Monday, January 15, 2018

Ten Easy Recipes for Your Slow Cooker

How many times have you heard that eating at home is healthier than eating out? It's a nice concept but it can be a struggle to eat at home on a busy day. But what if you had a delicious meal waiting for you when you walked in the door? Would that change things? What if that meal took minimal prep work and cooked itself? That's where the slow cooker and easy to make meals comes in! I love our slow cooker for busy days and that's why I'm bringing you ten easy recipes you can use in your slow cooker on busy days.

*Affiliate links are used in this post. They don't harm you in any way, but they do allow us to bring in a bit of money to help support the blog!*

First, I want to start by saying that if you don't have a crockpot with a timer, then you're going to want one! I used to avoid slow cooker meals on my busy days because I was typically gone longer than the recipes needed. Once I bought a crockpot with a timer, it made all of the difference. All I have to do is put in the food, set the temperature and time, and return home to a delicious meal. My slow cooker automatically switches over to warm when the timer ends. It's absolutely perfect!

Enough about the love I have for our crockpot though - I know you're here for the recipes. Before we dive into them, I wanted to share what I look for in easy recipes. First, the ingredients should be thrown in without any precooking. Second, the prep work (cutting, dicing, etc) should be minimal to save time. And third, I aim for a minimal amount of ingredients. Essentially, I look for simple recipes with minimal prep work.

Crockpot Chicken Tacos from The Coastie Couple

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken and Baked Potatoes from The Coastie Couple

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas from Cooking Classy

Crockpot Stuffed Peppers from Humorous Homemaking (vegetarian)

Crockpot Sausage, Green Beans, and Potatoes from Recipes that Crock

Crockpot Beef Stew from Life in the Lofthouse

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken and Potatoes from The Recipe Critic

Slow Cooker Beef and Brocolli from Cake Whiz

Slow Cooker Shredded Italian Beef from The Chunky Chef

Slow Cooker Meatloaf Recipe from Cincy Shopper

If you try out any of the recipes, I'd love to hear your thoughts! They are all very simple and would make great dinners to come home to on a busy day.

Do you have a favorite recipe that should be on this list? Share it in the comments below! I love finding new recipes.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

What is Simple Living?

I recently realized that there's a phrase that describes my purpose with this blog perfectly. In many ways, this blog is all about simple living for busy women. When this phrase came to me, I decided that I needed to look up the term simple living and find out if it fits.

Here's a few of the terms that came up in my search: poverty on purpose, minimalism, organic, crunchy, homesteading, intentional living, green living, zero waste, frugal, and so many other descriptors. This showed me that the term "simple living" is open for interpretation and that I should probably share my definition of simple living.

My journey towards living simply started a little over a year ago when we moved across the country from California to Michigan. We chose to let movers handle all of the boxing an heavy lifting for us, especially since I was pregnant during the move.
The eye opening moment was when I watched the movers unpack our belongings. We lived in a small one bedroom apartment in California and our stuff suddenly fit comfortably into our three bedroom house in Michigan. This was a problem. This showed me that we had too much stuff. This is the moment that started a shift in my outlook on living. 
I started to shift from basic living to making decisions with intention and keeping things simple. To me, simple living encompasses several different facets of life. It's more than getting rid of all of your stuff or living like you have nothing. In fact, it's neither of these things to me. It's a matter of keeping things simple in a not-so-simple world. It's a matter of making things a little less complicated so that you can enjoy the special moments that happen each and every day.
While I have spent some time decluttering our belongings, we definitely aren't minimalists. We are mindful shoppers and careful about what we bring into our home. This doesn't mean that we never purchase anything. This simply means that we think through the things we purchase and bring into our home. We try to keep in mind how we're going to use an item and what purpose it serves before we bring it into our home.
I have been decluttering and organizing our home for several months now (in fact, I created the Room by Room Challenge as a result). While I've gotten rid of many things, we still have a lot of belongings and there's probably more decluttering in my future. I'm learning to let go of sentimental connections to objects so that I can create sentimental attachments to memories instead. Memories stick with you forever and stuff is just a temporary space filler.
When it comes to simple living, I don't believe that it stops with the stuff in our homes. I believe that the clutter in our schedules can be just as stressful as the physical stuff that surrounds us. This is why I include time management and how we look at our schedule in my definition of simple living. I feel that creating a schedule that contains things that make you happy and fulfilled is an important part of living a happy life.
Overall, I can sum up my definition of simple living by saying that it's a matter of embracing life, looking for the things that make you happy, and letting go of the things that don't. It's a matter of embracing who you are and what you value in life rather than focusing on the opinions of others. By keeping things simple in life, you can embrace life and find happiness in all of your moments.
Are you familiar with the term simple living? What does it mean to you?

Monday, January 8, 2018

Five Changes I'm Making to my Blog in 2018

The new year often brings about change and a renewed outlook on things. This year is no exception. I briefly touched on the changes I'm making to my blog during my goals post, but I wanted to go into a bit more depth in this post. I also wanted to share the reasons behind these changes and how they'll improve things for my readers.

There are five major ways that I'll be improving my website this year. Many of these are not immediate changes and will take time, money, or both before they can be completed. There may be some hiccups along the way but I'm extremely excited about the direction I have planned for my blog.
Improved Graphics and Branding
The first and most immediate change that I'll be making is to my branding and graphics. I've always tried to keep them coherent and consistent across the blog. This means I create templates and banners that match and can be used and modified for different posts. I've already made some changes to my graphics and I'm currently loving the new layout.  
Moving from Blogger to Wordpress
I originally started out on Blogger because it was an easy to use platform that was free. When I started my blog, I saw it as a temporary hobby that wouldn't be sticking around for the long term. Since then, I have grown my blog and it has become a major part of my life. This year, I have major goals for monetizing and growing even more and I feel like I need a different platform in order to make this happen. So, I'll officially be moving from Blogger over to Wordpress. I have to admit - I'm excited and nervous about this big change. 
Quality over Quantity
Quality posts has always been a big goal of mine. In the past, I've posted many times throughout the week because my schedule allowed for it. With a little one in the house, I've found that I don't have the same amount of time. I've been trying to keep up with my usual posting schedule and it just isn't working. So, I'll be posting less, but they'll be posts of quality, which is what truly matters.
More Storytelling
I'm not sure when, but somewhere in the past four years, I found myself writing how to articles rather than truly lifestyle posts. This year, I'll be getting back to storytelling on the blog and you'll see more personal stories and how I make things work in my own life. As a result, there will be more mommy posts on the blog than in the past. Being a mom is an important part of who I am and while I don't consider myself a mommy blogger, I do consider myself a mommy and a lifestyle blogger and those two worlds do meet up often. 
Improving Layout and Navigation
I mentioned above that I'll be improving my branding and graphics. With this, I'll also be improving my layout and the navigation of the site. You can expect to see new categories, a simpler layout, and less clutter overall. I've slowly been making improvements, but I plan to make even more as the year progresses!
I'm excited for the year ahead and have big hopes for the things I have planned. I do hope you'll continue to follow and support me as I make these improvements for the blog and my readers.
What changes are you making in the new year?