Sunday, September 28, 2014

Must Love Breeches

Heroine: Isabelle Rochon
Hero: Phineas, aka Lord Montagu

First off, this is a time travel romance novel.  The heroine travels back to 1834.  She's in London.  I have to address the epilogue before I get into my thoughts of the book.  I hated the epilogue; well, mainly the last three paragraphs.  Here's the quote that riled me up: "And in 1973 she would travel back and start her life here."  'She' is the heroine Isabelle Rochon.  The same heroine that had a cell phone capable of taking photographs.  There weren't cell phones in 1973 [also her contact lenses were advanced for 1973].  This is somewhat reconciled by the subsequent line: "Whether she'd shifted the timeline in subtle ways or not, she'd never know."  So apparently she altered the world she lived in; smart phones were invented twenty to thirty years later in the real world.  Since she knew about cell phones, her life was on some sort of loop where the phones and the internet were always available in the year 1973.  The throwaway line at the end of the book stating Isabelle travelled back in time in the year 1973 ruined the epilogue for me.  If there was some hint at the beginning of the book that the year was 1973 and Isabelle had a cell phone, that would have been an awesome foreshadowing moment.  But tossing it in at the end of the book makes it seem like an afterthought, like "hey, let's say she went back in time before cell phones existed, so the reader knows her time jump really affected the world."

I have other issues with the time travel aspects of the book.  Isabelle searches for a way to return to her time, always assuming that once she time travels again, she'll return to 1973.  Not only will it be 1973 when she returns, she assumes that every day she spends in 1834 will be a day that goes by in 1973 without her there.  Why does she assume that?  Firstly, if I thought I'd return to the year I left, I would assume I'd return moments later, regardless of the time spent in the past.  Secondly, I wouldn't be confident that another time traveling moment would return me to where I came from; it could just as easily send me back even further in time.  I do not believe that time travel is possible; I realize it is science fiction/fantasy.  Even so, I would have preferred the heroine was a little less confident that she knew how this time travel stuff worked.  Or if she had been confident, it would have been fun to see her expectations turn out wrong.

Isabelle writes letters [in 1834] to her friend Katy [in 1973] telling her to take care of a cat and tell her boss what was going on, with the intent that Katy would get these letters via her bank.  Okay.  Fine.  But once Isabelle knew what she was going to do, why didn't she throw away the letters she wrote when she wasn't sure what was going on?  The reader learned information by reading these letters, but the whole "time travel on a loop" deal and these letters didn't seem to make sense to me.

Setting aside all the issues I had with the logistics of the time travel aspect of the plot, I thoroughly enjoyed Must Love Breeches.  It was a fun read.  The romance between the hero and the heroine developed at a nice pace.  The heroine was quirky and likable.  The hero was manly and kind.  The writing style made for easy reading.  If you're not as nit-picky about time travel as I apparently am, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Return of the Highlanders

Book 1
Book 2

I am only in the middle of The Sinner by Margaret Mallory, and I just bought books 3 & 4 in the series.  It's that good.  I won book 1 in 2011, but I didn't read it until this month.  If I remember correctly, I won The Guardian in a bundle of books from Beverley Kendall on The Season Blog.  I have no excuse for not reading it immediately; no amount of to-be-read books should stand in your way of this series.  (Of course, if I had read it when I received it, I wouldn't have been able to immediately purchase the entire series.)

The Sinner kept me up past my bedtime last night.  The only thing that stopped me from reading it to the end was wanting to have something great to look forward to tonight.

The series follows a group of four men: Ian (The Guardian), Alex (The Sinner), Duncan (The Warrior), and Connor (The Chieftain).  Ian, Alex, and Connor are cousins (their mothers are/were sisters).  Duncan's mother was Connor's nursemaid, and all four men grew up together.  They are MacDonalds of Sleat, Scottish Highlanders.  They are warriors.

Even though I am only halfway through The Sinner, I know I already love the book more than I enjoyed The Guardian.  The first book in a series always has the burden of introducing the reader to a new world, plus the heroine in the first book has the name S├Čleas, and I never was quite sure how to pronounce it in my mind as I read, so every time I read her name, I hit a mental roadblock.  Glynis is the heroine in book 2, and I can pronounce that easily enough.  Names aside, I like Alex more than Ian.  He's a charmer.

Ms. Mallory's writing is wonderful.  It is easy to read and flows.  There is romance, danger, and fun.  This is the type of writing I'm always thirsty for.  Try it, you'll like it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

No-Bake Fudge Nougats

No-Bake Fudge Nougats
1/2 c (1 stick) butter
2 c sugar
1 c evaporated milk (2/3 c dry non-fat milk; 3/4 c water)
1 c chocolate chips
3/4 c flour
1 c graham cracker crumbs
3/4 c chopped nuts
1 t vanilla extract

In a saucepan combine sugar, butter, and evaporated milk.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Blend in chocolate chips, flour, cracker crumbs, nuts, and vanilla.  Beat until thick.  Spread in well-greased, 9-in square pan.

– Alta Moody, Platteville, Wisconsin

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sloppy Joe Sandwiches to serve 100

The following is from Taste of Home magazine, April/May 1993.

Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
20 lbs lean ground beef
3 c. chopped onions
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
1 lb brown sugar
1 c prepared mustard
2 T chili powder
1 gallon ketchup
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Hamburger buns

Brown beef; drain fat.  Add the next seven ingredients; simmer or cook in an electric roaster for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.  Serve on buns.  Yield: about 100 servings

Editor Karen Ann Bland of Gove, Kansas shared the recipe.  She wrote, "This recipe comes from a renowned local cook who was the lunchroom cook when my husband, Boyd, went to grade school.  We now use it for our annual Gove Old Settlers Day supper in summer."

If serving 100 is more than you had in mind, you might like this recipe for Sloppy Joes which serves 16.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Serving for 100

The following is from Taste of Home magazine, April/May 1993.

Here are suggested guidelines for amounts needed to feed a group of 100 people.  (Serving sizes vary depending on the type of crowd and meal served.)

Bacon: 20-25 lbs
Beef Roast: 50 lbs
Chicken: 55-60 lbs
Fish: 25 lbs
Ground Beef: 20-25 lbs
Ham (with bone): 35-40 lbs
Pork Roast: 35 lbs
Spare Ribs: 75 lbs
Stewing Beef: 25 lbs
Turkey: 75-100 lbs
Wieners: 20 lbs

Baked Beans: 12 lbs
Carrots: 25-30 lbs
Celery: 10-12 bunches
Lettuce (for salad): 12-15 heads
Potatoes (for mashed): 35 lbs
Potatoes (for scalloped): 35-40 lbs
Squash: 50 lbs
String Beans: 20-35 lbs
Sweet Potatoes: 25 lbs
Tomatoes: 25-38 lbs

Canned fruit: 20-25 cans, 25 oz each
Cranberry sauce: 6 cans, 1 lb each
For salad:
     Apples: 25 lbs
     Melon Balls: 30 melons
     Oranges: 4 dozen
     Peaches: 37 lbs
     Strawberries: 20 qts

     13x9-inch pan: 7 cakes
     15x10-inch pan: 4 cakes
Ice Cream: 4-1/2 gallons
Pie (9-in): 12-15 pies
Whipping Cream: 2 qts

Coffee: 2 lbs
     Cream: 1/2 gallon
     Sugar: 1-1/2 lbs
Fruit Juice: 18 cans of concentrate, 6 oz each
Milk: 6-1/2 gallons
Soda: 16-20 liters

Bread (for sandwiches): 12-15 loaves
Bread (with meal): 6 loaves
Butter: 3 lbs
Coleslaw: 24 lbs
Gravy: 1-1/2 gallons
Olives: 1 gallon
Pickles: 1 gallon
Potato Chips: 5 lbs
Rolls: 12 dozen
Salad Dressing: 2 qts
Sandwich Filling: 16-18 cups