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20 Delicious Instant Pot Desserts You Need in Your Life!

The Instant Pot is a very versatile kitchen appliance. Not only can it make quick dinners on the double, but it’s also great for making desserts. If you really want to put your Instant Pot to great use, try these twenty Instant Pot desserts (with gluten free options) and add a few handy Instant Pot Accessories to help you up your game! Your family will thank you.If you really want to put your Instant Pot to great use, try these 20 instant pot desserts! This list includes gluten-free options too so get cooking!

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase.*

20 Delicious Instant Pot Desserts You Need in Your Life!

Have you ever had those nights when dinner just isn’t quite enough? You want to make a quick dessert, or maybe you’ve been craving cake all day, but don’t want to spend another hour in the kitchen baking. If you are looking for something delicious, quick, and easy to make for your next dessert, you are going to love these instant pot recipes! All of them are a delectable sweet treat that will leave you wanting more every single time! Here are 20 of the best Instant Pot desserts for a sweet treat.

Instant Pot Accessories you’ll need to Make these IP Dessert Recipes

Before we get to the dessert recipes, let’s talk Instant Pot Accessories for a minute. In addition to your Instant Pot, you’ll also need the right sized pans to fit inside your IP. A good rule of thumb is 6″ and 7″ pans will fit inside 6 qt Instant Pots and 8″ pans will fit inside 8 qt Instant Pots. Make sure your pans fit your instant Pot before you try these recipes. 🙂

The other Instant Pot accessory you may want to invest in, is a set of colored sealing rings. One of my favorite things to cook in my Instant Pot is unsoaked dried beans. If you’ve used your instant pot a lot, you probably noticed that it retains an odor that can transfer to other dishes. If I don’t want my lovely flourless cake to taste like the dried beans I love to cook, all I have to do is switch out the rings. You can get a set of three different colored sealing rings on Amazon for $15 or less. Here’s a set for a 6 qt Instant Pot, and here’s a set for an 8 qt Instant Pot. instant-pot-dulce-de-leche-lava-cake-recipe-1

Let’s see the 20 Delicious Instant Pot Dessert Recipes!

Now that you’ve checked your instant pot accessories, it’s time to chose your favorite recipe and get cooking! From cheesecake to coffeecake, to brownies and cobbler, one of the next fourteen recipes is sure to pique your interest. And if you’re looking for gluten-free options, scroll on down to see the next six options. Enjoy!

      1. Pumpkin Cheesecake
      2. Instant Pot Dump Cake
      3. Dulce de Leche Lava Cake
      4. Pineapple Upside Down Cake
      5. Peach Cobbler
      6. Chocolate Lava Cake
      7. Passion Fruit Pie
      8. Instant Pot Cake
      9. Key Lime Pie
      10. Peanut Butter Brownies
      11. Blueberry Coffee Cake
      12. Angel Food Cake
      13. Monkey Bread
      14. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

The Instant Pot is a very versatile kitchen appliance. Not only can it make quick dinners on the double, but it's also great for making desserts. If you really want to put your Instant Pot to great use, try these 20 instant pot desserts and add a few handy Instant Pot Accessories to help you up your game!

Gluten Free Instant Pot Desserts

Looking for gluten-free options? All of the following recipes are gluten-free, or can be with careful ingredient selection.

    1. Orange Chocolate Cake
    2. Chocolate Pudding with Fresh Berries & Omega 3s
    3. Chocolate Orange Cheesecake – can be gluten free if you use gluten free cookies
    4. Keto Cheesecake
    5. Caramel Popcorn
    6. Vanilla and Jam Rice Pudding

If you liked this post on Instant Pot Desserts, you’ll like these dinner recipes too

Instant Pot Chicken and Rice with Lemon & Feta

IP Pot Beef Roast w/ Rigatoni

IP Pork Roast w/ Rosemary & Garlic

I’d love to hear from you! What type of instant pot dessert recipe have you made before? Or what would you like to make?

Almond Milk Pancakes: Dairy Free Pancake Recipe

Looking  a dairy free pancake recipe? Almond milk pancakes are not only fluffy vegan pancakes, but they are kid {and mom} approved and deee-licious! Served with fresh, in-season berries, a sprinkle of superfruit seed food, and wonderful maple syrup, these no egg pancakes will be the hit of your next brunch.

Looking for a dairy free pancake recipe? Almond milk pancakes make delicious fluffy vegan pancakes, are kid and mom approved, and deee-licious! Served with in-season berries, a sprinkle of super food, and wonderful maple syrup, these no egg pancakes will be the hit of your next brunch. #brunchwithbarleans

*This post is sponsored by Barleans. All opinions are mine. #BrunchwithBarleans*

Almond Milk Pancakes: Yummy Dairy Free Pancake Recipe

Wondering why the sudden interest in vegan recipes on this blog? I’ve mentioned before that my daughter has a dairy sensitivity and we’re trying to reduce her consumption of dairy. I also joined a 21 day blogger challenge where I have to replace meat and dairy in one meal a day for plant-based options.

I’m always happen to partner with Barleans on recipe creation, and today I have a fun giveaway at the end of this post. So make sure you read to the end!

no egg pancakes

And last, I know I have search the recipes on google for no egg pancakes. Sometimes I have everything but the eggs and there has to be a way to make fluffy no egg pancakes right?This recipe fits the bill. It is dairy-free, egg-free, and yet still makes fluffy vegan pancakes! My kids devour these pancakes. They don’t think they are missing anything at all. And they aren’t.

Looking for a dairy-free, egg-free pancake recipe? Almond milk pancakes make delicious fluffy vegan pancakes, are kid and mom approved, and deee-licious! Served with in-season berries, a sprinkle of super food, and wonderful maple syrup, these no egg pancakes will be the hit of your next brunch. #brunchwithbarleans

They are freezer friendly and perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, an after school snack, OR dinner! Pin this post today so you can access the recipe whenever you want.

Let’s make these Fluffy Vegan Pancakes

This recipe comes together just like your standard pancake recipe. Make a buttermilk of sorts with almond milk and apple cider vinegar, and then add vanilla and melted coconut oil. Then add the wet ingredients to flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well and cook in more melted coconut oil.

Finally, top these delicious no egg pancakes with Barlean’s Superfruit Seed Blend (a delicious mix of all-organic shredded coconut, ground flaxseed and berry powders), pure maple syrup, and fresh berries, these almond milk pancakes steal the show at my house. We like the added nutritional punch the Superfruit Seed Blend provides. And fresh berries and pure maple syrup make just about everything better.

665 cal
12 g
126 g
19 g

Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info

Yields 4 servings

Serves 4 pancakes


Almond Milk Pancakes: Yummy Dairy Free Pancake Recipe + Giveaway

No egg, fluffy vegan pancakes made with almond milk and topped with fresh berries and pure maple syrup.

10 minPrep Time

10 minCook Time

20 minTotal Time

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Recipe Image


  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp REAL salt
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla
  • 2 TBS Barleans Culinary Coconut Oil , melted, plus more for frying the pancakes in.
  • Toppings
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Fresh, organic berries
  • Sprinkle Barleans Superfruit Seed Blend


  1. Mix milk and apple cider vinegar in small bowl. Combine well and let it sit approx. 5 minutes to thicken while you get everything else ready. This will create an almond "buttermilk."
  2. Combine dry ingredients in medium sized bowl.
  3. Add vanilla and melted coconut oil to the almond milk and stir well. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  4. Batter should be lumpy - don't over mix.
  5. Melt more coconut oil on a griddle and get it nice and hot. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour batter on hot griddle.
  6. Flip when the batter starts to bubble and and the edges are nicely browned.
  7. Serve with Barleans Superfruit Seed Blend, fresh berries, and pure maple syrup. Enjoy!


This recipe makes appprox. 16 3-4 inch pancakes.

A word about using Culinary Coconut oil in this recipe. I like the flavor of coconut oil in my baked goods, but some people don’t. If you don’t like the coconut oil flavor, don’t worry! Barleans Culinary Coconut Oil is flavorless and does not affect the taste of foods.

stack of no egg pancakes with syrup being poured over them

The other great thing about this recipe is that the pancakes freeze very well. It’s not hard at all to quadruple this recipe. The hard part is snagging the fluffy vegan pancakes away from your family so that some of them end up in the freezer. 🙂

If you like this freezer friendly dairy-free pancake recipe, you might like these recipes too:

Freezer friendly eggnog waffles

Tropical Nice Cream

Blueberry Nice Cream

How about a #BrunchwithBarleans giveaway?

barleans culinary coconut oil and superfruit blend

Now that you have my delicious dairy free pancake recipe, how about a giveaway for one of the ingredients?Use the Rafflecopter from below to enter.

Prize: Your choice of culinary coconut oil OR superfruit seed blend! This contest is to US Residents 18 years and older and it ends May 14, 2018 at 11:59 pm CST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What to Plant in Your Veggie Garden in May {Zone 5}

Wondering what to plant in your garden in May? This list of warm weather veggies to plant in May will help you achieve your zone 5 gardening goals!Wondering what to plant in your garden in May? This list of warm weather veggies to plant in May will help you achieve your zone 5 gardening goals!

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my site.*

My area of Eastern Iowa has an average last frost date of May 15, and gardening gets really busy in May in Zone 5. The average last frost date is what determines the order of planting for your veggie garden. If your last frost date is around May 15, this list is perfect for you. If your last frost date is before or after mine, you will need to adjust accordingly. Not sure what gardening zone you live in? Use this handy tool to input your zip code and find out. This tool will tell you what your last frost date is based on your zip code.

{By May in Zone 5, you  could have planted cool weather crops already. Check out this list of plants that can be planted in April in Zone 5. Depending on the weather, it’s probably fine to plant these cool weather crops in May as well.} Our spring weather has been really cool this year so I’m still planting cool weather crops.

What to Plant in your Garden in May {Zone 5}

Hopefully, you are not bogged down with cold and rain, like we are in my neck of the woods. I can’t tell you how many times I have fallen for the warm weather trick and planted the wrong crops in mid to late April, only to have them killed or severally stunted by cold, dreary weather. I’m happy to report that I’ve learned and now wait until mid May to plant the following crops. Here’s what you should be planting in a Zone 5 garden in May.

  • Beans, after May 5, direct sow seeds
  • Beets, anytime during May, direct sow seeds
  • Cabbage, early May, plant seedlings
  • Carrots, early May, direct sow seeds
  • Lettuce, early May, direct sow seeds
  • Potatoes, early May, plant seed potatoes using the no-dig method
  • Radish, early May, direct sow seeds
  • Sweet corn, early May {as long as it’s not too cold and rainy}, direct sow seeds

Zone 5 Gardening: the following seeds and seedlings need to be planted AFTER all danger of frost has passed:

  • Cucumber, mid May, direct sow seeds
  • Eggplant, mid May, plant seedlings
  • Pepper, mid May, plant seedlings
  • Pumpkins, mid May, direct sow seeds
  • Squash, mid May, direct sow seeds
  • Tomatoes, mid May, plant seedlings

Don’t forget Companion Plants!

A lot of companion flowers and herbs can be planted in May too. Companion plants help attract beneficial bugs and keep bad bugs at bay, so make sure you add some to your garden plan. You can also get a jump start on June Gardening Chores here if you’re curious what’s coming next.

Let's Garden! Printable Garden Planting Guide Zone 5

Want  a handy place to keep track of when to plant what? Sign up for my weekly newsletter and get access to my Free Printable Garden Planting Guide! It tells you when to plant what from April to August and helps you keep track of the details!

And finally, if you are new to vegetable gardening, make sure to check out my list of 10 practical tips for new gardeners! It’s sure to be a big help.

Happy Gardening!”

How to Start Beekeeping: Beginning Beekeeping Supplies

If you want to learn how to start beekeeping, here’s a helpful list of beginning beekeeping supplies you’ll need in addition to your beehive kits, plus a few tips and tricks to help you survive your bee pick up and the first week with your bees.If you want to learn how to start beekeeping, here's a helpful list of beginning beekeeping supplies you'll need for beehive kits plus a few tips and tricks to survive the first week with your bees.

*This post is sponsored by Theisen’s. All opinions are mine.*

How to Start Beekeeping: Beginning Beekeeping Supplies

Keeping bees is a new endeavor for me as we just got our first bees a few weeks ago. It was something I’ve been thinking about for a long though, and I’m excited that it’s finally happened! As I was busy learning about how to start beekeeping, one thing I was most concerned with was beehive kits and a list of beginning beekeeping supplies. I knew I’d need a hive and bees, but the other things? That I didn’t really know. beginner beehive kitSo, I was excited to find almost everything I need for my 10-12,000 bees in one convenient box at Theisen’s Home Farm Auto! We buy a lot at Theisen’s including animal feed, supplies for our chickens and dogs, even baby chicks, and farm clothing.

I love to support local business and was interested to learn that Theisens started out as Theisen’s Battery & Electric in 1927 in Dubuque, Iowa, and now has 23 stores across Iowa and Wisconsin.  Since we find so many useful things there, I was not surprised to find everything I need to get started as a beginning beekeeper, including a complete 10 frame beginner hive kit full of great supplies.

Beginning Beekeeping Supplies that Belong in Beehive Kits

For your first bee hive, I recommend getting the beginner’s beehive kit at Theisen’s. It was worth it for me not to have to figure out how to assemble my beehive. All I had to add was paint, and the beehive was ready. You can even order the honey bees directly from Theisen’s and they’ll deliver them straight to your post office! Almost everything I list below was included in the kit. If you’d rather  piece one together yourself, you certainly can. But, I really like that everything was altogether in one box and the beehive was already assembled! Here’s a list of things you’ll need:

  • Beehive & all parts. I recommend the Beginning Beehive Kit at Theisen’s
  • Blocks for elevating the beehive off the ground and a board to set on the blocks
  • Hat & Veil, we got two sets so my husband and I can work together
  • Long leather gloves
  • Smoker
  • Brush
  • Pry bar

Items you’ll need that are not included with the Beginning Beehive Kit

  • Spray bottle to spray sugar water on the bees to help calm them down when you put them in their hive
  • Outdoor paint for the outside of the beehive – don’t paint the interior
  • Protective bee suit, if you want
  • Bee food – equal parts sugar and water, cooled to room temperature.
  • Bee feeder – we used a quart sized mason jar and poked very small holes in the lid
  • If you can, buy a frame that’s full of honey from other bees to help your bees succeed

5 Tips to Get your Bees off to a Great Start

Help your first bee hive make it with these tips!

mason jar feeder for honey bees

1. Make sure they have food

Make sure your bees have food, as there’s nothing for them to eat before the flowers start blooming. I was happy to buy a frame full of honey for the hive to give the bees immediate food. The beginner’s beehive kit I bought included a feeder, but  because it was so cold when we got our bees, the beekeeper recommended using a mason jar feeder instead. It enables the bees to cluster together to feed and helps them keep warmer. You can buy mason jar feeders at Theisen’s, but I have tons of canning jars and all you have to do is poke very tiny holes in a lid to make your own feeder.

looking for eggs during the first hive check

2. Protect them from the cold

If it’s very cold when you get your bees, you will also want to protect them somehow. We stacked straw bales around our hive to help protect the hive for the terrible Iowa winds, and friends of mine wrapped their hive with insulation.

If you want to learn how to start beekeeping, here's a helpful list of beginning beekeeping supplies you'll need for beehive kits plus a few tips and tricks to survive the first week with your bees.

3. Learn How to Do Your First Hive Check

About a week after you hive your bees, you’ll want to check the hive to make sure the queen is out of her box and also to see if she has started laying eggs. We did not find eggs the first time we did a hive check, but I have read that it can take a couple weeks for the queen to start laying eggs and that we need to be patient. We will do another hive check in a couple days and hope to find eggs then!

register your bees with fieldwatch

4. Register your bees

If you’re in Iowa, register your bees up with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship so farmers know to be careful spraying. You might also want to buy signs to place around you property so people know you have bees. If you don’t live in Iowa, just google REGISTER BEES IN (your state) and you’ll learn how to register them!

5. Join a local beekeeping group and find a bee mentor

We’ve only had bees for a very short time, but I already understand how important it is to have a bee mentor for my questions! I’ve reached out to several people already, and it calms me a lot to be able to watch my friend Melanie deal with her hive first.  I highly recommend joining a local bee group and finding support groups on social media as well.

I wish you the best as you learn how to start beekeeping! Make sure to head over to Theisen’s to see their beginning beekeeping supplies and please share your questions and advice with me! I’d love to hear about your own beekeeping adventures. Connect with Theisen’s on facebook, twitter, and pinterest.

 If you liked this post on how to start beekeeping, you’ll like these too:

Beautiful Bee Friendly Plants to Add to Your Landscape

Save Bees from Drowning with this Homemade Bee Bath

If you want to learn how to start beekeeping, here's a helpful list of beginning beekeeping supplies you'll need for beehive kits plus a few tips and tricks to survive the first week with your bees. #beekeeping

5 Easy Healthy Spring Choices for Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018 is on April 22 is this year. To gear up for it, I’m sharing five healthy spring choices you can make to have a positive impact on the environment. From the cleaners we use, to the coral safe sunscreen we wear, to the food we eat, to the clothes we wear (organic cotton t shirts anyone?!), small choices can really add up. What can you do to make a difference this year?Earth Day 2018 is on April 22 is this year. To gear up for it, I'm sharing 5 easy healthy spring choices you can make to have a positive impact on the environment. From the the coral safe sunscreen we wear, to the food we eat, to the clothes we wear (organic cotton t shirts anyone?!), small choices can really add up.

*This post on healthy spring choices for Earth Day 2018 is sponsored by prAna. All opinions are mine. #GoOrganic #prAnaSpring18*

5 Easy Healthy Spring Choices for Earth Day 2018

If you’re wondering what to do in honor of Earth Day 2018, here are five healthy choices you can easily make this spring!

prAna hat & dress, coral safe sunscreen, reusable bag

1. Ditch the plastic shopping bags, once and for all!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve said over and over that you will ditch the plastic shopping bags and use reusable bags instead. But then reality hits and you’re at the store with NO bags. This has been my life for too many years. But not any more. Now, I just keep reusable bags everywhere. They’re in my car. In my purse. In my locker next to my coat. AND, it helps that I prefer to shop at stores that don’t provide bags too, like ALDI and Costco.

2. Switch to a Coral Safe Sunscreen

Coral reefs are disappearing twice as fast as rain forests. Did you know that? A big reason for the kill-off is chemicals in sunscreen. It’s easy to switch to a coral safe sunscreen even if you aren’t going anywhere near a coral reef. You still want a sunscreen without oxybenzone like this Stream 2 Sea or this Alba Spray for KidsEco-friendly mineral sunscreens are also better for you as well, so find a coral safe sunscreen this year and say no to the harmful chemicals.

3. Switch out one Chemical Cleaner for Something Homemade

Household cleaners contain all kinds of unsafe ingredients that leach into the ground and our ground water. It’s really easy to make your won cleaners with only a few ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. Think of the impact we could have if every person made even JUST ONE homemade cleaner in 2018. Here are recipes for five safe and effective cleaners to make quickly at home!

bowl of potatoes, tomatoes, and home grown flowers, broccoli, and cabbage

4. Grow even just ONE tomato plant in a container!

It’s really easy to grow your own food, and you don’t even need a huge garden to do it! This spring, make a commitment to grow something you can eat! Maybe you like fresh herbs, or lettuce. Or maybe a patio tomato container might be for you. Whatever you decide, grow a vegetable that you like this year and then eat it. 🙂

#GoOrganic Water

5. Buy Even ONE Organic Article of Clothing – soft organic cotton t shirts!

By choosing even one organic clothing article (even Organic Cotton t shirts!!) over a non organic counterpart, you can help prevent soil acidification and regenerate life and biodiversity in the soil; help protect farmers and their families from chemical exposure; and  save hundreds of gallons of water. Learn more about the impact of organic cotton here – BUT all it takes to have a meaningful impact is to switch out ONE conventional cotton t-shirt for an organic cotton t-shirt.

prAna Cybil Knit Fedora & Cantine Dress

I’m wearing a couple new prAna clothing articles in this post. I share about prAna from time to time because it’s s company I admire and I really love their clothes. From work out gear to casual to dressier items, I love everything I get from prAna. Check out my super cute hat here – it’s the Cybil Knit Fedora in Coal, made from hemp and organic cotton. And don’t you love this little black dress? It’s the Cantine Dress in Black, made from recycled polyester and spandex. I’m excited for warmer weather because this dress is really cute!

I hope these five easy actions get your head spinning for changes you can implement this Earth Day! Really, it’s not hard to make a positive impact on the earth!

What healthy choice are you going to make this year for Earth Day 2018? Let me know if the comments! And don’t forget to use code GGMM18 for 15% off your organic cotton dress order at prAna!

If you liked this post on Earth Day 2018, you might like these posts too

12 Green Gift Ideas for Eco-Friendly Mamas

How to Eat Organic on a Budget

Must Know Tips Save Money on Organic Meat

What’s in Your Cleaners?

Favorite Things from our 2018 Family Spring Break Colorado Style!

  Colorado is one of the most popular spring break destinations in the US. I headed there most years for spring skiing when I was in college, and we took off this year with our entire family. If you’re planning a Family Spring Break Colorado Extravaganza, our itinerary will inspire you for an amazing trip.Mt. Sopris from Sunlight Mountain Resort - one of our favorite views during our family spring break Colorado extravaganza

*This tip contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase.*

Favorite Things from our 2018 Family Spring Break Colorado!

This spring, we decided it was finally time to take our kids skiing. Dan and I have always enjoyed skiing together, but the kids have no real mountain experience. They’ve had a couple ski days in the Midwest, but that doesn’t really count, right?

Since Dan’s brother lives in the Rockies, we have a pretty good reason to go, and we had an amazing family spring break Colorado experience. We did more than ski – we also took our kids to Colorado Springs where two of them were born. Here’s how we spent our Spring Break in Colorado.Arriving Union Station Denver for family spring break Colorado

Our 1 Week Family Spring Break Colorado Itinerary

It’s a 13 hour drive to Denver from Iowa and we’ve done the drive a lot, but rarely with kids. This year, we decided to do something different and took an overnight Amtrak train. I have a post coming soon with a review of the California Zephyr train we took out, but let me just tell you, we LOVED it!

Neither Dan nor I can drive all night, so Amtrak was a great way to get us all there safely and more quickly than if we had to drive ourselves. We would have split the trip into two days which means four days of our spring break would have been spent driving. Taking Amtrak overnight really saved us a LOT of time!

In Denver

We arrived at Union Station in Denver Saturday morning {around 7 am}. The first thing we did was meet up with dear friends for a delicious breakfast at Snooze: an AM Eatery. Turns out, Union Station and vicinity are home to a lot of neat restaurants so we didn’t have to go far at all. The atmosphere at Snooze was really fun, as was seeing friends from the Air Force that we haven’t seen in probably 15 years.

Mazda CX-9 Outside Red Rocks Denver

Then we picked up our ride for the week, a 2018 Mazda CX-9 and headed to Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater. Mazda provided the car in exchange for an honest review, and the gosh honest truth is that we loved that car. It was a little small for our family of six PLUS luggage, but boy does it handle well on crowded interstates and snowy roads.Since we knew the car would be on the small side, we packed a little lighter than we may have otherwise. Always a good thing, because we had less crap to lug around. And if you’re in Denver, you have to stop in a Red Rocks – super fun and beautiful.

Beaujo's Colorado Style Pizza

After Red Rocks, we headed for Glenwood Springs where Dan’s brother lives. Before we got very far, though, we had a Colorado Style Pizza (thick crust served with honey) at BeauJo’s  in Idaho Springs. The pizza was a big hit until we got stuck in stop and go traffic on I-70. Luckily, only one kid puked in the car, and we were able to contain it pretty well until we finally got out of traffic and made it to Jake’s house. There’s always the one!

family skiing at the High Places Chapel at Sunlight Mountain Resort

Glenwood Springs

We spent the next four days in the Glenwood Springs area skiing, touring, and having fun. We skied three days at Sunlight Mountain Resort who provided skiing in exchange for blog coverage – watch for a more detailed review soon, but let me tell you quickly that Sunlight Mountain Resort was the perfect ski resort for our family. It was small enough that we felt comfortable letting the kids ski on their own, it had a great mellow vibe, and wasn’t crowded while we were there.

But don’t just take my word for it. Sunlight Mountain was also named Best Family Ski Package by the National Ski Areas Association in 2017! And they offer plenty of more difficult runs that Dan and I would have enjoyed a lot if the snow had been a bit better. But that’s spring skiing for you! The kids took a two hour lesson right off the bat and got pretty comfortable on the ski slopes. It’s amazing how quickly the little buggers picked up skiing!

Amtrak Station in Glenwood Springs Co

We also enjoyed walking around Glenwood Springs. Did you know you can take Amtrak all the way to Glenwood? Yup, and their station is very pretty. The Glenwood Springs Hot Springs looks really cool. We didn’t visit because we enjoyed a natural hot spring right by Jake’s house for free, but that didn’t stop us from watching the pool for a while. How would you like to be an outdoor lifeguard in the winter??? No thank you.

Glenwood Springs Hot Springs

One restaurant we really enjoyed in Glenwood Springs was Grind Glenwood. They served 100% grass fed locally raised (like right there in Glenwood) beef burgers, lots of fried goodies to accompany, and homemade sauces ! The Medi Burger was delicious – of course, most things with feta win in my book. 🙂

family portrait on a tree stump at Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon

Hanging Lake

On our last day in Glenwood Springs, we stopped at Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon and hiked up to a very beautiful lake. The hike was only one mile, which doesn’t sound far, but it was very steep and rocky. Parts of it were icy, parts were muddy, and parts were completely snow covered. It’s a good thing we had fabulous snow / hiking boots from KEEN, who provided shoes for our family adventures this year (we’re wearing their boots in the picture above).

I saw so many hikers who weren’t prepared with good shoes, people were falling, their fancy tennis shoes were covered in mud. We were so happy with our stable, comfortable, and easy on the eyes KEEN boots. We’ve been big KEEN fans for years!

Collage at Hanging Lake hike in Glenwood Canyon Colorado

The round trip to Hanging Lake took us about three hours and was pretty strenuous. It was totally worth it though. If you go, I highly recommend taking a hiking stick, water bottle, and snacks. Also, pay attention to the signs. Pack out your garbage and stay out of the water. I can’t believe the crap that some people think is ok to leave behind. I always take out extra trash when I’m hiking and I wish other people would too.

My son Ben made a little video of our trip. There’s room for improvement, but I think he’s going to find a job with me. I love the video and am excited to watch his video skills improve. 🙂

He wants me to let you know you can find him on YouTube at dapirandom. 🙂

garden of the gods colorado springs

Colorado Springs

After our four days in Glenwood Springs, we drove down to Colorado Springs on the fifth day. We arrived in Colorado Springs on Thursday and spent Friday and Saturday touring. We could have spent several more days there as we didn’t even touch the surface of fun things to do in Colorado Springs.

My two oldest kiddos were born in Colorado Springs, Anna and Ben. We moved to Iowa from there in 2006 after Dan separated from Active Duty Air Force and last visited in 2012. We were so excited to head back. It’s crazy how much the area continues to grow. When I was first there in 1993, it was so much smaller than it was when we moved out there again in 2002. And now it’s seems to have doubled in size again.

Colorado is one of the most popular spring break destinations in the US with beautiful weather and spring skiing. But there is more to do than just ski! If you're planning a Family Spring Break Colorado Extravaganza, our itinerary and tips can help!

On Friday, we had a lot of fun at the Cave of the Winds, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, and Garden of the Gods. Many thanks to Visit Pike’s Peak for sending VIP passes to facilitate our tours. The kids loved climbing the Wind Walker Challenge Course at Cave of the Winds and riding the Bat-a-Pult. I was content to take their pictures. 😉

Air Force Academy Chapel and fighter jet

On Saturday, we spent a couple of hours at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (not long enough) and then the next few hours the Air Force Academy showing the kids where their dear old dad taught and also went to college. After we finished at USAFA, we got back in the Mazda and fought traffic all the way to Denver. We caught overnight Amtrak home again and arrived in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa at 10 am on Easter Sunday.

IvyWild School Colorado Springs

One place Dan and I really enjoyed visiting in Colorado Springs was the IvyWild School which has been turned into a community marketplace. It houses Bristol Brewery, restaurants, bakery, coffee shops, and more. Dan enjoyed Bristol Brewery when we lived in Colorado Springs some time ago and we were thrilled to find out that they have undertaken a big neighborhood revitalization effort in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Colorado Springs. What they’ve done with this old school is pretty amazing and if you’re in Colorado Springs, you need to check it out!

red mazda cx-9 outside union station in Denver

Mazda CX-9

I mentioned above how much we loved the CX-9 and here are a few reasons why.

  • First, it was really comfortable and quiet car. With seats for seven, all six of us AND our luggage for a week was able to fit (with some juggling & impressive tetris sessions).
  • Mazda added lots of sound deadening to the CX-9, and it’s noticeably quiet. The kids were mostly quiet in the car too because we wore them out!
  • We also really appreciated the safety features of the CX-9,  including blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alerts. Gotta keep precious cargo safe, right?
  • Dan’s favorite feature was the radar cruise control which controlled the car effortlessly in stop and go interstate traffic. We drove in some bad conditions at Vail Pass and were very thankful for AWD and Smart City Break Support. 
  • I really loved the heads up speed and navigation display and the heated seats. Not only were front seats heated, but the middle row seats were also heated, which thrilled the three kids who got to sit there.

packing up the mazda cx-9 in Colorado Springs with the front range in the background

  • The only problem for us was lack of space. For day to day use, the CX-9 is amazing. But for longer trips, we’d need a luggage roof rack for sure. Three kids across the middle is just not a long term solution for us. The longest we were in the CX-9 was five hours, and that was plenty for them because they were really squished by all of our luggage. (Certainly not their fault, just their reality).
  • In all, I would love to own a Mazda CX-9. When it’s time to upgrade our current family car, I will look into one for sure. And that’s the truth! It was the perfect car for our Family Spring Break Colorado Style!

Our family Spring Break Colorado Style included so many fun things. From skiing, to hiking, to thrill rides, and zoos, we had the best time in Colorado this year. Have you taken your family to Colorado? What was your favorite part?

If you liked this post on our family spring break Colorado extravaganza, you might like these too:

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Colorado is one of the most popular spring break destinations in the US with beautiful weather and spring skiing. But there is more to do than just ski! If you're planning a Family Spring Break Colorado Extravaganza, our itinerary and tips can help!


7 Methods of Natural Weed Control for a Weed Free Garden

These 7 methods of natural weed control will free you from spending all your time weeding and help you establish a weed free garden! If you’re as tired of weeding your garden as I am, then you need these tips in your life.These 7 methods of natural weed control will free you from spending all your time weeding and help you establish a weed free garden! If you're as tired of weeding your garden as I am, then you need these tips for a weed free garden.

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission from your purchase.*

Welcome back to Tuesdays in the Garden! I’m excited for the beginning of the gardening season, even though we’re currently covered in snow. It’s supposed to be 70 degrees on Thursday! Then more snow over the weekend, and then maybe, if we’re lucky, spring might decide to stick around permanently.

tuesdays in the garden

This year, expect Tuesdays in the Garden on the second Tuesday of each month. On that Tuesday, my favorite gardening buddies and I will bring you lots of amazing gardening tips. On this second Tuesday in April, we’re helping you start your gardening season off on the right foot.  With that in mind, I’m helping you create a weed-free garden this year. Scroll to the end to find everyone else’s amazing gardening tips.

7 Methods of Natural Weed Control for a Weed Free Garden

1. Use Thick Black Plastic a as Weed Barrier –

I have learned over the years that weeds will quickly overtake my garden if I’m not proactive. I can see the little weeds first thing in the spring. They’re the first living things to appear in my garden! I’ve watched with interest as other gardeners cover their gardens with thick black plastic to prevent the weeds from coming up in the first place and this year I finally did it myself.

plastic weed barrier in a large garden

Cover your garden with black plastic in the fall if you’re on the ball, or in the spring like me if you’re not. This year, I covered a lot of my garden with an 8 mm black poly that I bought at Menards. I also used old tarps that my husband found somewhere. Probably the trash. 😉 I did cover my raised beds with cardboard in the fall, but for my main garden area, I used the black plastic and other tarps. I just can’t come up with that much cardboard or find an effective way to keep it safe from our windy climate.

2. Mulch – 

Mulching your garden is one of the best things you can do for it. Not only does it keep weeds down, it also keeps moisture in. If you don’t mulch your garden, you need to start. Immediately! Read this post for lots of tips on how to mulch and where you might be able to find it for free. If you have enough cardboard, layer mulch on top of it. Or even on top of old newspapers.

3. Plant Thickly – 

A great way to have a weed free garden is to plant your veggies quite thickly. If your soil is full of nutrients it will support more and as you thin plants out to give other veggies room to grow, you gain food at the same time! For instance, plant carrots and radishes together. The radishes will grow (and mature) more quickly, so as the carrots need the space, harvest and eat the radishes!

4. Adopt the No-Till Gardening Method – 

This is something I have had to work really hard to convince my husband we need to do. I’m not honestly sure why, even most of the commercial farmers around here don’t till anymore. But for some reason, Dan thinks we must till. Unfortunately, tilling your garden destroys the soil organism habitat and beneficial fungal networks that healthy soil needs. It also brings all the weed seeds front and center making it easier for them to grow!

We are in the process of establishing permanent beds throughout my garden and making permanent walk-ways. We’re also not tilling any more. After years of tilling, it will be a transition, but it’s one I’m very excited about making! Read more about transitioning to a no-till garden here.

flowers for the garden

5. Add Lots of Flowers – 

This goes along with plant thickly, but it’s also great for companion planting. Flowers not only provide needed food for the lovely bees, but they can also ward off harmful insects and enhance production and flavor of some veggies. Read my companion planting guide and make sure to add lots of flowers to your garden this year.

6. Water Individual Plants and not the Whole Garden –

Weeds also need water to grow, so not watering areas where there are no veggies can help keep weeds down. Instead of sprinkling the entire garden, install drip irrigation around only your vegetables. This is something I need to do better in my garden this year. I rarely water my garden, but when I do, it’s via sprinkler to the entire plot.

7. Pull Weeds when They’re Tiny – 

If you pull weeds when they’re very small, they will come out a lot easier than if you want until they’re 10 feet tall with 8 foot roots. I know, I’ve had HUGE weeds in my garden in the past (like last year). Also, when you pull weeds out when they’re very tiny, they won’t have gone to seed. Getting them before they go to seed will be much better for you in the long run. I personally love my loop hoe. It does a fabulous job of pulling tiny weeds out by their roots.

8. Bonus Option I haven’t personally tried, Use an Organic Weed Preventer

Last year when I was at Moss Mountain Farm, P Allen Smith mentioned that he uses an organic weed preventer to prevent crabgrass, dandelions, and other weeds. I have never tried this method, but it sounds intriguing to me, and I’d love to hear if you have tried it and if so, what you thought. Essentially, you sprinkle this on your garden, much as a conventional farmer uses a chemical pre-emerge, and it prevents weeds from growing in the first place. If you use an organic pre-emerge, be careful. I have read that it won’t let ANYTHING grow, so sprinkle it around already established plants, and NOT in areas where you intend to plant seeds.

Tuesdays in the Garden Season Opener!

Want more gardening tips? Check out what my Tuesdays in the Garden friends have in store for you this month! I’m excited to read these posts. 🙂 Just click on the picture or the link underneath to go right to each of their posts.

hand trowel in a raised vegetable bed

Shelly at Frugal Family Home – 7 Tips for Preparing Your Garden for the Growing Season

perennials in containers

Patti at Hearth & Vine – Perennials for Containers – frugal ways to fill your flower pots

an oregon cottage

Jami at An Oregon Cottage – Easy to Grow Vegetableshomemade food junkie

Diane at Homemade Food Junkie – 9 tips for Gardening Success

angie the freckled rose

Angie the Freckled Rose – April Gardening in Zone 6

Like this post for creating a weed free garden? You might like these too:

Inspirational Homesteading Books Every Home Library Needs

The Ultimate Guide to Finding and Using Free Mulch

Ten Practical Tips for First Time Gardeners

Top 10 Plants for an Early Spring Harvest

These 7 methods of natural weed control will free you from spending all your time weeding and help you establish a weed free garden! If you're as tired of weeding your garden as I am, then you need these tips for a weed free garden.


High Quality Picture Prints at Home w/ Qimage One Review + Giveaway

Wondering how to get high quality picture prints at home? Check out this Qimage One Review and enter to win a copy of the handy software at the end of the blog post. Take your home picture printing game to the next level with Qimage One.High Quality Picture Prints at Home w Qimage One Review

*I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are mine.*

High Quality Picture Prints at Home w/ Qimage One Review + Giveaway

As moms, we probably all take lots of photos of our kids. But how often do we print those photos? Probably not as often as we intend to. I know I’m guilty of that and part of it is because sometimes it’s a hassle to upload and order them and sometimes I’m just disappointed with the color quality of the pictures that I print. Usually, I don’t have the supplies I need on hand either.

Collage of 4 pictures in a Qimage One Review

This changed recently when I got an exclusive opportunity to try out some new photo printing software called Qimage One. One of the things I loved about it right off the bat is that it works on both Mac and Windows and I only need one license to use it on both of my machines at home!

Grove Cleaning Concentrates

What I really noticed though is that Qimage One’s unique Deep Focus Sharpening and Interpolation technology makes a difference that I can actually see. I don’t know exactly how it works but it does! As a blogger, I take a lot of photos of the bounty from my garden, the barn, our chickens, the places I get to travel to, the meals for which I share recipes.

I LOVE having photos that I’ve taken hanging in my kitchen. For Oak Tree Homes, we have to take and print photographs of our home builds and remodeling projects and showcase them at builder’s conferences and home shows. Having great quality prints is important for our businesses.side by side comparison of two photos using Qimage One photo printing software

I really appreciate that Qimage One’s sharpening technology makes a difference when I want to crop a picture and print just that, like this picture of Cora (These are the actual prints). The Qimage One version on the right is sharper and Cora’s features are warmer and more realistic.

Qimage One is Useful for School Projects

Moreso, Qimage One is just useful for quite a few things we do at home. I can customize photo sizes, layouts, cropping, and orientation. And that makes it great for creating collages to frame or for printing a number of photos that the kids need for their school projects. For my scrapbooking friends who need to print photos in a variety of sizes, this is perfect!

You can create your own custom print sizes that you can’t order online. It saves so much photo paper by maximizing how many photos you can put on a page especially when you’re using 5×7 or 8×10 or larger paper. Plus, you have the option of adding any size or color border or cut marks to make cropping easier too.

Honestly, the layout took a little bit of getting used to. There are a lot of options because this software is geared to both your everyday photographer and the professional photographer too. Once you get a feel for it, though, it’s easy! And thankfully, to get the very best photo quality, the software takes care of the complex details so that I don’t have to. Qimage One support was very responsive to any questions I had AND they have useful videos that explain how the software works. Check them out here.

screen shot of pictures in a folder on Qimage One Review

I’m all about some good delegation so I got the kids involved by letting them pick a bunch of their favorite pictures. Then we moved them into an album, opened them in  Qimage One and printed them. Now it’s easy to slide them into photo albums and they look great! And that makes great gifts for the grandparents too!

Make the Most of Qimage One with these Pro Tips

To get the best results, the developers of Qimage One recommend using semi-gloss photo paper from your printer manufacturer. For instance, a Canon printer would look good with (affiliate links) Canon Photo Paper Semi-gloss SG-201. And if you have an HP Printer, use this HP paper.  Also, they recommend using manufacturer ink cartridges instead of the cheap knock-off cartridges {I have been known to buy}. And finally, they recommend reaching out on social media if you have ANY questions. 🙂

Qimage One Giveaway

I’m excited to share this opportunity for you to win Qimage One. This is a $59.99 value! While that’s a great price for all this software does, we all love a chance to get something for free, right??

To enter for your chance to win a FREE license to Qimage One which will work on Mac and Windows, just use the rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open worldwide!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Print High Quality Pictures at Home with Qimage One

Colorful Potted Plants for Shade Loving Containers & Shady Entry Ways

Are you looking for the best potted plants for shade covered porches or entry ways? If you need colorful shade loving plants for entry ways or containers, this list of the best potted plants for shaded porch es will spruce up your curb appeal in a jiffy! Shade plants don’t have to be boring or ugly when you use this list as a guide.

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a commission on your purchase.*

Today, Angela England from Untrained Housewife ahres her tips for choosing beautiful and colorful potted plants for shade. Just because you you have shady conditions at home,  doesn’t mean that your entry way or container plantings need to be colorless and dull.

Colorful Potted Plants for Shade Loving Containers or Shady Entry Ways

Heavy shade can be one of the most challenging garden situations for gardeners to deal with, but often porches, patios or overhangs create deep shade.

Whether you want to create a porch or patio container accent piece, or increase curb appeal with colorful plants in an entry way garden, these shade-tolerant plants can help gardeners working in full shade. You need to take the shade into consideration when choosing the right plants for your space.

Lily-of-the-Valley and Coralbells (Heuchera) are some of the best potted plants for shaded porch

Coralbells for Foliage and Flowers Is a Beautiful Shade Loving Plant

Coralbells (Heuchera) do well in shade container combinations because they need well-drained soil and will tolerate even deep shade. Heuchera plants grow 1-3′ tall and wide, making them versatile to use in a variety of container combinations. In large shade containers, they act as filler plants, giving lots of body and filling in the gaps around larger accent pieces.

In small shade containers, heuchera becomes a taller focal point by using one of the larger cultivars and more eye-catching foliage color choices. Coralbells are available in a very wide variety of color options from dark maroon, to bright green chartreuse colors.

Lily-of-the-Valley for Fragrance – Make Great Spring Shade Plants

These delicate looking flowers are some of the hardiest bulbs to grow in containers and tolerate full-shade. Like many shade flowers, lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) blooms in the spring and prefers moist, rich soil. The bell-shaped flowers are usually white, but there is a cultivar that produces pink blooms as well. Hardy to zone 3, lily of the valley plants are a great addition to many garden landscapes. I love adding lily of the valley plants into the shade gardens and containers for their sweet fragrance.Colorful caladium foliage is one of the potted plants for shade

Shade Loving Plants like Caladiums offer Bright Foliage and Long Lasting Shade Color

One of the absolute favorite shade plants of all time, caladiums do very well in deep shade and are one of the easiest bulbs to grow in containers. That’s because caladiums should also be planted in well-draining soil, so they tend to do well in container combinations. Gardeners who are wondering how to grow caladium bulbs are sometimes just told – put them in the ground and let them do their thing.

Caladiums grown for their attractive foliage which is  usually variegated in two or three of the following colors; green, white, red, pink, rose or salmon. The leaves grow in rounded, heart-shaped leaves or thinner lance-shaped leaves with a variety of edgings as well. Hundreds, if not thousands, of cultivars are available but most caladiums grow around 1-2′ tall and wide.Shade Plants like Begonia can be One of the Best Potted Plants for Shaded Porch

Shade Plants like Begonia can be One of the Best Potted Plants for Shaded Porch

Begonias have not only beautiful flowers, but some cultivars have highly attractive foliage. One cultivar I saw at a garden center recently called ‘Benitochiba’ was a stunning purple color! Choosing purple or maroon foliaged begonias makes a great contrasting choice to the green, white or silver caladiums in a container combination.

Begonias make excellent container plants for shade containers because they need well-drained soil that isn’t too soggy. They also have long growing seasons so you won’t have to switch out the container plants very often. Plant begonia tubers in the spring and enjoy the wide variety of flower colors. Add  interest to containers  or shade gardens by choosing a rounded, or weeping, begonia and then watch them trail!

Do you have a favorite shade loving plant I didn’t mention? Share it in the comments!

If you liked the post on the colorful potted plants for shade, you might like these posts too:

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March Grocery Audit + Large Family Grocery Budget

It’s time for another grocery audit and look at my large family grocery budget. In an attempt to understand what it takes to feed my family of six, I have started sharing all the groceries I buy with you each month. Keep reading to see what it costs to feed my family a mostly organic {or at least local} real food diet.The March Grocery Audit is here! Take a look at my large family grocery budget and see how my family of six's mostly organic diet compares to the USDA Cost of Food at Home's projections. How does your family's grocery budget compare?

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn me a small commission on your purchase.*

March Grocery Audit + Large Family Grocery Budget

I’ve heard from quite a lot of you that you like these posts, so keep the feedback coming and I’ll try to make them even more useful! The bummer about this month, and the reason why I didn’t write these posts for a long time, is that my reciepts keep disappearing. I had them all nicely organized and ready for this post before we went on spring break, and today when I sat down to write it, they’ve vanished.

Why is that??? Drives me nuts. In past months, I have written out the receipts so you can see the exact items I purchased. This month, I can’t do that due to vanishing receipts. But I did go to credit card statements and track down what we spent.

I didn’t buy anything very different from previous months, so if you want to see what type of groceries we buy, head to January Grocery Audit and February Grocery Audit.

If you’re new to the Grocery Audit posts, I started writing these to better understand our budget, and also to see how we compare to the USDA Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels. You can download the document here if you’d like to compare your spending to the USDA projections. Here’s what it says about my family:

 Thrifty Low Moderate Liberal
 7 yr old girl 137.30 191.00 230.40 273.50
10 yr old girl 155.10 206.3 267.70 311.80
12 yr old boy 166.60 236.40  297.40 348.80
13 yr old girl 166.30 203.60 246.30 301.30
2 parents 383.40 490.80 609.90 763.60
Totals $1008.70 $1124.70 $1651.70 $1999.00

Based on my credit card receipts, here’s what I spent to feed my family of 6 in March.

  • 3/2 – Costco – $117.26
  • 3/13 – ALDI – $96.28
  • 3/15 – Walmart – $10.42
  • 3/17 – Costco – $99.19
  • 3/20 – Pork – $302.50 (local farmer, pasture raised pork, 1/2 a hog)
  • 3/20 – Riesen’s Meat Locker – $120.58 (best guess because I paid cash to the meat locker for pork processing fee)
  • 3/23 – HyVee – $35.6
  • 3/25 Azure Standard – $53.25
  • 3/25 – City Market (spring break groceries) – $48.18
  • 3/26 – City Market (spring break groceries) – $17.75
  • 3/31 – Whole Foods (spring break groceries) – $28.52

Total spent in March: $929.01, more than I’ve spent any other month so far, but still under the USDA Cost of Food at Home assumptions for a family of my size.

Notes about my grocery shopping in March:

I am now stocked on pork for the year. I bought a 1/2 a hog in March – I think it equals about 75 pounds of meat and it cost right around $425 for hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, roasts, and pork chops. $425 sounds like a lot of money – I figure it’s an average of about $5.67 per pound for humanely raised, pastured pork about 30 miles from me. The Red Wattle Heritage Pig Breed results in some of the best pork I’ve had. I’m willing to pay a higher cost for higher quality meat.

I also bought 25 lbs of organic pinto beans for my pantry. By the way, I shared a post recently on EXACTLY what’s in my pantry – it’s a huge list! There’s also a really handy printable to help you stock your pantry too! Head over here to read that post and grab the printable!

I love hearing from you about these large family grocery budget posts. Please keep the feedback coming. Do you have any questions I can answer in April’s post?? Leave them below or send me message on social media. 🙂

The March Grocery Audit is here! Take a look at my large family grocery budget and see how my family of six's mostly organic diet compares to the USDA Cost of Food at Home's projections. How does your family's grocery budget compare?

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