Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Deadly Heat Book Review

I was really looking at the computer system at the library to find lots of new books to read.  I am going to tell you that the computer system is the only saving grace for busy moms who want to read.  I don't have time to walk around the library and pick out books like I did before I had a kid.  Who knew that this was something that I would miss?!  I get to do it now on the computer and reserve them so that I can pick them up near the check out when I am there to get books for my son.  I found Deadly Heat (Nikki Heat) by Richard Castle and was really excited that there was a new one in the series because it seemed like it had been ages since I read the last one.  I picked it up at the library and had to wait through a few other books that I needed to get done for review.

In this book, top NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat pursues the elusive former CIA station chief who ordered the execution of her mother over a decade ago. Nikki is working with her boyfriend and Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Jameson Rook, as well as many police detectives in her office.  Trying to uncover the motive behind the past murder unearths an alarming current terror plot.  The two cases are quickly combined and the serial killer begins menacing the Twentieth Precinct and her homicide squad is under pressure to stop him quickly. The frightening murderer, known for his chilling stealth with two previous police officers killed and a string of other enforcement officials on his path to Nikki is hard to track down and identify.  Can Nikki do it before she is another victim? You won't know unless you pick up the book and find our for yourself.

I really enjoyed the book and had a hard time putting it down to get other things done.  I have had a lot of books like that recently (or at least that is what I am telling myself).  I am blaming my lack of energy on my sickness that has been dragging on but it might have something to do with the lack of sleep I am getting because I am up all night reading!  There are lots of parts in this book that you don't want to put the book down so I don't but as soon as you get through that part and read a little more there is another part that crops up that you have to see where it goes.  It is the reason that the show Castle only comes on in one hour time slots because we would just sit and watch the television all night.  This is a great book and series to pick up if you like the show and even if you have never watched it.  The stories are based on the stories that the writer is writing in the show and not on the plot of the show.  It is very interesting to see the different characters develop and evolve.  I hope that you check this out the next time you are at the library or bookstore because I promise it will entertain you and keep you at the edge of your seat.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 9/29

Tuesday- Chicken??
Wednesday-Mac and Cheese??
Thursday- Cheese Ravioli with peasant bread
Friday- Chicken and oven roasted potatoes
Saturday- Leftovers/ Pork Tacos with saffron rice and corn bread
Sunday- Baked Potato Soup/Chinese take out

I started to work on the plan for October and then surprise, October is here!!!  We are having unexpected company so I started moving the plan around for what we were having but I am still looking into it and trying to figure out what we are having this week.  I am working at the beginning of the week and preparing for the end of the week company so all bets are off as to what is for dinner.  I am still going to be thinking about that and hopefully waking up with a plan for the next few days and a list of what we need at the store so I can get it after work and before I pick up my son at the bus stop.  I already made a list of the things that I need to make and my bread machine pan broke so it got quickly taken off track.  I am going to start a new list tomorrow!!!  Hope you have a good week planned and some yummy meals in there too.

Can you believe that it is time for another new month??  I hope that you have a yummy week planned too!!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Joyful Book Review

I have gotten into the Amish fiction with the help of lots of different books that I have reviewed as well as a bunch of books from the library so I couldn't pass up this book even though it was the third book in the series.  I looked into the library to see if they had the first two that I could read before my review started but they didn't so I was going to start with the third in the series. Joyful: Return to Sugarcreek, Book Three by Shelley Shepard Gray was the next book in my pile and I was excited to start reading it even though I never read any others in the series and really didn't know a lot about it.

In this book, Elizabeth Nolt is living with her grandmother because her mother has gotten married and moved away.  She stayed in the town to take care of her grandmother and because she had been courting Randall Beiler for two years.  She thinks that it is only time before he asks her to marry him until one night when he comes calling when she isn't expecting and breaks up with her.  He says that he has a lot of pressure to do the right thing and take responsibility for his family.  He is now the older and with both his mother and father passed away, he is now response for taking care of all of the others in the family.  One of his younger brothers come calling on her because they need some help taking care of the family with cooking and cleaning.  They offer to pay her for her time and the only thing is that she will have to work for her ex but since she needs to support her grandmother and she can't turn down the family she was almost a part of so she takes the most painful job.  Check out what happens while she is there to the Beiler family and her own.

I really enjoyed this book but be prepared with a few tissues because I needed them!!!  I loved the characters as soon as I read about them.  I started the book and read it in about 24 hours because I couldn't put it down!!  The best part is that I never felt like I was missing something because I hadn't read the books earlier in the series.  Super excited to read other books by the same author because I love her writing style and the subject matter in her books.  I hope that you pick this book up at your local library or bookstore because I know that you will like it too!!!

Even better news is that I went to the library and found out that I could do the inter-library loan process and there were local libraries that would send the book to my library for me to check out.  I can read it and return it and not spend any money to get caught up on this great series!!!  Woohoo!!  So excited and put both of the first two in the request and crossing my fingers to get them soon but need to read a few more of the other books that I have in my pile already from the library so I better get reading!!!

** I was provided this book from the publisher for my honest review of the book.  All of the opinions here are my own.

Hidden in the Stars Book Review

I picked out this book because it was part of the Quilts of Love series.  I read one previously and was happy to check out another one when I got the opportunity.  I was excited to start reading  Hidden in the Stars: Quilts of Love Series by Robin Caroll.  I didn't remember what this one was about but the cover shows the ballet shoes with what looks like a dancer laying on a quilt so I interested to see how a quilt had anything to do with ballet.

Following an attack that killed her mother and had her hospitalized with stitches, broken bones and damaged vocal cords, 21-year-old gymnast Sophia Montgomery is working with the police and a lip reader to solve the crime.  Reporters find her in the hospital after the announcement of her placement on the Olympic team. She has no choice but to accept her estranged grandmother’s offer to return to her house because her mothers house was burned to the ground. In the course of the investigation, Sophia and Detective Julian Frazier start having feeling for each other but the Detective hides his feelings as concern for a trauma victim and focuses instead on finding the killer.  They learn the clues to solving the case may be right in front of them, displayed in Sophia’s mother’s “special” quilt design. Read the book to find out what clues they find to solve the crime.

I enjoyed it and read it in less than 24 hours.  I might have stayed up until 2 am reading it the first night because it jumps right into the action and is hard to put down. It has great writing that has you directly relating to the characters and wanting to see the best results for them.  I know that I will have to search out other books by this author because I know that if the characters and plot are even half as interesting as the ones in this book, I will be hooked.  I hope that you pick up this book at your local library or bookstore to see if it doesn't make you stay up to find out what happens.  Consider yourself warned!

**I was provided a copy of this book for my honest review from the publisher.  All opinions here are my own.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kids Reading: 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (Classic Seuss) by Dr. Seuss was one of my favorite books as a kid so I was excited to pull out this classic for my son.  Beware that it is a big book so if your child doesn't want to sit through a longer book and doesn't like to take breaks, this might not be the best book for you yet...but it will be!  My son isn't great about letting you start a book and put a book mark in to read the rest later and wants you to start all over the next time again...even if you can't make it through.  I read the beginning of the book and started doing the folding after a few pages.  Then, I read while he colored and decorated.  It is helpful because even though the story is interesting....it is long!!

In this book, Bartholomew Cubbins has a problem.  When Bartholomew visits town to sell cranberries at the market for his parents, the King's procession screeches to a halt in front of him; King Derwin then leans out of his coach, demanding to know why Bartholomew hasn't respectfully removed his hat. "But, Sire, my hat is off." He shows the king the hat in his hands that he's just doffed, but sure enough, another identical one sits atop his head. He takes that hat off only to reveal another... and another, and another, and another. Poor Bartholomew goes through 45 hats, then 136, then 233, as the angry king calls in every expert in the kingdom, from Sir Snipps the haberdasher to the Father of the Father of Nadd. In the end, Bartholomew barely gets away with his head (forget about the hats!)

The best craft to do after reading this is to make a newspaper hat.  It is super easy to use newspaper or any bigger paper to fold into a hat.  Don't remember how to make one.... I didn't either.  I followed these instructions.  It is easy to fold and make out of one page of the newspaper.  I made one and so did my son at the same time.

The kids can decorate it after it is all folded with markers and stickers to make it as unique as they want.  If you have a feather like Bartholomew does, make sure you stick it in there because I am sure that they will be totally into reading this book again with their hat on their head.  I hope that you try this fun book and craft.

Not ready to fold and make paper, you can get these fun visors at the craft stores pretty cheap and the kids can decorate with stickers or gems to also have a fun time.

Hope you have lots of fun with this activity and book and good luck making it through this long and entertaining story!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen Book Review

I was looking through the list of the books that was available through Blogging for Books to find out what I was going to read next.  They sent me an email about one that looked interesting so I was looking around to find more details about it...but then I found another cookbook.  I know that I have a problem because this is my third cookbook recently and I need to get this under control but I really like reading cookbooks and trying out new recipes.  This one spoke to me more because I had seen the show where the author/cook was featured!!  I had to get it right!!!  After a complicated UPS delivery of a pet door that was for the people on the next street over which I had to chase down the truck to give back, the UPS man came back with a  Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen by Francine Bryson which I happily accepted!!  I even cheered when I saw the cover because I was ready to check out some of these yummy southern recipes.

This cookbook was the best kind with lots of reading and helpful hints.  I loved the foreward by Jeff Foxworthy and the back story about how she didn't win the show... which did start me thinking that I needed to figure out who did because I was hoping that she would win (so I think that I decided she did).  The show was great if there is anywhere that you can go back and watch the challenges that they had every week...I know that I wouldn't be able to do it.  

There was a story at the beginning about how she learned to cook with her grandmothers and how she grew up and I was hooked.  It is an ideal way to grow up and I would love for my son to have those memories of cooking but they are only going to be with me since we don't live close to his grandmothers and neither really cook/bake anymore.  I was supposed to be cleaning the house and all my weekend chores but I couldn't put it down.  Her personality came through on the show and it was the same on paper which just makes you feel like you are sitting in a friends kitchen and getting a recipe that they have made and you want to bring home to try yourself.  Here are the chapters so that you can see if this might be the right book for you:

Cookies and Bars
Cakes Like Granny Made
Sunday Go-to-Meeting
Baked Goods to Show Off
Biscuits and Bread
Candy and Truffles

I loved the little note at the beginning of the recipe to give you details about how it relates to her.  The first is a butter crust from one grandmother and the second is the crust from her other grandmother.  There is a tip at the bottom to add vanilla to enhance the flavors in the pie even though it is listed as an optional ingredient so it is nice to know when she uses it.  The second gives a tip that the crust is better with the juicy fruit pies.  There are notes in recipe saying what products she uses like Crisco or White Lily flour.  It is nice to know those details and it adds more to the down home feel that you are getting this recipe straight from her kitchen.  I know that I will be able to read this one over and over again!!

My biggest downside is that many recipes use self rising flour which I don't use.  I prefer to add the baking soda, powder and other ingredients separate so I would have liked a little conversion chart to say use self rising or make your own.  I would also love to see a picture of every single recipe in the book but since this book is jam packed with lots of great recipes, I hope to try to make some for myself.  I know that I want to start with her chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie recipes as well as try a few of her biscuits.  I would love to have a few of her other treats to so I will have to put them on my list for a special occasion.  I hope that you check this out because you will be confused as to whether you should keep it in the kitchen or next to your bed because of the great stories and the great recipes!!  I promise a good read either way whether you are looking for the story or just want great recipes.  I can't wait to have a few of these yummy recipes!

** I was provided a copy of the book through Blogging for Books for my honest review and all opinions here are my own.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 9/22

Monday- Philly Cheese Steak Pasta
Tuesday- Grilled Chicken with chicken rice
Wednesday- Chicken Nugget Wraps with homemade fries
Thursday- Olive Oil Pasta with peasant bread
Friday- Chicken and Rice Casserole
Saturday- Leftovers/ Tortilla Crusted Chicken with Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes
Sunday-Leftovers/Homemade Pizza

Our Monday meal got moved back from Sunday because my husband declared it was time to get a pizza from Little Caesars because we were all sick and no one wanted to clean up.  We are working in some meals this week in hopes that we are all feeling better like grilled chicken seasoned the way that I decide on the day of the meal or what I find around the house to marinate in.  My son's only meat substance is chicken nuggets so we try to work those into the menu plan.  We used to eat a different meal while he was eating those but we have decided to make them into a wrap with cheese and lettuce and we are really happy with the new meal.  My husband puts on hot sauce and I use honey mustard and it tastes like a wrap that we would get at a restaurant almost but much healthier.  Our weekly pasta dish is going to be Olive Oil Pasta and my son eats his plain with butter and garlic salt.  We haven't had the chicken and rice casserole in ages so here is pretending that it is getting cold by the end of the month while I start on the winter meals.  At least I haven't planned soup yet but it is coming!!!  Sunday is a mystery depending on the how the rest of the week turns out and it might be homemade pizza or breakfast for dinner which we also haven't had in ages.  I hope that you have a yummy week planned too!!!Hopefully we will all be feeling better so that I can pull this off!!

Friday, September 19, 2014

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes Book Review

I picked out this book from my book review process because the main idea sounded interesting and who doesn't like a book about baking....especially with a cupcake on the cover.  YUM!  I was excited when it came in the mail and couldn't wait to start reading it.  I was stuck on my previous book and not making any progress and what pushed me through it was knowing that this book was waiting on the other side.  All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant was a great book to pick up especially as the weather started getting a little colder.  Of course, I love to read cookbooks so this was just an extension with a great recipe in the back to try!!

In this book, Kat Varland is living in the same small town she grew up in Bayou Bend, Louisiana.  At twenty-six years old, she is looking to get out from under her family's shadow being the preachers daughter and working in Aunt's bakery making only chocolate, vanilla and strawberry cupcakes.  She is looking to do lots more baking and expand her world to the big city and have a family.  Her best friend, Lucas Brannen, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off called Cupcake Combat which she loves to watch on TV.  She gets an email that she is accepted and her life changes forever.  She is off to the big city to try out some of her more "weird" cupcake recipes that she loves to hopefully land an internship at a famous bakery in New York City.  Find out what happens in the reality show and her life during the process.  You might be amazed and what happens!!

I really enjoyed the book.  It started off really quickly and got you interested in the characters and invested in what they were going to do.  I read the first four chapters the first night and had trouble putting it down to go to sleep.  I knew that I wasn't going to have any trouble making the deadline to publish my review but I was going to have trouble getting enough sleep if I couldn't put the book down.  I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next and I am already ready to read another book by this author!!  Who doesn't love to watch a good reality TV cooking show... I DO!!!  It was funny to read the behind the camera report in the book and imagine what you miss on the shows you watch on TV.  I hope that you check out this book at your local library or bookstore to see if it is something that you would also enjoy.

** I was provided this book from the publisher for my honest review of the book.  All of the opinions here are my own. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The First Phone Call from Heaven Book Review

I have always loves Mitch Albom's books so when I saw a new book was coming out.  I put it on my reserve list to get The First Phone Call from Heaven: A Novel by Mitch Albom.  It took a little bit to get to the top of the list but when I did, I was reading too many other books and had to wait.  I did finally make a little bit of time to read it and then I got a surprise few books in that I needed to review so it got put on the back burner again but I was excited to finally get to read it.

This book tells the story of a small town in Coldwater, Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from dead relatives and friends. Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out whether it is a miracle or a hoax. One reporter shows up to find out what is going on but the reports are so popular that many followers show up in town.  The town is crowded with lots of people wanting to hear from their own dead relatives and looking for inspiration from heaven. 

I did enjoy the book but not as much as his other books.  Most of his books are the ones that you put on the shelf and read over and over.  This book was hard for me to get into the beginning but it was well worth trying once I got into it.  I am not sure if it was just a busy time but I didn't make enough time to read this book in big chunks but I find if you don't sit down and get to know the characters.  It makes it hard to remember when there are so many characters in the book as well as the fact that the book goes back and forth in the middle of the chapters to different characters so you have to pay close attention.  The book was interesting with some emotional ups and down but I ended happy that I read it.  I hope that you enjoy it as well.  Make sure you check it out the next time you go to the library or bookstore.  Let me know if you have read it what you think!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 9/15

Monday- Chicken Stir Fry with green beans on simple fried rice or white rice
Tuesday- Sausage Tortelloni with garlic peasant bread
Wednesday- Salsa Sloppy Joes with homemade rolls and fries
Thursday- Grilled Chicken with herb rice
Friday- ??
Saturday- Chicken Fried Rice/ Burgers and Brats
Sunday- Leftovers/Philly Cheese Steak Pasta with egg noodles

I am going to try the stir fry on Monday with frozen veggies and see how it works.  I have a lot of veggies and I want to use them up and I think that if I cook them frozen that we will still like them and they will be crispy and fresh.  I have a bunch of random things left in the freezer which I still haven't cleaned out so I am hoping to clean up a bunch with this week and try to get it cleaned out this month before the cold winter months hit.  My husband loves fried rice so I am hoping to use the leftover rice from Monday to make some for him with a bunch of veggies and chicken that I have around the house and in the freezer.  I hope that you have a yummy week planned too!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mid Month Budget Update

Can you believe that it is the middle of the month already?  I was hoping to make it to Harris Teeter to get some deals before this weekend so I could post it but I will put that in another post if I make it there.

Giant $1.67 

I used the end of my gift card ($0.70) that I had and I spent $1.67 out of pocket to get a little lunch meat for my husband's lunch.  I knew that this would only last a few days but there was very little on sale and I was looking for a better deal and waiting for my monthly credit from Giant to get my big shopping trip.

Giant $11.19

My son is really into ketchup and there was a coupon for Heinz which is our go to brand so I figured that I better go figure it out where to get it.  I stopped and Giant and the sign said that the big one was on sale for $2.50 so $2 after coupon.  I figured that it was a good deal since I sort of missed the stock up period of the summer BBQs so I grabbed three.  They didn't ring up on sale so the lady went to check the shelf and did an override on the price without any questions because the shelf price wasn't correct and was last week's sale.  I grabbed the ham to make sure that I had enough for my $10 credit if it was going to come off but I thought that they were going to be sending a gift card this month because of changes in the computer system but worth trying so that I didn't mess it up.  Plus the ham was on sale and there was a coupon.  I didn't get the credit but still got some savings.

Aldi's $32.35 + $4.60= $36.95

I decided to head to Aldi's but I made it there right around lunch so I got way too much!!  Although we needed lots.  I got turkey, stick margarine, tub margarine, baking soda, vegetable oil, shortening, saltine crackers, oyster crackers, pretzels, nacho cheese chips and salsa chips.  I grabbed a extra bag of pepperoni and container of cheese which I now know that we didn't need, oops!! I did also grab a container of garlic salt which we have not used before but it was like the one that my son likes so I figured it was worth a try for under $1.  Got a lime because they were on sale for $0.29 and they make a yummy dinner with lime tacos and something different then we normally make.  I went back in after putting everything in the car to get more potatoes after thinking about the menu plan for the month cause we like our potatoes!!  Not the end of the world that I got stuff we didn't need because we will use it but a little outside the plan since I try not to get things that we aren't going to use right away but that is what you get for going at lunch time!!

Not so bad for half of the month but I really need to get out and get a few more things like toilet paper, tissues and paper towels.  It is so hard for me to get a great deal on them anymore and I really need to settle for an okay deal soon so that I can get some in the cupboard before we totally run out because then we will be in trouble.

The great news is that I did get my $10 Giant Gift card in the mail so that I can use it for some other deals through the month so even though I already spent a bunch of money at Giant so far, there will be plenty of other deals that I will be able to take advantage of.  I have been baking and cooking a lot so we have had homemade cookies, cupcakes, and quick and yeast breads through the weeks so we have had a little bit of something fun using things that are already in the house.  I am hoping to make a few more things so that we have lots of food to carry us through the month without a bunch more out of pocket to leave room for the other things that we need to get but we will see how it goes.  How it your month going??

Total Retail $82.15
Total Savings $32.34
Total OOP $49.81

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sweet: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy and More Book Review

The cover on this book alone made me want to get it and what is better than yummy cupcakes, cookies and candy!!  I don't know anything so I signed up to get this book and it came in the mail in just a little bit. Sweet: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy, and More by Editors of Food Network Magazine with it's great cover was calling to me so I picked it up knowing that I wouldn't have enough time to make anything from it for a little bit with the start of school coming quickly.

The beginning of the book starts with a table of contents with pictures.  It makes you know exactly what you are looking for because you are doing it with your eyes (or your stomach) instead of looking at the words.  It is an interesting trick to help you find the recipe that you are looking for quickly.  The pictures are amazing and have you wanting to eat the food off the page.  The beginning of some of the recipe have helpful tips like if you don't have buttermilk, use whole milk and yogurt or sour cream.  I never have buttermilk and probably won't head to the store to get it for one recipe so that is super helpful to know that I can make it anyway.  There are little tidbits at the beginning of each recipe to help you in some way with that recipe.

The table of contents is:

Cupcakes and Whoopie Pies
Cookies and Bars
Candy and Snacks
Pies and Crumbles
Fake-Out Cakes
Show-Off Cakes
Frozen Treats
Holiday Desserts

The only downside is that this only a recipe book and doesn't have any of the interesting discussions from the author because it is a group of articles and recipes put together by the editors.  It doesn't make it a bad cookbook only less interesting to read cover to cover.  Still with the great pictures, it will provide hours of entertainment even before you make it into the kitchen.  Some of the recipes a little too complicated for me to have on my list all the time because I am not regularly using the pastry bag or some of the more time consuming steps used in the recipes.  Other recipes are interesting and I might try the cupcake without the complicated frosting because my family doesn't like frosting as much as the cake.  There are some great ideas and places to start so here is hoping that I get to make one of the recipes soon.  The top of the list are chocolate chip cookies and brownies that I want to try first.  The ones that look yummy are the Apple Cider Doughnuts so I hope to make them sometime too!!!

**  I was provided this book from the publishers through Blogging for Books for my honest review.  All of the opinions here are my own.

Friday, September 12, 2014

It Had to Be You Book Review

I was super excited to have the second book in the series to start right after reading the first book.  I picked up It Had to Be You (Christiansen Family) by Susan May Warren right after finishing the other book.  It was as hard to put down as the first one so I finished it quickly making it the first book of September.  I hope that there is another book set to come out soon but I am sure that I am going to have to wait a little longer since I just got the third book on pre-release a little while ago!!!

This book followed Eden Christiansen who is the sister of Darek and Owen who has taken the sidelines in her own life to be a cheerleader for other people.  She spends most of her time looking after her younger brother, Owen, while he is starting his rookie year in the NHL.  Owen is acting out and Eden has turned her mothering into high gear trying to help him but it is only making Owen act out more.  At the same time, Eden is stuck in a job that she isn't happy with writing the obits for the paper.  She feels that writing about death is not really reporting.  She comes upon an unlikely friendship with Jace Jacobson, another NHL hockey player who has a bad reputation for violence in the game and with the women outside the game.  Eden learns about herself while searching for the family of a John Doe that they find in the hospital with Jace and you will never believe everything that happens in this book so you have to pick it up to believe it.

I really enjoyed this one because each book follows one of the Christiansen Family so you get to get a different view on every book.  This book just happened to follow one of the daughters so I thought that I could relate more to the situation that she got herself into because she gave up all of herself to help others in her family.  Although helping people is something great, there is a lot to be lost if it is the only thing that you do and never put yourself first.  She learns this the hard way but you will be amazed what comes out of it.  This was the third in the series that I read (even though it was the second book) and I really want to go back and read the one I read first again to see what I missed because I didn't know the characters.  Lucky for me that after finishing the book, there was the prequel "I Really Do Miss Your Smile" so I got a little more to read after finishing the book.  I can't wait for the next in the series to come out and I will be looking for it soon!!!  I hope that you check this out at your local library or bookstore and see what you think.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thrifty Thursday: My Stockpile of Baking Supplies

Are you already thinking, How does a cupboard of baking supplies save money?  I shopped for my baking supplies through the holidays last year.

Why is that important?  Because the sales for baking supplies are on sale then!!!  I got at least 10 bags of unbleached flour at Wegman's for $0.99 each which are normally much more expensive (especially not at Wegman's because they can be up to $4).  My mom bought me a few extra bags of Aldi's flour which I had in the wings for when my Wegman's flour is all gone.  I got brown sugar and white sugar for super cheap.

 When the Gold Medal flour went on sale at the grocery store, I got the bread flour which was on sale for the same price as the regular flour at between $1.50 to $2.00.  There are very rarely coupons for flour but I did have a few in the last few years which I used with rain checks for the flour at the price that I wanted to pay!!!  Normally these are $4 or more per bag so getting them more then half price was amazing.  I got all that I could pile in the cupboards and was super excited to see how many I would use.  Did you see in that picture that I only have 3 left (they are the yellow bags in the back)?? 

I use the stores of baking supplies all year to make bread and treats.  I store my sugar in the container on the left and the flour in the container on the right to use all the time.  There is a little section in the middle that I use for the Crisco sticks that I got for $0.19.  There is also a box of dry powder milk.  I also have another container of bread flour which is too tall so I keep it on the counter.

Can you believe that I have used over 12 bags of flour and 10 bags of bread flour already and it hasn't been a year??  I can't keep track of the sugar count because I got them every time they went on sale and the number went up and down a little more but I know I used a lot of them too!!  I might have a baking problem!!!

Why am I telling you this? Because the sales are starting soon for the holiday baking season so you can make your own baking stockpile.  It is a great time to stock up on a little bit of baking items to use through the year when they hit the rock bottom prices.  It will save lots of money because every time you pull out a bag of flour you already saved $3 because you don't have to pay the current shelf price.

Good luck and happy shopping!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kids Wednesday: Learning Homonyms and Homophones

I had been thinking about how to work on homonyms for awhile. My son loves joke books but doesn't always get why they are funny when they use words that are homonyms or close to homonyms.  He is very literal and I thought that he would be amused with more detail into these funny words.  I found a neat list here and thought that I would download it and work on more information around it.

I went online to find a few books that would work to help us learn more about these fun words including the following:

by Brian P. Cleary

by Gene Barretta

by Nancy Coffelt

We read the first book at least five times the first day that we got it out of the library.  There are so many fun books out there to read that teach kids about homophones and homonyms but I really recommend the bear bear bare book if you can find it.  We had a blast learning about them and it comes up in daily conversation now!!  It is always good to add a little early on a topic that you are going to learn more about when they get older.

Since I started this project to bring it into a discussion about jokes, I pulled out a joke book that I had as an activity which uses both homophones and homonyms in the jokes.  It helps the kids practice handwriting and lets them draw a picture on the page.  I figured that I could pick out a few and we would discuss whether there were words used that had different meanings or spellings that made the joke funny. You can download your own joke book here.  She had a part two before but it is no longer available but if part one turns out to be a hit, there is also a back to school version here.  My son enjoyed the jokes and even drew a picture for this one which was super funny!  It is going to be a great memory book when he is older.

In my searching to find the book that I downloaded a long time ago, I found this one.  I quickly downloaded excited about how well it worked into the lesson plans and included lots of new jokes.

Great idea for older activities is for them to write there own book or story with the list of words.  You can make a rough draft and then write it into a book with pictures to go even farther.  I hope that you have fun with homonyms and homophones too!  There is lots of learning to be done whether child or adult with these great words!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

August Reading Review

I enjoyed my last month of summer reading with some new books and great authors.  Did you have a good month of reading?  I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did.

If you missed my review of the book, please click on the title and it will take you back to the original summary and review.  I hope that you add a few more books to your reading list and let me know which ones to add to mine!!!

by Cindy Woodsmall

by Cindy Woodsmall

Wicked Business
by Janet Evanovich

Storm Front
by Richard Castle

Treat Yourself
by Jennifer Steinhauer

A Grand Design
by Amber Stockton

Kindergarten: It Isn't What It Used to Be
by Susan Golant and Mitch Golant

Take A Chance On Me
by Susan May Warren

Books Read for 2014

January     8
February    9
March       6
April          6
May          8
June          13
July          10
August       9

Total Books 69

Monday, September 8, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 9/8

Monday- Rosemary Chicken with Potatoes
Tuesday- Buffalo Chicken Wraps with mac and cheese
Wednesday- Chicken Nuggets with homemade fries
Thursday- Homemade Pizza
Friday- Olive Oil Pasta with garlic bread
Saturday- Leftovers/Pork Carnitas with Saffron Rice and Corn Bread
Sunday- ???

We are going to have some family in town with the plans at the end of the week accommodating more people.  We weren't sure how many to plan for so I put some very flexible meals on the menu that we have all of the items in the house so we can make more or add side dishes if we need to.  I look forward to trying some new pork tacos that I have never made to use the pork that we have in the freezer.  I am also hoping that my husband loves it because he is super picky when it comes to tacos and pork.  We are leaving Sunday open because we don't know if we are still having guests but if they leave we will have leftovers and if they stay we might do take out or Turkey and Rice soup.  I hope that you have a yummy week planned too!!!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Swirl Pound Cake with Jif Spread

I have made this basic yogurt pound cake a few times and I really enjoy it the next day after it has had time to set for awhile.  I enjoyed it with raspberry jelly more then strawberry because the flavor was more rich so I decided to try it with the Jif Chocolate Hazelnut Spread that I got at Harris Teeter.

I was excited to get a few during the last sale for $0.73 but this sale, I got six for free!!!  I was super excited so I started using those two that I was holding on to for a special occasion.  In case you have never had this before, it is like liquid spreadable chocolate with a great taste of hazelnuts.  It is good to eat on a spoon (which I did) or in a few of my favorite recipes:  Nutella Oat Breakfast Cookies and Nutella Chocolate Chip Brownies.  I gathered all of my ingredients and I was ready to go.

I put the butter and the sugar in the bowl to cream.

Then, I used the electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar.

I added the egg to the mix which always fluffs up the butter.

With the vanilla added, it is getting to be a lot more liquid.

I thought that it was starting to look like icing at this point.  What do you think?

Then come the dry ingredients.

Which are mixing alternately with the yogurt to get the final batter.

I spread half (or a little more than half) of the batter in the pan because the toppings tend to fall when cooking so best to have more of the bread below or else you end up with the topping stuck to the pan.

Then, spread the Jif Chocolate Spread across the top as evenly as you can but don't worry because it will spread out a little more when baking.

Add the additional batter to the top and spread to cover.  Try to make sure it gets edge to edge but as long as it gets over the chocolate, you are all set.

Bake in the oven for around 50 minute until it is done in the center.  I might have taken this one out a little early because it started to sink in the middle a little but it was still good even if it was a little undercooked on the bottom.

When you cut into the bread, you get a nice chocolate center to enjoy.

I hope that you try this recipe and see if it isn't a great treat by itself or with some whipped cream or berries on top.  We ate it all plain but I am sure that you will enjoy it too!!!

Chocolate Hazelnut Swirl Pound Cake

1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. imitation lemon extract (or zest of 1 lemon), opt.
3/4 c. Greek yogurt (if you use lemon or vanilla yogurt you can leave out the extract)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda 
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 c. Jif Chocolate Hazelnut Spread or Nutella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the egg, egg white, vanilla and lemon extract and mix until well blended.   Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients and Greek yogurt alternately to the batter, starting and ending with dry and mix until just combined.

Spread a little more than half of the batter into a 9x5-inch loaf pan.  Top with chocolate spread, leaving a small border around the edge.  Do no swirl the spread.  Top with remaining batter and carefully spread out evenly.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert to a wire rack and cool completely.

Make sure you check out the original recipe on Eat Cake for Dinner because she puts a glaze on hers that looks amazing with her strawberry bread!