Homemaking | Recipes and Resources

This is Part II of my Meal Planning posts.  If you missed Part I... go here.

One of the keys to meal planning is having your tried-and-true recipes that you know your family will love.  It takes some time to develop that list, but once you do, it makes meal planning so much easier. Take a minute and try to jot down 5-10 recipes that your family always enjoys and then come back and read the rest of this post... :)

Another key is having your tried-and-true resources to go to in order to hunt down new/fresh recipes. That's where cooking blogs, Pinterest, and wonderful cookbooks come into play.  I enjoy flipping through cook books so much.  Pinterest is so helpful when I have certain ingredients in my pantry/fridge that I need to use up.  I just do a simple search in the Pinterest search engine using those key ingredients... and voila- a list of recipes pop up!

A few of my favorite cook books are:

 Feeding a Family.  Sarah is a mama of two little boys and her cookbook is arranged by seasons.  The recipes are different, but easy, and they don't require a bazillion ingredients. I received this one for Christmas last year and have enjoyed it every season since.   

If you are a cook that likes down home cooking and comfort food... Magnolia Table is the book for you.  I have made several recipes and we have enjoyed each one.  Most of these are a bit heavy for us to eat on a regular basis, but we do enjoy them from time to time.  I think it is a great book to have on hand in every lady's cooking arsenal.  

My Family Table is a great one to have for when you want to include delicious, healthy meals/sides into your meal planning.  These recipes have good ingredients and come together nicely.  This book is arranged according to types of meals/foods.  

And every cook needs a basic, stood the test of time cook book.  This is where the Betty Crocker cook book slips in.  I was given this one for our wedding and I have pulled it out countless times.  It has basic recipes that turn out every time and sauces, spices, and roux recipes.

The latest cookbook that I've purchased is The Minimalist Kitchen.  I usually like to get a new cookbook every winter to thumb through and to inspire me in the kitchen.  This one has been amazing.  We have tried many of the recipes and have loved them all.  The ingredients are simple and they easily double if you have a larger family.  I highly recommend this cookbook!

Now to jot down a few of our favorite recipes for you to check out:


Taco Soup
2 lbs ground beef
Yellow onion diced
Can pinto beans
Can corn
Can diced tomatoes
Large can/bottle of tomato juice
jar of salsa
2 packages taco seasoning

Brown beef with diced onion- drain.  Pour other ingredients into pot and add beef/onion. Let simmer.

Chili- this one is probably pretty self-explanatory :)

Other Recipes-

Tacos are a favorite and we eat them in one form or another every week.  Some weeks we eat them traditional.  Other weeks, I might make them as a taquito, quesadilla, or as a taco sweet potato.  

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are loved here in this house.  I will usually make a meat of some sort for my kids to eat along with the potatoes.  Mark and I simply eat the potatoes.  

My Eat and Savor Pinterest board...

Hamburgers are always a hit at our house.  I like to sauté mushrooms and onions to slather on top.  Or, maybe some sliced avocado and cucumber.  I usually make baked sweet potato fries and recently I baked these squash fries and they were amazing! I like to take the normal "boring" meal and jazz it up a bit so we don't get bored with it.  

We like to combine BLT ingredients with Chicken Salad ingredients and eat either on a whole wheat pita or inside of a lettuce wrap.  We've even been known to put a spoonful of the mixture on a slice of cucumber and eat it just like that. :). To make this you will need to combine:

7 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled
2 cups of chopped chicken
Quartered grape tomatoes
chopped pecans
diced bell peppers
diced red onion
Mayo and Dijon mustard to taste
Maybe some "everything but the bagel" seasoning from Trader Joes

Lay on a bed of lettuce or inside of a pita!

I hope that helped get your cooking juices flowing.  Enjoy!

Homemaking | Autumn's Arrival

Autumn's arrival brings with it many things.  The season turns from hot and heavy to cool and crisp.  Cozy blankets get placed throughout the house to make curling up easier.  The tea cups that have been stowed away for months are suddenly feeling brand new again and the tea kettle has found it's cool-weather home on the stove top.

Our leftover beeswax candles from last winter are layered here and there and give a soft, warm glow during the early morning and late evening hours.  Cinnamon Bark diffuses with Orange and Idaho Blue Spruce and suddenly everything smells fall-ish.  It's one of my favorite feelings.

Soups simmer weekly and windows are propped open all day long.  Sunlight glows as it is filtered through the creamy linen curtains. Lamps begin to light the rooms as we prepare for bedtime due to the days disappearing quicker.

Weekends are spent around the fire on the back patio with the twinkle lights hanging overhead.  Friends and neighbors are invited over to enjoy the cool evenings after a long summer of staying indoors.  I have gone to the basement and dug out the jackets that now hang on the wall and make our already small laundry space feel a bit more dainty.  Summer clothes have been stored until the warmer months return and fluffy sweaters fill our drawers.

I am impacted by seasons more than I'd like to admit.  Mark and I have tossed around the idea of moving off several times throughout our marriage, and we have both come to the strong conclusion that we could never settle where there aren't the changing of seasons (unless the good Lord were to call us to such a place:)).  I love how the air changes and memories from my childhood come to me as we ebb and flow from spring to summer... summer to fall, and so on.  So, as we head into one of my very favorite seasons, I hope you find some sweetness in the transition.

Homemaking | Meal Planning Introduction

One of the most stressful parts of motherhood is when my kids are surrounding me asking me what's for supper and I have no idea because I have next to little "supper-type" foods in my kitchen and no plan.  This usually happens to me after I have a long stretch of being a productive cook in the kitchen... followed by me being lazy because I think I have "earned" not having to provide meals. *insert monkey covering face ashamedly emoji*

I love when we sit down and everyone enjoys the meal I've cooked. It is one of my favorite times of the day.  I also love searching for recipes and being in the kitchen cooking, but I do get lazy sometimes.  There are times that I get out of the habit and then I feel as if I've completely forgotten what meals we even like, or how to plan a week's worth of meals.  If you are in this season, I hope this post helps jump start you.  If you are in a season of productive planning and executing, I hope this post helps keep you inspired.

I usually sit down with my cook books, recipes, and computer either on a Friday (if I'm on top of my game) or Sunday (if I get a wee-bit lazy ;)).  I'm all about making the normal, mundane enjoyable, if I can, so I pour a cup of coffee or tea, play some classical music, and light a beeswax candle as I plan my week.

I write down my days on a piece of notebook paper.  I jot down important events that I need to consider when planning- evenings when the girls have dance, evenings when Mark will be late, evenings when we will have guests, etc.  This helps me remember to plan slow-cooker meals on days when we have dance and double my recipes on evenings when we might have guests.

I try to keep a list of recipes that work well made ahead and left to themselves to cook.  These are wonderful for evenings when we have dance and arrive home at supper time.  Since we have entered the fall season, these mostly include soups/stews, one pot recipes that simmer for several hours, sloppy joes, homemade calzones, taco twists, etc.  These things can be made ahead and left, or I can make them, throw them in the fridge, and reheat them within 15 minutes of arriving home.

I wrote a list of these things, so I can quickly throw them on the menu for the days when we will need them without having to put much thought into it.  I also have a list of family favorites, which include meals such as- tacos, lasagna, pizza, steak, and hamburgers to name a few, that I will add to the rest of our week/month menu since they are always well-received by everyone.  I like to try at least 1 new recipe/week to keep things fresh and add to our rotation of recipes.  I will share my favorite resources for recipes in my next post and also link to a few of my favorite recipes.

Many years ago, my sister recommended that I pick themes for each day of the week.  At the time, I had itty-bitties underfoot and I needed to streamline all of the things!  If you are in this season, picking themes helps sooooo much.  This is what my themes looked like once upon a time:

Sunday: Roast with veggies OR hamburgers
Monday: Tacos
Tuesday: Casserole
Wednesday: New Recipe
Thursday: budget meal (a cheap meal to help bring down grocery costs)
Friday: Homemade Pizza (I have my crust recipe in the "recipe" section of my blog)
Saturday: Sandwiches and Leftovers

I was tired and didn't have much brain energy to think of different recipes every week, so I just stuck with the same basic recipes.  It worked fine and we all survived. :) Now, I like to switch things up a bit and we eat a lot more veggies with our meals. I always dice/chop veggies and throw them in wherever I can.  I also chop a lot of raw veggies to eat on the side.  My kiddos love raw carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers, so those get eaten quite often with our meals. I will toss a quick salad to enjoy with our main dish, too, but I'm not the best at making sure we have 2-3 side dishes. We seem to make do, so I don't stress too much.  I would like to get better about that as time passes, though.

I think that's enough to digest for now, so I will leave it at that.  One thing I've recently started doing, and then I will save the rest for another time, is saving my weekly lists of meals that way if I am in a pinch and don't have time to meal plan I can pull an old one out and call it a day. This doesn't happen very often, but when it does, having those weeks already planned makes things easier.

Growth | Beginning Quiet Mornings

When I share about my Morning Time on social media, the most common question/comment is, "I cannot seem to get myself to get up.  I am such a night owl."  I get it... believe me, I've been there!

I am very open about the reality of life seasons.  I never endorse neglecting time in the Word, but I am aware that there are seasons for rising early (after the babies learn to sleep consistently) and seasons for milking every last minute out of our mornings for sleep (hello, newborn days!).  So, be kind to yourself and if the mornings don't work for you, find time throughout your day to have quiet time.  

My baby had been sleeping through the night consistently for about a year and I started to notice my laziness when it came to mornings.  My kids would always be the ones waking me and I would be frustrated that they came into my room with their, "I'm hungry," demands.  Why were they bothering me??  Don't I serve them all day long?  

Then, I realized that I had been out of the newborn season for awhile and it was time for me to start some better habits.  It was time for me to rise early and be prepared in my heart and mind for the ministry before me.  

I didn't start by instantly rising at 5 am.  I began by transitioning in 15 minute increments.  I planned to turn in for the night 15 minutes earlier and then get up 15 minutes earlier. I would bump it up 15 every week until I was getting up at 5:30 or earlier.  

Our flesh is strong.  That bed feels warm and awfully cozy when we are snuggled in and it is still dark outside.  That is why I brew coffee and make myself a cozy spot in the corner of our sofa to enjoy during my morning time.  It helps leaving the warm bed not feel so grueling. :)  During the chilly months, I light my beeswax candle and set it on the table beside the sofa.  I turn on the fire and make it an inviting place to wake to.  

Obviously, that plan works gloriously when you have nothing going on and evenings flow the same day after day.  There are times when we have a busy season and I have to repeat the process all over again because I have worn myself out and need the sleep in the morning, BUT I have come to realize that I always need to rise at least 30 minutes before my kids to read and pray.  That 30 minutes of sleep is simply never more important (for me in my circumstance) than that time with God.  

As with any good and worthy habit, it takes discipline for those of us who aren't naturally early risers.  What I love is that now I am a morning person and I feel like everything flows better.  I get breakfast prepared.  I get school underway in an orderly/timely fashion.  I seem to be more productive all around.  I dunno... I like that I no longer live for sleep.  That feeling had become all too familiar.  :) 

Growth | Quiet Mornings

Self-care... it's a buzz word that is thrown around constantly in the social media world.  I'm all for sneaking away for an hour to run to the thrift store or going to get my hair tidied up, but self-care for me comes in the morning and it is long-lasting.  

In the quiet of the morning, with the sky still dark and all of my little ones still snoozing away... that's when my "self-care" happens.  The coffee brews and I turn on the soft, glowing lamp next to our chaise.  I grab my coffee and cozy into the corner of the sofa with my bible.  I begin with a Psalm and I read it slowly.  I pray over my heart and the heart of my husband and children.  I am profoundly aware that this time of meditation and prayer has eternal implications.  Like, what better thing could I be doing besides this???  Nothing.

When that time is over, I have two other regular books that I read an excerpt from.  They are the words of men who have finished their race well.  They have spent time examining the Scriptures and it inspires me to do the same.  One of those books was recommended by a friend and I am so glad she did.  I asked for it for Christmas last year and it has been such a lovely book to read day-by-day.  It is Day by Day by J.C. Ryle.  This is wonderful book to add to your library and you will not regret getting it.  I am also subscribed to a quarterly mailing that sends out a pamphlet every season filled with rich exposition.  It is a free service and I highly recommend it- the Free Grace Broadcaster.  

When I mention my morning times on Instagram I always get loads of comments from friends who don't know where to start.  I am going to share my process in a later post.  I haven't always been a 'morning' person, in fact, I used to be a night owl.  I wanted to utilize my morning time, though, so I made some changes... changes I will share later. :)

I hope this helped even in the slightest.  If you have any questions, please ask away!

Home | Small Updates with Comfort Works

It's been awhile since I've shared in this space and I've missed it.  Life has been rolling along as we enjoyed this past summer and are now a month into the new school year (which I intend to share a bit about in another post).

One thing that has become apparent to Mark and myself over this past year is that it feels like we will be planting roots where we are at.  Every place we have been prior to this has felt like the perfect place for us... for a time, but this place feels different.  This is the first time that we have looked around and thought that we will be here for a very, very long time (Lord willing).

That being said, it changes the way you look at your home.  I have been looking long term at decisions we've been making along the way and ones that we see coming down the pipe for the future.  What feels homey and cozy?  What will be a timeless decision that I will still enjoy decades from now?  What is the feeling I want my kids to have when they think back about our time in this home?

It seems silly to some, but it feels important to me.  We envision this place as being somewhere that our kids and their friends gather.  A place that we open up to our neighbors and church family.  A place where we host dinners and back yard bar-b-ques.  You know... a home.

So, with that I want to share a small change that we recently did that made quite a big transformation in our living room.  Our Ikea Kivik sofa has been a great choice for our family.  We have all crowded on it for movie nights and many a nap has been had on a Sunday afternoon.  Our cover was looking a bit worse for the wear and I wanted to brighten it up a bit, so I searched for a simple solution- a sofa cover!

Low and behold there was a company out there that made covers specifically for Ikea sofas.  I messaged them right away and got the process underway.  I had originally planned on going with a blush color, but opted for the color that I felt like was timeless- Linen Luna Flax.

The cover fits the sofa like a glove and each piece was labeled (thank you!!!!) so I knew what part of the sofa it belonged to.  I even got some pleats on the bottom corners to give the sofa a more traditional feel. Y'all, the workmanship is excellent and their customer service has been just as good.

I wanted to share because sometimes the integrity of our furniture is still good, but we need a little update without buying an entirely new sofa set.  I encourage you to check Comfort Works out.  They even make covers for other brands, so peek at their website and see what they can do!  If you decide to give it a shot, please send me photos!!!