Living With a Book Addict: Baking With a Book Addict

IMG_20131219_212051I have a confession: this post has nothing to do with books.  It does, however, have everything to do with cookies.  Tons and tons of cookies.  You see, for the past week Kim has been baking non-stop.  I don’t think our oven has been turned off once (don’t freak out: I turn it off at night, I’m just being facetious.)  After a few trips to the store to get a metric ton of flour, sugar, butter (hello Paula Dean!) and other groceries, it’s been a patisserie paradise here.

This all began earlier this month, when Kim’s mom decided to forgo her normal tradition of baking Christmas cookies.  In order to fill the void, Kim has stepped up to be the cookie provider of the family.  Now that we’ve moved (see details here), we have a much larger kitchen in which to do the baking.  So far, we’ve made oatmeal raisin, oatmeal scotchies (raisins replaced with butterscotch pieces), snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, jelly thumb print, and lemon squares.  There is now a constant rumble of the Kitchen Aid mixer whirring to go along with all the wonderful smells of cookies in the air.

So far, I’ve brought cookies to work, we’ve given them to Kim’s family, and plan on giving more to my family.  That will then leave only 10,000 dozen left (kidding), so we had some friends over last night to help with the baking and eating.  It was a lot of fun, and to be honest I lent my skills to drink mixing instead of baking for the evening.  When I am conscripted to help with the baking, my talents are limited to forming the dough into balls and putting them on the cookie sheets.  Real 1st grade stuff, I know.  But, it needs to get done, so I’m happy to help.

And, all jokes aside, I hope this becomes more of a tradition for us.  It brings a bit more joy to the holiday season and makes me happy to see Kim taking up the reins of this tradition from her family with such enthusiasm.  She does a great job!  Also, as an added benefit I get to test my body’s abilities to produce insulin in mass quantities (sorry, had to throw at least one science joke in.)  Speaking of holiday traditions, let us know below what you like to do during the holiday season!  Baking?  Volunteering?  Gift wrapping?  It’s a time to give back to others and reflect on the year, so I encourage everyone to do something this year.

And, from all of us at Reflections, we wish you all the happiest of holidays and a safe and healthy new year!

#81 A Review of A Darcy Christmas by Amanda Grange, Sharon Lathan, and Carolyn Eberhart

Cover Image A Darcy Christmas is a compilation of three novellas that focus around The Darcy’s and their Christmas experiences.  A Darcy Christmas marks the publishing debut of Carolyn Eberhart, while Amanda Grange and Sharon Lathan are both successful established Jane Austen fan fiction authors.  (Amanda Grange’s other novels include Mr. Darcy’s DiaryCaptain Wentworth’s Diary; while Sharon Lathan’s other novels include Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Loving Mr. Darcy)
Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Carol by Carolyn Eberhart
Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Carol takes place the Christmas before Elizabeth and Darcy are married.  Shortly before Christmas Day Darcy is visited by the spirit of his father.  His father implores him to check his arrogance and pride at the door and treat all people as he treats those in and around Pemberley.  Darcy is told that he will be visited by the three Christmas spirits and to heed their messages if he wishes to have a peaceful afterlife.  The three Christmas spirits visit Darcy and show him Christmas past, present, and future.  Darcy must decide based on the events he is shown whether to change his ways, or be lost forever. 
Carolyn Eberhart did a fantastic job with her debut novella! Her characters were engaging, her storyline, while borrowing from Dickens’ story, was all her own.  She took a classic and made it unique and fitting in her own right.  It was great seeing her take on A Christmas Carol.  Of all the novellas  in this collection this one was my favorite.  It was definitely the most fulfilling of all the stories.  Eberhart is a welcome addition to the world of Jane Austen fan fiction.  I’m eagerly awaiting her next work.
5 out of 5 Stars
Christmas Present by Amanda Grange
In Christmas Present Elizabeth is pregnant with her and Darcy’s first child.  Jane has just given birth to her and Charles’ first born son, and are about to host Christmas at their new estate near Pemberley.  Wishing to see Jane, her family, and her new nephew she convinces Darcy to take her to Jane’s house, promising that if she feels any labor pains they will turn around and return to Pemberley.  Within a few days time the entire Bennet clan, along with the Hurst’s, Caroline Bingley, and Lady Catherine are all at Jane’s home celebrating the holiday with a Christmas ball.  Soon after dancing with Darcy, Elizabeth begins feeling the twangs of child-birth, and soon gives birth to a perfectly healthy baby. 
I felt as though Grange rushed this story.  Many elements are left open (maybe for a future novel) and unfinished.  I understand that what she wrote was a novella, but I’m not sure why she began multiple story arcs if she wasn’t going to complete them.  While I enjoy Grange’s writing style, I do wish there was more to Christmas Present.
3 out of 5 Stars
A Darcy Christmas by Sharon Lathan
Of all the novellas this is definitely the most unique and long ranging!  Each chapter is dedicated to a different Christmas that the Darcy’s experience.  A Darcy Christmas spans the time period from the Christmas prior to Lizzie and Darcy’s engagement through their 23rd Christmas as a married couple.  The chapters are filled with births, deaths, marriages, happy times, and sad ones.  As expected Lathan’s novella is filled with new characters that add to the richness of her imaginative creation. 
Fans of Lathan’s Darcy Saga novels will be glad to know that Lathan stays true to the Christmas’ she’s already written about in her novels, adding extra tidbits to what we already know. I really enjoyed each chapter giving us a small piece of each year of the Darcy’s lives.  It gave sneak peaks of what we can expect from Lathan in the future.  I’m definitely looking forward to the next novel in the Darcy Saga, as A Darcy Christmas left much to be excited for!
4 out of 5 Stars
For more reviews of A Darcy Christmas check out the following: