Five Favorite Podcasts that Encourage & Inspire Me

I love to learn.  I guess I always have.  When I was a kid, my favorite hobby was to get a new pet animal and learn all about it and how best to take care of it.  Maybe that’s why I had pet water frogs that lived for over seven years!  Anyway, my love of learning never really stopped, which is probably why I became a teacher after college.  Now that I’m a stay-at-home mom, I’ve found a new place to learn that fits into my lifestyle of mothering babies and toddlers (and a kindergartener who just started school this week!).

Podcasts are a great free resource I began listening to over the past year.  I can listen while I do tasks like fold laundry, wash dishes, make dinner, or go for a walk.  I don’t have to sit down and read (because I just fall asleep when I try that these days), and most are between 20-40 minutes long, so they aren’t very time-consuming.  Now, I listen to at least one podcast, if not more, each day.  Here are my top five podcasts I listen to and why I enjoy each one.  Even if you are not a mom, you will probably find inspiration and encouragement from them…they are geared toward a female audience, but probably have some male listeners as well.

The Purpose Show by Allie Casazza & The Better Life Podcast by Kelsey VanKirk

Feeling overwhelmed, too busy, and just tired of living in survival mode?  These two minimalist moms of four kids each offer encouragement, tips, and practical advice on how to live simply, live purposefully, and really enjoy your life as a mom.  They also offer many resources, classes, and courses on their personal websites you need to check out.  

Mother Like a Boss by Kendra Hennessy

Making your home a place you enjoy can be a daunting task…especially when you have chores you dislike or avoid.  Kendra is full of wisdom and tips for how to make managing your home do-able without it taking over your life.  Even if you are pretty good at managing and cleaning your home, you will come away from her podcast with new ideas and inspiration.  She also does amazing interactive live q&a and short tip sessions on her Facebook page.  She is definitely a great person to follow!

Nutrition Redefined by Stephanie Webb

If you want to live a healthy, satisfying life without dieting or living as a slave to food, this is the podcast for you.  Stephanie is amazing at encouraging you to make the best choices for your body without all the “don’ts” of dieting and the disappointments when you “fail.”  You will love her positive approach to living a full and healthy life and loving the body you have, perfect for all women…moms or not. 

Hello Mornings by Kat Lee

I’ve never been much of a morning person, but this podcast is perfect for helping you start your day off right with a simple morning routine and encouragement.  Full of grace for every season of life, I’ve really enjoyed implementing the ideas shared…from the Three Minute Morning to listening to guest interviews.  

You can find these amazing ladies on iTunes Podcasts, Stitcher (for android), Facebook, Instagram, and from links on their own personal webpages.  Their websites all offer some amazing free resources you should check out as well.

I want to hear from you…what are your favorite podcasts you listen to?  Leave a comment with your suggestions for me to check out!



Five KidSafe Essential Oil Blends I Use Everyday

Essential oils…what is the first thing to come to mind when you think of them?  I know for me, it can be overwhelming.  There are SO MANY different oils to choose from, not to mention just as many suggested uses for just ONE oil.  So, where do you start?  As I’ve learned more about essential oils and how to use them in my everyday life with my family, I’ve found some favorites that are perfect ones to try if you’re just starting out (or, if you’re on a budget and can’t justify buying them all).

First, WHY essential oils?  I love essential oils because they are a simple way to benefit my family’s health.  You don’t need TONS of medications, cleaning products, scented products, etc. because with essential oils you can create simple solutions to common health issues, DIY cleaning products, or even helping your home smell welcoming and calming.  Lately, I’ve really enjoyed making my own cleaning products using household items like vinegar, water, baking soda, and essential oils.

So, here are FIVE Plant Therapy KidSafe synergy blends I like to use every day:
Plant Therapy Essential Oils

Or, if you’d like to use single oils so you can make your own blends, here are my top six KidSafe oils:

  • *Note: For babies and toddlers, I’d highly recommend using hydrosols instead of essential oils topically whenever possible.  They are still effective, but much gentler and safer!  My favorite hydrosols are Roman Chamomile, Lavender (both great for calming skin or mood), and Tea Tree. Click here to learn more about hydrosols.

What does this look like for a mom of three kids four and under?  Here’s an example of how I use these essential oils throughout my day.  I listed the blends to keep it simple, and then put the single oils in parentheses as alternative options.


  • Diaper Changes – spray Roman Chamomile Hydrosol on baby’s bottom to soothe skin.  You can also use diluted lavender oil on diaper rashes.
  • Diffuse – 3-6 drops in a diffuser of Self esteem (or Lavender & Spearmint) to boost your mood.  Use Germ Destroyer (or Tea Tree, Sweet Orange, Lavender, and/or Frankincense) if someone is sick.  *Note: It’s best to NOT diffuse essential oils around babies under 6 months old and use caution around pets…many essential oils are harmful to cats).

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  • Cleaning – DIY all purpose cleaner (30 drops Germ Destroyer (or Tea Tree, Lavender, & Sweet Orange) + ¼ cup white vinegar + 1 ¾ cups water) and dusting spray ( 16 drops Odor Zapper (or Cedarwood & Sweet Orange)+ ⅓ cup water + ½ tablespoon liquid castile soap) are my go-tos.  If you want a bunch of great DIY cleaning recipes using essential oils, check out these FREE downloads by Clean Mama.

Chasing sunshine-3

Evening/Bed Time:

  • Bath – add a little Roman Chamomile hydrosol to the bath water for a calming end to the day.
  • Chest rub – Blend 3 drops in 4 teaspoons of lotion or carrier oil of Sweet Slumber (or Lavender, Sweet Orange, & Cedarwood) or Sniffle Stopper (or Spearmint & Lavender) for a stuffy nose.  You can also use Roman Chamomile hydrosol as a linen spray for bedding or your child’s favorite lovey toy.
  • Diffuse – 3-6 drops of Sweet Slumber (or Sweet Orange, Cedarwood, & Lavender) at bedtime to create a calming atmosphere.

Diffuse - 3-6 drops of Sweet Slumber (or Sweet Orange, Cedarwood, & Lavender) at bedtime to create a calming atmosphere.

The great thing about these oils is they are safe to use around children, but still work great for adults!  On each Plant Therapy bottle, they have more suggested uses for each oil or blend, as well as diluting and diffusing instructions.

I hope this gives you some ideas about how you can start using essential oils in your everyday life!  Want to see my favorite essential oil products like diffusers, roller bottles, etc?  Click here.

If you want to learn more about essential oils and how to use them safely, here are some wonderful resources I highly recommend:

Plant Therapy: on Facebookwebsite.  I currently buy all my essential oils from here.  They provide high quality oils, and follow the safety recommendations of the leading essential oil scientist.  They also do weekly live videos on facebook and instagram, so you can learn more about essential oils and how to use them.
Plant Therapy Essential Oils

Aromahead Institute: on Facebook & website.  Andrea shares tons of ways to use essential oils, and teaches wonderful free (or paid) webinars/classes!

Using Essential Oils Safely: on Facebook & website.  This is a great resource to know how to use essential oils safely.

This post may contain affiliate links.  All opinions are 100% my own, and I did not receive anything free from Plant Therapy for this review.

Five Tips for Road Trips with Babies and Toddlers

We are just getting ready for road trip number two of three in three months.  All of them are 8+ hours ONE WAY.  With three kids four and under.  Yes, we just may be crazy!  Because, let’s be honest.  We still occasionally stop for emergency potty breaks 10 minutes after getting back in the car.  And we still have epic baby meltdowns sometimes.  And the road construction that turns a nine hour drive into a 12 hour drive will make us all go nuts. But I’ve learned a few things these last few years that have made trips much more enjoyable for everyone in our family.

Tip #1: Don’t stop if the kids are sleeping or happy…no matter what time it is.  

Tip #2: Feed kids meals in the car while you’re driving, if possible.  Stop to play for 20-30 minutes AFTER they are finished eating (that’s when adults & babies eat, diaper changes & potty breaks happen, etc.).  If you do decide to stop and eat as a family, it’s so handy to bring in a Restaurant Survival Kit that you keep packed in your car.

Tip #3: If a kid is newly potty trained (within the last year or two), have them wear pull ups during the drive.  Because kids always need to have an emergency potty break when it’s impossible to pull over. Trust me.  It’s also helpful to keep an emergency bag in the car with a change of clothes, diapers, wipes, Clorox wipes, paper towels, and plastic bags for any road trip accidents or sickness.

snack catcherTip #4: Pack snacks that are not messy, crumbly, or sticky (no goldfish, granola bars, etc.).  Foods like animal crackers, pretzels, teddy grahams, cheese sticks, grape halves, etc. work great.  Bring snack cups like this Munchkin Snack Catcher for snacks.  Fill sippy cups to the top with ice first, before adding water.  This limits how much kids can drink at one time.  For babies eating solid foods, bring puffs/Cheerios, and food pouches for meals and snacks.

Tip #5: Bring out the toys/activities in phases.  There is no real rule for how long each phase lasts…its just when kids are done with all the activities and getting antsy.  Babies newborn to six months usually only need one or two toys.  They are great travelers because they sleep so much.  Here are the toys I usually pack and when the kids can play with them when we travel:

Babies 0-6 months

  • Let them nap, bring a few favorite toys, and that’s pretty much it.  Other than needing to stop and eat, they are pretty easy to entertain! 🙂

Phase 1:

  • Pacifier (on clip, because they will throw it where you can’t reach it).  Start the trip like a regular drive in the car.  Hopefully they will end up taking a nap.  🙂

Phase 2: 

  • Teething toys
  • Plastic books
  • Small mylar balloon

Phase 3:

  • New toy
  • Unusual objects (kitchen utensils) given to them one at a time.  Only give a new object or toy when the baby is done with the previous one.  This light up spinner wand is amazing for getting a fussy baby’s attention and keeping them entertained!

spinner wand

And the best entertainment?  A big brother or sister (if they have one)!

*This is the most difficult age for long road trips, in my experience.  They are too little to be entertained by media, AND all they want to do is practice crawling and walking.  So being confined in a carseat is the worst.  If they are learning to walk, bring a walker toy so they can practice and get some exercise during rest stops and bathroom breaks.

Toddlers 2+ Years Activity Ideas

*Note: I usually only give one item out at a time.  I let the kids pick what they want to do, depending on what phase they are in…until they’ve done everything on the list.  Then we move on to the next phase.  Generally, each phase lasts us about 1-2 hours.

Phase 1:

  • Music (iPods with headphones are NICE)
  • Books (stories they know well, unless you want to have to read it to them).  Or, bring a Leap Frog Tag reader to read them stories.
  • New toy
  • Magnetic drawing board.  We have this one, and while it’s small and simple, it’s a great size for in the car.  My kids both love drawing on theirs every time we get in the car.

lacing beads

Phase 2:

  • Coloring books
  • Melissa & Doug Water WOW paint with water books.  These are AMAZING reusable painting books that are fun and make no mess.
  • Stickers & sticker books.
  • Magnets & cookie sheet (search for activities on Pinterest, or just let kids play with magnets on the cookie sheet).  My kids love these Melissa & Doug animal and vehicle magnets in addition to the typical alphabet ones.
  • Lacing beads

leap padPhase 3:

  • Leap Pad (games/videos…most of them are educational).  My kids don’t get to play with their Leap Pads unless we are on a road trip, or have a long wait at a doctor’s office.  So this is a BIG treat for them!  We have these Leap Pads, but you can also find some newer versions too.

Phase 4:

  • iPad (movies).  We have this awesome case that attaches to the headrest of the car.  This works great for both forward and rear facing car seats.  We download videos in advance to our Plex app, so it’s ready to go with our kid’s favorite movies.  They only get to watch these movies on road trips, so it’s really special.

Well, that’s what we do on our road trips!  I’ll be packing up in the next day or two, so leave a comment if you have any activities your babies and toddlers enjoy during long drives in the car.  I’m always interested in new ideas!

Favorite Time Savers for Busy Moms Part 3: Meal Planning/Prep

I’m going to be honest with you…I don’t like making meals.  I’m picky when it comes to my own cooking (although I’ll eat almost anything if someone else makes it!), and I’m always trying to find new “favorite” recipes because I get tired of eating the same thing over and over.  And, with three small children in the house, I need meals that are quick and easy to make, that are still healthy and taste great.

I’ve found three things that have really helped make meal planning much more efficient (and less painful) for me…and thought I’d share them with you today!

5 Dinners 1 Hour

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Why it’s fast:
– Your shopping lists are pre-made.
– Five simple recipes that can be prepped in one hour.
– Many one-pan meals make less dishes to clean up.

Cost: $2.50/week subscription (cancel when you want), FREE sample plans and FREE recipes on their blog.

My thoughts: I love that the recipes are very simple and can be prepped for the entire week…or you can quickly throw together one meal in just a few minutes.  I’ve tried their Classic Meal Plans, and the dinners come out pretty basic.  Nothing fancy, but most are ones our family enjoys eating.

This is my go-to when I don’t want to spend any time choosing meals or wait until the last minute to go grocery shopping.

custom-meal-plans-graphic5 Dinners recently came out with a Custom Meal Plan (officially launching Aug. 19), and I really like that option!  Before, there was usually one or two meals a week I didn’t really want to repeat in the future, making the pre-made shopping list less useful.  Now that I can choose all five meals myself, I’m guaranteed to get all meals we will actually eat!  It also lets you customize the serving size, so you can adjust it to fit your family (or double recipes to freeze for later)!

Meal Bundles with Wildtree

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Why it’s fast:
– Comes with pre-mixed all-natural, organic cooking spices & oils make meal prep faster.
– Uses very few dishes to prep meals, so little clean up is required.
– Keep prepped meals in the freezer until you need them.
– Many crockpot dump meals make prep and clean up easy.

Cost: Varies between $58-$78/bundle, unless you host a workshop…then you can get your meal bundle for FREE.  This includes the spices/oils and over eight recipes that you can make again and again.  You can find tons of FREE recipes on their website.  That comes to about $2.50/meal, if you buy a bundle.

My thoughts: If you’re looking for fast, flavorful meals, Wildtree is an excellent choice.  Of the meals we’ve tried, I’ve liked them more than any other meal planning bundle I’ve tried, and I’m happy to make them again and again!  These recipes are definitely family favorites.

Wildtree uses all-natural, organic products, which makes it a great choice if you or a family member have food allergies.  You can read the ingredients and know EXACTLY what you’re putting in your food!

If you host a Wildtree workshop, you can get your meal bundles for free, which is awesome!  I’ve found that I can use the Wildtree spices to make 2-3 sets of each meal plan, so they last a long time.

Organize Recipes with Trello

Finally, I was just introduced to using Trello to keep a digital recipe book of all my favorite meals!  I love how it keeps everything organized for me, it’s beautiful (you can include pictures of each meal), and I can easily access it from home or on my phone, if I’m shopping at the store and need to look up the ingredients for a recipe.

Here’s a screen shot of my Trello meal planning board.  I copy recipes from different categories in to my “Weekly Meal Plan” section, and now I have meals lined up for each day of the week in just seconds!

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Want to learn more about how to use Trello?  Check out this FREE class to learn all the basics you need to get started planning, organizing and managing your life with less stress and more peace.  Click here for instant access:

Leave me a comment…what’s your favorite time saver for meal planning and prep?

Favorite Time-Savers for Busy Moms Part 2: Grocery Shopping

After each of my children were born, our wonderful friends provided us meals for the first few weeks.  Then, I had another month’s worth of freezer meals stored up so I was still able to avoid the daunting task of grocery shopping with a newborn.  However, reality finally set in, and with Jeremiah and Evelyn, I had to brave the grocery store each week with a two year old and baby (and sometimes an extra one year old when I was babysitting my friend’s daughter).  Haha, I can’t tell you how many mixed looks of sympathy/you’re crazy I got from other shoppers with all three kids in tow!

Thankfully, shortly before Caleb was born, my local grocery stores introduced a new way to shop, and it has made my life significantly easier.  Online grocery shopping means I can order groceries, drive to the store, and be home…all in less than 30 minutes total!  I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve actually taken all three kids to the store with me since Caleb was born in December because grocery pick up is SO much more convenient.

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Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to the store’s website or app, and add items to your shopping cart, just like any online shopping.  I love this because I can order any time of day or night.  There are many times I’ve done my “grocery shopping” at 2 am during a night time feeding session.  It also helps me avoid any extra spontaneous purchases I’m tempted to make when I go through the store.
  2. The store employees do the shopping for you.  I’ve always been satisfied with the quality of food selected, and you approve any substitutions they make if something you order isn’t in stock.
  3. Schedule a pick up time (usually for the following day), and arrive any time during the window given to pick up your groceries.  The employees will even load them in the car for you.  No getting kids in and out of the car, and the wait is usually less than five minutes.  The Walmart I shop at actually lets me check in from home when I’m ready to head to the store, so everything is ready and waiting when I get there.

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Let me tell you, I LOVE grocery pick up!  It has given me back at least an hour each week that I would have spent shopping at the store.  It’s easy, and I can shop from any time, anywhere.  And I can schedule pick up for when I’m already out in the area running errands, so I don’t have to make an extra stop.

Here are the stores that I’ve used for grocery pick up:

  • Walmart – This is a free service.  My favorite part?  I regularly see the same employees each week when I pick up my food, so we chat as we load up the car.  It’s a fun, and the personal touch makes a huge difference in the experience.  If you’ve never ordered before, CLICK HERE TO GET $10 OFF your first grocery order!

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  • SAMS Club – This is also free with great customer service!

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  • Dillons (other Kroger stores may offer it as well) – It costs $5 to do grocery pick up.  However, Dillons is great for people who like to coupon, or if you participate in their Community Rewards Program, because you can still participate when you order online.

Have you tried grocery pick up before?  What has your experience been like?

And if you haven’t already, check out Part One of my favorite time savers here to see how I save tons of time cleaning my floors each week.

“Take Them a Meal” Ideas for New Moms

One of greatest gifts our family received with the birth of our children was when our friends and family brought us meals when we came home from the hospital.  Being able to relax without the stress of meal planning and grocery shopping for those first weeks was wonderful, not to mention we enjoyed trying new recipes our friends brought over!

Today I thought I’d share some recipe ideas* and tips for great meals you can make for new moms.

The best place to get started is to create a meal sign up for your friend.  Meal Train and Take Them a Meal are free websites that make it simple for people to sign up to bring meals online.  You can share the link via email or on a friend’s Facebook page.


  1. Along with dinner, bring enough disposable dishes, plasticware, and napkins for the family to use at dinnertime.  That way they don’t need to worry about dishes.
  2. Double the recipe so you have enough for your family to eat at home.
  3. Can’t deliver your meal the day you signed up?  Make a freezer meal and drop it off early.  Or, order the family their favorite take out and either drop it off or have it delivered.

Balsamic Chicken & Veggies

Main Dishes:

Side Dishes:

  • Frozen Steam-able Veggies (let them microwave it so it’s warm when they are ready to eat it.)
  • Mashed Potatoes (Don’t have tons of time?  Buy a bag of frozen Steam ‘n Mash Potatoes.)
  • Pasta
  • Fresh fruit/fruit salad
  • Salad (the pre-made salad mix bags make it easy to deliver a tasty salad without extra dishes!)


  • Cookies
  • Brownies
  • Ice cream

*Note: If the new mom is breastfeeding, her diet can affect her baby’s digestive system, sometimes causing gas or colic.  While each person is different, there are some basic foods to AVOID (or at least avoid large quantities) when making her a meal: cheese/dairy (or bring it on the side to be added on later), onions, garlic, peppers, broccoli, mexican food, beans.  The main dishes I suggested avoid most/all of these foods.

What are your favorite meals to bring to new moms?  Leave a comment and let me know!

My Favorite (Essential Oil) Things

I started to really enjoy using essential oils a little over a year ago.  My sister in law was kind enough to give us some different oils as a gift, and once I found some that made a difference for me (lavender oil for mosquito bites and burns is amazing), I was hooked.  Since then, I’ve tried to learn a lot more about essential oils and how they can be used and enjoyed by my family, and I’ve had the chance to share them with my friends.  There is a TON of information about essential oils available (unfortunately not all is accurate), but here are some of my favorite products and resources to get you started if you’d like to give them a try for yourself.

Want to know what essential oils are?  Click here to find out!

Essential Oil Brands:

Plant Therapy – this is my go-to place for essential oils.  They are high quality AND affordable.  Plant Therapy also labels which oils are safe to use around children, so it’s very easy to know what I can use on and around my kids.  My favorite place to start shopping is the gift set section.  They have a lot of different varieties, so you can find a set that is the perfect fit for you and your family.  I would definitely recommend giving Plant Therapy’s Top 3 KidSafe Set 10 ml a try!

Plant Therapy Essential Oils

doTerra – is a popular brand of essential oils.  They are a multi-level marketing company (Young Living is another popular one), so if you’d like to get oils for free (or make some money while sharing what you love about essential oils), this is a good place for you.  My sister in law has a doTerra account, and since her friends and family order oils from her, she gets a LOT of oils for free!  However, if you are just wanting to buy oils to try, you will pay at least twice as much through doTerra (or Young Living) than you would from Plant Therapy.  They also don’t have as many safety guidelines and practices available as Plant Therapy.

Essential Oil Accessories:

AromaFuseDiffuser: I’ve tried a bunch of different diffusers, and the AromaFuse diffuser from Plant Therapy is probably the best one I’ve found.  It has a 15 min on-30 min off and a 30 min on-30 min off CYCLE, which are the recommended diffuser patterns, and you don’t have to babysit it.  It can run up to 10 hours before needing a refill.  This one from Amazon is another favorite, and is definitely a great quality for the price.  Here’s another (slightly smaller) option from a brand I also like.  What do you look for in a diffuser?  One that has a timer in 1 hour increments is probably the best advice I’ve received.  You don’t need your diffuser to run constantly.  Usually one hour one, one hour off cycles is the most effective use for a diffuser.  Both of these have a built in timer and are great because I can put in about four-six drops of oil, and it will last for several hours before needing a refill.


Roller Bottles: Almost all essential oils should be mixed with a carrier oil (usually fractionated coconut oil) before being used topically.  These roller bottles make it easy to apply oils safely without having to mix the essential oil and carrier oil every time.  I take my most-used oils, like lavender, and make a roller bottle mix.  Then, I can carry it in my purse or keep it handy at home to use whenever I need it.  *Tip: to remove the roller ball from the bottle, use the loosened cap to pinch and pull the roller ball piece off toward the side of the bottle.  It should pop right off.


 This book is a great resource for how to use essential oils.  It has recipes for a ton of different health and wellness uses, and is my go-to for any questions I have.

Want a cheat sheet to help you know how to mix essential oils with a carrier oil?  Or maybe which oils are safe (or should be avoided) for children?  This is an easy way to learn how to use essential oils at a glance.

Finally, here’s a website that is a great place to learn more about essential oils.  This website was created by a certified aromatherapist who is passionate about helping people learn more about the benefits of essential oils and how to use them.  This includes lots of recipes, free classes, and searching by topics (like pregnancy, pets, kids, etc.).

How about you?  What questions do you have about essential oils?  Or, if you’re an EO fan, what is your favorite oil and why?

Plant Therapy Essential Oils

This post may contain affiliate links.