See You After Easter!

Want to know a secret?

Since August I have been exploring, studying, and learning about what it means to take a weekly Sabbath rest.  It has been oh-my-goodness wonderful and also very hard.  How is a mom supposed to take a Sabbath rest every week when there is so much to be done???  This is what I’ve been exploring for the past seven months.  I’ve been journaling my way through this challenging yet blessed learning process.  You’ll get to read about it some day. :)

This morning the Spirit prompted me to take a different kind of rest.  I began this blog in November 2007 and have posted almost daily since.  That’s 4,006 posts of fun!  I love writing, I love you, I love interacting here.  I’ve taken breaks here and there during the past seven years, but that usually means that I’ve worked ahead of time to get posts ready to go up even if I’m gone.

This week, I’m going to have a time of quiet.  No writing, no picture taking, no thinking about what to post next.  Okay fine.  I actually might write.  It’s hard for me not to write because I love writing.  I’m just not going to post what I write – for seven entire days of quiet.

elias cross pic

This comes at a perfect time as we reflect more fully on the sacrifice Jesus made and the miracle of his resurrection.  Taking in the Word instead of kicking out words for daily posts sounds all kinds of refreshing.

To all my regular readers: thank you for showing up here every day.  This week, use the time you normally read my daily posts to read something from the Word instead.  Take some quiet time to listen to His message for your life.

If after that you still want a little Heavenly Homemaker encouragement, just search through the 4,006 posts in the archives.  The recipes, tips, and books are all there for your reading pleasure.  :)

Beyond a blogging break to find refreshment, I’m going to become re-acquainted with my scrub brush as there is much filth in my house that can no longer be ignored.  I’m actually looking forward to it. (Whoa, that’s crazy talk.)

My keyboard and I will miss you.  Have a wonderful week and I’ll see you after Easter!

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Feeling Weary?

Ugh, the weariness.  Even in the midst of good times, weariness can set in – in parenting, in marriage, in ministries, in the daily grind.

Today I tip my hat to you, in gratitude for all you do to keep life moving for those you love.  Thank you for packing lunches, changing diapers, rinsing dishes, tossing a salad, or paying the bills.  Thank you for sweeping the porch, writing a note, disciplining the child, wiping the snot, or driving to the appointment.  Thank you for countless hours of work you do – in all its forms – for the love of your family.

Your work is not in vain.  You serve a great purpose as you love those around you.  Be encouraged!  Be blessed!

Galatians69color

I posted this several months ago, but seeing as it is one of my favorite verses, I decided to pull it up again to share with you.  Know someone who is weary right now?  Pass this on to them for encouragement.  I love how scripture speaks and offers true peace for us all.

Download Galatians 6:9 in Blue and Black here.

Download Galatians 6:9 in Gray and Black here.

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Whole Wheat Stuffed Cheesy Bread

Homemade, soft, pull-apart bread stuffed full of melted cheesy deliciousness?  Oh yes.

cheese bread11

What inspired this recipe, you ask?  It was pure and total selfishness and that’s the truth.

See, I was serving salad as a main dish for our lunch.  The salad was to include mixed greens and other veggies plus flavorful chunks of chicken, so I knew all my men would enjoy it.  But I also knew that if I didn’t feed them something a little more substantial with their salad, I’d be hearing the “now what can I have to eat” question right about the time we finished putting salad bowls into the dishwasher.

See?  It was selfishness.  I did not want to hear that question.  I am over that question.  That question makes all mothers want to run in unladylike fashion to the far corners of anywhere but the kitchen.  Am I right?  I am right.

So I searched online for a fun new kind of bread to go with our salads.  The boys all thought I made the bread to treat them to something special.  Don’t tell them otherwise.  Yes boys.  I was June Cleaver delighted to make you this special treat for lunch.  (And also, I am very, very selfish and wanted to keep your bellies full until the next actual meal time so that I wouldn’t hear the question.)

Now that my confession is out of the way and you understand the heart behind the recipe, you too can be selfish and make this for your family.  This might be the best selfish act you and I will ever commit.

Whole Wheat Stuffed Cheesy Bread (adapted from this recipe)

Dough

1 teaspoon honey
3/4 cup warm water (about 110°)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil
2 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground flour from hard white wheat)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt

Cheese Filling

2 cups shredded cheese (I used Colby jack for this)
1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

In a large mixing bowl, stir together honey, water, and yeast.  Allow mixture to sit for about 10 minutes until it becomes foamy.  Add melted butter (be sure it’s not too hot so it won’t kill the yeast).  Stir in flour and salt until well combined.  Knead dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes.  (Here’s a video showing you how to knead dough.)

Place dough back in bowl, cover, and allow dough to rest/rise for about one hour.  Meanwhile, mix cheese filling ingredients in a bowl.

Heat oven to 450°.  Divide dough in half.  Roll each half into an 8″ square.  Scoop about 1/2 cup cheese mixture onto one side of each square.  Fold the dough over the cheese and press edges lightly together.  Use a sharp knife to slice the dough into 6-8 one-inch strips, stopping just before the folded edge.  Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over the top of the prepared bread.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until bread is golden brown.  Serve right away.  Makes 16 Cheesy Bread Sticks.

Note:  In the following pictures, you’ll notice that I doubled the recipe.  
Instead of 2 cheesy breads, I made 4.  I didn’t want to run out.  Remember the selfishness.

cheese bread 1

cheese bread 2

cheese bread 3

cheese bread 4

cheese bread 5

cheese bread 6

cheese bread 7

cheese bread 8

cheese bread 10

And there you have it.  A delicious act of selfishness.  This was a perfect side with our salads.  This bread also tastes great dipped in pizza sauce.

Whole Wheat Stuffed Cheesy Bread

Are you also tired of the question?

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20% Off Vanilla Beans Through March 30!

When vanilla beans are offered at 20% off at Olive Nation, we have to take advantage!  They always offer free shipping on vanilla bean orders, so that’s a great bonus.

Read here about how to make homemade vanilla extract.  I mean, why else would I suggest you buy a bunch of vanilla beans?! :)

Making my own vanilla has saved me so much money over the years.  Plus, I know that my vanilla is absolutely pure.  Olive Nation is the only place I purchase vanilla beans.  Their quality and prices are best.  I just took advantage of this 20% discount so my savings is even greater than normal.  Super exciting!

vanilla_beans

Find the discounted vanilla beans on this page at Olive Nation.  Use the code EAST20 for the 20% discount to apply.  Get your homemade vanilla started and love the deliciousness!  (Coupon code expires March 30, 2015.)

This post contains affiliate links.

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Make Extra Baked Potatoes on Purpose Because…

What’s better than a baked potato?  A baked potato with butter.  Obviously.

But also, I have found that leftover baked potatoes can be a great meal-brain-time saver.  This is why I typically bake twice (at least) as many baked potatoes as we will need for one meal.

First, let us be reminded of my favorite way to bake potatoes – particularly in the summertime – but also pretty much all the time because it’s just so easy:

How to Bake Potatoes in the Crock Pot (Without Foil)

I typically have my boys scrub enough potatoes to completely fill the crock pot since I know having the leftovers will give me another easy meal later in the week.

What do I make with leftover baked potatoes?

1.  Homemade Frozen Hashbrowns or Hashbrown Patties

We shred baked potatoes into hashbrowns for the freezer.  Oh how I love pulling these out for a fast side dish.  If I take the time to freeze them into hashbrown patties, they are an extra special treat.

Homemade Hashbrown Patties

2.  Fried Potatoes

Leftover baked potatoes make the best fried potatoes.  We love to chop them up into a skillet with butter and sea salt.  They cook up quickly since they have already been baked, and they have incredible flavor!

3.  Potato and Egg Scramble

A favorite breakfast around here includes leftover baked potatoes fried in butter, then scrambled up with eggs.

4.  Potato Veggie Skillet

Leftover baked potatoes, cut up and fried in butter with veggies like onions and sweet peppers (and mushrooms and broccoli and spinach and asparagus) is incredible.

 5.  Baked Potato Soup

If I have leftover baked potatoes, I can make my Potato Soup recipe super quickly.  The baked potatoes give the soup a great flavor!

6.  Taco Potato Skillet

This makes a super fast meal!  Simply brown meat, add taco seasoning, then add chopped leftover baked potatoes – cooking until it is heated through.  Top with shredded cheese.  Serve with veggies.  My family loves this meal.  I love it because I can make it in about 15 minutes with little effort.

taco potato skillet 3

What do you do with leftover baked potatoes?

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Gratituesday: The Lego Message

gratituesday[2]

You know Malachi.  He loves his Legos, and even hopes to have a Lego business some day.  He spends hours most days building and creating.  It’s always fun to see what he comes up with.

I knew he was up to something “secret” last night, but I didn’t ask too many questions because I could tell he was working on a surprise.  This morning when I went down to the kitchen (before anyone else was awake – bliss), I was greeted by this:

lego message

Actually, the I Heart You message was in the kitchen and the other creations were waiting for me in my coffee-drinking-God-time chair.  I love that he surprised me with this, but I love even more that he knows the first places I go each morning.

He asked if I would share his creations on my blog, and I could think of no better slot than Gratituesday.  We may not always check everything off our daily to-do lists, and we certainly have our share of discouraging parenting struggles – but sweet reminders like this prove that God is working in the hearts of our kids. :)

What are you thankful for this Gratituesday?

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Today Only! Get a FREE HoneyMania Gift Set Worth $45!

This just came to my inbox.  Normally I ignore “one day only” offers.  But this one is too good to not share – so here I am giving you these details while I’m supposed to be reading history to my younger boys.  :)

This free gift is good today only, and even with that, it’s only good while supplies last.  Hurry to get one.  It’s super fun – a gift made with fair trade honey from Ethiopia….

honeymania

Only new TopCashBack members are eligible for this promotion.  This will make a great gift – and it is entirely free.  No catch.  No shipping costs.  Nothing but free.  Amazing, huh?  (By the way, I’ve worked with Top Cash Back for over a year and they always pay back exactly what they promise.  You can trust this company.)

Here’s how this deal works:

1. Click through this link to sign up for an account.

2.  Once signed up, click on the orange button “Get Cashback” which will take you to the purchase page.

honeymania2

3.  Purchase only the item on that page, the Medium Honeymania Gift, priced today at 22.50.  They are offering free shipping on any purchase today, so you’ll only pay $22.50 plus tax.  Do not include any other items in this purchase or TopCashBack will not be able to offer you a refund.  :)

4.  Your gift set will arrive at your house within 5-8 days.  Then, within 14 days, TopCashBack will refund the $25.00 to your account, which you can have sent to your paypal account, your bank account, or they will give it to you as an Amazon gift card.  Your choice!

And that’s all there is to it.  You can use your TopCashBack account later to get refunds on other purchases you make online.  I really like this company – and I’ve obviously enjoyed the freebies and money back I’ve earned on purchases!  :)

If you already have a TopCashBack account, you should tell your friends about this so that they can get this free product and you can get a referral bonus.  It’s always a win-win with offers like this.

Go grab this fun free gift while it’s available!

This post contains referral links.

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What to Eat When You Need to Lose Weight. Or Gain Weight. Or Maintain Weight.

My appetite has been silly for about a month now, many thanks to the rounds of flu and whatever else that has hit our household this winter.  (Yes, I realize that it’s now spring, but until I can plant a garden…)

I’m not the only one with an abnormal appetite.  None of the boys felt like eating when they were sick, and a couple of them caught two different varieties of the crud.  All that to say – some of us are on the scrawny side right now.  It’s not a big deal.  We’ll be back to fighting weight in no time.  But while thinking about what foods we should focus on eating as we gain strength, this occurred to me:

When people ask me what foods they should be eating in order to lose weight – and when people ask me what foods they should be eating to gain weight – and when people ask me what foods they should be eating to maintain weightmy answer is the exact same.

What to Eat

How can this be?

This can be because I always recommend eating real food.  I always suggest that we focus on eating many fruits and vegetables.  That we focus on eating plenty of healthy fats like coconut oil and butter.  That we eat plenty of good proteins like eggs, meat, and nuts.  That we eat nourishing broth and a few whole grains.  That we avoid empty foods that don’t contain nutrients.

So those are the foods I recommend people eat when they need to lose weight.  Or gain weight.  Or maintain weight.  How about that?  When eating the right amount of the right foods, in balance, according to your body’s needs – most of us will find our healthy weight.

Now, there are other things to consider like allergies and body types and exercise and age and chronic health issues and what size shoe you wear (except not really about the shoes).  Not everyone loses or gains weight in the same way and not all of us can eat the exact same diet.  I’m not trying to write a perfect prescription for perfect weight for all.

I’m just saying that intentional nourishment is the biggest key to helping each of us find a healthy weight.  Not dieting.  Not binging.  Not depriving oneself.  Not being extreme.

So let’s all eat real food.  No matter what size you are or need to be.  Real food is tasty, satisfying, nourishing, and you can spread butter on it.  It’s a win, win, win, win.  :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hey, quick reminder about this great eBook deal, which expires Monday, March 23 at midnight.

Heavenly Homemaker’s Guide to Gardening and Preserving ebook
with FREE Eat Your Fruits…and Veggies Too eBook

$5.00

Add to Cart

 

(When you put the Gardening eBook in the cart, it automatically comes with the Fruits and Veggies eBook too!)

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Menu Plan For the Week and My Husband…the Price Matcher

I’ve been laying low this week while I recover from being sick.  Therefore, making a trip to the store would have been a bad idea for me.  But dude – avocados can be price-matched for 29¢ this week!!!!!  We couldn’t pass this up.  Plus, we needed other groceries.  Thus, I prepared a careful list and sent my willing husband to the store (armed with a teenage son for back-up).  They shopped, they price-matched, they scored good deals.

groceries mar21

They also bought pizza.

groceries mar 211

Four of them to be exact.  Fine by me.  Matt added veggies to some of them before putting them in the oven and we all enjoyed the treat (and the night off from cooking).

He ended up heading back to the store over the weekend because we needed food for High School Huddle this Sunday, plus there were no avocados the first time he went.  Missing the 29¢ avocados just seemed too sad.  Second time around, he brought home a bag full – plus more strawberries, more clementines, and some blueberries.  The groceries were all put away before I could get in and take a picture, so I thought I’d share this one instead:

malachi's straw
This was Malachi drinking his Homemade Chocolate Milk earlier this week.  Or…attempting to drink his chocolate milk.  It was a fun lunch-time experiment he chose to do.  To answer the inevitable:  Yes he is wearing a suit coat, shirt, and tie.  Yes it was mid-week.  Yes it was lunchtime.  Yes we were home having a regular school day.  No I don’t make him dress up for school.  He dresses like this most days because he loves it.  Come to think of it, I believe this was St. Patty’s Day – as it looks as though he is wearing his green shirt/tie combo.  The cuteness is a killer, am I right?  Remember when he always dressed as a cowboy?  Oh, my baby.

You should try making this chocolate milk, but feel free to come as you are.  Black tie attire not required for the drinking of this milk.  Nor is it a necessity to drink through six straws at once.  The rest of us boring folks drink our chocolate milk without a straw while wearing blue jeans.

Meals for this week look a little something like this:

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Fruit and Veggie Side Options (I serve 1-4 with each meal)

Here’s to a great week with great food!

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Delicious and Healthy Ways to Use Coconut Cream – Your Ideas?

I picked up some coconut cream concentrate about 8 years ago because I heard it was really good for us.  But it was early in our healthy eating journey, so I really didn’t know what to do with it.  Coconut oil was still new to me at that time, so coconut cream concentrate?  What was I supposed to do with it???  I was actually a little bit afraid of it.  So I left it on my shelf until it expired – like really, really expired.

During the past few weeks, I’ve come across several articles sharing delicious recipes we can make with coconut cream.  I told myself that the next time I found it on sale at Tropical Traditions and it is a free shipping weekend, I’m going for it.  

That weekend is now.  I just ordered myself two 16-ounce jars of Organic Coconut Cream Concentrate for half price, and I paid $0.00 in shipping.  Next week, this will arrive at my house:

coconut cream

What do I plan to do with this coconut cream?

For starters, I’ll be putting some in my coffee as a super-healthy coffee creamer.  I also plan to spread some on my toast (like butter or peanut butter).  Then I’m going to play with some healthy treat ideas using this high-nutrient food.

If you need to eat dairy free, you’ll want to add this to your safe and healthy food options.  Even if you can eat dairy, I think you and I will still enjoy this food.  And we’ll all benefit from the high fiber content and healthy fat it provides.

If you’ve been using coconut cream concentrate for a while, I’d really love for you to share how you use it. Have any great recipes?  

If you’re able, take advantage of this great BOGO deal with free shipping at Tropical Traditions.  I’m looking forward to my order coming next week!

Order Details:

Find two jars of Organic Coconut Cream Concentrate for just $20 and add them to your cart (before midnight Sunday).  If you shop through that link (which is my referral link) and you are a new customer with Tropical Traditions, they will throw a free copy of Virgin Coconut Oil Book in with your order.  Use the code 31516 for free shipping to apply.  This code is valid through Monday, March 23.

I look forward to adding this great product to our diet and hope you’ll share your ideas so we can all learn more about using it!

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