Why I am NOT a Minimalist (But I Hate Clutter)

I used to think of myself as a minimalist. This is, of course, completely laughable, since I have actually never “lived with less.” I have three wardrobes (pre-baby, maternity, and post-baby crazy-weight-loss). I have multiple pairs of earrings, just because. I have a dvd collection.

Last week, I wanted to challenge myself to dig in to why I have “things.” I watched the Netflix documentary, “The Minimalists,” which focuses on the bloggers behind theminimalists.com and one of their tours. While I learned good tips for packing for extended trips and remembered all those things I wanted to trade for Amazon gift cards, it also ignited some great discussions with Peter.

Life is meant to be enjoyed.

If I love to read but get rid of all my books just so I can say I am a minimalist, I missed the point of minimalism.

If dressing with a bit of flair gives me confidence and I get down to just a few pieces of plain mix-and-match clothing just to say I am a minimalist, I missed the point.

Peter and I had a long discussion about this, and here’s how it ended:

Me: “in the documentary, one of the bloggers says that if you love books, if you read voraciously, if you love the way the pages smell when you turn them, don’t get rid of them. Books are valuable to you. The important thing when downsizing is to give space to the valuable and shed the unnecessary weight of the other “things” in your life.”

Peter: “Amanda, that’s not minimalism, that’s plain common sense.”

Life isn’t an “-ism.”

Life is to be lived fully and enjoyed and YES, we need to shed the weight of the things holding us down. For me, that means going through my items and downsizing, but not just to downsize. I need to get rid of things that waste my time (maintenance on items I don’t use or like), waste my space (storing clothes I don’t like, etc), or that waste my energy. After finally admitting to myself that not only will I never actually finish a couple sewing projects, but I wouldn’t wear them even if I did, I finally threw them away. I had lost the pattern a long time ago anyway, and this fabric was just sitting in my closet, reminding me every time I opened it that “I really need to just get around to finishing that.” NOPE! It is gone, and my mind is freer, along with my closet.

I really did enjoy the documentary, and the conversations it sparked. Our home is very clean, but warmly decorated. If we were to get rid of anything that we didn’t absolutely need, sure, I would have less dishes to do, but there wouldn’t be anything on the walls, any games to play as a family, or much workout equipment. We would not enjoy life.

I love Marie Kondo’s mantra in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, where she encourages people to get rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy.” I think people can mistake nostalgia or vague positive thoughts “aww, my 27-year-old box of Better Homes and Gardens magazines! I’m saving those to look through at some point because that sounds like fun,” as sparking joy, but it does not. It sparks an idea of joy, but also guilt, because seriously, when will you actually go through them? What will you do with them after you read them? Throw them into the recycle bin and free up space in your life and home to do things you actually enjoy on a regular basis. This will spark joy.


{This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}

How to Save Money on Healthcare

It’s no secret that “health”care is extremely expensive here in the United States. Most insurance plans are expensive and so when Peter and I looked over our options we decided to keep major medical insurance (just in case of a catastrophe) and get rid of our dental and vision insurance, even though I’m blind as a bat without glasses or contacts.

Last year was a pivotal year for us financially, so we started making small improvements to our health. An updated eye exam for me became a priority. As always, my goal was to be as frugal as possible.

I hopped on Groupon and found all sorts of deals on vision exams and glasses! We spent $20 on purchasing a full eye exam, plus another $54 on a contacts exam and a free pair of contacts. The doctor gave me a prescription, so I ordered 3 boxes of contacts from 1800contacts and they were delivered in two business days (free shipping on your first order!) for $88. $5 on some solution and a contacts case, and for less than $200 I got well above $400 worth of services and products.

To save even more money, I bought my groupon through my Swagbucks account and earned 518 points, which is a little over $5 back. It’s the little things, friends.

Groupon has all sorts of deals for health care, including massage, chiropractic care, and even dental cleanings. Since we oil pull and use homemade remineralizing toothpaste I’m hoping we won’t need a dentist anytime soon. We have both noticed our teeth have never been stronger or felt cleaner than when we started our regimen of using homemade products.

In conclusion, this hippie household runs on homemade when possible and groupons when necessary.

If you’re looking to save money in other areas, especially at the grocery store, be sure to get your own copy of my free ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition!

{This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}

What Energizes You?

Last night, Crystal Paine posted the first video in her 15 Days to a Healthier You series (I’m so sorry, registration is closed!). Since I have rearranged my evenings for more family time, I watched it this morning during my “me time.” She asked everyone to think of what energizes us vs what drains us. I happened to be in the middle of something that energized me, so I stopped and made a video about it. Also, I never realized how often I say “delicious.” Maybe I should work on that.

Side note: this is my first post of the new year! I’ve been busy working on lots of behind-the-scenes for the blog. I also had a lot of other things going on in my life this past week. I had a cold at the very end of the year and decided to prioritize sleep above getting up and blogging, we went out of town for a wedding (review of the place we stayed coming soon!)…it was just a lot. I’ve also been talking with brands of products I love in hopes of working with them on the blog! There’s also Pinterest courses (did you know there are courses on how to do Pinterest?? There are, and they are wonderful).

Why I Gave Up Coffee for January

Coffee is a huge part of my life. We are on a first-name basis with all the baristas at our local coffee shop, my precious Mother-in-Law gave me a coffee poster for Christmas (which I love and it’s hanging in our kitchen), and it’s even part of every social media bio about me. Coffee and I are BFFs.

But starting now, and through the month of January, we are going to spend some time apart.

Truthfully, I had never considered giving up coffee up until a couple weeks ago. My blogging idol Crystal Paine announced that she (another coffee fiend like myself) had not had coffee in 12 weeks. Along with some other nutritional changes, she had given up coffee and was experiencing amazing energy! The thought grew in the back of my mind “maybe there’s something to this…

I started paying more attention to my coffee habits. I typically pour my coffee into a travel mug just before I leave for work. But once I finished it, I was much more likely to go fill it up with more coffee than with water. I started waking up earlier each day to work on this blog before my workday begins, and drinking my coffee there. No travel mug at work = no extra coffee. And then I realized how thoroughly dehydrated I am.

So yesterday, I did it. I said no to coffee. I took an extra dose of my salad bar capsules for extra nutrition (and to ward off a raging migraine). I drank a hot cocoa. I had two mugs of tea. When we went to the coffee shop, I ordered a horchata. I had a mild nagging headache, but I managed to get through it. And I drank so much water.

I’m giving up coffee for January for my health. I do not like being dependent on something other than myself and my food choices for energy. I do not like feeling tied to it and getting sick if I don’t get it. I want to see how energized I can feel naturally. And hey, it might lead to more healthy changes – like getting the proper amount of sleep and actually drinking water.

Inspired by her newfound zest for life, Crystal has designed a 15 Days to a Healthier You program, and she’s offering it for $15. That’s $1 a day! Unlike her other programs, this is not all pre-recorded, complete-whenever courses. This is live and interactive. Along with the workbook, there is a private Facebook group and videos to watch each day. She won’t be instructing that everyone give up coffee,  but she will be sharing how whole food nutrition is changing her life and, in many ways, giving her her life back.

Completing this program is one of my goals for 2017. Will you join me and take the steps towards a healthier life? Hurry – enrollment is open now but closes January 3!

I’m excited to see how good I feel in 2017.


{This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}

Reflections on 2016, and Planning for 2017

Reflections on 2016

It shocks me on a daily basis that it’s almost 2017. Our little family had a crazy year! Here’s a quick recap:

February: moved to Iowa

July: I published my first ebook! (pssst! You can get it for $0.99 through the end of the year!)

September: became debt free!

October: Peter graduated from college

When you throw in several visits back to St. Louis (and several visits by others to here), making new friends, turnover at my job, Tristan turning two, and just getting used to a new routine here, I am both exhausted and exhilarated.

2016 was way different than we ever imagined it would be, but we still managed to achieve all of our goals.

I am also learning more about blogging and freelancing. I studied to be a nurse since I was 3 years old. With this blog, I get to not only hone my writing skills, but also learn marketing, business strategy, law, photography, graphic design, and HTML coding. Every change I make to the blog, I do myself. Thank goodness for tutorials and YouTube! I’ve even conquered my fear of live video.

Planning for 2017

I believe in keeping goals simple. At the end of the week/month/year I want to look back and know that I actually accomplished what I set out to do. I also know that this time of my life requires more flexibility since I have a toddler and a work schedule that can be unpredictable. So with all this in mind, here are my goals for 2017:

Personal Goals

  • Complete the 15 Days to a Healthier You challenge in January (will you join me? HURRY – enrollment is only open through January 3!)
  • Complete 2 yoga challenges and 1 CouchTo5k challenge
  • Quit coffee for the month of January.

Family Goals

  • Save a certain amount (I will update you all on our progress by %).
  • Take an actual family vacation.
  • Find a meal plan system that works for us and stick with it.
  • Grow a garden. 

Business Goals

  • Get my blogging/writing done early before my family wakes up. I love blogging, but I do not want it to interfere with family time.
  • Complete 2 Pinterest improvement challenges. Keep track of numbers before and after to see if it’s making any difference.
  • Stick to an organizing system for income and expenses.
  • Transition to a different hosting platform for the blog.
  • Post in CHL at least 4 days/week
  • Send at least one newsletter a week (be sure to subscribe! I share what I’m learning, what kinds of fun things we discovered, and good deals if I find them)
  • Submit at least one freelance/guest blog post every week

I will do my best to give monthly updates on all of this progress. If you are subscribed to our newsletter, you will get a more behind-the-scenes look at our goals (like how January will go without coffee…I’m a little nervous!).


{This post contains affiliate links. Please read our full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}

Urban Garden Wish List

I am a firm believer that “to grow your own food is to print your own money.” Imagine the amount of money that would immediately open up to you if your grocery budget was significantly decreased! Thanks to the Urban Gardening movement, it is now completely possible to grow your own food, even in small spaces.

I’ve been combing through Amazon, putting together my wish list of urban gardening supplies. We are renting, so even though we have a small front yard (no back yard), I doubt my landlord would be too thrilled if I tore up the grass to plant a garden. Some precious friends with a huge farm have graciously offered to let us use a portion of their land for a garden, and I am equal parts humbled and thrilled, which is a very difficult mix of emotions to convey through words. Picture me jumping up and down squealing but also flabbergasted, and that would probably be pretty accurate.

I know many people are in the same sort of renting living situation, so I wanted to share this list and show you how possible it is to have a garden in small spaces, or without the whole plowing and tilling process. Here are some great products that will help you create the urban farm of your dreams:

1. Envirocycle compact compost bin

These are created with small spaces in mind. It comes in two sizes, the 35-gallon (pictured) and the 16-gallon. They sit on the ground and spin easily. Every garden should have at least two (since you need one to fill while the other one “brews” for 6 weeks or so). These guys are even BPA-free! I think they look like snails.

2. Tower Garden

I can’t say enough about these powerhouse growing systems. They are aeroponic growing systems, self-watering, and grow tons of food in 5 weeks or less. No weeding. It’s planting and harvesting, and that’s about it. You can purchase one at a time or a family pack in sets of 3. These can even be brought inside and continue your harvest year-round! To grow in here: lettuce, kale, spinach, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, strawberries, and possibly a melon or two.

3. 20 gallon fabric growing pots

Sometimes, you just need dirt. These pots are made of a sturdy fabric to allow for better drainage and easier air flow to the roots. To grow in these: sweet potatoes (check out this post on growing sweet potatoes in buckets), beets, garlic, and raspberries.

Other items on my wish list for our garden:

Urban apple trees (they are a hybrid that can stay planted in pots!)

Kitchen compost bin.This particular bin is great for under the counter storage. I used to have a countertop storage system and even though I kept up with it, it had an odor. With this, I can lock the  container closed and keep it under a cabinet. Less odor = happier family.

Harvesting Bushel Tote bag – to bring in all your delicious fresh produce!

Miracle-Gro AeroGarden – Absolutely, positively cramped for space? This little guy can even fit anywhere!

I am so excited to get my garden this year!

Want even more tips for gardening and DIY? Get access to ebooks, webinars, printables, and more with the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle and the Ultimate Herbs and Essential Oils bundles flash sale December 28-29, buy one for $29.97 and get the second for $15!

{This post contains affiliate links. All opinions entirely my own. Please read my full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}

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{Guest Post} Easy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am so excited to get to share a special guest post with you all today! Jennifer, from Real Food to Heal, and I have been talking for weeks about guest posting for each other. My post for a DIY facial was just posted last week on her site. Today, Jennifer has given us an amazing treat – Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip cookies! Be sure to visit her site and check out the rest of her recipes. She has an InstaPot section with incredible soups and other healthy comfort food goodness.

This post contains affiliate links, which do not add any cost to you but help support my {Jennifer} blogging activities if you end up purchasing through Amazon using my link. Please see my full disclosure ​here​.

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies
These cookies are truly a labor of love and we are very pleased to finally share the recipe with you! We have worked hard to make these easy for you 🙂 After months of testing at least one batch per week, we have finally come to the final result. There can be so many variables to consider when making baked goods, and IMHO even more when using alternative ingredients.

These cookies combine my two favorite grain free flours, coconut and tapioca plus a little xanthan gum to hold it together, making them vegetarian, rather than using the grass fed gelatin I use in my ​other cookie recipe​.

It is important to note that little variances in the recipe instructions can make a very different result. Please make sure not to grease your pan too heavily (or at all if it is any sort of non-stick material). Doing this can result in your cookies flaring out and becoming crispy around the edges. If you like this then don’t worry about it, if you don’t then I also recommend letting the cookie sheet fully cool in between batches (chilling it in the freezer for a few minutes is even better!) and also chilling the dough. This was the best result by far so again I encourage you to pay attention to these little details for the most perfect cookies, it is worth the extra steps!

❏ 2 eggs
❏ 1 cup chocolate chips of choice (we like 1/2 milk 1/2 white)
❏ 1 1/4 cup ​coconut sugar ​or 1 cup white and 1/4 cup dark brown-we prefer the
❏ 1 cup ​tapioca starch
❏ 1/2 cup ​refined coconut oil
❏ 1/2 cup ​coconut flour
❏ 1 1/4 tsp ​xanthan gum
❏ 1 tsp sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Chill a baking pan of choice
3. With a stand or hand mixer, beat sugar and oil until well combined
4. Add eggs and let mix until creamy
5. In a separate bowl gently combine all dry ingredients aside from chocolate chips
6. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet mixture and mix until sticky dough
forms-careful these flours create a bit of dust if not mixed slowly!
7. Slowly mix in chocolate chips until well combined
8. Form rounds of cookie dough using 1/2 tbsp to measure, flatten into about 3″
wide cookies (this dough is sticky, so it might be helpful to flour your hands first!)
9. Make sure you space them about 2 inches apart from each other around all sides
10. Bake 8 minutes then let cool for at least 3 min before attempting to remove from
pan, longer is better, they hold together once cooled enough but come apart when
still really warm
11. In between batches, allow the baking pan to cool and chill the dough to prevent
the cookies from flaring out around the edges.
12. Enjoy and store leftovers in a sealed container


About the Authors: Jennifer and Roy Wakumelo
We are a very busy family passionate about eating real food without sacrificing real flavor! All of our recipes are made for busy people who love tasty food. Please let us know how you like the recipe, we love to here from you! Search Real Food To Heal to find us on social media and please su​bsc​ribe for even more on our blog!

Dear Tristan

Dear Tristan,

Today is your second birthday. These past two years have flown by, and I treasure every memory I’ve been able to make with you.

The day we found out you existed, we spent our last dollar to buy you this sweater. It warms my heart to see that you are now big enough to wear it.

The day you were born is one of my favorite memories. You made the entire process of childbirth magical.

Now here we are, two years later, and you’re the biggest ball of never-ending energy. You have a smile that lights up the darkest room. You love without holding back. You rock out to Daddy’s music with good rhythm. You are insulted if I try to put on your shoes for you, because you can do it yourself. You love anything related to the Minions and you have a tender heart for the hurting.

You are the coolest, T-dawg. I’m so honored to be your Mommy.



Get the Most out of Your Holiday Budget – Part 3: Groupon Coupons

{This post is sponsored by Groupon. All opinions are my own.}

I wrote before about the amazing wonders of Groupon Goods, but did you know that there are also Groupon Coupons?

I am a recovering coupon queen. Yes, I was one of “those people.” I had bookshelves dedicated to my stocks of razors, shampoos, and hair dyes. I had buckets of toothpaste. I had a 5 inch zippered binder that held all of my coupons in neatly organized card pages that was so heavy it set off my airbag alarm. I was addicted to the show Extreme Couponing. I even went dumpster diving at the local dump (once). I was a mess.

I left that life once I went hippie. I started making my own toothpaste, so I stopped purchasing it from the store. I made my lotions and my deodorant and I stopped dying my hair. I stopped buying the Sunday paper, but I still love a good deal and happily use coupons whenever I can.

So let me tell you just how happy I am that Groupon now has coupons for major retailers! For instance, Shutterfly has 13 coupon deals right now – including signing up with Shutterfly and getting a custom magnet, address labels, and 50 4×6 prints, all for free! I love Shutterfly’s frequent deals featuring free prints, but I have never seen one with free prints plus free address labels and a magnet!

Overstock.com has Groupon Coupons right now. I will tell you, my favorite set of sheets came from Overstock and I absolutely love the quality. Their deals are already great, but through the end of the month they have up to 70% off their inventory. I see great deals for everything from furniture to jewelry to clothing – and with free shipping!

If you’re traveling, the Marriott has special deals, including saving 20% off room rates and a free breakfast.

I love holiday shopping, and can’t stand paying full price for anything. Be sure to check out Groupon Coupons before you purchase anything online to make sure you are getting the very best deal!

4 Strange Ingredients for Your Next Cup of Coffee

4ingredientsforyournextcupofcoffeeOh, coffee. My favorite beverage – no calories, energy-inducing caffeine, and warm, full-flavored goodness. My daily hug-in-a-mug.

My usual routine is to just add a splash of cashew milk as a creamer, but sometimes I want a specialty coffee without the specialty price. As I’ve gotten more frugal, I’ve also become more adventurous when it comes to what I add to my coffee. Here are my four favorite additions:

1. Butter

Butter in coffee is…just delicious. The key is to blend the two together, otherwise you end up with butter floating at the top of your mug. Butter (especially grass-fed butter like Kerrygold) is full of good fats. Butter also has fat-soluble vitamins. This coffee concoction is the best with a sprinkle of cinnamon and the tiniest splash of vanilla extract.

2. Coconut oil

Like butter, adding coconut oil to coffee adds healthy fats. Coconut oil has natural antibiotic, anti fungal, and antiviral properties, which helps the immune system. Coconut oil is easily absorbed in the body, making it a good quick fuel for an energy burst and gives your metabolism a boost. This is  a great addition to your morning coffee! Start off with a 1/2 teaspoon or so added to your coffee until your body gets used to it, or you might end up with a pretty significant detox reaction. (Tip: the popular “bulletproof” coffee is a mix of butter and coconut oil!)

3. Collagen Hydrolysate

Collagen is a connective tissue in the body, known for its ability to support muscles and bones with an elastic quality. Adding a spoonful of grass-fed collagen hydrolysate to your coffee each morning will aid your body’s restoration efforts for better joints, stronger hair and nails, and healthier skin. Collagen’s protein is easy to digest, making it a powerful choice for improving your gut health.

4. Raw Eggs

Don’t knock it ’til you try it, raw eggs are amazing in coffee! Eggs are rich in protein, fat-soluble vitamins, and good cholesterol. Check out this post by Elizabeth at Living the Nourished Life to learn more. To make my egg latte, I first blend one or two eggs in the blender and then use a small amount of coffee to temper the eggs before I pour in the remainder of the coffee. Add in some cinnamon and cloves for an eggnog-like drink!

{This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}