Monday, December 26, 2011


I had planned on making a turkey or turkey breast for Christmas but after seeing the prices and looking at my checkbook balance I decided to use the ham I bought at Aldi's a couple weeks ago.  I had been shopping at Aldi's when I noticed a sign taped to the ham freezer section saying $5 off all shank and butt hams.  As the ham was less then $10 to begin with, the $5 mark down put it below $5, which made it an even better buy.   Yes, these hams have more fat on them then spiral cuts but it adds flavor during cooking and the dogs love the treats which are good for their dry skin this time a year.  I hadn't planned to use the ham for Christmas but figured we'd cut it up for sandwiches and soups.  It was a very fine choice for our meal.  This ham was so moist and had so much flavor it was hard to stop eating.  Since it was just the two of us I served it with scalloped potatoes and a salad.  Matt fixed leftover slices with fried eggs this morning for breakfast and is already talking about me making some ham and bean soup.  This ham will easily break down into future meals costing less than $1 each.

My Christmas Baked Ham:

1 ham shank
1 cup apple cider
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cloves
1+ tbsp stone ground mustard

I used my cast iron dutch oven to bake this in and baked it with the cover on but you could put foil over a pan if you don't have a dutch oven or small roaster.  Put ham into pan.  Mix apple cider, maple syrup, brown sugar, ground cloves, and mustard together and pour over ham.  Cook for 1 hr. @ 350'.  Remove and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes and then slice.


* You could also stud the ham with cloves for additional flavor. 

*  Apple juice could be used instead of the apple cider. 

*  Here in Michigan Vernor's ginger ale is frequently used but any ginger ale could be substituted for a variation of this. 

*  Another variation would be using pineapple juice and tossing in pineapple chunks for a sweeter flavor.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Technicalal complications

I'm sorry for the lack of posts. Google doesn't want to work with Internet Explorer now so I have no access to my blog except from my phone.  Im working to remedy this. Thanks for your patience.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


 Last Saturday we went thrifting.  Knowing my son would soon be coming home on leave motivated us to finally get out and look for a bed for the spare room.  We went to a new thrift store and hit pay dirt as far as we were concerned.  Matt found this cute little wooden cardinal tealight holder originally marked 50c which rang up for 13c!!!  It's an adorable addition to my growing cardinal collection. 

We also picked up two more of the Harry Potter series, both hardbacks, for $10 each.  The books looked like they were in brand new condition.  I think we just need two more books to complete the entire collection.  Matt's been waiting for us to pick up book three so he could continue the series in the correct order so now he has reading material. 

I also found this beautiful headboard marked down to $9.99.  With a bit of cleaning up it looks very nice - not to masculine, not to feminine, and not to childish.  I apologize for the disorder in the picture.  Matt had been putting in the molding around the floor so we had pushed everything to the middle of the room.  It was fortune that we went thrifting because Wednesday my son informed me he'd be home the next day!  Wow, talk about very little warning.  Matt and I managed to pull the room together and he has a peaceful place now to rest and sleep.  Matt even managed to get our old tv brought in and hooked up the cable for him. 

On a serious note, I haven't posted regarding my oldest son being injured in Afghanistan as it was very personal for me and I was very emotional for a while.  About a month ago he was shot multiple times while on patrol.  He was extremely lucky and none of the shots caused any serious injury.  He's been in a hospital in Qatar since and wasn't sure they'd let him come home on leave.  Thankfully they did because mom really needed to see her son to make sure he was okay.  Creating a sanctuary for him was my labor of love and a way to focus my energies.  His Purple Heart Medal is beautiful BUT I wish he'd never gone through what he did to receive it.  I was one of the fortunate that when I got the call it was from my son and not a stranger.  My heart and prayers goes out to all those moms who aren't so lucky. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011


This post didn't go where I had planned.  I had planned on it being a description of the ball we attended last night in a positive light - but my thoughts took on darker notes and I decided to go with those thoughts. 

One of the great things about our area that I do like is that there's a yearly ball held in October.  It was started by a group of friends to celebrate the life of someone who'd died and who'd left them money to have a celebration for him.  Unfortunately few know the original history of the Ball.  In school I loved attending the proms each year.  The first year I attended a prom I was in 8th grade but my boyfriend who was a junior and asked me to attend.  The funny thing is I never attended my senior prom.  The Ball is like a prom for grownups and a lot more fun to say the least.  There's even an open bar which we never had at our high school proms.  It was a huge surprise that a friend came from out of state to attend and never told anybody she was coming. 

As great as the Ball has been, I'm wondering if it's not getting to large and will experience a slow death.  As typical in our society, everything needs to be bigger and better - but is it necessarily better?  When I first started attending the ball about 8 or 9 years ago there was 130 person capacity and it never sold out the first couple years I attended.  We were a bunch of friends having fun - there was an intimacy to the group.  Everybody knew most of the people or recognised them.  Then the organizers changed a bit and with the increased promotion and popularity of the the ball started selling out.  One couldn't wait until the night of the ball to buy tickets, you had to buy them in February when they went on sale to ensure you'd be able to attend or take a chance that somebody would be selling tickets prior to the ball.  The decision was made that the venue wasn't large enough and we had to move to another location and increase the capacity to 200 and then the following year to 300.  This year brought another change in venue with a 500 person capacity.  Tickets sold out in just three weeks.  This year also brought a change that the Ball was held inside a hotel instead of commuting people back and forth between.  Due to problems with the venue this year there's talk of another new venue next year and a huge price increase that have people already grumbling.

The intimacy of the original Ball has fast fading.  I no longer know most of the people attending.  Larger and larger groups of strangers are coming and a lot of them are young.  It's no longer about who has the best outfit but who has the biggest entourage with to vote them king or queen.  Those that wear costumes don't bother even dressing to the theme of the ball anymore. The theme this year was Alice in Wonderland and yet a zombie won as king over a mad hatter and a march hare.  Some spend outlandish amounts on costumes.  A friend of mine confided he'd spent $1500 this year on a custom made costume for the Ball.  It was absolutely beautiful version of the Johnny Depp's Alice's white queen - but seriously was it really worth $1500?  Granted he got his picture taken with a lot of people and if attention is what you want.....  Another friend also had a similar costume custom made and she was nominated for queen - she also lost out to a female zombie.  I'm part of the group that dresses like this is a formal ball and I wear a formal long dress for it.  I've also never spent more then $50 on a dress.  I'm in agreement with those that don't like the costuming because we feel this is a ball and not a costume party.  We use to brag about how cheap we got our dresses at garage sales and thrift stores - now people brag about how much they paid for custom ones.

Yes, I'm set in my ways and I don't like change for changes sake.  I'm starting to hear the grumblings though and can't help wonder.  Are the organizers starting to go too far in their attempt to make it bigger and bigger instead of allowing it to stay smaller and more intimate?  Does everybody that says they want a ticket really have to have one?  Do we really need people from other states attending?  Will people get hotel rooms but not buy tickets and just meet up in the rooms instead, which is what's happened to another event in our area. 

In all honesty, this ball felt like an ending.  Of what I'm not sure.  Possibly my morbid views are due to the fact we may not be here next year and it could very well have been my last Ball. The Ball has long since lost it's celebration aspect and has become a huge party and is now becoming a huge costume party. Maybe it will be easier for me that so I don't feel the loss of community so closely if we do in fact move.  It's always a sad thing though when a book you enjoyed so much comes to an end and you have to close the cover.  Whether or not there will be a sequel is unknown.

Monday, October 10, 2011


It has been very busy of late.  We just returned last Tuesday night from our trip to North Dakota.  We absolutely fell in love with the Fargo area.  Unfortunately we weren't able to see other areas of the state during this trip, but we're planning to return.  Our five days there were filled with activities though and we thoroughly enjoyed our little vacation.

By accident I discovered Viking Ship Park while checking out a map for area attractions so we ventured across the bridge to Moorhead, Minnesota, to check it out. Seriously, who could pass up checking out a Viking ship?  This mural is at the entrance of the center.  The ship has a wonderful story about it being built by a teacher from Minnesota who had initially planned the contruction of the ship, the Hjemkomst (Homecoming), and to sail it to Norway, the land of his grandparents (ie The Homecoming).  The design was based on ships the Viking would have sailed in approximately 700 AD.  Construction was planned to take three years but actually took ten years to finish.  He constructed it in an abandoned potato factory.  Unfortunately the man died of leukemia at the end of construction and wasn't able to see the completion of his dream.  His children promised they'd finish his dream for him and did in fact sail the ship to Norway after his death in 1982.  Incidentally, on it's way from Minnesota to New York through the Great Lakes the ship made a stop in Detroit and there's a letter with Coleman Young's signature on it displayed at the Center.   

The Stave church replica was later built and donated to the center in 1998.  It's a replica of the Hopperstad Stave Church in Vik, Norway, which was built in approximately 1000 AD.  The dragon  carvings on the trim of the roofs are clear indications of the Viking influence and a marriage between their pagan beliefs and the Christian beliefs starting to spread into Norway and other Viking areas.  The church from the side looks like a pagoda and there's a belief that the Vikings, probably from Denmark, made it to China and were influenced by the architecture there.  Our guide gave us a wonderful history lesson on the Vikings.  The carvings are unbelievable and completely done by hand.  The entrance to the church has panels that are heavily carved.  The stave shingles that give the name to the style of church are made using three cuts on the ends of each board.  There's a covered walkway around the entire church, sort of like a porch, where they would walk around the church meditating before they entered it.  It's very visual and our guide said that was intentional due to the fact that the priest and the people probably wouldn't have spoken the same language so the people would have only understood through the pictures.  Our guide was phenominal to say the least.  Below is a picture of the baptismal on the left and one of the carved beams in front of it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


 I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned how much I love shopping at Tractor Supply (TSC).  I absolutely hate going to malls in general, but love going to a Tractor Supply.  This spring when we were cleaning out the garage we discovered Tip's wading pool had cracked so we had to throw it out.  I'd gotten to the point I wasn't paying for another wading pool to have it crack and knew that Tractor Supply would have some type of container that Tip could cool off in without me having to constantly replace it.  To your left you'll see Tip in his new pool cooling off from our hot July weather.  If you look even closer you can see his tongue sticking out at us because nobody else can get in his pool with him.  This is a heavy rubber material that I guarantee is not going to crack or break.  I'm assuming it's some type of watering or feeding container.  For $29.99, it works wonderfully.  Tractor Supply always comes through for me.  Of course I picked up some other items while there including a new bird decoration for the flower beds.  Matt and I both lucked out and found a bunch of clothes on clearance.  There's a 12' windmill decoration I'd love to get to grow some type of vining plant on.

Tip overheats really easily and loves laying around in a tub or pool of water to stay cool.  If we're hiking and come to a stream he'll immediately lay down in whatever water he can find to cool off.  Some dogs like water and others don't.  Lacey is the exact opposite, she hates being submerged in water.  Tip is actually quite intelligent that he knows he'll cool off quicker if he lays down in water since it cools the stomach/chest area.  In the show/competition circuits, owners will frequently use various cold mats to help keep the dogs cool.  Our dogs never liked the mats and they were a pain to travel with so we quit using them.

One thing I've been asking Matt to do for me is to put in a new clothes line.  There was one behind the garage when I moved in but the poles were rusted.  The first time I tried to hang clothes on the line the poles bent and broke off.  This spring Matt bought me some new poles but due to the wet weather and other things never got them installed.  It took a while, but he never fails me and he finally got the poles put in and the rope strung.  I love hanging my laundry out, especially my sheets for the clean sunshine scent.  The lines typically hold at least two loads of laundry.  I had Matt install it on the opposite side of the yard across from our garage and next to the fence by the neighbor's garage for several reasons.  There's a blackberry tree on the fence line behind our garage and I didn't want to chance blackberry stains on the clothes, bird droppings from birds eating the blackberries, or blackberry mash on shoes behind tracked into the house.  If we decide to stay, the area behind the garage is the only section that doesn't have electrical/cable wires running overhead so I'd be able to put in a fire pit.  All very logical explanations I think.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I wanted to share a new electronic/digital coupon website I just found out about.  It's called Saving Star.  It's similar to Cellfire although it doesn't have as many coupons available as Cellfire does.  From what I've seen so far the coupons might be worth more then Cellfire's.  I just activated my account and loaded my shopping card info.  How many stores you can input varies depending on where you live.  There were only four stores available in my area and I have cards for two of those; Kroger and CVS.  I'm definitely going to be using the $1 off Skinny Cow Multi-Pack.  This is the first program I've seen that had Perrier and S. Pellegrino water coupons so those caught my eye.  In this hot weather mixing some fruit juice and sparkling water together is quite refreshing.

Some Coupons I activated:
$1.50 off California Pizza
$0.50 Dannon Greek Yogurt
$1.00/2 Juicy Juice All-Natural 100% Juice
$0.40 No Yolks noodles
$1.00 Skinny Cow Multi-Pack
$1.00 Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water
$1.00 S. Pellegrino or Acqua Panna

For those that aren't quite up on all the techie stuff, these are electronic coupons which are also called digital coupons.  I think electronic coupons are one of the best inventions ever.  I seriously dislike having to gather, cut, sort, organize and carry all those coupons around when I can scan my card or use one of the new electronic key tag programs and all my coupons come zipping off my bill without me carrying anything but my purse and the phone into the store.  Yes, these programs take some time initially to open accounts and then upload new coupons on a regular basis but I think overall they take a lot less time and lack the headache factor.

Kroger has their electronic coupons on their website that you can upload to your card after opening an account.  As I mentioned, Cellfire is another program that is very popular and also works with the Kroger card.  P&G has a website that has electronic coupons you can upload to various store cards including Kroger's. 

For those that have Smartphones, you can do searches to find out what programs are available for your model.  I plan on trying GeoQpons for Blackberrys.   It works off GPS on your phone and gives you coupons for stores and restaurants within 10 miles of where you are.  You're out shopping and realize you want to go to Bed, Bath & Beyond and realize you forgot your coupon at home.  You use one of these types of programs and they'll pull coupons available for use at the stores located with 10 miles of where your current location is at.  Another use would be that you and the girls are out and about and decide you'd like to stop for some lunch but being frugal you'd like to use a coupon - utilize the program and it will list restaurants within the area and the coupons for each.  Once you get to the restaurant you just show the waitperson the coupon on your phone and you're set.

Advantages are you always have your coupons with you without carrying a binder or organizer of any sort.  Another advantage is you don't have to stand in line and scan coupons while people get irritated behind you - they come off within seconds of your scanning the card allowing for a quicker checkout.  It also allows you to use self scanners at stores that don't allow coupons in the self scanner lines.  They you to accumulate coupons without buying newspapers or magazines thereby saving money unless you really read the Sunday newspaper (does anybody do that any more?).  It also saves money over online coupon programs because you don't have to print them so you save on paper and ink.  Most of these programs can be accessed via Smartphones so if you get to the store and realize that you forgot to update your coupons you can always login on your phone and update your coupons before shopping and they should be available by the time you're done shopping (some programs say up to one hour).  Not like that's every happened to me before, I'm just saying. 

There are disadvantages including the number of stores that use electronic coupons.  If your regular store doesn't have a card then it is more difficult to use them, but not impossible.  There are programs for smartphones from what I understand that will overcome this issue.  The variety of coupons availabe can be a disadvantage.  I think the more people utilize these programs the more they will become available and the selection will expand also.

I would love to hear about other sites that have electronic coupons.  For those that have Smartphones I would love to hear how you utilize them to save money on groceries.  Matt is forever telling me I need to stop using my phone for everything else but what it's for - talking - but I'm all for using electronics, including my phone, for everything that I can.

Monday, July 11, 2011


This weekend was our first harvest out of the garden - cucumbers!  To be more specific, pickling cukes.  I wasn't ready yet so I need to get an order in for pickling supplies ASAP.  I've decided to try the Pickl' It system.  It's a bit expensive but I like the design better then cheaper versions that were recommended.  The use of airlocks with the Pickl' It system is what really drew me.  I'll post how I like them.  Once I get the supplies I won't have to worry about this next year.  Nonetheless, I sliced these beauties and put them in a mason jar with a bit of salt, red wine vinegar, and a touch of water for a mild brine.  They made for a mighty tasty snack when I got home this afternoon.  I have some beautiful dill growing in the garden that Matt jokingly called the dill tree this weekend.

The pickles sort of exploded in size very quickly due to the amount of rain we had.  We had bought trellises two weeks ago but were not able to get them up until Sunday.  I wove the vines through the lattice and also used Velcro tape to support them.  Isn't this baby cuke absolutely adorable!  I did decide to cut a couple vines off after seeing how many there were.  Matt and I can only eat so many cucumbers and pickles.  I'm sure we'll still have an abundance of them but they make great gifts right?  I still have a couple jars of bread and butter pickles on hand from last year so I'm debating on whether or not to do another batch this year.  I definitely want to make dill pickles.  A friend of Matt's gave us some dried Thai chilies last year and I plan to use those to make spicy pickles.

We bought two trellises and screwed them directly to the raised beds and then screwed them together for more support.  I seriously doubt a storm will blow these babies over and considering the storm that went through today I think that was proven out.  These are the trellises that I'm using to grow my cucumber vines up so they don't sprawl into the yard or strangle the tomatoes.  There are two broccoli plants in the front of the picture that were from our broccoli last year reseeding itself.  It was a nice surprise when I found it growing.  This is also my lettuce bed which is just getting started. 

It won't be long before I'll be simmering up pots of marinara sauce.  Aren't these baby tomatoes adorable!  I can't wait to make them into sauce.  There are 9 tomato plants in one bed plus 3 plants in the right bed so I will have plenty of tomatoes and hopefully don't lose as many as we did last year to weather damage.  Eight of the tomato plants are Roma's, which make excellent sauce.  I bought Matt one lone grape tomato plant so he can use it for salads and to snack on as desired.  I'm sure it will out produce even his appetite though.

My oregano has gone wild!  It takes up almost the entire front of the bed now.  I have a cilantro plant next to it.  As soon as the tomatoes ripen I think some homemade salsa will be in order.  I have two basil plants growing so I think we'll be okay for sauce making this year. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I'm sure I'm not the only mother alive who has wondered if anything she does or says gets through to her kids, especially in regards to food.  I'm a serious foodie and that my kids don't like huge amounts of food boggles my mind.  You'd never know it but these kids once ate anything and everything. 

Years ago mine decided to go on a seafood strike that hasn't ended ...... or so I thought.  Seriously, how do kids that eat tuna salad sandwiches and pasta salad with tuna suddenly decide they don't like it?  I've asked myself this repeatedly over the years since this began.  Fishsticks were common food for them, served with tartar sauce of course, that suddenly was no longer acceptable food to be served.  No more tuna salad and no more pasta salad with tuna added.  No more mac-n-cheese with tuna and mushroom soup either.  Isn't that a childhood staple? 

I've lived with this silliness for years and basically ate fish only when we went out to eat because it was easier then fixing fish for myself and having them gripe because I dared to have fish/seafood anywhere around them.  I should mention that the pickiest eater would be my youngest son.  He is the child that recently told me that Burger King as a gourmet restaurant because they have mushrooms on the menu.

So jump forward probably 15 years into this seafood/fish strike and my youngest son (now 19) and I are walking through Costco the other night and they have the typical food vendors out with samples.  I stopped to try a crunchy fish sample and noticed my son had also grabbed one.  Being the nice mom I am, I quickly informed him that it was fish - to which I got the teenage universal "I know" reply as he continued to eat it.  He knows AND he's eating it????  As we continue to walk he proceeds to inform me (while I'm still in stunned silence) that the sample wasn't too bad, that he has been trying different types of fish and now "likes" some types!!  My son eating fish and liking it!  Has somebody kidnapped and replaced him with an alien? 

As we continue walking he then proceeds to tell me that he's been trying different types and proceeds to start a foodie discussion, granted a very basic one, on how he prefers his fish cooked.  Egads!  I'm sure some of this interest stems from the fact that he's being trained as a cook at the restaurant he works at but I can't help but wonder if maybe something I've said and/or cooked hasn't finally helped him expand his foodie wings after all these years especially since I know that the restaurant doesn't serve many varieties other than fish-n-chips.  It does a mommy's heart good to think something has gotten through though.  My baby is growing up.  Best of all, I can start cooking fish whenever I want instead of just on the days he's working and isn't home for supper. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I will admit I have a Swiffer mop and two dusters.  Yes I have two, the original one didn't have an extension handle on it and I desperately need an extension being only 5'4" and shall we say vertically challenged at times.  I love certain aspects of the Swiffer products, but I absolutely hate the cost of buying all the pad refills and then throwing them away.  It just goes against that strong frugal streak I have.  Recently I started looking into re-usable options and there are surprisingly quite a few.  You can sew, knit, or crochet replacements depending on your area of interest or ability.  I will mention here that I do have reusable covers that I have bought for other models of mops but the cost to purchase more was stretching my frugality too far.  I have been known to break down and use old washcloths in a pinch.

I found several crocheted and knitted patterns on Ralvery and decided to make a crocheted version.  I bought supplies almost two months ago for this project and just got to it Saturday.  The cotton yarn was leftover from a dishcloth yarn buying spree and the terry/chenille was a new purchase.  While Matt was working Saturday morning I decided to watch a couple chic flicks on Netflix and crochet a Swiffer cover.  The pattern I chose can be used either as a dust mop or as a mop.  It ended up pretty thick so the next time I will use only one skein of yarn instead of two.  I used a cotton Peaches and Cream and a terry/chenille type yarn.  I believe I worked this with a size 8 hook.  The pattern I loosely followed was called Reversible Swiffer Sock.  It took me a total of about four hours to work, so I got to watch two chic flicks.  In my defense I will state I was also doing laundry so I wasn't being total lazy.  I had figured one skein of each should be plenty, but of course I was wrong and ran out of both.  I did have a partial skein of the cotton but ended up changing the terry/chenille to another yarn and color.  The resulting cover isn't necessarily pretty but it is quite functional. 

Now my next project will be re-usable covers for the dusters!  Hopefully Matt will have a couple Saturdays he'll be working so I can knock those out along with a chic flick or two.


Matt decided two weekends ago that him and I needed a date day.  Other then going out to eat of late there hasn't been much we have wanted to do.  We haven't been interested in seeing any movies of late, at least not until Harry Potter comes out.  My friends' band hasn't  been playing locally so we haven't been able to hang out with them.  So Matt decided it was time to remedy the fact that I have never been to Greenfield Village or to the Henry Ford Museum.  Our focus for this trip was just to visit the Village.  It was a beautiful day out with temperatures in the low 70's.  Great weather for a lot of walking because this place is HUGE.  The tickets are a bit pricey at $22 pp for adults, but we used a coupon out of the Entertainment Book that saved us roughly $5.50 a ticket.  We did end up turning the tickets in for credit towards a membership before we left.  If you live close, the memberships are definitely the best bargains and include admission to the Village as well as the museum and also including free parking and discounts in the stores and IMAX theater.

Our first stop was to the working farm.  This was probably my favorite section of the Village.  The farm was divided into the house, barn, pens/pasture and garden areas.  The workers were just finishing up with lunch in the house and appeared to enjoying sitting back and chatted with visitors.  We discussed the types of crops and livestock they raised.  They raise various heritage breeds.  I'd heard of heritage seeds for gardening but found it interesting that people are now trying to bring back older breeds of livestock.  The heritage sheep they are raising are wrinkled merino sheep.  I've knitted countless merino wool socks so I knew about merino sheep, but never knew there was an older breed that had wrinkles all over their bodies.  The wrinkles have been bred out of them to make it easier to sheer them but are now being bred back into them.  Like heritage vegetables, heritage breeds of animals are often more disease resistant and hardier then their modern day counterparts.  They also raise chickens, turkeys, and pigs.  There was a woman in the family room of the house and her and I discussed battenburg lace, tatting, and knitting.  I found it amusing when she told me I should come work there.  Of course it might have to do with my explaining what tatting was to her since she'd never heard of it.

We spent the day enjoying various areas of the Village.  We especially enjoyed watching the glassblowers.  I was disappointed that they didn't have more of a demonstration with the weavers.  There was no spinning of the wool which surprised me although they had a carding shop.  The carding shop didn't have any wool so they weren't able to do any demonstrations of the carding equipment either.  The Thomas Edison Menlo Laboratory was another interesting stop that took us a while to get through.  I'm not sure the size of the Village but in the 5+ hours we were there we got roughly only about 2/3 of the way through the Village.  I had hoped to take tea in the Tea Shoppe but we never got to that section.  There was a tavern of sorts where they had beer, hard cider, and home style sodas and I can highly recommend both the cream soda and the hard cider.  We took a brief snack break and enjoyed watching the birds swoop into the building hunting pretzels and such on the ground.  The stores throughout the Village were great to browse in.  They sell various items including some items that are made in the Village like the pottery, glass and woven fabric.

I'm looking forward to going back and finishing our visit of the Village as well as exploring the museum.  Matt says they decorate the Village for Halloween so our plans are to visit again and see it decked out for my favorite holiday and also for Christmas.  There are events nearly weekly.  The Local Roots Blues, Brews & Ales is scheduled for August. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


About two weeks ago I was checking out my Facebook page when I noticed the Fix-It and Forget-It blog page had a Crockpot Apple Pie recipe posted.  As I had been thinking earlier in the day that apple pie sounded good this was perfect timing for the recipe to pop up, not to mention the 92' temps we were having.  I know if I didn't have to turn an oven on to bake we would be having a lot more apple pies in our home.

 I modified the original recipe, but if you'd like their recipe just go to  They also posted a tutorial on how to put the pie crust into the crockpot.  I used a smaller crockpot, I think it's a 1.5 quart, then they did so my portions are different.  I also didn't have any carmels in the house so I made a plain apple pie.  This has been a HUGE hit with Matt and my son and I've already had it requested twice since I made it.  It's great to put into the crockpot when I get home and serve up after supper.  The next time I make this I plan on trying it with sliced apples instead of apple pie filling. 


1 refridgerator pie crust (Pilsbury)
1 can of apple pie filling

Lay out the pie crust on a board.  Cut about 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottom of the crust off (keep).  Now slice the larger piece in half.  Place the pieces so that approximately 1-1/2" to 2" of the crust is going up the side of the crockpot.  Use your finger to splice the sections together so the entire bottom is covered.  Pour in apple pie filling.  Sprinkle cinnamon over the top to taste.  Take the small piece of pie crust and cut it into 1/2" lengths.  Use these strips to make a lattice style crust on top of the pie filling.  Cook on high for approximately 3 hours.  Serve with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream.  The picture below is prior to cooking it. 


We've had a common problem with older homes, a bathtub that no matter how much you scrub or what you use just doesn't look clean.  The previous owner had put rubber decals on the bottom of the tub and they'd etched themselves into the enamel.  Matt had gotten the actual decals scraped off but they'd left major etching and glue that would not come off.  In the picture on the left you can see how badly these were etched into the bottom of the tub.  The picture shows just a small area but the whole tub bottom looked like this.  i apologize that the pictures aren't better but the lighting in the bathroom isn't that great.  Matt had tried everything he could think of to get the glue and the etching off the tub.  Chemicals didn't work.  Wet sanding didn't work.  Someone suggested Lysol toilet cleaner with bleach and that didn't work either.  We had basically come to the conclusion that we had two possible remedies - replace the tub, which we couldn't afford at the moment, or reglazing the tub, which we weren't sure would work. I love to take baths but this had caused me to curtail my bath taking because the tub just looked gross to be honest.

About a month or so ago on a  Mary Jane's Farm chat group someone posted that they bought old claw foot tubs and then used citric acid to clean them up.  She said to dissolve 1/2 cup of citric acid in hot water and let sit overnight.  Sounded way to easy.  I've toyed with trying it just to test it but doubted it would work.  We went to the brewery store Saturday and I noticed they had large bags of citric acid so I thought what the heck I'll give it a try.  I filled the tub Saturday afternoon with hot water and dissolved 3/4 cup of the citric acid in the running water.  We let it sit for over 24 hours.  Looking at it the next day we both concluded it was one of those myths and hadn't worked.  How wrong we were.  After we drained the tub, Matt for some reason decided to see if it had smoothed the bottom of the tub at all and ran his fingers over the bottom.  What he discovered was a layer on top of the enamel that smeared.  He then scrubbed the tub with Comet and a scrubbie leaving us nothing less then shocked at the wonderfully clean and nearly totally unetched tub.  The picture on the right is after the treatment.  Unfortunately there's a lot of shadowing from where I'm standing when I took the picture but you can clearly see there's no flower motif etched into the bottom any longer.  After the tub dried we did notice very faint etching still visible in a couple spots but we think we can probably get that cleared up with one more citric acid treatment if we decide to bother.  Pretty impressive tub save for about $2 worth of citric acid.  I had a very long bath Sunday night in my wonderful looking bathtub and I foresee a lot more baths in my future.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Sunday was a productive day for us.  Matt was able to work on his truck and repair some issues with it.  We did a Home Depot run and picked up some more caulking for the exterior of the house to prepare it for painting later this summer.  I also picked up some tomato cages and some plant supports (for my mums) as well as a couple packets of lettuce seed.  I installed the tomato cages and mum supports and even managed to get the living room cleaned, swept, and mopped.  Considering how fatigued I've been from the bronchitis, this was a major victory for me.

My poppies have continued to burst into bloom and are beautiful.  I would love to have a huge section of them just like my grandmother did.  Our clematis has also burst into bloom.  Matt's sisters got this clematis for him several years ago and we thought it had pretty well died when I moved in but it has come around nicely with fertilizing and regular watering.  It's strange that the clematis for the past two years has bloomed in September or October, fairly late in the season we thought, and this year it bloomed in June.  I've had to cut back my chives, oregano, and thyme already. 

Last night Matt was in a pasta and cheese mood so I made my cheeseburger mac and green beans for supper.  It was extremely tasty and hit the spot for both of us.  If you don't have tomato soup on hand you could use tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce for this too.  If you don't have stewed tomatoes they can be omitted.  This is a pretty versatile recipe.  Leave the cheese out and you have beef-a-roni.  Use chili powder instead of Italian seasoning and you get chili mac.  This recipe is GREAT with garlic bread to sop up any sauce.


1# hamburger
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 oz macaroni, cooked
2 cans tomato soup
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 -3 tsp Italian seasoning

Put water on to cook macaroni.  Fry hamburger with onion until almost done and add garlic.  Add Worcestershire sauce, stewed tomatoes, tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings.  Reduce to low and let simmer while macaroni cooks.  Break up stewed tomatoes as it simmers.  Drain macaroni and add to hamburger mixture.  Add cheese and stir.  Simmer until cheese melts.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


The pups and I had our first herding lesson yesterday.  We all enjoyed the afternoon outdoors and the pups got some much needed exercise.  This is something I have wanted to do for years.  My daughter and I both spoke frequently of enrolling the dogs while she was showing but it just never got worked into the schedule. 

Lacey, who we thought would be the better herder instinctively, is over focused and we will have to work to get her to see the herd better versus a single sheep.  This is a characteristic that has evolved from her herding Tip while he plays ball.  If we had gotten her into classes earlier this trait probably wouldn't have developed with her.  Our trainer uses a rake instead of a shepherd hook to direct the dog's direction as she feels it's easier for a newer dog to see and to get their attention then a thinner shepherd's hook would be, which makes sense to me.  I was concerned about how Lacey would react to the rake due to her history of abuse and how she still reacts to brooms in the house.  It was something I should not of worried about.  She barely acknowledged it even when we touched her with it.  I was very proud of my girl.

Tip definitely surprised us as he has never exhibited the strong herding drive like Lacey has.  He instinctively went to the sheep's heads to control them, which is extremely good.  Due to his agility and obedience training he is what they call a one sided dog - one that prefers to work from one direction only - and that will also need to be worked with.  This trait is common among dogs that have been previously trained in agility and/or obedience so it was not a surprise at all. 

The pups had a lot of fun, which was my goal.  It was harder then I thought for me.  Trying to stay right next to a person and not knowing which way they would move is difficult.  Once I get to the point I'm the only one in the ring with them it will probably be a lot easier.  It will come though.  I am pretty sure that the pups are looking forward to the next lesson.  We need to get some more weight off of Lacey as it was slowing her down speed wise.  I need to lose some pounds also so her and I will be exercising together.

Monday, May 30, 2011


My grandmother's garden had a large bed in the front of poppies.  When I visualize her garden the first thing I see in my mind is the bed of poppies.  I loved the beautiful red-orange color of the poppies.  Last summer I decided I wanted to plant some poppies to start a remembrance garden in memory of my grandmother who passed in 1986.  I bought 4 poppy plants and was disappointed that none of them seemed to grow and one outright died on me.  I was surprised this spring when they seemed to start growing where they stagnated last year.  This is another flower that said it was an annual on the tag when I bought it. 

We have watched as the poppies have grown and blooms have appeared.  We have waited all week to see when the blooms would open.  Matt was out mowing earlier this morning and the blooms were all still closed.  When he left to run to the grocery store an hour later he noticed these beautiful blooms and came back in to let me know they had finally opened  These appear to be giant poppies. I remember my grandmother's blooms being smaller in size and more orange then these are but these are still beautiful.   Hopefully I can get them to reproduce themselves so I can enlarge the remembrance garden.  To the side of the poppies I planted a couple salvias in three shades of purple (only one is visible in the above picture) and my thyme is definitely established well here.  I may relocate the thyme to the back gardens if we get another bed built this year to give the poppies more space to expand.  This remembrance garden is a work in progress. 
I'm still on the lookout for some type of ornament or ornaments to add to Grandmother's Remembrance Garden.  I want to find just the right items to add that bring back memories of my grandmother who was so special to me.  I am considering a firefly theme as another fond memory I have of spending time with my grandmother was catching fireflies around her house.  In addition to my grandmother's garden, I spent a lot of time sitting under a tree next to the garden with her stringing green beans and cleaning corn. 


Sorry for the delayed post but I've been down with bronchitis and just haven't had any energy to get these finished. 

Our thrifty finds for the weekend continued through Sunday.  My oldest son who is in the Army gave me his flat screen TV before he left for Afghanistan which won't fit into our entertainment center.  Matt wanted to watch the Red Wings Stanley Cup Playoffs on the larger screen and suggested we try looking at Pier 1 for a new TV stand Sunday afternoon.  I will mention here that we have looked at several Salvation Army stores and several other thrift stores along with Big Lots and Ikea without finding anything we liked or were comfortable paying.  My son gave us the TV back in March so it had been sitting around unused for a while and the box was becoming a cat perch and dust/cat hair magnet. 

So Sunday we went to Pier 1 and were checking out the furniture.  Ended up back in the clearance section (gee, surprise there).  I was looking at a TV unit that had a definite Chinese/Zen look when Matt noticed a price tag under it that was marked down from $599 to $149.  Intrigued at what could be marked down 70% and why it was marked down, we decided to investigate.  There were tables in front of it so we had to do some moving to get to the unit to see what it even was - I initially though it was a table that you would put behind a couch.  What we found was a TV unit that was nearly perfect for what we wanted and we both were agreeable to the price.  I would have preferred a dark brown but we both were tired of looking and this was as close as we'd gotten to something we liked without spending our retirement funds to pay for it.   Upon asking we found out that the unit was marked down because it had been a floor unit and there was a ding on the top about the size of a pencil eraser.

Other then a few small issues like my son forgetting to give us the remote and our having to run to Best Buy to get a universal, set up was pretty easy.  By the end of the night the old entertainment unit was in the garage waiting to be put up on Craigslist and the new unit was dusted and all the equipment was connected and working.  All the DVDs, CDs, and VCR tapes that had been in the bookcase are now housed in the new unit (well most of them at least) and the games and puzzles we'd stored in the old unit were now in the bookcase. I continued with my spring cleaning and washed down the wall behind the unit along with half of two other walls.  I was also able to sweep and mop where the larger unit had been.  We were able to watch the Red Wing game that night and several since Sunday on a nicer TV.  The new unit really opens up that wall and makes the room look larger, which I'm really liking.  Now if only the new couch would arrive!


I was planning on doing a thorough spring cleaning - really I was - just hadn't planned to start it for a couple more weeks.  I was also waiting for Matt to get the screens up so I could open the windows and air out the house while I was doing cleaning.  Well as they say "The best laid plans of mice and men..." 

Matt and I came home one Friday to find that my beloved dog, Tip, had gotten sick and to say he had explosive diarrhea is to put it mildly.  Good thing was it was out of his system by the time we got home but the mess was unbelievable when we got home.  Matt walked into the mess first and started doing spot cleanup on the floor.  I walked in behind and immediately started washing the bedding that definitely had to be washed before we went to bed that night.  Matt's description of the couch was that it looked like somebody took poop and used a spackling knife to spread it over a good portion of the couch.  It was on the throw rug in the living room, the bath mat in the bathroom, the walls in hall and bedroom, all of the dog beds throughout the house  ---- it was EVERYWHERE!!!  My son's room (door was closed) and the computer/library room were the only two rooms that were not hit. 

Poor Tip hadn't fared much better and I had to take him outside and hose him down to clean him up.  He was so upset with himself over the mess he'd made.  He obviously wasn't feeling great and just wanted to be held and comforted.  My poor boy.

After we did the spot cleaning and took inventory we decided that a new couch had moved up from a want to a immediate need and went couch hunting.  We were able to find one in the clearance center that wasn't in stock but was due in the beginning of May and for $100 less then the clearance room price.  Original price on the sticker was $1200 and was marked down to $499 and with the $100 discount it ended up $399 plus tax.  $399 for a leather couch was a great deal.  The salesman actually made a comment to the effect that he'd never seen a woman pick out a couch and buy it so fast in all the years he'd been a salesman.  I laughed and informed him that was one of my traits that Matt loved the most.

The following day started my spring cleaning project.  I started in the bedroom and worked my way out to the hallway.  I'd somehow pulled a muscle in my back earlier that week and by the time I was done with the cleaning that Saturday I was having massive spasming in my back, which ended up preventing me from continuing the cleaning the following day.  Two weeks later and I'm still having issues with spasming of my back but hopefully if I continue the cleaning in smaller doses I won't have as bad a flare up again. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011


In November my friend Steve invited us to a Teach A Friend To Brew Day at Cap N Cork.  He helped us make our first batch of mead (raspberry) at that event, which is still working.  This past Saturday was Cap N Cork's Learn to Brew Day.  Matt's sister met us for a late breakfast before we all headed over to sample and watch  beers, ales, stouts, etc. being brewed and of course to sample.  Some of the wives of the brewing club started their own niche group called Mead Mama's and I definitely want to become part of this group.  For those interested in brewing the brewing club meets monthly at different locations.  I don't like or drink beer but it is very interesting to watch how they are brewed.  My friend Steve showed up 15 minutes before we had to leave so we weren't able to help him mix up some new meads.  He had three 5 gallon carboys he was going to fill.

I picked up two packets of mead yeast so we could start some new batches of mead.  I purchased one sweet and one dry yeast to experiment and see which one we prefer.  I'm targeting one of the new meads for use as a Christmas present this year using the frozen peaches I put up in the fall and making a spiced peach mead.  Matt and I are going to need to add on to the house soon to attach a brewing room at this rate especially when we start adding the beer/ale brewing equipment to our stash.

A new product line Cap N Cork just started carrying are cheese making kits.  They had several varieties of kits.  We bought the Gouda, Parmesan & Feta kit this time around along with a book called Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll.  I'm looking forward to starting to make our own cheeses.  Our first one will be the gouda.  I think I might pick up the Goat Milk Cheese kit the next round.  Now to find a supplier to buy raw milk from to get started on this new project.  Stay tuned to how this project works out.


One thing I have learned to enjoy is going to yard sales and flea markets. We had a new flea market open up this past winter and although we've talked repeatedly about stopping in we hadn't gotten to it until yesterday. For those in my area that might be interested it's called TriCounty Flea Market and is located on the corner of Groesbeck and Frazho. It's not a huge flea market yet, but there were a lot of interesting shops in it. The shops are cash only, but there is an ATM in the back if you need one.

I absolutely fell in love this this tea set when I saw it. I've been wanting to start a teapot collections and this was the perfect start for the collection. The set included the Little Red Riding Hood teapot, 4 teacups, and a tray for $15. The details are just so adorable. The wolf's glasses are a real miniature pair of wire rimmed glasses, not just the wire frames. The wolf's tail is the teapot spout. I loved the picnic basket teacups too. Although, I'm not a grandmother yet (and hope not to be for quite a while) I could definitely see myself having a special afternoon tea with a granddaughter or two down the road with this set. Matt bought it for me for Mother's Day.

I also found two vintage wool coats. One had a fur collar and cuffs on it (I'm assuming faux). One was priced at $20 and the other $25. The fur trimmed coat was 3/4 length and the other one was a full length. The longer one was missing all but one button on it - although it wouldn't be difficult to locate vintage buttons or just replace them with new ones. I may end up going back and getting one or both of these coats. They were both black in color which is why I didn't pick them up yesterday. My wardrobe runs in more earthy tones and I'd really prefer a brown or dark green coat. Both coats were 80% wool and were quite heavy weight wise.

Another purchase we made were 2 celestial pictures for the bathroom and a celestial nightlight for a total of $7 for all three items.  Here's a picture of the nightlight ($3).

I also stopped at a thrift store after I dropped my son at work yesterday. It also opened over the winter and I hadn't had a chance to drop in yet. Signs that say 50% off are a definate draw for me. I was able to find a gauzey black broomstick skirt originally $3 for $1.50 and a book called Secondhand Chic originally $1 for 50c. Overall, I did pretty good on finds.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been reading a lot lately. My renewed interest in vintage housekeeping lead me to this book, also a recommendation from the Mary Jane's Farm forums. Aprons are one of the new hot topics and collectibles. There are numerous books that have appeared regarding aprons and the fabric stores are full of apron patterns.

This book is for anybody that loves to wear aprons or just loves aprons period. It has multiple patterns for making different styles of aprons but the biggest draw of this book for me were the stories associated with the aprons. Each style of apron has a story of a person who was impacted by someone wearing an apron. Did you know there use to be specially designed aprons for baby's bath time? It was made from chenille or terrycloth and the mother could wrap the baby up in her apron to dry off as soon as she took the tyke out of the tub. So practical! There were cleaning aprons to store rags and cleaning supplies in, not to mention keeping their dresses clean while cleaning. There were also laundry aprons with pockets to keep the clothespins in (I want one of these). There were pictures and stories of aprons that people had saved from grandmothers or mothers long since gone.

For those that enjoy aprons and like a homemade one but don't have the time or knowledge of how to sew I can highly suggest Dave & Grace's Country Aprons . I bought one from them in December and enjoyed wearing it through the holidays. They also have a blog about their aprons and farm called Country Grace Home. I think this may be my next apron whether I buy it from Dave & Grace or find the fabric and make a similar one myself. I love the chickens and sunflowers.


With the wet, damp weather of late I've been reading constantly. One of the books I recently read that I enjoyed so much is Sisters on the Fly. I heard about this book on the Mary Jane's Farm forums as many of the members of Sisters on the Fly are also members of MJF - no surprise really. I absolutely have fallen in love with these wonderful little vintage trailers that they've brought back to life.

Sisters on the Fly started with two sisters (Maurrie & Becky) and their mother (Mazie) and expanded from there. The name came from the fact that they all love to fly fish. I think the website said they currently have almost 2000 registered members with multiple subgroups in each part of the US and Canada. The Sisters take their glamped up campers that they've rescued and customized on camping trips which frequently include fishing expeditions and horseback riding. They even have a Cowgirl University camp where you can go for a week and learn to herd cattle and brand them. These are the girls that are fishing in dresses or skirts (if they chose) with a fishing pole in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. They have Cowgirl Proms at the end of the trips. They also enjoy antique shopping. Oh, in case it hasn't been obvious yet, these trips are typically girl only trips. They travel together and stay together so no Sister gets left behind.

I was raised camping from the time I was probably about 5 or 6, which is probably why I was drawn to this book. We used to live in a popup camper from the time school got out until school started again every summer. We started with a straight sided popup (no wings) with my mom, stepfather, brother and myself and then they traded that up to a larger popup with wings. I grew up spending my summers swimming, watching the beavers in the pond, and sitting around a fire every night. I currently only have a tent for camping but I try to glamp up tent camping as much as I can to make it more comfortable. We occasionally get the comments about the supplies we bring on a camping trip, especially the futon, but after they see the tent set up we get the "Dang, you guys know how to camp!" comments. Hopefully we'll be able to purchase a camper in the next couple years as tent camping is getting a little rough nowadays even with a futon. A bathroom is an absolute requirement too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I always love when projects get to the point where you know if your choices are going to be a hit or a miss. Sometimes it's completing a single thing that pulls everything together. Phase 2 was very time consuming. I acted as carpenter apprentice and general laborer for Matt most of the weekend. Once again problems were found as he tore out stuff. The sink had to be replaced (not planned) after a corner cracked and broke off. The paint colors weren't quite the colors I chose; blue wasn't as dark as it was supposed to have been and the gold looked yellowish. Since we had to let the paint dry for several days before putting up the border I kept doubting myself on whether I'd chosen the right colors or not. People commented that it was going to make the bathroom feel small using such a dark blue. On Sunday, Matt put up the border while I was out shopping and that one simple act pulled everything together. The yellow shifted and became the gold I'd wanted and the blue seemed to take on a slightly deeper hue even though it wasn't as dark as I'd initially wanted. It definitely was worth all our hard work. The bathroom is awesome in my humble opinion.

One thing I will remark on is the paint. We used Behr's Ultra (primer and paint in one) for the beadboard and molding (blue). I was not happy with the coverage at all. Being that it was a dark color we knew we would need two coats of paint but we ended up doing 3 and 4 coats of paint. I think I will just stick with my preference for Glidden paints on future jobs.

My celestial theme has been an ongoing process. I bought the shower curtain back in 2006 when I bought my trailer during my divorce. I bought the border in anticipation of redoing the bathroom there but never started that project (good thing). The border sat in a bookcase for 2 years after I moved in before we were able to get to this project and use it. The metal sun that hangs on the wall was a garbage sale purchase. You can take your time and pull a look together gradually. I love how the bathroom looks and feels now. Phase 3 will be choosing flooring and installing it, but that's a fall project.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Matt and I have gotten a jump start on our weekend projects with remodeling the bathroom. This is actually going to end up being in 3 phases.

Phase one was ripping out the tub surround that had cracked and replacing it - HUGE project that Matt completed pretty much on his own (awesome man !) Unfortunately I wasn't able to take pictures of this phase. Of course with this project he found a ton of issues that the person who had previously worked on it had done incorrectly. Only one of the boards was green board (water resistant) and the rest was regular drywall board (NOT water resistant). They'd taken the insulation out of the walls and put what looked like pillow filling into some of the spaces but huge areas were empty of any insulation. Soooo, Matt had the wonderful job of correcting all these problems in addition to putting the new surround up which was made more complicated by the fact he had to cut the surround for the window and frame out the window and put up a new ceiling over the tub. He got that portion knocked out between Friday night and Sunday night a couple weeks ago.


This week is going to be dicey to say the least. My oldest son is coming home on leave before he is deployed to Afghanistan. He thought he would be arriving sometime today, but it might not be until tomorrow. My youngest son got his work schedule last night for the week and his boss has added 2 more days this week, which is not making mom happy since I have to stay up past my bedtime to pick him up. Plus he's scheduled to work on his birthday! Trying to figure out who will be present for dinner each night is going to be tricky. Sometimes my oldest son wants to eat homemade meals and other times he wants to hit every restaurant he doesn't get to dine at while he's gone.

This is just a rough outline of meals I suggested with Matt last night and got approved.

1. Roast with gravy, potatoes, and carrots - possibly rolls.
2. Homemade Beef-a-roni and green beans
3. Chicken and noodles with biscuits
4. Homemade pizza & salad
5. Tacos, refried beans, and homemade guacamole

For the weekend Matt has suggested possibly a bbq cookup with ribs or a rib roast - we'll have to play it by ear to see what the kids have planned.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I will admit that I HATE drinking water. My favorite drinks of choice are Mt. Dew and Code Red Mt. Dew. Water is just so BLAND tasting. I can't use artificial sweeteners and most of those cute little drink packets to add to your water bottles have artificial sweeteners in them. I tried Celestial Seasonings packets but they are a) expensive, b) only come in 2 flavors I like and c) use Stevia. Country Time Lemonade also has packets but I get tired of drinking lemonade constantly and its a little sweeter then I would like.

This morning I had one of the Eureka! moments. I was contemplating that I should really drink a bottle of water instead of going back and pouring myself a Mt. Dew when I looked at the box of Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger tea in my drawer. I didn't want hot tea and that's when the Eureka moment hit - why couldn't I stuff the tea bag in the water bottle for a couple minutes to flavor the water. It would give me the taste I wanted as well as not needing any sweetener. Obviously this won't work for all teas, but it is a great idea for teas that you enjoy that don't require any sweetening. Since the teabag was only in the bottle a couple minutes I kept the teabag to reuse. I would imagine a teabag could be used several times in a day thereby cutting the cost even more. I will mention that I prefer drinking water at room temp and the water had quite a bit of flavor within 1 to 2 minutes. Cold water might take a little longer.

It may be obvious to some to flavor water this way but it was a Eureka! moment for me. Now I can have flavored water without the calories and without the artificial sweeteners. I'm really excited to see if this helps with my weight loss since I know I drink way to many calories every time I have my Dew. I hope this helps others out trying to break the soda/pop habit or those who don't like bland water either.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


While roaming around Saturday at Target I discovered a couple new mystery novels that looked very interesting to me. I knew they'd be on the fluffier end of the mystery genre, but it suited me for the light reading I was looking for. The first of the books was The Teaberry Strangler by Laura Childs. It's actually #11 in the A Tea Shop Mystery series. Unfortunately Target did not have any other book in the series in stock so I'll be purchasing them through other venues. It is a new release so Target had a 25% off sticker on the book making it around $5.99 for the paperback version (plus tax).

The mystery solving tea shop owner is named Theodosia. Its about a street of shop owners in Charleston and the activities surrounding the shop district and in particular the Indigo Tea Shop. Being the foodie that I am, I loved the description of the teas the shop carried along with the menus that they served both at the shop and at catered events. At the end of the book were several pages of yummy looking recipes and a variety of tea party themes. There was an amazing amount of information about teas scattered throughout the book that I enjoyed and if you're not a tea drinker this might get a bit boring. Luara Childs definately did her homework on this series. As for the mystery aspect, it was definitely enjoyable to follow. I liked the fact that I didn't know until the very end who had done it. Nothing is worse to me then knowing immediately who did it and knowing it through the entire book. There were a lot of characters, which might be to much for many to follow, but I was able to follow all the charecters easily enough.

If you're looking for a sit on the edge of the seat, scare yourself type of book this isn't it. This is a light refreshing book that might have a couple tingle-y passages of buildup (depending on your fright level) but nothing that would keep you from sleeping after reading it. I guess I could describe it as being similar to some of Nora Roberts series, except without the romance - at least in this book. This is a perfect book to kick back on a snowy or rainy day and enjoy along with several cups of tea and a scone or two or possibly a good book to take to the beach once this snow leaves and summer finally gets here. Happy reading :O)