Friday, November 17, 2017

You Say It First Book Review

I got this from the reserve list with the new release list.  I was super excited when I saw that it was a new book in the Happily Inc. series.  You Say It First: A Small-Town Wedding Romance (Happily Inc) by Susan Mallery is the second in this fun series.  I enjoyed this town set up all around making brides and grooms happy with weddings of their dreams. 

Sculptor Nick Mitchell grew up in a family of artists and learned from his volatile father that passion only leads to pain. As he waits on a new commission, he takes a day job as a humble carpenter at a theme wedding venue. The job has its perks—mainly the venue's captivating owner, Pallas Saunders. Pallas adores Weddings in a Box. But if she can't turn the floundering business around, she'll have no choice but to cave to her domineering mother and work at the family's bank. Then when a desperate bride begs Pallas for something completely out of the box, her irresistible new hire inspires her. Nick knows she doesn't belong behind a desk, and she knows in her heart that he's right—where she really belongs is in his arms.

Pallas runs the local wedding business that does themed weddings with Roman, Cowboy and other themes.  She inherited the business from her boss after his death and wanted to make the most of the business.  In the process, she hired a carpenter, Nick, to fix the wooden screens who happens to be a famous artist.  Nick helps Pallas be more outside the box when she agrees to make a custom wedding for a game creator couple that is looking to get married with the game theme.  Pallas is quickly supported by her friends in the small town and realizes that she wants to change her business through the process.  I think that it is a great story of trying to find passion and dealing with negative things in your life.  It was an amazing story of how she decided what was important in her life and made steps to make her happy.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I have!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sugar Pine Trail Book Review

I got another reserve off my list and realized that I am getting down to the bottom of the list so I went through the new releases again and put a few on hold.  Sugar Pine Trail: A Small-Town Christmas Romance (Haven Point) by RaeAnne Thayne was one of the last four books on my list.  I can't run out of books because that would be horrible.  I am going to have to see what the rest of the winter is going to hold for me to read!!  Hope you have lots of great holiday stories on your list!!

An unlikely attraction brings comfort, joy and unforgettable romance this holiday season!

Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she's been living. She's made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn't one of them. Julia's looking to conquer life, not become the heartbreaker's latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia's care for the holidays, she'll take any help she can get—even Jamie's.

Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that's much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can't last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…

Julia Winston was the best character that I have seen in awhile.  She was trying to make the most of her life after loosing her mother and father and now living alone.  She decided to rent out half of her house to pay for her new furnace since she is working as a librarian and didn't have the money to pay for it after splurging on a new car.  Her new upstairs renter turns out to be Jamie Caine who is a pilot and newly moved to the area to work for his brothers company.  When Julia decides that having Jamie living there is going to be a huge distraction, she finds two boys who are living by themselves without anyone to look after them.  She decides that she is going to take them in so that they don't have to be separated and they can stay in the same school.  In a matter of a few days she goes from being alone all the time to having someone with her all the time and her life is turned upside down.  Julia and Jamie work together to help these young boys and end up getting a lot more.  I hope that you enjoy this book and get as much Christmas spirit out of it as I did.  Even though I needed a few tissues, I thought it was a great book and I had trouble putting it down.  I hope that you enjoy this fun Christmas story as much as I did.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Middle of the Month Budget Update for November

WHAT?!  I swear the month just started so I am not sure how we are here already.  It is going to be Thanksgiving right around the corner and it seems to have come out of no where! Of course when I added up my spending for the month, I was super glad that it was the middle of the month because I am already over halfway through my $160 budget for my family of three.

I love to use sales, coupons and other things to stretch my budget as far as possible.  It is always hard in November because my main goal is to get two turkeys.  Normally the turkey deals in this area require you to buy a certain amount of stuff to get the price per pound on the turkey.  This year was no different and I found $0.47 per lb was the cheapest price around.  I always get stressed about those deals because I don't want to be a little shy of the amount and end up having to scramble at the cash register to get the pricing.

This month has gotten lots of free stuff and here is the breakdown of everything that I got below and what I spent.  How is your month going so far??

Giant $3.99

I got these three freebies in my electronic $1 off 4 Gerber coupon that I couldn't pass up so I headed out to Giant to get my deals.  I had my son with me and they offer a free piece of fruit for the kids to have but my son decided that he wanted a banana to bring home for Dad because he doesn't like them.  I also grabbed the tic tacs at the last minute because my little helper wanted to get a special treat and I just happened to have coupons (even though I had to run to the car to get them while we were in the checkout lane).  They weren't labeled but they were on sale for $1.25 so $0.25 after coupon and I turned them in for $0.25 rebate from Ibotta.

Harris Teeter $34.11

I mostly went to get the Harris Teeter Taste and Tell which was the Yoplait Oui yogurt which was really tasty.  I also went to get the Cranberry Juice that was on sale because we have been out for months and my husband has been super patient waiting for the sales so that I could get them at $2.  I decided after running out soda last time and no sale coming for a long time that I would grab the buy two, get three free Cokes even though it was a large purchase to start a busy month.  There was a evic special on Pillsbury flour which I got but the sale price didn't come off so I had to go to customer service and they refunded the difference.

Giant $39.24

I got another freebie in my Giant account for Organic Spice Packet but they didn't have a lot of choices (see the 6 in the picture below) so I went with rosemary because it would be the most useful for us.  I decided to go because I needed to get the turkey deal and it turned out that the sale was ending that night so I got up after dinner and headed to the store.  The first store was out of chicken but they had the brownies that were on special.  I decided to go to another Giant and the second Giant had the chicken and not the brownies!  I decided to not risk going to a third one so I grabbed three things of chicken to make the minimum $25 purchase and grabbed two 14 pound turkeys and my free spice!

Giant $2.60

The deal on the brownies were that they were on sale for 10 for $10 and there was a $5 off coupon when you bought $10 worth.  I also used two printable coupons that I had to save an additional $2 and an electronic $0.50 coupon also came off.  The $5 coupon didn't come off but the cashier added it manually so this is the best deal on brownies since I got the freebies a long time ago.  My husband loves package brownie mix so much more then homemade so this won't go to waste

Harris Teeter $11.10

I was not looking to go this crazy at the store this week but I started looking at the list of deals and I just kept adding more to my list including the freebies which are the Puffs tissues, College Inn Broth, Fleschiman's Yeast, Betty Crocker Potatoes, Pillsbury Rolls, and Arla Cream Cheese.  I knew that I had to get to the store to get those.  I decided to add the Roast Beef because we love the sandwiches and I had one coupon left in my folder for it.  The Jimmy Dean Sausage was on sale for $1.97 limit 4 and I had two $0.75 printable coupons which doubled and $1 coupons from the insert to make them an amazing deal at $2.88 or $0.72 each.  To make the deal even better there was a deal to get $0.80 rebate back on three through Ibotta.  I got the Corn Pops which were on sale for $1.97 and I had coupons for $1 off in my printed folder so they were $0.97 which was more then I normally pay but we were low on cereal again.  The HT Canola Oil was on sale for $1.49 which is cheaper then I have been paying at Aldi so I grabbed the limit of 4.  My last find was the Barilla Protein Pasta which was on my list and the Barilla Collezione Pasta which were both on sale for $1.67 each and I had $0.75 printable coupons which would make them $0.17 each.  I got everything that I could because it is hard to find pasta for free anymore.

Harris Teeter $0.27

I got the last coupon that I had for the Barilla Collezione pasta and two more boxes for Puffs.

Harris Teeter $0.19

I was super glad to see that there were still some freebies on the shelves because it seems that they are having a hard time restocking during the sales anymore.  The great news is that I had two different College Inn Broth coupons and customer service said that I could use them to get 4.

Harris Teeter $0.17

I just couldn't pass up more of these great freebies.  It really makes me wonder how anyone would want to spend $18 on this when I can get it for the change out of my wallet.  My son was with me so he took all the pennies in the bottom of my wallet and counted them...we had $0.18 so he was ready to pay (I was holding the dime and the nickel just in case we needed them).  Turned out we didn't so he handed me a penny and the cashier the rest to pay for our shopping trip.

Harris Teeter $0.17

Did another trip to the store and got the amazing freebies!!

Harris Teeter $0.17

More freebies!!

Harris Teeter $0.17

More freebies!!!

Harris Teeter $0.17

More freebies but running low on coupons.

Harris Teeter $0.44

Went to the store and grabbed the freebies and added the cereal which I forgot to realize that it would be a money maker because of the sale and coupon but I checked out with a grumpy cashier and he wasn't patient with me trying to figure out what to do.  I should have run and grabbed lettuce or something but I tried to get something from the candy area and the lady behind me in wouldn't really let me look so I was super grumpy at the end of it all because I knew that I should have been more ready.

Harris Teeter $4.08

We were almost out of turkey again so I grabbed two that were on sale for $2.99 with a coupon for $0.55 which doubled so they were $1.89 each.  The cashier didn't scan one of my coupons so I had to go to the customer service counter to get the money back from the coupon but he changed something to take away the tax from it but at least I got the money back.


 Total Retail $439.04
Total Savings $342.17
Total OOP $96.87

I think that I did well this month so far even though I am above half of my budget but I got a ton and stuff and I am for sure ready for the holidays!!  I cut all the chicken and I am not sure how many meals it is going to make but I can tell you that there are a ton of bags of chicken in the freezer and it took two trips to carry them to the freezer.  I also got a pumpkin from a thing at school for I roasted the pumpkin and made tons of pumpkin puree which I used some to make two loaves of pumpkin bread.  There is some in the freezer for later!! 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Christmas in Icicle Falls Book Review

I am still in my process of getting the huge list of reserves that I put on my library account because there were so many new releases.  This book showed up on my shelf as another surprise when I went to return books.  Christmas in Icicle Falls by Sheila Roberts was the next book in the pile because I was trying to be better about reading the books as soon as I got them because I knew that I wouldn't be able to renew them.  It was a page turner so it didn't take very long to read this great story.

When Muriel Sterling released her new book, A Guide to Happy Holidays, she felt like the queen of Christmas. She’s thrilled when the new tree she ordered online arrives and is eager to show it off—until she gets it out of the box and realizes it’s a mangy dud. But rather than give up on the ugly tree, Muriel decides to make a project out of it. As she pretties up her tree, she realizes there’s a lesson to be learned: everything and everyone has potential. Maybe even her old friend Arnie, who’s loved her for years. Except, she’s not the only one seeing Arnie’s potential…

Meanwhile, Muriel’s ugly-tree project has also inspired her friends. Sienna Moreno is trying to bring out the best in the grouchy man next door, who hates noise, hates kids and hates his new neighbors. And while Olivia Claussen would love to send her obnoxious new daughter-in-law packing, she’s adjusting her attitude and trying to discover what her son sees in the girl. If these women can learn to see the beauty in the “ugly trees” in their lives, perhaps this might turn out to be the happiest holiday yet.

I thought that this was a good start to the Christmas season to try to get me over the Christmas funk.  It was super funny and filled with great stories when the person who throws the biggest holiday party can't get anything to replace the ugly tree she ordered online because the stores are sold out, she decides to make the most of it.  Inspiring everyone around her to make the most of their ugly things in their life.  Some might not like the message but there is always something not going right in our lives with horrible neighbors or new family members we don't get along with.  All the people in the town pull together with the help of the holiday spirit and being a better person.  My favorite parts were Muriel getting texts from her friends who went on a cruise that she passed on because she was having the hardest time being positive while she was telling everyone else to be positive.  Her jealous streak was strong but she tried to be happy for her friends.  I think that you will like how all the "ugly trees" turn out in this book but you have to pick it up to find out for yourself.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did!  I hope that it helps you get into the Christmas spirit.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 11/13

Monday- Chicken Fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade french fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Chicken Potstickers, Egg Rolls with Fried Rice
Thursday- Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken Nuggets with mac and cheese
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- Chicken Tacos
Sunday- Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes

I had a good week last week and switched Tuesday and Thursday based on the fact that the spiedies were defrosted earlier.  I was glad that it didn't make a complicated plan and that I was able to keep with it.  Of course I read ahead and thought that I was having pizza last week so I made that on Sunday so we are moving Chicken Tacos to this week since my brain switch the days.  This week is very similar with a simple easy plan.  I really need to try some new recipes soon when I have a little more time in my schedule.  I just bought three packages of chicken so I know that we be having lots of chicken in the coming months.  Hope you have a great week and enjoy some yummy meals.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Summer That Made Us Book Review

I knew nothing about this book when I put it on reserve except that there was a new book coming out by Robyn Carr. The Summer That Made Us: A Novel by Robyn Carr came on to my reserve shelf and I started reading it quickly so that I didn't have the same problem as the last few reserves that I have gotten.  It was a fast read and I got to go to bed early a few nights and curl up with the book which was so hard to put down.

That was then… For the Hempsteads, summers were idyllic. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything.

This is now…After an accident turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. None of the Hempstead women speak of what happened, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth.  Robyn Carr has crafted another beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships.

This book was a total change from other Robyn Carr books and I even had to go check the cover to make sure that I was reading the author that I thought.  This books was an emotional journey for the 6 cousins and their mothers to grow together after the summer that ended their summer fun 27 years before.  The family was splintered and Meg decided that this is what she wanted as her dying wish to go to the lake and spend time with family.  Charley went to the lake and hired people to clear out the trash and fix up the place so that they could stay over the summer months.  Meg invited all the family members by letter to join her there.  Krista showed up first straight from prison where she had been for 23 years for killing her boyfriend during a robbery.  Other people slowly starting showing up so that this family could use the time to heal.  It was an amazing book with great characters who all changed over the course of the book.  I know that I needed a few tissues towards the end of the book so make sure you are prepared and not reading it out in public because this one is emotional.  I hope that you check it out and enjoy this book as much as I did!!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Map of the Heart Book Review

I was surprised when a book showed up on my reserve shelf.  I put a bunch of things on hold and they seem to be coming off at the strangest times when I am totally not ready for a new book because I am already reading another and these books come with no renewals.  I normally have to read really quickly to get done before the deadline and this was no different.  I finished Map of the Heart: A Novel by Susan Wiggs in time and returned it to the library to then have to review it without the book which I hate to do but this was such a great book that I wanted to make sure to pass on the recommendation.

Widowed by an unspeakable tragedy, Camille Palmer has made her peace with the past and settled into the quiet safety of life with her teenage daughter Julie in a sleepy coastal town. Then the arrival of a mysterious package breaks open the door to her family’s secret past. In uncovering a hidden history, Camille has no idea that she’s embarking on an adventure that will utterly transform her.
Camille, Julie, and Camille’s father return to the French town of his youth, sparking  unexpected memories — recollections that will lead them back to the dark days of the Second World War. And it is in the stunning Proven├žal countryside that they will uncover their family’s surprising history.
While Provence offers answers about the past, it also holds the key to Camille’s future. Along the way, she meets a former naval officer who stirs a passion deep within her — a feeling that she thought she’d never experience again.

Camille Palmer is making the most of her life with her daughter Julie in Bethany Bay, Delaware after the death of her husband.  Camille is working with many people to develop film and work with historical pictures in order to make a living.  Her life is turned upside down when her daughter gets hurt and Camille uncovers that Julie is being bullied at school.  It is upsetting to see her child hurt and continually hurt but an unexpected family secret is revealed when a large crate is delivered to her father's home from his childhood home which brings up more questions then answers.  They decide to head to France even though Camille has a great fear of flying after loosing her husband.  The best part of this book is that they went back and forth between the past and the present so that you could get everyone's point of view on what was happening.  Of course, you have to pick up the book for yourself to see what happens but I promise that it is totally worth it.  This is a very different book by this author and goes into a lot of emotion and pain from the past.  It is best if you pick it up for yourself and check it out because I know that you will enjoy it.