Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Safe Haven-CD Review

     I don't know about the rest of you, but I've been seeing the commercials for the new film, Safe Haven and I can't wait. In theatres Valentine's Day February 14th, 2013, Safe Haven is directed by Oscar®-nominee Lasse Hallström and based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks. The film stars Josh Duhamel (love him), Julianne Hough (love her too). It is an affirming and suspenseful story about a young woman who struggles to find love again after she arrives in a small North Carolina town. 

     I was contacted recently by Big Picture Media to see if I would be interested in listening to and reviewing the soundtrack for the film. 

     I had already purchased the song,  "We Both Know" by Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw and I have been playing it constantly. It is one of those beautiful ballads that you just can't hear too many times. You can watch the video here. So, I jumped at the chance to hear the rest of the soundtrack.  Produced by Relativity Music Group and Republic Records, it features artists that were new to me as well as Caillat and DeGraw. 

     I got the tracks today and the music doesn't disappoint. Tristan Prettyman's, Say Anything, is one of my favorite tunes.

We won't break if we let go
You and I already know
We were bound to be set free
Even surely, here we are now
You can say anything

     Canoeing (Katie and Alex's Theme) by Deborah Lurie almost made me cry and I haven't even seen the film yet! The soundtrack ends with Go Your Own Way, which will make most of us think of Fleetwood Mac, but which is done beautifully by Lissie for the film. I would say the music tends to be what I would consider a cross between folk and pop. The artists have that song-writer vibe that is so interesting and popular right now. A film that I already wanted to see is only going to be enhanced by this excellent soundtrack. 

Colbie Caillat featuring Gavin DeGraw- "We Both Know"
Tristan Prettyman- "Say Anything"
Ben Howard- "Keep Your Head Up"
Dar Williams- "Summer Child"
The White Buffalo- "Sleepy Little Town"
Gareth Dunlop- "Wrap Your Arms Around Me"
Sara Haze- "Moonshine"
FM Radio- "The Journey"
Brandi Carlile- "Heart's Content" (Strings Mix)
Amos Lee- "Violin"
The Deep Dark Woods- "My Baby's Got To Pay The Rent"
Deborah Lurie- "Canoeing" (Katie and Alex's Theme)
Lissie-"Go Your Own Way"

     The Safe Haven soundtrack is available to pre-order on iTunes. For more information on Safe Haven visit

     My only compensation for this review was to be able to listen to the soundtrack (4 time only) in order to write the review. 

Don't forget my GIVEAWAY

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cookies!! GIVEAWAY with Cookbook! Yummy!

     Do you remember Tate's Bake Shop? Last year I had the pleasure of giving away some of their cookies and a cookbook to one of my lucky readers. Well, they have contacted me again and asked if I would like to share some Tate's Bake Shop "Love" with my readers
in honor of Valentine's Day.
     Kathleen King, owner of Tate's has a new cookbook, Baking for Friends. I love that title, don't you? She is sharing a recipe from the book for Linzer Heart cookies (see above). Aren't they the perfect Valentine treat? 


     An important tip: be sure to chop the nuts and chocolate very fine in a food processor (pulse to chop so the friction doesn’t warm them), or the dough will be too rough-textured to roll out smoothly. 

You need a graduated set of heart-shaped cookie cutters to make these. 
Yield: 20 sandwich cookies

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ pound (3 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups toasted, skinned and very finely chopped hazelnuts
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped
½ cup seedless raspberry jam
½ cup confectioners’ sugar for sifting

1. Sift the flour, cornstarch, and salt into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar with an electric mixer set on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the flour mixture, just until combined. Mix in the hazelnuts and chocolate.

2. Gather up the dough and shape it into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften slightly before rolling.)

3. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a round about ¼-inch thick. Use a 3 ½-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies as close as possible to avoid excess scraps. Arrange the hearts about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Gather up the dough scraps and gently knead together, and cut out more cookies. If the dough becomes too soft to roll out, refrigerate until chilled. You should have 40 cookies. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

4. Position the oven racks in the top third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F.

5. Use a 1-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the centers of 20 cookies. These will be the cookie tops. (You can bake the mini hearts to nibble on later! Don’t throw away or re-roll.) Bake, switching the position of the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking, until the cookies begin to brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Sift some of the ½ cup of confectioners’ sugar over the hot cut-out cookies Let cool completely on the baking sheets.

6. Spread the jam on the cookie bottoms, leaving an 1/8-inch border around the edges. Add the tops, sugared sides up, and press together gently. Just before serving, sift the remaining confectioners’ sugar over the cookies.


Tate's Bake Shop has generously offered to send one of my readers 
the Valentine's Cookie Cube and Cookbook Combo. 

     I have tasted these cookies and they are delicious. They are thin, crisp and are made with excellent quality ingredients. You may notice from the picture that they are running a special on this package at 50% off, which means you can order this package for just $21.50. They are also allowing me to offer you 20% off any web store purchase with the code BLOG213 used at checkout. 

     In order to be registered for this Giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling me you are interested. I would love to have you as a follower if you aren't already...but, I won't force you into becoming one by offering free cookies! I will select a winner from all those entered on Sunday, February 3rd. Good Luck! Please check out Tate's Bake Shop website, click here!

I was not compensated for this post (not even a cookie!). 
Tate's will send the winner's gift directly to the winner.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Strolling the Boardwalk and Exciting Luke News!

     This is the last of the Christmas/Disney posts. I hope I haven't bored you all to death! It has become a Christmas tradition for us to have an early dinner at Disney's Beach Club Resort. They have a wonderful seafood buffet that also has all of the "normal" Christmas items on it. Another reason we love to have our dinner here is that the resort has a beach and a lake, so a walk after dinner is a perfect ending to the day. This year, we noticed that the path of palm trees that leads from the Dolphin Hotel to the Swan Hotel had beautiful lighting. Much to our surprise, Christmas music started playing and the colors of the trees began to "dance" to the music. 

The Dolphin Hotel, is not a Disney Resort, but it connects
 to Disney property. The fountain outside is huge and so pretty. 

     The view of the Disney Boardwalk (which has a hotel, restaurants and shops) from the Beach Club Resort is gorgeous at night. You can walk all the way around the lake.  

They were showing movies on the beach, 
Disney movies of course!

     It was a beautiful Christmas evening. Temperatures were in the 70's, the sky was clear and it was the perfect ending to a perfect day. There are things I miss about being home for Christmas, but mostly I just miss the members of my family that aren't with me. As for the weather...I love it!

     This was my dessert plate from our dinner. I didn't eat every bite, but I ate enough that the walk wasn't just pleasant, it was necessary. The little dish with the caramel on top was Popcorn Panna Cotta. You can't see the custard layer below the caramel. It was amazing. I asked for the recipe and they are supposed to send it to me. They said that they pureed actual popcorn and strained it to flavor the custard. We all tried it because it sounded so strange and we all loved it. As for the rest of the meal...crab legs, shrimp, turkey, mashed potatoes, chowders, salads, standing rib roast and so on. Yes, I always gain weight when I go on vacation! 

     Now for the exciting Luke news. As his parents are saying, God, Luke and the donor are a great team. An important number for Luke is his ANC (absolute neutrophil count) number. The higher the number the better and his has been jumping by leaps and bounds the past week. It reached over 7000 yesterday. This means that the transplant is working and the best news is that if all goes as planned, today he "rings the survivor bell" at the hospital and gets released to the apartment they have rented nearby. He will still have restrictions and risks, he certainly isn't out of the woods, but it all is going very well and we pray that this amazing progress continues. Thank you for your continued prayers. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Oh What a Beautiful Morning...

     We were in Orlando for 2 weeks over the holiday. Much of that time was in a hotel, but we moved out of the hotel on Christmas Eve and spent 4 nights at our daughter's condo. My husband gets up very early and he would go get a newspaper and a cup of coffee, leaving us to sleep in. One morning, at just moments past dawn, my phone rang. He said, "go outside now and take your camera". I grabbed the camera and ran outside barefoot in my pjs...not knowing what to expect. What I saw took my breath away. I guess it is very common in the Orlando area, but it is a rare sight for us. They have balloon ride tours and we just happened to catch a group of them sailing right over head. Some of them were so close they were waving and talking to me (in my pjs, with bed head) and some were fairly high in the air. The air was slightly cool, the sun had just come up and the sky was brilliant with balloon color. *Sigh*

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Around The House

     My January decor is fairly simple. After having Christmas decorations, I actually love the "empty" spaces that are left when I put them away. This year, because my Christmas theme was a natural look, I left out several items and just shifted them around a bit. I did add the books you see in the above picture. I brought them home from my dad's place when we were there. They were my mother's books and I remember reading them when I was a child. I actually have my own Oz book from my childhood. The top book is a Shirley Temple book. 

     The cookbook doesn't exactly match the rest of the items on the table, but it has recipes from various holiday meals and treats at Disney. My daughter gave it to me for my birthday and I think your home should reflect things you love at the moment...things don't always have to "look perfect"! 

     My daughter also gave us the coasters for Christmas and they made me cry. Each one has a photo...some are of our old Nike (above-she has been gone since May) and some have our Zoe. There is one that has the rare photo of the two of them together. I am a total softy where my pups are concerned. The older Zoe gets (she is now 16 months) the more we see similarities to Nike. Maybe it is a beagle thing!

     The library table has a simple arrangement of winter things. I was going to change out the red candles, but I liked the pop of color on our gray winter days.

     I moved the quilt I used at Christmas to the other library table, added another pop of red and my winter wooden moose and branches. Every day I try to decide if I'm going to pull the quilt off the table...I'm having a real love/hate relationship with it. I think it may be put away today. I loved it at Christmas, but in general it is a bit too country for my house.

     The top of the china cabinet is also a very simple antique wooden bowl with "snowballs", dried hydrangeas and a lone pine cone. The picture we found at HomeGoods after Christmas. It is a winter scene with a bit of Christmas (the tree has lights, the house a wreath) but I thought it could go up for a little while without looking as if I forgot to take down the decorations. It was on sale for $5! You have to love HomeGoods!

     The big news around here is that we bought a new mattress! It isn't exciting, you can't see it and it is sort of like buying is expensive and not fun. Our old mattress was 9 years old and we had been complaining about it for at least the last 3 years. I actually think it should have lasted much longer, but the store went out of business and we couldn't do anything about it. So, after adding a foam topper to get by a while longer...we both decided that we could no longer stand to sleep in a huge dent on our sides of the bed and we were tired of waking up with everything hurting. I did a lot of research this time and hopefully, we made a good choice. Did you realize that if you don't purchase the matching box springs, the mattress warranty is void? Did you realize that if you have a single spot of anything on the mattress the warranty is void, therefore you are almost forced to buy a waterproof cover for your mattress (add another $70). We learned several things with this purchase and it was delivered Friday. So far, it feels very different than our old one and I think we chose well. Fingers crossed! 

     I am joining Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Table Top Tuesday 
Kim @ Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesday

Please visit our lovely hostesses!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Welcome to Gaylord Palms

     One of our favorite places to visit is the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville. We have been going there for years. When we first started going there, it was the Opryland Hotel and was much smaller than it is today. When Gaylord opened the Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando, we couldn't wait to see what creative things they would do at their new location. We have never stayed there, but we did visit several years ago when it was new. On Christmas Eve, before we took the golf cart for a spin around the Disney Campground, we decided to visit again and see what the hotel looked like at Christmas. We were not disappointed. 

     If you aren't familiar with the Gaylord Hotels, they are huge and divided into separate themed areas. You are truly transported while you are inside and there are things to see everywhere you look. There are always water elements, as you can see the beautiful fish swimming above. 

The Christmas decorations were elegant and 
matched the theme of the area in which they were located. 

Performers sang carols while we strolled through the hotel.

Look closely at the above picture, do you see the stingray?

The alligators are live.

 Do you see what this is?

     During the holidays, the Gaylord hotels have a show called ICE, that has ice sculptures in a variety of shapes and sizes. We didn't go through it. The tickets are expensive and my daughter did it once and said it was fun, cold and over in 15 minutes. So, we saved that $120 dollars and enjoyed what we could see for the price of parking. It truly is a beautiful hotel and well worth paying to park to tour it. The only reason we haven't stayed there is the location is further from our daughter, but we may just have to try it one of these days. It is almost like being in a theme park, only relaxing and no rides!