Friday, November 30, 2018

End of November Grocery Spending and Eating Out Summary

I maintain a monthly budget of $160 for groceries and $40 for eating out to keep my total spending under $200.  I work to shop sales, use coupons and any deal to get the most groceries under my budget.  I have a lot of thing in my pantry, fridge and freezer so I am trying to make a dent in those items and not spend as much time in the grocery store this month.  I normally use the majority of the November budget for two turkeys but I already had one in the freezer so I only got one and my spending was pretty low this month.

Below are the pictures and descriptions of everything that I got with my budget this month.  The purchases at the beginning of the month are broken down here but all the pictures are shown below.

Aldi $3.32

Aldi $18.16

Shoppers $0.10

Giant $32.40

Shoppers $0

My son was in charge of picking out his special treat and paying for it and it ended up free without any tax.  He was pretty excited and the lady at the register was excited for him too!!

Aldi $4.08

I needed potatoes and I knew that they were going to be going on sale with the holidays so I asked my husband to stop and get 30 pounds because it was so heavy and my shoulder was killing me.  He got three bags and one of them had a gross potato that was yucky so I had to go back and return it and get a new one so I got $2.04 back and a free bag.  Of course, I told my husband to check each bag which he said he did but I was happy with my 30 pounds of potatoes for $4!!!

Aldi $10.81

My husband and son went to Aldi in Manassas because there were out there watching a friend play in a soccer game.  There are much cheaper prices out there but I totally forgot what I needed so they grabbed a bunch of things that we will totally use.  We were out of tortilla chips and almost out of corn shells.  The tub margarine is $1.39 close to the house and $0.85 out there so $2.70 savings with that stockup.  The Nacho chips were $0.75 so my husband grabbed those and my son told him that he wasn't allowed unless he called me to ask.  I think that was the answer my son got when he asked but it made me laugh still!!

Aldi $5.20

I went back to the store again and returned the  potatoes and got the ice cream that was requested and celery because it was on sale for $0.99 which is way cheaper then it has been.  I used all of the remaining one to make stuffing so it will come in handy for fried rice and more.

Harris Teeter $30.40

I went to the store the day before Thanksgiving.  I missed the sales for the week and it was the last day so I was a little surprised that it was like Black Friday in the busiest mall because I don't normally head to the store then.  I had to wait for another car to pull out to get a spot.  They were out of one of the sodas that I wanted but grabbed lots more of everything including the baking soda that was $0.19 each.  I was trying to put all the sodas back into the cart and packing the bags with cranberry juice but I guess the coupon didn't scan.  The cashier lady said this doubles to $1 right and I said yes.  She said how many did you get 4 and I said yes and then she put the credit on and I didn't pay attention but she gave me $4 instead of $2.  My distraction was easily seen because I left my cell phone on the thing by the cashier and the guy behind me in line had to point and tell me.  I am obviously not cut out for holiday grocery shopping!!

Aldi $3.57

I went to the store to return the turkey that we had because my husband said that it was gross and the expiration was December 24th so I brought it back and got a free replacement.  The money was then put back towards my grocery total so I didn't have to pay as much.  They have been out of Extra Sharp Cheddar so I got another block of Sharp Cheddar cheese just in case we need it because we are out of cheese.

Giant $0.10
I went to get my freebie yogurt that was loaded on my card.  They were out of the flavor that I wanted so I was thinking that I was going to head to another store but I asked and they went into the back and found it for me.  I got the Cheerios free after printable coupon and there was an additional electronic coupon that gave me $1 overage so I got a box of cake mix to make my son's birthday cupcakes.  He really likes store bought cupcakes so I try to make them for his birthday since I make everything from scratch the rest of the year.  So sad that those are his favorite!!

Shoppers $0

I got to save my freebie on Friday and got to get it today before it expired.  I figure that we will save it for a party but great for free.

Total Retail $252.07
Total Savings $143.93
Total OOP $108.14

I wasn't feeling really well this month so I didn't get to the store to get a lot of deals.  I had plenty of food in the house to work through and still came in way below budget.  We currently have a very full fridge and freezer which I am trying to work my way through things before getting more but hoping to finish lots of things before getting more deals.  Frozen food month is in March so I try, usually without a lot of luck, to empty the fridge before there are more sales.

Eating Out

We took a family trip at the beginning of the month and we bought pizza at Pizza Hut for $22.40.  We were running errands and stopped at Panera to get some treats for all of ours.  I had a gift card which paid for all of it.  We went to Pizza Hut again (my son's favorite new place) and spent $10.60.  Total spent was $33.  We only had $7 left for the month for eating out. My parents came and took us out to my son's favorite restaurant and then bought Chinese the next day.  I feel like we ate out too much this month but that might have just been me!!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Wells Landing Christmas Book Review

I made a trip to the library and this was in the pile of Christmas books.  A Wells Landing Christmas (A Wells Landing Romance) by Amy Lillard was the one that I was most excited by.  I have read all the books on the shelf and this was one of the last on the shelf.  I was excited to read this since I enjoyed the others in the series.

As the most joyous of seasons comes to the Amish community of Wells Landing, Oklahoma, one young woman gets a chance to start again—and rediscover the gift of true love . . .

Families rejoicing together, caroling parties full of cheer, and church get-togethers brimming with delicious cooking and warm fellowship. Ivy Weaver would give anything to be a part of Christmas in Wells Landing. But one reckless mistake made her an outsider, and it's all she can do now to tend to her ailing grandfather and make a living. She sure doesn't need Zeb Brenneman returning to help after he abandoned her for no reason. He's working hard to make amends, but Ivy isn't sure there's enough faith—or still-sparking love between them—to stir her forgiveness . . .

Zeb knows leaving Ivy was the biggest mistake he's ever made. Even though she won't hear him out, he's determined to prove he's become the trustworthy, steadfast man she truly deserves. But bright new chances and surprising revelations will give him and Ivy choices they never imagined. And finding their way back to each other will be the most
challenging—and precious—Christmas gift of all . . .

Ivy Weaver is living at her family home and caring for her grandfather.  She has alienated herself from the rest of the community so she has no friends or family to help her.  She is working two jobs to take care of her grandfather because he is starting to forget things.  He has been found by a neighbor in their fields and he was a little confused on when it was.  Ivy is trying to do the best that she can and Zeb showed up.  Zeb was her love from before who left when they went through tough times.  You have to find out what happened before and what happens next.  It is heartwarming to watch the community and more coming out to help the people through the holidays.  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the Wells Landing series.  I know that you will enjoy it as much as I have.  This book was especially filled with holiday cheer.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Perfect Present Book Review

It is the beginning of Christmas book and movies season for me.  I am not much into the Christmas music but I love the books and movies.  The Perfect Present by Rochelle Alers was on the shelf when I went to the library.  I grabbed a whole section of books so I would get to read lots of Christmas books until the holiday.  It is another anthology of books put together.

When Navy SEAL Captain Noah Crawford and elementary school teacher Sierra Nelson meet on a plane headed east from San Diego, they’re glad to pass the time in friendly conversation. But when a freak storm grounds them, Sierra offers Noah a place to spend the night—with her extended family, all of whom assume they’re a couple. And as the holiday spirit infuses every moment they spend together, they both begin to wonder if a relationship is a special gift they didn’t expect . . .

Kayla Matthews isn’t looking forward to heading home this Christmas. Divorced and struggling, nothing has turned out the way she expected—including her childhood friend, DeShawn Carter. Now the high school principal, he’s also the kind of man she’s always dreamed about. But before the holidays are over, Kayla has a chance to reclaim everything she once thought she wanted—or prove to DeShawn that they have a second chance worth celebrating . . .

Celebrity stylist Maya Malone can’t find anything joyous about the season, not since her ex-fiancĂ© left her on Christmas Eve. But one look at suave, sexy sports agent Marc Cunningham is almost enough to change her mind. Their instant attraction feels like the best sort of present, except for one very large obstacle—Maya’s NFL star big brother, Marc’s new client. It will take more than holiday spirit to convince everyone involved that Marc and Maya’s connection will make the angels sing . . .

The first book was A Christmas Layover which was about Noah Crawford and Sierra Nelson get on to a plane together.  They hit it off right away and talk for the whole flight.  When they land, Noah's plane is delayed so Sierra offers to bring him home with her.  Her family makes the assumption that they are in a relationship.  It is great to see how the pretending turns out.  The second book was Christmas Lesson with Kayla Matthews going home after getting divorced to rebuild her life.  She sees her friend DeShawn Carter.  They work on become friends again but you have to pick up the book to find out what happens between them.  The last book is Christmas With You where Maya Malone works on bringing back the Christmas spirit that she lost when her ex-finance left her.  She meets Marc who they quickly bond and start dating until they realize that Marc is Maya's brothers sports agent.  Maya's brother is very over protective and doesn't want her anyway near his little sister.  It is hard to keep them apart so you need to read it to see what happens.  She I hope that you enjoy this book with all the different stories included.  It is a collection of great stories that make the holidays come alive.  On to the next Christmas book!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Navy Grooms: Navy Brat and Navy Woman Book Review

I got this book and it was the second anthology in the series.  Navy Grooms: An Anthology by Debbie Macomber was made up of Navy Brat and Navy Woman.    I was excited to read the third and four book in this great series to find out what what happening next.  It was another fast read that was hard to put down.

Navy Brat

Erin MacNamera has one rule: never fall for a navy man. But from the pulse-stopping moment her eyes meet Lieutenant Brandon Davis’s across a crowded lounge, Erin knows life will never be the same. Sexy, tender and strong, Brandon is all she’d ever dreamed of in a man, but he’s also navy—and as a navy brat from way back, she knows better than to give her heart to a seafaring man.

Navy Woman

Busy attorney Catherine Fredrickson loves her job at a submarine base, but her new boss, Royce Nyland, has her spirits sinking fast. The icy single dad is distant, demanding…and incredibly attractive. And though he initially keeps her at arm’s length, together they brew a stormy passion that is impossible to deny. Though the laws of the sea deem naval fraternizing strictly taboo, how long can they resist romance?

The first book was Navy Brat which had Erin MacNamera who grew up in the Navy and didn't want to ever live that life again.  Erin bought a house and tried to set down roots.  She meets Brandon Davis in a bar and they quickly hit it off until she learns that he is Navy.  She doesn't want to get involved with him but they are drawn to each other.  It is interesting to watch the journey between these two and you have to read to find out.  The second book was Navy Woman which was Catherine Fredickson who works on the Navy base and has a new boss Royce Nyland who drives her crazy.  She thinks that he is picking on her by putting her on Friday night shifts and assigning her to an additional responsibility.  It turns out that he keeps picking her because she is always on his mind.  They quickly learn this and it is against Navy rules to have a relationship.  Make sure that you pick this one up to find out what happens because I promise you will enjoy the process.  I hope that you enjoy this as much as I did!!  It was the second book in the series but third and forth book.  It was nice to get to read them and I look forward to the library getting the next book in the series.  It isn't there yet so I have to be patient and remember to keep an eye out.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 11/26

Chicken Fries, Chicken Wraps with homemade french fries and tater tots
Pasta with zuchini
Pork Chops with mac and cheese
Grilled Chicken with white rice
Paninis and Soup

Last week was a little different with the holiday in the middle.  We had family from out of town.  We had my son's favorite meal on Monday.  Tuesday was Ground Chicken Tacos.  Wednesday we had lasagna which I pulled out of the freezer.  Thursday was Thanksgiving dinner with tons of food.  We have turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, sausage stuffing, butternut squash and apples, and two pies.  Friday we had Olive Oil Pasta with zucchini.  Saturday we went out to lunch with my parents so we were stuffed after that and did leftover for dinner.  Sunday was another day with way too much in the fridge so we decided to eat the things that we had at home until my mom declared it was Chinese food time.  I have so much in the fridge that we might be eating leftovers for days.  I have to go through and see what needs to be frozen so that I can clear out my fridge.

Here is hoping that I can get enough time to plan out next month's calendar since it is almost December already!!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Navy Brides: Navy Wife and Navy Blues Books Review

I was excited to see new books on the shelf but I realized that it was because it was too old books put into one.  It was still good because I got a chance to read them both.  Navy Brides: An Anthology by Debbie Macomber was both the Navy Wife and the Navy Blues.  I was excited to read this series and follow another great series from this author.

Navy Wife

Lindy Kyle flees to Seattle to weather a broken heart, but is unprepared for a roommate like Rush Callaghan. Strong, sensitive and sexy, the temporarily dry-docked naval officer is everything she’s ever dreamed of in a man…and in a husband. Though they are swept away on a tide of passion, Rush holds duty to his country above all else. When he has to return to service, does Lindy have the courage to be his wife?

Navy Blues

Despite her ex-husband’s stubbornness, Carol knows Lieutenant Commander Steve Kyle would be the perfect man to father the child she so desperately wants. She also realizes that the strong, honorable man will never allow his child to be raised without him. So Carol needs to seduce Steve into her bed one last time… Passion together was never the problem—it was the absences that tore them apart. Have they grown enough to risk trying again, especially when Carol’s plan seems about to work?

The first book was Navy Wife where Lindy decides that she needs to leave her life after having a broken relationship and moves to her brothers empty apartment after he ships out with the Navy.  It was funny to watch Rush show back up to the apartment and assume that she was taking advantage of Steve instead of being his sister. There is a lot of interesting ups and downs in this story which make for an interesting story.  The second book was Navy Blues where Carol is dealing with being alone at the holidays and wanting a baby.  She decides to try to get that from her ex-husband, Steve.  It is another story of interesting twists and turns that makes you rooting for what needs to happen.  I hope that you check out this new anthology of old stories that are no longer available.  I enjoyed them and went quickly on to the next.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

When We Found Home Book Review

I had another book appearing on my reserve shelf so things were a little crazy with the amount of library books that I had checked out.  When We Found Home by Susan Mallery was a book that I was interested in getting started with but I was in the middle of another book when I got it.  I knew that I had to get reading but this was a little close to return date when I started.  I went to the library to ask if she could give me one extra day since I couldn't renew because there were 31 other people waiting for the book.  Silly me!!  I was there a day early so I actually finished and returned when it was originally due even though I got extra time. 

Life is meant to be savored, but that’s not easy with no family, limited prospects and a past you’d rather not talk about.

Callie Smith doesn’t know how to feel when she discovers she has a brother and a sister—Malcolm, who grew up with affection, wealth and privilege, and Keira, a streetwise twelve-year-old. Despite her trepidation, she moves into the grand family home with her siblings and grandfather on the shores of Lake Washington, hoping just maybe this will be the start of a whole new life.

But starting over can be messy. Callie and Keira fit in with each other, but not with their posh new lifestyle, leaving Malcolm feeling like the odd man out in his own home. Becoming a family will take patience, humor, a little bit of wine and a whole lot of love. But love isn’t Malcolm’s strong suit…until he learns that an open heart, like the family table, can always make room for more.

This book was about three half siblings that were trying to find their way in life when they find out about their new family.  It is great to follow each of them and see how they become family through the book.  Malcolm was the first sibling to join the family with his grandfather when his mother brought him there as a child before she died.  He took over responsibility of the family business with mail order gourmet food.  Then his grandfather found Keira who was only 12 years old and living in foster care.  He brought her out of the life that she was living and gave her hope of a new life.  It was a rough transition to the new school and new home that was much larger then she was used to.  She went through a lot of hard times and then her grandfather found another sibling and Callie moved in.  Callie was in prison and got out and had a hard time getting employment with her criminal history for a childhood mistake.  Callie moves into the large house with the rest of the family and goes to work starting in the factory.  The family bond that develops and the support that they give each other is amazing.  I hope that you check out this book too!!  I really enjoyed it and once I got into it, it was super hard to put down.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 11/19

Chicken Fries, Chicken Wraps and Homemade French Fries
Thanksgiving Turkey and fixings
Eating Out or Take Out

We got Monday's dinner made and eaten and then Tuesday even though we were under construction and everything was kind of a mess.  We lost our dinning room table because everything from the front of the house ended up piled on top of it so my son decided it was the perfect opportunity to eat in front of the tv like we do on family movie night.  He set up the TV tray and was ready to go.  I might have forgotten what day it was quickly because of the construction stress so I forgot to stuff folders at school on Tuesday and had to rush up there on Wednesday (oops!) and also forgot to take out food from the freezer.  I went with leftovers Wednesday which was Buffalo Chicken pasta, Chinese Fried Rice,  Pepperoni Roll with puff pastry, Pancakes and a few other heated up leftovers from the fridge.  Thursday was taco night finally and my son decided to have some white rice.  Friday night was Grilled Chicken Night which we decided to do with simple fried rice with peas and my son had pasta instead.  Saturday was leftovers again after eating Pizza Hut for lunch.  Sunday was Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken and Chicken Fries with Mac and Cheese before I had to go to work which was the last meal for the week.  There is never enough time on Sunday to get dinner made and eat before leaving but I try to get an easy meal on the table or I am starving at work but my timer went off when I finished.

I can't believe how quickly this month has gone and that we are already on Thanksgiving week.  I made a lasagna ahead so that we had that ready to go from the freezer.  The turkey is also thawing in the fridge too.  I am hoping that all these easy meals make it a low stress week with family visiting.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Middle of the Month November Shopping Update

I maintain a monthly budget for our family of three for groceries and eating out of $200.  I use $160 for groceries and $40 for eating out.  I work hard to shop sales and use coupons to stretch the budget as far as possible. Shopping at the lowest possible prices mean that the items in my pantry, fridge and freezer afford me many months that I am not running to the store to get lots through the month.  This was one of those months where I didn't need to go to the store.

I normally set aside November budget to buy whatever I have to get two turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Sometimes it requires a $40 or $50 purchase at a store that I don't normally shop at which has me getting more then I think is necessary because I don't know if it is going to be pre-sale or post-sale price or with or without coupons.  This time there were sales for turkeys at two stores for $0.39 per pound with only a $25 purchase.  I already had one turkey in the freezer for Thanksgiving so I was trying to decide on whether to get another turkey or eat something different for Christmas like steaks.  My mom said get a turkey so I did!!

Below are the items that I got and what I spent at each store with a break down of what the different items cost.

Aldi $3.32

I went to the store to return a bag of Honey Crisp Apples that I got.  I got another bag and half of those were bad too.  It is tough to go out of your way to get apples when none of them look decent and it is hard to see into the bag.  I thought about returning the second bag but it seemed pointless.  I threw the second bag in the fridge so that I could cut out the good parts and make them into bread.  I grabbed turkey lunch meat, tub margarine and stick margarine because we were running low on both of them.

Aldi $18.16

We were totally out of cheese, milk and lettuce.  I got the chicken fries and turkey lunch meat just in case because I wasn't sure what we had at home.  I wasn't planning on getting this much but they changed the packaging on the chicken fries so I was a little worried that the product changed too which will be a tough fight with my son since these are the only chicken product that he likes.

Shoppers $0.10

I went to get the freebie that was tasty broth for free especially since I haven't made it for the last few weeks.

Giant $32.40

I was looking at all the deals to get the best price on a turkey.  I know that it is only turkey season to get them cheap so I made a plan to get it on sale.  Giant had Heinz ketchup on sale for $1.88 which we just ran out of.  Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice was $1.88 (limit 4) which I had one printed coupon and one electronic coupon come off.  I also picked up cranberry sauce for my husband (leftovers to be used in some yummy salad dressing).  They had a deal for free pasta which they were continually out of so the manager substituted another one.  I had enough in my cart to get my turkey for $8.27 instead of $31.60 which is almost what I paid for all the groceries instead.

Total Retail $107.85
Total Savings $53.87
Total OOP $53.98

I hope that you are having a good month and have lots more deals to get this month.

Eating Out

We took a family trip at the beginning of the month and we bought pizza at Pizza Hut for $22.40.  We were running errands and stopped at Panera to get some treats for all of ours.  I had a gift card which paid for all of it.  That leaves us $17.60 for the rest of the month.  I also have gift cards so we are hoping to use those for some more special treats this month.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Looking For a Hero Book Review

I went through the new release shelf while I was visiting the library and picked up a bunch of soft cover books since all the books that I had were these super heavy hard back ones.  Looking for a Hero: An Anthology by Debbie Macomber was one that jumped out at me because I had not read it before and love the author.  I was excited to get to read it.


As far as Nash Davenport’s concerned, marriage isn’t shelter from the storm—it is the storm. He’s a divorce attorney, himself divorced, who believes no married couple can live up to their wedding vows. Savannah Charles, however, believes in the value—and the values—of marriage. She’s a wedding planner who finds herself saying yes when Nash unexpectedly proposes. Even though it’s strictly a business proposal…


Would-be romance writer Bailey York has already failed twice at love. She thinks men are wonderful to read and write about, but that’s it. Which is probably why she has such difficulty creating a hero for her novel. What she needs is a real-life example. She finds one in Parker Davidson—he’s everything a hero should be. Compellingly attractive. Forceful and determined, yet capable of tenderness. A man of substance. Parker is perfect as Bailey’s inspiration—but he wants to be the hero in her life, not just in her book!

I  didn't even sneak a peak at this book when I checked it out so I didn't have a clue about it.  I was interested to see that it was actually two books put together into one book.  The first story was about Savannah who runs the local bridal shop and plans weddings for a living.  I have read other books in this series so I remember this character so it was great to see her more.  It was interesting to see how she won over Nash who was against weddings after his first failed marriage and broken heart.  Savannah is working with Nash's sister to plan her wedding on a budget when Nash decides to chip in to help make her dreams come true.  You won't believe what happens in this book and what deal they come to after the wedding.

The second book was Bailey York who is trying to become a romance writer but her male lead character falling short on her expectations.  She made him too tough and then too soft so no one is believing the story.  She makes a discovery on the train of her perfect leading man after he hits her on the head with his umbrella.  She makes her friend follow him off the train and into his building to find out what his name is.  Parker works as an architect and Bailey decides that he is going to be the perfect lead character in her book but not before she gets into trouble following him around and getting caught.  In order to not have the police called, she tells him the whole story of writing the book and needing more information so they quickly have plans to meet and discuss things after Parker finally believes that she is telling the truth. It was a funny and light hearted book that had great characters. 

I hope that you check out this book with the two books inside to read these uplifting stories.  I hope that you enjoy them as much as I have.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Every Time You Go Away Book Review

I got this book on my reserve shelf and I had no clue what it was about and I didn't think that I had read the author before.  Every Time You Go Away: A Novel by Beth Harbison was a new release that was on my shelf so I knew that I must have picked it out from the new releases.  I couldn't wait to find out why.


In New York Times bestselling author Beth Harbison's most emotional novel ever, a fractured family must come together at a beach house haunted by the past.  Willa has never fully recovered from the sudden death of her husband, Ben. She became an absent mother to her young son, Jamie, unable to comfort him while reeling from her own grief.  Now, years after Ben’s death, Willa finally decides to return to the beach house where he passed. It’s time to move on and put the Ocean City, Maryland house on the market. When Willa arrives, the house is in worse shape than she could have imagined, and the memories of her time with Ben are overwhelming. They met at this house and she sees him around every corner. Literally. Ben’s ghost keeps reappearing, trying to start conversations with Willa. And she can’t help talking back.  To protect her sanity, Willa enlists Jamie, her best friend Kristin, and Kristin’s daughter Kelsey to join her for one last summer at the beach. As they explore their old haunts, buried feelings come to the surface, Jamie and Kelsey rekindle their childhood friendship, and Willa searches for the chance to finally say goodbye to her husband and to reconnect with her son.  Every Time You Go Away is a heartfelt, emotional story about healing a tragic loss, letting go, and coming together as a family.

I am not sure what had me reserve this book to begin with but it was a great story with great writing. The book was really sad but also happy.  I was reaching for the tissues more then once and it was a rough book to finish at the car dealership waiting for them to look at my car.  Willa was dealing with the death of her husband and after three years finally goes to their beach house where he died alone.  She is ready to fix up the house and sell it so that she doesn't have to deal with the memories but encounters her husband, Ben's ghost at the house.  She spends time yelling and talking to get more insight into why she misses him and why he can't just come back to be with her.  She is dealing with a lot and he helps her embrace the good memories of the past and let go of the pain.  He helps her love the beach again with all the memories of how they met and times that they shared there fixing up the house together.  Her son joins her in the house and then her neighbor and her daughter.  After fixing everything and getting it ready to sell, she decides that she can't part with the memories.  It was heart wrenching but amazing read.  I highly recommend that you check it out and see for yourself.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Endless Chain Book Review

I was excited to read the first book in this series and was ready for the rest.  I reserved them all at the library.  I continued when the second book came in.  Endless Chain (A Shenandoah Album Novel) by Emilie Richards was the second book in the series.  I couldn't wait to find out what happened after the first book.

With the warmth and comfort of a handmade quilt, Endless Chain explores the intricate patterns of family and community, and the threads that bind them together

Sam Kinkade is finally feeling at home as a minister in rural Toms Brook, Virginia, content with his life and Shenandoah Valley congregation. But his plans to welcome the area's growing Hispanic community are being met with resistance. Fortunately, when the church-run community center is threatened, a stranger named Elisa Martinez walks through his door and Sam realizes he has found a woman capable of building bridges.

Elisa isn't looking to make connections. She has come to Toms Brook to hide. But despite her fears of discovery she is enchanted by the beautiful work and the friendship offered by the women who invite her to join their quilting circle. And even though she fears the consequences for both of them, she finds herself powerfully drawn to Sam, and to a generations-old love story rooted in the town's past.  Will she and Sam repeat the past, or can they find the love and the freedom they seek at last?

I thought that it was an amazing book.  Even though it was a really large book to carry around in its huge hard cover form, I was still bound and determined to finish it.  I dragged it with me to the doctor and every time I left the house.  I was amazed on how hard it was to put down.  Sam Kinkade is the minister for Toms Brook, Virginia church and he is working with the church to reach out to the growing Hispanic community with a church run community center.  Many in the church do not want it to happen and are vandalizing the church.  Elisa has come to the church to be the new sexton which makes her in charge of cleaning and fixing up the church.  She decides that she is also going to do the community center.  In addition, she is also working at the senior center as an aid at night.  In order to make ends meet she is working two jobs and living with a friend.  It is great to watching the relationship between Sam and Elisa grow and change.  You have to pick up the book to see for yourself.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 11/12

Chicken Fries, Chicken Wraps and Homemade French Fries
Grilled Chicken with white rice
Spicy Honey Mustard Chicken with mac and cheese

Last week was a little crazy but I got dinner on the table every night with just a few switches in the menu.  We went on a little vacation so Monday we were away but I made Spaghetti and Meatballs.  Tuesday we were home and I made my son's favorite dinner chicken fries, chicken nuggets and fries.  Wednesday we decided on Breakfast for Dinner with Pancakes.  Thursday we had taco chicken over white rice.  Friday was Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese before heading out to the basketball game.  Saturday was Philly Cheese Steak Pasta for us and Chicken Fries and French Fries for my son so that he would be super full and sleep a little longer (Fingers crossed).  Sunday was homemade pizza.  I got a headache on Friday and didn't make it to the store until Saturday so meals were all switched around to work with what we had left.

I took a quick stock of the freezer to see what we had left for the month to make sure that I actually finished the menu plan for the month.  We have tons of food to last us through the next few months but I am trying to make a dent in the amount of the food and attempt cleaning out the freezer.  I guess we will see if I can do that over the holidays.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Menu Plan Monday 11/5

Spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread
Chicken Fries and Chicken Wraps with homemade french fries
Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Homemade Pizza
Chicken Tacos over white rice
Philly Cheese Steak Pasta

Well another week that I don't get the menu plan up on Monday but we had a four day weekend so we left on vacation and I wasn't thinking anything about what I had to do while we were on our trip.  Last week we had leftovers on Monday.  We had quick sesame chicken over white rice Tuesday which was super tasty and super cheap and easy.  Wednesday was my son's favorite meal with chicken fries, chicken wraps with homemade french fries.  Thursday was pasta leftovers. Friday was Homemade Pizza.  Saturday was left as a question mark and the last day before leaving for vacation.  I literally made everything that I could from the leftovers in the fridge to clean it out more including buffalo mac and cheese, chopped salad and anything else to mix with anything else in the freezer.  Sunday we changed the plan ahead to get pizza with friends so it was super tasty treat after a long day in the car and walking around to learn history.

Here is hoping that even though this is a strange week for us, we get food on the table every day as planned or close to it.  Hope you have a great week.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Good Luck with That Book Review

I had put this book on reserve awhile ago so I don't know if someone recommended it or if I thought it just sounded good.  Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins came on to my reserve shelf so I was interested to find out what it was going to be about.

New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins is beloved for her heartfelt novels filled with humor and wisdom. Now, she tackles an issue every woman deals with: body image and self-acceptance.

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults.

For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it's coming to terms with the survivor's guilt she's carried around since her twin sister's death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it's about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother's and brother's ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her.

But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson's dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves.

A novel of compassion and insight, Good Luck With That tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.

This was a very sad book but I was still interested to read it.  It was super motivating to see how Georgia and Marley change their lives after loosing Emerson.  It is hard to change your life and change your thought process but they work their hardest to make the change for the better.  It was moving to watch Georgia deal with her family issues because he brother and mother are always negative to her.  It is tough to deal with that and not take it to heart.  It breaks my heart what her reaction to her family and how much it hurts her.  Marley is making the most of her supportive family and bad relationships outside that.  It was strange to see her deal with the death of her twin from many years ago as well as her family moving.  These both live in adjoining apartments and support each other in their life while trying to check things off the list left from their childhood.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy the message as much as I have.  It is a great message of strength and growing stronger.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

End of October Shopping Summary

I was pretty happy that I spent right about at the halfway mark for the month at the middle of the month.  I budget $160 a month for our family of three to get the items that we need at the lowest stock up prices possible.  I use sales and coupons to stretch that budget as far as possible.  I had a bunch of my budget left to get the deals at the end of the month.  Sadly, the shelves were very empty and never restocked at Super Doubles so I didn't get a ton of deals even though I went to a bunch of stores every day.  I think that I stocked up on a lot of things at very low prices so I am happy with what I got this month overall.

Check out my month below.  The trips at the beginning of the month were broken down in my middle of the month post here.  The trips at the end of the month are all broken down below.  Check out what I got this month with my budget.

Harris Teeter $6.30

Harris Teeter $2.08

Harris Teeter $7.76

Harris Teeter $3.07

Shoppers $0

Harris Teeter $1.27

Harris Teeter $1.28

Harris Teeter $0.15

Harris Teeter $3.88

Harris Teeter $0.44

Harris Teeter $6.21

Safeway $0

Aldi $11.03

Shoppers $0.28 

Wegman's $3.12 + $0.08 + $0.08 + $0.08= $3.36

Aldi $14.40 

Harris Teeter $26.64

Harris Teeter $0

I went in to grab the weekend freebie and that was all that I got so it was free.

Safeway $1.41

We had to go somewhere in the morning and my husband promised my son doughnuts on the way so they stopped at Safeway and got one doughnut each.

Aldi $15.66 

I went to the store because we were out of a lot of things and I really still can't figure out why were out of so much but I grabbed what we needed quickly and headed to the next stop my long list of things to do.

Harris Teeter $0.11

I went to the store to get some freebies but this was all that I got. I used this receipt for any item rebate on Ibotta so I got $0.10 back.

Harris Teeter $0.10

I got these two for my cousin who is currently only drinking decaf.

Harris Teeter $4.66

I got a ton of things this trip and ran into a friend who gave me the coupon for the soup and the oatmeal which I used right away.  I turned this in for rebates for the yogurt and the Dentek and any item so I got back $1.60 on Ibotta.

Harris Teeter $0.11

There were a few more string cheese on the shelf so I got three.

Harris Teeter $1.99

I went to the store with my friends who were going but the shelves were already picked over.  I got these few things but I was happy to finally get one Cheez It coupon to print because my computer was being fussy.

Harris Teeter $0

I got the taste and tell and forgot to check out with it so I grabbed it in a separate transaction.  I did a Checkout 51 rebate and got $0.25 back so it was a money maker.

Harris Teeter $0.35

This transaction was less then only tax because two of the coupons fully doubled which gave me an extra $0.30 off the tax so it was an amazing deal with tons of free stuff.  Super great that I had enough cushion in the tax to cover the overage so I didn't have to scramble to get something else.  I also got back $1.10 for the yogurt and any item from Ibotta so it was a money maker.

Harris Teeter $9.58

I went a little crazy with my long list of things to get and I had my highest total in awhile.  I had a rain check to get the peas for $0.88 which I needed for fried rice and more.  The Cheez Its were $0.50 per box.  The Triaminic was the most expensive one but I just got a new coupon so I got one box which ended up being $3.99 instead of $7.49 shelf price with sale and coupon.  The Captain Crunch was free.  I turned it in for Checkout 51 rebate for $1 for the Cheez Its so that was an amazing bonus.

Shoppers $0.12

I didn't get the freebie last week which was yogurt that I even like so I was set that I was going to make it there this week to get the freebie.

Giant $1.45

There was a freebie at Giant of the Well Yes Soup and I thought that I could pull together a pretty good transaction based on the coupons that I had that were all expiring in the next few days but I wasn't sure what I was getting when I went into the store because I didn't know the prices.  The soup ended up being a money maker because the three coupons that I had fully doubles and electronic coupons came off.  I got the rice for $0.50 per box and the Town House Crackers were $0.38 for one box (with the electronic coupon) and $0.88 for the other two.  I probably could have gone around the store to get things a little lower OOP but I knew that I got things that I could use.  Now I just have to figure out how I used to make that skillet taco chicken and rice meal with the minute rice again.  I think that I will get Saving Star rebates back too so that is a nice bonus.

Harris Teeter $1.62

I went to the store to see what I could find left from super doubles and there was nothing on the shelf but I realized that I had three of these coupons left so I got them for $0.50 a box and turned them in for $0.50 rebates each so I got back $1.50.

Harris Teeter $1.26

I finally found a store that had some things in stock that I still had coupons for so I was excited to grab them.  The $0.50 pie crusts were thrown in because I didn't know how the milk coupons would double so I was a little freaked out because this store is horrible to couponers normally but everything rang up the way it was supposed to so I was excited to get all this for free.

Harris Teeter $0.03

I went to the store and they only had the captain crunch so I grabbed them and only paid tax.  The women seemed interested in couponing who checked me out and was impressed that I got two things of cereal for three pennies but I was exhausted so just said yup couponing is great.  Normally I would tell her where to find the coupons and different websites but I think that she was just trying to be nice so I went on my way with my two cereal.


Total Retail $776.93
Total Savings $650.33
Total OOP $126.60

I got back $17.15 in rebates so far this month and I expect a few rebates to come through Saving Star so I am hopeful to get a little bit more.  This is a little better then I have done for the past few months so I think that did a pretty good job keeping up with all the rebates.  There are many times that you have to check back and I did a pretty good job of that this month.  I have also worked hard to get all my receipts in Fetch which I have gotten some pretty good point totals this month.

I stocked up on a lot of rice, yeast, cereal, crackers, cranberry juice and more.  I was happy with the items that I got for the month.  I know that we have a bunch of food in the cupboards that they are overflowing into the basement for canned goods and into the laundry room for the cereal so we are plenty over stocked and hoping to find some more great deals to use next month but will be plenty fine with what is in the house for a little while.  We are running low on butter and a few other things but nothing a quick trip to Aldi's won't help!! Getting ready to start the winter baking soon and making a few yummy treats so that we have some breakfast treats again.

Eating Out

We went to a festival and my husband decided to get Kettle Corn so that was $6.  My parents came into town and bought Pizza Hut for my son that would have been $21.20 (I only know because I ordered online) and there was something messed up with the order so they gave my husband free cinnamon rolls.  My parents also bought Chinese food because it is my mom's favorite which was a great treat for everyone.  Our total spent for the month was well under my $40 budget with only $6.