Making Your Home a Haven {Week 4 – A Cozy Warm Kitchen}

Join me in making our home a haven for our families. Together we'll make our homes a haven of peace, joy, tranquility, and fun for all who enter. #WomenLivingWell #homemaking #friendship #makingyourhomeahaven

This week is our final week in the Making Your Home a Haven Series.  I cannot believe how quickly it flew by!!! Here comes Thanksgiving and Christmas – oh my!!!

But first – let’s finish off this month strong with…

This week’s challenge:

Focus on the kitchen, the heart of the home.

Cook things with pleasant aromas like homemade bread, pies, and cookies. Don’t wait to have a reason to make something special – do it simply to show love to your family. Invite your kids and/or hubby to cook along side of you – make memories in the kitchen – test tasting, being creative, laughing and loving. Remember the importance of dinner time around the table as a family.  Work on showing love, goodness and faithfulness to your family this week.

This challenge is a fun one. I hope your candles and soft music are still going and you were able to squeeze in a family fun night last week.

I’ve invited a special guest,  Karen Ehman,  to share with us how she has turned her kitchen into a cozy warm place.

Karen and Courtney
Karen and Courtney

A little about Karen…

Karen Ehman of Proverbs 31 Ministries is a national speaker, blogger, and the author of six books including the best-selling book and DVD Bible study LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith. She is an online devotion writer for Proverbs 31 who reaches over 700,000 women each month with her engaging, honest style and encouraging biblical insight. She has been a guest on national media outlets such as Focus on the Family, Moody Mid-day Connection, FamilyLife, and The 700 Club. Married to her college sweetheart Todd for over 25 years, together they are raising their three sometimes quarrelsome but mostly charming children ranging in age from teen to young adult. They make their home in the boondocks of central Michigan where she is crazy about antique hunting, herb gardening, and the Detroit Tiger baseball team. Her desire is to help women live their priorities and love their lives. Connect with her for real-life ideas and encouragement at


Karen spaghetti.sauce[1]

Karen writes:

My kitchen island is magnetic.

Oh, I don’t mean that magnets can actually stick to it refrigerator style. It is magnetic in a different way: it magnetically draws my family members—and their friends—to it on a regular basis.

I think I come by my magnetic island by heredity.

My mom didn’t have a chocolate brown kitchen island like me. She had a pecan wood dining room table draped with an ivory lace tablecloth. She wasn’t a stay-at-home married mom of three like I am. She was a single mom of two who had to work full time to put food on that lace-draped table. But this is true of both my sweet mom and me….

We know that providing food wrapped in an envelope of love for whoever dwells in your four walls is a way to serve Jesus and make Him known.

My mom often left out a plate of cookies or other treat for my brother and me on that dining room table to greet us when we returned home from a long day at school. She was away at work but we still felt her love. Often a handwritten note or card was alongside of the food. “How did your test go?” or “Good luck tonight at tryouts” accompanied her cuisine.

My magnetic kitchen island sports many a dish.

A cooling fruit pie.

Karen 4.pies[1]

Bread hot from the oven.

Karen bread[1]

A kettle of chili ready to be ladled into bowls and topped with cheese and sour cream or homemade donuts cooling.

Karen donuts[1]

A hearty chicken pot pie.

Karen potpie[1]

Cookies made from a family heirloom recipe or the pages of a retro cookbook.

Karen cookies[1]

I want my family to be drawn to the kitchen to eat, laugh, share, and connect.

To do this, our food doesn’t have to be fancy.  Or perfectly presented.  It doesn’t need to always be from scratch.

The point is that you took the time to create a dish that also created an atmosphere of love and welcome inside your four walls.

But beyond forging family togetherness and making memories, your table or island can be tool for sharing God’s love with others.

Karen boys.island[1]

My kids’ friends too have been drawn to my humble kitchen. For an after-school snack. Homemade whole-grain oat waffles after a sleepover. Veggies and dip before the big game. Even to celebrate one of their birthdays with a homemade cake from Mama Karen’s oven—at times for two different teens whose moms each passed away over a decade ago.


I strategically called their fathers to inquire what cake their wives had liked to bake. And then? I baked it and had the child over on their special day. (I have become skilled at turning and pretending to do dishes so as not to be seen while I am choking back the tears!)

By welcoming others into our kitchen my kids not only feel loved, they learn to reach out to others as we gather in to eat.

And my hubby feels loved too. You know the old saying about the way to a man’s heart……Yep. It’s through his stomach!

How about you? Are you willing to take the challenge to have your kitchen turn magnetic too? Your husband, children, and even those outside your family will feel loved, appreciated, and cherished as they are presented with some lovin’ from your oven! {Or at least a cookie jar filled with some store-bought Oreos! Just keepin’ it real.}

Karen oreos

** Chime In**

Do you struggle with cooking or is your kitchen a cozy warm place?  Tell us about it!

What is your favorite mouth watering meal to cook for your family?  

Walk with the King,


Special For You!!!!

Karen 7 days Hassle Free Holiday

I mentioned Thanksgiving and Christmas at the start of this post.  It’s sneaking up on us.  So I hope this will bless you!

This year get Christmas all done without coming undone.

Announcing a 7-day free email resource just for you called 7 Days to a Hassle-Free Holiday by Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer.

This resource will equip you with practical tools and inspiration to help you have yourself a stress-free little Christmas this year.

To sign up, simply click on the image to enter your email address and for the next 7 days you will receive ideas and encouragement for taking the hassle-out of the holidays in your cleaning, decorating, cooking and baking, gift-giving, and traditions. You’ll also be given some great out-reach ideas to help your family focus on giving and serving rather than getting and “stuff”. And finally, as an added bonus, you get 25 easy and delicious recipes as a PDF in the following categories:

  • Holiday get-together (or take on the road) dishes
  • DIY food gifts
  • Quick and easy dinners for those crazy-busy holiday-prepping days
  • Fun foods to make with kids
  • Retro Christmas cookies

Have a holy and hassle-free Christmas this year! {To sign up CLICK HERE}


  1. I love that you point out that it can be simple. I started an organized meal plan (Italian – Mondays, Mexican – Tuesdays, Chicken – Wednesdays, ect.) This really helps me stay on top of cooking and sitting down as a family to eat. My favorite dish right now is Baked Ziti. So easy – ground beef, ziti pasta, jar of pasta sauce, diced onion, and mozzarella cheese all mixed together in a casserole dish, and bake at 350 for 30 min. It makes a lot, super easy, and very yummy!
    Cooking Up Faith

  2. What an inviting kitchen! Karen looks like she knows how to make her family and her boys’ friends feel very loved. I just came through a very busy week (with my candle and family fun night though!) and I’ve been eagerly waiting to get back on the wagon with making homemade bread. It’s so healthy and I love doing it for my family.

    As I’ve been thinking about family this month, I’ve thought about the words every parent should say.

  3. Hi Courtney,
    I enjoy many of your articles. I truly believe the kitchen should be the heart of the home. It seems like everyone congregates around my island. Great smells from my kitchen are always wonderful and comforting, but almost all of your recipes honestly aren’t health giving. Okay, I have to admit I’m a nutritionist, but there are foods that taste great that are closer to how I believe our Creator engineered us to operate optimally. Of course I don’t have chapter and verse in the Bible, but all you have to do is look at the story of Daniel. I’m not a vegan and I do eat meat, but I see patients week after week who eat so many of the foods you highlight who are sick, with nebulous conditions and sub optimal energy levels. All of these baked goods and sweets that you post are okay to be eaten occasionally or as I call “special occasion foods,” but consumed daily they are downright deadly. This is a huge blind spot in the Christian community. When I help women clean up their diets and supplement with high quality nutrients, many of them say that this change not only saves their lives, but a few have said that it saved their marriage. If we choose to follow the world by consuming processed foods and foods with high flour and sugar content, we will continue to pay a high price. Most of our glaring health conditions are related to nutrition and diet. There is an excellent, newly released documentary called, “Fed Up” that I would highly recommend. There is also a Bible study called, “The Daniel Plan” by Rick Warren. Again, I know all the great things you are doing for women, but perhaps you could include a few more recipes that would help them to be optimally healthy and energetic. I send out a monthly newsletter with recipes and then post them on my website: Thank you again for your heart and for your desire to help women be and have what God wants for them. You are doing a great work.
    Lindy Ford, RD, LDN

    1. Hi Lindy,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Over the past year some of the recipes I’ve included on Thursdays are: Stuffed Zucchini, Oven Roasted Veggies, Summer Peach Tea, Cucumber Salad, Fruit Salad, Wedge Salad, Strawberry Spinach Salad, Grilled Veggie Salad, Italian Orzo Salad, Quinoa & Radicchio Salad with Dried Cherries & Pistachios and Orange and Red Onion Salad.

      I have consciously mixed in healthy recipes because of several complaints 😉

      I would agree that the recipes posted here are fun and not meant to be for weight loss. I appreciate your perspective. I know I could do better in this area but I also know that my grandmother – who was hungarian and baked cookies, cakes, carbs and put real butter on everything – lived to be 90 with nearly no health trouble and my husband’s grandmother – eats nearly nothing that people would say is “health food” and is now 94 and strong – even still living alone and driving. I also have 2 extended relatives who were active and ate very healthy who died at fairly young ages. So I think there are more factors than just our food affecting us, such as our genes and environment.

      I mainly cook a meat (chicken, steak, fish) with veggies and rice or potatoes or a fruit for dinner most nights. They just aren’t really blogable. They are boring – lol!

      So these other recipes are for fun – for special occasions, holidays, or to mix in on nights when you are in a hurry. If you make a pan of fudge and only eat one piece and share the other 20 with family, friends and neighbors – everyone will be just fine. If you make a pan of fudge and eat half the pan – therein lies the problem.

      Thank you for lovingly sharing your heart here.
      Lots of Love,

    2. Hey Lindy–
      Thanks so much for sharing your perspective on this. Since Courtney asked me to make a post about some of the festive and celebratory foods for a post in her series, I included a snapshot of some we enjoy over the year—not all in one week! 🙂

      Of course these are not every day treats, just occasion ones to be enjoyed in moderation or as part of a birthday. Perhaps you missed the portion of the post where I also mentioned my whole grain oat waffles (I grind my own whole wheat flour and the teens–although most turn their nose up at them at first–love them and ask for them on nearly every overnight) or where I talked about how I make up a huge tray of veggies and dip before the big game. The picture of the bread is my 100% whole grain bread.

      It is kind of hard to type out an entire philosophy of eating in a short blog post. So, I just stuck to doing what I was asked by Courtney. I am sorry it caused you concern and I really do appreciate you sharing your heart as it seems you have a lot of knowledge and passion in the healthy eating department. 🙂 For our family–I like to follow the biblical example of eating normal, whole foods most of the time, fasting some of the time and feasting at other times of celebration. You just mostly see the feasts pictured here. 🙂 And I do feel called to the ministry of baking birthday cakes for teens who don’t get them. There are about 4 in my son’s circle of friends at school.

      Thanks again for your comment. Have a wonderful day!!

  4. I’m struggling a bit too, and it’s exactly because of what Lindy said. I struggle trying to find healthy foods that “attract” family to the kitchen. I would love to have a cookie jar, or bake desserts more often, but all of it just ends up making us feel sick! This is actually sad to me, because I feel like cooking has become drudgery:( Anyone out there have suggestions for bringing back the joy of cooking while not giving my husband a heart attack or sending my kids on a sugar high? 😉

    1. I have found that my picky toddlers would rather eat cut up fruits and veggies than touch what I made for dinner! My daughter loves to make fruit kabobs! I cut up the fruit and she puts them on the stick and makes them into patterns. (try fresh blueberries, cut up strawberries, cut up apples, grapes) You could put a bowl of grapes or cuties (clementines) on the table. They look pretty and are healthy and inviting. You could try displaying veggies in fun serving dishes–carrots, sweet peppers, olives, pickles, cucumbers along with ranch dip. (my kids hate hummus) Display cheese and crackers on those tiered stands. There are lots of ideas on Pinterest!

      And I like to make homemade chocolate chip cookies a lot. Homemade still has lots of bad ingredients, but it’s all from scratch so there are no preservatives and I find it doesn’t make me sick to eat those but store-bought junk food does.

      The goal is to make your kitchen inviting and a fun place to be where everyone can hang out and enjoy each other’s company. Each family is different with which foods we like and which ones our bodies can handle. I hope you can find fun AND healthy food items that your whole family can enjoy!

      1. Thank you for the suggestions! I am reminding myself that as long as I’m keeping my family’s belly full, I’m doing just fine. It’s tough when you have a husband with a sweet tooth, but I suppose every once in awhile won’t hurt. 😉 And you’re right about just having foods on display and simply available. There’s nothing more depressing than a kitchen where there’s “nothing to eat.” Thanks again, I feel encouraged. Have fun making your home a haven! ❤️

  5. Love this week’s focus- the kitchen truly is the heart of a home. Thank you Courtney and Karen for sharing your ideas with us, I truly appreciate your ministries! Thank you!

  6. I love this series every year! Awww…. There is nothing like the heart of the home, the kitchen! I usually like for supper to at least be started when my husband arrives home to greet him with the aroma of what is to come! There is nothing like the feeling of a homemade meal cooking. I have a cake plate that I keep homemade muffins or cookies when family and friends come, or if nothing else a fresh pot of coffee making is always inviting! I enjoyed Karen’s post so much. You are both a blessing!

  7. It has been very difficult to keep a warm & cozy home these past couple of months. My daughter is in marching band and it has been very hectic. They went to regionals this past weekend and are now going to state on Saturday. After this weekend the busyness will calm down and I can get back to cooking & baking again. Working full time and being a band mom has taken its toil on me, but I know this will come to an end soon. I may even miss it! 🙂 One of our favorite meals is shrimp scampi. I made this for Valentines Day a few years ago and they loved it. The shrimp scampi is served with fettuccine. It’s very delicious!

  8. Great post Courtney and Karen!! Courtney, your loving and gracious responses to comments is refreshing and a blessing to your readers (and commenters, I would believe). I am so grateful for your blogging, I try and just drop the ball over and over again. I appreciate your commitment.

    On another note, Karen, I want that cookie jar! ha. Where did you get it?

    Grace and mercy and joy,

    1. Cynthia–

      {smiles} I got it at Marshal’s but I have seen them at TJ Maxx and Home Goods too. I usually write what type of cookie, or homemade granola bar is in it. And sometimes it holds store-bought cookies or trail mix too.

      1. Karen – genius! Homemade granola bars…I can do that! Thank you for your post; I’m feeling encouraged by this. It is such a joy to provide for our families.

  9. Ladies, please stop being so critical about cooking warm, inviting meals for your family. It comes across as sounding like an excuse for not wanting to bless others.

    If you eat processed food for every meal, that is a problem. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having bowl of chili with salad and fresh baked cookies for dinner. This is a much better option than take-and-bake pizza or microwaved food.

    I’m known to cook big batches of treats such as cinnamon rolls or cheesecake. Our family has a slice or roll, then we share the rest with neighbors and family/friends who visit. We don’t gobble it all up ourselves. That is the heart of the message here… to bake warm and inviting foods to SHARE with your family, friends, and neighbors.

    The key is balanced eating. Eat plenty of vegetables during your meals and snacks, and those homemade desserts at night are not a diet-breaker.

  10. Just read Lindy’s comment and yes there is a lot of information out there from Christian doctors and health experts who have studied this subject on keeping your body well and looking after it as our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.
    I have heard of the “Daniel plan” plus there are other trained christian health colleges such as Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida and they follow the Genesis diet or the raw food diet which comes from the Bible verse in Gen 1: 29

    All this research has come about from the study of degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart trouble, arthritis, etc there are real life testimonies where people have been treated with holistic natural raw foods and that The body actually begins to heal itself, with this alternative medicine and patients have fully recovered from serious cancers. Also check out the health benefits of wheatgrass and it’s powerful antioxidants. Other healthy drinks are cranberry and pomegranite juices.

    Now in case of us wanting to keep us and our families who are already well, strong and healthy, like you say Courtney – everything in moderation. Actually the doctors say butter is much healthier than margarine as that is one molecule away from plastic.
    Our world in which we live in is very toxic even drinking water can have chemicals in it. It’s recommended to get a water distiller to be sure of pure water, and alkalize it. ( We’d like to get one when we can).

    The bottom line is, in order to have and maintain a healthy body we need to be more alkaline about 7.2 on the pH scale. The reason is disease can’t live in an alkaline environment.
    An acidic body 4 – 6 pH is where disease thrives and you get sick and your immune system becomes low. So if anyone’s concerned about health issues or any other problems, buy yourself some pH strips online and check regularly. I do to make sure I’m keeping my body alkaline. The recommended ratio on your plate for a healthy diet should be 75% alkaline and 25% acid. ( you can buy books on acid/ alkaline balance).
    We do like to eat a healthy diet, but at the same time we do like our “treats” aka weekend take-outs.

  11. Dear Courtney,

    Thank you for this series on Making Your Home a Haven; I look forward to it every year and am happy to be participating on You can read this week’s post here:

    Karen, I am love seeing you over here. I am reading your book “A Life That Says Welcome” right now, and your words here were a great reminder to ““Focus your time and energies on making those closest to you sense your desire to be one who displays the love of Christ through her attitudes and actions.”

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