Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy

By Tui T. Sutherland

 

You know that “We who are about to die salute you” gladiator scene in Spartacus? Where Kirk Douglas is forced to duke it out to the death with another gladiator?  Add some scales, talons, and wings. Stir in five dragonets who are the only hope for peace between endlessly warring dragon tribes. And you’ve got the gist of Tui T. Sutherland’s Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy. It’s Book 1 of a 12-book fantasy novel series set in the mythical land of Pyrrhia.

 

Plot Summary

A war has been raging between the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia for years. MudWing dragonet Clay and four other dragonets have lived their entire lives – six years – under a mountain. Purloined from their homes as eggs, the quintet has been hidden from the rest of the world until they’re ready to fulfill their destiny. According to a mysterious Prophecy, five dragonets will end the bloodshed and choose a new queen.

 

Or will they?

 

When Clay and his spunky buddy, Tsunami, make a daring escape and return to rescue the others from their subterranean existence, everything kind of goes sideways. Inches from freedom, plucky Clay and his friend are captured by the deadly SkyWing dragon queen, Scarlet. She forces her prisoners into to-the-death gladiator battles reminiscent of Spartacus. (See? I told you so.)

 

Queen Scarlet’s champion is an undefeated SkyWing named Peril. She responds to Clay’s kindness. But is Peril friend or foe? And who will become queen?

 

Wit and Humor

A rapier wit and subtle humor enliven this delicious fantasy tale. Sutherland’s world-building is also first-rate. You can almost hear fire sizzle, smell the musty earth and feel the waves of an icy river and waterfall lap at the pages.

 

The plot picks up speed quickly as “huge, handsome idiot” Clay and his pals battle to escape Queen Scarlet’s evil clutches and search for their own families while trying to unravel their intertwined destinies. A fun read for older elementary or middle schoolers or anyone who enjoys exploring fantasy worlds, dry humor and traipsing in and out of dragon lairs.

 

Don’t Eat the Block Rocks

Along the way we learn that old scrolls and dusty lectures can come in handy. Eating black rocks from the Diamond Sky River turns out not to be such a great idea. Peril and the Champion Shield uncover a secret.

 

You should also know that there’s more than one kind of dragon in Pyrrhia. The different dragon tribes are: SandWings, MudWings, IceWings, RainWings, and NightWings. And not every dragon breathes fire.

 

One other thing: Mud isn’t just for squishing in.

 

Keep An Eye Out

One other, other thing. And this is kind of important. Not every dragon wants the Great War to end. Like Burn. And what’s up with Morrowseer? I’d also keep an eye on Blister, ‘fize you.

 

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

Is this unlikely band of rag-tag dragonets really destined to fulfill a mighty Prophecy, or are they just being lured out into the open where evil stalks their every move and treachery awaits…?

 

Oh, the dragonets are coming

They’re coming to save the day…

 

3.0

 

For more on our rating system, click here.

 

What makes a great romantic story or movie? One that tugs at the heart strings over and over? Makes you laugh and cry, sigh and buy stock in Kleenex?

The Basics

“Most romantic movie” is highly subjective. (IMHO, Hollywood hasn’t cranked out much worth seeing in this category in decades.)

But basic elements include credible dialogue and a solid, poignant script. Three-dimensional characters who learn, grow and develop. Superlative acting. A story that typically goes like:

1) Boy meets girl

2) Boy loses girl

3) Boy finds girl again.

Boils Down To

In between are all sorts of obstacles, angst, turmoil and tumult. Misunderstandings. Heartbreak. Despair. Tragedy and triumph. But the essence of a great romantic movie boils down to:

Love Conquers All

Additionally, an element of selflessness and/or self-sacrifice should be evident in order to make the cut. (That’s why the truculent, self-absorbed characters of Titanic aren’t on this list.) With these basic criteria in mind, here’s my 100% subjective, totally unscientific list of:

The 10 Most Romantic Movies of All Time (in no particular order):

1. Casablanca – Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, 1942

World War II is raging. Rick Blaine, an exiled American and former freedom fighter, runs the most popular nightspot in Casablanca. Rick’s café has become a haven for refugees seeking to obtain illicit letters that will aid their escape to America.

One of these refugees is a Czechoslovak underground leader Victor Laszlo who’s on the run from the Nazis. When Laszlo suddenly shows up with his wife Ilsa, Rick’s former lover from Paris, the cynical café owner must make a heartbreaking decision.

Play it, Sam.

2. An Affair to Remember – Starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, 1957.

Handsome playboy Nickie Ferrante and beautiful night club singer Terry McKay meet aboard ship while sailing from Europe to New York. Despite being engaged to other people, they suddenly find themselves falling in love. They agree to meet on top of the Empire State Building in six months. But fate intervenes…

3. The Bridges of Madison County – Starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood, 1995.

A National Geographic photographer on assignment in Iowa meets a lonely housewife.

While her husband and children are away at the State Fair in the summer of 1965, Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood) happens to turn into the Johnson farm and asks Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep) for directions. The next four days change their lives forever.

4. Out of Africa – Starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, 1985.

Looking for a better life in early 20th century Denmark, Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) enters into a marriage of convenience with a womanizing baron. But when the couple moves to Kenya to start a dairy farm, an unexpected adventure awaits Karen: she falls in love with an English safari hunter who can’t be tied down.

A stirring John Barry score.

5. Somewhere In Time – Starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve, 1980.

A haunting love story that transcends time.

When a young playwright Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) struggles with writer’s block, he heads to a hotel on Michigan’s Mackinac Island to clear his head. While there, he notices a photograph of a beautiful young woman hanging on a wall of the hotel’s Hall of History.

He later discovers that the young woman, Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), performed a play at the hotel some 60 years earlier… and he was there.

6. Sleepless in Seattle – Starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, 1993.

A Baltimore reporter, Annie, tunes in to a talk radio show on her way to her engagement party on Christmas Eve. She hears a young boy, Noah, wishing his father, Sam, would find a new wife because his mother recently died.

Unable to forget Sam and Noah, Annie begins to look for something she didn’t know she was missing. Something like… magic.

7. Gone With the Wind – Starring Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard, 1939.

Based on the sweeping epic by Margaret Mitchell in which a manipulative Southern belle and a roguish blockade runner meet their match – in each other.

8. West Side Story – Starring Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, Richard Beymer and George Chakiris, 1961

A modern, musical re-telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Set in New York City amid warring street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks.

Jets member Tony (Richard Beymer) falls for Maria (Natalie Wood). She’s the sister of the Sharks leader, Bernardo (George Chakiris). Tensions simmer and boil over into a battle to the death and a heartbreaking finale.

Winner of 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture.

9. The Princess Bride – Starring Cary Elwes & Robin Wright, 1987

The beautiful Princess Buttercup and the dashing Westley must overcome incredible odds to find happiness amid six-fingered swordsmen, murderous princes, Sicilians and rodents of unusual size.

An enchanting love story that not even the Dread Pirate Roberts can sink. (Did you know the 1987 movie was based on a book?)

10. The Bodyguard – Starring Kevin Costner & Whitney Houston, 1992.

Former Secret Service agent Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) takes a job as a bodyguard to protect a temperamental pop singer (Whitney Houston) who’s been receiving death threats. Lots of ruffled feathers ensue before Cupid’s arrows start hitting their marks.

11. I Can Only Imagine – J. Michael Finley & Dennis Quaid, 2018

Discover the untold story behind the beloved chart-topping song. No list of “love conquers all” movies would be complete without this one. A personal favorite.

Honorable Mention:

  1. Camelot – loosely based on the T.H. White Arthurian classic, The Once and Future King.
  2. Les Miserables – Based on the novel by Victor Hugo. (I am speaking of the 1995 dream cast musical version, not that God-awful 2012 Russell Crowe knock-off.)
  3. Dr. Zhivago – Based on the 1957 novel by Boris Pasternak.

Did your favorite make the cut? What would you add?

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. And what better way to ring in the day than with a love story?

Now, I could line the bottom of my bird cage (if I had one) with most of what passes for “romance” stories these days. That’s not what this list is about. You won’t find any cheap dime store boiler plate trash here. This list focuses on timeless love stories that go above and beyond basic romance.

Some of these titles are relatively new. Others have been around for centuries. All reach straight for your heart. Climb in. And settle in to stay. B.Y.O. tissue.

Here are 16 of the most unforgettable love stories of all time, along with memorable quotes. Many have been made into movies. Some might surprise you:

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s masterpiece of love and life among English gentility during the Georgian era. Mr. Bennet is an English gentleman living in Hartfordshire with his overbearing wife, one of the most ridiculous mothers in all literature. Mrs. Bennet’s chief goal in life is to see her five daughters married off and living comfortably. But fate intervenes…

Memorable quote:

“My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.”

2. Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak

This novel traces the lives and loves of its two tragic protagonists, Yuri Zhivago, a physician and poet, and Larissa Antipova. Pasternak’s epic love story takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and World War II. First published in Italy in 1957.

Memorable quote:

“Oh, what a love it was, utterly free, unique, like nothing else on earth! Their thoughts were like other people’s songs.”

3. A Common Life – Jan Karon

Laughter and wedding bells ring as Father Tim and his artist neighbor, Cynthia, get ready to tie the knot. Finally!

Memorable quote:

“I am not proud, but I am happy; and happiness blinds, I think, more than pride.”

4. Message in a Bottle – Nicholas Sparks

When a woman discovers a tragic love letter in a bottle on a beach, she’s determined to track down its author – and finds much more.

Emotionally intense story of love after loss. Set in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Memorable quote:

“Without you in my arms, I feel an emptiness in my soul.”

  1. The Princess Bride – William Golding

Six-fingered swordsmen. Murderous princes. Treachery. Gallantry. Sicilians and rodents of unusual size.

Buttercup and Westley’s love story is a classic that not even the Dread Pirate Roberts can sink. Did you know the 1987 movie was based on a book?

Memorable quote:

“As you wish.”

  1. Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls

The powerful, poignant story of the unbreakable bond between a young boy and his two Redbone Hound dogs, ‘Ole Dan and Li’l Ann, reminds us what love really means. Set in the Ozarks during the depths of the Depression.

Once in a lifetime, a story comes along that inspires generations of readers. Where The Red Fern Grows is one of those stories. Bring Kleenex.

Note from Kimber: My personal favorite, friends! Even better than bacon! Mom always wants to snuggle up with this one. I’m a good helper, ya know. But I’m a World Class Snuggler and face-licker!

Memorable quote:

“I looked at his grave and, with tears in my eyes, I voiced these words: ‘You were worth it, old friend, and a thousand times over.’”

  1. Out of Africa – Isak Dinesen

Set largely in Kenya, East Africa, this sweeping epic is a story of discovery, loss and love.

Karen Blixen followed her dreams until her dreams became reality. She came to Africa from Denmark to search for something inside herself. There, she discovers a man and a country. And life as she’s never known it.

Blixen published her autobiographical Out of Africa under the nom de plume, Isak Dinesen.

The 1985 movie won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. It stars Meryl Streep as Blixen and Robert Redford as her lover, Dennys Finch-Hatton.

Memorable quote:

“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”

  1. The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks

A touching story about what we long for. What we settle for. And who we were meant for. Full of longing and wistfulness. Despair and hope. And unexpected plot twists. Vintage Nicholas Sparks.

“I read to her and she remembers.”

Memorable quote:

“We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has only happened once, and that’s why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory. I’ll never forget a single moment of it.”

  1. Rome and Juliet – William Shakespeare

Don’t make me explain this.

Memorable quote:

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.”

10 – 13. The Last Promise, A Perfect Day, The Letter, The Sunflower, – Richard Paul Evans

  1. The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams

How a brand new toy becomes Real.

Don’t think this “children’s” classic is a love story? Think again.

Memorable quote:

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

  1. Jane EyreCharlotte Brontë

Beloved love story between the plucky orphan and governess Jane Eyre and the dark and brooding Rochester.

Memorable quote:

“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”

 

16. Bid Time Return – Richard Matheson

A haunting story of the link between a man and a woman that transcends time. The novel upon which Somewhere in Time is based.

My husband rolls his eyes every time I drag out my SIT DVD. I just smile and grab some more chocolate.

This story and the movie that followed starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour prove how little critics know and how even a predictable love story never fails to tug at the heart strings.

An unforgettable John Barry score doesn’t hurt, either.

Memorable quote:

“Come back to me.”

What would you add?

Hello February!

‘Tis the month for love and romance and all things heartfelt. That includes good books and good food! In fact, what better way to kick off Valentine’s month than with pairing some great love stories with great food!

The titles below feature love stories flavored with rich, robust writing. Also links to a culinary idea or two you can savor before, after, or while you’re turning pages.

Some of these titles may be familiar. Some may be new. Some may surprise you. Just don’t get so engrossed in the plot that you neglect to mind the stove, okay?

Ready? Set? Grab your book. Head to the nearest kitchen and Let’s Go!

1. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy – Frances Mayes, 1996.

Chockful of picturesque settings and luscious scenes, this delicious memoir introduces us to Italy via the author’s restoration of an Italian villa, Bramsole. Part autobiography, part history, part travelogue and part cookbook, Mayes treats readers to the sights, sounds, textures, and tastes of the lovely Tuscan countryside and culture on every page, revealing their glory one paragraph at a time. What’s not to love?

Pair With:

Tuscan Style Chicken and White Bean Arugula Salad and crusty bread. For an entire cookbook chockfull of the hearty, rustic fare from central Italy, check out Lori de Mori’s Savoring Tuscany. Que bella! (No movie trailer here. Saw it. Ugh. One of the worst films ever. Don’t waste your time. Read the book instead and savor the author’s love for all things Italian.)

 

  1. The Bridges of Madison County – Robert James Waller, 1992.

I know, I know. Sappy, sappy, sappy. But it’s also one of the best-selling romance novellas of all time.

Set on an Iowa farm in the 1960s, Bridges tells the story of a lonely Italian-American woman (war bride) who meets a traveling photographer while her husband and children are at the state fair for the weekend.

Intense, poignant, and beautifully written, the story became a beloved film starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.

Call me a sap, but I cried.

 

Pair With:

Grab some tissue and sit down with Robert Kincaid and Francesca Johnson over hearty Iowan fare like tangy Herb Roasted Pork and Fresh Corn Salad or Garlicky Summer Squash & Fresh Corn.

3. Nights in Rodanthe – Nicholas Sparks, 2002.

Abandoned by her husband for a younger woman, 45 year-old Adrienne Willis is struggling to care for her sick father and raise her teenage children alone. She spends the weekend at a North Carolina inn. A storm is brewing. While there, Adrienne meets a divorced father and former surgeon running from his past. Set in Rodanthe, North Carolina.

I’d stock up on tissue ‘fize you.

 

Pair With:

Start with Sparks and end or continue with some favorite North Carolinian fare like Sweet Potato Biscuits and Country Ham or Crook’s Corner Shrimp and Grits. Be sure to save room for some Banana Pudding or Moravian Sugar Cake.

 

  1. Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds – Joy Adamson, 1960.

A profoundly moving story of the remarkable bond between an orphaned lioness, Elsa, and the humans who loved her enough to set her free.

 

Set in Kenya, Born Free is the true story of one of the most heartwarming relationships between humans and animals ever put to print. Beautifully illustrated with evocative photography.

I first read Born Free in 1969. I re-read it again last summer, 50 years later. I still love this story. A true classic.

 

Pair With:

Wind down your Kenyan safari with Elsa and the Adamsons with Kuku Paka (Kenyan Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce) and Githeri (Kenyan Corn & Beans) or Sukuma Wiki (East African Greens Simmered with Tomatoes).

 

  1. Two From Galilee: The Story of Mary and Joseph  – Marjorie Holmes, 1972.

Frightened, alone and in love, a teenage girl and a young carpenter must withstand family conflict and a hostile world in order to carry out a responsibility that will change human history.

A compassionate, evocative tale of divine love for young and old and anyone who finds beauty and wonder in the timeless story of events surrounding the first Christmas. A best-selling classic.

 

Pair With:

Serve up a sumptuous Christmas feast celebrating this book with Dry-Brined Lemon Rosemary Roasted Turkey, Roasted Maple Pears With Cranberries & Thyme, Green Beans With Orange & Almond Gremolata, and Sour Cream Mashed Potaotes and Bacon Crumbs. Or try Pineapple-Glazed Ham.

 

What pairings are your favorite?

 

 

 

Banana pudding image credit: Flickr.

In case you’ve been in a cave or a coma lately, the Super Bowl is just around the corner. But some of us (who shall remain nameless) don’t watch the Super Bowl for football. We tune in for the commercials.

Indeed, Super Bowl broadcasts have showcased some of the most memorable television commercials of all time. So with Game Day waiting in the wings, we got to thinking about memorable TV commercials.

Now, “memorable” is highly subjective. A commercial doesn’t necessarily have to be any good to be “memorable.” It may be silly. Hokey. Or just plain ridiculous. It could be so bad, you can’t get it out of your head. It may also be so poignant and powerful, you can’t forget it.

So Kimber and I put our heads together the other day and came up with our own highly subjective, 100% unscientific list of the 12 Most Memorable TV Commercials Ever.

Not all of these commercials aired during a Super Bowl game. But can you name the ones that did? In no particular order:

1. The 9//11 Tribute (Budweiser, 2011)

When it comes to memorable ads, Budweiser is in a class by itselff.

The 9/11 tribute ad only aired once, during the 2011 Super Bowl. But once was enough.

Ten years after the tragedy, this ad features the famous Budweiser Clydesdales clip-clopping across the Brooklyn Bridge, past the Statue of Liberty, then bowing before the New York cityscape. Then “We’ll never forget” appears across the screen.

The ad airs without a single word of dialogue. It doesn’t need any.

One of the most poignant, powerful commercials ever.

2. I Can’t Believe I Ate That Whole Thing (Alka Seltzer, 1972)

In this ad, Ralph is seated on the edge of his bed, moaning about an upset stomach after over-eating. He doesn’t get much sympathy from his wife, who tells him to take some Alka-Seltzer.

The ad won a Clio Award (the television commercial equivalent of an Oscar) in 1972. The line, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing,” was selected by Newsweek magazine as one of the ten best quotes of the decade.

3. The Mayhem Guy – St. Bernard Puppy (Allstate, 2019)

In this commercial, a 70-pound St. Bernard puppy with a “lack of impulse control” meets its match in Tina Fey. “Get Allstate. Where good drivers save 40% for avoiding mayhem – like me.”

The Mayhem Guy has made a career out of these commercials. Which is your favorite?

4. Aqua Velva Man featuring Pete Rose – (Aqua Velva, 1976)

Pete Rose sings in this cheesy Aqua Velva commercial from 1976. Because there’s just something about an Aqua Velva man.

5. The Most Interesting Man in the World (Dos Equis, 2010)

His mother has a tattoo that reads “Son.” I don’t always drink beer. But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Stay thirsty, my friends.

Wait. Did I say the Pete Rose ad was cheesy?

6. 241 Years of Battles Won (U.S. Marine Corps, 2017)

For a place. For a people. For an idea…. It’s what we do. It’s who we are….

This may be the best recruiting commercial ever.

  1. Are You Grown Up Enough For Granny Goose? (Granny Goose Potato Chips, early 1960s)

Interesting. Well-seasoned. Provocative. The only question is: Are you grown up enough for Granny Goose?

Love it or hate it, this was one memorable ad. Totally un-PC.

  1. Mean Joe Green (Coca Cola, 1979)

One of the most famous Coca Cola commercials ever. Have a Coke and a smile.

9. Times of Your Life Christmas commercial featuring Paul Anka (Kodak, 1976)

Remember Paul Anka?

Good morning, yesterday. You wake up and time has slipped away. Do you remember? The laughter and the tears? The shadow of misty yester-years? (Bet you can’t stop humming that…)

Nostalgia meets Kodak in this beautiful holiday commercial.

Kodak film. For the times of your life. They nailed it!

10.I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (Coca Cola, 1971)

Who can forget this one? “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” is a pop song which originated as an advertising jingle. It’s sung by the Hillside Singers in this 1971 TV commercial.

It’s the real thing…

11.Another Angel Gets Its Wings (Target, 1993)

Scenes from the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life intersplice this music video from the 1993 Christmas song, Another Angel Gets Its Wings. By Vince Gill and Trisha Yearwood.

The video appeared at the beginning of the Target Exclusive VHS copy of It’s A Wonderful Life. If customers bought a Christmas album by either Gill or Yearwood at Target, a free cassette single of this tune was included.

Remember, for each and every bell that rings, another angel gets its wings. So share you care…

Everybody sing!

12.Puppy Love (Budweiser, 2014)

An adorable puppy + a majestic Clydesdale + the bonds of friendship = best buds and a cuteness overload!

Budweiser knocks it out of the park again with this Super Bowl ad from 2014.

Will you be watching this year’s Super Bowl game for the football, the commercials, or a little bit of both?

There’s this football thingy going on this Sunday. Apparently it’s a BIG football thingy. Dad’s working on “game day food.” I’m not sure what that means. But if “Game Day” makes the kitchen smell this good, then we should do Game Day every day.

 

Here are five of Dad’s and my favorite snacks and recipes for Super Bowl Sunday. (I don’t really care who’s playing. As long as I get bacon.)

 

 

CRANBERRY COCKTAIL MEATBALLS

(Makes 2 dozen cocktail-sized meatballs)

Flickr

Meatballs

2 lbs. ground beef round

1 cup packed cornflake crumbs

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/3 cup catsup

½ cup finely minced onion

 

Sauce

I can ( 16 oz.) jellied cranberry sauce

1 bottle (12 oz.) chile sauce

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

 

Mix meatball ingredients together in a large bowl. Form into walnut-sized balls. Place in a large square baking pan.

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan mix together the sauce ingredients; Stir and simmer until the cranberry sauce melts. Pour over the meatballs and bake, uncovered for 30 minutes.

 

Adapted from Four Midwestern Sisters’ Christmas Book, 1991.

 

 

MOM’S SLOPPY JOES

Flickr

1 lb. ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 lb. frankfurters, sliced

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. chili powder

 

In a skillet, lightly cook beef, onion and green pepper.  Drain fat.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Serve open-faced on kaiser or sour dough rolls, or hamburger style.

 

 

CHUNKY CHICKEN CHILI

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped celery

½ cup carrot

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup mild salsa

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

3 teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon cumin

1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans

1 green bell pepper, chopped

 

Spray large nonstick saucepan with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium high heat until hot. Add chicken, onions, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink.

 

Stir in salsa, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder and cumin.

 

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garbanzo beans and bell pepper. Simmer until thoroughly heated.  6 (1.5 cups) servings.

 

Adapted from Classic Pillsbury Cookbooks, Heart Healthy Recipes

 

CREAMY ONION DIP

1.5 cups dairy sour cream

2 Tbsp. dry onion soup mix

½ cup crumbled blue cheese (2 oz.)

Assorted vegetable dippers (celery, carrots, cauliflower or broccoli florets, bell pepper, baby carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes, etc.)

 

In a medium bowl stir together sour cream and dry onion soup mix. Stir in blue cheese. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours. If desired, sprinkle with snipped parsley just before serving. Serve with veggie dippers. Makes 1.75 cups.

 

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Best Loved Recipes 2006

 

SAUSAGE-CHEESE BALLS

Flickr

1 lb. bulk hot sausage, browned and cooled

1 lb. sharp cheddar, grated

3 cups Bisquick

¾ cup water

 

Combine, shape into 1-inch balls. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes, at 350 degrees. Reheats well. Freeze separate, then put into bags. Makes 80 -100.

 

Adapted from Seasoned with Love: A Book of Favorite Recipes compiled by the Joint Heirs Sunday school class of Whittier Hills Baptist Church, April 1984.

 

Mom’s contribution:

Not being a football fan, there’s just one “football book” I can recommend for today: I Am Third, by Gale Sayers.

 

Movies featuring football worth seeing again and again? The Blind Side and Facing the Giants. Two thumbs up for both!

 

What would you add?

 

TTFN!

Mom and Kimber

(And Dad, too)

 

“I’m outta blogging gas” says Mom the other day. She rolls her eyes. Sighs.

 

Why does Mom do this? I don’t know. Maybe she needs me to lick her face?

Mom says she’s tired of trying to come up with interesting, original blog posts. “I think I’m about book-blogged-out.”

Ever feel that way? Like, if you write one more book review, you’re going to have to chase the neighbor’s cat? Or wear one of those stupid doggie sweaters?

Well. You know me. How I like to help. I’m a helper, see? To start the new year off right, I came up with 33 Rocking Post Ideas For Your Book Blog That’ll Keep Your Readers Reading!

Pretty good, huh? Here they are:

1. Top book club picks

This depends on the kind of book club. Dickens’s Bleak House or Austen’s Sense and Sensibility may not do so hot in a science fiction book club. But you can blog about titles you’d like to read with your club this year and why.

 

2. Seasonal or holiday books

Not just Christmas-themed stories! How ‘bout Valentine’s Day? President’s Day or Independence Day? The first day of spring? Don’t forget my favorite, National Dog Day!

3. Author lists

Great idea for highlighting prolific authors like Gary Paulsen. Richard Paul Evans. Will Hobbs. Or Mom. Readers don’t always know about other books a good author has written. Share!

 

  1. Theme lists

Best outdoors books? Love stories? Science fiction? Mystery or dystopian? Make a list and check it twice. Then blog about it.

 

  1. Does listening to audio books count as “reading”?

There’s quite a debate about this in the book community. What say you? Why?

 

  1. Tell the Librarian!

You’ve been invited to a one-on-one lunch with the head librarian. What do you want to tell him or her? Should the library be open longer? Hire more staff? Increase its collection? What electronic resources would you like to see available? What special programs would you like to see for children, young adults, adults or seniors? Blog it!

 

  1. Buying books on-line or brick and mortar?

Ohhh boy! Plenty of blogging fodder here!

 

  1. Best-Loved Children’s Classics That Never Grow Old

Think Easy. Picture Books. Or the Juvenile Section of your library. Share your childhood faves and your kids’s faves.

 

  1. Top Read-Alouds Your Kids Will Love

Related to the above. Not every read-to-myself book makes for a good read aloud. What titles can you recommend that will have the kiddos asking for “one more chapter”?

 

  1. Best (and Worst) Book Titles

List the _______ book titles you’ve ever seen. *Most clever? Most intriguing or surprising? Catchiest? Longest? Shortest? Dumbest? Most obscure or off-target? Blog away!

 

  1. 10 Books You DO NOT Want To Start Before Bedtime (or you’ll be up all night finishing)

What books can you recommend that were so compelling and engaging, you couldn’t put them down until The End?

 

  1. Five Books I’ll Rescue First If My House Catches Fire

Which books could you not live without, and why?

 

  1. Best Book Pairings

Food and books go together like peanut butter and jelly. Wine and cheese. Chocolate and more chocolate. Share a recipe of two that ties into your latest book review.

Clock’s running!

  1. Take It or Toss it? How Long I Give a Book To Prove Itself

How long does it take you to make a decision as to whether or not you’ll continue reading a book? A few chapters? 100 pages? The end of the first paragraph? Tell us and explain why.

15. What’s on Your TBR List?

We’re book lovers and writers. We usually have piles of To Be Read books. Share what’s in yours.

 

16. Create a Bookish Award

Did you discover an under-rated but excellent read? Give it some love by creating an award! What about a new book blog that rocked your socks off? Or a new author who catapulted to the top of your Favorites list?

17. Biggest Book Turn-Offs

There are no right or wrong answers here. So rant away!

18. 5 Literary Characters I’d Die To Have Lunch With

As long as they’re not serving oysters. Ugh!

19. Favorite Author Birthdays

Make a list of some fave authors. Do a bit of biographical research. Find out their birthday. Sprinkle in a few “Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss” or “Happy Birthday Laura Ingalls Wilder” posts in this year’s calendar. Be sure to highlight favorites by these authors.

20. Books Every Teenager Should Read (or skip)

To the horror of high school English teachers everywhere, my list would start with two mega duds: Catcher in the Rye and The Sound and the Fury. It can only get better from there.

21. A Book That Surprised Me

You thought it was going to be about A, but it turned out being about B. Good or bad? Recommend or pass?

 

22. Most Inspiring Books I’ve Read in the Last 12 Months

What books touched you in a powerful or poignant way, and why?

23. Pros & Cons of Book Clubs

Some readers swear by book clubs. Others detest them. What do you think?

 

24. 10 Books I Bought or Read Just For Their Covers (C’mon. ‘Fess up. We all do it!)

 

25. The Worst (or funniest) Book Typos Ever?

Ay! Yi! Yi! This requires a sharp eye and a keen wit. But you can do it!

 

26. Glitz or Glum? Do Book Awards Mean Anything Anymore?

Have you ever chosen a book based on “Best Seller” status? Or do you just ignore it? What about other literary awards? Meaningless or helpful?

 

27. A Book Series I Didn’t Want to End

Chronicles of Narnia? The Hunger Games? The Wizard of Oz? Little House books?

 

28. Bookish Gifts I’d Like to Give or Receive

Okay, so a hot new title, a steaming mug of cocoa and a snuggly blanket top this list. But think outside the box. What bookish gift would bring a smile to your face?

 

29. A Field Trip to My Library

Think of this as a virtual “show and tell.” Pictures! Pictures! Pictures!

 

30. Write a How-To Post

The blogosphere loves how-to posts. Whip up a reading and writing related posts. Tips: How to Overcome Writer’s Block. How to Read More in 10 Easy Steps! How to Get the Most out of Your Next Library Visit.

31. Share Your Version of The Perfect Reading Room (even if you have to make one up)

What would you include in this room? Book shelves? A fridge? Floor-to-ceiling windows? A fireplace? A lock and key? Would it overlook a lake? Be a snug log cabin perched on a mountain peak, or a fancy French chateau with an inexhaustible wine cellar?

 

  1. Books I Thought I’d Hate But Wound Up Loving (or vice-versa)

Books can surprise us. Sometimes they just need a chance.

32. 10 of My Favorite Literary Hero(in)es & Villains!

Lord Voldemort? Iago? Captain Hook? How about Elizabeth Bennet? Martin Chuzzlewit? Katniss Everdeen? Blog it!

 

  1. List Hyped-Up Books That Tasted Like Toe Lint

Ever dive into a “5 star review” book and wonder, “What were they thinking?! This is awful”? Make a list.

 

There! See? A whole bunch of  post ideas to rock your book blog and start the new year off right!

 

Wait. Do I smell bacon?

XO,

Kimber