Stop Opening Every Jar of Peanut Butter We Own!

You may be a large family if every time you turn around someone has opened a new container of peanut butter…

or mayonnaise…

or [insert name of food that already has a full container sitting open in the refrigerator or pantry].

It’s maddening!

So, I got proactive and did this:

How to stop the kids (and dad) from opening brand new food containers when there is one already open |

X marks the spot!

This is the ONLY peanut butter jar that is allowed to be opened.  And if you can’t find the one with the X, you find mom and together the two of you will look for it before determining it is a good idea to open a new one (which will be promptly marked with an X by the way!).

This works for anything that tends to get opened without thinking.  Maple syrup, boxes of cereal, and yes, mayonnaise!

Sharpie marker saves the day!

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When Your Meal Plan Falls Apart

When Your Meal Plan Falls Apart {how to get back on track} |

My menu plan pretty much crashed and burned the past few months.  We moved, and I lost my groove.

I told you several months ago how a solid menu plan is the backbone of your day. Well, let me tell you, having mine fall apart made this beyond clear! Without this “backbone”, I had one seriously loosey-goosey day, that turned into a week, that turned into a month plus!  It was a mess!

Sadly, this isn’t the first time my menu plan has fallen apart.  Every time we have some major life event, it seems my menu plan is the first thing to take a nosedive.  However, I’ve learned a few tricks for getting things back on track quickly, and today, I’d like to share those with you (cuz I’m guessing I’m not the only one with a messy meal plan. ;) )

The first thing I did was go back to a pantry list.  I already had an old one on hand from my Once a Month Shopping series.  I had to do some revamping to make it fit our current eating habits, but that didn’t take much.

Simplified DinnersSimplified Dinners is an ebook that operates off this same principle, only it takes it a step further and gives you a pantry full of foods that will make many different meals all from the same list.  All the recipes and instructions and lists are included in the book, making it a no-brainer (precisely what you need when your meal plan has fallen through, eh?)  Working from a pantry list is one of the quickest ways to get back on track without needing to think too much.  It bought me time I needed to keep working on unpacking the house and getting back in a routine.

A couple of weeks later, I had more time to think through meals, so I pulled out my planner pages and my little red index box full of tried and true recipes.  Everyone needs the equivalent of my red index box.  You should KNOW what meals are family favorites.  You should KNOW what your family will and will not eat and how often they will eat it.  These are your GO-TO meals.  Pulling from tried and true meals to create a meal plan takes a little more energy than a static pantry list where you just cook from whatever you have on hand, but it would be beneficial to eventually create a pantry list around your tried and true meals.  (When your meal plan has fallen apart may not be that time, though.)

I’ll be honest, during this time, Pinterest was calling my name.  It wanted me to come and try NEW recipes, but when you’ve fallen off track as badly as I had, experimenting from Pinterest is NOT the answer.  I needed to get back to business first…then, get creative.

It wasn’t too long before I was back to my regular menu planning, pulling from several different resources and being much more creative!  I have found that one of the fastest ways to get me back in the meal planning mood (because let’s face it, you HAVE to be in the mood), is to find inspiration from others.  Looking through websites, cookbooks, and ebooks are a great way to find your inspiration to jump back into meal planning.


This past week, I decided to start being even more proactive with my meal plan.  I decided to make a 4 week rotating schedule with grocery lists on the back to keep on hand for times when my menu plan falls apart.  This coupled with a solid pantry list should help to keep everyone in the house on track and eating well!

Making Your Mealtimes More Leisurely

Leisurely MealsHaving kids sort of sucked the joy out of mealtime for me.  It meant no longer focusing on myself and my own food.  I now had the full time job of cutting up meat, cleaning up spills, and trying to have an adult conversation over the din of childish chatter.  The thought of having a leisurely meal was laughable, and rather discouraging to boot.

But several years ago, I was blessed to learn from another family what taking leisurely meals with a lot of little ones actually looked like.  It was like a ray of sunshine in my day!  I realized I really could have a wonderful mealtime with my family, but it would mean letting go of a few preconceived notions and a whole lot of anxiety.

A glimpse of Heaven…

When we sit down to fellowship over food with our family, we need to keep in mind that this is a foretaste of our fellowship in Heaven.  Things are not perfect here, but they can still give us an idea of what we can expect when we are truly Home.

Start the meal calmly…

It is so easy to start a meal with chaos.  It happens all the time here.  If we don’t all sit down together, take a deep breath, and thank the Lord for His provisions, we end up resembling pigs at a feed trough!  Don’t expect a meal to be leisurely if you don’t begin it that way.  And if it does begin in chaos, it is never too late (unless someone has left the table) to start over.  Have everyone put their forks down, take a deep breath, and begin anew.

Be aware of your surroundings…

Sometimes we forget to even look up from our food, let alone take the time to notice and engage the other people at the table.  When you eat with adults, conversation typically naturally flows, but it isn’t the norm at a table full of hungry little people and tired parents.  You have to make the effort to look up from your food and smile at everyone seated with you.  Start with the littlest one and work your way up.  Ask each child a question or simply smile at them.  This is the start to healthy dinner conversations.

Expect mishaps…

Because this is not a perfect world, we need to expect mishaps and be as prepared for them as we can be.  Have a towel handy for cleaning up spills, and try to take the attitude that the little mishaps in life are not something to dwell on and fuss over.  Remember, a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11) – in other words, speaking calmly and kindly when mishaps occur is a thing of priceless beauty.  Don’t let your words be ugly over something as minor as spilled drinks, dropped forks, and the like.

Learn to be still…

This isn’t just for wiggly little boys, this is for wiggly mamas who jump up and head off to the next thing on her list after wolfing down the last bite on her plate.  Train yourself to stay seated after you are finished, or better yet, slow down your eating altogether.  Give your brain a moment to relax.  Put your fork down, take a deep breath, and wait.  You might even want to bring a book to the table that you can use as a read-aloud at the end of the meal to help everyone stay in their seats and learn to be still during mealtime.

Feast & fellowship…

We don’t often think of eating with our family as a time of feasting and fellowship, but it truly is!  It is a time to reconnect after everyone has been about their own business during the day.  It is a time for you to share and for you to listen as others share about their day.  It should be fun!  It should be a celebration!

That’s where my free gift to you comes in…

FREE 33 Family Dinner Games |

Our family has compiled 33 Family Dinner Games that don’t require a ton of forethought and preparation.  You can print out the list and instructions, and keep it handy in your dining room.  These 33 Family Dinner Games are FREE to subscribers of Raising Arrows and will be delivered to your inbox shortly after signing up so you can begin to enjoy your family mealtime tonight!

Get your Free Gift!

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Each game spans multiple ages and encourages an open and festive atmosphere for your meals!

Now, go and give those babies a big hug and kiss, do the same with your husband, and welcome them all to family mealtime tonight!

(Already a Raising Arrows subscriber? You’ll find the 33 Family Dinner Games on the Subscriber Freebie page!)

A Birthday & Two Super Exclusive Discount Codes!

Blake and Megan

Today, is my first born’s 16th birthday!  Wow!  Where did the time go?  He is an amazing young man and we are so very proud of him.  Happy Birthday, Blake!

Remember how I told you a few weeks ago about my new household binder system that was entirely paperless?  Well, I have an awesome discount code for the ebook that taught me how to set it up (it was a HUGE lifesaver during the move!).

Paperless 125Not only can you get Paperless Home Organization for 40%, this code will work for ANY and ALL of Mystie Winckler’s products!

CODE:  raisingarrows
gives you 40% off:
Paperless Home Organization
GTD for Homemakers
and/or Simplified Dinners
{expires 3/1/14}


And I have another code from another company near and dear to our hearts – DrinkBands!  They are celebrating a milestone just like my son -whose DrinkBands color happens to be blue!

The Miller family has owned the company a whole year now and they are celebrating by offering Raising Arrows readers a super exclusive discount code!

CODE:  rafirstyear
gives you: 20% off
your entire DrinkBand order!
{expires 2/28/14}

My Favorite Homemade Cleaner {3 ingredients!}

My Favorite Homemade Cleaner {only 3 ingredients!} | RaisingArrows.netWhen you allow children to do chores, the need to have child-safe cleaning products becomes super important.  But, even mamas need to consider what kind of cleaners they are exposing themselves to.  I don’t want to sacrifice a clean home for a natural cleaner and I don’t want to sacrifice my family’s health for a commercial cleaner that really works.  I was certain there was a way to get the best of both worlds – safe, natural AND clean!

Now, before you tell me, “just use vinegar”, let me explain something.  My husband does not like the house smelling of vinegar, and no matter how much essential oil I add to my vinegar-based cleaners, he can still smell it.  So, I knew vinegar wasn’t going to be an option.

I also needed an easy recipe.  I have a large family, which equals large messes, which in turn equals a lot of cleaning products.  If I was going to have to make a recipe several times a month, then it would have to be simple.

It also needed to be all-purpose.  I have no desire to spend precious time making a cleaner that can only do one thing.  It had to be able to clean a multitude of things.

The original basis for this recipe comes from Lisa Barthuly’s Homestead Simplicity.  I highly recommend Lisa’s ebooks.  You can find them on her webiste or on Amazon.)

This recipe smells great, is easy to make, and is a workhorse!  You can tweak it a thousand different ways depending on your needs, so feel free to experiment with it.

3 ingredients to make your own all-purpose cleaner! | RaisingArrows.netAll you really need are a 32 oz spray bottle, water, and liquid Grapfruit Seed Extract.  HOWEVER, notice the little essential oil bottle in the photo above?  That’s where the tweaking begins!  The Grapefruit Seed Extract and water are a must, but that little bottle of essential oils can be as unique as you are!

Steps to making your own all-purpose cleaner |

A quick note about the GSE:  

I purchased this as a nutritional supplement for one of our children who proceeded to spit it out every time I made her drink it.  I finally gave up and resorted to using it to disinfect my cutting boards.  However, one little bottle of GSE goes a LONG way, so I was thrilled to find a way to use more of it!

All-Purpose Spray |

In our home, we use a mixture of Tea Tree Oil and Lavender.  These are good all-around cleansing oils and I like the way they smell.  We use this spray to clean counters and floors, toilets and bathtubs, and just about anything else you can think of that would typically be cleaned by an all-purpose, harsh-chemical spray.  I’m sure you will find this cleaner becomes a staple cleaning product in your home as well!

{p.s.  I wanted to write about this cleaner before I dove into Homemaking Basics because I will refer to this cleaner a lot!}

Make your own all-natural, all-purpose cleaner |

How to Make Your Own All-Natural, All-Purpose Cleaner

1.  Fill a 32 oz spray bottle with water.

2.  Add 35 drops of Liquid Grapefruit Seed Extract.

3.  Add 20 drops of essential oil like tea tree or lavender.

4.  Shake well.

5.  Label bottle and place in convenient location.

I keep 3 bottles of this on hand – 1 in each bathroom and 1 under the kitchen sink.  Not only does this make it quick and easy to clean up messes, it also keeps the kids from fighting over the cleaner during Home Blessing chores on Friday mornings!  Win-Win!

So, whip up a batch of this cleaner, figure out what essential oil combinations you like best (don’t forget to ask the kiddos!), and let’s get to cleaning!

Make your own all-purpose cleaner! |

Replace Those Potato Chips! {the REAL food way}

Replace Those Potato Chips with Real Food! |

Last month, I decided my go-to side of potato chips needed a revamp, so I did what all modern homemakers do when they have a question…

I asked on my Facebook page!

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 5.12.09 PM

I got so many GREAT ideas, I thought I’d share them here!  (I added some links to help give you a visual.  There are affiliate links in this post.)


Dried fruit

Popcorn (try it with some natural flavorings!)

Nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, etc)


Ideas from Kitchen Stewardship’s Healthy Snacks on the Go

Stacy’s Pita Chips (or make your own pita chips!)

Make your own potato chips in the oven or microwave.  (Pampered Chef has a potato chip maker or you can use your oven or your own dehydrator)

Dehydrate salted slices of sweet potato, squash and zucchini or beets (also try these with olive oil and other seasonings or cinnamon on the sweet potatoes!)

Make kale chips (you can season these too!)

Dehydrate apple & banana chips

Plantain Chips

Cubed cheese

Cheese Crisps


Mini rice cakes

Pretzels (or Pretzel Crisps)

Check out the snacks listed on 100 Days of Real Food (I really like this site!)

Veggie chips like the ones shown above (or make your own in the oven!)

Crackers (regular or gluten free)

English cucumbers with Irish cheese

Green Bean Chips

Dried Okra Chips


Laughing Cow Cheese

Hard boiled eggs

Slices of bacon

ak-mak Crackers

Greek yogurt

Food Should Taste Good Chips


Snap peas

Wasa Crackers

Non GMO Corn chips & homemade salsa

Veggie Straws

Sunflower seeds



Granola bars

Spiced Nuts

Real Food Power Balls

Lentil Crackers

Seaweed Chips

Cheat Thins

Roasted Chickpeas

Homemade Gluten Free Chex Mix

Make your own Crackers or Crackers or Crackers!

 And if all else fails…

go ahead and eat potato chips, in moderation, of course. ;)