Monday, February 27, 2017

2017 Goals Week 9

1. Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
Sad news that our last potential old house owner fell through.  It looks like it will have to be torn down.  That will take a backseat to finishing the new house.  I also added finish the property to this goal.  Construction takes a toll on the yard which needs work.  That portion will be a multiple year process.

2.  Plan ahead for Birthday and Holiday Gifts
I found a great deal on a set of toddler board books.  I ordered those for our nephew who will be two later this year.  The price made it worth ordering in advance.

3.  Use the Garden to be More Self-Sufficient
I did not get the lemon balm dehydrated and will try to work on that this week.  I was happy to find that W took good care of the plants while I was sick.  I will share more on that Wednesday in a garden post.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I did finish the garden class, which was my second class of the year.  I got some good ideas on how to improve my garden and make it a refuge.  I did not start on a new class last week but will get to that this week.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
W got a free hat that he did not want.  It will go into a 10-14 year old boy shoebox.  I hope to crochet several wash cloths this week.

6.  Boost Savings
I put some extra money toward the credit card debt this week.  We have paid on one-third of it so far this year. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Weekend Book Review: Harvest

Harvest by Stefani Bittner & Alethea Harampolis is a wonderful blend of a garden book, a cookbook, and a crafting book.  Forty-seven plants are featured.  Along with growing information, each plant has a corresponding project.  These range from flower arrangements to beauty products to recipes.  Some plants and uses were familiar to me, but many were new.  I would have loved the book for the growing and harvest information alone. 

The plant and project photographs are stunning and add to the enjoyment of the book.  Harvest would be a perfect gift for the gardener in your life especially one who prefers growing plants that are a bit unusual.  A word of caution:  reading this book may cause you to start searching the internet for where to buy Australian finger lime or pineapple guava plants.  My husband and I have chosen those as well as bay laurel and artichoke to add to our property.  I was pleased to find plants such as bee balm, thyme, pomegranate, and borage that already grow in my garden.  As a bonus the projects are elegantly simple enough for anyone to do leaving you plenty of time to work in the garden!

disclosure:  I received this book from Blogging for Books but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

A Measure of Murder by Leslie Karst is the second book in the Sally Solari Mystery series.  Since I enjoyed the first I was looking forward to this book.  Sally finds herself joining the local chorus singing Mozart's Requiem.  The chorus is thrown into chaos when one of the singers falls to his death during the first rehearsal.  Sally sets out to solve the murder when running two restaurants.  While I enjoyed the mystery, I wish Sally's life was a bit calmer.  I have no idea how she can do have of the things she does: chorus, two restaurants, active social life, and extra long bike rides.  Just reading about everything exhausts me.  This is not enough to be a negative - yet.  I do think it could become annoying if it does not change in future books.

Miranda James' book, Twelve Angry Librarians, is book eight in the Cat in the Stacks Mystery series. I was happy to get back into the world of librarian Charlie and his Maine Coon cat, Diesel.  Charlie's employer, Athena College, is hosting the Southern Academic Libraries Association conference.  As if that were not stressful enough, one of the attendees is his least favorite person from library school.  Gavin Fong seems to be everyone's least favorite person.  When he is murdered, the suspect list is massive.  This book is just as good as the last one in the series and easily stands on its own.  Charlie, Diesel, and the other characters are charming.  The mystery portion of the book was very good.  A few other side plots to the mystery fit in perfectly and added to the overall story.  I look forward to many more books in this series.

Smugglers and Scones by Morgan C Talbot is the first book in the Moorehaven Mysteries series.  Pippa run the Moorehaven Bed and Breakfast, former home to mystery author Richard Moore and open only to mystery authors.  When Pippa rescues a boat pilot in the middle of the night, she has no idea the secrets that have been just below the surface of Seacrest.  I absolutely loved the twist to the bed and breakfast with the only guests being mystery writers.  The book flowed smoothly, and the characters were engaging.  It is an excellent start to a new series, and I am already anxiously awaiting a second book.

disclosure:  I received these e-books from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Frugal Friday

I mentioned yesterday that I had been sick.  I was under the weather most of the past week.  W did make one quick run to the dollar store to pick up a few things.  Otherwise we have both stayed close to home.  He stayed clear of me, and I stayed clear of him.  Thankfully he avoided getting sick.  I did realize that I need to stock up on a few "sick person" items over the next few weeks.  It would have prevented the extra run to the store.

Unfortunately I got very little of what I had on my list done this week.  Fortunately none of it was pressing.

I had managed to do some work in the garden.  I finished weeding one bed that had the most herbs sprouting.  I have stevia, marshmallow, blue hyssop, chamomile, and yarrow growing again from last year.  It is frugal in that I will not need to replace those.

We skipped grocery shopping this week.  I had plenty of things for Warren to take in his lunch.  He had milk and cereal so we can make do with everything else.

I received a free product coupon from a sweepstakes I had entered.  That was a nice surprise.  I will use it to get a package of bagels.  I also received an assortment of coupons from the grocery store I shop at most often.  I was happy to note that all were for items I already buy.

Those are the highlights from the past week.  I hope to stay healthy and accomplish more in the coming week!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

52 New Recipes Weeks 6 & 7

I apologize for being late with this post.  I have been under the weather for a bit with two different things at two separate times.  In between I did manage to try two new recipes.

For week six I made popovers.  I had wanted to try them forever, but I just never got around to it.  One day we were having ham and corn chowder for lunch, and I decided popovers would be a nice addition.  We liked them well enough that I plan to get a popover pan so they can be done properly.  I did not get a picture as I simply felt too bad.  We also ended up with a guest that day so all of the popovers were eaten.

Week 7 had a few days when I felt better.  We were having a meal of leftovers from the Valentine Banquet at church.  Our pastor had asked me to make rolls.  At the last minute I decided to make a dessert.  I had seen a recipe from King Arthur Flour for a Tanyard Farm Buttermilk Cake.  I had all of the ingredients on hand, and it was basic to make.

At the time I did not take a photo.  It was late, and I figured I would have plenty leftover.  The plan was to get a good picture the following day.  This is what I brought home:

I cannot begin to tell you how much everyone loved this cake.  I thought there was going to be a fight for the extra pieces.  I was not going to step in the middle of that just to get a piece for a photo.  Instead you get a picture of the empty pan, which I say is the best sign of how good a cake was.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend this cake.  The crowd I served this to is hard to please.  For them to argue over who would take the extra pieces home means it was very good.

I have no idea what I will make for week 8, but I am certain that I will find something.

Monday, February 20, 2017

2017 Goals Week 7

1.  Completely Finish the New House
The second potential owner of our old house never got back to us.  We have another person coming this week.  Third times the charm, right?  I sure hope so.  I continued to work on the yard by cleaning up an area of the property which will become our turkeys' new home in a few weeks.

2.  Plan ahead for Birthday and Holiday Gifts
I ordered another book for the next birthday girl.  We will not be going to the party.  I will give the gift to my mother-in-law to deliver and save the cost of shipping.

3.  Use the Garden to be More Self-Sufficient
I dehydrated more stinging nettle.  I have enough dried nettle so I will pick the rest and dry it in the greenhouse to feed to the chickens.  Next on my dehydrating list is lemon balm.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I did not watch any lessons from the gardening class last week.  I do plan to finish the last two lessons this week and maybe start on a cooking class.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
I crocheted a few more wash cloths.  W won several small flashlights at our church's Valentine Banquet.  Those will go into the shoeboxes as we have plenty of flashlights.

6.  Boost Savings
Nothing special toward this goal this past week.  I do hope to find a bit of spare money in the budget this week though.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Frugal Friday

W requested two cakes for work for a dinner.  I made a coconut cake and a red velvet cake from scratch.  I do not know the current bakery prices, but I expect I made both for less than one would have cost to purchase.

I used my newly purchased soil sifter to sift through the excess dirt in the chicken house.  That was added to a new raised bed.

We sold a few rabbits and excess roosters.

I ordered an 8x10 print for free from CVS.  I chose some free subway art that I can put in a picture frame to display during the spring.

I made bread crumbs using a bunch of end pieces from homemade bread that I stashed in the freezer.

W had a friend visiting around dinnertime and invited him to eat with us.  We had a simple meal of ham and potato soup with popovers.  W said that he went on and on about how good the soup was.  It goes to prove that meals need not be expensive or elaborate when having guests.

I dehydrated more stinging nettle from the garden. 

I received a $5 Amazon card from Microsoft Rewards.

I did the usual - hung clothes to dry, packed W's work lunch, cooked meals at home, etc.