Vanilla Body Butter

If you haven’t tried using body butter yet, I highly recommend it.  Body butter is a skin moisturizer that typically contains cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil or another vegetable-based oil. Body butter is thicker than lotions or creams and typically do not contain water.

DIY Vanilla Body Butter with essential oils

I like to use body butter in the evening before I go to bed, since it stays on longer. Remember to apply the body butter when your skin is damp, since it contains no water. Do not use body body on your face, since it can clog pores.

This easy to make vanilla body butter smells amazing and makes a great gift. Remember to store in the fridge if your home is warmer than 75 degrees.

Body Butter Ingredients

DIY Vanilla Body Butter using 4 ingredients

Directions

Measure and combine your cocoa butter and your coconut oil in a large glass measuring bowl.

Heat mixture in the microwave until melted. This should take about 90 seconds depending on the power level of your microwave.

vanilla body butter DIY 4 ingredients

If you do not have a microwave, you can melt in a small saucepan slowly over low heat.

Stir in your vitamin e oil and essential oil.

DIY vanilla body body with essential oils

Place liquid body butter mixture in the fridge until it forms into a solid.

DIY body butter with essential oils

Use a hand mixer to whip your body butter for several minutes and place in an airtight container.

DIY Vanilla Body butter with essential oils

Remember to store the mixture in the fridge in the summer or if your house is warmer than 75 degrees.
DIY vanilla body butter with essential oils

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Brown Sugar Cinnamon Muffins

These brown sugar muffins are one of my “go to” muffin recipes. My kids love them for breakfast or a snack and I always double the recipe.

You can freeze these brown sugar muffins or pack the leftovers in their lunchbox.

When I created this recipe I had an oven that always cooked things quicker than most ovens. Please adjust your baking time accordingly. If you are making regular sized muffins you might need to bake them for 20-22 minutes. Mini muffins bake much quicker so keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

brown sugar muffins

These brown sugar muffins aren’t super healthy, so it is usually a special treat in our house. It’s also a great item to bring to a potluck brunch. They are always a big hit.

They are also a great weight watchers snack! Each muffin is only 2 pts!

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups flour ( I use whole wheat or a mixture of white and wheat)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (or substitute applesauce for oil)
  • brown sugar
  • cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Mix together flour, white sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add egg, milk and oil and mix together.
  3. Fill muffin cups 1/4 full with batter.
  4. Add a pinch of brown sugar. (Or a little more)
  5. Cover the brown sugar with batter.
  6. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

What’s great about these brown sugar muffins (or any muffin) is that you can customize them to your own taste. Some simple reader substitutions are below:

  • Substitute applesauce instead of oil.
  • Try cinnamon applesauce instead of oil (yum!).
  • Use powdered milk.
  • Increase the fiber by adding shredded apple, cranberries, or bran.
  • Drizzle with caramel.
  • Add blueberries to the mix.
  • Brush muffins with melted butter after cooking.
  • Substitute regular milk with coconut milk.
  • Add a pinch of nutmeg and a splash of vanilla.
  • Use one mashed banana as a substitute for the egg and oil.
  • Mix in cinnamon chips (you can find these during the holidays).

Remember to add your modifications to the comments below! I’d love to hear how they turned out.

brown sugar muffins

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What is a Lapbook?

A lapbook is one of my favorite ways to make topics “stick” in my kids’ brains.

When I posted a picture of our Oceans lapbook on my Facebook page, I assumed everyone was familiar with lapbooking but apparently that is not the case.

I’m excited to share how lapbooks helped our homeschool, because even my adult children get nostalgic when I pull out their old lapbooks. Plus I have the opportunity to share some awesome lapbooks created by real life moms (not some fancy publishing company), and hopefully convince a few homeschoolers to try one of our favorite learning tools.

What is a lapbook?

In Happy Homeschool terms, a lapbook is a really cool hands-on method of teaching your children about anything! You don’t have to be a homeschooler to use a lapbook to teach your kids. Anyone can make one to help reinforce ideas your kids are learning at school, extra curricular activities, or church projects.

I love them because my kids seem to remember lapbook learning activities better than read alouds or worksheets.

According to Squidoo, lapbooking is defined as:

…making mini-books covering details that you’ve studied. After making a variety of mini-books about a larger topic, all the books are put together in a large folder. The finished product is called a lapbook because it’s large and covers your lap.

Lapbooks take on many different shapes and sizes, it just depends on how creative you are or want to be. We use manila folders and colorful card stock to create our lapbooks. I’m not the most crafty person in the world, so I stick to the basics.

To make the outer cover open the manila folder then fold each side into each other. It should look like the tri-fold boards kids use at the science fair.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

Inside the manila folder you can glue or staple card stock to make “pages” or pockets for additional space.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

One thing I needed to learn when creating lapbooks was to let it go. (Cue Frozen) Your child’s lapbook shouldn’t be perfect! If you do the work, they won’t learn the material. I had to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and allow my children to make less than perfect lapbooks so they learned the concepts. 

I soon realized that when my kids created the lapbook they were learning. When I created the lapbook so it was “perfect” they didn’t learn much at all.

That being said, I did use free templates to create our books.

Once the lapbook has been created it is time to start filling it with information. At first I thought lapbooks were only for science or history, however I quickly realized lapbooks reinforce any subject!

After years of eyeing it at homeschool conventions I did purchase The Ultimate Guide to Lap Books, but the rest of the resources I found for free on the internet.

If you don’t have a creative bone in your body, many of my favorite publishers offer lapbook templates to go with the books. They are inexpensive and many are available for immediate download on
ChristianBook.com

If you are looking for inspiration to start lapbooking I’ve included photos of a few of our lapbooks as well as some reader submitted photos to get your creative juices flowing.

Lapbook Examples

After I realized that lapbooks weren’t only for science and history, we started using them for all our subjects. This lapbook was used with  for our bible lessons. Each day we read one lesson then create a mini book, symbol, or other small craft to put in our lapbook.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

Remember all those leftover scrapbook supplies you have in your closet? You can use that themed paper in your lapbooks. This is our Oceans book, I used a manilla folder for this book too, but I turned the book so it opens to the top and bottom not the sides.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

Lapbooks are a great way to reinforce what your children are learning.

This weather lapbook is from Mrs. Jone’s Creation Station. 

weather lapbook

Our summer cloud science experiment would be a great addition to this weather lapbook.

Tina used a legal size folder for this anatomy lapbook. Lapbooks aren’t only for younger kids! Even high schoolers can make them.

human body lapbook

You can get the printables free for this human body lapbook at Tina’s Homeschool. Don’t forget to check out our virtual anatomy study resources too.

little house in the big woods lapbook

Additionally lapbooks are a great compliment to your homeschool read alouds. You can find the tutorial for this Little House in the Big Woods lapbook over at Little House Living.

My (free)  State Notebooking pages would be a perfect addition to this US lapbook shared by Marine Corps Nomads.

Reader submitted lapbooks

Jennifer used a lapbook to reinforce addition for her younger children.

Money lapbook (from Jennifer)

Obedience Lapbook  (you can see the whole tutorial on Peace Creek on the Prairie)

Opera Lapbook (from Jimmie’s Collage)

Eclipse Lapbook (from Jimmie’s Collage)

As you can see from these examples, the possibilities are endless! If you would like more lapbooking resources check if your local library has The Ultimate Lap Book Handbook. I referenced it often when creating our books.

A few of my favorite (free) online resources.

Lapbook Lessons:  This free site that contains a wealth of resources including templates, resources, printables, and entire projects. However you may have issues with this site if you use Chrome or Firefox.

Homeschool Share:  This is another free site with tons of resources. Free templates and entire projects are available to download.

You might also enjoy:

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How to Motivate Yourself to Make Dinner

Do you scroll through your Instagram feed and see beautiful homemade meals prepared by your friends? While they are sharing healthy, beautiful meals you are struggling to motivate yourself to make dinner.

We’ve all been there. We barely make it out the door with the kids, work gets crazy, and then come home and the last thing we want to do is make dinner. When we’re sick or not feeling up to it, it can be extremely challenging to get dinner on the table. Takeout or heading to a restaurant is convenient, but is expensive over time. If you’re trying to cut back on eating out, or just need some motivation, here’s how to motivate yourself to make dinner.

how to motivate yourself to make dinner

Keep it simple

If your meals take hours to prepare, you’ll never make them. It’s more important make dinner, not make the world’s best dinner. Sandwiches, fruit, and salad is dinner, and is probably cheaper and healthier than anything you’ll order at a restaurant. Keep your menu plans simple to combat the urge to eat out.

When my kids were younger I asked them what their five favorite dinners were. I combined their answers and added a few extra ideas to come up with 3o days of meals. I used this list for several years, plugging in dinners from my list to create my weekly menu plan.

Make a menu plan

Coming up with a fresh new dinner each night is exhausting. Save yourself some trouble by making a menu plan. When you have a menu plan you no longer have to think about what’s for dinner. The menu plan tells you what to make for dinner!

Do you need meat out of the freezer, you can plan for it.  If you need to put everything into the crock pot in the morning, you know how to do it. When you know what you’re making, it’s takes less brain power to make it.

Give yourself the night off every once in awhile

Giving yourself the night off doesn’t necessarily mean eating out. It could mean peanut butter sandwiches, frozen pizza, or leftovers. If you can treat yourself to a night out every once in awhile, do it! But if you can’t, there are other ways to give yourself the night off.

This will keep you from cooking burn out, and still ensure you get dinner on the table.

If you plan for a night out, you can find restaurants were kids eat free or maybe they have 1/2 price appetizers during happy hour. If you plan your meals out, you can capitalize on coupons and discounts and save.

Make Fast Food

After one of my children was born I realized I needed some quick go-to meals that took less than 30 minutes to prepare from start to finish. I came up with my fast five meals. These were meals my family enjoyed and I could have on the table quickly.

To make your list of fast five meals look for recipes with short prep and cook times. It’s easy to motivate yourself to make dinner if you know it will only take 15 to 20 minutes.  If you don’t mind waiting for food to cook, look for recipes with short prep times so you can have dinner in the oven in just a few minutes.

Make Dinner in the Morning

I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but I have more energy in the morning than I do after 5pm. This works best for crock pot meals (throw everything in before you leave for work, school, or start your day) but it can be done with most meals.

While my kids eat breakfast or get ready it is simple to chop vegetables for a salad, brown meat for tacos, or other dinner prep that can be done ahead of time.

Freezer Meals

For years I avoided freezer cooking like the plague! I tried it once and destroyed my kitchen, spent nine hours cooking, and never wanted to make dinner again. To make matters worse, my family didn’t love a lot of the meals I made.

However a few years ago I decided to give it another try, except this time I decided to freezer cook with a friend. This was a totally different experience and I highly recommend it! We had meals for two months and it made dinner time so easy!

Do the Math

The one thing that motivates me to make dinner more than anything else is when I do the math. It costs approximately $35 for my family to eat dinner at a fast food restaurant (a cheap one like McDonalds- not Panera, FiveGuys, etc).

It costs about $10 to feed my family dinner and we typically have leftovers for at least one lunch. For each meal I make at home I save $25. If we swap out one fast food restaurant meal for a dinner at home each week for a year that’s a savings of $1,300. Over 18 years that’s $23,400. I don’t know about you but I’d rather eat chicken quesadillas and a salad a few times a month at home and have $23,000 to show for it after my kids grow up!

How to motivate yourself to make dinner

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How to Get Slime Out of Carpet

If you have children, you need to know how to get slime out of carpet. Even if it hasn’t happened yet, I can assure you, it will. Perhaps it won’t be carpet, but it will be your couch, drapes or favorite shirt.

SLIME. 

You are a horrible, evil, crafty concoction that my kids discovered on the internet. There is a large part of me that wishes slime had never, ever been invented. (I mean who really wants to drive around town looking for a gallon container of Elmer’s glue!)

There is another part of me that loves slime because it manages to keep Cora busy for hours with no requests for the Kindle, television or the computer.

However a few months ago I had to BAN SLIME FROM MY HOME. Yes, I realize I’m not winning mother of the year, but my girls had taken the slime into their bedroom and managed to get it all over their carpet.

how to get slime out of carpet

I’m not talking about a few small spots that could be ignored or chalked to up the nail polish spill of 2016 or sharpie-gate 2015. I’m talking about basketball sized globs of slime in my less than 3 year old carpet.

(note: there was significantly more slime on the carpet, however I didn’t think to take pictures until they were halfway through removing slime)

It was so bad that I ended up buying this pink rug to cover their carpet. (This is a catalogue picture- their room has never been this clean.)

Recently, my daughter told me she thought vinegar would get slime out of carpet. Since the carpet was ruined anyway I figured it wouldn’t hurt to let them try to get slime out of the carpet. If the slime stains disappeared that would be awesome.

If not, we still have the pink rug to cover the slime stains and who doesn’t love the smell of vinegar?? ?

how to get slime out of carpet

Now, there is a small catch to this method. We used a “Spot Bot” type carpet cleaning machine to clean the carpet. You can clean slime out of carpet without a carpet cleaner, but I wanted to make sure we were able to suck up all the excess water/vinegar from the carpet.

(because I was kidding about loving the smell of vinegar)

This is the carpet spot cleaner that we have, because two years ago I lost my mind and decided to get a puppy, but I digress.

But there are cheaper options like this Hoover Spot Scrubber.

In my opinion if you have children, pets, or messy friends – you need a spot remover machine. I cannot believe I waited so long to purchase one.

Random photo of girl (and carpet slime culprit) and puppy (pee all over my carpet culprit). Aren’t they cute? It’s hard to stay mad at them when they are this adorable…. 

how to get slime out of carpet

Okay back to the topic at hand, how to get slime out of carpet. This is what we did and it worked amazing! However the room did smell like vinegar for a few days.

How to get slime out of carpet

How to get slime out of carpet without a spot scrubber

  • Pour white vinegar over the stained/slime covered area.
  • Let vinegar soak in the carpet for 3-5 minutes.
  • Scrub stained area with a scrub brush, toothbrush, or clean rag.
  • The slime should start to disappear.
  • Once the stain has been scrubbed out, spray the area with a light mist of water.
  • Then sop up the excess liquid with clean rags or paper towels.

It is important to make sure that the carpet is nearly dry when you are finished removing the slime. After we got all the slime out of the carpet I did run a fan in the room for a few days to make sure everything was dry and to help get rid of the vinegar smell.

You will be happy to know that slime is no longer banned from my home, however it is required to never leave the kitchen. So far, so good.

How to get slime out of carpet

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Age Appropriate Chores for Kids

For years I’ve talked about the importance of age appropriate chores for kids on this site. It took me a while to realize that I couldn’t do it all and I needed my kids to pick up after themselves and help out a little.

After I realized that my kids were capable of doing chores at a very young age I implemented daily and weekly chores in our home. Vital to our success was assigning age appropriate chores to each child.

Reader Nikki asks….

Can you write posts about each age – what you have them do total? I am not naturally organized, so this would help me implement gradually.


I’ve always believed it has more to do with ability than age. Some of my children were ready to use the stove at eight or nine and others I’ve felt needed more time to mature. Only you know what your child is capable of doing when it comes to chores.

Remember to keep in mind your child’s age, ability, and maturity when assigning chores around the house. Most importantly, young children need supervision while doing age appropriate chores for two reasons. First, you want to make sure they are learning the correct way to do each chore and second you want to make sure they are not doing anything that could harm them or the house.

Finally, don’t mistake laziness for inability. I’ve found that the earlier you give your child age appropriate chores the more they can do at a younger age. Most children are very capable, you just need to motivate them.

I’m sharing with your our family’s chore list. Remember, because the two-year old can do the chores on the list doesn’t mean she does all the chores on the list. I use the list as a guide when it comes to assigning chores. Each child does one to two age appropriate chores each day depending on the size of the job.

Age Appropriate Chores for Kids

Toddler (ages 2 and 3)

  • Pick up/ put away toys
  • Unload the dishwasher (silverware, plastic cups, tupperware)
  • Dust with a feather duster or microfiber rag
  • Swiffer the floor
  • Put clothes in the dirty clothes hamper
  • Collect dirty clothes
  • Help get clothes from washer to dryer
  • Put clothes away
  • Make bed
  • Wipe cabinets
  • Wipe baseboards (soapy water)

Preschooler (ages 4-5)

  • Any toddler chores
  • Load the dishwasher
  • Vacuum couch/ chairs/ cushions
  • Take out recycling
  • Set table
  • Clear table
  • Wash dishes (with supervision)
  • Clean windows
  • Wipe out bathroom sinks (baby wipes work great for this chore!)
  • Match socks
  • Fold dish towels
  • Weed

Early Elementary (ages 6-8)

  • Any toddler and preschool chores
  • Meal prep (wash produce, find ingredients, simple cutting with butter knife)
  • Wipe bathroom sinks, counters, toilets
  • Hang out laundry
  • Sweep
  • Vacuum
  • Collect garbage
  • Get mail
  • Fold/hang laundry
  • Clean microwave
  • Rake leaves

Elementary (9-11)

  • Any previous chores
  • Make meals
  • Take garbage/ recycling to the curb
  • Wash/ dry clothes
  • Clean toilets
  • Mop floors
  • Vacuum out cars

Middle School (12-14)

  • Clean tub/ shower
  • Make full meals/ meal plan
  • Clean out fridge/ freezer
  • Mow yard
  • Wash car
  • Supervise younger children’s chores

High School (15-18)

By the time my children reach high school age I expect them to have the ability to do any chore around the house. While they don’t do everything I know they are capable in all areas of home management.

When a child becomes proficient at a chore it is time to pass that chore to a younger child. I take the lowest common denominator approach to chores in our house. This means the youngest child who is able to do the chore gets the job. When the child is learning their chores they are supervised by a sibling or a parent.

While our family isn’t perfect when it comes to chores, my kids are encouraged to work together to keep the house clean and organized.

My only regret is that I wish I would have given my kids age appropriate chores when they were younger. When I only had two young children it was easier to just do it all myself. Not anymore. Having kids that can help around the house keeps the house cleaner and frees up more time for fun activities as a family.

Finally, remember to keep it fun! Most little children WANT to help out around the house. Assigning small chores like the ones listed above allow your kids to feel like a contributing member of the family. Put on some fun music, sing a favorite song (we use to sing the Clean Up song from Barney) and work together to make it enjoyable for everyone in the family.

Age Appropriate Chores for Kids: Printable

To download your free age appropriate chores for kids printable click on the button above. The chart will open in a new tab. Right click to save or print the chart. 

A few of my favorite chore/ reward charts for kids

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Magnetic Responsibility Chart

Melissa and Doug Chore Responsbility Chart

Magnetic Dry Erase Rewards Chore Chart with Marker and Magnets

Reward Chart 

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