Sunday, June 30, 2013

Weekly Goals 6/30

I had my long list of things to do this week and trying to figure out what else needed to be done during the week.  Then I found out it was super doubles!!!  What?!  There goes the week.  I know that I have a bunch of rain checks and things to get from last time and lots of coupons that are burning a hole in my pocket! 

I had a bunch of trips to the store and got lots of deals and lots of stuff for free.  Our family favorite was the ice cream which we don't normally have in the house and we are really enjoying the small Milky Way ice bars.  They are the perfect size to give to my little guy which means that he isn't eating too much and it doesn't make that much mess.  I think that we are going to have to save some to make it through the summer. 

How was your week??

Last week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family- We had a good week with lots of time together.  I know that next week will bring even more quality time.
  • Stories by Hand learning sign language- We really enjoyed this program and hope to do it again this summer.
  • Legos at the library- We had a blast playing with road lego pieces and cars since we don't have anything like that at home.
  • Welcome Summer storytime- We actually cancelled this one so that we could go to the Spray fountain in Fairfax instead.  Little man had a blast and I got way too much sun.
  • Vroom!  Things that Go Storytime- An amazing storytime with three books about trains, cars, and more followed by legos, blocks with cars and puzzles.  There was fun during the stories and so much fun playing with blocks.  We didn't even get to the other stations.
  • Uno, Dos, Tres Andres music- It was overrun with the bigger kids from a camp that were a little too wild but we always enjoy Andres.  I just wish we got a chance to enjoy it without all the chaos.
  • My Gym Camp- Little man had a blast and this week had a circus theme which he loved.  I think that he was super enjoying time with friends and he didn't want to leave.
  • Swimming with friends- We were supposed to go with friends but they had a work emergency so we came up with a million other things to do with our day but we put off going swimming to another week.
  • Show at Mason District park- Planning on the weekends is against my better nature because I am exhausted after having such a busy week but we now have a fun thing to do on Saturday morning so I am hoping that my husband and I take turns going so that we both get a break to sleep in and relax.  This week we all went as a family.
Personal Goals
  • Cut coupons- Can you believe that I got this cut early in the week so that I would be ready for super doubles at Harris Teeter?  Well, I did.  I was pretty excited to get everything cleaned up!!
  • Get coupons on Friday- I had to keep reminding myself that it was Friday to make sure that I got the newspapers.  We had tons of things to do or at least things that we could do so I decided to write a list and make sure that we remembered newspapers!! They didn't have them so my husband had to stop on the way home from work and get them.  Luckily, we remembered.
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy- I have been shutting off my computer as much as possible.  My computer is overheating way too much. I tried to tell my husband that I needed a new one or at least moving my information to another one that we already have... I think that I will have to work on him a little longer but maybe with the time off next week, I might have a chance.
  • Finish reading Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life by Gail Blanke- I read and posted the review
  • Start reading Unusual Uses for Olive Oil: A Professor Dr von Igelfeld Entertainment Novel (4) by Alexander McCall- I started reading it and I just had trouble reading it in all the normal places with my really loud son so I only made progress at night which made it a little harder to get through.  I made some progress and I hope to finish it tomorrow on the way to the beach.
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week- I cleaned the kitchen for most of the week except I didn't clean the floor every day.  I think that once it gets to a certain point it takes me a lot more to get cleaning but I didn't have a lot of time to get all of that done in the morning before we did our errands.  I was going to do it one night but it seemed silly to clean the floor while I was cooking dinner.  Not to say that our kitchen floor was dirty but I just like to keep it crumb free which is a little hard with a four year old that drags everything in and drops as much as possible.  The other day he decided instead of picking up the cereal that he dropped that he would push it under the cabinets so that it wasn't in the way.
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- I made a declaration for leftover night on Thursday night and I cleaned out the fridge and then did all of the dishes including emptying the dishwasher, filling it back up and all of the dishes from cooking.  I got the kitchen totally clean and I was super excited to be able to start off the next morning with a clean kitchen and hopefully a good morning.
Blog Goals

  • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family)- Done
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)- Done
  • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week- Done
  • Post Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip- Done
This week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family at the beach
  • Groovy Nate
  • Play with grandma and grandpa (maybe Burke Lake Park train, spray park and more)
  • Play at the playground
  • 4th of July BBQ with Aunt Kim
  • Show at Mason District park
Personal Goals
  • Cut coupons
  • Get coupons on Friday
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy
  • Finish reading current book by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Start reading book for review and a fun beach book
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, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip

    Painted Ladies Book Review

    Painted Ladies (Spenser) by Robert B. Parker this was the last of the Spenser series written before Robert Parker passed away.  This is bitter sweet making it to the end of a great series. I am interested to see how this book goes and I am assuming that it doesn't resolve the whole series but leaves it hanging because I have seen some other books that I am interested in investigating that have the same characters but are written by other authors.  I guess we will see what this book will hold as well as the future of the characters with other authors.
    In this book, Spenser is hired to protect Dr. Ashton Prince, an artist expert, while he exchanges a stolen picture for a ransom.  During the exchange, Dr. Prince is killed.  Since Spenser doesn't like to have people he is protecting hurt or killed, he took on the investigation pro bono and worked until he found the truth.  It was a really hard investigation linking back to the Holocaust.  The information is fascinating and it is another great story, as the whole series has been, and there are multiple attempts on Spenser life through the investigation which is always interesting to see the creative ways that people have to stop him from getting into things that they don't want him to uncover.  Pick up the book and see what he uncovers in this one!!

    I really enjoyed the book and I hope that you will to.  If you haven't picked up this book or any in the series, I highly suggest you do because they are highly entertaining and full of great characters.  I hope that you check them out at your local bookstore or library!!!  Let me know what you think!!

    Saturday, June 29, 2013

    Spicy Szechuan Noodles

    I decided that I was going to make an Asian dish with my leftover chicken and figure out a way to spice it up!  I really want to make more Asian cuisine but I am horrible when it comes to cooking because I always tend towards Mexican or Italian.  I opened up four different recipes that I had saved on my computer and started figuring out what I had in the house that I could mix all the recipes together and make a yummy dish. 

    I started by making chili oil.  I got out the oil and dumped in a ton of red pepper flakes.  I put it in the microwave for 15 seconds and then let it sit on the counter for most of the day.  The flakes settle to the bottom but it still looks about the same.  I didn't measure anything so I am sorry about that but I just dumped it in and then added a little more for a good measure!

    The other thing that the recipe asked for was tahini which is sesame seed paste.  I didn't have any of that so I searched the internet and found a recipe to make it.  I pulled out the ingredients which were salt, toasted sesame seed oil, sesame seeds and water.

    That did not turn out right.  I haven't seen sesame seed paste but I am taking the educated guess that it should look like a paste.  Mine looked like water or some disgusting protein drink.  I dumped it out and started over again with another recipe and little more common sense.

    I toasted sesame seeds in a pan.  I blended until they were a fine powder...probably not fine enough but I didn't know what I was doing.  Add the oil and mixed some more to get an actual paste.  It looked like natural peanut butter when I was done.

    Read ahead and I shouldn't have taken the effort to take this out of the blender but of course I did!  The sauce ingredients all get dumped in the blender and mixed.  I was working with what I had at home and I actually just started jotting down what I was throwing in the blender while I was doing it.  You should see the paper (but that would tell you how messy a cook I am so I am keeping it a secret).  The final sauce looked like this.  I did have to remove the chunks of the garlic clove that didn't get blended.  It smelled a lot like garlic but I was sure it was going to be good.

    I put the spaghetti noodles on the stove to cook.  Again, this is a frugal recipe to use what you have at home.  Most of the recipes called for fancy Asian noodles but I figure that this is close enough to lo mein that it would be tasty and I had it on hand.

    I cut up all the leftover chicken in the fridge and threw them in the pan to warm up.  If you have leftover chicken for dinner, you can always throw them into a bag and put them in the freezer to pull out when you have enough to make a dish like this but we had a ton which is why I was looking for a chicken recipe.  None of the recipes called for chicken but again, working with what I got!  I had some teriyaki, Italian and some other flavors but the sauce was so strong that it covered them all up.

    Then, I added thinly cut celery to the pan.  I would have added snow peas or sugar snap peas but I didn't have any in the house.  I added the sauce to the pan.  It was a little thick so I added some more soy sauce because mine mostly leaked out of the blender while I was mixing and I added a little rice wine vinegar until it was the consistency that I thought would work.

    Most recipes call for you to serve this cold but I like hot food.  I don't want to eat a cold pasta dinner when I could have a hot one.  I added the hot drained pasta and tossed until coated.

    Here is the final dish which we ate seconds and thirds!  There were leftovers which I had the next day for lunch.  YUM!

    It was super yummy and nice and spicy!  I would totally make it again....hoping to not be as messy next time!  I don't know what it is about me and new recipes but I always make a mess in the kitchen.  I hope that you try it too.  Remember to work with what you have and change the recipe to fit what you have left in the house.

    Spicy Szechuan Noodles

    3-4 tbsps sesame paste
    4 cloves of garlic
    1/4 c soy sauce
    1/4 tsp ginger
    2 tbsp peanut butter
    1/4 c hot chili oil
    1 tsp sesame oil
    Squeeze of honey
     Dash of cayenne (to taste)

    Spaghetti (or other noodle)
    Cooked Chicken
    Rice Vinegar
    Soy Sauce

    Add first 9 ingredients to blender and mix until smooth.

    Cook spaghetti per the package directions.  Add cooked chicken to pan (or cook in pan) until heated.  Add any veggies to cook.  Add sauce to pan and add rice vinegar and soy sauce until it gets to thickness.

    Drain pasta and add to sauce pan.  Toss until covered and serve.  Hot or cold!!

    The Professional Book Review

    The Professional (Spenser) by Robert B. Parker was the next book in the Spenser series.  Can you believe how close I am to the end of the series?  I guess reading over 10 books a month gets you there faster than normal especially when you are focused on the series. 

    In this book, Spenser is hired to help stop a blackmailer.  A lawyer comes to see him who is representing four women who have slept with the same man.  They are now being blackmailed or else videos and photos are going to be released to their husbands.  None of the women want their husbands to know about the affairs but none of them have the money without the husbands.  Spenser works his magic and gets the blackmailer to stop going after these four women and you would think that the book is over but there is still a bunch of the book left!  I couldn't believe all the twists and turns but you should pick up this book and see!!

    I loved this book!!  I know that I feel like the last book I read is the best but I really liked this one.  I am happy to see that the quality of books has been consistent through the whole series.  I can't wait to get the next one which I put on reserve at the library because currently, I have no library books on my shelf.  I had three at the start of the week and I finished them all super fast.  I am super excited to get to the next book soon so I am hoping that the library comes through quickly!!

    Friday, June 28, 2013

    Mile High Buttermilk Biscuits

    I was reading a new blog the other day and found a bunch of new recipes that I really wanted to try out (make sure you check out Deals to Meals).  The first one Ruth's Diner Mile High Biscuits which looked amazing and used all ingredients that I had in the house.  Plus, I was having my sister in law over for dinner so I figured that it would be good with a yummy steak dinner, even though she loves my corn bread but I thought it was time for a change.

    I pulled out all the ingredients.

    I put the dry ingredients in the bowl and started to make the homemade buttermilk.  I measured a little shy of 3/4 cup and added a tablespoon of vinegar.  It sat on the counter for at least 10 minutes while I did the rest of the recipe.

    I used my pastry blender to mix in the butter.  I used to use a fork to mix it in and my mom bought this pastry blender for me when she found it on clearance at Target for $2.  What a bargin and I use it at least once a week.  It works a lot better than a fork!!  I cut the butter into the dry ingredients and then I mixed.

    I know that I am done when the butter stops sticking to the pastry blender and it looks a lot like the dry ingredients because you can't even see the butter.

    Then, I add the buttermilk and mixed together with a fork and then pressed together.  If I had to do it again, I think that they might turn out better if I hadn't used the fork to mix.  It came together to a nice dough.

    I pressed the dough out since I didn't need to roll it to get the needed thickness.  I even got a ruler out to measure the thickness.  Mine were a little thinner than the recipe but I figured that it was good enough and then I wouldn't over work the dough so I cut them with my 2 5/8 inch biscuit cutter.

    I pushed the dough back together until I used up all the dough.  I sprayed the baking sheet with non stick cooking spray and placed the biscuits touching on the sheet.  I made 12 biscuits with the dough.

    Then, I baked them for 12 minutes and they were lightly browned on the top.  Since this was a new recipe, I made it a little farther before dinner and I was going to reheat the biscuits when it was time for dinner.

    I decided that it was the best idea if I did a taste test to make sure that they were safe for consumption :)  I split open a hot biscuit and saw the flaky insides.  Doesn't it look pretty??

    I added butter.  Doesn't it make it look even better.  Guess what, that isn't everything!!

    Lastly, I added some blackberry jelly before digging in!!  It was amazing.

    I hope that you check out the original recipe on Deals to Meals and my recipe listed below.  I hope that you makes these soon and see how yours turn out. 

    Next time, I am going to make them a little thicker and I am going to brush a little butter on the top before baking!  I think that these are a fun recipe that you can use for breakfast, lunch or dinner!!  Plus, a great snack with jelly on top :)  I made them for dinner and ate the leftovers for dinner.  I think that they would be perfect to make big batches and freeze the extra to have when you need them.  I hope that I can add this to my list after I clean out my fridge.  It would be a super yummy breakfast treat whenever I wanted them!!

    Buttermilk Biscuits

    3 c. flour
    1 1/2 t. salt
    1 T. sugar
    1 1/2 t. baking powder
    1 stick butter
    3/4 c. buttermilk
    (or homemade buttermilk*)
    1 egg
    1/4 c. water
    maximum (I only used a few drops)

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and butter until crumbly. Mix in buttermilk, egg and just enough water to make a workable dough. Mix the dough until it is just barely combined (don't over mix). Press the dough onto a floured counter to about 1 inch thick. Cut with a 2 5/8 inch biscuit cutter, (or a round glass). Place on a greased baking sheet (touching each other) and bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 12-15 biscuits, depending how thick you make them.

    * Measure a little less than 3/4 cup milk and add 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice and let sit for 5 minutes.

    Tips to making awesome biscuits:

    -The best way to mix this dough is with a pastry cutter or using two knives or forks and cutting the dough back and forth. This method takes a little longer than an electric mixer but will ensure the perfect biscuit. You want pieces of butter left in your biscuit, that is what keeps the dough light and flaky.

    -Next tip is to keep your biscuit dough fairly thick. You want a tall and thick biscuit more than you do a thin and hard biscuit. Keeping the dough thick will ensure a chewy and soft biscuit. (cooking times may vary depending how thick you make them).

    Thursday, June 27, 2013

    Thrifty Thursday: Using reusable plates

    I think that the ideas for Thrifty Thursday posts really come to me a few at a time but then I seem stuck that I don't know what other new ideas I have.  Should I come up with a few ideas a day that I can share with you?  Well, I feel like the things that I do aren't really ideas but seem like common sense.  Of course, they are only common sense if you learned exactly the same things that I did growing up.  I know that you may have some great ideas that you learned through your growing up and I hope to share some ideas even if they are simple.

    It is summertime and the time for picnics and BBQs.  Normally, my plate and dishes are pottery (as I am sure you have seen in my food pictures).  We normally do our cookouts outside but eat inside with our regular pottery.  When I was a kid, we had the woven paper plate holders that we put under our paper plates to hold them so that they didn't bend and lose the plate under the pressure of all the food.  Did you guys use these things too?

    If we have a picnic or eat outside, I don't want to take the dishes outside to eat because I am afraid that they are going to get broken.  This is the time that most people go out and buy paper plates, especially if they have company coming over.  Do you usually buy paper plates for your summer BBQs? 

    I have to admit that I have a bunch of paper plates of different sizes, bowl, and plastic cups but I am trying to be more mindful of being frugal and green.  I have been using them up at different parties and picnics from the ones that I have built up over the years.  I have a few reusable plastic plates and I am going to get a set at Target (or two) in the dollar bins or at the Dollar Tree because the summer time is the perfect time to find those types for super cheap!!  They usually have sets of 2 or 4 that you can get and use all year round which makes for a super cheap reusable plate.  There is also a nice set at IKEA which are available all year round which even includes silverware.

    The great bonus is that now you don't have to worry about a paper plate folding in two while you over load your plate with treats.  In addition, the great part is having different colored plates so that everyone knows which one is theirs without wondering!!!  It also gives you something different then your normal dishes to have a little summer change.  We also have kid plates around the house which I am going to be pulling out.  Can't you see a group of adults around the BBQ eating off of cartoon plates?  It would make sure that people don't forget which plate is theirs!!!

    Want to be even better??  They also have matching cups for most of the plate sets!!  There are so many cute ones out there and I am having trouble picking but I am going to find some fun dishes to reuse.

    What do you use for picnics and BBQs?  Do you have a fear of your dishes breaking outside?  What choices are you going to make this year for picnics and BBQs?

    Wednesday, June 26, 2013

    A little disorganized trip to Harris Teeter for Super Doubles

    I knew that Super Doubles was coming so I spent some time preparing.  I took all of the coupons out that were expired to recycle them.  I cut all the coupons that I still had sitting in a pile that I hadn't cut yet.  I cleaned up my coupon basket considerably.  And then went a step farther and made a list of all of the coupons that I had that were over $1 in value so that I would know what I had when I was at the store.  I was really organized and ready to start shopping, right???

    WRONG!!!  I left the list at home on the counter, other coupons on the printer, and my list of coupons in the dining room.  I thought that I was more organized and ready to shop but it turns out that I was just more organized to know what deals I was missing.  HAHA!!  Well, I was determined to get a few things before the shelves were cleared.  I had a lot of things that I also had rain checks for so I thought if worse came to worse, I could get the things that I missed on the last sale.

    With the help of a four year old (I think that you can see his influence), I spend a lot time and a little money getting a few things that weren't really on the list.

    There were a few things that I picked out in there too but the juice boxes and Jello were all him.  Of course, they were all on sale and there were coupons so I have little to complain about except the nutritional value :)

    I was sad that I didn't get to use all my coupons allowed for the day but I did get two rain checks already on the first day of the sale.  I am hoping to get myself totally together because my son's first day of camp is in the morning.  I am going to have a nice leisurely trip around the store and get lots of good deals.  Especially if I don't make it back over there to use my last six coupons tonight (which is looking a little bleak).

    I hope that everyone had a good first day of super doubles and made out a little better than me!

    Total OOP $9.16
    Total Savings $47.25

    A Little Shopping mixed in with summer fun!

    My son and I were on another one of our marathon days of summer entertainment.  We spent the morning and some of the afternoon at the Fairfax Corner splash/spray fountain.  I was exhausted after being out in the sun and getting burnt but there was so much more to do :)  We were off to Aldi's because we were running low on milk and graham crackers.  My little man also felt that we needed mini twisty pretzels since we only had the thin stick ones (his words, not mine).  Then, I also grabbed the vegetable shortening because we were out.

    Total OOP $9.38

    On the way home, we stopped at CVS because my son was out of his vitamins.  He pointed that out to me the day before and we got so busy we forgot to stop.  Luckily, they were on sale Buy One, Get One Free.  We got two :)

    Total OOP $7.34
    Total Savings $6.99

    He had enough of getting in and out of the car (and got his vitamins as soon as we got in the car) so we were headed home.  Shopping with a four year old is challenging on a good day but on a tired and long day, late in the afternoon, it is the worst!  I was hoping that I can get more things done when he is in summer camp so that we don't have so many stops to shop :)

    Kid Reading: What Your Preschooler Needs to Know Book Review

    There was a display at the library (which I should have taken a picture of but didn't) that had a bunch of kids books on the bottom shelves and then parent books at the top.  What a great idea?!  The good stuff that you want the kids to read where they can see them and the books for the parents on the top so that you don't have to drag your kid to the grown up book section.  They should do this for all books...mystery books for kids with a top shelf of parents mystery books.  I am totally sold on the new way the whole library should be set up.  Can you tell that I don't get enough time there by myself anymore??

    Anyway, enough about me reorganizing the library system.  They had education books on top and there were a few that were super interesting.  I tried not to clear out the whole section but I did grab two or three and this book was one of the ones that I got.  What Your Preschooler Needs to Know: Get Ready for Kindergarten (Core Knowledge Series) by E. D. Hirsch Jr. gives a nice introduction about getting kids ready for school and how if they fall behind in the first few grades of school then they are going to have trouble catching up. 

    The book is separated into sections:


    In addition, there is an ending section with more details for the parents. It gives choosing a preschool for your child.  It gives a list of the things that your child should be able to do in order to be ready for kindergarten.  There is a section about reading aloud with your child and then another one with music with your preschooler.  The last part is probably the best section because it gives a list of books and music for preschoolers.

    I thought that the books was going to have more information for adults but it was mostly just stories to read along with your child.  It was a very good book and I think that everyone should take some time to read these old stories to their children.  It might not be a book that you read cover to cover to your child but I think that the poetry section is great!  I know that I had a lot of them when I was little but I didn't tell many of them to my child so it was a nice reminder of some things that we can read together and enjoy in a short time without having to read the same board books over and over! 

    I think that it will bring back memories for you and help your children learn at the same time.  I hope that you check out this book at your local library or bookstore so that you can see all the resources that they put together in one place for you to use!

    Shared on Juggling Act

    Tuesday, June 25, 2013

    Rough Weather Book Review

    Rough Weather (Spenser) by Robert B. Parker was the next in my pile that I got from the library.  Okay, there really wasn't a big pile because I only had two Spenser books in the pile.  I was trying to figure out which one to start with and realized that this was the next on the list.  I was interested to find out about what the rough weather was going to be that had to do with the wedding cake on the cover. 
    This book started off in a very strange manner because Heidi Bradshaw hired Spenser to accompany her to her daughter's, Adelaide, wedding but allowed him to bring Susan with him.  It seemed really strange to Spenser because he wasn't really sure what he was being hired to do but he went along with it.  While the wedding guests were being welcomed to the property, Spenser watched as they arrive and there was a familiar guest- Rugar, the gray man!  It seemed a little suspicious but Spenser still didn't know what he should be doing so he continued to do it.  After the wedding vows were said, Adelaide was kidnapped and the groom and minister were shot dead by Rugar.  Adelaide fainted and Rugar made Spenser carry her to the helicopter.  There was a terrible storm and the helicopter which was the escape route couldn't take off so the guests were all held hostage while they were waiting for the storm to pass.  Spenser confused the guard on the walk back to the church and pushed him off the side of the cliff.  He saved himself and then went to rescue Susan from the church.  In the confusion, the candles lighting the church blew out and then the hostages started to scramble for the doors.  Spenser got Susan and they hid out the night in the barn and were woken in the morning by the sound of the helicopter taking off.  After everyone was home and safe, Spenser decided that he was going to find Adelaide and figure out why Rugar was there doing a simple kidnapping job.
    It was quick moving from the beginning to the end.  I would love to say that the end was surprise but I did figure it out earlier in the book but it was still a good ending (even if a little predictable).  I love Robert Parker and this book was no exception.  It was action packed and filled with great characters.  I hope that you read this book and all the others in the Spenser season.  I hope that you pick up this book at your local library or bookstore soon!!!

    Monday, June 24, 2013

    How You Know When You Are Addicted to the Library....and what to do about it!

    I think that the first step is admitting that you have a problem so I am telling all of you that I have a problem.  I came to a point where I had read all of the books in my pile from the library (kept on my night stand in case I need a fix even while in bed).  I didn't reserve any new books and the other ones had a really long wait list and weren't in yet.  I started to get really worried (not lost your child in the shopping mall worried but still pretty concerned)!  I might have broken a sweat thinking what I am going to read tonight.

    Why didn't I reserve any books or get any more at the library??  I don't have a clue!!  I thought I did reserve more but I might have had a brain fart when I was on the computer one night.  I thought I might have had more books left but I didn't (I know becacuse I looked high and low).  I started to panic!  What am I going to do without books from the library.  I was pacing back in forth in my bedroom wearing paths into the new carpet.  Umm, how about that whole shelf of books that you haven't read yet at home. 

    What, read books I own??  There is a whole shelf of them and they were on my list to read this year too.  I guess I was just into finishing the two series that I was working on that I didn't think outside the box.  I did pick up a book that I bought many moons ago at a book sale (don't even know why I got it back then) and I read it.

    Wipe the sweat off my brow with the crisis averted.  I really enjoyed the Sulivan's Island book that I read (review posted here).  While reading it, I did rush to the library and grab handfuls of books to check out.  I also put a bunch of books on hold on the computer.  I had a really big pile on my night stand.

    So I might not actually have a handle on the problem!!!  I read the next two books from the library in two days.  Umm, I think that I needed my library book fix and I did slow down a little after that to reading and breathing but I have a problem with the library. 

    Does anyone else have this problem?  The great news is that it is a cheaper addiction but I think that means that I might never hit rock bottom.  I might just go to the library every day to get more books.  Well, the great news for those of you worried about me is that there is a limit of 50 books on my library card.  Sadly, I can't get all those 50 books because my son gets so many books and DVDs that I usually can only get a few at a time.  I still think that I need to turn this over to my higher power but I just don't know who is going to help :)

    I hope that you take this summer to get some books out of the library and wander around to new areas if you haven't been there in awhile.  I love my library and you will probably find me in every library through the county this summer between my reading habit and my sons!  Happy reading to all!!

    Menu Plan Monday 6/24

    Monday- Chicken Skewers (I have these flavored skewers to put chicken, yum)
    Tuesday- Olive Oil Pasta
    Wednesday-Citrus Herb with grapefruit Chicken with chicken rice
    Thursday- Frozen Sloppy Joes
    Friday- Leftover breaded chicken fingers
    Saturday- Leftovers/ ??
    Sunday- Leftovers/ ??

    Can you believe that it is already the end of the month?  Do you think that I cleaned out the freezer enough to defrost it?  I certainly hope so but there are not good odds in mym favor because that means that I had to stop shopping and buying things which seems to be near impossible for me!!  Stayed tuned to find out!

    Sunday, June 23, 2013

    Weekly Goals 6/23

    I thought that I had a slower week planned but I think that I added a little too much...well, mostly for me!!  I was exhausted.  My little guy was entertained but it took a lot for me to get through the day but we had something to do every day which is the main goal.  The hard part is not having a break to do all those things that are much easier to do without kids.  Luckily, this week brings summer camp and I get a day to relax or do errands all to myself.  I think that I better figure out what I am going to do!!

    Last week:

    Family Goals
    • Spend time with family including Grandpa coming to visit- Grandpa dropped off some things early in the week and then came back on the weekend and little man was happy to see him.
    • By the Sea Storytime- We enjoyed the stories and we also got to make a fish out of a paper plate.  We also ran into a friend there so we went to the park with them afterwards.
    • Preschool Storytime- I don't often sign up for afternoon storytimes but I decided to try and my little man fell asleep so I cancelled us going here.
    • Storytime at Pottery Barn- We went to a farther to a different storytime to meet up with a mom from our new mom's group (but she didn't show up) and we went to see the story person (who wasn't there) but we heard four stories and it was entertaining enough followed by a few stores and then the play area before heading home.
    • Sing Along with Liz- I don't think that I knew what I was signing up for but it was entertaining even though my little man wasn't in the mood to sign and dance.  I still think that he was entertained.  We also went to the park afterwards for added fun!
    • Puppet Show- We went and learned about the five senses, fossils and dinosaurs.  It was entertaining and I think that my little man enjoyed it a lot although there was a lot of talk of how dead was different then extinct which was a little weird but overall we enjoyed it.
    • Lee District Spray park- Here is hoping that this is one of many trips to the Spray park this summer but we are already over a month in and this is the first time that we are making it there so time will only tell if we are too busy!  We went to the playground first and then I waited in line while the kids played at the playground.  My little man lasted an hour before shivering and we went and had lunch!
    • Birthday party at My Gym- We have been collecting lots of different presents for my little man's best friend and finally got a book written by a friend of ours for her big gift.  We were all set to go and have lots of fun at My Gym which was even better because we didn't have class this week so my little man was be excited to get back and see friends from school that he hasn't seen in a month.  He had a blast!!!
    • One Man Band Music group- We didn't go but went an got potatoes at Shoppers, return at Walmart, get gift cards at Target, and a few more errands before the little one crashed in his little seat and we headed home for naptime.
    Personal Goals
    • Cut coupons- I started cutting on Thursday morning and then finished one insert on Thursday evening before dinner (to clear the table from my mess) but I still had two left to do before picking up new papers at the library on Friday.  I felt like beat the clock!! I didn't get to the second one until Friday and then I had half of one left to sort and cut which I didn't get done but I am doing it on Sunday.  Might not be a total win but I am counting it as a good effort!
    • Get coupons on Friday- I ran into CVS after going to the spray park and grabbed a pile!  YEAH!
    • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy- I have shut off the computer lots since I knew that we were going to be gone for most of the days.  I have had it off every night too!
    • Start reading Painted Ladies and then an organization book- I read the Painted Ladies book which I finished in one day and then I started on Starting Now which I finished in one day.  A little fast start to the week before starting the organization book (almost done).
    Home Management Goals
    • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week- I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned but I think that my kitchen needs a vacation from me cooking.  I got it as clean as I could every day but I felt like there were piles of dishes that were going to attack :)
    • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- Ah Ha!  We got all the dishes done on Sunday night so that the week started off great with a super clean kitchen on Monday.  If I could only stop making a mess long enough to have a clean kitchen, it would be great.  I had a clean kitchen and then we decided that we needed chocolate chip cookies so it was a mess again with more dishes. 
    Blog Goals

    • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family)- Done
    • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)- Reviews are scheduled
    • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week- I have the rest of the month all set up and working on some ideas for next month.
    • Post Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, and Thrifty Thursday Tip- Done
    This week:

    Family Goals
    • Spend time with family
    • Stories by Hand learning sign language
    • Legos at the library
    • Welcome Summer storytime
    • Vroom!  Things that Go Storytime
    • Uno, Dos, Tres Andres music
    • My Gym Camp
    • Swimming with friends
    • Show at Mason District park
    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 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, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip

      Sullivan's Island Book Review

      Sullivan's Island (Lowcountry Tales) by Dorothea Benton Frank was sitting on my shelf waiting to be read for ages.  I got it at a book sale years ago and still hadn't read it because I had been checking out so many books from the library.  I actually ran out of library books and started to panic but luckily there was something that was staring me in the face.  I am super excited to pick up this book.
      The book was about Susan Hayes growing up in Sullivan's Island, SC and living her adult life going through a divorce.  It went back and forth between the past and the present with different chapters and the date was nicely written at the top so you didn't get confused :) Susan's husband cheated on her with a young woman just a little older than their daughter.  She was crushed when she came home at lunchtime to get some paperwork that she needed for a presentation and found her husband in their bedroom with his mistress.  He packed up and left the house that night.  It took Susan months to get her life back together with the help of her daughter and sister and the peace of Sullivan's Island.   
      There is a little bit of a Southern dialect in the book which is a little hard to read at first but then I started reading it like I had been speaking that way all along.  I almost said iffn I did something out loud.  Do you think that I would have gotten a few fun looks??  Although the Southern dialect is in there, it adds to the value of the book and makes you feel like you are there.

      I thought it was such a good book that I looked into some of Dorothea Benton Frank's books so that I could check out a few more at the library.  I hope that you check out your local library or bookstore and see what you think!  I think that you will find it as charming as I did.  I can't wait to add a few others of her books to my list!!

      Saturday, June 22, 2013

      Do More, Spend Less Book Review

      Do More, Spend Less: The New Secrets of Living the Good Life for Less by Brad Wilson was a new book through the library.  I put it on reserve and I was really far down on the list so it took awhile to make the top of the list but I finally got it.  I picked it up just as I was finishing my previous book so I got to start very quickly.  It was a fast read and I got through it fairly quickly.

      The book is broken into a few different categories.  The first category is travel.  It talks about plane travel and how to get cheap and free flights.  It also talks about getting into the lounge and not having to wait in the terminal with all the other people which makes the flights a good time.  There are a lot of tricks and miles and promotions to use but it mostly went over my head because I think that I can count my flights on my hands in my whole life.  I tried to put together a list but my first flight wasn't until we moved from NY to MD when I was in the 10th grade.  I tried to remember all the other ones (with the help of my husband), we remembered around 20 plane trips including India, Mexico, Michigan, Massachusets, Colorado, New Jersey,  Flordia.  I don't know if I want to put in a lot of effort to get free flights because I am not really a world traveler but if you want to be, then this is a great book to help you learn how to do it in style.  Want a massage, driven to the plane in a Porsche or have your own personal assistant?  Guess what these are available in the executive lounges throughout the world!!!

      The second section was talking about shopping and saving money.  This chapter is about using coupons and ordering online to avoid sales tax to save money.  The author has ordered clothes from Brook Brothers and DVDs mail order for just dollars each.  Although the author is against the couponing because of the time that it takes to organize and shop, it was still an interesting chapter.  I obviously don't agree since I totally think that my time is worth cutting and organizing my coupons since I save about $800 per month with my grocery shopping sales and household goods.  If you want some helpful (possibly a little sketchy) hints this chapter is the best one for you.

      The last chapter is on personal finance and improving your credit score.  There are hints on how to become a member of a credit union, apply for multiple credit cards, and increase your credit score. There are some hints on getting to see the wholesale rate list from the mortgage broker and paying off debt on the statment date and not the due date to appear to have less debt.  I think that some of the hints are counter intuitive to many people who have been trying to pay off debt and increase credit but they are some interesting tips.

      If any of this sounds interesting, please make sure that you pick this up at your local library or bookstore.  I found it worth reading but not necessarily worth adding to my personal library.  I hope that you pick up a few helpful hints (especially if you are a world traveler or want to be).  I know that it changed my view on a few different things and I hope that I can check out the authors website at to learn some more!!

      Friday, June 21, 2013

      Best Brownies and how to not make them!

      So I had a horrible sweet tooth on Friday night and no treats in the house beyond the banana bread but we all know that isn't going to cut it for dessert.  I was thinking about going with the old reliable chocolate chip cookies but I thought that I might as well try a new recipe.  When is it a bad idea to make a new recipe?  When you are tired and hungry!!!  I didn't read the directions correctly and caused more work for myself.  Good news is that there was an easy fix.

      First, pull out all the ingredients (and make sure you have enough cocca powder or at least that is what I always have to do).  Reading the instructions the whole time (and re-read noting the word melting which I have written in the recipe and not just the ingredients).

      Then, mix the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl.  Then stop because you re-read the ingredients and noticed that they wanted it melted! 

      UGH!!  It is in a metal bowl and already mixed.  What do you do?

      Move to a plastic mixing bowl and put in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Take out and stir and then do for another 30 seconds and repeat until melted.  I only needed to do it for 1 minute and I got melted butter with the sugar and vanilla already mixed it.  It might have actually worked out better for me because I usually boil over the butter when I am melting it in the microwave and I didn't this time.

      I added in the eggs and it looked exactly the same.  I measured the cocca and flour and added the baking powder and salt to the top. 

      I added in the dry ingredients and mixed.

      I poured the brownie batter in the pan and put in the oven to bake.  I set the timer for 25 minutes.

      They were actually done at 25 minutes and I tried to patiently let them cool a little before cutting into them...not my strong suit!!  I didn't make the frosting because my husband isn't a big frosting fan and I really wanted to eat some brownies :)  We got our brownies and they were really yummy!

      Okay, I might have cut into them when they were a little warm..

      I hope that you use the recipe and try some at home and let me know what you think!!  They are super easy to whip up and taste very flavorful.  It is a great replacement to the box mix.  My husband didn't like the flavor when they first came out so I think that I might use less vanilla next time!!

      I loved it!!  I didn't have any problems finishing the pan myself.  They were really yummy!!

      I hope that you try this recipe for your family soon and let me know what you think!

      Best Brownies


      1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine , melted
      1 cup sugar
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      2  eggs
      1/2 cup all-purpose flour
      1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
      1/4 teaspoon baking powder
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
      CREAMY BROWNIE FROSTING (recipe follows)


      1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch square baking pan.
      2. Stir together melted butter, sugar and vanilla in bowl. Add eggs; beat well with spoon. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in nuts, if desired. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
      3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Prepare CREAMY BROWNIE FROSTING; spread over brownies. Cut into squares. About 16 brownies


      3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
      3 tablespoons HERSHEY'S Cocoa
      1 tablespoon light corn syrup or honey
      1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
      1 cup powdered sugar
      1 to 2 tablespoons milk

      Beat butter, cocoa, corn syrup and vanilla in small bowl until blended. Add powdered sugar and milk;
      beat to spreading consistency. About 1 cup frosting.

      Thursday, June 20, 2013

      Thrifty Thursday: Reusing glass containers

      At first, I was hesitant to try reusing glass containers because I felt like I was going to turn into my mother with her piles of butter tubs with leftovers in them.  I am more of a everything the same size and fits together. 

      For Christmas, I asked for (and received) a case of Mason jars.  You know your family listens to you when you get the weirdest assortment of gifts that you really wanted like a canning funnel and mason jars :)  Mason jars are wonderful and I highly recommend them.  I use them for my mixes in the cupboard.  I try to keep a few common things that I make with all of the dry ingredients mixed together.  This makes it easy when it is time to make it and more like making a box mix without having to buy the box.  Feel free to check out my post here.

      A case of Mason jars goes quickly when there are five jars in one cupboard and three frozen jars of spaghetti sauce. 

      There are also a few in the fridge with fruit stuff- grapefruit juice and mango puree.  They are perfect for holding things in the pantry, fridge or freezer so make sure to pick yourself up some if you don't already have them and I promise that you will put them to work even if you aren't canning.

      But there are other ways to get glass jars!!  For years, I have been putting all of my old jars in the recycling bin and getting rid of them but recently I started to save them.  I already have two old honey containers from my dad that I am using for spices.  They are super cute and make me smile every time I get them out of the cupboard.  I also had some glass spice jars that I had used up and I cleaned them off and reused them.  Small jars like baby food jars are also great for spices.  I put a few in and even wrote on the top with a Sharpie so that I would know what was in there.  That was before I saw the post on the internet to use dry erase markers on the glass and they will clean off in the dishwasher.  Helpful hint that I am going to try next time!!  Check out these little jars... aren't they cute and perfect size for my messy spice cupboard.

      I started saving some bigger jars like the Jif Hazelnut spread and spaghetti sauce.  I picked off as much of the label as I could and then throw it in dishwasher to do a little more cleaning.  They came out pretty clean but there was a little of sticky glue left on them.  Can you see the little bit of paper that is still on them??

      I plan on using some stuff to take off the goop and then they will be pretty nice to use through the pantry and cupboards for different storage.  After a second trip through the dishwasher, they will be clean and sanitized.  I highly suggest saving a few and see if you can store things in the pantry, fridge, freezer, and other places in your jars!!  I think that with a little elbow grease they will be nice glass jars to love for years to come.

      Is there anything you love to store in your jars?  I would love to hear what your favorite jars are?