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?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

52 New Recipes Week 15: Korean Beef

I found this recipe on Pinterest and saved it since it looked like a good way to use up ground beef.  I had mushrooms and zucchini in the refrigerator to use up.  I also loved the fact that it was a quick meal.  I followed the recipe as written but did use the sweet chili sauce substitution.  The recipe was so good that I will be looking for the sweet chili sauce when I make it again.

I did follow the blog's suggestion of adding mushrooms.  W requested a few more veggies next time. The food processor chopped them up perfectly and quickly.

I served it over rice cooked in the rice cooker - another of my favorite time savers.  I love that I can just set the rice cooker and forget it.  The flavors were good, but I think the actual sweet chili sauce will make it perfect.  W and I both agreed that this should be a regular menu addition.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April Fair Trade Friday Box

I am always excited to receive my Fair Trade Friday package in the mail each month.  I am not sure how they do it, but honestly the boxes get better and better each month.  The first item is this set of bracelets.  They are made by a group of women with Have Hope in Kenya.  This set is Spring Blues and can be purchased from Mercy House.

The second set of items is this beautiful notepad and handmade pencil.  Some of my friends will be receiving letters written on this paper in the near future.  The artwork is an original design by an artist at Have Hope in Azberaijan.  The pencils support youth in India at a rehab center.

The third item and my favorite in the box is this necklace made by Repurposed on Purpose right here in the US.  The leather and pearl necklace includes a metal bar stamped with the word Priceless.  You can purchase this necklace from Mercy House as well.

Once again I am more than thrilled with everything I received from Mercy House.  If you are interested in signing up for the Fair Trade Friday Original box, click here.  Remember if you receive an item that is not right for you, gift tags are included so you can share with someone.  Be prepared to want to keep everything for yourself though!

Monday, April 10, 2017

2017 Goals Week 15

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
Other things came up this week including two days of bad weather.  We ended up not doing anything to the new house.  I did order the tool W needed to finish the entertainment center cabinet doors.

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday & Anniversary Gifts
I bought a gift card this week for my youngest nephew.  For the older relatives it is easier to go with a gift card.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I bought a couple more herbs to add to the garden.  I was pleased to see that this past week's rain helped everything grow.  I have a few more items to clear out of the greenhouse this week.  The weather should be sunny with mild temperatures - perfect for working in the garden.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I have fallen behind on the French bread class but am still working on it.  I have plenty of time to finish 12 classes this year.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
I sorted a few things that were in my craft room.  I am still planning to start packing a few boxes after Easter.

6.  Boost Savings
I feel like this goal took a hit since we had to pay taxes.  That is a necessity though, and I do save throughout the year.  I was able to knock a bit off the credit card debt.  Having a meal plan should really help with the grocery spending for this month.  Savings is a marathon and not a sprint.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Weekend Book Review: Good Veg

Good Veg by Alice Hart is described as a modern vegetarian cookbook.  My family is not vegetarian although I do like to serve a vegetarian meal from time to time.  I was hoping this book would give me some good ideas.  While there are good meal ideas, I do not feel it is good for picky or less adventurous eaters.  I should also remind you that I live in a rural area so finding many of the ingredients is not cost effective.  That and the length of some ingredient lists were negatives for me.

I did find some recipes and helpful tips throughout the book.  I loved the Hibiscus Honey Tea.  The tips for making sweet potato fries that are not soggy were excellent.  The Four Essential Dressings were great and offered something for everyone.

While the book has good and not so good points, it was simply not what I needed.  My family is too picky for me to make much from this cookbook.  I would recommend that you preview it and make your own decision!

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

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

For Whom The Bread Rolls is the second book in the Pancake House Mystery series by Sarah Fox.  This book stands on its own, but I had read the first book in the series last year.  Marley is back at The Flip Side, a pancake house she inherited in her former hometown.  When the woman harassing her is murdered, Marley becomes a person of interest and works to clear her name.  I enjoyed this book but did not love it.  I was annoyed at the amount of time spent on Marley's love life.  I read cozy mysteries because I like mysteries not romance.  I am not giving up on the series.  However, I would like to see the mystery have a more prominent role in the next book.

Alison Cayne's The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School is a wonderful resource for beginning cooks.  It is divided into nine focused sections from soups to sauces to desserts.  The book includes teaching recipes that cover cooking basics and then builds on those.  I tried the recipe for Crispy Sauteed Mushrooms and found the cooking times to be spot on which is important for any recipe book.  While more established cooks might not find much new information, a new cook need look no further to gain confidence in the kitchen.

Purr M for Murder by TC LoTempio is the first book in the Cat Rescue Mystery series.  Sydney returns to her hometown to help her sister Kat with the local animal shelter, Friendly Paws.  Things are off to a bad start when Sydney's pop up cat cafe plan meets an adversary, Trowbridge Littleton.  When Trowbridge is murdered, Kat is the top suspect.  Sydney begins her own investigation to clear Kat's name and save the shelter.  I loved the setting and the characters.  This series has great potential for growth.  I am already looking forward to the next book.

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

Thursday, April 6, 2017

52 New Recipes: Week 14 ~ King Arthur Flour April Bakealong

My planned new recipe fell through when we ate leftovers a couple of nights.  I kept pushing other planned meals further down until the new one was off the menu.  I got an email for the April Bakealong with King Arthur Flour - Chocolate Babka.  I had pinned several recipes for chocolate babka.  Those recipes tended to be very involved and used expensive chocolate.  I had everything on hand to make King Arthur Flour's version.

I did halve the recipe and used the bread machine to make things even easier.  I mixed the filling and topping right by the recipe.  I think this is the first recipe in a long time that I followed exactly.  While I do need to work on my twisting/shaping, I thought it turned out well considering I was finishing up dinner at the same time as the babka.

My picture is not great as it was late when we actually cut the bread.  It was delicious - sweet but not overly sweet.  I really loved how easy it was once I tasted it.  This will go into my recipe book. Now I want to go back and do the other bakealong challenges.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

In the Garden

I was so busy in the garden last week that I never got around to taking pictures to share.  I have all of the raised beds weeded.  The newest bed is filled, and the chickens have done an excellent job of mixing all of the dirt/manure for me.

We had a nice shower of rain earlier in the week.  I have no idea what it is about rain water, but plants simply grow better after a good rain.  First up the catnip.  It is beginning to fill the cage.  The cats have already been visiting.

The eggplants have really grown.  I have one that sprouted back out from last year and one my aunt gave me.

One section of my herb garden - sages, oregano, garlic chives, and thyme.

The bee balm has grown like crazy over the past two weeks.  

Pepper plants - I got a bit carried away with different varieties.  I have red, yellow, and green bell, jalapeno, banana, cubanelle, fish, and lunchbox.  I still need to get poblano pepper plants.

I planted tomato plants in with the kale.  They are nearly the same size now, but the tomato plants will soon outgrow the kale.

The cucumber seeds I planted last week have sprouted.  I love to see the little seedlings pop up out of the ground.

How are things growing in your garden?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Hosting an Easter Egg Hunt

For several years I have co-hosted the community/church egg hunt in my neighborhood.  Over the years I have narrowed down what works best for us.  Maybe some of these tips can help you.

Our egg hunt is open to children aged baby through 12 years old. Living in a very small town allows me to know who most likely will come.  If you are hosting a neighborhood hunt, you most likely will also know the families that will attend.  It helps to have an idea the number and ages of children who will attend.  I add a couple of children to each age group to be on the safe side.  I plan a dozen eggs for each child.

For our egg hunt we provide all of the plastic eggs and treats inside.  Children only need to bring their baskets.  I have a family member who has kept us stocked in plastic eggs bought on clearance after Easter.  Fortunately we have room store store all of these eggs.  Alternately you can ask people to donate empty or filled plastic eggs in the weeks prior to the egg hunt.  

Having the eggs ahead of time allows us to hide the eggs before the egg hunt.  A bonus of doing it this way is that we do not need to provide entertainment/games for the children while someone hides all of the eggs.

What I put inside the eggs varies a bit from year to year depending on what I have found.  For the youngest age group I normally put Saf-T-Pops or small packs of gummy bears.  Stickers are another nice item for the toddler group.  The middle age group gets candy and stickers.  The older age group primarily gets candy.  I normally buy a bulk package of candy from the regular candy aisle.  I have found the prices to be better.

We serve a light lunch.  Most often this is grilled hot dogs, individual bags of chips, and mini cupcakes.  This gives the children a chance to open their eggs and play.  The parents have a chance to visit.  Most years we provide treat bags.  I try to find things on clearance.  Some popular items are small coloring/activity books, small bottles of bubbles, and either candy or cookies.

Have you every hosted an Easter egg hunt?  I would love to hear your tips for making it a success!

Monday, April 3, 2017

2017 Goals Week 14

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
I am excited that we are getting some of the small things done.  This past week we braced up the aquarium cabinet.  The 80 gallon aquarium had sagged a bit due to the weight of the extra thick glass, water and gravel.  I was very, very nervous about this.  I kept imagining the aquarium cracking and water going everywhere.  Our aquarium is partially inside the wall which would have resulted in major damage.  All went well though.  The aquarium is no longer leaning, and the cabinet has extra bracing.

W also finished the cover for the water manifold.  We needed something that provided easy access and did not want just a door.  This frame was at W's parents old house.  I cleaned it up and painted it.  He used some scrap wood which he painted with chalkboard paint to go inside it.  It turned out great and only cost $10 (paint).

This week our plans are to work on the entertainment cabinet doors and possibly the doors for the aquarium cabinet which is actually a large built in.

2.   Plan Ahead for Birthday & Holiday Gifts
I have chosen a few items for the wedding shower.  I think I will crochet some dish cloths with cotton yarn I already have as an add in.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
All of the raised beds are weeded.  I have a good bit of garden pea seeds saved for next year's planting.  The forecast was warm enough that I planted the seedlings I had in the greenhouse and the pepper plants I bought.  More on the garden in Wednesday's garden post.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I am still on the French bread class.  I am baking more loaves today and will have one lesson left for next week.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
Nothing going on with this goal until after Easter.  I am continuing to work on the wash cloths though.

6.  Boost Savings
This goal was hit or miss for the past week.  I did not buy unnecessary items but we did do some spending.  I needed stuff for an Easter egg hunt.  I will share that tomorrow.  I had to have a battery for my car.  Life happens sometimes.  I made a menu plan for April.  I tried to focus on using items we have on hand to keep my grocery spending low.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Weekend Book Review: The Acid Watcher Diet

The Acid Watcher Diet by Dr. Jonathan Aviv interested me primarily because my husband deals with acid reflux.  As I was reading the opening chapters, I was surprised that many other symptoms my husband has are tied to the reflux.  Dr. Aviv does an excellent job of explaining what reflux is and how an individual's diet affects it.

He starts the diet portion by giving a list of habits for reducing acid.  Many are general habits that anyone trying to improve his/her health should do.  His advice ties into the popular belief that processed foods are one thing to be avoided.

Next comes the 28 day healing diet.  While I can see that it would benefit someone with acid reflux, I do not think my husband has reached the point that he would want to follow the diet.  It is quite restrictive.  Dr Aviv has obviously never been to the middle of nowhere (AKA my hometown) as readers are encouraged to go to the local juice bar for freshly made juices.

Overall this is a good book with excellent information.  My husband may never be completely on board, but the book does give lists of foods which are better than others for acid reflux sufferers.  I think anyone dealing with reflux would find something useful in The Acid Watcher Diet.

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

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

The Backyard Gardener by Kelly Orzel is a wonderful guide to gardening.  The six chapters cover everything from soil to a monthly gardening calendar.  Many plants from flowers to vegetables are covered with thorough information.  I especially appreciate Ms. Orzel's guide to succession planting and companion planting advice.  While very helpful for beginners, this book will also appeal to longtime gardener's too.  The beautiful photographs added to my enjoyment of the book.  It will be a book that I refer to for many years to come.

Hoedown Showdown by Misty Simon is part of the Ivy Morris Mysteries series.  Ivy's children are visiting their grandparents for the week, and she has plans to enjoy her child-free time.  Those plans come to a halt when she discovers a dead body in a neighbor's shed and a new overbearing police officer comes to town.  This book could have been great.  The mystery was interesting.  My problem was that the main character spent way too much time talking about her sex life.  Nothing graphic was mentioned, but the topic got old fast.  I thought I was reading a mystery, but for most of the book I had serious doubts.  I did make it to the end of the book, but this will be the only one I will read in the series.

Vicky Delaney's Elementary, She Read is the first book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series.  Gemma is an Englishwoman living in Cape Cod and running her uncle's Sherlock Holmes themed bookshop.  Her friend, Jayne, runs an adjoining tea shop.  Gemma's super observation skills get her in trouble when she discovers two bodies.  I adored everything about this new series.  The characters are charming, and the setting is almost perfect.  Readers do not need to be Sherlock Holmes fans to enjoy this book.  I look forward to reading 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!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

52 New Recipes Week 13: Chocolate Pound Cake

I know I said that I was going to make homemade wheat crackers this week.  I also realize that chocolate pound cake is pretty much the opposite of wheat crackers.  I have several reasons for changing my mind.  1) I was under the weather and chocolate just sounded better.  2)I needed to use up some eggs.  This recipe took care of 10 bantam eggs.  3) I needed to use up some buttermilk.  Add those together, and I had no choice.

I found the recipe in Trisha Yearwood's cookbook, Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen.  The exact recipe can be found on Food Network.  I did drop the sugar to 2 1/3 cups and replaced the milk with buttermilk.  I prefer desserts less sweet and wanted to use up the last of my buttermilk.

If you are following the recipe online, I would like to add a couple of pound cake tips.  Grease and flour the pan.  The flour and cooling time means it will slide perfectly out of the pan.  Creaming the butter, shortening, and sugar requires at least five minutes, but I lean toward seven minutes.  This is the first step in making a pound cake light.  The other ingredients should be added with the shortest mixing time possible.  You do not want to undo all of the work from the creaming step.  These are steps I learned from older pound cake mentors and steps that are often left out of written recipes.

I did bake it slightly over an hour but kept a close eye on it so that I did not overbake it.  It rose beautifully and was light with a good chocolate flavor.  My only regret is that I forgot to add a scoop of instant espresso powder.  I will remember that for the next time I make this cake.  I will definitely make it again.

I have no idea what next week's recipe will be.  I hesitate to say the wheat crackers.  I prefer to cook whatever strikes my fancy at the time.  You will just have to come back next week.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fair Trade Friday: March Earring of the Month

I had been on the fence about the Earring of the Month shipments for some time.  Several stories, as well as the fact that I had extra funds in my personal money, pushed me over the edge.  I signed up for the 6 month subscription which drops the price per month slightly.  I signed up in time to get my earrings for March.

At first I thought they would not be my style since I rarely wear such large earrings.  I tried them on and fell in love.  They are lightweight and super cute.  These earrings are Mafie earrings from 2nd Story Goods.  If you order directly from 2nd Story Goods, you have your choice of three colors.

I loved getting a pair of surprise earrings from Fair Trade Friday.  Are you worried that a pair of earrings might not be your style?  No problem.  Each pair of earrings comes with a lovely bag and a card for gift giving.

If earrings are not your style, you can sign up for the Bracelet of the Month subscription.  With any of the Fair Trade Friday subscriptions, your purchase supports women artisans around the world.  You will also be introduced to wonderful fair trade companies that you can buy from directly.

Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Goals Week 13

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
I am saying we made progress on the update property portion of this goal.  We worked on the rabbit condo last week.  It got a remodel to make it better for the rabbits.  We are not done yet and will work on it over the next few weeks.  This week we plan to knock out a few quick projects on the new house too.

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday and Holiday Gifts
No pressing matters on this goal.  Next up is to choose a wedding shower gift though.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I have one raised bed left to weed this week and will pick the last of the garden peas for next year's seed.  It is still a bit early for planting, but I might stop into the garden center to see what plants are available.  I can always store them in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I am continuing on the French bread class.  It involves much more than I imagined.  I will be carrying this class over into the first part of April.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
I divided out stickers which means I have everything to put together the school supply bags.  I continued to work on the wash cloths.

6.  Boost Savings
This week I cancelled my subscription to Mighty Nest.  I did enjoy the shipments, but this was an easy way to save $10 a month.  I will look this week for another little thing or two to cut back on.

Have you made any goals yet?  How are they coming along?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Weekend Book Review: Murder is No Accident

Murder is No Accident by A.H. Gabhart is book three in the Hidden Springs Mystery series.  Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane is in charge of Hidden Springs while the sheriff is on vacation.  He looks forward to a weekend of fishing until a body is discovered in an empty mansion.  What looks like an accident become more mysterious when a second body is discovered in the same house.  I had not read any of the previous books in this series.  The first few chapters were slow as worked to get the characters straight in my mind.  This book easily stands on its own.  The mystery was very good and kept me guessing until near the end.  My favorite part of the book was definitely the characters.  They were the perfect small town citizens.  I look forward to more visits to Hidden Springs!

disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Books but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

The Cheltenham Square Murders by John Bude was originally published in 1937.  It has been re-released as part of the British Library Crime Classics series.  While some of the terms used then are no longer used, the book is still wonderful.  Superintendent Meredith is visiting a friend in Cheltenham Square when a puzzling murder is committed.  He extends his visit to help solve the crime.  I enjoyed the setting and characters of this book which reminded me a bit of Agatha Christie.  This is an excellent example of a classic British crime novel!

I am already a fan of Marty Wingate's books.  Her latest Every Trick in the Rook, part of the Birds of a Feather Mystery series, makes me love her writing more.  Julia works as the manager of a tourist center for a British estate.  She is happy with her job and her boyfriend, Michael.  Things begin to fall apart when her ex-husband is found dead on the estate.  The mystery was interesting, but my favorite part of the book was the characters.  Alfie the rook is the best character of all.  This is a wonderful cozy mystery especially for bird and nature lovers.

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Frugal Friday

Friday:  This was a normal day here.  Meals were eaten at home.  Laundry was hung to dry.  I picked lettuce from the garden for the rabbits.  I honestly do not know anything special that I did.  Some days are like that though.

Saturday:  I baked baguettes and sandwiches bread.  Both recipes are basic - flour, salt, yeast, water, and a bit of oil for the latter.  Both are delicious and inexpensive to make.  I normally make some type of bread once a week.  I have no idea how much bread costs, but I can guess that homemade is cheaper.  W and I both ate leftovers.  I packed his lunch.

Sunday:  Sundays are always quieter days.  Aside from going to church, I spend this day resting as much as possible.  I answer letter or read.

Monday:  I hung sheets out to dry on the line.  I transplanted seedlings into recycled pots.  I spent some time organizing the pantry and made a plan to use up some items.

Tuesday:  I worked in the yard part of the day.  I planted herbs into some cement blocks left from building the house.  The idea is that the roots can go out the bottom while the top will keep the chickens from scratching up the plants.  I used bags of potting mix purchased last year on clearance.  I hung clothes out to dry.  I cooked our meal using ingredients already on hand.

Wednesday:  W and I ran our errands together.  I stuck to my list at the grocery store.  We bought in season produce which was on sale.  We had meal plans at home which kept us from being tempted to eat out.  We gave my uncle some leftover paint to use on a project.  This might not seem thrifty for us, but we often trade needed items back and forth.  It was nice to have something on hand that we no longer needed but he did.

Thursday:  Another quiet day spent at home.  It was cooler so I stayed in for the most part. I did hang a load of clothes outside as well as some on drying racks inside.  We had leftovers for our main meal.  W bought parts to fix my car - something to do with the battery cables - for $20.  I am thankful he is able to do things like that as it definitely saves money!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

52 New Recipes: Weeks 11 and 12

This week has me caught up on new recipes.  Hopefully I can stay on track now.

The first recipe is Creamy Parmesan Garlic Mushroom Chicken.  As usual I made a minor change to the recipe.  I left out the spinach this time and used chicken tenders.  I already had the chicken tenders in the freezer.  I loved how quickly the dish came together.  It had three steps:  cooking the chicken, cooking the mushrooms, and making the sauce.  I opted to serve this with mashed potatoes as I had some that needed to be used.  W said that he would rather have it with potatoes.  He loved the dish and was happy to learn that it had cheese.  At first he thought I had made lumpy gravy.  This will definitely go into our regular rotation.  I neglected to take a picture of the finished dish so hope over to The Recipe Critic to see her lovely photos.

Keeping with the forgetful theme - I did not take photos of the Seasoned Rice Pilaf from Good Cheap Eats.  I was pressed for time the day I made this.  I ended up just tossing everything in the rice cooker.  At first I thought it was going to be bland, but it turned out really good.  I might up the amount of chicken broth next time.  It was better than the boxed variety as it was not overwhelmed by salt.  This is definitely a budget friendly recipe.  It made a large amount with inexpensive ingredients especially if you make your own chicken broth.  I will absolutely make this again

I am planning to make wheat thins next week.  I know stores sell them, but I am trying to get away from processed foods.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

In the Garden

Brrr!  Last week we had a low one night of 25 degrees.  That is a January low and not a March low especially when the highs in February were in the 80s.  I knew we would have damage from the frost, but it was not as bad as I expected.  Here is the fig tree.

This is the same fig tree.

That seems to be the way the frost damage went.  It was hit and miss.  I think the only thing it got completely was the mulberry tree.  It is a male tree so we never have fruit, but it might affect our neighbor's tree which is a female and does fruit.

The temperatures are warm once again.  I have been very busy in the garden so far this week.

I am planting herbs around parts of the chicken house.  I have mints, oregano, thyme, and lemon balm.  The chickens do not seem to be bothering them - yet.

I weeded all of the raspberry beds.

I planted pineapple sage.  These are pieces cut from my mom's plants.  Her's sprouted back out and spread from last year.

I also set the bee hive back up.  I cleaned it out well and am hoping some bees looking for a home will move in.  I plan to buy some bees once we have more bee -friendly plants spread around the property.  In the meantime I will not turn down a swarm of homeless bees.

I still have so much left to do, but I am making progress.  I would love to plant more, but I do not trust the weather until closer to Easter.

Monday, March 20, 2017

2017 Goals Week 12

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
W put up the rest of the mini-blinds.  I know you are thinking it is crazy to live in a house for 5 months without all of the blinds in.  We live in the country.  Our neighbors would need binoculars to see in our windows.  That would be creepy no matter what window treatments we have.  We have progress even if it is small.

2. Plan Ahead for Birthday & Holiday Gifts
I ordered the book for March's birthday.  I need to keep my eye out for a diaper deal for a baby shower coming up soon.  I also need to choose a bridal shower gift for next month.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
My goal this week is to spend at least one hour a day working in the garden.  I have plenty of weeding to do.  I also need to work on filling a raised bed and transplanting some seedlings and plants.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I am enjoying the French bread class.  My first attempt at baguettes was decent.  I can see where I can improve.  It felt time consuming, but I am sure that will change the more I make it.  The baguettes are perfect for crostini.  I have a second baguette lesson to do this week before moving on to a lesson on additional shapes.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
This week was quiet.  I have started checking prices on soap.  I am also continuing to work on wash cloths.  I am halfway done.  It looks like I will not get them all done this month.  I still have plenty of time to finish them.

6.  Boost Savings
My plan for this week is to eat from the freezer and hopefully keep grocery spending to a minimum.  I need to put more focus on the little things that save money.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Zip It by Karen Ehman is a 40 day devotional subtitled The Keep It Shut 40-Day Challenge.  Each day's reading contains Bible verses relating to what to say or not say in our daily lives.  Words can be extremely powerful for good or bad.  Mrs. Ehman's devotionals are kind but direct reminders of using words and silence for good.  I liked the layout and how devotionals were divided by topic.  This book definitely made me think about how my words affect others.  It is an excellent individual devotional but would work well for a group study also.

Eve Schaub's Year of No Clutter is a memoir of Eve's battle with her clutter.  I wanted to like this book.  Eve's writing style  is a bit like her home - messy.  She took a long time to get started, and I am not certain that she really accomplished anything.  It is important to remember this is a memoir and not a self-help book.  The book is light on substance but did make me want to declutter my own home.

Bitter Harvest by Wendy Tyson is book two in the Greenhouse Mystery series.  This is a wonderful follow up to the first book, but it easily stands on its own.  Megan's town is hosting a big Oktoberfest meant to bring attention to the small town charm of Winsome.  The celebration is threatened when bodies start piling up.  The mystery is strong as are the characters.  Of course, I still love the gardening theme.  I am always happy when a series remains strong.  I look forward to many more books from Ms. Tyson!

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

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

I put Botanical Beauty by Aubre Andrus on my Amazon wish list as soon as I had an opportunity to preview it.  The book is filled with easy to make natural spa products.  The creams, lotions, and scrubs would be excellent for your own home use or as gifts.  The sections feature products for Hands & Feet, Body, Face, and Hair.  The book also includes instructions for handmade items such as pedicure slippers and a spa hair wrap.  The pictures are lovely, and all of the products include ingredients that could be purchased at health food stores or online.  Many of the items are probably already in your kitchen cabinet.  This is easily one of my favorite beauty books as I love to make my own body care products.  The simple but thorough directions makes this a wonderful book for anyone just getting started or for someone who needs some new inspiration.  I highly recommend it.

Murder in White Lace by Karen Sue Walker is the first book in the Bridal Shop Cozy Mystery series.  Max works at a bridal shop in her hometown but has dreams of returning to New York City.  A bride collapses while trying on her bridal gown and later passes away at the hospital.  When her friend is arrested, Max steps in to solve the mystery.  This cozy mystery was not unusual but at the same time I could not put it down.  I read the entire book in less than 24 hours.  The characters worked so well together.  I wanted to stay longer in Crystal Shores and look forward to a return trip with the next book.

Laura Childs' latest Tea Shop Mystery is Pekoe Most Poison.  Lead character, Theodosia, gets wrapped up in another murder after attending a tea party.  The supporting characters/suspects are a bit out there.  The book was good but not quite great.  I did enjoy the mystery and especially the time spent in Theo's tea shop.  This book easily stands on its own which is always nice when a series is ongoing.  Overall this is a book worth reading especially if you are a tea fan.

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

Frugal Friday

Friday:  We headed out to the Peaches to Beaches yard sale.  We packed drinks and food items rather than eating out.  It saved time and money.  Moving was still fresh in my mind so I was careful with what I purchased.

Saturday:  Back to the yard sales even though we were tired.  Drinks and food was packed for a second day.  We took a shorter route and came home with time to rest.  My aunt and her grandchildren came over to visit the rabbits.  They brought carrots for the rabbits and cabbage for the chickens.  

Sunday:  The weather turned cold so other than church and feeding the animals it was a quiet day.  I stayed in and answered some mail.

Monday:  The weather was cold and rainy.  I was happy to get some water for the outside plants though.  I ate leftovers for dinner and supper.  I watched a horror movie that I rented for free with Amazon shipping credits.  I crocheted some wash cloths and answered  few letters.

Tuesday:  I made soup for dinner using ingredients already on hand.  It was cold so I stayed in except for feeding the animals.

Wednesday:  This is our usual errand day.  I picked up some sale items at the grocery store.  The sun finally came out so I was able to wash and hang out a load of laundry.  We used some leftover plastic from the greenhouse to cover up the raised beds.  Last month's temperatures near the 80s have many of my herbs sprouted out.  These will not handle cold well so we covered them in an attempt to save them.  We moved a few potted items into the house and greenhouse.

Thursday:  I picked lettuce from the garden for the rabbits.  When I cooked soup earlier in the week, I only used part of a pack of ground venison.  I used the rest in chili for Thursday's meal.  The chili also used home canned tomatoes and pinto beans I cooked myself and froze.  It was a frugal meal with homemade cornbread on the side.  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

52 New Recipes: Week 10

I had hoped to get caught up this week, but catching up will have to wait until next week.  Meals ended up being tried and true recipes rather than new ones.  All of the cozy mysteries I read did have me craving scones.  I searched King Arthur Flour for a recipe.  I ended up choosing this recipe.  It was a basic scones recipe with room for creativity through add-ins.

I did follow the recipe fairly close.  I used half and half since that is what was in the refrigerator.  I ended up with 1 1/2 cups of add-ins.  My scones have mini chocolate chips and chopped almonds.  I had both in the pantry.  I would have added dried fruit, but W is not a fan of dried fruit.

Freezing them prior to baking definitely helped. I added a touch too much liquid and could not separate them until after their stay in the freezer.  They turned out very well.  I might not make these every week, but they are a nice treat.  I also liked that they were not overly sweet even with 3/4 cup of mini chocolate chips.

I have chosen two recipes to try next week which will put me back on track.  I am going to make a chicken and mushroom dish and also a homemade version of a boxed rice mix.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

In the Garden

I think everyone can agree that the weather has been a bit odd lately.  Winter here was warmer than usual with a few cold days thrown in.  This week the weather has been very cold with highs barely in the 50s and lows near freezing.  This is what the sky has looked like.

I have not been doing any work in the garden but have been hiding in the house instead.  I have run out to the greenhouse to keep an eye on things.  The tomato plants are growing well.  The moringa tree has sprouted back out.  I think this year I need to find a spot outside for it.

The pepper plants need to be transplanted into bigger containers this coming week.

I will also transplant the plantain and bee balm.

I am really hoping that we do not get any below freezing temperatures as most of my fruit trees look like the fig tree below.

Come back next Wednesday to see if my outside plants survive or not!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Yard Sale Finds

This past weekend was the annual Peaches to Beaches Yard Sale.  I had a very short list of things I was looking to buy.  Moving was still fresh in my mind so I did not want to add unnecessary items to the house.  One thing I wanted was a rice cooker. My old one quit working.  The last one did not allow me to add any seasonings to the rice while cooking so I wanted a different style.

This one came with everything except the book which was easily found online.  I paid $5.  I use a rice cooker more for steaming eggs than cooking rice.  Fresh hard boiled eggs do not peel properly while steamed ones do.

My other main purchase was herb plants.  I had looked at a big box garden center so I knew the sizes and prices.  Two nurseries normally set up each year, and this year was no different.  I bought three types of mint, sage, oregano, thyme, and lavender.  The plants were large and healthy and only $4 each.

I purchased a few exercise DVDs for $0.50 each and a Ninetendo 3DS for $1.  I am borrowing a charger from a friend's son to see if the 3DS even works.  If it does, that will be a good buy.

My main planned purchases were items for the shoeboxes.  We found some good bargains on stuffed animals and toy cars.  Some people gave us items for free, and others offered deep discounts.  One man was selling beanie babies for $1 each.  When I said that was too much for me since I planned to use them for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, he lowered the price to $0.25 each.  I bought 80 from him.  Another woman sold beanie babies to us for $0.10 each, and we bought 50 from her.  These were wonderful blessings since I am on a tight budget this year.  I do not have pictures since my mom quickly packed away everything.  

It is always a bit of a treasure hunt, and the weather tends to be iffy.  The weather was good this year, and we had fun.  I was happy with each of my purchases.  All in all it was a good weekend!

Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 Goals Week 11

1.  Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
This past week ended up being completely crazy so nothing worth posting about was actually completed.  With the cold, rainy weather in the forecast for this week, I am not too hopeful.  My painting project will definitely be put off for a week.

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday & Holiday Gifts
The next three birthday girls are all getting the same book.  I might just order them all at once to make life easier.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I need to transplant the lunchbox peppers this week.  I had planned to move some stuff out of the greenhouse, but my area has a chance of frost toward the middle of the week.  If the weather improves, I will pull more weeds.  I have two-thirds of the raspberries left to weed.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I am continuing with the French bread class and will most likely order the needed tools this week.  I did resist the urge to sign up for another class.  I saw a puff pastry one that is very tempting.

5. Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
I am off to a slow start with the wash cloth goal since I only finished two last week.  That needs to a priority this week.  I did get some awesome deals at yard sales this past weekend.  I was blessed with discounted and even free items once people learned what I was doing.  I have piles and piles of stuffed animals and a nice collection of toy cars.

6.  Boost Savings
I was able to put a bit more money toward the credit card debt this past week.  No money coming in the week so it will be more about keeping the spending under control.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Banana Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke is book twenty-one in the Hannah Swensen Mystery series. This book finds Hannah returning home from her honeymoon to solve the murder of her mother's friend.  For me the series seems to be going downhill.  Hannah spent more time developing new recipes than solving the murder.  It was practically an afterthought in the last chapters.  Hannah's marriage is just strange.  I cannot imagine any actual married couple acting the way Hannah and her new husband do.  Hannah seems to have lost the ability to function as a normal person.  Even my mom, who hates her cell phone, knows how to see a missed call.  The book did end with a major cliffhanger which means I will likely read the next book.  Otherwise I feel sure I would be done with this series.

Marilyn Leach's Up From the Grave is an older book, but it is new to me.  Former investigative reporter, Berdie is now the vicar's wife.  At the groundbreaking for a water feature for the church's garden, the body of a young child is discovered.  In the small village of Aidan Kirkwood, the gossip begins flying.  Berdie steps up to solve the mystery before things are completely out of hand.  The characters and setting were charming.  This was an excellent cozy mystery, and I am happy to have discovered a new favorite author.

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

Frugal Friday

This past week I made an attempt to sit down each day and write a few frugal things I had done.

I washed clothes in homemade laundry detergent and hung them out to dry.  I also used a bunch of leftover fruit to make W fruit salad to take in his lunch.  The apples that were beyond fruit salad use went to the rabbits.  The other fruit bits went into the compost pile.

My aunt dropped off some cabbage leaves for the rabbits.  The cabbage were from her garden.  My rabbits are quite spoiled as they most often eat produce from the garden.  I packed W's work foods in all reusable containers.  I had macaroni & cheese (from the freezer) with sliced tomato (from my dad) for supper.

I transplanted some seedlings into recycled plant containers using a potting mix I bought on clearance last year.  I baked two loaves of bread.  I paid bills.  The last one might not seem like a money saving item, but late fees are not frugal.

We both had dentist appointments.  A couple of years ago I started scheduling them for the same time so we only made one trip.  We also did our other errands while we were out.  Meals were eaten at home even though we spent quite a bit of time in town.  I bought the e-book version of a book I had on my wish list for $1.99.  It pays to add things to a wish list and scroll through it from time to time. 

I ended up going back to town with W.  I picked up a sprinkler hose for free with a gift card I won from an instant win game.  I will use this for my new bee/butterfly garden area.  Most of the flowers are drought tolerant, but I need to get them established.  I also picked up some flowers on clearance to put in pots on the front porch.  I spent $1.61 for a six pack of sweet william and a pot of English daisies.  I split these between two pots.  It should fill in nicely over the coming months.

We had leftovers for both meals today.  It gave me a break from cooking and helped stretch the grocery budget. I took advantage of the warm temperatures to open the windows and air out the house.  

Thursday, March 9, 2017

52 New Recipes: Weeks 8 & 9

I am still a week behind on this challenge, but I am determined to catch up next week.

Week 8 is more of a cooking technique/recipe.  I had a half a package of refrigerated tortellini in the freezer.  I wanted to serve it for supper one night, but I needed a hands off approach.  I used this recipe for crockpot tortellini.  My homemade marinara was already full of garlic, basil, and vegetables so I left the extras out.  It was super easy, and we ate this better than the way I had cooked it previously.

Week 9 is another crockpot recipe.  I made Slow Cooker Chicken Bahn Mi from 100 Days of Real Food.  I was surprised that W liked it as much as he did.  The onions stirred in well with the chicken and were not overpowering at all.  We used homemade hamburger buns.  I had pickled veggies on mine, but W did not.  I would probably use some fresh ginger next time instead of the powdered.  I will make this again especially during the summer.  It is a good sandwich option for busy days.

It was late both evenings and neither dish was particularly photogenic.  I will try to do better next week on pictures.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

In The Garden

It has been a few weeks since I posted a garden update.  I am making slow progress on weeding the raised beds.  The warmer winter means things are sprouting sooner and that the weeds have thrived.  The chickens are helping me dispose of them.  That means I rarely pull more than they can eat in a day.

In the greenhouse I planted the seedlings in recycled plastic containers.  The peat pellets continue to help them thrive by holding onto moisture.

This week I also planted the Meyer lemon and grapefruit seedlings that were started from seeds.  To the right of them you can see some bunny tails which I am growing just for fun.

My garden helper for the day - Paris

In the outside garden the herbs that sprouted are growing well.  This bed has stevia, marshmallow, blue salvia, chamomile, and yarrow.

When I weeded another bed, I was thrilled to find that the bee balm had sprouted back out and multiplied!  I always pays to weed carefully so plants you want are not tossed aside too.

One of last year's jalapeno pepper plants surprised me by sprouting back out.  I removed a thick layer of leaves from this raised bed and am hoping to see some pepper seedlings.

Finally the loquat trees that my uncle gave me have grown over the past year.  I will transplant them into larger pots for a year before finding a permanent home for them in the yard.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Giving Back

Last year I was introduced to Mercy House Global through a post by Angi at Schneider Peeps.  It is hard to put into words how much I have been touched by this ministry.  Impoverished women are empowered through jobs earning fair wages in safe working environments. The stories of these precious women remind me how blessed I am.

I signed up for the Fair Trade Friday Original Box thinking I would try it for a month or two.  I was instantly hooked.  The appeal was not only by the wonderful items I received, but also the knowledge that I was helping women have a better life.  The items often include the name of the woman who made it.  I find myself saying a prayer for the artist each time I use or wear an item.  I have not been disappointed once.  A few items have been gifted to others simply because I had a friend who would love a certain item.

Even though one of my goals this year is to boost our savings, I will do my best to always make room in the budget for Fair Trade Friday.  The story behind the brass knot earrings makes me want to sign up for the Earring of the Month option as well.  Not interested in a monthly subscription box, you can make purchases through the online store.