Monday, January 30, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 1/30/12

We had an awesome week of using what we already had, we going to do almost the same thing this week. I did have to purchase Ground Turkey for a couple of recipes and some basics, but not much shopping this week. I will go shopping on Saturday and I will need a good "stock up" then.

 I made a couple of recipes that I found on Pinterest yesterday and they were all a hit. Dinner yesterday was Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken with Fried Rice. I also made No Bake Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars. I am very pleased that the family said both recipes are "keepers"!

 Here is our menu plan for this week: Weekly Menu Plan 1/29/12-2/4/12

For more weekly Menu Plans and Recipes visit:

Organizing Junkie   Serve It Up Sunday Desiring Virtue

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent and Hair Detangler/Leave In Conditioner

I am on a mission this year to make as much as I can "Homemade". Prices are going up on so many products and the packaging is getting smaller at the same time. I am trying to be a "Good Steward" with our budget and I know making homemade will help the budget with many of the things I plan on doing homemade! I also like the fact that "homemade" for food also means less preservatives and "bad stuff". The list will include Convenience Foods, Health and Beauty Products, Household Products and much more. I have accomplished this task in 4 different products this month. I made Instant Oatmeal Packets last weekend and a couple weekends ago I made Homemade Laundry Detergent and Homemade Detangler/Leave In Conditioner. I also made Instant Hot Cocoa Mix. This post will be about the Homemade Laundry Detergent and the Homemade Detangler/Leave in Conditioner. The Hot Cocoa Post will come later.

Homemade Laundry Detergent:

I had made Homemade Laundry Detergent a couple years ago and it works really well. I just got "lazy" and hadn't made it again after 2 small batches. We were purchasing Laundry detergent from wherever it was on sale. Last April we purchased a 130 load box of Surf from Costco for $13.99. I was able to "stretch' the box to last 9 months because I only use 1/3 cup of detergent per load instead of the recommended 1 cup. Our Laundry got very clean, as clean as if I was using 1 cup. I decided that as soon as it was gone, I would go back to the Homemade Version. I purchased the supplies about a week before we ran out of Surf and made the detergent up. The internet is "loaded" with many blogs, websites and more with the instructions for making both Powdered Detergent and Liquid Laundry Detergent. I prefer powdered detergent, so I found the Powdered Detergent recipe (this link also includes 9 other laundry detergent reicpes) that I used before and got to work. My 7yr old, Danny, helped me "blend" the Zote Bar down to a powder(I actually used 3 Zote Bars) and my hubby helped me mix the 3 powders together as I don't have the strength to mix it.

The Simple Dollar Price Comparison and the Saved Quarter Price comparison of Tide vs. Homemade. I tripled the recipe and still have enough Washing Soda and Borax to do another triple batch. I already had 3 bars of Zote that I used for this batch, so I would just need to buy 3 more bars of Zote to make another triple batch. The total upfront costs for buying the products is $9. I only have to use 1 TBSP, yes that is 1 TABLESPOON, per washload! The batch that I currently have should last about 6 to 8 months. I will be saving money in the long run on the cost of laundry detergent and using products that whiten and brighten laundry all in one soap!

Homemade Detangler/Leave In-conditioner:

I have very long hair, it goes 1/2 down my back. My hair is constantly getting tangled and frizzy. I have been taking my comb into the shower and combing through my hair while the conditioner is "setting" in my hair. I comb through and then rinse the conditioner out and it helps get the tangles out, but it is also painful and tiring. I was viewing Pinterest one evening and ran across a "pin" for Homemade Hair Detangler. I remembered making something like this quite a few years ago. I also remember using VO5 Leave in Condtioner many years ago, though it is no longer made. Hair Detanglers at Beauty salons are very expensive and the ones in store are mostly for little girls. So when I saw this blog post I knew I had to try this. I already had the conditioner, hubby picked me up a bottle a Wal-Mart for .99¢ and water is the only other thing needed.

I am sooooo happy with this Homemade Detangler/Leave in Conditioner. I am absolutely amazed how much softer my hair is to comb and brush and it my hair is also not frizzy and out of control now! It costs just pennies to make is soo easy! I purchsed a bottle of conditioner just to be making this. I am sure the one bottle will last me about a year or more!

I am just beginning my "Homemade Mission" and so far I am very very satisfied with results! So excited to try more Homemade stuff in the future! I will be sharing everything here!

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

LitFuse Blog Tour: Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey

About the book: 

It is August 1944 and Paris is on the cusp of liberation. As the soldiers of the Third Reich flee the Allied advance, they ravage the country, stealing countless pieces of art. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable one of all, the Mona Lisa, as a post-war bargaining chip to get him to South America. Can Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler rescue DaVinci's masterpiece before it falls into German hands? With nonstop action, Chasing Mona Lisa is sure to get readers' adrenaline pumping as they join the chase to save the most famous painting in the world. From war-ravaged Paris to a posh country chateau, the race is on--and the runners are playing for keeps.

 Read an excerpt, watch a video and find out more here. Excerpt

 About the authors:

 Tricia Goyer is the coauthor of The Swiss Courier as well as the author of many other books, including Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights, both past winners of the ACFW's Book of the Year Award for Long Historical Romance. Goyer lives with her family in Arkansas. For more about Tricia and her other books visit

 Mike Yorkey is the author or coauthor of dozens of books, including The Swiss Courier and the bestselling Every Man's Battle series. Married to a Swiss native, Yorkey lived in Switzerland for 18 months. He and his family currently reside in California. For more about Mike and his other books visit

Buy The Book

My Thoughts and Review: 

I have to start off by admitting that I am not a "history" person, I actually "loathe" history. I have a hard time comprehending history facts, especially World Wars and "heavy" topics like that. I have been "expanding" my reading genres, so this book interested me because it was a topic that I would normally not read. I was also interested in reading and reviewing this book because I do enjoy Tricia Goyer books and Mike Yorkey is a "new to me" author.

I did have a hard time "getting into" this book, but by chapter 3 I was really enjoying the book. Chasing Mona Lisa really helped me understand the history of that time and it is a very well written book. I was able to grasp the story and really dive into the book. Chasing Mona Lisa is the 2nd book in a series, but I had not read the first book in this series and still was able to "follow along"! I have to give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it was able to drag me into a genre that I normally wouldn't read and book was written in a way that kept me interested in the book. Chasing Mona Lisa is a book that I think many will enjoy and I am very glad that I had the oppurtunity to read it. I am very interested in going back and reading the first book in this series now!

I LOVED this book and I believe it is a book that many will enjoy!

Find out more about the book and what others think from the Blog Tour.

 A GIVEAWAY and Facebook Party: 

Win an iTouch SPY Pack in the Chasing Mona Lisa Giveaway from @triciagoyer @mikeyorkey! Chasing Mona Lisa is the continuing tale of Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler (first introduced in The Swiss Courier). This time the due are on a relentless quest to save the most famous painting in the world  - the Mona Lisa. You can help Gabi and Eric with your very own spy pack when you enter The Chasing Mona Lisa Giveaway!

One passionate protector will receive:
  • iTouch (The must-have device for any spy. Camera, Maps & Music.)
  • Starbucks Gift Card (For all those late nights.)
  • Moleskin Notebook (For those important notes.)
  • Invisible Ink Pen (Don’t want anyone reading those important notes.)
  • Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey (Great handbook and intriguing tale for any spy-in-training!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on January 31st. The winner will be announced at the Chasing Mona Lisa Facebook Party on 1/31. Tricia and Mike will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from Tricia's website) and giving away their books and a Book Club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club AND a LIVE Author Chat for your group with Tricia and Mike.)

So grab your copy of Chasing Mona Lisa and join Tricia and Mike on the evening of the 31st for an author chat, spy training (do you know how to pick a lock?) and lots of giveaways. 

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 31st!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book as part of my participation in the LitFuse Blog Tour Program. I was only required to write an honest review. I received no other compensation for my participation!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 1/23

Wow! It has been a couple of weeks since I posted my weekly Menu Plan. We have been following a plan and staying on track, I just haven't been writing it down. I have been going through the "Winter blues" lately, but I 'charged up" yesterday and found some energy and got my menu plan down for the week. I planned this weeks menu with things we already have on hand. I only need to shop for the basics this week like Milk and Eggs. I LOVE weeks where I don't have to do much shopping!

Here is our menu plan for the week: Weekly Menu Plan 1/22/12-1/28/12

For more weekly Menu Plans and Recipes visit:

Organizing Junkie   Serve It Up Sunday Desiring Virtue

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets

The battle of the Grocery Budget continues in our household. Grocery Prices are going up but our grocery budget can't go up anymore then $450/month. I have been doing everything I can to keep my family fed on that budget. I had to recently "up" the budget because $350/month just wasn't working. I have been on a hunt to see what would be cheaper to make "homemade" rather then store bought "convinence" and I have found quite a few. Today was my first attempt at one of the "homemade" recipes. 

My husband had been eating lots of Oatmeal lately and he would prefer the instant, but the instant is so expensive. A box of Instant Oatmeal ranges from $1.99/10 pk box at Aldi to $4.29 a box for Quaker at the big chain stores here. My boys will only eat Oatmeal if it is in Instant Form. I had read about "Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets" about a year ago on Money Saving Mom blog. I found the blog post and then found many, many more online also. I decided to print out and use this recipe that was posted at Vegan Lunch Box. (I am not Vegan, but I liked her blog post alot)

All the recipes I found said to use Quick Oats, but I didn't have Quick Oats. We had just purchased a BIG box of Old Fashioned Oats from Costco a couple weeks ago and didn't want to spend more money on Quick Oats. I did some research and found out that you can make Quick Oats by chopping up the Old Fashioned Oats into smaller pieces. 

What is the difference between Quaker® Old Fashioned Oatmeal and Quick Quaker® Oats?
Quaker® Old Fashioned Oats are whole oats that are rolled to flatten them. They contain all parts of the oat grain including the bran, endosperm and germ portion. Quick Quaker® Oats are made the same way but are simply cut into slightly smaller pieces so they cook faster.

So I decided to try just one portion first. I chopped up some Regular Oats, added some Hot Water from Hot Water dispener on our Coffee Maker and stirred. My husband and 9yr old son were my taste tasters and gave their "thumbs up" so I decided to forge ahead and use the Old Fashioned Oats and just chop them into smaller pieces. I had to ask my hubby to do the chopping after I did the first 2/3 cups as my right wrist started hurting something terriable. I was so grateful he helped because he was able to do it faster and better then I could. I was able to get the "flavors" ready while he was chopping and set up the "assembly line" so that the process could go fast and easy. I also grinded up some Old Fashioned Oats into a powder, just as the boxed Instant has the powder and as suggested in some of the recipes I found online. I grinded up some banana chips for flavoring also. I was able to make 19 Individual packets today. 

I made: 
4 Brown Sugar, Banana, and Cinnamon
5 Brown Sugar and Cinnamon
3 Brown Sugar
2 Plain
2 Banana
2 Cinnamon Raisin
1 Brown Sugar and Banana

We are all looking forward to having Oatmeal fast and easy in the morning and at a large savings! 

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Friday, January 20, 2012

LitFuse Blog Tour: The Shadow of Your Smile by Susan May Warren

About the book: 

The Shadow of Your Smile A beautiful blanket of snow may cover the quaint town of Deep Haven each winter, but it can’t quite hide the wreckage of Noelle and Eli Hueston’s marriage. After twenty-five years, they’re contemplating divorce . . . just as soon as their youngest son graduates from high school. But then an accident erases part of Noelle's memory. Though her other injuries are minor, she doesn’t remember Eli, their children, or the tragedy that has ripped their family apart. What’s more, Noelle is shocked that her life has turned out nothing like she dreamed it would. As she tries to regain her memory and slowly steps into her role as a wife and mother, Eli helps her readjust to daily life with sometimes-hilarious, sometimes-heartwarming results. But can she fall in love again with a man she can’t remember? Will their secrets destroy them . . . or has erasing the past given them a chance for a future? Read the story behind the story here:

About Susan: 

Susan May Warren is an award-winning, best-selling author of over twenty-five novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, the Rita Award, and have been Christy finalists. After serving as a missionary for eight years in Russia, Susan returned home to a small town on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where she, her four children, and her husband are active in their local church. Susan's larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice. Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota, where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!) A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found

Buy The Book 

My Thoughts and Review:

I have enjoyed Susan May Warren books for a few years now, so I was excited when I was selected to read and review the 6th book in the Deep Haven series, The Shadow of Your Smile. The Shadow of Your Smile is another "Winner" for me! Susan draws the reader in with the tragedies and emotions of the book. I started reading this book and just couldn't put it down, I felt like my heart and mind had jumped right into the book and the events were almost real life happenings! I was riding high in emotions for Noelle and Eli over the loss of the daughter, their thoughts of divorce after 25yrs of marriage and then Noelle's memory loss. I have never experienced such tragedy personally, but I can see how and why tragedy can cause such drama and trama in a family. I really appreciate that The Shadow of Your Smile really shows the reader that we need to trust in God and not rely on our own plans. "Our plans are not always God plans".

I highly recommend The Shadow of Your Smile, you will not be disappointed! Though this is the 6th book in the series, it is also a "stand alone novel". Susan May Warren is a great writer and this book is no exception!

GIVEAWAY hosted by Susan May Warren:

Come Back to Deep Haven and Win a $200 Visa Card from @SusanMayWarren! Sometimes love requires a little forgetting ... Come back to Deep Haven and find out what's been happening in your favorite quaint hamlet. If you're new to the Deep Haven series - this is the perfect book to start with - each book in the series is a stand alone story.

Susan is celebrating the release of The Shadow of Your Smile by giving away a prize pack worth over $200 from 1/9-1/28.

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Gift Card (Use that to rekindle a little romance, treat yourself to a spa day, snap up those shoes you’ve been eyeing, or purchase a few great books!)
  • The entire set of Deep Haven Books 
The winner will be announced on 1/30/12 on Susan’s blog, Scribbles! Just click one of the icons below to enter and tell your friends about Susan's giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book as part of my participation in the LitFuse Blogger Program. I was only required to give an honest review, no other compensation was given.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 1/2/12

WOW! I can't believe it is already 2012! It seems like 2011 went by fast! I am so looking forward to making changes in our menu and grocery budget this year. I received a Food Saver from my parents for Christmas and I can't wait to use it and save a ton of money!

 Here is our menu plan for this week: Weekly Menu Plan 1/1/12-1/7/12

For more Weekly Menu Plans and Recipes visit:

  Organizing Junkie   Serve It Up Sunday Desiring Virtue

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2012!!

Happy New Year to everyone!! I pray that 2012 is a very blessed year and that everyone stays healthy!!

I am not making "resolutions or commitments" this year, instead I am setting goals! I feel that goals are something that help you attain things one step at a time and aren't as "saying a promise I have to keep" type of thing. I think goal setting gives me a bit more leeway to take me time to attain the goals! I do know that the goals I have set for myself have to include God as I move along. I can make all the grandest plans and goals, but without God along side me, I will probably falter and fail. A online friend shared a wonderful blog post about New Years Resolutions. Truly beautiful article and post!

I very much "failed" at accomplishing the goals that I had set for 2011 because I allowed "Life" and "stubbornness" to get in the way, rathering then allowing God to be in control and allow him to guide and direct me. I am choosing not to do that this year. I have lots to accomplish this year and want and need God to be there as my guide through all my goals!

I pray that everyone has a wonderful year in 2012! We can't do anything about the past, we can only move forward and accomplish new goals!

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