Aug 282014
 

We have had such a wonderful summer weather, with it feeling like Autumn most of the time.  I’m ready to move on and leave summer behind.  Appears Abe’s Market is feeling similarly.  To celebrate the end of summer, Abe’s Market is having a sale through September 2, 4014.

End of Summer Sale – Over 3,400 products up to 60% off, with an additional 10% off with code SUNSET

They are also currently offering free shipping on orders over $29.00. Personally, these curry flavored peas sound good right about now.  :)

World Peas - Bombay Curry Flavored PeasDid you also know that Abe’s Market has a My Rewards program? Once you earn 100 points you earn $5 to spend at Abe’s.  Write reviews, make purchases, refer friends, follow or like on social media sites, or join their mailing list.  All those activities earn you points.

After 6 different activities, only 1 of which was a purchase, I have now earned 100 points/$5.  I hear the peas calling my name.  :)

 

This post contains affiliate links.

 

Aug 282014
 

food mill pizza sauce tomato 2

Canning season is upon us; has been for a while now.  I am finally getting to the tomato canning portion of my “want to preserve for winter” list.  The first steps I knew pretty well:

  • wash tomatoes
  • quarter tomatoes
  • put through food mill
  • cook down

The next steps were ones I had to reference past posts to find what I liked (here and here).  For some reason, this part intimidated me (I know, you can chuckle) and I put it off till late last night.  A quick search of posts brought up these two from years past.  My memory clicked and I laughed at myself, “It is so easy.  You were making it into a bigger deal than it really was.”  Story of my life right now.

So, with a few chops of onion here and dices of peppers there I had a large pot of mostly thickened sauce cooking on the stove.  What is a girl to do?  Was the dishes and sit down with a book of course.

spaghetti with spices canning

As you can see, I still need to clean up around the stove as it splattered out while pouring it all into one big pot and while cooking.

pot of spaghetti sauce to can

This will be easy since I did a larger scrubbing even on the stove top earlier this week.  Nothing like cooked on burnt tomato sauce to give your arms a work out.  In years past I gave up on this, as our stove seems to turn everything that falls on the stove top into a burnt mess.  When I tackled it earlier this week I took the ‘easy’ way out:

  1. Spray multi-purpose vinegar cleaner
  2. Top with scrubbing agent
  3. Let sit overnight

Tuns out the ‘easy’ way has been The Way to do it all along.  The burnt on food and spills wiped right up, no extra super-human arm power needed.  I have tried this in the past, but never let it sit so long.  Now I know exactly how to handle any spills that inevitably seem to happen when canning tomato sauces.

IMG_20140826_065641399[1]There was one spot that decided to be a stubborn.  As I had run out of cleaning powder at that point, I decided to wait until the canning of tomatoes was finished before going through Round 2.

Today I will be doing another 80 lbs, or so, of tomatoes.  If all goes as planned, I will begin canning up the sauce tonight and finish in tomorrow morning.

 

Aug 252014
 


For the month of August, I have so far earned 2663 Swag Bucks, using 450 SB to redeem for a $5 Amazon Gift Card.  I have 2213 SBs remaining, as of when this post was written.

Amazon gift cards have been my main preference in the past, with Paypal gift cards showing up for me this past Spring.  Today, I think I am going to branch out in an effort to save money here at home.  That is one of the reasons for doing this after all.

 

I have mentioned previously we experienced a storm this past Spring which damaged our house.  Because of that we decided to take on a  huge phase of home improvement that we actually never thought we would pursue.  As I sent off an email this morning concerning the proposed changes to the house, I started to think of all the little things that will need to be done.

“Those costs are going to start adding up if we are not careful.  What are some ways we can save?”

I began to list the ways I already knew – second hand store (Goodwill, Salvation Army, ReStore, etc.), Craigslist/Freecycle, coupons, sales … “Swagbucks!! I wonder if they have any gift cards to home improvement stores?”

Of course they do!  The selection of gift cards does not stop with Amazon and PayPal.  So that is my new goal – to earn as many Swagbucks as possible to help offset any purchases we may need or want to make at the home improvement stores in Big Town.  It may not be much in comparison to the cost of the whole project.  Every little bit counts in the end.

I can save even more if I shop through their Shop & Earn webpage.  When you shop with Swagbucks’ Shop & Earn page, you earn Swagbucks for every dollar spent.  Now through Sepetmber 6th you will also receive $5 when you us this link to sign up for Swagbucks and spend $25 shopping through their webpage.  (**see details below)

Sites on the Shop & Earn webpage include places like: Hotel.com, Living Social, Groupon, Sears, Walmart, Staples, Amazon.com, and Nordstrom.  This list is just a sampling, as listing all 710 (at time of this post) would take a really long time.  :)

Additionally, we are not in a rush to make the inside look magazine worthy.  Our goal is to get the roof done and the outside completed.  Everything else can come along at a slower pace.  This will also help us save money as we will be able to take time to look and compare prices and available options.

I LOVE SwagBucks.  Pretty sure I’ve said that before.  :)

**Receive 500 Swag Bucks (approximate retail value $5 USD) (“Credit”) when you sign up
for a Swagbucks.com account via an applicable referral link and make a purchase
of $25 USD or more through the Swagbucks.com Shop & Earn webpage between 12:01
AM PST on August 6, 2014 and 11:59 PM PST on September 6, 2014 (a “Qualifying
Purchase”). Offer valid for new Swagbucks.com accounts only. Credit will be
issued to your Swagbucks.com account within thirty-five (35) days of your
Qualifying Purchase. Limit ONE (1) Credit per person. This offer may not be
transferred; cannot be redeemed for cash; and cannot be combined with other
offers.  Prodege, LLC reserves the right
to add, modify, or discontinue this offer at any time, for any reason or no
reason, with or without notice. Valid only in U.S., Canada and the U.K. Void
where prohibited. Subject to the Swagbucks.com Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
found at http://www.swagbucks.com/g/terms and http://www.swagbucks.com/g/privacy
, respectively. 

Aug 252014
 

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

Breakfast:

  1. Vacation
  2. Muffins, fruit, sausage (leftovers from vacation)
  3. Cereal
  4. Cereal
  5. Shakes
  6. Sausage and Butternut Squash Cassarole
  7. Travelingapple muffins in freezer bag

Lunch:

  1. Eat Out
  2. Spaghetti with meat sauce
  3. Beef Curry with Rice, beets, peas
  4. Grilled Spice Pork Patties (we did not get around to eating last week)
  5. Salad
  6. Spicy Pan-fried Steak and Noodles, vegetables
  7. Traveling

Tomato Soup and Grilled Bread

Supper:

  1. Cookout with Friends
  2. Falafel, pasta salad
  3. Tangy Black Bean Soup, fresh bread
  4. Leftovers
  5. Restaurant Quality Crockpot Tomato Soup
  6. Traveling
  7. Vacation

The link ups below will be updated tonight.  Life calls.  :)

 

Linked up with OrgJunkie.

For more ideas also check out This Week For Dinner.

Also check out Confessions of a Homeschooler’s  August’s Monthly Meal Plan.

This post contains affiliate links.

Aug 222014
 

I was so happy when two of my favorite things came together – reading and Swagbucks.  I love reading.  For every book review I post on the blog, I read 2 or 3 others.  When Swagbucks came out with the new way to earn Swagbucks while learning about new books I was thrilled.  (This post contains affiliate links.)

If you're a fan of being rewarded for some summer reading, you're in luck.
Swagbucks.com has a new way to earn Swag Bucks, and it's called READ! You
can find this new earning channel under Discover in the topbar of the 
Swagbucks site. Every month, Swagbucks will introduce up to 6 new books 
from St. Martins Press. Simply hover your cursor over each book to see how
to earn SB. READ lets you earn SB from multiple opportunities, including: 

  • Reading an excerpt
  • Watching a trailer
  • Signing up for the author’s newsletter
  • Sharing on Facebook
  • And more…
Since each SB-earning opportunity on READ is only available for a limited time,
Swagbucks will be changing the ways you can earn from each of the available titles
throughout each month, making more SB available for you to get! 
As always – Swagbucks strives to provide a wide variety of earning opportunities
so you can choose the earning opportunities that appeal to you. 
Haven't signed up for Swagbucks yet? Take advantage of this new way to get 
Swag Bucks and sign up now!
Aug 212014
 

We love trying new recipes.  Whether it be a new soup or dessert or main dish, we find it fun to test out new combinations and ingredients.  Some turn out great and quickly become a part of our family’s life.  “You never know till you try it” is something we often tell our kids.

Drink recipes are a category we have not explored much in the past.  We have tested out various brands and flavors of something, such as coffee and hot cocoa, but it is not often we see an actual recipe for a “new” drink.  Kombucha Revolution introduced me to a whole new world – a home-brewed, fermented drink made from tea.

Tea is something we use a fairly often in our house, so the idea of making a different kind of drink from it caught my attention.  Stephen Lee and Ken Koopman did a great job explaining what kombucha is, then taking the reader through the steps in how to make it themselves.  As if that was not enough, Kombucha Revolution includes various recipes to: infuse various flavors, make mixers, enhance smoothies, create condiments, and to use it in breads and other food dishes (they did not even forget the desserts).  In case things got a bit out of hand, they have you covered in the section on making vinegar.

When I try a new recipe I often find myself referencing back to every step, making sure I am doing everything in the correct order and the correct amounts.  While kombucha does need specifics like this at certain times in the recipes, there are other times when you have to use you best guess.  I appreciated that each recipe did not start out by saying, “Reference page xx for the first 3 steps.”  It was all right there, on the recipes you would be interested in using.  When you are ready to start, there would be no need to flip pages or remember that you  had to start in this section of the book then go to the next.  Once you have the process down, it would be easy to skim through these first few paragraphs to get to the part you may actually be looking to try.

As a novice in this area this was a great book to take me through the process and explain what I needed to do, right down to how to handle the SCOBY.  With the added recipes there was room to grow and try new creations once I got down the basics.  Kombucha Revolution would be a great book to add to your recipe books if you are looking to try something new and a bit out of the norm, or if you are looking for a gift for someone else who does.

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

Aug 202014
 

I am sharing our experience in hopes of helping someone else dealing with Apraxia or other struggle.  In no way is this how I view my son, but it is something that is a part of him and we CAN NOT ignore it if he has any hopes of learning.  So, while I am sharing a part of his life where he struggles, there are others in which he excels.  And for the record, George loved Kindergarten.  When asked, he would not mention any of the following issues, so we do not point them out to him.  We emphasis the good parts, hoping to aide in the love of learning.

container of fun pencils

We are entering 1st grade at the local public school with George.  I have my hesitations but feel a bit more prepared for the year.  This year, I will go in armed with a plan and not wait till the problem gets too big.  It was more than a week before school started that I initialed contact with the new teacher requesting an idea of what they will be learning, hoping to know before he comes home with it.  Seems she has come up with a plan which we will discuss during the Open House a few days after school starts.

stack of children's books

Kindergarten was a huge struggle as his previous pattern of inconsistent learning reappeared. (Add in a large class and the recipe was set.)  This was also a problem all through Early Childhood (education).  While it was not a surprise, it did have bigger implications.

One of George’s patterns is this:

  • Not remembering/understanding – review and review and review, etc.
  • Starting to get it.  Still not quiet there – practice, practice, practice.
  • Get it!!!
  • Completely forget it. {sigh}
  • Learn again and again and again.
  • Start to get it, again.
  • Think we got it.
  • We got it?!

Once he got something, his other pattern would appear:

  • Get it on Monday
  • Forget it on Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Totally get it Thursday and Friday and Monday and Tuesday
  • Forget it for the next 1/2/3/? days.

Out of frustration one night, I searched for a video for him to listen to so we could count it as doing his homework.  That was the beginning of a new stage for us.  He loved it.  I am not sure if it was the music or the colors, but it worked.  He begged for that video.  His brain definitely leans towards the artistic, right-brain side of things.  Not exactly good for long term memory, see above, but it is what it is.

Now if I am wanting to teach him something new, I first look for a video or song.  This goes for school work, Bible Time stories, new memory verses, etc.

The jury is out on how exactly Apraxia affects learning and whether it does at all.  It really does change from one kid to the next.  There seems to not be a lot of concrete evidence, but there are a lot of similarities between kids.  If you are where I was a few years ago, looking up information on Apraxia, that statement can seem so frustrating.  Don’t give up, keep reading and researching.  Most of all, become an expert on your kid.

Here are a few articles I have found recently while looking up information to tackle what he may face in 1st grade this year.

Learning:

Addressing Apraxia of Speech in the IEP – This article describes so many other struggles George deals with.  I wish I would have had this before his last IEP meeting to share with the teachers and such.  His IEP addresses several of these areas, but I never could point out that they were actually related to his Apraxia.  He is not severely Apraxic, his is very understandable now, yet he still struggles with some of the other things like focusing and often complains of headaches.  After reading this, I wish I would have asked the eye doctor to do additional testing on his eyes.

Seventy Five Percent Of Apraxia Cases Wrongly Diagnosed

The Connection Between Memory and Learning

General Links About Reading:

Use Both Sides of Your Brain by Dianne Craft - this would have been so helpful last year when I was trying to use flashcards to teach sight words.

Literacy and Children with Apraxia of Speech by Sharon Gretz, M.Ed.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech And Reading Help

General Links About Math:

Apraxia Kids Learning Activities and Support – Parent Led Group - This link is a bit different, it is a Pinterest board, but full of idea. I could have really used some of these ideas last year.

 

Linked up at:
a-wise-woman-builds-her-home

Aug 182014
 

 

Yesterday I not only shared our menu plan for this week, but I also admitted that my grocery spending is not in control.  As much as I want to save, I am feeling like I have gotten off course and need a hand to get back on.   I know what I want to do, but feel as though things are getting more disorganized all the time.

When we moved to Small Town several years ago, my normal shopping routines which I had learned while living in various Big Towns, just did not work.  At first I tried to keep doing what I had been, but soon life became busier and it became glaringly obvious it was not working.  I looked for ways to keep saving, and while I found them I did not fully implement the shopping strategies needed to use them wisely.

Currently I spend less than $25 per person per week, not counting eating out.  This may not sound like much, but I know it could be a lot lower with some better shopping strategies and forethought.  With George’s and Jack’s increasing appetites, I know our spending is only going to increase in the future.  Now is the time to regain control and put together a game plan.

Life has changed yet again and I often find myself in Big Town on the weekends.  With a bit of planning I could easily work a shopping trip into our activities.  It may not longer be the multiple store trips of old, but it would still save us money.

Grocery University

When Crystal at MoneySavingMom.com mentioned she was having a sale on Grocery University I knew this was a great opportunity for me to jump back on the wagon and start saving our family more money on our grocery bill.

So what is Grocery University?  From their website:

“This original, in-depth course goes deeper than anything you’ve ever seen before and will have you stretching your grocery budget farther than you ever thought possible! I’ve taken years of experience teaching live seminars and developed a comprehensive strategy that’s proven to reduce your grocery budget.

And there’s no reading required! If you’ve been wanting to learn about saving money on your groceries but haven’t had time to sit down and read all the websites you’ve had bookmarked for months, this is the course for you – just download the MP3s and listen anywhere! You’ll learn everything you need to know by listening to the series.”

Tuesday ONLY, Money Saving Mom is celebrating the relaunch of Grocery University with a fabulous sale.

5 a.m. CT – we’ll kick things off with the low, low price of $2.97

8 a.m. CT – price goes up to $3.97

11 a.m. CT – price goes up to $4.97

2 p.m. CT – price goes up to $5.97

5 p.m. – price goes up to $6.97

8 p.m. – price goes up to $7.97

11 p.m. – price goes up to $8.97

To get in on this deal, head over to GroceryUniversity.com for this crazy Re-Launch Day Special Pricing!

 

If you are not sure about spending the money for something like then, then perhaps this will ease your mind.  There is a 60-day money back guarantee.  From their website:

“Our 60-Day Money Back Guarantee

No Risk Guarantee

I’m so confident that the Grocery University seminar will teach anyone how to drastically reduce their spending that we have a 60 Day Money Back Guarantee if you’re not completely thrilled with the money you’re saving. Just contact us within 60 days of purchase if you’re not satisfied and we’ll refund 100% of your money, no questions asked.”

 

Over the years I have learned so much from Crystal and been encouraged to keep growing and trying new things.  I am excited to check out Grocery University and learn new and different things.  Though I have been couponing and trying to cost-consciously shop for over 10 years I know there is always room to learn and grow.  How about you?  Ready to save more on your grocery bills?

 

This post does contain affiliate links.  Grocery University is something I think can benefit everyone and would tell you about it even if I did not make a little bit from you clicking one of the links above and purchasing the package.