Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I can't get enough Harris Teeter triples!!

I don't know why I can't get enough of triples but there are a few good deals and most of my coupons were printable so I used up a lot in three days since I have three computers to print coupons.  I decided to get a lot rain checks since I had a huge pile and there were some coupons that made some of them a good deal again- FINALLY!!!

I got some Cheerios, Reynolds Slow Cooker liner and Dixie Crystals with my rain checks.  I saved an additional $16.60 with the use of rain checks and all 10 items only cost $0.18 after rain check and coupons!!!  I was pretty excited that I got a second to think about some of the deals that I had rain checks and coupons on so that I could stock up on some things that I love to use for nearly free!!

I grabbed a few other deals that I hadn't had a chance to get earlier in the week like the $0.99 lettuce, Crunch cereal, and Libby Pumpkin.  They weren't the best deals so there was still some left on the shelf and my son's favorite yogurt was also filled back up so I grabbed two so that I could make some smoothies for him!!  I decided to pick up three more oatmeals for my husband...let's hope that last awhile!!

Total OOP $5.80
Total Savings $38.04 + 6.78 Reynolds + 6.98 Cheerios + 2.84 Dixie= $54.64

Gone South Book Review

I got this great new opportunity to Blog for Books.  I am super excited to get my first book.  I picked out of their list of books and this one sounded really interesting and different (as well as the cover looking great).  It showed up right on my porch one night!!  It looked like a really thick book but I was ready to start as soon as I finished the book that I was reading.

In this book, Tish McComb decides to visit her ancestor's home when she finds out that it is for sale.  She figures that this is her chance to see the inside when there is someone willing to show it to her.  She takes pictures and enjoys the tour while never intending to actually buy the house.  Tish wakes up the next morning and decides that she is going to buy the house even though it is in Alabama and she lives in Michigan!!!  She has no job and no family or friends in Alabama but she decides that is what her father would do.  When she moves in, she doesn't realize the history that her family has left before her and the feelings that the town has about the McComb name.  She makes friends with George, an antiques dealer who has a dog who thinks that she lives at Tish's house, and Mel, a homeless 20 year old who has been kicked out of her parents house who lives with Tish.  Taking a chance on the move was just her first chance of many in her life but you should really pick up the book and see so that I don't spoil it!!

I loved the book and was ready to search for the next book by the same author when this one was done (already looked but they don't have it at the library so I will have to find it at the store).  I highly recommend checking out "Gone South" wherever you can find it.  It makes you appreciate your life and everything in it while gaining a lot of sympathy and compassion for those who might not have the same opportunities.  I love books where you love the characters so much by the end you feel like you live in the neighborhood and don't want to put it down and this is one of those books!!  I want to hear so much more about all the characters and I think that there could be a whole series set in this small town.  I will cross my fingers and hope to see another one soon!!  Pick up a copy at your local library or bookstore and check it out for yourself!!

If you want to find out more about Meg Moseley, please check out her website here.  There is more information about her available here with links to each of her books, as well as a few other authors you maybe interested in if you like her work.

If you are interested in ordering the book, please feel free to go straight to the source here.  It isn't released until May 7th so this is a brand new book so it is available for pre-order only before that date.  Isn't it super cool that I got an advanced copy?  You can also order through Amazon here.

If you are a blogger and interested in learning more about the Blogging for Books, please check them out here.  I found out about the program through someone else that was blogging about the book that they just read.  Since I have a love of reading and all things books, it seemed like a nice program to try.  If you are already active with the program, please tell me how you like it.  I look forward to trying out some new books soon.

*Please note that I was provided a free copy of the book through Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group through their Blogging for Books program for my honest opinion of the book.

**  I also am posting a review on Amazon but their website doesn't allow a review before the book release date so it won't be posted until they open the customer review section.

Monday, April 29, 2013

More Great deals at HT triples!!

I decided to go back to the store even though I wasn't sure what I was going to get but I found lots more deals... My son was trying to decide what we could and couldn't get.  He said yes to the rice, butter, juice boxes, wipes and yogurt but drew the line at the Campbell's Skillet sauce.  He said since he didn't like it, we should get it.  I explained that is not how shopping usually worked because we shop for the whole family.  He agreed that we could put it in the cart :)

Total OOP $1.39
Total Savings $24.84

Since shopping with a little one is challenging enough, I decided to do the rain checks separately so I would not mess up either.  Plus it gave the little man a transaction to pay for himself...although at the last minute, I distracted with a cookie!!  I used the rain check for B1G1 on the Smart Balance and the Dixie Crystal sugar at $1.97.  I used the coupons to get some good deals to stock up.

Total OOP $2.92
Total Savings $6.94+ 5.79 Smart Balance + 2.84 Dixie= $15.57

Two checkouts for one great trip which also entertained the little man for a little bit so that we could get all the things done that we needed to that day.  Hope you are enjoying the fun triples for a change of pace from all the super doubles madness!!!

Another trip to Harris Teeter triples

I am starting to loose track of the days and the sales and the coupons but since there are still deals to be had, I am back to Harris Teeter for another round.  Just as important to get the deals is to get the rain checks to use next time around :)

I got the Sister Schubert rolls, Campbell's Skillet, Happy Baby, Mueller's pasta, and Tetley tea which were all free after sale and coupon.  I got the Yoplait Greek yogurt with the sale, coupon and evic coupon for a $0.30 profit.  The fire roasted tomatoes were $0.04 each.  The Smart Balance butter was $0.14 each.  The Huggies wipes were $0.19.  All really great deals for mostly free groceries :)

I picked up marked down bag of bananas at the beginning of my trip.  We had gotten 6 bananas from Aunt Kim and enjoyed two loaves of banana bread.  I think that it unlocked the taste for the banana bread.  I was planning on making some pumpkin bread when we were done but this looked like the opportunity to make two more loaves so I can't wait.  YUM!

I guess that I should have gotten some other things because my total ended up in the negative!!  Normally they make you buy something else when you go negative but they overrode the total and handed me $0.13.  Don't you love when you walk out with groceries and you get paid to do it!  Well, I do!!

Total OOP -$0.13
Total Savings $ 45.19

Harris Teeter Triples again!

Today was the third day of the Harris Teeter triples.  I printed all my coupons and didn't have anything cut or a list made so I knew that I wasn't really prepared.  I had a window of time between physical therapy and picking my son up from school.

I got two Mueller Veggie pasta, Campbell's Skillet sauce, Sister Schubert pretzel rolls and Happy Baby Apple Cherry Sauce for free.  I am excited to get a little more pasta in the cupboard since we are running fairly low (for us anyway :).  I was a little sad that there was only pretzel rolls left in the freezer because I really wanted the clover rolls or the hawaiian rolls but I took what I could get.  There were so many Happy Baby products but I chose the one that I can make into a bread soon :)

Can you find the hidden items in my bad picture? In case you can't, behind the Campbell's Skillet but there are two Pagoda Asian meals- one egg roll and one pot sticker so I think that I am going to make a meal with these two and some simple fried rice this weekend.  Under the oatmeal is the Apple and Eve juice boxes because juice boxes are a good thing to have on hand with the hot weather approaching.

I got two more boxes of the yummy Triscuits which I proceeded to eat with some cheese for lunch.  They are fabulous if you haven't tried the Rosemary and Olive Oil, I highly recommend them (and I used to dislike Triscuits)!!! 

I also used the rain check to get the Ocean Spray Cran Grape Juice for B1G1 which will make my husband really happy because he only had a few left from the last time I bought it.  I suggested that he put the date on one to see how long it lasts him and he did it right before we left for our "vacation" and then he decided to glaze over it when he got home and he finished it.  I laughed at him and told him that it really only last three days and he drank an entire other one on our trip.  The last one last two days!!!  He has a drinking problem with a strong addiction to Cran Grape juice :)

While the cashier was ringing me out, the gun broke!! The thing that scans all the coupons so the rest of my order had to be overriden by a manager.  I tried to watch everything clearly but I obviously missed something because they missed another coupon!!!  This is why I am happier doing smaller transactions and going to the cashier that I know.  It was of course another $0.75 one so I am out another $2.25.  Oh well, I got lots of great deals but still super sad to miss another coupon.

(Note:  I went to see my favorite customer service manager and she gave me back the money for both mixed coupons so that I didn't have to return anything)

Total OOP $18.40- $4.61 cash back= $13.79
Total Savings $55.84 + $11.97 Cranberry RC+  $4.61= $72.42

Menu Plan Monday 4/29

Monday- Egg Rolls and Pan Fried Dumplings with simplified fried rice
Tuesday- Wedge Salad with leftover rice
Wednesday- Buffalo Chicken Wraps and mac and cheese
Thursday- ??
Friday- Homemade Pizza
Saturday- Leftovers/??
Sunday-Grilled Cheese/??

I can't believe that another month is already over.  I usually do the menu planning on a monthly basis so that I can spread out meals so that we aren't eating chicken every night.  Of course when the month ends and the next one starts, I am sometimes caught off guard.  I quickly figured out a few things that we had around the freezer and pantry to make a few meals for the beginning of the month before starting the menu planning.  Here is what we have after fitting some of the things in the freezer on the calendar for May!

My Kind of Christmas Book Review

My Kind of Christmas (Virgin River) by Robyn Carr is the last book in the Virgin River series.  Both happy and sad that I made it to the end of the series, I think that my other books are going to be happy that I am going to get to them now :) 
 In this book, Patrick Riordan has come to town on his break from his career as a navy pilot after the death of his best friend and wing man.  During this time, he meets Angie who is there to take a break from her med school education.  They become friends instantly because they have so much in common.  He is very honest that he doesn't want a relationship because he is going to leave right before Christmas to care for his friend's widow.  This is an amazing heartwarming story that you have to read to believe but I promise that you will love every minute of it!!

It was another great book by Robyn Carr and I hope that we are going to get a new one soon!!  Crossing my fingers but really glad that I didn't find this series before she had all the books written since it took be very little time to get through all of them.  I will be eagerly awaiting the next in the series!!!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekly Goals 4/28

Long weekend at my parents house with a little man that was cooped up by the second day and only wanted to eat sweets!!  UGH!!  But we made it through the week with the detox from sugar only to end the week with Grandpa showing up with more sweets!!  Oh well, that is the week and we are going to a birthday party on Sunday to round out the sugar craze.  I hope you had a less sugar filled week.

Last Week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family including the last few days with the extended family- We had a great visit with a bunch of extended family plus lots of late dinners because so much playing outside at night.  The late sunset is really messing with the bedtime schedule.  We are all exhausted but no time to rest :)
  • Playdate with friends- I had so many things going on during the week that I had to remind myself to get home for our playdate on Friday after school.  They had a great time and played with so many things that the house was turned upside down.  Isn't that the key to a happy playtime with 4 year old boys?
  • Healthy Puppet Show at the library- We went to the puppet show and had a great time getting back into our regular routine.  The puppet show was a little weak but a good enough topic with staying healthy and getting shots.
  • Class at My Gym and go to at least two open playtimes- Luckily, we did three open playtimes this week and had a really great class.  I used the few free seconds to run into Giant to get some turkey so that my husband would have sandwiches the rest of the week :)
Personal Goals
  • Cut coupons if I get them- Super excited that they had piles of papers when we got home so I had the inserts to cut for the week.  I cut the coupons so that I would have them for triples.
  • Get coupons on Friday- I went to three different places on Friday morning and the papers weren't there yet.  My husband brought home my pile of papers and I got my coupons in piles so that I can sort and cut them this week.
  • Go to PT for TMJ twice- I think that this is my first week with two sessions and it was a lot to get to the PT but I am feeling a little better.  Does this mean PT for the rest of my life?
  • Sub for preschool- I had a great time working with the little three year old class.  They were super energetic and lots of fun.  I can't wait to do it again next week!
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy- Had my computer off for most of the vacation so only had a few days left of the week at home and kept the computer off every night to save energy.  I also shut it off during the day for a few days.  It was a surprise to me when I went to the computer around dinner time and realized that I hadn't had it on all day!!!
  • Finish reading "All in good time : when to save, stock up, and schedule everything for your home"- Finished and posted review
  • Start reading "The Shunning" or "Cold Service"- Those were the next two in my pile and I might have grabbed two more from the library that just got moved up in the pile.  I finished the Virgin River series this month starting with Sunrise Point and then My Kind of Christmas before starting on the books on my list.  I went on to read the Shunning and then Cooks Country TV Show Cookbook.  It was a flip between reading Cold Service or the book that I just got in the mail from my new Blogging for Books.
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week- Luckily, I cleaned the kitchen before I left and that left two days without having to clean the kitchen.  I kept it clean the rest of the week.
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- I loaded up the dishes when we got home from vacation but we had leftovers so there wasn't much in terms of dishes that didn't go into the dishwasher so we had a little break.  I only had a few dishes sitting in the sink on
Blog Goals

  • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family)- I had a bunch of posts scheduled for the week but I was still putting the finishing touches on the Thrifty Thursday post which turned into a Kid Science post instead.
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)- Already did the book reviews for everything that was finished during the week.  Can you believe that this is the last full week of the month??
  • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week- I knew that I would get a little behind with everything from our vacation but I got a lot of posts up for the week and I need to get a few more posts up for next week to be ready for the week.  I might be looking at a busy weekend since I don't have a lot of time during the week for extra blogging work.
  • Post Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, and Thrifty Thursday Tip- Done
This Week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family including the last few days with the extended family
  • Birthday party for a school friend
  • Playdate with friends
  • Class at My Gym and go to at least two open playtimes
Personal Goals
  • Cut coupons
  • Get coupons on Friday
  • Go to PT for TMJ
  • Go to Doctor's visit
  • Sub at preschool
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy
  • Finish reading Gone South and Ready to Learn
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 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

    Sunrise Point Book Review

    Sunrise Point (Virgin River) by Robyn Carr came into the library and it was instantly next on the list to read.  I was going to read the next one in the pile but these always jump to the top of the list- not for long since this is the second to the last book!!!  Can you believe that I read the whole series in the matter of a few months?  I can't!! 
    Tom Cavanaugh, a former Marine, moved back to his home town (Virgin River obviously) to take over the family orchard.  Nora Crane, mother to two young girls, came to orchard to get a job picking apples but Tom told her that he filled all of the jobs available.  As she is leaving, Maxie, Tom's grandmother, tells her to wait.  Maxie goes in and tells Tom that she is going to hire Nora because she is a single mother and needs a break.  Nora walks almost 4 miles to work and is the first there every morning.  Darla, the widow of a friend of Tom's, comes to visit the orchard and is everything Tom thinks that he wants.  But Tom quickly learns that she doesn't fit in to his life because she wants to change him and leave the orchard.  He quickly falls for Nora even though he is fighting to not want to fall in love with a woman and kids.  Pick up the book to find out all the surprises along the way!!
    I can't believe that I finished it and I only have one book left in the series.  Here is hoping that she writes more soon.  I can't believe that I read through all those books so quickly but I hope that you pick one up and meet some of the great people of Virgin River.  Let me know if you have a favorite!!

    Saturday, April 27, 2013

    All In Good Time Book Review

    All In Good Time: When to Save, Stock Up, and Schedule Everything for Your Home by Tara Kuczykowski was in the new book section so I picked it up.  I wasn't really sure about it but I thought that it seemed good and it was written by a blogger that I had heard of before so seemed like a great choice.
    The book provided information on when it was best to buy sheets to get a new bank account.  The chapters are as follows:
    Your Home
    Dining Room
    Home Office
    Nursery/ Kids Rooms
    Rec Room
    Holiday and Event Planning
    Each chapter is broken down into things that take place in this room or area.  It provides a lot of sale ideas on when you can get sheets, blankets and other things on sale.  It additionally provides homemade cleaning product recipes and tips.  Make sure that you microwave your sponges or wash them in the dishwasher to clean weekly.  In addition, clean a stinky microwave by microwaving 1/2 c water and 2 tbsp (I think) coffee grounds for 5 minutes.  I am going to try that the next time that I can't get the burnt popcorn smell out!! 
    I read the book cover to cover but found it to not have that much information that wasn't common sense or available through many sources.  If you want to cut to the heart of the matter, start with the helpful recipe guide at the end with the recipes for homemade cleaners but most of the information could be found on the Internet if you don't want to pick up the book.  There wasn't any real added benefit from reading the book because it wasn't overly entertaining or in depth but it was slightly interesting. 
    Did you read it?  Did you find any interesting tidbits? Let me know if you check it out!!

    Friday, April 26, 2013

    Quick Trip to Giant

    We were totally out of lunch meat at our house which is near a crisis for my husband.  He loves his turkey (or turkey and ham) sandwiches for lunch.  I figure that making them at home saves money since he isn't eating out every day but getting a good deal on lunch meat is hard since you can't really stock up on it.  Lunch meat goes bad so quickly and then you are stuck paying whatever price it is when you need it.

    I got lucky at Giant because they had two containers with the $1 off peelie.  I got the cashier and the customer service person opened another lane for me.  The sale price didn't come off so she walked over with me and then rang up the sale pricing manually which was another $2.32 off the regular price.  Then, my coupon and my bag credit!!

    I was super excited to get such a great deal and make some sandwiches the next day for my husband's lunch.  Of course, these packages don't make a lot of sandwiches so it isn't going to make it through the coming week so I will have this process all over next week.

    Total OOP $3.73 (on gift card so not out of budget)
    Total Savings $5.37

    Second try at HT Triples!!

    My second trip to Harris Teeter was a lot better because I had cleaned out all of the expired coupons in my basket and made a list of all of the coupons that I had that could be tripled.  I also got to print a lot of the coupons that I needed to get some of the great deals.  The coupons were all fitting into the basket instead of casading on to the floor at the check out like I had happen on Wednesday :)

    I used a rain check to get the Cinnamon Jacks and with coupons and evic coupons they were $0.50 for three boxes (or $0.16 each).  I grabbed some free Sister Schubert rolls, Muir Glen tomatoes, and Tetley tea.  I also got some more butter which was really needed since my stock up of butter was totally gone!!!  My husband begged me to get some more of the Quaker perfect portions which is his new favorite breakfast.

    I was a little disappointed at the end because it turns out that they missed one of the $0.75 coupons which means that I didn't get $2.25 off but I guess those are the breaks with couponing because it is really hard to show some one the receipt and let them know that you would like that coupon taken off.  I think that I might just return one of the items with the $0.75 coupon and buy it again with the coupon to make sure it works this time :)

    Total OOP $7.50
    Total Savings $45.94 + $6.00 Cereal RC= $51.94

    Harris Teeter Triples...learning math all over again!!!

    I can do Super Doubles in my sleep with changing coupons to the total value but starting on the first day of triples, I had to keep pulling out the calculator to figure out the math.  It has been so long since triples that I just wasn't ready.  I guess I need to do triple math during the year to stay limber :)

    I was also away right before and did no couponing work to get ready.  My coupon basket was a mess with lots of expired coupons and overflowing.  I didn't have any lists organized on what coupons I had!!  I had nothing pulled out and ready to use!!  But I had to drag myself to the store quickly before running to physical therapy so I only had a little bit of time to work with. 

    Here is what I got:

    I used a rain check on Dixie Crystals Sugar and Land O Lakes Cage Free eggs but the rest were on sale this week.    The only things that worked out free were the sugar and the Mahatma Saffron Rice.  I didn't get a lot but I was glad that I got to go with the small amount of time in my schedule.

    I got lots of great deals including the last minute addition of the Franks because the couponing manager at the store gave me his Franks coupon and got a ladder to get the bottle off the shelf :)  It pays to be nice to all the employees when they hand you coupons!!!

    Total OOP $9.47
    Total Savings $36.91 + $2.84 Sugar RC + $3.99 Eggs= $43.74

    Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

    My family had been asking for cinnamon rolls for weeks and I made them the mini cinnamon rolls which I think held them off but we passed Cinnabon in the mall and they started salavating.  They both wanted one and I told my husband that I really was going to make them some so I had to follow through.  I got home and looked at the recipe that I usually use and realized that we were out of shortening!!  UGH!  I had just recently looked at another recipe from Money Saving Mom and I decided that it was fate to try this new bread machine cinnamon roll recipe.

    After finishing dinner, I grabbed all of the ingredients to make sure that I had enough of everything for this recipe and it luckily turned out that I did!

    I put all the ingredients in order and put them in the bread machine.  It started mixing up everything really quickly and I was hoping for the best because if I didn't follow through, I don't think that Cinnabon is open at 6 am which is when my crew will be wanting breakfast.  Luckily, the bread dough rose great.

    I rolled out the dough.  My normal recipe has you flour the counter before you roll it out so that they don't stick but this one didn't.  I think that I would flour the counter next time because it was a little hard to roll the dough up.  Then, instead of melting butter as this recipe called for (and my recipe did), I spread the butter on the dough.  It is way less messy to roll up the dough without the melted butter.

    Then, I sprinkled with a pre-mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

    I rolled the dough up so that it was ready to be cut.  I cut the dough in half and then cut each half in half to try to get more even pieces.  I normally start at the end and work my way across but I end up with a variety of different sizes so this way worked much better. 

    I buttered the bottom of the pan.

    Then, coated with a generous sprinkling of brown sugar.  This is not in the original recipe from Money Saving Mom but rather from my husband's cinnamon roll recipe because I didn't want to stray too much from his favorite recipe. 

    I ended up with enough to fill three pans.  I was thinking that would be great because I could freeze one and we could have it later.

    We decided to cook one up that night to try and then saved the rest for the morning.  The finished product was beautiful and it tasted amazing!!!

     I topped it with my remaining cream cheese icing that I had made in the freezer.  Sorry for the dark picture but it was 11 pm by the time that these came out of the oven and we were digging in.  Just the right thing to eat before going to bed right?  HAHA!!!

    I hope that you make this cinnamon roll recipe soon.  Don't tell my husband but I might use this dough recipe next time :)  I cooked the one pan the night that I made the dough, the second pan the next morning for breakfast and the third pan the next morning for breakfast so none made it into the freezer but lots made it into our bellies!!!

    Please make sure you check out the original recipe at Money Saving Mom because even though I used her dough recipe, I followed my husband's methods for the rest of the construction so you should see her results too!!

    Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls


    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm milk
    3 tablespoons canola oil
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup sugar
    4 cups flour (Add a bit more if dough seems too wet after first few minutes of kneading in the bread machine.)
    1 teaspoon salt
    3 teaspoons bread machine yeast

    6-8 tablespoons butter (or more to spread)
    Cinnamon and Sugar mixture
    Brown Sugar to Taste
    Icing: Used Cream Cheese icing but here is the original recipe:
    1 teaspoon milk
    1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
    4 tablespoons (or less) butter, softened
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Put the dough ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed and run on the dough cycle. After the dough cycle is finished, roll the dough into a large rectangle and spread it with butter and cover completely with cinnamon and sugar mixture leaving the edges exposed so that the roll will stick together.  Add brown sugar to taste if you want to here.

    Roll up and cut into 12-20 rolls and place in one greased sheet pan or two smaller greased pans coated in butter and thin layer of brown sugar. In order to get even rolls, cut in the middle of the roll and then the middle of both sides because it helps to make small chunks to work with.  Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until browned. Spread the icing on as soon as they come out of the oven so that it melts into the cracks or save to add later when reheating.

    You can also cover the unbaked rolls with plastic wrap, stick them in the refrigerator overnight, and then bake in the morning.  I even had one go until the next day and it was as good at the first two!!

    Hidden Summit Book Review

    Hidden Summit (Virgin River) by Robyn Carr was luckily sitting on my nightstand when I finished the last book.  I picked it up and read it in less than a day again!  I am telling you that it is like a movie or a TV show that you say that you are going to just watch 10 more minutes of but you can't put it on pause and you end up eating leftovers for dinner because you didn't leave enough time to make dinner!!!  So watch out before you start because it is hard to put them down.

    In this book, Conner Danson moves to Virgin River because he is the only eye witness to a mob hit on a man behind his hardware store.  The hardware store later is burned to the ground so the DA puts him in protective custody and moves him with his new identity to Virgin River to wait out the trial.  They also move his sister and twin boys to Vermont which couldn't be farther from his new California home.

    Leslie Petruso, escaping a strange divorce, moves to Virgin River to work for Paul's construction company.  She worked for them in Grants Pass for 10 years and were very excited to get her to come to help in the new office.  Leslie worked wonders on the office getting it cleaned up and organized quickly.

    Conner and Leslie meet and fall in love even though they both say that they aren't looking for anything serious.  Love takes over quickly and doesn't give them a chance.  During their relationship, Conner has to tell Leslie that his name and some other information is a lie because he was there under the protection of the DA so that he could testify against a murderer.  Pick up the book to find out what Leslie's reaction was to the news!!

    I hope that you check out this series and others by Robyn Carr.  They are super light reading and perfect for the summer relaxing!  Pick one up and rest by the pool while you are reading (okay it is getting really hot here already and I am not prepared).  Good thing I have a few books to read!!

    Thursday, April 25, 2013

    Kids Science: What makes plants grow?

    Whether looking for something educational or something entertaining, growing grass seed fits the bill.  My son didn't even know that he was learning science and responsibility in one activity.  We got this kit from the library program on science for kids but it is super easy to make your own.

    There are only a few necessary items including:  4 small cups (like a little condiment cup) with holes in the bottom so that the water can go through and drain, 4 lids to act as bases to the cups, dirt and seeds.  Here they are with the grass already growing.  I didn't think to take a picture before we started because we were both so excited to get started.

    Then, you make cards for each of the four cups for the different weather conditions.  Each card is set next to the cup so that the kids know whether it is sun or shade and whether to water it.  Here is a picture of the cards that we used.

    Check these out or look for your own for rain clouds or sun by clicking on the link below them!

    Source of rain                                       Source of Sun

    We took a notebook and made observations after the first (and only) container started to grow.  We drew 4 circles on the page and drew what they looked like inside the cup.

    Then my son crossed through the signs to match the signs on the plants.

    When we were done with the pictures, we determine that the only one that was growing was in the sun and getting water so we thought that we should put them all in the sun and give them water.  Shortly after, all of them started grow.  My son was still excited by "his grass" but wasn't interested in watching them grow anymore so they are going to be transplanted into the yard somewhere. 

    I hope that this sounds like something fun that you can do with your kids.  There are tons of variations on the plan but I think that it is neat they learn that sun and water is needed for growing plants.  If you are growing a garden, it would be fun to plant some seeds and see if they grow because the kids maybe interested in them a little longer especially if food starts appearing!!

    If you don't have plastic cups with lids, use any container that you have around the house or make your own out of a toilet paper or paper towel roll.  Here are some directions:

    1.  Flatten the roll a little.

    2.  Make cuts in the bottom so that they can be sealed up (at least four maybe more depending on the cardboard)

    3.  Fold to make container

    4.  Fill with soil and get ready to plant!!

    These can be used to make lots of seedlings at the end of the winter so that you can plant when the weather turns warm or for a great science experiment but make sure you keep them on a waterproof surface because the bottom is going to get a little more messy.

    **Hint:  If you have little ones watering, I gave mine the measuring top of the medicine container so that he wouldn't over water the plants.  If you give them a big cup or a watering can, you could have your whole house watered!!  Good luck and happy planting!!

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013

    Easy Honey Wheat Bread

    I was set that I was going to make something new today but I didn't want to make cookies...mostly because I wanted to eat all the dough so it was for my own sanity (and healthy diet).  I remembered a loaf of Easy Honey Wheat Bread that sounded good from the The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking: Decorating, Dining, and the Gratifying Pleasures of Self-Sufficiency--on a... by Kate Payne

    I pulled up the recipe and followed the easy directions.  I normally make bread in the bread machine but I had two envelopes of the yeast that wasn't for the bread maker so it seemed like as good a reason as any to try my hand at making bread without the machine.

    I put the yeast and the water in the large bowl.  Doesn't look like much right?

    I added the dry ingredients in the instructions and I stirred them with a fork.  It was a little lumpy and I was starting to panic that this couldn't possibly make bread. 

    I added the liquid ingredients and stirred again.  It was really sticky.  I scooped up 1/2 of bread flour and I added a little at a time and mixed in the flour and kneaded the dough.  I got a ball of dough that was still a little sticky but able to be handled.  I removed the ball and oiled the bowl with 1 tsp of oil and rolled the dough around so all the sides were covered.

    I moistened the towel and let the dough rest and rise.  I peak a few times during the day to make sure.  After ten hours, I took the dough and kneaded it for about a minute in the bowl.  I pinched together the bottom and put it in the pan.  I covered it and left it in the semi-cooled oven after I made dinner.  I rose up really nicely in about an hour and a half.

    It was all ready to be baked so I preheated the oven and started the process at 450 degrees for 10 minutes and then lowered the oven to 350 degrees.  It browned up with the first 10 minutes and I waited patiently (or as patiently as one can when they are really tired and baking bread at almost midnight).  The final product was really lovely.

    I took it out of the pan immediately and let it rest on the counter.

    I was glad to try a slice for breakfast the next morning.

    My major note is that I don't mind the waiting time but getting this all done in one day is hard and getting my energy up at night to mix up the dough so that I can make it in the morning is also difficult.  I think that I need to time it better to be mixing up the bread while I am in the kitchen making dinner so that it will be ready to bake in the morning and I don't have to make a special trip to the kitchen.  Although a really easy recipe, it was a little tough since I finally got to it in the morning and spent the rest of the day waiting.  Make at night so that the 8-10 hours of rising happens over night so you too aren't up at midnight baking bread before going to sleep!!

    Check out the recipe below and I hope that you try to make this soon.  No special equipment needed and it is super easy to make.

    Easy Honey Wheat Bread

    From the Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking by Kate Payne

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the following:

    1 packet of active dry yeast
    ¼ c room temp water

    Let this sit for 5 minutes and then add the following dry ingredients:

    1 c whole wheat flour
    ¾ c unbleached bread flour
    1 ½ tsp salt

    Combine the following in a measuring cup and add it to your mixture:

    ¼ c cold water
    1 tbsp honey dissolved to a liquid in ¼ c boiled water
    1 tbsp melted butter or 2 tsp olive oil

    At this point the dough will be sticky and difficult to stir.  I usually dump it on the clean counter and add up to ½ c unbleached bread flour by the tbsp until the dough no longer sticks to your hands or the countertop.

    Knead for 10 minutes, flattening your dough, folding it over like a taco, smashing it down, and repeating the process.

    Add 1 tsp of olive oil to a coat a medium sized mixing bowl.  Place your dough ball in the bowl.  Then flip it so both sides of the dough are glazed with oil.  Cover it with a slightly damp towel and leave it on the counter overnight or for 8-12 hours.

    Phase 2:

    Grease one medium sized loaf pan with butter or olive oil.

    Dump the dough onto the counter,  Knead it for a minute then shape it to be the length of your loaf pan.  Peel the dough off the counter and fold it lengthwise like a taco, pincing together the seam and placing it seam down into your loaf pan.

    Cover with a damp towel or greased plastic wrap and stick the loaf pan in the cool over, keeping the oven off.  If you have gas, the pilot creates the perfect temp for the final rise.  If you have electric, turn the oven on 200 degrees and when it reaches that temperature, turn it off.  Stick the loaf in after the oven has been off for at least 10 minutes.  Let rise for an hour and a half.

    Remove the loaf from oven and preheat to 450 degrees.  Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees then reduce heat to 35o degrees and bake for 20 minutes or until the inside temperature of the loaf reaches 190 degrees.  Remove the loaf from the pan and let it cool before slicing it.

    Redwood Bend Book Review

    Redwood Bend (Virgin River) by Robyn Carr was the next in the Virgin River series for me to read.  I was so excited that I had picked up a third one because I normally just get two at a time but this one was on the shelf when I was at the library so I figured that I would get it too.  I just didn't know how quickly I would get it read.  Again, it was a page turner that was hard to put down!!

    In this book, Dylan visits Virgin River with a motorcycle group of his friends from his small airport.  On the way into town, they run into Katie who has broken down on the side of the road and can't get the lug nuts off the tire.  Dylan and his friends come and help her change her tire.  Katie is instantly drawn to Dylan.  Then, she sees him again in town.  He pursues her and she tells him that there is no chance for a fling because she has to protect her boys.  After awhile, Dylan wears Katie down by taking the whole family to McDonalds, movies and many more trips around the local area.  He tries to see her while the boys are in school so that he can get some time alone with her.  Katie's resistance to the relationship finally drops and Dylan ends up staying in town for a month to be with her.  He has to leave when he finally gets the meeting in LA that he was waiting for and Katie is left heartbroken.  I don't want to ruin the rest of the story but you really should pick it up and see what happens next!!!

    I hope that you take this opportunity to check out this series.  I only have two more books left in the series so I will probably be done with it really soon, possibly before the end of the month.  I am always excited to start the next book but I am going to be super sad when there are no more books left to go!!  Any suggestions on what I should read next??

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    Herb Crackers with cheese and garlic

    I wanted to make some more crackers so I decided to try another recipe that I found in The Zero-Waste Lifestyle: Live Well by Throwing Away Less by Amy Korst and see how these herb crackers tasted. 

    I mixed up the dry ingredients in a bowl and looked at the recipe to see the different options for the flavors so I decided to go with the cheddar and garlic.  It seemed like it would be a tamer version of my previous cheese crackers.

    Then, I added the liquid ingredients and it pulled together into this big ball of dough.

    I had to refrigerate it for a little bit until I was ready to roll and cut the crackers.  When I got the dough out, I separated it into 4 balls.  I took one ball and rolled it out on my silpat and the rest I left in the bowl (sorry for the dark picture but this happen late at night so there wasn't a lot of light).

    I rolled the dough as thin as I could get it.  With my limited rolling skills, the dough was less than square or round.  I don't know what shape I would call that but it was mostly a blob.

    Then I used the pastry wheel and cut the dough into cracker sized pieces.  I spread them all out on the silpat to assure that they would cook evenly.  I sprinkled with salt and put them into the oven to bake.

    I got a pan filled with the crackers that were just a little browner around the outside.

    Final review, I didn't like the crackers because they weren't really flaky.  They were a little crispy and a little chewy but not really tasty.  I think that they would make good croutons or good in soup.  Sadly, it is now really hot here so I am hoping for a cold day to eat some soup.  I don't think that I would recommend the recipe but here it is in case you are interested in trying it.  Hopefully yours will turn out better!!

    Herb Crackers

    from Zero Waste Lifestyle

    2 ½ c flour
    3 tsp salt
    4 tbsp olive oil
    ¾ c cold water
    Kosher salt for sprinkling on top

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Combine the flour, herbs, and salt in a bowl.  Add the oil and water; mix with a fork until the dough comes together into a ball.  Add more water as necessary to form a rough dry dough.

    On lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and knead just until it comes together into a cohesive ball.  Divide into four even portions.

    On a silicone mat or piece of parchment paper, roll out the dough as thin as possible until it is nearly the size of the baking sheet.

    Cut the dough into squares and prick each square two or three times with a fork.  Sprinkle with coarse salt.

    Place the silicone mat or parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Repeat this process with the remaining dough.

    Let the crackers cool.  Store in a tightly covered container.

    Options:  dill and caraway seeds, grated Parmesan and basil, rosemary and sage, cumin and cayenne, garlic and onion powder.

    For cheese crackers, use garlic powder for the seasoning and stir in ½ c grated cheddar cheese with the dry ingredients.