Gratituesday: Bathroom Remodel

gratituesday[2]

Our house is over 100 years old.  This means that it has a lot of character, which we love.  It also means that it has a lot of issues, which we have been working on during the past 12 years we’ve lived here.

Remember when Matt knocked out our living room walls, added insulation, then rebuilt the walls three years ago?

Before

living_room_3
During (oh my)

living_room_7

After

living_room_2

There have been several other projects going on since then as our house is a never-ending project!  The latest?  Our downstairs bathroom.  This room has been a huge frustration the past few years with a toilet that doesn’t work efficiently (understatement!), a bathtub that leaks, a sink that…well, you really don’t need all the gory details.

Here’s where we are with our “new bathroom” at this point:

Before

bathroom 1

 During

bathroom 2

And the “after” is yet to come.  Matt is working double-time on this project because we very much need our second bathroom back.  We’re in the midst of picking tile and a shower and a vanity and choosing colors schemes.  This is not my specialty!  I’m going with earth tones.  You’re shocked, I’m sure.

I can’t wait to show you the finished bathroom, and I’m even more excited to have a bathroom for people to use when they come over that I won’t have to say, “Hold the flusher down for thirty minutes when you’re done, the plunger is in the bathtub if you need it, and if the door sticks when you’re trying to get out, just bang really loud and we’ll come kick it in for you.”

You think I’m kidding.

God is good to give us the resources to make these home improvements.  I’m so thankful for my husband and his hard work and know-how.  Very soon, I’ll be sharing the “after” picture of our beautiful new bathroom.  I can’t wait!

What are you thankful for this Gratituesday?  Leave a comment to let us know what God is doing in your life. 

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227 Healthy Snack Ideas and Recipes

It’s here!  The eBook that is going to take care of all your snacking needs.  Nourishing, simple, easy, and YUM – 227 times over.

227 Healthy Snacks

This book contains 59 pages full of 227 awesome snacking ideas.  These have all become our snacking staples, and they are sure to become yours too!

  • All 227 of these snack ideas and recipes can be prepared ahead of time for easy snacking.
  • More than 200 can be prepared or mixed up in a matter of a few minutes.
  • 145 of them are naturally gluten free or are recipes that can be easily adapted to become gluten free.

And how about the 78 recipes in this book?  I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had creating new recipes for this resource!  From homemade Payday candy bar knock-offs to oyster crackers to hearty cookies and bars to several varieties of crackers and so much more – you will love these simple, real food recipes.  Just for fun, I’ve even perfected a homemade fruit snack (lightly sweetened with honey)!

227 Healthy Snacks

I am so excited for you to enjoy this resource along with me!  We want you all to have a copy right away, so we’re giving you an introductory price of just $4.00!  Hurry to snatch the eBook at this price for this week only.

$7.95
$4.00 (through Saturday, January 31)

Add to Cart
Just for fun, I thought I’d share part of the recipe index this ebook includes:

Fruit and Veggie Snacks 

Apple Cinnamon Fruit Leather
Peach Fruit Leather
Apple Ring Pancakes
Sweet and Easy Fruit Salad
Hawaiian Islands Fruit Salad
Peaches and Cream Fruit Salad
Strawberry Kiwi Bowls
Asparagus Fries
Zucchini Pancakes
Cucumber Sandwiches
Chocolate Whipped Cream Topped Strawberries
Sweet Potato Fries
Cool Pineapple Cream Dessert
Orange Creamsicles
Strawberry Creamsicles

Snackin’ Dips

Super Easy Hummus
Green Chili Dip
Fresh and Quick Salsa
Spicy Sausage Chip Dip
Spicy Lentil Dip
Strawberry Yogurt Fruit Dip
Easy Nacho Cheese Dip

Popcorn Varieties

White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn
No Corn Syrup Caramel Corn
Chili Cheese Popcorn
Ranch Popcorn

Muffins and Quick Breads

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Pineapple Upside-Down Muffins
Pizza Muffin Bites
Orange Cranberry Muffins
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
Broccoli and Cheese Cornbread Muffins
Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins

Hearty Snack Bars and Cookies

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars
Caramel Oatmeal Bars
Crispy Snack Squares
Coconut Fudge Bars
Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Sweet Potato Squares
Chewy Flourless Peanut Butter Bars
Simple Baked Granola Bars
Banana Bars
Applesauce Bars
Pecan Pie Bars
Quick Snickerdoodle Bites
Strawberry Brownies
Pineapple Bars
Pineapple Coconut Bars
Chocolate Raspberry Bars
Carrot Bars
Cream Cheese Blueberry Bars
Chocolate Walnut Bars
Easy Peanut Butter Snack Bars
Chocolate Date Peanut Butter Bars
Chocolate Almond Granola Bars
Rice Crispy Balls
Honey Peanut Bars
Chocolate Peanut Butter Raisin Balls

Homemade Sweet or Savory Crackers

Oatmeal Crackers
Shortbread
Cheddar Pecan Crackers
Oyster Cracker Bites
Mini Chocolate Chip Cookie Snackers

Healthy Drink Snacks

Morning Glory Smoothie
Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie
Green Machine Milkshakes
Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Smoothie
Cool Watermelon Chiller
Pumpkin Spice Smoothie
Strawberry Banana Sipper
Chocolate Whipped Cream for Coffee

Other Snack Recipes

Homemade Fruit Snacks
Cranberry Nut Trail Mix
Pizzadillas
Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites
BLT Roll-Ups
Mexi Roll-Ups
Super Creamy Peanut Butter
Quick and Easy Crepes
Cream Cheese Filling for Crepes

$7.95
Get your 227 Healthy Snacks eBook for just $4.00!
(price good through January 31, 2015)

Add to Cart

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Menu Plan for This Week and a Freezer/Pantry Challenge Update

Well, with my huge stock-pile of food, we are still doing just fine with only purchasing fresh produce, eggs, and dairy.  Confession:  You will see a little package of Hormel’s Naturals lunch meat in this grocery shopping picture from this week.  I needed some slivered ham for a fun breakfast idea my friend Brenda told me about at Bunco.  I had to have it, yes I did.  You’ll be thankful she told me about this and that I veered off course just enough to buy it.  Just wait until I share the recipe.  :)

jan 22

This isn’t everything, by the way.  I had to make a mid-week run to the store since we were almost out of everything fresh.
I got cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, and I can’t remember what else because it’s gone already.

Can you believe I bought strawberries in January??  I can’t even believe it.  Somehow, they were a great price and actually looked good.  This never happens in Nebraska, but seeing as we are having 50° weather, it does sort of feel like spring.  Even if these strawberries aren’t as delicious as they are in the summertime, I figure that at the very least we can choke them down with some Chocolate Whipped Cream.  Yes, that shouldn’t be a problem.

I bought three packages of blueberries this week – woohoo for price matching!  I also price-matched broccoli, cauliflower, and apples.  This price-matching thing has been saving me a bundle.

Speaking of which, I am excited to share that our family has seen some significant grocery budget savings this month since I’ve bought only fresh food and have avoided buying anything for our freezers or pantry.  We will be ending the month with spending at just a tad over $400.  This number is fantastic for my family in this season of life.  (Oh my, I remember the days I spent less than that for everything including meat and pantry staples.  Hello, teenage appetites.)

I have also found it interesting to note that it takes between $100-$130 per week to keep us in fresh produce, eggs, and milk.  Seem like a lot?  I beg to differ.  That amount goes a long way toward awesome nutrition so it is very, very worth it.  I also love thinking about how our preserved garden produce helps keep that amount as low as it is.  I also (how many times can I use also in the same paragraph?) realize how blessed we are that our fresh milk and eggs are priced so very reasonably.

And now, here is our list of menu items for this week.  What a blessing to have so much variety and so much good food!

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Fruit and Veggie Sides (I serve 1-4 with each meal)

If you are also taking an “Eat from the Pantry and Freezer” Challenge, I’d love to hear how it is going for you!

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Use Coconut Oil For Fantastically Healthy Baked Goods (Free Shipping from Tropical Traditions!)

If you make no other changes in your diet, at least switch over unhealthy fats for healthy fats.  Butter and Coconut Oil are amazing, both in nutritional value and in flavor.  Do this.  You will love it.  Your body will love it.  Your baked goods will love it.

Seriously, my baked goods used to taste so weird and turn out looking so weird when I used margarine.  <— naughty word

Butter and coconut oil can’t help but turn out a great baked good.  They are real.  Real food makes real good food.  <— someone should embroider that quote and hang it on a wall

Now the best news:  There are some great coconut oil sales going on this weekend.  Take advantage of this and be on your way to better health (and really yummy food).  First off, my very favorite, top of the line, coconut oil of all coconut oils is on sale this weekend at Tropical Traditions.  Get two quart jars of Organic Gold Label Coconut Oil for just $45.  This makes them $22.50 each for the highest quality oil I’ve ever seen or used.  This variety has a light coconut flavor.

tropical traditions coconut oil 2
Next, Tropical Traditions is offering two 16-ounce jars of their Pure Coconut Oil for a total of just $12.50!  That is crazy low, and I love it.  Stock up!!!  Why is this one so much lower than the one I mentioned above?  Because it is processed just a little differently.  While it’s not as high quality as their Gold Label oil, I still love the Pure Coconut Oil and it is still very nutritious.  This one is odorless and flavorless – perfect for those of you who want the health benefit but not the coconut flavor.  I use both varieties.  :)

tropical traditions pure coconut oil
The best news of all?  Tropical Traditions is offering free shipping this weekend!!!  With a minimum purchase of $19.00, use the code 15261 and receive free shipping.  I only purchase when I can pair their sale prices with free shipping.

One more thing:  New customers with Tropical Traditions automatically receive a free Virgin Coconut Oil Book with your order.

Happy baking!

This post contains referral links.

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Lilla Rose Flash Sale Today!

Look what’s happening at Lilla Rose today!

flash sale

You can take advantage of this WITH Paula’s special offer:

Get a FREE SURPRISE FLEXI when you place a $40 order between now and January 23!!!*

*Place an order of $40 or more (excluding tax and shipping) through Paula’s website, then message her to redeem your free surprise flexi! Offer valid for U.S. customers only and expires January 23, 2015. This is for both new and Paula’s returning customers, but if you already have another Lilla Rose consultant, please stay with her; I’m sure she will appreciate it!

Too fun!

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Honey Peanut Bars ~ Like a Healthy Payday Candy Bar

Ladies and um, other Ladies (although surely there is a gentleman or three around here too):  We have a winner!

Thanks to all who put in their vote as to which of the new healthy snack recipes from our upcoming eBook we should reveal early.  It was a pretty close call on several.  I put Malachi to work making tally marks as votes came in (a great school project for him).  He had a lot of fun with it…

counting votes

Here’s how my afternoon sounded:

“Pizza Muffins are in the lead.  They’re going to win for sure!”
“Mom!  Peanut Bars have a ton of votes.  They caught up to Pizza Muffins.”
“I think Oyster Crackers are going to pull ahead!”
“It’s back to the Peanut Bars.  Why is everyone choosing that one?”

Yeah, Malachi doesn’t like peanuts.  ;)

When it was all said and done, the Honey Peanut Bars won by several votes.  Not to worry though.  Our 227 Healthy Snacks eBook is almost finished.  Then you’ll have access to all the recipes forever!  (Our goal is to have the book ready for you by Sunday night.)

I mixed up a batch of these Honey Peanut Bars tonight again, just because they sounded good.  Our older boys will probably finish them all off once they get home from basketball practice.  What a perfect post-workout/bedtime snack for them.  (With apples and cheese and whatever else they get out because…do I really need to explain?)

You should be excited to know that it only took about five minutes for me to mix these up tonight.  Their simplicity is of the many reasons I love them.  :)

Honey Peanut Bars

1 1/4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup roasted, unsalted almonds
1/3 cup honey
3 Tablespoons natural creamy peanut butter
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

In a small saucepan stir honey, peanut butter, and salt together over low heat until well combined.  Remove from heat.  Stir in peanuts and almonds.  Spread mixture into an 8×8 inch pan.  Chill for 2 hours.  Cut into bars.

Honey Peanut Bars - Better Than a Payday

Told you they were easy to make!  Go grab your simple ingredients and get busy on these bars.  You will love them as much as we do (well, everyone but Malachi).  Be watching for 227 Healthy Snacks – coming very, very soon!

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Lilla Rose Giveaway Winners

The winners of our Lilla Rose Flexi-Clips are:

1) Carie W-F: folzfamily@
2) Lynette: netteshome@
3) Betsy: betsy.tripp@

Winners, please email me and I’ll forward your info on to Paula for your prize. :)

Don’t forget:

Get a FREE SURPRISE FLEXI when you place a $40 order between now and January 23!!!*

*Place an order of $40 or more (excluding tax and shipping) through Paula’s website, then message her to redeem your free surprise flexi! Offer valid for U.S. customers only and expires January 23, 2015. This is for both new and Paula’s returning customers, but if you already have another Lilla Rose consultant, please stay with her; I’m sure she will appreciate it!

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A Safer Kitchen ~ What to Do About Aluminum Bakeware (and a giveaway from Healthy Cooking Products!)

I really appreciate our discussion last week on switching from Teflon to cast iron and stainless steel!  Today we’re going to talk about our bakeware.

A Safer Kitchen

Many cookie sheets and cake pans are made from aluminum.  Unfortunately, this is not a safe option.  Nor are the baking pans that have a teflon-like non stick coating.  Here are safer alternatives that I’ve switched to through the years:

Glass

We all know how much I love my Pyrex.  :)  For casseroles and cakes, I use 9×13 Pyrex dishes.  I love these so much!!!

pyrex_4

Stoneware

I love baking bread in stones.  Not only are they safe, they make my bread turn out delish!

loaf pan

 

Silicone Mats or Parchment Paper

I have several cookie sheets that are made from aluminum.  They are in great shape, but I don’t like my food to touch aluminum.  I’ve been using sheets of parchment paper to cover the pan, which works great – but even though I reuse the sheets a time or two, I don’t like using the paper.

I was very grateful when the folks at Healthy Cooking Products contacted me and sent me some of their silicone mats to try.  This is a great solution, and a huge money saver.  No more purchasing parchment paper!  These mats are BPA free and can be used over and over and over.  I lay them on top of my aluminum cookie sheets, and they protect my food.  I am very excited about this solution!

healthy cooking products 1 (2)

My dad and his wife gave me this super nice air bake pan for Christmas this year since they know how much I love to bake.  I am so glad I can use it now with these easy mats.  They wash up very nicely, then roll up to store.

healthy cooking products 1

We made cookie dough balls last week to store in the freezer for a “cookie emergency.”  My silicone mat fit perfectly on this cookie sheet.  It does not get easier.

healthy cooking products 4

I also used a mat on my aluminum pan this week to make homemade pizza.  It worked great, and clean up was super easy!

I’m anxious to hear what you use for baking!  Glass, stoneware, parchment on cookie sheets?  I encourage you to look into these silicone mats from Healthy Cooking Products.  They are very reasonably priced (only $9.00 right now) and will be a big money saver since having them means you don’t have to use parchment paper.

I have some of these great mats to give away!  Four of you will receive two mats each from Healthy Cooking Products.  Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win.  I will draw four random winners on Wednesday, January 28.  Be watching for a post stating the winners as you will be responsible for contacting me if your name is chosen.

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Which Healthy Snack Recipe Do You Want Me To Reveal?

We are putting the final touches on our newest eBook, 227 Healthy Snacks!  See, lookie…

227 Healthy Snacks

UPDATE!!  The book is here – we are so excited!  Come check out 227 Healthy Snacks.  :)  Also our winning recipe is Honey Peanut Bars.  Be sure to check it out!

This is most exciting because who of us doesn’t need a resource full of healthy snack ideas and easy recipes?!  We all need this.  Or is your family among the “perfectly satisfied between meals” sort?  I do not even get this.  I feed my family huge meals, and we still need snacks.  I need them too.  It helps me not pass out between lunch and dinner, plus snacks enable me to finish sentences, which I find to be quite beneficial in my line of work.

During the past 14 months, I have been testing out new recipe ideas, brainstorming new snack options, and becoming very creative in the kitchen.  The results are exciting!  At a quick glance, we’ll all have almost 60 pages worth of snack ideas to draw from.  The book includes links to healthy snack recipes on my website for easy access, and best of all – 78 new, easy, real food recipes!!!

I can not wait to share these with you!!  Many have become our newest snacking staples, and shucks – I’ve even started using some of them for quick breakfasts or lunches.

My hunky editor (chill out everyone, I’m talking about my husband) is almost finished fine-tooth-combing the final draft.  Soon we’ll have the file saved an uploaded into our shop.  In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to give you just a little peek into what a few of these new recipes look like.

That’s right.  We’re only showing you a picture.  It’s almost cruel.  After you look through them, leave a comment, giving your vote as to which recipe you would like me to share here.  The winning choice will be revealed on Friday, along with the recipe, free for the taking!  Soon after, the entire book full of 227 Healthy Snack Ideas and Recipes will be ready to go (at a fun discount, no less).

So are you ready?  These are just some of our family’s favorites as I experimented my way through new snacking ideas!

1. Asparagus Fries

asparagus fries

I figured, what better way to get my family to eat asparagus than to fry it?  This turned out to be a very, very good idea.

2. Pizza Muffin Bites

pizza muffins

Wow, the flavor in these is rockin’ – like eating a little bite of pizza without all the effort it takes to make a pizza.  Plus, these are perfect to take on the road.

3. Pecan Pie Bars

pecan pie bars

These taste like heaven on a plate.  The whole family agrees.

4. Quick Snickerdoodle Bites

snickerdoodle bars

We loved these so much, declaring them to be a favorite of all our favorites – if in fact you can declare such a thing.

5. Strawberry Brownies

strawberry brownies

There are strawberries blended up in these brownies, giving these extra nourishment and the best flavor you can imagine.  It’s like eating a chocolate covered strawberry!

6. Chocolate Raspberry Bars

chocolate raspberry bars

These were a very pleasant surprise!  The chocolate and raspberry together created a fantastic flavor combination.

7. Blueberry Cream Cheese Bars

blueberry cream cheese bars

These are moist, lightly sweetened, and perfectly decadent with the cream cheese/blueberry combination.

8. Honey Peanut Bars

peanut bars

It’s like a homemade Payday candy bar, only with no corn syrup, way less sugar, and much better tasting.  These are Matt’s favorite of the favorites.  SO good.

9. Oyster Cracker Bites

oyster crackers

I’ve been wanting to come up with a healthy oyster cracker recipe for years.  I finally figured it out!  Buttery, crispy, and easy too.

Alrighty, that’s just a tiny peek into what the new eBook holds.  Are you ready to make your vote?  Leave a comment telling me what recipe you want to see first, then the recipe receiving the most votes will be revealed on Friday so you can start snacking right away.  Watch for the new book early next week.  :)

Thanks for joining our fun!  Let’s hear it for your top pick!

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Gratituesday: The Third Teenager

It’s official.  Three of our boys are teenagers now.

fam 51

Our brother-in-law took this while we were in CA at Christmas time.

While I will admit that bigger issues and bigger decisions come with having bigger kids, I still hold to the truth that teenagers are delightful and are not to be feared.  Having three teenagers in our house is awesome.  In fact, when I got a terribly sad phone call from my dad tonight, letting me know that my dear uncle had gone (fairly unexpectedly) to be with the Lord – and Matt wasn’t home – my teens took his place, holding me while I sobbed and listening to me while I said stuff that didn’t make sense.  These teenage boys are precious – and now there are three of them.

To celebrate Elias (our third son) turning 13 over the weekend, Matt did what has become our tradition.  Together they chose an event to attend – just the two of them, father and son.  They spent the day driving, talking, and enjoying BBQ and an indoor soccer game a few hours away.  Matt had made arrangements with some godly men in Elias’ life to call throughout the day to speak a word of blessing on him and to encourage him as he begins to think like a man and godly leader.  I believe he was a few inches taller when he got home.

I love these teenagers (and their 10 year old brother) more than words can say.  Now, I weep for the loss of my uncle and for all that his wife and kids are going through.  I praise God all the while that my uncle is singing with Jesus.  I realize my thoughts are not cohesive.  I started writing this, then started making dinner, then got the phone call, then I needed to finish writing this post.  It doesn’t have to make sense, right?  But in the midst of grief, there is always so much to be grateful for.

Please take the time to leave a comment and share what you are grateful for.  God’s goodness is overflowing in our lives!

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