Favorite Recipes · Hmm, Pinteresting

Keto “bread”

I don’t follow KETO specifically but I try to substitute proteins for carbs whenever I can. My body seems to function better that way. And I stay fuller longer. I found this recipe a couple months back and saved it to my healthy recipes to try Pinterest board.

I have found many pins using this same recipe so I have no way to credit the original recipe creator but I will leave the original pin as I found it for proper credit to that pinner.

Here is the original PIN I found next to my finished product:

My Attempt

  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Garlic salt sprinkled on top before baking

I used the convection setting on my oven which puts it at 375°.

They only needed 15 minutes to cook. Any longer might have made them too crispy.

PROS:

  • Easy to make
  • Easy to double or triple recipe to make more
  • Very fast prep time
  • I could successfully pretend this was bread
  • Very versatile

CONS:

  • Could be bland without some spice for flavoring which is why I sprinkled garlic salt on it.
  • Needs to be eaten soon after it’s made. Doesn’t age well.

In the future, I plan to use this recipe to make:

  • Bagels
  • Breakfast sandwiches
  • Mini pizzas
  • Cheese sticks

Nutrition

  • Serving size: 1 whole regular-sized bagel (2 halves) or 1 regular-sized hamburger bun (top and bottom).
  • 1 serving is approximately 271 Calories; 20.8g Fat; 11.5g Sat. Fat; 156mg Cholest.; 705mg Sodium; 1.5g Carbs; 0g Fiber; 0.7g Sugar; 15.4g Protein.
Cleaning and Organizing · Life Hacks

Cleaning Hack: Dirty Stroller

I wouldn’t call myself cheap, but I appreciate a bargain. Especially when it comes to equipment and clothing for my children. I still end up spending plenty on them, but when I can save a few bucks here and there, it means I can splurge on the more fun stuff.

Getting hand-me-downs and re-gifts is a great place to start when you’re expecting a child, but as you get further in, you start to realize how much stuff you actually need for a baby. Of course, there are some things that are more of a luxury and not a necessity. But there are some items that end up on every baby registry or wishlist. A stroller is one of them.

When I found out I was pregnant with my second baby, I started to think about what life would look like with a newborn AND a toddler. How do I keep track of both of them at the same time when we’re out and about? How do I get both of them from one place to another outside of a vehicle? It all started to sound overwhelming, but I was determined to make the transition from one to two as easy on myself as possible. I struggled with anxiety when I became a mom the first time, and I was intent on preventing a repeat situation.

Dreaming of a Two-Seater

I told myself years ago (before I had kids) that I never wanted to have to juggle a double-stroller. Well, that bit of pride went right out the window when I discovered multi-function strollers. They now have double strollers (for two children) that convert into different seating functions. You can have two seats for toddler-sized kids, or two spots for baby carriers (good for twins), a spot for an older kid to stand and hold on, or any variation of those options.

My bargain stroller almost totally clean!

Since I love a bargain, I was determined not to pay full price for one of these luxury baby vehicles. I saw how the stroller I had for my first child got beat up, used heavily, and tossed around, and this made me less excited to sink several hundred dollars into something that received that much wear and tear. So, I started bargain shopping.

Thankfully, there are as many people trying to get rid of their old child-rearing gear as there are trying to buy it, so I had plenty of options to choose from. Once I narrowed down the make and model of the stroller I wanted (based on reviews I read on new ones combined with input from other moms), I jumped on the Facebook Marketplace and searched my surrounding area for the stroller I wanted.

I lucked out and found one for a fraction of the cost of a new one. It was practically free! I knew this most likely meant that it had some wear and tear, but at the price they were asking, I could hardly be picky. Once I picked up the item, I found that it wasn’t so much wear and tear that I should have been concerned about but more dirt and grime. Yuck! I know kids are messy, stinky, sticky, icky, cute, little creatures but this stroller had seen some action!

I had seen some Pinterest post months before about soaking a stroller in a bathtub filled with water and soap, but I wasn’t quite willing to submerge my stroller in water. Plus, I wanted to be able to let it dry out completely, which seemed tricky when washing it inside the house. Luckily, I was pregnant with an end-of-summer baby so I had great weather for my experiment.

The Nitty and Not-so-Gritty

I decided to wash my not-so-new stroller like I used to wash my car. (I say “used to” because I just go through the car wash now…I don’t have the time or energy to wash my own car anymore.) I cleaned the stroller in my driveway with a hose fixed with a spray nozzle that had multiple spray options. Here’s the breakdown of my method:

Scrub brushes like this make the job easier.
  1. Open up stroller completely and remove any loose debris. Turn it upside down and shake it out if need be. Vacuum it out! There are a lot of methods that could work for this part.
  2. Remove anything on the stroller that you don’t want getting wet. This could be any bags or extra things hanging off the stroller that don’t need cleaning.
  3. Open/extend all canopies as they will also be getting a scrub down and need to be easily accessible.
  4. Get a hose hooked up to water, preferably with a spray nozzle that offers at least one higher pressure setting.
  5. Spray the heck out of that stroller. Get every nook and cranny. Use the high pressure setting to blast stains and grimy surfaces. *Watch out for flying fishy crackers!*
  6. Using regular dish soap and a scrubby brush (I used the kind I use on dishes, and it worked fabulously), scrub every surface of that stroller until you get a decent lather all over.
  7. Using the high pressure hose setting, spray off all of the soapy surfaces until water runs clear.
  8. Check surfaces for any necessary re-scrubbing.
  9. Once stroller is clean of soap and dirt, leave in a warm, dry area or in the sun to dry.
  10. ***Don’t leave the stroller in the sun too long because some material colors could fade. Make sure to spin the stroller around every 15 minutes or so to speed up drying in the sun. Also, don’t leave a wet stroller in a warm, dark place or you could cause mold to grow on it. Similarly, don’t fold up the stroller if it is wet or even damp for the same reason. Fold it up once the material surfaces are COMPLETELY dry.***

You may need to go over some sections more than once. Seriously, kids are gross! But so much fun, amirite?! I purposely used just regular dish soap for this task because it is a mild detergent. I’m sure you could use something else, but I wouldn’t suggest it. You don’t know how some cleaners could affect the integrity of the stroller’s surfaces. You wouldn’t want to weaken materials or corrode the stroller’s moving parts.

This process took me maybe 30 minutes to complete, and it changed something that was garage-sale-quality into consignment-shop-quality for only minimal effort and no extra money. This process could be used on things like playpens, baby seats, high chairs, etc. But you SHOULD NOT use this process on car seats, as car seats have very strict rules on cleaning so that their structural integrity and safety are not compromised. Please do your research or ask a qualified car seat safety specialist for the proper methods of cleaning a car seat.

Building a Home · Home Life

Building Your Dream Home: Floor Plan Design Process

My husband and I moved in together when we got married. We had just purchased a home that was big enough to grow a family and had everything we wanted. It was a dream come true. What we didn’t see coming and couldn’t predict was that the city we chose to start a life in would change drastically and cause us to rethink our entire family plan.

We started looking at options to move, hoping to relocate far enough away from our current city but stay within the same state. I started shopping for houses, looking at different cities and towns outside of where we were currently living. Due to certain circumstances, we knew that we couldn’t make another mortgage purchase for a couple years so we had time to take things slowly and figure out our plans piece by piece.  

Even with the long and flexible timeline stretched out before us, we quickly became overwhelmed with the size and complexity of our possible move. On top of that, the issues within our current city were pushing us out more and more. Was there a way that we could speed up our timeline and escape as soon as possible? Then came a big “what if” question. When I first asked it, I thought for sure it would be immediately shot down. It’s crazy! Preposterous! We don’t have the money for that! Etc. Etc.

What if we could buy a piece of land and build our dream home over an extended period of time? Surprisingly, the question didn’t fall flat. We were both quiet for a few minutes trying to poke holes in the idea with the realities of our situation. But we couldn’t! So we began trying to figure out how one goes about building their dream house.

Step one was to buy a piece of land. For the sake of keeping this post at an abbreviated length, I’ll just say that over the course of several months we found the perfect piece of land and made the purchase. I may get into details of land purchasing in a different post.

The next step that we needed to figure out was how to design our dream home and turn it into a drawing that a builder could actually use. Here are the things I learned along the process:

Step One: Gather Ideas

I started by brainstorming with my husband a couple lists, defining all of the things we wanted to have in our dream house. Number of bedrooms, bathrooms, floors, special use rooms, special features. No matter how ridiculous they seemed, we wrote them down. Once I had those lists, I started to gather visual examples for the ideas on those lists.

An example of my Pinterest boards where I collected and organized my home design ideas.

I started with Pinterest. On Pinterest, I was able to create pin boards for all the rooms, features, and visual aesthetics we wanted. On those boards, I collected as many examples I could find. It also helped me find new and different ideas. I also found that there are thousands of floor plan links to look through for good starting points. Pinterest also has a function that suggests similar visuals, so if you find a particular type of floor plan that you like, you can find many variations of it there. This is how I found the original floor plan after which we modeled our design. Of course, each floor plan has copyrights, so you’ll have to make significant changes to any that you choose or pay a fee for the right to use it.

Step Two: Draw Up Some Floor Plans

Regardless of how you begin to assemble your floor plan, it can be a very helpful starting point just to start sketching ideas. After searching Pinterest for floor plans, I took a few that fit most of our requirements and combined them to start with. I used a couple methods for doing this. The first was to grab some good ol’ fashioned graph paper and hand-draw up some rough plans. Put rooms next to other rooms. See how they fit and flow together. I used a light table (you can also use a window with light coming through it) to stack the floors on top of one another to see how they line up.

Another option for drawing up floor plans is to try out the many different home design apps that exist. I tried several. Always try the free versions first to see if you like them. None of them are perfect, but many of them are helpful. Depending on your level of dedication and time available, these apps can be very useful for visualizing your floor plan ideas.

Here are some things to keep in mind when designing or choosing your floor plans:

  1. The plans that you initially design will be VERY different from the plans you end up with from a designer. This is not a bad thing. Just be prepared to compromise and change.
  2. Hallways are a huge waste of square footage and can drive up the cost of your house.
  3. Consider the layout of your land. Which way does the sun rise and set? Where are your views? If your land gets significant wind storms or road noise, make sure to place rooms in your design methodically based on those (and other) environmental factors.
  4. Are there going to be baby rooms/nurseries in this house? Consider placing those rooms far away from the noisier/high traffic rooms like the kitchen, living room, garage (due to garage door noise), theater/game/play room, etc.
  5. If your land is sloped, consider putting in a finished daylight basement.
  6. Roofing can be one of the most expensive parts of building a home. If you can have less square footage to cover in roofing, it could save you money. As an example- try to design multiple, stacked floors rather than a sprawling rambler-style house.

Step Three: Find a Designer/Architect

Something I learned early into our design process was that you need someone to draw up your blueprints regardless of how intricately you’ve drawn up your floor plans. There are varying levels of how much a designer provides you for your build process. This depends on the specific design firm and what they offer for their services. A designer and architect are generally the same thing, but they may refer to themselves as one or the other. Either way, a designer/architect is there to take your ideas and make them into something that works visually.

One of the many versions of our floor plans.

They usually have experience in knowing how a house should flow and what ideas work and what ideas are not worth considering. It is in your best interest to take their advice. Of course, I can’t speak for every designer out there, but you should choose one who has had a proper education and can show you a portfolio of work that fits with what you’d like for your house. They should be able to answer your questions, interpret your ideas, and steer you in a direction that gets you well on your way to building your dream home.

The designer we chose offered some very thorough job packages that covered everything from the exterior and interior design processes as well as the civil engineering and permits. We chose this because this was our first experience with the home building process, and we wanted to make sure that things were being done right.

Additionally, civil engineering is one of the most important parts of your home’s design process. Some design firms may offer this service in-house, but some may not. If they don’t, you’ll have to find a separate civil engineer. A civil engineer is the one who takes your visual house plans (from the designer/architect) and turns them into something that actually functions. They make separate plans for your lighting, your vent systems, plumbing, electrical, roofing structure, etc. These plans are necessary for your builders, which we will talk about more in a future post.

A few things to keep in mind during your design phase:

  1. Be very clear with your designer/architect on what their prices include. You might be surprised to find later on that something like civil engineering or permitting could be a separate charge all together.
  2. Listen to the suggestions of the designer. They should have the skills and experience to answer all of your questions and concerns. They also know when something just isn’t possible or might be out of your price range.
  3. Make sure you talk with your designer about what your home building price range is. Be very honest with them about how much you are looking to spend on the actual building of your home. They will then be able to keep your designs within that range.
  4. Know that there may be a lot of revisions and back and forth during this part of the process. Be patient and know that you’re that much closer to perfection.
  5. Be very honest and verbal about your questions and concerns. You need to get your plans exactly how you want them, and you cannot assume that your designer knows  what you’re picturing in your head.
  6. Find a designer who is familiar with the permit processes and code requirements for the specific county your house will be built in. Different counties have different requirements to pass inspection, and if your designer doesn’t catch them all the first time, it could lead to expensive rework.
  7. It is possible to find a designer who runs permits for you. This is very helpful if you are unfamiliar with the process. They will know what permits need to be filed and when and can help make sure those are completed on time.

In the end, this process should be fun and exciting. You should begin to see your ideas turned into real plans. Plans you can hold and show other people. It makes a huge difference to do your research first. Know who you are doing business with because you will be spending a lot of time and money on the design process. This is also an area of the process that you don’t want to skimp on. Being cheap with the design plans can cause a lot of rework and could end up costing you more in the long run.

An example of something your designer might be able to provide you alongside your floor plans.
Beauty · Honest Product Reviews

My Honest Review: Lash Boost by R&F

Full disclosure: This review DOES NOT make me any money. I am reviewing this product only as a consumer and do not stand to profit from any promotion of the product. I do NOT sell this product.

Any woman who has been pregnant before has noticed changes with her body. It wasn’t until I had given birth to my first child that I began to notice many things about my body that had changed and were still changing. Of course, carrying a baby inside your body will change your shape and the way some things function, but there are other changes, sometimes subtle, that you don’t notice right away.

Months after I had given birth to my son, I started to notice my hair changing. I was in denial for weeks that it was falling out. I had heard other moms talk about losing their hair, so I knew it was a possibility, but I didn’t believe it would happen to me. I thought having thick hair would save me from that. As I slowly started to lose my hair, I also noticed that my eyelashes had thinned out to a point that not even mascara could help. So, I started to look for options.

I had heard about eyelash extensions and other options similar to that, but I wasn’t willing to resort to that until I had exhausted all of the options I could do at home. I knew that eyelash extensions were only temporary and had to be done by a professional esthetician. This wasn’t a great option for me as a new mother. I didn’t have enough time in my days to leave the house for appointments like that. I wanted an option that I could do at home by myself.

“I wanted an option that I could do at home by myself.”

For months, I saw advertisements from a friend showing before and after pictures of women who had tried a product called Lash Boost from Rodan & Fields. This product was specially formulated to grow your lashes out as naturally as possible. Of course, I’m always skeptical of products coming from direct sales companies like Rodan & Fields. I, myself, have been a part of a couple MLM (multi-level marketing)/DS (direct sales) style companies in the past. Some companies sell really great, quality products and others do not. I had heard a lot of good things about R&F products, but I was still skeptical.

A friend of mine who is a consultant for R&F was running a deal on the Lash Boost so I figured it was a good time to try it. I had no idea how much it would cost, and when I found out the reality of the price tag, I almost backed out. It is expensive! That was my first impression. And because I had never purchased any other products from R&F, I had no basis for estimating the price to start with. But realistically, if growing my lashes out was important to me, Lash Boost still ended up being cheaper than going the route of eyelash extensions. The first tube I purchased was an experiment because I didn’t know if it would work or how long the tube of product would last me.

The Lash Boost product comes in a skinny, silver container, about the size of a mascara tube. When I first got it, I thought “this stuff better work for this price!” Initially, I felt kinda disappointed because I had paid so much for such a small tube. It turned out that that tube lasted me about 2 ½ months. So, once I did the math, it turned out that the value of the product wasn’t as bad as the initial sticker shock. Thankfully, R&F gives you control over when your next product shipment is purchased and shipped. This meant that I was able to push out the purchase of my next tube for a couple months. Not having to pay the full price every month was a bonus. You also save a bit on the product by signing up as a recurring customer. Of course, those types of “discounts” are always factored into the price of the product anyhow, but it was nice to have a discount as long as I could stay on top of the reorder date.

Now that I had my product, I was ready to try it. I had no idea how long I could expect to try it until I saw results. I also had no guarantee that it would work for me at all, but it was worth a try. I told myself that I would give it a month, and if I saw no results, I would stop using it.

“I told myself that I would give it a month, and if I saw no results, I would stop using it.”

After a month of trying Lash Boost, I did see results. I was surprised at how well it had already been working. Initially, the only issue I had with it was that it left the skin on my eyelids a little red where I placed the product at night. It looked like I was wearing a dark pink eyeliner. I was a little concerned at first, but after using the product for a month, the redness started to go away. This may sound concerning to some of you but there was no swelling, pain, or other signs of a bad reaction other than the skin redness, so I was willing to risk it.

Top image was before using Lash Boost. Bottom picture was after 3 months of daily use- mascara used to highlight lash length.

I continued using the product and continued to see results. My eyelashes grew in length and thickness. I finally started to feel less like a hot mess mom and more comfortable in my own skin. Lash Boost worked so well, in fact, that I rarely felt like I needed mascara to accentuate my eyes, but when I did use it, the mascara did a great job of highlighting my already long lashes. It was nice to finally feel like I didn’t need to wear false eyelashes when I wanted to dress up. It was nice to feel proud of my own lashes. It helped me feel pretty, and I’m not ashamed to admit that.

As I write this, I have been using this product for a little over a year now. I did notice that after about 6 months of using Lash Boost, my lashes had reached what I consider to be their max length and thickness. Anything after that has been just staying consistent with the product to keep the look intact. There was a period of time after I had given birth to my second baby when I was too tired to remember to apply the products during my bedtime routine like usual. I did begin to notice a decrease in length and thickness of my lashes during that time. Once I noticed that, I made sure to continue my evening applications, and it seemed that my lashes recovered quickly, and I was able to regain my max lash length and thickness.

My most current results. Mascara used to highlight lash length.

Overall, I have been happy with this product. I love my results and have had to exert minimal effort to attain them. Once I factored the cost into my beauty regimen budget, it wasn’t as shocking as it was at first. Thankfully, other things in my regimen became more affordable, so the tradeoff evened out in the long run. In a future post, I will review the skincare products I have been using from another company and how their value is the best I’ve come across in my many years of trying various products.

I give Lash Boost from Rodan & Fields 4 out of 5 Bear Tracks!

Beauty · Life Hacks

Super Thick Hair Hack

It seems to be common that if you were born with a certain type of hair, you end up wishing you could change it. I’ve heard this said for almost every hair type. If you have complaints about your hair, I can almost guarantee that there is someone out there in the world wishing their hair was exactly like yours.

Fine-haired people wish their hair was thicker or had more body. Thick-haired people wish they had fine, manageable hair. Straight-haired people wish for curls, and curly-haired people want to straighten their hair. I remember that when I was a kid, many girls were jealous of my long, thick braid. My mom kept my hair in a braid to protect it from getting tangled, since she had been letting it grow my entire life. I was blessed with thick hair, but let me assure you, this is as much a curse as it is a blessing.

“I was blessed with thick hair, but let me assure you, this is as much a curse as it is a blessing.”

I’ve met many hairdressers who express their envy of my thick hair but also curse it once they find out how long it takes just to blow-dry it. And changing the color or adding highlights? Fuhgettaboutit. All of this may sound like a big, stupid humble brag to many of you, but I assure you, there’s another point.

A couple years ago I found a solution to my thick hair curse. Every summer I spend several months feeling miserable from the heat. My hair has always acted like a scarf on my neck and a knit hat on my head all year round. That might be okay in winter, but during the summer it is pure torture. And keeping my hair in a ponytail or bun for months at a time gets really boring and doesn’t let my scalp breathe.

After dealing with this for years, I decided that I would shave off all of my hair from about the top of my ears down. This allowed me to get rid of half of my hair but also gave me the option to hide the undercut beneath my regular length hair.

Postpartum Hair Loss

On a side note, I was a bit concerned about postpartum hair loss with this haircut. I did not have my head shaved during my first pregnancy, but after I had my first baby I ended up losing a lot of hair. My hair started thinning out along my hairline, and I got bald spots near the sides of my forehead. I just did my best to ignore it or cover it up until it started to grow back. When I became pregnant the second time while having the undercut, I was afraid that I would have to deal with the same type of hair loss as with the first. Luckily, it seemed that my hormones were more forgiving after having my second child. Plus, my hair was lighter and easier to manage because of the undercut. And since I was pregnant in the summer, it was also very helpful in keeping me cooler than normal.

Here are the pros and cons I have discovered to getting an undercut.

UNDERCUT PROS:

  • Much cooler head temperature.
  • With my hair up, I can feel a breeze on my skin.
  • My hair dries a lot faster.
  • My hair sits straighter and flatter.
  • Getting my hair colored takes half the time that it used to, and it is usually cheaper!
  • Hats fit me better!
  • I have a very versatile style between up and down looks.
  • I can get my undercut shaved at a salon for cheap or do it myself for free.
  • Styling my hair takes a fraction of the time that it used to.

UNDERCUT CONS:

  • The breeze can be a little cold on my scalp in the winter.
  • If I ever want to grow it back out again, it will take a long time to catch up with the rest of my hair.
  • Keeping my undercut shaved regularly becomes a challenge with my fast growing hair.
  • If I dye my undercut, my hair will grow out with a very small section of color on it.
  • My long hair likes to velcro to my shaved undercut when I’m trying to separate the two.

Conclusion

I would recommend this type of hair cut for anyone looking to stay low maintenance while also being able to have fun with hair styles. I don’t do a lot with the styling because I rarely have the time since becoming a mom. But this cut allows me to hide the undercut for a softer and more feminine look while also giving me the flexibility of pulling it back or up to reveal the shaved parts for a more playful and edgy look. If you’re not willing to commit to cutting off half your hair and not being able to grow it back quickly then definitely avoid this type of cut. Below are picture examples of the simple ways I have worn my hair while having the undercut.

Favorite Recipes

Crock-Pot Chili

This chili is a recipe I have been making for years now. It changes a little each time depending on how many of each item we have laying around. I don’t like to waste food, so I find ways to incorporate unclaimed items into my recipes. The recipe below is the most common version that I make. There are many options for changes or substitutions that I will note below the recipe. Look for the * symbol for specific notes. It’s an easy recipe. The most time consuming part is cutting up the vegetables.

  • Prep time: approx. 30 minutes
  • Cook time: on low 6-8hrs, on high 4hrs
Most of the main ingredients for Crock-Pot Chili
  • 1 lb ground turkey*
  • About 1 lb cubed steak*
  • 1 medium yellow onion*
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (optional for spice)*
  • 1 can black beans (15 oz.)
  • 1 can kidney beans (15 oz.)
  • 2 -15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1- 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 16 oz. chicken broth*
  • 3 cloves of garlic or 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp Himalayan Pink Salt*
  • 2 bay leaves
The spices used in the Crock-Pot Chili recipe
  1. On medium heat, brown and crumble ground turkey in a frying pan (using a little oil to grease the pan).
  2. Trim fat from cubed steak and cut steak down to small pieces- about 1″ cubed or smaller.
  3. Using high heat and an oiled frying pan, sear (brown) each side of the steak pieces but try not to cook them all the way through. The Crock-Pot will do the rest of the cooking and this will keep the steak pieces tender.
  4. Cut onion, red and green pepper, and optional jalapeño into small pieces.
  5. Add all ingredients (except the bay leaves) to the Crock-Pot. With a large spoon, stir ingredients until evenly mixed.
  6. Tuck the bay leaves into the chili alongside the inside of the pot.
  7. Cook in the Crock-Pot on Low for 6-8 hours or on High for 4 hours. Stir ingredients occasionally but it’s not necessary.

Notes:

*This recipe calls for ground turkey but you can substitute ground beef or even take it out entirely for a vegetarian option.

*This meat is also not necessary for the option of a vegetarian chili.

*I typically use a sweeter yellow onion but any type will do. White onions are also a good option but typically yield a stronger onion-taste.

*The jalapeño is totally optional but is a great addition if you like a little bit of spice. Some jalapeños are spicier than others. Sometimes you can find mild jalapeños. You can add these but they usually won’t be spicy enough to notice in the chili. One “hot” jalapeño is a good amount of spice for this recipe. But feel free to add as much or as little as you want!

*For the chicken broth, I usually use scoops of condensed broth paste dissolved in hot water but you can also use bouillon cubes dissolved or already prepared broth from a package instead. It’s all a matter of choice and convenience.

*Himalayan pink salt has less sodium than table salt. If you have to substitute table salt, make sure to only add a teaspoon or two and possibly just add more to taste after it cooks.

Nutrition:

  • Servings: there are about 15 servings measured with a regular sized ladle.
  • 1 serving is approximately 178 Calories; 1.8g Fat; 0.2g Sat. Fat; 14.7mg Cholest.; 465mg Sodium; 24.7g Carbs; 5.5g Fiber; 8.1g Sugar; 18.5g Protein.
Beauty · Honest Product Reviews

My Honest Review: Lumē Deodorant

Full disclosure: This review DOES NOT make me any money. I am reviewing this product only as a consumer and do not stand to profit from any promotion of the product.

That being said, I feel there’s something else you should know. I’m stinky. Well, not right now but more often than I’d like to admit. I’m a mom, and unfortunately, I’m pretty low on my own priority list. So my showers usually happen at night before I go to bed and after the cubs are already sleeping. I’ll be real and admit that I don’t get the luxury of a daily shower. I sometimes have to go a few days without showering because sleep is more important to me than de-stinkifying myself. I’ve also been blessed with prodigious stink-making abilities, so deodorant has been my best friend since puberty.

All of this together means that my deodorant is usually working overtime to keep me socially acceptable. Years ago, when pit stains were the biggest of my insecurities, I depended on clinical-strength deodorants to keep me sweat and stink-free. Unfortunately, those are terrible for the endocrine system, affecting the body’s hormone production. In retrospect, it actually explains a lot about my hormone struggles through the years. In recent years, I’ve been using regular Dove deodorant because it has been the gentlest on my skin while also working well to keep me stink-free.

In the past, I’ve tried a couple different natural deodorant options, neither of which worked for me. I’ve heard some people say that natural deodorants work, but you have to be willing to let your body adjust to them. Sorry, I don’t have time for that. I don’t want to stink for what could be weeks or months just because I’m “working through a few things.” So I’ve been convinced for a while that I would never find a “natural” deodorant that works for stinky ol’ me.

Recently, an ad came through my Facebook feed (sometimes marketing works, people) that caught my eye. I’ll admit that it initially caught my eye because it was a video commercial with a lot of bright colors. But as I watched, I noticed their added humor about what is normally a fairly taboo topic. A silly ad for deodorant? I’m listening… The best part of the commercial, in my opinion, was that every time I came up with a question about the product, they answered it! By the end of it, I was sold. I jumped online and bought some. But I was still skeptical.

They claim that this deodorant, called Lumē, is an aluminum-free alternative to most others on the market. I have personal reasons for wanting to pursue an aluminum-free deodorant, but without getting preachy, HERE is a simple article giving some insight into aluminum-based deodorants and how they can affect our bodies.

The Lumē brand also claims it can be used anywhere externally on the body where odor occurs. It was developed by a gynecologist who wanted to find a better way to kill odor causing bacteria without using materials that could harm your body. They sell both a stick-style deodorant and a tube/cream-style to be applied with your hand. Both seem to be the same formula, just different applications.

The first thing I noticed when I tried this product was the smell. It was a little strong for me. It was citrus-y and almost chemical-y. (Yes, those are scientific adjectives.) I’m still not a huge fan of the scent, but I found out through further research that they also sell an unscented version, which I plan to try next. Yes, you read that right! I do plan to purchase this product again. Here’s why:

The Lumē brand claims that you can get 72 hours of protection out of their product. That is still up in the air for me. I chickened out after about 30 hours. Thankfully, the product did seem to continue working, but I could tell it had started to wear out its effectiveness around the 24 hour mark. It also could be that once my body adjusts to the bacteria balance, I may get longer use out of one application. But I’ll have to add an update at a later time when I’ve done some further testing.

The biggest positive I found in this product is that it worked. It kept me from getting stinky for at least 24 hours, even while chasing down toddler bear all day and juggling a breastfeeding baby bear. I actually felt like I sweated a little less than I normally would as well, but that could have been a fluke. Since I’ve been consistently taking my amazing multivitamin and probiotics for the last couple years, they have helped me balance my hormones, which, in turn, has helped regulate my body temperature and decrease my usual intense sweating. But I’ll go into that further in a future post.

The only negatives I found about the Lumē products are the price and the smell. It’s a pricey stick of deodorant at about $14 and $19 for the tube. Yikes! I know. But with the idea that it should last about three times as long as your daily-application, aluminum-filled deodorant, it evens out to be about the same cost over time. One great thing I noticed is that they offer free shipping, which probably means that the shipping cost is built into the price of the product. Something to keep in mind any time a product claims “free shipping.” But, hey, at least I didn’t have to see an additional cost in my checkout cart. As for the smell, I’m curious to see if their “unscented” scent is truly unscented and keeps me…unscented.

Overall, I would give Lumē deodorant a positive review. It is the first deodorant I’ve tried that has eliminated the need for aluminum but has worked immediately and for a realistic length of time. I normally expect to re-apply my deodorant daily. But with all other natural deodorants I have tried in the past, I had to re-apply them multiple times a day. That is wasteful and annoying. Lumē seems to have found a good recipe for healthy and effective. If it was just mediocre, I probably would not have wasted my time writing a review.

I give this product: 4 out of 5 Bear Tracks!

Favorite Recipes

No Oil Banana Bread

This is one of my family’s favorite recipes…to eat! It is made with yogurt in place of oil or butter. The end result is a very moist, spongy banana bread. It’s so addicting, especially once you realize there are fewer calories with the yogurt substitute. Muahahaha! Look for the * symbol for notes and options noted at the end of the recipe.

  • Prep time: approx. 15 minutes
  • Cook time: approx. 35-45 min for bread, 15-20 min for large muffins, 12-15 min for mini muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup sugar*
  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) vanilla yogurt*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large medium ripe bananas*
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup buttermilk (optional)*
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups mini chocolate chips (optional)*
  • Brown sugar for sprinkling
No Oil Banana Bread Ingredients (without buttermilk)

Instructions:

  1. Before you turn your oven on, remove all but the bottom rack. These need to be cooked on the bottom rack so at least leave enough room to place your pans on the lowest rack in your oven.
  2. Turn your oven on to 350°
  3. Butter or non-stick spray a 13×9 pan or 2 9×9 pans. This recipe can also be made into muffins- see the note below*
  4. Pour the mini chocolate chips into the bottom of your pan(s). Line the bottom evenly so that you cannot see the pan.* This will bake onto the bottom of the bread like a delicious, chocolate crust.
  5. In a stand mixer, mix sugar and yogurt until smooth.
  6. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well in-between.
  7. Add bananas, buttermilk (opt.), and vanilla. Mix well.
  8. Mix in flour one cup at a time, mixing well in-between.
  9. Add salt and baking soda. Mix until smooth.
  10. Carefully pour batter in to pan(s) while not disturbing the chocolate chips. Make sure to divide the batter evenly between the pans if you are using more than one.
  11. Sprinkle desired amount of brown sugar over the top of the batter-filled pan(s).
  12. Cook for between 35-45 minutes depending on your oven. It is best to check doneness with a toothpick at about 30 minutes and every 5 minutes after that until the toothpick comes out clean.

Notes:

*I usually use cane sugar rather than white sugar but both should work the same.

*I use a small container of vanilla bean yogurt but I have also tried using the same amount of plain greek yogurt as a substitute and it worked just as well but required an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract for flavor (2 tsp vanilla total).

*You want bananas that are very ripe but I have used bananas of varying ripeness. The difference is- the riper they are the sweeter and more banana-y the bread tastes.

*The buttermilk is labeled as optional because sometimes I put it in my recipe and sometimes I leave it out. The recipe seems to cook similarly either way but cooking it with the buttermilk adds even more moisture. Without the buttermilk it seems to be plenty moist and you wouldn’t notice it wasn’t in there.

*Chocolate chips are an optional ingredient and 2 cups is an approximate measurement because you can really add as much or as little as you’d like. You can also mix the chips into the batter rather than lining the pan with them. It’s all a matter of opinion.

*MUFFINS- spray and line 1-12 cup or 1-24 mini cup muffin pan(s) as you would large pans. Cook for about 15-20 minutes checking the doneness the same as you would in pans, adding 5 minutes at a time until the toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition:

  • Servings as bread: 32, servings as mini muffins: 24, servings as regular muffins: 12
  • Based on 24 serving mini muffins baked with optional buttermilk: 1 serving is approximately 141 Calories; 2.1g Fat; 1.1g Sat. Fat; 20.6mg Cholest.; 152mg Sodium; 28.7g Carbs; 0.4g Fiber; 17.4g Sugar; 2.6g Protein.
Finished product!
Cleaning and Organizing · Home Life

The Secret to Keeping Your Bathrooms Clean

I’ll admit it. I’m obsessed with organizing. I’m not a neat freak by any stretch of the imagination. I can be real about what daily life looks like in a house. But I get a really big thrill out of problem solving about areas that need organizing. That passion is one of the reasons I started this blog. I want to share the ideas that I’ve had to help others.

But just because I love organizing doesn’t mean I love, or even like, cleaning. The only time I enjoy cleaning is after I’ve finished it and can admire the outcome. My least favorite chore is cleaning bathrooms. Any part of it- toilets, counters, shower, etc. It’s tedious and gross. But, for myself, I’ve found that if I can make any part of the cleaning chore easier or less nasty, I’m more likely to do it.

I’ve done this in different ways all around my house. Doing dishes is easier and more fun now that I have a long-handled, soap-dispensing scrub brush instead of a stinky sponge. And cleaning toilets gets done more often now that we’re using the toilet wand method. Oh, adult life is so glamorous, isn’t it? If I could go back in time and tell my younger self about all the things I would get excited about as an adult, I’m pretty sure I’d have a good laugh at myself.


Big Scary Words

Before I became a mom, I worked for the government. Of course, the government is not known for its efficiency. It was very challenging to be a nut for organizing while working in a place that prides itself on remaining entrenched in ancient methods and outdated processes. I struggled for years while working there just to update, clean up and streamline my specific job. Towards the end of my time there, the workforce changed hands to a much younger generation, and real change began to take place. Processes were reevaluated, methods were questioned, and literal tons of excess was purged from that place to make way for a totally different way of operating.

“Processes were reevaluated, methods were questioned, and literal tons of excess was purged from that place to make way for a totally different way of operating.”

During those changes, I learned A LOT about how to find the most efficient way to do things that seem trivial or otherwise mundane. Because of that, I’ve been able apply a lot of what I learned to some of the processes and chores I do around the house. I’ll definitely be doing more articles featuring those ideas in the future because there are so many good ones. But for this article I’m focusing on an idea called “cellular management”. Yup. Sounds scary. Don’t get turned off just yet; I’ll explain it. Without having to bore you with all the background details on why it’s called “cellular management” or how that term came to be, I’ll just explain it like this:

In this method of thinking, a “cell” is specific task that needs a process and materials to be completed (example- a cooking recipe is like a cell in that way). To apply that to our real-world scenario, your “cells” are your bathrooms. Each bathroom is its own cell. Every bathroom/cell needs specific items in order to be cleaned, especially since some bathrooms are bigger than others or have different surfaces.

The OLD Way

I used to keep all of my cleaning materials under my kitchen sink. When the time finally came that one of my bathrooms got scummy enough that I couldn’t ignore it any longer, I would walk all the way to the kitchen to get what I needed for that specific cleaning job. Most of the time, this took several trips because I would forget items or cave-in and decide to clean something I hadn’t intended on cleaning in the first place.

To apply the cellular management principle, it actually works more efficiently to have a cleaning kit made up for each bathroom that is tailored to that bathroom’s specific needs. Now, I know you’re not made of money. Neither am I. But hear me out. You may have several bathrooms in your house but there are thrifty ways you can create cleaning kits that won’t break the bank.

Scenario

Let’s create a scenario that we can work from as an example. The example below shows you what could be in a bathroom and what you might use to clean each of those things:

Bathroom #1

  • 1 Toilet
  • 1 Shower with glass sliding doors and tiled walls
  • Double sink vanity with countertops and mirror
  • Garbage can

To clean this entire bathroom you might use the following:

  • Toilet scrub brush or cleaning wand and heads
  • Multi-surface bathroom cleaner (like Soft Scrub, Scrubbing Bubbles, or Kaboom)
  • Scrubby sponge or bristle brush
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Glass cleaner
  • Paper towels or cleaning cloth
  • Garbage can liners
  • Rubber gloves

These would be the items you would want to gather and keep in this bathroom all the time. Clear a place under the sink for the cleaning kit, but keep it accessible so you are more likely to remember it and use it.

An example of one of my bathroom kits

On a budget?

If you’re on a budget, here are some ways you can save money on these kits in the long run. Buy in bulk. You can buy things like paper towels and garbage bags in bulk and leave a roll in each bathroom that needs it. Those will last you FOREVER. Also, there are certain cleaning supplies that can be found at the dollar store for, you guessed it, $1 each. You can buy scrubby sponges, rubber gloves, and plastic bins to store your cleaning supplies at the dollar store. You can also frequently find coupons for cleaning supplies in the newspaper or online. Shop the sales and buy multiple at one time if you can.

Assembling a kit like this could take an initial investment, but it’ll be worth it in the end. You’ll have no excuse not to clean the bathrooms. Sorry…or you’re welcome? You can even use this as a reason to teach other family members how to make use of the kit and keep the bathrooms sparkling! Good luck!

Building a Home

Top 10 Tips for an Easy Move

Moving sucks. Generally. I’ve moved 9 times in my adult life. This doesn’t include the double-digit times my family moved us before I was in college. During the 9 times I’ve moved I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned what helps and what doesn’t because I spent the first 5 of my moves doing it the way we’ve all done it. Start packing too late. Cram anything and everything into boxes. Run out of boxes. Run out of tape. Get overwhelmed. Ask friends and family to help with the moving in exchange for pizza or beer. Barely get enough help. Everyone’s exhausted.

Every time I’ve had the opportunity to move I’ve learned a new tool or tip that has made my life easier in the process. Currently, we are in the middle of our biggest (and hopefully last) move in terms of size and distance. The last time I moved was a few weeks before my wedding when I moved all of my belongings into my (now) husband’s garage. It was a surprisingly easy move because of the things I’ve learned.

I’ve felt compelled to share my tips with anyone who will listen (or read). So here are my top 10 tips for an easier move:

1. Create a Packing Kit

This tip is one of the easiest and most helpful things you can do for yourself even before you start packing. Start by finding yourself a box or container that is easy to carry like a fishing tackle box or a plastic storage box with a handle on the lid. Here is an example of the box and contents I used for this move:

This box will become and stay your go-to container for your packing needs. This keeps things organized and helps calm some chaos. This box should follow you everywhere while you pack and even through the move to the other side. You’ll want to pack it with things you need before AND after the move. Things you would put in this box could be:

-Packing tape (with extra rolls)

-Large permanent markers (for marking boxes)

-Colored tapes (for marking boxes)

-Box cutters (for packing mistakes AND for unpacking after the move)

-Zip Lock baggies (to collect things like push pins, nails, random misplaced hardware, etc.)

-Measuring tape (can come in handy when you’re planning what furniture to keep or purge)

-Small scissors (for cutting twine or stubborn tape)

2. Boxes

Some people know that you can go to the grocery store and ask for free boxes. But rarely are those good packing boxes. Those are, at best, banana boxes with holes for handles. For my past moves I was fortunate enough to be working a retail job or know someone who was. This gave me a great resource for different sized boxes that were very helpful for packing and this was my go-to for years.

But this move, I found yet another great resource for packing boxes. If you haven’t found and connected with your local Buy Nothing group I STRONGLY encourage it. Moving boxes are only one of the many great things you can find there. If you’re unfamiliar with what Buy Nothing is it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a community of people (usually based on where you live) asking for and giving things freely. The link to their website which will help connect you with the appropriate Facebook group can be found HERE.

In a Buy Nothing group you can ask for certain things you’re looking for (i.e. moving boxes, a cup of sugar, a shower head, dog collar, paint brushes, to borrow a lawn mower, insight into legal issues, etc.). Almost anything you can think of is an appropriate ask on Buy Nothing. You can also gift anything you’re trying to get rid of without expecting anything in return (which is great when you’re getting ready to move!). Have too many ceramic mugs? Post it! Want a specific plant in your yard gone? Offer it up! Ready to part ways with your kid’s old clothing? Gift it! I’ve given and seen some of the weirdest, most random things and they’ve been happily received by some person living near me. So don’t be afraid to try.

In short, this resource is incredibly valuable for many things. But for the purpose of this post, it can be a great place to find moving boxes. They will most likely be used but you will be surprised at what some people are willing to give. Among the hundreds of free moving boxes I’ve received from my Buy Nothing community, many of them were brand new and unused! People can be so unexpectedly generous! You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

The last thing I’ll say about Buy Nothing groups (because I could go on and on) is that they also connect you with your community in a very unique way. You get to know the people you’re trading with. You make new friends. Once you’ve moved, you can also join the Buy Nothing group of the new community you will be moving to and find someone to gift your used moving boxes to once you’ve unpacked. It means you don’t have to worry about packing your recycling and garbage bins full of packing materials. It’s win win!

3. Organize and mark your boxes

For every move before our current one, I labeled the boxes as I had for years- with the general contents of the box. This time I tried something a little different. I was determined to start our packing process early. I knew that I would be almost 9 months pregnant by the time we were moving and I did NOT want to leave packing for the last minute. Plus, we knew we’d be moving in the hottest part of the summer. That’s a baaaaad combo when you’re ultra pregnant! I also knew that we were planning to keep the majority of our belongings in storage for over a year while our new house was being built. This meant that I had to stay organized and leave myself the ability to find things easily that I had already packed. For example, early on I packed up my lesser used items from the kitchen. A month later, I needed my rolling pin that only gets used about twice a year. If I had just packed it in a box labeled “kitchen stuff” I’d be going through several boxes just to find it and making more work for myself in the end. Instead, here was my organizational method:

Start by making a spreadsheet. There should be at least three columns. My main columns were: BOX NUMBER, ROOM (color coded), and CONTENTS. Each box received a number that corresponded with the spreadsheet row. I then decided which room the contents of this box needed to end up in (not necessarily where they came from but that can work too if you haven’t planned that far ahead). To color code my boxes I purchased a set of different colored masking tapes from Amazon. I needed enough different colors to be able to set main rooms apart so that boxes can be easily delivered to the correct rooms when we move into our new house. A link to the tapes I purchased can be found HERE. This is just an example of what you can use, I don’t make any money from featuring it. Each tape color then corresponded to a color on my spreadsheet in the second column so that I could see at a glance which boxes went where. That way I could also group boxes by room if I needed to search for an item I forgot to record.

A small part of my moving spreadsheet.

The third column is where I recorded almost every item I placed in the box. This came in handy many times. All I had to do to find something specific was use the search function (or the find and replace function) to quickly find all the rows containing a specific word.

We added a couple more columns because I’m scary organized. Possibly a little obsessed with organizing. I added a column for the type of box (general size and type or identifiable markings) and my husband added a column to track the cubic space the box took up based on its general measurements. The only reason we had this is because we were trying to fit the most of our belongings into a specific sized storage unit and wanted to be able to estimate how much could fit. These last two things aren’t that helpful to everyone but they worked for us. Play with it and see what helps you the most. The most important part is tracking the box number to the contents.

A completely packed and labeled box ready to be moved!

Once you have your spreadsheet just remember to mark the box with its number on all sides as well as the colored tape that corresponds with the room it will need to end up in.

4. Downsize (sell and give)

Once we knew that we were going to need to store our belongings for a year we had to become very selective on what we were keeping and what would be cheaper to just buy later on if we needed it again. I can be a pack-rat so I tend to try and save money by saving things. So it didn’t occur to me that it would possibly be cheaper to re-buy an item later rather than to pay to store it for over a year. This may not be the case for you since not everyone needs to store their belongings during a move but it’s something to consider when you’re making the decision to keep or toss things.

This is another place where the Buy Nothing groups can come in really handy. I was able to give away so many things to my group which saved me trips to the dump, trips to the thrift store donation line, or room in my garbage can. And it meant that someone else was getting use out of the items rather than them just becoming piles at the garbage dump. It was also convenient because the general Buy Nothing practice is that you offer up an item and the person who is chosen to receive that item comes and picks it up from your doorstep. You don’t even have to leave the house! This detail was huge for me as a pregnant mom with a toddler. Any reason to NOT leave the house was helpful during this busy and tiring time.

I was also able to make use of the Facebook Marketplace for some items that were worth something to me. Facebook Marketplace is a slightly more convenient version of Craigslist. You still can’t be 100% sure of people on there, and there are a lot more flaky people than Buy Nothing but it serves its purpose and, if used with caution, can be very helpful in your downsizing.

Get rid of clothing you haven’t worn in years. Even if you plan on fitting back into things, your tastes may change between now and then. When I started looking at some of my clothes like that I realized I could get rid of almost all of the ones I had been holding onto for years. But I still kept a few of my favorite pieces. If you have children, reassess the items you are keeping for them. Will it be necessary for possible future children? Is is a nostalgic item for me or my children? If yes, then it’s a good idea to keep it. Otherwise, find someone to gift it to. When I was pregnant with my first, I got 90% of my baby items from my local Buy Nothing group. The people on there were amazingly generous and saved us a ton of money. Plus, it cleared space in their homes! Again, it’s a win for everyone. And I’ve been able to give back some of the items we were gifted so that some other family can get use out of them.

A couple of cabinets marked as “empty”

5. Mark empty cabinets and rooms

This was something I tried in my last move and I’m doing again because of how much it helped me mentally. Moving can be overwhelming. Especially if you’re a task-oriented person like myself. Knowing that your task list goes on and on is daunting but every step forward can help keep you motivated. I had to break the big-picture down into bite-sized chunks for myself. To do this visually, I would place a colored sticky note on the door of a cabinet I had emptied or a room that I had emptied and cleaned. I did this all the way up until moving day. That way I could walk around the house and see at-a-glance what I had already completed and what still needed to be done. It also helped me to feel as though I was making progress even when it felt like I still had a lot more to do. It’s a simple solution to lower some of the stress of moving.

6. Packing materials

Stuffed animals packed on top of books

My family has a book collecting problem. Every time we move we end up with an entire library to pack up and heft around with us. Over the years I’ve downsized a little but still had to come up with tricks to make things easier on us. I’ve found that packing books into smaller boxes is one method. But because my family basically hordes books, I have to think a little bigger. I usually choose to fill medium boxes about half way with books and then pack lighter materials on top of them to use the space while keeping the box from getting too heavy. I’ve found that I can use things like stuffed animals, guest room pillows, throw pillows and blankets to fill that space. This works out well for us because we also have an overabundance of nostalgic stuffed animals that have followed us since childhood and that collection only ever gets bigger!

7. Pack each box methodically

I know we don’t always have an abundance of time when preparing to move. Many times this is why boxes get packed haphazardly. Random things get thrown in together just for the sake of saving time or as a result of procrastination. In my experiences, I’ve found that it can help your sanity to be a little more methodical about your box packing. Something I’ve tried in my last move and current move is to pack with the idea that I know where I want things to end up in my new house. This makes my life a lot easier once I get to the unpacking phase of the move. If you have towels or pillows that are meant for a specific room, put them in boxes that are to be moved to that room. If you’d rather all the linens be kept in the linen closet or laundry room, pack and label them to be delivered to that room. It will make less work for you in the end.

8. Get movers!

I’m aware that not every move allows funds for professional movers. Sometimes we’re moving because we don’t have the money to stay where we are. In those cases, getting movers usually means depending on the kindness of your friends to help you physically move your stuff. I’ve been there many times. But! I would like to encourage you to try something different when you can. Even if you have to save up for it or cut back on some spending to be able to afford it, hiring movers to move your stuff is so worth it. It takes one of the biggest hassles of moving and makes it happen almost magically.

Labeled boxes make it easy to see which room they go in.

If you are considering movers, do your research. If possible, find a local company or a smaller, family owned business. But make sure they offer some sort of insurance on your items in case of accidents. It is very important to look out for yourself in these situations. When researching companies, look for user reviews and read a lot of them. Some companies just don’t hire well and this can hurt you in the long run. They could be cheaper but there could be a greater chance that your belongings could be broken, misplaced or stolen. I got very lucky with my first movers because they were amazing. Unbelievably fast, reliable and charged a very fair rate. Of course, distance is a factor. If you’re making a long distance move it will be considerably more expensive than a local move. But run the numbers. It could still be more valuable to pay a little more for movers and regain some sanity rather than have to juggle renting a truck, packing and then driving that truck long distance, unpacking and then returning that truck. Take the time to compare! It could save you some money AND some stress.

9. Make a grocery list

Before you move, sit down and make a list of all the food and non-food items you might need on the other side. On your moving day, you may choose to throw out some perishable items rather than juggle having to move them. This means that on the other side, once you’ve moved into your new place you might be missing a few essentials! Will you have enough toilet paper, paper towels, milk, eggs, etc.? Do you have easy to eat foods like cereal for breakfast or toastable foods. What about microwave dinners just in case you can’t get your pots and pans unpacked fast enough for dinners during your first week. Think ahead and give yourself some options. Do you have easy snacks for kids that won’t require using a lot of dishes? Once you have a list you can always designate someone or go to the store yourself once you arrive in your new city. That way you will not be left sitting in your new house, surrounded by packed boxes and wondering how to survive.

Another good list to make is a list of things to keep accessible during your move. Make sure you have beds, bedding, pajamas, toiletries, etc. accessible and easy to find as soon as you’re done moving your belongings into your new house. This will keep you from having to find where those items were packed while you’re already overly tired from moving.

10. Pizza night!

You’re in your new house, your belongings are still packed, you’re tired from the whole endeavor. Who wants to cook dinner?! NOT YOU! Not anyone else for that matter. It’s understandable. Cut yourself some slack and keep enough money in your wallet for pizza or something equally as deliverable for move-in night dinner. Then kick back, enjoy a slice or five and know that you’ve made it through another of the most annoying adventures that humans have to endure. Well done!