Free Haircut Tutorial! How To Cut Long Layers in 5 Minutes

Do you all remember how I used to cut my own hair? Oh my stars, I’d rather not reminisce about it too much. I was terribly unskilled at it. But hey, it saved a lot of money.


Noooo! Don’t do it!


Nine years later, I’m thankful to say that I’ve gotten professional help (in more ways than one). My hair now has actual layers that match on both sides. It curls nicely. It behaves most days.

But what if it IS possible to cut your own hair and have it actually look nice when you’re done? What if?!

hair cut tutorial

Most of you know I’ve been working with Paula, a Lilla Rose consultant for many, many years. She’s the one who changed my life with Flexi-Clips! She has several daughters, all of whom have gorgeous hair. Without hesitation, I would call her a “Hair Expert” because she’s been working with and studying hair beautification for many, many years. So when she said, “Hey Laura! Did you know it’s possible to cut long layers in 5 minutes?” I definitely took notice.

Un-be-liev-able! Where was this tutorial back in 2008 when I was struggling through my own pitiful haircuts for 2 hours at a time? I can’t believe how simple Paula makes this! If you have anyone at all in your life with long hair, you must go download Paula’s Free Haircut Tutorial! Even if no one in your life has long hair and you will never cut anyone’s hair and everyone you live with is bald, you should check it out just to be as fascinated as I was!

After you’ve picked up your freebie, then you must to sign up for this amazing giveaway Paula is offering. Truly, it is amazing.

She has offered to give away not one but TEN Flexi-Clips! Eeeeeeee!!

There will be ten winners of this giveaway, so your chances of winning are quite good. If you are one of the ten winners, you’ll get to choose any Flexi-Clip you want (up to $17 value). Isn’t this fun!!

Go check out all the fun Flexi options and start drooling over what you’ll pick if you win. Sign up for this giveaway in the Rafflecopter below. I’ll draw 10 random winners on Tuesday, August 22!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What Happens When You Ask Your 15-Year Old Son to Open Your First Aid Kit

It’s amazing that in our household of four boys we haven’t been to the emergency room more often {knocks on wood}.

Our oldest son holds the record for “most times in the ER for stitches.” For once, his brothers are okay with losing a competition. But by the way – why is it that most “emergencies” take place after normal business hours? (And why does a tiny piece of gauze cost $52 in the ER? Did you know you also pay a fee for the tray that holds the gauze? I am very serious.) I’d like to request that in the future, all accidents should take place between the hours of 8:00a-8:00p where stitches cost a fraction of the price. Is this too much to ask?

Just a few weeks ago, our youngest took a pretty hard spill off his bike – after normal business hours, of course. Not that I think about money when my child is bleeding. But still.

My husband was a rock star and spent about an hour and a half getting him cleaned up, comforted, and bandaged. Thankfully, we didn’t need an ER visit this time, and Malachi limped along for a few days while he healed up. The timing of Malachi’s fall was perfect (as if there’s ever a perfect time to fall off your bike?). What I mean is – we’d just received this First Aid Kit as a review item and were so very grateful to have all its contents on hand just when we needed it!

macgill first aid kit

It contains everything a family needs to handle basic emergencies at home so a wound will be cleaned and bandaged properly. It holds everything from cold compresses to eye wash to bandages and gloves. We’ll probably keep ours in the car to have at all our sporting events. I’m not sure why we hadn’t thought of this genius idea before!

But allow me to share when I heard when I first asked my 15-year old son to unpack our new First Aid Kit and give me an idea of all it contained:

“Let’s see. Here is a bandage to use when someone gets stabbed. Here is a pair of small scissors…to cut out bullets. Here is a handy little barf bag…” And on he went…

Yes. For all of our many bullet removal and stab wound needs, we are now prepared, thanks to the MacGill First Aid Kit. And in a less likely, practically unimaginable event that one of our kids falls off his bike or turns an ankle on the basketball court, I suppose we’ll be prepared for that too.

We were especially impressed that the MacGill First Aid Kit came with so many items we didn’t already have but really do need. Sure we’ve always had bandaids and ointmen in our cabinet. But this little kit holds such a variety of helpful items beyond bandaids. And the best is that it holds a simple but thorough instruction card so that in the case of an emergency, we can reference it to see how to properly proceed with treating a wound.

Definitely check out this First Aid Kit! What a great family tool to have on hand.

You can win a free one when you enter the Rafflecopter below! I’ll draw a random winner on Wednesday, July 26.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Special thanks to the folks at MacGill for sending this First Aid Kit my way!

With the High Price of Vanilla Beans, Should You Make Homemade Vanilla Right Now?

I’ve been making Homemade Vanilla since 2009. Why?

  • To save money
  • So I can trust my vanilla to be pure and healthy
  • Because Homemade Vanilla is ridiculously delicious

How To Make Vanilla Extract

See, most vanilla extracts on the market have sugar added. I don’t want that, of course. Also, most have been watered down, so they aren’t as strong and flavorful as I’d like. But Homemade Vanilla is completely pure, extremely flavorful, easy to make, and makes awesome gifts! However…

The price of vanilla beans has risen drastically.

In the past three years, the price of vanilla beans has gotten crazy high! Making Homemade Vanilla used to be super cost effective, saving oodles of money compared to buying it. Since there are so many other benefits to making it, it became a no-brainer to me!

But now there’s a major vanilla bean shortage, so the price has risen dramatically. (This stinks for those of us who want to make vanilla, but my research tells me that this is a much worse situation for farmers whose livelihood depends on good crops. We are simply inconvenienced; but these farmers are hurt deeply by this. With this news, suddenly my concern for my homemade vanilla price takes a back seat in the world of “what actually matters.”)

With the high cost of Vanilla Beans, does it still make sense to make Homemade Vanilla Extract

Does it still save money to make Homemade Vanilla?

Having said all of this, I wanted to share that I recently crunched some numbers again to see if it even made sense to make a batch of homemade vanilla right now. I was pleasantly surprised, and want to share my findings with you!

The upfront cost still seems high, but read all the way through to discover how to get the most bang for your buck.

It is most cost effective to make a gallon of Homemade Vanilla at once, instead of making a small batch. A gallon will last a very long time, or you can use it for gifts! (Homemade Vanilla is an awesome gift at Christmas for friends, family members, and teachers!!)

Price Break-Down to make a gallon of Homemade Vanilla

50 Vanilla Beans: $200
3.5 liters of 35% alcohol Vodka: $30
Total Cost: $230
Price per ounce: $1.80

This makes an 8-ounce bottle cost $14.40.

Remember, the quality of vanilla is ultra strong, not watered down, with no added sugar.

Cost of High Quality Purchased Vanilla

Imitation Vanilla is made of nothing real, so I recommend avoiding it even though it’s cheap. The best pre-made “pure” Vanilla Extract I could find at Azure Standard costs $2.20/ounce.

This makes an 8-ounce bottle cost $17.60. This is more expensive than homemade, but more importantly —–>

Note the ingredient list of this purchased vanilla (listed in this order):

  • water
  • 35% alcohol vodka
  • vanilla bean extractives

Not only is purchased vanilla extract more expensive, it is watered down, so not nearly as strong.

So Homemade Vanilla Extract wins the prize for being lower in cost and entirely pure.

Which leads me to my best advice and even better news about the cost:

Use Half the Amount and Cut the Cost in Half!

Because the Homemade Vanilla Extract is so very potent, I recommend that you use half the amount called for in a recipe. Doing this will double how long an 8-ounce bottle will last!

Therefore, the $14.40 it costs to make 8-ounces of Homemade Vanilla will last you twice as long, giving you what store-bought 16-ounce bottle gives. In this way, you can think of your 8-ounces of homemade vanilla being broken into TWO 8-ounce bottles which cost only – drum roll please –

$7.20 each.

And with that, I absolutely recommend that we all still make Homemade Vanilla Extract!


I forgot we get 20% off!!!

Good grief. I can’t believe I wrote this entire post and forgot to figure in the fact that Olive Nation gives Heavenly Homemakers readers 20% off! Time to crunch new numbers! I’ve been working with them for many years now, and they are happy to give us a discount. (They’ve been keeping me up to date on vanilla bean shortages and prices too. I love working with them.)

Get the best quality vanilla beans at the best price here. Use the code home to get 20% off, a code made exclusively for Heavenly Homemakers readers! Get free shipping when your order is over $50.

Discounted cost for Homemade Vanilla Extract

50 Vanilla Beans $160.00
3.75 ounces Vodka $30.00

Total cost: $190.00 (woot!)

Per ounce breakdown: $1.48/ounce
Price for 8-ounces of Homemade Vanilla: $11.84


Make Vanilla For Christmas Gifts

One last note! Most everyone loves receiving Homemade Vanilla Extract as a Christmas gift! Because it takes 4-6 months for vanilla beans to “extract” I recommend you start a batch right away to have it ready to give in December.

I think that about covers it. Any questions? (I’m actually at church camp right now so answers will probably be delayed!) I’m so glad I finally crunched the numbers instead of continuing to cringe over the bean prices!

Free Shipping and 50% off Palm Shortening at the Same Time!! (Stock Up!)

It is a rare thing when Tropical Traditions (now called Healthy Traditions) offers free shipping and a big discount on their Palm Shortening at the very same time. I look out for this and always give it a shout-out as soon as I hear about it.

The time is now!


Usually they knock their Palm Shortening down to 40% off. This time it’s a whoppin’ 50% off.

This is the time to stock up!

To avoid paying shipping on this gem is a huge money saver. And obviously paying half price is rockin!


Whole Wheat Quick Baking Mix – amazing stuff, made with Palm Shortening!

What to do with Palm Shortening

I keep Palm Shortening on hand at all times to use in any recipe that calls for Crisco. Crisco=BAD. Our bodies don’t like it. But Palm Shortening=GOOD! Our bodies digest this fat and can utilize it for energy!

Warning: Some companies who sell Palm Oil and Palm Shortening are doing so irresponsibly and hurting the forests. I’ve researched this and found that Healthy Traditions is providing this oil for us in every safe and responsible way! That, along with its health benefits, make me always buy Palm Shortening from Healthy Traditions. From their website:

Tropical Traditions Palm Shortening comes from small scale family farms in South America. These farmers are certified by ProForest, which ensures that they meet strict social, environmental and technical criteria. With regard to environmental criteria, the assessments are carried out at the landscape and operational level at both the farms and processing facilities. These assessments cover environmental impact on the soil, water, air, biodiversity and local communities. The lands the farmers use are not lands that were deforested. The lands used to grow the palm fruit are lands previously used for agricultural purposes (cattle, rice, banana).

I use Palm Shortening for these five main purposes and recipes:

Palm Shortening is flavorless, so it will not change the taste of your fried foods or baked goods! We often hear that “all fried food is bad” but it’s important to note that food fried in coconut oil or palm shortening is perfectly healthy! This is because these particular oils can withstand the high temps required for frying without going rancid! There are oh so many French fried reasons to love Palm Shortening!

You can grab your 50% off Palm Shortening here.

Use the code 29617 at check-out for FREE SHIPPING to apply.

Important: This offer expires Saturday night, July 1! 

These are my referral links. Shopping through these links will provide all new referrals with a free Coconut Oil Recipe Book! It is a hard copy and will come automatically in your box.

Enjoy your awesome 1/2 off Palm Shortening and the free shipping that comes with it!

Make Your Family Time Count (Win $50 to spend at Red Rock Traditions!)

As one by one my boys are graduating and leaving home, it has become glaringly clear to me that while most days are crazy and hectic and loud and busy – there are really only a few things in life that actually matter.

The problem? Sometimes the crazy and hectic and loud and busy take over, and all the things we “hope to do with our family some day” never happen. We think we’ll get around to it “when life settles down” or “after I get through this one thing.”

Life doesn’t slow down, there will never be more time, and what we all need to realize is this: If we want good for our family, we need to prioritize it, pray for clarity, and take the next step toward it.

Family prayer time? It doesn’t happen if we don’t schedule it in. Time to read our Bible as a family (or as an individual)? It doesn’t happen if we aren’t intentional. Serving together as a family? It gets tossed by the wayside if you don’t make a plan and execute it. Choosing good in any form? It’s too easy to let the schedule dictate the hours of our day.

I encourage you today (not tomorrow…today) to write down goals you have for your family. What does God want for your tribe? How can you make that happen? The truth is that if God wants it for you, He will provide the time and energy for you to make it happen. It’s as simple as that.

Regarding all things good for our family – and this looks different for each of us! – it can be as simple as sitting around the living room on pillows and bean bags talking about God’s goodness and praying together. But sometimes having something tangible in your home can make a huge difference in helping us carry out a plan or achieve a goal.

red rock 3

Red Rock Traditions is a company that has created many fantastic items for families who want to be intentional about character training and time together. I pulled out a few of my favorites to show you, but I really encourage you to look through the catalog and see what fits your family’s needs best!

red rock 4

My very favorite is this Thankful Hearts/Loving Hearts Guest Book! You can use it to fill with things your family is thankful for, but we got one and we’re going to use it for hospitality! Each time we have a guest, they will sign a wooden heart and slide it into the frame. It will hang on our wall as a loving reminder of all who have blessed our home. We will see their names and pray for them. This will soon be filled with great memories!

red rock 2

I’d love to hear some of the ways your family has chosen to be intentional about your time together. Do you block out family prayer time? Do you set aside time to read the Bible together? What provides you with the best conversation time? How do you schedule this in with busy schedules?

A Blessing for Your Family

Johanna, a Direct Sales Leader with Red Rock Traditions, is giving away a $50 gift certificate for one of you to spend on these fantastic family items! Here’s how this will work:

  • Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win.
  • Look through the Red Rock Traditions catalog and leave a comment here sharing a favorite product you found for your family. This will get you a second entry in the giveaway!
  • Anyone who places an order before the end of June will receive Red Rock Bucks!

For every $25 purchase you will get $5 Red Rock Bucks for your next purchase. For every $75 purchase, you will get $10 Red Rock Bucks for your next purchase. And for every purchase over $150 you will get $20 Red Rock Bucks for your next purchase.

I’ll select a random winner for the $50 gift card on Tuesday, June 27.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Ultimate List of Father’s Day Ideas Starting at $0.00!

This was so much fun at Mother’s Day we put together a Father’s Day list too! Once again, my friend Kim was the genius behind this list. Brilliant, clever, and creative. Check these out!

The Ultimate List of 65 Father's Day Ideas

8 Gifts for Dad That are Free (or Almost Free)

  1. A letter to Dad (25 things I like about you, or top 10 favorite memories)
  2. A hand-drawn picture of you and Dad doing something together
  3. A photo album of pictures of you and Dad
  4. Your favorite picture of the two of you, framed
  5. Vacuum and wash his car or truck
  6. Coupons to help him organize and clean the garage, his workshop or his office
  7. Coupons for cleaning out his car, washing his car, or doing his share of the mowing
  8. Coupons for a batch of his favorite cookies or his favorite meal

Gifts for Dad That Cost $25 or Less


4 for Camping

  1. Single Hammock ($20)
  2. Color-Coded Roasting Sticks ($20)
  3. Two Person Tent ($13 – Amazing Price!)
  4. Biolite Portable Light ($15) If you need to do things in the dark, the USB will also operate this light.  NO batteries, no electricity required.

3 for Baseball

  1. MLB Team Logo Baseball (less than $8)  You choose the team!
  2. Equipment Backpack ($25)
  3. Coffee Mug ($8)

3 for Football

  1. Light-Up Football ($10) So you can play in the dark!
  2. Parking Sign ($18) You choose the team.
  3. 3D Puzzle (like Legos) NFL team characters ($15)  You choose the character.

3 for Golf

  1. Golf Scope ($15)
  2. Tees ($5-$10)
  3. Golf Ball Pick Up Tool ($5)

2 for Fishing and hunting

  1. Portable Fish Scale with Measuring Tape ($10)
  2. Cross Body Tackle Bag ($20+)

1 for all Sports Fans

  1. Chair with its own shade ($23)

6 Great Tools

  1. 3-in-1 Laser Level, tape measure and bubble level with ruler  ($14)
  2. Leatherman Multi-Tool ($25)
  3. Telescoping Magnet ($6) Great for picking up spilled nails, screws and such!
  4. Nice Work Gloves ($14-$15)
  5. Headlamp ($8)
  6. Survival Kit ($13)

3 T-shirts

  1. For Dads with a Sense of Humor
  2. For Dads with Gas and a Sense of Humor
  3. Me and Mini-Me Set

Coffee Mugs

  1. For a Star Wars Fan ($13)
  2. Awesome Dad ($13)
  3. New Dad ($14)

Fun Outdoor Games for Dad (and the Entire Family!)


  1. Kubb ($34)
  2. Lawn Bowling ($21)
  3. Yard Dice  ($38)
  4. Ladder Ball  ($33)
  5. Molkky ($24)
  6. Washer Toss ($20)
  7. Ring Toss ($23)
  8. Frisbee Golf (Disc Golf) Set ($32)
  9. Floating Pong ($16)

Gift for Dad That is On the Pricey Side, But Awesome

biolite stove

Biolite Stove

Note from Kim: This camp stove requires just a little bit of fuel.  (It will burn anything that will burn and can be made small enough to fit inside the stove.)  It is great for roasting hot dogs or marshmallows.  Plus, while it is working, it will charge your device via USB.  With the right pan or pot, you can boil water and cook.  Or, set it beside you to keep warm.

Recipes to Make for Dad


For Breakfast

For Carnivores

For His Sweet Tooth

What ideas do you have for ways to make Father’s Day great?

Some of these links are my affiliate links.

My Big List of Great Book Suggestions (For All Ages!)

A few weeks ago during a soccer game, my friend asked, “What books do you suggest as good family read-alouds?”

Bless my friend, for she did not know what she was getting into when she asked this question so innocently. See, sometimes I answer questions with much animation, with many flailing hands, as if I’m hopped up on caffeine and cannot find my way to the ground. Talking about books produces such a reaction in me, even while huddled under a blanket at a soccer game.

I started giving suggestions of books our family has loved through the years. My friend started jotting notes. I got more and more excited. I kept thinking of more books. She kept jotting. I couldn’t stop, and the list grew longer and longer.

I guess this is the part where I confess that when we got home from this soccer game and Malachi asked, “Did you see me score that goal?!” I suddenly came down off my Farmer-BoyBox-Car-Children high and had to say, “Oohh sorry, Buddy. I was talking again. But remember when we read the Little Britches series?!”


Well, he’ll score other goals and I’m likely to see them. In my defense, I have four soccer-playing sons, so no one can expect me to re-live every goal scoring moment with them, can they? And besides, I’ve read a lot of great books to them all through the years, so I haven’t failed entirely.

My Big List of Great Book Suggestions for all ages

Books, Books, Books

Today, with the help of a friend, we have put together a most amazing list of book suggestions for you and your family. Whether your kids are babies or teenagers, we’ve got book ideas for you. Beyond that, we’ve got book suggestions for grown-ups because sometimes we all need to grab some iced tea and have some down time in the form of a delicious read.

So peruse this list. Look into these books that my friend and I love. Leave comments on this post to tell us which books YOU recommend so we can all check those out too!

While we love checking books out from the library, sometimes it’s great to own a wonderful shelf (or eight) full of books! So we’ve included the Amazon links to each of these for your convenience. Some of these are listed at great prices!

Infant/Toddler Book Suggestions

that's not my book

I Spy Board Books

Goodnight Moon

Runaway Bunny

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (and other books by Eric Carle)

That’s Not My…series from UsBorne (some of which are available on Amazon)

Sandra Boynton’s Greatest Hits

DK Touch and Feel Series

Pre-School Book Suggestions

lift a flap book

Mouse Paint


Little Pink Pup

Richard Scarry Collection

Elephant & Piggie Collection

Knuffle Bunny Series

Lego City Book Set

Lift the Flap Bible Story Books from Reader’s Digest

Little Golden Book Collection

Early Elementary Book Suggestions

mr putney's quacking dog

There is overlap in the Pre-K and the Early Elementary list, so be sure to check both if you have kids in either of these age groups!

Kiss the Cow

The “I’m” Book Series by Kate and Jim McMullan

Mr. Putney’s Quacking Dog

Bad Case of Stripes

Uff Da!

Pinkalicious Storybook Series

Gigi Book Series

Little Bear Series

Frog and Toad Book Collection

Dr. Seuss Book Collection

Make Way for Ducklings

Madeline Book Collection

Curious George Book Collection

Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel

Click, Clack Moo Book Series

Henry and Mudge Book Series

Skippyjon Jones Book Collection

Amelia Bedelia Book Series

Fly Guy Book Series

Diary of a Worm Book Series

I Spy Books

Where’s Waldo Book Collection

Otis the Tractor Book Series

Daddy, Could I Have an Elephant

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Lego Beginning Readers

Later Elementary

boxcar children

Bill Peet Books

Magic Tree House Book Series

Magic School Bus Book Series

Box Car Children Book Series

Encyclopedia Brown Book Series

American Girl Book Series

Tales of Young Americans Book Series

“I Survived” Book Series

Sarah Plain and Tall Book Series

Chicken Squad Book Series

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Clyde Robert Bulla Books

Books by Andrew Clements

Middle School/High School

39 clues

Books by Cynthia Voigt

Mysterious Benedict Society Book Series

Penderwicks Book Series

Storm Runners Book Series

39 Clues Book Series

Secret Cipher Book Series

LOST (involves magic and wizardry)

Anne of Green Gables Book Series

Cooper Kids Book Series

Mandie Book Series

Grandma’s Attic Book Series

Great Family Read Aloud Book Suggestions

ralph moody

Any of the above books are great for reading aloud as well. In addition, I’ve found that if my kids have a hard time getting into a book or a series, I start out reading it to them and they take it from there!

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle

Charlotte’s Web

All of a Kind Family Book Series

Little House of the Prairie Book Series

Little Britches (Ralph Moody) Book Series

Swiss Family Robinson

Chronicles of Narnia Book Series

Adult Fiction

sherlock holmes

Sherlock Holmes and the Needle’s Eye: The World’s Greatest Detective Tackles the Bible’s Ultimate Mysteries

My friend Kim’s review: What if Sherlock Holmes was called in to solve some of the mysteries of the Bible?  IN this book, he answers ten different questions from the Bible.  Even if I did not agree with his answers, I found the writing well done and, more importantly, I found myself searching the Scriptures to find evidence that supported or conflicted with his answers.

Forevermore by Cathy Marie Hake

Kim’s review: Even though this book is part of a series, you can jump right into this one without reading the others.  The main character in this book, Hope, will have you laughing and rolling your eyes at the nonsensical truisms she dispenses.  Heartwarming and kind, this book is a feel-good book.  (PS- The rest of the series is good, too, but this one is my favorite.)

The Cat Who Book Series by Lillian Jackson Braun

Amelia Peabody Book Series by Elizabeth Peters

Mrs. Pollifax Book Series by Dorothy Gilman

This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti

Kim’s review: This series challenged my thinking on the power of prayer and the unseen world of angels and demons.

Overton Window and Agenda 21 by Glenn Beck

The Illuminati by Larry Burkett

Restoration Book Series by Terri Blackstock

Kim’s review: What if something happened and suddenly there was no electricity, no running water, no cars, no cell phones (or landlines), no computers, no electronics of any kind?  What if banks shut down, the post office did not work and there was no more McDonalds or WalMart?  Big life changes for many…  Where would God be in all this?

Adult Non-Fiction

dave ramsey

Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson

Bringing Up Girls by James Dobson

Dare to Discipline by James Dobson

Parenting by the Book by John Rosemond

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover (or take Financial Peace University)

Your Turn!

Leave comments letting us know what books you love and recommend!

Some of these links are my affiliate links.


We were going to be a perfect sponsoring family…

I was compensated by World Vision for my time in writing this post. All opinions are my own.

2015 Sesame Street Trip - Zambia

I had grand plans the first time I signed up to sponsor a child in another country. I was going to write letters monthly and send gifts regularly. I was definitely going to pray daily, and maybe even some day our family would go visit our child.

These were all such good ideas.

We’re on sponsored kid number three now, and I can’t tell you what a blessing it has been to know that our small contribution each month offers so much to our overseas children. We definitely pray for these kids. We occasionally send letters. And once or twice (in eight years), we’ve sent gifts.

I used to feel guilty for not doing more. I wanted to be the perfect sponsoring family, you know? But I’ve since learned that our lack of perfection in this area is trumped by the fact that organizations like World Vision are working full time to make sure children’s needs are met. They work on-site for our sponsored children to offer clean water, school supplies and better education, teacher training, improved nutrition, healthcare clinics, and agricultural training. The best part?

They do it all in the name of Jesus.

More about kid sponsorship in a minute, but first…

Our Family did the 6K for Water!!

Remember the Global 6K for Water I told you about? My family and I did this over the weekend. It was amazing! And also…

It was hard. You might say I’m a little bit sore. Ha! But it was so great to know that what we did helps to provide for families who don’t have clean water accessible to them. We loved using walk time with our family to talk more with our kids about life and needs in other countries.

Here’s a little recap of our experience. First, a pre-6K selfie – while looking into the sun! Our oldest couldn’t join us for this because he was finishing his college finals. So he cheered us on from the campus while the rest of us took off and hit it the road!

walk for water 6

This 6K for Water was organized in an effort to raise awareness and money to help families who normally have to walk about 6K every day to get (dirty) water for their families. Therefore, Matt came up with the idea that not only should our family take part in this 6K, we should take buckets and fill them with dirty water at our half-way point. He wanted to give us an idea of what this walk usually feels like to the children walking so far each day to collect water for their family to drink.

walk for water 2

I can’t believe how great of an experience this was. I also can’t believe how difficult it was. Walking 6K (which equals 3.7 miles) is tough enough. Walking it with full, heavy buckets of water? Super challenging.

walk for water 3

The entire way home, carrying our heavy buckets, after we were already hot and tired made us so very mindful of what families go through every single day. This became so much more than just a walk for us. I am so thankful my family did this, as it was absolutely humbling and rewarding.

walk for water 4

So now what?

If you participated in the 6K for Water, you received a bib with information about a potential child you could sponsor. Did you take a peek at that? Take a moment to pray about whether or not this was something you and your family might like to do. It’s profound to think of the impact your sponsorship can have in changing many lives! If you did take part in this 6K for Water, I’d really love to hear how it went for you!

Whether you participated in the 6K or not, I’d like to encourage you to consider sponsoring a child. As our family has proven time and again, you don’t have to be a perfect sponsoring family. You just have to care enough to say “yes!” Your simple monthly contribution offers much to your child and the community he or she is a part of, then you and your family can go above and beyond in any way you choose.

How child sponsorship through World Vision works:

  • Find a child you want to help. Look forward to the first letter from your child within 6-12 weeks.
  • Your gift helps your sponsored child and their entire community! Your donation combines with gifts from all other sponsors who support kids in the same area. This means long-term resources for everyone!
  • Local staff make your donations go the extra mile. Children don’t get direct cash benefits. Better yet, their staff creates a sustainable plan for funds that keeps communities out of poverty even after they’ve moved on to help other communities!

My World Vision digital experience lets you get regular updates, track community progress, and view photos of your child. You can even send them a letter through email!! ( <—- Now we’re talking about something I would actually keep up with better!)

OH, and here’s something extra cool. Every $1 donated equals $1.30 in impact because of grants and product donations!

You can join World Vision in breaking the cycle of poverty through child sponsorship. Please pray about this ministry and check into child sponsorship here.

Did you take part in the 6K for Water? If so, how did it go for you?

42 of My Favorite Mother’s Day Ideas From $0 (Dads and Kids, This is for You!!)

Did I ever tell you about the first birthday my husband and I celebrated together as a married couple? He was used to birthdays being super low key, and I was used to birthdays being ALL ABOUT ME PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

So when I woke up on my birthday and Matt didn’t even mention it, I didn’t know what to do with that. (Yes I did. I cried.)

As the day went on and he still didn’t mention it, I went from sad to mad. At about 3:00 in the afternoon when he finally said something like, “I guess I should run to the store and get your something for your birthday.” I was like, “You’ve had 364 days to get me something for my birthday!!!!!

Low Sugar Chocolate Cake

Cake? There was no cake.

Ahh, fun newlywed memories.

Matt and I have learned a thousand-trillion or more lessons since those days. He is wonderful now about making days special for me, and I’m way more laid back about what I expect and want. So 22 years after my first married birthday, we’ve landed in our holiday happy place. Hopefully you have too.

The Mother’s Day Count-Down is On

I don’t know how you do holidays and special occasions at your house. But I thought you should know that as of today, there are 11 days to get ready for Mother’s Day. If ordering gifts is a thing your people do for you, I’ve done my part in making it easy. If making you food for the day is something they do, I’ve compiled a list.

Moms, look over this fantastic list. (I had help from a friend in putting it together. It is brilliant. My friend is brilliant.) Highlight your favorites, then forward this to all the people in your life who should act on this list.

Gifts for Mom that are Free (or Almost Free)

1. Coupons for extra chores, such as help with spring cleaning, gardening, cleaning out the garage (or basement or attic), washing windows, etc.

2. Love Notes – i.e. List ten reasons why you love and appreciate her.

Why I Love Mom Printable

Swipe and download these FREE “Why I Love Mom” Notes to fill in!

3. Hand-Drawn pictures of you and Mom

4. Pictures of you and Mom together – could be framed if you like.

5. A copy of her favorite book and a coupon for her to have time to read it!!! (Check used bookstores and thrift stores for inexpensive copies of her favs.)

Gifts for Mom that are Under $25

6. Donate to her favorite charity in her name

7. Package up her favorite candles, lotion, coffee, tea, or other guilty pleasure – like chocolate!


8. This Butterfly Suncatcher is so pretty!

9. On the more practical side: here’s a fantastic Stainless Steel Knife Set in a Wooden Block.

10. And another Stainless Steel Knife Set in an Acrylic Stand.

mothers day knives

11. This Wood Picture Photo Frame for Wall Decor is so cute I can’t stand it.

mother day frame

12. Look how pretty this Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser Necklace is!!

13. And even prettier – this Floating Living Memory Locket Pendant Necklace!

mother's day necklace

14. If you have little ones, this Thank you God for Mommy book makes me melt.

thank you mother day

15. What a great idea: a Q&A 5-Year Journal for Moms

16. Or how about Mommy’s 5-Year Memory Book?

17. Or a What I Love About Mom fill-in-the-blank book!

18. I have two of these sets of Pyrex Bowls with Lids and use them approximately 40 times every day.

pyrex bowls 2

More than $25, but worth it…

19. Has she said anything to you about making Homemade Vanilla? Vanilla beans are on the pricey side right now, but Olive Nation gives us a 20% discount and this might be a fun time to get her started on this. Get the details here. 

How To Make Vanilla Extract

20. This Cook N Home 12-Piece Stainless Steel Set is amazing. She will make you good food in this. 

stainless steel cookware

21. If you really, really want to knock her socks off, get her a BlendTec (and then help her put her socks back on). It will last forever and be invaluable to her.


Now let’s talk food

Dear Family Members of All the Mothers: If you do nothing else for Mom this year, feed her. Don’t let her cook. Don’t let her wash the dishes. And don’t even think about saving any dirty dishes for her to do on Monday. I have spoken.

Here are some great food ideas that are easy to make and always a hit. Pick what Mom will love the most!

For Her Sweet Tooth


22. Butterscotch Bars

23. Death by Chocolate

24. Peanut Butter Honey Fudge

For Breakfast in Bed

ham and egg cups1

25. Easy Breakfast Casserole

26. Hot Vanilla Milk

27. Breakfast Pizza

28. Easy Ham and Egg Breakfast Bowls

Lunch and Dinner Ideas


29. Salmon Patties

30. Simple Garlic Butter Shrimp

31. Simple Oven Fried Chicken

32. Creamy Bacon Spaghetti

Lightly (but perfectly) Sweetened

chocolate cheesecake parfait

33. Low Sugar Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits (my favorite in the world!)

34. Low Sugar Chocolate Cheesecake Parfaits

35. Low Sugar Chocolate Whipped Cream

36. Low Sugar Chocolate Cake

37. Pineapple Cream Dessert (naturally dairy and gluten free!)

38. Strawberry Shortcake

Coffee and Other Fun Drinks

Stevia Sweetened Chocolate Frappe

39. Chocolate Frappe

40. Coffee Milkshake 

41. Sparkling 100% Juice

The Gift of Time

42. If she doesn’t have this already, get her a Simple Meals subscription. This will save her hours every week!! There’s a $10 off coupon code here.



If you still need more ideas, I’ve got some listed here.

42 Favorite Mother's Day Ideas from $0

Moms, leave a comment here to share: What is your favorite way to be spoiled on Mother’s Day?

Some of these links are my affiliate links.

Jenuinely Pure – Non-Toxic Cleaning Products Giveaway

Some of my favorite cleaning products include the very cheap and non-exciting: vinegar and water. And also washrags. Children are also a great help. (Let’s hear it for teaching our kids the importance of doing chores around the house.)

Well, water and vinegar (and children) are all well and good, but sometimes we need more than that – for the tougher jobs (as if all cleaning isn’t tough, but don’t worry, I won’t start my typical “I don’t like to clean” whining fit).

jenuinely pure

This Jenuinely Pure All-Purpose Cleaner is the one I’ve used on my shower that left my husband asking, “Who came and installed a new shower in our bathroom?” Yep. It got the shower THAT clean.

I personally love that not only does this work very well, it is completely organic and non-toxic. And if all that isn’t great enough, it truly lives up to its “all-purpose” title. I mean windows, carpet, bathrooms, kitchens – one cleaner really does do it all!

Jenuinely Pure All-Purpose Cleaner boasts:

Safe and effective on all surfaces in your home – use in kitchens & bathrooms, spray lightly to clean windows & mirrors and floors; treat stains on clothing and carpet, dust wood surfaces…leaves surfaces clean, streak-free and smelling fresh. Plus, the essential oils used in this cleaner are known for their antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

Jenuinely Pure also has a great variety of products from Bar Soaps (super high quality, wonderful smelling, luxurious!) to Foaming Hand Soap and Gentle Baby Products.

These Jenuinely Pure products are worth trying. They are hoping this 20% off code will tempt you! (Use 20%off at checkout)

Not only that, they are giving away two $20 gift certificates to spend in their store. Want a chance to win? Enter the Rafflecopter below. I’ll draw two random winners on Tuesday, April 18.

a Rafflecopter giveaway