Thursday, February 28, 2019

Christmas Room Book Review

I was at the library and this was in the new release section so I couldn't pass up this fun cover.  I wasn't sure if it was something that I read but I figured that the worst was that I would just return it.  I looked it up and I hadn't read it so it went straight in the to read pile.  The Christmas Room by Catherine Anderson was finally the next book in my pile so I got to read it. 

The beloved author of the Mystic Creek series gifts readers with a novel of homespun holiday cheer, as two families discover the joy of hope and redemption....

Widow Maddie McLendon has uprooted her life to move to Rustlers Gulch with her son and grandson. But as a brutal Montana winter looms on the horizon, contractors have yet to break ground on their new house, leaving them to live in a makeshift camp of trailers, tents, and sheds....

Since his wife died six years ago, millionaire rancher Sam Conacher has been content to wallow in his grief alone while keeping a tight rein on his twenty-six-year-old daughter. But now the girl has gone and fallen in love with his foolish new neighbor’s no-good son....

Maddie and Sam will never see eye to eye on anything, until a near-tragedy gives them a true glimpse into each other’s souls. And as the first snowflakes begin to fall, they’ll discover that an open heart is the biggest gift of all....

Kirstin Conacher is trying to have her own life but her father Sam is making it very hard.  She has to sneak out of the house and try to meet people.  One night sneaking out to the local bar, she meets Cam McLendon.  Cam is new to town so didn't know who Kirstin was but he sat down and had dinner with her.  They quickly hit it off and realized that they were neighbors.  Many of the people that Cam has met told him not to mess with his new neighbor because he likes to protect his daughter and ruin anyone that crosses him.  Sam finds out about the lying and comes to confront Cam but finds his mother, Maddie, instead.  Sam quickly upsets Maddie who fights back.  There is a a fight brewing between these two families but you have to pick up the book to find out what happens.  I haven't read a lot by this author but when I got this book, the author did seem a little familiar.  I think that I might have to check out more by this author.  I hope that you check out this fun book and enjoy it as much as I did!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Cottages on Silver Beach Book Review

I saw this on the shelf at the library when I was there so I grabbed it because I didn't think that I had read it.  Amazingly, I was right and I got to read The Cottages on Silver Beach (Haven Point) by RaeAnne Thayne.  It was the 8th book in the series.  I jumped right in and had trouble putting it down. 

Years after betraying her, he’s back in Haven Point…and ready to learn the truth

Megan Hamilton never really liked Elliot Bailey. He turned his back on her family when they needed him the most and it almost tore them all apart. So she’s shocked when Elliot arrives at her family’s inn, needing a place to stay and asking questions that dredge up the past. Megan will rent him a cottage, but that’s where it ends—no matter how gorgeous Elliot has become.

Coming back home to Haven Point was the last thing bestselling writer Elliot Bailey thought he’d ever do. But the book he’s writing now is his most personal one yet and it’s drawn him back to the woman he can’t get out of his mind. Seeing Megan again is harder than he expected and it brings up feelings he’d thought were long buried. Could this be his chance to win over his first love?

Megan is running her family inn in Haven Point.  She has decided to live on the property because she often has to cover for any employee that can't finish their job.  She lives in one of the cabins and enjoys the quiet of the morning before she starts her day.  She is enjoying her life with family and friends in the small town until Elliot moves into the cabin next to her.  Elliot is the brother of her first love and he has always been cold to her.  Megan is working to open her first photography show during her extra time which usually means less sleeping.  I think that all this makes for an explosive story but you have to pick up the book to find out for yourself.  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the series.  I know that you will enjoy it as much as I did.  I forgot most of the characters in this small town so this was a great reminder of a series that I haven't read in a long time.  I was excited to see that there was another new book in the series too so I put that on reserve at the library to read soon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Christmas Remedy Book Review

I was at the library looking in the new release section and I saw this book.  I wasn't sure if I read it but I thought I would remember that cute cover so I grabbed it.  The Christmas Remedy: An Amish Christmas Romance by Cindy Woodsmall was the next in my pile to read and seemed appropriate when the snow started falling here.  I couldn't put down this 200 page book until I got to the end because I had to find out what was going to happen next.

When an Old Order Amish woman takes a job at a small-town pharmacy struggling to survive in a world of "big box" stores, her motive is to help her Plain community. But the advent of the holiday season brings an unusual mystery to the surface--and possibly love.

Twenty-four-year-old Holly Zook lives a unique life for a young Amish woman. Years ago, her bishop allowed her to continue her education and become the lead technician for Greene's Pharmacy, an old-timey drugstore that looks out for the Amish community--a group largely without secure healthcare plans. She knows she can't marry and hold onto her professional job. She's Amish, and she can only have one or the other, so she spurns love and works toward addressing treatable diseases--like the one that claimed her father's life.

As long as Holly continues to avoid Joshua Smucker, the one man who draws her like a warm hearth in winter, she should be fine. When something unexpected threatens Greene's Pharmacy, Holly and Joshua must work together to unravel what's happened and find the "missing" patient before the Board of Pharmacy shuts them down. As the snows of December arrive, with Christmas in the air, will Holly succumb to the generous spirit of the season?

Although not a mystery, this book has twists and turns that are unexpected.  I was looking forward to another Amish fiction read but didn't know what to expect.  This book is about Holly Zook who was Amish but working at the local pharmacy.  It was an interesting cross over because the Amish don't normally educate after the 8th grade.  In order to get her job, she got special permission to get her GED and is now going for more advanced degree to do her job.  Holly is doing a service for the Amish community and making sure that she is helping everyone get medical care.  She lost her father because he didn't get the medical attention that he needed so she was on a mission that all Amish take better care of themselves.  Holly has taken on a lot of responsibility and become part of the family at the pharmacy but things are going to quickly fall apart when everything changes.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I have.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Menu Plan Monday 2/25

Monday- Chicken fries, Chicken Wraps and french fries
Tuesday- Tacos
Wednesday- Spaghetti with sausage sauce and garlic knots or pizza bites
Thursday- Chicken with rice Casserole
Friday- Chicken ?? (maybe Spicy Honey Mustard) with mac and cheese
Saturday- Steak with potatoes
Sunday- Leftovers

Last week went amazingly well.  Monday night was my son's favorite dinner with french fries that I cut at the last minute but still got done.  Tuesday was Salsa Sloppy Joes and mac and cheese.  I made two different versions of mac and cheese but my son is not pleased with the change in Wegman's recipe and has decided he doesn't like it anymore.  Wednesday was Spaghetti with sausage sauce which I made previously.  I might have taken the chicken out a little late for Thursdays dinner but with a little help from the microwave, I got it thawed enough to separate and get into the pan for Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes with potatoes that I caught in the morning.  Friday was chicken tacos or chicken taco rice.  I made Pizza Bites for lunch and Chili dinner with an extra ground beef purchase so that both had leftovers so that we had lots of eating on Sunday.

I think that I have a really busy week but I think that all these meals are pretty good and I will be get them all on the table even if things get busy. Hope you have a yummy week planned!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Best of Us Book Review

I go through the library website of all the new releases every once in awhile when I get the urge to and this was one of the many books that I found and reserved.  I must have done a bunch that were released at the same time because I got a ton on my reserve shelf at the same time. The Best of Us (Sullivan's Crossing) by Robyn Carr was one of the books that I got a chance to read.  I loved the picture on the cover but I was more excited to find out what was going on in Sullivan's Crossing since the last book.

In Sullivan’s Crossing, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr has created a place where good people, powerful emotions, great humor and a healthy dose of common sense are the key ingredients to a happy life. Sullivan’s Crossing brings out the best in people. It’s a place you’ll want to visit again and again.

Dr. Leigh Culver loves practicing medicine in Timberlake, Colorado. It is a much-needed change of pace from her stressful life in Chicago. The only drawback is she misses her aunt Helen, the woman who raised her. But it’s time that Leigh has her independence, and she hopes the beauty of the Colorado wilderness will entice her aunt to visit often.

Helen Culver is an independent woman who lovingly raised her sister’s orphaned child. Now, with Leigh grown, it’s time for her to live life for herself. The retired teacher has become a successful mystery writer who loves to travel and intends to never experience winter again.  When Helen visits Leigh, she is surprised to find her niece still needs her, especially when it comes to sorting out her love life. But the biggest surprise comes when Leigh takes Helen out to Sullivan’s Crossing and Helen finds herself falling for the place and one special person. Helen and Leigh will each have to decide if they can open themselves up to love neither expected to find and seize the opportunity to live their best lives.

I love all the books in this Sullivan Crossing series but this book was amazing and so hard to put down.  I started it the other day and then stayed up until 2 am to finish it because I couldn't put it down.  It was a great page turning book that I would recommend to all.  There are so many different characters to love that it is hard but my favorite was Leigh Culver who just moved to the area to start running the clinic.  She leaves behind a busy and stressful job working all hours to settle into something that might provide more of a life but it takes her awhile to settle in and start putting herself more out there to get to know the people of the town.  She finds Rob at the beginning of the book after stitching up one of his two sons.  Leigh is starting to date Rob and afraid that it is going to become gossip but she thinks that if they stay private then people won't push them together.  Little does she know that it is out of her control in this small town.  She misses the house that she grew up in and her Aunt Helen who raised her but she comes to visit and also falls in love with the small town. Her story is just as amazing after coming to this small town but you have to pick up the book to find out what happens that has the wandering Aunt Helen deciding that she might also stay in this small town even though she wants to avoid winter altogether.  I know that you will enjoy this as much as I have.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Look Alive Twenty-Five Book Review

I love this series and even though they are becoming a little predictable with 25 books now in the series, I can't help bu pick them up and see what trouble Stephanie is going to get herself into this time. Look Alive Twenty-Five: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich was the next in the series for me to read so I was excited to see it on the library new release list and I reserved it as soon as I could but I was pretty far down the list.  I was happy to get it on my reserve list but sadly, I also got three or four other new releases at the same time so it was busy reading.  Luckily, these books are always fast reads so I put it at the top of my pile.

Stephanie Plum faces the toughest puzzle of her career in the twenty-fifth entry in Janet Evanovich's #1 New York Times-bestselling series. There's nothing like a good deli, and the Red River Deli in Trenton is one of the best. World-famous for its pastrami, cole slaw, and for its disappearing managers. Over the last month, three have vanished from the face of the earth, and the only clue in each case is one shoe that's been left behind. The police are baffled. Lula is convinced that it's a case of alien abduction. Whatever it is, they'd better figure out what's going on before they lose their new manager, Ms. Stephanie Plum.

I was hooked at the very beginning but the farther you get into the book, the more it is impossible to put down.  I am always surprised with the trouble that Stephanie gets into by doing what she feels is the right thing.  Stephanie is put into the new job of running the deli that the bond agency gets from a bond that ran.  She is working to get a few people for the bond agency too.  It is always funny to see her interactions with Lula, who helps her catch the fugatives and Ranger, who she calls when she messes up and Morelli, her boyfriend.  The most amazing part of this book is that she doesn't loose any cars....okay one but it is found safely.  You have to pick up the book and find out for yourself all the great things that happen.  I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the fun series.I know that you will enjoy them as much as I have!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Colors of All the Cattle

I was at the library and I saw a book that I thought that I didn't read so I grabbed it and check it out.  I wasn't sure that it was the next in the series or even one that I hadn't read but I was excited to get home and find that it was!  I had read that last book and I get to enjoy this book right away.  The Colors of All the Cattle: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (19) (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series) by Alexander McCall Smith is the 19th book in the series and I have read all the books.

In this latest installment of the beloved and best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Precious Ramotswe finds herself running for office—much to her dismay.

When Mma Potokwane suggests to Mma Ramotswe that she run for a seat on the Gaborone City Council, Mma Ramotswe is at first reluctant. But when she learns that developers plan to build the flashy Big Fun Hotel next to a graveyard, she allows herself to be persuaded. Her opponent is none other than Mma Makutsi’s old nemesis, Violet Sephotho, who is in the pocket of the hotel developers. Although Violet is intent on using every trick in the book to secure her election, Mma Ramotswe refuses to guarantee anything beyond what she can deliver; hence her slogan: “I can’t promise anything—but I shall do my best.”

Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe has acquired a new client: one of her late father’s old friends, who was the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Charlie volunteers to be the lead investigator in the case to prove he’s ready to be more than an apprentice, as well as to impress a new girlfriend. With Charlie’s inquiries landing him in hot water and Election Day fast approaching, Mma Ramotswe will have to call upon her good humor and gen­erosity of spirit to help the community navigate these thorny issues, and to prove that honesty and compassion will always carry the day.

I love this series and all the books in it so it is great to get to read the next book in the series.  I was excited to find out what trouble Mma Ramotswe was going to get into during this book.  They were quickly given a case that was given to Charlie to solve because he knew someone that might be able to help.  It turns out that it always brings Mma Ramotswe make into the detecting because other things go wrong.  At the same time, Mma Ramotswe is being pressured into running for public office.  She isn't feeling good about it but Mma Potokwane is pressuring her to follow through.  It is a fun and interesting book that brings back the old nemesis Violet Sephotho. You have to pick up the book to find out what happens.  I hope that you check out this book and all the others in the series to see for yourself.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Middle of February Budget Update

My monthly budget is $160 for all my groceries and $40 for eating out for a total of $200 per month.  I use sales, coupons and anything to stretch my budget as far as possible.  I cook most of our meals at home with homemade breads and many treats to supplement.  I try to find the lowest possible price to stock up on items so I can use them all in the coming months to lower my spending.

I thought that I was doing well for the month even though I got a bunch of things at the beginning of the month based on the sales that were going.  I am making extra efforts to use some of the things in my pantry that have been there for a little bit and getting things more organized so that I know what is in there.  Hopefully this month will show that in less shopping.  Below are all of the things that I got this month.

Harris Teeter $54.73

I got some clearance bananas and a lime up front in the produce.  I also grabbed the 8 lb bag of potatoes because it is cheaper then Aldi's has been.  I grabbed free oatmeal and free noodles.  I got $0.50 egg rolls and beef jerky for $1.47 per bag.  Crazy amount of soda which was B2G3 and B1G1 juice that I had to fill up and check out and do a second transaction so that things didn't get smashed on the second check out.  I was a little sad that I didn't do this with one of those $10 off $50 since I obviously spent way more then I normally do in one transaction.

Harris Teeter $1.75

I got free noodles and oatmeal which were the main deals that I was looking for in this sale.  I also got the B2G3 chip deal with two pretzels and three Cape Cod chips.  I got a fourth chip but one of the chips that scanned on the app as half price rang up as a full so I returned it and got money back. It ended up being an amazing deal after sale and coupons with the return.

Harris Teeter $9.04

 I got some free meatballs and free yogurt.  The yogurt also had a coupon that gave me a $1 overage.  I got the cheese for the last coupon that I had so it was $1.00 out of pocket and there was an Ibotta rebate for $1.75.  I bought some more turkey for $2 because we were out at home.  The pop tarts were a good deal which I don't think that I calculated correctly when I was at the store but they were $0.67 each.  We were running low on cereal so I grabbed some deals on these for $0.97.

Harris Teeter $2.43

I got some more free meatballs and two more bags of Godiva which were $1 each.  I turned in $2.60 for rebates for the Godiva and any item which was more then I spent.

Aldi $16.20

I went to get milk because we were out and vegetable shortening because we were running low.  I also got turkey because my husband finished all of the previous package I grabbed at Harris Teeter.  I got another bag of chicken nuggets for the upcoming month.  I decided to make rice krispie treats with the marshmallows.  I got an extra bag of tortilla chips and pretzels because we were a little low.

Giant $2.05

We had already made color your own book marks with valentine on one side and book mark on the other side.  I got pencils to go with them and my husband and son decided that they also needed candy to go with it.  They went to the store to buy Smarties because my son loves them.  We also had bunches of Starburst.  I packed them all to go with the valentines so they got Smarties, Starburst, and pencils.

Giant $5.40

I went to Giant with my husband and son to get my free yogurts.  I also found spice drops and holiday wreaths for $0.79 each.  There was a deal on Cheez Its that my son saw so we got three boxes for $1.99 each.   I got to use a $1 off 2 coupon to get them for $1.66 each.  After they were rung up, it turns out that I paid $0.10 for one yogurt but made $0.49 on the other one.  I also made an additional $1 with the coupon on the yogurt.  I can never figure out how things are going to ring up at Giant but I thing that I got some good deals.

Aldi $11.32

We were out of butter so I went and grabbed two even though they are more expensive near our house at $1.39.  My son said that he really want to try some chips so I got him the ones that he wanted to try.  I got two emergency blocks of cheese because we only had one left and we use a lot of cheese.  The potatoes were finally $3.99 so I grabbed a bag and we only had 3 potatoes left.

Harris Teeter $5.98

I went to get the free yogurt and candy bar but they were out and they gave me a rain check for the candy bar.  The Dixie Crystal Sugars were on sale and I used a coupon to get them for $0.67 each (limit 2).  The Quaker Granola bars were on sale half off for $1.49 each but they only had three left on the shelf of the one that my son liked.  I got a rain check for them too so that I could get more when they are finally back on the shelf.

Girl Scout Cookies $20.00

My husband decided that we needed cookies and upped my order from one box to five.  I couldn't figure out where to count this but I figured it was basically a grocery purchase.

Total Retail $343.36
Total Savings $214.46
Total OOP $128.90

I was happy with what I got so far this month but I didn't leave a lot of wiggle room in the rest of the month but luckily we have $31 to get more deals but hoping to not need much.  It was mostly some treats.  I used things around the house to make banana bread, homemade pop tarts, cinnamon and sugar pie crust cookies, rolls, bread, pizza crusts and more.  It is a great way to help stretch the budget and use the things that are in the house.  I am going to try to go back to being better about making our treats at home and making something special on the weekends.  It has been so busy that I haven't had a lot of chances to cook at home as much as I wanted.  Hoping that I can take more time to do that for the rest of the month.

Eating Out

My son had a day off school at the beginning of the month and he was great at physical therapy so we used the rest of our Dunkin Donuts gift card and got hot chocolate and two doughnuts.  We paid out of our change purse and paid $0.38 after coupon and gift card.  We went to Family Bingo at my son's school and my husband promised my son that he would buy him popcorn when we were there which was $1.  We went to Starbucks one morning for breakfast but I used a gift card so we didn't spend any money.  We were out running errands and decided to get Burger King so I bought a gift card from MyPoints and we paid $0.81 after gift card.  We have used $2.19 out of our monthly eating out budget.  Normally February is much lower because January is so much higher.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Monday Menu Plan 2/18

Monday- Chicken Fries, Chicken Wraps and homemade fries
Tuesday- Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Wednesday- Spaghetti with sausage sauce
Thursday-Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes
Friday- Chicken Tacos with/or on white rice
Saturday- Pizza Bites and olive oil dippers
Sunday- Leftovers

It was a crazy busy week this week with me working a bunch and lots of test for my son.  We made it through with all the meals on the table except that we had Lime Chicken Tacos on Friday and we did Pork Chops on Saturday because the meat wasn't thawed until then.  I was super amazed that I could get all my meals on the table this week but I was super excited that I made it happen.  The biggest problem came to Sunday because there weren't a ton of leftovers but we decided that we would eat leftovers and put it together with some pizza dough so I made a few different kinds of pizza.  We ended up with a yummy meal with no trip to the store which is all that matters.  I am hoping to be able to do the same next week and this is my plan to get there.

I have already been to the store to get the potatoes, butter and a few more things that we were out of so I guess that means that we have most everything in the house to make the meals for the week.  I went through the freezer to check to make sure what we had left for the month and fill in the few spaces with new things that I bought in the last month.  I have the whole month filled in and the first week of March so we are all set for a little bit and ready to find some deals.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Blood Feud Book Review

I love the Robert Parker series and although there are many less in the Sunny Randall series, I have enjoyed those books as they have come out.  I think that they did a good job of continuing the series after Robert Parker's death and this was no exception.  Robert B. Parker's Blood Feud (Sunny Randall) by Mike Lupica was a book that I had to reserve because there is a long list of other people who wanted to read it.

Robert B. Parker's iconic and irresistible PI Sunny Randall is back, and the stakes are higher than ever as she races to protect her ex-husband--and his Mafia family--from the vengeful plan of a mysterious rival.

Sunny Randall is "on" again with Richie, the ex-husband she never stopped loving and never seemed to be able to let go, despite her discomfort with his Mafia connections. When Richie is shot and nearly killed, Sunny is dragged into the thick of his family's business as she searches for answers and tries to stave off a mob war. But as the bullets start flying in Boston's mean streets, Sunny finds herself targeted by the deranged mastermind of the plot against the Burke family, whose motive may be far more personal than she could have anticipated...

Sunny Randall is the private detective that works to find out the truth even when people don't hire her (a lot like Spenser in the Spenser series).  She is in a relationship with her ex husband Richie and he gets shot.  She is going to find out who attempted to kill him and why regardless of what gets in her way.  Richie's father is in the Mafia so it is quickly assumed that it has something to do with his business dealings but now the question is it is past or present.  There are many others who get pulled into the family drama with other family members getting shot.  Sunny goes straight to the rival mob information in order to unravel the mystery.  It is amazing the information that she can uncover.  You have to pick up the book to find out all the amazing things that happen because it keeps you on your toes with all the action and double crossing.  It is a mystery with a lot of heart which you have to read to find out.  I loved this book and the rest of the series.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I have.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Mending Fences Book Review

I picked this book off a recent review site and I was excited to read it because I love the author.  I didn't know that it was the first in the series that was quickly following the other series that I loved.  It was great when I got Mending Fences (The Deacon's Family) by Suzanne Woods Fisher in the mail.  I was very excited to get to reading.

Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.Luke Schrock is a new and improved man after a stint in rehab, though everyone in Stoney Ridge only remembers the old Luke. They might have forgiven him, but nobody trusts him.  Amos and Fern Lapp allow Luke to live at Windmill Farm under two conditions. First, Luke must make a sincere apology to each person he's hurt--a four-page, single-spaced list. Second, he must ask each victim of mischief to describe the damage he caused.

Simple, Luke thinks. Offering apologies is easy. But discovering the lasting effects his careless actions have caused . . . that isn't so simple. It's gut-wrenching.  And his list keeps growing. Izzy Miller, beautiful and frustratingly aloof, also boards at Windmill Farm. Luke's clumsy efforts to befriend Izzy only insult and annoy her. Eager to impress, Luke sets out to prove himself to her by locating her mother. When he does, her identity sends shock waves through Stoney Ridge.  Bestselling and award-winning author Suzanne Woods Fisher returns to her beloved Stoney Ridge for this brand-new series featuring some of her readers' favorite characters.

Luke came back to the town that he wronged as a child after going through rehab more then once.  He spent most of his childhood making bad choices in his neighborhood and one of the things that he needs to do find out what affect his actions had on others.  He takes this job very seriously and tries to help everyone that he has wronged.  In the process, he changes his life and starts to change others.  Luke is worried that his new life can't be started in the town that he wronged so badly.  He quickly learns that he is building a new life based on a while new way of thinking.  At the same time Izzy is trying to build her new life.  She is freshly out of rehab and living in the Amish life while still being English.  She is learning what happens when she lives the life because it changes her.  If you pick up the book, I think you will be surprised on all the growing that these two do during this story.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy it as much as I have. I can't wait for the rest of the series!!! 

**I was provided a copy of this book for my review but all opinions here are my own.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Summer By the Sea Book Review

I had this book sitting on my shelf of books to read and I decided to pick it up and check it out.  Summer by the Sea by Susan Wiggs was an interesting pick since I just finished reading a bunch of Christmas books.  It was a nice change of pace and a light paper back which was nice to have in my bag when going around to all my errands.

This summer Rosa Capoletti is about to rediscover the pleasures of love and laughter, food and wine, friendship and romance…

With a little determination and a lot of charm, Rosa Capoletti took a run-down pizza joint and turned it into an award-winning restaurant that has been voted “best place to propose” three years in a row. For Rosa, though, there has been no real romance since her love affair with Alexander Montgomery ended without explanation a decade ago. But guess who’s just come back to town?

Reunited at the beach house where they first fell in love, Rosa and Alexander discover that the secrets of the past are not what they seem. Now, with all that she wants right in front of her, Rosa searches for happiness with the man who once broke her heart—and learns that in love, as in life, there are second chances.

I thought this book was amazing and included so many heartwarming stories of family and romance.  It was great to see that Rosa was trying to take care of her family and herself by making the most of a family pizza place and turning it into a great restaurant that everyone wants to eat at.  There is no question that I was pulling for Rosa as soon as the story started and even more the more that I got to know her.  She was living a life in a small tourist town where the people came in during the summer and then left so she had friends that were only in the summer and their lives went different ways in the winter months.  I thought it was interesting to see a snapshot out of her life every summer that made her into the person that she is today where her restaurant is the place to propose.  Rosa's life is turned upside down when her childhood friend and first love comes back into her life.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens with this change because I know that you will be surprised by all the ups and downs.  I hope that you check out this book and like it as much as I did.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Between Friends Book Review

I had another book on my shelf that I waited to see if it was part of a series but I decided to pick up the book and read it before checking anything out.  Between Friends: An Anthology by Debbie Macomber turned out to be a book with letters back and forth between friends.  It was their whole life being best friends learning how to get through it together even when they are apart.

The story of a remarkable friendship—told in a remarkable way. A story in which every woman will recognize herself…and her best friend

Jillian Lawton and Lesley Adamski. Two girls from very different backgrounds become best friends in the turbulent 60s, but their circumstances and choices—and their mistakes—take them in opposite directions. Lesley stays in their hometown. She marries young, living a life defined by the demands of small children, never enough money, and an unfaithful husband. Jill lives those years on a college campus shaken by the Vietnam War, and then as an idealistic young lawyer in New York City.

But they always remain friends.

Through the years and across the miles, Jill and Lesley confide everything to each other—every grief and joy. Because the quality of a friendship is the quality of a life.

I thought it was a great story of friendship but it was a tough story to read because of all the tough things that they went through in their lives.  The two best friends write letters back and forth and to others in this this book following through from childhood into their adult years.  It is great to see all of the things going on with the added interesting fact that it really isn't just a story being told.  It still sucks you in and gives you snapshots of both of their lives.  I hope that you pick up this book to read for yourselves soon. It is a great story that makes you realize how great your life is and how great it is to have friends.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Menu Plan Monday 2/11

Monday- Chicken Fries, Chicken Wraps and homemade fries
Tuesday- Tacos with rice
Wednesday- Spaghetti with sausage sauce
Thursday- Steak with white rice
Friday- Pork Chops with mac and cheese
Saturday-Lime Chicken Tacos with rice
Sunday- Leftovers

Last week we did my son's favorite meal on Monday.  French Dip Sloppy Joes on Tuesday with mac and cheese. Wednesday with Spaghetti before basketball practice.  Thursday was simple fried rice with peas and steak egg rolls because I forgot to take out the chicken.  I got Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes made on Friday.  Saturday was leftovers after a busy day.  Sunday was my son and husband at a birthday party and I ate at work.  I only had one day that got moved because of not defrosting meat so I think that it worked out really well.  I have everything in the house to make the meals this week except more milk.  I have to head to the store tomorrow to get that but this week should be easy.

Hope you have a good week planned!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Mrs. Miracle Book Review

I was excited to read Mrs. Miracle (Angels) by Debbie Macomber.  I have had it on my to read shelf for a long time. It was a super cute read and I was happy that I got to finally pick it up even though it was after the holidays.  Now I just need to see the movie!!  I will save that search for next holiday season movie list!

Now a TV movie from the Hallmark Channel, Mrs. Miracle is a fan favorite from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber. In this beloved, heartfelt classic, single dad Seth Webster needs help keeping his family together—and it arrives in the form of Mrs. Miracle, a warm, knowing, and very patient nanny who teaches Seth and his family about the magic of faith.

They call her Mrs. Miracle…
Seth Webster's heart never healed after he lost his adored wife. Now, with Christmas approaching, wild twin boys to raise alone, a home in chaos, and the latest in a long line of exasperated housekeepers quitting in disgust, Seth needs more than help to keep his family together...he needs a miracle.
And then one arrives on his doorstep. Her name is Mrs. Merkle, but the kids call her "Mrs. Miracle"—and from the moment the warm, knowing, and very patient nanny appears, everything is different. Her sassy spirit is infectious, and it gives Seth the courage to approach Reba, a beautiful travel agent who's been hurt and betrayed, and is afraid to ever love again. Through the magic of faith—and with a little help from a children's Christmas pageant and a lot of encouragement from Mrs. Miracle—Seth and Reba might just be able to find a Christmas miracle of their very own: true love.

Seth was raising his two children after the death of his wife.  He was trying the best he could but he couldn't get any housekeeper or nanny to stay and help.  When he thought he was out of resources, he finally had Mrs. Merkle walk in the door.  The kids quickly nicknamed her Mrs. Miracle because she was the miracle that they were waiting for.  She brought their family together and made sure that everything worked well for them. You have to pick up the book to find out what happens for this little family and all the people around them from the addition of their miracle right before Christmas.  I hope that you enjoy the book as much as I did!!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Menu Plan Monday 2/4

Monday- Chicken fries, Chicken Wraps and homemade fries
Tuesday- French Dip Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Wednesday- Pasta
Thursday- Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes
Friday- Chicken Tacos with white Rice
Saturday- Leftovers
Sunday- Birthday Party and Leftovers

Last week we had my son's favorite dinner on Monday with chicken wraps for us.  Tuesday was Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese.  Wednesday was Spaghetti which I did with sauce and meatballs.  Thursday was supposed to be chicken and I forgot to take it out so we did leftovers from everything in the fridge.  I made meatball sandwiches for lunch and buffalo mac and cheese, bacon mac and cheese, lo mein, chinese fried rice, grilled cheese and more.  Friday we moved the chicken there and didn't take it out of the freezer again!!  We decided to have Steak Egg Rolls and Simple Fried Rice with peas.  I finally took the chicken out and we had Grilled Spiedies Chicken with white rice on Saturday.  Sunday was cheese mancotti that I had from the freezer which I made a homemade sausage sauce.

I love a week with a plan even if it doesn't go particularly perfectly.  It always helps me at the busiest time of the day.  I am hoping with a plan through the week that we have enough to make it through and now I just have to make sure I take the food out of the freezer!!

Friday, February 1, 2019

January Grocery and Eating Out Budget Review

Every month, I set a monthly budget of $160 for all of our household goods including groceries and anything else we need for our house.  I shop sales, use coupon and stretch my monthly budget as far as I can.  We have a $40 eating out budget so that the total spending is under $200 for the month.

I was looking for some deals this month but didn't know exactly what we should get because I didn't have a clue what my list looked like or my meal plan.  I knew that some meat deals would be great but those are always hard to count on.  I just knew that I was going to work harder to be farther under because the month started out with a lot of eating out expenses that I felt like I had to make up for.  Check out below what I got and all the break downs of what I paid.

Harris Teeter $13.42

I went right after vacation which seemed to bring out the throw it in the cart even if it wasn't the greatest price because I was exhausted.  Maybe not the best plan but I still think that it worked out okay.  I got free Hershey's Gold bars, WeWalka Pie Crust and Individual Pizzas.  The Cascadian Farm cereal was $0.50 per box.  The Cherios were $0.77 for each box.  The Nature Valley and Fiber One bars were $1.47 per box.  The Fruit Gushers were $0.97 per box.  I paid $0.99 for the Poise pads and got a rebate for $3.00 and $0.25 any item through Ibotta.  I ended up getting back $3.00 from Saving Star in rebates too for cereals, Nature Valley and Fruit Gushers.

Harris Teeter $5.49

I got free Skinny Pop, Hormel Bacon Bits, WeWalka Pie Crust, Land o Frost Ham, Stoneyfield yogurt, Screamin Sicilian Pizza, Hershey's Gold bag and bars. I paid for $0.29 for the Finish which was a great deal to add a few more to the stockpile.  I bought the three Mexican Cheese for $1.99 each after coupon and turned them in for $1.75 rebate each.  I also got a $0.25 any item rebate which equaled $5.50 which is more then I spent on the whole transaction.

Harris Teeter $16.23

I got free Skinny Pop and Hormel bacon bits but everything else cost money in this transaction.  The Skippy Peanut Butter was on sale for $1.12 each.  The granola bars were on sale and I had a coupon so they were $1.50 each.  The Finish was $0.29 for each bag.  The Cheez-Its were $0.49 each after the coupons that I bought with my Kelloggs Family Rewards.  The Chex Mix was $0.50 but a family favorite so I grabbed them for our trip snack bag.  The Muir Glen Tomatoes were $0.25 per can. The Cheese Raviolis were $0.24 per bag.  The pork chops were on clearance for $4.60 and I split them into two bags and froze them for two dinners.I got a rebate for the Tomatoes for $0.50 and the Chex for $0.50 from Saving Star.

Harris Teeter $1.91

I was hoping to make it to Super Doubles more this week but I didn't get a chance with a crazy schedule.  I got free Yakisoba noodles and Cooked Perfect meatballs.  The Muir Glen tomatoes were $0.25 each.  The Cascdian Farm cereal was $0.50 per box. The Mahatma Rice was $1.00 per bag.  We were getting low so I thought it would be a good price.

Aldi $2.45

My husband and son were sick and out of saltines which are a sick food staple in our house so I went and grabbed two and chips just in case they wanted to sweat out the cold with some chips and salsa.

Giant $4.22 

I went to the store to get the freebie Kind bar and decided to get more Motrin because we were running low and the price was lower then CVS.  I also grabbed the Ocean Spray because they drank all of the juice in the house and didn't tell me.

Giant $0.07

I went to the store to get two things and this store didn't have inventory...because they never do.  I grabbed my freebie and left. I had to ask where to find it because I looked through the store but it was in the back of produce...weird right?

Safeway $0.00

I went to the store to get my freebie of 32 oz bag of rice since I sadly missed the soy sauce deal I had loaded on my card.  They give you such a small window and the store is a little more of a hike to get there.  There was also a $1 coupon off laundry detergent, open nature store brand, frozen item, and produce.  I decided to get get the produce and frozen item.  The laundry detergent was still pretty pricey so I passed on that one.  I read the one coupon wrong but the cashier overrode it and added another discount for me so that all of the stuff was free.

Giant $5.95

I went to my second Giant of the day to get the Gerber.  I don't know why I do this but I check my sales flyer on Thursday night and then go to the store and things aren't on sale anymore because this is the only store that resets sales on Friday.  They Gerber was on sale the day before but then when I calculated, it was only $0.02 off each one so at least it wasn't a big difference.  After I checked out at the first Giant, I saw another freebie that appeared on my app so I got that and I used a coupon to get the second one free too!!  I actually got a little bit of overage to from the freebie Lara bar so that saved me more then the sale price.  I also turned in the receipt for $0.25 back on Ibotta for any protein bar and $0.50 from Saving Star.

Wegman's $20.48

I needed macaroni and cheese and ground beef.  The mac and cheese was on sale for $0.33 on the individual boxes so it was cheaper to get those then the family pack.  Ground beef is up to $2.49 per pound but still my favorite ground beef and this was divided into 6 bags to make 7 meals.

Aldi $25.92

My last stop of my epic shopping day that I barely made it through my list.  I grabbed a few things that we need and a few treats.  I decided to grab another cake mix for my son's birthday party so that I don't have to make cupcakes from scratch.  I already have the frosting from before for the cake and the cookies for the party.  I also got the chicken that was on sale for $1.49 per pound.  I have to cut it up and freeze it tomorrow.  They were out of gallons of milk so I have to go back another day anyway.  I made the one mistake of not looking downstairs in the freezer because I already had more chicken fries so we are extra stocked with those.

Harris Teeter $0.37

I got a weekend freebie of the cottage cheese and butterfinger.  I had two coupons to get the Tic Tacs and I have been waiting for a holiday special one to get for my son on sale so those were free.  I got the Hershey's bars for free after the coupons. I am not sure what happened but I ended up going in the negative with the coupons so I added the Hershey bar before adding the last coupon.  I mostly just paid tax and I have the presents for my son's Valentine's present.

Aldi $9.53

I went to get milk because we were totally out.  My son told he me that he needed the ice cream so that could choose each night which treat he got for dessert.  I laughed but it is dairy and he likes it so I got them both.  I grabbed a few more cheese because we are running through them quickly so I didn't want to run out.  They probably weren't needed but good to be safe.


Harris Teeter $3.01

I went to the store to get eggs last week and they were out so I had a rain check to use for these.  I also got the Taste and Tell added free to my card for the Chocolate Milk.  I know I should be upset that the guy put a senior discount on the deal but I was excited to save another $0.15.  Got 4 dozen eggs for almost the price of one so it was a great deal which was helpful to start winter baking.


Giant $2.06 

I got a coupon on my app for $1 off the Pink Cranberry juice and we were totally out of the Cran Grape so I knew that my husband would enjoy it until I get some Cran Grape on sale.  I turned in the receipt to get $0.20 back from any item.

Safeway $0 

At the same time there was a freebie added to my app so I stopped and grabbed that deal too.

Aldi $0.21

I went to the store and had to return a bag of mini marshmallows that were stuck into a huge solid mass when I opened them for my son's birthday.  I took them back and got my money back and a replacement.  They didn't have any other mini ones so I got regular ones.  I got a head of lettuce to cover the money back so I only had to pay $0.21.


Harris Teeter $9.98

I went a little crazy with the first day of super doubles with free bacon bits, Cooked Perfect meatballs, finish dishwasher tabs, oatmeal cups, Franks Red Hot Wing Sauce and Franks Stingin Honey Garlic Sauce.  I got Kahiki egg rolls for $0.50 per box.  The Franks sauce was $0.50 per bottle but my husband's favorite brand so even though I have a bunch of Texas Pete, I grabbed some of them because he will enjoy them.  I got the Children's Motrin for $3.99 which is a great savings off the $7.99 shelf price.  The best deal is the Cacique mexican cheese which was $1 each after sale and coupon and there was a $1.75 rebate so it was a money maker and I got $0.20 any item rebate.  There was also a $2.50 rebate on Checkout 51 for the Hormel Bacon.  My total rebates was $7.95!!


Harris Teeter $0.08

I got 6 packages of bacon bits and only paid tax.  I did it as a second transaction because I had a few more coupons left on my card because some coupons didn't double so I didn't want to let anything go to waste!!
 Harris Teeter $2.40

I went to the first Harris Teeter of the day and didn't find a lot of deals that I still had coupons for but I got the free meatballs, oatmeal and bacon.  I grabbed two cans of honey roasted peanuts which were $1.09 each.  Then I realized that there were a ton of rebates that I didn't even know I had but I got $1 back on the peanuts from Ibotta for buying two.


Harris Teeter $0.08

I got a few oatmeal cups to add to my total coupons used up to 8 because of the meatballs were fixed by my cashier.


Harris Teeter $5.84

Went to another Harris Teeter to check their stock after printing the Cheez It coupons from my Kelloggs Family Rewards but I only had enough points for two boxes.  They were $0.50 each after coupon.  The Godiva was on sale for $3.50 and there was a $1.25 coupon so they cost $1.00 and there is a Ibotta rebate for $1.25 each back.  I got free Hormel bacon and oatmeal cups.  More coupons had to be fixed so I was well below my coupon limit but it was time to go home and there weren't any more deals to be had.

Total Retail $586.32
Total Saving $456.62
OOP $129.70

I went to a bunch of stores in the beginning of the month and then took a whole week off.  I made a list of all the deals and decided to hit lots in one day because my son was at a friends house so I had a bunch of time to accomplish it all in one day.  I spent $96 in the first half of the month so not as much as I wanted left for the end of the month.  There was a rumor of super doubles at the end of the month so I was trying to spend very little so that I could have money to get whatever deals were available.

I turned in a lot of rebates and ended up with a total of $27.75 from Ibotta, Saving Star and Checkout 51.  I don't subtract it out of my budget because we transfer that money to PayPal and we consider that more like our "free" or "found" money so we don't want to double count it.

Left on the list is to get Cran Grape, soda, and potatoes.  They are all on sale at Harris Teeter so I will get them at the beginning of the February with the new budget.  We have finally run out of a bunch of stockpile items so I will need to figure out what else needs to be added to our February list.

Eating Out

January is always the hardest month for us because it is my son's birthday and we often get together with others which means more eating out.  We have a monthly budget of $40.  We went to the Cheese Shop in Williamsburg when we were on vacation.  It was $9.43.  We went to Delia's with my parents and we picked up the bill for $68.55.  We had lunch with friends at our house and we got Pizza Hut and we paid $15.90.  We went on a weekend trip for my son's birthday and got Pizza Hut for $8.93.  Then we had my son's birthday party and got Pizza Hut (see it is the month about my son and pizza) which was $31.80.  The total spent for the month was $134.61  which is way over budget.  It is hard to justify but we were basically giving Christmas presents through meals with friends and family instead of getting presents so it happens frequently in January and we eat lots of meals with home cooked food through picnics and more when we could have eaten out so it could have been much worse.