Friday, December 29, 2017

A Knights Bridge Christmas Book Review

I went back to the library with the wrapped books so I grabbed a bunch of them and googled the names of the books on the label to see if they were books that I would like to read.  I got a bunch more and only one of them was something that I already read so I was excited to start on A Knights Bridge Christmas: Christmas at Carriage Hill bonus story (Swift River Valley) by Carla Neggers.  I haven't read any other books in the series but this seems like a series I might like to try.

Clare Morgan is ready for a fresh start when she moves to the small Massachusetts town of Knights Bridge with her young son, Owen. Widowed for six years, Clare settles into her new job as the town librarian. She appreciates the welcome she and Owen receive and enjoys getting the library ready for the annual holiday open house. Clare expects to take it slow with her new life. Then she meets Logan Farrell, a Boston ER doctor in town to help his elderly grandmother settle into assisted living. Slow isn't a word Logan seems to understand. Accustomed to his fast-paced life, he doesn't plan to stay for long. But Daisy Farrell enlists her grandson to decorate her house on the village green one last time. Logan looks to Clare for help. She can go through Daisy's book collection and help him decorate while she's at it. As Clare and Logan get his grandmother's house ready for the holidays, what neither of them expects to find is an attraction to each other. Better than most, they know all the crazy things that can happen in life, but everything about Knights Bridge and this magical season invites them to open themselves to new possibilities…and new love.

I hope that you check out this book and others in this series because I think that you will enjoy the holiday festive environment in this small town setting.  I enjoyed getting to know Knights Bridge and the new town librarian, Clare Morgan and her son, Owen.  They were trying to make a new home for themselves after moving from Boston to this small town where they are making friends with everyone in town.  The great part is that Dr. Logan Farrell is person who is just visiting the town to get his mom settled in a new assistant living situation and he decides to visit a lot more after meeting Clare and Owen.  This is a great balance for both their lives because the one is a workaholic and the other is a worrier but together they are a perfect balance to raise 6 year old Owen together but their different lives are pulling them in different directions so you have to pick up the book to find out what happens.  I loved being their for the journey and getting to know this small town.  I hope to read lots of books in this series soon.  I hope that you do to!!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Lopsided Christmas Cake Book Review

I was at a library after taking my son to their library program when my son found a pile of adult Christmas books that were wrapped and they had a tag on the front of the book with if you liked these books, you will like this book.  With my son's help, I picked out one and checked it out.  Turned out that even though the title was private, my son realized that you could read it on the screen at checkout.  The first two books that I picked were books that I already read so we decided on a third one and I got this one, The Lopsided Christmas Cake by Wanda E. Brunstetter which I was excited to get to read before Christmas.

Join the Hochstetler twin sisters on stage as they bumble their way through baking a cake for a charity auction in front of a live audience. The take-charge Elma and the klutzy optimist Thelma manage to entertain their audience—and attract the admiration of two bachelors, an outspoken woodworker and a shy harness maker from a neighboring Amish community. As fall leads into the Christmas season, could romance be blossoming for one or more of the Hochstetler twins? Find out in this brand new romance from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, writing with her daughter-in-law Jean Brunstetter.

I really enjoyed this Christmas story about how the twin sisters make a cake to support charity and then have to present the cake on stage after making it.  If anything could go wrong, it did but the sisters had two people bidding on their cake in spite of the horrible presentation and the look of the cake.  Joesph was willing to fight to win the cake because he wanted to meet Thelma, one of the twins that made the cake.  The story is set in the new town that the twins move to after being named in their grandparents will to inherit the house and the store that their grandparents owned.  They are working very hard to make money with the store and repair the house to make both their future.  It is interesting to watch these identical and very different sisters go through their lives and all the trouble that they find just from being twins.  I was glad that my son made me pick some of the books out at this interesting Christmas wrapped mystery book section because I never would have found this book on my own and now I am looking for the second book in this series to find out what happens next.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Meant to Be Mine Book Review

The second book in the series is Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade.  It was new on the library shelf and I was super glad to see it while at another branch of the library so that I could have the chance to read it.  I was excited to read the first book in the series and get to pick this up right after.

Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school--irresistible. When their paths cross again after college--still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel. The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia's ready to be Ty's wife, but Ty's not ready to be her husband. He's a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he's long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he's known since childhood. Five and a half years pass. Celia's buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn't forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had. How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia's trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?

This was an amazing story about Ty Porter and Celia Park who grew up in a small Texas town together.  Ty was a hot shot around the school and Celia fell for him when she sat next to him in school but they were only friends.  After being apart for many years, they run into each other again and things spark but he whirlwind romance leaves them in Vegas at a wedding chapel.  They were married that night and wake up in the morning with different thoughts on the subject.  They leave Vegas and don't speak for 5 and half years.  Ty comes back to talk to Celia and finds out so much more then he thought when he meets her daughter.  There is no question who the father is but a paternity test confirms that Ty is now responsible for a little girl that he hasn't had the chance to know for 5 years.  The relationship between mother and daughter is strong and she is excited to find her father and get to know him.  You have to make sure you pick up this book to find out how they work to forgive each other for the past and move forward to their new life with their daughter.  I think that you might be surprised at some of the fast changes that happen.  I hope that you check out this book and others in this wonderful series.  I know that you will enjoy the characters and writing as much as I have.  I am super glad that the library got the first two books in the series so that I could finish a series that I had read the third and forth book and really enjoyed.  I hope that you enjoy these as much as I have!!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Undeniably Yours Book Review

I was excited the other day at the library to see two books in the new section next to each other by Becky Wade.  I read a few books for review a while ago and really liked her writing and story.  I was even more excited to find out that they were Book 1 and 2 of the series that I read Books 3 and 4.  I started on Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade and was super happy to get to finish the series.

When Meg Cole's father dies unexpectedly, she's forced to return home to Texas and to Whispering Creek Ranch to take up the reins of his empire. The last thing she has the patience or the sanity to deal with? Her father's Thoroughbred racehorse farm. She gives its manager, Bo Porter, six months to close the place down.  Bo knows he ought to resent the woman who's determined to take from him the only job he ever wanted. But instead of anger, Meg evokes within him a profound desire to protect. The more time he spends with her, the more he longs to overcome every obstacle that separates them and earn her love. Just when Meg realizes she can no longer deny the depth of her feelings for Bo, their fragile bond is broken by a force from Meg's past. Can their relationship--and their belief that God can work through every circumstance--survive?

Meg was a great character that was someone that you instantly could pull for because you wanted her to get everything she wanted.  She is forced to take over her fathers business but she doesn't want anything like the life that she has been given.  It is hard for her to adjust the idea of her father being gone and her new role taking care of the family fortune.  It is great to watch Meg grow and change and make sure that she grows into the job.  Bo Porter runs the horse farm for Meg's dad and she decides that since it isn't profitable that she should shut it down.  The funny thing is that he says that he wants six months and she gives it to him.  There is a interesting relationship that pops up between Meg and Bo.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens and I promise that you will surprised.  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the series.  I am so glad that they added these to the library to go with the other books in the series that I already read.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 12/25 Christmas Edition

Monday-Christmas Dinner: Turkey with gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and rolls
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- ??
Thursday- Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken with mac and cheese
Friday- Leftover Night to recreate items in the fridge
Saturday- Barber Chicken with white rice
Sunday-  ??

Last week was a little off but we had dinner at home and made it through.  Monday we did my son's favorite dinner of Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken and french fries.  Tuesday was Pasta which I am totally over eating but my son loves and we have enough in the pantry for like a year.  Wednesday was taco night which was tasty!!  Thursday we did Chicken Marsala with Orecchiette pasta.  On Friday we went to a friends house but my son and I ate before we left.  On Saturday we did the leftovers that we didn't eat on Friday.  Sunday was Lasagna as planned with rolls and salad so we had easy clean up.  We had company on Wednesday and Thursday but I must have known because I planned for things that could have been bigger for more people.

We have company this week and I am not sure how many people I will have on any given day so hoping that we can add more to the meals as needed for the crowd that I have.  I have plenty of food as long as I have a clue what to start with then I should be able to get it made for dinner.  I hope that you have a yummy week!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Merry and Bright Book Review

I was at the library and another book jumped off the new release section and came home with me.  The 14 Day New Release Section is great because you know the books are really new so it should be something you haven't read before because they are brand new to the library and not a year old so I was hopeful that I hadn't read this Christmas story. Merry and Bright: A Novel by Debbie Macomber was luckily a new book and I got to read it shortly after I got it so that I could get it returned by the 14 day deadline....sadly, this is my 4th book from there recently so I know that I am going to be against the clock with many of them.

Merry Knight is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

This was a fun Christmas book that was super interesting to read about the life of Merry Knight and Jayson Bright.  Merry works part time for Jayson's company because she is saving up for finishing her special education college degree.  Merry was born on December 26th and enjoys the holidays and all the holiday time with her family baking cookies, putting together puzzles and more.  Jayson lives his life fully involved in the company with no personal life to speak of until his cousin comes back and tells him that he met a women from his past and he is getting married.  Jayson decides to check out this online dating thing and finds someone who he has a connection with but they only talk online.  Merry's family is worried that she is so busy that she isn't looking towards the future so they sign her up for a dating service and she instantly connects with Jay.  There are interesting things happening in work and outside for both of these fun people quickly and all around the holidays.  There is a great romance starting for both of them between their online romance and an office romance.  Jayson thinks that it is crazy that he could be feeling this much for both ladies when he never thought that he would be a person to settle down and have a family because of his own upbringing.  Make sure you pick up the book to find out which ones he chooses.  I think that you will love the ups and downs of this quick holiday read.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The House of Unexpected Sisters Book Review

I was at the library to get some newspapers and I saw something on the new release display.  I went over quickly and grabbed the book hoping that I hadn't read it before because I never know!  The House of Unexpected Sisters: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (18) (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency… by Alexander McCall Smith was indeed the next book in the series that I was waiting for.  I found the title and the cover confusing so I was ready to jump right in!

Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are approached by their part-time colleague, Mr. Polopetsi, with a troubling story: a woman, accused of being rude to a valued customer, has been wrongly dismissed from her job at an office furniture store. Never one to let an act of injustice go unanswered, Mma Ramotswe begins to investigate, but soon discovers unexpected information that causes her to reluctantly change her views about the case.

Other surprises await our intrepid proprietress in the course of her inquiries. Mma Ramotswe is puzzled when she happens to hear of a local nurse named Mingie Ramotswe. She thought she knew everybody by the name of Ramotswe, and that they were all related. Who is this mystery lady? Then, she is alerted by Mma Potokwani that an unpleasant figure from her past has recently been spotted in town. Mma Ramotswe does her best to avoid the man, but it seems that he may have returned to Botswana specifically to seek her out. What could he want from her?

With the generosity and good humor that guide all her endeavors, Mma Ramotswe will untangle these questions for herself and for her loved ones, ultimately bringing to light important truths about friendship and family—both the one you’re born with and the one you choose.

Another great story with Mma Ramotswe leading the charge to make sure that the right things are done and this is a case that she isn't even being paid for.  She puts Mma Makutsi in charge of the investigation because she wants to do another investigation because they disagree on the truth.  Mma Ramotswe is distracted when she learns that she might have other family from a newspaper article so she decides to investigate her own mystery on the side.  The two investigations quickly put Mma Ramotswe in a bad mood which she is never in because she always looks at the positive side of things.  It was tough to read because it really did change the tone of the book quickly when she got upset but many of us can relate to that fog that comes over us when we are being negative.  Make sure you pick up this book to see how things turn around for Mma Ramotswe because I think that you will be happy with all the hard work on both investigations and learning the truth about everything.  I hope that you check out this book and the other great books in the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.  I have loved all of them with the great writing from the author and the wonderful characters, they always leave me happy that I picked them up and sad that they are done!  Hoping for the next one in the series soon.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 12/18

Monday-Chicken Fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Tacos
Thursday- Some Chicken (don't know what yet)
Friday- Leftover Night to recreate items in the fridge
Saturday- Chicken fries and leftovers
Sunday- Lasagna with shareable bread

Last week was a little mixed up from our normal week but we did Lasagna on Monday because we had company for dinner and it was super easy to throw in the oven.  Then we did my son's favorite meal on Tuesday which made him happy.  I made Philly Cheese Steak Pasta on Wednesday which was quick and easy.  Thursday was really busy trying to get ready for basketball with lots of homework and other things going on so I got fried rice and egg rolls for my husband and white rice and chicken for my son.  We did leftovers on Friday where I turned leftover Chinese rice and Johnsonville Chicken into Buffalo Fried Rice for my husband and Pasta for my son.  We did Barber Chicken with white rice on Saturday night which is quick and easy.  We had a late lunch after a busy day out running errands so we had a small dinner of pasta instead of meatball sliders. 

I don't know about this weeks plan but we have company coming in next week so we are making sure that my son has his favorite dinner before company comes so we have some flexibility when they are here because the plan always seems to change.  We also have a week of my son being off school this week and next so we have lots of plans to keep us busy so just have to make sure that I get things prepped for dinner before it is time to get things on the table.  I hope that you have a yummy week that isn't too crazy before the holidays!!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Seeds of Hope Book Review

I was excited to get to read another book by this author because I have enjoyed her books.  I didn't know a lot about the book or the series but was excited to find out.  Seeds of Hope (Harvest of Hope) by Barbara Cameron was next in my reading pile so I was excited to get back to some Amish fiction after not having read many recently.

A heartwarming tale of discovering love right in front of you

Miriam Troyer has had a secret crush on Mark Byler since she was a teenager, but she knows they can never have a relationship: Mark is a big-city attorney and an Englischer. Her Amish community is too far removed from all he knows--and she loves her quiet way of life.  Mark has always loved his visits to his grandfather's farm, but he's convinced the Amish life isn't for him. There's so much of the world to see and experience, and the excitement of his successful law practice can't be matched by the slow pace of life found back home in the country.  But when things go wrong and his firm distances itself from him to try to save themselves, Mark finds himself back at his grandfather's farm. Could life in this simple world be worth living after all? Especially when the teenager he remembers has grown into a woman that could be his future. Suddenly, these two people whose lives seem so far apart may get a chance to really see each other for the first time.

Miriam is very into her family and being a school teacher which she works really hard to help with her brothers and sisters as well as teaching them constantly.  She has been friends for years with Mark who is not only English but a lawyer from a big city.  He comes to this small Amish community to visit his grandfather every summer and they became fast friends.  Miriam has been fighting a crush on him for a very long time when he shows back up in her small town.  She knows that he is going to go back to his fast paced lifestyle and leave farming and her behind but she still spends lots of time with her friend.  Their lives are so different but they are both drawn to spend more time together until Miriam says no!!  There are a lot of ups and downs in this book but you have to pick it up to find out what happens for yourself.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I have. It was a great read with wonderful characters and great writing.  I enjoyed the back and forth relationship between Mark and Miriam as well as how outspoken Miriam is throughout the book.  I hope that you enjoy these and other things about this great book when you read it!

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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Middle of the Month Budget Update for December

I hope that you have a great month because ours is actually off to a great start.  I can't believe that we are half way through the month but I know that I have totally stocked cupboards, fridges and freezers.  The bright spot is that I have only spent half of my monthly $160 budget so that means that the end of the month has all the flexibility to stock up on the best deals and get anything else that we might need.  I am hoping to get lots with the rest of my budget to stretch everything into the new year but here is what I got so far this month!!!

Harris Teeter $6.30

I got six boxes of pasta, four packages of biscuits, 2 tubes of Crest, 3 packages of Coleman Sausage, and 6 Yakisoba Noodles for free.  I paid $0.24 each for the raviolis.  The Johnsville Flame Grilled Chicken was shelf priced at $5.99 each so it was $11.98 less $6.00 of doubled coupons so it was $5.98 for the two bags.  I got back a $2 catalina which I got to use on my next transaction.  I also got to turn in the receipt for $3 back from Ibotta.

Harris Teeter $1.31

I got some free pasta, Coleman sausage, and Yakisoba Noodles.  I got the Johnsons and Johnsons Body Wash for $0.99 each. The Finish Dishwasher Detergent was $2.79 after sale and coupon.  I used my catalina from the previous transaction and it doubled so this was super cheap.

Harris Teeter $4.31

I got free Mueller's pasta, Barilla Ready Pasta, Naked Juice, Crest Toothpaste, Yakisoba Noodles, and Welch's Fruit Rolls.  The four boxes of cereal was my only purchase.  My evic price on the Welch's Fruit Rolls didn't come off so I had to go to customer service and they gave me the difference off and nothing free :(

Harris Teeter $0.44

My husband did this one and got everything free except tax.  The cashier was pretty impressed with his transaction and that there was a man standing there were coupons.

Aldi $23.53

I went to Aldi and used my first $5 off $30 purchase from the new Aldi opening but I had to return some disgusting potatoes that I got right before Thanksgiving so they gave me an addition $3.06 cash back and a new bag of potatoes.  My son sat in the cart and added all of the items that I was going to get and kept me on track so that I had almost exactly $30 in my cart.

Harris Teeter $6.52

I bought a bunch of things at the store including free Barilla Ready Pasta, 2 Pillsbury Biscuits, 2 Mueller's Pasta, Naked Pressed Juice, Crest Toothpaste, 6 Yakisoba Noodles, and Fleischman Yeast.  I got four bags of Rosina Meatballs for $0.50 each.  I got the Cheese Ravioli for $0.24.  The Johnson and Johnson Body Wash are $0.99 each.  The tomatoes were $0.50 each after sale and coupon for the large cans.

Harris Teeter $6.20 + 2.28= $8.48

 I did one transaction with the Johnsonville Chicken which was $6.20 and the Ibotta was back in my rebates so I got $3 back.  The second transaction included free Barilla Ready Pasta, Crest toothpaste, Luck's Beans, Yakisoba Noodles, Tetley Tea, and Glutino Lemon Cookies from clearance bin.  I bought the Quaker Oatmeal for $0.97 each and the Advil for $0.99 each so I thought that I had enough to use my $2 catalina but I didn't so I asked the cashier to hold one so I went to grab the Finish for $2.79 so I could use the catalina which doubled.  I put in the rebate for $2 for the Advil on Ibotta.

Wegman's $17.66

I went to get the ground beef because we haven't had any in a month and the bags of flour for $0.99 each.

Wegman's $2.03

Two more bags of flour to stock up.

Wegman's $2.03

Two more bags of flour to stock up.  Not a double picture :)

Aldi $4.28

My husband was out of turkey and my son was out of garlic salt so I went to grab these two things.  I was trying to decide if I should buy $30 worth of stuff to get my $5 off but I decided to skip it.

Harris Teeter $0.09

I had some printable coupons that made these free after coupon so this was tax only.

Harris Teeter $0.06

I got a bunch of coupons in the newest inserts for $0.75 yeast and they were on sale for $1.50 at Harris Teeter making them free so this was tax only.

Harris Teeter $0.12

Super excited to find the new Try and Tell so I picked out this soap which I knew my son would love.  I got two more boxes of tissues because I had two more coupons to make them free and three more yeast.  Everything was free and I only paid tax.

Harris Teeter $0.06

More free yeast!!

Harris Teeter $0.06
Yup, I got more!

Harris Teeter $0.06

And again!

Wegman's $2.03

Back to get some more flour at Wegman's for my stock up for the winter.

Wegman's $2.09

I found the yeast was shelf priced at $1.29 so I grabbed three and two more flours so I was excited to get some more for free.

Wegman's $2.09 

Yup, did it again!!

Total Retail $483.37
Total Savings $399.84
Total OOP $83.53 

I don't think that I did as great on making a lot of things at home because I was at the store a lot over the last few weeks but with all these supplies, I am bound to get better.  I made rolls and cinnamon rolls mostly but we enjoyed the things that I did make like the lasagna the other night for dinner.  I am hoping that all this preparation means that I will be out of the store for a little bit but you just never can tell!!!  Also now that it is cold, hoping for lots of baking to heat up the house and our stomaches.

Hope that you are having a good month and can't wait to hear about it!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Second Chance Girl Book Review

I was still getting books off my reserve list at the library.  Second Chance Girl: A Modern Fairy Tale Romance (Happily Inc) by Susan Mallery was the next book to arrive on my reserve shelf.  I was excited to get to read another book set in Happily Inc so soon after reading the other book.

Mathias Mitchell's easy smile hides a world of hurt. After the worst kind of family betrayal, he moves to Happily Inc., California—the wedding destination town supplies a steady stream of bridesmaids, perfect for his “no promises, no pain” lifestyle. Yet he can't stop watching for his beautiful, elusive neighbor on the animal preserve behind their homes.

Gamekeeper Carol Lund knows she's not special enough to attract an alpha male like Mathias, so his offer to help her adopt a herd for her lonely giraffe is surprising—and his determined seduction, even more so. But just as she finally welcomes him into her bed, his careless actions crush her heart. Will she give him a second chance to prove she'll always come first in his heart?

Mathias is the artist in the family of artists where he is considered to be wasting his talent making plates and bowls.  Although many people think that his work with glass is amazing, he is dealing with a lot of things in his personal and professional life.  He has spent a long time in his new home only having quick relationships with bridesmaids because he knows that they are quickly leaving and there is no commitment.  The lifestyle is quickly catching up with him but he has learned to rely on his neighbor Carol who runs the wildlife area next to his house.  He is quickly brought more into her life when he decides to help her find a herd for her giraffe.  They become close friends and it quickly turns to more but you have to pick up the book what happens because it goes wrong quickly.  I hope that you enjoy the book as much as I did!  I know that both of these Happily Inc books are calling for a next book in the series and I can't wait to read it when it comes out!!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 12/11

Monday- Lasagna with sharable bread
Tuesday- Chicken Fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Wednesday- Philly Cheesesteak Pasta
Thursday- Chicken Potstickers with eggs roll sand fried rice
Friday- Leftover Night to recreate items in the fridge
Saturday- Barber Chicken and White Rice
Sunday- Meatball Sliders

Goodness last week was a little rough.  I got Monday's planned meal on the table.  I made Spaghetti on Tuesday with sausage spaghetti sauce for us.  Wednesday we changed the plan ahead of time to chicken tacos to use up some of the lettuce in the fridge and it was super tasty.  Then Thursday came and I didn't have the chicken taken out so I made Roast Beef Sandwiches for my husband which are grilled with melted cheese and a pot of mac and cheese because I was starving by the time that I made dinner, I also heated up some leftovers which I ate while cooking.  Has anyone else done that??  Friday night was leftover night and I cleared out most of the fridge and got us all dinner on the table.  Saturday brought family and Chinese food which we all over ate but enjoyed.  It left a lot of leftovers which my husband and I ate twice on Sunday which was like breakfast and lunch but we weren't hungry for dinner until like 9 PM because of the late time, we just had a snack instead but hoping for a better week this week.

Here is hoping that I can get this next week off without any problems.  I know that I have a lot of appointments and not a lot of time to do things and with this crazy schedule, I have planned an easy week of meals.  I hope that you have a yummy week!!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas at Grey Sage Book Review

I was excited to read another Christmas book when I saw Christmas at Grey Sage by Phyllis Clark Nichols.  I really enjoy reading about all of the different Christmas traditions and this was a greatly different one because it was set in New Mexico.  It was also very different because everyone in the book was trying not to celebrate the holiday because of the sadness.

Nestled in the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe, the Grey Sage Inn looks like the perfect place for weary travelers to escape the craziness of the Christmas season. There's plenty to see in historic Santa Fe during the day, and the inn's owners, Maude and Silas Thornhill, are happy to spend their evenings hosting this year's guests from across the country.

But an unusual snowstorm throws a wrench in the festive mood. The sprawling inn becomes close quarters as stranded guests discover this Christmas won't be the relaxed vacation they expected. Tension and fear mount as the storm worsens, and Silas, a retired doctor, is called away in the middle of the night to care for a neighbor. The snow and stress unlocks tongues--and in the unexpected conversation that follows, secrets and pasts are revealed, and hearts are healed.

In the midst of snowdrifts and fireside conversations, of tales of days gone by, the warmth of Christmas brings a renewed hope as these trapped strangers become friends--proof again that the joy, hope, peace, and love of Christmas can be experienced no matter where you are.

This was a very different Christmas story set in the small town in New Mexico with an unlikely ground of Christmas travelers staying at the Grey Sage Inn which has been closed for over 20 years during the Christmas holiday.  Maude and Silas Thornhill love to have guests at the Inn but the holiday season has been hard since they lost their son many Christmas's before.  The guests arrive and have a great visit with trips to the art galleries and restaurants and fun food and fellowship at Grey Sage.  They pack up to leave and end up having lots of problems that land them back at Grey Sage because the weather is too bad to travel anywhere else.  All of the Christmas plans are changed but everyone is having a great time and enjoy making the most of this new Christmas spirit they are sharing.  If you want to get a little touch of this Christmas spirit, you just need to pick up this book and get into the story because I know that you will have trouble putting it down.  I hope that you check out this great Christmas story about healing and rebirth.  I think that you will enjoy it as much as I have!

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

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2017 Review of Monthly Spending

As always happens at the end of the year, I try to go back and figure out how much I spent and how much I saved at the grocery store.  I try to track everything every month but I sometimes don't do the best job in writing it all in the right place to find it at the end of the year so I spent a little time going back through my blog posts.  Luckily, I found all the spending right away but I didn't find the savings for April and May so I was obviously really busy or had some trouble tracking it for those months.

My monthly budget for all of our grocery spending for our family of three is $160 per month.  I track all of the items that I bought so that I can see what we are getting and how I am spending my money.  It includes all our groceries, paper products and anything else that you buy at the grocery store.

I also added another budget category this year in the middle of the year that I started tracking with take out and eating out for $40 because I really feel that those two are a little linked because if you are eating out more then you should spend less on groceries or the other way around.  It means that I have $200 for the month for both.

Here is how I did for the year:

                     Spending     Savings

January          $214.69      $450.10
February        $92.83        $59.67
March            $133.65      $139.14
April              $131.47      $
May               $181.00      $
June               $73.65        $354.54
July                $173.82      $301.33
August           $167.65      $671.21
September     $76.38        $261.21
October         $164.96      $843.92
November     $162.67      $627.12
December          ?                  ?

Total             $1572.77     $3708.24
Average        $142.97       $412.03

Maybe I will have time to go back and figure out what my savings was from April and May before December month end but if I don't, I still think that these averages look pretty good.  How did you do for the year?  Ready to set some goals for the new year?

I am hoping to keep the same budget next year.  It takes a little more work to make the numbers work with less deals coming less frequently but I know that if I work hard, it will work out for another year.  Luckily, my pantry and freezer are really full so I am ready to start off the year right.

I am hoping that you are ready to have a great year end too!!!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Love in Plain Sight Book Review

I was interested in getting to the books that I had on my shelf that I got from the free shelf at the library or the library book sales with my free coupons.  The first one at the top of the pile was Love in Plain Sight: Love 'n' Marriage\Almost An Angel by Debbie Macomber.  I didn't realize until I started that it was two shorter stories which was interesting.

Sometimes love's right there in front of you

As Stephanie Coulter discovers, sometimes you find it in the most ordinary places—and what could be more ordinary than the office? Stephanie, who works as an assistant at Lockwood Industries in Minneapolis, is temporarily assigned to the boss—Jonas Lockwood himself. Jonas lives up (or down!) to his reputation as a tyrant, dictator and grouch. But Stephanie's colleagues, romance readers all, decide that he's really the classic lonely hero. What he needs, they say, is Love 'n' Marriage. And the woman they have in mind for him is…Stephanie.

Bethany Stone, on the other hand, is already in love with her boss, Joshua Norris, although their relationship is strictly business. But one day he asks for her help—outside the office. Joshua's ten-year-old daughter, Angie, is coming to live with him and he has no idea how to raise a precocious little girl. Angie might be Almost an Angel, but she quickly develops a matchmaking plan for her dad—and Bethany!

I thought this was a fun book and really enjoyed reading both short stories.  The first book is call Love n' Marriage and features Stephanie Coulter who is working as an assistant to a wonderful man who is on vacation.  She is called up to work as an assistant to the boss when his assistant is out sick and she quickly makes an impression.  Jonas is the boss and Stephanie finds him very mean and grouchy so she quickly shows her personality.  After she moves back down to her job, she feels better about her time upstairs working for the boss until HR throws another surprise her way, she is going to be his assistant for a special trip to France because no one else speaks French fluently.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens on this crazy work trip.

The second book, Almost An Angel, Bethany has been working for Joshua Norris for years and she is totally in love with him but he doesn't even notice her.  She has decided that it is too painful for her so she wants to find another job.  At that same time, Joshua has his daughter come and live with him and asks Bethany for help.  Bethany becomes even more involved in Joshua's life and his daughters.  It is so wonderful to be more a part of his life and to watch him change that she doesn't quit her job but then everything goes terribly wrong.  You have to read this great story to find out what happens because I think that you will be amazed and the fast transformation.  I enjoyed both stories and I am glad that I came upon them in my book pile.  Can't wait for the next great read!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Menu Plan Monday 12/4

Monday-Chicken Fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Tuesday- Pasta
Wednesday- Chicken with mac and cheese
Thursday- Chicken with white rice
Friday- Leftover Night to recreate items in the fridge
Saturday- Meatball Sliders
Sunday- Philly Cheese Steak Pasta

Last week was busy but went pretty well but I still haven't completed the December meal plan yet but starting to put together a plan for this week so trying to make sure that we get in meals around all the things to do on the menu.  I hope that you have a yummy week!!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

November Month End Budget Numbers for Groceries and Eating Out

I had a busy beginning of the month with working on getting the deals on turkeys which turned out to be unnecessary later because the Harris Teeter turkey deal kept going the next week with plenty of things that I could have gotten but at least I got lots of things that I will use but our freezer is jam packed and I really need to clean it out (and defrost it)!!  I moved things around but I am looking forward to having lots of food on hand and just figuring out when I am going to use them.

I went a little crazy with a few big trips this month early on but I still had a bunch left after the Thanksgiving break but they confirmed super doubles and I still thought it was plenty of money to make it through but I might have gone a little crazy because of that thought but check out what I got for the month.  The first half of the month had details are here but all the totals and pictures are below.  I got a bunch of things that we are totally going to use for months to come!!  We have almost all the stuff still in the pictures in the house because we were busy using the things we already had on hand.

Giant $3.99

Harris Teeter $34.11

Giant $39.24

Giant $2.60

Harris Teeter $11.10

Harris Teeter $0.27

Harris Teeter $0.19

Harris Teeter $0.17

Harris Teeter $0.17

Harris Teeter $0.17

Harris Teeter $0.17

Harris Teeter $0.17

Harris Teeter $0.44

Harris Teeter $4.08


Aldi $4.94

I was super excited to get the low prices potatoes and celery as well as the milk that we needed.  It was a great sale week.

Aldi $2.96

I went to the new store to get a free bag, key chain and when you checked out, you got $5 off $30 for three weeks so I grabbed the last thing on my list.  There were also lots of things to taste which was nice because they were things that I have never bought before!!

Harris Teeter $31.66

I went to get the weekend freebie which didn't come off at the register so I had to go to the customer service desk.  This was a 3 pack which was a big surprise and I got to use a coupon to get an additional $1.50 off my order.
I also wanted to get the last yeast with my last coupon for free.  I saw that they had Hillshire Farm on sale for $2.50 and there were some with $1 meat clearance and I had a printable coupon for $0.75 which made them free.  I got more cranberry juice which I got to turn in for $0.25 Ibotta rebate for any item and $0.25 for cranberry juice.  I went a little crazy getting the Cottonelle deal because they were $3.87 a package after evic special and coupon and I was supposed to get $2 catalina but I didn't get one and customer service said that they couldn't help me.  I have to call the customer service to get my money back :(

Giant $0.16

I got a freebie for the Mrs. Fields cookies which I added to my card.

and then there was a Betty Crocker coupon which I added to my card to buy one, get one free although it was super hard to figure out what was going to come off when I used the coupon because it said free $2.18 on two but then read differently when you opened it up.  It ended up coming off on the shelf price which was $1.69.  There was another electronic coupon for $0.50 off that also came off so the two were basically free because they were on sale for $1 each and I got to use a printable coupon for $0.50 off 2 so I put an extra item in my order to cover the overage.

Awesome deal that I paid mostly just tax with a little pre-planning!!

Aldi $3.26

It was the last day of the sale so I grabbed 20 more pounds of potatoes!!  I can't pass up the Thanksgiving sale price and we love potatoes!

Harris Teeter $1.64 

I got the Dominos Sugar because we were almost out of sugar and I got the free Hillshire Meat and Cheese pack after the meat clearance.

Harris Teeter $0.85

I grabbed two of the Tetley Tea and the Little Remedies Sore Throat Pops which was mostly free except it turned out that the receipt didn't have the Tetley ringing up at shelf price.

Harris Teeter $2.27

I got a ton of things at the store and got to use the $3 for customer service rebate from a missed Catalina from before.  The Mueller pasta, Crest Toothpaste, Chobani yogurt, Pillsbury biscuits, and Perfect Bars were free after sale and coupons.  The meatballs were $0.24 each after sale, coupon and electronic coupon. The Grown in Idaho tater tots were $1.49 and I turned in a rebate for Checkout 51 for $1.00.  The Alexia Tater Tots were $1.79 each.  We needed lunch meat which was $1.89 after sale and coupon.  One of the coupons didn't ring up so I went to customer service to get it back and the Tetley tea didn't ring up correctly so customer service gave me $6.81 for the missed coupon and wrong priced tea so this was an amazing trip all the way around!!!! I am going to get another $1 from the Pillsbury biscuits.

Harris Teeter $0.37

I got Mueller's Pasta, Yakisoba Noodles and Crest for free and only paid tax.

Harris Teeter $11.18

I went to the store to get a few key items like the free Mueller's pasta, Celentano Cheese Ravioli, Crest toothpaste and Oral-B toothbrushes.  The shelves were already empty on many of the items like tea and Yakisoba noodles.  The deal on the Crunchmaster crackers ended up to be better then expected because they were on sale for $2.24 each and I had a coupon for a $1 which doubled but some electronic coupon also came off on each bag so they were a $0.76 money maker.  I also got to turn them in for a Checkout 51 rebate for $1.  I also wanted to get the KidFresh deal because I gave one to my friend before because I couldn't remember why this one was such a good deal.  They were on sale for $3.50 each and I had a coupon for $1.25 off two which doubled making them $2.25 each for these chicken nuggets.  I got $1.50 catalina back from the purchase which doubles during super doubles on my next purchase.  I turned them in and got $1.50 from Checkout 51 and $3 from Ibotta so another money maker.  My favorite deal was the Alouette cheese which was on sale for Buy 2, Get 3 free with a shelf price of $5.99.  I used two $1 coupons and three $0.75 coupons which took off $8.50 so they were $3.48 for all 5 of them!!  I also got to turn it in for $2 back from Checkout 51 and $5.00 from Ibotta so it was a super money maker.  I finally found the Dinosaur Oatmeal which was on an evic special for $0.97 each.  It didn't ring up and I went to customer service and they gave me one free and fixed the price on the second which is why my total is lower then I thought.

One of my last additions to the cart was the Finish dishwasher tabs which was $2.79 after sale and coupon because we have been low on dishwasher detergent for awhile and I haven't had coupons to get anymore.  It makes these $0.14 per load instead of $0.26 so it is some savings at least but not the best deal that I have ever seen for sure.  There were probably going to be more on the shelf later in the sale but I don't like putting off anything because you just don't know.  Most of my coupons had to be overridden so it took awhile to checkout but I think that it was well worth it with my savings.

Harris Teeter $4.98

The medicine was on sale for $5.99 from $7.69 which was the shelf price.  I had a $1 coupon which expired on that day so I got them for $3.99 each and then I used the $1.50 catalina from the KidsFresh purchase which doubled.  We will certainly use these this cold season!!

Aldi $1.53 

Our milk was past the date so I was hoping to stop at the less expensive Aldi and the price went up from $0.98 where it has been for a long time to $1.49.  I probably shouldn't have gotten it knowing that I was over budget already but I was passing by and thought it was going to be a little lower priced but still not a crazy price for milk.


 Total Retail $790.12
Total Savings $627.45
Total OOP $162.67

I don't think that it was too bad being $2.67 over budget but I could have stayed under budget if I didn't go crazy on the last day of the month!!  This super doubles is certainly leading to a few good deals that have overfilled my pantry.  I have to go through and clean out everything and try to rearrange things but my pasta stockpile is overflowing and since it is one of my son's favorite foods, I know that it won't go to waste!!  

I put in rebates for the month and I have already gotten $22.90 from Ibotta, $5.50 from Checkout 51 and should have at least $2.14 from Saving Star when ever those finally clear.  Lots of money back to get used for some Christmas shopping!!

I have gotten most of the things on my list but I do need to go to Wegman's and get some flour and ground beef which should be my biggest purchase in December and Aldi's for chicken fries and popcorn chicken with my $5 off $30 purchase.  

If I can get some of the baking and cooking done that I haven't had time for, I know that we will have tons of things for the month of December.  I probably need to make the time to clean out my pantry again and get it organized because of the influx of soup, stock and pasta which all go in the same cupboard.  Here is hoping that moving things around finds some room that was otherwise missing.  Part of the meal plan is done for the month but I need to finish it up now that I know about basketball practice and some of the time that family is going to be in town.  

Hope you had a great month and are ready for another one going into this busy season!!

Eating Out

I was tough last month and held strong to not eating out until we traveled and then we grabbed the most economical option that made my son's night.  We had Little Caesar's pizza in the car through Pennsylvania for dinner because the trip was taking forever.  Total spent eating out was $5.30.  Although my son was not deprived from having pizza because we had Domino's at his end of season soccer party which was a treat from the coach and he had Papa John's at a birthday party and Little Caesar's at a family gathering purchased by grandparents so this was a pizza heavy month any way.  Super happy that we came in well under our $40 budget especially since I was a little over the grocery budget.