The Benefits of Cooking and Baking with Stoneware

Have you heard of cooking and baking with stoneware? Not sure where to begin with using stoneware? or what the benefits are? Start here!

This post was originally published in 2010, but with more and more people looking for safer alternatives to their non-stick cookware, this is a great topic to revisit!

With all that I’ve been learning over the past few years about toxic materials in my various pots, pans and muffin tins, it has been so refreshing to find a safe alternative that I love using! I’ve discovered that high-quality stoneware easily meets all of my qualifications, being 100% safe, durable and effective.

I have slowly been building up a collection of stoneware, for both baking and cooking, and I could not be happier with it. Just today I told my husband that another piece under the Christmas tree would be a happy thing for me. Forget the jewelry, expensive clothes or fancy decor… I’m that rare wife who actually wants to receive a blender or a vacuum or a cookie sheet. Call me crazy.

Why I Choose Stoneware

Stoneware just makes sense for me for a number of reasons.

1. People have been using it for literally thousands of years.

It is not a new invention, which isn’t to say that all new inventions are bad, only that I like it when something has truly stood the test of time.

2. It produces quality baking results.

Stoneware heats very evenly which enables even a mediocre baker like me to attain excellent results (and anything that can do that for me gets my 2 thumbs up approval and a hearty thank you from my husband).

3. It is toxin-free.

So long as you double-check that the stoneware you are buying is made with lead-free clay (I’ll give you some shopping resources below), stoneware can be safely used without worrying about what is leaching at high temperatures or what little flecks of chemical coating are making their way onto your cupcakes.

4. It is heavy-duty, will last me forever, and is easier to use than you think.

When purchased from a reputable manufacturer, stoneware will come with a warranty (3 years is a common guarantee). If cared for well, it could possibly last until the tables turn and your children (or grandchildren!) begin to cook for you!

Seasoning Your Stoneware

Stoneware is similar in use to a cast iron pan. The goal is to “season” it using some type of fat or oil, so that it will develop a non-stick coating.

When you first receive your pan, give it a light but thorough coating with your fat or oil of choice. Personally, I choose to use fats that are saturated, as they remain stable even at high temperatures. I usually use coconut oil or beef tallow (lard would be fine as well). You can simply use your hands or a cloth to rub the oil thoroughly over the pan.

Another way to help season it is to use plenty of oil the first few times you use it. A great (and delicious) way to do this would be to make something like homemade baked french fries or oven roasted beets, if this suits the particular piece of stoneware. For something like a muffin tin, you could try make a slightly greasier muffin like these bacon, egg and cheese muffins. You could also oil the muffin tin well and then use unbleached muffin papers in the beginning, to allow the seasoning to set in but without ending up scraping muffin off the sides for those first uses.

Once you have done this several times and baked the stoneware with the oil on it, it will begin to be seasoned and you will find that foods stick less and less to it the more that you use it.

The combination of heat with the application of oils is what truly gets the seasoning into the stone. It sets it in and helps to create that layer of non-stick coating. So do make sure that the stoneware is baked at a high temperature with a good coat of oil on it, the first several times that you use it. It will also begin to darken and look a bit grungy as you do this, but remember that this is a sign that it is becoming seasoned and well loved. I liked this quote I found:

A good motto to remember is “The worse it looks, the better it cooks!”

Cleaning Your Stoneware

I will admit to you… sometimes I don’t actually clean mine. If I have only been baking cookies or making something like granola that comes off easily, I don’t wash my stone in water. I simply wipe it off with a dry cloth to remove any crumbs or bits of food, and then I put it away just like that.

If I have been making something like squash fries (which tend to stick more because they don’t crisp up the same way potato or sweet potato fries do), or a cake or sweet bread that sticks just a bit, then I use my rubber scraper to clean off all the food bits, then I use a bit of hot water and give it a quick rub, then dry it off.

The most important thing to remember is this: Soap is a no-no.

Never use soap on your stoneware and this is why:

1. It will strip away that oiled, seasoned finish that you have worked so hard to establish and it will no longer be non-stick at all.

2. The soap will actually be absorbed into the stone and it will affect the taste of your food.

If something really does end up sticking badly, the best thing I’ve found to do is to allow it to soak in plain hot water (no soap!) for about 10-20 minutes, and then use a scraper to work the food off as best you can. I have heard of people using baking soda to create a paste and use that to scrub their stoneware. I suppose that you could do this and it might not strip it as much as soap would, but I would be hesitant to go that route unless absolutely necessary.

The tool that every stoneware user should have:

These Nylon Pan Scrapers. They have four different shaped corners, each of which is ideal for getting into different grooves or angles in your stoneware dishes. I love my scrapers.

How and Where to Buy Stoneware

I will be the first to admit that stone bakeware and cookware is a bit pricier, but so worth the extra cost. Amazon carries some stoneware, their prices are decent, and you can often get shipping for free.

Pampered Chef sells their entire stoneware line in their online shop, or you can purchase it from Pampered Chef parties hosted in people’s homes.

Ebay is another place to source out stoneware. The prices are occasionally low, but usually not much different than you would find new elsewhere.

The Traditional Cook site also has a great selection of stoneware. It is run by a Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader, who wanted to use traditional cookware herself and now makes it available to others. She doesn’t carry every type of dish you might want, but what she does carry is guaranteed lead-free and also has a 3 year warranty.

You can sometimes find stoneware at garage sales and thrift stores, but be aware that you have no idea how it was previously cared for. You can definitely score some great pieces and then lovingly work to season them, and hopefully they will work out well for you. Unfortunately, you might also find items that just haven’t been cared for and could end up never developing a good non-stick seasoned coating, have soapy residues, or end up breaking or cracking due to misuse.

When you are looking, be sure to see whether the products are certified to be free of lead, cadmium and other toxins. They should be kiln fired at temperatures above 2000 or 21000 F.

Any other stoneware users out there? How do you care for your stoneware?

Top image by Jeff Nelson
Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.

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

real deals 700px post image

This week’s top deals:

cinnamon

Just $2.99  Simply Organic Cinnamon Ground Certified Organic, 2.45-Ounce Container.  FREE shipping with a qualifying order.

stroller bag

List Price $39.99 On Sale $22.97   Stroller Organizer Bag  Highest Quality  Fits Britax, City Mini, Bob, Uppababy, Umbrella and most others – New & Improved With Two Larger Insulated Drink Holders – Keeps Phone, Keys, Drinks and Other Personal Items Within Arms Reach – Lifetime Money-Back Guarantee.  Made of eco-friendly machine washable fabric. BPA-free and Phthalate-free.  Get FREE Shipping on qualifying order. 

bear

As Low As $14.13 ($2.35/pouch) Bear Naked Granola Pouches, Vanilla Almond Fit, 12 Ounce Pouches (Pack of 6) is on sale for $18.84.  Save 25% when you clip the coupon below the product description (you must be logged in) Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.
HOT DEAL!

stevia

Just $9.99/10g All Natural Stevia Powder 10 g – No fillers, Additives or Artificial Ingredients of Any Kind – Highly Concentrated Stevia Extract Sugar Substitute.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.
Or choose 30g for $14.99

pillow

List Price $69.00 On Sale $39.99  Calla Toddler Pillow – World’s Best Washable Pillows Covered in Soft Organic Cotton – 3 Year Guarantee, Hand Crafted in USA (ages 2+) For Better Naps, Travel and Rest at Grandma’s House.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order

bibs

List Price $14.99 On Sale $9.99  aden by aden + anais Little Bib Life’s A Hoot, 3-Pack.  FREE shipping on qualifying orders.

coconut

As Low As $8.82-$9.86 Meldeens Raw Organic Extra Virgin Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil, 14-Ounce Jar is on sale for $10.38.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save. Get FREE shipping with qualifying order

gogo

As Low As $20.20-$22.58 ($0.42-$0.47/pouch) GoGo SqueeZ applecinnamon, Applesauce on the Go, 3.2-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 48) is on sale for $23.77.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

kind

As Low As $9.95-$11.38 ($0.83-$0.95/bar) KIND Nuts & Spices Chocolate Bar, Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond, 1.4 Ounce, 12 Count is on sale for $14.22.  Save 15% after the coupons is applied to your first order of this subscription.  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

tiggerList Price $24.99 On Sale $19.22  Disney Tigger Certified Organic Plush.  FREE shipping on qualifying order.

FREE Kindle eBooks:

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

paleo
40 Top Paleo Recipes – Quick and Easy Paleo Diet Recipes For Weight Loss & Optimum Health

Kindle eBooks for Less Than $1:

ed toys

Educational Toys Guide: How To Raise A Smart Child By Choosing The Right Educational Toys

minimalist

Minimalist Habit Stacking: How To Live With Less, Downsize, And Get More Fulfillment From Life

internet

The Internet Security Guide:How To Keep Your Children Safe And What To Do If They Are Participating In Dangerous Behaviours 

canning

Canning and Preserving: A Simple Food In A Jar Home Preserving Guide for All Seasons : Bonus: Food Storage Tips for Meat, Dairy and Eggs

This week’s best coupons:

real-deals-pinterest-april-28

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!

Floral Body Scrub (plus gift ideas & DIY links for Mother’s Day!)

Homemade body scrubs are easy to make: mix sugar and oil and you're good to go! But, if you add a few extras, you can take this floral body scrub to the next level.

By Stacy Karen, Contributing Writer

After the depths of winter have passed, skin is often dull and dry. Heated indoor air and lack of moisture are two of the main culprits in creating such thirsty skin.

Thankfully it’s quick and easy to get skin soft, smooth, and vibrant again. A gentle exfoliation via a simple body scrub will usually do the trick. Scrubs made with sugar are quite effective in removing dead skin cells, and revealing fresh, glowing skin beneath.

You are likely aware of how simple a homemade body scrub is to make. Just mix sugar and oil and you’re good to go! But, today we are going to add a few extras to take our floral body scrub to the next level.

Coconut oil is added for extra moisture and actually makes the scrub have a creamy consistency.  Dried rose petals lend a luxurious feel. It’s a real treat for the skin!

Floral Body Scrub

The high amount of coconut oil in this scrub leaves a nourishing layer of moisture on the skin. The rose petals and ground lavender add color, extra exfoliation, and a delightful scent.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons dried rose petals

1 teaspoon ground lavender

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup almond oil

Yield: approximately 1 cup

Homemade body scrubs are easy to make: mix sugar and oil and you're good to go! But, if you add a few extras, you can take this floral body scrub to the next level.

Method

Crush rose petals in a mortar and pestle or food processor. If using a food processor, be careful not to let the roses form a powder.

Place crushed rose petals and sugar in a bowl then add the ground lavender. Add melted coconut oil and almond oil. Stir to combine.

Package in a pretty jar and label.

Note: If the rose petals are too large, they could cause the drain to clog when using in the shower. To avoid this, make sure the petals are broken into small pieces, or reserve the scrub for use on the hands where the scrub can be washed off over a kitchen sink with a garbage disposal.

Variation: For a stronger floral fragrance, add 5 drops rose geranium essential oil.

Homemade body scrubs are easy to make: mix sugar and oil and you're good to go! But, if you add a few extras, you can take this floral body scrub to the next level.

This recipe was adapted from one found in my newly update and revised eBook, Simple Scrubs to Make and Give

Have you thought about what you’re doing for Mother’s Day yet (coming up on May 10th!)? This Floral Body Scrub would make a lovely gift!

Here are some other homemade gift ideas for Mother’s Day:

 

If you make your own body scrubs, what are your favorite add-ins?

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!

Weekend Links

Keeper of the Home

Links for this week:

When You’re Ready to Make Your Space about Grace instead of Perfectionism @ A Holy Experience

The Time When We’ll Be Present & Content @ zen habits

Sugaring Off and Bacon-Wrapped, Maple-Glazed Roasted Carrots @ Simple Bites

Your Predisposition is Not Your Future @ Becoming Minimalist

The Truth Is I Am Tired @ (in)courage

Fermented Tex-Mex Salsa @ GNOWFGLINS

Why My Boys Wore Spiderman Costumes to Church Today @ Micah J. Murray

The One Question That Can Also Be an Answer @ Hands Free Mama

What’s your favorite homemaking tip?

The 5 Best Natural Remedies for Beginners

I know, getting started with natural remedies can feel daunting, right? I've been using them for our family for years, but it took me a long time to feel confident. Today I share 5 remedies that I think are perfect for a beginners to try using, each one with several uses.

Are you eager to start making the switch over to natural remedies, but unsure of where to start?

I know that when you’re first getting started with the world of herbs, essential oils, alternative medicines and so on, it can feel daunting. Walking into a health food or vitamin store is an exercise in overwhelm. And googling what you’re trying to find out can be even worse!

Growing up, we took Tylenol for headaches, Nyquil for colds, Neosporin for cuts, and Pepto Bismal for stomach-related issues (that’s a nice way of saying it, isn’t it?). Our medicine cabinet had it all.

The unfortunate truth is that while these “remedies” may mask symptoms enough to make us feel temporarily better, they don’t actually contribute to bringing our body back to a place of healing and wholeness. In fact, over the long term, small doses of common pharmaceuticals can actually harm our body (for example, Tylenol can cause liver damage).

I think the best course of action when you’re just starting to make the transition from pharmaceuticals to natural remedies is to pick a few simple ones with a variety of uses, and get comfortable with them, before moving on to more.

To help you do just that, I’ve put together a list of the 5 natural remedies that I would most highly recommend to a beginner.

Clay As a Natural Home Remedy (Yes, Really) {Keeper of the Home}

1. Clay

More specifically, bentonite clay. This might sound like a bizarre first remedy (she’s recommending dirt??), but stick with me a moment, OK?

Let’s go back to that well-known pink stuff… Pepto Bismal. Any guess what’s in it? That’s right. Clay (but unfortunately, also all sorts of other ingredients your body doesn’t need).

The reason it works is that clay is able to attract toxins to itself, and draw them out of the body. It can absorb nasty stuff in our digestive systems and clear it out the other end. It can remove toxins, impurities and infections from skin. It can also be very soothing.

For all of these reasons, we use both powdered clay and liquified clay in our family for:

  • insects stings and bug bites
  • stomach upsets (diarhea, digestive troubles, general tummy yuckiness)
  • to soothe cuts and scrapes and aid healing process
  • draw out an infection in the skin
  • detoxifying (we use it most specifically for baths)

Read more in detail about how clay works, and how we use it in this post.

While I’m on the topic, I want to give activated charcoal a big thumbs up. It didn’t make the cut of my top 5 because it can be a bit messy to use and that’s a turn off for a lot of people, but please, give charcoal a chance.

For one thing, it’s more readily available than clay (you can buy activated charcoal capsules at almost any health or supplement store). For another, it works equally well as clay when taken internally for stomach distress (and I’d venture to say it works even better), as well as for healing infections and addressing stings or bites. I’m a huge fan and you can read about how I used it to treat a skin infection here.

5087101315_b72550a018_b

2. Garlic

Not just any old garlic, but even more specifically, raw garlic.

And here’s the beautiful thing about garlic… you can buy it at any grocery store. It keeps for a long time in a cool, dark place or in your fridge. There’s no reason not to have it on hand for when sickness strikes.

I’ve actually written a very lengthy piece on how garlic works and its benefits, but allow me to condense it for you. When raw garlic is crushed or minced, compounds within it are activated which have a very strong anti-biotic effect. It also has anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties.

In a nutshell, there are two many things you need to remember about using garlic effectively:

  • It really needs to be raw to be truly potent, and is more active once minced or crushed in some way.
  • You can’t take it once a day like an antibiotic pill and hope for the same result. It’s not a pharmaceutical. To get great results with many natural remedies, you want to take them steadily over the course of the day, every few hours. If you take it this way, you’ll be amazed at the results!

Garlic can be used for so many things, but here are just a few to try:

  • treat ear infections (this works best by infusing it into an oil- see this post)
  • ward off a cold, flu or infection more quickly
  • thrush/Candida/yeast/fungal infections

Not sure you can get it down? Maybe try one of these 7 ways to eat it? My kids will take a clove minced up if it’s covered in raw honey. My husband and I like it best on top of a piece of toast with cheese on top.

apple valley herbal salve

3. Herbal salve

This is my wonder cream. My kids all know exactly what I mean when they have an owie of some sort and I tell them to go “put cream on it”. It’s also one of the very easiest natural remedies that anyone can start with.

Really, it’s not cream at all, but an herb-infused blend of oils that are solidified into a salve which you can rub on, like an ointment. It’s similar to using something like a Neosporin or antibiotic ointment from a tube at the pharmacy, except that it’s all natural and beyond just preventing infection, it really encourages healing.

There are many salves out there and you can even make one yourself if you prefer. I’m all for DIY but I’m usually just as happy to buy mine. I love this one and this one, though there are many out on the market that are probably effective as well.

We use herbal salve for:

  • diaper rash
  • chapped lips
  • cuts and scrapes
  • minor infections
  • rashes

Peppermint: Top 8 Essential Oils for Home Use {KeeperoftheHome.org}

4. Essential oils

I’ve grown to love using essential oils more and more over the years. They’re so quick and easy to reach for, and when used properly, can be very effective. The more basic ones are also very affordable and last a long time, making them a good choice for someone just getting started.

There’s a fair bit of controversy out there over whether you should or shouldn’t ingest oils, and I would agree, it’s a murky subject which I won’t into for now.

What I will say is that there are a number of uses that I would recommend to anyone, with just a few of the more inexpensive oils out there.

Peppermint – Great for sore muscles and for headaches (particularly tension headaches). Also for nausea (smelling it helps a lot for this use, as can rubbing it on temples or behind ears). It’s a bit strong, so usually best to mix it with a carrier oil (coconut or olive oil work great) before rubbing onto the skin, since it irritates some people and don’t let it come in contact with eyes (ask me how I know).

Eucalyptus – You can make your own version of Vapo Rub with this oil and it really, truly works. Or, you can be simple like me and just pour a little olive oil into the palm of your hand, add a few drops of eucalyptus, and bada bing, bada boom. You’ve got “vapo rub”. Rubbing it on the chest and back works, but also, try the bottoms of bare feet, and then put socks on overnight.

Lavender – I have used this oil many times in its neat form (undiluted) when I’ve burned myself. Just rub a drop or two straight onto the burn (you wouldn’t do this with a really serious burn – it’s more for your average kitchen burn). It usually helps to relive the pain within about 5 minutes, and sometimes I re-apply it 10-15 minutes later if needed. It’s also very helpful for calming and relaxing, whether used with a carrier oil and rubbed gently on the skin, or by smelling it (a diffuser is great for this purpose).

This is an excellent overview of 8 essential oils to use for home and health and what to do with them.

3986232891_e3ed8803d4_b

5. Ginger

There were so many other remedies I could have chosen for this last one (probiotics, raw honey, colloidal silver and epsom salts  were all on my short list), but ginger is one of the first herbs that I really noticed tangible results with, so I want to pass it on to all the beginners out there.

First of all, it’s very accessible. You can buy fresh ginger root at most grocery stores, and certainly ginger powder in the spice section if nothing else. Secondly, ginger is absolutely wonderful for the digestive system.

I would highly recommend using either:

1. Fresh, peeled ginger (in slices or chunks) OR

2. Ginger tea (either chopping up fresh ginger and making tea with that, or using the dried power with hot water)

Both work amazingly for nausea, morning sickness, heartburn, gas, upset stomach, etc. I regularly drink ginger tea or nibble on fresh ginger while pregnant, especially in first trimester or when I have heartburn later on in pregnancy.

I’ve also found ginger to be very effective in a more uncommon use — the bath! Particularly great for chills, flus and fevers… run a hot bath and dump in 1/2 cup to 1 cup of ginger powder (beware that more will be stronger!) and less for children (maybe 1/4 cup maximum). Sit and soak in the hot ginger water.

It will increase circulation and probably make you feel a bit flushed. Make sure to drink lots of water and only stay in as long as you can (with a child, watch them very carefully if they’re looking flushed and don’t keep them in too long). Then, get out, drink some more water, and wrap yourself up in bed. This circulation boost really helps with reducing the chills and aches of a fever and in my experience, shortens its duration.

I’ve written extensively about ginger before, it’s an ingredient in our tried-and-true cold kicker remedy, and you can try this soothing lemon ginger drink for colds and congestion.

Which natural remedies have you found useful and effective?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Top image credit

10 Ways to Include Toddlers and Preschoolers in the Garden

Childhood is all about exploring and learning to love gardening. Don't force time with your toddlers and preschoolers in the garden. Rather, play into their curiosity and make being with you in the garden fun.

By Leigh Ann Dutton, Contributing Writer

Being in my garden is one of my favorite things to do.

I love the smell of fresh dirt and feeling the mist from the water hose as I spray my vegetables on a hot summer evening.

I love planning what vegetables to grow and where I will put my herb garden.

I love working with my hands and the ache of my back from tilling the soil.

I love the silence and disconnect from technology.

And I especially love doing all of these things with my toddler and preschooler next to me.

Last year we started our first raised bed vegetable garden. It was the first time we were able to garden together as a family, and we had so much fun!

Childhood is all about exploring and learning to love gardening. Don't force time with your toddlers and preschoolers in the garden. Rather, play into their curiosity and make being with you in the garden fun.

Children learn so much from just doing life alongside their parents. I would love for my children to understand where their foods come from (or at least where it can come from), and I want them to enjoy healthy food (because let’s be honest – food straight from the earth that traveled no further than a few hundred feet tastes much better than supermarket food!).

We already prepare, eat, and clean up each meal together; therefore, extending our work into our backyard has made the work inside even more fun!

I want to share some ways to include your toddler or preschooler in the garden with you. Letting your child work with you in the garden is so rewarding and teaches your child valuable lessons for down the road!

10 Ways to Include Toddlers and Preschoolers in the Garden

1. Start seeds inside

Children are great helpers when you’re getting seeds started inside! They’ll even help you remember to water the little seedlings regularly.

Let your child place the seeds in the holes and water the pods. Just place a large dish underneath to catch the overflow and inevitable misses.

Childhood is all about exploring and learning to love gardening. Don't force time with your toddlers and preschoolers in the garden. Rather, play into their curiosity and make being with you in the garden fun.

2. Transplant starter plants

Once you’re ready to transfer your plants outside, have your child help you. Let them dig the hole for the starter plant to go into. Show them how to carefully release the roots from the pot, and have them cover the hole with dirt.

3. Plan the garden

Let your child give his or her input as to where to plant each row. My son loved helping me place the seed packets on each square before we started planting seeds.

Childhood is all about exploring and learning to love gardening. Don't force time with your toddlers and preschoolers in the garden. Rather, play into their curiosity and make being with you in the garden fun.

4. Measure spacing

The garden is a great time to talk about measurements. Many of the plants have to be spaced a certain amount. Let your child help you measure (even if you usually eyeball it, let them use a ruler or measuring stick).

5. Help water the garden

Give your child a watering can and let him or her help you water the garden. Both of my children love doing this with me!

Childhood is all about exploring and learning to love gardening. Don't force time with your toddlers and preschoolers in the garden. Rather, play into their curiosity and make being with you in the garden fun.

6. Create garden markers

This is a fun activity to let your toddler or preschooler do in the middle of the yard! Give your child some paints and let him or her paint some rocks. Let the rocks dry in the sun, then write the names of your herbs or vegetables on each rock. Let your child help you place the rocks next to each plant.

7. Pull weeds together

This isn’t always a super popular activity for anyone, but teaching my children how to pull weeds and why has presented some great learning opportunities.

Childhood is all about exploring and learning to love gardening. Don't force time with your toddlers and preschoolers in the garden. Rather, play into their curiosity and make being with you in the garden fun.

8. Harvest vegetables together

This is always my boys’ favorite time of the year! They love nothing more than eating fresh peas off the vine and eating all the strawberries before we even get them inside to wash!

My preschooler loves to help me gather herbs in the morning for our day’s meals. He’s even great at cutting them himself.

Childhood is all about exploring and learning to love gardening. Don't force time with your toddlers and preschoolers in the garden. Rather, play into their curiosity and make being with you in the garden fun.

9. Rinse vegetables in the sink

There are so many ways to include your toddler in the kitchen. Why not let them rinse the vegetables and herbs you harvested from the garden in the sink?

10. Create a menu plan together with vegetables from the garden

Once you’ve washed the vegetables for use, let your child help you determine how to eat them.

Do they think eating raw carrots with probiotic ranch dressing sounds good, or would today be a good day for roasting the carrots in the oven?

Give your child freedom to help you choose how to use the food you’ve harvested!

Childhood is all about exploring and learning to love gardening. Don't force time with your toddlers and preschoolers in the garden. Rather, play into their curiosity and make being with you in the garden fun.

I have found that by involving my toddler and preschooler in the garden with me, getting them to eat their vegetables is much simpler. There is something about knowing you helped something grow that makes it attractive when placed on your plate for dinner.

Remember, this age is all about exploring and learning to love gardening. Don’t force your young child to be involved if they aren’t interested. Play into their curiosity and make being with you in the garden fun. As they grow, you’ll be able to establish mandatory chores and work times, but for now, let them be with you and enjoy getting their hands dirty in God’s creation!

What does your toddler or preschooler enjoy doing in the garden? What fun tips would you add to this list? How do you involve your toddlers and preschoolers in the garden?

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!

15 Tips for a More Enjoyable Pregnancy (from a soon-to-be mom of 5)

Pregnancy frequently challenges us, pushes us to our limits, and requires sacrifices that every mother knows are worth it the moment you hold that sweet babe in your arms for the very first time. But, it doesn't have to be a miserable, nightmarish time that you spend counting the weeks and days until it's over. Here are 15 tips for a more enjoyable pregnancy from a soon-to-be mom of 5!

In many ways, pregnancy gets easier the more you’ve done it. You learn what works for you, you learn to relax, and perhaps most of all, you learn that it’s just a season and a relatively short one at that.

An expert I’m not, but my last pregnancies have been better than my first ones and I know better than I used to how to make it through with a smile on my face. Because of that, I want to share what I’ve learned with those who are earlier on in your motherhood journey.

Of course, there’s no way to make pregnancy perfectly comfortable or easy. Because making a human being, it’s hard work, and while I believe our bodies were brilliantly created to do exactly that, it’s never a walk in the park.

Pregnancy frequently challenges us, pushes us to our limits, and requires sacrifices that every mother knows are worth it the moment you hold that sweet babe in your arms for the very first time.

But, it doesn’t have to be a miserable, nightmarish time that you spend counting the weeks and days until it’s over.

And so as I sit here 32 weeks pregnant with my fifth child, laptop balanced slightly precariously in front of my wiggly, squirming bump, and bladder on the verge of making me give up this carefully-acquired position on the couch… here are 15 tips for any mom, to help you have the best and most enjoyable pregnancy possible.

1. Learn to read your body’s signs.

Hands down, one of the most valuable things I’ve learned over the years is to understand what it looks and feels like to be low or deficient in certain things.

Problems like being low in iron, in calcium, in healthy fats, or being dehydrated account for more pregnancy discomforts than you might imagine. Learning to recognize them, and then take the proper action to remedy them, can save so much grief and help prevent morning sickness, fatigue, leg cramps, headaches, varicose veins and much more.

This pregnancy my key supplements are: fermented cod liver oil, herbal mineral tincture, Floradix liquid iron, calcium capsules, and magnesium lotion, plus I throw in seaweeds and dried greens as much as possible. Some have been added in (like iron and magnesium) based on sensing what my body needs and I’ve felt so much better for it.

2. Be as active and normal as possible.

Don’t pay too much attention to people who tell you to rest, sit down, stop doing so much, don’t carry that. I know, they mean so well, but you’re pregnant, not an invalid.

Let your own feelings of well-being and common sense tell you what you can and can’t do. Don’t be stupid. Don’t put yourself in precarious positions, and by all means, rest when you’re tired. But do try to just live your normal, active life as usual.

I still exercise, travel, lift things (boxes, furniture within reason, my kids), fix things, garden, work, and much more while pregnant. Sure, I have greater physical limitations and I have to stay attuned to my body and what it needs, but for the most part, I continue on with life as normal and so should you.

5975203704_933fd171f0_b

3. Don’t stress yourself out with checklists and daily requirements.

During my first pregnancy, I read the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting (I don’t recommend it now). It encouraged very strict eating guidelines, and so I made myself a checklist to put on my fridge to help me ensure I met all of the stringent requirements each day (4 orange fruits/veggies, 2 dark green leafies, etc.).

I also highly respect the work of the Weston A. Price foundation and read their guidelines for pregnant women. And then proceeded to miserably fail at following them, because it is so. much. stinkin. food.

All either one did was cause me ooodles of guilt and stress and worry. And did I mention the guilt? Seriously, do away with checklists and daily requirements. Instead…

4. Take a common sense approach.

Eat as best you can. When you feel nauseated and exhausted in the beginning, just try to focus on getting in real, nutritious foods when and where you can, remembering that every little bit counts.

Whole-food based supplements, nutritious herbal teas or smoothies are practical ways to boost nutrients. Eat that salad (or meat, or whatever it is that turns you off) when your body tells you you can, but don’t force it. Sometimes it’s OK to satisfy your cravings (if they’re not junk), just to eat and keep your strength up. Something (calories, nutrients, etc.) is better than nothing.

3985720277_4a062c87fe_o

5. Do what you can to feel beautiful.

I keep a relatively small maternity wardrobe, but I’ve learned that having a few pieces or outfits I really love is worth it. Feeling beautiful and put together goes a long way to making me feel good about myself during a season when its easy to feel frumpy or unattractive.

Look for inspiration in places like Pinterest for ideas on how to put together cute looks. Wear jewelry or scarves. Put on makeup. Get a haircut. Get or give yourself a pedicure.

If your budget is really low, try kid’s swap meets, Craigslist or consignment stores to find good, used pieces at low prices. Remember that it doesn’t necessarily have to be maternity- today I’m wearing a non-maternity maxi skirt with a stretchy waistband, and an unbuttoned denim shirt from H&M over a maternity t-shirt.

6. Do take advantage of the internet.

In my first couple pregnancies, I was more on my own with some books and my midwife (which isn’t bad, of course). But these days, we are so blessed that we can quickly look up a symptom or try to find a solution, any time we need to.

It helps to take away the powerlessness of feeling yucky or being achy or in pain. More often than not, I’ve found ideas that have helped me, whether it’s with yeast infections, varicose veins, morning sickness, heartburn, lightheadedness, you name it.

4027487325_33a523b3f3_b

7. Find movement and exercise that feels good to you.

Whether you love running, aerobics, hiking, weights, or yoga, don’t stop. Be willing to adapt as needed (for example, I’ve continued to do regular yoga videos, just adapting for the poses that don’t work for me as I get bigger), but don’t stop being active in ways that feel good to you.

I’ve actually found regular exercise and staying active to be essential to a more comfortable pregnancy.

But the rule of thumb? Listen to your body. If it hurts, don’t do it. If it feels fine, it’s probably OK.

8. Don’t stress out so much about sleeping on your left side…

Or eating raw cheese or sushi. Or having the odd glass of wine.

My first pregnancy I made myself a bit miserable trying to obey all of the rules. I’ve since learned that common sense and moderation go a long way.

Not to mention the fact that the things you’re not “supposed” to do differ depending on who you talk to… Japanese women thought I was crazy for avoiding sushi when we used to live there. Many European women continue to drink moderately throughout their entire pregnancy (and it’s hard to find cheese that isn’t raw in places like France). Women all over the world do physical work and manual labor up until the day they deliver a healthy baby. And most doctors and midwives will now tell you that the most important thing when it comes to sleep is that you’re comfortable.

9. Try to embrace the good and let the bad roll off of you.

I know, it’s HARD on the days when you just feel miserable. It’s easy to want to complain and whine. It’s even easy to want to make other people feel sorry for you. Try to resist.

Do whatever you can to feel better physically, and then try to distract yourself, give yourself perspective (you’re not the only person with problems), or focus on someone else instead of yourself. You’ll feel better by not spending your pregnancy ensconced in negativity.

10. Educate yourself (but with limits).

You do not need to read every single book or website, and if what you’re reading freaks or stresses you out, then put it down.

But do try to learn, and be an active player in your own health care. Know your options. Understand how your body works. Be aware of natural remedies and how nutrition can help you. Actively prepare yourself for labor. Ask your midwife or doctor good questions.

Learning more in a balanced and relaxed way will empower you… but learning more in a stress-filled, overwhelm-inducing, worst-case-scenario way will only bring anxiety and burdens you don’t need.

A few books I highly recommend: Natural Childbirth: The Bradly Way, The Natural Pregnancy Book, Ina Mae’s Guide to Childbirth, and Real Food for Mother and Baby.

IMG_9416

11. Go easy on yourself.

You’re making a brand new human being. It’s natural to be tired, to move slower, to feel less motivated than usual, to have hormones and emotions that fluctuate, to not feel up to big projects like usual.

Your body is working full time to create something spectacular. Don’t be down on yourself when it takes a little more from you than you wish it did.

12. Have great nutrition, but keep it simple.

Focusing on these basic guidelines will help you reach for better choices, but without feeling legalistic about it:

  • Eat whole foods, and avoid processed, refined and convenience foods.
  • Protein – lots of it, and try to include some with every meal or snack.
  • Plenty of fresh, whole fruits and veggies, plus fiber in other forms like beans and legumes, whole grains, etc.
  • Good fats. Fats are so maligned, but they’re absolutely crucial. Fats from fish especially, but also coconut oil, real butter, extra virgin olive oil, egg yolks, avocados… these are all superfoods for you and your baby.
  • Plain old water. Just have lots of it. If you don’t like water, add lemon, lime or orange, cucumbers, or make it into cold or hot herbal tea.

For more on great nutrition while pregnant, read this post.

15116203949_e2f005ee05_k

13. Recognize that it’s not all about you.

I hesitated to keep this point in here because it will probably draw angry responses, but I think it needs to be said anyways. Pregnant women can be notoriously self-focused and spend a lot of time navel gazing. If that sounds a bit harsh and blunt, I’m sorry, but I think it’s true.

Remember… I’m not saying pregnancy isn’t hard. I’m not saying you shouldn’t accept or ask for help (see the next point) or take a break when you need it. I’m a complete advocate for making sure that you and baby are well taken care of and that you get what you need. And when you need support or encouragement or even to have a good cry, you shouldn’t fake it. In other words, it’s OK to be real and to need things.

What I am saying is, don’t allow the challenges of pregnancy to turn you so inward that you become selfish and stop caring about the needs of others. Your husband – he still has needs. Your kids – so do they. Your friends- they’re dealing with their own challenges. The world at large- never a moment when there aren’t people suffering or facing oppression we can’t even fathom.

Life goes on all around you, so don’t let pregnancy make you think it should revolve around you.

14. Ask for help when you need it.

See? I’m not completely heartless. ;)

But seriously, I’m terrible at this. It’s taken me five pregnancies and I still tend to try to push through on my own, keep going when I’m exhausted, make food when I’m really ill, pick up or move things by myself.

This might sound a bit contradictory to the whole “try to just do life as normal” (see #2), but it’s not. There are times when you know you’ve hit a wall. Pay attention and stop. Tell your husband, your kids, a friend, your mom, whoever, that you’re struggling and could use a hand. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you smart, and other people are usually more than happy to help you out.

15. Don’t underestimate the power of a 10 minute rest and a glass of water. (And just maybe, a piece of dark chocolate)

Rest and water can make a big difference when you’re feeling off. I’ve found that when I feel that way, just sitting down and drinking a full glass of water and putting my feet up for 10 minutes will so often turn how I’m feeling around and give me the energy I need to keep going.

The chocolate is just because you deserve it (and you can tell yourself it contains magnesium if it helps you justify it).

If you’re new to this whole pregnancy thing, what aspects do you struggle with the most? For those who’ve done it a couple times, what tips would you add to this list?

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products (Plus a Special Offer This Week Only!)

real deals 700px post image

This week’s top deals:

Far and away, these bundles that we put together a few times a year are one of the BEST deals out there!

Our Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is available this week only, and it includes 100 helpful, practical, inspiring and encouraging eBooks, printables, audio and eCourses on topics like:

  • 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

uhb-collage

It includes ALL of these amazing resources… for just $29.97! (valued at over $1200 including bonuses)

Because I know that you all enjoy a particularly good deal, I think you’ll love the bonuses in particular:

  • 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)

Personally, I’m most excited about getting a new spring scarf, picking out some beautiful art prints for my walls, ordering the Kids Discovery Box (we’ve loved Green Kid Crafts previously), and choosing which Craftsy course I want to take!

koth bonuses UHB2015

PLUS, we’re offering a special bonus package for everyone who buys through Keeper of the Home!

Get a FREE 2 oz. bottle of liquid herbal remedy from Trilight Health, as well as all four of our very own eBooks:

  1. Real Food on a Real Budget: How to Eat Healthy for Less
  2. Clean & Simple: 7 inexpensive ingredients. 10 green cleaning recipes that work
  3. Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time
  4. Plan It, Don’t Panic: Everything You Need to Successfully Create and Use a Meal Plan

To get your bundle AND your bonuses, all you have to do is:

1. Click on one of the links below to either Learn More or Buy Now.

2. Go ahead and buy your bundle!

3. Email us at hello@keeperofthehome.org with the subject “Homemaking bundle bonuses” and a proof of purchase.

4. Within 2-3 days (or sooner, if we can), our team will get back to you with a coupon code for your free Trilight Health remedy, and your 4 eBooks to download.

Just remember that the bundle is available for ONE WEEK only. You can get it between now and Monday, April 27th at 11:59pm EST.

abe

Up to 60% Off Clearance Products at Abe’s Market Clearance Sale.  While supplies last.  Just scroll down on the homepage and you can’t miss the Clearance Sale link.

bobJust $9.59/bag  Bob’s Red Mill Organic Grain Quinoa 3 pack (26oz each) is on sale at Abe’s Market for $28.78.  Check out all the other great products in their Stock Up at 20% Off deals.

burtAs Low As $5.50-$6.15  Burt’s Bees Coconut Foot Crème, 4.3 Ounces  is on sale for $6.47.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

cast ironList Price $26.95  On Sale  $14.97  Lodge LCS3 Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Chef’s Skillet, 10-inch.  FREE shipping with qualifying order

netList Price $70.45 On Sale $37.99  Climbing Cargo Net  FREE shipping with qualifying order

coffeeAs Low As $12.59-$14.39  The Organic Coffee Co. OneCup, Decaf Gorilla, 36 Single Serve Coffees is on sale for $17.99.  Save 15% when you clip the coupon below the product description (you must be logged in).  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

legoList Price $9.99 On sale $7.99  LEGO Classic Green Baseplate Supplement.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

lego friendsJust $7.99  LEGO Friends Olivia’s Ice Cream Bike 41030 Building Set   Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

mtn rose

Check Out the April Specials at Mountain Rose Herbs!  Just click the ‘Specials” tab.  Here are just a few:

  • 15% Off Bee Pollen
  • 25% Off Galbanum Essential Oil
  • 15% Off Arrowroot Powderjars
  • And 25% off these beautiful Cobalt Blue Glass Jars

babyganicsAs Low As $12.77 ($3.19/tube) Babyganics Mineral-Based Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50, 2oz Tube (Pack of 4).  Price $15.96 ($3.99/tube) Save 20% when you clip the coupon below the product description (you must be signed in).  FREE shipping on qualifying orders.

vitacost

SuperSale at Vitacost!  Limited time offer.  No promo code required.  FREE shipping on orders over $49. (note – this is our referral link, and if you want, you can sign up for a $10 off $30 coupon)

beansCheck out these deals and MANY more:

  • 41% Off Organic Coconut Milk
  • 25% Off Eco Bee Farms Raw Manuka Honey
  • 42% Off Seventh Generation Dish Liquid
  • 53% Off Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste
  • 42% Off Eden Foods Organic Black Beans
  • 30% Off Organic Garbanzo Beans

FREE Kindle eBooks:

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

31Frugal Hacks: Money tips, tricks, and innovative ways for college students, adults, and anyone else to maximize your dollar

gardenBackyard Garden Basics: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Gardening!

diyDIY Household Hacks: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping a Perfectly Clean and Organized Home Forever

freezerFreezer Meals: 365 Days of Quick & Easy, Make-Ahead Meals For Busy Families

budgetBudget Save Cooking Basics

Hat Tip to Money Saving Mom for these free eBooks!

This week’s best coupons:

real-deals-pinterest-april-21

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!

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.

NOTE: This bundle sale is over, but there are more to come in the future! Sign up to be notified the next time there’s a bundle sale!

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. Sale is now over! Sign up to hear about it next time!

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

Sign up to be notified of our next sale!

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

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?