Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Critical Condition Book Review

I picked an interesting book through my blogging for the publisher.  I thought that it sounded a little interesting but I thought it was more interesting that it was written by a doctor.  I was excited when it came in the mail but I didn't want to start it too far before the date that I was supposed to post it.  Silly me because I did read it before and then didn't write my review right after I finished it.  It is a rule of mine to not start the next book until I post the review but I guess I broke my rules on this one.  Oops!  But at least I got the review written right?

In this book, Dr. Shannon Frasier has some friends over for dinner and then she hears a noise.  She goes out front to figure out what the noise was and finds a stranger on her front yard who was shot.  She and another doctor that was visiting try to save him but they are unable.  Shortly after, her sister, Megan, calls and needs a place to stay because her boyfriend has started stealing products from her pharmaceutical supplies that she is supposed to be delivering to doctors.  Megan has lost her job and place to stay so when she had to get her things from her boyfriend's apartment, Mark, Shannon's boyfriend, go with her to help.  They end up hitting the boyfriend over the head and then things get even worse for the sisters.  They find out more news and are wanted in connection to two murders.  Luckily, they stick together and the truth wins out.  I hope that you pick up the book and find out the truth.

I loved this book and I thought that it was way deeper then I thought it was going to be from the description.  The blurb makes it sound like the main character, Shannon, is a complaining about all of the things that are happening to her.  Once you get into the book, you see very quickly that this is not what the book is about.  The characters were really great and you could see them developing through all of the situations that you learned more about them.  Each character does some unexpected things that show what they are made of.  I enjoyed the book and all of the characters.  I am interested to read more about these characters and other things but this author.  Make sure that you pick this book at your local bookstore or library.

If you want to purchase a copy, you can get one through the publisher here. If you want to find out more about the author, check it out here.

* I got a free copy of this book for my open and honest opinion from LitFuse Publishing.  If you want to find out more about their program, check it out here.

I reviewed it on Amazon and the link is here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Kids Wednesday: E is for Elephant, Eyes, Eggs and Easter

It is time for E week and there are so many things that start with E which was a great change from some of the others.  Unfortunately, I had everything printed out and left them at home when we went running out the door to see my grandmother.  I felt really bad that we left all the activities and markers behind (although we always have emergency crayons in his bag.

But there are lots of activities that you can do here:

E is for Elephant (print here).

E is for Elephant (print here)

E for Egg Dot Markers (print here).

There is a mini E book which you can print and make that has some E rhymes (print here)

My son really wanted to make Easter eggs and had his mind set on doing the egg dying kit that he kept seeing in the store.  Luckily, I had one in the closet which I got for free a few years ago.  We had to have a long talk about how you use real eggs that are hard boiled because he didn't understand about how you dyed eggs.  Of course I left them at home too so we didn't get to do them either!

I remembered to bring my E books from our E basket.  There were a few Easter books in the pile which I get to pull out everything year.  My son really enjoys the Karen Katz books and loves reading them and looking under the tabs still.  He is always happy to see the pile of seasonal books come out.

We also brought out our other books that have our E words including elephant, ears and eyes.

We read some of them over and over and didn't touch others.  My son loved the I Can Read With My Eyes Shut so I know that I read that over and over to him.  My husband and cousin read lots of the books to him too and he read some of the books to us.

Since we didn't bring anything and didn't have our printer available, we made the most of what we had and the dollar store.  It is the best place (even without being out of town without resources) to get learning activities to do with your kids.  We got lots of different things to keep my little guy busy during the down time that we weren't out and about but it was hard to tie them back to the letter E.

My little guy did a bunch of activity workbooks but we did get a bunch of Easter eggs.  We did a few different activities with them because those are one of his favorites to play with.  He hid them around and found them (also making us take turns finding them).  He had a handy bucket that he picked them up in so that we could try to keep track of them.

We put money in them and he worked on his counting money as he took them out and he put them in groups.  He had a blast and didn't want to stop....we might have a banker on our hands but I know that we have a saver!

We used our eyes and ears to pay attention to different things around so we did I Spy.  He loves doing that and we often fill time while waiting in the car but of course this week we spelled it EYE Spy :)

My husband, cousin and father took him to the sciences center for him to use his eyes and ears to learn more.  I hope that you use E week to learn lots more then we learned about the letter E but some weeks you have to improvise.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Super Doubles Trips #1 and 2

I went to Harris Teeter to get a few deals and enjoyed a long trip there with lots of great bargains.  I got a bunch of great deals including some money makers with Old Spice shampoo (with rain check) and Hormel complete.  There were a bunch of other free items including Oscar Mayer Protein Packs, Command strips, Tetley tea, Tom's soap, fresh bread, Celentano cheese ravioli, and Chewy Granola bars.  There was also another neat deal with the St. Ives lotion which will make money in my Saving Star account.

Total OOP $0.66
Savings $83.19 + $3.96= $87.15

There were such good deals that I made a point to make it back there the next day to use some money makers to get some cheaper shampoo for my husband.  He was almost out and Aussie is his favorite kind.  They were not on sale and I didn't have a rain check so I used the coupon from the P&G insert, an evic zvr coupon and the overage from the Tai Pei meals which made up the total of my shopping trip.  It worked out really well because I saved lots and got a little bit of everything we needed to stock up on.  I just finished most of the ravioli that we had in the freezer so looking forward to trying a new brand.  In addition, some free elbow macaroni and rice are great to add to the stockpile for the coming months.  I got some free equal tablets and more free bread and Oscar Mayer Protein packs.  Super glad that I made time to make it back again!

Total OOP $2.98
Savings $54.96

I hope that I can get in one or two more trips to the store and that they have some more stock left.  Have you been to Super Doubles?  How did you do??

Menu Plan Monday 4/28

Monday- Worcestershire Grilled Chicken with white rice
Tuesday- Chicken and Rice Casserole
Wednesday- Chicken Tacos with saffron Rice
Thursday- Chicken tenders with homemade fries
Friday- Sausage Tortelloni with garlic bread
Saturday- Leftovers/Garlic Chicken with white rice
Sunday- Leftovers/???

I am trying to get back into getting dinners ready every night and making sure that I take out the food that I need.  I haven't done the best job getting ready for the next month but I have kept up with the food plan for the week so hoping for the best for next week.  I might move the chicken tacos and the grilled chicken based on the weather because that is always a little questionable when making a meal plan this time to year.  I am not sure what I am going to be making on Sunday but we will see how the week goes and figure it out.  If all else fails, we will have a yummy Breakfast for Dinner meal which is my son's favorite.  How does your week look this week??

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Weekly Goals 4/27

I have to say that I have been a little off my blogging goals lately.  I had a bunch of posts scheduled when I got the call that my grandmother was sick and only had a few more days.  We dropped everything and went to see her.  We had a few good days with her before she passed.  We had lots of family around that we got to play trivia, bowling, and do a lot of fun things with my little man to keep him busy.  It was a quick two weeks and I was a little in a blur.  I am trying to get back into things but I have missed a few posts in the last few weeks so I am sorry.  I am sure you all understand that family comes first but I just wanted to say that I am sorry that I haven't gotten everything done you are used to.

I have had a busy week so I think that next week is going to be a little more slow.  I am going to get a few more days of Super Double shopping done and try to catch up on all the errands that have sat un-done for the month and try to finish everything up before the month is over.  What do you have planned for the month?

Last week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family at home- I had a busy week with the family and grandpa came to visit which was interesting for my little man.
Personal Goals
  • Get coupons from the last two weeks- I got the coupons from last week and this week so I only missed one week of coupons from when I was gone.
  • Cut coupons (two inserts from last week and whatever I can get for this week)- I got coupons cut quickly before it was time to shop.  I had three inserts so there were a lot of coupons
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy- I shut off the computer every night to save energy and make sure my computer is working.
  • Finish reading new review book- I finished my review book and my review is scheduled for 4/30
  • Get new books at the library- I went with my son to the library and he helped me pick out 14 and 15 in the Janet Evanovich series.  It is so fun to watch him read the side of the books looking for the next number in the series...see how anything can be a learning experience, even picking out books for mommy :)
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week- I got lots cleaned up this week but it was hard to keep up with this week since it was the first back at home and I ended up working at school three days this week.  It is hard to get back on schedule after being gone and even harder when jumping into a really full schedule.
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- I don't have clue what happened this week in terms of getting things cleaned up but I did get everything cleaned up on Saturday night so that I could start the week off right.
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family)- Nope, I got most of my review up there but I missed Thursday.  I did a rough draft of the post but didn't get it finished and sort of forgot to work on it later in the day so I guess I am out of practice.
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)- I got some of the book reviews posted.  I have two more to write to try to post tomorrow.
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip- I didn't get all of my posts done this week.
This week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family at home (including grandpa)
  • Register for pool for the summer
  • Soccer practice
  • Soccer game
Personal Goals
  • Get coupons on Friday or Saturday
  • Cut coupons (two inserts from last week)
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy
  • Cancel trash service
  • Finish reading book 14 from Janet Evanovich
  • Start next book in series
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)
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lean Mean Thirteen Book Review

Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum, No. 13) by Janet Evanovich was on loan from my aunt and uncle since I read through most of the books that I had brought with me on my trip to New York since we stayed longer then expected.  I was super glad to see this on their shelf because it was the next book in the series that I was reading.  I finished the book before leaving New York but didn't get the review written so I am working on getting everything updated.

In this book, Stephanie Plum gets drags into Dickie Orr's life again because Ranger asks her to go and see him to plant some bugs.  She goes into his office and gets in a fight with him as soon as she sees a picture of him with Joyce, the women that he cheated on her with when they were married.  Then Dickie goes missing, it turns out that Stephanie is the main suspect of disappearance.  She has to lay low in order to make sure that she isn't arrested but she is also trying to find out where he is so that she can clear her name.  It is another amusing story about all the trouble that Stephanie gets in along the way and I couldn't put it down!

I read it quickly and was able to return it to my cousin before I left New York because it was hard to put down.  One night I spent a lot of time reading it instead of sleeping so it wasn't the best plan but it was a good book.  I hope that you pick up one of these books and start the series soon.  It is a really good series and I already have the next book picked up and started so just wait to hear about the next one soon.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Month End Coupon Printing and Organization

Can you believe that it is already the end of the month?  I am not sure where the time has gone but that is what the calendar says!  Of course, don't take my word for can check your calendar too. Remember to print coupons because some go away at the end of the month....also remember to check back in a few days and see what new ones have appeared!!

Check the following sites:
This is a good time to remind you to clean out all of the expired coupons and put them in the recycle bin!!  I try to remember to clean out my coupon basket but I usually end up going to the store and realizing that so many are expired that I can't find the ones that I am looking for before I get organized.  Make sure that you get cleaned up so that you can find the coupons you need to save money!!  I love to do this a few days before the end of the month to make sure that I don't miss using any that might expire at the end of the month.

Make sure you don't miss printing a coupon!!  Keep this list for next month too because the new coupons are normally loaded at the beginning of the month so it is a great time to go back and check.  Please let me know if there are any other coupon websites that you like to visit and I will gladly add them to the list.  Hope you all had a wonderful month and I look forward to hearing all about it!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kids Wednesday: Learn to Count Money

We have worked on different aspects of money before including the names of the coins and the value of each coin whenever we get change somewhere or have to go to the bank to make a deposit.  My son was starting to get the idea of money (even though the nickel still confuses him because it is bigger and worth less).  We even got a puzzle with the money to equal the item for sale on the other side.  He has had it for ages but didn't really understand the concept so he mostly separated and piled the puzzle pieces instead of solving the problems.  The only bad thing is that these items aren't really worth the money on the item so it is a little different then learning the value of money but one step at a time.

We were away from home without our normal tools so I decided to make the most out of what we had and we taught my son how to count money.  We put the money in the Easter eggs and my son opened the egg and told us how much was in each egg.  We did it Easter morning but it is a great activity to do this week if your kids are like mine and don't want to give back the eggs.  If you don't have eggs, this is the best time to invest because they are going to be at least 50% off.

We counted in piles to make 100 (which he is really good at after 100 week).  We talked about how 100 pennies equals $1 so we took out a dollar and tried to do the bigger picture of how many dimes would make up the dollar.  He piled them on and counted by tens to get the answer.  He ran out of dimes and he knew that two nickels would also work so he put them in the dimes place.

Then, we got tricky and used quarters.  The quarters were a little harder to add because it wasn't by ones, fives or tens like he normally counts. 

We used addition and added 25 plus 25 to get fifty and fifty plus fifty to get one dollar.  He decided on the right answer after a little more discussion and I decided that we couldn't have come up with a better learning activity then this for money. 

He learned a lot about counting money and I hope that we will only grow from here.  I think seeing it and playing with it helped a lot.  He was interested in how the different money made up a dollar so I am sure that we are going to be doing this again soon.

I bought some pretend coins for him to play with so we will pull those out soon for a reward and he will be able to play store and learn about money at the same time.  Did you teach your kids about money?  How did you do it?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mid Month Budget Update

This month was going to be a tough month to follow after the great deals of last month but I thought that I had it planned out pretty well that I wouldn't go crazy this month.  I had one day in shopping before everything got turned upside down. 

My dad called me and told me that my grandmother had a stroke and the doctor told them that she only had two days left.  I had just dropped my son off at school and so I went home to pack up.  I threw as much stuff as I could figure out in bags and packed the car.  I got a bag of food and the cooler together.  I picked up my son at school and we ate a fast lunch and we were out the door.  We were gone for two weeks and totally unprepared for most things.  I didn't pack most of the things that I should have grabbed so there was a little scrambling to make do with what we had and buy the things that we needed.  Plus, my son and I both got sick so we had to get some medicine.  Luckily, my dad picked up the tab for one of the trips to Target so that was money not out of the budget.  I also don't have pictures of most of things that we got.

Harris Teeter -$0.23

I bought an Almond Milk for my friend Stephanie who was shopping with me and she paid me cash for the item so it covered the cost of my shopping trip.  I got a Minute Maid orange juice but I got the wrong one and the evic coupon didn't come off so I returned it which put my total in the negative even though two coupons didn't scan correctly.  I was hoping to go back and get it later but I didn't have enough time to make it back to the store to get anymore deals. Super sad because the Act coupon expired and I wanted to get a few more of the freebie popcorn.

Target $13.99

We were sick and I got some cold medicine and Children's Advil for my son.  We only brought one little travel container so we needed more!  I also needed some medicine.  I also grabbed some soda for the house because my cousin asked us to pick up a individual soda but the two liters were cheaper so I got two so that we could all have some soda with dinner.  We also grabbed a loaf of bread for sandwiches and toast.  I also forgot to grab my son's markers on the way out of the house so I grabbed some crayola markers that were in the $1 section!

Aldi's $17.23

My husband ran to Aldi's to get some groceries for my cousin's house where were were staying.  We needed more bread and some other staples which are great to get at Aldi's.  My husband even got french fries so that I could make them with some buffalo chicken for dinner that night.  I made some pancake mix and baking mix for her cupboard to leave behind so that she would have some yummy things to make after I left.  My husband and son did grab some pretzels, pringles and chips so it wasn't all healthy good choices but I wasn't complaining and we ate them all!

Target $24.00

I got two bottles of Tide Free and Clear so that I could do laundry at my mom's house so that we had laundry for our last few days and when we got home.  I washes three loads of laundry so I left one of the laundry detergents at my parents and brought one home to use here.  It was way more then I usually pay per bottle but I used a coupon and got a gift card back so it was the best deal that I could find.

Total OOP $54.99

During our trip, my husband also had lots of fun fixing things at my cousin's Victorian house that she wanted to get done.  Our birthday present to her was to pay for some of the supplies so we spent about $50 on different trips back and forth to Home Depot and Lowes so that we could fix the tub drain that was leaking.  It took a lot of different trips before we came up with the right fix.  They also replaced the faucet in the kitchen sink, installed a ceiling fan, installed a dimmer switch in the dining room and put a new gfci plug in the bathroom.  My husband also did something with the front screen door to make sure that it fit when the weather had it expanding and contracting.  I didn't understand it but it involved wood chisels and the door works so that is what matters.  I am not sure if there were any other projects that were done since my husband seemed to pick a new one every time I turned around.  I also spent $115.89 at Target because we were going to pay for the faucet and gfci but my cousin bought it so I paid for her Target purchase and provided tons of coupons and and gift card to save an additional $45 off our total so that would could pay for a little bit of groceries that we ate during our stay.  I know that they were happy to have us there but I didn't want to be a financial burden so hopefully they got a lot of projects checked off the list and will remember our two weeks at their house fondly but I am not counting either out of our grocery budget since they were for birthday presents.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 4/21

Monday- General Tso's Chicken with white rice (prepared chicken frozen)
Tuesday- Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes
Wednesday- Tacos and Saffron Rice
Thursday- Olive Oil Pasta with garlic bread
Friday- Breakfast for Dinner: Waffles with hash browns
Saturday-Burritos and Frozen Pizza/Philly Cheese Steak Pasta
Sunday- Leftovers/Chicken Marsala with pasta

I had to go through the menu plan when I got home and move the things from the last two weeks around on the calendar to fit the rest of the month and I got the rest of the month planned pretty easily.  I still have a lot of things in the freezer and pantry so I am going to have to sit down and make a shopping list to see what we need other then milk which is top of the list. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekly Goals 4/20

I am planning on an easy week to work our way back to normal life at home after two weeks out of schedule and our house.  I am hoping for an easy week so that I can figure out what I have to get done and catch up on.  I have no idea what we have going on or what we are going to do but first step is returning library books and unpacking everything so that we can find everything and plan our menu for the rest of the month. 

Last week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family including grandparents and extended family- We spent two weeks with family and got to see lots of extended family members.  We spent the last few days at my parents before coming home.
Personal Goals
  • Get coupons on Friday or Saturday- Didn't make it home until Sunday night so I didn't get any papers last week.
  • Figure out if I can get some of last week's paper since I wasn't in town- I didn't make it back until Sunday so I didn't get anything yet but I guess I lost the ability to get last weeks papers.
  • Cut coupons (two inserts from last week and whatever I can get for this week)- No cutting was done since we just got home but I did clean out all expired coupons at my cousins house and my basket is much lighter although I have a lot less coupons right now.
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy- We haven't been home in two weeks so I have barely been on my computer so it hasn't been a problem to get it off every night.
  • Finish reading 12 by Janet Evanovich- Finished and review posted
  • Read new review book (review due on 16th)- Finished and review posted.  I also finished the 13th book and started on another review book due later in the month.
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week- I just got home so there wasn't a problem with having to keep things clean except where we were staying.  I ran the dishwasher before I left so I unloaded the dishwasher when we got home and got pizza.  The great thing about loading it up before you leave is there is nothing left to clean when you get home.
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- No need because we didn't make it home.
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family)- I missed a post yesterday and one last week with all of the different activities but I got a lot of posts up since I planned ahead.
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)- Reviews are posted and there is one going up next week since I didn't get something up before I left when I read it but I didn't bring it with me.  Oops!
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip- Done
This week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family at home
Personal Goals
  • Get coupons from the last two weeks
  • Cut coupons (two inserts from last week and whatever I can get for this week)
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy
  • Finish reading new review book
  • Get new books at the library
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)
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Twelve Sharp Book Review

Twelve Sharp (Stephanie Plum, No. 12) (Stephanie Plum Novels) by Janet Evanovich was the next in the pile that I got from the library.  I started it right after finishing the last book in the series.  It only took a few days to read and I really enjoyed the crazy antics of Stephanie Plum.

Stephanie Plum, back to bounty hunting, is caught up in more drama.  She is stalked by a women who introduces herself as Carmen, Ranger's wife and she wants Stephanie dead because Ranger left her and cleared out their bank accounts.  Stephanie is confused by this and tries to make contact with Ranger but he is off the grid because he is looking for his daughter who was kidnapped.  The person that she is looking for isn't Ranger but a impostor which she quickly learns.  Stephanie is stalked by Carmen until she is found dead in her car in front of the bail bonds office that Stephanie works at and she was most likely killed by the Ranger impostor.  Ranger is living at Stephanie's house to protect her from the Ranger impostor while she is trying to deal with her feelings for Ranger and her boyfriend, Morelli.  Another crazy adventure of Stephanie trying to do her job, live her life and spend time with her family.

There is amazing tension through out this book and you get to learn a lot more about the characters that you have come to love over the first 11 books in the series!  I loved this book and was sad to see it end.  I had the next one ready to read but I had to stop to read the book that I needed to review next week.  Good to know that I have the book in the wings waiting for  me when I am done.  I am really excited to get back to the series.  Have you checked out the series yet?  I hope that you do at your local library or bookstore soon!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thrifty Thursday: Kids Books for Saving Money

Do you want to save a little money with your kids?  There are tons of books out there to help you do that but these are a little different.  The first is to teach your kids about money and the second two are for teaching your kids with easy things you can get at the library or at home.  I taught my son lots based on the same principal found in the last two books.  I think that teaching your kids is the best but saving money at the same time is a bonus!!

Hope you enjoy these fun reads and use some over the summer months to continue the learning process.

Money Smart Family System is a great book to explain different ways to teach kids about money and help them to follow the family motivation to save money because if you already have kids and jump into this new mind set, you have to take them with you.

Playful Learning is a great book if you want to start teaching preschoolers through young kids.  It gives great books to read and activities. 

Games with Books was a great resource to use to match a book with a game.  We had a blast reading the book and doing an activity but be careful what you start because my son was looking to do an activity ever time we finished reading a book.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sensible Arrangement Book Review

Sensible Arrangement, A (Lone Star Brides) by Tracie Peterson was a book that I got to review through the publisher.  I was glad to get the book and I was going to read it when it came in but I was in the middle of the book.  I knew that I needed to read it next but then things got a little crazy when we went out of town for two weeks to be with my grandmother.  There was a delay in me getting anything done during this time but I did bring the book with me.  I planned on starting it and getting it done in time for the deadline of today.  Then, I didn't get time to start it until the 13th.  UGH!  Well, not a problem because even though I worked for 7 hours at my aunt's office and I still finished it by the 14th.

In this book, Marty Olson has lost her husband in a farming accident and continued to run the farm but she is very sad being stuck in Texas where all the memories are.  Marty answers an advertisement for a Lone Star bride for a man from Texas who is living in Colorado.  She goes on a trip to visit some friends and on the way to her new life, she has quiet the adventure.  Jake Wythe is the man that she agrees to marry.  He was also widowed and needs to have a wife to show the people on his banks board that he is a settled man.  They agree to have a marriage of companionship and convenience instead of love.  In the process, their trial and tribulations bring them closer together so you will have to pick up the the book to see what they go through and how they grow.

I enjoyed this book because it was a great love story and there was always something going on that was really interesting.  I didn't want to put the book down and had lots of information about the historical references.  I guess that is why it took me less than two days to read it while still visiting with family and friends and working.  It was interesting and educational at the same time!! I don't think that it was something that I would normally pick out and that is all the more reason why I am super glad to be part of the Litfuse Publishing review group and got the opportunity to pick out this book!  I highly recommend that you check it out too because you will enjoy the quick pace of the story with the great characters.  Check this book out at your local library or bookstore to see what you think!

Please check out the website about the book here to learn more about it.  If you would like to learn more about the author, please check out her website here.  If you would like to purchase the book, feel free to purchase it from here.

* Please note that I got this book for free for my honest review from Litfuse Publishing.  My opinion is all my own and I have been given no compensation for this review.

Kids Wednesday: U is for Umbrella, Uniform, Utensils, Up and Upside Down

There isn't a lot that I could come up with off of the top of my head for the letter U so I was on the hunt for U week but when it rains it pours (laughing because I started with the umbrella..hehe). Seriously though, I found so many things that started with the letter u for us to do.

The first thing that I found for U for Umbrella (print here).  This is a great coloring sheet that they can use to practice writing and have fun coloring.  He enjoyed picking out all of the crazy colors from his markers to color the sections in.

We made a craft with the umbrella where my son cut the umbrella out of the construction paper and laid it out on the paper.  We cut out rain drops from scraps of blue paper and blue paint chips.

He glued it to the big paper and decorated with jewels, beads, feathers, and glitter glue.  He had a blast and we put it on the paper with rain drops and then drew lines around to "make it fancy."  He wrote the U is for Umbrella at the top which is copied the letters from the page we did before so that I didn't have to spell it for him.

We also did uniforms with a worksheet from Teachers Pay Teachers (found here).  There was a cover where he wrote his name and then he did one that he decided was a painter and wrote it into the blanks.

I pulled out the great fireman's uniform that we got at a consignment sale for $8 so that he could play with that for the week.  He wasn't really interested in dressing up at the beginning of the week and I couldn't change his mind but it was out if he wanted to try on a uniform.  I am not sure why he does dress up at school and not at home but I guess I need to have a dress up corner in the house with more options so that he could do it when he wanted.

We also have a bunch of fire department hats that we have gotten from the different activities and my son's favorite activity was hiding things under the hats and making me guess what was under each one.  The hardest one was the markers because he wanted me to guess which color was under which ones and I don't mean red or black.  He picked out toy poodle and mad magenta.

We got some books from different events with fireman, police and more so my son picked out on to the books to do a word search.  He loves the idea of the word search but we are still a little bit away from them being an independent activity so there is a lot of me saying that I see the world police and it is towards the bottom of the page.  I hope that means that he will learn to do them himself when he is a little older.

There are two other dot marker pages for each letter in the Alphabet from Three Dinosaurs here (if you scroll down the page you will see the four options for files with all of the letters in them).  We used these to do patterns.  My son made his own pattern on the first U.

Then I started the pattern and he finished it on the second U.  It was great practice with the letter and with patterns while he traced the U's at the bottom of his first page and then the word umbrella at the bottom of the second.

The United States also starts with the letter U so we picked up our trusty wooden puzzle and put that together.

Another day we pulled out the big floor puzzle and talked about how all the states make up the country of the United States.  He is loving the map but we are having a hard time with states making up a country so this is a great way to re-enforce the parts make up the whole.

And that the United States is one of many countries on the globe is the next step.  I think that he is on the verge of understanding the concept but it seems a lot less concrete then a penny is worth one cent because he can't see all of the country or the United States or the Earth like we were talking about with the planets.

We also did a dot to dot to also do here.  There are two choices so I picked the one that went from 1 to 63 so that my son could follow all of the dots all the way around and make sure he counted.  This is also a great picture to color if your kids like to color when they are done connecting the dots.  One of the preschool teachers that I work with colors the sample and the kids have to try to make theirs the same which is a little different then just letting the kids color whatever they want because with this method they have to stop and pay attention and follow directions.  We did the dot to dot and saved it for later if there was more time to color.

There is also one of the planets that starts with U so we worked in our planet sheet for Uranus so that we can move forward with finishing out book about the planets. (found here).  We also realized that universe started with U so we did this with a double U meaning!

We try to work on different things with our dictionary to incorporate how words and definitions can be found.  I thought that utensil would be a great word to use for our dictionary.  Although everyone uses them, it is a tricky word for little ones so I was hoping to stump my little man.  He didn't know what it meant but we helped him find it and we talked about it right before eating dinner one night.

There are ton of great books with a little bit of looking like Up Above and Down Below by Sue Redding.  This was really great because it showed the the up above ground and the underground (both U words).  There were a ton of fun pictures and great stories.

Another book that looked like it was right up my alley that I hadn't read was Great Day for Up (Bright & Early Books(R)) by Dr. Seuss.  I was shocked that there might be Dr. Seuss book that we didn't own growing up and that I haven't read so I reserved it at the library.  I read it in the fast nature that all Dr. Seuss books but it was super fun and rhyming as all Seuss fan's love.

That book reminded me of one of our favorite books Inside Outside Upside Down (Bright & Early Books) by Stan Berenstain so I added that to the list of books to read.  We love this book and enjoy the quick nature and funny traveling story.

I also had the idea that we would watch the movie Up if my son was still sick but he was up and ready for lots of other activities so we didn't get to watch the movie.   We like to do a craft everyday so I found an extra Up craft to go with the movie which we didn't do.  There are a few different ways to do up but we were going to cut out arrows and glued them on the U outlined letter page pointing up.  There is a great U for Umbrella dot marker page (print here) that we also didn't get to so hopefully you will find it helpful!

Do you have any great U activities and crafts?  We had a blast at U week and I hope that you have lots of fun too!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Eleven on Top Book Review

Eleven on Top (Stephanie Plum, No. 11) (Stephanie Plum Novels) by Janet Evanovich was the next book in the series for me to read and I borrowed it from a friend.  I was super glad to be able to bring it with me on my trip to New York and got to read it at night before falling asleep just like I do at home.  I finished it and had the next book in the series in my bag!

In this book, Stephanie Plum gets into trouble (not surprising) again.  She decides that all this trouble isn't worth it so she quits her job as a bounty hunter hoping that it is going to have a calmer life.  She starts getting death threats and getting chased.  Other people around her started getting blown up and hurt instead of her like her boss and Joe's garage.  She takes a few other jobs which she promptly looses after only one day.  After three jobs and many attempts on her life, she decides that she needs to hunt down the person that is trying to kill her and learns way more then she expected.  I hope that you pick up the book because it is super funny and entertaining while keeping you wondering what is going to happen next.  During all of the crazy times, her sister is supposed to be getting married to and she is the maid of honor.  I promise you won't be disappointed if you pick this one up.

I love the series and have loved all of the books.  I hope that you have tried out a few and see if you like them as much as I do.  I started reading the next one right after this one and I am almost done.  I went to my aunt and uncle's house and grabbed the thirteenth one right off the shelf because I didn't want to miss a thing when I stopped the next book!  I hope that you pick this up at your local bookstore or library soon.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 4/14

Monday- Out of Town
Tuesday- Out of Town
Wednesday- Out of Town
Thursday- Frozen Generals Tso's Chicken with white rice
Friday- Olive Oil with garlic bread
Saturday- Leftovers/Frozen Pepperoni Pizza
Sunday- Leftovers/????

My parent's were supposed to be in town this week and they didn't come because my grandmother got sick.  She passed away and we have the wake and funeral this week.  We ended up leaving the house last week and have been staying with family for awhile so we hope to be home on Thursday and looking for some easy meals for the week.  I am not sure what we are going to have by the weekend but I guess we will see what is quick and easy and how the first few days home goes.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekly Goals 4/13

Well, another week by and I tried to get more done on the weekend but with soccer on Saturday and open houses on Sunday, I didn't get a lot done.  Then, I had a big week planned with a hair cut for me on Monday and one for my son later in the week.  I got the call that my grandmother had a stroke and the doctors were giving her two days to live.  I went straight home and started packing.  We had a bunch of things piled into the middle of the family room and I threw things into the car and picked my son up from school.  My husband came home from work and we drove to see my grandmother.  We dropped my son at my cousin's house.  I spent some time with her on Monday night.  I was at the hospital on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  She passed away on Friday after a long week so we got nothing done this week that was planned but I got to visit with my grandmother and say good bye.

Setting low expectations for the week because we still aren't going to be home and we have lots of challenges for week already with running low on clothes and my little guy is getting sick of being out of routine and we both are sick and run down.  Here is hoping that we make the most of the time and both start to feel better soon!

This week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family including grandparents who are coming into town
  • Playdate with friends after school 
  • Lego event at the library
  • Circus with the family
Personal Goals
  • Get coupons on Friday or Saturday
  • Cut coupons (two inserts)
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy- Done mostly because my computer was off for most of the week after sending messages to everyone to cancel everything we had planned for the week.
  • Post additional coupons for sale to ebay (?)
  • Start reading Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich- Done reading
  • Find next book to read- I started on the 12th book and I really need to start reading the book that I have to review for next week but I just haven't wanted to read anything challenging.
Home Management Goals
  • Clean dishes, counters and floors at least 5 days of the week- We are staying at my cousins house and she doesn't have a dish washer so she and my husband have been doing most of the washing.  I have been drying and putting away.
  • Clean dishes one night and not wait until the morning- We have been doing dishes every day and night because the sink and the kitchen isn't that big and we are 5 people living in the same space which always leads to new challenges.
Blog Goals
  • Post one post everyday (schedule 7 posts so that can spend more time with family) - Never been a week that I was more excited to have posts up but I didn't have anything done for Friday and through the weekend.  I worked on a post for a recipe which I was going to try to get up on Friday but I didn't finish so I posted on Saturday.  Hopefully, I will have enough going on for next week already done because I am not going to be home for the week.
  • Review book reviews completed during the week (if done)- I have one book that I finished and review should be coming shortly.
  • Work on a few posts to work ahead for the coming week 
  • Participate in blog hops to share posts with others
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip- Done 
This week:

Family Goals
  • Spend time with family including grandparents and extended family
Personal Goals
  • Get coupons on Friday or Saturday
  • Figure out if I can get some of last week's paper since I wasn't in town
  • Cut coupons (two inserts from last week and whatever I can get for this week)
  • Shut off computer 6 nights to save energy
  • Finish reading 12 by Janet Evanovich
  • Read new review book (review due on 16th)
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)
  • Post Sunday Weekly Goals, Menu Plan Monday, Kid Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday Tip 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Nacho Cheese or Parmesan Garlic Oyster Crackers with Kernel's Seasonings

I bought some oyster crackers at Aldi's with the intention of making these yummy cheese crackers but we ate the whole bag before I even got to make them.  So this time I bought two bags of oyster crackers knowing that it might take a little more to get them made.  I got out all the ingredients to make sure that I had enough of everything else.

I poured the oil and a cap full of kernel seasonings in the plastic container over the oyster crackers.

I put the top on the container and gave it a good shake.  I added a little extra of the seasoning to cover the oyster crackers because I didn't think that they were coated enough.  I think that I ended up using half of the container when it was all done.  I spread the crackers on the baking sheet.

I baked them for 5-10 minutes and then took them out to cool.  They were easily poured into a container for storage and the powder cooked on to the crackers so that there wasn't a mess.  Some were coated more then others but they all looked yummy.

They were really tasty but with the extra seasoning that I put on them, they were a little salty.  I decided that they were so easy and the containers were already dirty so I made a batch of Parmesan garlic crackers (which were my husband's favorite).  I used the Parmesan garlic seasoning and followed all the steps with my second bag of oyster crackers....good thing I got two bags right?

I loved them!!  Both flavors were great and I can't wait to try white cheddar and some of the other flavors that I picked up on clearance at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a gift card ages ago.

These crackers would make the perfect addition to soup or a great snack. I hope that you try out this recipe for yourself to make a tasty treat, especially hot out of the oven.  We thought the nacho cheese tasted like popcorn seasoning and the Parmesan Garlic tasted like the white Cheese Its.  We enjoyed them all and they were a tasty treat at $0.89 per flavor.  I can't wait to mix flavors and see if I can get something else fun!!

Nacho Cheese or Parmesan Garlic 
Oyster Crackers

·        1 bag of Oyster crackers
·        ¼ cup vegetable oil, to coat
·        1 cap full of Kernel Season’s Nacho (or any season’s flavor)

Place all ingredients in a large container and shake lightly to coat crackers.   Bake on a non-stick cookie sheet at 325 F for 5-10 minutes until toasted.