Final Day to Enjoy 20% Discount on Melt: Massage For Couples

Here’s your friendly reminder that today is the final day our friends at Couples Massage Courses is offering their 20% discount on their Melt: Massage for Couples video series. Read my review on this video series here. Enjoy the discount and the special time it creates for you and your spouse!

melt

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Getting College Credits (Dual Credits) For Your High School Student

For those who are in the diaper stage with your babes, just tuck this post away for a few years from now – which really will be the day after tomorrow. Trust me on this one. My kids were going to be seven and under forever. I had it all worked out. And then, without asking, our oldest turned 18 and graduated high school. Who does he think he is? ;)

Helping Your High School Student Get College Credits (Dual Credits)

Because several have asked about homeschooling through high school, I wanted to share one of the best tips we’ve learned so far. Whether you home, private, or public school your kids – I encourage you to check out college class options for your high schooler. Dual credits rock!!

First, what is a dual credit? It’s this magical thing that means your child can take a college class during high school and get both a high school credit for it and a college credit – at the same time. It is marvelous, saves time, saves money, and saves kids from taking a biology class twice if in fact biology is not their favorite sport.

Our family has learned and continues to learn about this through trial and error. We originally started our oldest son as a junior in high school in one college class (Basic Speech) for three reasons:

1) It’s a little bit hard to do a speech class as a home schooler. Not impossible – just challenging since he had a class size of one.
2) We wanted to ease our home schooler into a classroom to prepare him for full time college days.
3) We’d seen other home school families put their high school kids in a college class or two during high school and we liked that they ended up getting some college credits out of the way. It looked like a good idea.

Twenty-four college credits by high school graduation with our oldest son later, I have this to say: Good idea, nothin’. Getting dual credits is a great idea. Fantastic. Marvelous. Wonderful.

See, here’s the thing: Many of the classes our kids take in high school they end up taking again their first two years of college. (Science, Math, English, History, etc.) This can be good. Some kids need to take them twice. There is no one-size-fits-all plan. But after experiencing so many positive results from pursuing dual credits with our oldest, we have decided that if it is possible, our other kids can also knock out quite a few college gen-eds out of the way while they are in high school.

How to go about getting dual credits for your high school student

If your child is in a public or private school, it is likely that the school provides some options for upperclassmen to take classes which give them college credit. Check and see!

For homeschoolers – you’ll have to see what college options are available in your area. Here’s what we did:

1. Our local college offers high school students the option of taking one class per semester at a 75% discount. Yes please! During his junior and senior years of high school, Asa took four semesters of on-campus classes (Speech, Psychology, and American History 1 and 2).

2. His senior year, he wanted to get more credits checked off the list. Since we’d maxed out the “one class per semester at a discount” at our local college, we signed him up for two classes per semester online through a Nebraska community college (English Comp 1 and 2, Human Biology, and Business Technology).

Phew! These classes were tough!! Especially the online classes. We don’t regret doing this, and Asa is so thankful to have these classes out of the way – but college level courses aren’t a cake walk. Asa had to work his tail off, and found that the online classes were extremely intense since there was no classroom instruction and because there were many, many deadlines to meet each semester.

Because we transitioned Asa into college classes while he was still at home, not only did he save almost an entire year’s worth of college tuition – we are much more confident that Asa is prepared to tackle full time college work while living on campus. We are so grateful that God led us to work toward dual credits for him.

Taking what we learned while doing this with Asa, our second son Justus (who will be a sophomore in high school) will begin his first college course this fall. And so it begins with son number two. Hold me.

Any questions? (Not that I’ll be able to answer them.) Other moms of high schoolers: what has your experience been with dual credits?

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Using Our Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel to make Spicy Mac and Cheese

Allow me to introduce you to one of the easiest meals and most delicious comfort foods around:

Spicy Mac and Cheese

Remember the Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel Dip recipe I posted a few days ago? You need to make that today. I’m only bossing you around because when it comes to that dip – I know best, I’m right, and that dip will change your life. It’s a proven fact.

Then here’s what you do: You either eat that dip with chips because that’s what we do with dip. Or – you boil 16 ounces of pasta, drain off the water, then stir this dip into your noodles for the most delicious Mac and Cheese with a kick. The most delicious.

My kids, my kids’ friends, all the adults -we all love this dish. I love that it’s super easy, flavorful – and all real food.

A little hint: Double the dip recipe. Eat it one day as a dip. Put the leftovers in the fridge. A day or two later, boil noodles and stir in the leftover sauce for an oh-so-easy meal to throw on the table. (With fruits and vegetables. This is a given.)

I used whole wheat noodles (my favorite kind) and I’m sure brown rice noodles would work great too.

Spicy Mac and Cheese Recipe

This Dip
16 ounces of your favorite pasta

Make the dip as directed. Boil and drain pasta according to package. Stir sauce into cooked and drained pasta. 

Spicy Mac and Cheese 3

Now go make the dip! Then watch as life as you know it improves for the better – one bite at a time.

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Enjoy the FREE Gift of a 32 Ounce Jar of Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions This Weekend!

I love it when Tropical Traditions offers this! It’s a 4th of July special…pretty much the best one of the year. We can all put a 32-ounce jar of Organic Gold Label Coconut Oil – the best of the best (seriously, my favorite of all coconut oils) – into our cart at a price of $0.00. (Click here then scroll down to find it and put it into your cart.

coconut_oil

Here’s the nitty-gritty: We have to pay shipping on our order, and they require a minimum purchase of $19.00. This is fair, plus it means that we can choose some additional goodies for our family while we enjoy our big free jar of oil!

Here are some great sales they are running alongside the freebie that you might want to consider to achieve your $19 minimum:

Organic Palm Shortening is on sale 45% off! I use this stuff like crazy. I’m grabbing a bucket to go with my free oil.

palm_shortening

Organic Gold Label Coconut Oil (just like the free one above) is Buy-One-Get-One-Free. So pretty much I’m getting three jars of this oil in my order and only paying for one. (Although never would I actually pay $40 for one jar of their oil. I don’t care how great it is. I wait for it to go on sale – every time. This is the best sale I’ll come across. I’m taking advantage!)

tropical traditions coconut oil 2

Pure Coconut Oil (one of their odorless, flavorless varieties) is on sale Buy-TWO-Get-TWO-Free. This is an awesome deal. I’m not getting any this time because I’m well stocked up on this variety, but I wanted to be sure and point it out in case you need some. That’s a great price per jar ($11.25 each).

Tropical Traditions Pure Coconut Oil

If you don’t need additional coconut oil or palm shortening along with your free jar of oil – here’s a hint to keep your shipping costs lower:

Order some soap. I super love their Coconut Oil Soaps. This is the only kind I use and the only kind our son Malachi (who has very sensitive skin) uses. He even uses it to wash his hair.

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Anyway, their soaps are wonderful and don’t weigh much. This keeps shipping costs lower if you want to simply add some of those to your cart along with the FREE coconut oil to reach your cart minimum.

And if you just can’t find anything else to get, and you want to keep your shipping costs low – order some chocolate. It’s for a good cause. :)

BONUS: If you are a brand new customer with Tropical Traditions and you click through the referral links in this post – along with your free jar of coconut oil, you’ll receive a free  Virgin Coconut Oil Book with your order.

These offers are good through Sunday, July 5.

Go grab your free coconut oil! Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

This post contains referral links.

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Low Sugar Sunshine Cake

sunshine cake 12

I don’t know if you know this about me or not since I hardly ever mention it or at the very least I haven’t said it in the past five minutes – but here it is: I LOVE SUNSHINE!!! I have decided that I need large doses of vitamin D in order to avoid all kinds of conditions and disorders. Bring on the hot, bright, beautiful days of summer!

My love of sunshine along with my love for this cake led me to call this recipe Sunshine Cake. Indeed, that’s exactly what this tastes like: a delicious drop of sunshine.

What does sunshine taste like, you ask? Well, it tastes like this cake. Do I need to keep explaining this?

If you can possibly believe it, I think I like this cake even better than the Low Sugar Super Moist Chocolate Cake – and we all know that I love that cake almost as much as I love sunshine.

Just like the chocolate cake, two key players in this recipe are whole wheat pastry flour and sour cream. The pastry flour helps this cake remain light, and the sour cream keeps it moist. But let’s not forget the Cream Cheese Frosting. It goes without saying that Cream Cheese Frosting makes everything in life better. Even cloudy days with no sunshine.

Low Sugar Sunshine Cake

2 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sucanat or sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add milk, sour cream, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla. Mix with beaters until smooth. Pour into a buttered 9×13 cake pan. Bake in a 350° oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Stevia-Sweetened Cream Cheese Frosting

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons softened butter
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Liquid stevia to taste (I use about 20 drops)

In a large bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add softened butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and stevia – whipping until well combined and smooth. Spread over cooled cake. Store in refrigerator.

If you prefer, here’s a slightly sweeter but still not too sugary frosting option:

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces softened cream cheese
¼ cup softened butter
3-4 Tablespoons real maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

With a hand mixer (or in your blender), whip together all ingredients until smooth. Spread over cooled cake.

Low Sugar Sunshine Cake

Tell me which Low Sugar recipes you’ve tried so far. Which are your favorite? Are you a chocolate or a vanilla kinda friend?

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Have FUN With Your Spouse and The “For Married Couples Only” Gift That Keeps on Giving

You know what I gave Matt for Father’s Day this year? New seat covers for his truck. What? His driver’s seat was coming apart so badly that the stuffing was pulling out every time he stepped out of his truck.

Do I know how to give a practical gift or what?

C’mon. I know I’m not the only practical one around here. You all are frugal minded, practical thinkers like me right? But we doooooo like to have fun, yes?

Having fun with our spouse is so important. (I’m not just talking about that kind of fun. I mean I am. But there’s also stuff like board games and inside jokes about peanut butter. As you can see, I’m one big party.)

The longer I’ve been married and the older our kids get – I’ve gotta tell you – I’ve found it to be a little bit harder to cut loose and have fun. (What can I say? Their needs and schedules take up a lot of my time and energy. And also, I often fall asleep before our teenage boys go to bed. ‘Nuff said.)

I’ve recently been really struck with recognizing the importance of having fun with Matt in front of our kids. They need to see that married fun is THE BEST. I want them to look forward to married fun and know that it never ends.

So, fun with my spouse while the kids are around:

  • I flirt with him. It’s all in the eyes…and eye brows. Or something like that.
  • We laugh at inside jokes and the kids have no idea why we are laughing. (Obviously, every time we do this they think we are the coolest adults ever and they are so proud to call us their parents.)
  • We let the kids catch us kissing.
  • I throw my legs over onto Matt’s lap while we’re all sitting in the living room for family prayer time or to watch a movie. It’s all appropriate – and the kids need to know that we dig each other and like to snuggle even though we’re really old and have been married for a really long time.

And now let’s just briefly (and quietly) talk about fun with the spouse while the kids aren’t around.

Aside from the times we find to leave the kids at home while we go for a walk together, alone time pretty much has to be scheduled in these days since I typically stop accurately finishing sentences at 9:30 and then become comatose by 10:00 at night while my kids are saying, “Really, Mom? You’re tired already?” (If we could only tuck them in with a kiss at 8:30 like we used to. Crazy, energetic, awake teenagers.)

So quiet, alone time with Matt is harder to come by but is more important than ever at this stage is our lives. We need it. The kids need to know we need it. And while the kids mean the world to us – our marriage means even more.

Therefore, we schedule alone time together – at home if at all possible. Let me tell you something. We don’t need a restaurant. We don’t want a movie. We don’t need to go anywhere we might have to share our alone time with other people. We’re selfish like that. (Or smart. Take your pick.) Maybe when we’re empty-nesters we’ll choose to go where the people are for special outings. Right now, while the alone time is rare, we jump at a chance to look at and talk to no one but each other.

No matter how old your kids are, I’m guessing maybe you can relate.

So can I tell you one of the neatest blessings we’ve happened upon recently? We received a gift of Melt: Massage Video Series a few months ago. Normally I wouldn’t look twice at something like this. Lessons in massage? Eh. Matt has always done a great job rubbing my tight muscles and treating me to a loving back rub.

But you know what? These videos have been a wonderful gift for our marriage and our alone time together. When I think about how much money we haven’t spent on “going out” on dates – I believe the investment in this series quickly pays for itself and truly becomes the gift that keeps on giving.

melt

No need to question the appropriateness of these videos. While I do only recommend these for married couples – simply because loving massages like this are intimate – these are very tastefully done. They are created by a professional and simply teach great massage techniques. They have offered some very special moments for us in our alone time.

Better yet? We’ve been able to take what we’ve learned from this series and enjoy the treat of a massage without the benefit of scheduling it in. This series has taught a 30 minute, a 15 minute, and even a 5 minute massage! How about that? Perfect for busy (and tired) parents who want to spend time loving on each other whenever they can find a spare moment.

Consider looking into this lovely resource. Our friends at Melt know that you appreciate a deal – because I told them that you did. :) Frugal and practical – that’s who we are here at Heavenly Homemakers, right? So for six days only, they are offering us a 20% discount on their Melt: Massage for Couples Video series.

Click here to learn all the details. You’ll even find some fun freebies there while you’re at it. Then you’ll be well on your way to massage wonderfulness.

I dare say, while Matt is really enjoying his Father’s Day truck seat covers, he appreciates even more when I tear myself away from all my other responsibilities (I’m talking to you – busy teenagers) and take the time to focus all my attention on him. I’d love to hear how you and your spouse find alone time to spend together during this season in your lives.

This post is sponsored by Couples Massage Courses. It is a pleasure to work with them and learn from them.

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Make Pizza Boats on the Grill ~ Fast and Easy!

Ever since I became a big girl and learned how to turn on our grill, a whole new world of summertime food opened up to me. I think I turned 38 that summer. I had always left certain tasks like that up to my husband – things like installing our window air conditioners, getting the oil changed in our car, and grilling meat.

Then one day I was like, dude it sure would be nice to get dinner cooked instead of waiting for Matt to get home and grill the meat. (The deep thoughts of a hungry 38 year old…)

So I prepared myself for a detailed lesson in propane and matches and safety and how to avoid setting the house on fire. Then Matt got home and showed me how to simultaneously turn a knob and push a button. Four seconds later, the grill was aflame.

Hmmm, thought I. I probably could have even learned that when I was as young as 37.

Don’t tease. Need I remind those of you who have been operating a grill since adolescence that some of us experienced trauma at age 17 which may or may not have involved a fire and the total destruction of a huge barn on my family’s property? Some of us have hated fire for a very, very long time. Some of us might have equated lighting a grill to lighting a barn on fire and watching it smolder for three to fourteen days. Some of us.

So now I’m 41 (and three quarters) and the grill is my best friend in the summertime. In my 3 years of grilling experience, I have not burned anything down – not our house, not someone else’s house, not even a barn.

Regarding food of many kinds: if I can grill it, I do. If I’ve never seen it grilled before, I try it. Anything to avoid turning on the oven on a hot day. Plus, grilled food is fun and special and it feels like a big deal to say, “we’re grilling chicken tonight” instead of simply saying, “we’re having chicken.” Right? Can’t you hear the difference?

So enter: Grilled Pizza Boats

Making pizza on the grill (the regular crust kind) is quite doable and very yummy. You can learn how to do that here. But that is a bit time sensitive and laborious (woe is me) so I rarely go to the trouble. Pizza Boats, however? Well this is absolutely too easy.

Make a Quick Meal of Pizza Boats - On the Grill!

How to Make a Pizza Boat

Slice a loaf of French or Italian bread in half the long way (you know, like a boat). Top each half with your favorite pizza goodies. Bake in a 350° oven or on the grill until the cheese is melted (about 10 minutes).

It’s as easy as that.

In fact, it’s one of the easiest meals there is. Slice the pizza boats and serve them with salad and fresh fruit.

And then I just have to say it: Be sure you turn off your grill. I refuse to be the one responsible for any other fires, large or small. I’ve met my quota.

What are your favorite foods to grill?

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How About That? God Really Does Work Everything Out.

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Remember this post? You know, that one post I wrote last September? The one where I shared this:

I hate to spoil the ending...

The one where I talked about how we had no idea how everything would work out for our oldest son at the end of the school year? How we didn’t have any idea what would be best for him? How if he chose college, which one would it be and how would we work that out financially? How there were so many unknowns and what ifs and major decisions to make?

And more importantly, the one where I shared that God was teaching me to trust – like for real.

Last school year was wonderful and exhausting in countless ways. In the midst of it, we knew God had a plan and would roll it out for us in His timing. But when I wrote this post, we had no idea how the story would end. I just knew that it would…end. And that the ending would be good because God was writing the story.

In the midst of the waiting (we all know what that’s like, right? no matter what it is we’re waiting for) – our minds can turn toward all kinds of doubt and worry. We can invent scenarios that may or may not happen and then create all sorts of responses to the made up scenarios.

Unless any of those thoughts are Spirit led, they are absolutely pointless and completely exhausting. When I look back on our school year and how we watched our son learn to listen to God as he made his decisions, I am…

1) Really glad it’s behind us because it was just hard. Good, but hard.
2) So excited to realize God’s absolute promises and His guidance in everything. Everything. All of it. Every single bit.

We should never doubt. Never, ever, ever.

Not sure about an employment situation looming in your future? God does. Wait for Him to show you. Listen to Him and trust.

Not sure about a decision you’re making about parenting? God does. Wait for Him to show you. Listen to Him and trust.

Not sure how you can possibly afford whatever that need is that there is no money for?  God knows. Wait for Him to show you. Listen to Him and trust.

Not sure what to do about forty different questions floating in your head about everything from little to big? God does. Wait for Him to show you. Listen to Him and trust.

God never asked us to get it all figured out. He only asked for our faith. If you don’t believe me, go read all the words of Jesus in the gospels. All of them. They will change your life.

And oh yeah – about this post. The one where I wrote about how we had no idea how the story would end, about what would be best, about how we would survive such a major change in our lives (yeah, I know, all the parents do it, but it’s hard and that’s just the truth). Go back and read this.

Then. Then read this one. Seven months after I wrote the “we have no idea” post – I was blessed to be able to write the “well look at that. now we know” post.

There is always an ending to the story. If we’re seeking God, the ending is beautiful. If we’re not, well, God can still work and God is always lovingly waiting for us to turn to Him.

I write this as a reminder. To you – to me. Trust God. Where there are question marks, trust God. There will always be question marks. But there will always be answers because God is God and He is faithful. And because of that, there can always be peace.

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Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel Recipe

Real Food Velveeta and Rotel Dip

To be clear, this recipe does not include Velveeta as one can not use the words “real food” and “velveeta” in the same recipe and be telling the truth. In addition, this is not a recipe for Velveeta. I refuse to experiment to come up with a way to make a cheese product that has a shelf life.

But. As many of you know, I have a ridiculous love for the completely nasty and absolutely delicious Velveeta Rotel Dip that I grew up on as a kid. You may remember that I wrote a love letter to Velveeta a few years ago and bid her farewell as I created a tasty dip to replace her. Sure enough, we make that dip frequently at our house as it is super easy, all real food, and absolutely yummy.

But. That recipe, as good as it is, is still not the same as the Velveeta Rotel Dip I crave. That is why (and I’m not proud of this) sometimes I put a $6 log of boxed cheese product (otherwise known as Velveeta) into my cart along with 2 cans of Rotel and I bring it home and I melt it together and I eat it even though it is terribly terrible and truthfully it doesn’t even taste as good to me as it used to because of that whole real food thing I’m into now which has made all bad foods taste like chemicals on a tortilla chip.

So what is my problem?

Problem? I don’t have a problem.

Okay fine. Whatever. I have a problem.

And also? When did fake cheese become so expensive? You’d think that would deter me from buying it. But as I said, I have a problem.

It was either time to begin a Velveeta support group or get back in the kitchen to try my hand at another dip recipe since I’ve only tried like seventeen other times and posted like five other cheese dip recipes through the years and may have to rename this website to cheesediprecipesforaddicts.com with the tag line “All Cheese Dip Recipes, All the Time.”

A support group was out of the question because it is my understanding that they don’t serve chip dip at those meetings. So here we are again, back in the kitchen for another attempt at a real food version of my beloved dip.

You guys. I think I nailed it this time. And I mean that with all the humility and sweetness possible, but hey guess what? I just made the best chip dip ever!!! 

So here’s how this dip becomes amazing. Two things:

  1. We must make a cheese sauce for this to work. This requires butter and corn starch and actual cheese. Relax. It’s not as hard as it sounds.
  2. We must use actual Rotel or an off brand of “diced tomatoes and green chilies. Salsa isn’t the same. Thankfully, Rotel is still a real food – read the ingredient label and rejoice.

Note: My wonderful grass-fed beef produces the perfect amount of fat so I never have to drain off grease. In order to make a sauce, one must have fat or grease to work with. That’s why my recipe includes butter. Depending on what meat you have, I recommend either skipping the butter (if your meat has some grease to work with) or draining the grease and adding the butter or using your grease with some butter. Just so you have about 4 Tablespoons of fat to work with, you’re golden.

Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel Dip Recipe

1 pound hamburger meat
2-4 Tablespoons butter
2 heaping Tablespoons corn starch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon chili powder
sea salt to taste
2 cups heavy cream
10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
1-2 cups shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese

Brown the hamburger meat in a large pot. Add butter to the meat, melting it throughout the pot. Sprinkle in corn starch, coating the meat. Pour in water, chili powder, and salt. Turn heat up and stir until the mixture thickens. Add cream, continuing to stir as the mixture thickens. (This all happens quickly in my experience.) Stir in Rotel, heating for about 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. Add shredded cheese, stirring until the cheese has melted and the dip is smooth.

If you don’t remove your sauce before adding cheese, your cheese will end up funky and not smooth and creamy. You’ve been warned, so don’t add your cheese while your pot is still on the stove, then email me and ask why your cheese got funky. Not that anyone would ever do that.

Real Food Velveeta and Rotel Recipe

If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen eating another bowl of my homemade not velveeta but way better than velveeta because it’s real food Chip Dip.

Who wants to come join me? I need to know who loves this dip as much as me. Admit it. Join my support group – the one where there IS CHIP DIP AT THE MEETINGS because my support group meetings rock and we support one another by eating dip.

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