Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

Whew it was a doozy of a week! Midterms, a teething baby, and a husband with the flu!!! I was actually more prolific on the blog this week too; I think with everything going on, I needed some time to relax, and I found that here.

This week we celebrate Wyatt's first birthday! I am so excited, and I seriously can't believe it has been a year already. Where did the time go? We are having a Where the Wild Things Are themed party for him - I can't wait! It is also book club week, which is always fun.

Read Last Week:

Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson: I think with my crazy week, this was the perfect read. Review coming soon.

Reading this week:


Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica: I will probably start this one, although I need to concentrate on Neanderthal Seeks Human - which is our book club book!

I am also still chugging along on the Oregon Trail book by Rinker Buck!


The Walking Dead, Top Chef, iZombie, and The Originals are my current favorites right now, with the addition of 11/22/63. 11/22/63 is amazing so far!!! And it doesn't hurt that I have a huge crush on James Franco anyway.  

Posted Last Week:

So what is the happs with you? 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

My Grandma's Coconut Tarts

My family is divided into two camps: The Coconut Tart people, and the Empire Biscuit people. Don't get me wrong, we will gladly eat either/or, but..we have a preference for one or the other. I love a good Empire Biscuit, but Coconut Tarts are my weakness. My grandma made them every Christmas and it was the dessert I looked forward to the most.

My grandmother is gone now, but my Uncle Art has taken up the mantle, and baked the tarts for the holidays. Yesterday I spent some much needed time in the kitchen, learning how to bake these tarts. I have decided to share my love for these with all of you! Just note - I am not a baker, nor am I a food blogger. Lol. My tarts look a little more rustic than professional - I have not managed pretty food yet, just yummy tasting! Because these turned out awesome in flavor, if I do say so myself.

Surprisingly, these are not a health food! :) They are fattening and delicious!

Ingredients for the gooey coconut filling:

3/4 cup sugar
1 can Eagle Brand condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 lb. butter melted
1 egg
3/4 cup coconut, firmly packed

For the pastry - my uncle's version:

2 c. flour
2/3 c. butter flavored Crisco + 4 additional TB (my mom uses cold butter but I don't know how much)
a pinch of salt
2/3 c. water

Preheat the oven to 425.

We made the filling first, but I don't think it matters which you start with. It was easy! Basically, just combine all the above ingredients in a bowl, and whisk until everything is mixed really well. You want to make sure you really incorporate the sugar, it has a tendency to want to sit on the bottom.

Next we made the pastry- this was a little bit more complex but not too terribly difficult. I just really hate getting my hands dirty. Bleh. You start by adding all the ingredients together in a medium to large size bowl- we used a vintage Pyrex one which I am sure was not bought vintage like mine were. Then I cut it in the Crisco using a pastry cutter. Once this was all cut in well, my uncle showed me the next technique, of making the dough all crumbly. I am not sure of the technical terms, but we called it making it crumbly.

This technique involved running it between his hands, using the friction to combine it and make it all crumbled into little balls, Once the mixture was all crumbly balls, we could easily roll it all together into a ball.

Once we had this nice round ball of dough, we split it into two balls. Next, we placed one of the halves onto a floured piece of wax paper to roll out. We also put another piece of wax paper over the top of the dough, so it was sandwiched between two floured sheets of wax paper. Then I commenced rolling. You want it nice and thin, but not too thin. Maybe 1/4 inch thick. 

 We had some little helping hands too. My cousin's three year old daughter assisted me.

Once it is rolled out, you can cut circles to place into the muffin tray. I would say the one my uncle used was about 4" across. He said this was not perfect but it worked for him. So maybe the size of a wide mouth water glass. 

Once you roll out all the dough and have cut the circles, you can start slowly placing them into the muffin tin. This part is the slowest, most laborious part in my opinion. 

Mine were a bit messy but looked like this when I was done. A bit of a trick - instead of using your fingers to press the dough down into the tins and onto the sides, once you have it set in loosely, you can use a small lump of dough as a little press instead of your fingers. 

Once you have everything ready to go, you are ready to fill! Give that filling a good whisking again to stir up any sugar that may have settled while you did all this stuff with the dough. When finished, add about 2 TB filling to each tart. This is entirely up to you, how much is added. I just wouldn't suggest all the way to the top, because then they will overflow during cooking. Pop them into the oven for about 15 minutes (12-17, but we did 15) until the dough is a nice golden brown, and the filling has a nice golden color as well. My uncle then covers his with a dish towel for a few minutes to trap the heat a little longer without baking. 

Once they cool, enjoy! Perfect with a milky, sugary cup of tea. Yum!

And that is all there is to it! I hope I did an ok job explaining this - I didn't realize how difficult it was to write down a recipe that is mostly conveyed by look and feel in our family. If you try to make them, let me know how it goes!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Reading Habits Survey

Reading Habits Survey

Just for fun, from View From My Home-

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
Definitely.  I like to read while sitting on the right hand side of the couch, leaning against the arm rest with my legs tucked up under me, usually surrounded by cats at their whim of course. Sometimes I even get all three cuddled up next to me. I also read in bed for about ten minutes before passing out - this is the most likely scenario these days. Other times, I decide to forgo all my responsibilities during Wyatt's nap-time and I will read in the comfy chair next to his crib while he sleeps. That is probably my favorite place and time to read these days, and I don't allow myself to do that as often as I should.
2. Do you use a bookmark or a random piece of paper?
I have a ton of cool bookmarks, but I usually just use whatever flat is laying around me - like Rita, mainly envelopes or appointment cards. Sometimes those advertising postcards or receipts make it in as well. Most often though, I make a mental note of the page number I left off on and don't use anything.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter or a certain amount of pages?

I can stop wherever, even midsentence at times.
4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
Yep, I'm a snacker while I read. Or a lunch eater, dinner eater, etc. When I worked I always ate in my office like a loner, dining alone with my book for company.

5. Do you watch TV or listen to music while reading?
Sometimes. I don't intentionally do it - it is usually when Billy is watching something and I want to read. I find it harder to concentrate but I can do it, especially if I am super involved in a book.
6. Do you read one book at a time or several at once?
I read many books at a time. I usually have three going for a while, then one once hits a spot that I can't put it down, I focus on that one. Before Wyatt (BW) I used to have a morning, afternoon, and evening book. Now it is more of a fun book, book club book, and review book deal I have going.
7. Do you prefer to read at home or anywhere?
I prefer to read at home but can read anywhere, and take books with me - or I used to. I guess I still would if I am alone. I also always take books for the kiddo too. You never know when you get that moment to squeeze in a book, and he loves them.
8. Do you read out loud or silently?
Silently, unless I am reading to Wyatt.

9. Do you read ahead or skip pages?
I have been known to skip ahead to the ending to see what happens when I am halfway through a book - sometimes I just need to know!!!

10. Do you break the spine or keep it like new?
I will just say, if I own a book, you can tell that it has been well read....

If it is not mine, then I return them in the condition that I borrowed them.

11. Do you write in your books?
Yes. I like to underline my favorite quotes or star them! Or sometimes make little notes - I am a big rereader of all my books that I own and sometimes it is cool to see what I was thinking or what I liked when I read it the last time. I don't always do it, just when something particularly strikes my fancy.

I know, I am a book sinner!! I skip ahead, my books look well read, and I write in them. Lol.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

"Quick to the point, to the point no faking" book reviews

Feeling very white rabbitlike with my book reviews lately. They are piling up behind me, and as today is a snow day (no therapy for my little guy) and my husband is home sick, I am going to take a few and try to do some catching up! 
Bonus points if you can tell me what song my blog post title is from! Lol.

I love these books. They are like a self-indulgent box of chocolates with a big glass of red wine. Or whatever floats your boat. The covers are pretty, the heroines are tough, savvy, independent, and the love interests are actually interesting. I also love the fact that Hocking introduced trolls to the line up of supernatural beings in YA. Pretty trolls but trolls. This is the third book in the Kanin Chronicles and I was so excited to read it - I wasn't let down. Action and adventure, love, mysteries revealed - it was a fun read! This is my favorite series that Hocking has written - I feel she just gets better and better.

A slight departure from Higgins' usual fare, this book has a little more meat and substance to it than the usual romance. And I loved it. This book was more complex, and explored the relationship of sisters, mothers, fathers - and how we view them in comparison to how they may really be, as the humans that they are. As we all are. It deals with infidelity, divorce, the death of a spouse - and while this seems like a whole lot for one little book to handle, Higgins pulled it off masterfully. I loved Jenny and Rachel, and of course, Leo, the tortured musician downstairs. I loved this book, and I hope that Higgins writes more like this one! 

~ Thank you to my friend Mary, who picked this for book club! 

I checked this out from the library after reading the second book in the series, The Final Tap, which I received from NetGalley. I really liked The Final Tap, and was just interested enough to see what I had missed in the first book. I am glad I did! I love living history museums, and this book really speaks to that history loving wannabe museum director inside me. The series is fun and escapist - although this first book was a bit slow and dragged on just a tad. I wanted to kind of rush through bits of it, or tell the characters to hurry up. Despite this, with a whole pile of books to choose from and some hopscotch reading, this was the book that held my interest, and this was the book that I finished. I think that speaks more than anything else I could say. I think the characters are interesting and I look forward to seeing them grow with the series. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

I don't have too much to say today about our week last week - it was just one of those weeks, where thankfully not much happens and you just go about your business of living and being a family and doing all the things that need to be done. Saturday is worth mentioning however just for the weather! We had a sunny day in the mid-60s right smack in the middle of February- what the heck! It was awesome but so crazy.

We also saw Deadpool yesterday - I loved it!! It is pretty graphic but hilarious.

And Harper sad.

“Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” 
― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

Read Last Week:

I didn't stick to my plan! A bunch of my library holds came in and I couldn't settle on a book until Thursday. I just kept hopscotching around, reading a little of this, a little of that. I finally ended up sticking with this one:

The Final Reveille by Amanda Flower: The first book in the Living History Mystery series. It wasn't too bad - I didn't like it as much as I liked the second book in the series, The Final Tap, but I did enjoy it. I am just all about the cozy mysteries and thrillers this winter!

Reading This Week:

I am not sure! It will be something from this lineup, I do know that. Or maybe just some from both! 


Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson: From Blogging from Books.

The Long Read:

Still reading Oregon Trail and loving it! I actually want to try to finish it this week - make that final push to the end!

Posted Last Week:

What about all of you? Read anything good, do anything fun?

Friday, February 19, 2016

What Wyatt's Reading- February Edition

Wyatt and I have just been reading through this cold month! There are so many holidays in February that we were not able to cover them all - a goal for next year! After Groundhog Day, we moved on to President's Day, Black History Month, and of course Valentine's Day - next year we will definitely be adding Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras, if it is in February again.

Speaking of Mardi Gras, Detroit has its own Fat Tuesday tradition - Paczki Day! This is traditionally a Polish celebration and we have a large population of people of Polish descent in our area of Michigan. Naturally, a holiday as delicious as Paczki Day is enjoyed by everyone - everyone is Polish on Paczki Day! A paczki is similar to a jelly donut, and come in many flavors: custard, lemon (my favorite), raspberry, chocolate, strawberry, and prune are top choices. Yes, prune. Lol. I bought Billy and I each a paczki, and also, one for Wyatt. He only got a little taste, but his tiny taste buds were blown.away.


Anyway back to the books!

This is what we have finished:

 Abe Lincoln's Dream by Lane Smith: I'm not sure what I thought of this book. It was kind of weird. I did learn that Ronald Reagan's dog would drive everyone crazy by barking at the Lincoln bedroom door all day...

The Ballad of Valentine by Alison Jackson: I loved this book, and so did Wyatt. You can sing it to the tune of Clementine, and I dare you not to. You just can't help yourself! It is designed to be sung and it is very well done. Wyatt loved it - he loves all things music.

John, Paul, George and Ben by Lane Smith: I liked this book much better than the Lincoln book. It was pretty cute, and would be a good way to introduce history to kids.

Llama Llama I love you by Anna Dewdney: Super adorable board book. Short and sweet and good for gnawing on as well. I am sure it comes in a less durable format as well for those children who have moved beyond eating their reading material.

Madam President by Lane Smith: LOVED this one! It mixes fact with fiction in a good way, through the imagination of a little girl who dreams of being President one day. 

Porcupining: A Prickly Love Story by Lisa Wheeler: Not technically a Valentines Day book, but this is an old favorite. This poor porcupine is just looking for love in all the wrong places - until he finally meets his prickly match! Lisa Wheeler is also a local author, and I love that too. 

A Boy and a Jaguar: I picked this one up because I loved the cover, but what was between the pages was a much more beautiful story. A little boy who stutters makes a promise that if he ever finds his voice, he will speak for those who can't speak for themselves - animals. This book is wonderful and I think it is a story for all ages to enjoy, honestly. It's a true story, as well. I teared up a little, just an FYI.

Still to Read:

We are working on these this week!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

Happy Valentines Day! I hope you had a great day!
Here is a link to a post I put up on Valentines Day a few years ago - I love this as much now as I did then!

Last week, I wrote about Wyatt and our feeding issues with him. Thank you, for all your comments and stories and well wishes and prayers. All are so appreciated. I am feeling in a much more positive place than where I was last week- we have a plan, we are sticking to it, and I think we have just the beginnings of a bit more chub on his cheeks and wrists. Yay! 

It was ultra-cold this weekend where we live, and we decided to stay indoors, where Billy and I baked like crazy people. We are addicted to the British Bake Off show, and felt inspired. We made a cake from scratch from a 100 year old recipe, and bagels from scratch as well. As for how everything turned out, that is for another post. We are hoping to make one more thing before the weekend is up, but we are running out of time! We shall see.

Read Last Week:

I didn't make much headway in the Oregon Trail, but I did read a little bit. Still very good, just slow going - snail's pace even.  

Crystal Kingdom by Amanda Hocking: I finally finished this book - I love Amanda Hocking. I first read her Trylle series right before they were picked up by a publisher, when she was still self-publishing, and I was not surprised she was picked up. I think these stories are original, something different in this genre. So far, this is my favorite of her series. Maybe it's all the rabbits. I love bunnies.

Reading This Week:


My library did their blind date with a book promo this year again. I went for it, and am excited to read my blind date:

Lucky You by Carl Hiaasen: I have not read anything by this author, other than his book Hoot. I am looking forward to this!


The Great British Bake Off, Bones (we are up to Season 7!), and Top Chef. 

So, that is what is going on in my world - what's going on in yours?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

This week was a rough one. Even now, as I sit here, I feel slightly ill. My extended family had some health emergencies, nothing serious thank goodness, but they kept me on my toes! But it's my little guy causing me worry. He was born 7 weeks early, and tiny. He is still tiny. The doctors are not happy with his growth rate and weight gain, and told us that in five weeks they are going to reevaluate his weight, and if he hasn't gained any, they want to put in a gastric feeding tube. This destroys me. I of course want my child to be healthy and grow and get everything he needs, but I don't want to destroy his growing relationship with eating and food either. He loves eating actual food - he hates drinking. This is the whole problem with his weight gain. He likes to help feed himself, and he just doesn't have a huge appetite. He is not intaking enough calories per day though. We can't force him to eat, although that compulsion is hard to quelch with this feeding tube looming over me. I don't know what to do. I don't know enough about g-tubes to even know if it is as big of a deal as it is in my head. I do know it is another surgery, and my guy has already had two surgeries, both within the first 2 months of his life. If anyone has any experience with any of this, I would love to hear about it. 

With all of this going on, my reading time has been sparse or related to finding high calorie foods my son will eat. However, I have gotten some in - but just a tiny bit.

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck: I am just a wee bit into this book but I am really enjoying it so far, honestly. I now want to own my own team of mules! They are pretty fascinating creatures, believe it or not. 

Crystal Kingdom by Amanda Hocking: I just started this as well - it is a nice reprieve from the trail. Lol. I love it, but then, I love this series.

Posted Last Week

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Coloring Book Review: Whatever is Lovely

Title: Whatever is Lovely - A coloring book for reflection and worship
Source: Blogging for Books

Since the trend of adult coloring books became popular, I have wanted one. I loved coloring when I was a little girl. My mom said I would happily sit and color for hours and hours when I was a kid, and I wondered if it would hold the same magic for me now.

One thing I am short on is time these days. Between taking care of W. and all the other myriad things that make up my day, by the end of the night I am burnt. Tired. Exhausted. I usually flop on the couch in my most comfortable jams and veg away to television. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy that too. But a few times this week I also colored while the television was on, and I found on those nights, I slept better. Easier. I usually fall out pretty quickly, but wake up a lot too. I figure I will do this forever now, wanting to check on the boy, but I did feel more at peace than I had for a while.

I loved the illustrations and quotations on every page of this book. The quotations themselves are from the bible, or from inspirational writers and bloggers, and even hymns. I am not super familiar with bible verses so I am learning as I flip through and color too. The reverse side of every coloring page is the bible verse or quotation in its entirety, along with the credited author or source.  I used the nifty Crayola twistable crayons that my husband put in my stocking this Christmas, and I liked those too!

My first colored page. I chose this one because this is something I try to remind myself every day. W. has some complications due to his prematurity, and I spend a lot of time worrying about the little guy. I need to really focus on today, and try not to worry about the future.

I am doing this one next, because I like rabbits and forests. Lol. The quote itself is from a favorite hymn of fisherman from northern England around 1880, and is based on Psam 32:7. 

Something we all need to remember, this is from blogger Emily P. Freeman, at She also has written a book entitled Simply Tuesday, which I have not read but may soon be reading.

Once you color a page, if you are so inspired you can link up to the instagram for this coloring book using the specific hashtag #whateverislovely (also good for Twitter, Facebook, etc). Another cool feature - this coloring book has a link to a playlist on Spotify. I am loving the social media incorporation, social media nerd that I am.

Overall, I love this coloring book! I didn't quite feel like I did when I was a kid, but I did feel like I could sit and color for hours if I could have. The illustrations and quotes were definitely peaceful and reminded me to be mindful, and to slow down - not everything is a race to the end of the day. I definitely recommend this coloring book to anyone who is wanting to give this new hobby a go, or to anyone who is already enjoying this popular new trend.