Grab Your Free Grove Cleaning Concentrates and Go Green at Home!

If one of your goals for 2018 is to reduce toxins in your home, this post will help you accomplish that! Grab your free Grove Cleaning Concentrates and a beautiful toxin free cleaning kit today and jump start green cleaning this year!

Grab Your Free Grove Cleaning Concentrates Today!*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase. Thank you for supporting my site.*

Go Toxin Free with Grove Cleaning Concentrates Today!

Is going green on your radar this year? Grove Collaborative easy to make healthy choices at home and this week, they’re giving away free cleaning concentrates and a beautiful home cleaning kit to make going green super easy!

Grove Collaborative is my secret weapon for creating a healthy, beautiful home. They hand-select the best natural products and deliver them (carbon offset) right to my doorstep, on my schedule. I never run out of green dishwasher soap now that Grove delivers them to my house every month. 

Orange & Rosemary Cleaning Concentrates

Have you ever used cleaning concentrates? I love how easy they are to use and what a nice job they do of keeping my kitchen clean. I just wish they came with a cleaning robot to do the work for me. 😉 To use Grove Cleaning Concentrates, all you have to do is twist off the cap, pour the concentrates in the beautiful glass spray bottle that comes with the kit, and fill with water.

Bam. Toxin Free Cleaners for your home! Not only do I love the cleaning concentrates which work on your glass, on your counters, and in your bathroom, but I also love the glass spray bottle. The silicone sleeve protects the bottle, if you’re concerned at all.

The Grove cleaning concentrates have totally changed my cleaning routine. I love that they’re toxin free and also create a minimal amount of waste compared to big bottles of cleaner. Plus, they come in my favorite scent: orange and rosemary!

Grove Cleaning Concentrates

Grab your Free Toxin-Free Cleaning Kit and Grove Cleaning Concentrates

If you’re not currently a Grove customer, you will want to be become one today to grab this free cleaning kit. In addition to the free cleaning concentrates, you’ll get a lovely glass spray bottle to mix them up, and microfibers that are equally good for wiping down counter tops or getting windows sparkling. Stash everything in this beautiful white caddy, and you’ve got a stylish cleaning kit that’s also healthy and toxin free.

I’ve been using Grove for almost two years now, so I’ll share some of the products I use and love below. First things first, you should grab this free Toxin Free Set with your first order of $20.

  • Free Grove cleaning concentrates (3 pack)
  • Free Grove glass spray bottle with silicone sleeve
  • Free Grove microfiber (2 pack)
  • Free Grove cleaning caddy
  • Free Shipping & 60 Day VIP Trial

If you’re already a customer, click here to add a free set of Grove walnut scrubbers to your next order. They’re perfect for tackling dishes or wiping down counter tops. They’re amazing little scrubbers and I use them every day!

toxin free cleaning caddy from Grove

Wondering what to get in your first $20 order? Grove has so many amazing products!

I know you will find lots of great products at Grove to help you go toxin free. But to help you, here are my top picks to avoid harmful chemicals and reduce waste. Grab any or all of them to build your own toxin free cleaning kit.

  1. Seventh Generation laundry packs — premeasured so I don’t overdo it on the detergent. 45 count, $10.99
  2. Grove Collaborative walnut scrubber sponges, 2 sponges, $3.95
  3. Mrs. Meyers Dish Soap – my all time favorite dish soap, $3.89
  4. Mrs. Meyers Hand Soap – I have this in all my bathrooms, $3.89

When you place your first order of $20, you’ll also be signed up for the free 60 day VIP trial. For 60 days, save even more with free shipping, free gifts, price matching, exclusive sales and personal service. It’s an even more affordable way to create a healthier home in 2018!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for Grove Collaborative here. You will receive the Toxin Free Offer for free when you sign up!
  2. To receive this offer, your order needs to be a minimum of $20. Choose the combination of products and scents you love and receive your first box within a few days.
  3. You made it! Click Finish & Pay and place your order.

What are you waiting for? Grab your free Grove Cleaning Concentrates and Toxin Free Cleaning and go green in 2018! Let me know if you have any questions about Grove or cleaning concentrates. I’m happy to help. 

Learn how easy it is to use cleaning concentrates! Then, Grab Your Free Grove Cleaning Concentrates and Go Green at Home!

7 Genius Tips to Save Big Money on Family Vacations

We love traveling with our family. With four kids though, travel can get expensive. Somehow we still manage to take many trips with our four children. Over the years, we’ve learned quite a few money saving tips from all of our adventures.  These seven genius tips help us save big money on family vacations.7 Genius Tips to Save Big Money on Family Vacations - road trips

7 Genius Ways to Save Big Money on Family Vacations

Alamo Scenic Route Badge

Family travel is so important. It’s a great way to make history come alive to children and helps them learn. My children appreciate so much more because we travel. I sure wish we could travel for free! Sadly we can’t, but we have learned ways to cut the cost on family vacations. Below are tips my family has learned while traveling over the years in addition to a few ideas from Alamo’s Scenic Route of how your family can save big money when traveling in 2018.

7 Genius Tips to Save Big Money on Family Vacations - drive instead of fly

  1. Understand All Transportation Costs

We generally save a lot of money by driving most places with our large family. However, driving is not always possible when we’re on a tight deadline or going somewhere that’s simply too far away. To save the most money on family vacations, it’s important to understand all costs involved in our transportation question. So make sure to do you research and calculate all the hidden costs associated with getting you to and from your vacation destination (meals, gas, taxis, lodging). Look for travel deals online and take advantage of free perks you can sign up for online – like Alamo Insiders – which save you more on Alamo’s already low rental prices.

stay with friends - money saving family travel tips

  1. Stay with friends and family whenever possible

Staying in hotels is another way to shell out a lot of money in a hurry. Whenever possible, we stay with family and friends to save money. Sometimes I feel bad imposing my entire family of six people on family and friends, but I am always happy to return the favor. Any time!  Luckily, we seem to have the most amazing family and friends – from the East Coast to the West Coast, and most often we can find very willing people to accommodate us!

Just this summer we went on an epic 5,000 mile plus road trip to Seattle and back and stayed with friends and family on the way! Over the years, I have driven (on my own with four children) to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Florida. I love that my children have driven across the entire US – from the Atlantic to the Pacific. They have seen so amazing sites!

  1. Cook your own meals

While we love eating out when we’re in new places, one fabulous way to save money is to eat in. Especially when we stay with family and friends, we make sure to supply as many groceries as we can. One was we save significant money on road trips is to pack lots of snacks and bring a cooler. Stop at grocery stores instead of restaurants, and instead of eating every meal out, try to eat out only once a day.

7 Genius Tips to Save Big Money on Family Vacations - museum memberships

  1. Use museum membership cards

Museum membership cards have saved us a ton of money because of the reciprocity they offer with other museums. I highly recommend researching museum membership benefits to see if it would benefit you. Many memberships cost around $100 and are good for an entire year! If you travel a lot a $100 investment in your local area can save you huge when you’re on the road.

every kid in a park

  1. 4th Graders (and their families) get in Free to National Parks

Our fourth grader was so excited at how much money she saved us on our road trip to Seattle last summer. Because of her, we got in free to Yellowstone, Glacier, Badlands, Mt Rainier, and Devil’s Tower. Definitely check into that program if you have a fourth grader! Make sure to get your own Every Kid in Park Pass before heading out on your next family vacation.

  1. Research ahead of time and use coupons

Did you know destinations often offer discounts and coupons? Make sure to research your destination ahead of time and reach out to the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Sometimes you can find great coupons to print out online and sometimes you can request that they send you coupons in the mail! Either way, coupons are a great way to save money.

how to save big on family vacations - find free things to do

  1. Find free activities to do!

Almost every single place we’ve visited is rich with free family friendly activities. From Florida to New York, to Seattle, we find amazing free things to do everywhere we go. Parks, beaches, downtown exploration! They are all often free. Make sure you do as many free things with your family as you can.

Whatever you do, don’t let money stand in the way of your next family vacation. Get creative and find a way to get out and explore! For more money saving travel tips, make sure to check out Alamo’s Scenic Route! They offer travel guides, vacation tips, and more ways to save big money on family travel. You’ll find a wealth of information there.

Want to travel but afraid of the cost? These 7 genius tips will help you save big money on family vacations so you can travel more on less money! #familytravel #travel #moneysavingtips

Start the New Year Right with this Prep Ahead Healthy Meal Plan

Happy 2018! Let’s start the new year right with my Prep Ahead Healthy Meal Plan for January! Are you ready to cook from scratch in 2018?? Featuring inspiration for 28 quick,  healthy, from scratch meals plus seven easy tasks to fill your freezer, this plan will help you cook from scratch in 2018!

Start the new year right w/ a prep ahead healthy menu plan. 28 recipe ideas and tasks to fill your freezer will help you cook from scratch! #fromscratchcooking #menuplan #prepahead #freezercooking

Start the New Year Right with this Prep Ahead Healthy Menu Plan

If you’re looking to eat start cooking from scratch in 2018 so you can eat healthier and save money, this is your year. Follow along in January as I work with you to do just that. Let’s take control of cooking and eating in 2018, shall we? Let’s all cook from scratch a lot more this year!

homemade opt in

Click Me to say YES to simplified weekly meal planning!

Monthly Menu Ideas

One of my largest obstacles to cooking from scratch is not being prepared. This healthy meal plan is here to save the day! Simply pick one option from each category and fill your week with quick and easy, from scratch meal ideas! There are enough meal ideas here for four full weeks!

Meatless Mondays

Taco Tuesdays

Wing It Wednesdays

Porker or Beef Thursday 😀

Pizza Friday

Soupper Saturday

From the Sea Sunday

Freezer Friendly Leftover Eggnog Waffles

Ditch the Breakfast Cereal with these Homemade Breakfast Ideas

Want to really make from scratch easier? Start filling your freezer! Cook from scratch with these tasks!

Seven – 30 minute {or there about} tasks for filling the freezer

It will help you cook subsequent meals quicker if you do these seven tasks on the first full week of the month. That way you’ll have leftovers for other meals this month that will make meal prep faster. However, if you’re really busy or don’t have the ingredients ready to go, just shift the tasks to a day when you are able to get it done! Again, flexibility is key.

You can read how I fill my freezer in 30 minutes a day over at Premeditated Leftovers – I wrote a blog post there a while ago.

1. On Monday, cook up a huge pot of dried beans and freeze in 3-2 cup portions, with the liquid. Make sure you soak the beans Sunday night! I highly recommend owning a really big stainless steel stock pot. I have a 12 qt stock pot similar to this one that I use for canning and cooking beans. It comes in really handy! I generally cook 8 cups of dried beans, which yields about 3-4 bags for my freezer after we’ve eaten the beans for lunch and also for dinner. If you’re not familiar cooking dried beans, you’ll want to soak the beans over night and then cook about 1-2 hours the next day in fresh water. You can read here for more details, need be.

2. On Tuesday, {preferably the week you eat regular ole tacos, so you also get your dinner prep out of the way too} make a huge batch of taco meat using ground meat of choice and beans from Monday’s cook or the freezer, and freeze extra portions of meat.

3. On Wednesday, roast an extra chicken, in addition to cooking a rotisserie chicken for dinner, so that I have cooked chicken ready for the remainder of the Wednesday chicken meals.

4. On Thursday, make enough crock pot ham so that you have leftovers to freeze. Also, cook up a big batch of bacon in the oven. Freeze some in whole pieces to use on the egg sandwiches, and also freeze some crumbles to use on the bacon pizza! Don’t forget to save the bacon grease as it makes a great, free fat in which to cook your eggs and veggies!

5. On Friday,  Make and freeze 4 extra potions of pizza dough for each of the other pizza nights in January.

6. On Saturday, make a huge batch of homemade bread. I bake bread in 5 loaf quantities and then freeze extra or store in my fridge. This task actually takes about an hour and half, start to finish – but really only about 30 minutes active prep and clean-up. I’d also make up a double batch of Artisan Bread Dough on Saturday too, so you have a nice crusty bread to go with your soups!

7. On Sunday, make a huge batch of fruit and honey granola to enjoy for breakfasts and snacks.

At the end of the 7 days, you should have quite a few meal components added to your freezer to simplify meal prep at a later date!homemade opt in

Let me help you Cook from Scratch! Get your free weekly meal plans by clicking here.

Freezer Friendly Leftover Eggnog Waffles + Healthy Breakfast Recipes

Ready to start the New Year off with healthy breakfast recipes? These delicious eggnog waffles made with leftover eggnog and Barlean’s Organic Culinary Coconut Oil will help you do just that! Make a big batch and freeze leftovers for quick weekday breakfasts.

Freezer Friendly Leftover Eggnog Waffles + Healthy Breakfast Recipes

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

Freezer Friendly Leftover Eggnog Waffles

Before Christmas, my kids asked me to buy them eggnog. It’s not something we generally get, and I didn’t think they’d like it. Boy, was I right. They didn’t like it that much and the eggnog sat my fridge for a couple weeks while I pondered how best to put it to use.

Freezer Friendly Leftover Eggnog Waffles

This morning, the kids wanted waffles for breakfast and I didn’t have any milk. I saw that carton of leftover eggnog sitting in my fridge and delicious inspiration struck! Subbing leftover eggnog for milk makes fantastic waffles!

Why I like this recipe for Leftover Eggnog Waffles

This yummy recipe serves three purposes. First, it’s a great way to use up leftover eggnog. Second, it’s an easy way to start the day off on a healthier note. Made with fresh eggs, organic white whole wheat flour, Barlean’s Organic Culinary Coconut Oil, and organic eggnog, this recipe is much lower in sugar than most breakfast cereals you may be eating. It also fills you up better. Third, freezer friendly recipes like this one help me ditch convenience items like cereal. I’m a firm believer that ditching cereal isn’t hard with a little prep.

leftover eggnog freezer waffles

Two critical ingredients 

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that one critical ingredient is eggnog. Leftover eggnog is fantastic, but you can also buy a quart and use as little or as much in this recipe as you want. If you have one cup of eggnog, use that and add 3/4 cup regular milk, buttermilk, or even water. It’s a pretty versatile recipe.

Barlean's organic culinary coconut oil

Barlean’s Organic Culinary Coconut Oil

The other crucial ingredient is the Barlean’s Organic Culinary Coconut Oil. I’ve been baking with coconut oil for a long time and this is one of my favorite varities to use. While I enjoy the flavor of coconut oil in my baked goods, my children prefer not to taste it. That’s why we love this flavorless variety from Barlean’s. Barlean’s Organic Culinary Coconut Oil  is versatile, all-purpose oil that’s great for medium sautéing, stir-frying and baking.

Ok! Let’s make these delicious freezer friendly leftover eggnog waffles!

Freezer Friendly Eggnog Waffles + More Healthy Breakfast Recipes
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Recipe Image


  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose white whole wheat flour {I use freshly ground flour hard white wheat}
  • 1 TBS baking powder {make sure it’s aluminum free!}
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs {farm fresh, of course}
  • 1 3/4 cups leftover eggnog
  • 1/2 cup Barlean's Culinary Coconut Oil , melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • If you'd like to quadruple the recipe, here you go!
  • 5 1/4 all purpose white whole wheat flour {I use freshly ground flour hard white wheat}
  • 4 TBS baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 eggs
  • 5 1/4 cups eggnog
  • 2 cups Barlean's Culinary Coconut Oil , melted
  • 4 tsp vanilla {or 1 TBS + 1 tsp}


  1. Heat waffle iron.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Whisk eggnog, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly stir in melted coconut oil.
  4. Then combine wet mixture with dry ingredients and stir slowly until a thick batter occurs. (Now you can store the batter in the fridge for one day if you'd like.)
  5. To make the waffles, add just enough batter to the heated waffle iron. Be careful not to overfill or the batter will run over and make a huge mess!
  6. Serve waffles immediately with pure maple syrup, or place in oven to keep them warm.
  7. Enjoy!

My family of six needs a double batch of this recipe to fill us up in the mornings. If I want any left over for the freezer, I need to quadruple the recipe. It’s really not that much more time consuming to quadruple it, and the little extra time is offset by super easy breakfasts even on school mornings. I recommend flash freezing the waffles individually so they’ll come out of the freezer bag easier. Then, just reheat in the toaster. Nom nom!!

Want More Healthy Breakfast Recipes? Here are some of our favorites!

Granola Fruit Pizza

Green Smoothies for the Freezer

DIY Overnight Oats Bar

Cottage Cheese Blender Pancakes

5 Minute Egg & Cheese Sandwich with Bacon & Avocado

Enjoy these healthy breakfast recipes including eggnog waffles made w/ Barlean's organic culinary coconut oil. What a great way to use up leftover eggnog! #freezerfriendlyrecipes #eggnog #waffles #healthybreakfastrecipes


5 Minute Upcycled Succulent Garden Gift Idea

Looking for an easy succulent garden gift? This 5 Minute Upcycled Succulent Garden Gift makes a fabulous addition to your decor or a quick last minute gift idea! Since succulents are so easy to care for, I love to give them as gifts and sneak them around my house. Here’s my favorite way to display lovely succulents.

5 Minute Succulent Garden Idea

5 Minute Upcycled Succulent Garden Gift Idea

I first got this 5 minute easy succulent garden gift when I was helping a friend move. She had the most interesting display of aloe I had ever seen – in a milk glass vase artfully arranged on her piano. That was my aha moment! Genius, I thought! I had just sent a few milk glass vases of my own to Goodwill and wanted to cry!

mini succulent garden idea makes quick gift

Since then, I started buying all the milk glass again. And, I’m always on the lookout for cute little succulents to plant in them. Now, these lovely succulent gardens grace most of the window sills in my house. If you’d like to make your own 5 minute succulent gardens, here’s how easy it is!

What you need for this 5 Minute Upcycled Succulent Garden Gift

mini succulents for succulent garden decor

1. Mini succulents – I’m always on the lookout for mini succulents and sometimes I add in a little cactus or two as well. I brought home a lovely string of pearls succulent from a farmer’s market in San Antonio recently. I’ve also found them succulents Lowe’s, at seasonal garden centers, and at ALDI!

A really great thing about succulents is that they’re also easy to propagate. The aloe I brought home a few years ago from Florida has little babies all the time. 🙂 Makes for very frugal gifts!

milk glass for quick succulent garden idea

2. Milk Glass – like I said, I buy all the containers I find at Goodwill. I’m pretty sure I have succulents planted in ash trays, vases, and candy dishes. I love them all.

variety of succulents in milk glass

3. Rocks & cactus soil – since the milk glass containers don’t drain, you’ll want to put a few rocks in the bottom before you add the soil. The rocks help with the drainage. Then add your mini succulents and top with soil. That’s it! Seriously easy.

And that’s it! What do you think? Do you know a succulent love who would love this idea?

Looking for an easy succulent garden gift? This 5 Minute Upcycled Succulent Garden Gift makes a fabulous addition to your decor or a quick last minute gift idea! Super cute and easy upcycled garden craft!

Don’t Miss These Healthy Instant Pot Recipes + Giveaway

Save time and get healthy with this great collection of healthy instant pot recipes! Get off to the right start in the new year and finally learn to use your IP! Plus, read to the end and enter an Instant Pot giveaway brought to you by me and my Blogging BFF Nicky, from Little Family Adventure!how to cook soaked or unsoaked dried beans in the instant pot*This post contains affiliate links which may earn me a small commission on your purchase. Thank you for supporting my site.*

Healthy Instant Pot Recipes for 2018!

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is coming to an end so soon! With about two weeks left in the year, many of us are already searching for healthy recipes we’re going to make once January 1 rolls around! Since the Instant Pot really makes cooking from scratch a lot easier, my friend Nicky and I thought it would be nice to offer an Instant Pot Giveaway to one lucky reader!

Here is a week’s worth of Healthy Instant Pot recipes for you to try!Healthy instant pot recipes from Little Family AdventureIf you’re a gumbo fan, you’ll definitely want to try Nicky’s Easy Gumbo recipe! Full of spicy Andouille sausage and chicken served over rice, this recipe is cajun comfort food at its best.

Beef Pho, anyone? Yes, please! Run over to Little Family adventure and try out her homemade Beef Pho recipe. Who needs an expensive pho shop when you make your own quickly and easily with this healthy instant pot recipe?

Finally, try this recipe for Mediterranean Lentil and Chickpea Stew featuring Roasted Cauliflower! When it’s 5 pm and you have no idea what to cook, whip this together with staples you might have in your pantry!

Nicky also put together a great post with 21 different Instant Pot Pasta recipes! I’ve found pasta to be a little tricky to cook in the Instant Pot, so if you like pasta, you’ll want to check out this post for sure.

healthy instant pot recipes from simplify live love

Nicky’s recipe are a little more ethnic, but my instant pot recipes probably qualify for more comfort food. If you’re looking for tried and true comfort food instant pot recipes, I’ve got you covered!

Instant Pot Recipes from SimplifyLiveLove

Feeling down? Make this Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup right in your Instant pot. Made with homemade broth if you have it, and leftover chicken or turkey, this soup will can help boost your immune system and leave you feeling better!

Beef with Rigatoni is perfect for cold winter nights. Easy and impressive, it’s a crowd pleasure for all ages. I was recently served a very similar dish in a fancy restaurant, and I have to say, I liked my version better.

Probably the number one thing I cook in my Instant Pot is dried beans. Dried beans are so much cheaper than canned beans and they’re also a lot healthier because they’re missing most of the sodium! We use beans in our taco meat, taco soup, and in beans and rice. We also eat bean burritos a lot too! Beans can be tricky to cook in the Instant Pot, but this handy post will set yous straight and have your beans turn out soft and yummy every time.

Finally, my recipe for chicken and rice in the instant pot is another winning recipe. Chicken and rice might seem like a pretty bland recipe, but my addition of feta cheese and lemon puts a nice twice on this old-timey recipe!

One final post for you full of Instant Pot recipes is my post with lots of ideas for recipes you can make in your Instant Pot for breakfast, dinner, and dessert! This is another post you don’t want to miss. Go here to find out how to make healthy breakfasts and desserts in your Instant Pot too!

Now that we’ve inspired you with a week’s worth of healthy Instant Pot recipes, plus a lot extra, how about a giveaway? As a way to say thank you to our loyal readers this year, Nicky and I are joining forces in a Instant Pot giveaway you don’t want to miss!

3 qt instant pot


Enter to win this Instant Pot Giveaway – Instant Pot 7-in-1

Why you want to win this Instant Pot!

  • It’s  7 appliances in one! It’s a Rice Cooker, a Pressure Cooker, a Slow Cooker, Steamer, Saute, Yogurt Maker and Warmer! Whew!! Think of all the kitchen appliances you can get rid of!
  • Features 11 Smart Programmable digital codes for effortless cooking
  • It’s stainless steel made from food grade 304, no chemical coating, 3-ply bottom for even heat distribution
  • It includes nice accessories: rice measuring cup, stainless steel steam rack, rice paddle, soup spoon, condensation collector and recipe booklet!

This giveaway is open to US residents only, 18 years of age and older. Giveaway ends at midnight on December 3oth, CST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Learn how to use your instant pot this year with this collection of healthy instant pot recipes!

Inspirational Homesteading Books Every Home Library Needs! + Giveaway

Are you looking for homestead inspiration or wondering how to have a backyard homestead? This list of my favorite homesteading books have been very helpful to me during the last few years. I’m a firm believer that you can homestead anywhere if you have the right resources and these books belong in your homestead library!

Inspirational Homesteading Books Every Home Library Needs! long

*This post contains affiliate links which earn me a small commission on your purchase. Thank you for supporting my site.*

My Favorite Homesteading Books for Your Reference Library

Homesteading doesn’t have to be living off grid with no running water. It certainly can be if that’s what you want, but it doesn’t have to be. My family of six is homesteading in a modern house and enjoy a lot of electronic luxuries. I consider homesteaders to be responsible stewards of the earth, right?! People who are taking steps toward self-sufficiency,, no matter how small. If you want to take more control of your own life, these favorite homesteading books will help you!

The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!, edited by Carleen Madigan

This is one of the very first books I bought when we moved out to our five acre homestead. With sections on growing veggies, fruit, grains, herbs and more, this book provides garden layouts for lots that are one-tenth of an acre, a quarter acre, and a half acre too. It tells you how many garden beds should produce x amount of food!

I love the practical tips it gives for growing fruit and vegetables, and also for raising a chicken flock and bees as well. There’s even a section on foraging in the wild! You might think you need a lot of land to be self-sufficient, but this book provides knowledge and inspiration for producing a lot more food on a lot less land than you might think possible! I highly recommend this book be in any wanna-be (or veteran) homestead library!

The Backyard Homestead Seasonal PlannerMy Favorite Homesteading Books to Help You Be Successful written by Ann Larken Hansen

Arranged by season with room for personal notes, this spiral bound book offers lots of  lists and tells you exactly when to do what regardless of where you live! I love the Backyard Homestead series and I’m excited to have this planner in my library of favorite homesteading books.

The handy spiral binding of this book make it super easy to use and reference. It is a new staple in my homesteading library.


The Encyclopedia of Country Living written by Carla Emery

The Encyclopedia of Country Living gives you all the information you need to live off-grid, if you want! With practical tips on bee keeping, goat milking, butter churning, food preservation and more, this almost 1000 page book is considered by some to be the Bible of country living.

If you’re looking for a book to tell you how they did it before electricity and running water, The Encyclopedia of Country Living is your source! But don’t let that description scare you. You certainly don’t have to live off-grid to find this book useful.

My Favorite Gardening Books

rodalesRodale’s Basic Organic Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Healthy Garden, written by Deborah L Martin 

Rodale has long been a trusted reference in the organic gardening arena, and this book is a go-to source for any organic gardening. I reference my Rodale books all the time to help with pests, planting, and soil management.

I also like my Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening book, edited by Pauline Pears, as well. It helped me be successful with no-dig potato growing!

Biodynamic Gardening a DK book

Last spring I was able to visit a gorgeous biodynamic farm called Apricot Lane Farms in Moorpark, California,  and fell in love with the concept of biodynamic farms. Biodynamic gardens take organic one step further. It looks at the land in a more comprehensive way – how can all living creatures work together to help the garden? Compost, animal manure, organic practices are all tenets of biodynamic gardening and something that I would really like to implement better on our own acreage.

I’m excited to implement some of the ideas in this book and add it to my homesteading library.


Weedless Gardening written by Lee Reich

The last few of years I have had such weed infested gardens that it really prohibited me from growing much. There has got to be a better way, and I learned about this book thanks to my friend Jami at An Oregon Cottage.

Last year, I started using raised beds and they cut down immensely on the weeding. I also covered my beds this year with tarps and cardboard. I’m excited to use the principles in this book so I can keep gardening, because let me tell you, I just don’t have time to spend 2-3 hours a day in my garden breaking my back to keep the weeds down! This book also helps you reduce water consumption, and I think that’s going to be more and more important in our home gardens.

Carrots Love Tomatoes written by

One key to successful organic gardening is companion planting. The right companions provide nutrients to the soil, repel bad bugs, and also help attract good bugs. I have long touted the importance of companion planting here on SimplifyLiveLove, and this book called Carrots Love Tomatoes is the best explanation for how to companion plant!

If you aren’t currently companion planting in your garden, you need to add this wonderful good to your library! You can also read companion planting tips in this helpful post too.


My Favorite Books on Backyard Chickens!

Because what homestead is complete without chickens? 🙂


Storey's Guide to Raising ChickensBest Books on Raising Chickens written by Gail Damerow

Not only are chickens great for eggs and meat (if you want to go there), but they are also some of the funniest birds you can have around. Watching my flock of free-range chickens can keep my occupied for a long time. And I love that they scratch up my garden and leave their nutrient rich poop in it as well!

Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens is a great reference book to have on hand. From basic care and feeding, to housing, to first aid for chickens, this book will be an invaluable reference book for your homesteading library!



Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard written by Jessi Bloom

While chickens are great for your health and garden, they can also be problematic. All of their scratching can destroy a carefully planted garden bed! No one want that, so this beautiful book talks about how to get incorporate your chickens in a positive way at your house.

Blooms provides lots of advice for how you can pamper your chickens – crops to plant that they will love, beautiful pictures, garden layouts, and a lot of practical advice for having a fun and mutually beneficial relationship with your chickens.

Chicken DIY: 20 Fun-to-Make Projects for Happy and Healthy Chickens written by Samantha Johnson

If you have a backyard chicken flock and you’ve thought about building things for them but don’t know where to start, this is the book for you. I received an advance copy for review purposes and think this book is a lot of fun. From DIY coops, to roosts, incubators, and an egg collecting basket, this book as a wide range of projects that you might enjoy making for your chickens!

Complete and easy instructions, plus a lot of pictures make this book a winner for the DIYer interested in saving money!

The Most Inspirational Gardening Book Ever


Animal, Vegetable, Miracle written by Barbara Kingsolver

This book is beyond a shadow of a doubt the one book most responsible for my gardening endeavors. I first read it years ago. And I continue to re-read it every now and again when I need inspiration.

If you haven’t read this book, you’re in for a treat. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is Kingsolver’s account of her family’s quest to only eat locally grown food for an entire year. And they followed the calendar and started in January. Think for a moment what’s growing in your garden in January and that might give you pause! This book is funny as well an motivational. If everyone would take such care to eat locally, I think people would be better off, don’t you?


Inspirational Homesteading Books Every Home Library Needs! These favorite homesteading books will teach you how to have a backyard homestead, garden more successfully with less work, raise chickens, and more!

Homesteading Book Giveaway!

How would you like to win a few of my favorite homesteading books? Up for grabs in this giveaway is one copy of Animal Vegetable Miracle, one copy of The Backyard Homestead, and one copy of Chicken DIY! Winner takes all. To enter, simply use the rafflecopter form below. Winner must be 18 years of age or older and a resident of the US. Good luck!

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These favorite homesteading books belong in every homestead library and will help on your path to self-sufficiency through gardening, chickens, and more!


A Homemade Slime Making Kit is a Great Quick Gift + Giveaway

Need a quick and easy last minute gift? Your slime making enthusiast will love this Homemade Slime Making Kit! This kit features a borax-free instruction book and an assortment of add-ins, and is just perfect for any craft loving kid. Read to the end, because there’s also a giveaway for a copy of Alyssa Jagan’s Ultimate Slime book as well!Wondering what to include in a Homemade Slime Making Kit? It's easy to make this last-minute gift perfect w/ the Ultimate Slime book + many fun ingredients!

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase. Thank you for supporting my site.*

How to Make an Awesome Homemade Slime Making Kit

It’s official. My kids are 125% totally and completely addicted to making homemade slime. This scene in my kitchen is almost a daily reality and a good portion of the time it drives me completely and totally up the way…just being totally honest here.

slime making in my kitchen

If you know someone who loves making slime like my kids, why not put together a gift they will really appreciate this year? With the help of my kids who have been making all the slime for months, we made a handy list of things you will need to make so you can put together your own diy slime making kit too!

A Homemade Slime Making Kit is a Great Quick Gift all the slime

What to include in Homemade Slime Making Kit

There are two essential ingredients to borax-free slime that you must include in any slime making kit:

1. White glue and 2. some sort of activator.

You can use a few different things for an activator. One example is borax, but a lot of people don’t like it because it can get dangerous if used improperly. My daughters’ favorite activator is liquid starch. You can also use baking soda and contact lens solution, but Anna thinks it’s hard to work with plus, contact solution is expensive. The nice thing about liquid starch is that it’s also cheap (<$3 at Walmart).

Ultimate DIY Slime Making Kit

All good slime making kits also need a few fun add-ins to make the slime more interesting. Here are a few things you can include:

  1. Elmer’s white glue. Clear glue is also nice, but it’s a little harder to work with than the white glue. We’ve found the gallon of Elmer’s white glue on Amazon to be a pretty good value.
  2. Liquid starch – grocery store or Walmart
  3. Glitter (Don’t shoot the messenger. You can totally omit this if you want. 😉 )
  4. Essential oils – Kid Safe Essential Oils are great for these kits!
  5. Food coloring – get this from Walmart or wherever you shop.
  6. Slime beads
  7. Fake snow
  8. Air dry clay – my kids like the Model Magic by Crayola
  9. Storage containers – you might not think you need these, but trust me, you need some way to store all this slime your kids will create!
  10. Ultimate Slime book by Alyssa Jagan

ultimate slime book by alyssa jagan

 Ultimate Slime book by Alyssa Jagan

My slime makers are in love with the Ultimate Slime book by Alyssa Jagan. I was sent a copy for review purposes a while back and my kiddos immediately put the book to use and haven’t looked back. Anna knows the book has definitely honed her slime making skills. She learned how to make much more interesting slime using all the add-ins and also learned how to make slime without borax and what to do if she used too much activator. She highly recommends this book for any slime making enthusiast!

I’m excited to offer up one copy of Alyssa Jagan’s Ultimate Slime book to one luck winner! If you’d like to win a copy, just enter the rafflecopter form below!
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If you liked this homemade gift idea post, you might like these too:

18 DIY Photography Gifts

Homemade Easy Bake Oven Mixes

10 Practical Homemade Gift Ideas

Gift Ideas for Crafty Kids

Wondering what to include in a Homemade Slime Making Kit? It's easy to make this last-minute gift perfect w/ the Ultimate Slime book + many fun ingredients!

Cheesy Hash Brown Appetizer Bites + Giveaway!

These cheesy hash brown appetizer bites will be the hit of your next party! Made with Simply Potatoes® shredded hash browns and cheese, and topped with more cheese, sour cream, bacon, and green onions, these cheesy hash brown bites are like eating a loaded bite sized baked potato but with your fingers! Try this easy recipe for your next dinner party!Extra Cheesy Loaded Hash Brown Appetizer Bites

Cheesy Hash Brown Appetizer Bites

This cheesy hash brown appetizer recipe is a snap to make, in large part because of Simply Potatoes. Located in the refrigerator (NOT freezer) section at your grocery store, Simply Potatoes are made from real, fresh, and NEVER FROZEN potatoes. They’re convenient and easy to use, because you don’t have to wash, peel, or shred the potatoes yourself. They help make this recipe a breeze!

Let’s make these cheesy hash brown appetizer bites!

Cheesy Hash Brown Appetizer Bites ingredients

First, preheat oven to 425°F oven. Then, combine shredded potatoes, cheese, egg, salt and pepper in medium sized bowl and mix well. Coat mini muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray and then spoon potato mixture into each muffin cup.

Use your fingers or the back of spoon to press mixture firmly on the bottom and sides of muffin cups.

Bake in preheated oven about 22 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown. Sprinkle additional cheese into each potato nest. Bake 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then carefully remove the potato nests with a fork.

simply potatoes Cheesy Hash Brown Appetizer Bites

Now comes the best part. Top your cheesy hash brown appetizer bites with your favorite toppings. You can go wild here! Use more cheese, sour cream, bacon, and green onions, if desired. Or, use go for a more Mediterranean flavor with feta cheese, peppercini peppers, and oregano! These appetizer bites are best served warm, so eat up shortly after making them.

Here’s your printable recipe for yummy cheesy hash brown appetizer bites!cheesy hash brown bites with melted cheese 670
Loaded Baked Potato Bites Appetizer
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Recipe Image


  • 20 ounces Simply Potatoes® Shredded Hashbrowns
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 oz.)  shredded sharp cheddar cheese 
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 8 slices crisply cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 3 green onions, sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Combine Simply Potatoes® Shredded Hashbrowns, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and mix well.
  3. Spray mini muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons potato mixture into each muffin cup and press mixture firmly on bottom and sides of muffin cups.
  5. Bake 20-22 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown.
  6. Sprinkle cheese into each potato nest and bake 2 minutes until cheese melts.
  7. Top with sour cream, bacon, more cheese, green onions, jalapenos as desired.

Cheesy Hash Brown Appetizer Bites

If you liked this appetizer recipe, you’l like these too:

Cheese & Pear Crostini

Baked Camembert with Pomegranates and Hazelnuts

How to Make Queso Dip with real cheese

Focaccia Pizza Appetizer

How would you like to win coupons for 3 FREE bags Simply Potatoes??

Please use the rafflecopter form below to enter. To win, you must be a US resident 18 years of age or older. Contests ends on Dec 31 and winner will be notified via email. Winner has 48 hours to reply with mailing address or a new winner will be chosen. Enter below and good luck!
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These cheesy hash brown appetizer bites will be the hit of your next party! They're the perfect two bite appetizer, featuring potatoes and all the fixins!

Giving a Travel Experience Gift This Year!? You Need This!!

A travel experience gift is an awesome way to opt out of the holiday craziness.  The shared experiences and memories you make are better than any gift you can buy. But don’t let those favorite family memories disappear on your phone. Instead, convert your treasured digital images to metal prints from to perfectly display your cherished memories for years to come.

Metal prints make great photo gift ideas to preserve your amazing Travel Experience Gift!

*This post is sponsored by All opinions are mine.*

Giving a Travel Experience Gift This Year!? Now What?

More people than ever are opting out of the holiday craziness and giving a travel experience gift instead. Personally, I think an experience gift is the way to go. Less wrapping. Less stress, less cleaning, less cooking, and the list goes on! A travel experience gift is a simple way for the entire family to relax and enjoy each other more. This is in stark contrast to the one person (mom in my experience) who has to clean, cook, buy, wrap, and create most everything associated with the giving season.

Once you get back from your trip, though, make sure to preserve that experience! That’s where vacation photo gifts come in. We recently went on an awesome road trip through South Eastern Iowa. You might not think that a travel experience gift can be close to home, but it absolutely can be! You don’t have to go far to have an amazing travel experience! Staycation at a nearby hotel anyone??? Think of all the fun things to do that are right in your own backyard!!

Metal Prints Make Amazing Vacation Photo Gifts

What good do pictures do your phone_ Make metal photo gifts with to preserve your travel memories!

On our road trip (that was just a couple hours from home) we took some of the most iconic photos ever. I was thrilled when recently turned those memories into impressive metal prints! My new metal prints are absolutely stunning and I will be delighted when I talk my husband into finally putting a few holes in the wall so we can display them properly.

metal photos from

If you would like to order your own metal prints to give as vacation photo gifts or to preserve your own travel experience gift, I highly recommend They made the whole ordering process really easy and shipping was lickety-split. Don’t you love these metal prints of our visit to the American Gothic House?

Make sure you get your digital photos off your camera roll and into a format you can display! Head over to for great vacation photo gifts and make your memories last! They have a limited time offer for Buy 1 Get 3 Free plus free shipping!!

If you liked these ideas for vacation photo gifts, you might also like these ideas:

Gift Guide for Overworked Mothers

Games that make awesome Stocking Stuffers

Our Family’s Favorite Fun Games from 2017

12 Green Gifts for your Eco-Friendly Friends

Looking for vacation photo gifts? Convert your favorite digital images to metal prints and perfectly display your travel experience gift for years to come!