Wednesday, December 18, 2019

VIRTUAL ADVENT TOUR: Nan's Frying Pan Cookies

Hello, and welcome again to the Virtual Advent Tour, hosted by sprite writes. Check her blog everyday for a new Advent post from all over the world.

When my children were quite young, every Christmas Eve, my mom and I would bundle them up and we would to to visit my paternal grandmother, whom we called Nan. She lived forty-five minutes away from us, an easy drive on a winter day. The great-grands called her Great Nan. Because she was a Great Nan, and the name was perfect.

We would be taking some presents up to her, and she would have a little lunch for us as well. She had presents for all her great-grandchildren, numbering around 21. As we entered the house, heads bumping on the wind chime as we passed into the dining room (a little noise to let her know someone had arrived) and the children would run to the candy dish. 

The famous china candy dish, always kept full of little treats. I remember not wanting my kids to gorge themselves on the candy and nuts (all choking hazards!) and worrying that they would break the china. But I couldn't be the only one to move the candy dish, so, just like when I was young, treats and candy and sweets were a part of a visit to Nan's. 

Not quite the same, but this is the style, with separate china sections, all potentially breakable!
After a chat, and catch up, Nan would put out a little lunch for us. A homemade meat pie, smothered with mustard pickles, and a plate of sweets for dessert. The sweets would include shortbreads with a dollop of icing and half a walnut, peanut butter balls, and my favourite, Frying Pan Cookies. There was also dark fruit cake, but just like red wine and dark rum, the dark foods are an acquired taste, and it seems to take until your forties to enjoy these darker foods. While I didn't eat dark fruit cake then, I would now. 

But this post is meant to be about the Frying Pan Cookies, my traditional Christmas cookie. I got this recipe from her when I was young and love to make, and eat them. It would be easy to make a gluten-free version, if you have a gluten-free rice crispie type cereal.

Frying Pan Cookies

1 1/2 c. chopped dates
1 C white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cap full of vanilla

1/2 tsp salt
2 C Rice Krispies
1.5  C walnuts, chopped fine
1 bag coconut - I like unsweetened but use your favourite type
Mix dates, sugar and eggs in frying pan. Cook 10 minutes, smashing the dates down or until dates are soft. Cool some, then add vanilla, Rice Krispies and walnuts and mix well till it's all stickey.

Butter your hand well, roll mixture into balls then roll balls in coconut. Makes 4-5 dozen, depending on how large you roll them. These freeze really well, and can become your favourite frozen treat to sneak from the freezer.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


Top Ten Tuesday topic this week is your winter TBR. I love making a list and this list is partially based on another list, the Tournament of Books shortlist for 2020. Between requesting a bunch of those books at the library, and books in my mystery series, and then my own books, there is no shortage of ideas for this winter TBR. For future topics, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Akner-Brodesser
TOB shortlist, was a publisher review book

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
TOB shortlist book requested from the library

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
loved her Brown Girl Dreaming

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
requested when it was on the TOB longlist and intrigued me

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
TOB shortlist, audiobook requested from library

Rest Not in Peace by Mel Starr
#6 in the Hugh de Singleton 14th century England series

Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood
Will this be the year I get to this book? I really liked the second two books in the trilogy

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
One of those Kindle Daily Deals that looks good and I should read

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
One of my last YA Sync books from last year

Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry
Another YA Sync book from last summer. Audibooks are great for walking, and I'm definitely listening to more audiobooks as I try to walk more.

Friday, December 6, 2019


Welcome to my turn posting on the Virtual Advent Tour! I've been a part of the Virtual Advent since I started blogging, back in 2007. It's a part of blogging, and Christmas that I look forward to.

As an update from the Advent Calendar post about Advent Calendars from last year, I found a cheese advent calendar for my husband and I to enjoy. Each evening we share the cheese and maybe a cracker or two on the countdown til the 25th. Oldest child, 22, has a Lindt chocolate advent calendar, middle child, 19, has a Hello Kitty Opi mini nail polish advent calendar, and youngest, 16 has a homemade (Bulk Barn) full of nuts and dark chocolate wafers. We've come a long way from the single calendar my sister and I used to share.

One of the things I like about Christmas is taking the extra effort to fancy things up.

So it's the time of year when I put some icing on the cookies, or make cookies that require rolling, and then coating in something extra or putting the maraschino cherry on the ginger cookie.

Decorating around the house and outside, and bringing out some fancy dishes to serve some h'ordoeuvres. Heck, even making the h'ordoeuvres in the first place is a step up and represents the extra effort, like the year I made Sprite's grandmother's Mushroom Turnovers. Yum!

This year, as an extra sparkly effort, I had my daughter, the aspiring esthetician, paint my nails. It is actually homework for her in her course to practice painting nails often. So I requested a Christmas red, with a bit of sparkle for the Christmas season. My accent nail has a layer of silver sparkle and I am all ready for some Christmas events.

Do you do extra things at Christmas to sparkle up your life?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Holiday Reads

Winter is starting early here in PEI, and I've been feeling Christmas-y as a result. I have actually already read a Holiday book or two. There are plenty of great seasonal books that I've read, and some I would like to read. Check out the links to all the Top Ten Tuesday posts at That Artsy Reader Girl, and also check out the future topics.

Also in the holiday season, sprite writes is hosting the Virtual Advent Tour again this year. It is a wonderful way for sharing your holiday traditions, or songs, or ideas, really, anything you like. Sprite links it all up at her blog, and everyday there is a new post. There is lots of days to sign up for, so head to Sprite's to check out the details. I'm on tap for December 6th, and I've participated in the Advent Tour for a long, long time. It's one of my favourite Christmas (or your holiday) traditions. One year, I wrote about the Christmas books by Anne Perry, and another year, I focused on the Christmas editions of my favourite mystery series'.

My True Love Gave to Me (twelve holiday stories by young adult authors)
I've had this one I've had for a while from the library, and I am slowing reading the stories. I can't wait to get to the Jenny Han story as I've read her To All the Boys series throughout this year, and they are delightful.

A Christmas Message by Anne Perry
I've read many of Perry's Christmas novellas, as she has come up with a great concept - using minor characters from her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Victorian police mystery series, stand-alone mysteries occur at Christmas. They are light, with characters that are somewhat familiar. This was my least favourite of the bunch, as much was set in Bethlehem, and there was too much religion and philosophy for my taste, not enough murder, although there was one murder. I'll still listen to or read another in this series, as they are quite short, but I hope the next one I read is better.

Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber
I read this holiday book last year, and it was my first Macomber book ever. Sadly, probably my last, as I spent most of the book being annoyed by the characters and the gaping plot points. But to be fair, I don't read a lot of romance books for exactly this reason, and it was kinda fun to yell at the characters, like a Hallmark Christmas movie. It was alternately narrated by a male and female, and one of the voices did an annoying voice for the 'comic' character, which didn't help. Oh well, now I don't have to read any more Macomber books, and she is very prolific!

Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan
Now this was a great Christmas read from last year. I picked this up at Indigo last year, purely based on the pretty cover and the simple description. I'm sure it had nothing to do with me living on an Island as well! This was set on an island off Scotland, and is part of a series (yay!) by an author who writes a nice, character driven style of book, reminding me of Maeve Binchy. Not a romance, not a mystery, just a nice story. I haven't read another Colgan book, but I definitely will.

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell
Here's another book I read last year. A nice, easy read, these Two Festive Short Stories by Rainbow Rowell were very cute. One of them is actually in My True Love Gave to Me, my book from this year. I loved Eleanor & Park by Rowell,

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
This is now a Netflix movie that I haven't seen yet, but I never mind taking the opportunity to recommend this delightful book. Each author wrote a short story, but the three stories are all connected in some way. It has been a long time since I read this, but it left a positive impression on me.

Here's a few new books on my radar:

Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
I was just noticing that I haven't read a Sophie Kinsella book in a long time, and once upon a time I read her new books as soon as they came out. This appears to be the lastest in the Shopaholic series, and I think I might have missed a couple. Kinsella books are so much fun, and I want to get back to reading her delightful books.

Christmas at the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean
I didn't realize this book was newly published, containing five never published Christmas stories? Dave Cooks the Turkey is one of the funniest stories ever! It's hard to believe that it has been almost three years since Stuart McLean died, but at least his writing lives on.

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis
What is it about the British and their Christmas stories? This looks like it could have been one of the plot lines from Love, Actually, which is one of my favourite Christmas movies.
"Following a year in the life of a twenty-something British woman who falls hard for her London flat mate"

That's it for books from this year and last, and a few potential Christmas books. Here's a post I did last year of some of my favourite Christmas books. Some pretty awesome reads on that list!

Sunday, December 1, 2019


Week 5: (Nov. 25 to 29) – New to My TBR (Rennie of What’s Nonfiction): It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book

Another successful Nonfiction November in the books. I didn't get exploring other sites as much as I would have liked, but I did take notice of a few books that look interesting. A few were ones I was wondering about, but getting a rec from the bloggers is just the nudge needed to add the book to the ole TBR list.

Histories by Sam Gugliani  found at Rather Too Fond of Books             
Histories was the fiction book paired with Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon, which also looks good. Both are set in hospitals with Histories being interconnected short stories all set in a hospital and Breaking and Mending being a memoir of a junior doctor. I read Five Patients by Michael Crichton many, many years ago and loved it. Crichton would go on to create the great medical drama, ER.

Bad Science books found at Whatsnonfiction:

The Angry Chef: Bad Science and the Truth about Healthy Eating by Chef Anthony Warner

Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks, by Ben Goldacre 

I've seen Bad Science listed before, and I still want to read it. Having it paired with another science book related to healthy eating makes it sound even better.

Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett (from mindjoggle )

I  listened to two Ann Patchett books this year, and both were very good - Commonwealth, and The Dutch House. Years ago I read Bel Canto, and State of Wonder, and I am realizing that Patchett is an excellent author - solid, interesting reads. So being reminded that Patchett has a nonfiction book was timely.

Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited by Paula and Elyse ( from thefictionaddiction )

I watched the movie on CNN about the triplets separated in New York who then eventually meet as late teenagers. It's a great movie, that turns more and more horrific and the details are all revealed. So a book following the same type of story would be very fascinating to read. Why are twins so intesting?

Three Women  by Lisa Taddeo  (from novelvisits )

I've seen Three Women on my audiobook libary, and so reading a great review moves it up the list a little bit. It also has a long lineup at the library, also a good sign of a popular book.

Inheritance: A Memoir of Geneology, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro (from Sara's Bookshelves )

Similar to the separated twins idea, Inheritance is about the author finding out about who her father was.