Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Horse for Kate Book Review

I decided that I was going to read this series that was new to me and there was a big bonus since they were coming out with the fourth book in the series...they sent me all four books to read.  A Horse for Kate (Horses and Friends) by Miralee Ferrell was the first book in the series.  I have gotten two books before in order to read the whole series and review the book but this was the first time that I got four of them at once!!  I was excited to check out this new kids series and see if it was something my son would like to read too.



 A horse of her own would be awesome. But Kate figures that might be a long way away, especially since she had to give up riding lessons and move to her late grandfather’s farm. Besides, it would be a lot more fun to have a best friend to ride with. When Kate discovers a barn on their new farm that’s perfect for a horse, and a dusty bridle too, she starts to think that her dream might come true. Then she meets Tori at school, who is totally the best. So when they discover a thoroughbred that appears to be all alone, could it be the answer to her prayers? Maybe. If she can convince her dad ... and figure out what’s going on with that horse.

I loved horses as a kid and the great thing about growing up in the country was that we had friends that lived farther out in the country and they had horses.  I got to spend a few years riding and cleaning the horses.  I still have the helmet that my mom bought for me to ride.  This book was about a girl who had just moved and had no friends until she met one girl, Tori, who turned out to be her best friend.  Tori found a chance to work at a horse farm and took Kate there for a surprise.  The big surprise is how these two very different friends work to support each other.  I enjoyed the book and can't wait to read the next in the series.  I am not sure that my son will be interested in this series because he has shown zero interest in horses but I will keep it on the shelf and hope to share it with him soon.  There are both boy and girl characters through the book but the main characters are both girls so this might appeal to the young girls more then the boys.  I hope that you check out this book at your local library or bookstore if you think that this series might interest you or your children.

** I  got this book with the others in the series in order to read the whole series.  I was only supposed to review the 4th book in the series but was given all of the books so I will review all of the books.  I review both books that I get at the library and through publishers on my site to share with you all of the books that I read to see if you might be interested.  I am not sure if there is a disclosure with this but I did get a copy of this book from the publisher even though my review was not required.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

January Month End Budget Update

With way too little shopping accomplished with the snow storm that shut us down and too much work, I ended up way under budget for the month.  I did get a lot during Super Doubles but I skipped a few days which I was a little disappointed in but my son and I both came down with a sickness so we were fighting it off instead of getting the great deals.  Stocked up on toilet bowl cleaner, laundry detergent, tea bags, hot dogs and cheese but not a lot of other foods.  There are rumors of more super doubles on the weekend so I will see if I end up with a last minute January purchase.

Harris Teeter $12.23
There were a lot of great meat deal with clearance stickers on a ton of meat so I filled up on tons of deals.  I spent more then I expected coming in but got tons more food then I was expecting to pick up.

Harris Teeter $20.36
I used a rain check to get the Lysol toilet bowl cleaner to save over $5.18 on the transaction and a rain check to get a free chocolate bar.  I earned $0.25 on Ibotta for the All Laundry Detergent.  I got free Listerine dental floss, Celestial Seasoning tea, Lipton family tea bags, Lipton regular bags and Old El Paso Taco Shells.  The rest were still great deals!!
Harris Teeter $4.59
I grabbed some more free Celestial Seasoning tea, Lipton tea and Colgate.  I paid only $0.04 for the Barilla pasta sauce which I put in to get a rebate on Ibotta for $0.25 so it was a money maker.  I bought the pie crusts because they were $0.69 for all 4 pie crusts so I thought it might even be cheaper then making them so they are going in the freezer (unless I decide to make a pie).  I got the orange juice to fit off the sickness and splurged at $1 and put in a rebate for $0.25 in Ibotta.
Aldi $6.72
I didn't get to stop at Aldi as I planned for my husband stopped on the way home from work to pick these things up because we needed lettuce and milk.  We needed the confectioners sugar for the frosting and the light brown sugar for cookies.  YUM!
Harris Teeter $19.64
I got in one more trip to get some deals.  I picked up some free Celestial Seasonings tea, Lipton tea bags, Colgate toothpaste, and Grands Biscuits.  I paid $0.04 for the Barilla sauce even though I couldn't turn in the rebate again because it was too soon.  I used a rain check to get the Lysol toilet bowl cleaner and saved $5.18 additional.  I was happy to put two more Jet Dry in my cart at $2.61 because my dishwasher works much better with it and they are shelf price of $5.39 which is CRAZY!!  I grabbed two more All Free and Clear Detergent for $0.99 each (instead of shelf price $5.49).
I paid $1.00 for the Panko bread crumbs and used them for dinner shortly after which is why I splurged because I like to mix them with homemade bread crumbs to stretch them.  I got 6 packages for cheese for $1.50 each but didn't get the catalina for money off the next transaction and totally forgot to check with customer service because the lines were so long!! UGH!!!
CVS -$1.20
I went to CVS to get some hair color for my mother per her request.  I decided to do the deal on the Coke products.  I got 6 cases and used 5 coupons to get free Coke.  I paid $3.80 for the Coke and got $5 ECBs back.  I bought my mom's hair coloring and used a coupon and my ECBs to pay less.  She paid me back for what I spent and the $5 so I subtracted the $5 from this transaction so that I had much less out of pocket thanks to Coke Rewards, Nathalie for giving me the heads up on the coupons and my mom for paying me back for the other transaction!
Aldi $0
My mom picked up some stuff for me at Aldi which I took a picture of on the belt because she is super weird about me taking pictures of all of my groceries.  I grabbed four bottles of $0.99 Molasses (Thanks Nathalie!!! I was going through the store hugging it!! ).  We also got milk, vegetable shortening, margarine, apricot preserves, chicken fries, ice cream bars, caramel bits, oyster crackers, fruit snacks, bananas, and celery.  She also bought me some dish detergent at Target because I didn't know we were going to Aldi but I was totally out of it from all the dishes that we ran.  The total was $26.06 on the items from Aldi.

Aldi $16.54

During the snow days, we finally got out of the house so I took that chance to grab some stuff at Aldi.  We were totally out of popcorn chicken (my husband's favorite to have his buffalo chicken).  My son wanted to use the heavy whipping cream to make ice cream in some ice cream maker so I bought it.  We only had a few potatoes left so I grabbed another 10 lb bag because it was $2.99 this week instead of $3.99 like it has been.  We were low on oil and I know that my son has been enjoying his popcorn and the good news is that it was $1.99 and it has been higher recently.  I grabbed an emergency pepperoni because I wasn't sure how low we were.  I knew that we were almost out of lunch meat and my husband was going to eventually go back to work and we only had a few days of lunch meat left.  I knew that I could get them because I added up the budget and we were way under :)  which was the bonus of getting this post done early with all the snow!!!

Total Retail $373.20
Total Savings $294.32
Total OOP $78.88
       **These totals don't include the value of things that my mom bought for me but only things that I purchased but I wanted to make sure that I shared the picture of the things that I got.  I gave her the 12 boxes of Celestial Seasonings Tea (retail value $35.88) and the bunch of hair color coupons and all their meals while they were here in exchange for the groceries :)
 

Rebates Earned:

Saving Star $4.50
$1/2 Pillsbury, $1/4 Progresso Soup, $0.75 Yoplait Yogurt, $0.75 Old El Paso Shells, $1.00 Rice Krispies- must have been to the person I loaned my card to so nice bonus!!
Checkout 51 $2.00
I put in a rebate for $2.00 off some beer that my dad bought while he was here through Checkout 51 and got that without any money out of pocket.
Ibotta $0.75
I got $0.25 for pasta sauce, orange juice and laundry detergent for $0.75.  I put in a rebate for Ibotta but they said that they couldn't read it so I had to try again because there is no way to fix it.  I contacted customer service and they never responded so I decided to try again for the $2.00 on my dad's receipt which luckily he left here but the deadline passed on the rebate to submit for the receipt so I might have lost the money anyway :(
MobiSave $1.10
I got $0.30 for some bananas that my mom bought and $0.30 for lettuce and $0.50 for milk which are all purchases from Aldi!!  Love that I found some place that does rebate for the already low prices
Total Rebates $8.35

**ADDITION UPDATE **

After making this post, I decided that I would go get the sales at Harris Teeter and use lots of rain checks which was still in January because we got a little extra day.  I used a rain check for the Cheez-Its for 2/$5 (shelf price $4.99), Quaker Chewy Bars 2/$4 (shelf price $2.59), Honey Nut Cheerios $1.97 (shelf price $3.49), and Finish Detergent B1G1 (shelf price $4.39).  The rain checks saved me the following $14.94 + 3.54 + 3.04 + 8.78= $30.30.  I also used coupons to save me a little more on each item!!  The Cheez-Its were $2 each after rain check and coupon.  The Quaker Granola Bars were $1.50 each after rain check and coupon.  The Honey Nut Cheerios were $0.99 each which is way above my normal spending price but my husband said that he needed cereal.  The Finish was $1.10 each after rain check and coupon.
I got a few deals that weren't all rain checks.  The main reason that I went it is to get the chickens for $0.89 per pound which made the chickens about $5 each so I bought 4 of them.  I got the Windex with vinegar for $2, Franks Wing sauce for $0.74, Olive Oil for $6.39, Smart Balance Butter $1.29 and Gerber food for $1 each.  I went crazy and got the Rubbermaid water bottle because my husband lost his at Target last week and they were on sale for 30% off and there was a coupon so I got it for $5.29 instead of $9.
Oops!!!  I left these in the back seat because I didn't want them in the trunk to break.  They were on sale for $2.77 less the coupon so they were $1.77 for 18 count eggs.
Total Retail $541.76
Total Savings $387.24
Total OOP $154.52

Kind of amazed with that huge trip to the store and I stayed under the monthly budget!!  I am excited and I think that I got most of the things that were on my list for February so I am going to have to see what I need to get for the coming month!

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Mistletoe Inn Book Review

I was going through the new books and got on the list to get The Mistletoe Inn: A Novel (The Mistletoe Collection) by Richard Paul Evans.  It seemed like a good book to read for Christmas but I didn't get to it before Christmas and then I am not sure why so many things came up but I barely got it read before it was due back at the library.



At thirty-two Kimberly Rossi, a finance officer at a Lexus car dealership, has had her heart broken more times than she wants to remember. With two failed engagements, a divorce and again alone with no prospects, she hardly seems the type to dream of being a published romance author. Dreading another holiday alone, she signs up for The Mistletoe Retreat, a nine-day writing retreat in Burlington, VT. Deep inside Kimberly knows she’s at a junction in her life and it’s time to either fulfill her dream or let it go. The other reason she decides to attend the conference is because famed romance writer, H.T. Cowell, once the best selling romance writer in America, and the author whose books instilled in her the desire to be a writer, will be speaking in public for the first time in more than a decade.
 
After Christmas was over, this book kept moving to the bottom of the reading pile.  Then I had an influx of review books that I had to get read by a certain date so it got pushed even farther down.  The good news is that I realized that it was due back to the library and I wouldn't be able to renew because there was such a long wait list.  I started reading it that night and finished the next morning.  I love snow days when I can fit in a little more reading.  I loved this book!!  Kimberly Rossi is working at car dealership while dreaming of being an author so her father buys her a dream vacation to the Mistletoe Inn writers conference.  She quickly turns her life around in the span of the week conference even with the disappointment of the rejection from editors, a man she meets and a cancer diagnosis for her father.  She starts to change her life by changing the decisions she makes like moving home.  You won't believe all of the things going on in this book unless you pick it up for yourself.  Although there is one part that is pretty obvious about Zeke but I love how this book turns out and it was like watching a good movie unfold!!  Hope it gets made into a movie because I would totally watch it.  I hope that you check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thrifty Thursday: Snow Days!!

I don't know about you but when it starts to snow, I start to want to hibernate.  For me that starts with cooking and baking everything.  We had school cancelled on Thursday, Friday and everything else was closed by the weekend with the snow storm coming and promising up to 2 feet of snow.  I am originally from New York and the amount of snow that we get in Virginia is so much less but the nice thing is when it comes, it is a like a vacation from everything.  You don't have to leave the house at all- no work, no school and no stores.  The place shuts down but I go into winter prep mode!!

First step of winter prep mode was to clear out one side of the garage to fit the new car.  Super excited that we got it done before the big snow storm hit!!  We still have a lot to go through in those piles on the side but hopefully we will do the metal recycling and sell some stuff and make a little more room but I was excited.  We filled up the trash can twice and the recycling bin twice...plus we might have filled the back of my husband's truck with more recycling.



I started by making a double batch of chocolate chip cookies.  I used the chocolate chips and M&Ms that were leftover from my son's birthday party so that I didn't have to waste them.  I was going to make some earlier but I was out of eggs from making all my son's birthday cupcakes.



I decided on leftovers because I hate when the power goes out and you have to throw things away.  I We ate leftovers for lunch and dinner on Thursday.  Luckily, we had leftover lasagna so I was super happy to eat leftovers.  YUM!!



I made a huge batch of chicken broth with the bones, pan drippings and leftover veggies from the freezer which took awhile on the stove to come together and the house smelled yummy after it was all done.



I made a batch of Greek Yogurt Scones with the last yogurt that I had left which was cinnamon pear.  I used the caramel bits that my mom bought me and eggs that my sister in law brought over because I was silly and didn't get any when I was at Aldi's so she kindly brought some when she was coming for dinner.  They weren't as good as the pumpkin yogurt ones but we enjoyed them.



My husband said that he wanted to take care of some of the broth for me so he would totally take some turkey and rice soup.  I made up a fresh pot of saffron rice and when it was coming to the end, I added chopped up carrots (leftover from the $0.49 bag I got at Aldi), chopped up celery (recent Aldi purchase), and frozen turkey from the carcass that my sister in law gave me from Christmas.  I picked all the turkey off before making the broth from that too.  I added the chicken broth to the soup and my husband had a yummy, homemade lunch very quickly.  There wasn't enough time to take a picture but this was the leftovers without broth.  I try to make it so that he can add more broth with the leftovers or he dislikes the soft carrots and celery.



I made red chili sauce and enchilada sauce to compare the two different sauces.  I found the red chili sauce on the internet here but mine was a little more brown then red because of the chili powder (my post coming soon).  I made a batch of my enchilada sauce except I only had crushed tomatoes and not tomato paste so I made it with 1 cup of chicken broth instead of the water the recipe called for.  The recipe is found here.



I also made monkey bread for breakfast which used the free rolls that I got at Harris Teeter.  My son really liked it before so I thought it would be a nice treat after they were done in the snow but my son decided that he didn't want any so my husband and I split the whole pan.  It was super yummy.





I took some frozen taco meat and made some enchiladas with my two sauces and I added some cheese that I shredded and a pot of spicy saffron rice that I made fresh.  I always like to make the enchiladas a little thicker with some rice.  I usually use leftovers but we haven't had any in awhile so I figured that I would make it fresh and we would have a yummy dinner that wasn't on the menu but after smelling all the sauces all day, my husband declared would be really good.  If we like one of the sauces, I may make a ton and freeze it so that we have some for next time.



I had a little bit of milk that was past the date which creeps my husband out but it wasn't turned.  I used to make mac and cheese and there was still a lot left so I decided that I should make another batch of rolls.  Since I bought so many hot dogs, I was set to try to make these rolls hot dog shaped but I am not usually super successful because they start off hot dog size and raise to a sub roll size.  I told my husband that he could just put two in the same bun to save on bread but he doesn't buy that.  I will continue to try!!


I used the extra bread that I had to make croutons.  I made some earlier in the break and took no pictures but I got lots of pictures this time and recipe is coming soon.


I also made lots of popcorn for my son because he loves popcorn!!



I have had a ton of other things that I have wanted to make but we have tried to get a few school things done like our reading and math so there have been a few interruptions in me baking until I drop.  I have a cooking and baking problem when I get stuck in the house.  I think that we would be huge if we got too many snow storms!!!  We are ready for hibernating with four days off of school and the weekend in the middle!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Your New Money Mindset Book Review

I saw the title of the book and didn't need to read anything else because I was sure that this was going to be the book for me.  I read the first three chapters and I really wasn't feeling it but I always hope that the book is going to get better so I read on.  It asked you to go online and take a test to see what your money mindset was here.  I did the test and printed the results and went on to start chapter 4.



Your New Money Mindset is a new way of thinking about the role money plays in our lives. Many of us live with ongoing, and often unexamined, tension related to money. Few of us have really escaped the credit-card trap or freed ourselves from worries about having enough for the future. Co-authors Brad Hewitt, CEO of Thrivent Financial, and James Moline, licensed psychologist, believe we haven’t spent enough time examining our fundamental attitudes toward money and aligning those attitudes to our core values. Before you can remake your money habits, you need to start with your heart. In Your New Money Mindset, Brad and Jim guide you through the Money Mindset Assessment, which will help pinpoint what attitudes about money you could work on in order to develop an openhearted attitude to life. The goal is to cultivate a surplus mindset that allows you to enjoy what you already have and be generous toward others. Discover today how to free yourself from the money trap and create a healthy relationship with money.

I am always looking for a good book about being frugal and setting my priorities to inspire me to keep going on my quest to save money.  I am not one of the people they reference who would ever spend $5 on Starbucks but if you were one of those people, this book would quickly offend you.  What interested me is that this was written by someone who gave out financial advice and a psychologist.  Sadly, I don't think that this book had a good description online because it was much more of a Christian inspirational book then one about money and financial planning.  If you want to learn about how to manage money and get a new mindset to move forward, I don't think that this is necessarily the book for you.  If you want to find out how Christians are going on mission trips, founding new churches and praying that they will have enough money to make ends meet, then it would be the right book for you. 

Unwilling to give up on any book even if it isn't the right fit for me, I pressed on to see if there was one little lesson that could be learned.  I just couldn't find a lot that worked for me so I was a little sad to have wasted my time looking for the answer in a book that obviously wasn't a fit for you.  If you still aren't sure, take the online quiz at the link above and see what you learn about yourself.  The best thing that I can say is that it is an easy read and the pages go by quickly.  I hope that you find that this is something that might be of interest to you.  Check it out and let me know!!

**I got a copy of the book for my review.  All opinion here are honest and my own.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hannah's Choice Book Review

I started reading Hannah's Choice: A Novel (Journey to Pleasant Prairie) by Jan Drexler and I was pulled in immediately.  I couldn't wait to find out what happened next in this historical fiction book about an Amish family fighting to keep their family together and in the faith.  The book is set in 1842 and other then dying from diseases that aren't a death sentence anymore, this book held true to everything in modern times.


Hannah Yoder loves her quiet life on the banks of the Conestoga Creek. In 1842, this corner of Lancaster County is settled and peaceful--yet problems lurk beneath the placid fa├žade. Hannah's father worries about the spread of liberal ideas from their Mennonite and Brethren neighbors. And Hannah blames herself for a tragedy that struck their home nine years ago. She strives to be the one person who can bind the threads of her family together in spite of her mother's ongoing depression and her sister's rejection of their family. But her world is threatening to unravel.  When two young men seek her hand in marriage--one offering the home she craves and the other promising the adventure of following God's call west--Hannah must make a choice. Faithfully perform her duties to her family? Or defy her father and abandon her community?

I loved this book and had trouble putting it down.  I finished it far more quickly then I would have liked and can't wait for the next installment coming Fall 2016 (first chapter in the back of this book for a teaser).  The great thing is that I have never read this author before but I was instantly drawn into her writing and couldn't wait to learn more about the characters.  I felt that the characters really came alive in the struggles that they were going through.  Hannah was deciding between two lives and the men that went with them.  There were many hard ideas to overcome and mesh with her Amish faith but she pulled through with thoughtful decisions where all of her options were weighed.  Her mother goes through the process of letting go of the children that died so that she could take care of the ones that are still alive which moved her forward and to a better place.  All of the family grows as they get ready to move West and overcome more obstacles on their trip.  I hope that you pick up this book and see how all of the characters grow and how it can teach us to do better in our lives.  I know that you will enjoy this one as much as I did!!

**I was given a copy of this book for my review.  All opinions here are my own.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 1/25






Monday- Popcorn Chicken, Chicken fries and homemade fries
Tuesday- Panera/Mikes American Grill
Wednesday- Soup and Grilled Cheese or Pasta with garlic bread
Thursday- Barber Chicken with white rice
Friday- Tacos with saffron rice
Saturday- Stir Fry Noodles with chicken
Sunday- Breakfast or Leftovers

Keeping the end of the month flexible for changes but I think that we will have used up most of the stuff in the freezer (at least from the plan at the beginning of the month).  I didn't do a lot of shopping this month so there wasn't a lot to add to the stockpile but I am going to add some things next month.

We are going to have a little bit of a weird week because they already declared that we don't have school on Monday and Tuesday (we only went one day last week).  The good news is that we have been home and that gives me lots of chances to make yummy homemade food through the day for dinner but we are running low on what we have to make things from.  The menu might change a little so that we can make some of the stuff we don't have a lot of time to make normally....or I might try a new recipe!!  I hope that you have a great week and enjoyed a wonderful month!  Here is hoping that you made progress on cleaning out your freezer too!!

**On Tuesday we went out on the town to take my car to the shop to get a sealant on the inside and outside so we stopped at Panera with gift card for lunch (unplanned) and then went to pick up my car and stopped at Mike American (local restaurant) with gift card.  After being stuck in the house for days, it was nice to get out and we spent $4 out of pocket.  Love those days!!!!!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Mermaid Moon Book Review

I was looking for a new book to read when I found Mermaid Moon (A Sunset Cove Novel) by Colleen Coble.  I am not normally a mystery reader but there are some that interest me as long as they aren't really scary.  I decided to take a chance and I am glad that I did!!



Mallory’s mother died fifteen years ago. But her father’s last words on the phone were unmistakable: “Find . . . mother.”  Shame and confusion have kept Mallory Davis from her home for the last fifteen years, but when her dad mysteriously dies on his mail boat route, she doesn’t have any choice but to go back to Mermaid Point.  Mallory believes her father was murdered and childhood sweetheart Kevin O’Connor, game warden in Downeast Maine, confirms her suspicions. But Kevin is wary of helping Mallory in her search. She broke his heart and left—without a word—years ago.

When Mallory begins receiving threats on her own life—and her beloved teenage daughter, Haylie—their search intensifies. There’s a tangled web within the supposed murder, and it involves much more than what meets the eye.  As answers begin to fall into place, Mallory realizes her search is about more than finding her father’s killer—it is also about finding herself again . . . and possibly about healing what was broken so long ago with Kevin. She just has to stay alive long enough to put all the pieces together.

I enjoyed this book and the interesting plot twists.  I wasn't sure what to expect but there was stuff going on  at Mallory's home and Mallory's childhood home which was all intertwined.  The different scenery kept me wondering where they were going to be next.  I most liked the interesting scenery with the romance twist.  When Mallory goes home and immediately goes back to the childhood friendship with Kevin, it brings up the past relationship that ended badly when she lost her mother, their baby and broke their engagement.  There were tons of surprises while looking for her birth father and mother after the hint from her father's dying words.  You have to pick up the book to find out what she discovered and what problems that brought with it.  I hope that you check out this book for yourself.  It was my first book by Colleen Coble and I look forward to reading more by her.  I hope that you pick it up at your local library or bookstore soon.


** I was given a copy of this book for my review from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Where She Belongs Book Review

I picked this book because I liked the cover even though I had never read anything by the author before.  Where She Belongs: A Novel (Misty Willow) by Johnnie Alexander seemed like an interesting story about moving on with your life by going back to your childhood home.  I couldn't wait to see how she was going to accomplish all her goals and check out this new author (to me).



Shelby Kincaid is ready to move on from her grief. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family's ancestral homestead so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she'll have her work cut out for her.  AJ Sullivan never wanted the homestead. Inherited as a punishment from his grandfather, it has sat empty for fifteen years and fallen into ruin. He's glad to finally unload it. But a clean break isn't possible when he can't get the young widow Shelby off his mind.

I wasn't sure what to expect in this book because the summary doesn't give you a lot of information but I loved it.  I picked up the book in the morning and read it all day finishing it before bedtime and wishing that there was more.  The book really had you pulling for the characters and wanting things to work out even though there were a lot of twists and turns.  Shelby is working hard to fit into the small town that she remembers as a child with her grandparents.  She is making a home for her two children and trying to make the memories that she had as a child for them.  It is all helping her get over the death of her husband and move on with the new life she is trying to make.  She falls for AJ and Brett who she insists that she is not dating but rather making friendships and life gets a little turned around when she finds out the truth.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens but I promise you won't be disappointed.  I hope that you check out this great book at your local library or bookstore.  I know that you will enjoy it as much as I did.  I can't wait to read the rest of the books in this series so I will be keeping my eyes out (the back of the book says Fall 2016).  Hope you enjoy!!

**I was given a copy of the book for my review.  All opinion here are my own.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Kids Wednesday: Our Lego Birthday Party

As you all know by now, I try to figure out how I can do anything the cheapest.  Birthdays are no exception.  Although I know that kids need to have a great time and make great memories, I know that it doesn't take a lot of money to do that.  Many people in our area (and probably across the country) spend way too much money on kids birthday at least in my opinion.



My son declared last year that he wanted a Lego Birthday party so I started keeping my eyes out for things that I might want to use.  I grabbed some Lego City Birthday Cake Decorations (for $1) at a consignment sale.  I wasn't sure what I was doing but seemed like a good investment.  We also save the candles from the parties from the previous years because they never burn very far.  I wash them and keep them in a bag.  It was a little challenging to find them in the new house but I did it at the last minute so that we didn't have to buy new ones.




Sadly, I was still slightly unprepared when it came down the time for the party because I was just getting over Christmas.  I had a pile of notebooks that I picked up at CVS with the after summer sale for $0.25 each (so that was about $4 spent).


I decided that I was going to decorate the front of the notebook with some Lego brick print in different colors.  I wasn't sure exactly how to do it so I asked one of the teachers at work.  With her great advice, I came home and did them.  It got easier as I went on but I think that they turned out pretty cute.


I made an activity book for the good bag with stuff from lots of sources.  I included coloring, mazes, word searches, and more for the kids to take home with them.  They are all about Legos in one way or another. Some of the sheets came from here and I printed some pages from the Lego Movie coloring sheets and Lego City to make it super complete.


I also made yellow Lego man and green Lego Bricks out of chocolate in these neat molds that I bought from Amazon.  My son wasn't big on the plain vanilla flavor so I added peppermint to the green and they were way tastier!!  I enjoyed the look of the Lego man but was a little disappointed in the brick because they were much larger then the normal Legos.  Jollylife Building Bricks and Minifigure Ice Cube Tray or Candy Mold --For Lego Lovers are the ones that I got (around $6).  I bought the chocolate on clearance at Target at the after Christmas sale last year but I don't remember how much they were but they were at least 50-75% off (around $4).


I was making the goodies to go on the top of the cupcakes but my son decided that I needed to be in the goody bags to take home.  I made the ones for the decorations for the cupcakes and started on the good bags. 


I decided on two Lego men and two full bricks even though I cut the bricks in half because they were so big for cupcakes.  I guess I made more then I thought but I used all of the chocolate that I bought so at least nothing will go to waste.  I used bags that I bought ages ago and never used and blue curling ribbon to go with the colors. 



I made the goody bags from white lunch bags with a thank you Lego man on one side a face on the other side with the kids names written in red marker.  The faces can found here and the Thank You Lego Man here.  We also put a little bag of M&Ms in there because they are my son's favorite candy and we had them at the party to decorate the cupcakes (as well as we got some from my sister in law from the candy she didn't give out at Halloween).



I made a banner with letters that I printed.  I cut the paper to look like bricks.  I decided that I had to link them together with some white yarn that I had and a hole punch.  Super fun and colorful and free with things that I already had at home.  I don't like to pay for things that end up going to waste after the party is over but well worth the time to make this cute banner.  I also have a red table cloth that I have had for a little bit so I used to cover a table for snacks.  Super colorful and with the colors of the party theme.



For fun and games, we printed out a Lego man to pin the hat in the Lego man (found here).  I was going to come up with something where you had to pin the head on the Lego man but the hat seemed so much easier.  My husband printed it and we just needed to put the kids names on the hats so that they could do that as they were coming into the party.


My husband decided that after he blew up the picture that there were a few things that needed to be photoshopped so we had an extra poster.  Since I hate to let anything go to waste, I cut up the paper from the notebooks that was leftover and put it around the extra poster to make this neat decoration for the room.  I think that it turned out super cute and will make a great addition to the sort of boring room that we are having the party in.


We borrowed Lego Bingo Cards (found here) from another mom who had a party and was done with them.  We just had to clean off all of the markers that the kids used.  They were a blast and super easy to use and pass on to the next friend having a Lego Party or to be used as a family Bingo night down the road.  The kids were cheering that they had three or two left so we knew that they were into it and we did two rounds.


We had a mason jar filled with 176 legos.  The kids were supposed to guess the number of Legos in the jar and I was super surprised on how many fit in the jar so I was hoping the kids wouldn't be able to guess either.  They wrote their name and their guess on the paper.  There were a few that were hard to read because they wrote 1002 which was 100 and 2.... most commonly known as 102.  The kids are still a little young for some of the big numbers so it was so funny.  We had one guess that was only 13 away for he won a prize.



We also decorated a Lego Man for which I had three or four different options depending on what the kids wanted.  I pulled out the markers, crayons, stickers, glitter glue, jewels, pipe cleaners, pom poms and more.  I figured that the more creative the better although I was a little worried about drying time.  I am sure that the parents would be carrying them home with lots of not dry items and careful balance.



I bought juice boxes (after sale and coupon the two boxes were $2.50) and I bought green plates another after Christmas purchase a few years ago (about $2).  I used blue and red paper napkins we had leftover from other parties so that I didn't have to get any new ones.  I made cupcakes with things that I already had around the house so I never know how to count how much those cost but they were pretty inexpensive and the kids spent time decorating them as one of the fun activities.




In addition, we had the birthday party at Home Depot.  My son really enjoys the crafts that they do there once a month.  They offer a birthday party free of charge as a public service and they do a craft with the kid.  When my son heard that was an option, he was all in.  When I realized that I didn't have to have all the kids in a house that wasn't done under construction and boxes not unpacked.  I was sold too!!  It took a little more pre-planning to make sure that we had everything but check with your local Home Depot to see what they offer because it is a great party on a limited budget!! We threw our stuff back into the boxes that I brought and we were done with clean up.  Awesome!!

We had a great time at the party with lots of memories and very little money.  I kept adding more and more things to my to do list but I was pretty happy with the work that I put in to pull off a fun party on a very small budget.