A Delicious Look into Cookbook Book Clubs

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Book clubs have been around for decades and have introduced the love of reading to many people. However, there is a new type of book club that is gaining in popularity – a cookbook book club. Basically, it is a book club where attendees bring food. The premise behind this type of club is attendees choose a recipe from a cookbook, prepare the dish, and bring the dish and the cookbook to the meeting.

Steps to Beginning 

  1. The first step to starting a cookbook book club is deciding on the logistics of the club. Think about who will join, family and friends, where you’ll meet, and when you’ll meet. Will the club meet at the same place at the same time or will it rotate between members’ houses and dates? Also, organize how you’ll pick the cookbooks. For example, is each attendee going to be making recipes from the same cookbook or different ones? Try to get at least 5-10 members, so you’ll have enough attendees to showcase a wide variety of dishes. Be careful your club isn’t too small or too big – remember you are going to be eating, so there will be some cost involved in preparing the meals. Lastly, all members don’t have to be culinary geniuses. This is a time to share dishes, as well as cooking tips and tricks with others.
  2. Next, plan your inaugural meeting. Remember to set your date and location. Then, choose your cookbook, if you decide to use one cookbook for all members. Your next step is to send out invitations, printed or digitally. You could even create a group on social media for members to communicate. If you decide on members choosing their own books, this is a great avenue for attendees to say which cookbook they are using for that meeting.
  3. Associate meetings with themes. For example, host a meeting that is family favorite recipes from tried and true cookbooks or only dessert recipes. You could also assign a meeting to honor a famous chef. Maybe it will be the Barefoot Contessa night and attendees will choose one of her cookbooks and prepare a dish.
  4. One of the benefits of having a social media group of attendees is that it allows for better organization of the group. There is generally more cost involved with this type of book club, compared to your traditional one; create a list on the group or in a google doc for members to list what they are bringing, in regard to recipes, plates, cups, napkins, and silverware. All responsibilities shouldn’t fall on the meeting’s host, unless otherwise decided upon in the club. Also, members can discuss recent recipes and cookbooks within the club when a meeting time isn’t near.
  5. Don’t forget about the drinks. It can be as simple as having bottles of water for everyone. It can also be as extravagant as bringing new drink recipes to share. This element should also be discussed with your club’s online group.
  6. Think about ways to make the meetings interactive and fun. Of course, food makes everything more fun, but also include possible games and conversation starters. Try going around and having members share why they chose a particular cookbook, or recipe, and their process for making the dish. You can take it a step further and focus on a single dish per meeting. For example, each member could host the event and choose the dish. Then, at the meeting, attendees will prepare the dish together and receive copies of the recipe.
  7. Speaking of recipe copies, always have them for members to take home. This is especially important if the recipes come from different books. However, if you chose to use one cookbook per meeting, share the book between members. That way, every member won’t feel as if they have to purchase the various cookbooks for each meeting.

There is nothing better that brings people together than food and a cookbook book club does just that. Ease your members into this new concept by letting them prepare dishes from a cookbook they have at home and then let your creativity run wild. There is no rhyme or reason, rules or laws to what a cookbook book club should entail.

xoxo,

Megan

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2017 Top Book Reviews

I’m always up for a good book and I’m always on the lookout for my next read. Each year, I keep a list of all the novels I’ve read and whether or not I liked them. However, I request the assistance of reviews to help me pick out a book. These reviews are helpful and give me insight into what the story is about. So, I decided to do the same with the top three books that I read in 2017.

Kid Carolina: R.J. Reynolds Jr., a Tobacco Fortune, and the Mysterious Death of a Souther Icon by Heidi Schnakenberg 

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My hometown, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is greatly influenced by the legacy of R.J. Reynolds and his family. Reynolds helped build the town back in the early 20th century. I have a deep fascination for this family and the events that occurred in their lives. After reading The Gilded Leaf in 2016, I became interested in learning more about the life of R.J. Reynolds Jr.

The book Kid Carolina is a detailed biography of Dick Reynolds’ personal relationships and demons, careers in politics and business and his love for the sea and sky. Schnakenberg goes above and beyond in covering all aspects, from his childhood to his death, which still remains a mystery, and how he earned the nickname “Kid Carolina” as a teenager. If you are a historical nonfiction lover, you’ll definitely enjoy this read.

4.5 stars out of 5

Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World by Max Lucado 

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This book came into my life at just the right time. As many of you know, I have depression and anxiety. New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado put the words of God that I needed to hear into writing and has helped me create a better balance in my life. Lucado provides readers with a map of trusting in God to ease worries and promote a sense of thankfulness. If you are struggling with the stress of daily life or could use some calm in a chaotic world, this book is perfect for you. Plus, Proverbs 31 Ministries has a great Bible study to go along with your reading – I’m looking forward to completing it again!

5 stars out of 5

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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As I’m currently studying for my graduate certificate in middle grades education, I’m learning more about the lives and developmental needs of young adolescents. After seeing the trailers for the movie, I thought it would be a good decision to read the book, Wonder, to compliment my studies. This novel is centered around August Pullman, a boy with facial birth defects. August, also known as Auggie, is entering the fifth grade and a public school for the first time. Palacio gives an excellent description of Auggie’s life, his family and their challenges, and how Auggie teaches his fellow classmates respect and empathy for others. In addition, Wonder started the #ChooseKind campaign and has taught others to spread kindness to everyone around them (you know I’m all about spreading kindness in the world). Let’s just say I’ll definitely be teaching this book in my classroom.

4 stars out of 5

xoxo,

Megan

 

Always Choose Kindness

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Today is World Kindness Day – a day meant to promote the random acts of kindness people do for others. But, why does this have to happen for only one day? Shouldn’t World Kindness Day be celebrated 365 days a year?

I’m currently reading the book Wonder (if you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it!). In the book, the main character’s English teacher gives his students’ precepts. His first one is “when faced with the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” How cool is that? Always choose the option to be kind no matter what. A helping hand is one of the best things you can give a fellow human being.

I challenge each of you to live out World Kindness Day all year long and complete random acts of kindness whenever you feel like it. Need some ideas to get start? Take a look below:

  • Leave money on a vending machine for someone or unused coupons on store shelves
  • Volunteer at your favorite nonprofit
  • Pay for someone’s meal, groceries, tickets, etc.
  • Run an errand for an older neighbor
  • Reconnect with old friends
  • Send coloring books to sick children in the hospital
  • Write cards to senior citizens in a nursing home
  • Plant a tree at the local park
  • Insert coins into someone’s expired parking meter
  • Find opportunities to give compliments

These are just some of the many kindness ideas. Let’s spread the challenge and make the world a kinder place! Share your random act of kindness with me on Twitter using the hashtag #365actsofkindness.

Wonder where we’ll be on November 13, 2018?

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana 

xoxo,

Megan

Book Review: The Nightingale

  
I love period pieces; books that reflect certain times in history. So, when my colleague recommended the book, The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, I knew I had to read it. Five pages into the book, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down.

The Nightingale focuses on a family living in France during World War II. Sisters Vianne and Isabelle Mauriac are pulled into multiple directions as their home country is placed under Nazis occupation. Vianne’s husband, Antoine, is sent to the front, leaving Vianne and her daughter at home. The two are soon forced to live with the enemy after their home is taken over by Germans. As the years of war continue, food, money, and hope become scarce. Vianne finds herself risking her life to save those she loves.
As for eighteen-year-old Isabelle, she fights the war in a different way. She joins the Resistance, where she takes hundreds of soliders to neighboring countries’ borders, saving their lives while putting her’s in danger. 

Bestselling author Kristin Hannah writes a story of courage, bravery, and family. She tells the unknown side of World War II: the women’s war on the homefront. Sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, are opposites in their beliefs and ways to fight the Nazis, but in the end each of them hold onto the values of strength and family to survive in war-torn France.

xoxo,

Megan

I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Part I

Enjoy part 1 of my two part story about a family and their life at Christmastime during World War II.

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I’ll Be Home for Christmas 

It was December 1944 and the United States was immersed in World War II. My family, the Dillards, included my father Bill, my mother Samantha, my brother Russell, and me, Lizzy, a freckled-faced, red, curly-haired 13-year old. Russell, a 20-year old, private in the US Army, was stationed in Europe, fighting behind enemy lines. As for the rest of us, we fought the war at home.

It was two weeks till Christmas and the town of Smithfield, Illinois, was full of holiday spirit. Along with preparing for December 25th, my town was preparing gift packages to send to soldiers overseas. Many of my friends had siblings in the Army, just like I did.

My mother was the president of Operation Victory, a committee that sent gift packages to soldiers throughout the year. This was just one of the ways my mother helped fight the war.

As the sibling of a soldier, I constantly wrote letters to Russell, telling him about home and the latest news. I also sent cards to him and his friends. Quickly, I became a professional at drawing Christmas trees.

This was the second Christmas Russell was going to miss. He entered the US Army shortly after Pearl Harbor. In February 1942, he was sent to Europe and has only been home twice since then.

My father was always reassuring my mother that Russell was safe. “Samantha,” he would say, “Russell is doing his patriotic duty, fighting for his country, and he will come home soon.” As for me, Christmas was the hardest part of the year.

Russell and I had always been close, despite our age difference. Throughout the years, we had created our own traditions, in addition to our family’s. Together, these traditions made Christmas just a little bit more special.

One of my favorite traditions that Russell and I shared was two days before Christmas Eve. We would ride through town in his jeep and deliver cookies to all of our neighbors and friends. At each house, we sang “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” At the end of the second song, Russell would always hold out the very last note until everyone started laughing.

In all of the letters we wrote to each other, during the holiday season, we always talked about our traditions. In one of his letters from November, he mentioned there was a slight chance he might receive leave and be able to come home for Christmas. Since then, I hung onto this statement, hoping it would eventually come true.

“Lizzy! Lizzy! Are you coming sledding with us or not?” asked my friend Jill. Her voice snapped me back into reality. Looking around, I realized my friends, Jill and Jane, were waiting on me to go sledding. “Sure, I’m ready. Let’s go!” I replied. We spent the rest of the day sledding at Black’s Hill.

By the time I got home, my father was already home from work. As I entered the house, I expected on hearing the usual “Do you realize how late you are on a school night and you haven’t started your homework yet” speech, but instead I received different news.

My mother was sitting in the living room, crying. I noticed her eyes were fixed on an opened letter on the coffee table. “Lizzy, your mother and I need to talk to you,” my father said as he met me at the living room door. Little did I know, the news my parents were about to tell me would change my world. “We just received a letter, saying Russell’s plane was shot down over Italy. We don’t know where exactly he is and the Army has declared him missing in action.” my father told me as tears started running down my face.

After talking with my parents for a while, I went upstairs to my bedroom. Not knowing what to think or do, I looked outside my window and glanced towards the driveway. There I saw Russell’s jeep and I wished, more than anything, for him to be home.

“Where is Russell?” I thought to myself. Quickly, I began to write him a letter, which I planned on mailing to his base. Something inside of me told me he was in a safe place and would be home soon. I hoped this feeling was right, but as scared as I was, I doubted it.

Over the next couple of days, my family lived precariously, waiting to hear any news about Russell. As it got closer and closer to Christmas, my family still hadn’t heard anything about him and our patience started to wear thin.

To be continued…

xoxo,

Megan