Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Metro Girl Book Review

I was excited to finally read a book of my book shelf because I was out of library books and in the middle of the move so I didn't have time to head to the library.  Metro Girl (Alex Barnaby Series #1) by Janet Evanovich was on my shelf to read and it was at the beginning of the series so I was super excited to try out a new series.  I can't wait to meet all the new characters.

Alexandra (Barney) Barnaby roars onto the Miami Beach scene in hot pursuit of her missing baby brother, "Wild" Bill. Leave it to the maverick of the family to get Barney involved with high-speed car chases, a search for sunken treasure, and Sam Hooker, a NASCAR driver who’s good at revving a woman's engine.
Engaged in a deadly race, Bill has "borrowed" Hooker's sixty-five-foot Hatteras and sailed off into the sunset...just when Hooker has plans for the boat. Hooker figures he'll attach himself to Barney and maybe run into scumbag Bill. And better yet, maybe he'll get lucky in love with Bill's sweetie pie sister.
The pedal will have to go to metal if Barney and Hooker want to be the first to cross the finish line, save Bill, Hooker's boat...and maybe the world.

I enjoyed the book even though it was super unbelievable.  I think that the best thing about these books is that it makes you totally escape your life and laugh at all the trouble that Janet Evanovich's characters get into.  I love her writing style and enjoy all the twists and turns that she brings to her characters.Even though this is even more unbelievable then the Plum series, it was very entertaining and I can't wait to read the next one in the series.  I hope that you check out this fun and entertaining story and see what you think!! 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hidden: Sisters of the Heart Book Review

I went to the library website to find a complete book series by Shelley Shepard Gray and I found one! Hidden (Sisters of the Heart, Book 1) by Shelley Shepard Gray was the first book in the series so I was super excited to reserve these books to come off reserve one each week so that I could keep them straight and read them in the right order.  The first two came in together because it took be too long to make it to the library so there was a little figuring out before I knew which one to start with!

When Anna decides it's time to leave her abusive boyfriend, she doesn't know where to turn. Rob has completely won over her parents, and the entire community, with his good looks and smooth charm. Only Anna has seen his dark side.  Desperate, she runs to the only place she's ever felt completely safe—the Amish Brenneman Bed and Breakfast, where Anna met life-long friend Katie Brenneman. The family welcomes her in, and with few questions asked allows her to stay, dressed in Plain clothing, and help around the inn.  Katie's older brother Henry is the only one who doesn't take too kindly to the intrusion. He tries to ignore Anna, knowing no good would ever come from caring for an Englisher like her. But as he gets to know Anna, he discovers her good heart and is surprised with her readiness to accept their lifestyle.
The more time Anna spends with the Amish, the more she feels she's found a true home. But how can she deny the life she left behind? And will her chance for happiness be stolen away by the man from her past?

 A great mix of Amish and real world story.  It is so interesting to see when the two worlds cross.  Anna is trying to rebuild her life with the best place that she can think of, Amish country.  Anna rebuilds her life in the Amish Bed and Breakfast by helping out and finds that she is much happier even with all of the hard work.  There are some interesting twists and turns in the book that make you want to keep reading and it was another one that was hard to put down.  There were a few times that I might have been reading instead of doing all of the other things that I had on my to do list (kind of like now when I am writing this review).  I enjoyed the writing and the story lots and can't wait to read the rest of the series.  I hope that you check out this book at your local library or bookstore.  Let me know what you think when you read it!!!

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Promise of Palm Grove Book Review

I missed the sign up for this great book and I was super sad when going through my emails because I saw the email from the publisher on this and quickly send a message.  I was super excited to be added at the last minute to review The Promise of Palm Grove: Amish Brides of Pinecraft, Book One by Shelley Shepard Gray. The book arrived within just a day or so after I sent the email so I was super excited.  I picked the date at the end of the tour because I was afraid that I would have trouble because of my late response.  I was excited that I got to read it shortly after I got it and beat the beginning of the tour dates by finishing it because I couldn't put it down.

A young Amish woman finds herself torn between the man she’s pledged to wed and the man her heart desires in this heartwarming story of chance, duty, and choice in the face of love—the first volume in the new Amish Brides of Pinecraft series.  Amish bride-to-be Leona is thrilled to be in Florida, on a mini-vacation in the pretty town of Pinecraft. Her girlfriends think she’s happy because she’s away from the stress of wedding planning. They have no idea that Leona’s real joy is in being away from her fiancĂ©.  Edmund is a good man, and will make a decent husband but Leona just isn't sure he is for her. The more time she spends with him and his overbearing ways, the less she wants to be his wife. Her friends are so excited for the wedding and their certainty makes Leona begin to doubt herself. But when a chance encounter with a wayward cat brings her face-to-face with a handsome, fun-loving Amish man named Zachary Kauffman, Leona’s faced with two vastly different futures.  Leona must decide what she is going to do next but you have to pick up the book to find out what she picks.

I loved this book!!!  I previously read Joyful from her and enjoyed it so much I tried to get a few of her other books in that series but they weren't in the library.  I thought about getting some of her other books but totally forgot since I was trying inter-library loan to get the others that never came through.  This book did remind me that I love her writing and need to get more books by this author!!  I reserved another series and can't wait to start reading it.  I am hoping that I get a chance to read a few more of her books soon but I know that you will enjoy this great writing and great characters.  The characters are so life like that you feel like you are one of their friends following around their lives and trying to resolve all the issues that they are dealing with...even though they are Amish and I am not.  The great twist on this book is that the setting is in warm and sunny Florida instead of cold and dreary Ohio or Pennsylvania where most of the Amish books are set.  This is a refreshing twist on other Amish fiction books with the warm change of pace that I know everyone will enjoy!!  I hope that you pick up this book and others by Shelley Shepard Gray and enjoy her writing as much as I did!

**I was provided a free copy of this book for my review and honest opinion through Litfuse Publishing.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 3/23ish

So the week began and I knew that I didn't have any food in the house.  We had the open house scheduled for Sunday and I was mainly focused on getting through that and not making more of a mess then I had to in the house.  We even started eating on paper plates and getting take out as of Wednesday the previous week but after three days of eating out, my family was done.  We ate dinner at my sister in laws on Saturday and a really late dinner on Sunday after the open house.  Of course, that still meant that I was totally unprepared for the week.  I decided that I was going to head to Target and grab a few things and use my $100 remaining gift card to get some special treats from the Easter Bunny and food for us to eat.  I also knew that we needed meat so I went to Wegman's to get ground beef and chicken.  I made both of those stops on Tuesday so Monday was my son's favorite to which he cheered when I told him what we were having.  I figured since I had most of the food (there was construction in front of Aldi's and I got in the wrong lane so I didn't make it there on Tuesday) that I should make a plan for the rest of the week.  Sadly, the grill is already at the other house so no grilling yet even though the weather is supposed to be better.  My son also cheered that we were back to regular plates and not paper plates because I guess that another thing that he wasn't a fan of :)

Monday- Chicken Nugget Wraps and homemade fries
Tuesday- Tacos with saffron rice
Wednesday- Salsa Sloppy Joes and leftover rice
Thursday- Chicken and chicken rice
Friday-Pasta and garlic pizza bites
Saturday- Leftovers/???
Sunday- Leftovers/???

I hope to have a fairly normal week but I think that we might have to get out of the house again for the home inspection this weekend so I don't know if we will be able to make it back in and eat but I would think that it would be over by then.  I am playing it by ear.  We will be having something with chicken but I don't know what yet.  Hope you are having a yummy week too!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Baby for Dry Creek and A Dry Creek Christmas Book Review

I got the second book in the library that had two books in one, A Baby for Dry Creek / A Dry Creek Christmas (Love Inspired Classics) by Janet Tronstad.  I was happy to get this book when it came in and ready to read this fun read.

A Baby for Dry Creek

Blushing bride Chrissy Hamilton was strong-willed, but nothing prepared her for her groom's infidelity. So she escaped to Dry Creek, where fresh air and sunshine would heal her heart, renew her faith and reach her cousin. She met thoughtful rancher Reno Redfern, she had since gone back to normal life and found out that she was pregnant.  Her ex-fiance's family is trying to take away her baby but they first want to check to see it Reno is the father from her brief trip to Dry Creek.  A lawyer letter arrives in Dry Creek and the town decided to rescue this Chrissy and bring her back to Dry Creek where she will be safe.
A Dry Creek Christmas

Good Samaritan Millie Corwin uses the spare key the Dry Creek cafĂ© to enter when the cafe is closed for the holidays. But when Brad Parker catches her, he immediately brands her a criminal. He decides that the good dead that she is up to is the opposite of what happens so he wants to get the sheriff to handle the situation but the sheriff isn't found in the middle of the night so he brings her back to the bunkhouse at the farm.  The funny story that unfolds after that is amusing and worth picking up to find out.

I love when you get to follow up with characters that  you have read about in other stories previously.  Chrissy was in another story previously and I didn't know we would ever see her again just like Millie.  They have their own story and it is great to read a story from their perspective because it gives you an even bigger understanding of the other book and stories.  I love to get to know the town and people of Dry Creek even better and this book with certainly help you do that.  The one thing that confuses me is that the person who writes the summary of the book online because it totally doesn't match the actual story so I wrote my own description because it was very different.  I guess this is the don't judge a book by its description because it was totally different but luckily I didn't read the description because I would have been confused the whole time!!  I hope that you check out this book and others in the series.  I know that you will enjoy it as much as I did!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Hope of Refuge Book Review

Awhile ago I put a book on reserve at the library with a date that it would come off at the end of February and it appeared at the beginning of March for me to read.  I didn't remember anything about it except that I know that I have read the author before.  I was excited to start on a new series with The Hope of Refuge (Ada's House Series, Book 1) by Cindy Woodsmall.

Raised in foster care and now the widowed mother of a little girl, Cara Moore struggles against poverty, fear, and a relentless stalker. When a trail of memories leads Cara and Lori out of New York City toward an Amish community, she follows every lead, eager for answers and a fresh start. She discovers that long-held secrets about her family history ripple beneath the surface of Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, and it’s no place for an outsider. But one Amish man, Ephraim Mast, dares to fulfill the command he believes that he received from God–“Be me to her”– despite how it threatens his way of life.

Ephraim’s sister Deborah also finds her dreams crumbling when the man she has pledged to build a life with begins withdrawing from Deborah and his community, including his mother, Ada Stoltzfus. Ada envisions transforming an old house to make her own life to live separately from the soon to be married couple.  While Ephraim is trying to do what he believes is right, will he be shunned and lose everything–including the guarded single mother who simply longs for a better life?  You have to pick up the book to find out.

This book was amazing.  I was fascinated by the story for Cara and how she was working hard to support her daughter and have her raised to be the best woman that she can be even though they have little means to do so.  With the idea of coming to Amish country to find out why her mother thought that would be a good place for her to be safe.  The other characters in the book were also great and I loved how the story lines came together to work into an amazing story.  How the story ends is amazing and I know that you will enjoy this great Amish novel.  I hope that you pick up this great book and check it out for yourself.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 3/16 (sort Of more a week in review)

Monday- Salsa Sloppy Joes with homemade fries
Tuesday- Leftovers/Waffles
Wednesday- Leftovers/Wendy's
Thursday- Burger King/Little Caesars
Friday- Leftovers and Sandwiches/KFC Chicken
Saturday- Fun Fair food/Dinner at Sister in laws
Sunday- ???

Well, I knew that I forgot it was Monday because my son had off school but this week was a mess and without a plan although I knew it was going to throw the meal plan right out the window so I didn't make one except the beginning of the week. 

We have been working all week to get our house on the market.  We cleaned, we painted, and mainly moved out 13 years of stuff because people like to see empty homes and ours was not.  We cleared everything out by Thursday as the photographer was here and we were rearranging rooms and taking up carpets.  With two trips under my belt to Goodwill and more trips then I can count to drop off at the new house (with great help from my sister and brother in law), we made it.  Just in time because my son's school called on Thursday and he got pink eye.  I had a little helper for Friday to clean up the rest of the stuff in the house but things went pretty well and we have already had our first showing.  Here is hoping that this process is over quickly because selling a house is hard work!!!  Hope you have a tasty week!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Blind Spot Book Review

I passed the new release section and saw the next book in the Robert Parker series about Jesse Stone.  I couldn't pass it up even though I knew that it would have no renewal and I had to finish reading another book first.  Robert B. Parker's Blind Spot (A Jesse Stone Novel) by Reed Farrel Coleman was the first book by the new author writing in this series.  I was interested in seeing how he was different from the author that wrote the last few and Robert Parker.

It’s been a long time since Jesse Stone left L.A., and still longer since the tragic injury that ruined his chances for a major league baseball career. When Jesse is invited to a reunion of his old Triple-A team at a hip New York city hotel, he is forced to grapple with his memories and regrets over what might have been.

Jesse left more behind him than unresolved feelings about the play that ended his baseball career. The darkly sensuous Kayla, his former girlfriend and current wife of an old teammate is there in New York, too. As is Kayla’s friend, Dee, an otherworldly beauty with secret regrets of her own. But Jesse’s time at the reunion is cut short when, in Paradise, a young woman is found murdered and her boyfriend, a son of one of the town’s most prominent families, is missing and presumed kidnapped.

Though seemingly coincidental, there is a connection between the reunion and the crimes back in Paradise. As Jesse, Molly, and Suit hunt for the killer and for the missing son, it becomes clear that one of Jesse’s old teammates is intimately involved in the crimes. That there are deadly forces working below the surface and just beyond the edge of their vision. Sometimes, that’s where the danger comes from, and where real evil lurks. Not out in the light—but in your blind spot.

I didn't like this book as much as others because I thought the characters had changed from the authors perspective.  I am sure that the story itself was very Robert Parker style but the writing stopped me from enjoying it as much as I normally do.  It took a book that was an easy read into something that seems to beat you over the head with what the characters were thinking instead of just leading you into it.  I know that I love Robert Parker's books including the two written by the same person who wrote the screen play for the movies.  I think that I might be over them if they are going to be written by a bunch of different authors.  There is nothing that I can point to and say that I didn't like the author's writing style but it just brought down the book because there were so many things that didn't seem natural for Jesse Stone to say or do and it had me a little confused.  I wouldn't really recommend reading this book unless you know that it is a different author upfront.  Did you read this book after reading the series?  What did you think??

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Supermarket Healthy Book Review

I was given the opportunity to review this cookbook through Blogging for Books.  I was pretty excited because it said that it was recipes and know-how for eating well without spending a lot so that sounded right up my alley.  It also said that it was things that you can find in the supermarket so you wouldn't have to go searching for it which is always a good thing.  Supermarket Healthy: Recipes and Know-How for Eating Well Without Spending a Lot by Melissa d'Arabian was the next book that I was excited to have appear on my doorstep.

The description online is: Food Network star and New York Times bestselling author Melissa d'Arabian proves that healthy eating at home is easy, achievable, and affordable.  Everyone wants to feel good about what they are eating, serving guests, and feeding their families, but most of us don't do our weekly shopping at pricey specialty stores-- we do it at the local supermarket and we don't want it to break the bank. In her second book, Melissa demystifies the task of preparing nutritious and delicious food by showing exactly how you can make your grocery store work for you. She offers helpful strategies for shopping, cooking, and entertaining, as well as meal blueprints and nutritional information throughout. This book will make you confident about the food you're buying, preparing, and eating. Delicious recipes like Almond Waffles with Raspberry-Basil Sauce, Kale and White Bean Caesar Salad in a Jar, Slow-Roasted Tomato Spaghettini, Flatiron Steaks with Quick Cauliflower Kimchi, and Flourless Fudgy Dream Cookies have something for every type of eater at every meal of the day. No matter your favorite flavors or dietary needs, cooking on a budget is empowering-- and now you can learn how to make every bite count. If cooking at home is the key to healthy living, Supermarket Healthy is the only tool you'll need.

The book is broken into chapters with different foods covered in each such as the following:

Soups and Stews
Salads, Wraps and Sandwiches
Veggie Mains
Fish and Seafood
Chicken and Turkey
Beef, Pork and Lamb

I think that the title of the book is misleading because it make you think that you are going to get items from the supermarket and make food for the whole family.  I believe that this book has a particular audience but sadly, I am not that person.  I am not trying to make fancier food then I currently make but looking for meals that we can make quick and easy that are also healthy.  There are a few dishes in the book that seem interesting like the Almond Waffles, Cinnamon Popovers, Vanilla and Blueberry Cheesecake Pudding and Enlightened Potato Bacon Torte but even though they sound tasty, they are a little more complicated then I will probably ever make.  If you are looking for fancy recipes, there is Lamb Tagine with squash and prunes and roasted fruit with homemade ricotta which seem like many people would enjoy this fancy restaurant style dish at home but not my family.  Since the majority are not meals that I would ever make for my family, the cookbook probably wouldn't be the best choice for me.

I did think that the recipe for Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken was something that I might try because it seemed easy and fun.  The recipe calls for boneless chicken breast, salt, black pepper, bread crumbs, dried thyme, and non-stick spray.  The honey mustard calls for dijon mustard, honey, light mayonnaise and hot sauce.  The only thing that I don't have from those two lists is the light mayonnaise but I might have at least one tablespoon of miracle whip which I think would work.  I think that this recipe has promise of being something that we might be interested in eating that I might also take the time to make.  If you want to check out the recipe, there is a picture and recipe online through Food Network here.  If you are interested to see if this is the right cookbook for you and your family, there are a bunch of recipes online that you can see on the Food Network site here.

**I was provided a copy of this for my honest review and opinion but all opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Mistletoe Courtship: Christmas Bells for Dry Creek and The Christmas Secret Book Review

I picked up another book off the shelf at the library which I wasn't sure about but I was really excited after reading the first one that I picked up because it was an interesting twist with a historical slant.   Mistletoe Courtship: Christmas Bells for Dry Creek\The Christmas Secret (Love Inspired Historical) by Janet Tronstad and Sara Mitchell was a little different then the first one that I read because it was two books in one.  I still enjoyed the books but it wasn't what I was expecting because I was hoping for more of the first book just written by two authors instead of two shorter books by different authors which I think is a little unclear on the cover.

Christmas Bells for Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad

The holiday season brings quite a surprise for Virginia Parker. Her former boss, Colter Wells, is back in Dry Creek with a newly discovered daughter, Patricia. Virginia is waiting for the mother to show up because she knows that they will make the perfect family but little does she know, that the mother wants nothing to do with her daughter and has left her to this man that has never met her.  Virginia provides some female perspective and support to this young girl while she is trying to make a home in this new town.

The Christmas Secret by Sara Mitchell

Clara Penrose's bluestocking ways have branded her a spinster among Virginia's elite. Yet a reunion with Dr. Ethan Harcourt rekindles feelings Clara thought long lost. Her second chance finally here, Clara needs to make sure she keeps her opinions in check and doesn't give herself away to be an outspoken woman.  Pick up this book and find out what happens to both of these main characters to

I enjoyed the first story the most because I was looking for the same characters as the other books that I read.  This actually had the same characters and I really enjoyed learning more about them from the previous book.  The second story was also interesting but very different with a new town and new characters.  I would love to get to know them better and hope to find some other books by this author too!!  I hope that you pick up this book at your local library or bookstore and check it out.  It is a fun read with feeling and heart in both books that you instantly relate to the characters even if they aren't anything like you!!  I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did!!

Friday, March 13, 2015

February Reading Review

I read a lot this month even though there were a million other things that I was supposed to be doing.  There was a lot of down time while I was at the new house overseeing all of the contractors.  It was sometimes a little hard to concentrate with the banging, nailing and other construction noise but I was super happy to have my books to read.  I got lots read and enjoyed escaping the world that I was currently surrounded in with dust and mess.  I didn't have books to review this month because I didn't sign up for them.  I am

I did get a book through my son's school where they are going to have a book discussion group.  I didn't think that I would be super interested in the book from the brief description and the very beginning but it was a really interesting book.  If you didn't check out my review of Mindset, check it out by clicking on the title at the bottom of this page to take you back to my original review.  I think that it was an interesting book on how to help children to learn to grow and it made me think about a few bosses that I have had in the past.  I hope that you enjoy some of the fun reads this month and the educational book too!!

If you missed any of the reviews, please feel free to click on the title of the book and it will link you back to my original review.  Make sure you add these books to your reading list if they are something you might want to read in the future!!

by Janet Tronstad

by Janet Tronstad

by Janet Tronstad

by Janet Tronstad

by Debbie Macomber

by Debbie Macomber

by Debbie Macomber

by Alexander McCall Smith

by Janet Tronstad

by Janet Tronstad

by Carol Dweck

Total Books Read 2015

January       9
February     13

Total Books    22

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Snow Day Baking

In the morning, my son and I did some shape and trace coloring. My husband had printed them out at work while our printer was out of commission waiting for parts to come in.  Luckily, he fixed it just the other night but we had these great printables to enjoy this morning.  I did the squares and the triangles while my son did the circles and rectangles.  It was a lot of fun!!  I made one all bright colors and so did he and then on the second one we came up with colors that went together.  I did greens and yellows while he did blue, pink and purple.  Click on the link above and download these great pictures for kids and adults alike!!

I decided to take this snow day opportunity to get some things cleaned out of the fridge and bake a few things.  I wanted to make rolls because I know that we used up the last of the rolls last night.  I realized that I was out of canola and vegetable oil so I decided to use some melted coconut oil that I had in the cupboard.  I also used shelf stable coconut milk that I got for free instead of the milk that my son drinks.  I used up the last of the vital wheat gluten so I am sad that we won't have any more rolls if I don't find some more.  I got my last bag in Amish country when we took my son to see Thomas the Train but the last time I looked in the store it was a fortune!

I went through the spice cupboard to fill any spice containers and see what I was running low on.  I hope that I have a chance to go up to Amish country on our trip up to New York to fill up on some spices.  If not, I am going to have to find out if the Amish market in Annapolis, MD has good prices on their spices and vital wheat gluten.  I can't believe that I am running low on cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and garlic powder.  On the other hand, I have at least three or four different containers of garlic salt and popcorn salt so we are all set there!!

I cut up some apples that were getting a little mushy and no one was eating with the little ends of a pear to blend and make Applesauce bread.  It is so much better with fresh apples so I was excited and I got to use what we had in the house to make a yummy breakfast for the rest of the week since we ran out of the banana bread already!

After making the kitchen a huge mess, I decided that it would be really good to use up the end of the honey so I decided to make some Honey Beer Bread with what I was thinking would be the end of the container.  I have to microwave the rest of the honey because it is sort of crystallizing so I store it upside down so I figured that this would be way easier because I already have another container of honey to use which I won't start until I finish this container completely.

After making Beer Bread, there is still a little left in the bottom but I got to cook it in the oven with the applesauce bread at the same time so that I saved the energy of heating up the oven- added bonus!  The bread is great right out of the oven or I love it toasted with raspberry jelly for a nice breakfast or snack.  YUM!!

 I wanted to make some more things but the kitchen was a disaster.  I emptied the dishwasher and filled it back up with everything that I had rinsed and used while cooking.  I rinsed all the dishes that I needed to clean and then realized that I was out of energy to make more food but I started thinking about lunch since I had fed my son some leftover white rice two hours before.

I bribed... I fed my son a snack of Pumpkin Spice Mallows to thank him for cleaning up his toys, clothes and other messes that had started to accumulate in the family room.  They were the last ones in the bag so I got to throw out the bag and clear the space in the cupboard.

Then, I decided to make some Simple Fried Rice with the huge amount of chicken broth that I had in the freezer.  I defrosted the chicken broth in the microwave while browning the rice on low heat which gave me a chance to wash and dry all the rest of the dishes in the sink.  WHAT!?!  The was some amazing multitasking and nothing got burned.  I added a few packets of soy sauce that we had leftover from Chinese food for a little more flavor after it was cooked.

While it was cooking, I went outside to shovel off the driveway and a path in the driveway so that my husband would be able to get back inside.  I smashed my finger on the mailbox and cut the knuckle :(  I hope that it helps even though I didn't actually get the driveway cleaned out. Snow is still falling like crazy.  I wanted to make some biscuits and chocolate chip cookies but I didn't get a chance to do it today.  I guess I will put them on the list for tomorrow!  I have a feeling that I am going to having another snow day stuck in the house to get a lot more thrifty things done.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Calico Christmas Book Review

I enjoyed this new and interesting installment of the historic version of Dry Creek.  Calico Christmas at Dry Creek (Dry Creek Historical Series, Book 1) (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical #19) by Janet Tronstad.  I picked up the only two books on the shelf at a different branch of the library so that I could read some more by the author without waiting for the hold books to come in.  I noticed that these said Historical on the front but I didn't pay much attention to it and put it right into my bag to check out.

The Montana territory was supposed to be the land of dreams for Elizabeth O'Brian. But when influenza claims her husband and baby, Elizabeth doesn't know if she can go on. Then a stranger approaches her with a plea she can't ignore.  Jake Hargrove is desperate. His brother's death left him in charge of his two part-Sioux nieces—one an infant and one school aged. Jake knows the baby can't survive the harsh western winter without a wet nurse. A marriage of convenience with this grieving mother seems to be the only answer. Fighting for the acceptance of their charges gives Jake and Elizabeth new purpose. With the Christmas season approaching, dare they hope that they also could receive the gift of love?

I really enjoyed this book and I was a little surprised because I wasn't sure how I was going to like the historical twist.  The background on the characters and the different time period just added to the interesting reading.  I loved learning more about the main characters through the book and how they overcame their doubts to have a great life.  There are always characters that you cheer for and Elizabeth is one of those who you hope has their life turn around after loosing her husband and young daughter.  I hope that you pick up this book at your local library or bookstore and check it out for yourself to see what happens with Elizabeth and how she turns her life around.  I think that you will enjoy it too!!!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 3/9

Monday- French Dip Sloppy Joes with chicken rice
Tuesday- Chicken Wraps with homemade fries
Wednesday- Leftovers
Thursday- Breakfast for Dinner
Friday- Pasta (mystery pasta)
Saturday- Leftovers/??
Sunday- Leftovers/??

I started off the week with no meal plan.  I knew that I had to go to the dentist on Monday so I didn't know how that would leave me in order to eat food for the rest of the week.  I hate that feeling but I think that I am mostly good.  I just spent another small fortune to get a crown.  We are hoping to get a bunch done at the new house this week which also leads to not having a clue what to make for dinner.  I should have run to the store this morning to get  a few things on the list but I didn't have time between the different things on the list so I hope to go in the morning tomorrow so that we can have a yummy dinner!  Hope you have a tasty week!!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Love Letters and When They First Met Book Review

I got the next book in the series out of the library of the series that I was reading.  Love Letters: A Rose Harbor Novel by Debbie Macomber was the next in the Rose Harbor series and I was excited to start it right after finishing the last one.  Now I am a little eager to go and check to see if there is another one already published for this series or whether I am caught up already.  I love getting into series after they already have a few books out because that gives me a lot more to read but if I remember correctly, this is the last that is currently published so I think that I am on to a new series now for a little bit!!

Summer is a busy season at the inn, so proprietor Jo Marie Rose and handyman Mark Taylor have spent a lot of time together keeping the property running. Jo Marie insists that Mark is only a friend. However, she seems to be thinking about this particular friend a great deal lately. Jo Marie knows surprisingly little about Mark’s life, due in no small part to his refusal to discuss it. She’s determined to learn more about his past, but first she must face her own—and welcome three visitors who, like her, are setting out on new paths.

Twenty-three-year-old Ellie Reynolds is taking a leap of faith. She’s come to Cedar Cove to meet Tom, a man she’s been corresponding with for months online, and with whom she might even be falling in love. They met through their love of books and became quick friends.  Ellie’s overprotective mother disapproves of her trip, but Ellie is determined to spread her wings and meet this new friend.

Maggie and Roy Porter are next to arrive at the inn. They are taking their first vacation alone since their children were born. In the wake of past mistakes, they hope to rekindle the spark in their marriage—and to win back each other’s trust. Things are going well until Maggie must make one last confession that could forever tear them apart. You have to pick up the book to see what happens with all of the visitors to the inn and I know that you will be as surprised as I was!

I loved it!!  As always, the writing and characters are amazing.  The stories of the people that are staying at the inn really bring you into the life of the inn keeper.  It is fun to see how Jo Marie grows with the other people and they help her heal while she is helping them.  The small town and all the great people in it are also wonderful.  The more you read of the series, the more characters you get to meet and small characters pop up from previous books.  I have really enjoyed this series and the cliff hanger at the end has me wishing that there was another book for me to pick up and I can't wait for the next in the series to find out what happens!!

I enjoyed the book so much that I looked up the short story that started the series.  I checked it out to read on the computer from the library.  It was a quick and easy read.  I am glad that they had it at the library because it really isn't worth its own review because it was so short.  I enjoyed reading it and getting a little more of the characters involved in the series that I have finished.  If you want to check out When First They Met (Short Story) (Rose Harbor) by Debbie Macomber but it is only available as a e-reader and in the end of some of the books in this series (but not in the one that I got).

From the moment Jo Marie sits next to Paul inside the Seattle Seahawks’ stadium, she feels a spark. Paul’s striking blue eyes and kind smile tell her that he’s someone special—different from any man she’s met before. When they strike up a conversation, Jo Marie and Paul realize how much they have in common, yet there’s one thing keeping them from a fairy-tale ending: Paul is in the military and will ship out of Seattle within the next six weeks. As Jo Marie wonders if she should once again open her heart, she decides that, no matter the stakes, she can’t forgo her chance at true love.

If you want to see how the couple first met that you learn all about in the series, read this short story to hold you over until the next book is released in the series.  I hope that you enjoy the book and the short story!  I did and I hope that they have them at your local library or bookstore so that you can read them too.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mindset Book Review

I was offered a chance to get a free book and be a part of the discussion group at my son's school.  You know that I couldn't pass that up.  I didn't know anything about that book but I signed up immediately.  I have tried to get into a book group on some many occasions that I jumped at the chance even if it was just a one time thing.

World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea–the power of our mindset.  Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success–but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals–personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.

I enjoyed the book and felt like I was back in school again (in a good way).  I had a little piece of paper stuck in the book where I made little notes with the page numbers of things that I found most interesting.  I figured that if I had to talk about it later that I should know where to find it.  Who knows how that will go but I am super excited after reading this book to sit down and talk about it with other parents.  What I learned from reading the book is that I had a lot of these same problems growing up and I want to make sure that I help my son to not feel the same way as I did growing up.  In the chapter about businesses, I saw many of the bosses that I worked with that only wanted people working for them that agreed with everything that they said (which I am not really good at and it takes a lot to hide my opinion).  I know that I am going to try to change the way that I speak to my son and I hope that it helps him to know that he can learn and grow and I think that in a working environment, I have learned how to make some changes that will make me happier.  There is a lot to learn in this book and I think that it has benefits to all people (even those without kids) to make sure that you set your mind to think about growing.  I can see how it will make your life better and help you learn to interact with others more positively.  I can't wait to put it into effect and put this reference book on my shelf to pick up again to refresh my memory.  I hope that you check this out at your local library or bookstore soon and enjoy it as much as I did!

Friday, March 6, 2015

February Shopping Trips

Giant $0 OOP

My first trip I don't seem to have a picture of because I did have my little helper with me and we were running late to get dinner on the table, maybe I forgot.  I went to Giant and got gallon of milk, 5 packages of ham and one pound of turkey lunch meat.  I also bought three bags of Malt-O-Meal cereal for my son which were on clearance for $0.50 each which he really wanted.  The total was $11.65 after sale and coupons.  I used my $10 Giant credit for being part of the online community...super sad that this was the last month to get this because I have earned one every month for at least two years and enjoyed it greatly!!! Then, I used my Kohl's rebate card to pay the additional $1.65.

Harris Teeter $0 OOP

I was totally out of eggs.  I went to Walgreens to get one dozen at the sale price of $1.29 and they were out.  I went back again and they were still out.  I got a rain check.  I went back with the rain check three times and they still didn't have any eggs so I gave up.  I pulled out my Harris Teeter rainchecks and found a few different egg ones.  There was one for 18 count of eggs (limit 3) at $2.50.  I had a coupon for $0.55 off which doubled so they were $1.40 for each one or total of $4.35 paid on Kohl's rebate card.  I knew that these would be enough to last us and I finished up one container in February and that leaves two containers for March.

Safeway $1.03
My husband took my son to Safeway to get a special treat after being super good during another one of our marathon construction days.  They brought me a doughnut too so my tummy was pretty happy.  I got this picture on my phone asking which one I wanted!! YUM!  I got the long chocolate covered one and my son picked out the one on the bottom with the sprinkles.

Target $0 OOP

I got a lot of great things at Target with lots of splurges but I went to get butter and cranberry juice with the option of getting some pasta for my son.  He is really picky and doesn't like the whole wheat or pasta plus that I currently have so I got him white fiber.  I grabbed some cereals for easy breakfast and a special treat of my son's favorite doughnuts.  I got gogurt for my son's lunch but they only had one in the kind he likes which includes only strawberry.  I also grabbed two packages of Ortega taco seasoning because they were on sale and I had a coupon.  I used my Target gift card for the $23.26 total after sales, coupons and cartwheel.

Mom's Shopping Trips $0 OOP
I had a few receipts from the stuff that my mom bought which included some stuff only for them that they took home with them and other stuff that they ate here or bought for our family meals.  She spent $15.14 at Harris Teeter on chicken kiev, cordon bleu and broccoli stuffed chickens and a bottle of Heinz Ketchup for my son which I was not going to buy him which she thought he should have for dinner.  She spent $24.78 at Aldi's to buy some cheese and potatoes that I asked for and some breakfast baked goods, salad mixes, and yogurt for her and my dad.  She also stopped at Wegman's and bought ground beef and mac and cheese which was totally for me and she spent $24.10.  I realize that this sort of makes it like I spent more this month but the only thing that I would have bought would have been the ground beef that we needed.

Total Spent for February $1.03

How did you do for February??  Do you think that I have used enough things around the house to be able to move yet?  Here is hoping for another month using most of the things around the house and spending very little money out of pocket on groceries in March.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: My Coke Points and Free Cokes

Do you want to get free coke?  It wasn't a lot of work and I got a bunch more then just free coke.

Go to My Coke Rewards and sign up for your own account.  We don't drink that much soda so it is a special treat for us but there are ways to get free points and other promotions.  I read a bunch of different blogs and I saw a note on one of them last year that there was a promotion to get Coke Rewards certificates cheaper the normal points- only 30 points for a 12 pack of soda.  I quickly went on the My Coke rewards and entered in a bunch of points that I had in the kitchen waiting for me to log in and do it.  I ended up having enough points to order 9 free cases of Coke!!!!  The certificates came in after Christmas and had an expiration date at the end of March.

I waited and waited for a deal to get some great free Coke and something else and there was nothing.  I finally found something at Target.  They have a cartwheel deal with 15% off Coke (limit 4 per transaction).  I got 8 Coke products and put them in the cart.  I also grabbed lunch meat and milk that we needed.  I went to a sort of unfriendly cashier who made me bag all my soda myself because I guess she didn't think that soda needed to be bagged.  She got me so into the bagging that I forgot to scan the cartwheel on the first transaction and it was still only $0.24.  I used my gift card and then realized that I messed it up.  I should have just left the register and took a second to study the receipt to figure out what happened.  I think that the coupons rang up at $4.99 and not the price of the soda and the last coupon was overridden to only be the total remaining (which meant that I lost money).  I think that I only paid tax.  Instead, I went forward with the second transaction and it said I owed a few cents but then I gave her my gift card and the cartwheel kicked in so it ended up in the negative.  I have no clue if I got money back on the gift card or lost the money all together. 

After studying the receipts, I waited in line at customer service.  I told them that I didn't scan the cartwheel and they gave me $3 in cash back.  I guess that I made out pretty good with 8 free cases of Coke, gallon of milk and pound of lunch meat and more money in my pocket then I came in with but I still left feeling a little coupon sad because I could have done so much better like another package of lunch meat and the cooking oil that I needed if I had only known what was going on.  I had my little man with me so I think that I did okay and we made it out of the store without a second trip to the toy section which is what he wanted to do so I am considering this a win!  What do you think??

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Kids Wednesday: Popcorn Science

I got a great idea to reserve some books at the library and do a little science and math lesson over the weekend.  Check out this website to see the science experiment using popcorn.  It was a tasty snack filled with fun learning!! What a great idea for a learning activity that doesn't feel like learning.

I made the popcorn on the stove a little bit ahead of time so that we would have popped popcorn and not have to wait for the finished product.

We started by going to the library to pick up the books that came in on reserve.

My mother read the one book that he wanted to read at the library before we came home.  They learned all about matter and how things changed in What Is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2)

by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld and Paul Meisel.

When we got home, I got out two wide mouth ball jars so that we could count the 100 of each type of popcorn into the jars.

It was a hit!  My son had a blast counting the popcorn.  Doesn't he look at a little too happy??

And even more fun eating the popcorn!! He insisted that he should eat the ones out of the jar which was fine by me but he had trouble getting his hand in the jar and the popcorn still in the hand when it got too low.

He and Grandma enjoyed eating their snack of popcorn while I was reading the popcorn book.  While they were eating their snack, I read The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola.

I hope that you enjoy reading these books and learning about the difference and how solids can change like popcorn.  There is even lots to learn just about popcorn in the popcorn book that you might not even know.  I know that I learned some things!!