Thursday, December 29, 2016

Mistletoe Promise Book Review

I finished the last book from Richard Paul Evans that I reserved from the new releases in the library and realized that there was another book that I hadn't read yet.  I reserved it immediately and it came in pretty quickly since there wasn't a high demand.  I had to set it aside while I finished up some other books that were due back to the library but The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans was worth the wait.  I finally got a chance to read it and I couldn't put it down.

Elise Dutton dreads the arrival of another holiday season. Three years earlier, her husband cheated on her with her best friend, resulting in a bitter divorce that left her alone, broken, and distrustful.

Then, one November day, a stranger approaches Elise in the mall food court. Though she recognizes the man from her building, Elise has never formally met him. Tired of spending the holidays alone, the man offers her a proposition. For the next eight weeks—until the evening of December 24—he suggests that they pretend to be a couple. He draws up a contract with four rules:

1. No deep, probing personal questions
2. No drama
3. No telling anyone the truth about the relationship
4. The contract is void on Christmas Day

The lonely Elise surprises herself by agreeing to the idea. As the charade progresses, the safety of her fake relationship begins to mend her badly broken heart. But just as she begins to find joy again, her long-held secret threatens to unravel the emerging relationship. But she might not be the only one with secrets.

I started this book when I was going to sleep and I couldn't put it down.  I read through the whole thing start to finish.  It was a great book and an amazing twists and turns that I didn't see coming.  This was a heart warming story where the Elise Dutton has lead a hard life which is all unfolding to the reader during the extra tough time of the holiday season.  Elise gets approached to make a Mistletoe Promise with Nicholas where they spend some of the holiday season together so that they don't have to go to parties alone.  I loved watching the relationship between these two people unfold because there were still mysteries that were left covered until the very end of the book.  I hope that you pick up this and other books in this authors wonderful Christmas series.  I can't wait to look up other books by this author because I have loved everything that I have read so far and I hope that you do to!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Life She Wants Book Review

I put this book on my reserve list when I say it under the new releases because I like Robyn Carr and all the books she has written.  The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr was amazing!  I read it very quickly and had trouble putting it down.  It was a good book to watch how Emma was putting her life back together.

In the aftermath of her financier husband’s suicide, Emma Shay Compton’s dream life is shattered. Richard Compton stole his clients’ life savings to fund a lavish life in New York City and, although she was never involved in the business, Emma bears the burden of her husband’s crimes. She is left with nothing.

Only one friend stands by her, a friend she’s known since high school, who encourages her to come home to Sonoma County. But starting over isn’t easy, and Sonoma is full of unhappy memories, too. And people she’d rather not face, especially Riley Kerrigan.

Riley and Emma were like sisters—until Riley betrayed Emma, ending their friendship. Emma left town, planning to never look back. Now, trying to stand on her own two feet, Emma can’t escape her husband’s reputation and is forced to turn to the last person she thought she’d ever ask for help—her former best friend. It’s an uneasy reunion as both women face the mistakes they’ve made over the years. Only if they find a way to forgive each other—and themselves—can each of them find the life she wants.

Emma was trying to rebuild her life after her husband's death and the scandal that surrounded it.  She was left with nothing and had to move and restart her life.  It was hard to live without any money and her background was making it hard to maintain any job.  She lost two minimum wage jobs because her past caught up with her so she was forced to apologize for her past and take a job from a childhood friend who had a house cleaning business.  It was great to watch Emma rebuild her life and start over to have a much more full life.  Emma makes friends and understands that she can enjoy her job and make her new life which is even better then her old life where she thought she was happy.  I hope that you check out this book for yourself.  I know that you will enjoy it as much as I have!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 12/26

Monday- Turkey and Rice Soup
Tuesday- Wendy's (might have over planned thinking we would be home!!)
Wednesday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken and homemade french fries
Thursday- Pasta
Friday- Chicken Paninis with leftovers
Saturday- Steak and Potatoes
Sunday- ??

I totally forgot that it was Monday so I didn't post this yesterday when I normally do.  I wasn't remembering any of the days of the weeks when the holiday came because of the change of the schedule.  We went out shopping for the day after Christmas deals (I got red plates, red napkins, and red plates for my son's birthday half off) so we ended up eating out for lunch.  It was super tasty but I didn't have any room for dinner but I made everyone Turkey and Rice soup for dinner from the stock that I made the night before and the leftover turkey from Christmas dinner.  I moved the rest of the week around to make sure that we had everything filled in but I haven't started the January menu plan yet and we are already in the new year so I guess I better get busy on it.  I was hoping to clean out the fridge and freezer to see what else we have left to use up so the plan might be whatever I find!!

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Bookshop on the Corner Book Review

Another reserve but this time by an author that I don't think that I have read and a book that I hadn't heard of but I found it in the new releases and I thought that I couldn't pass it up.  The Bookshop on the Corner: A Novel by Jenny Colgan was a new book that had a great description.  I couldn't wait to read it but it took forever and then I was reading all the other reserve books that I had and I had to return it just a few days after starting it.  I didn't get a lot of reading time so I was a little pressed for finishing it.

Nina Redmond is a librarian with a gift for finding the perfect book for her readers. But can she write her own happy-ever-after?  Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.  Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.  From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

I was interested in the book from the beginning because what is more fun then a bookstore!!  I thought that the description sounded interesting and it turned out to be even more fun when Nina lost her job...wait does that sound right?!  Yup, you heard me because her life was turned totally upside down and she was on the path to find her passion and biggest dreams come true.  She is giving up her normal life and moving to another country and starting her own business.  It is interesting to see how she makes up her new life and tries to make the connections to the old life that she once loved.  I am almost positive that I got another book by this author before but put it back because I just didn't get into it but I obviously keep picking up the same author because it sounds familiar.  The great news is I really enjoyed this book so maybe I will check out the other book soon.  I hope that you check out this book too!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Precious and Grace Book Review

I grabbed this book at the library when I was there because I saw it on the shelf!!  I love this series and I was excited to read this installment of the Ladies Detective Agency.  Precious and Grace: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (17) (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series) by Alexander McCall Smith was the 17th book in this great series!!  I can't believe that there are so many but I am sure that I have read them all now!!!

In this latest installment of the beloved and best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi help a young woman on a quest to find someone from her past.

Changes are afoot at the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, where Mma Makutsi, who has recently been promoted to co-director, has been encouraging Mma Ramotswe to update to more modern office practices. However, an unusual case will require both of them to turn their attention firmly to the past. A young Canadian woman who spent her early childhood in Botswana requests the agency’s help in recovering important pieces of her life there. With only a faded photograph—and, of course, some good old-fashioned detective skills—to guide them, Precious and Grace set out to locate the house that the woman used to live in and the caretaker who looked after her many years ago. But when the journey takes an unexpected turn, they are forced to consider whether some lost things may be better off unfound.

Busy as she is with this challenging investigation, Mma Ramotswe can always be relied on to come to the aid of her friends—who seem to have a special knack for landing in hot water. Mr. Polopetsi, an occasional assistant at the agency, has made an ill-advised business decision that may lead to serious trouble. And next door at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, Fanwell, the junior mechanic, has become helplessly attached to a stray dog who proves to be a bigger responsibility than he can handle. With Mma Makutsi by her side, Mma Ramotswe dispenses help and sympathy with the graciousness and warmth for which she is so well known, and everyone is led to surprising insights into the healing power of compassion, forgiveness, and new beginnings.

I have enjoyed all the books in the Ladies Detective series and this new book was no exception.  The books are listed under mystery but I think that they regular fiction and some people might miss them because of the category that they are listed under.  I like anything but Alexander McCall Smith but this is one of my favorite series because I love the characters.  There is always something interesting going on with Mma Ramotswe and all of her friends at the Ladies Detective Agency.  It was an interesting story of a lady that came back to Botswana to find where she grew up and her nanny from her childhood.  There was an investigation into the different people who might have been the lady who took care of her but the story was a little flat.  Although I would never miss an installment of this great series, I wouldn't say that this was the best in the series.  There were some ups and downs and lots of developments going on through out the novel.  Make sure you pick it up and see for yourself all the trouble Mma Ramotswe gets into!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas Book Review

I was excited to find this book and reserve it at the library.  Twelve Days of Christmas: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber came in at the same time as a bunch of other reserves and I had a few days to read it but it didn't take that long.  This was a fast read and it was great to read another book with the holiday spirit!!

Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.

To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won’t even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain’s gruff fa├žade to reveal the caring man underneath. Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain—and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love.

I loved this great Christmas special novel!   This was also closely related to the Kindness Challenge book I read at the beginning of the month.  Julia decided after a run in with her neighbor to kill him with her kindness.  Cain was immune to her charms and was not falling for all of her nice behaviors.  Julia starts blogging about their relationship and how she is doing her daily kindness.  The phenomenon catches on and she ends with lots of blog followers killing people with kindness.  It was really funny to see how upset she got and the new ideas that Julia came up with to win over Cain.  In the end, there was an interesting resolution but you have to pick up the book to find out what happens!!  There are twists and turns that lead to a wonderful story.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 12/19

Monday- Chicken Fries, Buffalo Chicken, and homemade french fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday-Chicken and Rice Casserole
Thursday- Tacos with saffron rice
Friday- Chinese Food Take Out
Saturday- Lasagna with garlic bread
Sunday- Turkey Christmas Dinner with stuffing, rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy and veggies

Last week was a little hard to keep on schedule.  I got Monday's meal made and then Tuesday but I am not sure any of the rest of the week went according to plan because things got too busy.  I ended up making Chicken Taco Rice on Saturday instead of earlier in the week and then Waffles on Sunday which got me back on track.  I made lists last week to try to stay on track but I had so much more to do then time to get it done.  It was the case with my to do list and the meals that we were having and without two of me, whatever didn't get done moved to the next day....including making dinner!!  We were so out of leftovers that I know that we were pulling from the freezer and anything else that we had around...I hope to get more on the ball this week but I don't know if there are any other choices because we have family coming into town so here is hoping for the best!!

Hope you have a wonderful holiday and get to spend some time with the people you love!!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Middle of the Month Shopping Update

I can't believe that I am already in the middle of the month.  I was shocked when I looked at the calendar but if you are like me, you are just focusing on getting things done before the holidays....mine is before my son gets out of school on Friday because then I will have my special helper with me always.  Shopping is a much better solo activity :) Got lots of trips in that were bigger then my normal trips so I think that I am pretty excited.

Here is what I got so far for the month:

Harris Teeter $30.84

I went to the store to get free gravy, iced tea, rice-a-roni and sugar cookie mix.  I got $0.25 each soda and $0.22 Yardley soap.  There were a lot of deals including some clearance steaks for New Years eve.

Harris Teeter $12.28

There was a deal to get the Kraft Trios, Wilton Sprinkles and Harris Teeter batteries for free on Saturday.  The Rev wrap was free with sale, coupon and electronic coupon.  I also grabbed the deal on the Pringles which were $0.97 each and I had a coupon for $1/4 so they were $0.72 each.  We already enjoyed most of them!!  There was an deal on the oatmeal because they were on sale for $2.50 each and I had a coupon which was $1/2 and there was an instant savings of $3 so they ended up being $1 per box.  I grabbed two boxes of scalloped potatoes which were $1 each less $0.50/2 coupon but I didn't have the electronic coupon so they were $0.50 each and there was a Saving Star credit for $0.50 so they were basically $0.25 I really like them.

Aldi $18.59

I went to get the bananas and apples that my husband wanted and the popcorn for my dad for Christmas.  I added a few extras like emergency butter, oil, pretzels, chips and crackers because I didn't know what we had in the cupboard.  I splurged on the Aldi brand of the cheese wedges.  They were yummy for lunch with the thin wheat crackers!!  It will make me eat something healthy for lunch at least because they are so easy to grab.

Giant $3.06

My son was out of ketchup so we went to the store with no coupons (because there weren't any) and bought it not on sale (because the sale one was empty).  We needed it for dinner that night so there wasn't a lot of options and choices but we checked at CVS And Giant because they were in the same plaza.  It was almost $2 cheap at Giant if you were holding your breath on the results.

Harris Teeter $30.75

I went to the store quickly on Friday after work and got a few of the sale items that were super low priced.  There were sales on all of the baking supplies for under what you can get things at Aldi so I scooped up Crisco Oil for $1.67, Pillsbury Bread Flour for $1.67, Dixie Crystal Sugar $1.67 (after sale and coupon), and Carnation Evaporated Milk $0.57.  The was a deal on the Diet Pepsi 8 pack min cans for $2.50 (normally $5.19 WHAT?!) and there was a $1 printable coupon and $1 electronic coupon so I paid $0.50. The Cranberry juice was on sale for buy one, get one free so it was $1.95 so I got what I could see on the shelf because it was behind the pole.  My mom loves the Christmas tea Cinnamon Sweet Pumpkin from Celestial Seasonings so I bought that for her gift.   Missing from the picture is the Challenge butter I got for free after coupon.  My impulse purchase was the cranberry sauce for Christmas dinner.

Total OOP $95.52

I had to go to the store a few times this month but not really that many times.  We were out of Cranberry Juice for my husband so I got that on sale for under $2 each.  They both requested cereal (and listed their favorite kinds).  Sadly, they have not been on sale recently so they are still on the list.  I got some gift cards for Christmas from work and my son and I went on an all day shopping was a lot!!  We left the house at 9:30 and went to Kohl's first and used a $5 reward and coupon for 15% off to get these two items for gifts for under $4.  It was great value and wonderful unique presents- one for a birthday present that we needed for that night!!

Then, we went to Target to get some things for my father and another thing for a birthday party he has to go to. Sorry for the pictures on the floor but I was going straight to wrapping so they were on the floor.  I got two of the Star Wars creator sets where the person can color the ships and then use an app to bring them to life (I don't have a clue but there was a 50% cartwheel and my son insisted it was the coolest).  He got one for the party and one for him.  There was a coloring set that he picked out for another party he is going to in a few weeks.  I got two coloring books, brownie mix, 2 boxes of Christmas cereal and granola bars because we were totally out!!!!! We got my fathers presents including Butterscotch Krimpets, Planters Nut Trio, Planters Winter Nut Medley, Planters Winter Brittle Mix, Cinnamon Almonds and Pecans, Ghiradelli holiday mix, Ghiradelli Peppermint Brownie (which my son advised that he might have to try), and Reese Trees.

We checked out with the nicest cashier who price checked three Pokemon things that there was no chance of me buying.  My son had a pizza that we were supposed to get at the Pizza Hut near our next stop from the Book It program but I always forget how long every errand takes when moving with my helper.  We split a personal pizza at Target with an agreement that we would split the second one later in the day but it was already 1 pm when we made it to eat.  Luckily I grabbed popcorn on the way out of the house because he ate most of that before Target.

I realized that there were a few more things that I forgot to get like Excedrin, my son's vitamins and the Smuckers Blueberry Lemon Jelly with honey so we went back and got them all and checked out with the same lady. After the second check out, we had $0.71 left on the gift card so we spent no money out of pocket to get all of these things and our pizza!!

I know that I have a few more shopping trips coming up for the rest of the month although I don't have a clue what we need,  I guess I need to put some work into getting the menu ready for next month so that I know what we need!! How is your month going?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mistletoe Secret Book Review

I put this book on reserve and it took forever to come in but when it did, it came at the same time as lots of other reserve books.  I know that I should pay attention and put them on hold when I get close to the top but I swear it goes so quickly that I miss it.  I was reading another book before The Mistletoe Secret: A Novel (The Mistletoe Collection) by Richard Paul Evans and then it was due back to the library with no renewals allowed because there were other holds so I had one day to read it!!  It was a really good day!!

The master of the holiday novel presents the moving story of two people who brave loneliness and loss to find love.

Dear Universe,
Is anyone out there?

Thinking no one is reading, a blogger who calls herself LBH writes about her most personal feelings, especially her overwhelming loneliness. She goes from day to day showing a brave face to the world while inside she longs to know how it would feel if one person cared about her.

Alex Bartlett cares. He’s reading her posts in Daytona Beach, Florida. Nursing his own broken heart and trust issues, he finds himself falling for this sensitive, vulnerable woman whose feelings mirror his own. Following a trail of clues LBH has inadvertently revealed, he discovers that she lives in the small town of Midway, Utah. He makes his way there just after Thanksgiving, determined to find LBH. Maybe she’s a Lisa, Lori, or a Luanne. Instead, he finds a woman named Aria, a waitress at the Mistletoe Diner, who encourages Alex in his search while serving his pie along with some much-needed sympathy and companionship.

Alex finally finds his LBH, a woman who is as beautiful and kind as he imagined she would be. How can he tell her that he knows her secret? What’s holding him back? Could it be his feelings for Aria?

I hope that you check out this book because it was the perfect mix of the holiday spirit with wonderful small town charm.  Alex Bartlett read a blog and went all the way to the small town that he figured out that she lived so that he could try to find LBH, the mystery blogger.  It was one of those ones that you wanted to scream at the book to get Alex to listen to not mess up.  It was a heartwarming story and I was riveted (which was of course wonderful because I had so little time to read the book before the library due date).  I have read other books by this author and was super excited to find out that there might be another book that I missed!!  I can't wait to put Mistletoe Promise on my list to read soon!!!  I hope that you enjoy this as much as I did.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Kindness Challenge Book Review

I decided this sounded like a good book to read with the interesting title and description, I couldn't pass up the chance to check this out and see how I could make my relationships better.  I know that I am a naturally negative person and it takes a lot for me to overcome that feeling and go towards the positive.  I was interested to see if this book was going to help and there were lots of things to try!!

Think of your toughest relationship. Think of a relationship that is good but could be great. Think of a group of people that drives you nuts. You want to show more kindness and generosity, but sometimes you’re just tired, stretched, and frustrated. Besides, would small actions make that big a difference? Yes!

After years of extensive research, Shaunti Feldhahn has concluded that kindness is a superpower. It can change any relationship, make your life easier and better, and transform our culture. But how does it work? And how can you show kindness when you don’t feel like it?

In The Kindness Challenge, Shaunti explores….
* Three simple acts that make all the difference in any relationship (with a spouse, child, co-worker, brother-in-law…)
* Whether kindness is ever the wrong approach
* The seven ways you may be unkind and never realize it
* Eight types of kindness—and which might be the best fit for you
* Ten sneaky obstacles that get in the way of giving praise
* Practical ways to persevere when kindness is tough
* How kindness in marriage leads to benefits in the bedroom (yes, really!)
* Why your acts of kindness today can help transform the world

With self-assessments, day-to-day tips, a 30-day challenge, and specific kindness ideas, The Kindness Challenge can make your toughest relationships better and your good relationships great—starting today.

Try the 30 Day Kindness Challenge and be a part of a kindness revolution in your home, your world, and yourself.

Have We Ever Needed Kindness More?

In The Kindness Challenge, innovative researcher Shaunti Feldhahn reveals three simple steps proven to make any interaction better and any relationship thrive—whether with a romantic partner, coworkers, a child, siblings, your hard-to-please stepmother, or rude people at the grocery store. You’ll learn which ways of acting, speaking, and thinking will make the greatest difference for your life.

Doing these simple acts for thirty days not only has power to change the other person—it has the power to change you!

In these pages, Shaunti introduces you to a host of people from all walks of life who have tested the 30-Day Kindness Challenge in real-life situations and have seen the difference it makes. She shows you the inspiring results of her before-and-after surveys. And she challenges you not only to try the 30-Day Kindness Challenge for yourself but to be a part of the movement to transform our culture.

It was a little bit of a slow read because there was so much information and I wanted to try to take it all in but there were tons of great points.  If I had a highlighter in my hand, the book would have been covered.  There are so many times when we say that we are venting but in truth, this only draws out the problem instead of letting it go.  It mainly hurts ourselves when we do that but it is the hardest thing to avoid because many times I trust the opinions of my good friends and bringing up issues helps to try to put things in perspective but with all the talk of negative, it makes it hard to be positive.  It goes into the examples of each pitfall and how you can overcome it.  If you want, you can sign up to get the daily reminder so that you can improve your life with the tips.  You can also go on the website and check out their self assessment which I was eager to take but it wasn't launched before my review.  If you want to check out the website, you can do so here.

The book is divided into three main parts.  Part 1 is Why A Little Kindness Makes a Big Difference.  This is the general part of the book talking about Kindness and showing you how putting it in practice will make your life better.  Part 2 is Let's Do This: Thirty Days to a Kinder You.  There is a section on nixing the negatives, practicing praise and carrying out kindness.  Part 3 is Thirty Days of Kindness Tips.  This part is the key of the book because it gives the daily reminders on how to pull this off and become more positive.  Anything that you practice every day for 30 days becomes something of a habit so it is more likely to stick with these great hints and reminders of the things that you read.  Including these concrete tasks helps follow up the message of the book and makes the whole thing work for me.   This book is currently available on pre-release but will come out in just a few days on December 20th so you can get your own copy to find out how this book will help you improve your relationships.  I thought it was a great book and I look forward to putting some of the ideas into play in my life to try to be a kinder person!!

**I was provided a copy of the book from the publisher through Blogging for Books but I was not required to provide a positive review.  All opinions here are my own.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 12/12

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken and homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta with sausage sauce and garlic bread
Wednesday- French Dip Sloppy Joes- Went with leftovers because my husband had a work thing
Thursday- Chicken tacos with spicy saffron rice- Went with leftovers after Santa
Friday- Chicken Paninis and Leftovers
Saturday- Grilled Cheese and Soup or Roast Chicken
Sunday- Breakfast for dinner

I think that last week went pretty well.  I got the first three meals made on the days that were planned but we went with leftovers on Thursday.  Then Friday came and I went to gathering with some friend but they were ordering pizza that wasn't my son's favorite so we ate some more leftover before going over.  I went with the original plan for Line Chicken on Saturday instead of Thursday but got it done.  I used all the leftover bread crumbs from crackers, chips and pretzels as well as lots of homemade breadcrumbs from the freezer.  I had some frozen lime juice that was the perfect amount.  I had a little end of the jack cheese left so I grated it and melted it on top in the oven.  It was really easy to use the end of a bunch of things in the fridge with leftovers and my lime chicken yummy meal.  I also got a lot of breaded chicken made so I used the rest to make buffalo chicken with melted blue cheese for Sunday.  Another super easy meal to throw together so super glad that I got two meals made together for an easy weekend.

Here is hoping that I pull off this week with all the last minute holiday preparations and shopping that I still have to do.  I am ready for Monday and Tuesday but that is it!!  I made peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip muffins and cinnamon rolls for our treats for the week.  I still have a few more things to make but don't know if there is going to be more time this week but I know we will enjoy the things that are made.  This is the last week for my work and my son's school before winter break so I know that we will have even more things going on next week so hoping to make lots of lists and check lots of things off!!!  Hope you are going to have a good week too!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Leftover Night Turns from Dismal to Exceptional

I actually thought that leftover night would be a punishment...mostly because I hate leftovers.  But it turns out to be one of the best nights in our house.  We get to reuse all the things in the fridge to make new meals.  Some times it is just taking pizza dough that I already shaped and making individual pizzas like we did last night or salsa sloppy joe potatoes with a little leftover meat that isn't enough for a sandwich.

 I grabbed some leftover taco meat and some corn shells that weren't in great shape to use for tacos whether broken or misshapen to make some enchiladas.  There was already an enchilada sauce in the freezer so I got to use.  I got the sharp cheese out of the fridge that I didn't really like and shredded it.  To add flavor and filler, I started using Mahatma Spicy Rice so I got a pouch out of the pantry and cooked that up.  After it was done cooking, I layered it like a lasagna instead of enchiladas which we call enchilada smash in our house.  Super easy leftovers put to a new purpose.

I used up the end of a bag of mozzarella cheese, some ricotta, roll of sausage that needed to cooked and some spaghetti sauce and crushed tomatoes near expiration from the pantry and threw together some lasagna!! It helped to use up everything in the fridge to make into one meal but the pantry was there to back me up as well as some cheese from the freezer because I thought we were out!!

I spent a busy day trying to figure out how many things I could make out of the things we had in the fridge so that I would have a few more meals from the things on hand.  I love when it works out well!!  Plus I got some extra sausage sauce which is either going to be used for pasta night or frozen for another lasagna soon.

Another day I was working on making all of the leftovers into breakfast foods.  I decided to make applesauce, pear sauce and one lonely apple into applesauce bread.  It is a fabulous bread with a strong cinnamon bread that we love and made way better by using the fresh apple.  I put all the apple in the blender to make sure it was all like applesauce texture.

I made some tasty muffins from the super cheap blackberries that I got at Aldi and some yogurt that I got free at the grocery store.  I might have eaten a few too many after making them because they are my very favorite with the wonderful lemon strudel.  These are the blueberry ones that I usually make but the blackberry ones were a yummy treat!

I made some cranberry salad dressing that was amazing!!!  I had the cranberry sauce in the freezer that I made from leftover cranberries and orange juice.  I enjoyed eating lots of salads with this tasty dressing and some homemade croutons from some leftover bread cubes.

Yummy soft rolls made with the milk that was about to be bad in the fridge along with some pancakes for dinner!!  Used up most of the milk and just a few other things around the house because I have a stocked pantry with flour, yeast, my homemade pancake mix and more at hand!!

I am glad that I have had lots of leftovers to work with and get creative with!  There are so many other things that I have in the cupboard and I am going to be working my creative hands on over this Christmas break!!  Another reason why I really need to start canning so that I can fit all the stuff I make because there is no more room in the huge full sized freezer in the basement.  Here is hoping that eating the turkey will make the room I need to bring up my creativity.

What creative stuff do you make when you are running low on food around the house and to use the leftovers that you have??

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Didn't I Say I Was Going to Stop Grocery Shopping?

Well, I guess I totally wasn't telling the truth!!!  I got an email with some freebies from Harris Teeter and I went straight to the store to get my free gravy mix, free Rice-A-Roni and free iced tea. 

Is that all I picked up??  Of course not!!!  I planned on getting the deal on the Betty Crocker cookies because those are always quick and easy to make and free after sale and coupon.  I also planned on getting the Yardley soap deal.  They were $0.47 each limit 4 and there was a coupon for $1 off 4 so they worked out to $0.22 a piece so I decided to splurge.  I don't need soap because I have a bunch of soap that I got for free but I love the lavender soap so I decided that the $0.88 was a reasonable splurge :)

I might have gone a little overboard with the other deals.  There was sugar 4 lb bags for $0.97 so I got the limit of 4 bags.  The Cheez-Its were buy one, get one free so they were $2.50 a box and there was a $1/2 coupon so they ended up being $2 per box.  Not as great a deal as at Weis but I have unlocked the Cheez-It monsters in my house so I got 4 more boxes.  The lettuce was on sale for $0.99 so I got it because it is cheaper then Aldi prices.  The soda was $0.25 each after sale, coupon and electronic coupon so I thought it was a good treat for the holidays.  The Cool Whip was a request from my son because he likes it on his pancakes.  If this gets him to start eating pancakes again, it was a win with a sale price of a $1.29 and a $0.55/2 coupon, they were $0.74 each which wasn't a bad deal.

I walked passed the popcorn and there was a label that it was on sale for buy one, get one free.  It was a great deal and it should have worked out to $0.94 per bag.  However, it didn't ring up correctly.  I went to customer service and they immediately fixed the problem with no questions asked.  Their policy is to give one of the products free and they missed one electronic coupon so I only paid $0.77 for all the popcorn!!  It was a better deal then I was hoping and we should have popcorn for a really long time.

Then came the biggest splurge which was this clearance filet mignon which looked good.  We like to have steak for New Years eve or some other nice treat so I thought that my husband might like it.  It was still $12 but way cheaper then eating out and a decent price for yummy steaks.  They are in the freezer now waiting for our special meal later in the month.

I was overall happy with the purchase but I said that we had everything that I needed and I didn't need to go to the store so I would have saved more money if I stayed out of the store but still happy I went.  Do you ever get those mixed emotions when you shop??  Still hoping for some good Saturday freebies this week so stay tuned for my next trip to the store and see how crazy I get :)  Okay, not very crazy with a Saturday trip to the grocery store or ever but hoping you are having good luck finding deals this month too!

Total Retail $90.87
Total Savings $60.03
Total OOP $30.84

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

November Reading Review

I was most of the way through the month and I realized that I didn't even have an idea of the number of books that I read this month because I didn't even start putting together the list.  I usually add books to the list as I finish them and put the links up but this time because I have been too busy.  I barely got the review of the books up when I read them so I put together my list of things that I read at the end of the month!!  I was surprised at how many I came up with....maybe I didn't make my list because I was too busy reading.  I don't remember taking that much of a pause between books.

Here is the list for the month and if you want to see the summary and review of the book, please click on the title of the book which will take you to the original posting.  I hope that you enjoy this list and add a few to your reading list!!!

by Lee Goldberg

by Cindy Woodsmall

by Susan May Warren

by Liz Johnson

by Linda Byler

by Linda Byler

by Linda Byler

Family Tree
by Susan Wiggs

I hope that you add a few of these books to your readings list and enjoy them as much as I did!!  I know that I was glad to read all of them this month!!

Reading for 2016

January           13
February          11
March              9
April                 8
May                 9
June                 9
July                   16
August               18
September           9
October            10
November      8

Total Books        120

Currently Reading:

Monday, December 5, 2016

Menu Plan Monday 12/5

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken and homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta with sausage sauce and garlic bread
Wednesday- Tacos
Thursday- Lime Chicken with white rice
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- Grilled Cheese and Soup
Sunday- Breakfast for dinner

I think that I did pretty well with last weeks menu.  I switched Thursday and Friday at the last minute but everything else was mostly the same except on Sunday I made pancakes for my son and I but Buffalo Chicken Rice for my husband (using leftover rice, frozen chicken and the rest of the celery in the fridge).

We didn't need a lot from the store but I did get a last minute end of the month run to Aldi's in to get some things and then couldn't pass up a few last minute deals at Harris Teeter.  Then, Harris Teeter sent me the Friday email with three free things and tons of other great deals.  I went to the store on Saturday and they had meat clearance so I got some expensive steak for New Years Eve dinner which was blank on my calendar looking for something extra special so I spent $12 on some yummy steaks for us!!