Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages by Shaunti Feldhahn

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference


Have you ever looked at a blissfully married couple and thought, I wish I could know their secret? Now you can. After years of investigative research, Shaunti reveals twelve powerful habits that the happiest marriages have in common. 

Best news of all? Anyone can learn the secrets of a highly happy marriage! 

In The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, Shaunti Feldhahn shares her findings about little, very unexpected, often overlooked actions that make a huge difference. You’re about to discover that highly happy couples:
• Go to bed mad
• Keep score (just not in the way you think)
• Boss their feelings around
• Have factual fantasies 
• Get in over their heads
• Don’t tell it like it is
• Don’t look to marriage to make them happy… 

Packed with eye-opening research and practical helps, this book delivers relationship insights that will take your marriage from “just fine” to “just the marriage we’ve always wanted.”


Shaunti Feldhahn knows what she is talking about. She is a well known researcher on the topic of relationships. In her latest book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things that Make a Big Difference, Ms. Feldhahn offers tips of the trade to make your marriage a happy marriage. She has taken scientific research and interviews and translated them into the secrets of what "Highly Happy couples do in their marriage. 

The secrets Ms. Feldhahn reveals are that there are really no secrets. It is the little things that make a difference in marriages. She argues that "many secrets of highly happy marriages seem to cluster around choices- especially choices about what to think and feel toward your spouse." (p. 95). This is the basis of the book. She argues that the secrets of highly happy marriages include: knowing that little is big, believing in the best in your spouse, go to bed mad, keeping score, having actual fantasies, hanging out, looking higher, etc. 

I liked how Ms. Feldhahn used real life examples to illustrate her secrets and how she shows the results of the scientific research at the end of each chapter. However, I felt like I really did not learn anything new or surprising in this book. It was an okay read, but I didn't get that much out of it. It is not that I disagreed with her or her principles, but I have heard it all before. There was nothing new to me. I would recommend this for someone who was engaged, or beginning their marriage journey. However, I feel that I have heard everything she has argued in the last 9 years of my own marriage. 

DISCLAIMER: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Weekend Recap

I was off from work on Friday and Monday, so my Easter weekend was an extended 4 day weekend. 

Friday was spent running errands, coloring eggs and taking Rebecca to her softball scrimmage.

Saturday, Bill had to be at church at 10am for Easter vigil practice. After his practice, my dad bought everyone lunch and we spent a couple hours talking and laughing. Rebecca had softball practice in the afternoon. Then Saturday night, we all got dressed in our Easter finest and went to our church to watch Bill receive his Confirmation and First Communion and be welcomed in as a full-fledged member of the Catholic Church. 

The Easter Vigil mass was very special. Benjamin, who is usually very loud at church, fell asleep during the first reading and slept until seconds before Fr. Hammond confirmed Bill. He woke up with a start and looked toward the front just as Bill was getting anointed. He then remained quiet through out the rest of the mass--it was truly an Easter miracle. All 3 kids were very well behaved, considering mass was 2 hour long. After the Vigil Mass, we went over to the school cafeteria where they had a reception for all those who had entered the church. It was very nice with cookies, cupcakes and Benjamin had a blast moving around all the chocolate candies that they had scattered among the desserts. 

Easter morning, found eggs with messages in the kids' rooms to come into mine and Bill's room. The Easter bunny was leading the kids on a scavenger hunt to find their baskets, which were hidden in the downstairs shower. The kids thought it was hilarious. 

They loved everything they got in their baskets. Rebecca's favorite thing were her mini "Frozen" Elsa, Anna, and Olaf figurines. Jacob's favorite was his Spiderman yo-yo. Benjamin just loved everything in all the baskets. I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast and we just enjoyed a lazy morning/early afternoon at 

In the afternoon, we went to my parents' house for dinner and an Easter egg hunt for the grandkids. My parents, younger sister, youngest brother, his girlfriend, younger brother and his wife and their 3 kids and Bill and I and our kids were there. Dinner was yummy, and the egg hunt was fun. We spent most of the evening outside at my parents' house throwing the football around and watching the kids blow bubbles and talking and laughing. When we got home last night, the kids were ready to go to bed and were sound asleep within minutes.

Yesterday morning I cleaned up some of the house, bagged some of the candy for the freezer and tried to organize some of the stuff that we had accumulated. For lunch, Bill and I decided to take the kids to get Wendy's and we ate lunch at the park. After lunch, the kids played on the playground, Rebecca practiced throwing her softball and the kids blew bubbles. 

Then it was off to Goodwill to look for shorts for Jacob and Bill and capris for me. We lucked out and I found 2 pairs of capris, 1 pair of shorts, a tank top, Bill got 2 pairs of shorts, and I found 2 pairs of shorts for Jacob. I also found a pair of sandals for Benjamin! 

Overall, it was a fun, busy, happy 4 day weekend. Now time to face the work week and the fun that that will bring. Hope everyone has a great week! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Homemaker Monday

I am joining Sandra today over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for her Happy Homemaker Monday theme!

As I look outside my window:::
It has clouded up. Earlier it was bright and sunny. We were able to take the kids to the park for lunch and to play. But now it is cloudy, and it is supposed to rain tonight. 

Right now I am::: 
Typing out this post, thinking of the things I need to do this week.

Thinking and pondering:::
On I need to do this week. Hoping that Benjamin's surgery for ear tubes goes off without a problem on Friday. 

On my bedside table:::
Nothing right now....

On my tv tonight:::

I will be watching "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" and "19 Kids and Counting" and Indians baseball. 

Listening to:::
The cars going down the road. The sounds of outside as we have the windows open. Spongebob is on the TV for the kids. 

On the menu for this week:::

Monday - kids has corned dog, carrots, strawberries and pears.
Tuesday - Saturday: ??????

On my to do list:::

Collect all recycling and trash and take it to the curb
Pay bills due 

Happening this week:::
work, softball, soccer, etc.
My simple pleasure:::
Spending time with my husband and kids

Looking around the house:::
I need to clean up from Easter. Just stuff that needs to be put away.
From the camera:::

Hubby was confirmed and received his First Communion into the Catholic Church on Saturday night. Here he is with my dad, who sponsored him, and the deacon and priest of our church.

Prayer List:::
For Bill, as he job searches. For our family as we look to make changes for the better.

Bible verse, Devotional:::

John 3:16-17
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.
Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter and a great Monday! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter


I hope everyone has a very Happy Easter today. I will be spending the day with Bill and the kids and my parents and siblings. I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy and Holy Easter filled with love and joy knowing that Jesus has risen from the dead to save us! May you all find the peace and love of Jesus on this Easter Sunday!


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Coloring Easter Eggs

Yesterday, Rebecca and I had off from school for Good Friday, but the morning was busy with going to the store and the late afternoon was busy with Bill working, and Rebecca having a softball scrimmage from 4:15-6:30. So we decided to do a fun family activity in the afternoon....COLORING EASTER EGGS! 

Late Thursday night, I boiled 18 eggs for the kiddos to dye. I think they had fun. Rebecca loved coloring them, and Jacob was scared too especially after he plopped one in the pink dye and spilled the dye all over the newspaper, but after a bit he decided to have another go at it and he liked it. Benjamin was still to young to help, but he decided that he did not want to nap during the time and instead sat in his chair and ate graham crackers while we colored eggs. Overall it was a nice afternoon activity!

Do you color eggs for Easter? 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Savory Custard and Shortbread Recipes from " A Beauty So Rare"

Today I have something special for you. Tamera Alexander, author of A Beauty So Rare, which I reviewed for you on Wednesday, has offered to share a few of Eleanor Braddock's recipes with us today! These would be perfect for your Easter Gathering. I hope you enjoy! 

Most people think quiche originated in France. Not so. It’s 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 don’t 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
Eleanor Braddock’s Savory Custard
(or Ham and Cheddar Quiche)
From the novel A Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander


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 tablespoons butter
1 pound cooked ham diced into cubes (if using bacon, use 8 slices, fried chewy, not too crisp)
8 large eggs
1-1/2 cups heavy 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


Sauté onion 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.

Remove from the oven and allow the savory custard to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before diving in.

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 don’t 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).

It’s so good, and just like Eleanor Braddock would make. It’s also delicious left over and warmed up the next day.
Eleanor Braddock’s Old-Fashioned Pie Crust
(makes two large crusts)
From the novel A Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander

This is a wonderful crust that I’ve 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 I’m 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 ½ cups 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, whip the 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 the 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 you’re using the crusts immediately, it’s still a good idea to let them chill in the freezer for about 15- 20 minutes. They’ll be much easier to work with.)

When you’re ready to roll the dough for your crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes (if it’s 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 it’s 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 it’s about ½ inch 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, you’re ready for that yummy savory custard filling above, or maybe for a fruit pie.

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


I just want to again say thank you to Ms. Alexander for sharing these yummy recipes from her book A Beauty So Rare!  Hope you all enjoy them! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Special Hairstyle for Rebecca

About a month ago, I saw a picture on my facebook wall that really intrigued me and I thought I could do that with Rebecca's hair. It was from a page called "Luv That Hair". It was a beautiful basket weave design for a girl's hair...

I decided to give it a try on Rebecca's hair. First I showed it to her and she was excited for me to do it....

Here are our results: 

I think it turned out really cute. Rebecca LOVED it! She wore it like that for Benjamin's birthday party and again to school on Monday. She got so many compliments on it! 

I love finding inspiration to make my kids' days with something as simple as doing her hair in a special way! I will definitely be trying more hairstyle from "Luv That Hair" facebook page.