Sunday, December 4, 2016

Good Reads: The Whole Town's Talking

The Whole Town's TalkingThe Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Whole Town's Talking is about a small Missouri town from it's settlement in the 19th century to it's demise. Told through the stories of it's inhabitants, it a feel good, sometimes poignant story of everyday lives and their sometimes greatness.

I thoroughly love Fannie Flagg books, but this one lacked some of the easy flow of her earlier books. However, it's a good read with a great deal of warmth. Perfect for a winters day.





Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Recipes: Sweet Potato Casserole and Cranberry Sauce

Every year we go to my brother in law's house for Thanksgiving.  They provide all of the main dishes, but I always bring sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce.  These are easy recipes and can be made in advance.

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

4 large sweet potatoes
8-10 ounces of orange juice
1/2 - 1 cup brown sugar, to taste
1 stick butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp.  nutmeg
or 1/4 tsp. clove
1/4 - 1/2  pecans

Bake potatoes in 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 1 hour.  Leave out to cool.  Remove the skins, then slice into medallions.  Place in a greased 13" by 9" dish in a single layer.


Melt butter in a sauce pan, then add other ingredients.  


Fresh nutmeg with micro grater

Pour liquid over the sweet potatoes and sprinkle pecans over the top.



Bake covered in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10 minutes.



CRANBERRY SAUCE

1 bag cranberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp. grated orange rind (optional)

Place orange juice and cranberries in a sauce pan over low heat, bring to a boil and cover.  Cook, covered,  until the cranberry skins have broken.



Add sugar and orange rind.  Cook, uncovered, over low until sugar has dissolved and juice has thickened.  Place in container and refrigerate.



Both of these recipes can be made ahead and the casserole reheated before serving.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving,

Pam

Friday, October 14, 2016

Good Reads: Lowcountry Book Club

Lowcountry Book Club (Liz Talbot Mystery #5)Lowcountry Book Club by Susan M. Boyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lowcountry Book Club is the fifth book in the Liz Talbot mystery series. It is a well written and professionally edited, full length novel.

Liz and her husband are hired to investigate a murder by a prestigious law firm. Their job is to prove that the defendant, the victims husband, is innocent. But Liz can't stop herself from trying to find the true murderer and the evidence to prove it.

I've always loved the main characters in this series, because they are intelligent and honorable. The mystery in the Lowcountry Book Club is fast paced, detailed and unpredictable.

I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading future books in this series.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Homeschooling 2016/2017

During my Dear Daughters (DD) last semester of the 2015/2016 school year  DD was homeschooled.  I developed her curriculum using textbooks I found online and she went to two computer classes at Indian Rocks Christian School.  This worked well for us, especially since we concentrated on her worst subject, mathematics.

This year I researched and found a Florida accredited school that had virtual classes via Apex Learning and would accept her homeschool transcripts.  If you do this with your students it is very important to develop a strong curriculum and keep a detailed portfolio. Champion Preparatory Academy (CPA) was highly rated through the Florida Parent Educators Association.



DD is also attending a Fine Art class at Indian Rocks Christian School.  Their art teacher is top notch and teaches a combination of fine art and humanities.

Apex is new to us, so we are dealing with a learning curve, but things have settled down now that DD has used the program for several weeks.  One thing I don't like about Apex is that, while their lessons are easily understood, their test problems are much more complex than the lessons and the practice problems given to the students.


Since DD is now attending two Florida accredited schools, she does not need to be registered with our county school board homeschool office.  CPA will ensure that she receives full credit for her learning and provide her with legal transcripts.

I hear people talking about their children completing their homeschool tasks in a couple of hours.  This may be true of kindergarten, but if your older child (especially middle and high school age) is not spending eight hours a day on their lessons, then you are short changing them.  Remember we are preparing our children for college (university), careers and to be responsible adults.

If you have any questions about homeschooling please feel free to ask.

God bless,
Pam



Friday, September 9, 2016

Good Reads: A Killer's Guide to Good Works

A Killer's Guide to Good Works (A Val Cameron Mystery #2)A Killer's Guide to Good Works by Shelley Costa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Killers Guide to Good Works is the second book in the Val Cameron Mystery series. It is a well written and professionally edited full length novel.

The plot was very good; fast paced and detailed. Shelley Costa is an accomplished author and at times writes so beautifully that I would read a section, stop, exhale and relive her words. After reading the prologue I found myself grinning and rubbing my hands together at the thought that I had a whole book of her writing before me.

So if I enjoyed the book so much why did I only rate it as four stars? Because it read like a first book. None of the secondary characters from the first book were in this one. Val's love interest has flown off into the sunset and only rates a couple of sentences. It was disconcerting. I hope this isn't one of those series where the main character has a new man in each book. I enjoy watching characters' relationships grow over time.

I enjoyed A Killers Guide to Good Works and look forward to reading future books in the series.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

*Sex and violence is not graphic in this novel.


Friday, September 2, 2016

Times of Troubles

They say that trouble comes in threes.  Well, for me trouble came in a three month block.  Pretty much anything that could go wrong did.  I am happy to move into September and, I say this prayerfully, a time of less stress.

As you know from my earlier posts on dealing with contractors that I am pretty well versed on what to look for in a contractor.  But there are times when everything checks out, but it all goes bad despite your carefulness.  In this case my roofing contractor, after I signed the contract and they obtained the permits, let four months go by before they started work.  The day I was about to call my lawyer the roofers showed up to start the job.

Besides the delay, the office staff were the worst communicators.  I was spoken to in a rude, condescending way and was often told untruths.  The actual roofing crews were professional and did very good work.  Such a dichotomy!  The good news is that the roof was finished and passed inspection before Hurricane Hermine blew past us.

The color of shingles we chose.

Add to the above car problems, getting my daughter set up to take classes at three schools, other home breakdowns and repairs, a trip canceled due to airline employee incompetence, and a plethora of little problems; I was frazzled.  I'm looking forward to living life for a few weeks without the drama. 

I have to ask, "What happened to customer service?"  I remember my grandparents, then my parents talking about how much easier life was during their youth.  Now I am doing the same thing.  We used to choose our own doctors and got our prescriptions filled for a reasonable price at the corner Rexall drug store.  The one where the owners were the pharmacist and the checkout lady.  I could go on and on.  I find myself resenting "progress" that doesn't make my life easier, but rather makes it more difficult.

Okay, I'm done kvetching.  I'm laying these thoughts in God's hands.  Moving forward. Moving forward.

God bless,
Pam

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

From Grandma's Kitchen: Chicken and Rice Casserole

My Grandma Bosley had nine children and an infinite number of grandkids.  It's not a surprise that this easy to make dish was so popular at her home.  It's both filling and tasty.




INGREDIENTS

1 chicken precooked
4 cups rice uncooked, about 8 cooked
vegetables of your choice cut in bite size pieces
1 clove garlic
2 cups shredded cheddar
2 cans cream of something soup (your choice)
1 - 1 1/2 cans water
1 tsp. marjoram or thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. oil

Cook your rice and chicken in advance.  Pick chicken off of the bone or cut in bite size pieces. In a sauté pan add oil, garlic, and vegetables.  Cook until lightly browned.  Oil a 9 x 13 casserole and preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix soup, salt, pepper and water until the consistency of gravy.  Put a thin layer of gravy in bottom of casserole, then a layer of rice, then layer of chicken, then layer of vegetable mix, then layer of gravy, and finish with layer of shredded cheese. Repeat.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes.

You can put this casserole together in advance and keep refrigerated until you bake it.  It also reheats nicely the next day.

This is comfort food at it's best.  Enjoy.

God bless,
Pam