Friday, June 30, 2017

This Matter of Marriage Book Review

I went to the library and grabbed a few books on the shelf because I was out of books and I was headed away on a long weekend trip.  I was looking for some light reading to enjoy in the car.  I got This Matter of Marriage by Debbie Macomber from one of the shelves.  I was excited to find a book that I hadn't read that wasn't in a series so I could read it whenever I wanted.

If I want to get married and have a family (and I do), it's time for a plan!!
—from Hallie McCarthy's diary

The alarm on Hallie's biological clock is buzzing away. She's hitting the big three-0 and there's no prospect of marriage, no man in sight. But Hallie's an organized, goal-setting kind of person. She gives herself a year to meet Mr. Knight in Shining Armor. But all her dates are disasters. (There's the cheapskate and the sex fiend and…well, never mind.)  Too bad she can't just fall for her good-looking neighbor, Steve Marris. He's definitely not her type. Anyway, Steve's busy trying to win back his ex-wife, Mary Lynn, who's busy getting married—but not to Steve. Life would be so much simpler if he could fall for someone else. Like…Hallie.  They're friends, though—and sometimes friends become lovers. Sometimes friends become more….

I thought that this book was a great story with Hallie looking for a husband.  It was funny that she decided that she was going to focus on her career and then woke up before turning 30 and decided that she was going to miss having a family if she didn't hurry.  The story of her many dates is the funniest thing that I have read in ages.  If you could make up the worst date you could imagine, she had worse.  I can't imagine wanting to date if I had even one of her experiences.  She gets through it all with the help and support of her friends Steve and Donnalee.  She joins a dating service and tries to improve her odds of finding a better date.  All of these things just lead to more funny experiences.  Everyone else seems to know before her that she has already found the one for her but she is the last to know.  I hope that you check out this amusing story and enjoy it as much as I did.  I think that you might imagine how it turns out but it is still a great story.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 6/26 sort of

Monday- Little Caesar's Pizza
Tuesday- Chinese Food Leftovers
Wednesday- Leftovers and White Rice
Thursday- Salsa Sloppy Joes and Pasta
Friday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Saturday- Homemade Pizza
Sunday- ??

So my son got out of school on Friday and my husband decided it was a perfect time to head to see family.  It was a nice little four day trip but I didn't get any of my posts up because I didn't have my computer and didn't plan ahead.  I barely had the menu planned for the week but most things got crossed off and changed with a being out of town and then two basketball game night.  We made it work to get through the week and I started planning for the coming month.  I am not sure what the weekend will hold but I have some plans to make it through with either meatball sliders or breakfast for dinner. 

I went through the freezer and there isn't a lot other than chicken broth left in there.  I think that I am going to be coming up with a lot of chicken broth menus to clear out the freezer.  We have three whole chickens that I am going to defrost and butcher.  We have enjoyed the two that I have made so far with a little salad dressing and some seasoning that were grilled.  We have three bags of boneless chicken tenders, some meatballs and some cooked sausage.  I think that there are very little options remaining in the house so I am hoping to make it to the store and stock up on a few things...I just can't figure out when that is supposed to happen.  More hours in the day is what I need!!! Stay tuned for grocery shopping update and eating out/take out update for June!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Naomi's Hope Book Review

I knew that I had read something by this author so I was excited to read this book. Naomi's Hope (Journey to Pleasant Prairie) by Jan Drexler is part of the Journey to Pleasant Prairie series.
When I actually looked up the book, I realized that I read the first book in the series and missed the second book and this was the third.  Okay, I didn't actually realize that until I looked it up online but I had a feeling.  Although disappointed that I missed the second book, I am glad that I got to read the first and the second books.  This is an interesting historical fiction series that still makes you relate to the people even though the characters are living hundreds of years before us.

Despite growing pains in her 1846 Amish community in Indiana, Naomi Schrock has settled into a comfortable life in her parents' home with her adopted son, Davey. Surrounded by family and friends, she tries not to think about the fact that she's not at the top of any man's list of potential wives. Yet when Cap Stoltzfus moves into the area and befriends Davey, Naomi finds herself caught between the plans she has made for her future and the tantalizing thought that Cap might be part of a life she never dared to hope for.  When a couple shows up claiming to be Davey's true family, Naomi and Cap must unite to make the decision that will determine the boy's future as well as their own. How can she relinquish him to these unknown relatives? And can God somehow bring wholeness to her heart?

I know that I was going to be reading an Amish fiction just from the cover but I didn't know anything else about the book before I started it.  I realized on the first page that this book started in 1846.  I started to remember that I read another book in this series.  I was ready to find out what this one was going to be about and once I started reading, I couldn't put it down.  Naomi was an interesting character that had me wondering what was going to happen next.  I couldn't help but love Davey as much as she did and I was totally invested to find out what was going to happen every step along the way.  Cap was an interesting character and I knew that he was a good person after getting to know him through the amazing descriptions.  The three main characters were all amazing and helped to really draw the picture of the time that the book was set in for me but still make me feel connected to them.  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the series because I know that you will like them as much as I did.  This book stands on its own without the other books in the series but I still hope to go back and read the second book in the series soon.  I hope that you do too!!

**I was given a copy of the book to read for my review but all opinions here are my own.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Middle of the Month Budget Update for June

For those of you new to my blog, I  track all of my monthly spending for all my household expenses.  I try my hardest to keep my grocery and household goods spending under $160 per month for our family of 3.  We also like to have occasional treats out like pizza, ice cream or other take out so we budget $40 for that.  Together, I am excited to stay under $200 for the month for both expenses which helps us stay under budget for all of our monthly expenses.

I can't believe that it is already the middle of the month.  I have been shopping but I don't think that it is too bad because I had a lot of couponing to start off the month.  We are getting low on a few things so I am trying to get creative and use what we have so that we don't have to stock up on too many meats and expensive things this month but I don't know how that will go.  I did work a lot with summer camp because it requires more preparation and clean up so I didn't have a change to make homemade things that I normally do so we were running really low on lots of things that we needed.

Harris Teeter $8.87

I got lots of free stuff including the shampoo, tea, gum, sausage and pizza crust but I paid for the cheese, olive oil and vitamins.  It was great to get so much for free but the olive oil was about half of the total so it was a lot more then I was planning on when I went to the store but less than it could have been.

Harris Teeter  $1.37

I got a bunch of free stuff like the shampoo, gun, tea, candy, sausage, and pizza crust.  I paid only for the cheese and the Zatarain's rice but I think that I got a little overage with the override on the pizza crust so it was almost all tax!!

Harris Teeter $4.34

My husbands shampoo was on sale and I had a coupon and it was super doubles so I felt like I had to get them.  When I went to put them away, I realized I already had two so we really shouldn't need any shampoo for ages especially with these huge bottles!!!

Aldi $32.86

I went mainly for milk and there was only a few minutes to shop so I grabbed as much as I thought we needed.  I got a ton more then I probably needed but it was supposed to keep me out of the store.... I guess it did but only for about 5 days.

Harris Teeter $7.26

I got an evic deal for a free Lara bar so I grabbed one and the last four boxes of Granola Bars on the shelf because there was another evic deal for $1.77 each for 4 boxes.  My son only had two left from the last stock up so I grabbed my limit and all that they had at the store.  Sadly, they are almost all gone and I need to get more already but at least they were low priced.

Aldi $7.26

Went to the store with my son to grab some treats for a pool play date that we had and some stuff to get us through the week.  Although I probably didn't need all the junk food, I was happy to have some special snacks for the pool.  We were out of ice cream sandwiches already after only five days.  All three of us love these nice treats after a long day so they are going quickly with only 12 in a box.  I might have to stop being silly and just buy two boxes!!!

Target $9.26 +5.93= $15.19 used Gift Card $0 OOP

We went to Target and my son picked out the Pringles for our special treat which we almost finished on the way home.  He wanted to try a new vitamin so we got those and got the regular ones that we had just in case he didn't like the other ones.  I had a gift card so it was no money out of pocket which was a great addition to the budget this month.  I still have more left and I might go and grab some groceries with it but not over the weekend cause it is way too busy!!

Harris Teeter $0.53

They were out of the Mocktails so they replaced it with any Ocean Spray which was actually sort of sad because I had a coupon for the other one so I would have gotten more stuff for free.  I also qualified for the Taste and Tell so I got to pick free peanuts.  There were tons of flavors and if I picked only for me, I would have gone with the salt and vinegar but since I was sharing with my husband, I went with the crabby chesapeake flavor.  YUM!  I splurged and grabbed one of the Kellogg's fruit snacks that were on sale and they had peelies on the front so they were $0.50.  It was a little treat for the end of the school year for his lunchbox.

Total Retail $294.41
Total Savings $231.92
Total OOP $62.49

I am excited to have almost $100 left in my monthly budget and a long list of things that I am going to try to make over the weekend to get us ready for a full cupboard and lots of food in the house.  I am hoping that helps to use the rest of the money to stock up on things that are getting low in the cupboard but sales really determine what gets purchased so we will see how that goes!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 6/19


Monday- Pasta with Pizza Bites
Tuesday- Chicken Fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Wednesday-Grilled Chicken with white rice
Thursday-Tacos with yellow rice
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- ?
Sunday- ?

Last week was busy but meals were right on track.  My son's favorite meal on Monday.  Two different leftover pasta meals and a homemade pizza on Tuesday.  Wednesday was spicy honey mustard breaded chicken (my son even ate one) and mac and cheese.  I chopped up the whole chicken on Thursday and put a little Italian dressing and beer can chicken seasoning.  It was yummy on the grill and cooked up pretty evenly with the way I butchered it.  We ate it with white rice and corn on the cob. YUM!  We had leftover pizza on Friday from my husband's work which was nice because I didn't have to do anything.  I was exhausted after two weeks of summer camp with my kids so I was excited for that fact.  Saturday was lunch on our own and I made a chopped salad with pan fried pepperoni, fresh corn on the cob and homemade croutons with the leftover grilled chicken for dinner.  It was a yummy treat made from lots of leftovers. On Sunday, I simple fried rice with the last of the leftover chicken and some frozen peas with the homemade chicken broth I made last week.

I have planned most of the food we have in the house to be made this month.  I have done great with butchering the whole chicken so that we can grill them and use them all so I might be doing this with the other ones because it wasn't that much work and made tons of food to have leftovers for a few meals.  I am also working on making lots of breadcrumbs from all the frozen bread in the freezer because we are totally out of them.  I took 6 bags of bread and made them into a little over one gallon size of breadcrumbs.  We are going to be set for awhile for sure!!! 

I am sure that I can clear out the freezer and maybe even get a chance to defrost this summer but I am still going to have to buy some more protein to get us through July and our vacation.  I normally stock up on lots of treats to take with us and I haven't made any plans to do that yet so I better get busy!!  I will have mostly chicken broth left in the freezer when I am done with my mission of cleaning out the freezer!!  I can easily store that in the two regular freezers that I have and defrost the big guy!!  My aim is end of July or beginning of August.  I guess we will see if I can get it done :)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Any Day Now Book Review

I reserved this book and just knew it was by an author that I really enjoy.  I was hoping to find out that it was the next in a series that I had enjoyed but wasn't really sure before I started searching when I got the book.  It says it right on the cover but I totally missed it!!  It is the second book in the Sullivan's Crossing series which I really enjoyed the first one a ton so I was excited to read this installment.  Pick up Any Day Now (Sullivan's Crossing) by Robyn Carr and check it out for yourself!!

The highly anticipated sequel to #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr's What We Find transports readers back to Sullivan's Crossing. The rustic campground at the crossroads of the Colorado and Continental Divide trails welcomes everyone—whether you're looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or a whole new lease on life. It's a wonderful place where good people face their challenges with humor, strength and love.  For Sierra Jones, Sullivan's Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She's put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn't yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet. Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she's always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it's a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan's Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.

Starting this book, I had no idea what to expect because I didn't see anything but the cover with stairs on it so I was ready to find out what it was about.  I jumped right in and had trouble putting it down (even though it was a heavy hard back book which is way harder to read in bed) so I finished it quickly.  I enjoyed the wonderful writing and getting to know Sierra and Conrad "Connie" who are the main characters in this book but you also get to see a little of Cal and Maggie who were featured in the last book.  Sierra is dealing with a lot with rebuilding her life in Sullivan Crossing after fleeing her previous home to live with her parents and then rehab to try to stay safe.  There are a ton of surprises in this book and a lot of action.  Sierra is learning to rely on her family and be stronger with her new "family" to make her new life.  I hope that you check out this book and the other book in this series to see all the great things about Sullivan's Crossing and the wonderful characters in this small country town.  I enjoy this one as much as the first and I know you will too!!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Friends We Keep Book Review

I am pretty big on reading series in order but it doesn't always work out for me because I do silly things and start a book that I can't put down before I realize there are other books in the series.  With this series, I started with the third book that I reserved without knowing there were others in the series and I went back to the first one and then got to The Friends We Keep: A Novel (Mischief Bay) by Susan Mallery which is the second book in the series.  So if you want to start this series in order, make sure you don't start with this one but add it to your list and get the whole Mischief Bay series!

After five years as a stay-at-home mom, Gabby Schaefer can't wait to return to work. No demanding toddlers, no stepdaughter throwing a tantrum. But when her plans are derailed by some shocking news and her husband's crushing expectations, Gabby must fight for the right to have a life of her own.  Getting pregnant is easy for Hayley Batchelor. Staying pregnant is the hard part. Her husband is frantic about the threat to her health, but to Hayley, a woman who was born to be a mom should risk everything to fulfill her destiny—no matter how high the cost.  Nicole Lord is still shell-shocked by a divorce that wasn't as painful as it should've been. Other than the son they share, her ex-husband left barely a ripple in her life. A great new guy tempts her to believe maybe the second time's the charm…but how can she trust herself to recognize true love?

I think that I really related to this book because it was about Gabby, a mother who was trying to figure out what was going to make her life make sense.  She had twin girls and wanted to get back to work since they were headed off to school.  Her husband loved her deeply but wasn't helping as much as he thought that he was.  Hayley was another friend who was trying to get pregnant and not having any luck because she kept loosing the babies.  She was willing to give up everything to have a baby and almost lost her life and marriage in the process.  It really puts things in perspective because there isn't really a reason to give up everything for this one fact which Hayley learns to realize.  Nicole is learning to make her way after her divorce when she realizes that she really didn't loose much because her husband left very little mark on her life other then giving her a wonderful son.  It is amazing to watch all three of these women's lives unfold and intertwine.  I know that you will enjoy this as much as I have so make sure you pick it up and find out what happens.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I did!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Already Home Book Review

I has grabbed this book at the library when I was there before the holiday weekend grabbing books in a mad rush because I was afraid that I was going to have to go through the holiday weekend without books.  Luckily, the few books I found got me through :)  Already Home by Susan Mallery was sitting on the shelf and I decided that it would be a good choice even though I didn't know if it was part of a series.

After nearly a decade as a sous chef in a trendy eatery, Jenna is desperate for a change. She’s supported her ex-husband’s dreams for so long that she can’t even remember her own. Until she sees a for-lease sign near her parents’ home and envisions her very own cooking store.  Her crash course in business is aided by a street-wise store manager and Jenna’s adoptive mother. But just as she’s gaining a foothold in her new life, in walk her birth parents—aging hippies on a quest to reconnect with their firstborn.  Now Jenna must figure out how to reconcile the free-spirited Serenity and Tom with her traditional parents, deal with her feelings for a new love interest and decide what to do about her ex’s latest outrageous request. In the end, Jenna will find that there is no perfect family, only the people we love.…

I really enjoyed this book and thought it was the perfect summer read.  Although it was super emotional, it was a great story about how Jenna rebuilt her life after losing her career and husband.  I love all the books that have cooking in them so this was one that I knew that I would enjoy when I started but it was way more then that.  Jenna started over in her childhood town and opened her own cooking store after working for years as a sous chef.  She knew nothing about how to run a store so the trip through that was interesting.  The strangest part was her dealing with her birth mother showing up in the middle of this life change.  She was totally side swiped by the emotion she had to deal with with the loss of her husband, job and compounded with dealing with both of her mothers.  I loved meeting and getting to know her mothers and watching everything going on in the store.  In order to find out what happens you need to pick up the book and see for yourself!!  I hope that you check out this book from the library or bookstore and enjoy it as much as I have.  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Evening Stars Book Review

I grabbed this series at the library and was excited to read through it although it went too quickly. Evening Stars (Blackberry Island) by Susan Mallery was the third book in the series that I read through so quickly and returned to the library before even getting the review posted.  I can't believe how fast that series went but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Small-town nurse Nina Wentworth has made a career out of being a caretaker. More of a mom than their mother ever was, she sacrificed medical school so her sister could break free. Which is why she isn't exactly thrilled to see Averil back on Blackberry Island, especially when Nina's life has suddenly become…complicated.  Nina has real life to deal with: she's unexpectedly juggling two men, Averil's marriage is on the rocks, their mother is living life just as recklessly as she always has, and Nina's starting to realize that the control she once had is slipping through her fingers. Her hopes of getting off the island seem to be stretching further away…until her mother makes a discovery that could change everything forever.

I know that I always feel this way about books but the last one is always the best one but I think that is because it is most fresh in my head.  I loved following Nina through this book because we got to know lots of other characters in the earlier books and this was a look into a character that we didn't know a lot about yet.  Nina gave up her whole life to support her mother's flightiness and her sisters future.  When given a chance to have a new life with a boyfriend, she has trouble choosing between two men that she ended up dating at one time.  She was upset that she spent her whole life feeling like a failure to come down to everything happening all at once.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens but I promise the ups and downs are amazing and you will be amazed at the outcome.  I hope that you check out this book for yourself and enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 6/12


Monday- Chicken Fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken Nuggets with mac and cheese
Thursday- Whole Chicken Cut Up Grilled or Baked
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- ?
Sunday- ?

Last week went with the plan exactly because there really wasn't any other option.  Saturday we had morning soccer game followed by homemade pizza and then evening event where there was a pot luck dinner but that doesn't always go well with my picky eater but I brought cookies...and they had pizza.  My son said he was the luckiest boy to have pizza twice in one day!  On Sunday, I had invited friends over for a BBQ which we confirmed on Friday so I got together a quick menu to make sure that we had enough options and ended up with grilled boneless chicken and bone in chicken, white rice, salt potatoes, corn on the cob, chopped salad with homemade croutons, and corn bread and then they said that they were having us over so I didn't have to cook.  So that was fun time with friends and I just made some treats to bring along. Summer is upon us and more time spent at the pool is going to mean that we have more meals on the go so I guess we will try to figure out how to plan for that.

Does your menu plan change in the summer??

Friday, June 9, 2017

Three Sisters Book Review

I got the whole series right off the shelf at the library so I was excited to get to the second book and know that I had it on my shelf.  Three Sisters by Susan Mallery is the second book in the Blackberry Island series.  I hope that you check out these books and enjoy them as much as I have!

In this heartwarming and celebrated Blackberry Island novel, New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery introduces us to three women whose friendship is about to change their lives forever. After Andi Gordon is jilted at the altar, she makes an impetuous decision—buying one of the famed Three Sisters on Blackberry Island. Now the proudish owner of the ugly duckling of the trio of Queen Anne houses, her life is just as badly in need of a major renovation as her new home.
When Deanna Phillips confronts her husband about a suspected affair, she opens up a Pandora's Box of unhappiness. In her quest to be the perfect woman, she's lost herself…and could lose her entire family if things don't change.  Next door, artist Boston King thought she and her college sweetheart would be married forever. But after tragedy strikes, she's not so sure. Now it's time for them to move forward, with or without one another.  Thrown together by fate and geography, and bound by the strongest of friendships, these three women will discover what they're truly made of: laughter, tears and love.

I hope that you check out this book about three neighbors who make decisions about their neighbors without knowing them.  Their impressions quickly change when they are dealing with their own problems and have to rely on the people nearest to them.  The women of the Three Sister Historic Houses are not only close together but become interesting and unlikely friends.  Andi, Deanna, and Boston are all dealing with their own problems but when they come together to help each other, they start to heal.  Friendships with women are always hard but support from other women is amazing.  I hope that you check out this book and others in the series because I think that you will enjoy them.  It is a riveting read and filled with lots of interesting stories but you have to pick up the book to find out what happens.  I know that you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Month End Reading Review for May

I read a few books right away during the month and wrote none of the reviews.  I was trying to play catch up when I was getting things done. I caught up with another statement that I wouldn't do this again!!  And I was quickly behind more then four books!!  UGH!  I hope that I remembered to put all the books that I read this month and didn't forget any but one might have fallen through the cracks with how busy I was not doing reviews!!  LOL!!!  Hoping to get better about posting reviews quickly after reading my books but who knows if it is in the cards for me :)

Here is what I read this month and you can click on the title for the original summary and review.  I hope that you add a few of these books to your own list to read soon.

by Wanda Brunstetter

by Sherryl Woods

by Debbie Macomber

by Richard Castle

by Becky Wade

by Beverly Lewis

by Susan Mallery

by Richard Paul Evans

by Susan Mallery

Barefoot Season
by Susan Mallery

Total Books Read for 2017

January    8
February  15
March     17
April      13
May        10

Total Books Read     63

Currently Reading:

Three Sisters
by Susan Mallery

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Girls of Mischief Bay Book Review

I read the third book in the series first and went back to get the first book!  The Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery was at the library so I grabbed it.  I was glad to get the first book to go back and check out the series.  I hope that you check it out too!

Nicole Lord wants to be a good wife, but there's a difference between being supportive and supporting her husband, who quit his job to write a screenplay she's never seen. He won't even help take care of their son, leaving Nicole to run the house and work full-time.  Sacrificing a personal life for her career is how Shannon Rigg became a VP at her firm, but she wonders now whether she made the right choice. An exciting new relationship with a great guy convinces her that it might not be too late—until he drops a bombshell that has her questioning whether she really can have it all.  Although Pam Eiland adores her husband, she feels restless now that the kids are grown. Finding sexy new ways to surprise him brings the heat and humor back to their marriage, but when unexpected change turns her life upside down, she'll have to redefine herself. Again.  Through romance and heartbreak, laughter and tears, the girls of Mischief Bay will discover that life is richer with friends at your side.

I thought that this was an amazing book!  I really enjoyed the story and the real life ups and downs of the families.  Nicole was dealing with her husband leaving his job with no warning and all the fall out that had for the family.  She was working in her small business, raising her son and taking care of the house so she was exhausted not getting any support from her husband.  Shannon was alone and hoping to move forward her career but thinking that made sure she spent the rest of her life alone.  Pam was dealing with an empty nest and trying to make a new life with her children grown.  All of the stories mix together in this small town and it is interesting to find out what happens but you have to pick up the book to find out for yourself.  I got it because I read the later book in the series and I wanted to go back and see what the other ones were.  I am glad that I went back and I am adding the second book to the books I need to read next month!!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Barefoot Season Book Review

I was at the library before the holiday weekend and I had to grab some books because I didn't have any left in the pile.  I left my son sitting in the kids section reading a book to look for something on the shelves.  I don't usually do really well with that because the shelves are stocked with all the books that I special ordered and returned so they usually look a little more familiar and less like new books.  I recently finished a book about Mischief Bay so I went to grab another one in the series and there was a complete series next to it on the shelf so I grabbed all three.  This was the first in the series and I was excited to read it.  Barefoot Season (Blackberry Island) by Susan Mallery was a great find!

Michelle Sanderson may appear to be a strong, independent woman, but on the inside, she's still the wounded girl who fled home years ago. A young army vet, Michelle returns to the quaint Blackberry Island Inn to claim her inheritance and recover from the perils of war. Instead, she finds the owner's suite occupied by the last person she wants to see.  Carly Williams and Michelle were once inseparable, until a shocking betrayal destroyed their friendship. And now Carly is implicated in the financial disaster lurking behind the inn's cheerful veneer.  Single mother Carly has weathered rumors, lies and secrets for a lifetime, and is finally starting to move forward with love and life. But if the Blackberry Island Inn goes under, Carly and her daughter will go with it.  To save their livelihoods, Carly and Michelle will undertake a turbulent truce. It'll take more than a successful season to move beyond their devastating past, but with a little luck and a beautiful summer, they may just rediscover the friendship of a lifetime.

Another great book that I am glad that I picked up!! It was a fast read but even though the cover makes it look like a great beach read, this one was a very emotional one.  There was a lot going on in the book with the characters and settling back into life after getting injured in the line of duty.  Michelle left her life 10 years before and joined the Army but after getting injured, the first place that she wanted to go is home.  It is an interesting story showing how she is working on rebuilding her life after a lot of tragedy like loosing her mother while she was going through major surgery so she couldn't be there.  Now she has to deal with all the problems that she left behind and I think that you will be interested to see how she deals with them!  I hope that you check out this book and others in the series because you will enjoy them as much as I have!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 6/5

Monday- Grilled Chicken with white rice
Tuesday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Wednesday- Pasta
Thursday- Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- ?
Sunday- ?

Last week went pretty much on schedule with the week and things were a little up in the air for the weekend because I didn't know what we were going to be doing so I had to scramble to create dinner for those nights but I got dinner on the table and we still enjoyed our weekends.  Next week is going to be fairly basic because I am going to be working longer hours with summer camp but interested to see how it works out towards dinnertime!!  I hope that you have a yummy week!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Harris Teeter Super Doubles Adventures!

It has been so long since I have been couponing and our cabinets are really starting to show that there isn't a lot of extra food because the monthly budget of $160 per month for our family of three isn't stretching very far without coupons and deals.  I sorted and cut all my coupons and loaded up my coupon basket with lots of printed coupons to hit the first morning of super doubles.  I had a list but it was a little vague as to what I was going to be able to get for my coupons.

I went to the store and started piling things in the cart and realized that I was going crazy.  I grabbed a small plastic basket to put on the bottom of my cart and started dividing the items.  I called my husband and told him I needed him to come to the store to get some of the things and please print the coupons that I forgot to print!!  He brought my son and we proceeded to take a few things out of the cart because I went a little crazy with the deals and was over the 20 coupon limit.  We narrowed down what we were getting and checked out.

My Checkout $8.87

My Husband's Checkout $1.37

My Son's Checkout $4.34

The best news is that my tea would be free after coupons and we were almost totally out of iced tea bags so I had started experimenting with the regular tea bags to see how many I would need.  Great news is that experiment can be over because I filled the cupboard with enough to last a few months.

I was also getting sad that we hadn't gotten any real deals on shampoo in a few months so definitely added to the stockpile.  I got 11 bottles for free.  It would have been 12 but I had to put one back to stay under the coupon limit.  My husband stocked up on his expensive shampoo for a fraction of the price because they stopped carrying the smaller bottles this is the best deal that I can get at $2 each plus tax.

My husband was sad that it was lawn mowing season and he didn't have any gum!  Problem solved with free Trident and 12 packs so hoping to get us through the summer months :)  He was also sad because I made my bread that he likes to dip and I didn't have any olive oil left.  They had two olive oils on sale and I got the smaller one because I had a better coupon so it was $3.99 after sale and coupon.  He was also out of vitamins so I grabbed the cheapest one with a coupon so they were $2.99.

My most unexpected deal was the string cheese.  It is normally $4.69 a package (obviously why we never get it).  It was on sale half price with the buy one, get one sale.  I used the coupons to get $6 off so they were $0.34 per bag or about $0.03 per cheese stick!  That is a bargain so I stocked up and we will enjoy them!!

My strange deal was the Zatarain's Rice Mix because there were two kinds on the shelf.  The more expensive ones were on sale for $1.50 but there weren't any flavors that I liked.  The others on the shelf were $1.55 so I paid $0.05 to get a flavor that I knew we would enjoy.  I always think it is strange when they put different ones on the shelf on sale and not others.

My favorite deals were the sausage rolls because they were $3.99 and the coupon made it free!!  The pizza dough was a nice deal and they were free after coupon even though the coupon didn't scan.  The customer service person put it in and took care of it easily.  The Black Forest Candy was free with my weekend evic deal so I got the sour ones that my family will love!

Total Retail $185.77
Total Savings $171.19
Total OOP $14.58

Super excited to grab so many great deals and make the money go a lot farther this month.  I am hoping that I can get some more deals before the sale is over.  I don't know if there will be enough stock but I am going to try at least once more.

Friday, June 2, 2017

End of May Budget Update for Grocery Shopping and Eating Out

I was going crazy with shopping at the beginning of the month and I had to put a halt to it but as things normally work out, I got too busy to shop later in the month so it is a good thing that I went at the beginning because I didn't have enough time later.  I started looking at the sale ads before the holiday weekend that was basically the end of the month so I figured what I could spend the rest of the monthly budget on :)  Then we made another Aldi list and spent another $17 so there was only enough for a few small items left :(  I decided on getting some soda for the summer because it was on sale buy two and get three free at a few different stores.

Aldi $5.29

Aldi $23.12

 Wegman's $10.93

Aldi $18.73

Harris Teeter $46.48

Wegman's $3.99

Aldi $10.80

Aldi $9.35

I went to the store because I started a list and we needed lots of things... and I might have added the ice cream sandwiches but they were yummy!!  I ate one on the car ride home.

Aldi $17.33

Went with the family and got more then was on the list.  I really needed potatoes but they thought chips and salsa would be important because we were almost out.  My son added ice cream sandwiches because we had none!  I added some nacho chips (some one got into them and they were almost gone by the next day) and my husband picked out strawberries. We added turkey just in case we needed it because they are frequently out of the kind my husband prefers!

Safeway $12.30

I looked a all the ads and tried to figure out the cheapest soda.  My first stop was the Safeway because they were on sale for Buy Two, Get Three Free.  They were on the same sale at Harris Teeter and I knew the soda price was $6.99 so as long as they were cheaper then there, it was going to be cheaper then 4/$11 at Giant.  It was a high math morning.  I had loaded a $1 off $10 purchase on my card and a free diaper coupon and went in search of my deals.  They had the soda for $6.49 so it ended up $2.46 including tax per case. 

Harris Teeter $12.93

There was a deal on the Harris Teeter Organic Pasta so I got it for free.  I grabbed a head of lettuce because I thought I was making dinner for 5 people that night so I was going to make salad.  I got the Honey Nut Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch on sale for $1.77 each and I had two coupons and a electronic coupon so they were $1.02 each.  Sadly, the best price I have had in ages.  I got one box of granola bars for $1.74.  The brownies were $0.97.  My best deal was the sugar because I used the sale price of $1.77 and a buy one, get one rain check so I paid $3.79 so they were $0.63 each even without a coupon!!  I knew I was over budget but I couldn't pass up these deals and the rain checks at Harris Teeter expire on May 31st so I figured it was worth using to get the deal.

Giant $3.60

My husband went to Giant to get corn for a BBQ and Turkey Hill Ice Cream on sale for $1.99.  We were going to just have salad but I asked and our guests said they wanted to chip in something for dinner so I told them that they could grab the corn for something special.  Super confused but my husband bought it but it was amazing so worth the stop.

Giant $6.15

There was a sale on ketchup and we just opened our last one.

My son's ketchup usage caught me off guard but I started dating the containers and now know that a 20 oz bottle lasts us about a month so I need to make sure that I have some on hand when this one runs out.  The great news is that this is the cheapest time to buy ketchup.  The bad news is that we are way over budget for the month and still adding things to the buying list.

 Total OOP $181.00

I knew when I set out on my last day of shopping (or so I thought) that I only had a little bit of money left in the budget ($13.98).  I had found a deal on the Coke and a deal on cereal and sugar so I went crazy and went over budget by $11.25 for the month.  Then I needed more things that were on sale so I did two more trips to the store and then I was $21 over budget :(

Rain checks are going to be expiring at Harris Teeter and I am super bummed to be over budget and not have used the rain checks but new deals will come!!!

Eating Out Budget

The great news is that we way under spent with eating out spending because we did a Little Caesar's Pizza for $5.30 each.  We also bought fries when we went out to eat for $2.20 and my mother in law picked up the pizza.  My husband bought popcorn for my son at the Nationals baseball game for $5.  The total take out spending was $17.80.  We budget $40 for monthly take out or eating outside of the house treats so we were $22.20 under budget for that for the month

So my over spending at the grocery store to get soda (certainly not a necessary expense) and the last two trips including corn, ice cream and ketchup will be covered by this excess and we will still come in barely under $200 for the month in both.  I am very excited because I would much rather get good deals on things at the store and eat out less but still enjoy some treats for the month.  I think that we had a good mix and came in $1.20 under our total $200 grocery and take out budget so there really isn't anything else that I could have fit in!!!

I still have olive oil on the list to get and it is expensive so it was moved to next month although I was very tempted to put together a rain check and coupon and run back to Harris Teeter before the end of the month and spend every last cent but I did that without the olive oil.  Here is hoping for great deals in the coming months because we use it on pasta instead of red sauce over the summer months.

How did you do this month for groceries and take out/restaurants?  I am surprised and excited that we ended under budget in total even though over on the grocery shopping.  Here is hoping that we get some good sales and I get to work on making the June money stretch farther.