Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day


Bay Pines Cemetery Where My Parents Are Buried

Flags Placed At Each Grave By Scout Troops

God bless you and special prayers for those who have served and are serving their country.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Good Reads: Flora

FloraFlora by Gail Godwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Flora is a beautifully written, Southern, coming of age story. Ten year old Helen's father is leaving for the summer to work on the Manhatten Project. He hires Flora, his late wife's cousin, to take care of Helen in their isolated, crumbling, old house. A polio scare keeps the two quarantined together with little outside contact with others, except a grocery delivery man, house cleaner, and priest.

Helen is at the age of self discovery where children become aware that they are not the center of the universe and that their notions about adults are not always accurate. It is often a painful time of life and Flora is the uncertain adult that has been placed in position to guide Helen through the turmoil.

This sometimes dark book held me in thrall and I found it difficult to put down. It is definitely a book I can recommend.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Good Reads: The Lost Husband

The Lost Husband: A NovelThe Lost Husband: A Novel by Katherine Center
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Lost Husband is a sweet, poignant story of loss, love and hope. Add humor to the mix and it became a "Make Me Happy" book.

The Hero and heroine are working together on a goat farm in rural Texas. Guided by the wise woman that owns the farm, they make their way through life's cruelty to find a way to move forward together.

The secondary characters are well written and add interest to the story. If this place was real I would want to visit.

If you want an uplifting read and HEA I recommend this novel.

ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Frugal Swiffer Refill

Years ago a friend told me that she loved her Swiffer, but she hated buying the refills.  She began to save her used dryer sheets.  They fit her Swiffer and the residual fabric softener held onto the dust from her hardwood floors.

Since I don't use dryer sheets I began to look for washable alternatives to the traditional Swiffer sheets.  Recently I read about using the cheap chenille socks from the dollar store.  They stretch to fit over the Swiffer head, grab the dust well and are machine washable.  A great way to save money and environment!

God bless,

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Good Reads: Still Life In Brunswick Stew

Still Life in Brunswick StewStill Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the second book in a series of mysteries that take place in a small town in rural Georgia. The author is a strong writer and the editing was very clean.

I could easily visualize the town and surrounding countryside as described by the author. The secondary characters were varied, interesting and well developed. Even though there are a lot of characters the author wrote in a manner that made it easy to keep track of them and their actions.

In the first book of this series the main character and heroine, Cherry, was an endearing, inquisitive character. Unfortunately, several chapters into this book she became rather narcissistic and abrasive. One of the joys of reading these types of series is to see the characters grow and develop. In this book I felt as though Cherry had devolved rather than evolved.

Overall, this is a fun to read mystery novel. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

ARC provide by publisher via Netgalley.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

Tomorrow Saturday, May 11, 2013 the National Association of Letter Carriers is sponsoring the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.  Just leave canned or dried food by your mailbox and your letter carrier will pick the food up.  This food is donated to local food banks.

This is such an easy way to give to others.  So easy and so needed.

God bless,

Real Food and Our Children

Earlier this week I went to the grocery store and as I was picking out some watermelon I realized that there was not a seed in sight.  In fact, I have not seen a watermelon with seeds in the store for years.  Then I got to thinking that my daughter has seldom to never eaten watermelon with seeds and that is a tragedy.

First of all, seeds are the stuff of life.  While convenient to eat there is something that feels wrong about a plant that can not propagate itself without human intervention.  And what about the joys of watermelon seeds?  I remember the happiness of sitting on the porch steps with family and friends eating ice cold watermelon and spitting the seeds into the yard.  It was a great way to finish up a hot summer day of hard play.

Let's not forget the flavor of real food.  Food made from scratch with fresh ingredients tastes so much better than processed food.  How many children know what real mac n cheese tastes like?  A friend of mine made homemade mac n cheese for some children visiting her home.  The kids were horrified that there was no bright orange powdered cheese in their bowls.  So sad; both for the children and for my friend.

Why not spend a week eating only real food?  There are quick recipes available online and in cookbooks.  I like the Moosewood cookbooks for recipes using fresh ingredients.  Go to the farmers market or produce stand and remember the joys of fresh sweet corn, instead of the starchy taste of corn that has sat in the grocery store for a week.

We owe it to our children to let them experience the flavors of real food.  It saddens me that so many of them will spend their lives eating mediocre or even bad tasting food and never know the difference.

God bless,

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Good Reads: Imperfect Pairings

Imperfect PairingsImperfect Pairings by Jackie Townsend
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an intriguing story about love, family and wine. An evolving relationship between two very different types of people is at the center of this story. He is a traditional Italian with strong ties to his wine making family and their villa. She is a professional American with a cold, distant view of family and a disdain for the traditional.

After a marriage of convenience they find that their family histories are actually very similar. Slowly their notions of family and self are proven to be flawed and they are forced to rely on each other for their personal identity. It is a painful journey, but one that proves that family is important, but our families are not always those we are born into. A satisfying ending makes the reading journey worthwhile.

My one complaint is that the love between the two main characters is seldom demonstrated in any kind of physical closeness. There is an occasional "I love you", but that is said in a distant way. The emotional coldness between these characters jars against the passion shown by the secondary characters.

ARC provided via Netgalley.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Good Reads: Dead Anyway

Dead AnywayDead Anyway by Chris Knopf
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Arthur is a computer geek, analyst, and investigator happily married to a beautiful, business woman. His life is destroyed in the first chapter when a hired assassin attacks them in their home. The rest of the book is a fast moving mystery/romance in which Arthur uses his skills to find the man that ordered the hit on him and his wife.

I was fascinated by this novel, but I am also fascinated by investigative processes. Arthur is a compelling primary character and the story is filled with equally interesting secondary characters. The reading wasn't easy, the story is complex, but it sure was worth the effort. I enjoy a book that challenges my intellect.

This is the first book in a series of three (in keeping with the new fad of three book series). However, it can be read as a standalone as it does not end with a dangling cliffhanger (just a questioning look at the future). I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

Fair warning:  this book does contain violence involving guns.

ARC obtained via Netgalley.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Frugal Kitchen: Thai Yellow Curry

A really versatile dish that can be made with minimal fuss.

Yellow Curry Sauce

1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 small cooking onion, finely diced
1 2inch piece of ginger, finely diced
3-4 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. whole cumin seed
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 Tbsp. fish sauce
3/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 to 2 bay leaves
1  14 ounce can coconut milk
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. ketchup
1 sprig lemon grass or several dried pieces

Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl.

To make a traditional Thai chicken yellow curry:  Grease/oil a casserole dish,  lay bit size pieces of skinless, boneless chicken in the bottom.  Add two potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks, one sliced red or green bell pepper, and one cup cherry tomatoes.  Pour the yellow curry sauce over everything to cover.  Cover casserole and bake in 350 F oven for 40 minutes.  Sprinkle with diced basil or cilantro (optional) and serve over rice.

This recipe can be made with pork or made as a vegetarian dish.  I am not fond of cooked bell pepper, so substitute any vegetables that your family likes.  Notice that there is no added salt in this dish.   Enjoy!

God bless,

Good Reads: Board Stiff

Board Stiff (An Elliott Lisbon Mystery, #1)Board Stiff by Kendel Lynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elliot has worked for a charitable foundation since she graduated from college. She organizes events, soothes the disputes that pop up between board members and, on occasion, acts as their personal private detective. Her life is very comfortable with her close friends, co-workers and beach community.

When the chairman of the board of directors is accused of murdering another board member the founder of the foundation asks her to investigate. Much to her shock the new homicide detective in town is the man that deserted her and broke her heart twenty years ago. He is interested in starting a relationship with her, but not interested in helping her investigation. Then, on top of everything else, her close male friend decides that he wants more from her than just friendship.

The characters are fun and interesting, the mystery exciting and the community building well done in this Henery Press novel. I loved the heroine's strength, integrity and personality. The secondary characters were interesting and endearing.

This was a book that I didn't want to put down and I would highly recommend it.

ARC provided by Netgalley.