Meal Planning Monday ~ The Best of Christine 2012

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  Happy New Year’s Eve!  I hope you have some fun plans to hang out with friends and family to ring in the New Year.  Today is my birthday, so I’m taking a break from blogging.  I thought I would highlight my favorite posts of the year, so be sure to check out any you might have missed.

            Next week, we’ll be back with new Meal Planning Monday posts.  I’m also working on some great guest bloggers you’re sure to love!  Here’s to a happy and healthy 2013!

 

 

 

Financial Resolutions Worth Making in 2013

Check out my guest blog post for Girl Loves a Bargain and find out which financial resolutions are really worth making in 2013!

6PM.com $50 E-Gift Certificate Giveaway

Anyone else have a holiday hangover?  Too much excitement, food and drink, and too little sleep and presents you actually wanted?  Well, we’ve got the cure!  Our 6PM.com $50 e-gift certificate giveaway is guaranteed to lift your spirits.  Your Strong Tower and Super Frugal Stephanie are excited to co-host this great giveaway sponsored by FatWallet!

6PM.com is a deal-seekers dream!  Their outlet site is chock-full of great name brands for the whole family– Nike, Juicy Couture, Tommy Hilfiger, PUMA, and so many more!  The best part of 6PM.com is the discounts!  Most items are at least 50% or more off of the retail price.  To make the deals sweeter, FatWallet offers 3.5% cash back on 6PM.com purchases and access to coupon codes!  Our winner will be able to take advantage of after-Christmas discounts, plus 6PM gift certificates are eligible for FatWallet’s cash back program!

The contest runs from December 27th through December 31st.  Enter via the Rafflecopter below.  Open to US residents age 18 and up.  Winner will be contacted via email and will have 48 to respond and claim the prize.  6PM.com e-gift certificate will be emailed to the winner once contact information is confirmed.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Coming Soon! Double DVD Giveaway!

Hey all Blogger Friends..I had the opportunity to giveaway 2 great DVD’s to you all. This giveaway features Thomas & Friends Holiday Express and also Veggie Tales Sweetpea Beauty. There will be TWO winners, one for each DVD. I want to thank Mommy Bear Media for the opportunity to do this giveaway. If you haven’t been to their site yet, be sure to check it out at www.mommybearmedia.com.


The giveaway will run from 1/1~1/7.

Each blogger will receive one free link on the RC with announcement post and can buy up to 4 additional links for $1 each.
SIGN UP BELOW. Sign Ups end 12/28/12
HTML will be EMAILED on 12/29/12

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

I hope you enjoy the blessings of season.

~ Christine

Meal Planning Monday ~ The Best of Leah 2012

Only a week and a day until Christmas!  Like Leah and I, you’re probably busy, busy trying to finish up shopping, wrapping, cooking, and baking so you’ll be ready to enjoy your family when the big day arrives.  So I thought I would give Leah and myself a well deserved break from blogging for a bit so we can enjoy the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  This week, we’re highlighting Leah’s best posts of the year, so be sure you check out any you might have missed.

            Next week, there will be NO Meal Planning Monday.  The last Monday of the month, will be “The Best of Christine 2012.”

 

Clump O Lump Giveaway

It’s giveaway time!  Your Strong Tower is excited to bring you this three-day giveaway sponsored by Knock Knock.  What are these cool and silly-looking animals?  They are called Clump O Lumps – the stuffed animal with personality!  These stuffed animals zip apart in three sections (head, torso, and tail) that can be interchanged with their buddies, so they are definitely a blast when you have more than one.  But even one is fun!  My nephew has Shark-O and loves him.  They are squishy and can double as pillows for your kids.

A few weeks ago, a box came to my house, stuffed with Clump O Lumps!  (I’m not really sure how they all managed to fit in there!)  These guys are eagerly awaiting Christmas, because each one of them is a present for my five nieces and nephews!  I know they are going to have playing with each other, making new Clump O Lump mix-up creations, or maybe just one super-long Clump!

 Our winner will receive the Clump O Lump of their choice.  Giveaway will run Monday December 17 through Wednesday December 19th.  Your Strong Tower is not responsible for prize shipment and cannot guarantee Christmas delivery.  Contest open to US residents, aged 18 and older.

 

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Financial Peace Junior Giveaway

Your Strong Tower is excited to host this giveaway for a Financial Peace Junior kit, sponsored by DaveRamsey.com!  As a Dave Ramsey Certified Financial Counselor, I know how rough it is on families when they are overwhelmed with too much debt and not enough savings.  One thing I hear over and over from people when they take the Financial Peace University class I facilitate at my church is, “I wish I had learned these lessons sooner.”  Well, now is your chance to win this Financial Peace Junior kit to bless your children, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren with the gift of financial literacy!  Here’s what Dave Ramsey says about this great tools for kids:

“Financial Peace Junior is designed to help you teach your kids about money.  It’s packed with tools and resources and step-by-step instructions for parents.  There are ideas for activities and age-appropriate chores, and all the tools you need to make learning about money a part of your daily life.  The lessons of working, giving, saving, and spending are brought to life through fun stories in the activity book, and they’ll love tracking their progress on the dry erase boards!  Financial Peace Junior doesn’t just give you the tools to teach your kids to win with money – it shows you how.”

I bought the Financial Peace University kit for my nephew, Reid, two years ago.  Even though Reid was only three years old, he really got a hold of these concepts.  My brother and his wife began paying Reid commissions for doing his age-appropriate chores.  My nephew was so excited when he had enough to go to Toys R Us to get his bike!  When my brother asked him what he was going to save up for next, Reid replied, “A bike for Ayla (his sister).”  How cool is that?  I’m proud that my brother is raising the next generation of our family to “be weird!”

Contest starts on Friday, December 14th and ends on Tuesday, December 18th.  Open to US residents age 18 and up.  Your Strong Tower is not responsible for prize shipment and cannot guarantee Christmas delivery.  Winner must respond to email notification within 48 hours; otherwise another winner will be selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kohl’s $25 Gift Card Giveaway Sponsored by FatWallet.com

As you’re finishing up your Christmas shopping, why not give yourself a gift – the gift of cash back from FatWalletYour Strong Tower and FatWallet are sponsoring this awesome giveaway – a $25 Kohl’s gift card.  If you’re not familiar with FatWallet, here is how it works.  Before I shop online, I log in to my FatWallet account then search for the website I want to visit.  Let’s just say that I won this gift card and wanted to spend it online at Kohl’s.

I can see on FatWallet.com that I can earn 2.5% cash back on all of my purchases, plus there are several coupon codes listed right on the page!  I click the link of the coupon code I want to use and it takes me right to the Kohl’s website.  I shop as usual, then 30 to 60 days later (to allow for returns) my cash back is available on my FatWallet account.  I can choose to transfer that money to my PayPal account or have a check mailed to me.  How cool is that?  Cash back and no need to run up credit card debt to get it!

There are hundreds of cash back partner websites on FatWallet.com, such as Wal-Mart, Bath & Body Works, Home Depot, Macy’s, even Amazon!  I found one of my favorite websites while browsing on FatWallet.com.  Surprise, surprise -  It’s Shoebuy.com!  I get 10% cash back PLUS free shipping and returns!  So, hop over to FatWallet and finish up your holiday shopping today.  And don’t forget to come back after Christmas and cash in on the gift cards you receive and get some bonus cash back!

            Contest starts on Wednesday, December 12th and ends on Sunday, December 16th.  Open to US residents age 18 and up.  Your Strong Tower cannot guarantee Christmas delivery.  Winner must respond to email notification within 48 hours; otherwise another winner will be selected.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meal Planning Monday ~ Baking Holiday Treats

         

          December 18th is National Bake Cookies Day, but since it falls on a Tuesday this year, I’m doing my baking this Saturday.  For as long as I can remember, my brother and I have always helped my mom bake sugar cookies a week or two before Christmas.  No matter how old I get, it’s still fun to bake, frost, and decorate the cookies.  And most years, my mom still helps me with the triple batch I make.  This year, I’m hoping my niece and nephew will also join in the fun.

            In addition to my usual cookie baking, I also make a rum cake for Christmas Day.  My recipe comes from the Cake Mix Doctor cookbook by Anne Byrn.  I follow the recipe almost to a tee, with the exception of using Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum instead of Bacardi.  It is super-moist and delicious!  Don’t worry, most of the alcohol cooks out when it’s baking.  However, if you like to lick the bowl and beaters, as I do, you may find that your tongue becomes pleasantly numb from eating the batter.  (See below for the recipe.)

            This year, I am going to whip up these Cinnamon Sugar Almonds in the crock pot.  I was able to get organic almonds at the co-op for $6 a pound, so I got two pounds of them.  Several people in my Facebook recipe group have tried them and said that not only do the almonds taste delicious, but they also make the house smell heavenly while they cook.

            I don’t know if I will have time to bake much else this holiday season, but here are some other great-looking recipes I’m going to try if I have time!  (And who says I can’t make some of these in January or February?)  So, what’s on your baking list this month?

 

Spiced Rum Cake (Adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn)

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 package of Golden Butter cake mix (18.25 oz.)
  • 1 package of vanilla instant pudding mix (3.4 oz.)
  • ½ cup of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum
  • ½ cup of canola or coconut oil
  • ½ cup of water
  • 4 large eggs

Glaze:

  • ½ stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum

            Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Spray a 12-cup Bundt cake pan with cooking spray.  Sprinkle the pecans in the bottom of the pan and set aside.  Place the cake mix, pudding mix, rum, oil, water, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Using an electric mixer, beat on low for one minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium for two more minutes.  Pour batter into the pan, smoothing it out with a spatula.

            Place the pan on the center rack in the oven and bake for one hour, or until the cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched.  Let cool for 20 to 30 minutes.  Run a long, sharp knife around the edges of the cake and invert it onto a serving plate.  Poke holes in the top of the cake with a toothpick.

            Prepare the glaze by placing the butter in a small pan and melting it on low heat.  Once melted, add the water and sugar and increase the heat to medium, stirring constantly.  Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat slightly.  Continue to stir the mixture for 4 to 5 minutes, until thickened.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the rum.  Stir well and spoon the glaze over the warm cake, allowing it to drizzle down the sides and into the center of the cake.  Allow to cool completely before serving.  Enjoy!