• SPENDING LESS,  TOXIN-FREE HOME

    Non-Toxic DIY Wool Dryer Balls

    WOOL DRYER BALLS? Wool dryer balls are not a new concept, but I didn’t know much about them until recently! In our attempt to elminate some of the harshest chemicals from our home and spend less money on single-use items, we’ve learned that wool dryer balls are a really great eco-friendly alternative to dryer sheets! WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS? •• To start, commercial dryer sheets are filled with harmful chemicals and scents that cover your clothes and rest directly on your skin day in and day out. In contrast – there are no chemicals in wool dryer balls. •• Commercial dryer sheets are expensive and you have to throw them away after…

  • EATING SIMPLE

    Pancake Snacks

    This may seem a tad simple – and it is! Which is why I’m posting it here under the Eating Simple section. I know you’ll love it. My kids are snackers. The gene runs deep because I could snack for a living. I’m always on the move and often grab whatever’s easiest from the kitchen as I’m blazing through. Recently while vacationing on the Big Island of Hawaii, I grabbed a bag of small mini-pancakes from the local grocery store for the kids for breakfast. They weren’t the boxed ones – they were made, frozen, and sold locally and the kids loved them. They even preferred to eat them frozen?? Anyway, I…

  • DE-CLUTTERING SPACES

    6 Steps to Decluttering Your Kitchen

    The Kitchen.  A calm space…. or total chaos?  The kitchen is the highest traffic area in most houses. Whether we’re cooking, eating, helping our children with their homework, working, talking or just passing through – lots of good stuff happens here. If your kitchen feels cluttered, disorganized and chaotic, the time that you spend in it will be, too.  I’m going to start with full disclosure here: my kitchen is NOT perfectly organized and sparkly clean. I cook for a family of 6 every day and I’m a messy cook! Which is why paring down was so important: there’s only so many dishes I can now when I’m cooking before I…

  • DE-CLUTTERING SPACES

    10 Steps to Decluttering Your Closet

    Maybe you’re like me and your closet is full of things that you used to love (and maybe you’ll love them again someday?) or used to fit into (and maybe you’ll fit into them again someday?)  My body shape has changed after each of my four pregnancies, so even after returning to a somewhat normal size, some things just never went back to fitting the way they used to. And yet, I still have items hanging in my closet that I purchased before I even had ONE child. They don’t fit in the chest, they don’t fit in the waist… what the h-e-double hockey sticks are they still doing in…

  • DE-CLUTTERING SPACES

    5 Dos and Don'ts of Clearing Clutter

    Getting started with anything new is the hardest part. Here are a few tips that we’ve found helpful in avoiding burnout, avoidance and overwhelm as we tackle the clutterin our spaces (and the kids’ spaces!) THE 5 DON’TS OF CLEARING CLUTTER (Courtesy of Washington DC’s organizing and de-cluttering guru Nicole Anzia) 1. Organize first, buy second Don’t go out and buy a ton of storage systems and supplies before you sort through your home. All of those pretty bins, boxes and baskets can feel like the solution, but they won’t do you any good unless they fit into your space and hold what you need them to hold.  CLEAN FIRST,…

  • EATING SIMPLE,  SPENDING LESS,  TOXIN-FREE HOME

    Bento Box Lunchboxes

    New lunchboxes for Jack and Addison arrived today! We’re veering from the traditional insulated zip lunchbox/bag that we’ve used for a few years now and trying something new for a few reasons:  The kids have been coming home for a while now complaining about the same old stuff going into their lunches each day. I’m a creature of habit and guilty as charged. But making lunches isn’t my favorite thing to do… so normally they get the go-to sandwich, pretzels, fruit and sweet treat and we call it a day.  More exciting options have been requested. So rather than a few big staples each day, which they’re no longer eating…

  • EATING SIMPLE

    Baked Spaghetti + Green Beans or Salad

    I think this might be a winner for our rotating weekly schedule! Our kids gobbled it up and even went back for seconds. The recipe (doubled) filled a 9×13 pan and we were able to divide it into thirds: dinner tonight, dinner for next week, and a glass container in the fridge for lunch the next few days. Note: I only upped the pasta by 50%, so not quite double. I’m not usually a fan of leftover spaghetti. The noodles tend to dry out in the fridge, stick together, and it never tastes as good reheated in the microwave. Ziti and penne noodles somehow seem to reheat differently. I used ziti in…

  • EATING SIMPLE

    Rotating + Revolving Meals

    One way that we’re hoping to spend less in 2020 is by creating a revolving menu that’s 1. simple, 2. kid friendly, and 3. will repeat each week so that we’re shopping less and spending less. Groceries are a huge expense each month for our family of six, and it’s hard to find something that pleases everyone. So we’ve been playing around with recipes that we know the kids will eat on weekly rotation, and ones that we like, too. We’ve been making them double-size according to the recipes because it’s easy to flash-freeze half and thaw it the following week. Tonight’s recipe filled an entire 8qt dutch oven, so…

  • SPENDING LESS

    8 Gift Ideas For Children That Aren't Toys

    EDIT: This post was written in 2014-2015 – our original One Year of Simplicity. It was such a game-changer for us, that we’ve continued asking family and friends to generously donate experiences, rather than gifts, to our children for the last five years. Re-sharing these wonderful gift ideas (that can also be used for birthdays and anniversaries, too!) in 2020! Christmas is a really fun time of year in our house! It can also be a really stressful time of year.  Overspending (and the guilt that follows)Expectations of what Christmas should look likeToo many presents  Our family has spent the last three months paring down our belongings, downsizing from a 2,000 sq. foot house to a 948 sq.…