Friday, October 21, 2016

40 Days to Joyful Motherhood Book Review

I was excited to see the cover of this "colorful" book because it shows some beautiful pictures and provides both devotions and coloring book to nourish mom.  40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood: Devotions and Coloring Book to Nourish Mom by Sarah Humphrey seemed like a book that would interest me because I am a mom and after a library program with coloring, realized that it is very relaxing.  I was hoping that this would be a great match for me.

Wouldn't it be marvelous if mothering came with a concrete set of instructions—an easy recipe we could follow? Instead, motherhood challenges women to find their faith, their true selves, and their family through daily doses of trial and error. It is a brilliant and healing time of life that is full of joy, pain, and beauty with a small side of crisis (and humor). What mothers do not know, they learn. And through this lifelong process of learning, they nurture and care for the most precious gifts on earth: children. In a modern society where moms often have a full and busy plate, these 10 minute daily devotions focus on six key topics of motherhood: • Self-acceptance • Self-care • Reconciling with grief, hope and expectations • Generosity • Presence • Forgiveness In addition to the devotions, these beautiful pages are adorned with handmade illustrations to help you refresh from long days or even occasional sleepless nights. So, grab your colors and a little quiet time for yourself while doodling at the kitchen table. You will be grateful you did!

I think that the title was a little misleading for the book.  The book was mostly about early motherhood and how to deal with lack of sleep and making a new life with kids.  I was looking for more uplifting information about any stage of motherhood.  The book has an introduction from the author and one from her husband and then goes into the substance of the book.  There was a introduction to each section and then one devotion for each picture.  Just getting to the actual coloring and relaxation part was a little more involved then I expected.  It is also specifically set up as one a day which is a lot for busy moms to get to done in a day.  There were about 42 pictures to actually color through the book and many had words and other things on them that didn't make them the relaxing pictures that I was expecting and not all were full page pictures but rather things that you should writing information on so it was more of a journal with coloring on them.  I thought getting some uplifting thought and then coloring while thinking about it would be good but I didn't really see that for me because some of the topics were tougher like miscarriage (day 13) or how our body changed (day 14).  It wasn't the book that I was looking for but I like the idea of an uplifting message with a page to zone out and color to relax but if you are looking for more of a devotional for new mothers, this would be a perfect fit.

**I was provided a copy for my review but all opinions here are my own.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Healing Quilt Book Review

I was excited to get to the last book in the Half Stitched Quilting Club and meet the new quilting students and see Emma and Lamar's next chapter in The Healing Quilt by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  I really enjoyed getting to know the new characters and visiting with the old ones!!  I hope that you check out this book and others in the series.

Retired Amish newlyweds Emma and Lamar Miller have decided to buy a winter place in Sarasota, Florida. But it wouldn’t feel like home if Emma didn’t take her quilting materials and offer classes. Wounded and hurting people have a knack for finding their way to her classes for some quilting therapy: Jennifer, a pregnant new mom; Mike, a charter boat owner; Erika, a wheelchair-bound teen; Kim, a waitress; Noreen, a newly-retired widow; and BJ, an artist facing illness. And when Jan, visits from Indiana, romance is also added to the class discussions.

I enjoyed this book and getting to know the new Florida setting for the quilting classes.  Every time there is a quilting class offered, Emma and Lamar meet more people who are hurting or need help.  Through their support and friendship, the people of the class grow and heal.  This time was no different with needing jobs, stronger marriages, health issues and more.  The characters in the book spend 6 weeks learning to quilt and end up with so much more then just quilting but their lives are changed.  If you don't know how that could possibly happen, pick up this book and check it out for yourself!!  I hope that you enjoy this book and the others in the series as much as I did!!  I hope that you add this book to your reading list.

I almost forgot to share the great recipe at the end of the book!!

Emma's Raisin Molasses Cookies

2 c raisins
1 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c molasses
4 c flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Rinse and drain raisins.  In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar.  Add eggs and beat well.  Blend in molasses.  Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.  Blend into creamed mixture.  Stir in raisins.  Drop by teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes.  Yields 6 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Hawaiian Quilt Book Review

I picked up this book at the library because on first glance I thought it was part of the series the Half Stitched Amish Quilters Club but it wasn't!!  The Hawaiian Quilt by Wanda E. Brunstetter is a book that stands on it's own.  I was glad to move this up to the top of the pile when the book was almost due back at the library.  I got a chance to read it before it was due back even though I got way too many books over the last few times at the library.  I was happy to find out what was going to happen in Hawaii!!

Mandy Frey has always longed to see Hawaii. So before joining the Amish church and considering marriage to her boyfriend, Gideon, she convinces three friends to join her on a cruise of the Hawaiian Islands.  Captured by the enchanting scenery and culture in Hawaii, their vacation turns into an extended stay. Special friendships are soon made, but home, family, and Gideon await Mandy back in Indiana. Will time away from the Amish community change Mandy's view of the world, her faith, and true love? Does a Hawaiian quilt have the power to bring two hearts together?

This was an unexpected book because I really thought it was going to be the newest book in the series that I was reading by Wanda Brunstetter.  The great news is that it isn't but still has great characters and great writing.  The bad news is that the description above found on Amazon is not great.  The main story line is that four Amish best friends save up money to go on a cruise to Hawaii because this is their last chance before settling into the Amish church.  They share a small room and go off on adventures on the ship and through the islands of Hawaii when the boat docks.  They are enjoying their vacation together until things go wrong when Mandy looses her cell phone.  I have never been to Hawaii so this was a great picture into the island through the eyes of the characters.  It really makes you want to visit and check out some of the awesome sights.  Mandy enjoyed Hawaii and the people so much that it was hard for her to think about leaving while her friends were eager to get home to friends and family.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens!!  I hope that you add this book to your reading list and enjoy it as much as I did!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 10/17

Monday- Tacos with spicy rice
Tuesday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken and homemade fries
Wednesday- Pasta with garlic bread and sausage (had leftover lasagna and other leftovers in the fridge like the tacos from Monday)
Thursday- Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken (HAHA, nope.  My son and I ate hash browns and my husband slept through dinner so probably had soup at some point)
Friday- Paninis and leftovers (My husband had corn dogs, my son had spaghetti, and I had BLT)
Saturday-Roast Chicken (Never took the chicken out because I had to work at 3 pm so didn't happen)
Sunday-Breakfast for Dinner

Last week was kind of a mess!!  Monday and Tuesday went according to plan until company arrived on Wednesday.  I totally had to change the plans for the week so I made a huge lasagna on Wednesday with some rolls from the store and a chopped salad.  I made lots of lasagna so actually had lots of lunch the next day, YEAH!!  I made a whole chicken with stuffing, sweet potatoes, french onion potatoes, and green beans.  On Friday I was out of ideas and energy so it was a little mix of a meal with Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Fries, Homemade French Fries and Salsa Sloppy Joes which everyone seemed to enjoy.  Saturday was dinner out after mini golf which my sister in law picked up the tab for our pizza and my husband bought ice cream afterwards.  Then guests were gone and my husband and were exhausted and sick so it was homemade doughnuts in the morning which held over all of us until an early dinner where my son and I had hash browns while my husband was sleeping.  Then I had to go to work so we got to have a little treat when we came home of the ice cream that our company left behind.

We are hoping for a better week this week but I don't have a clue when  my husband will be feeling better.  I think that I fought off most of it with a nap Saturday in the car while they were playing mini golf and another nap on Sunday.  My husband doesn't like to eat anything but soup when he is sick so the days are going to be changing based on what my husband feels like eating.  We are currently out of the taco powder that we normally prefer so we are going to use what we have on hand.  The great news is that I have a lot of things that I need to use up on hand that will go into meals this week.  Also great news is that since I had everything already to make for the three meals, my company brought other things to replace items that I needed like potatoes, eggs and popcorn which went directly into the stockpile to help out for the rest of the month.  Here is hoping that there isn't lots more to buy for the month but finally at the half way point!!  Hope you enjoy your meals and have a great week!!

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Devoted Book Review

I was excited to get another book by Suzanne Woods Fisher because she always has great writing and characters.  I was even more excited when I found out it was part of a series that I had already started reading... now I just had to wait not so patiently for it to come in the mail.  I cheereed when I opened it up but was sad because it had to go behind a ton of other books that were already on my shelf to read.  Luckily, The Devoted: A Novel (The Bishop's Family) by Suzanne Woods Fisher came quickly to the top of the pile and I got a chance to read it.

Bright, curious, and restless, Ruthie Stoltzfus loves her family but is stuck in a sea of indecision about her future: Should she stay Amish? Or should she leave? She's done all she can to prepare to go--passed the GED, saved her money--but she can't quite set her journey into motion.  Patrick Kelly is a young man on a journey of his own. He's come to Stoney Ridge to convert to the Amish and has given himself thirty days to learn the language, drive a buggy, and adapt to "everything Plain." Time, to Patrick, is of the essence. Every moment is to be cherished, especially the hours he spends with Ruthie, his Penn Dutch tutor.  Ruthie's next-door neighbor and cunning ex-boyfriend, Luke Schrock, is drawn to trouble like a moth to a flame. Rebellious, headstrong, defiant, Luke will do anything to win Ruthie back--anything--and Patrick Kelly is getting in his way.

I have enjoyed this series a lot!  This book was no different with the great characters and writing of all of Suzanne Woods Fisher's books.  The characters are dealing with the difference between the Amish and English worlds and making the choice before they join the church.  Ruthie is growing up a lot in this book and trying to make decisions while working as a tutor for an English boy, Patrick, who is looking to become Amish.  The questions and calm introspection that Patrick has is a wonderful tool to help Ruthie make some of the tough decisions for herself.  With the help of her Aunt Ruth who has joined the English world and become a doctor, Ruthie feels that she should make a difference in the world by helping people too.  Ruthie makes lots of tough choices but you need to pick up the book and read about her and all the other great characters in the book.  I hope that you add this book to your wish list because I know that you will enjoy it.


To celebrate the release of her new book, The Devoted, Suzanne Woods Fisher is giving away an iPad Mini!! Head to this page and click on the bar titled THE DEVOTED | SUZANNE WOODS FISHER.

*I got a copy of this book from the publisher to read for this review.  All opinions here are my own and were not a requirement from the publisher.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!! Shopping, Coupons and Deals, Oh My!!

So we had a busy weekend planned with a festival that we go to every year but it rained all day.  Who wants to do an outdoor festival in the rain? NOT ME!!

What else can you do when it rains?? Go grocery shopping of course! I was at the store for way too long and found more and more deals.  The reason I went to the store was to get the Saturday freebies (Swedish fish and Goodness Knows Bar) and the awesome $0.69 per lb whole chickens.  There was a limit of 4 chickens so I got 4 :)

Harris Teeter $31.31

The Puffs tissues were still on sale so I got four boxes for free.  I got two packages of Ivory soap for free after sale and coupon.  I got three packs of the yeast for $0.09 each.  I added the semolina flour to the basket from the clearance without a coupon (GASP!! ) but it was $1.89 and I really want to try to make pasta at home so I figured that it was worth grabbing one.  I got three Pillsbury biscuits and one Pillsbury crescent rolls which were on sale for $1 and I had a coupon for $0.30/2 so they were $0.70 each  which is way more then I normally spend but you will see why below.  I also got two packages of Betty Crocker fruit snacks which were shelf price of $2.99 and they were buy one, get one free and I used the $0.50/2 coupon so they were about $1 each (again way more then I normally pay but see below) and my son is almost out of them for his lunch so he will love this!! The Dixie Crystal Sugar was on sale for $1.97 so I used a coupon to get them for $1.17 which is almost as good as the deal I got the other day on the store brand.

I picked up a ton of deals more then I was expecting because of shelf signs.  I needed two rolls of Jimmy Dean Sausage and I had coupons ready to go to get them at $2 each.  It wasn't a great deal but I was ready to pull together a bunch of lasagna so I really needed it.  Then I saw the hang tag to get bacon for FREE!!!  I grabbed it and it was shelf price of $8.49 and I used a $1 coupon to save a little more so that means that I got an extra $1 off my other groceries.  I got cereal and decided to get the 8 items needed to get the free milk including the Betty Crocker fruit snacks and Pillsbury biscuits which I spent $4.79 but then I got free milk!!  Of course neither deal came off but the customer service person came to fix it at the register.  She just took off the bacon and just handed it back to me and manually entered the coupon for $1 and she took off $3.99 for the milk but it only cost $3.49 so that saved me more money on both deals. 

Harris Teeter $19.98
I got the two Saturday freebies only to go home and realize that they didn't come off the total bill for some reason!!  I went back to get it fixed and this time brought my son with me to help.  Together we did a second transaction with four chickens, three tissues, and three yeast just like before.  I also got a coupon for a free potato so I grabbed that too which I normally use to thicken soup so I got the loaded baked potato.  The main thing that I forgot in the morning was the ricotta cheese which was on sale for $1.50.  There was none of the whole milk one in the section so I grabbed the part skim and then found someone to ask.  She found me the whole milk one and we got lots of laughs but it was my last ingredient to make a bunch of lasagna for the freezer.

I turned in Ibotta rebates for $0.25 off any cereal and $0.25 Pillsbury Grands Biscuits so there is $0.50 in my account.  I have a lot of Saving Star rebates that I should get credited for when those are processed including $1/2 Honey Nut Cheerios, $0.75 Tiny Toast Cereal, $0.50/2 fruit snacks, $1/3 Pillsbury Rolls and there is another one for $0.30/2 for Pillbury Grands which I should also get for $3.55 total.

That being said, I can't pass up the whole chicken price (around $3.50 each) and because I was so far under budget last month, I am going to go a little over budget this month to stock up on the chickens that will last us through the winter months because we normally eat them once a week and enjoy the leftover chicken in lots of other meals like chicken enchiladas, fried rice, quesadillas, and more. Then I also make the chicken stock from the bones so it uses lots out of the $3.50.  I hope to stock up with at least 8 more chicken!!  So back to the store!!

Harris Teeter $34.37+ $7.89

So the whole family went to the store and I did my transaction with most of the stuff pictured here and four chickens and my husband checked out with the last two chickens in the store and three of the yeast.  I used up all the tissue and yeast coupons so consider us full stocked until I get more coupons!!  Super excited to get free Ivory soap and tissues.  Pumped to get the $0.09 yeast.  Also excited to get the Rev wrap which I kept forgetting to get which was $0.50 after coupon and I got two $0.50 rebates back so it was a money maker.  The Prego spaghetti sauce is still confusing me because it was $1.98 with an electronic coupon and printed coupon so I paid $0.48 and I was sure there was a rebate on one of the apps but I couldn't find it but I did get $0.10 back from Mobi Save so it was still a bargain although not free.  The olive oil was totally gone at home so I grabbed this little bottle which was shelf price at $8.99 (CRAZY HIGH) but on sale half off and I had a $0.55 coupon off which doubled so it was $3.40 for a 16 oz bottle.  Is that a good deal??  I forgot to check Aldi to see what theirs is but I remember that Nathalie didn't like one of them so I figured this was a better bet :)  I did get the Buy Two, Get Three Free Deal for the Coke products even though we still have plenty at home because it made it $2.80 a case instead of $6.99.

After the cashier scanned all my items, he told me that the scanner gun doesn't work and the new barcode doesn't scan on the machine so the customer service person had to come over and enter in the amount but he counted all my coupons as $0.50 instead of the different amounts so I quickly had to add them up and it was $14.60 in coupons so he added more money off to the machine so I actually ended up getting an extra $0.60 off because I don't think that he added the two numbers he put in correctly.  

 Either way glad that trip was over but we went straight to Home Depot to pick up insulation so my husband brought the chickens home and put them in the fridge and left the soda in the car for two days.  Oops!!  We were exhausted from getting 30 rolls of insulation for our attic so I think that we totally forgot so my son took a picture of that separate so that is why it is a little blurry because either his camera lens is that dirty or he didn't wait for it to focus but I said great work and finished making dinner so the soda could be cleared to the basement.

Aldi $13.19

I needed oil because I used the last of it and the mozzerella cheese for the top of the lasagnas.  I grabbed the salsa, lettuce, and saltine crackers because we were out of them. I added the celery and sweet potatoes to the cart because they were on sale.  The celery was $0.69 and the sweet potatoes were $0.99 so we are going to be having those soon.

Harris Teeter $6.87

I was in the middle of my crazy cooking spree with my extra surprise day off on Monday.  I had chicken broth on the stove simmering with the bones from the chicken I made the night before with all the leftover veggies in the house.  I made salsa sloppy joes for dinner later in the week.  I also made sausage spaghetti sauce because I was planning on making lots of lasagna.  The kitchen was a disaster after spending the morning cleaning it all up.

I made two smaller pans for the freezer and one big one for dinner with the family this week but I ran out of ricotta cheese!!  I was up to my elbows in lasagna and asked my husband since he was out and closer to the store to stop there and get it but he didn't sound like he was going to say yes.  So I ran to the store and grabbed the last chicken on the shelf and two ricotta just to be safe!!  You can't tell from the picture but I actually finished the container before taking the picture. Luckily I only needed one so there is another one in the fridge which is still good for a long time.

Long story short...too late (don't know what movie that is but I am thinking Clue).  We aren't even at the middle of the month and the budget is most certainly exceeded  the $160 monthly budget.  The great news is I think that I have gotten a lot of things in the month and stocked up on lots of chickens.  I probably will only need milk and a few other perishables for the rest of the month and I am hoping to make due with everything we have at home and my incredibly stocked freezer.

It is packed with chicken broth on most of the first shelf.  The second shelf has bags of chicken and ground beef on the left side and bags of cooked brown rice on the right.  There is another whole line behind of other bags of things like diced onions, onions and celery, enchilada sauce, pizza sauce, and more.  There are two pans of lasagna on top and one pan of stuffing on the bottom.  The third shelf is a bunch of things in the back including more chicken broth and chicken bones to make more broth but the front is a bunch of chickens and there are two tucked in the back so there are 13 chickens in the freezer (one in the fridge for this week and one already eaten).  The bottom section has mostly cubed up toasted bread to make stuffing or bread crumbs at a moments notice.  There are some other things on the door for easy access but it is really jam packed.  I think we are ready to live through a zombie invasion or at least a long winter.

Total Retail $326.07
Total Savings $212.46
Total OOP $113.61

Total Monthly Retail $451.11
Total Monthly Savings $277.10
Total Monthly OOP $174.01

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Wish Book Review

I was excited to read The Wish by Beverly Lewis because I had read so many books by Beverly Lewis so it didn't matter what series it went with it.  I love all the series and have read so many of them so the characters all seem like friends.  I was very excited to see what was going to happen next for this interesting friendship between Leona and Gloria. 

Leona Speicher got the "sister" she'd always dreamed of the day Gloria Gingerich and her family moved to Lancaster County Amish farmland. The Arkansas newcomers seem to be everything a devout Plain family should be, and Leona can't help comparing Gloria's engaging young parents to her own.

Leona's cousin shows a romantic interest in Gloria around the same time as Gloria's older brother expresses his fondness for Leona--it seems likely the two young women will marry into each other's families, remaining close friends for life. Thus, Leona is shocked when the Gingeriches suddenly pack up and disappear after being expelled from the church for reasons no one will discuss. Despite Leona's pleas, Gloria goes with them, leaving more than one broken heart behind.

When Gloria unexpectedly contacts Leona after a silence of several years, Leona makes up her mind to persuade her friend to return to Lancaster County and the Amish ways. Leona's fiancé, the deacon's son, is alarmed when Leona decides to go after Gloria. Will Leona's dearest wish lead to her own undoing?

The wonderful character of Leona shows how she grows as she grows older after loosing her closest friend Gloria when she moved away.  Gloria's family made her drop all ties with the Amish world that they left and they quickly left the Amish life behind for the English world.  I love seeing the Amish and English world in contrast to see all the difference in the culture and how they are different.  I enjoyed reading the changes in characters and how Leona grows up through out the story to realize what her beliefs are and how she is going to follow them.  I hope that you like this book as much as I did!!!  You need to add it to your wish list because this is a great read!!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House as part of their bloggers program. The opinions expressed here are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.