Thursday, September 26, 2019

Menu Plan Monday 9/23

Tacquitos and Mini Tacos/Chicken Fries with french fries
Philly Cheese Steak Pasta
Chicken and Rice Casserole
Pizza Hut
Chicken Fries, Chicken Wraps and Fries

Last week I changed from grilling to ground orange chicken stir fry with snow peas and pot stickers.  It was super tasty and even though I used almost every pan that I owned but kept everything else on the menu in place.

This week, I made a plan and totally didn't post it so I got to change the menu because the week went a little crazy and I didn't get to take food out of the freezer.  I changed French Dip Sloppy Joes to Philly Cheese Steak Pasta because it was easier to defrost the small cooked meat that I already had made.  The Pizza Hut was a late addition because my son earned enough coins with his new system of chores so he picked Pizza Hut.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

On a Clear Day Book Review

I pulled another book off the shelf to read something that I owned and still hasn't gotten a chance to read.  On a Clear Day: An Anthology by Debbie Macomber was a book that contained two stories.  I wasn't sure what was going to be the story but I was interested to find out.


A Man's Future 

Rand Prescott believes that his chances for happiness are limited because he's going blind. But when he meets Karen McAlister one magical starlit night, he begins to imagine a different future—one filled with love. Karen already knows she wants to be with him for the rest of her life. But Rand refuses to consider marriage; he refuses to bind her to a man who can't see. Brokenhearted, Karen is prepared to walk away, but can Rand really let her go?


A Woman's Resolve 

Joy Nielsen is a private nurse and physical therapist who's never been daunted by the challenges of her career. And her latest patient, businessman Sloan Whittaker, isn't going to change that. Confined to a wheelchair after a serious accident, he's lost the will to walk. Joy is determined to make sure he recovers, and once he does, she's prepared to move on to her next patient, no matter how strongly she feels about Sloan. There's only one problem. She doesn't think she can get over him….

The first story is about Rand Prescott who is going blind and thinks that he doesn't deserve to have happiness.  Karen McAlister was at a dance when she met Rand and everything changed.  Karen decides to follow a relationship with Rand and it only leaves her broken hearted.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens.  The second story was about Joy who is a nurse and is working with Sloan as her newest patient.  Sloan is getting over an injury that has him confined to a wheelchair.  Sloan's personality has changed because of the accident and he has pushed away all of his friends and family.  Joy brings a new perspective to his life and tries to change his outlook to improve his health.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens for both of them.  I hope that you check out this book and enjoy the two stories as much as I did.

Friday, September 20, 2019

You Belong with Me Book Review

I got a new book to review from a publisher which has been a long time since I have gotten a book delivered to my mailbox.  I was excited to check out the new book and I just finished reading another book.  You Belong with Me (Restoring Heritage) by Tari Faris was the book inside the envelope that I opened.  Isn't that a pretty cover!!

Realtor Hannah Thornton has many talents. Unfortunately, selling houses in the town where her family name is practically poison isn't one of them. When a business tycoon determines to raze historic homes in the small town of Heritage, Michigan, and replace them with a strip mall, Hannah resolves to stop him. She sets about helping Heritage win a restoration grant that will put the town back on the map--and hopefully finally repay the financial debt Hannah's mother caused the town. But at first no one supports her efforts--not even her best friend, Luke.

Luke Johnson may have grown up in Heritage, but as a foster kid he never truly felt as if he belonged. Now he has a chance to score a job as assistant fire chief and earn his place in the town. But when the interview process and Hannah's restoration project start unearthing things from his past, Luke must decide if belonging is worth the pain of being honest about who he is--and who he was.

Hannah is living in the small town where she grew up and working as a realtor but having problems selling the historic homes to people who don't want to maintain the house.  There are many developers looking to change the town and Hannah doesn't want to see that happen.  It makes it very hard on her career and ability to pay the bills.  Hannah finds about a way to save the town with a restoration grant and comes up with a plan to do it.  Her biggest problem is that she lets her emotions get in the way of thinking about things first.  It is the problem that many of us have so it is very relatable.  Luke also grew up in Heritage and is still trying to find his place.  After being a foster kid, he feels like he doesn't belong in the tight knit community.  His best friend is Hannah and he is the first person that helps her with her missions.  At the same time Luke is going through remodeling his house and trying to make peace with his past.  You have to pick up the book to find out what happens to Hannah and Luke but I know that you will enjoy the ups and downs in this book.  I thought it was a great read that was hard to put down because I kept reading even when I should have been sleeping.  I hope that everyone picks up this book and checks it out.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Not at Eight, Darling Book Review

I had this on my shelf but after starting reading, I think that I might have read it before.  Not At Eight Darling (Silhouette Desire) by Sherryl Woods was on the top of the shelf so it is what I grabbed to read when all my library books were read.

Barrie MacDonald gave everyone involved with the TV sitcom she produced consistently high ratings—except executive Michael Compton. Charmingly persuasive, Michael was clearly interested in Barrie, but he also wanted to reschedule her show, which would be a disaster.

Was Barrie's commitment to the program worth her tuning Michael out completely? She wasn't sure she could deny their attraction. But when she realized the romance of her on-screen heroine was beginning to echo Barrie's real-life dilemmas, she felt that things were getting out of control!

It was interesting to read a book where a lot of things were dates like the phones and no one having cell phones.  It was funny to read all of the Hollywood drama that goes into planning and recording a new television show.  It was fun to set aside the past and see the relationship start to bloom between Michael and Barrie.  They were in business relationship that frequently got in the way of the personal relationship.  Barrie jumps to conclusions a lot and if she was patient and asked questions, this books would be even shorter.  Make sure you pick up the book and find out what happens! I hope that you get a chance to check out this book and I have put it into my pile to get rid of so I don't end up reading it again.  On to the new books in the pile so that I don't read this one again.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Quiet Side of Passion Book Review

I got the last few new books in this series and The Quiet Side of Passion: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel (12) (Isabel Dalhousie Series) by Alexander McCall Smith was the last library book in my pile.  I was excited to find out what happens next and to be caught up on the series.

Isabel finds herself grappling with ethically-complex matters of the heart as she tries to juggle her responsibilities to friends, family, and the philosophical community.  With two small boys to raise, a mountain of articles to edit for the Review of Applied Ethics, and the ever-increasing demands of her niece, Cat, who always seems to need a helping hand at the deli, Isabel barely has any time for herself. Her husband, Jamie, suggests acquiring extra help, and she reluctantly agrees. In no time at all, Isabel and Jamie have a new au pair, and Isabel has an intelligent assistant editor to share her workload. Both women, though, have romantic entanglements that threaten to interfere with their work, and Isabel must decide how best to navigate this tricky domestic situation. Can an employer ever inject herself into her employees’ affairs?

Meanwhile, Isabel makes the acquaintance of Patricia, the mother of Charlie’s friend Basil. Though Isabel finds Patricia rather pushy, she tries to be civil and supportive, especially given that Patricia is raising her son on her own, without the help of his father, a well-known Edinburgh organist, also named Basil. But when Isabel sees Patricia in the company of an unscrupulous man, she begins to rethink her assumptions. Isabel must once again call on her kindness and keen intelligence to determine the right course of action, at home, at work, and in the schoolyard.

This was an interesting change from previous novels because Isabel is trying to make the most of her new life as a mother of two children and trying to run a magazine. She finally agrees to get help so she hires an au pair to help with the kids and assistant editor to help with the magazine.  She realizes that what she should do is say no to Cat's requests to work at the drop of a hat in the deli.  She knows that she has to balance her life and she isn't getting any return help but it goes round and round about how she feels like she should say yes but she decided to get outside help and turns the whole family upside down.  It seems obvious from the beginning to anyone that balances their own life but the whole book goes through how she is getting to that conclusion. I hope that you check out this book and the rest of the series. I know that I really enjoyed the beginning of the series a lot but this one is still up in the air.  I was thinking that I would enjoy getting back to the series but I am not sure if the flowery language is great for me because it seems to take longer to get to the point.  I still like the series but I might take a break from the series for another little bit so that I can see if some of the other series fit better with what I like to read.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Middle of September Budget Update

I worked especially hard to be under budget this month because I knew that I was really far over last month.  It seems like September has been flying by so I am surprised it is already the middle of the month.  With the start of school, I thought I would have more free time but I still seem to be just as busy.  I have been been working hard at shopping sales, using coupons and getting the best deals that I could to fill the pantry, fridge and freezer.  I went a little overboard with some treats to make life easier but overall not a ton of spending for the first half of the month.

Below are all the things that I have gotten for the beginning of the month and the breakdown of the items.  Check out what I got this month so far below.

Aldi $15.10

I decided to go with the biggest bag of rice because I haven't gotten a sale and coupon on the rice at the grocery store so I figured that I would go with the cheapest breakdown which was the 10 pound bag.  We were totally out of Chicken fries, salsa, bananas and pepperoni so those were my main goals.

Harris Teeter $6.39

Super Doubles was under way and I got the Quaker Granola bars for soccer snack which were $0.49 per box.  The Famous Amos Cookies were $0.84 per box...YUM!  The Veggie Straws were $0.64.  The Club Crackers were $1.14.  The lettuce is cheaper at Harris Teeter then Aldi so I always try to get it at HT.  The Hi Chew, Pantene and Bacon bits were all free.  The Hot Dogs were $0.34 and I got to do a rebate on Ibotta for $0.45 for hot dogs and any item.

Harris Teeter $8.05

I got Stonefire Naan to make pizza for dinner that night which was fun and they were only $0.50 per package.  The Famous Amos still $0.84 and the Club Crackers were still $1.14 so grabbed a few more.  The Jif was $2.67 for all 4 which is less then one and makes then $0.67 each.  Added in more of the free bacon bits.

Harris Teeter $11.66

I went a little crazy with the Freschetta for $1.74.  I splurged a little and got the Eggos for my son for $1.25 per box.  The beef jerky was a treat for my husband at $1.47 per bag (way better then $6 shelf price) The Kahki and Prime Fresh meats were both free after evic special and coupon. I got back $0.25 Ibotta for waffles.

Harris Teeter $9.30

Way crazy purchase of prepared foods that we normally don't have but they were $1 per box and I got back $0.50 for each box on Ibotta and any item rebate so I got $4.75 back.

Harris Teeter $17.48

I got a bunch of things that were supposed to be one sale but lots of things didn't ring up correctly so it was a lot of corrections at customer service after crashing the computer because the cashier didn't listen and cover up the scan code on the printed coupons.  Sadly, I got the one person that doesn't give you the free item when it doesn't ring up but I did get almost $13 back to correct the pricing.  The Tontino's Pizza Rolls were $1.47 each and the Pringles were $0.22 each after customer service adjusted.  The pasta was $0.25 per box, the Poptarts were $1 (with more Ibotta rebates).  The Famous Amos were $0.84 per box.  The Freshetta Pizza was $1.74.  The Quaker Rice Cakes and Fruit Love were both free.  Too many tasty treats to pass up but we have been enjoying them!!

Harris Teeter $1.82

I went to the store to get the pasta while it was still on a little bit of a sale for $0.29 each.  We were running pretty low so I was happy to add to the stock pile.

Wegmans $15.21

I got this 6 pounds of meat and made two pounds the first night.  I made one pound into tacos and froze another pound for the Hamburger Helper Philly Cheese steak pasta so that I would have it ready to throw into the meal.  I froze four bags of meat for other meals for the next two months.

Safeway $0

I got a few freebies loaded on to my card and I decided to finally get out and get them.  I enjoyed the smoothie that day for lunch and pizza one night for dinner. YUM!!

Total Retail $308.24
Total Savings $223.23
Total OOP $85.01

Eating Out and Take Out

I have had an epic beginning of the month with no take out or eating out yet this month.  We still have our whole budget of $40 which we are going to save to have a yummy meal after soccer one night probably.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Menu Plan Monday 9/16

Frozen Pizza and Naan Pizza
Chicken and Rice
Salsa Sloppy Joes and hash browns
Pasta (maybe easy chicken parm)
Hot Dogs and Sausages on the Grill
Eating Out/Take Out
Chicken Fries, Chicken Wraps and Fries

Last week we had everything according to plan until I didn't defrost the chicken soon enough for Thursday so I made Philly Cheese Steak Pasta on Thursday.  Friday my husband got some food from DC Slices at work so we had that for dinner instead of leftovers and moved the chicken and rice stir fry to Saturday. We had my son's favorite meal on Sunday.  It was interesting to move the most labor intensive meal to Sundays but it works for our schedule way better.  I am hoping that this week goes just as well but we are getting to the end of the frozen chicken so I need to add that to my shopping list soon.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Menu Plan Monday 9/9

Frozen Pizza
Ground Beef Tacos 
Chicken and Rice
Philly Cheese Steak Pasta
Chicken Fries, Chicken Wrap with tater tots and french fries

I have had a plan or the rough outline of the plan every week but Monday seems to come up as a surprise every week.  This is the plan for the week this week and it has been going pretty well except that I took out the chicken a little late to defrost but I am sure that I will still get dinner on the table.  Last week we did a similar menu except we did naan pizzas and chicken tacquitos instead of frozen pizza and philly cheese steak pasta.  I have been trying to keep things with the same plan so that I can make sure that I get everything defrosted and the meals made.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

August Month End Budget Totals

I can't believe how quickly summer went but how long August seemed.  I spent more then I should have in the first half of the month from our monthly $160 budget but I was hoping to find lots of great deals for the rest of the month to stay under budget.  You can see below if you are interested in what I got for the whole month and stay tuned to the end to see how I did against my budget.

Below is what I got for the month including a picture.  I broke down all of my beginning of the month trips here and the rest of the break downs can be seen below.

Harris Teeter $0.01

Harris Teeter $23.64

Harris Teeter $16.71

Harris Teeter $4.89

Harris Teeter $8.81

Harris Teeter $3.16

Harris Teeter $1.85

Walmart $0 (used Gift Cards)

Aldi $3.64

Harris Teeter $15.71

Aldi $5.71

Harris Teeter $2.98

Giant -$0.06 (found quarter at check out)

Aldi $3.27

Harris Teeter $26.29

I went a little crazy with a few deals that were evic deals including the Capri Sun and the Ore Ida Tater Tots which I didn't have a coupon for but were $0.97 each ($0.25 Ibotta on Juice Boxes).  I grabbed the free Good Belly Yogurt but they rang it up wrong so I had to go to customer service to get money back.  I got the Sweet Tarts, Trolli and Carefree free after sale and coupon.  The loaf of bread was $0.89 and then I turned it in for $1 rebate from Ibotta.  I had to get shortening for the fryer and Aldi has changed to only carrying it seasonally so we were totally out.  I got the Smarty Pants vitamins because a friend recommended them and my son tried them and liked them.... and then I bought them and he hated them but I paid $7.49 after sale and coupon with $19 shelf price.  The Cottonelle was on sale for a good price so I decided to get it because the deals have been fewer so it was $3.87 per package or $0.32 per roll (and there was an $0.50 Ibotta).  I also got $0.10 any item Ibotta.

Harris Teeter -$0.75

I got the Taste and Tell Cracker Barrel for free.  I used the coupons for the Sweet Tarts and Trolli candy for free after sale and coupon so it is was supposed to be free but the one flavor of Trolli didn't ring up at the right price so I went to customer service and they gave me one free and fixed the pricing on the others so that I made a little money on this transaction!!

Giant $0.71

I got a catalina coupon for a free yogurt which was I excited to pick up because I like the lime one.  I got a freebie added to my card for free Nature Valley Crispy Wafers.  I got the free kid fruit for the mandarin orange.  I had a coupon for $1 off so I grabbed $1 of bananas and I thought that I was all set but another electronic coupon came off for the yogurt and it put me in the negative so I grabbed gum because I confused the cashier a lot already.  Then I baffled the new clerk by paying cash because she didn't know what buttons to press. Luckily I had exact change!  I turned in the receipt for $0.10 any item Ibotta.

Aldi $8.86 

We were out of both so I ran in to grab them when we were running errands.

Aldi $24.52

We were down south so I stopped with the whole family to grab some of the cheaper Aldi's things including chips for $0.75 each and the Pretzels for $1.04.  The cheese is $1.45 which is way cheaper then the Aldi's near us.  The stick margarine is $0.84 and the tub margarine is $1.35 which is close in price to our store but we were almost out.  We were almost out of milk so I got that at $1.99 which is close to our store price.  My son added in the sandwich cookies which he has been enjoying for his lunches for school. He also bought a half off pool petz floating pool toy which he wanted but I didn't include it because it doesn't count against the grocery budget.

Harris Teeter $11.20

I started buying my big transaction of things and realized that the cashier had scanned my card but the thing on the screen was surely not it and I had a ton of evic deals so I stopped him and paid for what went through already, making sure that the evics were all in the second half of the transaction.  I quickly went through my coupons and tried to make sure that I gave them everything which was hard because half of the things were in bags and I didn't see them but I figured it out by process of elimination on what was left on the belt.  I had him ring up one more pringles and the coupons and we were all set.  The Jose Ole were $2.99 each.  The Pringles were $3 total or $0.75 per can.  The Finish and the Philly Dips were free.  The peas were on sale for $1.50.

Harris Teeter $4.06

Take two with the correct card and everything went well.  My evic eggs were $.077 each.  The Tillamook cheese was $0.64 after sale and evic coupon.  I got free shampoo, Finish, bagels, bacon bits and Hi Chew.  I accidentally left the Philly Dip out but I only got one in the previous transaction.  There was a $0.25 Ibotta on eggs and $0.10 any item Ibotta.

Harris Teeter $2.75

I got the Gatorade for my husband and did an Ibotta for $0.25.  The Finish and the bacon bits are free.

Harris Teeter $14.49

I got more of the Pringles for my son at $0.75 per can.  I grabbed the Turkey because it was $1.99 after sale and coupon and I should have gotten more so I wouldn't have to buy it at Aldi later but I have had issues getting lunch meat too early even when the dates are far out.  The pumpkin tea is my mom's favorite and it is only available in the winter normally but they didn't have this flavor last year.  I turned in the receipt for $4 Ibotta on the tea and $0.10 any item.

Harris Teeter $9.46

I went a little crazy at the store but I added the free bagels, noodle bowls and bacon to the cart.  I added the Flipz pretzels as a special treat at $0.34 per bag.   The Cranberry Juice was $1.25 each when it was all done because there was an ecoupon that came off and coupons were overriden.  There was a new coupon to get $1.25 off Jif and Smuckers which doubled to $2.50 off so it ended up being $0.88 each and we were out of jelly.  There was a peelie on the Jif for $1 off 2 so I got two more for $0.67 each.

Harris Teeter $1.16

I got three more bags and they were super cheap and very tasty!!

Harris Teeter $28.55

The potatoes were evic price of $0.77 per 5 lb bag limit 2.  I also got the Coke for $2.47 limit 4 evic price.  There was a Taste and Tell on the Fruit Love free.  The Ocean Spray was $1.14 each after sale and coupon.  I got Cheez Its which were buy two, get three free and I had $1/2 coupon so they were $1.50 per box.


Total Retail $1,014.50
Total Savings $792.88
Total OOP $221.62

I knew that the budget was gone before the end of the month and I ended up going over for $61.62.  I have had a harder time getting deals lately and we were running low on a few things.  When I am over by that much, it makes it hard to point to one thing that went wrong this month.

I know that I didn't need to buy as much junk food but we spent a lot of time having picnics in August so that we could do things on the go and not pay for take out of eating out all the time.  We probably didn't need more soda either but it was a good price that was hard to pass on.

The only good part is that the monthly average is $168.93 for the year so far so I am not super far outside the budget.  We will see what the rest of the year brings but the coupons are getting more scarce locally so I might have to see what I can do or raise the budget that I have used for the last 10 years.

Eating Out

It was the last month of summer break and it was like vacation all month long to get the most out of summer.  My son had a gift card for Sweet Frog which we used over the summer to get free ice cream every time I went to physical therapy and we reached the end of the gift card and we paid for the rest out of my change purse but I don't remember how much it was but $0.46 is stuck in my head.  I got a coupon for a free cookie at Potbelly from the adult summer reading program so we stopped to get that and my son picked the chocolate brownie cookie which he didn't like but it was amazing and it was $0!!  

We went to the local movie theater to see a movie on $2 Tuesday so the three of us got tickets for $6 and we splurged on two buckets of popcorn because it was $5.75 for the first and $1 for the refill ($6.75 towards the Eating Out budget because movie tickets don't count).  

We got a gift card for a local restaurant so we got pizzas from there for dinner one night.  It was super yummy and gave us lots of leftovers and we spent $0.  We went to Domino's and got free bread twists and spent $0 after coupon from the library summer reading program. Pizza Hut was calling to us after after another busy day so we spent $12.72 on that and ate it at home.  

We went to Red Robin after a day out exploring Great Falls National Park and a nearby playground so we were starving after skipping lunch but used a gift card to spend $10.85 after that.  We had a tasty lunch/dinner meal.

I realized that we also went to Starbucks a few times this summer for cookies but we have lots of gift cards but I don't know when we went.  I had a $5 gift card from the adult summer reading program and many other gift cards from my son's birthday and other gifts so we haven't spent any money out of pocket on our special treats.  He also had a coupon for McDonald's to get a free ice cream cone from his summer reading program which he enjoyed with his best friend.

This was a lot of eating out and the most amazing thing is that we were well under budget for the month with all of these things because of some well used gift cards from Swagbucks, My Points, Birthday presents, Reading Programs and more.  It is great to get to enjoy the summer and only spend $30.32 for the month.