Decluttering Series | How to Purge & Organize Kids Clothes

Decluttering Series | How to purge and organize kids clothes

How to Organize Kids Clothes

Welcome to the 2nd installment of my de-cluttering series: How to purge and organize kids clothes. As I mentioned before, this isn’t the beginning of my decluttering journey, but somewhere in the middle. I have gone through the kids clothes before, but this time I have more of a purpose and a plan. I went through the little ones clothes last week, so his aren’t pictured here. Most of what I did today was with my four year old daughters clothes. The “big boys” don’t really have an excess of clothes either, so I am leaving that for now.

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12 Uses for Dr. Bronners Castile Soap

uses for Dr. Bronners

12 Uses for Dr. Bronners Liquid Castile Soap

Have you heard of Dr. Bronners castile soap? It’s the soap with all of the crazy labels! What you may not know is that there are dozens of uses for Dr. Bronners castile soap! I buy mine through Thrive Market when I am placing an order, but if I don’t have enough to get free shipping I just order through Amazon Prime. It does cost a little bit more on Amazon, but you can get in in 2 days from Amazon and don’t have to have a Thrive Market membership. Dr. Bronners is also available at health food stores, and some Wal-Mart and Target stores also carry the line. I purchase mine through Thrive because I have found that they offer the best price. If you’re sensitive to smells or want to use your own essential oils, they also offer an unscented version.

Related Post: Why I chose Thrive Market and why you should to

Related Post: How to use Amazon Prime (+ get 30 days free!)

So what are the uses for Dr. Bronners? If you look on the bottle, you will see that they say it can be used for just about anything! While this may be a stretch, I have found that this special soap does have many uses and will save quite a bit of money on cleaning supplies! Here are just a few uses for Dr. Bronners that work for me:

1. Baby Wash

If you’re cautious about what you put on your babies skin, good for you! Dr. Bronners is a mild and gentle baby wash. It is 100% natural and safe on their sensitive skin. I also use it to wash my kids hair (and sometimes my own!) Lavender is a safe scent for babies, I would avoid peppermint for the little ones. If you’d like to avoid all scents, try the Baby Mild version! Use an old shampoo bottle and dilute with 1/4 to 1/2 water, it will last a long time!

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5 Reasons to Drink Black Coffee

5 reasons to drink black coffee

5 Reasons to Drink Black CoffeeWhy I drink coffee. Read about reasons why to drink black coffee, and yes, I actually like it!

If you had told me three years ago that I’d be writing this, I would have laughed at you. I’ve only been drinking coffee for about 2 1/2 years and most of that time I have actually been drinking coffee flavored milk and sugar. I started drinking coffee after my third child was born. I think that I started drinking it out of necessity. I had a newborn, and two year old and a five year old. The church that I attended had free coffee on Sunday morning, so I figured that I might as well start drinking it! Fast forward to now, I started drinking black coffee during my first Whole 30 attempt and I haven’t looked back since then! Here are my 5 reasons to drink black coffee.

  • It’s healthier. Let’s face it, added sugar is never good for you. Don’t get me started about the ingredients in some coffee creamers! If you drink a lot of coffee, the added sugar + questionable ingredients will really add up.
  • It’s cheaper. If you’re using higher quality creamer like I was, the price is really going to add up. If you are getting specialty coffee on the go, the cost is going to be substantially more than a plain, black coffee.
  • It’s simple. It’s easy in the morning, make a cup of coffee and go. My favorite creamer is a dairy free coconut milk creamer, but where I live,  it’s hard to come by. Drinking black coffee has made my life easier because I am not making special trips for coffee creamer anymore.
  • It’s harder to mess up. If you’re placing an order at a coffee shop or restaurant, it’s pretty difficult to mess up a plain black coffee!
  • You will learn to like it. It may take some time, but you will learn to appreciate the actual taste of coffee, and not everything that you are putting into it. I had to choke down my coffee the first few days of my Whole 30, but it got better! Even when I stopped doing the Whole 30,I still continued to drink black coffee.




There you have it! My 5 reasons to drink your coffee black. I haven’t put anything in my coffee in over a month and I think that I will keep it that way. It is better for me, saves money, is easier, and I really have learned to like it! I recently wrote another article about my new favorite coffee accessory. If you’re worried about coffee staining your teeth, check it out here!

Do you drink black coffee? If not, what do you put in your coffee? I like coconut milk creamer, but I think I will do without it for now! reasons to drink black coffee

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Thrive Market Review | My First Order

Thrive Market Review

I wanted to post a full Thrive Market Review because my first order has arrived! I made another post here comparing prices on Thrive Market vs. Amazon Prime. I did share my exact order in that post but I wanted to share a few pictures of the items after they arrived. I am currently doing a Whole 30 and it is important to note that some of the items that I ordered are NOT Whole 30 compliant, the Bob’s Mill white rice flour, Bragg’s liquid aminos and Enjoy Life mega thunks, while delicious and gluten free, are not allowed on the Whole 30. I did purchase them because I they are things that I would buy anyway and the price on Thrive Market was the best that I have found. If I do another order while I am on the Whole 30 I will order compliant products because those chocolate chunks are too tempting! I paid just over $50 for all of the items listed before. If you purchase any of these items regularly, you know that’s a great deal! Thrive Market was running a promotion at the time which included a free bottle of coconut oil and the 5-day detox book. Since I am currently doing a Whole 30, I don’t really need the book but it could be useful for someone who is brand new on a healthy eating journey. Thrive regularly offers freebies with your purchase, so far I have seen coconut oil, almond butter and plant-based protein, so keep an eye out and see what freebie is available!

My first Thrive Market order. Read about my first experience with Thrive Market. Is Thrive Market right for your family? Read on and find out!!   Thrive Market Review.

 

I do apologies for the horrible picture. I am good at taking pictures of people, not items. I am pretty excited to try to ghee. During Whole 30 2016 attempt #1 I made my own ghee. I’m not sure if I did it right, but I wasn’t crazy about it. I love butter and I hope that I like the ghee better than my home-made version.

Thrive market order, Thrive market review

I do have to stop for a second and tell you about the coconut aminos. If you read my original Thrive Market vs. Amazon Prime post, you will see that I was hesitant about this product. I am happy to say that I have tried and actually ENJOY the coconut aminos! This is a big deal! I can do without soy for the most part, and I may be able to eliminate it completely (even after the Whole 30) using this product. The taste is a bit sweeter than soy sauce, and it definitely has a flavor that is all it’s own. That being said, I did enjoy it. If you’re wanting to eliminate traditional soy sauce, GMO soy or non-organic soy. I would recommend switching to Bragg’s liquid aminos. We haven’t used traditional soy sauce in quite some time, it tastes just as good but is much healthier as it is lower in sodium and made with non-GMO soy.

I have tried to toothpaste and I really like it! I am going to continue to purchase it from Thrive since traditional toothpaste is just disgusting. Thrive Market also has the best price that I have found on Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap. You can also read about my top 12 uses for Dr. Bronners and my favorite household items from Thrive Market.!

kitchen-4

I was really impressed with the packaging from Thrive Market. All of the packaging is made from recycled materials, and can be composted or recycled. Everything was packed very well, as you can see above. My order did take a little longer than expected to arrive. I received an e-mail apologizing for the delay. They told me that they had a higher volume of orders last week. I also received a coupon code for $10 off my next purchase. I expect to make another purchase early next month, and the $10 definitely makes up for the extra day or two!

As I mentioned in my last post, Thrive Market makes it very easy to shop by your values. If you are a vegan, following a paleo diet, or any other kind of protocol or allergy-friendly diet, it is very easy to search for foods that will work for you. There is even a section for moms! Overall, I am very happy with my order and with Thrive Market customer service. If you’ve been thinking about joining Thrive Market, click the link below to get 20% off your first order! Don’t forget that you can get a 30 day free trial, I saved over $70 on my first order, so I am definitely going to keep my account after the 30 days is over!

 

 

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Decluttering Series | Kitchen Utensils

Decluttering series | Kitchen utensils

Decluttering Series

This is the very first post in what I intend to be a huge part of this blog; the decluttering series. I am on a journey to declutter down to the necessities, organize the rest, and live a more minimalist lifestyle. There is another (big) reason for this series, but I am not going to share what that is yet. 🙂 Now, we don’t have an overwhelming amount of stuff. If you compare us to minimalists, then yes, we have a lot of stuff. If you compare us to the average American family of our size, we probably have less. That being said, I believe that more stuff = more stress = more cleaning. I would rather have less, stress less, and clean less. I have been working on slowly decluttering since I read “The Life changing Magic of Tidying Up.” If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend that you check it out! The basic overall idea of the KonMari method is to keep things that bring you joy, and that’s it!

I have probably bagged up and donated about 12 large trash bags full of stuff. I have probably discarded almost as much. I lost my steam around Christmas, and of course more was brought back into our house around that time. Now I am starting again, and I want to share my journey with you! I love reading blogs and watching videos about decluttering and organizing. I plan to try to do some vlogs during my decluttering journey too. A word of warning, I am super duper weird in front of a camera, hopefully I get used to it!

Decluttering Series: The kitchen! I went through and got rid of duplicates and organized my kitchen. Check out the decluttering series to follow my journey.Okay back to the series! I started yesterday with my kitchen. I was having trouble opening the drawer where I keep my kitchen utensils. I would say that is a pretty good sign that there is too much stuff in the drawer. Rather than taking up space in two drawers, I decided to go through and only keep the items that we actually use. During that process, I also noticed that the utensils were on the opposite side of the kitchen as the stove/over. The spices were also a mess sitting in a cabinet on the other side of the kitchen. Obviously I use my spices and utensils when I cook, so I decided to relocate them. If you’re looking at the photo thinking that it really isn’t that much stuff, it isn’t. I had already gone through the utensils once. However, after a second sweep, I realized that we had several duplicates as well as a few things that we really don’t use. I got rid of one set of measuring cups, most of the stainless utensils (I prefer the bamboo,) an old whisk, a meat injector, one of the graters, the cake decorating stuff (I didn’t even know we had this) and one of the two pizza cutters.

Decluttering Series: The kitchen! I went through and got rid of duplicates and organized my kitchen. Check out the decluttering series to follow my journey.


Decluttering Series: The kitchen! I went through and got rid of duplicates and organized my kitchen. Check out the decluttering series to follow my journey.This one was pretty simple. As I mentioned before, I have already gone through our kitchen on more than one occasion. I also went through storage containers and got rid of any mismatched lids, and I reorganized a few other cabinets. I need to tackle the dining room next. The dining room has a lot of craft supplies, homeschool supplies from when I was homeschooling and other odds and ends that I need to go through. We have several cabinets in our dining room and very little storage elsewhere. Unfortunately it’s become an area that is collecting junk. I plan to dive in to that area next!
Decluttering Series: The kitchen! I went through and got rid of duplicates and organized my kitchen. Check out the decluttering series to follow my journey.

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Koffie Straw Review | My New Favorite Coffee Accessory

Koffie Straw Review

Koffie Straw Review

I recently found Koffie Straw on Instagram and I was instantly intrigued! I just got mine and I wanted to do a Koffie Straw Review post. Since starting the Whole 30, I have been drinking far more coffee than usual. Part of my goal on the Whole 30 was to quit drinking sugary beverages altogether, so I plan to continue drinking coffee every day after the Whole 30 is over. Everyone knows that drinking darker colored beverages can have negative effects on your teeth. Most people also know that using plastic in hot beverages is a huge no-no, unless yo
u like leaching chemicals into your beverages. I hate using plastic with hot food or drinks, and I like buying re-usable products instead of plastic whenever possible. This is where the silicone Koffie Straw comes in.

First impression, I love the packaging. It’s so cute! Every order comes with two Koffie Straws and a little cleaning brush. I really love this because when you buy most re-usable straws they don’t come with any kind of brush to clean them. I usually have to dig into my daughters art stash to find pipe cleaners. The Koffie Straw is also dishwasher safe, which is handy for the lazy among us (me.) They are made to fit perfectly in to-go cups. The rectangle shape fits in to-go lids and they are designed so that most of the coffee won’t touch your front teeth. The straws are 7″ but I was told that they are making a longer version that will be released soon. I usually drink coffee at home out of a mug, or order a smaller coffee when I am out, so the 7″ straw is ideal for me. I have the pink straws and I love the color. I use a glass water bottle with a pink silicone sleeve, so my water bottle matches my Koffie Straw. 🙂 You can also purchase directly from their website in Navy or Plum or order Navy on Amazon.

If you’re interested in keeping your teeth whiter, while using an eco-friendly and re-usable product, I can’t recommend this enough! It’s a cute and fun product, but they are also useful. The Koffie Straw is made very well and I think that it will last quite a while. I have found that most silicone products hold up well and last forever. I sure hope that this does, because I plan to use it every day!

 

Koffie Straw Review | Where has this been all my life?? If you're a coffee drinker and worried about stains on your teeth, this product is genius!

 

 

**Note: Koffie Straw did send me a sample to try got this Koffie Straw Review. I received the item free of charge but I do not receive any type of commission if you purchase this item directly from Koffie Straw. I ONLY review products on the blog that I love and recommend!

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Whole 30 Day 2 | A Food Log

Whole 30 Day 2 | A food log from a recovering sugar-lover.

Whole 30 Day 2

Day 1 went pretty well! I was a little tired, but I have some sinus issues going on that are not Whole 30 related. On to Whole 30 day 2, we’ve had some CRAZY weather here lately. It was in the 70’s (and 80’s in Oklahoma City last weekend) and today we have SNOW. Yesterday the meal plan went well, I snacked a little but much less than usual. I did try the Apple Pie Lara Bars and I have to say they are much better than I was expecting! My little one and I shared, he loved them too.  The kids ate what we did yesterday, with the exception of having some organic ketchup with their chicken at lunch.

I feel like my Whole 30 “failure” last time was due to a lack of planning. I have our entire meal plan lined out this week, and I feel much more relaxed having a plan set in place! Just like last time, I recommend checking out the Timeline when you are doing your own Whole 30. Since I am starting over and didn’t go very far off course, this time is easier for me than when I started back in January. I am still feeling the “hangover” that happens around days 2 and 3. This is more like day 3, but since I had a few non-compliant bites on Monday, I am counting it as day 2. Here is my Whole 30 day 2 food log.

Whole 30 Day 2 | A food log.

Breakfast:

Black coffee

Scrambled eggs Boiled eggs + mayo & spinach smoothies (the kids had scrambled eggs and kiwi)

Lunch:

Leftover meat lovers chili + rice for the kids

Dinner:

Meat balls, spaghetti squash, paleo noodles

Snack:

One Apple Pie Lara Bar, 2 spoonfuls of Justin’s almond butter

Food prep for the week:

None today!

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Whole 30 Day 1 | Food Log + Whole 30 mayo

Whole 30 Day 1

I had a few slip-ups during my original run at the Whole 30. Looking back, I can see that those things happened mostly because I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t prepared with emergency snacks, and my meal planning was very lacking (or non-existent.) For a successful Whole 30, I think that meal planning is absolutely essential. We went on a weekend trip to Oklahoma City and I decided that I would completely start my Whole 30 over when we got back. Yesterday I did a meal plan, went grocery shopping, and I am waiting for my Thrive Market order, which should arrive today or tomorrow. Yesterday was day 0. It was supposed to be Whole 30 day 1 but I had a few bites of non-compliant food. Nothing too bad but I didn’t want to technically start over again until today. This time, I am going to keep a food diary on here. I will detail what I eat, and maybe add some pictures! I am really excited to have a friend doing the Whole 30 at the same time (she started yesterday) because I really think that having a support system is very important during the Whole 30! I am also including any food prep that I do, because I feel like that’s an important.

Enough with my rambling, here is my food diary for the Whole 30 Day 1!
Whole 30 Day 1 | A Whole 30 food diary + whole 30 mayo recipe!

Breakfast:

2 cups of black coffee

3 boiled eggs and homemade mayo + some leftover stir fry carrots

Lunch:

Grilled chicken

Spinach smoothies

Dinner:

Paleo Chili (stew meat, ground beef, sweet potatoes)

Snack:

1.5 Apple Pie Lara Bars (my little one and I shared)

Food prep done today:

Made a double batch of homemade mayo

Made a double batch of homemade ranch

Made strawberry applesauce for the kids (and husband)

Whole 30 Mayo Recipe:

1 pint bottle of extra light tasting olive oil

2 room temperature eggs

2 tsp mustard powder

2 tsp salt

juice of one lemon

Put the eggs, lemon juice, mustard powder, salt and some of the olive oil (maybe 1/8 to 1/4 of the the jar) into a blender. Pulse on low just to mix all of the ingredients. Now SLOOOOOOOOOOWLY add the rest of the olive oil from the top. Seriously, slowly. Take 2-3 minutes to slowly drizzle the rest of the olive oil in while you pulse the blender on low. The ingredients will start to take on a whipped consistency. That’s it! It’s very easy and so good!

 

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Gluten Free Restaurants in Oklahoma City

Gluten Free Restaurants in Oklahoma City | My findings from a weekend in OKC.

Gluten Free Restaurants in Oklahoma City

This past weekend, we took a last-minute trip to Oklahoma City. I tried to search for gluten free restaurants in Oklahoma City on Pinterest and had little luck. Fortunately I was able to find several places, and I am happy to share them here! I will do another blog post about our trip, because Oklahoma City was so different than what I expected. It is only a 5 hour drive for us and we’ve never been there together. I have only driven through once (back in 1995, I wasn’t driving) and Brandon had never been there. The city is bigger than we realized, and it’s such a nice city to visit.

Since it’s such a large city, you do have all the usual chain restaurants with gluten-free menus.  A few that I noticed while driving through were Chili’s, Applebees, and PF Changs. We only spend one weekend in Oklahoma City, so this is certainly not an extensive list of restaurants with gluten free options. These are the restaurants that we visited during our stay.

HuHot Mongolian Grill

There are 4 HuHot locations in Missouri. We have been to all of them. We love HuHot because it’s one of the few places where I can eat and not worry much about gluten contamination. The restaurant in Springfield, Missouri is particularly aware of allergy issues. Their menu items have allergy labels and the staff seems very aware of allergy issues. Oklahoma City HuHot was a little different, but they did bring me a special colored bowl so that the chefs would know that I couldn’t have gluten. They also cleaned the grill before I got up there. At the other HuHot locations we have always had to wait and tell the Chefs whenever we got to the grill, but in this case the server did it for us. Overall the experience with this HuHot location was pretty good! Make sure to check out my thoughts on the HuHot Gluten free menu while you’re at it! I do wish that more locations used the “special” allergy bowls and alerted the Chefs beforehand, I always feel like such a pain having to tell them to clean a special spot on the grill.

KD’s Bricktowngluten free restaurants in Oklahoma City | KD's gluten free menu

Brandon talked about this restaurant while we were driving to Oklahoma City. I was worried that their wouldn’t be anything that I could eat (Southern cuisine = everything breaded and fried) but I said that we should go anyway. I asked for a gluten free menu, and they had one! I had the Thundersticks (grilled chicken skewers) with sweet and tangy sauce. The “sweet and tangy” sauce was spicier than I expected but so good! I couldn’t find the gluten free menu online, but I took a picture of it at the restaurant! We went to eat lunch on a day where the Thunder was playing the Cavaliers (we went to that too!), so the restaurant was PACKED! I know absolutely nothing about basketball, but the restaurant was still a very cool place to eat. Brandon had a chicken sandwich with fries (huge plate) and he said it was really good too. The chicken skewers were technically an appetizer, but they were enough food for me. There were several gluten free sides if chicken doesn’t sound like enough food.

 

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop

There are several Fuzzy’s Taco shop locations in Missouri, but we had never been to one. There was a long line, so we figured it had to be good! We originally were just going to get a margarita, but the line was so long that we were hungry by the time we got ready to order. They didn’t have a gluten free menu at the restaurant but I was able to find one online today. I had the bean and cheese nachos and unfortunately I got SICK. I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t eaten hardly any beans, cheese, or corn lately due to starting the Whole 30. Since I had messed up the Whole 30 several times, I decided to just eat whatever (except gluten of course) for the weekend. So I don’t know if there was some cross contamination with gluten or if my body was just shocked because I hadn’t had much dairy or beans in a while. Either way, it’s worth mentioning because the margaritas were AWESOME. Several of the tacos are gluten free (corn tortilla shells) as well as most of the salads. I would advise anyone on a gluten free diet to be cautious, but I can’t really be sure if it was gluten contamination or just eating things that I am not used to.



Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse

We actually didn’t go here, but we talked about it. It’s a little pricier than the other options that I mentioned but it has great reviews. I wanted to include it in this list because they seemed to have a lot of gluten free options. You’ll have to download the menu to view them, but there were several and they looked delicious! Hopefully we will be able to try it out next time!

This isn’t an extensive list of all of the gluten free restaurants in Oklahoma City, but hopefully it will help if you are traveling and looking for gluten free options! We also stopped in to Jamba Juice for breakfast one morning. Most Jamba Juice smoothies are gluten free and they are VERY good about allergy requests and information. Most of the actual food items are not gluten free but there are plenty of gluten free smoothie options! If you have any other suggestions for Gluten Free Restaurants in Oklahoma City, please leave them in the comments!

Gluten Free Restaurants Oklahoma City | Some of my gluten free restaurant finds on our weekend trip to OKC!

It would be really awesome if you would share the love on Pinterest!

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How To Make Your Own Laundry Soap

how to make your own laundry soap

How to make your own laundry soapHow to make your own laundry soap. The best laundry soap recipe that I have tried. This cheap DIY will save money, it's gentle on skin, and best of all, it's easy!

This post was adapted from a blog post that I did several years ago. This is still my favorite DIY laundry soap, and I wanted to share how to make your own laundry soap here!

I have made several variations of laundry soap. Powder, liquid, and whipped. While I liked the liquid version, I wasn’t completely comfortable having a large bucket of laundry soap on my laundry room floor. I used a lid, but it still didn’t feel completely safe since I do have small children. This is essentially the same recipe, but it is made differently! It uses the same ingredients in similar quantities, but has a very different texture!

Ingredients:
4 cups of water
1 bar of Fels-Naptha
1 cup of Borax
1 cup of Washing soda

Note: I listed links to these products on Amazon, but they are also available at most Target stores, Wal-Mart and many grocery stores. Make sure to get washing soda, not baking soda, as they are different products!

Materials:
2 quart-sized mason jars
Medium-large sauce pan
Blender
Grater or food processor

Directions:
First, grate the bar of Fels-Naptha. If you have a food processor, this should be easy. If you don’t, use a hand grater. It’s really a pain, but it works. I don’t have a food processor so that is what I had to do. This is the worst part of the whole process, put on a good TV show or something else to distract you! Now, put four cups of water into a medium or large sauce pan and bring to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, mix the Borax and Washing Soda together thoroughly. Slowly add grated soap to the pan, it should look like this:

how to make your own laundry soap

Turn the heat down to medium. Now, you are going to stir. You will be stirring for a while, so I suggest you find something else to occupy yourself. I used Pinterest on my phone. You will need to stir until the soap dissolves. Don’t skip this step, you will regret it. Don’t ask me how I know. It is not “good enough” until all of the soap is dissolved, this took about fifteen minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the dry mixture until it no longer feels grainy. This should take about five minutes. BONUS: Your house will smell really clean, and your pans will BE really clean. I use stainless steel pans and this one is sparkly now.

how to make your own laundry soap
The washing soda and Borax mixture

Next you will want to carefully pour your mixture into two mason jars. They will be about half full (or half empty, depending on how you view life :)) Add water to the jars until they are nearly full, leave about 1/2 in of space on the top. Seal the jars and shake them, and then turn them upside down. Now leave them on the counter (upside down) for about a few hours. I left mine for four hours. The mixture will separate. Sorry I don’t have a picture of that, my camera died. Open the jars VERY carefully, the top layer will be liquid and it can make a mess. Again, don’t ask me how I know. I would put a towel under the jars when you open them. Pour the contents of one jar into the blender. You may need a spoon to get the stuff at the bottom. Blend until you get a whipped consistency. It took less than a minute in my Cuisinart blender. Carefully pour back into the jar, and repeat with the other jar, You’re done! Depending on the size of your jar, it may screw directly onto your blender base.

Use 1 TBSP of laundry soap per load of laundry. It is safe for top loaders, front loaders, and YES, it is safe on cloth diapers! I have used this recipe to wash regular clothes, baby clothes, cloth diapers, sheets, towels, etc. with absolutely no problem! I have one child with sensitive skin, and it didn’t cause any irritation. This recipe will make two full jars and with only using one tablespoon per load, they should last a while! The entire recipe cost less than $2 to make. I didn’t count the entire cost of Borax or Washing soda since 1) I already had them and 2) I didn’t use all of it! I love this recipe because it is less messy than powder, but safer and less of a hassle than liquid. I have an old YouTube video of myself talking about how to make your own laundry soap, but I haven’t decided if I want to share it here or not. 🙂 Let me know if you make this and how it turns out!

Make sure to clean your blender and pan right away to avoid any big messes later! What other home products do you make yourself? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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The New YNAB Review

The New YNAB Review

I have been wanting to do a YNAB review for quite some time. I originally purchased YNAB (or You Need A Budget) over two years ago. There were plans for a YNAB 4 review, but I realized that I should probably just make the change to “the new YNAB” and review it instead. My husband and I had been using YNAB 4 100% of the time since last May. We both have it on our Android phones and I was also using it on my desktop. This isn’t necessarily a comparison between the YNAB 4 and the new YNAB, but I am pointing out a few key differences in case I have any readers who are still using YNAB 4.

The new YNAB changes things quite a bit. With YNAB 4, everything was connected to Dropbox and there was a desktop application. In the new YNAB (I really feel like YNAB 5 would have been an easier name) everything is online and syncs within seconds. This is taking some getting used to, but overall I feel like it is a definite upgrade. So what is YNAB? YNAB is a budgeting software that uses mobile and web-based apps to track your income and spending. Using a budgeting software can be very eye opening. You can see where your money is going and begin to prioritize your spending. Budgeting software isn’t just for people who are “bad” with money (although if you are, it will certainly help!) but a great for anyone who wants to have control over their money. With YNAB, it all starts with the four rules.

The new YNAB budgeting software review. I have been using this software for almost three years, and it's perfect for our budgeting needs!

THE RULES:

Rule 1: Give every dollar a job

This is just the basic idea that every dollar you earn should be allocated to a certain purpose.

Rule 2: Embrace your true expenses (formerly save for a rainy day.)

The idea of rule 2 is to realize that the large, less frequent expenses should be budgeted for on a regular basis. An example would be paying insurance premiums every 6 months. Instead of being hit with a $600 payment, you can budget $100 per month. Breaking up larger expenses over time makes life easier because when they arrive, you are 100% prepared. Another example would be saving for Christmas (it comes every year and shouldn’t be a shock!), vacations, taxes, etc.

Rule 3: Roll with the punches

This rule is my personal favorite! Rolling with the punches simply means that life happens, budgeting mistakes happen, things come up, and that’s 100% okay. You may overspend in certain categories and it is just fine to move money from other categories. Expecting for things to come up and rolling with the punches helps allows you to be flexible while maintaining your true goals.

Rule 4: Age your money (formerly live on last month’s income)

A very interesting feature of The New YNAB is being able to see my “old” your money is. Formerly YNAB wanted us to live on last months income, creating a buffer and breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle that the majority of American’s are stuck on. Aging your money is the same concept, ideally you want your money to be older than 30 days, meaning you are living on income from at least one month prior.

The new YNAB budgeting software review. I have been using this software for almost three years, and it's perfect for our budgeting needs!

THE BASICS:

YNAB is accessed via either the web-based YNAB or on an iOS or Android device. The ability to allocate funds, set goals, view statistics and other detailed information is only available on the web-based app. I just discovered that you can actually move money from your “to budget” category into other categories from the mobile app. However, it’s much quicker easier to do from the web-based app. The iOS and Android app allows users to add transactions for both income received and money that has been spent. Both the web-based and mobile apps are very user-friendly. Even if you aren’t a very tech-savvy person, it isn’t hard to figure out how to use either one. YNAB also has dozens of videos on their Youtube channel with helpful information and easy to follow set-up and how-to-use tutorials.

Free Trial

YNAB has a free 34-day trial, and the set-up is almost fool-proof. YNAB will walk you through all of the set up steps, and teach you exactly how to use it right in the app. If you’re still confused, you can always check out the YouTube channel, I have found it extremely helpful. YNAB allows you to seamlessly use multiple devices, even if you are using them at the same time. Transactions entered into the web-based app are automatic, and transactions entered through the mobile app take 60 seconds or less.

Another feature that I love with the new YNAB is the ability to set goals. Let’s say you want to spend a certain amount on Christmas, a vacation, a wedding, etc. Setting a goal will allow you to see how close you are to your goal, and it also tells you how quickly you will reach the goal if you save a certain amount every month. While this isn’t a necessary feature, I will like it’s really nice, especially if you hate math. 🙂

Overall, I have had a very positive experience with YNAB. My husband uses the mobile app, and I handle most of the web-based budgeting. This works for us because he isn’t interested in the nerdy numbers part of it. He likes that the app is simple to use. If you budgeting with someone else, it’s important that they are on board. I think that YNAB makes it easier since it is so simple to use.

Extra YNAB Features That I Love:

The YNAB blog: There are so many helpful articles on the blog and it is updated regularly!

WhiteBoard Wednesdays: This is my FAVORITE extra YNAB feature. I love watching the Whiteboard Wednesday videos on YouTube.

YNAB also has a forum, I haven’t used it but it seems like a lot of people use it regularly and love it.

Things that could be improved:

Initially I wasn’t sure about YNAB switching to a subscription service, but I have come around. I feel like it has allowed YNAB to grow and updates are put out quickly. Personally, I have never had any issues, but I have heard that YNAB customer service has really improved. I had heard complaints about it in the past, but I have heard nothing but positives lately. I also enjoy the interaction that I see on Facebook.

When I wrote this post, I included the fact that I was disappointed that the new YNAB did not include reports. It now does include reports, so that is no longer a problem for me.
YNAB vs. Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar:

YNAB wins, end of story.

…wait, that wasn’t much of a comparison, was it?

Okay, so I love Dave Ramsey’s podcast and books, and I recommend them to anyone who is interested in getting on a budget and making better financial decisions. That being said, I wasn’t very happy with Every Dollar. I didn’t feel like it was easy to use, and I felt like any money that you had “before” starting to budget didn’t really have a place to go. Maybe I was just using it wrong, but I tried on three separate occasions and could never get used to it. Every Dollar IS free, but if you want to connect your bank account (which is included with YNAB) the price is about the same as just going with YNAB.

Closing Thoughts for my YNAB Review:

Whether you are brand new to budgeting or just looking for something new, I believe that YNAB could be right for you! YNAB doesn’t have much information as far as investing, but I am not even adding that to “things that could be improved” because I don’t think that everyone needs that in a budgeting app anyway. The 34 day free trial allows you to use YNAB for more than a month and see how it works. The trial is absolutely free, they don’t even require a credit card! The cost of YNAB is now $5/month or $50 for the entire year. If you aren’t currently tracking your finances, you will be able to save far more than the investment, probably in the first month! If you’d like to get your free 34 day trial, head over to You Need a Budget.

Thank you so much for reading my YNAB review! If you’ve used YNAB, or any other budgeting software, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! If you like this post, make sure to pin it for later or share it with your friends!

What's the BEST budgeting software? In my opinion, it's You Need a Budget, or YNAB. Check out my full YNAB review to find out more!

 

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My Favorite Gluten Free Bread Recipe

the best gluten free bread recipe

My Favorite Gluten Free Bread Recipe

Let me start off by saying that I am not great recipe-sharer. I typically just throw things into a pan and hope for the best. 🙂 I’m obviously not a great chef or anything like that, but I have learned a lot in the last 4 years since discovering that I had Celiac Disease. I hope that some of my gluten free tips can help you too!

I don’t know if you’ve bought gluten free bread at the grocery store, but it’s expensive. After realizing that pre-made gluten free bread was either disgusting, expensive or both; I went on a mission to discover my own gluten free bread recipe. I wanted something that would taste good, and not cost a fortune. This is what I came up with!

2 cups rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons fast rise yeast
2 tablespoons butter
3 egg whites OR two whole eggs, beaten slightly
1 teaspoon vinegar

*You can add a couple of teaspoons of Xantham gum if you choose to do so. I find that Xantham and Guar gums give some people bloating issues so I personally do not use them unless I use a pre-made blend where they are already included.  I also use real butter, and I have tried the recipe with both three egg whites and two whole eggs. It turns out fine either way!

I mix the flours and salt together first. Then I mix the sugar into the water and add the yeast. I let it sit for about 5 minutes then I put it all into the mixer plus the egg whites/eggs, butter and vinegar and mixed on “high” for a while. I use a normal loaf pan, which I spray with olive oil or coconut oil spray. I let the bread rise for about 25 minutes and then bake it at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

It smells good, it looks.. okay. I haven’t made this recipe recently (since I am doing a Whole 30) but I plan to try to tweak it a bit later and see if I can get it to look better. It tastes like plain white sandwich bread. I have tried many gluten free breads and this is just as good, if not better, than any of them! If you’re on a gluten free diet, it’s much more cost effective (and probably healthier!) to make baked goods yourself. The ingredients that I linked today are from Thrive Market (check out my first Thrive Market order here!) because they’re the best price that I have found. You can order them on Amazon or find them at most grocery stores. Gluten free baking can be difficult and it takes a little bit of practice, but if I can do it, you can do it! If you tried this gluten free bread recipe, let me know how it went! As always, I love it when you share the love through Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest!

 

The BEST gluten free bread recipe that I have tried.

 

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Thrive Market vs. Amazon Prime | A side-by-side comparison

Thrive market vs. Amazon Prime

Thrive Market vs. Amazon PrimeThrive Market vs. Amazon Prime. I compare Amazon Prime side by side with Thrive Market, the new online site that sells wholesome real food at wholesale prices. Check out the comparison here!

I recently discovered Thrive Market, a fairly new website that sells healthy, wholesome food at wholesale prices online. Think Whole Foods meets Costco meets Amazon Prime! When I first heard of Thrive Market, I wasn’t sure why I would need another subscription service when I already have Amazon Prime. Well, after checking out the prices on Thrive Market, I changed my mind. One Thrive feature that I love is that you can shop by your values. Gluten free, Vegan, Paleo, Raw, and Moms are a few of the search categories. You can also search for things like US-based, family businesses and cruelty free companies. The cost is $59.95 per year, but you can get a 30 day trial absolutely free! With every membership purchased, Thrive Market also donates a membership to a family in need, which I think is pretty awesome.

 

This is my first order made with Thrive Market. This following list is exactly what I ordered, and exactly what I paid. I took the individual items and compared them to Amazon prices. I am a long-time Amazon Prime user and I am VERY happy with Amazon. That being said, I am always looking for ways to save money on healthy, gluten free, and (currently) Whole 30-friendly foods. I wanted to compare apples-to-apples prices for Amazon Prime and Thrive Market. It was difficult to do this because some Amazon options were only available in bulk. I still feel like it is a good comparison of the same exact products. This isn’t really a comparison of Thrive Market vs. Amazon prime services, because they are completely different. If you live in an area where healthy or allergy-friendly food is harder to access or just plain expensive, Thrive Market may be a great option for you even if you already use Amazon prime.

My Shopping List

Dr. Bronners Organic Castile Liquid Soap 32oz

Amazon: $18.20 | Thrive Market: $10.95

Organic Raw Coconut Aminos 8oz

Amazon: $17.95 | Thrive Market: $4.45 (**Amazon also had a 3 pack for $22.99 which comes to $7.66/each, but if you only want to order one the Prime price is $17.95)

Justin’s Almond Butter 16oz

Amazon: $14.61 | Thrive Market: $11.25

Bob’s Red Mill Tapioca Starch 20oz

Amazon: $7.97 | Thrive Market: $2.95



Bragg’s Liquid Aminos 32oz

Amazon: $12.58  | Thrive Market: $5.95

Organic Valley Ghee 32oz

Amazon: $15.88 (not prime) | Thrive Market: $10.95

Big Tree Farms Coconut Sugar 16oz

Amazon: $5.29 (Prime Panty) or 6 bags for $31.64 ($5.27/each) | Thrive Market: $4.65

Bob’s Red Mill Stone Ground White Rice Flour 24oz

Amazon: $6.99 | Thrive Market: $2.55 (**Amazon also had a 4 pack for $20.08 which comes to $5.02/each)

Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips Mega Chunk 10oz

Amazon: $4.19 (**only available in a 6pack) | Thrive Market: $4.45

Kiss My Face Whitening Toothpaste (each, I bought 2)

Amazon: $5.65 (subscribe & save) | Thrive Market: $3.45

Amazon Total: $109.31 | Thrive Market Total: $60.40*

As you can see, the Thrive total is far less than Amazon Prime. The Amazon total is more of an estimate, since some items could not be ordered by themselves. For some things, like coconut aminos, I did not want a 3 pack. I don’t even know if I like coconut aminos! I am guessing that I won’t be a fan, but I currently need a Whole 30 approved soy-free stir fry alternative. I am willing to spend $4.45 to try it out. For certain items, ordering on Amazon prime in bulk does make more sense, especially since there is no minimum order for free two-day shipping. Overall, you can see that you almost save the subscription price on Thrive Market vs. Amazon Prime with just one purchase.

What about comparing prices of Thrive Market to grocery stores? I would have to go to a grocery store to do an exact side-by-side analysis, but I can say that overall the 25-50% retail savings is accurate. The one thing that I noticed to be slightly higher is Lara Bars. I can get Lara Bars at my local Wal-Mart (they sell three varieties, only one of which is Paleo/Whole 30 approved) for slightly less than the Thrive Market price. Otherwise everything that I compared was quite a bit less expensive than at a traditional grocery store.

*I also received a free Nutiva Organic coconut oil with my $59+ purchase from Thrive Market. That deal is still going on, so check it out here! This was also my first order, so I saved 15% off and my actual price was $51.34, with a $53.14 savings from retail prices. For simple comparison purposes, I am considering my total to be $60.40. I also received free shipping since it was a $49+ order, but I am not taking that into consideration since Amazon Prime has free 2-day shipping. I have heard that Thrive Market shipping typically takes about 3-5 days.

So what do you think about prices of Thrive Market vs. Amazon Prime? I love Amazon Prime, and I use it subscribe and save, watching TV shows, and quick shipping. If you don’t have a Prime account, you can try Amazon Prime FREE for 30 days. My Prime account isn’t going anywhere, but I love Thrive Market too! If you’ve had any experiences that you’d like to share, please let me know in the comments! If you’re interested in signing up for Thrive Market, they have a free 30 day trial too! You can go here or click on the image below!

 




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Non-candy Easter Basket Ideas

Non-candy Easter basket ideas

Are you looking for some non-candy Easter basket ideas ? Sometimes kids have allergies, are on special diets, or just eat too much crap around holidays where we don’t want to buy them even more candy! I personally don’t plan to put any much candy in my kids Easter baskets this year. Maybe it’s because I am a mean mom, but between school, grandparents, etc., I think they have enough candy. I also prefer to buy two or three nicer things that they actually need and will use, instead of lots of little junk.

Whatever your reason, here are a few of my favorite non-candy Easter basket ideas!

  1. Water Bottles: A Funtainer water bottle from Amazon. My kids LOVE these! We have a couple of the smaller ones, but I am going to buy the bigger size for all three of my kids. I am thinking about Jurassic World, Frozen, and Star Wars. There are plenty of character bottles to choose from, as well as plain colored bottles.
  2.  Small toys: Some of our favorite toys are by Melissa and Doug.  My 7 year old son loves his Discovery magic kit, and my 4 year old daughter loves her princess stamp set. You can search toys by age, and use the code CLASSICBOGO to get 50% off classic toys when you buy one. My personal favorite would be the puzzles! The blocks, banana, and paint set in the image above are all Melissa and Doug!
  3. Books: You can never go wrong with books! Encourage reading by adding fun books with topics that your kids enjoy, like this Jurassic World dinosaur field guide.
  4. Allergy-friendly cookies: While these cookies aren’t healthy by any means, but they are gluten, dairy, nut and soy free! They’re also my favorite. 🙂
  5. Lip Balm: My daughter LOVES her EOS lip balm, and so do most other kids! I think this 4-pack is really cute.
  6. Hair accessories: If you have a little girl, hair accessories are a great Easter basket idea! We have some of these Sara Grace Accessories headbands from YEARS ago and they’re still holding up very well! I featured one of those in the picture above as well.

Still need ideas? Try some of these.

  • Crayons
  • Chalk
  • Nail Polish
  • Play food
  • Play dough
  • Hot Wheels Cars
  • Thomas & Friends Trains
  • Socks
  • Stamps
  • Movie Tickets
  • Lego’s
  • Sunglasses
  • Band-aids
  • Fruit cups
  • Barbie accessories
  • Bracelet
  • Bubbles
  • DVD/Video Games
  • Magnets
  • T-shirts
  • ELF Makeup

If you do Easter baskets, what will you be filling them with this year? I would love to hear most Easter basket ideas! Let me know in the comments!
Great Toys For All Ages At MelissaAndDoug.com

 


 

My favorite non-candy Easter Basket ideas!

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