Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


4 Comments

ROCK Goes the 4th With These 25 U.S. Historical Fiction Books

Kimber here. Mom is busy rustling up some Independence Day eats. I’m not too sure about the potato salad and corn on the cob thing. But I’m all over the grilled burgers! Yeah, Lassie!

Well. The subject of “best U.S. historical fiction” came up the other night. We were watching videos of last year’s fireworks or somethin’. You know. The stupid Big Boom things. (Why do humans do this every Independence Day? I don’t get it.)

I was all ears. (For the book list. Not the Big Boom things. Mom got me a Thunder Shirt for that.)

Anyway, just in time for Independence Day, Mom and I put together a list of the best historical fiction reads set in the U.S. Mom says we aren’t even going to try to cover books by decade, social movement, issue, or what not. That’d take us like, till the cat comes home. Gag me with Meow Mix!

Continue reading


2 Comments

9 Good Reads With “Green” in the Title

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Why Saint Patrick’s Day and why green? Well, many believe that Saint Patrick, foremost patron saint of Ireland, died on March 17. According to legend, Saint Patrick used the green shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish. Others say wearing green makes you invisible to impish leprechauns so you don’t get pinched!

Well, again. Dyed-in-the-shamrock bibliophiles can join the holiday fun with a good book! Especially if it has green in the title.

Here are 9 “green” titled books to spruce up your Saint Patrick’s Day! And that’s no blarney! How many of these have you read?

Continue reading


6 Comments

17 Unforgettable Love Stories

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 17 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, Old Dan and Little 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. Romeo 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 Eyre Charlotte 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 the movie 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.”

17. West Side Story

The original classic update of Romeo and Juliet set on the mean streets of New York during the 60s, with an unforgettable musical score.

Memorable quote:

“Tonight, tonight…”

What would you add?

This post was first published on Pages and Paws in 2020. But, hey! We figured it’s worth a re-run. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Leave a comment

We Wish You a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thank you for joining us for a year of gaining new friends, discovering new reads, and savoring good books!

For those who’ve taken the time to read Pages and Paws, share links, like a post, comment, submit guest articles or recommend pawsome titles new and old, THANK YOU!

It’s been a great ride. We’re looking forward to more in 2022!

We’re celebrating today with one of our favorites (sing it if ya know it):

And today:

Our best wishes to you and yours for the merriest of Christmases and a Happy New Year!

Alleluia!

Mom and Kimber


6 Comments

A Five Minute Festive

Merry Christmas Dear Readers!

 

Mom and I have cooked up something short and sweet for you today. Cuz I dunno ’bout you. But I’m tuckered.

Mom says solitude can be hard to find in our rush-rush, hurry up, instant everything society. Grabbing a few quiet moments to refresh and recharge can be a challenge any time. But it’s particularly tough during the holidays, huh?

So if holiday merry-making has you ready to tear your hair out or your festive feathers are a bit ruffled, this is for you.

Slow down.  Grab a hot cuppa. Plop in a peppermint stick. Sit down. Put your feet up. Give Manheim Steamroller’s Stille Nacht (Silent Night) a listen.  Five quiet minutes. You’ll be glad you did.

Know someone who could use a yuletide boost? Don’t forget to share!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snowy field image credit: Public domain

 


15 Comments

Books I Hope Santa Brings (sort of)

Pssst! Kimber here. I’m makin’ a list. Checkin’ it twice. For Her Momness. Cuz today’s Top Ten Tuesday is Books I Hope Santa Brings.

The things I do for Mom. Sheesh!

You probably already guessed that Mom’s Book Wish List is a mile long. I tried paring it down. It’s still the list equivalent of War and Peace. (You know Mom!)

So I decided to focus on authors instead. Pretty much anything by these authors is gonna be a winner in our house. I’ll probably get extra bacon. So here goes. Any author on this list ranks high on our Wish List:

See the source image

Continue reading


4 Comments

11 Ways to Bless Others This Christmas

Turning a corner today to do a little Christmas contemplatin’. It won’t take long. Promise. So pour yourself a hot cuppa and grab up a chair. Put your feet up. And give a listen for a min or two. Ready? Good. Here goes:

Christmas is a time for joy! For family and friends! It’s a time for Child-like wonder and merry-making. But shadows can also hover over the season, intensifying feelings of loneliness or loss.

But…

For those whose family relationships are strained or difficult, the obligatory annual Christmas gathering can feel like getting a root canal. And may be just as dreaded.

For those who’ve lost loved ones, the holidays may accentuate those absences.

Singer/songwriter Matthew West understands this. West came out with a song awhile back that captures both the joy and the sense of loss that can accompany the season: “The Heart of Christmas.”

The Heart of Christmas

It’s a perennial favorite. Give it a listen to see why:

“Wherever you are, no matter how far
Come back to the heart, the heart of Christmas
Live while you can, cherish the moment
The ones that you love, make sure they know it
Don’t miss it, the heart of Christmas.”

“Come on and open up your eyes!”

So. While you’re celebrating and making merry this season, can you slow down and remember those who may be struggling?

Here are 11 Ways To Bless Others This Christmas:

🎄Donate to your local food bank
🎄Befriend an elderly neighbor. Just starting a conversation can have a positive impact. You can also offer to help with practical tasks like shopping or dog-walking or getting them to medical appointments safely.
🎄Invite international students over for dinner
🎄Give a generous tip to a friendly customer service worker like a waiter or barista
🎄Buy a homeless person a sandwich and a hot drink
🎄Help someone who’s struggling with their luggage on public transport and/or give up your seat for same
🎄Buy your friend chocolate or another favorite treat when they’re feeling down. Listen more than you talk if they need to vent
🎄Treat a friend to on an outing or a trip to a Christmas tree farm. Serve hot cocoa and cookies afterwards.
🎄Be extra patient with retail workers, many of whom are stressed and harried this time of year. Don’t forget to thank them and say “Merry Christmas”!
🎄Bake and deliver homemade goodies to your local police and/or fire departments with a note of thanks
🎄Forgive.

What would you add?

 

 

This post was originally published here in 2019. We thought it deserved it encore.


32 Comments

17 Books To Cozy Up With This Winter

Mom is at the window, looking outside. Temperatures are dropping. Not low enough for Snowmaggedon. Here on the Olympic Peninsula, we have mostly rain. And rain. And more rain. Think Noah.

Weather like this, Mom insists on dragging out The Dreaded Orange Raincoat. Why does she do this? Is she averse to getting soaked to the collar, crashing through every puddle in sight, or galumphing around town up to her nose in rain water?

Me, I’m fine with all of the above. (I am part Lab, you know. As in water dog.)

Anyway, Mom says, “When the weather outside is frightful, the fire is even more delightful when it’s paired with a good book!” I don’t know what that means. But if it gets me out of wearing The Dreaded Orange Raincoat, I’m good!

What?

 

For today’s Top Ten Tuesday, here are 17 Books To Cozy Up With This Winter. Each title has something to say about Christmas, snow, winter adventures or settings, or all of the above. (As long as we lose the raincoat, okay?)

Continue reading


24 Comments

TTT: 10 Tastes of the Season!

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday Topic is a “freebie.” Like a BYO topic.  

Well. Between skipping around the house belting out Santa Clause is Coming to Town, stringing enough lights to give Clark Griswold a run for his moola, and decking every hall in sight, Mom’s also cooking up a storm.

So she says today’s Top Ten is gonna be Tastes of the Season! From our kitchen to yours. (Some of these recipes have been in the fam since Mom was a young’un. Like, shortly after the discovery of fire. Don’t tell Mom I said that, okay?)

What?

Mom Tested, Kimber Approved

These are all Mom Tested and Kimber Approved. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Anyway, now if I can just figure out where Mom stashed that beef brisket…

1. Incredible Edibles

CC0 Public Domain

3/4 cup melted butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 jar (12-ounce size) chunky peanut butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 package (12-ounce size) chocolate chips (melted)

Combine butter and graham cracker crumbs. Beat in peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar and spread over bottom of 9-by-13-inch pan. Frost with melted chocolate. Chill to harden frosting. Before frosting is set, cut into bars.

2. Berry Relish

1 16-oz. bag cranberries

2 green apples, cored

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup orange marmalade

1 tsp. orange juice

1 -2 baskets fresh raspberries (or frozen without sugar)

Chop cranberries and apples in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and mix. Refrigerate. Keeps for one month.

3. Christmas Morning Coffee Cake

2 Recipes Blogspot

Grease and flour two loaf pans. Combine batter ingredients, mix well.  Sprinkle part of the sugar mix on bottom of each pan before putting batter in pans.  Put rest of sugar mix on top and swirl into the cake mixture.

Sugar Mix:

½ cup sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

½ cup pecans (optional)

Batter:

1 box yellow cake mix

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 box instant vanilla pudding

½ cup pecans (optional)

¾ vegetable oil

¾ cup water

½ tsp. vanilla

4 eggs

½ tsp. butter (or vanilla) extract

Bake batter 50 to 60 minutes at 350 degrees.  While the cake is warm, dribble over the top a mixture of 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp. milk, and 1/8 tsp. butter (or vanilla) extract.  Cool entirely in pan.  Serve. 

4. Pumpkin Bread

1 ½ cup flour

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1cup sugar

1cup pumpkin

1/4 cup cooking oil

1 egg

1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts are really good)

Mix the sugar, pumpkin, oil, and egg together.  In another bowl mix all the others but the nuts together and add the liquid.  Mix well.  Add nuts. Put in greased bread pan. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes. 

Note: this recipe may use zucchini in place of pumpkin.

5. Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

See the source image

Flickr

1 (12 oz.) package chocolate chips

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed mile (NOT evaporated)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup peanut butter

In heavy sauce pan, over low heat, melt chocolate chips with condensed milk and vanilla, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter. Stir just to distribute throughout mixture.

Spread evenly into an 8-inch square pan lined with aluminum foil. Chill for 2 hours or until firm. Turn fudge onto a cutting board. Peel off the foil and cut into squares.

6. Rum Balls

See the source image

Pinterest

2 cups finely ground vanilla wafers

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 Tbsp. cocoa

2 Tbsp. white corn syrup

½ cup rum

Mix all ingredients together well. Roll into balls and dip in powdered sugar.

7. Easy Spritz Cookies

1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix

½ cup butter, melted

½ cup Gold Medal all-purpose flour

1 tsp. almond extract

1 egg

Colored sugars, candy sprinkles, coarse white sugar

Heat oven to 375’F.  In large bowl, stir cookie mix, melted butter, flour, almond extract and egg until soft dough forms.  Fit cookie press with desired template.  Fill cookie press with cookie dough.  Onto greased cookie sheet, press cookies.  Decorate with remaining ingredients as desired. 

Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until set.  Cool 1 minute.  Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

8. Pumpkin Crumble

See the source image

Public domain

1 28-oz. can plain pumpkin

1 12-oz. can evaporated milk

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

4 tsp. pumpkin spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice)

1 tsp. salt (optional)

1 box yellow cake mix

1 cube melted butter

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Combine first six ingredients. Pour into 9 x 13″ pan. Sprinkle with cake mix. Pour melted butter over top. Bake at 350 degrees about 50 minutes or until set. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Serves 12.

9. Spicy Cocoa Mocha Mix

See the source image

Pinterest

4 cups non-fat dry milk powder

1 cup non-dairy coffee creamer

2-1/2 cups instant pre-sweetened cocoa mix

1/2 cup instant coffee

1-1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. allspice

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Store mixture in an airtight container.  Make 6 cups.

To make cocoa drink: Pour 1/2 cup of mixture in a mug and fill with boiling water.  Stir.

…. And for Kimmi:

10. Soda Pop Brisket

See the source image

Pinterest

1 pkg. dry onion soup mix

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 beef brisket, 1 to 2 lbs., or pot roast beef

1 tsp. paprika

1 can diet Pepsi

4 medium red potatoes, cubed

Sprinkle soup mix, paprika and garlic powder on both sides of brisket. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place meat in large roasting pan with lid. Pour soda over seasoned meat. Cover and cook in over about 2 to 3 hours. Uncover. Add potatoes (peeled or not) and more soda if needed.

Turn oven to 300 degrees and roast until potatoes are browned and meat is tender, approx. 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Make gravy with the drippings and pour over potatoes and meat.

It sounds like a strange combination, but it’s delicious! Can be adjusted for crock pot use.

+++

Oh boy, oh boy! Is my tummy ever rumbling now! You gonna eat that? “Askin’ for a friend.” 🙂

***

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish,
Now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl