Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Quieting Book Review

I picked The Quieting: A Novel (The Bishop's Family) by Suzanne Woods Fisher because I like the author.  When it came in the mail, there wasn't any papers with it and I had thrown out the email accidently so I was trying to figure out where it came from.  After a little research, I decided that it was Revell Reads which is one of the companies that I do reviews for and they let me pick books.  Then, I got an email from them which confirmed it.  I put it next in the stack to read so that I could enjoy this new series.

The Stoltzfus family faces serious problems, both in the church and at home. Everyone in the community expects minister David Stoltzfus to fix things--fast. But David doesn't work fast. He prefers to wait for God to work in individual hearts. However, even he is left wondering if the solution to their most pressing problem might be a Quieting.  When David's mother arrives, uninvited, more upheaval is in store. She has matchmaking plans for everyone in the family, including David and her eligible granddaughters--and especially for David's niece Abigail. When Abigail stumbles onto a curious connection during her genealogical research, it could help David solve one problem--but will it create another?

It took me a long time to get into this book because most of the immediate problems were dealing with the church and ministers but I didn't know any of the characters.  I had a little trouble jumping into the characters who were obviously carried over from the first book which I didn't read.  After getting into it, the book stands on its own and provides a glossary at the beginning (which I stubbornly didn't read) to let you get to know all the characters.  Part of the problem was that I knew a lot of the characters from other series so I was trying to remind myself about them as I went...not the best plan in hindsight.  There was a lot of quoting the bible and using Amish sayings but once I got into the book, it was hard to put down.  There were tons of love stories going on and wonderful heart warming stories.  I enjoyed the book overall and I am glad that I read this new "to me" series from Suzanne Woods Fisher.  I hope that you check it out and see for yourself.  If you read the first book in the Bishop Family series that this is the obvious next step to check out.  If you didn't, make sure you read the beginning so that you get to know the characters first and I am sure that you will jump in much faster then my stubborn self.

**I got this book from the publisher for my review and honest opinion.  All opinions here are my own.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Tomorrow is the Last Chance for This Book Giveaway!!

Don't you want to enter to win a copy of Someone Like You—five winners will be chosen! Click the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced June 1 on the Litfuse blog!  Good luck!!

someone like you - 400

Menu Plan Monday 5/30

Monday- Lunch at Wendy's and Dinner at Little Caesars
Tuesday- Pasta and Soup
Wednesday-Chicken fries, Popcorn Chicken with homemade fries
Thursday- Tacos
Friday- Chicken Paninis with mac and cheese

So we went away for the weekend and I totally thought that I had put the menu in the computer but I didn't so I will update when I get home to see the calendar but he is my rough memory of what I remember at least for the beginning of the week because it gets a little fuzzy towards the end.  Oops!!  I hope that you have a tasty week!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Her One and Only Book Review

I picked Her One and Only by Becky Wade because I remember loving this author.  I didn't remember the series of books that I read or the characters but I knew from the description that I wanted this book.  I was super excited when it came in the mail and it was nearly 400 pages which was great.  I couldn't wait to pick it up and find out what this book was going to be about.

Gray Fowler, star NFL tight end, is being pursued by a stalker, so his team hires a protection agency to keep Gray under the watch of a bodyguard at all times. When Gray meets Dru Porter, an agent assigned to him, he's indignant. How can an attractive young female half his size possibly protect him?  But Dru's a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt. She's also ferociously determined to uncover the identity of Gray's stalker. And she's just as determined to avoid any kind of romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past. But the closer they get to finding the stalker, the closer they grow to each other. As the danger rises, can Dru and Gray entrust their hearts--and their lives--to one another?

I loved this book and had a hard time putting it down (especially because it was pretty long which I was really thankful for).  There are lots of great characters to get to know and wonderful writing from Becky Wade.  I really loved Dru and immediately wanted everything to turn out well for her.  Gray was an interesting character that I was looking forward to uncovering his secrets.  The wonderful small town atmosphere was a great balance for the hectic world that an NFL star lives in. I loved getting to know these two characters and all the others in this wonderful story!!

I knew that I read another book in the series but I wasn't sure going in which book it was because this was the fourth book in the series.  Sadly, looking back, I only read the third book in the series recently and missed the first two but that gives me a chance to go back and see if I can find them at another library in the area because they aren't in the libraries by me.  I hope that you get to read and enjoy the whole series!!

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fading Starlight Book Review

I love this author and couldn't help to pick her new book as soon as I saw her name.  Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman was an interesting cover and interesting description that had me ready to read.  There are interesting characters in this book including Lauren, the main character who was an aspiring fashion designer, and her group of friends.  After moving, Charlotte, the older former movie actress, became in interesting part of the plot.  There are a lot of interesting characters in the book that help weave the story of forgiveness and moving forward.

Lauren Summers is hiding. Her fashion house internship should have launched her career, but a red carpet accident has left her blackballed. The only job she finds is unpaid, but comes with free lodging--a run-down cottage in the shadow of a cliff-side mansion. Unsure of what comes next, she's surprised to be contacted by a reporter researching a reclusive former Hollywood ingénue who lives in the nearby mansion.

Kendall Joiner wants Lauren's help uncovering the old woman's secrets. In return, she'll prove the red carpet accident was a publicity stunt so Lauren can regain her former job. With all her dreams in front of her, Lauren's tempted by the offer, but as she and the old woman get to know each other, Lauren realizes nothing is quite as it seems.

The book started off a little strange with a wardrobe malfunction that cost Lauren her job as a intern at a design company.  She quickly leaves the city for another job with a free place to stay in a secluded neighborhood in a run down house where she can live for free while making costumes for the local high school musical production.  This break is exactly what Lauren needed until she meets her recluse neighbor who causes her nothing but heart ache when she reaches out to be nice to her.   There are a few strange occurrences that make this an interesting read because you never know what is going to happen next.  Make sure you pick up this book for all the old time fashion charm and the way to have a happy life rolled into one story of people trying to make their way in the modern times.  I hope that you check out this book and let me know what you think of this book trying to show you the best way to turn the other cheek and lead a happy life.

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

Monday, May 23, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 5/23

Monday- Barber Chicken with White Rice
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Enchiladas with spicy yellow rice (probably not spicy for little one)
Thursday- Chicken Fries, Popcorn Chicken with homemade french fries
Friday-Out of Town
Saturday-Out of Town
Sunday-Out of Town

We have a three day weekend which means that there was a chance that we stay home or a chance we would take a trip so I didn't plan anything this weekend. Great news we are headed out to have a little fun so I don't need to plan anything for the weekend other then start packing.  I can't believe that we are almost done with the month!!  I am pulling out the calendar and planning next month already.  Do you plan your menus by the week or the month or play it by ear when dinner comes??

I hope that you have a tasty week!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Someone Like You Book Review

I picked Someone Like You by Victoria Bylin even though I hadn't heard anything about the author which seems to be a little bit of a change from recently with all the other books that I have picked.  I loved the cover and the description of the book so I decided that I had to find out more!

Julia Dare is trying to run her own business, raise her young son, Max, and help her widowed mother. Her biggest worry, though, is keeping Max's father from being a bad influence while still allowing the boy to spend time with his dad. When an account from her event-planning business sends her to Caliente Springs resort, she's shocked to encounter Zeke Monroe, her college sweetheart.  Zeke is determined to keep Caliente Springs running despite financial trouble. When Julia walks back into his life, he's surprised at the feelings she stirs up. As they work together on an important client's wedding, the fate of the resort soon depends on their success. With Zeke and Julia both pushed to their limits, will their history put up walls between them or bring them together?

I enjoyed the book and I thought that it was entertaining with great characters but there was something about the writing that didn't always ring true to me.  I thought that there was a heavy reference to God when it was unnecessary which was pushing the point instead of showing how the characters were become better Christian through their behavior.  Julia and Zeke are working together to bring more business to Caliente Springs and growing closer.  Julia's son, Max, was a wonderful light with his child like behaviors and antics.  At the same time, Hunter, Max's father, is a horrible person making Max the center of his strange world but never making decisions with his son's best interests at heart.  Although I am sure that people often do this, it doesn't ring true to me that Hunter would continue to keep up this behavior for years without giving up and moving on.  The main story between Julia and Zeke and all of the employees of the resort was the highlight for me.  I enjoyed the story and was excited to see what would happen next which is always the sign of a good plot.  I hope that you check out this book and see for yourself. Let me know what you think!!

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

Don't you want to enter to win a copy of Someone Like You—five winners will be chosen! Click the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced June 1 on the Litfuse blog!  Good luck!!

someone like you - 400

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What We Find Book Review

I reserved a ton of books and What We Find by Robyn Carr was one of them.  I know that I have loved everything that I have read of the author so when I saw this book listed in the books that the library ordered, I knew that I would enjoy getting on the list to read it.  It appeared on my reserve shelf at the library totally unexpectedly when I was really busy with lots of other books but it went straight to the top of the pile.

Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a lawsuit—and experiencing levels of anxiety she's never faced before. She knows she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan's Crossing.  Named for Maggie's great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide Trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie's eccentric father, Sully. When she shows up unannounced, he welcomes her with open arms, and she relishes the opportunity to indulge in his simple way of life.

But shortly after arriving, Maggie's world is rocked once again and she must take on more responsibility than she'd planned. Though she's relieved a quiet and serious-looking hiker, Cal Jones, is willing to lend a hand, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man's eagerness to help—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation.  Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.

I thought that this was another great book by Robyn Carr.  It seems that it is a stand alone book but I would love if there were more in this series.  Maggie was trying to find her footing after so many problems loosing her medical practice, her baby and then her boyfriend.  She was emotional drained so she went to the place that she felt most at home, her father's camping area and store.   Cal is staying there at the same time and also trying to rebuild his life.  The two of them work together to make new lives for themselves to find the happiness that their previous lives were missing.  I love watching the process to see how Maggie and Cal work to make their lives happy and fulfilled.  I finished this with plenty of time to return the library, only to find another book on my reserve shelf that I got in while not paying attention.  I am really in trouble and now I have to read a book quickly again before the deadline on Friday.  Here is hoping that we have a lot of time between activities!!  I hope that you check out this book if it looks interesting to you!!  Add it to the wish list at the library but pay better attention to it then me :)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 5/16

Monday- Barber Chicken with White Rice
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- French Dip Sloppy Joe with Mac and Cheese
Thursday- Chicken Fries, Popcorn Chicken with homemade french fries
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- Chicken Paninis (One Buffalo and One Plain)
Sunday- ??

The closer we are coming to the end of preschool, the crazier the kids are getting and here is hoping that this is a good week and we make it through the last two weeks.  There are lots of the end of the year school things for my son as well so I think that we are going to super busy but only time will tell because they tend to be last minute additions to the schedule.  I hope that you have a tasty week!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine Book Review

I was at the library and I saw there was a new release of one of Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series!!!  I knew that I had way too many books already at home to read but I couldn't stop myself.   The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (16) (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series) by Alexander McCall Smith was a quick grab off the new release shelf that I was eager to read and had to quickly fit it in because there was no renewal through the library!!

In this latest installment of the beloved and best-selling series, Mma Ramotswe must contend with her greatest challenge yet—a vacation!  Business is slow at the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, so slow in fact that for the first time in her estimable career Precious Ramotswe has reluctantly agreed to take a holiday. The promise of a week of uninterrupted peace is short-lived, however, when she meets a young boy named Samuel, a troublemaker who is himself in some trouble. Once she learns more about Samuel’s sad story, Mma Ramotswe feels compelled to step in and help him find his way out of a bad situation.

Despite this unexpected diversion, Mma Ramotswe still finds herself concerned about how the agency is faring in her absence. Her worries grow when she hears that Mma Makutsi is handling a new and rather complicated case. A well-respected Botswanan politician is up for a major public honor, and his reputation is now being called into question by his rivals. The man’s daughter has contacted the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency to investigate these troubling claims, but, as in so many cases, all is not as it seems. In the end, the investigation will affect everyone at the agency and will also serve as a reminder that ordinary human failings should be treated with a large helping of charity and compassion.

I enjoyed this book as I have all the other books in the series.   There are great characters and great settings in Africa with the fun adventures that always follow.  In this book, the ladies were trying to figure out how to navigate a holiday (or vacation) from work where Mma Ramotswe is out of the office but still in the area trying to figure out how to relax.  Mma Ramtswe is a hard working woman who has always worked and didn't know how to take a day off, let alone the two weeks holiday so it was interesting to see her try.  This series is categorized as mysteries but I think that these are mostly about wonderful characters and great writing because there is very little suspense type mysteries.  I love to follow the path that the author takes and figure out what interesting story is going to happen with the great ladies at the Detective Agency but when you get the end, it feels like nothing much has happened because it just follows them through their normal days.   I think that these books are a little different then most other books that I read but they are always an enjoyable quick read.  I hope that you check out this book and all the others in this wonderful series.  I know that you will enjoy it as much as I have!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Home on Apple Blossom Road Book Review

I finally got to the top of the library reserve list on Home on Apple Blossom Road (Life in Icicle Falls) by Sheila Roberts.  I had so many books on reserve that I wasn't sure what was going to be getting when it said that there was a book on my shelf.  I was excited to see this book and excited to start reading it as soon as I finished my last book.  I had a few books ahead of it in the pile but I jumped ahead eager to remember which series this was which was quickly refreshed as soon as I started reading!

Colin Wright and Mia Blair grew up in Icicle Falls, but they left years ago—and not on good terms. Now Colin's grandmother, Justine, has died, and they've come home to honor this woman they both loved. That's when they get some unexpected news. They're about to inherit something. Jointly. They just have no idea what. It turns out that Justine's designed a treasure hunt for them, like the ones they enjoyed when they were kids and best friends. But they're not kids anymore, and they sure aren't best friends. As for that young love they once shared? Well…it's complicated.  On the trail of Justine's treasure, they follow a series of clues that take them down memory lane—ending up at the orchard on Apple Blossom Road. What will they find there? And what did Justine know that they didn't?

Loved this book but thought the description was lacking.  I guess the back of the books are just like movie trailers where they want to give you misleading information just to get you to read the book.  I don't need to be mislead to pick up the book and read it.  This was a wonderful book with chapters started with letters from Grandma Justine to her family members who live far away.  The chapters went through the hard process of the funeral of Grandma Justine and the reading of the will including a treasure hunt to find the most important things in life.  Colin and Mia work together to find out what their joint inheritance from their Grandmother is going to be.  It was a great story of the process and wonderful characters.  I can't wait for more books in this great series!!  I hope that you check out the book and others in this great series and like them as much as I have!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 5/9

Monday- Barber Chicken with White Rice
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Chicken Fries, Popcorn Chicken with homemade french fries
Thursday- Tacos with yellow rice
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- Little Caesar Pizza after soccer game
Sunday- ??

I think that this is my new plan to plan the week and leave Sunday to relax and do whatever ends up happening.  Last week ended up working according to plan even though we all got sick so I am hoping for the same out of this week.  This week is a little busy with a garage sale this weekend and a second soccer game so I am not sure what dinner will hold but the ideas in my head are still Breakfast for Dinner and something on the grill, although after this busy week it might end up being a pot of macaroni and cheese some weeks!!  Not this week because my mother is actually coming to visit so we are going to be eating something that I can feed to all four of us.  I hope that you have a tasty week!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Finally Shopping for May

I was avoiding the stores this month and we were quickly running out of food that was ready to eat.  Although there were lots of ingredients to make food with so I whipped up some rolls, seasoned saltine crackers, Nacho Cheese oyster crackers and some chocolate chip cookies.  It wasn't doing a great job of holding us over because when there is only one sweet or salty treat, it means that we are all eating it and it is gone quickly.

My husband picked up a few things after taking my son to the doctor but he missed the important instruction asking for him to text me so that I could tell him the rest of the things that we needed.  He grabbed the very few things on the list that I wrote down when cooking which was the shortening, oil and rice.  My son was home sick with strep throat so he got to pick his own ice cream.

Aldi $8.88

After only getting a few things at the store, I started making my list to make sure that I got the best deals going.  I went through my email and there was a coupon for a free Natures Promise (organic store brand) so I packed my cooler with ice packs and started my morning dropping off a check to pay for our pool membership and straight to Giant to get this deal.  There was another coupon for $2 off $5 of produce.  I was thinking about going through the section and seeing what deals I could get but I was getting a little at Aldi so I thought that it would be better if I saved it for another day.  The total came up to $0 and the person at the self check out couldn't figure out what I was saying so she made me take the suspended transaction to customer service to get my free yogurt.

Giant $0

Then, I went to Aldi to get some things including the deal on eggs ($0.69) and zucchini ($0.89).  I really needed lunch meat for next week and they were out!!!  I grabbed some more oyster crackers since my husband finished them this morning.  I also grabbed some bananas which my husband really wanted but sometimes they are too green for my tastes but these looked good.  There was finally Parmesan cheese so I grabbed that... was thinking about getting two but we really don't use it that much in the summer.  I put two more margarine and cheese in the cart because we were running low on both.  The bag of chips was a quick snack that is almost gone already.

Aldi $20.80

I ran next to Harris Teeter to get the Dixie Crystal Sugar that was on sale for $1.77 and I had a printed coupon to get them for $0.97 each.  I got the Hillshire Farm Chicken because they ended up being a money maker at shelf price $2.99 with $0.75 printable coupon that doubled and $2 meat coupon.  I bought four boxes of Cheez Its which my son and husband cheered about.  I printed the coupons from Kelloggs Family Rewards and they were on sale for buy one, get one free and I was very tempted to use a rain check to get them even cheaper but I wasn't sure if I had one that would work out better.

Harris Teeter $7.23

After all those trips, I came home and unpacked all the groceries and was going to pick up my son but he wasn't home anymore!  I decided that it was the best time to go through the coupon basket and get rid of all of the expired coupons.  I finished my whole basket and got everything fit back in way more neatly including cutting all coupons that weren't even sorted.  I also went through the pile of new newspapers and pulled the coupon inserts from them.

I had a $3 off $15 coupon and two $1 off other items at Wegman's that were expiring so I set that I had to make it to the store to get chicken which is on sale for $1.79 per pound.  We were also out of vitamins for my son and my husband so I grabbed the Wegman's brand for my son because they didn't have the kind that he liked and the Centrum with $4 coupon for my husband.  My son did a great job of helping and being patient so he got the bag of bulk candy in the back which took a long time to create his $0.26 bag of candy.

Wegman's $14.36

I was hoping to get a little more done in the day but it never works out that way.  I think that I did pretty well with what I got and I look forward to getting a lot more deals this month.  Here is hoping that I get to do more with my days off to cook up some other treats and try some new recipes so stretch the budget even farther.  Glad that I finally made it to the store but I might have gone a little crazy in the first week of the month.

Total OOP $51.27

How did you do so far this month??

Friday, May 6, 2016

Song of Silence Book Review

I read a few other books by this author so I picked this book based on that without even reading the description.  Do you do that when you pick out books?  I find that I have authors that I like and there isn't a book that they have written that I don't like so when a new one comes out, it doesn't really matter what it is about, I want to read it.  Song of Silence by Cynthia Ruchti was the next in my review pile and I was excited to dig in.

Charlie and Lucy Tuttle are committed to each other for life, but that life isn’t turning out quite like they expected. Charlie retired early, but Lucy planned to continue in her position as a music educator in a small Midwestern K-8 school indefinitely. And then the day came when she was forced to retire. Lucy was devoted to the program her father started years ago and now she can only watch as it disintegrates before her eyes. The longer she is separated from the passion of her heart, the more the music fades from her life and she wonders if her faith’s song is fading too. When a simple misstep threatens to silence Lucy forever, a young boy and his soundless mother change the way she sees—and hears—everything.

I really enjoyed this book and it helps to really put your own problems in prospective.  I don't think that the description does the book justice but it was an amazing journey following Lucy through her process of self discovery after the music program that her father built and she spent her life working with the children was cut from the school.  Instantly, she lost the song in her heart and had to try to figure out her new life.  In the process of self discovery, she goes to see a psychologist to try to work through some of her feelings.  She joins a book club which ends up being made up of a group of wonderful women who help her try to rebuild her life without her job.  More twists and turns happen including her daughter, son, daughter in law and her son move into their little home and even though they are totally crowded, this new life starts to take on so much meaning for her.  I loved watching the journey and the horrible pains that she goes through to make sure that she ends up leading a more positive life.  I think that all of us get down with our daily life whether it is because it isn't going according to our "plan" or because it is just exhausting.  It is hard to stop and think in the middle of everything going wrong that we have lots of other blessings like a wonderful husband or beautiful children even if they are driving you crazy right now.  Enjoying all of life is a great message to take away and watch the changes in Lucy.  I hope that you check out this book and others by this author because I think that even if you aren't going through the same situation, you can still relate to needing a little silence to try to get back on track.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!

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

Thursday, May 5, 2016

April Reading Review

I had a huge pile of review books for this month and I actually had to go through and put the name of the book, the date that the review should be posted and put them in the right order so that I could get them all read by the deadline.  It is funny that I seem to go in spurts of getting books that I like to read to review and either not having the time to sign up for reviews (or forgetting) or else there just aren't as many books that I am interested in.  The great news is that I had lots of books to read for the month but the bad news is that everything was on a deadline and I was quickly running behind my schedule.

If you missed the review the first time, click on the title of the book and it will take you back to the original post.  I hope that you add a few of these books to your most read list.  Let me know which ones you like!!

by Dana Mentink

by Sherri Linsenbach

 by Ruth Reid

by Roma Khetarpal

by Beverly Lewis

Simple Pleasures
by Marianne Jantzi

Mars...with Venus Rising
by Hope Toler Dougherty

Waste Free Kitchen Handbook
by Dana Gunders

Reading for 2016

January           13
February          11
March              9
April                 8

Total Books      41

Currently Reading:

Song of Silence
By Cynthia Ruchti

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Waste Free Kitchen Handbook Book Review

I decided that I would reserve Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook: A Guide to Eating Well and Saving Money By Wasting Less Food by Dana Gunders, at the library because my friend, Nathalie, recommended it.  Feel free to check out her review here.  I went straight on the library website and reserved it.  It came in quickly and I had lots of reading to do quickly because of the review books that I had to read but I fit it in but it was a really fast read.  I was interested in finding out what it was about so I couldn't help fitting in this book before the one that I was supposed to read!!

Despite a growing awareness of food waste, many well-intentioned home cooks lack the tools to change their habits. This handbook—packed with engaging checklists, simple recipes, practical strategies, and educational infographics—is the ultimate tool for reducing food waste. From a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council come these everyday techniques that call for minimal adjustments of habit, from shopping, portioning, and using a refrigerator properly to simple preservation methods including freezing, pickling, and cellaring. At once a good read and a go-to reference, this handy guide is chock-full of helpful facts and tips, including 20 "use-it-up" recipes and a substantial directory of common foods.

I hope that you check out this great instruction manual on waste free living.  There are tons of tips from using up everything to composting to reduce greenhouse gas.  I really want to compost and I am hoping to get my husband on board since the bulk of the work ends up being his because I would just be keeping kitchen scraps.  There is a bin available at Home Depot so I am hoping to go check it out.  Is it weird to ask for a composter for Mother's Day??  I have wanted to do this for years so here is hoping that the $100 purchase price won't scare us away.  If not, I am hoping to try a slightly destroyed trash can with a few holes in lid since we have that here for free.

The best part of this book was it included a recipe section with ideas on how to use items that might be past their prime so that you can continue using them.  My favorite recipe is the one that I already make with leftover breadcrumbs made from crackers or chips that are stale or too smashed up.  We really enjoy them and I just smashed some stale Doritos which will make super yummy chicken tenders.  Helpful areas including shopping, storage, crafty kitchen, scraps, and lots more including where to put things in the fridge for best refrigeration.  I hope that you add this book to your must read list and see all of the helpful tips.  I think that there are mostly things that I already knew but I still enjoyed the book and got a little re-inspired to try to be more waste free!! Hope that it does for you too!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

April Month End Budget Update

I have a monthly budget of $160 for my family of three to get all of our household items including groceries and all household goods.  I work very hard to stay under budget and get the most for my family to stretch the budget as far as possible.  In order to get the most out of our budget,  I make a lot of items from scratch including rolls, bread, cinnamon rolls, quick breads (this month was applesauce bread and banana bread), lots of homemade cookies and of course lots of meals.  I try to do my best to not have a lot of food waste so that I can make sure to stretch my budget as far as possible and use a menu plan to get the most out of everything.

I was a little worried with the amount of money that I spent way too quickly in the month (which happens sometimes based on the deals that are available.  I started the month off with a big trip to Aldi to get a bunch of things that we didn't have plus oranges for soccer.  I also had to stock up on Wegman's stuff and I was by the store at a work conference so I went less than 5 minutes on my way home to get a few times there.  I also grabbed some freebies at Giant and more necessary ingredients at Aldi to get my lasagna finally made!  Then the busy part of the month came because super doubles started near the middle of the month.

I grabbed lots of deals at Harris Teeter with the help of rain checks and a few other deals and coupons. I went a little crazy with a lot of things that we didn't really need right then that were great deals because of the super doubles time like my trip to get Finish Dish washer detergent and Jet Dry Rinse Aid.  I was going to try to fit in one more trip to the store but I ran out of energy so I didn't make it another time.  One final trip to Aldi to get the last trip of the month or so I thought.  My mother in law came into town and she paid for two other small trips to the store to get some special treats for my son (aka the most spoiled grandson because he is the only one on both sides of the family) where he asked for ice cream and ice cream bars "because two is better."  Grammie bought it along with some veggies and fruits for herself.  She paid $27.55 over the two trips but lots of the food was for her so I didn't take pictures.

Here is what I got and the totals spent.  If they are highlighted, I posted about the details of the trips and you can click on the amount and see all the ins and outs of the trips.

Aldi $29.49

Wegman's $20.78

Giant $2.65

Aldi $2.80

Harris Teeter $18.52

Harris Teeter $16.30

Aldi $10.70

Total Retail $482.78
 Total Savings $343.09
Total OOP $139.69

I am pretty impressed with all that I got and how little I spent being $20.31 under budget.  I guess I could have fit that one more trip into get some deals at super doubles at Harris Teeter but I didn't add up anything which is not something that I should have admitted but there is the honest truth.

We did have some big take out this month with one trip for Chinese food $42.55 and one trip for pizza $5.30.  We normally try to stay under $25 for the month but we had company and we treated for Chinese (per my husband...not sure why he insisted but he did). Great thing is that we were under budget so it worked out pretty evenly for the month.

How did you do for the month? 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 5/2

Monday- Barber Chicken with White Rice
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Salsa Sloppy Joe with Mac and Cheese
Thursday- Chicken Fries, Popcorn Chicken with homemade french fries
Friday- Hamburger Helper Philly Cheese Steak Pasta (with more pasta and less meat)
Saturday- Leftovers
Sunday- ??

I am leaving a little flexibility in the schedule at the end of a long week.  I had a lot of energy when I wrote the menu plan and a lot less later when I posted the plan!!  Glad that we have the ability to move things around if we need to but no clue on Sunday so guess we will see but either Breakfast for Dinner or something on the grill like hamburgers and hot dogs.  I hope that you have a tasty week!