking about all aspects of women’s health. Follow my Women’s Wellness board on Pinterest for even more great articles and product recommendations.

    So ladies, I’ve already reminded you of your need to eat your breakfast, and that a healthy, well-balanced diet can help reduce your PMS symptoms. Both things significantly affect your mood, and you know what they say about when Mama ain’t happy. Yeah. Ain’t nobody happy.

    Dark Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

    A couple weeks ago, I shared with you my exciting new fudge recipe find, and promised to blog about a conventional (non-allergen-free) version within the week. Well, I did make the fudge last week, and it turned out great, but I just kept forgetting to blog about it here on Authentic Simplicity. Silly me!

    Better late than never, right? So here we are, two weeks later, with a peppermint version of my new favorite fudge recipe. If you’re in need of a last-minute, super-fast Christmas treat for the fast-approaching holiday, this one’s for you!

    Fall Fest 2010: Harvest Fruit Salad

    A looooooonggggg time ago, I posted a recipe for a fruit salad that I loved to make. That was back before I really knew anything about blogging, back when I had one faithful reader! Since then, my blog has definitely improved (at least, I think it has!), and so has this recipe. There’s nothing wrong with the original, but I’ve settled on a way to make it that suits me and my family… and is still Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy! And it’s still one of my favorite ways to serve fruit for dinner – it’s dressy enough to serve to guests, but easy enough to make for a family weeknight dinner.

    And… it’s perfect for fall!

    Fall Fest 2010: Squash-Potato Soup, Comfort Food at its Best

    I am home now from the Relevant Conference, and can I just say that I had an amazing time?! I don’t have the time or space on this blog to tell you about all the wonderful bloggers I met, new blogs I found to follow, exciting blogging tips I’m dying to implement, and even more than all that, surprising spiritual refreshment and challenge. Suffice it to say, it was a great experience and one I look forward to repeating next year!

    I haven’t cooked a homemade meal in almost a week, what with getting ready, going to, and recovering from the conference, but before I left, I made some super delicious and very flavorful soup. It was initially a potato soup recipe (one of my favorite kinds of soup, by the way), but I altered it by adding squash… and a few more things.

    This soup is made in the slow cooker, which I personally think is the best way to make soup. To me, it’s more convenient because you can pile all the ingredients in the crock pot whenever you have the time, and let it go all day if you need to; whereas cooking soup on the stove top usually takes a couple hours and requires more hands-on management. I rarely make soup on the stove, but I make it fairly frequently in my slow cooker.

    Fall Fest 2010: Soup or Stew?

    What exactly makes a recipe a soup and not a stew? Or vice versa? The ingredients? The broth? The texture? Its place on the menu? Is it just in the name? Does anybody really know? Do you know?

    I don’t. Not really, anyway. I just did some quick research to settle this question burning on my heart and mind and pretty much came away more confused than before. Perhaps I need to go to culinary school to get a definitive answer…

    The only thing I could come up with is that generally speaking, stews are heartier than soups. There are apparently other factors but they seem to fluctuate depending on the kind or type of stew/soup in question. Here’s an article that explains it very well, but still didn’t help me decide if this recipe is a stew or a soup or what.

    What’s in YOUR Lunchbox? A Sweet Ending

    To close out this series, I think it only appropriate that we end with the best part: dessert! Well, at lunch, it’s more of a treat, but still: it’s sweet! No lunch is complete without it.

    “Sweet treat” doesn’t have to mean sugary and fatty, like Hostess Cakes or Little Debbie cakes, or even Oreos or Chips Ahoy. It doesn’t mean granola and carrot sticks either. Somewhere between the two is a nice balance, particularly if it’s kept within boundaries: only when the healthy food is eaten, and only a small portion.

    Good for What Ails You

    Note: If you’re joining me from the Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life as Mom, Welcome! So glad you stopped by! If you like what you see here in this post of Authentic Simplicity, check out my “Fall Fest 2010” celebration with lots of great recipes, tips and other fun things to celebrate autumn.

    Cold and flu season have hit our home a little early this year. I’ve been knocked out practically for two days now with some serious head congestion that causes a raging headache. Imagine combining that lovely feeling with the need to keep going, if only to keep up with a very fast almost-two-year-old (who, by the way, had this cold, too, but for far shorter and far less severely!). Yeah, it’s been fun around here.

    The Twelve Treats of Christmas: Eggnog Latte

    Last but not least… I’m sure you’re either too busy to think about baking anymore, or too wrapped up in Christmas dinner plans, or maybe you’re actually just relaxing and enjoying the holiday. Perhaps, like me, you’re rushing off to a Christmas Eve service. In any case, here’s a really easy way through our blog which really simple treat to enjoy on Christmas Day with a late breakfast (after all the presents are open, of course!).

    My Husband is a Meatitarian

    Did you ever see that commercial where the guy tells his would-be girlfriend that he’s a “meatitarian”? My husband could be that guy, except he’s already married. To me, in case you were wondering.

    It was no surprise to me the other day that he started drooling when he heard a different commercial advertising pizza with five or six different kinds of meat. That’s pretty much just right up his alley!

    Pumpkin Spice Granola

    Granola claims a colorful and circuitous history, strangely intertwined with religion, health nuts, and hippies. Odd, but familiar bedfellows, indeed. Starting with Sylvester Graham (yes, of graham cracker fame), ending up with the hippies of the ’60s, and continuing on to the modern nutrition-conscious housewives of today, it satisfies the need for a quick and healthy breakfast for bleary-eyed mornings.

    5 Unexpected Ways to Use Fresh Mint

    Got a mint plant (or two) that’s going crazy? Not sure what to do with it?

    I hear ya! Mint is famous for flourishing whether or not you want it to, which can be good (Hey, it’s yummy! And good for you!) and bad (There’s only so much mint one person can handle at a time.). It’s kind of tricky trying to find different ways to use fresh mint when it’s coming out of your ears.

    Copycat Panera Fuji Apple Chicken Salad

    This post was originally published in June, 2009 by Authentic Publicity

    I haven’t blogged in a few days because we went up to Lancaster, PA to visit with some family and have a short mini-vacation. Vacations are always fun, but, especially when it’s such a short vacation, it’s sometimes hard to get back home and go back to the daily grind. So I decided to bring some of my vacation home with me.

    3 Authors For You to Consider

    For a long time, I didn’t read any fiction by mainstream (i.e., secular, non-Christian) authors because it seemed like every one I picked up was rife with profanity, gratuitous sex scenes, and and immorality. Per the wise instructions found in Philippians 4:8, I just don’t really feel a need to fill my mind with that junk; I therefore erred on the side of caution and just avoided secular authors altogether.

    Gradually, though, I’ve come to discover a few authors who are not, as far as I know, Christian, and do not write for Christian publishers, but whose books are fairly clean and even more importantly, honor important Judeo-Christian values such as marriage, family, loyalty, and selflessness.

    5 Stomach Bug Remedies

    Besides the crazy extreme winter weather my family endured during our Christmas vacation to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we also endured a crazy extreme stomach bug. It started with my cute little niece and spread like wildfire from there to almost every member of my extended family (20 out of 31 people succumbed to the bug to one extent or another).

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {8/7/13}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    We are so glad you stopped by. Make sure you go to all of the hosts and say hello! Each of us have something unique and special to share on our blogs! We thank you for linking up your healthy posts with us and reading our blogs!

    SRC: Frosting Made from… Pumpkin Pie?

    Since deciding to eliminate powdered sugar from our diet, I’ve been on a quest to discover the greatest and best frosting recipes that don’t require powdered sugar at all. It’s been a fun journey, yielding amazing creamy delights like Caramel Buttercream (to. die. for.), Flour Frosting (so much better than it sounds), No-Powdered-Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting (the healthiest of the bunch), and my personal twist on 7-Minute Frosting, Fluffy Coffee Frosting.

    Fight the Flu with Breakfast: 1-2-3 Granola!

    Who needs the flu shot!? This year, fight back with food instead! each Wednesday as we reveal five different foods Come back that are purported to support your immune system in the fight against the cold and flu viruses that plague us this time of year. What’s more, each post will a link-up, so you can share your favorite recipe as well as get lots of ideas for creative ways to serve these healthy ingredients to your family! To be sure you don’t miss a single post in the series, consider subscribing to one of these participating blogs:

    Day 2 Day Joys
    Christian Mommy Blogger

    The Purposed Heart

    Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy
    Intentional by Grace
    The Humbled Homemaker

    And before we get to this week’s featured ingredient, I want to highlight a few of my favorites from last week’s link-up. In no particular order, my favorites were:

    Pumpkin Spice Syrup for Pumpkin Spice Lattes – I like to keep this on hand!

    Pumpkin Cranberry Bread – love that it’s allergy-friendly!

    Shepherd’s Pie with Pumpkin Souffle – so creative!

    And now for this week’s featured ingredient..

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {6/26/13}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    Great ideas await you in this week’s linkup. Others are sharing their fantastic ideas for healthy living – and you can too! We’d love to have you join us and share how you embrace your health!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by:
    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Stephanie of The Cheapskate Cook
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    Paula of Whole Intentions

    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {5/29/13}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    Great ideas await you in this week’s linkup. Others are sharing their fantastic ideas for healthy living – and you can too! We’d love to have you join us and share how you embrace your health!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by:

    Rachel of Day2Day Joys

    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady

    Anne of Authentic Simplicity

    Paula of Whole Intentions

    Steph of The Cheapskate Cook

    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    And Now for Dessert: Cranberry Pie

    Have you received your free copy of Healthy Holidays: Slightly Indulgent Sweet Treats yet?

    Citrus Brined Turkey for the main course, Sweetly Stuffed Sweet Potatoes for a filling and healthy side dish, and now to wrap up the menu with a scrumptious dessert. And no, it’s not pumpkin pie. I love pumpkin pie and all, but no. We’re going a different direction for this Thanksgiving.

    very different direction. Instead of a creamy, smooth, squashy custard, we’re going with tartly-sweet, crumbly and fruity. Sound good? I thought so.

    Let’s not waste anymore time, then. Here we have it, folks: Cranberry Crumble Pie. Brought to you by me at my blog, via Eat Good 4 Life. Enjoy!

    Note: I actually made mine gluten-free and dairy-free by using a mixture of brown rice and sorghum flours to replace the whole wheat flour, and using palm shortening instead of butter in the crust. Turned out perfectly!

    Well, that was QUICK, now wasn’t it?

    Did I forget to mention how EASY this pie is? You can even do all the mixing in one bowl! No pastry crust to fiddle with, no demanding custard fillings. Just mix and pour.

    This will be the CHEAPest time in the whole year to make this pie because cranberries are on sale these days for $2/lb or less.

    Sugar aside, it’s a pretty HEALTHY dessert. Cranberries are little spheres of goodness, chock full of vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and more. So if you’re gonna have dessert at Thanksgiving, might as well make it with cranberries!

    In need of some more last-minute Thanksgiving inspiration? Try my Citrus Brined Turkey, or Sweetly Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.

    1-2-3 Fruit Crisp!

    If October is the month for pumpkins, then November is the month for apples, or at least that seems to be the way it goes around here. A  little over a week ago, in fact, I got a 1/2 bushel basket full of seconds apples, so for a week straight I was cooking nothing but apples. Or so it seemed anyway. In my apple-cooking/preserving spree, I made sure to save a few pounds of the crunchy little spheres to make some fruit crisp for dessert.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {3/6/13}

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday is hosted by:

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is proudly hosted by the following ladies. Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    Paula’s top 3 picks from last week:

    As the top 3, you have been Facebook’d, and Tweeted and Pinned by Paula. And don’t forget, your posts were pinned to our Pinterest board made especially for Healthy 2Day Wednesdays.

    Toasty Salmon Melts

    I’m always looking for great recipes that make use of canned salmon because it’s an inexpensive way to incorporate more of that healthy wild-caught fish into our diets. I don’t really love canned salmon, to be honest, but along the way I’ve discovered some great ways to cook it that are truly delicious. Our whole family enjoys eating fish, which I love!

    I stumbled across this recipe for grilled salmon and cheese when searching for more canned salmon inspiration. I changed it up a little bit and turned it into these hot and toasty open-faced sandwiches that are great for lunch or dinner, served with a green salad and/or some fresh fruit. Easy, quick, and healthy. (There’s a reason my blog used to be called Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy!)

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday (1/23/13)

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday is hosted by:

    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    Paula of Whole Intentions
    Stephani of The Cheapsake Cook

    and this month’s guest host is Lisa of HappyinDoleValley

    Link up to any of our blogs with your favorite healthy post!

    Anne’s Favorites from last week:

    As the top 3, you have been Facebook’d, Tweeted, and Pinned by Anne. Oh, and hey! Starting this week, your posts will be pinned onto our brand-spanking new board especially made just for Healthy 2Day Wednesdays, meaning your fabulous posts will be shared with the combined following of all our blogs! Sweet, huh?

    Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free (And Delicious!) Bread

    I am so thankful I no longer need to fuss with these kinds of recipes unless I really want to. My Certain Little Someone is no longer allergic to wheat, and can tolerate eggs and milk when they’re baked into something. This doesn’t mean I’m going to completely abstain from using all those other grains in my baking and cooking … oh no! I learned a lot during those years and intend to continue including a variety of grains in our diet.

    How to Substitute Stevia for Sugar

    Welcome back to the Get Healthy & Fit series here at Authentic Simplicity! Joining me are 18 other bloggers, all desirous of improving their health and raising their level of fitness. We each have a different goal in mind and a different plan to reach that goal; and you can follow each blogger’s progress here. Follow along on Twitter and Pinterest as well!

    I discussed my personal goals at length the first week, but to sum up, this is what I’m hoping to do in the course of these 12 weeks:

    • Kick my sugar habit
    • Lose approximately 10 lbs. and a few inches
    • Fit in my clothes
    • Develop sustainable habits like eating more proteins and fewer carbs

    {Not-So-Healthy} Birthday Cake Decorating Ideas

    Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for $50 in Cherry Tree Soaps products!

    Every year, the AWANA program at my church hosts a Cake Decorating contest, and all the parents kids get busy making delicious concoctions that are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the tummy. Since the youngest age in AWANA is 3, and my Certain Little Someone will not reach that milestone for a few months yet, I haven’t participated in the contest in the past except as an occasional judge. I do, however, enjoy tasting them in the cake-eating party that follows the judging.

    Aquarium

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday! I can’t wait to see what treasures of information and inspiration you all have to share today on our blog, so let’s get started!

    Anne’s top 3 picks from last week:

    As the top 3, you have been Facebook’d by Anne and pinned to our Pinterest board made especially for Healthy 2Day Wednesdays.

    Even More Cheap Organizing Suggestions {Organizing on the Cheap}

    I’m so happy you are here with us this week for 5 Days of Organizing – more than 20 bloggers will be bringing you daily inspiration for organizing every aspect of your life. And with back-to-school days breathing down our necks, we all need it!

    Have you ever been frustrated by all the creative organization ideas you see in magazines and on blogs, only to realize that you simply can’t afford (or don’t want to spend the money) all those gorgeous bins, boxes, baskets and other containers? Me, too! I’ve learned to organize my home (uh, to a certain extent) without spending an arm and a leg, and I’ll be sharing my tricks with you all week long. Stick with me for great cheap organizing ideas!

    Today’s your last chance to enter the giveaways! You can enter the cash giveaway right here on this blog post – just scroll down to the bottom – and if you click on the footer image, you will be directed to a page with a whole bunch of other giveaways. 

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {9/25/2013}

    And… welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday! Come browse through the informative, practical and creative links, or add your own!

    This is one of those linky parties that is hosted by several bloggers at the same time (see handy graphic below), and we take turns week-by-week choosing the top three posts. This week Steph chose her favorites. Enjoy!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {10/30/2013}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    Our favorite day of the week – the day we get to share all our best tips on living as healthfully as possible. Browse through the links collected below, and add your own!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by:
    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    Paula of Whole Intentions

    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {July 24/2013}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    It’s been hot and humid here in the midwest. Whew – let’s take our minds off it, shall we! Stop by our featured links from last week and get lost in some good reading, or feel free to leave your own post in this week’s linkup and share your ideas for healthy living!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by:
    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Stephanie of The Cheapskate Cook
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    Paula of Whole Intentions

    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    5 Summer Uses for Lavender Oil

    Summer is a wonderful time of year… but personally, I kind of dread it because it comes with some unfortunate baggage. You know, stuff like bugs (Ticks! Mosquites! Spiders! Yuck!), poison ivy, heat, heatstroke, heat headaches, sunburns… yeah, all that stuff I don’t really like.

    This year, though, I’m armed and ready to actually enjoy all our summer adventures (we’ve had some really fun ones thus far)! Bugs begone! Sun, you will not burn me, nor will you give me a headache. And if you do, I know what to do! Its here in our blogs.

    An UNO Birthday: The Cake

    I know you want to raise your family as healthfully as you can… but it seems like you’re hindered at every turn! I’ve got a great, absolutely FREE resource that will inspire you with all kinds of ideas from bloggers all over the internet to help you make a healthier home for your family. Simply subscribe to my blogs and weekly newsletter and you’ll receive this complimentary resource directly in your inbox!

    SRC: Chocolate Banana Cinnamon Roll Muffins

    I know you want to raise your family as healthfully as you can… but it seems like you’re hindered at every turn! I’ve got a great, absolutely FREE resource that will inspire you with all kinds of ideas from bloggers all over the internet to help you make a healthier home for your family. Simply subscribe to my weekly newsletter and you’ll receive this complimentary resource directly in your inbox!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {5/1/2013}

    Welcome to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for our weekly sharextravaganza (said no dictionary ever) of healthy and natural living posts. If you’re a blogger you can link up your wisdom, ideas, projects, recipes, whatever you think other people might benefit from reading.

    Thanks for all of the great ideas you share with us each week on our blogs. We enjoy reading over them and pinning new recipes and thoughts about health – hope you do to!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {04/03/2013}

    Welcome to Healthy 2Day Wednesday! Thank you so much for linking up all your great posts each week with our blogs – we always love seeing the knowledge everyone has to share.

    Anne’s top 3 picks from last week:

    As the top 3, you have been Facebook’d, and Tweeted and Pinned by Anne. And don’t forget, your posts were pinned to our Pinterest board made especially for Healthy 2Day Wednesdays.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday 1/29/2013

    Welcome back to Healthy 2day Wednesdays!

    Take a peek at some of the new ideas, delicious recipes, and healthy tips that are being shared this week. Please come and join us!

    There’s a phenomenal world of bloggers out there that have God-given gifts, talents, and passions to share. I love reading about what others have been learning, working on, and what’s cooking in their kitchens through our blogs. Thank you for joining us!

    Simple Fudgy Bites

    The holidays are over… time to organize! I can help you through the process with my new eBook, “28 Days to De-Clutter“. De-clutter your home in 28 days in only ten minutes a day! And you can receive for FREE a printable packet filled with charts and checklists to help you de-clutter every area of your home. Simply subscribe to my blogs and weekly newsletter and you’ll receive this complimentary resource directly in your inbox!

    Does anyone else have a toddler that seems to want to eat constantly? And I mean constantly. There are times when he eats like a bird, but most of the time he’s asking for snack 10 minutes after a substantial meal. Consequently, I’m always on the lookout for creative, healthy snacks that I can whip up and keep on hand for those urgent snacky needs.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday

    Welcome back to Healthy 2day Wednesdays!

    There’s a phenomenal world of bloggers out there that have God-given gifts, talents, and passions to share. I love reading about what others have been learning, working on, and what’s cooking in their kitchens. Thank you for joining us!”

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday is hosted by:

    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    Paula of Whole Intentions
    Stephani of The Cheapsake Cook

    We would love for you to take some time and get to know all the hosts of H2w this week! Stop by each of our blogs and see what we are all about! :) We love comments!

    Cute Coffee Cozy – You’ll Never Guess What I Upcycled to Make It!

    I love re-usable coffee cozies, mostly because I hate waste. Those disposable ones at the coffee shops always seem so pointless, but then I have this little problem of accidentally throwing away the re-usable kind. Henceforth and therefore, I have no desire to spend any amount of money or time on a re-usable coffee cozy (as cute as some may be, and I’ve seen some awfully cute ones!when it’s just going to end up in the trash one day anyway.

    When I was on my organizing spree earlier in January, I cleaned out my sock drawer. (Yes, my sock drawer.) In there was a lonely old slipper sock that had lost is mate a loooonnnngggg time ago and was merely biding time in the dark old drawer, waiting for me to sadly end its life. Only I couldn’t quite bring myself to do that, the poor lil’ slipper sock having been worn only a few times before being reduced to singlehood, and thus in excellent condition still. (I think I have already mentioned that I hate waste.)

    My Simple Preschool: Our Homeschool Corner

    Since I was a K5 teacher in a former life (that seems years and years ago, but really was less than 5!), and before that had worked in a school environment for several years, education is something about which I am quite passionate. I love seeing little light bulbs flicker on, and eyes light up with the excitement of learning something new on our blogs.

    In particular (probably once again due to my stint as a K5 teacher), I get really excited about teaching little ones to read. I don’t know; there’s just something about opening up a whole new world to a young learner who is curious and adventuresome and always ready to find out more. That moment when my students discovered that they could read books beyond their little phonics readers was absolutely my favorite moment every year.

    Vegan Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies {Secret Recipe Club}

    Welcome to Authentic Simplicity, My most profound apologies to Noelle of An Opera Singer in the Kitchen. Although I love to sing and I love music, I have to admit… I’m not a big fan of opera. Like real, actual opera, where they dress up and sing tragical stories where everyone dies.

    However, I am a big fan of the well-trained classical voice, and I can’t help but feel a thrill when I hear the depths of passion and power an excellent voice can exude. As a choral singer, I’m particularly fond of oratorios (Handel’s Messiah is a famous example) and the like, but as long as I’m being honest, I must say that my favorite music genre is pop opera. I know that makes me totally plebeian, but there you have it. Sarah Brightman, Amici Forever, Il Divo, Josh Groban… yes, I confess I am a fan of all of these.

    But you don’t have to be an opera fan to enjoy Noelle’s blog! You just have to be a fan of food… and I think we all qualify. Noelle has got quite a fabulous collection of recipes there, including a large number of vegan recipes. Now is the perfect time of year to try out her Fluffy Vegan Pumpkin Biscuits or perhaps Almond Quinoa Hot Cereal. Her BBQ Chickpea Burgers are on my list to try.

    As you know, I love spelt, so I was quite happy to discover her selection of spelt recipes. In fact, I ended up trying her Spelt Choco-Peanut Butter Cookies as a treat for My Certain Little Someone to share with his Wednesday night class at church. They were a huge hit! I have to admit, that despite the fact that I am avoiding carbs and sugar right now, I snuck one or two. Or maybe three.

    I made a few adjustments to the recipe to make them allergy-friendly for The Boys, the most notable being eliminating the peanut butter chips because they can’t eat those. I still wanted to retain the “peanut butter flavor”, though, so I thought maybe I could try replacing the margarine in the recipe with homemade sunflower seed butter. It didn’t exactly work like I thought it would, and I ended up having to make additional adjustments. The final result was delicious, though! Thanks, Noelle, for a fabulous recipe!

    Spelt Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups freshly ground spelt flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
    • 4 TBSP coconut oil
    • 1/2 cup raw sugar
    • 2 TBSP flax meal + 6 TBSP hot water
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
    Instructions

  • Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the sunflower seed butter, coconut oil, sugar, flax meal and water, and vanilla.
  • Stir the liquid ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Form dough a tablespoon at a time into balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake at 325F for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden in color.
  • Now, go and listen to some of Noelle’s beautiful singing. Why, yes, even this non-opera lover enjoyed it!

    Read more about The Secret Recipe Club and find out how you can join! We’d love to have you.

    Sharing at some of these wonderful link-ups:  Homestead Barn Hop, Mom’s Monday Mingle, The Bulletin Board, Better Mom Mondays, Open Call Tuesday, Delicious Dishes, Teach Me Tuesday, Titus 2sDay, Hip Homeschool Hop, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tip me Tuesday, Trivium Tuesday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Allergy-Free Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Women Living Well Wednesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Real Food Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Keep it Real Thursday, Tastetastic Thursday, Homemaking Link UP, Simple Lives Thursday, Thought-Provoking Thursday, Life in Bloom, Frugal Thursday Rewind, Fellowship Friday, Fight Back Friday, Feast in Fellowship Friday, Frugal Friday, I’m Lovin’ It, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Snacktime Saturday, Show & Share Saturday, Weekend Whatever

    The Easiest Allergen-Free Birthday Cake Ever!

    Birthday Cake

    Can you believe that my Certain Little Someone (who is getting woefully Bigger and Bigger each day, and is not so Little anymore) requested to have the same birthday cake at his fourth birthday party that he had for his second birthday party? Apparently, it made a big impression on him! Or maybe the spectacular fail of his third birthday cake made an even deeper impression (*snort*). In any case, I obliged and made him a replica of his second birthday cake decorations, but I did update the actual recipe a bit. 

    Since his second birthday, I have been blessed to discover the wonders of spelt,and I knew that I just had to make his birthday cake out of spelt flour. Finally, a yummy-tasting, staying-together, not-so-crumbly cake that everyone – including the birthday boy – could enjoy. Yes! 

    I am happy to be over at Baking Whole Grains today, sharing my super easy and almost-healthy allergen-free birthday cake recipe.

    Find other interesting and informative posts at: Tip Me Tuesday, Trivium Tuesday, Mom’s Library, Titus 2sday, Teach me Tuesday, Hip Homeschool Hop, Titus 2 Tuesday, Delicious Dishes, Open Call Tuesday, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Works for me Wednesday, Women Living Well Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Allergen-Free Wednesday, Encourage One Another, Life in Bloom, Thought-Provoking Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Homemaking Link-Up, Tastetastic Thursday, Keep it Real Thursday, Frugal Thursday Rewind, Homeschooling on the Cheap, Fellowship Friday, Fight Back Friday, Feast in Fellowship Friday, Frugal Friday, I’m Lovin’ It, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Snacktime Saturday, Show & Share Saturday, Weekend Whatever, Motivation Monday, Mom’s Monday Mingle, Homestead Barn Hop, The Bulletin Board, Better Mom Mondays, Natural Living Monday, Tip Me Tuesday, Trivium Tuesday, Mom’s Library, Titus 2sday, Teach me Tuesday, Hip Homeschool Hop, Titus 2 Tuesday, Delicious Dishes, Open Call Tuesday, Tiny Tip Tuesday,

    Pumpkin Not Chocolate – Smooth & Creamy Hot Pumpkin Beverage

    Pumpkin Not Chocolate – Smooth & Creamy Hot Pumpkin Beverage

    Now I have nothing against chocolate, mind you. Quite the contrary. A hot and creamy cup of homemade cocoa fits the bill deliciously on a cold winter evening.It’s just that at this time of year, when the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock (whatever that is), I go a little pumpkin crazy and start putting pumpkin into just about everything. 

    Including hot chocolate. Except without the chocolate. So it’s not chocolate.

    I’ts Pumpkin Not Chocolate.

    And it’s amazing.

    Pumpkin Not Chocolate

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup milk (any kind)
    • 2 TBSP pumpkin puree
    • 5 drops liquid stevia (or 1-2 tsp. honey)
    • dash of cinnamon
    • dash of grated nutmeg
    • dash of ginger
    • splash of vanilla
    Instructions

    If you have a Vitamix:

  • Place all ingredients in container. Blend on High until it begins to steam, about 3-4 minutes.
  • If you don’t have a Vitamix:

  • Place all ingredients in a small saucepan on the stove. Whisk together over medium heat until it is blended and steaming. Use a stick blender (or jar blender) and blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Number of servings (yield): 1

    What’s your favorite thing to do with pumpkin puree?

    Pssst! Out of pumpkin? Vitacost has canned organic pumpkin for only $1.85!

    Read more inspiring and informative posts at these link-ups: Motivation Monday, Mom’s Monday Mingle, Homestead Barn Hop, The Bulletin Board, Better Mom Mondays, Natural Living Monday, Tip Me Tuesday, Trivium Tuesday, Mom’s Library, Titus 2sday, Teach me Tuesday, Hip Homeschool Hop, Titus 2 Tuesday, Delicious Dishes, Open Call Tuesday, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Works for me Wednesday, Women Living Well Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday,Allergen-Free Wednesday, Encourage One Another, Life in Bloom, Thought-Provoking Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Homemaking Link-Up, Tastetastic Thursday, Keep it Real Thursday, Frugal Thursday Rewind, Homeschooling on the Cheap, Fellowship Friday, Fight Back Friday, Feast in Fellowship Friday, Frugal Friday, I’m Lovin’ It, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Snacktime Saturday, Show & Share Saturday, Weekend Whatever

    My Simple Preschool: Handwriting

    welcome to our blog Authentic Simplicity The holidays are over… time to organize! I can help you through the process with my new eBook, “28 Days to De-Clutter”. De-clutter your home in 28 days in only ten minutes a day! And you can receive for FREE a printable packet filled with charts and checklists to help you de-clutter every area of your home. Simply subscribe to my weekly newsletter and you’ll receive this complimentary resource directly in your inbox!

    If Phonics and Reading are my favorite subjects, then Handwriting is my least favorite. I have come to the conclusion that handwriting is rarely fun for either teacher or student! Sure, there are ways to reduce the pain, but in the end… it’s just not fun. It’s more work than any other scholarly subject, and there’s no way around that.
    Because of that, I keep handwriting lessons short and sweet. Very short, and as sweet as possible.

    And I teach cursive first. 

    “Say what?” I hear you ask. Yep. Cursive first!

    The Philosophy

    Think about it for a second: what on earth is the point of teaching manuscript, if, 3 years later, you’re going to force the child through an agonizing process to learn how to write all over again, completely frustrating the child to no end and, furthermore, totally undoing all your hard work teaching him or her to write in the first place. I’m a simple girl, and that just doesn’t make sense to me.

    When my kids were babies, I loved the book “The Baby Whisperer”, and in that book, the author repeats a phrase quite often that goes like this: “Start as you mean to go on.” This is such wise advice with lots of applications, and it fits perfectly with the whole handwriting situation. If you want your child to know how to write cursive, well then, start with cursive

    But”, I hear you ask, “BUT! Isn’t there a good reason for teaching manuscript in the first place?” 

    The short answer: No. 

    The long answer: Until the 1930’s, children in the United States were always taught cursive from the get-go. Manuscript was not even considered because people didn’t write in manuscript; they wrote in cursive. Why try to teach a child to write in a way that nobody else wrote? In the thirties, the “whole-word” or “whole-language” method of reading instruction (otherwise known as sight reading) swept through the nation and among its casualties was the cursive method of handwriting. The thinking went something like this: children will confuse cursive letters with the printed letters in their reading books, and will delay their reading instruction.

    It seems like a valid point, doesn’t it? Not really. Children had no problems differentiating between printed and cursive letters for hundreds of years prior to 1930, and they still don’t have any problems. There are no studies – that I am aware of – that were used to prove that learning printed letters for reading and cursive letters for writing ever hindered a child’s ability to read or write. It was just a guess based on faulty logic, and unfortunately, generations of children have been forced to struggle through the process of learning not only one, but TWO, systems of writing.

    Furthermore, it’s actually easier for children to write in cursive than it is for them to write in the “ball-and-stick” format. This was proven to me over the course of many years as I banged my head in frustration attempting to teach children to begin forming their letters from the top, and, for goodness’ sakes, to PICK UP YOUR PENCIL before you form the next line!!! Oh yes, I remember that frustration quite well!

    See, for children, their natural tendency is to begin a stroke from the bottom,which is where the majority of cursive letters begin. Their other natural tendency is to keep the pencil on the paper to create one continuous stroke until the letter is done, which, again, is how cursive letters are formed. The “ball and stick” or manuscript method requires children to begin strokes at the top and to lift up the pencil between each stroke in order to form neat letters, which feels completely unnatural to the child. Also, consider what kind of strokes a toddler makes when they first pick up a pencil or pen: scribbly lines and loops that closely resemble cursive writing. It just comes more naturally to the hand.

    My frustrating years of teaching handwriting with the ball and stick method only intensified my determination to teach my own child cursive first. Mind you, it’s still not easy, as I have already established. It’s a fine motor skill that takes years to develop, so in the beginning, it’s essential to go very slowly and make sure your expectations are reachable. 

    The Process

    We don’t yet use a curriculum for handwriting, mostly because the ones that teach cursive are few and far between, but we do use a few tools, and we are working systematically through the process, beginning from the easiest point possible.

    Our handwriting training began when he was a toddler, and I gave him plenty of opportunities to use crayons and pencils without instruction on my part. Just getting used to holding a pen or crayon is part of the process, and sometimes you have to make sure it happens.

    When we started doing official “preschool” work at the age of 3, we stuck to lines and never even once tried letters. I found tons of printable worksheets online that contained tracing lines (straight ones, squiggly ones, angular ones, all kinds of lines!) for pre-schoolers to practice their writing skills. At this point, I still didn’t worry too much about the proper position for holding the pencil, because frankly, holding the pencil properly was too difficult for him. If he did hold it properly, he couldn’t write very well anyway, so I never enforced a proper hand position at that age.

    We also did letter-forming exercises without a pencil. There are a lot of ways you can do this:

    • Felt letters – trace them with the fingers
    • Sand or Salt box – fill a box with salt or sand and trace letters in the sand/salt with the fingers
    • Ketchup bag – fill a zippered plastic bag with ketchup and seal it well, making sure air is removed, then trace letters on the outside of the bag, pushing through the ketchup so the letter will show clear
    • Sandpaper letters – same idea as the felt letters, but with sandpaper.

    In K4, our handwriting instruction has become more intentional, but it’s still moving very slowly. Here’s the process we’re following:

  • Begin with elements of cursive: loops, swirls, circles, etc.
  • Begin on a whiteboard, chalkboard, or paper without lines. Just practice making loops, swirls, and circles.
  • Use large lined paper, with at least an inch of space for children to write the letters. At this point, begin giving them a frame of reference regarding size and proportion. Letters begin on the bottom line and either stretch up to the dotted line or all the way to the top line.
  • Almost all handwriting at this point is done by tracing, with the opportunity for the child to practice their own samples once or twice after completing the tracing.
  • Keep practicing the elements, and introduce some of them as letters: a tall skinny loop is “l”, a circle is “o”.
  • Keep tracing! Introduce all the letters.
  • Keep tracing, but increase the opportunities for the child to draw their own samples.
  • Reduce the line size as the child gains confidence.
  • Practice, practice, practice some more.
  • Since I’m not  using a curriculum, I just write the letters myself and have my Certain Little Someone trace over them with his pencil. Sometimes I will start the letter (or part of a letter, like a loop) and have him finish it by himself. At every lesson, I give him an opportunity to write his own letters, but he gets frustrated easily by his inability, so I don’t push it. He will learn to write soon enough!

    Resources

    When it comes right down to it, all you need to teach handwriting is a pencil and a piece of paper. But these other supplies (and even curriculums) will come in handy:

    • Line Tracing Worksheets
    • Dry-Erase Ruled Sentence Strips
    • Dry-Erase Ruled Writing Board
    • Paper Ruled Sentence Strips
    • Handwriting Tablet
    • Ticonderoga Beginner Pencils
    • A Beka Writing with Phonics Cursive – A Beka is one of the few major curriculums that offer a cursive-first program.
    • Cursive First – I actually just discovered this one, and it looks both affordable and effective.

    My Simple Preschool: Days of the Week Printable

    The holidays are over… time to organize! I can help you through the process with my new eBook, “28 Days to De-Clutter”. De-clutter your home in 28 days in only ten minutes a day! And you can receive for FREE a printable packet filled with charts and checklists to help you de-clutter every area of your home. Simply subscribe to my weekly newsletter and you’ll receive this complimentary resource directly in your inbox!

    Last week, I confessed my ineptitude when it comes to math, and shared how I’m dealing with it by going really low-key throughout the pre-school years.

    One thing I’m really focusing on this year is the concept of time: years (seasons), months, weeks, days, hours, minutes. Since I know how to tell time, this is a concept I can handle! Also, my Certain Little Someone had been asking me incessantly about things like days of the week, and what time it is and what time it will be when, etc. etc. After answering the same question approximately 1000 times in one day, I decided it was about time to teach him how to figure these things out for himself.

    Like other aspects of math, time can be an abstract concept, so I knew I needed to visualize it in some way. In particular, he was very curious about the days of the week, so I started there and made a printable chart. I hung it up on his school magnet board, and as we go through the week, we rotate a round magnet through the cycle of days.

    I’m sharing this printable with you in case you, too, have a curious little pre-schooler who wants to know what day it is today, what day it will be tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that. You can hang it on your fridge or a bulletin board and use any kind of marker to keep track of the days – magnets, push pins, etc.

    Click here to download the days of the week printable.

    We also sing a little song to keep the days of the week in order. I keep it very simple, of course. (That’s how I roll, as you might have guessed.) It goes like this:

    Sunday (C)

    Monday (D)

    Tuesday (E)

    Wednesday (F)

    Thursday (G)

    Friday (F)

    Sat. (E) Ur. (D) Day. (C)

    Those letters in parentheses are the notes we sing in case you didn’t catch that! Really we just sing up and down a pentascale (5 notes in a row) – like I said, simple! It really helps my Certain Little Someone memorize the order of the days of the week.

    And, of course, you don’t have to be home-schooling to benefit from this little tool! Just make it part of your morning routine so your little one can easily and quickly learn the days of the week.

    Contact Us on Authenticsimplicity.net

    Get Healthy Get Fit – 12 Weeks to Develop Good Habits

    I’m not into dieting. At best, I think it’s pointless, and at worst, detrimental. Any pounds lost on a temporary diet change will eventually return when the regular diet returns. The evidence suggests that our bodies don’t respond well to deprivation, and that dieting sets up a harmful cycle that will do more harm than good in the end. 

    But I am into developing good habits: healthy habits that can be maintained over the course of the days and weeks (and special occasions) that make up our lives. I’ve allowed some very unhealthy habits to creep into my life in the past couple years, and I’m starting to see the consequences of those now-ingrained choices.

    The fact of the matter is that motherhood and pregnancy changes you. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and yes, physically, you will never be the same person again. In my case, the sweet tooth that I succumbed to far too often during my first pregnancy has never gone away and has begun to show up on my person in the form of undesired extra deposits of fat.

    Healthy Living eBook Bundle SALE {$300 worth of eBooks for only $29!!}

    Welcome back to the Get Healthy & Fit series here at Authentic Simplicity! Joining me are 18 other bloggers, all desirous of improving their health and raising their level of fitness. We each have a different goal in mind and a different plan to reach that goal; and you can follow each blogger’s progress here. Follow along on Twitter and Pinterest as wel

    I discussed my personal goals at length the first week, but to sum up, this is what I’m hoping to do in the course of these 12 weeks:

    • Kick my sugar habit
    • Lose approximately 10 lbs. and a few inches
    • Fit in my clothes
    • Develop sustainable habits like eating more proteins and fewer carbs

    This week, I have a great deal for you to help YOU develop some healthy habits!

    For 5 days only, 27 prominent Healthy Living authors have joined together to bundle 34 of their most popular eBooks, valued at just over $300, for the incredibly low price of $29.

    That’s only $0.87 per book to gain inspiration, encouragement, and the practical resources you need for your own healthy lifestyle. Plus, receive $49 of additional FREE Bonuses, and be entered to win one of 3 great prizes.

    What’s Included in the Sale?

    When you purchase the Healthy Living eBook collection, you will get instant access to each of the 34 eBooks listed below.

    PLUS $49 of FREE Bonuses

    Each Healthy Living eBook Bundle comes with $49 of FREE Bonuses from several of our favorite healthy living companies. Offers include a variety package from Redmond Trading ($21 Value), a FREE 3-Month subscription to Plan to Eat ($15 Value), and a FREE Sourdough Starter or Traditional Buttermilk Starter fromCultures for Health ($13 Value). Click here for more details.

    PLUS get entered to win one of 3 Great Prizes

    Each person who purchases a Healthy Living eBook bundle is automatically entered to win any one of the following 1 Excalibur 9-Tray Dehydrator, 1 Omega VRT350 Masticating Juicer, or a R1 Royal Berkey Water Filtration System (Click here for more details).

    My Simple Preschool – Phonics

    The holidays are over… time to organize! I can help you through the process with my new eBook, “28 Days to De-Clutter”. De-clutter your home in 28 days in only ten minutes a day! And you can receive for FREE a printable packet filled with charts and checklists to help you de-clutter every area of your home. Simply subscribe to my weekly newsletter and you’ll receive this complimentary resource directly in your inbox!

    Join me every week as I show you how me and my 4-year-old Certain Little Someone dosimple preschool at home.

    No curriculum, no pressure, but lots of learning! 

    You’ll have to forgive me, but phonics is a subject about which I am quite passionate. Phonics and reading – the two can hardly be separated – are dear to my heart. Yes, dear to my heart. I know that’s weird, but it’s true. In my Kindergarten-teaching years, phonics was the subject that I absolutely loved to plan and schedule and teach teach teach. By the time my students graduated from my class, I wanted to be sure they were fully grounded in the basic workings of the letters and sounds of the English alphabet!

    All the sounds. Not just the individual alphabet letters, but their combinations and how they work together to create all the sounds that we use in English. And you know what? Once you start breaking it down, it’s not nearly as complicated as it might seem. And it’s a lot more reliable than we often think. Sure, there are plenty of exceptions – English is famous for that! – but there are also plenty of dependable rules and phonograms that can be taught at a very young age. 

    And the best part is this – you don’t really need a curriculum! Any mom can teach her child how to read and spell by teaching phonics in a logical progression. Supplemental accessories like flash cards, worksheets, and basic reading books can be very helpful, but really, an entire curriculum is not essential at all.

    The Goal of Phonics Instruction

    The main goal of phonics instruction is actually two-fold: to learn to read, and to learn to spell. Teaching phonics in and of itself is almost a means of killing both those birds with one stone, but you have to teach it thoroughly. Good phonics instruction includes at least the following elements:

    • Identifying letters and groups of letters and associating them with their corresponding sounds
    • Isolating those sounds visually, aurally and orally
    • Manipulating those sounds to form new (or even nonsense) words,  or rhyming words
    • Recognizing patterns, similarities, and differences in letter groups and words.

    Basic Phonics Lesson Plan Structure

    Each phonics lesson should include elements of these different abilities in order to thoroughly teach the sound in question to the child. This is my basic lesson plan for each new sound:

    • See The Sound/Say the Sound – using flash cards, written letters, or manipulatives to show the letter or group of letters that makes the sound. I demonstrate the sound and ask the child to repeat it.
    • Hear the Sound – say different words containing the sound either at the beginning, middle or end. Most words are familiar to the student, but I also try to throw in some new words to increase their vocabulary and sharpen their listening skills.
    • Read the Sound – the child reads the sound both separately and combined into words (as soon as reading skills are developed).
    • Make or Write the Sound – if a child is capable of writing, listening and dictating exercises can be performed during this section of the lesson. Pre-writing children can practice forming the sound themselves either in sand (contained in a small box) for individual letters, or by using letter tiles (or other manipulatives) to put together individual letters that form the sound in question.

    Sample Phonics Lesson

    Let’s say we’re learning the sound “SH”. Here would be a sample lesson:
    • I write an “S” and an “H” beside each other in the same color on a piece of paper (or whiteboard/chalkboard). I tell my Certain Little Someone that these letters have their own individual sounds when they are by themselves, but when they are beside each other, they work together to create a new sound. That sound is “SH”. I ask him to repeat that sound after me.
    • I then say a bunch of different words: ship, shine, dish, wash, push, etc, emphasizing the “SH” sound and drawing it out. I ask him to think of other words that start or end with “SH” (this skill develops later; he doesn’t do very well with it because he’s not quite 4 yet, but many kindergarteners have enough access to their vocabulary that they can do this well.).
    • Then we play some kind of game that helps him to differentiate between “SH” and other similar sounds like “CH”. For example, I ask him to hold up the “SH” flashcard high above his head if he hears “SH” in the word, but if he doesn’t hear “SH”, he should put the flash card on his lap or on the table. Then I say a list of words like: share, train, cheese, shop, etc.
    • I write words or phonograms (groups of letters/parts of words, for example “ash” or “sho”) for him to read and blend together.
    • For kindergarteners who know how to write, I would dictate words and ask them to write them correctly on a whiteboard or chalkboard. There are lots of different games to be played here as well, and different listening skills that can be applied to different sounds. My Certain Little Someone is still learning how to write, though, so we’re not here yet. Instead we do some kind of activity with manipulatives like letter tiles, where he puts together the right letters to form the sound we’re learning.

    Sequence

    That’s the basic plan for each individual lesson. This is the progression I developed over time that seemed to flow most naturally for my students:
    • Consonants – m, s, r, f, n, l, b, g, j, v, w, z, d, p, c, t, k, qu, x, h, y (Yes, there is a reason for going in just that order. I adapted it from Montessori.)
    • Vowels – a, e, i, o, u
    • CV Blends – ma, fe, do, etc AND/OR am, ef, od, etc. Follow the same progression of consonants above. Younger children require a lot more time on this step than older children. This step should be repeated until a child can see a CV blend and say the blended sound without sounding out.
    • CVC – Once a child is comfortable with the CV blends, add a final consonant (or initial consonant) to form short-vowel words, like cat, dog, etc.
    • Digraphs: sh, ch, th (voiced and unvoiced), wh, ck
    • Long Vowels – introduce orally first, w/o regard to spelling
    • CVCe – I call it the “Magic E” that transforms a short vowel into a long
    • Vowel Digraphs – ai, ay, ea, ee, ie, ie (one says “I”, the other says “E”), oa, oe
    • Consonant Blends – S blends (sc sk sl sm sn sp st), L blends (bl, cl, fl, gl, pl, sl), R blends (br, cr, dr, fr, gr, pr, tr), W blends (dw, sw, tw)
    • 3-Letter Consonant Blends – shr thr, scr, spr, str, spl, squ
    • Diphthongs – aw, au, ew (and ue), ow (and long ow), ou, oo (long and short – moon, book), oi, oy
    • Phonograms – ang, ank, ong, onk, ung, unk, unc, ing, ink, and, ond, ind, ild, old, oll, all, al
    • R-Controlled Vowels – ar, er, ir, or, ur
    • Advanced Phonograms – aught, ought, ight, eigh,
    • Alternate Consonant Sounds – c-“s”, g-“j” (also dge), y-“i”, y-“e”
    • Silent Consonants – gn, kn, wr, mb
    • Suffixes -s, -es, -ing, -er, -or, -ed (It makes 3 different sounds “d”, “t”, “ed”), le, -ly, -ful, -ous, -tion, -sion, -ssion, -ture, -sure,
    • Advanced Consonant Digraphs – gh, ph, wh (h), ch (k), sch, chr
    • W- Controlled Vowels – wa, war, wor
    • Alternate Vowel Sounds – o (u), ou (u), ou (long u), ey (ay), ea (short e), ea (long a), ear (er), ear (air)
    • Contractions – n’t, ‘re, ‘s, ‘ve, ‘s (has), ‘d, ‘ll, ‘m, ‘s (us)
    • Prefixes – a-, al-, re-, pre-, en-, un-, in-, dis-, etc.
    Clearly, once you get to a certain point along this path, the emphasis shifts from reading to spelling because the child will be perfectly capable of reading those sounds… but not necessarily capable of spelling them in all their different formats. It’s essential to teach all of these spellings individually and to learn when each one is used so that the child will eventually be able to spell the English language successfully. Let’s the the “long a” sound for example. It’s not just represented by an “a”. Long A can be spelled in any of the following ways:
    • ai (rain)
    • ay (way)
    • eigh (weigh)
    • ea (steak)
    • a_e (late)
    • ey (grey)
    • a (at the end of a syllable, like la-ter)
    • ei (rein)

    See what I mean? But I found that my kindergarteners, if they were expressly taught each separate sound, quickly learned to differentiate between them and could also successfully spell words using each of these sounds when I dictated them.

    Phonics Resources

    Some great resources for teaching Phonics:

    Phonics A to Z – This is the bomb- diggity for phonics resources. Not only does it thoroughly explain the intricacies of English phonetics, and how to teach them, it offers charts with examples, and lots of different teaching activities and games.

    Phonics Pathways – It follows a slightly different progression from the one I outlined above, but it’s just as effective.

    The authors of both the above books have written other helpful books as well, but those 2 are my favorite.

    Next week, I’ll share how ….

    September-October Menu Plan

    Welcome to our blog,

    UPDATE 10/1: I’ve crossed off the menu items we’ve already enjoyed. Today, I’m going to give these sourdough pitas a try for our dinner, plus I need to get the ball rolling on both dairy and non-dairy yogurts.

    Since I plan my menus monthly now (due to shopping once a month), I am posting them monthly instead of weekly. It may seem odd to post a month’s worth of meal planning in the middle of the month, but I do my monthly shopping trip in the middle of the month, so that’s just how it works out.

    This month’s menu was inspired partly by my Pinterest boards (as usual), but mostly by my collection of eBooks. For your convenience, I’ve linked each recipe to its original source, including the eBook pages. In particular, I found a lot of great recipes in 1001 Slow Cooker Recipes, which is available on Kindle for only $2.99 (as opposed to $13 for print). Not all the recipes are whole-foods, but most of them are.

    I hope you join us the rest of the week here as I continue the 12-week Get Healthy Challenge, and my series on My Simple Preschool.

    Breakfasts

    All breakfasts are served with a side of fruit and usually yogurt.

    • Coconut Granola x2
    • Chocolate Oatmeal Crunch x2
    • Toasted Oatmeal
    • Oat Muffins x 2
    • Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal x4
    • Smoothies & Toast x 4
    • Egg-Free French Toast
    • Pancake Apples
    • Protein Pancakes x 2
    • 5-Minute High Protein Muffins 

    Lunches

    • Leftovers
    • Sunbutter & Jelly Sandwiches
    • Egg Salad Sandwiches
    • Mexican Beans & Rice
    • Creamy Chickpea/Carrot Soup

    Dinners 

    • Pork Shoulder Roast with Noodles 
    • Pulled Pork Sandwiches
    • Chicken Barley Soup
    • Chicken Turkey Meatball Soup
    • Beef-Barley Soup
    • Potato Chowder
    • Greek Baked Eggs
    • Potato Hash
    • Breakfast Strata
    • Mom Holden’s Egg Casserole
    • Stir Fry
    • Tuna Melts
    • Slammin’ Salmon Burgers
    • Citrus Tilapia Flounder
    • Meatball Gyros
    • Lemon Pepper Chicken over CousCous Quinoa
    • Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken
    • Apple Chicken
    • Blackened Fish Sandwich

    Sides

    • Lime Cilantro Rice
    • Dilly Carrots
    • Steamed Carrots x 4
    • Fruit Salad x 4
    • Carrot Cilantro Salad
    • Turmeric Butter Rice
    • Lemon Spaghetti
    • Millet Pilaf

    Snacks
    I’m trying to incorporate more protein-based snacks rather than carb-based snacks.

    • Nuts, Cranberries
    • Popcorn
    • Boiled Eggs
    • Cheese Sticks
    • Chewy Almond Sunflower Seed Butter Granola Bars
    • Nut-Free “Nutella”
    • Cookie Dough Dip
    • Roasted Chickpeas
    • Raw Chocolate Macaroons
    • Beanie Butter Blondies

    In My Kitchen Weekly

    • Sourdough Bread
    • Yogurt
    • Allergen-free Bread
    • Coconut Milk
    • Coconut Milk Yogurt
    • Granola
    • Sour Cream – as necessary
    • Ricotta – as necessary

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {Week 67}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2day Wednesdays!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday is hosted by:

    Rachel of Day2Day Joys

    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady

    Debra of Sweet Kisses Dirty Dishes 

    Anne of Authentic Simplicity (Did you catch the name change?)

    Link up to any of our blogs with your favorite healthy post!

    Top three this week: Since you were one of the three “chosen”… you’ve been Facebooked, Pinned, and Tweeted by Anne!

    Authentic Simplicity is Here!

    If you’re reading this via the RSS feed, you’ll want to click through and see the bee-yoo-ti-ful new design of what used to be Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy. It’s now Authentic Simplicity, which is pretty much the same thing, only it looks and sounds a lot better. 

    There’s more to come; it’s definitely not finished quite yet. I have a couple more pages to add, and I need to organize and fill up the sidebar still (sorry, there’s no search bar at the moment!). But do you see those pretty little social media icons up in the corner? It took me at least 2 hours to figure out how to get them in the right place without cutting off parts of the header or icons or eliminating the content wrap altogether. (I’m totally NOT a geek!) Henceforth and therefore, I had no more time to finish the rest of my blog transformation to-do list, so all that stuff will have to wait.

    Gifting from the Kitchen in Style {the QECH way}: Brown Paper Packages

    Now you can trick out your canisters with the best of them with our blog, and transform your empty egg cartons into muffin holders. We’re going further into upcycling gift wrap territory by using an even lowlier receptacle: the lowly shopping bag. 

    Not a plastic one. I haven’t figured out how to beautify those yet. No, I am speaking of the lovely, sturdy brown paper bags that you can find at places like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or even a few mainstream grocery stores.

    And it doesn’t take much to beautify a brown paper bag, honestly. In fact, all you have to do is cut it apart and wrap it with the outside facing in. Does that make sense to anyone here? No? OK, I’ll try again.

    The Easiest Way to Prepare Steak – Salt “Marinade”

    My DH has had some fun this summer, grilling on our little itty bitty charcoal grill. We had never had one before; I’m not sure why, to be honest! We just never got around to buying one, I guess because it’s a little awkward when you live in an apartment. But around Father’s Day, my DH determined that he was going to get one of those little cheap-o charcoal grills at Target by hook or by crook. Thankfully, neither hook nor crook was necessary, as his brother happened to have an extra one on hand. Still a cheap-o little charcoal grill, but one that had only been used once, and was in great condition. And FREE! Can’t beat free!

    No Butter? No Eggs? You Can Still Make Cookies!

    Pick the most likely scenario:

  • Your kid hands you a crumpled reminder from the teacher that you signed up to bring snack tomorrow. Yes, tomorow. It’s already 9:00 at night, and you are already in your PJs, ready to hit the sack before starting everything all over again tomorrow. You slap your forehead (or knock it against the wall a few times) and stumble to the kitchen, yank open the refrigerator… and just as you suspected: no butter, no eggs. What?! How are you supposed to whip up a snack without such basic ingredients as those?!
  • Your kid wants to have his best friend over for a play date, and you want to provide a special snack. Problem: kid’s best friend is deathly allergic to dairy and eggs. What to do?
  • Your kid is allergic to dairy and eggs and you hate throwing money out the door for safe snacks, so you want to make them yourself. But how do you make cookies without eggs or butter?!
  • (Notice how they all start with “your kid”? Amazing how those little creatures shake our lives up, huh?)

    No matter what the problem is, at our blog we always have a solution: these Happy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies. Yes, happy. And No, I didn’t give them that name, but I like it, so I’ll keep it.

    “But what do they taste like?” I hear you ask as I watch your lip curl in mild disgust? “Cardboard?”, you add with a sneer.

    It may surprise you to learn that this is now by far my most favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. Yes, I said ever. In bold with italics. Because as many different chocolate chip cookie recipes as I have tried, none of them has ever come out with quite this perfection of texture, taste, shape and substance. Who needs butter and eggs? Not me.

    *Ingredient Notes:

    Not the Recipe You’re Looking For?

    Try one of these:

    How to Make the Most of your Grocery Budget Dollars

    If you happen to be on a limited grocery budget (and “limited” looks differently depending on your situation…. let’s just say mine is definitely “limited”!), then you understand how difficult it can be to provide healthy whole foods for your family without dipping into the retirement fund. OK, maybe a slight exaggeration for most of us, but really, it can be very stressful to keep your grocery budget in the black when you’re working with limited funds.

    There are a lot of money-saving tools for your grocery budget toolbox these days, and I believe all of them work well together and all deserve a mention on any frugal foodie blog. But there is one valuable tool in particular that doesn’t get a lot of press yet can be super effective in keeping your grocery spending under budget.

    Cheater’s BBQ

    The crockpot in our blog has got to be the greatest kitchen invention of all time. Actually, it’s a toss-up between that and the dishwasher, but the crockpot might have just the slightest edge. Since I’m a cheapskate, I really love the crockpot because it uses less electricity than the oven and you can cook cheaper cuts of meat in it. And since I don’t consider myself a great cook, I also love that you can throw pretty much whatever in the crockpot and it will turn out fine! Or at least edible. Ha!

    The crockpot is particularly useful for those occasions when you don’t have a lot of time to cook, especially right before it’s time to eat. Yesterday, to celebrate Independence Day, my church had “Dinner on the Grounds”, which is basically a good old-fashioned church picnic. Everyone was asked to bring a chicken dish and a side dish or dessert. Fried chicken is always a favorite, but I say what is the fourth of July without BBQ? The problem is that since church ends noon-ish and the picnic began at one, there wasn’t much time to actually prepare the chicken. I could have cooked it the day before, but then I still would have to warm it up, and a lot of other people have the same idea, so the line for the microwave and the oven can get pretty long. So I pulled out my trusty crock pot for some “Cheaters” BBQ.

    I say “cheaters” because real BBQ is actually barbecued: grilled over a fire of some sort. But Cheaters BBQ is the only kind I have because I currently live in an apartment, and for some reason, they frown on using grills on your balcony!

    But there’s nothing “cheater” about the sauce I used. BBQ sauce is one thing I never buy unless I can get it for super cheap (.50 or less) or free, because it’s so easy to make using basic ingredients that cost less than the jar of sauce. Also, when I make it myself, I don’t have to use HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), which is an unhealthy sweetener used in the majority of store-bought BBQ sauces.

    These are the ingredients I used for my Basic BBQ sauce:

    Nothing fancy, just your basic, plain old barbecue sauce. Not that I have anything against fancier versions (I actually love trying all different kinds of BBQ recipes), but sometimes Quick & Easy is also the Best!

    I poured the ingredients in the following proportions (This is an adaptation of a recipe I found somewhere online; don’t remember exactly where – if you know, let me know!) into my handy-dandy Tupperware Quick Shake Container (I use this all the time for sauces and marinades. It has a little disc at the top that helps to blend the ingredients.) or you can just dump it all into a glass jar:

    Secret Recipe Club: “Clifford” Bars

    It’s time again for the Secret Recipe Club, the part of the show where the bloggers come out and sing their favorite song. Um, I mean blog about their favorite recipe from another blog that has previously (and secretly) been assigned. Which is even more fun on our blogs.

    I was thrilled to be assigned to This Chick Cooks, This Chick being the fabulous Katie, who delivers lots of amazing culinary concoctions on a regular basis, my favorites being the ones that are inspired by store-bought treats and eats.

    I’ve made a few of her recipes before and loved them; I even blogged about my allergen-free version of her Better-Than-Nutrigrain Bars, which were fabulous (and I need to make those again; just thinking about them makes me drool a bit).

    This time around, I kind of went the same route, choosing another granola-bar-like recipe, her Homemade Clif bars, and adapting it to be allergen-free. I just eliminated the nuts, and switched out the peanut butter for sunflower seed butter, so it’s easy enough to make those changes if you desire.

    Oh, and apparently, to a toddler, “Clif bars” just doesn’t cut it. No. They are “Clifford” bars. I am not sure why since they are neither big nor red nor a dog, but… that is what my Certain Little Someone called them and so that is what they are.

    The fact that these are no-bake makes them so QUICK! A nice alternative to traditional granola bars.

    They are also super EASY!

    It is definitely CHEAPer to make these than to buy their counterpart at the store, that’s for sure.

    And, they are relatively HEALTHY as well. I feel good about giving them as a snack for my Certain Little Someone, especially if they take the place of a cookie or other sugary snack, because of the added nutritional elements like the dried fruit and whole grains.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {6/19/2013}

    It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for a sharextravaganza (said no dictionary ever) of healthy and natural living posts. If you’re a blogger you can link up your wisdom, ideas, projects, recipes, whatever you think other people might benefit from reading. This is our weekly gathering of brilliant ideas shared by amazing people who love to experiment with new ways to improve their lives and their health. Browse through the collection… or add your own!

    This is one of those linky parties that is hosted by several bloggers at the same time (see handy graphic below), and we take turns week-by-week choosing the top three posts. This week Steph chose her favorites. Enjoy!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {11/13/2013}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    Would you like to share your ideas for healthy living? Each week we encourage you to link up with ideas, tips, healthy recipes, natural remedies, alternative medicine, going “green”, and more. Even if you don’t have something to share, there’s always something of interest to read or a new idea to find. I can’t tell you you how many lovely blogs I visit each week – it’s great!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by:
    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {10/9/2013}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    We’ve got lots of inspiring healthy ideas for you as usual! Browse through the links, and add your own!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by:
    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {09/11/2013}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    Would you like to share your ideas for healthy living? Each week we encourage you to link up with ideas, tips, healthy recipes, natural remedies, alternative medicine, going “green”, and more. Even if you don’t have something to share, there’s always something of interest to read or a new idea to find. I can’t tell you you how many lovely blogs I visit each week – it’s great!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by:
    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Stephanie of The Cheapskate Cook
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    Paula of Whole Intentions

    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {August 28, 2013}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    Yippee, it’s here again! Wednesday’s the best day of the week because that’s when we get to browse through all sorts of interesting posts linked right up here! I always get some great ideas from H2W, and I hope you do, too.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by:
    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Stephanie of The Cheapskate Cook
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    Paula of Whole Intentions (*wave* hi!)

    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday 2/5/2013

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays

    Happy Wednesday everyone! Thank you so much for stopping by and for linking up your posts with us on our blog. We sure do appreciate it. I love seeing what you share from week to week and I look forward to “Healthy Wednesday” every week! It is so hard to pick the top 3, but because those are the rules, I must oblige. Here goes….

    My Simple Preschool: Reading Pt. 2

    Join me every week as I show you how me and my 4-year-old Certain Little Someone do simple preschool at home.

    No curriculum, no pressure, but lots of learning! 

    Last week, I shared with you my method for teaching reading, and I thought that I would show you a practical example of a preschool reading lesson in action.

    Of course, I don’t want to bore you to tears, so it’s really just a snippet from 2 or 3 lessons, but it should be enough to give you an idea of how a typical lesson goes.

    Another Healthy Fat for Free! {Something from Nothing}

    Once upon a time, thrifty agrarian folks – who were hearty and healthy and rarely suffered from conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes – took great pleasure in the fruits of their labor and enjoyed it to the fullest, wasting not even a morsel or a speck. Especially bacon. They had no qualms about eating bacon every day for breakfast to their heart’s content… and they made sure to save every last drop of the rendered bacon grease to use for frying… or even drinking. (Don’t believe me? Check out this list of grandmas and grandpas who enjoyed their bacon.) For generations, they survived and thrived on bacon (and a few other things of course).

    And then in the twentieth century, a new generation came along and declared that those old folks knew nothing. They were killing themselves eating all that nasty saturated fat! No, no, a healthy diet must include no fat at all. OK, maybe some fats, but only the healthy polyunsaturated kinds. Definitely no saturated fats ever. Oh, wait, no, maybe it’s the trans fats that are the problem.

    And then heart disease sky-rocketed. So did diabetes. And cancer. And all sorts of other first-world diseases.

    Hmmm. Maybe the old folks knew something after all. 

    Me? I figure they were on to something, and I aim to follow their example. If you’re not convinced, read Food Renegade’s primer on healthy fats. Or any number of well-researched and well-written books like The Good Fat Cookbook,  In Defense of Food, Good Calories Bad  Calories, or Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It.

    Which is why I religiously save every bit of bacon grease when frying up bacon and keep a jar of it in my refrigerator at all times. It is absolutely my favorite way to save money and eat healthy.

    Bacon Grease: A Free, Healthy Fat

    In my book, Your Grocery Budget Toolbox (You can get the first chapter free simply by subscribing!), I talk about the importance of prioritizing healthy food so that you know where to spend your hard-earned money. I determined that for myself, healthy fats were of the utmost importance, because those unhealthy fats (that everybody says are so good for us… I’m talking about canola oil, vegetable oil, margarine and the like) can do a lot of damage and I want to avoid that if possible.

    Unfortunately, healthy fats can be very expensive! To really get the good stuff (expeller-pressed, virgin, etc.), you almost need to spend an arm and a leg. Or at least your entire grocery budget. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way, and bacon grease is one of them.

    How to Get Bacon Grease

    I buy uncured, nitrite-free and nitrate-free bacon at Trader Joe’s for $3.99 a pound (Grass-fed would be better if you can afford it.) and fry the entire batch up at once. I make sure to fry it at low or medium heat so as not to burn the grease and get all kinds of little black specks in it, as it’s not quite so good (or good for you) then (although some people disagree with me on that). Once all the bacon is cooked, I give the pan and the grease a chance to cool off a little, then I pour the liquid grease through a mesh sieve into a jar. I let it cool completely, and then I store the jar in the fridge.

    Some sources say the bacon grease will last a month; others say it will last indefinitely. Saturated fats are pretty stable (which is one reason why they are so healthy), so I personally think it lasts significantly longer than a month. At any rate, it doesn’t stick around here for too much longer than that because I use it for everything!

    How I Use Bacon Grease

    Although it has a very strong bacon flavor, bacon grease goes well with just about everything. (Bacon makes everything better, dontcha know?) Some of my favorite uses are:

    • frying eggs (Mmmmmm!)
    • sauteing vegetables
    • panfrying meat
    • greasing a pan
    • cooking green beans (I should have bought green beans at the farmers’ market today)
    • refried beans

    Our blog have other great ideas for using bacon grease:

    Or maybe you’re in the mood for Bacon Grease Chocolate Chip Cookies?

    Do you save your bacon grease?

    Did you know you can also save chicken fat?

    5 Questions to Ask Your Essential Oil Company (Or, How to Find a Reputable Source for Essential Oils)

    To say that there is a lot of confusion out there about essential oils is sort of like saying that Niagara Falls is kinda big. In other words, it’s a gross understatement. No matter your query or how it’s worded, any internet search about essential oils is bound to bring up conflicting information, making it extremely difficult for a novice to sort through it all and find the kernels of truth hidden in all the hyperbole.

    One of the most difficult questions to settle is the most basic: how do I know if the essential oils I’m using are quality oils? One fact that is uncontested in the aromatherapy world is that essential oils are notorious for being adulterated, and even experts admit it can be difficult for them to determine for certain if oils have indeed been adulterated. If even the experts have trouble, where does that leave the rest of us?!

    Girl, Eat Your Breakfast!

    Don’t miss a single exciting post on our blog in my Women’s Wellness Seriessubscribe today! We’re talking about all aspects of women’s health. Follow my Women’s Wellness board on Pinterest for even more great articles and product recommendations.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say, “I’m just not a big breakfast eater.”

    Um, hello. Didn’t your mama ever tell you it’s the most important meal of the day? Not that you should skip any meals, but you definitely shouldn’t skip breakfast. 

    Do you really expect to be able to function on an acceptable level when your body hasn’t been fed since the night before? The reason (at least one reason) we eat is to provide energy and nutrition to our body. If you haven’t done that, your body’s just not going to work the way it’s supposed to. Your mind isn’t going to think straight, your body’s going to lack energy and be sluggish… and worst of all, you’re more than likely going to gain some weight. 

    Yep, it’s true. Studies have proven that women who skip breakfast gain weight.

    Just What the Doctor Ordered: Crockpot Greek Chicken

    I haven’t posted much on my blog recently because I have been doing the following:
    *trying to nurse my Certain Little Someone back to health
    *taking him to the doctor (oh, and the ER!)
    *trying to rest (and failing)
    *trying to nurse myself back to health
    *taking myself to the doctor.

    One more doctor’s visit tomorrow, and I think (I hope) we’ll be done with that for a while! As it was, today I had a doctor’s appointment for myself right around the time I would normally be cooking dinner; and on top of that, it’s DH’s softball night, so eating later than usual was not an option. Crockpot to the rescue! I love that thing!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday 12/4/2013

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    Each week we encourage you to link up with ideas, tips, healthy recipes, natural remedies, alternative medicine, going “green”, and more. Even if you don’t have something to share, there’s always something of interest to read or a new idea to find.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by:
    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    Paula of Whole Intentions

    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    This week’s Top Three Picks have been picked by Anne.

    Congratulations! Your posts have been shared on Facebook/Twitter and our Healthy 2Day Wednesday Pinterest board.

    Thieves Oil: The Super-Oil

    It’s not an exaggeration to say that Thieves Oil was the deciding factor in helping me determine which essential oil company I wanted to use and recommend. There are a lot of good companies out there, and I’m not really interested in debating the merits of one over the other, but for me personally, Thieves Oil was the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {9/4/2013}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    Would you like to share your ideas for healthy living? Each week we encourage you to link up with ideas, tips, healthy recipes, natural remedies, alternative medicine, going “green”, and more. Even if you don’t have something to share, there’s always something of interest to read or a new idea to find. I can’t tell you you how many lovely blogs I visit each week – it’s great!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by: Rachel of Day2Day Joys Stephanie of The Cheapskate Cook Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady Anne of Authentic Simplicity Paula of Whole Intentions

    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    No top 3 this week, due to holiday weekend, we took some time to be with our families!

    How to join this week’s fun:

    Link up to any of our blogs with your favorite healthy post.

    Guidelines for this Link-Up:

    • Share an idea, tip, recipe, things to avoid, something new to try, natural remedy, alternative medicine, going “green” tips, etc. that will help us to remain or become more healthy!
    • If this is your first time participating read more info & get button here (also find the “I’ve been featured” button there)
    • Comment on another participant’s post, this builds community.
    • Add button or link back to that day’s link up.
    • Spread the word so we can learn more ideas on keep our families healthy; feel free to share on Facebook or Twitter.
    • Ideas: homebirths, natural remedies, an interesting article, something eco-friendly, a review, natural cleaner, alternative or holistic approaches to health, how to’s, the list goes on & on!
    • If you are adding a recipe, make sure the ingredients do not include white flour, refined sugar, processed products, packages products (unless it is clearly stated or pictured that it is organic or all natural) and the like. We are looking for whole food recipes that are beneficial to our health.
    • If you have any questions regarding H2W’s, please contact Rachel.
    • If you’re not participating today, I hope you’ll come back on Authentic Simplicity & join in next week!

    Remembering Daniel of The Haggis and The Herring with Toasted Chickpeas

    I was saddened last week to hear of the sudden passing of a fellow food blogger, Daniel of The Haggis and The Herring. I was further saddened to learn that not only did he leave behind his wife, Meredith, who often appeared on his blog either in her own words or his, but that his wife was expecting their third child. My heart and my prayers go out to this family for their comfort and peace in the middle of their bereavement .

    My food-blogging friends from the Secret Recipe Club and I are joining today to honor Daniel and his legacy by cooking up recipes from his blog and sharing them together with you. If you’ve never been to The Haggis and The Herring, you are in for a treat! He and Meredith have compiled quite a list of international and ethnic goodies that they’ve tested and tasted and approved. I love trying out foods from different cuisines, so I always have fun browsing through his recipe directory.

    How to Use Stevia Plus A List of Stevia Recipes


    Welcome back to the Get Healthy & Fit series here at Authentic Simplicity! Joining me are 18 other bloggers, all desirous of improving their health and raising their level of fitness. We each have a different goal in mind and a different plan to reach that goal; and you can follow each blogger’s progress here. Follow along on Twitter and Pinterest as well!

    I discussed my personal goals at length the first week, but to sum up, this is what I’m hoping to do in the course of these 12 weeks:

    • Kick my sugar habit
    • Lose approximately 10 lbs. and a few inches
    • Fit in my clothes
    • Develop sustainable habits like eating more proteins and fewer carbs

    Types of Stevia, and Which Ones to Use

    I’ve mentioned before that I’m using stevia more and more as a sweetener, and I’ve almost completely eliminated sugar (cane sugar) from my diet. I don’t eat sugar at all at home, and I try to keep my consumption of it minimal when I’m eating elsewhere. Personally, I think it’s the best thing anyone can do for their health!

    Stevia is a great replacement for sugar because it doesn’t raise the glycemic levels, which is good news for people like me who are purposely reducing carbs and sugar for that very reason. Of course, food manufacturers see the money available here, and are doing everything they can to profit from this trend, which inevitably results in a watered down, less-than-healthful product.

    Consequently, you’ll see all kinds of stevia sweeteners popping up in stores everywhere, but not all of them are created equal. Real Food Forager and Kitchen Stewardship both have done a lot of research about stevia and have written great posts about the different kinds and which ones you should use. Since my information on stevia largely comes from them, I will direct you to their work instead of attempting to reinvent the wheel.

    Suffice it to say, your best bet with commercially available stevia is the liquid form, preferably glycerin-based rather than alcohol-based. Powdered stevia (with the notable exception of the SweetLeaf brand) is often highly processed with added chemicals and sugars, which, in my opinion, makes it a less desirable option. I do still occasionally use it, but mostly because I received a whole package of different types of stevia in a giveaway, and I hate to waste them! (You know how I feel about food waste!)

    In an ideal situation, you could grow your own stevia and make your own stevia liquid from that. I was actually attempting to do exactly that this year, but something happened to my plant and the whole thing turned black. I am thinking it was a little cold snap we had, but since none of my other plants were affected, I’m not really sure. I still plan to order some dried stevia online and make my own liquid, which is also an option if you’re not up to growing your own stevia.

    How to Use Stevia

    Since stevia is a LOT sweeter than sugar, you only have to use a few drops of it per serving. As you can imagine, this complicates the process of baking, where the ratio of dry to wet ingredients is important. I also find that stevia – even liquid stevia – can negatively impact the taste of the finished product unless you use the more highly processed powdered stevia products that act as a one-to-one sugar replacement. My personal opinion is that I don’t really like baked goods made with stevia alone, so when I do bake with it, I usually prefer to use part stevia and part other sweetener (such as honey or palm sugar).

    I use my stevia all the time in beverages and raw foods, though. You have to play with it a bit to find your personal level of desired sweetness, but I find that 5 drops is the perfect amount in my cup of coffee.

    Other easy uses for stevia that don’t require a recipe:

    • Oatmeal
    • Yogurt
    • Smoothies
    • Tea
    • Lemonade
    • Dips (I love to mix peanut butter, plain yogurt, cocoa, and a little bit of stevia for a great apple dip!)
    • Whipped Cream

    I also have used liquid stevia with good success in vinaigrettes and other dressings, as well as tomato sauce. I just add a few drops until I get the desired level of sweetness.

    Stevia Recipes

    If you’re not familiar with stevia, it’s best to start with recipes that have already been adjusted rather than attempting to substitute your favorites. Once you’ve experimented with it, you’ll get a better handle on how to work it into your regular recipe repertoire (hey, say that 3 times fast!).

    To get you a head start, here are some great recipes (most of them I’ve tried myself, but some of them are on my to-try list) that use stevia:

    This Week’s Update

    Unfortunately, there was an upward trend on the scale this week, which I am blaming entirely on Aunt Flow (Dad-Blast that woman!). The measurements continue to creep downward every so slowly.

    Here are my current stats that I will update every Monday:

    Weight: 135 (up almost a pound)

    Waist (inches): 30-31

    Butt: 40

    Find out how the other ladies are doing with their weight loss efforts and other goals by clicking on the image below.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday {Week 74}

    Welcome back to Healthy 2day Wednesdays!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday is hosted by:

    Rachel of Day2Day Joys

    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady

    Anne of Authentic Simplicity

    And SPECIAL thanks to Debra of Sweet Kisses Dirty Dishes for hosting with us for a few months, she had to step down from hosting.

    We are looking for another host! If you are interested, please email any of the hosts to find out more!

    Link up to any of our blogs with your favorite healthy post!

    Make Your Own Dairy – Ghee

    One of my resolutions this year was to make more of my own dairy products: cheese, butter, sour cream, and the like. And while I’ve actually conquered quite a few of the items on my list, so far, I’ve only shared Sour Cream and Homemade Yogurt with you here.  It’s about time to make another item on my list, so today I will show you how to make ghee.

    What’s Ghee?

    Ghee is butter that has been boiled down to remove the milk solids, leaving behind only the fat. It has a caramel-esque flavor that, if possible, improves upon the amazingness that butter already is.

    What Do You Do With Ghee?

    Anything that you would do with butter! It’s particularly useful for frying because it has a higher smoke point than butter does. I have used it instead of straight butter in some baking recipes, too, but because it’s pure fat (all the sugars and water have been cooked out), it can be a little more greasy, so you do have to make some adjustments when baking.

    Banana Oatmeal Donuts

    I just love it when I find a recipe that is so delicious I can’t resist it, and yet is healthy enough that I don’t feel the least bit guilty indulging. This is just such a recipe! These tasty and healthy donuts are made from whole grains, fruit, and healthy fats, with no refined sugars. They’re also egg-free, wheat-free and dairy-free if you’re on a limited diet. And they don’t taste like any of that! They just taste like yummy. Want the recipe? Get it at the Grain Mill Wagon: Banana Oatmeal Donuts.

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday

    Welcome back to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!

    Would you like to share your ideas for healthy living? Each week we encourage you to link up with ideas, tips, healthy recipes, natural remedies, alternative medicine, going “green”, and more. Even if you don’t have something to share, there’s always something of interest to read or a new idea to find. I can’t tell you you how many lovely blogs I visit each week – it’s great!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesdays is happily hosted by:
    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    Paula of Whole Intentions (*wave* hi!)

    Please stop by all our blogs for great ideas on living healthy lives!

    The BEST Homemade Dishwasher Detergent {In My Humble Opinion}

    OK folks. First of all, before we get to the good stuff (i.e., the dishwasher detergent recipe… if you want to call it that), I have a disclaimer. Actually two.

    Disclaimer #1: Those are not my dishes in the above picture. That is not actually my picture. The reason being that my kitchen has absolutely NO natural light and the only pictures I could take of my dishwasher were dull, lifeless and dark. Not a pretty start to the blog post, so I borrowed a photo from a gentleman named David Locke. Thanks, David!

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday 1/16/13

    Healthy 2Day Wednesday is hosted by:

    Rachel of Day2Day Joys
    Carrie of Young Living Oil Lady
    Anne of Authentic Simplicity
    Paula of Whole Intentions
    Stephani of The Cheapsake Cook

    and this month’s guest host is Lisa of HappyinDoleValley

    Take a minute or two and get to know all the hosts of H2W (really, you should. They’re awesome.) Stop by a few of our blogs and see what we are all about. Then maybe leave a comment because who doesn’t love those?

    Is There Such a Thing as Affordable Essential Oils?

    Why Essential Oils?

    I am thankful that my mom raised me to be wary of conventional medicine: she wasn’t afraid to use it when necessary, but she much preferred to treat our common childhood ailments with her well-stocked arsenal of home remedies and basic natural treatments, only trotting us off to the doctor when absolutely necessary. I recall phases where she gave us all garlic supplements to ward off colds and flu, which were apparently running rampant at the time. And I recall one instance when she tried to make us all drink carrot garlic juice in an effort to rid our family of some respiratory illnesses that were plaguing us for months (thankfully, since I had finally personally recovered from the flu myself, I got a pass on that particular treatment).

    Easy Protein-Rich Snacks

    At this point in my life, I have no desire to go on GAPS, and the Paleo diet does not particularly appeal to me, but I have lately been endeavoring to shift the balance of proteins vs. carbs in my diet. I don’t want to eliminate carbs completely because I feel that they play an important nutritional role; but I do want to be more cautious about consuming carbs in excess, and I want to focus on carbs that are refined as little as possible.

    Unfortunately, snacking has proven to be my downfall: It appears I’ve really gotten into the habit of eating carb-laden foods in between meals! Popcorn, homemade cookies or granola bars, dried fruits and the like are all go-to snacks for me. Not that those things are inherently unhealthy – they’re not – it’s just that I eat too much of them.

    When to Pack What When Moving {Tips for the DIY Move}

    When faced with the daunting task of packing up every single one of your belongings in order to move (across town, across country, doesn’t matter), it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. I’ve moved a few times; I know the feeling! You have no idea when to pack what when you’re moving.

    This past move, I had less than 3 weeks to get everything we owned packed up and ready to go, and I do believe I did a decent job of it. My DH felt like we had a few too many odds and ends that were moved as-is (by which I mean, not packed into boxes) when it came right down to it, but honestly, I’m not sure how most of that could have been packed in a box anyway. And I will freely admit that packing up the random stuff in the kitchen was down to the wire! But hey, I was working on a super-tight deadline, so I’m thinking I did pretty well.

    How to Pack Jewelry {Tips for the DIY Move}

    If you’ve ever moved, you know how much of a pain it is! Along with the stress of finding a place to live, there’s the financial stress of relocating, not to mention the emotional and physical stress involved. Since I just went through a move myself, I thought I’d share a few tips on Authentic Simplicity that I discovered along the way that might make it easier for you if you are about to embark on the adventure of moving!

    Jewelry is one of those things that can be difficult to pack, especially if you don’t have a jewelry box (and even if you do). You don’t want to be left with a mass of orphaned earrings, knotted necklaces, and broken clasps when you arrive at your new home! I hit upon a nearly perfect solution for storing and packing jewelry during my last move, and I’m really excited to share it with you.

    Eat Well on Less

    Is your grocery budget toolbox fully stocked? Do you have all the tools you need to buy the best food possible at the best price possible?

    We all want to feed our families healthy food, and we all went to do so without feeling like we’re flushing money down the drain.

    If your toolbox is empty, I’m here to help! I’ve spent the past 5 or 6 years honing my money-saving skills, particularly in the area of grocery shopping, and I’ve compiled everything I’ve learned into one fabulous and comprehensive resource.