How About a Simple Meals Gift Certificate for Christmas?!

Love Simple Meals and want to buy a subscription for someone this Christmas? We make it easy! Purchase as many subscriptions as you need, print off this certificate to give to your loved ones, then email me and I’ll transfer each subscription to the preferred email addresses of your recipients!

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After purchase, download Simple Meals Gift Certificate here.

You’ll be able to tell people you got them time, energy, health, and deliciousness for Christmas!

We Love Books. Here Are Our Favorites.

We love books at our house and I’m betting you do too! Today, as I’ve done in the past, I am sharing some of our family’s favorite books that we’ve enjoyed through the years. Books make wonderful gifts and stocking stuffers!

Our Family’s Favorite Books

Boxcar Children Books
These books were some of my favorites when I was little. (You know I had my very own boxcar, right?) Our boys have all loved these too!

boxcar_children

Ralph Moody Books

We read through most of the books in this series (as a family) several years ago, and I’ve since read them all again twice. What I love most about these books is that they show how important it is to be a hard worker, how much fun it can be to work together as a family, and how if you put your mind to it – you can always find a way to provide. I am so inspired by these books, and my boys love the adventure aspect they include.

Books by Clyde Robert Bulla

These are the first chapter books our boys have read. I love that Clyde Robert Bulla keeps his vocabulary simple and easy to read – all while teaching history and making his books fun and intriguing.  When I pulled these books out for Malachi a few years ago, all three of his brothers said, “Oh, he gets to read those this year? Malachi, you will love them.”  I love hearing the boys talk together about books they’ve all read.

clyde_robert_bulla

Ramona the Pest Series

Ramona is a mess, but in many ways we can all relate to her. I read this series several times when I was younger. Our youngest is now working his way through this series for the second time.

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Christian Heroes Books

I can’t say enough good about all of the Christian Heroes: Then and Now books by Janet and Geoff Benge. We’ve actually decided to use about 15 of these books this year to go along with our History/Geography studies with our boys. What better way to study the culture and history of a country than to learn about missionaries who worked there? These books are so well written and inspiring!

I cry at the end of every single one of these books. I can’t help it.

benge

 The Hiding Place 

This one is my favorite book of all time, written by Corrie Ten Boom. It is a beautiful story of grace and forgiveness and it’s one I need to read over and over.

the hiding place

A Quiet Strength

We listened to this book on CD a few years ago, and it is wonderful! This is a great book choice for men. But rest assured, women will likely love it too!

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What books are you and your kids reading these days?  Do you enjoy giving and receiving books for Christmas?

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Pssst!

Lilla Rose has a wonderful sale going on right now!

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The Simple Meal I’m Almost Embarrassed to Tell You About

It happened the day we were putting up the Christmas tree. I was also trying to help guide Justus, our 16-year old, as he was finishing a big research paper for his college class. Decorations had exploded all over the living room, and I’d just discovered that not one, but two of our strings of lights for the tree weren’t working.

Such is life. Tis the season. No big deal. But it was almost lunch time and not only was food not prepared, I hadn’t even found a moment to figure out what lunch was yet. “Help me with a quick idea for lunch, Malachi, then we’ll run to the store and get more lights for the tree.”

Malachi’s solution to every lunch would be hot dogs if I would allow it. So it was no surprise when that was his suggestion this day too.

Aha! That gave me an idea. I said, “Malachi, go grab a package of hotdogs from the freezer and get two cans of baked beans. We’ll make Beanie Weanies when we get home.” And there was much rejoicing by all.

This is where I pause to tell you how silly I feel right now. I’m actually writing a post to tell you this:

When you’re in a hurry and you don’t have anything planned for your meal, make Beanie Weanies.

I know this isn’t a typical recipe idea you’re used to hearing about from me. But there really is something about a pot of bubbly baked beans with bites of hotdogs that is comforting, am I right? Plus, this meal doesn’t have to be unhealthy if you use the right ingredients. Even the most health conscious among us need a fall back meal sometimes. Beanie Weanies it is. Rock on.

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Best tip of the day: Keep a supply of canned of baked beans in your pantry. Keep a supply of better-than hot dogs in your freezer. When you’re in a hurry and need a fast meal, mix them together and lunch is served.

You’re welcome, I guess.

simple-beanie-weanies

Not only did we manage to finish Justus’ big research paper that morning and put (working) lights on our Christmas tree, we had a fantastically satisfying meal that only took about ten minutes to make.

Am I weird? Is my whole family weird? What can we say? We all really love this meal. The Beanie Weanies tasted great along with a mixed green salad, clementines, sweet peppers, and slice pears. The sides took hardly any effort to prepare so I’m not kidding when I say that this meal really only takes about ten minutes to make.

simple-last-minute-beanie-weanies

Other Simple Recipes that are a little more “normal”

‘Fess up! Who’s a Beanie Weanie fan? 

Let Simple Meals save you money, time, and energy so you can enjoy your family! (Remember, the plans will be extra simple this holiday season. Sweet!)

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I Couldn’t Decide If I Should Tell You About This (Plus This Year’s Coppinger Christmas Card!)

I feel so on top of things. It’s still November and I just ordered a package of personalized Christmas postcards to send out. Score one for me. (No promises that I’ll actually get them in the addressed and sent before Christmas. Let’s live in the moment though, shall we?)

Wanna know how much I paid for twenty-six cards plus envelopes? $0.72 plus $4.95 shipping. Boom! This year, we’ll be sending out Christmas cheer in the form of this card:

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Just another day in the life of the Coppinger fam.

How did I get these cards for such a low price? I had a $15 gift certificate for Artsy Cou. I’ll tell you how you can get one too!

For that matter, howzabout I tell you how you can get twelve $15 gift certificates?

gift-certificate-purchases

There’s a really cool package deal being offered right now and here’s the low down: You pay just $15 and you get $180 worth of gift certificates to spend at 11 different really cool online shops. The question I spent hours yesterday to answer is this:

Is it worth it?

I had to know for sure before I told you about this. Is it worth paying $15 for these twelve $15 certificates?

Well, even if you end up just using one certificate, you make your money back, so there’s pretty much no risk of wasting money. Then, of course, the more you use, the more you save.

As it turns out, I ended up using seven of the $15 gift certificates and I am very, very excited about the items I was able to get!

Nothing ended up being completely free after the $15 off. I still had to pay shipping on each item I ordered. Did I still save a lot of money on great gifts? Yep! One of my favorites:

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This ended up costing me $22 with shipping. Such an adorable, usable gift!

And this bamboo spatula from Life Without Plastic??? How amazing is this? It was only $4.95, so I picked out a fun flamingo reusable bowl cover for another $9.95. My $15 certificate knocked it all down to $0, then I paid shipping ($9.95, more than I would have liked, but still a great overall price for two wonderful items).

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But the question is: Do I give it as a gift or keep it for myself??

I was so excited to find these three amazing pouches at Porteen Gear to give to my oldest son to use in his camera bag for his memory cards and flash drives. All three, with shipping, only cost $14 after the gift certificate!

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I also got kombucha bottles, glass straws, and face cream that I’m excited to receive! I’m still trying to decide on a couple of the other offers, but I will tell you this:

My initial $15 investment was worth it and then some.

Here are some more specifics I learned after wading through all of these certificates yesterday. (Hopefully my wading will save you some time!) Remember, you pay just $15, then get $15 to spend at all of these sites!

  • Around the World Stories (Looked neat, but kinda pricey and not great for my family. I didn’t use this certificate.)
  • Artsy Couture (Got my super cute, super inexpensive Christmas cards here!)
  • Atlas Coffee Club (SO tempted. But I passed on this one. If you have a coffee lover in your life, this is a great gift! I couldn’t justify it for our family though.)
  • Bloom Naturals (I didn’t need to use this one, but if you have someone in your family with eczema or acne, definitely use this one!)
  • Crunchy Balm (I got the Frankincense Face Cream and can’t wait to use it! Yep, it’s a gift for myself.)
  • Ecocentric Mom (I haven’t used this one yet, but am thinking about using it to have a baby gift on hand.)
  • Healthy Moving (I decided to pass on this one.)
  • Hope Ink (I wasn’t impressed with the shipping price, but still felt like the hanging calendar gift was a good price after the gift certificate knocked off $15.)
  • Life Without Plastic (SO many great items. This is where I got the bamboo spatula and cotton bowl cover.)
  • Porteen Gear (Could have spent so much money at this site for my photographer/videographer son. Loved using this certificate on a gift for him!)
  • Strawesome (I love their glass straws, so I was very happy to use a certificate to get more for our collection.)
  • The Kombucha Shop (I got a great price for three really cool bottles for only $9.72 shipped.)

15-gift-bundle

So there you have it. After many hours of shopping (it’s a tough life) and learning about shipping costs, I have decided to share this with you because…

This gift certificate package is worth the $15 investment.

You’ll make your money back after using just one certificate, so truly, this is a no-risk purchase. Then you can have a blast making Christmas postcards and finding other great items for loved ones (or yourself!), all while getting $15 off each purchase! It’s very merry and bright!

This package offer is only available through Monday, December 5. Get it now and start shopping!!

Get Your Very Merry Gift Certificate Package Here.

Some of these links are my affiliate links.

Lots to Do? How to Save the Christmas Season…

Before I get started with today’s post, I wanted to show you my new, early Christmas present!

ecooe

It’s an insulated, stainless steel 34-ounce double wall French Press and I LOVE IT! It came from Ecooe, a site that has me drooling. My favorite feature of this French Press is that it keeps the hot beverage hot during our entire breakfast while it rests on the table. And of course, it’s stainless steel which makes it safe to use and beautiful to look at. The price is right, so put it on your list, or grab it early so you can use it to entertain this Christmas!

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Now let’s talk about how to save the Christmas season!

Never am I more tempted to buy Take-and-Bake Pizzas like I am during the busy holiday season. Sometimes (shh) I even consider buying Velveeta to make Rotel Dip. I know!!!! I think it’s a childhood memory thing. But also, no matter how simple I keep our holidays, there is still always more to do than a normal day in the life. Therefore, compromising in the kitchen is something I’m always more likely to do while we’re putting up the tree, wrapping gifts, or rummaging through our piles of junk to find yet one more thing to take to a White Elephant Gift Exchange.

Let us all pause for a moment to acknowledge how many white elephant gifts my family has to come up with every Christmas season now that I have a houseful of teenagers going to parties of their own. The parties are many; the need for white elephant gifts is abundant. You would think by now we’d have nothing useless or weird left in our house. Somehow we keep coming up with items to wrap and get rid of. Although at one point last year we got so desperate to figure out what to send with our oldest son to his White Elephant Gift Exchange on the college campus that we put a bow on our then 10-year old and sent them both on their way.

malachi white elephant

You thought I was kidding.

Not to worry though. After all the college students fought over this special gift, they delivered him back home safe and sound. Somehow we also accumulated a fish in a tank that night. We named him Finley and managed to keep him alive for exactly a day and a half.

finnley

So back to making food compromises and trying to survive the busy holiday season.

My solution to avoiding Velveeta? Make this dip instead. Ever since I invented this dip, I don’t even want Velveeta any more. Guaranteed, I will be making this for my family to enjoy some evening while we’re sitting around the Christmas tree playing a game. We all love this.

Real Food Velveeta and Rotel Dip

I will probably buy a few Take-and-Bake Pizzas sometime during the month to give myself a night off. The kids will eat more sugar than normal at all of their White Elephant parties and sure, probably even at our house. I’m not terribly worried about any of this because stress over food is, in my opinion, less healthy than the junk food itself. So bring on the fudge, but first please eat a carrot.

How we’re going to save the Christmas season for you

Seeing as I can’t fall back on compromise foods every single night from now until January 2 when things supposedly settle down, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to make Simple Meals planning packets even simpler than normal. This is saying something, my friends!

From now until the end of the year, every meal suggestion in your Simple Meals packets will be extra easy, extra brainless, and even extra festive! This is going to help us all survive the holidays without having to stress over how we’re still going to put a good meal on the table while we’re trying to put together goody bags for the neighbors and rummage through the toy box for yet another (non broken) something or other to wrap for a White Elephant gift exchange.

Simple Meals Members? Look forward to refreshingly easy plans and ideas to simplify your holiday season! If you’re not a member yet, now is the time to get on board with us so you can enjoy this too!

Get all the details about Simple Meals here.

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Do you find yourself coming and going during the holiday season? What compromise foods do you find yourself falling back on? What have been your best scores at a White Elephant Gift Exchange?

Look forward to some amazingly fun and easy Simple Meals Planning Packets this month!!!

My Favorite Black Friday Deals

What a fun day! I love finding great deals on my favorite items, and I really love passing them on to you!

Made-On Hard Lotion

madeon black friday

1. FREE PEPPERMINT LIP BALM ON ALL ORDERS. Just add one to the cart and it’s free.
2. FREE DRY SKIN FIX 3 Pack (lotion, guest size soap, lip balm) ON ORDERS OVER $50 (add to cart when the cart reaches $50)
3. FREE LAVENDER ROLL-ON (the perfect all-purpose skin oil) ON ORDERS OVER $100 (add to cart when the cart reaches $100)

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Lilla Rose

lilla-rose-black-friday-sale

This is an awesome Lilla Rose Black Friday Sale!!!

20-60% off EVERYTHING!
25+ new styles released!
FREE SHIPPING on orders over $75!*

Black Friday deals begin Thursday, November 24 at 11:59 PM Pacific and end Monday, November 28 at 11:59 PM Pacific.

These amazing deals can be combined with the monthly special of a free 3-piece holiday bobby pin set and metallic zipper pouch with $100+ orders!

*Must select Free Shipping at checkout

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Simple Meals

Simple Meals will bless you every week of the year, making your kitchen life simpler and save you money, too!

Today through Monday, get $12 off when you use the code CHRISTMAS12! Read about Simple Meals here.

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Some of these links are my affiliate links.

Help! We need a new game for Christmas!

This post is becoming somewhat of a Christmas tradition here. Each year I tell you how much we love games, I tell you about the games we already have, and I ask for your ideas for new games to get our family for Christmas. After all, we are a gaming family. Surely we can’t survive Christmas without a new one under the tree, right?

What Are Your Favorite Family Games

Here are the games we already have and love:

Those links are my affiliate links.

So with these facts in mind:

  • We usually have 5 or more playing at the same time.
  • Sometimes we like games we can pull out and play for just 20 minutes or so once we finally get together in the evening before bed.
  • Often we have company and like to play big group games

What games would you recommend for our family this year? What do you have and like?

Thanks for making this so much fun every year!

Easy, Low Sugar, Mini Crustless Cheesecake Recipe (and an amazing Blendtec Giveaway!!)

This has got to be one of my most exciting giveaways to share with you! Why? Because ever since I invested in a Blendtec my kitchen life has become soooo much simpler! I wish I could give one to every person reading this.

I haven’t splattered cream all over my countertops and walls in months. Why? Because I don’t have to whip cream using my hand mixer anymore. Instead, I pour cream into my Blendtec and it whips it for me in less than 30 seconds. It is so, so easy.

I use my Blendtec for homemade applesauce now, throwing cooked apples in peel and all, and it makes beautifully smooth sauce. I use my Blendtec to mix muffin batters, cake batters, cheesecake, and so much more. Of course I use it for smoothies and all the normal blender needs. I use it at least once every day if not three times.

But about the cheesecake! Please allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite new recipes to make:

easy-mini-crustless-baked-cheesecake

I throw the five ingredients into my Blendtec, whip it for a few seconds until it is smooth, pour it into muffin cups, and bake. The stevia sweetens it, the small amount of maple syrup takes away any stevia aftertaste, and I’m left with the most delicious treat!

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Here’s the recipe, and check out the wonderful giveaway below!

Easy, Low Sugar, Mini Crustless CheesecakeYum

5.0 from 12 reviews
Easy, Low Sugar, Mini Crustless Cheesecake Recipe (and an amazing Blendtec Giveaway!!)
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 full droppers of liquid stevia
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Pour into 12 muffin cups.
  3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat, open the oven door, and leave the cheesecakes in the oven for an additional 20 minutes. (Cheesecakes will puff up during baking but deflate while continuing to sit in the oven.)
  5. Transfer cheesecakes to the fridge and chill for at least two hours before serving.

easy-low-sugar-mini-crustless-cheesecakes

My family likes pouring homemade fruit sauces over the cheesecakes!

So you say you’d like to win a free Blendtec?

They are certainly amazing. I’m definitely using mine frequently as I prepare for Thanksgiving!

The Blendtec folks took my very own Oh Good Gravy recipe and adapted it to make in the Blendtec! They created a downloadable recipe card for everyone to have for free!

blendtec-recipe-cards-vectors_gravyDownload the Blendtec Oh Good Gravy Recipe Card Here

Now the fun really begins!

Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win your very own Blendtec! You want this on your Christmas list!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Huge thanks goes to Blendtec for providing a Blender for me and also one for you!

Simple Last Minute Lentil Chili

Raise your hand if you’re busy this week. (Unless, of course, your hands are in the middle of de-boning a turkey. You can just give me a nod.)

Our oldest son is home from college right now, so we are a family of six again. So what if he’s been “away,” living in his college dorm only 8 blocks from home? We don’t see him much and we miss him. Having him home for longer than five minutes has been a joy.

I would say that we’re taking life easy while we prepare for Thanksgiving, but would you believe our son #2 has two huge projects due for his online college history class on Thanksgiving day? What? And yes, he would have had them done ahead of time except that it wasn’t possible because of all the other projects he had due before these.

I’m telling you, these online classes my kids take are threatening to kill us all with a long slow death. (The on-campus classes are much more managable.) Well, anyway.

We’re hosting Thanksgiving this year for 15-20 people from town. Then we’ll head to Kansas to celebrate “Thanksmas” with my side of the family. I baked the turkeys over the weekend. The green bean casserole is in the freezer. Slowly but surely I’m pulling the meal together so that come Thursday, I can actually enjoy the day instead of cooking and cleaning for hours!

In the meantime, the six of us still need to eat regular meals. (They didn’t like the idea of fasting in preparation for Thanksgiving. Whatever.)

Meals like this Simple Last Minute Lentil Chili are amazing for weeks like this! Thaw no meat. Soak no beans. Just go to the stove and put this soup together.

Truth: I didn’t think I would like chili that didn’t have meat in it.

I am such a meat loving girl! We are a meat loving family.

But in fact: My family didn’t even notice this didn’t have meat in it until I told them an hour after they ate it. “Really?” they said, “It tasted like it did!”

Score.

lentil-chili

Simple Last Minute Lentil ChiliYum

Simple Lentil Chili
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 3 Tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tsp. chili powder
  • 16 ounces dry lentils
  • 32 ounces tomato sauce
  • 32 ounces vegetable or chicken broth*
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat and stir olive oil with minced onion, garlic, and red pepper.
  2. Add chili powder, lentils, tomato sauce, and broth.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
  5. Serve with cheese and/or sour cream if desired.

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Let this chili recipe save you some evening this week while you’re busy preparing to host or travel!

More Simple Recipes

Don’t do all the work yourself! Let Simple Meals save your family time!

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Do you have big plans for Thanksgiving?

Some Good News This Weekend, But Why This Might Be the Last Time I Sell Vanilla For a While

You guys!! Have you seen the price of vanilla beans during the past few months? If not, you’ll need to be sure you’re sitting down when you take a look. Yowza.

My understanding is that there was a crop failure a few months ago, causing a huge shortage of vanilla beans. That made the price of beans go crazy. For years I’ve encouraged everyone to make their own Vanilla Extract because it was a money saver and a more pure way to enjoy vanilla. But now? I just can’t. The price of vanilla beans is too much.

It will go down again. I stay in touch with Amit from Olive Nation who has been my vanilla bean source for many years. He assures me these prices won’t last forever. But for now, we’re stuck taking out a second mortgage if we want to buy beans to make vanilla.

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Some Great News for Today

I have a batch of Homemade Vanilla Extract bottled and ready to share. And guess what? I made this batch with beans I bought before the price jumped so high!!! I’ll pass on those lower costs to you, and you won’t have to pay $300 per bottle. High fives all around!

If you want some of this great homemade vanilla, act quickly because I’m not sure when I’ll be able to make more to sell. Nor do I know exactly when bean prices will go back down so that you can make your own batches of vanilla.

In the meantime, I have a small supply ready to ship out to you in time for the holidays! Get it before it’s gone. Enjoy it in your holiday baking or to give as gifts this Christmas!

A note about our prices

The cost of shipping has already been added to the total purchase price, so the amount you see below is the amount you’ll pay. Also, you should know that this is the purest of the pure when it comes to Vanilla Extract. The vanilla beans are of the highest quality.

IMPORTANT: We don’t water down our vanilla. This is strong stuff, made only with alcohol and vanilla beans! I’ve checked other high quality vanilla extracts and the first ingredient is always water. Not this one!

The vanilla is so strong, in fact, you can use half the amount a recipe calls for. This makes your bottle go twice as far, making it a huge value for your money!

First come, first served

It’s fun to offer this to you! Get it while it’s gone! I’ll update this post as quantities become limited.

Heavenly Homemakers Vanilla Extract, 8 ounces
Heavenly Homemakers Vanilla Extract, 8 ounces
100% pure vanilla, shipping included in the price.
Price: $31.00
Heavenly Homemakers Vanilla Extract - TWO 8-ounce Bottle Package
Heavenly Homemakers Vanilla Extract - TWO 8-ounce Bottle Package
Enjoy a discount when you buy a two-pack of our 8-ounce vanilla bottles!
Price: $59.00
Heavenly Homemakers Vanilla Extract 2-ounce bottle
Heavenly Homemakers Vanilla Extract 2-ounce bottle
These bottles of homemade vanilla make wonderful stocking stuffers and teacher gifts!
Price: $10.00