Friday, April 10, 2015

Blogging A to Z - I

Author: Irving, John
I know I already featured one of his books, but honestly, my choices for I were limited.  I also really enjoy John Irving as an author so I don't mind having him here twice. In addition to A Prayer for Owen Meany, I can recommend Cider House Rules, A Widow for One Year, and The Fourth Hand. I know he is not for everyone - his books aren't always realistic, but they are entertaining and certainly make me think. He doesn't shy away from hard topics (the death of children, abortion, infidelity, family relationships, etc.) but can seemingly find humor even in these situations.

Book:  Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The by Rebecca Skloot
This is the story of a poor African-American woman who died in 1951 of cervical cancer. Doesn't sound all that exciting until you hear about how the sample of her tumor was the first "immortal" human cells grown in culture and were instrumental in countless scientific discoveries. As if that medical drama wasn't enough, there is also the human drama of her family, who weren't aware of what Ms. Lacks' cells were contributing until almost 20 years after her death. Because the cells aren't considered property, there was never any payment and Ms. Lacks' family can't even afford their own medical care. It's a fascinating read about genetics, medical research and ethics, and the business of science. Highly recommended.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Blogging A to Z - H

Author:  Harris, Charlaine
I'm sure that most people associate Charlaine Harris with the True Blood (Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire) series, but I'd like to highlight some of her other works. The Harper Connelly Mysteries feature a brother and sister (step) who travel the South helping people who have lost loved ones.  After Harper was struck by lightening, she realized she can find dead people and share their final moment. Her stepbrother is her manager/handler/companion. Darker in tone than Sookie, I enjoyed them just as much.  Harris has started a new trilogy about a town in Texas where everyone has secrets and some of them are pretty explosive. The second in the set is being released soon and I've already pre-ordered it.

Book:  Hundredth Man, The by Jack Kerley
As usual, I'm highlighting the first book in a series that I enjoy.  This is the first of the Carson Ryder series, about a pair of detectives (rookie and senior) who form a special psychological investigative unit to solve special crimes. The Junior Detective, Carson Ryder, has a past which gives him special insights into the crimes he is investigating.  This is a great series, but unfortunately, I believe the author was unable to find a US publisher after the first few books, so the later books in the series are harder to find (but not impossible). I recommend making the effort.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Blogging A to Z - G

Author:  Greenleaf, Stephen
For the most part, I'm choosing popular and fairly well-known authors.  However, now and then, I'm going to highlight one of my personal favorites who probably isn't as well known, even to fans of the genre. Greenleaf wrote the John Marshall Tanner series of mysteries set in San Francisco. I'm not really sure why I like these so much, but they are well-written with interesting plots and characters. The characters, especially Tanner, really grow over the course of the 14 books. These books aren't always easy to find (my collection was stolen and I am trying to rebuild it) but they are worth seeking out. This is a series where it's important to start at the beginning with Grave Error.

Book:  Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane / Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I just couldn't choose between these two for my "G" books and they do have the same word in the title, so I'm picking both. Each of these explore the dark side of humanity, and are not easy reads. Gone, Baby, Gone in particular, with its depictions of horrific child abuse, is incredibly hard to get through, but the payoff is worth it. In Gone Girl, the author shows the reader how a marriage can go horribly wrong. Both books also have twists that I won't reveal in case you haven't read them yet - and I recommend you do so immediately.  (Gone, Baby, Gone is part of a series, but it also works as a stand-alone novel.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Blogging A to Z - F

Had a busy day today, so just getting this in in the nick of time.

This former jockey was a prolific writer publishing a novel a year from 1962 until his death at the age of 89 in 2010. His books all center around horse racing with quite a few of the protagonists being jockeys. They are usually quick, entertaining reads, with tons of information about horse racing and associated fields.

Book:  Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S. Thompson
This was the main book that turned my college career to political science (the other one being "The Boys on the Bus" by Timothy Crouse).  Fear and Loathing is true Gonzo journalism, and a collection of articles originally written for Rolling Stone.  The Good Doctor focuses mainly on the campaign of George McGovern. By the end of the campaign and the overwhelming McGovern loss, Thompson was totally exhausted and burned out on politics. While you have to take some of his stories with a grain of salt (Edmund Muskie and his addiction to Ibogaine for example), the book is a terrific examination of political campaigning and the media of that era. I recommend it highly.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Progress on 101 Things - April 4-5 edition

Here's a wrap-up arranged by category.

Travel - Oregon [nothing]
Travel - Washington [nothing]
Travel - Rest of the World [nothing]

  • Completed that Scrapscription album (Just Be You). Here's the completed project, along with some Easter carnations and bunny decor. Starting another album today, but might not finish this week.

Entertainment and Culture:
  • My son surprised me by getting us tickets to Mariners' Opening Day, so that will make 3 home games this year!
  • Made Bacon Cheeseburger Sandwiches.  Very good and the only complaint was that there wasn't more.  Also tried a few other new recipes, but this was the biggest hit.  
  • Read 2 more books and started a third.  No reviews this week - both books were the next in a series that I've already reviewed, and not much changed.
  • Wore my fitbit every day this week and made my 10,000 step goal on six out of seven. On that non-goal day, it was pouring rain both outside and inside my umbrella so I cut my final walk short by 904 steps. I still totaled almost 73,000 steps for the week, which was 29.4 miles!
Miscellaneous [nothing, but added another goal]

Blogging A to Z - E

Author:  Ellison, Harlan
The moment I decided on the theme for this challenge, I knew who my E author would be. I bought my first collection of Ellison short stories in the mid-1970's, and a love affair began. While best known for his speculative fiction and short stories, including award-winners "Repent Harlequin, Said the Ticktockman", "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs", and "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream", he has also written over 1,700 works including novellas, screenplays and teleplays, criticism, essays, at least one novel and, of course, short stories. Mere words cannot express how much I enjoy his work. There have been countless times where I've picked up one of his books, planning on reading one or two stories before bed, and lifting my eyes from the book three hours later. I've seen him in person a few times, where he was doing readings of his essays and short stories.  Once at Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon (Mecca for book lovers), I waited in line to have a book signed and when I met the man I'd admired for almost 40 years, I said a few words to him.

When my time is up and I'm off to my urn, I will consider it one of my crowning achievements that I made Harlan Ellison laugh.

Book:  Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
A short, unassuming book comprised of a series of letters between family members (I learned a new word when I read this book: epistolary). In a nutshell, this is the story of Ella Minnow Pea, who lives on an island off the coast of South Carolina. This island was also the home of the man who invented the sentence "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" and there is a statue honoring him. When letters start falling off the statue's plaque, the town rulers decide that means they are no longer to use those letters, and anyone found to do so (either written or spoken) must be punished. Enough infractions, and the punishment is death. What seems to be a lighthearted, humorous story quickly turns dark (at least it did for me). Not something I would normally read, but it was recommended to me and I, in turn, recommend it to you.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Blogging A to Z - D

Author:  Donaldson, Stephen R.
What a varied catalog of works this man has produced. The epic fantasy of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever (all three series), the science-fiction/space opera of the Gap Series and (my personal favorite) the two-volume series Mordant's Need. If there is one thing Donaldson can do, it's create elaborate worlds. Personally, I recommend Mordant's Need above the other two - the Gap Series is VERY dark and not for everyone and the Thomas Covenant series (for me at least) trails off in the end. If you like high fantasy, I would just go with the first three volumes of that. I confess - I started the third Chronicles and couldn't make it past the first couple of chapters.  Addendum:  In doing some research for this post, I discovered that Donaldson wrote four mysteries under a pseudonym, but has now published them under his real name. I think I will have to check these out.

Book:  Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
Here's the start to another great urban fantasy series, The Hollows, with Rachel Morgan the witch, Jenks the pixy and Ivy the vampire. Of course there are also elves, demons, shape-shifters, and fairies (nasty little creatures).  There are fourteen books total - I confess that I haven't read the last one yet even though I've had it for a while, because I just don't want the story to end. I did start re-reading them from the beginning since I tend to read very fast and I wanted to make sure I caught every nuance before finishing up the series. As with the other series I've recommended, I envy those of you who have yet to start. Enjoy the journey into The Hollows!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Blogging A to Z - C

Author: Connelly, Michael and Connolly, John
Both mystery writers, names different by just one letter, but oh so different in style. Michael Connelly writes in the police procedural vein but with more depth and characterization and features Harry Bosch, an LAPD cop, while John Connolly tells us about Charlie Parker, a former cop turned private investigator whose stories have definite supernatural overtones.  Both writers excel in drawing you into the worlds they have created, albeit with much different moods and themes. For M. Connelly, start with The Black Echo.  The first Charlie Parker book is Every Dead Thing. You can't go wrong with either one.

Book:  Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
Winner of numerous awards, including the Bram Stoker Award and the British Fantasy Award, this novel is a different take on vampires. These creatures feed off emotions and violence rather than blood and have been doing so for a very long time. While it's true that at over 700 pages the book probably could have used some editing, it kept my attention the entire time and I recommend it for fans of horror.  Stephen King called Carrion Comfort one of the greatest horror novels of the 20th century, and I think that says something.  (Dan Simmons is another of my favorite authors - he writes in almost every genre and rarely comes up with a dud.)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Blogging A to Z - B

Author:  Butcher, Jim
I used to read quite a bit of science fiction, but was never really one for fantasy.  You know, swords and sorcery fantasy. When I found Urban Fantasy, however, I was all over it. And no-one writes better urban fantasy than Jim Butcher. Seriously. Harry Dresden is one of the best characters of all time, and his supporting cast members are no slouches. This is one author that I always pre-order and have never been disappointed. I have read his other books as well, but Harry is my favorite. If you like urban fantasy and have not read Butcher yet, start with Storm Front and work your way up to the latest.

Book:  Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld, Book 1)
More urban fantasy, but very different from the Dresden Files. I chose this book since it was the first in a series that I've enjoyed (and I already used my "A" author). Unlike most series which focus on a main character, the Women of the Otherworld focuses on a group of women (and men) letting each one have a few novels where they are primary. It's an interesting way to approach the series concept and I like it. Often with just one main character you run out of material, but by spreading it out to an entire world of characters, you've got more room to explore. The first installment introduces us to Elena, the only female werewolf and the rest of her pack. I read the entire series and while some books were better than others, they were all entertaining reads.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Blogging A to Z - A

And we're off!  I've never done anything like this before, but here goes.  First, welcome to anyone who is stopping by here for the first time (or the second or third...). My posts are mainly about my crafting, menu planning, or my 101 things I want to do.  On a personal note, I'm a 50-something Project Director from Everett (north of Seattle), Washington and counting the days until I can retire, hopefully to the Oregon Coast. Married with 3 children, 2 grandchildren and 1 very spoiled Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

So let's get started with Books and Authors.

Author:  Asimov, Isaac
I have always loved science-fiction. I think the first SF book I read was Journey to the Mushroom Planet in 3rd or 4th grade. It was a shared love with my dad and one of the first adult authors he introduced me to (after Heinlein) was Isaac Asimov. From the Foundation series to I, Robot to Lije Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw. Just thinking about these stories (and Isaac) brings back fond memories of discussing them with my dad.

Book:  A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Absolutely one of the best books I have ever read, and I've read a lot. I read this back when it first came out (1989) in hardback (which was rare, because I usually couldn't afford them) but I had enjoyed his earlier works so I splurged. I do a lot of reading on the bus to and from work, and quickly found that this is NOT a good book to read in public. Considering my uncontrollable laughter at the nativity scene and my open sobbing during other parts, it just was not a wise decision to read this where other people could see/hear me. This is also one of the few books that I've read more than once. For me to do that, well, it just doesn't happen very often. If you haven't read this before, I envy you. Grab it now, and introduce yourself to the world of God's Instrument, Owen Meany, and his best friend, John Wheelwright. You won't be sorry.

Monday, March 30, 2015

March SFS

Month: March
Carry-Over from February:  negative $1.48
Spent: $7.65 (HAED chart on sale)
Earned: 0
Total over budget:  $9.13

So, I just received the email about what to do if I'm over budget. Basically I don't get that $25 for March since I was $1.48 over at the end of February. Not knowing that was how it would work, I spent an additional $7.65 in March.

So, for April, I need to stitch something worth at least $10 so I can get back on the list for May and June. Won't be easy, since I'm not one to do small pieces, but I found a few options in my stash, which is the point, after all!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Weekly Progress on 101 Things - March 28-ish edition

OK, another week with not much progress. Here's a wrap-up arranged by category.

Travel - Oregon [nothing]
Travel - Washington [nothing]
Travel - Rest of the World [nothing]


  • Worked on a Scrapscription album (Just Be You).  Will have it finished by next week. Here's a progress picture.

Entertainment and Culture:
  • Read a 50 state book (Vermont).  Review below.
  • Made the Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole.  Had to make some changes (used mozzarella instead of Swiss and didn't have Dijon (could have sworn I did!) so just used regular yellow mustard.
  • Spent some time every day purging work email, and also did a purge of personal. So, I'm counting this one good for Quarter 1, 2015.
  • Cleaned the pantry in February and have kept it organized. Worked on the freezers as well, so I'm considering this one done for Quarter 1, 2015.
  • Read 3 more books
    • The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad.  A dark, psychological thriller set in rural Vermont.  Excellent sense of place (apparently cell phone coverage there is extremely sporadic) and good character development. Former police detective turned private eye Frank Rath is asked to help the police department with a string of disappearances. He brings his own demons to the investigation - his sister and brother-in-law were murdered 18 years ago and he adopted their 6 month old daughter. The murderer is coming up for parole.  If you like dark, noir-like mysteries, I recommend this. I won't reveal the ending, but there had better be a sequel!
    • Bind the Soul (Steel & Stone Book 2) by Annette Marie.  Borrowed this through Kindle Unlimited. Entertaining urban fantasy. Main character is a young woman who is training to be a Consul - a mediator between human and daemons. This time, Piper has to go to Hades to try to rescue one of her daemon companions. Needless to say, this isn't easy and she undergoes considerable hardships. I've already downloaded Book 3.
    • Witching on a Star by Amanda M. Lee.  Book 4 of the Winchester Witches series. Quick fun read about a family of witches in rural Michigan. Interesting characters and a good read when you don't want to think too hard. 
  • Wore fitbit every day this week and made my 10,000 step goal on five out of seven. Had health issues on the two days I didn't make 10,000, so I'm happy with this. I totaled almost 66,000 steps for the week, which was 26.5 miles!
Miscellaneous [nothing]

Monday, March 23, 2015

Blogging A to Z reveal post

So, I just signed up for the Blogging A to Z Challenge. I will really try to stick to this - here's hoping life doesn't get too much in the way!

To get more info about the challenge, visit Blogging from A to Z.

Today is supposed to be the day to reveal your theme, if you are using one.  I think it will be easier for me to blog with a theme, so I'm choosing books/authors (with an occasional TV show - I'm thinking X-Files for that always difficult X).  I've done the alphabet reading challenge a couple of times on LibraryThing, so that will give me some ideas.

Looking forward to meeting some new bloggers and maybe even getting some new followers of my own.

Menu Monday 3/23 - also recap of prior week

Didn't do tons of cooking, but here's a brief review of each (see last week for links and sources):

Cowboy Burgers: These were a hit. Different taste from just regular burgers but good. I broiled rather than grilled, since we're out of propane and it really wasn't grilling weather. Broiling worked just fine.

Baked Blueberry and Banana Oatmeal: Another baked oatmeal hit. I think the bananas were a good addition. Won't make this as often as the triple berry oatmeal (look below - it's on the menu again) but would be good to make when I have a couple of bananas that need using.

Crockpot Chicken and Noodles: Quite the success.  Everyone had seconds (except me) and it is all gone. I thought there might be leftovers for my lunch tomorrow, but nope. Uses frozen noodles, which I've never used before, and they were tasty.

For this week (did shopping for two weeks, so we will just pick and choose from the options below).  I do know that tonight will be the Triple Berry Baked Oatmeal.  I hope there are leftovers for my lunch on Tuesday!

Hop on over to for more meal planning ideas.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weekly Progress on 101 Things - March 21 Edition

OK, so not much progress this week. Boo! Here's a wrap-up arranged by category.

Travel - Oregon [nothing]
Travel - Washington [nothing]
Travel - Rest of the World [nothing]
Crafts [no progress]

Entertainment and Culture:
  • Picked up our Mariners tickets for the two games for this year:  
    • April 25 - Kuma Bear Hat night
    • August 8 - Jamie Moyer Hall of Fame Induction
  • Made the Baked Blueberry and Banana Oatmeal. It was different than I expected but tasty. It's made different than other baked oatmeals I've tried - basically you put the fruit in the bottom of the pan, mix up the dry ingredients and pour those over the top of the fruit, mix up the wet ingredients and pour those over the dry, then put more fruit on top. It all came together nicely and disappeared quickly from the pan. So, I would consider it a success.
  • Read 2 more books
    • Chase the Dark (Steel & Stone Book 1) by Annette Marie.  Borrowed this through Kindle Unlimited. Entertaining urban fantasy. Main character is a young woman who is training to be a Consul - a mediator between human and daemons. Though most of the book, she is accompanied by two daemons - an incubus and a draconian (dragon) - who are helping her in her fight to find her family and clear her name. I don't like giving away much plot in my reviews. Let's just say there is a magic stone that has been stolen and everyone is trying to find it to use for their own purposes. I just downloaded Book 2, so I recommend this if you like fairly dark fantasy.
    • Younger by Suzanne Munshower. Received this for free as one of my two free Kindle books for March. Thriller with medical/philosophical themes. The question is: if a product existed that would safely take 30 years off your appearance, would you use it? Would it change how you saw yourself and how would you feel in the way it changed others treated you? Anna gets some answers to those questions as she eludes the people who want to kill her and get the formula for themselves. A quick read - entertaining enough to spend a couple of days on.
  • Wore fitbit 5 days this week and made my 10,000 step goal on three of those days!
Miscellaneous [nothing, except did add one more goal]

Monday, March 16, 2015

Menu Monday 3/16 - and recap of week

Did pretty well last week - made 3 of the 4 planned meals.  Here's a brief review of each (see last week for links and sources):

Cajun Style Country Fried Pork Steaks: Quite good.  A change of pace from the usual beef country fried steak. A little spice, but not too much. We can get these pork cube steaks fairly cheaply at Wal-Mart, so this one will go in our regular rotation.

Enchilada Pasta Casserole: This was a repeat and goes over well with the family. Not too spicy but a bit of a kick. We don't add the corn or the green chilies, due to personal tastes.

Beef and Bean Oven Tacos: A good meal to feed a crowd. We make quite a few changes from the original recipe. Basically we just make our usual taco filling, add a can of refried beans, put the filling in the shells, top with cheese and bake for 10 minutes. It's good!

For this week:

White Beans with Ham Hock (family recipe)

Cowboy Burgers from Deep South Dish

Baked Blueberry and Banana Oatmeal from The Cookin Chicks

Crockpot Chicken and Noodles from

Lemon Chicken and Potato Bake from The Chunky Chef

Cheesy Grub Sandwiches from Real Mom Kitchen

Hop on over to for more meal planning ideas.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weekly Progress on 101 Things - March 14 Edition

Today's report on 101 Things Progress.

  • Re-Read two books.  They don't count for anything on my list - I re-read the first two books by Anne Bishop in The Others series. 
  • Made the recipe plan which was pretty short, since we were gone Thurs-Sat.  The only new cooking was the Cajun Style Country Fried Pork Steaks which were quite tasty and MAN is that a horrible picture. Please gentle reader, don't let my photographs influence you against these meals. The gravy was quite thick - husband just doesn't have gravy down yet. Since he's going back to work on Monday (off since January 7 for hand surgery) the cooking is all falling back on me again (he works second shift). Upcoming gravy will be thinner.
  • Spend the day in Yachats.  DONE.  Thursday was spent mostly traveling. We didn't really start on the road until about noon since we had to visit Mom and have lunch. We used our GPS with the squirrel voice that I've dubbed "Skippy". He had us going to the coast via some odd route that we've never taken before and it added to our time due to traffic, but all was good and we made it to Yachats by 7:30 pm. Our home base for this trip was the Ocean Cove Inn.  The first picture below is the view from the deck outside our room. It was taken Saturday morning when it was raining heavily. However, Friday was a lovely day. We drove down to the Devil's Churn (just about 5 minutes south of Yachats) and Cape Perpetua (see below). We also drove further south to Shore Acres State Park, one of my favorite places to sit and watch the ocean. When the tide is coming in or there are storms, you really can see some amazing waves crashing.

It was good to get away and not worry about work and home responsibilities. We plan on going back in the summer - we really want to get a feel for the area during all the seasons to make sure it's where we want to retire.

I plan on crafting more this week - might even drag out a Scrapscription album to get one of those off my list. Until next time!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Menu Monday - 3/9 (and recap of last week)

Going to change things up a bit.  I'm not sticking very well with cooking certain things on a pre-defined day, so from now on, I'm just going to pick recipes (5 or 6) each week, do the shopping, and decide that morning what's for dinner that night.

Here's the review of last week:

Skillet Mac and Cheese with Polish Sausage:  3.5 stars.  The sausage added a nice texture and taste.  Not the best mac and cheese of all time, but it was certainly easy, especially on a week night.

Chicken Fried Chicken:  4.5 stars. Another winner winner chicken dinner. Breading stayed intact and the chicken was moist. The gravy was not as successful; I think the skillet was too hot and the flour browned too fast. But definitely a make-again.

Monte Cristo Strata: 4 stars. If you try this recipe, ignore the time guidelines. They don't include the 30 minutes sitting time after you pour the milk/egg mixture over the casserole. I'm not sure when I will make this again, since I have about 10 other Monte Cristo variations in my recipe database, but it was good.

Upcoming week's list (only 4 recipes, since we are going on a mini-vacation Thursday-Saturday and will be eating in restaurants along the Oregon Coast.)

Cajun Style Country Fried Pork Steaks from You Will Love It [new]

Enchilada Pasta Casserole from Table for Two [repeat]

Chicken Bacon Alfredo Enchiladas from Inside Bru Crew Life [new]

Beef and Bean Oven Tacos from 5 Dollar Dinners [repeat]

Hop on over to for more meal planning ideas.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Weekly Progress on 101 Things - March 7 Edition

Today's report on 101 Things Progress.

  • Read two books.  Neither counted towards the 50 state goal, since one was set in California and I've already used that, and the other was in an alternate Earth, so I don't think that counts.  However, they were both excellent (although entirely different).
    • Multiple Wounds by Alan Russell.  Stand-alone psychological thriller about a murder, a woman with multiple personalities (most straight out of Greek mythology), a police detective with a haunted past and a psychiatrist with demons of her own. Interesting, complex and a good mystery to boot. This is my second Russell book, and I am going to search out more.
    • Vision in Silver: A Novel of the Others by Anne Bishop.  Man, do I love this series!  So much so that I pre-ordered this, the third installment, on August 6, 2014 when I first saw it was available. So much so that after I finished this, I started reading the first one again. It's a hard series to describe, especially without giving away too much of the plot, and I would definitely recommend beginning with the first (Written in Red) but if you like urban fantasy, shape-shifters who are NOT romanticized and a compelling portrayal of an alternate Earth, this is a must for you. 
  • Made the recipe plan, and followed through with some, but there were a couple of days when cooking was just not on the agenda.  A full report will follow tomorrow, but for the 101 Things, we'll talk about the Monte Cristo Strata.  Everyone liked it - quite cheesy, even though I didn't use all that was called for.  Forgot to buy the fresh sage, so used a sprinkle of poultry seasoning instead. Had Fontina cheese that I'd got for a recipe I ended up not making, so used that instead of the Gruyere.  But I DID use Black Forest Ham, which I don't usually buy and I think it was better than regular deli ham.  I might stop showing food pictures, since I clearly have no idea how to photograph food, but here goes:
  • Technically this isn't done yet, but we're going today to pick up tickets for an upcoming Mariners home game.  My son got me a ticket voucher for Christmas, and today is the first day I can exchange it for the actual game. Might also get some for the game on August 8, which is the day Jamie Moyer gets inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame. Saw Lou Piniella's introduction last year (as well as Edgar Martinez a few years ago). 
Next week will see some of my "Travel Oregon" items done, since we're leaving Thursday morning for a trip to the coast.  We're staying in Yachats, the town where we'd love to retire some day. See you next Saturday!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - 3/2

Here's how last week went:

Ham and Cheese Crescent Bake:  really good!  Creamy and who doesn't love crescent rolls.  Even my daughter who doesn't really like pig enjoyed it.

Frito Pie Enchiladas: don't expect anything like an enchilada if you make this, but it was tasty.

Joan's Chicken Stuffing Casserole:  easy to make and it was OK, but probably won't make again. I'm not a big fan of Stove Top Stuffing.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken: terrific.  Fairly easy to make and quite good. The chicken stayed moist which is often tricky with boneless/skinless chicken breasts.

Simple Taco Burgers: another hit.

As I thought we might, I dropped the mini-meatball mac and cheese.  Just too complicated.

This week:

Monday: Skillet Mac and Cheese with Polish Sausage from Our Table for Seven

Tuesday:  Chicken Fried Chicken from Deep South Dish

Wednesday: Monte Cristo Strata from

Thursday: Cajun Style Country Fried Pork Steaks from You Will Love It

Friday:  Enchilada Pasta Casserole from Table for Two (I have gotten some great recipes from here)

Saturday: White Beans with Ham Hock (family recipe)

Sunday:  Baked White Chicken Spaghetti from Easy Access Recipes

Hop on over to for more meal planning ideas.

Weekly Progress on 101 Things - Feb 28 Edition

So, here's what happened this week in the world of 101 Things:
  • I finished one book.  It was a book that I received through the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.  If you are a reader (or collector of books like me), I can’t recommend LibraryThing enough.  It’s more than just a way to keep an inventory of your books – it’s great for recommendations, conversations and general book information. I’m owlie13 over there – check out my library!
    • Whiskers of the Lion by P.L. Gaus.  Set in Ohio, this book is part of the Amish-Country Mysteries series.  That sentence contains my main problem with this book.  Often when you jump into a series, you feel a little left out of the loop.  For this entire book, I felt like I was watching part two of a “to be continued” TV show or the second film of a trilogy.  I was expected to care about people I knew nothing about because all their backstory was in the previous episode.  The story itself was interesting, the setting was definitely interesting – I learned quite a bit about Amish culture – but I just had a hard time with feeling like I had missed the first 10 chapters of the story. So, definitely a mixed review.
  • Created my meal plan for the week (see prior post) and made most of the recipes. The one I’m counting as my new recipe for the week was Parmesan Crusted Chicken from Once Upon a Chef.  Delicious!  The chicken was moist, the breading stayed on the chicken, and by pounding the breasts thin and cutting them into smaller pieces, I was able to feed 4 people with 2 (large) breasts.  The fact they were thin also made them cook quite quickly. Another winner that will be added to our regular rotation of dinners.

  • Spent about 2 hours putting more of my Pinterest recipes into Plan to Eat and filling out the missing columns of my spreadsheet.  (201 out of 688 still to add to PTE).

That's it for this week. Come back next Saturday (or Sunday) for another exciting installment!

Friday, February 27, 2015

February SFS

Month: February
Carry-Over from January:  $2.50 = $27.50 to spend
: $28.98
Earned: 0

Sigh.  I go months without spending anything on my hobby, then when I am held accountable for my purchases, I go over budget by $1.48!!

Really though, it was just a misremembering of the rules.  I remembered something about magazines so thought they were exempt.  Nope.  Just subscriptions.  So that $11.99 I spent on a copy of Cross Stitch Crazy counted!  My other purchases included 2 patterns from Satsuma Street (Pretty Little Paris and London), fabric for those patterns, and 5 skeins of floss.

I'm going to try to be really good for March...

Monday, February 23, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - 2/23

I keep making attempts at Menu Planning.  I think I do this backwards from most people - I know others look through their pantry and fridge and find recipes to match the ingredients --- I find recipes and go shopping for things I don't have.  Keeps me more interested.  So, here's the plan for this week (subject to change if we don't feel like cooking).

Tuesday:  Mini Meatball Mac and Cheese  (This is the one most likely to get dropped - it looks like a lot of work...)

Wednesday:  Chicken Fried Chicken

Thursday:  Frito Pie Enchiladas (DH is really excited about this one)

Friday:  Joan's Chicken Stuffing Casserole (one of the many variations of this classic)

Sunday:  Simple Taco Burgers (we've had this before, and everyone loved it)

This is linked over at Menu Plan Monday - a great source of menu planning and ideas.

Next week I'll report back on how this week went - successes and failures!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Weekly Progress on 101 Things - 21 Feb 15

So, here's what happened this week in the world of 101 Things:

  • I read two books, both through Kindle Unlimited.  I'm not very good at book reviews, but I'm going to give it a try.
    • Witching You Were Here by Amanda M. Lee.  This is the third in a series about a family of witches in a very small Michigan town.  Lots of humor but it's not really a comedy.  A fairly quick read.  The setting is very important - it's winter and a major snowstorm plays a role.  If you don't like sarcasm, this is not the book for you.
    • Burning Man by Alan Russell.  Police procedural set in Los Angeles.  The protagonists are a detective and his dog.  In addition to the humans and canine, the weather - the Santa Ana Winds in particular - is also an important character.  I liked this one, and will pick up the second in the series.  The dialogue can be a little much (no one is that quick-witted) but a good story and interesting character development.
  • Created my meal plan for the week and stuck to it for the most part.  Did order out one night because we were both not interested in cooking. The new recipe was Triple Berry Baked Oatmeal from 5 Dollar Dinners.  It was heavenly.  My picture is not great - go to the website for a much better one.  I used frozen berries since fresh are either not available now or way too expensive and it worked great.  I had a piece for my lunch the next day - it's just as good at room temperature as it is hot.  Definitely putting this into the rotation.
  • This one isn't complete in that I haven't gone yet, but I did buy tickets to go see Eddie Izzard in June.  Went to his concert the last time he was in Seattle, and he puts on a great show. Absolutely hysterical. He's at the Paramount, which is a lovely restored theater. I can't wait!
That's it for this week. Come back next Saturday for another exciting installment!

Monday, February 16, 2015

New page - new ambitions

So, I added a new tab to the top of my blog - 101 things to do in 1001 days.  I've seen the idea on a few blogs, but I read one today that inspired me (link on the tab).  Travel, Crafting, Entertainment, Household, Miscellaneous.  I welcome any comments and suggestions!

We've had an incredibly mild winter this year - the temperature these past few days has been in the 60's with blue skies and white fluffy clouds.  I feel guilty when looking at the weather in other parts of the country.  Here's some shots of our backyard - some tiny buds on the neighbor's flowering tree, and our lovely purple heather.  Now I'm off to stitch on Blue Moon and enjoy the rest of my day off.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Dark Force - 7 hours

With illness, work, life, etc., it took 6 weeks to stitch 7 hours on this beast.  Hopefully I won't always be that slow!  So, here is Dark Force (Tilton Crafts), 25 ct. Stormy Clouds Lugana, 1 over 1.  887 stitches.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

January SFS post

Month:  January
Spent:  $22.50
Earned:  $0.00

I bought the fabric and floss for the Storytime Sampler from Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.  It's adorable!  I also bought the chart, but since it's a subscription chart, it is exempt.  I was happy to see shipping doesn't count - since it was $2.00 I would have been under budget anyway, but every $2.00 helps.  My only stitching so far has been about 350 stitches into Dark Force, but I'm not claiming credit for that yet.  On to February!

Monday, January 5, 2015

January WIPocalypse check-in

So, I have a tab up at the top with my WIPocalypse projects, and since I haven't done anything on them since I posted those pics, I'm not going to re-do them.

The question for today's check-in is:

Introduce yourself, your projects, and any goals you have for the year!

So, I'm Elaine and I live in Washington State.  I have a few hobbies, including scrapbooking and knitting, but for now, I'm concentrating on stitching.  Projects are listed on my side-bar and the afore-mentioned tab and are mostly biggies.  I also just signed up for my first "mystery" sampler by Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery and I'm going to include that, since I'd like to try to keep up with it.

As far as goals go, I'm going to try to stitch at least SOMETHING each day.  I do a 7-hour rotation and would love to rotate once a week, but knowing me, that's pretty ambitious.

Looking forward to a productive 2015!