Weekly Menu Plan: FREE Printable

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We’re continuing on with our “Feeding a Family” theme and today we’re talking MENU PLANS!

Let me start by saying…menu planning is NOT my favorite thing to do. There…I said it. In fact, I can usually find 500 other things I need to do like now instead of planning the menu. The thing about it is, I know it benefits me so much to have a game plan for the week ahead.

Additionally, there are so many different styles of menu planning that it’s going to take time to find the “right” way to do it for your family.

Oh, and then there’s that whole as seasons change, so must your meal plan. Ha.

So…I think what I’m trying to get at is. Meal plans are good. Very good actually, BUT…you shouldn’t be so rigid about it that you can’t allow for life to happen and change plans. Because really, that would defeat the purpose of that meal plan, wouldn’t it?

The best recommendation I can make for you is this, shop around and pull ideas from lots of folks. Find the one that best fits your family and the current season you’re in (i.e. babies, picky eaters, eat you out of home(ers) or all the above).

Remember why you’re doing it in the first place. To help your family eat well and avoid unnecessary stress about what to feed that little army of yours.

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Keep it simple and don’t forget to add in some fun things…make sure everyone in your family can find something in the mix to get excited about. Trust me, you won’t please every member every day and some days you may not please anyone BUT a good meal plan will help you overall make it easier on you to please them and feed them healthy more often.

Ok. now that all that is out there…here’s a basic run down of how I plan:

*I usually plan my meals Sat/Sun because since Covid craziness became a thing I’ve been shopping weekly on Saturdays (I used to shop biweekly at multiple stores). Now I go to one store and order anything I can in bulk from Amazon. I start planning before I go shopping and then I finalize it after I get back because I still seem to have trouble finding everything I planned to use for meals at one store.

*We have a couple of meals that we do each week like “Friday night Pizza night” & “Taco Tuesday”. This is both fun and gives me a couple of “freebies” each week.

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*I try to have a couple of “back ups” on my radar and in the pantry and freezer. Think homemade Einkorn PBJ or “snack lunch”. Again, life happens and with four kids…it happens a lot and the whole point of all of this is to make life easier not more stressful, right? RIGHT.

*If something from the meal plan doesn’t end up getting used I shift it to the next open day and if necessary sometimes I switch meals from one day to the next…for example, this morning I made tomorrow’s breakfast because I was running behind and tomorrow I’ll make today’s instead.

*Don’t forget to plan what snacks you’ll have available for the week (if you have small kids you know what I’m talking about).

*It’s also a good idea to plan for a couple of desserts for the week too. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice treat a few times a week. And…if you at least plan to bake something you can make sure you have all of the ingredients at home when you go stock up for your week of meals.

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As you can see, I’m pretty easy going when it comes to my meal plan. I don’t have time or mental space for complicated things right now so simple is how I prefer things. If you’ve never done a meal plan but you’re interested in starting one, you can give this little worksheet a try. I created it especially for ya’ll (well…and myself). It is super simple and embarrassingly basic (don’t judge me) but it follows the basic principles I outlined for you and it will get you going.

Weekly Menu Plan

Happy planning people! ❤

 

5 Simple & Practical Ways to Use Essential Oils

If you’ve stopped by here before, you probably already know that Essential Oils are a staple in our home. We use them every day, multiple times per day. There are so many reasons why we chose to start using them and I want to do a post on that as well someday but for today I want to share 5 practical ways we incorporate them into our every day life.

Before I get started, I would encourage you to do your own research. We have done ours and have been using Young Living oils for several years now based on that research. If you have questions about eo’s or Young Living, feel free to ask in the comments. 🙂

Now, onto the 5 simple and practical ways we use our oils daily:

  1. Immune System boost: I set a daily reminder on my phone to get out our Thieves roller so the boys can put some on their feet before bed, along with taking their vitamins. I make sure it’s just before bedtime so I can make sure they’re showered and ready to go by the time the alarm goes off (most of the time anyway). You can also take Thieves internally either in a capsule or in a small amount of water. I tend to take mine orally when I feel like I’m fighting something but for the kids, the roller bottle works the best.

 

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2. Boo Boo’s: Three boys…we have a lot of boo boos. We use a variety of oils for these            since it depends on the type of injury/ailment.

  • We use DiGize for tummy troubles by rolling it on their belly.
  • Then there’s Lavender, Copaiba and Frankincense for various skin issues (Eczema, rug burns, minor scrapes, bug bites). I also use Frankincense for my nightly skincare.
  • Deep Relief for sore legs from growing pains and other similar pains.
  • RC for congestion and sniffles.
  • I have a roller bottle with Oregano, Basil and Thyme that we use for ear aches along with a salt sock (the minerals in the coarse sea salt have healing properties as well as the heat which helps with the pressure and pain…you can add in lavender for added benefits. There’s lots of info on this one and why it works but one of my go to’s is this one: https://wellnessmama.com/59372/lavender-salt-ear-infection-remedy/). By the way, Oregano oil is one of the best antibacterial oils. It’s actually also a great remedy for skin tags…AND removing ticks! It’s a hot oil so you’ll want to research it prior to use but this is one of those oils I’d consider a “must have”.

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3. Aromatherapy: We typically have at least one diffuser going at all times while                   we’re at home. I have one in the kitchen/dining area, one in the living room and                 one in each bedroom. We diffuse everything from Grapefruit for an uplifting mood to Thieves for purifying the air and Lavender or Stress away for a calming scent. Gently baby or Aromaease for night time…there are so many others and it honestly just depends on the mood and situation.

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4. DIY Toiletries: I’ve been making many of our toiletries myself for quite some time             now. Mouthwash with Peppermint oil, handsoap with Thieves oil, Skin ointment                 with Frankincense and Lavender…Deoderant and Chapstick are next on my list of               things to try.

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5. DIY Household products: DIY Household products are also a very big part of our daily eo ussage. I make everything from dishsoap to laundry soap and “soft scrub” with Lemon oil, to dryer balls with Lavender to replace toxic dryer sheets.

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Getting started with essential oils can feel a bit overwhelming at first. Start small. Invest in a good starter kit and get familiar with a few staples. Then add a few more at a time. Do your research and invest in some educational books on oils.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful and if any of you are interested in trying out Young Living, please feel free to let me know in the comments and I’d be happy to help! 🙂

For the month of May, while supplies last, YL is giving away a free Lushious Lemon handsoap with the purchase of a Welcome Home starter kit, CBD starter kit, Ningxia starter kit or Oils Premium starter kit with a Dewdrop or Dessert Mist diffuser.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions about how we use our eo’s. 🙂

 

Summer Bible Study Resources and Activities

Are you wondering how to keep the kids going on Bible study and VBS alternatives? I did some research for my kids as well as some of the kids at church because we were all wondering the same thing…how can we keep them growing and learning and in the habit of church and Bible study when everything is so different.

I wanted to share with you all some of the fun, inexpensive (OR FREE) resources I found while researching options available to us now, in the midst of this strange season.

First, let’s talk about Superbook videos are excellent to add into screen time to reinforce some of your Bible study lessons. We’ve really enjoyed these. All three of my boys (ages 9,7 and 4) have loved watching them. My little guy incorporates these into his “school time” when the older boys need quiet to focus on harder subjects.

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 You can find those here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmkgg5el8Fg3IX_baZyfSaQ

Another great resource are these Answers in Genesis videos and activities for some fun creation related content. These are also free. You could use these along with other resources to do a “creation week” group of summer lessons.

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https://answersingenesis.org/kids/videos/

You can also subscribe for their magazine as well if you’re interested. There’s both a kids version and an adult version.

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https://answersingenesis.org/store/magazine/

If you love watching family friendly movies with your kiddos…check out Pilgrims Progress, you can currently view the movie for FREE with your children by providing your email address! This was a great movie with a wonderful lesson! My boys thoroughly enjoyed it! Just keep in mind there are a couple of spooky parts so if your little one isn’t quite there yet you may want to forgo this one for now. 

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We like to do Friday night pizza and movie night at our house and this would be a great movie for such a night!! Get out the popcorn and treats and ENJOY! 

https://www.revelationmedia.com/watchpilgrims/

Let’s look at some daily Bible study materials next:

You can check out this one by Christian Preschool Printables. It’s a Bible study tool with a 4 day per week/26 week study for kids with printables! All you have to do is download and print!! 

Here are the free coloring pages:

https://christianpreschoolprintables.com/free-bible-abc-coloring-pages/

If you’re interested in the whole study, it’s very affordable at $15.

https://craftyclassroom.com/product/bible-abc-letter-of-the-week/

Another great and very affordable resource would be Teachers pay Teachers’ website, they have many different options for easy & printable worksheets, activities and posters that focus on the fruits of the spirit.

These could be very fun to carry through the summer weeks and then wrap up your study at the end with a fruit themed party! Don’t forget the fruit flavored popsicles and a fruit pizza! 

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Check out the recipe here:

https://pinchofyum.com/fruit-pizza

There are also lots of other free and affordable options for fruits of the spirit lessons if you’re not interested in this particular one. 

Free Fruit of the Spirit coloring pages:

https://ministry-to-children.com/fruit-of-the-spirit-index/

Now VBS is one of those things that my two older boys really love and look forward to but given the circumstances I wouldn’t be ready for that even if it were offered. I’ve been trying to think of some ways to keep the tradition going through all of this and when I stumbled on this I thought this may be a genius alternative to traditional VBS. 

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Check it out… a quarantine friendly VBS option! You can get a family license for $25! 

Here’s what’s included:

Single Family License. . . $25

  • Permission for a single family whose church is not hosting BOLT
  • Access to the “Family Portal” where you will find…
  • 3 days of video content (approx. 25 minutes per day)
  • Parent and Leader Guide with step-by-step instructions
  • Game directions
  • Materials list
  • Coloring sheets
  • Origami instructions
  • Spotify playlist with featured BOLT VBS music by “Citizen Way”

https://www.gocurriculum.com/bolt-vbs

I also wanted to share a couple of books you could use with your kids for Bible study. I’ve personally used and loved both of these. Of course there are many other affordable options out there as well but these two are books we’ve used often and know well. 

The first one”Know Your Bible for Kids” includes very short quick lessons on various topics. Perfect to use with a preschooler because it’s short and sweet and includes a verse to go with the lesson that could be shortened as needed for the younger kids. You can get it on thriftbooks.com for under $6.

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The second one is a little more expensive but still very reasonable. We have used it for homeschooling, but it’s also a fantastic resource for family Bible study whether you homeschool or not! It’s called “Art and the Bible for Children” and includes short Bible stories and that’s followed by an art lesson.

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Christianbook.com has it for under $17. My kids have loved this one for several years.

The last thing I wanted to share with you is the Ark Encounter

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Learn more about it here: https://arkencounter.com/about/.

Now I realize that this may not be happening in the next couple of weeks, but from what I understand this whole year, all children under 10 get in free. Given that circumstances, they may even extend that offer into next year (that’s my hope… so I’m keeping this one on my radar). If you like to take educational field trips during breaks or you’re just looking for a fun family activity once things get back to normal, then this could be something of interest for some of you. 

There’s no denying it. It’s going to be a different kind of summer for all of our kids this year. One like we’ve never had before. I still believe that with a little bit of extra effort and creativity we’ll be able to make it a memorable one. Most of all, I’m hoping that the most memorable part of it will be extra time spent together as a FAMILY.

 

Easy DIY Handsoap With Essential Oils

soap2Let’s talk about handsoap. It plays a very important part in keeping our family healthy. Particularly in light of all that’s currently going on in the world with this Coronavirus. I’ve seen friends posting on facebook and instagram about stores running out of handsoap and having to go to multiple stores to find some over the last few weeks so I wanted to share this quick and easy DIY handsoap tutorial because handsoap is not something we can go without, especially during times like this.

Around our home, with 4 little children and 2 adults, we go through A LOT of handsoap. Depending on the kind of soap you’re buying, that can get a little pricey. We generally opt for all natural products in our home and that means we often have to pay a little bit more for certain products. Handsoap is one of those items.

The good news is that buying the ingredients to make a natural & effective handsoap here at home works out to be much less expensive. I also typically always have the ingredients around the house as long as I keep myself well stocked so I don’t ever have to worry about running out of soap and having to run to multiple stores to find handsoap.

So, let’s get started on making some natural & effective handsoap!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Soap dispenser bottles

A couple of years ago I switched to these foaming handsoap bottles because it seems like the kids don’t waste quite as much of it this way.

I have both glass and plastic bottles currently. I prefer glass but I also use the plastic ones for the bath soap I make for my kids. I purchased these from Amazon and so far they’ve worked quite well.

Pure Liquid Castile Soap

I’ve used Dr. Bronners Baby Unscented for many years. I usually purchase the big bottle because I use it for handsoap, bath soap and dish soap as well.

Essential Oils

You could leave this ingredient out if you don’t have any but honestly, I think it’s 100% worth it to invest in at least a few quality essential oils for your home.

I’ve tried many different brands over the years. For the last few years, I’ve used Young Living oils because I trust their quality. I don’t buy separate oils for my household products and personal products so it’s important that our oils are safe for us to use on our bodies as well as internally, not just for our cleaning products. I can trust Young Living to be safe and effective for our family so after researching them myself, that’s my number one choice. 

I use Essential oils in my handsoap to help kill bacteria and viruses (they smell so good too). Thieves oil and Citrus blend works extremely well for handsoap, dishsoap and cleaning products. You can look into that some more here:

https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/thieves-essential-oil-blend

https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/citrus-fresh-essential-oil-blend

*Be sure to do your own research on oils. If you’re interested, you can check out Young Living’s seed to seal quality commitment and its three pillars- sourcing, science and standards right on their website! They’ve been doing this for 25 years and have made it their mission to be the best available on the market. You can also ask me as well! 

The only other ingredient you’ll need is water. 

So, now that you know what you’ll need, let’s get started. This is literally so easy to make that you’ll have handsoap for all the bathrooms in minutes!

Step one: 

Fill the bottle about 1/4 of the way with castile soap. It doesn’t have to be exactly 1/4 but try to get it to about 1 part soap 3 parts water.

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Step 2:

Add about 7 drops of Thieves oil and 3-5 drops of Citrus oil.

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Step 3: 

Fill the rest of the dispenser with water. Just make sure you leave some space at the top to add in the pump.

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That’s it! It’s so easy and believe me, it works! It smells pleasant and saves you money! Give this soap a try…you won’t regret it!

Hang in there guys! Hopefully this Covid19 nightmare will be over soon! Make sure you stay home as much as possible and wash those hands!

DIY Laundry Soap

It’s been a chaotic and uncertain time for many of us these past couple of weeks so this space has been quiet a bit longer than I’d intended. Fortunately we are all well in my home and I pray those of you reading are healthy too!

As promised, I wanted to share a simple tutorial on making inexpensive (and easy) laundry soap. The more things you can make from home (using simple ingredients that we typically keep at home in bulk anyway) the less trips to the store you have to make. At the moment that’s a wonderful thing!

Even when life returns to normal, skills like making your own laundry soap help make life a little slower and more simple. If you’re like us and living on a small budget, DIY laundry soap along with other simple laundry ingredients and accessories, will save you quite a bit of money. 

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Here’s some info on the basic items that I buy regularly and try to keep on hand at all times:

A large jar like this one is what I use to store my powder laundry soap. You can find these at Walmart for roughly $9. I believe this one is their Anchor Hocking line. I can’t remember where I got the scooper from but I am pretty sure I didn’t buy it. It came from some other packaged item.

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Next, you’ll need washing soda, borax, baking soda and Fels Naptha bar soap. I usually buy the large box or bag of baking soda but during my last grocery run they didn’t have any so I had to settle for the little boxes. I usually keep multiple boxes and bars at the house so I have extra and can make it without having to run to the store for ingredients. With 4 kids I have a lot of laundry and make a lot of this stuff!

I also bought a grater from the dollar store that stays with my laundry supplies specifically for making laundry soap.

The washing soda is approximately $4 per box. The baking soda is $4 for a 5lb bag. The borax is $4.50 and the Fels Naptha bar is less than $1.

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In addition to the ingredients listed above, I have purchased the dryer balls in place of dryer sheets. Mine are old and need to be replaced so I’ve been looking around on Amazon for a replacement. These are what I’m going to be ordering soon:

SnugPad Wool Dryer Balls XL Size 6 Pack, Natural Fabric Softener 100% Organic Premium New Zealand Wool, Chemical Free and Reduces Wrinkles, 1000+ Loads

They go for about $9 on Amazon.

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Lastly, I use white vinegar in place of fabric softner as needed. Walmart has it for less than $3 for one gallon. I store some in a small glass jar with a lid to make it easier to use.

Ok, so now you know approximately what it’ll cost to get you started and what ingredients you’ll need. Now lets talk about what to do to put it all together. It’s going to take you about 10 minutes at most to make it. It really is that simple.

You’re going to fill about 1/4 of the jar for each of the powders (baking soda, borax and washing soda). Leave about 1/4 of the jar for the bar soap.

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Next, you need to shred the soap into fine shavings and add it in. Then mix it all together with a spoon.

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Now you have about a gallon of laundry soap. Depending on how much laundry you do, this will last you quite a while. I think for us it usually lasts about 2 weeks. I typically will use about a scoop to 1 1/2 scoops depending on the size of the load. The soap works very well to remove odor and stains. In fact, for stubborn stains, keep a whole bar of Fels Naptha on hand and soak the item in cold water and rub with the bar soap. Be sure to always use cold water with stains.

Side note: if you want the laundry to have a stronger scent when you pull it out of the dryer, you can add some drops of your favorite essential oils to the dryer balls. I really enjoy using Young Livings Lavender or Geranium oils for my laundry.

Another laundry tip: if you have problems with mildew odors in towels, use hot water to wash them and add a few drops of Melaluca oil. It’s an antifungal and significantly decreases that problem.

You can use this laundry soap on all of your laundry, delicates, towels, baby clothes and cloth diapers!

You can check out my post on what cloth diapers we use here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/02/26/cloth-diapering-essentials-favorites/

You can also check out how I care for our cloth diapers here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/03/08/caring-for-cloth-diapers/

I hope you find this information helpful and that it inspires you to live more simply.

Feel free to share any great laundry tips and tricks in the comments! 🙂

Stay healthy friends!

Caring for Cloth Diapers

So you’ve picked out the perfect cloth diapers and accessories, you’ve placed the order and now you have to figure out how to take care of them once they arrive. Rest assured, it’s really much easier than most think. There’s a plethora of information out there on caring for cloth diapers but honestly it’s largely a matter of preferance.

Getting Started:

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you check the manufacturer’s instructions and warranty info.

Generally you’re going to have to wash your diapers multiple times prior to using. This helps the diapers absorb better. I usually wash them about three times before the first use.

You’ll want to be careful with laundry soap. Choose one that does not contain a lot of fragrance, enzymes, softeners, etc. I make my own using a few simple ingredients. I’ll share the recipe for my laundry detergent with you in the next post so stay tuned if you’re interested. It’s easy, inesxpensive & works very well.

You can use plain white vinegar along with the detergent to help soften and deoderize if needed once you start using them.

Drying your cloth diapers is going to depend on your preference/manufacturer. I’ve seen lots of different opinions on drying the diaper shell in the dryer, but generally drying the insert seems to be fine. During the warmer months I dry the shell on a drying rack outside in the sun. When it’s cold out, I prefer to dry them in the dryer because it just takes too long to air dry.

Regular Washing:

Once you start using the diapers, you’ll want to make sure to wash them about every three days. So roughly twice a week.

I store the dirty diapers in a garbage can with a wet bag in it.

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Since my daughter’s still breastfeeding a lot, her poop isn’t solid enough yet to use the diaper sprayer, but once it gets to that point I’ll be spraying the poop into the toilet prior to placing the diaper in the can/wet bag. For now all I do is open the diapers and take apart the shell/insert & take out any cloth wipes. I place everything in the washer together, along with the wet bag.

Next, I run the rinse & spin cycle on my washer with cold water.

After that, I change the soil setting to “extra heavy” and use hot water and detergent/vinegar.

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At this point I will either hang them to dry or place them in the dryer with my wool dryer balls. I usually have to dry them for two cycles to get them completely dry.

Once they’re dry, I sort through everything and get them ready to use.

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That’s it! Super easy and takes only a little extra effort and time.

In addition to regular washing, I usually “strip” my cloth diapers about every six months or so depending on how they smell/perform. Over time oils and dirt build up causing the diapers to hold onto odors and leak. I will say, I’ve had very few issues with this brand and even after nearly 10 months I still haven’t had to go through the process yet! If you’d like more info on what kind of diapers we’re using and loving, check out my previous post here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/02/26/cloth-diapering-essentials-favorites/

Stay tuned for a post on my DIY detergent next! I’ll also be sharing a post on stripping your cloth diapers to freshen them up every so often.

I hope you found this post encouraging and helpful if you’re new to cloth! There’s a lot to love about cloth diapers! If you have used cloth and you have some great tips, please share them in the comments! 🙂

Cloth Diapering Essentials & Favorites

Have you ever thought about cloth diapering but weren’t sure you could handle the extra work involved? Did you think it would be to expensive to get started? Thought there was too much to learn? It seems so complicated…I’ve been there too. When I was pregnant with my first son almost a decade ago now, I was doing a lot of research on natural living and one of the things I’d wanted to try so badly was cloth diapers. Unfortunately it took a while after he was born for me to finally work up the nerve to try it out. Even since then, there have been seasons where we only cloth diapered part time or not at all for a time (with my second son I worked full time and was in grad school), but we never fully gave it up with either of our four children and overall we have grown to love it. With baby number 4, we’ve almost exclusively used cloth since she was big enough. I say almost exclusively because we do drop her off at the nursery at church where they’re typically not familiar with cloth diapers so we use disposables there. We also have periods where baby just gets too wet at night for the cloth diaper so it’s just easier to use a disposable at night. You could certainly just change baby half way through but for now this as been working best for me. Once they don’t nurse as often through the night and no longer get so wet, we go back to cloth diapering through the night. So now that you know some of the back story, let’s talk about what we use and how we use it.

First of all, I’m pretty simple when it comes to most things. Cloth diapering is no exception. I only use what I truly need and try to get it for a good price.

What you really need:

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  • Approximately 15-20 cloth diapers (and a basket to store them in)
  • bottle for water
  • cloth wipes
  • wet bag for dirty diapers (as well as a trash can to store it in)
  • cloth diaper friendly ointment
  • diaper sprayer

I bought a couple of smaller wet bags for when we cloth diaper on the go this time but honestly I don’t need them that often. They are nice to have but I wouldn’t consider them a necessity. You could always use a grocery bag for wet diapers if you wanted to save that money.

The Diapers:

Between the four kiddos I have used a wide variety of diapers, prefolds, pocket, all in one. The prefolds worked wonderful but I didn’t like how bulky they were. I used those with my third son and wanted to switch with my daughter. I didn’t have any of the diapers left from my first two so I ended up buying all new diapers. I am able to use the inserts from the new diapers with the shell from the old ones which is nice but I have enough shells for her to where I’ve contemplated selling or donating all of those with the prefolds.

I’ve used some of the pricey diapers and frankly don’t think they were worth the extra expense.

With Everleigh I settled on these Alva baby diapers and we have loved them! They are adorable, easy to use and care for and well made! Here’s the best part, they’re super affordable!

I purchased mine from Amazon for about $30. They came in a set of 6 covers and 12 inserts.

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Wipes:

I use mostly reusable cloth wipes. It just made the most sense with cloth diapers because I just keep it all together in the pail and then throw everything in the washer. The wipes I bought from Amazon are nice and thick, soft and easy to care for.

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These are by Babygoal (bamboo) $8.99 for 12! I think I purchased 2 sets for a total of 24 which is more than enough for us. Compared to the price of disposable wipes and it’s no extra laundry since I’m already washing the diapers.

The bottle I use was free, it came home with me from the hospital. I’ve used baby castile soap mixed with water but most of the time it’s just water.

The Wet bags:

This is the wet bag that I purchased, also from Amazon. It’s by Alvababy, like the diapers. This one is their large bag. It has great reviews and has held up very well. I wash mine every time I was a load of diapers. It’s inexpensive at $14.99

Then I also have the small ones (from Amazon). They came in a two pack for $9.99!

The Diaper cream:

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I’ve used a few different ones over the years but I always come back to this one. It’s by Grandma El’s and comes in a 3.75 oz tub for $12.99 from Amazon. It typically lasts me about 6 months even when I use it almost daily (all of my kids have had sensitive skin).

The Sprayer:

I purchased this one by Easy Giggles from Amazon for $29.99. I haven’t had to use it much yet but I know those days are coming and it’s so much easier having a sprayer (I’ve done without one at times and wanted to make sure I had one this time). It has over 1,200 reviews and almost 5 stars so I think we’ll be happy with this one. The price is great and from what we can tell it looks well made. It’s installed and ready to go for when we need it.

That’s it! Store them in a pretty basket, ready to use just like disposables.

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If you add everything up, that comes to less than $200. I’ve been using the same diapers and wipes for almost a year now and I’m on my second jar of ointment. That’s a price I feel good about. It honestly pains me to buy the disposable diapers when I think about how quickly they’re gone yet how expensive they are.

I hope you feel inspired to make the switch! You won’t regret it!

Next up, I’ll share with you what I do to care for my cloth diapers.

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Homemade Butter & Buttermilk

I’ve been baking bread for a long time. The store bought stuff just doesn’t compare. It’s worth the extra time and work every time! So what do you do with a fresh loaf of homemade bread?! You pair it up with some fresh homemade butter, of course! It sounds crazy…making your own butter, I know. A couple of years ago I was a little nervous to try it. If you have a mixer, it’s basically making overwhipped whipped cream! Within a few minutes you can turn a 32 oz bottle of heavy cream into about two sticks of butter. Just make sure to stay by the mixer because it goes pretty quickly and if the mixer is turned up too high it’ll make a terrible mess. I recently stepped away for a “second” to change a diaper and returned to buttermilk splashed all over the mixer, the counter, the floor. It wasn’t pretty.

Here’s what you need:

32 oz bottle of heavy cream

bottle or jar to store the buttermilk in (I reused a bottle from juice)

mixer with whisk attachment

butter dish and parchment to store the finished butter in (I put one in the dish and store the other in parchment in the fridge)

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Step One: pour the whole bottle of cream into the mixer and set to about medium speed.

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You can see the bubbles starting to form.

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Getting close to “soft peak” whipped cream.

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Step two: Here we’re at about overwhipped whipped cream stage. At this point I would turn the mixer down just a little.

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It’s getting thicker now. Not much longer before it starts to separate.

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Step three: it’s separating now and most of the solids will stick to the whisk attachment.

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Check out that buttermilk! It’s great for biscuits, pancakes, homemade ranch and more!!!

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Step four: take the butter out of the mixing bowl and work out the rest of the buttermilk using either your hands or a wooden spoon/spatula.

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Step five: shape the butter the way you like it. Sometimes I leave it like this but most of the time I separate this into two sticks of butter.

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Step six: pour buttermilk into your jar or bottle. I generally prefer glass over plastic.

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There you go! Six easy steps to fresh butter and buttermilk!

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Now make yourself some English muffins and enjoy! 🙂

english muffin

Homemade Sour Dough Tortillas

Today I’m sharing a family favorite with you guys! We thoroughly enjoy a good burrito in our house! They’re even more tasty (and healthy) with these homemade sour dough tortillas.

So let’s get started…

What you’ll need:

*see full recipe and instructions at the bottom of the post

  • all purpose flour (I prefer something unbleached like the King Arthur or Arrowhead Mills Organic)
  • salt (I like either a regular fine sea salt or fine pink himalayan)
  • olive oil (just a plain old olive oil will do)
  • water (I typically use hot water)
  • sour dough starter (you can omit this if you prefer to make them without it, just use less flour)

A few notes…

This is a great recipe for beginners because there’s truly not much to it! The hardest part is rolling out the tortillas thin enough and getting them flat in the pan. That just comes with practice. After the first few it’s smooth sailing. The dough is so simple to make, anyone can do it. There’s no special technique required! Make sure your pan is good and hot but not too hot. I prefer a cast iron skillet. Here’s what I use:

https://grocery.walmart.com/ip/Lodge-Pre-Seasoned-12-Inch-Cast-Iron-Skillet-with-Assist-Handle/5969633

The tortillas usually keep well in a ziplock bag for about a day or two.

That’s pretty much it! So easy!

Here’s a few photos of the process:

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Homemade Sour Dough Tortillas

  • Servings: 10-12 tortillas
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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Ingredients:

4 to 4 1/2 c all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 c sour dough starter

1/4 c olive oil

1 2/3 c hot water

Directions: 

  • Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (Start with about 4 cups of the flour and add more if necessary)
  • Add in sour dough starter
  • Add in olive oil and hot water
  • Combine (add additional flour to dough until it’s no longer sticky)

**Generally when I make this recipe I like to allow the dough to sit for a few hours prior to making the tortillas to maximize health benefits from the starter, but if I’m in a pinch and I need them fast, I’ve made them right away with no problem at all. The beautiful thing about these tortillas is that they don’t need to “rise” so they don’t take nearly as long as a loaf of sour dough bread.**

Flour the surface you’re working on and set out your dough,

Separate into 10-12 small dough balls.

Roll out the dough balls very thin and place in the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side on medium heat.

Frugal Homeschooling: Bird Unit Study

Let’s be honest, homeschool supplies can get pretty expensive…especially when you’re buying supplies for multiple students. With a little creativity, research and help from fellow homeschooling mom’s sharing their ideas, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Today I’m going to share a few things we used for our Bird unit nature study. Some of the ideas and worksheets were completely free thanks to fellow bloggers (I’ll share the links in case you’re interested as well as to give credit to the ladies who created these items).

First, let’s talk about a couple of the books that I’ve purchased over the last few years as part of the kids’ school supplies:

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We use this guide quite frequently since we have a lot of birds visiting us on a daily basis. Whenever we spot a new bird we try to figure out what it is and it’s been wonderful to see the kids getting excited to look them up and find out more information. We got this one off of www.christianbook.com. It’s very inexpensive at $5.49 and covers the birds you’re likely to find in your backyard. It’s easy to read and understand.

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Next up, is Anna Botsford Comstock. I bought my copy at christianbook last year, but you can also get this one (and lots of others) here: www.thriftbooks.com. I’ve been very happy with this website in the past and have gotten some great prices on school books from there.

This book is a classic, originally written in 1911. It’s a detailed book, covering a large variety of information. I haven’t used this one as much as I suspect we will in the years to come as the kids advance in school. Even now though, it serves me well when I need some extra information on a particular thing we’re studying.

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The next one is this nature reader by Christian Liberty Press. My kids have thoroughly enjoyed these nature readers. We’re currently on book 2 but book 1 happened to have some info on birds we went back and reviewed for this unit study.

This one can also be found at www.christianbook.com.

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This little nature book was a wonderful gift to the boys from their Aunt and Uncle this past Christmas and is a great resource for nature study for the younger kids!

Check out the bird section:

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I was able to find it at www.amazon.com for $10.45.

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Next up, My baby Blue Jays. This one is around $5 at www.thiftbooks.com/. We were actually able to get this one at Goodwill for less than that. It’s a great addition to our library and has some sweet pictures for the kids to look at.

Now let’s talk about some fun free things to add into a thrifty bird unit.

First, we’ve been collecting bird feathers any chance we get. We also had a sweet little bird nest, but little curious fingers inspecting it regularly kind of took its toll. We’ll be keeping an eye out for another one but had to do without this time around. Kids love seeing and feeling the things they’re learning about so it’s definitely a great idea to get out there and help them find the real thing outdoors.

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Next, look around online for freebies like these gems below. There are lots of homeschooling mammas out there who are trying to help other homeschooling mammas. I will say, this process can be a little time consuming so you do have to set some extra time aside to be able to weed through the things that either aren’t truly “free” or just aren’t exactly what you were looking for.

Check out these blogs for the free printables of the worksheets below as well as some other ideas on compiling a Bird unit.

Julie Kieras http://happystronghome.com/bird-study-unit-lesson-plans/home.com (Bird coloring page).

Tina Robertson https://www.tinasdynamichomeschoolplus.com/free-bird-journal/ (Bird identification key)

Busy Bee Kids Printables http://www.busybeekidsprintables.com/Bird-Printables.html Word search)

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Here’s a brief video on Youtube that identifies some common backyard birds.

Some other things that could be incorporated are:

Bible verses 

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Luke 12:24

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

Psalm 50:11

I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine.

Matthew 10:29
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.

Hymns & Poems

Emily Dickinson’s A Bird Came Down the Walk

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/56593/a-bird-came-down-the-walk-359

Civilla Martin’s His Eye is on the Sparrow

https://www.godtube.com/popular-hymns/his-eye-is-on-the-sparrow/

I hope you’ve found some helpful information in today’s post! Let me know if there’s other homeschool related posts you’d be interested in reading. I have a few I’m planning out already but I’d love to get some feedback on what you’d like to see more of.

Check out our DIY Bird feeders we made for the craft portion of our unit here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/01/13/diy-pinecone-birdfeeder/

I’ll leave you with some pictures of my adorable little researchers 🙂

Happy bird watching!!

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