Monday, July 31, 2017

More Shopping and Eating for the Month!! Did I go overboard???

I got a ton of things at the beginning of the month which I went into detail here if you missed it.  Below are the totals and the pictures for the whole month on everything that I got for the month.  I think that I got a lot and got some great deals but I might have still gotten a little too much for the month.  I guess that happens with vacation and a crazy long month. 

Harris Teeter $7.93 + $8.30= $16.23

Aldi $11.54

Wegman's $29.60

Aldi $5.56 - $2.04= $3.52

Aldi $2.75 - $2.96= -$0.21

Harris Teeter $6.82

Weis $13.11

Aldi $13.71

First Half of July Total Retail $228.86
First Half of July Total Saving $134.54
First Half of July Total OOP $94.32

Harris Teeter $36.42 + $1.12= $37.54

I went to the store because I had a weekend only deal to get free HT Popsicles.  I didn't make it to the store until Sunday afternoon and I was amazed to find they still had some.  Super excited but surprised!!  My son and I ate one each on the way home! YUM!

My family wanted to go together so that we could pick up the ice cream flavors so that I wouldn't have to do it over the phone.  I was also glad to find the tortillas for $0.99 and my husband was excited to find the HT brand pop tarts for $1.  My son's favorite deal was getting the granola bars for $1.67 so we bought every one on the shelf even though I didn't have coupons.  We bought the two boxes of Cocoa Pebbles for my son which were on sale on my card for $1.87 so I used a coupon for $1/2 and then there was a rebate.

Before I left, I went on Homemaking Mom to find out what other deals I should pick up.  I got some free Hormel Rev Wraps so I picked up three and my husband picked up three.  I got free salad dressing so I picked up three and my husband picked up three.  There was also two Annie free mac and cheese microwave bowls because I only had two coupons.  I love coupons and sales that make things free and I love even more when I have someone else and more coupons to buy more for free. 

I put in lots of rebates when I got home to off set it.  I got $2.10 through Ibotta including $0.25 for the granola bars, $0.80 for both Cocoa Pebbles and $0.25 for any item.  I got $1.00 rebate on Mobi Save for the salad dressing.  I got $0.75 back from Checkout 51 for the Hormel Rev Wrap.  I got $3.85 back for the stuff that I bought which is a pretty good day for me in rebates.  The great bonus is that I used at least 13 coupons to get Swagbucks money back in addition towards my next gift card purchase.

Aldi $21.96
I went to Aldi knowing that I had a limited budget left for the month so I quickly write a list and added up the amounts for everything on the list which put me under my budget.  When I was at the store, I grabbed two bags of chips, two blocks of cheese, package of lunch meat, 10 lbs of potatoes, chicken fries and popcorn chicken.  If I paid closer attention to the freezer, I would have seen that I only needed the popcorn chicken but the other won't go to waste by any means.  The lines were long and the women let me go in front of her because I was carrying everything because I was too stubborn to get a cart.  The lunch meat was the only thing that I added to my list while I was in the store so I knew that I would still be under budget when it was all totaled but I still held my breath.  Woo Hoo!!  I added correctly and got put of the store with my few bags of groceries.

Harris Teeter $20.00

I saved a little money in the budget to get some deals with the Harris Teeter sale and weekend freebies but it wasn't nearly enough!! Although I got some great deals.  I got free Oreo Cookies with the weekend promotion.

I also got free Ramen noodles, free Bratwurt (reduced meat clearance), and free Knorr Rice sides.  The chicken breast were on sale for $0.88 per lb if you bought $25 of groceries.  I wasn't sure how it was going to count the groceries but it is usually before coupons but after sale prices so luckily it worked out okay.  There was a electronic deal for the Jif Peanut Butter to be $1.77 limit 4 and it happens to be one of my favorites and the season to stock up on peanut butter even though I don't have any coupons.  I got the Newman's Own salad dressing on sale for $2.50 less $1 electronic coupon, $1 manufacturer coupon for $0.50 and then put in the $1 rebate for Ibotta.  I got the Purell for a back to school gift for the teacher because it was on sale for $2.50 and I used a $1 coupon and did the $1 Ibotta rebate even though the Checkout 51 offer was gone.  I bought margarine for $0.99 each which wasn't on sale but we are out.

My crazy deal that I wasn't going to splurge on was the Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches which were shelf price of $5.49.  They were on sale B1G1 which really means they are half off.  I printed a coupon online for $1.50/1 or $3.00/2.  There was a deal on Ibotta to get $1 limit 2 so I went for it.  I paid $1.25 each and got the rebate back so they were $0.25 after rebate.  I figured that if I didn't take this deal then we would never try them so it was worth a try!!  We haven't gotten ice cream at the pool yet this year or from the ice cream man so this will be our special treat for way less then we would spend on them.

I went to the store mainly to get the Coke because we are totally out (okay my husband was saving his one last one for an emergency) and they were finally on sale buy two and get three free.  They are normally priced $6.99 so it works out $2.79 per case which still isn't the greatest deal.  I am going to start being better about searching the deals as soon as my little guy is back to school.

The deals ended up being a little bit sweeter which I didn't realize until I got home because the cashier didn't ring up the Brats but only the coupon off the front so I got the $3 off the Brats without the $3 charge for the Brats so I ended up getting $12 off the total purchase.  I was totally upset for going to the store knowing that I was going to go over budget but I knew it ahead of time and only bought what was on the list... adding in the Brats.  I turned in $4.25 in Ibotta rebates too so that was a great bonus too.

Second Half of July Total Retail $246.29
Second Half of July Total Saving $166.79
Second Half of July Total OOP $79.50

Over budget by $13.82 but I still think that I did amazing this month.  I did great turning in rebates for tons of things so I got back $2 through Mobi Save, $1.75 through Saving Star, $2.50 through Checkout 51, and $12.95 through Ibotta which is $19.20.  This is a huge jump up from last month where I turned in $1.15 to all of the sites!!  Of course, it might mean that I am getting too many things that aren't good enough prices in the store but after I transfer everything to Pay Pal, it will all work out to more money.

I am totally blaming the overage on vacation because it usually brings us more over budget then this so I going to call it a win and see how much food I bought this month for so little.  

July Total Retail $475.15
July Total Saving $301.33
July Total OOP $173.82

Eating Out Total

For the first half of the month, I had the Papa John's unexpectedly high total for $38.00 and the McDonald's purchase at $3.99.

My husband bought my son a snow cone at a swim meet which I knew he wouldn't eat for $2 but I thought that my husband was going to eat it when my son didn't....he said that he didn't remember that my son didn't like them.  We had a discussion that we wouldn't be buying them in the future because they don't have a lot of flavor and although they look like they should be cooling, ice cream would be better!  He doesn't ask for a lot of those impulse food purchases so it was worth the $2 for him to try it and not be mad that we were saying no.

 I did get very tempted by the call of pizza at the pool instead of making dinner one weekend but I resisted.

Total $43.99 OOP for take out which is only $3.99 over budget which I would call a win for a vacation month for sure. 

Hope you guys had a good month as well!!!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Confessions of Domestic Failure Book Review

I saw this new release book and reserved it with about a million other people.  Confessions of a Domestic Failure: A Humorous Book About a not so Perfect Mom by Bunmi Laditan finally came in and I was excited to get started.  I knew that I had to finish it because there was such a wait that I wouldn't be able to renew it.  Luckily, I got it read quickly and returned it to the library without delay.  I would hate to have to pay a fine for a book or keep someone else waiting.

There are good moms and bad moms—and then there are hot-mess moms. Introducing Ashley Keller, career girl turned stay-at-home mom who's trying to navigate the world of Pinterest-perfect, Facebook-fantastic and Instagram-impressive mommies but failing miserably.
When Ashley gets the opportunity to participate in the Motherhood Better boot camp run by the mommy-blog-empire maven she idolizes, she jumps at the chance to become the perfect mom she's always wanted to be. But will she fly high or flop?
With her razor-sharp wit and knack for finding the funny in everything, Bunmi Laditan creates a character as flawed and lovable as Bridget Jones or Becky Bloomwood while hilariously lambasting the societal pressures placed upon every new mother. At its heart, Ashley's story reminds moms that there's no way to be perfect, but many ways to be great.

I started laughing from the very beginning and never stopped.  This is the true story of motherhood and everything that goes with it.  Whether being immediately overwhelmed with the pressures of motherhood and keeping up or lack of human interactions, this book is the perfect book for you.  Many first time mom's have an idea of what motherhood is going to look like and it is always different then expected.  This book deals with all of those questions in a funny and light manner that makes you know that you aren't the only one out there going through these emotions and problems.  This book has been released for less than three months and already has 431 reviews on Amazon so it is certainly out there are a popular book although I knew nothing about it when I put it on reserve except someone in my mom's group online recommended it.  I am so glad that they did because it was just the light heartedness that I needed this summer while my pile of dishes sat in the kitchen and I tried to figure out what I was going to make for dinner.  Although not as troubled as Ashley, I am sure that many of us can relate to her extreme problems dealing with raising her first child.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it for yourself.  I think that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Lover's Leap Book Review

I went straight to the fourth book in the series after finishing the last and this one was a little bit of a blur because I think that I read it too fast.  Lover's Leap (Eternity Springs #4) by Emily March was the next book in the series that was about Sarah Reese and Cam Murphy.  I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next in this whirlwind romance between high school sweethearts!!!

Twenty years ago the town bad boy, Cam Murphy, left Eternity Springs in handcuffs, riding in the back of a sheriff’s van . . . and breaking young Sarah Reese’s heart. The defiant teenager vowed never to return.  In Australia, Cam makes a new beginning. He builds a successful business and suffers few regrets until Sarah—and their daughter—walk into his life, and then immediately run away. Realizing it’s time to right yesterday’s wrongs, he follows Sarah home to Colorado—and turns her world upside down.  Cam wants to know his daughter. He needs to prove to Sarah, the town, and himself that he’s changed. Will the residents of Eternity Springs offer forgiveness—and will Sarah have the courage to trust this man who is asking for a second chance?

I really enjoyed learning more about Sarah Reese who has lived in the small town of Eternity Springs through her whole life.  She had a child when she was in high school and gave up everything to raise her the best that they could.  Lori is now grown and in college.  There is a contest to name the town mascot.  Sarah wins a trip to Australia where she sees her first love and the father of her daughter.  All of the drama starts there when Sarah and Lori run away because Cam isn't sure what to do now but decides to come to Eternity Springs to meet his daughter.  This is an amazing journey for Sarah, Lori, Cam and many more.  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the Eternity Springs series.  I think that you will enjoy them as much as I have and had trouble stopping to read something else that was due before them.  I couldn't put a single one down!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Heartache Falls Book Review

I was super excited to get to the third book in the series Heartache Falls: An Eternity Springs Novel by Emily March.  It was great to follow this series along and a wonderful summer read.  I couldn't wait to find out what happened in the next chapter of the Eternity Springs series.  I was also glad that I thought ahead to get the whole series on review so I don't have to stop and wait for a pesking hold to come in at the library.  I am trying to do that more often now so that I can fly through the books that I want and not forget to get to the rest of the series because I really can't remember what I have read and what I haven't.

Married for more than twenty years, and with her children out of the nest, Ali Timberlake has come to Eternity Springs alone. She’s looking for answers to heartbreaking questions and searching for something that’s missing deep within herself. Taking a lease on the Bristlecone CafĂ© in pursuit of a lifelong dream, Ali feels revitalized as she becomes part of this charming mountain town. But a big piece of her is still back in Denver with her husband, Mac, a successful judge—and a man who isn’t going to let the woman he loves leave without a fight.

When Mac shows up in Eternity Springs—sexy, seductive, and determined to win his wife back—he experiences the wonder of the place that has given Ali such feelings of happiness and belonging. He wants that for her, but even more, he wants that with her. Ali has found a special place for her heart. But is there still enough room left in that heart for him?

This book was great because it covered Ali and Mac who we haven't met yet.  There has been lots of interactions with Ali in the small town of Eternity Springs but her husband was always off working.  Although this was a hard topic with their marriage in trouble, I think that it was wonderful to get to know them better.  I enjoyed the pursuit of dreams and working hard to make a life after children.  I am not there but I know that I will have a similar problem because my life is all about my son so I sympathized when Ali was trying to make her own life with an empty nest.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens but I promise you won't be disappointed.  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the series.  I have really enjoyed reading these and books through my vacation and I can't wait to read the rest of the series.  Hope you enjoy them too!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Hummingbird Lake Book Review

I was excited to get to the second book in the Eternity Springs series while I was still on vacation.  I started it right after the last book.  Hummingbird Lake: An Eternity Springs Novel by Emily March was the next book in my vacation fun bag of reading and games.  I was super excited to get the time to read while away on my vacation because it is my favorite...although I think that I missed some sleeping in order to get some of my reading done, I greatly enjoyed getting through lots of my summer reading.

Haunted by painful memories, pediatric surgeon Sage Anderson gives up medicine and moves to Eternity Springs. There she finds a place to call home, but even her newfound success as a gifted artist isn’t enough to keep her nightmares at bay. Colt Rafferty is about to change all that.

Eternity Springs is a refuge for Colt, a place to ground himself when the stress of investigating tragedies takes its toll. He has come here for a little R & R, but instead of relaxing, he finds himself fascinated by the mysterious redhead whose secrets beg to be discovered—a beauty running from her past, a heartsick woman in desperate need of the sweet sanctuary of a devoted man’s embrace. And he is just the man to show her the true path to peace—by offering her the healing power of love.

This book was about Sage who we have already met and is part of the town of Eternity Springs and Colt who is newer to the town because he was just a summer visitor before.  I loved following these two characters through their growth and getting to know each other.  Colt was very persistent to make sure that he built a relationship with Sage that she was very resistant to having.  It was great to see Sage get over the demons in her past to try to have a healthier life.  Colt is working so hard that he hasn't had a change to even think about things but time in Eternity Springs gives him that time to decide what he wants to do.  Both Sage and Colt decide what they are doing doesn't work for them and they greatly change their life. You have to pick up the book to find out how they change.  I hope that you check out this book and the others in this great series.  I know that you will enjoy them as much as I did!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 7/24

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Popcorn Chicken with homemade fries
Tuesday- Ground Beef Tacos
Wednesday- Whole Chicken Butchered and Grilled with white rice
Thursday- Pasta
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- Leftover Breadcrumbs Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken with mac and cheese
Sunday- ??

Trying to get back to the normal schedule here after vacation and it was a tough week because I wasn't the greatest at getting things going with the cooking, baking and unpacking.  I did what seemed like a million loads of laundry and dishes.  We are running out of food in the house and still haven't made it to the store except to grab some milk and a few small things. 

I feel like if I hold out going to the store that maybe they will finish the last of everything around the house but it isn't going well.  My son ended up eating goldfish crackers for breakfast for the last few days instead of eating the cereal that I have for him or his oatmeal.  There are at least five or six bags of chips in the cupboard all open with barely any left but no one is touching them so I guess they might soon be my leftover bread crumbs on some chicken tenders.  I guess I should give up and go to the store because it isn't working yet.

I made everything on the menu last week except when we got to the end of the week we didn't have any leftovers at the end of the week.  I was very close to calling my husband and telling him to bring a pizza to the pool so we could swim and not have dinner.  I knew that we already spent the month on take out so I tried to find something easy to make.  I ended up making meatball sliders with the a can of diced tomatoes that I blended to make the sauce and then I buttered and toasted some homemade rolls and we had a side of mac and cheese because my son wanted it.  I made pancakes for Saturday night.  I made Grilled Worcestershire Chicken with yellow rice on Sunday.

I looked in the freezer to see what I had for next month's planning.  I have 3 bags of Ground Beef, 3 Chicken Tenders, 1 Spiedies Marinated Chicken, 1 Worcestershire Chicken, 1 Whole Chicken and some meatballs.  I got the August plan written down except the weekends and used almost all of the food except one bag of chicken tenders.  I am sure that I can make it through with a few additions on the weekends without too much more for the month but sadly, I might have tapped out most of the reserves in the freezer and pantry.  The great news is that my son will be back in school so I might get some time to some great couponing in the coming month.  Cross your fingers and wish me luck!!!

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Letter from Lancaster County Book Review

I was interested in this book because I love all things Amish and I initially thought that it was going to be Amish because it was in Lancaster County...especially since I started reading this book right after another Amish fiction book that I was reading.  It is funny when you pick up a book with the wrong impression that it is harder to figure out because these people are not Amish but living near the Amish in Lancaster County.  A Letter from Lancaster County (Lancaster Discoveries) by Kate Lloyd was a great story about a letter found that was written many years before.

Two Sisters Get a Second Chance at Life and Love
Her mother's untimely death, a struggling marriage, a strained relationship with her sister, Rose, and regrets over what might have been haunt her. Despite being a wife and mother, she feels she has little to show for her life.

Still single, she longs for a husband and children. But Angela has all that and still isn't happy. Rose wants to be closer to her older sister, but she and Angela couldn't be more different. Both strong women, will their sibling rivalry ever end?
* * *When a letter arrives from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Angela and Rose decide to visit Aunt Silvia, their mother's Mennonite sister, in the heart of Amish country. This vacation could provide the opportunity both sisters need to sort out their issues. And yet instead of finding a new way of connecting with each other, Angela and Rose discover surprising family secrets that add to their strife and threaten Rose's romance with a new beau.

Through it all, the two sisters must find the faith necessary to face their personal problems and allow God to restore hope and healing to their hearts and relationship as only He can.

I thought that this book was great because it was a story different from many that I have read that went into a lot of tough subjects including death, rape, abortion, and divorce.  I was surprised at all the turns that happened in the book because it really seemed like the sisters had a lot of problems that they were keeping from each other which was part of what was causing their distance from each other.  After dealing with their mom's death and unresolved problems from their childhoods, they visit their aunt together and find out that she is dying as well.  Both sisters decide then and there to change their lives and start trying to make their life better.  Now to just figure out what makes them better is the first step.  Does Rose work on her relationship with her boyfriend or leave him all together?  Does Angela work on her relationship with her husband or leave him all together?  Although their lives were very similar in the middle of everything the sisters felt so different that they couldn't be friends.  Their aunt's wish is that they become friends and resolve problems that she never got to with her sister but you have to pick up the book to find out what happens.  This book really felt like real sisters and real problems which I thought was because of the great writing.  I hope that you check out this book because you will enjoy it as much as I did!!

**I was provided a copy of the book for my review but all opinions here are my own and a positive review was not required.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Extreme Couponing Book Review

I was excited to finally see this book at the library so I quickly put it on reserve.  I think that there was a wait but I have lost track with all the reserves that I make at the library.  I was excited to get to this book in my pile while I was just getting back from vacation.  Extreme Couponing: Learn How to Be a Savvy Shopper and Save Money... One Coupon At a Time by Joni Meyer-Crothers was a very quick book to read.  The chapters were easy to follow and filled with stories and lots of information to start couponing and make the habit stick.

In today's economy, being money savvy is a necessity. For most American households cutting back on the things they love has become harder and harder to bear. But there are ways to get what you want at a fraction of the cost--if not free.   With this book, extreme couponing expert Joni Meyer-Crothers ( explains precisely how she has managed to save thousands by clipping coupons, using them wisely and never paying full retail price for any product. She reveals what basic items you should never pay for (toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, pasta, etc.), and teaches readers techniques to obtain coupons that do not cost a penny and turn them around to save big on groceries, cleaning items, hygienic supplies, and many other household products.  Learn the basics of couponing, maximizing your savings, and thinking outside of the box when it comes to how you shop. With Extreme Couponing, there's no reason to pay full price for the things you need in life.
I read this book after couponing for about 9 years so I know that I wasn't really the audience but I have wanted to check it out for so long.  It wasn't a disappointment because it was filled with great stories including boring her family with quizzes on how much things cost at the store and what she paid for them.  It is an amusing hobby of mine too and after 9 years, they really don't want to guess so I normally get about once or twice a year that I can play the guessing game.  There are 10 chapters in the book including What's Your Spending Situation, Collecting As Many Coupons as You Can and Getting Organized.  This book walks you through start to finish how to be frugal and why stocking up on things is a great idea and how getting the lowest price on items saves tons of money.  It is frequently the hardest things that I try to explain to people that I don't just use coupons but I coupon meaning that I won't waste using a coupon if the item isn't on sale and getting the best possible price.  There is tons in this book about giving back and how giving back a little helps a lot and I think that her perspective is very unique.  I used to donate a lot of items that we weren't going to use that I got free or nearly free but now I shop so infrequently and little that I have less excess to do that with.  I am hoping that I can get back to that eventually but this book certainly focuses on that message.  I thought it was way more uplifting then I expected but also jam packed with information like couponing lingo and more.  I hope that if you are interested in couponing that you check this out.  If you have already started or been doing it a long time, it might give you an interesting prospective that you might not of had before.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Angel's Rest Book Review

I decided to start reading a new series right before vacation but I really don't know how I picked it.  The funny part is that I got them all from the library and it turns out that one of them was in the pile of books that I owned that was in my reading pile.  I got them all and in order and made sure that I got them all from the library but the amusing part was that the first book was the last to arrive so I couldn't start until I left for vacation!  Angel's Rest: An Eternity Springs Novel by Emily March is the first book in the series and the last that arrived on my reserve shelf so I patiently waited.

Gabriel Callahan has lost everything that mattered. All he wants is solitude on an isolated mountain estate. Instead, he gets a neighbor. Vibrant, no-nonsense Nic Sullivan is Eternity Springs’ veterinarian, and she has an uncanny plan to lure this talented architect back to the world of the living. First with a dog, next with a renovation project, and, finally, with a night of passion that ends with a surprise.  Now a man still raw from tragedy must face the biggest struggle of his heart. Can he forgive himself and believe in the power of second chances? Dare he trust in the promise of a future and a brand-new family here in Eternity Springs?

I am not sure what lead me to this series but I am glad that I got them.  I went straight from the first to the second to the third while on vacation instead of reading all of the other books that I brought with me.  I thought that I didn't bring the fourth because of all the other books that I brought but I found it when I got home packing in the bag where I couldn't find it before.  This great writing and wonderful characters make it hard to put down because you want to find out what happens next.  I loved learning about Gabe Callahan and watching him recover from the devastating loss of his wife and child.  Nic Sullivan is the town vet and she ends up saving a dog that Gabe finds in the woods.  They are drawn together by this event and living in this small town.  Watch the friendship grow and both of them heal from their pasts in this great book one in the Eternity Springs series.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I did.  It was a great start to a new series of  books from the library.  I was quickly on to the next book in the series when I finished this one even though there was another book that I was supposed to be reading in my pile!!  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Middle of the Month Grocery Spending and Eating Out Update

 I was afraid how this month would go because I am really bad normally on our vacation month with getting lots of special treats and overspending.  Although I justify it by saying that we would spend way more if my husband and son just went to buy what they wanted when we got to the beach.

I started off really early in the month because I didn't get to buy the things that I wanted at the end of June because I wasn't free until the weekend and that pushed me into July.  I went to three grocery stores in one day just to get everything we needed.

Harris Teeter $7.93 + $8.30= $16.23

I went to the store first thing on Sunday morning to get the free sour bears...okay I needed other groceries too but I went on the weekend so that I could get the free sour bears.

I got free Smithfield sausage which I need to cook up and freeze with the rest of the frozen sausage.  I also got a free coupon for the ice cream that I also put in for a $1 rebate so it was a money maker.  I got the sliced cheese which was on sale for $2.50 had an electronic $1 off coupon and I used two $0.55 off coupons which doubled to $1.10 off so they were $0.90 each... Then, $1 rebate on one site and two $0.50 rebates on another one and they were on sale and I used a coupon so they were money makers.  They have come in handy a few times and used them for sandwiches and other things through vacation.

I got the Ocean Spray because we were running very low and it was on sale.  I packed one to take on vacation and the rest went in the extra fridge.  I grabbed the mini doughnuts which were $0.49 after sale and coupon because I thought my family would enjoy them for vacation.  I knew that I needed a head of lettuce for a few meals on vacation so I got it here because it is $0.99 which is cheaper then Aldi.  My husband was out of vitamins so I got those which were on sale and used a coupon so they were $2.99 and my last minute addition because I remembered while in the checkout line.  I actually ended up checking out twice because I kept forget things!!

Aldi $11.54

I went to the store to get milk and pretzels because we were out of both and grabbed the chicken because I thought we might be running low on at least once and it would save me going back to the store to figure out which one.

Wegman's $29.60

I prefer the meat at Wegman's so I grabbed the family pack of chicken and ground beef so that I could portion it up and freeze it.  Some of it was used for our vacation food and others saved for the rest of the month.  We were out of mac and cheese and planned to have that a few times over vacation but only got to eat it once.  I was glad to stock up on everything.

Aldi $5.56 - $2.04= $3.52

I went to the store to get a few things and return the ice cream sandwiches which were horrible last time I got them.  I even went as far as getting two boxes so I was super quick to return one box so that I could get my money back and a new box of ice cream because we had two horrible boxes of ice cream sandwiches which of course my son still ate because horrible ice cream sandwiches are better then none!  I was totally out of the huge stockpile of frozen flour tortillas that I got years ago so I got one for vacation and they were amazing.  I also got an extra bag of chips for vacation for my two salsa eaters.    I also grabbed a package of taco seasoning because we are totally out of all the free ones so I figured that I would try so who knows if I will like it but I hope that I can find a homemade mix that I like but I haven't been super successful yet with the few that I tried..

Aldi $2.75 - $2.96= -$0.21

I had to go back to the store to return the shortening because the one that I bought at the store was open....UGH!!  Why does that happen when I am in a hurry.  I took my son and his friend to a birthday party and went to the store while they were playing.  I had to get another salsa because the store the other day was totally out and another box of sugar cones because my family decided we couldn't come up short when it came to cones on vacation (I packed 2 1/2 boxes).  We luckily didn't run out but only because I went back to the store to get more against what I was thinking.  The return of the shortening made these groceries free!!!

Harris Teeter $6.82

I was exhausted with my long list of things to do before we left for vacation so after working late into the night, I knew that I didn't have enough energy to make it to the store but I decided that I would get up extra early (so after only a few hours sleep), I finished some packing and went to the grocery store before we were going to leave on vacation.  I couldn't pass up the free items.  I got free Barilla noodles (and I think money maker with an electronic coupon) which I was excited to try (they weren't a hit with my son).  I got free Puffs tissues and free Listerine dental floss.  I got the Raspberry Lemonade for $0.09 which is almost free!

I was excited to find the Cocoa Pebbles on sale for $2 and I had a coupon for $1/2 and it was super doubles so I paid $1.00 each and turned in a rebate for $0.80 each on Ibotta so they were only $0.20.  I was just sad that I didn't buy another two because my son loves it so much.  I bought tomatoes for $0.37 for the can and turned them in for $0.25 rebate.  I got the Rev wrap for $0.50 after sale and coupon and turned in two rebates for $1.00 form Mobi Save and $0.75 from Checkout 51 so it was a money maker.   I used the meat sliced up and cooked for the salad on vacation and toasted the wrap with the cheese for a flatbread on the side of the salad.  I bought three boxes of the Very Berry Cheerios which were super cheap at $0.09 per box and I ended up getting a Saving Star rebate back for $1 (which I wasn't sure I was going to get).  I got one container of the Yoplait Custard Yogurt to make scones on vacation so it was $0.50 after sale and coupon and I got a $0.25 rebate from Saving Star.

The Chex Mix was the thing that actually drove me to the store because my husband and son love to have them on vacation and the four bags that I got would normally cost $11 which is crazy in my opinion.  They were on sale half off and there were coupons for $0.50 off 2 so and I got them for $0.87 each...not a great deal but a good vacation splurge.  I got a $0.50 Saving Star rebate too for a little added bonus which would make them $0.75 each after rebate. Took the picture on the belt at the store so that I could rush out as soon as I got home.

Weis $13.11

We stopped at the store after getting into our vacation condo.  There was a deal that if you bought 6 tubs of Turkey Hill Ice Cream then you got them for $1.99.  It seemed like a great deal and I compared against other stores and it was only $2 or $3 more for two more gallons which we weren't planning on buying.  This way gave us enough for lots of ice cream treats throughout vacation.  We finished both mint chocolate chips and the cookies and cream.  We almost finished the black raspberry which was really tasty.  The chocolate and the fruit sherbet were about half gone but we have to trash them at the end of the weeks stay.  We finished the whole head of lettuce with chicken fajitas and beef tacos and chopped salad using it all up.

Aldi $13.71

I went to the store to get milk and lunch meat but ended up with a few more things in the cart since I didn't make a list.  The milk was only $0.96 because I went to the store that was less expensive.  The eggs were $0.59 so I decided to buy those because it is cheaper then the other stores and we only had a few eggs.  I got a backup butter and then we decided we were hot and got more ice cream sandwiches.

We had a long day so when I unloaded the car, I forgot the bag in the trunk which I unloaded second and took a picture of second with crackers, sugar cones and two jars of medium salsa because we finished all those things over vacation too.

Total Retail $228.86
Total Saving $134.54
Total OOP $94.32

I think that I did pretty well for the first half of the month with vacation and missing the end of the month shopping from last month which ended me well under budget for June.  I still have $65.68 left in the budget for the month so hoping that I can make it work with a few great deals.

Our Eating Out Total

We got pizza when friends came to visit which ended up being a lot more then expected because the Little Caesars was closed and we didn't plan far enough ahead for backup plans but ended up at Papa John's which was the only thing showing up on the GPS.  My husband (obviously after too many years with me) ordered the three pizzas and when the lady said the total he questioned her.  He said there was a menu but no prices on anything.  They reworked the three pizzas and added a soda to save some money so that was $38.00.  My husband looked up the pricing online and asked the lady there why he couldn't get that price and she said that it was only online.  How irritating?!

My husband took my son to the playplace at the McDonalds and got a drink and fries for them and coffee for my cousin so that was $3.99 so the total spent for the month was $41.99.  We did eat out at Pete's Steak Shop (lots), Thrashers fries $10, Kohr Brothers Ice Cream $11, and Grottos Pizza (lots) which my mom and cousin picked up the tab for so there was lots and lots of eating but staying low at $41.99 OOP.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 7/17

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken with french fries
Tuesday- Grilled Chicken with white rice
Wednesday- Pot Luck Dinner at VBS
Thursday- Pasta
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- ??
Sunday- ??

I know that the first thing that I need to do is head to the grocery store and get milk, lunch meat and a few other things because we are out of everything after taking a week away for vacation.    I don't really know what the week is going to hold because I am exhausted from a busy week of vacation.  I am hoping to figure out the rest of the week after looking in the freezer and pantry to see what is left after vacation.  We ate way too much on vacation and I had a hard time remembering to write it all down so I am trying to recreate the list of things that we ate which is near impossible (mostly overeating which I think is always the case on vacation).  I know that at the end of the week my cousin and mom came and we ended up eating out a whole lot more then I planned to so I had a bunch of food left that had to be packed up and brought home :(  My husband said that there was way more going home then coming and he ran out of room when packing up the car.  I don't think that it was as bad as he made it sound.  Here is hoping we have a calm week and I get to the grocery store so that we can put a few things back in the fridge.

Friday, July 14, 2017

His Guilt Book Review

I was excited to get to read the second book in the series since I enjoyed the first so much.  His Guilt: The Amish of Hart County by Shelley Shepard Gray is the second book in the Amish of Hart County series.  I love the author and the first book so I didn't even have a clue what this book was going to be about but that didn't stop me from being really excited.  It came in the mail but I was set on not reading it before the month that I was supposed to do the review because often if I post the review on my blog to far in advanced, I forget to do all of the other things that go along with posting my review like posting on Amazon and posting on the site that sent me the wonderful book to try.  I wasn't going to make that mistake again so I set it aside until the beginning of July and excitedly started soon after with a very fast finish because I couldn't put it down.

Mark Fisher has returned home to Hart County, determined to put the past behind him. Two years ago, after being wrongly accused of assault, he left the Amish community, though never forgot his home. When the one person who had helped him through his rough times asks for help, Mark returns. But it is pretty Waneta Cain who makes him want to stay... Neeta is one of the few people in Hart County who doesn’t believe Mark is guilty of hurting anyone. However, his worldliness and tough exterior do make her uneasy. As she begins to see the real man behind all the gossip and prejudice, she wonders if he is the man for her.  Just when Mark starts to believe a new life is possible, a close friend of Neeta’s is attacked. Once again, everyone in the community seems to believe he is guilty.  But what hurts most is Neeta’s sudden wariness around him. When another woman is hurt, a woman who is close to both Neeta and himself, Mark fears he knows the real culprit. And time is running out. Will Mark be able to find him before Neeta becomes his next victim?

I didn't remember all the details of the first book when I picked this one up but I totally didn't need to in order to enjoy this stand alone novel.  Mark Fisher is back in town and everyone seems to still think that he did bad things before he left the small Amish community even though he was cleared by the police.  He came back to help his friend who was failing in health to run his nursery because there is a lot of heavy lifting.  Mark also was interested in remodeling his family home so that he could try to work through his childhood pain growing up in the house.  Waneta "Neeta" Cain works with him and is quickly reminded by her parents that she needs to be more open and forgiving to the new person that she is working with.  Mark and Waneta quickly become friends.  Waneta finds that she is often sticking up for Mark because other people in the community are thinking bad things about him.  At the same time, bad things are happening again in the small community with girls being attacked.  I feel like this book was a lot different then many other Amish fiction books because it kept you on he edge of your seat to find out what is going to happen next.  The main mystery is whether Mark is going to be able to get over his past to build his future.  I hope that you check out this book for yourself and follow the path to his guilt!!!

**I received a copy of this book for my review but all opinions here are my own and a positive review was not required.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Caroline's Secret Book Review

On my long trip to the library to find new books, I came upon a series that seemed interesting.  The first book in the series happened to be in the shelf so I was excited.Caroline's Secret (A Wells Landing Romance) by Amy Lillard was the first book that I was going to read in this series and also the first in the series which I love reading in order.  I put the rest of the series on reserve so that I could read through them all.  I can't wait to read this whole series soon!!  I will try to be patient for them to come in at the library but there isn't a lot of time before we leave for vacation so I am hoping that they all come so that I can read my way through vacation.

In Amy Lillard's poignant introduction to Wells Landing, a small Amish community is home to two brave souls hoping to forget their painful pasts and rebuild their faith in the future. . . Caroline Hostetler arrived in Oklahoma determined to forge a new life for herself and her daughter, Emma. As a single mother, she values the warmth and safety she's found in close-knit Wells Landing. She's even caught the eye of a handsome newcomer--a man who just may be the partner she longs for and the father Emma deserves. But the arrival of an Englisher threatens to lay bare the secrets she's worked so hard to leave behind. . .  After losing his life-long sweetheart, Andrew Fitch moved to Wells Landing to work in his uncle's furniture business and nurse his broken heart. Finding love again seems all but impossible--until he meets Caroline and Emma. But his plans to join their lives together may be shattered when the truth of Caroline's past comes to light--unless, together, they can learn the true meaning of sacrifice and forgiveness. . .

This book was an interesting introduction to Wells Landing which is a more progressive Amish Beachy community.  It is an accepting place that seems to a wonderful community.  Caroline arrived on the bus from her very conservative town to raise her daughter, Emma.  She quickly got a job working in the local bakery and was taken in by the owner.  Caroline and Emma work and live with Ester who was a widow with no children of her own.  She treated Caroline and Emma like family and they had a comfortable life.  Caroline meets Andrew and they form a deep friendship which quickly starts to feel like family for both of them.  Ester is building her relationship with Abe Fitch, Andrew's uncle.  They are all very happy until Caroline's life is turned upside down by a letter from her mother and you have to pick up the book to find out what happens.  The even better part then the ending is that there is a recipe section which I always love for three of the recipe that are made in the book a lot.  I was excited to read this book and can't wait to read the second book in the series.  I will be waiting less than patiently to get it as the library soon.  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the series too.

If you want to check out some of the recipes, they have Amish Buttermilk Cookies, Hawaiian Delight Cookies and Cowboy Cookies!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Devil Wins Book Review

I went to the library to attend a library program with my son but he wasn't interested in leaving afterwards so he stayed in the kids section and I checked out tons of books.  I searched for a large variety of books without success and found a new book that I hadn't read yet in the Jesse Stone series.  I was so excited to get Robert B. Parker's The Devil Wins (A Jesse Stone Novel) by Reed Farrel Coleman and realize that it was the next book in the series for me.  I was excited to get back to the series and a little more sad to know that I missed the release but now there were two new books to read!!  I reserved the second one at the library and after finishing this book, I am sure I will be on edge waiting.

A Nor’easter blows into Paradise and churns up the past in this stunning new addition to Robert B. Parker’s New York Times–bestselling series featuring police chief Jesse Stone. In the wake of a huge storm, three bodies are discovered in the rubble of an abandoned factory building in an industrial part of Paradise known as The Swap. One body, a man’s, wrapped in a blue tarp, is only hours old. But found within feet of that body are the skeletal remains of two teenage girls who had gone missing during a Fourth of July celebration twenty-five years earlier. Not only does that crime predate Jesse Stone’s arrival in Paradise, but the dead girls were close friends of Jesse’s right hand, Officer Molly Crane. And things become even more complicated when one of the dead girls’ mothers returns to Paradise to bury her daughter and is promptly murdered. It’s up to police chief Jesse Stone to pull away the veil of the past to see how all these murders are connected . . .

I was excited to get to read this next installment of a great series that I really enjoyed.  I have read a few books that were written after Robert Parker passed and I still enjoyed the new writer because I felt like he was still following the same character and writing style.  I enjoyed this book with lots of action and stressful situations.  My favorite is the relationship that Jesse has with his staff.  Suit is still recovering from a gun shot wound and Jesse is finding that he is very protective of him.  Molly is in the middle of the newest case which is bringing up problems from her childhood.  There is so much going on that Jesse's job is again threatened and he is afraid that he might not be able to ever answer the questions from the past.  It is a up and down ride waiting to find out who has done all of the crimes but the surprise comes at the end with the answer.  I don't think that I would ever suspect the final answer but I hope that you read it and see if you might.  I love this series and the television movies that go with them.  I might have to go back and watch of few of them this summer!!!  Hope you check out the whole Jesse Stone series especially this one (and stay turned for the next one on the way to my library soon).

Monday, July 10, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 7/10

This week the plan is going to be a little different because we have a busy week planned with my husband taking vacation so I planned for the whole week for lunch and dinners and didn't decide what day we were going to eat those things so that we could move them around based on the schedule.


Chocolate Chip Scones
Blueberry and Raspberry Muffins
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Little Caesars Pizza
Quesadillas (from leftover taco meat and rice)
Leftover Pizza
Mac and Cheese 
Fried Rice with leftovers
Sandwiches (Peanut Butter and Lunch meat)

Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken and fries
Chicken and white rice (maybe casserole)
Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken and Mac and Cheese
Tacos with spicy yellow rice and corn bread
Grotto's Pizza
Pasta with peasant bread

I am hoping that this plan works well and I will probably nail down things a little more each day based on the food that is left and how the day goes.  We normally have a few days that end up with a crazy schedule like huge breakfast and a late lunch that turns into a little early dinner with a dessert of ice cream instead of eating.  It is the joys of the vacation plan.  We are hoping to have lots of fun and enjoy a few yummy meals.  I might make this kind of plan through the rest of the summer if it works but I do like the plan :)

Friday, July 7, 2017

June Month End Reading Review

I started off the month right with finishing the book and posting the review which was a big improvement over last month.  I was hoping to keep on track and do that through out the month.  Normally that means that I need to have a draft ready to go with all the books in my pile so that I can do some of the work upfront before reading the book. Of course by the end of the month, I was back to my old ways and so far behind getting the book reviews written after reading them because we were away.

If you missed the original review, please click on the title and it will take you back to the summary and review of the book.  I hope that you add a few of these to your summer reading list!!!  I hope to get in a lot of reading this summer but I need to start my summer reading list.  Have any great ideas??

by Susan Mallery

by Susan Mallery

by Susan Mallery

The Friends We Keep
by Susan Mallery

Any Day Now
by Robyn Carr

Naomi's Hope
by Jan Drexler

This Matter of Marriage
by Debbie Macomber

Changing Habits
by Debbie Macomber

His Country Girl
by Jillian Hart

Three Brides, No Grooms
by Debbie Macomber

Total Books Read for 2017

January    8
February  15
March     17
April      13
May        10
June         10

Total Books Read     73

Currently Reading:

The Devil Wins
by Reed Farrel Coleman