The Best of 2013 List…

In Descending Order (links to the reviews included):
  1. Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir by Beth Kephart
  2. The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan
  3. Imperfect Spiral by Debbie Levy
  4. Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman
  5. The Time Between by Karen White
  6. Survival Skills: Stories by Jean Ryan
  7. Unexplained Fevers by Jeannine Hall Gailey
  8. Lotería by Mario Alberto Zambrano
  9. Solving the World’s Problems by Robert Lee Brewer
  10. The Scabbard of Her Throat by Bernadette Geyer
  11. The Neruda Case by Roberto Ampuero, translated by Carolina De Robertis
  12. Six Sisters’ Stuff: Family Recipes, Fun Crafts, and So Much More
Here are my honorable mentions for this year, in descending order (links to the reviews included):
  1. The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein
  2. Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent by Beth Kephart
  3. Joyland by Stephen King
  4. Seduction by M.J. Rose
  5. Black Aperture by Matt Rasmussen
What books made your list of favorites this year?

Six Sisters’ Stuff: Family Recipes, Fun Crafts, and Much More & 4×4 Dinner Giveaway/Challenge

Six Sisters’ Stuff:  Family Recipes, Fun Crafts, and So Much More! is a flexible paperback cookbook that not only includes gorgeous photos of entrees, appetizers, and desserts, but also a variety of crafts to keep your kids occupied and to dress up the table.  Camille, Kristen, Elyse, Stephanie, Lauren, and Kendra are biological sisters and know what it means to have a busy life, but they still make time for family dinners and this book includes 100 easy-to-follow recipes using ingredients commonly found in your pantry.

The full-color photos in this cookbook will make your mouth water even if you’ve just eaten dinner.  From the main meals to the slow cooker meals, these women have made cooking for a family incredibly easy and simple with these recipes.  There are salads, sides, and breads, plus dessert — oh, the dessert.  (I made one for book club, see photos and reaction below)  But this book is not only about the food and having family meals together, but it also is about spending time with family whether it’s on a road trip or inside on a rainy day (I’ll be testing these out in the coming weeks).

There are projects ranging from creating simple decorations like a snowman out of blocks and felt bows to more complex projects like bookshelves made out of pallets.  These projects are sure to occupy family members and make the house look more beautiful.  The sisters also offer advice on spring cleaning, which may seem like common sense but for a first time homeowner with a new kid the task can be overwhelming.  There also are healthy snack ideas, fun date ideas to keep the romance alive, and a weekly breakdown on how to build a 72-hour emergency kit for the entire family.

Six Sisters’ Stuff:  Family Recipes, Fun Crafts, and So Much More! is appealing to look at, create from, and learn.  It’s not only about cooking a healthy meal in a short amount of time with the ingredients on hand, but it’s also focused on ensuring that family time becomes a priority.  Readers will have no choice but to dig in and start creating.  Delicious family recipes ready to fill watering mouths and simple crafts to spruce up any busy home.

My baking experience with Mom’s Chocolate Marshmallow Brownies:

As is usual with me, I was pulled in a hundred different directions and had to improvise the recipe, though I do plan to make this recipe the way it is written at some point.  I wanted to make these for book club in February, but with little time, I turned to my favorite box brownie mix, Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie mix, which never fails me.  And I quickly found the brownie pan I chose would require me to use 2 boxes, which met the hubby had to run out and get a second box.

But then I made the Chocolate frosting from the recipe for on top of the marshmallows.  The recipe called for 2-3 cups of powdered sugar, but I found out quickly that 2 cups was too little because the frosting was soupy, so I had to make it 3 cups for the right consistency.  Once I got the frosting made, i spread it on top of the marshmallows (which I really didn’t need the whole bag of).

The pan must have still been a bit warm because the frosting melted a little too much over the marshmallows, making it an even gooier mess than I expected, but it didn’t seem to matter to the book club members who were eager to try it.  I just had to have the first piece, and one of the corners, since those are my favorite!  I took a close up of one piece to share with everyone.  YUM!

Six Sisters photoAbout the Six Sisters:

In February 2011, we started our blog SixSistersStuff.com. After years of living close to one another, we were being pulled in many different directions- one sister moved to the West coast, another sister followed her husband to medical school, one moved away to college, and another sister had just lost a baby. We needed each other now more than ever and we used our blog as a way to stay in touch.

Before we started blogging, we were constantly calling each other for recipe ideas, craft projects, and ways to keep our children entertained during those long winter days. The blog was the perfect way for us to share those ideas with each other and we were having so much fun doing it. We are all busy, whether it’s with our kids, jobs, school, husbands, community involvement, or something else eating up our time, so all the recipes and projects you will find on this blog are quick and easy! Our recipes are family favorites that use ingredients that can commonly be found in your pantry and our crafts and home decor projects can be made with little or no money. We don’t claim to be amazing chefs- we just know the importance of feeding your family a home-cooked meal and sitting down to eat it together.


This is my 12th book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.



About the 4×4 Dinner Challenge:

4X4 dinner challenge

  • Pledging to accept the 4×4 Dinner Challenge means the family will eat together at least four times per week for four weeks.
  • Families are encouraged to register online, and they will receive meal tips, ideas for family activities, and helpful recipes to make meeting the challenge easy.

To win a copy of this colorful cook book, do the following:

  1. Like the Six Sister’s STUFF Facebook page and join the 4×4 Dinner Challenge
  2. Click the 4×4 Family dinner banner on the Website (on the right sidebar) and leave a comment joining the challenge.
  3. Come back here and leave a comment on this post about what you’d like to check out in Six Sisters’ Stuff.

Deadline to enter is March 10, 2013, at 11:59 PM EST.

Mailbox Monday #213

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Unabridged Chick.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received:

1.  Beyond Belief:  My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill and Lisa Pulitzer, which came unexpectedly from William Morrow.

Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org—the church’s highest ministry, speaks of her “disconnection” from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.

In this tell-all memoir, complete with family photographs from her time in the Church, Jenna Miscavige Hill, a prominent critic of Scientology who now helps others leave the organization, offers an insider’s profile of the beliefs, rituals, and secrets of the religion that has captured the fascination of millions, including some of Hollywood’s brightest stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

2.  Life After Life by Kate Atkinson from Hachette Books unexpectedly.

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can — will she?

3.  Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ and Shakin by Lisa Loeb for review in April.

This spectacularly fun songbook will get kids off the sofa—guaranteed!

Singer Lisa Loeb will have kids movin’ and groovin’ with her sparkling second collection of songs, activities, and recipes—plus a CD with five all-time children’s favorites and another five original tunes. It’s sure to stir up some fun, as budding musicians discover the joys of playing in an air band (“Turn it Down”); see how to face down scary creatures (“Monster Stomp”); and practice relaxing yoga poses (“Hello, Today”). Ryan O’Rourke’s whimsical illustrations light up Lisa’s lyrics—and will delight young readers, movers, and shakers.

Songs include:
Turn it Down (The Air Band Song)* •  Father Abraham  •  Miss Mary Mack • Monster Stomp*  • Going Away* •  Do Your Ears Hang Low? •  Everybody Wake Up* • Hello, Today* •  Peanut Butter and Jelly  •  Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.
(*original song)

4.  Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel, which came unexpectedly from BookTrib.

On the last ordinary day of her life, Abby Bennett feels like the luckiest woman alive. But everyone knows that luck doesn’t last forever…As her husband, Nick, and daughter, Lindsey, embark on a weekend camping trip to the Texas Hill Country, Abby looks forward to having some quiet time to herself. She braids Lindsey’s hair, reminds Nick to drive safely and kisses them both goodbye. For a brief moment, Abby thinks she has it all—a perfect marriage, a perfect life—until a devastating storm rips through the region, and her family vanishes without a trace.

When Nick and Lindsey are presumed dead, lost in the raging waters, Abby refuses to give up hope. Consumed by grief and clinging to her belief that her family is still alive, she sets out to find them. But as disturbing clues begin to surface, Abby realizes that the truth may be far more sinister than she imagined. Soon she finds herself caught in a current of lies that threaten to unhinge her and challenge everything she once believed about her marriage and family.

With a voice that resonates with stunning clarity, Barbara Taylor Sissel delivers a taut and chilling mystery about a mother’s love, a wife’s obsession and the invisible fractures that can shatter a family.

5.  The Best of Punk Magazine by John Holmstrom from the publisher for review.

The very best of Punk—the legendary magazine that defined an era—finds new life in this stunning anthology, featuring original articles along with behind-the-scenes commentary and the backstory on each issue as told by editor-in-chief John Holmstrom. Punk was the Bible of the urban counterculture movement. It not only gave punk music its name, but influenced the East Village art scene and steered the punk aesthetic and attitude. The Best of Punk Magazine includes high-quality reprints of hard-to-find original issues, as well as rare and unseen photos,essays, interviews, and even handwritten contributions from the likes of Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Lester Bangs,Legs McNeil, Lenny Kaye, and many more. For collectors, lifelong punks, and those just discovering what punk is all about, this is the chance see the history of the movement come back to life.

6.  Six Sisters’ Stuff:  Family Recipes, Fun Crafts, and So Much More for review.

Cook, craft, and create with recipes, projects, and ideas from the enormously popular blog SixSistersStuff.com. Every recipe and project included in this book is quick, easy, and fun. More than 100 family-favorite recipes (including an entire section of slow-cooker recipes), use ingredients commonly found in your pantry. The crafts and home décor projects have easy-to-follow instructions with photographs and can be made with little or no money. We don t profess to be amazing chefs, they claim. We just know the importance of feeding our families a home-cooked meal and sitting down to eat it together. Our mom and dad taught us so many great values, and we are thankful that they instilled the importance of family time in our lives. Even the busiest of people can make the food and project ideas we share, which will give you even more time to spend with your family and loved ones. SixSistersStuff.com is an online phenomenon. More than 5 million page views per month More than 50,000 Facebook followers Nearly 10,000 followers on Twitter More than 80,000 followers on Pinterest.

What did you receive?