Archives for May 2016

April 2016 Subscription Boxes

Hi, Everyone!

Wow! I’m a bit behind getting this post up. Sorry about that! Anyway . . . here are our subscriptions from the month of April:



April 2016 Lit-Cube (1)

This is the April Lit-Cube box!

April 2016 Lit-Cube (2) April 2016 Lit-Cube (3)

Lit-Cube Gilmore GIrls limited edition box Apr 2016 (1)

This was the limited edition Gilmore Girls Lit-Cube! I LOVE it! I signed up for the Gilmore Girls subscription box as well. It’s a lifestyle . . .

Lit-Cube Gilmore GIrls limited edition box Apr 2016 (2) Lit-Cube Gilmore GIrls limited edition box Apr 2016 (3)


April 2016 Uppercase


Owl Crate

April 2016 Owl Crate


Jamberry StyleBox

April 2016 - SB TrendyApril Trendy StyleBox 2016 (1)

BirchBox April 2016 Birchbox

Ispy April 2016


April 2016 Kiwi Crate

This is the Kiwi Crate.

April 2016 Koala Crate

The Koala Crate

kiwi crate

A past Kiwi Crate . . . that’s a flashlight and these are different shapes and animals to cast shadows on the wall. It was pretty cool.

koala crate

This is April’s Koala Crate. The animals are little finger puppets. The barn opens flat to be a barnyard. (It’s closed with velcro. Easy for little hands.) And that’s a vegetable garden to pick your own veggies. =)


What do you think of month’s boxes?

Do you subscribe to any boxes? If so, which ones? I did include my referral links, so if you’re interested, please feel free to use them! I know I would appreciate it.





In the Kitchen: Home Chef: Buttermilk Ranch Chicken


Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Home Chef a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Buttermilk Ranch Chicken with Honey-Butter Mashed Carrots


I actually had my sister over for lunch last week, so I figured I’d try this recipe out for our lunch date. It was the best idea I had all week!


While this is more prep work than I’d typically do for a lunch meal, my sister and I split things up and were able to feed all four of our (under age 4) kids AND ourselves while it was still technically lunchtime. I’m calling it a win.

20160331_124615The buttermilk ranch sauce was really, REALLY rich, so we served it on the side instead of drowning everything in it. The green beans were, well, unremarkable, but the mashed carrots were EPIC.

You might not believe me that mashed carrots can be epic, but I promise you I’m not lying. They. Are. Delicious. Husband was actually jealous he didn’t get to try them.

If I make it again:

Again, I’ll likely be making only one piece of this meal again: the mashed carrots. I’ll tell myself I’m going to use less butter and honey than the recipe calls for, but honestly, I’ll probably use all 2 TBSP. Because NOM.




Gina’s Review: Sailing out of Darkness by Normandie Fischer

Sailing out of Darkness

Sailing out of Darkness 
written by Normandie Fischer
published by WhiteFire Publishing, 2013

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I did like this book, but I loved the setting more. The book started in Maryland but then went to Italy, and I love Italy: the sights, the food, the culture, and the wine. This book made me so thirsty for wine!

Samantha, the main character, comes with a lot of baggage. I admit there were times I wanted to hand her a glass of wine and tell her to chill, but I get that she needed to learn how to overcome the trials in her life.  In some ways, this book took it to the extreme.

I definitely enjoyed the overall story, especially since there was a bit of a love story involved (and I definitely can’t resist falling in love!).



“Darling Samantha, if you’d let me, I’d rescue you always.”



Would I recommend it: Sure!


About the book – from Goodreads: An unexplained apparition, wanderings through Italy, and mayhem back home push four lives toward their day of reckoning.

The last thing on Samantha’s mind is another entanglement. Fleeing a disastrous affair with her childhood best friend, she hopes for peace and forgetfulness in a trip to Italy.

Teo Anderson copes with his own issues, both physical and emotional, by writing mysteries—until one strange and compelling vision comes to life in the person of Sam.

Teo is nothing like Sam’s philandering ex-husband or her sailing buddy, Jack, who, despite his long-time girlfriend, caught Sam off guard with his flashing black eyes. But not even sailing the cobalt waters of the Mediterranean can assuage Sam’s guilt for hurting another woman. Soon the consequences of her behavior escalate, and the fallout threatens them all.

SAILING OUT OF DARKNESS is the haunting story of mistakes and loss and the grace that abounds through forgiveness.



Chrissy’s Review: Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw

Scarlett Epstein Hates It HereScarlett Epstein Hates It Here
written by Anna Breslaw
published by Razorbill, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: I did enjoy this read. It was a good YA contemporary story.

Scarlett Epstein is a high school student who loves to write fan fiction. For me, this was a great hook. I loved that this was her creative outlet. I liked her fanfic story. It was different and interesting and I got caught up in it as much as I did in Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here. Her relationship with her neighbor was kind and the neighbor cracked me up. She gave Scarlett some good advice/insight as well.

As a whole, the story was engrossing and humorous.

I was wanting to read this book and it showed up in my Uppercase Box, a monthly subscription box. This box is pretty cool because each book (with the expert plan) comes with codes to see interviews, exclusive content, and whatnot. It’s a really awesome feature. If you like YA books, you should definitely check out Uppercase.


Would I recommend it: Sure! It was a fun, YA read.


About the book – from Goodreads: 
Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her weed-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. And if they ever find out what Scarlett truly thinks about them, she’ll be thrust into a situation far more dramatic than anything she’s ever seen on TV . . .




#ChickLitMay A to Z Scavenger Hunt



Welcome to my stop on the #ChickLitMay A to Z Scavenger Hunt!! My letter is I and my word is INTELLIGENT.

That’s right, INTELLIGENT. I know many people do not equate “intelligent” with chick lit. A lot of people hear “chick lit” and think “fluff.” I’m here to tell you that those people are wrong.

INTELLIGENT. Many heroines of chick lit are extremely intelligent. Sure, they find themselves in crazy predicaments or terrible love trouble, but these women are intelligent. They have degrees, they own their own businesses, they can think for themselves, and they usually get themselves out of the predicaments. Their intelligence is evident from the beginning of their story to the end.

INTELLIGENT. The writers of chick lit are intelligent. To come up with these story ideas, plots, twists, and romantic elements, it is an amazing thing. The writers take their readers into a different world and allow their readers to experience everything their characters are experiencing. Whether I’m reading or editing, I feel what the characters are feeling, I experience what the characters are experiencing, and I could be friends with these characters. It’s a wonderful feeling, and it is truly awe-inspiring that these writers can make us readers feel that way.

INTELLIGENT. The readers of chick lit are intelligent. We love the happily ever afters. We love the giddy feels. We love the heroines. We love their leading men. We love the escapism from our own lives, careers, businesses, worries. Just because we read chick lit doesn’t mean we are somehow less intelligent. It means we love a fabulous story. The end. We don’t have to justify our love of chick lit. We just have to read it and love it.

The next stop on the Scavenger Hunt J is here. If you’d like to start back at the beginning of the Scavenger Hunt (A), go here.






Want to win a Kindle Paperwhite + a $100 Amazon gift card? Visit each of the 26 stops on the #ChickLitMay A to Z Scavenger Hunt and collect the alphabet word at each stop (A, B, C, D, etc.), then submit the A-Z list of words via e-mail to with the subject “A to Z Scavenger Hunt Entry.” Entries will be accepted until Sunday, May 22nd at midnight E.D.T. A winner will be chosen on Monday, May 23rd. Good luck!



Armchair BEA 2016 – Day 5: Wrap-Up

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Welcome to Armchair BEA! This is the seventh annual Armchair BEA, and this is EFC’s third year participating! We are so excited to take part again this year!


Day 5: Wrap-Up

It was another great year of Armchair BEA! I really enjoy participating, and I love finding new blogs and interacting with the blogging community. We don’t do a lot of discussion posts here at EFC, but Armchair BEA is a great way for us to write some discussion posts and get some ideas for future posts. We will have to do more in the future. What would you like to see us discuss?

Here are the links to the linkys for each day of Armchair BEA! Check out the other blogs and posts!

  1. Introductions and Diversity in Books
  2. Aesthetic Concerns – Books and Blogs
  3. Beyond the Books and Blog
  4. Surviving Fictional Worlds and Giveaways


chrissysig melissasig


In the Kitchen: Blue Apron: Garam Masala Shrimp


Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Blue Apron a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Garam Masala Shrimp with Garlic-Spinach Rice & Toasted Coconut Flakes


The recipe card picture sort of just looked like a bowl of goo. My finished meal also looks like a bowl of goo. Tasty, tasty goo.

This was yet another recipe that called for coconut flakes. Listen. We don’t DO coconut flakes. We composted them. We’ll eat them again in a few years when they’ve grown into something that’s actually delicious.

Other than the flaky flakes, we enjoyed this recipe. It wasn’t super-delicious-make-it-once-a-week good, but I could probably be convinced to make it again.


Thanks for fostering our love of red onions, Blue Apron! YUM!

This meal was, as I mentioned, pretty gooey.


Gooey Rice with Spinach


Gooey Shrimp

Though tasty, this ended up being more of a stew, not shrimp with a side of rice.

If I make it again:

  • I’d add some lime juice to the sauce instead of just using it for garnish
  • LESS sauce so it’s not so soupy
  • MORE cilantro!
  • NO coconut flakes. Obviously.

Did my kids eat it: Nope. Not even a little bit.


Armchair BEA 20106 – Day 4: Surviving Fictional Worlds and Giveaway

ArmchairBEA LogoExample

Welcome to Armchair BEA! This is the seventh annual Armchair BEA, and this is EFC’s third year participating! We are so excited to take part again this year!


Day 4: Surviving Fictional Worlds & Giveaways

Today we’ll talk about surviving fictional worlds. We all know that sometimes, the worlds we love in fiction can be dangerous. Which fictional worlds would you want to live in? Which worlds do you never want to dive into? Which worlds are you content to stay behind the glass, so to speak, rather than wishing to dive through the page? And once you get there, what would you do?

I’m a sci/fi fantasy girl (read: big, big nerd), so you’d have trouble keeping me away from places like Narnia and Gallifrey. I’ve recently been fielding random questions from my four-year-old about magic, superpowers, and why we don’t have them in real life, so I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. You can pop me into a world with magic any day of the week (who knows? maybe I live in one now . . .), and I bet my son would gladly come along for the adventure. Hogwarts? Done. Oz? You betcha. Oh, but ain’t no way I’m going to Westeros. You can’t make me.


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In the Kitchen: Blue Apron: Chicken and Mushrooms


Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Blue Apron a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.


BA chicken

The ingredients. This was the Top Chef winning dish box.

BA chicken (2)

The directions. I love the full color, step-by-step pictures in these subscription box directions.

BA chicken (3)

Here’s our finished dinner! This recipe was sooooo good. Tasty. Yummy. Wonderful!


If I make it again: I don’t think I would change anything. This was wonderful.

Did my kids eat it: We didn’t share with the kids. My husband and I loved it and we will definitely make it again!



Armchair BEA 2016 – Day 3: Beyond the Books and Blog

ArmchairBEA LogoExample

Welcome to Armchair BEA! This is the seventh annual Armchair BEA, and this is EFC’s third year participating! We are so excited to take part again this year!


Day 3: Beyond the Books and Blog

Here on Day 3, we are moving our focus beyond the traditional format of the media we consume and create! 

Beyond the traditional form of the novel, what are your favorite alternative forms (graphic novels, audiobooks, webcomics, etc)? Do you have any favorite works within these alternate forms? How do you think the changing format affects the reading experience? 

Our secondary topic, beyond the blog could focus on the ways you engage in talking about books outside of your blog. Do you participate in book clubs, take classes, meticulously maintain your Goodreads profile? Let the world know!

Beyond books and blog. Wow! What a topic!! Looking at the first question, I can honestly say that I do not listen to audiobooks. I’ve tried. I really have, but I can’t seem to stay focused on the story. My mind wanders too much. I even tried to listen while painting, and I found painting my bathroom more interesting. I have read one graphic novel. In fact, I won it last year during Armchair BEA. It was Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash. (You can check out my review here.) I would like to try more graphic novels.

Beyond the blog is a bit easier to answer. I have been a member of a few book clubs. I am currently in my neighborhood’s book club. We have a lot of fun, and I really enjoy talking about books and catching up with my neighbors. The thing I like the most about book clubs is that I often read books that I wouldn’t normally choose. I read a lot of different genres, but it is always great to dive into a book that you may not pick for yourself.