Busy People's Fast & Frugal Cookbook by Dawn Hall

Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me Dawn Hall's "Busy People's Fast & Frugal Cookbook" to review a few weeks ago.  When I first opened the book, I skimmed through the pages to see what kind of recipes it had.  Surprisingly, most are recipes I would actually make!  I used to like cookbooks until I realized that the recipe that I bought them for was really the only recipe I liked out of the whole book.  Either the other recipes were too complicated or else they just didn't look very good and wouldn't be something I would ever order if I was at a restaurant.  But Dawn Hall's cookbook has over 200 recipes in it, so there is bound to be a few handfuls of recipes you will want to try right away.

Dawn includes a lot of features that I haven't seen in other cookbooks:
  • One of my absolute favorite features of her cookbook that I really think makes it stand out from the crowd is the meal suggestions.  On almost every recipe, there is a section on the side that lists meal suggestions.  It gives you ideas of what else you could make with it, and they are all recipes that are in the book.  So not only does she include the page number of where they are found (huge help!), but she always tells you when to start the timer and at what point to begin cooking each recipe.  i.e.:  Set the timer for 10 minutes.  10 minutes before the meal, prepare the chowder as directed.  5 minutes before the meal, slice the bell peppers and arrange with dressing for a dip, and finish preparing the chowder.  (That was my condensed version of what she has written, but I wanted you to get the gist of it.)  
  • She also has pictures for most of her recipes, which makes me happy because I like to see what it's supposed to look like.  I tend to skip over the recipes that don't have photos, but that's just the way I am.  
  • She also includes a supply list and a grocery list for the suggested meal (so you don't have to keep flipping around the book seeing what ingredients you need).  The supply list is great because I hate cooking/baking something, only having to stop in the middle and find something.  It tells you what bowls and utensils you need, so you are all ready to go from the beginning.  You won't be caught off-guard when you come to a sentence that asks you to now get out your small mixing bowl so you can pour those ingredients into your large mixing bowl.  This way, you will have both your small and large mixing bowl handy (and already cleaned), and not have to stop what you're doing to find your small mixing bowl in your pile of dirty dishes and clean it (along with the rest of the sink full of dishes because you figure you may as well clean them all while you're at it...not that I'm that lazy that I let my dishes pile up like that).  
  • She also gives the the number of servings, calories, fat, and all the other nutritional facts about the recipe.  Of course, she uses a lot of fat-free, sugar-free ingredients, so it may change depending on what you use.  Me?  I'm getting better and have gotten a few low-sodium, reduced-sugar ingredients, but I haven't bit the bullet yet and gotten anything without sugar, fat, or sodium yet that I'm used to buying with it.

One of the kids' favorite recipes in the book is the crepes.  I had only used one other crepe recipe before, and I really wasn't very impressed.  The one in the book is great though!  Very few ingredients (yeah!), and very quick.  And she also has a few different fillers for them.  The one that is sitting in our fridge right now is the banana cream filling, and it is sooo good!

I made her homemade crackers the other day using just tortillas, butter, paprika, garlic powder, and parsley.  It was so easy, so quick, so frugal, and so good!   I tend to stick to the dessert section of a cookbook because that is the best part of a meal (in my opinion), but I was happy I strayed over to the breads and biscuits section and found that recipe.

Overall, I was very satisfied with this cookbook.  It was nothing like I expected it to be.  I love all the added features (especially the meal suggestions).  The recipes are simple and nothing too complicated, so you're able to put your own spin on it without having to worry about completely ruining it.

I was given this cookbook from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review of it.  The above statements are my own.



My poor little guy is sick. Just last week he was outside running around in the snow, happy as could be.

He had a 99 degree fever all day, and then when I checked him again after I picked Belle up from school, it was up to 100.4. He was still acting fine, until after dinner. His eyes were getting red and he just looked so tired.  Chris picked him up and Grahm just threw up all over.  I couldn't help but watch.  I just froze.  I didn't grab a towel, bucket, or anything.  I don't know if I was more shocked that he threw up or if Chris didn't throw up.  He gets so grossed out about things like that, but not tonight.  He was a perfect, loving dad and was so concerned about his little boy.  We're both worried about him and hope he gets better really soon.  He has a doctor appointment in the morning, so hopefully we'll find out more then.

Isabelle has had a cough for the past few weeks, and it's been getting worse.  So on Wednesday morning, she has an appointment with the doctor.  Both her room and the boys' room have humidifiers in them now, which will hopefully help.


I miss my little girl.  She went with her Mimi and Grampi to visit her cousins (and aunt and uncle too, of course) on Friday afternoon.  I can't wait to see her tomorrow!  :)


Belle's Tutu

So, I have been wanting to get Belle a tutu for a while now, but all the ones I've found on Etsy are so expensive! Granted, I'm sure they are really nice, but I don't really want to spend $25+ for a tutu. Sure, there are some cheaper ones, but either they are too short, not full, or for dolls. Seriously, $8 for a doll tutu?! I could make one for a dollar! After a little searching on the internet, I found a no-sew tutu tutorial. Many in fact. All a little different but very similar. The title is misleading because there is a little sewing (you have to sew the elastic together), but other than that one part, the rest is done by hand. It's a lot of knotting/tieing. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. Unless you don't want it very full, and would prefer a more simple, graceful looking tutu, then you wouldn't require as much tulle.

I decided to go all out and added a whole bunch so it's really puffy. *grin* I went with white, light purple, and hot pink (that one Belle picked out). I haven't decided if I'm going to put rhinestones or ribbons on it as well, just to kind of dress it up so it isn't so plain. But, in the end, I don't expect it to cost more than $10 (that's assuming I buy some embellishments...if I don't, then obviously it'll be even cheaper). And if I had made it shorter (I made it to hit at about her knees) or not made it so full, it would have been even cheaper. I can see why there are so many people seeling tutus on Etsy though. They are addicting! I've made one and want to make more because they are so cute! Maybe I will make one for her dolls after all.

I plan on making a superhero cape for Grahm for Christmas as well, so he's not left out. As for Casey, I haven't decided what I can make that's age appropriate, yet somewhat easy. Any ideas????


Where I've Been

Well, no where really. I've just been too busy to blog lately...doing two loads of laundry every other day (I hate cold weather and long sleeves, sweatshirts, and long pants...it makes for some really big loads!), folding clothes, playing puzzles with Grahm, playing hide-n-seek with Casey, coloring with Belle, feeding the kids breakfast and lunch, taking Belle (and the boys) to school and picking her up, playing WoW (of course), trying to keep the house picked up (although everything somehow always ends up piled up on our bedroom dresser), and trying to potty train Grahm. And when I do have time to blog, something else comes up. Like my Ghost Whisperer DVD arriving in the mail from Netflix. *grin* I got hooked on the show last year (back when we had t.v.), so I've been renting them non-stop, starting with Season 1, for a month or so now. I watch it as soon as the kids go down for bed and then send it out in the morning so that I can get the next one in a couple days. I am loving Netflix! I have a potty training DVD coming soon from them. Hopefully it will give me some new pointers for Grahm because everything I've tried isn't working. I've even left him without pants on for a few hours for about a week, and that hasn't helped (although I've heard it works). Although it did give me a funny story that I'll be able to embarrass him with when he gets older. I went outside to go check the mail, and on my way back inside, 3 Mormons stopped me to give me a handout and a speech. While they are doing this, Grahm is wearing nothing but his t-shirt. So all the while as I'm trying to get back inside and to get the guys to stop talking to me, explaining that I'm not interested, Grahm decides to come outside. The older gentleman laughed, but boy, was it embarrassing!


We went to Chris' parents cottage a couple weeks ago. Well, I may have not been there because I didn't really contribute much. I laid on the couch every chance I got so my back can heal. My physical therapist has me doing the back exercises for at least another month or two, so I'm still in the healing process. Getting near the end though with no flare-ups lately though! But anyway, Chris was able to duck hunt up there (as it was opening day on that lake), and shot 3 ducks, which are now sitting in our freezer waiting to be cooked up...or dried into jerky. Either way, I doubt I'll be eating it. I've had a bite or two of it before, and it wasn't awful...just not my type of flavor. Casey touched/walked on the grass for the first time that weekend without fussing. Normally, whenever he would even touch the grass, he would start crying. I'm so happy that he's over that now. The kids enjoyed their last few days of summer up there. They went canoeing, rode bikes, and played outside (as well as inside). I was even able to take a decent picture of Frosty and her big ears, for those of you that haven't seen how enormous her ears are on her little body. She doesn't look like your typical pure-bred miniature schnauzer. *grin* Chris' parents helped out a ton with the kids while we were up there. Every once in a while I'd tag along and take pictures, but mostly I took it easy. So thank you Gary and Peggy...and Chris too, of course.


With Isabelle in school now, the mornings are a lot more quiet. Sure, Grahm still runs around the house playing with his cars and Transformers, but we've also been doing a lot more coloring, reading, and puzzles lately. It's been nice and fun. Casey is really into the blocks now. Just today he made a three-block tower an attitude d was so proud of himself. His smile was priceless! But just as much as he likes to try to build towers, he loves to knock them down. And thankfully Grahm is a good sport about it when Casey knocks his tower over that he works so hard on.


Isabelle has really grown up a lot since starting school. Not only with being able to recognize more letters and numbers, but also in her attitude. A couple days ago after I got done grocery shopping and brought the bags inside, she asked if she could put the yogurt away. Um, sure, if you really want to. So while she was doing that, I go talk to Chris about some Christmas gifts I bought. When I come back to the kitchen, she unpacked everything and put it all away! Now is she a sweetheart or what?! Chris and I have some good kids and are quite lucky.

We are also happy with our choice for her school. She comes home happy and is always a chatterbox on the way home, telling me about her day. And today, I was a little late in dropping her off and her class had already gone inside, but the third graders were walking in. A couple girls talked to her and held her hand and helped her inside. All of the older grades are so helpful, not just with Belle but with all the younger kids. It's so sweet how no one asks them to help out or anything, they just go over and do it. All of the kids are so nice and friendly.


Well, that about does it. I think that long post makes up for not posting anything for over a week! Although I'm sure my friend Teresa won't agree. *grin* I'll try to be more diligent about it from now on...promise!