Friday Finds 9/18

Well, I have been telling myself for a while now that I really need to start blogging on a consistent basis again. But that hasn’t been working out to well for me.  Actually I have several posts in draft mode, I just never got around to publishing them.  So I figured what better way to get back in the swing of things than doing a fun and easy post! So here is the new installment of Friday Finds- where I bring to you free and cheap, but mostly free, stuff I have found on the internet! Enjoy! And just remember that freebies can disappear or change in a heartbeat, so if they are no longer available I am sorry!

Books- *I have not read all of these books so I can not vouch for them personally.  Also remember that books on Amazon can change price without warning, so double check the price before clicking to buy and grab the free ones while you can!

The Place of Voices– Deep in a remote jungle, amid long-forgotten ancient ruins, three unlikely time travelers collide. In the shadows, a relentless evil presence lurks, threatening to lead them astray. Will they triumph over their adversary or be trapped in his web of lies? Sometimes it takes a journey through time to learn the true meaning of sacrifice.

Summer’s Fury– Meet Summer Percy she lost the only family she had, no work to be found for her in Pennsylvania and her meager savings is almost finished.

Thicker Than Blood– Two estranged sisters, one a rare book dealer, the other a cattle rancher, meet again after fifteen years. *I have read this book and enjoyed! So did the other members of my book club.

When The Smoke Clears– After a brush with death due to equipment failure, smokejumper Alexia Allen is ordered to take time off while the incident is under investigation. She makes a last-minute decision to recuperate at her mother’s home and attend her high school reunion. Yet trouble seems to be following her, and within hours of arriving home she is confronted with murder, arson–and a handsome detective.

Who Murdered Mister Malone– Nothing exciting ever happens in the small town of Belhaven, Michigan. Nothing that is, until a body was found in the woods behind the local elementary school. With the entire town in an uproar, “Garden Girl” Gloria Rutherford makes it her personal mission to find the killer or killers and solve the mystery with some help from her friends. *I also read this book with my book club and enjoyed it.

Printables/Crafts

Christmas Planner– now is the time to start planning and organizing the upcoming holiday! I know it seems early but really it will be here before you know it!

Turkey- Free pattern for you to color, print or stitch! Create a cute colored printable or print in b&w and let your kids color their own turkey! Or you can print it out and then use embroidery floss and stitch a cute little turkey on fabric to frame or turn into a pillow! So many options!

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Water Color Turkey Printable
Turkey Coloring Page
Turkey Free Stitchable

Food/Recipes

Pumpkin Butter

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I LOVE pumpkin! It is my favorite season! I know that is a well used joke but it is so true. Fall really is my favorite season- the cool weather, changing leaves, the smells and of course pumpkin everything! I tried pumpkin butter for the first time last week and loved it but didn’t want to pay the price the little store was asking! So glad I found this recipe and it cooks in your crock pot, so thats a win-win! She even has free labels you can print if you want to give it as a gift!

Menu Planning

Here are some of my menu plans.  As you will notice by the pictures, i went from a monthly plan all on one page to a 2 week plan on a page.  I still plan for a month at a time usually but occasionally I will only do 2 weeks.  Although I plan for a month at a time, I do my menu plan shopping every 2 weeks.  Planning a month at a time helps me save money by knowing what to buy in bulk and buying items that I need when they are on sale even I don’t need it for another week or two.  Unless it is a super deal, I don’t normally “stock up” on things because honestly buying them and letting them sit and not using them doesn’t really save you money.  And how many times have you bought several of something, taken them to your panty/storage area and then forgot you had them so you bought more the next shopping trip? Yep, I was doing that.  So to combat that I only buy about 5 of most non-perishables, unless there is a great deal or if it is a seasonal item (like at Aldi).

Ok, so back to the menu. I used to use a blank monthly calendar for my planning but have since changed to a weekly calendar with 2 weeks on a page.  I have always used the free printables from hello cuteness! because they are free and cute! However, she no longer offers the monthly calendars as a freebie.  But you can still get the 2-up weekly meal planner as a freebie, just scroll down the page and look under the organization heading.  And if you would rather have a monthly calendar, all you have to do is use this Google search or do your own! Heck, you could even create your own if you would rather do that.  Or you can visit Crafted by Lindy, Live Craft Eat, or Dimensions of Wonder (only Jan and Feb so far).

So menu planning is really easy, or at least the way I do it.  I have a list (mostly in my head) of the things my family likes that I make.  I also have my recipe binder that has tried and true recipes and new ones too!  I typically do not make things that I absolutely know that my kids (or hubs) will not eat! It is a waste of my time, a waste of money and ends up causing tears and frustration. So why punish myself?  That does not mean that I do not make new things or make them try new things (or retry old things).  And typically they have to eat at least 2 bites of whatever if made, except green beans which cause my 5 year old to throw up. Don’t ask.  Also I repeat meals usually at least 2x a month, sometimes more if it is one we all really like. And you may notice I don’t list side dishes below and you sometimes won’t see them on my plans and that is only because I make whatever veggie/rice/pasta I have on hand or that will go with the meal. I serve a lot of salad, corn and potatoes.  You can put whatever things your family likes with the main course.  I will do another post that lists the main course and 2 sides that go with it as I did that a while back to help but rarely follow it now.  So, do you want to know some of the things I make? You do, well then here goes!

  1. Tacos (usually 3-4 times a month)
  2. Baked Chicken legs (really easy)
  3. Pork Roast (in my dutch oven on Sundays usually)
  4. Stromboli/Calzone (on Fridays, homemade using refrigerated dough)
  5. Cheeseburger Macaroni (semi-homemade and this one is a favorite of everyone so its made at least 3 times a month and very easy)
  6. Fish (tilapia or salmon,  my kids love fish)
  7. Chicken Bacon Ranch (another family favorite)
  8. Chicken and Rice
  9. Chicken and Noodles (usually once a month and on Sunday)
  10. Roast in my dutch oven (on Sunday)
  11. Beef Stroganoff (in my dutch oven)
  12. Chicken and Sausage Gumbo served with white rice
  13. Chicken Florentine Pasta (my kids even ate the spinach! lol!)
  14. Breakfast for Dinner (usually 2x a month and on Saturdays)
  15. Italian Beef Sandwiches
  16. Chicken Alfredo Roll-ups (this is a fave but kind of labor intensive because I make my own alfredo sauce)
  17. Chili (2x a month in the colder months)
  18. Italian layer Bake
  19. Tator Tot Casserole
  20. Shepherds Pie
  21. Cheeseburger Ring
  22. Santa Fe Chicken Rice Pilaf
  23. Chicken Enchilada Pasta
  24. Chicken Strips (homemade)
  25. Corn Beef and Cabbage (only on St. Pattys day)
  26. Pork and Sauerkraut (only on New Years)
  27. Pizza (sometimes homemade and sometimes take-out)
  28. Cheesy Chicken Burritos
  29. Spaghetti (but rarely, less than once a month as my hubby is not a fan)
  30. Salisbury Steak
  31. Patty Melts

As you can see that is a list of 31 main courses, which means I could cook something different every day of the month if I wanted to! But I don’t, I usually make the same thing at least twice a month.  Some of the items above I only make in the colder months, some are “holiday” meals and some I only make once every few months.  Also when I am planning out my menu’s I leave at least one day for dining out or take-out.  We budget for this, sometimes it is 2 days a month.  Also I try to work in leftovers so that I am not wasting food.  Or instead of leftovers, I will try to do recipes that will use up the meat and stuff from a previous meal.  Say one night we have a rotisserie chicken for dinner and don’t eat it all.  Well, I will take that chicken and pull all the leftover meat off the bone and then save it to use in my cheesy chicken burritos or chicken and noodles.  I also take this method into account when I am grocery shopping.  A lot of times I buy whole chickens and boil them in my stock pot for several hours.  I usually get at least 3 cups of meat plus at least 8 cups of homemade chicken broth!

Here are some pictures of my menus-

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Note- I will be back later this week with links to recipes and to a couple other planning posts.  Sorry it is late and I am tired! The hubby and I are kid-free this week (thank you mother-in-law!) and today we spent from lunch time until 10 pm out doing fun stuff–eating and movie and shopping!