Saturday, June 24, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Marriage is Pure Murder by Staci McLaughlin is book six in the Blossom Valley Mystery series.  Dana, who works at O'Connell Organic Farm and Spa, is getting married.  She decided that the farm will be the perfect wedding venue, and the entire staff is helping her pull off the wedding.  The bride gets sidetracked when she finds her florist, Bethany, dead.  I have read this series previously, but I do not feel it is necessary to enjoy this book.  The characters and setting are fun, and I especially like Wilbur the pig.  This is a wonderful addition to the series.

The second book in the Oakwood Mystery series by Leslie Nagel is The Antique House Murders.  I had read and reviewed the first book in this series.  The romance and foul language were toned down a bit in this book.  Charley is buying items from the estate of Augusta Mulbridge for her vintage clothing store with help from her mentor Calvin Prescott.  When she goes to collect her items, she found Calvin dead.  Despite warnings from her police officer boyfriend, Charley dives into the complicated investigation.  I liked the book.  The ending was exciting but seemed to drag on slightly.  I found the improvements over the last book to be enough to have me looking forward to book three!

Mulch Ado About Murder by Edith Maxwell is book five in the Local Foods Mystery series.  I have not read any of the previous books in this series.  At the very beginning, I was confused by all of the characters.  I was able to sort everyone out though.  Cam is busy with planting on her farm and a visit from her often absent parents.  Her own mother is protesting the new hydroponic farm when Cam arrives to deliver seedlings. When the new farm's owner is found murdered, Cam's mother is one of the prime suspects.  I really enjoyed the characters and the farm setting in this book.  Cam's father is the perfect match to her mother's personality.  I look forward to more from this series as well as reading previous books.

Vicky Fee's One Fete in the Grave is book three in the Liv and Di in Dixie Mystery series.  This series is not the most in-depth if you are looking for the focus to be on a difficult to solve mystery.  Often I like to read a book for the characters and setting with a little mystery thrown in.  This book easily stands on its own.  I love that it is a good Southern themed book.  Friends Liv and Di are trying to solve the death of an unlikeable citizen of Dixie.  The main suspect is Liv's mother's fiancee, and Liv is determined to keep the wedding plans on track.  I love how Dixie and its citizens are authentically Southern.  The book features plenty of sweet tea and proper Southern manners.  For those reasons and more, this series remains one of my favorites!

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 25

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
Last week was spent with me either tutoring or canning (with W's help).  The only new house project we finished was finally moving my piano from the old house to the new.  W actually did it while I was gone to pick tomatoes at a local farm.  This week has rain in the forecast for much of the week so I am not sure if we will get much accomplished.  He wants to work on the yard/garden or finish some tile work in the back bathroom.

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday & Holiday Gifts
I am saving for holiday gifts since we have a long stretch between birthdays for the next few months.  I have been keeping my eye out for anything that would be perfect for someone on my list.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I picked herbs, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, and squash last week.  I have also ordered the rest of the seeds I need for my fall garden.  It might seem odd to be thinking about that before summer is officially here.  I do need to get some of the seeds started in peat pellets in about three weeks though.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I was so busy with tomatoes last week that I never made the mocha madeleines.  That is on my list for later this week.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
I went to a neighbor's yard sale and got some wonderful things for boy and girl boxes.  She gave me a deal since she knew I doing with everything.  My goal is to start packing in August so I need to get busy on those washcloths.

6.  Boost Savings
I put another chunk of money toward the credit card debt and have watched my spending.  We are still on track to knock off that debt next month.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Healing for Men by Rosemary Gladstar focuses on herbal remedies for men's health problems.  In addition to to providing preparation information and herbal remedy recipes, the book also offers an in-depth look at 29 herbs.  Some of the herbs may be hard to find.  With the help of online shopping, finding them is not impossible.  As with all of Ms. Gladstar's books, this one is thorough and very informative.  It will be a wonderful addition to your herbal medicine library!

Bearly Departed by Meg Macy is the first book in A Teddy Bear Mystery series. The book introduces readers to Sasha, manager of the family business, Silver Bear Shop and Factory.  The business sales rep, Will,  pops in with some unpopular news about changes to the business.  Sasha and her sister, Maddie, find Will murdered in the factory.  The mystery is a bit weak as the murderer is quite obvious early on.  I want to like the characters, but each has something unlikeable.  Sasha wallows in self-pity about a past wrong.  Her parents are dealing with a minor medical situation and seem unable to return calls from Sasha or Maddie.  Yet their mom can call everyone else to gossip.  The small town teddy bear shop is a wonderful setting for a cozy mystery.  I think the characters have room for development, and I would give a second book a chance.

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

52 New Recipes: Weeks 23 & 24

Sadly I have no picture for the first new recipe:  Loaded Chicken Salad.  Initially I was very interested in trying this new recipe.  When I started mixing it all together, I wondered if it was going to be a big flop.  Then I served it, and W declared it the best chicken salad I ever made.  It is not your usual chicken salad, but that is not a bad thing.  In this case being different is very, very good.  I am happy to say that the loaded chicken salad was even better the next day.  I am adding this to my summer sandwich rotation.

The second recipe is Roasted Tomatillo Salsa.  I did a smaller version of the recipe using tomatillos from a local farmer's market.  I followed the recipe but left out the cilantro.  My problem is that it tastes like stink bugs or how I imagine a stink bug would taste based on the way it smells. It was delicious although on the spicier side, but I love spicy foods.  W liked it as much or better than our more traditional salsa.  I liked it enough to make plans to add tomatillos to the garden next year.  The directions on blog are excellent.

I have a couple of ideas for next week's recipe but no definite plans yet.  Have you tried anything new recently?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Reader Question: Ice Cream

I had a question from "olderandwiser" on my my new recipe ice cream post:  Do you use pasteurized eggs in your ice cream?

I do not use pasteurized eggs.  The reason behind this is that the eggs are cooked thoroughly when they are added to the hot milk and heated further.  Some people take the temperature of the custard base, but I do not.  Allowing the mixture to thicken completely is my assurance that the eggs are cooked enough.  If you were to just mix everything together without heating it, you might want to consider pasteurized eggs.

I hope this helps.  Let me know if you try making your own ice cream!

Monday, June 12, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 24

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
I am happy to say that we finally got the better of that front door.  We had one good sunny day this past week.  I primed the door, and W painted it.  The following day I did some touch ups and reattached the kick plate.  I think it looks much better now.

We also finished the bench for the front porch.  When we bought out aquarium, it came with a base that we did not need.  It was the perfect height for a bench though.  We already had plywood on hand.  I ordered foam padding (boat seat type) for $16, and we found the fabric on clearance for $4.

We are expecting rain every day for the coming week.  That means plans for what to work on are up in the air again.  I am happy with each little project we are able to complete.

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday & Holiday Gifts
I need to order my dad's Father's Day gift this week.  I am planning to get him some supplies to cover some lawn chairs.  Not exciting but it will be useful.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
We ate more peppers from the garden as well as a cucumber.  I spent some time this past week pulling weeds.  This week I will continue weeding and pick jalapeno peppers to make poppers for the freezer.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I did end up switching classes.  I started the Miniature French Desserts class.  I need to pick up some cocoa so I can make the first recipe - Mocha Madeleines.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
My aunt gave me some small stuffed animals that her grandchildren received in kids' meals.  I also crocheted two more wash cloths!

6.  Boost Savings
I should have some extra money to put toward the credit card debt this week.  We are still on track to know it out completely by the middle of July.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Barking Up the Wrong Bakery by Stella St. Claire is the first book in the Happy Trails Dog Walking Mystery series.  Olivia owns her own dog walking business.  She has a great boyfriend and an ambitious sister.  The first problem is that Olivia hates change of any kind and will do anything to avoid it.  The second problem or maybe a solution to the first is that Olivia finds the owner of a food truck dead.  Olivia sets out to avoid her boyfriend and sister and solve the murder mystery.  I enjoyed the setting for this series, and the characters are fun with room for growth.  Olivia's commitment phobia gets a little annoying but not enough to make me dislike the book.  I look forward to reading more in this series.

Alex Erickson's Death by Vanilla Latte is book four in the Bookstore Cafe Mystery series.  Krissy's father shows up for a surprise visit which throws her store, Death by Coffee, and her private life into chaos.  Things get worse when she finds her father's agent dead in his room at the local bed and breakfast.  I had read previous books in this series, but it is not at all necessary.  Krissy is a strong lead character, and this book features a good mix of supporting characters.  The mystery kept me guessing until the very end!

disclosure:  I received these e-books from NetGalley but was otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!