Contentment

When we first moved into our home six years ago…I LOVED it! I was so excited to have this great big huge 100 year old house…with six bedrooms and a huge yard and old ornate windows and a newly re-done kitchen.

The fact that this house was old didn’t bother me…old houses have lots of character. And, the previous owners completely remodeled many of the rooms and re-did the hardwood floors throughout the house…beautiful!

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I still love my house…which has become our home. 

But, sometimes…I don’t love it as much as I used to love it…

Funny thing about old houses. They have lots of quirks. And this house has a long list.

I won’t tell you our plumbing issues…but, well…we have some.

Those beautiful, ornate windows? Really drafty.

Some of the cracks and crevices throughout the house have dirt in them from the dust storms of the 1930’s. And I guess they always will.

Many of the walls are plaster…ever taken old wallpaper off of plaster?!

And you know our huge yard that I was once so excited to have? Now I want it to be bigger…and to have a nice fence around it…

And the whole house and the huge yard…I want it to be a few miles out in the country so that we can have some chickens for the boys to take care of…and so that we can plant an orchard…and so that my garden can be bigger…

So…this is where my mind goes occasionally. 

Instead of looking around me at the beautiful home that I have…and simply being content.

And not only being content…but realizing that I have a lot more than most.

Because there are people in other countries…and people in this country who would be happy to simply have a bed. 

And I have two extras.

And a lot of extra other stuff too. 

So I will work to be content. 

Because when I look around at what I really have…how could I NOT be?

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,  “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

Be sure to check in at Biblical Womanhood for more Make Your Home a Haven.

Eat More Fruits and Veggies: Very Berry Brownie Cups

Many of you are aware that there is a Eat More Fruits and Veggies Challenge going on around here. If you haven’t heard of this…check it out here

I had confessed in this post that sometimes I just really want to choose the brownie…instead of the fruit or veggie. (I’m talking really, really want to choose the brownie…)

So then Marie suggested, “Hey, make your brownies with applesauce, then you’ll get fruit and a brownie!”

And I said, “Yeah, but then I’d have to eat the whole pan of brownies in order to get a full serving in.”  (which, I could do…)

And then it was suggested to throw in a couple of strawberries with the brownie too… ‘Cause, you know…strawberries and chocolate together…that’s always yummy…

(I LOVED all of your comments on this post…can you tell?! I was cracking up all day.) (Um, while I chewed on my carrot sticks, of course…)

So, here it is folks…inspired by you…the Very Berry Brownie Cup

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Very Berry Brownie CupsYum

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup rapadura (dehydrated cane sugar juice)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
fresh blueberries and strawberries
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3-4 drop stevia
1/4 t. vanilla

Stir together the applesauce, rapadura and cocoa powder. Add egg and vanilla. Mix in the flour. Pour batter into 10 paper lined muffin cups. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Whip the cream with beaters until soft peaks form. Add the stevia and vanilla and whip again just to mix.

Serve brownie cups piled with strawberries and blueberries, and topped with whipped cream.

I’ve just gotta say, that eating chocolate truly is a great way to make your home a haven…don’t you think? ‘Cause chocolate makes Mama happy…and a happy mama makes for a happy haven.

Oh, and of course, that means I’m eating fruit too…which is of course is the real point of this post…

;)

Special Breakfast: Whole Wheat Waffles with Blueberry Syrup

Pretty sure this picture right here is going to make us all want to make waffles very, very soon. Does a treat get any more delectable?

Whole Wheat Waffles

Waffles are one of our favorite breakfast foods – especially when we top them with strawberries, blueberries, and/or whipped cream.   This is a great meal to feed company who is at your house for breakfast. They are so easy to make, but taste like a great treat!

My kids now call these “Super Mama Waffles.” If I was going to have a food named after me, I can’t think of one better than waffles. I’m pretty sure it’s the fruit and whipped cream that make these waffles super

Keep these waffles in mind for dinner as well. And…we’ve even made big batches to feed college kids after church on Sundays for a fun lunch!

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Whole Wheat Waffles

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. sea salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 3/4 cup buttermilk

Whisk all ingredients together. Cook batter in your waffle iron.

I usually double this recipe and freeze the leftovers to be popped into the toaster another day!

Blueberry SyrupYum

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup rapadura or sucanat (dehydrated cane sugar juice)

Stir ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat for about 10 minutes until blueberries become a little mushy and syrupy. Serve over pancakes or waffles.

 Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
drop of vanilla
2 drops of stevia

Whip cream in a bowl until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and stevia and whip just a bit more.

Serve Blueberry syrup and whipped cream over waffles. Delicious!

Add protein to this meal by serving with scrambled eggs, ham, sausage, and/or bacon. 

Confession: We now have two waffle irons. Our friends offered us theirs when they moved away, and we decided that would help make the process of feeding the masses so much faster. Indeed, we can now make twice the waffles at one time that we once could when we only had one waffle maker. See how good I am at math?

What are your favorite ways to serve waffles? You’ll want to be sure to check out our delicious recipes for Raspberry Syrup and Peach Syrup also. It is so easy to use whatever extra fruit you have on hand to make deliciously healthy syrups that end up being a fantastic treat!

I Surrender All…

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As I continue to read the book Irresistible Revolution as talked about in this post, I am searching to find answers to what it means to give and love as Jesus gave and loved.

Yesterday at church, we sang the hymn “I Surrender All”. Later my husband and I were talking about this song we’ve sung our whole lives…which begins:

“All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give…”

Do we really surrender all?

Or do we just surrender some…sometimes?

And the question remains. How do we surrender all?

With a family to support and feed and care for…we really can’t just sell all we have and go live among and minister to the the homeless and drug addicts (as the author of this book has done).

So, what does it look like for us?

We’re still searching (and I pray that we always continue to search out how we can surrender all…).

But as I’ve pondered and prayed, I’ve come to this:

For me, as a wife, mother and homemaker…it begins at home. As I care for and raise my family, as I work to make my home a haven, as I work to support and love my husband…

That is where it begins.

And, I can open my heart and home and always be ready to welcome others in.

God gave us a big beautiful home.  I can surrender it to Him. And oh the ways He might use it…

So what are your thoughts? What do you think it should look like in your life to surrender all?

Whipping the House Back into Shape…

We arrived home last night after our quick weekend trip…unloaded the van and sort of put things in the rooms that they sort of go in.

We had SUCH a good time getting away and spending time with friends. 

Such a good time in fact, that when we pulled into our drive way…Elias (our 6 year old)…started crying and saying, “I miss Greg and Lisa!” (the friends we stayed with in Kansas City). 

And, I’m not kidding…he did not stop crying for an hour and a half when I finally got him to settle in and sleep. 

And when I’d say, “Come on, buddy, let’s get you to bed…you’re SO tired!”  He’d wimper and sob and say, “I’m…not…tired…”  (Uh-huh…me neither.)

So, we all had a great time visiting our friends and are refreshed from the visit…(we just miss them more now than we did before…)!

Now that we’re home…it’s time to whip this house back into shape! And get back into a good school routine (we took sort of a spring break last week to get ready for LTC…)!

This week I plan to be very focussed on getting my kids into the kitchen to cook all of our meals…and I’m looking forward to all of the memories (and the messes) we’ll make.

But right now…they’re still asleep (but…it’s not because they were tired or anything…).

So, I will go begin to tackle the laundry…and the cooler and water bottles from our trip…and the laundry…

Have a great Monday!!

Kids In the Kitchen, Pt. 1

Almost everything I know about making my home a haven  is from watching and doing and learning from my mom.

Especially in the kitchen.

I spent HOURS of my time growing up in the kitchen with my mom. I would pull up a chair and just watch. And stir. And help.

And when I went to my grandma’s…I would stand with her in her teeny tiny kitchen and just watch. And stir. And help.

By the time I was about eight or nine…my mom put me in charge of some of the cooking (usually the cookie baking part!). 

We often had extra farm hands around in the summer time to feed, and I know that I was a big help to her. We would cook all day it seemed. I would bake about one batch of chocolate chip cookies per day during those summers. By the time I was ten, I could bake them in my sleep (and probably did sometimes!).

Now that I’m (10 x 3 + ?)…I love cooking!

And, my cooking styles are a lot like my mom’s…or my grandma’s..

My dad has told me from time to time when he’s here visiting…”These rolls taste just like your grandma’s did”…or “That dinner was just like what your Mom would have made.”

<blink> <gulp>

What an honor for my dad to rank my cooking up there with the two favorite women in my life.

Oh, how I miss them. 

But, my memories are so clear and sweet.

My encouragement for all of us then…is to pull your kids into the kitchen and make some sweet memories.

Over the next several days, I’ll be writing about some fun things to do in the kitchen with your kids…and some fun ways to teach them. Be sure to check back in!

You’ll never regret the precious time spent alongside your children in the kitchen. 

And the skills you will teach them will last them a lifetime.

Bless your little Bakin’ Heart!

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I LOVE to bake.  

I know…not everyone does…

But for me, it’s the most fun way to make my home a haven!

My friend Char tells me that everytime her husband walks into their house and smells something baking….he just starts grinning and his eyes get real big! What a perfectly easy way to make your man happy!

I LOVE it when my hubby gets home from work and says, “MMMMMmmmm! That smells SOOO good!”

And of course…the kids never mind it when Mama bakes. They’ll come running full speed into the kitchen and then slide on their socks to a skidding halt and say, “What are you MAKING?” 

Baking is also a great way to bless your friends and neighbors. 

I’ve gotten such a kick out of my cousin Jayme lately! Ever since she discovered my Soft Pretzel recipe…she’s been a Pretzel Princess…baking up batches and running all over the neighborhood delivering them to whoever gets there first…baking them for her daughter’s teacher….baking more for her own family. I LOVE it!!!

So, I say…make your home a haven by getting some flour in your hair and on your face…and start blessing others with some baking!! Your haven never smelled so good!

(Please use these great recipes as you make your home a haven!)

And now, I’m going to go make my haven smell like brownies with homemade chocolate chips! 

In your anger, do not sin…..CLEAN!

Recently, I was feeling very angry about a situation that had happened.

As my husband and I stood in the kitchen talking about it, I felt this ugly anger crawl up through my toes and into my gut and threaten to shoot out my ears…

Before I knew what I was doing, I had grabbed my broom and started attacking the cobwebs in all the corners of my kitchen.

I  couldn’t help it!

I learned it from my mama. 

She always said, “If you’re feeling angry about something…put that energy to good use. Don’t just sit there wasting time and fuming about what you’re mad about. Go clean something!

Thus the broom.

Those cobwebs didn’t stand a chance. 

And I began to feel better, having put that energy toward something productive. 

Instead of taking my anger out on my husband (who had nothing to do with the situation) or my kids (who had nothing to do with the situation) or continuing to dwell on the situation (which would have helped NOTHING)…

I got to work.

And I prayed while I whacked the cobwebs, for God to soften my heart and help me to deal with my anger in a way that would honor him.

God always wins when you give it to him. 

Because Satan…(and the cobwebs)… are not welcome in our homes as we continually work to  make our homes a haven.

Making Our Homes a Healthy Haven

I have decided that one of the most enjoyable ways for me to Make My Home a Haven is with food

I guess it’s my love language. 

Some people are huggers, some people are talkers… Me? I’ll say I love you with a rump roast and the works. And then, just so you know how much I REALLY love you, I’ll bake you something ooey, gooey scrumptious.

I LOVE to feed people.

LOVE IT.

There’s nothing wrong with my love language…and certainly no one at my house is complaining about all the LOVE on the table several times a day.

But, while I pride myself on cooking very healthy meals, I find myself feeding us too many sweets too.

By many American standards, the amount of sugar my family consumes is very small. I still think it is too much.

Last week, as many of you have read, I challenged myself and any of my readers to take the NO SUGAR Plunge.

It has been FABULOUS! Many of you jumped in with me! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I could not have done it with out you.

I’m now working at getting back into gear with a “treat plan” for my family.

We’ll allow ourselves one sweet a day. And we’ll work at making it count!  There’s a big difference between a freshly baked cookie, straight from the oven…and a box of valentine conversations hearts (or whatever other candy you think is “so-so”).

There’s also a difference between a freshly baked cookie made from refined sugars and flours…which provide nothing but empty (actually negative) calories, and a freshly baked cookie made with whole wheat flour and rapadura (unrefined sugar). There are many delicious goodies that I make for my family that are filled with nutrients and goodness!

I’m looking forward to sharing some recipes for wholesome treats during the next several days…so be sure to check back in! 

And we can all work together to make our homes a more healthy haven! 

Come back for tomorrow’s recipe…Peanut Butter Honey Bars (with no gluten). 

See ya then!

In the meantime, you should check out my recipe for whole wheat and honey Homemade Soft Pretzels. They are a perfect way to make your home a delicious, healthy haven!

And be sure to go to Biblical Womanhood  for more Making your Home a Haven inspiration today.

The Closet Monster

Just TWO days ago, when I was putting away my Walmart purchases…and I could find NO ROOM in my messy closet to put my toilet paper, I was thinking…

“Wow, this closet is annoyingly messy and very embarassing. I better get it cleaned out and organized before Crystal challenges us to do a closet clean up on Making Your Home a Haven. Cause, THAT would be embarassing!”

Ah well, I guess she heard me thinking that or something and knew that something REALLY should be done about the insanity of the closet. Because guess what the challenge is today?!

Yes, well…it looks like I get to embarass myself.

At the very least…maybe I’ll help you to know how normal I am (normal?!)…knowing that “Laura @ HeavenlyHomeMakers” doesn’t ALWAYS have everything quite so HEAVENLY as she would like it to be. 

I mean, I could choose to show you a closet that isn’t so bad…I DO have several of those!

But no…I will open up the doors to the monster in all it’s glory:

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Notice that instead of organizing the closet when I didn’t have room for the toilet paper…I just shrugged and stuffed it into the last available space.

Lovely.

I’m so proud.

Well, now that the monster has been exposed…there’s no turning back now! I’ll get right on it (somewhere in between feeding my family, teaching school and babysitting a couple of extras….).

Anyone want to come over and help me?

Huh. Maybe you could just tell me how messy your closet is just to make me feel better?

Well, check back later today. Please. Because I can’t leave you with THAT impression of my organizational skills. You HAVE to come back and see that I really am very capable of being clutterless. 

See ya later!

****UPDATE****UPDATE****IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO SHARE***

Somewhere between our Bible lesson, and helping the kids with their journals, handwriting and phonics…I am happy to announce that I have also cleaned out my closet (uh, really more like a cabinet, but a really huge one, so I always call it a closet).

I got rid of a few things that have been there for who knows how long without being used. I also put a white basket in there for my husbands tools that he likes to have in there for easier access. And, I refolded the mess of towels and tableclothes that somehow just kept becoming messier and messier.

And my toilet paper…well, it now has a lovely place, all it’s own. Right beside the Kleenex. (Kinda makes you get all choked up, doesn’t it?)

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Sorry that I can’t get the whole thing in one picture…there’s a wall about three feet from the closet/cabinet…and that’s as far back as I can scoot.

Well, I feel BETTER! Almost better enough to go tackle another closet…