The Christmas Pudding Hunt with Nigella Lawson



This week I wanted to share a very cool contest Nigella Lawson is hosting at her site.


You need to sign up (it’s free) and in addition to having access to her stories and amazing recipes you can participate in the Christmas Pudding Hunt

Here is the link for the Christmas Pudding Hunt (click on the hyperlink) and here is the description from her website:

Every day from the 1st to the 24th December, we’ll give you a hint to find that day’s numbered Christmas pudding hidden on one of Nigella’s Christmas recipes. Search for the recipe that you believe the hint is linked to, and if correct, a numbered Christmas pudding will appear. Click on the pud, when signed in to your account, to add it to your collection. The last pud will be on 24th December – and if you’ve managed to find all the puds, you will be entered into a prize draw for a chance to win this fabulous hamper from Fortnum & Mason. And for five runners-up, a Nigella book of your choice, signed by Nigella.

So that’s a pretty cool prize – a hamper from Fortnum and Mason or a book of Nigella’s!

I have long been a fan of hers and have cooked through most of her cookbook Nigella Express. On my foodie website, Squirrel Head Manor, I have a link for the recipes from her books.

Join in if you’d like, they are only on day two but you can still find that Christmas Pudding image on the days you have missed. The bonus is, you will find some mighty good recipes from this English bombshell of a cook.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday


The 2017 British Book Challenge

Now that December has arrived I am seeing posts for book challenges in 2017. While I always sign up for one on Goodreads I usually try and restrain myself from too many challenges elsewhere.

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Now, one exception is the British Book Challenge which is currently being hosted by Kristy at The Overflowing Library.

This upcoming year the BBC will be hosted by Chelle at Tales of Yesterday. The signup page is HERE so please check it out if you’d like to join in.  Guidelines for submitting are found at Chelle’s site and you can get some good ideas for British authors you weren’t familiar with.

I know my list of authors will include Peter Robinson, Daphne Du Maurier and M.C. Beaton and I hope to discover new authors when others link up.

Join in!  The more the merrier!


The Girl in the Castle: Ireland, civil war, ghosts and drama!

girlcastle This is the third book I have read by Santa Montefiore and I can flat out state it won’t be the last. I very much enjoyed The Beekeeper’s Daughter as well as Secrets of the Lighthouse.

Now this book, The Girl in the Castle, captured me immediately. If you like stories set in Ireland, reading a bit of the historical fiction interspersed about the Irish War for Independence and a bit of ghost appearances to boot – you will love this book.

I’m not big on paranormal stories  but the ghost part wasn’t a primary feature.  They did figure in but as a supporting role, and a very light supporting role at that.  Early on I was invested in the progressing life story lines of the Deverill family, Jack O’Leary and the Doyles.

The story starts with Kitty Deverill and Bridie Doyle as 9 year old girls.  Kitty lives a privileged life in the castle and Bridie is the daughter of one of the cooks.  This doesn’t stop them from forming a deep friendship and feeling like they are sisters.  Two different worlds these girls inhabit but Kitty is as Irish as any Doyle or O’Leary.  Kitty’s mother Maude is English and so the family is called Anglo Irish – this sets them apart during the Irish uprising.   There is enough action, a bit of romance and lovely descriptions of West Cork, Ireland to get lost in.

Be warned, this is the exact same book as The Songs of Love in War so don’t purchase both!  The Girl in the Castle is the title released in the USA and Songs of Love and War is the British title.  It’s the same book.

The second book is called The Daughters of Castle Deverill.  I am certainly getting that one on Kindle.  There is a bit of food mentioned in the book and I admit to grabbing a recipe from the cookbook London to pair with this novel. The recipe may be found HERE. I spent some time reading and eating.  That’s a nice thing to do.


Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday and Kristy at The Overflowing Library for the British Books Challenge.  The link for November is HERE.

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Readers’ Workout – Thanksgiving Approaches fast!

I had a stellar week as far as walking.  I’m actually proud of myself. Over 100,000 steps accomplished in one week.  Lots and lots of walking, as well as some work cleaning up the house.  Now that burns some calories.


I am fairly determined to get through Thanksgiving without too much extra weight.  It’s all about moderation.  Now, if I could curb that desire for a bourbon and splitting a KitKat bar with my husband in the evenings…..weight loss would go quite a bit faster – LOL

How was your exercise week?  Do you have plans to stay on track with the holiday approaching and if so, how do you handle that? All suggestions are gratefully accepted.

Check out Readers’ Workout at Joy’s Book Blog!


London, a cookbook for British Isles Friday


This isn’t just a cookbook, it’s a travelogue you’ll want to read from cover to cover.  There are quite a few recipes that call for ingredients that aren’t typical pantry staples and some that are a touch exotic, but there are enough good recipes that a seasoned cook could handle.

I went with a few of the soup recipes because it’s that time of year when I desire the tempting aromas of soup to fill the kitchen.  Soup is a true comfort food, don’t you think?

The recipes come with detailed descriptions about the chefs and the upscale restaurants where they are featured.  This blurb from the beginning of the book explains it better than I can….


The cocktail section is beautifully photographed but I am pretty much a Gin and Tonic or a bourbon drinker so I wouldn’t attempt these alcoholic masterpieces.


The book is dived by food categories such as starters, cocktails, meat, fowl, seafood and vegetarian.  The dessert section will have you planning a trip to a bakery.  Drool worthy.

The author, Aleksandra Crapanzano, is a food writer and accomplished cook.  If you’d like to take a virtual foodie tour around London and read about the finest restaurants and dishes, you’ll love curling up with this book.

Here is the soup I made.  Recipe is easy….


Pea, Potato and Bean Soup


9 ounces of chopped potatoes

Canned great Northern beans

A bay leaf

1 cup of peas

2 cups vegetable broth


1 clove of chopped garlic

½ cup parmesan

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


If you are using dry beans you’ll need to follow the overnight soaking rules.  I chose to use canned beans so I could get this recipe going and have some to take for lunch.

Sautee the potato chunks in oil. Now add the rest of the ingredients except the Parmesan cheese and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer.  After an hour it may be tender enough and tasty enough to enjoy a bowl.  But it will be even better the next day.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday ,  Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking and Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series. The linkup for this week may be found HERE

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World Atlas of Tea by Krisi Smith



tea3 If you are a tea aficionado this book, The World Atlas of Tea, is meant to be on your coffee table. It’s a large sized book with excellent binding, fantastic photographs and more information about tea than you may ever want to know. This must be the most comprehensive atlas about a beverage I’ve ever seen.

It’s broken up into four parts: Tea Basics, which addresses the plants, the grades and varieties and harvesting. Brewing and Drinking, this is self-explanatory, Blending, which is mixology and well…..blending.

The final section is called The World of Tea and this takes up the other half of the book. The tea growing areas of the world have their own chapters here and feature Africa, The Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, Far East and South America.


A+ to the photography, it’s well documented mot only in verbiage but the photos are great.


I will admit it’s more than I ever wanted to know about tea and I won’t read the entire book. Again, if you are a big fan of tea and want to know the history of how it’s grown in specific areas of the world, you won’t be disappointed in this book.

I’m pleased to say I won this book through Goodreads – all opinions are my own.

The Last Town: Book 3 i the Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake Crouch

lasttown The Last Town is the wrap up of the Wayward Pines Trilogy. So….if you have not read Pines and Wayward then you’ll need to skip this book for now and get caught up. I can’t talk about this book without revealing major spoilers for the previous books. Warning: SPOILER ALERT Below!

Are you still reading?….I am about to talk about the plot so you’ve been warned.

The majority of residents in Wayward Pines will die, most horrifically, before the end of this book. The end of book 2 let us with a big cliff hanger. Sheriff Ethan Burke took a gamble and told the residents the truth. They were in suspended animation for over 1,800 years and all they knew about a previous life is gone. David Pilcher, a self-proclaimed god, turned off the electric fences leaving the residents at the mercy of the abbies. The Last Town picks up exactly where Wayward left off. It could have been a fatter book but the cliff hanger at the end of book 2 was great.

Everyone is scrabbling to escape the abbies, hide from them before being eviscerated as well as dealing with that bombshell Ethan dropped on them. Obviously not everyone escapes the slaughter and the frantic efforts to get into caves and hide have you on the edge of your seat.

Side story – There is mention of a man named Tobias who is outside the fence, sent years ago to explore what remains of the United States. He clings to the memory of a woman whom he loved devoutly and that’s what keeps him going. He discovers the fate of mankind and heads back to Wayward Pines with the news. He’s half starved, he’s filthy and was never expected to return. Basically a suicide mission that Pilcher sent him on. The woman he loves is Theresa Burke and when you discover who he is, well…..I’m not sure what I thought about his survival. Did I want him dead or did I want him to succeed? You’ll now when you read it why I was on the fence.

The end of this book was not what I expected but Crouch does leave it open to write a 4th book. He published this book in 2014 so maybe he’s moved on to other books but I would certainly read a 4th book. The last sentence is a cliff hanger!

Readers Workout – Woo-Hoo, I’m losing weight :-)

I had a great week of exercise. maybe the best I’ve had in ages with 91,216 steps
and just over 37 miles of walking. At present I have lost 8 pounds (my husband has lost 12 pounds)and I am feeling better than ever.  We have walked every single morning and have been fortunate enough not to have been rained upon.


Some of it is dietary as I’ve been eating well and avoiding sweets. We have been eating good meals such as Black Bean, Zucchini and Mushroom Enchiladas  and Sweet Potato and Spinach Fritatta to name a few good recipes.

Well...let me say that I caved in on a Chick Filet milkshake and I was sorry later. It wasn’t the taste, it was all the dairy product and sugar that my body isn’t used to anymore. Hours later I felt bloated and a little yucky.  Was I sorry – yes and no. I deserve a treat but I will know in the future it better be a more natural treat.

Hopefully I will get back to blogging as I have enjoyed it in the past but got into a rut regarding the computer.  This helps me track my goals.

How was your exercise week?

Check out Readers’ Workout at Joy’s Book Blog!


Pines and Wayward: Books 1 and 2 in the Wayward Pines Trilogy.

I started reading the Wayward Pines trilogy during our vacation and have since completed book 1 and 2. Book 1 is titled Pines and book 2 is called Wayward.

The reviews of these books are mixed with some loving the series and others ripping it apart. Fact – it’s not brilliant writing but it is entertaining. I’m never sure if something like this is classified as Sci-Fi or Fantasy. It’s definitely a mystery – my favorite. Either way, I enjoyed the first two books and am eager to tuck back into the third one this week.pines

Basically people living in Wayward Pines have the perfect Stepford life quality with clean Victorian houses, kids playing outside instead of staring at iPhones or video games and neighbors knowing one another. That’s a blast from the past. I grew up knowing our neighbors and playing ball, hopscotch, riding bikes and so on. None of this staring at a screen half the day like people, kids and adults, do now. But there is something sinister underlying this “perfect” life.

One of our main characters is Ethan Burke, a Federal Agent with the secret service. He awakens in Wayward Pines with no recollection of an accident he’d been in. His wallet, credentials and cell phone are missing. He finally remembers he was headed to Wayward Pines to investigate the disappearance of two other federal agents, one of which he’d previously had an affair. Obviously he is after answers and tries to leave Wayward Pines but is kept there against his will.


I can’t get into the reason why because it will spoil the twist near the end of book 1. I can say, it wasn’t what I was expecting and it kept me reading.
Wayward picks up exactly where book one left off.  It could have been combined to be a fatter book and tell the entire story.

Some residents know the truth but  for the majority of the residents, the horror of their town is revealed.

I’m a third of the way through the last book, The Last Town, and plan to knock it out this week.

Would I read more by Blake Crouch?  Absolutely!

Readers Workout – exercise update

This past week we were on vacation. Our plans to go to Cedar Key had been canceled as the damage from Hurricane Hermine hit them hard. No matter, we had a good time eating, drinking, reading and riding.

My goal to hit over 10,000 a day was sabotaged by a powerful allergy attack. Between the goldenrod and cut grass in our area I was hit hard. So those days I didn’t get much walking in.

On a positive note I did get quite a bit of walking in the other days. And best of all, even being on vacation, I weighed in and have lost 7 pounds. Yea!

The eating plan has been going well and with mostly vegetarian fare my husband and I are both seeing weight loss. This is the last week of October and the plan is to continue walking about 4 miles in the morning before work. I’ll set some good goals for November – can you believe it’s almost here?

How was your exercise week?

Check out Readers’ Workout at Joy’s Book Blog!