Monday, September 19, 2016

Mailbox Monday - Sept 19

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Happy Monday! Hope you all had a great weekend. It was a weekend of soccer, a birthday, and work.

Papou (Greek for grandfather) turned 86 on Friday. The family got together to celebrate. Earlier in the week my husband visited Fenway and got a tour of the stadium. He met former Boston Red Sox center fielder Fred Lynn. When he told Lynn that his father was a big fan, Lynn called Papou up and spoke to him for a bit. That's a pretty cool present.

Saturday and Sunday were both losses on the soccer field, but the Lil' Princess played well. Hope her tendinitis doesn't act up too much.

As for book arrivals, it was a great week. Three book review requests came in.

She's ghostwriting a book for a famous author--a recently deceased one. A struggling writer living in Manhattan, Jacy McMasters is the first to admit she's a terrific liar and a screw-up. Then the ghost of the famous novelist JD Balinger asks her to "channel" a follow-up to his classic coming of age book, The Watcher in the Sky. Along with her new boyfriend, a bear of a man who has no patience for mind games, the ghost in Jacy's head forces her to confront a lifetime of secrets—dark secrets. Secrets she's been keeping from herself.

This Advent book contains family devotions that focus on connecting Jesus and the symbols of Christmas. Each day includes a devotional, prayer, questions to discuss, the meaning of a Christmas symbol, and suggested activities to put the scriptures into action. Reproducibles are included to help with the symbol activities.

Emulating the format of Raising a Modern-Day Princess, authors Doreen Hanna and Karen Whiting seek to help parents and grandparents cultivate strong relationships and encourage the spiritual formation in their daughters using examples, Bible teaching on the fruit of the Spirit, and a variety of creative activities that are based on Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control).

By implementing the ideas in this book, mothers (as well as fathers) will be equipped to understand and guide their daughters through each step of becoming His “princess.” This will include perceiving a daughter’s unique personality and gifts, refining her character through training and discipline, and modeling the attributes of a daughter of the King.

This book is a follow-up to both Raising a Modern-Day Knight (by Robert Lewis) and Raising a Modern-Day Princess by Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna. While the latter book is aimed at parents of girls ages 12 and up, this book focuses on building the Christian character of younger girls.

Don't know about you, but I am thrilled to see the Christmas books coming out. The only thing that can make my favorite genres better is to have their stories set during Christmas time.

What was in your mailbox last week? Hope you'll share.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

New Release: Monticello by Sally Cabot Gunning

This recent release from Sally Cabot Gunning caught my eye because I love reading about the early years of our country and our Founding Fathers. Historical fiction remains one of my favorite genres. Have added this to my wish list.

From the critically acclaimed author of The Widow's War comes a captivating work of literary historical fiction, set in America in the years after the Revolution, that explores the tenuous relationship between the brilliant and complex founding father Thomas Jefferson and his devoted daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph.

After the early death of her mother, young Martha Jefferson accompanied her father, Thomas Jefferson, on his first diplomatic mission to Paris. Five years later, father and daughter have come home to Monticello, the family’s beloved plantation set high in the lush hills of the Virginia countryside.

Though Monticello has suffered from her father’s absence, Martha finds it essentially unchanged, even as she has been transformed. The sheltered girl that sailed to Europe is now a handsome seventeen-year-old woman with a battle-scarred heart, who sees a world far more complicated than it once seemed.

Blessed with her father’s sharp mind and independent spirit, Martha has long abhorred slavery and yearned for its swift end. Yet she now discovers that the home she adores is burdened by growing debt and cannot survive long without the labor of its slaves. Her bonds with those around her are shifting, too. As the doting father she has idolized since childhood returns to government, he becomes increasingly distracted by tumultuous fights for power and troubling attachments that pull him further away. And as Martha begins to pay closer attention to Sally Hemings—the beautiful light-skinned slave long acknowledged to be her mother’s half-sister—she realizes that the slave’s position in the household has subtly changed. Eager for distraction, Martha welcomes the attentions of Thomas Randolph, her exotic distant cousin, but soon Martha uncovers burdens and desires in him that threaten to compromise her own.

As her life becomes constrained by the demands of marriage, motherhood, politics, scandal, and her family’s increasing impoverishment, Martha yearns to find her way back to her childhood home; to the gentle beauty and quiet happiness of the world she once knew at the top of her father’s “little mountain.”

An irresistible blend of emotional drama, historical detail, and vivid atmosphere, Monticello skillfully brings to life Martha Jefferson Randolph, a strong and compelling woman who influenced -- as much as she was influenced by -- one of the most intriguing figures in American history.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (September 6, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062320432
ISBN-13: 978-0062320438

Purchase at:


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Busy, Busy Mom

Sorry I haven't blogged yet this week. Work is really crazy right now. Check out my two new listings.

Springfield, MA

Chicopee, MA

Soccer started recently too. The Lil' Princess played her first game last Saturday. It was pouring! 

No dance photos yet, but that started on Saturday as well. 

Certainly no reason to be bored around here. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Glazed Orange Coconut Cake from

For my mother-in-law's birthday, I made this Glazed Orange Coconut Cake with a recipe I found on

Yield: 20 servings


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup finely shredded, unsweetened coconut
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup fresh orange juice (4 to 5 oranges)
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind

Orange glaze and garnish:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (1 orange)
Toasted coconut chips (optional)


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan.

Combine flour and next five ingredients (flour through salt).

In a separate bowl, combine coconut milk, oil, eggs, vanilla, and orange juice and rind. Pour into dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour into prepare pan.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before removing from pan.

To prepare glaze, whisk together powdered sugar and orange juice. If there are little lumps, let glaze sit 30 minutes, until they dissolve. Pour glaze over completely cooled cake. Sprinkle coconut chips on top, if using.

How did it turn out? Fabulous! It had the best texture of any cake I've ever made. I'm sure the glaze helped, but the cake was yummy to begin with. 

Would I do anything differently? I would add more unsweetened coconut to the batter or garnish the cake with toasted coconut chips because the orange flavor came through nicely, but I felt the coconut flavor wasn't strong enough. I also should have waited a bit longer to glaze it. The cake was still a bit warm, so the glaze didn't harden the way I expected. Most of it soaked into the cake. 

Do you have a great recipe for an orange coconut cake? I would love to try it out. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Mailbox Monday - Sep 5

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Happy Labor Day, gang! Hope you're having a great long weekend. Mine has been fabulous: I've dropped three pounds since I restarted the 21 Day Fix; I managed to get in some workout every day this weekend; we attended the Greek Festival in Marlborough, and I sold a house four days after I listed it. Talked to another person Saturday and I'll be listing her home this coming Friday. Not bad for a holiday weekend.

Dancing Yia-Yia

As far as health and fitness goes, I'm really trying to focus on getting rid of that "dough belly." That's what the girls call my very soft, round middle. Weight loss is great, but it's not my focus. I want better legs and a trimmer middle. As such, I've added some different workout routines to my 21 Day Fix program. I haven't used CIZE as much as I thought I would, but I'm going to pop the second DVD in tomorrow to see what I can do. I'm doing a fair amount of upper body work, which will help with the tennis elbow.

I'm also going to really dig into I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson. I bought it last year, but didn't do much with it. I know that drinking Pepsi® twice a day is a part of the "dough belly" issue. I don't eat a ton of sweets, but I really want to focus on getting rid of all of the bad stuff. This should help.

My mail carrier brought a surprise this past week and it sounds superb.

Where is hope when there is no hope?

First-time parents Joe and Tahni Cullen were thrust into the confusing world of autism when their toddler, Josiah, suddenly lost his ability to speak, play, and socialize. The diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorder. In their attempts to see Josiah recover and regain speech, the Cullens underwent overwhelming physical, emotional, and financial struggles. While other kids around him improved, Josiah only got worse.

Five years later, Josiah, who had not been formally taught to read or write, suddenly began to type on his iPad profound paragraphs about God, science, history, business, music, strangers, and heaven. Josiah’s eye-opening visions, heavenly encounters, and supernatural experiences forced his family out of their comfort zone and predictable theology, catapulting them into a mind-blowing love-encounter with Jesus.

- Find hope in hardship.
- Catch a fresh glimpse of heaven.
- Learn to hear and trust God’s voice.
- Identify the roles of Father, Son, and Spirit.
- Be aware of the workings of angels, and much more!

Follow a trail of truth into Josiah’s mysterious world, and see why his family and friends can no longer stay silent.

I also downloaded a Kindle freebie--darn free books are bad for me. I'll never whittle down my TBR pile as long as they exist.

7 Days to a Byline that Pays explains how to tell stories that audiences will read and editors will pay you to write. Delivered in a breezy and compact manner, this book will help you work fast, smart, and get paid for your work.

"I've worked with writers and editors across the country to compress the salient points in an easy-to-grasp approach that you can tackle," says author, Michael Ray Smith. "I'm convinced you can accomplish your goal of writing a salable article in seven days by using the ideas in this book."

Then I purchased this one for only 99 cents!

A wonderfully warm and witty debut novel about family secrets and sibling rivalry.
The four MacLeod sisters are no strangers to sisterly rivalry and with one of them about to be married, there are bound to be fireworks. Perfectionist Natalie wants the ‘wedding of the year’. Harassed mother, Milly, just wishes her bridesmaid’s dress wasn’t the size of a tent. Career-obsessed Avril secretly moons over a married man and world traveler, Hazel, the youngest, yearns to be taken seriously. Forced together for the first time in years, and with an unexpected guest stirring up old resentments, squabbles are inevitable. But when tragedy strikes things really fly apart - as some shocking skeletons emerge rattling from the crowded MacLeod closet…

What was in your mailbox this week? Any great plans for the holiday?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Guardian Angel Kids - September Issue Online

This a free digital magazine that my publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing, produces once a month. Each issue has poems, short stories, and articles. There are free games and activities too. This month is dedicated to monkeys.

You can check out our current and past issues by visiting

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Challenge with Health and Fitness

I've come to discover I have two challenges with my health and fitness goals:

1. I keep buying new equipment.
2. My stomach doesn't enjoy junk food the way it used to.

The first challenge gets darn expense and the second one is just no fun. I guess you could say that all those years I ignored my diet and didn't exercise means I've got an untapped budget in the workout department; but it seems everything I want to do costs an arm and a leg: you remember I am an Ebeneezer Scrooge when it comes to spending money, right? 

So far I've invested in the 21 Day Fix and the CIZE programs from Beachbody. I definitely find the first one easier, but CIZE is fun on the days I feel like a different kind of workout. Recently, I purchased a set of resistance bands and new weights. 

When they released me from physical therapy this summer, they encouraged me to keep up my resistance band workouts. I had bought some loop bands last year, but I snapped one of them and figured it was time to buy something sturdier. Those things don't feel good when they snap. 

I would really like to order the 3-Day Refresh, but I am afraid I won't be able to stomach the shakes. I haven't been able to tolerate them in the past. Since the majority of the program is the shakes, I sure don't want to spend $69.95 and not get the results I'm looking for. 

It's a challenge that I am on this new healthy eating kick, but the kids still want goodies. I've always loved junk food. When I eat it these days, I just don't feel right. My stomach bloats and I'm sluggish. I guess I should be excited, but instead I miss being able to eat cookies and cake and other yummy foods without feeling yucky. Well, that's not totally true: I used to feel yucky before. I just didn't know how yucky until I started taking better care of myself.

I'm glad I'm making the right changes for my health. Too bad I didn't do it two decades ago. I can't see myself ever looking forward to exercising, but at least I am staying focused on my goals. 

What is your health and fitness plan? If you don't have a health and fitness plan, what stands in the way of you making one? What are some of your favorite healthy snacks? Anything you simply can't give up?