Restaurant Coupon Round-Up

restaurant coupons

Don’t see anything you can use? Scroll through HERE to read about all the restaurants offering freebies when you sign up for email alerts. Or check out these deals:

  • Living Social  code: MOM20 gives you 20% off local deals
  • Groupon code MOM15 gives you 15% off local deals

Coupons at the Mall

coupons at the mall If you have any clothing or household needs, you can snag them on-the-cheap this weekend with these printable coupons.

Friday Pizza Codes

friday pizza codes

Not too much new going on this week.  But these codes have been verified, and are working in most locations.

  • Papa John’s Code: CINCO2015 is working in some areas for two medium 1-topping pizzas for $10, or two large for $14. Code: PEPSI25 gets you 25% off your regular menu prices (your entire order must be regular price). There are lots of regional codes too. Best bet is to sign up for email alerts.
  • Pizza Hut Code: teomed3t6 gives you a medium 3-topping pizza for $6! You can also check the DEALS page to see what else is available in your area. Sign up for Hut Lovers and get free cheese sticks with purchase.
  • Domino’s You can get a medium two-topping pizza for $5.99 when you buy at least two.  No code required.
  • California Pizza Kitchen Join rewards program to earn free food.
  • Sbarro’s free slice when you sign up for free rewards program.
  • Hungry Howies Code: FREEHB gives you free Howie Bread with $10+ online order. Valid through 6/2.

The Healing Power of Silence

the beauty of being still

Silence is not something that can be easily found in today’s world. Nor is it often sought. Busyness is the sound bite we are after. We discern our value in the number of hours worked, number of vacations taken and the vastness of our responsibilities. It makes us feel important.

The idea of sitting in silence is almost frowned upon as laziness in our modern society. Yet, it was the one thing that saved me during a time in my life when I was quite certain I was unsaveable.

During the dark years of our financial crisis, God brought me the most wonderful mentor. Linda Andersen is known for writing books on slowing down, simplifying and being still. This was not a welcomed message for me at the time. I wanted to take action, and fast! To stop this speeding train on its way to disaster. Being in the midst of the fight of our lives to save our reputations, and our finances, my instinct was to run at a frantic pace. To work. To fret. To cry. But not to sit still! Never that!

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Looking back, I now know this to be the most important word spoken into my life. Sometimes the things we need to hear, and the things we are expecting to hear, are oceans apart. This lovely woman taught me the concept of silent retreating: taking a day or two to unplug, reflect and be still. She cited many scriptures showing prophets, apostles, and even Jesus Himself making silent reflection a regular part of their lives. She believed this was a huge aspect of spirituality that was missing from today’s world.

She was so passionate about it, she offered her lovely cottage up for life-weary souls to partake in silence for an entire day. All for free. She would leave her home empty for the day, allowing us to change scenery, and distance ourselves from everything that might distract us. It sounded lovely, but I quietly doubted it would have any lasting effectiveness on the anxiety I was facing.  Still, when she offered me a day at her home, I was intrigued.

Okay, I thought. What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll take a nap, read a book and get a break from the kids.

Still skeptical, but grateful for her offer, I set out to spend a day in silence.

Over time, I found scores of women like myself who wanted and needed a good, thick slice of quiet time for themselves, but who didn’t know where to go. This prompted me to open my own home for days away. The concept and execution of this “come away” day was and is extremely fulfilling. I go away. They come and stay. We work out a day between us, and I leave for my own retreat on the day we choose. God made it plain to me that all He needed was my home, and a few hours to do profound work in a life. A hundred or more have come, one at a time, over the last 8 years. And it shows no sign of slowing down. The stream of women thirsting for God is a slow-moving river of energy flowing in the same direction, blown by the breath of God.  – Linda Andersen

When I arrived at her lovely home, I found it at the top of a hill in an apple orchard. From the porch, I could see swans swimming in the pond across the street, and wildflowers growing near her bountiful vegetable garden. Inside, I found a fresh-baked muffin, coffee brewing and a sweet note of encouragement on her kitchen table. She left gentle instrumental music playing, and bath salts in the bathroom for me to soak in. Her gift to me was the gift of a day away from my own life in order to reflect on all that was occurring, and gain some perspective.  And reflect, I did.

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What I gained from those precious days is too close to my heart to retell.  But the gift of the message would change me forever.  It would plant a seed in my life that would one day grow into a passion for sharing the joys of simple living with as many people as will listen.  Your journey, and your insight will be different from mine.  But it will change you.  In small ways at first, and then, if you are willing, your new found perspective will root itself in your heart, and transform you forever.  That’s what silence does.  It provides a platform for hearing your own true self.

When we stand too close to a forest, we only see the trees, and not the grand surround of the place they are set into. We lose something. We become aware of the individual tree, but senseless to its’ larger purpose in composing an entire woods. To garner a feeling and a full sense of any landscape, we must step back and pause. – Linda Andersen (A Table For Two)

Moms have an extra guilt gene, I am convinced. Leaving the kids for any reason, even for a little while, causes us to doubt our priorities and question our own value system. Yet, a woman who is ragged from her journey is ill-equipped to be the kind of mom she wants for her kids. This is one of the many lessons I learned during my time in silence.

Looking back, I am so very grateful for the rare compassion, and other-worldly wisdom that was gained during my time under her mentorship. The gift of this relationship came during a time in my life when my friends had scattered, and my extended family was noticeably unavailable.  Which made the blessings of a relative stranger all the sweeter.  I would love to tell you I learned my lesson once & for all, but the truth is, it is a lesson I need to remind myself of regularly.  To slow down.  Reflect.  Evaluate.  To be still and soak it all in.

be still

As I sat here in this beautiful campground, thinking what I would write this week, I caught myself feeling that old familiar feeling of discontent. I was complaining to myself about being stuck in one place, and wanting to run to the next coast to see more mountains, and oceans and to feel all of the excitement of the unknown open road. This trip is about experiences, after all, and what sort of experience am I getting by sitting at the same picnic table every day, listening to the birds chirp?

This went on for several minutes in my mind.  Crazy how I can always find ways to feel unsatisfied, despite the amazingness of my surroundings.  And then I remembered the lessons I learned not so very long ago from my wise and compassionate friend.

Stillness is a different kind of adventure. It is a unique and unexpected gift of its own.

Quietness is a soft highway to the heart of God—a comfortable place where we can go beyond “How are you” to “This is how I am.” It’s a birthing place for love to come to full fruit in our lives as He speaks through His word or through the still small voice.- Linda Andersen

If you are in a season of busyness, with rarely a moment of quiet, this may be the last thing you want to hear. I know it was for me. But like me, it just might be your salvation. An unexpected beacon of light amidst a fog of frantic accomplishment-chasing. I challenge you to set aside time to learn about the advantages of silence. How to benefit from it, where to go, and how to find the time. You can read more about Linda’s message by picking up a copy of her latest book, or finding used copies of her old treasures.

Retreat is not selfish. It is selfish not to retreat. Rather it’s a prerequisite for ministering to our frail and sickly world, and caring well for our families. It’s a delicious duty—a delectable responsibility–a daring discipline. – Linda Andersen

Photo Credit

13 Foods You Can Prep Ahead (To Simplify Your Life, & Save Your Sanity)

13 foods that are easy to prep ahead

In the world of food, I have found a few shortcuts that have worked their way into our meal rotation because they are easy, cheap and well-loved by all.  When I take a couple of hours at the beginning of the week to do some prep work, I am rewarded with days worth of stress-free meals.

Here are my favorite, tried-and-true prep-ahead foods that have helped me save dinner time and feed my hungry crowd without making me a slave to the kitchen.

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Meatballs
Meatballs freeze nicely, without the loss of flavor or texture that comes with some frozen foods. We especially love them slow cooked with pasta sauce, or thrown in our favorite soup. For more ideas, check out my post: 30 Ways to Use Meatballs.

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Shredded Chicken and Chicken Stock
Grab a whole chicken from Whole Foods, throw it in the slow cooker with some veggies & purified water, and let it go on low overnight. In the morning, you’ll awaken to a deep, rich stock, and a delicious fall-off-the-bone chicken. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

I love that shredded chicken is so versatile. We use it in soups, stews, casseroles, sandwiches, wraps & nachos. You can find my 40 Favorite Shredded Chicken Recipes HERE.

Hard Boiled Eggs
Easy to prepare, and useful in salads, sandwiches and as snacks.  Boil up a few, store in the refrigerator, then peel and eat as needed.

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Diced Onion, Green Pepper and Ham
Having diced onions, green peppers and ham in the freezer saves me a little extra time and mess in the morning. If you’re a breakfast lover, you’ll love this shortcut!  Chop them up on grocery day, then pull them from the freezer and use as needed.

Homemade Sausage
Making your own sausage takes literally seconds, and allows you to skip the preservatives. Love that.  As an added bonus, it is far more tasty than the brand names. We love to whip up a batch of THIS recipe, then freeze it raw in meal size portions. Thaw and cook as needed for instant smiles. **Works great with ground turkey too.**

Hamburger Patties
I form the patties as soon as I arrive home from the grocery store.  Then freeze them in one flat layer, to ensure a quick thaw!

Homemade Popcorn
Who needs microwave popcorn, when the homemade version is so quick and delicious!  You can make it a little healthier by popping kernels in olive oil, then drizzling them with coconut oil instead of butter. Keeps nicely for a few days in a storage bag.

Waffles
So far, I haven’t found a make-ahead pancake or french toast recipe I’m crazy about.  But waffles are another story. This recipe freezes beautifully, and satisfies even my pickiest eater.  Best of all, there is no thawing required – they go directly from freezer to toaster (or oven)!

Cookies or Cookie Dough
We all know homemade cookies are so much better than their preservative-ridden counterparts. But who has the time?  Am I right?

My solution is to whip up a triple-batch of dough, freeze it into individual cookie-sized balls, then pull them out and bake a dozen at a time.  I have home baked goodness at my fingertips whenever we have a hankering.

Breads
I only get around to making homemade bread about once a month, but when I do, I am greeted with applause and smiles from my entire peanut gallery.  As long as I’m at it, I generally make at least two loaves and throw the extras in the freezer for future praise.  The folks over at The Kitchn have some good tips for getting the best results from frozen bread.

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Par Baked Pizza Crust
THIS is our #1 family favorite freezer food. I am drooling right now just looking at the picture.  Best crust.  Best sauce.  Best.  Pizza.  Ever.

Muffins & Quick Breads
My kids devour all baked goods. But on the rare occasion when I have had some leftovers, I just pop them in the freezer and pull out a few every now and then for a special treat. Our favorite freezer-friendly recipes: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip and Banana Nut.  They come out even more moist and delicious than the day they came out of the oven.

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Frozen Grapes
A kid-friendly refreshing treat for the summer that you can feel good about.  Wash, dry and freeze, then pull them out and eat them straight from the bag!

What are your favorite foods to prep ahead for the week?  Please share in the comments!