Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blogging for Books: When God Created My Toes Book Review

After a few fiction books I had the pleasure of reviewing a children's book or should I say my girls had the pleasure of reviewing it?

I thought the book was cute. It kept my 4-year-old triplets entertained and they very much enjoyed the graphics and the silliness of the girl in the story.

As for me I thought some of the rhymes were forced and a few didn't make sense. I don't know what ABC's have to do with knees other than that they rhyme. I also didn't like that the girl misbehaved - while it is natural it reminded me of the book "No David!" and while my girls do love that book I'm not a huge fan. In a Christian book I would rather see the misbehavior represented avoided or addressed as in forgiveness or discipline and since neither is the topic of the book avoidance would seem the better choice.

That being said we were able to focus on the fact that God created each part of our bodies and that He is the creator.

Bottom line: my 4-year-old girls enjoyed the book but I found it to just be okay and wouldn't highly recommend it to other moms.

To purchase the book head to Amazon

Disclaimer: I received this book as part of Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group's Blogging for Books program - the views are my own.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Menu Planning: End of the Month


I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! We had a great time worshiping at church and then enjoying a HUGE dinner with our church family at our pastor's house. With lots of activities for the kids I actually had time to sit down and chat :)

I don't know about you but I have a LOT of ham now. Not a bad thing - I love ham and it makes a lot of different recipes that we don't get to eat very often - due to a very low grocery budget for the week most of the recipes will have to wait until May but I am planning to stick at least one in this week!

Monday: Ham and mashed potatoes leftovers (no this isn't the recipe but we have so much it affords me a night off from cooking)

Tuesday: Pronto Pasta & Sausage Skillet (a Pampered Chef recipe - no ham)

Wednesday: Sloppy Joe Biscuit Casserole (didn't have it last week)

Thursday: New-Look Scalloped Potatoes & Ham

Friday: Dinner on the go - we have a few different activities planned for Friday night so we'll have to fit dinner in somewhere

Saturday: Pizza Calzone Bake or some other sort of homemade pizza - I had a few different pizza ideas on my monthly menu plan this month but I didn't get to most of them

I have to say that when I budget I'm thrilled when the month is over :) It's a fresh start again soon! This is also my week of menu planning for next month. I already have a file going on my computer so my first stop is that file followed by my April folder to find any recipes that I didn't end up using. After that I look at our family favorites and if that doesn't fill up my calendar I check my favorite websites and cookbooks.

It's kind of like a treasure hunt to find the best tasting recipes for the month - my favorite is when I can find something new that we all love that becomes a family favorite for months to come - yum!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring Break Organizing Day 4

This may looks like cheating but really it's not - really it's a visual of the end of a LOOOONG organizational project - my entire basement in fact. Before all the yard sales a few weeks ago I sorted bucket after bucket, toy after toy and this is what I had left:

This is the before though it's not like my family room normally looks like this (stop laughing...) - these are just the last of the buckets I had to sort and I've kept them in my family room to motivate myself to go through them.





Did it work?

Eventually...



But it's done. Save a few little follow-ups everything has been sorted and all small, annoying pieces have been thrown away!! I am praying that this means no more tedious toy sorting but I'm afraid as long as I have so many small children that just won't be the case.

I don't have plans to organize over Easter weekend as I will be spending lots of time with my family taking pictures and celebrating our risen Lord.

I hope you all have a very blessed holiday weekend.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring Break Organizing Day 3

So today wasn't exactly a closet but it was close :) I'm branching out! Today was Caleb's turn. I have to just say that he's a boy and having a neat and tidy room is VERY low on his priority list no matter how much I suggest that he pick things up - even if he just picks up enough so that firefighters would have a clear path to his bed in case of an emergency!

Boys...

Here's the before - this is more of a shelving unit then a dresser but it serves to hold Caleb's clothes for now. He always wants to rearrange his room and this is the current situation - at some point he probably needs a big boy dresser :)



And the after - notice the imperfections - I could only get so far! But at least all the clothes that are too small for him are removed and the mound of clothes is OFF the floor.



This is Caleb's closet - I have to say I hate the kids rooms in our house - for whatever reason we can't seem to arrange them well and the closets are all basically worthless - dressers don't fit well with their beds, the windows and the closets - hard to explain but all the closets have become either makeshift dressers (like the triplets) or almost unusable like Caleb's. But I did manage to get some things hung up in his closet and it's working for that :) The chair was his idea...



The after - just a bit more cleaned up.



Tomorrow will be a non-closet day...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Break Organizing Day 2

I wasn't trying for the closet theme and I DO have PLENTY of other areas to organize but having clothes in order is such a stress relief for me. And nothing is more stressful than 3 little girls standing around me begging to tell them what to wear - which is kind of a joke because they NEVER want what I pick out anyway. So, in order to keep my sanity today I tacked the triplet's closet.

The dreaded before shot (I think it's worse than mine was!):



And after:



The girl's room doesn't have the space for a dresser and I am NOT the hanging-up type so instead we have buckets - each one with it's own theme: PJ's - one for winter, one for summer; winter clothes non-matching, winter clothes matching; summer clothes non-matching, summer clothes matching; dresses - you get the idea. By matching I mean triplet matching outfits - sometimes they dress alike, sometimes they don't. So, there's a bucket for that.

That's as organized as their clothes get :) Mine can be neatly folded but for them, that's a waste of my time - remember the outfit searching?

The other side of the closet is now empty and we'll use those shelves for all the girl's Pet Shops houses and a few other toys - should make the room cleaner in general and that's always a good thing!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Break Organizing Day 1

Yes, technically today is day 2 of Spring Break but yesterday I had to menu plan and you know how important that is!

My goal at the beginning of the year was to try and post weekly on organization. Since the organizational blog I like OrgJunkie was hosting her 52 weeks of organizing I figured I would participate. But life is never that simple and waaay too many Fridays have come and gone without my posts (specifically 15 Fridays!). So, I decided I would do a little organizing this week while the kids were home. Seems odd but somehow I seem more motivated to work while they're here plus I can't come and go as easily since any errand requires me to take all 5 kids with me so I find myself home more.

Anyway, here's what I did today:

Before - honestly I was surprised it had gotten to this point - it was organized then life happened and it wasn't anymore but a little bit of clothes shopping (with sales and coupons of course) got me in the mood to clean out all the stuff I no longer loved in my closet.



And after:



I have to say I found a LOT of stuff I didn't love - over 35 pieces of clothing! That's a lot of tops and bottoms that I just didn't feel I could wear any longer and I'm excited for them to find new homes :)

Interestingly enough week #15 in OrgJunkie's 52 weeks was closet organizing - I swear I had NO idea!

Looking forward to tackling another space tomorrow...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Menu Planning: Spring Break


This week is the kids Spring Break from school meaning they are home, all day, all of them. Of course they look forward to this - honestly I often wonder why - they're basically bored with a few minutes. Sure we have some things planned but sometimes they have to fend for themselves and they get bored. Go figure.

Because they are home all day it leaves me with the task of not only planning dinner but also planning lunch. Lunch is simpler, of course, but it's still good to have a plan because I'm quite certain I hear Chick-fil-A calling my name and right now that's just not in my budget!!

Lunch:

Monday: Hot dogs, stick cheese and grapes
Tuesday: Pizza with friends
Wednesday: Spaghetti (this pretty much means noodles for the kids - they don't like sauce - not sure why)
Thursday: Mac N Cheese
Friday: Sandwiches for a picnic lunch at Frying Pan Park - it's a field trip with the moms of multiples - can't wait!

Dinner:

Monday: Mini Meatloaves with mashed potatoes and green beans

Tuesday: Creamy Baked Ziti (x2 for a friend who recently had a baby)

Wednesday: Chicken Taco Bake

Thursday: Sloppy Joe Biscuit Casserole

Friday: Deluxe Pizza Goulash

Saturday: Santa Fe Chicken Casserole - this is another Philadelphia Cooking Creme Recipe and I'm excited to try it!

Sunday: Easter :) We are looking forward to a day to celebrate our risen Lord with friends and hopefully family.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chicken Sale At Harris Teeter

Normally I wouldn't do a whole post about one sale or about meat but I wanted to take a minute and point out a good deal on healthy meat.

While our family isn't trying to "go" organic with our food I do like to find healthy food for our kids to eat and we always eat lots of fruit and vegetables. I also find that the biggest complaint against couponing is that there is a lack of coupons for "good" food. For the most part this seems to be true though I do see a LOT of changes towards coupons for better foods.

This week is a great example - there's actually a coupon for meat in the paper!

At Harris Teeter till Tuesday Perdue Fit & Easy Chicken Breasts are on sale for $2.99/lb - add that to the $0.75/1 coupon from RP 4/10 and you get another $1.50 off your pack. For one pound that would be just $1.49.

I picked up 2 packs - one of which normally sells for $8.45 and I paid just $3.10 - that's a significant savings on quality meat.

If you're new to couponing do stick around - there's a deal to be had on just about everything one day or another - you just have to know when and where to look :)

Check out Moneywise Moms for her deal on chicken as well as some links to healthy coupons.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Corruptible Book Review

I know I've already shared my love of blogging for books but I'll just say it again: I love it!

I love it especially when I get to read a great book! Once again I received a free copy from Waterbrook Multnomah's Publishing Group's Blogging for Books program that was a second book in the series. So once again I turned to Amazon and using gift cards from Swagbucks I ordered the first book in the series.

Mark Mynheir is an author I'm familiar with having read his previous series so I was quite excited to read his new books and I wasn't disappointed. Mark is an author with a LOT of law enforcement experience so his writing is extremely real which I thought was great!

Take a look at my review:

Mark Mynheir’s The Corruptible is a fascinating, cynical and realistic read. If you ever wanted to know what life is like as a cop this would be the way to do it. I almost felt this book could be research for an aspiring writer of mysteries! Not in a bad way but the detail was amazing – I felt as though I were there.

The Corruptible is Book #2 in the Ray Quinn Mystery Series. In Book #1, The Night Watchman, we’re introduced to Ray Quinn a disabled, retired detective who is an alcoholic and seems to be waiting to die. But life and God have other plans and when he discovers 2 dead bodies in one of the condos where he works as a security guard he’s asked to look into the case. At first he has no desire to be back in detective work but ultimately he agrees and begins to find a bit of his former self. With help from his friends Crevis and Pam, Ray solves the case and clears a good name.

In The Corruptible, Ray has just opened his new private investigation service when he is called in by a very wealthy client to recover some stolen merchandise. But the case is more than it first appears and once again Ray is looking for a murderer and using his police contacts to solve a case.

Despite Ray’s disability caused by a gunshot and requiring the use of a cane Ray is a very strong character. As the book is written in first person Ray is the only point of view that we get. He’s not a Christian and he is an alcoholic so the perspective is often negative and very gritty. He has friends but I spent most of the book wondering why and waiting for him to screw up the relationships. Ray is humorous (I laughed in quite a few parts at Ray’s comments and thoughts) and real, yet not the most likeable of characters.

The plot was fast paced and engaging. I enjoyed both books a great deal though both endings were a tad odd. The first book seemed to come out of nowhere (not in a good way) and the second book seemed to throw a lot of red herrings in for the sake of making the book longer.

I recommend reading book #1 first if only to get a better sense of who Crevis is because he’s a great character and I liked him a lot.

I give the book 4 stars because the middle of the book lagged a little and went in directions it didn’t really need to go resulting in some plot confusion. I also think Ray is a very dark character and the book contained a LOT of alcohol references for a Christian novel. I know that it’s something Ray struggles with making the character real but I’m just giving fair warning for those who don’t wish to read extensively about alcohol.

I enjoyed both books and recommend both books (with a few reservations for some). Mark Mynheir is an excellent writer and he proves himself again in The Corruptible. I’ll be looking forward to the next one!

For more information check out the author's website: www.markmynheir.com or place your order at Amazon.

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group’s Blogging for Books program. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Menu Planning


Wow, it was a busy weekend. The MOPS sale went really well. I guess I should preface that with saying I'm not sure how much I sold but I certainly got a lot of great deals on the kids summer wardrobe! And with very minor exceptions (namely church dresses for the girls) their wardrobes are complete! Of course, they need to be since there won't be another consignment sale until July. Will I make it?...

Kidding, I'll be fine :)

Sunday: Angel Chicken

Monday: Savory Salisbury Steaks (this is a Pampered Chef recipe - something new I've never tried so we'll see how it goes!)

Tuesday: Beef and Bean Taco Casserole

Wednesday: Velveeta Baked Spaghetti Squares

Thursday: Ground Beef and Twice Baked Potato Pie

Friday: Easy Chicken Enchiladas

Saturday: Pizza Casserole (without the olives - sorry, just don't like them!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gymbucks Redemption Starts Tomorrow!


A very important and easy way for me to save money on kid's clothes besides consignment sales is Gymboree. I know it seems crazy but combining coupons with sales means a lot of great clothes on the cheap.

Add Gymbucks to the picture and you're saving even more!

If you aren't sure what a Gymbuck is it's a coupon you receive during earning months for $25 off a future purchase of $50. The coupon can only be used during a redemption period which is now (for those who are Gymboree Rewards members) or tomorrow (for those who aren't) through April 17th.

Gymbucks can be applied on any item in the store regardless of whether they are on sale or clearance.

And now is a great time to redeem since all their Easter items are on sale.

Head over to Gymboree and check out all the great stuff!

(photo from Gymboree's website)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Menu Planning Monday: A New Month


I'm trying hard to leave March way behind. We haven't had the fridge repair guy out yet so I don't yet know how much that will cost us but I'm praying that it won't be much.

This is certainly where a menu plan comes in handy. When something's not working on home or stress sets in my biggest temptation is to give up and just go spend money. After all it is a HUGE pain to transfer all our cold food to the garage fridge and to go out to the garage every single time we need something cold. And right now we have no ice because our freezer made ice for us (aren't we so spoiled?!) so drinks aren't as good. All this adds up to me throwing up my hands and calling for take-out or heading out the door to eat out.

If it weren't for the plan I've already put in place I would give in EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Seriously.

But the plan keeps me on track!

Here's my plan for this week:

Sunday: Simple Hamburger Hot Dish

Monday: Rush Hour Chicken Fajitas (a Pampered Chef Recipe)

Tuesday; Hamburger Stroganoff Casserole

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

Thursday: Moms of Multiples Meeting - dad covers dinner

Friday: MOPS Sale - I have to be there all evening so this is a fast food night for us - you have to have a few every now and then :)

Saturday: Layered Enchilada Bake - this one is a family favorite that we repeat often. I do have to say on a day that I know I'm going to be tired and not really want to cook (since I will be spending all day at the MOPS Sale as well) it's a good idea to have a familiar recipe to look forward to - I already know I like it and I already know how to make it so there's no stress of something new to keep me from cooking!