Gratituesday: Restarting With the Newsboys

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One of our family’s favorite Christian bands is Newsboys.  Elias got their latest album for Christmas last year, and wouldn’t you know it?  The title of the album is Restart.  Have you heard this song?  It fits perfectly with our plans to Hit the Restart Button, right?

These song lyrics are great.  The Truth is that no matter what, God can and will always hit the restart button in our lives at just the right time.  He knows what we need.  He knows what is best.  He knows. 

I love that He is so gentle.  I trust Him.  A fresh start with Jesus is just what we need.

What are you thankful for this Gratituesday?  Leave a comment to share!

15% Off Wholesome Sweeteners Coupon

This is a fun one!  Amazon is offering a Wholesome Sweeteners Coupon good for 15% off their huge line of organic sugar products.  Pair that with Amazon Prime/Amazon Mom subscribe and save 20% discount – and we’re talking some great prices on great items

Is this perfect since we’re all in the mood for fall baking?  Yes, I think so.  :)

Just so you know, I’m not a big fan of Wholesome Sweeteners brand of Sucanat.  Bummer, I know.  I think it tastes too strong.  (I like Rapunzel brand best.)

Instead, I used this coupon to get a case of 10 boxes of Muscovado Sugar.

muscovado

After all my discounts, this case only cost me $19.42.  I use this type of sugar just like brown sugar.  It’s a very wholesome and unprocessed form of sugar, much like sucanat but more finely ground.  (It’s still sugar though, obviously, so do not get a spoon and eat it directly from the box.)

Find more Amazon Deals here.  Read more about how I get 20% off subscribe and save items by using Amazon Prime/Amazon Mom.  So many great ways to save money on natural groceries!

This post contains affiliate links.

We’re Hitting Restart – But Before We Do…

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Thank you all for joining me in hitting the restart button this fall.  It’s going to be so much fun to settle into the season together!  But first, let’s chat…

Once we decide to hit the restart button on our lives, it can be way too easy to get pumped up to jump right into every single bit of every single thing we hope and dream to be and to do – all at the same time.  We know changes need to be made, we greatly desire to offer the best to our families, and we’re tired of not quite hitting the mark.

Before we know it, we’ve made a vow to daily scrub our floor boards, have no less than 28 casseroles in the freezer at all times, and never, ever raise our voice to our children again.  We’ve decided to get back into smaller jeans by Thursday, sleep 8.5 hours every night, and hand-craft all Christmas and birthday gifts with recycled materials.  Because we feel that we can certainly accomplish all this and then some, in an effort to be everything we can possibly be for our families, we eagerly sign ourselves up for yodeling classes.

yodel 1

Clearly, once we all master the art of yodeling, we will have arrived.  Clearly.

You know how this works right?  We hit the restart button and then start restarting everything at once.  Very soon, we get overwhelmed with it all, end up hating every bit of it, succeed at nothing, and hang our heads all the way to the fast food drive-thru four nights in a row.

Deciding to do too much and thinking you can actually pull it off is just…too much.

You can’t put 28 casseroles in the freezer and then sleep 8.5 hours that night so stop thinking you can.  Smaller jeans aren’t the be all and end all, so stop focusing on that and simply work to nourish your body better.   Nobody wants an earring holder made from a toilet paper tube, so if handcrafted recycled gifts aren’t your thing, please do not try to make it your thing.

Am I making sense?  Do you know what I’m saying?  (Am I the only one who dislikes being asked that?)  YouknowwhatImean?  Yeah, Iknowwhatyoumean.  (expressed in my best yodel)

yodel 2

Be reasonable.  You have my full permission to be very eager to make positive changes for your health and for the health of your family!  I highly encourage it.  But be real and be wise.  Changes in our lives need to be God inspired, not self inspired.  The quickest way to feel defeated is to forget the Source of our strength, and the Purpose behind our choices.  Success is determined not by all we accomplish in a day, but by the peace we experience through choosing God’s best for our lives.

I’m hitting the restart button because I need it – mind, body, and soul.  I look forward to learning what God plans to teach you and me during this season.

I like clean floorboards, but I like peace and joy more.  I like healthy food in my freezer, but I like listening to God more.  I like making handcrafted recycled gifts, but no I don’t, who am I even kidding, youknowwhatImean?

So what I’m trying to say is, do you really need to sign up for yodeling classes?  Or be a part of another program?  Or set 14 new goals for yourself?  Or strive to be what you think everyone else thinks you should be?  I haven’t scrubbed my floorboards since #*&$hc&s#*  <—- dropped call static

(Can you hear me now?)

Make goals based on what God is calling you to be.  Improve in areas that bless your family.  Hit that restart button in an effort to glorify God.  Won’t it be lovely to see what He works out in you through your open heart?

yodel 3

She yodels and she dresses her children in homemade matching outfits. 
As if that isn’t enough, they flit, they float, and bid us all adieu in perfect four part harmony.

Unless God has clearly called you to be a yodeler, then by all means, I don’t know how to even finish that sentence.  Just join me in simplicity, will you?  Join me in making prayerful decisions about God’s purpose for you.  Join me in hitting the restart button that offers something better for our families in the form of peace and joy.

All the rest – the healthy eating, the exercise, the organization, and the clean house – it will all fall into place.

I so totally love this platform.  I love that so many of you hang out with me here each day.  Thank you, my dear readers, for being such an inspiration to me and to all the others here.  Here’s to a fantastic month of prayerfully hitting the restart button together!

P.S. If any of you can actually yodel, I have to know.

Menu Plan for the Week and Our Weekend Adventures

What do you do when you have tomatoes and green beans taking over your garden, peppers and squash all over your counter-tops, tons of website work you’re behind on, school books scattered all of the living room and kitchen, dirty dishes piled up, and laundry you can’t keep up with?  You ditch it all and take a trip to Kansas, that’s what.

The deal is, there’s never really a good time to get away.  This time of year seems even more difficult with garden produce demanding such immediate attention.  But hey, if you don’t just make it happen, you’ll never get around to it.  And that is why, when we found exactly one free (ha!) day in our schedule that was close to my dad’s 65th birthday, we made a quick trip south to celebrate.  I’m so glad we did!

One of the gifts we gave my dad was Matt’s announcement of, “We have a few hours before the birthday party tonight.  What can the boys and I do around here to help?”  I, on the other hand, had already made plans to visit my good friend Amy (from The Finer Things in Life).  I got to hold her newborn while we talked a mile a minute trying to catch up.  Upon arriving back at my dad’s place two hours later, this is what I found:

Matt…leaning over the side of the roof of the car port, holding none other than a margarine tub (full of paint).

kansas trip 3

Asa…standing on – um, what do you call this? – tractor with boards lifting him into the air so he could paint the front of the car port.

kansas trip 2

Justus and Elias…on the other side of the car port, sitting/walking on the roof and painting.

kansas trip 4

Apparently Malachi had already done his part, and was (safely) inside the house helping Grandma Tacy get lunch put together.  Ah, life on the farm.  I think the boys all enjoyed themselves very much.

After lunch, Malachi took me for a drive in Papa’s golf cart.  I promise I really am smiling in the picture below.  It was a selfie, the sun was in my eyes, and I wasn’t at all nervous with my nine year old’s foot on the gas pedal.

kansas trip 1

Ain’t she purty?

It was a fantastic time to be with family.  The birthday party was fun, the cousins loved their time together, and we arrived home after midnight in time to catch some Z’s before getting up the next day and send our older boys off to a church youth event.

What have we been doing with all the tomatoes from our garden?  Well, this time, I made a batch of Homemade Tomato Soup.  I left some room at the top of each jar to allow for expansion as I put them into the freezer to have this winter.

Tomato Soup for the Freezer

Ain’t she purty?

No more traveling for our family for a while now – phew!  We’re hitting Restart – and we hope you’ll be joining us!  Settling into a routine (of some sort) sounds fantastic and refreshing.

Here’s what our menu looks like for the week:

Sunday, August 31
Blueberry streusel muffins, applesauce
Lunch at friend’s house: Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, carrots
Creamy mac and cheese, tossed salad, peas

Monday, September 1
Cheesy scrambled eggs, creamy orange cooler
Hamburger patties, honey glazed carrots, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers
Black bean chicken nachos with lettuce and tomatoes, olives, watermelon

Tuesday, September 2
Oatmeal breakfast bars, peaches
Bacon, egg, and avocado salad, toast, apples
Grilled barbeque chicken, green beans, fried okra, watermelon

Wednesday, September 3
Crepes with cream cheese filling, blueberries, strawberries
Salmon patties, potato wedges, green beans, honey dew melon
Taco salad, cucumbers

Thursday, September 4
Banana bread, fried eggs, peaches
BLT wraps, carrot sticks, cantaloupe
Spanish rice with chicken, tossed salad, sweet peppers

Friday, September 5
Peanut butter pancakes, bananas, applesauce
Taco potatoes with lettuce and tomatoes, olives, watermelon
Tuna salad on crackers, cherry tomatoes, pickles, boiled eggs, apples

Saturday, September 6
No knead whole wheat bread with peanut butter and jelly, pears
Leftovers
Three cheese garlic chicken pasta, tossed salad, green beans, asparagus

What are you up to this Labor Day Weekend?  Are you hitting the restart button with us?  Did you sign up for the bundle refer a friend program

I Was Wrong! You Can Get it Free, and It’s Easier Than I Thought.

Remember earlier in the week when I told you about how you can get the upcoming Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle for free?  I wanted to mention it again, because I was initially wrong in some of the information I shared.  I love being wrong (when the freebie opportunity is even better than I thought)!

I thought 10 of your friends had to actually purchase the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle when it comes available soon.  I certainly hope they do purchase, because it’s a bundle of amazingness for a price that blows me away.  Why would we all not purchase this?  But you know how you can get this bundle for free?  If 10 of your friends simply sign up to learn more about this bundle, you’ll get it for free.  That’s it.

If even one of your friends signs up through your referral link, you’ll get an automatic $5 off the purchase price.  If five friends sign up, you’ll get the $5 off, plus a 12-Week Audio course for free.  If ten of your friends signs up, you’ll receive the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle for free.  They’ll just send it to you, all gift wrapped with a bow on top.

This is a fantastic little way for the Ultimate Bundle team to say “thank you” for spreading the word about what they are offering.  We want this bundle put into the hands of everyone.  Once you see it for yourself, you’ll understand why.  I’m sworn to secrecy right now about the specific items being offered. (Over $1,000 worth of items to make your healthy living experiences and efforts easier – for less than $30.  That’s all I can tell you, which is why I’m about to explode.  I saw all the contents early since I’m one of the authors, and I got to redeem my bonuses early and I’m using six them already and seriously it is killing me that I can’t tell your more right now.  Obviously, my face is currently bright red because I have forgotten to breathe.  Cute.)

When you sign up (that’s my referral link), you’ll be on the list to be the first to know all the details about the bundle.  Once you’ve taken the three seconds to sign up, you’ll be given your own referral link to share via email, Facebook, or Twitter.  Your friends can then sign up, and you’ll be on your way to a discount or even a free bundle.

Do this.  You will be so glad you did.  More details coming soon.

With love,
Yours truly, trying not to explode while I wait patiently for permission to tell you more

Did You Sign Up Yet?

This post contains referral links.

Hit the Re-Start Button – Join Us This September

It’s been a great summer!  For many of us, there has been downtime, traveling, fun in the sun, and lots of crazy good times.  Likely there’s been some difficulty, frustration, and troubled days too.  Perhaps there have also been a few more than normal ice cream cones and trips through the fast food lane.  No worries.  We’re not perfect, nor are we health-nut-Nazis.

But now that Fall is upon us, who’s ready to settle into a nice routine?  Who’s ready to get some healthy food prepared ahead of time, get the house more organized and manageable, fine-tune the budget, start exercising regularly, get the natural medicine cabinet stocked for winter – any or all of the above?!

I always feel this way when September hits.  I super-love the flexibility of summer.  But I’m ready for routine, I’m ready to find more organization in my days, and I’m ready to breathe in a fresh breath of all that this season offers.

Who is with me?  Let’s hit the Restart button!

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Through the entire month of September, we’ll be hitting the restart button together around here.  We’ll have new recipes, freebies, sales, rockin’ giveaways, tips and ideas, and encouragement.  Hey, I’m doing this for me as much as I’m doing it for you.  Actually, technically, you’re doing this for me.  Sharing these ideas refreshes me – so thanks for the kick.  Bam.  Smack that Restart Button!  Here we go.

First off – let’s start with a giveaway.  All the books, eBooks, and eCourses in my shop are geared toward making your real food journey easier.  They’ll help you hit the restart button – so how about we give some away?  Leave a comment on this post sharing what you’re most excited about this fall as you hit the restart button.  Wednesday, September 3 I’ll draw 5 random winners who will each win a $10 gift certificate that can be used on any downloadable product or eCourse we carry.  Let your comments begin:

What are you most excited about this Fall as you hit the Restart Button?

Share Your Story: Teaching At-Risk Youth to Cook

Welcome to one of our newest features here at Heavenly Homemakers! I love hearing the stories of how you are using the recipes you find on our site or in our books. Do you have a story to share? Take a picture or two, then email me with the details of how you use your favorite Heavenly Homemaker recipe.  Share your story!

Share Your Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Story

This story, sent in by another gal by the name of Laura, is so inspiring!!

I wish I had pictures, but I don’t.  I had asked you a couple years ago for permission to use your Learn to Cook cookbook with my husband’s job. He worked with at-risk youth and had asked me to teach a cooking class once a week. I had eight students. Many of them were single parents and really still children themselves.

They were skeptical about some of my planned lessons from your book and balked at meal-planning homework. The week we made your Creamy Mac and Cheese.  I had brought in a boxed version so we could compare ingredients. They were shocked at how good the real stuff was and how easy it had been to make.

The week I made the Italian Pasta Bake they were unsure about cooking noodles in sauce, but when I left my portion on top of the stove while my children and I visited with coworkers we returned to find half of our dinner pilfered and several students raving about how good my snack was. Unfortunately my kids had to have fast food that night since we were headed to church after class.

The students kept coming back to see what new yummy thing we would learn to make using real ingredients and take home to share with their families.  Many of them planned to try other recipes in the book.

Thank you for sharing your book with these young people. It helped me have a place to start in teaching about healthy eating and encouraging children to eat well too.

What a fantastic way to bless and empower youth.  Thank you, Laura A., for ministering in this way and for sharing your story with us!

Keep sending in your Heavenly Homemakers recipe stories.  These are so fun to read and share!  :)

Coconut Fudge Bars

Whether it’s because I’m getting older or getting healthier, my body no longer handles sugar well.  This is a great problem to have, obviously.  I’m really quite grateful, as I used to eat wayyyyyyyy too much sugar.  But what is a chocolate lover to do when she has a chocolate craving?  Suck on a bar of unsweetened chocolate?  Mmmm, no.

Chocolate Whipped Cream on Strawberries to the rescue.  Also, last week I played with my Chewy Granola Bars recipe.  I used to make them with chocolate chips – but that obviously adds extra sugar.  This time, I came up with a dark chocolate variety that is only lightly sweet, super coconuty, and oh so chocolaty rich.

Coconut Fudge Bars

1/2 cup peanut butter or sunbutter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil (or another oil of your choice)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

In a medium sized saucepan, melt together peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, and cocoa.  Remove from heat and stir in oats and coconut flakes.  Spread mixture into a 9×9 inch pan.  Chill for 2 hours before serving.  Makes 8-16 bars, depending on how big/small you cut them.

Coconut Fudge Bars

These store best in the fridge, otherwise they are melty and will get chocolate all over your hands and face.  If this is not a problem for you, by all means, store them on the countertop.  If you want to pack these in a lunch, I recommend wrapping them individually, freezing them, and sending a spoon or fork along to make them less messy for the consumer.  If having chocolate all over your child’s hands and face at school is not a problem for you, by all means, send them without a utensil.

These are super rich and only barely sweet.  Feel free to add more honey if you prefer.

So tell me:  Are you a dark chocolate fan?

Back-to-School Lunch Box Cards ~ New Free Printable

In celebration of all the back-to-school fun this time of year, we made another set of Lunch Box Cards for you to download and enjoy.  Print these, cut them apart, add your own personal message, then place them in your child’s lunch box.  Home school?  Place these cards under a lunch plate or inside one of the books your child is currently reading for a fun surprise. :)

Free Download - Lunch Box Cards

Download Free Printable Back-To-School Lunch Box Cards

Here are two more free sets of fun Lunch Box printable cards to grab.

Hey, did you sign up yet for the wonderful Healthy Living Refer-a-Friend program?  You don’t want to miss this opportunity to get a free Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle!  Get all the details here.

Meals to Take to Families With New Babies

You know why I love taking meals to families who have new babies?  Is it because I’m so servant hearted, loving, kind, and eager to bless these tired families?  Oh please.  It’s all about me.  Really.  You should know this truth.  Blah, blah, blah – here’s your food, hope you like it, I made it just for you, now where is your darling newborn?

Of course, I am totally kidding.  (Oh she is so not kidding, said Matt.)  But I really do love helping families with newborns in their time of need.  (What-ev-er, said my four boys in unison.)

Yeah.  I love babies.  My babies are of the much taller, lankier, and less snuggly variety now.  I love them dearly - even more than when they were newborns.  Who knew that was possible?  It just is.  But given the opportunity to cuddle a newborn, and you know, give the tired mama’s arms a break (that’s me being graciously servant-hearted again, what-ev-er) – I take it.  Sweet, sweet babies.  I love them.

Taking a meal to a family with a newborn means that there are blessings all around!  Tired parents don’t have to cook, older siblings get some special attention, and I’m sorry, did I not already make my point clear?  I get to hold a newborn baby.  Blessing upon blessing.

Meals to Take to Famililes With New Babies

photo credit

No doubt many of the foods listed in this post are great to take to others for reasons other than a new baby in the house (surgery, loss of loved one, illness, loss of job, or any other trying or exhausting situation).  By all means, please use this list to take meals to anyone who might benefit.  However, this post offers suggestions specific for the family who has a new addition.

Some items to keep in mind when you take a meal to a family with a new baby:

  • Stay away from hot peppers.  Mom might be avoiding spicy food if she is nursing.
  • Check to be sure you are accommodating any allergies or dislikes the family may have.
  • Ask what time they prefer you deliver the meal.
  • If there are young children in the home, be sure to take foods that are easy to eat and typically enjoyed by kids.  We’re trying to make Mom’s job easier, not harder.
  • Give lots of attention to the baby’s older siblings when you deliver the food.
  • Consider taking a little treat just for the “big brother(s)” and/or ”big sister(s).”  This could be something like 100% juice boxes, mini muffins, or even something non-edible like a new coloring book with crayons or a matchbox car.
  • Fresh fruit is always so refreshing after just having a baby.  Ask what kind of fruit sounds good to Mom and pick some up to take along.
  • If you are able, it might be fun to take a little something extra for a quick and easy breakfast for the family to enjoy the next day.  See list below for ideas.
  • If possible, take your food in dishes the family won’t have to wash and return to you.

Now onto the list of food ideas so you can hand them something wonderful when you say, “Blah, blah, blah – here’s your food, hope you like it, I made it just for you, now where is your darling newborn?”

Those are just the main dish ideas.  Be sure to take plenty of fruit and veggie side dishes too!  (You know I had to say that.)

What about breakfast?

Breakfast items like Easy Breakfast Casserole can be a fun change of pace for dinner.  If you have extra time and resources, you can bless the family by taking along some Dark Chocolate Almond Granola or Giant Breakfast Cookies - something easy for them to eat in the morning after a sleepless night.  Muffins and other breads are always fun to receive.

What are your favorite foods to take to families with new babies?