Monday, November 30, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 11/30

Monday- Penne Pasta with garlic bread and breaded zucchini
Tuesday- Barber Chicken with white rice
Wednesday- Chicken Fries and Popcorn Chicken with homemade french fries and tater tots
Thursday- Spicy Schzeuan Udon Noodles with chicken and edamame
Friday- Salsa Sloppy Joes on homemade rolls (in freezer) with macaroni and cheese
Saturday- Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes or Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken with potatoes
Sunday- Breakfast for Dinner or Leftovers

I normally have my menu up first thing in the morning because I take the time to think about what we are going to have for the week.  Since we were away and I forgot to bring my calendar with me as I planned, this didn't happen this morning.  I put the first three days of the week on the menu when I got home so that I would know what we were having and didn't get to the rest of the plan until later in the day.

Funny thing is that I don't usually put a lot of detail on my menu plan and add a bunch of things based on what we have but this week since it is basically happening at the same time, there are much more details.  I used a box of free penne noodles and the remaining zucchini that my mom had brought with her because it was starting to get a little sad.  It was also the last loaf the garlic bread from my stock up deal through Ibotta.  I had to grab more bread crumbs from the freezer which I make from leftover bread and grind down to use for the zucchini.

For the rest of the week, I am going to finishing up a lot of other things too.  It is going to be the last of the tater tots which will be sad but it was a nice treat for my husband.  I am going to use another noodle and stir fry seasoning that I got for free at super doubles.  I am going to use the chicken that I have leftover from the roasted chickens that I put in the freezer to use in a meal.  I have a jar of salsa in the fridge that I need to blend to have ready for making the salsa sloppy joes.  I have been using up lots of the items in the freezer, fridge and pantry so I am going to have to start getting serious about finding some more good deals.  I am going to make some extra salsa sloppy joes for the freezer so that is something.  Hope you have a yummy week!!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Another Way Home Book Review

I picked out this book because I really enjoyed the last book that I read in this series so I wanted to see where the series was going.  Another Way Home: A Chicory Inn Novel - Book 3 by Deborah Raney was the next in the series which I was excited to find out what happened next.  After reading this book and learning more about the other family members in the Whitman family, I really want to look into the first book in the series!! So sorry that I missed it at the beginning of this series.

Grandchildren are not in short supply for Grant and Audrey Whitman, although their middle daughter, Danae, and her husband, Dallas Brooks, after trying for years, have not been able to contribute to the growing family. Danae is open to adoption, but Dallas will not even discuss it. Her despair over never having a family of her own is so deep, it even causes her to question God’s plan for her life. Knowing she must find something to do to fill her lonely days and energize her life, Danae volunteers to work at a newly opened women’s shelter in town. She was only looking for a way to spend her time, but getting to know the hurting women at the shelter fills her heart and she learns to live a life of gratitude once again. But heart-wrenching events on Thanksgiving weekend threaten to pull the entire Whitman clan into turmoil— and leave them all forever changed.

I didn't get to read this very quickly because there were too many things going on with working and my son's school and the upcoming holiday but I really enjoyed the time that I set aside to read the book.  There was a little bit at the beginning of the book where Danae seemed to be whining about how horrible her life was because she couldn't have a child but that was quickly over when she decided to turn her life around.  She went to volunteer at the women's shelter and learned how wonderful her life was and how she could help others.  It was great to watch how Danae grew and how she became more happy when she was helping others.  I was really interested to learn about the fertility treatment or adoption process.  I hope that you check out this book at your local library or bookstore soon.  I think that you will enjoy this book and others in the series.  Let me know if you check them out and what you think!!

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Willow Brook Road Book Review

I got another book off my reserve list unexpectedly.  It would be expected if I went back and checked the status but it seemed that all of the books were moving forward to put me at the top of the list at the same time.  Super excited to see Willow Brook Road (A Chesapeake Shores Novel) by Sherryl Woods because it was the newest installment of the Chesapeake Shores series which I finished awhile ago but really loved.

Spirited, spontaneous Carrie Winters has grown up under the watchful eyes of not only her grandfather Mick O'Brien, but the entire town of Chesapeake Shores. Now that she's home from Europe, a glamorous fashion career behind her and her heart broken, there seem to be far too many people watching to see if she'll live up to the expectations her family has for her. As if that weren't enough pressure, Carrie finds herself drawn to sexy, grief-stricken Sam Winslow, who is yearning for someone to help him raise the nephew who's unexpectedly come into his life after a tragedy. With her own life in turmoil, is Carrie really ready to take on a new career and a new man? Or is Sam exactly what she needs to create the strong, loving family she's always wanted?

It was exactly what I needed to read.  It was a lot like the other books in the series covering one of the family members in depth and meeting some new people to the town.  I really enjoyed getting to know Carrie more and meeting Sam for the first time.  The wonderful story of how Carrie was finding her way to making a new life was inspiring.  Many people have a career and decide that it isn't working for them but this showed the next step in the process on how she was rebuilding her life in her hometown.  In the process (of course), she finds love and happiness.  It was a great book with great writing and hope that you check it out too!!  Add it to your reading list and let me know what you think.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 11/23

Monday- Tacos with saffron rice
Tuesday- Leftovers
Wednesday- Dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house (my parents)
Thursday- Thanksgiving Dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house
Friday- Dinner at my cousin's house
Saturday- Dinner either at cousin's or parents house
Sunday- Probably Pizza

We ended up having a different dinner on Sunday last week so we are going to carry our yummy tacos over to Monday night and we are going to be here there and everywhere for the holidays so I think we are going to do leftovers and then most of our meals are going to be out and about.  Hope you have a yummy week and a fabulous holiday!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Knights Before Christmas Book Review

This book sounded too cute to pass up.  The Knights Before Christmas by Joan Holub was quickly received after I requested it and I was so excited to see what was inside.  I barely got to read it before my son said is that for me...."Ummm, sort of...sure.  Do you want to read it?" I said.  He said yes and immediately sat down to read this new book to his collection.

'Twas December 24th, and three brave knights were just settling in for the night when out on the drawbridge, there arose such a clatter! The knights try everything to get rid of this unknown invader (Santa Claus!), a red and white knight with a fleet of dragons . . .
But nothing would stop
their white-whiskered foe.
No matter their efforts,
he just would not go!

This parody of Clement Clarke Moore's well-known poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas is kid-friendly, clever, and just plain silly―sure to become a holiday classic of a different kind.

Super funny and entertaining books for kids and parents alike.  Mine read it and laughed out loud.  At first he didn't understand that it was a parody but he quickly caught on and found it even more funny.  As a parent, I thought it was nice to have something a little different to read during all of the Christmas stories.  The captions really add to the story to make it even more engaging for young readers.  I was also entertained by the Knights names which I am sure that the kids won't find as funny at first but they were super clever with Brave Knight, Polite Knight, and Silent Knight (my favorite).  On the tapestry in the castle, there was also Sir Knight Stand, Sir Dance-A-Lot, and Sir Knightie Knight.  I can't wait to read this again and again over the years because I think that there are more things that the kids will catch on to as they get older like the spearmint gum being used for spears to the castle.  I hope that you all check this out and see for yourself what a wonderful holiday classic this book is going to be for your family.

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

Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

I have a huge binder that I keep a bunch of recipes in and I used to pull it out every time that I was baking.  Sadly, only half of the recipes that I had fit into it.  It was huge and overstuffed and barely fit on the shelf.  I got two different (and very pretty) Hallmark cookbooks for my wedding shower over 11 years ago so I decided that I would use one of them to put all of the recipes that I actually made over and over into.

Inside the new condensed cookbook, I don't have to ask myself... "Is this the oatmeal cookie recipe that I use or is this other one?"  Which usually got answered based on which ever one was dirtier or I had to call my mother.  Seeing that this wasn't the best method, I added recipes after they were made a few times to my cookbook which is on a stand in the kitchen.  It includes pumpkin bread, banana bread, applesauce bread, chocolate chip cookies and American Sandwich Bread (which I actually make without the recipe now because I do it so often).

Did you hear a recipe for sugar cookies in there?  Nope!!  I had to go to the basement (sadly where the cookbook is now that I don't have a wonderful bookcase in my kitchen like my old house) and find all of the sugar cookie recipes.  Then I had to figure out which one of them I used.

I knew it was one of the ones from my middle school home ec class (Thanks Mrs. Lucey) but I wasn't sure past that.  I looked at the ingredients.  I didn't have sour cream so that was out.  I didn't remember using confectioners sugar so that was out.  I went with Edith's Cookies... and no I don't know who that is but I remember it being in a paper that my teacher gave me and we made them.  I came home and saved it but rarely make it because I hate rolling out the cookie dough!!  Although the finished product is really good, I don't really have the patience for all that work but I needed cut out cookies for my class Halloween party so I set to work making them.

I pulled out the vegetable shortening, butter and coconut butter to mix to get the needed fat in the recipe with 1/4 cup yet.

I mixed the butters and shortening with the sugar.  I added in the eggs and vanilla.

 I added the flour, baking powder and salt into the mixture to add the wet to the dry ingredients.

It quickly mixed in to make a great dough.

I scraped the bowl and put the dough in a big ball and put it in the fridge.  It needed to be a little bit of time in the fridge so I left to get my son at school while it cooled.

 I put the dough on a floured surface.  I used the rolling pin to roll the dough out.  I cut out the round cookies to make cookies to decorate.  The great news is that it was still easy to re-roll the dough when there were leftovers even though I am sure that I should have chilled them again.

I got lots of round cookies which were nice and crispy but barely brown.

 Then, we got to decorate them with icing and lots of toppings.  These were the ones that I made at home.  My son and I enjoyed them with icing and my husband enjoyed them plain.  They weren't very sugary but they were an interesting treat more like a shortbread cookie.  I can't wait to make them again with sugar crystals on them before they are baked.  That is my favorite way to make them because it is easiest to make and still yummy to eat.

They were super tasty and we really enjoyed them and I hope that you will to.  They are great for any holiday or occasion.  I hope that you make them and enjoy them as much as we did.

Edith's Sugar Cookie Cut Outs

3/4 c. Part Butter and Shortening
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. lemon extract or 1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Mix shortening, butter, sugar, eggs and extract together until creamed.  Add dry ingredients, flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness on floured surface with floured rolling pin.  Cut with a 3 inch cookie cutter and place on ungreased cookie sheet or silpat.  Bake 6-8 minutes or until very lightly brown on the edge of the cookies.   Decorate or Eat Plain.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Things that I Do to Save Money and Stretch those Groceries

This week of saving started off really slowly.  I had a busy end of the week so I didn't get a lot done at home but I got really busy over the weekend trying to get everything done before the work week started.  I was hoping to make some breakfast food for the week but it didn't happen over the week.

I also finally made the big jump and went out and bought a new car.  I don't have it yet and although this is a lot of money, it still is a little bit thrifty because my 12 year old car needed a lot of expense work done to it to keep it running.  I know that it doesn't seem like a thrifty or frugal decision but the expenses were at the point that it was going to cost more then the car.  I even had coupons but I passed on the repairs and decided to finally move forward with a new car so I hope to get in the next few weeks!!!  Cross your fingers and send good thoughts my way.

1. Froze the Remaining Raspberries:

Sad fact and why I never buy raspberries is because they go bad so quickly.  It makes me so sad and I really should remember this but I laid out some of them so that they could freeze.  Many were already yucky so they ended up in the trash.

2. Made Lemon Blueberry Raspberry Scones:

I used the rest of the smooshy raspberries and frozen blueberries to make these Greek Yogurt Scones.

3. Made Loaf of American Sandwich Bread:

I made a loaf last week that lasted a really long time.  I took out the bread before the time on the bread machine.  I find that 9 minutes early is the best for the bread to be finished.  I ended up taking out the bread 15 minutes early and I thought that it was undercooked but it turned out perfectly.  The loaf was really soft and we ate the whole loaf from one end to the other which lasted through the whole week.  I made another one on Sunday for the coming week.

4. Made Popcorn:

I make so much popcorn that it tends to blur together but we ate a lot of popcorn this week between my son and myself.  My husband even washed out the popcorn pot so that I can make more next week.

5. Made Iced Tea:

Love my tea and couldn't live without it.  I make a pitcher everyday and bring two containers and my cup to work.  I make sure that I never go without my tea :)

6. Went to Library to get Books:

I went to the library early on and got books for myself since I was down to the last few books in my reading pile.  Then I went to the library and picked up more books for my son including some reserved stuff.  We have both already read some of them and returned them.

7. Got Papers:

I went to the library on Saturday morning since I didn't get to go on Friday.  I am going to take the pile to my son's school because the teacher needs them for a turkey craft so these will help stuff some turkeys.

8. Got Coupons:

I got about 21 inserts of two different ones for this week.  I sadly haven't cut last weeks coupons so I now have a pile of things to take care of!!   I also got the coupons from my free paper that is delivered to my driveway (those are the two on the right).

9.  Dinners at Home:

We had all of our dinners at the house except one meal that we went to a friends house where we had pizza there (they paid) and then they came the next night to visit our house.  I made lots of yummy dinners which I had all of the food already in the house.  I also worked on getting the plan together for next week of all of our meals.

10. Lunches from Home:

We made lunches and brought them with us to work and school and wherever we were going.  However, we did have a little splurge on Chinese food when my cousin was here because she loves it.  I didn't want her to go home without having her favorite Crispy Shredded Beef from our favorite restaurant even though we had it last week with my mother in law (also her favorite place).  The great news is that we used our rebate credit card so that we didn't spend any money out of our pocket.

11. Made Chocolate Chip Cookies:

I used up all the chocolate chips in the house to make the last batch of chocolate chip cookies but they were really yummy and hit the spot.  I made a few with M&Ms on top for my son.  He enjoyed the special cookies.  We also had a special visitor who really enjoyed them too.

 12. Made Buttery Yeast Rolls:

I made these yummy rolls which I made the other week for Thanksgiving dinner for the dinner that we had friends over for.  It was another yummy treat and these cooked up wonderfully.  These were my leftovers so that I have them for later in the week to add to our meals.  I think that these might be my new favorite.  I wonder if I could make some to freeze and then set them out to thaw and bake.  So tasty!!!

13. Downloaded My Son's School Pictures:

We bought a package that included a download of six different backgrounds.  I wasn't sure if I was going to keep the pictures or send them back for retake day.  I decided that even though it wasn't the best picture that it could be, it wasn't a bad picture.  When you tell my son to smile, he has a weird grin (which I know that most kids do at a young age) and I think that the photograph kind of captures that so I guess we will have a memory of exactly the little man we remember for years to come.  What do you think??  Did I make the right decision?  The best thing about this is that I can use the free prints at Walgreens to get a big picture to frame since the package is twice the price to get a big print.  This way, my whole family gets their prints on their accounts for free.

14. Made Chicken Broth:

I decided that while I was home cooking the chicken for 90 minutes, I might as well start the chicken broth with the things from the freezer.  I think that it is way easier then using the chicken after dinner so I will save the chicken from this week to make next time.  Super easy and I double strain to get everything out and the broth is ready to use.

Did you do anything frugal that saved you a little money this week?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Book Review

I was on the library website searching for new books to read when I found a list of new releases. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō jumped out at me even though I knew nothing about it.  I guess I was one of the only ones since they said right on the cover that there are millions of people who have bought the book.

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?  Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).  With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

She suggests starting with clothes, papers, books, and ending with more personal items like photos and letters.  Getting into the habit early with the easier stuff that we might have less attachment to.  She wants the people to take all of the items out of the house where they are currently kept and put them on the floor.  Although this makes sense for a single person living by themselves, it makes a lot less sense for someone who has so much stuff and isn't going to finish in a day while the rest of the family is away from the house.  It is an interesting book with good ideas on how to get you started but many of her concepts apply to Japanese households and are less applicable to American households.  I have never wanted to make a shrine or carry around things from shrines but she suggests making them on the top of your dresses which he has put in the closet after her decluttering.  I am by no means an expert like she obviously is but this is a lot more of the minimalist ideals then tidying or decluttering.  That being said, I didn't put down the book to take all my clothes out and see what makes me happy because for the most part, none of them do but they are things that I wear so that I am clothed and dressed appropriately for the occasion- work clothes for work and home clothes for home.  I don't have an unhealthy obsession with handbags (which it sounds like she might) but I do have a lot of junk.  The worst part is that it says that you have to deal with only your own things which makes me wonder how that helps organize things because at least 1/3 of the things in the house is my husbands and 1/3 for my son's.  There is no magic suggestion on actually getting a family on board with this plan or how you can get family house cleaned and organized except to say that they will follow once you start.  I don't think that they have meet my family because my husband and son would say thanks for cleaning up so that I have more room for my stuff.  I hope that you check this book out at your local library or bookstore and let me know if you think that this works in other countries.  I know that you will enjoy the wonderful ideas she shares but I want to know if you can put it into practice (Ann that means you need to read this and tell me what you think!!).

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wildest Dreams Book Review

I was interested in reading all of the new books that were coming out so I put a ton of books on the reserve list at the library.  Most of them came in at the same time so I was trying to read all of the books with all of the books that I was supposed to be reviewing.  The Wildest Dreams (Thunder Point) by Robyn Carr was the next in my pile from the library from reserve so I was going to get it done before it was due back to the library.  I was on a race against time with no renewals :)

Blake Smiley searched the country for just the right place to call home. The professional triathlete has traveled the world, but Thunder Point has what he needs to put down the roots he's never had. In the quiet coastal town, he can focus on his training without distractions. Until he meets his new neighbors and everything changes.

Lin Su Simmons and her teenage son, Charlie, are fixtures at Winnie Banks's house as Lin Su nurses Winnie through the realities of ALS. A single mother, Lin Su is proud of taking charge and never showing weakness. But she has her hands full coping with a job, debt and Charlie's health issues. And Charlie is asking questions about his family history—questions she doesn't want to answer.

When Charlie enlists Blake's help to escape his overprotective mother, Lin Su resents the interference in her life. But Blake is certain he can break through her barriers and be the man she and Charlie need. When faced with a terrible situation, Blake comes to the rescue, and Lin Su realizes he just might be the man of her dreams. Together, they recognize that family is who you choose it to be.

It was as great as all the other books in the series have been with a wonderful story getting more into the life of one of the characters that we have known for a little bit only as Winnie's nurse.  It was great to see her stubborn side and find out what happens when she is pushed to accept "charity."  She leaves the horrible neighborhood that she has been living in and moves to a nice small apartment in Thunder Point.  Her whole life starts to turn around and become so much happier until she has a fight with her son about living the past alone.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens but it is sure to leave you surprised.  I hope that you check out this book and others in the series. It is a wonderful series with great characters and even better writing.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Menu Plan Monday 11/16

Monday- Leftovers
Tuesday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Popcorn Chicken and homemade fries
Wednesday- Breakfast for Dinner
Thursday- Barber Chicken with white rice
Friday- Whole Chicken with roasted potatoes or stuffing
Saturday- Pasta with garlic bread
Sunday- Tacos with saffron rice and corn bread

My mom is coming into town this week so we have an extra one for dinner.  In addition, I have two book clubs at the library to take my son to and a soccer tournament.  It also looks like there are some things for work that I might be spending some extra time there so I planned the easiest week that I could.  I still have a few packets of chicken and ground beef to use through the rest of the month so I don't think that I will need much more from the store other than milk for my mom.  If there are any deals around the holidays, I will take advantage and stock up but hoping to use most of the stuff from around the house.  Do you have any great plans for this week or taking it easy because next week is going to be food crazy???  Hope you have a yummy week!!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Hot Bread Ktichen Book Review

I was looking around to see what book I would review next and I was immediately taken by the cover and title of this book. The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World
by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez.  It was a wonderful looking bread and I was looking forward to all the bread recipes with wonderful pictures.

Authentic multiethnic breads from the New York City bakery with a mission:
At first glance Hot Bread Kitchen may look like many other bakeries. Multigrain sandwich loaves, sourdough batards, baguettes, and Parker House rolls line the glass case up front in the small shop. But so, too, do sweet Mexican conchas, rich m’smen flatbreads, mini bialys sporting a filling of caramelized onion, and chewy Indian naan. In fact, the breads are as diverse as the women who bake them—because the recipes come from their homelands.

Hot Bread Kitchen is a bakery that employs and empowers immigrant women, providing them with the skills to succeed in the culinary industry. The tasty corollary of this social enterprise is a line of authentic breads you won’t find anywhere else. Featured in some of New York City’s best restaurants and carried in dozens of retail outlets across the country, these ethnic gems can now be made at home with The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook.

The contents of the book are as follows:

Bread Baking Tips
Notes of Equipment and Ingredients
Primordial Bread: Unleavened Flatbread
Slightly Elevated: Leavened Flatbread

Masa y Mas: Tortillas and More
The Dark, Crusty Loaf: Lean Breasd and Rolls
Challah and Beyond: Enriched Breads, Rolls and Buns
Filled Doughs from Around the World
Short and Sweet: Quick Breads and Holiday Breads
Waste Not: What to do with Leftover Bread

It wasn't exactly what I was expecting from the cover but it would have been if I had read the description.  The story at the beginning of how this wonderful place started was great and all the tips on bread baking from the experts who do it every day.  It is the bakery that you would totally want to stop at if near it in NY City.  I thought that it was going to be all bread recipes but there are a ton of different recipes in the book that come from every different culture.  Since I was looking for the bread recipes, those were the highlight for me.  I really have wanted to try to make challah bread at home so I am most excited by that recipe.  Sadly, most the recipes are ones that I wouldn't put in the effort to make but the pictures are amazingly mouth watering.  There is also a recipe for corn tortillas where you make the masa from corn kernels... I really want to stop and get some of those when I am in NY.  I love fresh tortillas and I hate making them.  Now that I have this book, I might try one of the fancy loaves of bread like the rustic batard or loaves!    I might try their corn bread to see if I like it better then mine.  The highlight for me for the notes about the different people involved in the process.  I hope that you check this out at your local library or bookstore to see for yourself.

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

Friday, November 13, 2015

Evergreen Springs Book Review

I picked up my reserved books that I was totally surprised that had come in and this was one of the books.  Evergreen Springs (Haven Point) by RaeAnne Thayne was the next in the Haven Point series books.  I enjoyed the series but had a tough time remembering which one that was until I started reading.  I think that I might be doing lots of different series but I figured it out pretty quickly.

Christmas is the last thing on Cole Barrett's mind this year. He's barely hanging on trying to care for his two grieving children since his ex-wife died in a tragic accident. For the reclusive Cole, this is no time for gift-giving and celebration—and certainly not for a sunny-natured optimist to blow into his screwed-up life.  Physician Devin Shaw has long researched the curative powers of Lake Haven's mineral waters. Unfortunately, the hot springs are on Barrett property, forcing Devin to strike a bargain with the ranch's attractively gruff owner: she'll give Cole's children a magical Christmas, and Cole will allow her patients access to the springs. But can she work her holiday magic to heal the Barrett family's battered hearts—and her own?

There are a ton of great characters and a wonderful small town setting that I love.  It was a great addition with Cole the cowboy adding the interesting twist to the characters that we have already come to know.  It was great to get to know this family with all of the changes that they were going through.  The kids join in the fun and excitement and you can't help pulling for these great little ones.  I loved it and couldn't put it down!!!  I wasted my Sunday morning finishing the book instead of doing all of the things that I should have been doing but I had a good morning.  I hope that you check it out at your local library or bookstore soon.  I know that you will enjoy this and all the other books in the Haven Point series.  Make sure you have the time to not put it down after you pick it up!!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Things that I Do to Save Money and Stretch those Groceries

Is there are week that is slow??  I am really looking for this week to happen cause I need a little break.  Of course, I enjoy baking and it is a stress release for me but I hate washing dishes so that always makes it harder when I don't want to clean up.  I started off the week hoping that I could make one more breakfast treat this week then I did last week (didn't get done) and I also needed to make another batch of rolls for the freezer.

Here is what I accomplished:

1. Make Baking Mix:

I used the rest of the Bisquick in the cupboard so I am going to make some more of my homemade baking mix to have on hand when I need it.  I have used two different recipes and I think that they are both good and I usually do them in two different containers but I made them in one big bowl this time.  This will also help me use up the powdered milk that I have in the cupboard.  I made both recipes and they are already mixed and ready to go!!

2. Make Popcorn:

I made a bunch of popcorn on Friday because I had filled up my son's snack and he wanted some for breakfast (after finishing his granola bar and oatmeal).  I made a batch which was good because I got to take some for lunch and my mother in law got to enjoy some too.  I love this super tasty and inexpensive snack.  I make at least 4-6 pots of popcorn a week because we love it so much!!


3. Make Rolls:

I was almost out of homemade rolls so I decided to use the milk that was past the expiration to make some rolls.  It is the perfect use of the milk that I paid good money for.  My son is not drinking as much milk as he used to and my husband and I don't drink it so I really need to get a few more recipes to use up the rest of the milk.

4. Make Lemon Blueberry Scones:

I decided that since it was raining we might have time for a special Saturday breakfast before soccer was cancelled.  I made a quick batch of Lemon Blueberry Scones which my husband really enjoyed last weekend.

5. Make Applesauce Bread:

I made a loaf of applesauce bread after the scones came out of the oven.  I used the honey butter because it has cinnamon in it and I haven't been able to use it for anything else.  I figure that it won't taste much different except add the cinnamon taste more right?  Here is hoping!!  I also used the free applesauce pouches that I got at super doubles awhile back.  I have a ton so we have applesauce bread forever!!

6. Make Baking Mixes:

I made two scone mixes and one applesauce mix.  It is super easy to fill them so that I have them to use next time especially since I have tons of all of the ingredients right now.  I might have to mix up one for the chocolate chip cookies since I make those so often but I haven't because I usually make those on a whim and use different recipes.

7. Make Ice Tea:

I love my tea and I had company so I made even more tea this week.  My husband hates me making it in this pitcher because the first glass poured always drips.  I normally do the first one over the sink and then others are poured over the counter or the floor and my husband complains that it drips.  Since I put sugar in it now, it is leaving little sticky spots.  Of well, I love my ice tea pitcher and I am not changing.

8. Make American Sandwich Bread:

I love how soft the bread last week turned out even though I was a little worried that it was under cooked in the middle, we turned out okay.  I took it out 15 minutes before the timer went off because we were headed out of the house and I feel that mine cooks and overcooks if you leave it in after the timer because it keeps it warm.  I wish there was a way to shut off the warming option because I don't need a bread crockpot and sometimes it is hard to time the cooking when you have a million things to do.

9.  Get Newspapers from local library:

I got newspapers from the local library and there were only 8 left so I ended up going to the other library after we went to the store. 

10. Got Coupons:

There were two inserts this week so I didn't get as many but there were some good ones including the Cheez-It coupon which I went and used right away!!  I got 20 sets of coupon inserts (between the two stops) which I sorted and have to cut to file.

11. Got Free Pizza Hut Pan Pizza:

My son has to read 20 minutes a day for school so he gets to track them for Book It.  When you turn in the calendar for the month, he gets a coupon for Pizza Hut Pan Pizza.  For some reason, he has decided that he doesn't like them except the ones from Target which he loves but the coupons don't work there!!  We get a pizza and ask him if he wants it but then he says no and we got to split it.

12. Went to Harris Teeter to get Saturday Freebie:

I got to get the Saturday free Oreo Thins from my card and my mom's card which are normally $3.99.  Super excited that we got those because my son has been wanting to try them so we got regular and mint.  YUM!!  Sadly, we got a lot of other groceries but at least we got $8 worth of free cookies right??  If I waited until Sunday, then I would have been able to use my last $3 off $15 coupon from Wegman's but I wouldn't have gotten cookies.  At least I got it done!!

13. Transferred Money to PayPal:

I sent $34.80 from Ibotta to PayPal and $0.75 from MobiSave which have cleared the account.  I transferred money from Saving Stay which I promptly forgot the amount but it turned out to be $26.63 and it has finally landed in the account.  The PayPal account was getting low because we used most of the money in there that I made from selling coupons to buy stuff at Home Depot that we ordered online.  This will add a little bit of "free" money to spend on Christmas and other stuff.

14. Make Dinner Rolls:

I decided that since I had all the ingredients, that I would make the rolls for Thanksgiving dinner and then my sister in law asked if I would make rolls.  Guess great minds think alike.  This was an older picture.  I actually think that I got better at shaping them so this years was a little prettier but I didn't get to take a picture.

15. Made Meals At Home:

We ate most of our meals at home this week which we made most of except that we got Chinese because my mother in law begged us to get it because her husband doesn't like it and we have the best Chinese restaurant around (expense $39 for 4 people).  She said that she would pay for it but my husband did because he hates people to come to our house and feel they need to pay for dinner...although most times that includes Chinese for visitors.  We had two dinners at my sister in laws over the weekend to visit with family.  Mostly great with a few variations to the menu plan but we didn't get too much unplanned.

16.  Made Lunches at home and to take:

There were a lot of lunches at home over the weekend which we ate leftovers and a frozen pizza (we finished them all so no more emergency pizza for backup).  All school lunches for myself, my son and my husband have been packed all week so that we didn't have any snacks or things purchased outside the house.  This doesn't seem like a stretch anymore because we have done it for so long.  I usually pack snacks to take everywhere with us.  My mother in law treated to Wendy's for her and my husband one day because he couldn't figure out any food in the fridge even though I filled the fridge and freezer with tons of food.  Although there was one day that I was leaving work and heading to the grocery store that I passed a Burger King and it sounded like a great idea but I passed it by :)

Did you do anything frugal that saved you a little money this week?