Cookbook Giveaway: Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites

cookbookcoverWhen I read about the opportunity to review a new cookbook from the Once-A-Month Cooking (OAMC) gals – I was REALLY excited.  While I do love to cook, I do NOT enjoy the daily cleanup.  I wanted to see what tips & tricks – as well as recipes – the Family Favorites cookbook had to offer, and I was pleasantly surprised.

I immediately dug into the Introduction section, and found the tips and recommendations to be DO-able!  I was glad to see that I wasn’t being told to invest in a lot of containers and new products that required more storage space – but instead was advised to use good freezer bags and my regular freezer to store everything.  Yay!

My favorite part of the cookbook, as I was reading it page by page, was the layout.  Broken down into One-month cycles with coordinating pantry list, freezing supplies, shopping list, and preparation order – I could see how simple preparing a month’s worth of meals could really be.  And there are 2 One-month cycles, as well as several Two-week cycles.  One of the recommendations in the Intro section is to cook with a friend, so for someone like me with a small prep space, that idea is very workable!

authorphotoThe authors of the OAMC books, Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg, have much experience with cooking, and have developed a very friendly system for meal planning, in my opinion! The coordinating recipes for each month’s cycle contained many recipes that my family would actually eat and enjoy.  No bizarre recipes or unusual ingredients.  Recipes like:

  • Creamy Chicken Enchiladas – p. 36
  • Chicken Broccoli Casserole – p. 32
  • Macaroni – p. 118

Not only that, but I was actually intrigued by many of the fish dishes since I don’t cook fish.  However, I’m considering the Tilapia Fillets (p. 134) because we want to eat more fish, more often, and this recipe seems very simple.

Since the cookbook also offers several Two-week cycles (which appeals to me as I’m usually buying groceries every two weeks, and would be more manageable to prepare ahead in my own kitchen), I’m going to start with one of them and see how it goes.  The Two-week cycles include a Gluten-Free plan, a Summer Two-week plan, and even a Gourmet plan!

I’m so thankful for my free copy of this cookbook – it’s one I’m really excited about not just reading but applying to help with meal planning, and planning ahead for my family!


So here’s the fun part!  Not only did I get a free copy to review, but I got one copy to give away to one of my readers!  If you enjoy cooking, the recipes are very friendly – and if you’re looking for a Do-able plan for freezer meals and menu planning, this could be a great tool in your kitchen!

How to Enter:

Required: Leave a comment telling me if you’ve ever tried Once-A-Month cooking – how it has worked or not worked for you – and/or how you handle meal planning for yourself or your family now. Make sure your email address is included in your comment entry.  (If you don’t leave a comment for this, you won’t be entered.)

Extra Entries:

1. Twitter about this giveaway once daily thru 10/15/09 – leave your twitter id/link for each entry. (1 xtra entry per  Tweet).

2. Link to this post on your blog. (1 xtra entry)

3. Share on Facebook and leave me a comment with your FB link. (1 xtra entry)

***Contest ends Thursday, 10/15/09 at 11:59 pm.  Winner will be contacted via email and announced on Friday, 10/16/09.***

You can read my disclosure policy here.


Are you a Coupon Queen (or King)?

Do you “COUPON”? Do you spend time cutting coupons, filing them, and track your savings each week?  Do you consider yourself to be a “Coupon Queen” (or King)?

My mom is a pretty amazing coupon shopper, but I’ll admit I’ve not invested myself quite deeply enough to see significant savings. Oh, I use coupons.  When I remember to bring my coupon filer.  Or when I remember that I HAVE a coupon for a particular item.  I just haven’t gotten deliberate about it.  Yet.

And then I read these posts from women who save so much money, and I get inspired. So I thought I’d share a few of these posts for anybody who wants to coupon, who likes to coupon, and who celebrates amazing savings with other people who like to be frugal!

I LOVE how A Virtuous Woman shares her system in How I Organize My Coupons.  Not only that, but she shares WHERE she gets her coupons here and here!  Part of my issue is not having coupons for MANY of the things my family buys.  I am always looking for new places to find pertinent coupons – and appreciate anyone who shares this information online!

My friend, Alyssa, has also shared her coupon system at Life from my Laptop. She writes about her Coupon Binder, how she plans to USE her coupons, and recommends A Full Cup as a source for great coupons!

My buddy Danielle, at Danielle’s Journey offers these recent coupon links – for restaurants, food, and other great items!  Here’s another post with links from the previous week!  Check them OUT!!!

So how do YOU save money?  Do you use coupons?  What’s your most successful savings on products you buy every day?  Feel free to share your tips & resources and let me know how you rank yourself in saving money!

What’s Up Wednesday? Product Review & Giveaway from Ecostore!

Not having done a formal product review before, I was only a little bit hesitant when I was contacted by someone from Ecostore products to try their products.  I wasn’t hesitant to try the products so much as to put together a product review. =)  So here goes:

Ecostore USA, in their own words:

“is an extension of a 20 year old New Zealand company that makes plant based , non-toxic Household Cleaning, Baby and Personal Care Products that contain No Nasty Chemicals(tm). Now more than ever we believe that the voice of the Mom Blogger relative to the health of her family and the planet coincide with the Ecostore mission.”

Kudos to Ecostore USA for jumping on the Mom Bloggers wagon!!!  The store is just now getting products from their e-store onto shelves at Meijer stores.  So you will see these products (as I already have) at Meijer’s or can purchase them online.


I selected three products from their lines which include Baby Care, Bath & Body, Hair Care, Household, and Pet Care.  The box was delivered a week ago (in all environmentally friendly packaging!) and I have used these products for a week.  To be honest – I’m impressed and very happy to share my results with you.

The Baby Sleepytime Bath Aromatherapy was the product I was most excited to try.  My girls love baths, and sometimes bathtime is more exciting than calming, so baths before bed are not always a good idea.  However, the addition of the Baby Sleepytime Bath was lovely for both them and me.  The scents of Geranium and Lavendar filled the bathroom, and although there were no bubbles, there was no oily residue or tub ring after use.   And I can say that it seemed to have the acclaimed “sleepytime” effect on both girls, and made settling down much easier.  The pricetag of $11.00 retail is higher than you would pay for a competitive brand – BUT it does NOT contain any harsh chemicals or dangerous ingredients  and that is worth every penny!  This is something I will keep on hand for our girls for a long while.

I also selected their Toilet Cleaner.  We have been using naturally-derived products in our home for over a year, but did not have a product specific for toilet cleaning.  While I was confident in the safety of the products we’ve been using, I wanted to try something specifically targeting the toilet.  The pine scent was NOT overpowering and the liquid gel was a cinch to apply.  With the angled neck, it was easy to target under the rim, and with just one use, I saw under-the-rim stains disappear!  This is a cleaner I will use once a week for serious cleaning, along with my (almost) daily “swish & swipe” routine.  At $8.00 retail a bottle this will last me quite some time, and won’t hurt the waterways or environment!

The third and final product was actually the one that impressed me the most.  The Pure Oxygen Whitener was so successful that even my husband commented on how much brighter everything looked!  The powdered form must be mixed with water prior to use, and at 2 Tbsp per 7+/- quarts of water, this container is going to last us at least several months.  Since I didn’t have a 7 quart container on hand, I reused an empty 24 oz container bottle (left over from my dish soap) filled with water and mixed with 1/2 tsp of the whitener.  I can squirt it into my washer quite easily and am very pleased with the results.  I did follow the directions for an overnight soak on a small load of miscellaneous white clothes (including my girls socks which get very dirty) and have not seen them get whiter.  For $12 retail – this product will not only save money but will give you great results and a SAFER alternative to bleach.

All in all, I’m really excited to have tried these products, and will look for the other products in our local Meijer’s whenever I need anything more.  For more information about Ecostore USA, click here.


I’m also thrilled to announce my first-ever contest – a $25 gift certificate to Ecostore USA.   Take a visit to their site, leave a comment telling me which product(s) you would like to try and I will draw a winner on Tuesday, April 14.  Contest ends Monday, April 13, at 11:59 p.m. EST.  One comment per person.  (Be sure to leave your name, email address &/or blog address so I can contact the winner.)

*** Plus – Ecostore USA is offering free Shipping for the month of April on orders of $25+!!!

Ta-Da Tuesday – Moms Rock!

Curly’s older cousin, Moe, gave her a Tshirt recently that is bright yellow with a hot pink graphic on the front that reads, “My Mom Rocks!” (I’d post a pic, but it’s in the dirty laundry at the moment…) I read it to her the first time she wore it, and now every time she puts it on, she says proudly “My Mom Rocks!” and does a little happy dance. I don’t even pay her to do that – somehow she just knows!

One great thing about moms – among the myriad of great things about moms – is how most of us are on the lookout for the best deal, the best product, the best program, the best idea for our families.  That is not to say that dads don’t – but I think moms (or at least the moms I know) are always looking to get the most of something for the least (time, money, effort, etc) !  Call it opportunistic, call it clever – Moms are very resourceful and the world wide web certainly showcases their skills!

Since most moms are looking for ways to save money and time, there are a plethora of websites (I love the word Plethora) offering advice and help to meet this growing need.  It just so happens that several of these sites are organized by one or two or several moms who put their heads together and came up with some amazing ideas:

oam-logoOnce a Month MomThis blog is designed to teach anyone how to cook only ONCE each month!  Can you imagine?  The idea is to get with a friend and spend one day cooking meals together that will last for a month.  With pre-made menu plans, recipes, and shopping lists – these two moms really make it sound possible!  I’ve copied some of their recipes to try because they sound so yummy – and they even offer recipes for making baby food.  Not only that, but they have a lot of posts linking to online coupons and savings for your shopping needs!  Because meals are already prepped, it’s easy to just pull one from the freezer to thaw for dinner, and the idea is that you’re less likely to spontaneously splurge on dinner out (which can cost so much more than cooking at home!)  I am starting off slowly – partially because I have a fairly small freezer, but I am looking to move to cooking only twice a month on a regular basis in the next few months.

coupon-graphicDo you Coupon?  My mom is a serious Coupon Queen!  I have been slower to get on that bandwagon, but I’ve been signing up with several free coupon vendors lately and finding some great coupons on things I normally buy.  Most of these coupon sites have been linked from great Mommy Blogs focusing on saving money, living frugal and being thrifty!  Some of these coupons are available to print from online, some offer coupons for groceries and other items, and at some you can find coupons and you can enter your shopping card information (e.g. Kroger Plus Card) for special coupons & savings at your favorite stores.  Then, there are communities (Like the Consumer Queen Message Boards or the Coupon Cupboard Coupon Forum) where members share their expertise in finding the best deals and savings (seriously – one gal bought over 100 boxes of cereal for only $10!!!) and share links to great coupon finds.  There are coupon sites like Coupon Suzy (free registration) and The Grocery Game (small membership fee) that also offer tons of savings!  Are YOU a coupon expert?  Feel free to share great coupon websites or blogs in the comment section!

yggbanner_tinyFor all of you gardening types – this website has really inspired me.  You Grow Girl is just BEAUTIFUL – and if you need advice or tips for gardening (of any kind) this is a great resource to have.  Urban and back yard gardening is making a serious comeback as people are looking to eat better and save money.  If you need any help getting started (or expanding your garden) , this site has a lot to offer!


Are you interested in locally grown produce but don’t know how to find it?  Check  out Local Harvest.  After searching on their website, I was thrilled to discover several small family-owned farms nearby that I was only vaguely familiar with (in that – “oh look, they have a farm” kind of way).  Not just for fresh, organic produce, but also for eggs, dairy, meat, and more – if you want to save money and support local business, plug in your info and see what you can find.  (If you’re looking for heirloom seeds for your garden, they have some recommendations there, as well!)

momsbudget150Moms Budget.  This is a site I visited recently for some printables – that I bookmarked to spend more time with later.  Tips to manage cooking, cleaning, bills & expenses, as well as health & beauty, recipes, and more, this is a site loaded with information to help any mom with just about any thing.

5m4m-120x120-15 Minutes for Mom.  This site by and for moms, which recently featured the Ultimate Blog Party 2009, has so much to offer you really have to visit it yourself.  Giveaways, contests, a blog directory, practical tips for just about everything you can think of and several different newsletters – it’s a website worth visiting and subscribing to for a number of reasons.  Janice & Susan, twin WAH Moms, built this website to showcase and support moms of all kinds.  Resources for working at home, parenting tips, links to mom-owned stores – seriously, I couldn’t list everything they have to offer.  So hop on over and check it out for yourself!

foodstoragebuttonFood Storage Made Easy.  So you’ve done your shopping with coupons, bought local produce, tried some new recipes, and you just want to do more?  This is a blog by 2 moms who are attempting to store a full year’s worth of food as part of an emergency preparedness plan.  This takes some serious thought!  While I’m not sure I could manage a full year’s supply, for us even an extra month’s supply could be helpful.  I don’t think it’s entirely out of the question that in times like these, we should think about being prepared for any kind of emergency, and having even a few weeks’ supply of food stored would be beneficial.  This site is FULL of information that can guide you into having a plan for an unexpected event.  You can sign up for their newsletter, which delivers a series of “Baby Steps” guiding you into the process of storing food long term.  They are also having a giveaway these steps in a new All-in-One Binder – you can enter by clicking on the logo below:


Hopefully you can find something useful at one or more of these sites.  If you’re looking for something specific and can’t find it – feel free to leave a comment or contact me and I will see what I can find.

Until next time,