Monday, December 31, 2012

Best books I read this year

This year I read 75 books, which is quite dismal compared to my 95 book average. I think I was just quite a bit busier this year with 3 children and I also stopped working at Deseret Book which meant I wasn't reading their books as fast or as often. Looking back on the list I read this year I wasn't blown away by too many of the books. I think this years reading was lackluster and not all that great. I did re-read a couple of titles (Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Giver, Twenties Girl) because of book club and I was reminded how much I love those books! Without further ado, I feel that these books were the standouts for this 2012 reading year. 
This Steven King novel was quite good. It's extremely long (849 pages to be exact), but it reads super quick and is very entertaining. It's all about a history teacher finding a way to travel back in time to stop the JFK assassination. Along the way he creates a life for himself, a life in which  you root for. This book also has a lot of information about the time period and all the key players in the JFK story. I loved this story so much that I watched the newest Kennedy's miniseries and loved that as well. I will warn that this book is chock full of swear words. I mean, swear words on every single page, which got quite tedious after a while. If you're a fan of historical fiction and can handle the obscene amount of swear words, this book is for you. 
I LOVE Sophie Kinsella. In fact I picked one of her books for book club this last year (Twenties Girl). This was her newest one and it is probably her best yet. It's about a girl named Poppy who happens to find a cell phone and starts using it for a random reason. Turns out the phone belongs to a pretty good looking business man. The story follows their encounters and texts with each other. The story is cute, clever and leaves you satisfied. With all Kinsella books, there are swear words so proceed with caution. 
I can't say enough good things about this book. I LOVED it and think that everybody should read it! We read this one for book club and I was so excited because I had wanted to read it. It's all about this woman who wants to recognize more happiness in her life. Each month she focuses on an aspect that she feels will bring her more happiness (organization, health, finances, personal relationships, etc). There were so many things in this book that I highlighted. Some of the chapters spoke right to me while others weren't for me at all. But, this was HER happiness project, she was just giving us a peek into it. Seriously, read this book, it's amazing! 
This is another chick lit book and I loved it. Joe actually got sick of me talking about it so much. Even though it's a bit fluffy it had so much that got me thinking. Alice wakes up in the hospital missing the last 10  years from her memory. She wakes up thinking she is happily married and pregnant for the first time and in actuality she is divorced with 3 kids and hates her husband. It's her journey to see how her life changed so much and how she could get it back. The main thing I pulled from this book is how I treat my husband. Alice pretty much felt that she had to do everything herself and would never let her husband help out which made him feel unloved and unappreciated. Things deteriorated pretty quickly from there. It was a very powerful story to read and had me weeping at points. 
I really enjoyed this YA book. It's about a mother and daughter trying to live life after the husband/father dies. The mom decides to adopt a baby from a pregnant teenager. The pregnant teenager comes to live with them until the baby is born. It was interesting watching the relationships develop. Sometimes in YA novels the sentiment feels forced and shoved down the readers throat. But this one comes together quite well and I felt was very real. A great read! 

So did you read anything in 2012 that you thought was spectacular? 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tried and true

I love Christmas. I love the foods, traditions, magic seen through my children. It's just an amazing time. But it can also be stressful, especially with how much cooking and  baking needs to happen. I find this is not the best time to try new recipes. I wanted to share a quick list of tried and true recipes that I turn to at this time of the year. I will usually try a few new recipes but not on an important night, that just spells out disaster.

For dinner:
-We usually have prime rib either on Christmas or New Years. It's super easy and crazy delicious. I used Pioneer Woman's prime rib recipe last year and it was great! You can find the recipe here
- I love ham so ham is usually part of our Christmas dinner at some point. I really like the one from Mel's Kitchen Cafe in which you cook the ham in a slow cooker. So delicious! You can find the recipe here

-There is a recipe for caramel pull a parts that I use religiously and I usually make it for Christmas morning, however the recipe can only be found in the first Our Best Bites cookbook, not on their website. Suffice it to say, it's amazing and my kids gobble it up.
- I really like this baked french toast by Pioneer Woman and my kids loved it just as much. You can find the recipe here

There is usually numerous parties in which you need to bring a dish and dessert seems to be the most popular category. Here are some of my favorites:
-These candy cane cookies are amazingly delicious. My kids request these ones to be made for Santa every year. You can find the recipe here
-I tried this peppermint ice cream last year and I was so happy with the outcome. I made mine with the Andes mints and it was so good! You can find the recipe here
- Now this caramel corn isn't just for Christmas time and we tend to make this all year round but it is so good while you sit and watch Christmas movies with your family. I speak from experience. You can find the recipe here. The perk with this caramel corn recipe is that it can be made in the microwave in under 10 minutes!
-I tried these the other night for a girls night and to say they were a hit is an understatement. I had husbands requesting them! These brownie batter truffles are so easy, no bake and come together amazingly. You can find the recipe here

So do you have recipes that you get excited to pull out each year?