chocolate

Children’s Readathon – Robbie Cheadle’s Biscuit Art Sailing Boats

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I’m hosting a children’s book readathon in the month of August 2018. We’re reading 2 or 3 books each week ranging from children’s pictures to young adult novels, including a few award winners and authors who blog. We’re currently in our third week reading 2 young adult books: Charlotte’s Web and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. To learn more, check out the main page at the Children’s Book Readathon.

Throughout the month, we’ve highlighted books from Robbie Cheadle, a wonderful and talented author who has at least a dozen extraordinary books she co-writes and co-designs with her children. Check out previous posts on her author spotlight and latest short story. Today, we’re in for a special treat as Robbie shares with us some baking tips… and knowing how amazing all the dessert photos look from her blog and books, this is one we’re all gonna want to read and learn. BISCUIT ART! SAIL BOATS! HOW FUN!

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(a preview of the book cover we’re reading in two weeks!)

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(Biscuit Art from Robbie!)

I discovered during my days as a Sunday School teacher, that small children love biscuit art. It is easier to co-ordinate in a classroom than a baking activity as no baking is required. I started making up all sorts of different designs for fun objects that children could make with their parents at home or at school under the guidance of a teacher.

One of Michael and my favourite designs is this sailing boat which is made from finger and wafer biscuits.

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I find that royal icing works best for making biscuit art as it dries up hard quite quickly. You can find my recipe video to make royal icing here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYuknMJYNCI&feature=youtu.be. I spoon a few scoops of royal icing into a sealable plastic sandwich bag. When I am ready to use the icing, I nip a small bit off one of the corners of the plastic bag and it works very well as an icing bag. A few children can share one bag of icing.

To make this fun sailing ship you need the following: 1 finger biscuit, 1 wafer biscuit, 1 square Licorice Allsorts broken apart, 4 Smarties and a small quantity of royal icing.

To make the boat, cut the wafer biscuit in half from one corner to the opposite corner. Trim one of the halves to make it shorter as per the picture. These will be the sails. Squirt a thin line of royal icing along the long edge of the larger sail. Attach the smaller sail to the larger one (straight sides together). Cut one of the coloured square pieces of the Licorice Allsort in half and then attach it to the larger sail just above where the smaller sail ends. Let this harden for a few minutes.

Squirt a thin line of royal icing along the bottom of the joined sails and attach them to the finger biscuit boat. Hold it in place for 10 to 20 seconds until it is firmly stuck. Attach the Smarties as decorations.

Michael made a wonderful sailing boat [better than mine]. He had a great idea of using a jelly baby for a sailor. This is his creation:

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Michael also added a rudder [How will you steer it otherwise, Mom? – how indeed [grin!]

 

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So who’s gonna be the first to make one and share it with everyone on the blog???

 

About Me
I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS.  My second novel, Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/FatherFigure.

Beyond these two books, I have a number of short stories, poems and other novels in various shapes and forms. I also read A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, Tags, Awards, Age/Genre/Book Reads and Author Spotlights, as well as the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge.

You can also access my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Children’s Readathon – Robbie Cheadle’s Fondant Art

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I’m hosting a children’s book readathon in the month of August 2018. We’re reading 2 or 3 books each week ranging from children’s pictures to young adult novels, including a few award winners and authors who blog. We’re currently in our second week reading 3 books that have either won the Caldecott or Newbery honors. To learn more, check out the main page at the Children’s Book Readathon.

Throughout the month, we’ve highlighted books from Robbie Cheadle, a wonderful and talented author who has at least a dozen extraordinary books she co-writes and co-designs with her children. Check out previous posts on her author spotlight and latest short story. Today, we’re in for a special treat as Robbie shares with us some baking tips… and knowing how amazing all the dessert photos look from her blog and books, this is one we’re all gonna want to read and learn. And a little secret… I love hibiscus flowers either in a pot on my terrace or dried and in a margarita!

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(a preview of the book cover we’re reading in two weeks!)

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How to make a hibiscus flower out of fondant

(from Robbie)

Flowers are one of my favourite things to make as decorations for cakes. The look so pretty if you get them right and they have the delicate and subtle appeal of the real thing.

My Mother is turning 80 years old in October this year and we are having a party for her. She decided she wanted a Polynesian theme. I am making the five-tiered birthday cake which will be a surprise for her and I plan to decorate it with 80 fondant hibiscus flowers. As fondant flowers take time to make I have started making the flowers. My plan is to make about 10 a week so I will have them all ready in time for the party.

To make a hibiscus flower out of fondant you need a few items as follows: fondant (I buy bulk 15 kg buckets but you can buy 1 kg packets in most supermarkets), powdered food colouring in the colour/s of your choice, sugar glue, a ball tool, a shell tool (you can use a cocktails stick but it takes longer), silver foil cut into squares, a large rose flower cutter and white sugar.

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Colour the white fondant the colour of your choice. You must use powder food colouring or the fondant will go sticky. Roll a medium size ball of coloured fondant and flatten it between your palms. Lay it in the plate of corn flour and turn it over so that both sides are covered.

Roll the fondant out with a rolling pin on a sheet of wax paper. The corn flour will stop the fondant from sticking. You need to roll the fondant out as thinly as possible.

Use the rose cutter to cut out three rose shapes. Don’t cut out too many shapes as the fondant will dry out and you can’t work with it. Use the shell tool or cocktail stick to draw the lines detail on the petals. Use the ball tool to go around the edges of the petals and frill and flute them as per the picture.

Shape the square of silver foil into a bowl shape and lay the hibiscus flower shape inside it to dry. Pour some white sugar into a bowl and colour it sunflower yellow. Break off a small ball of yellow fondant and roll it into an elongated triangle shape. Cover the triangle shape with edible glue and roll it in the sugar mixture. Glue the flower pistil into the centre of the hibiscus flower, the sugar creates the look of the stamens.

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Leave the flower to dry completely. The last step is to use a paint brush and some powder food colouring to add depth to the flower by dusting the centre of the petals with the food colouring. Blow on the flower gently to get rid of any excess food colour.

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These are my completed flowers in yellow and pink. I will leave them in the silver foil cups until I use them for my cake.

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So who’s gonna be the first to make one and share it with everyone on the blog???

 

About Me
I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS.  My second novel, Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/FatherFigure.

Beyond these two books, I have a number of short stories, poems and other novels in various shapes and forms. I also read A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, Tags, Awards, Age/Genre/Book Reads and Author Spotlights, as well as the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge.

You can also access my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Book Review: Playing with Bonbon Fire by Dorothy St. James

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Why This Book 
I belong to a cozy mystery group that offers a few giveaways to read ARCS each month. I won Playing With Bonbon Fire by Dorothy St. James and picked it up in between my Agatha Christie Readathon books this week. I adore cozy mysteries, have a sweet spot for chocolate, and am growing more interested in living in the southern part of the US. Good combo, eh?
onbon

Approach & Style 
It took me 3 hours to read a hard copy of this ~335 page novel, the second in the Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery series. It is told in 1st person point-of-view with the perspective focused solely on the main character, Charity Penn (see more on her later). It has a typical cozy feel with easy flow from chapter to chapter, dialog, and descriptions. I usually read books in order, but this had a rush due date to deliver a review, so I couldn’t go back to the first one. I think it’s important to read this series in order, as there are details about the character in the first book that would have been helpful, but still, it was a quick and fun read.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Charity Penn, known simply as Penn because she dislikes her first name, inherited the chocolate shop from her maternal grandmother. She was abandoned my her mother at birth, delivered to her rich but seemingly difficult or abrasive father and his family. She grew up feeling alone and isolated, but is starting to develop a better relationship with her half-sister, Tina. Penn hasn’t quite adapted to cooking and running the bonbon shop, but she has support from her late grandmother’s friends and wants to make the woman proud. In this caper, Tina sends ex-boyfriend, Bixby, to help sing with his band at the town’s festival, as it will help cement Penn in a more admired role. The town hasn’t quite warmed up to her yet, and her grandmother’s other children don’t believe she’s really one of them or should have inherited the shop. All she wants is to find her mother who disappeared years ago. Bixby suddenly fights with another band at the festival over rights to a song, and then the current song owner winds up dead. Penn’s mother’s history is tied up in this mystery and it all comes to a head in a big scene at the end of the book. She now knows who her mother is!

Key Thoughts 
It’s a good example of a typical cozy mystery with a few standout moments, including the connections and mysteries surrounding Penn’s family (both her mother’s and her father’s sides), the bonds she has with a few of her late grandmother’s friends helping to transition the store, and the romances she could potentially have with some of the men in the town. I like Penn’s personality and style and she seems to have a fair balance of when to push and when to back away in terms of investigating any crimes. I like that there’s only one or two recipes so we don’t lose too much page space to non-story items. I also enjoyed the descriptions of how she works in the bakery preparing food and securing the chocolate beans from a remote South American jungle.

The mystery was medium-complex with a few red herrings and several paths to trace before landing at the true culprit. It kept me guessing most of the way through and even had me traveling down a wrong path. One of the issues I had was not knowing a few people’s ages, so I could never be sure if they were a candidate to be Penn’s mother and/or date someone else. Of course people can date someone a generation older or younger, but it’s not that common in a cozy mystery so I was trying to line it all up. That said, when the details came out, it was believable, but a tad rushed. We stumble upon the criminal and learn some secrets, yet we don’t quite get all the details surrounding the why/how from ~35 years ago when a song was created… but it mostly all fits together. I think it just needed a bit more detail and explanation, but that could be coming in the next book in the series. I’m open-minded!

Summary 
I’d give the book 3.5 stars and would recommend it as a solid read. I see a lot of potential in the series with the family drama and the chocolate shop, but the ending came a bit too quickly, so there is some room for growth. All in all, I’m glad I read this one and will definitely read more in the series and from this author.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

AWARD: One Lovely Blog

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I was nominated by 5 wonderful bloggers for the One Lovely Blog Award several months ago, but I’m just coming up for air to address a few missed posts in the past… All of these women are truly inspirational and remarkable… you must visit their sites as there is something new and fun every single day. From book reviews to blog tours, learning to laughing, and all the way to recipes, you’re bound to spend hours getting lost in their amazing forums.

Read Rant Rock and Roll

The Cozy Pages

Valerie’s Musings

Two Gals and a Book

Invisible-no-more

Thank you for the nomination!

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RULES:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Share 7 facts about yourself
  3. Nominate 15 bloggers and inform them of the nomination

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SEVEN FACTS ABOUT  ME:

1. I’m making mini-coconut and chocolate cakes for Easter.

cake

 

2. I rarely go to the movie theater. I prefer to wait for them to come out on one of the digital apps / television subscriptions I have.

movies

 

 

3. I am starting up 3 new segments on the blog in April. I can’t wait to launch each post.

blog

 

4. My favorite season is autumn and I can’t wait for it to come back.

autumn

 

5. I’ve been back to eating healthy after the doctor yelled at me said my cholesterol is too high. I want cheese again!!!

cholestero

 

6. I’m going to England and Italy for 3 weeks in May.

ital

 

7. My second novel, Father Figure, will be released in early May, 2018.

novel

 

 

MY NOMINEES:

  1. Rugby843
  2. Carlalovestoread
  3. Thebookwormdrinketh
  4. Malia @ Princessandpen
  5. mnbernardbooks
  6. writercammieadams
  7. watchingthedaisies
  8. bookloverblogs.com
  9. wakinguponthewrongsideof50
  10. createspaceweb
  11. bvitelli2002
  12. carrierubin
  13. countdownto95
  14. theorangutanlibrarian
  15. bewareofthereader

 

Happy reading and tagging!

Jay

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

TAG: Candy Books

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I stumbled upon this tag when perusing the lovely Eva’s blog @ BrilliantlyBookishSite, where she talks about reading, tea and the smell of books! Go visit her site. And it seems that the tag was created by Jessica @bookishserendipity but I can’t find the site. So if you can, please thank her and let me know!

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The Tag

apples

I’m still trying to figure out the point of this tag, but the pictures and the commentary were so fun, I had to participate. I don’t like candy apples, but it’s considered healthy as the note above says, so… I’ll pick a book that’s supposed to be good but that I wasn’t totally thrilled with: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. It was a bit too sour for my taste, and I don’t like the mix of something sweet and healthy and sour and sugary all at once. That’s what the book felt like to me. Too many things going on at once to focus.

milk chocolate

Milk chocolate isn’t too rich, so I don’t want this to be a majorly popular one. It’s also a go-to food when you need a quick sweet bite of something, so it should be an author you can visit frequently. I’d go with an Agatha Christie book, but not her most popular or best ones. So… The Mysterious Affair at Styles because it’s a gateway into her entire canon just like milk chocolate is a gateway into the entire world of available chocolates.

black jelly beans

I happen to like licorice, so I’m choosing a book that’s just OK but not really good enough for everyone to read. I might get some flack for this choice, but I’m going with Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. It’s fine. There’s lots of flavors in the jelly bean family just like there are in his plays. This play is near the bottom of his barrel for me. Just like I would leave this jelly bean flavor for last.

chocolate kisses

I don’t read a lot of romance, so this will be hard for me to choose. If I had to pick one with a great romance, I’d probably choose Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I do love my Estella and Pip. They were nothing extraordinary in the grand scheme of things, but reliable for understanding the basics of love. Just like chocolate kisses. Pair them with peanut butter, you’ve got a winner. Put them in cookies, they are divine. Stick a flavor in the middle, it’s awesome!

Gummy Spiders

Ooh… now we’re talking. I love horror. I am going to pick something I read recently which had some crazy horror in it:  Richard Parker’s Be My Killer. I could have picked some classics, but I want to show something new here. The ways in which the people are murdered by this serial killer are fantastic! I never get scared enough to check under my bed, but this did make me think twice about how much I said on social media!

jumbo lollipop

I struggled with Donna Tartt’s The Secret History the first few times I tried to read it. I put it down for a few months and went back to it, and it still took at least a week, which is long for me. The characters were a bit too full of themselves and quite adrift for awhile. That’s the kind of novel it was, so I had to settle down and go with. Once I did, and the murder plot kicked in, I felt much better. Sort of like how you feel when you take on the jumbo lollipop. I think I can, I think I can, I cannot, I cannot. Put it down. Ok, I have to finish it. Lick Lick Lick. How many licks does it…. wrong candy, Jay. Oh, I’m done. Yay!

Cotton Candy

All the Dr. Seuss books. Just precious. Can read them anytime and still find something new! Cat in the Hat. One Fish, Two Fish. Oh, The Places We’ll Go.

 

Oh no! The tag is over. But I want more candy now…

 

Tag Nominations

  • Since I didn’t officially get tagged, I don’t think I can tag anyone else; however, you can choose to do this one. And if you do, please create a link and pingback to me so I can see your answers. {Except Nel, she’s required to do this one.}

 

About Me

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” Since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life… see how you compare!

Review: The Witches

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The Witches
The Witches by Roald Dahl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Roald Dahl is in my top 3 of favorite children’s authors. I had read a few of his books as a child, but most of my exposure occurred as a young adult and while in college.

The Witches was actually a book I read after the movie with Anjelica Huston was produced. I am a huge fan of her work, and when she appeared in this movie, I was fascinated with the story. I’d definitely recommend reading the book first as the movie takes the story so much further.

For one thing, the book has an unnamed narrator and grandmother, whereas the movie is very detailed on the history of the characters, the various types of relationships, etc. But both were still very good.

It combines so many wonderful things for kids to love — and to be scared of. Witches who can turn little boys into… well, I won’t ruin the surprise. Suffice it to say, this can be a bit of a scary theme.

Dahl’s style is so embracing and captivating. His characters are intense. The creativity and imagination from the works he’s produced over the years is quite astonishing.

The Grand High Witch runs the show here, and she won’t let you forget it. But it’s the grandmother and the boy who may hold all the power. A classic battle of good and evil with some fun thrown in between.

A definite read for kids. And adults. When I was taking a course in college on “Reading in the Elementary School,” I had to read 150 children’s books and produce a portfolio showing a lesson plan for each book. Dahl featured in many of the lessons and books I had chosen, as I tried to incorporate some Newbery and Caldecott winners, but not all. What a joy to re-read these classics as a 21 year old thinking about becoming a teacher. Though I didn’t stay in the teaching field (and possibly regret it to some degree), I will always go back to these books and this time period as one of the favorite parts of life.

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: The Help

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The Help
The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book at least 4 years ago, before I began to more consistently use Goodreads… and now I’m going back to ensure I have some level of a review for everything I read. It’s only fair… if the author took the time to write it, and I found a few hours to read it… I should share my views so others can decide if it’s a good book for them.

That said… did anyone not love or like this book? I’ll have to check out some other people’s reviews… And I wonder how many people just watched the movie… Oh well… I’ll keep this review short and not in my usual format, as probably everyone I’m friends with on here has already read it! 🙂

The only reason I’m not giving it a 5 is because I felt like some of the stories needed a better or stronger ending. I truly think it is a fantastic book, and it makes you really think about what happened in the not-so-distant past… and probably still happening in some parts of the country today. Scary thoughts, but in the end, at least the right people got something back they deserved, even if it wasn’t as much as it should have been.

The characters are very clear and strong. And when there are upwards of 10 to 12 supporting or lead female characters, an author has to spend a tremendous amount of time creating distinct pictures in a readers mind. Stockett did a great job with this task. Each and every one shows you a different personality: leaders and followers, movers and shakers, smart and silly, strong and weak, tolerant and intolerant, thirsty for all the world has to offer and content to stay the same for an entire lifetime.

When a writer can shuffle this many people throughout a story, they have invested themselves into the book, the characters, the setting, the theme, the future.

I haven’t read anything else by this author, but just thinking about this book, and realizing I haven’t looked at her other works makes me want to run to her profile now and pick one. Perhaps that’s what I’ll go do!



About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews