book · reviews

Those Who Save Us- book review

Last night I finished the book Those Who Save Us, by Jenna Blum. I really enjoyed this historical fiction brings the travesties of WWII together with the effect that it had/has on those who lived through it.

Trudy is a History Professor specializing in Germany History. She teaches her students about the women who lived in Germany during the rein of Hitler. What drives her to do this? The search to find the truth about her own past.

Trudie, as she was known as a child, was born in Germany during WWII. Anna, Trudie’s mother, fled from her home when her father found out she was pregnant with Trudie. Anna moved into the local bakery and helped the baker in exchange for room and board for herself and eventually for her daughter Trudie.

Anna makes many choices during the 3 years she in Trudie live together in the bakery. Many of these decisions effect her relationship with her daughter as well as the way she feels about herself. At the end of the war, Anna marries a US soldier and moves to Minnesota.

While growing up Anna tells Trudie that she must forget all she remembers about her time in Germany. Anna will not tell Trudy anything about her past.

Now as an adult Trudy decides to take on a research project through the unversity where she interviews Germans who lived in Germany during World War II. She is searching to find out how they feel about that time and the effect it has had on their lives. Or is what she is really searching for the truth about her own past?

This book was very moving. There were many times where I had to put it down and others I didn’t want to put it down. The interviews that are accounted in the story show such diverse stories of how the people in Germany got by during this difficult time in history.

If you enjoy historical fiction about World War II, as well as gaining a better understanding of mother/daughter relationships, I encourage you to check out Those Who Save Us


**this post contains associate links, please read my disclosure statement**

book · life · reviews · Uncategorized

Beach Rental book review and rambles

Happy Friday Eve!

This has been such a strange week for me. I posted a bit about it yesterday. On top of all the crazy busy of the boys’ schedules, Richard had 2 days of meetings. For his job when they have these big meetings where people travel in from other states it means full days of meetings followed up by dinner and/or drinks. This means he leaves the house at 7:20am to drive the boys to the bus stop and then didn’t arrive home until around 10pm. I’m not sure how he does it! At least it’s done now, and everything went as smoothly as he hoped it would.

I just finished reading another book on my Kindle Paperwhite E-reader . One of the biggest perks of reading on the Kindle is the free books I can get with out prime membership. On Monday, I posted about Coming to Rosemont: The First Novel in the Rosemont Series which I also got for free. I guess this is another bonus to having a prime membership even if the price is going up! I love the free shipping, we have a Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player which is ALWAYS on playing music in the background of our life. I had to laugh yesterday listening to the boys request music on Alexa, we went from We Didn’t Start the Fire to Laughter In The Rain then Wake Me up Before You Go-Go. My sons have always had an eclectic variety of music they listen to, but it just seems to shine through more lately. Some of their favorite stations to listen to are Pop For Cooking, ’70s Light Pop Perfection, ’80s Pop for Runners and those are just a few that they pick. I find it crazy that they know the names of the songs as well as who sings the song. Me, well I could sing the whole song for you but couldn’t fathom to tell you the facts about the song. Oh well, guess I’ll never go on a music game show, but they can!

Today I finished reading Beach Rental (Large Print) (Emerald Isle, NC Stories) (Volume 1), but Grace Greene. I felt like I read this book really fast, but that maybe because I’m finally back to only reading one book at a time. I read all three of the Harry Potter books one after the other and then I was reading a book and an e-book at the same time while adjusting to reading on the Kindle. Beach Rental was the first book in forever that I read both during the day and at night. So I felt like I flew through the book. I was able to get this book free through my prime membership, notice a trend her?

Juli Cooke’s life has never been easy. She bounced around in the foster care system as a child and has worked hard as an adult to keep her nose clean and a roof over her head. She works at a grocery store during the day and picks up jobs with caters at night for extra cash.

One night while working as a server for a lavish party, her life takes a very unexpected twist. She meets Ben Bradshaw at that party and he turns her life on its ear with the proposal of marriage. Ben is dying and realizes he wants someone in his life to keep him company. He offers Juli a financial freedom for her friendship, that may or may not turn into more over time. Juli agrees with this arrangement, but finds more opposition from Ben’s family than she was prepared to deal with. Ben’s cousin and business partner Luke, noticed Juli at the same party and had a preconceived notion of who she was and what her motives really were. When Ben’s sudden death changes everything, Juli and Luke are forced to work together to settle the estate and so much more.

Read what happens in this unique love story that shows that often times love pops up in the most unusual places.

** This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure statement**

book · reviews

The Night The Lights Went Out– Book review

What’s better than one book review in a day???? How about two? Click here to see the first one I did today!

I finished the book I was reading upstairs this week too. The Night the Lights Went Out, by Karen White is a contemporary novel. I love the description on the back of the book that says “…. it touches all the bases of a chick-lit thriller…”

This is the story of Merilee who is recently divorced who moves into Sweet Apple, Georgia. There she rents a house on the property of Sugar Prescott, the towns matriarch. Sugar is known to be aloof and a bit odd, but she hits it off with Merilee. Sugar sees a lot of herself in Merilee and begins to open up and share stores with her that she has not shared with anyone.

Merilee’s children are attending a private school, where Merilee meets Heather the queen bee of the community. Heather brings Merilee into her circle and encourages her daughter to befriend Lily, Merilee’s daughter.

As the story progresses, Merilee finds out that a blogger from the town is writing about not only the town and southern sayings, but also about Merilee and her life. She doesn’t know how to feel about this but since she is trying to keep her head above water and deal with all the drama of life.

As you read through the story, you hear more about the drama of Sugar’s life of the past. You read the many blog posts that show a different side of small town drama anddddd the real dramas of a small town. There is so much more to share, but I can’t without telling you too much.

I highly recommend this book. It is a perfect summer read. It is the type of book that keeps you thinking and makes you want to not put down the book. Read and find out what happens The Night the Lights Went Out.

** Product links included, please read my disclosure statement**

book · reviews

Coming to Rosemont- book review

The first book I read on my Kindle Paperwhite E-reader – Black, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers was Coming to Rosemont: The First Novel in the Rosemont Series, by Barbara Hinske.

Maggie Martin’s husband dies suddenly, but this was just the beginning of the changes in her life. Upon his death Maggie discovers that the life she was living the last few years was not the life she wanted to live. After discovering that her husband was involved in a variety of elicit activities she also discovers that he inherited a house in the serene Mid-Western town of Westbury.

Maggie headed to Westbury to meet with a real estate agent to put the house, known as Rosemont for sale. When Maggie arrives there she discovers more that just a house. She finds home. Maggie then decides to sell her house in CA and move to Westbury.  What she doesn’t know is that this quiet majestic town has a secret or two of its own.

This is a great fast paced novel that is realistic and modern. It is a great story about a strong female who learns so much more about herself and what she is capable of doing. This is also the first book in series, so if you are like me and hate when a book ends… then this is a great book because you can read more in the second book: Weaving the Strands: The Second Novel in the Rosemont Series. I know I will.

**This post contains product links, please read my disclosure statement**

book · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Roasted Thanksgiving Salad- Alton Brown

This week we had a lot of new recipes on our menu. I really enjoyed all the recipes. And, they all came from on location:Alton Brown: EveryDayCook. First, we had fish sticks, then pizza dough, and then finally Roasted Thanksgiving Salad.

The roasted Thanksgiving Salad was the healthiest of all, and actually really yummy! Think roasted veggies, quinoa, apples and pumpkin seeds in a mustard vinaigrette. This was a great side dish and I’ve had it a few days cold for lunch.


Roasted Thanksgiving Salad (recipe adapted from Alton Brown: EveryDayCook)

  • 2 lbs. of Sweet Potatoes, ~3 medium, peeled & cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 lb. of Parsnips, ~3-5, peeled & cut into bite-sized pieces (use the smaller ones as the large ones are too woody)
  • 1 Red Onion, small, diced
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons of Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup of Quinoa, rinsed in cool water & drained
  • ¼ teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Agave Nectar
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
  • 2 medium Gala Apple, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup of roasted Pepitas
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes, parsnips, and red onion on a baking sheet pan lined with a silpat mat or parchment paper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast for 15 minutes, toss and then roast for 10 more minutes or under the veggies are golden and tender.
  3. While the vegetables are roasted, prepare the quinoa. Boil 2 cups of of water and ½ teaspoon of salt in a saucepan. When boiling, whisk in the quinoa and cinnamon. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, still covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  4. For the vinaigrette, combine the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil, vinegar, agave nectar, mustard, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a jar with a lid, shake to emulsify.
  5. Toss the vegetables, quinoa, and dressing together in a large bowl. Top with apples and pepitas just before serving.


I ended up doubling my dressing since I used more sweet potato, parsnip and apple than was originally called for in the recipe. You easily could change the veggies in this recipe, carrots would make a nice addition and add a bit more sweetness.

Richard and I both enjoyed this and said that the apple and pumpkin seeds added a nice texture to the recipe. I was thinking that if you put wheat berries into this for 1/2 the quinoa you would add in a chewy texture and an additional ancient grain.

The original recipe called for thyme and sage, but I didn’t add these to mine. I can see how they would add to the Thanksgiving feel, but since we were making it in April I didn’t see the need for it to feel Thanksgiving. It also used maple syrup instead of agave nectar, I only have cheap fake maple syrup and didn’t want to use that in this dish, plus it was almost gone. I figured it was looking to add sweetness as much as anything so that’s why I used the agave nectar.

I’m ready to start adding more veggie heavy dishes to our menu. The dish could be used all year long and is hearty enough, in my opinion to be used as a main dish. I served it with grilled chicken.

There is nothing new on our menu this week. Life is going to be busy for the next few weeks so I’m not sure how many new dishes we will see, but you never know.

Hope you enjoy your Friday Eve!

book · family · life

With May Came Spring!

Finally we have had spring weather. The windows are open. Everyone is wearing shorts (don’t look at our scary white legs). It feels good to finally feel like spring is here to stay (we won’t discuss the fact that we had flurries on Sunday).

Today I went shopping. Blake decided that he needed new school shorts. Let me tell you something shorts for boys are hard to find. I do not let my sons wear athletic shorts to school. I make them wear cargo, jeans or something on that idea. Yes, add this to my mean mom criteria. I just see school as their job and I’m going going to work in workout clothes unless I work at a gym or something on that idea. I want them to see that play clothes are play clothes not play and school/work clothes. So after three different stores (Target, TJMaxx and Kohls) I managed to get him 5 pairs of shorts. There was not a pair of jeans shorts anywhere. Oh well!

In my shopping, I did pick up a few shirts for myself, some pajamas and new bedding for our bedroom. We haven’t got new bedding for our own bed in a quiet a few years and it was time for an update! I picked up a few shirts for Blake and Colby as well. Plus Richard needed a new wallet.

I don’t go out shopping very often beyond the grocery store and Costco… so when I shop… I shop!

When the boys got home from school we headed over to Costco. Blake got new glasses this weekend and they were ready to be picked up. We actually got him glasses and prescription sunglasses. He was very happy since he’s never been able to wear sunglasses. Both the boys now have to order adult size glasses. This was a challenge, but worked out fine. I also picked up a package while I was there. Richard ordered me a new laptop. I’ve had this one for quite a while and it was refurbished at the time. I’m excited for him to come home and set it up. The one I have/had couldn’t hold a charge for the last two years so it really is a stationary laptop now. It will be nice to have a lighter laptop that hold a charge so I can use it where ever I want, not just at the end of my island.

My parent purchased me a Kindle Paperwhite E-reader – Black, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers that I started playing with today. I finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition (Harry Potter, Book 3) yesterday so today I downloaded a book to read. I set up Goodreads first and downloaded Coming to Rosemont: The First Novel in the Rosemont Series. I’ve only read the prologue so I won’t share anything about it yet, but I will. Hmmm maybe I’ll take my kindle outside and read later?

I hope spring has sprung in your part of the world. Time to make dinner. We are have quesadillas tonight…. so easy! I have one more recipe from Alton Brown: EveryDayCook, Roasted Thanksgiving Salad.  This one is healthy and tasty and full of veggies.

family · food · reviews

Alton Brown’s Pizza Dough

The week of Alton continues with tonight’s edition… pizza! I made a batch of Alton Brown’s pizza dough from his book Alton Brown: EveryDayCook, are you motivated to buy this cookbook yet? (Did you see my post about his fish sticks that I made on Friday? No?!? Click here and check it out)

I did not make any changes to this recipe, so you can find it here on Alton’s site. I did measure everything out with my kitchen scale. I made it in the bread machine instead of in the stand mixer, I just have better luck with dough this way.

You need to plan ahead with this recipe because the dough needs to rise in the fridge 18-24 hours. You take the dough out 30 minute before making your pizza product. Alton suggests cutting the dough into three. We used this to make three different products. We made a grilled pepperoni pizza, a baked two cheese stromboli and garlic butter rolls.

pizza1To make the rolls, I cut the dough into bite size pieces and then rolls them around into a ball shape. I put cornmeal on the counter while I worked as well as on the baking sheet to add extra crunch and prevent sticking. I baked these in a 450 oven for 17 minutes. While they baked I heated EVOO and microplanned 3 cloves of garlic into the oil. When the garlic just began to brown, I added 1/2 stick of butter and let this melt. When it was melted, I brushed it on top of the rolls. (These rolls were my favorite part of the meal.. .just saying!)pizza3

Richard made the pizza and stromboli. For the pizza, he grills both sides of the dough on screaming hot grill. When they are starting to brown on both sides, he brings it in and tops it with sauce, cheese and pepperoni. Then it goes back on the grill to crisp up and melt the cheese. The grill wasn’t as hot as we like it so the crust wasn’t as crunchy this time.

pizza2The dough for the stromboli gets stretched and tossed the same way the pizza dough does. He then lays it onto a cookie sheet and puts the toppings on one half of the dough. This time it was mozzarella and provolone cheese. (We never put sauce in our stromboli because it seems to make the crust mushy.) Then you fold the un-filled part of the dough over the filled and roll the edges together to crimp them. You also need to cut in vent holes to let the steam out. This gets baked for 20-25 min in a 350 oven. We have decided that next time we will make it in a hotter oven for less time since the rolls came out really crispy and yummy.

I will be making this pizza dough again!

A few things we learned:

  • Make sure you put the dough in a large enough bowl over night, ours was over the top and down the sides in the morning
  • These rolls were so worth it and I’ll make them again, but make sure they are closer in size, the bigger ones were good (by big I mean doughnut hole size instead of walnut size)
  • Possible additions/alterations to the rolls
    • put fresh mozzarella in the middle
    • put cheddar cheese in the middle and serve with soup or chili
  • The garlic butter needed more garlic and maybe a pinch or two of salt
  • Go for a hotter oven/grill and shorter cook time.
book · reviews

Snowfall at Willow Lake– book review

I just got back from a 2 mile walk in the neighborhood. I needed to go put something in the mailbox, we have central mailboxes not ones at each house, so I decided to take a real walk. I love the fact that I can get a good walk in right in my neighborhood and I don’t even have to walk the same route each time or walk in circles to get a decent distance in.

I could take this walk because spring has finally arrived. It is so nice to have the windows open. We have turned off the heat and don’t need to turn on the A/C yet so that will save on the gas and electric bill… that is always a good thing!

Yesterday while the boys were playing on the PS4 and Richard was building his workbench, which is almost finished, I decided to get my book from upstairs and finish it off. I have been reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban downstairs. I have been enjoying this trip back to Hogwarts that I decided to take. I also like having a book downstairs that I can read. I need something that I can put down at any time. I need something that will hold my attention, but not enrapture me so much that I loose track of time. AND most important, I need a book that has the qualities that I try to pick out in the books the boys read. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught them reading over my shoulder… some adult books are still very much not appropriate for them, and I don’t read smut books.

Anyway,…. I finished reading Snowfall at Willow Lake, by Susan Wiggs. This book is part of a series, but I’ve never read any of the other books in the series, at least I don’t think I have. My mom brought this book to me on her last trip up to PA.

Sophie Bellamy would appear to have everything someone could want in life. She worked in Hague as an international attorney. She dedicated her life to helping others. But, when life took a turn and she found herself in a hostage situation, she realized that the life she was leading was missing one big piece, her children.

Sophie decided then and there to move back to the United States, into the town where her children lived with her ex-husband and his new wife, and her whole family. This transition won’t be easy, and not even close to smooth, but she needs to put her life into a new perspective.

Life decides to throw her one more curve ball when she crashes her car the night she arrives in Avalon. Noah Shepherd, the local veterinarian came to her rescue that night. Read to find out if Sophie can mend her relationship with her son Max and daughter Daisy. How will she adjust to being a grandmother to her grandson Charlie? Can she live in a small town filled with her ex-husband’s family and new wife’s family? What will come about in meeting Noah Shepherd?

I just started reading my next book last night and I’m already enjoying it. Maybe I should take it outside and read it in the sunshine? What are you reading? Where is your favorite place to read? Do you read one book at a time or multiple?

–This link contains affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you anything extra if you purchase an item through these links, and I get a little extra to help. Please read my disclosure statement.  Thanks!–


book · life

To Kindle or not to Kindle… that is the question

So yesterday I began the search for my next book to read. I didn’t find one, but I began thinking that I may need to give in and get a kindle. So many of the books I was looking at I could get free for the kindle with my Amazon Prime membership, but had to pay over $12 to get the paperback version. I’m so hesitant. I have tried to read on my phone and on my tablet and hated it. I keep reading that if you get the kindle paperwhite it is so much better and feels more book-like. I read a lot (see my book reviews here) and know that I would make back the cost of the kindle in short time, but….

So, do you have a kindle that you read on or other device for reading? Do you have the paperwhite or the original version? What do you like most about it, least? Is it worth the expense? Can you find enough books on there that are worth reading with little to no expense?

On the same but different topic… I need a new books soon. I am almost done reading the book I have on my nightstand. I also just finished reading the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, yes in the illustrated version again. I am going to start reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as we have that illustrated version too. But, I do not have a desire to read those at bedtime, they are a bit cumbersome. So what should I look at next? I like historical fiction, mystery, romance (not smut), and just general fiction books.

**this post contains Amazon links. please read my disclosure statement.  thanks!**

book · reviews · through my camera lens

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone


Yesterday I finished re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. This time, I read the illustrated version. Santa has been bringing these versions to the boys the last few years.

Harry Potter is one of those series that people either love or hate. People have either read all the books or none of them. This is a series that crosses age and interest levels. It is an easy read since it is written on a young adult level.

The illustrated version is fantastic. I loved the details of the illustrations. It was enough to help you visualize the story pieces, but not so much that it would interfere with you creating your own images in your brain.

These photos do not do the book justice, but it does give you a glimpse into it. Yes, I know this version is expensive, but if you are a Harry Potter fan, or know one…. it is so worth it!

I started re-reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets today, this time the illustrated version. I will again just read this book in the afternoons when the boys are doing their homework. It is a nice break at that time of the day and if I have to stop it isn’t a big deal as I’ve already read the whole series.