Archive for November, 2008

November Book List


WOW! I read 8 books this month and I am almost done with the 9th.  It will be in my December list!  I branched out just a little bit this month and read in some different genres.  I hope you will enjoy some of these books.  As always these books are available in my Amazon store.  For those of you who use Paperbackswap.com there are several of these books available in my PBS store


   ***1/2  Empire Falls – Richard Russo

   Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it’s Janine, Miles’ soon-to-be ex-wife, who’s taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it’s the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town–and seems to believe that “everything” includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.

While the story line was good I felt the book to be really slow moving until it got to the last few chapters and then tons of stuff was happening all at once.  The story finally got really interesting and then it was over.

  *****  The Diary of Mattie Spenser – Sandra Dallas

No one is more surprised than Mattie Spenser herself when Luke Spenser, considered the great catch of their small Iowa town, asks her to marry him. Less than a month later, they are off in a covered wagon to build a home on the Colerado frontier. Mattie’s only company is a slightly mysterious husband and her private journal, where she records the joys and frustrations not just of frontier life, but also of a new marriage to a handsome but distant stranger. As she and Luke make life together on the harsh and beautiful plains, Mattie learns some bitter truths about her husband and the girl he lieft behind and finds love where she least expects it. Dramatic and suspenseful, this is an unforgettable story of hardship, friendship and survival.
This story is written as if someone has found a real diary of a pioneer woman.  The story was exciting and fast to read.  I really enjoyed it.
 ****  Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe

The sole survivor on a doomed ship spends twenty-four years on an uninhabited tropical island.

I was prompted to read this book after watching the new show Crusoe that aired on NBC this fall on Friday nights.  I really enjoyed the show and was curious to how closely the show followed the book.  The show has definitely taken some artistic liberties but the book was a good read.  I finished it in about 2 hours.  This would be a great book for middle-school aged boys.


 **  Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is the story of a dramatic year in Virginia’s Blue Ridge valley. Annie Dillard sets out to see what she can see. What she sees are astonishing incidents of “mystery, death, beauty, violence.”

The imagery in this book was amazingly descriptive.  From a writers perspective this book definitely paints a picture in your minds eye.  However, apart from the descriptiveness of the book I found the story lacking and had a hard time really getting into this book.


  ***** The Christmas Box – Richard Paul Evans

When Richard Paul Evans wrote The Christmas Box, he intended it as a private expression of love for his two young daughters, Jenna and Allyson. Though he often told them that he loved them, he didn’t feel that they could ever really understand the depth of his feelings until they had experienced the joy of rearing their own children, and by that time their relationship would have changed forever. In writing The Christmas Box, he hoped that at some time in the future they would read the book and know of their father’s love.

As Evans began to write, he was amazed at the inspiration that flowed into his mind and heart. He completed the moving story of a widow and the young family who comes to live with her in less than six weeks, and bound twenty copies to give as Christmas presents to family and friends. In the following weeks, those twenty copies were shared and passed along from family to family, from friend to friend, and what began as a tale for two little girls became a message of miracles, hope, and healing for people throughout the world.

 ***** Timepiece – Richard Paul Evans

“Of all, clockmakers and morticians should bear the keenest sense of priority-their lives daily spent in observance of the unflagging procession of time… and the end thereof.”

So begins Timepiece, the unforgettable story of hope and the source of the wisdom MaryAnne Parkinshared with Richard in The Christmas Box. With the help of David Parkin’s diary, Richard discovers the mystery of the timepiece and the significance of MaryAnne’s request.


 ***** The Letter – Richard Paul Evans

The Letter, the final book of the Christmas Boxcollection is, most simply stated, the love story of David and MaryAnne Parkin. But it is also everyone’s love story, for it is about the storms that all relationships must face when the blissful state of romance vanishes into one of real-life challenges and difficulties. We often forget that it is in the hard times that we truly see what is best in love as well as in life. Though love may be temporarily darkened, true love never gives in, or up, but holds tight to noble ideas, which transcend this earth and all time.

The Letter is also about our pasts and our individual quests to discover who we are. In The Letter,David Parkinsets out on a journey to find his mother, a woman who abandoned him when he was a child. In truth, however, David is searching for himself as he seeks to free himself from the pain of her rejection and his fear that he was somehow unworthy of her love. In a sense, David’s search is the same journey we are all pursuing. We are all seeking love.

I REALLY enjoyed all three of these books by Richard Paul Evans.  I can not wait to read more of his stories!

 **** Messenger – Lois Lowry

For the past six years, Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man, known for his special sight. Village was a place that welcomed newcomers, but something sinister has seeped into Village and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. Matty has been invaluable as a messenger. Now he must make one last journey through the treacherous forest with his only weapon, a power he unexpectedly discovers within himself.

If you enjoyed The Giver and Gathering Blue then you will also enjoy this book.

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On Kohl Pond

We are in the process of building a pond.  It is behind the horse pasture, which is behind our house, just on the edge of the hardwood portion of our trees.  It doesn’t look like much yet but it is still pretty cool.  There is an embankment all the way around it.  The dogs love the fresh dirt.  They will be even more excited once they realize it will be filled with water!

This is coming up to the pond from the back of the pasture.  This area will be a picnic/camping area.


This is it!  Yup it looks like dirt.  Eventually it should be about 5 -6 feet deep when it is full.

This picture is a little deceiving. I am actually up on the ledge in this picture.  The big stump is actually about 8 feet below the tree shown in the foreground.

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Well Thanksgiving went off without a hitch!  I cooked a 22 pound turkey which I brined 24 hours prior to cooking.  I also made sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, green peas, corn souffle, and two pies.  Richies mom made hot rolls, mashed potatoes, and cornbread dressing (Richie wont eat stuffing).  It was all so yummy!  I didn’t even take a picture of the table this year because it looked EXACTLY like last years table!  I always hesitate to try anything new at thanksgiving.  We only get it once a year and I just have to have some of those traditional things that I don’t get any other time of the year.  I do however like to experiment with dessert.  Last year everyone enjoyed the Chocolate Chess pie so I did make that again.  For a second pie I made up a recipe and Apple and Pumpkin Spice pie. It was really good!


Apple and Pumpkin Spice Pie

I used a graham cracker crust because I am not fond of traditional pie crust with sweet pies.  You can use either.

1 9-inch pie crust
3/4 C. Sugar
2 Tbs. Flour
1/8 tsp. Salt
1 C. pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 egg
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 C. peeled and chopped Apples (I used a variety of local apple from the farmers market)

1/3 C. flour
1/3 C. brown Sugar
1/3 C. chopped pecans (I used pralines and chopped them!)
2-3 Tbs. butter
Cinnamon to taste

Combine sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl.  Mix in pumpkin, egg, vanilla, spice and stir well.  Stir in chopped apples.  Pour mixture into a pie crust.  Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

While baking mix flour, sugar, nuts and cinnamon in a bowl.  Mix in softened (not melted) butter with a fork until mixture is well combined and crumbly.  Sprinkle over the pie and bake an additional 15 minutes. 

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

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Preparing for the Big Day!

I love Thanksgiving!  I have been getting ready for the big Day all week.  Sunday we got all our groceries.  I had to try to plan meals for yesterday, today and tomorrow that were not chicken or turkey related.  Last night was meatloaf, tonight is homemade mac and cheese and tomorrow we will be having corned beef sandwiches.

I haven’t started cooking yet but that will change tonight when I make the Turkey Brine.  I will be brining for 24 hours so it will go in its bath first thing tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow I plan to make the pies, the corn souffle, prepare the stuffing and precook the sweet potatoes.  Everything else will be finished on Thursday. 

I will be preparing a few different things this year but most of the meal will be the same.  You can check out my post from last year to see all of my recipes. 

I hope you have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving!

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Fall is here.

It seems in Arkansas that we go directly from summer to winter with just a hint of fall inbetween.  The nights cool down into the 40’s but most days are still in the mid to upper 70’s.  Then all of a sudden it will be cold and rainy and winter will be upon us.  Today was one of those rare “fall” days.  The sun shone beautifully all day but the temperature only made it to the upper 50’s.  Tonight should drop into the 30’s.  The leaves on most of the trees have turned and are falling off in torrential downpours of crunchy, earthy goodness.  The night arrives around 5:30 bringing with it the desire to curl up and read a good book.  Fall, my favorite season, is but a fleeting moment here in Arkansas.




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