October 22, 2016

Park yourself {Five Minute Friday}

I almost forgot about Five Minute Friday, because we are down here in Panama City Beach, FL keeping the Feast of Tabernacles with about 1100 other brethren. I'm busy with worship services, music practice, and family adventures--so I can hardly recall what day of the week it is! LOL. But here we go. 


When I think of park, I come up with three concepts.
1. A place to relax outside--with a playground maybe. A nature escape. (a noun)
2. The act of putting my car between two lines in a parking lot or on a road (a verb)
3. To put yourself in a place to stand still or sit. "park yourself here in the chair!" (a verb)

It's funny, but the first one of these that really hit me, was the third one. Park yourself. I always think about that in regards to going somewhere and STAYING there. Park...stay...Go there and stay there. 

When it comes to God and His way/truth/life, I want to PARK myself in His word. I want to go there and stay there. I did a search to see if the words park or stay are used in that sense in my Bible translation. They aren't. But I can find cases where I can read "remain" or "keep" in the same sense.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. ~John 15:4

Do you park yourself in God's word?
Do you do a focused attention to it and STAY in it every day?
I know I need to work on it. That's something that I am learning while down here listening to the messages. Over and over they are reminding us that we need to OWN our faith. To STAY in the faith. To PARK ourselves in God's word.

May God help me to do so.

Want to Join in?

We have a few more days left, and a lot more worship and adventures to do! I hope you and yours have a beautiful Sabbath day, gorgeous weekend, and blessed week!
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October 14, 2016

The Value of a Letter {Five Minute Friday}

Can you believe it's already the middle of October? This month is going to fly by for me, because it is the month when my family celebrates the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) with other brethren of our church. This year, we are heading down to Florida for a feast site--actually on our way right now! We eagerly await this annual week long Holy Day and are just bursting with excitement when it's time to pack up and leave. Even though we are on the road, I didn't want to forget to participate in this week's Five Minute Friday.


When I think of the word mail, I don't think about the junk. No, I think about the surprise letters. The ones that make you pause, fill you with curiosity, and then make you smile. Isn't it funny how mail has the power to ruin a good day, or make it the best day ever? More often than not, it seems we get more bad. This is why I am one of the few who regularly send out snail mail. I have a stack of stationary--always grabbing new packs too. You see, I've learned the value of a letter.

For some reason, God has granted me the knack of knowing WHO needs a letter. I love writing them--simple notes, long notes, funny notes, notes of sympathy. And I never quite know who will get a letter when I start out. So I pray before opening my address book--and then the names that jump out? Those are the receivers.

EVERY single time, I have received either a note in return, or a word from the person at church, effusive in their thanks for my words. Every time, my note arrived on a day when they desperately needed someone to care or share in their burdens. I have strengthened friendships with a single note. 

It didn't cost me anything but a stamp. 

Yet the value of that letter brought, was priceless.
That's not me.
That's God.

Want to Join in?
I hope that you and your family have a simply marvelous weekend! I hope to post a book review or two over the upcoming week, and maybe even share some photos of what we are up to down here. Right now, I'm just enjoying driving past the fields of cotton as we drive through Alabama. It's so unusual. My boys love seeing "real live" cotton pickers and the peanut harvesters. A nice change to the soybean, wheat, and corn combines we are used to.
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October 11, 2016

MyFreezEasy~Freezer Meals with Minimal Prep for the Busy Mom {Product Review}

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Are you a meal planner? Do you get a nice printout and add in all your meals for a week or month? Do you have a meal plan shopping list? I don't. I am NOT a meal planner. I have tried it over and over, and we just agree to disagree. I just hate being tied down to meal plans. LOL. Well, I guess I'm more of a leftover planner. I cook a big meal and then plan how long we can eat on it. Bwahahaha. I LOVE the idea of having meals in my freezer, but I just don't have the desire or time to plan it all out. And if I did, I'm afraid it would just be bag upon bag of taco meat and spaghetti. Nothing exciting or different. Needless to say, I didn't have high hopes for my review of MyFreezEasy and their MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership. Planning ahead, cooking once for multiple meals, and spending a portion of a day just prepping meals just doesn't seem to be my style...or is it? Could this review have changed my thoughts meal planning? Is it actually JUST what a busy mom like me needs?
MyFreezEasy~ Easy Freezer Meals for the Busy Mom {Review}

About MyFreezEasy

MyFreezEasy is the brainchild of Erin Chase, the creator of $5 Dinners. MyFreezEasy is all about providing busy families the meal plans they need to create TEN freezer meals for their family in just one hour of prep time. With the new freezer meal plans, she has designed a way to save you in cost of groceries, time, and sanity when it comes to providing good home cooked food for your family. The idea is simple. You sign up for one of her membership plans, and every month she will send you a meal plan right to your email, containing five customized meals for your family. Once you have purchased or gathered the ingredients, by spending ONE HOUR of your time, you can prepare TEN meals (2 meals per recipe) for your freezer. This in turn allows you to spend LESS time preparing dinner itself, yet still providing a wholesome meal for the family.

Memberships offered are the Basic Membership ($7/month, $77/yr) which includes access to 8 new Meal Plans each month including:
*Traditional Plan – 10 meals (a mix of each!)
*Gluten-Free Plan – 10 meals (totally gluten-free including sides)
*Slow Cooker Plan – 10 meals (all recipes are for your slow cooker)
*Clean Eats Plan – 10 meals: (all “clean ingredients”)
*20 Meals Plan – 20 meals (a mix of meals and meats)
*All Chicken Plan – 10 meals (all recipes include chicken breast/thighs)
*All Ground Beef Plan – 10 meals (all recipes use ground beef)
*All Pork Chops Plan – 10 meals (all recipes include pork chops)

Every month, you will get access to NEW meal plans, without worry about the same old boring repeats.

Worried that the recipes might not be something your family would eat? That's where the PREMIUM membership ($10/month, $95/yr)comes into play. With the Premium membership, you get to CREATE YOUR OWN meal plan. You can swap recipes in and out from the list of meal plans you receive each month to make sure you are getting EXACTLY what you want, with recipes you know your family will eat. Or just create your OWN meal plan! Did I mention you will even be able to adjust your serving sizes to get it the right size you need for your family?

Both memberships include printable labels (with cooking directions) for your filled freezer bags, shopping lists, videos for assembly and tips/tricks, dairy free and gluten free modifications on the recipes, and more!

I was given an annual subscription to the PREMIUM membership to use for my family.

How Did I Use It?

Okay. As I said, I was initially skeptical, but I was willing to give it a try. I LOVE to cook and just having new recipes was worth it to me. So I logged into my account and just dove in. I read some of the information about the program to get an idea of the feel of it. I liked the idea that they would provide me with detailed shopping lists for every meal--making it quick to see what I had or didn't have. I liked the variety of meal plans--we eat a LOT of ground beef (hello! We are a BEEF farm), but I'm always left with maybe just three ways I cook it. I liked the idea of a whole meal plan JUST for ground beef. Slow cooker? Oh yeah. I ADORE my slow cooker, so meal plans for that were very appealing as well. Once I got a feel for it, I picked a plan--the September Ground Beef one. 

Looking at it, I determined that we probably wouldn't eat all the things on it, so I decided to take advantage of my Premium membership and change it up! To give you an idea on how that process works, I will show you in pictures for OCTOBER'S meal plans since they are handy--I clicked the top of the webpage for "this month's meal plans" and I have the links to each--and links to their labels.

I clicked on "All ground beef meals" and the pdf with all the recipes and prep instructions opens up...
After I open it up, I look through the recipes, and I know my family won't be very excited about a few of these. So I need to swap. I hit the back arrow and it takes me back to the previous page--scrolling down I find the button I need.
Now I simply click on the Ground Beef Meal plan again from the list that comes up and start swapping!

I simply drag the meals OUT of the meal plan box at the right, and then drag in the meals from the choices at the left. Notice that it is here I can change serving size too! Oh, but what if I decide that I really want a chicken meal in here too...? No problem. By clicking "search categories" there at the top, I can visit a different meal plan category and continue the process there until I have the choices I like. If I want to peek at the recipes before adding them, I simply double click and a little window comes up to show me the recipe. (LOVE IT!) Once I have my meal plan put together (you don't have to have exactly five meals--you can have less), I can now hit "review and print"...

Now I can again adjust my servings if I desire, but if everything looks good, I can print my meal plan--and print my labels. OR, I can email it to myself to deal with later! If I don't like something I see, I can just go back and hit "select recipes" and change things out until it's how I want. 

Once you hit print, it gives you a download of all the meals in your plan--and now it's off to the kitchen! The meal plans have a basic set up--
You will always get not just the recipes, but the shopping lists in detail, assembly prep instructions, and meal assembly instructions so you don't have to try to work it out on your own. 

Once I printed out my packet, I looked through the recipes to see how they are put together and I noticed something I REALLY liked--every recipe gives you directions for making it NOW and for prepping it to make later. This is important to me, because I have learned that my family is picky, and it's always wise to TRY a meal before freezing one for later. I actually learned that the hard way WITH MyFreezEasy. I did up a freezer bag for the Basil Balsamic Chicken. Turns out, no one really liked it very much. If I had made it first before freezing a batch, I would have learned that before wasting space in my freezer. Fortunately, I had only made one batch.
Ready to Freeze

Ready to eat the Basil Balsamic Chicken

Just serve with salad and potatoes and bam! Easy meal!

I have made the Sloppy Dogs {Topping}, Black Bean Soup, Lazy Lasagna Bake, Basic Balsamic Chicken, Upside Down Nachos, and Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff. In my freezer, I currently have two bags of Beef Stroganoff. I had Sloppy Dogs {Topping} and Black Bean Soup, but loved pulling them out to use them--when I needed to come up with two separate potluck dishes! 

My Thoughts

Okay, it's easy.
I am a believer. NOW I see why freezer prep meals are so loved by those who do them! They save all the time in the world on those nights when you are just too busy, or just uninspired to cook. Even though I am someone who LOVES cooking large meals for my family--I only make from scratch and do it nearly every day--there are nights I'm just too tired! Now I can just go to my freezer and pick from a meal that is there, knowing I have very MINIMAL prep to do when I'm ready to serve it! And let's talk about potlucks. Does your church do a lot of potlucks? Mine does. About once a month. I hate the "what on earth am I going to make??!" process that happens about 2 days before. This month, I just went to my freezer and pulled out Sloppy Dogs {Topping} for the one I knew there would be hotdogs at, and then the Black Bean Soup for the other. Easy peasy. I actually through them each in the crockpot instead of cooking it on the stove for even more simplicity!

The boys declare the Black Bean Soup to be the best so far. My oldest ate it 5 days in a row. Oh and speaking of that. One batch of Black Bean soup ended up making TWELVE bowls. A four serving recipe, served TWELVE bowls! That's fantastic! We've found that across the board, the 4 serving recipes are enough to feed us one night PLUS at least a lunch/dinner another day. 

Love-Of-My-Life has declared the Sloppy Dogs {Topping} to be his favorite so far. I LOVE that the recipe tells you to use the sloppy joe sauce in a can BUT also gives you the FROM SCRATCH recipe to make it yourself. YES PLEASE! It was soooo good! Everyone who had it at the potluck kept coming to tell me how good it was.

Are there any cons?
My primary con is that every chicken meal calls for BONELESS meat. I don't always have boneless on hand, and actually I find boneless costs more in the store. BUT as a cook, I know that the primary reason for boneless is the time it takes to make. It just takes less time. And there are some meals that just need it. BUT I would appreciate a note saying that boneless isn't always necessary for the recipe. 

There was also a case where there was a minor ingredient mess up, but I could easily figure it out--and I learned that the owner Erin Chase, wants all mess ups sent to her, so she can get them fixed.

(there is also a FANTASTIC Facebook group to help members out with any questions they might have)

I also wanted to mention--for those with food allergies, this meal plan really has you covered. There are meals for gluten-free, dairy free, soy free, vegetarian meals, Paleo/Whole 30...almost any diet you need to follow is able to use these meal plans and there are recommendations for changes on every recipe if possible. 

Now as for the 10 meals in one hour. It's true. Unlike many recipes, the cooking is minimal. So far the only cooking i had to do was just brown some ground beef before bagging it up. That doesn't take much time at all! I did 5 meals in about 25-30 minutes, so I am sure that 10 meals in 1 hr or less is accurate--especially if you follow the assembly directions to make it as smooth of a process as possible. My boys helped me out a couple days filling bags with things I had cut up and portioned out.

Here are some photos from my adventure with MyFreezEasy:
Portioning my ground beef

Filling the bags with the ingredients
He gives the upside down beef nachos a thumbs up
A new family favorite

Lazy Lasagna Bake--cheesy!

So...Will I Continue to Use this Product?
Absolutely! I have so much fun looking through the recipes, and it has taught me that planning ahead for my freezer isn't rocket science, and has given me more ideas on how to do it with some of our family favorite recipes I'm already making. And with the recipes provided, I already have been tweaking them to match our tastes--making them even more perfect for our family!

Would I Recommend MyFreezEasy?

Yes! At just $10 a month, it's worth having it all laid out for you. NO trying to come up with ideas on your own. The ability to create your own plans or tweak pre-made ones is fabulous. I love the shopping lists, the easy to assemble directions, and the labels! I truly will consider furthering my membership when it runs out because it has been eye-opening and very very helpful to me. I am a mom who LOVES TO COOK--yet I see how valuable something like this is, because I am also a very very busy mom. But I have time to prepare TEN freezer meals in 1 hr or less because that time saves me HOURS later during the week.

Did I mention she's in the middle of creating an app for your phone??! Hello! Even more time saving there!

Want to Know More?

I have LOVED reviewing the MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy. You have seem some of the meals that we have cooked and grown to love, but that was just a tiny peak at all there was to offer--make sure you visit the other crew members to see the tastiness they cooked up for THEIR freezers!
MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
You can stay up with all the latest information from MyFreezEasy on these social media outlets:



So long story short, I was surprised at how much this program WORKED for me and my family and how it gave me a new way to think about meal planning. It's not about a menu for a month. It's about picking a day to prepare it all--so you don't have to do much later. And most of these meals ended up being the "dump and go" style which is a dream for me! I'm such a low maintenance cook. LOL. My family is really enjoying all these meals and we look forward to exploring more and more of them as I continue to fill up my freezer!
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