Friday, June 30, 2017

Frugal Friday

I hung laundry out to dry or on drying racks in the house.  We still have not connect the dryer.  I am sure it will get done eventually, but for now I have no need.

Meals were planned using food on hand.  I also focused on eating up leftovers.  It meant stretching the food budget a bit further.

I picked peppers, tomato, herbs, cucumbers, squash, and zucchini from the garden.  My mom gifted me some okra from her garden.

Exercise lately has been garden work.  Thanks to rain showers in the evenings pulling weeds the following mornings has been easier (but not quite easy).

I gave myself a manicure complete with nail art.  I was happy with how it turned out.  It impressed my 5 year old niece enough that she asked me to do the same on her nails.

I made lemonade using juice frozen from gifted lemons last year .  I found a large stockpile of the frozen juice when I organized the freezer.

I took advantage of a free class offer from Craftsy.  I was able to get a pie and tart class completely free.

I also took advantage of a Schoola flash sale.  I got 10 tops for $19.  My mom and I ordered together to get free shipping.  I was able to buy nicer things for much less than I would find at my local thrift stores.  I also stuck to my needed items list rather than a "that looks nice" impulse purchase.

I printed a coupon for an item that was on my shopping list and saved $7.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

52 New Recipes: Weeks 25 & 26

My recipe for week 25 was Oven-Fried Green Tomatoes.  After I made green tomato pickles and chow chow, I still had several green tomatoes left.  Since I rarely deep fry food, I set out to find a recipe for oven fried green tomatoes.  I looked at a couple and basically made up my own.  In one bowl I mixed a couple of beaten eggs with a splash of milk (or water).  In a second bowl I mixed equal parts corn meal and bread crumbs (homemade or panko), salt, and pepper.  I sliced the green tomatoes.  Each was dipped in the egg mixture and the breading mixture twice.  This gave it a nice coating.  I baked these at about 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  I flipped them over halfway through the baking time.

I was shocked that W ate them and even went back for seconds.  The breading was very crunchy and just as good as fried.  Well, maybe better since there was no greasy taste at all.  I am looking forward to having them again before the summer is over.

Week 26 was a Zucchini Bake with Tomatoes, Garlic, and Parmesan.  I neglected to take a picture of my finished dish.  It was good but not great.  I think a bit more seasoning would help.  W liked it so that is enough to make me try it again.  We tend to have plenty of tomatoes and squash/zucchini during the summer so I am always happy to find new ways to serve them.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

June Fair Trade Friday Earrings

I have still been getting the Fair Trade Friday packages.  I have just been lax in sharing them with all of you.  June's earring is a lovely macrame earring from HandUp Global Goods.

These are lovely, and I have already worn them a few times.  The artistry in these earrings amazes me.  I am never disappointed with the earrings chosen by Mercy House.  I find that those are the earrings I reach for over and over again.

HandUp Global Goods is a wonderful organization that seeks to empower young men in Haiti.  You can read more about their mission here.  Stop by the shop and see what all they have to offer!

Monday, June 26, 2017

2017 Goals Update Week 26

1.  Completely Finish New House & Update Property
This week W fixed the cabinet doors over the refrigerator.  They needed a slight trimming to fit properly.  He also fixed the cover on the kitchen smoke detector.  It worked properly, but the molding needed a bit of a trim so the cover set right.  We also measured the aquarium cabinet and bathroom built in for doors.  W got with his dad for a consultation on building the doors.  I expect we will work on a few small projects this week as we have a few other things going on.

I have started clean up on the property.  It is mainly moving things around and making it less cluttered.  This is important since snake season is upon us.  I tend to leave snakes alone if they leave me alone.  I do prefer to minimize the places they can hide though.

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday and Holiday Gifts
I had planned to get a gift card for our niece.  She called searching for an aquarium to put a gecko.  W fixed one up complete with secure lid.  That will make a nice birthday gift since it is something she wants.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I put jalapeno poppers in the freezer using peppers from the garden.  We have been eating squash, cucumbers, and herbs.  I sold a few herbs this week.  The rabbits have eaten some of the excess cucumbers from the garden as treats.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I made the mocha madeleines this past week.  They turned out okay.  I will need to adjust the baking time for my oven.  This week I plan to make citrus madeleines.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
My mother-in-law gave me soap to put in the boxes.  I also made a couple more wash cloths.  I lost track of how many I need to finish so counting will be on my to do list this week.  I want to knock those out so I can crochet some hair bows.

6.  Boost Savings
No extra money was added to the debt this past week. I watched our spending this week.  The grocery spending was less than $20.  I am still hopeful that we can do away with the credit card debt next month!

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?