Wednesday, March 31, 2010

REVIEW: Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan

Proof by Seduction is the debut historical romance novel by author Courtney Milan. Back in December, I read Courtney Milan's novella, "This Wicked Gift" in The Heart of Christmas anthology with authors Mary Balogh and Nicola Cornick, which I found to be a smartly written little romantic tale about characters who learn some valuable life lessons within a small number pages. I had high hopes for Proof by Seduction, wondering what Ms. Milan could accomplish with a full length novel and I was not the least bit disappointed. Proof by Seduction was every bit as intelligent and romantic as "This Wicked Gift" with even more depth of plot, character developments, and valuable lessons in love between friends, family, and of the romantic kind. I simply adored Proof by Seduction and am anxiously anticipating Ms. Milan's next full length novel, Trial by Desire due out later this year.

One that I really appreciated about this novel from the start is that the author wasted no time getting right into the nitty-gritty of the plot and characterizations. Within the first several pages, the reader meets the three most prominent characters in the story and the premise and its driving force is exposed right away. From there, the story just takes off and doesn't lose momentum until the happily ever after is fulfilled.

For the last twelve years, Miss Jenny Keeble has been living under the guise of a fortune teller known as Madame Esmerelda. Ned Carthart is a young man who struggles with bouts of depression. Two years ago, Ned had just about given up on life and sought his fortune from Madame Esmerelda in order to determine whether or not he should follow through with taking his own life. Madame Esmerelda was clever and convincing with her lies and convinced Ned that a brighter future was indeed ahead of him and essentially saved his life. Since then, Ned has frequently visited Madame Esmerelda seeking guidance and two have become friends. When Ned's older cousin and charge, Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely finds out that Ned has squandered his money and his faith on the lies of a charlatan, he accompanies Ned on a visit to Madame Esmerelda in order to prove her a fraud. Instead, Madame Esmerelda challenges his scientific proof with a prediction of where and when Gareth will set eyes upon his future wife. All of this happens within the first chapter of Proof by Seduction and from there, the story simply takes off provides the reader with a constant stream of intelligent and witty dialogue, amusing conversations and predicaments, passionate romantic connections, and heart wrenching lessons between friends, family and lovers.

Proof by Seduction is an impressive debut novel. Not only is the novel a well written romance story, but I was also impressed with the depth of emotion that was spent on the relationships beyond that of the main couple. The friendship between Jenny and Ned was truly tested throughout the story and in the end, the resolution of their troubles was quite profound. This was such a pleasant touch to the story. Gareth's relationships with just about everyone are tested throughout the story--from his sister Laura to his cousin Ned to his employee Mr. White and of course, his blossoming love with Esmerelda. Gareth is repetitively pushed outside his comfort zone and forced to address his true feelings that he has mechanically shut down for so long.

Proof by Seduction is a heartwarming, romantic tale for all of the characters, but especially for Jenny and Gareth-- two intelligent, strong willed, yet lonely individuals who belong together living happily ever after.

Courtney Milan's second full length novel, Trial by Desire is Ned's story and is scheduled to be released on October 1, 2010. Happy Birthday to me! :)

Visit Courtney Milan at her website

While you're visiting Courtney Milan's site, be sure to read the blog entry wherein Mr. Milan reviews Proof by Seduction.

Mr. Milan reviews "This Wicked Gift", the novella from The Heart of Christmas anthology as well.

Very insightful reviews. ;)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In Death Challenge Post: March 2010

Interested in joining the In Death Series Reading Challenge?
Visit THIS POST to read the rules and sign up.

This is the round up post for the third month of the In Death Reading Challenge. For those of you who have been playing along and have kept up with the challenge of reading at least one In Death book per month, congratulations! I have to admit I'm proud of myself --and quite frankly surprised with myself-- for completing my own end of the bargain for three straight months! If you're new to the challenge this month, welcome! Please speak up if you have any questions. :)

If you made a post on your blog, whether it be a review or commentary, please grab the link to your post and enter in the Mr. Linky below along with your name so we can find each other's posts easily.

If you're just going to keep a running list of the books as you read them, grab the link to your post where you'll be keeping track of your list and enter in the Mr. Linky so we can recognize your success this month.

If you don't have a blog, leave a comment below with your name and what book you read this month and feel free to join in on the In Death chatter here or on the other participants' blogs.

This will also help me keep track of who's eligible for my challenge giveaway next month.
Thanks for playing along!

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Holiday In Death by J.D. Robb
Book 7

Holiday In Death takes place at Christmas time in the year 2058. It is the first Christmas that Eve and Roarke will have spent together and Roarke pulls out all the stops to make it a festive and memorable one for both of them. There are decorations, a party and for the first time in her life, Eve has to go Christmas shopping. Not just her new husband, but also for several friends.

Unfortunately, crime doesn't stop for the holidays, and Eve is on a case to catch a serial killer who is posing as Santa Claus, leaving tokens of the "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with each victim. Knowing the killer intends on twelve murders, Eve and her team race to catch the murderer before he claims more victims.

Holiday In Death is another great installment in the series. I have a feeling I'm going to be sounding like a broken record saying that, but clearly the author has come up with a no fail formula for writing these futuristic murder mystery stories with romantic elements. I thought the murders in Holiday In Death were particularly gruesome or maybe it was more the perverse calculation and execution of the crimes that had me feeling kind of sick. To make matters worse, the race to catch this killer became even more intense when two members Eve's team went undercover to try to set up the killer and there were a couple of incidents that had the potential to be even more disturbing than they already were.

As for the personal aspects of this story, Eve was definitely affected by the emotional impact of celebrating Christmas for the first time in her life. Of course it is always great to see a deeper love and familial attachment grow between Eve and Roarke, but it's also really rewarding to see Eve getting closer to her friends and colleagues, particularly with Dr. Mira and Peabody. Watching her struggle to shop for Christmas gifts for Roarke and her new found circle of friends was amusing to say the least. My one complaint with this novel, however, is that the gift exchanges weren't a bigger part of the ending after all that agonizing Eve did over the shopping and holiday hoopla.

"Midnight In Death" by J.D. Robb
Novella, Book 8

Immediately after I finished Holiday In Death, I decided to pull out the next story and promptly started reading it once I realized it was a novella. I'm so glad I did, too, because "Midnight In Death" takes place immediately after the closure of the Holiday In Death murder case, in the few days between Christmas and New Year's.

Eve is called to investigate the discovery of a body found splayed in the ice rink at Rockefeller Center, only to learn the dead man is a judge whom Eve knew. Attached to the body is a note, or rather a list, of people who are the intended victims of the murderer starting with the judge and ending with Eve. Immediately Eve identifies the killer as David Palmer whom she caught and helped put away in prison only three years ago. Apparently David Palmer was cunning enough to escape prison, but is he cunning enough to escape being caught by Eve once again? I don't think so. Eve does struggle with this one and someone close to her comes very close to being Palmer's next victim, but thankfully she triumphs. Like you thought she wouldn't?

Next up for me is Conspiracy In Death. I started reading the first couple of chapters and it was already very engrossing, but I had to put it down because I had other books that were calling to me ... like the book I needed to read for the historical reading challenge I'm doing!

I got such enjoyment out of the gift exchanges in these two stories.

If you were one among Eve's small circle of friends and wanted to give her a gift, what would you give her?

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Challenge Participants:
Enter the url to your March 2010 In Death Challenge blog post with Mr. Linky below


Enter the url to your blog post that contains the list of In Death Challenge books you have read so far with Mr. Linky below.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Once Upon a Time IV Challenge

I found a new reading challenge to join while visiting Sam's Book Blog! It's the Once Upon a Time IV Challenge and is hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings.

Another challenge? Why yes. And here are my reasons why:

One. Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After. Pretty self explanatory there.

Two. I was instantly struck and drawn to the beautiful, near haunting artwork used for the Once Upon a Time challenge image. The original artwork by Melissa Nucera is titled The Queen. It's beautiful, oui? The host of the challenge sought the permission of the artist and altered the original artwork to include the challenge logo within an ornate frame. It's almost ethereal ... but not quite, because it's a little too melancholy, dramatic, and maybe even too dark to be considered ethereal. I love the depth of emotion that's conveyed in the art. I really get a sense of story from The Queen. It also stirs the senses, I think. I can imagine what the forest smells like, sounds like, and even feels like. I would think we would be able to see the queen's breath mist the air if she were turned toward our direction. I wonder, are her eyes be rimmed red from tears or would they be glittering with anger and frustration? Or perhaps both.

Check out more of Melissa's artwork on her website at January Wish and at her Etsy store, This Years Girl.

Three. When I went link hopping and made my way over to Melissa Nucera's website, low and behold, there was a recebt interview that Melissa conducted with romance author Lori Brighton, whose debut novel, Wild Heart, I read, enjoyed and reviewed in January. It was a sort of serendipitous thing to happen upon.

Four. This reason is very obvious. I love to read fantasy, folklore, fairy tales and mythology. I have several books of these genres already on my bookshelves not to mention several more that I want to get my hands. Of course the stickler for me with this challenge is that this it runs only for the duration of spring in the northern hemisphere, so I'll have to read and review my challenge books between now and June 20th!

Carl has the challenge broken down into different quests based on your reading preferences. I chose to do Quest the First which simply requires the participant to read five books from any one or more of the four genres. I think I can do that. I have so many books to consider for this challenge....

Except the Queen by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder
Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent
The Queen's Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Fire by Kristin Cashore
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
The Last Mermaid by Shana Abe
Ironside by Holly Black
Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

Beastly by Alex Finn

If you have a favorite fantasy, folklore, fairy tale or mythology novel that you could recommend, I'd love to hear about it!

Edited to Add: June, 20, 2010
Visit the post Once Upon A Time IV Reading Challenge COMPLETE to see the list of books I read to meet this challenge. :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

REMINDER: In Death Reading Challenge next week!

Just a reminder that if you're participating in the In Death Reading Challenge, there's only one more week left to March, so if you haven't already started, now would be a great time to pick up that next In Death book. I'll be making a post next week with Mr. Linky so you can report your latest read. Remember that you don't have to write a book review for the challenge. You can write up any kind of commentary about the book you read or about the series in general, or you can simply link to your list of books on your blog. Don't forget that I'll be doing a drawing in April for the participants who have read or listened to an audio book version of an In Death book each month from January through April, so be sure to stay up to date! If you fell behind or are starting late, go ahead and read what you need to in order to catch up.

I just finished reading Holiday In Death a couple of days ago and will do a little mini review of it next week. I also read the short story, "Midnight In Death" that immediately follows Holiday In Death. The stories take place so close to each other in the series timeline that it really was fun to read them back to back. I was enjoying Eve and Roarke, Peabody, McNab so much that I even started reading the next book in the series, Conspiracy In Death. I ventured as far as three chapters in when I realized I had library books due in a couple of days that I should be reading, not to mention I want to read an historical romance before the end of the month for the Year of the Historical reading challenge I'm doing, so I set it aside. Right now I'm reading the fantasy novel, Except the Queen by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder as well as the historical romance novel, Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan, depending on my mood throughout the day or night.

What are you reading right now?

For more details about the In Death Series Reading Challenge, visit the challenge sign up post HERE. New members are welcome to join in any time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

RELEASE DAY! Mind Games by Carolyn Crane

Today is the official release day of Mind Games, the debut urban fantasy novel by author Carolyn Crane.

I'm plugging Mind Games today despite the fact that I haven't read more than the book blurb and brief excerpt that's posted on her author site. While I admittedly can't proclaim Mind Games a stellar read without reading it for myself, I am hopeful --and confidently so-- that the book will be thoroughly entertaining.

Why? Because I have been reading Carolyn's blog, The Thrillionth Page for over two years now and I know that she is smart, insightful, sassy, creative, and has a fantastic sense of humor. While these traits obviously aren't indicative of author talent on their own, they are characteristics of Carolyn's writing style that will be evident in her published work as they are on her blog. I just know it.

Don't want to put your confidence in my speculation?

No problem.

Check out these fantastic cover quotes from the following very talented authors:

"With a twisty, edgy storyline, a unique premise and a fascinating heroine, MIND GAMES jumpstarts a smart and original urban fantasy series. A fabulous debut!"
~Meljean Brook, The Guardians series

"Carolyn Crane writes with deft and evocative flair, creating a fantasy-noir world touched with comic book cool. With a twisty plot, a unique heroine, memorable supporting characters, and an amazingly fresh premise, debut novel Mind Games is a delicious, unforgettable delight. I can't wait for the next book!"
~Ann Aguirre, national bestselling author of Blue Diablo

What?! You don't want to take their word for it either?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Trapped In a Restaurant Meme Game

It's a Mind Games Meme Game!

In case you live under a rock and have not heard ...

or have been reading my blog without paying any attention to what I have in the sidebar ...

Fellow book blogger and friend of mine, Carolyn Crane is days away from the release of her debut novel, Mind Games!

Carolyn created this fun meme game to celebrate her debut book release and if you play along, you could win a $100 gift card to the restaurant of your choice! All you need to do is answer the Meme Game questions and post them on your social media site like your blog, facebook, and so on. Check out the rules at Carolyn's blog here.

Meme Game Questions:

1. In MIND GAMES, heroine Justine Jones can’t figure out why tortured mastermind Sterling Packard never sets foot outside the Mongolian Delites restaurant. What if you were somehow trapped in a restaurant, what sort of restaurant would you prefer?

Asian fusion. The little place downtown is perfect. They serve delicious sushi, Chinese, Thai and Malaysian dishes.

2. What if you won the fancy $100 dinner to a restaurant of your choice, and you could dine with any character from any book, movie, or history. Who would you choose?

Lilith from Meljean Brook's Guardian Series.

3. Choose three characters to dine with for a lively dinner party (you can define lively however you want).

Lilith and Michael from Meljean Brook's Guardian series, and Raphael from Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series.

Why? Considering their mutual 'divine' origins so to speak, and the powers they seemingly so nonchalantly wield, I'd love to hear what Michael and Raphael would talk about and Lilith would be so good at getting them to inevitably engage in some kind of one-upmanship. She'd also serve as my body guard. And we'd bring home a nice doggie bag for Sir Pup!

To learn more about Carolyn Crane and her urban fantasy fiction, visit her website at

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Truths Revealed

See Truth Game here.

When Tracy first tagged me on the truth game meme, I didn't think I could come up with any good lies. But to tell the truth, once I sat down and came up with one... then two... then tree... it turns out it was a lot of fun stretching some truths about me into lies. Not only that, but I was good at it, too, because no one guessed the correct two truths! However, one person did get one truth correct, so I am awarding her the grand prize. Read on to find out if it's you....

It's time for confessions!

1. I spent my summers as a kid on eastern Long Island, NY where I spent days "working" on my grandfather's fishing boat.
I spent my summers as a kid on eastern Long Island, NY but I spent my days sailing, swimming and sunning. So spoiled.

2. I have only been out of the country once, when I visited the Philippines with my husband the year after we were married.
I have actually been out of the country five times-- twice to Mexico, twice to Canada and once to Bermuda. We do plan on visiting the Philippines someday, though, so my husband can show me and our daughters his native country.

3. Both of my daughters have my mother-in-law's first name as their middle name.
Each daughter has a variation of either my or my husband's first name as their middle name.

4. I met my husband in college when he was my TA in physics and I was his student.
I did meet my husband in college when he was a physics grad student and I was an undergrad, but he was never my TA nor was I ever his student.

5. I have never beat my husband in Scrabble.
It is a rare occurrence, but every now and then I score a win in Scrabble!

6. The only state I have ever vacationed in twice is Utah.
Two of my most spectacular and most memorable vacations of my life have been to Utah. I know! Who would have guessed Utah would be the place to be, right? I spent a week in Utah for a winter ski vacation, during which we skied at five different ski resorts: Deer Valley, Park City, Sundance, Alta, and Snowbird. Each one was unique and awe inspiring. Several years later, I spent a week in Utah for a summer vacation visiting Utah's many spectacular State and National Parks, starting at Salt Lake City and ending at the Grand Canyon. This vacation was A M A Z I N G! Antelope State Park near Salt Lake City, Arches National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. I saw sights on this trip that just took my breath away. I would go back to each one of these places in a heartbeat.

7. I was on the track team in high school.
I tricked almost all of you on this one with running being such a new thing to me. The truth is that running is new to me, but I was actually on my high school track team for one year when I threw shot put and discus. I wasn't very good at it. I think I placed only once the whole season and that was just because my one teammate was absent and the other team sucked. LOL. Needless to say, I didn't return the following year.

8. I have my bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and my master's degree in business management.
I have my bachelor's degree in electrical engineering but my master's degree is in teaching. I'm qualified to teach high school math.

9. I recently reconnected with my best friend from childhood with whom I was friends when we were 4 years old for the first time on Facebook.
I have never lost touch with my best friend from childhood. We have been close friends for about 38 years. We started out as neighborhood playmates at age 4 and despite the fact that she moved away when we were 10, we have maintained a close friendship over the years and still see each other regularly throughout the year.

10. I had a part time job in high school working in my town's public library shelving books and making sure the card catalog was properly alphabetized.
I had a part time job in high school working in the town's violations bureau doing filing and eventually assisted the court clerk during weekly court sessions. It was enlightening to find out which of my classmates were getting busted for pot or vandalism.

The two true statements are #6 and #7.

No one guessed #6 to be true and only orannia guessed #7 to be true, so she wins the grand prize!

Congrats, orannia!!! :)

I put everyone else's name in the random list generator at and the winner of the homemade bookmark is ....

Natalie!!! :)

Sorry I'm such a good liar, but I hope you all had fun playing the truth game with me, anyway! I know I sure had fun seeing what everyone was guessing to be true about me. :)

Thanks for playing, everyone!!!

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Library Loot XIII

Did you play my Truth Game yet? Today's the last day to take a guess which two statements about me in my list of ten are true for a chance to win some fun prizes. You can find the game two posts down from this one and to play, just leave a guess. As long as you make a guess you're automatically entered for a chance to win a homemade book mark made by me. If you guess the correct two truths, you can win books or a gift card for coffee or tea. Go on, take a guess! But not before you check out my library loot this week.

Library Loot is a weekly blog event that encourages bloggers to share what books they borrowed from the library that week. To participate, simply make your Library Loot post on your blog and link it using the Mr. Linky link at Marg's blog Reading Adventures or Eva's blog A Striped Armchair. This week's link up is at Eva's.

Except the Queen by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder

This novel is a contemporary urban fantasy story about two sisters who betray the Fey Queen and are consequently cursed and exiled to live among humans. The sisters are separated, forbidden to see each other or face dire consequences, and communicate via letters. Each sister befriends a trouble mortal and through these mortals, they discover the fate of their kingdom lies in their hands.

After reading Thea's review at The Book Smugglers, my curiosity was piqued. When I saw the book come in on my library's new book list, I put myself on the hold list. KMont at Lurv a la Mode also recently reviewed the novel and the day after I read her review, the library called to tell me the book was ready for me at the front desk. I love when that happens. :)

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison-Allen

I read and loved this author's first novel, Garden Spells last fall, so I knew I'd eventually pick up her second novel, The Sugar Queen. I'm looking forward to reading this book as I'm sure it's going to be equally charming, comforting and romantic as Garden Spells is.

My Soul To Save by Rachel Vincent
Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart

I grabbed this armful of young adult novels that I've been wanting to read for a while now, plus one 'impulse' choice. My Soul to Save and Ballad--both contemporary urban fantasy reads, are sequels to novels I read last year, and I'm looking forward to reading more from both of these worlds again. Jellicoe Road has been on my radar for quite some time now because of all of the stellar reviews it garnered. I'm looking forward to discovering its excellence for myself. Finally, Nothing But Ghosts is my 'impulse' YA choice. I haven't heard anything about this book, and while I think I have heard of the author before, I couldn't quite pinpoint from where. I read the inside flap and thought the story sounded promising, so I added it to my loot.

It seems my visits to the new non fiction shelves at my library are going to be a regular occurrence now. I admit that I very reluctantly returned The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook by Jaden Hair. I tried about a half dozen recipes with great results and wanted to make at least a dozen more. I did copy down several of the dessert and drink recipes that I plan to try before I borrow the cookbook again. This week, I borrowed two more cookbooks. Both are visually stimulating as well as appetite stimulating! I have to remember not to read through these two books when I'm hungry, because the recipes sound phenomenal! Not to mention the photos in Rustic Fruit Desserts. I want to try everything!

Clean Food by Terry Walters

Clean Food is an educational resource as much as it is a cookbook. The author writes about choosing foods that are seasonal and grown as close to you as possible, foods that are minimally or not processed at all, organic when possible, and how to prepare these foods for optimal nutrition. There are over 200 recipes in the book for dishes that use whole grains, legumes, vegetables, soy, nuts, seeds, fruit and sea vegetables and are organized by season. I'm fairly sure all recipes are vegan and dairy free.

Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson

The recipe collection within Rustic Fruit Desserts is pretty self explanatory based on the title. Lots of mouth watering recipes for pies, tarts, crumbles, buckles, cobblers, pandowdies and more--even a recipe or two for jam and ice cream. Just like in Clean Food, the recipes in this cookbook are also organized by season, which makes it easy to find a fruit dessert to make with whatever fruit you have available at home at the moment. I have several pears ready to be baked into a cobbler, I think. But as soon as rhubarb comes into season, which is perhaps barely two months from now where I live, I plan to bake either the Rhubarb Cream Cheese Pie with Fresh Strawberries or the Rhubarb Buckle with Ginger Crumb. Mmm. Or maybe the Rhubarb, Oat and Pecan Crumble. That's going to be a difficult decision. Good thing I have time to think about it. ;o)

Do you ever borrow cookbooks from your library?

Have you read any of the books from my fiction loot this week?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Coconut Lime Banana Bread

Banana bread is a family favorite in my house any time of the year. After years and years of trying different banana bread recipes, with a careful eye for lower fat versions, I found the perfect recipe for Classic Banana Bread in the September 2003 issue of Cooking Light magazine. It's my go-to recipe for banana bread for over six years now, feeding many happy tummies over the years. Every once in a while, though, I get in the mood for banana bread with a little extra something, and then I use this recipe for Coconut-Lime Banana Bread that I can't really call my own. It's nearly identical to the recipe in that same issue of Cooking Light for Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze. I've merely altered the glaze so that it's less sweet, and I sprinkle a bit of coconut on the glaze at the end instead of right before baking.

This Coconut Lime Banana Bread is a delicious tropical twist to the classic banana bread that will deliver a little extra zing to your taste buds.

Coconut-Lime Banana Bread

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
3 medium to large bananas, mashed
1/4 cups plain low fat yogurt
3 tablespoons coconut flavored or dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut

For the glaze:
1/4 cup powdered sugar
juice from 1/2 of a lime
1 tablespoon flaked, sweetened coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and stir with a whisk.

Beat butter and granulated sugar on medium speed of a mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat well with mixer. Add banana, yogurt, rum and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Stir in the coconut. Pour batter into a lightly greased 9x5 inch loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour until a toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean.

Let cool slightly and then remove from pan. Combine powdered sugar and lime juice in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Pour over warm bread and sprinkle with remaining flaked coconut. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Catching Up And a Truth Game!

I haven't been around blogland much in the last week and a day or two, but I couldn't even tell you why. I haven't really been that busy, but if you give me a minute, I'm sure I can come up with a few good excuses. Let's see...

Oh! I've been cleaning my house more than usual lately as we had overnight guests last weekend (with toddlers!) and I had a friend over for lunch yesterday. Neither parties have seen the house since way before the construction even started, so of course, I had to make good first impressions. Now I'm thinking that I should schedule visitors every three or four days so that I'm compelled to maintain this level of clean and tidy. ;)

What else? I've been making an honest effort to work out again at 5-6 days a week instead of the 3-4 that I was doing in the last two months or so. I realize now how lucky I was when I could workout every day at 9 am after getting the girls off to school. Now that I need to stay home during the days to take care of my father-in-law who can't be left home alone anymore, I have to workout out every Saturday and Sunday--or at least try, and try to get in as many early morning workouts as possible before my husband leaves for work during the week. So now I'm getting up three days a week by 5:30 am to go to the gym, which is forcing me to go to bed earlier at night, which in turn cuts into my usual reading and blogging time. You'd think I'd be in such awesome shape by now... grrr.

I've still been running one morning by myself (although not this week, because I'm resting a minor shin injury), and on Saturdays either by myself, with my running partner or with my husband. Running solo isn't anywhere near as fun as running with someone and is a lot harder! My online running friend, Shawn a.k.a. doodlegirl, once told me that solo runs should count as double the miles and I totally agree! Running with my partner is great because we talk the whole time, which is a nice distraction from how hard running is. Running with my husband is great, too, because, well... he's my husband! I simply love doing stuff with him. Plus in that 45 minutes we can have a conversation without being interrupted by children or his dad. Plus he's really nice to look at. He totally lets me set the pace for the run and doesn't put any pressure on me at all. I do that all by myself. I keep thinking I'm holding him back (the fact that he falls behind or runs ahead to take pictures or video of me and then is by my side a minute later hardly out of breath kinda makes it obvious that I'm not the same level), so I'm constantly playing tug of war with myself in my head about my pace. One minute, I'm relaxed about it, and the next minute I feel inadequate that I'm slow and can't run any faster for him. I'm like that when we cycle together, too. It's such a waste of mental energy on my part. I really have to learn to let that go and just have fun. I just can't help that I still want to impress him after all these years. ;)

My husband took this photo of me on our last run together. Lovely conditions. :)
Lovely backside, too. Hence the need to run.
And then run some more.

I've also been reading, which is always good. I'm almost finished with the last Lily Bard mystery book by Charlaine Harris. I love this series and am going to be sad in about 100 pages because then I'll be finished with the series. I told Angie on twitter yesterday that Lily Bard ranks right up there with Mercy Thompson as a favorite heroine, and if you know me, that says A LOT.

So as you can see, I haven't been unusually busy after all. I think sometimes I just lose my blogging momentum out of nowhere and it takes a week or more to get back into it. I seem to be the only one who does that!

Anyway, if I haven't lost your attention by rambling on and on about myself and you're still reading this... How about we play a little game? I got tagged by Tracy last week on game about telling the truth. Or telling lies, depending on how you look at it.

I've come up with a list of 10 statements about myself. Only TWO of them are true and the rest are lies. You have to guess which two statements are true.

To make it even more fun for you, I'm going to throw in prizes!

{Which I meant to do back in December for my two year blog anniversary but I missed it. Doh!}

Anyone who guesses the correct TWO true statements about me will be entered in a drawing for one of the following prizes:

  • A $7 gift card to Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks. (winner's choice)
  • A new book from TheBookDepository up to $7.
  • Two gently used books from my prize shelf on Shelfari, which will be updated with more books by next week. (US or Canada only for this one)

Everyone else who leaves a guess is entered in a drawing to win a homemade book thong made by me. I'm too lazy to go take a picture of a book thong and upload it. Maybe I'll do it later. A book thong is basically a bookmark made with thin ribbon and beads at either end. It's very pretty.

Game Rules:
  • Leave a comment below indicating which TWO statements you think are TRUE about me.
  • Contest will close on Wednesday, March 17, 2010 by 11:59 pm EST.
  • Answers will be revealed and winners announced the following day.
  • Leave your email address in your comment if it is not available on your blog or blog profile so I can contact you if you win.
  • Winners have three days to claim their prize before I chose another winner.

Truth or Lie?

1. I spent my summers as a kid on eastern Long Island, NY where I spent days "working" on my grandfather's fishing boat.

2. I have only been out of the country once, when I visited the Philippines with my husband the year after we were married.

3. Both of my daughters have my mother-in-law's first name as their middle name.

4. I met my husband in college when he was my TA in physics and I was his student.

5. I have never beat my husband in Scrabble.

6. The only state I have ever vacationed in twice is Utah.

7. I was on the track team in high school.

8. I have my bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and my master's degree in business management.

9. I recently reconnected with my best friend from childhood with whom I was friends when we were 4 years old for the first time on Facebook.

10. I had a part time job in high school working in my town's public library shelving books and making sure the card catalog was properly alphabetized.
(Raise your hand if you actually remember card catalogs?!)

Good luck! :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Easy Guacamole

Anyone have the munchies after reading my post from last night? Ha, ha very funny, I know. Especially after it seems I may have scared everyone off with that one. ;p

Anyway, here's a super easy, healthy and delicious recipe for guacamole that you can pull together in a matter of minutes. It's great served as a snack with tortilla chips or alongside any Mexican inspired meal like quesadillas or fajitas.


1 large avocado
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 small clove garlic, smashed
juice from 1/2 lime
kosher salt

Slice avocado in half, around the large pit in the middle and twist the avocado along the cut to separate the two halves. One half will have the pit still stuck in it.

Using a large spoon, scoop out the avocado flesh onto a cutting board, reserving the pit if you don't plan on serving the guacamole right away.

Using a paring knife, cut the avocado into chunks. You can also mash the avocado to make it smoother, but I prefer it chunky.

Add cayenne pepper, garlic, lime juice and stir gently to break up some of the avocado chunks. Season with salt to taste and serve with tortilla chips or alongside your favorite 'south of the border' inspired entree.

Did you know avocados are sometimes called alligator pears?

How do you like to eat avocados?

In the Philippines, avocados are pureed with sweetened condensed milk and served over ice as a milk shake of sorts. I've only had this drink once, and while it may sound strange to those of us who have always lived so far from the equator, let me tell you, it's really delicious. There's a recipe in The Steamy Kitchen cookbook by Jaden Hair (as seen in my last library loot post) that's very similar that I'm dying to try. It even has a shot of espresso in it. MMmm!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You know you're getting old when . . .

. . . the chapter title in the book you're reading is "Reefer Madness" and it takes you at least a full minute until you recognize the word reefer.

The first time, I automatically read it as "Refer Madness."
What? That doesn't make sense!
Referee Madness?
It could be a typo. I am reading an ARC after all.
I read a couple of paragraphs and then . . . wait a minute . . .
{light bulb}
Ohhh! Reefer.
Duh. LOL.

Speaking of reefer.

Do you know The Beatles songs "Within You Without You" & "Tomorrow Never Knows"? Well, I don't think I've ever heard either one until we got Beatles Rock Band. The version on Beatles Rock band is a mashup version of the two songs originally from The Beatles Love album ( and its definitely one of my favorite songs to play on Beatles Rock Band. Anyway, I was feeling gutsy tonight, and with a little encouragement from my husband (and accompanying me on drums), I played it on expert.

That's right. 91% on expert.
{I'm so excited about this!! LOL!}
I guess I'm not that old, after all.

Well, not that age has anything to do with Rock Band skills, but it makes me feel young.. errr... younger, anyway. ;o)

By the way, the book I'm currently reading is the fourth Spellman book by author Lisa Lutz, The Spellmans Strike Again and the main character doesn't use reefer anymore. She's left those wild times behind in her misspent teens and twenties. She's all of 32 now. Anyway, I'm really enjoying the book and in fact, I'm almost finished with it already and I just started it a day or so ago, which for me, is fast. I had to force myself to put it down because I want to finish it tomorrow morning when I'm all alert and focused for the ending.