Two books I read this past week + the BIG stack of books I’m currently reading

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I’m SO excited that this gem showed up in my mailbox this week! Rachel’s book, Hands Free Mama, was a game-changer for me as a wife and mom and I can’t WAIT to dive into this pre-release copy of her brand-new book. I’m prepping myself to be highly challenged and convicted again!

2 Books I Read This Week

How Do I Get It All Done? And Still Have Time to Enjoy It? — This was not an “I have it all figured out, come learn from me” book, but a “Come learn alongside me as I’m figuring it out” kind of book. And I found it inspiring and thought-provoking.

It’s a quick read and there are some typos in it, but overall, it’s a great book if you’re struggling with prioritizing and time management. Lots of great refresher ideas and motivation. I especially loved these three quotes:

So the first step in getting it all done is to define ‘it all’. This is the act of very purposefully defining your priorities, as well as discovering your unique gifts and talents and how God wants you to use them. It’s all too easy to get distracted into doing those things that are not for you to do. You must know what it is that you are to be about in order to do those things well.
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When God gives you an assignment, he doesn’t leave you alone, he equips you with whatever you need to accomplish what he had called you to do.
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Whenever you choose to do something, you choose not to do something else.

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Lizzy & Jane — I really enjoyed this book. It was well-written, engaging, and just an all-around great read. It makes you want to read Jane Austen and become a better cook!

Speaking of which, I’m not a foodie and have only read a little bit of Jane Austen, so if I enjoyed the book, I think those of you who love Austen and/or food-related books will especially find this a good read.

As I’ve just walked through Michele’s cancer journey with her, I found the sections on chemo and the losses and grief related to cancer to be very authentic and real — and something that would be helpful to those who are trying to understand what it’s like to go through chemo treatments and to experience the heavy losses and hard burdens that cancer can bring.

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11 Books I’m Reading This Week:

The Green Ember — This read aloud has come highly recommended to us by multiple sources and, so far, we’re really enjoying it. It is well-written and keeping all of my kids on the edges of their seats.

Dear Mr. Knightley — My friend, Lisa-Jo, says that I must, must, MUST read this book. And considering how much I enjoyed Lizzy & Jane (by the same author), I’m pretty positive she’s right. :)

The Meaning of Marriage — I’m reading through this with my friend, Allison, as part of our weekly accountability meetings. We’re aiming for two chapters every week and then we’ll discuss it when we meet.

Galatians for You — And another Tim Keller book! This one is what we’re going through in our new Community Group. Again, we’re doing just a few chapters every week and discussing them when we meet. So far, it’s been really good.

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Their Lives and Your Life — This is a devotional I’m currently reading with the kids. My mom gave it to me awhile back, if I’m remembering correctly.

Parenting the Wholehearted Child — Can I be really honest with you? Parenting books aren’t my favorite genre. In fact, I typically steer clear of them.

I was raised in an age and culture where many families followed parenting books and discipline plans to a tee and, well, much of the fruit from all that didn’t turn out so great. It left a bad taste in my mouth for the whole “follow steps A, B, and C as a parent and you’ll be a Godly family/good parent” etc.

So yes, I kinda prefer to stay far away from anything that remotely resembles a system or method of parenting. Because I truly have come to believe that there are no one-size-fits-all plans.

At any rate, I was hesitant to start this book because it fell under the “parenting book” genre. But I’m so glad that I did. I’m two chapters in and it is honestly turning out to be one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in a long time.

I just want to sit and read the whole thing in one sitting. But on the other hand, I want to process it slowly so that I can take it all in!

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She Reads Truth Lent Study/Bible — I am loving the Lent study so far… as I have loved all the She Reads Truth studies. Seriously, one of the best things I’ve invested in for my personal spiritual development and relationship with God ever.

Stepping Heavenward — My friend, Allison Burr, loaned me this book and said it was one of her very favorites ever. Can you believe I’ve never read it? I’m working on remedying that stat.

Love Without Limits – For years, Nick Vujicic has been a huge inspiration to me. I was excited to see that he had gotten married and is a dad now and am looking forward to reading this book from he and his wife.

Long Walk to Freedom & Kaffir Boy — I’m slowly working through these as I seek to understand more about South African history.

See all the books I’ve read so far in 2015 here.

What did you read this past week? Any must-read book recommendations?

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Brigette’s $70 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 6

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Aldi

1 head Cabbage – $1.29

2 4-lb bags Oranges – $4.98

2 12-oz bags Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – $3.18

2 16-oz cartons Egg Whites – $3.98

1 2-lb bag Lemons – $2.29

2 3-ct pkgs Romaine Hearts – $3.98

1 2-lb bag Tilapia Filets – $5.49

1 bag Mini Sweet Peppers – $1.39

1 24-oz pkg Zucchini – $1.99

2 dozen Eggs – $3.50

1 16-oz bag Wild Caught Salmon – $3.89

Total: $35.96

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Target

10 boxes Mom’s Best Cereal – $10.00

4 Up & Up 2-ct pkgs Cleaning Sponges – $4.16, used $3/4 Up & Up Cleaning Products/Tools printable – $1.16/4 after coupon

4 bags Market Pantry Frozen Broccoli – $3.84, used $1/4 Target Mobile coupon, plus 5% off Market Pantry Frozen Vegetables Target Cartwheel Offer – $2.69/4 after coupons

2 12-oz cans Nestle Evaporated Milk – $1.92, used $0.55/2 printable, plus $0.50/2 Target printable, plus receive $1 back from Checkout 51 – $0.13 MM after coupons and rebate (these got put in the Harris Teeter picture accidentally – I will blame it on multi-tasking and having my children help me with unloading groceries/taking pics :))

2 15-ct pkgs Juicy Fruit Starburst Gum – $1.98, used 2 $1/1 Target printable – FREE after coupons

Used a $5 Gift Card

Total after Coupons, Taxes, Gift Card and Rebate – $8.77 

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Harris Teeter

3 bottles Pantene Shampoo – $10.00, used $5/3 Pantene Products, exp. 4/30/15 (P&G 03/29/15), plus $5/3 Harris Teeter evic – FREE after coupons

2 boxes Betty Crocker Cake Mix – $2.00, used $0.75/2 printable (doubled), plus $0.75/2 Harris Teeter evic – $0.25 MM after coupons, plus receive $0.75 back from SavingStar

3 jars Skippy Natural Peanut Butter – $6.00, used 3 $0.55/1 printable (doubled) – $2.70/3 after coupons, plus receive $0.25 back from Ibotta

2 15-oz cans Dole Sliced Pineapple – $2.00, used $0.50/2 Dole Canned Fruit, exp. 5/31/15 (SS 03/22/15 R) (doubled) – $1.00/2 after coupon, plus receive $1 back from Snap by Groupon

1 McCormick Grill Mates Hamburger Seasoning – $1.39, used $0.75/1 McCormick Spice, Herb, Extract or Food Color, exp. 4/19/15 (RP 03/15/15) (doubled) – FREE after coupon

1 2-ct package Hass Avocad0s – $1.67

2 8-oz bags Sargento Artisan Blends Shredded Cheese – $4.00, used 2 $0.50/1 printable (doubled) – $2.00/2 after coupons

2 32-oz containers Sorrento Ricotta Cheese – $5.49, used 2 $1/1 printable – $3.49/2 after coupons

1 gallon Milk – $2.99, plus receive $0.25 back from Ibotta

Total after Coupons, Taxes, and Rebates – $8.95

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Save-A-Lot

2 5-lb bags Flour – $2.98

1 5-lb bag Golden Delicious Apples – $2.99, plus receive $0.25 back from Checkout 51 – $2.74 after rebate

1 5-lb bag Granny Smith Apples – $2.99

Total after Rebate: $8.71

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Food Lion

3.56lbs of Ground Beef (@$2.49/lb) – $8.86 (also pictured is 5lbs of ground beef given to us this week by our retired butcher friend!)

Total: $8.86   

Weekly Total: $70.98

Weekly Menu Plan

Breakfasts

Cereal x 3

Easy Whole Wheat Muffins/Toast and Eggs x 2 (Veggie Omelettes for me)

Apple Baked Oatmeal (adapting this recipe) x 2

Lunches

Stir Fried Veggies over Rice, Apples x 2

Build-Your-Own-Tossed Salad Bar x 2, Crackers

Baked Potatoes with Cheese, Oranges, Carrot Sticks x 2

Leftovers

Dinners

Pan Fried Tilapia, Crispy Carrot Fries (substituting carrots for the sweet potatoes), Steamed Broccoli, Homemade Freezer Biscuits (Easy Paleo Biscuits for me)

Chicken Gravy over Brown Rice, Tossed Salad, Steamed Peas

Meat Potato Quiche (using leftover ham from the freezer), Steamed Broccoli, Easy Whole Wheat Muffins (I will make a double batch to have leftovers for breakfasts)

Venison Roast in the Crockpot, Sliced Baked Potatoes, Tossed Salad, Easy Homemade Whole Wheat Bread (recipe coming soon!)

Taco Salad, Best Spanish Rice, Oranges

Fried Egg and Cheese Sandwiches (meatless), Homemade Applesauce, Green Beans (from the freezer)

Leftovers

Snacks

Protein Smoothies or Muffin in Mug (for me), Popcorn, Chewy No-Bake Granola Bars

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Why I Like My Smaller House

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Guest post from Rachael of Mumbling Mommy

I had a strange dream after my husband and I signed paperwork to buy our first house. I dreamed I was standing in our new master bathroom and the walls began closing in on me. In reality, it IS a small bathroom — my dream only exaggerated that fact.

When my mom came to visit and first saw the bathroom, she wondered if it had originally been a closet (it hadn’t.) However, despite its diminutive dimensions, our master bathroom works for us.

The rest of our house isn’t big either. At approximately 1,050 square feet, some people might consider our house to be on the small side, but we don’t plan to upsize. Our house served us well when we were a young couple with no children, and it has accommodated our growing family, with adequate space for our two daughters. We are happy at the prospect of spending our retirement years here, too.

I like my house so much that I sometimes feel sorry for friends who live in larger houses.

Here are the top reasons why I like small houses:

1. Smaller houses cost less to own and operate.

Everything about smaller houses is smaller, like mortgages, heating and cooling bills, electric bills, and taxes.

We were able to pay ahead on our mortgage and refinanced so our home will be paid off in 15 years, which wouldn’t be possible if we lived in a larger, more expensive home.

We also only need one furnace to heat our home, compared to larger homes that function most efficiently when they have separate furnaces for lower and upper floors.

2. Smaller houses are more environmentally friendly.

I recycle, compost, and try to leave a small carbon footprint. I like smaller houses because they are built with fewer natural resources like wood, and they require less electricity and gas to heat, cool, and cook with.

3. Smaller houses can make remodeling projects more affordable.

You need less paint and carpet and fewer wall cabinets in smaller houses. When we had ceramic tile floors installed in our bathrooms, we saved on labor costs because the rooms were small. I can paint a bedroom with only one gallon of paint and still have paint left over.

4. Smaller houses help keep clutter to a minimum.

We need less furniture and fewer things like decorations and curtains to fill our space.

Small houses also are motivation to pare down excess belongings. We keep only what we need and are less tempted to buy toys or gadgets that would clutter our home.

I feel less pressure to “keep up with the Joneses.”

5. Smaller houses are easier for families with young children.

Our open floor plan, which makes our house seem bigger than it really is, allows me to stand in my dining room and see almost every room in our house. I can cook in the kitchen and keep tabs on my children playing in the living room or their bedrooms.

If my children wake at night, I don’t have to walk down a long hall or up or down stairs to their bedrooms.

The bathroom is never far away during potty training, and when accidents happen, the laundry room is nearby, too.

6. Smaller houses take less time and effort to clean.

This is my favorite part about my small home! Less square footage means less space to clean.

Our bathrooms are so small my children frequently stand in the hall while brushing their teeth, but that also means I can clean our bathrooms in a short time.

We have friends who have two or three times as much house to clean, and some of them hire house cleaners, which brings us back to my first point about all the ways smaller houses save money.

For our family, having less space is a good tradeoff if it means we save money and sanity.

What do you like about smaller houses? On the other end of the spectrum, have you experienced benefits from living in a large house?

Rachael is a wife, mom of two daughters, and associate editor for Mumbling Mommy, a blog about the challenges, pitfalls, and triumphs of parenting. In her spare time, she can be found gardening, cooking, singing with ladies from church, or reading Charlotte Bronte novels.

photo source

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Cents of Style: Mint & Peach Accessories — as low as $5 shipped!

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Today’s Fashion Friday offer from Cents of Style is Mint & Peach Accessories for 50% off when you use coupon code MINT at checkout.

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You can get lightweight spring scarves, earrings, ballet flats, and more starting as low as $5 shipped.

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I ordered these adorable teardrop stud earrings to go with a few of my speaking outfits and they were just $6.47 shipped!

This deal is only valid today, March 27, 2015.

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)
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