Monday, June 27, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 6/27

Hash Browns
Chocolate Chip Muffins

Olive Oil Pasta with garlic bread (Penne Pasta with garlic salt for little man)
Tacos with yellow rice and spicy yellow rice
Hamburger Philly Cheesesteak Pasta
Mac and Cheese
Little Caesars Pizza
Pete's Steak Shop for Steak and Cheese
Grottos for Pizza
Green Turtle

So I am taking it a little different this week and just making a list of all the meals that we are going to have so that I am prepared for anything.  Since lunches and dinners often switch on vacation based on when we are most hungry and not at the pool or out doing fun stuff, I am not even separating those.  We are all on vacation this week so we will be eating breakfast, lunch and dinner together and so I made a plan for all of the meals.  Here is my best guess of what we are having this week in no particular order!! Some meals may swap out for others if the need arises but this keeps the eating out to a minimum if I have yummy meals planned to eat at home while still getting the treat of eating in a restaurant.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Jilted Book Review

I was excited to get Jilted: A Novel (Mended Hearts Series) by Varina Denman and start reading but since this was the third book in the series, I wanted to start at the beginning.  I read the first and the second book in the series before starting on the third book.  These books are all nearly 400 pages so it was a lot of reading!!! 

Jilted is the story of a woman abandoned fifteen years ago, the man determined to rescue her heart, and a long-hidden mystery that throws their quiet west Texas community into a tailspin.  Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago.  Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life where the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.  Jilted tells of a woman who has lost the joy of living, a man determined to draw her back toward happiness, and a town that must—once and for all—leave the past where it belongs. It is a gentle reminder that all things can work together for good.

Although the description on Amazon leaves a lot to be desired (the first sentence in the previous paragraph was all that was listed), the book was great.  I read the first two books in the series first before starting on the third book.  Lynda Turner was a character discussed in the previous books but a book from her perspective was unexpected.  Previously she was more one dimensional but this book really brought her to being a whole person that you were totally pulling for.  It brings to light how some people live with depression and try to have a "normal" life outside of the disease.  I hope that you check out this book for yourself and the other books in the Mended Heart series.  I know that you will enjoy it as much as I did! All of the books are a great piece of the puzzle that can be read by themselves or in series to enjoy the small Texas town and all the great characters.

**I received a copy of this book for my review and honest opinion.  All opinions here are my own.

Celebrate the release of Varina’s Jilted by entering to win a $50 gift card.
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Jilted to kick off a summer of reading
  • A $50 Kohl’s gift card to make your summertime sweet
The giveaway ends on July 1st. The winner will be announced July 5th on Varina’s website.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Thrifty Tuesday (normally Thursday): Getting Back into the Frugal Swing Over the Weekend

I was working 5 days a week for 2 weeks of summer camp and everything else went out the window even though it was only about a 6 hour day, it was all that I could take because I had time to run maybe one errand or do one thing before picking up my son from school.  Sadly, I got behind on everything- housework, cooking, cleaning and anything else!  Everything suffered!!

I spent the monthly grocery budget in the first half of the month and only had $1.12 left in the budget and still more spending to be done.  I decided that I better hunker down and use the things that I had at home well and get back on track.  I only got popcorn made for my son's lunch and was starting to use frozen rolls for my husbands lunch because I was totally out.  I made a batch of fresh rolls which he said were really yummy!!  My encouragement to know that the frozen ones weren't really making the cut because fresh is always better.

On Friday after I was done, I tried to catch up by doing dishes....haha!!  The stack was too large to handle.  I had broken into a sweat with the air conditioning running and had to take a break.  I did a few loads of laundry to get back on track with clothes during the break from dishes.  I did a bunch more and ran the dishwasher.  There were still more when I had to give up and run to the library before picking up my son from school.  I had some books that were due back with no renewals left.  I almost cried when we had late charges this week because I was at the library and didn't renew the books!!  I was so disappointed in myself that I have to pay $0.90 because I didn't renew them so I returned them instead.  Bonus is that I remembered to pick up the local papers to get the free coupon inserts and I picked up a reserve of a book on CD that my son wants to read so that we can listen to it as a family on our vacation.

We went to the pool on Friday night and then, I made even more making a mess for dinner.  My husband really thinks that we should go back to using paper plates but I am hoping for actually having enough energy to clean up after dinner which I never do!! We went with a mix of leftovers and other items to get dinner on the table.

I slept horribly on Saturday and woke up to my husband saying that he was washing dishes, emptying the dishwasher, and putting things away.  With a bonus cleaning the stove which he said took him 2 1/2 hours.  I continued to wash a few dishes but we had to head out for soccer. We stopped at the library on the way home from the game because they emailed me like 15 minutes after I left on Friday to let me know that one of the books for my son was in!!  I hate that because I go in the afternoon because I know that is when the reserves come in but they stock them at 4:15 after school gets out!!!  Anyway, picked up a few more of the free local newspaper.

After getting all these and hearing from Natalie that Super Doubles was coming, I realized that I better get going on the coupons.  I sorted all of the inserts that I had and then went through and started cutting (way too much cutting so it happened in a few shifts).  I worked pretty hard to get my basket totally cleaned out and ready to go!  Now I have to go through and make a note of the $1 or more coupons that might be great values!!

I came home and made a bigger mess with brownies from a box mix (my husband's favorite), nutella oat breakfast cookies (I am the only one who likes these), and cinnamon rolls (for our fathers day treat).  I did more dishes and finished all the old dishes...sadly, made more that I didn't get done before going to bed. 

My husband made another batch of ice tea!!  We finished all the Lipton tea bags and we are on to the Tetley which is my favorite brand.  Sad thing is that means that we are cutting into the supply and we have not gotten enough sales and coupons recently.  The good news is that I have a fresh pot of tea.

I made a loaf of bread.  Because my son loves peanut butter sandwiches during the summer when he can get them fresh. It also helps because I use them for paninis and other meals.  Fresh bread is hard because it doesn't always stay fresh long enough to use but we use a lot more in the summer.

It was a team effort to make popcorn to get ready for the week.  My husband helped me while I was doing other things in the kitchen. We also then washed the popcorn maker to stick back in the cupboard.  It doesn't get washed every time but I so love it when it is cleaned and put away.

We also made a big batch of brown sugar because we were totally out. We made 4 cups of brown sugar which filled up the brown sugar and emptied the white sugar so I filled that too.  I mixed and shook and got exhausted.  My husband helped and finished the mixing so that my arm could rest.

We had meal of leftovers including buffalo chicken panini, grilled buffalo mac and cheese, rice and other leftovers for Friday night.  On Saturday, my son asked for chicken fries and diced hash browns so I made them for him and me and my husband had a burger.  On Sunday, I made edamame, egg rolls and chicken lo mein stir fry from a bunch of things in the freezer.  YEAH using up what was on hand!! I am glad that I had the flexibility to do that this weekend and use a bunch of things so that they weren't wasted.

While making dinner, I realized that I needed to package and freeze the ground beef that I bought so I took the package and put it in individual bags to make at least 6 meals. Put them in the upstairs freezer but I need to carry them to the deep freeze in the basement.

We also spent some time on Sunday cleaning out the grill and seeing if we could get new parts for it again.  I am so glad that I have a husband that fixes things!!  He headed to Home Depot to pick up the needed parts with gift cards.  He used most of them recently to buy the attic ladder for our garage so I have a feeling that we are going to run out soon.  Buying another one through Swagbucks in July again because we still have tons of things that we need around the house!!  Hoping for a grill that I can work again so that I can at least preheat before he gets home if the occasion calls for it! Here is hoping we can get it cleaned up and working. The other great news is that we both cleaned the inside of it so it should work even better through the summer months.

I was excited to use the weekend to get my act together and clean the house and get everything ready to have a good week.  I am hoping to get lots done this week and follow this super productive weekend but that usually doesn't work out as well as I plan.  Great news is that I have a few days of no working while my son is still in school.  Plans to make blueberry strudel muffins and banana bread for the week.

How are you doing with the beginning of your summer?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 6/20

Monday- Spiedies Chicken and white rice
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Chicken fries, Popcorn Chicken with homemade fries
Thursday- Chicken Paninis with Leftovers
Friday- Barber Chicken with white rice
Saturday- Hamburger and baked potato
Sunday- Take Out At Restaurant

I finally got the whole plan written down to see what we were going to have for the month only to have another month mostly gone again.  The great news is that is official summer now and my little man is out of school.  We are going to have a little down time since I am done with camp, little man with school and my husband is done with the busy time.  We are going to have a little vacation time after all this before the 4th of July holiday.  We are planning for a really low key week since this is the last busy one!!  We have had a heck of a time trying to keep up with the dishes this month with so much to do.  I hope that you have a tasty week!

Friday, June 17, 2016

My Fathers House Book Review

I picked My Father's House: a novel by Rose Chandler Johnson even though I had some hesitation because it didn't look like a happy book.  I keep picking these books that look really serious and I thought that I should get some lighter reading for the summer.  I am glad that I fought the urge and got this book even with the heavy subject matter because it was a great book!!  I had trouble putting it down and going to sleep but it was a great story!

Growing up, life is idyllic for Lily Rose Cates due to one constant – her father’s love. But in her sixteenth summer, all that changes without warning. There begins Lily’s struggle to find herself and the life she’s lost. . . . Marriage promises fulfillment, but her happily-ever-after barely survives the honeymoon. Her husband’s sophisticated fa├žade hides a brooding man with even darker secrets. When all illusions shatter, Lily must make hard choices – abandon her husband or risk losing much more than her marriage. She flees their home in Detroit and sets out on a fearful journey to a house in Georgia that her husband knows nothing about. This is one woman’s compelling tale of love and survival as she finds her way back home to who she’s meant to be . . . in her father’s house. "...had it not been for Annie Ruth, I would have ended up right there rocking on the front porch beside Mama. Annie Ruth took care of me. She and Mr. John drove up in his dusty pickup truck every morning at six o'clock. She got out and came in, bringing her life and soul into the house...We were her cherished charges, and I was like her own." --My Father's House

This book was hard to put down because I had to find out what was going to happen next.  Lily Rose is working on making her life complete after loosing her father and her anchor in her life.  She works hard through college and makes many close friends but her life is still not settled as all of her friends are settling down and having families.  Lily jumped at her first serious relationship and ended up in a difficult and abusive marriage.  I don't think that it was stressed as much how hard it was to leave her husband because of her religious beliefs but you could tell that she had made a very tough decision to leave him and try to move on with her life.  The wonderful southern charm of the small town that she chooses to hide out in is essential to the story and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what other stories are going to unfold.  You will be amazed when you pick up this book and see all the action that happens and you will be pulling for Lily Rose too.  I hope that you check out this book for yourself because I know that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

**I was provided a copy of the book for my review and honest opinion.  All opinions here are my own.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Justified Book Review

I was excited to start the second book in the series right after reading the first.  Justified: A Novel (Mended Hearts Series) by Varina Denman was the next book which started from a different point of view in the same small town in Texas.  My son pointed out that it had a lot of chapters and a lot of pages but my husband assured him that I would read it quickly before the deadline.  I finished the huge book within 24 hours of starting so I obviously couldn't put it down.

Award winning author, Varina Denman, returns with a new story of love and second chances for a young mother and the small town's beloved football coach.  In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.  Justified perfectly captures the rhythm and romance of life in a small town, telling the unforgettable story of a woman searching for renewal, a man looking beyond what others see, and a community torn between judgment and love. It is the unforgettable story of broken dreams, second chances, and relentless hope.

I was interested to follow along with Fawn's life and how she is trying to start over after her parents threw her out when they found out that she was pregnant (especially after meeting her in the first book).  She moved in with people that she didn't call friends before and they quickly became her friends and family.  She counted on them and they did not disappoint by providing housing and emotional support while she got back on her feet.  She found a job one day a week doing accounting at the feed store and keeping the store in order on paper.  The pain and pleasure of a small town was clear in this book while Fawn was trying to live as an unmarried, pregnant women who was still attending church and making the choice not to marry the baby's father as is standard in the small town.  She learns a lot about herself, her family and people that she can trust while making her new life.  She ends up being very happy with the new life that she has created and as the reader, we get to see it all unfold.  I hope that you check out this book and all of the books in the series and that you enjoy them as much as I have!!

**I was provided a copy of the book with no expectations of a review in return because I am reviewing the third book in the series.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Jaded Book Review

I picked out the third book in this series to review and the wonderful publisher sent me all three books in the series.  Jaded: A Novel (Mended Hearts Series) by Varina Denman is the first book in the Mended Hearts Series so it is where I started.  I was really excited to start at the beginning and get them all read before the deadline for the review of the third book.  Challenge accepted and almost 1200 pages to read ahead of me!!

As a child, Ruthie was shunned by the local congregation. Thirteen years later, Ruthie’s heart begins to stir when an attractive single preacher arrives. But their relationship is bitterly opposed—unearthing a string of secrets which threaten to turn the church, the town, and her world upside-down.  Jaded is the rare novel that is both love story between a woman and man ... and God and His church. Plunging deep into the waters of shame, forgiveness and restoration, it will resonate with every woman who’s experienced a loss of heart ... and a thirst for hope.

Loved it!!  It took me forever to actually get enough time to read this without falling asleep but I really enjoyed the book and couldn't wait to find out about the story with Ruthie and how she was trying to live in a small town where she was basically shunned by most of the town.  She has a close friendship with her aunt, uncle, cousin, and very few other people in her small Texas town.  It makes you understand exactly how aliened she was from her mother and the rest of the small town while trying to stay and support her mother with a job at the public school and local grocery store.  It is a wonderful and heartfelt story getting to know Ruthie and other new members of the small Texas town.  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the series to see how much you will like it!!  The best thing is that the book is actually long enough to cover all the topics and it doesn't just end so I was so happy to read this wonderful story and I immediately picked up the second book in the series so stay tuned for that review!

**I was provided a copy of the book with no expectations of a review in return because I am reviewing the third book in the series.