Booksipper Bulletin – March Edition

Hello Booksippers!

Spring has arrived in my corner of the world!  March is just beautiful with its colorful budding trees and green growth.  It makes me want to take a book outside and read after being inside all winter.
I have done just that numerous times with my favorite novel for the month.  It will be linked in the Readable News section.

New to the blog is my Instagram account!  You can now follow me through pictures at the handle:  @booksippercandice

Here is what you might have missed in March.

A Cup of Tea SharedIs Happiness Tasted and Time Well Spent

~ In Readable News ~

The must read fiction title for the month is Dragonfly in Amber.  This is the followup to Outlander and will have you staying up past your bedtime to read one more chapter!  Here is my sum up: http://bit.ly/1qksHsU

I am on book three of my annual book list of nonfiction books. This month I read The Year of Yes.  What did I think?  Click to read the review: http://bit.ly/1ntnH3h

 

 ~ In Sippable News ~

Many cups of tea were drank or is it drunk this month. Not enough of them were documented, maybe because they were needed for survival and not aesthetic purposes? I did share a Tea Time Treat that pairs well with your favorite tea here: http://bit.ly/1LsosFj

 

Thanks for reading and sipping along with me in March!
~Booksipper Candice

 

Book Review: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Dragonfly in Amber is the follow up book to Outlander.  I wrote all about that amazing book here.

Very few authors can write sequels that are as good as the first book in a series.  But Diana Gabaldon has proven that theory wrong!  Not only is the second book equally as good as the first, but all 8 books are Stop What You Are Doing and Read worthy!  I like that each of the books have an interesting and stand alone title.  However, I do find myself referring to them as the second/third book in the Outlander series.

I will do my very best to not leak any spoilers for those who love to discover a book for themselves, but when summing up a book some things are bound to get out there.  Oh, and I may abbreviate Dragonfly in Amber as DIA….just a heads up.  Here we go!

Gabaldon-Dragonfly-in-Amber-220x332
At the end of Outlander, we had Jamie and Claire en route to France both out of necessity and as a place to heal Jamie from the trauma that occurred at Wentworth.   You'd think that is where DIA would pick up- and it does Eventually.  
This threw me at first, but just start reading- it will all make sense in good time.

Dragonfly in Amber begins in 1968, with Claire bringing her daughter to Scotland. Claire plans to tell Brianna who her father is and about her experiences at Craigh Na Dune.
During this revealing, the story takes the reader back to France in 1744, right where Outlander left us.

Paris, France is worlds away from life in the Scottish Highlands. The dress, housing, customs, everything; is different for Jamie an Claire. Because of Claire's knowledge of upcoming historical events, they decided to try to alter the course of history by playing a high stakes political game.
Politics is a risky business and things do not always go as planned.Circumstances and events will threaten to tear apart their relationship and they must find a way back to each other. 
Realizing that they cannot change what is to come they return home to Scotland. Only to find that the upcoming battle of Colloden will shadow their future forever.  A heartbreaking choice must be made. This author knows how to write a heart pounding and consuming novel! 

After recounting all of the story to Brianna, Claire may or may not find peace with her past. 

* Dragonfly in Amber is a must read before you watch.  I am looking forward to the second season of Outlander that is airing on Starz in April.  They have done a good job of sticking to the plot of the story and maintaining integrity to this well loved book. I hope they continue to do that with Dragonfly in Amber. *

 

 

Spring Cleaning Bookshelves

Spring Cleaning is both a dreaded and anticipated ritual. A necessary evil in times past, more of a seasonal resetting for we modern folk.  I may not scrubbing kerosene and soot from my rooms but there may be a layers of dust and a few cobwebs.

Today I share how this Booksipper spring cleans Bookshelves.

Spring Cleaning copy 4

I have broken down this big task into four easy steps.  We will rinse and repeat for each bookshelf. Here we go!

Step 1: Good Music and Supply Gathering

Upbeat music can turn any task into an enjoyable one.  Well, maybe not enjoyable but at least bearable.  I love Disney soundtracks; they are cheerful, upbeat, and have catchy lyrics. What more could you ask for?  But any type of music that you enjoy is good for this step.

The music is playing, now gather up some cleaning supplies.

You will need something to brush away the dust, paper towels/rags and a cleaner to wipe the shelves with.  Choose the best cleanser for your type of bookshelf.  A wooden bookshelf will need a different cleanser than a plastic/veneer one.
I like to make my own ahead of time with vinegar and essential oils or I use: Seventh Generation Free and Clear All Purpose Cleaner when I am short on time.

 

 Step 2: Just Start

Pull everything off of the book shelf and stack it all on the floor or a table, whatever is nearby.  Using your choice of cleanser, wipe off all that dusty grime.
While the shelves dry from that good scrubbing, dust off the books, picture frames, knick-knacks that are in your piles. 

Do Not Put Anything Back on the Shelf yet!


Step 3: The Sort

Before any item goes back on the shelf it is time to make it pass these questions.

~Do I Love/Really Like this book/item?
~Will I ever re-read this book?

If the answers are Yes, it is going back on the shelf. 
If the answers are hesitant or a kinda, put it in its own separate pile that is walking distance from the work in progress.
If your answer is not really or No, it goes into a sell or donate pile.  ( We will talk about these options later )

Proceed with all the items that you have for your shelf.

Good job!  This is the most difficult step of Spring Cleaning a Bookshelf!


Step 4: Reshelving & Decorating

Probably the most fun of all the steps!

Arrange and rearrange until your hearts content on your squeaky clean shelves that are cobweb free.
Stack some books vertically, held up by knick-knacks or book ends. Lay books horizontal with a photo frame on top or nearby.  Arrange by color or author. Any way you please.

Need inspiration ~ Check out my Bookcases and Reading Spaces Pinterest Board.

 

 You've worked hard. Pour yourself a favorite beverage to sip, put up your feet and enjoy your beautiful shelves!

 

 

Saint Patricks Day Tea Time Treat: Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread

Top o'the morning to you!

My corner of the world is turning green just in time for Saint Patrick's Day. I am not Irish but I do enjoy a reason to whip up a tasty tea time treat for a special occasion!

To celebrate Saint Patrick's Day I will be sharing my twist on Irish Soda Bread.
In my humble non-Irish opinion, Irish Soda Bread is similar in taste to scones but is shaped into a round loaf. Traditional Irish Soda Bread is known for its caraway seeds which add a distinct flavor. Raisins are also a popular mix in.

I knew the caraway flavor and the chewy raisins would not go over with my crowd. There was also the gluten issue that needed to be addressed.  My son is gluten free by necessity and I have a dancing daughter who prefers to be gluten free. Which brings us to my twist on this traditional Irish bread.

GFsodabread

 What is this twist?

First, I used a gluten free flour. My recommendation for this recipe is Bob's Red Mill Baking Flour, Gluten Free. All gluten free flour mixtures have a different texture and sometimes taste. GF Bobs Red Mill is mellow in flavor and is similar to all purpose flour in texture.
The other twist I made was to use chocolate chips in place of the raisins. Because what child or child at heart does not appreciate a bit of chocolate now and then.

Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread with a twist

3 1/2 cups Bobs Red Mill Gluten Free Flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthum gum

2 eggs ( room temperature )
2 cups Sour Cream

1/2 cup chocolate chips ( more if desired )

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients and mix gently.
In a small bowl crack the eggs and whisk with a fork. 
Pour whisked egg and sour cream into dry mixture bowl.  Stir until well mixed.
Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into a spring form pan or if in a pinch a bunt pan works fine; you will just have a hole in the middle.

Bake 35-45 minutes. **

** GF baking note: A toothpick will come out clean around the 35 minute mark. I have found with GF baking that if you bake a bit longer than the "toothpick" time, you can avoid the gummy middle that sometimes happens. **

Now we have our treat but what tea will we pair with our soda bread?

Paired
In honor of this Irish holiday sip a cuppa Irish Breakfast tea!
This strong and robust black tea goes perfectly with the simple flavor of this recipe.

Teatimetreat

 Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

The Ides of March

Did you read Julius Caesar in high school?
Nerd confession- I liked Shakespeare.  Not enough to read it in my spare time for entertainment but enough that I can appreciate Shakespeare's sonnets and his well known plays.

There are many quotes and phrases that we use that come from his works. But that is another post for another time.

Today is March 15 AKA the Ides of March.

The day Julius Caesar was murdered.

Idesmeme
I remember sitting in high school English class reading Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar, and after the "et tu brute" jotting down March 15th in a notebook.  I told you I was a book nerd.

Today's book review is not by Shakespeare. There may be a collective breath by many. 

The book I recommend for the Ides of March is The Memoirs of Cleopatra.

I read this book for the first time when I was 18. It was and still is one of the longest books I have read. It has a whopping 976 pages. 
Do not be intimidated. The writing style and the first person account will pull you in and keep you on the edge of your seat.

This epic read is ideal for fiction fans who want a book with a basis in historical fact.
The fictional recounting is told in Cleopatra's own voice. It begins with her first memories and her rise to the throne.

Cleopatra
Enter in the Romans led by the great conqueror Julius Caesar. A whirlwind romance binds Cleopatra and him together until tragedy strikes him on the Ides of March.  ( Cleopatra is in Rome when this occurs….I am unsure if this is historically accurate, but it made for a great story!)

Picking up the pieces she returns to Egypt.
Political alliances bring her together with Marc Antony, another Roman and friend of Caesars.
Another romantic involvement, she really has a thing for Romans and I am not the only one who thinks so. This snippet from the book confirms it:

Linefrombook

Love does not conquer all in this case.
Rome soon invades and captures Egypt and rather than be paraded as a captive through the streets, Cleopatra plots her own demise, by snakebite. A fitting end for a Pharaoh whose royal emblems include a snake.

I was completely drawn into this book. It is full of descriptive writing that will make you feel as if you are there. Obviously there is no written record of Cleopatra's conversations with her trusted servants, Julius Caesar or any other person; but this fictional retelling is believable and gives a humanized side to this great queen of history.

Favorite lines from this book. There were many but I paired it down to these:

~What is one person's diversion may be another's supreme test. (ch. 5)

~Inanimate objects seem to soak up the essence of living things, and later cause pain or pleasure when we merely look at them. (ch. 16)

~Dreams without details cannot come true. ( ch. 72 )

I highly recommend this lengthy book and look to read the other titles by this author in the future.

 

 

 

Book Review: The Year of Yes

The cover of this book looked happy and seemed to say- "Yes, you should read me!"
I am glad that I did.


YearofYEs

Not just because I am a fan of Grey's Anatomy- since forever.  You may be saying to yourself- "Wait, what does this book have to do with a TV show?"
Well if the Dance It Out, reference on the cover didn't give it away the I should tell you that the author of this book, Shonda Rhimes is the creator of Grey's Anatomy.

I am glad that I read this book because I think Shonda and I could be friends.  Real friends not just FB friends.

There comes a time when we all need to do the thing(s) that frighten us, that put us on edge. These are the things that will grow us.
Shonda Rhimes does that and lives to tell about it, in a humorous way.
In this book, the author shares the startling moment when she realized she was going through the motions of living; not really living at all. She then decides to do something about it. She starts saying Yes to life.

I enjoyed her autobiography focusing on her year of yes. I found the conversations she has with herself, totally amusing and relatable. It was  comforting to know that there are other introverts who would rather be alone with their thoughts than out at a massive party. 
I liked the tone throughout the book. It is the tone of a friend telling a friend whats been happening in their life.

  DSC00627

Take aways from Year of Yes:

~ "Nothing works until you are ready for it to work."

~ "Its not bragging if you can back it up." – Muhammad Ali

~ You have to read it to get the full effect, but her thoughts on motherhood being called a "job".  She says its not! 
– chapter 6…..Well Said, Shonda!

I am glad that I said Yes to this book.  It was an inspiring and fun autobiography by a super talented woman.
Lets all start living our Year of Yes.

The Essential Seuss Book List

Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr Seuss wrote and illustrated over 40 books in his lifetime. That total does not include the books written by other authors and  published by his company Beginner Books.  I have read a lot of Dr Seuss books- I grew up reading them, my children cut their reading teeth on a Seuss library. We have a family tradition centered around one title. 

We love our Seuss! 
This book list contains the Dr Seuss books that we pull off the shelves every 2nd of March. 

Essential Seuss List

 

A Dr Seuss reading list could not be complete without this classic.  Written using only 225 words and simple 3 color illustrations. This story with its simple plot of rainy day boredom and mother being out, still engages children's imagination today.

 

One of my favorites!  Simple one word rhymes start out the story and gradually grow into four sentence blocks. A bit more colorful than the Cat in the Hat and a good book for beginner readers to recognize word families.

 

The Seuss book of opposites. This is title where beginner readers start picking up speed.  Single word opposites and simple sentences all about feet. This was a favorite with my son when he was learning to read- maybe because at one point it was memorized!

 

The book where we start seeing the number sight words. Counting words and longer sentences add enough challenge for the growing reader.  Full of rhyming fun and made up Seuss words, this book keeps the pages turning.

 

The book that encourages children to try new things, even food, because they may like it! With its easy repetitive sentences and rhyming endings this title delights over and over. Plus you can fix your own Green Eggs and Ham.

I was going to stop at five, but I can't leave out-

 

This was one of my childhood favorites.  It is an amusing book of tricky tongue twisters.  It is still considered a beginner book, but it can be painfully long if the child does not have a good grasp of reading. This book is a good choice for an older sibling to read or for you to read aloud. The perfect title to keep Seuss fun going strong.

Which Dr Seuss books are your favorites?

 

 

Celebrating Dr Seuss Day

I am drawn to the quirky and unusual, the things that bring newness to the ordinary.  Maybe that is why celebrating Dr Seuss day has been one of my favorite days for almost twenty years now.

The first person who celebrated this day with me was my to be husband.  We had been dating for just over a month and I invited him over for breakfast. It would be the first time I cooked for him. We can't remember if I told him what the menu was but we do know he was informed that it was Dr Seuss day. Placed along side the bowl of fruit was none other than a heaping serving of Green Eggs and Ham.

He did not jump up and say "I like Green Eggs and Ham," he may have even made a face like this:
Greeneggface
…but it made for a lasting impression for what would become a tradition in our home.
My children have never known a year when we did not pay homage to the man whose beginner books started them on the path of reading.

Celebrate copy 2

The festivities begin with dramatic readings from our favorite Seuss collection. I will be sharing an Essential Seuss List that I think should be in every childs library, tomorrow. The only book off limits is Green Eggs and Ham, which receives special attention come meal time.

What is served on Dr Seuss Day? 

Greeneggs&ham

Green Eggs and Ham!

This is one of the easiest and fun meals you will make all year! 

Whip up some green eggs.  I have prepared these two different ways:

Option 1- scramble your eggs, while in the pan add a couple drops of green food coloring. Stir and cook. Easy!

Option 2- crack eggs into a blender, add in a handful of spinach and blend it up.  Repeat spinach step until you get the green shade you are looking for. Pour into pan and cook.  Again, easy & it's a way to get spinach into a kid!

Then take sliced deli ham and roll it up and stick a toothpick in it.  Extra fun points if you print out a cute Dr Seuss inspired printable for the top.

Toppers

While the special meal is served or sometimes after the meal is finished; the reading of Green Eggs and Ham begins. The up and coming new reader would get the honor of reading aloud to everyone.  When the learning to read stage was over, it became a whose year is it to read kind of event.

Something we all still look forward to.

Dr Seuss Day is a tradition that brings together the love of books and fun food, both of which can be enjoyed by kids of all ages!