Saturday, June 23, 2018

Weekend Book Reviews

Better Off Read by Nora Page is the first book in the Bookmobile Mystery series.  Cleo is a seventy-something librarian in a small rural south Georgia town. The local library has suffered storm damage but the mayor has his sights set on making the town a fishing hot spot.  Cleo heads out in the bookmobile to pass out books and gather support for the library. When one of the library's main supporters is found murdered, the suspects are many.  Cleo and her sidekick feline Rhett Butler set out to solve the murder and save the library.  I appreciated the rural southern setting where eccentric characters and crazy happenings rival any large city.  I look forward to more from this series!

The first book in the Southern Cake Baker Mystery series by Maymee Bell is Cake and Punishment.  Sophia returns to her hometown of Rumford, Kentucky, to recover following a bad breakup.  She has taken a break from her job as head pastry chef of a New York restaurant.  Rumford lacks a bakery, and Sophia soon finds herself baking for every event in town.  When the chef of the country club is murdered, Sophia is knee deep in a mystery.  Some parts of this first book were quite predictable, but this is the first book of the series.  I read this in less than a day since it was interesting and also a quick read.  I am looking for a little more depth in the second book.

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

Friday, June 22, 2018

Frugal Friday

I had W lower some hanging baskets on our front porch so there are easier for me to water.  He used some pieces of matching chain that he already had on hand.  I planted some excess chocolate mint in the baskets.  I expect in a month of so visitors will be greeted with the scent when they walk by.

I volunteered to make breadsticks and a dessert for a women's ministry meeting at church.  I only needed a box of vanilla wafers to add to ingredients on hand for mini cheesecakes. 

W went to help his dad with a home project on our normal errand day.  I opted to skip going into town this week and work on things around the house.

I am in charge of crafts again for my church's Vacation Bible School next month.  One of the projects requires yarn pieces.  Rather than cutting up good yarn, I have started bagging up all of my scraps.  I expect to have a good assortment from something that would have been thrown away.

We did things ourselves - mowed the grass and bathed Toby.  I hung out laundry and cooked from scratch.  We also ate up the leftovers.  The chickens and rabbits got excess/overgrown produce from my parents' and aunt's gardens. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Garden Update

We have finally had several days of sunny weather.  I was able to get a bit of work done in the garden.  W ended up getting in there with the weed eater to knock down the weeds in the newer part.  With all of the rain I simply could not keep up.

I cleaned up around another group of fruit trees.  In this part of the yard we have lemon, lime, mandarin, and kumquat trees.

The mystery tomatoes are growing well ,and some are starting to bloom.  It will be fun to see what we end up harvesting.  In the bottom photo you can also see the tiny lemon basil seedlings.

Later this week we will be able to harvest our first tomato!

The banana pepper plants are putting on peppers.

The cucuamelon vines have grown like weeds and have teeny, tiny cucuamelons.

The tomatillo plants are full of blooms.  We love salsa verde.

The cantaloupe vines are packed with blooms and are popular with the bees.

I am hoping this pot of lettuce lasts long enough for us to harvest a bit.  I have it in the shade in hopes of counteracting the heat.

The hibiscus will not bloom until the fall.  The zucchini mixed in will be done long before then.

Celosia for the bees and flower arrangements

Regular basil

More tomatillos and lime basil

I also found some lime basil growing in between the beds and will move it to a safer place.

W used some twine to make the raspberry bushes more manageable.

I am excited this year that we have been able to harvest more raspberries.

The kiwi vines are happily climbing the new fence and putting on new growth!

Cosmos add some color to the garden.

How is your garden doing this year?  I still have pumpkin seeds to plant, and then I can start thinking about the fall garden.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Meals for Week of June 12

This was an awful week for tracking meals.  We had so much going on that it was mostly grab and go.  You will see plenty of sandwiches on the menu since it was easy to fix when each of us had time to eat.

Tuesday, June 12
Dinner (aka Lunch):  Sandwiches
Supper (aka Dinner):  Tomato Pie - I tried a new recipe which was edible but not great.  My original recipe was better so I tossed the new one.

Wednesday, June 13
Dinner:  Sandwiches
Supper: Dressed Up Frozen Pizza

Thursday, June 14
Dinner: Sandwiches
Supper:  Chicken Tenders, Roasted Vegetables

Friday, June 15
Dinner:  Sandwiches
Supper:  Fruit and Snacks

Saturday, June 16
Dinner: Family Reunion - I took jalapeno popper deviled eggs and chocolate chip cookies
Supper:  Nachos for me and Fruit for W

Sunday, June 17
Dinner:  W ate with his parents, and I had leftovers here at home
Supper: Hamburgers with my parents

Monday, June 18
Dinner:  Barbecue sandwiches (barbecue left from family reunion) & chips
Supper:  Tomato Pie (my original southern recipe) & zucchini fries

My plan for the coming week is to do some freezer cooking so we have some easy meals on hand.  There are no restaurants (fast food or otherwise) in our little town so going out to eat is not much of a temptation.  I just need some easy meals in the freezer for hectic days.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Weekly Goals Update: Week 24

1.  Disaster Preparedness
Week 24 is back to water preparedness.  I am still looking for a good, reliable way to store our drinking water.  I have containers that are suitable for the animals.  I do have ways to store water for a few weeks which is helpful for winter when we have freezing temperatures or when we know a hurricane/tropical storm is coming.  It is not so helpful if we have a surprise emergency.

2.  Makeover the Garden
Due to all of the rain and Toby's surgery, I spent very little time in the garden this past week.  I do hope to see enough sunshine to do some weeding and take photos for a garden post.

3.  Organize Recipes
I seriously need to spend another hour on this goal.  I want to work on my notebooks.  I need to add in some recipes that I use all of the time. I also need to go through recipes that I have torn out of magazines and toss the ones I am never really going to make.

4.  Have 13 No Spend Grocery Weeks
I skipped the grocery stores again this week.  My no spend grocery week total is up to seven now!  I will need to pick up a few groceries this week though.

5.  Focus on Saving
This week savings came from eating what we had.  That meant mainly eating vegetables from the garden.

6.  Etsy Store
I took some time to do some crocheting this week.  I plan to do more and am absolutely going to open my store this week.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Weekend Book Reviews

Beauty in the Broken Places by Allison Pataki is the true store of Allison and her husband Dave.  While on a flight to their babymoon, Dave suffers a life-threatening stroke.  This memoir is a mix of what follows and their life before the stroke.  It was both scary and inspiring.  I appreciated the author's honesty in becoming a caregiver while being a first time mother.  The focus on her faith added to the moving narrative of struggle and healing.

Nicole Weston's Perfectly Creamy Frozen Yogurt uses Greek yogurt, meringue, and a simple ice cream maker to make delicious frozen treats.  I tried out the basic vanilla frozen yogurt on my family.  While my husband was not a fan of the yogurt tang, my parents and I agreed that it was delicious.  I especially liked that it was easy to make.  The base came together quickly and was able to go straight into the ice cream churn.  I will be making several other varieties over the summer months.  This is a wonderful book for those who want a lighter homemade summer treat.

Fix, Freeze, Feast 2nd Edition by Katie Neville and Lindsay Ahrens is a slightly updated version.  I own the previous book and was anxious to see the changes.  The second edition includes 25 additional recipes.  I also noticed a better layout overall.  People new to freezer cooking will find a step-by-step introduction.  Most of the recipes make three freezer meals of four to six servings each.  The recipes are easy to scale down for smaller families.  The freezer meals use basic ingredients but go beyond the creamed soup casseroles you might expect.  It is a wonderful book for first time and seasoned freezer cooks.

Damnation Island by Stacy Horn is the true story of Blackwell Island (now called Roosevelt Island) in New York's East River.  It was home to a lunatic asylum, prison, almshouse, and hospitals.  What was meant to be an improvement on all others ended up being just as bad or worse.  It was hard to read at times simply due to the horror and sadness at what people endured.  Mr. Horn does an excellent job of bringing this forgotten part of history to life. 

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Weekend Book Reviews

Read Herring Hunt by VM Burns is the second book in the Mystery Bookshop Mysteries series.  Sam's mystery bookshop is off to a wonderful start.  Dawson, her renter and head baker, is having a great season with the college football team.  All is not well though.  When his ex-girlfriend is found murdered, he is the only suspect.  Sam and her band of senior sleuths set out to prove his innocence.  Like the first book this one has a secondary mystery in the form of Sam's English themed mystery novel.  I enjoy the story within a story, but it may not be for everyone.  I enjoyed the parallel mystery and the way the characters mesh together.  This book is just as solid as the first and can easily be read on its own!

Kirsten Weiss' second book in the Pie Town Mystery series is Bleeding Tarts.  Val's pie shop gets a boost when she is asked to provide pies for the fake ghost town Bar X.  While delivering the pies, a stray bullet blows apart a cherry pie she is carrying, and the town's bartender is soon found dead.  She and her pie crust maker, Charlene, begin an investigation.  It seems they are getting close when Val finds her own life threatened.  Charlene and Val are an unlikely duo that works very well.  The other characters are just as wacky which makes for a fun book.  It is a light, fun read!

I Scream You Scream by Wendy Lyn Watson is the first book in the Mystery A-la Mode series.  Tallulah's ice cream shop is struggling so she agrees to take a job providing ice cream for her ex-husband and his new girlfriend.  When the girlfriend is found dead under suspicious circumstances following the party, Tallulah is the prime suspect.  Tallulah is a wonderful cozy mystery heroine, and that fact that she is southern to the core made me like her more.  The book has a nice flow, and the supporting characters add to the charm.  I have added the rest of the series to my reading list!

Linda O Johnston's fourth book in the Barkery & Biscuits Mystery series is Pick and Chews.  When the veterinary office that Carrie works for wants to hire a new vet, her boyfriend suggests two candidates and gets a third in the form of an annoying former colleague, who winds up murdered.  I honestly found myself anxiously waiting for the murder to happen since this character was just awful.  This story had a good flow although I was a bit overwhelmed with unnecessary information at times.  Still I enjoy the idea of the dog bakery and the emphasis on animal rescue. 

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