Tuesday, August 31


Just a Public Service Announcement to let you know that the new Resident Evil movie comes out Sept 10th. There is no better zombie apocolypse fun in movie form (unless they make WWZ into a movie someday) - Milla Jovovich is awesome.


EDIT: This movie was awesome!! Loved it and highly recommend it!

Suggested Reading

Quick reading suggestion - especially for those of you who are crafty, have fabric stashes to use up, or who are looking for good Christmas ideas! Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule.

I honestly picked this book up only because it has instructions for making letter satchels. (HINT: if you know anyone in a long distance relationship of any kind, this is an awesome gift!) They don't cost a lot to buy online, but they looked pretty simple and I figured if I could get instructions I had to be able to do it myself!

Turns out it's got lots of other great stuff too (baby slings, CSA bags, super cute quilted hot pads, rag rugs, banners, curtains, etc). Your library should have it, and if you can sew at all it's worth picking up and flipping through. If you know anyone with kids, pass it along - they'll especially appreciate several of the "suitable for little hands" projects!

Also well worth the read is the my one brand-new-full-price book of the year: Good Girls Don't Have to Dress Bad by Shari Braendel. I usually prefer to get library books, and if something's good enough to own I buy it second hand off half.com or at one of my favorite used bookstores. But about once a year, something is good enough to pay real money for. This is it this year! Honestly not a fan of the title, but what's inside is great - especially if you're like me and you didn't inherit the style genes in your family! Lol.
This book tells you everything you need to know about how to get the most bang for your buck in taking care of yourself - what colors suit you best in clothes and makeup, what kind of clothes to pick to flatter your body type, how to determine your personal style and then find clothes that reflect it, how to pick hairstyles - you name it, Shari covers it. I learned the hard way at Panera that how you look counts as much as whether or not you're any good at what you do (sometimes more), so it's worth it to take care of yourself!
Anyway, nothing else of note. Just thought I'd pass these along, since they made me happy. Hope they are of benefit to you too!

Sunday, August 29

Inner Peace

This is from an email sent to me by my favorite aunt. Bookmark it to come back to whenever you need a smile!

I am passing this on to you because it definitely works and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives. By following simple advice heard on the Oprah show, you too can find innerpeace..

Dr. Oz proclaimed,"The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all things you have started and have never finished."

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning,I finished off a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Blackberry Brandi, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Vicodin prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of Dove chocolates.You have no idea how freaking good I feel right now!!

Saturday, August 28


So, we had this great plan. We were going to borrow a cute little Cessna, fly out to visit family, then fly back the next day. Great plan... until an unexpected event on their end made it a no-go.

No problem. Hundred dollar hamburgers in NH, here we come! (For those not familiar with that phrase, it is a tradition among pilots to fly somewhere, have lunch and fly home - just for the fun of flying. It's called a hundred dollar hamburger because that's the most frequently opted for food and by the time you add up the cost of getting there your $5 burger costs $100. Lol.) My college roomie introduced us previously to Kimble's, an amazing little burger/ice cream place in NH that just so happens to be across the street from a well maintained air strip. Ice cream sounded good to me... until the clouds that the radar service assured us weren't really there pushed safe flying level down below the top of the mountain we were supposed to fly over.

Right. Time to turn around!

Heading towards clear skies, we flew to Seneca Falls (with a brief stop in Oneonta, as my stomach still revolts at turbulence and I needed a short breather - I am so thankful to have a good pilot and a patient man for my husband!).

Here is my handsome aviator on the ground in Seneca Falls. In the background you can see the cute little Cessna we were borrowing. If something with that much power can properly be called "cute".

Our furry flight engineer, who suffers none of his mommy's queasiness and LOVES to fly.

This is a modified Ag-Cat (spelling questionable) that is used for crop dusting. It doesn't show up very well in the picture, but there's a little propeller under the main one that powers the pesticide pump and a string of little spouts rigged up under the wings.

The flight back was pretty smooth, with our autopilot friend "George" taking over the flight controls long enough to snap a picture that turned out much better than I expected!

Aviation days make me count my blessings - my precious husband and nitro puppy, a schedule that lets me fly with them, a stomach slowly acquiring turbulence management skills, access to rental planes and a good flight school for Eric, safe travels and friends to visit all over. What makes you count your blessings?

Brilliant Minds

I have heard it said that wise people surround themselves with people wiser than themselves so that they keep getting wiser, instead of foolish people they can vainly impress. That being the case, I try to make sure that in my online time I frequent the writings of those wiser than myself. Here are a few gems I've read recently that are well worth passing along.

1. On the truth about why we pay taxes, need building permits, and other daily iritations that seem out of place for free people managing their own homes and lives. By the insightful Enola Gay at Paratus Familia.

2. Counsel on one of the least discussed aspects of preparedness living. Also from Paratus Familia.

3. What they should really teach you when you go to college for a business degree, from the best online news source, WorldNetDaily.

4. Why Housewives Will Save the World. A brief reminder of the powder and beauty in being a woman (and a little inspirational boost) even though the economic, political and social outlooks are bleak. By the no-nonsense Patrice Lewis.

5. For the Wives: Completeing Him Challenge. Technically, this has finished in blogland, but I the ideas are timeless and I think they are especially appropriate as we head into one of the busiest seasons of the year. Take two minutes to read through the suggestions and see if a few of them wouldn't bless your marriage!

6. Last one - check out Audrey Aussad on youtube. I hadn't heard her before, but she has a beautiful voice and some great lyrics!


This first one is a super easy and fast recipe I didn’t expect to be impressed with but really liked. Considering that tortellini is pretty cheap and lasts forever, this is worth adding to your cookbook. Enjoy!

Tortellini Soup (serves 2)

Combine 5 oz tortellini (any flavor) with 3 cups chicken broth and Italian seasoning to taste. Simmer 7-12 min and serve with salad and/or bread.

Next up: No pictures, as mine weren’t exactly photo worthy, but boy did they taste good! Don’t try to eat them before bed – you won’t be able to sleep!

Caramel Popcorn Balls
1 quart popcorn
24 caramels
1 ½ cups rice krispies
1 ½ tbsp water
½ cup salted peanuts

Combine popcorn, krispies and peanuts and set aside. In a heavy saucepan over low heat, warm caramels and water until melted. Pour over popcorn mixture and stir to coat. Using (heavily) buttered hands, shape into 3” balls and set on waxed paper to cool.

Monday, August 23

PSA for Parents

I wanted to post really quickly on something that was brought to mind again today that seems timely considering the imminent start of a new school year.

A wide range of organizations and services - including many elementary schools - sell or hand out Child Identification Kits which walk parents through the process of collecting finger prints, pictures, hair samples and/or other identifying information for your child. Their purported purpose is to make your child safer by already having in place (often submitted directly and immediately to the school or police department) all the information potentially needed to help locate your child should they be kidnapped or go missing.

This is a very bad idea. Please do not comply!

Although many organizations do actually believe they are helping, you are putting your child at risk by participating in these programs. There are no laws protecting your child's information once it has been submitted; in fact, the laws on the books allow that information to passed along - without your knowledge or consent - to multiple government (and pseudo-governmental) agencies and researchers for a variety of uses. This is not fear-mongering; I was startled enough when I found out about these that I have actually done the research. This is happening in our country right now to many people's detriment.

If you genuinely feel you must have one of these kits made up for your child, keep it in a safe place only you can access (think home safe or safe deposit box). Should something ever actually happen to your child, you'll still have all the relevant information immediately available, without having unnecessarily exposed your child's private personal information to misuse.

Sunday, August 22

I finished it!!!

This isn't the best picture, but I finished my quilt! (Okay, technically, for all you other quilters I finished my quilt top. The backing/binding class isn't until November, but I'm really excited!) I now understand why I've heard so many people are *ahem* not fans, shall we say, of applique. It takes freaking forever! My goodness! Once I accepted that it was going to take forever, though, I didn't mind so much. By the time I was done I was even decently good at it. :0)

Other new things this week include my first attempt at Canteloupe Marmalade (isn't that color amazing?) and Iced Cantaloupe Soup (right), referenced in a previous post. Another new addition to my cookbook is Bourbon Chicken (that ironically contains no bourbon). No pictures of that one, but I highly recommend checking it out. Fast, easy and delicious. Also, it requires nothing you aren't already likely to have in the house.

Finally, today's book recommendation: Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. I haven't finished it yet, but it's proving to be a very interesting read. I am suprised that as a hospitality major who was raised in the church I know so little of the background the author is providing, and amused by the irony of her suggestion that it was the hospitality industry that largely killed true hospitality.
That's all that's new here for now. *hugs*

PSA for the Ladies

Being a Mary Kay Lady has taught me lots I never knew about taking care of my skin, and I hope that as I learn more I can pass along helpful tips to everyone else. Did you know that your skin care needs change with the seasons?

If you have a beauty consultant, you should schedule a check-in with her at least every six months, just to verify that you're using the correct products for your current needs. Skin tones can change enough from summer to winter that you may actually need different shades of foundation. You may want to use a different kind of foundation, or add a supplemental moisturizer in the winter if you spend a lot of time outside or in a very dry office. Consider asking for a demo of dual-use items like bronzers and highlighting creams that can speed up and simply your morning beauty routine if you expect to have rushed mornings or plan to do a lot of traveling in the near future.

If you prefer not to have a beauty consultant, that's okay too! Just take five minutes before school starts up again to go through your makeup drawer. Throw out items that are expired or that you no longer use. Do a streak test to make sure your foundation color is correct, and note of any problems or annoyances you find with you skin so that you can adjust your skin care regimen appropriately.

These are just a couple of things I've been doing personally that have helped me a lot, and I hope they help you too!

Saturday, August 21

A Brief Request

Flipping through the circulars that come in the mail, one sees pages and pages of cheerful back-to-school tags for everything from pencils and backpacks to college dorm decor in a rainbow of colors. To look at it, one would think that the return to our nation's hallowed halls of learning is as festive and anticipated event as Halloween or Christmas.

Yet recent reading (here and here, especially), conversations and news stories have made me well aware that our schools are not the safe havens of education and development that we want them to be - for our children or their teachers.

So as we approach the upcoming school year, will you take a few minutes to pray for the year to come? Ask specifically for phyiscal, emotional and spiritual safety and protection for the students and teachers as they head back into the drama and chaos of a school system that doesn't recognize God and has it's hands so tied by politics, greed and twisted legalities as to be almost helpless in the face of rebellion and violence. Thank you.

Friday, August 20

Iced Cantaloupe Soup

The only chilled soup I've ever enjoyed was a cold apple soup I made in cooking lab years ago. But, blessed with a giant cantaloupe in our CSA box, I decided to try Iced Cantaloupe Soup.

Verdict? Super easy, suprisingly rich and refreshing. This is one of those great recipes that present so beautifully that everyone feels spoiled and decadent, while remaining happily ignorant of how madly easy it was for you to make! Throw it in the martini glasses you picked up at Christmas Tree Store for 50 cents apiece, drop a couple raspberries on top of and it's looks and tastes first class. I love recipes like that!

Thursday, August 19

Reader Beware

Perhaps it's only because my mother has been a reading teacher my whole life, but as a reader I am innately tuned to notice - and be annoyed by - articles, essays and books whose actual message does not line up with what the author or genre purports to be or stand for.

The impetus for this post was Keep Our Food Safe. By definition, any organization with that name should be promoting valid, verifiable information and good decision making in regards to food. Yet, the first two articles on the page (although written in a cheery, unassuming tone) encourage exactly the opposite effect! Who on earth with any working knowledge of the modern food safety system can, in good conscience, report that antibiotics used in food production are a good thing? And what kind of lunatic do you need to be to claim that the USDA's increased involvement in ANYTHING is an improvement?!

I won't go into the extensive rant that this nonsense prompts. Instead, I will simply remind everyone to please take everything you read with a grain of salt; if it's food related, you'll need a lot more than a grain with all the lies out there! If you have children, please take the time to teach them critical reading skills as well. We may not have the power to prevent misinformation from being intentionally fed to us, but we don't have to swallow it!

Tuesday, August 17

Rice Balls

When Eric was stationed in Japan, he told me about buying rice balls as a snack. Having never seen or heard of them around here, and being incapable of cooking rice, I proceeded to completely forget about them for several years.

Then, this week, while looking for something new and different to make I remembered them! Being blessed with a rice steamer now, I happily looked up some recipes. As all the Japanese versions I could find required seaweed which I (shockingly) don't stock in my pantry, so I turned to the Italian versions. We were quite pleased with how they turned out, and I think they'd be great at holiday parties when you want to bring something different, not expensive and not bad for you. Lol.

So here's the basic recipe to try:
Rice (cooked)
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese, small diced

Toss your slightly cooled (cooked) rice in a bowl with a handful of breadcrumbs. (It might actually stick together if you use cold rice.) Liberally season with oregano, basil or your preferred combination of Italian spices. Add one egg to the mixture and combine well. You should have a meatball-like consistency. If not, adjust breadcrumbs or egg amounts accordingly.

Take a 1 tbsp scoop of your rice mixture and form it into a ball around a small cube of mozzarella. Repeat until all the rice has been used.

For a crispier outside, heat a thin layer of oil in a skillet and fry the balls until golden, turning as needed.

For a healthier option, oil a glass baking dish with olive oil and line up the balls therein. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and bake at 400* until golden.

Serve with marinara sauce on the side!

Lemon Blueberry Cake with Hot Honey Butter Sauce

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh lemon rind
1 cup fresh blueberries, wild

Hot Honey-Butter Sauce
1/2 cup cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup honey, orange blossom,clover (or your favourite)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 8" square pan.
Blend flour, nutmeg, salt and baking powder together. In a small bowl mix milk, lemon juice and rind together.
In a large bowl cream butter with sugar.
Gradually add 2 eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla, beating until light and fluffy.
Alternately add flour mixture and milk remembering to blend lightly.
Gently fold in blueberries.
Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
Remove from pan and cool slightly.

To Make the Sauce:

In small pan mix water and cornstarch blend well then gradually add honey, butter and lemon juice. Boil over low heat, stirring occasionally. Sauce is ready when thick and clear. Pour hot sauce over the warm cut cake and enjoy!

The latest addition to my cookbook! If you have a jumbo muffin tin or individual sized ramekins, I highly recommend baking this cake in those for individual sized servings. It's quite rich so you won't need a lot, and it makes for great presentation.

Recipe compliments of Food.com (formerly Recipezaar). Serves six as is, but for easy scaling of ingredients check out the actual posting here.

Monday, August 16

Christian Symposium on Aliens

I bet that title got your attention! Who even knew there WAS a Christian Symposium on Aliens? Funny that it didn't show up in the weekly church bulletin next to reminders of other annual events like Kingdom Bound and the church play...

This is a multi-part video that you can watch on youtube (I haven't finished watching it yet), but the mere reality that there is such a symposium and that the gentleman giving the talk has a best selling, extremely positively reviewed book (Unholy Communion) piqued my interest and I had to share! Anyone want to go with me to next year's symposium?!

Sunday, August 15


A brief, well written exploration on the plight of modern teenagers here. I subject close to my heart after seven years of working with high school and college students. Where our grandparents and great grandparents were married with homes, jobs and trade skills by 18 or 21 we now find young adults hampered by dozens of laws and expectations that ultimately only prevent them from moving forward and contribute to the mess that is modern society. Worth reading if you get a minute.

Saturday, August 14

The Degeneration of Art & Education

When did art go from richly textured acts of beauty captured on canvas and stone to (literally, in many unfortunate cases) the crap on display in modern museums?

If you haven't checked out Ladies Against Feminism, I highly recommend it. Not only will it feed your brain's need for intellectual stimulation, but it's postings of real art related to the post subjects will feed your need to see something beautiful as well.

As for the degeneration of education, I was appalled yesterday to catch a snippet of the History channel's WWII in HD. Why? Because I learned more in five minutes about WWII than I ever learned in all the years I was in school! While I am not uninformed on the fact that textbooks are written selectively, I remain amazed at all the things that would have held and piqued my interest in school that were never taught. Did you know that the Bataan Death March happened because General MacArthur pulled out under cover of night, abandoning the troops in the Phillipines? Did you know that the marines at Guadalcanal were also abandoned for five weeks, alone on a Japanese infested island with no supplies, backup or reinforcements? Did you even know where Guadalcanal was?

The more I learn, the more I empathize with homeschooling families who prefer to teach their children about life through a love of reading and personal interest than through standardized text books. It's easy to see how someone pursuing a love of any subject could easily master other less intrinsically interesting subjects when they are worked in as related to the subject of choice.

On an only somewhat related note, if you're like me and have a tendancy to loan out books from your personal library, you may have noticed a need for bookplates to stick in the front to make sure they get returned to you. Which, of course, would have led to wincing when you looked at the price tag attached to said lovely plates (such as the elegant but expensive examples here). I am delighted, then, to share FREE bookplates available here. There are a number of fun designs in a variety of sizes, including a children's section if you have any little people in your life that you're trying to encourage to love reading.

Anywho, that's enough out of me for now. Eric's on base for Guard Drill this weekend and my list of things to do is long. To say nothing of the unloved puppy at my feet, hoping to get out for a run. More later!

Friday, August 13

The Colors of Summer

This summer, I am more aware of the bountiful colors and rich flavors of summer than I can ever remember being before. I credit the change to this being the first summer I'm not up to my elbows in bbq's (the menu of choice at Sodexho) or salads (Panera).

The credit may more appropriately be due to our CSA, however. This week's box came with enough beautiful flowers for me to make two complete bouquets!

It also came with two foods I don't usually eat: cantaloupe and cabbage. But I threw some cantaloupe in the blender with milk, ice and a touch of honey and it came out as a mellow, sweet smoothie of ridiculously-good-for-you proportions... I don't forsee it lasting very long!

As for cabbage, I've got a list of new recipes lined up and we'll see how it goes. First up was cabbage baked in a cream sauce. Verdict: very nice. So 1/3 of a cabbage down, 1 and 2/3 to go! (If you have a favorite cabbage recipe, please send it my way!)


If you have children or have ever watched Mythbusters, you'll appreciate this link.

And if you've ever known a teenage boy, you'll like this one.

Tuesday, August 10

Would You Like Excedrin with That?

Some books need to come with a side of Excedrin. (I've read a few that should have come with Codeine, but out of respect for my classics-loving friends, I won't name them.)

This would be one of those books. Not because it's a bad book - on the contrary, it's incredibly well researched and employs impressive vocabulary. Rather because the subject matter is so grave and so frustrating that you want to reach into the book and shake people bodily for their intentional refusal to acknowledge reality. Not being able to do so leads to headaches and, hence, the drugs.

If you are less masochistic than I, you may want to start with something by Aayan Hirsi Ali or Oriana Fallaci and work your way up to treatises like this one. Either way, if you've never read on the subject of the Islamification of the West, please think about doing so. What you find will change how you see your world forever.

Sunday, August 8

Love Letter Day

Just a PSA (public service announcement) to let everyone know that the 10th of every month is Love Letter Day! Started by Michelle at Loving From A Distance, this is such a great idea!

Everybody knows somebody who could use to be reminded how much they are loved. So consider picking someone you know and sending them a little note, card or ecard this Tuesday!

Spicy Pickled Green Beans

A new favorite treat discovered this summer that I want to share. Makes approximately 4 1-quart jars.

4 lb green beans
5 cups water
5 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup mustard seeds
1/4 dill seeds or 8-12 stalks fresh dill
1/4 cup pickling salt
8 cloves garlic, peeled
8 small hot chili peppers or 4 tsp dried chili flakes (optional)

Trim the stem ends from the beans and cut to jar length if necessary. When standing upright the beans should be about 1 inch below the rim of the jar.
Prepare preserving jars.
Combine the water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to keep the liquid at a simmer.
Working with one jar at a time, place 1 tbsp each of mustard seeds, dill seeds and salt, 2 cloves of garlic, and 2 hot peppers or 1 tsp of flakes in each jar. Pack the beans tightly into the jar. The easiest way is to lay the jar on its side and place the beans in by small handfuls. As it fills up, stand it upright and add additional beans one by one. (Wide-mouth jars as really good if available.) Packing the beans tightly prevents them from floating when done (which doesn't really matter, but is a nice aesthetic).
Carefully pour the hot vinegar solution over the beans to 1" from rim. Release air bubbles. Add additional solution, leaving 14" head space. Wipe rims clean and apply lids.
Process in boiling water bath for 10 min.

Picture available here.

Saturday, August 7

Creative Cooking

As shared in a previous post, I have acquired a copy of Mrs. Beeton's Household Management, the definitive book on life in the nineteenth century. I am very much enjoying it, and wanted to share some of the fantastic recipes I've encountered therein:

Parrot Pie (may substitute parakeets as available)
Kangaroo (bush style, jugged, curried or soup)
Irish Moss (yes, it really is what is sounds like)
Calf's Foot, Stewed
Roasted Pigeons
Pig's Head, Boiled
Pig's Kidneys, Grilled
Pig's Pettitoes, Fried
Stuffed Pig's Ears
Sheep's Tongues, Braised
Ox Cheek, Stuffed
Potted (Calf's) Head

Needless to say, none of these will be showing up on our menu any time soon. On the bright side, the book contains dozens of recipes for veggie dishes and pastries that do look quite delectable. And, I suppose, it is a comfort to know that should TEOTWAWKI hit any time soon I'll be the only one running around with actual recipes for available food sources like pigeons instead of figuring it out the hard way!

**For those unfamiliar with apocolyptic jargon, TEOTWAWKI stands for The End of the World as We Know It, and may be freely swapped with any alternative equivalent term of your preference.**

Friday, August 6

Quick Tip

As weird as it sounds, I recently encountered a great tip for keeping lettuce fresh. Instead of sticking it in your fridge, cut a little bit off the bottom and stick it in a vase or bowl of cool water, just like you would flowers.
We tried it, and I can attest that this method keeps greens crisp and tasty much longer than your fridge!
Maybe everyone else already knew this, but considering all the lettuce rolling in at this time of year I figured it was worth sharing. :0)

Thursday, August 5

Food Security

If you're new to the idea of preparedness living or just want to find out what the fuss is all about, Food Security for the Faint of Heart by Robin Wheeler is a great place to start. Written in a friendly tone using lay-person terms, it's a neat introduction to essentials like gardening, food preservation, etc. It may pique your interest, provide good resource suggestions for more information, or be the nudge you need to take those practical steps you've been putting off.

Possibly the best part of the whole thing is the positive tone the author maintains throughout. Ms. Wheeler is neither a fear mongerer nor militant about her views. Her generous attitude and consistent reassurances that preparedness does not have to include a full arsenal and guards always on duty to protect your food supply are a gentle and welcome change from many preparedness resources and a softer way to ease yourself into valid and vital information.

Quick Top Ten

I've seen this list a couple places, but it's worth passing along. Everyone's on a budget, and the more information we have the better our choices, right?

Top Ten Most Contaminated Foods
1. Strawberries
2. Peaches
3. Pears
4. Celery
5. Grapes
6. Apples
7. Spinach
8. Winter squash
9. Green Beans
10. Wheat

Kind of depressing that some of the healthiest and most kid friendly foods we enjoy appear on there. So if at all possible, buy the produce above from local and/or organic farms or markets. Just focusing on those ten things will drastically reduce the pesticide and chemical contamination in your food!

Sunday, August 1

100th Post!

This marks the 100th post on our blog! Though I'm not talented enough to have shiny give-aways or anything, it's still exciting. :0) I am entertained and pleased by the growing number of people I catch up with on the phone who tell me they've been keeping up with us via this blog, so it is serving it's purpose well!

Since yesterday was an airplane day, today was a kitchen day. I made a point of trying several things I've been putting off or just not getting around to. Overall, the results were pretty good.

First up, Angel Food Cake. Yes, it's very flat. Regardless of what they tell you, absolutely nothing can be used cup-for-cup as a sugar replacement in any kind of baking that is supposed to end up light and fluffy. I tried stevia here as an experiment and you can see how it turned out. So it tasted good, but in the future there will be no substitutions.

Next up, homemade salsa. I saw this recipe years ago on the Mennonite Girls Can Cook site and have wanted to try it ever since. Finally, miraculously having everything in the house at once I had to have a go at it. Result? Not bad. But not worth replacing canned salsa with unless I both tweak it (more onions, more garlic, more vinegar) and find a way to can it.
Most excitingly, I made bagels! Cinnamon raisin, to be precise. They were not nearly as hard as I anticipated and I look forward to making them often! Whole grain and sweetened only with honey, I can make all kinds of varieties off my base recipe. Yeah!

From the reading list- feel free to skip both of the books I've most recently picked up: Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans and Vagabonds (about Mexican immigration) and Plague Year. MBOV was true to it's purpose, but made me nauseous. Remember in Braveheart when Longshanks said the problem with Scotland was that it was full of Scots? And that the best way to fix the problem was to forcibly breed them out? According to MBOV, that is essentially the same philosophy that the Mexican people have used since the Spaniards' initial landing in the New World. Breed themselves into the ranks of everyone they encounter to confuse the social order and integrate their way of life into that of every place they go. While I'm all for a melting pot, forcing your children to breed prolifically with everyone they can in a new society you wish to control without concern for any moral code is revolting. My personal opinion. Plague year I also failed to finish, mostly due to the constant emphasis on cannibalism and complete lack of any noble morals. I think my apocolypic reading will have to stick to zombie literature. At least there people do not eat people (usually), and usually mankind is involved in a unifying struggle for survial, not fractionally tearing itself apart over petty things.

Other than that, not much to report. We inherited some pretty flower pots and garden style candle holders for a balcony from a neighbor who no longer needed them. More than anywhere else we've lived, the balconies in this complex are laden with flowers, lawn chairs, grills and other decor. They are very personalized, and our poor balcony has been looking a little lonely with just our camp chairs. I look forward to filling it out a little and making good use of it before the winter closes in!

Speaking of winter, consider this a cheerful reminder that today officially marks the beginning of August. The last month of summer is upon us. By this time of year, Victorian women had already started planning for Christmas! So before you head out to buy school supplies, sit down at your desk and make a list of all the things you wanted to do this summer that you haven't done yet. Pick at least three and write them on your calendar for this month. There's still sunshine and warm days - make the most of them!