Monday, May 2, 2016

Weekly Savings

My grocery spending has been a bit out of control for the past month so I put myself on a budget to get things to balance back out.  More details on that later in the week.  The good thing is that I stuck to the budget.

We closed our safe deposit box at the bank.  It was a bit silly to see the things we had been storing in there.  Nothing was irreplaceable.  We received a 98 cents refund but will save $45 a year from here on out.

We ate strawberries from my parents' garden and four blueberries from ours.  This is the first year for our blueberry plants so I was not expecting much.  I cannot begin to describe how delicious my two organic, fresh picked blueberries were.

All of our laundry was dried either outside or on drying racks inside.  I also used a sample of detergent to wash two loads.

Meals were all cooked at home, and we made an effort to eat leftovers.

I cooked dried beans in the slow cooker twice this week.  It is cheaper than buying canned beans and also healthier.  I can control the amount of salt when I cook them myself.

I did no extra shopping this week.  I did not let myself get tempted by any Amazon deals or in store sales on things I did not need.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Having a Martha Home the Mary Way

Sarah Mae's book, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way, is a 31 day religious based approach to getting your home in order.  With this book I noted pros as well as some cons.  The book offers tasks over 31 days.  Each day readers are given a Mary challenge (daily Bible reading and journaling) and a Martha challenge (cleaning).

The book focuses on hospitality and creating a home that welcomes people in.  I have been in "perfect" homes where I was scared to even breathe for fear of ruining something.  A welcoming home is my goal.  The reading/challenges are fairly simple to complete.

This book seems geared toward households with children.  If this does not apply to you as it did not apply to me, you will find yourself having over a week of no relevant cleaning tasks.  While the cleaning challenges would be helpful to a home in crisis mode, I personally found them lacking.  Readers have no way to build a solid routine, and several of the challenges were too vague.  I was looking for a way to have a long term "Martha" home.

Overall this book was just okay.  I did not find it helpful for my life.  If you are a mom to younger children, you would most likely benefit much more.

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

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Weekend Book Review: The Elements of Pizza

Pizza is a favorite meal at our house, and we prefer homemade to anything that can be purchased.  I was interested in learning more about cooking great pizza and was thrilled to get The Elements of Pizza by Ken Forkish.  The different elements of making pizza are discussed in depth.  A wide variety of dough recipes are included as are sauce recipes and topping ideas.

Keep in mind this is not a quick, easy cookbook.  The doughs featured in the book take time.  I am sure all of the outcomes are superb, but I am not at a point in my life where I can spend that much time making pizza.  The dough recipes call for 00 flour which is impossible to find where I live and not cheap to order from Amazon either.  I know it makes a difference, but it is not in everyone's budget.

The bottom line is that if you are a serious cook and are looking for a serious book on pizza, The Elements of Pizza is perfect for you.  If you are a frazzled cook on a serious budget, this book will have less to offer.  I say "less" as it has something for everyone.  Even the frazzled cook will pick up some helpful hints along the way.

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

Friday, April 29, 2016

Feathered Friday

We have three hens with chicks right now.  I expect we will have more in the near future as a couple of hens come rushing in at feeding time.  That is generally a good sign that they have been sitting all day and not out eating bugs and such.

All of the hens and their chicks are currently in brooder boxes.  This is best when they are young.  Even though our cats will not bother the babies, I do not trust any neighborhood cats or other critters that visit us.  Pretty soon they will all be ready to move into the nursery pen.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Quick Trip Around the Garden

I was in the garden and decided to snap a few pictures of what is going on.  This is not everything but a good overview of some of my favorite happenings from last week.

This bed has a bit of everything.  On the left side is borage with the largest of the Armenian cucumbers in the center and a sunflower on the right.  Too small to see are some zinnias and bee balm.

This tomato plant is certainly not the prettiest.  It was one that died back in the greenhouse and sprouted back out.  I am happy that it is covered with tomatoes!

I have wanted to add lemongrass to my herb garden for a couple of years but could not find a plant to purchase.  I was happy to find this in a larger city's garden center.  I divided it into three portions and put it in a large container so I can overwinter it in the greenhouse.

This lemon tree will be overloaded with blooms any day now.  You can already see one very tiny lemon.  I moved the plant into the main garden so it would be closer to the honeybees.

This is the smaller of my two lemon trees, but it has a nice sized little lemon on it.

Both of my pineapple sage plants have hit a growth spurt.  They are covered in blooms and I get a whiff of pineapple each time I walk by.

This raised bed contains a mixture of tomato plants.  I also added in borage and marigolds as companion plants.

One section of my potted herbs.  From left to right - oregano, rosemary, and garlic chives

Monday, April 25, 2016

Weekly Savings

I did minimal grocery shopping this week and only purchased about $10 worth of stuff.  Part of that was to test out a recipe.

I planned laundry for sunny days when I was able to plant it outside.

I transplanted more marigolds and zinnias to other parts of the garden.  I also transplanted more raspberries into the new raised bed W built.

I made more of an effort to cook meals using what we had on hand.  I have been making smoothies for breakfast to use up some fruit.

My church's computer refused to boot up past the initial screen.  I did a bit of research online and found a possible fix.  It turns out the simple fix worked.  I was happy to make the repair myself and not have to take it to a technician.  Many computer problems can be repaired at home.  One just needs to be brave enough to attempt it.

We left one section of the yard unmowed so that I could cut grass to feed the rabbits.  It is nice and tender, and they love it.  The fact that it is free makes it even better.

It was a quiet week but sometimes those are the best.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen

When I requested the book Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen by Francine Bryson, I did not connect the author with The American Baking Competition.  For me the main draw was the redneck kitchen part of the title.  I just knew it would be filled with down home Southern cooking recipes.  The recipes use basic ingredients that are on hand for most southern cooks.  This is important since I often like to choose a recipe to cook at a moment's notice.

This cookbook includes everything from appetizers (Redneck Whatnots) to main dishes, sides, and breads to sweet treats.  I especially enjoyed the following included with the recipe for Buttermilk Pecan Skillet Cake:  "If  Granny heard someone say 'puh-CON,' she would ask, 'Do you see an 'o' in the word PEA-can?'"  I would have loved Mrs. Bryson's Granny as that is the correct pronunciation of the word pecan.

I tried out two recipes from the cookbook.  First was the German Chocolate Cookies which I made twice.  I admit to doing "a little fiddling" with the recipe just as Mrs. Bryson did.  My only change was cutting the amount of chocolate chips in half.  Out of everyone who tried these cookies (about 30 people), only one person did not love them.  His complaint was that they had coconut, and I pointed out that they were German chocolate.  The recipe was spot on both in the number of cookies and the cooking time which tells me that these were truly tested and not just put in a cookbook.  I also tried the Most-Requested Spinach Dip.  Taste reviews on this were mixed.  I loved it, and even W who does not eat spinach said it was delicious.  This will become an often used cookbook in my kitchen!  If you love country cooking, I highly recommend you add it to your cookbook collection as well.

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