Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Reading Round Up...




































Are you a fellow book lover? I love the way it feels to curl up in front of the fire with an amazing book.
Staying up late because you can't possibly go to bed until you find out what happens next? I'm right there with you. On the off chance you want to take a peek into my library, Here's what I've read this month...

Don't forget to make your library your second home... Not only do they have free books, e-books, audio books, DVD's, but they also have downloadable magazines for your iPad, tablet, or even your computer! Read more about free digital magazines at your library here.



The One  (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass
I love teen sci-fi and dystopian novels. I also have a secret love of all things Bachelor. Cass brought my loves together in one excellent series. After the fall of the United States, A young girl enters a bachelor type competition to win the heart of the Prince. It's a fun, easy read.






A Shadow of Light (Shade of Vampire, Book 4) By Bella Forrest
I'm the queen of free. I haven't paid for a book in a long time. I blame Facebook for the $10.00 that I've spent on amazon for this series so far. Facebook kept advertising it on my feed and I noticed how many 5 star reviews it had. I was intrigued and bought the first book for the introductory price of 99 cents. It was only a few chapters and completely hooked me. I probably would have paid $20 for each remaining book if I had to. It follows the story of a girl kidnapped and brought to an enchanted island over run by Vampires (not the nice ones... no glittering here). There's one vampire that stands above the rest and falls in love with her. He begins to change for her. I realize how insipid this sounds, but if you're into teen sci-fi and you don't mind spending a few dollars (this series isn't in most libraries), you should give it a shot. Then you can blame me when you don't do laundry and dishes for a week because you can't put your kindle down.



A Castle of Sand (A Shade of Vampire, Book 3) By Bella Forrest
See above.


A Shade of Blood (A Shade of Vampire, Book 2) By Bella Forrest
See above.



A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest
See above.


The 100 by Kass Morgan

This is a teen sci-fi dystopian again. It was a great read, and it was a bonus to find out it's also a TV show that's already released 12 episodes. Sweet! After a nuclear war, the few survivors fled to a spaceship that hovers above earth until the radiation dissipates enough for earth to become habitable. 100 juvenile delinquents are sent down to earth to "test" the atmosphere and have to survive on their own. 





Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
If you've ever read a Sophie Kinsella novel, you know if you love her. I've adored her since I discovered Confessions of a Shopoholic. Like all of her novels, this was a fun, easy, light hearted read that had me smiling at the quirky characters and groaning at the predicaments they found themselves in. 




The Undomesticated Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
This was a re-read. Probably my fourth or fifth re-read, but it's one of my favorites and really speaks to my life right now. Samantha and I both went from a high stress all consuming job to a domestic nightmare. I can relate. Reading this made me appreciate what I have and remember where I came from. I ended up baking 4 loaves of French bread while reading this because I couldn't stand reading the sensual way she approached baking without getting the urge to join in. 


Spark (Sky Chasers #2) by Amy Kathleen Ryan
This is the second of a series that is fast paced, thought provoking and intense. Refugees from a destroyed earth are heading to new earth in two spaceships. After a generation of traveling, one of the spaceships attacks the other and kills or kidnaps all of the adults on board. Leaving children and teenagers to run the ship, continue the mission and attempt to rescue the remaining adults. What I loved best about this book is how you never really know who the good guys are and the bad guys. Everyone is a shade of gray working under extreme pressure.


Fire Study (Poison Study #3) by Maria Snyder
This series was a total surprise for me. Poison Study won me over with Valek (who next to Dimitri from Vampire Academy is my favorite literary boyfriend ever), but the series carried on with Valek as a minor roll. He would only appear in a few chapters. Snyder's writing is so compelling that I didn't even care. She draws you into a world of magic and crime and politics and you really don't have time to worry about what your literary boyfriend is doing. 




Curious as to how I managed to only read books that I love this month? I use good reads, a free website and app that takes books that you review and offers recommendations based on your prior reviews. It's ah-mazing. Seriously, I'm on my third or fourth month with four stars being the lowest rating I've given a book. Usually I have to read 4 bad/mediocre books for every great book when I use the hunt and judge by the cover method at the library. Check them out here... (And follow me while you're there!)


Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things: Laundry Organization



A few of my favorite things…

Laundry Organization
 

I'm not a fan of purchasing organization and storage products in an effort to organize yourself (read more about that here). I'm a firm believer in establishing the daily habit first and then "prettying it up". Meaning that when I hang my clothes up for tomorrow, they just get arranged on a hanger. It's been this way for months. Now isn't the time to purchase a pinterest worthy garment holder. I can do that when I don't even have to think about laying my clothes out the night before. Establish the habit then invest in it.

However, if this is an already established habit and your looking around for some good deals to spruce up your laundry room (or laundry closet if you're like me), check out my polyvore creation...

Click here for the original board where you can find stores and prices as well.

I love the Tide Bra Bags and have used them for almost 4 years now. I purchased two (each holds two bras) and with almost daily use, they've held up great. It makes it easy to wash bras in the laundry with your regular wash and have them stay perfect and well formed.

The retractable clothes line is a great way to save a little money in the summer by giving the electricity a rest.

The tabletop ironing board is great, especially if you have a front loading washer and can just leave it set up over the washer and dryer.



Head here to look at prices or to purchase...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Costco Membership for only a few dollars!

LOOKING FOR A GOOD COSTCO MEMBERSHIP DISCOUNT?

4 days left to grab a Costco Membership for a few dollars after gift cards and promotions... I've been debating this for a while and couldn't resist.

 

$55 ($104.47 value) for a Gold Star Membership

  • Includes $20 Costco Cash Card 

  • Coupons for a 48 pack of Kirkland AA Batteries, a Kirkland Signature Case of Water, a Rotisserie Chicken + $4 off Kirkland Coffee and Albacore Tuna

  • Valid for new members for their first year of membership only


  •  

     

    https://www.livingsocial.com/deals/1013597-membership-bonus-costco-cash-card-coupons?ref=share-post_purchase-copy_box-web-deals&rui=194212395&rpi=149748659

    Monday, February 3, 2014

    The Chopped Onion Project. Is there a limit to cutting costs?


    Can you be too cheap?

    -the chopped onion project-

    Chopping onions to save a few dollars. Seems simple huh?


    I realized just how many onions we've been using lately. Rather than buying the 12oz bag of chopped frozen onions for $1.00 at Giant, I considered buying onions in bulk to chop myself. Wegmans has a 10 pound bag of onions for $6.99. I could use my mini food processor to dice them two or three at a time while I made dinner. "Easy!", I thought.



    As the tears poured down my face and my eyes burned so bad that I thought I was doing permanent damage, My husband kept saying "Are you OK? This doesn't look like a good idea". Then, when I noticed my 17 month old son rubbing his eyes on the floor next to me, I realized that I actually have limits to frugality. In total, It took me about 15 minutes to chop and package those onions to freeze. Those 15 minutes felt like about 10 hours and I still feel like all I can smell is onions when I walk through the kitchen.



    At the end of the day, I saved $5.81 for enough onions that will likely last me through three months. While a savings of 54% is pretty impressive on a whole food, it wasn't enough to endure the noxious fumes that plague me to this day. At the end of a year, I would have saved $24.



    We'll just live recklessly and buy the frozen chopped onions, 'cause you know, we're extravagant like that:)
    Don't be deceived by the ease of the mini processor... You're about to cry.

    Sunday, February 2, 2014

    Time Saver Tip: Lay Out Your Clothes The Night Before



    Time Savers Tip:
    Lay your clothing out

    the night before

     



    If you know me at all, you know that I'm a huge fan of FlyLady. I fought a long and hard battle to become organized, I wasn't born that way. FlyLady was instrumental in that battle and to this day, I find myself repeating her mantras. My two favorites are "Imperfect housework still blesses your family" and "You can do anything for 15 minutes".  You can find out more about how Flylady changed my life here and you can head over to the Flylady's website by clicking here.


    One of the foundations that FlyLady teaches is to lay your clothes out the night before. Every once in a while, I cheat and don't lay my clothes out and the difference in the morning is considerable. There's something so motivating knowing you can safely click that snooze button for 10 more minutes, because everything you need is ready and waiting for you when you wake up. I shower at night, so I can get ready in 10 minutes. About 3 months or so ago, I started laying out my husbands clothes too. He loves having his stuff ready to go, and I love that the closet stays organized and easy to use (which actually makes laundry an enjoyable chore). Last month, I started stuffing t-shirt bags (So easy to make!... Click here for a tutorial) with gym shorts, a t-shirt, socks, underwear, and a towel to go running in.

    There are a million beautiful pinterest-worthy ways to lay your clothes out, but I'm a fan of free and easy. The most important thing is to make it a sustainable habit, after that's done, you can pretty it up with dress forms or garment racks.

    We keep it simple, we each have a hangar... at the old place, the hangars hung on two hooks on the back of the closet door. At our new place, we haven't gotten around to adding the hooks, so we just designated the center section of the closet for our hangars.

    We fold the pants over the bottom bar of the hangar, hang the shirt over top, hang sweaters, cardigans etc over that, tucks the socks into the shirt (the pressure of the shirt and pants keep the socks in place, boxer briefs usually get tucked in here as well), Bras and panties get hung over the hanger hook.
    Shoes get set out below the hangar.

    To give myself a break on the weekends, I normally take a few extra minutes and lay out clothes for the weekend as well (since my schedule on the weekends is more lax).

    Give it a shot! Then when you've made it a routine, check out these "pinterest pretty" ways to leave your clothes out the night before.
    Photo Credit: thelittlestthing.com
     
     
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    Saturday, February 1, 2014

    Worlds Easiest Beef Enchiladas!

    THE EASIEST BEEF ENCHILADAS EVER!


    Despite being so simple, these enchiladas are mouth wateringly delicious. In less time than you can get Chinese delivered, you can being sitting down to hot and cheesy beef enchiladas.
    Feel free to add anything that you have around the kitchen... rice, beans, guacamole, onions and peppers... Live it up! Life is about change:) I tend to shy away from "recipes" and gravitate towards dinners that you can throw together and feel comfortable changing at will. Don't feel like you have to follow this exactly, change it to your liking.



    Ingredients:
    1 pound of ground beef
    1 can refried beans
    1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup (More time than money? Try this home made version here)
    1 onion
    12 flour tortillas taco size
    2 cans enchilada sauce (or try making your own here)
    2 cups cheddar cheese



    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the ground beef. Chop an onion while it browns (or be lazy and stick it in a mini food processor...I won't tell). Mix in a can of refried beans and cheddar cheese soup with the ground beef. Add the onions and combine over medium heat. Spoon a bit of enchilada sauce onto the bottom of a pan (we use a 9x13 baking dish), then fill tortillas with beef mixture, roll and place seam side down in the pan. Spoon enchilada sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle (or pile... it's all good) cheddar cheese over the tortillas and sauce.

    Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes then serve and enjoy!

    Friday, January 31, 2014

    What's Cooking? Week of January 27th: Cheap and Easy Meals.




    We use mealboard (which is life-transforming) to handle every aspect of our meal planning. If you haven't heard of it, click here to read my full post on it. It's a game changer in the kitchen. We eat simple yet delicious meals, with an emphasis on cooking extra at dinner to also give us lunch the next day (there's only so much turkey sandwiches a girl can take). We feed a crew (4 kids and 2 adults) and our grocery budget is $150/week. We usually spend between $70 and $150 and almost always buy in larger packs.

    Take a peek and grab some ideas for your owns menus this week (or steal the whole thing!)

    JAN 26 - SUNDAY
    breakfastScrambled Eggs And Sausage
    lunchHam And Cheese Sandwiches With Apple Slices, Peas And Carrots
    dinnerCampbell's Kitchen Easy Beef Enchiladas
    JAN 27 - MONDAY
    breakfastEnglish Muffin and Jam W/banana
    lunchCampbell's Kitchen Easy Beef Enchiladas
    snacksCarrots and ranch
    dinnerFettuccine Alfredo, Mashed Sweet Potatoes.
    JAN 28 - TUESDAY
    breakfastKrusteaz Light and Fluffy Pancakes, fruit salad
    snacksCheese Stick And Apples
    lunchFettuccine Alfredo, Mashed Sweet Potatoes.
    dinnerChicken And Broccoli Casserole
    JAN 29 - WEDNESDAY
    breakfastWhole Wheat Toast And Strawberry Jam
    lunchChicken And Broccoli Casserole
    snacksCrackers And Cheese
    dinnerBaked Teriyaki Chicken, rice, steamed carrots
    JAN 30 - THURSDAY
    breakfastCereals
    lunchBaked Teriyaki Chicken, rice, steamed carrots
    snacksGranola And Yogurt
    dinnerBest Brownies
    dinnerChicken Quesadilla, peppers and onions
    JAN 31 - FRIDAY
    breakfastMuffins and Bananas
    lunchChicken Quesadilla, peppers and onions
    snacksInstant Oatmeal And Chopped Apple
    dinnerBroiled Steak, Mashed Potatoes
    FEB 01 - SATURDAY
    breakfastCinnamon Roll pancakes
    :)lunchLunch date:)
    dinnerChicken Picatta, Pasta, Asparagus

    This Weeks Shopping List:
     

    angel hair pasta, 1 package for Chicken Picatta, Pasta, Asparagus

    apples, 2 for Instant Oatmeal And Chopped Apple

    bacon, 8 slices for Hungry Man's Hash Browns W/ Scrambled Egg

    bananas, 3 per person for multiple recipes

    brined capers, 2 jar for Chicken Picatta, Pasta, Asparagus

    broccoli, 20 oz frozen for Chicken And Broccoli Casserole

    butter, 1/2 cup for Best Brownies

    butternut squash

    Campbell's® Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup, 2 can for Campbell's Kitchen Easy Beef Enchiladas

    Cheddar cheese, for multiple recipes

    cheese block, 1/2 block for Crackers And Cheese

    chicken stock, 2 container for Chicken Picatta, Pasta, Asparagus

    coffee creamer

    confectioners' sugar, 1 cup for Best Brownies

    crackers, 1 sleeve for Crackers And Cheese

    cream cheese, 4 oz for Cinnamon Roll pancakes

    dine out great wraps, 1 for Great Wraps!

    english muffin, 1 package for English Muffin and Jam W/banana

    fat free mayo, 6 tablespoons for Chicken And Broccoli Casserole

    flour tortillas, 24 for Campbell's Kitchen Easy Beef Enchiladas

    green pepper, 1 for Hungry Man's Hash Browns W/ Scrambled Egg

    ground beef, 5 pound for multiple recipes

    ketchup

    matchstick carrots, 1 bag for Carrots and ranch

    milk, cup for Carrots and ranch

    mozzarella cheese shredded, 8 for Rowy's Lasagna (double Recipe- Freeze One)

    muffin mix, 1 for Muffins and Bananas

    olive oil, 1

    onions, 5 for multiple recipes

    prepared enchilada sauce, 3 cups for Campbell's Kitchen Easy Beef Enchiladas

    reduced fat shredded cheese, 2 cup for Chicken And Broccoli Casserole

    refried beans, 2 can for Campbell's Kitchen Easy Beef Enchiladas

    ricotta cheese, 2 for Rowy's Lasagna (double Recipe- Freeze One)

    scallopini chicken, 16 for Chicken Picatta, Pasta, Asparagus

    skinless chicken thighs, 24 for Baked Teriyaki Chicken

    soy sauce, 1 cup for Baked Teriyaki Chicken

    steak, 2 steaks for Broiled Steak

    super yogurt, 2 cups for Granola And Yogurt

    tortilla wrap, 10 for Chicken Quesadilla

    unsalted butter, 16 tablespoons (1 Stick) for Cinnamon Roll pancakes

    unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/3 cup for Best Brownies

    white sugar, 2 cup for multiple recipes

    whole wheat bread, 5 slices for Whole Wheat Toast And Strawberry Jam