Monday, June 30, 2014

Lots More Trip to Harris Teeter!!

I was sad to miss one day of Super Doubles and I swore that I would keep going even though I was exhausted with lots of other things to do because there were so many deals that I haven't gotten!!  There are so many different deals going that I can barely keep up with all the coupons.  I know that most of the deals are ending at the end of the month so I didn't have a lot of time to get them done.  So sorry that I didn't post the sales as I got them but I was busy cutting the new coupons that I had too.  It is hard to keep up when super doubles is going on for me but here are a few of my hauls.

I used a rain check to get the Kleenex because we were totally out and my parents were in town so I got them and used a coupon so they were $0.50 each.  I got the So Delicious Milk, Brach's gummy candy, Vidal Sassoon Shampoo, Chinet, Tide, Clear Shampoo, Horizon Mac and Cheese, and Yakisoba Noodles for FREE.  I got three more Cabot cheese for $0.50 each!!  Cheese is something my family eats a lot of and that is a great price to stock up at so I want to get as many as I can.  I decided to go with the All detergent deal which made them $2 each.  I forgot to grab my eggs so the customer service person went back and got them for me and I went to get my rain checks.  Got to love great customer service!!!  I used my $3 catalina from Giant to pay for part of the total.

Total Retail $85.58
Total Savings $78.55
Total OOP $4.03

I got the Perdue Chicken Nuggets, Horizon Mac and Cheese, Domino Sugar, and So Delicious Milk which were all free.  I grabbed my three blocks of cheese for $0.50 each.  I got the last of the Off items that I needed for the Saving Star deal to get $5 back.  I bought the two Deep Woods Off sprays which were $4.49 so after the great printable coupon I found for $2 off, they were $0.49 each!!  I thought it was enough to get the $5 back but just in case they don't count, I bought my last Off Clip on refill which was $2.49.  Saving Star takes so long to calculate the results that when it comes through if I am way over, I will return this one.

Total Retail $58.98
Total Savings $53.48
Total OOP $5.50

There were a few more coupons in my stash so I got some free noodles, Starlight mints, and So Delicious Milk.  I grabbed my three blocks of Cabot cheese for $0.50 each.  My son picked out Bugles which were $0.89 for both and I will get $0.50 back from Saving Star so they will be really cheap and they are my son's favorite.  I got the Lipton tea which was $0.30 per box.  I should have gotten the smaller box of tea bags which would have been free but I thought that I needed some overage to cover my rain check deal.  There were a lot of things on my list that were already gone so I pulled out the rain checks and got the L'Oreal Shampoo for $3.99 each ($1 savings per bottle) and I used coupons to make them free.  Then, I saw the wonderful bottles of Excedrin for $4.89 so they were $0.89 after coupon each.  I guess I didn't need to worry about the overage problem.

Total Retail $71.53
Total Savings $66.12
Total OOP $5.41

I think that I had way too many high spending trips this super doubles but I have lots of good things that are going to last us a long time.  I did put the receipts in for Checkout 51 and Ibotta refunds even though I usually forget to do that.  I will also be getting a bunch of money from Saving Star.  Have you had an amazing trips to the store?

Menu Plan Monday 6/30

Monday- Herb Roasted Chicken with stuffing and corn
Tuesday-  Tacos with spicy saffron rice
Wednesday- Chicken Fingers with homemade fries
Thursday- Mac and cheese and leftover Roasted Chicken sliders
Friday- Grilled Chicken, Brats, Chicken Sausage, and Burgers with salt potatoes and corn
Saturday- Leftovers/Buffalo Chicken Salad
Sunday- Leftovers/Breakfast for Dinner:Waffles

I printed out the calendar for July long before I needed it.  I reminded myself that it was getting close to the end of the month but still the month came up as a surprise to me.  I was really busy with my parents in town and going everywhere with my son so I didn't have anything on the calendar.  I got to putting a few things on the menu so that I would have things planned for the week and hoping to get to the rest of the menu soon.  With vacation in July, there are less days to plan for so I hope that the last few meals will be easy to plan for with what we have in the house.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Parenting and Teaching the Gifted Book Review

I was in the library looking for some other books and I found Parenting and Teaching the Gifted
Rosemary Callard-Szulgit which I decided I should read.  My son has been in preschool for three years and is entering kindergarten next year.  There seem to be so many people on either side of the issue of what you should do with your children whether it is supportive or pushing them to learn more.  
This is the picture of the cover that Amazon shows but the copy that I got from the library was the second cover which is a lot less professional looking.  Before I even get to the review, I am going to tell you that this book is never going to be worth the $26 that Amazon is charging because it was a short book that doesn't provide enough information to justify the cost and space on your bookshelf.  If you are interested in checking it out, look to your library or other book sources.  I don't know if any additional information or updates have been provided to the other version but it doesn't look like it.

The book started with a table of contents including the following:

1. Who Are the Gifted and Talented
2. Programming and Curriculum Development in Gifted Education
3. Perfectionism and Social Emotional Development
4. Time Management, Homework Issues, and School Related Studies (S-R-S)
5. Advocacy
6. Gifted Children Speak to Us

The book is written in all questions and answer format which makes it quick and easy to read but doesn't provide the in depth answers that I expected.  There were a few charts and ideas that the author had about how much homework a child should have based on their age and how they should manage time so that they don't get overwhelmed.  There were also some very poorly illustrated cartoons and there were some that were so small that you couldn't even read them.
I do understand that this issues might be a problem for older children but I am hoping that they aren't an issue for my kindergartener.  There was only one part that addressed homeschooling although I think that many parents decide to go with homeschooling as a better option for their kids to learn more without covering the information that they already know.  I found the book to be lacking in real information and didn't answer any of the questions that I was thinking like if I leave my kid in the mainstream class, what can I do to keep his love of learning?  What if there is too much work in the gifted program and not just alternate learning?  There are lots of questions that I will have in the upcoming years when I am choosing what to do with my son but this book was not the answer to my questions.  Maybe your questions will be in there but make sure you check it out of the library because it is not worth the cost on Amazon!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Another Happy Trip to Harris Teeter Super Doubles!

I went to Harris Teeter this morning and I was figuring that they would be out of everything by the time that I made it to the store but it was fully stocked.  I didn't have a list of things to get but I knew that I needed to get some more cheese for $0.50 per block and I printed two more of the Zevia coupons (to get them for free) on my other computer.  They had both in stock!!

I don't know about you but so many of these coupons are expiring this month which ends in a few days that I am having a hard time trying to figure out what to get first.  I had a coupon for Bisquick for $1 which I was going to use with the $0.50 zvr so the box cost $0.29 and I get back $0.50 through saving star.  It is always good to have a box in the cupboard even though I make my own biscuit mix but free is a great deal!

I saw another deal on Saving Star that I am trying to get which is for Off products.  The Off Clip on refills are on sale for $5.49 and there is a coupon for $1.50 off which doubles.  They cost $2.49 each.  If you spent $18, then you get $5 back from saving star.  So if you buy 4 for $9.96 OOP, you get $5 back from saving star so they are under $5 for all four packages!  I don't know if you have used them but my husband uses them to mow the grass and they are great to wear anytime you go outside because you don't have to spray bug spray everywhere.  We love them so I am excited to find such a great deal!!!

I had a rain check to get the bigger Finish for Buy One, Get One Free so I got two of the 27 count box for free after rain check and coupon.  We are totally out of the stockpile that I got back when I shopped at Rite Aid so I am glad that I found a good deal.  I am going to have to spend a little longer looking at the deals to get more of the dish washing stuff for free because we are also running low on Dawn.  I stopped buying it when I couldn't find it for free.  I mean who wanted to spent $0.25 on something that they got for free forever!?!

I grabbed the free So Delicious Milk and Domino's brown sugar.  I found the Weber Seasoning with the coupons that I just got on Friday and grabbed three of the steak one.  I got these before and we used almost all of them already so I highly recommend them and free is a great price!  I had a coupon and zvr which made the juice boxes free so I added them to the cart because those are always good to have on hand.  I saw that there were still some of the Oscar Mayer Protein Packs on clearance with $1 meat sticker on them.  I used the $1/2 coupon and got them all for free.  I ate the cheese and peanuts for lunch last week with some of my rosemary Triscuits from my stockpile for a wonderful lunch.  I can't wait to have these next week!

I got the eggs that were on special for $0.67 for one dozen (limit 2).  I was so excited when I saw that because we were almost out of eggs again which I was trying to ration what I was using eggs for.  Now I can make some yummy baked goods!!!

Total Retail $84.89
Total Savings $80.01
Total OOP $4.88

I am not sure what is more exciting, the fact that I am getting some time to myself to shop or whether there are tons of deals out there for good food and stuff we really need!!  Glad for another round of super doubles and a few more days to shop!  Have you gotten some great deals??

Wicked Appetite Book Review

I bought this book for my mom a long time before I was interested in reading this series or even know what was going on with it.  After she and all her friends finished reading it, she gave me Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich.  I put it on my shelf and didn't get to it for awhile until after I read all the between the number books in the Stephanie Plum series and got to know the character in this book.  I was excited to start reading and see more of Diesel!!

This book was about Diesel who appears in Lizzie's house because she has an unmentionable power to find objects with powers.  Lizzie has moved to a her inherited house in Massachusetts from her aunt and is working as a pastry chef in Dazzle's bakery in Salem, Massachusetts.  Wulf comes into Dazzle's and burns Lizzie.  Diesel shows up to protect Lizzie and work together to find the stones of SALIGIA.  Between Lizzie's co-workers at the bakery and all of the new people she meets, her life gets interesting quickly.  In order to find out all of the adventures that they get into, pick up the book and see what happens. 

I thought the book was really entertaining.  I enjoyed the writing style of Janet Evanovich while meeting some new characters.  It is always great to find out if it is the writing or the characters that keep you interested in the books.  I think that it was both in this case.  I love the new characters and can't wait to read the next book in this series but I need a quick stop to read the next in the Stephanie Plum series!  I hope that you check out this book at your local library or bookstore and see if you like the new characters as much as I did.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Harris Teeter Super Double Trip #2

I went to a different store on the second day because I was out at a library program with my son and they have a lot more stock.  I promised myself that I would go and get the deals that were easy to get and not anything that I didn't know would work automatically so that I didn't have to fight with customer service people that I didn't know.  Sadly, I went a little off my plan!!!

I grabbed the Dole jar fruit, So Delicious shelf stable milk, and Brach's candy that were free with coupons. I got the Lipton tea which was pretty cheap at $0.30 each.

I got the Truvia sweetener, Kernel Seasonings Popcorn Salt, Barilla Plus pasta and the Zevia soda which was a money maker with the zvr.  I love the Black Cherry flavor so I didn't want to miss it at my store!!!

So to make up for the money making, I grabbed the Hormel pepperoni which was $0.89 each, Jif Hazelnut spread at $0.79 each, and the Ken's Dressing at $0.63 each.  At the very end, I saw that they had my son's Gerber which I had coupons and a zvr to make them a money maker so I put back some of other free stuff to get the Excedrin which we need so that I would have a little more money in the cart to make up for the overage.  I tried to stop and add but I had my son with me and he didn't know why we were staying in the aisle so I bribed with the iphone to play games and that got us all the way through check out!  Thank goodness!!!

The coupons for the Lipton didn't double and the guy gave me a huge hassle for the coupon and started to read all the words and told me my most hated words "I will do it just this one time!"  The other coupon that doubled but not correctly was for the Gerber food and he went on an entire rampage about how it was supposed to do that to offset the zvr- umm, nope and that it couldn't give overage- right, not looking for that!  We got into an entire debate over nothing and he only gave me $0.93 for one of the coupons and refused to give me the second one doubled.  Of course in his inability to use the computer, I think that he doubled my $0.75 coupons when he entered them in so I think that it worked out to a wash.  I just hate fighting at the check out especially someone who listens to what you says and says yes but listen to me.  I don't think that he understood basic math because he said that I got $0.32 off up above...yes, for the store sale which made them $1.07 each or a total of $4.28 for 4!!  Although the conversation probably only lasted a minute, it seemed like an eternity and ended with "I will do it just this one time!"  Do you think that I will come back when you treat me like that?

Anyway, I got away mostly unharmed with three bags of groceries wondering why I didn't just make the trip back to my store!!

Total Retail $73.32
Total Savings $69.63
Total OOP $3.69

I found out that if I got the other Ken's salad dressing that I had my eye on, I could have gotten $0.60 back on Checkout 51!  I just didn't want to try anything different because it takes so much for me to like a dressing and I really like the poppy seed one on summer salads.  Oh well!!!  How have you done??

Strawberry Swirl Pound Cake

I saw a recipe and I thought that my husband would love it.  I figured that I would make it soon but I had some extra egg white (and I messed up how many yogurts I opened for my scone recipe) so I made it right after finishing my husband's father's day scones.  I pulled out the ingredients that I needed to make sure that I had all of the other things needed....luckily I did!

I measured the sugar and the butter into my mixing bowl so that I could cream them together.

I already had a small bowl with my egg white in it from the scones so I cracked the other egg and added the vanilla to it.  I used up all of my lemon zest in my new love of blueberry strudel muffins so I got out some of my True Lemon which is a great flavoring.  I highly suggest getting a box and keeping it in the pantry for these times (plus it is super great in some ice water).

I mixed the yogurt in a measuring cup because I wasn't sure how much the containers would make but it takes about 2 containers of yogurt.  I also measured out the dry ingredients.

The batter was really thin with just the wet ingredients.

Then I added all of the ingredients and it got very thick.

I spread half of the batter into the loaf pan.  Next time I will do more than half because the preserves went down into the batter a little more and even went through in one spot to the bottom of the pan.

I took 1/3 of a cup of the preserves to spread which didn't look like that much in the measuring cup.

But it looked like a lot more on the batter.  I spread it so that it didn't go all the way to the edge.

I added the remaining batter to the top and spread it with a spatula to make it as smooth as possible.

It baked and smelled amazing.  The top got nice and brown and split.  I tested the bread with my cake tester and it came out with dough on it so I had to cook it a little longer.

While it was cooling, I took it out of the pan and let it sit on the counter so that the outside wouldn't get anymore cooked.  It was a good thing because it was hard to get out warm which would mean that when it got cold, it would be near impossible to get out of the pan.

When it had cooled a little, I cut into it to see how it turned out.  I was afraid that it wasn't done in the middle but it looked great.

We ate a few pieces hot out of the oven and enjoyed a few pieces after it cooler off.  I usually love things straight out of the oven I think that this was much better at room temperature.  I also thought that after it was in a sealed container over night that the sides of the bread got softer and more uniform in texture.  I really liked it better the next day so if yours lasts that long, make sure you tell me if you liked it hot or room temperature.

Strawberry Swirl Pound Cake

1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. imitation lemon extract (or zest of 1 lemon), opt.
3/4 c. Greek yogurt (if you use lemon or vanilla, leave out the extract)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda 
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 c. jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the egg, egg white, vanilla and lemon extract and mix until well blended.   Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients and Greek yogurt alternately to the batter, starting and ending with dry and mix until just combined.

Spread a little more than half of the batter into a 9x5-inch loaf pan.  Top with jam, leaving a small border around the edge.  Do no swirl the jam.  Top with remaining batter and carefully spread out evenly.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert to a wire rack and cool completely.

Make sure you check out the original recipe on Eat Cake for Dinner because she puts a glaze on hers that looks amazing!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thrifty Thursday: 50 Things to Have Summer Fun with the Kids

Trying to keep yourself entertained or the kids busy this summer?  What are you going to do that is fun and will keep them happy through the summer?  I came up with a list of all of the things that we are going to do this summer to stay cool and have fun inexpensively.  I tried to come up with some things that we have already done this summer because my son has been out of school for almost a month already and the rest of the public schools are getting out this week!!!

Summer Bucket List

1. Picnic Lunch
2. Swim at all Five Pools (we have only done three)
3. Go to the Spray Fountains
4. Go to Outside Storytime
5. Go to the Library to Read
6. Join the Summer Reading Program at the library
7. Play Family Games (got a new one at the dollar store)
8.  Get Ice Cream at the store and make Ice Cream Cones at home
9. Go to Music Show
10. Get Pizza Dinner after long night swimming
11.  Run through the sprinkler (we got one on clearance at Target last year end of season)
12. Go to the Playground
13. Go to Music Class (we found a great one through the library system for free)
14. Make books at home with scrap papers and use stickers and stamps to decorate
15. Draw outside with sidewalk chalk
16. Climb a tree
17. Make Cookie Bars
18. Paint Wooden Airplane
19. Do Puzzles together as a family
20. Paint Blocks
21. Paint Jake and Neverland Pirate Picture from Dollar Store
22. Go to the Nature Center
23. Go to Movies at the library
24.Go to Storytime at the Bookstore
25. Go Bowling
26. Play Mini Golf
27. Have Lunch at Daddy's Office
28. Feed the Ducks/Birds
29. Go to Summer Camp
30. Paint Rocks
31. Go to the Zoo
32. Go to the Air and Space Museum
33. Take a Hike
34. Visit at least 10 libraries and write reviews
35. Visit new playground
36. Family walk
37. Blow Bubbles
38. Make Jello
39. Go to Chuck E Cheese
40. Fishing for Words
41. Read a Chapter Book together
42. Learn State Capitals
43. Go to the Beach
44. Make a sandcastle
45. Go to Magic Show
46. Go to Lakeshore Learning to do Crafts on Saturday
47. Set up Frog tent in the yard to have an adventure at home
48. Movie Day (or Night) for the family
49. See favorite band play
50. Do lots more fun and educational things through the summer!!!!

Do you have any good ideas to add to the list?  I have already done through number 24 this week (and counting) and we have only been out of school for one month.  I am going to have to come up with a lot more to get through the summer without out us both going stir crazy.  There is a list on a calendar from Lakeshore Learning with great ideas to do with different age kids.

I would love any ideas to add to my summer bucket list that will put a smile on my son's face and mine too!!  Here is hoping that you have enough to get me through the rest of the summer months!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Super Doubles Excitement!!!

I was so excited for the first day of super doubles except totally not prepared.  I finished cutting my coupons that I hadn't finished over the weekend the morning of the first day.  I printed some coupons and they were in a big mess in my basket but mostly cut in one pile.  I didn't go through the other coupons to see what I had and what expired but I knew that I better go before I changed my mind and missed these great deals.

I got a bunch of free things and money makers!!  I got all of the deals to get my evic zvr coupons loaded and I was ready for some money makers.  I grabbed the Orville Popcorn ($0.61 money maker), Barilla Plus Pasta ($0.42 money maker), Clear Shampoo ($2.01 money maker after rain check), Kernel Seasonings ($0.61 money maker), Oscar Mayer Protein Packs ($1.04 money maker with meat discount tickets), and Zevia soda ($1.00 money maker).

I got the Brach candy, So Delicious Shelf Stable Milk, Truvia, and Hormel Completes for free.  I paid $0.40 for the Old El Paso seasoning packets and I should get the rest of the money back from Saving Star.  I used a printable coupon for the Cabot cheese and got those for $0.50 each!  I was most excited for that deal because we are out of cheese!

My really expensive items were the Off Clip on Refills which were on sale for $5.49 and I had a coupon for $1.50 off which doubled to make them $2.49 each.  Then I got the huge stockpile of my husband's cranberry juice that was on sale for $1.93 each so I got 14 so that I could use the coupon to get $5 off of $25 that I got in the mail!  I was super excited that it worked out well so that I could get tons of great things that we needed.

Total Retail $132.24
Total Savings $111.56
Total OOP $20.68

Kids Wednesday: Hole Punching

I have been searching forever for my hole punch.  I put it in a really smart spot but I couldn't figure out where that was.  Do you ever do that?  I sadly do it way too often.

There is a reason that everything should have a spot but once I gave up my office for the nursery, all of my stuff got misplaced because there was no longer anywhere to put it.  I have tried to go through and get rid of things that I didn't need and put things together but I still couldn't find the single hole punch.  I was going to go out buy another one but that makes me crazy because I know it is in the house somewhere.  I borrowed a few doing the year to different shapes from my son's preschool and anything else I had to smoosh into the three hole punch to make one hole at a time.

I was cleaning out the basket on the stairs and I found it.  Why on earth was it in that basket?  I guess it was with ribbons and things that I must have use to attach cards to something ages ago.  I am glad that I stuck with it and now I was excited to find lots of things to do with my hole punch when I saw an activity that my son could do with it!!!!

I picked out this one because it looked fun to pick out all the numbers.  It is a great hand eye coordination to use the hole punch and get it on the paper as well as patience to get them all.  It printed two of the same number on the page and then you could cut them in half.  I decided that since I only have one kid and I don't like to waste the paper that I would turn the second half into the "teens."  I turned the 1 card into 11 and the 2 into 12.  I thought that it would make it last a little longer and test more numbers.  It was great to make my son stop and pay attention to the different writing styles.

I thought this one was amazing and you could make your own based on whatever your kids are learning about.  This one does counting and then some adding and subtracting.  It was perfect for some morning work to keep numbers into our weekly learning.  Plus sometimes I need an activity to hold him over while I am making dinner and this is perfect!!!  It seems that you could easily move this into multiplication. 

Of course my son thought it needed an equal sign so he had to make one on each as he did the problem.

If your kids are still working at the hand eye coordination and you would like to do it but they aren't adding numbers, there is a great activity to do with do with pictures here.  We didn't do that one but it looks like it is a lot of fun.  The pictures are bright and colorful if you print them in color or different enough that you can print and black and white.

There are so many ideas such as using punch cards or making your own.  Here is a template of a tooth for dental health or before going to the dentist.  It is an easy shape but you could use the idea to make your own so that your kids can practice stitching up the holes.  It is more great hand eye coordination with the use of the trusty hole punch!  We already have our lace up cards that my son loves that I got through Scholastic Book orders from his school.  I had to add an extra shoelace for one because my son wanted them to be color coordinated but lace up cards are fun whether you buy or make them!

I hope that you have lots of fun with your hole punch and I look forward to making lots of different new crafts with the hole punch.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Takedown Twenty Book Review

I was a little excited and a little sad to get to the end of the currently published series when I got Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum) by Janet Evanovich out of the library.  I felt a little better that I had the next book on reserve even though I am over 500th on the list to get it.  I know that I will get it sometime (even if not soon).  That means that I have lots of time to read all the other books that I have been putting off in the process.

***UPDATE: I walked into the library today and found the 21st book sitting right in front of me and got to check it out and bring it home...the lady who helped me even gave me a little preview because she already read it!!!  My cousin also called and offered to send it to me when their family was done reading it!!  Luckily I have it and get to start reading to now so thanks for the outpouring of love!!!

Stephanie Plum goes after Uncle Sunny because he is charged with murder for running over a guy twice and not showing up to court.  Everyone loves Uncle Sunny and no one wants to turn him in so she has a tough time hunting him down.  Joe Morelli, Stephanie's cop boyfriend, won't help because Uncle Sunny is his godfather.  Grandma Bella even makes an appearance to give Stephanie the eye.  Stephanie is also working for Ranger to find the Dumpster Killer that seems to be killing older women and leaving them in dumpsters.  There are so many ups and downs for Stephanie that she ends up quitting her job as a bounty hunter (again).  She ends up helping Lula to do the same work she quit so that she can make rent money.  The misadventures of Stephanie never fail to entertain.  She totals more than one car, gets shot at and deals with kidnapping but in order to find out how it all works out, you need to pick up the book and see!!

I know that I have reviewed all the books in the series and you are getting sick of seeing another review for the same series but this is the last book out for a little bit.  I can't believe that I have read them all so quickly but I enjoyed them all.  I was trying to think about which one was my favorite but I don't think that I had a favorite because I liked them all.  I hope that you check out this series at your local library or bookstore.  Let me know if you are as excited about the new book coming out in the series!!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 6/23

Monday- Lasagna and garlic knots
Tuesday- Grilled Chicken and Salt Potatoes
Wednesday- Herb Roasted Chicken with stuffing and corn
Thursday- Leftovers
Friday- Homemade Pizza
Saturday- Leftovers/??

My parents are here for the beginning of the week and we are planning on going to the pool, museum, libraries and more so I planned some  meals that I can make ahead and throw in the oven when we get home.  The biggest problem with this plan is that it takes up a lot of room in the fridge in the meantime and my parents seem to bring a ton of food with them so there isn't a lot of extra room in the fridge.  I am going to work hard on cleaning it out before they get back and doing a lot of baking so that I can get rid of some of the other things in the fridge to make room for the casserole dishes.  Planning on spending most of the time over the weekend at the pool so we will see how much time we have to come up with something for dinner but I think that one of them will be chicken and another might just be mac and cheese :)

How do you prepare for company?  Do you make dishes ahead of time so that you have less time in the kitchen needed to pull off dinner?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Notorious Nineteen Book Review

I read Notorious Nineteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich which was next on my list.  I was excited when it came in on the reserved list at the library so that I could start on it.  Getting farther on the list was also a little sad because this was near the end of the books that were out.  The great news is that there are a few other lists of books that Janet Evanovich wrote so I guess I will be reading a few of those
new series too!!

In this book, Stephanie Plum is working chasing low level skips and finally gets a break to make a little money.  Geoffrey Cubbin is facing trial for stealing millions of dollars from the local assisted living facility but he has gone missing.  No one can find him including his wife and employer but Stephanie decides that she is going to try.  He went to the hospital to get an emergency appendectomy and disappears after it is done without a trace.  Stephanie works with the security who just so happens to be her little person friend, Randy Briggs.  They are working on trying to figure out the mystery with a little help from Joe Morelli, the Trenton police officer and Stephanie's boyfriend.  When the mystery is solved, they not only are able to find Geoffrey Cubbin but the other people who have disappeared at the hospital over the years!!!  Pick up the book to solve the mystery with them.

I enjoyed this one a lot!  There were some stickers in the back for Morelli and Ranger so I guess that want you to take sides in the debate of who Stephanie should end up with.  I don't really know which one is better for her but it reminds me a lot of the Twilight debate between Jacob or Edward.  I think that the best part is the fight between the two in winning her heart but I guess that is just me :)  I hope that you pick this one up at your local library or bookstore.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Mother's Secret Book Review

I signed up online for a bunch of book reviews which all came at the same time because I just click on the things that sound interesting when I am reading them.  I never write down anything like the books that are coming in or when they need to be read by because I figure that if I picked to review the book then there will be a note with all that information inside the book.  Well, I must have been in a really accepting mood over a few day period and said yes to all of the book reviews because I had three in one month which is really not like me!  I try to spread them out so that I can do everything that I need to with my family and not be rushed to read any one book so that it gets my honest opinion.  I guess what they say is true that things come in threes.  This time it was three good books!!

I got A Mother's Secret (Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel) by Amy Clipston in the mail and didn't remember anything about what I read earlier about the book and I just put it in my pile.  I was on a roll with the other books that I read and started reading this one right after the last book I reviewed.  I was hooked and couldn't put it down!!

In this book, Carolyn Lapp is dealing with the stigma of being an unwed mother in the Amish community.  There are very strict standards and she believes that she is never going to find a man to marry her and accept her son, Benjamin.  Carolyn's brother finds a widowed man who is looking for someone to raise his child and Carolyn doesn't want to enter into a marriage of convenience but she feels like it might be the only solution for her.  Benjamin gets in trouble at a horse auction for actions of his cousins but he is now in an agreement to work at Joshua Glick's farm to pay off the vet bill for the injured horse.  The work is the best thing for Benjamin because it gets him away from his troublesome cousins and he learns that he loves horses!  There is so much going on in this book that you are going to have to pick it up to find out. If you want to see the full summary of the book, check out the publishers summary here.

There were so many times in the book that I forgot that the people were Amish because they were going through so many things that are similar to "regular life."  All of the people were dealing with everyday life problems including looking for love like Carolyn.  It was great to read the stories about how the horse farm worked and all of the issues that the characters went through in order to grow.  The best part was the antagonist in the story who was Joshua's mother.  She was so negative and almost to an extreme with her strong opinions.  All of the characters grew and changed through the story and I was glad to read about it.  It really makes you believe in love!

I hope that you pick up this book at your local library or bookstore soon.  If you can't find it there, it is available on Amazon with the link at the top of the page or you can go to the straight to the publisher and buy here.

*I was given a copy of this book for my honest opinion and review but all of the opinions expressed here are my own.  I posted my review on my website, Goodreads and Amazon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Visions of Sugar Plums Book Review

I picked out all of the between the number books when I was at the library.  Visions of Sugar Plums: A Stephanie Plum Holiday Novel (Stephanie Plum Novels) by Janet Evanovich was the next in my pile (although I did a bad job of reading in order so don't take my order to be the right one).  It was a fun holiday novel which I should have saved for the holiday but since I am so close to finishing out the series, I figured that it was a good time to catch up on the last of the between the number books!!

In the book, Stephanie is dealing with Christmas the same way she deals with everything else in her life... ignoring it and hoping it is going to go away.  She doesn't have a tree, hasn't gotten presents and isn't in the holiday spirit.  She finds a strange man in her kitchen (which actually happens to her more then you would think) and he turns out to be Diesel.  He is very mysterious but he doesn't make her nervous.  Stephanie follows her gut and gets Diesel to help her chase down some of the fugitives that she is looking for who are skipping bail right before the holidays.  Pick up this book and see if Stephanie gets in the holiday spirit!

The book was a really quick read and super entertaining.  I finished it a little too quickly again but totally enjoyed it.  Gotta love the entertainment of the holidays in the Plum family.  If it isn't Stephanie then Grandma is doing something else equally as humorous to entertain the readers.  I hope that you check this out at your local library or bookstore soon!  Let me know what you think of all of the between the number books :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 6/16

Monday- Pizza Bites with salad
Tuesday- ??
Wednesday- Chicken tenders, Chicken Nuggets and homemade fries
Thursday- Tacos
Friday- Grilled Italian Chicken with herb rice
Saturday- Leftovers/Waffles for Dinner
Sunday-Leftovers/Roasted Chicken with stuffing and corn

We have grandparents coming into town this week on and off with trips of there own so there are a few meals that I planned at the beginning of the month that are some of their favorites (and things that they like).  The rest of the week was a little hard to fill in because I am still having trouble figuring out the summer meal plan thing!  We also have had so many things going on at night which is not usual for us so it has been finding time to get home early enough to make dinner and get us back out the door.  This might be our first week that I am not rushing to get dinner on the table except Tuesday night which is why it stayed blank the longest!  In the old days, we probably would have thrown in a frozen pizza but we haven't any of them in ages so I am probably going to come up with something on the fly.

How are you adjusting to summer meal planning or cooking?  Are you doing more meals in the crock pot?  Share any ideas!!!