Menu Plan for the Week – Plus This Week’s Grocery Pictures

Here we are, beginning Thanksgiving week already!  We’ll head to Kansas to spend time with family later this week, thus the abbreviated menu plan below.  Since my side of the family won’t be together again at Christmas time, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas all in the same weekend.

groceries nov4

Home-canned goodies make great gifts!

Here’s a picture of this week’s grocery store run.  See that nine year old boy hiding behind the groceries?  He was on sale, and I couldn’t resist.

groceries nov3

We’ll be enjoying the special treat of Chex Mix over the holiday.

Our Amazon Subscribe and Save order came this week.  I got such good deals – and they are all over my storage room.  Not only have I not had time to put them away, it’s freezing in there!  I’ll do it….later.  ;)

groceries nov

My new Menu Planning Notebook is proving to be soooo much fun - and super helpful too.  Do you have yours put together yet?  As you can see, I shared my work space with cookie cutters.  Malachi and I were getting cookies ready to take to Kansas.  :)

groceries nov2

Here’s what my menu plan ended up looking like for this week:




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

  • Pears
  • Applesauce
  • Peas
  • Green Beans
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Petite Carrots
  • Clementines
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Mixed Greens
  • Spinach
  • Romaine
  • Raspberries
  • Fresh Pineapple

What are your Thanksgiving plans this week?

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Simple Pumpkin Pancakes

It might be apparent to you at this point that I am on a big pumpkin kick right now.  First Pumpkin Breakfast Cake, then Pumpkin Cheesecake, now Simple Pumpkin Pancakes.  It’s just one more way to add vegetables to our table, plus it’s delicious – so why not?  That, and I have oodles of pumpkin puree at my house right now, so I’m making everything I can think of.  My family rejoices.

It is important to note that I often use butternut squash in many of the pumpkin recipes I am making.  Pumpkin and butternut squash are interchangeable in recipes.  Many a pumpkin pie at my house is actually butternut squash pie, but don’t tell.

Want to know how to easily cook a pumpkin (or butternut squash)?  Cooking them whole is the easiest way I’ve found to cook them to make puree.  Once pureed, I use it right away or freeze it until I need it.  Awesome, nutritious goodness!

These Pumpkin Pancakes stir together in just a few minutes and taste fantastic.  Veggies for breakfast…woot!

Simple Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup melted butter

Whisk ingredients together until smooth.  Cook on a hot, buttered griddle, flipping once the pancake becomes bubbly on the first side.  Serve with applesauce or real maple syrup.  Makes about ten 3-inch pancakes.

Simple Pumpkin Pancakes

Other pumpkin (or butternut squash) recipes you’ll find here:

What’s your favorite way to use pumpkin (or butternut squash)?

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Lord, Get Me Off This Crazy Brain Train

All aboard!  Who’s with me?  We’re heading south toward Crazy, passing through Unproductive, Distracted, and Terribly Unpleasant along the way.

Lord! Get me off this Crazy Brain Train!

Do you know what’s great about women?  We are multi-taskers.  We can get things done like nobody’s business.  Our brains are wired to think about what to make for dinner – while we’re switching out laundry, while we’re on the phone setting up an appointment, while we’re watching the kids to make sure they are safe.  This is a gift!  God made us this way!

Satan though.  He’s a sly one.  He likes to take what God did and flip a switch – just a tiny one – to mess up what God created perfectly and turn it into something miserable. He makes it seem okay, or at the very least, he makes it easy for us to shift the blame to others so that we not only justify our actions and attitudes - we don’t even recognize them for what they are: sinful.

So hello, fellow multi-taskers.  Praise God with me for the gift He’s given us to be able to think of so many productive and meaningful thoughts at the same time.  But be on guard with me, too.  This unique and blessed gift often causes more anxt, worry, and fear than godly productivity.  I can make breakfast, plan dinner, be mad at my husband, be worried about my teenagers, and re-play a conversation with a friend that’s bothering me – all at the same time.  This is multi-tasking in a gruesome form.

The noise is deafening – turning my focus in eight different directions at the same time – none of them focused upward.  I hear the battles raging for my mental energy to dwell on what I can not change.  I groan inwardly at all I wish I would have said and what I hope she heard when we visited.  I look ahead four years and try to create the impossible.  It’s loud here.  It’s confusing.  It’s physically exhausting.

The Crazy Brain TrainWe have got to get off.  Don’t even wait for the next stop.  Just take a huge breath and jump.  You’ll be safe.  What?  Like it’s any better aboard the train?  What holds us here?  Do we enjoy the crazy?

Take Every Thought Captive

You know how we gain knowledge of God?  We read His Word.  Like we need food and water – we devour everything He has to say.  We feast on it with our very breath.  His Truth becomes our life.  Our sustenance.

You know how we demolish arguments and every idle thought that wants to make itself more important than the words the Father is trying to tell us?  We take the thought captive.  We stop the thought in its tracks.  We drop-kick it in the name of Jesus.  We listen to God’s voice - the voice we can only hear when we get rid of the other noise and listen to His – strong and clear.  We replace the ugly, unproductive thoughts with Truth.

His Truth silences the crazy.

“…Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”  Hebrews 12:1-2 (read the whole chapter!)

Hearing too much noise and not able to hear God?  Look up!!  Fix your eyes on Jesus.  Let the Lord take you off the Crazy Brain Train so that you can enjoy the Peaceful Heart He is waiting to give you.

Still multi-tasking?  You bet.  We’re killin’ it, knocking out everything on the to-do list God calls us to do.  But our hearts and minds are at peace.  We’re using this gift, and we’re doing it right – with our eyes fixed on Him.

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Win a $50 Gift Certificate from Deborah and Co.

Modest outfits that are cute too?  Is it even possible?  Of course it is.

Deborah and Co. is an online shop that is always on the look-out for women’s clothing that is practical, trendy, and modest too.  (If you have a young girl in your household, you’ll want to check out their Little Deborah line as well.)

Through the years, I’ve been blessed to review several Deborah and Co. clothing items.  I have loved them all!  Their clothing is all super quality, comfortable, and fit like they are supposed to fit.  Here’s the outfit I was recently sent to try out:

deborah and co outfit

I grabbed the picture off their website as it is now toooooo cold for me to wear such cute apparel such as this.  :)  At least I got to try them on before the snow started to fall.  The skirt and top fit great, and will be so much fun to wear come spring!  Cute, comfy, practical – gotta love it. :)

Check out the Perfect Pockets Skirt, Grey Striped Knit Top and everything Deborah and Co. have to offer – even maternity.  They are a fantastic company to work with!

The very exciting news is that one of you here can win a $50 gift certificate to spend however you like at Deborah and Co!  Leave a comment here for a chance to win.  I’ll draw one random winner on Tuesday, November 25.  Be sure to watch for a post stating the winner as you will be responsible for contacting me if your name is chosen. :)

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Apple Nachos ~ Share Your Story

Share Your Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Story

Have you tried making these easy Apple Nachos yet?  They are a super fun treat this time of year.  (Or any time of year, maybe?  Yes, definitely.)

Ingrid sent in her story and pictures; it looks like her family had so much fun making – and eating – these together!  I love her idea of adding peanut butter to the sauce.  These Apple Nachos are a fantastic way to get your kids involved in helping you in the kitchen.

Just wanted to share some pictures of my little ones helping put together our Apple Nachos.  We’ve made your caramel sauce recipe several times to give as gifts.  We started adding some peanut butter to make a peanut butter caramel sauce that we really like for apples.  I think my littlest one ate more chocolate chips than she put on the nachos but she still enjoyed helping like a “big girl.”  Thanks for all of your great recipes and encouragement–I check your blog every morning :)
Ingrid from NC
p.s. Our caramel sauce came out really dark b/c the brown sugar I used had a high molasses content.

apple nachos story 1


apple nachos story 4

I think they look like chocolate chip sprinkling experts.  Gotta start ‘em young, right?

apple nachos story 3

Guilty as charged.  But carry on…

apple nachos story 2

Mmm, yummy chocolate cheeks. She looks so pleased with herself – and so she should be. :)

Your stories and pictures continue to be a highlight of my email inbox.  Keep ‘em coming!
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Low Sugar No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

One day when I was nibbling on a little piece of lightly sweetened and buttery Shortbread, it occurred to me: This would make a fantastic cheesecake crust.  Then one day when I was baking a pumpkin, it occurred to me:  I should use that pumpkin to make pumpkin cheesecake.  These were both very, very good ideas, if I do say so myself.

Why a shortbread crust?  I’m not sure why, but making a graham cracker crust for cheesecakes always seems like too much work to me.  Probably because that was always my job when I was growing up, so now I have deep-seated graham cracker crust baggage from my past.  That, and I never have graham crackers on hand and I don’t want to make a batch of homemade Graham Crackers only to crush them for a crust.  Seriously, who knew a graham cracker crust could be such cause for discussion that it would take up an entire paragraph when I could just be sharing this great recipe with you?

So Shortbread Crust.  I highly recommend it.  Stir the three ingredients together, press them onto the bottom of a dish, and bake.  You can’t go wrong, especially because this recipe includes lots of butter.  That, of course, makes it amazing.

No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

Shortbread Crust:

3 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat for this)
1/2 cup sucanat (or brown sugar if you prefer)
1 1/2 cups melted butter

Stir flour and sucanat together in a bowl.  Add melted butter, combining well.  Press mixture into a 9×13 inch baking pan.  Bake in a 350° oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling:

2 8-ounce packages softened cream cheese
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups pureed pumpkin 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Real maple syrup or liquid stevia to taste (I used 4 droppers full of stevia)

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.  Pour over prepared shortbread crust.  Spread until smooth.  Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving.

No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

My system doesn’t handle much sugar any more (which seriously limits my cheesecake eating opportunities, woe is me).  Making this simple cheesecake with stevia (a natural sweetener, not a sugar or an artificial sweetener) is a fantastic option.  This treat is not super sweet, although you can make it as sweet as you like by simply adding more stevia, maple syrup, or even sugar if you like. Now that I know that stevia makes a cheesecake and shortbread makes a great crust, my cheesecake lovin’ self is happy and my graham cracker crust anxt is minimized.

What is your relationship with the graham cracker crust?  You should join me in loving a shortbread crust.  Easy, delicious, and full o’ buttah!

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Gratituesday: The Extra Room


When we moved from Colorado to Nebraska 12 years ago, we were so excited to get a really large house for a really good price.  It’s not a new house – as a matter of fact, it’s over 100 years old.  But there’s plenty of room for our boys to run around, invite all their friends to run around, fill up with company, and do all that we love to do with others in our home.

It’s also really hard to heat, has crazy plumbing issues, and gets cob-webby very easily.  We won’t focus on those disadvantages.  No house is perfect.  But God gave us this home, and we love it (while wearing many layers during the winter months).

One of the biggest blessings of owning our big home is the fact that we’ve been able to house extras from time to time.  It’s been so neat to watch God put people in our lives who need a place to stay.  We have an extra bedroom that is perfect for company – but even better for people who need to stay for an extended time.


That bedroom is tucked away in the “back” of our home, so our extended guests can have a little bit of their own space.  People have stayed in that room for anywhere from six weeks to seven months at a time.  We figure - if they are brave enough to move in with our (loud, crazy, busy) family - they are more than welcome to stay as long as they need.

From college students, to a widow in transition, to a friend in crisis, to guys needing a place to stay before they get married – it’s been so great to see who God moves in.  We’ve lived here 12 years, and God has moved 8 people into that room for one reason or another.  These guys and gals have blessed us so much!

The young man we have living with us now has become like a beloved son to us.  He gets married in December (yay!) so moves out the end of this month (sniff).  For some reason, he and his bride have decided to get a place of their own after their wedding (ha!).  He is a fabulous role model for our sons.  We are so blessed.

God is so good to fill our lives with people to love and serve.  In His constantly perfect way, He makes our service to others an even bigger blessing to us.  I love how He works.

Now your turn to share!  How is God working in your life?  Leave a comment to share your blessings!

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Build Your Menu Planning Notebook

If you could find the perfect combination of cute, practical, helpful, easy, and affordable – would you finally be convinced that menu planning isn’t such a drag after all?  If someone could hold your hand and walk you through everything you need to do to plan healthy meals for your family – would you jump on board and enjoy the ride?  If you found a menu planning system that was just right for you, instead of a one-size-fits-all mess that leaves you frustrated – would you say, “sign me up.”

It’s here!  You are going to love the Build Your Menu Planning Packet.  Your fun is just about to begin, and just wait till you see the extra special spin we’ve put on this so that you can bless others too!

The Build Your Menu Planning Packet is a resource that will not only simplify your grocery shopping and meal planning organization – it will make the job easy and enjoyable.  This packet is full of 124 pages of printables, offering you guidance (and cuteness!) in everything from stocking your pantry, to planning simple menus, to freezer cooking, to having company - and everything else in between.

Build Your Menu Planning Notebook 550x

Here’s a tiny peek into the planning categories this packet includes:

Step By Step - Build Your Own Menu Planning Notebook

In each of the categories you see above, you’ll get to pick and choose from your favorites, printing and putting together a notebook that’s just right for you.  Don’t like some of the styles?  Skip it and print the ones you do like!  Need your notebook to be heavy on Freezer Cooking Planners but don’t need the Lunch Box Planners?  Okeedokee.  The planners you like and need are the ones that make it into your notebook.

Here’s a list of each section of the Build Your Menu Planning Notebook Packet:

Basic Ingredients to Keep On Hand Lists

From chicken to beef in your freezer, to cans of tuna and salmon in your pantry – knowing what meats you like to keep on hand for meal preparation is very helpful.  The same goes for baking supplies, dry goods, and all other ingredients you use regularly in your kitchen.  Within each category on the worksheet, fill in each ingredient you find beneficial to have available in your kitchen in order to efficiently put together basic meals.

Once filled in, use this page as a guide for grocery list making, as well as for a general guideline to help you keep your kitchen well stocked.

Fruit and Vegetable Inspiration at a Glance

We all need many servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  Challenge yourself to include more of these nutrient packed goodies in your diet.  Use the Fruit and Vegetable Inspiration at a Glance sheet to offer you fresh ideas and to open your mind to variety.  Be sure to fill in the blanks with more of your favorite produce items.

Menu Favorites Cheat Sheets

These worksheets are super handy for keeping a running list of all your favorite recipes and meals.  They are organized by category so that when you plan your meals, all you have to do is glance through your Cheat Sheets for inspiration and ideas.

Menu Planners

This section is loaded with a wide variety of menu planning pages to help you schedule meals for each week.  Choose your favorites, mix and match, print and enjoy!

Grocery Checklists

Choose and print your favorite Grocery List worksheets.  Tear them out of your notebook one at a time as you plan your menus and make lists of items to purchase at the store or online.

Online Shopping Lists

If you purchase groceries online from sources like Amazon or Vitacost, it’s helpful to have a running list so that you remember what to order once you make it to the computer.

Freezer Cooking Planners

You might find that making meals ahead of time and storing them in the freezer for a quick meal will save you lots of time and money!

What’s in the Freezer” sheets

Have a freezer full of meat, fruits, vegetables, and prepared foods?  Make lists of what’s in your freezer and attach it to the front of your freezer for an easy reference so that you don’t have to dig around to see what’s hiding behind the frozen chicken.

Planning Ahead for Company Worksheets

Hosting guests?  These worksheets will help you plan your menus and prepare meals efficiently so you can enjoy your company.

Baking Day Planners

Need to get some baking done so that you’ll have easy-to-grab snacks and breakfast foods for your family?  Use these worksheets to help you plan.

Lunch Packing Planners

If you need to pack lunches for school and/or work, creating a plan will help you do this more efficiently.  Fill out any of these worksheets to help you and your family prepare healthy lunches to go.

Cover Pages

Find one that fits you.  Print it and slip it behind the clear protector on the front of your binder.

When I built my personal Menu Planning Notebook, I printed 52 Weekly Menu Planners so I’d have one for each week of the year.  Some of the planners work well for the way I plan, so that’s what I printed.  I chose my favorite designs – the ones that really jumped out at me.

After I had my Weekly Planners in place, I picked my favorites from all the other planning choices:  Freezer Cooking, Baking Day, Getting Ready for Company…

My notebook is all put together now, and working on it seriously makes me giddy.  Pretty pages, just waiting to be filled in to help me with organization as I work to feed my family?  I love it!

Now the even better news.

Anytime you buy an eBook or downloadable packet like this, you get to use it for yourself, and that’s it.  But we kinda figured you’d see this Build Your Menu Planning Notebook Packet and not only want it for yourself, but think of several friends who might enjoy having one too!  Here’s what we decided to do:

You can buy our regular Build Your Menu Planning Notebook Packet for your own personal use for just $5.99.  The contents will be yours forever, allowing you to print the pages and build notebooks that benefit you for years and years and years.

OR, you can buy our Extended License version of the Build Your Menu Planning Notebook Packet for just $10.99.  The contents are the same, however purchasing this version will allow you to not only print and build a notebook for yourself – it gives you permission to print and build notebooks to give as gifts to others too!

Just think.  For Christmas this year, you can put together some adorable, practical, and very inexpensive gifts for your friends or family members.  You can tailor make each of them according to the designs you think they’ll love.  There’s so much fun included in this packet!

Here you go!  Let the Menu Planning Notebook building begin!

Build Your Menu Planning Notebook – For Personal Use Only
(unlimited lifetime downloads)

Add to Cart

Build Your Menu Planning Notebook – For Personal Use and for Gifts
(unlimited lifetime downloads)

Add to Cart

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Time to Bottle Your Vanilla!

Did you make homemade vanilla extract for Christmas gifts this year?  Your friends and family will be so blessed!

If you’re ready to bottle it up, I wanted to share my favorite online resources.  If you live in a big city, you may be able to find something less expensive.  Since I don’t have that option, I take advantage of the good ol’ internet.

olive nation bottles

I’ve shopped around online quite a bit, crunching numbers, adding in shipping costs (ouch!).  If you only want 4-ounce bottles (and I have found that this is a great size for gift-giving), then Olive Nation is your best price.  This is because they offer free shipping if your order is over $50.  See, it’s the shipping cost on these orders that can really make the bottles expensive.  If you can swing ordering enough from Olive Nation to get free shipping, this will save a lot of money.  (The price ends up being just $1.26/bottle.)

Limited Time Only!!

Just before posting this, an email came through saying that you’ll get free shipping at Olive Nation with a minimum order of only $25 – now through November 19!!  Take advantage!  Use the code FREESHIP25 at checkout.

If you want 2-ounce or 8-ounce bottles, I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs.

Don’t let the cost of bottling your vanilla discourage you!  Your homemade vanilla is still an inexpensive gift, especially when you consider the quality of what you’re gifting!

Also, don’t be afraid to ask the recipient to save the bottle to give back to you.  Most people have given their bottle back to me without being asked (and some beg for a refill – of course!).

For those of you who haven’t jumped into making Homemade Vanilla Extract, you’ll be excited to know that we have a big batch of our homemade vanilla almost ready to bottle up and share with you.  This will be just in time for your holiday baking and/or gift giving needs!  Mark your calendars for Saturday, December 6 so you won’t miss out.

This post contains affiliate links.

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Don’t Waste Food ~ Money Saving Monday

Money Saving Monday Banner

Here are some real food grocery budget suggestions for you.  (Please note, I didn’t say they are good suggestions.  They are just some suggestions.)

1.  Spend time and energy making an organized grocery list.  Load up the kids and go to the grocery store.  Spend an hour (with a potentially screaming baby and run-away toddler) comparing prices, making wise choices, and filling your cart with food.  Stand in line (with the baby who now insists on being held, bounced, and patted constantly on the bottom – and the toddler who has suddenly grown eight hands, all of which are grabbing candy bars).  Watch prices get scanned incorrectly, manager overriding the purchase, another employee having to run check on the actual price and thirty-two hours later, fall exhausted into your vehicle.  Drive home, unload the kids, unload the groceries, find everyone a snack, wearily survey the food that needs to be put away.

With resolve, pick up 1/3 of the food you just brought home from the store and carry it directly to the trash can.  Dump it in, walk away.  Your job here is done.

Why?  Why would you do that?  The next scenario makes much more sense:

2. Get $40 out of your wallet, walk to the trash can, throw it in, and walk away.

Ah yes.  That is much easier than Option #1.  Why should you actually go to the trouble to make a list and go shopping when you can just stay home and throw the money away before you spend it?  Definitely, pick door number 2.  Or…

3.  Do everything mentioned in Option #1, only do not throw any of it away, because how silly would that be?  Put all the food away in the freezer, fridge, or pantry.  Shove the raw chicken all the way to the back of the fridge, and promptly forget about it for three weeks until it has turned green and smells like {don’t finish that sentence}.  Ignore the lettuce and grapes in the crisper drawer until they are slimy.  Open a package of rice, but don’t close it so that bugs can crawl right in.

And last but not least, Option #4:

4.  Organize and shop as suggested in Option #1, putting food away like a responsible citizen in Option #3.  Go so far as to plan a menu and actually go to the trouble to cook the food before it spoils.  Put it on your table, filling your plates.  Eat only half.  Throw the rest away.

dont waste food

These four options are obviously absurd, until you recognize that every time we throw away food, we are throwing away hard-earned money and wasting all kinds of time and energy.  We would never put cash in the garbage, so why would we think about spending that money on food and then throwing it away?

Obviously, sometimes food can occasionally go bad before we get to it.  It happens.  Don’t beat yourself up.  This isn’t about all the hungry children in other countries, unless you need it to be.

But one of the biggest ways to save money on your grocery bill, especially if you’re trying to figure out how to eat healthy food and save money at the same time is to: buy your food with a purpose, then make a point to eat it.

It’s too easy to ignore the great food choices we spent money on and let them go to waste.  Get out of the habit of putting more food on your plate or your child’s plate than you or they can eat, then throwing away what’s left.  Don’t want to eat leftovers after a meal?  Freeze them for another time or re-purpose them (like make soup with leftover veggies).

In summary:  Buy good food.  Eat it.

Or, just throw some cash into your fireplace, whichever you prefer.  :)

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