Monday, October 31, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 10/31

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken and homemade fries
Tuesday- Roast Chicken
Wednesday- Pasta with garlic bread and sausage
Thursday- Salsa Sloppy Joes
Friday- Lasagna
Saturday- Paninis with leftovers
Sunday-Waffles and hash browns with eggs

Last week was totally changed yet again because we ended up with leftovers on Tuesday and changed Wednesday to the Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken that we didn't have last week.  We moved the pasta meal to Thursday and ended up with Leftovers and Salad on Friday after a long week.  We went with the Chicken and Rice Casserole that we were supposed to have on Thursday to Saturday so I guess things were just moved back until I had the energy to make them!!!  We made it through mostly in one piece.  Hoping for a less busy week this week but I don't think that it is in my to have a slow week!!!  AHHH!!!

I really need to learn to say NO!!  I signed up to do a bunch of things last week like the book fair at my son's school and things that had me out of the house all day.  It is hard to catch up but I have plans to get lots of ground beef cooked tonight when making tacos to get some other meals ready and in the freezer for the coming weeks but I also committed to going to a Halloween Party for my son and then I have to go to work after so I have a window in between to get this massive cooking prep done.  I may have over scheduled again!!! 

How is your week looking??

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Christian's Hope Book Review

I looked at the description of the book and thought it sounded interesting but it was a historic fiction so I wasn't interested.  I read the description a second time and decided that I still wanted to read it.  Christian's Hope (Return to Northkill) by Ervin R. Stutzman was the third book in the series that I hadn't read but I was eager to start reading it!!

When Christian Hochstetler returns to the Amish after seven years in captivity, he finds that many things have shifted. Captured as a child during the French and Indian War, Christian has spent much of his life among Native Americans, who cared for him and taught him their ways. Now that Christian is home, his father wants him to settle back into their predictable Amish life of farming, and Christian's budding friendship with Orpha Rupp beckons him to stay as well.
Yet Christian feels restless, and he misses his adoptive Native American family--who raised him as their own son. When faced with a life-altering decision, will Christian choose the Amish identity that his father desires for him? Or will he depart from his family and faith community yet again?
Christian's Hope tells the story of the younger brother of Joseph and son of Jacob, whom readers have come to love in the first two books in the Return to Northkill series. Based on actual events and written by a descendant of the Hochstetler family, Christian's Hope brings the sweeping epic of the Return to Northkill series to a soul-stirring end

I have not read the other books in the series so this was my first book getting to know these characters and what was going on.  It was a little of a slow start for me because I had to get to know all the history of the characters but I jumped right into it and couldn't put it down.  Christian is fighting between his birth culture of the Amish and the one that he grew up in with the Indians.  There is a lot of talk about how all of the "white" people hate the "savages" which I think was a little repetitive after awhile and I would rather be showed instead of told over and over.  The book was made up three parts and I felt that it got much faster paced in the second and third section.  After going through the whole book, it was a good read which I enjoyed.  I wish that I got to read the first two books in the series but I will have to add them to my reading list.  I hope that you check out this book soon and let me know what you think!!

**I was provided a copy of the book to read from the publishers but all opinions here are my own.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

An Amish Family Christmas Book Review

I was so excited to have the opportunity to get to read the third and the fourth book in the Charmed lift series in a row because it is so hard to leave things unfinished and what could be better then a Christmas book!!!  Love the Christmas books because there is always so many things going on with the holidays and the families that you are never bored.  An Amish Family Christmas: A Charmed Amish Life Christmas Novel by Shelley Shepard Gray is the fourth book in the Charmed Amish Life series and a wonderful next step with the great characters.

Ever since his father died in a tragic fire, Levi Kinsinger has felt adrift. Newly returned to Charm, Ohio, Levi is trying to fit into his old life, only to discover he seems to have outgrown it.
But when Julia, his young widowed neighbor, asks for his help with a Christmas project, Levi finds a sense of purpose for the first time in months. She and her daughter are new to Charm and could use a friend, a job Levi takes personally. Soon enough, friendship grows into attraction, but Levi can’t help having doubts. There’s something about Julia that doesn’t ring quite true…

Like Levi, Julia Kemps has survived her fair share of hardships—but only by hiding the truth of her past. Being an unmarried mother in an Amish community was unthinkable. Feeling hopeless, Julia did the only thing she could do: she moved to a new town and pretended to be a widow. But meeting Levi, she’s hopeful for the first time. Little by little, she begins to imagine telling him her darkest secret, and eventually…perhaps even sharing her life with him.
Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together…in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.

I love Levi and enjoyed his homecoming to the small town.  He left after having a hard time dealing with his fathers death.  While living in Pinecraft, Flordia, he learned and grew a lot but came home as soon as he got the call from his family.  There was an adjustment to having all his family around him again with all their opinions so he moved out on his own to try to have a better start.  With lots of hard work, he was burying himself in the family business and still not making a life for himself.  He ends up meeting his neighbors and starts to fell connections to this new neighborhood beyond just his family ties.  I loved to watch both Levi and Julia grow in this neighborhood and begin to count on others again.  A wonderful holiday story that lifts the spirits and opens your heart.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did!!  I know that if you check out this book and all the other books in the Charmed Life series, you will enjoying these page turning stories.  Make sure you pick them all up so that you have them all when you start because you won't want to wait to get started on the next book!!

** I was given a copy this book from the publishers but all opinions here are my own.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Sister's Wish Book Review

I was so excited to see that the next installment of this great series was out because I really enjoyed the first two books in the series a lot.  The Charmed Amish life series introduces the third book in the series with A Sister's Wish: The Charmed Amish Life, Book Three by Shelley Shepard Gray.  I couldn't wait to get to this book and I love how it followed along with the theme of the other books in the series.

Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman—at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she’s also harboring a secret: She’s been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he’s about as far from “perfect” as an Amish man could get… but that’s exactly why she’s so drawn to him.

Life hasn’t been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he’s determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past…unless it pertains to Amelia.

He’s loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas—who just happens to be Simon’s best friend—has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he’s the only one who can truly make her happy.

But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together—and face their past mistakes. There’s a chance for love… but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.

It was a great next book in the series which started right where the other books left off.  I really liked the first two books but this book was so much better for me because it was many resolutions that you were waiting for after the first two books.  I enjoyed the relationship between Simon and Amelia and watching them both blossom.  The great characters and great writing really come to great resolutions in this book.  There are lots of twists and turns in this book including a hospital stay and finding lost siblings.  It was an emotional book that had me waiting to find out next.  I hope that you pick up this book and the others in the series to enjoy soon too!!  I think that you will love them as much as I have because my only complaint is that it was over too soon.  The great news is that the had the next book in the series to read next!!  Stay tuned for that review soon!!!

**I was given a copy of the book by the publisher but all opinions here are my own.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cook's Country Eats Local Cookbook Review

I grabbed this book while I was at the library and I was excited to read it.  It quickly got moved to the bottom of the pile because I found so many recipes that I couldn't live without.  I had to start marking the ones that I wanted to copy down but I came up with so many that I actually made a few notes and added to my list of books that I might want to buy soon!!  Cook's Country Eats Local: 150 Regional Recipes You Should Be Making No Matter Where You Live by Cook's Country has lots of great recipes that you might want to check out for yourself.

150 Regional Recipes You Should Be Making No Matter Where You Live
From Maine’s hearty Joe Booker Stew to pineapple-packed Hawaiian Fried Rice, this collection of recipes brings bold local flavors and tried-and-true cooking techniques home—no matter where that may be. Home cooks will discover little-known spe- cialties and revamped classics in each of the four chapters: New England and the Mid-Atlantic, Appalachia and the South, The Midwest and Great Plains, Texas and the West. Colorful local history and anecdotes from Cook’s Country’s tasty travels bring the recipes to life, and illustrated maps and a list of test kitchen–approved hot spots show you where you can try the inspiring original dishes today. Step-by-step photography illustrates key techniques, and full-color photos for every recipe showcase the beauty of the collection. From tailgate staples like Southern Football Sandwiches and Wisconsin Grilled Brats and Beer to old-school sweets like Hollywood’s Tick Tock Orange Sticky Rolls and New York’s Bee Sting Cake, Cook’s Country Eats Local puts an array of flavorful, diverse American dishes within reach—no road trip needed.

I made a list of a ton of recipes that I couldn't live without and the top of the list is a Spiedie Chicken marinate which I hope to make soon.  I normally get a big bottle of the marinate from my parents as a Christmas gift because we love to enjoy it on the grill in the summer.  It makes a mess if cooked in the house so hoping that this recipe might be nice inside too!!  I guess we will see if it just adds to or replaces the other marinate!!  There are a ton of dishes that sound fabulous as well as a long list of desserts (because I always love the treats).  Some of the great meal recipes include Iowa Loose Meat Sandwiches, Crispy Beef Taquitos, Jo Jo Potatoes, Sweet Potato Biscuits, Dilly Casserole Bread, Ballpark Pretzels and New England Bar Pizza.  The desserts that shined for me was the Wellesley Fudge Cake, Summer Blueberry Crumble, Blackberry Jam Cake, Moravian Sugar Cake, Tick Tock Orange Sticky Rolls, St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake, and Kringle.  I added it to my list of books that I might buy if my husband gets another free book through his job as a thank you gift because I didn't have book on my list last time and he missed the deadline so I was super sad!!  This is a great book even though the last thing you might need is another cookbook, check it out at the library so that you don't put it on your shelf but you just might end up buying it anyway when you make a list of the recipes you like!!  I hope that you check out this yummy cookbook and see some of these great recipes yourself.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 10/24

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken and homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta with garlic bread and sausage
Wednesday- Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken
Thursday- Chicken and Rice Casserole
Friday- Paninis and leftovers
Saturday-Breakfast for Dinner
Sunday- ?

Last week was terrible to keep on track because of my sick husband so I made notes on last week's menu with all the changes.  I ended up working every day last week including Saturday and Sunday.  I made french dip sandwiches on Saturday.  So we gave up and bought pizza on Sunday before I had to go to work.  We ended up with hash browns one day for lunch and pancakes for dinner so it was all over the place.  I was exhausted and just couldn't imagine doing any more cooking and we were really out of leftovers by the end of the week.  I am hoping that with my husband on the mend that we might have a better week this week.  Too much leftover lasagna from his parents visit so we are taking it off the menu this week because I don't want it again so soon!!  Hope you enjoy your week and have lots of tasty meals!

Friday, October 21, 2016

40 Days to Joyful Motherhood Book Review

I was excited to see the cover of this "colorful" book because it shows some beautiful pictures and provides both devotions and coloring book to nourish mom.  40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood: Devotions and Coloring Book to Nourish Mom by Sarah Humphrey seemed like a book that would interest me because I am a mom and after a library program with coloring, realized that it is very relaxing.  I was hoping that this would be a great match for me.

Wouldn't it be marvelous if mothering came with a concrete set of instructions—an easy recipe we could follow? Instead, motherhood challenges women to find their faith, their true selves, and their family through daily doses of trial and error. It is a brilliant and healing time of life that is full of joy, pain, and beauty with a small side of crisis (and humor). What mothers do not know, they learn. And through this lifelong process of learning, they nurture and care for the most precious gifts on earth: children. In a modern society where moms often have a full and busy plate, these 10 minute daily devotions focus on six key topics of motherhood: • Self-acceptance • Self-care • Reconciling with grief, hope and expectations • Generosity • Presence • Forgiveness In addition to the devotions, these beautiful pages are adorned with handmade illustrations to help you refresh from long days or even occasional sleepless nights. So, grab your colors and a little quiet time for yourself while doodling at the kitchen table. You will be grateful you did!

I think that the title was a little misleading for the book.  The book was mostly about early motherhood and how to deal with lack of sleep and making a new life with kids.  I was looking for more uplifting information about any stage of motherhood.  The book has an introduction from the author and one from her husband and then goes into the substance of the book.  There was a introduction to each section and then one devotion for each picture.  Just getting to the actual coloring and relaxation part was a little more involved then I expected.  It is also specifically set up as one a day which is a lot for busy moms to get to done in a day.  There were about 42 pictures to actually color through the book and many had words and other things on them that didn't make them the relaxing pictures that I was expecting and not all were full page pictures but rather things that you should writing information on so it was more of a journal with coloring on them.  I thought getting some uplifting thought and then coloring while thinking about it would be good but I didn't really see that for me because some of the topics were tougher like miscarriage (day 13) or how our body changed (day 14).  It wasn't the book that I was looking for but I like the idea of an uplifting message with a page to zone out and color to relax but if you are looking for more of a devotional for new mothers, this would be a perfect fit.

**I was provided a copy for my review but all opinions here are my own.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Healing Quilt Book Review

I was excited to get to the last book in the Half Stitched Quilting Club and meet the new quilting students and see Emma and Lamar's next chapter in The Healing Quilt by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  I really enjoyed getting to know the new characters and visiting with the old ones!!  I hope that you check out this book and others in the series.

Retired Amish newlyweds Emma and Lamar Miller have decided to buy a winter place in Sarasota, Florida. But it wouldn’t feel like home if Emma didn’t take her quilting materials and offer classes. Wounded and hurting people have a knack for finding their way to her classes for some quilting therapy: Jennifer, a pregnant new mom; Mike, a charter boat owner; Erika, a wheelchair-bound teen; Kim, a waitress; Noreen, a newly-retired widow; and BJ, an artist facing illness. And when Jan, visits from Indiana, romance is also added to the class discussions.

I enjoyed this book and getting to know the new Florida setting for the quilting classes.  Every time there is a quilting class offered, Emma and Lamar meet more people who are hurting or need help.  Through their support and friendship, the people of the class grow and heal.  This time was no different with needing jobs, stronger marriages, health issues and more.  The characters in the book spend 6 weeks learning to quilt and end up with so much more then just quilting but their lives are changed.  If you don't know how that could possibly happen, pick up this book and check it out for yourself!!  I hope that you enjoy this book and the others in the series as much as I did!!  I hope that you add this book to your reading list.

I almost forgot to share the great recipe at the end of the book!!

Emma's Raisin Molasses Cookies

2 c raisins
1 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c molasses
4 c flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Rinse and drain raisins.  In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar.  Add eggs and beat well.  Blend in molasses.  Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.  Blend into creamed mixture.  Stir in raisins.  Drop by teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes.  Yields 6 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Hawaiian Quilt Book Review

I picked up this book at the library because on first glance I thought it was part of the series the Half Stitched Amish Quilters Club but it wasn't!!  The Hawaiian Quilt by Wanda E. Brunstetter is a book that stands on it's own.  I was glad to move this up to the top of the pile when the book was almost due back at the library.  I got a chance to read it before it was due back even though I got way too many books over the last few times at the library.  I was happy to find out what was going to happen in Hawaii!!

Mandy Frey has always longed to see Hawaii. So before joining the Amish church and considering marriage to her boyfriend, Gideon, she convinces three friends to join her on a cruise of the Hawaiian Islands.  Captured by the enchanting scenery and culture in Hawaii, their vacation turns into an extended stay. Special friendships are soon made, but home, family, and Gideon await Mandy back in Indiana. Will time away from the Amish community change Mandy's view of the world, her faith, and true love? Does a Hawaiian quilt have the power to bring two hearts together?

This was an unexpected book because I really thought it was going to be the newest book in the series that I was reading by Wanda Brunstetter.  The great news is that it isn't but still has great characters and great writing.  The bad news is that the description above found on Amazon is not great.  The main story line is that four Amish best friends save up money to go on a cruise to Hawaii because this is their last chance before settling into the Amish church.  They share a small room and go off on adventures on the ship and through the islands of Hawaii when the boat docks.  They are enjoying their vacation together until things go wrong when Mandy looses her cell phone.  I have never been to Hawaii so this was a great picture into the island through the eyes of the characters.  It really makes you want to visit and check out some of the awesome sights.  Mandy enjoyed Hawaii and the people so much that it was hard for her to think about leaving while her friends were eager to get home to friends and family.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens!!  I hope that you add this book to your reading list and enjoy it as much as I did!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 10/17

Monday- Tacos with spicy rice
Tuesday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken and homemade fries
Wednesday- Pasta with garlic bread and sausage (had leftover lasagna and other leftovers in the fridge like the tacos from Monday)
Thursday- Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken (HAHA, nope.  My son and I ate hash browns and my husband slept through dinner so probably had soup at some point)
Friday- Paninis and leftovers (My husband had corn dogs, my son had spaghetti, and I had BLT)
Saturday-Roast Chicken (Never took the chicken out because I had to work at 3 pm so didn't happen)
Sunday-Breakfast for Dinner

Last week was kind of a mess!!  Monday and Tuesday went according to plan until company arrived on Wednesday.  I totally had to change the plans for the week so I made a huge lasagna on Wednesday with some rolls from the store and a chopped salad.  I made lots of lasagna so actually had lots of lunch the next day, YEAH!!  I made a whole chicken with stuffing, sweet potatoes, french onion potatoes, and green beans.  On Friday I was out of ideas and energy so it was a little mix of a meal with Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Fries, Homemade French Fries and Salsa Sloppy Joes which everyone seemed to enjoy.  Saturday was dinner out after mini golf which my sister in law picked up the tab for our pizza and my husband bought ice cream afterwards.  Then guests were gone and my husband and were exhausted and sick so it was homemade doughnuts in the morning which held over all of us until an early dinner where my son and I had hash browns while my husband was sleeping.  Then I had to go to work so we got to have a little treat when we came home of the ice cream that our company left behind.

We are hoping for a better week this week but I don't have a clue when  my husband will be feeling better.  I think that I fought off most of it with a nap Saturday in the car while they were playing mini golf and another nap on Sunday.  My husband doesn't like to eat anything but soup when he is sick so the days are going to be changing based on what my husband feels like eating.  We are currently out of the taco powder that we normally prefer so we are going to use what we have on hand.  The great news is that I have a lot of things that I need to use up on hand that will go into meals this week.  Also great news is that since I had everything already to make for the three meals, my company brought other things to replace items that I needed like potatoes, eggs and popcorn which went directly into the stockpile to help out for the rest of the month.  Here is hoping that there isn't lots more to buy for the month but finally at the half way point!!  Hope you enjoy your meals and have a great week!!

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Devoted Book Review

I was excited to get another book by Suzanne Woods Fisher because she always has great writing and characters.  I was even more excited when I found out it was part of a series that I had already started reading... now I just had to wait not so patiently for it to come in the mail.  I cheereed when I opened it up but was sad because it had to go behind a ton of other books that were already on my shelf to read.  Luckily, The Devoted: A Novel (The Bishop's Family) by Suzanne Woods Fisher came quickly to the top of the pile and I got a chance to read it.

Bright, curious, and restless, Ruthie Stoltzfus loves her family but is stuck in a sea of indecision about her future: Should she stay Amish? Or should she leave? She's done all she can to prepare to go--passed the GED, saved her money--but she can't quite set her journey into motion.  Patrick Kelly is a young man on a journey of his own. He's come to Stoney Ridge to convert to the Amish and has given himself thirty days to learn the language, drive a buggy, and adapt to "everything Plain." Time, to Patrick, is of the essence. Every moment is to be cherished, especially the hours he spends with Ruthie, his Penn Dutch tutor.  Ruthie's next-door neighbor and cunning ex-boyfriend, Luke Schrock, is drawn to trouble like a moth to a flame. Rebellious, headstrong, defiant, Luke will do anything to win Ruthie back--anything--and Patrick Kelly is getting in his way.

I have enjoyed this series a lot!  This book was no different with the great characters and writing of all of Suzanne Woods Fisher's books.  The characters are dealing with the difference between the Amish and English worlds and making the choice before they join the church.  Ruthie is growing up a lot in this book and trying to make decisions while working as a tutor for an English boy, Patrick, who is looking to become Amish.  The questions and calm introspection that Patrick has is a wonderful tool to help Ruthie make some of the tough decisions for herself.  With the help of her Aunt Ruth who has joined the English world and become a doctor, Ruthie feels that she should make a difference in the world by helping people too.  Ruthie makes lots of tough choices but you need to pick up the book and read about her and all the other great characters in the book.  I hope that you add this book to your wish list because I know that you will enjoy it.


To celebrate the release of her new book, The Devoted, Suzanne Woods Fisher is giving away an iPad Mini!! Head to this page and click on the bar titled THE DEVOTED | SUZANNE WOODS FISHER.

*I got a copy of this book from the publisher to read for this review.  All opinions here are my own and were not a requirement from the publisher.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!! Shopping, Coupons and Deals, Oh My!!

So we had a busy weekend planned with a festival that we go to every year but it rained all day.  Who wants to do an outdoor festival in the rain? NOT ME!!

What else can you do when it rains?? Go grocery shopping of course! I was at the store for way too long and found more and more deals.  The reason I went to the store was to get the Saturday freebies (Swedish fish and Goodness Knows Bar) and the awesome $0.69 per lb whole chickens.  There was a limit of 4 chickens so I got 4 :)

Harris Teeter $31.31

The Puffs tissues were still on sale so I got four boxes for free.  I got two packages of Ivory soap for free after sale and coupon.  I got three packs of the yeast for $0.09 each.  I added the semolina flour to the basket from the clearance without a coupon (GASP!! ) but it was $1.89 and I really want to try to make pasta at home so I figured that it was worth grabbing one.  I got three Pillsbury biscuits and one Pillsbury crescent rolls which were on sale for $1 and I had a coupon for $0.30/2 so they were $0.70 each  which is way more then I normally spend but you will see why below.  I also got two packages of Betty Crocker fruit snacks which were shelf price of $2.99 and they were buy one, get one free and I used the $0.50/2 coupon so they were about $1 each (again way more then I normally pay but see below) and my son is almost out of them for his lunch so he will love this!! The Dixie Crystal Sugar was on sale for $1.97 so I used a coupon to get them for $1.17 which is almost as good as the deal I got the other day on the store brand.

I picked up a ton of deals more then I was expecting because of shelf signs.  I needed two rolls of Jimmy Dean Sausage and I had coupons ready to go to get them at $2 each.  It wasn't a great deal but I was ready to pull together a bunch of lasagna so I really needed it.  Then I saw the hang tag to get bacon for FREE!!!  I grabbed it and it was shelf price of $8.49 and I used a $1 coupon to save a little more so that means that I got an extra $1 off my other groceries.  I got cereal and decided to get the 8 items needed to get the free milk including the Betty Crocker fruit snacks and Pillsbury biscuits which I spent $4.79 but then I got free milk!!  Of course neither deal came off but the customer service person came to fix it at the register.  She just took off the bacon and just handed it back to me and manually entered the coupon for $1 and she took off $3.99 for the milk but it only cost $3.49 so that saved me more money on both deals. 

Harris Teeter $19.98
I got the two Saturday freebies only to go home and realize that they didn't come off the total bill for some reason!!  I went back to get it fixed and this time brought my son with me to help.  Together we did a second transaction with four chickens, three tissues, and three yeast just like before.  I also got a coupon for a free potato so I grabbed that too which I normally use to thicken soup so I got the loaded baked potato.  The main thing that I forgot in the morning was the ricotta cheese which was on sale for $1.50.  There was none of the whole milk one in the section so I grabbed the part skim and then found someone to ask.  She found me the whole milk one and we got lots of laughs but it was my last ingredient to make a bunch of lasagna for the freezer.

I turned in Ibotta rebates for $0.25 off any cereal and $0.25 Pillsbury Grands Biscuits so there is $0.50 in my account.  I have a lot of Saving Star rebates that I should get credited for when those are processed including $1/2 Honey Nut Cheerios, $0.75 Tiny Toast Cereal, $0.50/2 fruit snacks, $1/3 Pillsbury Rolls and there is another one for $0.30/2 for Pillbury Grands which I should also get for $3.55 total.

That being said, I can't pass up the whole chicken price (around $3.50 each) and because I was so far under budget last month, I am going to go a little over budget this month to stock up on the chickens that will last us through the winter months because we normally eat them once a week and enjoy the leftover chicken in lots of other meals like chicken enchiladas, fried rice, quesadillas, and more. Then I also make the chicken stock from the bones so it uses lots out of the $3.50.  I hope to stock up with at least 8 more chicken!!  So back to the store!!

Harris Teeter $34.37+ $7.89

So the whole family went to the store and I did my transaction with most of the stuff pictured here and four chickens and my husband checked out with the last two chickens in the store and three of the yeast.  I used up all the tissue and yeast coupons so consider us full stocked until I get more coupons!!  Super excited to get free Ivory soap and tissues.  Pumped to get the $0.09 yeast.  Also excited to get the Rev wrap which I kept forgetting to get which was $0.50 after coupon and I got two $0.50 rebates back so it was a money maker.  The Prego spaghetti sauce is still confusing me because it was $1.98 with an electronic coupon and printed coupon so I paid $0.48 and I was sure there was a rebate on one of the apps but I couldn't find it but I did get $0.10 back from Mobi Save so it was still a bargain although not free.  The olive oil was totally gone at home so I grabbed this little bottle which was shelf price at $8.99 (CRAZY HIGH) but on sale half off and I had a $0.55 coupon off which doubled so it was $3.40 for a 16 oz bottle.  Is that a good deal??  I forgot to check Aldi to see what theirs is but I remember that Nathalie didn't like one of them so I figured this was a better bet :)  I did get the Buy Two, Get Three Free Deal for the Coke products even though we still have plenty at home because it made it $2.80 a case instead of $6.99.

After the cashier scanned all my items, he told me that the scanner gun doesn't work and the new barcode doesn't scan on the machine so the customer service person had to come over and enter in the amount but he counted all my coupons as $0.50 instead of the different amounts so I quickly had to add them up and it was $14.60 in coupons so he added more money off to the machine so I actually ended up getting an extra $0.60 off because I don't think that he added the two numbers he put in correctly.  

 Either way glad that trip was over but we went straight to Home Depot to pick up insulation so my husband brought the chickens home and put them in the fridge and left the soda in the car for two days.  Oops!!  We were exhausted from getting 30 rolls of insulation for our attic so I think that we totally forgot so my son took a picture of that separate so that is why it is a little blurry because either his camera lens is that dirty or he didn't wait for it to focus but I said great work and finished making dinner so the soda could be cleared to the basement.

Aldi $13.19

I needed oil because I used the last of it and the mozzerella cheese for the top of the lasagnas.  I grabbed the salsa, lettuce, and saltine crackers because we were out of them. I added the celery and sweet potatoes to the cart because they were on sale.  The celery was $0.69 and the sweet potatoes were $0.99 so we are going to be having those soon.

Harris Teeter $6.87

I was in the middle of my crazy cooking spree with my extra surprise day off on Monday.  I had chicken broth on the stove simmering with the bones from the chicken I made the night before with all the leftover veggies in the house.  I made salsa sloppy joes for dinner later in the week.  I also made sausage spaghetti sauce because I was planning on making lots of lasagna.  The kitchen was a disaster after spending the morning cleaning it all up.

I made two smaller pans for the freezer and one big one for dinner with the family this week but I ran out of ricotta cheese!!  I was up to my elbows in lasagna and asked my husband since he was out and closer to the store to stop there and get it but he didn't sound like he was going to say yes.  So I ran to the store and grabbed the last chicken on the shelf and two ricotta just to be safe!!  You can't tell from the picture but I actually finished the container before taking the picture. Luckily I only needed one so there is another one in the fridge which is still good for a long time.

Long story short...too late (don't know what movie that is but I am thinking Clue).  We aren't even at the middle of the month and the budget is most certainly exceeded  the $160 monthly budget.  The great news is I think that I have gotten a lot of things in the month and stocked up on lots of chickens.  I probably will only need milk and a few other perishables for the rest of the month and I am hoping to make due with everything we have at home and my incredibly stocked freezer.

It is packed with chicken broth on most of the first shelf.  The second shelf has bags of chicken and ground beef on the left side and bags of cooked brown rice on the right.  There is another whole line behind of other bags of things like diced onions, onions and celery, enchilada sauce, pizza sauce, and more.  There are two pans of lasagna on top and one pan of stuffing on the bottom.  The third shelf is a bunch of things in the back including more chicken broth and chicken bones to make more broth but the front is a bunch of chickens and there are two tucked in the back so there are 13 chickens in the freezer (one in the fridge for this week and one already eaten).  The bottom section has mostly cubed up toasted bread to make stuffing or bread crumbs at a moments notice.  There are some other things on the door for easy access but it is really jam packed.  I think we are ready to live through a zombie invasion or at least a long winter.

Total Retail $326.07
Total Savings $212.46
Total OOP $113.61

Total Monthly Retail $451.11
Total Monthly Savings $277.10
Total Monthly OOP $174.01

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Wish Book Review

I was excited to read The Wish by Beverly Lewis because I had read so many books by Beverly Lewis so it didn't matter what series it went with it.  I love all the series and have read so many of them so the characters all seem like friends.  I was very excited to see what was going to happen next for this interesting friendship between Leona and Gloria. 

Leona Speicher got the "sister" she'd always dreamed of the day Gloria Gingerich and her family moved to Lancaster County Amish farmland. The Arkansas newcomers seem to be everything a devout Plain family should be, and Leona can't help comparing Gloria's engaging young parents to her own.

Leona's cousin shows a romantic interest in Gloria around the same time as Gloria's older brother expresses his fondness for Leona--it seems likely the two young women will marry into each other's families, remaining close friends for life. Thus, Leona is shocked when the Gingeriches suddenly pack up and disappear after being expelled from the church for reasons no one will discuss. Despite Leona's pleas, Gloria goes with them, leaving more than one broken heart behind.

When Gloria unexpectedly contacts Leona after a silence of several years, Leona makes up her mind to persuade her friend to return to Lancaster County and the Amish ways. Leona's fiancé, the deacon's son, is alarmed when Leona decides to go after Gloria. Will Leona's dearest wish lead to her own undoing?

The wonderful character of Leona shows how she grows as she grows older after loosing her closest friend Gloria when she moved away.  Gloria's family made her drop all ties with the Amish world that they left and they quickly left the Amish life behind for the English world.  I love seeing the Amish and English world in contrast to see all the difference in the culture and how they are different.  I enjoyed reading the changes in characters and how Leona grows up through out the story to realize what her beliefs are and how she is going to follow them.  I hope that you like this book as much as I did!!!  You need to add it to your wish list because this is a great read!!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House as part of their bloggers program. The opinions expressed here are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Quickly Running Out of Stockpile

I find that I stock up on a lot of things and then I think that it will last forever.  Do you feel this way with things because I find that it is that way with everything for us like clothes, shoes, cars and food?  I just bought that shouldn't it last forever!!!

I got so much flour and with the construction at the new house and the selling of the old house, I didn't use as much as I thought so we did move a ton of flour and other baking supplies to the new house.  However, I have ramped up my baking at the new house to meet our food needs and I am almost totally out of the 25 five pound bags we moved (125 lbs!!).  I poured the second to the last bag of flour and the last bag of sugar in my Tupperware tubs.  My flour one is in the bright orange because my mom found a Halloween tub on sale years ago when my other flour container cracked (it was my grandmothers so it was old). The container on the left is my sugar (still my grandmothers but newer so only 20 years old).  I realized that I am going to have to go back to stock up mode.

I grabbed 8 bags of sugar when they were under $1 and I am going to have to get my Wegman's flour because it is on sale for under $1 for the unbleached all purpose that I use regularly.  I am almost out of vital wheat gluten which I used to get in Amish country for cheaper but my parents haven't been there in ages so I know that I am going to have to bite the bullet and get the box at the store.

My husband is down to the last four containers of cranberry juice from my crazy stock up deal so I will have to add a few more to the budget to make sure that he isn't out by the end of the month but I am super thankful that they lasted this long.

I just moved things around in the pantry and I realized that we are down to the last 3 potato soups and 5 chicken noodle soup.  We have plenty of canned tomatoes but the rest of the pantry is sort of bare.  I know that I will be making lots of soup from scratch with the homemade chicken broth that I have in the freezer but having some quick cans on hand is way easier.

We are almost out of our incredible stock pile of Saffron rice.  We used up all the regular flavor and I only have 6-8 left of the spicy flavor.  They are really great mixed up with taco meat to make enchiladas to stretch the meat.  It is a great filler but even better because I got tons of them free with a sale and coupon awhile ago but we are at the bottom so we will be sad to not have them to fall back on.

I used my last bag of popcorn from the freezer from Aldi that I stocked up on last "season" because popcorn is seasonal.  I grabbed four bags at Harris Teeter when they were on sale to hold us over but I only have two left of those.  My son eats popcorn every day for snack at school and I love a little snack of fresh popped popcorn too.  For a special treat at night my husband and I used to enjoy kettle corn that I made but I haven't done it in an age!!  We are going to need a lot more popcorn!

I just used up the rest of the blueberries in my yummy blueberry strudel muffins.  I made some with the the oatmeal yogurt topping that I had left in the cupboard from one that I didn't use.  I love having frozen blueberries to use all year round but they were super little this year so I didn't buy any to save for winter....we will be really sad when there aren't blueberry muffins in the cold months.

I just used the rest of the crunchy peanut butter that I only buy to make cookies.  I love peanut butter cookies and I rarely make them.  My son doesn't eat them so it seems a little weird to make things that only my husband and I enjoy but I got some crunchy peanut butter on sale and with coupon for free or nearly free.  This was my last batch of cookies!!

I am working on using up everything in the house to reduce the amount of money out of pocket this month because I am already part way through my budget.  Trying to be a little more creative to stretch the grocery money.  I used my free day to make a bunch of food to last through the long weekend but now I am wiped out!!  Double batch of peanut butter cookies, blueberry strudel muffins, homemade brown sugar, whole wheat pitas, and chopped hash browns for the weekend.

Do you have certain things that you always keep on hand at your house??  Do you stock up on things seasonally??

Monday, October 10, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 10/10

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken and homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta with garlic bread and sausage
Wednesday- Lasagna with garlic knots and chopped salad
Thursday- Herb Butter Roasted Chicken with stuffing and sweet potatoes
Friday- Salsa Sloppy Joes on homemade rolls
Saturday- Paninis and soup
Sunday- Leftovers

So last week went totally off the rails and I really don't know why except I was exhausted and totally overbooked.  I have been working one job on Mondays and the other job Tuesday through Friday all half days so I am usually home by 1:30 or 2:30 most days so there is an hour or more before I have to walk to school and get my son which gives me a little time to clean dishes and get ready for dinner.

However, I am now doing physical therapy on my feet hoping it will take away the yucky pain but that messed up Monday by pushing work later and I just made it home to get my son and I got the planned meal on the table.  Tuesday is soccer practice night so we have to race home after school to make it there on time but I had a little time and got dinner on the the table as planned.  On Wednesday, I did the second PT and got home just in time to get my son and I don't think that I could hold it together anymore because I ate lunch after 2 pm so I decided to skip dinner and make something for my son and husband that they both liked so I made my son chicken fries (his all-time favorite meal) and my husband got buffalo chicken rice.  Thursday was a nice day so we stayed on the playground for way too long and I was hoping my husband would be able to stick the lasagna in the oven but he was late at work too so we ate a little later then planned.  Then Friday I watched my friends son all day while she was at work and then hospital with her parents and the fathers went out and got us pizza so that the boys could eat together making it the longest playdate and 11 hours by the time that they left asking if they could spend more time together.  The weekend was busy too even though we didn't have soccer on Saturday.  I finally made the chicken tacos and spicy rice I was planning for on Thursday.  I am also working on Sunday nights for the next few weeks but I threw a chicken in the oven before heading off to work so it was nice and done when I got home so thanks for the great deal on chickens at Harris Teeter or we wouldn't have had anything because I knew that I couldn't get it on the table before leaving but no school on Monday for Columbus Day holiday so we are sort of on summer schedule so dinner at 7:30 pm worked well. 

Here is hoping that this week goes better and that my work on Monday to get everything prepped and ready to go makes it an easy week even though we have company coming in town.  My mother in law is rolling into town on Wednesday in her RV and she told my husband that she was only going to stay a few days.  I don't know what that means but I have cooked up a lasagna for Wednesday night when she is supposed to arrive and have a Roast Chicken with all the fixings planned for Thursday.  Plans are subject to change so I guess we will see how things goes but I have tons of food at the ready depending on how many people are going to be eating at our house that night!!   Hope you have a tasty week!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Treasured Book Review

I was excited to get to the third book in the series Treasured (Perfect Destinies) by Sherryl Woods.  The first two were so great that I knew that the third one was going to follow the third brother who we knew very little about.  I couldn't wait to find out what else Destiny had up her sleeve!!

Despite the wealth and power of his remarkable family, Ben Carlton stayed hidden away in rural Virginia with only his artistic talent and his troubled memories for company. But when he met beautiful gallery owner Kathleen Dugan at the urging of his matchmaking aunt Destiny, his wounded heart began to open—yet he couldn't completely forget the tragedies of his past.
Vivacious, driven Kathleen was intrigued not only by Ben's paintings, but also by the handsome, mysterious man who created them. Were Ben's wounds too deep for Kathleen to mend…or did Destiny create another perfect match?

I loved it as much as the other books and it was fun to see where the third brother would end up with the girl.  The family was covered a lot in this book and you got to see the other brothers that you had already grown to love.  Ben Carlton was an interesting character because he was trying to get over the loss of his parents and the loss of his girlfriend which he felt responsible.  Because of these losses, he locked himself away in his house doing his art but not interacting with the world.  It wasn't a full life until he met Kathleen.  She brought out all of the hope and opened him up to having a life again.  They were an interesting match from the start and both tested each other to grow.  Together they learned how to overcome their past but will they make it together, you have to pick up the book to find out.  I hope that you check out this book and all the rest of the books in the series.  I really enjoyed all of them!!!  I know that you will too!!!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Our Eating Out and Take Out Review

I track my grocery spending in a notebook and I have never tracked my take out and eating out budget!!!  LIKE EVER!!!  I decided to go back and figure out how the numbers looked for eating out this year after realizing that we went a little overboard in August!  I was worried that it was going to upset me but I was looking to find out anyway...better to know and get a handle on it.

I had some gift cards from my students and my husband had a few from his so we did enjoy some that cost us nothing out of pocket but that still doesn't mean that money wasn't spent.  I try to keep our eating out spending under $40 per month.  The take out budget I thought it was going well but check out my review below:


$5.30 Little Caesars 
$9.54 Little Caesars
$4.23 Dominos Pizza
$5.30 Little Caesars
$9.53 Paisanos Steak and Cheese

Total $33.90


$2.00 Red Robin (above gift card)
$3.58 Wendy's 
$10.59 Little Caesars
$14.85 Tony's Pizza
$13.50 Dairy Barn Ice Cream
$10.98 Chuck E Cheese
$12.16 Cheesecake Factory (above gift card)
$46.48 Chinese food
$15.68 Wendy's

Total $129.82


$19.78 Grottos
$7.50 Thrashers fries
$5.00 Kohr's Ice Cream 
$6.91 Wendy's
Total $38.94


$5.30 Little Caesars
$9.53 Paisano's Steak and Cheese
$5.30 Little Caesars
$8.54 Wendy's
$9.00 Little Caesars
$23.97 Green Turtle

Total $61.64


$9.53 Paisanos Steak and Cheese
$5.30 Little Caesars
$2.00 Delia's tip (my mom paid rest)
$9.35 Wendy's
$5.30 Little Caesars

Total $31.48


$42.55 Chinese
$5.30 Little Caesars
Total $47.85


 $5.30 Little Caesars
$2.11 Wendy's

Total $7.41


$5.30 Little Caesars
$5.30 Little Caesars
Total $10.60


$4.01 Wendy's
$24.37 Little Caesars
$4.00 Mike's (above gift card)
Total $ 32.38

Total Take Out for the Year $394.02

Monthly Average $43.78

Only a little over in April with Chinese food for the family but either my mother or mother in law was visiting so we were hosting a special meal.  June and July included our vacation so I think that I did really well with eating out only being $22 over budget  in June because it was just one meal that we had on the beach.  We were also crossing over into July so it was nice to have it spread over two months and make so many great memories even though not the greatest sand castle because they spent so much time in the water instead.

August was a mess and I don't have any reason except we were trying to fit in everything at the end of summer.  We promised my son a trip to Chuck E. Cheese buffet which didn't happen until August. We had fun and he used tokens that we already have to play all summer and this was the only expense for that enjoyment.

We ended up picking up the tab for everyone to get ice cream since they picked us up before.  We love this place and got to enjoy it and make lots of memories this summer.

We went a little crazy at Cheesecake Factory after using the gift card because we eat a great meal and then got cheese cake!!!  Umm, it was great and my son's first cheese cake which he shared with us....lots of chocolate.  Another great memory!!

Then we bought Chinese food again when my mom was visiting and picked up the tab which is one of her favorites.  I know that we went a little crazy in August but we had a great end to the summer.  

After going over everything, I was so excited that the monthly total was only a few dollars over what I wanted to spend.  I am sure that we can figure out a way to even it over for the year!!  The best part is that I am sure that I am under on my grocery budget normally in a year about that much so it might even itself out to a total food budget being good.  The worst part is when the money is going out and you don't know where it is going so I am happy that I got this all tracked and I am going to continue for the year.

Do you tracking your take out and eating out spending??

Thursday, October 6, 2016

September Reading Review

I read a ton of books over the summer and was interested in seeing how many books I would get read when I was trying to also get everything else done in our schedule.  It wasn't as much as I normally read but I still got lots of reading done this month.  I am still hoping to read 150 books for the year but I don't know if I am going to get to that goal but I did pass my 100 book mark this month which is my main goal every year.

Below are a list of all of the books that I read this month.  If you missed the review of the book, please click on the title and it will take you back to the original summary and review of the books that I enjoyed this month.  I hope that you add a few of these books to your reading list!!

by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club
by Wanda E. Brunstetter

The Scam
by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

Fraying at the Edge
by Cindy Woodsmall

The Tattered Quilt
by Wanda E Brunstetter

Isn't It Rich
by Sherryl Woods

by Sherryl Woods

Reading for 2016

January           13
February          11
March              9
April                 8
May                 9
June                 9
July                   16
August               18
September           9

Total Books        102

Currently Reading:

by Sherryl Woods

Mind in the Making
by Ellen Galinsky

Sadly I started it and didn't pick it up again because it is a very serious book.  Hoping to finish because I have to return it to the library soon. It has a lot of interesting information!!