Author Darien Gee featured in USA TODAY!

My friend and author, Darien Gee is famous! Her book, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society was released yesterday and there was a write up about it in USA TODAY yesterday! Way to go, WOMAN!
Mia King
Picture of author Darien Gee taken from her Facebook Page

You can check out her book on Amazon. Look at how it did on its release day yesterday!

To find out more about Darien and her books, you can visit her website, You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter and Friendship Bread Kitchen and on Facebook


Book release -The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society: A Novel by Darien Gee

Today is the book release of The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society: A Novel by author Darien Gee, who also writes under the name Mia King. Her first novel, Friendship Bread is a tasty fiction book full of Amish Friendship Bread recipes.
This is breaking news! For any author the release date has to be seen as giving birth day when your book is released into the public and from there it will truly have a chance to grow and be shared with many. So today is the birth day of  The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Gee. Will you help it grow? Check out some fo the early reviews on Amazon. It is already ranked and off to a great start. 

(I'm in the back 3rd from the right and Darien is next to me, 4th from the right)

I know the author personally and have been behind the scenes helping her since before the actual release of Friendship Bread 4/5/11. I'm excited to say that little old me is mentioned in both her books (my few seconds of fame ;). I am also the Friendship Bread Kitchen Assistant where I help her with the tasty website, Friendship Bread Kitchen. Stop over and check out the over 250 recipes made and tested in the Friendship Bread Kitchen by Darien and I as well as from Kitchen Friends all over the world. A few of my favorites and I included the link to the first recipe which will take you to the Friendship Bread Kitchen. The other ones are there too, but I will be posting those recipes on my blog this week in celebration of the release of her new book.
Recipe is in her first book, Friendship Bread. I took the photo.

 Oreos and Cream Amish Friendship Bread made into muffins
 Amish Friendship Bread Basic Cookie
Amish Friendship Bread Mocha Chip Scones

The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society (ALSS) book is set in Avalon population 4,243 and is a small river town in Illinois. The book is about a group of women who form deep friendships and sharing together, bringing in other women into their circle by way of scrapbooking. The leader and founder of ALSS, Bettie shares her passion of scrapbooking and wants everyone to preserve their precious memories. Through this group, the women share their past and work together to help one another move into their future by dealing and working through their life issues. 

Just like Friendship Bread, ALSS is chocked full of carefully developed characters which Gee shares with us in this town of Avalon. The book made me laugh, shout for joy, shed tears of sadness as well as tears of joy. Gee crafts the novel to draw the reader into Avalon and be a part of the town which is why I felt all those emotions reading the book. I truly felt the emotions of the characters. Now this, friends, is a perfect example of a book full of developed characters. 

If you order the book today, on its release day 1/29/13 you can get free goodies from the author! Check out the DEAL on Friendship Bread Kitchen website.  In case you are wondering, yes you can read this book if you haven't read the first book, Friendship Bread and if you aren't into scrapbooking ;) Did I mention the book has recipes? I love fiction books with recipes which Darien Gee and Mia King books always include.

I'll leave you with a few quotes on early reviews of the book.

“In a gathering of women there will always be compelling stories. Throw in a love of craft and these stories take on a whole new dynamic. There are shared secrets, support, encouragement, and love as the Avalon Ladies come to terms with the past and boldly step forward into the future.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber

“A three-hanky nod to It’s a Wonderful Life. Gee gets the unapologetically schmaltzy tone just right with the irresistible premise that we can love the impossible. A surefire book club hit.” Publisher’s Weekly

“Truly charming! You’ll want to read and then immediately share with your best friends (and then start a scrapbooking society of your own!). Darien Gee writes about friendship and family with depth, grace and heart.”—Sarah Jio, New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March


Menu Plan Monday linky party

Did you make a new year resolution to make a weekly menu plan? How is that going? Do you use your recipes or get ideas from other blog linky party? Check out Crystal's new ebook for menu planning tips if you need a little help along the way. Click here to visit How to Meal Plan eBook.
menu plan

Wednesday-Beef and Snow Pea Stir Fry

Thursday- Buffalo Chicken Sandwich for the family and Asian Black Bean Burger for ME (from The Lean Green Bean)!

Friday-MYOP: Make Your Own Pizza


I didn't get to feature anyone this week. I will take someone from last week and this weeks to both be featured next week! 

Please share anything FOOD related below. I would love to see your menu plans, recipes, etc. Few days left to enter my Gooseberry Patch Cookbook Giveaway! I'd LOVE for you to sign up for my new newsletter! 

Thanks to all who stopped in and even linked up! Check out 3 Boys and A Dog menu and another link up at OrgJunkie.


Live Lean Eat Green Healthier Lifestyle Inspiration

Are you trying to live a Healthier Lifestyle? Do you Live Lean and Eat Green? This is week 4 of the 52 Weeks of Inspiration and I'm featuring Lindsay, a blogger who has inspired me the past year through her blog The Lean Green Bean- Live Lean. Eat Green.
healthier lifestyle
 Asian Black Bean Burger (recipe below)

Here are the Q & A's that I asked Lindsay! I hope you get inspired!

How did you or what inspired you to get healthy? 
I used to be a very picky eater. Until my junior year of college I pretty much lived on bagels, Cheerios and mac and cheese. When I was younger it wasn't noticeable because I was an athlete and was always moving around. I studied abroad in Australia my junior year and gained a bunch of weight. When I got home, I started paying more attention to what I ate. I graduated from college a semester early and once my then boyfriend/now husband moved into our own apartment, I started really focusing on cooking healthy meals and getting healthy again. I lost the weight I had gained and felt great. I've pretty much maintained ever since. 

Are you a Fitness and/or Health Coach? 
I am a Dietetic Technician, Registered and am currently finishing my dietetic internship. In April, I will take my exam to become a Registered Dietitian. 

How long have you being on a healthier lifestyle journey?
I've always know about the importance of health, eating well and working out but I'd say it's been about 7 years or so since I really started taking it seriously. 

Why do you do it?
Because I feel my best when I'm active, workout and eat well. 
The Lean Green Bean

How do you encourage others to take on a healthier lifestyle?
Through my blog. I share pictures of my food and workouts in hopes that it will inspire others to make positive, healthy changes and choices in their own life. I also went back to school to become a RD so that I can share my knowledge with others.

Can you share a few healthier lifestyle tips?
  • Start small. 
  • Don't expect habits to change overnight. 
  • Make a list of things you want to change and pick one or two to focus on. Once you've got a handle on those, move on to a few more. 
  • Set small, realistic goals that are attainable. 
  • Give it time. Developing healthy habits and losing weight take time! Don't expect an instant fix. 
How can others get involved? What advise would you share with someone who wants to begin eating or exercising?
See above. Start small. If you're not exercising at all, make it a goal to walk for 20 minutes a day. Once that gets easier, add in some weights or some other cardio activities. Choose things you enjoy. Don't do a certain kind of workout just because everyone else is doing it. Find something you enjoy!

Make one healthy choice at a time. If you're not eating breakfast, start there. If you're not getting enough veggies, focus on adding 1-2 extra servings every day. If you're eating too many sweets, find some healthier options like fruit for dessert. Clean out your fridge and pantry to get rid of things that tempt you and restock with healthier options!

What do you like to do for FUN?
Crossfit! My hubby and I also enjoy hiking and walking our dogs...and I love cooking, taking pictures and afternoon naps :)

Share something about your family if you want!
My hubby and I live in the suburbs with our furry family that includes 2 dogs and 2 cats. We rescued them all from shelters and love them to pieces.

Who inspires YOU?
My readers. Hearing about all the people out there that are working so hard to eat better and get healthy is motivation for me to keep setting a good example for them!

Here is Lindsay's recipe for the delish Asian Black Bean Burgers. This recipe is on my MUST DO LIST. 
The Lean Green Bean

Check out all the inspiration on her blog, The Lean Green Bean. She can be found sending awesome pics including her exercising photos on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Check out Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3 of the 52 Weeks of Inspiration!

Join my mailing list so you can keep getting inspired and not miss a post or recipe!


75 Valentines Day Ideas

Here is a collection of 75 Valentines Day ideas that I have collected over on Pinterest. I LOVE U Valentines Day is the name of the board that I am featuring today. 
valentines crafts

Share Valentines Day ideas in the comments and I'll come visit & pin on Pinterest. anything that you want to in the linky! I would especially love for you to share your favorite Pinterest board and Pinterest ID so that I can follow you back! My featured board is Valentines Day Ideas I Love U


Monday Menu Plan and National Soup Month

We are still celebrating National Soup Month. How about you? Share your soup recipes, menu plans and other recipes in the blog hop.
When I make soup, I freeze the leftovers so that they can be served for lunch or for quick meals. Sometimes, depending on how much soup is leftover I will make a sandwich or grilled cheese sandwich to go with the soup. I love cooking in the cold months!

Monday-Manhattan Clam Chowder
Tuesday-Easiest Chili Ever
Wednesday-Mexican Taco Soup and Tortilla Soup
Thursday-Easiest Potato Soup EVER
Friday-Tomato Ravioli Soup
Weekend-Tomato Soup *quick and easy* 

Weekend snack- Our Family World shared a Healthy Superbowl Snack

Do you have any favorites? Link them up below so that I can come check them out. If you have a Soup board on Pinterest, link that up, too! You can check out my board and some of the soups that I have collected at Soups & Stews.

I've linked up at OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday link up and always check out 3 Boys and a Dog menus. I will pin some of the post on Pinterest as I have time! If you do pin my post, please leave a comment and I will be sure to get yours pinned. Thanks!

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Weight Loss Inspiration {Inspiring People}

There are so many inspiring people around me each day. I want to share their stories with you this year! Check in each week and get a dose of inspiration with a side of weigh loss. 
If you have been following my blog, you know that I'm on a healthier lifestyle journey. In April 2012 many factors came together at one time to make me jump off the couch and sign up at my local gym. 
When I started this journey I could barely walk 4 times around the walking track (18 times around is 1 mile). After that first day I told myself that I was going to walk off my weight and made it my goal to go farther and farther each time. Well 9 months later I have walked off over 60 pounds and 12 bags of clothes! I took the clothes to charity. I no longer need them.
For week #3 of my 52 weeks of Inspiration I am featuring this bag of clothes. I know that sounds crazy but I look at this picture when I'm feeling like I don't want to go to the gym. I know I can't stop walking or working out. These clothes are gone and they aren't coming back! 
My goal for 2013 is to get rid of 60 more pounds and I will do it. I have had help from my local gym, LifeKrazeBobHarper#mamavation and my newest inspiration- Jullian Michaels (more on her later!) Not only have these 4 things inspired me but so have local friends and various blogs and websites. I will keep featuring these each week for 2013. I hope you get inspired, too!
What inspires you? I'd really love to know! Feel free to leave a comment and/or a link below. I would LOVE it if you signed up for my brand new Newsletter! More recipes and inspiration coming soon! 


Gooseberry Patch 101 Farmhouse Favorites Giveaway & Recipes

Gooseberry Patch has a new cookbook! I have taste tested recipes in their new 101 Farmhouse Favorites Cookbook. Here are some of our family favorites!
My favorite cookbook publisher is Gooseberry Patch. I have loved them since I held my first cookbook back when I was a teenager (over 20 years ago.) Feel free to search around for many of their recipes and cookbook reviews on my blog. Today I'm sharing with you one of their newest, 101 Farmhouse Favorites. 

This cookbook has 101 recipes with 101 photos for each recipe. Here are the chapters and a few of my favorites:

1-Bread of Day Breakfasts-Blueberry French Toast, Baked Shrimp Grits, Impossibly Easy BLT Pie

2-Garden-Fresh Soups & Salads-Tomato Garbanzo Salad, Summer in a Bowl Salad, Cabbage Tomato Slaw, Fresh Kale Salad

3-Family Dinner Favorites-Just Perfect Sloppy Joes, Cayenne Fried Chicken, Shrimp Creole, Lighter Than Air Potato Rolls, Bacon Florentine Fettuccine

4-Blue-Ribbon Desserts-Candy Apple Cheesecake, Blue Goose Pie, Coconut Cream Pie, Peanut Butter Apple Crisp, Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Hucklebucks

5-Classic Country Canning-Garlic Dill Pickles, Old Time Corncob Jelly, Amish  Hot Pepper Rings, Quick Picnic Pickles, Aunt Ruth's Dilly Beans, Mom's Peach Butter

Shrimp Creole pg. 55

1/3 c. shortening
1/4 c. all purpose flour
2 lbs uncooked large shrimp, peeled & cleaned
1 c. hot water
2 8oz can tomato sauce
1/2 c. green onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c. green pepper, chopped
1 slice lemon
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
cooked rice

Melt shortening in a large stockpot over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook until it starts to brown. Add remaining ingredients except cooked rice. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Spoon over cooked rice. Serves 4-6.

Kitchen Notes- I try and follow direction as written but I had to make a few changes to suit my family. I used red, orange & yellow peppers instead of green. I also added in 1 lb of chicken cut into pieces because some do not like shrimp. FYI- when you do the shortening (I used butter) and flour mixture at the beginning, that is called a Roux. We loved this recipe and will make it again.

Blue Goose Pie p. 71

2c. fresh gooseberries
2 1/2 c. fresh blueberries
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. cornstarch
2 9 inch pie crust
1 T. butter, sliced

In a bowl, mix together berries, sugar, salt, cinnamon and cornstarch; toss to coast berries well. Line a 9" pie plate with one pie crust. Pour berry mixture into crust; dot with butter. Cover with top crust; seal and vent crust. Bake pie at 450 degrees for 50 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Serves 8.

Kitchen Notes- You can use out shapes into your crust, weave it or leave it whole.

I have more to share with this cookbook so check back frequently for more recipes!

You want to win one of these cookbooks? I'm take the easy to enter approach here.

TO ENTER: (ends Feb. 1st)

Mandatory Entry #1- Please Subscribe to our newsletter. It is new! It just requires an email! Once you click to subscribe you have to confirm it in your email. *Soon I will have freebies to give you through this and a giveaway just for my email subscribers.

BONUS Entry optional- What is your favorite family recipe? If you have a link, please leave it below.

{National Soup Month} Share your favorite recipes

Soups rule my menu during crisp Fall days and harsh Winter nights. January is National Soup Month which must be the peak soup month. We do not have a particular favorite and I'm always looking for new recipes.
Here are 10 of our favorite soup recipes which all get made many times from October through March. Do you have any favorites? Link them up below so that I can come check them out. If you have a Soup board on Pinterest, link that up, too! You can check out my board and some of the soups that I have collected at Soups & Stews.

Pizza Soup 
Middle Eastern Spicy Lentil Soup
White Chili
Manhattan Clam Chowder
Chicken Veggie Thai Soup
Bean & Ham Soup
Squash and Spinach Soup
Potato Broccoli Cheese Soup, quick & easy 
Creole-Style Red Bean Soup with Shrimp
Italian Sausage & Bean Soup

and bonus ones not in the photo-
Easiest Chili Ever
Mexican Taco Soup and Tortilla Soup
Easiest Potato Soup EVER
Tomato Ravioli Soup
Tomato Soup *quick and easy* 

Want to join in the FUN today?

HOW TO JOIN THE LINKY Party (all optional)

1) Pin this Party Post to Pinterest- Please! 

2) Link up your most clicked on post, most followed Pinterest board, favorite pinterest pin, etc...anything goes.

3) Add your Pinterest name to the linky.

4) In turn pin a few things on the linky.

Please follow my boards on Pinterest- SusieQTpies Scraps of Life and cohost  Crystal and Company and  3 Boys and a Dog. We do follow back.


Comfort Foods and Monday Menu Plan linky

What are some of your favorite, go to comfort foods for the winter months? Besides celebrating National Soup Month I've included a few comfort foods below. Let me know if you add any of these into your family weekly menu plan.
Please share any of your recipes, comfort food recipes and menu plans below! Link up as many as you want. If you have a weekly food linky of any sort you are more than welcome to share that in my linky, too! I always welcome this.
Monday - Love the Baked Taco and Menu Plan by Savor This Moment from last week! It is so worth checking out! 

Tuesday- Easy Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs

Wednesday - Steak Stroganoff (I do both chicken & steak and for some reason I never put up a photo. I will this week!)

ThursdaySkillet Chicken Cordon Bleu 

Friday -Homemade Honey Pizza Crust (Honey BBQ Chicken Pizza)

Weekend- I don't plan much on the weekends. We are just so busy and almost eat out at least once. I do want to try this Tomato Mushroom Oven Omelette linked up last week by Semi-Homemade Mom. It looks delish and perfect to make for the weekend! 

More weekend fun-Are you a tea drinker? Then check out this fun series Tea in Two Thousand and Thirteen: Week One by blogger 1nOnlyAnnas Pieces of Life

Link up any of your recipes or menu plans below! I will pick a few of my favorites to feature next week! I do appreciate you linking up and I can't wait to try some of your recipes!

I've linked up at OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday link up and always check out 3 Boys and a Dog menus. I will pin some of the post on Pinterest as I have time! If you do pin my post, please leave a comment and I will be sure to get yours pinned. Thanks!
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