Is it hard for you to get your children to eat their veggies?
Is there a bigger dilemma with kids and eating than how to get them to actually eat enough veggies in a day or at least in a week?
Our family’s philosophy of eating is: Healthy, Simple and Cheap! I have stumbled upon a family favorite recipe that falls under this philosophy, and for at least one day will fulfill you and your children’s daily veggie requirement. The secret is that the children make these themselves, which seems to lend itself to an eagerness to eat it.
Raw Veggie Pizza Recipe
– Hummus (pre-made or make your own)
– Whole wheat flat bread or pita bread (again, pre-made or make your own)
– A selection of favorite raw veggies (organic if you can)
Lots of veggies to choose from!
Have children spread two tablespoons of hummus over their piece of flat bread, going out almost to the edge. This is the “sauce” on your “pizza crust.” Demonstrate to the with your pizza as needed.
Let the children select their favorite veggies (but more than one kind) and decorate the pizza as they like.
Eat. Parent can cut the pizza in fourths if needed.
It is that simple and now you have happy children happily eating their creation!
Have you thought about blogging, but needed a little help getting started? Read on!
Blogging has become one of the biggest industries on the web. Mom blogging is one of the biggest niches within the blogger community. If you have wanted to start blogging, and just need a few helps to get started, then you have come to the right place. I am not a BIG blogger, but I have learned a few things along the way that could be of help to you, the new blogger, to get started and maybe even make some money blogging.
Decide What You Want to Blog About
As with any business or other endeavor, you need to have a vision for where you are going. Who are you and what do you want to share with your friends and family, your like-minded community, or the world? Before you setup your blog, write your first post, etc… Take a few minutes, close your eyes and dream – what do I want my blog to look like in a year or so? Now start writing down those ideas and let it form into an overall vision.
Using my blog as an example, my overall vision is: A Simple Life Too is for anyone who would like to learn how to make their life less complicated and more simplified. Whether this means decluttering and getting rid of stuff, getting out of debt and getting rid of an entitlement mentality, finding things, solutions and hacks to make things a little easier, or letting go of wrong thinking, this blog’s vision is to be a help and resource.
After you have the initial vision, break it down into simple, granular concepts. Again, using my blog as an example, I wanted specifically to write about:
Saving money, living frugally and simply
Making simple foods, making menu planning, shopping, etc… easy
Being able to help others
Encouraging my children and keeping them productive
Share what God is doing in my life
Share about how we try to deal with illnesses naturally
How to work at home and keep it simple
This became the categories of writing that I would mainly focus on, giving direction to my blog and allowing me to brainstorm lots of post ideas. If you are not to sure how to brainstorm, let me know. I would love to help.
Get a Host
Although you can blog for free on WordPress.com or Blogger, if you want your blog to be more than for friends or family and/or your vision for your blog includes making money from it, then I highly recommend that you setup you blog from the beginning with your own, unique domain name, and you hire / purchase a host company to host your blog. The cost for a domain name can be anywhere from $2.00 to $20.00 per year and the cost for a host for a small blog is from $5.00 to $20 per month. Very inexpensive if you consider what it costs to start a more traditional business.
Most host companies will allow you to setup and purchase your domain also. I currently use A Small Orange as my host. A lot of people also use BlueHost, HostGator and GoDaddy.
Setup Your Blog
This is probably the hardest part for those w/o a technical background and are new to blogging – setting up your blog for the first time. While there are other software choices out there, I recommend that you create your blog with WordPress.
All the hosts I mentioned above have WordPress available (usually included in your hosting package) and I believe (please correct me if you find I am wrong) they all have a one-click install to setup WordPress on the host. Each of the hosts should also have (free) tutorials and help pages to walk you through the process.
However, if you would feel more comfortable, you can pay the host, or an experienced blogger that hires out for that kind of work, a small fee to set it all up for you.
Write Your First Post
You have a vision and now it is time to start on the path to making that vision a reality.
If the tutorials to setup your WordPress install did not include how to write a post, then you should search for one now (either in your host’s help database or through the internet). If you can write an email, you can write your first blog post with WordPress! However, you will want to learn more about what is available to you, so a tutorial or two is very useful.
As for the content of your post, go back now to your vision and your concepts. Your first post could be introducing your blog to the world and including that vision and concept list, or you could pick one of the concepts and start with it. Whatever you do, your post should be at least 250 / 300 words and for starters, probably not more than 1000 (there are times to do more, like the post I am writing, but probably not your first one). Make sure you stick to one theme, thought, concept – with the rare exception, posts should not weave in and out of various topics – no bunny trails!
Also, consider your title: Would you want to read the post if you saw that title on the web? Sometimes your title is all you have get people to read, so make it clear and concise.
Oh, one really important point: SAVE every 10 to 15 minutes while writing. Nothing is worse than a computer crashing, the phone ringing, the children crying or whatever, only to come back and find your post is gone. I have already saved this post 8 times!
Add A Graphic To Your First Post
In today’s world of 1000s of things vying for our attention, using a graphic with a blog post to draw attention to it is almost required. There are many ways to get and create graphics. You can create your own from scratch, using your own photos or purchasing photos. You can also create with clip-art and using graphic art software. If you have some experience with graphic arts, then this step will be easy. If you are like me, however, you could use a little help.
I use Canva to create most of my graphics. Canva is free to use with your own photos and they have a limited selection of free text and clip art. They also sell stock photos for $1 each. I use my own photos about 50% of the time and purchase Canva’s about 50% of the time. I think I have spent less than $20 on graphics this year.
Some bloggers love Pic Monkey. They have a free option or an inexpensive subscription option that allows the use of advanced graphic editing tools and such.
Promote Your First Post
Now that you have written your first post and clicked the publish button (if you haven’t clicked the publish button, do so now), how do you actually get people to read it?
I have found the best way to get folks to start reading my posts is to share it with people I know, and some I don’t, through social media. I would be a bit surprised if you have not ever used any social media, so I will make the assumption that you are familiar with at least one of the following:
Facebook – Share your first post with your personal friends and family and ask them to read it and give feedback. However, don’t be discouraged if not many respond. There is an audience out there for your blog. Create a professional / business page and join some FB groups that are relevant to your blog topic / topics. You might be able to share your posts in some of those groups.
Pinterest – If you are already on Pinterest, then you probably have friends and family following you. Go ahead and pin the graphic that you created to one of your Pinterest boards or create a new board just for your blog. If you haven’t joined Pinterest and you are a female – do so now. Pinterest is currently one of the hottest ways to promote blogs. You can also join group Pinterest boards (I will share a resource at the end of this post on how to find some).
Google+ – There is lots of debate on the usefulness of Google+, but I use it because 1) Google is the major player in search engines and I know posting to Google has some tie into the search engine. 2) Because I can see that people are viewing my posts to Google+, I just don’t know what the conversion is to people coming to my blog and actually reading the post.
Twitter – I do not use Twitter, but I know some folks have 1000’s of followers and find this a good way to promote posts.
There are other social media venues, but I am not as familiar with them. If you are on something else, use it!
Monetizing Your Blog and Posts
If you want to make money with your blog, I recommend starting to monetize it from the beginning, even if you are only making a $1 per month to start. It helps set expectations that your blog is, at least to some degree, about making a living and that readers will be used to affiliate links and ads as part of your blog.
There are many ways to make money with your blog, but I am only covering a couple of ways for now.
Affiliates – These are folks that you choose to partner with. You then place text links, coupons and/or banners on your site and/or in your posts. Usually, when someone purchases something through your affiliate, you get a % commission. Amazon.com is one of the biggest affiliates out there. Here are some other affiliates worth checking into:
Moms Affiliate – Moms affiliate is one of my favorites because it is a hybrid of the 3 methods of monetizing your blog that I am sharing today. They have affiliate programs that are very mom-centric, a small advertising network, and they have opportunities for sponsored posts.
Commission Junction – literally has 1000s of brands available to partner and affiliate with. Are you writing a blog post about people with vision issues? This would be a place to find companies that sell glasses.
Share A Sale – also has 1000s of brands available to partner and affiliate with, but I also like the fact that many of the brands pay bloggers to send affiliates to the program.
Ebates – Ebates is an especially a good affiliate if you are going to write about any products that can be purchased online. Ebates gives people coupons and cash back on their online purchases, so it blends in good with review sites, fashion sites, book sites, gadget sites, etc….
Note: all of these programs are free to join. You should never have to pay to join an affiliate program. Ebates will pay you $10 to join them.
Ads – The most popular ad program is Google Adsense. However, it is not always the most profitable. Moms Affiliate, as I mentioned above, makes me more money. So does selling my own ads. You must be on your own host to run Adsense and related ads.
Sponsored Posts – Many companies like the feel of a sponsored post vs. advertising to get their message across. One example of a sponsored post can be a company giving the blogger free product(s), and then the blogger tells about the product and experience. Another can be that the sponsor company pays a cash fee to have the blogger write a post that highlights the company’s product within a useful, informational post.
I currently use IZEA and Moms Affiliate to find sponsored post opportunities. There are other sites too. Sponsorship opportunities are fairly limited until one reaches about 10,000 view per month to their blog.
For Further Blog Education, A Couple Of Books, Groups And Sites I Recommend
I hope you find this post a great starting point for your blogging career. However, there is so much more to learn and if you really want to be successful, you need to continually invest in your knowledge and skills. I have a few books, FB Groups, and web sites that I recommend to help you on your path.
How to Blog for Profit w/o Losing Your Soul – The writer, Ruth Soukup is a very successful blogger with over a million views per month to her site, LivingWellSpendingLess. Her book starts off with assuming you have been blogging for a couple of months and does not cover any sort of blog start and setup. However, it is still worth a read from near to the beginning of your blog endeavors, as she goes in depth into creating your brand, your topics, what a great, share-able post should look like, how to use social media, and how to make some money with your blog.
ProBlogger – ProBlogger is the biggest “how to blog” site out there and may also be the most read book in the category. Co-authors Darren and Chris start the book for the new blogger and take you from conception to setup to promotion to making money, Even though I have been blogging for 3 years, I still have much to learn from this book.
Inspired Bloggers Network – I would not be where I am today if I had not discovered the Inspired Bloggers Network FB Group. Actually, I was commenting on another blog’s post (lamenting really) and she told me about it. The community is so helpful to each other and will answer almost any question. Just be sure to read the rules before posting.
Pinterest Collaborators – If you remember, I mentioned before that I had a great place to get included in some Pinterest Group boards? Well, this is the place!
My results showed that my biggest issues were digestive, immune system, respiratory and glandular.
The results then gives you suggestions on what you can use to help improve the systems with issues. It is best to start with one system at a time and run the supplement routine until you see improvement, then move on to the next system (if you have more than one like me that are issues).
I would love to hear what issues you are currently facing and what you are doing to treat or help with those issues. There is a lot of information out there about what foods can also be used to treat these issues and if there is interest, I would want to write about it in the future.
I do want to be clear that you should check with a doctor before using supplements or that you understand that you use them at your own risk if you don’t speak with a doc. Our family has learned a lot over the years of using natural supplements and most choices are clear for us, but there are times when I double check with a family doctor before taking something.
If I can encourage one person in their homeschooling today…
Do you face any challenges with your homeschool? Are you not sure you even CAN homeschool? Are your challenges physical issues? Financial? Do you feel you lack the education or simply don’t have the personality to homeschool? Maybe you have child with special needs?
I am here to share with you that if I can homeschool through all of our families challenges, you probably can to!
Homeschooling From The Bottom 10%
I recently read an article in the 2015 print edition of the Old Schoolhouse Magazine – “Getting Started: Light A Fire”. In the article, Dr. Heather W. Allen uses some statistics from NCES – the National Center For Education Statistics, including Gross Family Income of Homeschool families. Guess what? Our family’s income was in the bottom 10% of all homeschoolers. Or to be clear, 90% of homeschool families make more money / have more income per year than our family. And yet here I am, paying for my children’s homeschool, staying home instead of working outside of the home, and somehow still living decently off of our meager income.
Now, do I love being in the bottom 10%? Not really. Do I wish we did have some of the things that most others have, like more choices in curriculum or a second car to go do more field trips and activities? Yes! Will I stop homeschooling to have more money? NO WAY.
God convicted me to homeschool, God promised to provide at least the basics of what we need, and He has made good on His promises. And so I continue on, even though it isn’t easy.
Homeschooling From a Broken Background
Unfortunately, I come from another “bottom” group, although you won’t find this one in the statistics article. This is my background. There seems to be this thought out there that homeschoolers must come from happy, well adjusted, Christian homes to be able to do what they do. I did not. I came from a completely broken background – abuse, divorce, no encouragement, public school bullying and teasing, addiction, and more. I come from a place where most people would never consider that I could turn out to be someone who follows God and who homeschools.
I am not a woman of patience, an encouraging attitude, perseverance, discipline, gentleness, etc… And yet, God has been instilling these things in me throughout this process. He has been working them out in me by homeschooling. I literally change month by month, year by year, as I commit to the course.
I really am a story of Beauty From Ashes. When once, many years ago I did not even WANT children, I now find myself delighting in teaching them, spending time with them, growing them, and seeing them get to do and experience a better life than I ever did.
All Is Certainly Not Perfect
I still have much growing to do. We are still in our first years of homeschooling (4 so far) and I know there is much for ME to learn and change. I have encountered some serious challenges the past two years, mainly physical with a miscarriage and now a challenging pregnancy, but also a relational and spiritual setback.
My patience is a little “soft” right now and I have to repent and try again daily. I have seen that I have not been encouraging the children as well as I could and have been negative towards them at times. Again, I have to repent daily and try again. I have wanted to give up so many times, but I can’t and I won’t. So sometimes, we lighten the load and sometimes, we take a week off. Sometime mom just needs a day to do something different. We do whatever it takes and still make forward progress.
Even with our imperfection and struggles, we still get complimented out in public at how well behaved (not great, but better than average) our children are, how happy they seem, how sharp they are, and how quick they are to make friends with those who they meet.
No, not perfect, but worth keeping on for.
If anything I said resonated with you, please let me know.
Yes, YOU can eradicate community poverty in Kenya.
This community of Artisans in Kenya have been given a wonderful chance in life – to make a sustainable, fair living from making beautiful, creative goods from local resources. When World Vision found them, they were in extreme poverty – widows, orphans, people suffering from disease like T.B. and Aids. World Vision helped them organize a group, get the licenses, training, and equipment that they would need, and then they brought their products to market through Gifts With a Cause.
Here is a little more on their story (click the graphic to open the full page):
Would you like to help this group or another group somewhere in the world to get started? You can!
Last month I started a series that has become one of my most popular: 5 Ways To Make Money Working From Home. As it turns out, there are actually 100s of businesses and jobs that you can do from home in this technological age. Since I want to take time to write about each one, I am breaking the list down, 5 at a time, so here are 5 More Ways To Make Money Working From Home.
Freelance Writer – Freelance Writing has grown dramatically in the past decade with so many online sites wanting content. Plus, the classic magazine and book market is still there, along with the explosive growth of the eBook market.
If you are a beginner Writer, you may want to start out with what we call a “content mill.” Some people disagree with them, but if you don’t have any writing experience and you aren’t getting told regularly that your writing is great, then these are places to gain some experience and build up a portfolio. Two that I am familiar with are Textbroker and Demand Media Studios. Expect to earn $7 to $15 per hour.
If you are more seasoned in your writing, or if you have spent a couple of months writing for something like a content mill, you then may be ready to start looking for the quality freelance writing jobs. Blogs can pay anywhere from $25 to $100 per post and magazines can pay as high as $500 to $1000 for a large, quality article with a quality magazine. You can find writing jobs for the Christian Market with the Christian Writer’s Market Guide, writing jobs for the Secular Market with the Writer’s Guide, and some good blog / online leads through Rat Race Rebellion.
Virtual Assistant – Another work from home job that is seeing huge growth is the Virtual Assistant. According to Wikpedia: a Virtual Assistant (VA for short) is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office.
Many large blogs and websites use Virtual Assistants to manage day to day operations, do some writing, or manage their Social Media campaigns. There are a few books on the market to help you get started and a here are a few places to get started marketing your services: eLance, Upwork, and Freelancer.
Website Tester – Google how many websites are created each minute and you will find something like 500. Anyone who really wants to put a quality website out there should have someone else look the site over, give feedback for how usable it is, check for bad links, check spelling, etc…
There are now business that hire the average person with some decent observation skills to look over websites and give feedback. Many people are calling this “crowd sourced web testing.” Rat Race Rebellion has a list of businesses who hire for this kind of work. It isn’t high pay, maybe $10 per site reviewed (which should take nearly an hour for a good review), but for a little fill in cash here and there, it would be worth it.
Handcrafts / Etsy Shop – Do you make anything? Do you like to create, sew, paint, design, etc? Then one of the best ways to make money working from home is to open your own Etsy shop and start selling your goods.
Farmer’s Markets – Staying in the same genera as the Etsy shop, if you make something, a Farmer’s Market is a great place to sell it to your local community, especially if it is food related. I have a friend and her two teen girls make a great little side wage every summer selling goodies at the local Farmer’s Market. Our family went in with them a few times and I sold loaves of homemade Artisan bread. You can also sell handicrafts and art at a Market.
To find a local market, just Google your nearest city and the words Farmer’s Market.
Haven’t seen something that you want to do yet? Subscribe to my blog as I will be publishing more and more of these posts. Also, feel free to leave me a comment. I would love to chat with you and ask you some leading questions to help you find the work from home that is right for you.
Super Simple Homeschool Planning Time: My Favorite Homeschool Catalogs.
It is that time of year – homeschool catalogs start appearing in the mail and we all dream of the homeschool we would love to do, have, afford. Then, we get down to reality and start analyzing and comparing and figure out the homeschool that we ACTUALLY can have and afford:-)
This brought me to the idea that I would share with the homeschool community my favorite homeschool catalogs, why they I get them, and how I plan my homeschool year with them.
A Beka – Although I had heard about A Beka for a few years, I feel like I just discovered them this last year. Somehow, I ended up with one of their catalogs, but I don’t remember if I requested it or not. However I received it, I am glad for it. Their homeschool catalog is easy to use and I could see how well a couple of their products, that were affordable to me, would be used in our school. Some of their products are very colorful and at or ahead of state standards.
YWAM – I love to support missions and YWAM makes is easy by providing great books for sale, with the proceeds going to the missions. Their catalog is a bit easier to read and use than the website (for me) and gives me the entire list of books on missionaries and their history series, along with the available unit study guides. There is also a large set of books for older students and adults. We try to order a set or two per year when we take a break from regular curriculum and do a special missions study.
Christian Light Publishing – Christian Light Publishing is one of two providers of curriculum that we use that comes from the Anabaptists (i.e. Mennonites and Amish). Their catalog is so easy to use, easy to see the Christian influence, and see each grade’s curriculum, along with a few examples and support materials. We use their Bible Curriculum.
Rod and Staff – Although there is now an independent business supplying Rod and Staff curriculum online, their main business comes through their catalogs (they are the other Anabaptist publisher and their business does not use the internet). To order their catalog, find their address online and write to them to order it. Their products are great in their simplicity, purity, and is completely Christian. We love their Kindergarten series.
Queen Publishing – If you have ever been interested in a Charlotte Mason style curriculum, then you should check out Queen Publishing’s catalog. They have curriculum for every subject and lots, and lots of copywork! We use their Language Lessons series.
Sonlight – I want to be transparent here, I didn’t actually get the Sonlight catalog last year because I did not order anything. Sonlight is more of a dream homeschool and unfortunately, out of my budget. I did consider asking Sonlight if I could purchase a catalog from them so I could have the book lists from each grade:-) But to be clear, I don’t want to take from them, so I would offer to pay for it unless I thought I would order at least a couple of books.
Christian Books – The Christian Books Annual Homeschool catalog is like the uber catalog of homeschooling, which is why I get it. They have a lot of the titles from the previous publishers I mentioned, plus many, many more. I love to see all the options before I make my annual homeschool planning decisions. And since I do order through them a few times a year (i.e. if I need on title from one publisher and another title from a different publisher, CBD makes so much sense because I can save on the shipping and only ship from one place) I automatically get the catalog every year.
Timberdoodle – I saved my very favorite for last. Timberdoodle is my dream homeschool. It is the most creative package of homeschool curriculum and resources, and I know my children would stay much busier if it was our homeschool. It is also one of the most expensive homeschool options. Unlike Sonlight, I do order a couple of items every year, mostly supplemental learning toys, to supplement our homeschool and give some more hands on / interactive learning. This is usually a holiday or birthday gift.
Disclosure: Some of these links may be affiliate links. Actually, I wish I had affiliate links for all my favorite providers, but alas, some simply do not do affiliate programs. If you would like to support my blog, you could order your books through Christian Book Distributors, which I do have an affiliation with.
As I recently posted in Celebrating Biblical Holidays: Pentecost, Pentecost is May 24th. If you aren’t too familiar with Pentecost, not sure how to observe the day, or would just like to know more so you can incorporate it into your homeschool, I have searched for some resources for you. And of course, these resources are a deal, meaning they are on sale and/or being sold for a discount.
Could you use some free help with your menu / meal planning.
Meal Planning! Love it, hate it, run from it, eventually you will have to deal with it, especially when one of your little ones come up to you and ask: Mom, what’s for lunch? or your husband asks: hun, what’s for dinner?
I used to avoid meal planning, but after a couple of years of winging it with 2 (and now 3) children, I decided I had to start learning and trying. Fast forward a few years, and I now have a pretty easy time putting together a menu.
One thing that helped me was to develop a philosophy of eating: Simple, Healthy, Cheap. This guides me as I pick recipes and plan for each week. Also, we have occasional themed weeks, in which I stick to a budget, like $50 or $60. I have written about a couple of these menus and plan to write a couple more:
My challenge this month is for you to send me a weekly meal plan / weekly menu. I will then select a few menus per week to post on my blog and I will make suggestions on how to:
Make some changes to save money
Make some changes to improve the healthiness of the menu
Make some changes to simplify the menu
Send me your menus / plans through FB or contact me with the form below and I will write you back with my email address (please no spam). Follow my blog so that you can see each weeks menus and suggestions. I even plan on learning a thing or two!
Thank you for your message, we will be in touch shortly.
Sorry, there has been a problem and your message was not sent.
Please enter your contact details and a short message below and I will try to answer your query as soon as possible.
Want to learn a tip that can save you $100s on your travel?
There are many ways to save money on travel. One way I have discovered can make the different of $100s is to compare the same trip or components of a trip between different travel providers. One may have negotiated a better deal here, but another has a better deal there.
If you haven’t done much in the way of travel comparison, consider this a hands on lesson in how to compare travel across a couple of different providers. The providers I choose today are:
Walt Disney World, including airfare, park tickets, and a non Disney hotel property for 8 days, 7 nights traveling from Seattle, WA.
Hawaii, including airfare, hotel, and car on the big island for 6 days, 5 nights traveling from Seattle, WA.
Cabo San Lucas, including airfare, airport to hotel transfer, and all-inclusive hotel (and food and drinks) for 5 days, and 4 nights) traveling from Seattle, WA.
We will make sure we are comparing apples to apples. That means it will be the same airline and the same hotel across each travel provider, so we get a clear picture of savings. Next blog post, I will compare apples to oranges, meaning I will look for the best hotel (same star rating / same basic services) in the same class and best flight in the same class from each provider and see who comes out on top.
Trip 1: Walt Disney World: Departing September 9th and returning September 16th from Seattle, WA, for a family of 4. Hotel: Buena Vista Palace Hotel, Air Carrier: Alaska Air, Tickets: WDW 5 day park hopper tickets.
Costco Travel Vacation Package (note: includes daily breakfast): $4418
Expedia Vacation Package (note: does not include daily breakfast, the resort fee is not included): $4309