My favorite simple summer potluck dessert with graham crackers, pudding and chocolate frosting!

eclair

I don’t know if eclair originated in Lancaster County or not, but to me it did!

As a kid, eclair was my favorite summer dessert. I could not wait to attend certain family get-togethers and reunions, because I knew this eclair dessert would be served!

Even today, it is still a favorite. I like to make it once a year, for our Memorial Day picnic (although sometimes I’ll make it for one other special occasion during the year too!)

Not only is it incredibly delicious, it is incredibly simple to make!

Oh how I love simplicity!

It consists of graham crackers, vanilla pudding and chocolate frosting, all layered together.

Yes, it is THAT simple!

However, my husband does keep bugging me to try adding some nutella in the middle. I do agree, that does sound quite delectable!

Many recipes for eclair, have you make your own chocolate frosting. This is an extra step that I usually skip, and just buy a tub of chocolate frosting instead. (I often get these FREE through local Giant gas deals—otherwise I’d probably make my own frosting.) I will be honest, if you make your own chocolate frosting, it will more than likely be easier to spread. It’s your choice!

When I’m making this with kids, their reward is they get to lick the bowls at the end. (This is the ONLY time I let them do this!) 😉

Start by layering the graham crackers.

eclair summer potluck dessert with graham crackers pudding and chocolate frosting

Then whisk the pudding and milk together.

Do you like my purple silicone whisk? I think it adds happiness to my kitchen! Special thanks to my husband for this – it was part of a review he did for his blog and it came with these crazy cool sunny side up egg molds. Post coming on that soon!

eclair summer potluck dessert with graham crackers pudding and chocolate frosting

Fold in the Cool Whip. 

eclair summer potluck dessert with graham crackers pudding and chocolate frosting

Layer on some pudding and then some more graham crackers.

This is where I have learned to spread the chocolate frosting (for the next layer) on the graham cracker first. Before I put the graham cracker on top of the pudding layer. I find it much easier to spread this way.

eclair summer potluck dessert with graham crackers pudding and chocolate frosting

See what I mean! It is just too difficult to spread the frosting on the crackers once they are on the pudding. Technically, you usually don’t put chocolate frosting on this layer, but I like that extra chocolate flavor inside the dessert too – not just on top!

eclair summer potluck dessert with graham crackers pudding and chocolate frosting

Spread another layer of pudding and crackers, then top off with more chocolate frosting to cover the entire dessert!

Eclair Dessert

Eclair Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1 box graham crackers
  • 2 small boxes vanilla pudding
  • 3.5 cups milk
  • 1 tub of cool whip
  • 2 tubs chocolate frosting

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the boxes of pudding mix with the milk.
  2. Fold in the cool whip.
  3. Layer graham crackers on bottom of greased 9x13 pan.
  4. Spread some of the pudding mixture on the crackers.
  5. Add another layer of crackers. (This is when I like to put a little chocolate frosting on the top of each cracker before I lay it down. Then I add a little frosting on top to smooth it all out and make a nice even layer of chocolate frosting.)
  6. Add another layer of pudding.
  7. Top with chocolate frosting. (Again I spread frosting on the crackers first.)
http://www.FrugalLancaster.com/2016/05/29/eclair-favorite-simple-summer-potluck-dessert/

eclair graham cracker pudding chocolate frosting summer potluck delectable dessert

I love sharing my favorite recipes with you.

Eclair really is one of my favorite desserts, although rhubarb crunch makes a close second. If you are visiting Lancaster CountyShady Maple always has eclair on their dessert smorgasboard, so you can try some there! Yoders Restaurant does too.

Enjoy!! 😉

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Laserdome Savings Deal Only $10 for $30 Worth of Fun (Local Flavor Promo Code for $5 off ALL WEEKEND)

laserdome local flavor savings deal half off

This Laserdome savings deal is incredibly popular in the Lancaster area. It is one of the most visited posts on my site – and today it gets even better!

Usually this deal sells out immediately, which is why I find it so amazing that it is even available today for Local Flavor’s special promo code to earn an extra $5 off any purchase.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I read the fine print and learned that this promo code ends on May 30, 2016! So you can use the code ALL WEEKEND LONG. There are so many deals that I want to get. Now I just have to decide which to buy first.

Just enter promo code WOOHOO at checkout to have your $5 off coupon applied.

And if laser tag is not your thing, check out these other great deals!

You can get 2 tickets, 1 large popcorn and 2 large sodas at Kendig Square Movies 6 for only $6.75!

kendig square movies lancaster savings deal

$25 for $60 worth of adventure and fun at Refreshing Mountain Retreat & Adventure Center.

refreshing mountain savings deal

Here’s a great deal to Jen’s Pottery Den – $60 toward any art or pottery project for only $25!

jens pottery den lancaster savings deal

Get Water’s Edge Mini Golf tickets for a family of 4 for only $12!!

waters edge lancaster savings deall

For only $5 you can get $20 worth of food at The Friendly Greek Bottle Shop!

friendly greek bottle shop lancaster savings deal

Get $20 worth of ice cream for only $5 at Lintia’s Restaurant & Bakery.  This photo of ice cream makes me want to try it!

lintia's ice cream shop manheim savings deal

$5 for $20 worth of ice cream and casual dining at Dairy Queen in Sinking Springs.

dairy queen half off savings deal

If you like these deals and want to stay notified of the tips and savings I share on Frugal Lancaster, please take a second to sign up for my emails. I would love to connect with you more!

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Other popular posts:

Lancaster County Farmer's Markets Energy Bites rhubarb crunch

howtoprintyourownwallartforlessthan2 A complete list of the best Birthday Clubsto sign up for in Lancaster County, PA (1)  how we save on electricity

I Hated Yogurt, Until I Made My Own (Simple Homemade Sous Vide Style Yogurt Making Instructions)

It is kind of like eating a mushroom. When you don’t know what kind to eat or not to eat, you just stay away from it completely. That is how I was with making yogurt.

If you think about it, you’re working with live cultures here. Bacteria! Growth. Ugh. Seriously! I don’t want my family to consume something that will hurt us.

I hated yogurt until i made my own

I Hated Yogurt, Until I Made My Own

I don’t know that I necessarily hated yogurt, but I didn’t crave it or appreciate it like I do now. I would eat it occasionally. I was intrigued by how some people made their own yogurt, since I knew the health benefits of probiotics. And I knew my kids loved yogurt.

I had also heard so many people tell me they save a lot of money by making their own yogurt. But quite simply, I was too scared to try it.

I finally conquered my fear after I discovered a way to use sous vide cooking.

What is sous vide?

If you don’t know what sous vide is, it is basically a method in which you cook your vacuum-sealed food at a constant low-temperature by using a water bath. We like to make steak, salmon, egg nog and yogurt using the sous vide method.

sous vide cooking

I thought about trying the crock pot method, because that looked more simple than using the oven. Knowing that I could use our nomiku (which is a lot like the Gourmia) to set the exact temperatures, alleviated so many of my concerns!

Simply put, the sous vide method completely regulates and controls the temperature, so it makes it almost impossible to make a mistake. I didn’t realize it the first time I made yogurt, but it is much easier than the oven or crock pot method, so I really had nothing to worry about.

I Really Was Scared

If you don’t believe me when I say how scared I was to try making my own yogurt – just ask my dear friend Lydia at ThriftyFrugalMom. The night I made my yogurt I messaged her about a dozen times, with questions like:

How will I know if it is edible?
Or if I failed?
Will it smell wrong?
Will it look different?

She was so patient with me, clearly explaining that the worst thing I can do is kill the yogurt culture if I happen get the temp wrong somewhere. But even then, it is still edible. It simply might taste more like a sweetened, thick milk than a tart yogurt.

So I Persevered

I found these sous vide yogurt making instructions and I followed them. I chose these instructions because they were simple, and for the most part, they made sense to me. Here is my simplified version of what to do.

Fill quart jars about 9/10 full with raw milk or whole milk.

Place in a 75C water bath for about 2 hours. You just want to make sure the milk was heated to 75C for at least one hour. We cover ours with plastic wrap to guarantee the temperature remains constant and the water doesn’t evaporate below the allowed level for the sous vide precision cooker.

simple sous vide homemade yogurt

Cool the milk to 47.5C. To do this, we set the nomiku to 46C, scooped out the hot water and replaced with cold water. We also added some ice cubes (or ice packs) to the water. It took about 5-10 minutes to get the temperature down to 46C. I checked the yogurt with a thermometer, and it said about 117F. As long as its less than 120F, you should be good!

simple sous vide homemade yogurt

Time to inoculate (that just means stir 1 Tbsp of plain yogurt with cultures into each jar). Check the labels to make sure there are live cultures. Honestly, this was the one of the scariest parts for me. I just wanted someone to tell me what kind of yogurt to buy! I didn’t want to mess it up. So I will tell you. I bought Pequea Valley Farm Yogurt from Glennwood Food Stores in Hinkletown.

If you want to add flavorings, now is the time to add it. Lydia told me she adds 2 tbsp. vanilla and 1 c. sugar to 1 gallon of milk. I only wanted to try one jar with flavorings, so I added 1.5 tsp vanilla and 1/4 cup sugar to one of the quart jars.

Set the temperature bath to 47.5C, and let the jars in the water bath for 12-24 hours. The longer it is in the bath, the more sourness and greek-like texture. We cover the tub with plastic wrap and set a towel on top of it for overnight, just to make sure the temperature stays consistent and the water doesn’t evaporate below the allowed level for the sous vide precision cooker.

The instructions now say to put in an ice bath. Lydia agreed with me that you probably don’t need to do that. I put mine directly in the fridge and we had no problems. They will seal automatically and last up to 4-6 weeks.

I Made Yogurt!

homemade lancaster county amish country yogurt

When I first took the jars out of the water bath, the yogurt was very thin and runny. I was nervous. I figured I wasted all that milk and time. I put them in the fridge, and then when we went to eat the first one, it was thicker!

And the taste. Well let me just tell you. It was delicious. You absolutely must try it for yourself! I was completely and utterly shocked. I could not believe how incredible it tasted. There were no words to describe.

I didn’t even think I needed fruit or granola with it, but we ate it fruit and granola anyway!

I Never Liked Yogurt Until I Made My Own

I never knew there was a playground right around the corner from our pediatrician . . . An Interactive Google Map of Lancaster County Playgrounds

Lancaster County Playground Map

I never knew there was a playground right around the corner from my pediatrician’s office until I made this playground map of Lancaster County!

How many times were you out on an errand, and you needed an emergency playground? We’ve often been out and wanted to enjoy a quick spur of the moment picnic or snack, while we wait for something else.

This map will help you find a playground wherever you are. It’s on Google, so you can bring it up on your phone, and find directions quickly. Click on a balloon, and most playgrounds also have listed what is available including ball fields and open areas.

Playground Photo Guides

I am also in the process of making photo guides of the playgrounds. I often wanted to know what equipment was at a playground before I went, especially if I really needed a baby swing or had older children with me who wouldn’t get bored with the small toddler playgrounds.

Here are the photo guides I have available so far. The links will go active as I add them.

Ephrata Area Playground Photo Guide
Lititz Area Playground Photo Guide
Manheim Township Playground Photo Guide
Denver Area Playground Photo Guide

I know I have missed some playgrounds, especially on the western side of Lancaster since I don’t get over there often. Please comment below and I will add them to the map. Thank you!!!

Consider pinning this post to your summertime board, so you can find it when you need it.

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Lancaster County Farmer's Markets Energy Bites rhubarb crunch

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A Photo Guide for Ephrata Area Playgrounds

I remember when I had my first child, I was amazed at how many playgrounds were in the Ephrata area.  I have always desired a nice map, so I finally decided to make one.

I made the map on Google Maps so you can easily link to it and find directions. Click on the map below or visit the Lancaster Area Playground Map.

Ephrata Area Playground Map

I always hate it when you get to a park and you need a baby swing, but there is none there. With this photo guide I have compiled, you can quickly see what is at each park!

I plan to keep adding to the map, and creating other park photo guides for Lancaster County areas.

Elizabeth Township Park

There are a lot of unique options at this park. It includes baby swings, slides, riding animals, a tire swing and regular swings. Perfect for toddlers through elementary age children. This park does get HOT, and there is not much shade. However, there is a nice pavilion with a roof and many picnic tables, so bring a packed lunch to enjoy.

Elizabeth Township Park

Fox Meadows Creamery Playground

Another unique playground for children of all ages. A perfect place for moms to meet and enjoy a bowl of ice cream and socializing while their children play.

Fox Meadows Creamery Playground

Ephrata Community Church Playground

As far as I know, this playground is open to the public. It has slides, swings, baby swings, ramps, benches for adults to sit on and more.

Ephrata Community Church Playground

Charity Gardens Playground

This is a new playground, and is in excellent condition. It has swings, baby swings, slides and more. There are benches for moms to sit on and large fields for older kids to run or play soccer in.

Charity Gardens Playground

Lincoln Heights Park

A small playground but unique. Perfect for toddlers through elementary age. There is a swing set not pictured below. Includes rock climbing wall, slide, and more.

Ephrata Area Playground Map

Ephrata Grater Park

Many options at this park. Three separate areas include a baby/toddler park play area with baby swings; a larger fort-like play area with slides and climbing mountains; and a separate area with swings, a climbing wall and ziplines. Only a few feet away is a nice dock over the creek where you can feed the ducks or watch for fish. With the pavilions, this is also a perfect place to rent for large picnics or birthday parties.

Grater Memorial Park

Irene Ave Playground

This park is kind of hidden, but sometimes these are the best! The unique climbing wall is a favorite and perfect for elementary kids, although toddlers will need help with it if they try it. The racing slides add some fun and the large fields are good for running and tag.

Irene Avenue Playground Ephrata

Misty Meadows Playground

This small playground is best for toddlers and elementary age children. There are no baby swings, and it is a simple park with just 2 swings, 2 riding animals and a slide, however children tend to love it and play for long period of time on it. There is also a half basketball court—perfect for line tag for little ones.

Misty Meadows Playground

Mohler Church Playground

This park is located behind the church, but is open for the community to use. It has monkey bars, swings, baby swings, a slide, and a riding horse. There is a nice picnic table for a packed lunch, and plenty of shady areas on hot days. Bring your bicycles and let the kids ride in the large parking lot.

Mohler Church Playground

Ephrata Township Park

This park is only a few years old. There are swings, baby swings and a special swing for disabled children. The toddler playground has a slide, rock climbing wall and unique drums and tic tac toe games. The elementary age playground has slides, tunnels, monkey bars, climbing walls, a zipline and more. They recently added a large sandbox, so be sure to bring your sand toys and trucks. You can take a walk around the pond with a fountain and feed the ducks, or place on the soccer fields. A sand volleyball court is also there for adults.

(photo coming soon)

Nissley Acres Park
Redcay Park
Boomerang Park
Brickyard Park
Bethany Park
Reamstown Playground
Roland Park Playground
Broad Street Park and Playground

(photos coming soon for above playgrounds)

I Used to Hate Cleaning . . . and then I met, Grove Collaborative and Mrs. Meyers Honeysuckle Multisurface Cleaner

I USED TO Hate Cleaning

It is no joke. I hated cleaning. I don’t know why.

I guess it is kind of like some people hate doing laundry or going grocery shopping.

For me, it was cleaning.

Until I was asked to try Grove Collaborative. (At the time, it was called ePantry – they just changed their name a few months ago.)

But anyway, they sent me a box of stuff.

Yes, I called it stuff.

Cleaning stuff.

I have to say though, I was impressed with the box and the packaging. It was incredible how much they fit in that small box! Just like a puzzle. And every item was uniquely wrapped to make sure they didn’t leak.

grove collaborative box opening

But that’s not what sold me on cleaning.

Up until this point, I had been too frugal to see if I could like cleaning. I simply used whatever products were on sale, or that I earned for FREE with coupons.

Cleaning was just a chore. Something that had to be done.

I knew my life was changed (literally, my whole experience with cleaning in the past and for the future) when I used the Mrs. Meyers multi-surface everyday cleaner for the first time. After the first squirt of the honeysuckle scent, I could not stop squirting and scrubbing.

You might laugh, and that’s ok. I probably looked ridiculous.

Just ask my husband. He came downstairs from putting the kids to bed and all the counters were clear and wiped clean. The house smelled of honeysuckle, and I think he about flipped! I may or may not have overdone the squirting that first time. 😉

Reviews of What Grove Sent Me

Here’s the stuff Grove Collaborative sent me in that first sample order. Everyone’s tastes are different, but I thought I’d share a quick review of each item.

grove collaborative

  • Mrs. Meyers Multi-surface Cleaner – Love it!
  • Method Dish Soap – Not sure what I think of having a pump soap for my dishes yet. But I’m still using it, 2 months later!
  • Mrs. Meyers Hand Soap – Love it! I think for me its the honeysuckle scent.
  • Seventh Generation Toilet Cleaner – It works fine. I don’t think I have a preference when it comes to toilet bowl cleaners. It did have a unique pour spout compared to The Works, which I usually use.
  • Unscented Face and Body Wipes – I don’t use these often. No complaints when I use them though.
  • Grove Candle – This candle has a very strong aroma. It seemed almost overwhelming in our house. I lit it in our kitchen. It wasn’t bad, just a very strong smell in all of our downstairs.
  • Grove Lip Balm – Loved it! Unfortunately mine dropped out of my pocket the day after I received it, and it was run over by our van in the driveway. 🙁
  • Seventh Generation Tissues – I wasn’t a fan of these. I hate to give bad reviews but I guess I’m particular about how soft a tissue feels on my face. These felt kind of like that rough cheap toilet paper you find in commercial bathrooms.

Special Offer

This week Grove Collaborative is offering new customers a FREE $10 credit for signing up through this link, plus a FREE large Grove hand sanitizer. I have not tried the hand sanitizer yet, but I have used the hand soap and highly recommend it.

As an extra special incentive to share about Grove with your friends, anyone who signs up and then refers their friends will earn an additional $20 credit!

grove collaborative friends and family $20 credit special

Rhubarb Crunch Recipe: Simple Enough to Make With Kids

rhubarb crunch

I guess you’ve figured out by now that we love cooking and baking in the kitchen with our kids! That’s probably because I like to keep things really simple. If a recipe asks me to separate out the egg whites and yolks, I often try to find a different recipe. And yes, I’m the one who never measures exactly perfect—yet I find it amazing, that the recipes always turn out pretty good.

Well now that I’ve probably scared you off, let me reel you back in to the sweet and savory smell of rhubarb baking in the oven or cooking on the stove. It only happens a few times a year here, when rhubarb is ripe and ready to eat!

Today I want to share my favorite rhubarb recipe, adapated from the Mennonite Community Cookbook.

Another favorite recipe of mine with rhubarb, was a special rhubarb syrup my mom used to mix with strawberries. She’d cook it over the stove and then serve it warm over vanilla ice cream. Heavenly! I guess I’ll be sharing that recipe soon too!

Rhubarb is really easy to grow in your garden, just plant it where it gets as much sun as possible. If I don’t want to grow it, check any roadside stand or farmers market in May, and you’ll find it pretty affordable. To make this recipe, I got a bundle of rhubarb stalks at Green Dragon for about $2.

If you’ve never tried cooking with rhubarb before, I hope you find this recipe simple enough to give it a try! Really all you do is mix the crumbs, chop the rhubarb and place it over the crumbs in the pan, and then cook a quick syrup to pour over top. Then bake.

It can’t get any easier than this!

 

Rhubarb Crunch

Rhubarb Crunch

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter (not melted)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 cups diced rhubarb
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients to make a crumb mixture.
  2. Press half of the mixture into a 9 inch baking pan.
  3. Add diced rhubarb.
  4. Combine the last 4 ingredients and cook until thick and clear.
  5. Pour over rhubarb.
  6. Top with remaining crumbs.
  7. Bake at 350F for 35 minutes.
http://www.FrugalLancaster.com/2016/05/14/rhubarb-crunch-recipe-simple-enough-make-kids/

5 Secrets to Survivng Rainy Days with Kids (and how to plan ahead and save on them too!)

rainy days
We’ve all been there. A rainy day. Your kids are home. You can’t go outside and you need some ideas on what to do. Here are 5 ways we put our creativity to the test and survive those rainy days (and weeks)!

 

1. Indoor play areas are fabulous.

Our favorite indoor play areas are at McDonalds (near Park City or Gap, PA) and Chick-fil-A (Lancaster or Wyomissing). Ordering from the dollar menu is a great way to keep it cheap at McDonalds. Consider going during snack time instead of over a meal, and get some of those little yogurt and fruit parfaits for only $1.00!

For Chick-fil-A I like to buy gift cards through Raise.com. I signed up for email alerts when a new gift card becomes available, and typically the best deal I find is about 14-16% off. This means a $50 gift card for only $42, or you can just consider that a FREE meal!

Raise is offering a special discount if you sign up now you’ll get $5 credit off your first purchase!

Remember to sign up for alerts first, and then wait until you see a discount you like. The $5 credit will wait for you.

chick fil a giftcard

2. Have some character building TV shows up your sleeve.

We recently got a Right Now Media membership through a Molly Green subscription, and we love it!! We don’t use media too much around here, but I am so impressed with the TV shows available for kids on this network.

We use it with our Roku, and have immediate access to Chuck Swindols Paws and Tales, BOZ, 321 Penguins, Monster Truck Adventures McGee and Me, and many more! You can also watch them on your laptop, phone or iPad.

Follow this link to search all the resources available!

right now media

3. Try some simple recipes.

Our family absolutely loves working in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, it can be stressful, but when we’re able to stay calm and delegate tasks according to their age, we have A LOT of fun!

We like to make no-bake energy bites, yogurt bites, marshmallow peanut popcorn, and I’ll even do some freezer meals with the older kids like egg burritos and cheesy broccoli rice casserole!

frozen yogurt bites - dipping fruit

4. Take a field trip.

There are so many opportunities for things to do with kids for FREE or really cheap. Check out this list of 25 family day trips in Pennsylvania. If you live elsewhere, just do a simple pinterest search like “things to do with kids in Lancaster, PA”.

Also consider your local library or museums.

My husband has a free annual membership to the Science Factory with where he is employed. If you have never been there, this is well worth checking out on a rainy day, especially if your kids love science, engineering, building and math. Toddlers, preschoolers, elementary age and even older children will find things to keep them occupied!

science factory

5. Use YouTube together as a family.

You might see this suggestion and say, what?! I hear ya! But there are so many positive, educational things available. I usually learn about them through word of mouth from friends. Here are some of our favorites, that I am certain your family will enjoy too!

art hub for kids

Art for Kids Hub. Have you heard of this? It is awesome! A dad and his son or daughter will draw something together. You watch them draw it step by step and can draw it with them. They teach you how to draw a minion, a bluejay, Princess Elsa, Olaf, dinosaurs and more!

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 2.45.36 PM

 

Smarter Every Day. If you love science and learning, this is for you. Destin is a dad who loves to learn and shares his adventures and questions and interviews in his videos. He tries riding a backwards bike, investigates cat physics and why cats always land on their feet, shares what he learned on the Amazon, and uses slow motion to understand how Houdini died.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 2.48.33 PM

Kid Snippets. Ok this isn’t really educational, or character building, or…. well, its just if you need a laugh! These dads record kids talking and then record video of adults acting out what the kids are saying. They are hilarious!! Videos are listed under their BoredShortsTV channel. My personal favorite is Kid Snippets Math Class.

 

3

My Story Behind “There’s An Easier Way: 21 Ways to Lovingly Raise Your Children Without Regrets”

plan daily to have one-on-one time

How God Started the Process of the Book (for Me)

Last year, Bonni Greiner started leading a group study on Sally Clarkson’s book, Own Your Life. I decided to be part of the group, but I figured I wouldn’t need to buy the book. After the first week I was convinced I had to buy the book. As soon as it came in the mail, I couldn’t stop reading it. It applied so perfectly to my life that I ended up sharing my thoughts from it to a moms group!

Later in that year, I was accepted as part of Crystal Paine’s book launch team for her new book Money Making Mom. As part of the team, I received an advance copy of the book to read. I remember at the time feeling a little silly because I was not really a money making mom, but a full time stay-at-home mom. I changed my mind about the book as I began to read it. It wasn’t just about making money. It was written to women in general who might be trying to pinpoint their passions and purpose, or trying to discern if she has an entrepreneurial spirit.

I believe God was starting a new season in my life when He had me read these two books. I had no idea what would lie ahead!

The Phone Call I Will Remember Forever

This past spring, I received a phone call from one of my mentors, Bonni Greiner, who writes at Mom By Example. To be honest, I don’t like talking on the phone. Is anyone else like that?! I instantly felt extremely nervous, but tried to remain calm as I enjoyed a very pleasant conversation with Bonni. I didn’t know why she was calling, and I was completely humbled as I kept listening to her request.

I have a book I want to write. Would you co-author it with me?

Her words made me still. Like a deer in headlights, I kept listening and talking. I was not expecting such an invitation! It wasn’t even on my radar. (That’s usually when God moves though, right?)

I knew my background was in book publishing and design. I knew God has given me an incredible passion for motherhood. I had a passion for all moms to be encouraged and find joy. I knew I wanted to be faithful to God and serve Him well, wherever He needed me. I also knew I was still a very young mom and I didn’t feel seasoned enough to write a book.

We both agreed that I would pray about it, talk to my husband and then get back to her with my answer.

6

It takes a team.

When Bonni called, she insisted that she would only do the book if I would be involved with her. Her husband agreed. My husband agreed to support me in the project, and so after much thought and prayer, we decided to give it a go!

Bonni had a lot of the ideas already prepared for the book. My job was to take what she wrote, add to it where I felt I could, organize it, format it, design the book and help come up with the title and subtitle. As we launched the book, I also assumed a lot of the marketing—designing graphics and banners and coordinating the launch team. We looked to God for vision, direction and focus.

While my background was in book publishing, I hadn’t had any practice since I started raising kids, not to mention the book industry has changed quite a bit in the past few years. It was very humbling as we navigated our way through the process and trusted God to bring to memory any tidbits of information we were learning that would help us. I was very thankful to have been part of two other book launch teams that helped point us in the right direction.

our children were planned and knit together

The Book Process: Affirmed by God

My battle in life has always been in my mind. And working on this book was no different. I would often doubt my being part of the book. But what amazed me, was how God always answered my doubts in unique ways, comforting me and encouraging me. He would show me how I was serving Him right where He wanted me to be.

I remember one difficult day. On that particular day I received corrections in an email from Bonni. I sat down at nap time to make the changes, and as I was making them, I realized the words in the correction I was making was the EXACT TRUTH that God needed me to hear. The truth that countered the lie I had been believing all day. It was not a coincidence. Only God does that!

A Little About Me

I was raised in a loving, Christian home near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I met my husband later in life and we then had three children in our first four years of marriage. We struggled with some of the same things shared about in this book, and our desire is to help you find an easier way too!

Reflecting on my early years of parenting, I loved having a baby to cuddle and sing to, but I thought my primary role was to feed him, care for him and keep him alive. Which it, of course, was . . . but thank God that he brought Bonni into my life and challenged me in a new way to consider biblical motherhood.

Through her talks, books and blog, she challenged me to mother in new ways, and it was like having a Titus 2 mom right there with me: talking to me, helping me think through situations, and offering advice. Her insight has been invaluable to me in my journey, as she has helped me to plan ahead and prepare for each new stage, and as she has helped my husband and I rethink some of our parenting approaches.

increased my prayer life

My Prayer

My prayer is that every mom who reads this book finds the joy that comes from engaging with their children, practicing patience, interacting with them, learning about God and life with them, and being intentional in sharing their spiritual journey with them.

Enjoy the tips in this book and all the real-life examples Bonni shares! You will be blessed.

What lies ahead?

Only God knows what lies ahead. How He plans on using me and giving me opportunities to serve Him. I can’t even imagine, nor would I really want to.

I do know that I am on board. No matter what. And I am not going to be shaken.

The week we released the book to the launch team, I received a very exciting and shocking email that I can’t share with you yet. However, I promise I will be sharing about it on this blog, and God will have a story He wants many to hear through it!

A Special Giveaway to Celebrate!

As part of our launch week celebration, we are offering you a chance to enter to win a $50 Visa gift card! Please take the time to enter, and to share with your friends and family. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER, but you may buy a copy of the book on Amazon.

Launch Week Giveaway for Easier Way

easier way

How We Save $286/year on Electricity by Using PAPowerSwitch.com

how we save on electricity

If you live in the Lancaster County area, there is a good chance you have PP&L electric, like we do. As a PP&L customer, you have the option to choose your own service supplier for your electricity. What does this mean?

It means you don’t have to pay the price per kWh that PP&L is charging you!

There are many service suppliers under PP&L that you can choose to use for your electricity. You’ll still be getting your electricity from PP&L, there will be no changes in your wiring. No physical changes. It will just be on paper. You’ll contact a supplier like Inspire or AEP, and you’ll pay their rate.

How does this benefit you? Other suppliers rates are often less than PP&L’s rates by at least $.02 per kWh. For many homes (using an average of 1000 kWh) this is a savings of at least $20 per month.

How We Play the “Electric Supplier” Game

From October 2015 to March 2016 (a period of six months), we saved about $24 month, for a total of about $143. On the best month, we saved $32 over the PP&L regular pricing. On our worst month, we got caught up in life and forgot to change our supplier, we saved only $.50. That was a disappointing month, but it could have been a lot worse!

My husband is in charge of coordinating electricity suppliers for our family, so at the beginning of each month he . . .

  • logs in to PAPowerSwitch.com to see what supplier has the best rate
  • investigates the suppliers with the best rates
    • makes sure there are no cancellation fees or term agreements
  • chooses a supplier and calls that supplier
  • asks to switch to them, and provides necessary details to do so

That’s it folks! It really is quite simple. And as a result, we save about $286/year. For us, that’s like getting over two months worth of electricity for FREE!

How To Find an Electric Supplier

On the PAPowerSwitch.com webpage, you can enter your zipcode, and it will show you a list of service suppliers and their price per kWh. The first price will always be PP&L so you can compare pricing.

papowerswitch electric suppliers compare to ppl electric

How to Choose an Electric Supplier

Once you search for the suppliers in your zipcode, sort by kWh price (low to high). 

kWh price sort low to high ppl electric suppliers

Important fields to note are cancellation fee and introductory price. You will not want to choose a supplier with a cancellation fee, because you will be switching your supplier regularly if you choose to play the “electric supplier game”.

If it says there is no introductory price, then there is likely a term length agreement. If you want to find the best rate and want to switch every month, you will want the introductory price to say YES.

cancellation fee introductory price

In some instances you will want to agree to a multi month agreement. These instances might include:

  • you feel too busy to keep track of your supplier every month (if you don’t check the price of your supplier at the beginning of every month, they might raise their prices higher than PP&L)
  • you will be away or on vacation
  • there will be a life change in your family (like a birth of a new child, a new job, a planned surgery or moving to a new house—anything that might keep you from being able to stay on top of the “electric supplier game”)

It is OK to choose a higher price per kWh in these instances. It is better to lock in to a good price for 3 months, than to forget for one month and have it cost you a higher rate when you aren’t expecting it!

What You Need When You Call the New Supplier

The phone call to switch to your new electric supplier will only last about 10-15 minutes. They will need to know your name, address, contact information and PP&L account number.

When you call, state that you saw the PAPowerSwitch rate, and be sure to specify the rate you saw in order to confirm the pricing and terms of the agreement.

Ask for the term end date. Put this date in your calendar to notify you as the date you need to switch suppliers. Call your new supplier at least a week before, not after this date (which is your term end date). Please note, if you wait beyond this date to switch your supplier, you may be charged a higher electric rate than even PP&L!!

We prefer to call and talk to someone, just as a confirmation to guarantee the rate we saw, but you can also sign up for the offers online from the PAPowerSwitch.com page. Just click on the link that says “Sign Up For This Offer>>”.

Our Favorite (and most used) Electric Suppliers

We have been playing the “electric supplier game” for almost three years. In this time, we have found two suppliers that we use the most, and have been particularly drawn to.

Inspire Energy often has some of the best rates. We were also very impressed with their customer service. You always talked to someone kind and knowledgeable, and we often got personal handwritten notes in the mail from them. Inspire also has a reward program. If you tell your friends to sign up through your link, you get a $25 statement credit. But be careful, they did get us one time and raise their rates when we weren’t expecting it!

AEP Energy often has some of the best rates as well. We have locked into their 3 month rates when we knew we would be too busy to play the game for a few months.

 

Please let us know your thoughts on this article. We would love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have!