Fun Fall Crafts and a “Share Your Story” Service Challenge

Share Your Story Service Challenge 2

I’m not a very artsy-craftsy person.  In fact, once when I was a teenager, I was trying to make a basket that looked like a bunny rabbit.  When I handed it to the recipient she exclaimed, “Oh what a cute kitten!”  Whenever I attempt to make Snowman Pancakes, they look like blobs with a chocolate chip face.  It was a miraculous feat when I pulled off making a piñata in the shape of a Lego with a shoe box, eight bottle lids, and sheets of tissue paper.

This is why, when I got a fun idea to make gift sacks with owls on them, I was not very confident.  My boys didn’t help matters.  “Nice turkey, Mom,” said one.  When I asked another what he thought it was, he said, “I can definitely tell it’s a bird.  If it was black, I’d say penguin.  I’ll just stick with bird.”  But then, when one of my friends walked into my house while I was putting the finishing touches on my gift sacks, she exclaimed, “Oh look at your owls!  You are so clever!”

YESSSSSSSS!  My owls look like owls!  (and turkeys and penguins)

owl gift sacks

While I’m a far better cook that I am a craft creator, I do really enjoy putting together simple projects – especially if it means I can bless someone.  This project happens to involve food too, so yay for me!  I’ll fill the gift sacks with homemade goodies and deliver them to our “adopted college students.”  Even if they can’t tell it’s an owl, I’m pretty sure they’ll recognize the Chocolate Chip Brownies inside, right?

So here’s what I’m thinking:  Crafty or not, you should join me by blessing someone during the next two weeks!  We have some fun (and easy!) free printables for you, as well as plenty of recipes to choose from.  Pick a project or three, get your whole family involved, and love up on the people around you.  The best way for your kids to learn to serve others is by serving right along side you!  Let’s all do this together.  It’ll be fun!

“Share Your Story” Service Challenge

1.  Pray with your family about who you would like to bless.
2.  Pick your project.  Make a craft and/or choose a recipe from our site to make and take to someone.
3.  Work on the project together, taking pictures to share with us.
4.  Deliver your goodies, taking more pictures if you like.
5.  Send me your pictures and tell me your story.  What’d you make? Who’d you bless? What did your kids think?

This isn’t so any of us can say, “I’m awesome.  I blessed someone.” But when we let the light of Jesus shine through us, it encourages others.  We want to read your story for inspiration and so that we can gain more fun ideas!

You’ve already got oodles of ideas for ways to serve people with your kids if you have our Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve curriculum.  Keep at it!  Your kids are learning so much about how to bless people!  Need more ideas?  Well, here’s what we’ve worked up for you:

Owl Gift Sacks Free Printable

Download the cut-outs for the Owl Gift Sacks here.  Grab some lunch sacks, scissors, and a glue stick and have fun making your sacks.  Fill them with goodies and go bless someone!

Be Thankful Owl Craft Share on Blog

Download your Build-an-Owl Be Thankful Craft.  Make it into a card for someone, an ornament for someone, or a treat topper.  Bake up some goodies, attach your owl, and make your delivery.

Pumpkin and Apple Stickers

Here are some fun sticker labels for delicious fall treats to go with recipes you’ll find here at Heavenly Homemakers.  Get the download links and details about these stickers here.  Below, you’ll find the links to each Fall Recipe.

More treat ideas you’ll find here to help you bless someone:

The possibilities are limitless!  Start working on your ideas with your family, and send us your story and pictures by Saturday, November 8.  I can’t wait to see what you do and share them here.  Thank you for joining me in this effort to bless others.  Enjoy serving with your kids!

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Whole Wheat Zucchini Carrot Bread & Natural Value Foods 25% off Plus 20% off at Amazon

The more nutrients you can stuff into one recipe, the better, right?  My friend Emily tried this idea of adding shredded carrots into zucchini bread, then let me know that I should try it.  Great idea.  Mmmmm, so good!

Zucchini Carrot Bread

3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup honey
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, sea salt, nutmeg and baking powder.  Stir in honey, zucchini, carrots, eggs, and melted butter.  Mix ingredients until dry ingredients are moistened.  Pour into two well buttered loaf pans.  Bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

zucchini carrot bread

Slices of this Zucchini Carrot Bread would be perfect in your Make-Ahead Lunch Box!  Simply allow the bread to cool, slice, wrap individually, then freeze.  Pull a wrapped slice of bread out of the freezer, then toss it into your lunch box for a dessert or snack!

What other veggie combinations have you thrown together in quick breads?

While I’ve got you, I wanted you to know about these ROCKIN’ coupons at Amazon.  Natural Value brand is already lower in price than many organic foods.  Right now, they are offering 25% off coupons at Amazon on many of their great items!  Plus, if you have Amazon Prime/Mom and order at least 5 subscribe and save items, you’ll get an additional 20% off too!  I grabbed six cases of Natural Value items we use frequently for great deals.  Here’s what I got:

Natural Value Coupons at Amazon

This post contains affiliate links.

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Make-Ahead Breakfast Foods ~ Share Your Story

Share Your Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Story

Karen sent in this story along with yummy food pictures of her efforts.  I always love hearing how people make healthy food ahead of time to save money and energy when feeding their families well!  Have a story to share about how you’re using our recipes?  Send them to us, along with your pictures!

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Make-Ahead Breakfast Crustless Quiches and Breakfast Burritos

Our family loves so many of the recipes from Heavenly Homemakers and from Laura’s cookbook Oh, for Real. I’ve been inspired by Laura’s example to do Make Ahead Meals. What a huge timesaver! Here is what I did this morning to help tuck some breakfasts away for future use while at the same time serving breakfast for my family today.

First I cooked up a pan of diced potatoes.  Next I made up a big batch (one dozen) of Breakfast Crustless Quiches:  using some of the cooked diced potatoes and some meat. Turkey Sausage Crumble works especially well in this recipe. . I used an extra large muffin pan.

karen breakfast 11

Next I made a big pan of Breakfast Burritos mixture but I switched out the meat option to some diced ham.

The family then helped themselves to whatever they wanted for breakfast. The rest of the Crustless Quiches I put into sandwich bags and then into a  freezer bag. Instead of making the full Breakfast Burrito as shown in Laura’s directions, I put 2/3 cup of the egg-potato-ham mixture in snack bags and we will assemble the breakfast burritos later individually – this works well for us. Those snack bags then went into a larger freezer bag and into the freezer.

karen breakfast 22

Both the frozen Breakfast Crustless Quiches and the bags of Breakfast Burrito mixture thaw out well in the refrigerator overnight (this just requires an ounce of pre-planning the night before!) These individual servings can then be warmed up in the toaster oven, a regular oven, or in the microwave.

Besides serving my family breakfast this morning, I now have 19 breakfast servings stowed away in the freezer for busy days ahead. And I only have to wash the bowls & pans once for this fantastic yield!

Karen

Awesome work, Karen!  I haven’t made those Crustless Quiches for a while, but I’m encouraged to get that done.  Such a great breakfast to pull out, warm up, and serve!

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Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips – Great Price at Amazon!

My friend emailed to let me know that we can get a 6-Pack of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips for just $20.88.  Sweet!

These are allergen free and yummy.  It’s a great time to stock up!  Shipping if free if you have Amazon Prime.  I keep this variety of chocolate chips in our freezer to use in baking.  They are great!

enjoy life six pack

Need some recipe ideas for your chocolate chips?  Here are our favorites:

This post contains affiliate links.

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Our IronEase Pro Giveaway Winners

www.demachinor.comThe winners of our IronEase Pro Giveaway are:

U.S. – Tracey: girlstogrow@

Canada – Jonnie: dftrew@

Congrats!  Winners, please email me with your full name and address, and I’ll forward your information on for your prize.  Enjoy!

Everyone be sure to check out IronEase Pro on their site, and also at Amazon.  It’s an amazing ironing board!

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How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

If you’ve never tried Spaghetti Squash, I highly recommend you add this to your veggie eating repertoire.

For the record, I don’t think I can pull off correctly pronouncing the word repertoire.  I just thought that sentence sounded better than me simply stating, “Yo. You should totally eat Spaghetti Squash.”

We were blessed with several fantastic spaghetti squash in our garden this summer and fall.  I’m not sure there’s a better meal than home grown spaghetti squash, served with sauce made from home grown tomatoes.  It’s delicious!  Plus, practically free.  Plus, super healthy.  It’s merveilleux! ( I can’t pronounce that either, but it means “wonderful” in French.  In other words: YUM.)

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

1.  Rinse outside of the squash.
2.  Poke squash with a knife or fork 3-4 times.
3.  Place squash in a baking dish, uncovered.
4.  Bake in a 350° for 45-60 minutes or until squash is tender.
5.  Cut squash in half to open.
6.  Pull out seeds and discard.
7.  Use a fork to pull “spaghetti” away from the inside of the rind. (This is the fun part!)
8.  Serve cooked spaghetti squash as is, or serve with your favorite red or white sauce.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Beyond Spaghetti Sauce, we love this squash with Alfredo Sauce and Italian Cream Cheese Chicken.

Are you a fan of Spaghetti Squash, or is this something you’ve not yet added to your veggie repertoire?  What’s your favorite way to serve Spaghetti Squash?  Can you pronounce the word repertoire?

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Gratituesday: God is Stronger Than a Hail Storm

gratituesday[2]

In early June, our garden looked like this:

garden145

Full of plants protected by buckets looked like this:

garden144

A few days later, a hail storm came through, and our garden looked like this:

hail garden 1

It seemed as if we had lost everything.  Our rows and rows of green bean plants had no leaves left.  Our pepper and tomato plants were completely broken down.  It looked like nothing had survived.  We decided to replant a few green bean seeds, and consider the rest of the garden to be a loss.  It would be a small garden this year, and we would just make do.

hail garden 2

But guess what?  God is bigger than any of our gardening efforts, and He is most certainly bigger than a hail storm!!   We left our broken, leafless plants alone.  Within a few weeks, they had turned back into thriving plants again.  Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!

Not only that, we had a lot of rain this summer and fall – so much so that our garden and all the fruit trees around this area have been kicking out the produce like I’ve never seen before.  So now, our garden looks like this:

produce 147

So many beautiful peppers!

Our green bean plants have provided bucket after bucket of green beans.  We’ve eaten them to our heart’s content – 4 months of fresh-from-the-garden green beans!!!  And we’ve frozen many gallon-sized bags of beans too.  We’ll be enjoying them all winter!

produce 146 (1)

Our tomato plants are still giving us many tomatoes every day.  Plus we’re picking spaghetti squash and honey dew melon.

produce 148

An orchard nearby has had the best “apple year” I’ve ever seen.  These bags keep making their way into my kitchen (and the kitchens of my friends).  We’re eating all we can hold, and making jar after jar of Homemade Applesauce.

produce 141

All this to say - we thought we’d be done enjoying garden produce by June after the hail storm was so destructive.   The joke’s on us.  We started canning and freezing produce in July.  Here it is the end of October and we are still going strong.  I usually have my canning supplies packed away by now.  Not this year.  There’s still applesauce to make and green beans to pick.  I am amazed!  I shouldn’t be though.  Isn’t it just like God to show us in such mighty ways of His love and care for us?

Here’s a fun peek into our pantry and freezers.  We have over 50 jars of applesauce, and I’ll be making more this week and next.  This batch turned out so pink, it looks like I added food coloring!  Nope, just straight empire apples.  So pretty!

produce 145

Some friends gave us cucumbers, so I made about 40 jars of dill pickles.  It was a fun experiment and they turned out great!

dill pickles

We bought sweet corn at a road-side stand in August, and froze about a dozen quart-sized bags.  Pay no attention to the fact that I desperately need to defrost my freezers.  I would if I wasn’t so busy canning and freezing produce.

produce 149

I’ve stuffed bags of green beans in our freezers as I’ve found room.  Pay no attention to the fact that I desperately need to re-organize my freezers.  I would if I wasn’t so busy canning and freezing produce.

produce 150

Our peach tree did pretty well this year, so we canned about a dozen quarts, and froze several bags of sliced peaches for smoothies.

produce 142

Next you see a mixture of Sweet Pickle Relish (from the cucumbers our friends shared with us), Homemade Salsa, and more Applesauce.

produce 143

As you can see from the above picture, I’m no longer organizing the jars as I fit them into my pantry.  I’m at a point of simply trying to find room for it all.  Dozens and dozens of full jars of produce!  It is so exciting!!

I’m so grateful for the bounty and for God’s sense of humor.  There may have been a hail storm, but that didn’t stop God from giving us one of our best garden years ever!  Go God!

What are you celebrating this Gratituesday?  Leave a comment to share what you’re grateful for!

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Money Saving Monday ~ Stretching Your Dollars While Eating Healthy Food

Money Saving Monday large

Never before have I recognized the need to find money-saving grocery methods as I do now.  My boys have always been big eaters.  But now that 2-almost-3-out of 4 of them are teenagers?  There is no sentence to follow that question.  It’s just.  The food.  They eat.  I’m so.  Wow.

It’s a pleasure to watch them eat actually.  Big appetites are fun for a food lovin’ Mama like me.  But I have to find as many ways as possible to make our grocery dollars stretch.  Just last week, I decided to buy some thick deli-sliced ham for a quick lunch.  It was on sale, so I bought several inches of it, hoping I could stretch it with a bunch of side dishes, and therefore save about a half pound to go with eggs for breakfast the next day.  Y’all.  I fried every last bit of that ham, fried some leftover baked potatoes, opened a can of baked beans, pulled out half a pineapple, pulled out a pint of pickles, pulled some tortilla chips to go with leftover Cream Cheese Salsa Dip and leftover Spicy Avocado Dip, pulled a bowl of raw broccoli with homemade ranch dip – and nothing was left at the end of the meal.  Then they said, “Can we have the rest of those peanut butter cookies?”

This is why their legs keep growing and their shoes are too small before they even get them broken in.  (Praise God with me! Two of our boys found brand new pairs of very nice quality running shoes at our church clothing exchange last week for FREE.  Hallelujah! Put the money we would have spent on shoes toward more eggs and meat.)

You know how I share that I buy in bulk all the time?  A friend of mine came over to take a look at my food purchasing and storage system.  She saw all of the containers of pasta.  She saw all the jars of home-canned produce.  She saw all the 50-pound bags of wheat, oats, and rice.  She saw my all my cocoa powder, bottles of ketchup, jars of mayo, and cans of tuna.  She saw my three freezers (THREE!) full of meat and frozen fruits and veggies.  She saw it all.  Her question:

“So, would this food last you for about a year do you think?”  Oh dear, no (said I, with a giggle).  What you see here will be gone in three months.

Well anyway, money saving tips on food are necessary – for all of us, wouldn’t you agree?

Each Monday for the next few weeks, I plan to share a way to save money while eating healthy food.  Healthy food is so important so that we can all thrive physically and emotionally!  These posts won’t be about skimping on nutrition, but rather attaining nutrition without breaking the bank.

Money Saving Monday at Heavenly Homemakers

Of course, I’ll continue to share all the great online deals I find at anytime throughout the week.  But I continue learning new tricks to keep my healthy food grocery budget reasonable.  I can’t wait to share!

Will you help out as we start this series?  Leave a comment letting us know:

1.  What are your favorite ways to save money on healthy foods?
2.  What are the areas you struggle with most while trying to save money on healthy foods?

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Menu Plan for the Week – A Little Bit Different This time

Remember the big boxes we got in our Amazon order last week?  Malachi has made very good use of them.  We’ve cut flaps for doors and secret hide-outs, and we’ve gone through way too much packing tape.  Malachi keeps watching for the UPS man to come back and bring more boxes.  Sorry, Buddy.  Mama got a big order, but I don’t think Mr. UPS is coming back this week.  :)

malachi fort

In other news, I’m finding that my current menu planning system isn’t working very well right now.  This school year is trying to knock me flat.  We added a few different (and good!) academic endeavors this year.  I’m amazed at the extra time it takes away from my blog work and house work.  In addition, I’ve been doing a lot of canning, and need to do more during the next few weeks.

So, in an effort to simplify my kitchen work even more (and I already feel that it has been pretty basic), I’m going to try a different menu planning system this week.  The idea is that I will list food ideas for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Fruits/Veggies based on the ingredients I have on hand.  For each day, I’ll just look at the list and figure out what I have time to work on.  We always have 1-4 fruits or veggies with each meal, so we can pull those out quickly to put with each meal.

Make sense?  I think the crock pot is going to get a work-out.  :)  Here’s what we’ll be working with this week:

Breakfasts

Lunches

Dinners

Fruit and Veggie Side Dishes

We’ll see how this works, and I’ll report back next week!  I may find that it works better for me to have everything planned specifically like I’ve done for years.  But what if this is a change for the better?  We’ll see!

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Heavenly Homemakers Recipes Across the Globe ~ Share Your Story

Share Your Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Story

I actually cried when I read this story sent in by Jennifer.  What can I say?  I tear up easily.  I am so honored that God is using this site to bless people in so many ways.  Plus, this story reminds me so much of MY STORY.  I also didn’t grow up with sisters, but have gained three by marriage.  I am so thankful for these sisters in my life now.  Here’s Jennifer:

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I did not grow up with sisters, only one brother.  When I married I gained two sisters and a sister in law.  Score!  My sister in law, her husband (my husband’s brother…confused yet?!?) and their three young children have lived in Central Asia as missionaries for the last seven years.  We both have three children.  She has one boy and two girls and we have three boys.  When they left my oldest was in preschool.  He is starting middle school this year.  Sigh.  They’ve been back to the  states just a few times over those seven years.  

We try to communicate as much as possible via skype.  When we are able to talk guess what we discuss?  Your recipes!!  We love it.  We talk about what we like, how we adapted it, who ate it and so on.  Last fall, after several years of saving, my husband and I were able to visit them while they were working.  Guess what she served?  Heavenly Homemakers recipes!  We had the best time sitting around her table, eating good food and visiting.  
 
Living worlds apart is difficult to say the least, but Heavenly Homemakers has been a common bond.  Few things in our daily lives, outside of our mutual love of the Lord, are similar, but almost daily one of us has a HH recipe on our table.  It makes me smile.  Thanks for all you do and your daily encouragement!
 
In Him, 
Jennifer
 
PS-While in Central Asia with them she made your Breakfast Cake, but added fresh pumpkin and white chocolate chips.  It was a winner! 
breakfast_cake_3

Share with us:  Who did God bless you with when you got married, or when a sibling of yours got married?

Also, keep sending in your stories and pictures.  I love ‘em!
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