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!