Friday, March 23, 2018

High Cotton Book Review

I thought this sounded like an interesting book even though I haven't heard of the author or the series before.  I decided that it would be fun to try this new book and check out an author that I haven't read before.  High Cotton (Bucklin Family Reunion) by Debby Mayne is the first book in this new series so it was a great place to start.  Who wouldn't want to read something with ice tea on the cover?! 

Some families are filled with so much love they can't help but drive each other crazy. Shay Henke has mixed feelings about going to her family's next reunion. On the one hand, she'll get to see everyone in her mama's family--folks she loves unconditionally. On the other hand, she knows there'll be more drama than you can shake a stick at. The days leading up to the event bring one surprise after another. First Shay must deal with her sister-in-law's deep, dark secret. Then she has to contend with the childish ways of her business-mogul twin cousins. And when her high school crush wants to be her date to the reunions . . . well, it may have been a dream come true for Shay's teen self, but the woman she's become doesn't know what to make of this. Shay's contentment is challenged, and she's determined to shake things up a bit. But will she find the excitement she's looking for, or will Shay realize she prefers her quiet predictable life? One thing is certain: Life in the Bucklin family is never boring.

This book followed a few different family members including Shay, Puddin', and the Twins.  They were all trying to figure out what they were going to do to make their best life.  Shay was in a job that she was good at but didn't love.  Puddin' was working but keeping it a secret from her husband.  Shay finds out about the secret and is in the middle of the lie with Puddin' and her brother, Digger.  It is a small town where it is hard to keep a secret but Puddin' still isn't ready to spill the beans.  There are a lot of things going on in this story so make sure you pick up the book and find out some of the other secrets going on in this small town and big family.  I hope that you check out this book for yourself and enjoy it as much as I did.  It was a great southern story about a big family that is super judgmental and loving.  It was funny and heartwarming which made it a great story.

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sisters Like Us Book Review

I put this one on reserve at the library not knowing anything about it because I have read a bunch by the author and loved them.  It turns out that Sisters Like Us (Mischief Bay) by Susan Mallery was part of the Mischief Bay series which I have really enjoyed.  I got to see another character that I remember in passing from previous books and I got to know more about him.  I love when that happens because it really makes you remember the past books but also enjoy the characters and the setting in the current book.

Divorce left Harper Szymanski with a name no one can spell, a house she can't afford and a teenage daughter who's pulling away. With her fledgling virtual-assistant business, she's scrambling to maintain her overbearing mother’s ridiculous Susie Homemaker standards and still pay the bills, thanks to clients like Lucas, the annoying playboy cop who claims he hangs around for Harper's fresh-baked cookies.

Spending half her life in school hasn't prepared Dr. Stacey Bloom for her most daunting challenge—motherhood. She didn't inherit the nurturing gene like Harper and is in deep denial that a baby is coming. Worse, her mother will be horrified to learn that Stacey's husband plans to be a stay-at-home dad…assuming Stacey can first find the courage to tell Mom she's already six months pregnant.

Separately they may be a mess, but together Harper and Stacey can survive anything—their indomitable mother, overwhelming maternity stores and ex’s weddings. Sisters Like Us is a delightful look at sisters, mothers and daughters in today’s fast-paced world, told with Susan Mallery’s trademark warmth and humor.

I thought the book was a little different then the description that I found on Amazon that is listed above.  The book was mainly about two sisters who were trying to make their best life and move forward with their lives.  Harper is recovering after a surprising betrayal and divorce and trying to make a living and support her daughter.   At the same time working hard means spending less time with her daughter because of all the other things she is juggling and it is putting a strain on their relationship.  Stacey is trying to maintain her career and have a baby.  She is finding it hard to imagine how her life is going to change when she has a baby because she doesn't think that she is mom material.  Both sisters feel like the other sister has it more together when they are looking from the outside but the thing that they have in common is their mother.  She has moved guilt to a higher form then I have ever seen expecting the women to go out of their way to keep their husband's happy by making a perfect home including setting a seasonal table with custom made napkin rings for a weeknight meal.  There are expectations that neither sister can live up to and it makes things very hard for both sisters.  I thought that this was an amusing book that had a lot of family drama that most people can relate to although maybe on a greater scale then I hope most people have to deal with daily.  I think that I picked Harper as my favorite early on although I was rooting for both sisters.  I hope that you pick up the book and root for them too!!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 3/19

Monday- Chicken fries, Chicken wraps and homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Tacos
Thursday- Chicken Stir Fry with white rice and edamame
Friday- Leftovers or Chicken Paninis with soup
Saturday- ?

I think that this week was okay up until Wednesday where I got all the meals on the table and we enjoyed a pretty slow week but then Thursday, I wrote a to do list the day before and lost it...still don't know where it went.  I forgot to take out the chicken so we had a frozen pizza Thursday night.  By Friday, we were all exhausted.  My son went to school but said that his stomach hurt all day and was just not feeling great so we left the playground right after school which is unheard of for my little active man.  We went home and got into PJs.  I didn't have a ton of leftovers but I was trying to decide on dinner plans since we were just not feeling it.  I offered hash browns and pancakes and my son seemed excited by them.  I made the hash browns and he said that it hurt his throat to eat and my husband said he wasn't hungry so I got to eat hash browns for dinner.  By Saturday morning, they were both sick and they ate chicken noodle soup, pancakes and ice cream sandwiches with a little soda that I bought at the store.  It was a rough day and a tough end to a tough week but I knew that my son was fighting something and I was hoping he would get enough sleep to fight it off.  Sadly, both of them spent a sick weekend on the couches.

I am hoping that we are going to be better by Monday but I might be aiming a little high so I will change the menu based on my sick ones and what they are interested in. We are starting Spring Break and we are hoping to do lots of fun things but I just don't know what or when based on sickness but I know that we are going to pack in a fun filled family week!! Meals will have to be flexible and we have two gift cards to restaurants so we will probably use some if we are out and can't make it home in time to eat.  I hope that you have a good week planned!!

Friday, March 16, 2018

His Risk Book Review

I was excited to read another book in the Amish of Hart County series by Shelley Shepard Gray because I have enjoyed all of the other books so much.  His Risk: The Amish of Hart County by Shelley Shepard Gray is the 4th book in this 5 part series.  The fifth book is already on Amazon and says that it will be coming out July 2018!!!  I am so excited because I love this series and this small little town and I can't wait to meet more neighbors.

New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray brings us another compelling suspense in her Amish of Hart County series, this time featuring an undercover English DEA agent who will do anything to protect the Amish girl he loves.  Calvin Fisher left the Amish community at fourteen and never looked back. Only his brother’s illness can bring him back to Hart County.  Now, as Calvin works to make amends, he meets Alice, a local nursery school teacher, and falls hard for her. But he has a secret that could threaten the happiness he’s finally found.  Alice shouldn’t like—or want—Calvin. He’s English, has a questionable past, and an even more questionable job. Still, she can’t help being intrigued. Though Calvin assures Alice that he’s worthy of her, she’s torn between surrendering to her growing feelings and steering clear of him. When a sudden surge of criminal activity alarms the community and even targets Alice, Calvin fears that his double life has put everyone he loves at risk. As for Alice, she can’t help but wonder if the brave and honorable man she’s lost her heart to is far more dangerous than she could ever imagine.

Calvin Fisher left the Amish community after living through a horrible childhood which lead him to the English world and in trouble with drugs.  He is starting to turn his life around with the help of his brother and then he gets a call that his brother has cancer. He goes back and visits his brother to try to support him and meets Alice who is house sitting across the road for her brother.  She immediately makes him feel better and calms him.  Alice is drawn to Calvin as well and isn't afraid of him even when she finds out more about what he does for a living as a gang member running guns and drugs.  Then the truth finally comes out after a crazy discovery of who damaged the school house and who is after Alice because of past transgressions.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens because you would be amazed at the ups and downs in this book.  I loved it as much as the other books in the series and I highly recommend you check out this book and all the others in the series.  I know that you will enjoy them as much as I have!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

It is the Middle of the Month Already or Is it the END????

Every month, I budget $160 per month for my family of 3 for all our groceries including food and  household goods.   I shop sales and coupons to get the most for my money and stretch our money out through the month to get the best deals.  I like to cook and bake most of our meals at home and do a monthly meal plan to spread out the meals a little more evenly.  We budget $40 a month for eating out or take out.  With a plan for dinner around the events in our lives, we are able to choose when we are going out and look forward to a special treat.  I share what I get every month at the store so that you can see it is possible to spend very little and still feed your family every night with yummy meals.

I was exhausted after my first back to back super doubles.  The first one was three days and then there was the second one right after so it was 7 days straight of different sales and coupons.  I was so overwhelmed with the amount of the deals that I really needed or that were money makers to pay for other things.  I got so much that my son opened the freezer and said "Holy Rice" and my husband didn't understand and didn't ask.  Later my husband opened the freezer and he said "HAHAHA  Holy Rice!  I get it now!"  The freezer had the bags of frozen rice across the top so you couldn't see anything else.  I got them for free so I got all that I could of course!!

I went sometimes during the day and then again at night which was exhausting but I got lots deals and saw lots of different stores to try to get the stock because it was a tough sale for finding stock in stores.  I don't know if I remember all the prices or deals and why I got money back at all the stores but I am going to try to explain each trip to the best of my ability.

Harris Teeter $4.99

I went to get some of the free things but top on my list was the diapers because I was stocking up on them for my shower gift for my cousin (of course she just saw them but she asked for them so it isn't a huge surprise).  They were $1.99 per package so they went quickly.  The Barilla, Swiffers, Wish Bone, Findlanda, and Chobani were all free.

Harris Teeter $16.36

I got three packages of diapers for $1.99 each.  The Swiffer, Garnier, Peas, Barilla, Finlanda, and Jones sausage were all free.  The bacon was a huge splurge at $0.99 per package but I enjoyed the yummy lunch that I had with them and I will enjoy it lots this month.  I got the Windex because we were down to only 2 and they were $1.50 each.  I got the turkey lunch meat to replace the one that I had when the power went out so we had to trash it.  It was $3.49 after sale and coupon.

Harris Teeter - $2.64

I went to another store with my couponing buddy and I tried out the catalina and it didn't work because their catalina machines weren't working.  Customer service gave me back the money so instead of using it towards a future order, I subtracted it off here so this one was a money maker.  It was a tough break because the catalina doubles so I was looking forward to using it to make an even bigger profit.

Harris Teeter $2.79

This was my second transaction that I was hoping to use the catalina from the first to pay for but there were still some good deals that I couldn't pass up.  I got free shampoo, Barilla, Sweet Tarts.  I paid $0.50 for the huge bottle of Dawn which has been the price of the smaller Dawn recently so I decided to grab two.  My deodorant was on sale half off so I got two and turned in the rebate for $0.50 on Ibotta.  The Poise was $0.99 after sale and coupon and there was a $3 rebate so I turned that in on Ibotta.  The customer service person gave me my money back for the missing catalina so I didn't have to worry about that and took it off my total spent since I got it in cash.

Harris Teeter $3.76

I got the free Barilla, Shampoo, Rice, Sausage and Chobani so the only thing that I paid for was the chicken.  I decided to try these for dinner and they were tasty.  They were on sale for $2.99.  I got the catalina from the shampoo to use on another transaction.

Harris Teeter $0.42

These were all free and I only paid tax.  I got the catalina finally and I did a little happy dance.

Harris Teeter $1.72

This included free Barilla, Garnier Shampoo, L'Oreal Shampoo, Jones Sausage and I grabbed 5 deodorants and the $0.99 Organic Rice and used the catalina to pay for it.  Another catalina came out to use for another transaction.

Harris Teeter $0.36

This was for three shampoos and I only paid tax but I can't find a picture of them so I don't know what happened here.

Harris Teeter $4.42

I was trying to figure out what I was going to get based on what was left in the store.  I got the free shampoo and pasta.  I got the Crunch Master Crackers which were $0.24 each.  I had the catalinas to use so I went a little crazy.  I got three bags of the Baked Chicken which was $2.99.  I got one of the Perdue Chicken which was $2.50 after sale and coupon.  I think that I must have used two catalinas to pay for this transaction.

Harris Teeter $0.77

Everything was free except the $0.09 Sweet Tart Ropes which were $0.09 so I paid for that and tax on this transaction and was supposed to trigger a catalina from the shampoo but it did print at the register that I was at and the customer service person refused to credit me so I had to call customer service to get the money back on my account.

Harris Teeter $7.27

This was my splurge trip and I was going to pay with the catalina but I didn't have it so I was a little sad because I had to pay for everything out of my pocket.  I should have put things back but I was a little confused and just got everything.  My son requested ice cream sandwiches and Brown Cow ice cream.  They were $1.99 and $2.49 each.  I got the $2.99 Baked Chicken Nuggets and the $0.99 Mahatma Rice.  The Colgate toothpaste was free after coupon.

Harris Teeter $0.19

I got only the free stuff at the store so I paid for tax.

Harris Teeter $0.14

More free stuff and more tax.

Harris Teeter $0.60

I went to the store and got three shampoos and three swiffers and got my catalina to use on my next transaction.  I paid only tax on these.

Harris Teeter $25.90- $2.00= $23.90

I got the free Noodles, Noodle Bowls and Eggs.  I don't know what I was thinking but the Cottonelle was a great deal because you got the Evic special pricing on 4 and there was a $0.75 coupon off on each and then when you bought $15 woth, you got a $3 catalina to use on your next transaction.  It worked out to an amazing deal and I couldn't help getting more although I now have 168 rolls so I really need to pass on the next deals and save money in the budget for other things.  I got the Glad trash bags which were on sale and there was a coupon to get them for $3.97 per box.  I decided that while I was going crazy that I should get the evic deal on the Pringles because they are $0.97 and there was a $1 off 2 coupon that doubled to make it super cheap.  Although my highest total out of pocket of any of my trips.  I am sure that I used one of my catalinas to pay for this too.During one of the last trips, I gave a few coupons to my couponing buddy to get the last catalina on the shampoo so she kept the shampoo and gave me $2 towards half of the catalina so that I could use it towards this transaction and I almost forgot to subtract it out of my budget.

Harris Teeter $9.86

$1.49 Cheez-Its, $0.74 Cocoa Pebbles and $0.99 Rice which I used the $3 catalina from the previous transaction to lower the out of pocket costs.

Harris Teeter $4.46  

I had been looking every day in multiple stores and they didn't have the diapers but they were finally back in so I grabbed two more packs.


Giant $0.10

I went to the store to get the freebies which were the Fage Crossover, Muuna Cottage Cheese, and the Tic Tac Gum.  I used a coupon on the gum to get overage which paid for the Ortega seasoning which was on sale for buy one, get one free so I paid only tax.

Harris Teeter $9.69- $6.00= $3.69  

This trip was a little crazy and I went to customer service and returned a bag of frozen rice that was open so it spilled all over my bag by the time that I got home and I obviously wasn't going to eat.  They didn't have a replacement for it so she gave me $2 back.  I bought all my groceries and I don't know if I did it one or two transactions but I was so tired when I made it home that I took it as one.  I got the free noodles, noodle bowls, tea, eggs, bomerang pot pies and pizza dough.  I got the Cheez-Its Grooves which we have never had because there was a rebate on them through Checkout 51.  They were $1.49 each and I turned in a rebate for $3.  There was a credit that was supposed to issue and they tried to fix it and they issued me the money at customer service.

Target $0

I used my Pay Pal money to place an order for the Quaker granola bars that my son likes because they haven't been on sale at the store recently.  They were on sale at Target and I got to use my free money that I transferred to Pay Pal from Ibotta and Saving Star so it was a great addition to the budget and the pantry.

Harris Teeter $3.21

I got the noodles, noodle bowls and tea for free.  There was a promotion on the So Delicious Yogurt and Milk.  If you buy four yogurts, it takes off a free milk.  The yogurts were on sale for $1.25 but I had coupons to get $1 off 2 so they ended up being $0.25 each.  I used a coupon for the milk too and it gave me $1.25 off because it only doubled to the price of the yogurt but gave me enough that I got all of them for free with $0.25 overage.  The Cheez-Its were $1.49 per box.

Harris Teeter $1.61

I was totally confused by the time that I finished the checkout and I was down to my last two coupons on my card with a few more things that I wanted to get.  I got these two because I thought that I had two Saving Star rebates for these but there wasn't one for the cereal so either it expired or my tired brain made it up to justify buying these.  My son didn't like it but I thought it was a great and tasty snack although it cost me a $1 which is above my price for cereal especially without the rebate coming back.  The Cascadian Farms granola bars are for me and I paid $0.50 after sale and coupon and I will get back $1 on Saving Star for the Cascadian Farms bars.  Not like I was throwing away money but my tired brain shouldn't have been making choices this late at night.

Harris Teeter $ 4.32

I went to the store to get the free cream cheese, free noodles, free noodle bowls, free tea and free juice with money making rebate.  I got $2.15 back from Ibotta and $1 for the Pringles from Checkout 51.

Aldi $4.99

We were out of milk.  There was a lot of excitement in the house because between my son drinking and recipes, we used up the milk before it went bad which had been a problem here with lots of winter colds.  I grabbed two bags of the popcorn because we only have 3 lbs left in the freezer so we will surely need some and it is a seasonal item at Aldi so I don't want to miss the "season."

Harris Teeter $0.05

I ran to the store to get the weekend freebies of the Oreos and the yogurt.  I decided to grab the noodles and use two coupons.  I only paid tax.

Harris Teeter $8.96 

I wasn't expecting another trip to the store but three of us went to the store to see what we could get.  I decided on the free noodles and noodle bowls to use up the last of my coupons.  I got the juice for free after coupon and turned it in for a rebate.  I got the Honey Maid Smores Cereal for $0.74 and turned it in for $0.50 rebate.  I got the meatballs for $0.99 after sale and coupon and then I turned them in for a $1 rebate for Checkout 51 on each bag.  I got the Quaker Breakfast Flats for $1 each and turned them in for a $0.50 rebate each.  I got one Breakfast Squares for $1 and turned it in for $0.50 rebate.  Because there were so many Ibotta rebates I got a $3 promotion and I also got a $0.50 promotion for getting both Quaker promotionsIn case you don't have an internal calculator, after rebates I got $11.40 back in rebates just on this order so I am glad that I went back to the store even though I didn't want to spend more money out of the budget.

Harris Teeter $3.63

I went back to get the two deals that didn't need super doubles and only regular doubles because my Ibotta rebates reset.  I got $0.50 for each item and $0.25 any item and $1 bonus so it was $3.25 back in rebates so it was a great deal that I just couldn't pass up.

Aldi $19.13

I went to the store because my son enjoyed the ice cream sandwiches from Harris Teeter but told me that he liked Aldi better.  I was in the area to get my car serviced and I decided to grab most of the things on the list that I would need later in the month except milk.

Total Retail $1078.51
Total Savings $949.45
Total OOP $129.06

I hope that you had a great first half of the month!!  I was so busy but I got a ton and saved even more.  I had so much fun last month with the Splenda catalina that this one was even more fun but the catalina machines made it a little bit of a challenge.  I was not sure how much I actually saved because I had so many not print and I am not sure if I even got the right amounts back from customer service when I called but I think that I saved around $39 with the catalinas that I got and the cash back from the ones that didn't print so it seems like it worked out well except it was way lower then last month because there was limited supply of the shampoo to get even though we got additional coupons.

I got back a ton of money in rebates including $21.90 in Ibotta, $7 in Checkout 51 and $2.55 in Saving Star plus additional 1% of the Nabisco and P&G products which I have no clue how much that will add up to.  I got a total of $28.20 back from the items that were already great deals.  I don't count this money back into the grocery budget because I don't transfer it into my bank account but rather my Pay Pal so I used it for other things and we call it our free money.  It has paid for school pictures, Stride Rite Shoes, Home Depot Insulation and Vitamins and Granola Bars at Target.

Although I totally over spent in the first half of the month with all the purchases, I hope that this will keep us out of the store for the rest of the month with all that we have at home.  I know that there is tons of food at home since it will barely fit in the cupboards again.  I think that the only big thing that we are out of is Cranberry Juice so I might have to check Target to order with what is left of the Pay Pal money in the account or find a sale somewhere with the money remaining in the budget for the month ($30.94).  I hope that you have a great rest of your month and enjoy some yummy deals!!

Eating Out

We haven't gone to any restaurants but we had a special treat to see a local college basketball game and my son wanted to get a treat so my husband bought him a movie theater sized bucket of popcorn which is mostly ate himself and was upset when I finished off the little bit at the bottom of the tub.  We spent $6 on eating out so far this month.  We also have two gift cards to go to restaurants from my son's team to thank my husband for coaching and for one of my husband's birthday gifts.  We are going to be having some fun times out of the house over Spring Break at the end of the month so I am leaving our take out budget for there because we will likely use it while driving. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Biscuit Pizza Recipe

I was looking for a creative dinner one night when I decided that I was going to roll out the biscuit dough to make pizzas.  We made one per person the first time and then made 5 the next time so that we could have extra because we liked them so much.  I got these biscuits free with a past sale at the store so I was looking for creative ways to use them.

My son likes peeling and popping the cans so he is always in charge of that.  What kid doesn't like to do that?! After the biscuits came out, I dipped them into the corn meal.  Neat that it fits right in there and I don't have to use a bowl!

Then, flipped and did the other side because if not, they were sticking when they were rolling out and I swear that you can't taste it that much but it adds that pizza texture to the bottom.

I put it on the cutting board and rolled them out one and a time with the rolling pin.  My son did a little bit of the rolling but I wanted to get them extra thin so I normally did a little more rolling just to be safe.

Then, I put them on the pizza pan that we have which I love because there are holes through so that the air lets it cook on both sides at the same time.  Wonderful for anything you don't want to have to flip and we have more then one because we love them so much.  We did all different kinds for dinner with buffalo chicken pizza, pepperoni pizza and white garlic pizza.

I baked them at 350 degrees in the oven for 13-15 minutes and they came out nice and brown.  Just watch closely because this crust turns brown very quickly and the first batch was a little overcooked and not as tasty.  This batch was super tasty and all got eaten!!

We really enjoyed these yummy homemade pizzas with a quick and easy short cut of using a can of biscuit dough.  I hope that you try this the next time you can't figure out what to do with that extra can of biscuit dough.  Of course our favorite recipe is doughnuts (recipe found here) but when you are looking for a quick and easy dinner look no farther then biscuit pizzas!!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 3/12

Monday- Chicken Fries, Chicken Wraps and homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- French Dip with mac and cheese
Thursday- Chicken with rice (maybe stir fry)
Friday- Family Fun Leftover Night
Saturday-Homemade Pizza
Sunday- ??

Last week was a little mixed up but we had my son's favorite dinner on Monday and Pasta on Tuesday.  I sort of forgot to take food out of the freezer until Wednesday so we had Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken with mac and cheese.  On Thursday we did Salsa Sloppy Joes with frozen rice.  Friday night we decided to watch Mulan 2 because my son is studying ancient China and we had dinner by the television with toasted ravioli, homemade cheese sticks, buffalo fried rice, and chicken fries.  It was a fun dinner and great time watching things in the movie that he has been studying.  We are going for an easy week this week after last week's very busy shopping week which you will see later this week all the groceries that I have gotten.  I am hoping that an easier week with have time to catch up on some of the things around the house.  I hope that you have a tasty week!!!