Monday, June 29, 2015

Crockpot Monday: Beef Barley Stew

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Do you know those days in summer that you go outside and you could swear that it's fall already? This recipe is perfect for those days! Personally, I'm not a soup/stew on a hot day kinda girl, but I love them when the weather is cool. Nothing seems to work better to warm you up! Luckily for you (and for me!), this one will be in the freezer just waiting for you to thaw it out and to toss it into the crockpot! Plus, this is the perfect way to get rid of those odds and ends that we all find in our crisper drawers!

Beef Barley Stew:

Ingredients:
1.5 pounds stew meat
2 c baby carrots, cut into bite size pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
3/4 c. pearl barley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. basil
1 bay leaf
4 c. beef stock

Place all of the ingredients into a gallon size freezer bag. Squeeze out remaining air, seal and freeze.

Cooking Instructions:
Cook on low 8-10 hours. Remove bay leaf prior to serving.


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Friday, June 26, 2015

Book Review: Laugh Out Loud Pocket Doodles For Girls

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Rob Elliott's Laugh-Out-Loud joke books have brought laughter to more than half a million households. His last book invited kids into the action as he teamed up with cartoonist Jonny Hawkins to create "Laugh-Out-Loud Doodles for Kids." Now the dynamic duo is back with two brand-new books for boys and girls who love to draw and love to laugh! Packed with jokes that will keep boys and girls giggling for hours, and unfinished doodles for them to complete any way they want, these books keep little hands and minds busy. Perfect for road trips, lazy summer days, or anytime the kids say, "I'm bored!"

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World's shortest review. Fantastic! Awesome! Go buy it now!

In all seriousness, if you have girls, you're going to want this book. It's perfect for travel, for family fun, or just some serious silliness. Don't let this one pass you by.


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I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.
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Monday, June 22, 2015

Crockpot Monday: BBQ Cranberry Chicken

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I am loving prepping, cooking, and eating these meals! It sure makes our Friday's so much easier. I'm not even kidding. Here's my Friday:

7am - wakeup
7:30am - Out the door to take Roger to football workout
8am - 9am - Sitting at the Community Center and working while he works out
9am - Drive Home
9:30am - 3pm - Home and doing things around the house/with the boys
3pm - Out the door to take Ben to swim practice
3:30pm-5:30pm - Sitting at the Community Center while Ben is at practice.
5:30pm - Drive Home
6pm - Dinner, etc.

If I didn't have that dinner in the crockpot, I think we'd be eating a lot of pb&j on Friday's. I'm wiped out by the time we get home. One of the recipes that I can't wait to try out is this one!

BBQ Cranberry Chicken:

Ingredients:
2 pounds chicken breasts
1/2 small onion, chopped
16 oz whole berry cranberry sauce
1 c bbq sauce

Place all ingredients in a one gallon freezer bag. I like to then squish it around to help break up the cranberry sauce into the bbq sauce. Squeeze out all extra air, seal and freeze.

Cooking Instructions:
Thaw and place into your crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.


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Monday, June 15, 2015

Crockpot Monday: Beef Stroganoff

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So, if you've been paying attention, you'll realize that this post did not go up when it says it did. I'm so sorry about that. Let me give you a bit of an explanation as to why.

I just got back from a few weeks out of town and while I was gone, it seems the world conspired against me. The president of the village got up in arms about my yard (did I mention that nobody was home to mow it?), my electricity went out for 5 days and just general chaos. Since I've been back, I've dealt with a laptop that didn't want to function properly, an internet outage and the process of cleaning out my fridge and freezer (which is almost done, thank goodness!). So, needless to say, the posts didn't get done when I'd wanted. They're done now! I spent today prepping 7 meals.. 5 new ones and 2 to replace the half a dozen that I've had to throw out. Yay! So, how about this week's recipe? Beef Stroganoff! Yum!

Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:
1.5 pounds stew meat
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 pound mushrooms
1 c water
1 c. sour cream*
egg noodles*

Place all ingredients, except for sour cream and egg noodles, into a one gallon freezer bag. Squeeze remaining air out and seal. Place into freezer.

Cooking instructions:
Thaw. Place into a crockpot, turned on low, for 8 hours. Add 1 cup of sour cream and cook on high for an additional 10 minutes. Serve over cooked egg noodles.


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Book Review: How to Blog a Book

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How to Blog a Book, Revised and Expanded Edition shows you how to plan a successful book that you can then blog into existence while building your platform and attracting potential publishers. Aspiring authors learn how to create a blogged book with a well-honed and uniquely angled subject, targeted posts, and a readership large enough to get noticed by an agent or a publisher.

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As a blogger and writer, this is an idea that I've seen thrown around more than once. I was thrilled when I got a digital copy of this book because I wanted to learn more and learn I did! The author takes the time to break down complex terms and gives clear explanations on everything. Every step involved in the process is laid out so there's no guesswork involved. Heck, even the legal aspects are covered! Honestly, if this is something that you've ever considered as a blogger, a writer, or some combination of the two, this would be a great book to have on your shelf. I know that I'm going to be adding this book to my Amazon wish list so that I can have it to reference, jot notes in, and just have on hand.

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I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.
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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Book Review: Calming the Chaos

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Far too many people in contemporary culture feel they don't have enough time to "get it all done." The stress of this chronic overwhelm creates a disorganized mind that leads to a chaotic life. Based on her highly acclaimed "Energy Management" workshops, and drawn from over 25 years of counseling and coaching experience, professional trainer and speaker Jackie Woodside shares her breakthrough methods that lead to becoming the least stressed, most productive person you know!
In Calming the Chaos, you will learn the step-by-step skills and thought processes that lead to increased productivity and peace of mind. Jackie's approach stems from the new frontier of human performance called energetic consciousness. Part philosophy, part psychology, fully practical application, you will learn:
- Why there is no such thing as time management and what to do instead.- How to manage your energy instead of your time and stress.- The three-step formula for managing every component of your life for the rest of your life!- Why "to-do lists" are a set up for failure and what really works.- "The Three Strikes Rule" that will end procrastination for good!- How to always know that you have the time for what you want and need to do!
Many books promise to change your life. Applying these principles will make this a reality!

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Another book for the bin of books I will come back to time and time again! Honestly, this is just one of those books that you have to pick up and read for yourself to truly understand just how great it really is. There are so many principals in it that I intend on applying to my own life and so many that I already have. I love the fact that she does say that clutter in the home is clutter in the mind. It's something that I've said for years and years and that I am now very solidly applying to my own life. I always thrive in clutter free zones and it's good to see that when I came up with the theory that a cluttered home often equals a cluttered mind, I wasn't crazy.

So, kudos to the author for agreeing with me...lol! Also, tons of love goes out to her writing for being such an easy, down to earth read. The personal stories were not only easy to relate to, but often immensely helpful. Like I said, this book will be in my basket of books that I come back to time and time again.

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I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review.  All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Review: Life Outside the Box

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Get inspired to step out of your box and into a world full of potential. From the corporate world, to the arts, to working with the disenfranchised the message is clear. There is no such thing as a normal way to live your life and no one right solution to any problem. Selected from amongst over 100 interviews, the stories shared here open a window on the journeys of seven women and three men who have charted their own path, including Ruthie Davis top U.S. luxury shoe designer and the winner of the 2014 AAFA Footwear Designer of the Year award and Geir Ness whose perfume is a staple in Nordstrom, Disney World and on Disney Cruise Lines. Enjoy a glimpse behind the scenes into the unique ways these individuals chose to deal with life's challenges and how they define success in their careers."

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Every so often I run across a book that by the time I'm done I just know that it's going into my "come back to this" basket. This was one of those books. All ten stories were of individuals who didn't let life stand in the way of their dreams. This is such an important message for all of us. We all have challenges and struggles and there will be times that it would be easier to give up than to keep going, but I read stories like these and I think to myself, "Hey, if these guys can do it, so can I." I know that when I'm struggling, this is a book that I will come back to time and time again to remind myself to let my drive, determination and creativity flow.

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I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.
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Monday, June 8, 2015

Crockpot Monday: Ranch Pork Chops

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I can't believe it, but the boys have been out of school for nearly 5 days now. As predicted, the summer schedule is insane with one boy doing football workouts three days a week and the other one helping with swim practices three days a week and never the same days or times. Thank god for my crockpot. Seriously. I can take five minutes in the morning, dump the bag into it, turn it on and walk out the front door and then, when my exhausted self comes in the front door, I'm greeted with the aroma of homemade deliciousness. What's your biggest summer challenge?

Ranch Pork Chops:

Ingredients:
1-2 lbs. thick sliced, boneless pork chops
6 medium red potatoes, chopped
10.75 oz can cream of celery soup
10.75 oz can cream of chicken soup
2 - 1oz dry Ranch dressing mix packages
1 c milk

Mix soup, milk and ranch packets together in a bowl and then pour into a gallon sized freezer bag. Add remaining ingredients, remove excess air, seal and freeze.

Cooking instructions: Thaw in refrigerator, pour into crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.


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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Book Review: Guy Erma Part 2

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HUNTED. Part 2 of Guy Erma and the Son of Empire

The new serialisation of Guy Erma and the Son of Empire.

"Guy Erma and the Son of Empire by Sally Ann Melia is a fast-paced and exciting YA military sci-fi read. Don't miss this one!" — Brent LeVasseur, author and illustrator of the Aoléon The Martian Girl series.

How dare you? How dare you hold me captive?

13-year-old Teodor was taken by the vicious Battle Borgs of Dome and now he must fight to survive.
13-year-old Guy Erma has been offered a chance to fight for his place in the Dome Elite. Only who will be his opponent? Will he face a Battle Borg of Dome?
Once they were heroes. These men died as heroes in battle. Now they have been reincarnated as the fearsome vanguard of the Dome Elite. They are the Battle Borgs of Dome
Two boys as different as any two boys might be. They face the same enemy, the same danger, the same fear - dare they trust each other? 

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Remember how great I said the full book was and then how I said the same thing about Part 1? Well, that hasn't changed for Part 2. The book is still fast paced, exciting and full of adventure. Honestly, I'm thinking about assigning my boys each a book to read over the course of the summer and I think my youngest is going to get handed this one. It's right up his alley. After all, who can resist reading about the Borg? Well, he's a teenage boy so he could just to be persnickety, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he's going to start reading this and then he'll keep reading it because it's just that good and honestly, if you can get a kid who is generally a non-reader to sit and read, you know the book just has to be good.

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I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Book Review: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

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If there’s one thing that Bridgette Reynolds has learned recently, it’s that the perfect shoes, the perfect hair, and the perfect dress do not make for the perfect proposal. In fact, sometimes they make for the not-so-perfect breakup.

Now, Bridgette must do everything in her power to win Adam back. She knows they are meant to be. And nothing will stand in her way—not her friends, not her grandmother, not even the fact that Adam is now engaged to Serene after a whirlwind romance.

Focused on her plan to win Adam back, Bridgette isn’t expecting Ian—her college best friend, her love, her big regret—to come back into her life. They sink back into their comfortable friendship as if no time has passed at all, making Bridgette start to question her feelings for Adam. But Ian has a few secrets of his own . . . secrets that could shatter their friendship once and for all.

Bridgette has to make some major decisions—should she speak now? Or forever hold her peace?

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Chick-Lit at its most enjoyable. I curled up yesterday with this book and didn't put my Kindle down until I'd read it right up til the end. I'm pretty sure that I laughed, sighed and nearly cried right along with Bridgette. Man, that girl had a lot going on and then an incredibly hard decision right at the end. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but I will say that it kept me turning pages. I had to know if she was going to end up with any of the men in her life! On top of that, the cast of secondary characters were so incredibly well written that I felt as if these were people that I really do know. They all have their flaws, but that's what makes them that much more real. Seriously, a great read and I'm so glad that it ended the way that it did.

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I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.
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Monday, June 1, 2015

Crockpot Monday: Beef Stew

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Every so often, even with it being summer, we get a cooler period here in Michigan. On those days, I love to pull something like a stew out of the freezer. Honestly, I just hate to be cold and something like beef stew with biscuits helps warm me up and keep me going. Otherwise, I'm tempted to hibernate and nothing seems to get accomplished!


Beef Stew:

Ingredients:
2 lb stew meat
2 c baby carrots
2 c red potato, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 c celery, chopped
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Place all ingredients into gallon sized freezer bag. Remove all excess air, seal and freeze.

Cooking instructions: Thaw in refrigerator. Place into crockpot and add 1 cup of water. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

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