Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Last Chance Beauty Queen Book Review

I was excited to read the next book in this series right after the second book.  This was the missing puzzle piece in the beginning of this series since I started with the Christmas book which was the fourth in the series.  I was interested in what the beauty queen was going to be in Last Chance Beauty Queen by Hope Ramsay. 

Dear Reader,

Gracious me, my beautiful daughter Rocky sure could use my help. I always knew she wasn't much interested in the local boys - but who'd have thought she'd come home with English royalty?
Trouble is, Hugh wants to buy some of our folks' land. We don't want to sell, but Rocky's job depends on her closing the deal. And though Hugh's obviously smitten, I'm not sure he's right for my Rocky. Oh, he's classy and handsome - and you should've seen the way he judged pies and fixed stock cars at our Watermelon Festival! - but what do we know about him, really? I know I sound like a nervous mother hen, but after forty happy years with my Elbert, all I want is to see my little girl find the same.

Well, time for me to quit chattering and get back to Miss Bray's wet set. Always nice talking to you, and remember: the Cut 'n Curl's got hot rollers, free coffee, and the best gossip in town.

See you real soon,
Ruby Rhodes

Rocky Rhodes, now called Caroline, grew up in the small town of Last Chance and worked to get out with college and a job in politics that is sending her to Washington DC.  She comes home to help out the Senator that she is working for by dealing with a man who wants to buy her family land.  Hugh, is English royalty that is trying to build a factory in the small town of Last Chance because his late business partner bought a parcel of land and he doesn't have the money to develop any other land.  There are many problems that come up with the land including wetlands but the main obstacle is that the mini-golf course Golfing for God is in front of it so there is no street access.  Caroline is trying to close the deal without giving up her father's land and dreams.  Things get even worse when Caroline falls for Hugh.  Then to make matters worse, the Watermelon Festival is starting and Caroline has to ride on the float in her dress from when she was Watermelon Queen.  There are so many funny things that happen in this book but you have to pick it up to find out what happens.  I thought that these books were really interesting and I was super glad to read this new to me author with a whole series of books that I got a chance to catch up on.  I hope that you check them out and enjoy them as much as I have!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Home at Last Chance Book Review

I was excited to get the next book in this series right after finishing the first because I couldn't wait to find out what happened next.  I am also super excited to have the third book in the series already on my shelf too.  This reminds me that I need to get on the library system and see if I can reserve the rest of this series so that I can get to know more about the small town of Last Chance, SC.  Home at Last Chance by Hope Ramsay was the second book in the series which followed right after the first with another brother.

Dear Reader,

You won't believe what's happened. My son Tulane has come back home! You remember Tulane? He'd set out to find fame and fortune in the big, wide world outside of Last Chance, and I'm mighty proud. But that's not the half of it-Tulane isn't only back, he's brought a young lady with him.

Now Sarah-she does PR for Tulane's stock-car team-she's from Boston, but she's just about the sweetest girl you could meet. I think she's meant to keep Tulane out of trouble after that story in the papers, but he doesn't want to talk about it. Anyhow, the Ladies Auxiliary can't wait to start matchmaking and introduce Sarah to our Reverend Ellis. But mark my words, Sarah is tired of being a good girl. And no one is better at breaking the rules and raising Cain than my son . . .

Listen to me going on and keeping customers waiting. I best get back to work, but you come round again. The Cut 'n' Curl's got hot rollers, free coffee, and the best gossip in town.

See you real soon,

Ruby Rhodes

This was interesting because I felt like a I read ahead starting with the fourth book so I knew some of the secrets and going back showed me the history.  Tulane is a stock car driver and he is assigned a new person to do PR for him, Sarah.  Sarah is working on advancing her career and being taken seriously instead of taken advantage of by some of her colleagues.  Although part of that job is now making sure that Tulane stays in line which is a really hard job.  Tulane likes breaking the rules and also like to help Sarah try new experiences and break her own rules.  They end up having to take a trip to Last Chance and the Ladies Auxiliary are hard at work trying to set Sarah up with the preacher.  It is interesting to see the two characters and all the challenges that they overcome.  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the series to see for yourself what an interesting story this is following the Rhodes family.  I think that you will enjoy it as much as I have!!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 1/29

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken and homemade fries
Tuesday- Chicken (don't know what?)
Wednesday- Ground Beef Tacos
Thursday- Pasta
Friday- Leftovers Recreated
Saturday- Pizza At Birthday Party
Sunday- Super Bowl Snack Platter with Fried Ravioli, Cheese Sticks, Chopped Salad and more

I think that I did okay with last week and got Monday's dinner on the table even though I was exhausted from the party weekend and got some of the house cleaned up.  I got more of the stuff put away on Tuesday and made Chicken (coated in flour and pepper browned in butter) and Herb Rice.  Wednesday was meatball sliders because I didn't take out any ground beef and I wasn't sure what I was going to make so I decided to use up the rolls, sauce and throw in the ground beef I said I was going to do even though they are pre-made.  Thursday was pasta night because of basketball practice and rushing back out of the house.  Friday night was leftover night so I made, buffalo chicken mac and cheese and a variety platter of chicken fries, tater tots, fried ravioli, cheese sticks, edamame, chopped salad and rolls.  On Saturday, my dad was in town and we went out to a late lunch and none of us ate dinner because we were still full from lunch.  Sunday was my night to work so I was thinking that I was going to make a frozen pizza before I went to work but we had pizza on Saturday so I thought that I might make the frozen beef tacos with Mexican Rice for dinner with some corn bread.  I wasn't sure if it was going to be enough for all of us with the tacos that we had left in the freezer but I decided that it was my best plan and I would add in some quesadillas....then, they ate such a big lunch that I didn't even have to make dinner.

Here is hoping that you have a great week and enjoy some yummy food!!  I am working on the meal plan for the month and I think that I am doing a pretty good job so there are only a few blank spots.  I huge improvement over last month.  I think that I have a better idea of what we have in the house and looking forward to a good month.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Welcome to Last Chance Book Review

In my quest to read all things Christmas, I picked up a bunch of wrapped secret books at the library and one of the books was the Christmas book in this series which I loved so I went back to the beginning to find out what I missed.  I went straight to the library reserve system to get the first three books in this series after I read the Christmas book.  Welcome to Last Chance by Hope Ramsay was the next book that I was going to read in my book pile and I was excited to get started.

Dear Reader,

Yes, our town is way off the beaten path, but strange, wonderful miracles happen a lot around here.

I've owned the Cut 'n' Curl beauty shop for years, and I've seen folks come for a visit, then stay for a lifetime. Take Jane-that pretty firecracker of a girl who just arrived in town. I would swear she's running from something. She came with only five dollars in her pocket but she's worked real hard to make a fresh start. She's turned my son Clay's life upside down without even realizing it.

And thank goodness for that! Ever since Clay left his country western band, he's played everything too safe. He needs to take a chance on Jane. Besides, the more he tries to keep his distance, the more he'll realize that he and Jane are singing the same tune.

But I should quit ramblin' and go check on Millie's permanent wave. Next time you're in Last Chance, be sure to swing by. We've got hot rollers, free coffee, and the best gossip in town.

See you real soon,

Ruby Rhodes

I wasn't disappointed in this first book in the series.  Jane came into town on the 9:30 PM bus from Atlanta where not many people stopped in Last Chance.  She went to the only place that she saw open which was the local bar, Dot's Spot.  She hit on a few men and then was taken to the local motel for a one night stand.  She decided it was a good idea because she didn't have anywhere else to stay and only $5 left to her name.  The one night stand turned into a lot more when she decided to stay and get a job but a hurricane with the same name blew through town at the same time which put off trying to find a place to stay and money to buy food.  Luckily, she knew Clay, her one night stand and he helped her while she tried to figure out the next step but he was mostly working on getting her out of town before everyone in the town knew what happened.  This didn't happen because word spreads fast through this little town.  Find out what happens to Jane after Hurricane Jane blows through town when you pick up this book and I promise you don't be disappointed.  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the series and enjoy it as much as I have.  I am already on to the second book in the series so stay tuned for a review soon. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Substitute Guest Book Review

This was my last book in my pile for all those Christmas books.  I hadn't heard of the author but I was interested in checking it out.  The Substitute Guest (Grace Livingston Hill #20) by Grace Livingston Hill was one of the last batch of books that I picked up at the library after the holidays that was still wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper.  I was carrying through the Christmas titles into the new year.

When Alan Monteith decides to help a friend in need by delivering a bottle of medicine to a sick woman, he never imagined being stranded in a blizzard. And he never imagined climbing a mountain on foot. But when his car breaks down in front of the Devereaux’s home, that’s just what he ends up doing. Daryl Devereaux was looking forward to a peaceful holiday until Alan Monteith arrives. As the young stranger and her brother trudge into the storm, Daryl is left to pray for their safe return, never realizing that night will change their lives forever.

I enjoyed the book but I don't think that I will check out anything else by this author.  I liked the story and the character development but the focus on the Christian aspect was a little harder to get past.  There are some stories where it adds to the story but it seemed to be pushing and not moving the story along.  I enjoyed reading about Alan and his mission to help his doctor friend deliver the medicine to a women who needed it.  It was amazing to watch a perfect stranger step up and help him deliver it through a snow storm.  There was a lot of tension and stress during that part of the story.  The rest of the story was a little slow after dealing with that when they get back and they are stuck in the house because of the heavy snow.  Although they were stuck, there are lots of family dynamics with the holidays and everything going on although it goes down when Alan goes home from his trip living in the Devereaux home.  I was glad to read the story and enjoyed it but it was very predictable and I know that I won't be reading another one anytime soon.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 1/22

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken and homemade fries
Tuesday- Chicken with rice (not sure what yet)
Wednesday- Ground Beef (not sure what yet)
Thursday- Pasta
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- Mini Tacos from Trader Joes with Rice
Sunday- Frozen Pizza

I had one heck of a week last week and the kitchen looks horrible because of it as the meals were a little hard too.  I couldn't even find the time to empty the dishwasher after getting it run so there is a mess that I have to clean up after unpacking from all the birthday party mess.  We got back from a trip later then expected on Monday night because of the horrible traffic but I still pulled off the planned dinner of my son's favorite dinner because it was his birthday.  Tuesday night was mini tacos and fast Mexican rice made with blended salsa and seasoning from the cupboard (white rice for my picky one).  Wednesday night was Salsa Sloppy Joes and mac and cheese.  Thursday night brought basketball practice and a late night for my husband at the office so I made pasta for my son's dinner and then made my husband's in a bowl to take with him in the car but I had scalloped potatoes (yup from the box mix because I love them and no one else does in my house).  Friday was pizza at family game night where we all had yummy pizza and had lots of fun playing games.  Saturday was so busy trying to get ready for the party and my son's basketball so we had some leftover rice which I turned into fried rice for my husband and my son ate some plain with butter and a few chicken fries.  Sunday was my son's birthday party and we had pizza for lunch.  My husband ate leftover pizza for dinner but I was at my maximum pizza so my son and I had a pot of mac and cheese.  

We had tons of crazy last week with my son's birthday party prep and me at work all week so I am hoping for a better week this week but still planning on easy dinners just in case.  We have a four day weekend because of the end of the quarter at school so lots of time with my little man which means less time in the kitchen.  I hope that you have a good week!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Middle of the Month Budget Update for January

I can't believe how fast this month has gone and it was mostly because I didn't plan ahead (yet again) for my son's birthday party so I have to scramble after the holiday season to get invites out and get everything set up and created.  My son decided that he wanted a Minecraft Themed party so I grabbed some green plates on Christmas clearance and had no clue what else we were going to do after starting with pizza which is my son's favorite food.  They had a blast last year decorating cookies so I thought we would do that again and they do two and take one home for their treat bag.  I found a place to have it so that it doesn't have to be at the house which will be amazing.  We decided on a few different games, a minecraft face craft, and make your own minecraft village and a booklet like I made last year with activities to send home with the kids. I just have to make a few things and I should be able to pull together even though we are going to be going away for his actual birthday and then I work the following week. 

Here is what I have gotten so far for the first half of the month.  Did I mention that we had another full week super doubles at Harris Teeter and because we had a super sad excuse for a snow storm on the east coast that shut things down, we got three extra days to shop super doubles with a new sale.  I was super excited to get the extra days and then I was too busy to actually use them until the last day when I had a great friend drive me to the store which was great because I was so tired.  We had a great time going to two stores to see what was left on the shelf...answer, not much!!  So there are a lot of great deals below and a little too much over shopping!!

Giant $0.16

I went to get the free Oui yogurt and I used a coupon where I got overage so I used it to pay for some tomatoes which I will use the next time I make sauce.  I also got a surprise with $0.30 back from Saving Star so a great money maker.

Target $0

I went to Target to get some medicine because we were totally out.  I looked at Giant and they were very expensive.  I looked at CVS and they had a great selection but also high priced.  I had a gift card for Target which my husband got at work which we used for a few after Christmas deals.  I was excited to get two rolls of winter paper for $0.10 each and the strange foil animal print for $0.50.  The lifesavers were a nice treat for those at home with sore throats for around $0.89.  I decided to grab two more of the Quaker Big Chewy because they were still on sale.  Gift card covered it all so nothing out of pocket!!

Harris Teeter $14.61

It was the first day of super doubles and I got free Go-Gurt, Grain Berry cereal, Ken's salad dressing, Progresso Organic soup, Crest toothpaste, and Puffs tissues.  We were totally out of laundry detergent so I was excited to get the super double call even though All wasn't on sale, it was $1.69 after coupon.  I got the amazing deal on the Tide for $0.88 with a printable coupon which had a limit of one.  I asked another couponer in the store if she got the Tide in her paper because I  didn't and she gave me two coupons!!  Woot Woot!!!  Double win!!  I got the cereal for $0.97 each after sale and coupon.  I got the super cheap ravioli which were $0.24 a bag.  I decided to get the Freschetta pizza deal which were $2.88 after the sale and coupon and there was a rebate that I got back $0.50 for each pizza on Ibotta and $1 each from Checkout $0.50 so they were $1.38 after rebates which will make a super easy and hot winter lunch for us!!  I got another $0.25 back for any item from Ibotta.  I got back $1 for Progresso Soup, $1 for General Mills Cereal, and $1 for Go-Gurt from Saving Star.

Harris Teeter $22.08

I used my two Tide coupons from my coupon fairy that gave them to me at the other store so they were $0.88 each.  I grabbed my last two All for $1.69 because I didn't have any more coupons.  I got three Cran Grape and three Mocktails with the coupon so that they were $1.48 each after sale and coupon.  There was free sausage, Go-Gurt and Crest after sale and coupon.  I had something that got me a free Liberte yogurt which I think was a catalina coupon and I should get $0.30 back from Saving Star but haven't yet.  I grabbed the Centrum Vitamins for $6.99 less $4 coupon and I will get an additional $4 back from Saving Star but it hasn't come through yet.  I got  the Muir Glen tomato paste for $0.19 each and the tomato sauce for $0.25 and then $0.50 backs on Saving Star.  I got $1.25 back from Ibotta for Light and Fit Yogurt which I paid $0.25 for after coupon.  I got the Gushers for $0.39 each and should get $0.50 back from Saving Star.

Aldi $6.71

I needed milk and butter and I got a message from my friend that they had these neat steaks on sale for $4 off.  They were super picked over by the time that I made it there but I got one and didn't spend a ton and we got a super special treat for $3.81 more then I was planning on spending.  Hoping to eat this for two meals with one as grilled steak and one for a steak sandwich.

Harris Teeter $21.07

I went to the store farther out after Aldi because it was close to where I was.  I got free noodles, sausage and the Tetley tea.  The Tetley tea was cheaper here then all the other stores because it was $0.39 more at the other stores which was more then I was willing to spend on it even though I use it every day.  I am going to have to head out to this store from now on to get better pricing during different deals for the difference in shelf price.  The Ocean Spray was on sale cheaper here so it was an even better deal at $0.98 each after coupon but I only had one coupon left. I had only one coupon back for the Muir Glen tomatoes so I got those for $0.25 because canned tomatoes are always good to have on hand.  I bought the Cheez-It coupons from Kelloggs Family Rewards and use the limit of 3 which my family has really enjoyed eating for $1.47 for all three or $0.49 each.  I got $1 back from Checkout 51 making it an even better deal.  I got the Children's Motrin which was a pretty good deal after sale and coupon for $3.99 and there was a bonus rebate from Ibotta for $1 each.  I got the Freschetta Pizza deal reset so I grabbed three more pizzas for $2.88 and $1.50 rebate on each split between Checkout 51 and Ibotta. 

Harris Teeter $0.42

Got all the free stuff at the cheaper shelf price store that had plenty of stock on hand for all the sale deals too!!

Harris Teeter $0.37

More free stuff including a new addition because of new coupons that I was excited to see.  I use Excedrin and it is very expensive so I am so excited to get some for free.

Harris Teeter $1.96

I grabbed the free noodles, Crest, Excedrin, and sausage.  There was an evic deal to get Yoplait for free so I got the key lime one which is pretty tasty.  There was a new coupon for Ricola to be $0.19 per bag and they are our favorite cough drops.  I also got the turkey lunch meat for $0.50 per package with the meat clearance.

Trader Joes and Aldi (I think those are the only places) $0

My dad was in town and he took my son to the store to pick out anything he wanted and he threw so much in the cart.  My father also helped out by throwing in things he thought were should have too.  There are a few things that weren't at the top of our lists but we got a ton of things.  I talked him out of quite a few things although I might have put the molassas in there.  I don't know what we got but all this junk food will sadly be eaten.

Harris Teeter $17.67-$5.00= $12.67

The last thing that we needed was more toilet paper because I had plenty by the price was amazing and there was a promo to get $5 Catalina back.  Of course it didn't work but customer service took care of me and gave me cash back.  I had to buy 4 packages of toilet paper which two were on evic sale for $4.97 and two were on the sale price $5.99, the Kleenex to get the deal and they were $0.97 each on my evic sales. It still worked out great with sales and coupons.  I got the free Lance cracker deals with the newspaper that was delivered to the house that morning before leaving for the store and mine had three of the one insert so I got to get the evic limit of 2.  I decided to get the Cascadian Farms granola bars for me for $0.50 because there was a $1 back from Saving Star making it a money maker.

Harris Teeter $0.10

Grabbed all the freebies and only paid tax.

Harris Teeter $10.82- $1.03= $9.79

 This was my first time trying to do the P&G promo where you bought 3 items and got $3 back.  I bought 5 items when I should have only bought 3 because I didn't know the Crest worked in the deal so I learned my lesson.  I got the free noodles but no other freebies.  I got three more bags of the $0.19 Ricola cough drops.  My main goal was to get the granola bars for my husband which was on evic deal and I finally printed the coupons to get them for $1.37 each box which is not a great deal but it was the splurge that he wanted this month and I felt like we had wiggle room to get them.  I had one coupon to get the hot sauce for $0.50 per bottle but I didn't have any more coupons to get anymore or I would have because I think that we have gone through most of the ones that I had in my stockpile.

Harris Teeter $4.47

I got free sausage, Excedrin, and Crest.  I bought the Light and Fit yogurt which was $1.25 and I used a coupon for $0.50 which doubled so I paid $0.25 and turned in for $1.25 rebate which reset.  I thought I was going to get another rebate for $0.50 to make it money maker but I didn't read close enough and it was only for certain stores (not including Harris Teeter).  I grabbed the Always pad to get the $3 P&G promo to pay for some of the pizzas.  They were on sale for $4.88 and I used a coupon to make them $2.88.  I turned in a rebate for $1 on Ibotta ($0.50 for each pizza) and $2 from Checkout 51 ($1 each pizza) but I only got two pizzas because I only had two left on my Checkout 51 deal even though Ibotta reset again.  There was an additional $0.25 any item rebate from Ibotta making this any even better deal.

Harris Teeter $0.03

Free sausage and free Excedrin so only paid tax.

Harris Teeter $2.50- $3.00 cash back= -$0.50

I used the P&G promo $3 back to pay for the $0.19 bags of Ricola and $0.39 boxes of Fruit Gushers and either $1.99 Always.  The Excedrin and Crest were free.  There was something wrong because the promo didn't come off but customer service gave me back the money back but some coupon doubled fully so I got overage so I actually ended up in the negative when I got the money back.

Harris Teeter $4.13

There was a deal where you got $3 back for buying three P&G products and how it took me this long to get it right finally, I got overage because of the coupons and used it to cover the $0.20 bags of Ricola, $0.67 bottles of Lysol toilet cleaner and the evic special Quaker oatmeal at $1.97 each. I turned in the receipt to Ibotta to get $1.25 back from the yogurt which was free after coupon!  I just turned it in for $1.00 from Checkout 51 more!

Harris Teeter $0.67

Last store of the last second of super doubles and I got a few more things and spent very little and turned in the receipt for $0.25 any item rebate from Ibotta.

Total Retail $730.60
Total Savings $631.88
Total OOP $98.72

Biggest bonus of the month was that I transferred a little more Ibotta money back to my PayPal account and paid for 4 new pairs of shoes for my son with our free money in PayPal because they were on an amazing sale through Stride Rite.  Bigger bonus that I did it through Swagbucks and I will get more money back to buy gift cards!!  I love that I can save tons of money on groceries and use the free money to get some great things that we need.  Couponing on for the win!!!

I have a monthly budget of $160 per month for our family of three and I have spent more then half of the budget but I think that I got a lot of things that we are going to use and things that were at the lowest price to assure that we have enough for the rest of the month.  We mostly need milk, eggs and lunch meat so there is obviously still a lot of money to get deals at the store that pop up.  I also have a little of my Target gift card left to get a few things if we need it.

I have plenty in the fridge, freezer and pantry so now I just need enough time at home to figure out what to make and time to prep everything.  I hope that I will have a little bit more time to do that in the rest of the month but I have signed up to work a bunch this month!!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 1/15

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken and homemade fries
Tuesday- Chicken??  Don't know what kind yet
Wednesday- Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Thursday- Pasta
Friday- Pizza at family game night
Saturday- Leftovers
Sunday- Pizza at Birthday Party for Lunch and Leftovers for Dinner

I think that last week went pretty well although the taco meat was not defrosted on Tuesday so I did switch Tuesday and Wednesday but the week went pretty well with a huge clearing out of the fridge on Friday for us to get ready for our trip.  We weren't going to be gone for long but the garbage went out and the dishwasher got run and nothing was left to spoil.  I tried to pack everything we would need to have dinner at the hotel so that we could make the most of our adventure.  I made pasta on Saturday night when we arrived and we went straight to the arcade afterwards which was walking distance from our room and free play with our stay.  We packed a picnic lunch on Sunday for our lunch which was a good thing because we were all hungry before we were done with the museum even though I made a special breakfast for doughnuts before we left the hotel.  I can't tell you how good a full kitchen it for our family!!  I just wish I brought a little more food but the bag was full so I thought I was over packing....maybe not.  I made chicken and rice on Sunday night for dinner after the indoor pool was enjoyed so that we could refuel before hitting the arcade again.  The great part of a quick family vacation is that we get to do lots of things like discover history and swim and play games. 

I am exhausted from a long week and there is another long week ahead. I think that I will be busy but I know that I am excited to get to finish all the work for my son's birthday party and have a blast with the super large party list that he has created for his Minecraft birthday themed party.  I hope that you have a great week planned and enjoy some yummy food.  I know that we will be enjoying a yummy week because we have a great week planned!!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

White Christmas Pie Book Review

I got another book through the wrapped books at the library and I am almost to the end of the Christmas books.  White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter was the next book in my pile.  I was looking forward to it but it was certainly an older looking picture on the front of the book and it was also one that seemed to be barely available to buy through Amazon and third party sellers so I knew that it was going to be an earlier book in whatever series it might go with.  I was ready to read it regardless so I picked it up when it was the next book in my pile.

Step into Amish country for this bittersweet holiday romance. Here you'll meet Will Henderson, a young man tortured by his past, and Karen Yoder, a young woman looking for answers. Add a desperate father searching for his son, and you have all the ingredients for a first-class romance that will inspire and enthrall.

The summary online was not a great summary and it is probably because it is not sold as readily.  The back of the book says Will Henderson, abandoned by his father sixteen years ago and left in the care of an Amish couple, has joined the Amish church and is about to marry Karen Yoder.  But as Will contemplates marriage and potential fatherhood, he wonders will he eventually destroy his family as his father did his? Karen Yoder can't break through the barrier her finance has suddenly constructed around his heart.  When she seeks the advice of an old boyfriend, Will begins to see green.  Is there a chance there won't be a December Wedding after all?  Riddled with guilt and shame over abandoning his son, Frank Henderson sinks into depression.  As he begins to search for Will, he wonders if there is anything he can do to make it right.  When Will's life is threatened, the strength of blood ties is put to the test. Can Will find it in his heart to forgive his father and marry the woman he loves? Can an old recipe for White Christmas Pie contain the truth that sets him free?

The book was about Will dealing with his demons and trying to get over the hurt of the past.  It was brought out worse when he say other children that were abandoned by their parents.  He had a large chip on his shoulder even though he was raised by a wonderful mom and dad.  He had grown to be 22 years old and was about to be married when everything changed.  He had to get over the hurts of the past to make a life for his future.  Is he going to stay with the Amish or move back to the English world?  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens for yourself.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I have.  I was happy with the final outcome of the book and I really liked to watch the changes in Will.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Christmas Wish Book Review

I was excited to see this in the the library program where I picked out a wrapped book.  I unwrapped The Christmas Wish by Richard M. Siddoway which was a book that I had never heard about but there was a note that said that it was also a movie.  I figured that it must have been a good book if they turned it into a movie so I am not hoping to find the movie and other books by this author.

At the age of four, Will Martin lost his parents and went to live with his grandparents. The warm memories of life in a small town and the old-fashioned Christmas holidays he and his grandparents shared sustain him still as a young man making his way in the world.

Years later, Will takes a leave of absence from his job in New York City to return home after his grandfather's death to help run the family real estate business. There he discovers something about his grandfather's past that shatters him and the memories of the life he so loved. At dinner one evening, his grandmother tells Will that she has been reading her husband's journals and learned that every Christmas Eve, when she and Will were out doing their traditional last-minute shopping, her husband was seeing a woman named Lillian. This year, his grandmother's Christmas wish is for Will to find out who Lillian is and why Will's grandfather, a seemingly devoted husband, saw Lillian every year for more than twenty-seven years and never mentioned her name.

As Will struggles to salvage the family business and learn the truth about Lillian, he approaches a revelation that teaches him a lesson in the power of kindness, forgiveness, and love to uplift an entire community and touch each life within it. With an inspiring message wrapped in an irresistible mystery, this heartwarming Christmas tale will be cherished as a wonderful gift of the season by anyone who appreciates the magic of yuletide classics old and new.

Will was the main character of this book and he worked his life to get a very high position on Wall Street but then his grandfather died so he went home to be with his grandmother and take care of his grandfathers business.  Will's life changes when he goes back to this small town that he grew up in but he not only learns more about himself but more about his grandfather.  I thought it was a heartwarming holiday tale that could be read all year round.  This was a great book if you can find a copy of it because it seems to be unavailable on Amazon or at least a little harder to find.  Check your local library and see if they have it because I think that you will really enjoy the story and the great writing.  I am going to be looking for other books by this author for sure!!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Last Chance Christmas Book Review

I got another book from the library with the wrapped Christmas books.  Last Chance Christmas (Last Chance, Book 4) by Hope Ramsay was the next book in my pile after it was unwrapped and I was excited to try a new author that I wouldn't have read otherwise.  It was a super good idea that the library came up with and both my son and I enjoyed it!!

Dear Reader,
I've been wishing for a miracle for my oldest boy, Stone, and this Christmas my prayers might just be answered!

Her name is Lark, and she's here in Last Chance, looking into her father's past-and stirring up a whole mess of trouble without meaning to. As the chief of police, Stone sure has his hands full trying to keep up with her. Ever since his wife died, Stone's put everything into raising his daughters and dodging the Christ Church Ladies' Auxiliary matchmakers. And it's clear Lark has been through some trouble and could use a place to finally call home. I only hope Stone can let go of the past soon enough to keep her . . . Goodness, I need to stop talking and finish up Jane's highlights so we can make the town tree-lighting. You come back by because the Cut 'n' Curl's got hot rollers, free coffee, fresh-baked Christmas cookies-and the best gossip in town.

See you real soon,
Ruby Rhodes

Last Chance is the name of a small town where Lark is sent with her fathers final wishes of spreading his ashes on the 18th green of the mini golf course.  What happens from there is a funny trip for Lark while she has to have medical care in a town that doesn't have a hospital so she is watched by the group of ladies in the town.  Lark meets everyone in the town including the chief of police, Stone, and his daughters.  Stone is dealing with the guilt of the death of his wife and not doing the best with moving on with his life while still wearing his wedding ring.  Lark is dealing with his own demons with her job as a photo journalist and the recent trauma that she has gone through.  Lark was having trouble taking pictures now because of all the horrible things that she had seen through her camera lens.  Both Stone and Lark are dealing with growing and getting better through their relationship together.  I thought that this was such a fun book that I put the first three books in the series on hold at the library so I hope to read them soon.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did!! And check out some of the other books in the series too!!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 1/7

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Tuesday- Ground Beef Tacos
Wednesday- Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken with mac and cheese
Thursday- Pasta for my son and something else for us
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- Chicken and Rice
Sunday- Pasta

Last week was actually pretty easy to make it through even though there were a few upheavals like two more snow days so I had my son with me for two days instead of getting through my to do list so I am working to try to catch up but we have another snow day today.  On Monday last week we had my son's favorite dinner with the last of a batch of potatoes so there was lots of peeling because they were really small but luckily I refilled the potatoes with two other bags of potatoes that I already had.  We did Philly Cheese Steak Pasta on Tuesday which was really nice because it was super fast to make.  We did chicken tacos on Wednesday which was tasty and used up some more of the remaining lettuce in the fridge.  We were off Thursday so we ended up eating a frozen pizza for a late lunch so dinner was pasta for my son and leftovers for us because we were still full.  We did leftover Friday night night and cleaned out the fridge which meant that we ran the dishwasher a lot last week.  On Saturday, I made meatball sliders, cheesy gnocchi and toasted ravioli which was really tasty and easy to throw together even though I was all over the kitchen finishing the meal and expandable because my dad was in town.  Sunday was Rosemary Chicken and potatoes because we hadn't had it in a long time and it let me make it for an extra person.  We enjoyed a tasty week even though I still don't have the rest of the plan ready.

I am hoping that this was a good plan and that this week goes well.  Even though I am not sure exactly how the meals will work out, we are looking to have a tasty week even if I change the meals around a little.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Reading Review for December

I hit my first goal of the year which is 100 books but I was striving for my second goal of 150 books even though I knew that I was going a little slow.  I knew starting the month that I had a few books to read to get to my goal of 150 books for the year and this was the last month to do it.  The bad part was that I didn't track the books or put extra time into reading because there really is the time in the day that is available with the busy holidays.  I went through the month as normal as possible and picking up a lot of books from the new release section in the library as well as a few reviews that I had to get done for the month.

Below are the books that I read for the month and if you click on the title of the book, you will find the original post which includes the summary and review of the book.

by Phyllis Clark Nichols
by Barbara Cameron

by Susan Mallery

by Alexander McCall Smith

Merry and Bright
by Debbie Macomber

Undeniably Yours
by Becky Wade

Meant to Be Mine
by Becky Wade

The Lopsided Christmas Cake
by Wanda and Jean Brunstetter

A Knight Bridge Christmas
by Carla Neggers

Christmas in Harmony
by Phillip Gulley

Total Books Read for 2017

January    8
February  15
March     17
April      13
May        10
June         10
July          15
August       17
September  13
October      8
November  11
December 11

Total Books Read    148

Just a little shy of my 150 goal but that is a great number with the busy schedule that I had going and a new year is starting over again with new books!!!

Currently Reading:

Last Chance Christmas
by Hope Ramsay

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 1/1 Happy New Year

Monday- Chicken fries, Buffalo Chicken with homemade fries
Tuesday- Philly Cheesesteak Pasta
Wednesday- Chicken Tacos
Thursday- Pasta
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday- ??
Sunday- ??

Last week was crazy!!  Monday was Christmas Dinner so we had Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls and stuffing with pie and so much more. Since we had that we ended up with leftovers Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  I was so done with leftovers by Friday that we had Barber Chicken with white rice.  Saturday we ended up with Pancakes and Sausage by like 6:30 or 7 pm because we had a late lunch of pizza that my in-laws .  By Sunday I was exhausted with no plans and we didn't get home until 5 pm but it was New Years so we went with finger food and a movie.  We each got our favorites including chicken fries, toasted ravioli, fried cheese sticks, and tater tots to enjoy with other snacks.

I just realized that I didn't post this on Monday when I thought I did so I am posting it now.  I haven't completed the monthly menu plan because I wasn't sure what we were going to have because I didn't know when everything was happening.  I think that I nailed down a few small things and we are all set for the monthly menu plan to get set!!  Maybe I will get it done today or tomorrow :) 

I hope that you have a tasty week!!

Christmas in Harmony Book Review

I got another book from the wrapped book section in the library which was this book.  Christmas in Harmony (A Harmony Novel) by Philip Gully had a beautiful cover and looked like a perfect Christmas small town setting that seemed interesting.  I had not read anything by this author and knew nothing about the book.  It had one other main thing going for it, it was a short book and I was trying to get to 150 books by the end of the year.  I still had three more books to read so I knew that it needed to be short to get closer to my goal.    I had two other long books which weren't getting read because they were also too heavy to carry with me everywhere I was going.

Philip Gulley takes us to Harmony, Indiana, at Christmastime as inspiration strikes the inimitable Dale Hinshaw. Always looking for a way to increase the church's profit margins, Hinshaw brainstorms a progressive nativity scene that will involve the whole town, complete with a map like those for the Hollywood stars. Neither Pastor Sam Gardner nor the other members of the Harmony Friends meeting express any enthusiasm for this idea, but Dale is unstoppable. Meanwhile, Pastor Sam has his own concerns: he's having his annual argument with his wife, and he's worried that the four-slotted toaster he bought for her may be too lavish a gift.  Amidst the bustle of the season, the citizens of Harmony experience the simple joys and sometime loneliness that often go unseen. Sam comes to the realization that Dale, in his own misguided way, is only trying to draw meaning from the eternal story of Christmas. "In this unsettled world, it is good to have this steadiness -- the Christmas Eve service, the peal of the bell. . . .There is a holiness to memory, a sense of God's presence in these mangers of the mind. Which might explain why it is that the occasions that change the least are often the very occasions that change us the most."

I read through this book in two quick sittings and was amazed at how much was fit into the short book.  There was whitty writing and great characters that made you fee like you grew up in this small town.  Without reading any other books in the series, I feel like I know this small and busy town of Harmony.  It is funny to see all the Christmas traditions and how they are so ingrained into the people of the town.  Changing the traditions for one year might be tough but it is the only thing that Dale Hinshaw wants to do as one of the outspoken church elders, he gets his way.  The Christmas eve service is then turned into a progressive nativity scene where people need to travel from house to house with a map and it is a funny thing to read for sure.  If you want to read about the funny town and great character then you should pick up this quick read.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

End of December Budget Update

I worked really hard at the end of the year to grab the best deals to stock up on everything and stay under budget.  I got as many deals that I could find and I think that I did a pretty amazing job this month and the whole year even though I have a few months over budget...okay 6 months over budget.  The great thing is that I worked really hard on the other months to stay under budget so I ended up having a monthly average way under my $160 per month.  I know that it is a tight budget that isn't always able to be achieved if I don't put in a lot of effort so I am glad that I had a chance to do that this year.

Check out the things that I got for my monthly budget below with totals and pictures of everything that I got.  The deals from the first half of the month are described here if you want to see more about how I got to the total spent on each transaction.  The second half of the month deals are listed with more details since this is my first time posting them.  I hope that this shows you that you can make ends meet with lots from the store but with very little money with just a little bit of effort.

Harris Teeter $6.30

Harris Teeter $1.31

Harris Teeter $4.31

Harris Teeter $0.44

Aldi $23.53

Harris Teeter $6.52

Harris Teeter $6.20 + 2.28= $8.48

Wegman's $17.66

Wegman's $2.03

Wegman's $2.03

Aldi $4.28

Harris Teeter $0.09

Harris Teeter $0.06

Harris Teeter $0.12

Harris Teeter $0.06

Harris Teeter $0.06

Harris Teeter $0.06


Wegman's $2.03

Wegman's $2.09

Wegman's $2.09 

Aldi $26.07

I went because I had my coupon for $5 off $30 purchase at the new Merrifield store so I grabbed a few things so that I could use the coupon.  I was excited to find the Molasses because it is seasonal and I missed getting a lot last year.  I used most of what I had to make brown sugar so that I didn't have to buy it.  It is really easy and means that I only have to worry about buying sugar.  I grabbed a few other things to get to the total and I was happy to save even more at Aldi then I normally do.

Harris Teeter $9.32

There was a weekend deal on soda so I grabbed two for $1.99 each.  The sugar was on special and I used a coupon to make it $.  The yogurt smoothie was on sale for $3 and I used a $1 coupon and turned it in for $3.79 Ibotta rebate.  There was a clearance sticker on the chicken so I used a coupon and it made it $1.50 and I turned it in for rebate on Ibotta for $1.50.

Aldi $1.81

We were out of milk so I went to the store in Fairfax because they are way cheaper then the store in Merrifield.  They were both cheaper then the price of the milk in Merrifield so I was happy I waited and grabbed some extra eggs.

Harris Teeter $0.06

I went to the store to get my freebies including the Sargento Breaks and the Wilton Sprinkles.  I had coupons that made the yeast and the cake mix free.  I paid the tax with my change.

Wegman's $2.03

Wegman's $2.03

Wegman's $3.85

I had the green after Christmas plates in my mind but couldn't find any at the day after Christmas sales. I am super excited to say that I found a 24 pack at Wegman's which will be used for my son's Minecraft birthday party! Also got two more flour for my last stock up.

Total Retail $585.24
Total Savings $456.52
Total OOP $128.72

I was happy with how the month was going and all the deals that I was getting.  I knew that cupboards and freezers had a lot of food left in them so I was ready for January and should be able to come up with a plan based on what is already in the house...of course, that plan hasn't happened yet but hopefully soon.  Lots of chicken, ground beef and a whole turkey still in there to make!

I have 90 rolls of toilet paper and at least 20 boxes of tissues although I haven't counted (with plenty of paper towels in backup).  Lots of different cleaning supplies including Windex, Finish Dishwasher detergent, and more although totally out of laundry soap and might need a few more Dawn detergent. 

 Super excited to say that I have 22 flour 5 lb bags so I should be set for the year until the next years stock up sale.  I only have 5 bags of sugar so that won't last too long but I will hope for a few sales through the year to keep the sugar supply up because I can usually find coupons.  I am well stocked with baking supplies except corn meal so I hope that I can make lots of homemade treats.

How did you do for the month??  How about the year?  Feeling ready to make a plan for next year's budget!!  I hope that you are saving lots and getting lots too!