Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Free Craftsy Class: Tuesday, October 17 Only!

Last week I talked about how much I love Craftsy classes.  Today only anyone can sign up for a free class:  Pasta Like a Pro.  This class offers six lessons.  You get everything from classic to contemporary pasta dishes.  You can even learn to make fresh pasta and gnocchi.  If you have wanted to try out a Craftsy class, this is the perfect opportunity.

The class will only be free on Tuesday, October 17, until 11:59pm MT. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Weekly Goals Update Weeks 41& 42

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
The first week I did not get any painting done due to the rain and general damp weather.  This past week I painted all of the molding/trim.  If all goes well, we can get some of it put up this week.  W also got a good start on refinishing the yard sale chair he bought in March.  I am quite impressed with how well he is doing.

We did finish setting up the area for my new pet.  When we bought our big aquarium we also got a smaller corner aquarium.  I am still waiting on the new pet to arrive though. 

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday & Holiday Gifts
I knocked one birthday gift and two holiday gifts off my list this week.  The two oldest girls on my side of the family are turning into readers.  Yeah!  I ordered one a Junie B Jones book set for her birthday.  For Christmas both girls are getting books from the series.  I came in under budget on both. 

I still need to order two more birthday gifts for this year, but then I can focus on the holidays.  One of the items for my handmade friend gifts did not work out so I ordered a replacement and am waiting on it to arrive.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I feel in between seasons right now.  The days are getting shorter so it is definitely not summer, but it is much too hot to be autumn.  Water from the hose is just not helping my plants so I am hoping for some rain.  Later this week I want to pull some weeds and plant some more greens for the chickens.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I decided that while the opera cake is doable I simply have too much going on.  I am going to do it later and take a simpler class.  I need to make a confession first.  I am southern, and I cannot make biscuits.  Well, I cannot make typical southern biscuits.  My mom makes thin biscuits - basically two crusts - since my dad calls normal biscuits cat heads.  W on the other hand likes typical southern biscuits.  I am determined to learn and started a new class:  Tea Breads:  Biscuits, Scones & More.  The first lesson was biscuits!  I think they look pretty good.  I still need some practice.

I may skip around in this class and do the pound cake before the scone lesson.  It depends on how the week goes.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
I decided to get the youth at church to help me pack the boxes this year.  We have finished 50 so far.  I do need to go behind them and rearrange things and probably add some filler items.  For the most part they are doing a great job.  We are on track to finish up by the end of this month.

6.  Boost Savings
I added some extra money to add to our fence fund.  Our electric bill was lower than budget so that extra money can go toward some house expenses. I am keeping with the goal of having the fence projected funded by the end of November.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

When I first looked at the table of contents for Sally's Cookie Addiction by Sally McKenney, I was not sure I would find any interesting recipes.  Then I started reading the cookbook and marked recipe after recipe to try.  I did end up making the Big Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and gave them to my taste testers.  Everyone loved the cookies.  The bit of molasses added an extra depth to the cookies.  The book is a nice mix of classics and unusual cookies.  The tips and tricks are an nice addition especially for new bakers.  Cookies always seem to be hit, and this book offers something for everyone!

The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook by Kate MacDonald and L.M. Montgomery is a great cookbook for fans of Anne of Green Gables.  The pictures of the finished recipes are beautiful.  I appreciate that the recipes use basic ingredients.  I made the apple dumplings.  Although I needed to seriously adjust the cooking time, the flavor of the finished dessert was delicious.  It is something that I will make again.  I have several more recipes marked to try.  The recipes are simple enough that they can be made with children. 

Perilous Poetry by Kym Roberts is book three in the Book Barn Mystery series.  Charli is thrilled when her cousin and aunt show up with two surprises.  Her cousin wants to use the Book Barn Princess to unveil his new app, and he has arranged for author Lucy Barton to do a book signing.  The problems begin when murders start happening that appear to be tied to the app and Lucy Barton's books.  Reading the previous books is not necessary to follow this one.  The why of the murders is sort of explained but seems to be a stretch.  This series is a bit heavier on the romance than some other cozy mysteries, but it is not annoying.  I did find the repetitive phrases (OMW - oh my word - and Get Out) to be tiresome.  Still this is a fun series.  I love the book store set in a barn, and Princess the pet armadillo remains my favorite character.

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

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Cat Among the Pumpkins by Mandy Morton is part of the Hettie Bagshot Mystery series.  Hettie and Tilly are cats and run the No. 2 Feline Detective Agency.  The book features only cats who live in a world just like people.  I wanted to love this book.  I had two problems with it.  The cats were too human for me.  I would have preferred that they were just cats. Second I found everything overly described.  I appreciate the scenes being set up for me, but I like to use my imagination some.  I think this series could be toned down a bit and would be perfect for the preteen crowd.  It is a clever idea.  I just did not care for it as much as I thought I might.

Rich Newman's Ghosts of the Civil War is part ghost story and part history.  The book covers everything from the major well known battles and locations to the lesser known areas of the Civil War.  October always makes me reach for a good ghost story.  I enjoyed Ghosts of the Civil War although it was a big light on the ghost stories.  I would consider it more a travel guide for Civil War ghost hunters.  I do recommend it for those interested in Civil War history with a side of ghosts.

Running Out of Time by Suzanne Trauth is the third book in the Dodie O'Dell Mystery series.  I have read the previous books, but I do not think it is necessary.  Dodie, manager of the Windjammer restaurant, is working on desserts to pair with the theater's new play.  It is a version of Our Town and is called Eton Town.  The production has plenty of problems but none as bad as the body discovered on stage on opening night.  Dodie once again investigates a murder to save the play and the theater.  I like Dodie.  She is fun but very real.  Etonville is a wonderful town full of eccentric characters which add to the story.  I adore this series and am already looking forward to the next book.

Kathi Daley's Fireworks in Paradise is book eight in the TJ Jensen Mystery series.  TJ rushes home from South Carolina when she receives word that her father is in a coma following a serious car accident.  As she begins to piece the story together, it becomes obvious that the wreck was no accident.  TJ and her friend Kyle investigate along with police officer Roy.  The investigation has to be done quietly when Roy's new partner threatens them.  I have read a previous book in this series, but it is not necessary.  I look forward to seeing how the characters progress as the series continues.

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Craftsy Classes

Terri asked about the online cooking classes that I am doing.  I do all of my classes through Craftsy.  I live in the middle of  nowhere so taking classes locally is not an option.  Craftsy is convenient and allows me to go through the lessons at my own pace.  Another plus is that the purchased classes never expire. 

To make the classes more frugal, I highly recommend signing up for the emails.  Craftsy offers specials all of the time.  I normally pay $14-$16 per class by waiting until what I am interested in is on sale. 

The information provided is extremely helpful.  While there are free recipes/tutorials online, I appreciate the professional information provided.  The macaron lesson is one that springs to mind as being worth the cost of the entire class.  By taking the class first, I avoided all of the common macaron making problems. 

The classes include video lessons and downloadable recipes.  You can also interact with the instructor to ask questions.  Each class generally covers multiple things under the chosen topic.  You can see the topics covered prior to purchasing as well as read reviews.

disclosure:  I was not compensated for this post.  I just adore Craftsy classes!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Ellie Alexander's Death on Tap is the first book in the Sloan Krause Mystery series.  This cozy mystery series deals in depth with brewing beer.  While I do not like beer personally, I found the information on craft beer brewing to be very compelling.  Sloan works as a brewer for her husband's family.  Her world is turned upside down when she finds her husband in a compromising position with another woman.  Sloan takes a job with a new to town brewer and owner of Nitro.  Things are off to a great start until she finds a body in the fermenting tub.  While the mystery in this book is not the strongest, the characters and town make up for it.  The town features a range of characters from those I loved to those I did not like at all.  Of course it takes all of them to make the story work.  I look forward to seeing how the characters as well as some of the side stories develop as the series progresses!  

Death by Eggnog by Alex Erickson is the fifth book in the Bookstore Cafe Mystery series.  I have read some previous books in this series, but it is not necessary to enjoy this book.  Krissy's vacation becomes a staycation after her father plans a last minute trip.  The co-owner of Death by Coffee insists that Krissy take time away from work.  That leads to her taking a part in the local theater company's holiday musical.  Things are going well enough until Santa is murdered and Krissy's ex is the main suspect.  The characters and setting for this book are fun and perfect for a cozy mystery.  Reading this book only makes me look forward to more from the author!

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

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner by Ann Larkin Hansen gives readers advice on when do necessary chores on the homestead.  It includes chores for the garden, orchard, barn, pasture, and equipment upkeep.  This book provides good guidelines but definitely no hard and fast rules regarding the seasons.  According to this book, my area would be in early summer for the majority of the year.  It is geared more toward those on a larger homestead.  People with established homesteads of that size might find the information too basic.  The information on garden and orchard crops was good.  While the book does include a wealth of information, readers should skim through to see if the information would be helpful for their homesteads.

Raquel Pelzel's Sheet Pan Suppers Vegetarian covers everything from breakfasts to snacks to desserts.  I found that it went beyond sheet pans and neared the casserole dish territory.  While the ingredient lists are long, the recipes have minimal preparation steps.  I was most impressed with the breakfast chapter.  It is filled with dishes that will appeal to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.  My favorite recipe was the mushroom risotto.  With the variety of recipes included in this book, it offers something for everyone!Ov

The Comfort Food Diaries by Emily Nunn is about her journey to overcome her brother's sudden death.  She is also dealing with the loss of her relationship, her dysfunctional upbringing, and the separation of her family.  The book was well-written but take the discussions of the South with a grain of salt.  The author was fascinated by real dirt roads.  While I have seen many real ones, I have no idea what a fake dirt road would be.  I enjoyed the recipes sprinkled throughout the book.  Overall I found the book interesting.

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