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Return to the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard


First came The Little French Guesthouse, then came Return to the Little French Guesthouse! It begins a few days after Emmy's return to La Coeur des Roses, the villa she had accepted the role of manager for. She has quite a learning curve since the person doing much of her job before her left abruptly and she has never worked in the hospitality industry before.

Despite the dialogue that left much to be desired, I couldn't stop reading once I started. It wasn't an entirely joyful read, as most of it is a comedy of errors of sorts surrounding La Coeur des Roses. It is a quick, fairly light, and entertaining read that will make you really want to book a trip to the south of France. There is also a wide array of supporting characters that you can't help but love: Rupert, Alain, Sophie, Elle, and Jonathan. They almost need their own spin-off!

4/5 Stars

Garden Spells and First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen


Garden Spells

Garden Spells is a magical story about a small town in North Carolina. Sydney is back after 10 years of being away. She surprises her sister, Claire, not only by returning to get back on her feet but by also bringing her daughter, Bay. Claire still lives in the Waverly family house, keeps to herself, and works magic in the kitchen, literally. Evanelle is overwhelmed with desires to give items to people that they will somehow need in the future. Bed sheets, a lighter, two quarters, and a mango slicer are all fun things she hands out over the course of the book. This is a cozy and fun story about everyone learning to be comfortable with their true selves.

4/5 Stars

First Frost

Garden Spells and First Frost are almost the type of books I look for when I search out witchy books; I'm as into the spell part but all of the other earthy things. Like Garden Spells, First Frost is quietly magical and about people growing into themselves. It takes place 10 years after Garden Spells, with the story focusing on Sydney's daughter. Claire's daughter hasn't achieved full Waverly status yet so she doesn't have a huge part. I really enjoyed this book; it makes me want to get into the kitchen!

4/5 Stars



Back in April I went on a work trip to Wisconsin and Illinois for the 10-year-anniversary of the company I work for. I never thought I would ever have a job that I would get to travel with and while my job, per se, doesn't involve travel, the company is based in Wisconsin and I work in a satellite office. I flew out there for a week of training and I went again in April. It looks like I'll be going about once a year and that is totally fine with me :-)

It was a quick trip - four days including travel time. We flew in Thursday, had a company meeting on Friday, drove to and spent the day in Chicago on Saturday with the anniversary dinner that night, and flew back to Seattle on Sunday. I spent most of the day Saturday just wandering and walking by myself, doing exactly what I wanted to do. I took an architectural boat tour, walked to the French Market, took an Uber up to Wicker Park and Myopic Books, and headed back to the hotel for a few hours of realhousewivesguiltypleasure watching to decompress. One thing I really enjoy about Chicago is how flat it is. You can walk everywhere! It's not so fun doing that in Seattle. Anyway, on to some midwestern architecture...

On Friday night, a big group of us went out to Milwaukee Ale House. Both the food and the beer was really, really good.

Gotta love those team-building games. My team won and my prize was this giant Kit Kat.

Check out the address on this church!

And on to my beloved French Market!

You feel like you're on a Parisian sidewalk just looking at it, no? No!?

Myopic Books. I bought Outcast Volume 1, A Handmade Life, and I think something else but I can't remember.

WANT AGAIN. L to R: chocolate covered vanilla, vanilla, CARROT CAKE, salted caramel, green tea, red velvet.

Before the partay.

 Pretty much every time I'm in a bar situation I ask the bartender for something fruity. This time it got me a mangotini, and soon everyone in the room had ordered one. So good!

Sunburn from the architecture tour. It could have been worse.

The view from the "club" at my hotel. You can imagine how fun it was to try to go to sleep with a club in your hotel.

 Thanks for reading!

5 Great Pinterest Recipes

5 Pinterest recipes that have made it into our rotation:

1. Chicken Fricassee. In the middle of a bite the first time I made this, Joe asked me to make it again. I've probably made it 4 or 5 times now and we can't get enough. I've taken to calling it "Freaky Chicken" due to the funny name and Nora going wild after having a bite of the chicken.

2. Jean-François Piège's Childhood Cake. The first time I made this I ended up throwing the batter away because it separated after adding the orange zest and juice. I asked Clotilde from Chocolate and Zucchini, who posted the recipe, and she said to keep on going and it should turn out fine. It did and it was so, so tasty. I can't wait to make it again.

3. Spiced Carrot and Ground Beef Stir-fry. Another Chocolate and Zucchini recipe! This is so fresh and healthy; the spices are perfect and I love the pairing of carrots and beef. Perfect for making at the beginning of the week for work lunches.

4. Soft-boiled Egg with Bread Fingers. This was my first time having a soft-boiled egg. I went to my favorite grocery store, bought a cute little le cruset egg cup, and boiled up an egg. I love Clotilde's (OH LOOK A THIRD FROM C&Z) directions include, "Enjoy the unique sensation of that spoon scraping against the shell." I'm still playing with times to find the perfect balance of whites cooked with the yolk still runny. I also need to pick up some little spoons that will comfortably sit inside the egg. I've made this recipe at least 10 times.

5. The Ultimate Guide to Stir-frying. Guys. This is amazing and the most helpful infographic EVER. We like the basic sauce the best. I think I've made this one three or four times and have loved it each time.

Bonus! Shrimp Étouffée. I love expanding my knowledge of southern dishes! I picked this one out because for my book club this month we're reading Interview with the Vampire (I'm excited to read my first Anne Rice book!) and we always cook festive dishes for the meeting. I made this on Monday and it was really good. I ended up using only one pound of shrimp (the recipe calls for 2 lbs) because it was $20/lb; it ended up working just fine. This was a bit spicy for me but not too much, I was still able to eat what I needed to to feel satisfied. I can see making this recipe again.

Have you found any good new recipes lately?

Easy Bake Coven By Liz Schulte


Selene is 26, a witch, and the owner of a yoga studio. One day a man shows up that not everyone can see. It turns out that she is a half-elf and she doesn't have any of her memories from before she "became human." She is drawn back into the fae world to try to settle a disturbance between the Elf King and his people. But what is she forgetting? She tries to remember while the son of the Elf King and the Rebels try to get her on their side.
Overall, I really enjoyed this audiobook. There were only a few moments of "nooo don't do that!" Despite liking it, I sense a messy and anxious future for the book and probably won't read more in this series.

4/5 Stars