Month of Meals: 30 Minute Meal Plans

Month of Meals: 30 Minute Meal Plans by Jessica FisherMonth of Meals: 30 Minute Meal Plans by Jessica Fisher

Fisher has a new thing going on right now: A themed “Month of Meals” plan. July’s theme? 30 Minute Meals. And it’s only available in July – if this looks good to you, grab it before the month is over.

Meal time is still a big issue for me, for various reasons, but one of the best things I’ve figured out to make it easier is to have trusted resources for all-but-guaranteed dinner success. Fisher is one of those resources for me. Her recipes fit our tastes, and I trust them to turn out well.

I like this new plan she’s pulled together. The recipes aren’t new as far as I can tell, but they’re nicely organized together into 4 weekly plans. Recipes are included, so you won’t need internet access once you’ve downloaded the plan.

My only real complaint is that there are enough pictures scattered throughout that it makes it hard to print, for those who prefer working off a hard copy. If you’ve got a tablet and can work from that, this shouldn’t be an issue. For me, I’d rather there be a printable version at the end, with no pictures, to save on ink.

I like that there are 5 shopping lists included – one for each week, and one for the entire month. You know, in case you’re buying in bulk so it’ll be easy to get all the staples you’ll need. I also like the weekly prep tips and leftover suggestions – ideas for what to do with the little bits that often end up languishing in my fridge until I toss them.

The $9 price tag on this feels a tiny bit high, although it helps if I re-frame it and think of it as saving one night of take-out it’ll more than pay for itself. I’d still rather see it at $8 max – then it’s $2/week and appeals to my likes-things-nice-and-even side. Yes. I’m ridiculous. ๐Ÿ™‚

And hey! Heads-up if you like Fisher’s recipes as much as I do. Her newest book, Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less: Fresh, Fast, and Flavorful Home-Cooked Meals, with More Than 200 RecipesGood Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less: Fresh, Fast, and Flavorful Home-Cooked Meals, with More Than 200 Recipes by Jessica Fisher, is available for pre-order right now for it’s early September release. You know I already ordered my copy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Disclosure: I received this book for free for review (but I pre-ordered the other one myself). I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Books on Parenting, Pregnancy, and Babies

Parenting Pregnancy BabiesThe Steady Mom's Freedom GuideThe Steady Mom’s Freedom Guide: Joyful Motherhood on Your Own TermsThe Steady Mom's Freedom Guide: Joyful Motherhood on Your Own Terms by Jamie C. Martin by Jamie Martin

A surprising hit! I’ve been underwhelmed in the past with some of her material. Maybe the timing was just wrong before, because I’m really enjoying this book, and I’m glad I didn’t skip over it. Encouraging and inspiring.

On the Road to Joyful MotherhoodOn the Road to Joyful Motherhood by Jessica Fisher

I’ve already written about this one before, and I always find Fisher’s books worth reading. Like Martin’s book above, this one is also really encouraging. (Maybe I’m in a stage where I need all the encouragement I can get?)

My Practices of MotheringMy Practices of Mothering: the things I actually do to enjoy mothering tiniesMy Practices of Mothering: the things I actually do to enjoy mothering tinies by Sarah Bessey by Sarah Bessey

Mixed feelings towards this one, but the positives are so strong that I have to include it here. It’s thoughtful and gentle, and reminded me just a bit of Loving the Little Years (which is high praise indeed.)

The Baby CompanionThe Baby Companion: A Faith-Filled Guide for Your Journey through Baby’s First YearThe Baby Companion: A Faith-Filled Guide for Your Journey through Baby's First Year by Jessica Wolstenholm, Dr. Andrea Johnston, and Dr. Heather Rupe by Jessica Wolstenholm, Dr. Andrea Johnston, and Dr. Heather Rupe

I have three kids. Do I really need a book focusing on the baby’s first year? Not exactly, but I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve forgotten, and a quick refresher on when exactly I should be expecting certain things to take place is helpful. Maybe then I wouldn’t have been caught off guard by the inconsolable baby, only to have her big brother point out that “hey! She’s got teeth!” Whoops. Yeah, teething. It’s a stage.

The Pregnancy CompanionThe Pregnancy Companion: A Faith Filled Guide for Your Journey to MotherhoodThe Pregnancy Companion: A Faith Filled Guide for Your Journey to Motherhood by Jessica Wolstenholm and Dr. Heather Rupe by Jessica Wolstenholm and Dr. Heather Rupe

My pregnancy days are behind me (talk about bittersweet feelings!), but I was obsessed with reading these sorts of books with my first pregnancy, and would have devoured this one. Know anyone who might want it? I have a PDF copy I won’t be using and I’d be happy to email it to the first one who asks.

Why Does My Breast Milk Taste Bad?Why Does My Breast Milk Taste Bad? One Momโ€™s Journey to Overcoming Excess Lipase Activity by Rebekah Hoffer

Highlighting this one just for the FYI factor. I had *no* idea this was even a thing.


Sound good? Individually these books would sell for over $40, but right now they’re part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, a collection of eBooks, eCourses, audios, online conferences, and printable packs.

Instead of paying that $43 for these titles, you can buy the bundle and get them all for $29.97, plus a whole lot more (like those resources mentioned yesterday!)

Plus, there are some great bonus offers if you purchase a bundle – like 1 FREE Kids Discovery Box from Green Kid Crafts ($19.95 Value)

But don’t wait! The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle will only be available from 8:00 a.m. EST on Monday, April 20 until 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, April 27.Click here for more info or to buy now.

Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you purchase a bundle using my link. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Cooking the Book: Good Cheap Eats

Good Cheap EatsGood Cheap Eats: Everyday Dinners and Fantastic Feasts for $10 or LessGood Cheap Eats: Everyday Dinners and Fantastic Feasts for $10 or Less by Jessica Fisher by Jessica Fisher

Years ago there was a meal-planning service that I wanted to make work. I loved the idea of it, I loved the idea of the recipes, and the library had their books so it was easy to try. Except the recipes almost never worked for me. They didn’t match our tastes, and the few times I found one that I liked, my husband didn’t care for it. A menu plan where none of the recipes are ones you’ll want isn’t much of a help, and I finally admitted that trying to tweak their plan wasn’t worth the effort.

Jessica Fisher’s recipes? Now those fit our tastes. I’ve got all of her cookbooks and everything I’ve tried has been a hit. So it’s not that surprising that with her latest book I happily pre-ordered it and impatiently waited for it to be released.

And I’ve had it for a month now and have already made one recipe from it twice (the Chicken, Black Bean, and Rice Soup), as well as flagging many more to try.

This book is structured a bit differently – there aren’t sections for beef, or chicken, or soups. Instead there are menus, arranged thematically. For example, section one is “Going Meatless.” There are also sections on “Company Dinners” “Make-Ahead Meals” “Breakfast for Supper” and more. So if you’re in the mood for soup, it could be in almost anywhere in the book. That’s ok, because there’s a great index, but the organization does mean you can’t flip through one section and find them all.

I actually really like how it’s structured – it gives great ideas on accompanying dishes. As I write this, I’m planning on making the Poblano Chile Enchiladas this week. The other recipes grouped with it are for South of the Border Slaw, and Zesty Mexican Rice. Both of those sound good to me, so I’ll just use her entire plan!

There are lots of money-saving tips scattered throughout the sidebars. Some of them are familiar, but there were many that were new ideas for me. I wouldn’t get the book just for them, but they’re a nice bonus in a cookbook that I think will get heavy use in my house.

Unlike her book Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze CookbookNot Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook (NYM Series) by Jessica Fisher (which I also use and love), this new book includes photographs for many of the recipes. That was my main complaint with her freezer cookbook, so I’m very happy to see this change.

How I Made “Chicken, Black Bean, and Rice Soup”:

(very slightly modified from Fisher’s recipe)

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups water (because I didn’t have another two cups of broth)
2 – 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I never measured this, just dumped some in from a bag of frozen chicken)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 medium zucchini, shredded (the second time I didn’t have this, and skipped it. It was better with it.)
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 cup long grain white rice
juice of 1 lime (I used about 2 drops of lime oil)
1 teaspoon chile powder (she uses cumin here; I always sub chile powder for cumin in recipes)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (I upped this amount)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I upped this amount because I wanted more zip)
salt and pepper
fresh cilantro, chopped (to garnish)

In a large stockpot, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender, about 5 – 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients, except for the cilantro. Simmer until the vegetables are tender and the rice is cooked, about 20 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro.

My verdict:

So good. Super easy too, and it makes a ton, so there are plenty of leftovers. And it’s freezable so I won’t be facing the same soup for days on end. My husband loved it too.

The kids’ verdict:

My kids do not like soup, but that’s not specific to this one. ๐Ÿ™

See all the Cooking the Book reviews and recipes I’ve shared..

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Two More Christmas Ebooks

Two years ago I shared about two Christmas-focused ebooks. We’re well into Holiday Planning Season, so I’ve got two more I recently read that I recommend if you’re in the market for their specific topics.

101 Days of Christmas101 Days of Christmas101 Days of Christmas: 101+ Recipes & Crafts for a DIY Holiday by Mandi Ehman by Mandi Ehman

Why read it? If you want a ton of DIY ideas for Christmas. Crafts, gifts, food – it’s got almost anything you could want.

There are some delicious sounding recipes, and I appreciated that most of the crafts included full instructions in the text, rather than requiring you to click through to the website. It drives me crazy when ebooks do that – I disabled internet access on my Kindle, and want all the specifics included in the book itself. Extra info? Sure, include a link, but don’t force me to click through. There were only a couple where the full procedure wasn’t included, and for more crafty people, that might not be necessary at all. I’m not very crafty so I tend to need lots of details, and pictures are helpful too. ๐Ÿ™‚

The ebook is a compilation of two years of Christmas-themed posts, so the content isn’t original. However, it’s all organized into a useful structure, so it may be worth buying even though you can find it all online. And if you can’t get enough of DIY Christmas, she runs the 101 Days series every year – 2014’s is going on right now.

You can get it in either a PDFor Kindle101 Days of Christmas: 101+ Recipes & Crafts for a DIY Holiday by Mandi Ehman version. While I usually love Kindle versions as they’re easier to read on my actual Kindle, in this case I like the better printing-capability of the PDF version.

A Simpler SeasonA Simpler SeasonA Simpler Season by Jessica Fisher by Jessica Fisher

Why read it? Because it includes ideas for the entire holiday season – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Planning sheets, recipe ideas, and more.

If you’re looking for a book exclusively focused on Christmas, this won’t be the one for you, but I enjoyed the coverage given to Thanksgiving and New Years as well. There are lots of budget-friendly ideas, and the book is much longer than a typical ebook – over 200 pages! I liked the planning pages and kid-focused ideas, and I especially liked the recipes and menu planning suggestions.

Surprising no one who knows me, my other favorite part of this book was the list of children’s holiday books, and suggested activities to do after reading those books.

This is also available as a PDF or KindleA Simpler Season by Jessica Fisher version, and there is the option to buy the printables only if you’ve bought the PDF (it’s priced to take that into account as well.)

(And if you’ve got young children, the Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands devotional I mentioned previously is still the best, easiest thing I’ve found to use. I was too miserably pregnant last year to do it with my kids again, but this year I’m getting the printable ornaments and will make it easy on myself. I love this devotional!)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Cooking the Book: Best 100 Juices for Kids

Best 100 Juices for KidsBest 100 Juices for Kids: Totally Yummy, Awesomely Healthy, & Naturally Sweetened Homemade Alternatives to Soda Pop, Sports Drinks, and Expensive Bottled JuicesBest 100 Juices for Kids: Totally Yummy, Awesomely Healthy, & Naturally Sweetened Homemade Alternatives to Soda Pop, Sports Drinks, and Expensive Bottled Juices by Jessica Fisher by Jessica Fisher

I don’t actually own a juicer. That means many of the recipes included in this cookbook I can’t actually try. But I still found lots to appreciate, enough so that I’m seriously thinking about getting a juicer.

My first tests from the book were the Peaches ‘n’ Cream Yogurt Smoothie, and the Strawberry Colada. I thought they were both delicious, my daughter hated them both, and my son liked the strawberry one, but disliked the peach one. My husband wasn’t home when we tried the peach version, and he wanted his strawberry one with a banana added to it. Once I did that, he loved it.

One of the things I most appreciated about the smoothie chapter is that every smoothie doesn’t include a banana. I hate bananas in smoothies, and it seems like every smoothie recipe I find includes bananas. Sometimes omitting them works, sometimes the smoothie tastes like it’s missing something, and I don’t always want to have to figure out what that is. Apparently one of Fisher’s sons doesn’t like bananas either, so that worked out well for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

There are still plenty of ideas for me to try. My kids love slushies (and I hate the versions sold in convenience stores, so a homemade one is fantastic as far as I’m concerned). There are more smoothies that sound delicious. There’s a homemade sports drink, as we enter the season where my husband wants it on hand. But what I want to try next is the Lime-Mint Cooler – in other words, it’s like an alcohol-free mojito. While I look forward to having a mojito again eventually, for now that one will hopefully quench my lime/mint cravings.

I didn’t follow her strawberry colada recipe exactly; I didn’t have canned coconut milk, so I used some coconut extract and coconut water. And as already mentioned, after I removed my share, I added one banana for my husband’s portion.

How I Made “Strawberry Colada”:

2 cups frozen strawberries
1 small can pineapple chunks (from the refrigerator, so they were cold)
1/2 cup water
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract (I didn’t measure it exactly)
honey (added it to taste to get the sweetness where we wanted it)
1/2 cup crushed ice
banana

Blend it all together.

My verdict:

Delicious. I would happily drink this every day.

The kids’ verdict:

My son drank his share and his sister’s, and still wanted more. He’s a fan.

See all the Cooking the Book reviews and recipes I’ve shared..

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

On the Road to Joyful Motherhood

On the Road to Joyful MotherhoodOn the Road to Joyful Motherhood by Jessica Fisher

A heads-up if this book sounds appealing: it’s currently being offered for $5 through the end of May, and then the price will go up. If you’re interested in it, grab it at the introductory price while you can!

I know, I was just recommending another book by Fisher yesterday, and I’m back today with this one. I don’t want to hold off on writing about it though, because of the special pricing that only lasts through the end of the month.

Devotionals are often hit-or-miss for me. There are seasons in my life where I love love love them – finding their bite-sized content a perfect fit for my time, energy, and brain power. Other times they can seem simplistic and trite, and I long for a bit more depth in what I’m reading.

This book manages to fit perfectly with my current mood and reading desires, and also manages to include enough information to avoid feeling shallow, while still being easy to read in a short session. The daily format includes several pages per entry, rather than the one paragraph I’ve seen in other books, and that length allows her to delve more deeply into the topic.

The writing style is very approachable so it never feels overwhelming, and is still something that would work in even the busiest of seasons. Reflection questions are provided after each topic, and lots of thoughtful ideas about how to apply the concepts discussed.

There may be a bit of an identity crisis with the book: the title doesn’t claim it’s a devotional (although it’s how I thought of it), instead billing itself as 31 “meditations.” This may be because not every topic includes a scripture that ties into it, although many (most?) of them do. The description does say it’s a devotional though, so consider this a heads-up if you want lots of spiritual content in every entry of your devotionals: this doesn’t always deliver that. Instead, it provides encouragement as you make the most of your days as a mom.

The book is definitely focused on moms, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not a parent. If you are though, this was a very encouraging and motivating book. It reminded me a bit of Loving the Little Years, and as much as I adored that book that’s definitely a compliment.

I really enjoyed it, and got a lot out of it, and would recommend it.

Publisher’s Description:
Years ago Jessica Fisher determined that she wanted to enjoy this life as much as possible, even if it was hard. Sheโ€™d look at snapshots of her children and remember that day or week or season and realize sheโ€™d been far too crabby in that moment to fully appreciate the gifts God had given her, her children at the top of the list.

On the Road to Joyful Motherhood, is a 31-day devotional to redirect our hearts, minds, and hands to this glorious calling of motherhood.

Each reading is accompanied by Scripture to meditate on as well as journaling questions to help moms and other caregivers work through hard issues to make their lives more enjoyable and the attitudes more positive.

Book Details

Title: On the Road to Joyful Motherhood: 31 Meditations to Help You Enjoy the Ride
Author: Jessica Fisher
Category: Nonfiction
My Rating: 4 Stars

I received a copy of the book for review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Two Other Ebooks on Making the Most of Summer

Last week I wrote about 100 Days of Summertime, and I’ve been reminded of two other books that also discuss making the most of your summer. I haven’t read 100% of either of these, but they both are packed full of ideas for activities to do with your kids.

The Summer Survival Guide by Jessica FisherThe Summer Survival Guide by Jessica Fisher

The most similar to the 100 Days of Summertime book, in that it includes a packing checklist and worksheets that aren’t solely related to things to do with children. I liked the meal ideas and menu planning section, as well as the discussion on summer reading and books.

There is also a great list of family movie ideas, craft suggestions, tips for inexpensive ways to keep cool, and some possibilities for capturing the summer memories. What I didn’t finish reading completely was the part on doing your own themed “summer camp” weeks, but I love that idea, and I think my kids would too.

You can see the full table of contents and a brief sample, to get an idea if you like her ideas and writing style.

If you were at all considering the book from last week, I liked Fisher’s a lot more, and think it would be a better choice for a wider age range of children.

And a heads-up if you’re interested in Fisher’s book: She’s got it on sale for $5 through tomorrow, May 27, and then it’s back to the regular price. It was definitely worth the $5 price tag for me.

KidVenturesKidVentures by Jen Murray

Jen is the mom of quadruplet boys, and pretty much every activity she includes are ones I can see my son LOVING. I had the book last summer, although he was still a bit young for many of the ideas. This year though? So many of them he’d love – I just need to figure out which ones will work best for all of us. His stamina is a lot higher than mine, especially right now. ๐Ÿ™‚

These ideas aren’t just for boys however – I mentioned my son, mostly because he’s the older one. There are only a couple that I don’t see my daughter liking that much, although there are several where she’s too young to do all that successfully. Or at least I’m not ready to try her on them, like paddling a canoe or kayak.

The full table of contents is available for the book, so you can get a good idea whether or not the ideas are ones you’d like. The formatting of the list is nice too, how you can easily look for ones that fit certain categories.

I have skimmed the whole book, but didn’t read all of the details for all of the activities, and haven’t tried to follow any of her instructions for some of the construction-type ones, so I’m just going on the assumption that they all make sense and work.

Note that Murray’s book isn’t specifically aimed at summer-only ideas: she focuses on outdoor adventures, so many of them work during the summer, but there are some that require cooler temperatures than we usually have during summer. And because of her theme of outdoor experiences, if you’re wanting a more general summer guide with checklists and worksheets or even just indoor activities, this isn’t it (try Fisher’s for that).

I really liked both books, and think they could work well for you if you’re looking for summer ideas. Of the three, I preferred these two, and would give the overall nod to Fisher’s book, mostly because I appreciated its broader focus and many of those other ideas and resources.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader! Also, not sure if it matters to anyone, but I’ve met Jen Murray before in passing and we do have some friends in common, if you think that might be swaying my opinion on her book. I’m sure it didn’t (and have told you in the past when I think it might have), but don’t want to seem like I’m hiding something.

Twitterature May 2014

Twitterature

Holey, Wholly, HolyHoley, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of RefinementHoley, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement by Kris Camealy by Kris Camealy

Very reflective book that could work any time of year, not just during Lent.

The Enneagram Made EasyThe Enneagram Made Easy: Discover the 9 Types of PeopleThe Enneagram Made Easy: Discover the 9 Types of People by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele

Loved this easy-to-understand look at the Enneagram. And now I know I’m a 5.

My Name's Not SusieMy Name’s Not Susie: A Life Transformed by LiteracyMy Name's Not Susie: A Life Transformed by Literacy by Sharon Jean Hamilton by Sharon Jean Hamilton

Hard to read at times, as she had a difficult upbringing. I enjoyed the memoir aspects more than the literacy narrative.

Best 100 Juices for KidsBest 100 Juices for Kids: Totally Yummy, Awesomely Healthy, & Naturally Sweetened Homemade Alternatives to Soda Pop, Sports Drinks, and Expensive Bottled JuicesBest 100 Juices for Kids: Totally Yummy, Awesomely Healthy, & Naturally Sweetened Homemade Alternatives to Soda Pop, Sports Drinks, and Expensive Bottled Juices by Jessica Fisher by Jessica Fisher

We’ve tried a couple of the smoothie recipes already, and one was a big hit (the other I should have modified a bit more to our tastes). Am sorely tempted to buy a juicer so I can try some of the juice mixtures as well.

What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and MarriageWhat Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their TrainersWhat Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers by Amy Sutherland by Amy Sutherland

Short and readable and very enjoyable look at applying some animal training methods to human relationships.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!