Monday, December 11, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 12/11

Monday- Lasagna with sharable bread
Tuesday- Chicken Fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Wednesday- Philly Cheesesteak Pasta
Thursday- Chicken Potstickers with eggs roll sand fried rice
Friday- Leftover Night to recreate items in the fridge
Saturday- Barber Chicken and White Rice
Sunday- Meatball Sliders

Goodness last week was a little rough.  I got Monday's planned meal on the table.  I made Spaghetti on Tuesday with sausage spaghetti sauce for us.  Wednesday we changed the plan ahead of time to chicken tacos to use up some of the lettuce in the fridge and it was super tasty.  Then Thursday came and I didn't have the chicken taken out so I made Roast Beef Sandwiches for my husband which are grilled with melted cheese and a pot of mac and cheese because I was starving by the time that I made dinner, I also heated up some leftovers which I ate while cooking.  Has anyone else done that??  Friday night was leftover night and I cleared out most of the fridge and got us all dinner on the table.  Saturday brought family and Chinese food which we all over ate but enjoyed.  It left a lot of leftovers which my husband and I ate twice on Sunday which was like breakfast and lunch but we weren't hungry for dinner until like 9 PM because of the late time, we just had a snack instead but hoping for a better week this week.

Here is hoping that I can get this next week off without any problems.  I know that I have a lot of appointments and not a lot of time to do things and with this crazy schedule, I have planned an easy week of meals.  I hope that you have a yummy week!!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas at Grey Sage Book Review

I was excited to read another Christmas book when I saw Christmas at Grey Sage by Phyllis Clark Nichols.  I really enjoy reading about all of the different Christmas traditions and this was a greatly different one because it was set in New Mexico.  It was also very different because everyone in the book was trying not to celebrate the holiday because of the sadness.

Nestled in the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe, the Grey Sage Inn looks like the perfect place for weary travelers to escape the craziness of the Christmas season. There's plenty to see in historic Santa Fe during the day, and the inn's owners, Maude and Silas Thornhill, are happy to spend their evenings hosting this year's guests from across the country.

But an unusual snowstorm throws a wrench in the festive mood. The sprawling inn becomes close quarters as stranded guests discover this Christmas won't be the relaxed vacation they expected. Tension and fear mount as the storm worsens, and Silas, a retired doctor, is called away in the middle of the night to care for a neighbor. The snow and stress unlocks tongues--and in the unexpected conversation that follows, secrets and pasts are revealed, and hearts are healed.

In the midst of snowdrifts and fireside conversations, of tales of days gone by, the warmth of Christmas brings a renewed hope as these trapped strangers become friends--proof again that the joy, hope, peace, and love of Christmas can be experienced no matter where you are.

This was a very different Christmas story set in the small town in New Mexico with an unlikely ground of Christmas travelers staying at the Grey Sage Inn which has been closed for over 20 years during the Christmas holiday.  Maude and Silas Thornhill love to have guests at the Inn but the holiday season has been hard since they lost their son many Christmas's before.  The guests arrive and have a great visit with trips to the art galleries and restaurants and fun food and fellowship at Grey Sage.  They pack up to leave and end up having lots of problems that land them back at Grey Sage because the weather is too bad to travel anywhere else.  All of the Christmas plans are changed but everyone is having a great time and enjoy making the most of this new Christmas spirit they are sharing.  If you want to get a little touch of this Christmas spirit, you just need to pick up this book and get into the story because I know that you will have trouble putting it down.  I hope that you check out this great Christmas story about healing and rebirth.  I think that you will enjoy it as much as I have!

**  I received a copy of the book for my review but all opinions here are honest and my own.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2017 Review of Monthly Spending

As always happens at the end of the year, I try to go back and figure out how much I spent and how much I saved at the grocery store.  I try to track everything every month but I sometimes don't do the best job in writing it all in the right place to find it at the end of the year so I spent a little time going back through my blog posts.  Luckily, I found all the spending right away but I didn't find the savings for April and May so I was obviously really busy or had some trouble tracking it for those months.

My monthly budget for all of our grocery spending for our family of three is $160 per month.  I track all of the items that I bought so that I can see what we are getting and how I am spending my money.  It includes all our groceries, paper products and anything else that you buy at the grocery store.

I also added another budget category this year in the middle of the year that I started tracking with take out and eating out for $40 because I really feel that those two are a little linked because if you are eating out more then you should spend less on groceries or the other way around.  It means that I have $200 for the month for both.

Here is how I did for the year:

                     Spending     Savings

January          $214.69      $450.10
February        $92.83        $59.67
March            $133.65      $139.14
April              $131.47      $
May               $181.00      $
June               $73.65        $354.54
July                $173.82      $301.33
August           $167.65      $671.21
September     $76.38        $261.21
October         $164.96      $843.92
November     $162.67      $627.12
December          ?                  ?

Total             $1572.77     $3708.24
Average        $142.97       $412.03

Maybe I will have time to go back and figure out what my savings was from April and May before December month end but if I don't, I still think that these averages look pretty good.  How did you do for the year?  Ready to set some goals for the new year?

I am hoping to keep the same budget next year.  It takes a little more work to make the numbers work with less deals coming less frequently but I know that if I work hard, it will work out for another year.  Luckily, my pantry and freezer are really full so I am ready to start off the year right.

I am hoping that you are ready to have a great year end too!!!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Love in Plain Sight Book Review

I was interested in getting to the books that I had on my shelf that I got from the free shelf at the library or the library book sales with my free coupons.  The first one at the top of the pile was Love in Plain Sight: Love 'n' Marriage\Almost An Angel by Debbie Macomber.  I didn't realize until I started that it was two shorter stories which was interesting.

Sometimes love's right there in front of you

As Stephanie Coulter discovers, sometimes you find it in the most ordinary places—and what could be more ordinary than the office? Stephanie, who works as an assistant at Lockwood Industries in Minneapolis, is temporarily assigned to the boss—Jonas Lockwood himself. Jonas lives up (or down!) to his reputation as a tyrant, dictator and grouch. But Stephanie's colleagues, romance readers all, decide that he's really the classic lonely hero. What he needs, they say, is Love 'n' Marriage. And the woman they have in mind for him is…Stephanie.

Bethany Stone, on the other hand, is already in love with her boss, Joshua Norris, although their relationship is strictly business. But one day he asks for her help—outside the office. Joshua's ten-year-old daughter, Angie, is coming to live with him and he has no idea how to raise a precocious little girl. Angie might be Almost an Angel, but she quickly develops a matchmaking plan for her dad—and Bethany!

I thought this was a fun book and really enjoyed reading both short stories.  The first book is call Love n' Marriage and features Stephanie Coulter who is working as an assistant to a wonderful man who is on vacation.  She is called up to work as an assistant to the boss when his assistant is out sick and she quickly makes an impression.  Jonas is the boss and Stephanie finds him very mean and grouchy so she quickly shows her personality.  After she moves back down to her job, she feels better about her time upstairs working for the boss until HR throws another surprise her way, she is going to be his assistant for a special trip to France because no one else speaks French fluently.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens on this crazy work trip.

The second book, Almost An Angel, Bethany has been working for Joshua Norris for years and she is totally in love with him but he doesn't even notice her.  She has decided that it is too painful for her so she wants to find another job.  At that same time, Joshua has his daughter come and live with him and asks Bethany for help.  Bethany becomes even more involved in Joshua's life and his daughters.  It is so wonderful to be more a part of his life and to watch him change that she doesn't quit her job but then everything goes terribly wrong.  You have to read this great story to find out what happens because I think that you will be amazed and the fast transformation.  I enjoyed both stories and I am glad that I came upon them in my book pile.  Can't wait for the next great read!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 12/4

Monday-Chicken Fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Chicken with mac and cheese
Thursday- Chicken with white rice
Friday- Leftover Night to recreate items in the fridge
Saturday- Meatball Sliders
Sunday- Philly Cheese Steak Pasta

Last week was busy but went pretty well but I still haven't completed the December meal plan yet but starting to put together a plan for this week so trying to make sure that we get in meals around all the things to do on the menu.  I hope that you have a yummy week!!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

November Month End Budget Numbers for Groceries and Eating Out

I had a busy beginning of the month with working on getting the deals on turkeys which turned out to be unnecessary later because the Harris Teeter turkey deal kept going the next week with plenty of things that I could have gotten but at least I got lots of things that I will use but our freezer is jam packed and I really need to clean it out (and defrost it)!!  I moved things around but I am looking forward to having lots of food on hand and just figuring out when I am going to use them.

I went a little crazy with a few big trips this month early on but I still had a bunch left after the Thanksgiving break but they confirmed super doubles and I still thought it was plenty of money to make it through but I might have gone a little crazy because of that thought but check out what I got for the month.  The first half of the month had details are here but all the totals and pictures are below.  I got a bunch of things that we are totally going to use for months to come!!  We have almost all the stuff still in the pictures in the house because we were busy using the things we already had on hand.

Giant $3.99

Harris Teeter $34.11

Giant $39.24

Giant $2.60

Harris Teeter $11.10

Harris Teeter $0.27

Harris Teeter $0.19

Harris Teeter $0.17

Harris Teeter $0.17

Harris Teeter $0.17

Harris Teeter $0.17

Harris Teeter $0.17

Harris Teeter $0.44

Harris Teeter $4.08


Aldi $4.94

I was super excited to get the low prices potatoes and celery as well as the milk that we needed.  It was a great sale week.

Aldi $2.96

I went to the new store to get a free bag, key chain and when you checked out, you got $5 off $30 for three weeks so I grabbed the last thing on my list.  There were also lots of things to taste which was nice because they were things that I have never bought before!!

Harris Teeter $31.66

I went to get the weekend freebie which didn't come off at the register so I had to go to the customer service desk.  This was a 3 pack which was a big surprise and I got to use a coupon to get an additional $1.50 off my order.
I also wanted to get the last yeast with my last coupon for free.  I saw that they had Hillshire Farm on sale for $2.50 and there were some with $1 meat clearance and I had a printable coupon for $0.75 which made them free.  I got more cranberry juice which I got to turn in for $0.25 Ibotta rebate for any item and $0.25 for cranberry juice.  I went a little crazy getting the Cottonelle deal because they were $3.87 a package after evic special and coupon and I was supposed to get $2 catalina but I didn't get one and customer service said that they couldn't help me.  I have to call the customer service to get my money back :(

Giant $0.16

I got a freebie for the Mrs. Fields cookies which I added to my card.

and then there was a Betty Crocker coupon which I added to my card to buy one, get one free although it was super hard to figure out what was going to come off when I used the coupon because it said free $2.18 on two but then read differently when you opened it up.  It ended up coming off on the shelf price which was $1.69.  There was another electronic coupon for $0.50 off that also came off so the two were basically free because they were on sale for $1 each and I got to use a printable coupon for $0.50 off 2 so I put an extra item in my order to cover the overage.

Awesome deal that I paid mostly just tax with a little pre-planning!!

Aldi $3.26

It was the last day of the sale so I grabbed 20 more pounds of potatoes!!  I can't pass up the Thanksgiving sale price and we love potatoes!

Harris Teeter $1.64 

I got the Dominos Sugar because we were almost out of sugar and I got the free Hillshire Meat and Cheese pack after the meat clearance.

Harris Teeter $0.85

I grabbed two of the Tetley Tea and the Little Remedies Sore Throat Pops which was mostly free except it turned out that the receipt didn't have the Tetley ringing up at shelf price.

Harris Teeter $2.27

I got a ton of things at the store and got to use the $3 for customer service rebate from a missed Catalina from before.  The Mueller pasta, Crest Toothpaste, Chobani yogurt, Pillsbury biscuits, and Perfect Bars were free after sale and coupons.  The meatballs were $0.24 each after sale, coupon and electronic coupon. The Grown in Idaho tater tots were $1.49 and I turned in a rebate for Checkout 51 for $1.00.  The Alexia Tater Tots were $1.79 each.  We needed lunch meat which was $1.89 after sale and coupon.  One of the coupons didn't ring up so I went to customer service to get it back and the Tetley tea didn't ring up correctly so customer service gave me $6.81 for the missed coupon and wrong priced tea so this was an amazing trip all the way around!!!! I am going to get another $1 from the Pillsbury biscuits.

Harris Teeter $0.37

I got Mueller's Pasta, Yakisoba Noodles and Crest for free and only paid tax.

Harris Teeter $11.18

I went to the store to get a few key items like the free Mueller's pasta, Celentano Cheese Ravioli, Crest toothpaste and Oral-B toothbrushes.  The shelves were already empty on many of the items like tea and Yakisoba noodles.  The deal on the Crunchmaster crackers ended up to be better then expected because they were on sale for $2.24 each and I had a coupon for a $1 which doubled but some electronic coupon also came off on each bag so they were a $0.76 money maker.  I also got to turn them in for a Checkout 51 rebate for $1.  I also wanted to get the KidFresh deal because I gave one to my friend before because I couldn't remember why this one was such a good deal.  They were on sale for $3.50 each and I had a coupon for $1.25 off two which doubled making them $2.25 each for these chicken nuggets.  I got $1.50 catalina back from the purchase which doubles during super doubles on my next purchase.  I turned them in and got $1.50 from Checkout 51 and $3 from Ibotta so another money maker.  My favorite deal was the Alouette cheese which was on sale for Buy 2, Get 3 free with a shelf price of $5.99.  I used two $1 coupons and three $0.75 coupons which took off $8.50 so they were $3.48 for all 5 of them!!  I also got to turn it in for $2 back from Checkout 51 and $5.00 from Ibotta so it was a super money maker.  I finally found the Dinosaur Oatmeal which was on an evic special for $0.97 each.  It didn't ring up and I went to customer service and they gave me one free and fixed the price on the second which is why my total is lower then I thought.

One of my last additions to the cart was the Finish dishwasher tabs which was $2.79 after sale and coupon because we have been low on dishwasher detergent for awhile and I haven't had coupons to get anymore.  It makes these $0.14 per load instead of $0.26 so it is some savings at least but not the best deal that I have ever seen for sure.  There were probably going to be more on the shelf later in the sale but I don't like putting off anything because you just don't know.  Most of my coupons had to be overridden so it took awhile to checkout but I think that it was well worth it with my savings.

Harris Teeter $4.98

The medicine was on sale for $5.99 from $7.69 which was the shelf price.  I had a $1 coupon which expired on that day so I got them for $3.99 each and then I used the $1.50 catalina from the KidsFresh purchase which doubled.  We will certainly use these this cold season!!

Aldi $1.53 

Our milk was past the date so I was hoping to stop at the less expensive Aldi and the price went up from $0.98 where it has been for a long time to $1.49.  I probably shouldn't have gotten it knowing that I was over budget already but I was passing by and thought it was going to be a little lower priced but still not a crazy price for milk.


 Total Retail $790.12
Total Savings $627.45
Total OOP $162.67

I don't think that it was too bad being $2.67 over budget but I could have stayed under budget if I didn't go crazy on the last day of the month!!  This super doubles is certainly leading to a few good deals that have overfilled my pantry.  I have to go through and clean out everything and try to rearrange things but my pasta stockpile is overflowing and since it is one of my son's favorite foods, I know that it won't go to waste!!  

I put in rebates for the month and I have already gotten $22.90 from Ibotta, $5.50 from Checkout 51 and should have at least $2.14 from Saving Star when ever those finally clear.  Lots of money back to get used for some Christmas shopping!!

I have gotten most of the things on my list but I do need to go to Wegman's and get some flour and ground beef which should be my biggest purchase in December and Aldi's for chicken fries and popcorn chicken with my $5 off $30 purchase.  

If I can get some of the baking and cooking done that I haven't had time for, I know that we will have tons of things for the month of December.  I probably need to make the time to clean out my pantry again and get it organized because of the influx of soup, stock and pasta which all go in the same cupboard.  Here is hoping that moving things around finds some room that was otherwise missing.  Part of the meal plan is done for the month but I need to finish it up now that I know about basketball practice and some of the time that family is going to be in town.  

Hope you had a great month and are ready for another one going into this busy season!!

Eating Out

I was tough last month and held strong to not eating out until we traveled and then we grabbed the most economical option that made my son's night.  We had Little Caesar's pizza in the car through Pennsylvania for dinner because the trip was taking forever.  Total spent eating out was $5.30.  Although my son was not deprived from having pizza because we had Domino's at his end of season soccer party which was a treat from the coach and he had Papa John's at a birthday party and Little Caesar's at a family gathering purchased by grandparents so this was a pizza heavy month any way.  Super happy that we came in well under our $40 budget especially since I was a little over the grocery budget.

Friday, December 1, 2017

November Reading Review

Below is a list of all of the books that I have read for the month and my total books for the year.  I normally try to read more then 100 books a year and I track them on my blog to keep me accountable.  My second goal after getting to 100 books is to try to get as close to 150 as I can but most years that is a push that I don't make because the end of the year is always busy.  In addition, I review them here so that hopefully you can add some that interest you to your reading list in the future.  Make sure you click on the title if you missed the original review because it will take you back to my original post and give you a summary and my review of the book.  Luckily, I haven't read a lot of books this year that I didn't enjoy but hope that you enjoyed some of them too!!

But in truth, it is mostly to keep me on track for my own reading to make sure that I don't get the same book twice.  For whatever reason, I often stand at the new release section of the library and see what I can read but they keep books there for almost a year so I might have read it so long ago that I forget.  If I am at the library then I can search on my blog and see if I read the book before easily right from their computer or my phone.  I tried using a notebook but I don't do the greatest job at keeping it with me when I went to the library so I didn't always know unless I planned ahead.  I tried using Good Reads online so that I could look at the library or at home but I did a horrible job of actually updating my shelf.  I tried keeping two lists on Amazon:  one for books to read and the other for books that I finished.  How do you keep track of your books that you want to read and books that you have already read because I am exhausted with all my systems??

by Susan Wiggs

by Robyn Carr

by Shelia Roberts

Sugar Pine Trail
by RaeAnne Thayne

You Say It First
by Susan Mallery

Positive Discpline Tools for Teachers
by Jane Nelsen and Kelly Gfroerer

The Girl of His Dreams
by Susan Mallery

Playing by the Greek's Rules
by Sarah Morgan

Huckleberry Christmas
by Jennifer Beckstrand

My Italian Bulldozer
by Alexander McCall Smith

Total Books Read for 2017

January    8
February  15
March     17
April      13
May        10
June         10
July          15
August       17
September  13
October      8
November  11

Total Books Read    137

Currently Reading:

Love in Plain Sight
by Debbie Macomber