Sunday, January 17, 2016

Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen by Linda Marie Steele (Cookbook Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

With more than 60 delicious recipes, this book celebrates sharing good food with family and friends, inspired by the sweetness of living by the beach. Accompanied by food photography and beautiful Cape Cod landscapes, chapters focus on baked goods such as cakes, cookies, quick breads, cheesecake and biscotti, as well as appetizers, entrees, and salads and even summertime-perfect drinks. Many of the easy-to-follow recipes rely on seasonal and regional ingredients, such as Linda’s Supreme Lemon Cake, Cape Cod Cranberry Loaf, Turkey and Cranberry Empanadas, Linda’s Simple Lobster Salad, and Bella’s Raspberry Tea. Children will enjoy helping with treats such as Nana’s No-Fail Sugar Cookie Recipe, which the author makes with lobster-shaped cookie cutters. This celebration of Cape Cod focuses on gratitude for simple pleasures and includes reflections on life in a seaside community.

My thoughts- 

Last summer my family and I had the immeasurable pleasure of  vacationing on Cape Cod. Ever since, each of us has expressed in interest in going back, it was one of the most pleasurable experiences of my life. Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen brought me back to being surrounded by the water, the friendly locals. and gave me the opportunity to imagine living in such a magical place. I enjoyed all of Lina Marie Steele's recipes, but what I loved more were here snippets at the beginning of each recipe connecting them to her experiences living on the Cape. I did expect there to be more savory dishes indigenous to the Cape Cod area, but as soon as I read Ms. Steele got her start blogging about her baking, it made sense that a lot of the book was baked goods. Still, there were some fantastic recipes to be found, including a quintessential Cape Cod recipe for Clam Chowder (my 8 year old will be ecstatic that we can try to re-create her favorite dish from our trip at home!). There were also drink recipes and enough dessert recipes to keep you busy for a long while. I can flip through this book and dream about being back in Cape Cod until we can find our way back to Massachusetts. I recommend this book to anyone interested in cooking or travel.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Anne Frank in the Secret Annex by The Anne Frank House (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

An extraordinary story of Anne Frank and the Secret Annex

For two years during the Second World War, young, Jewish Anne Frank lived in hiding from the Nazis. Everything she experienced, thought, and felt, she confided in her diary. She was just as frank in her descriptions of the seven other people in the Annex and of the five helpers who endangered their own lives to look after them. Years later, Anne Frank’s diary became world famous. The Secret Annex was so well set up that the hiders survived there for over two years. Who were these people, how did they meet, and what happened to them?

This book shows the background and organization of the Annex and the personal stories of all involved, as well as their relationships and their fates. It also offers many never-before-published photographs. The result is an extraordinary group portrait that stays with the reader long after the last page is turned.

My thoughts- 

By 8th grade, I am pretty sure almost everyone has read The Dairy of Anne Frank. It is a heartbreaking account of  a young teenage girl and her family forced to go into hiding to avoid being sent to the notorious concentration camps set up for citizens to be sent to for no other reason than that they were Jewish. It is a terrible mark on our world history, proof that mankind can be beyond evil, but Anne's account is well written and even optimistic. No one could possibly imagine being hidden in a tiny room with 7 other people in fear for their lives other than someone who has lived through it, so I think Anne's Diary is so fascinating to us because it is the closest glimpse we can get to understanding what the Jewish people went through during WWII.

The Franks and the other people hiding in the Annex building were not able to successfully hide for two years on their own, they had the help of several people who worked for Otto Frank, Anne's dad, help with food and other things they needed as well as keeping their location a secret. Anne Frank in the Secret Annex is kind of a profile on each person, the ones hiding in the annex, and the ones helping with hiding, both before, during, and after the war. Many of us are familiar with Miep Gies from The Diary of Anne Frank, but in this book we learn more not only about all of the people in the annex, but the people who helped keep them safe for as long as they could. There are profiles of each of these people with facts I have never previously seen before and more importantly tons of photographs of all of their lives so we can put names to faces and that really drives home the fact that these events actually happened to these real people. It is still unfathomable to me that there could be such hatred in the world, but it warms my heart that the friends of those in trouble would do whatever they could to keep their friends safe. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone interested in Anne Frank or WWII. As much as I would like to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam someday, I am not sure when that may happen, so these pictures and these facts provided by the house itself definitely give me a feel for what the house hold in the meantime.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

When Calls the Heart: Complete Season 2

Disclosure of material connection- I received the dvd set via Edify Media in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the show-

From celebrated author Janette Oke (The Loves Comes Softly series) comes a rigorous and romantic adventure as epic as the wide frontier. Erink Krakow (Army Wives), Daniel Lissing (Eye Candy), Jack Wagner (Melrose Place) and Lori Loughlin (Full House, 90210) star in When Calls he Heart, "a beautiful story with roots in relationships, self-empowerment, and the enduring power of love" (Common Sense Media).

Elizabeth thatcher (Krakow) is a strong-willed teacher who has foregone the life of the big city and found a job, a home- and a bit of unexpected romance with a handsome Mountie named Jack- in the small frontier town of Hope Valley. But life on the frontier can hand you many tough turns, and so it is for Jack and Elizabeth as they face their very different upbringings, the pressures put upon them by family, rival suitors and even various criminal counterfeiters and kidnappers in their quest to find their place in this remote and rugged land.

My thoughts-

I absolutely adore When Calls The Heart. There is nothing else on television even remotely like it. I love getting lost in the old Canadian west, with it's cute sets and eccentric townspeople and, of course, the great romance. I love that there is a show on the air full of drama, humor and romance that I can watch while my kids are in the room. When Calls the Heart is based on a book series by Janette Oke about a woman from a wealthy family who leaves it all behind to be a school teacher in a tiny little town. She comes to love Hope Valley and finds romance with the handsome Mountie Jack. The first season introduced us to these characters and Hope Valley and set a great foundation. Season 2 was full of drama and several twists and turns. We even get to see Elizabeth go back home and live in her other fancier world for a while. There is also another romantic interest introduced for Elizabeth and we get to meet her sisters as well as Jack's brother. I love this box set because it is great to have all of the episodes in one place. There are also a couple of bonus discs with this set including behind the scenes footage with a cast and a short film inspired by a true story about two young children in Africa who lose their parents to the AIDS virus. It is a special bonus to get this short film in edition to this great show, prepare to be inspired! When Calls The Heart is one of my favorite shows on tv right now and I am counting down the days until season three continues in February. I can not wait! I recommend When Calls The Heart if you enjoy historical fiction or want a family friendly show.

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