Plan to Eat Sale

It’s been a while since I posted a blog! I’ll catch up with everyone later and let you know about my great holiday weekend, but I wanted to notify everyone very quickly about the sale at Plan to Eat. Through today, you can subscribe for 50% off!  You can get an annual subscription today for just $19.50!  (Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated with this website and receive nothing for promoting their sale.  I just really like it!).

Plan to Eat

Ditch the Cook Book! Switch to an online recipe database called PlanToEat.com

Plan to Eat is an online database for meal planning. You can upload your own recipes or grab some from major websites such as allrecipes.com. Then, you can create a meal planner by just dragging and dropping your recipes into the planner. It sounds simple, and it is! The biggest pain as a new user is just getting all of recipes in the database that you plan to use. After that, it couldn’t get any easier!

What makes Plan to Eat fun? I love the way the recipes pull into the planner. When you pull up the planner to see what you’re supposed to be cooking that night, the recipe is linked along with any pictures. It’s simple and easy! Plus, like I mentioned earlier, the Plan to Eat will work with most of the major recipe websites! You can tour the website’s capabilities here.  I also love that the website was created by a husband and wife team.  They haven’t sold out to a larger corporation, and today, the website is a team of just 4 people!  There are no ads, they do not auto renew your account, and you can always export your recipes even after your subscription expires!

I plan to sign up for my subscription today! I had done a 30 day free trial a while back, and I really liked it. I just couldn’t stomach paying $39 a year for the service. I assumed that I would continue planning meals on my own and just use a planner template I had downloaded for free from Microsoft. I was wrong. My meal planning went down the tubes! Turns out, planning my meals using the boring old Excel template I had downloaded just wasn’t as easy or as fun!

Give Plan to Eat a try!  You may find yourselves loving it as much as I do.  At the minimum, I’m sure that it will save you more than $20 over the next 12 months as will find yourselves eating out less often!

Round Steak

The other day Mr. Keller brought home our 1/4 cow from the meat locker! My freezer is now full between that and the 1/2 hog we also just received. It’s a beautiful thing! There is nothing better than knowing that I can feed my family even if trouble were to strike and Mr. Keller and I were to lose our jobs.

The only downside to all that meat is that I don’t know what to do with all of the cuts! Round steak was one of those cuts that perplexed me the most. I googled it, and nearly every recipe that came up was Swiss Steak. I read those over, but they just didn’t really appeal to me. Then, I found the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Fried Round Steak.  Just the pictures alone had my mouth watering!  It looked amazing, and, frankly, too easy to be true!  Let me tell you, I made it tonight, and it did not disappoint!  If you have any cube steak or round steak laying around, you have got to try this!  It’s simple, flavorful, and tender.  I’m just not going to think about the calorie content…

I absolutely love the Pioneer Woman’s recipes.  I have not made a too many, and exploring her website more is, admittedly, at the top of my “one of these days…” list.  I can say that any time I have made one of her recipes, I have enjoyed the result!  I also think her line of cookware and dinnerware is gorgeous.  It’s just too bad that it’s only available at Wal-Mart.

I was especially appreciative of how quick this recipe is to make!  I made this along with garlic smashed potatoes in about 20 minutes after I came home from the grocery store.  Have you ever gone to the grocery store a couple days before Thanksgiving?  My suggestion:  don’t.  If I hadn’t needed produce, there’s no way I would have been there!

Fried Round Steak

Okay… Pioneer Woman’s pictures are much more appetizing. I promise, it wasn’t burnt. It’s the lighting!


Fried Round Steak
Friend Round Steak
Print Recipe
Simple, Tasty, and Quick! All around a winner!
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Fried Round Steak
Friend Round Steak
Print Recipe
Simple, Tasty, and Quick! All around a winner!
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Mix together flour, seasoned salt, and pepper.
  3. Season both sides of steaks with salt and pepper. Dredge each piece in flour mixture, pressing to coat with as much flour as possible.
  4. Add butter to pan right before frying. This will help get that nice brown coating
  5. When butter is melted, fry pieces of steak in butter/oil mixture. Flip when sides are deep golden brown and cook about 1 minute on the other side.
  6. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately.
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The Syrian Refugee Situation

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – U.S. Declaration of Independence

These words helped build our country.  Today, we seem to have forgotten them.  The House of Representatives voted today to suspend the entry of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the United States.  Our politicians are concerned that one or more refugees may actually be members of ISIS, and they justify those fears by pointing to the Paris attacks.

ISIS or the Islamic State is, frankly, frightening. This incredibly extreme Islamic sect appears to be bent on creating as much chaos and destruction as possible. They have captured other Islamic who were not as extreme as themselves, and they have waged war and genocide on all other religions. Their unpredictability and ruthlessness only adding to their fear inducing image.

BibleShould we live in fear of ISIS?  Most of the people who would close the United States to refugees tout themselves as Christians, but how can they be? They are living in fear and not trusting in God. As Christians, it is our moral obligation to care for these refugees. For reminders of this, we need only to turn to our Bibles and our history books.

The Hebrew people themselves were once battered refugees. The Old Testament details how the Jewish people alternated between wandering deserts,

battling foes, and enslavement for hundreds of years. Jesus himself was a refugee as a child when he was forced to flee Herod.

Inscription on Statue of Liberty

Inscription on Statue of Liberty

America was built upon the backs of thousands of refugees. Do we not take pride in the fact that the pilgrims were amongst the first European settlers of North America? The pilgrims were religious and political refugees! Not to mention the many other political and religious refugees who have taken shelter upon our shores and helped build our country into what it is today.  We cannot close our doors against the threat that an extremist may infiltrate our homeland when so many people living in fear and awful conditions would be kept out as a result.

Please, put yourselves in the place of these Syrian refugees. They are doing all that they can to save themselves from an extremist regime. They may fear that their daughters will be raped and taken as “brides.” They may fear that their sons will be forced to fight for ISIS. They likely have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and their own sense of security. Coming to places like the United States, U.K., or Germany may seem like their last option — their last chance at Life and Liberty. How can we slam the door on so many in order to protect ourselves from a few? How can we lose all faith in God to protect us as we follow his commandments to help those who are less fortunate?

Please check out this website created by Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York:  https://medium.com/@humansofnewyork/humans-of-new-york-refugee-stories-243336f4adeb#.3csqda2qf.  Brandon spent 10 days this year traveling to Greece, Hungary, Croatia, and Austria to learn the stories of refugees traveling across Europe.  The stories are accompanied by pictures of these people, and I truly believe that we need this reminder that these refugees are people with names and faces.  They have faced unimaginable hardship and persecution due only to where they live and their unwillingness to join an extremist movement.

To conclude:  do not turn your back on the refugee in order to protect yourself from the extreme.  Christians, trust in your God.  Fellow members of the human race, don’t turn your back on those in need.

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. (Leviticus 19:9-10)

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:25-36)

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)

Saving vs. Not Spending

Kohl’s, Target, Krogers, and even IGA like to tell you on the bottom of your receipt how much money you “saved” by shopping with them.  I had no idea they could peek into my savings account!  Wait…they can’t.  So did I really save anything?  Probably not.

Saving Money vs. Spending LessUnless I missed something, when I purchase something, money leaves my pockets.  I do not believe that I have ever truly been paid to shop (credit card points and store rewards aside).  So no matter how much I “saved” according to stores like Kohl’s, I actually just traded in my hard working and hard earned green employees for something disposable, and my account balance at the bank got a little bit smaller.  I certainly did not “save” any money.  I may have spent less than planned, but then again, maybe I didn’t.  I often find myself thinking, “look!  the shoes that I needed for work are on sale!  I can afford to buy those really cute boots, too!”  So, I went from “saving” money to actually buying a little bit more.  For those of you who are disciplined enough to purchase only with the on sale shoes that you went in to purchase, did you put the funds that you “saved” in your bank account?  Or did they just kind of disappear?

Even with my goal of not shopping (still going strong by the way!), last month I did not see the savings from that goal hit my savings account.  I forgot one vital step:  I didn’t move the money in my budget from the shopping line to the savings line.  Consequently, those funds never made it to my savings account.  I suppose a few of those green employees are floating around in my checking account, but I noticed that we over spent on groceries last month.  We covered the overage by not spending my shopping money.  I strongly suspect that if I had moved the money I normally have budgeted for shopping into our savings account, we would have stayed on budget for groceries.  Lesson learned:  put green employees in savings at the beginning of the month.  Then, they might stay put and actually go to work earning me more little green employees!

This is one area where I actually disagree with Dave Ramsey.  His position is that if you completed the zero based budget, and it’s in your budget, go ahead and spend the money.  In fact, one of the stories he likes to tell is that a lady came up to him and thanked him because she no longer felt guilty for buying something for herself as it was in the budget.  I would argue that she should feel guilty if she didn’t need it and it didn’t make her life better/easier in a significant way.  Every time I open my closet, I think about how blessed I am to have so many clothes, and I feel the same way when I open my children’s closets, the pantry, or even the storage room where I keep our lesser used kitchen items.  We have so much stuff!  Additionally, Dave Ramsey’s position would be that if something is on sale, you just freed up a little bit more room in your budget to add more items.  The Keller Family’s (newly updated) position on this is that when our budget benefits from a sale, there is now more money to go into savings.

My updated no shopping challenge:  continue to refrain from buying myself clothes and accessories and put those savings into our savings account.  Not spending money on something is not the same as actually saving money. Whenever I realize that the Keller family has refrained from spending on something that we normally would have, I will move those funds into savings.  Then, and only then, will the Keller Family have actually saved.

Update: No Shopping Challenge

No Shopping ChallengeI wanted to update everyone on my October No Shopping Challenge; it was a complete success!  I made it through the entire month without purchasing any clothing or accessory items for myself.  The only non-necessary purchases were gifts and Halloween costumes just as I had challenged myself!

Now, just as I posted in my original challenge to myself, I know that there are many of you who would not see this success as a big deal.  For me, it’s huge.  I shop when I’m bored; I shop when I’m sad; shopping is what I have always done.  I’ve never spent more than I could afford and never gone into debt over it, so I thought it was no big deal.  Now that I am trying to save more for our future, I realize that I have squandered so much opportunity!  I was treating the dollars in my pocket as disposable assets and trading them for other disposable assets.  I should have been viewing the dollars as employees who have the potential to earn more for me due to the power of compounding interest.  Who in their right mind would just willy nilly trade an employee for a shirt–unless they really needed the shirt?!  Even then, you would probably trade your least productive employee for the shirt and thereby keep most of your employees happily chugging away at earning you more dollars.  Lesson learned–I hope!

Flash sales used to get me every time!

Flash sales used to get me every time!

In the last month, the only real temptation I’ve had has been from sale emails.  Those email marketers are good!  My favorite store, The Loft, has been having some great sales, and I’ve known about them the minute they start thanks to those darned email marketers.  Additionally, several children’s stores have also had some spectacular sales, and I can’t help but notice how cute the outfits are.  I have to remind myself that my children already have so many clothes that I can’t get them all in their drawers.  I know that I need to unsubscribe to these emails and remove temptation, but two things hold me back:  first, eventually I will have to buy new clothes–especially for my growing children–and I don’t want to pay full price when that happens, and, two, it’s a little tiny bit empowering to remind myself every time I open and then delete one of those fabulous sale emails that I have made this decision to not spend unnecessary dollars.

I think I’m going to make this no shopping challenge a monthly renewable challenge.  I may allow myself a little shopping fun in December, but maybe not.  The more I think about my dollars in terms of employees, the less likely I am to waste those dollars.  Like I said before, it’s crazy to trade an asset like an employee for a highly disposable asset like a shirt.  That being said, I am definitely going to have to get better at doing laundry!  Stain removal has not exactly been my forte.  If these clothes are going to make it long term, I better start treating them better!  If anyone has any laundry tips, let me know!  Mr. Keller’s grandma, Bernice, is a stain fighting queen so I may be picking her brain soon.

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. – H.D. Thoreau