Wednesday, December 28, 2016

WOW {WarmOven Wednesday}

Another favorite dish that I found on Pinterest!

1 lb. Ground Beef
1 can of Ranch Style Beans (Optional)
1 bag of Doritos (I use Taco Flavor)
1/2 Onion Chopped (I use Sweet Yellow Onion)
1 can of Ro-Tel
1 Packet of Taco Seasoning
1 can of Cream of Chicken
2 cups Cheddar Cheese (or more if wanted)
Serve with Salsa & Sour Cream


Preheat the Oven to 350 degrees. Then grease your Casserole Dish ( 9 x 11 x 3) with a spritz of Pam.

Next drain the ground beef & return it to the pan. Then mix in the taco seasoning, 1/2 cup of water, can of ro-tel and cream of chicken. (Add Ranch Style Beans at this point if used). Simmer for 5 minutes. 
Now it's time to layer... divide everything into thirds. Starting with Doritos.Then Meat Mixture & Cheese.
Repeat & Repeat. 
Cover and throw in the oven for approx. 27 minutes. Cook until cheese is bubbly.
Then I add tomatoes and lettuce on top.  With a side of salsa . . . O!SO!GOOD!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Unlimited by Davis Bunn



My Thoughts:  I'm SO excited because Davis Bunn has written another novel!  Davis Bunn writes a fantastic novel in Unlimited. It includes the drug cartel and lots and lots of adventure!!
We meet Simon Orwell.  Poor Simon his whole life seems nothing but an endless stream of wrong choices.  But just when Simon is about to give up on his dreams, his old professor calls him about a device he has discovered and he needs Simon's help.  Simon has no idea what this device that creates unlimited energy is worth or that there are those who will seek for it.
Of course, Simon wants to help but is this more than Simon bargained for?!?  Simon is nearly killed by whom he guesses is the drug cartel.  Battered and bruised Simon seeks help and Harold Finch is the only one who seems to want to help poor Simon.  Harold Finch runs the local orphanage along with his beautiful sister, Sophie.  Simon learns that Harold has given up quite a career to serve God. 
Simon can trust few people and there are more secrets than a basketful  of weevils.  But Simon perseveres because he is determined to find the killer and he wants to know the "why of it all."  
The "why of it all" is quite interesting!  
An excellent read! 


Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Books (September 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 143367940X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433679407

Monday, December 26, 2016

Andi Unexpected (An Andi Boggs Novel) by Amanda Flower

Book Description:  Twelve-year-old Andora 'Andi' Boggs and her fourteen-year-old sister Bethany move to rural Ohio to live with their eccentric twenty-something aunt after the sudden death of their parents. While dealing with her grief, Andi discovers proof of another Andora Boggs in the family tree whose existence was hidden in a Depression-era trunk in the attic. With help from her new friend and neighbor, Colin Carter, Andi is determined to find out who this first Andora was and what happened to her.

My Thoughts:  Andora "Andi"  Boggs and her sister are left as orphans when their parents are killed in a plane crash.  Now, the girls are left in the care of their aunt, Amelia. Amelia is only in her twenties and not parent material…but for all of her quirks and mess ups she does a fairly good job with the girls.
This is a "fun" mystery.  I enjoy Amanda Flower's easy way with words.  This story has a flair that stems from the "early days" when kids could roam freely from one place to another without fear of predators.  So, with this in mind Andi and her neighbor, Colin, find a trunk with "leadings" to the first Andora.
As an adult I liked this mystery so I think that most 9 -12 year olds (maybe even some early teens)  would enjoy this clean mystery.  And it's such a nice hardback book - great for gift giving!



  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Series: An Andi Boggs Novel
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz (September 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031073701X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310737018

Friday, December 23, 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fiction Guild The Cherished Quilt (An Amish Heirloom Novel) by Amy Clipston

My Thoughts: Amy Clipston is a favorite author of mine.  
Emily is a kind and generous young woman who feels that life is like a quilt and can be stitched together.  And it seems that quilting and Amish women go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Emily is anxious to meet her father's new employee, Christopher.  But when they first meet...it seems that an Christopher has an iceberg for a heart.  Poor Emily.  However, Emily is not deterred.
She feels that Christopher needs friendship and so she decides to make him a quilt.  
And then Christopher must leave and return to Ohio for some emergency....just when he and Emily might be having "feelings" for one another.  
I like the easy way this story reads.  And, yes, it is somewhat predicable, but I like it.  It makes for a great holiday read to warm one's heart and a reminder that everyone is going through something.  So, be nice to everyone you meet.
A great story and a would make a great gift for that reader on your list!

*This book was provided for review by Fiction Guild*

Meet the Author:  




  • Series: An Amish Heirloom Novel
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (November 29, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310341965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310341963

Fiction Guild The Silent Songbird (Hagenheim #7) by Melanie Dickerson



My Thoughts:  Ahhh!  I think these stories that  retell the fairy tales by Melanie Dickerson are so neat and unusual. And I was excited to receive the next Hagenheim "series" book!
The Silent Songbird is a retelling of The Little Mermaid.    We loved the Disney Little Mermaid so I was interested to read about Evangeline or Eva in this happy retelling of a fairy tale.
However, one won't find the ocean as the backdrop in this story even though there is a water rescue and Eva has a beautiful singing voice.
Eva wants freedom from King Richard II of whom she is a ward.  So, she takes matters into her own hands when King Richard II insists that she marry an older man.
So, Eva with her maid, Muriel (a nice play on a name), runs away to "play" the life of a servant.  She and Muriel meet Wesley.  As the story continues, Eva doesn't want to tell Wesley who she is...Eva is afraid Wesley will no longer like her/trust her.
An intersting twist to a beloved fairy tale.  

*This book was provided for review byThe Fiction Guild*

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 8, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718026314
  • ISBN-13: 978-071802631Fiction

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

Southerners and sweet potatoes go together like bread and butter!
And since my home is filled with southerners I make this WONDERFUL casserole from Taste of Home EVERY Christmas   
I make it a day ahead, store in the refrigerator and bake right before Christmas dinner!
OH!SO!DELICIOUS!

Ingredients

  • CASSEROLE:
  • 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 pounds (about 4 cups) sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled and mashed               (I use 1 LARGE can of sweet potatoes)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • TOPPING:
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I add 1 cup of pecans because they make it so nutty and good)
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut (I don't use coconut)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions


  • In a large bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, butter, eggs, milk, vanilla extract and sugar. Spread into a greased 1-1/2-qt. casserole.
  • For topping, combine all the ingredients and sprinkle over potatoes. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160°. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul




 My Review:  I so enjoy Christmas reads and this read has become a favorite of mine!  I chose this book partially because of the cover.  I love the book cover.  It depicts the "specialness" of the season.  The two ball tickets on the front with glowing lights in the background is a beautiful sight, makes one feel that as you open the book you are entering the story.
I was hooked from page one of this book.  The story of Cora and then meeting Simon and his sweet, loving family was like meeting friends.  
Cora has quite a few issues from her childhood but Simon, who also happens to be Cora's boss, has a sweet, kind family.  Simon and Cora have worked in the same office for over five years but neither has met the other until the fateful day they both go shopping for a book at a quaint bookstore on Sage Street.  Both Cora and Simon are secretly given tickets to the Wizard's Ball in their books.  And this is the part of the story that was so real and cute...Simon's loving, Down's Syndrome sister hears Simon telling about the ball and insists that she will attend.  Simon who can't tell her no is caught up in the preparations for the ball . .  .  And this is where the story really begins.
It's a mystery how Simon and Cora meet and then how their paths cross, how they are caught up in the Christmas Ball preparations and best of all the mystery of how it will all work out?
I love the quote on page 224 as Simon tells Cora, "The Christmas spirit is giving what you already have, not going out to find something to buy . . . . The gift is a symbol of respect, love, honor. And that's what you have."
This read has a "tinge of mystic" to it.  Nothing evil or bad.  Just makes one think about the usage of terms we use now.  The Wizard's Ball (maybe a "bad" connotation to some) is simply older gentlemen who give an extravagant ball for those who are less fortunate (wizard is actually someone who is older and wiser).  
I absolutely loved, loved this read!  It was like eating a snicker doodle cookie.  Wonderfully light with a hint of cinnamon.  
This is definitely a fictional, feel good light read that's just right for the holidays!  If you enjoy a 10 star read with a wonderful cast of characters and a truly Christian view of people and our Savior's birth then you'll want to read "Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball."



Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307458997
  • ASIN: B0078Y05RY
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs

Book Description:  Christmas Eve 1894
 All Margaret Campbell wants for Christmas is a safe journey home. When her plans for a festive holiday with her family in Stirling crumble beneath the weight of her brother’s bitterness, the young schoolteacher wants nothing more than to return to the students she loves and the town house she calls home.  Then an unexpected detour places her in the path of Gordon Shaw, a handsome newspaperman from Glasgow, who struggles under a burden of remorse and shame.  When the secret of their shared history is revealed, will it leave them tangled in a knot of regret? Or might their past hold the threads that will bind their future together? As warm as a woolen scarf on a cold winter’s eve, A Wreath of Snow is a tender story of love and forgiveness, wrapped in a celebration of all things Scottish, all things Victorian, and, especially, all things Christmas.

My Thoughts: I love a crackling fire, a cup of Candy Candy Lane Tea and a Christmas read!  
I sat in my favorite chair the other day with my Candy Cane Lane Tea and A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs.
I was instantly transported to another time and another place...a victorian time when the cold train ride could lead to an unexpected adventure.  This train ride leads Margaret Campbell on an unexpected journey...A journey of love and forgiveness.  
This is a short novella that can be read quickly and easily.  Also, a great gift with its nice hard back cover and beautiful artwork!
A true Christmas story!  But in my opinion Liz Curtis Higgs never writes a "bad" story.

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400072174
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400072170

Thursday, December 15, 2016

God Made You Nose to Toes by Leslie Parrott, Valeria Petrone

My Thoughts:  This was one of my son's favorite books when he was little.  And I like it because it introduces children to the Creator and body parts...not in detail . . . nose, hands, arms, toes, legs, eyes.
This is not a big book; in fact, it's just right for little hands to hold.  And it's a board book so if little hands are dirty, it can be wiped off with a damp cloth.
It's  a fun book with lots of rhymes and bright colors.  And a book that little ones can "read" too.
It also has a cute parrot...and it's written by the wife of Dr. Les Parrot.  {Did you get the connection?}  
Drs. Les & Leslie Parrot have written many great books and this book for kids five and under is just another book to add to your collection.
It also makes a great gift!

*This book was provided for review by BookLook*

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: ZonderKidz; Board Books edition (December 2, 2001)
  • ASIN: B001UPGJHC

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}


Time for baking cookies for Christmas! 
 OH!YES!  Love at first bite when I tasted Mrs. Bush's favorite cookie!

Laura Bush's Texas Governor's Mansion Cowboy Cookies
Yield: enough cookies to feed most of the Lone Star State
3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
2 cups chopped pecans (8 oz) (optional - I omit)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a second bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. 

Stir in the flour mixture, blending until just combined. Add the chips, oats, coconut, and pecans and stir until fully incorporated.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto an ungreased baking sheet, making sure to allow plenty of room between cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are set and golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 1-2 minutes before placing on a cooling rack.

Adapted from Family Circle magazine 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Dangerous Stage {Protection for Hire} by Camy Tang


My Thoughts:  I loved the first book in this series Protection for Hire.  Now A Dangerous Stage is, again, about Tessa, but enter the lawyer, Charles Britton.  Charles is the lawyer who sent Tessa to prison (for a crime she didn't commit).  
Tessa's faith is tried, for it seems that lies abound everywhere she turns after she is hired by one of the contestants to delve into a shady singing competition.
Now, I REALLY love Camy Tang's books because they have a lot of action mixed with mounds of faith!  Camy isn't preachy but she gets the point across.  A lot like Tessa who lives her faith!
Tessa is one tough lady but she has a soft center just like a wonderful chocolate, caramel truffle but that tough exterior makes her seem like an iron maiden.   
I wasn't sure about Charles...can a "wimpy" lawyer truly help a feisty lady like Tessa?!  Will Charles really stand "tough?"  These were a couple of questions I had when Tessa meets up with Charles.
I must say that I enjoyed A Dangerous Stage even more than I enjoyed reading Protection for Hire.
One doesn't need to read Protection for Hire before reading A Dangerous Stage but reading the first book will help in understanding Tessa and her mafia family.
This is one great read!

*This book was provided for review by Zondervan Publishing*

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Original edition (October 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310320348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310320340

Monday, December 12, 2016

COTT {Clash of the Titles}

October November Clash Champion!

Congratulations to Kara Isaac, with 
Can't Help Falling

29430781 

Buy on Amazon
Buy on Barnes and Noble


A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England.

Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter façade, there’s a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can’t resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England—home to C.S. Lewis—to try and make amends for the damage she has caused.

Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain’s best rowers—until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He’s determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It’s the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream.

When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart? Cobblestone streets, an aristocratic estate, and an antique shop with curious a wardrobe bring the world of Narnia to life in Kara Isaac’s inspiring and romantic story about second chances.

What Voters Had to Say:

These authors are all a blessing! Please keep writing...You encourage us all!

The cover alone makes me want to read the book, which sounds like a wonderful read. :)

Loved Can't Help Falling. More please! :)

Keep writing, Kara! Love your books!

Kara Isaac, I have just discovered your books and love them. Keep it up! 

I loved Kara Isaac's first book, Close to You, so am really looking forward to reading Can't Help Falling. I enjoy her style of writing. I recommended Close to You to my book club, so hopefully we'll be reading and discussing it sometime in 2017.

I have read, and enjoyed, Can't Help Falling. As far as the covers, I have to vote for this one because what little you see of the guy's face, it looks like my son!!

I won Kara Isaac's Can't Help Falling on a Facebook giveaway and was wonderfully surprised at how much I loved this book! The cover is amazing and it really catches the eye!

Kara has a zany unique writing style that combines substance with heartfelt laughter

I'm not familiar with some of these authors but really like some of them!  Keep up the good work!

Kara Isaac, you have such a gift bringing comedy, romance, and meaning to your stories. I love them!! 

Wish I could have picked two books here, because Can't Help Falling caught me just by the description. I'll be looking for this one!

About the Author:

Kara Isaac
Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. When she's not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, released April 2016. Her sophomore novel, Can't Help Falling, released in October 2016 and is an RT Reviews Top Pick. She loves to connect with readers on GoodReads, Twitter, Facebook and through her website.






Thursday, December 8, 2016

All Is Calm, All Is Bright: A Colleen Coble Christmas Collection by Colleen Coble

Book Description: Return to two of Colleen Coble’s most beloved settings—Bluebird Ranch and Hope Beach—for holiday romance and mystery!

All Is Calm
It’s going to be an unexpectedly romantic Christmas at Bluebird Ranch.
Brendan Waddell has always considered Bluebird Ranch a little piece of heaven: an idyllic ranch that pairs abused children with abused horses, run by one of his Marine buddies. Now, it seems just the place to spend Christmas recovering from an on-the-job injury.
Lauren Everman first came to the ranch as a foster kid, but now knows it’s the perfect hideout. As the witness to a murder, Lauren needs somewhere to lie low. Her beauty immediately catches Brendan’s attention—but so does her secretive behavior. This Special Ops Intel man knows a woman on the run when he sees one. Can he trust her, or is she putting the ranch at risk? One thing is certain: he’s going to do everything he can to keep her safe so he can see what magic Christmas brings.
All Is Bright
A romantic Christmas wedding at Tidewater Inn gives Delilah’s unique gifts a chance to shine. But will her light be snuffed out before the bride and groom say “I do”?
As manager of the Tidewater Inn, Delilah Carter has been planning a spectacular Christmas wedding for her friend, Elin Summerall. But when Delilah’s car is forced off the road and into the ocean, she finally has to admit that the strange phone calls she’s been receiving lately may be more than just pranks.
Sheriff Tom Bourne has always had a soft spot for Delilah, and he’s determined to protect her. He hopes to win her heart by giving her the surprise gift of a lifetime . . . but first he has to make sure nothing happens to her before Christmas Day.
My Thoughts:  The Christmas reads are coming in...yay!  
Coleen Coble has two great novellas in one sweet book. 
The first novella, All Is Calm, is full of suspense.  Ironically, all is not calm at Bluebird Ranch.  Lauren Everman comes to the ranch to hide out.  She remembers the ranch from her days as a foster child. And Brendan Waddell comes to the ranch to visit friends. 
Brendan feels "love at first sight for Lauren.  But as he gets to know her he knows she is hiding something.  
A great short story full of suspense and mystery!
Then All Is Bright is the story about Delilah.  Delilah wants her friend to have the dream wedding she always wanted.  Sheriff Tom Bourne has admired Delilah and wants to protect her...he also wants to win her heart.  He plans a great surprise for her.  
Another great suspense short story with wonderful characters that come to life in the pages of a great read!


This book would make a nice Christmas card for someone who needs a lift during the holidays.


  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 6, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718037820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718037826

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Cherished Quilt (An Amish Heirloom Novel) by Amy Clipston

My Thoughts: Amy Clipston is a favorite author of mine.  
Emily is a kind and generous young woman who feels that life is like a quilt and can be stitched together.  And it seems that quilting and Amish women go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Emily is anxious to meet her father's new employee, Christopher.  But when they first meet...it seems that an Christopher has an iceberg for a heart.  Poor Emily.  However, Emily is not deterred.
She feels that Christopher needs friendship and so she decides to make him a quilt.  
And then Christopher must leave and return to Ohio for some emergency....just when he and Emily might be having "feelings" for one another.  
I like the easy way this story reads.  And, yes, it is somewhat predicable, but I like it.  It makes for a great holiday read to warm one's heart and a reminder that everyone is going through something.  So, be nice to everyone you meet.
A great story and a would make a great gift for that reader on your list!

*This book was provided for review by BookLook*

Meet the Author:  


  • Series: An Amish Heirloom Novel
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (November 29, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310341965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310341963

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

Go here Kraft Philadelphia for great holiday recipes!  Here's one of my Favorites:

Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Bars


time
prep:
15 min
total:
6 hr
servings
total:
32 servings

what you need


1
cup  PLANTERS Pecan Pieces, divided

50
 NILLA Wafers, finely crushed (about 1-1/2 cups)

1/4
cup  butter, melted

4
pkg.  (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

1
cup  sugar

1
cup  BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream

3
Tbsp.  flour

1
Tbsp.  vanilla

4
 eggs

24
 KRAFT Caramels

1
Tbsp.  water

3
squares  BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate

make it


HEAT oven to 325°F.

LINE 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Reserve 1/2 cup nuts. Finely chop remaining nuts; mix with wafer crumbs and butter. Press onto bottom of prepared pan. Refrigerate until ready to use.
BEAT cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add sour cream, flour and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.
BAKE 45 min. or until center is almost set. Cool completely.
MICROWAVE caramels and water in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until caramels are completely melted when stirred. Pour over cheesecake; top with reserved nuts. Melt chocolate; drizzle over cheesecake. Refrigerate 4 hours. Use foil handles to remove cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve.

kraft kitchens tips

HEALTHY LIVING
Save 40 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving by preparing with Reduced Fat NILLA Wafers, PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese and BREAKSTONE'S Reduced Fat or KNUDSEN Light Sour Cream.
SUBSTITUTE
Substitute 1 cup KRAFT Caramel Bits for the KRAFT Caramels.
EASY MICROWAVE MELTING OF BAKER'S CHOCOLATE SQUARES
Microwave 1 oz. BAKER'S Chocolate in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 30 sec. (The chocolate will retain its shape.) Stir 1 min. or until chocolate is completely melted. Add 10 sec. for each additional ounce of chocolate, stirring every 30 sec.