free ebook: 15 slow cooker favorites.

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. vs. 18

Family Circle is a magazine that I have seen on our coffee table for years. My mom has always liked it. Today I found a FREE ebook from them called 15 Slow Cooker Favorites. You can get yourself a copy too! Who doesn’t like free, crock-pot recipes?

First: Go to this link and “like” them on facebook.

Second: Click on the big picture that says “Get your FREE Printable Cookbook.” It will download a PDF onto your computer.

Third: Save it on your computer.

Fourth: Read, enjoy, and cook up something delicious! Oh, and don’t forget to tell me about it.

Fifth: Subscribe to my blog via email or RSS on the right side of the homepage…..sorry, that’s not REALLY part of this free ebook thing. Just wanted to throw that out there!

Also, I found this deal from Money Saving Mom. She has amazing money-saving resources. Check her out!



zucchini/squash meal.

She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household vs. 15a

I like eating steaks. Medium rare to be exact. My whole life I grew up eating meat. Meat with every meal. That’s not really by my mom’s preferences; however, my dad enjoys meat with every meal. I think I assumed that dinner always consisted of a meal with some kind of meat/poultry/fish being the main course. I went to college in the hippie-organic-eating-town of Southern Illinois and had some healthy friends show me that there are lots of great, filling meals you can have for dinner that are meatless. My friend Jordan was one of those people. I went to her house the other day, and she made this meal. It’s really delicious and simple. (perfect meal after a long day on campus).

1. Chop up some fresh zucchini, squash, and tomatoes.

2. Sauté them in olive oil and add garlic and onion powder. Or salt and pepper, whatever tickles your fancy. They should get real soft, and I like to burn them a little.

3. While those are on the stovetop, make your rice.

4. Once the rice is cooked and the veggies are done, put in in a bowl or on plate. (I like using a plate because I’m one of those picky people who like my food to be fairly separate.) I know..weird right? Oh! And melt cheese on top! That’s the best part.

So there you have it! What are some meatless meals you like to make?

* This is part of the Somewhat Simple link party.

saving money and being green with cleaning.

She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. vs. 13

One of my best friends, Amy, has a blog called A Blossoming Life. She’s a super crafty gal who can make home remedies like nobody’s business. Well, today is a special day because she is my guest blogger! Show her some love by not only giving feedback below but also visiting her blog. Today she is giving us some tips on…Saving Money and Being Green with Cleaning.

Something about creating your own products is so satisfying.  Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t have to buy them in the store or I know I am helping the environment. Probably most of all I am saving money and who doesn’t like to save money?

There are so many great reasons to make homemade products.

  1. So much cheaper
  2. Eco friendly- you use less packaging and usually doesn’t contain harmful chemicals.
  3. Great if your allergic to everything under the sun (like me)
  4. Chemicals like Windex and many more, can cause asthma
  5. Fragrance added to cleaners are not good for you or your pets (especially birds)

Try not to use paper towels! One, they cost a ton of money over a period of time. We keep paper towels around for emergencies. I think we bought (or someone gave us) some rolls before we got married and we still have them. Two, think about all the unnecessary trash created by paper towel waste.

  • Instead use rags, towels, microfiber clothes, and old t-shirts (just cut them up). Once they’re dirty just throw them in the wash.

All Purpose Cleaner

  • Mix one part water with one part vinegar. You can add a few drops of essential oil. Tea tree oil is an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and an antiseptic.

Bathroom Scrub

  • Mix baking soda with Dawn or another brand. This works great for cleaning the tub or tough spots on the countertops.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 washing soda
  • 1 bar of soap (ivory, anything cheap, or they also make a laundry soap called ZOTE or fels-naptha)

Grate bar of soap with fine cheese grater. Mix in borax and washing soda. That’s it!

To use: add 1-2 tbs of detergent to each load before putting in clothes to make sure it dissolves
Side note: if you want a finer texture you can run through the food processor or blender.

 Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

  • 2 cups Borax
  • 2 cups Washing soda
  • 4 packets of sugar free lemonade Kool-aid (or you can use citric acid)

Mix all ingredients together and keep in some kind of container. It could be a super cute old mason jar like mine 🙂 or just an empty detergent box you have.

To use: Place 1 Tbs in the pre-wash (open cup) and 1 Tbs in the main wash (closed cup). I found it to work better with one small squirt of Dawn or some other brand in the main wash

These are just some of the ways my husband and I save money by using homemade products! It is so simple and fun!

-Amy Knight, author of A Blossoming Life.

pie in mason jar.

She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household…vs. 15a

This recipe is called Last Minute Oh-My-Gosh We Have Visitors Banana Cream Pie. There are two reasons I LOVE this: Number 1: it is quick and easy. Number 2: it’s delicious and unique. Okay, that was actually like four reasons. Clearly, it’s quite a treat. Basically, it is just banana cream pie, in a mason jar. Brilliant? I’d say so.

So this is what’s up…

I modified the recipe slightly. So you may want to follow my directions versus the link above. Also, I fit the ingredients into 4 mason regular sized mason jars.


1. Whip together two boxes of banana pudding. (4 cups of milk) Let is set for 5 minutes at room temperature.

2. Melt butter in microwave (about 1/2 cups).

3. In bowl, combine 1 cup graham cracker crumbs and the butter. Please don’t use a spoon. Get your hands in there. It’s way more fun.

4. Take the soaking-wet-packed-together crust (graham cracker crumbs and butter) and spread them evenly into your mason jars. Pack em’ on the bottom of each jar.

5. Chop up some bananas and place them in the jars next.

6. Spoon the pudding on top of the bananas.

7. Pretend you work at dairy queen and make a beautiful whipped topping design on top.

8. Top with a banana slice. A small one so it won’t weigh down your topping creation.

Ta da!

This is a really quick and easy dessert, when you have unexpected guests. Or it’s midnight and your sweet tooth is talking.

* This is part of The Girl Creative link party.

* This is part of Cozy Home link party.

living an organized life part 5: in the kitchen.

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. vs. 27

As you know, I’m  kinda obsessed with having dinner parties and people over to my house. Quite a few posts ago, I talked about ways to make a gathering successful. You can check that out here. Well, Mr. Cook and I have made friends with the most hospitable couple I have ever met. And despite my tendencies to exaggerate, this is not one of those moments. They are constantly thinking of how to bless others. We wanted to bless them in return so we had them over for a big meal. I was feeling overwhelmed about the timing of the meal. In my head, I was worried about making sure everything came out at the right time, how to keep it all warm, and getting it all done before they got there. So I decided to tap into my organizational side and take charge of this meal like a real woman would.

Sorry, I feeling a little witty today. Forgive my attempt at humor.

Here’s a continual disclaimer for this blog series: I don’t expect everyone to enjoy organization the way I do; however, I would challenge you to try out some of these tips in your own life, make them work for you, and see how you feel at the end of the day.

So here’s some things that can be done to organize a big meal and make the cooking experience a success:

1. Make a list.

The list can look something like this (this is an example of the meal I prepared):

Fresh produce that needs to be cut:

tomatoes for salad, cucumber for salad, zuchinni, squash, potatoes for roasting, potatoes shaved for tilapia, onions for salmon patties, onions for veggie mix

Items that need to be cooked/prepared:

Salad- prep and chill first.

Dessert- prep and chill first. add toppings after dinner.

Salmon Patties- prep and chill 20 minutes. skillet 10 minutes.

Parmesan Potato Crusted Tilapia- prep 20 minutes. skillet 20 minutes.

Fresh Asparagus- steamer 20 minutes.

Zucchini, Squash, and Onions- skillet 15 minutes.

Roasted Potatoes- oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.

Crescent Roles-oven 450 for 13-15 minutes.

Texas Toast- brought by guest

Punch- brought by guest

2. Cut produce early.

It took me about an hour to cut all the produce needed for this meal. Which was nice because I actually find chopping veggies kind of therapeutic. But I am glad that I got a head start on it because whenever it came time to cook it, I just grabbed it from the refrigerator. It made the cooking process MUCH simpler.

3. Set the table early.

When I leave it for last, it’s always a disaster. All of the food is coming out of the oven, off of the skillet, etc..and then the last thing you have time for is to set the table all nice and fancy. So just do it before you start cooking. You will be thankful later.

4. Set out the serving bowls, utensils, etc early. 

I have a kitchen bar that I set all the food on whenever I have people over. Since I know that I will be needing a plate to put that hot fish on, I have it already I set it out on the bar early so it makes it easier during “crunch time.” Also, it’s good to have all the serving utensils out early because if you need that soup ladle that is currently dirty in the dishwasher, you know to wash it sooner….. rather than make your guests wait because they need something to serve their food with.

5. Do the already dirty dishes before the meal.

If there is a big load of dishes in your dishwasher, start it before the meal and put those dishes away. That way whenever you go to cook, you can put your just used dirty dishes in the dishwasher since it is now empty. Or in the sink, if you are an unfortunate one that lives with an dishwasher. (I did not have one for many years. And now that I have one, I feel like a spoiled kitchen brat).

6. Clean as you cook.

With big meals, this is almost a priority. If you are waiting on something to finish cooking, clean those dirty dishes you just made, put them in the dishwasher, wipe down the counter, put the boxes back in the pantry, give you kid a hug even…something productive.  I say this for two reasons: your house will look clean when your guests arrive & there is less for you to clean up later. And what else would you do with your time? Watch the timer on the oven slowly decrease? That’s too boring.

Tell me: What are some of the ways you stay organized in the kitchen?

the design of cooking.

Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. vs. 29

I’m attempting to enter into the world of gourmet cooking. Where it’s not just throwing something together for the sake of filling my belly but putting time and effort into make it a culinary creation. Now Kaleb and I have a new favorite meal. Salmon Croquettes. I found this simple, yet classy kinda recipe from Tasty Kitchen about a month ago and put it on my list of I-have-to-make-this-asap recipes. Well, it was a success! Mr. Cook enjoyed it just as much as I did. I’m hoping that whenever my last name matches his, I will have that Cook exquisite taste.

Here are the cast of characters for this meal…

You can find the detailed measurements and steps on the link above. But here’s how it works in lamen terms…

Chop an onion , saute it in butter, and add a clove or minced garlic…

Throw onion/garlic mix and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and get your hands dirty…

Form those salmon croquettes into patties (they are basically like crab cakes, but salmon). And let them chill for about 15 minutes in the refrigerator (important step!)

On medium high heat, cook them on the stovetop until they are nice and brown. Well, maybe more tan. Brown may be too burnt. Yeah, let’s go with tan. Add a few more bread crumbs to each side while tanning.

Then serve with other delicious sides like asparagus and rice…yum! Whenever you are preparing more of a fancy meal where you are putting special effort into the presentation of it, it’s important to put foods that go well together. Not just taste well together, but also look good together. Like they were made for one another.

I heard gourmet cooking defined as being an art where you consider balances between textures and colors that has a lasting, memorable effect on the time allotted to the eating experience. Keep in mind, this is like low grade “gourmet.” It was REALLY simple. However, I want to be able to make meals where I consider it an art… my time to create whatever I want for the certain occasion to make the people involved happy. Just like Steve Jobs who was obsessed with design and ran one of the most successful companies in the world. Appearance does make a difference.

living an organized life part 4: finances.

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. vs. 20

Student loans, rent, eating out, electric bills, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes thinking about finances makes my head spin. This is not my strong suit; however, I am really trying to learn more about budgeting, money-saving, and the like. Whenever your finances are in order, your life is often a lot less stressful. So a lot of these organizational tips are coming from other resources. I read a lot of blogs and articles about these topics, so I have run across a lot of helpful things along the way. Keep this in mind while reading this series on organization: I don’t expect everyone to enjoy organization the way I do; however, I would challenge you to try out some of these tips in your own life, make them work for you, and see how you feel at the end of the day.

Part 4: Keeping your finances organized

1. Read stories, testimonials, blogs, articles, books, etc about this topic.

This is simply a good starting point to help you get a good grip on money-saving ideas and how to keep your finances running smoothly.

2. Have a few people who are knowledgable and wise in this area keep you accountable.

Kaleb and I have learned from others. That’s what we do. I love it when other couples share their methods for keeping their house in order through organized finances.It’s good to take not only advice from others but have people in your life keeping you in check so you don’t spend more than you have.

3. Have a budget and stick to it.

Crown Financial Ministries is a great resource that has everything from budget calculators to home buying & selling calculators. You can find them here. I actually keep track of my budget in an excel sheet; however, these calculators helped me when I first started getting my finances in order.

4. “Pay” your bills at the first of the month.

What I mean “pay” them at the first of the month is write that check early or set that money aside, even if the bill is due at the end of the month. That way everything that HAS to be paid is “paid” or at least the money is allotted for. Then if necessary, you can cut back on entertainment or groceries if your funds get low because of added expenses that you didn’t except.

5. Save, save, save.

This is good for organization because when an emergency comes up, you have some back up cash. It’s really easy to say things like, “I will save money WHEN I make good money.” But truthfully, if you continue to put it off, then it probably won’t happen. I have noticed that as I get a higher paycheck in life, I tend to have more bills and obviously pay more tithes. Which means saving money still makes me cringe because I still live paycheck to paycheck. If you can’t save much a month, simply save change. My parents bought me a swing set when I was younger by their pocket change only. Also, it’s good to set your savings aside in another account so you don’t consider it as spendable money. Even if you can only put $20 a month in that account, over the course of a year that will be $240. Have a vision for what it can be, not how slow it seems to be going.

6. Utilize resources.

One of our wedding mentors told us about Mint. They use it and have said that it works quite well for them. I have yet to try it. Basically, it is an online resources that brings all of your financial accounts in one place and organizes your bills so you can the “big picture” with your money. Here’s a video that tells more about it. Another resource that a lot of banks offer is BillPay. It may be called a different name at your bank. With this, your bills can automatically be taken out of your account and sent to the company that the bill goes to. This saves money on postage and envelopes, and it also saves you time.

Overall, these seem like fairly basic tips. But it’s good to be thinking, “How can I improve my finances? What are way to help me be more organized?” Whenever your money is in order (even if there’s not a lot of it), there is a lot of freedom.

What are ways that help you keep your money organized?

free ebook: your dream wedding on a budget.

She considers a field and buys it…vs. 16a

Do we have any readers out there? What about kindle user wannabees? Well, I just learned about this money-saving tip for those of you who want to buy all different types of books but can’t afford them. Here’s the thing..there’s nothing better than having an old book in the library in your hand while sipping on some hot tea. I get that. However, if you want access to a lot of books for FREE or very inexpensive..this will interest you!

Ebooks. Now many of you may be saying…don’t you have to have a kindle or nook for that? If you have one, that’s great. But this offer still works for you if you don’t. Amazon has a kindle app for your PC! Download it here. By the way, when I downloaded it..they gave me Pride and Prejudice, Aesop’s Fables, and Treasure Island..for free. Just for downloading it onto my computer. Basically, Amazon has free ebooks. Now it’s important to jump on them quickly because they don’t always stay free for long. Even if you can’t find a free one at the moment you are looking, some of them are only $0.99 to $2.99. If you are an Amazon Prime member, there are even more free ebooks available to you.

The book that I just downloaded for free is called Your Dream Wedding on a Budget: 47 Cost-Cutting Secrets from America’s Favorite Wedding Planner. Click on it to download it. Remember as of Tuesday, January 31st at 7:00am it is free. Hopefully by the time you are reading this, it still is. So take advantage of it while you can! This book is really good for those of you who just got engaged (which I know a few of you readers who just got a ring!), and it gives you great saving money tips so you don’t break the bank for your big day.

So go download some books! And let me know what you find! If you find a book relevant to some of the topics of this blog, I will let my readers know the link and give you credit for it.

living an organized life part 3: your schedule.

Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. vs. 29

Life is sometimes a busy mess. Lately, I have been feeling that way about my life. I think it’s an art to be able to gracefully organize your schedule in a way that you accomplish all the things you need to do, want to do, and most importantly ….rest. What does that word mean again?

Also, I have learned that people really appreciate it whenever you say you are going to be somewhere at a certain time and place, and you are there. It’s good to be committed to even the small things in life. It says a lot about your character.

As mentioned before, I am hoping that this blog series will inspire, encourage, and challenge you. This is not intended to say, “Your way is wrong.” Or bring you guilt because your life isn’t very structured. As a disclaimer I continue to say: I don’t expect everyone to enjoy organization the way I do; however, I would challenge you to try out some of these tips in your own life, make them work for you, and see how you feel at the end of the day.

However, I hope that all of you can grow with me in this area because having an organized life liberates your mind from all the distractions of life and allows you to focus on the task at hand.

Part 3: Ways to be organized with your schedule.

1. Don’t schedule too much in one day.

This really takes practice. I still will put like 8 tasks to accomplish on one day..and I NEVER get them done. Don’t do this to yourself. Be reasonable and set healthy expectations for yourself.

2. Decide what task is most important and do that first.

If you do have a lot of things to accomplish, start with the most important first and work your way down. I tend to like to do the easiest or shortest first; however, at the end of the day, that paper due tomorrow never got typed. It helps to do the paper first, then the small things later (in case, you can’t get to those). It’s kinda like when you get laffy taffy and you save the banana for last because you like it the best. Get the paper out of the way, and then do your fun task that night.

3. Write it down and get it out of your head.

I even write things down like, “Call insert friend here.” That way, if I told someone I would call them tomorrow, I remember to do it, and I don’t have to think about it all day. I just remember it whenever I look at my planner. In order for this to work, it’s important to check your planner frequently.

4. If you are very busy, schedule in free time. And stick to it.

If your life is super busy and you just want a few hours to yourself, then make it a point to say something like, “Tuesday at 5pm free time.” And if someone wants you for something, you can say no. Don’t always feel like you have to accept every offer.

5. At the beginning of the week, take a look at your planner and see what your week looks like.

I like to look at my schedule on Sunday night. Then I have a good idea what to expect for that week. Then I’m not blind sided mid-week and think, “Gosh, I didn’t realize I had all of this stuff to do.” This helps me feel prepared for the week ahead.

6. Schedule things like work outs and time with friends.

If you are busy, you naturally want to use any free time that you get being alone or just chilling. While it is very important to give yourself that alone time, try to schedule in the things that you know are healthy for you: working out and spending time with others. This takes care of your physical needs, emotional needs, and even spiritual needs. We can feel the love of God through relationships with others who love Him, and we can grow together.  This is not limited to fitness and friendships. The point is that it’s good to make some of your other needs a priority rather than “if I have time.” Because we never really feel like we have time. And if you don’t schedule it, more than likely you won’t do it.

7. Take a Sabbath day.

Uh oh. I am in trouble with this one. I have yet to do this in my life. Not plan anything for one day and simply rest. Let’s work on doing this together.

living an organized life part 2: with school.

…let her works praise her in the gates. vs. 31b

Yesterday was the start of something new. A new series: living an organized life. Some of you cringe at the word while others smile with joy.. Either way I am hoping that this blog series will inspire, encourage, and challenge you. Organization is a lifestyle that produces much freedom when used properly. As I said yesterday as a disclaimer: I don’t expect everyone to enjoy organization the way I do; however, I would challenge you to try out some of these tips in your own life, make them work for you, and see how you feel at the end of the day.

I know many of my readers are students, so this one’s for you! Let’s talk about staying organized with school.

Part 2: Ways to be organized with school.

1.  Use a planner.

There’s no earthly way I would be able to keep track of everything without one of these. I have noticed a trend with planner users vs. planner refusers. The users often remember/have their assignments done more than the refusers. So don’t refuse, but use. Sorry…I am feeling a little too witty today. Forgive me.

2. Whenever you get your syllabus, actually read it and write down ALL of the assignments in your nifty planner.

Reading a syllabus is extremely important because some teachers slide discrete lines in their like, “Two unexcused absences means a lowered letter grade.” Since it is a contract, there is often no way around it because they say, “Well, it was in syllabus.” Then as far as assignments go, I like to write down in my planner the day before its due.  It looks something like this, “Policy- assignment 1 due tomorrow.” This tactic has worked well for me for many years. You don’t necessarily have to write it in a planner. A friend of mine has one whole sheet she writes them on. I find a planner nice because I not only write down homework in it but also household chores, events, and bills due in there as well. It’s helpful when “your life” is all in one place.

3. Don’t wait until the last minute.

I sound like a teacher don’t I? Sorry about that. I have just realized that doing something the night before stresses me out more than my cat dying, so it’s just better not to put yourself in that predicament. Too far? Well, you get the idea. I like to have the assignment done 3-7 days before. That is if your program is designed like mine where we basically know at the first day year what assignments are due for the whole semester.

4. Don’t clean your house whenever you should be doing homework.

Guilty. The epitome of procrastination: doing something else that needs to be done and feeling productive about it while never doing the task that is really supposed to be done in the first place. Okay………moving on now……my toes hurt.

5. Don’t stress out.

How does this help you stay organized? Well, whenever I am so stressed, that stress is a distraction and causes me to lose focus on the task at hand and forget things more easily. Just take one day at a time and let it flow.

What are ways that help you stay organized with school?