Thursday, January 31, 2019

Angels at Christmas Book Review

I had this book on my shelf for a long time and it finally came to the top of the pile.  I got this as a Christmas gift a few years ago and I hadn't read it (but I think that I read it from the library before).  Angels at Christmas: An Anthology (Mira Romance) by Debbie Macomber was the next in my pile so I got to have a little more Christmas reading.

Every Christmas, three lovable angels visit Earth. Once a year, Shirley, Goodness and Mercy are allowed to intervene (or, more accurately, interfere!) in human affairs. Despite their frequent misadventures and the chaos they often cause, things always seem to turn out right….

This Christmas, join Those Christmas Angels as they respond to Anne Fletcher's prayer request. She wants her son, Roy, to meet a special woman—and the angels contrive to throw Julie Wilcott in his path (literally!).  Watch as the heaven-sent messengers reunite a divorced couple, bring peace of mind to an elderly man and grant a little boy's fondest wish. Because there's always joy Where Angels Go.  Shirley, Goodness and Mercy offer you laughter and Christmas cheer in these two heartwarming stories!

I thought this was a cute winter read to see the funny angels Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy do when sent down to earth.  There are different missions for each angel and they all help each other provide support so that they can complete all the missions.  The first is for Roy to meet a special women so they find Julie who has enough spunk to keep him interested.  There is also a boy who's greatest wish is to have a dog but his family can't afford it.  The angels help find him a dog but you have to pick up the book to find out how he gets to keep this dog who is sent to the pound.  There is a heart wrenching story of an elderly couple where the wife is having issues with memory but the husband is dealing with health issues.  All of these missions where the angels have been sent need to be resolved by Christmas so the angels have to work hard.  Pick up the book to find out all the trouble these angels get into with their missions.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Rescuing the Royal Runaway Bride Book Review

I was still reading through my pile of books and this was the next book in the pile.  Rescuing the Royal Runaway Bride (The Royals of Vallemont) by Ally Blake was part of a series that I had never read.  It actually turned out that it was the first book in the series.

Royal bride on the run… Into the arms of an enigmatic rescuer…

On the way to the Vallemont royal wedding, Will Darcy’s overblown sense of chivalry leads him to rescue a damsel in a muddy wedding dress! And, yes, it’s the princess-to-be! While the media furor dies down, they’re holed up in one hotel room where irrepressible Sadie makes buttoned-up Will reconsider his life. For once work isn’t his priority—resisting the tantalizing royal runaway is!

This was a super cute  book about a women running away from her wedding in a small island town.  Will Darcy was the one who happens to almost run into her fleeing in her wedding dress on the road.  He didn't know who she was but quickly figured out that she must be the bride to be of his friend.  He makes sure to protect her and let his friend know that she is safe.  It is funny where things go from there.  This was an interesting story which I could totally see becoming a movie.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens to this runaway bride and see if she gets her happily ever after!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Touching Stars Book Review

I was reading this series and took a little break while waiting to get the next book from the library.  Touching Stars (A Shenandoah Album Novel) by Emilie Richards was the fourth book in the series.  This one is 564 pages so it is a lot to hold when trying to fall asleep at night and reading but totally worth it because this book follows Gayle Fortman who is raising three boys and trying to run a successful business.  She has been mentioned in other books but you now get to learn lots more of this wonderful women.

When is a family no longer a family?

Gayle Fortman has built a good life for herself and her three sons as an innkeeper in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. She has even maintained a cordial relationship with her ex, charismatic broadcast journalist Eric Fortman, covering with the boys for his absences and broken promises. Luckily Travis Allen, her closest neighbor, has been a loving surrogate father to the boys and her own best friend.

Then, on the eve of oldest son Jared's graduation, Eric returns, having nearly lost his life in Afghanistan. Worse, he has lost his way and his courage, and needs a place to recover. Gayle realizes this might be the last chance for her sons to establish a real bond with their father, and offers him a summer at the inn and a chance to put things right. Gayle and Eric are all too aware that their onetime love and attraction are still there. But can the pieces of their broken lives be mended, or are they better laid to rest?

I was excited to get into this new book.  Gayle was living the life that was left after her divorce and thinking that she was making the most of it.  She was living in the small town and running her inn to make it success.  She volunteers to work at the church and helps anyone who needs it.  Gayle was seen in the previous books but you barely get to know her until this book.  She is raising three boys who are getting older and having issues with not having a male role model because their father isn't there very often.  He is injured and comes to live at the inn while recovering and takes that time to get to know his kids.  It is interesting to see how that brings up things that Gayle has left behind in her divorce and trying to have the best life for her family.  There is a lot going on at the inn that summer but you have to pick up the book to find out what happens.  There is no shortage of drama with all the characters.  I think that there were quiet a few that took me by surprise.  I hope that you enjoy this series as much as I have!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Menu Plan Monday 1/28

Chicken fries, Chicken Nuggets and homemade french fries
Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Chicken and Rice

Last week was a little crazy and I didn't even get the menu plan up.  We had Pizza Hut on Monday for lunch but it was a little late so we just had a little snack for dinner because we were still full.  Tuesday was Lemon Parmesan Spaghetti with zucchini. Wednesday was Lime chicken Tacos with white rice.  Thursday was leftovers and noodles because we were so late.  Friday is Ground beef tacos.  Saturday was rice for my son and Cheese Penne and Edamame for my husband and me.  Sunday was my son's birthday party so we had pizza for lunch for the crowd.  I made a Mexican Lasagna and threw it in the oven so that I didn't have to cook after the party.  It was the first time that I made that recipe and it was really tasty.

I have been working on the February meal plan to get everything in the freezer on the plan and make sure that I spread everything out.  I am still working on a few days and weekends but I am getting close.  I can't believe that the last week of January!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Tempted by the Billionaire Next Door Book Review

I have a pile of books on my shelf that I picked up at the local libraries that I was set to read because I was out of all my library books.  Tempted by the Billionaire Next Door (Harlequin Romance) by Therese Beharrie was the next book in my pile.  It was a great story that I enjoyed.

He’s the one man who’s off-limits… But could he be her Mr. Right?

When Jessica Steyn learns her delicious new neighbor is actually her best friend’s brother, billionaire bad boy Dylan Nel, she’s torn. After all, she’s just become his sister’s surrogate! Acting on their attraction would complicate things, but they’re soon growing closer. Overcoming Dylan’s troubled family history—and Jessica’s pregnancy—seems impossible, but could the answer to their heartaches be just next door?

Jessica was staying at her friends house while her house was under construction.  She was between houses and living in the house while her friends were out of the country.  She was also pregnant and acting as a surrogate for that same friends baby. Jessica spent some time watching the neighbor cut wood on a daily basis because he has started to have a schedule.  Jess sees things happen outside the window and is drawn to her mysterious neighbor, Dylan.  It is interesting to see what happens between Jess and Dylan after they finally meet.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens in this quick read.  I promise that will find it as interesting as I did.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Escape from Cabriz Book Review

I read a few books that had two books together and this was the second book in the with the Outlaw's Christmas.  Escape from Cabriz by Linda Lael Miller was a great bonus story.  It was a more modern story but still different because it was set in another country.

All's fair in love and war in this reader favorite from #1 New York Times
bestselling author Linda Lael Miller!
  On the eve of her wedding to the Crown Prince of Cabriz, Kristin Meyers is having more than pre-wedding jitters—her childhood friend Jascha has become a cold, distant stranger. And when his palace comes under attack from angry rebels, Kristin is caught in the crossfire.

Then Zach Harmon arrives and everything changes. The ex-secret service agent
and Kristin had been lovers—until circumstances tore them apart. Now Zach might be able to
get her out of Cabriz alive, but who will save her heart from being broken by Zach one
more time?

I thought that this book was really good and I instantly was pulling for the characters.  Zach is an ex-CIA agent who goes into a foreign country to rescue someone that he isn't sure wants to be rescued.  Kristin is in another other country thinking that she is planning for her wedding but she is starting to get pre-wedding jitters when things in the country start going badly.  It was a super stressful story that has you on the edge of your seat to find out what is going to happen.  I promise that you will be interested as soon as you pick it up.  I think that this plot could easily be turned into a movie because it was that vivid of a picture of what was happening to Zach and Kristin.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

An Outlaw's Christmas Book Review

I haven't read anything else by this author or in this series but I found this book somewhere and it ended up on my shelf.  An Outlaw's Christmas (The McKettricks) by Linda Lael Miller was an obvious choice because I love Christmas books.  It was actually two books in one and it was an interesting read.

Celebrate the holidays with this remarkable McKettrick tale by beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author  Linda Lael Miller.  With his wild heart, Sawyer McKettrick isn't ready to settle down on the Triple M family ranch in Arizona. So he heads to Blue River, Texas, to seek a job as marshal. But in a blinding snowstorm, he's injured—and collapses into the arms of a prim and proper lady in calico.

The shirtless, bandaged stranger recuperating in teacher Piper St. James's room behind the schoolhouse says he's a McKettrick, but he looks like an outlaw to her. As they wait out the storm, the handsome loner has Piper remembering long-ago dreams of marriage and motherhood. But for how long is Sawyer willing to call Blue River home? As the gray skies clear, Piper's one holiday wish just might bring two lonely hearts together forever.

I am not really great with the historical books but this was a super cute story that I was immediately interested in.  I could tell that this was part of a series that I hadn't read but it was still easy to jump into the book even though I didn't know the small town of the chracters.  It was great to see Piper St. James who is the local school teacher.  This was back when the teachers lived in the school.  She went outside after the snow storm because she heard noises.  She found an injured man and she was worried that he was trouble but didn't want to leave him to die.  She put him on a quilt and dragged him to the stairs of the school house.  She was working to keep him alive but you have to pick up the book to find out who this stranger is and what happens after he is brought into the school house to recover.  I know that you will love the story too!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Lovers Knot Book Review

I was excited to get back to this fun series.  Lover's Knot (A Shenandoah Album Novel) by Emilie Richards was the third book in the series.  All of the books have been about quilting and have given amazing stories that were unfolded with the quilt and this was an amazing story.

In the rich, evocative prose that earned high praise for WEDDING RING and ENDLESS CHAIN, Emilie Richards crafts the third tale in the Shenandoah Album series, resonant with the power of love and family ties

Confused about her troubled marriage, Kendra Taylor needs time to sort out her feelings. Retreating to an abandoned cabin left to her husband, Isaac, by the maternal grandmother he never knew, she is quickly welcomed into the rural community of Toms Brook. She soon becomes curious about a beautiful heirloom quilt and the past Isaac has always refused to explore. The unusual quilt clearly has a story to tell, and Kendra hopes that helping her husband connect with his roots may also help him reconnect with her.

At first Isaac's reluctant visits to the cabin only underscore the difficulties in their marriage. But as circumstances force them to piece together a new relationship, Isaac discovers that the history of a family he never knew may hold the key to his future.  As a passionate story of strength, loss and desperation unfolds, the secrets of the quilt are revealed and the threads of an unraveling marriage are secured.

I hadn't read the other books as recently but picking up this book as quickly brought me back to the small town and all of the great characters.  Kendra was living the DC area and dealing with a sickness.  She went to the pharmacy and they didn't have her medicine so she asked her husband to pick it up.  He was working and couldn't make it so she went when she was really sick.  In the process, she was car jacked and hurt very badly.  She recovered and decided that she needed a change to recover fully outside the city.  I understand that need to change the atmosphere to feel better.  It was hard for her husband because he was left in the city and feeling very guilty that his wife was hurt.  Kendra decides to renovate their vacation home and make it more livable.  It is amazing to watch what happens when she becomes part of the community and makes friends.  It is great to unravel the family mysteries in the family quilt but you have to pick up the book to find out what happens.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Year End Reading Review 2018

I did a horrible job of tracking reading and writing up reviews at the end of the year.  I am trying to start over with the new year.  This is what I think I read in 2018.  I literally tracked right up to September and I had to make up the rest from the posts that I had posted review of on my blog.

Total Books 2018

January   8
February  10
 March    10
April     11
May      6 
June     5
 July      7
August  6
September  6
October    2
November  9
December  5

Total Read  85

My goal is to read 100 books a year which I have accomplished quiet well for many years and now my reading has obviously not made the cut.  I have read a bunch of kids books with my son which have been amazing but I didn't blog about and the older he gets the longer these things get.  Some of them are longer then the books that I have read this year.  What this mainly shows me is that I don't take enough time for myself.  I am hoping to do better in the new year.  

Do you have any resolutions to do better in the coming year??  

Monday, January 14, 2019

Menu Plan Monday 1/14

Monday- Chicken Fries. Chicken Wraps, and homemade fries
Tuesday- Lemon Parmesan Spaghetti with zucchini
Wednesday- Pork Chops with mac and cheese
Thursday- Chicken and white rice
Friday- Steak and Baked Potatoes
Saturday- Leftovers
Sunday- ??

Last week was a little crazy because my son was sent home from school with a fever and the whole schedule was gone out of the window.  There was mostly toast, soup and fairly easy meals whenever my husband and son were awake and hungry.  I am just putting last weeks meal plan up for for this week and hoping that I can make it happen.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Colorblind Book Review

I reserved the next book in the series when I saw there were new books out and I got to read this right after the last one because I was playing catch up.  Robert B. Parker's Colorblind (A Jesse Stone Novel) by Reed Farrel Coleman was the next installment of the Jesse Stone series.  I was excited to see what was going to happen next.  I went through it a little too fast and now I have to be patient for the next one!!

Police chief Jesse Stone returns in the newest novel in Robert B. Parker's New York Times--bestselling series, and his newest case hits right at the heart of the Paradise police force.

Jesse Stone is back on the job after a stint in rehab, and the road to recovery is immediately made bumpy by a series of disturbing and apparently racially motivated crimes, beginning with the murder of an African American woman. Then, Jesse's own deputy Alisha--the first black woman hired by the Paradise police force--becomes the target of a sophisticated frame-up. As he and his team work tirelessly to unravel the truth, he has to wonder if this is just one part of an even grander plot, one with an end game more destructive than any of them can imagine.

At the same time, a mysterious young man named Cole Slayton rolls into town with a chip on his shoulder and a problem with authority--namely, Jesse. Yet, something about the angry twenty-something appeals to Jesse, and he takes Cole under his wing. But there's more to him than meets the eye, and his secrets might change Jesse's life forever.

This book is about Jesse Stone starting back to the job after rehab and how hard it was for him to do the job without resorting to alcohol.  It was interesting  to see how he changed based on the changes he made in his life.  I love Jesse Stone and I was pulling for his sobriety to work and him to be able to pull his life together.  It is hard to agree with his drinking but I was afraid that he wasn't going to be able to do his job sober.  I hope that you pick up the book and find out what happened with this funny small town cop.  I hope that you check out this book and more in the Jesse Stone series.  They are all really good and I look forward to reading the next one if I can be patient and wait that long!!

This was the last book that I think I read in 2018 so hoping to add up everything and see how the year went!!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

2018 Budget Year In Review

I went to the grocery store and the manager that checked me out told me that he was so amazed with all my savings.  He asked me how much it said at the bottom of the receipt for 2018 and I told him that I wasn't sure because I never look at that because it doesn't include rain checks and other stores that I track.

I hadn't added up everything yet so I decided to come home and figure it out.  I went to my spreadsheet and realized that I uploaded the formula to the last page and added the months at the beginning of the year that weren't on my spreadsheet.  It included Spending, Savings, Rebates and Eating Out as seen below:

Months Spending Savings Rebates Eating Out
January $158.61 $789.99 $13.00 $46.25
February $125.11 $682.37 $12.50 $25.65
March $165.51 $1,009.93 $23.55 $22.00
April $156.27 $702.45 $9.25 $13.76
May $162.86 $711.23 $31.35 $8.47
June $139.03 462.06 $28.95 $21.59
July $74.69 $286.96 $22.25 $57.66
August $118.38 $861.38 $13.10 $10.42
September $183.49 $443.40 $9.70 $8.47
October $126.60 $650.33 $17.15 $6.00
November $108.14 $143.93 $1.00 $33.00
December $153.81 $649.46 $32.20 $61.55
Yearly Total $1,672.50 $7,393.49 $214.00 $314.82
Monthly Average $139.38 $616.12

I was so excited to see that everything worked out so well and we were under budget for every category of monthly grocery budget and eating out budget.  My monthly budget is $160 for groceries and household goods and I came in at $139.38.  My monthly budget for eating out is $40 and we averaged $26.24.  Even with some months over budget in different categories, I was able to make it under budget which is why I don't worry too much but still try to stay within reason when shopping.

I didn't start tracking my rebates at the beginning of the year so I am not sure how I did for the whole year but it was a minimum of $214.  I thought that it was amazing savings for what I could put together.  January through April just includes the amount from Ibotta because I can't see the old Saving Star rebates and the Checkout 51 rebates do not have the date associated so it is too hard to add either of those savings.

How did you do this year??  Looking to do better next year? There are tons of way to save money and be frugal.  Hope that you will follow and learning how I do it!!  I am hoping to be better in the coming year of tracking and remembering all of my saving methods.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

December Month End Budget Update for Shopping and Eating Out

I work every month to save money through our grocery shopping.  I budget $160 for groceries and $40 for eating out so that we are under $200 every month.  I shop sales, use coupons and as many deals as I can find to come in under budget.  We try to cook almost all of my meals at home from scratch and use all the groceries to spread the deals as far as possible.  We have tons of stuff in the pantry, fridge and freezer to use for the coming months but sometimes that doesn't always mean that I don't go over budget because of amazing deals that I find.

Below is what I got for the month which just so happens to be everything that I bought during the first half of the month.  Normally I break down the second half of the end of the month post but there this nothing new from when I posted here.  We took some time on vacation and enjoyed time with family without too much shopping.  Here is the quick summary of the month with link to more details here.

Harris Teeter $0.06

Harris Teeter $10.28

Harris Teeter $4.29

Harris Teeter $0.06

Harris Teeter $11.10


Harris Teeter $0.06


Harris Teeter $0.06


Harris Teeter $0.04

Bought two yeast but didn't take a picture...oops

Harris Teeter $2.30

Harris Teeter $0.13

Harris Teeter $9.87

Harris Teeter $6.45

Harris Teeter $0.18

Harris Teeter $1.76

Harris Teeter $9.59

Harris Teeter $2.15


Harris Teeter $0.89


Harris Teeter $15.83

Harris Teeter $6.16

Aldi $28.89

Aldi $30.28

Trader Joes $4.09 

Harris Teeter $4.08

 Harris Teeter $5.21

Total Retail $803.27
Total Savings $649.46
Total OOP $153.81

I went a little crazy at the beginning of this month with some splurges including laundry detergent, beef jerky, lotion, and cookies but I had $6.19 left for the month to spend and I actually stopped spending money.  I know that I got a ton of great values and stocked up on a lot of things so hoping that I made some good choices to get through the month even though I spent almost all my budget for the whole month in half the time. Lucky that I did!!

Eating Out

We got Pizza Hut at the beginning of the month for $10.60.  I had a gift card for $5 for Chik-Fila and I stopped and used it to get a sandwich which was a tasty treat in a busy day of running around and no money out of pocket.  We had a gift card which we used to go to lunch after furniture searching and we only left an extra $3 tip beyond the gift card.  We earned a free pizza which we used on a late night out to get a free pizza.  This brings us under budget for the month for eating out until the end of the month where we had a big family dinner and ordered Chinese food for $94.45.  My sister in law paid for half of it and we paid for the other half but it was more like a Christmas gift instead of eating out but $58.05 does make it over budget.  All together, I was only $11.86 over budget which really isn't that bad during the holidays.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Menu Plan Monday 1/7

Monday- Chicken Fries. Chicken Wraps, and homemade fries
Tuesday- Pork Chops with mac and cheese
Wednesday- Limone Parmesan Spaghetti with zucchini
Thursday- Chicken and white rice
Friday- Steak and Baked Potatoes
Saturday- Leftovers
Sunday- ?? Breakfast for Dinner

Well, we are back to regular schedule since the break and the holidays. Trying to put together a meal plan with things from the freezer and pantry.  I need to do a better inventory to start the meal planning but at least this is a start.