Saturday, December 31, 2016

Pantry Challenge Day 3

Breakfast for W was cereal again.  You will see a pattern of than as the next few weeks progress.  I ended up skipping breakfast.  I am not a big breakfast eater normally which is something I hope to work on over the coming month.

Dinner was the rest of the cornbread from day two and Brunswick stew from the freezer.  Every fall I make a huge pot of Brunswick stew and divide into meal sized portion.  It normally lasts us through the winter. 

Supper was snacks since neither of us was very hungry.  W ate pizza rolls.  I ate pizza rolls, chips, and veggies with homemade ranch dressing.

Not a very exciting meal day but some days are like that.  We have too much junk food in the house.  This pantry challenge will be an opportunity to use it up to make room for healthier foods.

Weekend Book Reviews

It may be winter here but 100 Plants to Feed the Bees by The Xerces Society is the perfect book for anyone dreaming of spring gardens.  The color photographs are wonderful.  Each plant is featured in several photographs with a description and map showing where the plant grows.  Also included are lists of the flower visitors and uses for each.  This book is a valuable reference for anyone who wishes to attract not only bees but wasps, butterflies, and hummingbirds to the garden.  With 100 plants there is something for every garden!

Skeleton Keys:  Workplace Hauntings by John Klaan is a book of ten ghost stories related to people's workplaces.  The stories were creepy but will not keep you up at night.  They were retold well by the author.  The black and white photographs added to the book.  If you are interested in ghost stories, this is a good one to read.  They ghostly encounters are shared with seriousness rather than being silly.

Philip Gulley's A Gathering in Hope is book three in a series about a Quaker pastor in a town called Hope.  I have not read any of the prior books.  This particular book had a few good points, but those were far outweighed by the bad.  I felt that the book was targeted toward Christian readers even though it is listed in the humor category.  Many things in the book go against Biblical teachings and even basic human decency.  I was disgusted by the animal cruelty in particular.  I had hoped this would be a fun new series for me to read, but I want nothing more to do with it.

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

Friday, December 30, 2016

Frugal Fridays

I decided to change things up a bit and start doing Frugal Friday posts.  Here are the highlights from the past week.

The pantry challenge is off to a decent start.  I had hoped for a weekly budget of $25 and managed to spend just $19 while stocking up on milk.

The weather was damp and dreary most of the week, but I waited until the sun returned to wash clothes that required more than drying racks.

I avoided purchasing anything during the after Christmas sales.  I did not need anything so it was easy to say No.

My cell phone was missing part of the key pad.  It still worked fine so I planned to use it as long as it lasted.  W found his old phone which was identical to my current one.  He swapped key pads for me.  That should help my phone last longer.  It is a basic phone that only does calls/texts.  It is all I need though so I refuse to upgrade.

I made several thank you cards using items that I had on hand.

We hosted my family's Christmas party.  We always have a light meal of sandwiches, snacks, and desserts.  We were given leftovers and snacked on them for a few days afterwards.

I started back doing Microsoft Rewards and earned a $5 Amazon gift card.  I plan to use the earned gift cards from there and Swagbucks to fund some of my wants over the coming year.

I have been rotating through some of my parents' garden plots to feed the rabbits.  They have been enjoying extra kale, spinach, and mustard as well as some clover.  It prevents having to buy something green for the bunnies.

The weather has been warm so there was very little need for the heat over the past week.  It was quite warm Christmas night.  Turning on the large ceiling fan in the living room eliminated the need for the air conditioner.

Pantry Challenge Day 2

Day two went much smoother.  I stayed home for the most part so it was easier to stick to the pantry for our food.  I apologize for the poor lighting in the pictures.  The sun has been hiding here all week.

Breakfast - W ate cereal.  I had a piece of toast with Nutella, grapes, and coffee.

Dinner was pineapple sandwiches and chips.  I think pineapple sandwiches are a southern thing.  I had cut up a fresh pineapple which we will snack on for several days.  It was delicious on slices of homemade bread with mayonnaise though.

Supper was stew beef with potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery cooked in the slow cooker.  I made corn bread to go with it.  W like the Jiffy Mix style cornbread.  I prefer to make it from scratch.  A few simple ingredients yield the same sweet cornbread.

I can tell that the pantry challenge is getting me back into the habit of meal planning as well.  This weekend I plan to go digging into the refrigerator freezer to see what needs to be used up from there.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Pantry Challenge - Day 1

The best way to start off a pantry challenge is probably not with a trip to the grocery store, but that is how I am starting.  W needed milk and cereal, and we were low on half & half.  Coffee is high priority here.  We got lucky and found milk on markdown.  While the picture shows one gallon, I actually purchased six at $1.25 each.  That will have us set for the remainder of the challenge.

Spending first:  I spent $19.  That bought me six gallons of milk, two boxes of cereal, baby carrots, mushrooms, half & half, soy sauce, tomato paste and Italian seasoned tomatoes.  The items were not absolutely necessary but are helpful for some meal plans.

In keeping things honest and real - today found us out running errands much longer than I anticipated. I used some of my personal money to buy us a light dinner.  Since it was not grocery money, I am going to give myself a pass.  I do not plan to make a habit of it.  This just happened to occur on the first day of the pantry challenge.  

I made up for it by cooking an early supper of ham fried rice and rolls.  I used some rice I had a frozen a couple of weeks ago, frozen mixed vegetables, and some of the leftover holiday ham.  The rolls were homemade and also from the freezer.

I am off to an okay start.  I will not let a minor slip up discourage me.  Check back tomorrow to see how day two goes!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Pantry Challenge

Now that the holidays are pretty much over, I feel the need to do a winter pantry challenge.  The extra push might have came Christmas night.  My cousin came out of my pantry and announced that in the event of a zombie apocalypse he was coming to my house.  I am all for being prepared, but even I am willing to admit we need to eat what we have rather than buy more.

My goal will be to plan meals and snacks based mostly on what is on hand (pantry and freezers).  W will still want his milk and cereal.  I do plan to make a few batches of homemade granola as a cereal substitute.  I will purchase dairy and produce as needed to round out meals.

Today would be my normal grocery day so I am choosing now to start.  My plan is to go through January 31 which will be five weeks.  Half of the savings will go toward paying off the small amount of debt accrued from building our new house.  The other half will go toward future grocery purchases - mainly stocking up on sale items.

Anyone else on board?  Feel free to make up your own rules and timeline.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Healing Herbal Teas

I was excited to review Healing Herbal Teas by Sarah Farr.  I love herbal teas.  I enjoy making my own blends and have expanded my herb garden to include herbs to dry for my teas.  The herbal spotlights included throughout the book were helpful giving a brief overview of each herb.  I was slightly disappointed with the tea recipes included in the book.  This book is for more advanced herbal tea drinkers who are looking to purchase ingredients for blending.  I was more interested in herbal teas that I could make from herbs I grow.

While Healing Herbal Teas was not what I was interested in, it might be just what you want.  If you love herbal teas and are looking to branch out, definitely consider this book.  Be prepared to search a bit for some of the herbs used.  Otherwise you will find the book to be an excellent resource.

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

Monday, December 19, 2016

Weekly Savings

I have kept to a fairly low Christmas shopping budget.  Poor planning meant a few last minute purchases.  I did shop around for my mother's last gift and found a better price with a coupon code and in store pickup.  Shopping around saved me $8!

I used an Amazon gift card and reward points to order peat pellets for free.  I will use these to start my spring garden seeds.  Believe it or not it is time to plant pepper and tomato seeds indoors for my area. 

I stuck close to my grocery budget.  I only have one holiday party to go.  My family party is laid back with sandwiches and snacks.  I expect to start a pantry challenge after Christmas since my pantry is overflowing.

I have started back doing Swagbucks to earn gift cards for extras.

I called the phone company after our phone bill with the new internet upgrade was higher than expected.  The customer service representative discovered a monthly credit was not applied to our bill.  He fixed it and the bill will be closer to what we were expecting.

I am getting an early start on next year's Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes by crocheting wash cloths with donated yarn.  I will be on a much tighter budget this coming year but feel this is an important ministry project. 

I received a protein bar that I won in an online instant win game. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Pot Luck

Pot Luck by Kendel Lynn is book four in the Elliot Lisbon Mystery series.  I had not read any of the previous books.  After reading this one, the other three are on my wish list.  Elliot is a great southern character with a touch of OCD and a start on her PI license.  This book is set around St. Patrick's Day and the Pot of Gold cook-off.  A chef turns up dead, and it is up to Elliot to solve the mystery.  At the same time she is the temporary caretaker for two rambunctious pugs - Colonel Mustard and Mrs. White.  This is a fun book.  I enjoyed the bit of humor along with the mystery.  It was also nice to see both sides of a coastal beach town from million dollar condos to the trailer park.  I enjoyed the honesty in both the characters and the setting.

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

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

Mistletoe Mysteries:  Tales of Yuletide Murder is a collection of Christmas themed short mysteries.  The mysteries are light and provide quick reads. The subtitle is a bit misleading as not at all of the stories involve murder.  Each of the stories revolves around the holiday season.  My favorite was a Christmas themed ghost story, "The Live Tree" by John Lutz.  With tales from Mary Higgins Clark, Eric Wright, and Susan Dunlap, this book offers something for everyone.

Detox Delish:  Your Guide to Clean Eating by Jennifer Mac has a Biblical side focus for plant based  eating.   As the title suggests the book has a main focus on detox.  The first portion of the book explains about the author's life and her reasons for a raw, plant based diet.  The second half focuses on the detox plan and the raw food recipes.  While the idea is good, I am not convinced it is for everyone. The idea of a multiple day fast will work for some but not all.  Many of the ideas and recipes can be incorporated into anyone's diet though.

The Seven-Course Christmas Killer by Rosie Genova is a holiday themed short mystery from the Italian Kitchen Mystery series.  I have not read anything else in the series, but I was easily able to follow this short story.  This is a fast paced mystery that takes place during a traditional Italian Christmas Eve celebration.  Victoria and her sister have to find out who is trying to kill the mayor before the seventh course is served.  I found this to be a wonderful little taste of the series and definitely made me want to read more.  It is a fun, short, holiday mystery

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

Friday, December 9, 2016

Furry Friday

I needed some pictures of the grandpets for my mother's Christmas calendar gift.  I thought I would share those today.

Lucy is very prim and proper

Paris' favorite napping spot in the new house

Leo loves his big beds and his cozy nook

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

My Latest Favorite Cookbook

When I was searching for a cake to make for Thanksgiving, I stumbled across a recipe for a Maple Streusel Pumpkin cake.  It looked beautiful and seemed simple enough.  I knew when I mixed the batter that the cake was going to be good.  I had no idea just how good.  It was moist, sweet but not too sweet, and delicious.

The recipe is from the book Simply Beautiful Homemade Cakes by Lindsay Conchar of the blog Life, Love and Sugar.  I knew when I made the cake that I wanted the cookbook.  Now that I have the cookbook, I want to bake my way through the entire thing.

I also made a banana pudding cake that seems to be all the rage right now.  The problem is that the cake layers are awful.  I turned to Live, Love, and Sugar for a banana cake recipe.  I made it into three layers filled with a whipped cream/vanilla pudding mixture and sliced bananas.  I covered the outside with stabilized whipped cream and vanilla wafer.  The revised cake was so much better than the first.

I highly recommend both the blog and the cookbook for great dessert recipes (disclosure:  I purchased the cookbook myself.  Lindsay has no idea who I am.  I just love her recipes.)  My only problem is deciding what to bake next!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Weekly Savings

I did my grocery shopping earlier in the week when I had an errand to run and did not go back into town.  I stuck to my budget.

I finished crocheting two more infinity scarves for gifts.  I decided to make matching hair bows since I already had plenty of yarn and the alligator clips.

I worked on gifts for friends.  I am not sharing what those are since several friends do read the blog.

I hand delivered a few Christmas cards rather than mail them out.

I did minimal post-Thanksgiving shopping.  I used gift cards to get some free magazines.  I used another gift card to get myself a very nice pair of fingerless gloves for shipping only.  I ordered W a reusable water bottle for free with a promotional code.

I bought some clothing for W and myself from during their Cyber Monday sale.  W and I both wear hard to find sizes so I try to stock up on items when I find a great deal.

I got back to basic cooking.  I made hamburger buns, rolls, and ranch dressing this week.  I also made cornbread from scratch rather than purchase a boxed mix.  I made chili without the use of a seasoning packet.  I find cooking from scratch to be cheaper and much healthier.

W and I processed a deer he killed.  We eat mainly venison.  The cost of having a deer processed where we live is crazy.  The equipment was worth the investment and has paid for itself many times over.  We vacuum seal the meat so that it lasts longer in the freezer.

W picked several baskets of lemons from the neighbor's tree.  We have slowly been juicing them and freezing the juice to use throughout the year.  He also had permission to dig up a few young trees that had sprouted to add to our little orchard.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Classic German Baking

When I saw that Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss contained an authentic recipe for Black Forest Cake, I knew I wanted to add it to my collection.  Unfortunately I have yet to actually try that recipe since no one else in my family eats that cake.  Let's look at the positives of the book first.  The hardcover version has a lovely binding.  The cover of the book is beautiful.  A wide variety of recipes are included ranging from cookies to tortes to breads/rolls.

This book definitely had some drawbacks for me. First is the obscure ingredients.  Many of the recipes call for high-fat, European-style butter which I will never every find in any grocery store near me.  I appreciate that it might be needed for authentic German results.  I do wish the author had considered her American audience.  A lengthy process is given for making your own quark, but some research (not the author) told me that Greek Yogurt is an acceptable substitute at least for my purposes.  The second drawback is the lack of pictures of the food.  The book includes plenty of pictures of Germany which would be better suited to a travel book rather than a cookbook.  Some pictures could truly have been taken at any location and added nothing to appeal of the book.

Those negatives aside I did throw caution to the wind and baked the Schwarz-Weiss Geback (Checkerboard Cookies) with regular American butter.  Neither my husband nor I have tasted the true German version.  We both agreed that the cookies were quite good.  Despite the author's stern warning that non-European butter would not work at all, I will be trying more of the recipes with regular butter.

In spite of the negatives I do like this cookbook.  It will not be one that I use everyday.  I do expect to experiment with more recipes.  I am determined to make that black forest cake too!

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

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

Shades of Wrath by Karen Rose Smith is book six in the Caprice De Luca Mystery series.  I had not read any of the previous books but had no problem jumping right into this one.  Caprice is a home stager and is asked to make over some areas of a mansion for a women's shelter.  Things are going well until the director of the shelter is found murdered.  Caprice gets drawn into the mystery.  The characters are interesting, and I liked the spotlight on domestic issues.  The writing was good but not great.  I felt that some aspects of the book (the reality tv show) added little to it.  I was looking for a bit more.  While not a bad book, Shades of Wrath is not one of my favorites.

Haunted is Always in Fashion by Rose Pressey is book three in the Haunted Vintage Mystery series.  This cozy mystery leans far to the fantasy side.  The main character, Cookie, owns a vintage clothing store and has a ghost following her around.  I like a good ghost story, but I am not sure this qualifies.  While the mystery was interesting, most of the book focused on what Cookie was wearing that day.  I felt that the book lacked depth and was lighter than what I prefer to read.  If what you enjoy is a fluffy, fantasy book, this will be perfect.

Queen of the Cookbooks by Ashton Lee is part of the Cherry Cola Book Club series.  It is marketed as women's fiction.   Overall I was very disappointed.  I kept reading thinking eventually something interesting would happen.  Spoiler alert:  The Queen of the Cookbooks is crowned about halfway through the book.  Things were too syrupy sweet and perfect.  I do not mind a feel good, fictional novel, but I do want the book to be sightly believable.  I have not read any of the previous books.  If there was any character development it happened prior to this book.  I think with a bit of adjustment it would be better for teens/young adults.

First Degree Mudder by Kate Dyer-Seeley is book four in the Pacific Northwest series.  This is the first book I have read in the series.  It features two mysteries.  The main mystery takes place when main character, Meg, signs up for Mind Over Mudder to help her train for a mud run.  She finds trainer and former drill sergeant Billy dead.  The side mystery involves Meg looking into the death of her father which happened years before.  The book also features a bit of romance.  I enjoyed the main mystery and also how the series has room for development over time.

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

Monday, November 28, 2016

Weekly Savings

I am covering a couple of weeks in the post.  I managed to come in close to budget on groceries for the holidays.  I did a two week shop since I plan to stay far away from the grocery store this week.  W did make a quick stop to pick up three items for me.

W picked three big bags of lemons from a neighbor's tree.  The tree is in a pasture, and the neighbor never picks even one so is glad to share.  I  gave one bag away.  We juiced the rest.  Most went into the freezer for lemonade.  Some of the juice will become lemon curd.  I did forget to buy lemonade concentrate for Thanksgiving, but we will have free homemade lemonade which is better.

I used a gift card (one of the found ones) to purchase Christmas ornaments for the new house.  It was nice to get free decorations!

Thanksgiving was a potluck affair at my house.  One aunt provided the paper products.  My mom, another aunt, and mother-in-law contributed some food.  W's brother brought ice.  We had 23 people for dinner (lunch to the non-southern areas).  Eleven of us gathered for supper to eat leftovers.  It was a fun day, and the layout of our living room kitchen worked just as we had hoped for hosting a large crowd.

I spent some time working in the garden.  I topped off two raised beds with dirt from pots that were in the garden.  Since the dumped dirt was full of earthworms, I put the wire covers on top of the raised beds to keep the chickens out.

I started addressing Christmas cards.  I bought the cards on clearance last year since I knew I would not have time to make my own.  My $14 worth of cards cost me just $3.50.

I have been using homemade cleaners (vinegar/essential oils/water) and old washcloths for cleaning.  The washcloths get washed and reused.  It is cheap, effective, and no waste.

I stayed away from the stores this past weekend.  I did purchase some DVDs and two books from Amazon with gift cards.  My only real purchase (a small toaster oven) was planned in advance.  I found one at Lowe's with free shipping.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Weekend Book Review: A Killer Location

Sarah T. Hobart's, A Killer Location, is book two in the Home Sweet Home Mystery series.  This book easily stands on its own which is always important to me.  Let me start with the bad.  The book opens with main character, Sam, dating her sister's ex.  That might go over well in the fictional town of Arlinda, California.  Here in the rural south it is just weird.  I had a very hard time getting over that point, but I continued reading.

The mystery was decent, but the characters were too weak.  Sam seems like the worst real estate agent ever.  The book had promise but is just not a favorite of mine.  The story seemed a bit all over the place. Perhaps I could not get over the fact Sam was dating her sister's ex.  I will give the series another chance, but I hope to see some overall improvements.

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

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Historic Rural Churches of Georgia

I love old churches.  Historic Rural Churches of Georgia  is a fascinating book about the oldest churches in Georgia.  The pictures are gorgeous and show the true beauty of each of these churches.  The history of the churches adds to the interest of the book.  Once I started I could not put the book down.  Even my husband who is not a reader came over to look at the pictures and started reading the historic profiles.  This book would be a wonderful gift for the hard to buy for history buff on your Christmas list.  This is an excellent book and one of my favorites from this year!

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

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Cat Got Your Diamonds

Cat Got Your Diamonds by Julie Chase is the first book in the Kitty Couture Mystery series.  The main character, Lacy, is the owner of Furry Godmother, a pet boutique and treat bakery, in New Orleans.  Everything is going well until someone is murdered near her shop.  She is questioned by the police, and her investor drops out.  Lacy must solve the murder in order to save her shop and her freedom.

This is a fun book.  The characters are interesting, and I look forward to seeing how they develop as the series progresses. They mystery side of the book was also good and kept me hooked until the end.   Several small plot lines were interwoven into the main story of the book.  The pet recipes at the end were a nice addition, and I look forward to trying some of them for my pets.  Cat Got Your Diamonds is a wonderful cozy mystery for animal lovers!

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

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Another Day Another Dali

Sandra Orchard's book, Another Day Another Dali, was an engaging mystery.  This is the first book I have read by Sandra Orchard, but it will definitely not be the last.  Serena, the main character,  works for the FBI in the art theft division.  When her very proper Nana requests her help, Serena is pulled into a dangerous mystery.  With help from her family and friends as well as her partner, she tries to unravel the mystery before she ends up dead.

While this is not the first book in the series, it easily stands on its own.  Another positive is that the book is clean - no ugly language and only a slight bit of romance.  The characters add to the interest of the book.  Aunt Martha is my favorite!  I especially like the focus on family.  Serena's cat is also quite the character and adds to the charm of the book.  I will definitely be reading more in this series!

disclosure:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Growing and Harvesting Roselle

Roselle is a type of hibiscus used for herbal tea.  It is easy to purchase, but I am trying to be more self sufficient.  You can purchase seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  They are currently out of stock, but seeds can be purchased from other places.  I think I got mine from eBay.

I started my seeds in peat pellets early in the spring.  I transplanted the plants into my raised beds and left them to grow.  The plants got very big, but there were no blooms.  By September I was beginning to think it had all been a waste of time.  Finally in October I saw some tiny blooms starting to form. Maybe the fact that it was still nearly 90 degrees had something to do with it.

The blooms last just one day and then fall off.  After this the calyx will continue to grow.

Here is a calyx right after the flower has dropped off.

This is one that has continued to grow.  You can see the size difference as well as the seed pod.  I was able to just snap them off by hand, but you can also use a pair of clippers.

This website has a good explanation of how to remove the seed pod.  I cut the bottom of the stem off and was able to pull out the seed pod.  Here is another good resource.

I put them in the dehydrator to dry completely.  Then I vacuum sealed them in glass jars.

Now that I know what I am doing.  I will grow more.  I plan to leave a few of the calyx on the plants so that the seed pods can dry.  I will grow some in the garden but will most likely put a few in the front yard as the plants are quite pretty.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fall Decorating - Cotton Bolls

I mentioned last week and in the weekly savings post that I decorated for fall using cotton bolls.  Just in case you are not sure what cotton plants look like, I took a picture of a field near my home.

Farmers now defoliate the cotton so it all opens at once making for more efficient harvesting.  I am fortunate that I have family that grows cotton so I was able to get a few stalks for free.

My original intention was to make a wreath for the front door.  I used a grape vine wreath as a base and just added pieces of cotton until it was as full as I liked.  I have not actually hung it on the door since I am not certain where to hang it.

My uncle brought me more than the two stalks I asked for so I had plenty of leftover cotton.   I used it and some small artificial pumpkins that my mom gave me on my mantle.  I bought the scarecrow many years ago on clearance.  The pumpkin floral arrangement on the right was one I made many years ago.  The orchid in the center was a gift from W and while not exactly frugal it will last for some time.

Looking at the setup I realize that I need to rearrange things a bit before I am done, but this will work for now.

My only purchase this year was a real pumpkin that I got for $1.  I will use it as part of my Thanksgiving table decorations.  I wanted it primarily for the seeds which would have cost me more than $1.  I hope to be able to grow some of my own next year.

Remember the pumpkin flower containers I made last month.  The mums still looked good, and I hated to put the containers away just yet.  I simply turned them around so the jack-o-lantern face was not visible.  I will be able to get another month's use out of them.

Those are my thrifty decorations for the month of November.  Have you done any Thanksgiving decorating?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Weekly Savings

I stuck to my grocery budget this past week.  Yeah!  That felt really good.  With the upcoming holidays I know those on or under budget grocery trips will be fewer.

We had a moving sale over the weekend.  I advertised on Facebook and through a radio station's free call in program.  We sold quite a bit of stuff and had nothing out of pocket since the sale was held in our old home.

I decorated for Thanksgiving very inexpensively.  My mom offered me some small artificial pumpkins to put on the mantle.  I used more of the cotton bolls.  My only expense was a pumpkin purchased on clearance for $1.  I will use it for decorating through Thanksgiving.  After that I will save the seeds to plant next year and feed the pumpkin to the chickens.

I finally harvested  my roselle (Jamaican sorrel) and dried it in the dehydrator.  I use this in my herbal teas so it is nice to be closer to  knocking one more item off my purchase list.  I will be saving seeds to plant next year.

I baked four loaves of bread this week.

W and I had a movie night at home with a used DVD I had purchased and snacks.

I did the usual too - hung clothes to dry, packed W's lunch, cooked meals at home, and avoided any unnecessary shopping.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

Dangling by a Thread by Lea Wait is book four in the Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series.  I had read (and reviewed) a previous book in this series, but the book stands on its own.  In this particular book the needlepoint took a back seat.  Angie gets wrapped up in the mystery of the death of a hermit, Jesse.  Jesse has created a sanctuary for Great Cormorants, an endangered bird.  The setting and characters are a main draw of this book, and I look forward to more in the series.

Susan Farrow's Dying for Strawberries is the first book in the Berry Basket Mystery series.  Readers are introduced to Marlee Jacob who returns to her hometown of Oriole Point.  She owns The Berry Basket, a store for all things berries in this small harbor town.  A dead body as well as an attempt on her own life put Marlee at the center of a mystery.  She must solve the crime before she becomes the next victim.    The mystery was well thought out, and I enjoyed the book.  I can see great opportunities for character development with this series.

Eggnog Murder is a set of three short cozy mysteries by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross.  The other two stories are Death by Eggnog and Nogged Off.  The holiday themed stories are perfect with the Christmas season fast approaching.  They are quick fun reads, but I felt the mysteries were still strong.  As always, I enjoyed the characters and settings each author created.  The books are a wonderful introduction to each author's cozy mystery series.  This is a great choice if you are new to these authors.

Pocketbooks and Pistols by Dorothy Howell is part of the Haley Randolph Mystery series.  The mystery aspect of this book was good. The main character, Haley, leans toward shallow, self-centered, and annoying.  This is definitely light reading, and I would have enjoyed it more if Haley had more depth to her.  Her obsessions with designer shopping and coffee are a sad commentary on today's society.  If you can get over the main character's weak personality, it is a good book.

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Late Holiday Planning Start & Freezer Cooking

Normally every year at the end of August I do the Holiday Grand Plan.  This year was too crazy with finishing up the new house.  We are hosting Thanksgiving and two family Christmas parties at our house this year though.  I cannot put off thinking about the holidays any longer.

Yesterday I sat down and wrote out a gift list.  As for the meals Thanksgiving and one family party will be potluck.  I will let W give me an idea of the menu for his family party and go from there.  One thing I like to do is have a few meals/sides in the freezer to make things easier on me at mealtime during the holidays.  It frees me up on the days prior to the actual party days so I am not stressed and end up having takeout.  Since time is limited this year, I made a smaller freezer meal list.

Chicken pot pie filling
Chicken tenders
Brunswick stew
English muffins
Macaroni & cheese
Tomato Basil Soup
Barbecue pork
Spaghetti sauce
Spaghetti pies

Do you have any favorite freezer meals/sides?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Weekly Savings

We have been preparing for our moving sale.  My mom brought some things she wanted to sale.  We ended up swapping a few items with each other.  She had a blanket and pizza pans that I could use, and I had some rugs and towels she could use.

I made a wreath for the front door using a grapevine wreath I had and some cotton stalks my uncle gave me.  It is a nice free fall decoration.  I will share it in a later post.

While grocery shopping, W discovered gallons of milk on markdown.  We bought enough to last us a month.  I used a $5 off coupon that I received for completing a survey.

On the subject of groceries, I made out and stuck to a weekly menu.  Life is not quite settled, but it was good to get back to cooking.

The remote control for our television went out.  It was still somewhat usable, but we were not able to access Netflix.  I found a replacement remote through Amazon for just $11.  That is definitely less than the cost of a new TV.  The motherboard went out several months ago so we are not able to use our Roku.  Eventually this television will go into our bedroom when we have saved to purchase a new one for the living room.

I needed pretzels for my Bible lesson.  A large bag was on sale. It was more than I needed for my class so W took the remainder as a snack in his lunch.

I harvested an eggplant from my garden and jalapeno peppers from my parents' garden.

I found three more gift cards while I was moving things from the old house.  These went into my wallet to be used and not forgotten again.

I made a sympathy card using materials on hand rather than purchase one.

My hair had not grown out to the point that it was hard to style so I cancelled my hair appointment.  I will wait a few weeks before rescheduling.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Shaken

Shaken by Tim Tebow with A.J. Gregory is a book about faith not football.  This is an important distinction as many people may avoid reading it since it was written by Tim Tebow.  Everyone from the most average person to the biggest celebrity has had moments where they are shaken.  The book focuses on holding onto your faith in those moments.  It is also an book of encouragement.  I think one of my favorite parts is where readers are challenged to answer the question of "whose are you?".  This is more important than who we are.

I also was touched by the section about the visit to the prison.  I enjoyed the way readers are encouraged to do something now.  I was reminded how small things can have a big impact.  Shaken is a good book for Christians and non-Christians.  I was happy to see that Mr. Tebow included a section on how readers can accept Jesus.

Are you wondering if this might be a book you would enjoy?  Click here to download the first chapter for free.  Shaken is a book that I will be sharing with others.  I am happy to be able to share a bit of it with each of you.

disclosure:  I received an advanced reader copy of this book but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews: Cookbooks

Slow Dough Real Bread by Chris Young focuses on the art of baking bread without all of the additives found in store bought breads.  The dough is often left to rest for several hours or even overnight making it even more basic than the breads I normally make.  The recipes come from bakers who support the Real Bread Campaign.  The recipes let time do the work rather than rushing it by adding sugars.  Since I am in between kitchens at the moment, I have not been able to actually test any of the recipes myself.  First on my list will be the Cheese-Topped Chilli and Onion Boule.  Ingredients include weight measurements for those who prefer to bake that way.  The book includes piles of pictures and information on ingredients as well as troubleshooting.  While the recipes are more time consuming, I feel the results will be well worth it.

Liana Werner-Gray's latest book is 10-Minute Recipes.  The focus of the book is eating well to improve your health.  This particular book features recipes allowing you to do that with limited time. The author includes a list of super simple solutions for quick snacks, salads, juices as well as upgrades to foods you are already eating.  Recipes are included for vegans and meat eaters.  Readers will even find a chapter on desserts.  Some of the ingredients may be difficult to find at your local stores, but Amazon is a great shopping option for these.  A few of the recipes are a bit too basic to be actually called recipes which is the main drawback.  This is a nice book for people looking to improve their diet on a limited time schedule.

One to Five by Ryan Scott has an interesting idea.  You take one basic recipe and then turn it into one of five dishes.  The recipes are fairly quick to make and use basic ingredients.  I always like to test a recipe if possible.  This book had several options, but I chose to make Bello Ghanoush using the base recipe for Marinated and Roasted Portobellos.  The base recipe and secondary recipe were easy to follow with clear directions.  The end result was delicious.  I would definitely make it again.  I marked several other recipes to try.  It is nice that cooks have several options from one starting recipe.   This is a good cookbook for both beginning and seasoned cooks.

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

Weekly Savings

We have moved into the new house.  While it is not 100% done, I am thrilled to have a functioning kitchen.  I  am happy to be able to cook again.  None of the meals have been fancy as I am focusing on using up what we have right now.  I did send a treat to work with W for him and his co-workers.

While moving I found a $20 gift card which we put toward some mirrors for the bathrooms.  I also found a spa gift card which is still good.  The moral of this is to use stuff when you get it rather than saving it and forgetting.

We have not had to use the heat or air in our new house.  Even though the lows have been in the 40s, our house has been a comfortable 71 degrees.

My aunt gave me towels she got free with a store coupon.  We have not bought everything new just because the house is new.  I do plan to update things as I find a deal.  Otherwise we are using what we have.

I needed more light bulbs.  The ones I had previously purchased at Amazon had gone up in price but were still cheaper than in stores where I live.  I waited before ordering since we could get by without them.  My patience paid off since the price dropped back down saving me $8.

I accepted two bags of bottle caps from a neighbor.  I will enter them in Coke's reward program to get some free magazine subscriptions.

It has been a quiet week since we are moving things still and trying to get settled.  I am hoping to get back to regular posting over the coming weeks!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews: Dogs and Cats

The Secret Language of Dogs by Victoria Stilwell is an in-depth look at how our canine friends think and communicate.  My dog, Leo, is an important member of my family so any insight I can get into having a better relationship is good.  I enjoyed the different suggestions for training dogs.  The book also provided a wealth of information for reading a dogs signs (tail wagging, facial expressions, etc).  This book would be wonderful for a first time dog parent or someone who already has a canine companion.  It is not a long book, but it provides good material and is easy to read.

Abigail Tucker's book, The Lion in the Living Room, is described as being about how cats took over the world.  I just knew I was going to love since I love house cats.  The problem is that I am not certain Mrs. Tucker loves cats.  The book started off well with an anthropological lesson on cats.  Then it quickly morphed into everything that is negative about cats.  Yes, I agree that cats kill too many birds.  Connecting cats in a home during childhood and mental illness was a stretch for me.  I finished the book.  The only reason for that was I expected it to get better.  If you want some basic anthropology on cats and plenty of information on why they are detrimental to the entire world, this is a great book.  However cat lovers might want to steer clear.

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

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Danielle Walker's Against All Grain Celebrations

Danielle Walker's Against All Grain Celebrations is the latest book by the best-selling author.  I have friends/family who are gluten- or dairy-free, and I hate for them to be left out of any special meal.  Mrs. Walker's book is packed with recipes for every occasion from New Year's Eve to Christmas and all in between.  While not all of the ingredients she uses are available in my small town, I had no my trouble locating them through Amazon.  My husband put the Sunbutter Buckeyes on my to try list.  The Pumpkin Spice Latte would be wonderful for a fall gathering of friends.  I plan to make the Smoky Candied Bacon Sweet Potatoes for Thanksgiving this year.  With make ahead directions many of these recipes are great for holiday dinners and other special occasions.

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

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

Death by Pumpkin Spice by Alex Erickson is book three in the Bookstore Cafe Mystery series.  Krissy and her best friend, Vickie, are co-owners of Death by Coffee, a coffee shop and bookstore.  This particular book takes place primarily over the course of one night at a Halloween party.  With Krissy, Vickie, along with Officer Dalton and a pile of other guests stuck at the party with a dead body, the race is on to find the killer.  I enjoyed the Halloween setting and the characters.  I would like to see Krissy be more self-assured in future books, but that was the only downfall.

Mary McHugh's latest book in the Happy Hoofers Mystery series is High Kicks, Hot Chocolate, Homicides.  The Happy Hoofers are a five member dance troupe, and they have been invited to join the Rockettes in their Christmas show.  It sounds like the chance of lifetime until the bodies start piling up.  Mary Louise gets drawn a little too deep into the mystery while helping one of the Rockettes.  This is a fun book but definitely on the lighter side even as far as cozy mysteries go.

Unlucky Charms by Linda O. Johnson is book three in the Superstition Mystery series.  I had not read the first two books but was not at all lost.  The book is set in the town of Destiny which is completely focused on superstitions of all kinds.  I am not a superstitious person and after a few chapters, I found it to be annoying.  I understand that is the point of the book so the dislike is purely a personal one.  The characters were interesting, and I enjoyed the mystery aspect.  If you love superstitions, this is an excellent book to read.  If they irk you, steer clear.

Paula Paul's book, A Killer Closet, started off good.  Irene moves back home to help care for her mother and opens a high end consignment shop to support the two of them  On the day her new store is to open, a body is found in the store.  She soon finds herself in the middle of a growing murder mystery that includes quite a few skeletons in the closet.  The first half was good, but the second half dissolved into foul language.  I generally consider curse words as a waste of space.  They add nothing to the story and are often a sign of lack of wit or skill.  Without that the book would have been great.

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

Friday, October 7, 2016

Feathered Friday - Pheasants

I have neglected to mention that we have four pheasants.  As with many of our pets, they were homeless.  Also as with most of our pets they are a bit unusual.

I have been told that if a pheasant escapes it's pen, it will never be seen again.  Ours have gotten out a couple of times.  They always hang out right at the pen waiting for us to let them in again.

One of them thinks she is a duck as she often stand in the water dish.

They are not super friendly animals and prefer to keep their distance for the most part.  We currently only have four, but I think W would love to add to the flock.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Pumpkin Flower Container

I saw the idea for making inexpensive pumpkin flower containers here.  I purchased two plastic pumpkins for $1 each.

I already had the paint.  It originally cost $6 and is Krylon in oil rubbed bronze.  Each plastic pumpkin got a quick coat of paint.

I added in a small potted mum ($1.50 each).  I got some that are not yet blooming, but they will have dark red blooms.  They look lovely sitting on the steps of the new house.

Not counting the paint which was left from another project, I have $5 (plus a bit of tax) in the two decorations.  They will be lovely decorations to keep out for the month of October.  The plastic pumpkins can go into storage at the end of the month to be used again next year.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Weekend Book Review: 101 One-Dish Dinners

Andrea Chesman's book, 101 One-Dish Dinners, is packed full of easy, family friendly meals.  While the ingredient lists are a bit on the longer side, the recipes do not include any overly processed foods.  This is a huge plus for me especially when combined with the fact that the dinners can be made in one dish.  Not all of the meals will appeal to every family, but the variety offers something for everyone.  A few of my favorites are the Southwestern Rice & Bean Salad and the Stovetop Mac 'N' Cheese with Ham & Peas. Several of the soups have me longing just a bit for cooler weather.

Readers may want to preview the book to see if there are enough recipes your families will enjoy.  Do not be surprised to find yourself adding it to your cookbook library though!

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

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Weekend Book Review

I am a big fan of holiday themed books especially those that show Christmas decorations.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review Christmas at Designers' Homes Across America by Katharine Kaye McMillan & Patricia Hart McMillan.  Various designers are featured and each has a signature holiday decorating style.  It will be easy for everyone to find something of interest.  From over the top to simple and elegant, holiday designs are shown for every taste.

I found the decorating hints of these top designers to be very helpful.  I will admit that most of the homes are far and above anything I could ever afford to do.  The good thing was that the design elements are great inspiration.  I saw several things that I could recreate in my own home.  I will admit that I was inspired by some of the non-holiday design elements too.  I found perfect lamps for my nightstands.

A variety of rooms are displayed as well as mantles and side tables.  The color schemes range from traditional to modern.  I was surprised to find a home featured not too far from where I live.  If you cannot tell by now, I loved this book.  I highly recommend it for anyone who loves browsing for holiday inspiration!

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

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekend Book Review

It's Your Party, Die if You Want To by Vickie Fee is book two in the Liv and Di in Dixie Mystery Series.  While I did read (and enjoy) the first book, this book stands on its own.  Liv is busy planning and engagement party and a large Halloween charity event.  Before that she is scheduled to help at an annual businesswomen's retreat where she is in charge of the celebrity ghost hunter who returned to Dixie as the guest speaker.  An unexpected dead body in the cemetery puts a quick end to the retreat.  Liv and her best friend, Di, are once again stirring up trouble while trying to solve the mystery.  I enjoyed all of the characters and the holiday themed story.  This book is just as good as the last, and I look forward to more in the series!

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

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

All of the books in this weekend's posts will be released this coming week!

The Semi-Sweet Hereafter is book three in Colette London's Chocolate Whisperer Mystery series.  This is the second book I have read in the series.  Hayden is back at another chocolate whisperer job this time in London and once again stumbles onto a murder.  The dead man is the husband of her current client, Phoebe.  While this book stands on its own, I think Hayden's actions are best understood if one has read the previous book.  I liked this book although not quite as much as the last one.  The slight shift in Hayden's character was the problem for me.  The book is a good cozy mystery as long as readers can adjust to the frantic personality of the main character.

Leslie Nagel is the author of The Book Club Murders which is book one in the Oakwood Mystery series.  Charley is a member of the Agathas, a mystery book club.  When bodies start piling up in Oakwood, Charley steps in to help the police solve the murders.  This book is marketed as a cozy mystery, but it does not fit the normal definition of a cozy mystery.  First the book had too much romance and random sex for me.  While I can handle a bit of romance, it was one of the main plots of this book.  Second I had no use for the foul language.  I do not feel that it adds anything to a book.  With those points aside, the mystery was good.  The series shows promise if the mystery becomes the main focus of future books.

British Manor Murder by Leslie Meier is the latest in the Lucy Stone Mystery series.  I have read a few books in the series before this one.  This book easily stands on its own.  The series is still just as fresh as in the beginning.  Lucy is off to England as the guest of Perry, earl of a large manor home.  The trip is going well until some extra guests show up as well as dead body.  I enjoyed the scenery of the book and felt as if I were along with Lucy in England.  This is a fun and clean cozy mystery and reminded me I need to seek out more of Mrs. Meier's books!

Book two in the Henny Penny Farmette mystery series by Meera Lester is The Murder of a Queen Bee.  I had not read the previous book in the series but had not trouble diving into this book.  Abby is devastated to learn that her friend Fiona missed a planned lunch because she is dead.  Abby quickly becomes immersed in the murder investigation.  First the positives.  The mystery was interesting, and I enjoyed the farm setting as well as the focus on bees and chickens.  I had two negatives however.  The first is that Abby is guy crazy.  Just in this one book she has three possible love interests.  I was very annoyed that she simply allowed a man who had hurt her so badly and then disappeared just move right back into her home.  While I can handle a bit of romance, I do not care for that to have as much (and sometimes more) focus than the mystery.  The second negative is one of the "tips" included in the book.  Readers are told that backyard chicken eggs will only last five weeks in a home refrigerator.  That is absurd, and I can assure you from personal experience that it is not true.  It leaves me with some concern about the other information included.  I would give the series another shot but am not impressed by this book alone.

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

Friday, September 23, 2016

Feathered Friday

I have a few random chicken pictures for you today.

This little rooster prefers to roam the yard on his own.  He is always busy looking for bugs.

This is Mr. R.  He is my helper in the yard/garden.  Whenever I am outside, he is close by.

These three ladies are dusting.  Other than looking for bugs, that is a chicken's favorite past time.

This hen climbed the steps of the new house late one afternoon and stood at the door.  I think she was reminding us to take a break as it was close to suppertime!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wardrobe Update - Postponed

Apologies that the next wardrobe post will be a week late.  I got wrapped up in work on the new house and did not have time to get it written.  Rather than throw something together, I am asking for patience.

On a side note I have been trying to teach my four year old cousin patience.  Her daddy was late getting out of his Sunday School class and into church this past week.  I mentioned that we just needed to have patience.  She replied that he needed a watch.  If only life could be solved by a four year old's logic!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Weekly Savings

Building a house is expensive.  I commented to someone the other day that it was not the big purchases but all of the little things that were getting me.  This week we did find some mark down cabinets for the laundry room.  I also found some storage units for my craft room marked down.

We have been eating from the freezer.  I have managed to find some not too difficult to prepare meals using what we have on hand.  Our grocery bill was $28 this past week.  I hope to keep it around that for the next week or two.

I was able to fit the construction trash in our regular trash cans again.

Clothes were hung to dry on the line or in the house.

I planted an avocado tree and two pineapple plants started in the kitchen window.

I planted kale, spinach, and swiss chard seeds in my parents' garden.  They had some extra room and will be watering everything anyway.  The seeds were quite old so time will tell if they sprout.  If not I have some newer seeds that can be planted.

This was an accidental savings.  I placed an order with Amazon, but when I received the package it was not at all what I had ordered.  We received four backpacks and three personal water filters.  A call to Amazon to sort out the problem resulted in me receiving a refund for the items that I did order.  I was also told to keep the items sent to me by mistake.  Amazon does seem to do their best to keep the customers happy!

I used some coupons at CVS to get a free first aid case and two free boxes of cereal.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

Harley Rotbart's lastest book is Miracles We Have Seen:  America's Leading Physicians Share Stories They Can't Forget.  The book is full of short stories of medical miracles witnessed by physicians.  The book is certainly inspiring.  I like that it was easy to read when I only had a bit of free time.  Some of the stories seemed to be lacking in emotion and were told more in medical facts.  While the book has one author, the story tellers are varied so the story styles are varied as well.  The book was good but not necessarily one of my favorites due to the varied styles.

Let me start this review by saying that I almost never review a book that I have not finished.  I could not bring myself to get to the end of The Curse of the Bridal Chamber by Hunter Murphy though.  I was completely shocked that Mr. Murphy is from the South.  I do not know any decent southerners who act like the characters in this book, and I definitely do not know any who talk the way these characters did.  The story line never developed enough for me, and I read half of the book.  The descriptions dragged on and on.  Characters who met minutes earlier were depicted as if they had known each other for years.  The best part of this book was Goose, the dog.

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

Friday, September 16, 2016

Amazon Book Deal: The Slider Effect

I reviewed The Slider Effect by Jonathan Melendez back in July.  You can see the review here.  I even mentioned in the review that I added it to my Amazon Wish List.  This week I found that the price had dropped significantly.

This morning the book is only $3.42!  This is an amazing price.  It is worth buying just for the bun, roll, and bread recipes alone.  I jumped on this deal and ordered the book earlier in the week.  If this is one you were thinking about buying, now is the time!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wardrobe Update: Part 2

Before I really started buying any clothes for fall, I started following a few fashion blogs.  I ended up bookmarking a pile of them - around 20 I think.  Over a couple of weeks I was able to pare down the list.  While some were nice, the clothing did not fit my lifestyle. I lean toward being clueless about putting pieces together to make an outfit. The blogs gave me some much needed guidance.

One favorite is Jo-Lynne Shane.  I found her clothing to be more of what the average person (at least the ones I know) would wear.  I will add that my clothing budget is much lower than hers.  I use her posts as inspiration.  I loved the outfit from this post last fall.  It looked classic, and the pieces are easy to find.  I already had the pieces for this summer outfit in my closet.  The top was a bit different but the idea was the same.

My other favorite is Grace & Beauty by Cyndi Spivey.  She mixes fashion with a bit of scripture and encouragement.  I particularly appreciate that she showcases modest clothing that is not frumpy.  Again I tend to use her posts as inspiration.  Her post on fall transitional pieces helped me see the utility jacket that was already in my closet in a different light.

Come back next Wednesday for Part 3 when I share some of the things I added to my wardrobe over the past few weeks.  Until then, do you have any favorite fashion blogs to share?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The New House Progress

I am trying to get back to being better at posting updates on the new house.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, hop over to my other blog - A New Home in the Country - to catch up on how things are progressing!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Weekly Savings

I finished crocheting the baby blanket and added in some baby wipes and baby lotions from the pantry.  It made a nice, but thrifty gift.

I finally had a week where everything would not fit into the normal trash cans.  That was after filling ours, my parents', and my aunt's (all with permission).  We had a large box of styrofoam.  I gave in and let W put it and a bag of trash for weight beside the regular can.

I did leave a bag of snacks from the pantry (crackers, gum, individually wrapped brownies) and a note of thanks for the trash collectors.  I think a small thank you is nice since it did mean extra work for them.  I also have not made a habit of this and usually try to hold onto trash for another week until it will fit.  It would have taken a month to get rid of the stuff in that box though.

I made meals at home although they have not been fancy.  It was much cheaper than eating out.

We continue to provide the labor for work on the new house which is a huge I can see why savings.  I can see why people would want to hire things out rather than doing it themselves.  We are capable of doing it so we will.

I shopped around for containers for organizing the new pantry.  I bought some things at Dollar Tree and others at Wal-Mart rather than online to get the best prices.

I painted my nails myself.  I have no idea what a manicure and pedicure would cost locally.  I had all of the polish so it cost me nothing this time around.

I made a batch of elderberry syrup.  We take this each fall/winter to avoid getting sick. So far it has worked for me three years in a row.  The cost is affordable since it keeps us healthy.

I watered the garden with water from the air conditioner and from Hurricane Hermine.  The rain (nearly six inches) from the storm really perked up the garden.  I think I will get a nice harvest of peppers it frosts.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Wee Alphas

Wee Alphas is a set of 26 A to Z postcards.  Each card featured an alphabet animal on the front.  The back offers writing prompts on the back.  These would be perfect for grandchildren to keep in touch with their grandparents.  An even better option would be for distant cousins to use to write to each other.

I am a huge fan of handwritten letters sent through snail mail, and I love these.  I would use them myself to keep in touch with friends.  An alphabet animal in the mailbox beats an email any day.  Of course if you are not into writing notes to send, these cards would make great flash cards for little ones to learn the alphabet as well as animals.  Overall they are a fun item no matter how you choose to use them!

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

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

Michael Booth's latest book is Super Sushi Ramen Express.  How can one not love that title?  The subtitle, One Family's Journey Through the Belly of Japan, gives a better explanation of the book.  Mr. Booth, his wife, and two children travel through Japan sampling authentic Japanese food.  I chose the book for the title, but I kept reading for the wonderful culinary descriptions.  I felt as if I were side by side with the Booth family as they ate their way through Japan.  The book included travel descriptions as well.  This is a great book for anyone interested in Japanese cuisine or Japan in general.

The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson is a women's religious fiction novel with a holiday theme.  The book begins with the sudden passing of Abby who was the glue that held a small book club together.  Her final gift of angel ornaments reaches out to help the women with her passing and continue to bond them together.  It is a nice, light book which I easily read in two evenings.  This would be a great book to read closer to the holidays to get into the spirit.

Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief by Katy Bowman is an updated version of her previous book.  The first half of the book is devoted to the anatomy of the foot.  Ms. Bowman also offers advice on the type of shoes to wear and to avoid.  She is an advocate of going barefoot which I find hard after breaking my foot.  We do agree that flip flops are made for the beach.  The second half of the book is full of easy to do foot exercises.  The book was a quick read very informative.  If you are interested in improving the health of your feet, this is a good choice!

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

Friday, September 9, 2016

Feathered Friday: More Baby Chicks

I had not been finding many bantam eggs lately and knew we had more bantam hens sitting somewhere.  They are very good at hiding their nests.  I had no idea that a hen was sitting under the back porch until I head baby chick cheeping one day.

I looked and saw a mama hen with six baby chicks.  Normally I would put them in a brooder.  She stayed under the porch a few days and has just started venturing out.  She never goes very far.  For now I will let her and her babies free range.

Many people will tell you that you cannot have free range chickens with cats or dogs.  I am sure that is true with some but not all.  Leo has learned that chickens are not for chasing.  Paris has had more than one mama hen fly up at her and quickly learned to leave them alone.  A couple of weeks ago I actually found Thea guarding a baby chick that had been left behind by the mother.  She could easily have killed the tiny chick but was sitting patiently by it until I heard her meowing.  I reunited the mama hen and chick.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wardrobe Update: Part 1

Since I am updating my wardrobe in phases, I decided to break down my posts.  Let me start by saying that I am not a fashionista.  Many days I rarely see anyone other than the animals.  For the past year while working on the new house I would put on a t-shirt and jeans or shorts.  It was usually nothing nice since I knew I was going to get dirty.  Now that we are nearing the end of constructions, it is time to pay a bit more attention to my appearance for me if no one else.

Step one was to sort through my clothes (most but not quite all).  I pulled anything that was really worn.  I also pulled anything that I did not like.  It is better to have a few items that I love rather than piles and piles that are just okay.  I will finish sorting completely when we move.

Once I had items that I love, I needed to stretch them into as many outfits as possible.  For me the best way to do this was to search on Pinterest.  For example "blue cardigan outfit" will give you several ways to style a blue cardigan.  I did this when I was looking at items from ThredUP.  I wanted to make sure I could find enough ways to style each item to make it worth purchasing.

Second I looked around Pinterest and found outfits that I liked and pinned those.  Some included items I already had in my closet.  Others gave me ideas for items to add to a wish list.  When shopping sales/consignment/thrift, patience is a must.  I do have an idea of what I like and what looks good on me so I had a starting point.  I also know which brands I can wear.  Most websites or sellers include the clothing measurements which makes it easier.

That is the first part of my wardrobe makeover.  Next week come back for part two.

disclosure:  This post includes a referral link.