Friday, October 24, 2014

When Treetops Glisten Book Review

I got an email about Where Treetops Glisten: Three Stories of Heartwarming Courage and Christmas Romance During World War II by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, Sarah Sundin but I wasn't really sure when I read the description whether it was something I would like. But I love holiday books so I thought that I would take a chance.  I am super glad that I did because I really enjoyed the book and had to use a few tissues to make it through the book (which is a good thing at least for me).



The book is broken up into three different short stories but they were all about the same family so they tied together as a full story.  The stories are all about America's involvement in the Second World War and how that changes the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In Cara Putman's White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of her high school love to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements which changes when she meets Jackson, a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.
Abigail's brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin's I'll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. He is having trouble feeling anything and is dealing with being numb to all emotion when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete's friendship.  He has to convince her widowed mother that he's no longer the bully she once knew in order to start a friendship with the little girl.

In Tricia Goyer's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, "Merry" to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the front line in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but she finds a lost friend in the most unusual place so far away from her home. 

I usually like to have one really long story when I am reading so I wasn't sure if I was going to like the three books in one idea.  Each story was longer then I was thinking it was going to be and they were all about the same family so it made it a cohesive story from different points of view.  I enjoyed all of them so much and I couldn't put the book down.  The characters and all of the writing were great.  Because you were invested in the characters, there was a lot of emotions in the book.  The stories are around the holiday and during wartime so there was lots of happiness and sadness with some who have died and others that fall in love so it was a roller coaster of emotion.  I hope that you check out this book and see for yourself.  I think that you will enjoy it and get into the Christmas spirit!!  I know that it worked for me!

Bonus there are some recipes in the back of the book for Grandma Turner's White Velvet Cutouts, Pete's Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies, Grace's Molasses Cookies and Linnie's Candy Cane Cookies.  They all look yummy so I hope to be able to make one of them!!  Let me know if you try one of the recipes and let me know which one gets a thumbs up.

About the authors: 


TRICIA GOYER is a prolific author of nearly forty books, including Chasing Mona Lisa, and a speaker and blogger. 

CARA PUTMAN is the author of twenty books including Shadowed by Grace. She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction. 

SARAH SUNDIN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels.


** I was provided a copy of this book from my review and honest opinion from the Litfuse Publicity.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Promise Book Review

I have a long list of books that I reserved at the library and I was very far down the list waiting for a lot of them.  The Promise (Thunder Point) (English Edition)





Scott Grant has a bustling family practice in the small Oregon community of Thunder Point. The town and its people have embraced the widowed doctor and father of two, his children are thriving, and Scott knows it's time to move on from his loss. But the dating pool is limited in a small town.  Peyton Lacoumette has sworn off men after a failed three relationship with a man with kids who also happened to be her boss.  She came to Thunder Point determined not to repeat past mistakes and focus on her job. When Scott offers her a job, at a much lower salary than she's used to, Peyton is surprisingly eager to accept to focus on getting back to what is important. She's willing to stay for a three-month trial period while she explores other job opportunities.  The two start off with some strange misconceptions that are easily answered with just one conversation but find out what happens, you have to pick up the book and see!!

I read this book in one night.  YUP!  I started reading and didn't stop.  I read and read until the book was over and then I went to sleep in the wee hours of the morning.  It was a great book that I really had trouble putting down.  It was a page turner and it was great to see the characters again.  I loved the beginning of this series and has only gotten better as it has gone on.  If you have read the others in the series then it is probably a no brainer that you want to pick this one up too.  If you haven't started this series, you should pick it up and see the great writing of Robyn Carr with the great characters.  I hope that you like this one and the rest of the series when you check them out in your local library or bookstore.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 10/20



Monday- Chicken and Rice Casserole
Tuesday- Salsa Sloppy Joes with mac and cheese
Wednesday- Chicken Nugget Wraps with homemade fries
Thursday- Olive Oil Pasta or Three Cheese Marinara with garlic bread
Friday- Egg Rolls and Simple Fried Rice
Saturday- Leftovers/??
Sunday- Lunch with friends/??

Another week starting with a surprise that I wasn't ready for it again.  We had a busy weekend and I was trying to get organized before going to work on Monday but that didn't happen so I am posting a draft of what I think I can pull together for the week.  I am sure some days are going to move around based on the changing schedules of the week.   What do you have planned for the week??  Hope you are doing a better job of keeping organized then I am doing!!  I will have a better idea of the weekend by the time I get there and figure it out so here is hoping that I have lots of time to come up with some yummy ideas by then.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Excitement of Harris Teeter Super Double Trips!!

I can tell you that I love getting great deals and Super Doubles never disappoints.  Okay, sometimes there isn't stock on the shelves and there are lots of things that you can't get but there are always rain checks.  I decided that this super doubles that I was going to make the most of using the rain checks that I had in my thick folder of rain checks.  I have used two rain checks to get the Hefty One Zip bags, one for Domino's Sugar, Domino's Quick Dissolve Sugar, McCormick Ground Black Pepper, Lipton Family Size Tea Bags and GoGo Squeez Applesauce.  I almost used one for the whole chickens and then when I went to get a few, they were already on a pretty good sale for $0.89 per pound so I am holding on to my rain check for another time.  Check out my trips below!

Trip #1   $13.27
I was excited to make it to the store since I didn't get a chance on the first day because I was working and super busy which was a major bummer.  I was totally unprepared and barely had my coupons organized but that never stops me from spending all of my 20 coupons. I had a coupon for $5 off $15 purchase for Giant that I was going to use at Giant but I totally forgot to use it when I was there and purchased the ton of toilet paper and paper towels before.  I decided that I better use it at Harris Teeter since it was the last day of the coupon.  I used a rain check for the Hefty Sliders to get them for free after coupon.  I got free Mahatma rice, 2 Colgate toothpaste, 3 Lipton Tea Bags, 2 Pantene Hair Spray, 2 Vidal Sassoon Shampoo and Conditioner, Suave Professionals Shampoo, and Scrubbing Bubbles.  I bought two jars of my yummy jelly for $0.50 each.  I got four whole chickens and a package of cube steak in order to make the $15 minimum.



Trip #2    $28.63
This trip was way too much money but I got lots of things and saved a ton so I am still going to chalk it up to a good trip even though it is way more then I would normally spend at Harris Teeter.  I got two Mega Roll Charmin's which are really crazy priced so after sale and coupon, they were half of the normal price.  I got free Hefty One Zip with rain check, free Scrubbing Bubbles, Mott's Juice, Puffs, Suave Professional Shampoo, Tide PODS, Axe Body Spray, Orville Redenbacher Popcorn, and Mahatma Rice.  I bought 3 boxes of K-cup coffee for my cousin for Christmas and 4 boxes of my son's oatmeal each was $2.  I also grabbed the candy bars for $0.97 each after promo and coupon.  I got a catalina to use on my next purchase which is great because they double during super doubles too!!  Bonus :)



Trip #3     $0.97
This was my rain check trip.  I decided that I was going to get a bunch of things with the rain checks that I have and current coupons.  I got the GoGo Squeez Applesauce (Rain check for $2 each) which I love to use to make applesauce bread since my son doesn't like the pouches.  It is easy to measure and add to the mix and I got them for free.  I used the rain check for the Domino's Quick Dissolve (Rain Check for $1.89 each)  to get those for free.  I used all of the white sugar ones that I got to sweeten all the tea that I make so I figured that it wouldn't go to waste.  I grabbed the Lipton family sized tea bags (Rain Check for Buy One, Get One) and I should have done a calculation of what it was going to cost with the sale and coupons but I ended up getting four of them for free and possibly making a little money with one coupon overridden.  I grabbed two of the McCormick Ground Black Pepper and then realized that the price for one was $4.19 (Rain Check for Buy One, Get One) and the coupon was for $1.75/2 so I could get six black pepper and only use 3 coupons so I went back for more while the cashier was ringing up the beginning of my stuff.  The total for all 6 containers was $2.07 or $0.35 each.  I paid for it with the overage from the Dove Shampoo and my accidental overage from the Lipton coupons.



Trip #4    $1.76
I piled the stuff in the cart as I thought about what I should get getting with what was left on the shelves. I started with the microwave popcorn which is a huge hit in our house and at $7.19 retail, not something we ever get unless it is free and this one was a money maker.  I wanted to get some of the Texas Pete Hot Sauce that was on sale BOGO and free after coupon.  I really wanted to stock up on the Puffs tissues that were free after coupon.  I got three of the Pantene hair sprays which will be Christmas presents for my mom and free is always a good price.  I got the Krusteaz Waffle Mix which cost a little money out of pocket and then was a money maker with the Ibotta credit of $0.75.  There is supposed to be a bonus if you buy another one on another trip but I don't know how to get it because the picture of the item is gone but money maker is good enough.  I had a money maker with the Dove Shampoo.  I thought that the Windex was going to be enough to keep me in the positive but I guess I didn't calculate correctly.   I got to use the Domino's Sugar Rain Check because my total was in the negative so I ran back in the store to get one more thing.  I was hoping to use the catalina that I had to pay the total but it was still too low so I just paid the total and saved it for another day.


I am hoping to go two more times to get a bunch of other great deals and use my catalina.  I can't wait to get a few more boxes of tissues and stock up on some other fun Christmas gifts.  I also want to use that catalina so I am going to have to get a bunch more things that cost a little bit of money in order to make the best use of the free money!!  Good thing that I am almost out of the money making deals on my evic zvr coupons so that I won't have to overcoming that money making as well.  Make sure you check out the review at the beginning of next month to find out all of the stuff that I got all month and how I did staying under my $160 monthly budget for household good and groceries.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Telling Book Review

I couldn't stop reading this great series of Amish fiction and I was super glad to go on to the third book in the series right after finishing the other book.  It was the best of the series because some of the different issues going throughout the book were resolved and different questions answered.  The Telling (Seasons of Grace, Book 3)






Grace Byler leaves Bird-in-Hand in a car to search for her mother in Ohio with her friend, Heather Nelson that she only met a few weeks before. Meanwhile, Lettie continues her private quest to find the missing piece of her life. As clues take her from state to state, she is increasingly torn between the family she has left behind and the yearning for her long-lost child. Struggling to come to terms with a grave medical diagnosis, Heather is determined to forgo traditional medicine in hopes of finding answers and healing in Amish country but her father disagrees. The weekend before she enters the detox program she offers to drive her Amish friend, Grace, to Ohio to find her mother. Grace is worried that if her mother doesn't come home soon then she will undergo the Bann or Shunning and they won't be able to talk to her anymore.  In order to find out what happens, you have to pick up the books in this series and see!!!

I loved it!!  I was so excited to read the third book in the series that I almost picked it up the second that I finished it but since it was really late at night that I finished the second one, I did wait until the next day.  Super glad that I did wait because it is really is a shame to rush through such great books and then have all of the great characters be over.  It was a bitter sweet ending because it was a great series but it had come to an end.  I think that you will really enjoy this series if you enjoy Beverly Lewis or like Amish fiction.  If you haven't tried either, this is a great series to try on because there are so many dealings with the "English" world that even if you don't relate to the Amish lifestyle, you can relate to the other characters in the books.  They are all going through problems in their family and trying to deal with it the best that they can.  I hope that you pick up this book at your local library or bookstore and enjoy!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Missing Book Review

I started the second book, The Missing (Seasons of Grace, Book 2) by Beverly Lewis, directly after finishing the first because it ended with so many questions and I wanted to see where the story was going...and to be totally honest, I also picked up the third book in the series.  It is a great series so make sure you have all three books before starting unless you are way more patient then me!!!






Twenty-one year old Grace Byler longs to find her missing mother and to uncover the secret that drove her to leave them three weeks before. Grace suspects the reason has to do with her father and his reserved, uncommunicative ways. After long and hard though, Grace broke off her betrothal to her quiet, staid beau because she was afraid of ending up with the same relationship as her mother and father and now she will remain single forever. But when the young Amishman she thought was courting her best friend takes a sudden interest in her, Grace is befuddled and wonders if he can be trusted.  "Englisher" Heather Nelson has come to Amish country to relive fond memories of her mother and to contemplate a grave medical prognosis of her own. While in Bird in Hand, Heather meets Grace and the two young women strike up a fast friendship, amazed by how well they click. Following the only clue they have, Grace and Heather travel together in hopes of finding Grace's mother and bringing her home. You have to pick up the book to find out what they find when they travel to Ohio in search of Grace's mother.

I know that you won't be disappointed in this book or this series.  It is a great written book with great characters that you can't wait to find out what happens next.  I often found myself lost in their problems and wanting to pick up the book to find out what happens next.  It is also hard to put down so that means that you have to make sure you are caught up on all the other things around the house that you need to do because time passes quickly while reading this book.  I hope that you pick this up if it sounds interesting to you.  It is a great story of friendship and family in the Amish community (with a little outside in the English world).  I hope that you pick this up at your local library or bookstore and check it out for yourself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Yeast Bread

Are you thinking about Halloween yet?  Well, I am and I started really early digging into the pumpkin recipes.  I made some pumpkin quick bread and I wanted something a little different.  When I saw this idea with more details here (who got her's from this recipe), I was sold.  I had all the ingredients that I needed in the house so it was perfect!  I pulled them all out to double check.


I measured out the pumpkin which is the hardest step.  I was using the last of the can which I had already made quick bread from so there wasn't enough and I quickly thought that I had some homemade pumpkin puree frozen.  I promise that this recipe is super easy and you don't have to use pumpkin puree but I wanted to explain why mine is two different colors.


I put the pumpkin in the bread machine first.


Then I added oil and water. 



Added the milk.


Then added the egg and stirred everything around so that I didn't have to mix up the egg before I put it in.  I added the seasonings and the brown sugar.



Add the flour to the top and then flatten it out a little to make sure all the good stuff underneath is covered.


Topped it all with the yeast.  The instructions say to make a well but as long as the flour is flat, it turns out great.


I use the Fleischmann's Bread Machine Yeast normally but the price of it got so expensive at the store that I looked into other options instead of paying $6 per small jar.


My parents bought me a two pack of these bricks of yeast.  They sort of looked like shorter packages of coffee where they are compacted and look like you are going to open it and see a brick but luckily, it is exactly the same yeast so I get to fill a small mason jar and the old yeast jar with each package.  My dad got it the first time and showed up with them and I was totally freaked and made him return them.  After the yeast prices went up again, I decided to figure out how to use it if it killed me.  I have already opened my second one and I am excited to say that they work exactly the same.



 The bread machine ran the dough cycle and I got a huge mound of pumpkin bread.  This would have been great cooked just like this because of the great flavor and moisture but there was another step that I thought was amazing!

Roll it out on a floured surface with a rolling pin.  It helps to get all the bubbles out.  If you are better than me, yours will be square or even.  I stink at that but it really doesn't matter too much to the final bread.


Then, spread butter or margarine over the top of the dough.  I used to use melted butter but it is way easier to spread and use softened butter because it doesn't run off the end of the dough.  It is way easier to keep your cinnamon and sugar away from the edge....I didn't do a great job of that this time but leave an edge on yours.


Spread lots of cinnamon and sugar over the top of the buttered dough.  Next time I would use even more but leave a little more at the edge because this needed a little more room then my cinnamon rolls do at the edge because you need to seal the bread dough.


After it is totally topped, you roll the bread into a big long tube just like with cinnamon rolls.



My dough was so long that I decided to make one good sized loaf and one smaller one by cutting the dough in half.  Here are the two loaves that I got.


One rose all the way up like a big loaf of bread so I was wondering how I would have made this into one loaf as the recipe called for but I am glad that everything stayed in the pan while rising.


I baked the loaves and the larger one rose even more and you can see the side layers were sealed as well as I could have.



After they cooled off, I took one out of the pan to test it out.  It smelled amazing so I couldn't wait to test it out!!!


When I cut into the loaf, I was a little sad because the top came up far from the top of the loaf.  I didn't do a great job securing the layers so I think that it rose a little differently but everything was cooked evenly so that it all that mattered.


I ate the heel of the bread while waiting for two other pieces to toast.  The top got a little brown but it was totally perfect to see this yummy cinnamon swirl through the whole toast.


If you look close up, it was even harder to butter because the layers were a little separated.  I think that I had the most fun unrolling and eating the bread just like those little store bought cinnamon rolls of my childhood.

My husband wasn't a big fan because he said it didn't have enough cinnamon in the bread which I can't disagree but we are a really cinnamon family.  I would top it with lots more cinnamon and try to seal it better so that it doesn't rise unevenly.  I am hoping to make this age around the holidays and hope that it lasts long enough for some french toast.  YUM!!  It would make the more perfect french toast.

I hope that you try this recipe to and see how you like it because it is really worth the little bit of time that it takes to make a homemade loaf of something just a little different.  It has all the benefits of the cinnamon roll without the tons of added fat and calories.  Here is hoping you enjoy it too!!  Check out this recipe and more on Eat Cake for Dinner because she has some amazing recipes including this one.



Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Yeast Bread


Ingredients
 
Bread:
  • ¾ c. canned pumpkin puree, room temp.
  • ¼ c. warm water
  • ⅓ c. warm milk (microwave for 20 seconds)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • ¼ c. brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 c. bread flour, approximately
  • ¾ Tbsp instant yeast 

Cinnamon Sugar Swirl:
  • 1½ Tbsp butter
  • ½ c. light brown or white sugar mixed with 2 tsp. cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Add pumpkin, water, warm milk, vegetable oil, brown sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and egg to the bread machine pan (Add ingredients to bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer if different from before). Add the flour. Make a well in the top of the flour and add the instant yeast. Turn the bread machine on the dough cycle and let it do all of the work (my dough cycle takes 1½ hours). You will want to check it at first while it is mixing, to make sure you have enough flour. The dough should be slightly sticky to the touch, but will stay in a ball as the bread machine mixes. I used exactly 3 cups of flour and it was perfect. If your dough is way too sticky, add a little extra flour, but don’t over-do it.
  2. Once the dough cycle has finished and the bread has risen, punch down dough and remove from bread machine pan. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead a few times, just to release the air bubbles. Roll out dough to a 9”x22” rectangle. Spread top with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture, leaving a ½-inch border around the edge.
  3. Roll up tightly, beginning with the short end and pinch end together to seal. Place in a greased 9”x5” bread pan (or two); cover with a moist kitchen towel and allow to rise until almost doubled. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Tent with foil for the last 10 minutes to prevent the crust from browning too much (of course if you forget like me, you get a little darker bread). If you tap on the bread, it will sound hollow when it is finished. When finished baking, run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove bread to cool.