How to use Swagbucks | 8 Tips to Get Started

How to use Swagbucks

Swagbucks is a great tool to earn a little bit of extra money. It’s also a lot of fun! If you like doing surveys, shopping online, or watching videos, you can do all of these things and earn “Swagbucks” while you do it. There are many ways to earn Swagbucks, and I will share some things that I do below. I am able to earn about $50 per month in Amazon gift cards, just by doing some of these simple tasks in my spare time.

So what is Swagbucks? 

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What to buy with Amazon Subscribe and Save

what to buy with amazon subscribe and save

Do you have an Amazon Prime account? Are you overwhelmed and don’t know what to buy with Amazon Subscribe and Save? The items listed below are some of my favorites. My best tip is to buy at least five items in one month using Subscribe and Save. This will take 15% off of your entire purchase (except diapers, which are already 20% off but do count towards your 5 item total.)  Remember that prices on Amazon fluctuate on a regular basis, I am including the prices that I paid on my last purchase in bold. Keep in mind that this is the price after the 15% discount for buying 5 items. I have included the price without the discount (or any other coupons that may have been available) after my price. Always check for coupons or discounts off your first purchase of a particular item, you will also notice that the 15% off really does add up. If there is currently a coupon for an item, I will note it below.

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6 Best Apps for Fitness and Weight loss

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 6 Best Apps for Fitness and Weight Loss

There are so many fitness and weight loss apps out there! Newer iPhone and Android devices even have health and fitness applications built right into them. I rarely use the built in “S Health” app on my Galaxy Note 4, but I have previously used the step counter to track my activity. Now that I have a Fitbit, I don’t need to use it as much. I also find the food journal confusing, and not as user friendly as MyFitnessPal. All the apps linked below are for Android, but they are all available in the iTunes store too!

  1. MyFitnessPal – This is my favorite food and activity tracker. There is a paid version but the free version has always worked for me. I am not currently using MyFitnessPal, since you don’t track calories or activity during the Whole 30. Back in 2012 I lost about 18 pounds after having my second child and I used MFP to track everything. When you have to keep track of everything that you eat, it makes you more mindful of what you are putting into your body. It can also help with mindless eating, or eating because you are bored.
  2. FitBit – This one is only free if you have a FitBit tracker, but it’s worth mentioning. I don’t like using the built-in step tracker on my phone, because I am not always carrying my phone! I have a FitBit flex (Black Friday at Wal-Mart, $79) and I am very happy with it overall.
  3. Couch25K– If you’d like to start running, but are completely lost, Couch25k is a great way to start. This app guides you from not running to being able to run a 5K in just 8 weeks! There are several C25k training apps, this link goes to one that I have used before.
  4. Blogilates – I love Blogilates videos, and you can connect to some of them through the Blogilates app. There are some features that are not included in the free version, but overall the free app is very helpful.
  5. PlantNanny – My husband makes fun of me for this one, but I love this app. You choose a plant and you “water” the plant whenever you drink water. You enter your information into the app and it comes up with a daily water intake goal for you. Of course, water intake needs will vary based on your day, but this app is pretty close. Once the plant is finished growing, you can put it in a garden and pick another one. I think it’s cute! You will also get alerts on your phone when your plant is thirsty (a reminder to drink water!)
  6. Instagram – No, Instagram is not a dedicated fitness app. However, you will probably be able to find a lot of support in the Instagram community. If you are a vegan, eating paleo, love yoga, a runner, or working on Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guides, there is a community on Instagram for you! Search hash tags, use them in your posts, and you will be amazed at the support that you will find for whatever journey you are on!

Have you used any of my favorite 6 best apps for fitness and weight loss? Are there any other apps that I should check out? Let me know in the comments!

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Cheap and Simple Carpet Deodorizer

cheap and simple carpet deodorizer

Cheap and Simple Carpet Deodorizer

I use a very simple trick for when carpets are smelling “off” or just need to be refreshed. Carpets can get dirty and smelly very easily, especially with children or pets running around in the house! This carpet deodorizer is completely natural and very inexpensive! You only need two ingredients and a vacuum cleaner!

You will need:

Place 2-3 cups of baking soda into a large bowl. You may need more or less, depending on how large of an area you are working on. Put 20-25 drops of essential oil in the bowl and use a fork to mash it into the baking soda and mix. Sprinkle the baking soda mixture onto the carpet and leave for about 30 minutes. If you have kids, it is best to do this AFTER they go to bed. If you do it while they are awake, they will track it everywhere. Bonus, they will smell like lavender. Once 30 minutes has passed, vacuum it up and enjoy the smell! You can use any kind of essential oil but I like lavender for house cleaning. It is also kid safe! I have also used citrus oils and they smell nice as well. If you want to deodorize without any essential oil, baking soda alone will work just fine.

You probably already have a vacuum and baking soda. For my essential oil, I like Aura Cacia oils. I have nothing against the larger companies, I just don’t care for multi-level marketing in general! I have read independent studies on essential oils, and the quality of Aura Cacia compares to the two large MLM brands. If you choose to use a large MLM brand, I believe that both Young Living and DoTerra include lavender oil in their starter kits! You can also purchase Aura Cacia lavender oil at Thrive Market or Amazon, which I linked above. For a more budget-friendly oil, try NOW essential oils on Amazon. I will do a full blog post at a later time talking about the different ways that I use essential oils in my home.

How do you use essential oils, and what is your favorite brand? Tell me about it in the comments!

Thrifty & Simple carpet deodorizer. Use this cheap and easy recipe (2 ingredients) to get your carpets smelling nice and clean!



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15 things I learned in the first 15 days of the Whole 30

15 Things I learned in the first 15 days of the Whole 30

  1. The first few days are the worst. They really are. Days 3-5 are a big mess. You’re going to want to give up, don’t. It gets better. 
  2. You can only eat eggs so many ways. I have eaten scotch eggs, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, egg drop soup, and a whole bunch of hard boiled eggs. I really do love eggs, but there are only so many ways to be creative with your eggs.
  3. Home-made mayo and ranch are GOOD! I love the home-made ranch and mayonnaise that I have learned to make. I plan to keep making them after the Whole 30 is over. You are using much healthier ingredients than traditional ranch, and the cost is about the same or less than purchasing the processed stuff.
  4. There is added sugar in everything. EVERYTHING!! Lunch meat, nut butters, dried fruit, chicken broth, it’s ridiculous.
  5. Meal planning is very important. I did much better at meal planning the first week. The second week I was throwing things together last minute. If I do the Whole 30 again, I will probably make a more detailed plan and also do some freezer meals. I am going to try to do better with meal planning for the rest of my Whole 30.
  6. It’s okay to drink black coffee. I never, ever, EVER thought I would say this. I love coffee creamer, I used “healthy-ish” coconut milk creamer, and I loved it. Two weeks in I am drinking my coffee either black or with a very small amount of compliant coconut milk. It really tastes fine. My husband is drinking his coffee black and he has gotten used to it too.
  7. You can find support out there, even if it isn’t at home. I am lucky enough that my husband is participating (mostly) in the Whole 30 with me. Even if your spouse/parents/kids/roommates are not participating, there is support out there. Check out the forums on or use the #whole30challenge hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. You can find support for your Whole 30 if you look for it!
  8. You will get to the point where nothing sounds appetizing. Somewhere around days 10-12 you will just get bored. Nothing sounds good. This seems to be completely normal and will pass soon. On day 12 I ate boiled eggs and almond butter, and drank green tea and water. Just eat whatever does sound good, and drink a lot of water. Your appetite will come back.
  9. Going out to eat is really hard. It’s possible to go out to eat on the Whole 30, but it’s difficult. If you are struggling with your Whole 30, I wouldn’t risk going out to eat. If you need to go out and you know there won’t be any compliant food, just eat beforehand. You can always have some tea, coffee, or water at the restaurant.
  10. Most people aren’t going to understand. This kind of ties into number 9. Most people won’t understand why you are doing a Whole 30. You can try to explain, but it may be a lost cause. Don’t listen to the people who aren’t supportive. If someone is telling you that it’s okay to eat something “just once” or that “you don’t need to be on a diet” then they really don’t understand what you are doing or why.
  11. You need to have emergency snacks prepared. You are supposed to eat three meals and limit snacks during the Whole 30. That being said, having a Whole 30 compliant snack is much better than quitting your Whole 30 because you are hungry. Make sure to keep boiled eggs, carrot sticks with compliant ranch, some nuts or fruit, or even compliant Lara Bars handy for emergency snacking purposes.
  12. You don’t have to eat “breakfast” food for breakfast. If leftover Paleo chili sounds good for breakfast, eat it! Typical “breakfast” foods are definitely not Whole 30 approved, and like I said in #2, you can only have eggs so many ways. If you start to get bored with Whole 30 compliant “breakfasts,” try to mix up what you are eating and eat something else in the morning.
  13. You’re going to learn new recipes that you love. I know that I have stumbled upon a few Whole 30 compliant recipes that are really good! I plan to make these recipes even after the Whole 30 is over. I made egg drop soup for the first time ever, and it is so easy and so good!
  14. Cauliflower rice is disgusting. Okay, so this is just a personal opinion. I kept seeing rave reviews on cauliflower “rice” on Pinterest, Whole 30 forums, and all over the Paleo world. I made some and it is so gross. No one ate it. We like spiralized veggie “noodles” but cauli-rice was just a big NO.
  15. It works, and it’s worth it. Sometime during the middle of the program you really that it really works. Maybe you feel better, or you are sleeping better. Maybe your skin has cleared up, or your clothes are feeling loose. I don’t know anyone who has done a Whole 30 that hasn’t seen benefits from it in some way or another.

So there you have it, that is 15 things I learned in the first 15 days of the Whole 30! If you have any tips or suggestions, or disagree with me on cauliflower rice, let me know in the comments!

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8 Uses for Coconut Oil

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8 Uses for Coconut Oil

I absolutely love the versatility of coconut oil! I use it every single day. It is an amazing product to have when you are traveling, it can act as several products all in one. I use coconut oil for many things, but these are my favorite 8 uses for coconut oil.

1. Facial moisturizer: I don’t even use a regular moisturizer, I just use coconut oil. I am pretty low maintenance when it comes to my appearance, and this works really well for me.

2. Face wash: What?? Yes, you can wash your face with oil. It sounds weird, but it works. Put a little coconut oil on a rag and use it to clean your face.

3. Makeup remover: If washing your face with oil sounds weird, try using it as a makeup remover instead. It works great, even on stubborn eye makeup.

4. Diaper rashes: For babies with a mild diaper rash, coconut oil can help clear the skin quickly. It’s also a great preventative treatment to keep rashes away. I found it to be cloth diaper safe, whereas many diaper rash creams are not. If you are concerned about your cloth diapers, you can always use a small fleece lining to keep the oil away from the diaper.

5. Hair Conditioner: Coconut oil is an awesome hair conditioner.  Apply a very light amount to your hair and let it sit for as long as you’d like. Make sure to rinse well!

6. Dental Hygiene: You can purchase a pre-made toothpaste, make a DIY toothpaste, or simply use the oil for “oil pulling.” There are many reasons that coconut oil is wonderful for dental health, check out some of them listed here.

7. Lotion Replacement: If you or your children have sensitive skin, coconut oil is a great replacement for chemical-filled lotion! In warm climates the oil will be liquid. At colder temperatures, warm the oil by running the jar under some hot water to make it easier to work with.

8. Cooking: This one is pretty obvious, but it is great for baking, or replacing any unhealthy industrial seed oils.

The coconut oil picture is from Aldi. I love shopping at Aldi for healthy and gluten free foods. A “how to” guide for shopping at Aldi coming SOON! How do you use coconut oil? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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What to do when you mess up the Whole 30

What to do when you mess up the Whole 30

Why am I writing about this? Well, lucky day 13 didn’t go very well. Actually, it was a complete disaster. It wasn’t an accident, I made the decision to eat things that were definitely not within the program guidelines. I paid for it last night and this morning. It started with eating a few of the kids (gluten-free) crackers. After that, I had a few sips of red wine, and then we ended up going out to eat at a Japanese steak house.  The only good thing is that I am very careful never to eat gluten, and I did not have any dairy either. However, I know that I had soy, sugar, alcohol, rice, and probably corn. It wasn’t a good day. I woke up around midnight feeling sick to my stomach, and it hasn’t improved much in the eight hours since.

So, what do you do when you mess up the Whole 30? The guidelines here are pretty clear. You start over. My plan of action is to continue the program for longer, something that I was thinking about doing anyway. When you talk about “starting over” it seems so negative. For me, thinking of it as extending the program just seems like a better idea. I realize that it’s exactly the same thing. When you extend it, you still have the same results and don’t feel like you have failed. Something that I ate is bothering me, a lot. I plan to do the slow reintroduction so that I can see exactly what it is. I suspect corn and soy, but doing the full reintroduction process should help me narrow it down for certain.

My plan of action for today is to drink a lot of water, and hopefully start feeling better at some point. I think that it’s important to get back on the program, and not give up. If you’re doing a Whole 30, comment below with which day you are on and how you are feeling!

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House of Flynn Travel Wallet Review

photography bucket list, money saving blog, budgeting blog, healthy eating blog, whole 30 blog, bucket list blog, photography blog, live eat save simplifyIf you are a photographer, a creative, or a lover or really cute bags, you have to check out The House of Flynn! I stumbled on the House of Flynn last
year and in addition to the beautiful products I have also discovered a wonderful community.

The bought a Travel Wallet shortly after they were released. The word “wallet” is a bit of a stretch, this thing is huge! It has slots for plane tickets, passports, and everything else that you could possibly want to take on a trip! This one is genuine black leather with black plaid interior. I wasn’t sure about the interior when I ordered it, but upon arrival I decided that I do like it. The wallet has a large front pocket. I like this pocket because I can put my phone in it. I have a Galaxy Note 4, so my phone doesn’t fit in very many wallets. It seems silly, but I love the pen holder in the middle. I am always digging around in my large camera bag for a pen. There is also a small snapping pocket on the inside, which could be handy for change. The construction on this wallet is very sturdy, and I’m sure that it will last for a long time.

I have a Coach wallet that I love, so this travel wallet won’t be for every day use. My plan is to use it when I am shooting weddings, or when I am traveling. I love the idea of using this for a wedding. I usually have various pieces of paper with the wedding timeline, questionnaire, or portrait shot list. I will be able to fold them in half and put them in the front pocket for easy access. I also have an upcoming trip (I will post another blog with details in the near future) and I am excited to use this wallet for travel!

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photography bucket list, money saving blog, budgeting blog, healthy eating blog, whole 30 blog, bucket list blog, photography blog, live eat save simplify

This is the travel wallet sitting on top of a 13 inch Macbook. It’s huge!

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A close up of the card slot details.



This is not an affiliate link, I purchased this wallet at full price. I am simply reviewing it because I love it!

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Whole 30 Roasted Vegetable Recipe | Day 11

Whole 30 day 11

whole 30, whole 30 blog, whole 30 challenge, whole 30 eggs, healthy eating, paleo eating, paleo diet, primal, healthy living

The Whole 30

For more information about the whole 30, check out their website. The program is kind of like a strict Paleo diet. Certain food groups known to cause problems are eliminated for 30 days and then reintroduced. It is great for those who are struggling with cravings for sugar and other not-so-healthy foods and drinks. The program rules are listed here.

Day 11

The Whole 30 is going pretty well. I feel like I am sleeping better, and I feel better in general. I feel less bloated, and I noticed looking in the mirror that I look a little less bloated too. You aren’t supposed to weigh yourself during the 30 days, but I have lost 4 pounds. There isn’t really much else to tell right now. I am getting a little bored with what I am eating, but I have slacked in the meal planning the last few days. Meal planning is a very important part of the Whole 30, and I need to do better in that aspect. The timeline says that days 10 and 11 are the most difficult days. For me, I don’t think that is necessarily true. I am pretty bored with food in general, otherwise I feel okay. I need to work on my snacking, I am still snacking too much. Day 4 was horrible for me, other than that I have been feeling okay most of the time. I still feel like the timeline is a great resource, especially for those who have never eaten this way before.

I mentioned in my previous post that I have a hard time eating enough vegetables. I have discovered that if I made a big tray of these roasted vegetables, I will eat them at every meal and sometimes as a snack. It’s very simple, and really tasty. I use carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and sweet potato, but you can use whatever you have on hand!

Whole 30 Roasted Vegetable Recipe

Preheat the over to 425*

Grease your pan with a Whole 30 approved oil.

Chop vegetables and add them to the pan.

Toss the veggies in oil (I use olive oil) and add your favorite spices (I have used turmeric, cumin, and ginger and salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika.)

Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.

There you have it! It’s very simple and the vegetables taste really good.


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Thoughts on the whole 30 | Day 7

Whole 30 day 7
live eat save simplify, money saving blog, money saving, budgeting blog, budgeting, decluttering, decluttering advice, Amy Fillinger Photography, whole 30, whole 30 blog, paleo, paleo diet, paleo blog
Poached eggs & roasted vegetables

The Whole 30

For more information about the whole 30, check out their website. The program is kind of like a strict Paleo diet. Certain food groups known to cause problems are eliminated for 30 days and then reintroduced. It is great for those who are struggling with cravings for sugar and other not-so-healthy foods and drinks. The program rules are listed here.

MY reason

I had a few reasons for wanting to complete the program. I started a Whole 30 a few years ago and did not finish. I have a serious sugar problem. I am not going to use the word addiction, because I don’t think that is a word that should be used lightly. That being said, I eat way too much sugar. My main reason for wanting to eliminate all of these foods for 30 days was to tame my “sugar dragon.” I also have about ten extra pounds that I never lost after having baby number three, and I’d like to lose those. That isn’t a main goal, but it would be nice. I have Celiac disease, so gluten is already a no-go for me. I also know that I feel best when I limit soy/corn/dairy products, but I hadn’t been doing very well with that lately. There are about a million reasons to do a Whole 30, but that is my reason.

How it’s going so far

The website that I mentioned earlier has a timeline. The first few days of the timeline were pretty accurate for me. Day four was horrible, you really do want to “kill all the things.” Yesterday was day six. Interestingly enough, I felt GREAT yesterday. I had tons of energy. I realize that the timeline is just a guide, and it will vary for different people. I have eaten a lot of eggs, scotch eggs, hard boiled eggs, egg salad, scrambled eggs, I am poaching eggs this morning. Eggs for days.

My struggles

I don’t like vegetables. I wish I could say that I do, but I don’t. The program suggests filling every plate half full of vegetables. That has been a struggle for me, and there is no way that half of my meals have been vegetables. I have been eating vegetables more often, and that is a step in the right direction! It may not be perfect, but I call it a success. I have had a few cravings, mostly chocolate related. I also had a few hours where I wanted a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. That was extremely weird because they aren’t something that I would normally have anyway. Since discovering that I have Celiac disease, oats have been off limits. I have issues with certified Gluten Free oats, so it’s best for me to avoid them altogether.

Overall I feel like my Whole 30 is going well. The first few days were hard, but it’s getting better!


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