Saturday, July 26, 2014

Still Life with Chickens Book Review

I had seen this book on Amazon and quickly added it to my list of books to read but some how I put my list aside and hadn't been reading it.  I finally got back to that list and got Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea by Catherine Goldhammer from the library.  I was excited when it came in because it seemed like a good summer read.  I was excited to find out what it was about since I didn't remember from all the way back when it was added to the list.

The author, Catherine Goldhammer, gives you an insight into her life and all the ups and downs while going through a divorce and starting a new life.  She finds a new house in a neighboring town in order to live within her new means as a single mother which means that she is moving her daughter out of the area where she has always lived (but only for 5 miles) but to a much more rural area.  The big change includes her daughter asking for chicken which her e-husband would never agree to before.  In order to keep her daughter happy, they were the owners of chickens and figuring out how to do it as they went along.  They learned lots about chickens and themselves through the process.  In order to find out what they learn, you need to pick up the book and check it out for yourself.

I enjoyed the homesteading story about how the suburban mom and daughter moved to a more country house adding chickens to their family.  The story was funny and heartwarming with all aspects of their lives which was centered around the chickens (and their move to the new house).  I got the book  because I would love to have chickens but it was much more after starting to read the book.  I hope that you check this book out of the library or bookstore near you and see what it is all about.  I had trouble putting it down and really enjoyed the story from start to finish.

Friday, July 25, 2014

When I Fall In Love Book Review

I got a book review book in the mail and I put it in my pile of books to read.  I didn't remember anything about why I picked it but the cover looked really fun.  When I Fall in Love (Christiansen Family) by Susan May Warren was the next book for me to read so I picked it up and found out that it was in a series of books and this wasn't the first one.  It jumped right into characters that I hadn't gotten a chance to know but I met them quickly and came to understand all of them and look forward to reading the beginning of the series of books with the Christensen family!!

Grace Christiansen's family surprises her with a cooking retreat in Hawaii, she is pulled away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.  Since she was hesitant to go, she wanted to make sure that she enjoyed this vacation to the fullest and she had the perfect companion in the seat next to her on the plane, Max Sharpe.  They became instant friends talking about where they were going and the trip they were going to have while in Hawaii.  Max Sharpe is a pro hockey player but he feels most at home in the kitchen. He lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace gets serious, Max pulls away and leaves Hawaii without a note.  Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. Both Max and Grace fight to choose between the easy and safe lives they have always known and what their hearts most want.  You have to read it and see how the ups and downs go and where they both land!

I enjoyed the book and was sad that I didn't start at the beginning of the series.  But the good news is that was two more books to add to my wish list to start reading next.  The characters and situations were very entertaining.  I knew that this was something that could be happening to anyone with the twists and turns and surprises around every bend so I totally related.  I loved the book and can't wait to pick up a few more in the series and I will keep my eyes out for the new ones that I coming out after this too!  I hope that you pick this up at your local library or bookstore and check it out for yourself.  If you would like to purchase a copy, you can do so here.  Enjoy this great summer read while meeting the family in this book series!!!

If you want to learn more about the author, Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors.

Find Susan online: website, My Book TherapyTwitter, Facebook

** Please note that I was given a copy of this book from the publishers for my honest review.  All opinions shared are my own.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Peasant Bread or Herb Focaccia

I was excited to find this recipe and see that I had all of the ingredients in the house.  I love the blog Yummy, Healthy, and Easy and I thought that this would be a great yummy, healthy and easy bread to make.  I had to make a yummy bread to take with me to a girls lunch so I thought that this recipe sounded perfect.  It could be used to make sandwiches. eat on it's own or dip in olive oil.  Make sure you check out her blog and recipe here.

 I am normally a bread machine girl because you put everything in and forget about it until it is done but this seemed easy enough and I thought that I would have enough time to do it.  The dough came together easily but it looked a little floury but I wasn't worried because I was sure that it would turn out well no matter what.  Things change when the dough sits for a little bit and this dough did as well!

I put a wet cloth over the bowl and let it sit.  It doubled in size and got big and spongey.  I split it into two loaves and put it on my cookie sheet.  It was really sticky and a little hard to handle which was funny because just a little bit ago it was too dry.  Good thing that I didn't add any additional liquid!!

I covered it with the same cloth and let it sit until with doubled in size again because it lost a lot of good air bubbles with the handling.

Then, I took the cloth off and saw that it was huge.  I don't know if I used a pan that was too small or let it sit a little too long but I cleaned up the stuff that went over the edge of the pan so that it was nice and neat again.  I separated the loaves just a little so that I would have two nicely cooked loaves.

I topped with two different seasonings.  One was my favorite which was garlic my family you can't go wrong with a little garlic salt on top with a little of some other spices.  The other was for my girls lunch so I used a mix of spices since I have one friend who is on a low salt diet.  I baked them and they came out looking great and smelling even better.

Check out this really cool looking top.  I was so excited to try it and so was my husband.  He was worried that I was taking everything with me and he wouldn't get any.  I told him that I needed him to taste test (his favorite job) and we ate most of the one loaf before I even left the house.

I used a dry cloth and packed up my hot loaf of spice topped bread in a basket.  Doesn't it look pretty!

Check out the fluffy inside with the big pockets of air in the bread.  It was so light and fluffy that I am amazed that it didn't get bigger then the loaf actually became after it rose.

We enjoyed some bread plain but it was great dipped in olive oil with spices. I can't wait to make this again and enjoy the bread hot out of the oven.  I have a feeling that we are going to do it a lot more in the winter months but it is easy to do in the summer as long as you are going to heat the oven to make something else too :)  I hope that you try it out and see how tasty this homemade bread is.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did!!

Peasant Bread or Herb Focaccia

  • 2 1/4 tsp or 1 package dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 egg white OR melted butter for topping
  • garlic salt or other seasonings (basil, oregano, ect)
  1. Mix yeast and warm water and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. After 10 minutes, pour the yeast and water mixture in a mixing bowl with the sugar, salt and flour. Do not mix too long. Do not knead. Let rise until doubled.
  3. After rising, split into 2 rounds and place on greased cookie sheet. Let rise again until doubled. Preheat oven to 425º F.
  4. Brush tops of bread rounds with egg white or melted butter and then sprinkle with garlic salt or other seasonings.
  5. Bake at 425º F for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 375º F and cook additional 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kids Wednesday: Thank You, Miss Doover and writing thank you notes

I found a book in the library that I thought would be really fun to read. Thank You, Miss Doover by Robin Pulver was a great book to read.  My mom and I read it to my son on the way to school one day but we didn't have time to finish before he was picked up.  Funny thing is that we both wanted to see how it ended so we kept reading!!  We had to read it to him again later.

The book went through the process of writing a really thoughtful thank you note with Jack and the help of his teacher, Miss Doover.  Jack decides the perfect recipient of his note is his Great-Aunt Gertie, who gave him boring stationery. But Jack has been using his stationery for other uses like housebreaking Puddly, Jack's new puppy! With Miss Doover's help, Jack revises over and over, adding details until Great-Aunt Gertie knows exactly how he's used her special gift. But for some reason Miss Doover doesn't look too happy. Will his do-over ever impress Miss Doover?  He wrote a quick note to Miss Doover at the end and told her that he realized that her name should be Miss Do-over.

It was a great start to have my son work on a thank you note because it showed another kid doing it.  I hope that you use it for a great start to your holiday or birthday thank you cards.  It is always great to start kids on this practice early and it take a little more time with kids.  Hope you have lots of fun and send lots of thanks!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Betrayal Book Review

The second book in the series was one of the books that I put in the bag for vacation.  I finished one book on the ride there and go to read this book while I was on vacation.  The Betrayal (Abram's Daughters, No. 2) by Beverly Lewis was the next book in my pile and therefore quickly into the bag with beach packing.  I know that this isn't a beach read but it was a great book so it was entertaining to me.

In this book, Sadie Ebersol is dealing with the draw of the English world when she falls in love with an English boy.  She has a relationship with him even after she joins the church which could get her into really big trouble if anyone found out.  When Sadie's relationship goes wrong, her sister Leah has to keep Sadie's secret.  At the same time, the twins are having fights because of the difference that they are finding they can no longer live with.  The family is having lots of turmoil in a short time and trying to find the best way to deal with it.  To find out how they deal with the problems and work to get stronger, pick up the book and read it for yourself.

I loved this book and had a hard time putting it down.  I went to the beach with book in hand.  It might not be the typical beach read but I couldn't put it down long enough to read something different on the beach.  It was a page turner from start to finish.  I enjoyed it and I hope that you do too.  Make sure you pick it up at your local library or bookstore soon.  Remember that this is the second in the series of 5 so you might want to start with the first book in the series (which was also great).  Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 7/21

Monday- Chicken Nuggets with mac and cheese
Tuesday- Salsa Sloppy Joes with homemade rolls and french fries
Wednesday- Crunchy Taco Rice
Thursday- Grilled Chicken with herb rice
Friday- Chicken Tacos with saffron rice
Saturday- Leftovers/??
Sunday- Leftovers/??

I have had a hard time getting back on track with meal planning since vacation.  I moved one meal forward but then never made it to the store to get corn shells so we scratched Friday's dinner in favor of easy with leftovers and some mac and cheese.  The weekend was crazy busy with house hunting (we found a great house and lost it with other offers).  Now my stomach is totally upset for having gone through all that stress and I need another vacation!!! I have no idea what we are even doing this weekend so I am leaving it up in the air so that we can figure it out when we get there.  I hope that you have a relaxing and yummy week.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Chance Book Review

In case you haven't read a series of books by Robyn Carr, she is a wonderful author.  The Chance (Thunder Point) by Robyn Carr was next on my list.  It was on hold at the library until they got it in and I am not sure if I just put it to the back burner with all my other long list of hold books but I finally decided to work through my long list of books that I was from the library and this one appeared on my shelf.  I was happy to see it and even happier to start reading it and be reminded of all the great characters in the last book.

In this book, Laine Carrington decides to move to Thunder Point to recuperate from a gunshot wound that she got in the line of duty as an FBI field agent.  She decided to move from the east coast to the west coast in order to get farther away from her father and try to figure out what she wanted to do for her future.  When she moved to town, she got a rental for a year while she was on leave.  She picked the town because it was where one of the people that she saved while getting shot had settled and they had become friends.  She didn't want people to know about her past because she wanted to be free while staying in the small town of Thunder Point.  She met Eric Gentry, a mechanic and body shop owner, who immediately had a connection with.  Eric moved to town recently to reconnect with his teenage daughter that he didn't know that he had until recently and he was trying to start up a new business.  Neither of them wants to get attached and distract from what brought them to Thunder Point but you have to pick up the book to find out what happens.

I hope that you have had a chance to read Robyn Carr.  If you aren't much of a romance book person, don't be turned off that hers are found in the romance section.  I wouldn't categorize this as a romance novel but maybe I haven't read enough of the genre to know the difference.  There is love as a theme through the book but there is only one bedroom scene and most of the books are about the characters and all of the things going on in their lives. This book introduces some new characters as well as bringing back a few of the other ones that we loved in previous books.  I enjoyed reading it and wish that I had saved it for the beach because it was such an entertaining read.  I picked it up in the morning around 10:30 to start reading it and I went to bed after finishing it at 12:10.  I couldn't put it down and enjoyed the entire book!  It is going to be too long before I get to the read the next in the series!  Here is hoping that you can pick this up at your local library or bookstore and enjoy a great book and a great series!