Monday, November 26, 2007

New Reviews

A Prince Among Dogs

Giver of Gifts

The Will of Wisteria

Finding Father Christmas

My favorite of the bunch is The Will of Wisteria. A great story!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Book Prize Pack Giveaway

I am offering up a prize pack of three brand new Navpress titles!

Around the World in 80 Dates by Christa Ann Banister
From the Back Cover
Sydney Alexander is a travel writer. She's a very well-dressed travel writer--hasn't yet met a shoe or clearance sale she could pass up. She's funny. She's got a great relationship with her sis. She's got a hilarious best friend, Rain, who happens to be a hippie. And she's got a wonderful relationship with God. So what's missing?

A decent date. A date where she doesn't have to pay because he's "between jobs." A date where she's not fabulously fashionably ready to go only to learn "the band just got a last-minute gig" and he has to cancel. A date she wants to kiss good night--not run screaming from.

My Beautiful Disaster by Michelle Buckman

Book Description
Dixie Chambers is an average high school girl who's just been granted access into the popular crowd. Sucked into a world that resembles one big party, Dixie falls into an intimate relationship with local rock star Vince Evans. But as his nice-guy facade begins to slip, she discovers that Vince is a better actor than musician.

Making matters much worse, Dixie learns that she's pregnant. Terrified of her family's response, and fearful of what her friends will think, she faces a tough decision that will change her life forever.

Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson

From the Back Cover
Scotty Dawn has all the freedom a fifteen-year-old girl could want. As she and her mom, Charley, travel to movie sets for Charley's work, Scotty's allowed to go anywhere and be anything. But there are costs to such a life. Scotty doesn't know who she is, where she comes from, or who to trust. And who is the mysterious man they've been running from? Does he hold the clue to Charley's big secret?

Scotty writes in her Hollywood Nobody blog, and the answers she finds are darker than she had expected. Will she discover who she can trust and finally make sense of her world?

To Enter, leave a comment below, including a way for me to contact you.
If you are unable to leave a comment, send me an e-mail at parcelhome[at]comcast[dot]net with your name and e-mail address.
I will close entries on December 2 and draw for a winner. Good luck!

Congratulations to Gayla for winning this drawing!!
Everyone else, be on the lookout for more in the future.

Walgreens savings today

I got some great deals at Walgreens today. Thanks to Money Saving Mom for getting me pointed in the right direction!

Glucerna cereal $4.49, you get $4.49 register rewards (coupon good for that price on your next visit. So it was free, stacked it with a $1.25 off coupon, and made $1.25 on the deal.

Hersheys Special Dark Candy Bars. Used coupon from the Walgreens ad 4/$1. Stacked with a coupon from this Sunday's paper for Special Dark B1G1, which made the total 2 for .25

Sunsilk Creme TLC--$1.89 on clearance, I used a $2.00 off coupon I had clipped quite a while ago and made .11 on the deal .

L'Oreal Vive Conditioner--$2.19 on clearance. I used a $2.00 off coupon I had received when I got a free sample of this in the mail, so I got the conditioner for .19.

Fasprin--$3.99 mail-in EasySaver Rebate. I bought it with a coupon for $1.00 off that I found in Parade magazine yesterday. So when I get my rebate, I will have made $1.00 (minus the cost of the stamp)

Coffee Mate creamer. B1G1 coupon from Walgreens ad--made it 2/$2.19, stacked on a .50 coupon and got them for .85 each.

I need to start being more diligent about going there. I also got a great deal on the very expensive Shaper hairspray that I love...the super-giant can was on sale for $11, which is the price I usually pay for the regular sized can on sale (if I can find a sale). I was very pleased about that deal too.

Cows Unite!

During this past year, we have totally switched over to organic dairy products, and Organic Valley is one of our preferred brands. They have a new "Cows Unite" website (see ad at sidebar). It is free to join and if you do, please use me as a referral (so I can win some coupons or even free milk) parcelhome[at]comcast[dot]net

The cows will thank you!

If you want more information about why you should switch to organic dairy products, check this out: There is some great info about organic foods and why to switch.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

I saw this on the Martha Stewart show last week and it looked so good I had to try it!

It's a really moist, delicious cake, but could probably stand a little bit of frosting. A cream cheese frosting drizzle would be really good.

For the pumpkin, I used the remainder of the pie pumpkin that I had bought and cooked up. Yum. I saved the seeds and am going to plant some and see if I can get them to grow.

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Bundt Cake
From Martha Stewart Show
Nonstick cooking spray, for pan
4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for dusting
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 14-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Dust with flour, and tap out excess.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
3. Beat butter and brown sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to low. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Beat until just combined. Add pumpkin puree, and beat until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
4. Bake cake until golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Carefully turn cake onto rack too cool completely. Before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar.
First published November 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Scavenger Hunt

There's a fun scavenger hunt going on...check out the link at the side of the page!


We get a lot of kale, collard greens, swiss chard, turnip greens, whatever greens in our CSA share. I have tried quite a few ways to make it and although my family will eat anything I make, they haven't loved it...until now. This recipe was a HUGE hit with everyone in the family, and I even had to divide it between their plates so that one person didn't eat it all. I got this from a farm blog:

Garlicky Braised Kale with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Serves 2

Braising softens kale, which will be a little tough and leathery if undercooked. Unfortunately, kale also loses its bright green color when properly cooked. As a variation, try using the pretty new variety of kale called cavolo nero, or Tuscan kale, in this recipe. Or use young turnip greens. You can also vary this recipe by sautéing onions or bacon with the garlic, or by adding red pepper flakes.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, cut in half, smashed, and peeled
2 Tbs. finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, well drained ( I used my own, reconstituted)

7 oz. stemmed kale leaves (from about 1/2 large bunch kale), washed and cut into 1-inch ribbons
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup low-salt chicken stock (canned is ok)
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 ounce crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a 3- to 4-qt. soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring, until starting to brown, 2 to 3 min. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the kale, tossing to coat it well with the oil. Season with the salt and a few grinds of pepper, and continue stirring until all the kale is wilted. Add the stock, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the kale has softened, about 8 min. Uncover, turn the heat to high, and boil away the remaining liquid, stirring frequently, until the pan is almost dry. Take the pan off the heat. Season with the vinegar and stir to combine. Transfer to a small serving dish or plates. Top with the crumbled goat cheese, if you like.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

September and October's Reads

135. Passing Gas and Getting Paid for it by Bart Borsky B
136. Miss Match by Eryn Mangum B-
137. The Year of the Goat by Margaret Hathaway B-
138. Woman in Red by Eileen Goudge B-
139. Momzillas by Jill Kargman C+ TBR
140. Posh by Lucy Jackson C+ TBR
141. Between Sundays by Karen Kingsbury B-
142. Chill Out, Josey! by Susan May Warren B-
143. Within This Circle by Deborah Raney C+
144. What Lies Within by Karen Ball B
145. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks B- TBR
146. Every Woman's Battle by Shannon Etheridge B+ TBR
147. Mediterranean Summer by Dave Shalleck B TBR
148. Living in a Foreign Language by Michael Tucker C
149. Healing Stones by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn A
150. Waiting to Surface by Emily Listfield C+ TBR
151. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen B TBR
152. Solemnly Swear by Nancy Moser C
153. Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs B- TBR
154. For Better or For Worse by DiAnn Mills C+
155. Death of a Six Foot Teddy Bear by Sharon Dunn B-/C+
156. Reluctant Smuggler by Jill Elizabeth Nelson B-
157. Wishpers of the Bayou by Mindy Starns Clark B+
158. Skizzer by AJ Keisling C+
159. Double Blind by Hannah Alexander B-
160. The Good Nearby by Nancy Moser B- TBR

13. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini B
14. In the Woods by Tana French C
15. Still Summer by Jacquelyn Mitchard B

What's Up With Me?

Thought I'd provide a long-overdue update. Here's what is going on in my life right now.

1. Still reviewing a lot. I am way overloaded with books, despite my best intentions to slow down and stop requesting so many books, I am still doing it. I guess it is a little better, but not so much that I would really notice. And I have slowed way down on my reading too...I have read 13 books for Aug, Sept, and October, where in those months last year I averaged 15 books. Fall is definitely slower for me than summer because I'm much more busy with school, volunteering, and such, but I just feel slower with reading than usual.

2. Our family situation is still tenuous. We're a little more distanced than we were in August and September, but it's still painful and truly deeply needing prayer. God is the only one who can help us through it, and only He can work the miracle that needs to be done.

3. We have embarked on Dave Ramsey 's Total Money Makeover plan. At the beginning of October, we went to see Dave live in Portland. It was totally inspirational, and since we already had the books we have been motivated to jump in full force. We had already completed baby step 1, which is set up a $1000 emergency fund. At the end of October, we made a budget, and after bills we are using cash for food and everything else. We cut up our one credit card, and are making steps to not create further debt as well as pay off our current debt using the debt snowball method. This is very exciting, because for the first time we are both on the same page about this.

4. We finished our summer of the CSA and decided to keep with it through the winter. Overall, it doesn't end up much more expensive than buying organic vegetables from the store, and it forces me to be creative in incorporating vegetables into our daily diet.

5. Other than the above things, volunteering at the kids' school, driving kids to and from gymnastics, as well as teaching women's Bible study, has kept me incredibly busy this fall.

I really hope to keep this more up to date, but I won't make any promises.