Sunday, October 6, 2019

Weekend Book Review: Hearing God

Hearing God by Nathan Finochio leads readers to a closer relationship with God by dispelling ten myths.  The author has a very laid back writing style, and I do not mean that as a negative.  Instead the book feels more like chatting with a good friend over a cup of coffee.  Bible verses are intermixed with personal stories to convey the messages.  At the end of each chapter is a short summary which also acts as a bit of a pep talk.  Lessons are brought out without condemning the reader.  This is a wonderful book for those desiring a closer walk with God and is worth reading more than once!

disclosure:  I received this book through the Revell Reads Blogger Program but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Weekend Book Reviews

Murder's No Votive Confidence by Christin Brecher is the first book in the Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery series.  Stella owns a candle store and has done all of the candles for an upcoming wedding.  When the bride's uncle is found murdered with the large unity candle, Stella begins sorting through suspects.  This was a nice opening novel to the series.  Stella and the other characters work well together although I can already see the beginnings of a love triangle.  I thought this was a good first book and look forward to further character development as the series progresses.

The sixth book in the Country Store Mystery series by Maddie Day is Strangled Eggs and Ham.  Robbie, owner of the Pans 'N Pancakes and the newly opened B&B, is happy to have have both of her businesses thriving.  The town is buzzing with news of a proposed resort outside of town.  Some people are in favor while others are completely opposed.  A guest at Robbie's B&B is also a lawyer and offers to help the group trying to stop the resort.  When he is found murdered ahead of a scheduled protest, those involved with the resort at the top suspects.  Several twists and turns kept me guessing until the end.

The Peach Truck Cookbook by Stephen K and Jessica N Rose promises 100 Delicious Recipes for All Things Peach.  It was fun to read about an area of Georgia that I know well with some wonderful recipes as a bonus.  My only regret is that I read this recipe after peak peach season passed so I will have to wait until next summer to try most of the recipes.  Southerners will be familiar with some of the recipes including the peach cobbler which bears a strong resemblance to the recipe most every southern grandmother used.  I am looking forward to peach season so that I can put this cookbook to use!

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

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


This morning we got an earlier than normal wake-up call with the fire alarm going off at 4:45 am.  That is scary enough for anyone, but let it happen to two former firefighters.  We were out of the bed in seconds with W swapping pajamas for clothes and me rushing animals out into the yard.  Thankfully it was only low batteries in the smoke detector.  (Changing them is scheduled already on my calendar for next year.)  Why, oh why, could it not have given us a little beep rather than going straight into panic mode?

My thoughts on balance have two parts.  First I quickly switched from panicked to annoyed to grateful.  I know that it is easy to let life overwhelm us or problems grow and grow until we reach a breaking point.  Balance the bad with some good.  Even in the worst situations there is a reason to be thankful.  I have no problems with a good pity party, but then I try to dust myself off and go again.

The second part of balance focuses on my scheduling.  A month ago I started getting up at 6am so I had a jump start on my day mainly with chores. I decided this morning that 6am was much better for me productivity wise than getting up at 4:45am.  I did write a few book reviews though.  Balance is finding that point that works well without too much pressure.  I know that I need a certain amount of sleep and without it I can quickly become useless.  Even with a busy work schedule now I make myself (with reminders from Toby) take a break each afternoon to go outside and sit in the garden or yard.  I still cook primarily from scratch, but I  buy some convenience foods too. 

No two people are alike.  What is a good balance for me will not work for someone else.  Find your balance.  Do not let society (or social media) be your gauge. 

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Weekend Book Reviews

Sweet Tea and Secrets by Joy Avon is the latest book in the Tea and Read Mystery series.  Callie has retired from her job as a tour guide and is now working in her great aunt's tearoom, Book Tea.  She wants to contribute to the town's big 4th of July party by tracking down a tv star who disappeared from the town many years ago.  Callie actually stirs up more secrets than she intends to and wonders if she caused the recent murder in town.  In this particular book the tearoom plays a much smaller role.  The mystery had several twists and turns.  Overall it was a fun cozy mystery.

The third book in the Gourmet Cat Mystery series by Kathy Krevat is The Trouble with Talent. Colbie's good deed of picking up a friend's son from an oboe lesson puts her in the middle of another mystery.  The oboe teacher is abusive to his students so when he winds up dead the suspects are plentiful.  The main plot of this book seems taken from real life as it focuses on college fixers who "help" students get into college.  I enjoy reading about Colbie and her family and friends.  I did solve the mystery very early on, but I still enjoyed the book.  I have read previous books in this series, but it is not necessary to enjoy this book.

The Pasta Friday Cookbook by Allison Arevalo makes entertaining for a crowd easy with her pasta recipes.  The book is divided into the four seasons with pasta dishes and salads.  I appreciated that the author included pasta substitutes for those of us living in areas where numerous pasta varieties are scarce.  The recipes are easy to follow and go beyond the basic spaghetti.  My only problem is that many of the recipes require fresh ingredients (meat, cheeses and vegetables) that I will never be able to find in a local grocery store.  For those living in a large city and cooking for adventurous eaters, this would be a wonderful cookbook!

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

Friday, September 27, 2019

Frugal Friday

It has been a long time since I have written a frugal Friday post.  I have been frugal but just have not kept a list.  I am going to try to think back over the past couple of weeks for a few things.

I used a promo code to add extra talk minutes to my Tracfone.  I did break down earlier this year and get a smartphone.  I cringe when I see the prices of the newest smartphones and monthly plans.  I am quite happy with my refurbished phone and inexpensive plan ($12/month). 

I made my own elderberry syrup with elderberries bought during the summer.  Flu season hit early here, and I mixed up my first batch of elderberry syrup a couple of weeks early.  I planted two elderberry trees this spring so eventually I will not need to buy elderberries.  Until then I purchase them during the summer to save $10+ per pound over fall/winter prices. 

We ate leftovers.  W pointed out that a large portion of our meals are leftovers and then said he was not complaining.  We are both home all of the time now.  If it were not for leftovers, I would spend a large portion of my time cooking.  Some meals leave us enough for a complete repeat while others are individual sized portions. 

I took advantage of reduced shipping from Dollar Tree.  I needed a bunch of a few items to make things for my craft booth.  I would never have found enough at the local stores.  Shipping was just $4.95, and I would have spent more than that driving around to various stores.  *I could have picked in store pick up for free, but I honestly did not trust the stores around here.  Some things are worth a bit of money.*

I bought some mark down candy to use at trunk or treat next month.  I have been collecting small items throughout the year when I found an extra good deal.  I have candy and non-candy items.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Weekend Book Reviews

Something Borrowed, Something Mewed by Bethany Blake is book five in the Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery series.  Daphne's sister Piper is getting married before her fiance heads overseas for a short term job.  Her mother and mother-in-law-to-be have worked up an Independence Day themed wedding.  The problem is that the wedding planner has organized several weddings at the same time and at the same venue.  When the wedding planner winds up dead, Piper's fiance is the prime suspect, and Piper worries her wedding will never happen.  I adore Daphne and her pets.  In this particular book Daphne and Piper seemed to have a better relationship.  The book includes a bit of romance but not too much that it becomes a romance novel.  While I did figure out the mystery portion early on, I still enjoyed the book.

The second book in the Very Cherry Mystery series by Darci Hannah is Cherry Scones & Broken Bones.  Whitney is working to get the Cherry Orchard Inn back on its feet after a recent murder on the property.  She thinks she is on the way to that goal after the popular artist Silvia Lumiere books a room for the summer.  What seems like a dream quickly becomes a nightmare after Silvia and her assistant move in.  When another death occurs on the property, Whitney jumps into action to save the family inn.  The mystery had several twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end.  I enjoy the inn and cherry farm setting of this series, and Whitney is a smart, likable cozy star.  I am looking forward to the next book.

A Crafter Hooks a Killer by Holly Quinn is the second book in the Handcrafted Mystery series.  I had not read the first book in this series, but I had no trouble following this one.  Sammy runs Community Craft, a store dedicated to selling items handcrafted by those in her community.  She took over the store after her best friend was killed.  Sammy is thrilled to be hosting a celebrity crafter for a book signing.  Jane stops by to meet Sammy and says she needs to talk to her about Kate.  Before Jane can reveal what she knows, she is murdered.  Sammy is faced with two mysteries finding out who killed Jane and what really happened to Kate.  I love the idea of this book based on a community craft store.  I guessed the solution to the mystery early on, but that was not my issue with the book.  Sammy went a bit too far in "helping" the police.  I have no problem with some cozy heroine meddling, but Sammy seemed intent on getting what she wanted no matter the cost.  That dropped the book from four stars to three for me.

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

Fall Spruce Up

I am once again trying to do the Holiday Grand Plan.  I am not necessarily focusing so much on the holiday portion since our holidays are pretty low key.  Instead I am trying to get all of the little projects around the house that need to be done.  It is things that we put off after we moved in, and they have continued to be put off.  W works from home and can easily take time for a few around the house projects.  Last week was front porch week.  It was a combination of cleaning and a project. 

I swept off the porch and put down the fall door mat insert.  It is a little early, but I cannot be the only one jumping ahead with fall decorating.

W put hangers on the wreath post decoration.  A lady at church had asked him to cut out some shapes for her to paint.  We bartered and supplied the materials for two wood pumpkins.  She painted two and gave one of them back to me.  I love it, and it makes me think of her each time I see it.

The final project was fixing up the bench.  Originally it was covered with foam and outdoor material.  After two southern summers, the material was barely holding together.  Since W has started tearing down the old house, we have an abundance of 120 year old wood.  I asked W to make me a wood bench instead.  The bench base is actually an aquarium base.  It came with the very large aquarium that is in our foyer wall.  It is the perfect height for a bench though.  I was thrilled with how it turned out.  It is so much prettier than a fabric topped bench.