Dec 172017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

You have fewer than 10 days till Christmas – are you still looking for a gift to get a kid on your list who seems to have everything? Or maybe they live further away and gifts would have to be mailed. These are hard positions to be in.

Have you thought of gifting an experience rather than a thing?

Kids Cook Real Food makes an awesome Christmas gift, and many grandmas are doing it already!! (They have printable gift certificates for them btw.)

Sunday, December 17 through Tuesday, December 19, Kids Cook Real Food is having a flash sale.  To make it even better – new members get a free $20 value set of extra videos!

Problem solved! Now, go. Finish up that list and enjoy some yummy holiday cookies.

Nov 232017
 

This post contains affiliate links.
Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Plan to Eat’s 2017 Black Friday Weekend sale will start on November 24th and run through November 27th.

To help make this offer available to everyone, Plan To Eat has extended all trials and yearly subscriptions that were scheduled to expire after the 15th of November so that you can take advantage of this sale without interruption to your account.

 

This also makes a great gift.  If you are looking for a clutter free gift, a gift for someone who lives in a different location than you, or for someone who seems to have everything, this is perfect.  You can also purchase a subscription now and give it to them later.

After years of meal planning 3 meals a day 7 days a week on my own, taking hours each month to put together meal plans and searching for recipes, I took the plunge and tried a free trial.  The ease of putting menus together, adjusting the meal plan as life happened, and the convenience of being able to adjust meals with a click quickly made me a convert.  Plan To Eat was everything I had been trying to do on my own, but always falling short of accomplishing.

Get 50% OFF your yearly subscription to Plan to Eat during this annual sale — even if you already have a subscription! That’s only $19.50 (or $1.60 a month) for a full year of organization, peace of mind, and healthy eating.

 

 

To learn more about this great offer click here.

Nov 122017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

Thinking back to my childhood, I have vivid memories of Sunday lunches at Grandma’s house.  Cousins were there to play with when we were done eating, trees to climb, leaves to jump in, and games of ball to play in the field.  But the most welcoming memory was of the initial opening of the door – warm, delicious smells met you in the coziness of their downstairs.  Yes, there may have been too many people to fit around the table, but that did not matter. Everyone was there and good food was to be had. Not fancy, mind you, but food which was familiar and tasted of home. (We may have even had basically the same meal every week, though my memory does not contain that information.)

Even the cups used had their own smell.  They were nothing fancy either, plastic Tupperware cups which have lasted decades, survived use by many grandchildren and great grandchildren and great great grandchildren, and still look new.  Yet, the smell when you poured soda on top of the ice was something I associate with my grandparents’ house. No other drinking vessel has replicated that smell, it is unique to those cups.

Nourished, a memoir of food, faith & enduring love by Lia Huber follows a similar path – memories of the author’s the past associated with the foods which nourished her, both in body and in spirit.  Through her journey as a young college student, to making major life choices, facing a health crisis, searching for her place in this world, and now to the present, Lia Huber takes her readers on a path of finding her faith and understanding how food can be more than bland, thoughtless item put in front of you three times a day.

…food went from something I didn’t think about to becoming a pivotal part of my life. It was what brought me joy.  It was how I healed my body when doctors couldn’t.  It was how I related to people and gained deeper insight into my life’s purpose and the way I serve the world.

Nourished is not a recipe book, though the end of each chapter contains the recipe for a dish mentioned.  It really is more of a memoir of Lia Huber‘s life and how food and relationships influenced how she came to understand her place in this world.  The recipes shared contain fairly common ingredients which makes them very easy to replicate.  There were several I marked to try.

I was a bit surprised when the author began to talk about her faith in such a bold way.  It was not necessarily inappropriate for the story, but an aspect I was not suspecting.  At times it began to feel like it touched on some new age-ish ideals, though most of what Lia mentions is fairly mainstream Christianity.

Nourished really is a well-written story.  My attention was held from the first chapter and never waned throughout the rest of the book.  If you are looking for a well-flowing book some weekend, I would highly recommend Nourished by Lia Huber.  Who knows, you may find yourself in the kitchen recreating a recipe from your past or finding a new one to help nourish your soul.

 

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

Dec 052016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

kids-garden-containers

When I was younger, think college, my plan was to work for a few years to gain experience.  After a few years, I would move back to the rural county I grew up in.  I grew up in the same county as 99% of my family.  My friends were from the same county as 99% of their family.  We used to joke that no one left the county; we all were born there and would live there till we died.  Yet, I did not mind that fact.  I liked knowing the history of the area, who used to farm where, the valley where my great great grandparents raised their family (their two room house was still there, along with the newspaper insulation and back porch kitchen), and the fact that the lakes now used for fishing and swimming were CCC projects during the Great Depression.

Yeah, it did not happen that way.  Something I had not planned on took place and changed all my plans.  I met a guy who brought me flowers and walked me home from my late night job, even when it was cold and snowing. A few months later he asked me to marry him.  And so the tour of growing zones began.

Contrary to my previously self-decided plans of living and working in the county where I grew up, we proceeded to live in 4 states over the first 6 years of our marriage.  We are now married over a decade and living in state #5.  Yup, very much not what was in my plan.

While moving has not gotten any easier or more fun, I have learned that each move brings about things I never would have considered.  Whether it is finding different ways to save money, becoming foster parents, starting this blog, working for one of the largest cities in the country, having a road side stand, or utilizing some of my minor talents to find work, I have been able to experience new opportunities and grow personally.  Several of the opportunities were things I would never dreamed of having tried had I stayed in the county where I grew up; the box I had put myself into was too comfortable.

Now that we have moved again.  I find myself asking what does this mean for various aspects of our lives?

For the blog

Not as many pictures of snow, for starters.  With a reduction in items vying for my attention, I hope to get to some of those posts that have been flying through my head.  I also want to focus on improving my writing and following through with what I start.

For my garden

It means that my gardening this upcoming year may be mainly in pots, or in places where it can double as landscape, or that we may find a house to buy and have a traditional garden.  Or we may find a house to buy and it comes with fruit trees and raised beds. (Yes, I did see one for sale as such and was instantly attracted to it … I do not remember much about the house itself. Imagine that.)

I am very thankful to my friend who offered to share blackberry starts with me once we get settled into a more permanent place than the rental house.  It is a good thing I shared my blackberry starts with her a few years ago.  I am also thankful for the time I invested learning about improving soils for my beds, both vegetable and flower.  Looking at the soils in our new area, it will come in very handy.

Our School Week collage

For the kids’ schooling

George will be starting a new school tomorrow.  The class sizes are smaller while the over all population of his elementary school is larger.  There is also a speech therapist who has been there for longer than a year, which is a great detail for a kid who has a motor speech disorder.  While I have my hesitations about starting over with a new school, I also have higher hopes for his progress here.

Jack will still be home schooled.  Different state, different laws, though thankfully I was able to find something that matched our beliefs and needs.  At first I bucked and groaned, overall throwing a HUGE internal tantrum. Then I sat down at the computer, after a few days… okay weeks, and did my research.  Now, I too have higher hopes for his progress here.

With me being able to give him more of my attention, we will not be taking December off as I had planned at the beginning of the school year.  Instead, we will slowly buckle down more and make up for lost time.  Why slowly?  Because it will be a change in routines and I would rather it be a pleasant experience rather than something that takes us another 5 months to recover from.

While we have been covering the basics of reading, arithmetic, and touching on other subjects here and there, we have not really been able to focus on them to the extent I have been wanting.  You know what, though?  I have noticed him still learning things we have not gotten to, making connections without me making any effort to lead him that direction, and his curiosity leading him to inquire and learn subjects which I thought he would buck at.

He has also improved upon how to appropriately entertain himself while bored.  If you do not think that skill is important, I encourage you to start paying attention to your day.  What do you do while:

  • sitting in traffic
  • waiting for someone to get to the car so you can leave
  • falling asleep at night
  • waiting for supper to cook or the waitress to bring your food
  • watching Kindergarten t-ball games
  • waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store
  • during that (sorry ministers) boring part of the sermon at church

These are things many of us naturally have learned to tolerate, finding something to keep our minds and/or hands busy.  These are things Jack greatly struggles with enduring. I have had to contentiously point out to him that these activities bore me also, and then share what I do to entertain myself.

There are also more outside the home activity options to take advantage of.  “Making friends” is still  the biggest reason he misses public school.  Apparently hanging with your mamma all day is not nearly as fun. 😉2 snowy seats and table

For other homemaking activities

For starters, we live closer than 30 minutes from more than one grocery store.  While I am going to miss one store in particular from our last home, it was actually in the country but was a source of huge savings, I am not going to miss sub-par produce from Small Town grocery.

Not only will be be closer to multiple grocery stores, the stores around here double coupons. :gasp:  It has been almost a decade since I lived near such stores.  While in Small Town, the closest store that doubled was 40 minutes away.  Not exactly a cost saving trip; it was often cheaper to stay in Small Town and shop the grocer there.

These past few months have shown me that the largest cost savings in the grocery category has been not shopping.  My husband and I both began making simpler meals and found we actually enjoyed it.  I hope to continue this activity to the reduction of our grocery shopping category.

Speaking of meals, my husband also works further from our house.  This means he will no longer be able to come home for lunches.  Jack suggests we find a home which would “make it possible for Daddy to come home for lunches again.”  We never took for granted the fact that living in Small Town and me not working outside the home meant we were close enough for my husband to have this benefit.  However, Jack does not remember it being any other way, and therefore did not know it was not ‘normal’.

With our current home being a rental house, I will not be focusing on decorating or painting or landscaping or any of those other activities that seems to have taken up a lot of my time these past few months years.  I will continue to use up, get rid of, or otherwise re-home items that we no longer need or love.

In addition to making our bed every morning, there are other habits which I plan to continue and hopefully build upon.  Keeping our kitchen counter clear of clutter has been something we have done well at these past few years.  In preparation of putting our home on the market, I took it a step further and cleared it as much as possible of other items.  Clean dishes were put away, only one spoon rest was left out, and the window sill was cleared of everything except one small plant.  The fruit bowl was left out, but the other small appliances and utensils were put away.

cleared off kitchen counters

When I first arrived at our rental house, my initial goal was to carry over the same counter clearing action for this kitchen.  This has been harder to do than I thought.  As soon as it gets cleared off, I find myself unpacking another box, doing a grocery shopping trip, or coming back from a long trip to visit family over Thanksgiving.  While I get items put away, new items without homes yet always seem to find their way onto the counter.

If I put off picking up the kitchen till after the kids are asleep, I find myself also falling asleep or with no energy to tackle this task.  The solution?  Try to stay home more. Too obvious?  Maybe, but it really does work.

We are back to cooking on an electric stove and non-convection oven.  I had to explain to the kids the differences with an electric stove, namely that the coils stay hot after they are turned off.

Cooking has also had a difference timing.  It takes things longer to boil, yet it keeps cooking once the heat is turned off.  I have not tried baking yet, as we still have muffins in the freezer.

purple flowers

While I can not ignore how things are different, it is up to me how I react to them.  There are a lot of changes, a lot of things I could dwell on as not being as good as it used to be.  Changes can be hard to adjust to.  It is easy to put on a pedestal the way things were.  However, taking this path only leads to discontentment, regret, and feeling depressed.

Choosing to keep how things were in the correct perspective, looking for the good in what is now around us, and finding ways to reach out to others rather than retreat into my shell will take me down a completely different path.  Just as I slowly found beauty in the flat corn fields surrounding us in Zone 5, I will eventually find some beauty here in Zone 7.  I may not like all the changes life is presenting to us right now, but I may grow to love them once I get over how they are not the same as they used to be.

Unit I reach that point, I will continue to challenge negative thoughts with lists of the good things I see happening.

Oct 202016
 


Good news for wine lovers! You can get paid to build up your collection through this special offer from Winc and Swagbucks. Winc is a great site that matches wines to your palate. Don’t like a bottle they send you? No problem – they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. You can get new wines delivered to your door every month, or skip a month if you feel like it. Plus, if you order 4 or more bottles, shipping is free!
On top of all that, Swagbucks wants to give you up to $40 for checking them out (paid out in the form of SB points)! Sign-up & earn 2,000 SB on your first order. Stay subscribed for a second wine shipment & earn an additional 2,000 SB. Please click here for complete details and to get started!

We have used wine subscription services in the past and have been pleased overall with the benefits.  Being able to skip months turned out to be a great aspect for us, as we are not regular wine drinkers; I use it to cook with almost as much to drink.

Having a subscription did save us the time of going to a store and searching the shelves for something we might want to try.  By having them sent to our home, we could store them in the basement for when they were needed.  This was also a great way to find new wines that we otherwise would have walked passed without trying.

Having a wine subscription did mean we paid more per bottle than we otherwise would have; yes, I tend to be frugal with our wine purchases as well.  After almost a year on our last subscription, we realized we were not drinking or cooking with the wine fast enough to keep up with the subscription.  It was becoming more of a hassle for us.  We are now down to our last two bottles and I am starting to wonder if we should begin again, after all stew season is upon us, or if I should find another solution.

Over all, we were happy to have tried a wine service subscription, to be exposed to new flavors we otherwise might not have tried, and to save time on the shopping during a period where time was very limited.
If you haven’t tried Swagbucks yet, this is a great time to start! Signing up through me and then completing the first half of this offer and getting the 2000 SB entitles you to a bonus 300 SB. If you complete a survey through Swagbucks before November 1st, that’s another 100 SB bonus. That means you can get a total of $44 worth of SB for trying out Winc, then turn those SB into gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, and Target, or get PayPal cash!

This post contains affiliate links.

Mar 252016
 

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through a link and purchase a product this blog will receive a small portion at no added cost to you.  Thank you for your support.


Don’t forget, Craftsy is having a sale for their Online DIY Classes, 3/25-3/28.  This is a great time to take a step in learning something new or improving in an area you are already learning.  With 1,000+ classes there is a wide selection available.

With the Craftsy guarantee you know you will be able to watch the lessons any time and from anywhere, and your access never expires.  There is also a 100% money back guarantee in case you are not satisfied with the product.

Whether you are looking for classes, tutorials, fabric, yarn, paint, art, drawing, painting, baking, cooking, cake decorating, scrapbooking, stamping, sewing, photography, knitting, quilting, woodworking, gardening, or home decor, Craftsy.com is the one stop place for all your DIY classes.

Mar 202016
 

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through a link and purchase a product this blog will receive a small portion at no added cost to you.  Thank you for your support.


If you missed the DIY Class Bundle Sale two weeks ago, you are in luck.  Craftsy is having a sale for their Online DIY Classes, 3/25-3/28

Learn from instructors in 1,000+ classes.  With the Craftsy guarantee you know you will be able to watch the lessons any time and from anywhere, and your access never expires.  There is also a 100% money back guarantee in case you are not satisfied with the product.

Whether you are looking for classes, tutorials, fabric, yarn, paint, art, drawing, painting, baking, cooking, cake decorating, scrapbooking, stamping, sewing, photography, knitting, quilting, woodworking, gardening, or home decor, Craftsy.com is the one stop place for all your DIY classes.

Mar 172016
 


3/17-3/20 craft supplies will be on sale at Craftsy.  No getting dressed or wasting time driving in the car.  Go online and do all your craft shopping while you are thinking about it.

Craftsy carries a wide variety of craft supplies for almost every sort of craft you may be looking to accomplish:

  • fabric
  • yarn
  • art
  • drawing
  • painting
  • baking
  • cooking
  • cake decorating
  • scrapbooking
  • stamping
  • sewing
  • photography
  • knitting
  • quilting
  • woodworking
  • gardening
  • home decor
  • gifts
  • and more.

 

Craftsy

Mar 122016
 


Did you register for one of Craftsy’s class bundles currently on sale and now need supplies?  Or perhaps you are planning something to celebrate the start of spring but find you are needing some more items.  3/17-3/20 craft supplies will be on sale at Craftsy.

Craftsy carries a wide variety of craft supplies for almost every sort of craft you may be looking to accomplish:

  • fabric
  • yarn
  • art
  • drawing
  • painting
  • baking
  • cooking
  • cake decorating
  • scrapbooking
  • stamping
  • sewing
  • photography
  • knitting
  • quilting
  • woodworking
  • gardening
  • home decor
  • gifts
  • and more.

 

Craftsy

Feb 222016
 

This post contains some links that are affiliate links.  If you click through and decide to purchase something I will receive a small portion, at not extra charge to you.  I hope you find these links helpful to your day.Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

The Chocolate Mousse in the picture collage above sounds so very good right now.  I think it has a lot more to do with my scratchy throat than my desire for chocolate.  This also started with George, proceeded on to Jack, who thinks sucking his fingers is fully acceptable.  It was no surprise then when my husband came down with the cold.  He also seems to catch every cold going around, and never just slightly.  I, however, seem to rarely get sick and thought I had made it through this without catching it.  At least I know I will get over it in a few days.  My poor husband has already been dealing with it for 4 days and has a few more before he is out of the woods.

These past few weeks have held grocery trips were I have not needed to buy a lot of the ingredients for our meals.  This has allowed me to buy specialty items or restock on items we  have gone through.

Ibotta sent me $34.75 in rebates.  This is for previously purchased groceries, things I would have been purchasing anyway.  If you have never used this program, I recommend it.  It is easy to use and there is a variety of products offered.  Often they have rebates for produce that I can not find elsewhere.  If you sign-up by clicking this link, you can earn a $10 bonus after submitting your first rebate.

I also redeemed my points earned at Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card.  My thought is to use this gift card in conjunction with Amazon Pantry. The idea of having some of my weekly shopping list delivered directly to my door is awesome.  I am trying to reduce the amount of time I spend in the stores.  Not only do I notice how sluggish I become while in stores, and the fact that I get a headache, but my kids also do not like to go shopping.  They sure do like to eat though, so I have not completely given up on this activity.

We already use Amazon to purchase various items, usually in bulk. Have you used Amazon’s Prime Pantry before?  What were your thoughts?

Breakfast:

  1. Eggs with peppers and onions, hash browns and tea
  2. Cereal
  3. Cereal
  4. Muffins
  5. Shakes
  6. Oatmeal
  7. Crepes, bacon, fruit

Lunch:

  1. Eat out
  2. OYO
  3. Pizza
  4. Meatloaf
  5. Kheema, rice
  6. Chili, corn bread muffins
  7. Sandwiches, chips, fruit

Supper:

  1. Marinated meat, apple slices, peas
  2. Tomato soup/hot dogs, chips, fruit
  3. Black Bean Burgers, fried potatoes
  4. Tomato soup/leftovers
  5. Buttermilk pancakes, fruit syrup, fruit
  6. Falafel, flat bread, side salad
  7. Eat out

Linked up at This Week for Dinner and OrgJunkie.