Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Review: More Markus Zusak

First: Fighting Ruben Wolfe: 

  This book was ok. Not one of Zusak's better works. It's a good book for teen boys. I think they could relate to it more than others. Thankfully, I teach a class of teen boys. I shared this with them through a book talk and they seemed interested.  Essentially, brothers in a family that is going through a tough time learn the importance of family and brotherhood. Is it a must read? No. Is it terrible? Not terrible, but not one I would read again or highly recommend.

Next up: I am the Messenger

  This is another book by Markus Zusak (author of "The Book Thief"). It's actually much better than Ruben Wolfe. I would recommend reading it. It's not incredible, but it has a good message to it (no pun intended). Ed is a cab driver who stops a bank robbery. He is then spun into a whirlwind of activity when he is given cards with weird names, addresses, authors on the card. He learns (the hard way) that he has tasks to complete related to each of the cards. Ed's tasks range from simple good samaritan activities to yikes- I wouldn't do that activities. Some are easy, others are not so much. I enjoyed seeing how Ed grew throughout the book and how it affected those around him- if it did at all. I enjoyed the book. I liked that the chapters were broken into the deck of cards. For example, the ace of diamonds part is broken into chapters 2, 3, 4 all of hearts.

Overall, both books have entertainment value. Of the two, I would choose I am the Messenger. Would I highly recommend either? Not really, but Messenger is kind of fun.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Product Review & Give Away!!! Hurry! 9/30 response date.

I received the honor of being asked to do a product review. Those of you who know me, know that I enjoy to try different things. It's a nice way to check out something new. So, when this product review was tossed my way, I certainly was up to the task.  New stuff is fun to learn about and share with others! :) After all, this is Sharing Cheri!

A friend of mine sells Scentsy warmers and bars. I had no clue what they were until she asked if I would review one. I'm very thankful that I did! I think it's adorable and yet functional and safe.

One day after a long day of teaching, I came home to this big box....

When I opened the box, I was very excited to see that the warmer and scent bars I ordered came. Let me tell you, this was in record time. I think I had placed the order about 4 days prior and received the product that quickly- definitely within a week.

I opened the warmer box (since that is the decor part of the process) to see how the warmer looked in person. I had seen it online and it was CUTE! In person, just as beautiful as I thought and a great match for our living room. I must admit, I had a hard time choosing and ultimately told Amy which warmers I liked best from the numerous choices (color, style, etc) available. She then chose the warmer for me at my request.

Assembling was easy. Screw in the light bulb (which came with the product), place on shelf, put the bar holder on top, plug in, turn on and enjoy!

I put it on the shelf in our living room, but hubby wasn't happy with the light on the wall. The warmers have holes in the base since the heat from the light bulb needs to escape. I like the glow it places on the shelf and wall, but hubby felt it was a spotlight. If you look at the pic, I have to agree that one spot on the wall does look a little..... bright/standoutish.

That's no problem to solve. We can always move it.

Next, it was time to find out what was up with the insulated bag. The insulated bag held all the wonderful fragrance bars in it. The three fragrances I ordered were coconut lemongrass, honey pear cider and blueberry cheesecake. Let me just tell you, I wanted to open the blueberry cheesecake and eat it. It smelled scrumptious to say the least. BTW, the bag can be reused for cold groceries when grocery shopping! :) Bonus! 

I didn't know which scent bar to start with, so I asked the little guy for assistance. Note to self: don't do it again... although he did choose a really good scent- honey pear cider. He kept trying them over and over. So cute. Mommy's big helper.

Yep... this one mommy.

Since it was getting late, I opted to not melt a scent and went to bed. The next day, I couldn't wait to get home and try one. I put in coconut lemongrass. It was a dismal, cool day and I wanted to remember summer. It wasn't my favorite. I melted it for about 4 hours and it still had plenty of scent to go around for another day. Great... now what?

The packaging instructions said I could pour the melted wax back into the bar container. That seemed a little odd and quite messy. I had flashbacks of hot wax all over my skin from a candle. To my surprise, the wax wasn't that hot, but it wasn't too easy to pour back in. I opted to do what Amy advised- let the wax cool in the warmer then use a knife to work around the edges so the disk would pop out. That was amazing! It worked. I placed the disk into a ziploc baggie and it was ready for use the next day. Yippee skippy!

The next day we tried honey pear cider, which is so homey and comforting. My favorite scent. The following day we tried Blueberry cheesecake... At least it smelled like I was baking even if I didn't! What a fantastic scent that was! While I changed the scent daily, I was able to save the disk for future warming as the scent was still in the disk. I think we got a total of 10 hours out of honey pear cider and 12 out of blueberry cheesecake. It was over a couple of hours a couple days. Minimum warming time was 3 hours (5-8p).

Changing the scents was easy and using the warmer was even easier. Simply plug in and flick the switch.

A safety note: at no time did I fear for Everett's safety with a flame. I don't use candles any longer because I don't want him to burn himself. This is the perfect alternative to candles. There is no flame to deal with and  thewax isn't incredibly hot to the touch. The one thing I did fear was he would break the warmer. That was it. Knocking off the lid and breaking it.

Other things about this product:
1. No ugly things sticking out of the wall outlets
2. No ugly sprayers on the shelf attempting to be hidden by other things (pictures, etc.)
3. Easy to store the scent bars- I put them in my organizer basket and they fit perfectly. They would easily fit in a drawer and stack easily too.
4. Fits with decor of home- with many styles to choose from, you can easily find one to fit in your home.
5. Pretty good value at $5 per bar and each bar having 8 cubes. Burning 1 cube lasted me an average of 11 hours. 88 hours of fragrance for $5 with no ugliness or chance of getting burned... SOLD!
6. Large variety of scent bars to choose from....

1. I missed just walking in and having a welcoming scent greet me. I have to actually turn this on? No big deal though.
2. The light on the wall can be bothersome, but if you move it to another location, it's fine. So, really, no issue. This could also depend on the warmer you choose. Some have fewer holes in them. I just loved this one though!
3. It's hard to choose a scent. There are sooooo many delightful ones. (Is that a downside???)

So, wanna get your hands on one of these gems? Here's what you do: Sinply visit Amy's Scentsy page, click email me, fill out the form putting sharing cheri review in the subject line. Your name is all that is needed in the text box.  Click submit and you're entered. If you would like to leave a comment here too that would ensure a back up system in case something goes wrong with email. We'll announce the winner of a $30 gift card soon! All entries must be received by Sept. 30, 2011.

Meal plan week of 9-25

Sorry it's been a while. Things have been a little hectic with hubby starting a new job and kiddo in daycare. Trying to get used to this new routine is causing some things to fall by the wayside. Last week's meal plan was super simple and basic. I didn't post it and it ended up all jumbled and thrown away anyway.
This week should be a little better. Here it is:
Sunday: Potato & green bean soup (we're all sick and this sounded soothing)
Monday: Broccoli Rabe pasta from Taste of Home. I'll be adding cut up rotisserie chicken to it for more protein.
Tuesday: Parent teacher conference night. No cooking here. It's leftover day or find what you can night.
Wednesday: Fish bake from a new blog I enjoy. This could be a disaster as I can never cook fish properly.
Thursday: Meatloaf (loaded with extra veggies since the kiddo doesn't eat them anymore), julienne potatoes and cauliflower (yummmmm!!!)
Friday: Out
Saturday: Calzones

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Meals for a week! :)

Have you ever watched Food Network and the cook is making a week’s worth of meals from one main dish and thought  “yeah, right”? I have many times. So, when I set up last week’s meal plan, I decided to arrange it around that idea. The result: I LOVED it! It was sooo easy to do AND made making other meals easy too.  There was 0 temptation for ordering out- yes, I do that at times.

Here’s how it went:

 Sunday, I bought a whole chicken at Giant Eagle. At BOGO, I wasn’t going to pass it up; plus, I needed to use my foodperks before they expired.

Monday was roast in the crock pot. I figured since we were going to have chicken 3 days in a row, we’d want some red meat first.

Tuesday morning, I rinsed the chicken off and took out the giblets inside- making sure to rinse the cavity really well.  Threw it in the crockpot with about a cup of water. I wanted to have some broth for chicken soup on Thursday.  Got home, the house smelled scrumptious and we had chicken, long grain rice and green beans. Delish! The hardest part on this day was getting the chicken out of the crock pot. It’s really tender and falls apart easily.

  How to remove the meat from the bones…. Just lift the chicken out of the pot! Literally, the bones fall out. I simply took the bones out and put them on 1 plate and the meat on another. Some pieces were a little messy but it didn’t take terribly long- say 15 min total.  I then shredded the chicken and separated it evenly into two 1 qt bags that were labeled according to the meal.  You could freeze it at this point if you wanted, but I knew I was going to use it so I just put it in the fridge.

Wednesday:  Grabbed the bag of chicken for enchiladas and tossed the chicken into the skillet with the spices, salsa/tomatoes mixture and anything else. When it was warmed, I put it in tortilla shells and then wrapped it, placing it neatly in the pan seam side down. I poured the enchilada sauce over it and then baked it for 15 minutes. The whole meal took 25 minutes to cook- including beans.  We had some left for 2 lunches (a total of 8 enchiladas- depending on the size of shell you use you could get more or less).

Thursday: Took out the bag of chicken and added it to the ingredients for homemade chicken noodle soup. Bought nice crusty French bread. Let everything cook for about 25 min (start to finish) and all was good.

Thanks to my friend, Anna, who brought me some of the most delicious zucchini bread. It was a perfect dessert!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More Wisdom

Yesterday I visited one of my favorite sites: nesting place. I just love the Nester and I'm not ashamed to say it! She has such great posts and decorating ideas. The creativity oozes from her (or at least she will post things that inspire her creativity which is always nice).

 The post yesterday described me EXACTLY! When I read it to hubby, he said "Wow. That's definitely YOU!" Ya see, I always have great ideas, but I'm always hesitant to implement them as I fear that I will fail... yes, I said it. I'm afraid of failure. It just wears at my self-confidence like crazy.

So, I decided once I finish my jewelry storage unit, I'm moving out of revamping a room for under $100 to painting the dining room. It probably won't get painted until October when I have a little extra time as I'm super busy with school right now. If I could just get the paint and slop put it on, everything else will flow. If you want to learn about me, check out Nester's post here.

Oh yeah, I was going to give some hints as to colors I'm thinking, but I need to heed Nester's advice and not care what others think. I might feel better that way.... but that's hard to do!

God in His infinite wisdom

It's been a long 2 years. For those of you who aren't aware, my son was born the last week of June. My husband took care of the little guy and me so well while I was recovering. He took one week off work. When he returned to work 9 days later, he was told he was being laid off. Thankfully, he was granted a decent severance package.

  We figured that he would be able to find a job by the time the severance ran out. Boy were we wrong! It's been much longer than we expected. He had some job offers, but when you figure in the cost of childcare, we would be paying out far more than we brought in. That's not a good place either. We declined a few jobs because working for just over minimum wage will not pay for childcare and we do not qualify for any assistance as I make just a little too much for any assistance.

As I look back at this time, I have to thank God for it. He's just amazing. Because of my hubby's lay off, I've learned the art of couponing and been able to share it with others (even a stint on TV), my son has been extremely well taken care of and is one of the greatest kids I've ever met (so I may be biased), we've met many wonderful people through the moms group my husband joined, we've been blessed with many family and friends who support us with prayer, words of encouragement, meals, clothing for the little guy, time spent together and countless other little blessings. Clearly, what was meant for harm, was turned to good. I guess we live by "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade".

None of this is easy to admit or go through, but God is good. His timing for everything is perfect and He will see that all things work out. I love Him and thank Him for all He has done for us. Without Christ, I fear we, as a family, would not have made it.
Happy together! BTW, check out that beautiful scenery!

God is good. We prayed for a job for the past 2 years. This summer a family member told us of an opening. Hubby applied. 8 weeks after the initial interview (and several others plus A LOT of waiting- patience is not our forte), God supplied us with a job. Not just any job, but a job where hubby may be really successful and grow. A job with bonuses, benefits, close to home and family values. The week prior to this, Jer. 33:3 showed up EVERYWHERE I turned. We called... He answered and Ephesians 3:20-21 answer. Yes, He does infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Thank you to our family, but even more- Thank You, Jesus, for your constant goodness in our lives even when we can't see it and don't understand. You alone are AMAZING!

Please pray as we make a decision on a child care provider. This is the "last" step in this process. Once the kiddo is taken care of, it's a matter of figuring out schedules and such.

Please learn from us, rely on God. His ways are NOT our ways, but they are what is best for us. Of this, I'm certain even though I often question and do not understand. It's not meant for us to understand, simply follow and believe. Trust Him, for He is good.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Meal plan 9/12... a little late!

Sorry! Another one that's a little late. It's been a very busy weekend and the next 2 weekends are jam packed with birthday parties, our 11th wedding anniversary, and play dates. I want to squeeze in apple picking too, but with the rain, I don't know if we'll be able to do that yet.

Monday: roast with carrots, onions, celery, potatoes in crock pot.
Tuesday: whole chicken in the crock pot. I love doing this as the chicken falls right off the bones and you can easily shred etc from there. Chicken, mashed potatoes, and broccoli.
Wednesday: chicken enchiladas with Spanish rice and refried beans
Thursday: chicken tortilla soup (using left over filling from enchiladas)
Friday: out
Saturday: birthday party, but chorizo rice dish- I'm gonna create my own concoction. I'll let you know how that goes.
Sunday: Pulled pork sandwiches for football! :)

BTW, I almost had buyer's remorse at Giant Eagle until I saved $80 on groceries! $200 worth for $120.  How did I ever shop without coupons? My best trip, no, but definitely decent considering all the meat I bought (2 roasts, 1 pork roast, 3 pounds ground beef, and 2 whole chickens).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Still here.... meal plan (I guess you could call it that).

Things have been very hectic in our home lately with school starting back, searching for a childcare provider and other happenings - sick child for a month with unexplained issues.

Anyway, due to the amount of meetings we have this week and the short week, the meal plan is really easy and simple.
Tuesday: birthday party dinner for my uncle at Grandma's
Wednesday: chili  (pre-cooked beef since we have appointments in evening)
Thursday: mozzarella chicken (essentially chicken parm with grilled chicken instead of breaded) OR chicken tortilla soup (depending on the amount of time we have)
Friday: out
Saturday: left overs

I'll be blogging about life, myself, and cool finds online over the next few posts. They will be spread out and done as I have time. Oh! I'm' almost finished with that room I'm trying to redo at under $100. Okay... so it was a redo under $50 but something I found for a great deal put me just over $70. I shouldn't have much more to finish up and should be well under $100 for the room makeover. Woo hoo!!