Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane Book Review

I was excited to get to the next book in the series and I picked up The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane (Life in Icicle Falls) (English Edition) by Sheila Roberts.  This is the book that started me reading this whole series because I got it at a book sale with the free coupon from my summer reading!!  I was excited to read this book because it was mine and even more excited to see that there are a bunch of recipes in the back of the book which I now don't have to write down before returning to the library!

When it comes to men, sisters don't share!  After a fake food poisoning incident in L.A., Bailey Sterling's dreams of becoming a caterer to the stars collapse faster than a soufflĂ©. Now Bailey's face is in all the gossip rags and her business is in ruins. But the Sterling women close ranks and bring her back to Icicle Falls, where she'll stay with her sister Cecily.  All goes well between the sisters until Bailey comes up with a new business idea—a tea shop on a charming street called Lavender Lane. She's going into partnership with Todd Black, who—it turns out—is the man Cecily's started dating. It looks to Cecily as if there's more than tea brewing in that cute little shop. And she's not pleased. Wait! Isn't Cecily seeing Luke Goodman? He's a widower with an adorable little girl, and yes, Cecily does care about him. But Todd's the one who sends her zing-o-meter off the charts. So now what? Should you have to choose between your sister and the man you love (or think you love)?

I loved this book! It was great to see the dynamic between all the sisters growing into adult relationships.  I don't have any sisters so I am not sure that it would be that smooth but the sisters end up in a fight over a man.  Of course, my thinking was that neither would date him but you have to read the book to find out who wins the heart of the man.  This is a great perspective on characters that we have met through out the series but didn't know very well.  I hope that you you read this book and all the others in the series.  It brings great images of the small town and rural landscape into your head with every description.  I know that you will grow to love the characters as much as I have!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Cottage on Juniper Ridge Book Review

I was ready to go back to the Icicle Falls series when I finished my other books.  I got a whole bunch more out of the library and I was ready to continue where I left off in the story of the people in this small town.   The Cottage on Juniper Ridge (Life in Icicle Falls) by Sheila Roberts was a perfect trip back to this quaint town with a new person who just moved into the cottage on Juniper Ridge and was trying to re-invent her life to live more simply.

Can a book change your life? Yes, when it's Simplicity, Muriel Sterling's guide to plain living. In fact, it inspires Jen Heath to leave her stressful, overcommitted life in Seattle and move to Icicle Falls, where she rents a lovely little cottage on Juniper Ridge. And where she can enjoy simple pleasures—like joining the local book club—and complicated ones, like falling in love with her sexy landlord, Garrett Armstrong. Her sister Toni is ready for a change, too. She has a teenage daughter who's constantly texting her friends, a husband who's more involved with his computer than he is with her, and a son who's consumed by video games. Toni wants her family to grow closer—to return to a simpler way of life. Other women in town, like Stacy Thomas, are also inspired to unload their excess stuff and some of the extra responsibilities they've taken on. But as they all discover, sometimes life simply happens. It doesn't always happen simply!

It was a great read that I got to read a lot of while sitting on the playground watching my son.  Luckily there is a table out of the sun where I get to do a lot of reading.  On Friday, I promised him we could stay after school because he was bummed that we had to leave after only 30 minutes on Tuesday because we had soccer practice and we went for a haircut after school on Wednesday and then his Magic Tree Book Club on Thursday so he needed to run around.  We were there for an hour!!  I was ready to read more but if we didn't get home then I wouldn't be ready for dinner even though everything was prepped and just waiting for me to get home.  Luckily, it gave me a big chunk of time to read this book and make great progress.  I finished it Saturday morning while avoiding doing the long list of things that I should have been doing instead.  I really enjoyed this escape and this book following the newcomer to Icicle Falls trying to simplify her life from Seattle to something that she could actually enjoy.  No more working two jobs and barely scraping by, she was going to learn to relax and use her kitchen.  It was a great story that I could totally relate to with a few recipes included, it was a great inspiration story based on simplifying life to have a better life.  I hope that you check it out at your local library or bookstore and see for yourself.  If you are looking for a small town pulling together in tough times, this book is the perfect fit for you.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 9/28

Monday- Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken Tenders and Stuffing and shell mac and cheese
Tuesday- Pasta with garlic bread
Wednesday- Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Thursday- Grilled Italian Dill Chicken with chicken rice
Friday- Chicken Tenders and homemade fries
Saturday- Little Caesars Pizza and Cheesteak and fries/Salad, Asparagus, French Onion Red Potatoes and leftovers
Sunday- Leftovers/Breakfast for Dinner

The end of the month and I have two bags of ground beef left and five bags of marinated chicken.  I still have two packages chicken tenders from Harris Teeter shopping that I am planning on using and freezing.  I made some extra Salsa Sloppy Joe to freeze.  We also still have some sausage left in the freezer.  I am hoping to use most of those things to work through all of October and put down a menu plan for the whole month up front!!  Here is my first month in ages that I have attempted this so I am hopeful that I can fill up the month with tasty meals and a plan to know what I need to make and buy.  I currently have all the weekdays filled except 7 so I am well on my way.  I hope that you have a tasty week!!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Gather Around the Amish Table Cook Book Review

I was excited to find a cookbook that had lots of Amish recipes with Gather Around the Amish Table: Treasured Recipes and Stories from Plain Communities by Lucy Leid.  Who doesn't love the Amish recipes?  I was super excited to start reading the recipes and even more happy when I realized that there were cute stories in front of each recipe that the person sharing the recipe shared.

Straight from Amish kitchens to yours, this cookbook offers favorite family recipes and charming stories from Amish and Mennonite cooks. Bake the pecan rolls that taste best after an ice-skating party, or try the hoagies that a community sold to help an Amish family with hospital bills. Discover the cocoa cupcakes with instructions to stir by hand that one young cook took literally, or whip up the whoopie pies that one Amish woman took to market in her horse and buggy.  These cherished recipes speak of comforting traditions, lively communities, and strong Christian faith. Gather your family around the table to sample the nourishing fare and trademark charm of the plain people. In the words of one cookbook contributor: Bake someone happy!

I love the recipes and stories so much!!  My favorite chapter was the bread because I want to try all of the recipes.  The sad part is that some of the recipes are done on Amish quantities instead of smaller American families but I am sure that I can cut them in half and try it for a smaller scale.  In the breakfast section, I liked the cinnamon baked oatmeal, Linda's Pancakes and Mom's Waffles.  In the bread section, I wanted to make almost everything including some yummy choices like Mother's Oatmeal Bread, Honey Oatmeal Bread, Sesame Onion Braid, and English Muffin Loaves with the bonus of Mama's Cinnamon Buns.  I can't wait to try the breadsticks and Favorite Soft Pretzels.  I am so excited for the Delicious Doughnuts, Potato Doughnuts, Overnight Doughnuts, and the Sisters' Day Doughnuts and Glaze. Do you think that I have a carb problem??  The soups include an Easy Hamburger Soup  and Cream of Potato Soup that sound very tasty for the cold winter.  Easy Sloppy Joes and Chicken Hoagies are interesting sandwiches featured.  There is a chapter on salads and pickles that didn't really get me interested.  The side dishes had a recipe for noodles which I think are kind of like egg noodles and I am very interested in trying those.  The meats and main dishes includes stuffed shell casserole and beef noodle casserole that my family might like and other recipes a little too far out for us like Roasted Pig Stomach.  There is a Moist Chocolate Cake that sounds good and that is one of the ones without eggs which that I very interested to try.  I am going to have a ton of fun trying some of these out including some cookie recipes that make 6-10 dozen cookies.  I might need a bigger blender or stronger muscles to do it by hand.  I hope that you enjoy these recipes and stories as much as I have.  I know that I will be using many of these for years to come!!

I already made two of the recipes if you want to check out the results and pictures for Aunt Fannie's Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cherry Coffee Cake.  I am hoping to make the Moist Chocolate Cake soon too!!!  Stay turned for more recipes made from this cookbook!

**Please note that I got a copy of this book for my honest opinion and review.  All opinions shared here are my own.

A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn Book Review

I was so excited to get the next book in the series to review because I loved the first two books a ton. A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn: Amish Brides of Pinecraft, Book Three (The Pinecraft Brides) by Shelley Shepard Gray was the next in the series that I was waiting for!!  Beloved bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray returns with the third book in her Amish Brides of Pinecraft series—a story of second chances for two young single parents...and the wedding that brings them together.

Emma Keim was heartbroken when her husband Sanford passed away, leaving her to raise three young daughters alone. In the years since, her relatives have made it no secret that they expect Emma to remain a widow, mourning Sanford indefinitely. But when she meets Jay Hilty—a widower with three young sons of his own—Emma is delighted to have a new friend who understands her struggles. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s also handsome and kind. Still, Emma is dismayed that her family is so opposed to their friendship—and the idea of it ever becoming anything more. She honors her husband’s memory every day, but is she destined to be alone forever?

Jay knows that few people his age understand what it’s like to lose a spouse, and Emma’s gentleness with his boys stirs something in his heart that’s been quiet for far too long. But when Jay’s oldest son becomes engaged to a local woman, suddenly Jay, Emma, and their children are swept up in wedding preparations. Witnessing his son’s joy, Jay wonders if it’s time for him to move forward, too, and find happiness again.  Jay wants to court Emma in earnest, but Emma’s relatives remain troubled by the prospect of her moving on. Once again, love has come to Pinecraft. But can these two parties of four become a happy, healthy family of eight?

 I loved this book as much as the first two books.  This quaint little Amish town set in Florida which is totally different then normally reading about the Ohio or Pennsylvania setting.  The differences in the customs is fun to see.  There are colorful dresses and flip flops that you don't see on the Amish in the northern areas.  The interesting thing is when I read a book in those northern areas, people were pushing the people to marry again shortly after their mourning period but in this book, the family didn't want widowed Emma to remarry.  All is revealed through reading the book and I know that you will be as shocked as I was to learn all of the reasons.  Of course at the same time, I know you will love all the new characters introduced in this book.  If you haven't read the other books in the series, this book does stand on its own but it helps to understand some of the other characters more if you have read the first two books in the series.  I hope that you check out this book and the first two in the series and see if this isn't a fun Amish fiction series for you to enjoy.  I know that I enjoyed it and can't wait for the next in the series!

**I was given a copy of this book for my review but all opinions expressed here are my own. If you are interested in reviewing books like this, please contact Litfuse Publishing to see if you qualify.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Aunt Fannie's Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I had read Gather Around the Amish Table and really enjoyed it.  I tried the Cherry Coffee Cake recipe and we really enjoyed it.  I was thinking about making chocolate chip cookies so I looked in the book and picked out a recipe, Aunt Fannie's Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Super excited to get started, I pulled out all the ingredients first thing in the morning.

My son decided since I was busy in the kitchen that he needed to be part of the process.  I let him help measure the oil.

Then, he helped measure the brown sugar and the white sugar.  He made a little mess with the measuring but did a great job putting it in the bowl.  I had to clean up the kitchen after I was done baking and washing dishes so it was no big deal.

Then, we left for school.  I came back and added the eggs to the oil and mixed them together.

I added the wet ingredients to the sugar which mixed to make a caramel color batter.

I added the salt, baking soda, water and vanilla per the directions which seemed a little weird because the dry ingredients are usually added to the flour but I did as directed.

I added the flour and mixed to the final batter while adding the chocolate chips.

I had the chocolate chips measured and I added while the mixer was going because I have never added at the same time as the flour so I was little afraid but added before it was fully incorporated.

The final batter was very thick so it didn't get fully mixed in the bowl. 

I used a spatula to make sure everything was evenly combined.  There was a little more compacting and the batter was mixed and pretty shiny.

 I used the cookie scoop to put on to the cookie sheet but it got stuck every few cookies.

The dough formed pretty well into the balls even though it was thick and sticky.

The cookies came out pretty fluffy and settled down a little while cooling.

After they cooled, they were still really yummy!!!

The book said that it would make 4 dozen but I know that I didn't make that many because I use the medium cookie scoop so the cookies are a little bigger but it made a ton of cookies.  They were really good at the beginning but the longer they lasted, the last few cookies weren't as good as they got a little more dried out.  I hope that you try this recipe and tell me what you think!  I would make it again!!

Aunt Fannie's Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 1/2 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 1/2 c white sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp water
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c chocolate chips


Mix oil, sugars and eggs.  Add vanilla, water, baking soda, and salt.  Add chocolate chips and flour.  Drop my spoonful onto greased cookie sheets or silpat.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until light brown.  If you cook longer, you will have a crispier cookie.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Return to Promise Book Review

I was ready to read the last installment of the Heart of Texas book series even though it was a little bitter sweet.  Return To Promise by Debbie Macomber was the eighth and final book in the series.  I can't believe that I have read through another good series and I am at the very end.  I can always hope that she adds more but I don't know if that is going to happen.

The town of Promise, Texas, is a good place to live, to raise a family, to spend the rest of your days with the person you love.  Cal Patterson and his wife, Jane—also known as Dr. Texas—certainly think so. The last thing they expect is a threat to their marriage. But in September, disagreements begin to escalate—with the "help" of an attractive young woman who's got her eye on Cal.
After months of emotional upheaval brought on by doubts about their marriage, the two separate, and Jane returns to her childhood home in California, taking their children. Cal, now alone on his ranch, is forced to confront what he really wants in his life, what he needs. Jane is confronting the same questions…. How seriously does Cal take his marriage vows? And how important is Promise to Jane? Is there hope for a reconciliation—in time for Christmas?

This book was the most emotional book for me because it was going through the ups and downs of the Patterson's marriage in the middle of stressful time.  Jane's father is sick and she is torn between taking care of her husband and children versus her mother and father.  With siblings to help, Cal hopes that he won't take a back seat but after having his wife away for over three weeks, he is starting to loose hope.  There is a lot going on in this book and it is very sad although there is always hope in Promise.  I hope that you check out this book and others in the Heart of Texas series at your local library or bookstore soon. I know that you will enjoy them as much as I have.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Michael Symon's 5 in 5 Cookbook Review

I was pretty excited to find a new cookbook to review.  I was even more excited when it came in the mail a few days later. Michael Symon's 5 in 5 for Every Season: 165 Quick Dinners, Sides, Holiday Dishes, and More by Michael Symon was an interesting mix of ideas that I was excited to check out.

5 fresh ingredients + 5 minutes of heat = 165 recipes

Ridiculously easy from-scratch recipes to get you in and out of the kitchen in a flash every day of the week—now with sides and holiday dishes, too

The follow-up to the bestselling Michael Symon’s 5 in 5, this new book delivers 165 quick, easy, fresh recipes organized by season with an entire section devoted to making the holidays simpler than ever. Each chapter features inspired main courses as well as recipes for sides and 5 fun ways to celebrate the season, including no-bake summer fruit desserts and spiked drinks to warm up with in winter.

I was a little hesitant to order this cookbook because I thought that it might use a lot of ingredients that my family doesn't use and things that might be a little outside our price range but I was still interested in checking it out.  In reading the stories in front of each recipe, I could feel the personality of Michael Symon coming out who I love from the Chew on tv.  I quickly found Spring recipes that sounded interesting including Angel Hair with peas, lemon and mint and Chicken with cous cous, snow peas, garlic and ginger.  Some of the recipes were things that I wouldn't try or eat but they all came with detailed instructions and great pictures.  The Pork with broccoli and cashews looks like a dish that you could buy in a restaurant and I would love to try something like that at home.  There is a recipe for aspargus that looks a lot like mine except he uses oranges instead of lemon that might be interesting to try.  The summer recipes include some yummy sweet corn fritters and chicken breast with strawberry and goat cheese salad and grilled chicken tenders "buffalo style." There are also Parmesan zucchini fries and tempura green beans for fun side dishes.  Fall includes Grilled Cheese Havarti and Apple which is something that I would totally eat but probably never make even though it sounds amazing.  There is an Autumn Panzanella that probably falls into the same category of things that sound great but not something that I would put in the effort to make.  Winter brings Mushroom Philly Cheesesteaks and Soy Glazed Beef Tri-tip (and plenty more beef tri-tip options).  There is a recipe for Spicy Beef Tacos with fresh salsa which sounds very interesting!  Each season is filled with at least a few recipes that I know that you will want to try.

The interesting thing is that this cookbook is separated into season instead of types of dishes.  I normally get a cookbook and skip the seafood section because we don't eat it but you can't do this with this cookbook.  I hope that you pick up this book and try some recipes for yourself.  Each season has its share of meat, seafood and veggies options depending on what you are looking for.  I hope that you check it out and see if there aren't a few recipes that might become your family favorites especially if you have a seasonal garden that might make some of these recipes super easy and inexpensive to make!!  I hope that you enjoy the stories and recipes as much as I did.  If you have any cooks on your Christmas lists that are also Cleveland Browns fans, this is a must add to the Christmas present list!!

**Please note that I was provided a copy of this book for my review and honest opinion.  All opinions here are my own.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 9/21

Monday- Tacos with saffron rice
Tuesday- Pasta with garlic bread
Wednesday-Grilled Chicken with white rice and wedge salad
Thursday- Chicken Tenders and homemade fries
Friday- Picnic at school
Saturday- Leftovers/??
Sunday- Leftovers/Breakfast for Dinner: Waffles

I am so exhausted after a long week that it is a miracle that I made it through but it was my first full week of work (even though only working a half day at both jobs).  We have a much slower week planned this week so we are hoping to get caught up on things.  I hoping to get some other things done like some baking and unpacking.  I did whip up a loaf of applesauce bread and beer bread last Friday with dry ingredients already mixed which is always a lifesaver but they were gone quickly and I didn't get to the cinnamon rolls that I was thinking about making so hoping to make them this week and a batch of rolls to freeze.  I might be a little hopeful that I am going to have a slow week but hopefully working three days instead of 5 will make it a little calmer and no shopping because I am already over budget for the month.  Not sure what the weekend is going to bring but decided to stop planning and figure it out later because soccer games are tough to plan around.  I hope that you have a tasty week!!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Promise, Texas Book Review

I was excited to get these books on my reserve shelf but stopped in the middle of another series I was reading to switch back to this series.  Promise, Texas (Heart of Texas) by Debbie Macomber was the next book in my reading list so I was happy to pick it up.  I really enjoyed this series and was looking forward to the end of it even though I was a little sad that I was already there.

In Promise, Texas, people know what really matters—family, friends, community. And they know that love gives meaning to every day of their lives…. Some of the people in Promise are from old ranching families—like the Westons and Pattersons—folks who arrived in the Hill Country more than a century ago. And then there are newcomers like Annie Applegate, who opens a bookstore in town. Some might say Annie does things backward. She marries a widowed veterinarian for the sake of his kids…and discovers that marriage can lead to love. 

In Promise, everyone's life is a story! The people here, like people everywhere, experience tragedies as well as triumphs, sorrow as well as joy. This town, like towns everywhere, has its share of secrets. But whether times are good or bad, you're never alone in a place like Promise. And as Annie Applegate knows, that makes all the difference.

I enjoyed this book as I have all the other books in the series.  This was fun to get to know the newest member of the small little Texas town.  Annie needed a change in her life and she moved to Promise on the suggestion of her friend, Dr. Jane.  Annie makes a new life for herself and builds up her new business.  Nessa, Dovie Boyd's sister in law, comes to town to make her life a little better and does just that while working at Dovie's store while Dovie is on vacation.  There are many people in this small town who are starting their lives over which is uplifting to read.  It imparts a good message of hope and I hope that you check out this and other books in the Heart of Texas series at your local library or bookstore soon to add to your reading list.  I hope that you enjoy them as much as I have!!!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Cherry Coffee Cake from Gather Around the Amish Table Cookbook

I woke up on the weekend after reading the Gather Around the Amish Table Cookbook and I was inspired to start cooking some of the recipes. (see full review for the whole book here)

I decided to start with the cherry coffee cake because I had all the ingredients and it was still breakfast time so it would be fun to have a breakfast treat.

I pulled out all the ingredients just to be super sure that I had everything that I thought that I did in the new kitchen.  The only thing that I was running really low on was stick butter so I used a little of the coconut oil Melt that I got.  I love the flavor of coconut oil but I tried it on some things and it wasn't what I expected.  I have been using it in my loaves of bread which have been really tasty so I figured that this would be perfect for this recipe.

 I measured the butter and sugar and put them in the mixing bowl.

I creamed the butter and sugar until they were incorporated.

Then, I started adding the eggs one at a time.

I added the dry ingredients to the mixture.

Then, I mixed the batter together.  It made a thick batter but I expected it to be a little thicker like cookie batter so I sat down to try to remember if I missed any flour but after a few seconds of pondering, I was sure that I counted right.  If your cake turns out different, let me know because I didn't put in the right measurement of flour.

I greased the pan and spread the layer across the pan.  It said to use 2/3 and I am not sure how close I got but it seemed like I was pretty close.

I opened up the can of cherry pie filling with my can opener and spread it across the batter.  It looked so good and I wanted to steal a cherry but I left them all there....I might have licked the spatula with the cherry goodness.

Then came the hardest step (other then not eating the canned cherries with a fork), putting the batter on top by spoonfuls.  I figured that it didn't have to be pretty so here is what mine looked like in the new oven and ready to bake.

The top spread out really nicely while cooking to make a wonderful finished product.  Mine took a little on the longer side to start to brown (although the recipe said nothing about browning but I thought it would look better).

The top was very pretty with the cherry peaking out but it wasn't a lot because the dough on top spread out a lot in the baking process.

We ate a few sliced hot out of the oven and a few after they cooled off and a few the next day.  I think that this is one treat that does taste better cooled off and maybe even the next day.  They were tasty and interesting because I was still thinking that it was going to turn out more like a sugar cookie with cherries in the middle but this was a nice big slice of cake that had great flavor.  When served hot, I thought that cake was a little dry but after you let it sit (like you are supposed to but I never have patience for), the moisture soaks into the cake.  It was like a really good shortcake recipe that you could make ahead almost as tasty as a pound cake without being as heavy.

I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.  I would like to share but there is none left.  

The recipe called for an icing glaze which I thought might be nice but my husband doesn't like icing so we tried it just as it was.  I hope that you try it and let me know what you think with or without the glaze!

Cherry Coffee Cake


1 cup butter or margarine
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 can cherry pie filling (21 oz)

Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each. Add vanilla. Blend in remaining ingredients except cherry pie filling including flour, baking powder and salt. Spread 2/3 of dough in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Cover with pie filling and spoon the rest of the batter on top. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 350° F or until golden brown.

Glaze (optional):

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoon milk

Gradually add the powdered sugar to the melted butter, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides frequently. Then add the milk (use warm milk to make thin consistency), 1 tbsp at a time until the glaze is smooth. Drizzle over warm coffeecake.

Other options:  Bake in a jelly roll pan (10½" x 15½") for a thinner coffee cake which will feed more people if serving a crowd.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 350° F or until golden brown.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Trying to get Back on the Frugal Bandwagon

I am trying to get back into the habit of making frugal choices.  I got a little farther off the path then expected with the longer then necessary move process.  We are finally in the new house 100% and the other house is sold!!!   I did go over there to get the mail after we moved but that is because there is no one living there yet and all the mail was addressed to us.  I changed the address at the post office but I think that takes awhile so crossing my fingers that nothing gets lost in the transfer.

1. Buy less junk food!

I had to explain this to my son that chips were not something necessary to have in the house.  Not only that but we had one of his favorite chips and didn't need to have two other chips that he was heart broken because we didn't have.  We don't need four things of chips in a shopping trip!!  I am working on always having popcorn made in a bowl for easy access because we all love to eat that healthy and filling snack.

2. Bake More at Home

This is an easy addition and with the end of summer and start of school, I have made blueberry strudel muffins, applesauce bread, banana bread, cherry coffee cake and chocolate chip cookies.  I have been working back to making most of the things and trying new recipes on great baked goods for breakfast and treats.

3. Make Food from What We Have

This is something that we did for a long time to use up the food at the old house but now we have to do it because we don't have a lot of extra budget to stock up on things that we currently don't have a stockpile of.  I like to stock up on things when I get them really inexpensively.  I have a lot of Italian Dressing that we don't use so I added a little dill and marinated chicken with it.

I have tons of Worchestershire sauce that I need to use up so I am using that for marinate so that we have flavorful chicken without having to buy additional items to season them.

We are back to leftover nights where I use all of the items in the fridge to make other meals like my husband's favorite fried rice.  I bought some cooked chicken on sale and with coupon for free so super excited to have that in the freezer to use when we need to for yummy dishes like this.

I also have a ton of spaghetti sauce that we moved to the new house.  My mom took a bunch home with her in exchange for whatever she bought us.  I got the sauce free so it was a great deal for me and I am not stuck with a lot of sauce that we still aren't using.  We are going to be having a lot more pasta with sauce soon!!

5. Get Organized to Coupon

I went back to get a little more organized but I am still two inserts behind in cutting my coupons to sort them (plus I didn't even get the coupons).  The great news is that I found the two Coke coupons that I couldn't find when shopping before in my wallet!  I am super sad that I didn't find them when I was shopping because I wasn't organized but I am trying to pull together everything and get the coupon basket back in the car so that I can get things while I am out instead of thinking that my coupon basket is at the house.  I can't wait to coupon and stock up on the things that are on sale for the week!!

Here is hoping that I can get back on the bandwagon without hitting too many speed bumps!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What She Wants Book Review

I was excited to get further into this new series and this book was a perfect next step. What She Wants (Life in Icicle Falls) by Sheila Roberts was the third book in the Icicle Falls series.  It went into the lives of some of the men in the town which was great after the last book about a few of the women.

What do women want?  Jonathan Templar and his poker buddies can't figure it out. Take Jonathan, for instance. He's been in love with Lissa Castle since they were kids but, geek that he is, she's never seen him as her Mr. Perfect. He has one last shot—their high school reunion. Kyle Long is equally discouraged. The pretty receptionist at his office keeps passing him over for other guys who may be taller but are definitely not superior. And Adam Edwards might be the most successful of Jonathan's friends, but he isn't having any success on the home front. His wife's kicked him out.  When Jonathan stumbles on a romance novel at the Icicle Falls library sale, he knows he's found the love expert he's been seeking—Vanessa Valentine, top-selling romance author. At first his buddies laugh at him for reading romance novels, but soon they, too, realize that these stories are the world's best textbooks on love. Poker night becomes book club night…and when all is read and done, they're going to be the kind of men women want!

This book was so funny that I was laughing from beginning to end!!  The men are looking to discover the secret of the way that women think and discuss it every week over poker with the guys.  They decide to do research and read romance novels to know what to do for women.  Many of the men try these ideas with mixed results and the attempts are so funny.  If you want to see what men think that women want, you should check out this book because I think that you will be entertained.  I hope that you check out this book and others from the series at your local library or bookstore soon.  I know that you will enjoy them as much as I have!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Middle of the Month Shopping Update

I was set to shop better this month and make good decisions to save lots of money.  It was my new house resolution to get back into the couponing world again.   I am a little behind on getting this week's coupons but I have been doing pretty well even though I am a little over half way past my $160 monthly budget.  Hoping that I can do well with my remaining $60 left for the month.

Harris Teeter $41.26

Detailed account of everything if you click on the store and total but saved $82.35!  A little crazy with the soda added but got a ton of great deals.

Safeway $1.37

My husband dropped me off at the endodontist to get a root canal and took my son to get a doughnut!!  So sorry that I was getting drilled inside of getting a doughnut with them.  Found the receipt days later in the side pocket of my car so added it to the folder.

Aldi $24.16

I went to the store with my son and a list that he wrote.  He added a few things along the way (so did I).  We were lucky to come out as low as we did with our crazy shopping habits during this trip.

Shoppers $4.31

I don't usually shop at this store but I had to run in to get margarine because I was going to make chocolate chip cookies.  The funny part was I made cookies with a different recipe and I didn't need it.  I got the ice cream because it is our favorite and it was on sale.

Detailed account of everything if you click on the store and total above but saved $55.43!  Half of the total was the toilet paper so I got a ton of groceries for a great deal.

Harris Teeter $14.38

I couldn't resist going back and getting a bunch of the deals on the things that we love and use all the time.  We are going to have taco shells and yogurt to last months!  I used a rain check to get 4 packages of Land O Frost Turkey for my husband which could last us awhile if I get some of his ham to add with the sandwiches (saving me $7.98).  I used another rain check on the 6 boxes Quaker Big Chewy Granola Bars saving $3.90.  I got two Old El Paso soft taco boats, two Old El Paso Bold taco shells, one Bisquick, head of lettuce, two Betty Crocker fruit snacks, Perdue Simply Smart Chicken tenders and one 6 pack of ramen noodles.  I got to use a $3 off $15 purchase that I had from Wegman's (sad that I forgot yesterday because I had two).  Total saved $60.87.

Total Spent $109.59

I got $0.25 for the lettuce in the first trip from Checkout 51 and pending another $0.25 from the last trip and $0.20 from Ibotta.  I got $0.20 back from Ibotta for the ice cream and on track to get $7.25 from Saving Star so far this month.  That is a total of $8.15 in different rebates for the shopping that I was going to do anyway!!

For the rest of the month, I am going to need to get eggs, ham lunch meat and maybe some more Coke with the remaining budget.  I really want to fit in another trip to Harris Teeter after work on Tuesday so there won't be a lot left for the rest of the month but I still need to get Domino's sugar and cheap Pronto pasta and I am sure there are other things that I can get great deals on so I am going through my coupons to see if there are more deals to do and stay under my remaining $50.