Monday, April 24, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 17

1.  Completely Finish the New House and Update Property
Last week we started on a couple of projects.  W began building a coffee table made from an old door in our previous house.  We still have to decide what color to paint the sides and if we want to paint the legs or leave them as they are.


I painted a storage cabinet that he bought for my craft room.  I wanted to keep the industrial look and chose to go with flat gray and blue as the main colors.  I ordered some new card holders for the front and will paint them white.  W is going to build a small base to lift it slightly off the floor.  This will allow me to get rid of some plastic storage bins and make my craft room look better.


2.  Plan ahead for Birthday and Holiday Gifts
Not only did I order the birthday and weddings gifts last week, I also ordered a baby shower gift.  Next up is saving for graduation gifts next month.  

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I harvested and dried more chamomile this past week.  I also finished the planting and weeding tasks from last week.  I will probably dry more chamomile and maybe some mint this week.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I finished the French bread class.  The other lessons were good, but I most wanted to learn to make baguettes.  I started a class on succulents.  I finished two lessons and have already gotten some very helpful information.  I am looking forward to creating a few succulent arrangements.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
Wash cloths... I finished some but not five. Hopefully this week will be more productive.

6.  Boost Savings
We were repaid some money we loaned a family member which gave our savings account a nice boost.  I was happy to have a bit of extra money to put toward the credit card debt.  It is great to see that continue to drop.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

The Ground Beneath Us by Paul Bogard is literally about the ground or dirt.  The book is divided into three main sections with different chapters within each.  Mr. Bogard travels to different areas and discusses the ground in each.  I did like the book although toward the end the book lost much of its momentum.  The book should be read more for enjoyment than scientific information.


Whit Gibbons' Snakes of the Eastern United States is an informative book on the over 60 snake species found in the eastern US.  I most appreciated the tip on distinguishing venomous and non-venomous snakes.  Even more reassuring was the data on snake bites and fatalities.  The full color photographs of each snake featured helped reinforce the identification material.  I will never be a fan of snakes, but I did want to be able to identify the type of snakes I see.  The book also covers invasive species of snakes.  The book is well written with clear, concise information.

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Grand Prize: Murder!  by Vivian Conroy is the second book in the Country Gift Shop Cozy Mystery series.  While it is not necessary to read the first book, it is helpful.  Grand Prize: Murder! takes place immediately after Dead to Begin With.  Vicky receives a special gift from the city for her help solving a mystery.  Rather than calming down, life gets more hectic as cozy author Bella Brooks arrives for a book signing at Vicky's gift shop.  Mysterious people seem to have flocked to Glen Cove and one ends up dead.  To keep Bella our of jail and save her shop's reputation, Vicky must find the real killer.  My return visit to Glen Cove was just as nice as the first.

Mother's Day, Muffins, and Murder by Sara Rosett is book 10 in the Ellie Avery Mystery series.  I had read a previous book in this series, but this one easily stands on its own.  Ellie is busy enough with her organizing business and end of the year activities at her children's school.  Her business rival says she saw a dead body in a closet at the school, but no one can find it.  Unfortunately the rumor turns to reality when the body reappears in the woods during the school's field day.  Ellie is a wonderful, realistic character.  The murder mystery was excellent and kept me guessing until nearly then end.  I enjoyed this book even more than the previous one I had read.  I am happy to find a cozy mystery series that remains well written after the first few books.

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

52 New Recipes Week 16: Parmesan Rice

I like the idea of flavored rice like those sold in packs at the grocery store.  I do not like the amount of salt and preservatives included.  The recipe for Creamy Parmesan Rice has all of the flavor without the extra stuff.  (I did not get a good picture of this week's recipe so click through the above link to see the final product.)

I made it in the rice cooker, which is one of my favorite kitchen tools.  When W came inside for dinner, he immediately said that something smelled good.  It was the Parmesan rice.  The garlic and Parmesan were perfect together.  Other than cooking it in a rice cooker, I followed the recipe exactly.  I almost never do that, but this one truly was perfect.

We had leftovers the following day.  It reheated nicely. This rice side dish will be a permanent part of my menu.  It was practically as easy as a packaged mix.  The flavor made it worth the extra few minutes it took to put together.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

In the Garden

My main progress in the garden recently has been the addition of a bee/butterfly garden.  I planted piles of flower and herb seeds.  Many of the seeds are starting to sprout, but they are still very tiny.  Photographs would be dull at this point.

Saturday I received the kiwi plants I ordered from Baker Creek.  Unfortunately they are out of stock until next season.  The plants were beautiful.  I planted them in 5 gallon buckets where they will stay until next spring mostly likely.


The cucumber and radish seedlings are growing strong.


I also have blooms on some of the tomato and pepper plants.



This week I will plant the pumpkin and hibiscus seeds.  I told myself I was done with planting after that except for succession planting of seeds.  As usual I found myself tempted by just a few more plants and seeds.  I will wait until those arrive to share them with you.

Monday, April 17, 2017

2017 Goals Week 16

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
We worked on the second half of this goal over the past week.  We hauled off a load of  trash from the yard as well as some leftovers from working on the new house.  We also filled our regular trash can as much as possible.  I have no idea what we will work on this week.

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday & Holiday Gifts
I need to order a birthday gift as well as a wedding shower gift this week.

3.  Use the Garden to be More Self-Sufficient
Last week I harvested and dried chamomile.  I will pick the chamomile to dry again this week.  I picked strawberries and added those to the freezer.  This week I plan to weed the garden, plant pumpkin seeds and red roselle (hibiscus) seeds, and plant my three new kiwi plants.

4.  Take One Class a Month
My plan is to finish the French bread class this week.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
I have fallen behind on making wash cloths.  I plan to finish 5 this week.

6.  Boost Savings
Money that could have gone to knock out some credit card debt went to paying taxes instead.  It is a new week with new chances to save though!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

The Inheritance by Niki Kapsambelis is one of the best books I have read on Alzheimer's disease.  I would even go so far to say it is the best.  The book focuses primarily on the DeMoe family.  This family carries a genetic link to the disease.  It is fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time.  The timeline follows the family as well as researchers' race to find a treatment.  Anyone with an interest in Alzheimer's especially those affected personally will find this book hard to put down. The author does an excellent job telling the DeMoe family's story with compassion.


Food52 Ice Cream and Friends is a collection of 60 ice creams of all flavors.  The choices will take you way beyond basic vanilla or chocolate.  Ice cream is a big deal in my family so I am no stranger to making it myself.  While the recipes are good, I found most of them to be more complicated than necessary.  I did try out the recipe for Coffee Frozen Custard.  The resulting ice cream was good but not great.  I did not find enough recipes to make it worth adding to my cookbook collection.  I do recommend that you preview the book before making your own decision.

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