Families With Grace

Helping Christian moms create homes filled with grace, love & faith

Ham and pineapple sliders

A ham and pineapple sliders recipe for family dinner

Easy-peasy recipes are my favorite and this ham and pineapple sliders recipe is definitely one of them. These work well for family dinner or a carry-in. You can easily double (or triple) the recipe to feed a crowd. And it’s a great way to put leftover ham to use after holidays. Basically, it’s super versatile!

Another great thing about these ham and pineapple sliders is that because of the way they’re made, you can also easily make a second type of slider if you have family members who don’t eat ham. Stay tuned to next week’s blog post for the pizza sliders I make for my guys whenever I make this recipe.

Putting together the sliders

Get started by preheating your oven to 350-degrees and spraying a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Next up, you need to prepare your slider buns. You can totally buy slider buns, but I prefer Hawaiian dinner rolls since they are a bit sweeter. I just slice them in half to make them into buns. Place the bottom half of the buns into the baking pan. I used one package of 12 rolls and divided them into two sides when I was making this recipe this time because I was using half of the rolls for the pizza sliders that will be up next week.

Once your bun bottoms are in the pan, dollop mayonnaise onto the buns and then a bit of honey mustard as well. Technically use about 1/2 tablespoon of mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon of honey mustard per slider square. I really just plop it on without measuring! (If you love honey mustard and ham like I do, don’t miss these hot ham and cheese subs with honey mustard.)

Smear the mayo and honey mustard into the buns. Top the buns with slices of mild cheddar cheese. You can use shredded cheese or another flavor if you prefer. Swiss cheese would also be pretty good with this recipe, but I like the stronger flavor of the cheddar most.

Top the cheese with slices of ham. I bought pre-sliced packaged ham. You could totally use deli ham or leftover ham for this recipe.

Now it’s time for the pineapple. I have used pineapple slices for this recipe, but I actually like pineapple tidbits for these ham and pineapple sliders more because it is easier to eat and spread the pineapple out more over the sliders. For 6 sliders, I used one 4-ounce snack cup of pineapple tidbits, drained.

Add the top bun and then melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Mix in 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1/2 tablespoon of onion salt. Stir until combined. (Mine usually ends up kind of like wet sand.)

Brush the garlic butter over the top of the buns.

Bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Cut them apart and serve warm. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Ham and pineapple sliders

Stacey A. Shannon
These easy ham and pineapple sliders are great for family dinners or carry-ins and can easily feed a crowd!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American


  • 1 pound ham
  • 12 Hawaiian rolls
  • 1 8.25 oz. canned pineapple drained
  • 8 oz. mild cheddar cheese slices
  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip)
  • 6 teaspoons honey mustard
  • 3 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion salt (dried minced onion also works)


  • Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Cut the Hawaiian rolls in half through the middle to turn them into slider buns. Put the bottom half of the rolls into the baking dish; set aside the tops for now.
  • Dollop the mayonnaise and honey mustard onto the buns in the baking dish. Smear the mayo and honey mustard evenly over the buns.
  • Layer the cheese, ham and pineapple on top of the prepared bottoms.
  • Put the top of the rolls on.
  • Melt the butter and then add in the garlic powder and onion salt. Mix it well and then brush the butter mixture over the top of the sliders.
  • Bake the sliders for 20 minutes until the tops are browned and the cheese is melted.
Keyword carry-in recipe, crowd pleaser, ham and pineapple, leftover ham, leftovers recipe, pineapple recipe, pitch-in, slider recipe, sliders

How busy moms can drink more water

5 Ideas to increase how much water you drink

Affiliate links are used in this post; if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

Sometimes we know something is good for us, but we still struggle to make it happen. This is especially true in the busyness of mom life and all we have going on. Unfortunately drinking enough water can fall into that category. And it’s just not healthy for us. Dehydration is so rampant that some estimate up to 75% of all adults are dehydrated! Finding ways to drink more water without causing more stress to already busy moms is important.

Even though water is my primary drink, I still struggle to make sure I drink enough of it throughout my day. I have, however, found a few things that help me drink more water and stay better hydrated.

1. Keep your water cold.

This has to be my very first idea to share because keeping my water cold has been a game changer for me. For most of my life, I kept reusable plastic water bottles in the fridge to drink out of. But they were never insulated. Then about 10 years ago or so, I discovered the magic of stainless steel insulated cups. They were so fabulous! In fact, when a friend had her second baby shortly thereafter, I gave her a stainless steel insulated tumbler as a baby gift because I knew she’d need it. Nursing moms need even more hydration. I certainly remember those days!

So now I use a large, 30-ounce insulated tumbler each day. I fill it up with ice and water from my fridge every morning. Throughout the day, I refill the cup as needed. I love that I can even leave the cup in a hot car, and the water is still cold. I’ve had the metal cup be almost too hot to touch but the water inside was still frigid. Cold water is just easier to drink, I think! These are two of my favorite tumblers:

Some of the tumblers come with straws. I’ve found that I like hard plastic or silicone, but I don’t like the stainless steel straws. (My mom does like the stainless steel straws, though, so you never know! You can give them a try.) I have some tall disposable straws that work, too, and those I usually find at Dollar Tree.

2. Take water with you everywhere you go.

Another way I drink more water is by taking my cup along wherever I go. Mostly, I’m at home, but I move it with me from room to room so it’s almost always beside me. And then when I do leave the house, I take it along. Often it goes along with me when I go to pick up my kids from school and come straight back home.

While I do OK with the lidded tumblers, some are leakproof if that’s a concern or your kids are younger and you need free hands to carry them. I have this insulated water bottle for my daughter that I pack sideways in her lunchbox every day and don’t have a problem with:

3. Make it part of your routine.

When we tie tasks into part of our daily routine, they are more likely to become habits. I told you last week how brushing my teeth in the morning reminds me to pray and connect with God. I’m the same way with my water. After I get ready each morning, my first stop is the refrigerator to fill up my cup with ice and water. It’s become such a part of my routine that when my dog hears me filling up my water, he runs ahead to our home office because he knows that’s where I’m usually headed next.

You can make actually drinking the water part of your routine as well. Maybe you drink water every time you stop at a stoplight or you take a few sips each time you finish changing a diaper. Find some way to incorporate drinking water into your usual routine.

4. Set specific goals and track them.

I’m a list maker through and through. I like tracking things. And that’s why things like a water tracker work well. Keeping a water tracker on hand helps you remember to drink water and see the progress you made. Another bonus is you can use it to compete with a friend or family member as a way to stay motivated and/or accountable. Check out this water tracker printable from the Families with Grace Etsy store:

Tracking your water intake is also a great way to get your family involved. Let them also track their water intake or even just cheer you on. My kids love cheering me on when they have the chance!

5. Add some flavor.

If plain water is boring to you or you just need to switch it up sometimes, add some flavor to your water! My daughter likes to add various fruits to hers including lemon, strawberries and blueberries. I enjoy lemon water or cucumber water as a treat sometimes. Flavoring drops work well for our family, too, because they are small and easy to store but make water more exciting. My daughter loves plain lemonade, my pick is pink lemonade every so often and my husband goes for sweet tea. Just be aware that flavoring drops can add calories and sugar or have sugar substitute in them.

Taco ranch meatball soup

Even picky eaters will love the delicious ranch meatballs in this soup!

Taco ranch meatball soup recipe

My family isn’t big on eating meat. My husband and son eat very little meat while my daughter and I eat some. So, when I tell you I’ve found a ranch meatball recipe our family really likes, then you know it has to be good! Paired with taco flavors and a slightly cheesy soup, this taco ranch meatball soup recipe is a great family dinner option.

I have served this with tortilla chips and with cornbread. Since the cornbread pairs so well with taco flavors in the taco cornbread bake, I figured it was worth a try with this soup. Turns out I was right! We’ve decided that cornbread is our favorite. In fact, we put the cornbread in the bowl and then put the soup and meatballs on top. It’s a filling dinner with a bit of Mexican flavor.

Make the ranch meatballs

The taco ranch meatball soup starts with making the meatballs. The soup comes together and simmers for a few minutes while the meatballs cook. When I first made this recipe, I used half the amount of ground beef called for because we aren’t big on eating meat. But since then I’ve used the full 1-1/2 pound of ground beef. Our family of four ends up with a few extra ranch meatballs, but not too many! (And they make a good meatball sub topped with a bit of ranch dressing!)

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees (F). If you are making cornbread to go along with this, mix it and set it aside. I use a JIF cornbread mix and pour it into my loaf pan to bake a loaf. It bakes in the same amount of time as the meatballs, so it works quite well! This is how my finished loaf turns out:

Cornbread loaf

Put 1-1/2 pounds of ground beef in a mixing bowl. Add in 1/2 cup of crushed tortilla chips. I fill a sandwich bag about 3/4 full and then crush the chips with a glass. While I use corn tortilla chips, I think these ranch meatballs would also be good with flavored cheddar or ranch tortilla chips.

Tortilla crushing

Add the tortillas to the meat.

Meatball mixing

Next beat one egg in a small glass (I use the same one that I use for crushing my chips). Add the beaten egg to the meat mixture.

Adding the egg

Next, add 1 tablespoon of ranch dressing mix and 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning to the meat mixture. (There is also something called rancho taco seasoning. If you buy that, then put in one 1-ounce packet. Save an additional packet for the soup.)

Adding the seasoning to the meatball mixture

Use a spoon to combine the meat mixture together well. You can use your hands if you really want to, but I find this stirs together well with a spoon. Do what works for you!

Combining the meatballs

Once the meat is combined, then form it into 1-inch balls and place them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper. I use the non-stick aluminum foil to make for even easier clean up!

Ranch meatballs ready to bake

Put the meatballs (and cornbread if you’re making it) into the preheated oven and baked for 15 minutes.

Make the soup

While the ranch meatballs are baking, put 32-ounce of chicken broth into a large pot over medium-high heat on your stove. Add in one 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning and 1 tablespoon of ranch seasoning. Cover it and cook for about 15 minutes.

Making the soup

Turn the heat down, leave the lid off and add in one 12-ounce package of thawed frozen corn and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. It’s best to add the cheese in slowly. I usually do it in thirds. Let the cheese melt. Simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes.

Adding corn and cheese to the soup
Finished soup

Putting it all together

By the time your soup is ready, your ranch meatballs should be as well.

Baked ranch meatballs

You have two options with this taco ranch meatball soup recipe: you can mix the meatballs right into the soup or you can leave them on their own and let everyone mix them in themselves. Our family prefers to leave the ranch meatballs separate. That also works better if you end up with leftover meatballs that you want to turn into a meatball sandwich! So, I move the meatballs to a plate covered with a paper towel to remove some grease. If you prefer, pat them off and put them right into the soup.

Ranch meatballs

You’re ready to build your bowls of taco ranch meatball soup. You can put cornbread on the bottom, then top with soup and meatballs or skip the cornbread and just do the soup and meatballs.

Taco ranch meatball soup recipe

Either way, it’s yummy to sprinkle some extra cheddar cheese on top.

Taco ranch meatball soup recipe

And if you’re a big fan of sour cream like my family is, plop a dollop of sour cream on there as well!

Taco ranch meatball soup recipe

Taco ranch meatball soup

Even my pickiest eaters like this taco ranch meatball soup recipe. It's a simple, yet filling family dinner idea!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican


  • 1-1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 tablespoons ranch seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 32-ounce carton chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 12-ounce bag frozen corn thawed
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese plus extra for topping if desired


  • Preheat the oven to 400-degrees (F).
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, crushed tortilla chips, beaten egg, 1 tablespoon of ranch seasoning and 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning.
  • Form the meat mixture into 1-inch balls and place them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • Bake the meatballs for 15 minutes.
  • While the meatballs bake, put the chicken broth, tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of ranch seasoning and 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning into a pot over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat on the stove and add in the corn. Gradually add shredded cheese. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • When the meatballs are finished, you can pat them dry and place them in the soup or move them to a plate covered with a paper towel to dry and serve separately. (One benefit of serving separately is it makes leftover meatballs easier to use for sandwiches!)
  • Serve the soup with the meatballs and top with additional shredded cheese, if desired. Sour cream is also good with this soup. It pairs very well with cornbread.
Keyword family dinner, meatball soup, picky eaters, ranch meatballs, taco, taco soup, weeknight dinner

How to connect with God in the middle of raising a family

5 Ideas for busy Christian moms to connect with God

Affiliate links are used in this post; if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

Finding ways to connect with God can be challenging for anyone. But Christian moms in the thick of raising children can really struggle to find ways to connect spiritually with God. We are pulled in multiple directions at the same time, our thoughts are often interrupted and quiet time can be nearly nonexistent (especially for moms of littles!).

But finding ways to connect with God is important not only for our own spiritual walk but also for our spiritual leadership for our children. I want to demonstrate what a real-life relationship with God looks like to my kids. And I know the more in-tune I am with God, the better mom I am.

The struggle is certainly real, though. Being nearly 13 years into motherhood, I’ve had times where I felt more distant from God in the everyday pressures and busyness of raising children. I never got away from Him, but finding time to spend with Him has been difficult at times in my life.

Encouragement for moms of littles

When I had a toddler and baby and was getting almost no sleep at night, my brain could focus only on survival — and even that was iffy some days! During that phase of my life, I learned God knew exactly where I was and what my struggles were. Just because I was running low on time to read my Bible and pray for longer times, He knew right where I was. I was honoring and serving Him in taking care of the children He blessed me with.

Also during this time I was reminded of God’s grace. He knew my capacity and saw my struggle. I still remember a Sunday morning sermon from this time in my life. Well, I don’t remember the sermon itself. I got distracted by a verse that my pastor read from Isaiah.

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)

Our Father knows how difficult it is for moms with littles. He gently leads us. I didn’t need to feel guilty; I could just rest in Him. If you’re in that phase of life right now, know God isn’t angry with you when you don’t have as much time to spend with Him as you once did. Through the years, you will learn new ways to connect with Him — and that’s OK! In fact, that’s what this post is all about.

1. Utilize alone time in the bathroom.

My kids are now both in school all day, and I still struggle with finding alone time! That’s in part because my husband and I work from home together, but I know I’m not alone in this challenge. The most consistent alone time I have is when I’m in the shower and getting ready for the day. So, I use that time to connect with God.

It sounds weird to talk about getting spiritual in the bathroom, but it works. Even before I had children, I found that praying in the shower works well for me because I have no distractions or interruptions. I am performing a sort of mindless task and can focus on God more easily; I still continue to do that.

I usually spend about 10 minutes drying my hair on low with a diffuser (the joys of curly hair!). So, that’s when I read my devotion book and Bible then pray over requests on my prayer list I maintain in a free app on my phone.

I don’t shower every morning. If I do my hair turns to cotton candy! Plus, I also shower at night sometimes. So on those mornings, I start praying while I’m brushing my teeth. That may sound a bit silly, but it works for me to associate prayer with part of my routine.

More recently I’ve started listening to sermons while I’m getting ready. It started during the season of Lent and has continued. My absolute favorite is Sarah Jakes Roberts. She preaches the Word in such a relatable way. My daughter first discovered her. I checked her out to make sure she was OK for my 12-year-old and found that I love her just as much. She encourages me in my spiritual walk and connecting with God.

2. Connect with God in the car.

Another great time time to connect with God is in the car. This is true especially if you get alone time in the car. I’m at a phase of motherhood where that happens more regularly now as I’m driving to pick up the kids from school and such. I have used this time to listen to Sarah Jakes Roberts’ sermons, but what I do mostly is listen to Christian music.

Music is powerful and connects me with God more easily than anything else. Listening to Christian music helps me to focus on Him and reminds me of His presence. I maintain a Families with Grace playlist on Spotify that I usually listen to in the car (and while I work). Christian radio also works. And I continue the music with my kiddos in the car as well.

If you do happen to find yourself alone in the car, it can also be a great time to talk with God (eyes open, of course!). I’ve done that before, but more often I use car time for praise and worship music.

3. Get up early (or stay up late).

When my kids were little and at home all the time, I’d get up early to have quiet time with God before the day started. This was past the earlier days I mentioned with a toddler, a baby and minimal sleep. Having 15 minutes to read my devotion book and Bible and pray got my day started off well. It was often my only quiet time in the day.

If you aren’t a morning person, consider doing this at night before bedtime if you can. If your kids still take naps, use part of naptime to connect with God. Find something that works for you and your schedule, even if it isn’t every single day. Connecting with God isn’t an all or nothing activity. Small ways you connect with Him add up and help you grow spiritually.

4. Utilize resources to get into the Word.

This is my 2022 devotion book that I’m really enjoying.

I’ve been in church my entire life and have heard more times than I can count the importance of regularly getting into God’s Word. I agree completely, but what I don’t often hear is what that looks like and how to make that happen.

Honestly, if I pick up my Bible and just start reading at random, I don’t always get a lot out of it. My mind can start wandering even as I’m going through the words. I can struggle to connect what I’m reading to my own life.

For that reason, I most enjoy using a devotion book along with my Bible reading. I’ve used a variety of them through the years and do a different once each year. My 2022 devotion book is “Not Without You” by Natasha D. Frazier. (It’s free on Kindle Unlimited!) Each entry is relatively short, but packs a punch. It includes a focus verse but also additional verses for reading.

No matter what devotion book you pick, make sure it is focused on the Bible and encourages you to read from the Bible regularly. I enjoy having my devotion book on my Kindle and use the Kindle app on my phone along with the YouVersion Bible app to read. I love it’s all portable, so if I end up getting behind or not having a chance to read during my usual time, I can read anywhere I am when I am able to.

5. Have a verse of the day.

Reading your Bible and delving into God’s Word is important to help you connect with God and grow in your spiritual walk. Along with that, I’ve found having a verse of the day is helpful. Right now, I’m using a flip calendar on my desk that a friend gave me. It’s all about walking by faith and each day has a Bible verse or encouraging spiritual statement. It’s simple and I really like it.

Scripture cards are also a great way to focus on a verse a day. You can put them in an envelope or attach them with a ring binder clip and rotate through them to keep yourself encouraged and focused on God’s Word each day.

Party potatoes recipe

An easy cheesy hash brown casserole recipe your family will love!

Affiliate links are used in this post; if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

I love potatoes. I can’t think of a way to prepare a potato that I wouldn’t eat from fried to boiled to mashed to baked! But this party potatoes recipe is hands-down my most favorite potato recipe of all time. While this recipe is almost the same as the one my mom has made for years, it has a couple of slight differences to make it even creamier and oh-so-delicious!

Another bonus of this party potatoes recipe is it uses frozen hashbrowns, just like my slow cooker potato soup. You get to enjoy the potato-y goodness without having to scrub, peel or cut potatoes. And that makes this recipe even easier to come together. You basically mix together the ingredients and then bake them. Easy-peasy!

I will eat these potatoes fresh from the oven and reheat them for leftovers. I’d guess that you could freeze and reheat them later, but they never make it that long around my house.

When it comes to a cheesy hashbrown casserole like these party potatoes are, I think there’s never a wrong time to make them. I’ve made them for Thanksgiving and for cookouts. In my opinion, they go with just about anything and everything! (I told you I love them!)

Let’s get this party potatoes recipe started!

Like any oven recipe, start with preheating your oven to 350-degrees (F). Next, find the biggest bowl you have. I use a giant glass bowl I got at IKEA a few years ago, but any extra-large bowl will work. Pour in the whole 30-ounce bag of frozen shredded hash brown potatoes.

Plop two cans of either cream of potato or cream of chicken soup on top of the hash browns. I have made it with both types of soup and love it both ways. It really is up to you on that one. Maybe go with whatever you have on hand, is easiest to find or is cheapest. Either kind of soup works well in this party potatoes recipe.

Next, add in 2 cups of sour cream. I just plop it right on top of the hash browns and soup. (One of my favorite kitchen tools to make mealtime prep easier is this kind of measuring cup with a push-up bottom. It makes measuring out ingredients like sour cream so much easier!)

While other party potatoes recipes put the shredded cheese on top, this one mixes some right in with the hash browns for cheesy-ness all throughout. Add in 1-3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

And then, finally, add in 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Shredded Parmesan cheese might work, but the grated works best for giving it more cheesiness flavor but without getting stringy. Combine all of the ingredients together in the bowl.

Get ready to bake!

Once the hash browns, soup, sour cream and cheeses are well combined, pour the mixture into a 3-quart baking dish that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray. Pat the mixture with a spoon so that it is even throughout the pan.

Sprinkle the hash brown potato mixture with 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese — or whatever amount looks good to you. Honestly, I don’t measure out this part. I just keep sprinkling cheddar cheese until it’s well-coated, but I am totally a cheese lover!

Bake the party potatoes in your preheated 350-degree oven for 40-45 minutes until the cheese is melted. If you want, turn your broiler on low for 2 minutes to get the top slightly browned and bubbly. And then enjoy the delectable cheesy goodness!

Party Potatoes Recipe

With just a couple of easy steps, this cheesy party potatoes recipe is great for a side dish any time and ideal for carry-in dinners!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American


  • 1 30-oz. package frozen, shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 2 10-3/4 oz. cans condensed cream of potato or cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  • Preheat your oven to 350-degrees (F) and spray a 3-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set it aside.
  • In a very large bowl, combine the hash brown potatoes, soup, sour cream, 1-3/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese and grated Parmesan. Mix well.
  • Pat the hash brown mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheddar cheese (or however much your family would like!).
  • Bake, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes until the cheese is completely melted and bubbly. If desired, turn your broiler on low for 2 minutes to get the top even more browned.
  • Let it stand a few minutes before serving. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
Keyword carry-in, cheesy potatoes, Christmas, cookout, hashbrown casserole, pitch-in, potato casserole, Thanksgiving

The power of smiling

Plus 10 quotes about the power of smiling

The first part of this post is one I wrote back in 2014 when my kids were very small. Eight years later, I still understand the power of smiling and do my best to use that power wisely — just like my own mama has!

My mom has a beautiful smile that comes easily. When I was growing up, I even had friends remark about how it seemed like my mom was always smiling. Truthfully, there were times in my grumpy adolescence where it annoyed me. But then again, there were times in my adolescence when everything annoyed me no matter what. (Man, I dread that stage with my kiddos.)

My mom’s smile was always there. It still is. I didn’t give it a second thought as a kid. Now as a mom myself, I’ve been thinking about the power of a smile in the lives of my children. When I smile at them, they smile back. When I smile at them, I’m communicating happiness. And when I smile at them, I’m letting them know they aren’t a bother or a burden. That is exactly what I want them to know.

Smiling through the work of motherhood

My children aren’t a bother or a burden. Changing countless diapers throughout the day, wiping noses, making food, playing pretend games, reading books, driving to preschool and back, giving baths, removing fuzz from baby mouths and so much more isn’t a burden. Well, it shouldn’t be. Sometimes I get caught up in myself. Sometimes I get caught up in what I’d really like to be doing like napping, reading a grown-up book or watching a show not on Disney Junior. Other times, I get caught up in the chores I’d like to be able to do in peace from unloading the dishwasher without the baby trying to help or finishing the laundry (which is in the garage) without worrying what the baby is getting into inside. Then I get grumpy. I start to think of my motherhood tasks of burdensome. I stop smiling.

That’s not the kind of mom I want to be. I don’t want to be sighing every time my children ask me for something with words or actions. I don’t want to be rolling my eyes all the time that they need one more thing in my already busy day. Certainly, I don’t want to huff around the house irritated because I’m not getting done what I wanted to get done. I want to be the happy, smiling mom who makes her kids feel secure that they can ask for help when they need it because she will always be there. The power of smiling is great and I want to wield it wisely. I want my children to know the treasures they are to me. I want to honor the role of motherhood that God has blessed me with.

And so I smile. I don’t know if this is why my mom smiled. I think partly she inherited her easy smile and gentle attitude from my grandpa who was such a loving, kind-hearted man with a terrific smile. And I think partly she enjoyed being a mom. I see the light that sparks in her even now when she’s with her grandchildren. She gets excited to give them baths or change their diapers. I’m not at that level, yet, and probably won’t be until I’m a grandma myself.

But, I do want to be the smiling mom for my children. I have learned that smiling, even when I don’t always feel like it, often lifts my spirits. That’s the power of smiling. Sometimes being the smiling mom on the outside allows me to become the smiling mom on the inside. You know on those days when everybody has needed something all day and you were up multiple times the night before with different kiddos at different times for different reasons. That’s when I need the power of smiling to lift my spirits and remind me that this really is a blessed task I have been given. And that it is a task I will one day miss.

For now I’m just going to keep smiling, even and maybe especially at times I don’t really feel like it. Maybe one day my kids’ friends will comment about it. They’ll probably roll their eyes, but that’s OK. In spite of themselves, they’ll at least know how loved they are.

Quotes about the power of smiling

“The world always looks brighter from behind a smile.” — Unknown

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” — Mother Teresa

“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” – William Arthur Ward

¨Use your smile to change the world but don’t let the world change your smile.¨ — Unknown

¨A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.¨- Phyllis Diller

¨If we are not able to smile, then the world will not have peace.¨- Thich Nhat Hanh

“You don’t have to be happy to smile.” — Daniel Willey

¨What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.¨- Joseph Addison

¨I have many problems in life. But my lips don’t know that. They always smile.¨- Charlie Chaplin

“Smiling doesn’t necessarily mean you’re happy. Sometimes it just means you’re strong.” — Unknown

10 Kitchen tools to make mealtime prep easier

Enjoy easier mealtime prep with these kitchen tools

Affiliate links are used in this post; if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

Every single night my family wants to eat dinner — and breakfast, lunch and maybe snacks. Like many moms, I spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen so any time I find kitchen tools that make mealtime prep easier, I fall in love. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make me happiest.

I decided to share 10 of my favorite kitchen tools that make for easier mealtime prep in my own kitchen. While I wasn’t sure if I could come up with 10, once I started thinking about it, I came up with more than 10. So, for this week’s Tasty Tuesday post, I’ve pared the list down to the 10 best that I use often. Many of these I use multiple times a week, and all of them I use at least a couple of times a month!

1. Collapsible strainers

This sounds crazy, but I’ve looked at collapsible strainers for years and never got them. I mentioned it to my husband and within a couple of days, this two-pack showed up from Amazon. You guys, I fell in love. The collapsible strainers make for easier mealtime prep, because they don’t take up much space in my dishwasher, so I don’t resist using them. That was exactly what I did with my old hard plastic strainer. Who knew they’d make me so happy?!

2. A stand mixer

I’m in love with my stand mixer. In fact, I have named her Dorothy because she is ruby red like the slippers in “The Wizard of Oz” movie. Dorothy and I have been together for a while. I suppose I could live without her, but I’m glad I don’t have to! In having fibromyalgia, my arms often ache, so letting Dorothy do the work saves me many times. And it’s thanks to her that I tried making yeast rolls and breads. I’ve talked about her many times on the blog, but I couldn’t leave her off of this list!

3. Ceramic knives

I’ve got only two ceramic knives, but they are hands-down my favorite. I use them all the time. They stay sharp and don’t need to be sharpened. They are dishwasher safe and don’t stain. I love, love, love them!

4. Food processor

If you have picky particular eaters in your family like I do in mine, then a food processor can definitely help you have easier meal time prep. Whether I’m pureeing bananas for banana bread or tomatoes for salsa or potato chili, my food processor makes life easier a least a couple of times a month. (And since our blender broke, my daughter uses it for smoothies!)

5. 4-slice toaster

The toaster in my house gets used multiple times a week. While I don’t necessarily use it that often for dinnertime meal prep, it definitely makes other meal prep easier. My son has had a recent obsession with plain bagels smeared with peanut butter. And my daughter went through a phase of making garlic toast a few times a week. Then, of course, there’s regular toast as well. Anyway, a simple 4-slice toaster truly makes my life easier!

6. Measuring cup with a push-up bottom

Years ago I went to an in-home cookware party. I bought a measuring cup with a push-up bottom and I LOVE it. I still use it regularly. It’s terrific for measuring peanut butter, honey and other sticky things. With the ways it’s made, you just push the ingredient out rather than having to try and scrape it out. It does need to be hand-washed, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for how useful this measuring cup is. While I have a brand name one, I would opt now to pay half the price for a different brand like this one:

7. Rachael Ray cook- and bakeware

You don’t have to hang out long on my blog to know I absolutely love Rachael cookware and bakeware. I first got the bakeware from my mother-in-law as a gift. My mom used my pans and got her own. I’ve purchased additional Rachael Ray bakeware as well. I got the muffin pan, mini-muffin pan and an extra loaf pan. During COVID shutdown my mom ordered Rachael Ray cookware and loved it so much that she ordered me a set for a random gift. All of the Rachael cook- and bakeware washes up so well (I hand-wash them per the directions). And they really are nonstick.

8. Parchment paper

About four years ago, I first discovered the modern marvel of parchment paper. I’m not sure how I didn’t know about it before, but it definitely makes for easier mealtime prep and cleanup! I bake pretty much everything with parchment paper nowadays.

9. Air fryer

I love my air fryer. It’s great for making things like french fries and chicken nuggets, but it’s also great for heating up certain leftovers. I make mozzarella cheese sticks and frozen eggrolls in the air fryer as well. In fact, I have two air fryers. They are the same brand, Power XL, but different sizes. I can use both at the same time! And we can’t forget the delicious air fryer doughnuts that make me practically drool on my keyboard!

10. Apron

Do aprons count as kitchen tools? I’m not sure, but they do to me. I got an apron a lot like this one years ago (my actual apron is no longer available) and just keep washing and using it. When I’m baking something messy or cooking some that might splash on me, my apron make mealtime prep easier by keeping me clean. That, in turn, makes my laundry easier. So, it’s a win all around!

First day of school traditions to start this year

7 Simple first day of school traditions to kick off the school year

Back-to-school season can be exciting, stressful and downright overwhelming — all at once! In fact, I recently shared a short video about how overwhelmed I felt with the back-to-school to-do list for my kiddos! There are so many things for us moms to do to get ready for the first day of school. But one of the things I don’t want to miss each year is making it a good day for my kiddos. So, we have a few simple first day of school traditions we do each year.

I’m emphasizing the word “simple” here, because not only are simple traditions easier to keep, but the first day of school is exhausting. Nobody wants added stress and pressure — kids or parents! Plus the first day of school tends to bring along a lot of emotions as well, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Honestly, I get back-to-school blues each year as my kids return to school.1. Interview your kids.

OK. I know this sounds a bit weird. But, listen, I’m a journalist by trade and I love interviewing my kids each year a day or two before they start school. I ask them about their favorites (food, books, movies, etc.), what they want to be when they grow up and what they’re most excited about for the new school year. Later on, it’s so fun to go back and see their answers. I video these interviews as well. I also do a little something else with them that you’ll find in tip number four!

And you can make the interview a keepsake as well with a decorative interview page like these I have in the Families with Grace Etsy store.

2. Prayer together for the new year.

Another first day of school tradition just before the first day is praying together about the school year. Our family has prayer time each evening as part of our bedtime routine. So, on the night before the first day of school I pray for the kids and their new school year. I also start praying weeks before on my own that God is with them throughout the school year and for specific concerns I have about the upcoming year for each of them.

3. Let them wear something new.

I always felt special getting to wear new clothes on the first day of school when I was a kid, so I’ve continued the tradition with my own kiddos. It doesn’t have to be an entirely new outfit, but just something new. For example, our school year starts mid-August which is still hot here in the Midwest. So my kids usually wear the shorts or pants they’ve been wearing all summer, but we pair it with a new shirt and new sneakers. (By the time their sneakers have survived summer, they are worn out and need to be replaced anyway!)

4. Turn first day of school photos into a cool “magazine” cover.

Every year I love making a “magazine” cover for my kiddos. I have done this since the year my daughter first started nursery school and have one for each of them for each year. It’s our version of a first day of school sign. I usually share the cover digitally with friends on social media and then print out a copy of it to go in their folder for the school year that I use to organize their school papers.

Along with a photo of the kids that I take in the morning before we leave, I include a lot of the information from their interview in tip one as well as other things like their shoe size and teacher’s name. (Seasoned mom tip: Get everyone up 10 minutes earlier than necessary on the first day of school so you aren’t super rushed through photos!)

I’ve got a template for sale in the Families with Grace store on Etsy if you want to make magazine covers part of your family’s first day of school traditions. Check it out:

5. Send a sweet lunchbox note.

If your kids take their lunch to school, send along a sweet lunchbox note. Honestly, I send notes daily because I really enjoy it. But I know that’s not everyone’s thing. However, I encourage you to send one on the first day to help your kids feel special and have a sweet token from home on their first day back to school.

(Check out these printable Bible verse lunchbox notes for kids and these Scripture cards that would work well for tweens and teens.)

6. Have a special dinner or treat.

When it comes to first day of school traditions, this is not too hard to pull off. Our tradition has been to pick the kids up from school and take them for an early dinner at Fazoli’s, because it is their favorite restaurant. Fazoli’s is pretty quick, which is what we’re looking for. If you’d rather, though, plan to make their favorite dinner at home. Or have a special treat to commemorate the day. I have a cousin whose first day of school tradition involved a cookie cake each year. Go with what your kids will like, but keep it low-key. They’ll be hungry and tired. The biggest goal is to have time together to hear all about their days. For our family, letting someone else do the cooking means we get to have those conversations all together easier. And going out for dinner on a school night is a treat!

(Looking for a super simple homemade treat? Try this easy hack to make a boxed brownie mix so fudgy good or these easy baked sopapillas using flour tortillas!)

7. Plan for a quiet evening.

Everyone is tired on the first day of school, no matter how much you’ve been preparing for it. When my kids were little and just getting into the school groove, we’d start a week ahead of the first day and practice getting up earlier each day and making sure we were ready on time. Now they are older, and we’ve been at this longer. So, we have our school morning system down pretty well. (It also helps that they go to a K-12 school and always have the same start time!)

But no matter what, the first day back is exciting and exhausting. Planning some big celebration that night is just not going to go well. Let them be low-key on their first day back to school. Maybe even plan to watch a movie together!

What are your family’s first day of school traditions?

Biscuit muffin recipe

An easy biscuit recipe with only 3 ingredients!

Affiliate links are used in this post; if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

Considering I’ve shared recipes for pumpkin bread, protein-packed banana bread, bacon ranch cheese bread and the perfect yeast rolls, it’s pretty obvious I love bread. So when my daughter came home from spending time with my in-laws raving about a new biscuit muffin recipe, I knew I would be on board!

I had trouble believing that three ingredients could turn into biscuits, but they did. Even better is they are ingredients we have at home. And since they take about 20 minutes from start to finish, they are great for weeknight dinners. This biscuit muffin recipe is definitely entering into our recipe rotation!

Making the dough

This recipe calls for self-rising flour. If you usually like all-purpose flour like I do, you can easily make it self-rising by adding 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt for each cup of flour. My daughter made it with self-rising flour with her Nana. With me she made it with all-purpose that we turned into self-rising. The biscuits turned out well both times. If you have all-purpose flour only, then your recipe will change to 5 ingredients with the salt and baking powder. But still not so bad, right?!

Get your oven preheating to 375-degrees, and then start by putting 2 cups of self-rising (or “doctored” all-purpose) flour into a large mixing bowl.

Next, pour in 1 cup of milk.

Finally, add 3 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise. My daughter made these quite “heaping” when we made them. So good!

And then you want to make sure you stir the dough ingredients for this biscuit muffin recipe well together to combine them. Depending on the humidity or lack thereof, your dough may seem a bit dry. You can add up 1/4 cup additional milk if needed. You want the dough to be thick and a bit sticky, like this:

Baking the biscuit muffins

You’re ready to bake! Distribute your biscuit dough evenly into a muffin pan. Although my Rachael Ray muffin pan is non-stick, I still do a light spritz of non-stick cooking spray into the pan before adding the dough. We filled our muffin cups about 3/4 full, but they probably ought to be 2/3 full. I think this biscuit muffin recipe could certainly make 12 biscuit muffins; however, we ended up with only nine.

Bake the biscuit muffins at 375-degrees for 14 to 16 minutes until they are starting to get golden around the edges. They will still be pretty white like biscuits rather than golden like yeast rolls.

If you want, melt about 3 tablespoons of butter just before removing the biscuit muffins from the oven and brush butter over the tops. So delicious!

You can serve them however you’d like. Use them as a side along your meal.

Or make them into their own entree. The night we made them, I turned a couple into breakfast sandwiches for myself. One had precooked bacon with grape jelly and the other had a scrambled egg made in the microwave.

Serve them up warm or at room temperature. Put leftovers into a zip-top bag and store for up to 3 to 5 days.

Biscuit muffins

With just three ingredients, this biscuit muffin recipe is such an easy biscuit recipe you'll make it regularly!
Prep Time 5 mins
Course Bread, Side Dish
Cuisine American


  • 2 cups self-rising flour (Or add 3 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to all-purpose flour)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons butter optional


  • Preheat your oven to 375-degrees.
  • Place the flour in a large mixing bowl.
  • Pour in 1 cup of milk and then add 3 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise.
  • Whisk together well. If the mixture is too dry, add up to 1/4 cup of additional milk until the dough is thick and sticky.
  • Distribute the dough into a muffin pan that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray. Fill the cups 2/3 full to get 12 biscuit muffins or 3/4 full to get 9 biscuit muffins.
  • Bake at 375-degree for 14 to 16 minutes until the edges are just slightly browned. Because they are biscuits, they will be more white than golden like yeast rolls.
  • If desired, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and immediately spread over the biscuits. Serve them warm or at room temperature.
Keyword 3 ingredients, biscuit muffins, biscuits, bread, easy recipe, weeknight biscuit
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