Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fourth of July Treats

I made a great pasta dish earlier this week that my husband declared "restaurant good" but forgot to take a single picture. Since everyone enjoyed it so much I know I'll be making it again, I decided I'm saving that recipe for some future Saturday.

Instead, I'll share my daughters' cooking. They're excited about the Fourth of July holiday and finally talked me into purchasing the food items they needed to whip up a few tasty snacks.

These strawberries were quite the hit at a friend's house. So, two of my girls whipped up a bunch for us to enjoy.

You know something is good when your mouth is as messy as this!

At least we could pretend that the strawberries were healthy. This s'mores dip was amazingly good - and rich- but not one bit healthy.

Melt 1/2 tsp. of butter in bottom of cast iron pan (we used an 8 inch pan)
cover bottom of pan with chocolate chips
Add marshmallows
Cook at 450 for 5 minutes
Let cool 5 minutes before using graham crackers to eat the s'mores dip

Happy Independence Day, everyone!  I'll be grilling some chicken and corn on the cob later today.

This post is linked to Beth Fish Reads' weekly weekend cooking meme. Hop on over and see what other great recipes people are sharing.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday Five

It's the 4th of July weekend which is always a little bittersweet for me. It seems as soon as we hit this holiday, school starting again is just right around the corner.  And I am not ready for that yet!

We got back from vacation last weekend and after spending money on hotels and food, shopping should be the last thing I think about for a long time.

However, I keep finding great clothing at great bargains.  

Here are a few of my finds this week:

1.  Wonder T-shirt

My sister-in-law clued me in to this website. Not only is this shirt depicting the cover of Wonder by RJ Palacio, the entire picture is done in text from the book. There are plenty of other books to choose from, so really, you need to look at the site yourself. I am going to order this and wear it to school. My students will love it!

2.  South Florida Spree Top in Ivory Dots

I have yet to order anything from ModCloth, even though I find plenty on their site that I like. This is another top I'd like to try from them. 

3.  Law School Savvy Top

And while I was busy on Modcloth, I came across this chevron top. Earlier this spring I was looking at a top similar to this on the Modcloth site, but before I ordered it, it was sold out.  I even bought a hot pink cardigan to go with it that is just sitting in my closet waiting for this shirt.  So, it looks to me like I better hurry up and get right on it.

4.  Quilted Fringe Trim Shell

I've been looking for some tops that would work under jackets and sweaters, and came across this at The Loft.  I don't have a great need for an emerald green shell, but it also comes in white, which would be something I could use almost every day. Loft is having great Fourth of July sales as well, so check out what they've got.

5.  The Astronauts Wives Club on ABC

I read this book two summer ago when it was released and enjoyed it. Now I'm enjoying the televison show.  I'll admit to having a hard time knowing who is who and who each woman is married to, but after week three, I think I've got it down. This is one of the few shows I can remember watching as it is being aired, not on Netflix years later.

So, how about you? What's caught your eye this week?  Check out other Friday Five posts on A Liz Adventures, where this post is linked.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

TLC Book Tour: Heavy Weather

Normandie Fischer's Heavy Weather is another series I'm coming to late, and this second installment was a pleasure to read (as well as working well as a stand alone novel).

Hannah is out walking her dog one day when she comes upon two young children hiding in the bushes by their house.  This leads her to find their mother, Annie Mac, beaten by her estranged husband Roy Bingham.

Annie is taken to the hospital, the authorities began looking for Roy, and the children are given to Hannah temporarily as she is honoring the wishes of their mother, this woman she has just met.

Because of Hannah's involvement with Annie's children, soon she is taken in by the circle of friends Hannah has, even recovering at the police lieutenant's home.  

And while Annie is getting better, Roy continues to look for her, trying to get his daughter, Katie from her.

Although the drama centers around Annie, Hannah and her friends have their own stories that are woven into Heavy Weather, giving a little more depth to them - perhaps for future books in this series.

The southern setting is felt throughout the story as is the religious message and focus.

This is the second novel in two days that reminds me of the Cape Light series, a nice story with good characters that is fun to read and reacquaint myself with as each installment in the series is published.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of Heavy Weather for review. The opinions expressed, are as always, my own.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

TLC Blog Tour: For Your Love

For Your Love by Beverly Jenkins was my first experience with her Blessings novels, but it won't be my last.

This is the sixth novel in this series, which  means I get to read the previous novels now as I await another installment.

Set in the fictional small town of Henry Adams, Kansas, this story focuses on the mayor Trent July, as he thinks more about his birth mother, wanting to know more about her and why she sent him to live with his grandmother, Tamar.

Although Trent doesn't like to dwell on his past he is curious and can't get this out of his mind.

While Trent is the focus of this book, friends and relatives from previous Blessings novels make their appearance.  Despite the fact that I didn't have any backstory on them, I still was able to follow along with the plot and look forward to reading more about them in other series' books.

Although Jenkins does offer resolution in this novel, there is still plenty of room for her to continue this series.

This series felt a bit like the Cape Light series by Thomas Kinkade which always left me feeling happy as I turned the last page.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of this book. The opinions expressed as always are my own.

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick: The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa deCarlo
Due out: September 8, 2015

Product description taken from Goodreads:
From a bright new talent comes this debut novel about a young woman who travels for the first time to her mother’s hometown, and gets sucked into the mystery that changed her family forever

“Melissa DeCarlo’s storytelling is strong and sure, genuinely moving and genuinely funny. Like her unlikely heroine, she’s a force to be reckoned with.” —Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of The Ocean

Mattie Wallace has really screwed up this time. Broke and knocked up, she’s got all her worldly possessions crammed into six giant trash bags, and nowhere to go. Try as she might, Mattie can no longer deny that she really is turning into her mother, a broken alcoholic who never met a bad choice she didn’t make. 

When Mattie gets news of a possible inheritance left by a grandmother she’s never met, she jumps at this one last chance to turn things around. Leaving the Florida Panhandle, she drives eight hundred miles to her mother’s birthplace—the tiny town of Gandy, Oklahoma. There, she soon learns that her mother remains a local mystery—a happy, talented teenager who inexplicably skipped town thirty-five years ago with nothing but the clothes on her back. But the girl they describe bears little resemblance to the damaged woman Mattie knew, and before long it becomes clear that something terrible happened to her mother, and it happened here. The harder Mattie digs for answers, the more obstacles she encounters. Giving up, however, isn’t an option. Uncovering what started her mother’s downward spiral might be the only way to stop her own.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Let Me Die In His Footsteps

Let Me Die in His Footsteps is a novel about family secrets, and how often future generations are affected by them.

In 1952 Annie Halloran is celebrating her half birthday - a special tradition for girls between the ages of fifteen and sixteen.  On their half birthday they will look in a well and see their future.  Annie chooses the well at the Baines' home, and although she doesn't see the future she wants, she does discover a body lying by the well.

In 1936 Juna Crowley and her sister Sarah were also growing up in Kentucky. As Juna was coming of age, she encountered the Baines boys, especially Joseph Carl, who was taken with Juna's blond hair and coal black eyes.   When a murder takes place, it Joseph Carl who is accused of the crime.

After a hanging, Juna abruptly leaves town, allowing her sister, Sarah, to raise her daughter, Annie.

Now Annie believes her mother will be coming back and what really happened all those years ago will be revealed.

Roy does a wonderful job of creating the atmosphere of this book so that I felt as though I were a part of the small Kentucky community.  The constant shift in time periods was difficult for me as a reader and I didn't always feel connected with the characters.  However, Roy's ending is strong and as the story came together, I appreciated the way in which it unfolded.

Although Bent Road continues to be my favorite of Roy's books, Let Me Die In His Footsteps is suspenseful and full of twists and turns that will be enjoyed by many readers.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Salon

We are home and back to reality.  The twenty hour drive yesterday was long (obviously) but went well. 

It felt good to be in our own bed and able to sleep in after pulling in around 1:30 AM.  

Today we bought groceries and did laundry.  I tried to organize a few things for the upcoming week.

I exercised for the first time since before vacation.  

Little Sister with her new vacation t-shirt

Goofy golfing on vacation

Visiting Asheville's indie book store, Malaprop's

The girls with the cast of the improv theater

Happy to have had time to dip my toes in the sand and relax.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and is feeling rejuvenated for the week ahead!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Vacation Eating

Remember how I was so proud to have completed the Whole 30 just a few weeks ago?  I knew that vacation would be a challenge, and then I just totally gave up and decided to eat the things I wanted to on vacation. I mean it's vacation which means I shouldn't have to count calories- at least that closely.

So after a week of vacation I am not counting calories at all.  I've had great ice cream a few times and some other amazing meals I wouldn't eat if we were at home.  And I've enjoyed every last bite.

Sadly, vacation is coming to an end.  

However, I am ready to get home - and ready to eat my more familiar, healthy foods and not feel stuffed full after every meal.  

Here are some of my favorite meals of the past week:

This isn't just any caesar salad.  The Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, North Carolina, makes these scrumptious croutons from grits.  Amazing!

It seems as though everyone in the South eats pancakes.  We started out with Cracker Barrel pancakes on our first night of our trip and the girls have tried pancakes from a variety of places. These above are from Early Girl Eatery again - and I even tried them.  I have moved to almond flour pancakes, but these multi-grain pancakes were delish!

And so, since we're in the South, our friends made us a true Southern meal:

potatoes, sausage, crab legs, shrimp, corn on the cob and watermelon

My girls don't get a lot of opportunities to eat sea food in Iowa, but they were all game to try it.  I believe the comment was, "It's not too bad."

We followed up our supper with possibly the best donuts ever: Britts Donut Shop

The line went around the block, but it was well worth it.

Although this post doesn't represent any cooking I've done in the past week, I'm linking it to Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking meme, since it does share a variety of wonderful meals and eating I've been doing.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Five

This week on Friday we are in North Carolina visiting friends.  I still found time to be online for a bit and am enjoying the relaxing and catching up.

We are in North Carolina visiting friends these past few days. And although I love catching up and making new memories with some of my favorite people, I also am always intrigued by the various things they have in their home that we haven't ever seen or heard of.

Tonight it was the butter container that we used for spreading butter on corn on the cob.  This would be so much handier than the way I spread butter on our corn back home.

So, this is probably a handy enough little item to spend a few dollars on.

I have a scarf like this from The Gap. I don't think I would wear the two together, but I'm loving this sweater at the Loft and would love to add it to my closet.

Chick Fil-A isn't something we have close to us. My sister has one in Des Moines, but even when we visit her, we never seem to think of it.  Since we are in the South there seems to be a Chick Fil-A on every corner.  We tried it out yesterday for lunch and all liked it.  I didn't put a picture on, but the waffle fries are my favorite.

A few months ago I bought a solid shirt like this one from the Gap online.  I like the pattern on this one a lot and love how my other one fits.  Right now there is 30% off at the Gap.

And while I was on the Gap website, I saw this scarf.  It is a little bit fall-like to me which I'm not ready for, but I love the colors.

What did you find that caught your eye this week?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Primates of Park Avenue

I'm having such a great time on vacation and getting so many books read that it's  hard to know which one to review first. Most of what I've been reading has been pretty light and fun.  Perfect for vacation.

The Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin is a non-fiction look at life in the Upper East Side.

Martin grew up in the midwest and her move to New York City after marrying was somewhat of a culture shock.

Her book provides some over the top examples of life with too much money, which is a far cry from what my own life is like.  However, after reading books like The Devil Wears Prada my surprise at the way this special population lives was minimal.

I did see a little press criticizing Martin's book but I enjoyed it and found this a great insider's look at a life I will never lead.