My Goals for the Week {9/15/2014}


We’ve had another few crazy weeks and I didn’t post goals last week!  {Sorry}  I was able to make it through quite a few of my goals from 2 weeks ago though! :)

Here are my goals from 2 weeks ago:

Family & Homemaking Goals

1. Create menu plan for September.

2. Make bed and do 1 full load of laundry every day.

3. Take 5 walks with my husband. {Our new neighborhood has 15 miles of walking trails.}

4. Complete at least 5 more lessons of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

Personal Goals

5. Exercise 5 times.

6. Drink 3 liters of water per day.

7.  Get together with 1 friend.

8. Finish reading The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success.  This is a great book that talks about the power of discipline…a much needed read for me.  Continue reading Detoxify or Die.  This book is written by the author who wrote Pain Free in 6 Weeks which has been extremely helpful in treating my lupus.

Blog/Business Goals

9. Write 2 posts for blog.

10. Talk to 10 people about Nerium!  {Check out my results after just 5 days!}

And here are my goals for this week!

Family & Homemaking Goals

1. Stick to my menu plan for the entire week!

2. Make bed and do 1 full load of laundry every day.

3. Take 3 walks with my husband.

Personal Goals

4.  No processed food, grains, nightshades, sugar or sugar substitutes.

5. Exercise 5 times.

6 Drink 3 liters of water per day.

7.  Get together with 1 friend.

8. Finish reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.  This book has been soooo good for me in this season of my life!

Blog/Business Goals

9. Put together verse of the day post for every day this week.

10. Get LisaJoyThompson.com up and running!

What are your goals for this week? Any suggestions to help me with my goals?

 

John 14:27 {Verse of the Day}

Today’s Verse of the Day is John 14:27.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Isaiah 41:10 {Verse of the Day}

Today’s Verse of the Day is Isaiah 41:10.

So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you by my righteous right hand.

Restaurant Coupon Roundup {9/12/2014}

Eating out sure can get expensive, so I’m always on the lookout for deals to make it more affordable.  Below I’ve included the top printable restaurant coupons for this week!

Arbys – Free Cinnamon Apple Crisp When You Buy Meal (exp: 9/16/2014)
Buca Di Beppo – $10 Off 2 Pastas, Baked Pastas, or Entrees** (exp: 12/31/2014)
Carrabbas – $10 Off 2 Dinner Entrees (exp: 9/30/2014)
Friendlys - Buy 1 Get 1 Free 3-Scoop Sundae (exp: 9/16/2014)
Huddle House – Free Waffle with $5 Meal Purchase (exp: 9/15/2014)
Jacks – Free Regular Drink When You Buy a Big Jack (exp: 10/12/2014)
Mimis Cafe - Buy 1 Get 1 Free Entree When You Buy 2 Drinks (exp: 9/28/2014)
Olive Garden - Buy 1 Entree Take 1 Home Free + Free Redbox Movie Rental (exp: 12/31/2014)
Quiznos – $5 Ciabatta Toastie and Drink (exp: 9/15/2014)
Smokey Bones - $10 Off $25 Purchase (exp: 9/14/2014)
White Castle - Buy 1 Get 1 Free Castle Combo Meal (exp: 9/20/2014)

Thanks Surviving the Stores!

Retail Coupon Roundup {9/12/2014}

If you’re planning on doing a little shopping this weekend, make sure to print off these great retail coupons before you go!

Aeropostale – $10 Off $50, $15 Off $75, or $25 Off $100 Purchase (exp: 9/14/2014)
Ann Taylor Factory Store - 15% Off Entire Purchase (exp: 9/14/2014)
Bath and Body Works – Free Signature Collection Item with $10 Purchase (exp: 9/28/2014)
Carters - 20% Off $40 Purchase (exp: 9/17/2014)
Goodyear – $5 Off Regular or $10 Off Synthetic Oil Change (exp: 9/14/2014)
JCPenney - $10 Off $25 Apparel, Shoes, Accessories, Fine Jewelry & Home Item Purchase + More (exp: 9/13/2014)
Kohls – 15% Off Entire Purchase (exp: 9/17/2014)
Lord and Taylor - 20% Off Regular, Sale or Clearance Purchase (exp: 9/14/2014)
Mr. Tire – $19.99 Oil Change & Tire Rotation (exp: 9/30/2014)
Osh Kosh BGosh – 20% Off $40 Purchase (exp: 9/17/2014)
Pet Supermarket – $2 Off $10 Purchase (exp: 9/30/2014)
Redbox – Movie Coupon Codes When You Text DAYS to 727272 (exp: 9/14/2014)
Rue 21 - 30% Off $50 Purchase (exp: 9/14/2014)
Ulta - $3.50 Off $10 Purchase (exp: 9/27/2014)

Thanks Surviving the Stores!

Proverbs 18:10 {Verse of the Day}

Proverbs 18:10  Simplified Saving Verse of the Day

Today’s verse of the day is Proverbs 18:10.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

Finding Calm in the Chaos

The past 6 weeks have been completely chaotic.  We enrolled our kids in 3 different schools, decided to move, put an offer on a house, moved into new house, put our house on the market, received an offer on our house that required us to do some repairs (our house is over 100 years old), and started our kids in 3 different schools.  I also was out of town for a week during that time. On top of that, I fell in love with an anti-aging product and decided to start selling it. And the list goes on and on. Just writing about it makes me feel tired! :)

As a busy mom, I know that there are times when life feels completely overwhelming…and sometimes it’s so chaotic that you feel stress paralyzed. {I watched Mom’s Night Out again last night (I saw it twice in the theater and if you’re a mom, you need to watch it!) so I know that stress paralyzed is a thing.  If you didn’t watch Mom’s Night Out, you need to watch it.  It’s totally worth buying and watching again and again.  Or consider inviting your mom friends over for a mom’s night out! }

I digress…

I know that you can’t always control the circumstances you find yourself in, but I have some suggestions for finding calm in the chaos.

1.  Create a plan or a schedule.

Everyone functions better with a routine.  I created morning and evening routines for the twins and a daily docket for myself.  I laminated all of these so we can use them day after day.  Everyone has their own clipboard and laminated list on it.  Even the twins know exactly what is expected of them and that leads to smoother mornings and evenings!  Make sure you include chores on these lists so that you’re not trying to handle everything on your own.

2.  Create a meal plan.

When our life gets chaotic, I tend to grab fast food or go for something in a box or a can.  None of these things are good for myself or my family.  This week, I took 2 hours and made 20 freezable crockpot meals.  It makes life easy when you can pull a bag out of the freezer at night and pop it in the fridge.  In the morning, I just dump the ingredients into my crockpot, set it, and I’m good to go.  If you want to make crockpot clean up a breeze, these Slow Cooker Liners are AWESOME!  Also, if you’re looking for a great crockpot, this is the one that I have and I love it.  Although I’m thinking about asking for this Smart Crockpot  for Christmas.

If you need help with menu plans, here are a few that I can vouch for.

20 Slow Cooker Freezer Packs from Costco for $150

Aldi $150 Crockpot Meal Plan

Aldi $150 Meal Plan

Aldi Gluten Free Meal Plan

3. Get moving!

When things are chaotic, the last thing you may feel like doing is carving out extra time in your day to exercise, but you need to do this.  Take 15 minutes to go for a walk outside.  Better yet, get a friend to join you.

Looking for something you can do in the privacy of your own home? Here are a few videos that are under 30 minutes that will still give you a good workout.

T-Tapp Basic Workout Plus (18 minutes)

Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred (20 minutes)

P90X3 (30 minutes)

If you don’t have 15-30 consecutive minutes that’s ok.  Take 2-3 minutes every hour to do jumping jacks, pushups, knee lifts, squats, and lunges.

4.  Take time to recharge and refresh.

Spend time recharging your batteries.  Take time to read  the Bible, pray, read an encouraging book and/or journal. You may need to get up 15 minutes before the kids get up or stay up 15 minutes after they go to bed.  If you need a few books to add to your list, here are a few to check out.

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

Restless: Because You Were Made for More

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence

One Thousand Gifts

5. Get Some Sleep!

The difference between hope and despair is often a good night’s sleep.  When life is crazy and busy, your body needs more sleep than it usually does.  Make it a priority to get sleep!

While these tips aren’t going to make your life peaceful overnight, they will certainly help!  If you find yourself in a chaotic season of life, please comment or send me an email.  I’d be honored to pray for you!

What are your tips for finding calm in the chaos?

 

 

 

 

Restaurant Coupon Roundup {9/5/2014}

Eating out sure can get expensive, so I’m always on the lookout for deals to make it more affordable.  Below I’ve included the top printable restaurant coupons for this week!

Au Bon Pain Coupons $2 Off $7 Purchase (exp: 9/9/2014)
Bob Evans Coupons Buy 1 Breakfast Entree Get 1 Free When You Buy 2 Drinks (exp: 9/13/2014)
Buca Di Beppo Coupons $10 Off 2 Pastas, Baked Pastas, or Entrees**
Carrabbas Coupons $10 Off 2 Dinner Entrees (exp: 9/30/2014)
Corner Bakery Coupons Free Bakery Fresh Sweet with Lunch or Dinner Entree (exp: 9/9/2014)
Huddle House Coupons Free Waffle with $5 Meal Purchase (exp: 9/15/2014)
Joes Crab Shack Coupons $20 Off $40 Purchase Coupon with $10 Donation or $10 Off $20 Coupon with $5 Donation (exp: 9/30/2014)
Logans Roadhouse Coupons Free Dessert with Adult Entree Purchase (exp: 9/10/2014)
Olive Garden Coupons Buy 1 Entree Take 1 Home Free + Free Redbox Movie Rental (exp: 12/31/2014)
Sbarro Coupons Buy 1 Get 1 Free Combo Meal (exp: 9/8/2014)
Souplantation Coupons 20% Off Adult Dinner When You Buy Drink (exp: 9/10/2014)
White Castle Coupons Buy 1 Get 1 Free Castle Combo Meal (exp: 9/20/2014)

Thanks Surviving the Stores!

Retail Coupon Roundup {9/5/2014}

If you’re planning on doing a little shopping this weekend, make sure to print off these great retail coupons before you go!

Aeropostale – $10 Off $50, $15 Off $75, or $25 Off $100 Purchase (exp: 9/14/2014)
Bath & Body Works – Free Signature Collection Item with $10 Purchase (exp: 9/28/2014)
Bealls – 25% Off Entire Purchase (exp: 9/11/2014)
Carter’s - 20% Off $40 Purchase (exp: 9/10/2014)
Hibbett Sports – $10 Off $50 Purchase (exp: 9/29/2014)
Kohls – 20% Off Entire Purchase (exp: 9/7/2014)
Lord and Taylor – 20% Off Regular, Sale or Clearance Purchase (exp: 9/14/2014)
OshKosh B’Gosh – 15% Off Entire Purchase (exp: 9/10/2014)
Sherwin Williams- $10 Off $50 Purchase (exp: 10/31/2014)
Yankee Candle - Buy 1 Get 1 Free Large Jar Candle (exp: 9/7/2014)

Thanks Surviving the Stores!

Art Set {151 Pieces} for $10.15 Shipped

If you’re looking for a great Christmas gift for someone who loves to create, look no further.  Right now Amazon has this 151 piece art set for only $10.15 and it ships free with Amazon Prime!  This is regularly $79.99, so this is quite a smokin’ deal!  They also have a 120 piece set for $8.25.

Click here to learn more!

My Goals for the Week {9/2/2014}


The past few weeks have been a little on the crazy side.  We moved into a new house, put our old house on the market, and got all 3 of our kiddos that are still in school back to school at 3 different schools.  I am desperately craving the consistency of a routine.  I know that we’ll eventually get there.  I have morning and evening routines for the twins that are printed and laminated.  The days that we utilize them seem to go much more smoothly.  I also laminated a routine/daily to do list for myself that is helping to keep me on track.

Here are my goals for this week!

Family & Homemaking Goals

1. Create menu plan for September.

2. Make bed and do 1 full load of laundry every day.

3. Take 5 walks with my husband. {Our new neighborhood has 15 miles of walking trails.}

4. Complete at least 5 more lessons of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

Personal Goals

5. Exercise 5 times.

6. Drink 3 liters of water per day.

7.  Get together with 1 friend.

8. Finish reading The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success.  This is a great book that talks about the power of discipline…a much needed read for me.  Continue reading Detoxify or Die.  This book is written by the author who wrote Pain Free in 6 Weeks which has been extremely helpful in treating my lupus.

Blog/Business Goals

9. Write 2 posts for blog.

10. Talk to 10 people about Nerium!  {Check out my results after just 5 days!}

What are your goals for this week? Any suggestions to help me with my goals?

30 Day Budget Bootcamp Challenge

Mommysavers 30 Day Budget Bootcamp Challenge

30-Day Budget Bootcamp Challenge

Do you ever feel like your finances are out of control?  Are you struggling making ends meet? Do you know that a budget would be helpful, but feel like you don’t know where to start?  Maybe you need to get your spending in line with your priorities.  If any of these resonate with you, you need to join our 30 Day Budget Bootcamp Challenge! We’ll help you get a grip on your finances in this easy-to-follow 30-day series.

Every day during the month of September, the savvy bunch of frugal bloggers listed below will provide tips and an actionable daily assignment to all challengers. Plus, they will be in the Mommysavers Forums to offer personal 1:1 advice on that day’s topic. At the end of the 30 days, you’ll be on the right track money-wise and have the know-how to continue on that path.

30-Day Budget Challenge Hosts:

Kim Danger mommysavers.com
Lauren Greutman iamthatlady.com
Rebecca Shirk lettersfromsunnybrook.com
Kristi Sawicki SavingDollarsandSense.com
Mark and Lauren Greutman MarkandLaurenG.com
Lori Felix morewithlesstoday.com
Denise Iannarelli couponsforyourfamily.com
Laura Oliver afrugalchick.com
Amanda Brackney simplesavingsavvy.net
Maura White happydealhappyday.com
Phoebe Hendricks gettingfreedom.net
Lisa Thompson simplifiedsaving.com
Jen Dotson/Sia Hills thriftynorthwestmom.com
Sarah Weeda givemeneither.com
Stephanie Brandt debtfreespending.com
Maria Tiongco Ramos ASavingsWOW.com
Melissa Buckles everydaysavvy.com
Kim Danger beachreadynow.com
Mary Hoover missiontosave.com
Kaley Hill Ehret chachingonashoestring.com
Jen Schreiner inspiringsavings.com

JOIN US: Simply create a free Mommysavers Forum account and log in daily starting September 1st to receive your assignment. (The private Budget Bootcamp Challenge forum is located here: http://www.mommysavers.com/c/f/15393/30-day-budget-challenge. It will only be viewable by registered/logged in members).

 

Let’s Talk Money and Marriage

Did you know that one of the biggest tensions in marriage can be money?  It’s true!  Today I’m talking about marriages and money over on Mint.com!

Come join the conversation!

 

 

7 Ways to Save Money By Finding New Uses for Old Items

 

When most of us make the decision to start saving money, we typically focus on the actual dollar amount being spent every month.  We use coupons, shop resale stores and hit the bargain bins at retail stores.  While those are all good ways to save, you can also save money by reusing old items that you would normally throw away.  For many of us, our parents and grandparents knew how to get the most use out of everything they owned.  While some of their methods were over the top and quite frankly, sometimes gross, there are great ways to save money by finding new uses for old items.

1) Leftover cookies make excellent pie crusts.

When you have a few cookies leftover, put them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Put them in the freezer for future use. Get really creative and mix different types of cookies together for an interesting piecrust. Replace the graham crackers with cookies in this S’mores Pie for a decadent dessert that doesn’t break the bank!

2) Save Your Soap

Soap chips were never thrown away back in the day, they were used in many different ways. {That sounds like the start of a frugal rap song!} One way to reuse these small chips is to take a large washcloth, sew the edges all the way around leaving just enough room to insert the soap chips. Sew up the small opening and you have and instant loofah.

3) Keep Your Feet Warmer This Winter

Use old carpet or rug remnants inside your shoes for extra warmth and padding. Trace your feet, not the shoe, onto the remnant and cut out. Place inside your boots to keep your feet toasty warm. While this may seem odd, this is a great money saver if your boots are great on the outside, but torn or worn on the inside.

4) Make Your Shades Last Longer

If you have a wooden roller shade that is ripped, remove the shade (measure length and width before tossing) and save the roller and slat. Purchase an inexpensive shower curtain or table cloth or fabulous piece of fabric, measure and cut to the size of the original shade. Staple to the roller and you now have a cute replacement shade for a fraction of the cost of a new one.

5) Reuse pickle juice.

I personally think pickles are disgusting, but my family LOVES them.  Add slices of cucumbers, cauliflower, peppers and onions to the juice and let it sit for a few days in the fridge before eating. You can even use the same jar the pickles came in.  It’s a great way to get your kids to eat veggies they wouldn’t normally try!

6) Stop wasting bread!

Bread crumbs, bagels, and leftover bread pieces of all types should be cubed or ground in the food processor as soon as possible before the expiration date. Store them in plastic bags and freeze. Use the cubes for homemade stuffing or croutons and the ground pieces for meatloaf and meatballs.

7. Freeze Your Fruits and Veggies

Veggies, fruits and other side dishes often get tossed when there isn’t enough left over for a full serving.  These items can be frozen and used later.  Keep a freezer bag just for veggies and add leftovers as you get them.  Throw these in the crock pot with some meat and broth and cook for a flavorful soup.  You can also save little bits of fruit in freezer bags to be used  in smoothies or on top of ice cream.  You can even save leftover rice to add to stews and soup!

Finding new uses for old items can save you money over time. A penny saved is a penny earned when it comes to budgeting your money every month. What are your favorite new uses for old items?

Restaurant Coupon Roundup {8/23/2014}

Eating out sure can get expensive, so I’m always on the lookout for deals to make it more affordable.  Below I’ve included the top printable restaurant coupons for this week!

Bakers Square – $5 Off 2 Entrees & 2 Drinks (exp: 8/29/2014)
Biggby Coffee – $1.99 Any Size Iced Coffee (exp: 8/31/2014)
Boston Market – Free Kids Meal with Individual Meal Purchase (exp: 8/31/2014)
Carrabba’s – $10 Off 2 Dinner Entrees (exp: 9/30/2014)
Corner Bakery – Free Bakery Fresh Sweet with Lunch or Dinner Entree (exp: 9/9/2014)
Juice It Up – Buy 1 Get 1 Free 24 oz. Just Peachy Smoothie (exp: 8/31/2014)
Logan’s – $5 Off $20 Food Purchase (exp: 9/1/2014)
Quiznos – Free Chips & Drink with Regular or Large Sub or Large Salad Purchase (exp: 8/26/2014)
Red Lobster – Free Appetizer or Dessert When You Buy 2 Adult Dinners (exp: 8/31/2014)
Smokey Bones – $5 Off $15 Purchase (exp: 8/24/2014)
Uno Chicago Grill – $15 Off $30 Food Purchase (exp: 8/24/2014)

Thanks Surviving the Stores!

Retail Coupon Roundup {8/23/14}

If you’re planning on doing a little shopping this weekend, make sure to print off these great retail coupons before you go!

Aeropostal - $10 Off $50, $15 Off $75, or $25 Off $100 Purchase (exp: 9/14/2014)
Ann Taylor Factory - 15% Off Full Price Purchase Starting 8/22 (exp: 8/24/2014)
Bath & Body Works - Free Signature Collection Item with $10 Purchase (exp: 9/2/2014)
Bealls – $10 Off $25 Purchase (exp: 9/1/2014)
Bonton/Carson’s – 25% Off Sale Price Womens, Mens & Kids Apparel + More (exp: 8/26/2014)
Kohl’s – 20% Off $100 Purchase or 15% Off Under $100 Purchase* (exp: 8/27/2014)
Lifeway - 20% Off Entire Purchase (exp: 8/23/2014)
Loft Outlet – 10% Off Entire Purchase (exp: 8/24/2014)
Lord & Taylor – 25% Off Clearance Items (exp: 8/27/2014)
Macy’s - 20% Off Select Regular, Sale & Clearance Apparel + More (exp: 8/26/2014)
Maurices - 20% Off Entire Regularly Priced Purchase (exp: 8/30/2014)
Rue 21 - 50% Off $50 Purchase or More (exp: 8/24/2014)

Thanks Surviving the Stores!

100 Cooking Hacks You Need to Know

Have you ever started to cook and realized you don’t have buttermilk?  Have you tried to bake chocolate chip cookies and realized that your brown sugar has turned into a large rock?  Thought you had baking powder and realized you only had baking soda?  Here are some hacks that will make your life less stressful in the kitchen!!!  Make sure to pin this so you can find these helpful tips when you need them! :)

  1. Don’t have any buttermilk? Add 1 tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk.
  2. Ready to peel the shells off eggs? Wet your fingers first—the peels won’t stick.
  3. Guesstimating baking powder amounts is easy when you remember this formula: 1 tsp. baking powder per each cup of flour.
  4. No baking powder? Substitute ½ cup yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk for the liquids in the recipe. Then add ½ tsp. baking soda.
  5. Don’t add too much baking powder: Your cake or quickbread will actually rise less; not more. And taste bitter.
  6. For gluten-free gravy, throw away the flour. Try cornstarch, arrowroot powder or tapioca starch instead.
  7. For low fat baking, use applesauce instead of butter, oil or margarine. Your baking will be a little heavier, but tasty.
  8. When trying to remember which to use, keep this in mind: Baking powder adds acidity; baking soda is alkaline.
  9. Save time by pre-prepping ingredients for recipes you often make, and storing them , sealed, in your refrigerator or freezer.
  10. Before putting your cake in the oven, let your filled baking tin gently drop straight down on the counter. It knocks out air bubbles.
  11. To keep brown sugar soft, stick a piece of apple or a slice of bread in the bag. You’ll never have to find rock-hard sugar again.
  12. If you want to prevent cookies from hardening, store them in a sealed cookie jar with a slice of apple.
  13. Buy frozen Yorkshire Puddings to go with your roast. They heat easily in one pan for only 3 minutes—and there is no messy clean-up.
  14. Never make fudge on humid days. The sugar will go “grainy”. Make fudge on cool, clear days – and use a marble board or countertop.
  15. “Room temperature” ingredients or liquids should feel neither cold nor hot when you test them on the back of your wrist.
  16. Put a few grains of rice in your salt shaker, if you live in a humid climate. This will stop your salt from clumping.
  17. Flour your surfaces or flour your dough before rolling—and to make extra-sure it doesn’t stick, place between floured parchment paper.
  18. Follow recipes exactly, the first time you make them. After that, you’ll have a much better idea on how to successfully adjust ingredients.
  19. Don’t store meats in your refrigerator without first putting them on a dish, to catch blood that might escape and contaminate your fridge.
  20. Remember that the outside of frozen turkeys will thaw much faster than the inside, so thaw yours in the fridge for safety.
  21. If thawing a turkey in cold water, it is vital for food safety that you change the water every half hour.
  22. Make sure you put all leftovers back in the fridge within two hours of serving. After that, food can begin to spoil.
  23. When making holiday meals, first clear your counters. Remove unnecessary items to give yourself maximum work space.
  24. When buying your holiday squash, save time by choosing pre-cut, pre-peeled, packaged fresh squash.
  25. Beef keeps longer in the freezer than fish or chicken. You can store beef for up to six months; fish and chicken, no more than three.
  26. Buying fresh, local fruit and freezing it in a chest freezer ensures that you and your family can enjoy it all year round.
  27. If you plan to freeze a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, invest in a vacuum sealer.
  28. Don’t try to freeze vegetables that are normally eaten raw (lettuce, celery, etc.) They will not freeze successfully.
  29. Blanch vegetables before freezing to stop sugars turning to starch—which does happen quickly after picking.
  30. To blanch vegetables, drop them into boiling water for a minute or two: Then drain and plunge them into ice water.
  31. You can store asparagus for up to two weeks in your refrigerator, if you stand it in a jar of cold water with tips up.
  32. Make 3-4 days’ worth of carrot sticks in advance and store in your refrigerator in a glass container of cold water, for maximum freshness.
  33. Make up salads in a jar for lunch: Heavy items like carrot slices at the bottom; grains, fruit and nuts in the middle, greens at the top.
  34. Assemble all your blanching and freezing equipment ahead of time. Speed is everything, when it comes to successful blanching.
  35. Blanch peppers only if you plan to serve them cooked at a future date. For crisper peppers, freeze raw.
  36. Fruit does not need to be blanched before freezing—but you can freeze it in a light syrup, if desired.
  37. Did you know that frozen bananas make wonderful, creamy “ice cream”, when puréed in a food processor?
  38. If you’re going to freeze bananas, always choose ones that are fully ripe. Even at the edge of over-ripe is preferable to under-ripe.
  39. You can freeze bananas in or out of the peel—but they will last longer out of the peel and look nicer when served “as is”.
  40. Be aware that if you freeze bananas in the peel, the peel will turn black. This is normal, and the bananas inside are perfectly good.
  41. For under-ripe bananas, bake them on a cookie tray for 40 minutes at 300ºF. The skins will turn black, but when cool, they’ll be ripe.
  42. To freeze bananas for banana bread, purée first, and add 1 tsp. lemon juice per cup of purée. Mix well. Store in plastic tubs.
  43. If you want frozen banana pieces or slices, remove the peel and cut into chunks or slices first. They are impossible to cut when frozen.
  44. If you want to stop clumping from occurring, first freeze fruit or vegetables pieces on a tray. Then quickly bag the frozen pieces.
  45. Be sure to pat your fruit or veggie pieces thoroughly dry with paper towel, before freezing.
  46. For optimal freezing of fruits, meat and vegetables, freeze in a deep freezer at zero degrees. Buy a freezer thermometer.
  47. When freezing anything, be sure to mark the date frozen on the bag or label and mark the expiry date too, if you wish.
  48. All baking ingredients—including eggs—should be at room temperature for at least an hour before baking.
  49. If a recipe calls for separating your eggs, do so while they are still refrigerator-cold. It will be much easier.
  50. Whipping up a meringue? Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature
  51. Worried that your eggs have been in the fridge too long? Put one in a bowl of water. If it sinks, it’s still fresh.
  52. When trying to soften butter more quickly, don’t cut in a chunk…use a cheese grater to make fine pieces.
  53. If a recipe tells you to alternate dry and wet ingredients, start and end with dry ingredients.
  54. Keep all your cake decorating utensils and ingredients in one small plastic tub with a lid. You’ll never lose a cake icing tip, that way.
  55. Are you someone who always uses a cookbook? Buy a cookbook holder from a kitchen store or online—it will make your life easier.
  56. Running your mixers at half-speed or lower will greatly extend their lifespans.
  57. Try turning a metal magazine holder on its side and sliding into your kitchen drawer to stop items from jamming up your drawer.
  58. De-clutter your kitchen at least once every six months. Donate pots and pans you don’t use. Throw out ingredients you’ve never touched.
  59. Invest in a jar-opener. It is an inexpensive utensil—and you’ll be surprised at how often you find yourself using it.
  60. If you can’t open a jar and have no jar opener, try slipping on a rubber kitchen glove first.
  61. Use plain dental floss to cut cheeses and other soft foods. Use a sawing motion; or circle the item with the floss—and pull.
  62. Use pots with two handles if you have health issues like arthritis. This will make your grip more stable—and help you avoid accidents.
  63. Can’t reach items on your top kitchen shelves? If stepping stools feel unstable, buy a long-arm grabber from a Home Health store.
  64. To avoid nasty accidents, never store heavy items, glass or other breakables on your top kitchen shelves.
  65. Place items or utensils you use all the time at waist height or in your first row of overhead shelves.
  66. Do a “safety check” on your kitchen periodically. And look for ways to improve functionality as you improve safety.
  67. Have a “kitchen maintenance” day, once in a while. Deep-scrub stains from cutlery and pots and pans. Throw out worn items. De-clutter.
  68. Clean your kitchen thoroughly before you cook, and clean as you go during cooking. You’ll have minimal clean up after.
  69. Be sure to have fine steel-wool on hand. You can use it to clean deep stains or burns from stainless steel pots in an instant.
  70. Never, ever soak silver-plated cutlery or dishes in water with bleach. Your silver-wear will blacken instantly—and permanently.
  71. An envelope cut diagonally, with the remaining point also cut off, makes a handy impromptu funnel for dry ingredients.
  72. Use a griddle iron or heavy fry pan for pancakes. If you use cast iron, never wash it—wipe and season it with oil after every use.
  73. Make French Toast in your crockpot. Lace layers with non-acidic fruit like currants, apple slices or raisins.
  74. Place cookie cutters on your griddle. Pour in pancake batter or eggs to jazz up those brunches.
  75. Mix spices for recipes ahead of time in a small shot glass. Add after you’ve added sauce ingredients for best flavor.
  76. Mix up your own pumpkin pie spice: Two parts cinnamon to one part ground nutmeg, one part ground allspice, one part ground ginger.
  77. Add a pinch of freshly minced ginger to your pumpkin pie mix for a zestier taste.
  78. Making salad ahead of time in a jar allows you to refrigerator-store it for up to seven days.
  79. Print cooking infographics or charts from Pinterest or cooking sites. Tape up inside your cupboard doors, for easy reference.
  80. To make perfect white or green tea, let your kettle rest for a few moments after reaching a boil. Never use boiling water on these teas.
  81. Stock your kitchen with staples so you can quickly whip up anything: Flour, bouillon cubes, spices, sugar, salt and olive oil to start with.
  82. After making a recipe with bouillon or broth in a carton, pour the remaining broth into ice cube trays and freeze for later.
  83. Gravy turning gray? Check out your pan—it’s probably aluminum. Use stainless steel or copper instead.
  84. Replace half of the oil in your marinade with wine for a more acidic effect.
  85. If you plan to go vegetarian, buy a big spice rack and stock it with fresh herbs and spices to add excitement to your cookings.
  86. Substitute coconut milk for condensed milk, if you’re making a vegan-friendly cake.
  87. ¼ cup applesauce, puréed tofu or one mashed banana will replace one whole egg in vegan recipes. Use tofu in savory recipes.
  88. Bake for longer at a lower temperature for most vegan recipes. You’ll have much less stodgy results.
  89. Add hemp hearts to muffins instead of bran: No, you won’t get high and it will make a delicious, nutritious change.
  90. Need to improvise kid-friendly pizza? Use frozen dinner roll dough. Spread with tomato sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake.
  91. Roll peeled banana chunks in toasted coconut, cocoa powder or chocolate sprinkles to increase kid-appeal.
  92. For almost-instant applesauce: Microwave apple pieces for 3-4 minutes to soften. Add cinnamon. Purée in food processor.
  93. When pre-preparing sandwiches, don’t cut the crusts off till right before serving. The sandwich edges will dry out and curl if you do.
  94. Use beer or sparkling wine to make a tasty, unique mock loaf of “bread”—without yeast.
  95. To make bread “crack” on top in a rustic manner, place a pan of water on the bottom rack of your oven, when baking.
  96. Slightly toast sunflower seeds or nuts before sprinkling them on top of bread. They will be much more digestible.
  97. Soak grains such as oatmeal for at least ten minutes with a splash of boiling water, before adding them to bread.
  98. To make “tulip”-shaped cupcake liners, fashion out of squares of parchment paper in your muffin tin.
  99. Place a paper lace doily over your cake and sift icing sugar all over it. Carefully remove doily—the pattern remains.
  100. To make any color, shade or tint of frosting, check out the chart at:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/frost-by-numbers-how-to-make-frosting-colors.html

Project 38: Update 1

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a month since I turned 38.  It’s been a crazy month.  We decided to move, bought a house, and closed on it in the last month!!!  Two of our kids started new schools this month and we have one more starting in a new school next week. With as much craziness as has gone on, I was quite pleased with my accomplishments so far!

1.  Read through my Bible twice

2.  Memorize 38 Bible verses

3.  Lose 10 pounds

4.  Lose 10 pounds

5.  Lose 10 pounds

6.  Lose 10 pounds

7.  Lose 10 pounds

8.  Lose 10 pounds

9.  Lose 10 pounds

10. Lose 10 pounds

11.  Complete C25K

12.  Run a 5k in 38 minutes

13.  Run a 5k in 33 minutes

14.  Run a 5k in under 30 minutes

15.  Run a half-marathon

16.  Do T-Tapp workout 38 times  {I completed 3 T-Tapp workouts in this month}

17. Swim laps 38 times

18. Complete a sprint triathlon

19.  Do 38 girl pushups in a row

20. Do 50 girl pushups in a row

21.  Do 100 girl pushups in a row

22. Do 10 regular pushups

23.  Do 38 regular pushups

24.  Read 38 books  {I read 4 this month}

25.  Listen to 38 audiobooks  {I listened to 7 audiobooks this month and I’m on #8}

26. Write an ebook

27.  Take family pictures

28.  Go on 38 dates with my hubby {I went on 2 dates….I have some making up to do}

29.  Go on 38 walks with friends (or workout with friends) {One down…37 to go!}

30. Get certified to teach a fitness class

31. Learn one new skill

32. Do 10 speaking engagements

33. Complete the 365 Day Savings Challenge (fill my piggy bank) {I am kicking butt on this…I’ve already filled one whole mason jar and I’m on jar #2}

34. Complete the 52 Week Saving Challenge (put money in our savings account)  {I’ve added $15 to our account}

35. Put $2000 in vacation fund

36. In bed, lights out by 10pm 60 nights {This has happened 3 times, but it needs to happen much more frequently}

37. Get up by 5:30am 50 days {Um….yeah…soon, I hope}

38. Make 38 fun crafts, recipes or projects {I have 1 done and it’s oh-so-cute}

Any suggestions to help me reach my goals?

My Goals for the Week {8/11/2014}


We are moving in one week!  AAAAHHHHH!!!  I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, but I know that a routine and some discipline will help to make things go more smoothly!  We’re also putting our house on the market this week.  Please pray that it sells quickly!

Here are my goals from last week:

Family & Homemaking Goals

1. Go through school supply stockpile and find what we need for school this year and purchase whatever is missing.

2. Pack all clothes in my dresser and move dresser to the garage.

3. Put together 10 crockpot freezer meals.  (I did plan out some meals, I just didn’t get 10 crockpot meals put together!)  I did find this awesome Crockpot Freezer Meal Plan though! :)  Will be using this in the near future!

4.  Pack up entire kitchen.

Personal Goals

5. Exercise 5 times.

6. Drink 3 liters of water per day.

7. Be in bed by 10:00 pm 3 nights.

8.  Get together with 1 friend.

9. Listen to 1 audobook.

Blog/Business Goals

10. Write 2 posts for blog.

And here are my goals for this week!

Family & Homemaking Goals

1. Create menu plan for the rest of August.

2. Make bed and do 1 full load of laundry every day.

3. Pack up entire kitchen (minus crock pot and 1 or 2 other pans for meals).

4. Complete at least 10 more lessons of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

Personal Goals

5. Exercise 5 times.

6 Drink 3 liters of water per day.

7.  Get together with 1 friend.

8. Finish reading The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success.  This is a great book that talks about the power of discipline…a much needed read for me.

Blog/Business Goals

9. Write 2 posts for blog.

10. Launch my new Nerium business!  Check out my results after just 5 days!

What are your goals for this week? Any suggestions to help me with my goals?

 

Meal Planning Made Easy

 

One of my goals this week was to put together 10 freezer crockpot meals.  I did some research and found a few different freezer/crockpot recipes and cookbooks, but with as crazy as things are here, I needed something super simple!  When my friend Lauren mentioned that she had put together a Slow Cooker Meal Plan complete with a shopping list and everything else I needed, I immediately checked it out!  She also put together a meal plan of 25 meals from Aldi for $150 and a Gluten-Free Meal Plan from Aldi.  I was in meal planning heaven! There’s something so wonderful about having a meal plan and it’s even more wonderful when you don’t have to create it yourself!  Lauren has done all the work and you can reap the benefits.

Lauren offers a free version of each of these meal plans, but for only $1.97, you can purchase a printable pack that contains printable grocery lists, calendars and more!  With the craziness of back to school and kids sports, I encourage you to spend a few bucks to make your life easier!  I just purchased the Gluten-Free Meal Plan and the Slow Cooker Meal Plan.  That was $4 well spent!  I’m excited to head to Aldi and whip up some yummy dinners for my family!