Apple Picking

Family Fun with a Purposebag of apples

I love being outside and eating fresh fruit.

apples on the tree

This fun family activity combined those two!  We went apple picking at Fifer Orchards.  It is really important to me to educate J on food and using fresh ingredients.  We’ve made several lifestyle changes to try and get our health in order.  If you would like to read more about that, check out this post.  The book that inspired us the most is called The Daniel Plan.  If you would like to learn more about your health, nutrition and otherwise, I strongly encourage you to check it out!

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picking apples



The trees were full of beautiful apples!  We were so glad that we decided to get the larger bag.




J got to pick the apples straight off of the tree.  Now, that’s staying connected to your food!  There was even a little tractor ride involved.  A tractor pulling a trailer escorted us to the rows of apple trees and then picked us up when we finished picking.

Apple Uses

bag of apples



But, what exactly do you do with a 1/2 bushel of apples?  Eat them raw, apple pie, apple crumb cake, apple crisp, applesauce, etc.  There are so many possibilities!


The first step is washing all those apples!  Washing produce is so important.  Even when purchasing organic, you never know if the neighboring farmer uses pesticides or if crop dusters flying over spill some of the harmful chemicals onto the produce.  Fifer Orchards is not organic, but the worker told us that they try to limit the chemicals that they use.

washing apples


We love to fill the sink with water and add about a cup of white vinegar.

It is amazing to see the film come off of the produce in the sink!  You can rinse or just let air dry.  I have done both and cannot tell a difference either way.



We love using our juicer to make fresh pressed juice.  If you’d like to check out the one that we use and love, click here.  It is an investment, but when you juice often, it is so worth it!  This juicer is a cold-press which does not heat up, damaging beneficial enzymes.

Slice and core the apples, then dump into the juicer.  Fresh pressed juice and dry apple pulp to feed the deer in the woods.


fresh juice

We lost track of how many apples we juiced, but guessed around 40 or so.  Here’s the first 1/2 gallon jug.  The color is different from store bought apple juice, but I have found that is usually the case.  Store bought juices often have many other ingredients added to make them sweeter and “prettier.”  This juice tastes great and we know exactly what’s in it!  Read even more about juicing in this post.



Here’s the next batch of juice jugs:

more juice

We had some pineapple juice left over from our last juicing, and I found this recipe for Hot Apple Cider that I wanted to try.  The jug in the middle has pineapple juice and apple juice.

Hot Apple Cider Recipe:

6 cups Apple cider or juice (we used juice)

2 cups pineapple juice

Clove Vitality* 5 drops

Cinnamon Bark Vitality* 5 drops

Tangerine Vitality* 5 drops

Directions: Put all ingredients into a 3 qt pot and heat on medium heat until hot, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm!

We used our large Hydroflask jug to keep it warm.  It was delicious!

*New to essential oils?  Learn more about them in this post.  The Vitality line is specifically for internal use.  We love our Young Living products!

Toxin-Free Cleaning

Cleaning sprays DIY

After years and years of using store bought toxic cleaners, I decided to try making my own using pure ingredients and my Young Living essential oils.  If you’ve never heard of essential oils, check out my posts here and here.  I use these toxin-free cleaners with microfiber cloths to clean my entire house from top to bottom.  Using microfiber instead of paper towels reduces the waste. Now, my little one can help me clean and I don’t have to worry about harmful toxins getting to my family.  It makes me cringe thinking about all of the toxins that I used before while cleaning.  Under the kitchen sink was filled with different cleaners.  I no longer have to worry about my daughter ingesting large amounts of super harmful toxins.

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To view the kind of glass bottles that I use, click here.  I like to use the amber glass instead of clear to protect the oils inside.  Sunlight can lessen the affects of the oils over time.

Toxic Ingredients

But first, let’s talk about toxic ingredients and why you want to avoid them.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a list of what they call the “dirty dozen.”  This lists the top harmful toxins currently used in the personal care and cleaning industries.  I encourage you to visit their site and read the information for yourself here.  [You can also find lists on foods on their site as well.]  This site is loaded with information and is one of the first places to check.  The first time I began researching, I was appalled that consumers are not protected against these terrible ingredients by any governing agencies!  And so many people purchase cleaning products from the store that can harm their families.  The largest area of concern for me is endocrine disruptors.  There are a lot of toxins used in common products that have been linked to hormone issues.

Watch a video about staying away from harmful toxins here.

Hormones and Why Being Toxin-Free Helps

Your hormones are incredibly important to your body and its regulation.  Simply put, they are the messengers of the body.  Your hormones control feelings, emotions, blood pressure, help break down food, regulate pain, and much more.  For even more information on hormones, visit this site.  So, basically, when you use toxic cleaners, your hormones are not able to function at their best capacity.  Toxins must be filtered out and broken down by your body.  If you are unable to break them down and dispose of them, the body just reabsorbs the toxins.  Many people suffer with problems of the thyroid, adrenal fatigue and more.  I wonder how many of these issues could decrease or resolve themselves if more people started removing toxins from their homes.  The body is an amazing creation, so why not do everything we can to give it the best environment possible?!

My Toxin-Free Cleaners

When starting off toxin-free, you’re going to want to dispose of all the plastic in your home because plastic has……you guessed it: toxins!  So, for all of my cleaning products, I order glass spray bottles online.  We prefer the darker amber glass because essential oils need to be protected from sunlight.

So, here’s more information on the different cleaners that I use and how I use them in my home.

Cleaning Spray

Cleaning spray DIY

This is the all-purpose cleaning spray that I use the most in my home.  You purchase the Thieves Household Cleaner from Young Living and then just add water.  The cleaner is highly concentrated and smells wonderful!  We spray our counters off, mop the floors, and use on any other surface that needs to be cleaned.  It is by far the best cleaner and easiest to make!  Only two ingredients!  This is in the largest spray bottle because it is used the most often.  You can make different strengths of cleaner by adding more concentrate if needed.

Glass & Stainless Steel CleanerGlass and Stainless cleaner DIY

This cleaner is my next favorite because I hate cleaning glass!  I never liked the method (even though it works so well) of wiping the cleaning solution off with newspaper.  That just didn’t sit right with me.  Probably because newspapers are so dirty.  This recipe uses white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, water and citrus essential oils like lemon, lime or grapefruit.  (These links go directly to the Young Living website.  Unless you are a member, you pay retail price.  I would encourage you to look into becoming a member because of all of the wonderful perks, including cheaper prices!)  This solution also works well to clean all of our stainless steel appliances.  Just make sure you don’t spray too much.  Just like essential oils, a little goes a long way!


Refreshing spray DIYI use this spray to freshen the scent of my home by spraying the linens, carpets, and furniture.  It uses a blend called Purification which smells fresh and clean.   I’ve also made a carpet deodorizer with baking soda and this blend.  You sprinkle the carpet and then vacuum it up.  I prefer the spray method because it takes a lot less time!  Another benefit to this spray is that the essential oil blend contains Citronella and Lemongrass oils, both known for their repelling properties.

Dusting Spray

Dusting spray DIY

I really, really, really hate to dust!  But, this spray has made the experience a little more tolerable.  With the fresh lemon scent, it really lifts my mood. I spray a small amount on the microfiber cloth – not on the surface of what I am dusting – and wipe off.  It helps remove whatever is on the surface and leaves a fresh smell.

The difference between this fresh smell is that it actually came from a lemon’s peel.  There are no toxic chemicals used to make a lemon smell like, well, … a lemon!

If you are interested in learning more about toxin-free living, and making the choice to invest in your family’s health, please consider becoming a member of Young Living.  They are a wonderful and trustworthy company with very high standards for all products.  Click here to sign up today and start enjoying the benefits of toxin-free living!  Thank you so much for blessing my family!  We look forward to sharing more information with you about living a healthier lifestyle and sending you a free gift as our way of saying thank you.

Grounding Your Body

A view from my barefoot walk.

What is Grounding?

Grounding your body is extremely important for your health.  Grounding, also called earthing, is when your body is in direct contact with the earth.  When you take off your shoes and walk outside barefoot, that is grounding your body.  Our shoes have rubber or plastic soles which do not conduct electricity, which is why barefoot is best.

How does Grounding Work?

Our bodies have electrical currents.  The world that we live in is full of positive and negative ions.  Negative ions are better for the body, where positive ions can cause harm.  An example of negative ions is running water, like a waterfall or river.  An example of positive ions is the television.  It is believed that the earth has an endless supply of negative ions due to the atmosphere.  Since the earth has a greater negative charge than your body, when the two come in contact, your body will absorb the negative charges from the earth.  If you need more information or help understanding that process, research diffusion and osmosis to learn about how water moves.  That is a simplified version of what is happening without getting into the chemistry.

Take off your shoes when you can!

Why is Grounding Your Body Necessary?

With all of our modern advances such as footwear, beds, etc., we are no longer in contact with the earth as our ancestors were.  They used shoes made of animal skins (which can allow charges to pass when wet) and slept mostly on the ground.  I am not advocating that we go back to those lifestyles, because I enjoy the comfort that shoes and elevated beds bring.  However, since we have removed ourselves from the earth, it only makes sense to get connected whenever possible.  The benefits are unbelievable!  Research has shown that grounding can help inflammation, sleep, the heart and even respiratory issues.

If you are unable to simply kick your shoes off and walk barefoot, there are other ways.  For example, if you live in a city or it is winter time, walking barefoot may not be the easiest.  There are several products on the market including sheets and a grounding mat.  They are an investment, but if you are spending time and money on other measures that are not working, why not give it a try?  Nature always seems to have a simple way to solve our problems.  Grounding is just another piece of the grand design of our Creator.  Who knew walking around barefoot would be so beneficial?!

Being outside in nature is always so restorative.

For more information on grounding, check out this link.

For more information on other tips to improve your health, click here.

Simplify Your Life – Go Smaller

Smaller living

Why We Went Smaller

I have written several posts before about how to simplify your life and why your family will thank you.  Due to our simplification process, we decided to sell our home and move into a smaller place. We left a 3 bedroom home to go to a 1 bedroom home and couldn’t be happier! We have finally settled into our new, smaller home with everything in its place.  Consequently, many people we have spoken to do not understand why anyone would do this. It seems as if we are going backwards.

You know the American dream is to buy a big house and have a great job with children. Oh, I forgot the white fence. And the dog. It seems like everyone always wants to get more stuff and bigger homes. Yet, people seem unhappy and grumpy.  The problem with us was, we didn’t feel like we had time to invest in each other and our daughter because we were so busy taking care of all of our stuff. And working on the house, because that truly never ends. Just ask anyone who owns a home! Something always needs to be fixed, painted, updated, cleaned, etc. And then, there’s the outside. It is never ending.  Rather than fixing up physical things, we’d rather invest in relationships.

How We Feel Now

After moving out and getting unpacked, we are completely at peace with our decision.  The smaller home can be cleaned in no time at all.  We have more time to spend with each other and less stuff cluttering our space.  As I have written before, it was very difficult to start the process.  Many of us have an emotional connection to our stuff.  Hence, getting rid of stuff is very personal.

But, now that we have come full circle, I can tell you that it is worth it!  I can tell a difference in my stress level.  We are happier and feel free.  There is freedom in simplifying!  Since moving, we now have more time and money to continue to pay down debt.  God does not want us to be in debt.  It’s not healthy to owe money to others for things that we cannot afford.  Many people go their entire lives in debt, whether it’s a mortgage or car payment, or both.  As a result, they may never experience the freedom that comes with having less stuff.  Most of all, humans were created to thrive on relationships, not FaceBook status or how big your house is, or how much stuff you buy.  Relationships matter.  All of our stuff really does not.

Benefits of Going Smaller

  • More time to spend with family
  • Don’t take things for granted
  • Shifts priorities – you learn what is important
  • Less stress
  • Everything serves a purpose (or two)
  • Peaceful (Especially if you live on a farm like we do!)
  • You learn creative ways to do certain things
  • Less waste – you’re not heating/cooling space you don’t use

How many of you actually use your dining room, anyway?!

I would encourage anyone reading this to look at what you are currently holding on to.  Does it serve a purpose?  Could you part with it?  Everything that we own is stored in our subconscience.  All those unnecessary trinkets are really clogging up your mental space.   Read more here and here.  Start in a closet.  Or the garage.  Is there enough space to park your car?  If the answer is no, then that should be the goal.  It’s so sad to see all of these homes with garages and cars parked outside.  Don’t pay for storage, go through your belongings and purge!  I promise, you won’t regret it.  The long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term feelings.  Don’t be afraid to go against the grain or “norm” just because others aren’t.


Want to read more?  Click here to purchase my ebook about Living Simply.

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Click here to find one book that helped us simplify our lives in more ways than one.

Living Simply – Are You Ready For It?

Less is More

I viewed a documentary called Minimalism, focusing on living simply in a world of I Gotta Have It Right Now.  Very inspiring and eye-opening with interviews of many people, including people with PhDs discussing the poor social state that many of us are in.  Less is more.  Why have we let the marketing industry brain wash us into thinking we must have __________ to be happy?  Thinking about people trampling  others at Black Friday sales makes me sick.  At the end of the documentary, one of the authors of the minimalist blog said, “Love people, use things, not the other way around.”  That is a mouthful!  As believers we are called to love others, but I’ve never thought of it like this before.  So, instead of “listening” to someone talking while you are using a smart phone, put down the phone and invest in that relationship!

The Love of Material Things

We are living in a current society where many people do not want for anything; they buy whatever they want whenever they want it.  Living simply isn’t even a thought.  You don’t have enough money?  That’s fine; there’s a credit card, or store card that you can charge.  This is SOOOOO unhealthy!  Instant gratification has spoiled so many of us.  I remember growing up and saving up my birthday AND Christmas money to buy things that I wanted.  Those wish lists that I created so my friends and family knew what I wanted……. that has all gone by the wayside.

Living simply doesn’t even make sense to so many people.  Who needs anything?  It makes me sick to think of the hundreds of dollars that I have spent on clothing!  Fashion that changes every month is too much to keep up with and not even worth the time or energy.  Many people are trapped in this state of keeping up with their neighbors, or showing up their family, or outranking their friends.  We can’t even enjoy our lives because we are working so much to pay for things that we don’t need and to live in houses that are too large.  For more information about clutter, click here.

simplify your life

Living Simply is a Process

We have slowly made small changes over the course of 2 years.  First, we slowed down our spending.  Just because Apple launches a new product, doesn’t mean that the old one stops working.  Why is it that we feel like we have to have everything the second we want it?  Three and four generations ago, people worked hard for everything that they had and I bet they were more grateful and lived happier lives.

The next step my family took was looking at some of our larger furniture and knick knacks.  Do we need all of these tables in our living room?  No.  Do these little figurines serve any purpose?  No.  Do we ever use that?  No.   Is it necessary to have 3 of one thing?  No. Having lawn sales was extremely helpful in getting rid of things we didn’t value and making some extra cash.  We are living simply and are actually happier with less stuff.

Learn more about de-cluttering here.

We are currently in the process of moving into a one bedroom apartment from our 3 bedroom home.  This is not something that will happen overnight, and it will not be easy to begin.  However, once you begin this process, it is SOOOO FREEING!  You feel free when you simplify and downsize.  It helps you focus on what really matters in your life.  I want to spend less time cleaning my house and more time with my family.

And don’t forget about your digital life.  Click here.

Ripple Effects

Not only are these habits and thoughts unhealthy for us and our families, they also affect our society.  I am a teacher, so I see the next generation on a daily basis.  Talk about struggle.  Talk about frustration.  I can see it in the kids and the adults.  It almost seems like we are speaking different languages.  So much time is spent on social media that face-to-face conversations, social etiquette and common courtesy are becoming nonexistent.

Communication is breaking down because people don’t have the life skills to function around other human beings!  It is so aggravating when you are talking to someone and they won’t put down their phone/tablet/whatever the newest gadget is!  Human beings are relational.  We are wired to function as collaborative groups, relying on each other and helping each other.  This love for material things has made us so selfish and introverted that we’ve lost something along the way that I think is detrimental to the species!  It is so encouraging to view other people snapping out of it and realizing that the best things in life aren’t things.

living simply

Make a Change Today!  Less IS More!

Be intentional.  Live Simply.  Enjoy life.  Love who you are, regardless of what you have or what you are wearing.  Evaluate how you are spending your time and money.  Are those things that you have in your closet really worth anything to you?  Could you get rid of some of your clutter to eliminate having to pay someone else to store your stuff?  Start small.  Tackle one room (or closet) at a time.  I like to give myself challenges.  Eliminate the need for one shelf in your closet, or fit everything into one box.  We just went through our Christmas decorations and have everything other than the tree fitting into one tote.

Don’t go to work just to make enough money to pay the bills, or to pay for the things that you don’t need.  Life is so much more than stuff!  Slow down and pause to smell the flowers in your garden.  Listen to the animals chattering in your backyard.  Spend time with your kids.  These are mood-boosting and “bucket” filling.  (If you haven’t checked out the book, Simplify, I strongly recommend it!)  These are the important things in life to focus on, not cleaning your 4 bathrooms in your huge home.  As the minimalist said on the documentary, “Love people and use things.”  How can you love someone today?

Read more here.

Playing Hand and Foot

Hand and Foot

Hand and Foot shuffling

This card game called “Hand and Foot” is really popular in Florida.  You work on teams and play cards to make books.  The game duration varies in length, so there is time for talking and snacking.  We have a lot of fun in big groups playing this game.  Apparently, there are different versions of this game, depending on where you play.  Here’s the version that the Schell family uses.

Hand and Foot Rules

  1. Use one more deck of cards than the number of people playing.  For example, if there are 4 people, you will need 5 decks.  We bought a multi-card pack at Sam’s Club.
  2. Card point value: 4-7s are worth 5 points each, 8-10 and Face cards (King, Queen, Jack) are worth 10 points each, Ace and 2s are worth 20 points each (2 is a wild card), Joker is another wild worth 50 points, Red 3s are negative 300 points, Black 3s are worth 0 points.
  3. There are four rounds, with specific points required to begin laying down cards.  Round 1: 50 points, Round 2: 90 points, Round 3: 120 points, Round 4: 150 points.
  4. A completed book is 7 cards.  Red books have no wilds and are worth 300 points at the end of the round; Black books have wild cards and are worth 100 points.  We usually play that you have two Red books and 3 Black books before you can end the round.
  5. Black books must have one less wild card than non-wild cards.

How to Play Hand and Foot

  1. Assemble teams.  We usually play with 2-3 people on each team.  There can be 2-3 teams.  You cannot sit next to the person(s) who is/are on your team.
  2. Shuffle the cards really well.
  3. Hand and Foot starting outMake two piles of cards face down.  Each player turns over a card(s) from anywhere in the stack of cards, revealing its value.  The highest value goes first. Hand and Foot
  4. Each player tries to grab 22 cards.  If you do, your team gets 100 points.  Make two piles of 11 cards each, face down.  Just for the record, while I was laying cards out to snap a picture for this post, I got 22!  Woot woot.  Too bad it didn’t count. Hand and Foot starting out
  5. Keep one pile as yours to play.  You may look at these cards – this is called your hand.
  6. Pass the other pile to the person on your left.  They may not look at these cards yet – this is their foot.
  7. Organize your cards by grouping like cards together. Hand and Foot starting out
  8. When it is your turn, draw two cards and discard one card.  Plays move clockwise. Make sure to discard Red 3s!  Hand and Foot main pile
  9. One person from each team needs to have enough cards to lay out based on the points above.  You must have 3 cards of a kind.  You cannot make a book of 3s or wilds.
  10. Once one person from your team has laid out cards, other players can lay down their cards.  They may play off of cards already laid out or start new books. Hand and Foot starting out
  11. When you play all the cards in your hand, you go into your foot.  This can all happen in the same turn, meaning you can play right into your foot.
  12. Once you have the correct number of books (see above), you can get rid of all of your cards, called “going out.”  The team who goes out receives 100 points. Hand and Foot laid out
  13. Count the points of your books first, then your cards that you played, making sure to take out any cards that count against each player.
  14. Record points of teams, then shuffle and repeat.

 Just try it!

I know there are a lot of rules and things to remember!  When I started playing Hand and Foot, I remember feeling so overwhelmed. As with anything, the more that you play, the easier it will get.  We have played this game for years and really enjoy it.  So, give it a try!




Jewelry Display DIY

I make my own diffuser jewelry to sell at craft shows and vendor events.  Displaying the jewelry was taking up soooooo much space on my table, that I wanted to come up with another way for a jewelry display.  Below are some of the necklaces that I have made.

diffuser jewelry

You put a piece of felt or those little pom poms inside the locket and then add the essential oil to that.  Read more about essential oils here.  Read why I use essential oils instead of perfume here.  I really like having them on the card stock for transporting and selling, but was struggling with displaying them for sale.  So, I decided to make my own display.

Make Your Own Jewelry Display

wire for project

I wanted to make something that was cheap (meaning using things that I already had laying around) and easy.  I had some extra wooden frames, clothespins and this floral wire.

pliers for project

  1. First, carefully remove the glass from the frame.
  2. Then, use pliers to cut the wire length.  I just held it up to the back of the frame and guessed.

cute little clothespins

3. Next, thread the wire through the spring part of the clothespins.  They will hang but still be able to spring open.

hot glue gun keeps wire in place

4. Use a hot glue gun to attach the wire ends to the back of the frame, making sure the little clothespins stay on.

clothespins on wire

Almost finished!  Jewelry display DIY at its best.

decorative paper added

5. Finally, add decorative paper – this is scrapbook paper – to the back, in addition to the backing of the frame.  Push down all those annoying little metal pieces to hold the frame back on.

ready to hang jewelry

6. Attach desired jewelry.  Or whatever you want.  I designed this to hold jewelry, but the options are endless.  You could hang pictures, notes, mail, etc.  Just decide what you are using it for before you create it, so you know where to put the wire and how many clothespins you will need.

finished project

Here’s another one that I made going landscape.   They were a big hit at the vendor event and helped draw people to my table.  The jewelry is usually a great seller.

Make Homemade Pizza for Dinner Tonight

Why Make Homemade Pizza?

Homemade pizza is a weekly tradition in my home.  Over two years ago, my family decided to get healthy for real, after reading The Daniel Plan.  Um, can we say #LifeChanging  ?!  Read more here.

I started researching the ingredients in most boxed/packaged foods and they are not good.  Most processed items purchased in stores do not contain food; they contain food-like ingredients.  Our bodies are amazing creations with lots of abilities and processes in place to pull nutrients out of food.  However, when you are fueling your body with food-like substances, the body does not know what to do with the food.  Plus, eating food-like substances is not getting you the nutrition that you get from eating FOOD.  It’s really not difficult to make food from scratch; it just takes time and planning.

Steps for Making Homemade Pizza

  1. Make the dough.  I love making dough in the bread machine, because I’m not a fan of the whole kneed thing.  Dump ingredients into bread machine and press start.  The one drawback is time here.  My machine takes 1.5 hours to make dough.  Early afternoons on Sundays, we start preparing for dinner.  Our favorite recipe is from Mom on TimeOut.  Find it here.     Homemade pizza starts with homemade dough
  2. Of course, I also love our Pampered Chef pizza stone.  You can let the dough set for a few minutes – I have left it in the fridge for 30 minutes – one hour.  Here recently, I have baked it right away and that works fine also.  So, either put it in the fridge for later, or jump to the next step.  Make sure you preheat your oven!  I do 400 degrees.

Rolling the dough

3. Roll out the dough.  I am definitely not an expert with this!  Each time, it comes out differently.  I roll it and pick it up and stretch it out.  Anything that works, right?!  With this recipe, I’ve not had to use flour because it doesn’t stick to the roller.  This is my least favorite (and most time consuming) part of the homemade pizza making process.

The Crust is Ready

4. Next comes the sauce.  I just pour some in the middle and spread evenly with a spoon.  How much you use depends on your sauce preference.  I enjoy more sauce!

Add sauce

5. Cheese is next.  I mean, what is pizza without the cheese?!  Now, dairy is not really good for your body, so I have tried to cut back on my family’s intake of dairy products.  The pizza dinner is really a treat.  We buy mozzarella in bulk and shred/slice it ourselves.  (Shredded cheese that you purchase in the store sometimes has not-so-great ingredients to keep the cheese from sticking together.  You know, like saw dust and other chemicals.  Yum-not!)  Shred and slice your own cheese.  Seriously, how has the food industry been allowed to get away with this nonsense?!  But, I digress.  Here’s what the cheese looks like: cheese

Happy with just Cheese?  Skip Step 6.

6. The final prep stage is the toppings.  Here’s where you can really get creative.  This is probably one of my favorite reasons to make homemade pizza in the first place.  My family loves Hawaiian pizza with pineapple and ham, sausage, veggies, banana peppers, etc.  The possibilities are endless!  I have even made one with ketchup and mustard instead of sauce, with ground beef.  Cheeseburger pizza.  For this baking session, I didn’t have any fun ingredients, so I just stuck with the staple, pepperoni.

slice it up

Yes, we slice our pepperoni also.  I try to prep as much as I can at home.  The less that the food company does, the better.

Choose your toppings on your homemade pizza

As you can see, hubby likes pepperoni more than the girls.  This is another perk!  You can completely customize the toppings to fit your family’s needs/wants.

7. Put on the bottom rack for 9 minutes.

img_3919 Bake that pizza

8. Spin pizza and put on the top rack for another 9 minutes.

homemade pizza almost done

Always Use Caution!

Confession: I forgot about how greasy pepperoni can be and put some a little too close to the edge of the stone.  Enough dripped over the side to make quite a mess in the oven.  Don’t make the same mistake!  Line the bottom with aluminum foil, or don’t go so close to the edge.  On a side note, this pizza had a slightly smoky flavor from the small fire I caused in the bottom of my oven.  It was not intended, but unexpectedly good.  I don’t think it’s worth the fire hazard, but I was glad that the pizza was not ruined!

Ready to eat

9. Optional: I like to make a crust oil to spice up the crust.  Olive oil, salt and spices.  I think this is Oregano.  If I don’t have any spices on hand, I will use my essential oils.  Read more about those here.  When the pizza is finished cooking (Again – learn from my mistake.  AFTER the pizza has cooked, not during!) brush the oily goodness on the crust. Experiment with different flavors and spices.  It will only enhance the homemade pizza experience.

crust topping

Here is the oily crust topping ready to go!

Compliment Your Homemade Pizza With…

I usually pair this meal with a nice, green, leafy salad topped with seeds and veggies.  For salad dressing, I enjoy mixing 2 parts olive oil with 1 part basaltic vinaigrette.  For an extra nutritional punch, I will cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and bake with sliced onions, sea salt and olive oil.  375 degrees until sweet potatoes are soft, usually 30 minutes.

Added Bonus

This is a great way to bring the family together to wrap up the weekend.  J is still a toddler, so she “helps” make dinner, but as she gets older, I will give her more responsibilities.  Education is key.  I want her to know where her food comes from and that it’s important to prepare as much as possible from scratch.  The detachment so many people have with food is alarming.  Here I go rambling again.  Enjoy the pizza!

Interested in another laborious but lovely recipe?  Click here to read about my homemade applesauce.

Natural scents or Chemical-laced Perfumes

Chemical free perfume

Using Natural Scents vs. “Fragrance”

Natural scents say exactly what they are scents that come from nature.  Fragrance is an ingredient in many cosmetic, hygiene, and household products.  Companies market the bottle like it contains natural scents, but read the ingredients.  I bet you will find fragrance in the list.  Natural scents that I use with my family include using Young Living’s therapeutic grade essential oils.  Read more about that here and here.  I use these essential oils to make all kinds of products for myself and my family.  Perfume is one thing that I ditched as soon as I stated researching fragrance.  I now make my own 🙂

Why is Fragrance a “Bad” Ingredient?

According to EWG (Environmental Working Group – a great resource if you haven’t already heard of them), companies can legally use the word “fragrance” as a cover for any number of chemicals used to create a scent.  Many of these chemicals have been linked to weight gain, respiratory problems and other minor – but unnecessary – issues.

Using products with these chemicals is not good for your body’s endocrine system.  This is the system that controls your hormones, which have a direct impact on many things that happen inside your body.  Even more disturbing, these companies are not always required to test their products to make sure that they are safe for human use.

Here’s what EWG’s website states: “under U.S. law, the term fragrance is defined as a combination of chemicals that gives each perfume or cologne its distinct scent.”

I’m not sure if this image is clear to see, but it shows that after testing many perfumes, it was found that they contained MANY chemicals.

Tested perfumes and chemicals

This is not something that I will voluntarily expose my body to!

What are the Natural Alternatives?

Diffuser jewelry

I choose to say no to chemicals, especially ones that will be sprayed onto my skin and clothes!  I don’t want to breathe in chemicals all day!  Instead, I make my own diffuser jewelry and add pure essential oils to fabric inside the locket.  The scent is pleasing to the nose, and packs extra body benefits.  Joy is what I commonly use to boost my mood throughout the day.  Smelling a scent is a great way to gain access to your body’s cells.  There is a direct path from the nose to the brain.  Scents are a powerful thing, and I want to steer clear of chemicals whenever and wherever possible.

Do your own research.  I bet you will be surprised at the information that you find.  First, the food industry’s complete lack of concern for the consumer, now the cosmetic industry carries that same integrity (or lack thereof).  You must be educated and seek the knowledge out for yourself.  It seems like we are doing so many things wrong!  Any small change that you can make is for the better.

Interested in taking the plunge to get healthier?  Find lists and explanations of many different things that you can try in previous posts.  Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.  Try to cut out one major source of fragrance in your home today!  Candles, body wash, lotion, scented cleaning products?  Remember, your family’s health is at stake!

Homemade Applesauce

finished applesauce jars

Why homemade applesauce?

This is my first real experience making homemade applesauce…and going through the entire process…. yum!  Let’s talk about why you would want to start this process in the first place.   If you haven’t done any research about the food industry, let me just shorten it down for you.


Sugar is relatively cheap to use and is very addictive.  For the company who is trying to make a profit, that’s great news, however, for the consumer, it is NOT.  Sugar feeds cancer and makes your body crave more sugar.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to find products without sugar in the ingredients – be careful; there are tons of different names for sugar!

Think that’s bad?  Here’s more:

Also, if there is a small enough amount of something, companies don’t have to list it as an ingredient – thanks a lot FDA!  So, knowing exactly what is in the applesauce (hello, apples!) is very appealing to me and my family.  If you’d like more information on foods and why I read the ingredients, click here.

The process of making applesauce – Part I – Preparation

  1. First, get jars – I prefer quart sized because my family of 3 loves applesauce and we go through quite a bit.
empty jars
Make sure you run the jars through the dishwasher beforehand.

2. Second, get apples and wash them.  I prefer Staymen apples, but got Golden Delicious and Jonagolds which were also good.

pretty little apples
I got seconds apples from a local orchard, TS Smiths.

3. Since you will be cooking these apples, make sure you cut them and remove any bad spots.

sliced apples
Quarter cut and core apples.

The process of making applesauce – Part II

4. Then, cook the cut apples.  This may take a long time, depending on the kinds of apples that you purchase.  Stir as needed.  Smells of homemade applesauce filling your home = bonus!

cooking apples
Add apple quarters to a large pot to cook. Add water if you want to also make apple juice.  Pick a cool day because the kitchen gets HOT.

5. Once apples have cooked and are soft, dump into a bowl to cool (if you’re making tons, you will need to refill the pot on the stove and keep cooking).  If you added water in Step 3, you will need to strain the juice out of the cooked apples now.

cooked apples
Cooked apples ready to run through the Victorian Strainer

6. Run cooked and slightly cooled apples through Victorian Strainer.  You will need something to catch the peels (we used a glass bowl inside of this steel one) and something else to catch the applesauce.

Victorian Strainer
This machine removes the peel and any part of the core that was missing in the cutting process.

The process of making applesauce – Part III – Packaging the Goodness

7. If you have help, have someone sterilizing lids while you are straining apples. Cover with water and bring to a boil on the stove.  Keep the lids in the hot water until you are ready to put on the filled jars.

Sterilize lids on stove

8. Once your applesauce has no peels, fill up those jars!  Be careful not to make a mess!

yummy applesauce
Use a funnel to scoop applesauce into empty jars.

9. Now, take care to remove any residue from the very top of the jar where the lid will go.  It is super important that the lid seals in the next step, or all of your hard work is wasted when the applesauce goes bad.

wiping tops of jars
Use a wet paper towel to wipe the tops of the jars where the lid must seal.

10. Put the lids on!

Make sure you have this magnetic tool to grab the lids out of the hot water!
Make sure you have this magnetic tool to grab the lids out of the hot water!

11. Add the screw top (sorry, I forgot to snap that picture!) and tighten just with your hands.  No tools needed.

The process of making applesauce – Part IV – Preparing for Storage

12. The vibration of the water boiling can cause your jars to crack if they are sitting directly on the bottom of the pot.  They sell bottoms specifically designed to hold jars, or you can just use extra screw on tops.  Once water is boiling, time it for at least 10 minutes.  This seals the lids.

hot water bath
Put jars in pot with something on the bottom and fill 1 inch above lid with water.

13. Carefully remove jars and set on a towel with a little space in between jars.  If you are making lots, fill pot again, adding water if needed, and repeat.  Once finished, cover jars with towels to help them cool slowly.  Do not move jars for at least 24 hours!  This ensures the seal on the lids is not broken!

taking jars out of bath
Make sure you have this handy little tool to remove the jars from the hot water.  Not the best photo here!

14. Once your jars have set for 24 hours, you may move them into your cupboard or pantry.  You could even give them away.  Who wouldn’t want freshly made applesauce?!

finished jars
Yum!  This is about half of what I made.

Now that it’s finally over

I purchased 4 bags of seconds apples and was able to make 39 jars of applesauce and 3 jars of apple juice.  It takes a lot of work and is exhausting, but it is so worth it!  I would definitely recommend doing a lot of jars.  It would be too much of a pain for only a few jars.

Overall, making homemade applesauce is super tiring, but when I consider all of the benefits for my family combined with the fellowship of friends during the process, it’s a win-win.