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.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Weekly Savings

I am still working on updating my wardrobe on a budget (of course).  I waited until the Labor Day sales started to get some deals from my list.  I also managed to score free shipping on both of my orders.  Unless I run across something awesome in the next couple of months I am set for fall.  I have a post planned for Wednesday on my wardrobe update.

We ate from the freezer and spent little on groceries.  I cannot remember exactly, but I think I was at $35 and part of that will carry over into this week.  

I returned an item to Amazon that we ended up not needing.  That means $20 will go back into the new house money.

I am making a baby blanket for a shower gift using yarn that I already have on hand.

I rarely get free address labels anymore.  I made my own using some free clip art in Word.  I like to have a fun label when mailing letters to friends.

W bought cat food and chose two bags that had coupons.  That was a savings of $4.

We had another week of putting all of the new house construction trash into the regular trash pickup.  My mom and aunt offered to let me put trash in their cans as well.  We pay a set fee whether the can is full or not.

Cooler temperatures meant that we rarely needed to run the air conditioner during the day.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

The Room with the Second Best View by Virginia Smith is book three in the Tales from Goose Creek B&B series.  This book falls under religious fiction.  Millie and Al have a chance at a trial run of their bed and breakfast with some very unusual characters.  While I have not read any of the previous books, I was not lost at all.  It easily stands on its own.  The small town charm of Goose Creek and the residents left me wanting more.  It was nice to read a good clean book with an engaging story.  If you are looking to escape for a bit, this is the perfect book!

Tim LaHaye is a name familiar to all fans of the Left Behind series.  His latest book, Who Will Face the Tribulation?, takes the fictional characters back out of the tribulation.  This book was really two sections.  The first section dealt strictly with the Biblical basis for the pre-tribulation rapture and then the tribulation itself.  I found this half very interesting.  It dealt with scripture.  The second half of the book was focused on the individuals who had written about the pre-tribulation rapture.  As in depth as it was, I failed to see where this has any bearing on the timing of the rapture.  Overall the book was good but could have been much better.  I expected to read an entire book based on scriptural facts rather than half a book of biographies of individuals.

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

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

Death of a Pumpkin Carver by Lee Hollis is book eight in the Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery Series.  Hayley has to deal with the return of her ex-husband Danny and the suspicious death of his moonshine making uncle.  Included are several pumpkin recipes.  I enjoyed the book, but the mystery seemed to be lacking.  The death of Danny's uncle was an afterthought as far as the story line went.  When I read a cozy mystery, I am reading it for the mystery as much as the cozy portion.  This is a good book if you are looking for something very light that does not require much thought.

Auralee Wallace's second book in the Otter Lake Mystery series is Pumpkin Picking with Murder.  While the title scream autumn, this book could have taken place at any time of year.  At first that bothered me.  I chose it based on that fact that it was autumn themed.  The mystery more than made up for the lack of seasonal charm.  Main character Erica returns home with the intention of spending time with Sheriff Grady.  Those plans get way off track when a family friend is accused of murder.  Erica and her friend, Freddie, set about trying to solve the murder.  In this book, the mystery is the true star with several twists and turns.  The characters and setting are good supporters though.  I look forward to another visit to Otter Lake.

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