Monday, December 31, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 12/31

Monday- leftovers/Chinese
Tuesday- leftvers/Grilled Buffalo Chicken Wraps
Wednesday-Sausage Penne Pasta with garlic bread
Thursday- Whole Chicken
Friday- Homemade Pizza
Saturday- leftovers/Chicken Paninis
Sunday- leftovers/Steak and Baked Potatoes

Happy New Year's Eve!  Can you believe how quickly this month flew by and the year!!  I did get the freezer cleaned out on Christmas night.  It was nice to get it all done and everything put back in its place.  I have a better idea of what is in the fridge and I am trying to work to use up what we have before getting new stuff but I am not sure that is going to happen because both my husband and I want to have tacos but we don't have any ground beef.  I am going to add it to the list of things that I really want to get soon!!  The good news is that there is now room since the shelves aren't piled with ice.  Let's hope that it is a great way to start the new year with the freezer to set the tone for the meal planning :)  Hope that you have a great new year too!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Cupcakes

Check out this box of Christmas cupcakes from Georgetown Bakery that we got for a Christmas gift.  They were super yummy and I really liked to try them all!!!  My favorites were the carmel and the white chocolate peppermint.

Have you tried them before???  Worth trying but painful to have a dozen because they just call to you until you finish them all!!!  Luckily, I just finished the second dozen!!!  Yup, we got a second dozen of red velvet cupcakes.

Weekly Goals 12/30

It was a super busy week last week and I am looking forward to a slower week next week where we get some things put back together in the house.  I did get the ornaments off the tree and we brought in two of the outside decorations before the weather got too bad here (we are getting a snowy ice yuck).  I am going to cross my fingers because we might be having super doubles starting on Wednesday so I will be a little busy.  Going to spend tonight cutting the coupons from my friends to make sure that I am caught up :)  I hope that you had a great week too.

Last Week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with my family- Lots of quality family time stuck in the house through the holidays and a great Christmas eve dinner to meet some new friends and see ones that we haven't seen in a long time.
  • Open House Christmas Party- We all went to a Christmas party at my friends house (including the grandparents) and it went pretty well being that my little man was the only one there.  We got there early and left when other guests started to arrive. 
  • Puppet Show at the library- We had a great time going to the library with Daddy who doesn't normally get to go and sit on the hard ground and watch fun plays.  It was really great and a good distraction from being stuck in the house during the holidays.
  • Movies at the library- We went and saw Ping the Duck and Make Way for Ducklings.  I thought there was going to be a third one but we got out a little early.  We read 5 books in the library and little man got to pick a special prize from the treasure chest.  He is now a proud member of the polar bear club :)
Personal Goals
  • Get coupons at library on Friday (finally)- I was at the library on Friday so I checked on Saturday just in case at a different library and they didn't have the papers but there was a sign that they weren't doing papers this week because of the holiday.  I am not sure what that means for the coupons.  Crossing my fingers that means that some of them are going to be in next weeks :)
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy- I don't think that I did a great job of shutting off the computer because there wasn't a regular schedule of using the computer and getting to sleep during the holiday but we are back on track to getting it done next week. 
  • Read How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will, Too! by Sal Severe- Did some more reading and made some progress but I hope to finish next week since the book is due on January 5th.
  • Start Bethany House Publishing book I received in the mail Breath of Dawn, The by Kristen Heitzmann- Started and finished and review posted.  I have to post to Amazon and send the review through the website process to Bethany House.
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week- We cleaned as often as we cleared off the counters which seemed to be a continually process with more people in the house.  Every time we turned around, we were doing dishes, running the dishwasher, and cleaning things off the floor.  I don't know how people keep up after big families but two more people in the house made the mess crazy to keep up with.
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- My husband and I did dishes all the time and tried to make the sink clear but it seemed as soon as you turned around, there were more dishes in there.  I guess that is part of the reason that we were running the dishwasher twice a day too.
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday- I got something up every day.
  • Schedule at least 7 posts so that can spend more time with family- I had almost everything scheduled ahead of time just in case I couldn't get on the computer with all of the activities.
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)- Books done and reviews posted
  • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week- This has been a little bit of an issue because I still haven't had a lot of time to sit down to do anything yet.  I am hoping to get some done next week and get a little ahead but I doubt that I will be too far ahead :) 
  • Post Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, and Thrifty Thursday Tip- Done
This Week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with my family
  • Back to preschool
  • New Years Eve dinner at the house 
Personal Goals
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday
  • Schedule at least 7 posts so that can spend more time with family
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)
  • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week
  • Post Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, and Thrifty Thursday Tip

    Saturday, December 29, 2012

    Books I Plan to Read in 2013

    I moved all my books around on my shelf to figure out what I own that I still hadn't read and what was still on my list to read.  I found that there were 19 books left on my shelf listed below.  The second is a list of the Robert Parker novels that I want to read in order so I will start reserving at the library to complete 19 books on the list in my notebook.  It seems like fate that I have 19 books on both list (until I got ahead of myself and read one in December) so I am going to say that this is a complete list plus the books from the library that I find about motherhood, kids, cooking, and living a frugal life.  I added the list of books that I already reserved to start reading soon!!

    Below is a list of all of the books that I want to read during 2013 and I will update at the end of each month based on which ones I complete (plus whatever gets added from the library).  Any suggestions are welcome and I look forward to hearing what you are reading too!!!

    End of the year update:  I crossed through all the books that I read this year and the books that aren't crossed through are still sitting on my shelf unread.  I did a little bit too much library reading and not nearly enough reading for the books that I already owned.  I tried to stop it during the year but I just started reading more and more from the library and I couldn't stop myself.   How did you do this year??? Make sure you set a goal for next year and keep track of how many books you read!!  Can't wait to hear :)

    Deep In The Valley by Robyn Carr  (oops, I got a little ahead and read it in December)
    ShopGirl by Steve Martin- January
    Getting Over It by Anna Maxted- January
    Sullivan's Island by Dorothea Benton Frank- June
    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
    Ya-Yas in Bloom by Rebecca Wells
    Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
    Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
    Little Bee by Chris Cleave
    In The Woods by Tina French
    Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
    The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards
    The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    Wicked by Gregory Maguire
    Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger
    Light On Snow by Anita Shreve
    The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith
    Bourne Supremacy by Robert Ludlum
    The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

    Robert B. Parker novels

    Spenser series

    Paper Doll- January
    Walking Shadow- January
    Thin Air- January
    Chance- January
    Small Vices- February
    Sudden Mischief- January
    Hush Money- March
    Hugger Mugger (own)- March
    Pot Shot- March
    Widow's Walk- March
    Back Story- April
    Bad Business- April
    Cold Service (own)- May
    School Days- May
    Hundred Dollar Baby- May
    Now and Then (own)- June
    Rough Weather- June
    The Professional- June
    Painted Ladies- June

    Sunny Randal series

    Family Honor (own) February
    Perish Twice (own) February
    Shrink Rap  February
    Melancholy Baby February
    Blue Screen- February
    Spare Change- February

    Robyn Carr

    Virgin River series

    Virgin River (Virgin River, Book 1)- February
    Shelter Mountain- March
    Whispering Rock-
    A Virgin River Christmas- March
    Second Chance Pass- March
    Temptation Ridge- March
    Paradise Valley- March
    THAT HOLIDAY FEELING "Under the Christmas Tree" (novella)- March
    Forbidden Falls- March
    Angel's Peak- March
    Moonlight Road- March
    "Midnight Confessions" (novella)- April
    Promise Canyon- April
    Wild Man Creek- April
    Harvest Moon- April
    Bring Me Home for Christmas- April
    Hidden Summit- April
    Redwood Bend- April
    Sunrise Point- April
    My Kind of Christmas- April

    Thunder Point

    The Wanderer- August
    The Newcomer- October
    The Hero- November

    Other books

    The House on Olive StreetSeptember
    Informed Risk- August
    A Hero for Sophie Jones by Christine Rimmer- August

    Debbie Macomber

    Blossom Street series

    Hannah's List (own)- January
    The Shop on Blossom Street
    - February

    A Good Yarn- March
    Susannah's Garden- May
    Christmas Letters- May
    Back on Blossom Street- May
    Twenty Wishes- May
    Summer on Blossom Street- June
    A Turn in the Road- June
    Starting Now- June

    Cedar Cove

    16 Lighthouse Road- May
    204 Rosewood LaneAugust
    311 Pelican Court- August

    44 Cranberry Point- September

    50 Harbor Street- September

    6 Rainier Drive- September

    74 Seaside Avenue- September

    8 Sandpiper Way- September
    A Cedar Cove Christmas- September
    Christmas in Cedar Cove- September

    92 Pacific Boulevard- October

    1022 Evergreen Place- October

    1105 Yakima Street- November

    1225 Christmas Tree Lane: 1225 Christmas Tree Lane\Let It Snow- November

    Beverly Lewis 

    Annie's People

    The Preacher's Daughter- September
    The Englisher- September
    The Brethren- September

    Heritage of Lancaster County

    The Shunning April
    The Confession- September
    The Reckoning- October

    The Courtship of Nellie Fisher

    The Parting- November
    The  Forbidden- December
    The Longing December

    Standalone Novels

    October Song- November

    Cindy Woodsmall

    Amish Vines and Orchards Series
    A Season of TendingSeptember
    The Winnowing Season- September
    For Every Season- October 

    Other Books From the Library

    The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila- January
    How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will, Too! by Sal Severe- January
    Common Sense Storage: Clever Solutions for an Organized Life
    by Editors of CPi
    Playful Learning- January
    The MoneySmart Family System: Teaching Financial Independence to Children of Every Age by Steve Economides and Annette Economides- January

    Rush of Wings, A: A Novel by Kristen Heitzmann- February
    The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel (9) by Alexander McCall Smith- February

    The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom- March
    The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking: Decorating, Dining, and the Gratifying Pleasures of Self-Sufficienc​y--on a Budget! by Kate Payne- March
    The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier by Ree Drummond- March
    Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It: And Other Kitchen Projects by Karen Solomon- March

    The Zero-Waste Lifestyle: Live Well by Throwing Away Less by Amy Korst- April
    Garage Sale Gal's Guide to Making Money Off Your Stuff, The by Lynda Hammond- April
    The 8 Minute Organizer: Easy Solutions to Simplify Your Life in Your Spare Time by Regina Leeds- April
    The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook by Editors at Cook's Country- April
    All In Good Time: When to Save, Stock Up, and Schedule Everything for Your Home by Tara Kuczykowski April

    Gone South: A Novel by Meg Moseley April

    Though My Heart Is Torn: The Cadence of Grace, Book 2 by Joanne Bischof- May
    Wishing on Willows: A Novel by Katie Ganshert- May
    Playful Learning Develop Your Child's Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl- May
    The America's Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook by Editors at America's Test Kitchen- June
    Unusual Uses for Olive Oil: A Professor Dr von Igelfeld Entertainment Novel (4) by Alexander McCall Smith- June
    Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life by Gail Blanke- June

    What Your Preschooler Needs to Know: Get Ready for Kindergarten (Core Knowledge Series) by E. D. Hirsch Jr. - June

    Do More, Spend Less: The New Secrets of Living the Good Life for Less by Brad Wilson- June

    Prairie Song: A Novel, Hearts Seeking Home Book 1 by Mona Hodgson- July
    You Gotta Try This! Absolutely Irresistible Science by Vicki Cobb- July
    52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust by William Alexander- July
    Inferno by Dan Brown- July
    The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less by John Robbins- July
    The Still of Night (A Rush of Wings Series #2) by Kristen Heitzmann- July
    The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister- August
    Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares- August
    The Easy Organizer: 365 Tips for Conquering Clutter by Marilyn Boh- August
    Games With Books: Twenty-eight of the Best Children's books and How to Use Them to Help Your Child Learn-From Preschool to Third Grade by Peggy Kaye- August
    Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister- August
    Bones Are Forever by Kathy Reichs- August
    Plantation: A Lowcountry Tale by Dorothea Benton Frank- August 

    Letters, The: A Novel (The Inn at Eagle Hill) by Suzanne Woods Fisher- September

    Forever Friday: A Novel by Timothy Lewis- October
    Christmas in Apple Ridge: Three-in-One Collection: The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, NEW! The Dawn of Christmas by Cindy Woodsmall- October
     Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell- October
    The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield- October

    Dear Mr. Knightley: A Novel by Katherine Reay- November
    Sisterchicks Do the Hula (Sisterchicks Series #2)  by Robin Jones Gunn- November

    Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs December
    The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks- December 

    I am starting off January with a Robert Parker novel from the library and then seeing where I go from there!!!  Are you going to be reading lots this year?  This list gets me on track for reading over 40 books plus others that pop up during the year.  I am aiming for 4 books a month and hoping for lots more. 

    UPDATE:  I have been reading over 10 books a month and by the 6 month mark have already read 84 books.  I know that there are plenty more to read in the next six months!

    The super great thing about your library is that you get all the books for FREE!!!  I hope that you check out your local library and find some books that you are interested in too :)

    Friday, December 28, 2012

    Breath of Dawn Book Review

    Breath of Dawn, The by Kristen Heitzmann was my newest book from Bethany House Publishers to review.  I was super excited because it has been so long since my last book from them that I wanted to get right on it but I was in the middle of a few other books so this was my first time to concentrate on it.  I was super surprised to see that it was over 400 pages...I think that I might need to look at that before picking a book to review again.  But this was a fast read so it didn't seem like it was as long as it was!!

    Quinn Reilly was the main character who was living a solitary life with her job buying at estate sales to sell through e-bay.  With no friends around her, she was leading a very lonely life until she met Morgan and his daughter Livie who were living with their family Rick, Noelle and Liam and moving into a house that she was busy cleaning out.  They quickly bond and become very good friends.  It was a great story with all of the characters going through different issues including sickness, death of loved ones and fear.  I couldn't stop thinking about Quinn and all of the complications that she had in her life.  She moved away from friends and family to protect herself from a person that testified against who was getting out of prison.  Having new friends around was just what Quinn needed and you will never believe what happens next!!!  I am not going to ruin the story so make sure you pick it up and see.

    It was religious book with lots of mention of God but for the most part, it didn't get in the way of the story line.  The religious stories went along with the story line in the people's lives.  There were a few mentions that came at strange times in the story but it was a good balance with the rest of the story and the characters.

    I hope that you check out this book at your local library or bookstore.  I had a hard time putting down the book when I started reading...which lead to a lot of late nights reading in bed.  I think that you would have the same problem once you get into the book and won't be sad that there are over 400 pages because they go by so quickly.  Let me know if you check out this book and what you think!!!

    Thursday, December 27, 2012

    Down By the River Book Review

    The last book in the three part series, Down by the River (Grace Valley Trilogy) by Robyn Carr was a great book.  I ran to the library to get it right after finishing the second book to pick up the third.  I loved it so much that I think that I finished in under 24 hours from the time that I picked it up :)  I highly recommend this series of books but they really should be read in order.  If you haven't read the other two, this might be a spoiler (just to let you know to skip this post if you want to start at the beginning).  I went online to figure out which book was the second one to order from the library and luckily found it but then I also saw the third one and the blurb on it!!  It sort of ruined the surprise for me so I don't want to do that for you!

    This book series is set in Grace Valley, a small town in the country.  The people in the town are always willing to help out people in need and support their friends.  Does someone need help fixing up their house?  One person decides to help and the rest of the town is there to help.  Someone needs a job?  They find a job for them.  They are the ideal country town that you want to raise your children in but they aren't without their challenges.  They face issues with the preacher, problems with drug growers in the area, childhood pranks, and other issues that they band together and work through.  I thought it was a great book and I obviously couldn't put it down. 

    Check this out at your local library or bookstore.  I can't imagine you will be disappointed in this small town story of all the ways that people help each other to live their daily lives and in crisis.  It makes you really appreciate your life and all the great things we have!!  I hope that you check the series out starting with the first book.  I hope to try another one of her series but I think that I need to work on the books that I have started to try to finish first since I loose 24 hours so easily since I can't put it down. 

    Wednesday, December 26, 2012

    Just Over the Mountain Book Review

    Just Over the Mountain (Grace Valley Trilogy) by Robyn Carr was the second book in the series.  I reserved it at the library and it came in quickly so I didn't really have the ability to wait to read it :)  It was a super good read which I stayed up too late to read but I finished quickly and it was worth it.  I wish there were more than three books in this series but I know that I will be reading the series that she has soon!!!  Just reserved the third book and I am going to run to the library and see if they have it!!!

    This book was a great continuation of the first book.  The main character, June, is the doctor for a small town.  The book goes into the interesting people that live in the small town including June's best friend, Tom, the police chief and June's office staff.  The great thing is that everything that was left hanging the last book was followed up on in this book.  Her relationship with Jim, the undercover DEA agent was cemented with him showing up in town and telling her that he wasn't leaving.  The only problem with the book was that I couldn't put it down to get other things done or get to sleep :)

    I hope that you check it out at your local library or bookstore.  Please let me know if you have read it and if you like.  Make sure you start with the first book in the series because it really helps with the character development to know exactly where the second book is picking up.  Running to the library to see if I can get the third!

    Tuesday, December 25, 2012

    Happy Holidays to you and yours!!!

    I hope that you get out and enjoy the lights of the holidays!!  I know that we have :)  The best to you and your families during this holiday and through the new year!

    Monday, December 24, 2012

    Harris Teeter Marathon Shopping Trips

    I took advantage of the end of the baking sales at Harris Teeter.  I took a quick trip and got the Dixie Crystals brown sugar, Dixie Crystals sugar (with rain check), Kikoman soy sauce, and Smart Balance butter.  I figured that it would be a good time to get the sugar because of the wonderful $0.75 coupon (the coupon that I normally get it $0.50) so it seemed a perfect time to use my rain check to save a little more money.

    I don't know about you, but I went to use the Dixie Crystals rain check at one of the Harris Teeter stores in my area to stock up before the Christmas cookie baking and they didn't have any of the granulated sugar and no space for it.  It looks like they normally carry another brand and only replace it when they have a sale.  I decided that I better get everything into the cart when I saw it on the shelf just in case they don't carry it the next time that I needed it.  I am really glad that they had it on the shelf so I picked up two!!

    Total OOP $3.13
    Total Savings $17.72

    Then, I decided to go back and use another rain check and get the Dixie Crystal Sugar and Dixie Crystal brown sugar.  Who can really pass up those prices and stocked shelves?  Not me even though I have no room in my cupboard.

    Total OOP $4.07
    Total Savings $8.36

    Then what to my wondering eye should appear, my evic specials!!!  Dixie Crystal sugar on evic sale!!  Okay, really...  Did I need two more?  YUP!  I had to get some more Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice for my husband so I grabbed what could fit into the cart with all my messy coupon stuff.  I grabbed the only two of the corn that we liked that were on evic special too.  Plus, more salt.  My husband asked if we really needed them and I told him that I couldn't pass up salt (especially this yummy kind) for only $0.07. 

    Total OOP $20.93
    Total Savings $39.37

    I was thinking about going back and getting some more Ocean Spray juice because what we have will only last about 4 months with my husband's Cranberry Juice addiction.  I only have a few more days left but lets hope that I escape without getting more sugar or salt :)  I hope that you got a chance to use lots of great coupons to stock up on those great winter sales.  The good news is that I still have lots left in the budget for the month but not much time left in the sale since it is Christmas Eve and I didn't make it out this morning because I was in the kitchen cooking all morning for our big dinner tonight :(  I will see if I make it out later but I think that I would rather have a nap!! 

    Hope you are all having a great Christmas eve!!!!

    Menu Plan Monday 12/24

    Monday- Christmas Eve dinner:  Turkey, stuffing, yeast rolls, cranberry sauce, and veggie
    Tuesday- Cinnamon Rolls/Leftovers/Baked Potato Soup
    Wednesday- Keiobsa with sweet potato fries and tater tots/Olive Oil Pasta with herb bread
    Thursday- Leftovers/Breakfast for dinner
    Friday- Homemade Pizza Roll/Grilled Buffalo Chicken Wraps
    Saturday- Grilled Cheese/??
    Sunday- Leftovers/Rosemary Grilled Chicken with herb rice

    We are planning for both lunch and dinner because we have people in town and I am going to be ready to feed the masses.  I don't know how many people are going to be here on any given day but I think that we are going to have 5-11 people (hopefully maximum because my house isn't that big, let alone my dining room table).  After all the company leaves, this is also my week to cross my fingers and clean the freezer.  I know that the turkey is going to free up a lot of room but I am not sure if I am going to have enough room in my upstairs freezer for the rest of the stash :)  I am going to find a way though because I know that the freezer is long overdue!!!

    Sunday, December 23, 2012

    Weekly Goals 12/23

    It was a busy week without enough preschool for my little man but I kept him really busy.  Now I want a bad it is now the holidays so we are in to busy time and not rest time :(  Of well, hopefully I can sneak away for a few naps this week!!  I hope that you all have a great holiday and a great week.

    Last Week:

    Family Goals
    • Spend time with my family- We had a busy week and now my husband has taken off for the rest of the year so it is really the holiday.
    • Wooden Solider Storytime at the library- We made it to the storytime and had lots of fun marching around.  We also got to read a ton of books and check out lots of books and DVDs.  Then we went to Kohl's where I did a quick return and spent the rest of the time looking at lots of toys with little man.  Then, we went to visit friends who have a little baby (not so little anymore) and my little man had fun playing with the baby. 
    • Storytime at the library- We went to another strange storytime at the library where they don't even open a book.  We did get to meet up with some friends that we haven't see n in ages.  I am not sure exactly how that helps kids but it was entertaining enough.  The great thing was that the two handouts that they had were fun and we were the last ones in the room counting, adding and writing our numbers :)
    • Playdate with a friend- We went to a friends house to play and had lots of fun.  In my son's words, I love to go to Paige's house because she has lots of cool toys.  Kids have low needs since they usually spend a lot of time playing with two balloons.  They had tons of fun since it is the last time before the holidays that we will see them.  Then we had another friend over to the house to play which was great fun because we haven't seen them in ages.
    • Puppet Show at the library- We were going to go with friends and they couldn't go because of a sickness so we decided to stay home and do productive preparations for the holidays and a quick trip to the grocery store first thing in the morning.  The sickness has taken hold in this house too and the medicine, resting seemed like a better option.
    • Present Exchange with friends- Postponed until after the holidays and need to pass two different sickness back and forth between family right?
    • Get to Preschool on time for party on Monday- No problems getting to school which was great since I had to go straight to the dentist in order to assure that I made it back to help out in the class.  There was construction at the end of street which meant that I couldn't get out with all the trucks backing up and starting to get setup for the day but I got to do a U-turn and come out of the connecting street so I was super happy that it didn't slow us down too much and that we had left early enough to have that extra time :)
    Personal Goals
    • Cookie Exchange with friends- We had lots of fun and now I have eaten lots of cookies.
    • Volunteer at Litle Man's school party- I am not sure what help I provided but it was fun to see my guy and all his friends at school which was an interesting view into a world I don't often see!
    • Dentist Appointment- All checked out and my appointments are all on the books for next year through March to use up all of my new year's insurance.  Crossing my fingers that I don't have to go to a specialist when this is all over.
    • Doctor Appointment- I smashed my foot on my little man's stool and it hasn't gotten better.  I went to the doctor to make sure nothing is broken and good news is that nothing is but I got a shot in the foot (OUCH!) and had to go back for a check up.  Now I have to go get an ultrasound to see if I have a neuoma in my foot.  Appointment made for January 3rd.
    • Get coupons at library on Friday (if there are inserts??)- No inserts last week or this week.
    • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy- Kept the computer off at night and through some of the days that we were out of the house.  It was super hard to not have a computer up and running when I quickly needed to check things but I hope it saved power and kept the computer in better working order for when I needed it.
    • Read How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will, Too! by Sal Severe- I had a busy week but I did a great job reading through How To Behave but then I got a new book through the library which took over because it was the second in the series.  I couldn't put it down so the other books got put on the back burner for a few days.  Okay and then I got the third book in the series which I read in one day instead of getting back to this book!!
    • Start Bethany House Publishing book I recieved in the mail Breath of Dawn, The by Kristen Heitzmann- I was going to start it but I got the library book as mentioned above and this one got put a little farther on the back burner.  Hoping to finish both of my other books and get started on the new book!!
    Home Management Goals
    • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week- Did a great job keeping the kitchen mostly clean even if I didn't get back to my clean on drawer/cabinet a day project.  Here is hoping that I will get them started again after the holiday and when my little guy is back in school.  It is a little hard to get things done when we are out almost every day running errands.
    • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- Still the hardest thing for me to do.  I got most of the dishes done almost every night and just had a few things to do in the morning.  I did do all the dishes on Tuesday night and my husband did them all on Wednesday.  Sadly, the rest of the week was a little of a blur and hoping to be better during the holidays :)
    Blog Goals
    • Post one post everyday- Done.  I got the posts up everyday but there was a little more work during the week since I wasn't far enough ahead.
    • Schedule at least 7 posts so that can spend more time with family- I scheduled the posts at least the night before so that I could make sure that I kept my busy schedule for the week.
    • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)- Started my post on the book(s) that I am reading as well as my month end of the different books that I read for the month.  Hoping to get them both posted soon.
    • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week- Not enough ahead but I have a few posts up with the things that are going on later in the month as well as some drafts to complete to get posted before the end of the month.
    • Post Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, and Thrifty Thursday Tip- Done
    This Week:

    Family Goals
    • Spend time with my family
    • Open House Christmas Party
    • Puppet Show at the library
    • Movies at the library 
    Personal Goals
    Home Management Goals
    • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week
    • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning
    Blog Goals
    • Post one post everyday
    • Schedule at least 7 posts so that can spend more time with family
    • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)
    • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week
    • Post Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, and Thrifty Thursday Tip

      Saturday, December 22, 2012

      Almond Spritz Cookies

      Many years ago my grandmother used to make very special cookies for Christmas.  Okay, she baked all year round but even more at Christmas with different special cookies.  My grandmother really liked to use nuts in a lot of recipes which I didn't like so there were a few cookies that I really liked because there weren't any nuts in them.  One of my favorite ones were cookie press cookies that I thought were really yummy but even better because they were small so we could have more than one.  I didn't know much about baking back then but I knew what I liked and these little gems were always good.  My grandmother passed away when I was a teenager so I hadn't had these cookies in many years.

      One year, we got a special Christmas plate of cookies from our friend Christel, after my husband fixed her computer.  They were gone in minutes of arriving home.  After they were gone, he went out and got this cookie press for me that Christmas.  Needless to say it was a hint that he would like these cookies!!  Sadly (for him but not me), I am horrible at using the press and my husband is in charge after the dough is made to press out all the cookies.

      After more trial and error, we made the cookies using the cookie press.  My husband was in charge of the press and I was in charge of the sprinkles.  I think that we both did a good job.  What do you think?  Aren't they super cute!! 

      Plus they make a ton of cookies so there is lots of enjoyment.  They don't last long in this house though!!

      Have you ever had them before??  I highly suggest you try them.  If you don't have a cookie press, the dough can also be used to make cut out cookies or candy canes by rolling them out and twisting two strands together.  There is also a recipe where you add chocolate flavor to the dough and make logs with icing.  They are my favorite but I never make them either.  Something to change in the new year :)  I hope that you try and love them too!

      Almond Spritz Cookies

      1 1/2 c sugar
      1 c butter or margarine
      8 oz brick of cream cheese (must be regular and not light)
      1 egg
      1 tsp vanilla (optional)
      1 tsp almond extract (or more to taste)
      4 cups flour (maybe up to 1/2 c more if too sticky)
      1 tsp baking powder

      Cream sugar, butter and cream cheese until fluffy.  Add egg and extracts to creamed mixture and beat until smooth.  Add flour and baking powder slowly to the above mixture.  Refrigerate until use with cookie press (or alternate suggestions below).  Bake cookies at 375 for 8-10 minutes.  Please note that you don't want them to brown so take out while still soft.

      1.  Can add food coloring to make green trees and red candy canes through the cookie press or do with white dough.  Press and decorate before baking at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

      2.  Can use dough for cut out cookies.  Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 for 8-10 minutes. 

      3.  Can die half red and leave half white.  Roll out like rope and twist both colors into a candy cane cookie crimping each end so that they stay together.  Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes based on size of candy cane.

      4.  Also can, melt 2 squares of semi-sweet chocolate to mix with dough.  roll into 2 inch log and chill overnight.  Cut the log into 6 sections and roll each into rope.  Cut each rope into 6 pieces and shape straight or like a C.  Bake 375 for 8-9 minutes.  Remove and dust with confectioner sugar or use powdered sugar icing.  Straight ones are called logs and curved ones are called reindeer antlers. 

      We never get past the cookie press on the first batch but all of the cookies are really great tasting!!  Hope you try them and enjoy the yummiest Christmas cookie (which can also be made everyday).

      Friday, December 21, 2012

      M & M Cookies

      At our cookie exchange, my friend Amy brought M&M Cookies.  We might have eaten all of the cookies and only had this one to show for it so I quickly took this picture (and then accidentally ate the cookie).  They were really good!!!  Super crispy and buttery.  My husband's complaint was too many M&Ms but I thought that they were good... I would probably put in less next time to make him happy though :)  I hope that you try them too for the holiday and beyond.

      M&M Cookies

      Based on Robbi's M&M Cookies from Allrecipes

    • Directions

      1. In a large bowl, mix sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla thoroughly. Add flour, salt, and baking soda to creamed mixture. Blend well. Add 3/4 cup of M&M candies.
      2. Drop dough by teaspoonful onto cookie sheet. Slightly push a few candies on top of each dough ball with remaining candies.
      3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 9 to 11 minutes.

      Thursday, December 20, 2012

      Thrifty Thursday: Trying to get in the Christmas Spirit

      I feel like the Grinch this year because I am having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit.  I had most of my shopping done early and did our yearly Black Friday experience.  I got up the tree the day after Thanksgiving which we have never done.  I am super sad we aren't going to have our whole family together but wishing that we were going to have a really quiet time.  Holidays are a conflicting time with a very busy schedule.  The best idea is to make Christmas cookies!!

      This is a super frugal way to cheer up your holiday.  I promise that peppermint and almond are the keys to cheering up the holidays.  The sad thing was that we ate through most of the store before the guests came to town.  I think that it means that we need to make more :) 

      Check out your favorite cookies in the cookbook or check out a few on my site to make a few super cheap treats to get you in the holiday spirit.

      Almond Spritz Cookies
      M&M Cookies
      Christmas Cookies
      Not So Nestle Chocolate Chip Cookies
      Double Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies
      Oatmeal Cookies
      Whole Wheat Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
      Mississippi Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookies
      Chocolate Flourless Cookies
      Breadcrumb Cookies
      Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
      Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
      Peanut Butter Cookies
      Leftover Chocolate Chip Cookies
      Snickerdoodle Cookies

      The great news is that this is super cheap way to bring the holiday spirit into your house!  I hope that you make some yummy cookies (and send some this way).  I need to start to on my gingerbread or molasses cookies to bring in the scents and the tastes of the holiday into the house!!!   I will be posting the recipe soon if I get to making it :)

      Harris Teeter Shopping Trip 12/19

      I made a quick trip to Harris Teeter to get some of the deals that were going until Christmas day and some from the current week.  I got the Diamond Crystal Sea Salt for $0.07.  The Davidson eggs which were B1G1.  I had coupons for $0.75 off each so with doubling, they were $0.65 for 2 dozen eggs.  I went with the expensive Smart Balance butter instead of the free one so it cost a few cents.  Then I grabbed the free sour cream.  The Ocean Spray was on sale B1G1 so they were $3.79 for two which is better than most of the sales so I am probably going to have to go back and stock up.

      I was running around with my little man in a car shopping cart and with no list in hand, I was a little disorganized and had to run out to the car to grab the coupons for the eggs and the sour cream.  Overall, not a horrible trip after my coupons were handed over but hoping that I can get my act together with the coupons.  Plus, I am super excited to make my cinnamon pound cake made with sour cream!!!  Stay tuned for the yummy recipe :)

      Total OOP $5.01
      Total Savings $21.01

      It has been a good month so far with only $30 OOP and saving $221.79.  A great end to the year!!  I don't know what the rest of the month holds with the holidays and company coming into town but I am hoping for lots of good deals and a really great year end total!!

      Shared on Southern Savers

      Walmart Shopping Trip 12/16

      I went to Walmart to get some more Gerber purple bananas with the rest of my gift card.  Good thing too because these seem to be my son's go to food since recovering from his cold.  Sadly, my gift card is totally gone but that means that I won't have that many trips to Walmart for the rest of the month.

      Total OOP $3.79 on gift card + $0.23 cash
      Total Savings ???

      Wednesday, December 19, 2012

      Whole Wheat Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

      I had my Christmas cookie exchange and my friend brought these yummy cookies.  She is kindly sharing her recipes with you (and me). 

      Do you like cinnamon oatmeal cookies?  I do!!!  Do you have an oatmeal cookie recipe you use?  I do!!!  Does it have cinnamon?  NOPE!!!  What is wrong with this picture.  I love cinnamon and oatmeal together and my oatmeal cookies don't have cinnamon. 

      This is a must try recipe because it is super tasty with a bit of healthy.  I kind of feel that these would even be good for breakfast!!!  I hope that you try them and let me know what you think.  I think that I need to get some cinnamon chips and try these super cinnamon flavored!!!

      Oatmeal Cookies

      adapted from The Petit Appetit Cookbook by Lisa Barnes

      1/2 cup unsalted butter
      2/3 cup packed brown sugar
      1 egg
      1 tsp vanilla
      1/2 cup all purpose flour
      1/2 cup whole wheat flour
      1/2 tsp baking soda
      1/4 tsp salt (use salted butter and leave out the salt)
      1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (heaping)
      1 cup old-fashioned oats
      1/2 cup dried cranberries

      1/2 cup golden raisins
      1/2 cup raisins
      1 cup cinnamon chips (leave out dried fruit)

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat well.  Stir together flours, baking soda, salt (if using), and cinnamon.  Fold dry ingredients into butter mixture until dough comes together.  Stir in oats and cranberries (other dried fruit) or cinnamon chips until just combined.  Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Let them set for two minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool. 

      Tuesday, December 18, 2012

      Double Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies

      I found this recipe for Stuffed Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies and I thought that it sounds perfect for a cookie exchange but I didn't want to make the stuffed ones.  I went back to the original blog to check out some of her suggestions and found her earlier recipe where they weren't stuffed.  I thought that sounded perfect.  I went through the cupboard and pulled out everything to make sure that I had enough of everything which I did!!!

      I started by making the peppermint sugar from candy canes.  The blog said that they usually use a rolling pin and then sift out the big pieces.  I decided to put them in a thick plastic bag and hit it with the flat side of the meat tenderizer mallet.  I got them all super small and didn't have to sift at all.  Check out what my two candy canes made- just enough which was 2 tbsps.

      Then I chopped up the peppermint bark.  Which was actually a little harder to do then the peppermint sugar, but not by much. 

      Then, it was on to the actual cookie dough.  It turned out to be pretty easy to make with all normal ingredients.  It made a really thick dough so when you choose your rubber spatula, make sure you pick a really heavy duty one because I didn't!! 

      I scooped the cookies on to the cookie sheets.  This time, I got out a plate to scoop the next batch of cookies on while the other sheet was cooking.  That way a I was totally ready to go from one sheet to the next to keep the cookie machine moving.

      They turned out really good when lightly cooked.  I might have eaten one straight off the cookie sheet and it was amazing!!!  The melty chocolate chips and peppermint bark was amazing!  The great part was that there was a taste of peppermint without it being over powering as it often is with peppermint extract.  I think that the peppermint sugar might be my new favorite addition to holiday cookies and muffins.

      Pull up a chair and enjoy some of your own holiday cheer and some yummy cookies.

      Below is the recipe so that you can make your own for you and your family or your own cookie exchange.  Make sure you check out the original posts too!!!
      Double Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
      • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
      • 1¼ cup sugar
      • 2 large eggs
      • ½ cup cocoa powder (regular or dark)
      • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
      • ¼ tsp. salt (I used sea salt but original recipe called for coarse salt)
      • 1 tsp. baking powder
      • 1 cup chocolate chips
      • 1/2 cup chopped up peppermint bark (or Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips)
      • 2 tbsp crushed Candy Cane Sugar
      Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Blend in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in the cocoa powder until well blended.
      Add the flour, crushed candy canes, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated.  Fold in the chocolate chips and peppermint chips with a spatula.

      Bake for 8-10 for regular cookies. Let cool on baking sheet for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.