Review: From Home With Love

From Home With Love - send your family their favorite meals!

Have you ever wanted to send someone a home cooked meal, but you lived too far away? What if you could find a Post Office-approved way to send your friends and family a batch of your famous lasagna, as well as a tin of their favorite cookies? Now you can!

From Home With Love is a company with a really cool idea: You cook food for your family, and they provide not only all the packaging (including the container for the food and the packing tape!), but they also pick up the box and deliver it for you!

From Home With Love box

The box – with toddler feet for size reference (and because he was curious!)

I was given the opportunity to review the packaging, and I have to say, I was impressed! I chose not to send food to anyone, but I did want to review the materials and my overall impressions.

From Home With Love packing


  • They supply literally everything. As I stated before, even the container for the food and the oft-forgotten packing tape are included in the package. From Home With Love thermometer
  • The instructions are very clear. They specify exactly what to do, and they include pictures to illustrate how to correctly pack the food.
  • Everything is BPA-free, so no worries about putting your hot food in a disposable container (you freeze it before you send it so it stays fresh)From Home With Love gel From Home With Love container
  • The company drops off the box and picks up the food when you are ready to send it! You don’t even have to go anywhere. This would be a great service for homebound family to send home cooked meals (I know of some elderly who love to cook for their family but aren’t able to drive any longer – this would be perfect!).
    From Home With Love packing slip


  • My only “con” would be that it is an awful lot of packaging for one meal. Here we can recycle cardboard, but the styrofoam insulation needs to be thrown away after it’s been used. Hopefully soon it can be replaced with a green-er option.

In all, I think this is such a wonderful idea. I will definitely keep it in mind now that we live 350 miles away from our family and friends! From Home With Love mint!


NEW EBOOK – and a cook-along!

Dirt Cheap Nutrition - get the best tips for stretching your dollars and improving your nutrition!

Monday was a huge day for me – I launched my first ebook!

This book is special for me. I had been thinking about it for a long time and finally decided that it wasn’t going to ever be written if I just sat and thought about it. So even though I was super busy with multiple things, I still made it a priority to sit down and write a little each day. I spent my usual veg-out Facebook time reading articles about writing ebooks and publishing options and marketing. Finally, on Monday, I was able to release it to the internet.

It has been SO fun getting texts and pictures from people who have read my book and followed the outline to change their grocery budget. In fact, I have enjoyed it so much that I’m going to document a batch cooking session next week, starting on Thursday. Pictures will be taken and uploaded to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with the hashtag #dirtcheapnutrition

Will you join me? I would love to see everything you create for your family!  There are  2.5 things you need to do:

  1. Buy my book! It’s only $2.99!
  2. Begin a sourdough starter (directions in the book) if you don’t have one going already.

2.25 – Leave me a comment that you will be joining me next Thursday!

2.5- Upload your own pictures and use #dirtcheapnutrition

Thank you all for your support of this project. It’s completely overwhelming and I’m so grateful to you all!


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Healthy Savings at the Grocery Store {new ebook}

Healthy Savings at the Grocery Store

When we first got married and lived on a super strict budget, my grocery budget went from about $50-75/week for just me (lots and lots of organic produce will do that) to just $25/week for both of us. Shortly after we got married, I also became pregnant with Tristan, and I became even more conscientious about what I was eating so I could give my baby the best nutrition possible on our little budget. This led me to several important discoveries that have revolutionized our lives and added nutritional value in super simple ways.

This experiment of healthy living on a teeny tiny budget has led me to share our experiences and what we learned by writing an ebook! It’s actually in the rough draft stage, and I’ve sent it out to multiple friends to have them review it for flow, tone, and ensuring everything actually makes sense and I’m not doing my usual half-explaining-thinking-everyone-knows-what-I’m-talking-about thing.

So, the first editing process.

I chose a launch date of July 18th, because I’m not busy enough. 🙂 No, actually it’s because I’m so excited I can hardly think straight, and I want the launch to be over and done with so I can share this thing.

There are several things that need to be accomplished between now and then:

  • This ebook NEEDS A NAME! (Any ideas? If I choose yours I will send you a free copy!)
  • Final edits
  • Figuring out how to launch it! I would love to set up an affiliate program, but then I can’t put it on Amazon. Although, you could share the Amazon link if you’re an Amazon affiliate! But Amazon Affiliates aren’t available in Missouri, where most of my promoters live. Decisions, decisions. Any insights?

I’m so excited to be starting this new adventure of writing ebooks and learning about editing, publishing, marketing, etc. All those things that fascinate me that I’ve never had an excuse to learn about before.

Happy Monday, CHL readers!


EXTENDED: Free Justin’s Almond Butter from Thrive Market!

I’ve told you before how much I love Thrive Market. The products are high quality, significantly cheaper than anything I’ve ever seen (seriously), and when you purchase a membership for yourself a membership is gifted to a low-income family. They have lots of everyday healthy things as well as more specialty items like cacao butter (did you know it tastes like white chocolate but it’s actually healthy??).

Through June 16th 22Thrive Market has a special deal for their customers. Click this link for a free 16 oz jar of Justin’s Almond Butter, plus 15% off your first order, for just $1.95 shipping and handling! Justin’s is one of the more expensive brands, so this is well worth it.

Not sure if you will love Thrive Market as much as I do? That’s okay, your first order is wholesale prices without the wholesale membership. Try it out and see what you think before committing to the annual membership fee.



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Can I tell you something? 

Alright, I’ve tried holding out. This can be over-posted and I don’t want to be *that blogger* that does something MLM and then you start tuning out everything she posts because it might be selling you something.

Because I’m not.

I just really love essential oils and since blogging is such a big part of my life, I have to share!

In the hustle of packing, moving, and getting settled here in Small Town, USA, I really got out of the habit of using essential oils much at all. But now that we are into routines and back into “normal” life, I’ve found myself reaching for them again. And again. And again. And I’m remembering their benefits, which makes me reach for even more.

Right now, I’m loving the blends most of all. I use Whisper as a perfume. I was a Bath and Body Works girl when I was a teenager, then “graduated” to Victoria’s Secret scents (I’m a recovering conesseuir). When I went hippie, I had to say goodbye to all those toxins (and a happy farewell to the fragrance-induced headaches!). It also meant I couldn’t get the adorable Kate Spade perfume with the bow on it for Christmas for myself. Whisper is light but lasting, feminine, and the ylang ylang adds a light sensual hint that reminds me that I’m closer to 30 than I am 20 (translation: it makes me feel like a grown-up).

I’ve been using our diffuser more, too. At night I like to use vetiver, cedar wood, and juniper berry to relax us, and I’ll use a drop of Serenity blend on my feet and Tristan’s. During the day I diffuse mostly citrus oils since I’m a Sister Mary Sunshine kind of person and citrus blends just go with that mood.

And of course, I can’t forget my myriad of personal care products that I get to use daily. The shampoo, citrus bliss bar soap, Verage skin care set, toothpaste, and deodorant are all coming to me free! These are all things I would normally make myself, so I’m even happier at the saved time of just clicking the order button. And “free” is kind of my favorite deal.

Tristan loves essential oils too, and will ask for them (****OILS USED ON CHILDREN ARE ALWAYS APPROPRIATELY DILUTED AND APPLIED****). It makes me so happy to be able to go to the cabinet for something for my family and know that I am able to meet their needs with wholesome products.

As I said, please hear my heart in sharing this part of my life with you. I honestly do not remember life without my little bottle friends in the cabinet, and I am so thankful to our friend Hollie for introducing us to them 2 1/2 years ago!

Do you use essential oils in your home?

An Ode to My 5 Gallon Bucket of Coconut Oil

Dear 5 gallon bucket of coconut oil,
We used your last remaining bits of oil the other day and I became all mommy-emotional.

We’ve been through a lot together, you and me. Single to dating to fiancé to marriage and new apartment. I traded a gallon of your delicious oil to get the best meats I’ve ever tasted when we were so poor I could barely afford any food. You were gold.

Then my baby was born and I filled up a little jar with your high quality oil to keep my son’s cloth-diapered butt happy and clean.

I used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil to feed my family healthy muffins for breakfasts. It just tastes so much better.

We have big financial goals now, so I can’t spare another $250 to buy a new 5 gallon bucket of coconut oil, so I will have to branch out and try a different retailer. I’m glad more retailers are selling by the gallon now.

Thank you for nourishing my family through many life transitions. It has been a joy to know I was providing my family with the best of the best.


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Life Update: Spring 2016

Life is unpredictable, isn’t it? It seems like as soon as I post something, or get into a new habit, something changes and throws me off of my nice little routine. I definitely need to learn to be more adaptable. 

Lots of things have been happening over here in our little patch of the world. 

Tristan has decided that his favorite word is “dada” and his favorite person is also Dada, and since I am not his favorite person he refuses to hold my hand. Or he will reach for my hand, which he will reject the second Dada comes near. He thinks this is hilarious. 

I made him his own toothpaste now after I thought I noticed a cavity in one of his brand new molars. All signs of discoloration are now gone, and he loves brushing his teeth. 

We take very regular walks as a family, and even more often now that I downloaded the app Charity Miles, which donates money to charity for every mile you go. There are several charities to choose from, and I change the charities pretty often, though I’ve been on Habitat for Humanity for awhile now. Last weekend Tristan insisted on walking (instead of being held), and he went over a mile! 

I’ve started to make lots of things with my sourdough starter, which has been a fun new creative outlet. I’m getting to the point where I will be putting it in the fridge and just feed it once a week. Otherwise I think we will forever be running out to get more flour. I have noticed my body reacting better to the sourdough than regular baked goods. 

We went to St Louis in April for my birthday and went to our former town’s annual Coffee Crawl and had a wonderful time. At the last place, right at closing, we met Tom Nieder, owner of Companion Kombucha brewery. This was especially fun for me, as I had just written an article highlighting his business earlier in the week. Best kombucha I have ever tasted. Ever. 

My mother-in-law came to visit for Mother’s Day weekend, and we went to the tulip festival in Pella. This house is the first time Peter or I have ever lived in a place with a guest room, and it was so fun getting to host Linda and show her around the town. 

We are paying down our debt in large chunks and planning some fun adventures coming up soon. I’m excited for the summer! 

The latest crunchy experiment

I’ve been feeling a little overworked and underproduction recently, so I wanted to pick some projects that would rejuvenate me and be good for my family. Project 1: sourdough! 

I took to Pinterest for this one. There are so many recipes for what to do with sourdough starter besides the standard sourdough bread. I have visions of rolls, coffee cake, and focaccia. 

My first two baking experiments were pretzels and English muffins. I got the recipe for pretzels here and English muffins here

The thing that is most different about sourdough is the time it takes to make. The starter itself needs to grow for 5 days before it’s ready to harvest for baking. But the recipes also take over a full day to make. 

Making pretzels were the most difficult part. The dough isn’t very fun to work with without a lot of extra flour, and they rise a bit and look nothing like pretzels. Next time I think I’ll be more liberal with the extra flour. 

After I made the pretzel globs, I was really excited when the English muffins actually looked like they were supposed to! 

I have tortilla dough resting on the counter now. I’m looking forward to BBQ chicken quesadillas for supper! 

Question: do you say dinner or supper for the last meal of the day? 

3 Apps to Save Money on Groceries…Without Clipping Coupons!

3 apps to save you money at the grocery store - without coupons!

I used to use coupons extensively. My coupon binder was so big and heavy the air bag sensor thought it was a person if I happened to put it on a seat. True story.

Since I became more of a hippie and less excited about saving coupons for things I didn’t use, I’ve seen and tried several ways to save money at the grocery store. Lately, my routine has involved the use of 3 (free!) apps. This takes less than 5 minutes and I’ve already gotten $10+ back!

When I return from my shopping, I  first log on to Receipt Hog and upload a picture of the receipt. As you upload pictures consistently, you earn coins that can be traded in for PayPal cash or Amazon gift cards.

Next, I log on to the ibotta app, and I look through the rebates available for where I shop. In St. Louis, I attempted this but since Aldi wasn’t an available store, I never used the app. The grocery stores here in town participate, so this time it’s lots of fun! There is usually at least one rebate I can use. They usually have rebates on fresh produce! My favorite deal so far was when I purchased day old bread for $0.50 and there was a $0.25 rebate for any loaf. Score! *Note: I intentionally do not look at the ibotta rebates before shopping, as I don’t want to buy something just to make money back.* Money is given in gift card form, or paid to a PayPal account. Sign up now and get an instant $10 when you redeem your first rebate! 

Finally, I head over to my Walmart app and scan the code. The app searches the Internet to check for the best prices, and gives me back the difference if they find a better price. I just started using this probably 3 weeks ago and have made over $6 just by scanning a couple QR codes. The money is given in Walmart e-gift cards.

None of these will get me the savings of extreme couponing, but I’m making healthy choices for my family and I get to save money without clipping coupons!

How do you shop?


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Priorities {Day 3}

Oh friends….

I got to Day 3 of this Makeover Your Evenings course and had to create a “stop doing” list. Things that take my time away from what I should be doing and what I actually am doing. 

My husband has his final exams this week, and my mother-in-law was visiting us this past Thursday-Sunday, and I knew I needed to spend as much time as I could with my little family and focusing on us. Please forgive me for the stop and start beginning of this challenge! 

Finding a balance and sticking with it can be hard for me. I get excited about a lot of things. My mind is bursting with ideas for this blog, ways I can get my family some fun things that would benefit them, and all the projects I have going on at my work now. It’s hard for me to be so excited and not doing something about it at that moment. 

So I needed to create a “stop doing” list and since I don’t really have a ton of outside commitments to say no to I kept it very basic: 

– Stop looking for more regular article commitments. Until Peter’s school is over and life becomes settled down again, it will add chaos. This is SO hard for me because I love to write (and I love to earn some extra fun money!), but I have to think critically about if stressing us out is worth the extra money and it’s just not. 

– Stop feeling guilty when I don’t blog for awhile because my son wants extra cuddles. 

– Stop going through life unprepared. Yes, we have a budget and we are rocking our financial goals. Yes, we have basic morning and evening routines. But when it comes to prep work, writing ahead for this blog or a health article, I am terribly disorganized. This leads to me putting pressure on myself and just throwing something out there and I don’t like sloppy work. I don’t want sloppiness to represent myself or my brand. 

Discipline is hard for me. I get excited about something, I have a “squirrel!” moment and pour all of my energy there, and then the feeling wears off and I go find something else. It’s who I am and who I have always been. But I should never let a fault define me. That might be who I am now, but that is not who I should stay. 
So, friends. Day 3. Your “stop doing” list. It’s totally worth the time thinking about the things in your life that are holding you back.