Establishing a passion for reading in young children

I love to read. I’ve loved it my whole life. I remember as a child, one of my favorite places to visit was the public library – I’d choose a Nancy Drew novel or any book about horses. In fact, even now I always have a book that I attempt to steal a few moments daily reading from. And I’ve learned a lot from reading countless books over the years. Reading opens the windows in your brain to allow knowledge and adventure to pour through. It lends depth and perspective to every-day situations. It can make you feel a range of emotions and take you to faraway places, all while lounging on a soft, deep couch or cozy bed.

I would love to instill that passion in my children. Now, I realize that at first, reading is hard work. But it can also be lots of fun. I recently wrote a blog post for a client of mine called How To Encourage Young Children to Establish a Love of ReadingPlease click the article link to find ideas to make reading fun and create a lifelong appreciation for reading, as well as the priceless benefits of reading to young children.

I’d love to hear your ideas for encouraging young children to adore books in the comments!


Pets can help grow confident, compassionate kids

DSC_0301National Dog Day is coming up August 26, and it got me thinking about dogs – and pets in general – growing up with my 4 kids. Currently, we have 5 hens, and the kids do love checking for eggs each day….but it’s tough to really PLAY with a chicken, you know?

I had many pets growing up (dogs, cats, horses), and I believe it gave me a lifelong love of all animals. Though my childhood animals have all passed, my siblings and I still talk about them and the fun we had with our pets to this day!


My puppy, Nemo

Did you know that raising children along with pets offers some distinct emotional and physical advantages*?

  1. Caring for a pet teaches children responsibility and respect for living things, and the more they practice caring for an animal in a positive way, the higher self-confidence and self-esteem the child gains.
  2. Pets provide an opportunity to teach life lessons, such as birth, death, illnesses, and so forth.
  3. Pets connect kids with nature.
  4. Pets can provide comfort, love, loyalty, and affection to children, deepening compassion and empathy for others as they grow.
  5. Having an active pet can promote plenty of exercise for children!

Whatever pet you and your child choose, ensure that pet-ownership is a positive experience. If your child is regularly abusive to the animal, it could be a sign of emotional problems.


My puppy, Nemo, “helping” with the laundry

My children have been asking for a dog lately (in fact, one asked for a puppy for Christmas…looks like I’m in some serious trouble!). I love puppies, but I think the timing needs to be right for us since they require so much time and attention. Whether you’re looking for a puppy to join your family or just love to peruse photos of those soft little fluffy babies, check out the adorable puppies at (Not an affiliate link!)

What do you think about raising children along with pets? Too much work or totally worth it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


*Source: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry –

Whitewash your outdated yellow-brick fireplace

your-outdated-yellow-brick-fireplaceI love the look of whitewashed brick. I feel like it doesn’t detract from the character of the brick because you can still let the various hues show through, yet it’s more bright and fresh at the same time.

My home was built in the 70’s and has a yellow brick fireplace that I’ve been dying to update. Turns out all it took was a rainy Saturday with nothing to do to finally freshen up that yellow brick. The best part is, if you do any type of DIY projects around the house you likely have most or all of the supplies at home. This project took me about 3 hours from start to finish; totally workable for a weekend afternoon.

I found this tutorial on Pinterest that I absolutely love from Young House Love. They do a lot of fun projects over there. But in my searching, I was coming up short with tutorials for yellow brick, so I decided to post my own!





First, you’ll want to round up some supplies: A paintbrush or two (I found that firm-bristled brushes did better going between the bricks), painter’s tape, a drop cloth, piece of plastic, or old sheet to cover the floor, and white latex paint. (For my project, I only used about a quarter gallon of leftover white paint mixed with the same amount of water – a little bit goes a long way.)

You’ll want to mix 50% paint with 50% water or adjust to your own ratio if you want it more or less transparent. If you’re not sure, I would recommend painting the first layer and then adjusting your ratio for the second. 50/50 was perfect for me. It will be pretty runny, so I also recommend having an old rag close by to wipe up drips. dsc_0263

Begin whitewashing! 

  1. I wiped down the brick with a damp old rag (I’ve never wiped my brick before….there were surprisingly some icky things).
  2. Tape off the walls and ceiling surrounding the brick and cover the hearth and/or floor with your sheet or drop cloth. If you have a fireplace insert, you’ll want to tape off the edges that come in contact with the brick, too.
  3. Once your paint is mixed with water, just use your paint brush to apply it to the brick. Whitewashing is that easy! I decided to paint between the bricks, too, but you can leave them the original color and just paint the brick faces if you prefer.
  4. When the paint dries, decide if you want to add another layer to make it less transparent and touch up any areas that have less coverage. (I only painted one layer on mine.)dsc_0267

I plan to spray paint the insert black and paint the tile hearth white, then add a mantel to really spruce up our fireplace, so it still has a long way to go. Looks like I have more work to do!

The whitewashing really brightened up our eat-in kitchen and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s one of those projects that can’t go wrong.




If you have tried whitewashing your yellow brick (or any other color, too), I’d love to hear how it turned out in the comments!

DIY Sprouts – Red Clover and Alfalfa

Are you trying to eat healthy for 2017? You made a plan, decided on a particular diet; perhaps you want to try growing your own produce, eat less meat, or reduce fat intake. Girl, good for you! Any of those goals will help you feel better, stronger, and better able to tackle the demands of each day. alfalfa-and-red-clover


If you would like to eat healthier, have you considered trying sprouts? It’s easy to do at home – the process includes soaking and keeping seeds or beans moist until they sprout, and then you can eat them. Sprouting is new to me; the only sprouts I’d really ever had before are the alfalfa sprouts you see at a salad bar. My kids have even been eating them.

But did you know you can EASILY grow them at home in your kitchen?

First, here are some nutrient benefits of eating sprouts: 

  • Beans and seeds contain much more vitamins and minerals in sprouted form which the plant harnesses to grow. Our bodies can utilize these vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, A, K, manganese, copper, folate, phosphorus, and several others.
  • There have been many studies done on the staggering health benefits of eating sprouts, which include improved vision, lower cholesterol, reduction in blood pressure, protection against cancer, boosts skin health and metabolism, and supports the immune system.These are only a few of the perks. 
  • Sprouts contain a high amount of enzymes which aids in digestion.
  • Packed with protein and dietary fiber to help you feel full, sprouts can aid in weight loss.

If you’re not impressed with these little guys yet, you should note that growing sprouts is so simple. I love everything to do with self-reliance (I even made goals for 2017 to learn some new self-reliance skills), and something that makes sprouting great is the ease to store the beans and seeds as well as portability (take them with you backpacking, camping, or even for use in emergency situations!).

They can sit dry on your shelf for a long time, are light and easy to pack around, and just one tablespoon of seeds can grow into a cup of sprouts, depending on which variety you use.


Slotted lid and mason jar

For sprouting at home, all you really need is a mason jar, a slotted mesh lid (which you can make yourself, if so inclined), and the seeds, of course. You don’t even need to bother with messy dirt! If you really want to get serious, you can purchase trays that will hold many more seeds. Here is the simple process I follow:




Soak for 8 hours


DIY Alfalfa and Red Clover Sprouts

  1. Place desired amount of seeds into a glass mason jar (1-4 tablespoons should be plenty).
  2. Cover with water and soak 8-12 hours. This tells the seed it is time to start growing.
  3. Drain well.
  4. Continue to rinse the seeds every 12 hours until they have sprouted and ready to eat.

Day 1

These alfalfa and red clover sprouts only took 2 days after the soaking process. So simple!



Day 2

Please note before eating fresh sprouts, rinse EXTREMELY well. You don’t want any unwanted bacteria enjoying the moist growing conditions to stick around.


Day 3

ENJOY! Add the sprouts on top of fresh salads, open-faced sandwiches, or in soups. I’d love to hear how you like to eat your sprouts. Let me know if you try it in the comments!

P.S. If you’d like other DIY food staple ideas, check here and here!

2016 Review and 2017 Greetings

greetings-2017It’s been a great holiday break around here and now we’re jumping back into the swing of things.

It’s a new year and time for making plans. If you haven’t already set and written down new goals for 2017, check out this post for some motivation, goal-setting tips, and a FREE GOAL PRINTABLE!

2016 was a pretty special year for me. I had my fourth baby, a miraculous and sweet baby boy who melts my heart. Our children are growing healthy and strong and teaching me so much every day. My husband became a partner in a local fiber optics company, and I started my own dream career by freelance writing from home. (I have come a long way since September, and now write for 4 clients! It suits me perfectly and keeps me busy.)

As I’ve been reflecting the last couple of months on what direction I want my writing career and home life to go, I’ve decided on some lofty goals for 2017. Care to hear them?

  1. Draft my first historical romance novel – I’m going to write 900 words per week to finish by the end of the year. In 2018? Publish, of course!
  2. Maintain this blog, Healthy Mom, Happy Home and share inspiration on taking care of a home, family, and myself. I’m considering implementing affiliate marketing? We’ll see.
  3. Learn new self-sufficiency skills – beef up my garden plot for more home-grown produce, learn about and grow sprouts (in glass mason jars), and finally, nail homemade bread (the yeast and knead kind! Pulling out all the stops, I know…haha)
  4. In early 2016 before my baby was born, I bought fabric and cut squares to make 2 matching bedspread quilts for my girls’ room. This year I plan to finish piecing them all together so we can enjoy them….like, before the girls grow up…..

So there you have it. Sharing goals with others is one way to keep you accountable to reach them. Now I have to accomplish these! And I would be so happy if I did.

Care to share any of your 2017 goals? I’d love to hear them!

Apple Pie Caramel Apples- Rocky Mountain Copycat

apple-pie-caramel-applesWhat do you get when you mix shiny green granny smith apples dipped in caramel, then dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar? Mmm, delicious apple pie caramel apples, of course!

My husband and I make and give these apples out each year to friends and family at Christmas time, and we always get lots of compliments. They taste just like the ones from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, only theirs cost over $5 each; to make them yourself costs a little over $1 each.

Despite my husband’s protests, I’m going to share our recipe and some tips we’ve learned over the years for making these at home.

dsc_0178What you’ll need: 

  • 1 bag Kraft Caramel Bits
  • 1 12 oz bag of Nestle premier white “chocolate chip” morsels
  • Milk
  • 4-6 granny smith apples
  • Cinnamon and sugar mixed together in a mixing bowl
  • Fondue pot or heavy-bottomed pot (You can use a regular pot, just really watch it so it doesn’t burn!)
  • Lightly sprayed wax paper or tin foil, spread on counter
  • **Optional: Lollipop sticksdsc_0176

What to do: 

  1. Rinse and dry the apples and twist the stem off the top.
  2. Pour the caramel bits into the pot and turn on med-low heat (or if you have a fondue pot, 200° F). Watch closely and stir often so it doesn’t burn. Add milk about 2T at a time until the consistency feels right. You want it to slowly drip off a spoon, but not be so runny that it will just run off the apples. dsc_0175
  3. Poke apple with a lollipop stick or fork and cover in caramel. Set apple on the prepared wax paper or tin foil and repeat with all apples.
  4. While the caramel sets, wash all the caramel out of your pot and heat up the white chocolate. You do the same thing with the milk, adding 2T at a time until the consistency looks like this: dsc_0183
  5. Dip the caramelized apples into the white chocolate. Before placing them back on the wax paper, immediately sprinkle the apples with cinnamon sugar. dsc_0184

***One thing I recommend is to dip something in the remaining chocolate. We have pretzels on hand and dip them into the white chocolate, then sprinkle with festive sprinkles. They make a delicious extra treat!

Now it’s time to relax and devour your delightful creation! It’s like the taste of the holidays in your mouth.

What other foods do you like to dip in chocolate?

The adventure of GOALS

keep-your-eye-on-the-target-for-2017With the year coming to an end, it’s time to review 2016’s goals, celebrate successes, and begin thinking about new goals for 2017.

What an opportunity! What an adventure accomplishing goals can be! To step back and take an objective look at your life and see where you can improve, what is possible and realistic, and where you can make a difference.

The best part? YOU are in control of accomplishing those aspirations. “Improvement begins with “I”.” It’s true! Your goal is the target, and your quiver full of arrows is the process you put in place to shoot that goal in the bullseye. All you have to do is commit and pull the string. goal-arrow

Make goals that will help you become a better YOU in 2017.

Here are 5 tips to help you accomplish your goals: 

  1. Put a list of your goals in a place where you can see it and review it often. Keep them on the front of your mind.
  2. For your most ambitious goals, break them into smaller chunks (whether that’s quarterly, monthly, even daily) so that you can measure your progress and celebrate successes (or hit it harder) as you go.
  3. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, but also set goals that can realistically be obtained in the amount of time you have set for yourself.
  4. Set a date to accomplish each goal (if applicable). Focus on that deadline so you can WIN.
  5. Tell others. This helps you be accountable for reaching those goals and your friends and family can give you the support you need to finish.

To help you along, I have created a printable to share. It’s broken up into categories that I hope apply to you and your life.

CLICK HERE——>  2017-goals-printable

KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE TARGET for 2017! I wish you success! 

P.S. Just in case you missed out on my last free printable and still need to start your Christmas shopping, check out this post for a free Christmas list printable.

Homemade Yogurt

homemade-yogurtA huge part of becoming self-reliant is to gain new skills. As you may know, I enjoy DIY projects and my latest task has been to make my own kitchen staples from scratch. My children love yogurt, and I’m happy to share the results of my own DIY yogurt experiment.

***See my other DIY kitchen pantry mixes here and here.

I followed this excellent post from Kristen at The Frugal Girl and ended up  with delicious, creamy yogurt. I will recap for you, but for details, please visit her original post.

The results are 4 quarts of plain yogurt – only purchasing a cup of yogurt (used for the active cultures) and a gallon of whole milk – for a total cost of $3.50. To purchase that much yogurt at the store is 4x that amount! That’s huge savings by doing it yourself and perfect if you and your family eat a lot of yogurt.

Homemade Yogurt Recipe Recap:

Heat the milk over the stove (185-195°) and cool (120°). Add the cup of yogurt to the milk and pour into quart-size mason jars. Incubate for 3 hours and then place in the fridge to further solidify.

Those are the basics! Until recently, I never realized that yogurt makes more yogurt. (The same can be done with sour cream and cottage cheese, or so I’ve read. Maybe that will be my next experiment!) You can keep using a cup of yogurt each time as a starter and have homemade yogurt indefinitely. Pretty neat, if you ask me.

I like to mix jam, fresh fruit, and chocolate chips in my yogurt. What do you like to mix in yours? Share in the comments!

Foot and handprint Turkey craft

Turkey day is almost here! Need a fun holiday craft to do with the little ones this week? The kids and I made these cute Thanksgiving turkeys out of paper using their handprints and footprint. (I t…

Source: Foot and handprint Turkey craft

Foot and handprint Turkey craft

hand-print-turkey-craftTurkey day is almost here! Need a fun holiday craft to do with the little ones this week? The kids and I made these cute Thanksgiving turkeys out of paper using their handprints and footprint. (I take every chance I can get to trace those cute little appendages!) turkey-craft-1

As with every craft we make, most of the supplies you will need are very basic and you likely have them at your house already:

  • construction paper (you’ll need orange and brown, plus colors for the feathers)
  • scissors
  • crayons, colored pencils, paints…really whatever your kids prefer using
  • glue sticks or Elmer’s school glue
  • Google eyes, feathers (optional)turkey-craft-5

Here is how we made them: 

  1. Each child will start with a piece of construction paper for the background.
  2. Trace your child’s footprint once on brown paper, then trace 3-5 handprints on the colored paper. The footprint will be the turkey’s body and the handprints are the feathers.
  3. Cut out everything you just traced and glue onto the background page. I let my kids color the feathers with crayons if they wanted (my girls loved this, but my son was playing with cars while I finished gluing. Must be a boy thing…)turkey-craft-4
  4. Glue the eyes and an orange triangle beak (If you don’t have googly eyes, just draw them on or cut out circles for the kids to glue on). For the legs, cut strips of orange construction paper and fold back and forth like a fan. Glue to the body. turkey-craft-3

All done! Simple and fun. We are hanging ours up all week to celebrate the upcoming holiday. My children enjoy anything using glue or scissors. 🙂 turkey-craft-2

If you missed my post 2 weeks ago on the benefits of gratitude in your life, this is a great time to check it out.

Thanks for joining me. Happy Thanksgiving!