Sunday, March 11, 2018

Week in Review: Spring Break Plans

This year our school break coincides with Daylight Savings Time ... which in my mind is the non-official start to Spring. While I missed the one hour of sleep last night, I will relish the extra hour of afternoon daylight for the next several months.

Reading Progress:

I'm currently reading The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. One of the challenges for #MarchMysteryMadness is to read a historical mystery/thriller, and this book fits the category.

The story focuses on two survivors of World War II: a Jewish woman who witnessed the atrocities of the Halocaust, and a German SS soldier. As is typical of Picoult, the story unfolds with alternative viewpoints as well as alternative time periods, with flashbacks to the 1940s.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Week in Review: March Mystery Madness

March came in like a lion in the Northeast. I hope my friends in that part of the country are safe and warm. Here in the Midwest, we experienced spring-like temperature and sunny skies. I am grateful for this little tease of better weather to come.

Thursday was the official start of March Mystery Madness - a  BookTube and GoodReads reading challenge that coordinates perfectly with my recent obsession with psychological thrillers.

While I don't plan to pressure myself to complete the full challenge or to read solely books in the genre during the month of March, I do have a running list of possible books and even managed to read (almost) two this week.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sunday Salon: Snow Day Reading

FINALLY... the sun is out and the temperature is nearly 50 degrees. After a week of cloudy, icy, dreary weather, I am more than ready for Spring!

Public schools in our area were open one day this week. Monday was President's Day and Tuesday through Thursday were snow days due to freezing rain. One good thing about such nasty weather is it provides perfect reading conditions. I perched myself on the couch next to the fireplace, cozied up with my fleece blanket and a hot cup of tea, and finished two books!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday Salon: Returning to My Roots

I began My Cozy Book Nook in 2009. I joined the book blogging community with gusto - thrilled to find others as excited about literature as I am.

While a bibliophile at heart, my interests expanded over time. I wanted to blog (connect) about writing and journaling and photography. But this created a blog-identity crisis. Am I book review blog - a lifestyle blog - do I even have a niche?! Consequently, my blog posts were sporadic at best.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Word-of-the-Year 2018

I have participated in the My One Word challenge for the past five years. Words that have guided me in the preceding years include Balance - Peace - Delight - Fun - Nourish.

I typically start thinking about my new word around November 1st. This year that culminated with the final post of the 31 Day Blogging challenge where I listed daily affirmations to help combat Impostor Syndrome. The word that resonated with me at that time was - BELIEVE.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Baccala through the Mail

This post is a part of the Virtual Advent Tour. Thank you, SpriteWrites, for allowing me to once again be a part of this fantastic blogging tradition. The following is an excerpt from my newest book, Italian Family Christmas

The Feast of Seven Fishes is the traditional Christmas Eve meal of southern Italy. The religious significance of this feast is deeply rooted in Roman Catholic tradition. Each of the seven fish courses relates to the holy sacraments. A modified three-course version represents the Holy Trinity. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Totoro Family Recipes: Spinach Bread

This will be the 27th year I have prepared the Christmas Eve Vigil. My husband experienced this Italian Feast every year of his upbringing - and I was fortunate enough to take part in this time-honored tradition with Cora for about ten years. But when we moved to Kansas in 1990, Cora passed the torch to me. It is a responsibility I do not take lightly - and I am honored to continue the tradition.

My children grew up around the Christmas Eve table laden with a variety of fish dishes and Italian delicacies. Over time, we each have selected our favorites.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Totoro Family Recipes: Strufoli (Italian Honey Balls)

My husband's grandmother, Cora McKee, was from a small region about one hour east of Naples. The Feast of Seven Fishes is typically a southern Italian custom, and most of the peasant-style dishes Cora prepared for the Christmas Eve feast find their roots in Neopolitan cuisine.

Strufoli, bite-sized balls of dough fried to a golden brown and drenched in honey, is no exception.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Italian Family Christmas

I first had the idea to write Italian family Christmas in December 2016. I wanted to document our holiday traditions to leave as a legacy for my children.

The cornerstone of our celebration is Christmas Eve - when we prepare the Vigil, or The Feast of Seven Fishes. This tradition was introduced to my husband's family by his adopted grandmother, Cora McKee. It has been a part of southern Italian heritage for centuries.

The origin of the Feast is linked to the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church. Some Italian families pare the feast down to three courses, representing the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

By the time I joined the family, the tradition remained without the religious symbolism.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Totoro Family Recipes: Poor Man's Pecan Pie

I'm not sure where my mom found this recipe, perhaps in one of her many church cookbooks she collected throughout the years.

The pie got its name because it tastes like a pecan pie but uses oatmeal to replace the expensive nuts. Seeing how I was never fond of nuts to begin with (and neither were my children), this pie became an instant family favorite.

In fact, one year my son requested this pie instead of birthday cake.

For those who enjoy the taste and texture of nuts, you can easily decorate the top of the pie with pecan halves.

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