Monday, April 23, 2018

Weekly Goals Update: Weeks 15 & 16

1.  Disaster Preparedness
Week 15 was more medical supplies.  Week 16 was survival tools.  I feel pretty good about the items for both weeks.  I do not think it is possible to always have everything for every situation.  If I can hit the high points, I am happy.


2.  Makeover the Garden
I have two raised beds filled and planted with either seeds or plants.  I still need a second herb bed.  We have all of the materials for building it.  I also have a final raised bed to fill.  I hope to get a garden tour post up later this week.


3.  Organize Recipes
I have been too busy outside to work on this.


4.  Have 13 No Spend Grocery Weeks
With our current situation I expect to get this and then some.  I added one no spend week during week 15 which brings my total to four. I had a very low spend week last week as I only purchased a bag of potatoes.  I will have to do some shopping this week though.  I am out of flour (all-purpose and bread).  Both are definite needs.  My plan is to buy what I need for the next couple of weeks and skip going into town next week.


5.  Focus on Saving
I am continuing to look for more ways to save and ways to bring in some extra money.  I have cut some unnecessary expenses to help our money go a little further.  This past week our focus was on eating up leftovers.  Right now very little food goes to waste.  Vegetable scraps go to the chickens/rabbits or into the compost bin. 


6.  Have Fun
I can honestly say that most of the past few weeks has not been fun.  Toward the end of week 16 I started to feel like things will be okay.  I have had fun working on ideas for my Etsy shop.  I am planning to add things in stages.  While recent events have been a bit scary, I am excited that W and I are both pursuing something we really love.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Weekend Book Reviews


https://www.amazon.com/Out-Blue-Fields-Hokum-Blueberry/dp/0764354531/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524251780&sr=8-1&keywords=out+in+blue+fieldsOut in Blue Fields by Janice Riley and Stephen Spear covers a Year at Hokum Rock Blueberry Farm.  The first half of the book is a month by month account of life on the farm.  The second half is full of blueberry recipes.  Blueberries are a big crop in my part of the country.  It was fascinating to read about blueberry farming in a different area.  The pictures were lovely and just as wonderful as the information!


Michael Brown's Death in the Garden focuses on poisonous plants.  The book first focuses on the broad history of poisonous plants.  The second part is a look at individual plants.  A description of each plant is included as well as why it is poisonous.  Many instances of plant use throughout history are also included.  I was not thrilled with the focus on Greek mythology, but it did not take away from the book.  I simply have little interest in mythology.  If you have an interest in gardening, this is a wonderful book to read.


Digging In by Loretta Nyhan is the story of a widow struggling to hold her life together.  Her teenage son is angry.  She may be losing her job.  Her neighborhood HOA is less than thrilled with her yard.  Everyone thinks she has gone off the deep end when she starts digging in her backyard.  Her new friend from the farmer's market helps her put in a garden.  This book was excellent.  I could have easily read it in one night if not for the need to sleep.  It has something to which everyone can relate.  I am not always a fan of the women's fiction genre, but I loved this book.

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Weekend Book Reviews



Til Death Do Us Party by Vicki Fee is the fourth book in the Liv and Di in Dixie Mystery series.  Liv is on vacation in Las Vegas along with her husband, in-laws, and friend Di and her boyfriend for her mama's wedding.  The trip is going well for the most part until the actual wedding when the Elvis minister dies in the middle of the ceremony.  Liv's cousin is the prime suspect, and her mama expects Liv and Di to solve the mystery.  With problems back in Dixie and drama in Vegas, this book is full of action.  The characters are wonderful as always, and the mystery was strong.  This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series.


Cynthia Baxter's first book in the Lickety Splits Mystery series is Murder with a Cherry on Top.  Kate has returned home to help her aunt and also open an ice cream shop.  Unfortunately her new shop is across the street from her childhood enemy, Ashley.  Ashley owns a bakery and is now selling ice cream.  Soon after Kate and Ashley have a very public argument, Ashley is found dead.  To save her reputation and her business, Kate must find the real killer.  I enjoyed the characters and the ice cream theme including the recipes at the end.  I do wish that Kate would spend a bit of time in the ice cream shop to make her role as a business owner more believable.  Otherwise this was a compelling start to a new series!


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

Friday, April 20, 2018

Frugal Friday

First of all I apologize again for the lack of posts lately.  Last week W lost his job after 25 years.  We were expecting it, but that did not change the fact that it threw us for a loop.  We do not have as big a cushion in our emergency fund as before building the house.  Still we will be okay for several months even if we do not bring in any money.  Of course, we plan on bringing in money.  At this point in time we plan to try to make it through various means.  We plan for our hobby farm/homestead to bring in some income.  W is going to expand his side business.  I have some teaching jobs lined up and will also be opening an Etsy shop.  I will share more about the Etsy shop once I have it up and running.


All of that being said - frugal has taken on a new meaning in our house.  If we are able to do without something, we will.  I have been spending time on the reward sites (Bing, Swagbucks, MyPoints) to earn gift cards for necessary purchases.  I have been listing things on eBay as well. 


We are expecting this year to be on the lean side financially.  Rather than focusing on what we are doing without, we are looking at our blessings.  We have no mortgage on our home.  We have a full pantry and two full freezers.  It is garden season, and we will soon have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to eat.  Thanks to a neighbor finding a great deal on pet food a couple of months ago, we have at least a three month supply of pet food for everyone.  We have no car payments, cell phone contracts, or satellite contract. 


We prayed about everything that was going on with W's job and turned it completely over to God.  Things do not always work out like we plan, but they always work out.  I hope you will join me on this new adventure.  I plan to be here more and share how we are thriving. 


*In case anyone is too concerned, W does have a standing job offer in case our current plans to do work out.  He just needs a break from punching a time clock after the past few months of stress.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Weekend Book Reviews

Natural Thorn Killer by Kate Dyer-Seeley is the first book in the Rose City Mystery series.  Britta leaves her lazy, cheating husband to return to Portland and her aunt Elin who raised her.  Elin owns a floral shop called Blooma and is thrilled to have the extra help at the shop.  When a sleazy real estate developer is found dead in Blooma, Britta is determined to find the killer before Elin winds up in jail.  I enjoyed this start to a new cozy series.  The characters were varied and charismatic.  I felt like I was right in the middle of the story.  I enjoyed the information about flowers, but it did not overwhelm the mystery.  I am already looking forward to the second book. 

June Shaw's latest book in the Twin Sisters Mystery series is A Manor of Murder.  Twin sisters, Sunny and Eve, are upset that their mother plans to marry a new resident at Sugar Ledge Manor.  They hardly know anything about him aside from the fact they are renovating his nephew Edward's house.  Edward is also pushing the couple to marry sooner rather than later.  When Edward is found murdered soon after firing the sisters, they are at the top of the suspect list.  This is my first book in the series, but I had no trouble following along.  The characters are well developed.  The series features a Louisiana theme and was just a fun read overall.  The book features a couple of side stories including Sunny's romance with a man her sister is interested in and the murder of their older sister many years ago.  Neither of these seemed out of place or was confusing for a first time reader.

A Reisling to Die by J.C. Eaton is the first book The Wine Trail Mysteries series.  J.C. Eaton is actually a husband and wife writing team and among my favorite authors.  I enjoyed their first series and love this one as well.  Norrie is a screenwriter living in New York City and also a silent partner in her family's winery, Two Witches Winery.  When Norrie's brother-in-law gets a chance to travel to Costa Rica, he and Norrie's sister call on Norrie to oversee the winery.  On her first day in charge a body is found on the property, and Norrie wants the mystery wrapped up quickly to prevent any bad publicity for the winery.  While I figured out the killer quickly, the writing was so good that it did not detract from the book.  The cast of characters from winery workers to neighbors makes the book worth reading.

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

Monday, April 9, 2018

Weekly Goals Update: Week 14

1.  Disaster Preparedness
Week 14 is mental preparedness.  I do not spend piles of time thinking about disasters.  I do think I handle emergencies pretty well.  Perhaps it is due to my time as a volunteer fire fighter.  I pretty much did nothing in regard to this.

2.  Makeover the Garden
W finished building two more raised beds and one divided herb bed.  I filled one bed and moved a small one to another area of the garden.  I neglected to harden off my hot pepper plants before planting them, and they all died.  I planted seed directly in the garden.  I also planted gifted pepper, tomato, and eggplant plants.  I filled the first herb bed and also planted herb seeds in other areas of the garden.

3.  Organize Recipes
I am saving this one for when the weather gets hot or winter returns.

4.  Have 13 No Spend Grocery Weeks
This did not happen last week, but I am aiming for one this week or next.

5.  Focus on Saving
I am trying to get back to super saving mode starting this week.  My focus for the remainder of April will be on making do with what we have.  I am also spending a bit of time each day working to earn gift cards to purchase needed items.

6.  Have Fun
This past week my fun was definitely working in the garden.  I love going out each day and checking on the plants.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Weekend Book Reviews

Murder, She Knit by Peggy Ehrhart is the first book in the Knit & Nibble Mystery series.  Pamela is a widow, and her daughter has recently gone off to college.  Pamela keeps herself busy with her job with a craft magazine and with the Knit & Nibble knitting club.  She invites new to town but old friend Amy to join the club at her house, but Amy never arrives.  Instead Pamela finds Amy murdered in her yard.  Pamela and her friend/neighbor Bettina set out to solve the crime.  I found the mystery and characters intriguing.  As this is the first book in the series, readers do not get an in depth introduction.  I look forward to getting to know the characters as well as feline Catrina in future books!

Vivien Chien's first book in the Noodle Shop Mystery series is Death by Dumpling.  Lana is back at her family's restaurant after a break-up and sudden exit from her former job.  She is settling in, but she is thrown for a loop when the restaurant's property manager, Mr. Feng, dies after eating a dumpling from the restaurant.  When it appears she and the cook are the top suspects, Lana and her roommate, Megan, decide to investigate.  Lana is a wonderful cozy heroine, and Megan is practically the perfect sidekick.  My only problem was the book did not flow as smoothly as possible.  Perhaps this was due to the fact that it is the first in the series.  This would not be enough to keep me from reading the second upcoming book in the series. 

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