Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Happy Pi Day (3.14) 2018! *plus* a Recipe

Happy Pi Day, My Lovelies!  This is a fun day for nerds everywhere: the day we celebrate pi and PIE!

This week I've been reading Luck, Love & Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert.  I haven't finished yet because it's Shelley's spring break: We've been super busy!  But so far, it's just as fun as The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, and you can find my review HERE.

According to Goodreads:

From the author of the “clever, creative, and sweetly delicious” (Kirkus Reviews) The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and The Simplicity of Cider comes a novel about an exasperated wife and mother who makes a play to reignite her marriage—and risks everything in a gamble she hopes is a sure bet.

When Milwaukee-area wife and mother MJ Boudreaux notices her husband Chris seems more interested in the casino than her, she’s more bothered that she isn’t upset than by her husband’s absence. She picks up poker as a way for them to spend more time together—and reignite their marital flame.

Although the game doesn’t give her the quality time with Chris that she’d hoped, MJ finds she has a knack for it. Increasingly unhappy at home, she turns to the felt top of the poker table for comfort. Intoxicated with newfound freedom, MJ begins spending more time at the gambling tables and less with her family, finally carving out for herself a place outside her role of wife and mother.

After a string of great wins, MJ finds herself in Vegas, attracting the attention of a certain magnetic poker star. But when she’s forced to choose between her family and her new exciting lifestyle, the stakes may be higher than she thought and MJ will have to play her hand carefully…or risk losing it all.

My thoughts so far...

The book begins with MJ on the back terrace at a restaurant, alone, on her wedding anniversary.  Chris was supposed to meet her for a celebratory luncheon, but he's a no show.  In the past, Chris baked an anniversary pie for them, but last year he claimed he didn't have time to bake.  MJ attempts to bake the pie this year, but her unsuccessful result prompts her to ask the chef at the restaurant to bake it for them.  So she eats the entire pie along with three old fashions over an almost two hour time span while she waits for Chris.  From the get-go the reader knows that this marriage is in a wee bit of trouble.

I like MJ's wit and gumption as she becomes better at poker.  Her character is sassy, and I think she believes she's a good mother because she wants to be a good mother.  Their family motto, B-DIO (pronounced bee dee o), "Boudreauxs Do It Ourselves," needs an overhaul, but I can't tell you why because it would be a spoiler.  I think that mothers everywhere can relate to MJ's search for balance in her life.  Her attempts to make time for the important things including herself make her a relatable character.

Chris's Anniversary Pie recipe is in the back of the book, and it's for a basic Lemon Custard Pie, but the genius in it is a lemon sugar syrup that's used to paste the piecrust after baking and used in the whipped cream.  Wow, does it make a difference!

"Dwelling on the what-ifs will blind you to the wonderfulness of what is." -MJ from Luck Love & Lemon Pie

Below is my grandmother's recipe for lemon pie.  I hope you try it and like it!

Lemon Pie

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
7 tablespoons fresh key lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 T key lime zest
1T lemon zest

For the topping:
1 cup chilled heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

One prepared pie crust, either graham cracker or deep dish

Place rack in the center of oven and preheat to 350°F.

Whisk condensed milk and yolks together in a large bowl. Add key lime and lemon juice and whisk until well-combined (mixture will thicken slightly).  Stir in zest.

Pour filling into crust and bake until center is just set, about 15 minutes. Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool completely (filling will set as it cools), about 1 hour. Transfer to refrigerator and chill until cold for two hours at least.

Make the topping:

When ready to serve, whip cream with a whisk or electric mixer to very soft peaks. Sprinkle sugar over cream and continue whipping until it holds stiff peaks. Dollop cream in center of pie (leaving at least a 1" border of visible pie filling) and serve.

NOTE:  When I'm certain we won't eat the pie in one sitting, I leave the topping off the pie and add the topping to single servings.  Sometimes I cheat and use a store bought whipped topping.

My grandmother sometimes added meringue to this recipe.  Use two egg whites, beat, and add four tablespoons sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Add to pie and bake until bake until meringue is browned.  

Happy Pi Day, y'all!

If you'd like to order a copy of Luck, Love & Lemon Pie, please click on the IndieBound affiliate link below!

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We have lots of stuff going on the next several days: a big wedding anniversary, my grandmother's 98th birthday, and our daughters' spring breaks.  I'll be taking a break and return on March 23rd.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Friday, March 9, 2018

Literary Friday: I'll Be Your Blue Sky

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  This week I read I'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos.  She's one of my favorite writers, and The Precious One was my favorite book of 2016.

About I'll Be Your Blue Sky

• Hardcover: 320 pages

• Publisher: William Morrow (March 6, 2018)

The New York Times bestselling author revisits the characters from her beloved novels Love Walked In and Belong to Me in this captivating, beautifully written drama involving family, friendship, secrets, sacrifice, courage, and true love for fans of Jojo Moyes, Elin Hilderbrand, and Nancy Thayer. 

On the weekend of her wedding, Clare Hobbes meets an elderly woman named Edith Herron. During the course of a single conversation, Edith gives Clare the courage to do what she should have done months earlier: break off her engagement to her charming—yet overly possessive—fiancĂ©.

Three weeks later, Clare learns that Edith has died—and has given her another gift. Nestled in crepe myrtle and hydrangea and perched at the marshy edge of a bay in a small seaside town in Delaware, Blue Sky House now belongs to Clare. Though the former guest house has been empty for years, Clare feels a deep connection to Edith inside its walls, which are decorated with old photographs taken by Edith and her beloved husband, Joseph.

Exploring the house, Clare finds two mysterious ledgers hidden beneath the kitchen sink. Edith, it seems, was no ordinary woman—and Blue Sky House no ordinary place. With the help of her mother, Viviana, her surrogate mother, Cornelia Brown, and her former boyfriend and best friend, Dev Tremain, Clare begins to piece together the story of Blue Sky House—a decades-old mystery more complex and tangled than she could have imagined. As she peels back the layers of Edith’s life, Clare discovers a story of dark secrets, passionate love, heartbreaking sacrifice, and incredible courage. She also makes startling discoveries about herself: where she’s come from, where she’s going, and what—and who—she loves.

Shifting between the 1950s and the present and told in the alternating voices of Edith and Clare, I’ll Be Your Blue Sky is vintage Marisa de los Santos—an emotionally evocative novel that probes the deepest recesses of the human heart and illuminates the tender connections that bind our lives.


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Tisa Della-Volpe

About Marisa de los Santos

A New York Times bestselling author and award-winning poet with a PhD in literature and creative writing, Marisa de los Santos lives in Wilmington, Delaware, with her family. Connect with Marisa on Facebook and Twitter.

My Review:

This book is a gift to Marisa de los Santo's readers because we "visit" beloved characters from Love Walked In and Belong to MeI'll Be Your Blue Sky is the last book in this trilogy, and although it can be read on its own, I highly suggest you read the other two first because I think it's helpful to know the backstories, and the other books are so well-written.

Clare breaks her engagement to Zach on the day of their wedding after having a conversation with an elderly woman she'd just met named Edith.  Clearly Clare and Zach are mismatched, and what I found hard to believe is that Clare's almost mother Cornelia and her mother Viviana doesn't put a stop to the wedding nonsense sooner.  Not only does Edith save Clare from making a huge mistake, she also bequeaths a lovely Delaware beach house called Blue Sky House to Clare.  Obviously there's much  more to the story than meets the eye because the big question is: Why did Edith leave the beach house to Clare?  

Cornelia, Viviana, and Clare's ex-boyfriend and (still) best friend Dev help Clare solve the mystery of Edith using the ledgers found under the sink at Blue Sky House.  As Clare explores the cottage, she learns about her benefactress Edith's love for her husband, Joseph.  What perplexes Clare is the mystery of Edith's abandonment of the cottage in the 1950s.  Clare and Dev interview many people, and eventually a secret is revealed that connects Edith to Clare.  Edith is a courageous and fascinating character, and I found myself thinking about her days after finishing the book.  

I absolutely love Clare and Dev's story, and I was constantly nervous that Zach was going to do something stupid throughout the book.  I failed to see the charm in his character: I thought he was like a cocked gun ready to go off!   De los Santo's strength is crafting compelling characters and then delving into the heart of her characters' relationships.  They are flawed, they make mistakes, life gets messy, and I can so relate to them.  I also love how she depicts family dynamics, and with Clare's loving extended family, there's lots of material from which to draw.  De los Santos has written a very satisfying end to this trilogy; I highly recommend all three books.

The books below are affiliate purchase links via IndiBound:

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Disclosure:  I received an ARC of I'll Be Your Blue Sky from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

What I'm Reading Wednesday: The DIY Home Planner by KariAnne Wood

Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!  Today I've been reading The DIY Home Planner by KariAnne Wood.  I'm sure y'all know KariAnne: She blogs @ Thistlewood Farms.

You might remember a few weeks ago when I started playing with this planner.  It's so helpful, and I love how it's organized to help the reader plan a complete room from empty box to fluffing with accessories.

The DIY Home Planner was released yesterday, so you can purchase a copy wherever fine books are sold.  Kirklands is even carrying this handy book!

I've been using the planner to help me redecorate Shanley Belle's bedroom.  As y'all know she's in Baton Rouge at LSU working on her doctorate, and her room is rarely used these days.  I want to convert her room to a pseudo-library, yet keep the bedroom option for when we have guests and when Shanley Belle comes home for holidays and visits.  The room needs to do double duty!

Unfortunately it's my least favorite room in the house because it's dark and awkward.  It's a dormer bedroom, and the ceiling is 8' at its highest and slopes downward toward the front wall that has the dormer.  Let's look at the floor plan I constructed in the space planning section of the DIY Planner:

Shanley said she thought it would be fun to have a couple of floor pillows in front of the shelves.  Anthropologie has some pretty ones that would work with either scheme we choose. The bathroom door is on bottom, and the closet door is on top.

You can see the dormer which contains the only window in the room.  To make matters worse, the room is on the north side of the house.

The bed looks like this:

The nightstand beside the bed and the small chest of drawers beside the bathroom door are pine, not too different from the photo.  But we also have some stark white furniture in the attic that will fit, too.

I have two different plans for this room, and I need your feedback to help me make my decision between the two.

Let's call the first design "Millennial Pink."

I would paint the walls Pleasant Pink and the trim including bookshelves Dreamy Cloud.  All paint is Benjamin Moore.  

I would order this pretty quilt from Shabby Chic:

I love this quilt because it's reversible.  
Shanley has a pale pink sheet set and shams to match.

The chair would be recovered in this mauve linen.  Can you believe that mauve is a thing again?
I'd use the same linen for a roman shade window treatment.

I'd purchase this throw pillow for the chair.  Both the mauve linen and this pillow are also from Shabby Chic.

This is the library lamp I'd choose for this scheme.  It's from Houzz.  Mr. Sketchy Reader is building a box on the very top shelf for mounting the lights.

Let's call the second design "Modern Highlighter."

This design is much more minimalistic.  Everything in the room will be white (well almost everything) which I like because did I mention how flippin' DARK this room is?

I'd paint everything Super White.  (Note:  Most of our home is either painted Mayonnaise or Super White.)  Everything, that it, but the bookshelves: they would be painted a highlighter yellow called Bright Yellow.  It would look like someone drew a line or highlighted the books.  The thick shelves would be mounted on brackets that would be painted white like the walls, so literally the shelves would look like lines.

Someone needs to give KariAnne a drink of water because she's in a state of shock over the yellow!

This is the linen bedding I'd order from Shabby Chic:

Prairie stitch linen bedding
We already have white sheet sets and euro shams.
I would cover the chair in white linen, and the roman shade would be made out of the same linen.

Faux fur pillow for chair

Library shelving light, also from Houzz.

There you have it!  Both designs for Shanley's room/library.

Y'all can vote on which design you like best by leaving a comment below!  Vote for either "Millennial Pink" or "Modern Highlighter."

Here's another page from the book with the possible paint selections:

There are fun surprises in the book, even how to make an origami bookmark!  I love the front and back inside covers with the pockets for holding swatches and other papers:

Are you currently planning a DIY project?  If so, KariAnne's planner will help you with each step.

If you'd like to order The DIY Home Planner, below is an IndieBound affiliate link.

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Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill