Our Favorite Snack & Dip Combos for Get-Togethers!

Our Favorite

As the holidays approach and football season picks up, get-togethers with family and friends are happening all the time! Sometimes, planning what to bring isn’t as planned as you expected and you rush to throw something together.

Check out some of our favorite snack and dip combinations and make your side dish super quick and easy! :)

Appetizer Dips

  • Tortilla Chips & Salsa
  • Tortilla Chips & Guacamole (my favorite- my husband hates guac! I don’t understand it!)
  • Pita Chips & Hummus
  • Veggies & Hummus
  • Artichoke Dip & Crackers
  • Veggies & Ranch
  • Tortilla Chips & Buffalo Chicken Dip

Dessert Dips

To make your transporting and clean up even easier, enter to win some Rubbermaid Tupperware and a Party Platter!

What are some of your favorite combinations? Tell me about it on Facebook!

 

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The Crunchy Mamas Natural Beauty, Skin, & Wellness Products + Giveaway!

As a part-time crunchy mama, I am always trying to find alternatives to our every day products, especially when it comes to things we put on our skin!

I love finding companies run by fellow crunchy mamas who feel the same as I do about the products we use. Even better? Natural and chemical free products for a reasonable price. With kids, it’s hard to justify forking over a ton of money for the natural alternatives to our beauty and skin rituals. Believe me, I get it! We have enough expenses with kids as it is :)

I was so excited to find this amazing company, The Crunchy Mamas, run by two mamas based in Oregon. Not only are their products great, so are they! Some of the nicest mamas you’ll ever have the pleasure of knowing.

When we connected, I couldn’t wait to try some of their stuff!

When I received the goods, of course I tried them IMMEDIATELY ;)

Her Pit Natural Deodorant, Mint Lip Balm, & Honey-Lemon Lip Balm
Her Pit Natural Deodorant, Mint Lip Balm, & Honey-Lemon Lip Balm

Now, I’ve tried pretty much every “natural” deodorant out there and none of them have ever worked for me. I’m serious, you guys. Like, I want to smell as good as the next person and I have nothing against the previously tried deos, but, I’m pretty sure they were made to do the opposite of deodorant. I was way more self-conscious and felt way smellier when using said previous deos. So, I was a little skeptical to try out ANOTHER natural deodorant.

MIND BLOWN. I was completely shocked by how well the Her Pit Deodorant works. You only use a pea sized amount for each underarm and it smells so good! We went to our local rodeo and it was HOT out. Like, sweat as soon as you walk outside, hot. I wore the Her Pit all day and never had to reapply and I smelled good all day. My family appreciated that I smelled good all day after wearing natural deo ;)

What’s even better is the ingredient list- seriously so simple and effective!
“organic unrefined coconut oil, organic cocoa butter, organic shea butter, redmond clay, arrowroot powder, baking soda (aluminum free), vitamin e, organic lavender essential oil, organic sweet orange essential oil.”

YES. That’s it!

Next, I tried the lip balms (not at the same time, promise).

Mint Lip Balm & Honey-Lemon Lip Balm

I’m always cautious when using mint lip balms because every time I do, my lips are not happy. This was NOT the case with the lip balm from Crunchy Mamas! For once, my lips were happy and tingly- not swollen and ouchy! Plus, the mint smells so refreshing without being overpowering. These mamas have got their mix down just right! This minty delight is a perfect lip balm for summer’s hot days!

The Honey-Lemon lip balm is AMAZING as well! Subtle scent, but, still potent enough to smell delicious. You kind of want to eat it…but, you shouldn’t ;)

Both lip balms go on super smooth and keep your lips hydrated for a long time before reapplying is necessary. These lip balms have become my new favorite and I am crazy picky about lip balms!

The ingredients in these lip balms are just as great as the deo!

  • Honey-Lemon: organic unrefined coconut oil, beeswax, raw honey, organic lemon essential oil
  • Mint: organic unrefined coconut oil, beeswax, organic peppermint essential oil, organic rosemary essential oil, organic spearmint essential oil

Seriously you guys! How amazing do you feel when the stuff you put on your skin, face, and lips is this natural and clean without tons of chemicals you can’t pronounce?


Since these mamas are so awesome, they’re letting us do a giveaway with the above products!

Enter and you could win:

(1) Her Pit Natural Deodorant

(1) Mint Lip Balm

(1) Honey-Lemon Lip Balm

The giveaway is running from Wednesday 7/29/15 through Wednesday 8/5/15 and you can enter below or through our Facebook page by clicking here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Disclaimer: I received the above products to test and review at no cost to me in return for my honest and truthful opinion. All opinions are my own. Products provided for giveaway will be sent to a randomly selected winner by Crunchy on the Weekend at no expense to the winner.*

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Spring Garden Series- Post #2 Choosing Your Seeds

Gardening and Childhood

Welcome to our second post in our Spring Garden & Homestead series!

This week, we’ll be talking about CHOOSING YOUR SEEDS and COMMON BEGINNER GARDEN MISTAKES!


Deciding on what crops you want to plant can be a tough decision, for beginner and expert gardeners alike!

One tip that will make your decision easier is to PLANT WHAT YOU WILL EAT AND/OR USE! If you choose to follow any advice we provide, follow that tip right there :)

If you hate radishes, don’t grow them!  Or, better yet, use them as a companion plants to aid in the growth and quality of lettuce,cucumbers, carrots, beans, melons, peas, beets, parsnip, spinach, squash or corn.  Then, once they’re mature, (if you still don’t want to eat them), give them to family or friends, donate them to a local food bank, or use them in your compost bin! If you love tomatoes, make sure you mark out some prime garden real estate for them this year!

When you plant what you will eat and/or use, you are guaranteeing that you will have minimal waste because you will be harvesting and enjoying what you’re growing. If you grow things you don’t enjoy on a regular basis, most likely, it won’t be used up and you will end up throwing most of your harvest away. Besides, why spend the time, money, and effort on crops you won’t use!?

The top plants for beginner gardens include:

Lettuce

Spinach

Tomatoes

Squash

Cucumbers

Carrots

Peppers

Radishes

Beans

Basil

Onions

*If you are interested in learning about companion plants, check out our post about them here!*

The above mentioned plants can make a nice little starter garden without crazy maintenance, while also providing a nice yield for the season! Also, don’t forget about herbs! The majority of herbs require minimal maintenance and they typically provide a quick and abundant harvest that you can enjoy all season long. If you are planning on canning some of your harvested goodies, think about some herbs that may go well with the food you are canning (i.e. basil and oregano for tomato sauce, mint for certain sauces/jams/jellies)- the possibilities are endless!


If you are new to gardening, you will soon find out that picking out seeds isn’t as easy as one may think. You don’t have “just lettuce seeds”- there are countless varieties of this leafy green vegetable, and most likely, many you’ve never heard of!

This is where RESEARCH comes into play. I know, I know- no one likes putting in extra work, but, researching your seed choices will be a crucial step in creating a thriving and productive garden that you can enjoy! Not all varieties of lettuce will flourish in your neck of the woods, just like not all varieties of tomatoes will flourish in someone else’s neck of the woods.

A helpful piece of information to have before choosing your seeds is knowing what ZONE you live in.

You can check out these sites here and here to find yours!

A climate zone map or plant hardiness zone map is just a simple tool to help you determine what plants are most likely to thrive in your area.

After you determine which zone you live in, you can start researching some varieties of plants that interest you and ones that will thrive in your backyard! I know- finally some fun stuff! :)

A GREAT resource to find the different varieties of plants (and order those seeds) is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Company’s 2015 Whole Seed Catalog ($7.95 in most natural grocery stores or through their website here). They also have a free catalog you can request from them, however, it does not include all of their seeds.

You can also simply Google search for different varieties of the plants you are interested in and then purchase those seeds from a local store or online seed company!

*Tip: Ideally, heirloom seeds are better to purchase instead of hybrids. This is because heirlooms provide better tasting and staggered harvests, more nutritious plants, and they are less expensive. Also, there is a higher probability of viability for heirlooms- if you can save seeds from this year’s harvest and replant next season, your plants will be true to type, whereas, a hybrid could grow a different variety. 

The bottom line is that researching your possibilities is going to really help you have a successful, long-term garden.


Now, let’s wrap up by talking about some common beginner gardening mistakes that could derail your hard work!

  1. Planting too much all at once– your garden goodies need room to grow and breathe. If you plant too many things, too close together, you risk your crops success rate. Also, the more you plant, the more work you have to do to maintain your garden. Another great idea for your garden is to not plant ALL of your seeds at once if you want them to produce all season. Don’t plant 40 lettuce plants at the same time, instead, plant 4 every week to maximize the growing season!
  2. Failing to prepare your soil correctly– soil prep needs to be done BEFORE you even think about planting anything. If you fail to get that soil ready and you plant your seeds, there’s no turning back!
  3. Giving your plants too much or too little light– this is something you will have to figure out for each type of seed you plant. Some seeds need full, direct sunlight while others need shade. By researching the seeds you plan on planting, you will be able to efficiently layout your garden so your plants get the Vitamin D (or lack thereof) they need!
  4. Using too much or too little fertilizer– some plants require different nutrients to thrive. If you go overboard with the fertilizer, some of your plants may not develop the way they should. This also applies if you don’t use enough fertilizer!
  5. Using too much or too little water– you don’t want to drown your plants, but, you also don’t want to deprive them of that good H20! You want your plant roots to grow deep so make sure you are watering just enough so it’s not just sitting on the surface. Don’t over-water or you risk rotting the root system- yuck.
  6. Planting your seeds too deep in the soil or not planting them deep enough– again, this is where your research comes into play! Your seed packet should tell you what kind of depth you’re looking for. You don’t want to plant your seeds to close to the surface because they could possibly dry out and you’ll never see a sprout! On the other hand, if you plant the seeds too deep, they may not be able to grow fast enough or tall enough to get the sunlight they need before dying.
  7. Planting your seeds too close together– this can sometimes be tricky. You want to plant your seeds far enough apart so they aren’t all competing for those yummy soil nutrients, but, you won’t have a sprout from every seed you plant. This means that you don’t want your seeds that DO sprout to be too far apart to the point where you are losing valuable real estate in those garden beds!
  8. Failing to tackle weeds when they’re small– weeds may seem harmless for the most part, however, they can grow big-FAST. Weeds are still plants and plants have roots- if you fail to remove weeds when they sprout, they may begin to affect your seedling’s roots and that is not good. There’s no need to weed your garden every day, but, you should definitely tend to it on a weekly basis at least.

Gardening may seem like a lot to handle when you’re first getting started, but, once you get moving and start seeing your seeds sprout, you’ll feel like you’ve been doing it for years!


Stay tuned for Post #3 next week and don’t forget to enter our giveaway before Saturday, February 14, 2015 to win a seed collection and 2015 Whole Seed Catalog from Baker Creek!

What seeds are YOU planning on including in your garden this year? Any ideas yet? Tell us in the comments below! :)

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Healthy Eating & Homesteading

The premise of this post is to not only open your eyes to the current obesity and food epidemic in our country, but to also show you how healthy eating can be so much easier when you are homesteading, growing your own foods, participating in a local co-op, etc!

 “More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese” (CDC 2014).

Diet. That word is so restraining, and honestly, it kills any kind of good mood you’re in. When you pursue the thought of going on a diet, doesn’t it just ruin your motivation from the get-go?

Excuses for not starting are countless and inevitable.

“I still have all this junk in the house! I’ll wait for it to be gone and THEN I’ll start.”

“Ugh! But it’s Friday. I’ll start on Monday- AFTER the weekend.”

“So-and-so’s birthday is in 2 weeks! I don’t want to be on a diet for that!”

“I can’t eat ice cream (or nachos, or cake, or cookies, or soda) if I’m on diet!”

Do these sound familiar?

I know I was always guilty of pushing the start date of my diet farther and farther for whatever reason I could come up with. But, in the back of my mind, I felt SO guilty and just fell into a deeper hole of bad eating, bad relationships with food, and bad self-esteem. I KNEW what I was supposed to do- eat healthier, cleaner foods, exercise on a regular basis, and drink more water. I KNEW I would feel so much better by doing the above things, however, the thought of being on a diet just killed my motivation before I even got started, yet, I was so upset with myself and how I felt and looked.

So, let’s get rid of the word DIET and replace it with EATING.

photo (23)

Now, does the word eating sound so bad? Nope! Why? Because, we HAVE to eat to sustain and nourish ourselves. Next, let’s throw in the word HEALTHY to that equation which will now become HEALTHY EATING. Okay, so it’s a little more daunting because it requires some effort on your part, but, bear with me and keep reading- you’ll thank me, promise.

When you make a lifestyle change in how you view and consume food, your entire attitude will change for the better.

My view and my husband’s view on food COMPLETELY changed after watching ‘Hungry for Change’ (you can find it through Amazon Prime Instant Video, Netflix, etc.). A lot of the movie had information we already knew, but, the way it was presented was so different. The reality of our food habits hit us like a ton of bricks. To be honest, we aren’t a household that stocks the cabinets with chips, cookies, candy, and other junk. We try to eat healthy, but, we weren’t trying hard enough. We were still going out to eat, eating fast food, and buying more sugar-laden snacks than I’d like to admit.

Now, back to eating- healthy eating. What if I told you that you could eat plenty of healthy, nutritionally dense foods and be completely satisfied and not be hungry 20 minutes later!? What if I told you that if you don’t consume sugar, you won’t crave sugar? What if I told you that eating healthy, natural food doesn’t have to break the bank?

By now, you’re thinking “Okay, lady. You are crazy if you think I can do that and not fork over hundreds of extra dollars a month, year, what have you!”

Well, guess what!? It doesn’t have to be expensive to eat healthy and in the long run, you will be glad you did. You are INVESTING in your current body by providing it with healthy foods that it needs to function with!

Did you know that “there are over 300 chemicals used in processed foods today and statistics show that the average American household spends about 90 percent of their food budget on such foods?” (Hungry for Change, 2012)

We’re over-fed and starving to death” (Hungry for Change, 2012).

Imagine what you could buy with that 90% of your food budget that is going towards processed foods and beverages? You could be buying nutritious foods that will keep you full (and fuller longer), give your body the nutrients it needs, and help your body perform at its optimal level!

Once we changed our eating habits at the start of January, the following things happened in a matter of a couple days:
– My daily bouts with heartburn completely vanished
– I started sleeping better and stayed asleep, feeling rested in the morning
– My chronic back pain decreased immensely
– My body started purging the toxins it had ingested for so many months prior
-I didn’t crave sugar
-My milk supply for breastfeeding increased
– I lost 4 lbs and 8.5 inches from changing my diet alone
– I ate adequate nutritionally dense foods and was satisfied and never felt ‘starved’

With how I felt after those first couple days, I felt like an idiot for making myself suffer for so long before committing to better eating.

growing-your-own-food

So, what does this all have to do with homesteading you ask?

Growing your own produce is a huge part of homesteading, along with raising your own chickens for eggs, goats or cows for milk, and other animals of choice for meat. When you grow and produce your own food, you are guaranteeing that it will be free from preservatives and other additives. It will not be genetically modified or created in a lab. It will not trick your brain into craving it like processed sugar does (research done on sugar has shown that it is as addictive, if not more so, than cocaine (PubMed, 2012). It will also not have an absurd shelf-life!

Even if you are not a homesteader or able to grow your own food, you can follow the tips below to ensure your body is getting the right foods!

  • When grocery shopping:
    • Choose organic/grass-fed/free range as MUCH as possible- this applies to produce, meats, and eggs
    • Shop the perimeter of the store- only venture into the center aisles when necessary for things like rice, oatmeal, healthy grains, etc.
    • READ labels- if you can’t pronounce the ingredients list and it is chock full of preservatives and weird additives, don’t buy it
    • Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry- you will be tempted to buy things you don’t really need and you will most likely end up buying junk and ready-to-go meals
    • Plan ahead for your meals- by doing this, you will waste less food and it also helps to avoid those dreaded nights of “What’s for dinner?” “I don’t know! I don’t feel like cooking!
  • At home:
    • Buy a water bottle that you can refill during the day- stay hydrated! You will be surprised by how much better you will feel when you are properly hydrated (for reference, it is recommended that you drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water A DAY- at least! Ex. If you weigh 200 lbs, you should be drinking no less than 100 oz. of water a day)
    • Prep your meals and snacks at the start of the week- portion your snacks into baggies or containers so you can easily grab them and not over-snack! Prepping your food ahead of time also makes cooking a breeze (i.e. cutting up veggies, cooking multiple pieces of meat to last a few days, etc.)
    • Avoid sugary snacks, processed foods, and prepackaged foods/meals- these foods are a trap, seriously. They are made with chemicals and additives that purposely trick your brain into thinking it is full while also triggering your brain to crave even more. Rid your house of these and don’t buy them at the store. If someone in your household absolutely “needs” (and I say “needs” with an insane amount of sarcasm), put them in a separate cabinet or drawer where you will not see them and be tempted to consume them.
    • Get CREATIVE- cooking and eating is supposed to be enjoyable and it is crazy how much flavor you can get with nutritious foods and seasonings (and if you must use salt, use Himalayan Pink Salt- just limit your intake since it’s still salt)
  • Join a local co-op!
    • Our family participates in Bountiful Baskets which offers produce and other add-ons (breads, granola, herbs, oils, etc.) You contribute every other week typically and you go pick up your goods!
    • Finding a totally local co-op would be even better because you’d most likely be getting produce and other goods from farmers and merchants in your area
  • Find a local butcher/meat shop
    • Not only will the quality usually be much higher, you will have someone who is knowledgeable about certain cuts and types of meat. You will probably be paying more BUT the quality is much better than any store bought meat you will find

The tips above are just several ways to help you succeed in leading a healthier lifestyle. Besides, when you’re healthy, it will make your daily activities much easier (especially if you are homesteading and have lots of tasks around the property!)

If you’d like more info about getting healthier and leading a healthy lifestyle, please check out  one of my good friends, Kelley (I’ve known her since middle school!) at The Fit Wife + Navy Life. She is my go-to person for all things health and fitness related. She has had many of the same struggles I have had and she has kicked bad habits in the butt. She lost over 100 lbs. and has become so knowledgeable (and certified) in all things health! Check out her story at Fit Wife + Navy Life– you will be inspired.