Read with Us: My November and December Picks

Believe it or not, despite the busy holiday season, I’m still trying to squeeze in some reading time.  I wanted to be sure and reach my 12 books for the year goal. It doesn’t sound like a big goal but when you have two little kids and run a website, it’s a HUGE goal. :)

In November, I mentioned in my Creating Good Habits series that I was starting to work on creating a weekly cleaning schedule. Several of you referred me to FlyLady. And I am so thankful to you all for that. While digging around on her site, I found that she has a book out called Sink Reflections. I’ve been reading it off and on and getting quite a bit of inspiration from it. I’m motivated now that my house can look great all the time and not have so much cleaning chaos to it. Since my plate is always pretty full this time of year, I’m just taking some notes of things to work on for next year. But I really do love this book and highly recommend it.

A few weeks ago, I was flipping through my iPhone and remembered I had the Amazon Kindle App. I was so lucky to have snagged a free version of The Simple Dollar: How One Man Wiped Out His Debts and Achieved the Life of His Dreams (no longer available for free, though. Sorry!)

I always try to read some type of finance book towards the end of the year. It gives me the inspiration I need to put my heart back into getting back on track with our budgeting and paying off our house. I’m only partway through this one, but so far, it’s pretty good.

These are my book picks for November and December. I’ll be doing a giveaway for them later so be sure to keep your eyes open for it.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to proceed with my book picks for 2011 or not. Have any of you found these picks to be useful? Time to chime in before I discontinue the series!

Read With Us: My September (and October) Picks

I’m going to do something different for the Read With Us for September. I actually chose two books so that my readers can have a choice at which one they’d like to win when I do the giveaway on it. I’ll just count one as my October pick.

I personally have been reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. It talks about a family’s journey towards trying to eat only what’s in season by either growing it themselves or buying locally.

The book has some funny one-liners in it. When I was reading this on one of my recent flights, I had some people glancing over at me on the plane because I couldn’t help laughing out loud several times.  I’m a big fan of reading about the journeys of other people as they often inspire me to start one of my own. Since I’ve been so busy with Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred I haven’t completely finished this one yet.

And for the second pick, I am choosing Eat, Pray, Love… as so many of my readers have read this one and so many others have asked me to pick it so they might have a chance to win it. I did see the movie version of it at the end of August and I’m looking forward to someday finding out how close the movie was to the book.

So when I do the Read With Us giveaway here soon, I’ll be letting my two winners have a chance to pick either book.

Read With Us: My August Book Pick

When it came time to choose my August Pick at the beginning of the month, I knew exactly which one I wanted to start digging into. This one actually came from a reader recommendation! :)

Over the last year, I’ve been working at slowly changing my lifestyle and weaning myself off depending on convenience foods and learning to make my own things. I’ve illustrated several of these things in my Conveniently At Home series and even through Freezer Cooking. Just doing these few little things has helped me on the path that I’m on.

I’ve slowly been switching us to foods from Sustainable Farms, joining a CSA and even starting my own bigger garden this year. With each step I take, I’m learning more about becoming a little bit more self-efficient,  reducing our carbon footprint and supporting local farmers and businesses. So when one of my readers suggested that I pick up a copy of More-With-Less Cookbook (World Community Cookbook) it was a great find for me!

Overall, it’s a recipe book helping you learn how to make more things for yourself. But it also has a great introduction on how and why to make more things yourself.

And while making more things myself has become a little bit more time-consuming, I’m finding that it opens up a new door for things to do with my kids. There are several ways that I’m finding for them to help me safely in the kitchen. They are getting more excited about dinner and honestly, dinner time has become much more enjoyable as it’s now a group effort to create and enjoy. My son’s connecting that this food came from the garden he’s growing or from the farmer’s market that we visited, etc.  I also grabbed a recent Groupon so my family can have a fun outing at a Pasta Class downtown Chicago. I can’t wait to learn how to make more of my own pasta recipes, as I only have knowledge of a few from a previous class I took with my sister!

I have much more to share with you on my discoveries, including a review on an insightful screening, but as a start, I wanted to share that this is my book pick for August. I also wanted to share that I’ve also been reading and using Simply in Season Expanded Edition (World Community Cookbook. I actually, just this week, used their Blueberry Raspberry Jam recipe for my first canning experience! (I’ll share more on that later!) The book is another recipe book that teaches you how to save money by using recipes for foods that are currently in season.

Remember, that I giveaway two copies of my book picks each month. I’ll be posting the giveaway for this one real soon—so stay tuned! I’m hoping that you’ll all check out one or both of these books and see if maybe you can add a few more homemade recipes to your menu plan and stretch your dollars by using more of what’s in-season.

Read With Us: My July Pick

To be honest, I really didn’t get to have a lot of reading time in July. If you’ve been following the Coupon Geek Facebook Page at all, you know why. I’ve spent a good portion of the month decluttering our house. I’m not talking simple de-cluttering but all out “everything will have a place” de-cluttering. I’ll share more on this with you all in another series but I did want to mention my book pick for the month, even though I haven’t finished it in its entirety.

One of my goals for this year was to learn the canning/preserving process. When I go to the farmer’s markets and farm stands, I’m always drawn to those little Ball jars full of good foods. So I told myself that before the summer’s over, I’ll figure out how to do this, if even just one or two items. You have to start somewhere, right?  In the end, I’m hoping to make up some salsa, tomato recipes and jams. We’ll see how it goes.

Thanks to several of my Facebook Friends, I’ve was steered towards the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

The Ball Blue Book actually comes in the Ball Home Canning Kit if you needed one of them and can find a good deal on it. (It went as low as $39 on but sold out so fast!)

But overall, I wanted to make this my monthly book pick in hopes that it might encourage others to check it out at the library and possibly venture into the world of canning/preserving, too. I have a feeling that once I put the investment into the supplies I need, that it will save me money over the years. (and definitely get us some yummy foods on the table!) Stay tuned for the upcoming giveaway for this book!

I’d love to hear what things you’ve had good luck canning/preserving.

Read With Us: My June Pick

I have actually been reading several books this month, including All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space, The Complete Book of Running for Women and Charlie St. Cloud: A Novel.

I had just found the Charlie St. Cloud: A Novel at Target this last week and decided it looked interesting enough that I couldn’t pass it up. I finished it in just two days. It’s about two brothers that are in a car accident. The older one survives but promises his brother he’ll never leave him. He takes a job in a cemetery and this is where the book plays out.

What I liked about it is that throughout the book, it really gets you asking yourself if you are living life to its fullest and making the most of it. I was happy to see that they’ve also made a movie out of it and it looks like it might be releasing this summer on July 30, 2010. It stars Zac Ephron, whom you might know from High School Musical.

I hope that you are fitting in a little reading time for yourselves this month. I often find reading a nice way to unwind from the typical crazy-filled day.

Read With Us: My May Pick

The year before my son was born, one of my hubby’s co-workers asked if we’d like part of a share in some organic hamburger that their family was getting from a cow they had raised. They were so generous and we only paid $2 a pound. Can you imagine?! Well it was indeed the best hamburger I’ve ever bought–I only wish I could always find it for that price. :)

After my son was born, I started switching our dairy products, some veggies and other items to organic, as well. Sadly, I didn’t keep up with it because I was really getting deep into couponing and I started buying up regular products again since I could get them so inexpensively.

But after chit-chatting with my friends Keri Lyn and Susan for awhile, I’ve decided that I wanted to get back to working on getting more and more of our food from local and Organic sources. But I also knew that if you aren’t careful, you can end up spending more than your budget allows in the switching process.

So I started digging around for a book with some advice on Organics. I stumbled upon this one on Amazon:

To Buy or Not to Buy Organic: What You Need to Know to Choose the Healthiest, Safest, Most Earth-Friendly Food

What I loved about this book is that in the back, there’s a chart that the author has created that helps you determine if an item would be better bought organically, locally or not. I’m kind of using that as a guide for now, but I have really enjoyed all the information that’s shared throughout the book.

Another of my hubby’s co-workers belongs to a CSA and she was so generous to let us pick up her share this week to see what came in one, as she was out-of-town for the week. (Thanks so much, Laura!!) I was so excited to see a fresh batch of rhubarb in there which then turned into a fun baking time with me and my son as we made this rhubarb strawberry pie recipe: (Not too bad for my first pie ever!)

We are also checking into a local farm for our meats and more. The kids are pretty excited about the trip to see the “pigs, chickens and cows” and it’s all they can talk about this week. As I find out more info on local farms, farmers markets, etc I’ll share these with you. And if you have found one either in the Chicagoland area or  elsewhere, feel free to leave the info as a comment on this posting so my other readers can check out those farms/farmer’s markets. Some of my friends have had success finding places through Eat Wild, Pick Your Own or Local Harvest.

I enjoyed reading this book so much that I even bought my MIL and SIL a copy for Mother’s Day. I hope that you are taking time out this month to getting in a little reading time for yourself, as well. And remember, I always give away two copies of what I’m reading each month so stayed tuned for the giveaway!

Giveaway: Simple Steps: 10 Weeks to Getting Control of Your Life Book – 2 Winners

As I mentioned earlier, my Book Pick for April was Simple Steps: 10 Weeks to Getting Control of Your Life: Health, Weight, Home, Spirit. I have found this to be a very inspiring book in the past and has helped me to get a little bit more order into my life.

What I’ve also found is that the book is more fun to do with someone else, and not just alone. So while I’m doing my typical monthly giveaway for two winners for my book choice, I’m giving those two winners two books each! This way, the winners can share in the fun with a friend, family member, etc.


NOTE: Beneath this posting is the word “Comments.” This is where you’ll put your entries. Only entries on this posting will be counted.

1) To enter the giveaway for the Simple Steps book, leave me a comment letting me know what is your biggest area of clutter in your house—the area you have a hard time keeping under control.

After that, here are other ways to enter: (Please, make sure that you submit extra comments if you do these.)

2) Subscribe to my email newsletter or RSS Feed and leave a separate comment letting me know you have done this. If you are already subscribed, thank you and make sure you leave a 2nd comment letting me know.

3) Follow me on Twitter and leave a separate comment letting me know you have done this. If you are already following, thank you and make sure you leave a 3rd comment letting me know.

4) Blog/Tweet about the giveaway. Make sure you come back and leave a separate extra comment letting me know that you’ve done this.

There are now a total of 4 entries per person! (Please be sure to leave separate entries for each one.)

Entry is open to US residents only through 11:59PM CST on Monday, May 3, 2010. Winner will be chosen using and contacted by email. If you’re the winner, you’ll have only 48 hours to respond or an alternate will be chosen.

Good luck to all of you who enter!

This giveaway is provided by Coupon Geek. Each month I giveaway two copies of the books that I choose for my Read With Us series.