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13 Easter Picture Books 2020

Easter is two weeks out, so I'm trying to prepare and wrap my mind around things since shipping times may take longer due to the coronavirus, and I also want to give you all enough time to plan the things you want to do with your family as well. Picture books are one of my favorite ways to celebrate any major holiday, so today I rounded up 13 of my favorite books that you can purchase on Amazon, and will hopefully ship in time for Easter! Some of these are as little as $2, so hopefully you'll be able to add a couple to your library or Easter baskets!

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God Gave Us Easter: I love fun holiday books, and also books that talk about the true meaning of the holiday. This book is a great balance of both and is a great resource for talking to young readers about Easter.

The Good Egg Presents: The Great Eggscape: This Easter The Good Egg and his friends try to have some fun around the grocery store. This looks super cute and I'm totally grabbing a copy for my kids!

How to Catch The Easter Bunny: If you need to know how to catch an Easter Bunny, I'd assume you'd need this book.

Ten Little Eggs: This is a sweet story about ten eggs hatching in their mother's nest. It looks super darling, and something I'd love to add to our home library!

Jesus Rose For Me: This book was a new release in March 2020, and I'm excited to add it to our home. It's a board book that does a great job at telling the story of Jesus and His death for young readers. If you want a great biblical book to share with your family, definitely check this one out. 

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Chick: Kyle loves this series and I think we almost have every holiday one they've written.


The Berenstain Bears and The Real Easter Eggs: Brother and Sister Bear go on an Easter egg hunt and discover the real meaning of Easter in the process.


The Biggest Easter Basket Ever: Two mice try to get ready for Easter by making the biggest basket ever, and learn a lesson about cooperation in the process.

Peppa's Easter Egg Hunt: Kinsley is a major fan of all things Peppa Pig... This might be finding it's way into her Easter Basket this year.

Clifford's Happy Easter: I'm a huge lover of all things Clifford and have since I was very little. We actually don't have this Easter story, but I want to add it to our home library. It's a fun read about a big dog trying to color lots of little eggs!

Peppa's Easter Surprise: Kinsley has this board book and we read it all year round. It's super cute and talks about Peppa and her friends going on an egg hunt and discovering baby chicks at the end.

The Night Before Easter: You should all know by now that I'm obsessed with "The Night Before..." series by Natasha Wing, and her books make it onto all of my holiday lists. This one is a super fun read about the Easter Bunny coming to your house the night before Easter, and is super fun!

The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story: The Bear Cubs are obsessed about all things Easter and candy, but their Sunday School class teach them that Jesus' Resurrection is much sweeter than candy!

Are there any Easter classics that you love in your home? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Our Goal to Save One Million Dollars for Retirement

This year Derek and I had a huge goal to get ourselves straight financially. We didn't have loads of credit card debt, and we both have excellent credit scores, but we just felt a huge desire to work towards retirement and long term goals, and needed to create a plan that would get us there. 

How to budget and save money on a small income. How to save for retirement in your 30s. How to save money. How to live frugally. How to make one million dollars. How to save one million dollars. Retirement savings plan. How to stick to a budget. Pay student loans fast. #budgeting #finance #savings #retirement #frugal #couponing #income #debtsnowball
To buy a house or not to buy a house:
Since selling our last home over the summer, Derek and I have been constantly going back and forth on when we should think about buying again. I feel like there is a lot of pressure to buy because you see all your friends buying, and the market in Utah just keeps going up and up and up, but we ultimately decided that buying a home was not a long term priority to us and felt there were better things we could be doing with our money right now. 

Derek and I listened to this podcast: For The Love of Money: Should you rent or buy? And a lot of what he said really resonated with us. If we bought a home right now it would definitely be an FHA loan with only 3-5% downpayment. He outlines in that episode that purchasing a home under those circumstances actually yields to you losing money on your investment each year, and that the smarter thing to do with your money is to invest in a high yield savings account. He then goes on to say when you should buy a home, but Derek and I decided to just focus on the first step for right now. 

Paying off debt and then investing in a high yield savings account:
Derek and I decided that the number one thing we can do right now is pay off all of our debt as fast as we can. When we discussed this in January we put all of our debt and income into this Debt Snowball Calculator, and it basically said we could pay off all of our debt in 18 months without using any of my blogging income, tax refunds, bonuses, and just using Derek's money. 

Knowing that I would be making money, and Derek does get occasional bonuses at work, tax refunds, and other things like that, we knew we could pay off all our debt hopefully a lot sooner than the 18 months. This has become our number one focus since the start of the year. 

The only debt we actually have is my car payment and Derek's MBA student loans. Since January we have paid off $8,000 (combination of Christmas bonuses, tax refunds, and blogging money), on Derek's student loans, which has actually lowered our monthly payment, increasing the amount of money we have in our budget, and thereby increasing the amount of debt payments we can make each month. 

Cutting down expenses: 
One thing we're working really hard on right now is cutting down expenses to make our monthly bills as minimal as possible. I already mentioned that our student loan payment decreased when we paid a good portion of it off. This was because our $30k in loans were divided into four separate loans. We had $10k divided into three smaller loans and then $20k in one bigger loan. When we paid off all the smaller loans, it actually shaved $100 off of our monthly bill. 

Another thing we did to save on monthly expenses was switch our cell phone carrier to Mint Mobile. I did an entire post about them last week, but we're saving about $60 a month for our phone service by using them instead of another big carrier. 

One thing we're actively looking into right now is finding a new house to rent for the next year. Right now our rent is so insanely high, and we're living in a three story townhouse which as you can imagine is miserable when you have a five-year-old who cannot walk. 

We're hoping sometime between May-July to find a single-story home in our neighborhood to rent, that is hopefully cheaper than what we're paying now.

Investing in high yield savings accounts:
Once Derek and I have all our debt paid off (hopefully by next summer fingers crossed!), we will start contributing money each month to a high yield savings account. This is in addition to money we're already contributing to his 401k at work. We don't really have a plan yet as to who we will work with, and where we will invest our money, but the hope is to get something that matures at a rate of 5-10% each year (listen to podcast linked above for more on this), and we'll pay money into that account each month. 

The major long term goal is to have one million dollars saved for retirement when the time comes. Once we're done paying off debt, all the money we would have used for those monthly payments will just become invested into whatever accounts we decide to open. The hope is by the time we retire our accounts will grow at the same percentage rate that we're withdrawing so that it never truly depletes itself and is still earning money for us to live off of indefinitely.

All of this is coming from someone who isn't a financial expert, who probably said incorrect things, but we're learning and working through these things as we go.

Also while writing this we just upped our 401k contribution by 2%. 

These are our financial goals as of right now. Our major focus is getting rid of all the debt so that we can work towards the bigger picture. We'll keep you updated periodically on how all of this pans out over the coming months/years! 

50+ Easy Pantry Recipes

With everything that's been going on, and people being less and less able to make it out to the grocery store f or their regular food runs, I've noticed that people are pinning more and more of my easy basic recipes on Pinterest. I thought it would be a good idea to compile these all into one place for you to easily reference. 

Easy pantry recipes. Easy pantry meals. Easy weeknight dinner ideas. Easy food storage meals. Easy recipes to make during pandemic. Food storage meals. Easy lunch ideas. Pantry breakfast ideas. Pantry lunch ideas. Pantry dinner ideas. Easy pantry meals. Food to make during pandemic. #foodstorage #breakfast #lunch #dinner #snacks #pandemic #mealideas #pantrystaples #pantrymeals

There is a combination of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and treat ideas that you can likely make with things you already have on hand in your pantry. These recipes are simple to make, taste great, and will keep your bell full in between grocery shopping trips! I've gathered up 53 recipes for you, compiled over nine years of blogging, so let's all take a trip down memory lane, and get some good food inspiration. 

Best biscuit recipe. Drop biscuit recipe. 3 ingredient biscuit recipe. Simple biscuit recipe. Flakey biscuit recipe. Biscuit recipe with butter. Biscuit recipe without baking powder. Bisquick biscuit recipe.


Amish friendship bread without sharing. Amish friendship bread with pudding. Amish friendship bread recipe without pudding. Amish friendship bread starter without yeast. Amish friendship bread starter recipe. Amish friendship bread variations. Easy baking recipes. Easy treat ideas with pantry staples. Easy pantry recipes. Easy food storage treat ideas. Simple treat ideas. #amishrecipes #amish #bread #bakedgoods #pantrycooking #shelfcooking #pandemic #isolation #treats #baking


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Easy tuna casserole recipe. Classic tuna casserole. Cheesy tuna casserole. Tuna casserole with chips. Old fashioned tuna casserole. Tuna Casserole with Campbells. Tuna casserole without soup. Tuna casserole without mayo.


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homemade BBQ sauce


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What are some of your easy pantry recipes that you're eating right now? I'd love to know in the comments below! 

Amish Friendship Bread Without A Starter

I lived with a friend's family in between graduating high school and moving to Utah the following January. During the time that I was staying there, a bunch of ladies from church were sharing these Amish Friendship Bread Starters. I knew basically nothing about yeast and bread at the time, but understood it to be some living thing in a baggie on the counter that you had to feed a certain amount of flour to everyday, and then every so often make a yummy loaf of cake like bread out of it.

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The bread was amazing, and I remember for a while there was Amish bread being made on a weekly basis. I imagine at some point my friend's mom must have gotten tired of feeding flour to this thing on the counter everyday and just let it die, or threw it away, but when I tell you that this Amish Friendship Bread was one of the greatest thing I've ever had, I'm being completely serious. 

Fast forward 11 years to last Sunday and all of a sudden I had this craving of, "I need Amish Friendship Bread right now!" But I had no clue how to make a starter, and did not have a week to let it ferment on my counter, so I took to the internet and found this recipe to make Amish Friendship Bread without a starter, and it is every bit as good as the real thing, and gives you bread in an hour, instead of a week.

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This bread is the same consistency of banana bread, so more like cake then bread, but it has this amazing cinnamon sugar mixture that gets melty and delicious in the middle, and sweet and crackly on the top. It's so good, and involved super basic ingredients that you already have on hand. If you need something sweet to eat today, I got you covered. 

For best results, definitely have a piece immediately, but then cover with plastic wrap and set on the counter. The plastic wrap will help retain the moisture and will make it almost even better the second day... if you can let it last that long ;)

Ingredients: 
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 c buttermilk (or add 1 tbsp vinegar to 1 cup regular milk)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture:
1/3 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the butter and the sugar. Then add in the egg and vanilla and mix. Add the buttermilk, flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix until just combined.

Grease a 9x5 loaf pan. Pour half the batter into the pan and spread it out evenly. Next, sprinkle 3/4 of the cinnamon mixture over the top, and then cover with the remaining batter, and then sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon mixture.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes until transferring to a cutting board and serving (or cut straight from the pan).

Mint Mobile Review: How We Pay $30/month for Unlimited Everything

The last several years Derek and I have been on a highly discounted T-mobile cellphone plan with friends, and were paying $40/month for both of us. We got this awesome deal because we bundled with friends, and got extra savings because our plan holder was a former veteran. It was honestly the greatest thing ever. Right after Christmas though, our friends moved to Singapore and needed to get a new phone plan that worked over there, which left Derek and I shopping for a phone plan again.


We looked into all the major phone carriers: T-mobile, Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T. T-mobile wound up being the cheapest, but for Derek and I to stay with them, it still would have cost us $90/month. We just weren't willing to pay that at the end of the day. We've been working so hard at cutting down unnecessary expenses and paying off Derek's MBA loans (half way there as of last month!), that doubling our cellphone bill just seemed like more than we could do at the time. 

We came across Mint Mobile from some other friends of ours, and were instantly intrigued by a lot of things they had to offer, at a super low price. As of right now, Derek and I have used Mint Mobile for three months, and we pay just $30/month for the two of us to have unlimited talk and texting, and 3GB of 4G data per month. The best part is that when you use up your data, they just slow you down to 3G instead of charging you overages for the month, meaning our bill is always the same price, no matter what. 


How does billing work with Mint Mobile?
The only thing that I don't love is that you have to pay your entire bill in advance. You can trial it for three months at $15/month (per line, so $30 for us with Derek and myself), and you have to pay that all upfront, so for one line you'll pay $45, and get three months of service. After your first three months are up, if you want to keep the same $15/mo price, you have to pay for a year of service up front. Otherwise you can pay $25/month for three months ($75 up front), or $20/month for six months ($120 up front). 

Derek and I have used our first three months and are now switching over to the 12 month plan so that we can keep our $15/month price. So we will pay $180 each this month, and then not pay our phone bill again until next April. 

How is the reception/service with Mint Mobile?
Mint Mobile uses the T-mobile towers, so if T-mobile gets good service in your area, you should be more than fine with the service and reception that you get on Mint. Derek and I previously were on T-Mobile before switching, so we felt comfortable with what we were getting into. 

Does the data work well with Mint Mobile?
I will be honest that even when we have all of our data for the month, it's still slower than what we used to have on T-mobile. We've researched this and because we share T-Mobile's towers, apparently T-Mobile customers get priority, and then the smaller phone services get secondary priority or something like that.  

That being said, when we have all 3GB of our data for the month it's not a huge difference, and it's never effected my ability to use my GPS when I need it and things like that. It is slow enough that watching instastories in my car isn't really that enjoyable, so I've rotted my brain less since switching which seems like a plus. 

When we use all of our data for the month and get bumped down to 3G the service is SLOW. Like have to try putting things into my GPS three times slow. But once the GPS gets going things are fine, and I've never been lost or stranded because of it. 

We've mostly have come to just rely on using wifi more than data when possible and I think it's really helped me to become less addicted to my phone, which feels like a good thing. 

Do I think Mint Mobile is worth it?
YES! Even with the slower data, we haven't had any major issues that would make me want to pay more money for my cell service. To me having slightly slower data is a small price to pay when it comes to how small our cell phone bill is. Since our alternative is paying T-Mobile $90/month, I'm completely satisfied with paying my $30/month and having less social media time when I'm out of my house. 

If you're interested in trying Mint Mobile you can sign up here to get you first three months at the introductory $15/month price. Not sponsored at all, just genuinely sharing a service we truly love. 

Have you heard of Mint Mobile? Or do you use another phone company with super low prices? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments below! 

7 Things I'm Doing for Myself During Quarantine

While we're all stuck in isolation during quarantine, I know this can be especially hard on moms. We've overnight assumed the role of teacher, in addition to all the other things we do. If you have a special needs child, you likely took on the role of physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech language pathologist as well. All of Kinsley's appointments have been canceled until further notice and so any therapy that happens is on me. 


I know it's really easy to feel consumed by all the things going on around us, which is why I think self care is more important now than ever. I've been doing a few things for myself each day that help me to feel better, and feel more in control of all the chaos going on around me. 

Read my scriptures every morning:
This is something that I fell out of habit with for the last year. About six weeks ago I recommitted to doing this every morning, right when I wake up, before I get out of bed, and I can see the biggest difference in my day. Doing something for myself right off the bat gives me more energy to pour into my kids the rest of the day. 

Make my bed and tidy the house:
I know this isn't for everyone, but my bed is actually where we do Kyle's homeschool lessons, so I've been making that each day in preparation for schoolwork. Making my bed though automatically forces me into cleaning the rest of our bedroom and bathroom, and the rest of the house as well. Having the house picked up each day eliminates both mental and physical clutter, and I'm here for that. 

Getting dressed and doing my make-up:
I've been getting dressed in simple jeans and t-shirt outfits and throwing on a little makeup each day, and it just helps everything else to feel more normal. Once I get out of bed in the morning I head right into the bathroom and spend five minutes getting ready for the day. I don't really own a ton of lounge clothes anyways, but making the effort to get dressed really helps this abnormal time feel just a little more normal. 

Spending time outdoors:
The kids and I have been getting outside together after lunch for 30 minutes and the fresh air and sunlight just feels so good. It's the perfect way to recharge for the rest of the afternoon ahead. 

Prioritizing exercise:
My race that was supposed to be on April 4th has been pushed back to the second week of May. It's been really great to have that target date ahead of me to keep me motivated with my training. I've been getting outside for a run in the evenings and it's the perfect way to clear my mind from the entire day, get some more fresh air, and do something great for my body.

Set a goal for yourself:
I set a goal a few nights ago that I want to be able to do a full split by the time this quarantine ends. So I've been setting time aside each night for stretching and practicing, and it feels fun to have something super random to work towards!

Making healthy lunches:
We don't eat lunch until everyone's homeschool lessons are done for the day, usually around 12-1pm. By this time of day, I'm starving! I started making myself a super yummy salad everyday last week with romaine lettuce, quinoa, hard boiled eggs, turkey, tomato, cheese, and cucumbers, and then drizzled with some salad dressing, and it is SO GOOD. It feels good to fuel my body with nutrient dense foods, and it's become a bright spot in the afternoon that I look forward to.

What is something that you're doing for yourself each day? I'd love to know in the comments below!