Monday, May 22, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 21

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
My big plans for last week were sidelined by a bad sinus infection.  I did managed to get some work done on the front porch but not nearly as much as I had hoped.  W did build a base for the craft room storage cabinet he bought.  This week I will work on organizing my craft room and maybe do some sanding on the front door.  I work on the front porch projects a little at a time over the next few weeks.  I did order a doorbell for the house since the price dropped.  I planned to get a wireless one as those have worked well for us in the past.

2.  Plan ahead for Birthday and Holiday Gifts
I have asked W about his dad's gift, but he is still thinking.  I think I will order the book closer to my niece's birthday and just have it straight shipped to her.

3.  Use the Garden to be More Self-Sufficient
The garden work lately has been maintenance.  I do need to pull some weeds this week.  Wednesday I also have the last of this year's new fruit plants to share with you.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I finished the succulents class and really enjoyed it.  I started a class on Classic Desserts and made an apple cobbler from the first lesson.  I only plan to make one dessert a week so I will be doing a second class alongside this one.  I will get started on it later in the week.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
No progress again on this.

6.  Boost Savings
We added a bit of extra money to the credit card debt.  I should have this completely knocked out in a couple of months.  That will free up money to build up the savings account and start saving for a few outdoor projects.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

YumUniverse Pantry to Plate by Heather Crosby is a vegan/vegetarian cookbook.  I am always on the lookout for good vegetarian recipes.  Unfortunately I did not find many that I could convince my family to try.  I had a couple of problems with this book.  The author includes a wide variety of recipes for homemade basics such as enchilada sauce.  I was disappointed that a recipe for corn tortillas was not included.  They are easy to make at home.  If I am making enchilada sauce, I would want a great tortilla to pair with it.  My second problem is with the subtitle:  Improvise Meals You Love - From What You Have! The latter part is where the author lost me.  Maybe all vegetarians have the ingredients she uses, but I do not.  Pysllium husk (whole and ground), garbanzo bean flour, and rapadura are not commonly found in my pantry.  I feel that healthy recipes should not be so complicated. This book missed the mark for me.

Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades--Bastes, Butters, & Glazes, Too is a great collection for any barbecue fan.  I am thinking this would be a wonderful Father's Day gift.  This is an updated version.  I ended up marking so many recipes that I knew I needed the paperback version.  The recipes include easy to find ingredients and cover a wide variety.  Since I started cooking from scratch, I find bottled barbecue sauces less than impressing.  This book offers so many that I will have no problem finding several I love.  This is a must have for any barbecue lover!

The Most Misused Stories in the Bible by Eric J Bargerhuff is an explanation of  fifteen Bible stories that are often misrepresented.  I have to admit that I have not heard most of the misrepresentations.  While it is interesting, it is closer to a short devotional book.  I appreciated the multiple Biblical references to back up the author's explanations.

Pat Olski's Crochet Stories:  Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland provides patterns for all of the characters from the book.  The patterns are clear and easy to follow even for a beginner.  The photos of each character are very helpful as well.  I think a set of the crocheted characters and a copy of Alice in Wonderland would make a great gift.  This is an excellent book for anyone just starting to crochet dolls.

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White is a cross between women's fiction and mystery.  Recently divorced Merilee and her two children rent a house from Sugar, who is a 90+ year old true southern woman.  An anonymous blogger seems intent on hindering Merilee from starting over by airing much of her family's dirty laundry.  Her friendship with the practically perfect Heather feels like the only bright spot.  One tragic night threatens everything and opens closets full of skeletons Merilee would rather keep hidden.  The book dragged at times with the blog posts being the only bright spot.  The last quarter of the book was by far the best.  It kept me reading until I finished.  Overall this was a good, southern themed book and makes me interested in reading more by the author.

The second book in the Kitty Couture Mystery series by Julie Chase is Cat Got Your Cash.  I had read the first book in the series, but I do not think it would be necessary.  Lacy's meeting with fashion designer Annie Lane is a disaster when Lacy finds Annie dead.  Lacy ends up caring for Annie's two Siamese kittens until the estate is settled.  The kittens end up cat-napped, and Lacy finds herself being stalked.  She works with Detective Jack Oliver to find the murderer and save herself and the Siamese.  I enjoyed this book as much as the first.  The characters and setting add to the appeal of the series.

No Charm Intended by Mollie Cox Bryan is book two in the Cora Crafts Mystery series.  I had read the first book, but this book easily stands on its own.  Cora and her friend, Jane, are hosting their second craft retreat.  It starts off on the wrong foot when the babysitter Jane hired goes missing.  A simple missing person case is complicated when a friend is found murdered.  I enjoy the characters in this series and how they interact together.  Ms. Bryan's series is definitely one of my favorites.

Every Body on Deck by G.A. McKevett is part of the Savannah Reid Mystery Series.  PI Savannah  and her entire detective agency are hired to accompany a famous author on an Alaskan cruise.  At the first port the author and her husband jump ship and are murdered.  Savannah is determined to solve the crime to protect her reputation and alleviate her guilt.  I liked the book, but I did not love it.  The story line was choppy at times and a bit annoying at others.  While it was enjoyable, I felt the mystery was a bit too easy to solve.

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

52 New Recipes Weeks 19 & 20

I am cheating a bit this week since I made two different ice cream flavors.  I used the same base recipe for both.  Each recipe makes about 5 cups in my Cuisanart ice cream maker.  I bought mine at a yard sale several years ago for $10.  It came with two bowls so it was a bargain.

Vanilla Ice Cream Base
2 cups milk (I use 2%)
3-4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup half & half
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the eggs and sugar.  Heat the milk.  Gradually add some of the heated milk to the egg mixture until the bowl feels warm.  Add this back to the milk and continue to heat until it thickens.  Pour into a bowl and add the half & half and vanilla.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.  Churn as directed by your ice cream maker's instructions.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Combine butter and sugar in a pan until melted.  Add the chopped pecans and stir constantly until the pecans are toasted.  Allow to cool.  Churn the ice cream base mixture adding in the pecan mixture at the last 10 minutes.

Chocolate Ice Cream
This one is made by the base instructions with the following changes.  Increase sugar in base mixture to 2/3 cup.  When heating the milk add 2 ounce milk chocolate and 1/2 cup cocoa.

W loved the butter pecan.  I liked it and I never like store bought butter pecan ice cream.  I made the chocolate for my little cousin.  It had a good flavor without being too rich.

I use whole eggs rather than just the yolks since I do not want to deal with the leftover whites.  I also think it makes the ice cream richer without the need to use whole milk and whipping cream.  Plus adding eggs means the ice cream stores better in the freezer - not that it lasts long at my house.

Next week I am planning to try a stuffed French bread recipe.

Monday, May 15, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 20

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
W had several orders that he needed to finish so no work was done on the new house.  I have decided to do the summer edition of the Holiday Grand Plan.  I hope that it will help me finish some new house projects.  This week is the entry/foyer.  Our foyer is fairly basic.  I do want to think about adding a picture or mirror to the wall opposite the aquarium.  For the entry I plan to sand and repaint the front door.  I also want to work on the bench on the front porch.  Hopefully I will have some good progress to report next week.

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday and Holiday Gifts
W's dad has a birthday coming up soon, and I need to buy a book for a niece's birthday next month.  I have money set aside for graduation gifts.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I transplanted some cosmos and more bee balm to the pollinator garden.  I did not get the herb seed planted last week, but that is on my list for this week.  The Jane the turkey's chicks ate the Mexican cucumber plants I set out.  I am debating on replanting or waiting until fall.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I did not finish the succulent class yet.  That will be on my to do list for later today.  I only have two short lessons left.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
No progress on this last week.

6.  Boost Savings
I was able to add some extra money to the credit card debt.  I have done a better job with cutting out extra spending.  I have started back doing Swagbucks to pay for a few things I want.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Weekend Book Review

Rarely do I read a book that unnerves me so much that I am unable to sleep, but The Art of Southern Charm by Patricia Altschul and Deborah Davis did just that.  I am appalled that people will read this and believe this is how southern people act.

I have several problems with her idea of Southern.  First every Southerner is judged by her tea (sweet is always implied) and not her martini.  Second "Bless Her (His/Your) Heart" is never, ever used with a compliment.  It simply softens whatever is being said.  Third tomato sandwiches are not tea sandwiches.  A tomato sandwich should be served on lightly toasted bread.  It is best eaten while leaning over a dinner plate or the kitchen sink.  A good tomato sandwich is always messy.  If it is not messy, you did not make it properly.  Finally I was shocked at the absence of funeral etiquette.  Funerals are a big part of Southern culture.

I did not realize that Ms. Altschul had a reality show.  If I had looked at some of clips on YouTube before reading this book rather than after, I could have saved myself some time.  I do realize that the author would consider me "common", but I am fine with that.  After watching clips of the author's show, I find it ironic that she criticized "Honey Boo Boo".  It is charming that Ms. Altschul finds a difference between the two.  Bless her heart!

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Frugal Friday

We continued to not use the air conditioner.  The weather is warm but not unbearable.  As long as we feel a huge temperature change when coming inside the house, I see no reason to turn on the a/c.

W wanted to get a new mailbox for his parents.  We picked one up at Lowe's but on our next stop at Tractor Supply we found the same mailbox clearance to half price.  The one from Lowe's was returned for an $8 savings.

Meals were eaten at home.  None have been fancy and a couple have been rushed, but they were better than fast food.  I should add that the nearest fast food place is 20+ minutes from my house.  Getting there would take more time than grabbing something quick at home.

I weeded the flower bed and fed the weeds to the chickens.  The rabbits have been eating lettuce from my parent's garden that started to bolt.

I was very happy to find the grapefruit juice W likes on Amazon Subscribe and Save.  It worked out to about half what I was paying at the grocery store.