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

5 Questions You Need to Ask your Essential Oil  Company #essentialoils #youngliving #ylessentialoilsTo 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?!

I have been researching this question (and many others regarding aromatherapy) for the past couple years; and although I haven’t come up with any “foolproof” way to determine the quality of an essential oil, my research has taught me what I should look for in an essential oil company, and what kinds of questions I should ask when considering a purchase.  My growing knowledge of essential oils and essential oil quality has only confirmed for me that I made the right choice in my source of essential oils, and I hope to help others achieve the same confidence! So many people are curious about the oils and interested in using them, but overwhelmed by the options and the questions that abound.

Companies throw around terms like “therapeutic grade”, “natural”, and “organic” to the extent that those terms have become almost meaningless, so it’s difficult to sort through the marketing hype and find out what’s really going into the bottles they sell. Any company trying to sell you some of their oils is going to insist that theirs is the real deal, and unadulterated, but clearly they’re not all telling the truth. If you’re searching for a reliable source of pure essential oils, I have a list of 5 questions you need to ask any company that you are researching to determine if they really are selling the real deal or not. 

5 Questions You Need to Ask your Essential Oil  Company #essentialoils #youngliving #ylessentialoils1. Do the oils come from indigenous plants?

Plants are living things, and the essential oils that come from them prove that by their widely varying makeup. A lavender plant grown in France will produce a very different oil from a plant grown in, say, Canada. The reason is because the compounds in the essential oil are developed specifically for the protection, nourishment, and propagation of the plant they come from; and the needs of the plant will vary depending on a lot of factors including soil, climate, and pests. Aromatherapy has developed around the concept that certain plants have certain therapeutic properties… but those properties aren’t guaranteed to exist in a plant that has been grown outside its natural habitat. One oft-recommended essential oil company sources many of its oils from India, which is fine if you’re in the market for jasmine oil (actually an absolute), but not so fine if you’re looking for eucalyptus, which is native to Australia.

2. Do you own any of the farms or distilleries?

The majority of essential companies out there are merely distributors and not producers. This is an important distinction, because the further removed the distributor is from the process, the more opportunity there is for the oil to be adulterated. And the less a company has control over the essential oil production, the less they even know about the possibility of the oil being adulterated. Their sources may swear to the integrity of their oils, but how can a distributor know that for sure unless they are involved in the daily production process? I am much more comfortable purchasing from a company that has their hands in the process from beginning to end; and I’m extremely confident in a company that controls the process from beginning to end. 

3. What kind of tests do you run on the oils?

Most companies will boast that they run a GC/MS (Gas Chromotography Mass Spectrometry) test on the oils, and that’s a good start. Much has been made of the GC/MS test in online circles in recent years, but honestly, that particular test doesn’t really tell you a whole lot about the oil. It can tell you if there are any chemical solvents added to the essential oil, and it can tell you if the oil has the generally expected number of various chemical compounds that it should… but it can’t tell you if each of those compounds are natural or manufactured, and it can’t tell you if they all came from the same plant or were pulled from a variety of different plants.

An essential oil can pass the GC/MS test and be declared 100% natural when that might not, in fact, be the case. It’s entirely possible (and actually happens all the time according to chemists and aromatherapists in the know) for an essential oil to be labeled as “lavender”, for example, when it’s really compounded from several different other (cheaper) plants. The problem is that when the oil is pieced together like this, it doesn’t work as it should for therapeutic purposes, because – as I mentioned at the beginning – plants are living things. Genuine plant oils cannot simply be manufactured from this and that; an effective essential oil is the oil in its entirety.

4. What quality control measures do you have in place?

This question ties in directly to the last 2 questions. Because most companies are merely distributing an end product, and not actually producing said product, the only quality control measure they can take is on the back end. Their control over the seeds, cultivation, harvest, and distillation is minimal at best because they have no actual say over the production process. Their only option is to accept or refuse the final product based on their own observations and/or tests. And typically, the only test they run is the GC/MS test, which as I have shown is limited in its scope.

Having said that, there are a few companies that either own the farms and distilleries producing the oils, or they have an ownership investment of some kind (almost like share-cropping) in the farms and/or distilleries. Those companies are the ones that can actually control the production process to one extent or another, and those companies should have some quality control measures in place. Such quality control measures should include things like the choice of seeds used for planting (Heirloom? GMO?), quality of soil, pest prevention measures, harvesting procedures, distillation standards, etc. The more a company can tell you about the measures they take, the more confident you can be in their final product. 

5. Are the plants grown organically?

This is a no-brainer, really. You don’t want chemical pesticides ending up in your bottle of therapeutic essential oil! Organic labeling gets complicated, though, with the vast majority of oils being sourced internationally with different countries regulating “organic” in very different ways. So it’s better to ask some pointed questions about how exactly the plants are protected from insects and disease. The best oil companies use organic and natural planting methods that do not leave any kind of chemical residue on the plants that could make its way into the essential oil. 

As I mentioned in the beginning, the more I learn, the more confident I am in my own personal choice of essential oil brand. I’m sure there are other reputable and reliable brands out there, but to date I have not found any that answer these questions more satisfactorily.

Edited to Add: A fellow “oiler” actually did her homework and called a bunch of different popular essential oil companies, and asked them these and other questions. Here is a chart she made showing their answers:

questions to ask an essential oil company

If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils, how they are made, how they are adulterated, and how you can use them medicinally, I highly recommend the book “The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils” by Kurt Schnaubelt.  (That’s an affiliate link there; you’ve been warned!)

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Teaching with Heart – Printables from Love. Laugh. Teach.

20% off #teachercreated resources #printablesA couple years ago when I was doing preschool at home with my Certain Little Someone, I came across an amazing resource that I wished had been around back in the day when I was teaching K5. And now that I’m once again teaching preschool (K3 this time), I’m ever so grateful I live in this age of internet technology when I can access creative printables and other teacher tools at the drop of a hat… without dropping a ton of money! 

Teachers Pay Teachers

The resource I speak of is Teachers Pay Teachers, and I love the concept: all the material available is developed by actual teachers who’ve actually used what they’re selling. It’s totally a win-win all around, because the teacher who developed the material gets a little money on the side for all her (or his) hard work, and the teacher who purchases it receives a high-quality resource that does exactly what she needs without costing an arm and a leg.

Another thing I love about Teachers Pay Teachers is that the majority of what is available is very specific, so instead of buying a big huge $20 book full of printables, and using only a few pages, you can find – and pay for – only exactly what you need and only what will work for you.

So far, I haven’t created a lot of my own printables to sell on TPT, but my sister, who teaches K4/K5, has her own store on TPT where she offers printable worksheets for math and phonics. She currently targets a K5/1st grade level with the various worksheets she has available.

file0001694774604Love. Laugh. Teach.

Each of her sets focuses on a particular skill – patterning, for example, or consonant blends – and drills through that skill in a progressive fashion, starting with easier tasks, and continuing until the student achieves mastery of the skill in question. Because of their targeted focus, her printable sets are perfect for anyone who needs extra work on a particular skill, or to use as supplementary seatwork or homework to really internalize a concept.

One of my favorite resources she offers is Simple Addition Word Problems for Beginner Readers. What I love about this one in particular is that it is uniquely designed for emerging readers who are just figuring out how to sound out simple words – I don’t think I’ve ever seen word problem practice worksheets written with that skill level in mind! It’s perfect for your student who loves math but isn’t so great with reading, and/or your little kindergartener/first-grader who could use a little practice with word problem skills but can’t quite read the more complicated ones.

My sister’s store on TPT is very appropriately called “Love. Laugh. Teach.” Since my class is right next door to hers, I can attest to the fact that she loves her students and they love her… and there certainly is a great deal of laughter going on! Follow her on Facebook here.

From now until Tuesday, April 8, you can purchase any product in the Love. Laugh. Teach. store for 20% off! No coupon code or secret handshake necessary. This is your perfect opportunity to check out the wonderfulness that is Teachers Pay Teachers, while supporting a teacher at the same time… and getting a good deal for yourself! I tell ya, win-win all around.

Whether you are a homeschooler or a school teacher, trust me, you’ll love what you find at Teachers Pay Teachers. So what are ya waiting for? Go check it out!

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Super Simple Learning {Review & Giveaway}

Win a copy of Super Simple Songs DVD

Win a copy of Super Simple Songs DVD

Boy you guys are spoiled! Right on the heels of the Einkorn Berries giveaway from Tropical Traditions, I have another awesome little gift for one lucky reader.

Today it’s a copy of the “Super Simple Songs” DVD from the folks over at Super Simple Learning, a great company with some wonderful resources for anyone working in early childhood education… or any mom of littles. 

Learning with Songs

My class of 2- and 3-year-olds got to review this gem of a DVD during our weekly Friday morning “movie” time, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. The songs are easy to sing along with and engaging, which can sometimes be quite the feat for children this age. What’s more, I found the graphics and videography to be very professional and well-done, a refreshing sight in a world full of cheap and (let’s be honest) crappy children’s videos.

Trust me, children know when a video is of less than stellar quality, and it won’t hold their attention for very long at all. You’ll have no such problems with this DVD, which was designed to match the pace and attention span of preschool-aged viewers. I think any child 18 months to 3 years of age will have fun watching and singing along with all the short clips found on Super Simple Songs.

Sample Super Simple Learning’s work by checking out their YouTube channelI particularly love the phonetic alphabet song, which introduces the letters by their sound rather than their name. My phonics-teaching heart thrills a little at the thought! Watch it right here:

If you’d like to purchase the DVD for yourself (ahem, I mean for your children), you can get a digital download for $13.99 or order a hard copy for $16.99. Whether or not you’ve embarked on formal preschool education for your sweet little one, the songs on this DVD will help them learn the basics of their age range: letters, numbers, days, months, etc. Plus, they’ll get a chance to work on their motor skills as well by mimicking the actions shown on the video. All of that put to music means a well-rounded mini-education in 30 minutes at a time! 

Super Simple Learning also has some great resources for moms and teachers on their website, including printables, flash cards, crafts, and more.

Win a copy of Super Simple Songs

If you’d like a chance to win this DVD, enter below. Please note this giveaway is only open to US residents aged 18 or older. The giveaway will end on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at midnight, at which time a winner will be chosen randomly by Giveaway Tools. This giveaway is sponsored and fulfilled by Super Simple Learning, and I am not responsible for ensuring that you receive your prize. The winner will be contacted and will have 48 hours to respond with their information in order to receive their prize, or another winner will be selected.

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Why I Use Young Living Essential Oils

Young Living Essential Oils #yleo #essential oils If you are interested in using essential oils as an alternative to chemical-based medications, then you’ve probably come across at least a few different brands, all of them claiming to be the best for one reason or another. The information out there is often conflicting, always biased, and extremely difficult to sort through.

I can’t tell you definitively which brand of essential oils (EO’s) is the best, but I can tell you why I chose to use Young Living oils almost exclusively. I’m not writing this post to bash any other essential oil companies out there – I have no reason to do that – but simply to explain what benefits led me to choose YL over other brands in the event that my decision-making process is helpful to someone else out there researching the available options.

Why I Use Young Living Essential Oils

  • History – Young Living has over 20 years built into the industry, giving them plenty of time to learn about and invest into the oils they sell, as well as plenty of time to develop a reputation. Many of the brands out there have popped up seemingly overnight (certainly that is not true of all of them, and surely there are companies even older than YL, but I am not speaking of those on this point), and are relative unknowns as far as I am concerned. It is awfully easy for those start-ups to be here today and gone tomorrow. Young Living is not a start-up or an unknown entity, and that’s enough to edge it out over others that were recommended to me.
  • Reputation – Twenty years has given Young Living plenty of time to develop a reputation, and aside from those who are skeptical of any alternative medicine, that reputation is a very good one. The vast majority of people who have used Young Living oils have been very pleased with them and found them to be of high quality. I can count on one hand the number of negative reviews I’ve read in terms of the performance of Young Living’s oils. 
  • Quality – The quality of the oils is what is behind their strong reputation. Much has been made online of Gas Chromatography /Mass Spectrometry testing, but in reality that test only tells the beginning of the story when it comes to essential oils. Young Living performs a total of 7 tests on every batch of oil that passes through their facilities and onto their customers, and if the oils don’t pass the tests, they don’t sell them. Even so, that’s not enough to establish the quality of the oils, because once again, each of those tests tells only part of the story. The chemical makeup of an essential oils depends on so many factors, all of which are highly variable, so YL makes sure that optimum conditions exists in all those factors. Starting with the seed of the plant, and continuing with its cultivation and harvest, YL monitors every step of the way to ensure that the highest quality oil is the end result. If you don’t believe me, read this summary from a chemist that explains in detail all the efforts YL takes to ensure a quality product.
  • Training and Support – If I ordered a random oil from a random company online, chances are I’m left to sink or swim when it comes to using that oil. Sure, a quick google search will tell me the basics about any particular oil. Or I could read tomes and tomes of textbooks about oils, their chemistry, their usage, etc, and I probably will (I’ve already read a few!). But what has helped me more than anything has been the support of my sponsor and the rest of the folks on her team. Any time I have a question, I know where to go, and someone on the team always has an answer for me! Young Living’s company structure was intended to create that network of support so that no one is left in the dark on how to use their oils. As my own team grows, my desire is to create that same environment of training and support that has been so beneficial to me.
  • Thieves’ Oil! – This proprietary blend is produced only by Young Living, and although others have similar products, this is the one I kept hearing about over and over and over again. I haven’t been disappointed with this powerful oil, and I always make sure to have some on hand. I clean and disinfect with it, and I use it whenever someone in my family gets sick! I have seen it first hand cut colds and the like short when they’ve already started, and I’ve also seen it prevent various sicknesses from passing through the family from one person to the next. Good stuff, I tell you.

Reasons Why YOU Might Like Young Living Oils

Some more for you to consider as you make your decision:

  • Young Living has grown 75% in the past year! That’s some pretty incredibly amazing word-of-mouth sales going on there!
  • Young Living’s wholesale price (available to distributors) is comparable to a lot of the companies I’ve seen online, plus you have the option to enroll in their Essential Rewards autoship program, which allows you to earn bonus points you can use towards free oils! I’ve received 4 or 5 free bottles of oil in the past 6-8 months. When other companies imply that they are cheaper than YL, that’s probably because they’re comparing against the full retail price.
  • Young Living makes it easy for you to get the wholesale price – all you have to do is purchase a starter kit (from $40-150) and then make another $50 purchase within the year. No other commitment, but all the benefits of having a wholesale account.
  • Of the major brands, Young Living is the only one I know of that owns and operates their own farms and produces their own oils. Not all of their oils are produced in this way, but quite a few of them are. Some of those farms are based in the US, and some of those farms are based in other countries where the plants are indigenous to that area.

If you think you’d like to give Young Living oils a try, I’d be happy to have you join my team! Visit my Young Living website for more information. 

Please note that I am not a doctor and I am not dispensing medical advice. I’m simply sharing what I use for my own family. 

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Maty’s All Natural {And Effective} Cough Syrup {Plus Giveaway!}

This is a sponsored post.  Thanksgiving will be here in just one short day, and then in one short month… Christmas! Wow, it’s coming up fast!

And somewhere in the midst of all the festivities, another not-so-joyous season will creep in unwelcome and unannounced: I am speaking of flu season, of course. And even if you don’t get the flu, chances are you’re going to catch one of the many colds flying around this time of year, so now’s a good time to stock up on your remedies.

But forget those antihistamines, NSAID’s, and any other cold meds that line the drugstore shelves – you won’t need them. Trust me, there are a multitude of effective and safe natural remedies that quickly relieve cold symptoms while helping your body to heal faster without side effects.

Safe Natural Remedies from the Drugstore

As you know, I like to use essential oils whenever possible in treating various illnesses in my family. I also employ time-honored home remedies and the occasional homeopathic medicine when I find it useful. I also always like to keep a few ready remedies on hand for those winter illnesses that are sure to come: cough syrup and chest rub, for example. Sure, I could make them myself – I have before – but in this busy time of year, I like to have something on hand I can trust.

A frank little side note here: to be perfectly  honest, I don’t always find the homemade remedies to be as effective as some store-bought ones. Just sayin. 

An effective – but natural and safe – remedy I make sure to always have on hand this time of year is cough syrup. Tiger Cub in particular seems susceptible to coughs whenever he has a cold, sometimes with coughing fits that keep him up at night and make him miserable. I’ve found that while raw honey itself is only partially effective, a honey-based mixture like Maty’s All Natural Cough Syrup knocks the cough out almost instantly.

Check out the ingredients in this cough syrup:

  • buckwheat honey
  • zinc
  • grapefruit seed extract
  • celtic sea salt
  • lemon peel
  • lemon balm
  • apple cider vinegar
  • cinnamon
  • cayenne pepper

This stuff packs a punch! (And yeah, I have most of those ingredients in my kitchen, but do I have time to whip up my own cough syrup? Uh, no. Not hardly!) As a matter of fact, Tiger Cub has a cold right now, and last night his cough was keeping him awake: as soon as I gave him a spoonful of Maty’s Cough Syrup, his cough stopped and he slept soundly! In fact, I didn’t hear him cough again until earlier this evening, and once again, when I gave him a spoonful of Maty’s Cough Syrup it stopped the cough in its tracks!  

Here’s some more information about Maty’s from the founder:

In 1996, my daughter Maty was born with severe heart defects. And to make matters worse, she was also born without a spleen. By age five, Maty underwent three complex heart surgeries.

For those first few years of her life, it was a challenging time for our family. We were constantly in and out of doctors offices. Although her heart was mended, she was left with difficult medical issues and a weakened immune system. Her condition made her vulnerable.

Desperate to help my little girl, I devoted my time to finding natural remedies that would help her get and stay healthy. And it soon became my passion. I started reading everything and anything to do with natural ways of healing. I took classes in natural healing and even got certified as a holistic health practitioner.

And along the way I discovered natural remedies that really worked and started using them on my family. Whatʼs even better is that I was now equipped with modern knowledge of healing and incorporated that into these old time remedies to make them even better. I bottled some of these remedies up and gave them to family and friends to help them get healthier. And they became popular.

Your Chance to Win

If you want to give Maty’s a try, enter our giveaway! The winner gets to choose one full-size version of any of Maty’s popular products:

  • All Natural Cough Syrup

  • All Natural Kids’ Cough Syrup

  • All Natural Baby Chest Rub

  • All Natural Vapor Rub

  • Breathe Better Nasal Ointment

This giveaway is only open to US residents and will end Sunday, December 1 at midnight.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Oxygen Bleach, My New Favorite Household Cleaner {PLUS Giveaway!}

Oxygen Bleach has recently become my most favorite household cleaning ingredient. When I first started using oxygen bleach, I bought the cheap stuff at the dollar store; and while it was effective, I quickly realized that it was not pure oxygen bleach. Since I couldn’t figure out exactly what was added to it, I opted to be safe rather than sorry, and go for the good stuff.

Thankfully, around that time, Tropical Traditions offered to send me a big container of their oxygen bleach. I jumped at the chance, of course! And I am so glad I did! Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to try another natural brand of oxygen bleach, and I have to say the Tropical Traditions Oxygen Bleach was of significantly higher quality. It cleaned better and left less residue behind.

What do I do with my oxgyen bleach? The better question is, what don’t I do!? But here are a few of the household uses I have found for my bucket of oxygen bleach: 

Clean carpets quickly and easily with oxygen bleach. Oxygen bleach has become just as essential to me as vinegar and baking soda in my selection of household cleaning supplies, and that’s saying something! To compete with those workhorses means a product has to be multi-purpose, effective, inexpensive, and easy to use, and oxygen bleach is all of those things. To be fair, it does cost more to purchase than either vinegar or baking soda, BUT you typically only need to use a tablespoon or less at a time, so it lasts forever. My big container from Tropical Traditions probably lasted a good six months. 

Tropical Traditions Oxygen Bleach Giveaway

So you have the opportunity to win your own container of Tropical Traditions’ Oxygen Bleach! Lucky Ducky You! Please fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter the contest. This contest is only available in the US. This contest ends at midnight, Sunday, July  14, 2013.

And now for some legalese before the giveaway begins:

  • If you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.
  •  Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

If you are not familiar with Tropical Traditions, here’s some info about this great company that provides high-quality food and household goods for those seeking to avoid chemicals and other additives:

Note: If you’re having trouble accessing the giveaway below, try entering via my Facebook page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

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!

Cloth Diaper Guide
1. Confessions of a Cloth-Diaper Convert

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

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.

IB 300x250 ad 2 Affiliate Program 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. 

Easy Peasy Chores @ GoodOldDaysFarm.com 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.

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Mother’s Day Gift Idea

This post is sponsored by South Hill Designs Independent Consultant Katie Parsons. 

Mother’s Day is just around the corner – it might be a month away yet, but that’s just enough time to find the perfect gift for the perfect mom! And I have the perfect gift idea for you: a personalized, custom necklace from South Hill Designs.

South Hill Designs helps you create necklaces that tell your story. You start with a silver or gold locket and then fill it with carefully chosen items that reflect the people and things you love best. There are flat hammered metal coins with words like “Faith”, “Family” or “Blessed” that form the backdrop for your life-story-in-jewelry. Fill the remaining space in the locket with charms that identify your heritage (small flags),  your hobbies and passions (a red high heel, anyone?), birthstones of the people you love, or symbols of your faith. Top it all off with a “droplet” that dangles from the chain and you have a lovely, personalized necklace that’s unique to you alone.

Are you seeing why this would be such a perfect gift for Mother’s Day?! My own necklace is a silver locket with a tin that says “family”, filled with an emerald birthstone for me and my DH (we were both born in May), and two little boy charms with the appropriate birthstones, plus an ichthys to represent our faith. I love it and wear it all. the. time!! It’s like keeping my family with me throughout the day no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

If you agree with me that this would be the perfect Mother’s Day gift, you should check out Katie’s Facebook Party for April. Follow the instructions for ordering and you can get shipping for only $4! Katie’s got some great ideas for filling your lockets to impress and honor the moms on your list.

Mother’s Day isn’t the only perfect time for South Hill Designs, though. You can give personalized necklaces for birthdays, Christmas, and just-because! Or you can get one for yourself… or two, or three.

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Your Guide to Meal Planning

How to Meal Plan I think everyone of us struggles occasionally with the “5:00 Panic” – you know, that dreaded moment when you realize that your family is going to be simply starving any minute now and you have no clue what in the world to feed them. In most households, these panic attacks usually end with feeding the masses cold cereal or takeout.

Uh huh. I’m wise to your tricks! You thought I didn’t know, huh? 

The 5:00 Panic

Well, I know because I’ve been there. Not the cold cereal part because we don’t buy it anymore, but the takeout part. That I’ll admit we have succumbed to on occasion when dinner was not adequately planned.

As I mention ( kind of  ad nauseum, to be honest) in my eBook, Your Grocery Budget Toolbox, I have discovered that the best (and really the only way) to avoid the 5:00 Panic (and the cold cereal) is to plan ahead. I know, I know. I wish I had an easier answer for you, but I don’t. Some things in life are worth the extra effort, and I have discovered that menu planning is one of those things.

In fact, since last fall, I have been regularly planning our meals a month at a time using Plan to Eat, and I cannot tell you what a relief it is to to have that mealtime guide as I go through the month. Sure, the plans change occasionally, especially the breakfast and lunch options. But I would be a lot more stressed out (I know because that’s how I used to be before I started menu planning!) if I didn’t have a plan.

Menu Planning, Really?! Do I Have To?

I can totally understand, though, if menu planning is just not your thing: I’ve been there! I used to think it was pointless, since nine times out of ten, when I did plan a menu, we didn’t follow it! I felt like if I had enough staple grocery supplies in the house at all times I could just whip up any ol’  thing when it came time for dinner. Plus, I’m kind of a spontaneous girl in many ways, and the thought of having a menu plan seemed, well, rather rigid, to be honest.

Yeah, I had all kinds of excuses.

Yes, Really. You Gotta Learn How to Plan Your Menu.

You, too? Then you may want to read Crystal’s (of Crystal and Co.) new eBook, “How to Meal Plan: a Step By Step Guide”.  It truly is a step-by-step guide to get you going on the path to menu planning freedom.

What I particularly love about Crystal’s book is the adorable printables that help you work through the menu-planning process. Not only does she offer you the standard menu planning chart, but she has worksheets that help you analyze your family’s needs and your own desires when it comes to cooking and meal planning. It’s not about what works for her, it’s about what works for you. She doesn’t just throw a calendar at you, and say, “Get busy planning!” No, she walks you through the process of determining how a menu plan would work best in your family and in your situation, and then how to trouble-shoot it when things go wrong. 

Menu Planning Help for $0.99!!

Here’s the truly lovely thing: for the rest of the month (which is only like a week, so don’t relax now), you can get Crystal’s guide to meal planning for only $0.99. I think you can spare less than a buck to get some peace of mind at 5:00 for the rest of your life. Normally, it’s $5.99, which is still a good price, but for $0.99? Can’t be beat. And what do you have to lose?

I dare you. No, I triple dog dare you! Face 5:00 head on and kick that panic where it hurts!

Ahhhh. Feels good, doesn’t it?


BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes {and Giveaway!}

I love my crock pot, but I can get very frustrated when flipping through crock pot recipes: it seems they all call for canned this and packaged that, which makes me very sad. For oven or stove-top recipes, I can typically figure out some good substitutions for the processed stuff, but the crock pot? It’s kind of a different animal.

Which is why I’m so happy Stacy of Stacy Makes Cents took the guesswork out of the whole thing for me. She’s written an amazing eCookbook (appropriately called Crock On!) with all kinds of great recipes adapted just for the crock pot. The best part is that none of the recipes include creamed-this or powdered-that. Oh, maybe a can of vegetables here and there, but nothing processed or fake in this cookbook!

And she doesn’t cut corners either. I got a crock pot cookbook once that was 95% soup recipes, which was kind of a disappointment. I like soup and all, but we only eat it once a week or so, so that wasn’t super helpful. Stacy’s cookbook, however, goes way beyond soup and brings you recipes for sandwiches, sides, and even desserts!  (Can you say Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Lava Cake?)

The very very very best part? (Kind of like the cherry on top?) The price. You know I like things to be nice and cheap. Well, this book is. It’s only $5. You can totally afford $5! Especially considering what you will get with those five little bucks.

But wait, my friend. It gets even better! Stacy has generously set up a special 15% discount code for my readers, so that each and every one of you can purchase Crock On! for only $4.25!! Just use the code: “authentic15″. (Please leave out the quotation marks. I know you know that, but just in case…) This code will expire January 31, 2012. (Oh, and no worries about wasting your money on the book just in case you win the giveaway. Stacy will refund your purchase if you win! It’s a win-win.)

And just when you thought the deal couldn’t be any sweeter, Stacy has given me permission to give away not one, but TWO, copies of Crock On! Suh-weet! Enter via the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you make in your slow cooker?

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!