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Archive for August, 2012

Welcome to a very special edition of Book Beginnings for me.  I usually post a book review every other Friday to link up at Rose City Reader, but thanks to a giveaway hosted by Ms. Rose City, I have a very special book to tell you about today.  I won a copy of “even if I am.” by Chasity Glass a couple of weeks ago and I just have to tell you about it.  Here is the first line:

"People are really romantic about the beginning of things."

How true is that?  Whether it is an actual romance, a new job, or a new home, most people are hopeful and romantic at the beginning of any big new endeavor.  To be honest, if I had really paid attention to what this book was about, I might not have even entered the giveaway, but I am so glad I did.  Someone very close to Ms. Glass is diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and this is their story dealing with this hideous disease and their lives around it.

My mother died two and a half years ago from ovarian cancer and she was at stage 3 when she was diagnosed three years before that.  She was my best friend and I am still dealing with the grief and disbelief that she is no longer here on earth with me.  Reading this story brought back so many memories, both good and bad, and moved me to tears multiple times.  Ms. Glass’s writing is so honest and funny and poignant…I could just go on and on.  I also loved the fact that a lot of the book is actual e-mails that Ms. Glass and her love sent back and forth to one another.  It makes it seem like you are right there with them and can feel the growing love that they have for each other.

This book is wonderful and I highly recommend it, but be aware that it is a very honest portrayal of dealing with cancer and everything that comes along with it.  Ms. Glass, I commend you for telling such an honest and loving story.  Great job!

Now, for the giveaway!  I am so thrilled and honored to have this opportunity.  Ms. Glass and her people are giving away another 3 copies of “even if I am.” to my readers.  Isn’t that awesome!  This is my first giveaway EVER, so here goes…today is August 31st so everyone that comments between today and Wednesday, September 5th will be entered in a drawing for these books.  I will randomly pick three people to receive the freebies and announce them on next Friday’s Book Beginnings post.  Please, please comment because you might win a wonderful book that I hope you will love as much as I did.  Also, make sure you leave an e-mail address so I have a way to contact you if you win.  Good luck!!

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Looking back at my Thoughtful Thursday posts, I realized that it had been quite a while since I wrote about our garden.  It has done surprisingly well considering the extreme heat and dry weather we had for most of June and July.  Thankfully, since we have just the two raised beds and one strawberry bed, I was able to water them enough to keep everything alive.

Once the rain started back, I started harvesting more and more.  My cucumbers have done great and the peppers and tomatoes have really made a comeback.  This is what I picked Saturday before last…

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There was also a handful of very small strawberries that I made strawberry lemonade slushies with and I still have several carrots left, too.  That same day, I sowed a fall crop of lettuce and a few more cucumber seeds.  There is just enough time before our usual frost to get a few cucumbers from new plants.  Say a little prayer that our frost is a little late. 

Our new grapevines are growing well, but it will still be a year or two before we actually get fruit from them.  It is the same with the fruit trees.  I am trying to be patient and let them grow more before bearing much fruit so they will be nice and strong.

The wood that we made our raised bed from is starting to deteriorate so C & I are trying to come up with an inexpensive alternative to replace the boards.  We have a few ideas, but no concrete plans yet.  We are thinking of using artificial deck boards, but they are so expensive.  I might have to start stalking Craig’s List to see if we can find them on the cheap.

Considering the weather that we have had, I have been thrilled at the garden output and hopefully it will continue for a few more weeks!

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Talented pooches at the Kentucky State Fair…

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Good Monday morning!  Please join me and many other wonderful bloggers for Menu Plan Monday hosted by I’m An Organizing Junkie.  There are always many menus to peruse and new recipes to find.  I have to confess that the desserts I had planned for last week did not get made because C & I decided to attend the Kentucky State Fair and we had so much fun!  Neither of us had been since we were kids and I think we were like kids again while we were there.  We loved seeing the animals and displays and I am ready to go back next year.  Check back on Wednesday for the first of multiple Almost Wordless Wednesday posts with lots of pics from the fair.

Also, this Friday’s Book Beginnings post will be a special one because it will contain my first ever giveaway!  You have to comment to win so if you are interested, please check back on Friday and leave a comment for the chance to win an awesome new book.

Bubble-up enchilada bake

Grilled pork chops with oven fries

Bacon cheeseburger bundles with fresh veggies & fruit

Pizza

Grilled pork loin with curly fries

Coca-cola cake with orange fluff salad (This is a birthday cake for my chocolate loving aunt.)

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Is is hot where you are?  It’s always hot in Kentucky during August so I love finding delicious ways to cool off and this is one of them.  One of my co-workers passed this recipe on to me so I am not sure of it’s origins, but I have seen it on Pinterest and other websites, but that is not where I got it.

This is a quick and easy frozen treat that I think anyone would love!

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Powdered lemonade drink mix

1 1/2 cups strawberries

7 ice cubes

1 cup water

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In a blender, put the strawberries, ice and water.  Measure out the smallest amount of lemonade mix that the lid has marked and add it to the blender as well.  Pulse until all of the ice is crushed and you have a thick but straw-friendly drink!

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This version has a pretty powerful lemonade kick so you could easily add more ice and water to tone it down a little and you would get more drinks per powder portion.

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Welcome to today’s edition of Book Beginnings hosted by Rose City Reader.  What’s Book Beginnings, you ask?  It is a very cool link party where bloggers write down the first few lines of the book they are reading and give you their opinion about it.  I hope you check it out and find a new amazing book or blog to try.

Today, I am introducing you to a type of book that I rarely read…nonfiction.  Except for the Bible and how-to books, non-fiction is usually not my thing, but something about this book caught my attention.  Just a few weeks before I read this, C & I were having a discussion about introverts and what exactly makes a person an introvert.  We both knew that we were, but what if what we thought makes us this way was not all there was to it.  Then I found “Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.  I don’t think I can really say that this book changed my life, but it did change the perception of my life.  Here are the first few lines:

“Montgomery, Alabama. December 1, 1955.  Early evening.  A public bus pulls to a stop and a sensibly dressed woman in her forties gets on.  She carries herself erectly, despite having spent the day bent over an ironing board in a dingy basement tailor shop at the Montgomery Fair department store.  Her feet are swollen, her shoulders ache.  She sits in the first row of the colored section and watches quietly as the bus fills with riders.  Until the driver orders her to give her seat to a white passenger.”

Yep, the writer is talking about Rosa Parks, one single woman who helped spark the racial equality movement, but guess what?  She was not the most willing participant when it came to coming out publicly about this, but she did it because she knew it was the right thing to do.  I hope you will take the time to read this book.  I was amazed at the information and research that the writer put into it.  It is well worth your time.

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Welcome to another Monday, everyone!  I hope all my readers had a wonderful weekend and are looking forward to a good week.  C & I had a nice quiet couple of days off and enjoyed it by getting outside with the dogs and taking a few long walks with a little yard and housework thrown in.  It just went by way too fast!

I am keeping it pretty simple this week with a couple of new sweet treats planned for the weekend so I hope to have plenty of time to enjoy this beautiful fall-like weather.  Have a great and blessed week!

Walking taco casserole (new)

Grilled hamburgers with oven fries

Basic buttermilk pancakes with bacon

Baked rotini

Pizza night

Homemade sloppy Joes with curly fries

Chocolate frosted sponge cake with frozen cranberry salad (new)

Please join me at I’m An Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

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Around here, we love strawberries!  In fact, I can’t seem to get our little patch big enough.  Every year, I add a few more plants and we just keep on eating every one we can get our hands on.  C had requested that I try to make strawberry ice cream and it just so happened that the vegan ice cream book, “Lick It”, that I received as a birthday present last year, has a recipe.

C thought it turned out a little too sweet, so next time I will cut down on the sweetener, but it was so good and had such a strong strawberry flavor that I will definitely be making this again.

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2 1/2 cups halved strawberries

14 oz. can coconut milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar or equivalent of agave syrup

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Note: I was out of vanilla.  I know…the horror!  Don’t worry though because I have since rectified the vanilla situation.

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Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

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Cover and chill for at least 2 hours then process in your ice cream maker according to directions.

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I have been using homemade cleaners for several months now and I continue to be so impressed with how well they work.  My first attempts at making liquid HAND soap had not been very successful, but a little research told me I was using the wrong bar soap.  Dove unscented is the soap I use in the shower so, naturally, I tried to make liquid soap from it, but there is something in Dove soap that won’t allow it to thicken and you end up with soapy water.

I found Yardley lavender soap at my local Walmart and it was one of the brands recommended for homemade liquid soap.  It worked great!  I used lavender because both C & I like that fragrance and it’s not too overwhelming.  Next time I will try to find an unscented soap so it is easier on our allergies.  The “recipe” I used came from The Burlap Bag, and, of course, was posted on Pinterest.

liquid soap

8 oz. bar soap (I used two 4 oz. bars.)

2 tbsp. glycerin

1 gallon water + extra in case your soap is too thick.

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Grate the soap and add all ingredients to a large pot over medium heat.  Allow to cook, stirring often, until all of the soap has melted.  Turn off the heat and let the pot and contents set for 10-12 hours.  It is supposed to get thick and a little cloudy.  Mine got really thick so I just added a little more water and mixed it in with a handheld electric mixer.

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Pour the soap into dispensers or jugs for storage until you are ready to use it.  I’m not sure exactly how much all of this soap cost me.  I forgot how much I gave for the soap and glycerin, but this recipe makes a LOT of soap.

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Welcome to Menu Plan Monday!  It is hard to believe that another week has already gone by, but it has.  We finally had a cool down here in the Bluegrass and this past weekend’s weather was just perfect.  The sun shone, there was a awesome breeze and the temperatures were in the 80s.  I spent a couple of evenings just lounging on the deck reading a book.  Aah , the good life!

I also completed my first furniture refinishing project on Saturday.  There was a dresser and chiffarobe left in my late great-grandparents’ house that my grandmother very generously gave to me and I have painted them to use in our upstairs purple bedroom.  I put the finishing touches on them and packed all of the drawers upstairs.  Now, we just have to get the big pieces up there and then there will be a great reveal and how-to on here.  This project has been a lot of fun and if I had more free time, I would love to do more furniture like this.  It is especially sweet that these are pieces that have been in my family for generations.

Anyway, back to food…I also made homemade tomato sauce for the first time Saturday morning and it is delicious, BUT, after spending hours of time and using over four pounds of tomatoes, I only ended up with 3 CUPS of sauce.  Not 3 pints or 3 quarts…3 CUPS!!!  It is really good, but I’m not sure if it is worth the time investment or not.  Opinions?

Here is what I plan to cook this week:

Grilled pork chops with oven baked fries

Cheesy steak sandwiches with oven baked fries (2 nights)

Pizza (2 nights)

Cheesy meatloaf minis (new) with butter roasted potatoes

Please join me at I’m An Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

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