Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 book list

I'm popping in from my longest blog absence ever because I wanted to continue my tradition of posting my book list--this is list #6 and my lengthiest yet. I read a dozen more books this year this usual. I find solace in books, and with a lot of hard things happening this year, reading became an even more valued outlet.

Here are the titles I read in 2015:
1. Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
2. Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford
3. Growing Up Duggar by the Duggar sisters
4. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
5. Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung
6. Family Feasts for $75 by Mary Ostyn
7. Getting Things Done by David Allen
8. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
9. Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman
10. Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar
11. The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
12. Essential Oils for Beginners by Althea Press
13. Mom Enough--edited by Tony and Karalee Reinke
14. Plenty by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon
15. Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less by Pia Catton and Califia Suntree
16. May B. by Caroline Starr Rose
17. Go Green, Save Green by Nancy Sleeth
18. Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
19. 12 Secrets to Staying Calm in a Crazy World by Glenn Van Ekeren
20. Where the River Ends by Charles Martin
21. The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila
22. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
23. Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova
24. Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
25. Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofeld
26. The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts
27. The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka
28. When Cricketes Cry by Charles Martin
29. Small Victories by Anne Lamott
30. Scary Close by Donald Miller
31. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
32. You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan
33. Paris for Lunch by Elizabeth Bard
34. Eat Smart, Walk Strong by Leslie Sansone
35. The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart
36. The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski
37. Under the Overpass by Michael Yankoski
38. So Much Sky by Karen Weir-Jaimerson
39. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
40. Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker
41. I Have Nothing to Wear by Jill Martin and Dana Ravich
42. The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless
43. Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans
44. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
45. The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner
46. Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl
47. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
48. From Tablet to Table by Leonard Sweet
49. Nourished by Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph
50. Water from My Heart by Charles Martin
51. Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
52. Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy
53. Let's All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs
54. Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn
55. Amy Knapp's Family Organizing Handbook
56. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
57. A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes
58. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Sloot
59. Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
60. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
61. Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
62. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
63. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
64. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
65. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
66. We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
67. Counting by 7's by Holly Goldberg Sloan
68. The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle
69. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
70. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
71. Glamping with MaryJane by MaryJane Butters
72. 50 Dates in 50 States by M.L. Brocklehurst
73. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (read-aloud with my girls)
74. Nobody's Cute than You by Melanie Shankle
75. Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup
76. Home is Where My People Are by Sophie Hudson
77. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

I so enjoy seeing the complete list and take pride in how eclectic it is. Books are such a treasure! I'd love to hear if you've read some of these, or if you want to, or if you have any titles to recommend for next year's list. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Frugal accomplishments

Here are my frugal accomplishments from the past two weeks:

*We purchased a secondhand TV for a very good deal--it's something we'd been thinking about for a long time, the price was right.
*I gave haircuts to Eric and Nathan
*Grocery deals: cheese, lemonade mix, and salad dressing for about $1 each after stacking store and manufacturer cpns; snack mix for 74 cents/bag (sale and cpn, reg. $2.99 each); purchased an 8-pack of hamburgers for a reasonable price and the store was running a great deal where you got an 8-pack of brats for free
*Harvested plenty of garden goodies, though tomatoes and green beans are slowing way down
*Made bran muffins, better than Pam, granola bites, apple pie filling, and apple cider (Look at my Monica-style photo!)
*Received a bag of girls clothes from a friend, and in turn, brought two big bags to a friend of mine
*Scored vitamins on an amazing deal--thought they would be 50% off, and they rang up even lower, so I bought two bottles instead of one
*Hosted a home party, and used those discounts to buy some items I've been wanting, as well as a couple gifts; also, it was a fun surprise that I got to keep the leftovers of the food that was served
*Stopped by a store that was having clearance and bought a few food items at really great discounts (cake mix for 45 cents, for example)
*Checked out a nearby thrift store, and found a couple items I was looking for. I had a $1 off coupon to sweeten the deal.
*Cooked a pound of pinto beans
*The older kids are participating in a free trial hockey program--will post a pic next time. They look so cute in all the gear!
*Made the most delicious apple crisp, and I promised Monica I would post the recipe. This is courtesy of my dear friend, Patricia, and this recipe* was instrumental in her wooing her husband, so they handed it out at their reception a couple years ago! Enjoy. It will now be my go-to apple crisp, replacing the previous version I'd been making for years.

4 c. diced apples
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. softened butter
1 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water

Preheat oven to 375. Placed apples in buttered 8x8 dish, and sprinkle with some of the cinnamon. Drizzle water over apples. Cream butter, sugar and flour together and sprinkle mixture over apples. Sprinkle more cinnamon on top. Bake for 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream.

I'd love to hear about your frugal activities!

*As with all recipes, I made a couple minor changes to the original, but I've printed it here as I made and loved it. =)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Frugal accomplishments

Here are my frugal accomplishments from the past two weeks--I'd love to hear some of yours!

*I ordered a magazine subscription with some rewards points
*Made fajita seasoning, corn dog muffins
*Won a free paring knife at a home party for bringing a friend along
*Grocery deals: 5 lbs. potatoes for 79 cents (sale and C51), cereal for $1.29/box (sale and cpns)
*Received a shampoo sample in the mail
*Ordered some free photos and gifts using codes
*Attended two meals at the college that were free for staff and families
*Cooked a batch of black beans in the crockpot
*Stopped by a new-to-us book swap box and had so much fun trading
*Redeemed a coupon for a free 12-pack of C*ke
*Used coupons for free mini pizzas that the kids earned from the summer reading program
*Received another eggplant and made the same hummus recipe as last time
*Took advantage of a really fun art event with street entertainment, free crafts and refreshments
*Stopped at about a dozen garage sales. My favorite scores were some awesome jar candles (two brand new, which will make nice gifts, and one brand name candle that retails for over $20, and I paid 25 cents for it 2/3 full!) Also got some clothing items for 50 cents-$3 each.
*Received a box of lotion samples from a friend who had an abundance via a family member
*Harvested garden goodies--zinnias, peppers, green beans, tomatoes
*Picked apples for free from two different yards that offered/granted us permission--made a year's supply of applesauce for less than $2 (sugar and cinnamon)--most of it is pictured below
*Stocked up on marked down bread at two different bakeries, including 74 cents for organic multigrain loaves (reg. $2.99) and 85 cents for brat buns (also reg. $2.99)
*Checked out clearance section and scored marked down glue sticks (27 cents/2-pack), scented markers ($2, on Natalie's wish list), and a quart of mis-tinted paint needed for a home project (50% off)

Your turn to share!

Friday, August 28, 2015

End of summer, start of school

Blogging was not at the top of my list this summer, but I do hope to start posting a little more often now.

As I mentioned in my last post, we met up with my parents in South Dakota for a few days, and had a wonderful time. I am so thankful my dad felt up to traveling (his first time out of CO in nearly 3 years!!) Here are some photos from our time together:

A stop at the iconic tourist destination on our way out

We saw over a hundred buffalo and many other animals at Custer State Park

Spending the afternoon at a beautiful lake
A visit to an imaginative children's attraction

My mom wanted a pic of my kiddos in this pumpkin, because look who got a photo at the same spot 29 years ago?!

Mount Rushmore
Swinging by the corn palace on the way home

The older kids started school this week, so here is a photo from the first day. 
And with that, we launch into a new season!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Frugal accomplishments

Here are my frugal accomplishments from the past two weeks:

*A friend gave me an eggplant from her garden. I think I'd only tasted eggplant once, and I'd never cooked with it. I recalled a recipe I'd wanted to try, and it was quite good--very much like hummus. 
*We attended a wonderful event in a nearby town with an organized family bike ride, followed by free supper and swimming at the local pool. 
*I took advantage of some deals to make a highly unusual on-line order of some new clothing for myself. I had a couple gift cards from past birthdays, plus a discount code and free shipping. I also earned some cash back.
*I won two movie tickets from the library for filling out a survey.
*I took the kids out to lunch using coupons they'd earned from the summer reading program. I spent just a couple dollars for all 4 of us to eat.
*We went to a garage sale that had a free box and found a couple new items to use in shoeboxes.
*We continue to harvest from our garden, mostly green beans, tomatoes and bell peppers. Plus zinnias, of course!
*I stocked up on some amazing grocery deals, including cereal for $1/box (reg. $3.49/each!) and syrup for 98 cents/bottle, plus it had a coupon on it for free pancake mix. I only paid $7.90 for $33.30 worth of the three products mentioned! Plus, I earned several cents off per gallon of gas.
*We attended a free pool party.
*We scored some leftover goodies from a potluck we attended, and it provided supper for the next night.
*I redeemed an offer for a free dessert with purchase when celebrating a friend's birthday at a restaurant.
*We met up with my parents in South Dakota for a long weekend, and my mom and I planned and brought meals to save on food costs. We ate out just twice on our four-day trip. Here's the lovely view from our cabin:
*We purchased a Groupon to save money on one of our trip outings. (However, we learned later that we could've used a discount code that day to further sweeten the deal. Oh, well!)
*I made laundry soap and peanut butter cookies.

I'd love to hear about your recent frugal activities! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Frugal accomplishments

I didn't keep a frugal list on vacation, partly because there wasn't much to report in this regard, so this list is from the past 2-3 weeks.

*Gave haircuts to Eric and Nathan
*Received lots of free samples in the mail: vitamins, shampoo, diapers, mouthwash, lotion
*Our kids earned some great prizes from a healthy living program they participated in. They each won some tickets to nearby attractions, which we used for a fun and frugal family day. Both attractions are fairly expensive, and these passes enabled us to go to two cool places for very low cost!
*Harvested lots of garden goodies: flowers, onions, rhubarb, green beans, a few tomatoes, and peppers, including this unusual multi-colored one
*Redeemed coupons for free mini pizzas and had a picnic at an outdoor spot where the kids have been wanting to eat.
*The kids also earned a boatload of prizes from the library's summer reading program, including lots of food coupons and some school supplies.
*Grocery deals: snack mix for 79 cents a bag with sale and cpn (reg. $2.49 each), a loaf of bread for 39 cents, a free 2-liter of pop
*Went to the pool twice on their discount nights--a huge savings ($6 for our family vs. $17 if we go on a regular afternoon)
*Attended a free concert, and watermelon was served at no cost
*Visited three different shops that were having major clearance (one store was 50% off everything, one was 75%, and the other was a $1 bag sale--the best! I paid just one dollar for everything pictured below. My favorite find was the doll leotard for Natalie, especially because it's the exact same color of a leotard I already had to give her for Christmas!)
*Made lots of stuff with blueberries and strawberries, including jam, syrup, pie, muffins, and crisp--here's a pic of the syrup--I added the berry pulp I strained to the waffle batter, which was delicious!
*Nathan attended an athletic clinic at no cost because of Eric's employment at the college
*Made pasta salad, granola bites, apple French toast cups, Scotcheroos, and I tried making some homemade Pedi@lyte when Natalie wasn't feeling well. She liked the taste, and I felt good knowing I'd made something healthy and inexpensive that was nourishing her better than just plain water.
*Took advantage of ordering some natural health goodies when free shipping was offered. I also had some rewards points to spend.
*A friend gave us a bag of girl clothes her daughter outgrew. I selected a few things and passed it on to a friend with twins.
*Cooked a pot of black beans
*I received a coupon from our local movie theater for a free medium drink and popcorn. There wasn't anything we wanted to see before the coupon expired, but it did not indicate in the fine print that a purchase needed to be made to redeem the offer. I picked up the goodies (value $9.75--crazy!!) and a movie from the library for a free but indulgent date night!

I'd love to hear about your recent frugal activities! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer stuff

This summer has flown by! Here is a recap of some of our summer:

We were so blessed to have Monica, her kids, and my mom visit for a few days in mid-June. They drove many extra miles to make it happen, and we are so grateful for the time together.

The kids were involved in baseball and gymnastics, which kept us busy most nights the month of June.

At the end of June, we had to say goodbye to our beloved dog, Reggie. He would've turned 15 next month, and it's been quite an adjustment without him around, especially for Eric.

We spent a little over two weeks in Michigan. En route, I got to stay overnight with my dear friend, Mandi, in Chicago.
It was great to see family and the kids always have fun at the lake. There were 20 of us staying at the cottage for one of the weeks, but I don't have any of those photos on my camera, so maybe I can share more later.

A few days after getting back to Iowa, we had to say some very hard goodbyes--Eric's brother, Ryan, and his wife, Alyssum, moved last week to Minnesota. Though they'll only be a few hours away, we will deeply miss their presence here.
As you can see, we've had a lot going on. I did want to check in before getting even more behind. Blessings!