Take Time to Pray (and Color) This Weekend

I’ve seen all the “Adult Coloring Books” making their way into the world and two things have come to mind:

1) When you put the word “adult” in front of other words, it makes it sound kind of sketchy. But it’s not. It’s a coloring book for goodness sake.
2) Who has time to color?

I didn’t get the hype. I figure if I don’t have time to do dishes, I probably don’t have time to color.

coloring pages2

Color me corrected.

Monday evening I had precisely 45 minutes to myself. Matt and the three younger boys had left for a soccer game. I was missing this one so I could go to our oldest son’s choir performance, but I didn’t have to leave quite yet. In my very, very quiet and peaceful house, I spent my minutes working more on my new Organization Binder. I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but those minutes were so very peaceful and quiet.

Until Asa texted to let me know that he was supposed to be on the risers for choir five minutes ago and he’d lent his dress shoes to someone so he was very sorry but could I please find Justus’ shoes and run them up to the performance building…

So I guess I just got about 37 minutes of quiet.

Whatever though. And how nice is it to have three teenage boys who can share clothes and shoes?

But back to my quiet time.

In my effort to help myself actually like my binder (because remember – organizing isn’t my thing), I was like, “I’m gonna do something fun with this cover.” I looked into a few options before I remembered that the Homemaking Bundle comes with several fun printable coloring books. (You’ll find them in the Self-Care section.) I picked my favorite (nothing like feeling like a kid again!) and there I sat, in my quiet house, coloring a picture.

organizer1

I had no idea it would be so relaxing.

I was so surprised by how it fed me. I guess I would say it filled me with peace? I don’t know. It was just nice.

What I especially loved is that while I was absentmindedly coloring, my mind was able to focus and cut out distractions. I was able to talk to God for minutes and minutes without also zooming out to think about what was for dinner or what still needed to be done before the end of the day.

It was so cool.

coloring pages3

The next day I colored another picture while our family was hanging out in the living room before bed. Justus, our 16-year old, was playing his guitar next to me. It felt like I was chillin’ at a coffee shop, only there I was, in the living room with my family.

I’m not sure why others are jumping on board the adult coloring thing. But obviously it’s meeting a need for people and after just one page, I am hooked.

How strange that paper and design and pretty markers bring calm to a mother’s busy mind and heart. I can’t explain it. It’s just what it does for me.

So if you’re like me, and you find yourself with way too long a to-do list and struggle to create the down-time you need to keep yourself healthy, I’m going to suggest this:

Take time to color and pray.

I know. What an interesting idea. I’m just saying that it is refreshing and chill. Colors and prayer can all go together to help you learn what you need to learn during a focused time with the Lord. It’s quite amazing actually. Try it and see if you agree.

It made me want to print out all the coloring pages from the bundle, put them all together in another binder, get all my markers and colored pencils, and put together a coloring/prayer basket for myself.

coloring pages5

Well, would you look at that? It seems that organizational bug really did bite. I suppose I should look into reorganizing those closets now.

Do you like to color? Have you found that you’re able to focus and pray during color time? 

The countdown is on!

If you haven’t picked up your Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, now is the time. Then you can color all weekend while you watch these family friendly shows with your peeps!

motionmailapp.com

You won’t find a more power-packed set of resources anywhere. It all goes away May 2. Go get yours!

I’m so happy to share this with you!

The links in this post are my affiliate links.

Easy Salsa Chicken Salad Recipe (Less Than 5-Minutes of Work)

Hi! It’s me. The girl without an oven.

Actually, I have an oven. It’s sitting in my living room by my couch. See? There it is:

gas oven

Oh man. If you’re one of my Facebook followers, you might have witnessed my first ever Facebook Live video where I showed off my new stove and made a bad joke about having gas. “Going Live” with you was super fun, so I’ll definitely be doing that more often. Please check it out and join us!

While I type, my favorite guy is going up and down the stairs to complete the transition from electric hook-up to gas. As soon as my pretty new dream oven is hooked up, I will be making a Peach Cobbler to reward Matt for all his hard work getting this set up for me! (To catch you up on the latest, on a whim we checked to see if Craigslist had anything for us. We didn’t have our hopes up. But would you believe, we found exactly one double oven and it is exactly what we want/need – except better?! And we got it for an amazing price!! So thankful!)

During the days I’ve been without an oven I’ve been using my crock potmy electric skilletmy cast iron griddlemy blender, and my waffle iron quite a bit. As you can see, being oven-less has not been the end of my world. Also, the timing could not have been more perfect for all these new recipes that are in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. Do you see all the great crock pot recipes!? Those are going to continue to be very handy this summer when I go oven-less by choice.

This Easy Salsa Chicken Salad recipe is actually just a simple variation of my Crock Pot Chicken Tacos. I made this last Sunday when we needed to leave for church in ten minutes but I hadn’t figured out lunch for the day. I got out frozen chicken, ran it under some hot water, plopped it into my crock pot, dumped in some salsa, and left for church.

I said, “Wow, easiest meal ever.” and my boys said, “Mom you say that every day.”

It’s true. I only make food that’s easy. Multi-step recipes are not for me. And yet here we are still eating a healthy, real food diet. Don’t forget how to put the easiest, healthiest side dishes on the table too. Fruits and veggies are the best convenience foods there are!

organic spring mix

Speaking of healthy convenience foods – big containers of Organic Mixed Greens are my favorite fast food to get at the grocery store! Instead of making my Salsa Chicken into a taco last Sunday, I dumped a big hand-full of mixed greens into a bowl, added my tasty chicken along with some tomatoes, black beans, and corn – and I had the best salad! I didn’t even need salad dressing. (Though you can take a look at the yummy options I have listed here.)

Easy Salsa Chicken SaladYum

Easy Salsa Chicken Salad Recipe (Less Than 5-Minutes of Work)
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 2 cups salsa
  • Your choice of greens
  • Your choice of salad fixins (I like tomatoes, corn, and black beans for this salad)
Instructions
  1. Place fresh or frozen chicken in a crock pot.
  2. Dump salsa over the chicken.
  3. Cook on low for about 4 hours.
  4. Shred the chicken and serve with your favorite salad fixins.

Easy Salsa Chicken Salad

A similar recipe to this Salsa Chicken idea is this Crock Pot Bbq Chicken Recipe. Dump it into the crock pot and go!

What are your favorite healthy convenience foods?

This post contains affiliate links.

Available for just four more days…

Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, 2016

The Day I Gave Up and Decided to Make Lists (It’s Time for Laura to Get Organized)

Everyone thinks I’m organized.

People say to me, “If I was organized like you…” or “I’m sure the reason you get so much done everyday is because you’re so organized…” And I’m like, “Are you for real? Have you seen my closets?? My desk? The cabinet that holds my Pyrex?!”

cabinet_clean_out_2

I cleaned it once. In 2011.

You guys. I am not great at organizing. My cabinets are a crazy mess. My closet doors won’t close. I don’t know who (if anyone) has a soccer game tomorrow (though we probably have three). When someone asks, “Can you do such-and-such on Tuesday, May 3rd?” I say, “I have no idea. Can you ask me May 2nd?” Thinking beyond today is just about more than my brain can handle.

This hasn’t always been me. Back when I had more time (before I had kids? definitely before I started this blog) I used to write everything down and keep track of my schedule better. Ironically, the busier I have become, the less organized I am.

Shall we all say it together? “Laura, that doesn’t make any sense. Get it together!!!!!

You get it together.

Whoa. My inner sassy teenager just came out.

Speaking of teenagers – mine are all in charge of keeping track of their own schedules. This is partly why I can check out when it comes to every single thing that needs to be done each day. My sons are the ones who have to tell me when they are reffing soccer, when they have a sports practice, when they have a deadline, and when they have to be somewhere for an activity or obligation. They keep track of their own schedules so that I don’t have to be their brain and mine too. I think we can all be thankful for this.

asa soccer 2015

Still though. Not being more organized has gotten me into trouble more than once, and here’s what I’ve decided most recently:

It would probably help my overloaded spaghetti brain situation if I were to get the to-do lists out of my head and down on paper instead. Maybe?

This is so obvious.

I think part of why I’ve shied away from paper organizational systems for so long is because none of them have worked well for me. They seem too boxy – too one-size-fits-all. Since my life doesn’t fit in a box (read: Laura isn’t normal) I’ve not appreciated specific “here’s how to do it” systems.

Ways I actually am organized:

  • I do plan meals pretty well.
  • I always have plenty of food on hand.
  • I have binders for my work related paperwork and keep very good track of income and expenses for tax purposes.
  • I make lists for my kids with their school work requirements. (Once. At the beginning of the school year. Then I adapt it as needed and print it off each week.)
  • I keep thorough transcripts for my high schoolers.

notebook 2

So sure. I’m organized in some ways – just not in all the ways. But in regard to all the ways I’m not organized – I can’t keep up any more so I’ve decided it’s time to try something new.

I came to this conclusion after a heart-felt discussion with my husband (read: Laura was overwhelmed and teary-eyed again). You know how I’ve told you that this teenager-filled season in my life is busier than ever and how the responsibilities are more intense and I keep trying to figure out what is wrong with me now that I’m not keeping up as well as I used to? Every few days it seems I have to overflow from the overload. I have the most long-suffering husband. How many times can he hear me say the same things over and over?

It was during our most recent Laura is overwhelmed same song second verse conversation that I concluded, “Why do I keep doing this? I love everything God is doing in our family and beyond. We’re in the middle of a lot and this is just what it is right now, isn’t it? From now until we get all the boys through school – I just need to buck up and go with it, don’t I? This is it. This is life right now.”

In other words, “I will be okay again sometime after the spring of 2023.”

So here we are. I love my life and all its crazy craziness. But the truth is that between homeschooling, keeping up with teenagers, working full time hours, feeding the family, keeping up (ha!) with housework, and being involved in ministries – if I don’t become at least a little more organized, I’m going to be in a constant state of overwhelm. Nobody needs to live that way (or live with someone like that). Phew.

Just after my conversation with Matt I thought, “Well, duh. I just got (and skipped over) an entire section of books and printables on Organization in the Homemaking Bundle. What if I actually looked at it?”

So I opened it, prayed over it (for real), and asked God to show me what might help make life more doable right now.” I went into it with an open and even eager mind. Just because organizational systems haven’t worked for me in the past doesn’t mean they can’t work for me now.

I made myself an Organization Binder

As God helped specific resources from these choices rise to the top for me, I printed out each page that I felt would benefit my organizational efforts. Then I put them all into a binder. I mean, if I’m going to get organized, I’d better start by putting all my stuff together in one place, right? Also – I should make it cute. Okay then.

organizer1

I colored it myself! More on that tomorrow.

So far, what I’ve found to be the most helpful from this packet are the printables from Get Your Life Back, and the exercises and worksheets from It’s About Time, A Modern Girl’s Guide to Homemaking, and Make Over Your Calendar. I’ve also started and am enjoying the (normally $59!) Upstream eCourse that comes in the bundle.

I didn’t hold back on what I selected to include in my binder because I didn’t need to. All of these resources came with the homemaking bundle and are available for me to draw from.

organizer2

Once my binder was put together, I actually started writing stuff down. I made lists. I worked through worksheets. All-the-while, I prayed. I suppose that’s been one of my hang-ups with organizers. I don’t want to be tied down to a to-do list that I’ve created myself. I want to be Spirit led! But how about I ask the Spirit for guidance while I’m making to-do lists? It’s a win-win.

organizer 3

So yay me! I’m writing words on paper in a binder and it is making a difference. Too simple? Of course. I think the most profound changes begin with the most simple ideas. I’ve just been a little too stubborn to relent and do the obvious.

Yesterday I told you about this year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle and how it is incredibly worth the small investment if only so you can have access to a year’s worth of RightNow Media. Today I’m telling you that along with that package comes so much more. Even the resources you see and think, “Meh, that’s not for me” might actually be exactly right for you if you ask God to show you what you need. (i.e. Laura is unorganized. She skipped the organization section without even a glance. That’s the section she needs most right now. Amen and amen.)

I encourage you to look into this with an open mind. I’m sure glad I did!

The links included are my affiliate links. 

Tell me your status with being organized. Are you like me – organized in some ways but not others? Where do you shine? Where do you need a little extra guidance? 

P.S. Notice how I didn’t show you picture proof of how my closet doors don’t close. Be grateful.

Calling All Christian Families! (Because Surely We Can Do Better Than “Fuller House”)

I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who was excited about the new arrival of Fuller House on Netflix.

Family Friendly TV2

Sure, I knew it would be cheesy (have mercy). I knew there would be canned laughter (how rude). But I’d loved Full House back in the day. I looked forward to revisiting this part of my childhood and sharing it with my family. (Because yes. I was planning to make my teenage boys sit down and watch it with me. At least the first episode. Just for me. I don’t ask much.)

I will say this after watching a few episodes (by myself): It was fun to revisit the old characters. It’s super neat that they recreated the show to be a new version of what Full House was back in the day. I loved seeing the little girls all grown up. I love the idea of friends and family pitching in to work together to help a mama in need.

But I wish I wasn’t also quite disappointed. I wish I felt good about making my kids sit through a corny episode with me. But shoot. I decided I just can’t go there. There was just too much I’d rather them not hear – and quite a bit I didn’t want them to see. They see and hear plenty out in the real world. No sense plopping it right in our living room.

If you’ve decided that it’s an okay show for your family, I’m not here to argue. Our family has chosen some other shows to watch that some might find questionable. We all have convictions for our families. Much depends on our kids’ ages and maturity. I actually think Fuller House doesn’t work for us because my boys are older. (Smaller kids might be oblivious to some of the dress code and innuendos? Maybe?)

Well anyway.

I have better things to talk about than the good and the bad of Fuller House. I think all of us have probably said at one point, “Isn’t there anything good to watch? Is there anything we can let our kids watch these days? What is even worth watching anymore?”

I have something to tell you about that is:

  • good to watch.
  • more than okay for our kids.
  • worth your time in front of a screen.
  • fantastic for everyone in the family.

Calling All Christian Families!

Calling All Christian Families!

About three weeks ago, our family discovered and gained access to what is pretty much like “Christian Netflix.” Have you heard of RightNow Media? I hadn’t. It’s actually not open to the public like Netflix. It’s typically only available to churches to purchase subscriptions for their members. It costs a minimum of $149/month!! So, no. I hadn’t heard of it. We didn’t have it. We certainly didn’t know what we were missing.

Now we have it and you can to get it, too.

I don’t mean to sound bossy (since when?) but I’m about to tell you how you can and should get RightNow Media for your family. It won’t cost you even close to $149/month. Shucks, it won’t even cost you $8/month (what we pay for Netflix). I did the math and found that this actually breaks down to just $2.50/month. Worth it?? Yes. So worth it!!

Please check into this because not only is this super inexpensive, it will be a tremendous spiritual blessing to you and your family!

What we’re finding that we love at RightNow Media

Family Friendly/Kid Shows

For starters, there are thousands of family friendly shows and episodes to watch. Some are simply clean and fun, while others teach a good message, and many teach Bible lessons. Love, love, love, love, love.

Right Now Media

Beyond the Kids

Way beyond what are considered to be “Kid Shows” – there are oodles and tons of video resources for teens and adults. The topics range from marriage, finance, mission, outreach, parenting, Christian living, and more. Some are specific to women. Some are specific for men. Some are created for youth.

I’ve been hanging out in the women’s section, where I’ve found some wonderfully encouraging conference speakers to watch from some of my favorite Christian authors and speakers. (Jen Hatmaker!! Beth Moore, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, so many more!) Here’s a screen shot of just some of the choices. They kind of go on forever.

right now media women

There’s more where those came from. And that’s just the Women’s Section.

School and Learning

As if I wasn’t already amazed and loving this resource…I can’t believe how many videos there are that we will be able to use in our school day. We’ve been watching some of the History and Mission/Outreach videos as part of our history/geography study here at the end of the school year. Some of the stories are fascinating! There are also many great shows that I’ll probably add to our science curriculum next year. It’s almost too easy and too good to be true. Here’s a partial screen shot of the History offerings:

right now media history

There’s so much more.

I tried to give you some of the highlights, but I really can’t even begin to tell you all that is available on RightNow Media. Every page continues to amaze me as I look through everything that is offered.

Now that I’m done gushing, let me finally tell you how you can get this.

This offer is only available for six days, so you’ll want to jump on it. The short story is that you’ll pay just $29.97 – and you’ll have access to RightNow Media for an entire year. Since this is not typically offered to individuals, there are a couple of steps to take to gain access. No sweat though. You can do it all in about ten minutes.

I’ll make it easy for you…

How to Get RightNow Media

1. There is a new Ultimate Homemaking Bundle being offered right now, April 27-May 2. It costs $29.97 (for well over $1,000 worth of goods, more on that later).

2. With your bundle purchase comes a free bonus of Molly Green Magazine One-Year Membership. That alone is cool because it’s a $29.00 subscription you get for FREE. But then within that subscription you get complete access to RightNow Media. For no additional cost. 

Molly Green Bonus

The Step by Step

1. Buy the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.
2. Access the Molly Green Magazine Subscription freebie.
3. Follow their links to gain access to RightNow Media.
4. Sign up for an account.

Then RightNow Media is yours for an entire year. For $29.97 total. You can start watching immediately.

Bonus!

What’s funny is that the RightNow Media offer is actually one of the bonus items this year when you purchase the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. I guess I’m turning it upside down a little bit because to me, the RightNow Media offer makes the bundle worth buying – then all the other dozens of resources feel like bonuses to me! I’m all over RightNow Media, then I’m like, “Oh yeah! I get all these eBooks and printables from the bundle too!”

I’ll highlight some of the other features from the bundle as the week goes on. But know that if the only thing you get for your $29.97 investment is a year of RightNow Media, your purchase is worth it. (But yay for all the extras, too!)

Get a year of RightNow Media through May 2 only (but you want it today because then your family can start watching all the videos!!!).

The links in this post are my affiliate links.

Let me know which shows you decide to start with! Women – be sure to check out the conference speakers and listen to some amazing encouragement while you’re folding laundry or taking some down time to feed yourself. (Spiritually, I mean. But who am I kidding? It might be the first time you’ve had a chance to feed your face too.)

30-Day Home Stretch Real Food Menu Plan

Time Sensitive!! —>

This year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle just came out! It’s only being offered for six days (because you can’t discount $1,300 down to $29.97 forever, right?). These are all great resources, but in particular I want to point out the biggest value and best thing for every family who’s every said, “Isn’t there anything we can feel good about watching as a family?” Yes. There is something very good. You won’t believe how good.

Please click to learn more about how you can get RightNow Media (like Netflix for Christians!!) for an entire year with this one time $29.97 purchase of this entire bundle. I’m amazed!!!!

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

I have a 30-Day Real Food Menu Plan for you for the home stretch. Why? Well I don’t know about you, but…

I am all done. 

I don’t care how many pages of Worldly Wise or lessons of Teaching Textbooks (math) are practical to finish in one week. I want the boys to finish. Five days. All of it. Overachieve, children! You can do it. There’s ice cream in it for you when you finish. A double scoop.

All the learning moments? We’ve had ’em galore. They have been precious. We’ll have more next year. Right now we’re in a “just finish it already” mode. Finishing by Friday is entirely possible on most of our subjects. They are pretty motivated (by the ice cream) (and the freedom), so I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to pull it off.

Raise your hand if you’re with me – whether home-school, private, or public school family. Are ya ready for summer break??

Malachi school april

This kid. We wears a suit and tie more than he wears play clothes.
Actually, a suit and tie are his play clothes. #mosthandsomefifthgrader

Our oldest, Asa, finishes his second semester at college and moves home this weekend! He leaves again at the beginning of June to travel for the college, recruiting for YC at various church camps in the Midwest. This is part of my push to finish our school year at home this week. All six of us will be home during the month of May and I’d just rather not be dividing our time between family fun and Algebra.

No matter where you are in your school year, I’m sure we can all use a little help getting the family fed easily!

You may remember that I shared a 30-Day Real Food Back-to-School Menu Plan last August when we were all gearing up for this school year. Now that we’re winding down and probably trying to work harder than ever to get everything done, to make it to all the end-of-school events, and basically survive until summer – I thought it might be nice if I recreated this menu plan for you and offered it again.

The 30-Day Back-to-School Home Stretch! Real Food Menu Plan

We’ll begin with breakfast, head into lunch (for the home-schoolers among us), then land on dinner/supper. Ready to dig in?!

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars 12

30 Real Food Breakfast Ideas (always served with fruit and often served with some sort of additional protein)

  1. Fried eggs on toast
  2. Scrambled cheesy eggs
  3. Breakfast Burritos
  4. Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins
  5. Easy Breakfast Casserole
  6. Dark Chocolate Almond Granola
  7. Giant Breakfast Cookies
  8. Instant Oatmeal Packets
  9. Pancake and Sausage Muffins
  10. Whole Wheat Waffles
  11. Coconut Flour Muffins
  12. Quick Mix Pancakes
  13. Homemade Poptarts
  14. Raspberry Oatmeal Bars
  15. Peanut Butter Snack Bars
  16. Peanut Butter Breakfast Cake
  17. Coconut Fudge Bars
  18. Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins
  19. Quick Mix Biscuits
  20. Low Sugar Carrot Cake
  21. Lemon Bread
  22. Ham and Egg Breakfast Bowls
  23. Grape Nuts Cereal
  24. Crepes
  25. Breakfast Cake Muffins
  26. Honey Cinnamon Muffins
  27. Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
  28. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins
  29. Strawberry Cream Muffins
  30. Peanut Butter Pancakes

Muffin Tip: Make muffin batter ahead and put it into the freezer like this so that you can easily bake them fresh as needed in the mornings!

Tuna Melts on Spinach

30 Real Food Lunch Ideas (always served with 2-4 fruits and veggies. If I’m serving salad, I usually serve some sort of bread to fill my men)

  1. Tuna Salad
  2. Tuna Melts on Spinach
  3. Pasta Salad Bar
  4. Meat and Cheese Burritos
  5. Easy Noodle Stir Fry
  6. Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad
  7. Pizza Boats
  8. Baked Potatoes in the Crock Pot with whatever toppings we have available
  9. Homemade pizza (crusts already made – boys build/bake their own)
  10. Spanish Rice
  11. Taco Salad
  12. Easy Cheesy Bean Dip with chips
  13. Chicken Tacos
  14. Black Bean Chicken Nachos
  15. BLT Chopped Salad
  16. BLT Wraps
  17. Bacon, Egg, and Avocado Salad
  18. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (with turkey or ham if I have some)
  19. Scrambled Egg Sandwiches
  20. Creamy Mac and Cheese
  21. Healthier Cheese Dip with chips
  22. Real Food Meat and Velveeta Dip with chips
  23. Taco Quesadillas
  24. Tuna Casserole
  25. Chicken Burritos
  26. Plain Quesadillas
  27. Hamburger Patties
  28. Beef Summer Sausage with cheese and crackers
  29. Corn Dog Muffins
  30. Cheesy Salsa Burgers (from Eat Right Away: Beef Edition)

Grilled BBQ Chicken

Dinner/Supper (always served with 2-4 fruits and veggies)

  1. Cheesy Salsa Enchiladas
  2. Grilled Barbeque Chicken
  3. Italian Cream Cheese Chicken
  4. Mongolian Beef (from Eat Right Away: Slow Cooker Beef Edition)
  5. Quick Mix Pancakes with Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
  6. Barbecue Cranberry Chicken (from Eat Right Away: Slow Cooker Chicken Edition)
  7. Sloppy Joes
  8. Cheeseburger Macaroni
  9. Easy Apricot Chicken (from Eat Right Away: Chicken Edition)
  10. Turkey Sausage and Red Bean Stew
  11. Taco Potatoes
  12. Beefy Enchilada Bake
  13. Baked Ziti (from Eat Right Away: Beef Edition)
  14. Baked Three Cheese Chicken Pasta
  15. Garden Veggie Chicken Skillet
  16. Spaghetti
  17. Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole (from Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks)
  18. Popcorn Chicken
  19. Bacon-Wrapped Individual Meatloaves (from Eat Right Away: Beef Edition)
  20. Italian Pasta Bake
  21. Salmon Patties
  22. Teriyaki Chicken and Veggies
  23. Grilled Salmon
  24. Grilled Burgers
  25. Fiesta Chicken
  26. Sour Cream Enchiladas (from Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks)
  27. Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole
  28. Lamb Chops
  29. Hawaiian Beef and Rice (from Eat Right Away: Slow Cooker Beef Edition)
  30. Grilled Steak

30 Day Real Food Home-Stretch-School Menu Plan

Learning Resources and Freebies Made Easy

How would you like a downloadable version of this?! Learning Zone members can download this FREE 30-Day Real Food Menu Plan Resource to keep handy during this busy time of year.

Are you part of the Heavenly Homemaker’s Learning Zone? We’re frequently offering free printable learning resources you won’t want to miss! If you are a mom, an educator, or in any way spend time with children – I invite you to join the fun of the Learning Zone!

Download the 30-Day Real Food Menu Plan Resource

On Thursday I Killed the Chicken (so I took pictures)

Time Sensitive!! —>

This year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle just came out! It’s only being offered for six days (because you can’t discount $1,300 down to $29.97 forever, right?). These are all great resources, but in particular I want to point out the biggest value and best thing for every family who’s every said, “Isn’t there anything we can feel good about watching as a family?” Yes. There is something very good. You won’t believe how good.

Please click to learn more about how you can get RightNow Media (like Netflix for Christians!!) for an entire year with this one time $29.97 purchase of this entire bundle. I’m amazed!!!!

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Of course I got excited when I found antibiotic-free, hormone-free, happy-happy chicken marked down for quick sale on Wednesday. I bought a sack full and planned to throw it on the grill to have with salads at lunch the next day. It would be easy, delicious, and nourishing. It was bone-in, so I could cook the chicken slow and low while still getting little bits of work done around the house. Yep. I had it all planned out.

Around 11:45 I fired up the grill. The chicken soon started to sizzled happily. I went back into the house for a few minutes. After all, the chicken didn’t need a babysitter.

Except that apparently it did.

When I went back outside after “letting the chicken cook low and slow” for several minutes, I noticed that the outside of the grill looked slightly discolored. Weird. I also noticed that the air didn’t smell like yummy chicken. It smelled…burned. Weird.

I opened the grill. WHAT????? Noooooooo!

Check it out. I killed the chicken.

burned chicken

I don’t know what actually took place in the few minutes between placing the chicken on the grill and going back to check on it, but judging from the looks of things, I’m thinking the entire interior of the grill caught fire. (I guess the fat from the skin of the chicken was just too drippy?)

Score none for Mom. (I mean, I didn’t burn down the entire house, so I guess I’ll take a half a point for that.)

I immediately got mad at the burned chicken. I got mad at the grill. Mad at myself. Mad at the kids (because when I apologized to them and told them what happened, a couple of them came back at me with attitude about “having to eat leftovers again.” Then I got mad at myself again for raising children who would actually complain about leftovers.

It was my finest hour.

I even went so far as to decide not to take any stupid pictures or write a stupid post about it. (As you can see, I’ve chilled out since Thursday.)

Sometimes I can burn chicken and laugh about it. Thursday was not one of those days. I had too much to do, not enough time, and I needed lunch to cook itself. When it didn’t – I snapped.

I know life isn’t perfect and I’ll never arrive at perfect homemaker, perfect mom, perfect wife, perfect chicken cooker. I know this. But I guess I still want the status of practically perfect. Why is that? Why is it that I ruin lunch and get mad? Why is it that after running around for three days this weekend serving people, loving people, and being with my family – I look at my filthy kitchen and get frustrated that I can’t do it all?

I guess where I land is that I constantly need truth checks. What is truth? Am I failing or not doing enough? Most importantly:

What does God ask of me?

Truth tells me that my dirty kitchen and burned chicken are a tiny piece of my daily puzzle and that other pieces are bigger and carry more weight. Truth tells me that many of my daily puzzle pieces fit together perfectly, even without me trying. Truth tells me that I don’t have to do all and be all because Jesus already is. Truth tells me that I’m rocking this job even when I don’t – because Christ’s power is made perfect in my weaknesses.

These thoughts are brought to you today by completely blackened chicken and a sink full of crusty pots and pans with a side of crumbs and sticky counter-tops.

I had to pray over my mess, and these are the truths that rose to the top. I guess it’s a good thing I decided to take a picture of that chicken.

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So much better than blackened chicken…

Don’t miss this year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

 

Stir-and-Pour Chocolate Swirl Bread

Let us not miss the irony of the timing of this post. As you know, I currently have no oven. As great as this Stir-and-Pour Chocolate Swirl Bread recipe is, I cannot bake any right now. I made this last week before my oven died and I’m just now getting around to posting about it.

Chocolate Swirl BreadYou though. You probably all have ovens. On behalf of my oven-less self, won’t you please bake this bread for your family? It would make me so happy. (My request is not completely selfish. It should also make you happy. Because chocolate. And homemade bread.)

Side note: I made some measurement adjustments and tried the regular Stir-and-Pour Bread recipe in my crock pot yesterday. I figured if it works to bake quick bread in a crock pot, I could try making a yeast bread. It turned out….not great. I’m determined though. I’m gonna keep tweaking and try again. In the meantime, feel free to make fun of this way too crusty on the outside, weirdly chewy in the middle attempt at crock pot bread…

Crock Pot Bread Fail

But moving on to share how to bake this Stir-and-Pour Chocolate Swirl Bread in an actual oven. This is made in a similar way to the Stir-and-Pour Cinnamon Swirl Bread. Seeing as we don’t have to knead this bread (hallelujah!) it’s a bit hard to actually roll this out and make lovely swirls. I simply layered this bread. I put one-third of the dough into the pan, then spread on 1/2 of the chocolate layer. Then I spread in another third of the bread dough, and spread on the remaining half of the chocolate. Finish by spreading on the last of the bread dough. Bake. Slice. Eat. Appreciate the fact that you have an oven. Amen.

Stir-and-Pour Chocolate Swirl BreadYum

Stir-and-Pour Chocolate Swirl Bread
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat)
  • 2 teaspoons active rise yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons sucanat or sugar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons milk or water
Instructions
  1. Stir together flour, yeast, sucanat, salt, and water.
  2. Cover and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
  3. In a small saucepan, cook and stir together the honey, cocoa, and water until smooth.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Pour ? of the mixture into a well-buttered loaf pan.
  6. Spread ½ of the chocolate mixture over the dough.
  7. Spread another ? of the dough over the chocolate layer.
  8. Sprinkle remaining ½ of the chocolate mixture over the dough.
  9. Spread remaining dough over the top.
  10. Bake in a 350° for 50-60 minutes or until evenly browned.
  11. Allow it to sit in the pan for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove the loaf to let it cool completely before slicing.

Stir and Pour Chocolate Swirl Bread

Other Stir-and-Pour Bread variations include:

Raise your hand if you love this Stir-and-Pour Bread and all the greatness it offers!!

How to Feed Your Family When Your Oven is Broken

How is it that I feed my family all summer without turning on the oven, but right now I’m like, “Oh no! My oven is broken! What will we eat? How will I cook?”

I’d grill but it’s been rainy and drizzly for several days. This rain makes me want to bake. Of course. Poor me. I’m stuck with only my stove-top, electric skillet, fryer, blender, food processor, and crock pot. As you can see, I’m practically without any options.

Heavenly Homemaker's Messy Kitchen

The good news:

I think I’m getting my dream stove/oven out of this!!!

When the oven went out on Sunday, producing banana bread that was crispy on top but more like tepid, stringy banana pudding in the middle (so yum), Matt spent some time (once again) trying to fix it. Could he fix it? Yes. But after a while, he was over it. He surprised me with an offer. “How would you like to go shopping for a new oven?”

I thought he was kidding. We always just make do. If it breaks, we fix it. If it’s barely hanging on, we hang on with it. Therefore I kidded back with, “Yes! I want it to be a double oven! Also, I want to get rid of the electric hook up and instead hook up gas! Let’s go shopping for a gas range with a double oven!”

And Matt was like, “Hmm. Sounds good.” {Laura passes out.}

I’d never shared these dreams with him before. But knowing how much I cook and bake (which of course benefits him greatly), and how lame our stove/oven have been for so many years, I think Matt decided it was time to fork it out for a quality appliance.

I might have started acting like a five year old who was getting a double oven for Christmas. Sure, it was hard for me to think about paying extra for my dream range. But we were going to have to drop some money on a new range anyway. Might as well get the one that benefits our family and guests the most.

More good news:

You guys, not only am I going to have a double oven – I’m gonna have gas. I’m also going to say it like that to everyone I meet because it catches people off guard and makes us all giggle. I’ll say, “I haven’t had gas for years, but Matt is awesome and surprised me. So now I have gas. Finally!!” And then my friends will say, “Laura has gas! We are so happy for her.”

Won’t that just be so much fun? 

In the meantime, I still don’t have an oven.

One doesn’t drop that much money without first doing research to decide which is the best option for purchase. (We’re looking at one like this. It’s one of the least expensive, if you can believe it. Cha-ching!) While I’m waiting for the range to come in and be installed, I decided to make a list of non-oven great food options. There are hundreds. I’ll just make a list based on what I have on hand and what is on sale this week.

Funny, by the way, that since I know I can’t bake, all I can think of are foods I want to bake. That’s the main reason I’m making this list. I have to get my mind off of cake.

Meals You Can Make Without an Oven

Food I Can Make While My Oven is Broken

I had decided that breakfast is the trickiest, but as I look through this page of Breakfast Recipe Ideas, I’m finding quite a bit to work with. I have no idea why I’m making this hard. I’m just spoiled, that’s all.

Score!!! (Time Sensitive!)

This year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle just came out. In it? A bunch of new Crock Pot recipes. How did they know I needed this right now??

 

These eBooks are only part of what is included in the bundle this time. It amazes me! My favorite is this so please check into it!!

Links to My Favorite Non-Oven Appliances

In case you’re interested, this is what I have in my kitchen. These will all be used double time this week, you can be sure!

  • My Crock Pot
  • My Electric Skillet (This is 60% off right now!)
  • My Cast Iron Griddle (Also being offered a huge discount right now if you need one. Only $22!)
  • My Blender (Pricey but worth it)
  • My Waffle Iron (It’s a cheapo)
  • My Fryer (Mine is actually a little different than that, but they don’t seem to make mine anymore.)
  • My Toaster Oven (I do NOT recommend this one. It’s cheap and burns toast. I had one like this before but when we broke the door I was too stingy to pay that much again. I regret the “money savings” – something I’m trying to keep in mind while shopping for a double oven.)

As you can see, I’ll still be able to make huge messes in my kitchen and my children won’t even starve while I am without an oven. There are loads of options.

As soon as I have gas, I’ll let you know. If that isn’t something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.

Do you have any non-oven recipe ideas to share? How about double-oven purchasing advice? Gas related thoughts? Really. I’m open to just about anything you’d like to share. 

Lodge Cast Iron Griddle – Only $22.00!

Just a quick post to share that one of my favorite kitchen tools is 52% off right now!!!

Amazon has the Lodge LDP3 Reversible Double Play Grill & Griddle back on sale again for only $22.00.  I grabbed one of these a few months ago and am loving it!

lodge griddle

How to use your cast iron griddle

It’s great for pancakes, great for grilled cheese sandwiches, and great for my Cheesy Cauliflower Cakes recipe. I love that I can crank out a lot of food at one time because of this large cooking space. The griddle covers two stove-top burners. Once I get the heat regulated, this griddle works awesome!

My fav pancake recipes for your dining pleasure:

Grab your griddle before the price goes up. This price is amazing!!

This post contains affiliate links.

Low Sugar Butterscotch Bars

It’s a happy day. Gather ’round, my friends. I’ll share the secret of how we can remake a Heavenly Homemaker’s classic recipe, Butterscotch Bars, into Low Sugar Butterscotch Bars.

butterscotch bars 1

We have Colleen to thank for this. She’s the one who emailed me after I shared my Low Sugar Chocolate Fudge Cookie recipe, asking how I thought my Butterscotch Bars would turn out if we cut the sugar.

I wasn’t confident. While I’ve found that many recipes work amazingly well when we cut the sugar, the two I felt might have to stay sugar-full were the Butterscotch Bars and Chocolate Fudge Brownies.

But you never know until you try, right? Last week I shared that indeed, we can make Low Sugar Chocolate Brownies – proving myself wrong that it just wasn’t possible. Today I’m sharing that sugar in the Butterscotch Bars can be cut too! Boom!

Low Sugar Butterscotch BarsYum

Low Sugar Butterscotch Bars
 
Author:
Serves: 15 bars
Ingredients
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • ½ cup sucanat or brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour (regular white whole wheat flour works too)
Instructions
  1. Cream melted butter and sucanat together.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Stir in flour and mix well.
  4. Spread mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  5. Bake in a 350° oven for 20 minutes.

Low Sugar Butterscotch Bars

Confession: I love these low sugar bars. I actually find that they are still almost too sweet for me so I can only have a tiny sliver. My family thinks they’re good. But when I made a pan of Butterscotch Bars for a houseful of college kids last week, I made the full sugar version.

If you’re going for a treat that’s rich and gooey – you’ll want to make the regular 2-cups of sugar (gag me) Butterscotch Bars. But if you want a treat that is lightly sweetened and deliciously tasty (just not ooey gooey super sweet) – this Low Sugar Butterscotch Bar recipe is what you want!

Find more Low Sugar Treats here. You guys – the list is getting long!! I’m loving this!