Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Naomi's Hope Book Review

I knew that I had read something by this author so I was excited to read this book. Naomi's Hope (Journey to Pleasant Prairie) by Jan Drexler is part of the Journey to Pleasant Prairie series.
When I actually looked up the book, I realized that I read the first book in the series and missed the second book and this was the third.  Okay, I didn't actually realize that until I looked it up online but I had a feeling.  Although disappointed that I missed the second book, I am glad that I got to read the first and the second books.  This is an interesting historical fiction series that still makes you relate to the people even though the characters are living hundreds of years before us.

Despite growing pains in her 1846 Amish community in Indiana, Naomi Schrock has settled into a comfortable life in her parents' home with her adopted son, Davey. Surrounded by family and friends, she tries not to think about the fact that she's not at the top of any man's list of potential wives. Yet when Cap Stoltzfus moves into the area and befriends Davey, Naomi finds herself caught between the plans she has made for her future and the tantalizing thought that Cap might be part of a life she never dared to hope for.  When a couple shows up claiming to be Davey's true family, Naomi and Cap must unite to make the decision that will determine the boy's future as well as their own. How can she relinquish him to these unknown relatives? And can God somehow bring wholeness to her heart?

I know that I was going to be reading an Amish fiction just from the cover but I didn't know anything else about the book before I started it.  I realized on the first page that this book started in 1846.  I started to remember that I read another book in this series.  I was ready to find out what this one was going to be about and once I started reading, I couldn't put it down.  Naomi was an interesting character that had me wondering what was going to happen next.  I couldn't help but love Davey as much as she did and I was totally invested to find out what was going to happen every step along the way.  Cap was an interesting character and I knew that he was a good person after getting to know him through the amazing descriptions.  The three main characters were all amazing and helped to really draw the picture of the time that the book was set in for me but still make me feel connected to them.  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the series because I know that you will like them as much as I did.  This book stands on its own without the other books in the series but I still hope to go back and read the second book in the series soon.  I hope that you do too!!

**I was given a copy of the book to read for my review but all opinions here are my own.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Middle of the Month Budget Update for June

For those of you new to my blog, I  track all of my monthly spending for all my household expenses.  I try my hardest to keep my grocery and household goods spending under $160 per month for our family of 3.  We also like to have occasional treats out like pizza, ice cream or other take out so we budget $40 for that.  Together, I am excited to stay under $200 for the month for both expenses which helps us stay under budget for all of our monthly expenses.

I can't believe that it is already the middle of the month.  I have been shopping but I don't think that it is too bad because I had a lot of couponing to start off the month.  We are getting low on a few things so I am trying to get creative and use what we have so that we don't have to stock up on too many meats and expensive things this month but I don't know how that will go.  I did work a lot with summer camp because it requires more preparation and clean up so I didn't have a change to make homemade things that I normally do so we were running really low on lots of things that we needed.

Harris Teeter $8.87

I got lots of free stuff including the shampoo, tea, gum, sausage and pizza crust but I paid for the cheese, olive oil and vitamins.  It was great to get so much for free but the olive oil was about half of the total so it was a lot more then I was planning on when I went to the store but less than it could have been.

Harris Teeter  $1.37

I got a bunch of free stuff like the shampoo, gun, tea, candy, sausage, and pizza crust.  I paid only for the cheese and the Zatarain's rice but I think that I got a little overage with the override on the pizza crust so it was almost all tax!!

Harris Teeter $4.34

My husbands shampoo was on sale and I had a coupon and it was super doubles so I felt like I had to get them.  When I went to put them away, I realized I already had two so we really shouldn't need any shampoo for ages especially with these huge bottles!!!

Aldi $32.86

I went mainly for milk and there was only a few minutes to shop so I grabbed as much as I thought we needed.  I got a ton more then I probably needed but it was supposed to keep me out of the store.... I guess it did but only for about 5 days.

Harris Teeter $7.26

I got an evic deal for a free Lara bar so I grabbed one and the last four boxes of Granola Bars on the shelf because there was another evic deal for $1.77 each for 4 boxes.  My son only had two left from the last stock up so I grabbed my limit and all that they had at the store.  Sadly, they are almost all gone and I need to get more already but at least they were low priced.

Aldi $7.26

Went to the store with my son to grab some treats for a pool play date that we had and some stuff to get us through the week.  Although I probably didn't need all the junk food, I was happy to have some special snacks for the pool.  We were out of ice cream sandwiches already after only five days.  All three of us love these nice treats after a long day so they are going quickly with only 12 in a box.  I might have to stop being silly and just buy two boxes!!!

Target $9.26 +5.93= $15.19 used Gift Card $0 OOP

We went to Target and my son picked out the Pringles for our special treat which we almost finished on the way home.  He wanted to try a new vitamin so we got those and got the regular ones that we had just in case he didn't like the other ones.  I had a gift card so it was no money out of pocket which was a great addition to the budget this month.  I still have more left and I might go and grab some groceries with it but not over the weekend cause it is way too busy!!

Harris Teeter $0.53

They were out of the Mocktails so they replaced it with any Ocean Spray which was actually sort of sad because I had a coupon for the other one so I would have gotten more stuff for free.  I also qualified for the Taste and Tell so I got to pick free peanuts.  There were tons of flavors and if I picked only for me, I would have gone with the salt and vinegar but since I was sharing with my husband, I went with the crabby chesapeake flavor.  YUM!  I splurged and grabbed one of the Kellogg's fruit snacks that were on sale and they had peelies on the front so they were $0.50.  It was a little treat for the end of the school year for his lunchbox.

Total Retail $294.41
Total Savings $231.92
Total OOP $62.49

I am excited to have almost $100 left in my monthly budget and a long list of things that I am going to try to make over the weekend to get us ready for a full cupboard and lots of food in the house.  I am hoping that helps to use the rest of the money to stock up on things that are getting low in the cupboard but sales really determine what gets purchased so we will see how that goes!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 6/19


Monday- Pasta with Pizza Bites
Tuesday- Chicken Fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Wednesday-Grilled Chicken with white rice
Thursday-Tacos with yellow rice
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- ?
Sunday- ?

Last week was busy but meals were right on track.  My son's favorite meal on Monday.  Two different leftover pasta meals and a homemade pizza on Tuesday.  Wednesday was spicy honey mustard breaded chicken (my son even ate one) and mac and cheese.  I chopped up the whole chicken on Thursday and put a little Italian dressing and beer can chicken seasoning.  It was yummy on the grill and cooked up pretty evenly with the way I butchered it.  We ate it with white rice and corn on the cob. YUM!  We had leftover pizza on Friday from my husband's work which was nice because I didn't have to do anything.  I was exhausted after two weeks of summer camp with my kids so I was excited for that fact.  Saturday was lunch on our own and I made a chopped salad with pan fried pepperoni, fresh corn on the cob and homemade croutons with the leftover grilled chicken for dinner.  It was a yummy treat made from lots of leftovers. On Sunday, I simple fried rice with the last of the leftover chicken and some frozen peas with the homemade chicken broth I made last week.

I have planned most of the food we have in the house to be made this month.  I have done great with butchering the whole chicken so that we can grill them and use them all so I might be doing this with the other ones because it wasn't that much work and made tons of food to have leftovers for a few meals.  I am also working on making lots of breadcrumbs from all the frozen bread in the freezer because we are totally out of them.  I took 6 bags of bread and made them into a little over one gallon size of breadcrumbs.  We are going to be set for awhile for sure!!! 

I am sure that I can clear out the freezer and maybe even get a chance to defrost this summer but I am still going to have to buy some more protein to get us through July and our vacation.  I normally stock up on lots of treats to take with us and I haven't made any plans to do that yet so I better get busy!!  I will have mostly chicken broth left in the freezer when I am done with my mission of cleaning out the freezer!!  I can easily store that in the two regular freezers that I have and defrost the big guy!!  My aim is end of July or beginning of August.  I guess we will see if I can get it done :)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Any Day Now Book Review

I reserved this book and just knew it was by an author that I really enjoy.  I was hoping to find out that it was the next in a series that I had enjoyed but wasn't really sure before I started searching when I got the book.  It says it right on the cover but I totally missed it!!  It is the second book in the Sullivan's Crossing series which I really enjoyed the first one a ton so I was excited to read this installment.  Pick up Any Day Now (Sullivan's Crossing) by Robyn Carr and check it out for yourself!!

The highly anticipated sequel to #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr's What We Find transports readers back to Sullivan's Crossing. The rustic campground at the crossroads of the Colorado and Continental Divide trails welcomes everyone—whether you're looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or a whole new lease on life. It's a wonderful place where good people face their challenges with humor, strength and love.  For Sierra Jones, Sullivan's Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She's put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn't yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet. Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she's always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it's a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan's Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.

Starting this book, I had no idea what to expect because I didn't see anything but the cover with stairs on it so I was ready to find out what it was about.  I jumped right in and had trouble putting it down (even though it was a heavy hard back book which is way harder to read in bed) so I finished it quickly.  I enjoyed the wonderful writing and getting to know Sierra and Conrad "Connie" who are the main characters in this book but you also get to see a little of Cal and Maggie who were featured in the last book.  Sierra is dealing with a lot with rebuilding her life in Sullivan Crossing after fleeing her previous home to live with her parents and then rehab to try to stay safe.  There are a ton of surprises in this book and a lot of action.  Sierra is learning to rely on her family and be stronger with her new "family" to make her new life.  I hope that you check out this book and the other book in this series to see all the great things about Sullivan's Crossing and the wonderful characters in this small country town.  I enjoy this one as much as the first and I know you will too!!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Friends We Keep Book Review

I am pretty big on reading series in order but it doesn't always work out for me because I do silly things and start a book that I can't put down before I realize there are other books in the series.  With this series, I started with the third book that I reserved without knowing there were others in the series and I went back to the first one and then got to The Friends We Keep: A Novel (Mischief Bay) by Susan Mallery which is the second book in the series.  So if you want to start this series in order, make sure you don't start with this one but add it to your list and get the whole Mischief Bay series!

After five years as a stay-at-home mom, Gabby Schaefer can't wait to return to work. No demanding toddlers, no stepdaughter throwing a tantrum. But when her plans are derailed by some shocking news and her husband's crushing expectations, Gabby must fight for the right to have a life of her own.  Getting pregnant is easy for Hayley Batchelor. Staying pregnant is the hard part. Her husband is frantic about the threat to her health, but to Hayley, a woman who was born to be a mom should risk everything to fulfill her destiny—no matter how high the cost.  Nicole Lord is still shell-shocked by a divorce that wasn't as painful as it should've been. Other than the son they share, her ex-husband left barely a ripple in her life. A great new guy tempts her to believe maybe the second time's the charm…but how can she trust herself to recognize true love?

I think that I really related to this book because it was about Gabby, a mother who was trying to figure out what was going to make her life make sense.  She had twin girls and wanted to get back to work since they were headed off to school.  Her husband loved her deeply but wasn't helping as much as he thought that he was.  Hayley was another friend who was trying to get pregnant and not having any luck because she kept loosing the babies.  She was willing to give up everything to have a baby and almost lost her life and marriage in the process.  It really puts things in perspective because there isn't really a reason to give up everything for this one fact which Hayley learns to realize.  Nicole is learning to make her way after her divorce when she realizes that she really didn't loose much because her husband left very little mark on her life other then giving her a wonderful son.  It is amazing to watch all three of these women's lives unfold and intertwine.  I know that you will enjoy this as much as I have so make sure you pick it up and find out what happens.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I did!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Already Home Book Review

I has grabbed this book at the library when I was there before the holiday weekend grabbing books in a mad rush because I was afraid that I was going to have to go through the holiday weekend without books.  Luckily, the few books I found got me through :)  Already Home by Susan Mallery was sitting on the shelf and I decided that it would be a good choice even though I didn't know if it was part of a series.

After nearly a decade as a sous chef in a trendy eatery, Jenna is desperate for a change. She’s supported her ex-husband’s dreams for so long that she can’t even remember her own. Until she sees a for-lease sign near her parents’ home and envisions her very own cooking store.  Her crash course in business is aided by a street-wise store manager and Jenna’s adoptive mother. But just as she’s gaining a foothold in her new life, in walk her birth parents—aging hippies on a quest to reconnect with their firstborn.  Now Jenna must figure out how to reconcile the free-spirited Serenity and Tom with her traditional parents, deal with her feelings for a new love interest and decide what to do about her ex’s latest outrageous request. In the end, Jenna will find that there is no perfect family, only the people we love.…

I really enjoyed this book and thought it was the perfect summer read.  Although it was super emotional, it was a great story about how Jenna rebuilt her life after losing her career and husband.  I love all the books that have cooking in them so this was one that I knew that I would enjoy when I started but it was way more then that.  Jenna started over in her childhood town and opened her own cooking store after working for years as a sous chef.  She knew nothing about how to run a store so the trip through that was interesting.  The strangest part was her dealing with her birth mother showing up in the middle of this life change.  She was totally side swiped by the emotion she had to deal with with the loss of her husband, job and compounded with dealing with both of her mothers.  I loved meeting and getting to know her mothers and watching everything going on in the store.  In order to find out what happens you need to pick up the book and see for yourself!!  I hope that you check out this book from the library or bookstore and enjoy it as much as I have.  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Evening Stars Book Review

I grabbed this series at the library and was excited to read through it although it went too quickly. Evening Stars (Blackberry Island) by Susan Mallery was the third book in the series that I read through so quickly and returned to the library before even getting the review posted.  I can't believe how fast that series went but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Small-town nurse Nina Wentworth has made a career out of being a caretaker. More of a mom than their mother ever was, she sacrificed medical school so her sister could break free. Which is why she isn't exactly thrilled to see Averil back on Blackberry Island, especially when Nina's life has suddenly become…complicated.  Nina has real life to deal with: she's unexpectedly juggling two men, Averil's marriage is on the rocks, their mother is living life just as recklessly as she always has, and Nina's starting to realize that the control she once had is slipping through her fingers. Her hopes of getting off the island seem to be stretching further away…until her mother makes a discovery that could change everything forever.

I know that I always feel this way about books but the last one is always the best one but I think that is because it is most fresh in my head.  I loved following Nina through this book because we got to know lots of other characters in the earlier books and this was a look into a character that we didn't know a lot about yet.  Nina gave up her whole life to support her mother's flightiness and her sisters future.  When given a chance to have a new life with a boyfriend, she has trouble choosing between two men that she ended up dating at one time.  She was upset that she spent her whole life feeling like a failure to come down to everything happening all at once.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens but I promise the ups and downs are amazing and you will be amazed at the outcome.  I hope that you check out this book for yourself and enjoy it as much as I did.