Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: Home A Stranded Novel

Home A Stranded Novel
Home A Stranded Novel by Theresa Shaver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had already read the first two books in this series, and so my natural tendency is to continue to the end of the series. With this particular series, I have been in awe of the talent of the author. The realism and portrayal of humanity at is core has kept me coming back as I follow along with each group of students as they escape California during a total technological meltdown that literally paralyzes the North American Continent. With the ending of the last two books fresh in my mind, I was more than anxious to begin reading Home.

I really enjoyed the action in this book. I thought it was well put together and wrapped up the first two books nicely. I felt that the end was perfect and I was really able to connect with each of the characters. I felt like the book could have used some more editing, but knowing that Theresa Shaver is an indie author, I know many of those books are self-edited, so I tried to have patience when I found a sentence that caused me to stumble. All in all it was a great book!!

“Our parents have always been there to take care of us and fix any major problems we’ve had but now we have to fix our problems instead. I guess this means we’re grownups now.” - Alex (Home by Theresa Shaver)

To read my full review, please visit The Reflective Reader by clicking here.

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Review: Sea A Stranded Novel Book 2)

Sea A Stranded Novel Book 2)
Sea A Stranded Novel Book 2) by Theresa Shaver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First Impressions:
After reading the first book in this series, I couldn’t help but want to read the sequel. I liked the idea that this book took on the adventure of the group of kids that choose to separate from the others and go by boat their hometown in Canada. After the hazards that the first group encountered, and the knowledge that the sea bound kids were not exactly friends had me edgy in anticipation as to how successful their travels would turn out.

I was completely enthralled by the drama between this group of five kids as they made their way out of California and on to the open ocean, headed for British Columbia, Canada. The confinement and isolation of the gaggle of teens on the Lawless only intensified their contrasting personalities. When they come upon a small life boat with the bodies of two dead men, reality begins to set in as they question their own survival skills.

I really felt the reality of this story as it was portrayed through the eyes of these five teenagers. The desperation to get home to safety and the obstacles they faced I felt were true to life and completely believable.

I thought this book was a wonderful balance of reality and life lessons. It was a perfect companion to the first book that really showed the maturity and efficiency of teamwork during difficult times. The struggles and insecurities of these characters seemed very true to life to me and I really enjoyed them! I definitely recommend this book...I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

To read my whole review, visit The Reflective Reader by clicking here.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

22 Meals for two for only $80.00

My husband has recently had to take to traveling for work. Although its been great for our family, it does present some issues, when it leaves us trying to essentially feed two separate households.

The last time he left town, my daughter and I lived pretty much on frozen dinners and sandwiches, and my husband on Bologna sandwiches with potato chips. By the end of the week, we were all burned out and ready for a home cooked meal.

This time around, I decided to try something new. Ive seen all sorts of crock-pot meals on pinterest that looked amazing. Knowing that my husband could easily warm his food in the crock-pot while at work, right there in the hotel, I decided to fix us all some decent meals. I divided all the meals in half, and portioned them out so there would be enough for 2 adults (my husband and his brother are working together during their trips away from home).

Below, is a list of the recipes I made. I fixed all 22 meals within an hour!!

My Homemade Chili (yields 2 meals) {I doubled the recipe to make 4 meals}
1 lb of ground meat (I use dear, hamburger, pork or turkey)
1 lb can of diced tomatoes (juice drained)
2 lb can of light kidney beans (drained)
1 tbs onion powder (or a small onion diced if you have one)
1/8 c brown sugar
2 tbs cumin
3 tbs chili powder
1 tbs minced garlic (I keep a jar of pre-minced garlic on hand in the fridge)

Brown ground meat and put all ingredients in a ziplock for storage. Cook in a crock-pot on low all day or simply put in in a large soup pot on medium/high heat for 30 - 45 minutes until heated through.

Chicken Pastry (Per-Cooked) (yields 3 meals)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 cups of water
1 pkg Flat Dumplings (freezer section)
1 tbs salt
1 tbs pepper

Boil the chicken in 8 cups of water with salt and pepper until cooked through. Remove chicken. Add the flat dumplings to the chicken broth. The package comes in sections of 3. I criss-cross them through the water to keep them from sticking. Adding 3 every 2 min or so until the whole pack is in the broth. I stir lightly with a fork every 5 min or so, cooking the dumplings for about 18 min. While the pastry cooks I use 2 forks to shred the chicken . After 18 min, I add the chicken back to the pot and cook for another 5 min. Then remove from heat and let it cool before putting in a ziplock for storage. To warm, simply microwave or put in a pot with a small amount of water until heated through.

Jambalaya (pre-cooked) (yields 2 meals)
1 pkg Hillshire Farms Smoked Sausage
1 pkg Zannarans Jambalaya mix
3 tbs oil (I use olive oil, but vegetable oil works well too)

Slice up sausage and set aside. Cook jumbilia mix per instructions with oil. Once finished add sausage and mix together before putting in ziplock for storage. To warm, simply mirowave or put in a pot with a small amount of water until heated through.

Spaghetti (pre-cooked) (yields 2 meals)
1 lb ground meat (deer, hamburger, pork or turkey)
1 can of the cheapest spaghetti sauce available (I use meat flavored)
1/4 pkg of spaghetti noodles
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tsp of onion powder (or small diced onion if you have one on hand)
2 tsp each (Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano)

Brown the ground meat. Once browned, add the can of spaghetti sauce. Put garlic, onion, thyme, rosemary and oregano in sauce and simmer on low while the noodles cook. Once the noodles are done. Drain and put in ziplock. Pour meat/sauce mixture over noodles and seal.

Black Bean, Corn and Salsa Crock-Pot Chicken (yields 2 meals)
2 cans of black beans
2 cans of corn
1 pkg taco seasoning
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup salsa
3/4 cup of water

Drain black beans and corn. Put all ingredients in a ziplock and store in freezer. Cook on low all day.

Chicken Teriyaki (yields 2 meals)
1 lrg bag of baby carrots
1 red onion sliced in large chunks
2 cans crushed pineapple
4 tbs minced garlic (or 4 cloves)
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup teriyaki sauce

Drain pineapple. Put all ingredients in a ziplock and store in freezer. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Slow Cooker chicken with Apples & Rosemary (yields 2 meals)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 apples, peeled and sliced
1 squirt of lime juice (per bag)
1/2 onion diced
2 tbs spoons of rosemary
*salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a ziplock and store in freezer. Cook on low for 6 - 8 hours.

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Apples and Sweet Potatoes (yields 2 meals)

4 pork chops (I used boneless pork loin chops)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced in large chunks
4 apples peeled and sliced
1/2 onion diced
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbs balsamic vinegar (optional)
*salt and pepper to taste

Assemble all ingredients in a ziplock and store in the freezer. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Apples and Carrots (yields 2 meals)

4 pork chops (I used boneless pork loin chops)
1/2 large bag (or 1 small bag) of baby carrots
4 apples peeled and sliced
1/2 onion diced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Assemble in a ziplock and freeze. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

This was amazingly easy to assemble!! Now I have over 2 weeks worth of meals for less than $100!!! Below is the purchasing information from my shopping excursion (note: I keep a plethora of spices on hand at all times. I also keep ground meat in the freezer, for these meals I used ground turkey purchased for about $2.50/lb).

Frozen Dairy

Old Fashioned Flat Dumplings



Canned Pineapple                          (1.29 x 2)
Canned Kidney Beans                    (2.39 x 2)
Canned Black Beans                       (0.68 x 2)
Canned Diced Tomatoes                 (1.49 x 2)
Canned Corn                                (0.68 x 2)
Can of Spaghetti Sauce                        
Teriyaki Sauce    
Taco Seasoning  
Jambalaya Mix



Smoked Sausage
Boneless Thin Pork Chops
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (6lb bag)
(7.39 x 2)

1 Jumbo Red Onion                                        
2 Large Sweet Potatoes                                  
4lbs Apples                                                    
3lbs Yellow Onions
Lime Juice              
2 lb Bag Baby Carrots                     (3 x 2.99)


Subtotal            $76.77
Tax                       1.61
Final Total:       $78.38

Do you have any fantastic freezer meals to share?? Id love to get more recipes to add to my collection!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Exploding Microwaves

I learned something new today....

Did you know that water can explode in the microwave?!?

All the kids were at school today (yeah for a new school year!) so I decided to give the kitchen a good deep clean after the last 3 months of rushed wipe-downs and the kind of neglect that comes from a busy house full of little ones.

I had already cleaned the counters and run a load of dishes from the morning and the few cups left from last night. So once the baby was awake and playing quietly in her playpen watching Mickey Mouse, I decided to put the clean dishes away and clean the microwave.

I placed a small glass bowl (microwave safe, btw) filled half way with water and a small dime size drop of dish soap in the the microwave for 3 min. This is something I have done for years. The process causes the soapy water to boil slightly and essentially steam cleans the microwave so even the worst stuck on food is easy to wipe out, leaving the microwave spic-and-span.

While the microwave was running, I had the music on, singing along and was just about to put one of the plates up in the cabinet when BOOM! The microwave door blows wide open, slinging warm soapy water all over the stove, counter and floor! I guess I had instinctively shielded myself with the plate, because I had it held up in front of my face and it was dripping with soapy water.

Who knew that cleaning the microwave could be such an action packed adventure!!!

Here is a video I found on youtube.com when I was trying figure out how I managed to create this homemade explosion in my kitchen....Freaked me out! Im sure glad the kids weren't home, and no one got hurt! I'll be finding a new way to clean my microwave from now on!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Reflective Reader

I have decided to change some things. I am keeping all of our personal family posts here on My Domestic Vestige. Leaving all of our family, home and craft postings in one place.

To keep things better organized, all of my book reviews and readings are being moved to another location. Check out  The Reflective Reader and follow along. I have included some nice features, including a calendar to help you keep up with release dates and tours, an Author page with quick links to each authors official website, a group with goodreads.com and a link to my personal library.

More features will be added as time goes by!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Heaven is for Real? (Movie & Book)

Last night my husband and I watched "Heaven Is For Real" together. I had heard about the book before. But honestly I had no interest in reading something that deep...

I have my faith, but I have never considered myself a "religious" person. So this post is not intended to describe my views, or impress any on you. It is however my thoughts and feelings about the movie, with an invitation to you to join me...

Have you seen it? Cause WOW after watching this movie, I was left with goose bumps and a sort of unsettled feeling. Not in a scary or negative way...but more of the way you feel when are learning something for the first time and are unsure and not quite as confident as you would like to be.

It raised a lot of questions. What is it like? Is more of a personal perception or more definitive like visiting Central Park in New York (everyone sees the same things). I also feel like there are questions simmering under the surface that I haven't realized I want to ask yet.

These are all questions that I don't actually expect answers to. But it made me think beyond "yes there is a heaven". I now want to read the book! I know, as an avid reader, any movie based on a book never quite does the book justice. There are just some things you can put on paper, that you cant put on the silver screen.

So my questions to you are...Have you seen the movie? Did it affect you? Have you read the book? What did you think? Did it inspire something in you or did you relate to anything?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday at the gun club

We spent the morning at the gun club with John and the guys.

The girls really enjoyed the time outside, and Kalynn even caught a dragonfly! It was fun watching the guys brush up on their skills...rooting them on as the went.

Sometimes it's all about getting out and spending time doing not much at all.