Friday, April 29, 2016

Mars with Venus Rising Book Review

I picked this book because it just caught my eye.  I didn't understand the title but who could pass up on the colorful cover!  Mars...with Venus Rising by Hope Toler Dougherty was an obvious choice when I started reading and found out that they lived in a town called Mars.  I was ready to learn about the rest of the story as soon as I started!!

A meddling horse, paper bag floors and a flying saucer on the town square. The little town of Mars has it all—including a brand new resident who might spell heartache for one of its own. Twenty-something Penn Davenport yearns for an exciting life in the big city and wants to shed the label of orphan that she's worn for years. To achieve that dream, she must pass the CPA exam then move away from the two aunts who reared her after her parents died in a plane crash. When John Townsend—full of life and the joy of living—moves to town, he rattles Penn's view of herself, her life, and her dreams... which isn't such a bad thing until she falls for him and discovers he's a pilot.

I was hooked from the start on this great book!!  The writing and the characters are wonderful.  I loved Penn and John and couldn't wait to find out what happened next in their relationship.  I was totally amused by the meddling aunts Winnie and Jancie (it took me 100 pages before I knew that it wasn't Janice).  They were so funny with their cooking and meddling in Penn's life.  The small town was the perfect setting for these wonderful characters and it made you feel like you were right in the middle of it.  It was heartwarming to see the town supporting each other and made you really want to live in this cute little small town of Mars (yup, weird name but adds to the cuteness).  The best part of the book is there are some funny and lighthearted parts and other very serious parts which really balance each other out for a well rounded book.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did!  I know that I am looking for other books in the series to read soon!!

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Join Becky Wade for a Facebook Party on May 5th

wade event promo - fb 

A female bodyguard plus her star NFL client plus danger equals a great recipe for romance! Her One and Only, book four in Becky Wade's Porter Family novels, releases May 3. To celebrate, Becky is hosting an author chat party on her Facebook page on May 5 at 5 PM PDT/8 PM EDT. Join Becky for an evening of book chat with other bookworms and prizes.

Plus a portion of all pre-sales and sales the release week of Her One and Only will be donated to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. For more details on how to purchase a copy, click here.

wade 400 - fallen heroes

About the Book

After ten years in the NFL, super star Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans. But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?

Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt–none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she’s determined to find Gray’s stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.

Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they’ll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives — and their hearts — to one another.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 4/25

Monday- Chicken Panini Sandwiches
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Garlic Herb Chicken Wraps
Thursday- Chicken fries, Popcorn Chicken with homemade fries
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- Little Caesars Pizza for Lunch after soccer/ Tacos
Sunday- Probably Family Meal before my mother in law leaves

I can't believe how quickly another month has gone by!!  I am so glad that I plan everything at the beginning of the month because I totally wouldn't have enough time this month to do weekly meal plans. 

However, this week is a little difficult because I have no idea when we are going to be serving just us or my mother in law or my sister in law and brother in law too.  I am certainly flexible to try to fit in a few more people into the plan but my husband's family doesn't really plan ahead so they are usually just here at dinner time.  I know that it will be a lot to manage with a full week of work but I imagine that we are going to be moving these meals around based on who is showing up at the house on a given day.  Cross your fingers for me this week that I make it through :)

I hope that you have a tasty week!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Simple Pleasures Book Review

I picked this book because I love Amish fiction books so I decided that Simple Pleasures: Stories from My Life as an Amish Mother (Plainspoken, Book Four) by Marianne Jantzi was the perfect next book to read.

Young Amish homemaker Marianne Jantzi invites readers into her family's life and Amish community. The mother of four young children, Jantzi writes about her daily routines and heartfelt faith with equal measures of wit and warmth. Sewing, cleaning, cooking, gardening, and helping to manage the family store take up most hours in her day, but Jantzi finds time to pen columns for the Connection, a magazine beloved by Amish and Mennonite readers. Never sugarcoating the frustrations of motherhood, Jantzi tells it like it is, broken washing machine and bickering children and all. But through her busy days, Jantzi finds strength in simple pleasures of family, fellowship with her Amish community, and quiet time with God.  Hear straight from Amish people themselves as they write about their daily lives and deeply rooted faith in the Plainspoken series from Herald Press. Each book includes A Day in the Life of the Author and the author s answers to FAQs about the Amish.

This was an interesting book of Amish life.  I don't think that I understood that this book was going to be a journal type book instead of a story of her life.  I thought when it was saying the stories that it would be lots of fun stories of the Amish life connected through time with this family instead the book is categorized by subjects including the following:

Little House Beside the Big House
Winter Blows Cold
Pajama-Clad Little Ones
Of Blankies and Band-Aids
It's A Small World
Garden of Plenty
It Takes A Community
From the Jantzi Shoe Box

As soon as she started a story and I got into it, she moved to the next one.  Some of them only a few sentences long.  The benefit is that it is a book that you can pick up for a short amount of time because you can read a passage of two quickly and then move on to other tasks you need to do that don't involve reading.  Although this book illustrates the reasons that all of us are going through the same struggles of messy closets, crazy child antics and never having enough hours in the day, it still didn't seem like a cohesive story for me because I want to be sucked into a story and not be able to put it down.  Each chapter is made up of lots of small anecdotes of living in this family in Canada all grouped together by the subject.  The book ends with a day in the life of the author which gives you more of the structure that I was hoping for out of the whole book because it gives you a glimpse into the families life.  The best part for me is the recipes at the back of the book because they are always my highlight!!  I hope that you check out this book and see how you like it and please let me know!

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Atonement Book Review

I love Beverly Lewis and even though I didn't have a clue what series this book went with, I jumped at the chance to review it.  I laughed when I found it was also on my reserve list at the library.  I kept my spot in the library just in case I got to the top of the list before the review copy was mailed but the review copy won the race.  I was eager to read this new book as soon as it arrived.  The Atonement
by Beverly Lewis was the next book that I read even though there were a few other books ahead of it in my pile because I had to know what was going to happen in this wonderful book.

Jah, Lucy thought. Tobe would have known what to say. "But what would he say to me if he knew the truth?" she murmured into her hands, leaning on the desk.

Alas, that was something she could not afford to find out.

The mistakes of the past haunt Lucy Flaud, now twenty-five and beyond Amish courting age. Instead, Lucy focuses on volunteering in both the Plain and fancy communities of Lancaster County. Yet no matter how hard she strives, she never feels she's doing enough. Then her father strikes up an unexpected friendship with an Englischer in search of a simpler way of life. Lucy forms a connection of her own with the thoughtful young man even as she rejects courtship with her longtime Amish friend. Is it too late to embrace redemption . . . and the power of love?
I loved the book and spent a lot of the beginning of the book trying to figure out the secret of the past that was being hidden.  It seems that most of the people who gave it bad reviews thought that it moved slowly because of this mystery but I thought that there was a lot of character development which lead to the wonderful ending of the book.  You can't appreciate the end of the book if you don't have the beginning to get to know the characters.  This book was written a little differently then the other books written by Beverly Lewis and I found that refreshing.  With so many authors writing everything with the same format, books by wonderful authors sometimes become so predictable and cookie cutter but this book was unique.  Lucy is having trouble coming to grips with the mistakes of her past which are revealed through the book.  The hard part for Lucy is that she spends the book punishing herself and thinking that she doesn't deserve happiness because of her problems in the past.  I think that everyone can relate to this even if they haven't made the same mistake as Lucy because no one is perfect and finding someone to love doesn't mean that you have to be perfect.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I have!!  It is a heartwarming story of forgiveness to others and oneself which I couldn't put down and I really enjoyed.  I hope that you read it and see for yourself the great characters and wonderful writing of Beverly Lewis.

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Perfect Parent Book Review

I am not sure how I ended up with this book from the library but it has a new sticker on it so I either grabbed it off the new shelf or reserved it from the new books section.  Either way, I am glad that I got The ''Perfect'' Parent: 5 Tools for Using Your Inner Perfection to Connect with Your Kids by Roma Khetarpal because there are so many useful tips in this book.

Get ready for a parenting makeover!
If you're a parent today, you face extreme pressure to get everything exactly ''right''--a pursuit of perfection that probably makes parenting feel hard. It encourages you to worry about whether you re doing a good enough job, and to wonder if your kids will turn out okay.   In The ''Perfect'' Parent, Roma Khetarpal puts all of that agony to rest. She explains that the key to a fulfilling parenting experience is to stop chasing an ideal and instead use your inner perfection to nurture a strong, communicative connection with your children--which will lead them to be happy, think positive, and do good.

Drawing from the fields of personal growth and emotional intelligence and distilling cutting-edge scientific research, Khetarpal leads you through five communication tools designed to help parents strengthen their bond with their kids and handle the doubt, guilt, worry, and fear that often accompany the challenges of raising children. Along the way, she shares helpful, humorous real-life stories taken from the popular parenting classes she's taught for years, as well as easy-to-remember exercises--such as ''Dealing with the Feeling'' and ''Take Five''--for use in common family situations.

With this short, useful, and enjoyable guide, you will be equipped with the simple tools you need to build a relationship with your kids that lasts a lifetime. Includes a ''Perfect'' parent toolbox! 
National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) GOLD Award Winner!Parents' Choice Recommended Award Winner! and Mom's Choice Gold Award Winner!
I thought it was a great book with lots of tools to improve your relationship with your children.  There are five tools including honorable parenting, approachable parenting, sensible parenting, reasonable and responsible parenting, and enjoyable and memorable parenting.  The chapter gives lots of examples and other stories that are easy to relate to and grow from.  At the end of each chapter there is an affirmation reminder like "I am an Honorable and confident parent doing the best that I can.  I accept and respect myself and my child just as we are."  There is a section with quick takeaways for what you learned in the chapter to summarize again.  I think that this is a good book to pick up every once in awhile to make sure that you are on the right track because I was definitely more aware while I was reading it.  There are many ideas that will help dealing with all friends and families in addition to your children.  I thought that it was well worth the read and I hope that I am going to improve some of my behaviors in time for spending the whole summer together!!  I hope that you check it out and enjoy it too!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Four Trips and a little extra to Harris Teeter Super Doubles

I went to Harris Teeter after taking the morning to rest up after hurting my knee so that I could get a few more deals but the shelves were either very bare or I just didn't have the right coupons.  Maybe both!!  I don't think that I was in the best frame of mind to head to the store but I knew that I would regret it if I didn't make it there to at least check.

After finding very little, I decided to use my rain check for more granola bars in conjunction with the $3 off $15 from Wegman's so I just needed to get a few more things.  I grabbed some chicken that I had a coupon for that brought it down to same or lower then Aldi's prices.  Then, I found some fries that I still had coupons that were close to expiring and they would be free because of the sale and the doubles so I thought it would be nice to try them.  I went to the check out and two of the coupons didn't scan so the customer service person came over and he refused to scan either one because they said not to double on the coupon so instead of putting it in like every other customer service person does, he made it seem like I was trying to get away with something and the cashier was dumb and lazy.  He was super rude and I left feeling worse then when I came in and I made them take the two items off the bill because I wasn't getting the items when the bill was $6 higher then it should be!!  I am sure if this has happened to you that you can understand my frustration... it is fine if you want to refuse something but to talk down to me or your employee is just not the right move.  Lucky for her, I was her last person and she got to take a break.  I wonder if you have to let it roll off you if you work there or what because I couldn't take someone talking down to me in front of others without speaking back.

Although beaten down by this new customer service person, I still decided to go to the other store that is just a few miles away.  They were out of the Windex, tea and most of the other items that I wanted to get.  I didn't want to use the coupons that had to be overriden at the other store because I couldn't take it twice in the same day.  I bought 3 boxes of pasta for total of $0.30.  There were only 3 more boxes on the shelf but I put everything in the car and went back in to get the last three boxes with exact change and my reusable bag in hand.  I am glad that I did because who knows when they are going to get them in again and my son eats pasta at least twice a week and will only eat Penne regardless of the whole pantry of other pasta.

Anyway, long story to tell you that this picture does represent three check outs at two different stores.  I am certainly glad to be done with that for the day and hoping that tomorrow is the customer service person's day off so that I don't have to see him after going through with dental work first thing in the morning.

Total Retail $48.01
Total Savings $13.47 +  4.56 + 11.46 += $29.49
Total OOP $17.92 + $0.60= $18.52

April Middle of the Month Shopping Update

I know that it shouldn't be a surprise how quickly the month goes by but we are already at the middle of the month!!  I thought that I was going to be really low total but then I started to add up my receipts.  I know that I should write down each receipt as I get it but I never do.  I have a small notebook and I shove all the receipts in the middle until I get to writing them down.  I try to total up the receipts before we get to the end of the month which is why it is so nice to share the middle of the month with you because I force myself to stop and add up the receipts so that the month isn't shot!!

I have had a lot of fun this month with my trips to the store including two trips to Aldi, a fast trip to Giant to get a freebie that they sent me an email about, and Wegman's to get the stock up on ground beef.  In case you missed all of the details of my three Harris Teeter trips, click on the store name with the price and it will take to the post with all the details.

Aldi $29.49

Wegman's $20.78

Giant $2.65

Aldi $2.80

Total OOP $94.17

Sadly, I was mistaken with how far under budget we were for the month but I am still please with how much I have gotten for the money spent.  I only have about $65 for the rest of the month out of my $160 budget.  The challenge is taking advantage of some more Super Doubles while not breaking the budget.   I know that I am going to try to get a few more trips in because there are a bunch more freebies that I haven't been able to get yet because I have reached the 20 coupon limits every day that I have made it.  Making the most of the rain checks and coupons that I have available so I know that I can get a lot of deals with the remaining budget.  At least three more trips should still leave a little bit of money to get any end of the month deals that come up or the few last items that I might need.

How are you doing this month?? 

Menu Plan Monday 4/18

Monday- Chicken Paninis with leftover side dishes
Tuesday- Pasta with garlic bread
Wednesday- Chicken fries, Popcorn chicken with homemade fries
Thursday- Beef Enchiladas with spicy saffron rice
Friday- Chinese food
Saturday- Leftovers and Breakfast
Sunday- Sausage Lasagna with garlic bread

I had a plan on the calendar for this week with a few holes since it was later in the month but then I found out my mother in law was coming to town.  I decided on a few casseroles so that I would be able to put dinner in the oven and still have time to sit and talk.  It is hard to get dinner on the table when we have company that has other plans in mind but a casserole in the fridge is always good to have on hand.  I also know that my mother in law would love to have some yummy Chinese food so I am starting with that and hoping to play it by ear because she is staying with us for the first few days and then going to my sister in laws house.  I hope that you have a tasty week!!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Third Trip to Super Doubles..with a little help from the family

We had a really busy day today but I was set on making another trip to the store during the wonderful super doubles to get a few more deals.  I was working on making rolls, loaf of bread and chocolate chip cookies this morning at the same time as trying to clean up the kitchen.  I know those things kind of conflict but I actually kept up pretty well with all the dishes even though the kitchen was still a mess.  After working in the kitchen all morning, we ran to the library to return and pick up returns and most importantly, pick up the free newspapers with coupon inserts.  Then, we were off to a soccer game for my son.  Exhausted and sunburned, we headed to the store as a family.  I put together one basket for my husband to check out and one for me.   Below is everything pictured together:

I used two rain checks for the Barber Chicken and the Puffs tissues.  I got the Barber Chicken for free after rain check and coupons.  The Puffs tissues were $0.55 per box which is not great but I have been going through tissues faster then I can get deals on them.  I used four of the $0.25 coupons from the PG and four of the printed ones from Swagbucks so that was the best that I could do.  Do you have a price that you buy tissues at??

I got some other great deals including free Rev wraps (which I took the meat out and cooked up to put on our salad for dinner that night), free Melt Coconut Butter, free Lipton tea, and free Old Spice Deodorant.  I got the last four boxes of Pronto Penne pasta on the shelf for $0.08 each.  My two most expensive things were the Coffee for $0.50 and the Cocoa Pebbles for $1.

The best part is that I had the $3 catalina to use from the Windex that I bought so I had very little to spend out of pocket for all this great stuff.  The even better news is that this adds six more dinner with the Barber Chicken for next few months.  It is a good no-fuss meal with a little white rice.  I also got plain coffee for my mother in law.  My husband says that I am crazy for thinking that people expect things when they come to stay with you and that she is a big girl and she can go get her own coffee at the McDonalds.  Do you get special things when you have company coming that you never buy and wouldn't use without them coming??  I said for this price, it is worth making her feel at home.  I wouldn't pay the $6 shelf price but it is worth $0.50 to make my mother in law happy right?!

Total Retail $81.05
Total Savings $32.95 + 22.95 + 14.97 +  6.32= $77.19
Total OOP $2.96 + $0.90= $3.86

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Second Trip to Super Doubles at Harris Teeter

I went to the store again and got a ton of great deals.  I worked really hard last night to get all the expired coupons gone, coupon inserts cut and printed coupons filed.  I was a little more organized so the great news is that I got shopping done way faster!!  Here is my haul:

I used a rain check to get the Quaker Chewy Granola Bars for Buy One, Get One Free so all 6 boxes were $8.25.  I didn't have any coupons so I didn't use any!!!  We were totally out and my son told me that he was dying without them because he eats them every morning when he wakes up before he has his oatmeal or cereal.  I also used a rain check to get the Suave Kids Shampoo because it was free after coupon.  There were only two left on the shelf so I got the only two that they had.

I got a bunch of freebies this time including the Tide, Tasty Bite Jamine Rice, Old Spice Deodorant, and Power Bars.  I love getting free stuff and I have never gotten free Tide before so that was super awesome!!

I grabbed a bunch of low priced items including $0.25 Hamburger Helper, $0.08 Pronto Pasta, $0.50 Coffee for my mother in law, and $1 Cocoa Pebbles.  The Windex was a good deal at $1 per bottle and when you buy 2 bottles, it prints out a catalina for $1.  This time I bought four and I got a catalina for $3 which actually probably wasn't the smartest because it doesn't double anymore.  I also grabbed two Children's Advil for $1.99.  I used to get the small travel sized ones free at CVS or for only $0.17 but they seemed to have stopped carrying that size so I hope that this means that I am stocked up for awhile since we have none of the small bottles left.

I put in a rebate for $0.30 for the deodorant from MobiSave and $0.50 for Laundry Detergent and Coffee from Ibotta.  I love the rebates where you can buy any brand.  They might not be for a lot of money but I got the deodorant and laundry detergent for free and made money through the rebates.  The coffee was made a better deal after rebate so that I only spent $0.25 for the bag.  I hope to get lots more through the sale and even hope to find a few more rebates that I can use!!

Total Retail $108.46
Total Savings $81.44 + 8.25 + 1.20= $90.89
Total OOP $17.57

Friday, April 15, 2016

Dream of Miracles Book Review

I got a new book and I was excited.  A Dream of Miracles (The Amish Wonders Series) by Ruth Reid was the first book that I have read by the author so I was excited to try out a new author.  I had a few ahead of it before I could actually get to reading it but I got to carry it around for a few days before being able to start it but when I did, I didn't want to put it down.  I took a Sunday to read most of it and enjoy the wonderful story.

Amish widow Mattie vows never to love again . . . until a suspicious outsider with a shadowy past comes crashing into her fragile world.  Mattie Diener can barely keep it together. A young Amish widow and mother of two young children, she faces the lingering heartbreak of lost love, her son’s mysterious illness, and a torrent of accusations that threaten to undo her.  Bo Lambright is a fast-rising social services investigator whose high-society mother won’t rest until she finds his Mrs. Right. Despite Bo’s worldly success, the raw ache of a shadowy past and a series of unsettling dreams have left him reeling.  When Mattie and Bo cross paths, all signs point to disaster. Yet as they face a crucible of trials and tragedies together, longings begin to stir that seem destined only to end in more heartbreak. Is a miracle possible—not only of healing but of forbidden love? What secrets lie in Bo’s dreams? And will Mattie find the courage to face her uncertain future . . . or will she simply run away?

I thought it was wonderful!!  I really enjoyed the characters and wonderful writing.  Although there were lots of questions about Mattie, I was pulling for her and her children.  They have a lot of medical problems after the death of their father 18 months previous in a mill accident.  Her daughter was born prematurely during the husband's funeral because of the stress.  With two young children, Mattie is doing her best to raise them on her own with very little help.  My heart went out to the single mom struggling to do the best for her children in every way that she could through selling herbs and honey to providing emotional support.  Mattie's worry often brought them to the doctors office which quickly brought in Child Protective Services to make sure that the children were not at risk from their loving Amish mother.  The events are heart breaking and I know that any mother will be feeling the sadness when reading this book and have the same trouble putting it down that I did.  I hope that you check out this book because I think that you will enjoy it as much as I did.  Let me know what you think!!  It certainly made me want to search out other books by the same author although there are currently none at the library.  I can't wait to read my next book by this wonderful author!!!

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

Thursday, April 14, 2016

First Trip to Super Doubles at Harris Teeter

I got the heads up from Nathalie from Imperfectly Frugally that super doubles was coming and I was still under prepared!  I printed some coupons before and I used my break at school to label them with the SB so that I knew what was from Swagbucks and cut them up.  I hadn't gone through my coupon basket to get rid of all expired coupons.  Sadly,  I didn't even get all of my coupons cut because I am so far behind.  I used my morning to power through sorting and cutting three coupons instead of doing other things like packing my lunch!!  I guess I did okay for the power push in the last few minutes but I didn't have a list or anything else but I was headed to the store.

I wandered through the meat section to see if there were any good clearances and there weren't.  I started on the cereal aisle which according to my family we NEEDED!!  I got 11 boxes of cereal to fill the cupboard with easy breakfast goodness.  I used a rain check to get the Honey Nut Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch for $0.97 per box.  I got the Cocoa Pebbles for $1 per box.  The Batman and Golden Grahams were on sale for $2.50 and I used the $0.75 printable coupon which doubled and I had an electronic coupon so they were $0.25 each (with more money coming back from Saving Star).  I also got one box of Frosted Mini Wheats for me for $1.  We are now fully stocked on cereal so hopefully my family will be happy.

There were a few freebies that I was excited to get and a few really low priced items.  I got the Melt Coconut butter for free which will be great to cook with.  I got the Pronto pasta for $0.48.  I almost used a rain check to save $0.20 more cents but I decided to take it to save the rain check for when I needed it really badly for more then the $0.20 :).  I got the Old El Paso with a little trip to customer service for free after printable coupon and electronic coupon (more coming back from Saving Star).  The Ortega seasoning was on sale and I used a printable coupon to get four of them for free.  The So Delicious Coconut Yogurt was $0.15 so I will use that for a batch of scones for a weekend with my mother in law visiting.

I decided to splurge of the Ritz crackers for my son which were $2 per box after sale and coupon (crazy shelf price of $4.49).  I also bought the Hormel Pepperoni which is a lunchbox staple for my son so this was $2 which is the same as Aldi's so I decided that I would get it and compare to the taste difference with the Aldi's ones that we already had.  I also got the Windex with Vinegar which we love to use to clean the counters after sale and coupon, it was $1 per bottle.

Last but not least, I already opened and used lots of the sugar that I bought before so I only had three bags left.  I used a rain check to get 4 bags for $1.97 each and I used a $0.65/2 coupon to make them $1.32 each but the customer service actually ended up overriding them and scanning them again unless there was some other $0.65 coupon that I am not remembering so I actually ended up paying $0.67 per bag.  Another great sugar deal to stock the pantry to make lots more homemade food.

I went to one register and I had to move to another one because I needed the catalina machine to print my $1 back from Windex which should double when I go back tomorrow.  Starting to wish that I bought 4 to see if I would get more money back but going to love using that extra $1 back tomorrow.  I used my 19 coupons but when I looked at the receipt it looks like when the customer service person came over, she gave me two extra coupon scanned!!  I also got to use the $3 off $15 from Wegman's which they honored as a competitor.

 I will get some money back from Saving Star including $0.75 for Batman cereal, $0.75 for Golden Grahams, $0.50 for Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and $1/3 Old El Paso so that is $3.00 back for things that we already a pretty good deal.  I also got to use 13 Swagbuck coupons so I will see those eventually in my account.

Overall it was a good trip to the store and my first attempt and a totally unplanned and unorganized shopping trip.  How do you think that I did??  I am working for a little bit tomorrow and then straight to the store!!  I better get back to cutting coupons and getting organized tonight!  Wish me luck tomorrow.

Total Retail $88.58
Total Savings $56.72 + 4.88 + 3.24 + 6.72= $71.56
Total OOP $18.81- $1.79 cash back= $17.02

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

I have never made cranberry sauce but I had some cranberries that I got in a Christmas gift which I immediately put in the freezer knowing that I would have to figure out what to do with them later.  I saw this recipe on line when I spent way too much time on Pinterest one night. 

I had also frozen the end of the orange juice that I had eaten so I knew that I could totally make this with things straight from the freezer!!  Love that I save everything even though I don't know what it I going to use them for.

I put the cranberries in the pot first because they were frozen.  Then, I picked out the ugly ones....Who knows what happened to them but I figured that they didn't taste good.

I added the slightly defrosted orange juice to the pot and then sugar.

Then, I stirred with my spatula to combine.

Then I got the juice up to boiling, and the cranberries started to crack open.  Can you see a few of them with lines on them?

I wasn't sure if I was doing it right but I figured that it wasn't much of a loss and then the cranberries started breaking open.  Awesome!!  I did it right!!  Woo Hoo!!!  After boiling and stirring more, the red started to come out more and more. 

After a little longer boiling, I had something that looked like cranberry sauce.

I boiled a little longer to combine all of the jelly like substance and it looked like this in the pot with nothing else added.  I was excited that it turned out so well!!

I took the hot sauce and put it in a container straight into the fridge with plans on sticking it in the blender the next day.

I don't like canned cranberry sauce but my husband does and it will go great with a roasted chicken.  We both tried it with the chicken and enjoyed it even though we didn't even make a dent in the big container that I had.  I decided to freeze it to figure out what to do next.

If it turns out that it isn't something he wants to eat again then I am going to make it into salad dressing like the recipe here.  Either way, it is a win win for using up things in the freezer and making good food.  Have you ever made cranberry sauce from scratch??

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Everything Guide to Homeschooling Book Review

I looked on the library system and somehow saw The Everything Guide To Homeschooling: All You Need to Create the Best Curriculum and Learning Environment for Your Child (Everythin... by Sherri Linsenbach. I decided it was the perfect book to read if I was interested in even thinking about doing this over the summer months.  There were a lot of ideas in the book on how to make everything work for different families.

An accessible guide for fun and stress-free homeschooling!
When you homeschool your children, you can shape their education according to your own standards, values, and ideas. In The Everything Guide to Homeschooling, homeschooler Sherri Linsenbach provides you with all the information, inspiration, and encouragement you need to easily and successfully homeschool your children from grades K–12. This complete guide contains information on:
  • The Common Core standards and how they impact families
  • Creating plans for typical homeschool days, including schedules and activities
  • Utilizing curriculum resources, strategies, and methods
  • Managing specific learning styles and special needs
This guide is packed full of ideas to make homeschooling your child easy, affordable, and, most of all, fun. With ideas for tackling social issues and motivating your child, this is the only reference you'll need to keep home education exciting and ensure your child’s success!

This was not the greatest book to read while lying in bed because there were too many notes that I needed to make of important websites and books that I needed to check out.  I have an entire piece of paper covered in all of the topics that I need to look into.  It has lots of information on books and websites so that you can build all the lesson plans and other things for your homeschool planning.  It is a great reference book to give you all of the information on where to start and how to proceed to do homeschooling yourself.  While I don't think that it covers all the aspects of homeschooling, I think that it provides a good start and lots of great resources to get started.

My biggest problem in opening this can of worms is that I end up so far down the rabbit hold that I can't get organized because there are too many things that I pull out.  I am not sure that the book addressed this particular issue but there are so many ideas and so many topics to cover that I am going to try to take a little bit of time to get organized in April and May to start the homeschool process in June- at least I hope.  I am going to try to take my best advice and not get too into the details.  I have already printed a reading notebook with passages to read and questions to answer to work on comprehension.  I made a writing notebook that my son has had for awhile on his joke book.  The great part is that this has the jokes and answers there for him to write and a little picture that he draws to go along with it.  We also have our most important notebook which is the state notebook.  Last summer that was our only focus and we did Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.  This summer we are going to do New York and hopefully two others to learn lots about the state history, landmarks, and other information.  With a few science projects added in with a few kits that I have stored in the basement and projects with dad, I think that we will have a well rounded summer.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did and get as much out of it as I did!!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 4/11

Monday- Chicken Panini Sandwiches
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Citrus Herb Chicken Wraps with saffron rice
Thursday- Chicken fries, popcorn chicken and homemade fries
Friday- Stir Fry Chicken with Noodles and egg rolls
Saturday- ??
Sunday- ??

Do you have certain days that you have specific types of meals?  I don't normally have that but the weeks are very much the same thing going on each week so it has turned into that a little.  I need something easier on Monday because it is the night the homework for the week comes home so even though that is for my son, it needs a lot of input from me so I have to be able to go back and forth to the table to keep him making progress.  Tuesday is our busy night where we don't have a lot of time to sit down to dinner so quick meal that gets on the table quickly.  Wednesday is a middle of the week and usually the day we stay late on the playground so my husband starts dinner.  Thursday is the night that I have a little more time to cook while my son is in after school enrichment so we get to eat as soon as he gets home.  Friday we are exhausted and no matter what I plan, it usually ends up being leftovers because I don't want to stand at the stove because my feet hurt.  The weekend is either slow and we don't want to make dinner or too busy and we don't want to make dinner.  And then it starts all over again!!  How do you manage your weekly schedule and get dinner on the table?  I hope that you have a tasty week!!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Sit Stay Love Book Review

I decided that I was going to see what Sit, Stay, Love (Love Unleashed) by Dana Mentink was all about.  The book took forever to get delivered so I was afraid that I was never going to get to read it but it finally arrived and stopped what I was reading in order to start it.  I was glad that I did because I couldn't put it down!!

Take one abrasive professional athlete, a quirky out-of-work schoolteacher, and an overweight geriatric dog, and you're ready for a lesson in love...Tippy style.  Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he inherits his deceased mother's elderly dog, Tippy, he's quick to call on a pet-sitting service. Gina isn't thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie in the classroom. Furthermore, she can't abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.  As Gina travels through Cal's world with Tippy in tow, she begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is falling in love with her too... Discover the charming story of Tippy, the dog who brought a family together.

I should be very upfront that I am not a dog person so I wasn't sure about this book but I kept reading the description and I decided that I wanted to read the book even though I am not an animal lover.  I loved this book with all the funny characters and situations and had be reading and not able to put the book down because I needed to find out what was going to happen next.  Cal was trying to focus on his career after the loss of his mother at the end of last season that took his game off course.  Gina was trying to get her life back on track after loosing her job as a teacher so she was taking over for her cousin's business while she was recovering from surgery.  These two make a very unlikely friendship while they are both trying to get their lives back on track with a little help from Tippy the dog.  I hope that you check out this interesting romance with a starring role from the dog because you might like it as much as I did!

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

March Reading Review

I was hoping to have a good reading month and get caught up on the pile of library books and review books that I had on my side table.  I was excited to try to get caught up and hoping to not get any new books at the library too quickly but I got another book on my reserve shelf and I was trying to decide whether to read the book from the library or the book for review!!!  Ahh, the choices I have to make!!!

Here are the books that I read for the month.  If you missed the initial review, please click on the title of the book and you will see the summary and original review of the book.  Hopefully these will help you add the books to your reading list.

by Suzanne Woods Fisher

by Leslie Gould

by Kathryn Springer

by Janet Evanovich

by Marie Kondo

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode
by Crystal Paine

by Chuck Black

by Liz Johnson

by Debbie Macomber
by Chuck Black

Read to Page 62 and then gave up and returned it to the library.  I just couldn't get into it.  I compare this to Braveheart which is my husband's favorite movie which I sit there not being able to tell who are the good guys and the bad guys.  I just couldn't go back and forth between the past and the present to some same and some different people and follow what was going on.  Loved the rest of the series.

Reading for 2016

January           13
February          11
March              9

Total Books      33

Currently Reading:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Thrifty Thursday: Saving Money with Swagbucks

My goal when I started was to make the daily goals but I quickly realized that this was not something that I couldn't do and maintain a life.  I was up one night really late worried that my last video was going to stop on the computer.  I realized that it was taking away from a good nights sleep just to get a few more points.  I was going to be seeing this symbol in my sleep.

Then, I decided that I would try to get 7 days in a row to get the bonus for that but even that was impossible for me to keep up.  I was unwilling to give up and trying to figure out what I could actually do and still maintain the rest of my life without Swagbucks interfering.

I FINALLY figured out a good balance for me and a way to achieve my goals.  My goal is for one $25 gift card a month because you need to have 2,200 points to get one at the discounted price per month (which just happens to also be the limit).

I have been doing that every month and I earned one gift card which I gave as a gifts for Christmas, Birthdays and more.  I just earn my last one which is going to go with other gift cards to buy our attic ladder from Home Depot.  I know that these might not seem like the most exciting addition but everything that I did was money that would have normally had to come out of our pocket and now with a little work, they didn't have to.
Going forward, I might have the chance to actually use these things for something fun or else save up all the money that I would have spent at these other things and spend it on something fun but I plan on using at least one of the gift cards to put on my Amazon account to increase my Amazon credit to use towards Christmas gifts for my son.  I might get a gift card to take us out to dinner and buy some fun stuff at Target too!!

Here is the great part, I am going to share some of my secrets!!  Okay, they aren't really secrets but I am sharing.  I got an iPhone that we aren't using for phone service...I realize that not everyone has that sitting around but it was perfect me.  I start up the videos playing the morning (if they stopped from the night before) so that I can get at least 10 points from that while I am getting ready and at work.  The great part is if there are bonus then I am already working on that while I am at work.

Then, I got figuring out where all my points came from (in case you don't know how to do this, I just figured it out... go to my SB and there is a drop down where all the points come from).  My lifetime total is just over 9,000.  Here is the breakdown from the website where my points came from:

Searching the Web         65 pts
Shop & Earn Coupons      305 pts
Swagcodes                    16 pts
Other                          810 pts
Answers                      5135 pts
Special Offers                 456 pts
Games                            40 pts
Daily Poll (Bonus SB)    76 pts
Swagbucks TV (on computer)    573 pts
Mobile Watch (on iPhone)           1548 pts
nCrave                                       11 pts

I got over half of my points from doing the surveys which I guess is to be expected because those are the high point hits.  I am so surprised that the mobile watching earned me the next highest points.  They did recently change the rules so hoping that doesn't ruin my chances of making my monthly goals.

If you are interested in starting, please feel free to join my to join my team.  I would love to have more members to work towards making free money with this wonderful tool.

What tips do you have that help you earn your Swagbucks??