Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, My Lovelies!  This will be the last post of 2016, and I hope to enjoy these last days with everyone home before the Spring Semester begins.

This week I read two fun Christmas books.  One was a cozy mystery, and the other one would make a fantastic Hallmark Channel movie.

I love M.C. Beaton's mysteries.  I've read several of her Hamish MacBeth mysteries as well as the Agatha Raisin ones.  When I saw Agatha Raisin and the Busy Body at my local library, I thought it would be a fun read during the Christmas Holidays.

According to Goodreads:

Christmas falls on a Sunday ...

A blood-curdling scream stirs Agatha Raisin from her surreptitious slumbers at the Christmas meeting of Carsely's Ladies' Society. In a holly bush in the vicarage grounds, Mr Sunday, an officer from the local health and safety board, is found dead. It seems his latest ruling against a Christmas tree atop the church tower may have been the last straw for the health-and-safety-hounded villagers.

If festive cheer is to return to Carsely, Agatha must find the killer fast. But with so many people having threatened the life of the victim, it's almost impossible to know where to start.

My Review

Poor Agatha.  She attempts a Christmas holiday abroad in the sun that turns into a lonely waste of time with most of the restaurants and other attractions listed in the guidebook closed for the holiday. She returns home to a Ladies' Society meeting held at a dreary neighboring village vicarage only to witness the grisly murder of Mr. Sunday, the most obnoxious health and safety inspector in all of England.  He was a bully and everyone hated him which makes everyone a suspect in his murder.  He found reasons to basically remove all holiday displays under his jurisdiction due to "health and safety concerns."  Plus Agatha is having issues within her agency, she's a victim of some very bad press, and her love life is nonexistent.  Mayhap she should have stayed away during Christmas!

This is a fun Agatha Raisin mystery.  The middle-aged sleuth is more sassy than ever, and she doesn't allow the press, personal tragedy, and tight-lipped villagers get her down.  She and her team chase leads and suspects, and the conclusion of this mystery is a shocking thriller.  I highly recommend Agatha Raisin and the Busy Body if you enjoy cozy mysteries with a Christmas theme.

The second book is a sweet Christmas story written by Donna VanLiere.  I've read several of her Christmas books, and one of them, The Christmas Secret, has been adapted as a Hallmark Christmas movie.  I enjoy her stories because they focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

According to Goodreads:

Donna VanLiere, New York Times bestselling author of the timeless The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Hope, is back with this moving and uplifting story about finding love, hope, and family in unexpected places.

Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.

When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for?

My Review:

This is the latest of VanLiere's Christmas novels, and it's nice to return to Grandon and revisit several of my favorite characters, especially Gloria and Miriam from Glory's Place.  You can read my review for The Christmas Promise HERE.   The Christmas Town is not really a sequel to The Christmas Promise.  Both are stand alone books, but if you want more of a background about Glory's Place, then you might want to read The Christmas Promise first.  You can read my review of The Christmas Secret (also about Glory's Place) HERE.

Lauren is a character after my own heart.  Both of her parents abandoned her, and although many of her foster parents are good people she's never felt like she belongs in any of their families.  Determined to celebrate Christmas this year as a part of a family, she takes matters into her own hands by placing a Craig's List ad asking for a family who will welcome her as one of their own.  In the meantime, she witnesses an accident in Grandon, a town about an hour from where she lives, and she quickly becomes involved with the town's Christmas festivities and a fundraiser at Glory's Place.  It really isn't shocking who responds to Lauren's ad, but the circumstances and a relic from Lauren's childhood are enough evidence for the biggest doubters in town to believe in Christmas miracles.

I also love Ben's character.  He is a young man with a disability who works as a grocery bagger in one of Grandon's grocery stores.  He spends hours each evening writing original handwritten notes he carefully chooses and places in his patron's grocery bags.  Lauren meets Ben as a customer at the store, and she becomes interested in his notes because they seem so personal: How can Ben possibly know what encouragement people need in his checkout line?  I think everyone needs a Ben in his or her life!

This is such a sweet and uplifting Christmas story.  It's about choosing to belong to a family and community through involvement and courage.  It's about the spirit of giving because it truly is better to give than to receive.  It's about how small gestures of encouragement can change the direction of a person's day.  It's also about faith.  Psalm 32:8 is definitely a theme of the story:

The Lord says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you."

If you want to read a book to put you in the Christmas sprint, I highly recommend The Christmas Town.

Happy New Year!  I hope 2017 is the best year yet for you!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Several floral posts were among the top ten most popular posts on my blog in 2016.

As 2016 winds down, it's time to look back at this year's most read posts here on my blog.  But before we take a look I want to thank you, My Sweet Readers, for reading my little blog.  You are what makes blogging fun!

1.   The Little Paris Bookshop

Imagine my surprise that one of my Literary Friday posts was the most viewed post for the year. This is the first time that it's ever happened, and I was truly shocked!  I loved the book, too: It was one of my favorites of the year.

You can read the post HERE.

2.   Everything's Coming Up {Florals}

This post has a hodge podge of floral delights.  Below are our pajama stairs from our kitchen heading upstairs to the girls' bedrooms and classroom.

You can read the post HERE.

3.   Hello!  It's *Me* {Mustang Sally}

The next most popular post is Mustang Sally's guest post.  She is Finlay's little mama, and we are so blessed to have adopted her into our family during the summer.

You can read my post HERE.

4.   Shelley's Dorm Decor

I wasn't really surprised that Shelley's adorable dorm made the top five.  Shelley loves to decorate, and she is an avid HGTV viewer.  

You can read the post HERE.

5.   Hidden Figures

Rounding out the top five is another Literary Friday post I wrote earlier this month, Hidden Figures. I loved this book, too.

You can read the post HERE.

Now I want to share with you my favorite posts from 2016.

1.   The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

Not only did I love the book, but I learned how to make the most delicious coconut cake *ever*
I enjoy learning new things, and I do love coconut cakes with toasted coconut!

The book

The Cake
You can read the post HERE.

2.   Happy Birthday, Shanley Belle!

Shanley Belle loves the Chicago Cubs, so that's the theme she chose for her birthday party.

You can read the post HERE.

3.   Scooby Doo, Where Are You?

This post helped me get in touch with my inner child.  The Scooby Doo cartoon inspired my dining room Halloween tablescape.

You can read the post HERE.

4.   The News of the World

My favorite book of 2016!

You can read the post HERE.

5.   Advent Day Twenty-Two

I enjoy my Advent serious each year because it increases my anticipation of Christmas.  I'm worse than a little kid!  This is the guest post Shanley Belle wrote, and it was the most popular of the Advent posts. Maybe folks prefer hot chocolate to cookies.  Who knew?  But seriously, this is the best hot chocolate *ever*

You can read this post HERE.

Please come back on Friday for a Christmas edition of Literary Friday.  I'll review a cozy mystery and a book written by Donna VanLiere.

Until next time...

Merry Christmas!
Ricki Jill

Merry Christmas, My Lovelies!  I hope you and your loved ones have a very happy, safe, and blessed Christmas.  Today's cookie is brilliant in its simplicity, and I must admit that this is the first time I've ever made or tried one:  The Chocolate Sugar Cookie.  

This one is my very favorite of the season.  It's the best!  Click on this link for the recipe.  

These cookies are rolled in granulated sugar and sprinkled with even more before baking.

Baking cocoa is added to the flour mixture, and it makes a thick and rich batter.

I suppose I can share a few of these cookies with Santa tonight.

Are you finished with all your Christmas preparations including shopping and baking?  Are you on Santa's naughty or nice list?

John 1:1-14

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

1:2 He was in the beginning with God.

1:3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being

1:4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

1:7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.

1:8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

1:9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

1:10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.

1:11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.

1:12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,

1:13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

1:14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.

So happy to be a child of God.  

Until next time...

Merry Christmas!
Ricki Jill

About Marlene

• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (December 13, 2016)

From the cabarets of Weimar Berlin to the dazzling film studios of Hollywood’s golden age, an enthralling novel of a glamorous legend Maria Magdalena Dietrich was born for a life on the stage. Raised in genteel poverty after the First World War, the willful teenager vows to become an actress and singer, trading her family’s proper, middle-class society for the free-spirited decadence of Weimar Berlin’s cabarets and drag balls. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, and androgynous tailored suits, Marlene performs to packed houses—and becomes entangled in a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention—until she finds overnight success in her breakthrough film role as the cabaret singer Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel.

For Marlene, neither fame nor marriage and motherhood can cure her wanderlust. As Hitler rises to power, she sets sail for America. Her image as an erotic temptress captures worldwide attention, and she becomes one of Hollywood’s top leading ladies, starring in one high-profile film—and affair—after another. Though Hitler tries to lure her back to Germany, Marlene chooses instead to become a citizen of her new nation, even as America enters the war against her fatherland.

But one day, she must return to Germany, escorted by General George Patton himself. In the devastated cities and the concentration camps, she comes face-to-face with how the evils of fascism transformed her country, and the family she thought she knew. Lushly descriptive, as alluring as the lady herself, Marlene reveals the inner life of a woman of grit, glamour, and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged a path on her own terms.


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


About C. W. Gortner

C. W. Gortner is the author of many bestselling historical novels—including Mademoiselle Chanel—which have been published in more than twenty countries. He lives in San Francisco. Find out more about C.W. Gortner at his website and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

My Review:

I enjoy historical fiction, especially historical fiction set during World War II.  Marlene: A Novel of Marlene Dietrich is mesmerizing, partly due to the setting.  Berlin during the 1930's was a decadent destination with cabarets that knew no limits.  I don't want to rewrite what's in the book blurb, but I will say that I was shocked by Berlin's debauched subculture that shorty preceded the rise of the Third Reich.  Obviously it would have been impossible for both cultures to have coexisted.

While reading this excellent novel I kept having to remind myself that this is a work of fiction.  Told from Marlene's point of view, I feel as if she is narrating her story to me.  I love Marlene's voice, and Gortner succeeds in convincing me that this story and all of its details and dialogue are "fact."  Only the best historical fiction can achieve this, so kudos to Gortner!  I got sucked into the story from the first chapter about elementary school, and I found the book very hard to put down all the way through until the book's end, the aftermath of the war in a destroyed Berlin.

Marlene is not like the other starlets of the Golden Era of film.  She is gritty, political, altruistic, and brave.  She is one of the first stars to sell war bonds.  Her USO tour with Danny Thomas is long and fraught with danger, and I love how she records songs in both English and German used for propaganda.  Her shock at finding out her sister and brother-in-law's connection to Bergen-Belsen is ironic compared to Marlene's outspoken denunciation of Hitler and the Third Reich.  I found this section of the book so compelling that I did extra research and reading on my own because I wanted to know what actually happened to her in Germany after the war.

I enjoyed Marlene so much that I plan on reading more of Gortner's novels.  I'm particularly interested in reading The Confessions of Catherine de Medici and Mademoiselle Chanel.  I've already put them on reserve at my library!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of Marlene from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!!!  Thank-you for all your kind emails.  I am feeling much better, and I'm hoping I'll feel like seeing the children's Christmas pageant at church tomorrow afternoon.

I'm making Grinch cookies for Christmas Day.  You can read my complete post and how to make them HERE.

C'est que son coeur était trop petit.

Galatians 3:6-14

6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

This is Shanley Belle, RJ's daughter. I'm doing a guest post because:

a) Mom is sick.
b) I make the best hot chocolate ever, and Mom wants me to post about it.

So basically, I'm here to write about the hot chocolate recipe everyone in our house has become so fond of. Here's what you do:

Pour two cups of whole milk, 1/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips, 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, and 1/2 tablespoon dark corn syrup into a small saucepan. Put on medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the hot chocolate is warm, and chocolate chips melted. If they don't completely dissolve on their own, use a whisk at the very end. It'll make the mixture smooth and a little frothy at the top! This recipe is easily doubled, and two healthy-sized servings as I've written it.

I like to add both marshmallows and whipped cream because it's Christmas and you're *already* drinking hot chocolate, so why not add a little more?

Merry Christmas everyone, and happy yule from yesterday! Yay for days getting longer.


Luke 2: 15 - 20

2:15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us."

2:16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

2:17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;

2:18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.

2:19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

2:20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Happy Wednesday Morning, My Lovelies!  From all the shots and antibiotics yesterday (and this morning) I'm feeling much better, but not quite good enough to bake!

But I would like to share a special cookie with you today.  It's Lottie Moon's original tea cake recipe she shared with the children in China while she was in the mission field.

You may see my full post all about Lottie Moon HERE.

This is her recipe, both original and adapted:

Plain Tea Cake (As made by Lottie Moon)
Three teacups of sugar
One teacup of butter
One teacup of sour milk
Four pints flour
Three eggs, well beaten
Half a teaspoon of soda
Flavor to taste, roll thin, bake in a quick oven.

Adapted recipe:
2 cups flour
½ cup butter
1 heaping cup of sugar
1 well-beaten egg
1 tablespoon cream

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour and cream. Dust a board with flour. Roll the dough very thin. Cut cookies with a round cookie cutter. Place on a buttered or nonstick cookie sheet. Bake at 475 degrees for about 5 minutes.  *Let stand on cookie sheet for five minutes before placing on cooling rack.*

Note:  I added Sparkling Sugar before baking.

Luke 2:1-14

2:1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.

2:2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

2:3 All went to their own towns to be registered.

2:4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.

2:5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

2:6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.

2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

2:8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

2:9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

2:10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see--I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:

2:11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

2:12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger."

2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

2:14 "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Oh, the best-laid plans.....

I spent most of my morning at the doctor's office.  What I thought was a cold became much worse, and it turns out that I have a nasty sinus infection with the added bonus of an ear infection.

Boo!  Meh!  Meh X 10!!!

I had planned to spend the day with my grandmother and my mother.  But I didn't want them to catch this nasty mess that I have, so I didn't go (but the girls were able to spend the day with them).  I've been so sad today because I don't get to see them often because they live two counties away.  The girls had a blast, and I hate that I missed out.  *sadface*

I'd also planned to bake my mom her favorite cookie.  But it will have to wait until after Christmas.

Here it is, the Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookie from Sally's Baking Addiction.

Please click on this link to see Sally's original recipe.

Cherry Shortbread Cookies


3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Buttery Sweet Dough Bakery Emulsion extract  (Sally uses almond extract)
1 Tablespoon (15ml) maraschino cherry juice
2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour (measured correctly)
16 maraschino cherries (drained and chopped)
4 ounces white chocolate (optional)


Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Switch mixer to medium speed and add the the sugar, vanilla and butter extracts.

Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on high, slowly drizzle in 1 Tablespoon of the cherry juice. Beat for 1 minute on high. Turn the mixer off and pour the flour into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and slowly beat until a very soft dough is formed, then, with the mixer still running on low, add the chopped cherries. Beat just until the cherries are disbursed in the dough.

Press the dough down to compact it and tightly cover with plastic wrap to chill until firm, at least 4 hours (and up to 3 days). If the cookie dough is not sufficiently chilled, your cookies will spread all over the cookie sheet.  This is mandatory!

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (silicone mats preferred to reduce spreading, and that's what I used).  Shape the cookie dough into balls. Mine were about 1 Tablespoon of dough per ball. Try not to handle them too much because you want them to be as cold as possible before they go into the oven.

Make sure they're nice and smooth. If you find that the balls of dough are sticky and/or have gotten a little soft after rolling- place the balls of dough back into the refrigerator to firm up. You absolutely DO NOT want soft dough.

Bake for 11-12 minutes, or until very lightly browned on the edges. The cookies will puff up and spread slightly. Do not over bake.  You really must watch these cookies and take them out as soon as they are slightly brown on the edges.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before drizzling with white chocolate. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave, in 20 second increments, stirring after each increment until melted.

Sally suggests that you use a plastic condiment bottle to drizzle the melted white chocolate, and I concur….much easier that way!

Make ahead tip: Store cookies covered at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 6 days. Shortbread cookie dough may be frozen up to 2 months; baked cookies may be frozen up to 2-3 months.

Freedom in Christ

Galatians 5:1  

5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  I hope you're having a great start to your week by sipping on something yummy and warm.  Speaking of warm drinks, today's cookie is a Green Tea Wafer.  It was made with green tea matcha powder and honey.

My daughter made them and she went a wee bit heavy on the sprinkles!

Titus 2:11-14

2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all,

2:12 training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly,

2:13 while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

2:14 He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. 

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent, My Lovelies!  We had quite a storm blow through here during the early morning hours, and I'm nursing a bad cold.  I need a nap already!

Today's cookie is a recycled post because the cookie from my Cookie Advent Cookbook requires a cookie press, and I do't have one.

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  It is fantastic!

Neiman Marcus is a favorite American department store with most stores located in the South and West.  When our oldest daughter was born in Scottsdale, Arizona, we had no family close by and only a few friends.  Most days Shanley Belle and I would visit the Neiman Marcus Mermaid Bar for lunch so I could be around other people.  Actually, her first outing was to the Mermaid Bar when she was only a couple of weeks old!  

 photo abc5a322-0772-4f43-ad5f-33f6ecd6109a.jpg

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies


½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder, slightly crushed
1 ½ cups (8 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two cookie sheets. 
Cream the butter with the sugars using the paddle attachment until fluffy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract. 
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Beat into the butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. 
Using a small one ounce scoop or a large spoon, drop onto the cookie sheets.  Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or 10 - 12 minutes for a crispier cookie.  
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Perfect Pairings:

Warm Milk

Matthew 1:18-25

1:18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

1:19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

1:20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

1:21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

1:22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

1:23 "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."

1:24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife,

1:25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Happy Saturday, My Lovelies!  Christmas Eve is one week away!  Next week we have so many fun things planned that I'm as excited as a little kid!   :)

Today's cookie isn't the prettiest one, but it might be my favorite as far as taste so far.  It's called the Finnish Log Cookie.  The recipe called for finely chopped almonds, but we decided to try pistachios instead because we had a lot of them in the pantry.  We also used almond and vanilla extract in the dough.

These cookies combine the perfect texture with the perfect flavor.

I cheated and looked ahead to tomorrow's cookie, and it requires a cookie press which I don't have. I'll probably recycle another post or make something else.

John 3:31-36

31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

About Hidden Figures

• Paperback: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (December 6, 2016)

The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner.

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens. Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.

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Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Margot Lee Shetterly AP Photo by Aran Shetterly

About Margot Lee Shetterly

Margot Lee Shetterly grew up in Hampton, Virginia, where she knew many of the women in Hidden Figures. She is an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow and the recipient of a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grant for her research on women in computing. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. Find out more about Margot at her website and connect with her on Twitter.

My Review

I'm so happy that I agreed to be a part of this blog tour for Hidden Figures.  My timing in reading it is perfect as we mourn the death of an American hero, John Glenn. After all, these are the women whose mathematical expertise and computations put him in orbit.

I love how Shetterly writes.  She truly has a gift in that she's written a scholarly work that reads like a narrative because she weaves the narratives of individual women within the context of Langley's programs' history (one of my favorite sections in the book is the panicked reaction to Sputnik).  I was shocked that she has no background as a historian and this is her first book.

Shetterly grew up in Hampton, Virginia where many of the female mathematicians lived.  Her father eventually became a world-renown climate scientist after joining Langley in 1964.  Many of the female computers who began work during World War II were still there in the sixties.  One of the ladies was even Shetterley's Sunday School teacher!  Obviously her connections gave her personal anecdotes as well as access to many in the community as she conducted her research for this book.  It must have been a blessing to have grown-up in a community with so many smart and talented people.

It fascinates me that these African American women computers were patriots first in spite of living under the Jim Crow laws in the South.  Although I grew-up in Alabama and have heard about the Tuskegee Airmen for most of my life, this story about the African American female mathematicians is jarring.  The indignities these women endured just to get to work and then have to work in the West Area at Langley (their white counterparts worked in the East) is a part of history I'd never heard before. One would think that fighting an evil like the Third Reich would trump Jim Crow laws but apparently not (although the Executive Order 8802 and the establishment of the Fair Employment Committee did open a door for these brilliant American minds).  Before the war, these women could only hope to teach: Dorothy Vaughn made more than twice her high school teacher's salary at Langley.   Economics aside, they dealt with many hardships and demeaning discrimination both on the job and in the community.  I can't help but admire their spirit and appreciate their service to our country from the height of World War II through the Cold War.

Please read this book.  Your home library needs this important story from American history.

I look forward to seeing the movie during Christmas Break, and I hope I'm not disappointed.

You can see a photo of Christine Darden and Katherine Johnson HERE on Margot Lee Shetterly's blog.

Hidden Figures movie trailer


I received a copy of Hidden Figures from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Today I'm taking our oldest daughter to the doctor.  She's having terrible allergic reactions, and we need to find the cause.  If I'm not home, I'm not baking, so I'm recycling a post from several years ago. I will post my Literary Friday post late this afternoon.

Today's featured cookie is the ever popular date ball.  During Christmas, most Southern parties have the holy trinity of balls:  date, sausage, and bourbon.  We Southerners love our balls!  :/

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Southern Date Balls

1 cup sugar
1 stick butter 
1 egg, well beaten
1 cup pitted dates, finely chopped
1 cup nuts, finely chopped (I like walnuts)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups Rice Krispies
Confectioner’s sugar

Melt butter and sugar in a medium sauce pan over low heat.
Add egg and stir until thoroughly incorporated.
Add dates, nuts and vanilla and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in Rice Krispies.
When cool enough to handle, roll into bite-sized balls and roll in confectioner’s sugar.


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Perfect Pairings:

Galatians 4:1-7

4 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Until next time…

Ricki Jill