Thursday, December 18, 2014

What is your...Winter Comfort Dessert?

Winter Comfort Dessert?

Spice Cake
My mom started this trend.  When my sister and I were younger, I remember her making spice cake while we were outside playing in the snow.  It doesn't have to be homemade either.  Boxed spice cake works just as well for me.  One thing I didn't realize until I was an adult is that most people put frosting on their spice cake.  I was like Huh?  Why do you put frosting on this cake?  My mom always served the cake warm with butter.  I don't know why.  Its delicious though.  Needless to say, I have passed this tradition onto my kids.  During winter, I try to always have a box of spice cake mix in the cupboard.  You never know when the mood will strike you as it did me this week.  It was a rainy day (shocking here in Portland area. Sarcasm at its best, sorry) and I felt the need for some comfort.

Do you have a winter comfort dessert?

"What is Your...?" is a regular Thursday feature here on The Things We Read.  One of my favorite aspects of blog reading is getting to know the blog author.  I do tend towards book blogs.  However, if all the author writes about are books then I typically will stop reading.  "What is Your...?" is designed so you can get to know me and I can get to know you.

Feel free to write a blog post yourself and share link in comments or just leave a comment.

P.S.  Still seeking Guest Bloggers for January.  Join me on my adventure.

Monday, December 15, 2014

My Mini Monday Thoughts

Since I'm in posting overdrive lately and I'm determined to write about every book I read, I'm condensing my usual My Thoughts posts into My Mini Monday Thoughts.  On Mondays, you will see thoughts of the books I read the week before.  I'll see how this works out.

Last week was a good week with 3 books finished.

For All Time by Jude Deveraux

Jude Deveraux is my all-time favorite author.  She is the only author in which I have read every single book written as soon as is possible for me after it is published.  There is no unread backlist for her as I have with most other authors.  Even in one of my English education classes, I wrote about her as others were writing about classic authors trying to suck up to the teacher.  While the teacher wasn't impressed with my author choice, she was impressed with my writing and knowledge which is what mattered. Deveraux is not a hard core, deep thought author and I could care less. She is my favorite.

Given this declaration of devoutness, I am hugely disappointed with this latest book.  For All Time is second in her Nantucket Brides trilogy.  I love the story line and overall progress of the trilogy.  It is the writing or editing in which I have a problem particularly in the first half of the novel. In parts, it becomes confusing.  I had to go back and reread.  Still I would wonder "What the heck?" and move on.

Regardless of the confusion, I still enjoyed book and am looking forward to the final novel. I do so love the time travel aspect that Deveraux adds to many of her novels.  For All Time has that element.   The way she write it makes me sometimes think "could that really happen?"  Wouldn't that be cool?!

When Christmas Comes by Debbie Macomber

This novella took me about 3 hours to finish.  I was really in the mood for a short delightful Christmas book.  Debbie Macomber did not fail.  It helped me get out of the funk I was feeling about many things, including the holidays.  I even started baking.  If you are looking for a light hearted thoughtful holiday book, try this one.  

Love Letters  by Debbie Macomber

Sappy love stories are my motif for December.  I was surprised by Love Letters though.  There was a lot of frustration, anger and unexpectedness in this Rose Harbor novel.  It is the third in the series but the first one I've read.  I did not feel "lost" in reading it out of sequence.  The novel focuses on 2 main couples with a sneaky third and fourth couple thrown in just to mess with you.  The outcome of the 3rd and 4th couple was the unexpectedness.  I look forward to reading the books in the series.

P.S.  Still seeking Guest Bloggers for January.  Join me on my adventure.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Library and Mailbox Loot

From the library:

These were my hold books for the week.  Clearly, I was in a YA mood when I requested them.

  • I'm So Sure - Jenny B. Jones
  • So Over My Head - Jenny B. Jones
  • Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins

And from the mailbox this week:

  • How Not to Act Old - Pamela Redmond Satran
  • The Shape of Mercy - Susan Meissner
  • My Legendary Girlfriend - Mike Gayle (have you ever read one of his novels?  Chick Lit written by a male.  Awesome books.  Great perspective)
  • Cookie's Case - Andy Siegel (review book from my favorite publicist)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

2015 Reading Challenges

Watch out reading challenges!  Since I don't have a TBR pile, I need to challenge myself in other ways.  One way is to join several challenges and FINISH them.  Finish obviously being the key word.  A Novel Challenge  is tempting me with new challenges every day.  I've narrowed it down to the challenges listed below with the option of adding more.  hehehe

Read It Again, Sam
Goal: Trip Down Memory Lane (12 books)
  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  8. Outlander
  9. Dragonfly in Amber
  10. Voyager
  11. Drums of Autumn
  12. The Fiery Cross
Bonus book: East of Eden

This challenge is too opportune to pass it up.  It goes perfectly with my rereading challenge above.

The Reading Schedule (The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon in Order)
February - Outlander
March - Dragonfly in Ember
April - Voyager
May - Drums of Autumn
June -The Fiery Cross
July - A Breathe of Snow and Ashes
August - An Echo in the Bone
September - Written in My Own Hearts Blood

Newbery Reading Challenge
Goal: L'Engle: 15 - 29 points


JAN- Book to Movie or Audio
Read a book that has a movie based off of it. For an extra challenge, see the movie or listen to the audio book as well.

FEBAward Winner
Read a book that has won recognition or a literary award. Literary Awards.

MAR-  Genre Jumble 
Read a book in a genre that you've never tried or that you're least familiar with.  

APRMystery, Murder, and Mayhem
Read a murder/mystery book, a book in which someone dies of mysterious causes, or a book in which the truth must come out.

MAYLibrary Love
Show your library some love and visit your local branch. Choose a book to read that they have on display.

JUN Take A Trip
Choose a book to read that takes place in a country different than the one you live in or choose a book written by an author that is from a country different than your own.

JULStanding Up
Read a book in which the main character stands up for themselves, stands against an enemy, or stands up for something they believe in.

AUGAlternate Reality
Read a book that's set in the future, on another planet, in another dimension, or in an unknown world. A Dystopian book will count this month as well. 

SEPFurry Friends
Read a book that includes an animal either as a main character or supporting character.

OCTGoblins, and Ghost, and Ghouls, Oh My!
Cozy mystery ghost stories, paranormal creeptastic, funky fantasy creatures- it's up to you!

NOVAn Oldie but a Goodie
Pick a book published before 2000 that you've always wanted to read, but just never got to. Or pick a book set in the past (before 2000). 

DECThat's a Wrap
Finish a series you've been meaning to finish or read the next book in a series you started but never finished. 

  1. Retellings (of fairytale, legends or myth)
  2. A book set in a country starting with the letter S (eg. Sweden, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Slovakia)
  3. PI Crime (fiction featuring a private investigator)
  4. A novel published before you were born
  5. Contemporary romance
  6. Fiction for foodies (fiction featuring food/food related business)
  7. Microhistory (Non Fiction)
  8. Science Fiction set in space
  9. Sports (Fiction or Non fiction)
  10. Featuring diversity
  11. Epistolary Fiction (fiction written in the format of letters/emails/diary entries)
  12. Middle Grade/YA Adventure

If you have any suggestions of books to read for these challenges, let me know.

P.S.  Still seeking Guest Bloggers for January.  Join me on my adventure.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What is your...Favorite Nut?

Favorite Nut?


It's a tough choice.  I am a huge fan of nuts.  Take a look at my first box of treats from Nature Box.
Almonds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, cashews.  I love them all.  I think my next box is filled with nuts as well.  You get to select your monthly additions.  I love to cook with nuts as well as snack on them.  I almost always add nuts to rice.  I like the added texture of crunch, usually almonds or cashews or pecans.  I can't eat Chex Mix without adding nuts.  Forget the pretzels, add extra nuts.  Yum.  Oh, and in pasta, I love pine nuts with Gorgonzola sauce on pasta.  Ever try nuts on pizza?  Its good.

This may seem like an odd topic to write about but take a moment.  In the US, the holidays always have nuts, the actual kind as well as the crazy kind.  We use nuts in a lot of our holiday baking, on cheeseballs, in some main dishes and we like to set them around as snacks.  Have you ever walked through a store during November and December and not seen the variety nut tray and packages?  Nope, never.  They are always around.

What is your favorite nut?  What dishes do you include nuts?

"What is Your...?" is a regular Thursday feature here on The Things We Read.  One of my favorite aspects of blog reading is getting to know the blog author.  I do tend towards book blogs.  However, if all the author writes about are books then I typically will stop reading.  "What is Your...?" is designed so you can get to know me and I can get to know you.

Feel free to write a blog post yourself and share link in comments or just leave a comment.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cooking My Way - Bacon

Candied Bacon
Have you ever tried candied bacon?  If you haven't, I highly suggest you remedy that situation.
It's easy and quick to made and so delicious.

What you need:
brown sugar
 I simply rub brown sugar on both sides of bacon.  Take your fingers and kind of smooth the brown sugar all over.  Put foil on a cookie sheet to save the condition of your sheet.  Also easy clean up.  Put sugared bacon on foiled sheet and bake.  I use 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
 And this is how it looks.

Immediately pull off foil or it will stick.
I set on paper towels to drain but don't keep there long as it will stick.

After a quick internet search, I discovered better method for draining bacon - use brown paper bag.

If you are lucky enough to have some left over to store, 
it will keep for about a week in an airtight container.

To add additional flavor to bacon, try:
chili pepper
black pepper
beer - haven't tried this recipe but it looks good (Tide & Thyme)
and any number of other combinations

Happy Eating!

Friday, December 5, 2014

My Thoughts: Silver Girl

I am having love affairs with Elin Hilderbrand and Kristin Hannah this year.  Hilderbrand continued to deliver with Silver Girl.  Based on her beloved Nantucket island, the novel follows two women as they struggle through their very different but similar problems.  They were similar because both involved loss of a husband, however, incredibly different in the manner of this loss.  This story made me cringe at the possibility of ever having to live through the problems of Meredith, definitely not a common problem such as is the case with Connie.  There were times when I wanted to smack both women and tell them to get a grip.

From the inside book jacket
Recommendation:  if you like beach summer reads, try it.