I’ve been watching all the WWII related dramas. So far, I’m enjoying the PBS WWII drama World on Fire. It has an almost-too-big cast (many little plots to follow), but it’s following interesting events early on in the war.
I love all things ITALIAN. Lately, I’ve made my first homemade meatballs (recipe here) and found that they freeze well! And, thanks to my PBS watching and America’s Test Kitchen, I discovered the Torta Caprese AKA a flourless chocolate cake make with whipped eggs and almond flour. It had just the right balance of gooey and light texture.
Your turn! Tell me: what have you been reading, watching, and eating this month?
Happy Leap Day! The second month of 2020 is already over…
It’s been a while since I’ve done any type of “monthly recap” post. I posted these regularly in 2017-18, but time & other factors caused me to get out of the habit. SO! I would like to revive them with a few format changes. I plan to post at the end of each month with a few updates on what I’m reading, blogging about, and maybe what I’m eating and watching.
I finished watched some great British drama this month, including the one and only season of Sanditon and the newest Howard’s End miniseries. I enjoyed them both. I know Sanditon is polarizing, especially with its ending, but I liked it and think it ended with enough hope. Now I need more Theo James in period dramas! Howard’s End was the first rendition of this classic I’ve ever seen, so its story ups and downs were fresh and interesting. I really really loved Margaret, though I didn’t always like the choices of the other characters and the way they drove parts of the story.
Fun movies I watched for the first time include Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks-starring and directed, hilarious “normal life” humor) and Timeline (GERARD. BUTLER. on a horse.).
in the kitchen
I had some amazing raspberry oat bars from Whole Foods I’m scheming to recreate in my kitchen. I have a couple online recipes and the ingredients list. I’m going to science!
Grocery store adventures: I can’t find buckwheat flour anywhere local. Buckwheat pancake and waffle mix, yes. Buckwheat groats, yes. I’m wanting to make the Buckwheat Blueberry Breakfast cake from this novel.
I DID make crepes a couple days ago, using Alton Brown’s recipe from his Good Eats show. I posted a pic on Twitter… and Alton tweeted back! I kinda fangirled over the kitchen nerdiness of it all.
Your turn! Tell me: what have you been reading, watching, and eating this month?
I probably say this any time a book incorporates food in some way, but ya’ll, I love food. I love reading. And I LOVE foodie fiction! Especially when we’re talking about a favorite contemporary romance author like Carla Laureano who combines food and story with great depth. Her latest novel, Brunch at Bittersweet Café, is a new one for my all time favorites list!
From the RITA Award-winning author of Five Days in Skye comes a sweet, romantic treat that will leave you hungry for more.
Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.
Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country–an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.
Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.
A delectable “second course” in the Supper Club series, Brunch at Bittersweet Café offers an engrossing story of friendship, romance, and trust along with its yummy foodie tendencies.
THE FOOD. First off, this story had me wanting to bake all. the. things. with its yummy foods. From things Melody baked to the quaint restaurants she (and Justin) visited, the food selection was eclectic and inspiring. Carla Laureano includes food as an inherent part of the story and naturally in Melody’s life. (And she gets the craziness of the restaurant industry life/schedule/habits SPOT ON!) Next on my own baking list to tackle: eclairs!
THE FRIENDSHIPS. I was happy to see the closeness of the friend group of Rachel, Melody, and Ana continue in this story. With laughter, support, and sometimes in-your-face bossiness, these three exhibit the importance of close friendships amidst the real joys and hard things life can bring. Melody’s new friendship (and more) with Justin challenges her and broadens her perspective in some good ways, too. Which brings me to…
THE ROMANCE. All this time I’ve talked about Melody, so here’s where I chime in more about Justin. !!! After some time passes in the story Melody has a revelation about Justin. To paraphrase, his charming exterior really is a front for a serious, sometimes-perfectionist, always-intentional gentleman. This plays into the romance of the story in the BEST ways. I mean, he’s a pilot. (Who knew flying could be so cool?!) They live in Colorado. They have fun non-dates and, eventually, adventurous real dates. The romance is honestly portrayed with a balance of attraction, emotional connection, and true heart-friendship at the center. ❤
THE GROWTH. Melody and Justin meet at a “seemingly” wrong time in their lives for a serious relationship. Through each of their personal journeys (and family dysfunctional issues. we all have those.), they independently learn what it means to trust and hope. For Melody, trusting God’s will over her own path/choices. For Justin, the beginnings of what a strong faith lived out every day looks like.
If you’re looking for a contemporary romance with the perfect balance of depth and charm, Brunch at Bittersweet Café is one to “sample”!
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.
Wow. It’s time to say goodbye to December and goodbye to another year. This makes me all kinds of nostalgic! There’s just something bright about a year beginning in all its possibility and newness. But first, I’m taking one last look at 2017 and the month of December with the usual rundown and some fun yearly favorites.
on the bookshelf
New on the bookshelf this December: One Christmas in Winter by Bell Renshaw, Desert Duet by Debra E. Marvin, A Log Cabin Christmas Collection by various authors, The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano, A Sweethaven Christmas by Courtney Walsh, A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White, Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren, Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale by Amanda Dykes, and both A Season to Love and A New Shade of Summer by Nicole Deese.
December was a month for baking, both on the job (cupcakes galore!) and for family. My favorite new recipe I tried was, yet again, from a “Bake From Scratch” magazine. It was the Spiced Coconut Oil Cake with Bourbon Glaze. I’m always on the lookout for easily-adaptable dairy free recipes, and this one was simple! (I substituted coconut almond milk with a tad of vinegar for the buttermilk.)
on the screen
Murder on the Orient Express was a cinematic masterpiece. The costumes, cinematography, script, and even the little moments I found humorous all work to portray the era and gripping story line perfectly.
The Lady Eve — sometimes a little silly, this is still the classic era of film at its best. Barbara Stanwycke is as glamorous as ever, and Henry Fonda plays the rare comedic relief piece as his world is turned upside down by “Eve” and her schemes. My favorite scene involves HIS father looking for his breakfast!
THE INSPYs ARE OPEN! Check out Rel’s post with all the details. The INSPYs are annual blogger/reader nominated-and-judged inspirational fiction awards, given in several categories. Go vote for your favorite books now!
So far, my 2018 to-do list is short. Besides a few work-related plans, I’m going to be participating in the Mansfield Park Read-Along Amber is hosting starting January 3rd! (PS you’re invited to join!)
And, I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next SSD installment in February, as just announced here. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Road Less Traveled. The steady story and character development of these movies is always my fav!
Thank you for being my blog readers and friends in 2017. Now, time to ask for your feedback!!! What would you like to see from me on the blog? More reviews? More guest authors? More bookish (or non-bookish) discussions? Movie reviews? I’ve been toying with that last idea for a while…
Whew! It’s already December, the very last month of 2017. You know what that means?!!! It’s time for another monthly wrap-up!
on the bookshelf
Books added to the shelves this past November include: paperbacks of Charming the Troublemaker AND A Twist Faith by Pepper Basham, Enchanted: A Christmas Collection by Melissa Tagg, Sell Out by Tammy L. Gray, The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall, and The Uncloaked trilogy by J. Rodes.
In November, one movie on the big screen that I really, really loved was Same Kind of Different as Me. It’s a movie I can recommend to anyone with a deeply touching story. And, the fact that its a true story, depicted in such a way that it broadcasts a message of forgiveness, made it all the more a blessing.
Ya’ll, Christmas, baking, and books are three of my very favorite things. When they all combine in the wonder of a fabulous cookbook, I’m a very happy person.
Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season by Elisabet der Nederlanden is a TREAT of a cookbook. Its simple layout and photos are eye-catching to say the least, and the recipes are easy to follow and promise all sorts of yummy holiday times. I should know. I’ve tested FIVE recipes already!!! Just to make sure. Quality control and all.
Each recipe I have made has been perfect to a “T” — the measurements, baking times, and consistency of the results. I’m happily going into the Christmas season with this book in hand, planning to try the oatmeal crisps with chocolate next!
What I’ve tried so far, from top left: Italian Pignoli Cookies, Peanut Butter-Chocolate Crunch Squares, Espresso Thins, Chocolate-Peanut Butter Brownie Sandwich Cookies, Thumbprints with Spicy Plum Jam.
Thank you to Blogging for Books and Ten Speed Press for the complimentary review copy. This is my honest review.
I cannot believe it is the end of October. Where did the month go?!
on the bookshelf
New books on the shelf this month include a paperback of Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig, a paperback of The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay (eeek!), Blind Spotby Dani Pettrey, With No Reservations by Laurie Tomlinson, Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano, The Recipe by Candace Calvert, The Redeeming by Tamara Leigh, and The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon.
October ushered in Season 3 of ITV’s Poldark here in the US on Masterpiece PBS. I confess I’m a big fan, continually impressed with the character development and atmospheric setting of every episode. (I want to go to Cornwall!) While I’m still very upset with Ross for some season 2 shenanigans, I do hope he will still prove me wrong because everyone is redeemable. Demelza, Verity, and Caroline are still my favorites. One thing I’m enjoying in this season is how George tries SO HARD to advance his political career/social standing and works at it by manipulating and bringing others down, while Ross doesn’t even want to try to gain that sort of ground yet does so out of some natural good decisions (i.e. friendship and loyalty), especially in ep 5.
around the web
Carrie over at Reading is my Superpowerhad a wonderful guest post this month from author Sondra Kraak about Reading Fiction in Him. It’s such a cool way to approach story!
With November nearly upon us, Hallmark has begun the most wonderful yearly tradition of Christmas movies 24/7 on its networks AKA WATCH HALLMARK ALLLLL THE TIME season. Here’s a great preview of new movies to come for the first part of the season over on Silver Petticoat.
YOUR TURN! Are you loving the change of season October brought? What books did you add to your TBR this month?
The official prompt is: Top Ten Yummy Foods Mentioned In Books (Does a character eat something you’d love? Or maybe the book takes place in a bakery/restaurant that makes yummy things? You could also talk about 10 of your favorite cookbooks if you don’t read foody books.)
Well, people, I READ FOODIE BOOKS! And I didn’t realize how many until I started making this list….so many of them focus on a main character with a culinary background of some sort. I’ve already featured a TTT way back about characters who cook/bake, so I’m going with the actual meals this time. Such fun! Join me as we plan an indulgent schedule of eating and snacking.
James’s tuna Nicoise sandwiches with new red potato salad and fresh fruit: “seared tuna, seasoned delicately with olive oil, vinegar, and Dijon mustard, then layered with hard-boiled eggs and spring greens on an artisan roll.”
Chef Benito Vasallo’s Bistecca alla PizzaiolaAKA steak of the pizza maker’s wife: a thick-sauce, wintry Italian dish with “a tangy mix of tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, and something [Emily] couldn’t name….”
September was a busy blogging month! I honestly don’t know how that worked out — most of the month was a blur. BUT, we did get to welcome fall (my favorite season) and barely start to feel the cooler days in my neck of the woods.
on the bookshelf
Oh my, I’m turning into a book hoarder. My mother would agree. New titles on the shelves, both virtual and paperback, include the “Targeted for Danger” ebook novella collection, The Last Summer by Brandy Bruce, Chasing Haven by Rachel Fallin… and for upcoming reviewCrown of Souls by Ronie Kendig, All This Time by Melissa Tagg, Hometown Girl by Courtney Walsh, Too Far Down by Mary Connealy, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner, The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright, Returning Home by Toni Shiloh, and Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood.
I tried this fresh raspberry pie recipe from PBS Food (yes, them again. They just post some good recipes!). It was light and fun and soooo good.
I’m also having fun with a new Christmas cookie cookbook…. more on that, and a review, soon.
on the screen
I admit it, I’ve never read an Agatha Christie book OR seen any adaptations (that I know of). So, I watched the “classic” Murder on the Orient Express from 1974 because the new one looks just so darn good. I admit, I didn’t see some of the twists coming! It has a 1970s drama flair to it that I will be anxious to compare with the new one.
Of course, I watched the new Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Home Again Hallmark production (shoutout to the #POstables fans!!!). I’ve been following this saga for most of its duration, happily rooting for the characters, friendships, and (finally) romance of the series. This latest made me happy, once again! I really, really appreciate how the ongoing relationships have steadily grown in complexity and depth over several installments — and not just with the 4 main characters, but with the extended family dynamic and other characters. Also, I LOVE how the series refocuses on a fresh storyline yet frequently retains a thread of patriotism and honors historical events.
It’s the last day of August! That means back-to-school season and last hurrahs of summer. It’s been a quieter month on the blog, but this monthly wrap-up proves I was a little productive.
on the bookshelf
New titles on the shelf this month include The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson, Someplace Familiar by Teresa Tysinger, My Hope Next Door AND Shattered Rose by Tammy L. Gray, Uncloaked by J. Rodes, and for review, The Engagement Plot by Krista Phillips, The Long Shadows of Summer by Robin E. Mason. + a few fun reference books at a library book sale, along with a cute little copy of Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (yay for classics!).
I’ve been happily cooking with a few fresh veggies from the garden. My favorite veggie-to-hide-in-baked things is zucchini. After a few frozen loaves of the normal cinnamon zucchini bread (grandma’s recipe 🙂 ), I was ready to try something different. I found THIS 2-loaf lemon zucchini bread recipe, and it’s A-ma-zing! It’s more like a light lemon cake. You’re welcome.
on the screen
One of the things I enjoyed “on the screen” this month was a Queen Elizabeth II TV special (from last year) on the Smithsonian Channel calledThe Queen at 90. It was a delightful look at some of the queen’s yearly duties, everyday life (including her sweet love for her horses), and her life through the years, with interviews from her own family (including some fun comments from Prince William!).
“What are we becoming?” by Amy Matayo. Food for thought in this media-crazy, soap-box modern life. What was your August like? Do you share a monthly wrap-up or favorites post? Share your link in the comments, I’d love to visit!