Confessions of an imperfect homemaker (and how I survived my darker days)

Do you feel like an imperfect homemaker? Ever feel like an idiot when someone catches you in a rookie homemaking "mistake"? Me too! We're not alone either!

I vividly remember this one lovingly-but-terribly prepared stir-fry that I served to dear friends just months after having my first baby and becoming a full time homemaker.

The beef was so tough and badly cooked, you had to chew, chew, chew, and take a huge gulp of water to try to get it to go down. How they got through that awful meal so graciously, I just don’t know.

Then there was the time about a year and a half later when my husband was very sick and a dear friend paid for a cleaner to come and help me out once a week. Her first time in my laundry room, she gasped and held up my drier’s lint collector and asked me if I ever cleaned it out.

I was mortified to admit that I barely ever did, and felt even worse when she explained that it was a fire hazard and should be done every few loads. The truth? I honestly didn’t know it needed to be cleaned out until it just got too full. I felt like an idiot.

Here’s the thing… what I know about homemaking has been very hard earned.

It was never really taught to me (although both my mom and step-mom are very capable ladies who keep their homes well). I was always encouraged towards excelling in school, earning scholarships, heading towards university, and having a career.

Sure, I had a few chores at home. I could wash dishes, do a decent job on a bathroom, push a vacuum around a bit, and get a load of laundry through the machines. I could make grilled cheese sandwiches and boxes of Kraft Dinner and mix up frozen juice and flip pancakes from a batter someone else had made.

But understand the intricacies of what it took to keep a house clean and maintained?

Manage a schedule or routine that didn’t involve band practice, work shifts at McDonald’s and history paper deadlines?

Care for and train up children in a way that went beyond making sure the kids in my Sunday School class thought I was a cool teacher?

441086409_e66a5fe02b_b

I was utterly unprepared.

And when that time came, when I said “yes” to the man who had won my heart, and then 13 months after our marriage, said “you’re mine” to the sweetest, most innocent bundle I’d ever held in my arms, I had never been at such a complete loss.

(Sheesh, I’m already making myself tear up as I write this post… good thing you get to read it instead of watch me ugly cry through it, huh?)

Oh, I wanted to do well by them. I really did.

I was determined to learn to do it all – Keep up with the laundry. Stick to our meager budget. Make food that was actually palatable. Be a good mama to that little girl.

But good intentions and heartfelt desires don’t always take us far enough.

I remember those daunting early weeks and months of motherhood, and the tear-filled sessions I spent on the hand-me-down futon couch in our dark basement apartment where I sat wallowing in hopelessness.

As I stared in frustration at the unthinkable amounts of laundry that one tiny person could make, as I read book after book from the library trying to learn how to care for an infant, shop frugally, plan out meals and cook the basics, and as I felt guilty about finding it so darn hard to even get myself out of bed each day to do this job that felt alien to me… I became depressed and discouraged.

I would beat myself up, like after my Nana came to visit and was shocked that I didn’t know how to properly iron my husband’s work clothes and had baskets of clean laundry sitting all around us. Surely women in her generation would never have been so incompetent. Why was it so hard for me, then?

12MPL5PSN2

Slowly, imperfectly, awkwardly, I pushed through those years.

What carried me through was my growing conviction that, though it seemed beyond my grasp, being a good homemaker, wife and mother was quite possibly not the stupid, pointless career I had been brainwashed to think it was as a bright teenager being steered towards university.

Perhaps it wasn’t just something that unintelligent or uneducated women did.

Perhaps it was actually a genuinely challenging AND critically important role, one that was responsible for weaving together the very fabric of our family, for providing a place of respite and rest, for nurturing relationships, for raising up educated, responsible and conscientious children.

Perhaps being a homemaker mattered. Perhaps it was a higher calling than anyone ever told me.

And if that was the case, I was going to persist in trying, in learning, in stumbling my way through trying to cook a white sauce from scratch, and actually wiping my walls every once in a while, and learning how not to serve tough, chewy beef to those who sat at my table.

Not to mention, figuring out how on earth to do it all while being mommy to first one, then two, then three and eventually four little people who had constant needs, regular bodily functions, the uncanny ability to dismantle a room at warp speed, and the annoying propensity to be selfish, sinful, imperfect people just like I was.

9EFBD07131

One day, while pregnant with my second child, I heard about blogs. This was back around 8 or 9 years ago, before the dawn of professional blogs, picture-perfect tutorials, and Facebook or Pinterest,.

What I found was a handful of down-to-earth bloggers, who didn’t take fancy pictures or write twelve step how-to posts, but instead talked about their daily lives as moms and homemakers. They shared favorite recipes. They gave a cleaning tip. They talked about their schedule. They were honest about the difficulties of motherhood.

For the first time in so long, I began to feel less alone in this uncharted territory of mothering and running a home.

After about a year of faithfully reading, I decided that maybe, just maybe, blogging was something I would like to do. I had been learning, in all of my voracious reading, so much about nutrition and children’s health and the state of the food supply and gardening and the toxins that were harmful to us.

I may not have been up for any awards of “homemaker of the year”, but gosh darn it, I was beginning to know something of value about being healthy and I desperately wanted to share that with other moms who would benefit from the information as much as I had.

My husband looks back on that time and recalls that starting a blog was one of the best things that ever happened to me as a homemaker. The support and encouragement and ideas I found made all the difference.

In my eagerness to share, I dove in more fervently to the daily duties in our home. I took part in blog challenges, I tried out other people’s schedules and cleaning routines, I forced myself to try making more things from scratch so I could share tutorials for doing so.

It was a learning curve of mountainous proportions, but little by little, I was making progress and it showed.

fire-firework-light-5076

Fast forward 7 years.

I still don’t have it even remotely together.

I’m a rather imperfect homemaker, a sometimes harried and voice-raising mother of four (almost five), a never-truly-clean fridge owner.

I regularly get behind with the homeschooling, I lose library books incessantly, and I can’t seem to keep up a daily planner for the life of me.

But that’s not all that defines me.

That drier lint? It no longer builds up to proportions that would scare the pants off a firefighter.

The laundry? It usually ends up clean and back in drawers and closets, even if clean loads sit out from time to time. (And my darling husband stopped working a job that required ironing, praise the Lord.)

From-scratch, whole food meals? They make it onto our table three times a day (even if they occasionally consist of the fallback scrambled eggs and toast), and most of the time, they taste good, too.

Guests that come to our home? I think they feel warmth and welcome, they seem to enjoy the food I serve, and heavens, they still come back again the next time I ask them over.

But even far more importantly…

  • I give it my all, each and every day, and that’s all I can ask of myself.
  • I’ve never stopped learning.
  • Our home is a happy and healthy place, even when the baby spends all day in just a diaper and you can’t see the counters for the piles.
  • My husband deeply appreciates the role that I play and how hard I work to serve our family.
  • My kids know that their mama is always there for them, will care for all their needs, wants the very best for them, and sincerely delights in them.

The condition of my floors, or whether I weed the flower garden, or the last time I washed the sheets? They don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

14431152115_8811298306_b

My home has become a place where I daily pour out my heart in the form of driving kids to gymnastics and karate, sitting for painfully long amounts of time as a budding reader sounds out a book, chopping up fruit and vegetables for finicky taste buds, and having important, tear-stained conversations with emotional little girls who will one day be courageous women.

It’s hard to imagine a more important job.

And I love that I’m also a work-at-home mom. I relish in writing and running a business and collaborating with other entrepreneurs and using skills that go beyond the running of a home.

But it’s surprised me that over the years of working to fit in both domestic duties along with a career, I have never stopped seeing the utter importance of what I do in the home.

Of the type of wife and mother I am. Of the atmosphere that I create in this space where we live out the most common, mundane and significant moments of our lives.

It’s for all of these reasons… the hard and overwhelming beginning, the years of struggle and growth, the feelings of joy and accomplishment at gaining these skills, and the knowledge that the work I put my hands to is of far greater and more long-term worth than it might seem to be in the moment…

This is the heart behind this blog, and also the reason my friend Erin and I first created the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.

Not because we’re perfect. Not because we think women should be Martha Stewart. Not because we want to overwhelm you or make you feel bad about all the parts of homemaking that you aren’t very good at.

No, not at all. It’s because we want you to have the resources neither of us had, and that we both so desperately needed when we started out.

I can’t imagine how differently those early years of marriage, motherhood and homemaking would have been if I’d had access to the astounding wealth of information that exists on the internet today, or if I could have purchased an affordable package of helpful homemaking resources to teach me and cheer me on in my efforts.

The homemaking bundle is an incredible package, with resources on:

  • Cleaning… create a healthy, toxin-free home
  • DIY/Homemade… fun and frugal ways to express your personal style
  • Devotionals and Faith… take a break from the daily grind to renew yourself
  • Finances… build a budget that works
  • Cooking & Meal Planning… serve easier, tastier meals in less time
  • Holidays & Special Events… brighten up old family traditions and create new
  • Homeschooling… homeschool with grace and ease
  • Marriage… heat up your marriage
  • Motherhood… find peace, balance & joy in mothering
  • Organizing… conquer the clutter and simplify your life
  • Pregnancy & Babies… enjoy a healthy pregnancy and prepare to nurture your baby
  • Health & Wellness… soothe aches & pains with natural remedies
  • Working from Home… hone your talents, live your passions and earn money to help your family

My husband and I actually work together on this business, with a phenomenal team of passionate people, and it’s a genuine privilege to put these bundles together for you.

We try to cram as much value into them as we possibly can, using a model that allows us to make them available to you for just a limited time, but at a price we hope every family can afford.

one itty bitty price

The bundle is a total of 99 carefully selected resources designed to help you grow as a homemaker and better nurture the beauty in your home and family relationships… is only $29.97. (A total value of $984.74.)

That breaks down to 30 cents per book.

Your 30-Day 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

If for any reason, you decide that the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is not for you, then please send an email to customerservice@Ultimate-Bundles.com and we will refund 100% of your investment. No questions asked.

bonuses-collage-frame

Don’t Forget the Bonuses…

These are the icing on the cake. To me, the resources and helps are the heart of the bundle, but all this awesomeness from our bonus partners is just the ooey gooey sweetness on top.

  • Choose 1 FREE Online Class from Craftsy (Select from 24 of Their Most Popular Classes – Up to $60 Value)
  • 1 FREE Kids Discovery Box from Green Kid Crafts ($19.95 Value)
  • FREE $15 Credit to Hope Ink PLUS 2 FREE 8×10 Art Prints ($71 Value)
  • FREE 90-Day “Good Deal” Subscription to She Plans Dinner ($15 Value)
  • Choose 1 FREE Stylish Spring Scarf from Deborah & Co. ($20 Value)
  • FREE $80 Healthy Moving Class Credit ($80 Value)
  • FREE 90-Day Pro Membership to ListPlanIt ($30 Value)
  • FREE 65 Tyndale Rewards Points to Be Used for a FREE Book or Towards Any Book of Your Choice ($15 Value)

But time is running out! The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle will only be available from 8:00 a.m. EST on Monday, April 20 until 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, April 27.

motionmailapp.com

After that, the shopping cart closes and it will no longer be available, so grab yours now!

Click here for more info or to buy now.

I genuinely hope and pray that this bundle encourages and equips and builds you up in a meaningful way that impacts your home and family long term.

And please remember… you are NOT alone in your struggles. So, so many of us have been there, too. We’ve felt that desperation. We’ve cried those tears. We’ve needed someone to come alongside us and help.

As you read these eBooks and take these eCourses, may you feel surrounded by other caring women, by mentors, and by friends who want to see you succeed and flourish and thrive in your homemaking.

Much love from myself, and all of us on the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle team. <3

UHB2015 facebook party

Lastly… want to join together with other women who share your struggles? Come hang out with myself and others at the Keeper of the Home Ultimate Homemaking Facebook Party this Wednesday, April 22nd from 8-10pm EST (5-7pm PST). You can RSVP here and then we’ll see you at the party!

Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

Disclosure: As an organizer and author in this sale, our family earns commissions on bundles sold through this site. Thank you so much for your support.
Images- baby by Juhan Sonin, woman in woods by Chris Meyers, girl reading by Marta A Orlowska, red tricycle by Alicja Colon.

Weekend Links

The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest. - Thomas Moore {Keeper of the Home}

4 Simple Steps to Stress-Free Homemaking Course

Being a homemaker can be a challenge! Are you struggling with managing your own home? Are you feeling alone and aren’t sure where you can get some help? Be sure not to miss out on the 4 Simple Steps to Stress-Free Homemaking eCourse that will streamline your homemaking and make your days of managing a home less stressful!

In this eCourse, you will learn:

  • how to never get behind on laundry again,
  • how to wake up each day to a sparkling clean kitchen,
  • how to avoid the 5 o’clock scramble with a super simple meal planning method, and
  • how to set yourself up for success with a quick nighttime routine.

What does this eCourse include?

  • 4 videos: These videos are all less than 10 minutes long, so it won’t take up a lot of time to watch them. But they each pack a punch!
  • 4 printable worksheets: We don’t want to just leave you with the teaching; we want you to brainstorm ways to implement it in your life!
  • FREE REWARDS by sharing this FREE eCourse with your friends as well!

What rewards can you earn?

Links for this week:

101 *Surprising* Homemaking Tips to Make Your Life Easier @ Home for the Win

Our Precious Bodies @ The Clothes Make the Girl

Roasted Caprese Chicken @ The Nourishing home

Ex-Pharma Sales Rep Tells All @ BlogTalkRadio

Simplify—It’s Not Just a Nice Idea @ Q

Grilled BBQ Chicken With Bacon and Pineapple @ Smartter Each Day

The Kind of Surprise We All Want @ chatting at the sky

You do you (a different kind of spring cleaning) @ The Art of Simple

What are some challenges you’ve faced as a homemaker?

The Top Five Occasions When You Should Take A Detox Bath

If you haven't taken a bath in a while, I encourage you to think twice. Here are 5 circumstances when I would definitely consider taking a detox bath...

By Jessica Smartt, Contributing Writer

I used to think baths were for kids. Who takes a bath when they can take a speedy shower, after all?

However, I have recently gotten over my reservations with taking baths. Change that – I have recently become addicted to taking baths. Detox baths, to be specific. Now I make up excuses and squeeze in the time, because I have found it incredibly rewarding.

If you, too, haven’t taken a bath in a while, whatever the reason – I encourage you to think twice. Here are some circumstances when I would definitely consider taking a detox bath:

  • You’re doing a detox cleanse or diet. If you are using a cleanse diet or supplements to rid your body of toxins (been there, done that), then Epsom salt baths are, I would say, essential. This will aid in the detox process and even alleviate some of the unpleasant detox symptoms you might be having.
  • You’re having trouble sleeping. It’s common knowledge that a nice, warm bath is calming and relaxing before bed. But since Epsom salt contains magnesium, which can aid in sleep difficulties, an Epsom salt bath adds an extra layer of relaxation. The skin is, after all your largest organ. Studies have shown that magnesium is effectively absorbed through an Epsom salt bath (source).
  • Miscarriage. This was my first introduction to an Epsom salt bath. Shortly after my first miscarriage, my mom basically forced me to take an Epsom salt bath. It was so healing. (Obviously, consult your doctor or midwife for the go-ahead to begin bathing.)
  • Postpartum. Epsom salts are one of my new favorite gifts for new moms. Again, consult your doctor or midwife for the appropriate time to begin bathing. I was able to bathe about a week after my delivery, and it was wonderful. It immediately took away my labor aches and pains (not to mention it soothed and relaxing my soul!)
  • Sore muscles. Whether due to car accident, hard workouts, or strained muscles, Epsom salts are a perfect recovery tool.

Beware though: I used to think you could just sprinkle a little salt in and voila, have the perfect detox bath. I have since learned that it’s not quite so simple. There are five essential ingredients to every detox bath.

Done right, it truly is amazing how God made something so elemental as salt and water to be so calming and healing.

Do you take detox baths? When is your favorite occasion?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Really Use

real deals 700px post image

This week’s top deals:

tall pinterest size 4 simple steps yellow button

FREE Mini eCourse: 4 Steps to Stress-Free Homemaking

Homemaking can be extremely overwhelming to women just starting out in this role and sometimes even for women who have been trying to keep the home for years! If you’re feeling this way or just want to get some ideas for stress-free homemaking, you’ll want to check out these videos!

This completely free course was created by an experienced mom and homemaker who has definitely been there and regularly teaches women how to get their homes back under control. It’s full of tips and useful advice to get you well on your way to streamlined, stress-free homemaking.

The course includes 4 short videos and accompanying PDF files to help you implement changes to achieve a life of stress-free home keeping – completely free. The only thing you need to do is sign up with your name and email address. If you choose, you can also sign up to earn a free Ultimate Homemaking Bundle by referring it to your friends (1 referral earns you $5 off a bundle, 5 referrals earn you a free magazine subscription to Better Homes and Gardens, and 10 referrals earn you a free bundle!).

gold label virgin coconut oil 5 gallon

40% Off  Tropical Traditions’ Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil 5-Gallon  Sale ends Sunday, April 19, 2015.

Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions is produced by hand, using the traditional wet-milling process of extracting the oil from fresh coconuts and benefiting families in the rural areas of the Philippines where the coconuts grow.

Now, through Sunday, April 19th, you can purchase a 5-gallon pail of certified Organic Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions for 40% OFF the retail price. That’s only $48.00 a gallon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

50% Off Tropical Tradition’s Organic Raw Honey  Sale ends Thursday!

Now, through Thursday, April 16th only, you can purchase a 17 ounce glass jar of this premium honey for 50% off the retail price! That’s a $20.99 retail value for only $10.99!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

30% Off Tropical Traditions’  Organic Coconut Flour.  Sale ends Sunday, April 19, 2015.

Now, through Sunday, April 19th only, you can buy a 2.2 lb. bag of Organic Coconut Flour for 30% OFF. That’s a $15.00 retail value for only $9.99!

abes20% Off  Variety Packs at Abe’s Market  Stock up!  FREE shipping on orders over $29

scottAs Low As $13.00-$14.75 ($0.36-$0.41/roll)   Scott Extra Soft Double Roll Tissue, 9 Count (Pack of 4) is on sale for $16.47.  Save $1 when you clip the coupon below the product description (you must be logged in).  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.  Stock up!

babyganicsAs Low As $4.90-$5.66 ($2.45-$2.83/17 oz bottle) Babyganics Toy & Highchair Cleaner, 17-Fluid Ounce Bottles (Pack of 2), Packaging May Vary is on sale for $7.54.  Save 20% after your coupon is applied to the first delivery of this subscription.  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

HOT DEAL with coupon!

riceAs Low As $15.30-$17.10 ($2.55-$2.85/32 oz bag) Lundberg Organic Short Grain Brown Rice, 32-Ounce (Pack of 6) is on sale for $18.  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

legoJust $7.93!  The LEGO Ideas Book Hardcover.  Hours of creative fun for all LEGO fans!

tomsAs Low As $8.64-$9.66 ($2.88-$3.22/4.2 oz) Tom’s of Maine Fluoride Free Children’s Toothpaste, Silly Strawberry, 4.2 oz, 3 Piece is on sale for $10.17.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

wipesAs Low As $9.34-$10.99 Seventh Generation Thick & Strong Free and Clear Baby Wipes, 384 Count is on sale for $14.99.  Save $4 after your coupon is applied to the first delivery of this subscription.  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

FREE Kindle eBooks:

(Note: Prices can change without notice so please double check the price before purchasing)

pinchPinch Like You Mean It! 101 Ways to Spend Less Money Now

clutterClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff Organize Your Life & Save The World

3131 Deliciously Easy School Breakfasts: Recipes & Ideas for One Month of Making the Bus on Time

grow fruitsGrow Fruits: Inspiring Indoor Gardening Guide at Home with Berry Watering & Feeding Tips for Nectarines, Peaches, Apricots, Strawberries and More

Kindle eBooks for Less Than $1:

(Note: Prices can change without notice so please double check the price before purchasing)

paleo kidsPaleo For Kids: The Sassy Cavewoman’s Dinosaur Bones: 40 Kid-Friendly Recipes with 5 Ingredients or Less

This week’s best coupons:

real-deals-pinterest-april-14

Find a deal you love? Share it! Pin this week’s post, tweet it, or share on Facebook.

Want to get these deals in your inbox each week?

Sign up for our once-a-week “real deals” email. It comes out each Tuesday morning.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

How to Make Greek-Style Yogurt in 5 Easy Steps! {No Straining Required}

If you're wondering how to make Greek-style yogurt, don't worry. It's not only easy, but it’s also a great way to save money and avoid the unhealthy additives found in many commercial brands.

By Kelly Smith, Contributing Writer

Thick.creamy.delicious! Three words that definitely describe Greek Yogurt, which is why so many of us are huge fans of this custard-like probiotic treat.

Yet, each time I attempted to make it, I found myself frustrated by the straining process required to achieve its classic thick texture. My frugal tendencies cringed at how much yogurt was wasted in the straining process, and my neat-nick alarms were blaring over the mess of cleaning out the yogurt-laden strainer.

Of course, I don’t want my issues to rain on anyone’s Greek yogurt making parade, so if you love straining yogurt, then don’t let me stop you. After all, it’s technically the correct way of making classic Greek yogurt.

But as for me and my yogurt-devouring family, there just had to be an easier way to achieve a thick, creamy yogurt without all the extra effort and fuss. Thankfully, my dreams came true as I found out from a few real foodie friends THE SECRET … you can indeed bypass the pain of the strain, thanks to handy dandy plain gelatin.

Here’s What You’ll Need to Get Started!

Making Greek-style yogurt is not only easy, but it’s also a great way to save money and avoid the unhealthy additives found in many commercial brands. And if you’re not a fan of straining either, just follow these simple steps below, and you’ll soon be enjoying your own healthy homemade thick-n-creamy yogurt.

If you're wondering how to make Greek-style yogurt, don't worry. It's not only easy, but it’s also a great way to save money and avoid the unhealthy additives found in many commercial brands. As shown above, yogurt-making requires just a few basics ingredients and a couple of tools to get the job done. One of which is a waterproof thermometer. This is very important since getting the temperature right is key to successful yogurt-making.

Personally, I think it’s much more convenient to have a yogurt maker, but it’s not an absolute must. There are several other methods for incubating yogurt, which are outlined below.

Step One: Heating the Milk

If you're wondering how to make Greek-style yogurt, don't worry. It's not only easy, but it’s also a great way to save money and avoid the unhealthy additives found in many commercial brands.

In general, you’ll want to heat pasteurized whole milk between 160–165 degrees, if using Greek-style yogurt cultures. Or 180–185 degrees, if using traditional yogurt cultures. (Note: If purchasing a powdered yogurt starter, be sure to follow the instructions provided.)

Step Two: Cooling the Milk

If you're wondering how to make Greek-style yogurt, don't worry. It's not only easy, but it’s also a great way to save money and avoid the unhealthy additives found in many commercial brands.

Whether you’re making Greek-style or traditional yogurt, 110 degrees is the magic number! When the milk reaches 110 degrees, that’s the time you’ll add the gelatin and the starter (see details in step three below).

Time-Saving Tip:

A simple method for cooling the milk faster is to create a cold water bath. Simply fill a large stockpot with water until it reaches halfway up the saucepan of hot milk. Then add a little ice. Slowly whisk the milk until it reaches 110 degrees. Then remove the pan of milk from the cold water and move on to step three below. (Note: If using ceramic cookware, it’s important to know that going from one temperature extreme to another may cause it to crack or break. To be safe, transfer the hot milk to a stainless steel saucepan or bowl instead.)

Step Three: Adding the Gelatin and Starter

If you're wondering how to make Greek-style yogurt, don't worry. It's not only easy, but it’s also a great way to save money and avoid the unhealthy additives found in many commercial brands. As previously mentioned, gelatin is the secret ingredient to making a thick, custard-like yogurt without the need for messy straining. I personally like the Great Lakes brand, because it’s pure gelatin made from grass-fed cows. Just add the gelatin to the warm milk and whisk thoroughly for at least one minute. Then, add your starter and whisk again for an additional minute to ensure the mixture is well combined. (Another option is to put the gelatin into a couple of tablespoons of cold milk and allow it to soften while you heat the milk. This is will help prevent clumping when adding it to the warm milk.)

Choosing the Right Starter

The term “starter” refers to the live cultures that turn ordinary milk into that thick-n-tangy probiotic treat we all love. You have several options when it comes to yogurt starters. The simplest is to use a good quality, plain organic store-bought Greek-style yogurt, such as Straus or Wallaby. Just make sure that the Greek yogurt you select as your starter has live and active cultures in it, and does not contain unwanted additives. Another option is to purchase powdered starters, such as those available at Cultures for Health.

Does it really matter which starter you choose?

Yes. The type of cultures in the starter have an impact on the overall flavor of the yogurt, and the cost of your homemade yogurt too. I’ve found it helpful to experiment a bit by trying different types of cultures, until we found one that we really liked and is budget-friendly.

Of course, once you make your first batch of homemade yogurt, depending upon the cultures used, you can set aside a little of your homemade batch to use as starter for your next one. Keep in mind, it’s important to use your reserved starter within 3-4 days for best results. Additionally, after making several batches of yogurt, you may need to start over with a fresh starter (not from your homemade yogurt). 

Step Four: Culturing Your Yogurt (a.k.a. Incubation)

If you're wondering how to make Greek-style yogurt, don't worry. It's not only easy, but it’s also a great way to save money and avoid the unhealthy additives found in many commercial brands.

Another important step in the yogurt-making process is incubating the yogurt mixture. The more stable and consistent the temperature remains, the better the taste, texture and culturing of your yogurt.

I personally prefer to use a simple, no-nonsense yogurt maker, since I’m making yogurt at least 1-2 times per week. It was worth the small investment to be able to just pour my yogurt mixture into the yogurt maker, turn it on, set the timer, and go about my day.

However, there are several other incubation methods that can be utilized. The key to each of these methods is ensuring your yogurt mixture remains at a consistent temperature of 110 degrees until it has set, usually about 7-8 hours for whole milk yogurt.

Step Five: Enjoy!

If you're wondering how to make Greek-style yogurt, don't worry. It's not only easy, but it’s also a great way to save money and avoid the unhealthy additives found in many commercial brands.

Congratulations! If you’ve followed this photo tutorial above, along with the recipe below, you’ve just made an incredibly healthy and delicious real food yogurt for far less than you would pay for good quality store-bought brands. And there are so many ways to enjoy your fresh homemade yogurt.

5 from 1 reviews
Whole Milk Greek-Style Yogurt
 
Author:
Serves: 1 quart (4 cups) of Greek-style yogurt
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Follow the step-by-step photo tutorial above for detailed instructions. The following is a brief outline for easy printing and reference.
  2. Heat the milk over medium to medium-high heat until it reaches 165 degrees, making sure to stir the milk constantly. Do not allow the milk to come to a boil.
  3. Once the milk comes to temp, turn off the burner and place the pan on a cooler area on the stovetop. Allow milk to cool to 110 degrees. (Or you can use a cold water bath method to more quickly cool the milk – see the photo tutorial for details.)
  4. When milk reaches 110 degrees, thoroughly whisk in the gelatin for about one minute. Then add the yogurt starter and continue to whisk until thoroughly combined, about one minute.
  5. Place the yogurt mixture into a yogurt maker, or use another reliable incubation method as outlined in the photo tutorial. Allow yogurt to culture for 8-12 hours, depending on taste preference. The longer you culture, the more tangy the taste. (If making SCD yogurt be sure to culture for 24 hours.) Then give it a good whisking to re-blend, and transfer it to the refrigerator to cool completely.
Notes
Be sure to use pasteurized milk only for this recipe. Yogurt experts do not recommend using ultra-pasteurized milk to make yogurt. UHT milk is actually cooked at high temps making it unsuitable for culturing. In addition, I do not recommend using this recipe to make raw milk yogurt, as it requires a different heating process. See Cultures for Health for details. Also note: It's normal to see small gelatinous clumps of yellow liquid when using gelatin to thicken yogurt. It is the whey that has separated from the milk solids. Simply use a whisk to gently blend it back into the yogurt.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes for enjoying homemade yogurt:

Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits
Fruit on the Bottom (and top) Yogurt Cups
Yogurt Banana Splits
Peach Crisp Yogurt Cups
Homemade Flavored Yogurt

What are your favorite ways to enjoy delicious homemade Greek-style yogurt? 

Weekend Links

150411

Links for this week:

The Most Powerful Thing You Can Say to Another Mom @ Yahoo! Parenting

When Friendships Go Above and Beyond @ (in)courage

Turkey and Ham Cobb Salad @ Good Cheap Eats

What We Consume Determines The Lives We Live @ Becoming Minimalist

When your perspective changes in an instant. @ Modern Mrs. Darcy

8 Healthy Gluten Free Freezer Meals @ The Nourishing Gourmet

I’m here, you’re not alone. @ Sarah Bessey

How to be Known as a Hero-Friend @ A Holy Experience

We’re beginning to see flowers bloom around here! How early do you start to see flowers in your area of the world?

Are These Hidden Toxins Lurking in YOUR Chocolate?

Today, soy lecithin is a de facto ingredient in the majority of chocolate products available worldwide - but is it the panacea it is purported to be?

By Kresha Faber, Contributing Writer

Chocolate has served as a sacred elixir, an aphrodisiac, and a comfort food for multiple civilizations since the time of the Aztecs. With a scientific name like theobroma, which literally means “food of the gods,” there’s little question why.

But through all of those thousands of years of civilization and up until the 1920s, chocolate bars and chocolate products were made exclusively from chocolate – that is, from various products from the cacao plant itself.

However, in the latter part of the 1800’s and the early part of the twentieth century, German scientists uncovered the various uses of a new byproduct of the growing soybean industry, soybean lecithin. One of their experiments included adding soy lecithin to chocolate, and they discovered that by its addition, the final chocolate products wept less, emulsified the cocoa butter and the cocoa powder better, partially replaced the expensive cocoa butter, and seemingly mixed the cocoa powder better through the chocolate mixture.

Today, soy lecithin is a de facto ingredient in the majority of chocolate products available worldwide – but is it the panacea it is purported to be?

Today I’m continuing our on-going Fake Food Spotlight series by taking a closer look at soy lecithin – and the other things we might be eating unsuspectingly when we eat soy lecithin.

We’ve already taken a sometimes-scathing look at more than a dozen food additives, so don’t miss a single one of these posts:

Today, soy lecithin is a de facto ingredient in the majority of chocolate products available worldwide - but is it the panacea it is purported to be?

Soy Lecithin

Read more: Soy Info Center / Fooducate / Chris Kresser / Girl Meets Nourishment / Healthy Home EconomistThe Cornucopia Institute: Soy Hexane Report / The Huffington PostJournal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society / US Environmental Protection Agency / FDA: Withdrawn Guidance on Soy / FDA: Code of Federal Regulations, HexaneUS Pharmacopeial Convention (pdf) / State of California, Department of Health Services (pdf) / Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Toxicological Profile for  n-Hexane (pdf) / Vanderbilt University /

What it is:

Lecithin is a fatty material found in the cell membranes of all living cells. It’s a phospholipid, which means it plays nicely with both oil and water, and it regulates the nutrients entering and exiting the cell.

Lecithin is found in the highest concentrations in egg yolks, soybeans, peanuts, sunflowers, calf liver, the human spinal cord, and the human brain. Lecithin is a building block of life, most certainly.

However, the ingredient soy lecithin is an entirely different product, as the syrups and granules of lecithin that are added to our food are HIGHLY processed and isolated by using harsh, neuro-toxic chemicals. I would go so far as to say that other than retaining its chemical structure as phosphatidylcholine, commercial soy lecithin has no resemblance whatsoever to the lecithin originally found in the soybean.

(Also, don’t forget that more than 90% of the soy in the United States is genetically modified and sprayed heavily with pesticides during its growth.)

But before we go any further, let’s take a look at how soy lecithin is made. Here’s the typical process:

Soybeans arrive at the factory and are washed, dried, and mechanically de-hulled. The beans are then heated to coagulate the soy proteins and make it easier to extract the oil.

The heated beans are cut into flakes, then submerged in a solvent, usually hexane, which is a byproduct of gasoline refining. This causes the oil to separate from the flakes and the hexane is removed (still carrying the oil). The flakes at this point contain less than 1% soy oil and are ground up for livestock feed or to be used as soy protein in protein shake powders, fillers in convenience foods, etc.

The solvent is evaporated from the oil and what’s left is a (supposedly) hexane-free crude oil that still contains many oil-insoluble and oil-soluble impurities that need to be removed.

This crude soybean oil is what is then shipped off to make soy lecithin.

When the crude oil arrives at the factory, first the insoluble materials are removed using filtration. The soluble materials (this includes the lecithin) then need to be removed using a more complicated process.

First, a small amount of hot water is added to the oil and the whole vat is agitated until it becomes a thick, gummy sludge.

The sludge is placed in a centrifuge and spun, which separates the oil from the remaining water/lecithin mixture. That mixture is then washed with an alkali solution and bleached either once or twice, usually with hydrogen peroxide.

Once the bleaching is finished, the mixture is dried to remove the remaining water, which creates a fluid soy lecithin, or washed with acetone to remove any additional oils or fatty acids and create a dry, granular soy lecithin.

Fluid soy lecithin is made available to commercial food producers, and granulated – or “refined soy lecithin” – is available both for the food industry and for the home cook at your local grocery store.

(Side note: Mountain Rose Herbs just began carrying a fluid organic soy lecithin for use in both foods and cosmetics that supposedly doesn’t use any solvents in its extraction. Hmmmm…. intriguing. Check it out if you’re interested.)

And speaking of organic soy lecithin, organic soy lecithin DOES satisfy many of these concerns, so IS a better option, but I’ll address that more specifically in a moment.

Today, soy lecithin is a de facto ingredient in the majority of chocolate products available worldwide - but is it the panacea it is purported to be?

How it affects us:

Here’s where things get a leeeeeetle bit interesting.

As you can tell, I’m not a fan of soy lecithin – or even soy in general. Soy mimics estrogen in our bodies and messes with our hormones, soy is very often genetically modified (which concurrently means there’s a heavy pesticide residue on the plants when they arrive for processing), and soy lecithin is heavily processed.

HOWEVER, the amounts of soy lecithin that we’re talking about are incredibly small. Typically the amount of soy lecithin in a packaged food accounts for less than 1% of the ingredients by weight, if that. Also, since it’s derived from soy oil – not soy protein – theoretically it has no phytoestrogens nor proteins, so (again, theoretically) it doesn’t present an allergy risk like soy often does.

Also, we should keep this in perspective. Compared to the toxin load to which we are exposed each day, soy lecithin comprises an incredibly small percentage of the stressors to which our bodies are exposed. The air we breathe, the soil in which our food is grown, the chemicals and fragrances on fabrics everywhere we go, the chemicals in cleaning supplies we either use ourselves or that are used by janitorial teams in public buildings – EVERYTHING around us together contributes to the overload of toxins on our systems.

So why should we care?

In short, three reasons:

1. Soy protein still exists.

If you are allergic to soy (not just sensitive to it), it is very likely that a small amount of soy protein still exists in the soy lecithin, in which case, you will likely react. Some manufacturers even assume a small amount of soy protein remains in their soy lecithin. Avoid all soy lecithins if you have a soy allergy – organic, conventional, or otherwise.

2. Genetically-modified soy

Conventional soy is typically genetically-modified – currently, more than 90% of the soy grown in the US is GMO – and the soy lecithin derived from it is therefore also twisted (literally).

Today, soy lecithin is a de facto ingredient in the majority of chocolate products available worldwide - but is it the panacea it is purported to be?

3. Possible hexane residue

n-HEXANE is what I consider the hidden toxin that should worry us most, not the soy lecithin itself. The FDA currently provides no upper limit of hexane residue allowed in food products (except for beer and spices, interestingly enough), despite one since-withdrawn guidance stating that “At least one major U.S. producer has stated that its manufacturing standard for lecithin derived from soy is set at… 50 mg of hexane per 100g lecithin.”

Also, according to one study published in the Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, the typical hexane residue left in crude soy oil is 500-1000 ppm, and since soy lecithin is derived directly from that crude soy oil, we can safely assume the hexane residue in soy lecithin is similar, which The Cornucopia Institute and others have confirmed.

But even if it’s not in a similar concentration, we can certainly safely assume that soy lecithin is not hexane-free. (Just like foods with trans-fats can legally be listed as trans-fat free in certain conditions…)

So what is hexane?

Hexane is a by-product of gasoline refining and is classified as an air pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and as a neurotoxin by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The US Pharmacopeial Convention labels it as a Class 2 Solvent, the class for solvents that cause long-term (rather than immediate) toxicity and are recommended only for limited use.

Chronic exposure to hexane by inhalation in factory workers has been linked to a number of neurological conditions, including numbness of extremities and the inability to stand, but the research is divided on whether consuming trace residues over a long period of time is likewise a health hazard.

But what troubles me most about hexane is that as a neurotoxin, long-term exposure affects the nervous system. A properly functioning nervous system is what allows us to grasp pencils, walk upright, hold a straight gaze, and cuddle our loved ones without shaking. Since SO many plant-based oils – and their derivative products, such as soy lecithin – are extracted using hexane, it is possible that hexane residue is widely present at very low levels.

When hexane enters the body, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and within a day or two is metabolized by the liver. It’s then excreted in the urine and is not normally stored in the body. However, if exposure to hexane is prolonged or high, it can remain in the body and cause nerve damage.

Herein lies the crux:

Soy lecithin, while certainly not a desirable ingredient and for all intents and purposes a fake food, only causes damage that ultimately CAN be healed once the offenders (soy lecithin and other soy products) are no longer causing new damage. For example, hormones that are out of whack due to excessive soy can be rebalanced over a period of time once soy is no longer part of the diet.

However, hexane has the possibility to cause irreversible or very slow-to-reverse nerve damage if exposed over long periods of time, so even though the amount is very small in most foods, it’s not one I’d like to expose my children to very often.

Basically, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

And really, why are we even discussing whether or not a gasoline by-product belongs in our food supply? Yikes.

And we haven’t even addressed hexane’s environmental impact!

Today, soy lecithin is a de facto ingredient in the majority of chocolate products available worldwide - but is it the panacea it is purported to be?

The Organic Difference

This is one of those times when certified organic really does make a difference. If the ingredient listed is organic soy lecithin, it is required to be GMO-free, it may not be extracted using hexane (it’s typically processed using a water extraction method), and any pesticides and insecticides used must be approved for organic certification.

Therefore, the only issues with organic soy lecithin are the possible traces of soy protein for those who are allergic to soy and the possible phytoestrogenic effects of the soy lecithin.

Where you’ll find it:

Soy lecithin is used as an emulsifier to keep water and fat from separating in products such as margarine, peanut butter, ice cream, salad dressings, and liquid infant formulas.

It’s also a stabilizer, which is why it’s used in chocolate. Here it blends not fats and water, but fats and solids, stabilizing them in variable temperatures and extending shelf life. This is especially helpful when a manufacturer wants their chocolate bars to look and act the same in Seattle, Washington as they do in Denver, Colorado, and Miami, Florida.

It’s also a surfactant, which reduces the surface tension of liquids, which is why soy lecithin is added to dry powdered goods, such as coffee creamers, infant formulas, and cake mixes, as it reduces clumping in the package and breaks up lumps as liquids are added.

How to avoid it:

  • Look on all packaged goods to see it in the ingredient list. Thankfully, it doesn’t have any other names other than soy lecithin or soya lecithin – it’s easily recognizable.
  • Some high end gourmet restaurants use it in their molecular cooking as well, such as making a herb foam to pipe on an entrée, so if you frequent those locales, you may want to ask your waiter if soy lecithin is used.
  • Make your own chocolate! These DIY homemade chocolate bars can be made in mere minutes.
  • If you’re okay with organic soy lecithin, read labels to make sure the lecithin is listed as organic.

Do you think soy lecithin is a food we should avoid? What about hexane? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

Quick & Easy Spring Cleaning Chores

Whether you have a lot of time or a little time to clean, use this handy checklist of spring cleaning chores to tackle your home.

By Hilary Bernstein, Contributing Writer

Each spring I get the itch to start deep cleaning my home. It doesn’t matter if I’m living in a tiny apartment or a house – once the weather starts to warm and the days are sunny, I feel compelled to get rid of the dust and cobwebs in my home.

Some years I have all sorts of time and energy to dig in and clean. But most years, I don’t. I’m tired or busy or I just don’t feel like spending days on end scrubbing out my home. So I make do.

Over the past couple springs, I’ve discovered that I can deep clean my entire home in about a month simply by doing a little chore each day. Some days it doesn’t seem like I’m actually doing much work, but like my approach to healthy living, every little change can make a big difference.

This year’s no different. My spring schedule is silly busy with end-of-the-school year commitments, but I still want a clean house before summer vacation hits. So I’m working little by little, bit by bit, room by room. My house is getting cleaner every day. (This week, I’m working on deep cleaning my kids’ rooms … and all I can say is WOW. What a project.)

I’ve broken up my cleaning chores into room-by-room tasks. Whether you have a lot of time or a little time to clean, use my checklist to tackle your home.

If you love devoting a week or so to spring cleaning, go for it! But if you only have time for just one or two chores a day, you’ll get each room done within a week – if you keep going, your entire home will be deep cleaned by Memorial Day. Happy cleaning!

Whether you have a lot of time or a little time to clean, use this handy checklist of spring cleaning chores to tackle your home.

Outside Entry Way

  • Sweep off your front step.
  • Shake out your welcome mats and launder, if possible.
  • Clean your door from top to bottom. (Wipe out the cobwebs from the corners!)

Inside Entry Way

  • Dust from the ceiling to the floor, including wall hangings.
  • Wash windows and screens.
  • Clean window treatments (dusting and/or washing).
  • Wipe down walls.
  • Clean floors and baseboards.
  • Dust and polish furniture and knick knacks.
  • Dust lampshades, lamps and light fixtures.
  • Empty the coat closet. Wipe down walls.
  • Sort all coats, hats, scarves, mittens, umbrellas. Keep what you like and use, donate or sell what you don’t.
  • Disinfect doorknobs and switch plates.

Whether you have a lot of time or a little time to clean, use this handy checklist of spring cleaning chores to tackle your home.

Living Room and/or Family Room

  • Dust from the ceiling to the floor, including wall hangings.
  • Wash windows and screens.
  • Clean window treatments (dusting and/or washing).
  • Wipe down walls.
  • Dust and polish furniture and knick knacks.
  • Dust electronics.
  • Vacuum couches and chairs.
  • Dust lampshades, lamps and light fixtures.
  • Wash throws and blankets. If possible, wash pillows.
  • Sort all knick knacks, books, magazines, and electronic media. Keep what you like and use, donate or sell what you don’t.
  • Disinfect doorknobs and switch plates.
  • Clean floors and baseboards.

Whether you have a lot of time or a little time to clean, use this handy checklist of spring cleaning chores to tackle your home.

Dining Room

  • Dust from the ceiling to the floor, including wall hangings.
  • Wash windows and screens.
  • Clean window treatments (dusting and/or washing).
  • Wipe down walls.
  • Dust and polish furniture and knick knacks.
  • Dust lampshades, lamps and light fixtures.
  • Sort all dinnerware, table linens, and knick knacks. Keep what you like and use, donate or sell what you don’t.
  • Disinfect doorknobs and switch plates.
  • Clean floors and baseboards.

Whether you have a lot of time or a little time to clean, use this handy checklist of spring cleaning chores to tackle your home.

Kitchen

  • Dust from the ceiling to the floor, including wall hangings.
  • Wash windows and screens.
  • Clean window treatments (dusting and/or washing).
  • Wipe down walls.
  • Dust and polish furniture and knick knacks.
  • Dust lampshades, lamps and light fixtures.
  • Empty your cupboards and drawers. Wipe clean. Sort all kitchenware. Keep what you like and use, donate or sell what you don’t. Restock cupboards and drawers.
  • Empty your pantry and food cupboards. Wipe clean. Sort food and restock shelves. Throw away expired food and emptied (or almost emptied) containers.
  • Empty your refrigerator and freezer. Wipe clean. Sort food and restock shelves. Throw away expired food and emptied (or almost emptied) containers.
  • Clear your counters. Wipe clean. Sort what you keep on your counter tops. Do you use it often, or can you store it somewhere else? Keep what you like and use, donate or sell what you don’t.
  • Thoroughly wash your kitchen sink. Clean the cabinet under your sink.
  • Clean your stove top, oven, and, if applicable, microwave or toaster oven.
  • Disinfect doorknobs and switch plates.
  • Clean floors and baseboards.

Whether you have a lot of time or a little time to clean, use this handy checklist of spring cleaning chores to tackle your home.

Bathroom

  • Dust from the ceiling to the floor, including wall hangings.
  • Wash windows, mirrors and screens.
  • Clean window treatments (dusting and/or washing).
  • Wipe down walls.
  • Dust and polish knick knacks and light fixtures.
  • Sort all toiletries and medications. Keep what you like and use. Throw away expired items and anything you don’t use.
  • Sort and clean out any cabinets.
  • Thoroughly clean the bathroom sink.
  • Thoroughly clean the bathtub and/or shower.
  • Wash the shower curtain and bath mat.
  • Thoroughly clean the toilet. Dust behind the toilet.
  • Disinfect doorknobs and switch plates.
  • Clean floors and baseboards.

Whether you have a lot of time or a little time to clean, use this handy checklist of spring cleaning chores to tackle your home.

Bedrooms

  • Dust from the ceiling to the floor, including wall hangings.
  • Wash windows and screens.
  • Clean window treatments (dusting and/or washing).
  • Wipe down walls.
  • Dust and polish furniture and knick knacks.
  • Dust lampshades, lamps and light fixtures.
  • Strip bed of all linens.
  • Flip the mattress. Vacuum the mattress.
  • Wash and dry all linens, including the mattress pad, dust ruffle, pillows, blankets, quilts, duvets, comforters, and sheets.
  • Empty closets and drawers – one area at a time. Sort all the room’s belongings, including clothing, jewelry, knick knacks and/or books. Keep what you like and use; donate, sell or trade what you don’t. Wipe down shelves and restock.
  • Disinfect doorknobs and switch plates.
  • Clean floors and baseboards.

Whether you have a lot of time or a little time to clean, use this handy checklist of spring cleaning chores to tackle your home.

Office

  • Dust from the ceiling to the floor, including wall hangings.
  • Wash windows and screens.
  • Clean window treatments (dusting and/or washing).
  • Wipe down walls.
  • Dust and polish furniture and knick knacks.
  • Dust electronics.
  • Vacuum couches and chairs.
  • Dust lampshades, lamps and light fixtures.
  • Empty and wipe down your desktop (the actual top of your desk, not your computer) and any desk drawers.
  • Sort all knick knacks, paperwork, and electronic media. Keep what you like and use, donate or sell what you don’t.
  • Disinfect doorknobs and switch plates.
  • Clean floors and baseboards.

Play Room and/or Bonus Room

  • Dust from the ceiling to the floor, including wall hangings.
  • Wash windows and screens.
  • Clean window treatments (dusting and/or washing).
  • Wipe down walls.
  • Dust and polish or wash furniture.
  • Vacuum couches and chairs.
  • Dust lampshades, lamps and light fixtures.
  • Empty shelves and storage containers – one area at a time. Sort all the room’s belongings. Wash and keep what you like and use, donate or sell what you don’t. Wipe down shelves and restock.
  • Disinfect doorknobs and switch plates.
  • Clean floors and baseboards.

Laundry Room

  • Dust from the ceiling to the floor, including wall hangings.
  • Wash windows and screens.
  • Clean window treatments (dusting and/or washing).
  • Wipe down walls.
  • Wipe out the inside and outside of the washer and dryer.
  • Clean off the lint trap and wash it.
  • Clean out the dryer vent.
  • Sort all laundry detergents. Keep what you like and use, dispose of what you don’t.
  • Disinfect doorknobs and switch plates.
  • Clean floors and baseboards.

What are some of your favorite spring cleaning chores? Least favorite?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Really Use

real deals 700px post image

This week’s top deals:

The Bootstrap VA Bundle! {Keeper of the Home}

Are you curious about becoming a virtual assistant (VA) but aren’t sure where to start? Are you already a virtual assistant, but want to find some ways to expand and improve your business? Are you a blogger looking for additional ideas to monetize your site? Then you need to check out The Bootstrap VA Final Edition Bundle Sale!

This amazing bundle contains excellent resources, including ebooks, courses, marketing packs, and more geared toward getting you started as a successful virtual assistant. If you’ve wondered how to break into the virtual assistant or work-at-home world but aren’t sure about the ins and outs, what it involves, or are feeling overwhelmed with getting yourself set up, this bundle is a great place to get your feet wet and learn more!

From Tuesday, April 7, 2015 – Thursday, April 9, 2015, you can purchase an awesome bundle of virtual assistant and work-at-home resources for only $29.95. The bundle includes all three versions (PDF, Kindle, and Nook) of The Bootstrap VA, plus $218.95 of additional resources to help you start and grow your virtual assistant and work-at-home business. You’ll also get another $173 of discounted resources that you’ll only pay $33 for (if you choose to purchase them separately).

If starting or building your virtual assistant and work-at-home business is on your to-do list for this year, don’t miss out on this special sale. You’ll definitely be kicking yourself if you do!

Click here to learn more about The Bootstrap VA Final Edition Bundle Sale and to grab your bundle.

abe

20% Off Cleaners at Abe’s Market.  FREE shipping on orders over $49 $29.

bodysuit

zulily

Great deals on Organic Clothing and More at Zulily.  Just type in “organic” in their search bar.  This adorable Max & Ella Navy & Yellow Stripe Organic Bodysuit is regular $25.00, on sale for $7.99  The super cute blue chambray organic belted shirt dress for toddlers and girls is regular $49.00, on sale for $29.99.  Limited time offer.

bjornRegular $220 On sale for $159.99  BabyBjörn Black and Brown Organic Balance Bouncer at Zulily  To find this product, just type the name of the item into the Zulily search bar.  Limited time offer.

Bobs oatsAs Low As $12.21-$13.64 ($3.05- $3.41/24 oz bag) Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Whole Grain, Steel Cut Oats, 24-Ounce Bags (Pack of 4) are on sale for $14.36.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

bobs steelAs Low As $8.40-$9.39 ($2.10-$2.35/22 oz bag) Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats, 22-Ounce (Pack of 4) are on sale for $9.88.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

bobs rolledAs Low As $8.91-$9.96 ($2.23-$2.49/32 oz bag) Bob’s Red Mill Oats Rolled Regular, 32-Ounce (Pack of 4) is on sale for $10.48.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save. Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

yogiJust $2.88 ($0.18/tea bag) Yogi Honey Lavender Stress Relief Tea, 16 Tea Bags.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

coconutAs Low As $9.15-$10.22 ($2.29-$2.56/12 oz bag) Bob’s Red Mill Shredded Coconut Unsweetened, 12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 4) is on sale for $10.76.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

book

Lowest price to-date! Guess How Much I Love You Board book is on sale for just $3.63.

(Hat tip to Jungle Deals for help in finding these Amazon deals!)

BHS

50% Off all natural Eden Salve at Bulk Herb Store. 50+ different uses.  Check out customer comments for this all-purpose salve.  Use coupon code: SPRING15 at checkout. While supplies last.  This deal expires on April 12th, 2015.

BHS april

While at Bulk Herb Store, take advantage of the April savings listed above!coco cream

Buy 1 Get 1 FREE Coconut Cream Concentrate 32 oz. at Tropical Traditions.  Sale ends Thursday, April 9, 2015.  

Coconut Cream Concentrate is certified organic whole coconut meat in concentrated form. It contains no additives (not even water). The dried coconut meat is ground into a very fine powder, giving it a creamy consistency due to its high fat content. Since it is 70% fat, it is a rich source of pure virgin coconut oil. Note: this is a food, not a cooking oil.

It is an excellent ingredient for cooking and baking. Because of its low moisture content, it can be mixed right in the batter or dough of breads and pastries. It can also enhance soups, be blended with smoothies, or made into ice cream. Many people just eat it straight, or spread it on breads and crackers, because it is so delicious!

FREE Kindle eBooks:

(Note: Prices can change without notice so please double check the price before purchasing)

quirkQuirk Books D.I.Y. Gift Guide

hack itHack it!: The Busy Mom’s Playbook to Minimalism and Productivity

Kindle eBooks for Less Than $1:

(Note: Prices can change without notice so please double check the price before purchasing)

goal

Goal Setting Simplified: A Complete Blueprint to Achieve your Goals for Lifedeclutter

How to Declutter Your Home for Simple Living: Decluttering Tips and Closet Organization Ideas for Creating Your Own Personal Oasis 
 proteinDIY Protein Bars At Home: The Ultimate Guide To Easy, Homemade, And No Bake Energy Bars

(Hat tip to Money Saving Mom for help in finding these ebooks!)

This week’s best coupons:

real-deals-pinterest-april-7

Find a deal you love? Share it! Pin this week’s post, tweet it, or share on Facebook.

Want to get these deals in your inbox each week?

Sign up for our once-a-week “real deals” email. It comes out each Tuesday morning.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

Cauliflower Pickles: Refrigerator Pickles Recipe

One of our family's favorite way to eat cauliflower is pickled. Pickling is such a great way to preserve your garden's bounty. The best part of this recipe is that it doesn't require canning skills.By Andrea Green, Contributing Writer

Will you be planting cauliflower in your garden this year?

One of our family’s favorite way to eat cauliflower is pickled. Pickling is such a great way to preserve your garden’s bounty.

Cauliflower pickles taste great alongside a burger. They also are an excellent picnic food. Ditch bringing chips. These cauliflower pickles give you plenty of salty crunch with less fat, less calories, and less processed yuckiness.

The best part of this recipe is it doesn’t require any canning skills. You’ll simply pour the pickling juice over the cauliflower, allow to cool, then refrigerate. These will stay fresh in the fridge for about 3 months! (As if they will last that long!)

One of our family's favorite way to eat cauliflower is pickled. Pickling is such a great way to preserve your garden's bounty. The best part of this recipe is that it doesn't require canning skills.

5 from 1 reviews
Cauliflower Pickles: Refrigerator Pickles Recipe
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt
  • fresh dill
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seed
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into large pieces
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add the peeled cloves of garlic. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow garlic to cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add vinegar and salt to water and garlic. Cook just until salt dissolves.
  3. Stuff two wide mouth pint jars with the chopped cauliflower.
  4. To each jar, add sprigs of dill, ¼ teaspoon per jar of celery seeds, coriander seeds, and mustard seeds. Place 2 cloves of garlic in each jar.
  5. Pour the brine evenly into each jar, filling until almost to the top.
  6. Allow to cool before refrigerating.

Making cauliflower pickles really is that easy!

The beauty of this recipe is you can use the brine to pickle just about anything – carrots, cucumbers, or even green beans! Whatever you have an abundance of from the garden, you can pickle it!

What is your favorite vegetable to pickle?

PlanToEat-150x150This post is sponsored by Plan To Eat. If you know you need to make strides towards regular meal planning and you’re looking for a tool to make it easier, I highly recommend you check out Plan To Eat’s virtual tour. Sign up for a free 30-day trial to see how it works! Plan To Eat was born from a desire to eat real food — great food — prepared at home, together as a family. Plan to Eat is an online menu planner that uses your recipes, scheduled for the days you want them, automatically generating your grocery list, organized the way you like to shop. Eat well. Eat together.