Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Frugal Internet Finds: Craftsy

I love my craft hobbies, but crafting can become very expensive.  It's easy to overwhelm your budget when you are purchasing patterns, supplies and those clever doodads that manufacturers convince us we need.

Right before Christmas I was on the internet looking for free or inexpensive patterns that I could use to make holiday gifts.  I stumbled upon a great site where you can buy patterns and workshops from other crafters.  Craftsy has many free patterns to download and is also a site where crafters can sell their original patterns online.  As you can see the name Craftsy is a play on the famous Etsy name.


You do need to create a login name and password to use the site, but it asks for precious little personal information since it is all downloads.  In the rare times I buy a pattern I use Paypal.

I'd love to hear about your favorite crafting sites.

God bless,
Pam

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Frugal Kitchen: Chiles Rellenos

This is a fast dinner to prepare using simple ingredients from the regular grocery store.  I usually buy fresh poblano peppers (or another mild mexican pepper) for the adults and use a bell pepper for my daughter.

INGREDIENTS

1 or 2 peppers per person
1 pkg. quesadilla cheese
1 small can salsa
1 or 2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
1 or 2 Tbsp. cooking oil


INSTRUCTIONS

Remove seeds and stems from peppers.  On the longer peppers I make a slit on one side or on the bell peppers on the top.  Stuff peppers with several slices of cheese.


Mix together the flour, cornmeal and salt.  Roll the peppers in beaten eggs, then in the flour mixture.  Add oil to a caste iron or oven safe pan and heat on stove to medium. Lightly brown the peppers on all sides.


Pour the remaining egg into the pepper cavities.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, then bake the peppers for 30 minutes.  You may need to turn them once during the baking process.  They should be soft and nicely browned when done.



Serve with salsa and yellow rice.


I hope you enjoy this easy Mexican meal.

God bless,
Pam

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Good Reads: Embellished To Death

Embellished to Death (Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery, #3)Embellished to Death by Christina Freeburn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Embellished To Death is the third book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This mystery series. It is a well written and decently edited novel.

Faith volunteers to represent her grandmothers' scrap booking store as a vendor at a scrap booking conference. She is accompanied by her boyfriend and soon they witness a murder and become embroiled in a homicide investigation. This is a complicated and fast paced plot that kept me interested throughout the entire book.

Even though I had read the first two books in the story I found myself confused when faced with so many characters in the first chapters of this book. A bit more recapping of the characters and their history would have made Embellished to Death more of a standalone novel. As it is you would have to have read the entire series to fully understand the nuances in this book.

I enjoyed reading Embellished to Death and look forward to the next book in this series.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.


Good Reads: The Moment of Everything

The Moment of EverythingThe Moment of Everything by Shelly King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About halfway through reading the first chapter of The Moment of Everything I thought that this wasn't going to be the right kind of book for me. Then I found myself reaching the end of the book, late at night, with no idea of where the time had gone. It's hard to categorize this novel; it's not purely a romance. I guess I would call it a book about people that love books and about self realization.

The heroine, Maggie, has been laid off from her high tech job at a company that she helped to start. She spends her days at a used book store owned by her landlord. She finds a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover that is filled with hand written notes from two lovers. The book and it notes lead her on a path of self discovery; at times wonderful and often painful.

If you can get past it's slow start, I think any lover of books and romance will enjoy The Moment of Everything.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Good Reads: Personal

Personal (Jack Reacher, #19)Personal by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first Jack Reacher book I have ever read and despite it being the 19th book in the series I was able to enjoy it as a standalone. Personal is an extremely well written and professionally edited suspense novel.

Strong, well developed characters and a fast paced, well organized plot made reading Personal a joy. While Reacher sees plenty of action in this book; he also acts as a mentor to a less experience government agent. It was nice to see the female character treated as a professional, not a sex object.

Now I have the task of reading the other books in the Jack Reacher series, and if they are anywhere near as good as Personal, it will be a pleasure.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Some violence, but no sex acts.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Frugal Kitchen: Crockpot Orange Chicken

With school and sports having started up again I am finding myself using my crockpot much more often.  Here is an orange chicken recipe that has two variations; one for everyday and one for more special occasions.

INGREDIENTS

one or two skinless chicken thighs per person
 10 ounces orange juice
1/2 - 1 tsp salt or soy sauce
hot sauce or red pepper flakes to taste
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 tsp dried ginger or one inch of fresh ginger, finely minced
1/2 - 3/4 cup orange marmalade
2 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp water

SPECIAL OCCASION INSTRUCTIONS

Remove skin and bones from chicken thighs, then cut into 1 inch pieces.  Dredge in additional corn starch.  In a small amount of oil fry the chicken on all sides until browned.  Place in crock pot, then continue with general instructions.

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS

Place chicken thighs in crockpot.  In a small bowl mix orange juice, salt/soy sauce, hot sauce/red pepper, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger.  Pour over the chicken.  Cook on high for 3 or 4 hours; or on low for eight.  Remove bones from chicken thighs and pull apart with fork.  Mix corn starch and water together, then mix into juice.  Add orange marmalade and pulled chicken.  Cook for 1/2 hour until sauce is thickened.  Add the sections from an orange.  Serve over rice.

Place chicken and orange juice mixture in crockpot
Make sure that you adjust the seasonings before serving.  Add more hot sauce, salt/soy sauce or marmalade if necessary.


I hope you enjoy this easy recipe.

God bless,
Pam

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Frugal Clothing: M. Mac

It isn't often that I recommend a specific brand or store, but I sometimes (after years of trial) will tell you about a sure fire money saver.

For the last five years I have purchased cotton knit dresses from M. Mac.  They are located in California and their clothing is completely made in the United States.  The dresses I have purchased are of a very high quality, last for many years and hold up beautifully to machine washing and drying.

I still own the first dress I bought from them and it still looks as good as it did when it was new.  It is printed with M. Mac's most popular screen print, the rock fish pattern.

Rock Fish
I tend to buy their maxi dresses with short or long sleeves and a modest neckline.  Here's one of my favorite designs:



M. Mac has started selling their dresses through Amazon, so it is easy to order.  I will provide a link below.  Some people may think that a price of $60-70 (American dollars) is expensive, but for a dress of high quality that will last for years it's actually inexpensive.

I would rather buy one or two high quality items a year to add to my wardrobe than ten pieces from a big box store that will have to be thrown away after a year of washing.  I plan on sharing more of my frugal clothing finds in future posts.

God bless,
Pam