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!

vanilla_beans

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

vanilla

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!

Join our Family Summer Reading Party (for a chance to win prizes like a $50 Amazon Gift Card!)

Is it just me, or does a library have a certain smell? This statement is not to be compared with how I describe my front closet during soccer season, which also has a certain smell. We won’t discuss it.

But the library smells pleasant. Very…I don’t know…bookish? And in the summer, it smells ten times better like…what? Like air-conditioned books. Yes. I love this smell. Someone should make a candle with this scent. You know I’m right (and also a bit strange).

books

At our house, we’ve just hung up, put away, and close the door on all of our “assigned reading” for the school year. Who cares that we actually loved almost every book we read this year? Summer is coming and that means we can read…

Just For Fun.

Why does it feel different to read in the summer compared to reading during the school year? I have no idea. There’s just something about the freedom of it all, with its “I can read whatever I want and walk leisurely down all the library aisles while inhaling all the air-conditioned book smells…”

We always check out huge stacks. We can sit in the sun and read. Or we can sit in the air conditioning and read. We might lay on the trampoline and read. I will definitely sip iced coffee and read. The kids can drink sweet tea and read. Ahhhh, summer reading, how I love you.

Reading as a Family

A few summers ago, after our oldest boys headed to counsel at church camp, I picked All of a Kind Family off our shelf and read through it with Malachi during the hottest parts of the day. We finished that one and ran to the library to get the next in the series. We loved the books so much we read every book in the series and cried at the end because the series had ended. (To be fair, Malachi didn’t actually cry. I did though, because I always cry at the end of a good book. You already know this about me.)

ralph moody
I definitely cried at the end of this one.
Then we plowed through the entire series.

Who wants to smell the library with me this summer?

What I mean is, let’s all read together all summer long. Want to? Whether it’s library books or books you already have on your shelf, or books you might order to add to your collection, let’s read. Whether it’s Mom taking some glorious time to read for relaxation on her own (do this) or families taking time to read a book or series together in front of an air conditioner or under a shade tree (do this too), or everyone in the family sitting and reading silently to themselves while simply enjoying the comfort of togetherness (most definitely do this)…

Join our Summer Reading Party!

We want to encourage the beauty of family reading this summer!

Malachi and I look back on the summer of reading All of a Kind Family series as if it was the summer of perfection. All my boys and I can look back with joy on summers of reading together back in the days they were littler (and actually home). On the days they are home this summer, we will definitely spend time reading. I just got a few books delivered a few days ago that the boys had requested. Perfect timing!

Let’s all do this together and make great memories with our families!

Tell me about this Summer Reading Party!

Well, you can make this whatever you want for your family, but to get you motivated…

First we have a huge packet of free printables for every family who signs up for our Summer Reading Party. Use these however you wish – for incentives for your kids, for activities for your kids, for a challenge for everyone in your family – however you want. They are free for you and you can use them in whatever ways you like!

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Sign up here to join our Summer Reading Party and to get the free packet of printables!

My Favorite Party Favor

Included in this printables packet is a suggested Bible reading check-list for you to use with your family. Read these passages with your family during breakfast. Or read them at night before bed. Or read them at whatever time of the day works best for you. Because reading the Bible with your family is more important than any other reading you can do.

summer bible reading

This Summer Bible Reading Guide is included in the Summer Reading Printables Packet. Get yours here.

Prizes!!

Can’t have a party without prizes, right?

We’re getting our party started with a fun giveaway! Then watch for more great giveaways as the summer goes on. Today’s giveaway? A $50 gift certificate to Amazon.com so you can grab great new books to fill your shelves!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We’ll be offering more prizes all summer long. So join the Summer Reading Party, get your free printables packet, and start reading! Watch for more great giveaways and reading incentives throughout the summer!

I’ll draw a random winner for the Amazon Gift Card giveaway on Friday, May 26.

Join the Summer Reading Party!

16 Simple Recipes You Can Make in 5 Minutes

Good things come to those who wait. But good things can come to those in a hurry too, so let’s hear it for a few great recipes we can make in about 5 minutes!

Now, making these is all dependent on the fact that you have these ingredients on hand. But the ingredients are all pretty basic, so I’ll bet you do have these ingredients in your kitchen most of the time. (Cream cheese is a staple food, right?)

Let’s say you have last minute company stop by and you need a quick snack to share. Or maybe you have only a few minutes of work time before you have to head to the next thing. Here are some recipes you can quickly throw together for your favorite people to enjoy.

16-recipes-you-can-make-and-serve-in-about-5-minutes

First a quick list of recipes you can make in 5 minutes:

And now a list with all the tempting pictures that will make you want to lick your computer.

Homemade Nesquik

This is a great one because you can use it to make both chocolate milk or hot chocolate!

Homemade Nesquik

Cream Cheese Salsa Dip

supersimplechipdipsm

Caramel Apple Dip

Cream_Cheese_Apple_Dip

5-Minute Stove-Top Granola

Stove-Top Granola

Coconut Fudge Bars

Coconut Fudge Bars

No-Bake Chocolate Fudge Bites

No-Bake Fudge Bites

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookie Bites

Peanut Butter Cookie Bites - No Bake!

No-Bake Snickerdoodle Bites

snickerdoodle bites2

Pineapple Fluff Salad

Pineapple Fluff

Pineapple Mango Smoothies

pineapple_mango_smoothie

Chocolate Whipped Cream for Coffee or for a Bowl of Fruit

Chocolate Whipped Cream - Perfect For Your Coffee

Chocolate Whipped Cream on Strawberries 2

Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits

Low Sugar Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait 1

Chocolate Cheesecake Parfaits

chocolate cheesecake parfait

Easy Fruit Dip

strawberry_dip
French Onion Dip

french onion dip

What are some of your go-to recipes to make when you only have a few minutes to throw something together?

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 coloring some of my new journal/devotional books. 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.

I had no idea coloring 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

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

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.”

I made myself an Organization Binder

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.

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! 

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.

 

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.

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.

30-Day Home Stretch Real Food Menu Plan

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)

 

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.

Heavenly Homemaker’s Savings Club – Free Memberships for All!

tablecloth

Frugal Homemakers Unite! (That sounded less cheesy in my head.)

I’ve been a (work outside the home, stay at home mom, or work from home) homemaker for over 21 years. While I recognize the value of investing in quality food and quality products, I also appreciate saving money in any area I can. How else could I afford to buy pants long enough for my ever-growing teenage sons?

tourney food1

The good news:

It is absolutely possible to feed a family well and manage a home well without over-spending. It is also possible to do this without spending hours in the kitchen, hours at the store, and hours online.

I come across many good deals because of the connections I have made with a wonderful online community throughout the past eight years. I pick and choose carefully the deals I choose to share here on my blog because there’s only so much time and space and I prefer to focus more on recipes and encouragement here (not that a good deal on coconut oil isn’t pretty encouraging!).

I’ll continue to share great deals here on my blog as I feel they will be a blessing to you. But now we’ve got something bigger and better to offer: the Heavenly Homemaker’s Savings Club.

What is it?

When you join Heavenly Homemaker’s Savings Club, you’ll be privileged to hear about all the great deals I come across but don’t have space to share here on my blog. I’ll compile the best of the best of money saving tips, ideas, and resources – and I’ll send them to you so that you can take advantage of and enjoy them as needed.

Savings Club Free Membership

Savings Club members will enjoy these perks:

  • Infrequent emails that pack a punch. I’m not going to load down your inbox. Neither you nor I have time for that! You can expect to see an email from the Savings Club a couple times each week – sometimes less, sometimes more. It’ll all depend on what great savings tips I come across and how many family activities I’m running off to during the week.
  • Information about great offers on nourishing groceries, non-toxic household and self-care products, and other resources. If I love it and use it and it saves us all money, I’ll let you know about it!
  • Money saving tips. Do you know how many ways I’ve learned to cut costs and save money during the past two decades? (I mean, I don’t have an exact number of ways. That was sort of rhetorical. It’s a lot though.) I don’t plan to stop learning more ways to save, so I’ll share what I know and share what I continue to learn. (Just last year I learned to make Gatorade!)
  • Freebies. You’d be surprised at the amount of free stuff I hear about but have to ignore because I just don’t have space in my blog schedule to share. I want to be able to tell you about these opportunities!

Speaking of Freebies and Deals

Let’s get your membership rolling with some freebies right from the start.

First of all, your membership for the Savings Club is now and forever will be free. Second, I created a free eBooklet for all members, which includes my Top 10 Money Saving Recipes. Plus, within that book, you’ll find a fun surprise coupon (or not so surprise, since I told you about it just now) so you can get another eBook from my shop for just a buck!

Top 10 Money Saving Recipes

I’ve got some great deals and goodies to share with you during the next couple of weeks, so join the club and be in the know!

Sign up using the form below, or click through this link to sign up if the form isn’t showing up for you.

I’m super excited to share that signing up for this freebie will connect you to our new Heavenly Homemaker’s Savings Club. It’s free, of course. You can unsubscribe at any time, your info will never be shared or sold, and being on this list means that you’ll be the first to know any great deals or freebies that will bless your homemaking efforts!

UPDATE: A brand new freebie!

We just added a new free resource for our Savings Club Members to enjoy! Subscribe to become a member and receive this great eBooklet filled with 30 ways Heavenly Homemakers readers have learned to save money on real food.

30 Real Food Money Saving Tips

What to do with Stinky Shoes (Not that You Have Any of Course)

You know what really stinks?

Shoes. After they’ve had feet in them.

And after they’ve gotten wet. Or sweaty. Or dirty. Or wet, sweaty and dirty. You may think something large and furry crawled into your closet and died. Oh no. It’s just the shoes.

Thankfully there is hope.   You do not have to dread being in the same vehicle with (or within a ten mile radius of) the wearer of said shoes.

What to do with stinky shoes

Wad up a big bunch of newspaper and stick them down into the shoes for a day or two. Set them outside in the sunshine if possible. Severely stinky shoes may require a removal of newspaper and re-stuffing of fresh newspaper after the first day for a continued de-stinking treatment.

newspapershoessm

If you enjoy sitting back with a nice cup of coffee while reading your newspaper, I highly recommend reading the newspaper before wading them into the shoes as the newspaper not be nearly as enjoyable after taking on the stink of the shoe.

And now I will end this post by saying that I find it comical that only a weird blogger such as myself will take the time to snap a picture of newspapers stuffed into stinky tennis shoes.

This post was originally published in August, 2009.

Free Summer Blessings Printables ~ Use These Free Printables to Be a Blessing!

What can you and your family do to be a blessing to someone during the next few days? I encourage you to pray with your family about this. Can you take someone some food? Visit a neighbor? How can you be a light and bless someone? To bless your efforts (blessings all around, right?!) – we’ve made some fun Summer Blessings printables for you. They are free. Help yourself! Print as many as you like.

Summer Blessings Printables

Download the Summer Blessings Printable
Cards and Gift Tags Here!

Suggestions for ways to use these Summer Blessings Printables:

  • Print a set of 6 or 8 of the Blessed and Hello note cards. Tie them up with a ribbon and give them as a gift. Be sure to include envelopes! (Like these.)
  • Print a few Blessed and Hello note cards. Spend some time writing encouraging notes in the cards to give or send.
  • Bake something yummy, package it up and attach one of the cards or gift tags. (Here are some baked good recipes to pick from.)

Since it’s summertime and you might not want to turn on the oven, how about some No-Bake treats you can make to share?

Other summer friendly ideas include:

What else? Leave a comment to share ideas of ways we can use these fun new printables!