My name is Kristin. I am a blogger + photographer + DIYer + real food enthusiast on a quest for simplicity. Making simple taste good one stick of butter at a time.
How did you get started with your blog, LiveSimply.me?
In 2008, my husband and I decided to start eating “healthy.” Both of us grew up in the ’80s and ’90s–a time of Kool-Aid, freezer meals, and packaged chocolate chip cookies. Packaged food was commonplace in our homes, along with home-cooked meals. College turned both of our tastebuds toward a heavily processed diet of fast food and packaged snacks.
One evening in 2008 Dustin issued a challenge, “I bet you can’t shop, cook, and eat from just the produce department for a week.” I’m not one to turn down a good challenge so I responded, “Sure, I got this!” The next week was difficult. Beyond difficult. But, we survived. Soon we started eating from the produce department regularly and within a few weeks embraced veganism.
In 2010, the birth of my first son changed our eating habits again. Due to health issues (read his story), we introduced grass-fed meat and raw dairy into our diet, along with other nutrient-dense foods like homemade broth. I started making my own bread, yogurt, and even granola bars. My kitchen became my favorite place.
With new changes happening in the kitchen and healthier meals being served at our table, I began to dabble in making my own household products– from cleaners to makeup. I also started a backyard garden and bought chickens to help supplement our real food lifestyle.
In 2013, I started a blog called Live Simply. An online space to share my family’s journey of real food and natural living with a simplified approach. Each week I share simple real food recipes, natural DIY projects, and tips for simplifying the time spent in the kitchen and around the home.
Did you start your blog when you started your transition to live this lifestyle?
I started blogging 4-5 years after we initially started to live a real food and natural lifestyle. Our family and friends started noticing major changes in the way we lived--our health, happiness, and contentment. After many requests for a blog highlighting our lifestyle and recipes, I finally bought my domain and started writing on April 22, 2013. The blog’s look has changed a lot since that time, and a passionate hobby has become a passionate full-time job, but the focus remains the same: embracing the simplicity of real food and natural living.
Have you always been this way?
Dustin and I both grew up in your “average” ‘80s and ‘90s household--processed food, big hair, and tie-dyed shirts. We didn’t realize the impact a processed food lifestyle was having on our overall health until we were adults and finally made the switch to real food after watching and reading documentaries, like Food INC.
What sparked your passion to live this healthy lifestyle?
Having our first child made us stop and think about the food and lifestyle choices we were making! Children have a way of changing a lot of things--for the better--including a family’s diet and way of life. Thank you, Piper, Mom and Dad are forever grateful!
What are some of the other things you would like to have other people understand about living a healthier and self-sufficient lifestyle?
My desire is for others to see this lifestyle as a doable choice that’s not some elitist status or form of deprivation. I also want others to know that this lifestyle doesn’t need to be complicated. Small changes over time lead to a doable, long-term lifestyle! That’s our focus on Live Simply, which is inspired by the changes we’ve made (and continue to make) in our own home and family.
What tips and tricks could you share with other people?
Start small! One of my biggest lifestyle mistakes was tackling everything at one time on a grand scale.
I wanted to start a garden, so naturally, I decided to turn half our backyard into an edible landscape. This didn’t fare so well (thanks in part to Florida--heat and bugs) and that year we lost a ton of money and almost gave up.
The next year we started small with just a few basic crops. We experienced great success. Each year we continue to add to our small garden. Small changes lead to a doable, long-term lifestyle!! This example can be carried through into making homemade products and real food--all of which we teach on the blog. This is what simple real food and natural living are all about!
Have you ever made mistakes or failed doing something?
Oh yes! Many times. Failure just means finding new ways to get something accomplished (a garden, a homemade product, a “picky” eater and spinach, etc). That’s the approach I take with this lifestyle. It’s not about perfection--this is a journey! My favorite quote, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Thomas Edison
How did you overcome any obstacles?
After a “failure” I sit down and brainstorm alternatives. For example: My son (5 years old) is not a green veggie lover. Instead of throwing my arms up in frustration, I sat down and brainstormed ways to foster his love for green veggies. In the last year, we’ve encouraged him to plant a veggie garden, help make dinner with his own kid-friendly knife/tool set (including salads), given him a farmer’s market allowance, and created a veggie bingo game (the free printable is on the blog: http://livesimply.me/2015/06/23/get-your-kids-to-love-veggies-the-live-simply-fruit-and-veggie-bingo-game/!), and created a green smoothie he loves with a special name “The Hulkbuster” (recipe: http://livesimply.me/2015/04/21/kid-friendly-green-smoothie-aka-the-hulkbuster/). Slowly, he’s warming up to the whole green veggie thing--slowly, but surely!
Have you ever dealt with a person who disregards your lifestyle?
Yes, many people are skeptical of our choices. But we don’t shove our lifestyle in anyone’s face, which usually leads to more interest, “Wait! You don’t shop for most of your food at the big conventional store down the street?? Where do you buy food?” This interest usually turns into great discussions about our lifestyle.
What are some of your greatest rewards with a lifestyle such as the one you live?
One of my greatest rewards is watching my children understand that food doesn’t instantly come from the store (for example: a package of cookies). My oldest regularly asks, “How do you make ____, Mom?” They understand, by example, that food is something we “do” together--whether this means growing, shopping, sourcing, or making homemade meals. What a counterculture idea for young people! An idea that will hopefully reshape our food system in the future and get people back to “the basics.”
Another reward is watching our lifestyle influence family, friends, and readers. This may look like family coming over for dinner and discovering the joy and goodness of a home-cooked meal with fresh food. Or this may look like a friend or reader seeking an alternative to store-bought laundry soap and knowing we will probably have a tried-and-true answer for him/her, which we do!
Finally, the greatest reward has been watching the health and contentment of my family! This lifestyle has helped us re-evaluate the importance of slowing down and connecting as a family--something food allows us to do so beautifully! I know the memories we share around our small backyard garden and table will be cherished for a long time!
What are some of your most favorite things to plant in your garden?
- Green beans
- Herbs--my absolute favorite and a huge money-saver for me. Cilantro, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and basil
- Carrots (although my patience is often lacking for this homegrown veggie)
- Pineapple - we replant the tops and have enjoyed a few pineapples over the years from the replants
- Lettuce (all varieties)