Thursday, October 20, 2016

Six Days in Leningrad by Paullina simons - TLC Book Tour

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (September 20, 2016)

From the author of the celebrated, internationally bestselling The Bronze Horseman saga comes a glimpse into the private life of its much loved creator, and the real story behind the epic novels. Paullina Simons gives us a work of non-fiction as captivating and heart-wrenching as the lives of Tatiana and Alexander.

Only a few chapters into writing her first story set in Russia, her mother country, Paullina Simons travelled to Leningrad (now St Petersburg) with her beloved Papa. What began as a research trip turned into six days that forever changed her life, the course of her family, and the novel that became The Bronze Horseman. After a quarter-century away from her native land, Paullina and her father found a world trapped in yesteryear, with crumbling stucco buildings, entire families living in seven-square-metre communal apartments, and barren fields bombed so badly that nothing would grow there even fifty years later. And yet there were the spectacular white nights, the warm hospitality of family friends and, of course, the pelmeni and caviar.

At times poignant, at times inspiring and funny, this is both a fascinating glimpse into the inspiration behind the epic saga, and a touching story of a family’s history, a father and a daughter, and the fate of a nation.


About the Author

Paullina Simons is an internationally bestselling author whose novels include Bellagrand and The Bronze Horseman was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she immigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children.

Find out more about Paullina at her website, follow her on Twitter, and connect with her on Facebook.


My Thoughts

I've often wondered how authors get inspired, how they do research or what drives them to write the stories they do.  In Six Days in Leningrad, I actually got to see a bit of that process as I followed Paullina Simons and her dad on a trip to the place of her birth.

The book title actually refers to the six days she spent in Russia doing research for her book The Bronze Horseman.

I love history, I love memoirs and I think in this book you get a little of both, plus it feels like we've traveled to Russia and learned a bit more about the country.  To be honest the only real stories I've ever heard about Russia have not been exactly positive, it tends to instill a sort of fear into people.

I guess for the author it was sort of the same thing.  She left when she was very young, immigrating to the States and more specifically New York.  She had never returned, nor did she ever feel the yearn to do it, so when her father asks her to accompany him to the place of her birth, she tells herself that it's just for research.

Thing is, when they arrive, she is hit with wave upon wave of emotion.  She is forced to face her past, to walk the streets of Leningrad, to see the deplorable way in which some families still live to this day.  Mind you this is not the current Russia, this was back in 1998, but it still gives you a pretty good idea of the comparison between the pretty and flashy and the parts of Russia still trying to recover from Communism.

I so enjoyed this book, because as with many other memoirs or historical fiction, it sets me on a path to research.  I find myself putting the book down and opening google to look up a place, see it's images, try to place myself there and learn more about it's history.

I don't think many people understand the devastating history of Russia, but it's well worth a read.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Grocery Haul - Weeks October 22nd to November 5th

Hello ladies, I'm back with another grocery haul.  I just went grocery shopping this morning, at the base commissary.  I can't tell you how blessed I am to be able to continue shopping on base.

I worked on my menu plan and grocery list yesterday, went through the freezer, fridge and pantry to see what I had on hand and worked out the meal plan around that.

Once again, this was the food shop for the next 2 weeks, and I managed to do quite well, spending only a total of $144.69.

Proud of myself.

I'll show you what I got, and then share the menu plan beneath.  :)

Grocery Haul

Two loaves of bread, two packs of the burrito style tortillas to make some freezer burritos for lunches.  3 bags of chips, I get the pretty inexpensive ones which are still good.  I find chips so expensive lately.

Grocery Haul

Didn't need too much, so just a few things for the fridge.

Grocery Haul

Gallon of milk which I thought was quite expensive at over $3 a gallon, it's cheaper at Walmart.  Orange juice, creamer, sour cream and butter.

Grocery Haul

I got 4 dozen eggs, they were only 69 cents.  These will be great not only for breakfast but as a quick meal if needed too.  Turkey Bologna, Pepperoni for homemade pizzas.

Grocery Haul

Potatoes O'Brien for a Nacho Casserole I'm making, and some Mixed veggies for Shepherd's pie.

Grocery Haul

I had a 50c coupon for these, so got a provolone and a pepper jack.  They're only a little over a dollar to begin with so it wasn't bad. 

Grocery Haul

Swiss cheese singles for sandwiches

Grocery Haul

Had another 50c coupon for these shredded cheese.  I know they're not as good as shredding your own, but I just buy them for the convenience and the Cooper Brand are usually super cheap.

Grocery Haul

My family loves these for lunches, and they're usually 2 dollars something, but today they were over $3, so I only bought one and then bought some ingredients to make my own.

Grocery Haul

Chicken Thighs.  I always get these bags because they're cheap and usually have enough for 2 meals, depending on what I'm making.

Grocery Haul

The two pizzas I got for lunches, a thin crust pepperoni and a special deluxe pizza.  These were only $2.75 each.

Grocery Haul

Potatoes were on sale, a 10 lb bag for just $1.69 so I got 2 of those.  I'm thinking side dishes, potato soup, baked potato for a quick lunch etc.

Grocery Haul

Grocery Haul

Seedless grapes.  I've been loving grapes lately and they're pretty cheap right now so I'm either buying the green or the red. 

Grocery Haul

Red leaf lettuce, it was 75c.

Grocery Haul

Green onions, I don't buy them often because I grow my own from these bunches and they last me a month or two.

Grocery Haul

2 medium sized tomatoes, 2 green peppers and a bag of onions.  I always buy these bags because they're only 99c.

Grocery Haul

3 cans of Pinto beans, kidney beans, 2 cans of refried beans, 3 cans of Rotel tomato and green chilies, cheddar cheese soup for a recipe, pizza sauce, tomato sauce and pumpkin puree.

Grocery Haul

Vegetable oil, a small bottle of olive oil and some ranch dressing.

Grocery Haul

I have quite a bit of machine coffee which I need to use up, but I bought a small Nescafe Clasico for a quick cup of coffee here and there.  Skip creamy peanut butter, my 13 year old son has been going through peanut butter like crazy.

Grocery Haul

Box of black beans and rice to use as a side dish, some Jambalaya mix for a meal (I already have smoked sausage in the freezer), hamburger helper (not a fan but my family likes it), 15 bean soup mix, two taco seasoning packets.

Grocery Haul

Sweet n low for the hubby and I, and some active dry yeast for bread and other baking, I had run out.

Grocery Haul

Don't usually get this rice, we prefer the Basmati, but it's quite pricey for a small bag, so I got this big 5lb bag for a little over 2 dollars.

Grocery Haul


Grocery Haul

Some roasted vegetable crackers, they were on sale.  Instant oatmeal, my daughter loves these.  Krave cereal which was only sale as well for $2. 

Grocery Haul

As always, ramen noodles.

Grocery Haul

These were on sale for a dollar so I got a pepsi for my son, a diet coke for me, a dr pepper for the hubby and a coke for the daughter.  We all like different things.  And these are pretty much the only soda I got for the rest of the month, there is juice, kool aid, sweet tea and water to drink the other days.

Grocery Haul

2 packs of treats for Bella.  2 boxes of the U by Kotex pads, and a cheapy hair color for me. 

Grocery Haul

I was supposed to get trash bags and mine have to be 39 gallon because we have a pretty big trash can.  I thought I grabbed the, and when I got home I realized I grabbed lawn and leaf bags, bummer.  But it will have to make do, I can't justify going out and buying more bags.  Dishwasher tabs, I actually really like these, they work well in my washer and are only 2 dollars something.  Some dish soap, it's only 79c.

Grocery Haul

Still have toilet paper but don't want to run out, that's like my fear hahaha  So I got a small 6 pack.

Grocery Haul

Paper plates, and below these 3 baking foil dishes which were on sale for 75c.

Grocery Haul

And that is it, that was my grocery haul for the rest of the month and a week into November.

I don't know how the next meal plan and grocery haul is going to be, I truly hope my husband has a job lined up by then otherwise we are in serious trouble.  But, we will cross that bridge when we get there.

Hope you enjoyed my grocery haul.  Now for the meal plan, and I'll kind of explain each meal, if I'm using leftovers or something already on hand etc.  Might give you some ideas on how to make use of what you already have in the fridge, freezer and pantry. 

Most of the meals I'm making are using meats I already have in the freezer and items I have sitting in the pantry, so I'll tell you below which is which, like I said, it may give you some ideas :)

Remember last time I went shopping the ground beef was on sale so I bought extra, which is what I'm using for a lot of the meals this time.

Saturday 22nd
Roast Chicken with roast potatoes (Have a whole chicken in the freezer so using that)

Sunday 23rd    - 
Chicken Alfredo (use leftover roast chicken, and have a jar of Alfredo sauce in the pantry that I haven't used yet)

Monday 24th  - 
Shepherd's Pie and Salad (Ground beef from the freezer)

Tuesday 25th  -
Crockpot Chicken Philly Cheesesteaks, Fries (Have a bag of chicken legs I didn't use from last meal plan, going to use that.  Will also make my own hoagie buns to use)

Wednesday 26th  -
Spaghetti, Garlic Bread (Ground beef from the freezer, Spaghetti sauce I had in the pantry, and garlic bread I had in the freezer that hadn't been used yet)

Thursday 27th  -
Ranch Chicken Thighs with Mash (Chicken thighs I bought, ranch dressing dry mix that I have in the pantry)

Friday 28th  - 
Beef Stroganoff with Egg Noodles (Ground beef from the freezer, Egg noodles I have in the pantry)

Saturday 29th
Amish Chicken Pot Pie (Leftover Ranch chicken, making my own dough)

Sunday 30th  -
Indian Fry Bread Tacos with Refried Beans with bacon and chilies (Ground beef from the freezer, will make the fry bread.  The refried beans side dish is a new recipe and aside from the refried beans I bought today, I already have bacon and canned green chilies)

Monday 31st  -
Smoked Sausage Jambalaya, Salad (Smoked sausage from the freezer)

Tuesday 1st  -
Beef and Potato Nacho Casserole (Ground beef from the freezer, canned green chilies and tomatoes from the pantry.  New recipe and will share it on the blog when I make it)

Wednesday 2nd  -
Biscuits and Gravy, Bacon, Eggs  (homemade biscuits, have 2 packets of sausage gravy in the pantry so I'll use that, and also have bacon that I didn't need to buy)

Thursday 3rd  -
Hamburger Helper (Ground beef from the freezer)

Friday 4th  -
Feijoada (Portuguese bean stew.....using dried beans that I have in the pantry, bacon I already have and tomato sauce I bought today)

Saturday 5th  -
Homemade Pizza

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Updated the food blog!

Did you hear that?  That was the sound of people all over the world, gasping in shock.

I took a few moments today to update the food blog and add a few recipes, I still have a few more to get on there when I get a chance, but at least it's a start right?

Here are the recipes just newly added.....

Chipotle Burrito Bowls

Chipotle Burrito Bowls

Pumpkin Donuts

Pumpkin Donuts with Buttermilk Glaze

Philly Cheesesteak Star

Philly Cheesesteak Star

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Monday, October 17, 2016

New member in the family


Well ladies, I want you to say hello to the newest member of our household.

This is Marley!!!

After losing Lola almost 3 months ago, my heart has been so sore and so sad.  For the longest time I told my husband and kids, that I didn't think I would ever be able to have another pet.  I was certain of it, I wanted nothing to do with it.

It's like I felt that I would be betraying my Lola, that she wouldn't understand and be upset.  I know it's ridiculous to think about, but it honestly was the kind of thoughts that swirled in my head.

Over the past 2 or 3 weeks, I have found myself missing having a pet.  I wanted one to sleep with me, I wanted to be able to pick him up and hug him and kiss him and play and feel that joy again.

On Wednesday of last week, my husband said to me "you know if you want another pet, get one".

One thing I knew I wanted was a puppy.  I'm weird like that.  I mean I wouldn't mind giving an older dog a home, after all our Bella was already 5 years old when we rescued her, but I just wanted a puppy to raise from little with us.  To be able to get him used to our house and the way we do things, where with an older one they already have a certain way of doing things and you don't know what they've been through or what homes they were brought into.

Anyway, we headed to the Humane Society and at first we were told that they had Chihuaha puppies and I thought, that's it, that's what I want.

I had seen the puppies, I had picked one out and then they told us they had some puppies that were a little older and did we want to see them.  We said yes, just for the heck of it.


And that is when I saw him.

He has the sweetest nature and quite a shy personality.  I knew that was it, I didn't want the Chihuaha anymore, this little boy was mine.

His momma is a Labrador and they're not sure on the dad, but they think Australian Shepherd. He is 5 weeks old, and I'm just so glad we were able to rescue him.

That means, he is not going to be a little lap dog which I've always had.  He is going to be medium sized and they estimate between 35 and 55 pounds.  Goodness!!!

But I love him, and in just a little less than a week, he has captured mine and everyone else's hearts.


I'm not going to lie, on the drive home I felt teary eyed. It made me miss my girl Lola even more and I had a bit of a panic moment where I thought "Oh I hope she doesn't hate me for this, I'm not trying to replace her".

I'm sure she doesn't, and I'm equally sure that I have enough love to give this little fella without ever taking away from the love and the bond I shared with Lola.

I did, however, forget what I handful puppies are. But he's actually not that bad and as the days have gone by, he's become more accustomed to us, he feels safe, he feels at home and he's calmed down a bit and takes a lot more naps.

Thank goodness, cause I am way too old for a baby in the house hahaha

Anyway, I wanted to introduce you all to Marley, and if any of you have one just like him or know exactly how big he will get, I would love to hear about it or see pics :)


Happy Homemaker Monday - 10/17/2016

Happy Monday friends!

I feel like this weekend just got away from me and we're back on a full new week ahead.  Goodness.

I've been quite busy this past week, I had intentions of coming in to say hi and put a few more posts up and then just didn't have the time, and I'll let you know why in a different post, which I'll have up after this one.  Anyway, are you ready to see what is going on in our homemaker lives?

Let's go......

The weather outside is::::
Last week we had cool temperatures and it actually felt like Fall.  The past few days however, haven't been very fall like, just a lot of wind which is making my allergies flare up.  Looks like the whole week we're looking at upper 80 degrees and sunshine.  I'm so ready for cooler days folks.

On the breakfast plate this morning::::
Was up at 6am and had a cup of coffee to wake me up.  I'm currently fixing some toast and another cup of coffee.

As I look outside my window:::
This is my view from where I sit. 

Right now I am::::
In the living room, I've watched a few youtube vlogs but took a break to get this post up.

As I look around the house::::
Need to do some carpet cleaning today and just pick up a few odds and ends, here and there, but the house is clean and tidy for the most part.

On today's to do list::::
Laundry....Have my son's and daughter's laundry to do.  They each have their own bathroom so they bring me their laundry baskets when full.
Kitchen....Need to do last night's dishes.  I never leave them but had such a headache after dinner that I couldn't even bring myself to do them.  Also need to tidy up the kitchen and clean the counters.
Homeschooling....both kids are still behind.  We were without internet for 5 days and it just completely threw them off schedule.  What a pain.
Cooking.....Lunch will be french bread pizzas.  Dinner is Chicken Korma with rice.

Happening this week::::
Monday.....Carpet cleaning, housework
Tuesday....Paint bedroom furniture
Wednesday....Wash all windows

Currently reading::::
Six Days in Leningrad, for an upcoming book review. 

On the TV today::::
Hubby and I are watching the new Supernatural that started last week.  I also want to watch a few more vlogs.

On the menu this week::::
Monday - Chicken Korma with Rice
Tuesday - Sausages with Tomato and Onion, Homemade Noodles 
Wednesday - Amish Chicken Pot Pie
Thursday - Zuppa Toscana
Friday - Enchiladas, Mexican Rice
Saturday -
Sunday -

Need to make the new menu plan, thankfully when the hubby and I were last at the commissary, the ground beef was pretty inexpensive so we picked a few extra.  I am going to go through my freezer and pantry to see what I have and what I can make with what is available.  

What I am creating at the moment::::
Working on a small little blanket for a puppy. 

New recipe I tried or want to try this week::::
The Philly Cheesesteak Star, made it last night and it was so good. 

Favorite photo from the camera::::

Prayers, Inspirational Quotes or Devotionals::::

PLEASE, don't add links to this list that are not part of the Happy Homemaker Monday. I've asked numerous times, and I'm frankly quite tired of having to remove links to other posts that shouldn't be in this list. Please be respectful of my request!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Blame it on the Cowboy - TLC Book Tour

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books (September 27, 2016)
Every cowboy has a wild side—all it takes is the right woman to unleash it… 
All of Logan McCord’s carefully laid plans erupt the day he walks in on his would-be fiancĂ©e getting…well, not so carefully laid. Tonight, just once, Logan is acting on instinct. And that instinct is telling him to say “Happy to oblige” to the cute stranger looking for a no-strings fling with a Texas cowboy.
When chef Reese Stephens made her bucket list, she mistakenly thought she had weeks to live. Not that she regrets her one-night-stand with the gorgeous rancher. But she does regret leaving an heirloom watch as a parting gift. Tracking Logan down is easy. Walking away again is another matter. Because Reese’s crazy past and Logan’s battered heart are no match for the kind of chemistry that could turn one night into the start of a passionate lifetime.


 About the author:

USA Today bestselling author, Delores Fossen, has sold over 70 novels with millions of copies of her books in print worldwide. She’s received the Booksellers’ Best Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and was a finalist for the prestigious Rita ®. In addition, she’s had nearly a hundred short stories and articles published in national magazines.

Connect with Delores

Website | Facebook | Twitter


 My Thoughts:

This is the last in the McCord Brothers trilogy.  Unfortunately for me, I hadn't read the previous two books, but I didn't feel like I was completely lost on who was who.

Cowboys?  I think all women have this special little spot in their hearts for a good ol' country boy, especially a cowboy.  Right?

Well Logan is the epitome of a cowboy, he is good looking, he is a rancher and he is hard working.  Having found his fiancee in a compromising situation, he is quick to try and drown his sorrows in a local bar, and that is when he meets Reese.  She makes him an offer he can't refuse and they spend the night together.  No strings attached!!!

Problem is that a few months later, Reese is back in town looking to get something she left with Logan during their one night stand.  See she thought she was dying and had compiled a bucket list, of which one item consisted of the hot night stand she shared with Logan.  

 Much as they want to avoid it, the chemistry between the two is through the roof and there's no way that they will let the other out of their sight....problem is that around this time, is when Logan's ex fiancee decides to make a comeback and a play at getting him back.

 This story was so much fun to read, between the awkward moments between the two trying to convince themselves that there's nothing there, to the towns people running their mouths, and some very funny laugh out loud moments.

 I do wish I had read the two previous books in the trilogy, maybe I need to find them and do just that.


Delores Fossen’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Wednesday, September 28th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, September 29th: Dog-Eared Daydreams – spotlight
Friday, September 30th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Friday, September 30th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy
Monday, October 3rd: The Sassy Bookster
Wednesday, October 5th: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, October 6th: The Romance Dish
Monday, October 10th: Books and Spoons
Tuesday, October 11th: A Bookaholic Swede – spotlight
Wednesday, October 12th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, October 13th: It’s a Reading Thing
Monday, October 17th: Mignon Mykel Reviews
Tuesday, October 18th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Wednesday, October 19th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Tuesday, October 25th: Books and Bindings
TBD: The Bookish and the Romantic – spotlight
TBD: Back Porchervations
TBD: Romancing the Readers