Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thrifty Thursday: Shopping Sales to Stock up

I had yet another conversation with my mom about getting medicine for my dad and her because they were out again.  I have told her that I usually buy his aspirin when it is on sale and it is double coupons so that I only pay $0.99 for one month supply at the most.  My mom's medicine is from CVS and goes on sale less often but she doesn't by enough to last to the next sale.  My mom asked me to get some and I laughed.  I did give my mom a bunch of coupons to get the aspirin that she needed though.  I don't shop like that I have tried to explain that to her for years!! 

What do I mean by that?  Normally people go to the store and get the items that they want.  Sometimes every week or sometimes not until they are out of items.

How do I shop? I go to the store when there is a sale and there is a coupon to get items at the rock bottom lowest prices.  I fill my pantry, fridge and freezer as well as under the bed boxes so that when I need the items, I pull them out.  Even if you don't use coupons, there is an easy way to save money by stocking up at the low price.  If spaghetti sauce or pasta is on sale for $1 then get how much will last you to the next sale.  If there are other items you use, get them at the lowest price and set them aside for when you need them.

What did I do? I went to the store to get my mom's medicine and there was a 30% coupon and $2 off any allergy medicine so I got the 60 count for $8.65 each for four bottles.  I also got two reusable bags free with purchase!!  Then I went to another store and got three more at $9.65 because I didn't have any more of the $2 off coupons but I did get another free bag.  Instead of the shelf price of the 30 count which is almost $11, I got twice the amount for less money.  Now she has 14 months of medicine for much less money!!

It got me thinking!  After going through the cupboards, I realized that this is what has been helping my budget for this year.  I bought so much flour when they were on sale during the winter months around the holidays that it is going to last me through most of the year until it is time to get those sales again. I bought them at $0.99 per bag instead of the normal $3-4 per bag.  I bought bread flour for under $2 per bag instead of $4-5.  I bought sugar when it was on sale and there was coupons so they were as low as $0.25 for a 4 lb bag instead of $4.  Each time I pull out one of those to refill my container, I know that I have saved at least $2 on each. 

The even better deal is when I get to pull something out that I got for free.  I have a stockpile of Mahatma Saffron rice, House Autry Corn Bread Mix, House Autry Biscuit Mix, Spaghetti sauce, and Pasta in the pantry.  I have a freezer full of free corn, green beans, cheese ravioli and chicken nuggets.  I have a few things left in the fridge that I got for free like coffee creamer, yogurt and some shelf stable milk.  Whenever I get to pull those things out and use them, there is no cost out of my pocket and I can add to the meal.  It always helps to make a meal that uses a few free items to make it much cheaper on the budget.

Have you ever shopped sales to get a few extra of the items that your family always has in the pantry?  The more you get at rock bottom prices, the more you save from your budget!!  Try it and hope you save lots!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kids Wednesday: Getting Ready for School Books

My son is starting Kindergarten this year and I know that he loves school and will enjoy it once he gets there.  He loves learning and socializing with kids and adults a like but we are going to a new school this year.  Because of this, we have been reading a lot of get ready for school books.  We even have a few of them for our own collection which will be helpful to pull out each year.  I hope that you pick up a few good ones for you to enjoy!

by B. Wiseman

Corduroy Goes to School
by Don Freeman 

Clifford's First School day
by Norman Bridwell

Biscuit Goes to School
by Alyssa

Curious George's First Day of School
by Margaret and HA Rey

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes
by James Dean

Llama llama Misses Mama
by Anna Dewdney

by Kevin Henkes

The Kissing Hand
by Audrey Penn

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
by Mo Willems 

Not that this has anything to do with going to school but it is amusing about getting on a bus!

No matter who your child's favorite character is, there are tons of books about going to school.  I hope that your kids are ready for going to school!!! 

Stay tuned for the list of starting Kindergarten books next week!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Sacrifice Book Review

The Sacrifice (Abram's Daughters #3) by Beverly Lewis was the third book in the series that I picked up as soon as I finished the second book.  So quickly that I didn't write the review for the last one because we were away on vacation so I wanted to make sure that I got this review posted before going on to the next book which I really wanted to pick up.  I had four books in my pile that I had read and not reviewed!!  Getting worse after vacation with me being behind in my blogging work.  I am trying to work on catching you up on all of the great books that I have read this month.

In this book, there is a lot of pain for the Ebersol family.  Leah is working on fitting happily into her life and enjoy her role working in the house and helping her mother.  This is a big switch from her life before working outside with her father doing the manual labor but with the loss of her sister to the Bann, she has to chip in where she is needed.  She is enjoying the closeness to her mother and her baby sister, Lydiann.  Her sisters, Hannah and Mary Ruth are working through lots of their own problems at the same time.  The family is falling apart in the process dealing with all of the bad news.  It is a tough story to read but with every passing page, I wanted to find out how things were going to get resolved.  I hope that you pick up this book and see how everything turns out for the Ebersol family and it may surprise you.

I had trouble putting this book down just like I did the last two.  It is a great series and I had two pages to read before dinner so I asked if they would wait for me to finish.  Another great book and another great series but Beverly Lewis.  I am super glad that I have the fourth book to read right after finishing this one.  I hope that you enjoy it after reading the other two in the series.  Make sure you pick it up at your local library or bookstore when you get the first two in the series so that you can read through the whole series together.  Trust me that you won't want to stop when you start!!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 7/28

Monday- Chicken Paninis with mac and cheese
Tuesday- Chicken Nuggets with homemade fries
Wednesday- Grilled Chicken with herb rice
Thursday- Olive Oil Pasta with garlic bread (finally using some of my fresh basil)
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- Leftovers/Grilled Chicken Sausage, Brats, Chicken and Hamburgers
Sunday- Leftovers/???

I am again rooting around the freezer and the cupboards to figure out what I can make.  I came up with two meals that I wanted and they are both wintertime meals so I scratched those ideas because the oven on for an hour seems to be a waste of all the air conditioning :)  I am hoping for an easy week for the end of the month so I am looking for the meals that will be quick and easy so that we can enjoy the summer weather.

I hope that you have a great week planned too!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Still Life with Chickens Book Review

I had seen this book on Amazon and quickly added it to my list of books to read but some how I put my list aside and hadn't been reading it.  I finally got back to that list and got Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea by Catherine Goldhammer from the library.  I was excited when it came in because it seemed like a good summer read.  I was excited to find out what it was about since I didn't remember from all the way back when it was added to the list.

The author, Catherine Goldhammer, gives you an insight into her life and all the ups and downs while going through a divorce and starting a new life.  She finds a new house in a neighboring town in order to live within her new means as a single mother which means that she is moving her daughter out of the area where she has always lived (but only for 5 miles) but to a much more rural area.  The big change includes her daughter asking for chicken which her e-husband would never agree to before.  In order to keep her daughter happy, they were the owners of chickens and figuring out how to do it as they went along.  They learned lots about chickens and themselves through the process.  In order to find out what they learn, you need to pick up the book and check it out for yourself.

I enjoyed the homesteading story about how the suburban mom and daughter moved to a more country house adding chickens to their family.  The story was funny and heartwarming with all aspects of their lives which was centered around the chickens (and their move to the new house).  I got the book  because I would love to have chickens but it was much more after starting to read the book.  I hope that you check this book out of the library or bookstore near you and see what it is all about.  I had trouble putting it down and really enjoyed the story from start to finish.

Friday, July 25, 2014

When I Fall In Love Book Review

I got a book review book in the mail and I put it in my pile of books to read.  I didn't remember anything about why I picked it but the cover looked really fun.  When I Fall in Love (Christiansen Family) by Susan May Warren was the next book for me to read so I picked it up and found out that it was in a series of books and this wasn't the first one.  It jumped right into characters that I hadn't gotten a chance to know but I met them quickly and came to understand all of them and look forward to reading the beginning of the series of books with the Christensen family!!

Grace Christiansen's family surprises her with a cooking retreat in Hawaii, she is pulled away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.  Since she was hesitant to go, she wanted to make sure that she enjoyed this vacation to the fullest and she had the perfect companion in the seat next to her on the plane, Max Sharpe.  They became instant friends talking about where they were going and the trip they were going to have while in Hawaii.  Max Sharpe is a pro hockey player but he feels most at home in the kitchen. He lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace gets serious, Max pulls away and leaves Hawaii without a note.  Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. Both Max and Grace fight to choose between the easy and safe lives they have always known and what their hearts most want.  You have to read it and see how the ups and downs go and where they both land!

I enjoyed the book and was sad that I didn't start at the beginning of the series.  But the good news is that was two more books to add to my wish list to start reading next.  The characters and situations were very entertaining.  I knew that this was something that could be happening to anyone with the twists and turns and surprises around every bend so I totally related.  I loved the book and can't wait to pick up a few more in the series and I will keep my eyes out for the new ones that I coming out after this too!  I hope that you pick this up at your local library or bookstore and check it out for yourself.  If you would like to purchase a copy, you can do so here.  Enjoy this great summer read while meeting the family in this book series!!!

If you want to learn more about the author, Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors.

Find Susan online: website, My Book TherapyTwitter, Facebook

** Please note that I was given a copy of this book from the publishers for my honest review.  All opinions shared are my own.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Peasant Bread or Herb Focaccia

I was excited to find this recipe and see that I had all of the ingredients in the house.  I love the blog Yummy, Healthy, and Easy and I thought that this would be a great yummy, healthy and easy bread to make.  I had to make a yummy bread to take with me to a girls lunch so I thought that this recipe sounded perfect.  It could be used to make sandwiches. eat on it's own or dip in olive oil.  Make sure you check out her blog and recipe here.

 I am normally a bread machine girl because you put everything in and forget about it until it is done but this seemed easy enough and I thought that I would have enough time to do it.  The dough came together easily but it looked a little floury but I wasn't worried because I was sure that it would turn out well no matter what.  Things change when the dough sits for a little bit and this dough did as well!

I put a wet cloth over the bowl and let it sit.  It doubled in size and got big and spongey.  I split it into two loaves and put it on my cookie sheet.  It was really sticky and a little hard to handle which was funny because just a little bit ago it was too dry.  Good thing that I didn't add any additional liquid!!

I covered it with the same cloth and let it sit until with doubled in size again because it lost a lot of good air bubbles with the handling.

Then, I took the cloth off and saw that it was huge.  I don't know if I used a pan that was too small or let it sit a little too long but I cleaned up the stuff that went over the edge of the pan so that it was nice and neat again.  I separated the loaves just a little so that I would have two nicely cooked loaves.

I topped with two different seasonings.  One was my favorite which was garlic my family you can't go wrong with a little garlic salt on top with a little of some other spices.  The other was for my girls lunch so I used a mix of spices since I have one friend who is on a low salt diet.  I baked them and they came out looking great and smelling even better.

Check out this really cool looking top.  I was so excited to try it and so was my husband.  He was worried that I was taking everything with me and he wouldn't get any.  I told him that I needed him to taste test (his favorite job) and we ate most of the one loaf before I even left the house.

I used a dry cloth and packed up my hot loaf of spice topped bread in a basket.  Doesn't it look pretty!

Check out the fluffy inside with the big pockets of air in the bread.  It was so light and fluffy that I am amazed that it didn't get bigger then the loaf actually became after it rose.

We enjoyed some bread plain but it was great dipped in olive oil with spices. I can't wait to make this again and enjoy the bread hot out of the oven.  I have a feeling that we are going to do it a lot more in the winter months but it is easy to do in the summer as long as you are going to heat the oven to make something else too :)  I hope that you try it out and see how tasty this homemade bread is.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did!!

Peasant Bread or Herb Focaccia

  • 2 1/4 tsp or 1 package dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 egg white OR melted butter for topping
  • garlic salt or other seasonings (basil, oregano, ect)
  1. Mix yeast and warm water and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. After 10 minutes, pour the yeast and water mixture in a mixing bowl with the sugar, salt and flour. Do not mix too long. Do not knead. Let rise until doubled.
  3. After rising, split into 2 rounds and place on greased cookie sheet. Let rise again until doubled. Preheat oven to 425º F.
  4. Brush tops of bread rounds with egg white or melted butter and then sprinkle with garlic salt or other seasonings.
  5. Bake at 425º F for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 375º F and cook additional 15 minutes or until golden brown.