Sunday Quotes

May this Advent season be a time for bringing hope, transformation, and fulfillment into the Advent of our lives.

Christmas Knitting

I started knitting the second American Girl scarf for my other niece.  I spent a good amount of time knitting patterns, and then ripping it out because I didn't like how it was looking.

I realized after the third pattern I tried that I preferred to just have a simple pattern.  I wanted to let the sparkle speak for itself!

On the reading front...well I am waiting on a couple of books I have requested from the library.  Although, I know that it is unlikely that I am going to be starting any books in the next several days. 

I am so looking forward to the holiday season officially starting on Thanksgiving this week!  We have a lot of fun traditions that take place over the next several days.  It is also exciting because it will be Lucy's first Thanksgiving!  And while she won't be partaking in all the food, it will still be an occasion to celebrate!

What are you working on this week?  Or are you taking a break to work on preparing for Thanksgiving?

Talking Turkey and Leftovers!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner!  This is one of my favorite days of the year; actually the entire long weekend is pretty amazing.  Full of food and family, my favorite things!

As we prepare for a huge feast on Thursday, I thought it might be fun to talk about what we like to do with the leftovers.  We want to make sure we use all of the turkey and all of the leftovers.  

First and foremost is the turkey.  If you are like my family, you cook way too much turkey for just one meal.  Now, a lot of people will send leftovers home with the family that is at their meal.  If you are keeping a large amount of the turkey meat, there are several ways that it can be used.

Obviously the one that people think of the most is the turkey sandwich which is typically eaten the day after Thanksgiving in my house.  My mother loves to fill hers with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry relish. 

However, what I look forward to doing with the leftover turkey is to make up freezer bags filled with turkey and gravy to use for turkey pot pie.  I usually am able to make up a few freezer bags.  Sometimes I will put in leftover vegetables, green beans, peas, carrots, and then I don’t need to do anything but put the defrosted bag contents into a pie crust and into the oven!

If you give most of your turkey away after Thanksgiving, there is still one important piece that most people throw right into the trash.  What is that?  The turkey carcass.

Every year, for the past several years, I have spent the next day with the turkey carcass in a huge stock pot on the stove, simmering with water, onions, carrots, celery and garlic.  It makes a huge amount of turkey stock that I put into the freezer to use all winter for soups. 

When you are spending so much money on one meal for the year, you need to stretch it as far as you can.  Having the turkey stock for soups, and also having a few *almost* ready turkey pot pies in the freezer is a great way to use up every bit of the turkey.

If you have even more turkey than you know what to do with…you can always give it to your chickens, which is what I did a couple years ago!

What do you do with all the leftovers?  Do you use every bit of the turkey? 

Best Apps for Holiday Shopping

Thanksgiving is this week!  Can you believe it?  I certainly can’t.  And right after Thanksgiving, the Christmas season takes off in full force.  We have a weekend of shopping right ahead; Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.  How do you plan to save during such a crazy weekend of shopping anyways?

Every year, on Thanksgiving morning, I go out to get the paper, where there are tons of flyers and sale coupons and everything you could think of as far as getting a deal on Black Friday.  But, this year I will be using my iPhone to do a little more organizing, and hopefully getting a little help where I need it!  Luckily we have great coverage with 4G LTE from US Cellular.

Top Five Apps for your Holiday Shopping

There is something about Amazon that I absolutely love.  I think it might be that I can find just about everything that I could ever want or need on that website.  It is especially needed right now, since I just had a baby a few short weeks ago.  I will be doing a lot of my shopping from my couch this year.  Amazon mobile makes it incredibly easy to make purchases right on your phone.  In fact just last night I was checking my e-mail, saw a great deal for a present for my husband and purchased it right on my phone.  Talk about easy!

If you are going out to the stores on Black Friday, Google Maps is a must have app.  Did you know that it has store specific maps to help you find the best deals at great stores like Macy’s, Best Buy, and Toys R Us?  Especially if you are driving to a larger area where you don’t typically shop, and therefore don’t know exactly which aisle to go to, this app is perfect!

It seems like every store offers a loyalty or rewards card now, which is awesome!  But, it certainly makes for a lot of cards to carry around.  Key Ring lets you load all of these cards into one app, and then you can have your phone scanned at checkout.  This is certainly a lot easier than carrying around a bunch of cards!

This is a great app for Black Friday.  Millions of users submit, vote, and comment on deals across the country!  Slickdeals puts the best 30 deals on the front page every day.  It will also help you comparison shop on the fly.  If you are in a store and see a deal, you can check this app to make sure that there isn’t a better deal next door.

For those of us who don’t quite prepare for Black Friday shopping (even though I look at the flyers every year, I don’t typically go with a strategy!), Shopkick can help you as soon as you enter the store.  It helps discover all the best items at the stores close to you.  Several stores, like Target, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Old Navy, as well as several others, have partnered with Shopkick to give you instant deals as soon as you walk in the store.  The more you visit the stores, the more kicks or points you get.  The more you use the Shopkick app, the more rewards you gain, and the better deals you get throughout the Christmas shopping season.

Do you have specific apps that you use while out shopping?  What is your strategy for the weekend shopping extravaganza?  Do you like to be out in the craziness, or prefer to have a more relaxing time at home?

I am a member of the US Cellular Blogger Brigade.  I have been compensated for this post, however, as always, all opinions are my own.

knitting but not reading

I seem to have a pattern, either I am knitting and not reading, or I am reading and not knitting.  I would love to know how people do both at the same time?  Or perhaps people don't actually do that!

Here I am starting my Christmas knitting.  Clearly incredibly late this year.  However, I am not planning on making a ton of gifts this year.  I think a new baby does that to you.  

I, of course, would love to knit for everyone, but it isn't practical this year.

I am definitely making some things though.  When your beautiful nieces suggest that they would love little scarves for their American Girl dolls, well how is an auntie to deny such a thing!

Reading is certainly easier than knitting while nursing a baby, at least for me.  I haven't been able to find a new book to read though.  I am sure there are some good ones out there, but lack of time to browse definitely takes its toll on figuring out what to read next!  I will be paying attention to all the fellow yarn along bloggers to see if I can find something that catches my eye.

Linking up with Ginny and Nicole

Menu Planning on a Budget - Making a List of Easy Meals

Is it just me, or is the first thing that you try to cut back on when doing a budget the grocery money?  It seems like that is the only flexible account.  You have to pay a certain amount for electricity and heat, sure you can try and cut back on those with energy saving measures, but the place that we seem to constantly cut back the farthest is the grocery budget.

Yesterday I mentioned that I keep a list of easy, go-to meals in my Home Management Binder.  It has been a godsend over the past several years while we have tried to cut back the grocery budget.

When I think about meal planning on a budget, I immediately think about coupons.  But, since we really only have one local grocery store, couponing doesn’t work for me the way that it does for other people.  Instead, I have to think of other ways to reduce our expenditures at the grocery store.

One way that I have done that is to create this list of meals that I can make from things I typically have on hand.  What are these magical ingredients that I typically have on hand? 

Dry beans

I challenged myself to come up with a list of meals I could make so that it would be easier to meal plan.  I have a hard time making a list of meals for the week and sticking to it.  I think part of the reason is because I like to use what is in season, and often times I don’t know exactly what will be at the farmers’ market when I go.  Plus, I don’t like to put myself in a box when it comes to dinner!

I wanted something that was flexible.

Now, I realize that not everyone likes to cook.  I’m pretty bad at following recipes, which means I tend to make things up as I go.  If you like to follow a recipe, you could certainly use this method by putting together a list of easy, tried and true recipes that your family loves.

chili - recipe

What I did was take meals that my family enjoys (or will at least eat), and list the meal with whatever ingredients I would need to use.  Then, when I am stuck on a meal for the evening (I am always stuck on what to make for dinner), I can look at my list and make something relatively easy.

For example:

Meal : Fried Rice
Ingredients needed : rice, eggs, tamari, sesame oil, frozen veggies (whatever is on hand)
Meal : Chili
Ingredients needed : black/pinto beans, crushed tomatoes, frozen corn, frozen peppers, frozen onions, garlic, spices
Meal : Frittata
Ingredients needed : eggs, milk, veggies, cheese (if we have it)

None of these meals are super expensive, and they are all quite filling.  I also tend to make large amounts of these meals, so they can do double duty either by serving as lunch the next day, or dinner again later in the week.

Do you have a list of easy meals that you can make on the fly?  Do you make a more detailed menu each week?  Do you like to follow a recipe, or wing it like I do?

Menu Planning on a Budget

I can’t believe that it is almost Thanksgiving already!  How did that happen?  As I get older, time moves faster, and I’m not sure that I like it that much!

After we brought Lucy home last month, I realized that I needed to step up my meal planning.  Am I the only one who struggles in this area?  I hope not!  It seems like every time I make a plan for the week, it gets derailed somehow.  Mostly now it is due to the three little ones that capture most of my attention. 

Making meals is difficult when you are constantly dealing with the urgent!

We are at the point now where the meals I had prepared in advance (and were in our freezer) are now gone.  And the meals that lovely people were bringing to us have obviously stopped as well.  What is a mama to do?

I started thinking about Thanksgiving, and how there is so much money spent on that one meal.  That means that I need to try and make do with what we have in the pantry already, with a few additions of fresh fruits and veggies.  Then I remembered that I have a wonderful list of meals that I almost always have the ingredients on hand for.

It reminded me that I haven’t looked at my home binder in a while as well.

Waldorf Salad - yum!

Over the next couple of weeks I hope to spend a bit of time here talking about how we are managing to make do on a very small grocery budget, so that we can go all out for our Thanksgiving Feast!

The first tip that I have, that I have talked about before, is to eat a lot of beans. 

Rice Pudding - Recipe

Beans and eggs seem to be the main staples in our family.  Beans are easy to add to pretty much any dish; soups, stews, bean burritos, chili, beans and rice, bean dips.  The possibilities are endless.  Eggs are much the same.  I love to make stir fried veggies mixed with scrambled eggs and rice.  It is incredibly filling, cheap, and delicious!  It helps that my children absolutely love eggs – a reason we will be getting chicks again in the spring, but that is a story for another day.

What are some ways that you stretch a dollar when planning your meals?  Do you cut back the weeks before Thanksgiving to save some of that grocery budget for the holiday itself?

new baby equals my need for a little break!

That is exactly what I did!  I had some grand plans for after my {31 Days} Preparing for Baby # 3 series was completed.  Unfortunately, I did not think about all those end of pregnancy appointments that seem to always come up.

Then of course my perfect little bundle of joy arrived, and the sleep deprivation set in.  

I am feeling much better now though, and am ready to get back to blogging regularly!

The past few weeks have been spent loving on my little baby, and acclimating the older two kids to life with a newborn.  I have to say that they have been champs about it though, and are incredibly loving towards little Lucy.  

I have been doing a little bit of knitting here and there, mainly out of necessity.  It is amazing how cold it got as soon as I had the baby!  We were doing so well with the weather, and then I decide to bring a newborn home and the temperature plummets!  Always my luck.  

These little mitts are so easy to knit up, it helps that they are for a tiny baby, anything knit for someone the size of a doll tends to be a quick knit!  Since we all know my knitting speed, this is an important part of patterns for me - the tinier the better!

As far as reading goes, well, I am trying to catch up on some of the amazing {31 Days} series that I didn't have time to read last month.  I also just finished reading The Nesting Place.  It was really a cute book with beautiful pictures.  I wish that I had a little more luck with thrifting up here where I live...

What are you working on this week?  Any new books on your book list?