Weekend Links – Laying around with a cold edition

I got hit with a terrible cold last Sunday and Monday.  Thankfully, that fell on our fall break from school so I had the luxury of laying around and doing nothing.  In between napping and taking cold medicine, here are a few things I watched/read/used.

 

Binge Blog Reading

I like to binge read blogs that are not part of my normal list. This time I read through a lot of Life in Grace. I met Edie at the Becoming Conference in August, when my friend and I crashed her breakfast table. She’s just as kind in person as she is on her blog.

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I love the concept of her workroom. It’s the spot where laundry, books, studies, crafting all come together. I crave a more minimalist space, but still…the books, the color, the idea of mundane work and creative work happening in the same space is very appealing.

And this description of an ordinary homeschool day is perfect.  Our homeschool has never quite looked like that, but the image is a lovely one.

I always love to hear about the books that influence so deeply.  Edie shares some of hers here.

 

Binge TV Watching

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I started watching Gilmore Girls and I’m really liking it. It’s like a “comfort food” show – a little humor, a little drama, fun characters. It’s on Netflix instant watch now.

Cold Comfort

I used a lot of Vick’s Vapor Rub, but I wish I had some of these made up too.

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Steamy showers are wonderful when you’ve got a cold, but some of these homemade Natural Vapor Shower Discs would make it even better.

 

Feed a Cold

Jim brought me a bowl of chicken pho from the local Vietnamese restaurant. It tasted so good! But what I was really craving was a bowl of Virus Killing Chicken Soup. My daughter made some the week before and still had a few bowls in her freezer. I thought about buying some from her.

virus killing soup done

 

*note to self – update the photos in that post.

This soup is the best chicken soup you’ve ever had.  It smells amazing while it cooks and with every bite you can feel that it’s battling the cold virus.  It is a bit of a process to make.  So having it in the freezer, ready to go is a great idea.

What are your favorite comforts when a cold strikes?

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Weekend Links

Sometimes I use these weekend links posts to talk about things other than food.  But this week, it’s all food, all the time!

I was interviewed by RealSimple.com this week on the 10 Secrets of Home Cooks (and how you can become one too).

 

 

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My friend, Lynn wrote a post on 40 Easy Ground Beef Recipes.  She followed that up with a discussion on the price of beef in different parts of the country.  I was surprised to see the wide range of prices.  We’re on the high end where I live.  What about you?

Cinnamon-Roll-Casserole

 

As I was browsing Pinterest the other night, I kept seeing this recipe for Crockpot Cinnamon Roll Casserole.  It looks fabulous!

Speaking of Pinterest, you can follow me there.  But I also have a question – Has your Pinterest feed turned into all one topic?  Mine is all food.  I’m wondering if others have seen the same thing.  Or maybe you all are more well balanced than me :)

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Weekend Links, Books and More – October 4

On Saturdays I give myself permission to share things other than food.  These are just things that caught my attention for one reason or another over the past week.  Maybe you’ll find some of this interesting too.

I’d love to have you share what you’ve been reading/thinking about/finding interesting.

For some reason, last night I decided to do a google search for candles that smell like books.  That led me to find Frost Beard Studio on Etsy.

Oh my!  What a fun place for a book lover to browse!  They’ve got candles and wax melts in all kinds of original scents inspired by books (and a few TV shows and movies).

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I bought wax tarts in Bookstore scent.  It promises to smell like, “Timber, driftwood, hazelnut cappuccino and a hint of leather”.

I also bought Oxford Library - Oakmoss, amber, sandalwood, with hints of tobacco and leather! A customer described Oxford Library as smelling like a “Freshly showered Sherlock Holmes.” 

I would love to buy The Cliffs of Insanity!  And I’m completely intrigued by Sassenach - Inspired by Claire’s herb collection in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series: lavender, thyme, basil and other herbs. Transport yourself to the Scottish Highlands with this therapeutic and invigorating scent.

A trip to Scotland is on my bucket list.  I’ve been thinking about picking up the Outlander series to read, since it takes place there.  Then I saw where Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy has started reading them and is loving them.  When I found this scented candle based on the books, I ordered a paperback copy of the first Outlander novel from Amazon.  (I’m waiting to order the candle until I finish the book.)

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Have you read the Outlander series?  What did you think of it?

I’m absolutely determined to finish the book I’m currently reading before Outlander gets here.  I’m about 75% of the way through A Woman’s Place by Lynn Austin.

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I’m enjoying it, but I’m the slowest reader ever.  And I haven’t been making time to really dive in either.  This weekend though, I’m finishing it.  For sure.

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Did you see my stand up desk hack on Instagram?  I got home on Thursday afternoon, after picking up my daughter and I could not face sitting down at my desk.  All that driving equals too much sitting.

I used to keep my computer on the kitchen counter and blogged from there.  I work more now than I used to though, so I’ve moved to a desk.  I like standing to work though.

I did a little searching for some way to convert my desk to a stand up desk.  Preferably something that I can take off easily when I want to sit down.  I think I’m going to try making this $22 version.  It will require a trip to Ikea, but I’m okay with that ;)

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The shopping list for the Fall Style Me Pretty Challenge came out yesterday.  There’s still time to register though.  Alison is giving us 10 days to do the shopping before she starts sending out the emails with outfit ideas.

The Facebook group is hopping with talk of clothes and deals and sales.  I was surprised to find that I have a lot of things already in my closet.  I also need to buy some things.  All of my old shirts from last year have those little holes in the front.  Do your shirts do that?

What have you been reading and discovering this week?

This post contains affiliate links.
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Fun movie, fall clothes and podcasts – Saturday Stuff

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Jim and I went on a date night a couple of weeks ago and saw The Hundred Foot Journey.  It’s a fun foodie movie.  We enjoyed it.  It reminded me of some of the independent films we’ve watched on Netflix.  It also made me want to go to France.  Be sure to have Indian food either before or after.  Or during, if you wait and catch it on video in a few months.

 

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Back in the spring, I stumbled on the site, Get Your Pretty On.  Alison was launching her first 21 Day Fashion Challenge.  I signed up on a whim and I’m so glad I did!  I’ve since done her summer challenge and I’m signed up for the fall one too.

Alison sends a shopping list of items and follows that up with 21 days of outfit ideas that combine those items.

It’s like the Weekly Meal Plans and grocery lists for clothes!  Since I hate to shop, this is perfect for me.  There are options for every price range.  Lots of people even hit up thrift stores for various finds, as well as sharing sale prices (the private Facebook group for these challenges are wonderful!).

Want to join me?  Click here to register.  Regular registration is open through Oct. 2 and the shopping list comes out on Oct. 3. The outfit ideas will be sent each day Oct. 12 – Nov. 1.  It’s going to be a lot of fun!  I love having the outfits planned out for me, with ideas that I can rotate through the rest of the season.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time in the car driving lately.  Our new school routine involves classes that the kids take two days a week. Except they each go on opposite days, so that means I’m driving four days a week.  Two 80-90 minute round trips each day.  Yes, that’s about 2 1/2 – 3 hours in the car each day.

To pass the time, I listen to podcasts.  I like a few business type ones, but that can get old after a while.  Lately, I’ve been bingeing on The Joy the Baker Podcast.    It’s like chatting with old friends.  Except I don’t know these ladies and I’m not chatting, just listening. But it passes the time and it’s entertaining.

I’d love to find some more good podcasts to listen to.  If you’ve got recommendations, let me know!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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3 Things That Worked in the Kitchen This Week – September 15

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1.  I created a new 15 minute meal – BBQ Chicken Nachos

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I can’t wait to share this recipe with you! And if I get my act together, that will be tomorrow.  You have got to make these!  I know you have time, because they only take 15 minutes.

I posted that photo to Instagram and Facebook and it had people drooling.

2.  Healthy snack alternative – 1 Minute Apples

I’ve been in a terrible habit (not sure if I can really call it a habit since I’ve been doing it all my life!) of eating a sweet snack every night.  Often it’s ice cream.  Have I mentioned I love ice cream?

I also have a son who loves to bake and has a sweet tooth as big as mine.  Lately he’s been baking brownies or chocolate chip cookies nearly every night.  One night (and only one night, so far) I decided I should have something a little bit healthier.  I made a bowl of 1 Minutes Apples and sprinkled a bit of granola over the top.  Instant apple crisp in a single serving!

I skipped the ice cream and went for a spoon of vanilla yogurt on top of the apples instead.

3.  Slow Cooker Freezer Meal to the rescue – Chicken Curry Soup

Wednesday was an extra busy day and I also knew that we wouldn’t all be home for dinner at the same time.  But we would all be eating at home at some point.  On days like that, I like to serve something that will hold over well and doesn’t need a lot of sides to go with it.

Easy Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Curry Soup

Soup usually fits really well for those occasions.  I had a bowl of Thai Chicken Curry Soup in the freezer from my last freezer cooking session.  It took care of dinner that night and several lunches over the next few days too.

200 lp12 slow cooker freezer meal plans

 

You can still save $2 through tomorrow 9/16 on the 12 Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plans.  Just use the code FALLFREEZE.

What’s working in the kitchen this week for you?

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Weekend Links

I enjoy sharing some of the non-food things I come across during a week. Books and links and the like. It’s a nice change from writing about food all the time. As much as I love food, I enjoy other things too.

Last week I heard from a reader who said I should stick to the topic. And maybe I should, but I’m not going to ;) I enjoy having the freedom to explore and share other things of interest. I hope you enjoy it too. If not, come Mondays we’ll be back to food.

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Last weekend we had the chance to walk through a home for sale in our area.  We drive past this beautiful place a few times each week.  Mia and I especially love looking at houses, so when we saw this one would be open on Sunday we were excited!

It was built in the 1950s and sits on about 7 acres, surrounded by horse farms.  It’s that perfect blend of being close to the city and everything you need to do in a week and still feeling like you’re way out in the country.

And the kitchen!  A food blogger’s dream!

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There’s plenty of counter space.  Double ovens.  A walk-in pantry (still not as cool as my pantry though).  A small office area, which you can see on the right hand side of the photo.  But most importantly, this kitchen has a ton of natural light due to the skylights above the island.  And there’s also a sliding glass door on the opposite side of the island.

The house is completely empty right now.  And since it’s listed at $895,000 it won’t be us who move in!  We loved getting to see it though.  You can find more info and photos by clicking here.

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We watched Moms’ Night Out last weekend.  Even the kids thought it was funny.  Definitely worth watching.  Plus, the guy who made the movie was a homeschooler.  I love stories like his. <—Watch this, especially if you’re a homeschool mom who could use some encouragement.

 200 lp12 slow cooker freezer meal plans

 

You can still save $2 through 9/16 on the 12 Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plans.  Just use the code FALLFREEZE.

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Weekend Links

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I watched this documentary on Netflix the other day.  It’s about a 14 year old Laura Dekker who sailed around the world by herself.  She finished her trip when she was 16.  Laura and her parents had to battle the court system in Holland in order for her to make the trip.

The documentary is really interesting, although I wish it would have told more about how sailing worked.  There wasn’t too much about the details of how she navigated and sailed.  One small note, Laura Dekker is not just a sailor, but she also has a sailor’s mouth.  The bad language isn’t too pervasive, but it is there.

I’m intrigued with the idea of sailing now.  I’d love to give it a try, with someone who knows what they’re doing, of course!

This post by Seth Godin is thought provoking.  And I love how he talks about the true purpose of education in this Ted Talk.

Tsh Oxenreider and her family are about to embark on an around the world adventure.  When Meredith was much younger, she and I would dream about doing an around the world trip.  We’d play around with planning, deciding which direction to head first and what countries to visit.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Meredith actually makes a trip like that one day.

I loved this post where Tsh shares how they will be world schooling.

This week I discovered CNN Student News from a link on Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers blog.  CNN Student News is designed for middle and high school students.  Each segment is 10 minutes long and gives a good overview of what’s happening in the world.  I like it, because it isn’t overwhelming and they explain the back story where necessary.  Most world news sources assume you already understand all the issues.

I hope you have a great weekend!

 

 

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Recent Reads and Wondering if My Book Quitting Habit is Linked to Reading Digital Copies

I just finished the book, Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.  The book gets compared to To Kill a Mockingbird, The Help and The Notebook.

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I really enjoyed this book.  And while it does bring to mind some of the books mentioned above, I wouldn’t put it in the same category.  It’s definitely a good read though, and if you like this genre of fiction I think you’ll like Calling Me Home too.

This week on the blog, one of the most clicked recipes has been Chicken and Dumplings.  Which makes me think of Crisco, since some people use Crisco to make dumplings.  And that makes me think of the wonderful Crisco scene in The Help.  I may need to watch this movie again soon!

I’ve mentioned The Noticer by Andy Andrews before.  I decided to start our school year off by reading The Noticer aloud to the kids.  I think there is a kid version of this book, but since my kids are older* and since I own this version, this is what we read.  They really liked this book.  We had a lot of good discussions prompted by the story.

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I’m planning to read The Noticer Returns later in the year, as well as The Traveler’s Gift, which is also by Andy Andrews.  I highly recommend all of these books.

*{Yes, I read out loud to my kids, even when they’re in high school.  And yes, they read for themselves as well.  One benefit is being able to stop to discuss things as we go.  There are other benefits too, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.}

Insight into my book quitting habit

I’ve shared before that I have a bad habit of quitting books part way through.  I’m a slow reader and if the book starts to drag or get long or I get distracted I will just quit reading it.  This is something I’m finding frustrating about myself.

Recently I gave up on The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.  I’d been reading it in my Scrib’d account, but decided to cancel the account.  I’d already put the book aside by then anyway, but I’m not sure why.  I was enjoying it.  Even now I remember where I left off in the story.

I do have a suspicion though – I read on my Kindle a lot, especially using the app on my phone.  It’s just so handy.  But I also think it makes it easy to quit the book.  In contrast, I read a paperback version of Calling Me Home.  I did get to  a point in that book where I felt like giving up, but I could see that I was half way through.  So I kept reading and finished the book.

The Kindle also lets you know how far you’ve read in a book, but that doesn’t have the same impact for me as seeing the physical pages before and after my bookmark.

Maybe I really need to be reading paper books instead of digital.  But I do love my Kindle too!  It’s easy to hold.  I can carry a whole library with me.  The books download instantly.

So, I’m conflicted.

Has anyone else experienced this problem of quitting books more often if you’re reading digitally?

 

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Give up on perfect and embrace good enough for weeknight dinners

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I know that picture is weird.  The cauliflower looks blue in places.  But I’m embracing the imperfect with this post and encouraging you to do the same.

That photo shows how I cut cauliflower quickly for a side dish to go with a weeknight meal.  It takes all of 1 minute to cut up the head and have the veggies in the pan cooking.

In an ideal world, we would all have time for elaborate dinner prep.  We’d make our time in the kitchen unhurried.  Sometimes those slow evenings happen and it’s wonderful when it does.

But many nights dinner prep happens fast and furious, either coming at the tail end of a long day or squeezed in between activities.

I’d much rather get the cooking done fast, even if it means it’s not perfect.  I want to have a nutritious meal with my family, preferably with plenty of time around the table to eat together.  And I’m willing to sacrifice the “right” way to do things for just getting it done.

As part of the 15 Minute Meal series, I’ll be sharing quick cooking tips with you.  This week though, instead of a tip, I wanted to share this perspective:

Dinner doesn’t have to be perfect or elaborate.  A simple meal with your family is a weeknight gift.  Enjoy it!

Whether your having pot roast or grilled cheese sandwiches, the important thing is that you’re having dinner together.

One more note:

Sometimes it’s hard to get everyone together.  Once kids grow into the teen years, they are busy with work and activities.  Just as dinner doesn’t have to be perfect, not everyone has to be home for it to count as a family dinner.

At our table, sometimes we’ve got 7 people for dinner.  And sometimes it’s just two of us.  Either way, we still make it a habit to sit down together with whoever may be home.  Whenever family members are gathered at the table – no matter how few or how many- it still counts as a family dinner.

 

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3 Things that Work in the Kitchen this Week – August 25

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

Chicken Party

Meredith and I have been having semi-regular chicken parties recently.  What’s a chicken party, you ask?

We hit up Costco and buy 4-5 chickens.  Then we bring them home and take the meat off the bones, pack it in zip top bags and stick it in the freezer.  This is one of my favorite quick cooking tips.

I used to cook chicken for stashing away, but since Costco is so close to us now I usually just buy theirs.  At $5 for a large rotisserie chicken, it’s hard to beat.

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Sometimes I buy the white meat that’s already packaged.  I then repackage that into 2-3 separate zip top bags.  Honestly, I think the taste is better when I use their whole chickens.  Maybe it’s because that also includes the dark meat.  And it’s a bit cheaper to use the whole chickens too.

We often drag other people into our chicken party.  Both Jim and Mia are great at picking the meat from the bones.  More people make for a better party ;)

One thing we haven’t tried yet is making broth from the bones.  I know this is easy and good and I have no excuse for avoiding it.  If you make broth this way, tell me about it in the comments.

Here’s a post I wrote on how to use and freeze the meat from a Costco chicken.

Picnic for the soccer game

Isaac had a soccer game in Louisville one night.  Instead of grabbing dinner at a fast food place, which would have taken more time (we were late to the game anyway!), I made a Pasta Salad.

This is one of my go-to game night meals.  I can fix it ahead of time and mix in either rotisserie or grilled chicken.  And the pasta salad recipe is so adaptable.  This time I used a little broccoli, carrots, a large tomato instead of the cherry tomatoes I usually use.  I was out of bow tie pasta, so I used shells instead.

We did stop at Culver’s after the game for frozen custard though!

New giant skillet

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I’ve been needing a large skillet for a long time.  My daughter had gotten one in a Christmas gift exchange a couple of years ago.  She kept it in her room, waiting and ready for when she was married, but I borrowed it several times.  Well, now she’s gone and she took her skillet with her!

I found this one on sale at Amazon the other day for just $18.65.  It’s a 5 quart skillet with non-stick coating.  Perfect for lots of things, including a big pan of Migas.  I don’t know how long it will be on sale, but I couldn’t resist snatching it up at that price.

What’s been working for you in the kitchen this week?

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