This Week's Meal Plan {August 17 - 23}

8.19.2014



I'm changing it up this week and starting my menu on a Sunday instead of Monday. This just works better with my shopping schedule, so there you go!

Sunday

Apricot Gorgonzola Cheese Spread - sorry for getting you addicted. My bad.
Spanikopita Burgers {Rachael Ray} - these are a whole bunch of work, but they are ever so yummy. Just don't make these on a weeknight!
Chips
Green Salad

Monday

Leek and Gnocchi Bake with Three Cheeses and Crispy Prosciutto {Rachael Ray}
Green Salad

Tuesday

Antipasto Chef's Salad {Food Network Magazine}

Wednesday

Pork Tenderloin, with Corn, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Salad {Cook's Country magazine}

Thursday

Best Spaghetti and Meatballs {Taste of Home}
Perfect Cheesy Garlic Bread {Center Cut Cook}
Green Salad

Friday

Leftovers

Saturday

Eat Out

Star of Last Week


The star of last week's menu was certainly the Cashew! God Bless You Chicken From Rachael Ray. This is one of those recipes that we just keep coming back to! If you don't have or can't find hoisin, any bottled stir fry sauce will do. Give it a try!

Here's the site I use for meal planning and creating grocery lists:

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

 I'm linking up to Menu Plan Monday!










{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

Twitterature {August 2014}

8.15.2014



Twitterature is a place to share short, casual reviews of books and I'm linking up to the event over on Modern Mrs. Darcy. Head over there to read more reviews, but be warned that you will fill up your to-read list! Here's what I read this month (fair warning: I was on a tear!).


One & Only, Emily Giffin

Too. Much. Football. I was bored and just couldn't get invested in the love story. Not a win for me.

The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert

So much had happened halfway through this novel that I was exhausted and could not fathom that there was still halfway more to go. Some portions also felt unnecessarily prurient.  For the record - I might be the only woman in her 30's that hasn't read Gilbert's famous Eat, Pray, Love.

Quiet, Susan Cain

This is a book I have to talk about with everyone I see. As an extroverted parent to a sensitive, introverted child, I found this book fascinating and insightful.

Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, Trenton Lee Stewart

I have a problem. Once I start a series, I have to finish it. The joy in finishing it outweighs any pain from reading something I don't love. However, I found that the second installment of this series was actually better than the first (which I didn't love). I am proud of myself for abandoning the next one in the series though, because I was so totally not into it.

Landline, Rainbow Rowell

Despite the gimmick, this is an engrossing love story. It was nice to read a book at the beginning of the wave of popularity instead of reading it years later..... I think I might be in the minority as someone who loved this book, but I think I might be the target audience!

The Aviator's Wife, Melanie Benjamin

I knew I didn't like Charles Lindbergh much (other than his brave trans-oceanic flight), but after reading this historical fiction and being inspired to do more research, I like him even less. This novel made me want to read more of Benjamin's writing, though.


The Husband's Secret, Liane Moriarty

I spent the first half annoyed that I didn't know the secret and the second half annoyed that I did know it, so I think I'm not cut out for this type of book.

A Room with a View, E. M. Forrester

I had a tough time listening to this one on audio, maybe because of the different cadence and the introduction of so many characters at once. It was predictable, but lots of tongue in cheek fun.

The Wedding Night, Sophie Kinsella

The novel from one of my favorite chick lit authors didn't get the best reviews, but I thought this book was delightfully silly. Maybe it was because I listened to it as an audiobook, with some lovely British accents?

The Astronaut Wives' Club, Lily Koppel

This felt more like a string of historical facts rather than a cogent story. I was somewhat disappointed because, done right, I think this could have been fascinating. Instead, it was just like reading a textbook.

Parnassus on Wheels, Christopher Morley

When I finished this little novella, I had a warm heart and a smile on my face. It was so nice to read a story so simple, yet so intricate, too. It was published in 1917 and I'm not sure I ever would have found it without my Quarterly Book Riot subscription!


This Week's Meal Plan {August 11 - 17}

8.12.2014



This week's meal plan comes courtesy of my kind husband. I was all stressed out with work, so he did me the favor or picking recipes for the week.

Monday

"Taco Monday" is what he wrote down, so we'll have my favorite taco recipe: Sara's Tacos {Martha Stewart} - I'll double the amount of meat so we can use it for tomorrow's recipe.
Mexican Rice {Food Network} - Throw out the box and make this! Okay, well make the box, then don't buy anymore, and make this instead. Throwing it out would be wasteful. We'll put this in tomorrow's burritos, too.

Tuesday

He's a fan of leftovers and knows I usually schedule leftovers for Tuesdays, so suggested a recipe using the leftover taco meat. We'll do Grilled Stuffed Burritos {Mostly Homemade Mom}, which will use up both the meat and the rice.

Wednesday

Cashew! God Bless You, Chicken {Rachael Ray}

Thursday

Green Chili Sloppy Joses with Refried Bean Dip and Chips {Rachael Ray} - This was phrased as "one of those Rachael Ray sloppy joe recipes, but not the buffalo one." He's right - she had a ton of sloppy joe recipes, but this one's my favorite. I love it when RR does recipes for a complete meal with sides - it takes all the thinking out of it!

Friday

Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice Casserole (Freezer Friendly) {Money Saving Mom} - I have gone through my freezer stash of this casserole so need to make more! Adding a Ritz cracker topping makes it out of this world.
Homemade Cream of Something Soup {Once a Month Meals} - I made substitute this for the canned stuff. It's amazingly better and not full of junk, especially because I use my homemade chicken stock!

Saturday

Eat Out

Sunday

Spanikopita Burger {Rachael Ray}
Chips
Green Salad

Star of Last Week



I know, I know. The Buffalo Chicken Ramen from last week's menu sounds so strange, but it is amazingly quick and easy, plus it tastes great. As you eat it, the cheese sorta melts into the broth. Try it!

Here's the site I use for meal planning and creating grocery lists:

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

 I'm linking up to Menu Plan Monday!










{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

Julep's August Collection {Get a Free Box!}

8.07.2014


Have you ever heard of Julep? I love it so much. It's a little treat I give myself each month, plus I think it's a pretty great value.

{The Box} Julep

{The Price} $19.99/month if you sign up for a three month subscription and $24.99 if you sign up for one month.

{The Contents} You take a quiz to determine your beauty profile, which results in suggested colors and products each month. The great thing about Julep though, compared to other beauty boxes, is that it has recently made the boxes very customizable, so if you don't love one of the colors for your beauty profile, but don't like another color, you can swap it out for something you love! That feature starts with your second box.

Here's what I got in my box, after doing some swapping out an eyeliner and swapping in a top coat:



Here are the suggested sets based upon the style profiles from this month:

Boho Glam

Bombshell

Classic with a Twist (this is the style profile I got form the quiz)
Modern Beauty - no polish, just beauty products

It Girl - all polish, no beauty products. I was tempted by this one this month!

{Free Box} If you're interested in getting your own Julep subscription, they are running a great deal right now! You'll get over $160 of products for $39.98. Here's how it works: you sign up for a 3 month subscription and get the first month free with code FREESIZZLE. The first box includes three nail polishes and two beauty products, for a total value of $80. After that, your regular Maven boxes will have at least a $40 value and will contain three products (see the profiles above for examples). Shipping is free. After your first three months, the price is $19.99 a month for a three-month subscription. And don't forget, you can swap out things you don't want and swap in things you do!

I think these three polishes and two beauty products are what are included in the first, free box, but it is subject to change:



Let me know what you think if you give it a try!

{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

This Week's Meal Plan {August 4 - 10}

8.04.2014


Monday

Lasagna Casserole (Freezer Friendly) {Money Saving Mom} - if I didn't want to use the extra for leftovers, I would have broken this recipe up into two pans and frozen one of them. This is from Money Saving Mom's great freezer cooking series.
Green Salad

Tuesday

Leftovers

Wednesday

Buffalo Chicken Ramen {Taste of Home} - this recipe sounds very strange, but I swear it is very yummy. And I still have half a bag of chicken strips in the freezer to use up from the last time I made it! It's perfect for nights when you need to get dinner on the table quickly.

Thursday

Rigatoni with Swiss Chard Pesto {Keepers}
Perfect Cheesy Garlic Bread {Center Cut Cook}
Green Salad

Friday

Chicken and Bacon Stromboli {Every Day with Rachael Ray}
Green Salad - yes, I know that my family will get sick of salad, but I have lots of lettuce to use up!!

Saturday

Eat Out

Sunday

Tequila BBQ Spare Ribs {Guy Fieri via Food Network Magazine}
Grilled Cheesy Cannellini-Stuffed Poblanos {Every Day with Rachael Ray}

Star of Last Week



Unlike the first time I tried this recipe, I actually followed the instructions this time when making Sichuan Stir Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce from last week's menu, and wow, was it ever good. My six-year old asked for thirds! It's a bit complicated, like many America's Test Kitchen recipes, but it was worth the effort.

Here's the site I use for meal planning and creating grocery lists:

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

 I'm linking up to Menu Plan Monday!










{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

Animal Trackers Subscription Box for Kids {Review}

7.30.2014


There's no doubt that one of the best gifts you can give to your children is a love of reading. Animal Trackers is a fun, animal themed, subscription box to help parents impart that gift!

{The Box} Animal Trackers

{The Price} $14.95/month (that's $11.95, plus $3.00 shipping)

{The Contents} The first mailing for Animal Trackers includes a cute little letter from Bode the Bear, which explains that the kids are going on an adventure to visit animal habitats, beginning with the African Savanna. The introductory mailing includes a lunchbox that will serve as a spot for storing all the items received and a place to put magnets sent in future months, two African Savanna backgrounds and stickers to use on them, a pencil, an information card about the habitat, a card set of Savanna animals, and a My Safari Animal Tracks card collection starter kit. Each month following the introductory month includes an information card, play figure, a foam mask, magnet, photo card, learning activity, and art project, all of which are focused on an animal theme. (Animal Trackers and Space Scouts (check out my Space Scouts review here) are sister companies, so have a similar set up.)

Here's a few closeups of what was included in the Introductory package, which is what you receive the first month of your subscription:

The entire introductory set!

The stickers can be used on the Savanna backgrounds for a fun art project. 

Savanna information card, introductory letter from Bode Bear, and the starter set for the My Safari Animal Tracks card collection.

A set of Savanna Animal Cards and instructions on many ways to use them.

And here's what was included in the second month:

The whole package - Zebra theme

Foam Zebra mask

Zebra Facts, magnet to place on lunchbox, and a zebra card for the card collection

Zebra Themed Worksheets -These focus on letters, letter sounds, and numbers.

Magic Nuudles craft project - my three-year loved this and so did my six-year old! I was so glad there were two pages included. You dampen the noodles with a little water and they stick to the paper. 

The zebra figurine came wrapped very nicely in paper.

{Thoughts} My three year old son loved the activities in Animal Trackers. He could not wait for me to finish taking pictures before diving in! Of particular interest were the small, manipulative items like the foam stickers, cards, and figurine. He could have played with those things all day. My son wasn't very interested in the worksheets, but he generally isn't interested in sitting still for anything!

I appreciate that Animal Trackers understands the attention level of this age group and that they focus on a hand- on approach. Since it is billed as a pre-reading activity box, I wish the box included a book, but I know that would make the price much higher. It would be easily to supplement the Animal Trackers subscription box with a few books from the library focused on the animal theme each month. For example, the zebra theme could be supplemented by Fascinating Zebras! on a Kindle device, Greedy Zebra, or What if the Zebras Lost Their Stripes?.

This box has a great value and I'd recommend it if you are looking for some pre-reading activities for your 3-6 year old. If your kid is obsessed with animals, it wouldn't get much better than Animal Trackers, especially for the price!

{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

This Week's Meal Plan {July 28 - August 3}

7.28.2014


This week's goal is to clear the freezer of all frozen meat! I start to worry about how long it's been in there.... I added reminders to my To Do app and we'll see if I can get everything defrosted on time!

Monday

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta {The Paper Heart Studio}
Baguette

Tuesday

Leftovers

Wednesday

Sichuan Stir Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce {America's Test Kitchen}

Thursday

The Marlboro Man Sandwich {Pioneer Woman}
Green Salad

Friday

Marinated Pork Chops with Green Beans and Grilled Crouton Salad {Real Simple Magazine}

Saturday

Birthday Party

Sunday

Southern Peach Cobbler {Allrecipes.com} - I can't wait to try this one.
Loaded Baked Potato Salad {Dishing with Leslie} - Thanks to the comments on this post, I'll sub greek yogurt for the mayo.

Star of Last Week


When I put the Spiced Chicken Stew with Carrots into the slow cooker last week, expectations were very low expectations. I hardly ever love anything that comes out of a slow cooker, but I loved this. I made a simple mashed potatoes recipe and stirred a cup of gruyere into it, which was perfect with the chicken. Give this one a try, especially if you are looking for a good slow cooker meal without any "cream of" soup in it!

Here's the site I use for meal planning and creating grocery lists:

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

 I'm linking up to Menu Plan Monday!










{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}