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February Grocery Report and our Top 6 Budget Friendly Family Meals

Welcome March! What a wild ride this winter has been! I’m so ready for spring in under 20 days now! Since it’s March 1st, it’s time for my February Grocery Report. I also thought I’d share our top six budget family meals that help me keep our grocery budget in check! Without further ado, here’s report!

february grocery audit

February Grocery Report and our Top 6 Budget Friendly Family Meals

Have you been reading my monthly grocery reports? I started writing them last year and have found the process very eye-opening. In the first post, I explained the average cost of groceries per family according to the USDA and analyzed how we compare. Since my kids are older now, I need to revisit their suggestions to see where we stand now! I’ll try to remember to do that next month. For now, make sure you head over to my very first grocery audit to see the average grocery cost per month for families according to the USDA.

Do you remember my audit last month? I found out that ALDI charged me for 8 cantaloupes instead of 8 grapefruit. Well, it turned out that it wasn’t grapefruit – I bought 8 mangoes and was charged for 8 cantaloupes. I took my receipt back to ALDI and was able to get an $8.80 refund! So not only is it interesting to examine receipts, it also earned me a Chipotle burrito too. ūüėČ

aldi grocery haul 3

Ok…here’s what I bought in February to feed my family of 6:

2/2/19 – Costco $96.68

  • Organic almond milk – 8.99 (3 – 1/2 gallons)
  • Pretzel rolls – 4.99
  • Ruffles (super bowl party) – 5.59
  • Frozen berries – 8.99
  • Mixed peppers – 7.99 (6 pack)
  • Organic butter – 19.98 (2 lbs)
  • Uncured bacon – 11.99 (3 packages)
  • Organic 1/2 & 1/2 – 5.99 (1/2 gallon)
  • Bananas x 2 – 2.98
  • Organic diced tomatoes – 5.99
  • Grape tomatoes – 4.99
  • Organic eggs – 5.99 (2 dozen)

2/2/19 ALDI – $43.73

  • Cream cheese – .79
  • Hash brown patties – 3.29
  • Winking Owl Merlot – 5.88 (2 bottles)
  • Pineapple – 1.29 x 2 = 2.58
  • Shredded mozerella – 2.49
  • Never Any lunchmeat – 3.29 x 2 = 6.58
  • Cauliflower – 2.29
  • French onion dip – .99
  • Organic whole milk yogurt – 2.89 x 2 = 5.78
  • Ricotta cheese – 1.69
  • Salami – 2.59
  • Mandarins – 3.89 x 2 = 7.78
  • Crushed tomatoes – .65

2/4/19 HyVee – $38.20

  • Applegate pork pepperoni – 4.49 x 2 = 8.98
  • Bobs Red Mill unbleached white flour – 4.99
  • Kalona Super Natural chocolate milk – 2.59
  • Kalona Super Natural sour cream – 3.50
  • Organic Valley Whole Milk – 6.99 (1 gallon)
  • Fresh ground pork – 3.50
  • Bean sprouts – 1.89
  • Mandarins – 4.99 (FREE w/ coupon)
  • Snow peas – 2.64
  • King Arthur flour 4.99 x 2 = 9.98
  • Savings for Monday Healthy Market Bag Sale – (-8.61)

2/8/19 ALDI $8.66

  • Cabbage – 1.89
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese – 1.69 x 2 = 3.38
  • Avocados – .25 x 4 = 1.00
  • Bananans – 2.39

2/10/19 Trader Joe’s – $40.94

  • Organic russet potatoes – 3.69
  • Nacho cheese tortilla chips – 1.99 x 2 = 3.98
  • Applegate sliced turkey – 3.99
  • Sliced mushrooms – 1.99
  • Ground pork – 4.49
  • Organic ground beef – 5.99
  • Uncured Black Forest Ham – 3.69
  • Organic tortilla chips – 2.69
  • Organic frozen blueberries – 3.49
  • Organic frozen mixed berries – 2.99
  • Organic whole sweetened cranberries – 2.99

2/11/19 ALDI – 52.01

  • Organic frozen berries – 2.89 x 2 = 5.78
  • Mandarins – 2.49 x 2 = 4.98
  • Pineapple – 1.29 x 2 = 2.58
  • Winking Owl Merlot – 5.88 (2 bottles)
  • Mangoes – .69 x 4 – 2.76
  • Organic grape tomatoes – 2.49 x 2 = 4.98
  • Red grapes – 2.04
  • Organic pears – 3.29
  • Organic granola – 3.49
  • Organic granola – 2.79 x 2 = 5.58
  • Crackers – 1.49
  • Limes – 1.69
  • Navel oranges – 1.99 x 2 = 3.98

2/13/19 Walmart  Р$11.98

  • King Arthur bread flour – 3.68
  • King Arthur¬†unbleached flour – 3.16
  • Bananas – 2.36
  • 1/2 & 1/2 – 2.50
  • Mandarins – 3.98 (FREE w/ coupon)

2/16/19 ALDI – $20.03

  • Organic gala apples – 4.89
  • Paleo muesli – 4.99 (really good!)
  • Kiwi – 3.79
  • Organic baby spinach – 2.49

2/16/19 Costco – $155.74

  • Organic romaine lettuce – 4.99 (6 heads)
  • Granola bars – 16.79
  • Organic triscuits – 9.59 (4 boxes, I think)
  • Organic 1/2 & 1/2 – 5.99 (1/2 gallon)
  • Bananas – 1.49
  • Frozen 3 berry blend – 8.99
  • Organic frozen blueberries – 8.49
  • Salami – 7.49
  • Organic sugar – 7.99
  • Organic butter – 9.99
  • Grape tomatoes – 5.99
  • Pine nut hummus – 5.99
  • Mini peppers – 5.99
  • Tillamook extra sharp cheddar cheese – 10.79
  • Tillamook mild cheddar cheese – 8.59
  • Organic unbleached flour – 6.49
  • Organic carrots – 5.99
  • Avocados – 4.99 (6 count)
  • Green grapes – 9.99
  • Bananas – 1.49

2/20/19 Jeff’s Market – $26.91

  • Bag of ripe bananas – .99
  • Tortillas – 2.99
  • Bottle of wine – 7.99
  • Canned kidney beans – .67
  • Canned black beans – 1.35
  • Ground beef – 4.9
  • Tomatoes – 3.26
  • OJ – 4.15

2/23/29 ALDI – $45.39

  • Organic frozen pizza – 3.99 x 2 = 7.98 (not a big hit at our house)
  • Organic granola – 2.79
  • Organic whole milk – 5.39 (1 gallon)
  • Organic strawberries – 3.99
  • Organic whole milk plain yogurt – 2.89 x 3 = 8.67
  • OJ – 1.99 x 2 = 3.98
  • Apple sauce squeezers – 1.49
  • Organic bell peppers – 3.49 (2 red peppers)
  • Organic grape tomatoes – 2.49 x 2 = 4.98
  • Single pack of sunflower seeds – .59

2/28/19 ALDI – $70.94

  • Paleo granola – 3.99 x 2 = 7.98
  • Crushed tomatoes – .65 x 5 = 3.25
  • Navel organes – 1.99 x 2 = 3.98
  • Cilantro – .65
  • Winking Owl Merlot – 5.88 (2 bottles)
  • Organic red potatoes – 3.89
  • Mangoes – .69 x 4 = 2.76
  • Never Any ham lunch meat – 3.29 x 2 = 6.58
  • Mozzarella cheese – 1.69 x 2 = 3.38
  • Kettle BBQ chips – 1.09 x 2 = 2.18
  • Wide egg noodles – 1.09
  • Fresh mozzarella ball – 2.39
  • 1/2 & 1/2 – 1.55
  • Tortillas – 1.99 x 2 = 3.98
  • Organic whole milk plain yogurt – 2.89 x 4 = 11.56
  • Bananas – 2.16

Total Spent in February Р$611.21. 

In January, I spent $673.56, so this is surprisingly less than that! However, I know March will be more as I have 1/2 a pasture raised hog on order that I think will be ready in February. Also, I really need to order beef from my farmer so I quit buying it at the store! I much prefer buying meat in bulk by the animal from local farmers who raise them more humanely and sustainably.

Takeaways from February’s Grocery Audit –¬†

  • I made way too many grocery store stops in February. I need to get better about making a list and a plan and sticking to it!
  • I started making sourdough bread and flour is flipping expensive! I am used to grinding my own flour from wheat berries I buy in bulk. I need to figure out how to make the sourdough with freshly missed flour and see how it tastes!
  • Need to call my beef farmer!
  • We save money by paying attention to what’s in season. In the winter, avocados, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, mango, mandarins, are cheaper than apples etc. You can save money by paying attention to what’s in season too!
  • Coffee! I just realized I rarely have coffee on here, but we drink lots of coffee. Dan has a subscription to a coffee roaster and I never see the bills.
  • Need to find a good paleo granola recipe. I’m not paleo, but I love the granola with all the twigs and berries as my husband says. Do you have a good granola recipe? Send me a link!

Top 6 Budget Family Meals

Okay – so I also promised a list of our Top 6 budget friendly family meals that help us eat cheaper, so here are some of our favorite meals a long with a few tips I use to make them stretch.

  1. Tacos – our family loves tacos. I made a huge pot of taco meat that includes lots of beans. Not only are beans a good source of fiber, but they’re also filling, cheap, and help stretch the meat.
  2. Taco soup is another one of my kids’ favorite meals. It also uses beans and my time saving big batch homemade taco seasoning.
  3. Beans and rice. I made a lot of beans in the instant pot. It’s quick and easy, you don’t even have to soak them!
  4. Chicken Noodle Soup – if you’re following on social media, you know that the flu made its way through 3 of my kids this month. Luckily, the other 3 of us remained unscathed. One thing I always do when someone is sick is make a healing pot of homemade chicken soup from chickens I raise myself. It’s easy in the Instant Pot!
  5. Recipes using shredded chicken that I get by cooking whole frozen chickens in the Instant Pot! It’s so easy and after the chicken has been shredded I use the bones to make healing chicken stock too.
  6. Beef Stroganoff – added mushrooms are another great way to stretch ground beef and my family loves this easy and satisfying beef stroganoff recipe. It’s also easy to double or quadruple this recipe and put away meals in the freezer too.

How’d you do on your budget in February? What are your biggest struggles to create healthy meals on a budget?

SAVE 25% on All Harlem Globetrotters Tickets!

We’re excited to go see the Harlem Globetrotters in April! If you’d like to go, make sure to grab this coupon code so you can save 25% on your Harlem Globetrotters Tickets!

harlem globetrotters1

*This post is sponsored by the Harlem Globetrotters. All opinions are mine.*

SAVE 25% on All Harlem Globetrotters Tickets!

Have you been to see the Harlem Globetrotters before? We have not, but with three out of four kids who love to play basketball, we are really excited to go. Known for their amazing feats of basketball, humor, and acts of goodwill on and off the court, the Harlem Globetrotters is an experience we don’t want to miss!

harlem globetrotters 2

In 2019 the Globetrotters are excited to debut the new Fan Powered World Tour! Their performance will include over 20 opportunities for the fans to directly interact with the Globetrotters stars – before, during, and after the game! Don’t miss out – get your tickets today and save 25% off with promo code FUNFAM

Grab your 25% off Harlem Globetrotter Tickets coupon right here and get ready for the show!

Harlem Globetrotter Schedule

The Harlem Globetrotters are currently performing all over North America and Canada. Click here to view their full schedule. They’ll be in my area at the Taxslayer Center in Moline, Illinois at 2:00 pm on April 13th, and at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines at 2:00 pm on April 14.

Make sure to grab your tickets with the 25% off coupon! We’ll see you at the Taxslayer Center in Moline on April 13th!



January Grocery Budget Report – The Monthly Grocery Haul

It’s time for the January grocery budget report and a look at our monthly grocery haul. Happy February! Here’s how my family of six did with groceries this month. How’d you do?

fridge full of fruit - January grocery budget

January Grocery Budget Report

We survived a brutal winter month in Iowa. We’re just coming off some of the coldest weather in history and my kids were home more days in January than they were in school. When I compiled my receipts the other day, I was shocked at how little I actually spent. Less than I thought we would have!

I can attribute that to three things. First, I bought a TON of groceries at the end of December in anticipation for holiday guests. My sister and her family were here for almost a week. Turns out, my mother also bought a ton of groceries which she contributed to the group and I had a lot left over. Then, my parents left for the winter and gave me more food as well!

So that’s one reason for the decrease in our January grocery budget. Another decrease happened because I finally started baking bread again. When I first began writing these grocery budget reports last year, I thing I said almost every single month was that I would be able to decrease my budget if I actually started baking bread again.

homemade 10 grain bread

How we decreased our budget this month

Well, guess what. I finally did it! In January not only did we bake a lot of bread, but we also got back to making homemade granola as well. Since I already have all of the ingredients on hand for both bread and granola in my huge pantry, it saved a lot of money. It’s also a lot healthier. And it really doesn’t take that much time. I bake five loaves of bread in under 2 hours. That includes time to grind the flour from wheat berries, bake the bread, and clean up the mess too.

The last reason for the lower grocery budget is that I am trying to eat up meat from our freezer. I buy most of our meat in bulk from local farmers, but I’m at that point where it’s time to order more. That means the less desirable meat cuts are left. I’ve been making stock out of beef soup bones and using up whole chickens and making a lot of stock from their leftover bones as well. From scratch cooking really can help reduce the grocery budget!

Okay – without further ado – here’s what I bought to feed our family of six in January.

The Monthly Grocery Haul, January 2019

1/3/09 HyVee – $29.22

  • Cayenne pepper – 1.00
  • Tarragon – 1.00
  • Organic Whole Chocolate Milk – 2.59 (workout recovery for me)
  • Organic whipping cream – 4.49
  • Boneless pork loin – 14.00

Butcherbox meat haul

1/5/09 BUTCHER BOX – $129

An assortment of grass fed and grass finished and humanely raised beef and pork, plus 2 lbs of absolutely delicious Alaska Sock Eye Salmon. I bought this to see if I want to recommend Butcher Box to all of you! The verdict is still out because I still need to do my comparison shopping, but I do know that Costco Salmon actually costs more than Butcher Box, and the meat we have eaten so far is very delicious. So my initial thoughts are very positive.

In February, get 2 free Filet Mignons free Bacon + $10 Off your first order! This is my affiliate link if you’d like to check it out.¬†Get 2 FREE Filet Mignons,
Bacon & $10 off your first box at ButcherBox

1/7/19 ALDI – $36.45

      • Green onions – .79
      • ABF ham – 3.29
      • ABF ham – 3.29
      • Avocados x 4 = 1.96 (.49 c each)
      • Yellow onions – 1.79
      • Pineapple x 2 – 1.98 (.99 c each)
      • Red onions –¬† 1.89
      • Organic baby spinach – 2.49
      • Red onions – 1.89
      • Sliced mushrooms – 1.69
      • Blood oranges – 4.99
      • Organic broccoli – 2.39
      • Limes – 1.89
      • Grapefruit x 8 – 5.52 (69 c each)
      • Cara Cara oranges – 2.49

1/17/19 ALDI $75.58

      • Banans 1.54
      • Corn tortillas – 1.99
      • Kiwis – 3.89
      • Italian bread – 3.69
      • Everything bagels – 1.49
      • Cinnamon bagels – 1.49
      • Breakfast sausage – 1.89
      • Hash brown patties – 1.89
      • Pretzel sticks – .59
      • Winking Owl wine – 2.94
      • Winking Owl wine – 2.94
      • Mandarins – 1.99
      • Half & Half – 1. 55
      • Organic baby spinach – 2.49
      • Cara Cara oranges – 3.99
      • Pure maple syrup – 5.99
      • Sausage links x 3 – 2.97 (.99 c each)
      • Sliced mushrooms – 1.69
      • Organic baby carrots – 1.49
      • Pineapple – 1.89
      • Mangoes x 4 = 2.76 (.69 c each)
      • Lemons – 2.89
      • Avocados – 2.89 (.89 c each)
      • ABF ham¬† – 3.29
      • AFB ham – 3.29
      • Pineapple – 1.89

1/22/19 Jeff’s Market (local grocery store) $16.56

      • Mandarins – 3.99
      • Yellow onions – 3.99
      • Bananas – 1.53
      • Broccoli – 2.50
      • Half & Half – 1.49
      • Eggs (2 dozen) – 3.06 (1.53 each)

**Jeff’s is my local option when we’re out of something and it’s too late to go to town. I don’t shop there very often.

1/23/19 COSTCO $109.38

      • Organic whole milk – $9.99 (3 – 1/2 gallons)
      • Organic maple syrup – 10.79
      • Organic frozen mangoes – 8.89
      • Tortillas – 3.99
      • Organic half / half – 1.97 (not sure why that’s so cheap?)
      • Clementines – 5.99
      • Bananas – 1.24
      • Grape tomatoes – 5.99
      • Organic tortilla chips – 4.59
      • Avocados – 4.59
      • Uncured bacon – 11.99
      • Mini babybels – 10.89
      • White sharp cheddar cheese – 10.79
      • Organic frozen berry blend – 11.69
      • Bagels – 5.99

1/26/19 Jeff’s Market $10.86

      • Canned black beans x 2 –¬† 1.35 each
      • Light red kidney beans x 2¬† – .67 each
      • Ground beef – 4.96
      • Bananas – 1.86

**Usually I cook dried beans in my Instant Pot (it’s super easy – here’s how!)! This is how poor planning affects my budget. I have plenty of dried beans in my pantry.

1/27/19 COSTCO $190.67

      • Kind Granola bars – 17.99
      • Organic triscuits – 9.59
      • Organic broccoli – 6.49
      • Organic tortellini – 9.99
      • Wild Caught Alaska Sock Eye Salmon – 32.99
      • Organic tortilla chips – 4.59
      • Bagels – 5.99
      • Organic eggs (2 dozen ) – 5.99
      • Garlic Kielbasa – 13.52
      • Hummus – 5.99
      • Sharp cheddar cheese – 10.79
      • Organic Greek yogurt – 5.59
      • Organic half & half – 5.99
      • Organic ground beef – 19.99
      • Baguette – 4.99
      • Organic carrots – 5.99
      • Organic romaine lettuce – 4.99
      • Grape tomatoes – 6.49
      • Mayan Sweet? I have no idea what this is. LOL – 4.49
      • Giant potatoes (15 lbs) – 7.99

1/29/19 ALDI $63.84

      • Sweet Potatoes – 4.09
      • English muffins – .99
      • Sliced mushrooms – 1.69
      • Hot dogs x 2 – .79 each (for giving our dogs pills – I think we spent more money in vet bills this month than we did on groceries.)
      • Kombucha – 2.89
      • Yellow mustard – .55
      • Pantene conditioner – 3.94
      • Organic baby spinach – 2.49
      • Cilantro – .65
      • Speciality shredded cheese – 2.99
      • Powdered sugar – 1.29
      • Winking Owl Wine x 2¬† – 2.94 each
      • Cara cara oranges x 2 – 1.49 each
      • Navel oranges – 1.99
      • Cream cheese – .69
      • Flour tortillas – 1.99
      • Bananas – 2.15
      • Green grapes – 2.72
      • Bananas – .73
      • Avocados x 9 – 4.41 (.49 c each)
      • Cantaloupe x 8 – 15.12 (1.89 each) which I DID NOT BUY. I bought 8 grapefruit though which are not on the receipt. So I will take this receipt to ALDI and see what they say! The grapefruit cost a lot less.

colored eggs

Fresh Eggs, $12

I also bought local eggs from a friend since I don’t currently have any chickens. She charges $2 a dozen, and I probably bought 6 dozen from her. I can’t really remember.

My grand total from January was $673.56 which is under my goal of around $800 a month! Not too shabby!! Plus, ALDI owes me about $8, I think, if I can get the cantaloupe charge reversed! I’ll try to remember to let you know in March how that goes for me! Remind me if I forget. How’d you do on groceries in January?

Want more Grocery Budget Reports:

Here’s how we did in January last year.

Here’s February’s report¬†

Here’s March’s grocery haul

Top 10 Tips for Saving Money at the Grocery Store

15 Ways to Save on Organic Food

Here’s how to save on Organic Meat


Instant Pot Whole Chicken Rotisserie Style From Fresh or Frozen

This Instant Pot Rotisserie Chicken is perfect for people who are looking for instant pot whole chicken recipes. The special spice mix makes this recipe a huge hit! Try it this week. 

untied legs instant pot rotisserie chicken

SimplifyLiveLove occasionally receives complimentary products, hosted travel, and/or compensation related to the content shared here. This story contains affiliate links which means we receive a small commission on your purchase.

Instant Pot Whole Chicken Rotisserie Style From Fresh or Frozen

rotisserie chicken spice rub mix

One of the most popular recipes on my blog is for a rotisserie chicken spice rub mix. A long time ago my mom gave me a countertop rotisserie chicken cooker and I used to make my own delicious chicken using this spice mix. But then along came the instant pot. It is so much easier to use (and clean) than that cooker I used to have. I figured I can’t be the only one who would like to make instant pot rotisserie chicken, so today I am sharing exactly how you can too!

Why use a pressure cooker for whole chicken?

Cooking pressure cooker whole chicken is so quick and easy! Want shredded chicken for other recipes? Cook a whole chicken in your instant pot. Want homemade chicken broth? Use your Instant Pot! Want to save money on your grocery budget? Eat healthier? All good reasons to look for Instant Pot whole chicken recipes.

Since I raise my own meat chickens, I almost always have whole chickens in my basement freezer that I need to figure out how to use. It can also be intimidating to use a whole chicken – so here are  tips and links for recipes, to cutting, to cooking all featuring a whole chicken. But my favorite way to cook whole chickens is to use my instant pot.

Cooking whole chickens is also a very economical way to feed your family. We buy as much organic food as we can, and definitely get more bang for our buck by eating whole chickens instead of cuts. Compare $1.98 / lb for whole organic chicken to $5.99 / lb for boneless skinless chicken breasts and you can see a big difference. If you’re looking for more ways to afford organic meat, make sure you read this post.

Instant Pot Whole Chicken Rotisserie Style From Fresh or Frozen

Can I cook frozen chicken in an Instant Pot?

A lot of people wonder if they can cook frozen chicken in a pressure cooker. Why yes, yes you can. There are few things you need to be aware of if you’re cooking instant pot whole chicken, but for the most part, your frozen chicken will turn out just fine in your electric pressure cooker! Here’s what you need to know:

    1. It will take significantly longer to cook.
    2. It’s harder to put the spice rub on the chicken.
    3. You can’t stuff a frozen chicken.
    4. You’ll want to buy frozen chickens without giblets because it’s impossible to get them out of frozen chickens.
    5. It might not look that pretty, but it will be just fine for shredded chicken, soup, and other uses as well.

How long it takes to cook chicken in an Instant Pot depends on the size of the chicken, and whether you are cooking a fresh (unthawed chicken) or frozen chicken. The important thing to remember is that the internal chicken temperature needs to be 165 degrees or it’s not fully cooked. Here are cooking times for various sized fresh and frozen chickens.

How long to cook fresh chicken in an Instant Pot

  • 3 pound chicken = cook for 20 minutes on High Pressure
  • 3.5 pound chicken = cook for 23 minutes on High Pressure
  • 4 pound chicken = cook for 25 minutes on High Pressure
  • 4.5 pound chicken = cook for 28 minutes on High Pressure
  • 5 pound chicken = cook for 33 minutes on High Pressure

After cooking, use a 15 minute natural pressure release and then release the remaining pressure manually.

How long to cook frozen chicken in an Instant Pot

  • 3 pound chicken = cook for 39 minutes on High Pressure
  • 3.5 pound chicken = cook for 46 minutes on High Pressure
  • 4 pound chicken =cook for 52 minutes on High Pressure
  • 4.5 pound chicken =cook for 59 minutes on High Pressure
  • 5 pound chicken =cook for 65 minutes on High Pressure

After cooking, use a 15 minute natural pressure release and then release the remaining pressure manually.

Here’s how to make this Instant Pot Whole Chicken Rotisserie Style

Now that you know everything you need to know about cooking fresh and frozen chicken in an Instant Pot, let’s get cooking!

Rotisserie Chicken Instant Pot

The first thing you may want to do is tie your chicken legs together. You certainly don’t have to, but tying them together with kitchen twine will hold the chicken together a little bit better in the instant pot.

instant pot rotisserie chicken

Next, mix the spices with the oil and brush the mixture all over the chicken.

place trivet in instant pot

Then, insert the trivet into your Instant Pot, add chicken broth, and carefully transfer the chicken to the Instant Pot. Cook on Manual High for the time required based on your chicken’s weight. After the pressure cooker has beeped, let it naturally release pressure for 15 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure.

place chicken on trivet in instant pot

Make sure you chicken is cooked completely by inserting a meat thermometer  (this is the one I have and love) into the thickest part of the thigh. The temperature should be 165. If it hasn’t reached 165, seal the pressure cooker back up and cook for 5 – 10 more minutes.

Supplies you’ll need to make Instant Pot Rotisserie Chicken

You’ll need the following supplies for this instant pot whole chicken recipes:

Printable Pressure Cooker Whole Chicken Recipe

Yield: 16 servings

Instant Pot Whole Chicken Rotisserie Style From Fresh or Frozen

Instant Pot Whole Chicken Rotisserie Style From Fresh or Frozen

Delicious rotisserie style chicken cooked right in your Instant Pot!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1 -4 lb whole chicken, fresh or frozen
  • 2 TBS avocado oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp REAL salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth


  1. You don't have to, but your chicken will look nicer if you tie the legs together with cooking twine, so do that first, if you want.
  2. Next, mix the spices with the oil.
  3. Brush the spices on the chicken.
  4. Insert trivet in Instant Pot, add chicken broth, and then carefully put the chicken on the trivet.
  5. Select the proper cooking time based on the size of your chicken. For a fresh 4 lb chicken, cook on high for 25 minutes.
  6. Preheat the broiler after the Instant Pot beeps done.
  7. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes, and then quick release any remaining pressure.
  8. Carefully open your Instant Pot, venting away from your face. Insert a meat thermometer into the meaty thigh and verify that the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165 degrees. If so, carefully remove the chicken to a cookie sheet. If not, seal up the Instant Pot and cook for 5-10 more minutes.
  9. This is optional, but your chicken will develop a crispy rotisserie skin only if you broil it in your oven for 2-3 minutes, or until your chicken is nicely browned.
  10. Enjoy!


Save the chicken carcass to make homemade chicken stock!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

4 ounces

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 210 Total Fat: 11g Saturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 81mg Sodium: 1619mg Carbohydrates: 2g Protein: 25g
Do you want more instant pot whole chicken recipes?

We love instant pot whole chicken recipes and there are lots of ways you can use the chicken. I recommend that you shred the leftovers and use them in other recipes. You can also save the chicken carcass and make a delicious homemade chicken broth. Here are more recipes you might want to try out:

Chicken Tikka Masala Instant Pot – You can use pre-cooked shredded chicken in this recipe if you want!

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup you can use pre-cooked shredded chicken in this recipe too

Nurturing Bone Broth in the Instant Pot

Greek Instant Pot Chicken & Rice

Let me know if you’re looking for more instant pot whole chicken recipes or how you like this one! I’d love to hear from you.

Fun, Affordable Family Skiing in Colorado at Sunlight Mountain Resort

Located about three hours from Denver and just outside Glenwood Springs, Co, Sunlight Mountain Resort is an amazing place to go skiing in Colorado. If you haven’t been there, here’s why you must go to Sunlight Mountain for you next ski vacation!

Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs CO

SimplifyLiveLove occasionally receives complimentary products, hosted travel, and/or compensation related to the content shared here. This story may contain affiliate links which means we receive a small commission on your purchase.

Last year, my family took an amazing spring break to Colorado. One of the best things we did on that trip was take our kids skiing as the guests of Sunlight Mountain. Not only were they able to take their first ski lesson, but we enjoyed exploring the mountain for three great days of skiing. Thank you to Sunlight Mountain for hosting my family. Almost a year later, the kids still talk fondly about their skiing adventures in Colorado.


photo courtesy of Troy Hawks, Sunlight Mountain Resort

Fun, Affordable Family Skiing in Colorado at Sunlight Mountain Resort

At first glance, Sunlight Mountain might not seem like that much. With only three chair lifts, the resort is not ritzy when compared to the giant resorts in Colorado. But don’t let that stop you from exploring all it has to offer. Free parking, no waiting, small crowds, powder all day, and over 700 skiable acres are just a few of the reasons you’ll want to head to Glenwood Springs and ski at Sunlight.

ski swim stay sunlight mountain

Affordable Family Skiing

For about half the cost of other Colorado ski resorts, you don’t have to break the bank to take your kids on a family ski trip. With four kids, we’re always looking for ways to save when we take our kids on vacation. While we want to save money, we definitely don’t want to sacrifice fun. Luckily, you won’t have to sacrifice anything at Sunlight Mountain!!

short lift lines at Sunlight Mountain

Small Crowds & Short Lift Lines

Crowded slopes and long lift lines are often the worst parts of skiing. And crowds with kids is just a real disaster as far as I’m concerned. It’s so much nicer when you don’t have to worry about people crashing into you, or your kids crashing into other people, or losing your kids in a crowd. Luckily, we didn’t have to worry about any of that, and if we had wait to wait more than two minutes for a lift at Sunlight, that was a long time!

ski lessons at Sunlight

Great Ski Lessons For Kids and Adults

I grew up skiing in Europe and when I was young, my parents enrolled me and my sister in week long ski lessons almost every time we went. Not only did they enroll us, but they took lessons as well. Lessons were pretty much the norm in Europe, but I don’t really see that same emphasis on lessons here in the States. Personally, I think the best thing you can do for your kids (and even yourself) is take ski lessons whenever possible. I need to take some more myself.

Since this was the first Colorado mountain experience for our kids, it was important to me that they have a lesson from someone other than myself. We enrolled each of our four kids in one lesson and they loved it. My eldest daughter had a panic attack the first time she got off the lift and the instructor was not only able to get her down the mountain, but he also gave her the confidence she needed to go back up. I can’t wait to put them back in ski lessons! They really enjoyed the lesson and the confidence they gained from it.

Mt Sopris from Sunlight Mountain Resort

Runs for Advanced Skiers Too

While Sunlight Mountain is a great resort for beginners, they also have a lot of slopes that more advanced skiers enjoy too. With 67 trails through 700 acres, there really is something there for everyone. And the views of Mt. Sopris and beyond are simply stunning!

Glenwood Springs Hot Springs

Ski, Swim, Stay Vacation

The great thing about skiing at Sunlight is there is more than just skiing. Glenwood Springs is known for its amazing hot springs after all! But you can also take snowmobile tours at Sunlight and so much more. Book a Ski, Swim, Stay vacation and enjoy everything that Glenwood Springs and Sunlight Mountain Resort have to offer! With beautiful hotel partners in Glenwood Springs, relaxing natural springs, lovely restaurants, local shops and more, your family will enjoy any vacation you book!

Do you enjoy skiing in Colorado? Where have you been and what did you love??

For more of our fun family adventures, check out these posts:

Our Amazing Colorado Spring Break

Fun Family Weekend in La Crosse, Wi

Heidelberg Germany Рmy childhood home 

Custer State Park, South Dakota

Mother – Daughter Teen Vacation in Panama City Beach


Fun Things to Do in Panama City Beach, Florida with (& without) Teens!

Visiting Shell Island, jet ski rentals, airboat rides, and swimming with dolphins are just a few fun things to do in Panama City Beach, Florida! Here’s info on it all and our¬†favorite Panama City Beach Restaurants¬†you will enjoy with (and without) your teens!

panama city beach florida

SimplifyLiveLove occasionally receives complimentary products, hosted travel, and/or compensation related to the content shared here. This story may contain affiliate links which means we receive a small commission on your purchase.

Fun Things to Do in Panama City Beach, Florida with (& without) Teens!

Last fall I was invited to visit Panama City Beach with one of my teenagers for a Real.FUN.Thrills press trip. The two of us hadn’t gone anywhere on our own since she was a toddler and when I asked her if she would like to go, she was 100% ready!

Shell Island at St. Andrews St Park

As winter grabs a hold of us here in Eastern Iowa, I am thinking how warm it was in Florida and all the fun things we did. I’m ready to go back! Here were just a few of the fun things Anna and I were able to do in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Shell Island Panama City Beach

Shell Island in Panama City Beach is a 7-mile long undeveloped barrier island the Gulf of Mexico and the St. Andrew Bay. Part of¬†¬†St. Andrews State Park (the most visited state park in Florida), it’s completely undeveloped and absolutely stunning!

shell island panama city beach

There are no concession stands, restrooms, picnic tables, trash cans etc to spoil your views, so make sure you take everything you need when you visit this beautiful island. And don’t forget to take your garbage with you when you leave.

playing in the water at shell island

To get to Shell Island, you’ll have to take some sort of water craft as it is not accessible by car.¬† We took the Bay Point Lady boat shuttle from the Sheraton Bay Point Resort where we stayed.

Learn more about Shell Island by clicking here.

Adventures at Sea jet ski rentals Panama City Beach

Jet Ski Rentals Panama City Beach

Not only did we take the resort shuttle to Shell Island, but we also drove there on jet skis one day, which ranks right up there as one of more terrifying things I’ve done. Marine Family Go-Cart Rules stipulate that once you step on the gas, you can’t let off, you see. No matter what, keep on the gas.

Adventures at Sea jet ski rentals Panama City Beach jetskis

When the jet ski rental people told us to hit it and go, I listened. In retrospect, that might not have been the best course of action since this was really my first time on a jet ski in the ocean. We did not tip but it was very bumpy, and I have to admit that more than once I feared for my life. After we got to Shell Island my screaming teenager (who clearly also feared for her life) said she’d find her own ride back. And she did. You know what – the ride back to the marina was blissfully quiet and not nearly as choppy. LOL!

Shell Island from jet skis

And just look at the views from Shell Island! Learn more about Adventures at Sea jet ski rentals in Panama City Beach here.

Airboat Rides Panama City Beach wild thang airboat tours

Airboat Rides Panama City Beach

While Anna’s favorite part of the trip was playing at Shell Island with her new best friends, my favorite part was the airboat ride. I loved can’t tell you how much I enjoyed skipping over the water and touring the West Bay Marshes with Wild Thang Airboat Tours.

wild thang airboat tours panama city beach florida

Our knowledgeable guide taught us a lot about the marsh ecosystem as he pointed out birds, an Osprey nest in a power pole, and took us on an alligator hunt. He was as entertaining as he was knowledgeable and we really enjoyed our first airboat ride!

West Bay Marshes Panama City Beach

Ride the SkyWheel Ferris Wheel at Pier Park

Pirates of the High Seas Fest at Pier Park in Panama City Beach

We happened to be in Panama City Beach during Columbus Day weekend and were super excited to attend the Pirates of the High Seas Fest at Pier Park. Featuring all sorts of pirates, parades, fireworks, live music, and more, you have to go if you’re PCB at the right time!

SkyWheel Ferris Wheel at Pier Park in Panama City Beach

While we were at Pier Park for the pirate parade, we decided to take a ride on the SkyWheel Ferris Wheel for a lovely view of the sunset! The ferris wheel is not for the faint of heart as you’ll ride 200 feet up in an enclosed gondola. The stunning views of Panama City Beach are totally worth it though!

Swim with Dolphins Panama City Beach

Swim with Dolphins Panama City Beach

Another very amazing experience we had on our press trip to Panama City Beach was a dolphin encounter at Gulf World. You can swim with dolphins, penguins, harbor seals and stingrays at Gulf World. They also have educational shows featuring dolphins, sea lions, tropical birds and more, indoor and outdoor exhibits with a variety of animals, and a pool where you can touch and feed stingrays.

petting the dolphins Gulf World Marine Park Panama City Beach

As part of a small group, we participated in the Dolphin Encounter where we touched, kissed, and hugged a dolphin. Anna really loved this experience – it was one of her favorite activities on the trip.

parrot at Gulf World Panama City Beach

Learn how to swim with dolphins in Panama City Beach here.

Our Favorite Panama City Beach Restaurants

Of course, you’ll also have to eat! Fortunately, you don’t have to look far for delicious places to eat in Panama City Beach! We liked everywhere we visited – from popular local spots to more upscale seafood restaurants. Here are a few of the Panama City Beach restaurants we really enjoyed.

Andy’s Flour Power

Andy’s Flour Power was voted the best cafe and brunch spot in Panama City Beach for good reason!.Featuring pastries, omelets, cake, live jazz and more, we all really loved this stop. If you go, make sure to try the Hummingbird Cake. I’ve never had it before and it was oh-so good. Made pineapple, banana, pecan, and cream cheese frosting. I suggest going with a group and trying a lot!

Liza’s Kitchen Panama City Beach

Liza’s Kitchen

Another favorite local breakfast place, Liza’s Kitchen doesn’t look like much from the outside. It’s located in a strip mall but don’t let that deter you! I can personally recommend the Hippie Hash, and if you like eggs benedict, breakfast sammies, and homemade biscuits, they serve all that up too!

Thomas Donut & Snack Shop PCB

Thomas Donut & Snack Shop

Sadly, we didn’t get to try the donuts at Thomas Donut & Snack Shop (located right off the beach at Laguna Beach)- but if the line was any indication of how good these donuts are, I highly recommend that you go. Several of my Iowa friends mentioned to me that they always stop there when they go to Panama City Beach, so I’m going to go ahead and recommend it! If you’ve been let me know what you thought!

Finn's Island Style Grub

Finn’s Island Style Grub

Finn’s Island Style Grub was really one of my favorite places to eat in Panama City Beach. Another unassuming restaurant, Finn’s has a huge outdoor patio and more a food truck vibe. Featuring tacos, bowls, wraps, and salads, my favorite was the ahi tuna tacos! And the ceviche was lovely too.

Finn's Island Style Grub PCB

Next door was gift shop with some great souvenirs I’m still kicking myself for not buying and a coffee shop that also sold smoothies and kombucha on tap!¬†If you end up with a sunburn, we found a great sunburn spray called¬†Solar Recovery Hydrating Mist. Several people in our group were quite red and were thrilled to have found this spray and the instant relief it provided.

The Grand Marlin Panama City Beach

The Grand Marlin

If you’re looking for a fancier meal, The Grand Marlin will not disappoint. Don’t worry – it’s still a casual atmosphere, but the most fancy of any of the spots I’ve mentioned here. We had a variety of food at the Gran Marlin from oysters to Grouper and local Red Snapper. We were told they also have beautiful views of the Florida sunset, but we were too late to see it, sadly.

Runaway Island Beach Bar & Grille

Runaway Island Beach Bar & Grill

Runaway Island Beach Bar was the last place we ate before heading home. Located right on the beach, it’s a lovely beach bar and grill. The food was fine, but I think the bigger reason to go here is for the amazing atmosphere! It’s not that often that we get to eat with such beautiful views of the ocean!!

With all of these fun things to do and delicious¬†places to eat, it’s easy to see why Panama City Beach is a favorite Florida getaway destination. I’d love to hear you favorites about the area too!

Sheraton Bay Point Resort Panama City Florida



Delicious Keto Smothered Instant Pot Pork Chops

This delicious Smothered¬†Instant Pot Pork Chops¬†Recipe from Dr. Karen Lee’s new Keto Cooking with your Instant Pot Cookbook¬†is amazing! If you’re looking for keto pork chops that will melt in your mouth and are also easy to make, make sure to try this recipe. Make sure you read to the end of the post and enter a giveaway for the cookbook as well!!

Instant Pot Pork Chops and Keto Cooking with Your Instant Pot Cookbook giveaway

This recipe was reprinted with permission from Keto Cooking with Your Instant Pot by Karen S. Lee, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018.

Instant Pot Pork Chops

Dr. Karen really hit it out of the park with this smothered pork chop recipe! Not only is it very easy to make, but it’s a huge hit at my house. Featuring ingredients including heavy cream, white wine, and mushrooms, these keto pork chops will be a hit at your house too.

Keto Smothered Instant Pot Pork Chops

Keto Cooking with Your Instant Pot Cookbook by Dr. Karen S. Lee

Before we get to the recipe, I need to tell you about this (this post contains affiliate links which means I earn a commission on your order)¬†amazing cookbook. We don’t really subscribe to any particular diet other than trying to eat real food from scratch as much as possible, but I am very intrigued by the Keto diet.

I love that Lee’s recipes focus on from-scratch ingredients. You won’t find anything packaged or processed in her cookbook, and all the recipes look very delicious. Her collection of 75 low-carb, real food, wholesome recipes to make in your Instant Pot is just what you need to get a delicious dinner on the table in a hurry.

A little about Karen Lee Рshe is a retired chiropractor, cookbook author, and food blogger with an emphasis on holistic health and real food recipes to help working moms with busy families. Keto Cooking with Your Instant Pot is her second cookbook. She also wrote Paleo Cooking with Your Air Fryer: 80+ Recipes for Healthier Fried Food in Less Time. You can buy both books on Amazon, or enter to win a copy of Keto Cooking with Your Instant Pot at the end of this post!

All righty, are you ready for the smothered pork chops recipe?

step for making keto pork chops in the instant pot

Keto Smothered Instant Pot Pork Chops

One of the many reasons I love my Instant Pot is that it makes this a one dish meal, and that means clean up is a snap. To make this recipe, simply prepare everything right in the IP! From saute to cooking, everything happens right in the Instant Pot.

To make this recipe, you’ll saute bacon in your Instant Pot, then sear the pork chops and cook the onions and mushrooms right in the bacon grease. I’m a big fan of cooking with bacon grease and use it for all sorts of things. It’s really useful in this recipe too.

After the pork chops are seared and the veggies are soft, just put the pork chops back in and cook on HIGH for 20 minutes. The last step is making the sauce, and that is easy as can be too.

Once that’s done, you have a lovely low-carb, keto friendly meal your family will really love. Here’s the printer friendly recipe!

keto pork chops

Yield: 4 servings

Keto Smothered Instant Pot Pork Chops + Giveaway

Keto Smothered Instant Pot Pork Chops + Giveaway

Delicious and tender pork chops with a creamy mushroom gravy that you will want to make again and again!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 33 minutes
Total Time 43 minutes


  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 - 6 oz boneless pork loin chops
  • 2 strips uncured bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter, more as needed
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 12 oz white mushrooms, sliced 1/4" thick
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup full-fat heavy cream
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbs tapioca powder, more if needed
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley chopped, reserve 1 tbs for garnish


  1. In a small bowl, mix the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, sea salt, and black pepper. Sprinkle both siders of the pork chops with the garlic powder mixture and set aside.
  2. Turn on the Instant Pot by pressing "Saute" and set to "More." Insert the inner pot and wait until the panel says "Hot." Add the bacon and saute for 3 minutes, then add the pork chops, two at a time, and brown both sides for 2 minutes per side. Add butter at this point if needed. Transfer the pork chops to a plate and set aside. Add the onion and mushrooms and saute until the onion is soft. Add the white wine and stir and scrape the bottom for 1 minute. Place the pork chops on top of the onion and mushrooms.
  3. Close the lid tightly and move the steam release handle to "Sealing." Press "Cancel," then the "Pressure Cooker / Manual" button and set the timer for 20 minutes on High Pressure. When the timer ends, you will hear a beeping sound. Allow the Instant Pot to cool down naturally until the flat valve drops down. Press "Cancel" and open the lid. Place the pork chops on plates to be served and let rest.
  4. Meanwhile, add the rest of the ingredients in the inner pot except 1 tablespoon of parsley and stir for 2 minutes until it thickens. Add more tapioca flour if needed, depending on how much liquid was produced from the meat and vegetables cooking. Top the pork chops with the mushroom gravy and garnish with parsley before serving.


Nutrition information: Per serving: 343 calories, 21 g fat, 23 g protein, 12 g total carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber

keto pork chops made in the instant pot

Win a Copy of Keto Cooking with your Instant Pot Cookbook 

Want to win a signed coy of this awesome cookbook? Enter the Rafflectoper Giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents 18 years of age only. SimplifyLiveLove is not responsible for shipping. Winner will have 48 hours to provide a mailing address or a new winner will be chosen. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you liked these keto pork chops, you might like these keto friendly recipes too:

Salmon & Asparagus Sheet Pan Dinner

Salmon Street Tacos (use keto friendly tortillas)

Better than Take out Beef w/ Broccoli (replace honey with SWERVE to make this recipe low-carb and omit rice)

Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala (replace honey with SWERVE to make this recipe low-carb and omit rice)



Unwind & Recharge at Red Cedar Lodge in Charles City, Iowa

If you’re in need of calm place to get away from everything, head to Red Cedar Lodge in Charles City, Iowa.¬† These lovely and luxurious cabins offer the perfect spot to relax, unwind, and recharge. While you’re there, check out these fun things to do!

winter glamping at Red Cedar Lodge in Charles City, Iowa

*I was treated to a Winter Glamping Retreat courtesy of Red Cedar Lodge, but the opinions here are all mine.*

Winter Glamping at Red Cedar Lodge in Charles City, Iowa

Life can really be overwhelming sometimes, can’t it? Between work, families, cell phones, school, and all our other obligations, it’s hard to turn it all off. Sometimes, a getaway is what we need to re-charge so we can attack our lives with gusto again.

Red Cedar Lodge offers the perfect place to do that. Located just outside Charles City, Iowa in the north central part of the state, this lovely vacation spot features three luxuriously appointed log cabins nestled along the Cedar River. Awarded the Outstanding Lodging Award by Travel Iowa, you will not be disappointed when you book a glamping getaway here.

unwind at Red Cedar Lodge

What is glamping anyway?

Shortly after our stay at Red Cedar Lodge, I posted pictures of the cabin and our time in Charles City on facebook. Another travel blogger asked about the definition of glamping, as in her mind glamping happens in elaborate, luxurious tents. She wondered when the term evolved to include cabins, chalets, and resorts. I wasn’t sure, so I posed the question to Lorraine, the owner of Red Cedar Lodge. Here’s what she said:

Yes, I believe originally the term Glamping was all about luxury tent camping with some modern conveniences.

However, in recent years it seems to have transitioned to overnight lodging that embraces nature. So these days, cabins, yurts, treehouses, cute vintage trailers and of course, tents are all the means in which to Glamp.

But, not just any old dusty, buggy, musty accommodation provides Glamping. It must be beautiful, clean, cute, unexpected, and luxurious in its own right.

luxurious bedroom at Red Cedar Lodge

And Red Cedar Lodge offers all of that and more! From soft fluffy pillows, to bathrobes, to fully equipped kitchens, hair dryers, and even iron and ironing boards, you don’t have to take anything on your trip except yourself and a swim suit. Well, you might want to bring clean clothes too. ūüėČ While I enjoy tent camping too, I very much appreciate arriving at a beautiful location where everything is already set up for me.

one of 3 log cabins at Red Cedar Lodge

But seriously. I have stayed in cabins before where we were required to bring our own sheets, towels, and dishes. As far as I’m concerned, if I have to pack all of that, I might as well stay in a tent.

great room at red cedar lodge

Glamping in the Winter

Typically, I think of glamping as an activity for the summer. But winter also a great time to glamp. While, it doesn’t need to be winter to head to Red Cedar Lodge, it is a lovely time of year to visit. Think of softly falling snow. Crunching footsteps. Crackling fireplaces. Beautiful Christmas decor. It’s only found in winter.

Be sure you take the right people along when you head to Red Cedar Lodge. I was thrilled to spend some time with fellow travel writers. It’s always fun to collaborate and who says a little bit of learning can’t be relaxing?

drone photo of Red Cedar Lodge

Spend Quality Time with Great Company

Kylie from Between England and Iowa took this photo of Red Cedar Lodge with her drone. I have been so inspired by her DJI Spark drone photos that I got one for my son for Christmas. He’s started taking photos around our homestead and they are amazing. I guess I’m either going to have to learn how fly the drone myself or start bringing him along on all my blogging getaways. ūüėČ

Besides Kylie, I also got to meet Mary from Farm Girl Cookin’ for the first time in real life. She made the amazing beef stew I shared the recipe for recently. We also made a wonderful crunchy artisan bread and homemade ricotta! Mary told us all about the beautiful farm weddings she’s starting offering at her lovely farm. If it had been a possibility when I got married 21 years ago, I would have loved to have my wedding at her place! So beautiful.

Teresa Goodrich from The Local Tourist was also one of my housemates. We met a couple years ago on a quick trip to the Minnesota State Fair and she is absolutely amazing. Couldn’t ask for a more inspiring roommate! Maybe one of these days I will be able to put her genius photo organization tips into action.

Val Plagge from Corn, Beans, Kids, and Pigs was there as well. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Val several times. She helped organize the Franklin County Harvest Tour my family was treated to in Hampton, Iowa several years ago. And she brought sausage that she and her husband made themselves from pigs they raised and also butchered themselves! You know I’m a sucker for homegrown and homemade.

And last but not least, Katy Flint from Flint and Co. was there too. We also met in Minnesota several years ago and she’s always ready with a laugh and easy smile.

The Cedar River in Charles City Iowa

Things to do in Charles City, Iowa in the Winter

While it’s perfectly acceptable to hole up in one of the cabins at Red Cedar Lodge and not leave, there are several reasons to head into Charles City, even in the winter.

what to eat in charles city iowa

Where to Eat in Charles City.

Your cabin is equipped so you can cook your own food if you want. But there are several yummy restaurants to explore in Charles City. I thoroughly enjoyed the Cheeseburger Pizza from Cedar River Pizza Co, even hough I thought I would never like cheeseburger pizza. I mean pickles on pizza? Sounds a little gross – but tastes delicious! This delicious pizzas is carry out only, so pick one up to enjoy at your cabin!

We also enjoyed good pub fare at the Pub on the Cedar. They serve a large selection of brews we were happy to sample. I ate a turkey bruschetta sandwich and tried Katy’s sweet potato puffs! Pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. Pub on the Cedar is included on Iowa’s 99 Must Try Restaurants list – so make sure you stop in!

Looking for good coffee? You’ll find a great cup of joe at Aroma’s.¬†Aroma’s roasts their own coffee beans so you can buy a cup and also a bag of beans to take home!

local shops in charles city iowa

Peruse the local shops.

I love checking out local shops and Charles City has several to choose from. From Iowa State gear (not much for you Iowa fans in this town, I’m afraid), to art, souvenirs, and even plants – here are a few of the shops I really enjoyed.

Darbe Co. & Boutique

Here you’ll find lovely baby shower gifts, women’s clothing, hats, scarves, jewelry, and maybe even a few truffles if you’re lucky! You can pick up a bottle of local wine at this cute little boutique as well.

The Rustic Corner

The Rustic Corner has a little it of everything including personalized ornaments they can make on the spot, Hallmark ornaments, home and decor. They also have a hilarious collection of socks, kitchen towels, and more that some people might find inappropriate but I loved. And you can even attend painting classes and more here as well.

Otto’s Oasis

A walk through the warm greenhouse on a cold day was really fun for me. I love plants and flowers and they have a lovely assortment at Otto’s Oasis. They also sell fun gifts and decor items as well. But my favorite thing here was a DIY succulent bar where you can pick out succulents and make yourself a little planter. Super cute!

Mooney Art Gallery at the Charles City Public Library

Check out the Mooney Art Gallery.

Located in an unassuming library, this free art collection is completed unexpected. You’ll have to stop in and check out this amazing collection of original classic art prints from famous artists including Dali, Picasso, Rembrandt and Goya! This astounding collection of art was donated to the Charles City Library in 1941, but it took over 50 years before it was made accessible to the public. Not only was there no space to display the art, but each piece had to be framed, matted, and treated for preservation. You’ll definitely want to stop in and see this art collection!carrie champan catt girlhood home charles city iowa

Head out to the Carrie Chapman Catt Girlhood Home and Musuem

I loved this stop so much that I dedicated an entire post to this amazing woman who helped pave the way for the 19th amendment and my right to vote! Head over here to read all about it.

Again, many thanks to Red Cedar Lodge, Charles City Chamber of Commerce, Pub on Cedar, and Cedar River Pizza Company. My only regret is that the glamping experience was so short.

If you haven’t been to Red Cedar Lodge or Charles City, Iowa, what are you waiting for?



A Stop at the Carrie Chapman Catt Girlhood Home

Until last December, I had never heard of Carrie Chapman Catt, but this amazing suffragette deserves to be remembered. Without her hard work, who knows when American women would have gotten the vote. If you are a history lover, make sure to stop at her girlhood home outside Charles City, Iowa.
carrie champan catt girlhood home charles city iowa

A Stop at the Carrie Chapman Catt Girlhood Home

One of the things I love most about traveling is the amazing learning that happens with each and every trip. This is the girlhood home of Carrie Chapman Catt, a determined women who worked tirelessly during the late 1800 and early 1900s to give women the right to vote.

As part of a fun Winter Glamping Getaway at Red Cedar Lodge in Charles City, Iowa last December, I visited Carrie’s girlhood home. I’d love to take my family back in the summer. It’s an inspiring place to visit.

barn at the carrie chapman catt girlhood home

Carrie Chapman Catt’s Fight for Women

A defining moment happened at this farm when Carrie was 13 years old. Her father and his hired man were going to town to vote in the 1872 presidential election. She asked why her mother wasn’t going to vote too, and her father told her voting was too important a civic duty to leave to women. Can you even imagine??

After that, Carrie devoted her life to women’s suffrage. She went to college at a time when most people (women especially) did not. She worked as a law clerk, a teacher, and a principal. In 1883, she became a superintendent of schools, one of the first women in the nation appointed in this role.

Carrie joined the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association in 1887 working as a professional writer and lecturer. From there she worked nationally for the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and helped organize the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. After the 19th Amendment officially became part of the United States Constitution on August 26, 1920, she continued to work for noble causes like world peace and child labor.

It took 144 years after the US became independent for all women to be guaranteed the right to vote.

To the wrongs that need resistance, to the right that needs assistance, to the future in the distance, give yourselves.”

— Carrie Chapman Catt

When Carrie was a girl, not only could women not vote, they also couldn‚Äôt keep the money they earned for themselves if they were married. They couldn‚Äôt own property. They weren’t allowed to keep their children in the event of a rare divorce. All of these facts combined make her accomplishments even more remarkable. I can’t fathom what life was like for women during Carrie’s lifetime.

A bit about the Carrie Chapman Catt Girlhood Home

Carrie’s family built and moved to this house from Wisconsin in 1866 when she was seven years old. Her family lived here for an number of years, and Carrie was married in the house in 1885. In 1891, the Lane family sold the home.

By 1991, it sat empty and neglected, in danger of ruin. It was sold to the non-profit National 19th Amendment Society and Preservation architect Bill Wagner and supervised the restoration.

interactive displays at the Carrie Chapman Catt girlhood home

In addition to the restored home that is dedicated to Carrie’s work on women’s suffrage, there is also a visitor’s center with interactive displays and fun events from throughout the summer. Kids will enjoy trying on period costumes and measuring their waists. Did you know that in 1890, the maximum desired waist size (for women) was 18 inches? I don’t know when I last had an 18″ waist, but was probably pretty darn young.

The Carrie Lane Chapman Catt Girlhood Museum also features a restored prairie perfect for exploring. Iowa used to be almost all prairie, but with the advent of modern agriculture, most of it has been turned into corn and soybean fields. Families will enjoy heading out in September for the annual apple picking day from the heritage apple farm still in operation. I would love to go to that and I know my kids would enjoy it too!

The home and visitor center is open to the public from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Mondays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is also open by appointment.

girlhood home carrie chapman catt

To learn what else you can do in Charles City, Iowa make sure to read this post!

Do you enjoy learning about history when you travel? What’s been your favorite learning experience?

Gardening for Beginners Made Easy

Gardening for beginners does not have to be hard! If you want to start your first garden but aren’t sure where to start, these 10 practical tips for first time gardeners will be a big help. Ten Practical Tips for First Time Gardeners

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Gardening for Beginners Made Easy

Growing a garden can be very rewarding, but there are a few things you should consider before you start.

1. Start small and manageable

Gardens take a lot of work and the work increases exponentially with the size. You’ll need to have time to plant, water, weed, de-bug, harvest, and cook, so it makes a lot of sense to learn small. You can still grow a lot of food, even in a small garden. You’ll be surprised at how much food you can grow in a 4 x 8 or even a 4 x 4 raised garden bed! Keep it small the first year so you don’t get scared off from trying again.¬†grow veggies you like

2. Grow fruits and veggies your family loves to eat

It’s really easy to get caught up in the beautiful seed catalog and order many different types of seeds, but keep it simple the first year.¬†If you don’t like¬†zucchini, there’s absolutely zero reason to plant it. I give you permission to skip zucchini if you want! ūüôā

3. Plant these seeds directly in the garden

Some plants do fine when you plant them as seeds. And some you must plant as seedlings. Know the difference! ūüôā

  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Lettuce
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini / Squash

4. Plant these as seedlings

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Brussel Sprouts

Buy Tomato Seedlings

5. Buy veggie starts at the garden nursery instead of trying to start your own.

Stating seeds is a lot of fun and can be very rewarding, but if this is your first time gardening, it’s easier and more practical to just buy the baby plants at the store. It might even be cheaper in the long run too.

6. Learn your frost free dates and garden zone.

It’s very important to plant your garden at the right time, so head on over to this first and last frost calculator, plug in your zip code, and learn when it’s safe to plant your garden. Frost kills plants so make sure you know this very important detail! You’ll also want to know what your garden zone because some plants grow better in certain zones. Go here to learn your garden zone.

7. Choose a good garden location.

Most plants need full sun (at least six hours of sun each day) so keep that in mind when choosing where to place your garden. You’ll want to avoid trees of course, and also consider tall fences or other vegetation that may cast shadows on your garden.

8. Keep a garden journal.

If you want to continue gardening, it’s important to learn from your mistakes. Keep track of what you plant, when you plant it, how it grows, and how well it harvests. This will help you plan future gardens. This is the amazing¬†garden journal I have!

don't forget mulch

9. Don’t forget mulch

Mulching your garden will help keep moisture in and weeds out. All of your plants will benefit from mulch, so don’t forget to include it in your garden. Straw, grass clippings, and wood chips can all make good mulch and sometimes you can even find free mulch too!

10.  Spend time in your garden each day.

Make sure you head out to your garden each day to check for bugs, weeds, and other problems. Tending a garden does take devoted time each day so make sure you’re able to spend at least 10 – 30 minutes a day with your plants (depending on the size of your garden).

More awesome garden posts to check out!

5 Must Know Tips for Planting Tomato Seedlings

Tips for Planting Seedlings

How to Plant Potatoes – No Dig Method

Tips for Spring Garden Planning

Tips for Ordering Garden Seeds

How to Grow a 3 Sisters  Garden

Companion Plants You Must Have in Your Garden

My Favorite Garden Seed Organizer

If you want to start your first garden but aren't sure where to start, these tips for first time gardeners will be a big help. Growing a garden can be very rewarding, but there are a few things you should consider before you start.

Happy gardening, my friends! Make sure you check back each Tuesday for more gardening tips, tricks, and tutorials. If you liked this post, you may want to sign up for my weekly newsletter too!