Thursday, March 14, 2013

100 in 2013 update

Oh my goodness I have been reading so slow the last few weeks. I don't know if it's the weather, or the books I'm picking, but I am just struggling with everything I pick up lately, no matter how much I am enjoying the story. Anyways, all that is to say I have a couple more books to review finally.

I needed something fiction to read after struggling my way through Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The Blood Gospel by James Rollins had caught my eye as soon as I'd read the synopses  so I decided to give that a go next.

It was really good. Kind of The Davinci Code with vampires (except I never actually read The Davinci Code). Three unlikely partners end up in the epic race against the bad guys to find and open the book referred to only as The Blood Gospel. It has archaeological digs, Russian bad guys, and the Vatican all in one book. It's definitely action-y without much downtime so it was a pretty quick read. I recommend it to anyone who likes a good action mystery. Next week I'll review the Revenants series by Amy Plum.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Homemade Laundry Soap

I've decided I'm going to try a new posting schedule. We'll see how it goes....

After seeing so many pins on Pinterest for how to make your own laundry soap, I decided to give it a try. I started wading through all the recipes, but being someone who makes my own soap from oils and lye and water, I just could see grating down a bar of someone else's soap to make "my own" laundry detergent. Plus I really don't like using my food prep utensils for soap making, and grating soap with my cheese grater or food processor just weirds me out.

So after reading the posts, it looked like people were using these bar soaps to boost the stain removing power of the detergent, so I started scouring the internet trying to find a different solution. It came to me ironically while I was reading someone's blog post (honestly I'm not sure which blog had the link), but it took me to a site with a lot vintage American women's magazine articles with tips, including using cream of tartar as a stain remover!

So all of that is to say I tried out this recipe in a half batch first, and have been using it for the last several months, and LOVE it! I used this recipe for my base, and adapted from there. Here is my recipe for laundry soap (without grating a bar of soap):

You will need

6 cups Borax

4 cups Baking Soda

4 cups Washing Soda

4-5 oz Cream of Tartar (about 2 spice jars)

I also use a large bowl and spoon that I do not use for food prep (personal preference)

Mix everything together until it is well combined

 And you will of course need a container to put your finished laundry soap in. I loved this large mason style jar. I found mine on sale at Fred Meyer, but I've seen them at several stores. You could also use a plastic tub, or any kind of glass jar or ceramic container.

Gently spoon your finished mixture into your container of choice.

And voila! You have a giant jar of laundry detergent. Like I said earlier in this post I made a half batch of this  several months ago to test out the recipe. It lasted me about 6 months, and I loved it! 

I have had no problems getting clothes clean, and there is no sticky residue. If you do ever put in too much soap, you can always add a few tablespoons of white vinegar to your rinse cycle. It gets out any extra soap with no gross vinegar smell or heavy perfumes from fabric softeners. I've found it also helps keep my washing machine from smelling mildewy.

What do you guys think? Have you tried making your own household cleaners?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Off the wagon

So obviously I fell off the good blogger wagon. It was bound to happen eventually I guess. I'm just starting a new work schedule, and it's definitely kicking my butt. I have no clue what day of the week it is most days.

Last weekend the hubby and I volunteered downtown Seattle. Happily I was able to sneak in a little shopping on my breaks. I'm finding since I did such a huge overhaul on my closet (which is still constantly being whittled down. Hey- it's hard to get rid of two thirds of your closet all in one go.) That I am much more conscious of what I am buying. Not even so much about avoiding filling my closet back up, but about making sure that I really love not only the cut, but the COLOR. I found all of a sudden, though I've always been fairly careful about the color of clothing I'm buying, it has become one of my main deciding factors.

Anyways- I went shopping last weekend, and was actually pretty picky about what I bought. Here are some of my faves:

New are the cardigan and scarf, both in teal. I bought the cardigan in black as well, and the scarf in a dove grey. But I'm mostly excited about the teal. :) I also happened to make it to this store:

Which is dangerous and awesome all at the same time. I had picked out several pairs of heels online that I wanted to try on in store. Ironically I tried all of them on and didn't  love a single pair. I also tried on a pair I hadn't seen online, but they didn't have my size in the right color, so the sales lady brought them out in a nude color to get the right size. As soon as I had them on my feet I was in love!

So that was my recent shopping success.What have you all been up to lately?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Word Count Challenges

So last week was very similar to the week before. And because I watched Beauty and the Beast recently, I am now singing "Something There" in my head... Yea this is my life.

Anyways.... There was of course more of the cleaning/organizing, and happily there was more of the writing. The hubby suggested it would be fun we celebrate at each of these general word count guides (and may help encourage my writing on a more consistent basis):

ClassificationWord count
Novelover 40,000 words
Novella17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette7,500 to 17,500 words
Short storyunder 7,500 words

Unfortunately I forgot to check my word count this morning. It was over 5,000 this last week. :) I will post it on Wednesday with my book reviews for the week.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Some more weekend cleaning and finally some writing!

The hubby and I spent another weekend cleaning. This time working on clearing out our office. Several bags of garbage and donations later and we can finally walk around in the office again. It feels good to have that space clean, and to have a desk I can work at again. I always forget how HUGE my desk is (although based on the amount of crap I can pile on my desk I really shouldn't...).

It's helped me to pick up my notebook again to start working on A Dark Night (working title). I wasn't quite ready to face the computer yet and the 1500 words I had some how lost. Luckily, because I've always preferred handwriting to typing things, when I went to start writing for the next chapter, I found that I had handwritten most of the last scene that I had lost! It feels amazing to have that back, and not have to start from scratch. I was able to get some time last night to go in and retype that scene in the end of the first chapter so I can officially move on to the second chapter without that nagging at the back of my mind.

Hopefully that will also give me the confidence to start working in Scrivner. So far all I've done is upload my first and second chapter documents. The program was a little overwhelming when I first opened it with all the stuff you can do, and because during the uploading process is when I found the 1500 words missing. Now that that is resolved though, I should be able to move forward, and start posting word counts again.

So to start that off, as of this morning I have 4,903 words. :)

How was your weekend?

Monday, February 11, 2013

A home purge and book review

Good morning-

Sorry I was out most of last week, I caught an awful stomach bug and only started feeling human again yesterday. But the return of health also means a return of chores. Boo!

The hubby and I cleaned out more of our closets on Saturday and went through all of our bedding. We ended up with 4 garbage bags worth for donation and 4 garbage bags worth of trash. It feels nice to get that big of a load out of the apartment. Next I'll work on clearing out all the extra hangers we now have!

Now because I missed it last week here are the book reviews from the rest of the books I have finished since my last book review.

So I read the first two of the Daughter's of the Moon series. They were nice quick reads, only about 300 pages each. They are definitely a little on the young side of young adult writing as far as the depth of the writing goes, but they have some violence and sexual themes that definitely keep them in the YA category. The stories are about teenage girls who are goddesses dealing with normal high school issues but, also receive a power from being a daughter of the moon goddess. They have to fight an ancient evil to help keep balance in the world, all while dealing with popularity and boy problems and finding out who you are. I would have read the third book in this series, but I got a little ways into the book, only to find there was a misprint and the book was missing about 30 pages.

So I moved on to the next book. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. 

When I was first reading the description for this book, I didn't realize it was a true crime novel. The author took some artistic liberties with the telling, but this was an actual murder that took place, while John Berendt was living part time in Savannah. I love a good murder mystery so I decided to give it a shot. I was a little disappointed that it was not as detailed as fiction murder story would be. It had more of a true life flow to the story with a couple of supporting stories on the side that turn out to have nothing to do with the main story arc. All in all it was still a fascinating story. If you enjoy true crime, I definitely recommend it.

What did you do this weekend?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday and a new crock pot recipe

Some how it's already Monday again. When I was a kid, I never believed that time went faster as you got older, but unfortunately some how that really is true. The hubby and I had a busy weekend catching up on chores and hanging out with friends for an engagement party. We drove over to Leavenworth, which is so pretty this time of year, and wandered around then stopped to have a couple of beers at the Icicle Brewery.

Other than that I've been kind of bopping along with my resolutions- reading has been going well, but I still have some catch up to do on that. Blogging obviously fell by the wayside a little bit, but I'm trying to get back on track this week. Workouts are still going pretty good. I've only missed a couple due to sickness or traffic. Writing is still pretty much non-existent, so that I will have to work on.

Now on to my recipe failure last week. I tried a couple new crock pot recipes last week. The one I am sharing today combined two Pinterest pins: one for making mashed potatoes in a crock pot and the other for making a potato and parsnip mash. I thought it would be awesome to come home to potatoes ready to be mashed for a weeknight dinner, but wanted to try to lighten the calories with a root vegetable. I will now preface this recipe by saying that I discovered I do NOT like the taste of parsnips in my mashed potatoes. I was hoping for something smooth and starchy, but even with a smaller ratio the flavor of the parsnips completely took over. Now that I have prefaced that-if you like the taste of parsnips this is a great recipe! If, like me, you do not- just use all potatoes (next time I was thinking I might try substituting half cauliflower since that doesn't have as strong of a flavor).

3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 lbs Parsnips, peeled
1 cup Water
1 cup Butter
1 Tbsp Salt
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
4 oz Neufchatel Cheese


Dice potatoes and parsnips into 1 inch cubes and place in slow cooker. Add salt and pepper.

Cut butter into pats and place on top of potatoes and parsnips. Pour water on top of butter.

Cook on low for 8 hours (can also cook on high for 4 hours).

When ready to serve add Neufchatel Cheese to potatoes and parsnips then mash to desired consistency.

Like I said I will definitely be doing this again without the parsnips. I hope you enjoy.

What did you do this weekend?