Saturday, January 26, 2013

Homemade Crescent Rolls

I have been trying to make a lot more items myself lately.  The lastest was Homemade Crescent Rolls.

They are more time consuming than the ones you buy in the tube but taste way better.

Review -An Amish Ktichen

An Amish Kitchen is a collection of 3 books by Beth Wiseman, Kelly long and Amy Clipston.  I have read several Amish books and these stories were as enjoyable as others I have read.  It is interesting to learn about how they deal with life and the struggles they have relating to others in the community.  There are some technological devices that they are allowed to use but some stand by the rules of not using any electricity.

The first two stories are about two couples who find love in the town of Paradise, Pennsylvania.  Each party has struggles and difficulties that they need to overcome before they can part of a relationship.

The third story is about teaching tolerance and acceptance among family members.

At the end of the book is a reading group discussion guide and a collection of 31 recipes.
I received a copy of this book from the BookSneeze Blogger Book Reviewer program from Thomas Nelson Publishers in return for this review.

Other books read in 2013

Review-Christmas in Apple Ridge

Christmas in Apple Ridge is a collection of three separate stories, The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing and The Dawn of Christmas.  I have read a number of books by Cindy Woodsmall and have enjoyed all of them.  She has a great talent of relaying the story in a way that it is interesting. 

I have read a number of Amish books and it is interesting to learn about their lives.  How they struggle with problems of their own and how others think of them.

The stories are set in Apple Ridge and even though they are three separate stories, the characters weave themselves into each of the stories.

I would recommend this collection and the rest of the books by Cindy Woodsmall.

I received a copy of the book as part of the Blogging for Books Program from WaterBrook Multomah Publishing Group.  I did not receive any other compensation in return for this review.

Other books read in 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

DIY Granola Bars

I found a recipe online this morning for No Bake Granola Bars.  I made a batch and they were great.

There are a lot of purchased items I don't care for the taste because of the preservatives so I have been trying to make more things at home.  When making your own items you know what ingredients are in them and can tailor them to your tastes. With these granola bars you can add baking chips and nuts to add variety to them. 

In some of the comments to the original post people used Sunbutter instead of the peanut butter and coconut oil instead of the butter.

They cost about half of buying granola bars.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saving on Fitness DVDs

One of the New Year’s resolutions for many people is exercise and weight loss.  Some people prefer the accountability and support of a fitness club.  However, if you prefer to work out at home there are several DVDs available from a variety of exercises and difficulty levels.

If you want to try exercise programs before purchasing them, there are a couple of ways to try them without needing to purchase them.  Many public libraries have a selection of workout DVDs.  Another option is to check out YouTube.   A couple of weeks ago I checked out a Jillian Michaels YogaMeltdown DVD.  At our local library DVDs can be checked out for one week.  If there is not another request for it, you may be able to renew it for an additional week.

I also found this DVD and others on YouTube.  Also, on YouTube I found a segment on a 3 mile walk in 45 minutes at home.  It consists of a variety of simple steps that you can do in your home and walk 3 miles.  It is especially helpful for our climate where it is difficult to walk outside during the winter.  I have completed the session the past two days.  There is also a 30 minutes version which is  2 miles.

These are a couple of ways to try DVDs before purchasing them or to have a variety of workouts without the expense and clutter of extra DVDs.

Review of An Angel by Her Side

An Angel by Her Side by Ruth Reid is the third book of the A Heaven on Earth series.  Even though it is a series, the books can be read alone and you can still relate to the story.  This is the second book of the series I have read.  You can relate to the characters and the story even if you haven’t read the other books in the series.

One of the main characters is Katie Bender, an Amish woman who lost her fiancée in a sudden accident.  She had given on the thought of getting married but has found a love for teaching. 

The other main character is Seth who has recently returned to Hope Falls to assist his brother in-law who has recently lost his wife. 

Katie’s fiancée drowned in a river, so she has kept her distance from the river in the months since he died.  Seth is also running from past circumstances in his life. 

Katie and Seth meet when they are waiting in a root cellar during a tornado with Katie’s students. 

While rebuilding the damaged buildings and other circumstances they fall in love and they both learn to let another person into their lives.

It was an interesting read and the story keeps you wanting to read more.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of the BookSneeze book review program.  I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

Other books read in 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Smart Ways to Spend an extra $20 or $100

If you find an extra $20 or $100 it may be tempting to hit the mall or restaurant.  Check out the recent articles I wrote about Smart Ways to Spend $20 or $100.

2% Paycheck Decrease

As you are receiving your first paycheck of 2013, the amount may be less than you expected.  In 2011 and 2012 the Social Security payroll taxes were reduced from 6.2% to 4.2%.  That reduction expired on December 31, 2012. 

Here is a post from Dave Ramsey's blog about what the decrease may mean for you.  On a salary of $50,000 that is an annual decrease of $1,000 a year or about $40 every two weeks.

$40 may not seem like a lot of money but if you are stretching yourself thin already, that $40 can make a difference.  That is why it is important to live on a budget of what you have coming in and going out.  If you had figured your budget with the income you have been receiving it is important to rework the budget to reflect the decrease in pay.

It will be beneficial to start living within the budget of what you are actually bringing in, instead of thinking you will eventually catch up.  The longer you live beyond your means the more debt you may find yourself in.

It may seem like a decrease in pay, but you probably have been getting more in your checks the past two years than you would have if the payroll taxes had not been reduced.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Is a CSA Right for You

We all know it is important to eat more fruits and vegetables but in our busy lives it can be difficult to fit them into our diets.  With the prices of many things increasing some people are starting to grow their own vegetables.  If you don’t have the time or inclination to grow your own, there are other options.

Many areas have farmers markets that offer vegetables that are grown locally.  Another option I discovered a couple of years ago is a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA).  CSAs offer weekly vegetable boxes throughout the summer or maybe longer into the season depending on where you live.  I have been a member of Bluebird Gardens by Fergus Falls for the past two years and have signed up again for this year.  They deliver the boxes to the Fargo/Moorhead area and other areas weekly.  You will receive 20 weekly boxes from June thru October.  The fees are either invoiced or payments for 5 months.  There are various options of Family Share, Single Share and this year they have a couple of other options that are every other week.  I get the Single share which is supposed to be vegetables for two people.

Along with the weekly boxes you also receive a certain number of tickets (depending on your membership) for harvest events where you can go to the farm and pick a certain amount of items.  With the extra vegetables I was able to pick last year and freeze, I didn’t need to buy canned or frozen vegetables during the winter.  My single share of vegetables breaks down to about $20/week for 5 months of payments (including the extra produce I was able to pick). 

Some pros of the CSA are:
• A variety of vegetables that in many cases cost less than buying at a farmers market or grocery store
• The chance to try items that you have not tried before and would probably not have purchased.
• Opportunity to purchase produce locally grown and support local farmers.
• You may get your children to try different vegetables if they are offered.

Some things to consider before joining a CSA:
• Willingness to try new produce items and the chance of spoilage or throwing items that you may not like or use.
• In order to use the produce before they spoil you need to cook quite regularly.  If you eat out quite often it may not be worth the money of investing in a CSA.

So if you are searching for a source of locally grown produce, do some research and see if there is a CSA offered in your area.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Using up Leftovers

You may save leftovers from meals, but how often do they end up being thrown away instead of being used.  One way to use them is if you can think of another way to use them instead of the same as the original meal.  Many meats such as chicken and roast can be used in various ways throughout the week.  Some meals that can be frozen could be packaged in individual serving sizes and frozen for upcoming lunches or suppers.

Some families have a smorgasbord night, where all of the leftovers are set out and each person can eat what they want of the items.

Jessica from is hosting a Pantry Challenge throughout the month of January.  In some challenges people try not to do any grocery shopping, in this challenge she is buying things they run out of such as dairy, produce and other items to fill in with the items she already has to make meals.  The concept of the pantry challenge is to try to make meals with ingredients you already have to clean out your fridge, freezer and pantry.

Over the past week, along with other ingredients, three ingredients I have used in several meals in different ways are black olives, portabella mushrooms and mini peppers.  Using these three ingredients in the past week I have made.

Mini pizzas with English muffins as the crust
Lettuce salad on most days
Grilled cheese sandwich with the olives, mushrooms and peppers

I also had a jar of salsa in my fridge to use up.  I used it to make Spanish rice and tortilla soup.

There are websites, such as that you can enter ingredients that you have on hand and it will list recipes containing those ingredients.

With a little planning, leftovers may be able to be used for meals instead of being thrown away.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

52 Books in 52 Weeks

As part of the 52 Week Challenges I have recently written about one that I am participating in is Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks

Each week I will be updating this post with the latest book I have read.

Week 1 The Sins of the Mother by Danielle Steel
Thor Ramsey's Total Money Meltdown

Week 2
Legacy, by Danielle Steel
All The Money in the World
When It Happens to You
A Gift of Hope by Danielle Steel  It is a quick read (I read it in about an hour) of her story of attempting to help the homeless in San Francisco.  She and a group of friends make monthly trips handing out jackets, sleeping bags, socks, gloves and other items.  Over the years they have expanded to other items.

Week 3
The Missing Semester
What the Most Successful People do On the Weekends
An Angel by Her Side

Week 4
Christmas in Apple Ridge
An Amish Kitchen
The Beiginning

Week 5
Code Blue
20,000 Days and Counting

Week 6
The Bridge

Week 7
Your Millionaire Attitude
Coconut Oil

Week 8
It Starts With Food

Week 9
Low Pressure by Sandra Brown

Week 10
Grow it, Build It, Save It  How one family saves over $11,000 each year and you can too
Early to Rise Leran to Rise Early in 30 days

Week 11
Meryl Streep Movie Club

Week 12
Land of the Blind

Week 13
Charley's Web

Week 14
Mrs. Kennedy and Me

Week 15

Week 16
The Chance by Karen Kingsbury
The Four Week Financial Turnaround

Week 17
Platform: How to Get Noticed in a Noisy World
Black Wave

Week 18
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
Making Good Habits Breaking Bad Habits by Joyce Meyer
Home Front

Week 19
Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
The 7 Mindsets to an Ultimate Life

Week 20
Get it Rich

Week 21
Daughter of the Loom

Week 22
The Seasons of Henry's Farm

Week 23
The Ultimate Gift
The Ultimate Journey

Week 24
Fred 2 New Ideas on How to Keep Delivering Extraordinary Results
Happy Money
More or less

Week 25
The Plateau Effect
Life Without Limits

Week 26
Leaving Lancaster
Is College Worth it?

Week 27
The Calling of Emily Evans

Week 28
Deal with Your Debt

Week 29
Whale Done: The Power of Positive Relationships
The Winnowing Season by Cindy Woodsmall
Sound of Wild Snail Eating

Week 30
Dandelions on the Wind by Mona Hodgson
The Half-stitched Amish quilting Club

Week 31
Bending Toward the Sun by Mona Hodgson
Nancy's Theory of Style

Week 32
The In-Between

Week 33
Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World

Week 34
Still Lolo
Ripples Along the Shore

Week 35
The Other Side of the Ice
How to Pray for a Financial Miracle

Week 36
Alaska Bound

Week 37
God has a Plan for Your Life by Charles Stanley

Week 38
Money: A Love Story

Week 39
Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist
Grow a Pair

Week 40
The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs

Week 41
Gratitude and Beyond

Week 42
Dakota Blues

Week 43
Dying to be Me

Week 44
Orphan Train

Week 45
Debt Proof Christmas
Start. By Jon Acuff

Week 46
Trust Works

Week 47
Sycamore Row  by John Grisham

Week 48
The Christmas Basket by Debbie Macomber
Week 49
Letters to my Wife

Week 50
Letters to my Friends

Week 51
Tarnished Silver

Week 52
Pure Joy: The Dogs We Love bt Danielle Steel

Review of The Sins of the Mother

I have read most of Danielle Steel’s books over several years and the last being The Sins of the Mother by Danielle Steel.  I really enjoyed the book and ended up reading it in a few days.  It was difficult to put down each night.

The main character, Olivia, has spend the past 50 years building a single hardware store into a business with locations all over the world.  In return, her husband and mother ended up raising their four children while she was busy traveling and running the business.

Now that her children are grown and she has grandchildren, she realizes what she missed by not being around when they were younger.  She tries to make up for the past by spending time with them and taking them all on an extravagant annual trip.

Along with dealing with her past, the story also includes current problems that each of her children are dealing with.

I would recommend the book if you are a Danielle Steel fan or want to become one.  I just started another of her books and looking forward to the book that is just coming out..

One Week at a Time

I wrote a recent post about putting money aside each week for a year.  Another version that I saw was instead of starting with $1 the first week, was to start with $52 and go down with the amounts each week.  With this idea you have smaller amounts to save at the end of the year where you may have larger expenses with the holidays.

After posting this, I was thinking this idea could be used with various areas of your life along with finances.  With it being the first of the year, most of us are thinking of aspects of our lives that we want to change.  One of the easiest ways to accomplish larger goals is to break them down into smaller pieces.  By taking one step a week may make it easier to accomplish some of the changes you want in your life.

If you search online you can find ideas or challenges pertaining to various topics such as organizing, reading challenges, cooking, photography, etc.  There are blogs that feature challenges such as reading a book a week for 52 weeks or trying a new recipe or food each week.

Friday, January 4, 2013

52 Week Saving Plan

I recently wrote this post about a 52 week saving plan, I saw on Facebook.  It shows that by putting away a small amount each week can add up to a considerable amount of money in a year's time.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Paying Towards Princiapl of Mortgage

During a recent conversation I mentioned that this summer it will be 10 years since I purchased my home.  Her reply was that I only had 20 years left to pay it off.  Actually, my goal is to have it paid off in another six years or so. 

Over the first years of your mortgage, a majority of your monthly payments is interest.  To save money on the interest and pay off your home early is to  try to put money towards the principal at the beginning of your mortgage and pay extra along the way as you can.  I was fortunate to be able to put a considerable amount towards the principal during the first years of my mortgage and over the years.

When you have a 30 year mortgage and make payments for the entire 30 years you may pay twice the original price of your home when including the interest you pay.

Paying off your mortgage early is one of the “7 Baby Steps” in Dave Ramsey’s book,  
TheTotal Money Makeover.  Before paying more towards your mortgage, it is important to have your other debts paid off, an emergency fund, retirement savings and college savings for your children.

Also included in the book are stories of people saving money and being able to purchase their homes with cash.  Crystal from and her husband were able to purchase their first home with cash and recently purchased a rental property with cash.

A home mortgage in many cases is considered good debt, however in recent years many people may have purchased more home than they could afford or the values of their home dropped and now owe more on their home than it is worth.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Custom College Guide

DaveRamsey has a new product for students that are planning on attending college.  The Custom College Guide will show you how to go to college debt free. 

The Custom College guide is personalized with information specific to your situation.  You provide information about your current situation and up to six schools you are interested in.  Your College Guide will include financial aid information and will compare the total cost of each school.

The cost of the Custom College Guide is $159.99, as part of the fee they also provide professional FAFSA preparation, filing and support.  It will save you the time and hassle of completing the forms yourself. 

It will also have information about the different types of financial aid and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

30 Day Spending Challenge

Another way people have used to lower their spending is going on a “no spend” period.  Usually for a month they try not to spend any money except for necessities.

America Saves and SaveUp have teamed up for SavingsChallenge.

One of the top New Year’s resolutions is to save more and stick to a budget.  Research shows if you can change your behavior for 30 days you are likely to stick to your goals.

To participate in the challenge you choose any credit card and commit to 30 days of no spending on that card.

By being your more conscious of your spending you may be able to save money by maybe cutting some of your usual spending.  Some people see how many days they can go without spending any money.

Even if you don’t wish to participate in the 30 day challenge, start with a week.  Consider if there are expenses that could be cut down on or cut out completely.  A few dollars here and there may not seem like a big deal but they can add up over time.    

As with dieting, don’t restrict yourself too much.  If you feel too deprived you may get frustrated and give up.