Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Eve Dinner Idea: Potato Bar

Christmas Eve dinner can be tricky, especially when you have guests dropping by and everyone needs to be at church services at different times.  Make the evening meal easy on yourself by fixing food ahead of time and setting up a buffet.

This is one of the times when I advocate paper plates, napkins and cups.  There are many pretty designs available and they are sturdier than in the past (insert painful memories of flimsy paper plates collapsing).

One Christmas Eve I set up a baked potato bar.  I baked the potatoes in the afternoon (wrapped in foil) and kept them hot in a warm oven.  In small bowl I had a selection of toppings such as butter, sour cream, crumbled bacon, grated cheeses, and chives.  It was easy and people enjoyed customizing their dinner.

A friend of mine talks about a party where there was a sweet potato bar.  Bake the sweet potatoes just as you would Idaho potatoes.  Some toppings would be butter, brown sugar, raisins, pecans and mini marshmallows.

In my kitchen I set up a drink bar with a variety of sodas, water and ice.  Keep a Sharpie pen nearby and write each person's name on their cup before you serve them.

Set up on a pretty decorated table.  Your guests can help themselves and you will be able to relax and enjoy yourself.  Have fun!

God bless,

P.S.  Keep potatoes warm on buffet table by placing them, still wrapped in foil, in an uncovered crock pot set on warm or low.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Good Reads: The Red Queen's Run

The Red Queen's RunThe Red Queen's Run by Bourne Morris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Red Queen's Run is one of the most intelligently written and emotionally gripping mystery novels that I have read this year. It starts with a chilling reference to a real murder that took place in academia and then smoothly moves us into the fictional heroine's fears regarding her own co-workers.

When the heroine, Red, receives a phone call telling her of the murder of her boss, the Dean of Journalism, at the university where she works, she is horrified. She is named as his temporary replacement, soon finds herself trying to identify his murderer and in a relationship with the investigating detective. The plot is fast paced and gripping.

I highly recommend The Red Queen's Run to any mystery lover. It ends with a satisfying HFN. I look forward to reading more from this author.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Good Reads: Shadow of Doubt

Shadow of DoubtShadow of Doubt by Nancy Cole Silverman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shadow of Doubt is the first book in the A Carol Child Mystery series. It is a well written and professionally edited mystery novel.

Carol Child is a middle aged, divorced, single mother, radio news reporter with an FBI agent boyfriend. She is on the edge of being fired by her much younger boss, so when her next door neighbor becomes a murder suspect, Carol jumps in to solve the murder and get an exclusive news report for her radio station.

The first novel in a series can be a bit boring while the author establishes the characters, their backgrounds and the plot for the reader. I found this to be true of Shadow of Doubt, but once the background was established the plot became fast paced and interesting.

While a HFN was established at the ending the crime had not been completely solved which led to a very dangly cliffhanger. I look forward to reading future books in this series.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Frugal Kitchen: My Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries are BOGO (buy one get one) at most grocery stores now and will be even cheaper after Thanksgiving.  Am I the only person that runs to the grocery store on Black Friday?  One year I found fresh turkey on sale for 23 cents a pound.  Needless to say, we ate a large amount of home canned turkey that year!

Cranberry sauce was often served as an accompaniment to game meats or with rich dishes.  It's great over ice cream and whipped up in smoothies.  Here is a recipe for my favorite cranberry sauce.


1 bag fresh cranberries
1 orange
1/2 tsp. orange rind
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup white sugar

In a pot add the juice of one orange, 1/2 tsp. finely grated orange rind (use a micro grater/rasp) and cranberries.

Micro grater
Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  When the berries have all popped add sugar and salt, bring up to medium heat,  and stir frequently until thickened (about 5 minutes).

Berries starting to pop
Place in a canning jar or other container.  Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.  Will keep for about a week in refrigerator.  This recipe can be doubled, triple or even quadrupled.  Enjoy!

God bless and Happy Thanksgiving,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Frugal Gadgets: OXO Scrubber

I'm not usually a gadget lover, especially in the kitchen.  I prefer my tools to be multifunctional, but every once in a while I find a one use tool that make my life easier.

Cooking with cast iron pots and pans sometimes leaves me with a difficult clean up.  Just recently I read about a great scrubber by OXO that seems to be made for cleaning cast iron.  It's gentle enough to not ruin your pan's seasoned surface, but tough enough to scrub off stubborn cooked on food.

OXO is one of my favorite brands for kitchen tools because I have arthritis and this brand was originally developed for people with weak hands and problems gripping tools.

The bristles and scraper are plastic (nylon), but short and rigid.  Perfect for those difficult scrubbing jobs.  The handle is nice and thick to make it easy to grasp.  Not expensive either; I will put a link below, so you can see the price.

God bless,

Good Reads: No Test For The Wicked

No Test for the Wicked (Lexi Carmichael Mystery, #5)No Test for the Wicked by Julie Moffett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No Test For The Wicked is the fifth book in the Lexi Carmichael mystery/romance series. It is extremely well written and professionally edited.

High school wasn't good for Lexi, cyber investigator, the first time around and when she has to pose as a high school student to investigate hackers at a prestigious private school the second time isn't much better. Especially when the terrorists show up.

I love Lexi's character and watching my favorite nerd girl growing as a person. In fact, the funniest and loveliest moments in this book are when she is feeling her way through her interactions with others. I was a little disappointed at the lack of appearance of some of the secondary characters. The break with Finn has been glossed over in the last two books, which really doesn't fit in with his Lexi obsessed and strong willed character in earlier books.

The plot was suspense filled and fast paced. It was a believable scenario and I love how it paralleled current events. The ending was poignant, but filled with hope, so I guess I would qualify it as a HFN.

I am a major Lexi Carmichael fan girl and I highly recommend this book and series.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Good Reads: Death By Blue Water

Death by Blue Water. A Hayden Kent MysteryDeath by Blue Water. A Hayden Kent Mystery by Kait Carson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Death By Blue Water is the first novel in the Hayden Kent Mystery series. It is a well written and professionally edited mystery novel.

Hayden, a paralegal and frequent diver, wakes up one morning after nursing a migraine, soaking wet, in her bathing suit, at a marina and not remembering anything from the night before. Soon she finds herself the main suspect in a murder. Since law enforcement doesn't believe her story she sets off to investigate the murder and clear herself.

The plot was original and interesting and the character development was good, but what I liked best about Death By Blue Water was the author's ability to make each scene come alive. I could easily visualize the diving scenes, almost feeling as though I was there.

The only problem I had was that Hayden came off as being a bit unstable and, sometimes, not that bright. It was hard for me to view her as a competent amateur detective.

I recommend Death By Blue Water, especially if you like heroines that are amateur investigators. The book ends with a HFN.

ARC provided by Henery Press via Netgalley.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Frugal Kitchen: Goulash

This is a midwestern favorite; so easy and economical.


1 lb. ground meat, I prefer beef
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 onion, diced
2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, finely diced
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup macaroni
1Tbsp. olive oil

Brown the ground beef in a heavy pot, use oil if your beef is lean.  Add diced onion and garlic; cook until transparent. At this point you can move ingredients to a crock pot/slow cooker.

  Stir in canned tomatoes, sauce, seasonings and water.  Cook covered on low for 1/2 hour, then add macaroni and cook covered for 20 minutes.  If using a crock pot cook on low all day, then add macaroni and cook until done.

This is a great cold weather, comfort food.  The recipe feed four regular eaters or three big eaters.  It doubles and triples well.  Enjoy!

God bless,

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Good Reads: The Job

The Job (Fox and O'Hare, #3)The Job by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Job is the third book in the Fox and O'Hare series written by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. Both of them are experienced writers and their skill shines in this relatively new series.

Nick Fox, the Hero, is a legendary thief and con man that escaped capture until he met FBI agent Kate O'Hare. Due to a secret agreement with the government they are now partners in investigating and arresting the baddest of the bad. In this book they take on a drug cartel leader and his psychotic body guard. The action is fast and the plot complicated and fascinating.

Both of the main characters are well developed and easy to like and identify with. There is a host of great secondary characters, but Kate's dad, an ex Navy intelligence officer, is my favorite. I laughed like crazy as he described the intelligence skills and self defense he is teaching to his grandchildren.

I am thoroughly enjoying this series and, while The Job could be read as a standalone, I think it is best to read the entire series in order. It ends with a satisfying HFN.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Good Read: Fatal Brushstroke

Fatal Brushstroke (Aurora Anderson Mystery #1)Fatal Brushstroke by Sybil Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fatal Brushstroke is the first book in the Aurora Anderson mystery series. It is adequately written and professionally edited.

The plot is interesting and fast paced, but a bit disorganized. Information and events in the story were presented in a way that made me feel as though I had missed their introduction. I went back to reread a few sections hoping to find some reason for a new event thinking that I had overlooked something.

The characters were varied and most were very appealing. The main character, Rory, had an interesting backstory which I would have loved to have read more about. In the first half of the book I had a problem empathizing with Rory and her problems because she continually lied to the police and her behavior was so erratic. I finally warmed up to her towards the end of the story.

Overall, Fatal Brushstroke was an easy, fun read. It can be read as a standalone, but I look forward to reading more of this series.

ARC provided by Henery Press via Netgalley.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Good Reads: The Bullet Catch

The Bullet Catch (An Eli Marks Mystery #2)The Bullet Catch by John Gaspard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Bullet Catch is the second book in the Eli Marks Mystery series. It is well written and professionally edited.

Eli has been cast adrift, with his girlfriend asking for a "break" , his fear of heights growing and dealing with his ex wife and her new, homicide detective husband. He is asked to work on a film about a magician killed while performing the Bullet Catch, a particularly dangerous magic trick. Soon he finds himself embroiled in a homicide investigation or rather several homicides, as people around him keep being murdered.

The plot is interesting and filled with a variety of secondary characters. But I think my real love in this series is the main character, Eli. He is a sort of Everyman, just a nice man trying to live his life well. It is easy to identify with him and cheer him on while he deals with life's verities.

I highly recommend The Bullet Catch. It can be read as a standalone, but it is more fun to read the series. It ends with a satisfying HFN.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What Do Bread Ties Tell Us

Have you ever wondered why bread ties are different colors.?  Basically, they tell the day of the week the bread was baked.

Now you can look for the freshest loaf of bread on the grocery shelves when you are shopping.  It's almost too simple!

God bless,

Your Vote Counts

In the United States we have a wonderful privilege that men and women have died for:  We get to vote for our leaders.  Unfortunately, except for presidential elections, we are also notorious for our low voter turnout.

Invoke your right to vote, be a good example to your children and earn your right to critisize our elected officials (because if you didn't vote I don't want to hear a peep from you).   See you at the polls on Tuesday.

God bless,

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Frugal Kitchen: Super Easy Beef and Noodles

This recipe is so easy it's embarrassing.  It serves four to six people and can be done in the crockpot.


1 lb. of beef stew meat
1 Tbsp. oil
1 can beef consommé
1 can French onion soup
1/2 small package of baby carrots
salt and pepper to taste
1 heaping Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. water
1 package egg noodles.

In a heavy pot add your oil and meat; brown meat slightly.  Add consomm√©, French onion soup and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then cover and turn down to a simmer.  Cook this for at least two hours.  Mix cornstarch and water, then add to broth and throw in the carrots.  Taste for salt.  Cook on simmer for 1/2 hour.  Prepare egg noodles according to directions.  Serve beef mixture over noodles.


God bless,

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Good Reads: Double Strike

Double Strike (Davis Way #3)Double Strike by Gretchen Archer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Double Strike is the third book in the Davis Way series. It is a very well written and professionally edited mystery/crime/humor/romance novel. It can be read as a standalone, but it will be easier to understand the plot nuances if you read the series in order.

Davis is still working undercover security at a casino and occasionally acting as the casino manager's wife's double. The security team finds themselves suspicious of a new casino employee that may be laundering money for drug dealers. Davis finds her marriage delayed by work and the small fact that she is still married to her ex ex husband. This plot was fast paced, fun and filled with social media. #NeverADullMoment

I highly recommend Double Strike and I look forward to reading more books in this series ( I would love to see Bianca get treated the way she deserves).

ARC provided by Henery Press via Netgalley.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Frugal Kitchen - Moroccan Chicken

At least once a week I try to expand my horizons and cook an ethnic dish.  You can't really understand a country until you understand it's food.  Last week I made a trip back to my youth by making a Moroccan chicken dish.  I lived in Morocco for a year when I was very young and I don't remember much about it, except the stories my mom told about when we were there.


2 lemons, one cut into 8 wedges and one squeezed to produce 2 Tbsp. juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, halved and sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. cumin, ground
1 tsp. cinnamon, ground
1 tsp. dried ground ginger or 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 cups chicken stock
chicken thighs and legs, enough to feed your family, skinless
1/2 cup green olives, pitted
salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat.  Add onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook until lightly browned; add garlic and spices.  Stir quickly, then add stock.  When it begins to boil add lightly salted and peppered chicken to skillet.  Add lemon wedges, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, turn the chicken once or twice during cooking time.

Add olives and lemon juice, then cook uncovered on high heat until sauce thickens (you may need to add 1 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp. cold water).  Taste and adjust salt and pepper.  Serve over rice or starch of your choice.

This dish can be cooked in the crockpot after browning the onions.  It is an easy, flavorful dish.  I think of it as Moroccan comfort food.

God bless,

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Good Reads: Finding Sky

Finding Sky (Nicki Valentine Mysteries, #1)Finding Sky by Susan O'Brien
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Finding Sky is the first book in the Nicki Valentine Mystery series. It is a decently written and professionally edited novel.

Nicki is a widow, stay at home mother of two young children, has a degree in forensic psychology and is attending school to become a private investigator. Her dearest friend has been chosen to adopt a child by the unborn child's birth mother, but the teenaged pregnant girl has disappeared. Nicki agrees to find the girl, which puts her in the sights of a violent gang. While this plot definitely needs the reader to suspend their disbelief; it is original and fast paced.

Unfortunately, I found it difficult to connect with Nicki. Her thoughts seemed to bounce from subject to subject as though they were on speed. It was confusing and irritating. Top it off with her food snobbery and her obsession with sunscreen, which she shared with the reader repeatedly, and I was tired of her. I would have enjoyed reading more about her past and more thorough character development to help me identify with her.

I think that Finding Sky is a fast, easy and light read that most readers would enjoy. There is a small amount of romance entertained with the mystery. It ends with a satisfying HFN.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Good Reads: Dang Near Dead

Dang Near Dead (Aggie Mundeen Mystery, #2)Dang Near Dead by Nancy G. West
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dang Near Dead is the second book in the Aggie Mundeen Mysery series. It is a decently written and professionally edited murder mystery.

I was put off by the first half of this book. A large number of characters are thrown at the reader, references are made to the first book without any explanation, and the plot seems erratic and disorganized. The heroine, Aggie, comes off as irrational and, frankly, not very bright.

Somewhere between 50% and 70% the story finally became more appealing and the reader is finally able to keep up with the plot.

Due to the lack of recapping the first book I would say that Dang Near Dead is not a standalone novel. It must be read after the first book to understand the characters and plot. It ends with a HFN with a tiny bit of cliffhanger at the end.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

The Frugal Kitchen: Sauerkraut and Sausage

Some people love sauerkraut and some people hate it.  There doesn't seem to be much of a middle road when it comes to sauerkraut.  I personally love it, but I have always been fond of sour tastes.  Here is my sauerkraut recipe that seems to appeal to most people.


1 jar mild flavored sauerkraut
1 package of sausage such as kielbasa, cut in bit sized pieces
1 large apple or 2 smaller apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 or 2 slices bacon
1 onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 or 2 Tbsps. of brown sugar
1/2 tsp. dried fennel seeds

My favorite kraut
Fully cook bacon in pan, put aside and keep about 1 Tbsp. of dripping in pan.

 Thinly slice onion and brown in drippings.

 Pour in drained sauerkraut, sausage, apple, and crumbled bacon.  Add 1 Tbsp. brown sugar and fennel.

Reduce heat to a simmer and cover.  Simmer for about two hours.

Universal lids fit many sizes of pans
I forgot to take a photo of the finished dish, but the apples will have broken down and all the flavors melded.  Taste kraut; if it is too sour try adding another tablespoon of brown sugar.  This dish can be easily put together and cooked in a crockpot.

If you can't find the mild new kraut, rinse your kraut with water, then press out all the liquid with your hands.  This should remove some of the sourness.


God bless,

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Good Reads: Asian Pickles

Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and BeyondAsian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and Beyond by Karen Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How lovely to find an author celebrating something I absolutely love, Asian pickles. I frequently cook East Asian and Indian dishes and now, after reading Asian Pickles, I will be making the pickles to accompany those dishes.

Asian Pickles is a well written and well edited cookbook. It is written in a lively way that encouraged me to read it from beginning to end. The recipes are clearly written and use fairly easy to obtain ingredients. If you don't have an Asian market nearby the author provides online sources for ingredients.

I am looking forward to reading and using the other books written by Karen Solomon. I highly recommend Asian Pickles.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Good Reads: The Secret Place

The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #5)The Secret Place by Tana French
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The fifth book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, The Secret Place is a beautifully written and professionally edited murder mystery novel. Even though it is part of a series it reads as a standalone.

Two rather mismatched detectives find themselves investigating a cold murder case together. Taking place at an Irish Catholic boarding school filled with rather frightening teenage girl suspects, this novel had me captivated and kept me guessing from beginning to end.

This isn't a comfortable book to read, especially if you have a teenage daughter. The sometimes viciousness of children, teenage peer pressure, the strength of young friendships and the frailty of the same friendships is disturbing.

I loved The Secret Place and I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

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,

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.


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


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,

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.


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


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.


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,

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,

Thursday, August 14, 2014

John C. Campbell Folk School Part II

After our week at the folk school we had finished quite a few water color paintings.  We had learned new techniques and were allowed to experiment to our hearts' content.  On the last day there is a get together (show) to allow all of the classes to show off their work.

My birch trees

Other watercolors
Here are some selections from other classes:

Wood carving


Wood turning



Stained glass

Bead making


I didn't get photos of boat making, country cooking and nature photography.  The cooking class served refreshments for the show and nature photography put on a slide show.

Overall, this was a fun trip for my daughter and I.  She's not an extremely social person, but she made some friends and had some new experiences.  The Intergenerational week at the folk school is something I can see us doing again.

God bless,