Monday, April 14, 2014

MORE fun things about A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander!

Hi All!

Today I have MORE than one fun thing and yes, I am still chattering away about A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander! Today I bring you a bit about the DRESS, folks it is real! I also have a link for you to check out a REALLY GOOD post on Tamera's own blog. (Ahhh!)

Are you about ready for my review???
I am almost ready to launch it for you!
Carol :)

Tamera's really good blog post....

YES! This dress in THAT photo! Check this out!

Meet the Woman Behind the Cover Dress
by Tamera Alexander

Dear friends,

Have you ever wanted to meet the woman who sewed the dress on a novel cover? Then please allow me to introduce you to Beth Schoenherr, the ever-so-talented seamstress who sewed Eleanor Braddocks dress for the cover of A Beauty So Rare.

Im thrilled that Beth was willing to share about her experience in making the dress, and I love the behind-the-scenes glimpses she shares. I hope you will, too!

Tamera: Where did inspiration for the dress for A Beauty So Rare come from (both the style and color)?

Beth: The style, of course, was determined by the post–Civil War timing of the story.

I believe the cover designer and editors talked about a garden setting and felt pink would look lovely against the backdrop of the green foliage and other flowers, which it does! I then had the fun of finding the right shade of pink to keep it a believable color for the time. Hot pink or neon pink, of course, would never do!

Tamera: Um, no. LOL! Not even Adelicia Acklen could have coerced Eleanor into neon pink! ; )

Tamera: Have you made dresses for photo shoots before?

Beth:I started doing period costumes for men, women, and children in amateur theater in 1999 and then had opportunities in the following years to progress to working in the costume shop of a professional theater. This is my first costume for a photo shoot, however.

Tamera: How cool, Beth. I’m so grateful for your work on this dress. Well done!

Tamera: Do you have an appreciation for period clothing? And if yes, what’s your favorite style of women’s dresses from history?

Beth:I do enjoy period clothing. I don’t think I can pick one favorite style though. I just enjoy the various and changing silhouettes and fabrics throughout the history of fashion.

Tamera: Understandable. I have many "favorites," too!

Tamera: What’s the most challenging dress you’ve created for a cover (and what was most challenging about it)? Also, what has been your most challenging sewing project in general?

Beth: As I mentioned, this is the first dress I have made for a cover. It has been really fun and exciting to create this dress from scratch and then see it on the cover of this book. A new experience I had when making this dress was the cartridge pleats at the back of the skirt. The pattern called for the front and side pieces of the skirt to be pleated to fit into the waistband and left only a five-inch opening in the back of the waistband. Then I had to fit the 50-inch-wide piece of fabric for the back part of the skirt into that five-inch opening. I thought, “There is no way I’m going to get that much fabric into that little space.” But the cartridge pleats worked fabulously at neatly pleating 50” down to 5”.

The most challenging costume I worked on was a waistcoat designed and then cut out by someone else and given to me to sew. Not a single piece matched up in size to its coordinating piece. There was no extra fabric to work with so I had to just rework the pieces I had while making sure the finished garment would still fit the actor it was designed for. Definitely a “make it work” project!

Finally, probably the most thrilling dress I got to make was the first complete dress for a play at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Many of my costumes prior to that had to be remakes of existing dresses or costumes due to tight budgets. But I was graciously given the opportunity to sew, from start to finish, the schoolteacher dress in Little House on the Prairie: The Musical, which premiered at the Guthrie and then went on to tour nationally. It was so exciting to see the professionally-designed dress come together step-by-step and then to see it on stage.

Tamera: Wow, Beth, I bet that was a rewarding experience with Little House on the Prairie: the Musical. Congratulations! I’ve always admired people who know how to sew, and sew well!

Thank you for sharing your talent and time with us––and with the cover of my latest novel.


For more "behind the scenes" glimpses from the photo shoot for A Beauty So Rare,visit Tamera's blog.

What Follows After by Dan Walsh

Meet the Harrisons. Gina, Scott, and their two sons, Colt who is 11, and Timmy who is 6 years old. One family who decided to pretend. They decided to pretend they weren't falling apart to save face in the wake of a relationship on the rocks.  In a time when divorce was less common, it was a shame to say you were separated or divorced, so they hid it. Colt and Timmy played along, what else were they do to? Now, they are paying the price because of their broken relationship. Colt and Timmy are missing, and the world is headed for a war. How do you find missing little boys while the President decides if nukes should be deployed or not? What follows after secrets and lies are exposed? What follows after your children are missing, your marriage broken, your job, your life, and indeed the entire country is practically laid open for all to see? 

I have read several of Dan Walsh's books. This is the best one so far. A moving read about misconceptions, getting to really know the folks around you, forgiveness and healing. If you decide to skip all the rest of his books, I would recommend that you at least read this one. 


What Follows After

Read the First Chapter

In 1962, life was simple, the world made sense, and all families were happy. And when they weren't, everyone knew you were supposed to pretend.
With their family about to collapse, Colt Harrison and his little brother, Timmy, hatched a plan. They would run away from their Florida home, head for their aunt’s house in Savannah, Georgia, and refuse to come home until their parents got back together. But things go terribly, terribly wrong. Colt’s mother and father must come to grips with years of neglect and mistrust in order to recover their sons, their love for one another, and their broken marriage.
In this emotional story set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Dan Walsh takes readers on a journey to rediscover the things that matter most in life–love, truth, and family.
- See more at:

The book link:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hungry? Shortbread with Tamera Alexander time! :) (A Beauty So Rare)

Oh Dear Readers,

Tamera Alexander is spoiling us! :) Our lovely heroine from A Beauty So Rare makes shortbread. That is properly cooked in an iron skillet as all of the other Southern ladies I know and love use. What would we do with out our iron skillets?!?! I don't want to find out, but I do want to make this recipe too. It is a bit different than what I grew up with. Stay tuned because my book review of A Beauty So Rare will be forthcoming and you DO NOT want to miss it! 

Carol :) 

Is there anything that smells as good as homemade shortbread baking in your oven? Oh so scrumptious, and a time-honored recipe. Shortbread is just one of the many recipes included in A Beauty So Rare, the second stand-alone novel in the Belmont Mansion series.

Since Eleanor Braddock (the heroine in A Beauty So Rare) is practical to a fault, she makes her shortbread in a cast-iron skillet, so I did the same. Gives you the best crunchy edges and buttery middles! Wish I could share some with you. But I'll do the next best thing––share the recipe!

Have you ever made shortbread? It's so easy.

Eleanor Braddock's Shortbread
(from A Beauty So Rare)

3/4 cup butter at room temp (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 cup powdered sugar*
1/3 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour (sifted)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, then spray a smaller (8-9 inch) cast-iron skillet very lightly with non-stick cooking spray. You don't need that much spray. Trust me, the butter in the recipe will take care of that.

Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, then the vanilla. Next, work in the flour. You can either mix the flour in with an electric mixer, or you can get into the 1860s way of doing things and knead the dough on a floured surface until it's nice and smooth.

Press the dough into the iron skillet (or you can use a pretty shortbread pan too). Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Cool for about 10-15 minutes then flip the pan over onto a wooden cutting board. Cut the shortbread into pieces while still warm. It "sets up" as it cools. Or serve it warm. Serves 10-12. And it really does. This stuff is rich and delicious. Hope you enjoy. 

And just for fun, a bit of history:
*Did you know that in 1851, Oliver Chase (of NECCO Wafer fame) developed a mill for powdering sugar which he used in his candy making process? But if a cook wanted powdered sugar back then, refined loaf sugar was pounded into a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. So much easier today, huh?

For more recipes and to watch the novel trailer

for A Beauty So Rare, visit

10 Authors - One Big Giveaway! Tamara Alexander's new book is included!

Seriously! How could I not share this in case someone that isn't me gets to win?
I'd be happy for them of course! So check out this free give-a-way before it expires, the link
to enter is below.

Carol :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tamera Alexander & Recipes! How Exciting! :)

Hi Everyone!

My review for this book will be here in a few days, but first I want to share a recipe with you!
Check this out!!!  Consider this post the prequel to my book review. :)

Quiche! I LOVE this stuff! Seriously I do. I have since I was a child. :)
Please TRY to not drool on your keyboard, phone, tablet or iPad device when you see this.

Eleanor Braddocks Savory Custard
(or Ham and Cheddar Quiche)
From the novel A Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander

Most people think quiche originated in France. Not so. Its originally a German dish and people referred to them as "savory custards" in the 19th century. Which is accurate since the egg-based mixture forms a luscious-like custard as it bakes.

In my novel, A Beauty So Rare, the second standalone novel in the Belmont Mansion series, the heroine, Eleanor Braddock, is "a cook with a dream." But her dreams dont quite turn out like she thinks they will. However, her savories always do!

I hope you enjoy this recipe (or "receipt" as recipes were called in the 1800s) from A Beauty So Rare. For more about A Beauty So Rare and for recipes from all my novels, visit

1 old-fashioned unbaked pie crust (recipe below)
1 large onion,diced (or sliced if you like larger pieces of onion in your savory)
2 tablespoonsbutter
1 pound cooked ham diced into cubes (if using bacon, use 8 slices, fried chewy, not too crisp)
8 large eggs
1-1/2 cupsheavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, or to taste (I always go heavier on the pepper, personal preference)
1 3/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Sautéonion in the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Chop the ham into bite-sized pieces (or fry your bacon until chewy, then chop). Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pie crust and press into a deep dish pie plate. A medium-sized iron skillet works wonderfully for making a savory custard (and is what Eleanor used). The crust comes out divine. I just happened to use a pie plate this time.

Whip the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then mix in the onions, ham (or bacon), and cheese. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Cover the pie plate (or skillet) lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the quiche is set and the crust is golden brown. QUICK BAKING TIPS: The quiche may still seem a little loose when you first remove it from the oven, but it will firm up nicely once removed from the heat. Also, watch that lovely crust so the edges dont get overly brown. I use a silicone pie crust shield if that starts to happen. Those are a fabulous invention (but foil crimped around the edges works just as well).

Remove from the oven and allow the savory custard torest for 10 to 15 minutes before diving in. Its so good, and just like Eleanor Braddock would make. Its also delicious left over and warmed up the next day.

Eleanor Braddocks Old-Fashioned Pie Crust
(makes two large crusts)
From the novel A Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander

This is a wonderful crust that Ive been using for years. Eleanor would likely have used lard in place of Crisco (since lard was cheaper than butter in her day), and you may too, if you prefer. Yes, lard is still available on most grocery shelves, although Im pretty sure I just felt you shudder!

This pie crust "freezes beautifully " as they say in Steel Magnolias (instructions on freezing below), so even though I may need only one pie crust at the moment, I always use this recipe and make a second, and freeze it for later. Makes that next pie (or savory custard) go twice as fast!

1 ½cups Crisco (or lard)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
5 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, using a pastry cutter (or two knives will do the job), gradually work the Crisco into the flour for 3 to 4 minutes until it resembles coarse meal. In a smaller bowl, whipthe egg and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of ice-cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir gently until all ingredients are blended well.

Halve the dough. Form 2 evenly-sized balls of dough and place each into large sealable plastic bags. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each to about 1/2 inch thickness to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If youre using the crusts immediately, its still a good idea to let them chill in the freezer for about 15- 20 minutes. Theyll be much easier to work with.)

When youre ready to roll the dough for your crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes (if its frozen). On a well-floured surface, roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough if its too moist. If the dough starts to stick to the countertop, use a metal spatula and gently scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until its about ½inch larger in diameter than your pie plate (or iron skillet).

Using a spatula, carefully lift the dough from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. (I sometimes fold my well-floured dough in half and then "unfold" it onto iron skillet. Or you can lop it over your rolling pin. That works well, too.) Gently press the dough against the sides of the pan or skillet, getting it all tucked in. Then crimp the edges in whatever way you prefer. And now, youre ready for that yummy savory custard filling above, or maybe for a fruit pie.

If you make this recipe (or if youve read A Beauty So Rare), Id love to hear from you. You can write me through my website at

Sincerely Yours: A Novella Collection by Laurie Alice Eakes, Ann Shorey, Amanda Cabot, and Jane Kirkpatrick

Sincerely Yours is written by four authors. Each one gives us a story that ties into a letter, or letters.
Each story is very good! I do have my favorite, but I enjoyed them all.

In Moonlight Promise our first lovely lady winds up jumping aboard a moving steam boat in a bold effort to get where she is going before time runs out. Her livelihood is at stake, and she didn't plan on being attracted to the ship's captain. He didn't plan on having a passenger, much less a female one at that! They both have some major life issues besetting them at this time, can they survive the passage and come out where God wants them to be? Will the thin threads of Faith they cling told pull them through?

In Lessons In Love we have a very advanced lady for her time frame. She is publishing! (Imagine that!) It is still a forward move for a woman in that era. When her editor decides he must meet with her there is a major obstacle. Her editor assumed that she is a male writer and now she must either prevail upon someone for help, or watch her dreams vanish. A touchy decisions since she is mainly writing about how Godly Christian wives are to behave and the rolls they play in their families and husband's lives.

Ahhh! One Little Word! This story was my favorite. I do like the others very much, they are worth reading, but this one got my heart! :) Lorraine M. Caldwell is going to visit her brother, who is alive! He wrote her and specifically requested she come to his wedding. A wedding to someone that has raised more than a few eyebrows. Upon reaching Lilac Hall she finds much more than she ever envisioned. Soon she finds herself very drawn to Jonah Mann. He is in the process of making a carousal and Lorriane is captivated with the carousal, and with Jonah. Neither of them are exactly what they seem though. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I have to say, I have long loved carousels and probably have a healthy dose of the "malady" that Amanda Cabot has in this area.

A Saving Grace is aptly named. I struggled at first with the front part of this story, but soon got into following it better once our dear brave Grace started finding out that her friend Rebecca has put herself into a place called Starvation Heights. While that is shocking, it is even more so when you consider that some women today still go to such drastic measures to get well, or be fit, or be skinny enough. Rebecca is in serious trouble and Grace has only one ally as she signs up to be a patient at Starvation Heights in order to learn more about what is going on, and to save Rebecca who's sweet young daughter is waiting for her Mommy to come home. Will Grace be able to save Rebecca, or even her self in time, or will they waist away and perish while trying to be healthier? This short story was very riveting because of the way that these women were treated. Turns out that this place was real, and the history behind it is so graciously given at the end of this novella.

Below is more about the book, and the stories, and the cover! I'm glad I was able to review this book for Revell in exchange for my honest review, and nothing else.

Carol :)

Four unexpected letters. Four intrepid women. Four lives changed forever.

Spanning a century and a continent, these romantic novellas will lead you on a journey through the landscape of love. Four young women find their lives altered after each receives a letter that sets her on a new path. From a Hudson River steamboat to a lush drawing room, from a carousel carver's workshop to a remote hospital, you'll be swept into the lives of women who are making their way in the world and finding love where they least expect it.

Moonlight Promise by Laurie Alice Eakes
Camilla Renfrew is a highborn English lady fleeing false accusations when she runs smack into love on a steamboat bound for the new Erie Canal. But can this unexpected attraction survive the treacherous journey?

Lessons in Love by Ann Shorey
Marigold Montgomery Bentley writes marriage advice forKipler's Home Weekly even though she is single.Everyone assumes from the initials that "M. M." is a man. When the editor asks to meet Mr. Bentley, can Merrie come up with a ruse to keep her writing job?

One Little Word by Amanda Cabot
Lorraine Caldwell will lose her family fortune to a reckless cousin if she doesn't marry quickly. When she learns her long-lost brother is alive, she hopes she's found the answer to her problems. What she finds instead is a mysterious carousel carver who turns her life upside down.

A Saving Grace by Jane Kirkpatrick
Grace Hathaway must rescue a dear friend from a remote and notorious clinic that promises healing but delivers only heartache. In a place laced with deceit, where lives hang in the balance, whom can she trust to help her?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Maybelle In Stiches by Joyce Magnin (Quilts of Love #16)

Maybelle is welding. Yes indeed, hard work, but she has to do something while her husband is off fighting in the war. Two weeks before he shipped out, they got married and now here she is, missing Holden more than words, letters or her heart can say. Time feel slow when someone you love is away from you. When Maybelle finds a quilt, though she had no idea how to sew, she decides she is going to make this thing whole. It would be just right for their bed when Holden comes home from the war. 

Finding out the scraps she found to make this quilt, that were all in the attic of her Mom's house are all little parts of her heritage and family history makes her all the more interested in getting this task done, and piecing together more of her torn life. With her husband missing in action, all she can do is sew and pray for his return. 

Will she get her happy ending, or will she be left with a quilt and no husband?

Carol :) 

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Maybelle In Stitches
Abingdon Press (March 18, 2014)
Joyce Magnin


A word from the Author:

I am the author of seven novels. Five adult novels and two middle grade readers. I never wanted to do anything else but write and every day I wake up astonished that I get to do what I always dreamed about. My days are filled with words and images along with the usual family stuff. I have three children, Rebekah who is married to Joshua. They have three of the most adorable boys on the planet, Lemuel, Cedar and Soren. My daughter Emily Kate is a lovely young woman anthropologist and my son Adam is fourteen and a student--he's a genius who loves frogs and lizards and fish and plants. He amazes me.

I have never eaten a scallop. I love cream soda. Drink way too much coffee. I do not like elevators but I do enjoy needle arts and of course books. I prefer jazz over country (no offense), milk chocolate over dark, but not roller coasters although my life has often resembled a roller coaster ride.

One of my life's desires is to meet Amy Grant so I can tell her she saved my life.


Maybelle can’t sew. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house, she gets the crazy idea to complete it. At first, it’s just a way to fill the lonely nights while her husband, staff sergeant Holden Kanzinzki, is away fighting in World War II.

Yet when Maybelle discovers that the quilt is made from scraps of material that can be traced back through her family heritage, the project is suddenly much more important. Then word comes that Holden is missing in action, and with little else to do, Maybelle clings to the quilt as much as to the hope that her husband is still alive. As neighborhood friends gather around Maybelle to help her through the unknown days and nights ahead, it is the quilt that becomes a symbol of her unflagging belief that Holden will return—to her, to their home, and to their quilt-covered bed.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Maybelle In Stitches, go HERE.

Joyce can be reached through the Contact link on her Blog 

The book link is: