Saturday, June 24, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

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

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

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

52 New Recipes: Weeks 23 & 24

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Reader Question: Ice Cream

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

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

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

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

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

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

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

A Reference to Murder by Kym Roberts is book two in the Book Barn Mystery series.  Charli runs The Book Barn along with her dad.  This book takes place during a fundraising auction and rodeo.  I had not read the first book, but I had no problem following this one.  I am not a big fan of bull riding, but my main problem with this book is all of the time spent on Charli's love life.  The mystery did not occur until I was well into the book.  My favorite character was Princess, the pet armadillo.  I did like the writing style and will give the next book a chance.

Greta McKennan is the author of Uniformly Dead, book one in the A Stitch in Time Mystery series.  Daria owns her own seamstress shop and has done several wedding dresses.  She has started to expand by sewing historically accurate clothing for Civil War reenactors.  Her first major client, the very particular Colonel Windstrom, is murdered shortly after she delivers his coat.  Among the suspects are her brother and the fiancee of her latest wedding client.  Daria works to solve the mystery with some help from her quirky roommate, Aileen.  I enjoyed the characters and setting and look forward to more in this series.

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

Monday, June 5, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 23

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
That front door is really trying my patience.  I will have to go back to the drill/wire brush to get the last of the paint off.  The rain chances drop off toward the end of the week so hopefully it will be ready for paint.

I was beyond excited that W knocked out putting up most of the vinyl siding with a little help from me and then my dad.  It looks amazing.  He still needs to do the tops of the ends and the eaves, but he made great progress.

He also knocked out a small project - adding tile to the aquarium cabinet.  This is protect the cabinet from any water drips.  It used some leftover tile from around the fire place.

2.  Plan ahead for Birthday & Holiday Gifts
I added some money to the gift fund.  I have picked out an unusual gift for my dad for Father's Day.  W gave his dad a combo birthday/Father's Day gift - a customized mail box.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
We ate peppers and herbs from the garden this week.  It is wonderful to just walk out the back door and harvest what I need.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I did nothing on this goal last week.  I am thinking of switching classes and starting back on the dessert class this fall.  

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
My mom picked up a couple of items this past weekend at a yard sale.  I did not get any wash cloths done this past week.

6.  Boost Savings
Thanks to W working some crazy overtime we were able to knock a chunk off the credit card debt.  If all goes well, we should have this gone within the next six weeks!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Shut Up and Cook by Erica Reid is a cookbook that encourages people to stop making excuses and just cook.  I appreciated how a few of the recipes offer options for vegetarians and meat eaters.  The book has a wide variety of recipes that are fairly simple.  My favorite chapter is the one on dressing and sauces.  I was most disappointed by the pizza chapter.  Pizza dough and sauce are two easy to make items.  Store bought dough appeared in all of the recipes including one for focaccia.  This book would be best for people looking to add some vegetarian/vegan dishes to their diet.  I am afraid vegetarians/vegans would find too many animal products for this book to be useful.

Lynn Cahoon's Hospitality and Homicide is book eight in the Tourist Trap Mystery series.  I had read a previous book in the series, but it is not necessary to enjoy this book.  An owner of a bed and breakfast is found murdered, and Jill, owner of Coffee, Books, & More, is pulled into the mystery.  The plot includes a side story of a missing child.  I enjoyed the setting and characters.  My main problem was that the book focused too much on Jill's every day life and very little on the murder.  So much time is devoted to piles of little things - dog walking, studying for finals, Jill's commitment issues - and not enough on the murder.  At one point I had set the book aside for a day and when I picked it back, I completely forgot about the murder victim.  I hope future books will be more structured.

The Woodpecker Always Pecks Twice by J.R Ripley is book three in the Bird Lover's Mystery series.  Amy, owner of Birds & Bees, is up early thanks to the woodpecker outside her window.  She witnesses a body being thrown out of the window of a local hostel.  Unfortunately the police cannot find any evidence of a body.  When two women are found dead, the police (and Amy) are on the case.  The characters and setting in this series are charming.  I particularly love all of the bird information thrown in.  This book did not disappoint, and I am already looking forward to the next!

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

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Eat the Beetles! by David Waltner-Toews focused more on insects in general than on people eating them.  The book was interesting.  I was looking for something less scientific and more cultural.  This does not make it back - just not for me.  If you are interested in the science of insects, Eat the Beetles! is for you.

The Spring Cleaning Murders by Dorothy Cannell is book seven in the Ellie Haskell Mystery series.  I have read several books in this series.  While it is not necessary, I think it does help to appreciate the characters.  Ellie's longtime housekeeper, Ms. Malloy, leaves, and she must find a replacement.  The problems begin when the housekeepers start dying.  Ellie suspects any of her neighbors could have killed to keep their secrets.  While not a super suspenseful cozy, I enjoyed the book.  It was a relaxing read.

Book three in the Country Gift Shop Cozy Mystery series by Vivian Conroy is Written into the Grave.  The books in this series occur in quick succession.  While this one stands alone, I think it is helpful to have read the previous books.  When a supposedly fictional story in the morning paper comes true, Vicky is drawn into yet another murder investigation.  The dead man was not well liked which makes the suspect list long.  Vicky is a likable character, but at times she seems too nice.  That small negative aside, this is a strong series with a wonderful setting and room for growth!

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

Thursday, June 1, 2017

52 New Recipes Week 22

I had spring/summer rolls on my list of things to make for several months.  I searched my area grocery stores for rice paper with no luck.  I turned to Amazon and ordered these.  The first recipe I chose was BLT Summer Rolls.

Rolling these took a little practice.  The rice paper was surprisingly strong though which made it easier.  I served these with some leftover blue cheese dressing.  Everything held together well and was a nice change to the regular BLT.  This would be an excellent meal for hot summer days.  I can see myself using the rice paper wrappers to hold all sorts of sandwich fillings.

I am curious if anyone has made spring/summer rolls.  What are your favorite fillings?

Monday, May 29, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 22

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
We found fabric for the front porch bench.  I am waiting on the foam so we can finish it.  I did sand down the front door.  I made good progress in my craft room.  I was able to move out two plastic storage cabinets.  Finishing the craft room means that I need W to build my bookshelves first.  Plans for this week are dependent on the weather.  Rain is in the forecast every day which means painting might not happen.

2.  Plan ahead for Birthday & Holiday Gifts
I a break from birthdays for a few months.  My focus will be on saving money for holiday gifts.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I am still in maintenance mode with the garden.  The weather has been much cooler than normal for this time of year.  The plants are growing more slowly.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I am continuing with the Classic Dessert class.  I decided to do a few mini-classes at the same time.  I started with Cooking Mistakes.  It is interesting but best for a beginning cook.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
I did manage to finish a couple of wash cloths this past week!  I will be ordering shoeboxes this coming month so I can get a head start on packing.

6.  Boost Savings
I saved by skipping the grocery store this week.  No extra money went toward the credit card, but I do plan to make a dent in it next week.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Weekend Book Review: Killers of the Flower Moon

David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon is the story of the Osage Indian murders and the beginning of the FBI.  Mr. Grann delivers another well researched book.  The story started off a bit slow, but soon I was drawn into the world of the Osage.  The individuals came to life through the descriptions.  I could feel a tiny portion of the fear they must have felt.  It is a tragedy that this story is not well known.   I appreciated the way that the events were presented and how the story unfolded.   I am at a loss for words to express the range of emotions from reading this book.  Killers of the Flower Moon is an excellent book that is well worth reading.

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

A Good Day to Buy by Sherry Harris is part of the Sarah W Garage Sale Mystery series.  I had not read any of the previous books and was not lost.  I did feel like I missed getting to know Sarah, the main character.  Sarah owns a garage sale business that is thriving, but the murder of her latest client threatens that.  Sarah's ex-husband, who is also the police chief, considers Sarah's estranged brother the main suspect.  The characters and garage sale story line were interesting.  The mystery was good, and it ended with a cliffhanger that has me waiting for the next book.

Book four in the Red Carpet Catering Mystery series by Shawn Reilly Simmons is Murder is the Main Course.  I had read previous books in this series, but I think readers would be better off not having read them.  For me this book lacked the character interaction of the previous books.  Penelope, owner of Red Carpet Catering, is on location at a movie filming when the chef of the kitchen she is using is found hanged in the freezer.  The mystery was interesting, but character development was lacking in this one.  I did still like the book and will continue to read the series.

Bad to the Bone by Linda O. Johnston is book three in the Barkery & Biscuits Mystery series.  Carrie is the owner of a bakery (for humans) and a barkery (for dogs) and works at a vet tech.  She is considering creating some recipes for a pet food company.  A rather nasty employee of the company is found murdered, and Carrie adds solving the murder to her to do list. I liked the book, but I have no idea where Carrie gets her energy.  In addition to working two jobs and solving the mystery, she is able to stay out late every evening.  I guessed early in the book who the murderer was.  The characters and animals were entertaining enough that I would read more of this series.

Book three in the Living History Museum Mystery series by Amanda Flower is The Final Vow.  I had not read any of the previous books but had no trouble following this one.  Kelsey is in charge of the Barton Farm and is hosting her ex-husband's wedding.  Bride Krissie is a handful and extremely demanding.  When her wedding planner is found dead, Krissie is among the suspects.  The setting for the book was good.  I could not convince myself to like the main character, Kelsey.  At times she is a complete pushover and at other times a bully.  I would read another book in the series to see if this character flaw was a one-time thing.

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

Friday, May 26, 2017

Garden, New Recipe, & Frugal Friday

I am so behind this week.  I decided rather than skipping the posts that I would just lump them all together.  First up the garden...We finally got some rain.  The garden will need weeding this weekend.  I did want to share a picture of the last fruit plants I am adding this year.

I bought dragon fruit plants.  They are a bit on the small side.  I planted them in little pots and put them inside a long pot to keep them safe.  I also have them on the front porch.  This allows the plants to get some sun and keeps them protected from the chickens.  The plants will have to live in the greenhouse during the winter.  I am not expecting fruit anytime soon.  I am excited to know that eventually I will get to taste dragon fruit.

Next up is the new recipe for this week:  Stuffed French Bread.  I did not take a picture as it was honestly a mess.  I will blame it on the fact that I used homemade French bread.  It was delicious and I will serve it again.  I will serve it as open faced sandwiches next time.  I made the filling ahead of time and actually followed the recipe.  Other than adding in some fresh mushrooms, I would not change any of the ingredients.

Last up is Frugal Friday.  Here is what I have done recently to save money.

~I made granola for W to eat as cereal rather than buying cereal.  I use the Frugal Girl's No Stir Granola recipe.  I am not sure it is cheaper, but I am sure it is healthier than most cereals.  It is more filling so W eats less.

~My mom found 15 new cloth napkins for $2.50 at the Salvation Army.  I washed them and have them ready to use.

~I skipped going to the grocery store this week.

~I used pots I had saved to plant the dragon fruit plants.

~I waited until the weather cleared to wash clothes so they could be dried on the line.

~I fed the rabbits vegetable trimmings several times.

Hopefully next week I will back on track!

Monday, May 22, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 21

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
My big plans for last week were sidelined by a bad sinus infection.  I did managed to get some work done on the front porch but not nearly as much as I had hoped.  W did build a base for the craft room storage cabinet he bought.  This week I will work on organizing my craft room and maybe do some sanding on the front door.  I work on the front porch projects a little at a time over the next few weeks.  I did order a doorbell for the house since the price dropped.  I planned to get a wireless one as those have worked well for us in the past.

2.  Plan ahead for Birthday and Holiday Gifts
I have asked W about his dad's gift, but he is still thinking.  I think I will order the book closer to my niece's birthday and just have it straight shipped to her.

3.  Use the Garden to be More Self-Sufficient
The garden work lately has been maintenance.  I do need to pull some weeds this week.  Wednesday I also have the last of this year's new fruit plants to share with you.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I finished the succulents class and really enjoyed it.  I started a class on Classic Desserts and made an apple cobbler from the first lesson.  I only plan to make one dessert a week so I will be doing a second class alongside this one.  I will get started on it later in the week.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
No progress again on this.

6.  Boost Savings
We added a bit of extra money to the credit card debt.  I should have this completely knocked out in a couple of months.  That will free up money to build up the savings account and start saving for a few outdoor projects.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

YumUniverse Pantry to Plate by Heather Crosby is a vegan/vegetarian cookbook.  I am always on the lookout for good vegetarian recipes.  Unfortunately I did not find many that I could convince my family to try.  I had a couple of problems with this book.  The author includes a wide variety of recipes for homemade basics such as enchilada sauce.  I was disappointed that a recipe for corn tortillas was not included.  They are easy to make at home.  If I am making enchilada sauce, I would want a great tortilla to pair with it.  My second problem is with the subtitle:  Improvise Meals You Love - From What You Have! The latter part is where the author lost me.  Maybe all vegetarians have the ingredients she uses, but I do not.  Pysllium husk (whole and ground), garbanzo bean flour, and rapadura are not commonly found in my pantry.  I feel that healthy recipes should not be so complicated. This book missed the mark for me.

Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades--Bastes, Butters, & Glazes, Too is a great collection for any barbecue fan.  I am thinking this would be a wonderful Father's Day gift.  This is an updated version.  I ended up marking so many recipes that I knew I needed the paperback version.  The recipes include easy to find ingredients and cover a wide variety.  Since I started cooking from scratch, I find bottled barbecue sauces less than impressing.  This book offers so many that I will have no problem finding several I love.  This is a must have for any barbecue lover!

The Most Misused Stories in the Bible by Eric J Bargerhuff is an explanation of  fifteen Bible stories that are often misrepresented.  I have to admit that I have not heard most of the misrepresentations.  While it is interesting, it is closer to a short devotional book.  I appreciated the multiple Biblical references to back up the author's explanations.

Pat Olski's Crochet Stories:  Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland provides patterns for all of the characters from the book.  The patterns are clear and easy to follow even for a beginner.  The photos of each character are very helpful as well.  I think a set of the crocheted characters and a copy of Alice in Wonderland would make a great gift.  This is an excellent book for anyone just starting to crochet dolls.

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White is a cross between women's fiction and mystery.  Recently divorced Merilee and her two children rent a house from Sugar, who is a 90+ year old true southern woman.  An anonymous blogger seems intent on hindering Merilee from starting over by airing much of her family's dirty laundry.  Her friendship with the practically perfect Heather feels like the only bright spot.  One tragic night threatens everything and opens closets full of skeletons Merilee would rather keep hidden.  The book dragged at times with the blog posts being the only bright spot.  The last quarter of the book was by far the best.  It kept me reading until I finished.  Overall this was a good, southern themed book and makes me interested in reading more by the author.

The second book in the Kitty Couture Mystery series by Julie Chase is Cat Got Your Cash.  I had read the first book in the series, but I do not think it would be necessary.  Lacy's meeting with fashion designer Annie Lane is a disaster when Lacy finds Annie dead.  Lacy ends up caring for Annie's two Siamese kittens until the estate is settled.  The kittens end up cat-napped, and Lacy finds herself being stalked.  She works with Detective Jack Oliver to find the murderer and save herself and the Siamese.  I enjoyed this book as much as the first.  The characters and setting add to the appeal of the series.

No Charm Intended by Mollie Cox Bryan is book two in the Cora Crafts Mystery series.  I had read the first book, but this book easily stands on its own.  Cora and her friend, Jane, are hosting their second craft retreat.  It starts off on the wrong foot when the babysitter Jane hired goes missing.  A simple missing person case is complicated when a friend is found murdered.  I enjoy the characters in this series and how they interact together.  Ms. Bryan's series is definitely one of my favorites.

Every Body on Deck by G.A. McKevett is part of the Savannah Reid Mystery Series.  PI Savannah  and her entire detective agency are hired to accompany a famous author on an Alaskan cruise.  At the first port the author and her husband jump ship and are murdered.  Savannah is determined to solve the crime to protect her reputation and alleviate her guilt.  I liked the book, but I did not love it.  The story line was choppy at times and a bit annoying at others.  While it was enjoyable, I felt the mystery was a bit too easy to solve.

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

52 New Recipes Weeks 19 & 20

I am cheating a bit this week since I made two different ice cream flavors.  I used the same base recipe for both.  Each recipe makes about 5 cups in my Cuisanart ice cream maker.  I bought mine at a yard sale several years ago for $10.  It came with two bowls so it was a bargain.

Vanilla Ice Cream Base
2 cups milk (I use 2%)
3-4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup half & half
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the eggs and sugar.  Heat the milk.  Gradually add some of the heated milk to the egg mixture until the bowl feels warm.  Add this back to the milk and continue to heat until it thickens.  Pour into a bowl and add the half & half and vanilla.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.  Churn as directed by your ice cream maker's instructions.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Combine butter and sugar in a pan until melted.  Add the chopped pecans and stir constantly until the pecans are toasted.  Allow to cool.  Churn the ice cream base mixture adding in the pecan mixture at the last 10 minutes.

Chocolate Ice Cream
This one is made by the base instructions with the following changes.  Increase sugar in base mixture to 2/3 cup.  When heating the milk add 2 ounce milk chocolate and 1/2 cup cocoa.

W loved the butter pecan.  I liked it and I never like store bought butter pecan ice cream.  I made the chocolate for my little cousin.  It had a good flavor without being too rich.

I use whole eggs rather than just the yolks since I do not want to deal with the leftover whites.  I also think it makes the ice cream richer without the need to use whole milk and whipping cream.  Plus adding eggs means the ice cream stores better in the freezer - not that it lasts long at my house.

Next week I am planning to try a stuffed French bread recipe.

Monday, May 15, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 20

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
W had several orders that he needed to finish so no work was done on the new house.  I have decided to do the summer edition of the Holiday Grand Plan.  I hope that it will help me finish some new house projects.  This week is the entry/foyer.  Our foyer is fairly basic.  I do want to think about adding a picture or mirror to the wall opposite the aquarium.  For the entry I plan to sand and repaint the front door.  I also want to work on the bench on the front porch.  Hopefully I will have some good progress to report next week.

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday and Holiday Gifts
W's dad has a birthday coming up soon, and I need to buy a book for a niece's birthday next month.  I have money set aside for graduation gifts.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I transplanted some cosmos and more bee balm to the pollinator garden.  I did not get the herb seed planted last week, but that is on my list for this week.  The Jane the turkey's chicks ate the Mexican cucumber plants I set out.  I am debating on replanting or waiting until fall.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I did not finish the succulent class yet.  That will be on my to do list for later today.  I only have two short lessons left.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
No progress on this last week.

6.  Boost Savings
I was able to add some extra money to the credit card debt.  I have done a better job with cutting out extra spending.  I have started back doing Swagbucks to pay for a few things I want.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Weekend Book Review

Rarely do I read a book that unnerves me so much that I am unable to sleep, but The Art of Southern Charm by Patricia Altschul and Deborah Davis did just that.  I am appalled that people will read this and believe this is how southern people act.

I have several problems with her idea of Southern.  First every Southerner is judged by her tea (sweet is always implied) and not her martini.  Second "Bless Her (His/Your) Heart" is never, ever used with a compliment.  It simply softens whatever is being said.  Third tomato sandwiches are not tea sandwiches.  A tomato sandwich should be served on lightly toasted bread.  It is best eaten while leaning over a dinner plate or the kitchen sink.  A good tomato sandwich is always messy.  If it is not messy, you did not make it properly.  Finally I was shocked at the absence of funeral etiquette.  Funerals are a big part of Southern culture.

I did not realize that Ms. Altschul had a reality show.  If I had looked at some of clips on YouTube before reading this book rather than after, I could have saved myself some time.  I do realize that the author would consider me "common", but I am fine with that.  After watching clips of the author's show, I find it ironic that she criticized "Honey Boo Boo".  It is charming that Ms. Altschul finds a difference between the two.  Bless her heart!

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Frugal Friday

We continued to not use the air conditioner.  The weather is warm but not unbearable.  As long as we feel a huge temperature change when coming inside the house, I see no reason to turn on the a/c.

W wanted to get a new mailbox for his parents.  We picked one up at Lowe's but on our next stop at Tractor Supply we found the same mailbox clearance to half price.  The one from Lowe's was returned for an $8 savings.

Meals were eaten at home.  None have been fancy and a couple have been rushed, but they were better than fast food.  I should add that the nearest fast food place is 20+ minutes from my house.  Getting there would take more time than grabbing something quick at home.

I weeded the flower bed and fed the weeds to the chickens.  The rabbits have been eating lettuce from my parent's garden that started to bolt.

I was very happy to find the grapefruit juice W likes on Amazon Subscribe and Save.  It worked out to about half what I was paying at the grocery store.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

In the Garden

I was excited to finally receive some of the new plants that I ordered.  I ordered several herbs from Colonial Creek Farm.  I am not sure how I stumbled across this website.  I had it bookmarked since last year.  Since I had some extra garden money left, I ordered a few plants.

I was really pleased with how well the box was packaged.  All of the plants were in excellent condition.  I am always looking for different or unusual plants, and Colonial Creek Farm offers a wide variety.  Here is what I ordered.

Texas Tarragon:  Reading up on French tarragon convinced me that it was not a good option for the very hot weather my area has.  I then discovered Texas tarragon.  Since it is not a perennial for my zone, I will be planting it in a pot so I can overwinter it in the greenhouse.

Russian Comfrey:  I use comfrey in a homemade salve.  Since one of my goals is to be more self-sufficient, it made sense to grow my own.  I chose this variety, because it is sterile.  In the future I might grown common comfrey.  One Russian comfrey plant should supply all I need though.

Banana Mint:  I love mints.  I decided to slowly build a variety in my garden.  Colonial Creek offers 45 varieties of mint.  I thought the banana mint was unusual but useful at the same time.

Bay Laurel:  I always use bay leaves in cooking so this was an obvious choice to add to the garden.  It was much larger than I expected it to be.  I will plant it in a large pot and may eventually move it to the yard depending on how large it gets.

Munstead Lavender:  I already have one lavender plant, but I have been looking for a good one for culinary use.  This variety also handles the heat and humidity well.

Tangerine Sage:  I added pineapple sage to my garden last year and loved it.  I used the leaves in my herbal teas and just loved the scent of it in the garden.  Tangerine sage is also a culinary variety.  It has a light citrus scent.

I was extremely happy with everything that I ordered.  I will definitely order from Colonial Creek Farm again.

Monday, May 8, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 19

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property

We had plans this week that were sidelined by the weather.  I am not complaining as I would rather have the rain.  The rains also brought wind and chilly temperatures.  I think W plans to work on the property side of the goal this week.

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday & Holiday Gifts
I need to pick up two gifts this week.  I am also sticking up extra money for graduations too.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I added some additional herbs to my garden this week.  I have a full post on that Wednesday.  My plans for this week include weeding, planting some more herb seed, and planting the Mexican cucumber seedlings I started.

4.  Take One Class a Month
This week I plan to finish up the succulent class and maybe start another by the weekend.  I am thinking one of the cooking classes will be next.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
Not much progress on those wash cloths:  44 to go

6.  Boost Savings
I was really excited about our low electric bill this month - less than $80.  We also took advantage of a sale to have our gas tank refilled.  We only used about 30 gallons over the past year.  Our

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Kale to the Queen by Nell Hampton is the first book in the Kensington Palace Chef Mystery series.  Carrie Ann moves from Chicago to London to start her new job as personal chef to the duke and duchess at Kensington Palace.  Things are going well until one assistant turns up dead and the other winds up in jail.  I started this book with mixed feelings, but by the end I was wishing book two was out.  The characters are fun and have ample room for development.  The setting is interesting, and the mystery kept my attention to the end.  This is a nice start to a new series.

Horace Winter Says Goodbye by Conor Bowman is a fictional novel about living.  Horace retires from his job, which aside from his mother was the main focus of his life.  Shortly after he receives a life changing medical diagnosis.  The story can be a little hard to follow as it jumps from past to present.  Horace also compares everyone to either a butterfly or a moth.  Once I adjusted to this, the story pulled me in.  Horace's choices affect himself as well as all those he encounters.  The book is a reminder that it is never too late to start living.

Kathi Daley's Treasure in Paradise is book seven in the TJ Jensen Mystery series.  This is the first book I have read in the series.  Reading some of the prior books might have helped, but I was not at all lost.  TJ and her family are headed to Gull Island to oversee renovations on a friend's resort property.  The vacation starts off badly when a body is found in the attic.  The local police seem to be covering up a murder, and TJ sets out to determine why.  The setting and characters are enjoyable.  The mystery kept me guessing until the end.  I do plan to add the previous books to my reading list.

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

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Mayhem on the Orchid Isle by Aysia Amery is book three in the Maui Mayhem Cozy Mystery series.  I had not read any of the previous books in the series, and it did not hamper my enjoyment of this book.  Ginger and Jemma are cooking for a private party at a horse ranch when they get stranded by a storm.  This would not be a problem if the plot to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None was not being played out with the guests.  This was an easy read, and I finished it in one day.  The mystery kept me guessing until the end though.  I would happily read the other books in the series.

Ellery Adams and Parker Riggs are the authors of A Killer Keepsake, book six in the Antiques & Collectibles Mysteries series.  This was the the second book from the series that I have read, but it could stand on its own.  Molly has written an article about the Forget Me Not Doll Club.  However, before the article can be officially published, one of the club members is found dead.  Molly is asked by Dectective Lombardi to help with the case.  The plot was a bit darker than the usual cozy mystery as it dealt with domestic violence.  I did enjoy the hints at haunted dolls.  This book includes a story from the past that relates to the present story.  The backstory was just as interesting as the main story.

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

52 New Recipes Weeks 17 & 18

My new recipe for week 17 dish is strawberry crisp.  The strawberries have done very well this year.  I put a bunch in the freezer and made a pie one week.  W is not a fan of strawberry pie so I thought I would try a crisp.  I followed the recipe for the most part.  It had the right amount of sweetness and was easy to mix together.  I did not measure the strawberries but did enough to fill the pan.  I have tried a few recipes for strawberry crisp in the past, but this will be my go to recipe.  Aside from the time spent prepping the strawberries, it is a quick dessert.

For week 18 I made Spicy Chipotle-Lime Hummus.  I like hummus and have only ever eaten homemade.  W thinks regular hummus is a bit bland.  Since he is a fan of chipotle, I thought this recipe would be perfect.  I skipped the coriander and went a bit lighter on the lime juice.  This is definitely a spicy hummus.  If you are not a fan of spicy foods, adding half of the chipotle would be a better option.  We ate it with pretzels.  I also used it when making some quesadillas.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In the Garden

I am trying to get back on track with posting.  Over the past two weeks I have mainly been working on maintenance in the garden.  I have pulled some weeds and watered daily due to the lack of rain here.  I have also pulled poison ivy and oak from the yard.  W is highly allergic, but it does not affect me at all.  I never wear gloves or anything.  That makes me and W a good pair.

I snapped a few pictures earlier this week.  The bee balm is starting to bloom.  I had no idea how much it would spread.  I have some plants to move into my bee/butterfly garden.

The herbs around the chicken house are holding their own.  Someone found one of the mint plants.  It had gotten so big that the snacking barely had an effect.




The jalapeno plant left from last year already has some good sized peppers.

I had several radish plants that never made radishes.  I am letting them go to seed before I feed the plants to the animals.

What is happening in your garden?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Jane theTurkey

I am not sure if I ever mentioned that we have a turkey named Jane.  Jane lives with three chickens (Jack, Janet, and Chrissy) in a partially free range area of our property.  At the end of March Jane decided to start sitting.  The chickens had been laying eggs in the nest area.  Last month Jane became mama to nine baby chickens.

She is very protective and does not live anyone to get close to her babies. It is funny to see these little chickens following a big turkey.  She loves them, and they love her though.  Thanks to Jane I suppose I will have nine bilingual chickens.

Monday, May 1, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 18

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
This week W put the molding around the hallway side of the aquarium.  He also finished the molding around the living room and kitchen windows.  He put down baseboard molding in the hallway.  A few small projects each week will have this goal wrapped up.

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday & Holiday Gifts
W and I need to discuss amounts for graduation gifts.  We lean toward to gifting money.  It seems to be the normal for our area.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I did not dry chamomile or mint last week.  I did use herbs from the garden for cooking.  I planted fennel seed, dill seed, and basil seed.  The first round of dill and basil did not come up.  I think the pumpkin seeds will have to be replanted as well.  I need to order new ones though.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I am continuing with the succulent class.  I have gotten into the arrangement portion and am learning quite a bit.  I do need to look into getting a collection of succulents.  I am thinking the most cost effective way will be cuttings.  Fortunately the class offers some sources for these.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
I am working on wash cloths and have 45 left to make.

6.  Boost Savings
A few necessary expenses this past week but a hamper on savings.  I would love to make this a no or at least low spend week.  After three trips to town last week, I will be happy to stay close to home this week.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

The Yellow Envelope by Kim Dinan is part travel book and part memoir.  Kim decides she is tired of living the life she is expected to live - the right job, big house, etc.  She convinces her husband, Brian, that they should quit their jobs, sell their belongings, and travel the world.  Reading this book was a bit like riding a roller coaster.  At times I loved it, and at other times the author's complaining annoyed me.  The yellow envelope is filled with money gifted by friends to Kim and Brian and intended to be gifted to others during their travels.  Even with the ups and downs, I enjoyed the book.

Maddie Day's latest book in the Country Store Mystery series is When the Grits Hit the Fan.  I have read a previous book in the series, but it is not necessary.  Robbie's country store/restaurant continues to thrive even during the winter months.  She and a friend stumble across a dead body.  With the suspects piling up, Robbie is determined to solve the mystery.  While I enjoyed this book, I felt the story became too political in several places.  Politics have taken over everything, but I hope that the series will go no deeper.  A good book should be an escape rather than more of the same.

How to be a Hepburn in a Kardashian World by Jordan Christy is a revised edition of a previous book.  Targeted audience for the this book is teen girls.  I appreciate the idea of this book which is to help young girls focus on style, class, and grace.  It does not provide good advice for very young teens especially in regards to dating.  In some areas it is too light and in others too deep.  I am uncertain exactly what age group if any would benefit the most from this book.  I feel that it missed the mark slightly.

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

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Tightening the Threads by Lea Wait is the fifth book in the Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series.  I have read previous books in this series, but it is not necessary to enjoy this book. Angie's friend, Sarah, invites her to a birthday weekend for a local artist and gallery owner, Ted.  The weekend takes a turn when Ted makes some startling announcements.  During the weekend clam bake, Ted has to be rushed to the hospital and dies unexpectedly.  A second "accidental" death makes Angie and the police suspicious.  I love how needlepoint is always part of the books but not necessarily the main focus.  The characters are well developed and work well in the Maine setting.  Tightening the Threads is another excellent book from Lea Wait.

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Fair Trade Friday: April Earring of the Month

I love to get my surprise earrings in the mail each month.  I loved March's earrings, but I think April's might be even better.

These earrings are made by women in India working for Rahab's Rope.  Rahab's Rope gives hope and opportunities to women and girls rescued from the commercial sex trade of India.  Fair Trade Friday continues to open my eyes to wonderful ministries around the world that are helping women.

The online store offers a wide variety of fair trade products.  I received the Egg Pearl Earrings from Fair Trade Friday.  The earrings are lightweight and delicate enough to wear with any outfit.  You can start your own Earring of the Month Subscription here.

Monday, April 24, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 17

1.  Completely Finish the New House and Update Property
Last week we started on a couple of projects.  W began building a coffee table made from an old door in our previous house.  We still have to decide what color to paint the sides and if we want to paint the legs or leave them as they are.

I painted a storage cabinet that he bought for my craft room.  I wanted to keep the industrial look and chose to go with flat gray and blue as the main colors.  I ordered some new card holders for the front and will paint them white.  W is going to build a small base to lift it slightly off the floor.  This will allow me to get rid of some plastic storage bins and make my craft room look better.

2.  Plan ahead for Birthday and Holiday Gifts
Not only did I order the birthday and weddings gifts last week, I also ordered a baby shower gift.  Next up is saving for graduation gifts next month.  

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I harvested and dried more chamomile this past week.  I also finished the planting and weeding tasks from last week.  I will probably dry more chamomile and maybe some mint this week.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I finished the French bread class.  The other lessons were good, but I most wanted to learn to make baguettes.  I started a class on succulents.  I finished two lessons and have already gotten some very helpful information.  I am looking forward to creating a few succulent arrangements.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
Wash cloths... I finished some but not five. Hopefully this week will be more productive.

6.  Boost Savings
We were repaid some money we loaned a family member which gave our savings account a nice boost.  I was happy to have a bit of extra money to put toward the credit card debt.  It is great to see that continue to drop.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

The Ground Beneath Us by Paul Bogard is literally about the ground or dirt.  The book is divided into three main sections with different chapters within each.  Mr. Bogard travels to different areas and discusses the ground in each.  I did like the book although toward the end the book lost much of its momentum.  The book should be read more for enjoyment than scientific information.

Whit Gibbons' Snakes of the Eastern United States is an informative book on the over 60 snake species found in the eastern US.  I most appreciated the tip on distinguishing venomous and non-venomous snakes.  Even more reassuring was the data on snake bites and fatalities.  The full color photographs of each snake featured helped reinforce the identification material.  I will never be a fan of snakes, but I did want to be able to identify the type of snakes I see.  The book also covers invasive species of snakes.  The book is well written with clear, concise information.

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Grand Prize: Murder!  by Vivian Conroy is the second book in the Country Gift Shop Cozy Mystery series.  While it is not necessary to read the first book, it is helpful.  Grand Prize: Murder! takes place immediately after Dead to Begin With.  Vicky receives a special gift from the city for her help solving a mystery.  Rather than calming down, life gets more hectic as cozy author Bella Brooks arrives for a book signing at Vicky's gift shop.  Mysterious people seem to have flocked to Glen Cove and one ends up dead.  To keep Bella our of jail and save her shop's reputation, Vicky must find the real killer.  My return visit to Glen Cove was just as nice as the first.

Mother's Day, Muffins, and Murder by Sara Rosett is book 10 in the Ellie Avery Mystery series.  I had read a previous book in this series, but this one easily stands on its own.  Ellie is busy enough with her organizing business and end of the year activities at her children's school.  Her business rival says she saw a dead body in a closet at the school, but no one can find it.  Unfortunately the rumor turns to reality when the body reappears in the woods during the school's field day.  Ellie is a wonderful, realistic character.  The murder mystery was excellent and kept me guessing until nearly then end.  I enjoyed this book even more than the previous one I had read.  I am happy to find a cozy mystery series that remains well written after the first few books.

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

52 New Recipes Week 16: Parmesan Rice

I like the idea of flavored rice like those sold in packs at the grocery store.  I do not like the amount of salt and preservatives included.  The recipe for Creamy Parmesan Rice has all of the flavor without the extra stuff.  (I did not get a good picture of this week's recipe so click through the above link to see the final product.)

I made it in the rice cooker, which is one of my favorite kitchen tools.  When W came inside for dinner, he immediately said that something smelled good.  It was the Parmesan rice.  The garlic and Parmesan were perfect together.  Other than cooking it in a rice cooker, I followed the recipe exactly.  I almost never do that, but this one truly was perfect.

We had leftovers the following day.  It reheated nicely. This rice side dish will be a permanent part of my menu.  It was practically as easy as a packaged mix.  The flavor made it worth the extra few minutes it took to put together.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

In the Garden

My main progress in the garden recently has been the addition of a bee/butterfly garden.  I planted piles of flower and herb seeds.  Many of the seeds are starting to sprout, but they are still very tiny.  Photographs would be dull at this point.

Saturday I received the kiwi plants I ordered from Baker Creek.  Unfortunately they are out of stock until next season.  The plants were beautiful.  I planted them in 5 gallon buckets where they will stay until next spring mostly likely.

The cucumber and radish seedlings are growing strong.

I also have blooms on some of the tomato and pepper plants.

This week I will plant the pumpkin and hibiscus seeds.  I told myself I was done with planting after that except for succession planting of seeds.  As usual I found myself tempted by just a few more plants and seeds.  I will wait until those arrive to share them with you.

Monday, April 17, 2017

2017 Goals Week 16

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
We worked on the second half of this goal over the past week.  We hauled off a load of  trash from the yard as well as some leftovers from working on the new house.  We also filled our regular trash can as much as possible.  I have no idea what we will work on this week.

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday & Holiday Gifts
I need to order a birthday gift as well as a wedding shower gift this week.

3.  Use the Garden to be More Self-Sufficient
Last week I harvested and dried chamomile.  I will pick the chamomile to dry again this week.  I picked strawberries and added those to the freezer.  This week I plan to weed the garden, plant pumpkin seeds and red roselle (hibiscus) seeds, and plant my three new kiwi plants.

4.  Take One Class a Month
My plan is to finish the French bread class this week.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
I have fallen behind on making wash cloths.  I plan to finish 5 this week.

6.  Boost Savings
Money that could have gone to knock out some credit card debt went to paying taxes instead.  It is a new week with new chances to save though!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

The Inheritance by Niki Kapsambelis is one of the best books I have read on Alzheimer's disease.  I would even go so far to say it is the best.  The book focuses primarily on the DeMoe family.  This family carries a genetic link to the disease.  It is fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time.  The timeline follows the family as well as researchers' race to find a treatment.  Anyone with an interest in Alzheimer's especially those affected personally will find this book hard to put down. The author does an excellent job telling the DeMoe family's story with compassion.

Food52 Ice Cream and Friends is a collection of 60 ice creams of all flavors.  The choices will take you way beyond basic vanilla or chocolate.  Ice cream is a big deal in my family so I am no stranger to making it myself.  While the recipes are good, I found most of them to be more complicated than necessary.  I did try out the recipe for Coffee Frozen Custard.  The resulting ice cream was good but not great.  I did not find enough recipes to make it worth adding to my cookbook collection.  I do recommend that you preview the book before making your own decision.

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

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Murder at the Fortune Teller's Table by Janet Finsilver is the third book in the Kelly Jackson Mystery series.  This is one of the best cozy mysteries I have read in a long time.  The book easily stands on its own (although I am now planning to read the previous two).  Kelly is the manager of a bed and breakfast.  She and the crime solving group, the Silver Sentinels, are soon caught up in a mystery when two accidental deaths seem anything but accidental.  I loved the setting and especially the characters.  The book is very well written, and the mystery kept me interested until the end.  I am happy to have discovered this wonderful cozy mystery series!

Never Out of Season by Rob Dunn is a fascinating look at modern agriculture and its problems.  The lack of diversity may soon lead to a collapse of the foods we depend on.  The book was well researched and covered a variety of topics all related to agriculture.  I learned about everything from mealybugs to the vast consequences of drought in Syria.  Although a serious subject, I found the book well worth my time.

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

Frugal Friday

I have been mostly frugal but have also felt a bit spendy these past few weeks.  None of it was frivolous silly spending but just life spending.

Friday - I packed W's lunch items for the week in reusable containers.  Packing as much as I can in advance helps in case things get busy on his work days.  It is easy to grab the pre-packed items and toss them in his lunch box.  We ate pineapple sandwiches for supper using the $1 pineapple I purchased earlier in the week.

Saturday - I helped host the church/community Easter egg hunt.  I am not sure it counts a frugal thing, but I try to keep it that way as much as possible.  I spent most of the remainder of the day relaxing at home.  I did take time to hang a load of clothes outside to dry and bake two loaves of bread.

Sunday - Sundays are always quiet.  Besides going to church I wrote some letters and read.  I gave my Bible class children treat bags made with leftover egg hunt candy.

Monday - I had leftovers for dinner.  I spent most of the day working in the garden.  I repotted plants and planted the rest of the seedlings from the greenhouse.  The weather has been mild enough that we have not needed the heat or air.

Tuesday - I spent this day working in the yard. Doing my own yard work definitely saves money.  I am physically able and see no good reason not to do it myself.  I am reminded of my nearly 100 year old neighbor who used to mow his own lawn.  I worked on the bee/butterfly garden.  I will share more about this on Wednesday's garden post.

Wednesday - W needed to run errands so I tagged along.  He had to stop at the home improvement store so I wandered into the garden section looking for the poblano pepper plants I needed.  I had room for two plants but hated to spend $3+ each.  Instead I looked through all of the pots until I found one that contained two plants.  It was like getting the second free.  I have noticed that I can usually find a container with a bonus plant if I take the time to look.

Thursday - I had to stop and think what I did yesterday which is a bit sad.  I watched a free movie on Vudu.  I hung clothes out to dry.  I pulled weeds from the garden.  Last year I barely had time to do anything with the garden.  My idea of fun is to pull a few weeds from my raised beds.  Seeing those clean beds with growing plants makes me happy.  I know that this bit of time and effort will reward me with delicious vegetables and fruits fresh from my backyard.

Have you had a frugal week?