Thursday, March 31, 2016

Thrifty Thursday: What Have I Been Doing To Save Money??

I feel like I haven't had one of these in awhile and because my son has been sick and we have been stuck at home, I figured that I would write a little post on what I have used up and done frugally recently.  Of course because I haven't planned on doing this so I don't have pictures of anything but I am going to try my best.

I went through the spice cupboard and realized that I wasn't using a lot of spices that I had because I was "saving" them.  I am not really sure what I do that but I tend to save things that don't need to be saved.  My cousin gave me this really nice spice set which I know cost lots of money so I didn't want to waste it.... the only way to waste spices is to not use them!! I used up Forward!, Cinnamon Sugar, Sandwich Sprinkle, Pasta Sprinkle and Brady Street and I am working on the others.  I have enjoyed using them and can't wait to find lots of uses for the Chip and Dip (thinking roasted chicken), Taco Seasoning (thinking oyster crackers), and Chili Powder.

I have been looking for different things through the cupboard and we have this ugly green bin that my husband brought with him from his parents house because that is what he always used.  Although it is a horrible color, it is the most functional thing to keep all of the packets of powders. Do you have anything like this in your cabinets?

I found two packages of Hidden Valley Ranch Dip which I used to make seasoned oyster crackers.  I mixed it with a little of the white cheddar popcorn seasoning which made them a little too tasty.  My husband ended up eating them very quickly!!  I told him to take it easy on the second batch because we didn't have anymore of those seasonings so the next batch it totally going to be nacho cheese with taco seasoning because we have a bunch!!

I found two packets of green onion dip in their from either his mom or sister who brought them for a holiday.  I decided to use them to mix with the butter and olive oil to roast a chicken.  It was very tasty!!  There were two of them and we enjoyed them and saved on using other spices.  After finishing those spices, I found a few other spice mixes that we could use for chickens including the Penzy ones which I have also finished.  I am going use up a few other chicken spices in the cupboard the next few times and hope to make progress in using up all the free spices already available to us.

I also started making my own salad dressing again.  I have the orange vinegar and apricot jelly which made it easy to make except I was making it without measuring (which my husband hates) so I did it to taste.  After eating my first salad and wondering why it was still a little off, I figured out that I didn't put any oil in.  HAHA!!  Well, I made a really healthy dressing with little to no fat.

I have been making lots of baked goods including my husband switches to rolls instead of bread which is nice because they stay fresh longer but strange to not always have bread on hand.  The great news is that we have tons of cubes in the freezer and we are no longer wasting that much because the rolls can also be frozen and easily thawed to make lunches or dinners.  It also gives me something to do with the milk that is past the date which I have that problem frequently.

I have continued to make brown sugar.  It is awesome that I can make it at home whenever I want to because I have the molasses in the cupboard and I am still working on the first container so hoping that it lasts until Aldi starts carrying it again.  Because I just got a lot of sugar, it allowed me to make a big batch of brown sugar.

As always, we have popcorn on hand for snacks all the time.  My son loves popcorn and it is a super healthy and frugal snack.  My husband brought up a new bag of popcorn from the freezer and he commented on how many bags were in there and I told him that I had to stock up because the popcorn is seasonal at Aldi.  The word that I never want to hear like the molasses and the cloves!!  I realize that they can't carry everything all the time but popcorn is not seasonal!!!  We eat it all year round.  How about your family??

I hope that you have had a tasty few weeks with lots of frugal treats.  The main one is that I have been making cinnamon rolls every week for the last few weeks so that we can reheat them and have them for breakfast any day that we want them.  They are starting to have the thrill wear off and I haven't been making frosting so they are a little more boring but I have some cream cheese and powdered sugar that are going to be used soon to make some more frosting for the next few batches.

I used cranberries and orange juice from the freezer to make cranberry sauce which I think turned out pretty well.  I didn't know how easy that was going to be but it was another totally unexpected short cut that I thought would be way more complicated.  Making things at home instead of buying them is lots easier on all fronts and I am glad that I keep testing more recipes for myself.

I made some more chicken broth from the frozen leftover veggie pieces and chicken bones that I had in the freezer.  I am actually running out of leftover veggies because of the amount that I use for making broth.  We are down to the last few whole chickens so I am hoping to have a little time to catch up with making broth in the coming month with new veggies.

Using all the things around the house has made it easier to stretch the budget but it has also made my shopping adventures a little bit more flexible which always gets me to trouble picking up a few extra special treats to add to the cart.  Not necessarily the outcome that we are looking for but hoping that it still works out to lots of savings!!

How have you done recently with using things around the house to save a little money??  Give me some ideas to integrate into my routine this year because I try to add a new thing every year and the only two left on my list is pressure canning and making pasta which I am not sure if I am going to be tackle them with my schedule this year and lack of free time adjusting to working this year.  Can't wait to get your help!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Red Door Inn Book Review

I didn't even remember wanting to read this book when it showed up in my mailbox.  Doesn't the cover look interesting?  I thought maybe that was the reason I chose The Red Door Inn: A Novel (Prince Edward Island Dreams) by Liz Johnson. Of course, briefly looking at the description, I was instantly taken with the book.

Marie Carrington is running from a host of bad memories. Broke and desperate, she's hoping to find safety and sanctuary on Prince Edward Island, where she reluctantly agrees to help decorate a renovated bed-and-breakfast before it opens for prime tourist season.  Seth Sloane didn't move three thousand miles to work on his uncle's B&B so he could babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her. He came to help restore the old Victorian--and to forget about the fiancée who broke his heart.  The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just three months will take everything they've got. Can these two wounded souls find hope, healing, and perhaps a bit of romance on this beautiful island?

Step into the Red Door Inn, a lovely home away from home tucked along the north shore of fabled Prince Edward Island. It's a place where the wounded come to heal, the broken find forgiveness, and the lonely find a family. Won't you stay for the season?

I couldn't put this book down and read it very quickly.  The writing and the characters draw you in immediately and make you feel like you are part of their world.  Although I have never been to this quaint Canandian town, I feel like I have after reading this book.  Marie is trying to get over hurt in the past and Jack finds her on his way back to the island.  Realizing that she has no where else to go, Jack takes her home to help decorate the new B&B that he just purchased so that it can have a women's touch.  With that start, I know that if you pick it up, you won't put it down.  I can't wait for the next in the series!!  I hope that you check out this wonderful book and enjoy all the magic of Prince Edward Island as much as I did.

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode Book Review

I was looking through some books that I wanted to read that were at the library when I came upon a second book by Crystal Paine from  Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life by Crystal Paine was at the branch of the library that I was going to the next day so I picked it up while I was there.  It sat on my shelf because I had so many other books to read but then I decided that I was jumping it up in the process because I wasn't enjoying the book that I was reading.  Super glad that I did!!

Calling the super busy, the stressed out, the overtired.  You know you're made for a more fulfilling life. With this book, you’ll know where to start.  You wake up tired. Your to-do list is too long. The commitments―and the laundry―are piling up, but your energy keeps dwindling. You feel like you're simply making it through the days, not living or enjoying any part of them.

In Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, you'll find both practical ideas and big-picture perspective that will inspire you to live life on purpose. As a wife, mother of three, and founder of the wildly successful blog, Crystal Paine has walked the road from barely surviving to living with intention. With the warmth and candor of a dear friend, she shares what she's learned along the way, helping you:
  • feel healthier and more energetic by setting priorities and boundaries
  • eliminate stress with savvy management of your time, money, and home
  • get more done by setting realistic goals and embracing discipline
  • rediscover your passions―and the confidence to pursue them
Packed with straightforward solutions you'll use today and inspirational stories you'll remember for years, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode is a must for any woman who's ever longed for the freedom to enjoy life, not just survive it.

I really enjoyed this book and started to list the items that I did in the day as suggested in the book.  It is interesting to sit back and see what "extra time" you have after sleep and work.  It turns out that I should have 3 hours of time that I could actually get things done but where does that time go.  It is also interesting to set out your priorities and see how much time is spent working towards those goals.  There is a part about getting your finances in order and setting goals but that is something that we have done for years so there isn't a lot new in that section that I can apply although we are still trying to figure out the new normal at the new house with the new bills.  There are many other chapters including making sure you recharge to be the best you and give the best to your family.  I love a good nap which always have me feeling a lot better.  Although there are a bunch of other things that would recharge me (like a massage), they are outside of the budget.  I also enjoy quiet time at home when there is no one else here which is funny because it is total switch now that I have a husband and son because it never would have been my definition of a good time.  This is a great book for mom's who is trying to make sure that they lead the best life for their family.  I highly recommend it and hope that you check it out if you are trying to make a less stressful schedule for you and your family.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have!!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 3/28

Monday- SW Spiedies Tacos with yellow rice
Tuesday- French Dip Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Wednesday- Pasta with garlic bread
Thursday- Popcorn Chicken, Chicken Fries with homemade fries
Friday- Mexican Tacos and saffron rice
Saturday- Leftovers and Breakfast
Sunday-Whole Chicken with potatoes or other sides

The end of the month again!!  How did we get here because it took me so long to plan the month and it is already over!!  UGH!!  Here I am trying to plan for April and getting things done all over again. Do you ever have that feeling that we are doing the same thing day after day.  This was my month to feel like that between the busy-ness and the sicknesses in our house, I had trouble making it through the week and getting ahead but here is hoping for April.  Hope you have a great week!!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Rise of the Fallen Book Review

I read the first book in the series and got an opportunity to read another book in the series.  I figured that was the second book so I jumped at the chance but I found out that it was the third.  WHAT?!  How did I miss the second one?  I put in a quick reserve at the library to get  Rise of the Fallen: Wars of the Realm, Book 2 by Chuck Black so that I could read it before the second one. 

A six thousand year war rages and now the demonic Fallen are coming for him—the one man shrouded in mystery. Only Validus stands in their way.Validus is the last and least of God’s angels, but he’s seen much across the millennia since his creation. Empires have risen and fallen as angelic and demonic forces battle in a raging war that will determine humanity's fate – and the fate of his defeated brothers.

Eventually called to be an earth-bound warrior, Validus rises to a position of power and respect, commanding legions of angels through impossible battles and overwhelming odds. But when orders arrive from the Creator's most elite Messenger, he finds himself suddenly demoted to a task of apparent insignificance considering the fierce war they are waging against the demonic Fallen – the covert protection of one unbelieving man.  Validus soon finds himself on a mission that will push him beyond his abilities as he battles to protect Drew Carter, for the Fallen are coming for him. Legions of them.  As Validus races against time to discover why Drew is so important to humanity's survival, can he stand between Drew and all who would destroy him?

After starting the book, I realized that I totally didn't remember the first book at all.  I remember after reading a little more that it took awhile for me to get into the first book when I started to read.  I just didn't like this book at all.  I only got through page 62 and just couldn't go any farther which hardly ever happens to me.  I don't think that I can write a really good review because I didn't read it all but wanted to let you know that I tried and failed.  There was a lot of moving between past and present which confused me.  My best review is that it was something that some people will totally get into while it will miss the marks for people like me.  I hope that you try this book and let me know what is going on in the book that I missed!!

Happy Easter

I hope that you and your family have a wonderful Easter and enjoy the time off with your family!!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Trip to the Doctor and Made It Back to Target for Some More Deals!!

Well, we got to have another trip to the pediatrician's office which is never good but that meant that we finally made it back out the house after being stuck inside for all of Spring Break.  Turns out that in addition to everything that my son was fighting off, he had strep throat.  I used to jump to take him to the doctor and they looked at me like I was crazy because there was nothing wrong and now we have been way too much this year with all of his sicknesses. 

The only highlight was that means that we were right around the corner from Target.  I couldn't pass up getting all of the Ocean Spray that they had on their shelf.  In addition, my son decided that he wanted Ritz and Goldfish so we picked the ones with Cartwheel deals associated with because even though it might be splurge for the sick boy, it still needs to be a good deal.

On the way out, I was going to stop and get eggs because after my last trip, I found a MobiSave $0.25 cash back and they were on sale for $0.99 so I figured that it would work out to a good price to add one to the cupboard.  When I got to the case, there was a sign that the Cartwheel made them 50% off!!!  WHAT?!  I got 4 dozen eggs because they worked out to $0.49 a dozen or $0.04 an egg.  I was really tempted to get more but I know that I won't be able to use them all and I don't normally freeze eggs (but at that price I might be tempted to start).

Total OOP $32.14

Afterwards, I took him to Panera to get a treat with my gift card since I had him piled in the cart with all the heavy groceries.  Sadly, they didn't have my favorite soup today and it is really warm here today so I didn't get anything for myself.  My little man picked out a chocolate chip cookie and declared that it was just as good as Starbucks which is saying a lot because he loves their cookies.  I was thinking about a bagel but it is so hard for me to justify when I can get one whole package at Target for the same price and I didn't really need anything.  Oh well, no treat for mom which is totally fine for my waistline even if it would have been tasty!!  My treat was that my little guy took a nap when we got home.  I have been spoiled with naps this week but I should probably curl up and rest myself too!!

Hope you are having a good month!  I am doing pretty well to stay under budget at only $104.18 spent so far and get lots of deals with only one week left in the month and $55.82 left in the budget.  I want to go to Harris Teeter with a rain check and coupon to pick up some cheap sugar.  I would also like some meat at Wegman's with a coupon that I have there!!  There is also a great deal at Aldi with 10 lb of potatoes for $1.69 which I can't pass up.  I know that I have plenty of money left in the budget to do all that if I can find the time in the coming week.  Hope you are having as successful a month as I have been having!!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Light of the Last Book Review

I had read the first book in the series and saw the third book in the series already out!!   I quickly for the second book in the series from the library so that I could start the third book was quick to be requested.  I started reading the second book but just couldn't get into it so I put it down after 62 pages.  I read another book and decided to start Light of the Last: Wars of the Realm, Book 3 by Chuck Black.  Was I remembering the first book wrong???  Nope, third book was off with a shot and I was totally obsessed!!

After an accident left him temporarily blind, Drew Carter didn’t just regain his sight. He now sees what others can’t imagine–an entire spiritual realm of mighty beings at war.  Forget the gift, Drew just wants his life back. Part of that involves Sydney Carlyle, a woman he is inexplicably drawn to. When he’s offered the chance to become a CIA agent, it seems the way to redeem his past. The only problem–his visions of the supernatural realm are increasing in frequency.   It’s up to the warrior angel Validus and his hand-picked team of heavenly agents to protect the unbelieving Drew. Validus now knows that the young man is at the epicenter of a global spiritual war, and the angels must use a millennia of battle experience keep Drew alive, for the Fallen want him dead.  Surrounded by spiritual warriors and targeted by demons, Drew’s faced with an impossible decision that will forever alter the destiny of America...and his own soul.

This book started off with Drew Carter and exactly leaving off with the first book that I remembered (making me wonder why I was fighting so hard to read the second book).  The best feature about this book is that it has action, technology, and love.  What else could you want in a book?!  I love the action packed sequences dealing with the light invaders and the military precision of everything Drew Carter does.  The technology with the NexTech company and Drew's friend, Ben, helps to provide a lot of technology like Alice, the smart computer that helps provide support to the whole group.  Drew and Sydney are still going through ups and downs because although they both love each other, Drew thinks that Sydney needs to move on with someone better.  All of these storylines meant I couldn't put this book down and read instead of sleeping (AGAIN!! but at least it was Spring Break so I got to sleep in a little in the morning).  I hope that you check out this book at your local library or bookstore.  I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did!!  With as much as I enjoyed this third installment, it has given me motivation to try the second installment one more time in case I was just to sick to be able to concentrate and follow the story.  I hope that you add this whole series to your reading list and let me know what you think??

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

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Little More Shopping for the Month

I posted my middle of the month update with the shopping trips that I took and I was well under budget so I went on a crazy shopping binge when I saw the Target cartwheel deal for 20% off my husband's addiction to Ocean Spray.  They were on sale for $2 and the extra 20% off meant that I got them for $1.60.

I have learned from the cartwheel process that I need to make sure to read the fine print.  There was a limit of 4 per transaction but you could do up to 6 transactions.  I wasn't sure how it was going to work so I went with two transactions to check it out...willing to walk away if the second one didn't work.  I also had a cherry pie for my husband that I put in one of the transactions but never made it in the final picture.

It worked so well so I put everything back in the car and went in to do two more transactions.  I would have done the limit of 4 more but I took everything on the shelf!!!  The great thing is that the I had to fight the first person to get my bag credit and then she only gave me one per transaction even though she had to use two bags!!  The second cashier was way more friendly so it ended on a better note with lower totals saving me a dime :)

Total spent on these four transactions was $29.96
Great news is that I am hoping to go do this again soon to take advantage and stock up on even more.  We haven't had prices this low on Ocean Spray in ages so I know that that taking advantage of this price is going to save us money in the long run even if my husband has trouble controlling himself around all this cranberry juice!  He could drink one of them in a day which I not sure is really healthy for him but I know that it isn't healthy for the budget.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spark Joy Book Review

I waited on the reserve list for a long time for this book because it is so popular.  Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondō was finally in.  I knew that I had to read it pretty quickly because I wouldn't be able to renew because there were so many holds.  The shortened deadline helped to get that reading fit in shortly after finishing my last book.  I was really behind in my book pile and I might have over gotten the books at the library without remembering how many I requested to review so we have a backlog pile of books.  I might have to quit my job to catch up :)

Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has revolutionized homes—and lives—across the world. Now, Kondo presents an illustrated guide to her acclaimed KonMari Method, with step-by-step folding illustrations for everything from shirts to socks, plus drawings of perfectly organized drawers and closets. She also provides advice on frequently asked questions, such as whether to keep “necessary” items that may not bring you joy. With guidance on specific categories including kitchen tools, cleaning supplies, hobby goods, and digital photos, this comprehensive companion is sure to spark joy in anyone who wants to simplify their life.

This is the second book in the series and I read the first so I wanted to read the second book.  I wasn't a huge favorite read because it just didn't feel like it was my same mentality.  Although it is wonderful that she wants to cut down on clutter and things to make your life easier, the method she follows just doesn't fit with my thought process.  I am not into fung shui so many of the things about touching things and where hot and cold areas are don't really ring true to my thought process.  I put things where I need to use them for the most functionality.  Although I thought that this book had a lot more details and pictures then the first book...although I am not sure if you would get all her ideas out of the book and it doesn't stand on its own so you have to read the first book first.  This book gave a lot more pictures on how she wants you to fold your clothes and fit into the drawers.  She prefers plastic drawers in the closet where I really like wooden dressers in the room which add warmth to the room. 

She does like reusing items that aren't being used in the house but for the most part, I see bags and bags of items leaving the house (hopefully for donation).  I hope that this book helps you to get more organized and purge the items you no longer need if you read it.  I did start to get motivated to pull everything out of the basement storage and start selling my items that we no longer use.  I sold baby and kid clothes, my son's old shoes, swimming vest, Thomas the Train holder, and stroller.  I made $80 so far with more coming if I get some other pictures taken and things posted online.  I know that this is why I can't just get rid of item because I know that there is money to be made and then my house will be more cleared out.  If I keep chipping away at it then this can made up the added income that we can use since I won't be working all summer and clean out the house at the same time.  It might have been motivated in part by the consignment sales and part by the book but either way, hoping that I can get rid of some more things and make some more room in the basement.  Let me know what you think of it!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What Do I Do When I Am Upset, Sad or Angry??

I BAKE!!!  I am not sure where this comes from but any strong emotion from me causes me to want to bake.  I had a tough week so on Sunday morning, I woke up early and made chocolate chip scones which my husband has been wanting for weeks.

Since I already messed up the clean kitchen, I decided to whip up a batch of Nutella Oat Breakfast Cookies.  These are mostly for me because my son and husband aren't big fans but I think that they are amazing!!

I threw a batch of cinnamon rolls into the bread machine just to make sure that I was utilitizing every avenue possible to bake more food items.  If I had two bread machines, I would probably have started making rolls or something else. Those didn't get made into rolls until much later in the day but I made lots.

Then I decided to use up the rest of the sour cream and the last of the frozen raspberries, so I whipped up a batch of Raspberry and Blueberry Streudel Muffins.  I had lemon zest also in the freezer so bonus that I had everything that I needed with just a little digging in the freezer.

I had everything moving like an assembly line because I was taking one item out of the oven and the next going straight in.  I think I might need a baking intervention or I am going to have to be rolled to baking rehab after I finishing eating all of these goodies.  I hope that I have gotten this out of my system and can move on to a happier place for the start of the new week.  What do you do to get these bad weeks out of your system??

Monday, March 21, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 3/21

Monday- Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Tuesday- Grilled Garlic Herb Chicken Tacos with white rice
Wednesday- Pasta with garlic bread
Thursday- Popcorn Chicken, Chicken Fries and homemade fries
Friday- Leftovers and Breakfast food
Saturday- Whole Chicken and sides
Sunday- Frozen Mexican Tacos with yellow rice

We had a busy month and I tried to keep to the schedule and make the food on the schedule on the table.  The good news is that I had the flexibility to move nights around but the bad news is that I don't have anything in the freezer on the ready.  I have to stock up the freezer and figure out what needs to be stocked up this month.  What do you do for your unexpected busy nights? 

Hope you have a great week!!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Consignment Sale Treasure Finds

I wrote a whole post about my consignment finds and an error with a little computer trouble caused me to loose it all so I am hoping to rewrite it to the best of my ability here.  We have a consignment season (usually two a year) where there are consignment sales every weekend.  You have to pick the ones that are best for you and work out the best time after time.  We have one that we have been loyal too for years but my consignment sale friend found another two so we met up and went to them first.

I picked up 4 pairs of shorts, two shirts (in case you can't see there is a stripe underneath the edge of the blue shirt), one pair of pants and the Guess who game that I got on my first pass through the game area which was my first stop.

We went back to the toy room and my friend found a ton of good things but my son didn't like any of the things that I found so I found this cool pool toy set with four balls and Frisbee which will go in his Easter basket and be lots of fun to play with this summer!!  The balls aren't really made to last with the wear and tear and all the chemicals so last years balls were both trashed.  He did get two different things from the library reading program so we should be set for awhile with all this pool stuff.  Total for this haul was $5.  YUP!!  How can you pass that up.  We went to the second sale but either it wasn't as good or it was all picked over because most of the items were much higher price so I didn't get anything.

The next week we went to our favorite sale.  Although the prices on the clothes are much higher, the place is huge and fills up with tons of things.  My mom actually came down to go to the sale with us.  I didn't end up getting the Dr. Seuss Charade thing because I didn't want to have to be the other person playing it...I know totally selfish but it is the truth.  If it was just me there, I would have bought the two color changing cars for $2 and the soccer cleats and been done with it.  My mom really liked the Super Mario Nintendo 3DS bag but he already had another one so it wasn't something on the top of my list but at $2, I am sure that he will enjoy it and get use out of it and I can probably still get my money back to sell it later.  There was a KNex car that I thought was interesting but it was a little overpriced at $4.75 but it looked new in package so we went with it.  I am sure it will be a great gift when he gets it.  My mom also bought the Great States game at a huge $8 because my son loves the states and we are going to go back to learning about them this summer.  Here is hoping that we get a lot of use and learning out of this game!! 

The last thing in the picture is a mosaic for $4 so that my son can make a birthday or Christmas gift for my father for his garden.  I am sure that he will have a blast.  If it turns out really well and the mold holds up, I might be able to use it to make some stones with some broken plates that I kept to make something out of.  My mom also got a ton of books that she thought my son would like... the last thing we need is more books but if it makes my mom happy then I am totally happy to go with it.  The best part of the sale is that she paid the total of $37-$38!!  She thought it was a bargain to get so much under $40 when she thought that her total was closer to $100.  Bonus that she bought us something that we later get to give as a gift with no money out of is hoping it goes well.

We hit a second consignment sale after that just in case because it was in the area but there was nothing there either.  Whether picked over because it was so much later in the day or items were overpriced, we will never know.  The first sale of the day is usually the winner but what bargain hunter can miss the sale at the end to see if there are any more deals to be had.  Not me!!!  Well, that is all for us for consignment season here but hope that you thought it was fun!!

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Hearts We Mend Book Review

I was excited to get The Hearts We Mend (A Banister Falls Novel) by Kathryn Springer in the mail when I opened the envelope.  It looked like a nice cover for a fun story.  I couldn't wait to read it!!

Planning and Post-It notes are the epitome of Evie’s life. But when she meets Jack, her life gets more than a little complicated.  Thirteen years ago, Evie's firefighter husband was killed in the line of duty, leaving her to raise their young son, Cody, alone. Now, Cody is marrying the love of his life, and as he packs up his belongings, the house feels as empty as Evie's heart. But for all her planning and mad organizational skills, Evie could never have anticipated the dramatic shift her life is about to make.
Tattooed, rough-around-the-edges Jack raises quite a few eyebrows in the tight-knit community of Banister Falls. Where Evie's life is stream-lined, Jack's approach to living is moment-by-moment. But as Evie gets drawn into Jack's world—a world that isn't as safe or predictable as the one she's worked so hard to create—he challenges her to open her eyes to the problems outside the walls of the church.
Jack doesn't make Evie feel comfortable, but he definitely makes her feel something. Something she hasn't felt since Max passed away—or, maybe ever. Because even though Jack isn't anything like her late husband, he just might be everything she needs.

This book was a great inspirational book to help you turn your life around after the death of a loved one.  It is also great for an empty nesters that are looking for life after their kids move out and leave the house.  Evie lost her husband in a fire but focused on raising their son alone to have the best life he could have without his father.  When her son finds the love of his life and gets married, Evie realizes how empty her life is in her quiet house by herself.  Although she has friends and a community around her, she is sad and trying to reinvent her life.  She finds love when she wasn't expecting it and Jack turns her life around with his interesting tight-knit community.  Evie quickly adopts this new group of friends and expands her life in ways that she never dreamed.  The great news is that she has found happiness with new f I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I have.  Check it out at your local library and bookstore.  It will make you want to see more of these characters and give you hope for your own life too!!!  Add it to your reading list soon!!

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

Middle of the Month Budget Update

I wasn't sure what was on the list when I started the month but I found a few good deals that I stocked up on and a few things that I was searching for a good deal on.

Trader Joes  $5.41
I really like the blue cheese at Trader Joes and I think that it is worth the extra price at $3.49 because it is a bigger container and really blue so the extra flavor means that you can use less to get the same flavor as the stuff at Aldi priced at $1.99.  I also have been waiting weeks and weeks for celery to go on sale at Aldi and the price was going up and up and the celery was looking yuckier and yuckier so I decided that I would check Trader Joes and I got these two celery hearts for $1.79.  Bad part is that they took off the good parts for making broth so I won't get a lot from this one but it is healthy and big (perfect timing because I had six uses for it after we ran out and haven't used it since and now it is on sale at Aldi!!)

Target $10.40
I got a $50 gift card for my birthday and I was trying to figure out what I was going to get so my main plan was going to get all of the grocery items we needed so all of us made a list while at dinner.  I wish that I took a picture of it because it was super cute.  My husband wrote most of the things and my son took the pen and wrote that I should get whatever I could with a coupon to save money.  Love that I have taught my son that we can get more if we use sales and coupons (who knows how that will work in his long term life but hoping for a lasting impression).
When I got there, I decided that I needed everything to make his Easter basket.  I got a clearance Crayola marker maker which he has wanted forever but it was $30-$40 which I thought was crazy since I could get the darn markers so cheap.  This was under $18 so I figured that it would make a great thing to have so that we didn't have lots of candy.  I also got Starburst jelly beans with cartwheel and coupon.  I grabbed the dollar section deals with two sprinkles, Dr. Suess pencils, chalk, gardening gloves ($3), and the green jumper thing in the front ($3).  I also got the spring shaped marshmallows because they were normal marshmallow flavor and the one at Aldi was not so my son didn't eat any of the strawberry flavor ones.
I also still needed groceries including granola bars, penne pasta, cereal, and Ocean Spray (not on sale- BOO!!).  We also really needed tissues so I used the cartwheel and coupon to get the Puffs and found clearance Kleenex.  We are already on box number three with all of our sicknesses, hence we got  cold medicine for adult use and one for kids.  I got the two bottle Robitussin for my son that was on clearance, used a coupon and turned it in for Ibotta rebate (YEAH savings!!)  I added cinnamon rasin bagels with cartwheel to get them cheaper to have a nice splurge.
I was excited to use my gift card first and hoping to stay close to that out of pocket but the medicine alone was basically what I paid for out of pocket.

Aldi $17.05
I got a cocoa rice cereal for my son because he loves it but I don't normally like to pay over $1 for cereal so the $1.79 at Aldi is a splurge which I got because I know that I didn't use that much money at Target so I had some wiggle room in the budget.  I also grabbed a splurge for my husband because he loves tater tots ($1.65). 
I also grabbed some baking supplies.  We were low on oil so I grabbed another one and we were really low on baking soda which I put off purchasing for a long time which I needed shortly after purchasing because the other box was completely gone.  I also got another box of saltine crackers because my husband had eaten the other whole box with his soup binge to get over his cold.  I wasn't sure if we were done with the sickness yet so it seemed like a good idea to grab another one and if not, I will use some to make the seasoned saltine crackers soon. 
We also really needed potatoes which I forgot to put in the picture and had to take by itself on the counter that the heavy bag got left at.  They were at $3.49 which isn't the highest that they have been but not the lowest either.  I have been back a few times recently and there aren't any potatoes so worried what will happen when we run out.
Our excitement of the trip was there were containers of the old margarine that we used to buy.  I was afraid that it was too good to be true and it might be the old container with new stuff inside so I only bought one.  Quick declaration from my husband that he wanted me to go back and buy like 5-6 of them because it was the stuff he liked at the lower price then anything you can get any where else.
Harris Teeter $11.95
Specifically at the store to get Dominos sugar because we were totally out of sugar!!!  AHHH!!!  Near disaster in this house to not be able to make anything.  I had a ton of rain checks to buy them at whatever price I wanted and there was a coupon for the sugar in that weeks paper...which I of course forgot at home!!!  I brought one copy in my bag so I couldn't go as crazy as I was hoping to go but used my one coupon for $0.65 off 2 to get two so these were $1.32 each.  I can't wait to use the coupon to get more!!!  I also got the Domino fliptop sugar for $0.17 after sale and coupon.
I realized that I didn't grab shortening at Aldi so I grabbed on at HT for nearly the same price at $2.87.  I forgot the Gerber bananas at Target so it was super great that there were on sale and I had a coupon so I got them for $0.75 each.  I probably should have bought more but I am still thinking that I am going to get my son to eat fruit with fruit texture and he isn't there yet.  Last but not least, we are in serious need to have more tissues in the stockpile.  They were on sale for $1.67 and I had coupons for $0.50 which doubled so I paid $0.67 each!!  If you haven't used these soft packs, they are perfect for travel and in the car.  Last minute, I added some Honey Nut Cheerios because they were on sale for $1.97 and I only had a $1/2 coupons so they were $1.47 each which is more then I normally spend but still a good deal.  There were some other things that I wanted but I left my pile of uncut coupons at home because I was not prepared for my shopping trip...also all the printed coupons so I obviously shouldn't have left the house but I still got good deals and some more rain checks to get more deals later.  It happens but it is always disappointing!!!

CVS $0.27
There was a coupon to get nearly free candy and I decided that it was great for Easter basket time so I did this in two transactions and I was going to use my credit card which almost killed my mother.  I pulled out change to pay for the first one and she did the second one.

Total OOP $45.08
How do you think that I did?? 
I bought a whole bunch which aren't really groceries but those are our household expenses so they are going straight in the budget and luckily I had a gift card to off set the majority of the cost (Thanks Lynn).  I have been trying to earn at least one $25 gift card from Swagbucks every month.  In addition, I got a few from my Giant activity in their special program. I did better when they required a certain number of activities a month and gave us $10 a month store credit but in the new program I have gotten a $50 gift card and two for $10 which I redeemed.  Some of gift cards went for Christmas presents and other gifts so I haven't actually gotten to use any of them yet.  I have my first purchase this month and I am trying to decide what to get but I think that I am going to use them for Home Depot so that we can get some insulation with a gift card that my husband got for his birthday and this one so that we don't have to pay for too much of it.  Although eventually, I hope to use it to get some more money into the grocery budget!!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 3/14

Monday- Whole Chicken with side dishes
Tuesday- Chicken Tacos with spicy yellow rice
Wednesday- Pasta with garlic bread
Thursday- Popcorn Chicken, Chicken fries and homemade fries
Friday- Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Saturday- Soup and Buffalo Chicken Panini
Sunday- Citrus Herb Chicken with white rice

I finally got the menu plan together with the food in the house and written on the calendar.  I was so glad that I finally got moving in the right direction but it took a little longer to note it on the blog.  I finally got a picture taken of the menu and I was ready to move forward.  Here is hoping that I can get all of the stuff made for the plan without having any problems.  Hope you have a great week!!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Tricky Twenty Two Book Review

I was on the list at the library for this book for a long time.  I was so excited to see it come on the reserve list.  Tricky Twenty-Two: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich was the next in a long line of funny and highly entertaining "mystery" novels.  I started this series after a lot of pushes from my mother (we don't normally like the same books so I normally don't follow her reading advice).  Glad that I did this time!!

Stephanie Plum might not be the world’s greatest bounty hunter, but she knows when she’s being played. Ken Globovic (aka Gobbles), hailed as the Supreme Exalted Zookeeper of the animal house known as Zeta fraternity, has been arrested for beating up the dean of students at Kiltman College. Gobbles has missed his court date and gone into hiding. People have seen him on campus, but no one will talk. Things just aren’t adding up, and Stephanie can’t shake the feeling that something funny is going on at the college—and it’s not just Zeta fraternity pranks.

As much as people love Gobbles, they hate Doug Linken. When Linken is gunned down in his backyard it’s good riddance, and the list of possible murder suspects is long. The only people who care about finding Linken’s killer are Trenton cop Joe Morelli, who has been assigned the case, security expert Ranger, who was hired to protect Linken, and Stephanie, who has her eye on a cash prize and hopefully has some tricks up her sleeve.

I hope that you have checked out this books before with all of my reviews of previous books but if you haven't, you really should.  We used them early on for part of our "home schooling" because my son was in charge of returning the book, reading the title and getting the next one in the series- see how that is all about counting and putting the number with the word.  I can turn anything educational :).  This book was a great reminder of why I have loved the series and missed it after finishing them all.  Stephanie Plum has gotten herself into another few messes while trying to work as a bounty hunter for her cousin, Vinnie.  She is chasing lots of people who have failed to appear in court and gets into lots of trouble including finding dead people, getting attacked by geese, hit by a car and more.  If you have read others in the series you might not be surprised to know that she looses at least two cars through the book.  I don't want to give too much away but it is a laugh a minute and you won't be able to put it down either!!  I hope that you check these our at your local library or bookstore soon.  Make sure you start at one and work your way up.  I promise you will be very entertained by all of the antics!!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Amish Sweathearts Book Review

I review books for a few different places and this book, Amish Sweethearts (Neighbors of Lancaster County) by Leslie Gould seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.  I didn't write it down or anything so I didn't have a clue what I was supposed to do.  Something happened with the change over from 2015 to 2016 because some notes must not have come over to the new calendar.  I did a little research from my email and found the email that offered this wonderful book and I was so excited to read it.   Luckily, I found where I was supposed to review it so that they knew that I liked it too :)

They've been best friends for years, but as high school ends, Zane Beck can't help but look at his Amish neighbor, Lila Lehman, with different eyes. Her controlling father sees only one future for Lila, though, and arranges for her to be courted by an upstanding young Amish man. When Zane sees the two together, his plans for the future crumble, and he impulsively enlists in the Army, following in his father's footsteps.

However, the passing of years and the distance between them isn't enough to halt their now hidden feelings for each other. If being together used to be difficult, it's now impossible, especially with the Amish opposed to war. Zane's service takes a dramatic turn when he's sent to Afghanistan. Being on the front line and the reality of taking a life has him questioning whether he can continue to serve or not. But all choices have consequences--both his and hers. With Lila preparing to marry another, will these one-time sweethearts ever find the life together that they both still long for?

I had trouble putting it down because it was such a page turner.  The book is about the cross over between the Amish and the English worlds and how it works together.  These childhood friends have to bridge the cultures into adulthood to build a future together.  There are some constants that occur in all cultures when people continue doing things because others expect that of them.  Lila was expected to marry Reuben and stay inside the Amish culture and church.  Lila decided that she was following what her mother who passed away did that even though her father was an Englush man, she didn't leave the church.  Lila thought that she would do anything to not leave the church which lead all her decisions.  When she started to think for herself, she started to feel better about her decisions.  This was an amazing book and I couldn't wait to read the next book in the series as soon as I finished!!  Even at nearly 400 pages, I really couldn't believe that I wanted more but I promise you that I did.  I hope that you pick up this book at your local library or bookstore and check it out for yourself.

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

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Lesson Book Review

I was reading the series in quick succession and excited that I had the third book in the series next in my pile.  The Lesson: A Novel (Stoney Ridge Seasons) (Volume 3) by Suzanne Woods Fisher was the next book to read and the next in the series.  I was excited to read this but a little sad because it was the last book in the series.  I always want to get to the end of the story but I am sad when I get there.

Nineteen-year-old Mary Kate Lapp yearns for adventure, but all she seems to find is trouble. Her dreams of travel have taken a backseat to her assignment to teach school this year. And nothing ever seems to happen in her sleepy Amish community.  But when a sudden and unexplained death conveniently coincides with the arrival of a mysterious young man, M.K. is frustrated that no one takes it seriously. She's determined to take matters into her own hands and get to the bottom of it. Will she find more than she bargained for?

Mary Kate Lapp, nicknamed MK, was trying to stay Amish but has decided that it is too boring because nothing every happens.  MK gets the paperwork to apply for a passport so that she can go somewhere more fun where things happen.  But then she sees a murder (or rather hears one) and has decided that she needs to solve the mystery because she feels that the police are not taking it seriously.  Many of her decisions gets her into trouble because she takes action without thinking.  MK's step-mother, Fern, gets her appointed to the substitute teacher in the one room school house and introduces her to a local retired teacher.  The teacher talks to her about her long life who tells MK that she will never find peace in the world if she doesn't have peace inside herself.  This book travels through her process and is a great story of her character development to a much more mature person.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did and the whole series.  Check it out from start to finish and enjoy this character rich series.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

February Reading Review

I signed up for a ton of book reviews this month and I was amazed at the pile of books that I had on my list to read!!  I wanted to get back on track for reviewing things since I passed on a lot of books when we were moving because I didn't have enough time to make sure that I got everything done by a certain date and the review posted.  I might have jumped into the new year a little too much but I wrote some of the books on my calendar because I sign up with a specific date that I am going to post the review.  The other books are just going to come when they come and they don't come with any paperwork so I had to go back and label all the books so that I could read them in the order that I needed to read them instead of the order that I wanted to read them in.  The great news is that a snow storm hit and I got a lot of reading done during that time and read a ton of books in January before it was time to post most of the reviews.  I had everything else labeled and in order so I would get all the reading done before the date that the post was needed!!

If you missed the review or wanted to see it again, click on the title of the book and it will take you back to the original summary and review.  I hope that you enjoy a few of these books and add them to your reading list.

by Robin Lee Hatcher

by Debra Clopton

by Miralee Ferrell

by Beverly Lewis
by Beverly Lewis
by Beverly Lewis

The Decision
by Wanda Brunstetter

The Gift
by Wanda Brunstetter

The Restoration
by Wanda Brunstetter

The Keeper
by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Haven
by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Reading for 2016

January           13
February          11

Total Books       24

Currently Reading:

The Lesson
by Suzanne Woods Fisher