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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Make an Impact at the Dinner Table Tonight



Here's my challenge: Have dinner together 3 times this week. I feel like I live in my car, and although the kids are getting older and can help more in the kitchen, their schedules are also filling up. As our children grow there are more schedules to juggle. It becomes an increasingly difficult task—finding time to have dinner on the table, homework done and everyone present. Having dinner together has a positive influence on children and family unity. Children who have regular family meals are 50% less likely to try drugs and alcohol (www.parentsempowered.org).  Family mealtime is an opportunity to connect with each family member, discuss family plans and have FUN. 

Often we ask our kids, “What was your favorite part of the day?” Sometimes their answers surprise us! Here's an easy way to get started on your Family Dinner Conversations this week. Try printing these conversation starters out, cutting them into strips and placing them in a bowl or jar; at dinner each person can draw a question to ask others, or you can all answer the same question; make up your own rules and just HAVE FUN. 

1.     If you were given $10,000 what would you do or buy with it?
2.    Tell one positive thing about yourself.
3.    What country would you like to visit and why?
4.    Tell about what you would like to do on a rainy day.
5.    Who is the person you most admire, why?
6.    Tell about your favorite vacation.
7.    What qualities are important to you in a spouse?
8.    If you were on an island what 3 modern conveniences would you have to have with you?
9.    If you could choose to have a new talent what would it be?
10.  What famous person would you like to have lunch with?
11.  Describe a perfect evening.
12.  What do you like about your life?
13. What did you learn today?
14.  What’s is the funniest thing that has happened to you?
15.  What is the house of your dreams?
16.  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
17.  Give one word that describes each family member.
18.  Which fairy tale character are you most like?
19.  What do you want to be when you grow up?
20.How do you handle a tough situation?
21.  Complete this sentence “I hope……”
22. If you could change your name, what would it be?
23. What is your least favorite chore? Most favorite?
24. Would you rather leave to age 35 as a millionaire, or age 85 with meager means?
25. What is your favorite birthday memory?
26. Would you acknowledge your faith in God if it meant you’d be arrested and imprisoned for 5 years? Explain
27. If you were an animal instead of a person, what animal would you be? Why?
28. If you could double your beauty, but it would cost you half your intelligence, would you do it? Why?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Freezer Meals Cookbook

I'm off on a new adventure! As you know, writing is a passion of mine, and if you love something, and you can make money doing it, shouldn't you combine those things for awesomeness?

I will be pursuing a few new writing gigs this year, and trying to help out our family budget too. We really need a vacation this year--like really, a lot, badly need one. So off I go to find something to do that will maybe earn me a little cash on the side. More on that later.

Since our lives (everyone, not just me) are so busy, I have revived an old cooking method--Freezer Meals. And since I also read other awesome websites, I have linked you to a great cookbook from Jordan at "Fun,Cheap or Free" You can find her blog here.

You can also Sign Up Here for Cookbook. The cookbook is done in conjunction with "Deals to Meals" which is another great website.

I am endorsing both these ladies and their sites, just because I like them. They did not compensate me. And of course I am attempting, as always, to make your life, and mine a bit easier.

Enjoy

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken

This is one of the easiest, go-to meals I have. It uses stuff I have on hand, and only takes a few minutes to put into the crockpot. With the busy life we are leading (seriously haven't a weekend to myself since before Thanksgiving) this is nutritious, easy and delicious. Let me know what you think!

Honey Sesame Chicken
6- 8 small chicken breasts (about 2-3 lbs)

Sauce
1 c. honey
1/2 c. BBQ sauce (I love Original Sweet Baby Ray's)
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. minced onion (dried works too)
1/2 c. soy sauce (low salt works great!)
1/2 tsp. Sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (opt.)

Other Ingredients
2-3 green onions, chopped
1-2 Tbsp. Sesame seeds
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. water

Place chicken in lined or sprayed crockpot. Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken and stir until chicken is covered in sauce.
Cook on LOW for 6 hours. Take chicken out of crockpot and shred into chunks, reserve the sauce. Pour sauce into small sauce pan.
In a separate bowl, mix the water and cornstarch together into a runny sauce. Add it to the sauce from the crockpot. Cook on Medium heat until thick.
When sauce thickens (3-5 minutes) turn off heat, and pour sauce over shredded chicken.
Top with Sesame seeds and green onion and serve over rice.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Deals

Image result for free book clip art

I love reading...I love words....I love to escape from the day-to-day overwhelming life that I sometimes lead.

So a trip to the library is like a day a spa for me. Weird, I know.

I have a collection of my own favorites, and now that my children are beginning to read them I have found a few more that I need to add to my collection. But, books are expensive. I found this awesome website that you can score great books at a great price and I had to share! Half.com is part of ebay, and it's awesome for finding contemporary, classic, text, cook, and other books for a great deal--like .75 cents for "The Giver" by Lois Lowry. The shipping is pretty cheap $2-4 per order, but when you add it up, it one of the cheapest places to get books.

My other favorite place is library overstock sales. These huge sales happen every quarter where I live, but they always have something for sale. I pay about $1 for books on tape, $1 for dvds, .10 cents for books and .5 cents for magazines.

Here's a great article with more ideas on saving money on all kinds of books--if you've got college kids or kids that really love reading-- for sure check it out. In fact, everyone just check it out--an electronic reader is great, but will never replace the printed word in my world.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How to Get the Best Deals


I did an awesome job of tracking our Christmas spending...in fact, Christmas was paid for in full, BEFORE Christmas even came!  And believe me, Christmas was awesome and everyone got what they needed AND wanted. How did I do this? A little careful planning, and know when to shop for what.

Depending on your circumstances, you can save a lot of money shopping early for things at online and in store sales. Many clothing stores have quarterly sales, where it's a good idea to pick up things for the upcoming seasons next year if you have growing kids. Other stores like Target, Wal-Mart and K-Mart have huge clearance sales on toys in July and January. Electronics and Appliances are discounted around each President's Day, and some places will even pay your sales tax.


Here are a couple of helpful links to help you plan when to buy things to save a little time and money. Do you have any other tips? If so, I'd love to hear them!

Consumer Reports Guide
My Tips for Saving Money All Year
Frugal Living Calendar

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Chile Verde 2015

Chile Verde is my "go to" dish in every restaurant we ever visit that offers it. Who serves the best? Well I love Salsa Leedos and the Rio Grande's versions, but I have to say, it's not that hard to make at home, and you can put it in your crockpot. Try this version of mine, named "Chile Verde 2015" because I've been trying to master it for years, and I think I'm pretty close this time. Let me know what you think!



2015 Chile Verde

3 lb. pork roast, boneless
2- 4 oz.  cans of diced green chilies (or Anaheim’s if you like it hot)
1 c. red salsa (habanero if you like hot)
1 28 oz. can Green Verde enchilada sauce
1 med. Onion diced
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
2 packages of pork gravy
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1-2 tsp. cumin
1-2 tsp. oregano
Cilantro and pepper to taste

Mix one packet of the gravy with the 1 c. of salsa; set other gravy packet aside.
Put all the ingredients in a lined or sprayed crockpot; cook on low for 8 hours. When it’s done cooking, take out and shred the meat. Mix the second packet of gravy into the remaining juices; add shredded meat and serve over rice or with tortillas.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Bona Floor Wet Cleaning Pad Review

As a Smiley 360 member I get to try stuff for free and review it. This week's mission 
was to use Bona Hardwood Floor Wet Cleaning Pads, and I have to say, they work 
great. They take up the dirt quickly and don't leave residue behind. 
 
I love the packaging, which is easy to store because it's in a slim, resealable bag,
and doesn't take up a lot of space. It was worth trying, and I think I'd use them
again, though I haven't seen them in many stores yet, I am sure they are on the way! 

Give them a try, and let me know what you think!