Category Archives: Homemaking

How to learn to cook without being overwhelmed

Kitchen utensils for bakery cooking on color background, Top vie

Does learning to cook sound like an exhausting, mentally overwhelming task to take to you?

Here’s a little secret. When I got married, I could. not. cook. I’m not exaggerating. Hamburger Helper was a feat. Dry chicken was my specialty. We were not bringing home much money, but I know some months our dining out spending inched a little too close to 4 digits. A large portion of that was due to my husband traveling for work, but still – it was ridiculous.

So what changed? How do I now enjoy cooking and actually cook meals my family asks for over and over? Well, the reason behind it was that I didn’t exactly have a choice. Our location and budget changed, forcing me to get serious about feeding my family (of 5 then) at home. However, I’ve put together a few things that helped me along the way and will hopefully also help to make your journey from drive thru extraordinaire to dinner bell(e) queen a little easier. If I can successfully learn to cook and actually find some joy in it, I’m certain pretty much anyone else can too.

*this article contains affiliate links*

  1. Start SUPER Simple
    Super duper simple. When I first started cooking, I’d search for things like “3 ingredient _________” or “4 ingredient ___________.” No joke. If it had too many ingredients or steps, I skipped it. Learning a totally new skill is overwhelming enough with 3 kids 3 and under at my feet. I sure didn’t need 15 steps and/or 10 ingredients, 4 of which I had never heard of! You will be surprised how much you can cook with only a few ingredients. You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated dishes for it to taste good.
  2. Make Your Own Seasonings
    Making your own taco or fajita seasoning is a great way to dip your toes into cooking from scratch! The actual cooking process isn’t much different (if at all) from using the pre-packaged seasonings, it’s healthier, and you can tailor it to suit your tastes!
  3. Get a Slow Cooker
    A slow cooker can make many recipes less complicated. There are tons of recipes out there that only require dumping in the ingredients, stirring, and then waiting on that slow cooker to do it’s thing. Soups, pulled pork sandwiches, and bbq chicken, are all quick and very easy with this method. (Check out my Slow Cooker Pinterest board here.)
  4. Get Organized with Meal Planning
    THIS was a huge one for me. The phrase “meal planning” sounds way more intimidating than it actually is. Meal planning just means an organized method to plan out your meals and keep track of what you are planning to eat and cook. Find a calendar arrangement you like, and write it all down, even if it’s just frozen pizza for lunch. Make a plan! I also recommend putting notes on the calendar for anything you have going on that would interfere with being able to spend time in the kitchen. DO NO TRY FANCY NEW RECIPES ON BUSY DAYS. Kids have practice? Not a good day for trying a new recipe with 15 steps. That’s a day for a sandwich, maybe a new hot sandwich. Maybe not.

    I’ve done a few articles about the methods I’ve used for meal planning. I started out putting pen to paper, which I still recommend for meal planning newbies, as mentioned here, and more recently I have switched to using an online planner subscription, Plan to Eat, which I shared about here. For both methods I prefer a full monthly calendar layout, even if I’m only planning a week or two at a time. It works best for my life, but feel free to do a weekly layout if that works better for you.

  5. Do not get too discouraged when that recipe everyone raved about online tastes terrible.
    It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. Sometimes you follow a recipe exactly, and it just tastes bad. lol I’ve thrown a few in the trash after just a few bites. A couple never even made it to the table. I’m not a picky eater either, so those were rough.
  6. Get disposable dishes.
    This one is probably going to be a bit controversial, but stick with me. I’m not saying use paper plates every meal for 6 months. (Well, if you want to, do your thing, but that’s not what I’m getting at here.) You’re saving money compared to your previous dining out spending habits, so invest in some disposable plates or bowls for nights when you are planning to try a more complicated or time consuming meal. If you finish cooking and you feel proud of the meal you have prepared, you may just decide you would rather eat it on your regular dishes. You also might decide that was a lot of mental work, and it definitely took longer than the 15 minute prep time the recipe claimed and opt for an evening with less dishes.

These are just a few of the things that helped me as I taught myself to cook. Have you taught yourself to cook? If so, I’d love for you to share any other tips you may have in the comments.

Leave a Comment

Filed under food, Homemaking

Meal Planning for a Large Family with Plan to Eat

The beginning of another year has arrived. Unfortunately, I did not write here on the blog as much as I wish I did last year. Hopefully I do better this year. I guess it is sort of a goal for this year, but honestly I’m just too exhausted to set any goals right now. Maybe in another month? The last year, mostly the last several months have nearly depleted our entire home.

In an effort to regain some normalcy for our large family in a very busy, chaotic season of life, I’ve set out to update my home management systems and routines. The first of these systems I have updated is my meal planning routine. The actual planning system I had was fairly simple and working fine. You can check it out here. The grocery list and shopping wasn’t flowing very well though, especially since I switched to mostly doing pickup orders for our grocery shopping. It was just consuming too much of my time. As a mama of many, I needed to take back some of that time for other important tasks – like homeschooling 5 kids this year. Gulp.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

I had a friend from our homeschool co-op who had mentioned she used Plan to Eat, but I didn’t know much about it. Back in November though, I finally signed up for their free trial. (FYI they always have the option on their site to sign up this way. No commitment. BUT it is very, very worth the $39/yr fee for this large family mama. No regrets.) Plan to Eat has been a game changer.

The actual planning and calendar layout is basically an online version of what I was doing before. I still print out the finished meal plan calendar and tape it up to the inside of my cabinet door. However, it saves me time and work in a few different ways. To put a meal on the calendar, you simply drag and drop it from a list on the side of your screen. As you are making your meal plan, Plan to Eat is compiling your grocery list from the recipes you choose! When you are finished, you can click over to the shop tab and edit, print, or check off your grocery list as you place an online grocery order.

1 Comment

Filed under Homemaking, meal planning

Be Healthy Box from Simply Earth

Cold and flu season is in full force around here! Thankfully, our family has been spared so far, but February’s Simply Earth essential oils recipe box has arrived, so we’re prepared should it strike.

(Disclosure: I received this box of essential oils free from Simply Earth in exchange for this review. However, all opinions are my own.)

Essential oils have been around for a very long time, but Simply Earth has put a new spin on them, offering high quality, pure oils in a monthly subscription box. Each box also includes recipes and most of the necessary supplies for the recipes. Take a look at some of their previous boxes I’ve received..

Simply Earth Essential Oils Recipe Box Contents

This month’s box included several oils that are pretty handy to have around:

Peppermint
Eucalyptus
Blood Orange
Breathe Easy Blend (Fir Needle, Frankincense, Cedarwood, & Myrrh Essential Oil)
Head Soothing Blend (Lavender, Rosewood, & Frankincense Essential Oil)

All seven recipes in the February box required very minimal effort. They were basically all mix-and-go recipes, which is definitely handy if you aren’t feeling your best. I don’t think they would be necessary for the particular recipes in this box, but should you have any questions about completing a project, Simply Earth does have instructional videos for each box available on their web site.

Recipes included:

  • Head Soothing Roll-on
  • Cold & Flu Bath Soak
  • Sinus Relief Roll-on
  • Calming Inhaler
  • Steady-on Diffuser Blend
  • Nausea Relief Inhaler
  • Point Pain Roll-on Relief

My favorite is the Head Soothing Roll-on. I put it to use immediately.

Simply Earth Essential Oils

Want to get started with your own subscription to Simply Earth’s essential oils recipe box for just $39 AND a free diffuser? CLICK HERE (Diffuser offer expires March 19)
Hint: next month’s box involves soap making! 😀

Leave a Comment

Filed under Homemaking, Natural Home, Product review, Reviews

Homemade Beauty Products with Simply Earth

January’s box from Simply Earth has been my favorite so far!

Before I tell you more about it, let me make the obligatory comment that yes, they did provide the product free of charge, but all opinions are my own. I’m not going to tell my readers I like something that I really don’t. 🙂

essential oils with diffuser(This article contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links will not affect your pricing, but it will provide us a small percentage to support our blog.)

If you haven’t seen my first Simply Earth essential oils box review, be sure to check it out. Their boxes are a unique mix of essential oils and fun crafts! Each box contains 4-5 full size, high quality essential oils, 5-7 recipes for using them (on cute little notecards), and most of the supplies you’ll need for each project. Boxes start at only $39 per month.

January’s box was all about creating homemade beauty products with essential oils.

On several occasions I’ve seen posts on Facebook or heard other moms *cough* my sister-in-law *cough* talking about making things like homemade lip balm and facial products and thought, “Who on earth has that kind of time?! I’d love to do that, but really?” I mean, I was totally confused as to where these women were finding these extra hours in their day. I’m currently sitting at my computer, in the dark, and running back and forth from my kids’ rooms, trying to get everyone to actually go to sleep. On most days, I’m in a dead run from the time I wake up until 9 pm or later.

Well, thanks to Simply Earth’s essential oils recipe box, I realized I was wrong! It’s really simple and not nearly as time consuming as I had imagined. I spent less time making 6 tubes of lip balm than I do trying to decide which one to purchase when I’m standing in the store staring at them.

It was truly a 1, 2, 3 & done process.

Three steps:

1. Melt beeswax & almond oil in a double boiler.
2. Add essential oil
3. Pour into containers & let cool

Yes, it’s that easy.

My little girls love lip balm. They call it their “lipstick,” and want to wear it every time they see me putting on make up. Now I can hand them their own tube of homemade lip balm, knowing it’s free of dyes, scents my youngest daughter may be allergic too,  or any other unnecessary chemicals.

And look how pretty they are.

homemade lip balm
This month’s subscription box also included two diffuser blend recipes. I enjoyed them both, and a friend suggested using their “Rejuvination Blend”(lime & cedarwood) as a mom-hack for those days that you don’t get to the cleaning. Ha! She’s such a genius. Why didn’t I think of that?

My second favorite project in this box was making the Beauty Within Face Mask. I don’t tend to have dry skin on my face, but it will be an amazing hand cream for this mama that washes dishes and/or her hands 100 times each day! Again, I was surprised by how super easy it was to make too. It was basically the same process as the lip balm.

homemade facial mask

This essential oils box also included a recipe for a Beauty Within roll-on and a solid perfume (along with the supplies for each of course). There’s a fun video of the roll-on over on my page on Facebook.

If you want to try it out for yourself, you can see their subscription box options and individual products over at www.simplyearth.com.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Natural Home, Product review, Reviews

Simply Earth Essential Oils Recipe Box

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that my second subscription box from Simply Earth finally arrived. We’re in the midst of moving (during the craziest holiday & birthday season is the best time to move ya know), and it took an extra week or so to track it down between the two houses and having mail forwarded, etc. I got it though!

A little recap…

I’m testing out Simply Earth Essential Oils Recipe Boxes, a subscription box that includes not only full size essential oils, but recipes and craft supplies for using them. (I am being provided the products in exchange for reviews, but all opinions are completely my own.)

Things to remember about Simply Earth and their products:

Each box contains 6-7 natural recipes, printed on cute little cards on a ring to keep you organized, 4-5 full size essential oils, and most of the necessary supplies for the craft recipes.

Simply Earth gives back by donating 13% of their profits to organizations that aid in ending human trafficking and restoring the victims’ lives.

The essential oils that arrived in this box were spearmint, coffee, ginger, and citrus burst.

Also in this box was instructions and supplies for more holiday blends and a few crafts that would make good gifts. I enjoyed stretching my crafting muscles, which I admit have gotten pretty rusty over the last few years.

bath bombs and recipe cards

The first project I tackled was making bath bombs. This was my very first time to make bath bombs, and I have to say there’s a bit of a learning curve to it. 🙂 They work and smell amazing, but definitely don’t look as lovely as I had imagined. After doing a bit more research though, I have learned what to do differently next time, and it’s a technique issue, not a product issue. (i.e. I’m a #pinterestfail kind of mom.)

essential oils and roll-on blend

I did much better with the second project, the “Digest Roll-on,” a roll-on blend of spearmint and ginger essential oils, said to ease digestion issues. I love that Simply Earth even included a pre-printed label for the roll-on bottle! I’m terrible about having to sniff and pour out my homemade household cleaners, mixes, etc. because I have no idea what’s in the bottle.

Simply Earth essentail Oils and diffuser
The diffuser blend recipe this month is a new favorite of mine! Citrus Burst and Coffee! Who would have thought of that? Certainly not me, but I love it. I love to turn it on in the morning to wake myself up. Other recipes inside this box included a holiday scented body scrub, diffuser necklace (which is super cool and not nearly as difficult to make as I imagined.), and a flannel hand warmer.

Now that I’ve seen two boxes, I can honestly say I recommend Simply Earth! It’s an easy and fun introduction for an essential oils novice and a convenient way to expand your essential oils collection and knowledge for experienced users.

Simply Earth offers three options for the essential oils recipe boxes.

1 Box Every Month: $39 per box
1 Box Every Three Months: $45 per box
Just This Month’s Box: $49
Shipping is free, and you can pause or cancel a subscription at any time.

Looking for a specific oil or a new diffuser? They have those too, and you can order oils and roll-ons individually.So head on over to SimplyEarth.com to get your subscription started, or even send one as a gift!

5 Comments

Filed under Homemaking, Natural Home, Product review, Reviews

It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas (Simply Earth)


At least in my bathroom it does! (And the rest of the house will soon be the same.)

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you should know by now I’m pretty excited about my new bathroom! Just a bit.

It’s still not 100% complete, but it’s amazing nonetheless.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate that subway tile and original shiplap.

Sigh.

Anyway.

When I walked in there last night, it smelled like a litter box.

Y’all, our cat has not been inside in a few days. It could not be blamed on him.

Unfortunately.

I’d also like to note that the smell was NOT present just a few hours earlier in the evening. It appeared sometime between the time I fed my children and the time they went to bed!

I was somewhat shocked by the revolting smell and that it appeared so quickly, but I guess I shouldn’t have been. Two little people that often forget we have modern plumbing (ya know, a flushing toilet), a little one potty training,  and one in diapers, and it’s our laundry room, so dirty laundry too… Yeah, it’s a daily battle.


Good thing they’re cute. 😀

And good thing Simply Earth sent me one of their subscription boxes to review!

I seriously ran to grab that box because I remembered one of the recipe cards inside of it was for a Christmas air freshener! (How lucky was that?)

I pulled everything out and whipped up this easy and lovely air freshener in less than 5 minutes! The box included everything I needed except the baking soda. Now my bathroom smells like Christmas!

Ahhhh, much better.


With the overwhelming smell taken care of and replaced with a lovely, fresh scent, I could clean and search for the source of that stench. 🙂
What is Simply Earth, you ask?

It is a subscription box service with each box containing 6 or 7 different recipes with a new theme each month such as holiday (This one was Christmas!), bath & beauty, or DIY cleaning. Each box also contains 5 FULL SIZE  bottles of essential oils (100% pure essential oils), and extras such as labels and containers to make your recipes.

I was so very impressed from the moment I opened my first box.

I haven’t even done all the recipes/crafts yet from my first box (I’ll share more as I do), but I wanted to share this one with you and tell you how you can win your own Simply Earth box!

Just click the link below to enter, and a winner will be chosen next week! Yep, it’s that simple.

Rafflecopter giveaway

Too impatient and want to order your own subscription right away?
Head on over to SimplyEarth.com and use the code: ZOOFREEDIF to receive a free diffuser with your order! Be sure you have the subscription box and diffuser in your cart to use the code!

Sign up here for the box https://simplyearth.com/pages/subscription-box 

Click here to check out the diffuser https://simplyearth.com/products/essential-oil-diffuser
Be sure to check out Simply Earth on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest too for more info and fun!

7 Comments

Filed under Homemaking, Natural Home, Product review, Reviews