Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thanksgiving Book Review

I was looking for my next series of books to read when I found another list by Janet Evanovich so I was going through the series one at a time.  Thanksgiving by Janet Evanovich was the next book in the series for me to enjoy.  It was a quick and easy read that I finished start to end in less than one day.

When Megan Murphy discovers a floppy-eared rabbit gnawing on the hem of her skirt, she means to give its careless owner a piece of her mind, but Dr. Patrick Hunter is too attractive to stay mad at for long.
As for Patrick, he wants nothing more than to play house with Maggie—and make Thanksgiving dinner for their families.  But Megan has wept over one failed love, and she's afraid to risk her heart again. Can the good doctor help heal her heart?

Megan Murphy was living in the historic Williamsburg town in Virginia which was an interesting setting for me to get to see.  I love the historic town so it was interesting to see this book set in this town.  There was a floppy eared rabbit who started eating her skirt while she was sitting in town.  She finds out that Dr. Patrick Hunter is the owner of this rabbit who was wandering around without supervision. Megan returns the rabbit and ends up in the middle of Patrick's life when one of his patients comes and drops off a baby.  Patrick was going to call child services but Megan volunteers to babysit during the day so that the baby isn't going to be sent into the system.  They start working together to take care of this baby which then brings them together to make a Thanksgiving dinner.  There are so many things that come up during this story that you need to pick it up for yourself.  I know that you will enjoy the antics in this book as much as I did.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I have!!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 2/27

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Filet Steak
Thursday- Chicken and Rice Casserole
Friday- Leftover Night
Saturday- Breakfast for Dinner
Sunday- ??

The rest of the family is sick while I am feeling better but we made it through the week pretty well according to plan.  When we got to leftover night, it was like 80 degrees outside and we had very little leftovers int he fridge.  I made my son some leftover chicken and french fries.  My husband grilled a hamburger from the freezer and some boneless chicken I just bought.  I also put some tater tots in with the fries so we would have a little side dish.  I made a chopped salad with fried pepperoni and homemade croutons.  We used up a lot of things in the fridge, freezer and cleaned up the kitchen to start the new week even though it wasn't a usual leftover night.  The great news is that I took the lasagna out of the freezer to make over the weekend whenever we had time so I was ready to make it.  Amazing that everything fell in place with sickness and me finally back to working both of my jobs this week after months of being sick so I am glad that we were able to pull it together and make it through the week....until I realized that it was already a new month that I had to do the darn meal plan for!!!  UGH!

I went to the basement and figured out what was in the freezer- 6 bags of boneless chicken, 4 bags of ground beef, 2 bags of cooked ground sausage, 7 whole chickens,  2 Barber Chickens and 6 bags of meatballs.  We have a lots of stuff in the house so I started making a plans for the month to see what we actually needed at the store to fill in the blanks.  I started by filling all of the jars in the cupboard to get them ready for recipes like applesauce bread, chocolate chip muffins, scones and corn bread.  I have been meaning to try another recipe to see if I can find one that my husband likes better so I went to the internet and searched.  It is currently in the oven so time will tell if that works out to be the new recipe (stay tuned for recipe post soon).  The menu plan quickly took form with all Monday, Tuesdays and Fridays filled in.  I went with beef on Wednesday and Chicken on Thursday down the middle so only the weekends left to figure out.  Here is the first week of March!!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Barbara Cameron's 'Home to Paradise' Facebook Party

Home to Paradise, the final book in author Barbara Cameron's The Coming Home series, is not to be missed! Rose Anna Zook always thought she and John, one of Stoltzfus brothers, would marry, make a home together, and have children. But John, enjoying his Rumschpringe in the Englisch world, has other ideas. Rose Anna is determined to bring her man back into the Amish fold. John is equally determined to live his life free and unencumbered. Who will win this battle of wills? Will love prevail?

Join Barbara on Thursday, March 9, for a live author chat party on her Facebook page with fun prizes to be won! Click the graphic below for more details and to RSVP. Hope to see you there-bring a friend or two who loves Amish fiction!

Friday, February 24, 2017

A McKaslin Homecoming Book Review

This book was another book on my shelf from the library book sales from previous summers.  I was glad to finally get to reading it and I was excited to find out what it was about since I hadn't read the author or enjoyed anything else from the series.  A McKaslin Homecoming (The McKaslin Clan: Series 3, Book 5) (Love Inspired #403) by Jillian Hart was the next book that I got to read and I was excited to get started.

When contacted by her long-lost grandmother, Lauren McKaslin wanted to reconnect-with all the warmhearted Montana McKaslins. For too long, she'd relied solely on herself and her faith. But mistrustful lawman Caleb Stone stood in the way, and his questions about her were intimidating. Was his attention more than a protective instinct? Now that she believed in family again, perhaps this was also the time to believe in true love....

Lauren was headed to Montana to reconnect with her family after her grandmother sent a private investigator to find her after not seeing her in over 15 years.  It is both a sad and happy book of the life in Lauren's past and her future.  She meets Caleb as soon as she gets to her grandmother's house because her grandmother wasn't home yet.  She ends up helping coral the horses back into the fence and gets to know Caleb who is her grandmother's neighbor.  She quickly calms down after meeting her grandmother and gets back to being nervous when she has to meet the rest of the family including her father and brothers and sisters.  This is a wonderful novel that I had trouble putting down because I always wanted to know what happened next.  The description did nothing  to tell me what the book was about and after reading the whole book, I actually think that the description on Amazon is not even correct.  I can't stand when people write the descriptions of books without actually reading them but I think that was the case here.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did even with the horrible summary from Amazon and the publisher. I actually forgot to finish this book review before doing a bunch of other ones so I am catching up.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I did!!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Grand Finale Book Review

I was excited to pick up all the reserves that I had put in at the library.  There were 12 books for my son and I and I was ready to start reading as soon as I finished the previous book that I was working on.  The Grand Finale by Janet Evanovich was the next book in the series that I was reading so I was excited to get started on it.  I didn't even know anything about it but I was sure that I was going to be entertained.

Berry Knudson had a talent for disaster, but when she climbed a tree to rescue a kitten, she wasn't prepared for the scrumptious hunk undressing in a nearby window, or her dive downward that smashed Jake Sawyer's pizza and won his heart! But was there room in her chaotic schedule for a risk-taking inventor with dreams? She took classes, delivered pizzas, and cared for three eccentric old ladies she rescued from the train station. But Jake thrived on a challenge, and he could be very inventive. Could he teach her there was time to make butterscotch pudding and let herself be loved?

I picked this up at the library and finished it by the next morning.  I thought it was super funny and I couldn't put it down.  Berry was incredibly entertaining with all of her disasters starting at the beginning of the book.  She was feeling sorry for her life delivering pizzas to scary houses when she heard a cat that needed to be rescued.  She climbed a tree and tried to save the cat but ended up looking into the bedroom window of the house that she was supposed to be delivering pizza where a man was getting changed.  Totally embarrassed, she fell out of the tree and on to the pizza that she was supposed to deliver.  This is only one of the embarrassing things that happens to Berry during this book and I don't think that you will believe me unless you read the book.  I read it so quickly because it was hard to stop reading because you had to find out for yourself.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did and I can't wait to find out what happens in the next book.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Hot Stuff Book Review

I put a bunch of reserves at the library and this one came in first.  Hot Stuff by Leanne Banks and Janet Evanovich was the first book in the series that I read.  I picked it because I had another book in the series on my shelf to read next.  This book was an entertaining and I was glad that I had a chance to read this funny story.

Dear Reader,
If you like hot men, hot action and hot attraction you're going to love this HOT new series! HOT STUFF introduces Cate Madigan, a Boston native from a large and crazy Irish family. Cate has far too much going on to get involved in extracurricular activities, like men and marriage. She spends all day in school, earning her teaching degree, and all night working as a bartender in Boston's South End. Ex-cop Kellen McBride has decided to make Cate's bar his nightly haunt. He likes Cate's sassy Irish spirit and wild red hair. He also has an ulterior motive for getting close to her. Cate has sworn off all things romantic, but when she comes home to a ransacked apartment, a roommate who has flown the coop, and a sleeping bullmastiff named Beast, Cate has no choice but to ask Kellen for help. Can Kate resist the charming Kellen McBride while keeping herself out of danger? Or will Kellen turn up the heat on Cate and everything in her life?
We know you'll have a blast with HOT STUFF!
Janet Evanovich & Leanne Banks

Cate goes to school during the day and works at a bar at night.  She lives at the apartment of the singing cross dresser that performs at the bar she works at.  Her calm life was turned upside down when she got a dog delivered to her door after her room mate disappeared on a trip.  Cate meets Kellen who decides that he is going to protect her from all of the bad things happening in her life.  She ends up with a lot of trouble going on in her life but she feels totally safe with Kellen and her dog, Beast.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did but you have to pick it up to find out what happens for yourself.  I promise that you will do a lot of laughing!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Father in the Making Book Review

I was ready to read the next book on my pile.  A Father in the Making (Love Inspired\Hearts of Hartley Creek) by Carolyne Aarsen was the next book and I knew nothing about it either.  It is interesting to go through my stack of books that I have picked up at the library with not a lot of knowledge and just because they are free.  I was hoping for another entertaining and fast read to distract me from my sickness.

Nate Lyster and Mia Verbeek are in perfect agreement—letting someone new into your life is much too risky. Mom to four kids, Mia can't let just anyone get close, while wandering cowboy Nate learned young that trusting another means chancing heartbreak. But when a fire turns Mia's life upside down, Nate is the only one who can get through to her traumatized son. Nate fits into Mia's family perfectly, and they soon realize that a loving family is what they both want. Can they put the hurts of their pasts behind them…for a chance at a perfect love?

Mia was getting along the best that she could after her husband left her with two young children and pregnant with two more.  He moved on to younger women and left her without any support to care for their four children.  She bought a flower shop and lived above it in order to make a life for her family.  She put her children first all the time and she was working to make them have the best life while growing up.  Then everything turns around for Mia and she meets someone that she can see sharing her life with but it isn't all for the best.  You have to pick up the book to find out everything that happens.  I hope that you check out this book for yourself.  I know that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 2/20

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Tacos
Thursday- Barber Chicken with white rice
Friday- Leftover Night
Saturday- Lasagna
Sunday- Roast Chicken or Breakfast for dinner

Last week didn't go as planned because my husband and I were sick so my husband mostly had nothing or soup and I did leftovers if anything while we kept with the plan with my son or whatever he was interested in.  It was a pretty easy because the fridge was really full from having company.  I mostly cleaned it out by Thursday but I had actually planned on leftovers for Friday.  We went with mostly leftovers on Friday and cleared out more of the fridge.  I moved all the meals from last week to this week and crossed off the food that was planned.  I totally forgot to take the lasagna out of the freezer for last week so moved it to this week and we had meatball sliders with salad instead.  I am hoping for a good week this week and still trying to figure out the weekend schedule so we will see how it goes as the week goes on.  Hope you have a good week!!!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Loving the Lawman Book Review

I grabbed a book off of my shelf from one of the summer reading programs where I got like 12 free books.  I have tons of these books and this one was the first one to get read.  Loving the Lawman (Love Inspired\Kirkwood Lake) by Ruth Logan Herne was a short book that had me wanting to know what was going to happen next.  I don't have any other by the same author so I don't know if she has any others with the same characters but I loved this one!!

Widowed and pregnant, Gianna Costanza comes to Kirkwood Lake with her world in pieces. She's determined to put her life back together after her cop husband's death, and romance definitely isn't part of the plan. But when she meets her new landlord and neighbor, she knows she doesn't stand a chance. Deputy Sheriff Seth Campbell is strong and kind, and more supportive than she ever imagined a man could be. Soon he's sweeping Gianna off her feet. But she doesn't know if he's ready for an instant family—or if she's brave enough to love another lawman.

This book started off with a little bit of a mystery because Gianna and her grandmother moved to a new town and there didn't seem to be a lot of reasons behind it.  After getting more into the book, you find out all the reasons that they have moved there to start their new life and business.  Gianna's husband was killed and she lost her baby.  She decided to start over her life and have her husband's child through an already frozen embryo.  After moving to town, she feels an attraction to her landlord and local sheriff but fights the attraction.  She doesn't want to set herself up for another loss in her life after her father and husband to law enforcement.  He is fighting with the attraction as well because she is starting her life with her new child.  You have to pick up the book and find out what happens to their friendship.  I hope that you check out this book and see for yourself.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

February Half of the Month Update

I can't believe that it is already half way through the month but I think that we have done pretty well for our spending. Check it out below:

Eating Out

There has been only one eating out spending at $18.81 for food when we were at the snow tubing adventure.  We haven't gotten a lot of snow this winter so we took the time and money to try out snow tubing which we have never done.  My son and husband had fun and we ate a lunch at the ski lodge when they were done but we literally got very little food with chicken tenders, personal pizza and french fries and none of the food was amazing and it cost a lot more then we would have paid at a restaurant for better food.  That being said, we were spending time with friends and as a family so I wouldn't have done it differently.

My parents did come to visit and bought food for my son at Wendy's and Little Caesars while they were here as well as Chinese food for my birthday celebration meal.  Those meals were all paid for by them and I am hoping that this will give my family their fill on eating out for the month so that we aren't spending a lot more for the rest of the month. Only time will tell how the month works out.


I was glad to get to the store a few times this month and I already posted the results and descriptions of the trips here.  However, this is about my spending so here are my three trips and my total spent so far.  I could have cut back and not bought the vinegar, salsa, chicken and garlic salt yet but they were all things that we are going to use in the coming months so it wasn't a waste of money but when trying to cut back, it was a little more then I should have spent.  While my parents were in town, they used all the milk that we had and bought another gallon so we were all set for milk for a little longer with no money out of pocket.  I am hoping to stay close to $100 for the month and I think that will this total at the halfway point, I will make it under budget.  Crossing my fingers and hoping to make the most out of everything currently in the house.

Trader Joes $6.95

Aldi $16.72

Giant $6.15

Total Retail $42.58
Total Savings $12.76
Total OOP $29.82

Here is hoping that you are having a good month too!!!  Staying under half of my monthly eating out and grocery budget so thinking that the month might go well and hoping that you are as well. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Smitten Book Review

I have been set on going through all the books on my shelf to read lots of them so I went through and picked a few easy paperbacks to start off with.  Smitten by Janet Evanovich was one of the first ones to go into the pile.  I looked at the library to see if they had the first in the series but quickly learned that this was more of a collection then a series with the same characters so I grabbed this one off my shelf to read while I was staying up half the night coughing.  It kept me focused on something other then my horrible cough and I was grateful to have it!!!

Single mom Lizabeth Kane isn't exactly carpenter material -- she's never picked up a hammer in her life. But she desperately needs the construction job that builder Matt Hallahan is offering. And even though he knows trouble is ahead, Matt can't refuse Lizbeth's irresistible smile.  Matt Hallahan isn't exactly relationship material -- he has always been too busy working on other people's houses to make a home of his own. And even though she knows better, Lizabeth can't stop thinking about the rugged carpenter.  Is the relationship Matt and Lizabeth are building solid -- or more like a house of cards?

I enjoyed this and when I went through my pile of books in my bookcase, I realized that I have two copies of the book!!  They have different covers so I am pleading the 5th but I know that I didn't pay for either book.  One of them will be going into my garage sale because I certainly don't need both but it did make me laugh that I obviously wanted to read it.  I am trying to go through and make some progress on the large amount of books that I haven't read yet.  Here is hoping that I might get to part with some of them because my shelves are overflowing with books even after selling at least two boxes at the last yard sale.  This book was very entertaining and a quick read.  I loved watching Lizabeth grow into her own person through her construction job.  She worked hard to provide for her family and at the same time became very independent while also learning that she can rely on other people to support her.  Matt becomes that person because he is there with her every day and working to win her over with his continued support.  When she has a strange stalker, he ends up moving in to help with the problem.  Lizabeth is set that she isn't going to open her life up to anyone and then realizes that she might have already done so without realizing it!!  I hope that you read this laugh a minute book and see all the trouble that they get into through the book.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hero at Large Book Review

I was looking through the books that I got at the book sales with my free coupons and found two Janet Evanovich books.  I decided to look for the series those were part of and I found a new series of books to start.  I couldn't figure out what was the start and the end but I did some digging and it looked like the list was backwards so I started at the beginning of the series with Hero at Large by Janet Evanovich.

It seems like good luck when gorgeous and mysterious Ken Callahan stops to help single mom Chris Nelson with her car. But then she breaks his arm...then his toe...and then his heart. Not easily discouraged, Ken moves into her basement...cooks her potholder in the spaghetti sauce...attempts to seduce her with cookies...and destroys her favorite pan by trying to make a roast in it. All may seem lost for Chris and Ken, until a meddlesome Aunt Edna, a ride on a Zamboni and a genuine love of family all conspire to turn their luck around.

This book started off with a bang because Chris Nelson had her car die on the side of the road at the very beginning of the book (don't worry Stephanie Plum followers...it didn't blow up).  There were plenty of comical parts that Janet Evanovich is known for because Chris continually has accidents that seem to happen that keep you laughing.  Ken moves into the house because he is in a cast and needs to get recovered before returning to work.  While he is staying there, Chris finds herself alone with him and falling in love.  I hope that you check out this book and the new series of Janet Evanovich books that I have found.  I know that you will enjoy them as much as I have.  I does seem like they are all about different characters after looking at the next one so they might not have to be read in order which might have been why it was so difficult for me to figure out the order.  I guess I will see!!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 2/13

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade french fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Tacos with corn bread
Thursday- Barber Chicken with white rice
Friday- Leftover Night
Saturday- ??
Sunday- Lasagna

Last week was going okay until my son got sick and I was barely hanging on with my sickness.  UGH!  I switched Wednesday and Thursday because I didn't take the meat out of the freezer soon enough but chicken was defrosted so I switched them.  Friday is normally leftover night but we had company come in so I threw in a cheese ravioli casserole that I had in the freezer before leaving for school pick up for my son.  We did the Roasted Chicken on Saturday night after basketball because we had time and Sunday was a little more crazy because my parents decided that they wanted to go out to dinner which was fine but I was going to be at work so they decided that they had to get take out for lunch but it moved later because my son declared that he wanted to go to the game store to check out their games before lunch.  I don't know if they are just going to fix dinner while I am away at work or wait for me to come home...planning is not a strong suit when it comes to this big group!! 

I am set up for an easy week this week although I have no clue when company is leaving so here is hoping that the meal plan will work for whoever I have to serve!!!  I hope that you had a great week!!

Friday, February 10, 2017

2,000 Posts Already!!! Where did the time go!?!

I can't believe that I have written 2,000 posts since I started blogging.  I wanted to share a few thoughts in my 2,000 post of what is going on here.

This post is currently finding our household a little sick.  I have been sick for a few days with congestion and sore throat.  I keep thinking that I am doing better and I get worse at night.  I am thinking that it might not just be allergies.  My son has the stomach bug that is going around his school which resulted in three loads of laundry after bedtime.  Here is to hoping that we are all feeling better soon because we are putting a big dent in the tissues!!

I had a great year last year with shopping and saving money even though I went back to work with two part time jobs.  I was maybe not getting every deal that I would get before but I was still getting lots of food and staying under budget.  This January was not the case because I went way over budget.  There is a balance for me between shopping and having time to make things at home.  I have to set aside my time to make rolls for my husbands lunches, do a little preparation for the meals for the week and bake desserts and breakfast treats.  I don't think that I made enough time to do that in January so I am going to try to do that more often in the coming months.  I am trying to figure out how to post and be accountable for the items that I make during the week so stay tuned for the new post format coming soon.

I have fallen into a rut with making the same recipes over and over.  I have added very few new recipes to my cooking in the last year.  The great thing is that we have a lot of recipes that we really love and that I discovered and shared with you along the way.  I have enjoyed my new Cranberry Orange Salad Dressing and Orange Lemon Shortbread Cookies.  The new pasta maker is going to used this year to try out some new pasta recipes.  I am going to try to make some new recipes coming up and expand our menu and special treats.

Super excited that I have finished my Valentines to give out to my preschool kids and my son has almost finished his Valentine's for his friends at school.  I started really early this year and I am excited to say that I found cards and bookmarks online to print for free and we created them and laminated them all for free.  There is some candy in both that we had from things that my parents gave to us so the whole Valentine process was free!!! You know that I love to put in a little effort and have a great end result without spending a lot of money.  I found a tag that says Valentine's Day Is All Fun and Games. I put tic-tac-toe, maze page, coloring page, x's and o's and a bookmark which are all connected with curling ribbon. It was super easy and super cute.

Of course I am going to try to continue reading.  I aim to read over 100 books every year and this year is no different.  I have books overflowing from my book cases and I hope to make some progress on those books as well as a bunch of free books from the library and through my three different blogging for books sites.  I love getting lots of books for free and enjoy the escape from real life but reading sometimes makes it hard to put other things ahead of a good book!!

I hope that you have enjoyed the last 2,000 posts and look forward to the next 2,000!!  I look forward to sharing lots more with you.

The Newcomer Book Review

I was so excited to see another book by Suzanne Woods Fisher that I didn't hesitate to order it.  The Newcomer (Amish Beginnings) by Suzanne Woods Fisher was the second book in a series that I hadn't even read yet.  WHAT?!  How did I possibly miss the first one!  I was still interested but then in reading the description I realized it was a historic fiction book which isn't something at the top of my list.  I was still interested in finding out what it was about so I grabbed it up.

In 1737, Anna Konig and her fellow church members stagger off a small wooden ship after ten weeks at sea, eager to start a new life in the vibrant but raw Pennsylvania frontier. On the docks of Port Philadelphia waits bishop Jacob Bauer, founder of the settlement and father to ship carpenter Bairn. It's a time of new beginnings for the reunited Bauer family, and for Anna and Bairn's shipboard romance to blossom.

But this perfect moment cannot last. As Bairn grasps the reality of what it means to be Amish in the New World--isolated, rigid with expectations, under the thumb of his domineering father--his enthusiasm evaporates. When a sea captain offers the chance to cross the ocean one more time, Bairn grabs it. Just one more crossing, he promises Anna. But will she wait for him?

When Henrik Newman joins the church just as it makes its way to the frontier, Anna is torn. He seems to be everything Bairn is not--bold, devoted, and delighted to vie for her heart. And the most dramatic difference? He is here; Bairn is not.  Far from the frontier, an unexpected turn of events weaves together the lives of Bairn, Anna, and Henrik. When a secret is revealed, which true love will emerge?

It took me a little bit to get into this book because it was a historical book with lots of characters that you had to keep straight.  Once I was in, I couldn't put it down because there were so many things going on with two family members stranded at another settlement, two family members on a boat and lots of things going on at the new settlement.  I needed to find out what was going to happen next and couldn't wait to find out what progress the settlement made in the new world.  My favorite character to follow was Anna because she was in the middle of a lot of action and always a very positive person.  Although she was missing her grandparents from the old world and all of the things that she expected to happen in the New World was not happening, she was still going through every day with a positive attitude.  I hope that you check out the book and see for yourself.  I think that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

**I received a copy of the book so that I can read the book and provide my honest opinion and review.  All opinions here are my own.  Book was provided by Revell Reads.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Magnolia Story Book Review

I was excited to find the new book about Chip and Joanna Gaines when I was looking through new releases at the library.  I put a hold on The Magnolia Story by Mark Dagostino.  I couldn't wait for it to come in so that I could find out more about this wonderful couple.  They are the two people who work together that we get to watch on HGTV doing Fixer Upper.

Are you ready to see your fixer upper?  These famous words are now synonymous with the dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. As this question fills the airwaves with anticipation, their legions of fans continue to multiply and ask a different series of questions, like—Who are these people?What’s the secret to their success? And is Chip actually that funny in real life? By renovating homes in Waco, Texas, and changing lives in such a winsome and engaging way, Chip and Joanna have become more than just the stars of Fixer Upper, they have become America’s new best friends.
The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.
They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day.
In The Magnolia Story fans will finally get to join the Gaines behind the scenes and discover:
  • The time Chip ran to the grocery store and forgot to take their new, sleeping baby
  • Joanna’s agonizing decision to close her dream business to focus on raising their children
  • When Chip buys a houseboat, sight-unseen, and it turns out to be a leaky wreck
  • Joanna’s breakthrough moment of discovering the secret to creating a beautiful home
  • Harrowing stories of the financial ups and downs as an entrepreneurial couple
  • Memories and photos from Chip and Jo’s wedding
  • The significance of the word magnolia and why it permeates everything they do
  • The way the couple pays the popularity of Fixer Upper forward, sharing the success with others, and bolstering the city of Waco along the way
And yet there is still one lingering question for fans of the show: Is Chip really that funny? “Oh yeah,” says Joanna. “He was, and still is, my first fixer upper.”

I loved it!!  It was an amazing story that you get to learn about Chip and Joanna's childhoods all the way up to when they met.  It was great to see the pictures and hear the stories with both sides of what happened.  The whole book felt like you were sitting down and having a conversation with both of them.  There was a different font for both of them so you quickly knew who was talking.  There were some stories that were happy and some that were sad but I loved reading all of them because you were instantly in the moment with them.  I read parts of the book out loud to my husband and son because it was so good. I  hope that you check out this book (and of course the Fixer Upper TV show) because it is a really inspirational story of how to hang on and make the best decisions in the worst times.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

January Reading Review

I have tracked all the books that I have read for many years and set goals for every year.  I don't really know what my goal is going to be for this year but certainly over 100 books.

Here is what I read this month and the title of the book links to the original summary and review of the books that I have read.  I hope that you add a few of these books to your reading list going forward and enjoy them yourself!

by Richard Castle

by Richard Castle

by Janet Evanovich

by Leslie Gould

by Veronica Roth

by Debbie Macomber 

by Debbie Macomber

by Debbie Macomber

Total Books Read  8

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Manning Grooms Book Review

I was reading the third book in the series right after the other two.  The Manning Grooms: Bride on the Loose\Same Time, Next Year by Debbie Macomber was the last book but there was only one problem.  There was only one single man left in the Manning family so I wasn't sure who was going to be married in this book.  I couldn't wait to find out what happens in this last book in the series.

A reluctant groom and an impulsive one… Jason Manning is content with his life as a bachelor, a slob and a sports fan. Then a precocious teen named Carrie Weston decides to play matchmaker, introducing him to her mother. To his relief, Charlotte is as uninterested in marriage as he is. But Jason's feelings start to change once he gets to know his Bride on the Loose.   James Wilkens was almost a Manning groom—because he almost married one of the Manning sisters. With that broken engagement behind him, he spends New Year's Eve in Las Vegas…where he meets Summer Lawton. She's just suffered a painful betrayal, and James promises her that in a year she'll be over it. To prove his point, he makes a date to meet her in Vegas Same Time, Next Year. Except it turns out to be more than a date—it's a wedding!

I enjoyed the first story in the book because Jason had always been on the outside fringes of the family and the only single person left.  It was great to see him find someone to share his life with and make him challenge himself.  Carrie Weston is the one who decides that she is going to match her mother with Jason.  It was a great story to watch Charlotte and Jason build their lives together.  The second story in the book was the mystery that was quickly answered because it was about James Wilkens who is not a member for Manning family but was once engaged to one of the Manning sisters. I loved reading about how James saved Summer from a horrible New Years Eve and gave her hope for going forward because he had already gone through his horrible breakup.  The friendship that comes from this bond is amazing and lasts until the next year when they meet up again.  It was great to get the story to come whole circle around to I hope that you check out this book and all the others in this great series.  I really enjoyed these great stories as well as the ones in the other books in this series and I hope that you do too!!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 2/6

Monday- Breakfast for Dinner and Chicken Fried Rice
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday-Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Thursday- Chicken and Rice Casserole
Friday- Leftover Night
Saturday- Meatball Sliders
Sunday- Roasted Chicken with baked potato

I think that this week should be pretty easy.  I don't think that there is anything too crazy going on this week so hoping that I can stick to the schedule pretty easily.  Last week went as planned and everything went off without a hitch so here is hoping that we can do the same this week.  I did have to move things around because I didn't get the chicken in before going to the basketball game so we had Monday night dinner on Saturday, and Saturday dinner on Sunday and moved Sunday dinner to Monday.  Super glad that we had three meals that we could switch around.  Of course, I posted this and found out that my parents are coming to visit on Thursday night so things are going to move around again once I sit down and figure it out...in addition, I got a congestion/cough thing that is exhausting so I didn't have enough brain power to figure it out today.

How are things going for you??

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Finally A New Month! February Shopping Started.

I was looking for a few things this month but didn't think that there were too many things that I needed to get.  I went way over budget last month so I was hoping for a low month to stay under $100.  Cross your fingers and wish me the best because I don't know if I am off to the best start.  I got a few things but I don't know if they all fall under the need category but the great news is that they nothing will go to waste for sure!  And I apologize in advance for my long Aldi story...feel free to skip the second paragraph because it has nothing to do with what I got but just my bad experience.

Anyway, here is what I have purchased so far this month.

Trader Joes $6.95

I went to get the blue cheese because we were totally out and my husband likes his buffalo chicken with fresh crumbled blue cheese.  This huge container is $3.49 and it is way tastier then the stuff at Aldi so you need to use less for the flavor so it lasts us awhile...although often causes a stink in the fridge so it has to be double containered.  I was in line forever when I saw the vinegar that I just finished so I splurge purchased it because it wasn't in the plan but I will be enjoying when I finish my homemade salad dressing and have to make more.

Aldi $16.72

We were totally out of milk so I knew that I was headed to Aldi's to get this and added eggs to the list if they were under $1.  They were $0.59 so I got two!!  I used the last two eggs when I went home that night so we are already using these.  I was out of the thin wheat crackers and still had some of my yummy cheese so I got two boxes which should last a little while.  I also planned on making Salsa Sloppy Joes next week and my husband ate all the salsa with chips!  Boo!!!  I got another jar since I didn't think I had anything to make homemade salsa and I just realized that I froze some jalapenos, have my free onion, and canned diced tomatoes!  UGH!  I might have to make some tomorrow and save the salsa.  I also got some garlic salt which we are running low on so that we don't run out.  I passed on the super cheap chicken because I didn't want to cut it and spend the money but I grabbed another bag of the chicken because I thought I should....we still had one of each in the freezer.  Oops! 

Then I had the worst cashier (okay not the world's worst because the eggs came home in one piece) but she was grumpy.  They closed down the cash register next to her which is why I got in her line in the first place because I actually had to change lanes.  The line went crazy after her and she called for the other lady to come back and she finally did to check people way farther down in line.  If she had just stayed and checked me out, it would have been way easier.  Anyway, my cashier was super friendly and having a long conversation with the person in front of me and barely spoke two words to me.  I kind of forgot to pull over to the area to pack the bags and I went outside...in the middle of cold winter temperatures.  Then I was thinking that was a mistake but I could throw the stuff in the bags outside instead of going around a circle to go back inside.  While I was there confused and trying to figure out my plan, a woman came up and asked if she could have my cart....which I was clearly not done using because I hadn't even packed the bags.  I told her yes because I thought she couldn't work the coin operated part to get another shopping cart.  She said that she didn't have a quarter and she didn't know why they wouldn't take other money.  I told her she could go inside and get change and they would help her.  She stood right by my cart the whole time.  I would normally carry my bags to the car but I got a little weirded out and said I still needed to bring the groceries to the car...she followed me.  I put the stuff in the car slowly...It was only three bags so there wasn't that much rearranging.  She took the cart and offered me no money..not even the dime she said she had.  I realize that this is only a quarter and people have certainly left me carts before but this some how this set me on edge and I was up in arms about my quarter and this creepy lady.  After giving up my cart, I was also thinking twice about going back in and getting that chicken at $1.49 per lb but I had enough of Aldi for the day.

Giant $6.15

I looked online to find the cheapest Heinz ketchup because we were at the very end of the bottle that we had.  We even put the date on it because I wanted to see how long it lasted!  The last date was 12/12 and we have an almost empty 32 oz. bottle.  Estimating that it would last about 2 months, I was hoping to pick up around 4 bottles of the 38 oz ketchup that said it was on sale for $2.50 each in the ad online.  There was a 32 oz bottle on sale at Harris Teeter but Giant is seconds from the house and offered a bigger bottle so I was excited that I would have time to do this before early school dismissal.  I went into the store and there was no sale tag on the 38 oz ketchup so I looked through the whole ad and it wasn't the ad I saw on the computer last night!!!  WHAT?!  I went out to the car and searched on my phone for the ad and only saw the one I was looking at in the store which started that day!  I must have been looking at yesterdays ad!  I was so not pleased.  They had another ketchup deal so I grabbed 4 of the smaller 20 oz bottle which were $1.50 each only when you bought 4 so I left with 4 bottles of ketchup even though they weren't the ones that I was planning on!  Don't you hate when shopping trips don't go as planned.

Total Retail $42.58
Total Savings $12.76
Total OOP $29.82

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Manning Brides Book Review

I was excited to get to the second book in the series The Manning Brides: Marriage of Inconvenience\ Stand-In Wife by Debbie Macomber.  It was just as entertaining as the first book in the series but this time I knew going in that it was going to be about two brides based on the title so I was interested to find out what was going to happen in these stories.

Rich Manning and Jamie Warren have always been friends - and nothing but friends. However, that changes when she asks him to father the child she so desperately wants. Rich agrees - if she'll marry him. Because he thinks their Marriage of Inconvenience could become a real marriage instead.  Paul Manning, a grieving widower with three small children, turns to Leah Baker for help and comfort. When that comfort begins to grow into something else, Paul discovers that he wants more than a Stand-In Wife.

Although the descriptions online seem to be lacking description on this book, I don't know if I ever would have read it with the description that I found on Amazon.  I loved watching Rich and Jamie figure out how they could both have a child without the romantic entanglements that they went to a lawyer to draw up paperwork.  It was great to see them let their guards down and fall in love.  Paul Manning was the first Manning to get married but he was trying to make his new life after the loss of his wife after the birth of their third child.  He was barely holding it together when Leah came to live with him and brought joy into their life again.  Both Rich and Paul working on making their lives more full with a family and love.  The journeys are amazing to follow and page turners.  I hope that you check out this book and all the other books in the Manning series.  I know that you will enjoy them as much as I did!

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Manning Sisters Book Review

I finished all the books that I had from the library and I was really excited to grab a book from my shelf books that I own that I still haven't read. The Manning Sisters: The Cowboy's Lady\The Sheriff Takes a Wife by Debbie Macomber was the first book in a series of books that I hadn't read yet.  I didn't even know what this book was about but I was excited to read it and check out the rest of the series out of the library.  Super excited to get to read this whole series without even knowing what I was going to read. 

Montana Men and Manning Women   "The only woman who interests me is you." —Russ Palmer, rancher. When Taylor Manning accepts a teaching job in Cougar Point, Montana, she discovers that life there is very different from life in Seattle. So are the men! She soon notices a handsome, opinionated, stubborn rancher named Russ Palmer, and he notices her. In fact, they more than notice each other. And after a few months, Taylor's certain of one thing. Despite their conflicting backgrounds, she'd love to be The Cowboy's Lady. "I feel as if I've been waiting for you all my life." —Cody Franklin, sheriff of Custer County
The first day Christy Manning visits her sister, Taylor, she meets Sheriff Cody Franklin. To Christy's shock—and Cody's—they're immediately attracted to each other. Intensely attracted. There's a problem, though. Christy's engaged to someone else, someone back in Seattle. So what's the solution? See what happens when The Sheriff Takes a Wife!

I was excited to check out a new series of books by an author that I love.  This includes all the great writing of Debbie Macomber and great new characters in the Manning family.  I think that this was a great book that I got either through some summer reading program or somehow but I am glad that I picked it.  It got to read about Taylor and Russ and Christy and Cody building their new relationships.  The crazy thing is that these Manning sisters quickly turn to marriage.  I loved to watch the relationships unfold for these two sisters.  The stories were almost comical with the amount of changes that they made but I loved every minute of it.  I couldn't wait to read the next books in the series so I reserved both at the library and picked them up the next day.  I read them all back to back before even writing one review!!  I hope that you check out this book and wonderful series by Debbie Macomber because I know that you will find them page turners just like I did.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

January Eating Out and Take Out Budget

This is a new thing that I am tracking because I feeling that we are spending more and more eating out so I want to make sure that it doesn't kill the budget.  The hard part of this is that we use eating out for celebrations, vacation, family visitors and other things so I have a hard time putting a limit or budget around it but I know that I need to keep track and make sure that it doesn't get out of control.

Little Caesars                                    $26.50
Crayola Experience $8.47 + $6.50= $14.97
Wendy's                                         $9.49
Little Caesars                                 $5.30

Total                                            $56.26

This month's challenge was my son's birthday party.  We had the party at the house with a bunch of his friends.  He wanted to have pizza because it is one of his favorite foods and since we weren't paying lots of money for a party out, we agreed to start with the pizza and then they decorated cookies.  They ate one of the cookies and packed the other in their bags to take home.  The rest of the goodies were things that they made like a frisbee pokeball that they decorated and poke cards that they created and colored themselves.  There was also a guidebook with coloring sheets, mazes and other sheets that they also took home so there wasn't a large cost for the party so the cost of the pizza wasn't too large when the rest of the food was made at home including cupcakes for the party and cupcakes for school.

We also took a trip to Pennsylvania for my son's birthday and we ate pizza at the Crayola Experience and then my husband promised my son this icee (also his favorite) and he paid in cash and doesn't remember how much it was but thinks it was $5.99 plus tax so I estimated $6.50.  We ate the meal that night at the hotel so there wasn't the additional cost of the restaurant but ate Wendy's for lunch the next day and Little Caesars for dinner when we got home so that I didn't have to make dinner to eat any later then it was already.

I was hoping to be around $40 monthly take out but there weren't a lot of extra eating out for no reason so I think that it worked out really low for everything we got. I hope that you did well with your eating out spending.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January Month End Budget Final Numbers

This month seems to have gone totally out of control.  I thought that I was doing really well at the beginning with super doubles but I think that I got a little off track very early in the month. Looking back, I don't know if I can point the trouble to one bad purchase or one thing gone wrong but just over spending in general.

Below is what I got for the month and what I spent:

Harris Teeter $4.99

Harris Teeter $23.03

Harris Teeter $31.51

Harris Teeter $6.72

Harris Teeter $16.96 


Aldi $11.73

Wegman's $25.96

Harris Teeter $26.99

Harris Teeter $42.65

Harris Teeter $6.60

Aldi $13.88

Target $3.67

Monthly Total Retail $664.79
Monthly Total Savings $450.10
Monthly Total OOP $214.69

 I am $54.69 over budget for the month with everything that I spent even though I used sales, coupons, gift cards and everything else possible to get the best deals.  I know that I bought a little too much junk food this month as well as some things that we didn't totally need but I got a ton of stuff for the money so I am not feeling as bad I should for going that far over budget on the first month of the year.

For February and going forward, I still have a lot in the freezer including 6 bags of ground beef, 7 bags of chicken, 9 whole chickens, 2 bags of cooked ground sausage, 1 bag chicken fries, 1 bag popcorn chicken, 7 bags of meatballs, 10 bags of cheese ravioli, and two boxes of Barber chicken left.  I know that I have plenty of things to get though the month and the only thing currently on the list is blue cheese from Trader Joes.  So I am hoping that I can stick to a $100 budget for February to make up for the difference in spending but if it doesn't happen then I am sure it will work out during the year.