Category Archives: Uncategorized

Amanda and the Terrible, Horrible, Hilariously Awful Journey to Nevada

If you missed the announcement last month on Instagram, we are currently living in Nevada! We decided to follow my dream of travel nursing and now get to explore the country. Our first assignment is in a tiny town in northern Nevada, and we love it!

But the journey here was a bit of a comedic atrocity.

Since we will be provided furnished apartments wherever we go, we sold all our furniture and downsized significantly. It was difficult going through our belongings (especially kitchen items!) and deciding what to sell and what to keep. Thankfully, everything we posted sold quickly!

On Wednesday, May 31, we loaded up everything that was left and sent our driver off with the Uhaul. Our first two days of the trip were pretty uneventful (we stopped the first night somewhere in the middle-western side of Nebraska, and the second night in Salt Lake City. We were hoping to meet up with some friends who live in SLC, but that didn’t work out (and you’ll see why).

On the way into Salt Lake, we noticed some people on the highway frantically waving to us. We tried to figure out if something was wrong and they were trying to alert us, until we saw their license plate – not only was it Iowa, but the same county! We waved back, and those of us who weren’t driving were able to communicate towns of origin and trade phone numbers. We texted for awhile and ended up Facebook friends. It was hilarious!

And here begins the “terrible awful:”

I woke up in the hotel in Salt Lake around 5am and noticed Tristan was breathing a bit heavily in his sleep. Poor little guy had a stuffed up nose and a fever. I gave him some water and went back to sleep snuggling him. I woke up just as he threw up on me. So into a tepid bath he went and I got cleaned up. Since we only had a shower stall in Grinnell, he had never had a bath before. He loved it and it perked him right up!

At breakfast, he turned around on my lap to give me a hug and smeared banana and yogurt all over my last clean shirt, so I had to wear one of Peter’s t-shirts.

We stopped somewhere in Wyoming to use the rest stop. I went in and the bathroom looked like it hadn’t been updated in about 40 years. One stall was occupied, one stall was just nasty, one stall was missing a door, and the handicapped stall didn’t lock. I laughed, because what else would be inconvenient today? Little did I know.

The rest of our trip in was pretty uneventful. We very much enjoyed driving into the mountains once we hit Nevada. It was basically a two-lane highway heading straight between two huge mountain ranges. No power lines or street lights to be seen, just nature. It was wild, untamed, and gorgeous.

We arrived to our pre-arranged accommodations at a camp ground shortly after 2pm. We had been told by the agency I work for that we were booked into a single-wide trailer for 3 weeks until a 2-bedroom house became available. Well…

The trailer was literally 20’x10′. The door was so narrow that we could barely fit through. My pregnant belly didn’t fit in the bathroom, and Peter could only just stand up in the shower because there was a skylight dome (that was covered in bugs). I think the campground heard the agency say that we needed someplace for 3 people and thought to themselves “this trailer can sleep up to 5,” not “3 people will actually live in this for 3 weeks.”

After a frantic phone call to the agency “yeah…this is absolutely not going to work” they put us up in a motel for the weekend and promised to find something for us the following week. “But this place has a microwave and a fridge in the room so you don’t have to eat out all weekend!”

Turns out, some of the rooms have a microwave and fridge. Not ours. And the parking lot was too tiny for us to bring the Uhaul back. And all of our clothes were, of course, packed towards the back of the truck.

So there we were, out of clean laundry, out of food, in this tiny town (you guys, Walmart is 240 miles away!). We went to the local store and had to each buy a few new outfits. They didn’t have maternity clothes, so I had to buy a few pairs of pants for work that are several sizes larger than my usual size, just to fit around the belly.

The motel managers moved us to a room with a fridge and a microwave, and the microwave shorted out in the middle of heating up our first round of food. I laughed so hard I fell over and cried. What ELSE was I supposed to do?? The manager replaced the microwave and we were finally able to “cook” our own food for the first time in 4 days.

Monday June 5th was my first day at the new job, and I was so happy to find out that my boss had connections with a local landlord. She explained the situation to him and he said he had a house available that we could move into the next day.

So, we have now been in the house for over a week, it’s fully furnished (with a brand new couch and brand new mattress!), and things have finally settled down. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated simple scrambled eggs or homemade coffee so much in my life.

We spent last weekend going through everything we packed and downsized by 10 boxes. Since the travel nurse life will have us moving every 3-4 months, we wanted to make sure that things are much easier next time. We will be getting a hitch attached to the back of the SUV so we can pull a trailer instead of renting a van and a driver. We will be packing more efficiently, and bring a lot more clothes, just in case!

Throughout everything, I have to say that Tristan has been the absolute best traveler. He adapted so quickly to every situation, and even though he had a fever, he found a way to be content and reasons to smile. His only concern was that he was with Mommy and Daddy and that’s all that mattered. His vocabulary has exploded since the move and he’s averaging 2-5 new words each day. He inspires me daily to find things to be joyful about and teaches me how to approach challenges with confidence.

Oh, and I love my first assignment. The people are so nice and the facility is wonderful (and the view from the front porch isn’t bad, either!)

My completely honest review of Lularoe

I love being a blogger. I get to try all sorts of things and report to you if they are worth your time and money. This time, thanks to a college friend, I get to report on clothes!

I’ve heard of Lularoe for a year or so, but never purchased anything. I have always heard amazing things about their leggings, but I don’t wear leggings as pants so I was never really interested.

I changed my mind once I looked at the catalog and saw all the tunics available. My style is typically a tunic with skinny jeans and ballet flats. So when Melanie asked me to review a baby-bump-friendly tunic and dress, of course I said yes!

I chose a red and blue striped Irma tunic in medium, and an orange striped Carly dress in X-small. I definitely could have ordered the Irma in a small and been totally comfortable. If I get any future Irmas, I will get the small. Even with a baby belly, I would have enough room (for reference, I’m usually a size 4 when not pregnant).

Because I am no stylist, I consulted Pinterest for ways to style my tunic. I chose to pull it in a bit by adding a button and wrapping string around it (you can also use a small hair tie). Belting is also an option. If I were more stylish, I would have such a belt.

Pregnancy update: We are 16 weeks along! I’ve been feeling little movements since about halfway through week 9, and definitely stronger now! Last week my coworkers started to comment that I look pregnant now. I think I’m a pretty good size for being 4 months, personally.

Review: I LOVE these pieces! I was skeptical of the Lularoe signature “buttery softness” that I heard about. Honestly, I thought it was a selling technique; a catch-phrase. Ya’ll, I was wrong. These are so soft, I feel like I’m wearing pajamas but I’m actually dressed for the day! I wear them to work and love that they are professional enough for work and comfortable enough for my growing belly. I also appreciate that these clothes are modest with decent necklines and longer hemlines. It’s unfortunately very difficult to find maternity clothes that are both stylish and modest.

And what is a maternity shoot without a couple family pics?? We had a great afternoon with our photographer/barista friend, Emma Lang! Emma was one of the first people we got to know in this town (at the coffee shop, of course) and she’s absolutely wonderful. Warm, genuine, and expressive, she’s a great friend and made the afternoon so much fun. Her art, Wild Iowa, decorates our home in the form of drawings and Christmas ornaments. She has all sorts of nature-inspired pieces. You can follow her instagram here.

Here is my favorite picture from the entire day! 

 

I survived! (aka, February recap)

2017, goals, goal progress, checklist

It’s embarrassing that I haven’t posted here in almost a month. In complete honestly, I have been avoiding posting anything for about two weeks now, just because I’ve been embarrassed about my lack of blogging.

I make sense.

Here’s a recap of our February, followed by a goals progress report.

I’ve been working an average of about 50 hours/week at my job. Between that, family time, and this whole growing-a-human thing, I’ve been wiped out. Exhausted. And definitely not ready to wake up at 6:30am to work on blogs.

In February I was given inspiration from a friend to start a new blog based on my love of Harry Potter, blogging, and wanting to create good things but not being the best at it on my own. It needs a lot more building work, but I’m hoping to have it live this summer.

We bought our car! In February we paid cash for a new-to-us Ford Escape with less than 100,000 miles, leather interior, a moonroof, and a fancy-schmancy stereo that has so many buttons I still haven’t figured out how to change the time. Tristan is still so excited about it that every time we open the garage, he points to it, lets out a happy yell, and claps excitedly. I’m thrilled that we were able to get a vehicle that is better for our family within our budget. It was a huge encouragement for us to meet that goal so quickly!

2017 Goals Progress:
Personal Goals
  • Complete the 15 Days to a Healthier You challenge in January This was so beneficial for me. It was much more holistic than I had anticipated and I’ve really been mindful of more aspects of health since this course. I’m drinking more water, processing emotions (something that is very difficult for an ESFP personality type like me since we prefer to be happy all the time, even if that means that we have to ignore issues or just hope they go away). Crystal will be hosting another challenge later in the year; be sure to sign up to be notified for the next round!
  • Complete 2 yoga challenges and 1 CouchTo5k challenge. Yeah, no. I didn’t make any sort of progress on this in February. 
  • Quit coffee for the month of January. I did it! I can’t tell if I have any more energy than usual, but coffee is back to being a treat that I choose to enjoy rather than need to survive. It’s more fun to have coffee with Peter on the weekends now that I’m not depending on it to wake up.
Family Goals
  • Save a certain amount (I will update you all on our progress by %). We are 42.5% of the way to our savings goal for 2017. 
  • Take an actual family vacation. We scheduled our vacation for May!
  • Find a meal plan system that works for us and stick with it. This comes and goes depending on our daily schedule and the severity of my pregnancy aversion to whatever is in the refrigerator. Hoping this improves with the second trimester!
  • Grow a garden. I’m actually going to delete this after this month, because we decided to not grow a garden. Between the timing of the baby coming and work and running two blogs and wanting to actually have some time to explore and create and just be a family, we opted instead to continue purchasing from Aldi each week and shopping at the local farmer’s market when it opens.
Business Goals
  • Get my blogging/writing done early before my family wakes up. This has been nonexistent in February due to my increased need for sleep in the last month of the first trimester. 
  • Complete 2 Pinterest improvement challenges. Keep track of numbers before and after to see if it’s making any difference. Not started yet. 
  • Stick to an organizing system for income and expenses. Not started yet. 
  • Transition to a different hosting platform for the blog. Done! Now hosting through Siteground, and their customer service is amazing!
  • Post in CHL at least 2 days/week. Again, nonexistent in February. 
  • 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). This did not happen at all. 
  • Submit at least one freelance/guest blog post every week. This also did not happen at all in February. 

Well, we survived February…and already most of March. I’m looking forward to actually crossing more goals off our list in the March recap!

 

 

{This post contains affiliate links. All links are to items I personally 100% endorse. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}

A Recap of Our January, Goal Progress, and a Big Announcement!

I can’t believe it’s already February! My apologies for not writing this earlier this month; work has been insanely busy with a few managers needing time off and so I needed to work longer hours than usual to keep up with everything.

January Recap:

Even among all the craziness, January was still a great month! The best man from our wedding, Luke, got married at the beginning of the month, so we started the year with a road trip down to the wedding. I found a great deal on hotels.com for a beautiful lodge near the ceremony.

Cedar Creek Lodge was absolutely wonderful! It was originally a conference and corporate retreat center, and they opened up to commercial bookings a few years ago. When we arrived, we learned that they decided not to put us in the more hotel-like atmosphere of the lodge, but instead upgraded us to our own little cottage! Had I been thinking ahead, I would have taken tons of pictures. These cottages are brand new. Everything was pristine and beautiful. The cottage had a king sized bed, plus a twin with a trundle, and vaulted ceilings. We had a screened-in porch with a table, chairs, and twinkly lights. The description stated that breakfast was included, and in the kitchenette we found a basket of fruit, cereal, granola, and muffins. In the mini fridge were bottles of milk and orange juice, and cartons of yogurt. We had supper at their Town Hall restaurant, where I had the best sweet potato fries and veggie club I’ve ever tasted. And I (barely) beat Peter at a game of pool. 🙂

We had just gotten cozy for the night when suddenly – we lost power! I called the number it said to call for emergencies, and the woman told me that there had been a sudden outage in the area and about 1,400 other people were also without power. She said we were welcome to leave and they were going to give us our money back for our stay either way. I told her that since it was 10:30pm, we didn’t know where we were, and we have a toddler, we would stay. We took the blankets off the twin and trundle and that kept us plenty warm. The power turned on again around 7am, and the heater was very welcome. We are already talking about coming back this summer to stay there and enjoy their saltwater swimming pool.

2017 Goals Progress:

Personal Goals

Complete the 15 Days to a Healthier You challenge in January  This was so beneficial for me. It was much more holistic than I had anticipated and I’ve really been mindful of more aspects of health since this course. I’m drinking more water, processing emotions (something that is very difficult for an ESFP personality type like me since we prefer to be happy all the time, even if that means that we have to ignore issues or just hope they go away). Crystal will be hosting another challenge later in the year; be sure to sign up to be notified for the next round!
Complete 2 yoga challenges and 1 CouchTo5k challenge
Quit coffee for the month of January. I did it! I can’t tell if I have any more energy than usual, but coffee is back to being a treat that I choose to enjoy rather than need to survive. It’s more fun to have coffee with Peter on the weekends now that I’m not depending on it to wake up.

Family Goals

Save a certain amount (I will update you all on our progress by %). More on this in a minute.
Take an actual family vacation.
Find a meal plan system that works for us and stick with it. I’m making slow progress with this. We decided that it would save us money to travel 35 minutes each way to head a couple towns over to the nearest Aldi, so we tested this theory on Friday. We were able to get 25-30% more food for the same amount of money that we normally spend each week at Walmart! This week I’m looking forward to marinated pork with roasted brussel sprouts,  spaghetti with meatballs, and quiche. We were able to get 3 dozen eggs for $1 less than 1 dozen here at Walmart! I couldn’t believe it! I’ve missed Aldi so much!
Grow a garden. Not quite the season to check this off yet, but I am in the planning stages of what I want to grow. 

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. I’ve been doing well at this, but when I’ve been getting to work at 7:30 and not getting home till 5, I’ve been too tired this week to get up earlier.
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.  Done! Now hosting through Siteground, and their customer service is amazing!
Post in CHL at least 4 days/week. This needs to change to 2-3 for the rest of the year. I love writing, but as I wrote earlier, I’ve found a better balance if I take a couple days off writing to spend improving the site, focusing on Pinterest, or writing articles for other sites.
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). This happened once this month. I’m thinking these will be a Thursday or Friday night task.
Submit at least one freelance/guest blog post every week. I submitted one in January.

Announcement:

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know this already. On January 6th we found out we are expecting! After two years of struggling with an inability to gain weight, I’ve finally found something that works. I was able to stabilize my metabolism and I think that had a lot to do with being  able to carry another baby. We are currently 8 weeks, due in mid September. No real food aversions right now, but I have noticed a much more intense nausea after eating something sugary. When we were expecting Tristan, I ate a half pan of brownies for breakfast. Now if I eat one brownie, I’m kicking myself for not choosing a piece of fruit. Thankfully I can still (usually) tolerate my chocolate plant-packed protein powder, which I either make into a shake with hemp hearts and coconut milk or I add collage hydrolysate powder and hot water for a delicious mug of 24g of protein and nutrition from 26 plants.

I haven’t really gained any weight yet, but I’ve already had to pack away all my regular pants and switch to the much more comfortable maternity waist band! Coworkers joke with me that I might be having twins and the doctor I work with wants me to get an ultrasound to rule it out. He’s used to my more traditional ways by now, and laughed when I told him “if it’s twins, we will find out eventually!”

I mentioned above that our savings goals have changed. We took one look at our little Chevy and quickly realized that there isn’t enough space for two carseats! We are currently saving up to pay cash for a Chevy Traverse. We looked at an Equinox but decided that if we had more than 3 kids (which is still our goal), we would have to upgrade cars again. We drove a Traverse last summer while our car was in the shop and we loved it, so now we are aggressively saving and will hopefully begin shopping for one in late spring/early summer.

The owners of our rental house are looking to sell, so we did some quick house hunting in the area to see if anything was worth the hassle of a quick move. Ultimately, we decided to sign a new one-year lease, since any new owners have to honor the existing lease. It was a busy week of looking at houses, looking at our budget, and deciding that we are truly happy and content with our current location.

We were also planning a summer vacation trip to Chicago, but after needing to adjust our savings goals, we have decided that staycations are much more within the budget for now.

February Goals:

I found a prenatal yoga course on YouTube that I will be doing this month.

We will continue to save for our new vehicle, and I will continue to work on meal planning and creating good food for my family.

I will create a filing system for income and expense tracking.

I will submit my two articles for February’s contribution to Splendry.

 

I hope you all have a marvelous Monday!

 

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

New morning routine!

I always seem to start the year with ideals. Ideally, I will finish all the dishes and prep for the morning the night before, wake up at 6:30am, and have between 6:30-8 as my designated “blogging” time. Occasionally this happens. More often than not, here’s how much current mornings go and how I am embracing flexibility:

Wake up at 6:30, go downstairs to start the coffeepot (currently for Peter, will be for me again on Wednesday!). While water is heating up, finish the dishes.

Wash my hair. We purchased a new-to-us brand of shampoo a couple weeks ago and accidentally got the kind with extra moisture, which my hair doesn’t like, so I’m washing my hair more frequently (otherwise it looks greasy and gross).

Pack my snacks. I eat lunch at work, but I snack throughout the day. Currently I bring dried figs, walnuts, carrots and hummus, and a piece of fresh fruit. I also bring a cup of bone broth.

Take my salad bar capsules and make a protein shake. I am loving getting to drink chocolate first thing in the morning! My new favorite way is to use some of the hot water from the coffee pot to make my shake into hot cocoa. Hot cocoa with 13 g of protein and nutrition from 24 plants? Umm….yes please!

From about 7:30-8:15am is about the time when I get to sit down to blog. I’ve decided to take the self-placed burden of posting every day off of myself. I’m laying out topics to be able to post several times a week still, but also using that time during some days to connect with other bloggers, work on my freelance articles, write my newsletters, and do some general maintenance behind-the-scenes. This has opened up so much space for me to actually take care of this blog and enjoy it, because now I have the time to get it all done.

By 8:15 it’s time to leave for work, and I can feel accomplished already, knowing that my family is taken care of with a clean kitchen, Peter’s coffee waiting for him in the microwave,  and we all have good food to nourish us.

This morning routine is not exactly how I pictured it at the beginning of the year. And it likely will not stay this way as I continue to work on my goals for this Year of Discipline. I usually turn on YouTube and listen to MoneySavingMom’s short videos while I do the dishes, so I can continue learning and growing. Today I listened to her walk through how she plans out her weeks. I realized that I have a super cute planner that I am not using properly. I’m barely opening it! Later today I’m going to sit down and plot out my goals for the week. This will become a Sunday night routine, so I can lay out my whole week at a glance. This planner is going to get used well!

On Wednesday I will share with you a recap of our January, how our goals for 2017 are coming, and a few other reflections.

Happy Monday!

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!


Ingredients
❏ 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
latter
❏ 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
Method
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.

<3