Sunday, July 31, 2016

Summer Brides Book Review

This book was made up of three short stories which I am interested in reading normally to get to know other authors but this book was specifically for the third story.  Summer Brides: The Borrowed Bride\A Bridge to Dreams\Sister of the Bride by Susan Wiggs and Sherryl Woods and Susan Mallery was the next book that I reserved to read from the Fools Gold series.  I started with the end of the book first which felt a little funny but I was in the middle of the series and wanted to make sure that I read this one which was earlier in the series.  I have read all the authors in the book and enjoyed their stories so the others were just a bonus.

The Borrowed Bride by Susan Wiggs
During her own bridal shower, Isabel Wharton is whisked away by past love Dan Black Horse to his retreat in the Cascade range. But returning to her Native roots, and Dan's loving arms, is harder than she ever imagined.

A Bridge to Dreams by Sherryl Woods
With her vacation plans foiled, Karyn Chambers realizes that her long-awaited escape must give way to staying at home in San Francisco. Little does she know her Prince Charming is right in her own backyard.

Sister of the Bride by Susan Mallery
When Katie McCormick finds out that her sister is marrying her ex, she finally agrees to a setup for the big day. To her surprise, Jackson is a catch. But when wedding catastrophe ensues, will their sparks fizzle or ignite into flames?

The first story was very interesting and makes me want to look into whether it is part of a series or not.  It was dealing with coming to grips with who Isabel actually was and stopping hiding her past.  Being Native American was part of Isabel's past and she was trying to push it into the past instead of dealing with the things that made her push it away.  The second book was a little more of a reach for me but still enjoyable.  Karyn's life is falling apart just when she thought it was looking up.  She does a great job of trying to find ther positive until she looses the money for her Hawaiian vacation when her old car breaks down.  She decides to get a fun convertible to have her new life start with her new car since her vacation fund was spent.  She ends up vacationing right in her home town and learning to look at everything a little differently.  The last book and the reason for me reading the book was great!!  I loved hearing the story of Katie and how she was rebuilding her life after her sister stole her boyfriend and she was working on dealing with their wedding day with the help of a family friend.  Jackson ends up being just the friend she needed.  There are lots of twists and turns to the stories but I don't want to give away anything here.  Make sure you pick up this book and see for yourself!!  I hope that you check out this book and others in the great Fools Gold series.  I am hoping that you like these short stories as much as I did!!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Only His Book Review

I was excited to start on the next installment of the Fools' Gold series.  Only His (Fool's Gold, Book 6) by Susan Mallery was the next book in my pile from the library.  I picked it up after finishing the last book immediately.  I think that I have read most of the books at this fast pace which has made keeping up the reviews the hard part.  Of course stopping reading for any reason is always hard even to keep track!!

Wedding bells are ringing in Fool's Gold, but not for Nevada Hendrix. Her triplet sisters are engaged, and even her mother has a more active love life than she does. Determined to make a fresh start, she applies for her dream job, only to discover that her new boss is her first love. Maybe she could overlook the fact that they've seen each other naked, but she'll never forget the way he broke her heart.  Tucker Janack agrees to Nevada's "business only" ground rules. After all, love is a trap that the construction millionaire has avoided his whole life. But when great business partners turn out to be so much more, every rule gets broken. Will either of them be willing to try again…or will their past get in the way?

This book was great.  I really felt for Nevada having to deal with both her sisters being happy while she was miserable.  They were busy planning the rest of their lives and she was working on trying not to be miserable.  I was pulling for her to be happy as I always am with main characters.  Then she decides that she is getting a new job and her whole life turns upside down.  There are a ton of reasons why she wants this job but she wants to turn the job down because of the man that she used to be in love with.  Tucker talks her into the job and she is really enjoying this new challenge even though it is bringing up a lot of memories that she had buried in the past.  This book was filled with surprises and I enjoyed it (I felt like the most so far but I always say that when I finish the book that it was my favorite).  I hope that you enjoy this book and the rest of the series.  I know that you will enjoy it as much I have!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Only Yours Book Review

I have enjoyed reading the Fools Gold series and Only Yours (Fool's Gold, Book 5) by Susan Mallery was no exception.  I got a bunch of books out of the library which jumped ahead of another series that I had piled on my side table....then I read them so fast that I got more books.  I need to finish this really long series so that I can get back to my other reading.  There are lot more books to read so I better keep up with one a day!!!

Montana Hendrix has found her calling—working with therapy dogs. With a career she loves in a hometown she adores, she's finally ready to look for her own happily ever after. Could one of her dogs help her find Mr. Right…or maybe Dr. Right?  Surgeon Simon Bradley prefers the sterility of the hospital to the messiness of real life, especially when real life includes an accident-prone mutt and a woman whose kisses make him want what he knows he can't have. Scarred since childhood, he avoids emotional entanglement by moving from place to place to heal children who need his skillful touch. Can his growing feelings for Montana lead him to find a home in Fool's Gold, or will he walk away, taking her broken heart with him?

After getting to know Montana a little in the last book, this was a great character to follow on her new direction and career.  She is working with therapy dogs that help children learn to read and people in a nursing homes.  Montana is finally happy with her job and feels like she has found her future.  At the same time, she meets Dr. Simon Bradley.  Simon is very serious and often upset by Montana's actions including an escaped dog in the burn center where he works.  However, Simon is pulled towards Montana and can't figure out what to do about it.  After he finishes his rotation in Fool's Gold, he is ready to move on to Peru.  There is a lot of drama in this book which you have to pick up to find out what happens!!  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the series soon.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Only Mine Book Review

I was excited to get to the next part of the series and wondering who it was going to featured in Only Mine (Fool's Gold, Book 4) by Susan Mallery.  I have enjoyed the first three books in the series so I knew that we would enjoy this book too!!

You can't win if you don't play…Her town's lack of men may make headlines, but it isn't news to Dakota Hendrix. The beautiful blonde has bigger problems to deal with, such as overseeing the romance reality competition filming in Fool's Gold. Screening eligible bachelors is a difficult enough task, but Dakota hits an unexpected snag when a sexy stranger comes to town.

Finn Andersson will do anything to keep his twin brothers the perfect contestants off the show. Despite Dakota's better judgment, she finds herself drawn to the mysterious outsider. Like her, Finn knows about heartbreak and how a family can fall apart, so she doesn't dare to hope for anything more than a fling. After all, even in the Land of Happy Endings, finding true love is never as easy as it looks on TV.

This was a great book following Dakota, one of the triplets.  I enjoyed getting to know this wonderful sister and how she was trying to make all of her dreams come through.  She was told that she wouldn't be able to have any children because of medical problems so she decided to adopt.  After getting passed over for many children because she was single, she finally found the opportunity that she was looking for.  All this happening at the same time she is starting a new relationship with someone who doesn't want any children.  It is an amazing story showing you what can happen if you are patient and honest.  I hope that you check out this book and others in the Fools' Gold series soon.  I know that I have enjoyed this light summer read.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Homemade Croutons

I have been making homemade croutons for awhile now and I just went through making them again and realized that I have never posted the recipe!!!  WHAT?!?!  Unheard of!!!

I took a few different recipes and mixed them together so I am not even sure what was the main source of my inspiration.  I know that we were going to have dinner and I had to throw together something for company so I wanted to add croutons to the salad.  I grabbed a bag of cubed bread from the freezer the first time but this time I had a loaf of bread that was dried out that no one was eating.  I cut it up into bite sized cubes.  I do keep cubed bread in the freezer to make homemade stuffing, homemade croutons and homemade bread crumbs.  It is always good to use everything we have and these are my few methods to use up all the bread from our homemade bread.

I melted the butter in a 12 inch pan and added spices.  Literally to taste or whatever you have left in the cupboard.  I used basil, oregano, garlic salt, and Parmesan cheese this time.  Other times I have added seasoned salt, Italian Seasonings, Pizza Seasonings and anything else I grab.  

After the butter is melted, add the cubes of bread and stir.

After they are fully coated a little browned in the pan, you have two choices.  One is to put the pan directly into the oven if you have an oven safe pan and don't have to make a second batch.  The best benefit is that you only have to dirty one pan.  If you need to, dump the seasoned cubes on a cookie sheet and evenly spread out

Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.  They come out looking a little more brown and a little harder.  

These are super yummy hot or cold on pasta or salad.

I store the finished croutons in a sealed plastic container in the cupboard.  They frequently get used up quickly because they are so tasty!!!

Homemade Croutons

Leftover Bread
1-2 sticks Butter or Margarine
Seasonings to Taste

Cut the bread into cubes for the size you would like.  Melt a stick or two of butter in a large skillet.  Add seasonings of choice like garlic powder, garlic salt, oregano, basil, and Parmesan cheese.  Stir the bread in the skillet until coated with the butter mixture.  Bake at 350 degree in oven until golden brown and more solid to the touch.  Serve immediately or store in sealed container.

Finding Perfect Book Review

I was excited to start Finding Perfect (Fool's Gold, Book 3) by Susan Mallery to figure out what the next chapter is in this wonderful town was going to be.  I really enjoyed the first two and this was no exception.  I might have stayed up way too late to continue reading this book because I wanted to see what was going to happen next.

When Pia O'Brian's best friend dies, Pia expects to inherit her cherished cat. Instead, the woman leaves Pia three frozen embryos. With a disastrous track record in the romance department and the parenting skills of a hamster, Pia doesn't think she's meant for motherhood. But determined to do the right thing, Pia decides to become a single mother. Only to meet a gorgeous, sexy hunk the very same day.  A former foster-care kid now rich beyond his wildest dreams, Raoul Moreno runs a camp for needy children in Fool's Gold, California. After his last relationship, Raoul thought he was done with women and commitment. Still, he can't get sweet, sexy Pia out of his mind—and proposes a crazy plan. But can such an unconventional beginning really result in the perfect ending?

I was excited to see a book about Pia since she was in the other books and I really didn't know too much about her.  This was a great look into her story and what made her the way that she was.  She enjoyed the small town and all the support that she got while growing up after losing both her mother and father while she was in high school.  She is trying to come to terms with what she is going to do with her friends embryos when she decided to jump in.  This is an amazing story of ups and downs that is a very emotional but you have to read it yourself to find out what happens.  Either way, I knwo that you will be pulling for Pia and hoping that everything turns out all right for her.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as have.  Check out this and other books in the series at your local library or bookstore soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Almost Perfect Book Review

I was so excited that I got the first three books when I reserved the first book.  Almost Perfect (Fool's Gold, Book 2) by Susan Mallery was waiting when I finished the first book.  I was excited to see who they covered in this second book in the series of this great small town.

Back in high school, Liz Sutton was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Then she'd stolen the heart of the most popular boy in town, and their secret romance helped her through the worst of times. Until Ethan Hendrix betrayed her and everything they'd ever meant to each other. Devastated and pregnant, Liz left Fool's Gold, California—forever, she thought…. Now Liz must return to town and face the man who doesn't know of their son's existence. And this time she won't have the option of making a quick getaway. Ethan and Liz can't deny their passionate attraction, even after all these years. But will their desire be enough to spark a second chance at love?

Jumping in and meeting a new character right off at the beginning of the story was great.  I wasn't sure exactly what was going to happen for Liz because she was very worried about returning to her hometown but I was totally cheering for her.  As the story goes on, you see how hard she has worked as a single mother to make a life for her son and you can't hope enough that she gets everything she wants and more.  But running into Ethan after all these years was hard and uncovering the truth was even more devastating.  I hope that you check out this book and others in the Fools' Gold series.  I have enjoyed them all and I hope that you do to!!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 7/25

Monday- Chicken fries and buffalo chicken with homemade french fries
Tuesday- Pasta with garlic bread
Wednesday- French Dip Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Thursday- Lime Chicken with white rice
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- ??
Sunday- ??

Planning meals is so hard in the summer.  Our plans are all over the place and it seems that when I think that we are going to be home, we never are.  We have also had company in and out for the month so planning around that is also hard.  We are supposed to have family coming into town this week again so more confusion over the meal plan and how many people I need to plan for or whether they are coming.  Here is my best guess at the plan for the week with three bags of ground beef, three bags of chicken, one bag of cubed chicken and two Barber Chicken breasts left in the freezer (just joking because we ate those last night).  I made a lot of leftovers last week to clear out the fridge but I am not sure what else I can figure out going forward for this week and I seemed to have lost all creativity.  Hopefully I will pick up some ideas by the end of the week or we might be going hungry!!

I hope that you have a tasty week and stay cool!!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Starbucks Chocolate Chip Cookie

This might sound a little strange but the only reason why I go to Starbucks is to take my son. Before you get up in arms about how horrible a mother I am, it isn't for the coffee.  We aren't a coffee drinking family and husband started getting gift cards at work for Starbucks.  I was a little upset that we were going to waste money and not use them so I decided to go and see if there was anything that I liked at Starbucks.  Although I do like the cinnamon chip scones and a few other baked goods, it is nothing compared to how much my son loves the Starbucks Chocolate Chip Cookie.

He will do anything to get this fun treat and I have gift cards to pay for this since they cost $2 each but they are totally worth it.  I decided to try to make it at home with a new recipe that I found.  Luckily I had all the ingredients on hand so I pulled them out and got ready.

I put the stick margarine and the coconut melt into the bowl.

I added the sugars to the bowl.

After the sugars were mixed, I added the eggs one at a time.

The dough got smooth.

I added the dry ingredients including the flour and the whole wheat flour.  Luckily I got a chance to use the remaining whole wheat flour from the freezer and enjoyed finishing off another item to clear out the freezer.

I chopped up the dark chocolate bar. First into bigger pieces and then into a little bit smaller pieces.  I am not a huge dark chocolate fan but it is a nice flavor to have in the cookies for a treat.  I got this one free at Harris Teeter and we are almost out of chocolate chips so it served a lot of purposes!

I added the chocolate chips and the chocolate bar to the cookie dough.

I thought it looked a little thin but I hate changing recipes the first time that I make them.  I scraped the sides of the bowl and got ready to scoop the make cookies.

I made the cookies with the scoop on to the silpat.

Unfortunately, they spread across the cookie sheet and didn't really maintain the shape.

After adding a little more flour, these cookies turned out really flat and not really like the cookies at Starbucks.  The similarity was found in the whole wheat flour which I thought added a nutty flavor that was pretty tasty.  My husband did not like it for the exact same reason.

So these cookies aren't going to be made again in our house but I would totally say that they needed more flour needed (at least 1/2 cup) so I added the additional flour to the recipe from the original recipe.  I hope that you try these out and see if your family would enjoy these cookies.  If you want to check out the original recipe, please look at the original recipe on the blog, The Grant Life here.

Starbucks Chocolate Chip Cookie

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup semi-sweet milk chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cream the butter and the two sugars together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time.
  4. Mix together all the dry ingredients - both flours, baking soda and baking powder.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
  6. Add in both chocolate chips and stir until combined.
  7. Drop ⅓ cup spoonfuls of dough on a silicone baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Chasing Perfect Book Review

I was excited to find that there were other books in the Fools Gold series after reading a book at the beach in the middle of the series.  Chasing Perfect (Fool's Gold, Book 1) by Susan Mallery was a great book for summer reading.  I was excited that the library had the beginning of the series so I started back at the beginning to find out what I missed!!

Welcome to Fool's Gold, California, a charming community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. There's lots to do and plenty of people to meet, especially women. Because there's just one tiny problem in Fool's Gold: the men don't seem to stick around. Maybe it's the lure of big-city life, or maybe it's plain old bad luck, but regardless of the reason, the problem has to be fixed, fast. And Charity Jones may be just the city planner to do it.

Charity's nomadic childhood has left her itching to settle down, and she immediately falls in love with all the storybook town has to offer—everything, that is, except its sexiest and most famous resident, former world-class cyclist Josh Golden. With her long list of romantic disasters, she's not about to take a chance on another bad boy, even if everyone else thinks he's perfect just the way he is. But maybe that's just what he needs—someone who knows the value of his flaws. Someone who knows that he's just chasing perfect.

Loved it! After reading something in the middle of this series that I had gotten at one of the summer reading programs last year while we were at the beach, I was excited to start at the beginning of the series.  I was great writing and wonderful characters that had you cheering for Charity to get everything she wanted.  Charity had a tough life growing up with her mother who had no rules and moved around a lot so the only thing that Charity was looking for was some place to settle down and start a family.  She found Fools Gold after landing a great job in the government there.  After settling into the small town, she realized how much she loved living there and having the whole town support her even if they are always involved in all of her business.  She quickly has feelings for Josh Golden who grew up in the small town and she is fighting her feelings the best that she can.  But you will have to pick up the book to find out what happens!!  I hope that you check out this book and others in the series at your local library or bookstore soon.  I know that you will like them as much as I have!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Forgotten Recipe Book Review

I  was excited to find one book by this wonderful author at the library so I put it on the reserve list.  The Forgotten Recipe (An Amish Heirloom Novel) by Amy Clipston came in and I was so excited that it jumped in front of other books in the pile but I was excited to read it and it happened to be the only one that I was reading that wasn't in a series of books.

After losing her fiancĂ© in a tragic accident, Veronica Fisher finds solace in the old recipes stored in her mother’s hope chest—and in a special visitor who comes to her bake stand to purchase her old-fashioned raspberry pies. Veronica Fisher knows how lucky she is to be marrying her best friend. Seth Lapp is kind, hardworking, and handsome—but most importantly, he loves Veronica.
When an accident on the job steals Seth away from her, a heartbroken Veronica is certain she will never love—or be loved—again. Yet when she discovers a batch of forgotten recipes and opens a bake stand to sell her Mammi’s raspberry pies, Veronica picks up a regular customer  who gives her heart pause.

Jason Huyard was with Seth when he lost his life—a memory that haunts him still. So when he seeks out the grieving fiancĂ©e to convey his condolences, the last thing he expects—or wants—is to fall in love. Nonetheless, Jason soon finds himself visiting Veronica’s bake stand every week . . . and it’s for more than the raspberry pies. Now, as Veronica’s heart thaws, Jason can’t bring himself to tell her he was there when Seth died. Can he ever reveal where he was on the day her life derailed? Or will his secret rob them of the second chance at love they both want?

I thought it was a great book and spent a lot of time reading it when I should have been sleeping.  I know that I shouldn't pick up the books before falling asleep because I can't stop reading.  On the other hand, my husband decides that he wants to go to bed and he climbs into bed lays down and he is sleeping in minutes.  I let the story distract me from getting settled down to sleep but sometimes you have a page turner like this one and don't want to put it down even if your eyes are really tired.  Veronica Fisher decided that she would be sad and alone because she lost her fiance in a tragic accident.  Her family is trying to help her through the pain but they are pushing her to give life a chance to heal her.  In the process, she finds her grandmother's recipes and starts making raspberry pies which she sells at a farm stand in front of her house.  These pies and her increased confidence (not to mention a special man), help her to grown and heal.  Pick up the book for yourself and see how these wonderful characters evolve and change throughout the book.  I hope that you check out this book and others by this great author!!  I can't wait until I find more at the book sales or through the library to read soon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Bishop's Daughter Book Review

I was excited to get the third book in the series.  I had enjoyed the rest of the series and I was looking forward to finding out what the next installment was going to reveal.  If you like a little mystery in your Amish fiction, this is the perfect series for you!!  The Bishop's Daughter (DAUGHTERS OF LANCASTER COUNTY) by Wanda E. Brunstetter was a great final book in the series.  I never know what is going to happen next and it had me staying up all night to finish reading this book.

Leona is Bishop Jacob Weaver's daughter and a dedicated teacher in a one-room Amish schoolhouse. After her father's tragic accident, Leona's faith wavers. How could God allow something like this to happen to one of His servants? Outlander Jimmy Scott comes to Pennsylvania in search of his real family. When he is hired to paint an Amish schoolhouse, Jimmy and Leona find themselves irresistibly drawn to each other. Can anything good come from the love between an Amish woman and an English man? What secrets will be revealed and what miracles await God's people in Lancaster County? The Bishop's Daughter is book 3 in the Daughters of Lancaster County series.

I loved this conclusion to the series!!  It was a great story of hope when Leona overcomes all of the hardships in her life after the death of her finance and sinks herself into her work as a school teacher.  She encounters many obstacles but is constantly reminded that her faith in God will get her through.  There is a lot of problems when she has feelings for an English man and her father.  She loves her family and would never leave them to be with a man but Jimmy is run out of town for the good of Leona.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens next!!  I hope that you enjoy this book and the others in the series.  The wonderful characters and great writing have given me great trouble in being able to put it down!!!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Middle of the Month July Budget Update

I keep a budget of $160 per month for all of my household spending including groceries and other household goods (like laundry detergent, cleaners and toilet paper) for my family of 3.  I make a menu plan at the end of the previous month with the items that we have in the house and try to make my grocery list based on the items that are on sale for the best prices.  Often times that means getting lots of the same item when it is at the lowest price.  The great news is that leaves lots of room to get the best deals on things even if it isn't always what we need right then.  We use what is on hand and work the food into the meal plan as needed.

There were a few questions asking me how I came up with my budget.  About 5 years ago, I quit my job to stay home with my son and we decided to live on the smaller of our two incomes because my husband's job was way more secure working in local government then mine in sales (good decision because everyone in my office was laid off within a year or two of me leaving).  I did this budget for my own sanity before I quit my job to make sure that we could make ends meet.  I figured that I would revisit it eventually as my son got older but it has been working for the last three or four years without too many problems.

I did my normal shopping and kept track of how much I spent for the month.  The next month, I made a goal to cut back.  Over the next few months, I cut back to see how much was reasonable to spend and where the breaking point was and $160 turned out to be just enough money to make it through the month without it being too hard even though we might have to give up some extras like soda or expensive crackers.  Both things that my husband and son thinks are needs so we had a discussion over the last few years about needs versus wants.  We try to balance the needs and the wants and get enough to keep us fed and happy and $160 seems to be able to do that.  I am not saying that this is a magic number for other families to strive for or a goal that is reasonable for anyone but it works for us with strict cooking at home from scratch and shopping with sales and coupons.  We eat lots of homemade goodies (currently chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls and banana bread) as well as I bake all of our bread and from scratch weekly.  It is a little more work on my side to plan ahead and be ready to make dinner every night with a busy schedule.  I try to limit out take out and eating out budget to $25 per month unless it is vacation but we only spent around $75 eat out on vacation so we didn't go too crazy.

In case you aren't following along in the saga that is my horrible June spending and the resulting decisions that had to be made.  I was almost double my monthly budget in one month because of extra spending for vacation and other stockup deals.  The great part is that I did save a ton of money but I decided to put the past behind me (you can see my reasoning here if you missed it with my middle of year budget update) and start fresh with the new month. So here is what I got for July so far:

Safeway $1.38

This was while we were still on vacation but my husband and son went out and got two doughnuts which we split.  One with sprinkles and one without.  They were pretty tasty and it was vacation so even though we had tons of breakfast options at home, I know that we enjoyed these tasty treats.

Walmart $0.88

My husband got a cut on his knee that was starting to look a little funky with the sea water and the pool water so we did a drive by to get peroxide which fixed it right up.  We were almost out at home so it went right into the medicine cabinet when we got home.

Target $2.84

When we got home, we ordered a game for my son online that he really wanted and went to pick it up at Target.  We also needed to get some replacement straws for his camelbak bottles because he chewed through the sippy part.  They were on sale cheaper on line but for some reason we couldn't order them but they were at the store.  The man told me that I could have the cashier price match and she gladly did without any problems and I got a cartwheel off in addition!!! I didn't count the cost of them into my budget because they are basically back to school supplies so that I don't have to buy new bottles even though my son was pulling for new ones.  We also grabbed another bottle of vitamins for my son which was counted into the budget.  They seem to have stopped carrying any kind that he likes so we are brand jumping now and there was another cartwheel so they were pretty cheap and he likes them so bonus!

Aldi $26.48

This was my first trip to the store after getting home from vacation.  I was fairly sure we didn't need anything by milk and lunch meat.  I was going to put off the milk purchase because my son doesn't drink as much in the summer time as the winter so it is going bad quickly but it was $1.69 or $1.99 (I lost the receipt somewhere in my bottomless bag of junk)

Aldi $6.51

We were totally out of eggs and I wanted to make banana bread with the bananas that I bought that were no good.  I also found a lime on sale for $0.19 so I grabbed that so that I could make lime chicken like we had on vacation which was amazing.  My husband likes my seasoned oyster crackers for lunch with his turkey sandwich so I stocked up on both so that I wouldn't have to go back when we ran out next week.

Harris Teeter $0

I got an email from Nathalie (check out her blog here) to check out the freebies at Harris Teeter.  Thanks for the heads up because I would have missed them and been sad.  Both were on my card but only available on Saturday.  Saturday was a tough day to make it to the store between our trip to the library and Lakeshore Learning to do a craft for my son and rush home to leave for a BBQ.  I ended up making my husband stop and drop me there so I could run around and grab them when I was already running late to get to my sister in laws house.  Both were still in stock in that store and didn't even cost tax (sorry for the blurry picture but I took it in the car while we were moving)!!!  WOO HOO!!  

Total OOP $38.09

I think that was an amazing first half of the month even though I got more then we needed at Aldi during my first trip.  It will never go to waste so that is the good thing but I really didn't have a clue what we had at home because we had been away so long so I grabbed some extras.  I am sure that we are going to have low spending this month because I am going to try to stretch everything that we have already and so that I can spend more time with my son.  I don't tend to coupon as much over the summer because we spend a lot of time together as a family and I don't get a lot of time at the store.  I guess we will see what comes up for the second half of the month.

How are you doing so far this month?

Menu Plan Monday 7/18

Tuesday- Pasta with sausage and garlic bread
Wednesday-Little Caesars Pizza with friends
Thursday- Hamburger Helper Philly Cheese steak Pasta
Friday- French Dip Sloppy Joe with mac and cheese
Saturday- Chicken fries and buffalo chicken with homemade french fries
Sunday- Leftovers

I can't believe how far we are into the month already.  I didn't do a great job of making a meal plan at the beginning of the month except for two days a week.  The rest of the week has been on a week to week basis.  It has actually worked out okay because I have planned for exactly what I have and what I need because every week the schedule is a little different.  I hope that this week works out well and I get flexibility to make the week work for our busy schedule.  I hope that you have a tasty week and stay cool!!

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Quilter's Daughter Book Review

I enjoyed the first book in the series so much that I picked up this book as soon as finishing.
The Quilter's Daughter (DAUGHTERS OF LANCASTER COUNTY) by Wanda E. Brunstetter was the next book in the series.  I was excited to start reading and couldn't put it down.  I should probably stop complaining about all the things that I can't get done and just give up reading.  I think that I would have a lot more time...well, I know that isn't happening.

Abby Miller leaves her successful quilt shop and patient fiance in Ohio to help her newly remarried and now pregnant mother in Lancaster County. While she's away, Abby's world is shattered in one fell swoop. How can God make anything good come out of this tragedy? With shaken faith, Abby is forced to look for answers away from friends and family. Will she find them in the ashes of the past, in her love of quilting, or in the heart of an overlooked Amish man? Can her faith withstand the flames of tragedy? The Quilter's Daughter is book 2 in the Daughters of Lancaster's County series.

I enjoyed this book as much as the first.  Unlike other books in a series, they might talk about he same town and different people.  In this book, all of the people are part of the same small town and you get to know another person more but the awesome part is that is that they are all overlapping and mostly related to each other.  I am always pulling for the main person in the book and this time was no exception.  Abby was having the best time settling into her new life helping her now pregnant mother in Pennsylvania even though she left her life behind in Ohio.  She put off going back to Ohio and her life totally changed which she blames on herself.  She learns to deal with the pain and grows to her new life.  I hope that you pick up this book and see what a wonderful character and great writing is in this series.  I know that you will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed it!!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Storekeeper's Daughter Book Review

I was doing my best to go through my shelf of unread books that I got for free mostly last summer but over the last year at different library events when I found a book that was part of a series.  I looked at the library and they had the rest of the series at my local library so I decided to grab it the next time that I was there.  I just read the first book in the series Storekeeper's Daughter (DAUGHTERS OF LANCASTER COUNTY) by Wanda E. Brunstetter!  I can't wait to pick up the rest after not being able to put this one down.

Time seems to stand still in Naomi Fisher's tranquil community, but it cannot hold back tragedy. Helping her widowed father run a store, manage a household, and raise seven children is a daunting task. There is no time to think about courtship or having her own family, though her heart yearns for the attention of Caleb Hoffmeir. But her days are plotted for her-until the afternoon her baby brother disappears from the yard. How can Naomi expect anyone to love and trust her if she can't take care of one small boy? Should she leave all that is familiar and seek a new avenue of life? The Storekeeper's Daughter is book 1 in the bestselling Daughters of Lancaster County series now available in mass market.

This book was a great story following the story of the storekeeper's daughter, Naomi.  She makes a deathbed promise to watch all her brothers and sisters as her mom is laying dying and she is left to raise 7 brothers and sisters, keep house, run the store and do all of both her and her mom's responsibilities.  Her father is grieving and therefore unable to help and support her or let her live her own life.  She has given up everything to make sure that she helps her family by even giving up her own chance at a future family.  Everything changes when her brother is kidnapped and she changes her life forever but you have to pick up the book to find out what happens.  I think that you will be surprised...I know that I was!  I hope that you check out this book and the rest in the series.  I can't wait to read the next one!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Off Season Book Review

I picked this up somewhere because it was sitting on shelf waiting to be read that didn't get read because of all the library books but these are the perfect books to bring on vacation because I am not a fan of bringing library books to the beach.  Off Season by Jean Stone was one of the beach reads that I picked for my vacation reading.

Jean Stone is a gifted writer of romantic tales that capture the unique feel of New England while introducing characters who live in readers' hearts forever. Her latest novel is her most moving work to date, the story of a woman who gave up everything she had for the man she loved -- but must now find the strength to stand by him during his darkest hour.... Once Jill McPhearson had a life any woman would envy: a successful career as a television anchorwoman and a handsome fiance. But she gave up everything to start anew in her childhood home of Martha's Vineyard. For Jill, carving out a new, lower-profile career on the island is a struggle. But falling in love -- and then marrying -- local carpenter Ben Niles feels natural and seamless. It feels right. Steady, rugged Ben...the man who makes Jill feel she has it all -- or at least all she really needs. But when Ben is accused of a shocking crime, Jill's world turns upside down -- and everything she thought she knew is called into question. The small-town island life Jill loves is suddenly unbearable, as Ben and Jill try to hide their terrible secret from everyone they love. And now Jill must ask herself: how do you recapture a life that may never have existed in the first place?

Jill McPhearson had a successful career working on television news and decided to leave it to have an easier life in her childhood home with her daughter.  She married Ben Niles and lived on Martha's Vineyard to leave her whole old life behind but she is having trouble getting her segments recognized because she has been blackballed from the TV community.  Then Ben is accused of a crime and her whole life goes off track.  Although I was screaming at the character at this point because she was really selfish and made horrible decisions, I think that it is truly human nature to do so.  The book had great writing and interesting characters which you were rooting to succeed.  They had lots of obstacles to overcome and I was hoping that it would work out for all of them.  You have to read to find out if it did.  I am interested to check out other books by this author because I have never read her before so I am going to investigate some other books.  I hope that you check this one out and let me know if there are any others written by her that I need to check out next.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

June Readings Review

I was ready to start the summer off strong with lots of reading because the summer tends to be the time that I get lots of reading done while I am patiently waiting for my son at the pool or camp or just to get moving but summer wasn't actually starting until the very end of the month.  I was thinking because it was so hot and sticky out that I would have more time inside but there were lots of things to do including soccer, getting ready for vacation and normal busy life.  The strangest thing happened in the middle of the month but there were no books left in the pile!!!  No review books or books from the library so I went to my shelf and pulled a book that I hadn't read from books that I got last summer.  I did still get some reading done whether review or from the library which you can check out below.

If you click on the title of the book, it will link you back to my initial review of the book.  I hope that a few of these books are going to be added to your list that you might want to read.  Let me know if there are any that I should add to my summer reading list.  I am going to looking forward to a lot of light reading this summer!!!  Hope you do too!!

by Richard Mabry, MD

by Rose Chandler Johnson

by Varina Denman

by Varina Denman

by Varina Denman

by Amy Clipston

by Marta Perry

by Susan Wiggs

by Susan Mallery

Reading for 2016

January           13
February          11
March              9
April                 8
May                 9
June                 9

Total Books     59

Currently Reading:


Stay Tuned for Reviews of these books next month!!!