Dressed For Death – Book Review


Dressed for Death, by Julianna Deering. This book is 307 pages long and it’s the 4th in the Drew Farthering Mystery series.

I have not read the previous 3 but I had no trouble picking this one up and understanding who the characters are. In fact, after reading this one, I liked it so much, I put the other three Drew Farthering Mystery books on my reading list.

There were a lot of Jane Austin book references at the beginning of this book, and while I had to read Jane Austin in High School, I’m not a fan. So I was pretty worried that I wasn’t going to like this book. Luckily, this book is nothing like a Jane Austin, so I was just fine.

After the first couple of chapters, and the characters and setting were all introduced, and the book got very interesting. It took me a day to read the first 3 or 4 chapters, and then a day to read the rest of the book.

Once I got going, I couldn’t put it down. This was an entertaining mystery book, sometimes predictable and sometimes not. Which in my opinion, is how all good mystery books should be.

Julianan Deering is a Christian author and she did a great job of discussing the character’s faith in a realistic way. It wasn’t preachy, but very down to earth and real. And it went well with the rest of the story.

I really enjoyed this book. And I also love that I discovered a new author that I like!

I received this book free for purposes of my review. All opinions are my own. This post does contain affiliate links.

Favorite Flavors of Ireland – Recipe & Review


I was so excited to try out this new cookbook in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day. I love cooking, but haven’t tried out a lot of Irish recipes.

I was actually surprised at how simple the food is. There’s a lot of bread, meat, potatoes, cabbage, and carrots in this cookbook. I found so many recipes that I like that it was hard to pick one to share. I’m all about the basics and ingredients that I know how to use. This cookbook is awesome and has so many different and delicious ways to make all of your classic Irish foods.

IMG_20160222_180908463I tried out Soda Bread (which is not only tasty but super easy!), Champ Potatoes (basically mashed potato deliciousness), Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing (DELICIOUS!, luckily, I’m the only one in my family who likes carrot cake, so I got to eat it all), and Carrot Soup. Next on the list to try is Cheese Potatoes, Blueberry Muffins, and Rib eye.

I finally decided to share the carrot soup recipe because this is my kid’s favorite – I think it’s delicious as well. For some reason my 5yr old has this great love of carrot soup, so I’ve tried out many, many carrot soup recipes. This recipe is simple, and honestly the best tasting carrot soup I’ve made yet. She’s already asking me when I’m going to make it again!

Before I share the recipe, here’s the cookbook. Favorite Flavors of Ireland by Margaret M. Johnson. It also features Kerrygold Butter, which is way creamier than my usual Kroger store brand butter. It comes in a block, and I had no problem finding it at Trader Joe’s.


The book captures Ireland’s culinary beauty season-by-season, and includes more than 100 recipes. There’s a section of Spring recipes like Lamb with Port and Mint Sauce. Summer recipes like Fish ‘n Chips. Autumn recipes like Peppered Pork Loin Roast. And, Winter recipes like Shepherd’s Pie.

You can purchase your own copy of the book and find out more about it here.

The author, Margaret M. Johnson is author of ten cookbooks—Christmas Flavors of Ireland; Flavors of Ireland; The Irish Pub Cookbook; Irish Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles, and Fools; The Irish Spirit; The New Irish Table; The Irish Heritage Cookbook; Tea & Crumpets; Cooking With Irish Spirits; and Ireland: Grand Places, Glorious Food. As a food and travel writer she has contributed to publications in both the U.S. and Ireland including Intermezzo Magazine; SIP, For the Love of Drink Magazine: Cooking Light; Cara, the inflight magazine of Aer Lingus; Dublin’s Food & Wine Magazine; the Irish Echo newspaper; and to online sites such as thewildgeese.com, and irishabroad.com. She frequently appears at Irish food and cultural events, and when she’s not visiting her ancestral home in Ireland, she lives in Westhampton Beach, NY.

I’m thoroughly enjoying her Favorite Flavors of Ireland cookbook.

Carrot Soup with Bacon Bread Crumbs

Bacon Bread Crumbs
2 slices American Bacon
2 slices firm white sandwich bread
2 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tbsp. Kerrygold Irish butter
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs./900 g carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp. minced garlic
10 whole cloves, wrapped and tied in cheesecloth
4 cups/1 L homemade chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Pinch of sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 tbsp. heavy cream
Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

  1. To make bread crumbs, in a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon for 7 – 9 minutes, turning frequently, or until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Discard all but 2 tbsp. fat from the pan.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the bread 8 – 10 times to medium-fine crumbs. Transfer bread crumbs to bacon fat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a small blow.
  3. Pulse the bacon in the food processor to fine bits and stir into the bread crumbs. Stir in the parsley and pepper. Set aside.
  4. To make the soup, in a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter and oil. Add the carrots, onions, garlic, and cloves and cook for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not browned.
  5. Add the stock or broth, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until the carrots are very soft. Remove the soup from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Discard the cloves.
  6. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. (or, puree in the pot with an immersion blender.) Return the puree to the saucepan over medium heat and stir in the lemon juice, sugar, and cream. Simmer until heated through and season with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, ladle the soup into 6 shallow bowls and sprinkle with the parsley and bread crumbs.

I might add, that this makes a lot of soup! It re-heats well though, so we enjoyed carrot soup for a couple of days.

I received this product free for purposes of my review. All opinions are my own.



8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids – Review


8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids by Dr. Todd Cartmell with a foreword by Jill Savage. This book has super short chapters. Each chapter is a couple of pages long. And each chapter ends with an action item.

Each of the 8 tools is broken into smaller action points. This book is so easy to read. And because the chapters are so short it’s easy to pick up and read a chapter here and there around whatever the kids are doing.

The topics are simple and to the point. They are also very practical. You don’t have to go out and do anything grand to raise great kids. This book is all about how to engage your kids, speak into their lives in a way that they will listen, and build a lasting relationship with your children.

One of my favorite sections was the chapter on learning together with your kids. His points really hit home, because I spend a lot of time teaching my children or watching them learn, but very little time learning with them. And there’s this perception they get that I’m doing everything perfect. When I’m really not, I’m just doing the things I’m good at. And that’s all they see. They never see me learn.

It’s a great challenge and one that I’m going to have to find a way to implement in my family. Plus, learning something new is always fun!

If you’re looking for simple, practical ways to engage and encourage your children, this is a great book! And, it’s only $10 at Amazon!

I received this book free for purposes of my review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

B is for Books

If you’re looking for curriculum advice, check out my 4 favorite curriculums. Here, I’m going to share some of my favorite kids books.

I love books. I love a good fiction. Right now I’m working on The Water Witch by James Fenmore Cooper. (which is free on Kindle right now). I don’t have a ton of time for reading these days, but I still manage to read a fun book now and then. It’s a great way for me to escape, relax, and grab a few minutes of “me time”.

Reading is something I want my children to enjoy as well so I try to collect my favorite childhood books and find some new ones for them as well.

51cWgYwwKNL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_Little House on the Prairie

This is a classic. I read and re-read this entire set many many times as a child. This is next on my list of books to buy my 2nd grader. I can’t wait to see what she thinks of them!

I never can decide if Little House in the Big Woods or Farmer Boy is my favorite. Maybe I’ll have to read them again!


612DdPHZGCL._SX395_BO1,204,203,200_Finley Flowers

I just discovered this set. There’s four books in this series and a craft book. They’re super cute and all about a little girl who loves to bake. My 2nd grader loves these – they’re a 3rd to 5th grade reading level so right at the upper edge of her reading ability. Perfect for her to enjoy while learning some new words!


51VpdeMukDL._SY345_BO1,204,203,200_A Series of Unfortunate Events

There’s 13 books in this series. The author truly thought of everything! I love this series. It’s fun to read because it’s just funny. There’s no way 3 kids end up in all of these situations. And the author loves to use and define rarely used words like Ersatz in Ersatz Elevator.  These books are fun to read and great for improving vocabulary.


41S6NRoXYvL._SX279_BO1,204,203,200_Grandma’s Attic

This is a book of short stories. Perfect for a bedtime stories. These stores are fun, funny, and have a good morale at the end. Themes like “Pride comes before a fall”, and “beauty is as beauty does”. These stories are fun to read as a family and after you’ve read all these in this book. There’s a whole bunch of other Grandma’s Attic books available.


61xA9sZttmL._SX469_BO1,204,203,200_Llama Llama

It all started with Llama Llama Red Pajama. After we read this one, we were hooked! This is a favorite with my 2yr old and since the older kids still love it he gets it read to him as often as he wants. There’s a whole set of Llama Llama books and we love every one of them.

Tell me in the comments, what’s your favorite children’s book?

This post does contain affiliate links.

Vampirina Ballerina Review and Craft


For Picture Book Month I’m reviewing Vampirina Ballerina.

Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace is an adorable book about a little vampire who wants to be a ballerina. It encourages being yourself, trying hard, and rejoicing in your achievements.

We had a great time reading this together and then making a little Tutu craft for the girl’s barbies.


Rickrack or ribbon – small pieces will do

Tulle – about 1 yard

IMG_21421. Start by measuring your rickrack. You want it to be about 1 foot long for a barbie doll.

2. Next cut your tulle into 1/2 inch X 2 foot strips. You can trim these later if the skirt is too long.

IMG_2149 3. Lay your rickrack out flat and tie your tulle strips onto it making a knot in the middle of your tulle (around the rickrack) Keep adding tulle until your skirt is nice and floofy.

You want to cover about 1/3 of your rickrack in tulle. The extra ends are going to be used for putting the skirt on your doll.

Once you have all your tulle on your ribbon or rickrack wrap it around your doll and tie a bow in the back.


The girls had a blast making little tulle ballerina skirts for their dolls!