Friday, September 24, 2010


because he knew I was so very tired

because he knew I had a long day and week at work

because he knew I would be up late helping with a book report

because he knew how hard I've been working

because he knew my heart

because he wanted to show me his love and appreciation

because he is so sweet

and it made me cry.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A review of A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review for them.

The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face-to-face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

If you like lots of romance, this is the book for you. It was a bit too much for my taste as I like a more meaty book rather than a heart-throbbing book. It felt a bit long (maybe because I was waiting for more meat) as well. It took awhile to sort out the siblings of the main character as there were a lot of them. Maybe they are in other books? That would make sense as it seemed like I was supposed to know these people already.

All in all, not one of my favorites.

Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Review of Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad

Revell Books sent me the complimentary copy to review for them.

When spunky Marguerite Westing discovers that her family will summer at Lake Manawa in 1895, she couldn't be more thrilled. It is the perfect way to escape her agonizingly boring suitor, Roger Gordon. It's also where she stumbles upon two new loves: sailing, and sailing instructor Trip Andrews.

But this summer of fun turns to turmoil as her father's gambling problems threaten to ruin the family forever. Will free-spirited Marguerite marry Roger to save her father's name and fortune? Or will she follow her heart--even if it means abandoning the family she loves?

This wasn't one of my favorites that I have reviewed. Pretty straightforward with a predictable plot. An easy read. If you are of the nautical mind, you may enjoy this as the majority of the story revolves around a nautical theme. Personally, it didn't grab me.

Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Go-Go and "the one"

One of the greatest memories of my "Go-Go" (decoded that means grandma) was her chocolate chip cookies. Big, soft, and yummy. Every time we went to visit her, she had a batch ready for us. Nothing compared to her chocolate chip cookies. Nothing. It was my grandma's signature. She was even buried with a bag of chocolate chips. I kid not.

My mom, bless her heart, just couldn't replicate her mom's chocolate chip cookies no matter how many times she tried (love you mom!). And tried she did. For years. I, as well, have tried recipe upon recipe to find "the one". The one that brings back the memories of Go-Go.

The recipe on back of the Tollhouse chocolate chips just didn't cut it (though that was my grandma's recipe...I think she added an extra ingredient and told no one). I've used this oatmeal recipe with tahini and it's pretty good. More "healthy" than regular chocolate chippers, but not exactly what I was looking for.

Two weeks ago whilst out sale-ing garages, I stumbled upon a lady selling Cook's Illustrated cookbooks (big, huge, hardcover books). I'm a sucker for cookbooks. They are my downfall and I fall hard. I ended buying 3 (a total purchase of $3..can't beat that!). I figured you just can't go wrong with Cook's Illustrated. Love them! I found a chocolate chip recipe and thought, "I should try that one...might just be the one" but then put it on the back burner of my brain. Some days later I was going to try these cookies, but clicked on the link for "thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies" instead and saw that it was the exact same recipe as Cook's Illustrated.

Coincidence? I think not.

So I gathered all ingredients, whipped them up, popped them into the oven, took them out and tried to distract myself while they cooled (WARNING: THERE IS NOTHING HEALTHY IN THESE, but as a treat? You better believe it!). Finally it was time to try one. I was rushed back to Go-Go's house. Sitting at her table with my cookie and milk in her kitchen with the half wall to my back that lead into the living room (I thought a half wall was really neat as well as her laundry shoot in the bathroom that I would throw toilet paper down (clean mind you) to see if it would land in the laundry pile in the basement). I opened my eyes to find myself standing in my kitchen with a pan full of cookies in front of me. These were as close as humanly possible I think I would ever get to my Go-Go's cookies. Not as thin as hers, but the taste? Nailed it on the head.

You need to make these. No, seriously. You NEED to make these. Right now. No, I mean RIGHT now. I've made two batches in the past week (it makes about 18 cookies depending how big you want them) and they didn't last a day and a half. Mixer not even required!! The trick is an extra egg yolk and breaking your dough ball in half and then putting it back together with the pulled-apart side facing up. Read the recipe. It may just take you back to your Go-Go's.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Source: Baking Illustrated, page 434)

Makes about 18 large cookies.

These oversized cookies are chewy and thick, like many of the chocolate chip cookies sold in gourmet shops and cookie stores. They rely on melted butter and an extra egg yolk to keep their texture soft. These cookies are best served warm from the oven but will retain their texture even when cooled. To ensure the proper texture, cool the cookies on the baking sheet. Oversized baking sheets allow you to get all the dough into the oven at one time. If you’re using smaller baking sheets, put fewer cookies on each sheet and bake them in batches.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm

1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

a new look

I decided it was time for a change. Since life has shifted in the past couple of years, coming to my own blog started becoming more a chore than an enjoyment. So hopefully with a fresh look, I'll be visiting more often and continue on the journey of sharing life.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Book Review of Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman with Ellen Vaughn

Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

This book was hard to read emotionally. Mary Beth Chapman's heart is on every single page, sharing moments of her life that have shaped her into who she is today. From growing up, to marrying Stephen Curtis Chapman to growing their family, to adopting to losing their baby girl to learning to live again. And so much more in between. I was holding back the tears even in the opening pages which was written by her husband.

It was written with a style that flowed so well. It was easy to track her thoughts and read more like a conversation than a story. It was so personal, so revealing of who she is that one feels left almost feeling like you know her. That you could sit down over a cup of coffee and have a conversation.

It was a very powerful book. But not in the "good feeling" sense. It was hard. And I can't even begin to imagine how hard it was to write, let alone live each day. Mary Beth hits it home over and over again.... life comes comes down to choosing to see God's story in our lives or choosing not to. It doesn't make the pain go away, but He's always there, even when we don't feel like we can go another step.

Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.