What to Do if You are Bitten by a Tick

Do you know what to do if you are bitten by a tick?  The following tips will help you know exactly what to do to minimize the risk of infection and also help you catch any potential infection early on for best treatment outcomes. Quick treatment is key to recovery!Do you know what to do if you are bitten by a tick? Quick treatment is key to recovery & these tips will tell you exactly what to do if you get a tick bite.

Photo Credit  Medical disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, nor do I want to be. Consult your doctor for any specific concerns you may have about ticks and tick bites.

What to Do if You are Bitten by a Tick

If you are hiking, camping, or just spending time outdoors, it is important to do tick checks on everyone in your family. Ticks can transmit devastating illnesses to humans and animals, so tick checks are important any time you spend time outdoors. If you do find a tick attached during your check, here are the steps you should take. (If you’re looking for natural ways to prevent tick bites, this post might help.)

First, it’s very important that you don’t panic! Not all types of ticks cause disease (primarily the very small deer tick). In fact, according to Science News, fewer than 5% of tick bites lead to any illness at all. Stay calm and understand that most tick bites are gross, but not necessarily dangerous. However, given the severity of many tick borne illnesses, it’s important to take the following precautions anyway.

Steps you should take if you are bitten by a tick.

Photo Credit

First, remove the tick properly.

Tick removal is not as simple as just grabbing it and pulling. In order to lessen the chances of the tick releasing more potential illness or parasites, get a pair of tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the head as possible. With a straight out and up motion, pull the tick out without twisting it. If you leave the head, that’s OK. You can try to grab it after, but if it won’t come out, don’t ‘fish’ for it as this can lead to infection. Your body will push it out on its own.

Next, clean the area well.

Once you’ve removed the tick, it’s important to clean the area properly. Using an antibacterial soap, clean the area well. This is important to ward off skin infections. Don’t listen to old wives tales about how to remove the tick. Trying to drown the tick with soap, rubbing alcohol, or lotion to get it to un-attach itself will not work. Also, it goes without saying that holding a match to burn the tick off your skin is a bad idea. Both of these methods are not only ineffective, but can actually make the tick spill more saliva into your body. Since saliva is what causes the infection in the first place, it’s important to minimize how much is transmitted into your blood stream.

Decide what to do with the tick: get rid of it or keep it.

To dispose of the tick

If you just want to get rid of the tick, it’s recommended to flush it down the toilet. After you flush it, verify that it goes down and keep flushing until it is GONE.

To keep the tick for testing

Instead of flushing the tick, though, I recommend keeping it as you might want to have it tested. This is especially important if your tick bite happens to develop the bull’s eye rash or you start feeling poorly shortly after the tick bite. Some places, like the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, will test your tick for free if you fill out their form and mail in the tick. You can find more free labs by Googling ‘free tick testing.’ If you decide to keep the tick, put it in a ziplock baggie and then put the baggie in your freezer. You might want to label the baggie.

Watch for signs of illness or infection.

Watch the area of the bite over the next couple of days for signs of infection or illness. Tick borne illnesses often carry symptoms such as fever, severe fatigue, headache and body aches. Often, but not always, there is a bulls-eye shaped rash at the site of the bite in Lyme disease. Watch for any signs of rash at all by drawing a circle around the bite spot so you will remember where it was. Unfortunately, the bulls-eye rash is not always totally obvious, so be vigilant when observing the body after a tick bite.

Be tested by a doctor if you are concerned.

If you are concerned, make sure to see your doctor right away and ask for the Elisa and Western Blot tests. These two tests are the most common tests used to determine tick borne illnesses. However, they can have false negatives and sometimes one might be positive when the other is negative. Most people think only Lyme Disease is caused by ticks, but there are other tick borne illnesses as well. It’s important that your doctor considers more than just Lyme when examining you.

Get a second opinion if you don’t feel you have been heard

Tick borne illnesses are not something every doctor is educated in and some doctors don’t take them as seriously as they could. Make sure to seek a second opinion if you feel your voice was not heard. You can look for a LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor) to answer questions and for further testing. To find a LLMD in your area, visit the International Lyme & Associated Diseases Society website.

Are you concerned about tick bites? Make sure you read this post on natural ways to prevent tick bites too.

How to Get Your Kids to Help You Weed Your Garden

If you’re looking for a fun way to get your kids to help you weed your garden, try out the Weed Zinger. This chemical-free weed killer is the only way I can get my kids to help me with smiles on their faces.It's not always easy to motivate them kids to help out, but these four tips will get your kids to help you weed your garden and have fun in the process!

*This post was sponsored by Weed Zinger. All opinions are my own.*

How to Get Your Kids to Help You Weed Your Garden

I’m mostly a vegetable gardener and I grow food to feed my family. While I’m always looking for ways to get my kids to help in the garden, quite often they simply aren’t interested. Weeding is quite often back-breaking work and no fun at all, but it is possible to involve them without fights. If you’re looking for ways to cheerfully involve your kids in the weeding process at your house, I hope these tips will help you.

Make it fun

In my experience, the only way to get my kids willing to cheerfully help me in the garden is to make the process fun. If I stress out while I’m weeding and give my kids a hard time if they accidentally pull a useful plant instead of a weed, they run far away. Getting them back to the garden is then really hard. It’s hard for me sometimes to stay calm, but really. How big of a deal is it if they accidentally pull a baby carrot or a radish? I do it myself. No yelling in the garden. The plants don’t like it.

Don’t use chemicals

You probably know this already, but chemicals shouldn’t be handled by your kids. In my opinion, they don’t belong in your garden at all, but at the very least, don’t let your kids apply them. If you use chemicals, I don’t think you can ask your kids to help at all, so that’s why I add no chemicals to this list.

Help your kids measure their success

Sound familiar? You talk your kids into helping you weed, they pull one weed and then leave. Tell me I’m not the only one who has had this problem? A great way I have found to motivate my kids to keep working, is to help them measure their success by giving them a container to fill. We have garden trugs and galvanized buckets for them to use. When the container is full, they’re done. Helping them measure success give them a reason to keep at it instead of quitting before they’re done.

Bribery does work. 😀

As long as we’re being perfectly honest, and I endeavor to be honest with you in my blogging, bribery is an awesome parenting tool. I might have been one of those parents who said they’d never have to resort to bribery with my own kids, but well, then life happened. I totally bribe my kids and I’ll be the first to admit it. 😀 After we weed the garden, we can get an ice cream or a make homemade lemonade or go to the pool. I don’t have have a problem with that at all. So yes, I’m a fan of bribery.

Try the Weed Zinger 

I’m honestly a pretty simple person. I don’t like a lot of frills when it comes to gardening tools. Give me a nice, sharp hoe and I’m happy. But watching my kids swing a hoe around makes me a little nervous honestly. I can just see them wacking a sibling accidentally or removing a toe. So tools that don’t seem as dangerous are very appealing to moms with kids.

A few weeks ago, I was a sent a Weed Zinger to try out. It’s an upright weed puller and requires no bending. When the Weed Zinger arrived at my house a few weeks ago, my kids went nuts. I was really surprised, because they usually run far away from gardening tasks. They were so excited to try out the Weed Zinger though, so I sent them out to my garden and told them to get busy. 😀

Using the Weed Zinger is pretty easy. Just wait for a nice rain so the ground is soft, insert the stand-up weeder in the middle of the plant you wish to remove, give it a good twist, and pull. Then, have fun launching the plant as far as you can. If you haven’t had a rain in a while, you can water the area to soften the ground as well. Above, you can see my son, Ben, in my garden boots!, demonstrate the Weed Zinger. You can also get a feel for how windy it is in Eastern Iowa when you watch the video.

Putting the Weed Zinger to Use

Now I have to be completely honest with you. I probably wouldn’t personally use this weeder in my garden. I think it’s great for people who have back problems and can’t bend easily. I also think it’s great for kids who want to help in the garden and have fun in the process. But as a utility weeder for my production garden, I will most likely stick to an old fashioned hoe.

Do you have problems motivating your kids to help you weed? Think you would try out the Weed Zinger? You can order it online at HomeDepot.com. At under $20 and with FREE shipping, it’s not too expensive either. Does it sound like a tool you would try?

Beautiful & Useful Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Moms Who Garden {& free printable!}

If you’re wondering what to give for Mother’s Day, make sure you check out this list of beautiful and useful Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Moms Who Garden!  We also made you free printable gardening coupons for gardening chores! Give them to your mom or have your kids give them to you {hint hint}…*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my site and my Amazon Prime addiction.*

Beautiful & Useful Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Moms Who Garden

Today’s installment of Tuesdays in Garden is all about helping you find the right gift to celebrate your Mom. Whether you want to handcraft a beautiful Mother’s Day gift or buy one, we’ve got you covered. This post contains so many great ideas for Mother’s Day, you’re sure to find the perfect gift idea. And at the end of the post, you’ll also find the link to free printable garden coupons, my gift to you, loyal readers. Thank you for being here.

Free printable garden chore coupons. The perfect Gift Idea for Gardening Moms

Garden Harvest Baskets

A beautiful garden harvest basket is something I have wanted for a long time, but have never bought for myself. I know that any one of these baskets would make a great gift for a mom who loves gardening. These are the top three that caught my eye on Amazon, but there are certainly other beautiful options as well. If you’d like to make your mom an extra special garden themed gift, grab one of these baskets and then fill it up with a few of the other items on my list. I’m sure a garden bounty basket filled with useful garden items would be a huge hit!

 Pike’s Original Maine Garden Hod Set of 3 Sussex Trugs Metal Harvest Basket

Unique Garden Plant Markers

Garden plant markers are another fun gardening gift, and also something I never bother to buy for myself. I don’t have garden markers, but I really love the classic metal markers included in this list of ideas and would absolutely love it if someone gave them to me!

 Chalkboard Look Vegetable Markers Slate Artisan Plant Markers Classic Metal Garden Markers

Fun Indoor Gardening Kits

If your mom likes gardening kits, these kits might fit the bill! Not only are the lovely to look at, but they’re practical too! I think the cans of herbs or the indoor cilantro jar would look lovely on the kitchen window sill. I’ve never grown my own mushrooms, but have always thought it would be fun to try.

 Back to the Roots Organic Mushroom Farm Back to the Roots Organic Herbs in a Can Indoor Cilantro Herb in Jar

Items that Help Attract Pollinators to the Garden

Every gardening mom knows that pollinators are essential to successful gardens. If you’d like to gift your mom something to help her attract pollinators to her garden, here are a few useful and beautiful items. I actually have the bee house and the hummingbird feeder and love them both.


 Bee House and Insect Home Mason Jar Hummingbird Feeder Pollinator Friendly Gardening

My Favorite Organic Gardening Books

Gardening books are not only useful, but fun as well. Make sure to add a gardening book to the harvest basket gift! Your favorite gardener would appreciate any of these gardening books. 😀

 The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Healthy Garden Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening

Useful Gardening Tools

Beautiful and practical gardening tools are always a hit in my book. I love my steel watering cans and garden knife. They’re useful for so many reasons. Admittedly, I don’t wear my garden gloves as often as I should, but maybe this year will be the year I actually start. 🙂


 2-1/2-Gallon Steel Watering Can Leather Gardening Gloves Hori Hori Garden Knife

Fun Gardening T-Shirts

So these gifts aren’t necessarily practical, but they are awfully cute. If your mom loves gardening and t-shrits, maybe one of these fun t-shirts would be right up her alley.

 Work In My Garden & Drink Wine T-Shirt Crazy Garden Lady T-Shrit Women’s Worms Dig My Garden T-Shirt

Fun Gardening Signs

Also not practical, but a fun gift nonetheless, here are a few of my favorite garden related signs. 😀 These are decor, obviously, not for use in your garden. But they could make for cute displays in a gardening shed or on a front porch.

 Dirty Hoe Garden Vintage Metal Sign Pull Weeds Sign Funny Wooden Garden Sign

Tuesdays in the Garden

Tuesdays in the Garden 2017

I’ve shared a few beautiful and useful gift ideas you can buy, but my gardening friends also have a few DIY options today too! If you’d rather make your mom a homemade gift, check out these wonderful ideas from the Tuesdays in the Garden Gang. 🙂

frugal family homeFrom Shelly @Frugal Family Home – Mason Jar Herb Garden

hearth and vineFrom Patti @Hearth & Vine – How to Make an Herb Garden in a Burlap Sack

 An Oregon Cottage

From Jami @An Oregon Cottage – Easy DIY Gardener’s Hand Cream

Angie freckled rose

From Angie @The Freckled Rose – Gifts for Your Gardener

homemade food junkieFrom Diane @Homemade Food Junkie – Container Garden Tips 

Bren Haas

From Bren @Bren Hass – Kid Friendly Way to Say Happy Earth Day

6 Easy Mother's Day Planter Ideas

Also from me: 6 Easy Planter Ideas for Mother’s Day

 Printable Mother's Day Garden chore coupons

If you’d like to download the free printable coupons, just click the link and a PDF file will , Mother’s Day Coupons –  from Simplify Live Love. You can print the coupons on 8 1/2 x 11″ card stock, cut them out, and give to your beloved gardener. Or in my case, I’d print them out, cut them, and then beg my kids to give them to me. LOL!

Happy Mother’s Day to you!! 

12 Things You Need to Know About Driving in Germany

Driving in Germany is a lot of fun, but there are some things you need to know before you rent a car and take off on the Autobahn. This list of twelve things you need to know will help you avoid tickets, stay safe, and have a lot of fun on German Autobahn. By the way, 160 kmh = 100 mph. Important details. 🙂

12 things you must know about driving in Germany to keep you safe, sane, and traffic ticket free.

*This post contains affiliate links which help support this site at no cost to you. Thank you!*

12 Things You Need to Know About Driving in Germany

We logged 2900 km on our recent trip to Europe with our four kids and learned a lot about driving through Germany in our rented mini-van. While my husband Dan definitely enjoyed driving at break-neck speed when he could on the Autobahn, there is a lot more to driving in Germany than simply going fast. Take note of these tips so you’re prepared for your German driving adventure!

Traffic is lighter on Sundays in Germany when the Semis are prohibited from driving.

Best time to drive on the Autobahn 

1. Semis are not allowed to drive on Sundays, so the roads are a lot less crowded. It’s very interesting to see the semis pulled over and stopped at all of the rest areas along the roads all day long on Sundays. (They also pull off and stop for the night most nights too). While the roads are less crowded, you will have to navigate around a ton of semis at the rest areas if you’re driving on Sundays. Even so, we found driving on Sundays to be a great time to be on the road!

2. Fridays are also very busy traffic days as commuters head home for the weekend. If at all possible, I recommend either driving earlier in the day on Fridays or not driving at all. For sure, try to arrive at your destination before afternoon/evening rush hour traffic begins, or you will be stuck in lots of staus (traffic jams) on the Autobahn.

Paying for a toilet at a German Raststatt

Bathrooms on the Autobahn

3. Bathrooms at rest areas (Autobahn Raststaette) cost 70 cents (and you often pay via a vending machine like the one pictured above!) But, on the back of your toilet ticket is a 50 cent coupon to use in the Raststatt store. You can buy one item and use all the coupons you have, so save them all if you have multiple family members using the tiolet. Kids under a certain height are free, and the bathrooms are really clean and well-maintained.

4. Bathrooms at picnic areas are free, but seriously disgusting. It’s worth the 70 cents to use the nice, clean bathrooms at the Raststatt. Otherwise, you’ll be tiptoeing around trash, hovering over nasty toilets, and skipping the sink in favor of hand sanitizer. No fun, especially with young kids.

The “rules” of the Autobahn

5. There are almost always traffic jams and the speed limit changes all the time! Traffic slows during rain, for construction, and in some urban areas, so make sure you pay attention to the speed limits. Also, expect some soft of traffic jam every time you go on the autobahn. Add a bit of extra time to your travel plans to allow for them.

6. There’s a definite system of rules on the autobahn which drivers follow with precision and predictability. Only drive in the left lane to pass, for instance, or you will make a Mercedes, BMW, or Porsche driver mad and get flashed to get over. German drivers switch lanes a lot, but always from the left. Never, ever, ever, pass anyone on the right.

7. Road rage doesn’t really seem to be much of an issue, but you will certainly get flashed if you hang out in the left lane too long. The drivers also like to honk a lot in towns. Drivers do get mad, but it seems different than the real anger I sometimes witness here in the States.

8. Pay attention to toll requirements. Autobahns are toll-free, but if you’re driving in Bavaria, it’s pretty easy to end up in Austria without realizing it. Austrian highways require stickers, called vignettes, that you have to buy at a gas station BEFORE you get on these toll roads. If you’re caught without a vignette (and there are a lot of cameras taking pictures), you’ll get a bill a few weeks later. Ask me how I know this. 😉

German Navi displays the speed limit in rental cars

Miscellaneous things to consider about driving in Germany

9. The Navigation System you can pay extra for on your rental is worth its weight in gold. The speed limit changes all. the. time. and the navigation system displays the current speed limit on on the dash. I probably don’t have to tell you this, but following the speed limit will keep you from getting tickets. 😉

10. German roads are controlled by a lot of traffic cameras, and they don’t have to let you know that like they do in the US. It’s important to go the speed limit or you might end up getting blitzed and find a speeding ticket in your mailbox.

11. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the German road signs before you go, as they are quite a lot different than the signs we have in the US. For a printable list of German road signs, head on over and print one out.

12. Finally, the word AUSFAHRT. No, it doesn’t mean a bodily function. It’s also not the name of town. Ausfahrt means EXIT (from a road – there’s a different word for an exit from a building) and you’ll see signs indicating exits all along the Autobahn.

Too see where we drove in Germany, head on over to these posts.





And that’s it, my top 12 tips for safe and fun driving in Germany. Have you driven in Germany? What did you learn from the process?

Let’s Garden! Printable Garden Planting Guide Zone 5

It’s finally spring in Eastern Iowa and the garden tasks are piling up already! Today, I’m sharing a list of what you need to be planing in your garden this month as well as a printable Garden Planting Guide for the whole season!! This printable is a great way to start a garden notebook so you can keep better track of your successes and failures in the garden.

Planting Guide

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my site.*

Welcome back to Tuesdays in the Garden! Today, we’re talking more about spring gardens – how to create beautiful flowering planters, as well as tips and garden growing tasks. For links to all the great gardening tips, read to the bottom of the post.

Printable Garden Planting Guide – Zone 5

Zone 5 encompasses most of Iowa, Nebraska, and parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado and more. It’s very important that you know your garden zone so you’re planting at the right time. If you don’t know your garden zone, make sure you find out here. Zone 5 has an average last frost date of May 15 and an average first frost date of October 15. These dates do vary from year to year and you have to pay close attention to the weather in the spring and fall if you want your garden to thrive, but make sure you know what the dates are supposed to be!

daffodils in Eastern Iowa

What’s going on in my garden

Spring has finally spring in my neck of the woods. My garlic is up and lovely, the first sprigs of asparagus are peeking through the ground, and my daffodils finally bloomed JUST YESTERDAY, even though the daffodils in town have bloomed and are done already. If you’ve heard the phrase windy prairie and wonder what the heck that means, just come on over for a visit. It’s so windy out here – it makes it much cooler than it is town.

simplifylivelove garden - early april

My garden looks like I’m growing straw this year instead of crops. I was lucky to get a huge load of free straw from my in-laws who tore down an old barn at their farm. I used it to mulch the rows of my garlic and also to mulch the whole potato patch.

I’m transitioning a large portion of my garden to raised beds this year {and they aren’t done yet…}, so I haven’t planted much yet. But the garlic I planted in the fall is up and we planted potatoes over the weekend because they aren’t going in the raised beds.

ducklings helping to plant the potatoes

There are a lot of crops you should be planting in your garden in April in Zone 5, but all I have planted so far are potatoes. With the help of pecking ducks and griping children, we planted 150 seed potatoes pieces over the weekend. I love growing potatoes using the No-Dig Method because it’s not hard. It requires only a shallow furrow and lots of mulch. I’ve been using the No-Dig method for years and it works great. If you’re growing potatoes this year, make sure you prepare your seed potatoes for planting first following these directions.

Let's Garden! Printable Garden Planting Guide Zone 5

In zone 5, you should plant these cool weather crops in April 

Cool weather plants that you should be planting now can tolerate a light frost, but warm weather plants cannot. Make sure you hold off on tomatoes and cucumbers for now.

  • Beets, from seed
  • Broccoli, seedlings
  • Cabbage, seedlings
  • Carrots, from seed
  • Cauliflower, seedlings
  • Chard, from seed
  • Kale, from seed
  • Lettuce, from seed
  • Onions, sets
  • Peas, from seed
  • Potatoes, from seed potatoes
  • Radish, from seed
  • Spinach, from seed
  • Turnips, from seed

To help you know when to plant your garden, I created a free printable for you to use. It includes spots so you can keep track of when you plant what, how many days to harvest, and when you should begin harvesting. It also lets you know what you should consider planting in succession, and how long to space out your plantings.It’s geared for Zone 5, but the planting order will work for any zone. Every garden zone starts out planting cool weather crops first, they just do so earlier {or later} in the year.

To download your copy of the Garden Planting Guide, click the link!

Start your garden notebook with this handy garden planting guide. Use it to know when to plant what, keep track of when you planted, when you should harvest, and what seed varieties you planted.

I’d love feedback on the garden planting guide, so please let me know what you think after you download and use it!!”

Tuesdays in the Garden

For more great gardening tips, check out these helpful posts from my gardening friends! From spring flowering baskets, to more helpful garden tips, we’ve got you covered!

Frugal Family Home

From Shelly@FrugalFamilyHome – Succession Planting Tips

an oregon cottage

Jami @An Oregon Cottage – Organic Garden Checklist

Homemade Food Junkie

Diane @Homemade Food Junkie – 5 Tips for Pollinator Success

Hearth & Vine

From Patti@Hearth & Vine –  5 Tips for Beautiful Hanging Flower Planters

Angie the Freckled Rose

From Angie@TheFreckledRose – 5 Tips for Creating Beautiful Window Boxes

Preparing for a Summer Road Trip to Black Hills & Badlands

We love to take educational and fun family road trips. This summer, we’re planning a big trip out to Seattle and on the way, we plan to hit a place I have wanted to visit for years –  the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota.What to see on a Summer Road Trip to Black Hills & Badlands

*This post is sponsored by the Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association and the South Dakota Department of Tourism, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.* Photo source

As we prepare for an epic summer road trip, I’m excited to share with you a few of the things we want to do in South Dakota! There are so many reasons to add the Black Hills and Badlands to your own family bucket list. Here are a few things we want to see this summer when we drive west.

Preparing for a Summer Road Trip to Black Hills & Badlands


What to see on a Summer Road Trip to Black Hills & Badlands

Photo source

Mt. Rushmore / Crazy Horse / Custer State Park

Although I’ve heard differing opinions about Mt. Rushmore, it’s one of those iconic sights you just have to see once, right?  I mean, who wouldn’t want to see stone carvings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln  and Theodore Roosevelt? I know people who have said it’s not all that impressive, but I want to see it anyway. 🙂

The Crazy Horse Memorial is also high on my list even though it’s not yet complete. I have always been fascinated by Native American history (I may have read too many romance novels in middle school) but I would really like to see The Indian Museum of North America, the Welcome Center and Native American Educational and Cultural Center at Crazy Horse too.

buffalo in south dakota

Photo source

Custer State Park is also nearby and is supposed to be a great place for animal viewing. South Dakota buffalo and crazy mountain goats are legendary and not to be missed. And, the park also claims to be home to pronghorn antelope, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, wild turkeys, and a band of friendly burros.

A Summer Road Trip to the Black Hills & Badlands

Photo source

Badlands National Park / Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway

I’ve seen the most beautiful images of Badlands National Park and really look forward to visiting this historic park in July. Hiking, nature viewing, watching the sunrise and sunset are things I really look forward to doing with my family. Checking out monuments and museums is a lot of fun, but actually getting outside in nature is also very important. With over 10,000 square miles of prairie, grasslands, and mountains, I’m sure we’ll find beautiful sights to see.

Badlands National Park South Dakota rainbow

Photo source

Biking, horseback riding, ATV rides, backpacking, hiking, and camping are just a few of the fun activities offered in the Black Hills and Badlands.

South Dakota Highway 240, otherwise known as Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway, is a 31 mile stretch of two lane highway through the Badlands National Park. It’s consistently on Top Ten lists of must roads to drive! Make sure to drive through this road for views of amazing buttes, cliffs and multi-colored spires.

I’m excited to find “My Great Space” in the wilds of South Dakota with my family. Hopefully, I’ve inspired you to do the same! South Dakota looks like an amazing place for us all to put down the electronics, and get outside to explore.

Head over to the Black Hills and Badlands website for a lot more information. Be sure to request your free vacation guide, find ready made travel itineraries, maps and more!

Preparing for a summer road trip to the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota? Here are beautiful pictures of sights & useful hints to help you prepare.

Easy & Effective Ways to Purify Your Indoor Air Quality

You might not think a lot about your indoor air quality, but did you know that indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air quality? Radon, second hand smoke, mold, and VOCs {volatile organic compounds} emitted from paints, pesticides, cleaning supplies, and furniture are often found in homes. All of these toxins when coupled with tight houses that don’t pull in enough fresh air to counter balance the dangerous emissions can be a dangerous combination.Easy & Effective Way to Purify Your Indoor Air Quality

*Many thanks to Venta Airwasher for providing product to facilitate this post. All opinions are mine. This post also contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting my site at no cost to you.*

According to the CDC, 24.6 million Americans have asthma, an increase of 4.3 million people from 2001 to 2009.  Accoridng to this 2009 study from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, poor indoor air quality contributes to the increase in asthma cases. Sadly, the number of people with asthma continues to rise.

Easy & Effective Ways to Purify Your Indoor Air Quality

Luckily, there are lots of easy and effective ways you can purify your indoor air quality. A lot of them are even free! Here’s my top 12 list for how to improve your indoor air quality.

What are you waiting for? Make simple changes today to help everyone in your family breathe easier.Add house plants to filter your indoor air

    1. Vacuum – carpets and rugs are great hiding spots for dirt, dust, pollen, and pet dander – all allergens which contribute to breathing problems and asthma.
    2. Wash your sheets regularly – dust mites are also really problematic when you sleep so make sure you wash those sheets and pillowcasee on a regular basis.
    3. Dust your house  –  I know you might not like these first three suggestions. I don’t enjoy these cleaning tasks that much either, but they do help keep your home clean and particle free, so it’s important to do each of these first three tasks to keep as many allergens out of the house as possible.  😀
    4. Include live plants in your decor – NASA research shows indoor plants can be natural air purifiers with leaves and roots working together to air pollutants.
    5. Switch to nontoxic cleaners – get rid of those artificial fragrances and toxic cleaning chemicals.
    6. Get rid of plug-in air fresheners – YUCK! I know you might think these plug-in things make your home more inviting, studies show emit 20 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including seven regulated as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws.
    7. Enforce a no-shoes policy in your home – one of the top ways pollutants come into our homes is via shoes. I know first hand how tough it can be to ask family and friends to remove their shoes, but you can make it easier by providing a bench to sit on, a basket with socks or booties, and a rug to collect any dirt that may be on their shoes as they walk in.
    8. Make your home a no-smoking home – I’m sure this goes without saying, but smoke in the home is nasty and toxic. I don’t even really need to address this, do I?
    9. Test for radon  – any home can potentially have a radon problem. Radon is a radioactive, odorless and colorless gas that increases your risk of lung cancer as it escapes from the dirt in the ground and infiltrates your house. Tests are cheap and easy and radon mitigation is very effective.
    10. Choose a builder or remodeler who understands indoor air quality if you are in the market for a new home – Unfortunately, not very many home builders study advanced building science or know that much about indoor air quality. If you’re in the market for a home or home remodeler,  do your own research and question your builder. What’s the  plan to seal your home? How does your builder plan to bring fresh air into your home and manage moisture? If you ask these questions and your builder has no answers, it might be time to find a new builder.
    11. Keep a healthy level of humidity in your home – dust mites and mold love humidity, but super low humidity dries out your skin and can cause headaches. Keeping the proper level of humidity in your home is a must!
    12. Use an air purifier – remove dust and mites,  germs, and odors to help keep your indoor air healthy.

How a Venta Air Washer Can Help Your Indoor Air Quality

Benefits of the Venta Airwasher

Not all air purifiers are equal, so when you decide to add one to your home, make sure it does what you want it to do.  Air purifiers are great because they minimize allergens, germs, and odors and can help keep dangerous toxins at bay. But they can also be a pain in the rear too. Some air purifiers are noisy, a lot of work to maintain, and use filters that are expensive to buy and mean more garbage to throw away.

venta air washer

Enter the Venta Airwasher! It’s both a purifier and a humidifier in one and it uses NO FILTERS! Developed in Germany over 30 years ago, it’s the number one air purifier in Europe and it’s also being used by NASA for the upcoming Mars missions too! I love that it’s made using green energy, from recyclable material, and that it takes very little energy to actually run this air purifier. The Venta Airwasher works by washing and trapping particles out of the air in your house. It’s another natural way to boost your immune system because it traps and removes bacteria, and it works with aromatherapy as well!

If you have headaches, dry skin, cracked lips, dry eyes, and warping wood, you might want to try out the Venta Airwasher. We have the LW 45 in charoal grey which purifies up to 800 sq ft of living space. It fits right into our decor and you don’t even really notice it.

Many thanks to Venta for sending over their amazing Airwasher. If you’d like more information, please head over to the Venta website. Feel free to leave any questions on the blog too! I’ll get you an answer if I don’t have one. 😀

Instant Pot Chicken and Rice {with Lemon & Feta Cheese}

This Instant Pot Chicken and Rice is comfort food at its finest, but the addition of fresh lemon and feta cheese {my fave} take it up just a notch. It’s easy to make and a family favorite too, so put this recipe on your weekly meal plan and give it a try.Instant Pot Chicken and Rice {with Lemon & Feta Cheese}. Ultimate comfort food from scratch

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my site at no cost to you.*

Since I raise my own meat chickens, I’m always looking for delicious ways to use bone-in chicken pieces. Bone-in breasts and thighs are the perfect choice for this recipe, because they add better flavor than boneless skinless meat, and they’re cheaper too!

I also save the bones after we eat this meal and use them with other chicken pieces (does anyone really like chicken wings or backs?) to make homemade chicken bone-broth. If you like to make your own chicken broth, this recipe also serves double duty –> two meals for the price of one! And that helps feed my family organic food for less money. SCORE!

Instant Pot Chicken and Rice {with Lemon & Feta Cheese} 

One thing that makes the Instant Pot different from a slow cooker is that you can saute right in the IP. I love that because then I’m not dirtying multiple dishes and clean-up is easier. If you don’t already have one, I recommend that you get an Instant Pot!

Instant Pot Chicken and Rice {with Lemon & Feta Cheese}Making this dish is pretty easy. Just grab your Instant Pot, and let’s get started!

Making this recipe is pretty easy. To start, you’ll brown your chicken in batches because all 4 pieces won’t fit at the same time. Then, saute veggies, also right in the Instant Pot.

I add mushrooms because I love them and also to torture my kids. LOL. Sometimes I chop them fine first to hide them, and sometimes I say screw it and just add the sliced mushrooms. If you don’t like mushrooms, feel free to leave them out, but I like them in this recipe.Instant Pot Chicken and Rice

Once the chicken and veggies are sauted, add the rice, broth, put the chicken pieces back in the IP and cook everything under pressure for 15 minutes. Immediately quick release the IP once it’s finished cooking (don’t let it switch to warm), then remove chicken, add lemon juice, feta, and parsley. After 5 minutes, fluff the rice, serve with chicken, and enjoy!

Yields 4-6 servings

Instant Pot Chicken and Rice {with Lemon & Feta Cheese}

A delicious twist on classic chicken and rice. This recipe was adapted from one I found in

15 minPrep Time

15 minCook Time

30 minTotal Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe
Recipe Image


  • 4 bone-in chicken pieces, breasts or thighs
  • REAL salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 TBS avocado oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped button mushrooms, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice, or other long-grain rice of your choice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, more if desired


  1. 1. Heat oil in Instant Pot over medium high heat until just smoking. Pat chicken dry, season with salt and pepper, and brown in batches, skin side down, about 6 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate.
  2. 2. Add onions, garlic, and mushrooms, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in rice and cook about 30 seconds. Stir in broth and sure to scrape up any browned bits off the bottom and push the rice into the liquid. Add the chicken back into the pot, skin side up.
  3. 3. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes and quick release the pressure as soon as the cooking time is over.
  4. 4. Transfer chicken to serving dish. Add the parsley, lemon juice, and feta cheese to the rice, and let stand for 5 minutes while the rice finishes cooking. Gently fluff with a fork and serve with chicken.
  5. Enjoy!


This recipe feeds my family of 6, but we split two large pieces of chicken between 4 kids. It was adapted by a recipe I found in Pressure Cooker Perfection from America's Test Kitchen .


IP chicken and rice plated

Want more healthy Instant Pot recipes?

Beef with Rigatoni

15 Recipes for the Instant Pot – breakfast, dinner, and dessert

What to do in Tübingen, Germany and the Surrounding Area

Another famous university town in Baden Württemberg, Tübingen, is a beautiful stop on a visit to Germany. Featuring one of the few completely intact old-style cities (Altstädte) as well one of the oldest universities in Central Europe, Eberhardt Karls Universität, Tubingen is well worth a visit!

Tübingen, Germany - A beautiful university town*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my site.*

Many thanks to the Tübingen Tourist Center for tickets to some of the destinations I mention in this post.

After starting in Heidelberg, Tübingen was the next stop on our recent spring break trip to Europe. Tübingen, like Heidelberg, was spared during World War II, and I was actually an exchange student there many years ago. Tübingen rivals Rothenburg in terms of beautiful old towns, honestly! I fell in love with the town during my year abroad and was excited to stop by with the kids. Who doesn’t enjoy showing off their former life to their children? I’m glad to raise my kids in the Iowa boonies, but I want them to know that it’s a great big world with a lot of possibilities too. I’d love it if one of them heads off to study in Tübingen some day.  That will give me an awesome excuse to get a little apartment and relive the glory days. <3

Tubingen, Germany. A beautiful town to visit on your vacation to Germany

Tübingen, located in a area of southwestern Germany called Swabia, is somewhat off the beaten path and isn’t even mentioned in Rick Steve’s Germany 2017 Guidebook at all. It’s about 2 hours southeast of Heidelberg, and 30 minutes south of Stuttgart. You can get there via train quite easily from Stuttgart if you don’t have a car.

We drove down for a day trip and were not in the area long enough, in my opinion. Two to three days would be the perfect amount of time to spend in the Tübingen area: one day to explore Tübingen and its museums, another day to visit Bebenhausen and Hohenzollern, and a few hours at the Rittersport Factory in Waldenbuch, especially if you have kids. 🙂 

Here’s how we spent our afternoon in Tübingen, as well as a few amazing things to do in the surrounding area!

Neckar Muller Tubingen

Neckar Müller Beer Garden

A favorite of the students and tourists, the Neckar Muller Beer Garden is very enjoyable, especially if the weather is nice and the patio is open. If you’re outside during nice weather, it’s fun to watch people in boats and the birds on the river. And beer! Ah yes, the beer. My favorites are the Helles (literal definition is “light,” pale lager beer) and the Radler (literal definition is “the Cylist,”  half beer / half lemonade). Make sure you try one if you like beer.A meal at the Neckar Muller in Tubingen GermanyWe started our day in Tübingen with a Schwäbisch lunch of Käsespätzle (cheesy noodles) and Maultaschen (sort of like pierogies). Sadly, the food didn’t really appeal to my kids, but the view of the Neckar River was beautiful and the grownups did enjoy the food. After promises of ice cream and crepes, we left the Neckar Müller, crossed the street, and headed down the stairs for a walk on the Neckar Island!

A walk on the Neckar Insel (Neckar Island) in Tubingen Germany

Take a walk on the Neckar Island (Neckarinsel)

The Neckar River (the same river that runs through Heidelberg) actually splits in two for a bit in Tübingen, forming an island in the center of town. It was a favorite hang-out-spot when I was a student there, and the kids loved it too!

exploring the Neckarinsel (neckar island) in Tubigen germany

They said chasing pigeons and swans, running,  jumping, and climbing was a highlight of their day in Tübingen. The Neckarinsel is also a great place to take in the beautiful and famous buildings on the river bank of the Altstadt.

Pedestrian tunnel to the Tubingen Altstadt

We walked the entire length of the Neckarinsel and climbed the stairs on the other side. From there we walked through the pedestrian tunnel and headed up the uneven cobblestoned streets to the Rathaus (City Hall) at the Marktplatz (Market Square).

Rathaus at Marktplatz in Tubingen Germany

Walk around the Altstadt’s uneven cobbled streets

Tübingen’s Altstadt is one of the most beautiful old cities I’ve walked through in Germany. It really is picturesque, with uneven cobblestones and buildings that reach out and almost touch each other from across the street. There are some very narrow walkways and steep inclines, so it’s not for the faint of heart. While you’re walking around the old city, you might want to stop in the Stadtmuseum Tübingen, located in the Kornhaus – a building that’s over 500 years old! We honestly did not stop in and I’m not sure if many of the exhibits, which include historical information about the area, include information in English. But the building is beautiful!

Marktplatz Tubingen GermanyA museum I think my kids would have enjoyed, specially the boy, is the Toy Museum Boxenstop. Located on Brunnenstr. behind the university building Brechtbau (where I spent a lot of time during my year abroad), the Boxenstop claims to have an impressive display of over 70 cars and 1500 different toys which everyone is encouraged to touch and feel!

sunset at the tubingen castle

Hike up to Hohentübingen Castle

Situated at the top of the Altstadt, Hohentübingen Castle is part of the University of Tübingen. It houses science faculty, museums, and beautiful views of the city below. We toured the Ancient Cultures Museum at the castle and were surprised by how much the kids enjoyed it. I didn’t think they’d like it that much, but they surprised us by really enjoying the ancient Egyptian artifacts, a prehistoric art collection, and plaster cast collection of famuos statues from classical archaeology.

Hohentubingen Castle, Tubingen Germany

Things to see within a 5-30 minute drive of Tübingen

Visit the Ritter Sport Chocolate Factory in Waldenbuch

Well, who doesn’t like Ritter Sport? My kid were thrilled when we told them we were heading the Ritter Sport Factory in Waldenbuch, a town about 25 km from Tubingen. We actually started our day there and had a great time, even though, apart from buying lots of cheap chocolate, there’s not all that much to do. We enjoyed the little museum and a movie  about the company (in English even). They also have an interactive chocolate workshop for kids (no parents allowed!) that could have been a lot of fun. You have to register in advance for that tour, and we did not, so the kids were not able to participate.

Ritter Sport Factory in Waldenbuch Germany 3

Bebenhausen Monastery

We didn’t make it here this trip, but I visited years ago when I was a student. The Bebenhausen Monastery is supposed to be one of the best-preserved Cistercian abbeys in southern Germany and was founded in 1180! It’s located in the Schönbuch nature preserve area and some of the buildings were turned into a royal hunting palace in the 19th century. At only 5 km from Tübingen, it makes a nice bike ride if you have the time and inclination!

Hohenzollern Castle

Another place I visited when I was a student is the Hohenzollern Castle, 35 km from Tübingen. It’s an easy drive or train ride away and is a beautiful castle to visit. With over 300,000 visitors a year, it’s one of the most visited castles in Germany. Hohenzollern Castle is still privately owned by the royal family and is definitely on my list of places to take the kids next time we make it to Germany.

No visit to southern Germany is complete without stopping in the Tubingen area! I hope you’ll add it to your list of must visit cities on your German vacation. 

No visit to southern Germany is complete without a visit to Tubingen., home of one of the most goregous, intact old cities in Germany. Here's what to do if you stop there and few suggestions for things to see in the surrounding area.

Easy Weeknight Salmon & Asparagus Sheet Pan Dinner #EatCleanwithBarleans #Giveaway

It’s 5:00 pm on a school night and you have no idea what to cook for dinner. Enter this easy weeknight salmon and asparagus sheet pan dinner recipe! With practically zero prep and a quick cook time, you can have a delicious and nutritious, Whole 30 approved meal on the table in about 20 minutes!

salmon asparagus sheet pan dinner on the table in 20 minutes. Whole 30 Approved

This post contains affiliate links which earn me a few pennies at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my site! 

Family selfie at the Eiffel Tower

Family selfie at the Eiffel Tower. European Springbreak 2017.

We just returned from our family springbreak vacation in Europe and I realized a couple things while we were gone. First, my body feels better than it has in a long time. I drank very little red wine while we were gone (something I did almost every night without fail before we left). I had been having quite a few headaches before we went to Germany and suspected it may be the wine.

While we were gone, I only drank wine on three separate evenings, and each morning afterwords, the headaches were back. Hmmm. Second, my joint pain (my hips and shoulders have hurt me for years!) was a lot better while we were gone which I attribute to an overall cleaner European food system. They don’t allow a lot of the additives we find in our American food. Hmmm.

That information has been swirling in my head and I’ve also been watching friends participate in lots of clean eating challenges, like the Whole 30 program. Now I’m not quite ready to jump on board with the Whole 30 thing just yet (I REALLY love yogurt and cheese), but I have been cleaning up our food which seems to have deteriorated recently.

salmon asparagus sheet pan dinner featured

When I feel better, life is just better! Is is the same for you? And that’s why I recommend that you try this recipe. With heart-healthy salmon, fresh spring vegetables, and heart-healthy flax, you will enjoy eating healthy and your body will thank you. Maybe, just maybe, it can be the push you need to start eating cleaner every day!

forti flax barlean's blogger challenge

I’m excited to partner with Barlean’s to bring you a Clean Eating Challenge and Forti-Flax & Flax Oil Giveaway. All opinions are my own.

As a Barlean’s Blogger, I was sent the following products to help with this post:

I’ve been baking with flax seeds for a long time. It’s an ingredient in my 12-grain bread, my favorite bread recipe of all times! Flax seeds are full of omega-3s, plant lignans, and fibers. They are a source of essential fats that we need to stay healthy and anti-oxidants as well. According to healthyflax.org “The Institute for Medicine recommends that men consume 1.6 grams, women 1.1 grams  and children depending on age consumer between 0.5 and 1.2 grams per day.  Two Tbsp (30 mL) of ground flaxseed provides 3.5 g of omega 3, more then twice the daily recommendation.”

Flax seed oil is delicious in homemade salad dressings, and ground flax seed is also a great addition to smoothies and yogurt bowls as well. Read to the end of the post for a giveaway and you can enter to win Forti-Flax and Flax Oil from Barlean’s! Now let’s get busy cooking this delicious meal. It won’t take long, promise!

salmon asparagus sheet pan dinner

Salmon & Asparagus Sheet Pan Dinner

To make this quick and easy meal, simply preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Blanch a pound of asparagus for four minutes, then arrange all ingredients on a sheet pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes and enjoy!

salmon asparagus sheet pan dinner

Serves 4-6 servings

Easy Weeknight Salmon & Asparagus Sheet Pan Dinner #EatCleanwithBarleans #Giveaway

5 minPrep Time

15 minCook Time

20 minTotal Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe
Recipe Image


  • 4, 6-8 ounce salmon fillets, preferably wild-caught Alaskan Sockeye Salmon
  • 1 lb fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
  • 1 lemon, half juiced, half sliced
  • 3 TBS avocado oil
  • 1 TBS Barlean's Forti-Flax ground flaxseed
  • REAL salt & pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 450. Blanch asparagus for 4 minutes in boiling water.
  2. Arrange salmon and veggies on a sheet pan (lined with unbleached parchment paper if you want super easy clean-up. Skip this step if you're cheap like me.)
  3. Drizzle avocado oil and lemon juice over fish and veggies.
  4. Top with ground flaxseed, salt, pepper, and lemon slices.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until salmon is cooked to your heart's desire.
  6. Enjoy!


This recipe feeds my family of 6, but two of my kids aren't huge salmon fans.


Enter to Win #EatCleanWithBarleans Giveaway!

The prizes are:

This giveaway is open to US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Easy Weeknight Salmon & Asparagus Sheet Pan Dinner on your table in 20 minutes! Plus, an #EatCleanwithBarleans #Giveaway!