How to Make the Best Apple Cider (It’s surprisingly simple!)

One year for Cookie Day (I’ll have to do a post about that in December), my aunt had apple cider like I’ve never tasted before or since. My sister had to know how she did it.

We were so excited to find that it used only three ingredients and was so simple that even our little brother could do it. 🙂


What you need:

  • Large Microwaveable Bowl (I use the glass Pampered Chef  Batter bowl that holds about 8 cups and has a spout for easy pouring)
  • 1 teaspoon Whole Cloves (which can be expensive but is totally worth it! I try to buy them on sale and always have some on hand so I don’t have to make a trip to the store just for that.)
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks (I use these as a straw after using them. It gives a little extra flavor to each sip and is just fun, but sometimes it’s a little annoying if it has gotten unrolled.)
  • 100% Apple Juice (about 60 oz)


Simply combine all ingredients into bowl and microwave for about 15 minutes. I think I’ve done it for as little as 10 minutes or as much as 20 and didn’t notice much difference.

Not only does this apple cider add an amazing autumn smell to the room, but it adds that wonderful sense of coziness as it provides warmth on a chilly day.

I’d love for you to share this with your favorite host. They will thank you for it! It’s such a simple way to make people feel welcome.

If you’re wanting to make changes to your wardrobe this season, check out this post about how to let go of clothes and make room for more of what you love.

2 Ideas to Help You Let Go

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.

-Raymond Lindquist

When we let go of what we have, we make room for trying new things. With travel, I loved a new adventure. I couldn’t believe how many people made no attempt to leave where they grew up, at least for a while.

But when it came to clothes, I stuck with what I’d done for years.

It does take a certain amount of courage to get rid of the familiar even when it comes to clothes. You don’t know how people you see everyday will react to your new look or if it will be a waste of time.

Learning to simplify & improve your wardrobe

But the fabulous Jenny Thompson allowed me to share this video with you guys to help you take that first step.

A couple of weeks ago, I met her in person, and we did some decluttering together. Can you imagine how much fun we had?

If you can’t see the video here, watch it on youtube. And be sure to check out her blog,, for more great videos!


On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst!), how difficult do you find it to get rid of clothes? I’d love to help make it easier!

How to Declutter with Someone Else (Yes, there is a wrong way)

Have you ever had someone “help” you declutter?

You know, when the person tells you everything you should keep and get rid. Whether it’s a family member, friend, or hired professional, it can be stressful. I know it was for me.

This post is because of all the bad experiences I’ve had with someone helping me declutter. I hope to help you avoid that trouble but also realize you don’t have to declutter to declutter with someone else (yes, there's a wrong  way)

For someone who has clutter, it can be really embarrassing and your helper can make you feel even worse. They probably have good intentions, so be sure to let them know how grateful you are for their help. Before you tackle clutter together, you both need to know what’s helpful and what’s not.

Have them read this article so you’re both on the same page. If there are parts you don’t agree with, let them know ahead of time so that you can get the most done in the time you set aside.

What Isn’t Helpful

  • Being condescending. Asking questions like, “Eww, why did you keep this?” doesn’t really make the person want to continue decluttering. It makes them associate getting rid of stuff with even more negativity because they feel stupid and guilty. However, you might hear them say something similar themselves, like: “I don’t know why I even kept this.” It’s just like how no one can talk bad about your family except you. When they bring it up, it can be a nice, lighthearted moment.
  • Saying things that make them think about why they want to keep the item. “When are you gonna use it?” makes them come up with a scenario when they might actually have a use for it. And saying their stuff is a piece of junk that no one else would want could make them want to keep it even more since no one else would take care of it and give it a home. Even if you’ve struggled with clutter, you may not know their reasons for accumulation. Keep in mind that what works for you might not work for them.
  • Telling them they need to get it cleaned up. Most likely, they’ve either already told themselves the same thing and come up with lots of excuses not to anyway. Instead, encourage them by doing some of the following.

What IS Helpful

  • Let them make the decision about what to keep and what not to keep. A big reason people don’t get rid of stuff is because they’re afraid they’ll regret it later. If you pressure them into parting with something, they may be upset with you later.
  • Instead, ask them questions to help them figure out if it’s something they want to keep. You probably have some items they’d be perfectly willing to toss.
  • Keep it fun! Don’t rush them. Help them make it a competition to see how many bags they can fill, or plan short breaks with rewards that will motivate them.
  • Offer to take the items they don’t want when you go. You can drop their stuff off at a donation center for them. It helps them see immediate results more clearly.

What would you add or take away from these lists? Leave a comment so we all can benefit from your thoughts.

Next week, I’m going to post a video from an amazing guest. She shares some helpful tips for letting go of the clutter, and she’s super sweet and fun! I can’t emphasize enough how much you don’t want to miss her. Sign up for this newsletter, and the video will be sent straight to your inbox!

If You Like to Travel, You’ve Gotta Give This a Try

I was so nervous, but I knew if I didn’t ask her then I would chicken out for the rest of the trip.

I was at a gas station in Tennessee, which isn’t far from my home state of Georgia, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. I just needed to get that first one overwith.

It was even worse because my brother was there. I knew he would be judging me. And possibly hiding from embarrassment.

Turns out she was from New York.

And I have the journal to prove it.

If you love to travel, you should make a journal like this. Here's why...

I started my traveling guest book for my road trip to Alaska. I had no idea if it would work. Would people want to take the time to sign it?

Apparently, the answer is yes! And I loved it so much that I didn’t stop once the road trip ended.

So here’s my advice on starting one yourself:

  • Find a journal. This one was given to me by a friend from college. She knows I love handwritten letters and also journaling, so this fit perfectly what I was doing. You could also use a travel journal or anything really. Just keep it cute and make it something you wouldn’t be embarrassed asking all sorts of people to sign.
  • Keep it in a waterproof bag and with a pen. I travel outdoors and in the rain so much that I have kept mine in a ziplock bag for a while. I would just hate for it to get ruined. Just a suggestion. I always keep a pen with mine, too. It just keeps things simple not to have to search for a pen every time.
  • Write/type your questions. Make sure the questions are easy to read. I wrote mine on a separate piece of paper so that they don’t have to keep flipping to the front of the journal to see the next question.

One of my questions was, “What’s another question I could add to the list?” This has led to these great additions in mine:

  1. One thing on your bucket list?
  2. Favorite quote?
  3. If you could meet anyone, who would it be? Why?
  4. What’s one thing you can’t live without?
  5. Favorite ice cream flavor?

I highly recommend having a variety of questions from easy (such as “Oceans or mountains?”) to more thought-provoking.

When I ask people to sign it, I always ask them to include their name and where they’re from. Then I tell them they can choose 3 or 4 from the list because I don’t want them to feel like they have to spend an hour on it, especially if we’re parting ways soon. But I have had people answer them all, which has been fun.

Ask questions you’d like to know the answer to. One of my favorites is, “What’s the most life-changing book you’ve read?” I’ve gotten some great reading suggestions from that!

It’s funny remembering how nervous I was to ask people to ask those first few people to sign it, but I’ve never had anyone refuse.

I have since taken it to the Grand Canyon, Thailand, and a Tiny House workshop. I love flipping through it and being reminded of such good times. My only regret is that there are so many other people I’ve met that I wish I’d gotten to sign it.

If you plan to start your own traveling guest book, I would love for you to leave a comment telling about your plans!

Also, I plan to share a few old and new entries from my traveling guest book on Periscope this week. It’ll be way easier for you to get a feel for what it’s like that way. Follow me there @mcstarbuck. Or contact me for the replay. It’s so interesting to see all the different handwriting from people around the world.