Friday, March 31, 2017

His Holiday Heart Book Review

I got another book of reserves at the library which was part of the series of books about the McKaslin Family.  I have enjoyed getting to know all of the members of the family and this book was no exception.  His Holiday Heart (The McKaslin Clan: Series 3, Book 8) ( Love Inspired #467) by Jillian Hart might be the last one that the library has and I enjoyed learning more about Spencer who was the most mysterious of the family.

What can make a grumpy "there-is-no-Santa-Claus" kind of man smile? The sight of quirky Lucy Chapin. Something about the woman creates warm and fuzzy feelings within confirmed bachelor Spence McKaslin. So he'll just have to ignore her. Hard to do, since they're working together on a Christmas program for hospitalized children. The time with lovely Lucy soon has Spence thinking twice about spending his life alone. Because his heart is open to giving and receiving.

I thought that it was a great book and even got into the Christmas spirit which is always fun since it is my favorite time of year.  Spencer decided long ago that he would be a bachelor the rest of his life because he didn't want to risk his heart like his father did when his mother just turned and left them.  Lucy Chapin is a family friend who ends up breaking through his gruff exterior to get to know the man inside the rough exterior.  Lucy makes a big difference in Spencer's life and he starts to depend on her and realize that he is falling for.  There are always ups and downs along the way to make the story more interesting so you have to pick it up for yourself to see what happens.  I think that you will like this and other books in the series just as much as I have.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Her Perfect Man Book Review

I was excited to get to the next book in the series.  Her Perfect Man (The McKaslin Clan: Series 3, Book 7) (Love Inspired #455) by Jillian Hart was the next book in my pile to get to read.  I wasn't sure who this book was going to be following but I was excited to get to know more of the McKaslin family.

New neighbor Chad Lawson seems too perfect. At least to Rebecca McKaslin, who's been burned by a Prince Charming–type before. Worried, her loving family supports her time-out from romance. Yet, as Rebecca gets to know her handsome, churchgoing neighbor, his reliable, friendly nature challenges her resistance to relationships. Soon, she wonders if God put him in her life for a reason. Should she accept this rare gift and risk her heart again?

I really enjoyed this book because I actually couldn't remember which of the sisters was Rebecca.  It was fun to get back into the series and find out what was going to happen next to the McKaslin family.  Rebecca had just moved into Katherine's old house.  Rebecca meet her new neighbor who just moved in.  Chad Lawson ends up working at the church summer program.  They end up being good friends because Rebecca has sworn off relationships after her last relationship went badly.  There are a few twists and turns in their friendship because her heart is starting to have feelings for this wonderful patient and supportive man.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed this series.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Naughty Neighbor Book Review

I was totally out of library books and I went to the next book in my shelf that I had gotten for free.  Naughty Neighbor by Janet Evanovich was the next book that I had to read.  I was excited to get back to this series and see if this book had any of the same characters that the other ones did.  I had the original release of this book so it has a much different cover and I don't know if there were any updates to the book but there were some things that we are little dated like talking about the fancy car with the car phone... obviously a big feature a little while ago that is very common now because of cell phones.  Still a great read!!

Dear Reader:
In a previous life, before the time of Plum, I wrote twelve short romance novels. Red-hot screwball comedies, each and every one of them. Nine of these stories were originally published by the Loveswept line between the years 1988 and 1992. All immediately went out of print and could be found only at used bookstores and yard sales.
I'm excited to tell you that those nine stories are now being re-released by HarperCollins. Naughty Neighbor is the eighth in the lineup, and it's presented here in almost original form. Usually when I edit these books I do some modernizing. For instance, I change VHS to DVD, and roller skates to Rollerblades, and sticks of gum are now pieces of gum. I do this because the books were meant to be contemporary (as opposed to historical), and I don't want the reader to have a time disconnect. In the beginning of the original Naughty Neighbor, my heroine throws a handheld phone into the toilet, and the next morning she goes into the bathroom and sees the "slim silver antenna caught between the toilet lid and seat." Okay, so most phones don't have extended antennas anymore, but I just loved the image . . . so I left it in. And I don't know how many women wear front-closure bras anymore, but that got left in, too.
Naughty Neighbor is probably the most romancey of all the Loveswepts I wrote, but there's still a small mystery to unravel. Louisa Brannigan is a no-nonsense, hardworking press secretary, fighting her way to the top of Capitol Hill, with no help from her annoying neighbor, Pete Streeter. He receives phone calls all night long, he steals her morning paper, he thinks jeans are formal wear, and worst of all he's involved Louisa in the disappearance of a pig. So this is the story of a pig in Witness Protection and love being found by a workaholic woman and a fun-loving man who makes terrible pots of coffee.
Janet Evanovich

The thing that I really liked about this book was it was set in DC with Louisa working on Capitol Hill in the Senate.  It is fun to read about places that I used to go to and different local areas.  Louisa was working all the time and had no time to have a life.  She met her upstairs neighbor after she reached her limit of his rude behavior when he stole her newspaper.  Pete ends up getting her car destroyed and many other things over their time together and see ends up loosing her job.  It is a funny trip that these two take but you have to pick up the book and find out what happens for yourself.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I did.  I can't wait to read the rest of the books in this series.  Do I have any left??  I don't even know?!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 3/27

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Chicken tacos with Mexican Rice
Thursday- Roast Chicken
Friday- Leftover Night
Saturday- Meatball Sliders
Sunday- ?

I had it totally together and planned my meals ahead of time and then I realized that it was the end of the month again and I needed to go back and take an inventory to see what I need to make, buy and what I already have to cook.  We are all set as soon as I figure out April's Menu :)  I hope that you have a tasty week and figure out the coming month (or at least week) of meals.

I took a quick freezer inventory.  I have one bag of chicken cubes, 4 bags of chicken tenders, 6 whole chickens, 1 bag of ground beef, 6 bags of meatballs, one package of hot dogs and one container of turkey, one lasagna and 6 hamburgers.  I haven't gotten a lot of things through the past two months so we are running low on a lot of things including stick butter, hot sauce, granola bars, cheese, cranberry juice and more so I am starting my grocery list.  I am trying to make a list of the things that I need to get and make in order to be ready for the coming weeks until spring break.  Here is hoping that I get a lot of things done and enjoy an easy menu planning process.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Husband List Book Review

I finished all the books from the library and all the books that I had to review so I went to the shelf to find something else to read from the books that I own that I haven't read.  The Husband List: A Novel by Dorien Kelly was at the top of the pile so I was excited to read this book that was next in one of the series that I had previously read from the library.  I was really surprised when I started the beginning and it was a historic fiction book because I totally wasn't expecting that because I didn't remember any other book being historical but I went forward and I wasn't let down.

Based on the family from the bestselling Love in a Nutshell, the story of an heiress longing to marry for love or not at all... From The New York Times bestselling writing duo Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly, comes the story of a young woman's search for true love. Caroline Maxwell would like nothing more than to join her brother, Eddie, and his friend, Jack Culhane, on their adventures. While Jack and Eddie are off seeing the world, buying up businesses and building wildly successful careers, Caroline's stuck at home frightening off the men her mother hopes will ask for her hand in marriage. When her mother sets her sights on the questionable Lord Bremerton as a possible suitor, Caroline struggles with her instincts and the true nature of her heart. She longs for adventure, passion, love, and most of all . . . Jack Culhane, an unconventional Irish-American bachelor with new money and no title. A completely unacceptable suitor in the eyes of Caroline's mother. But Caroline's dark hair, brilliant eyes and quick wit have Jack understanding just why it is people fall in love and get married.
Set in New York City in 1894, The Husband List is an American gilded age romantic mystery. It evokes memories of the lavish lifestyles and social expectations of the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers―a time when new money from the Americas married Old World social prestige and privilege. Dresses by Worth, transcontinental ocean voyages, lavish parties, a little intrigue, and a lot of romance await in, The Husband List.

I thought that this book was super funny and obviously needed to be set back in 1894 because of the different behaviors and thoughts. There was a list of all of the men that were acceptable for Caroline to marry to improve her social status of her family.  Her mother is working to marry her off to a Duke or other royalty but she is not interested.  She is interested in leading her own life and getting to travel to new places.  Lord Bremerton decides that he is going to marry her to get her money so that he could live like he is used to living even though he has lost all his money.  Lord Bremerton tricks her mother into thinking that this is a good match but he is a very mean man.  Caroline isn't interested in this marriage and at the same time starts to fall in love with someone who is totally not suited to her mother's list.  Make sure you pick up the book and check it out for yourself.  I enjoyed the book and really thought that the interesting setting and change of countries was interesting.  I think that you will enjoy this historical fiction book even if it isn't your normal reading.  I enjoyed it a lot and can't wait to read more by this author!!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Boy Called Christmas Book Review

I was excited to unpack A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig from the delivery envelope when it finally got delivered.  Although I wanted to listen to it first before listing with my son...especially since I figured that it would be better at Christmas time.  I think that I was wrong because I think that this story is good all year round but it might be a family favorite to pull out every year as part of the holiday season to get the whole family in the spirit of giving.

Before there was Santa Claus, there was a young boy who believed in the impossible. . . . Lemony Snicket meets Elf in this warmhearted Christmas caper.

Eleven-year-old Nikolas—nicknamed “Christmas”—has received only one toy in his life: a doll carved out of a turnip. But he’s happy with his turnip doll, because it came from his parents, who love him. Then one day his father goes missing, and Nikolas must travel to the North Pole to save him.

Along the way, Nikolas befriends a surly reindeer, bests a troublesome troll, and discovers a hidden world of enchantment in the frozen village of Elfhelm. But the elves of Elfhelm have troubles of their own: Christmas spirit and goodwill are at an all-time low, and Nikolas may be the only person who can fix things—if only he can reach his father before it’s too late. . . .

I was hoping to get this book on CD before the holidays but I didn't.  I didn't realize how long the book was going to be.  It was 4 discs and they ran for 4 1/2 hours.  I listened to the first one pretty quickly and then I realized that we mostly do the listening as a family so doing this listening for myself before my son heard it to make sure that it was appropriate, limited the time that I had to listen to the book on CD.  My son is huge into the CDs and frequently took out my CD to replace with his without looking at what track I was on so I am sure that I listened to many parts of the book over and over just to try to get finished but it was all worth it in the end!  It was a great story and nice fantasy for the kids to enjoy.  I think that people old and young would enjoy this Christmas story about Father Christmas and how things came to be in the magical world.  I hope that it will also give children an idea of how lucky they are when they hear about the life of young Nikolas growing up.  I know that we will be listening to this next Christmas and I will put it in the Christmas book box for sure!  I hope that you and your family check out this great story and enjoy it together.

**I got a copy of the Book on CD for my review but all opinions here are my own.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Her Secret Book Review

I was excited that there was a new book out by Shelley Shepard Gray because I love her writing.  Her Secret: The Amish of Hart County by Shelley Shepard Gray was the next book that I got to read.  I didn't even know if It was a series or a stand alone novel when I started.  I was excited to find out what it was about.

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she'll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he's misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

I thought that this was an interesting story whether you are interested in the Amish faith or not.  Hannah had lived through a stalker and it changed her life because she feared everyone and everything.  After years of this horrible life, her family moves to another state to avoid the stalker and hope to rebuild their life but the fear doesn't go away.  This applies to anyone that has gone through trauma because people can't just change their mind but have to try to work through the trauma.  Issac helped her  repair the fear because he made her feel safe.  Hannah is finally starting to settle in to her new environment and there is a huge family secret that is revealed.  If that isn't enough, her younger sister starts seeing someone secretly and Hannah is very fearful.  This book keeps you on your toes and reading to find out what happens next.  I think that you will find these twists and turns excited and not want to put the book down as well.  It is one of those books that if it was a movie, you would be yelling at the television screen because you want to make sure everyone makes it out okay.  I hope that you pick up the book and check it out for yourself!!  I know you will enjoy it as much as I did!

**I received a copy of this book for my review but all opinions here are my own. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Amish Cooking Class: The Seekers Book Review

I put a book on reserve a long time ago at the library because I saw it in the new releases.  I didn't even know if it was part of another series that I read but I knew that I liked the author.  I was excited to find out that this was the first in the series of the cooking books that were running parallel to the quilting books that I had enjoyed. Amish Cooking Class - The Seekers by Wanda E. Brunstetter was the next book in my pile to read and I was excited to get started.

Will Heidi's cooking lessons turn into life lessons for five unlikely students?

Heidi Troyer cooks up the idea of teaching classes in the art of Amish cuisine in her Holmes County, Ohio, home. But is it a recipe for drama when five very different men and women answer the advertisement?

Join a class of unlikely Ohioans who take cooking lessons at Lyle and Heidi Troyer’s Amish farm. A woman engaged to marry, an expectant mother estranged from her family, a widowed mom seeking to simplify, a Vietnam vet who camps on the Troyer’s farm, and an Amish widower make up the mismatched lot of students.

Class members share details of their disappointing lives, work to solve a mystery, and stir some romance into the pot. Soon Heidi’s cooking lessons turn into life lessons as they each share their challenges. . .and their souls are healed one meal at a time. Is this what God had in mind when Heidi got the idea for cooking classes?

This seems like the perfect book for me because I love cooking and I love Amish fiction so this mixed both together.  If you are looking for some recipes, there are a bunch in the back for all the items that they make in their class.  Most of the recipes weren't something that interested me but I can't say the same about the book.  It was a page turner and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next.  Heidi is going through a hard time because she is unable to have a baby and she wants to make a family and home for her husband so she feels like she isn't living up to her potential as an Amish wife.  There is a lot of mixed emotion but she decided that she is going to start a cooking class since she is a great cook and she can teach others Amish cooking styles and recipes so that they can improve their lives and she will be able to do something to contribute to her family.  She meets lots of different people after getting a few people to sign up to take cooking lessons. She is eager to help everyone and make sure that everyone leaves happier then they came into her class.  It was a great story but you have to pick it up to find out what happens for yourself. I hope that you check out this book and others by this author because I think that you will enjoy it as much as I have!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Everyday Blessings Book Review

I was excited that there were a few books in the McKaslin Clan series to get to read because I enjoyed the first one so much.   Everyday Blessings (The McKaslin Clan: Series 3, Book 4) (Larger Print Love Inspired #400) by Jillian Hart was the next in the series that I got to read.  They seem to be harder to find now but my library had this one and it is available on the kindle if you are interested and can't find it at your local library.  There is a two book combo on the kindle as well which is always a good deal when you get to get two books together for a lower price.

When Aubrey McKaslin visited reclusive photographer William Corey, she found a man who had given up on life and faith. He said he was happy at his mountain retreat, but Aubrey didn't believe it for a minute. His eyes signaled a kindred soul, a man who shared her love of art and the outdoors. Spending time together awakened deeper feelings in them both, but could William trust in his faith and rise above his past?

Aubrey is the quieter of the two twins and has lead a quiet life up until this point with mostly just her family.  She meets William Corey who is a famous photographer.  He confides in her and she is immediately interested in him because she feels that they have a lot in common.  The more time she spend with him, the more they find out that they have in common.  The decide that they are going to be friends and share some of the things that they love like horse back riding, canoeing and more.  She knows that her family is going to push them together even though William is not interested in that kind of romantic relationship.  She changes over the story but you are going to have to pick it up to find out what happens.  I was really enjoying this book even though it was a sad book to get through.  I know that I used a few tissues but I enjoyed it regardless.  I hope that you check out this book at your local library or bookstore and see for yourself.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Every Kind of Heaven Book Review

I was excited to start on the next book in the series, Every Kind of Heaven (The McKaslin Clan: Series 3, Book 3) (Larger Print Love Inspired #387) by Jillian Hart.  It was the next book in the pile and the next one that I could find in the McKaslin series.  I couldn't wait to meet more of this fun family.

Though she wanted a family of her own, love seemed so unreliable to busy bakery owner Ava McKaslin. Baking and honoring her faith were all she had on her life's to-do list. Until she hired Brice Donovan as her contractor. And her best-laid plans flew out the window!  He'd long adored Ava from afar. Now that she needed his help, Brice wanted to show her how joyful life could be when there was love. He—and he hoped, the Lord—had big plans to give this special woman all the happiness she deserved.

Loved this one because I also "met" this character in the earlier book that I read by the author.  The great part about this series is that each book follows the life of one of the member of the family so that you get to see them in each book but there is one that is just focusing on them so that you can get to know them better.  This is about the bakery owner twin who likes to bake for everyone.  She is also a little flighty and can't seem to remember the most basic things like where her keys to her car are or what time she is supposed to be somewhere.  Although these are characters flaws, she is mostly negative about her track record with men and has sworn off all men.  She looses all that when Brice won't take no for an answer.  He asks her out and she refuses but she is then unknown to her the new contractor that is going to be doing work on her bakery and making it into her dream within her budget.  She decides that they can be friends and I think that you know where that leads in these books but you have to pick it up to find out what happens.  It was a fast and entertaining read with lots of wonderful sounding baked goods...but no recipes to share.  I hope that you check out this book for yourself and enjoy the yummy treat that it is.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 3/20

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- French Dip Sloppy Joes
Thursday- Jam Chicken with white rice
Friday- Leftover Night
Saturday- ?
Sunday- Herb Butter Roasted Chicken

Last week went okay for the most part and I made all of the meals on the nights that I was supposed to and we went with leftovers (which I can't remember) on Saturday after we were at a birthday party because my son and I were still full from the party.  I made the lasagna for us and my son had white rice per his request.  All in all we had a very planned week!

We have been working without a plan for the weekends and it has been going a little okay except that if I want to make a chicken, I have to take it out at least a week ahead to defrost in the fridge so this lack of planning has caused a lack of whole chickens being baked.  I have used all my freezer room and containers for my chicken broth so there was a little bit of a backup on the chickens because I wasn't making broth.  There are even some chicken carcasses in the freezer now but I ran out of those containers too.  I saved some glass jars to freeze in and I used some of them to get caught up on my broth making and freezing.  Here is hoping that I get to make a chicken either Saturday or Sunday depending on the schedule.  I hope that you have a tasty week.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Solider for Christmas Book Review

I was excited when I found a few other books by Jillian Hart at the library after I finished reading the one book that I had from her.  There aren't a lot of them in the series but I got the ones that I could and this was my first one to read.  A Soldier for Christmas (The McKaslin Clan: Series 3, Book 1) (Larger Print Love Inspired #367) by Jillian Hart was the next book that I got to enjoy the holiday season and find out what other books this great author wrote.

When the tall soldier entered the Christian bookstore, Kelly Logan nearly fell over. Could it be Mitch Dalton, the classmate she'd once had a crush on? Skinny Mitch had matured into a heart-stoppingly handsome man. And he wanted her to help him find a present for his mother. As they discovered the perfect gift, a friendship ignited. But friendship and a common faith was all it was. Mitch was leaving for the Middle East, and besides, after her tumultuous upbringing, Kelly felt relationships were hazardous. Yet, a lingering hope told her that perhaps God had special plans for them

Loved this book.  It was about Kelly who I read about in one of the other books who finally meets someone that she feels might change her life.  He is a friend from high school that grew up and into a great man.  She tells him that she just wants to be friends.  He works to help her study math, bring her and her roommate dinner and ends up finding lots of reason to be around her including shopping for his mother's birthday present.  Then they are separated when he goes back into the Middle East with the military.  She is worried about him and he is worried that the distance is going to turn their friendship into a split that he doesn't want.  It is a great story and you have to read it to find out all the things happen in their relationship but I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.  I hope that you check out this book at your local library or bookstore because I think that you will enjoy it as much as I have!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Can't Believe We Finally Got a Snow Day

The county decided the night before to close schools at 6:15 pm because the storm was rolling in.  I was thinking that we weren't going to have school but I was excited when they called it before we went to bed.  It is always hard to get woken up by text messages saying you can go back to sleep!!  This is actually the first big snow fall that we have had this winter and the first snow day so it was excitement in our house!

I started a list for everyone in the house of what we needed to get done over our day off.  Does that take away the fun??  Probably but I have things that I need to do to catch up and this is the day to get those done.

I started by rinsing all the dishes and filling the dishwasher before I made a mess of the kitchen.  My husband says that I always wait until the kitchen is totally clean to mess it up again.  I cleaned it all yesterday so I figured that it was my prerogative to make it a mess.  I got all the ingredients into the bread machine for cinnamon rolls because they have been on my list to make since we ran out.

I started a pot of sausage spaghetti sauce on the stove and mixed the filling for the lasagna so that I could put that together when the sauce was ready!!  I still need to grate the cheese and while the cheese grater is dirty, I am going to grate the cheese for tacos that we are having this week.

I made up two corn bread mixes, two scone mixes and one beer bread mix because all of the jars in my cupboard were empty.  I like having the things that I make most often easy to access so that all the dry ingredients are quick to pick up and dump in like a box mix so that it saves me time when I am busy.  I just use wide mouth mason jars and a canning funnel to fill them easily.

I filled all the dishes that I dirtied with my process and started the dishwasher.  I didn't get to all the dishes but I did put them in a huge pile and emptied out the fry daddy to clean that as well so that it would be ready to go for next week's french fries.  I decided that it was a good time to take a break and for me to get a shower because I still had lots more on my list to do!  But then I got to putting together the cinnamon rolls, lunch for my son and husband and the lasagna so the shower was put on hold again.

I told my husband that if he got lots of chores done then I would make some chicken fried rice and I added my surprise peas that I got for free the other day when I was shopping and with the leftovers in the fridge for lunch.  His list was to change the water filter on the refrigerator, paint the second coat in the living room and then crush the cans for recycling.  LOL!!  I made him lunch before he did anything because he put things off so long.

I grated cheese for lasagna and used the grated to grate cheese for tacos later in the week.  At the same time, I mixed up ingredients for pizza bites that I planned on making before dinner.  I didn't get those made before dinner but since they were sitting in the fridge already mixed, I started making them later as it turned out much later for a really late dinner.

I finally got a shower and took my son out to play in the snow which my husband started shoveling.  So fast forward to 8:30 at night, my husband and we barely got anything done but we are both exhausted.  My son got most of his homework done and a few pages of his Hawaii state pages so he did great even though there are still a few things on his list.  Here is hoping for another snow day to finish all the activities on my list.

I decided that I was going to finally make the oyster crackers that have been in the cupboard for my husband so that he could enjoy them for his lunches for the upcoming week.  Adding seasoning that I already have around the house is a super cheap and tasty lunch treat.  I didn't get to making them until 9:35 pm!! Insert tear filled emoji here.

I also decided that making a pumpkin pie would be a good idea since we had all the ingredients.  I had store bought crusts that I froze and pumpkin and evaporated milk... plus I love pumpkin pie and with it being cold out, it is the perfect reason to bake!  YUM!  Well, I didn't get enough time to make them and I was trying to figure out how much more I could make because I was down to 3 eggs!!!  Snow day for the win!  I might have to go back to the store because I didn't think that I was going to go crazy with eggs.

I was hoping to get a lot more done but that is what always happens when I make a list because I think that I have all the time in the world.  My list to get done in one day usually takes a week!!  Do you have that problem too??  My list was bigger then my energy could do!!!

Back to the Bedroom Book Review

I went to the next book in the pile of my Janet Evanovich series and the library only had this one in large print so the book was a little bigger but that was probably only because of the front.  Back to the Bedroom by Janet Evanovich was the next that I got to read.  It was actually the first in another series with Elsie Hawkins which I wasn't aware of until I was into lots of the other books was even a option but glad I got to read this one!

Dear Reader:
In a previous life, before the time of Plum, I wrote twelve short romance novels. Red-hot screwball comedies, each and every one of them. Nine of these stories were originally published by the Loveswept line between the years 1988 and 1992. All immediately went out of print and could be found only at used bookstores and yard sales.
I'm excited to tell you that those nine stories are now being re-released by HarperCollins. Back to the Bedroom is presented here in almost original form. I've done only minor editing to correct some embarrassing bloopers missed the first time around.
I lived in northern Virginia when I wrote Back to the Bedroom. My children were young, and we spent a lot of time visiting the Washington, D.C. museums and wandering through the historic neighborhoods. One day while strolling Capitol Hill I came upon two townhouses that captured my imagination. The houses were totally different -- a birthday cake of a house and a bran muffin of a house, and yet they shared a common wall. I wondered about the people who lived inside the houses. And eventually the houses inspired Back to the Bedroom.
Back to the Bedroom is the story of a young woman with the soul of a birthday cake living in a bran muffin house -- and a nice-looking guy with the substance of a bran muffin living in a birthday cake. They share some misadventures, some romantic moments, some misunderstandings, and ultimately they turn into wedding cake.
And for Plum fans, you'll be interested to find that this was the first of the four romances to feature Elsie Hawkins, the prototype for Grandma Mazur.
Janet Evanovich

I read this summary long after finishing the book and it couldn't be more true because there were some interesting parts in the book.  The most interesting was that Elsie Hawkins was just like the grandmother in the Stephanie Plum series.  The other fun fact is that this book is set right where I live in Northern Virginia and I didn't even know that Janet Evanovich used to live here too!! This was an interesting story about Kate and Dave who were neighbors who barely knew each other and then they got to know each other through a bunch of interesting events including some that you will have to read to believe.  Kate is a lifelong concert cello player who fills her life with her music and lots of hard work.  While Dave seems to not have a job and just stays home spending money.  Kate's life turns from boring to crazy and Dave is there to help her through it.  Kate decides that she can't possibly be serious about this man because he isn't a serious man but she might be wrong.  I think that you will enjoy this book as much as the Stephanie Plum novels because it follows a lot of the same rhythm and humor.  I hope that you check it out and see for yourself.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Home at Last Book Review

I was given the chance to read Home At Last: A Chicory Inn Novel _ Book 5 by Deborah Raney.  I missed the first book in the series (I think) and I read the rest of the series back in 2015.  I was given the chance to review this book and they kindly sent the book before it which I read first.  I picked up this one right after and couldn't put it down.  It was a great read with lots of insight into a character that I didn't know much about before.

Why did their differences matter so much?

Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he's stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters' efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.

All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother's white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn't repeat in polite--well, in any company. Her father's family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry's incarceration, life has left Shayla's father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn't people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?

Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl's aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee's On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society's view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?

Link Whitman is the only remaining Whitman child that is not married.  Although there has always been pressure on him because he was mothered by his three sisters and the rest of his family, they want him to be settled with a family of his own.  Link feels that his small apartment and entry level job is not enough to support a family and attract a woman.  He is working double shifts and doing all that he can to put away money for his future.  He meets Shayla Michaels at the bakery where his mom frequently sends him for the Inns baked goods.  Link has a near accident and learns that Shayla is raising her niece, Portia, and is very busy with working and her new role as mother.  Link is set that he wants to get to know Shayla so he invites Portia to come along on a date to the movies.  There are many problems along the way but you have to pick up the book and find out what happens with Link and Shayla.  I hope that you check out this book and you enjoy it as much as I did!!  I know that I couldn't put it down once I started.  I think that I read it in less then 24 hours.  I know that I lost some sleep but it was totally worth it.  The only sad part is coming to the end of the series and knowing that there isn't another one out there to read.  I have to go back and figure out if all of the people in the Whitman family have been covered but I hope that there will be another one because I enjoyed this family and all the ups and downs in this series.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have and check out the rest of the series too!!!

**I got a copy of this book for my review and honest opinion.  All opinions here are my own.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Close to Home Book Review

I read two other books in the Chicory Inn series and I was excited to see what I was missing.  I got the chance to review the fifth book in the series and they kindly sent this book with it so that I could get caught up.  Close to Home: A Chicory Inn Novel - Book 4 by Deborah Raney was the fourth book in this interesting series.  I was super excited that I read the two previous books but didn't remember everything about them since it was in 2015... I can barely remember what I did yesterday let along 2 years ago so I was glad to get to read both and catch myself up with the series.

Bree Cordel Whitman is a Whitman by marriage, but sometimes she forgets she wasn't born into Grant and Audrey's family. Her late husband, Timothy Whitman, gave his life for his country on a windblown hill in Afghanistan. Bree has let the love of Tim's family keep her ties to him strong--in the same way she keeps Tim's memory alive for them. But it's been almost five years, and she can't hang onto the past forever.

Fighting the guilt she feels for wanting to love again, she can't help her dreams about a tall, dark, and handsome man--a man who is not her Tim. How can she accept the flirtations from Drew Brooks without throwing the Whitman family back into grieving? And how can Drew compete with the ghost of a hero and the hero's very alive family who seem to hold some spell over the woman who shares their name . . . a woman he might just love?

I really enjoyed this book and started to remember everything after just reading a little bit.  Bree is the outsider in the Whitman family because she married Tim Whitman but he died fighting in the Marines.  She still feels a big connection to the family and even though she wants to start dating, she doesn't want to loose the connection to her late husband's family.  She still attends the weekly Tuesday night family dinner which helps her keep Tim's memory alive but she is starting to move forward with her life after losing him five years prior.  She starts dating and her boyfriend immediately wants her to cut ties with her husband's family and she can't do it.  She is starting to wonder whether she is ready to move on and if she deserves to have a husband and family.  This book is very sad but a great journey to watch.  I hope that you pick up this book and the rest of the great series because I know that you will enjoy the great writing and characters as much as I did!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Halfway Through the March Shopping Update

I did pretty well in February after a horrible start to the year in January.  I was hoping for the best start to the month.  I think that I did pretty well!!  Here is what I got so far for March:

Aldi $21.68

I had a list and very limited amount of time to get everything on the list.  I think that it was in the store for less time than the round trip.  I threw things in the cart like a crazy person but I got everything on the list that my son wrote for me.  I stocked up on everything that we were totally out of.  The potatoes were $3.49 which isn't a great price but it was a $1 less then when I looked last week so I grabbed two.  We use a lot of potatoes.  I haven't tried their hot sauce before because I had over 10 Texas Pete that I had gotten really cheap and we just finished all of those and the two back up Franks that I had and the two Tabasco that I got for free!!!  We were out of a hot sauce which is a problem in this household.  We were also out of almost everything else in the picture so good trip.

Harris Teeter $19.07

I went to the store to get the two freebies that were available only on the weekend so I was again left with a small window.  I raced to the store and grabbed these two freebies and a few other great deals that I put on my list including lettuce because it is cheaper than Aldi's and half price string cheese and ricotta.  It is going to stay colder for one more week here so I am fitting in one more lasagna before the weather gets warm and we won't want them anymore.  YUM!!!  The Coke was on sale Buy 2, Get 3 Free which is the best price normally at $2.80 a case and we were totally out so it was good timing...although probably a not needed expense!  Oh well, still a great trip.

Aldi $19.56

I went to the store to get lunch meat, pretzels, milk and Parmesan cheese because we were out of all of them.  I can't believe how quickly they went through the pretzels.  I also knew that we were running low on pepperoni so I thought that it was a good idea to grab them just in case.  I looked through the cupboards to see if I was running low on anything else and I was almost out of shortening so I added it to the list.  There was a lot of people at the store because we were getting a snow storm so it took longer to check out then normal.  Forgot about stocking up for the storm but I think that we are all set.

 Total Retail $106.61
Total Savings $46.30
Total OOP $60.31

I wasn't sure what was on the list ahead of time for the month but I think that as long as left over half the budget, I am doing pretty well.  With almost $100 left in the budget, I am sure that I can get some great deals going forward to stock the cupboards, fridge and freezer.  I hope that you are having a good month too!!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

On A Mission of Homemade Jiffy Corn Bread

My husband prefers Jiffy Corn Bread to any homemade bread that I have ever made.  I went to the internet to find a copycat recipe that he would like and I think that I succeeded. I found this one and this one and mixed a few different things.  There was another recipe that I found to make a big batch so if I get to that point, I might try it (you can find it here if you are interested)

I mixed the dry ingredients in a bowl. I was trying to think about the ratio or some of the other recipes that I use and I think that this one might have more flour which is what changes the recipe so much from the other homemade ones.

There is both salt and baking powder in the recipe.  It uses a bunch of baking powder so I was grateful that I got a huge container of baking powder from my mom for Christmas.  I was sure that I was going to be using it a lot!

I mixed all the dry ingredients together and it was pretty smooth.  This is the recipe that will be put in the jar for future recipes so that I have all the dry ingredients ready to make just like it would be with a box mix.  My pantry has my most frequently used recipes and corn bread is a quick and easy one to add to any meal.

This recipe calls for two tablespoons or melted butter or oil to mix into the dry ingredients.  You could do this before or after putting it in the jar but it seems like it would last longer if it was done after so that nothing spoiled or had to be kept in the fridge.

 After mixing the butter into the dry ingredients, I thought that it looked a lot like the standard box mix with some small chunks but mostly plain and ready to mix up.

I measured the milk and mixed in the egg in the measuring cup.

I used a butter wrapper to grease the container.  There is always a little bit of butter left on them and it is like using wax paper which I don't have.  It is super cheap and easy to store and use for later use.

I spread the dough into the 6 x 6 baker and baked at 400 for 15-20 minutes.  It was a little under cooked when I took it out so I put it back in and it was quick to finish baking.

It cooked up okay but the top was a little lumpy and not exactly like the Jiffy look to the corn bread but it tasted great.  We ate it quickly but the leftovers the next day were a little dry so I decided to make another batch with a little more milk which worked great.

I think that this is our new go to recipe with a little more milk because it is super tasty and just like the Jiffy cornbread but homemade from scratch.  I am super excited to find a recipe that my husband will like as much as the store bought mix.  It was one of the only things that I still bought the mix for because it was one of his special treats.  Now we can have it all the time.  I have the two mixes in the cupboard and I have already made it twice!! YUM!  I hope that you make some for yourself.

Copycat Jiffy Cornbread Mix

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
Mix dry ingredients and store in airtight jar or use immediately.

Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter, 1/3 cup milk and 1 egg. Mix well.

Spread in greased 6 x 6 baker or spoon into 6 lined muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes. If tops start to brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil to stop browning.  Let cool for a little bit before eating.

**Note in order to make it the same as Jiffy, I had to add a lot more milk and it turned out way better the next time!!!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 3/13

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Tacos
Thursday- Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken with mac and cheese
Friday- Leftover Night
Saturday- ?

Last week I never got around to replacing Thursday's meal so we ended up with leftovers which worked out well because we had a pot luck on Friday night which is normally leftover night.  We fed my little man leftover pancakes before going to the pot luck because I knew that he was more interested in playing with the kids and less interested in pot luck food.  My husband and I ate there and I brought beer bread which I made with things in the house.  Woo Hoo!! Saturday night was a question mark last week with options listed so we went with meatball sliders on the rest of the rolls that were leftover from my husband's week of sandwiches.  We had the birthday party on Sunday so we got food afterwards.

This week's birthday party is Saturday so we will see what we do for dinner after the party but I have a feeling that he will be ready to have one of his favorite meals so I might cook him up some chicken fries with leftovers or something we decide on.  Here is hoping for good week that isn't too busy.  I know that I have the ingredients for lasagna (might need Parmesan cheese from Aldi or make due with what we have) which I am also planning on making hopefully during the week so I can just pop it in the oven on Sunday but time will tell when that gets made with hopefully a little extra sausage sauce for the fridge to use later with some pasta.  Bad news is that this will be the last of the canned and boxed tomatoes that I have to make spaghetti sauce with so I am a little bummed that have not replaced the huge stock pile that I got awhile ago with new couponing spoils.  I think that the deals are getting less good and I am waiting for this amazing free deal that isn't coming.  I guess I will have to settle for higher prices soon because we are out of spaghetti sauce and tomatoes!!!  Luckily, we use those less in the summer months except for salsa sloppy joes so we won't need as much. 

Do you have any yummy plans??  If it is still cold where you are, are you trying to fit in some of those winter favorites before the season ends?  We are supposed to have snow this week here so I am crossing my fingers for a snow day even though I don't think that we will have it.  I hope that you have a tasty week and enjoy the end of winter.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Rocky Road to Romance Book Review

I picked up the next book in my series that I was working through.  It was The Rocky Road to Romance by Janet Evanovich with a different cover.  I was excited to see what was going to happen in this book because there are always some funny antics going on in these books.

When the delightful, daffy Dog Lady of station WZZZ offered to take on the temporary job of traffic reporter, Steve Crow tried to think of reasons to turn Daisy Adams down! Perhaps he knew that sharing the close quarters of a car with her for hours would give the handsome program director no room to resist her quirky charms. He always favored low slung sports cars and high heeled women, but that was before he fell for a free spirit who caught crooks by accident, loved old people and pets, and had just too many jobs! Loving Daisy turned Steve's life upside down, especially once he adopted Bob, a huge dog masquerading as a couch potato..

I was not let down by this funny adventure of Daisy Adams who was working really hard to support her brother and her household expenses.  She was working as a crossing guard, newspaper delivery person, a radio station host, an author, and any other job she could fit in to her schedule.  When there is an opening at the radio station for a much higher paying job, she jumps at it when no one else wants it.  Steve Crow is her boss and is having trouble resisting her charms.  He tried his car and condo for a new life in trying to win her over and it is a funny trip along the way.  Make sure you pick up the book to see for yourself.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Love Overboard Book Review

I was excited to get to the next book in the series and find out what it was all about.  Love Overboard by Janet Evanovich was an interesting and funny read with lots more antics from the two main characters that has you remembering Stephanie Plum novels.  The book I read was a different cover from the library but when I looked it up the pink cover is no longer sold and I think that this cover with the picture gives you a better idea about what the story is about and what the house looks like.

She's been called "side-splittingly funny" (Publishers Weekly), "a blast of fresh air" (Washington Post), and "a winner" (Glamour). She is, of course, Janet Evanovich, the award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum mystery series. Now available for the first time in more than a decade comes Love Overboard, the hilarious story of a sinfully handsome schooner captain and the spirited woman who agrees to work on his cruise ship. It's a classic novel of comic mayhem from the incomparable Janet Evanovich.

This book has the worst description and summary on Amazon that I have ever seen.  I think that when they re-release books because the author now has a name for other books that they must put less money into it.  Stephanie is living in a historic house in Maine that is falling apart.  She goes on a ship to work because her cousin Lucy is going off to get married.  Ivan Ramussen is the ship captain and also happens to be the previous owner of Stephanie's house.  She is mad at him for selling her a falling down house and even more so for trapping her on the boat to cook for all the people aboard.  They end up becoming close and when the ship is underway but Stephanie but she knows that it is just a ship board romance until Ivan shows up asking to rent a room in her house for the winter.  The ship and the house are filled with funny stories that you have to read to believe.  I enjoyed this fun read and couldn't put it down!  I hope that you enjoy this as much as I did!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Wife for Hire Book Review

I moved on to the next book in my pile which was Wife for Hire by Janet Evanovich.  I was excited to read another great book in the series that I have been enjoying.  The great thing is that these are little paper backs that fit into my bag so that I can easily carry them everywhere to read a little when I get a chance anywhere.  I always carry a book with me so that I can read whenever I have a chance.

Hank Mallone knows he's in trouble when Maggie Toone agrees to pretend to be his wife in order to improve his rogue's reputation. Will his harebrained scheme to get a bank loan for his business backfire once Maggie arrives in his small Vermont town and lets the gossips take a look?  Maggie never expected her employer to be drop-dead handsome, but she's too intrigued by his offer to say no . . . and too eager to escape a life that made her feel trapped. The deal is strictly business, both agree, until Hank turns out to be every fantasy she ever had.

I loved Maggie from the first time meeting her in this book because she has an amazing personality.  She was a crazy red head that was sick of the life she was living in her small town so she decided to leave her teaching job to write a book about her Aunt Kitty.  In order to support herself, she still needs a job so she goes to an employment agency that finds her a job as a wife for hire.  She meets Hank and decides that she is going to take the job and get the chance to write her book.  There are so many funny antics in this book with Maggie, Hank and they housekeeper.  It is a laugh a minute in this page turner.  I hope that you check out this book and all the others in this series.  I know that you will enjoy them as much as I have.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

February End of the Month Budget Update

I was set on staying under budget this month.  I might have gone a little overboard on that mission with my first three trips to the store in the first three days of the month but I start to get worried when I do too many trips too quickly because it usually means that there will be a big trip that will throw me over.  The great news is that I didn't have a bunch of trips to the store.  Here are the pictures for you to check out what I got this month:

Trader Joes $6.95

Aldi $16.72

Giant $6.15

Harris Teeter $7.13

My husband told me that we were down to our last two boxes of my son's oatmeal because he makes it for him in the morning.  I was super glad to get this awesome deal for free yogurt, free soup and the many deals to make cheap oatmeal.  I got an evic deal for $1.97 limit 4 and the other two were $2.50.  If I bought 5, there was an instant rebate for $3.  I bought 6 so that I can use three $1/2 coupons.  I didn't even do the math until afterwards but buying 5 boxes would have been a little cheaper per box but I knew that it was a great deal at $1.15 per box instead of the shelf price of almost $4.

Aldi $23.28

My last trip of the month which was put off as long as my family would let me because I was trying to recover from another sickness but we were starting to run out of things.  I got pretzels, thin wheat crackers, saltines, turkey and oyster crackers because we were out of all of them.  The eggs were $0.59 and there was a $0.10 Mobi Save discount so I figured it was a good price even though we still had 10 eggs at home (although I wasn't sure how many I had because I didn't check).  I grabbed milk, butter, cheddar cheese and chicken because they were things that we were running low on and they were good prices. 

Target $32.60

We mostly went to get medicine but we ended up picking up presents for birthday party we have coming up and some snow clearance items for building an igloo if we ever get snow.  Not all of these things are household goods but I am going to throw it all in the budget for lack of anywhere else to put it and the majority of the spending was on the medicines.

Total Retail $152.50
Total Savings $59.67
Total OOP $92.83

Super excited to say that I ended the month well under budget and under the $100 that I was trying to spend to save from last months overspending.  There were things that I am sure that I could have picked up some more deals but we got everything that we needed for the month including the things that we ran out of before.  I didn't use the vinegar, salsa, garlic salt, frozen chicken, oatmeal, soup or yogurt yet but it isn't like I have a crazy stockpile of these things but replacing things that we used up.  I got great prices and we will certainly use everything in the months to come.  I found that barely any of my shopping actually gets used in the month that I buy it because I am working with what I have and planning ahead.  

We started making my shopping list for March and I currently need potatoes, rice, lettuce and chicken fries. I don't know what else we will be getting over the month but searching for the best deals for the coming months.

How did you do this month??  I hope that everyone is under budget!