Bless This Food by Adrian Butash:Review/Giveaway {CLOSED}

Bless This FoodUPDATE:  The winner is Jenny.  Congrats!

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The first prayers that my children learn are their night prayers and their meal prayers.  For meals, we say a prayer I learned in childhood as well as the Japanese prayer my husband used to say.  We are a multicultural family, and we offer multicultural prayers for our thanksgiving.

When I got the chance to review Bless This Food by Adrian Butash, I said yes without hesitation.

If prayers of thanksgiving are important to your family, you’ll likely appreciate this book.  Butash, a well-known marketing and advertising executive who studied history and the culture of the world at Fordham University, has created a beautiful book rich in culture and religion.

The introduction of the book contains an explanation of prayers and sources from different cultures and religions including Jewish, Sumerian, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Chinese, Japanese, and Native American, just to name a few.

The book contains 160 prayers taken from different religions and cultures.  There is even an explanation of how to say two traditional meal prayers in American Sign Language.  After each prayer is given, the author explains where the prayer came from and the significance of the prayer, as well as a bit about the religion it’s based on.

The author recommends that when you sit down to eat, have your children choose a prayer from the book and say it as a family.  We did this, and my kids liked learning different ways to say their prayers of thanksgiving as well as learning about other cultures and religions.

The Giveaway

One lucky Mom’s Plans’ reader will receive a copy of Bless This Food.  To enter, just simply leave a comment stating why you’d like to win.

This giveaway is open to all, worldwide, ages 18+.  If the winner resides in the U.S., she’ll receive a copy of the book.  If the winner resides outside the U.S., she’ll receive a .pdf copy of the book.  The giveaway ends on October 2nd at 11:59 p.m. CST.  The winner will be chosen via random.org.

I received one copy of this book for review purposes only.  No other compensation was given.  All opinions are my own.

2013 Personal, Financial and Work Goals – April Update

100_3968I set some lofty goals this year that, in all honesty, I am not sure that we can accomplish.

However, I like to set the bar high because even if I don’t accomplish ALL of the goals, at least I have achieved more than if I had not stretched myself.

Also, these goals can’t be completed in a month or two.  Most of them will require all of 2013 to complete.

Here is how we did meeting our goals in April.

Financial

Save $3,300 for children to go to Japanese summer school by June 20th:  ACCOMPLISHED!  We accomplished this goal at the end of April, two months before summer school begins.

Pay off my student loan:  On target.  The current balance is approximately$3,092.14, so we paid off $249 in April.

Reduce our credit card balance to $5,000 :  No progress.  I have this debt on a  0% APR credit card which expires in March, 2014, so I would like to have this paid off by then.  For now, however, I’m paying the minimum payment required so all extra money can go on my student loan.

Maintain an emergency fund of $3,000:  Accomplished this month.

Complete our wills:  No progress.

Apply for another life insurance policy.  No progress.

Make several necessary car repairs (to the tune of $2,000 or so dollars):  On target.  We used several creative strategies to come up with the $634 required to replace all 4 of our tires in February.  In March, we paid $728 for front brakes and brake fluid.  Now the only expense left is the spark plugs for $600 plus.  I’m hoping we can make the repair this month, but the money is not in the budget, so we’ll have to see.

Read 24 books this year.  On target.  I am enjoying reading again so much!  In April I read 2 books, bringing my total for the year to 17 books.  This goal is 70% accomplished!

Watch 24 movies this year. On target.  We watched six movies in April, bringing our total to 16 for the year. This goal is 66% accomplished.

Lose 20% of my current body weight:  On target.  Since January 1st I have lost 11.8% of my body weight.  This goal is 59% accomplished!

Exercise at least 3 times a week:  On target.  Now that the weather is nice, I’ve been walking my son to school 3 to 5 days a week.  That is a mile each time.  When all the kids are in summer school, I’ll add in more exercise.

Continue to follow my diet and heal my leaky gut.  On target.  I’m taking the food intolerance test again shortly.  If I see that I haven’t developed any new food intolerances and that some of them have disappeared, I’m definitely going to feel like I’m making more progress.  I should get the results back in June.

Work

Increase my freelance income by 50% over 2012:  No progress.   My work leveled out in April.  I’m hoping to apply for better paying jobs when the kids are in summer school.

Check e-mail no more than 4 times a day:  No progress.  I am still failing miserably at this.  This might be the hardest goal to accomplish this year.

Treat my blog like a business:  On target.  I’ve been taking action toward this–joining Pinterest, trying to make pictures Pinterest friendly, revamping some older posts.  I’ve also been commenting and taking part in link parties.  I made a list of 13 improvements I’d like to make on the blog, and I’ll be slowly implementing them.

Stick to a regular blog schedule:  On target.  I’ve even been writing a few posts in advance instead of the night before like I usually do.

Do you set goals?  If so, how are you doing on yours?

I shared this post at Money Saving Mom.

150 Best Desserts in a Jar – Review and Giveaway

Dessertsdiajcover

 

UPDATE:  The winner is Debbie.  Congrats!

When I lost dairy, I feared I had lost ice cream and yummy desserts forever, but more and more I’m discovering that their are plenty of alternatives to traditional dessert recipes with dairy.

I recently had the chance to review 150 Best Desserts in a Jar by Andrea Jourdan, and I fell in love!  There are so many delicious recipes in here, and many of them are heavy on fruit.  Bonus!

If you’re dairy free like me, you’ll love this book.  Many of the recipes don’t require dairy, and the ones that do still come out great when you sub dairy free butter for butter and an alternative milk to a traditional milk.  Trust me, I’ve tried many of these recipes!

Also, the desserts are served in jam jars, so they’re prettier than most other desserts because you can see all the layers.  You feast with your eyes before even tasting the dessert.

My family’s favorite dessert in this book was the Peach and Mango Parfait.  This recipe was a winner for me because it has no added sugar, just some maple syrup.

Features

The book opens with a brief intro about using jars to serve desserts.

After that, the author gets straight to the desserts.  Each recipe includes a little story or comment from the author as well as a tip to help you while cooking or when choosing the fruit.  Many recipes also contain ways you can change the ingredients just a little to create another tasty creation.

Of course, I’d love a picture with every recipe, but like most cookbooks, that doesn’t happen here.  However, there are 24 photos of some of the 150 recipes in the book, and they are all gorgeous to look at.

The Giveaway

Robert Rose, the publisher of 150 Best Desserts in a Jar, is giving one lucky Mom’s Plans’ reader a copy of the book.

To enter, simply leave a comment stating what your favorite dessert recipe is.

This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents who are 18 or older.  The giveaway will end on April 27, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. CST.  The winner will be chosen via random.org.

I received one copy of this book for review purposes only.  No additional compensation was given.  All opinions are my own.

 

Saving Money on Groceries and a Giveaway

Amy Dacyczyn, the original frugal zealot and author of The Tightwad Gazette said she often focused on how to save money grocery shopping instead of investing in the stock market because shopping for her family had a direct, tangible impact on her bottom line.

While I am not the queen of coupons, I do have a few favorite ways to save money and still enjoy organic, high quality food.

1.  Shop stores like Costco.  I love Costco!  I don’t usually go crazy there; instead I stick to my list and buy what we need.  Usual purchases include 1 pound of organic spinach for less than $5, rice milk, soy milk, and organic eggs.  We go there every 2 or 3 weeks.

2.  Subscribe to a CSA.  We subscribed to two CSAs (community supported agriculture) this year and couldn’t be happier.  We got enough produce to enjoy throughout the week AND to use in freezer meals that my family is still eating now.  All of this produce cost us about $25 per week.

3.  Buy meat direct from the farmer.  I haven’t bought meat from the grocery store in a long time.  Instead, we subscribe to a meat CSA and buy our beef and pork in bulk from the farmer.  Yes, the initial outlay of cash is expensive, but we have enough meat to last the year, and the price per pound is cheaper than similar quality meat bought at a grocery store.

4.  Freeze meals.  Taking the time to freezer cook and having homemade freezer meals available saves us a lot of money.  Yes, cooking freezer meals can be time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.  Double a recipe and put it in the crockpot and enjoy half the meal now and put the other half in the freezer.

What are your favorite ways to save on groceries?

This week I have teamed up with 30 other bloggers to offer a giveaway of either $100 in PayPal cash or an Amazon gift card.  Use the money to buy groceries or presents, or whatever you would like!

If you are a blogger who would like to join in the giveaway next time, go here for more details.

What Are You Thankful For? And a Giveaway

Often we go about our day to day lives and don’t take the time to look back at how far we have come in the past year.

I am certainly guilty of that.

For me, in 2012, I have seen two huge improvements in my own life–financially and physically.

While we have taken some steps back on debt repayment, we still have made quite a dent in our debt this year, and we are in the midst of a blitz to bulk up our emergency fund.

Physically, I went from being sick every day, feeling exhausted, and dizzy to not being sick and feeling what it is like to have energy again.  As soon as I figure out my recurring throat issue, I will have no physical complaints.  It is wonderful to know what is wrong with me and how to fix it.

What about you?  What important changes have you made this year that you are thankful for?

And if you would like a little extra money this holiday season, enter to win a $50 PayPal cash payment or Amazon gift card.

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If you are a blogger who would like to join in the giveaway, please go here for more details.