I just broke a mug. It slipped from my hand into the dishwasher and smashed. I have a teeny-tiny cut on my finger to prove it. Just a one-second lapse in concentration, that’s all it took to break into pieces. I wonder if that’s how many of us are feeling right now—fragile. Like everything could break into pieces if we have a one-second lapse in our “holding it together-ness”. We know we are not in this alone. We know we have a God who is bigger. But in these at-home moments of needing to do something familiar yet fulfilling, how are we coping? For me, it’s in the simple pleasures of books and baking…

 

 

Of course, both books and baking can be enjoyed at any old time. But right now, in this peculiar pandemic season, my mind is craving story and my hands are craving creativity. And that means curling up with a fabulous fiction book and baking something delicious in the kitchen. 

“Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.” Mary Schmich

While we are tucked in at home, books are a great way to “travel”, and losing oneself in a fantastic novel is relaxing, enjoyable, and cheap. I’ll be honest, other than daily soul-nourishment from my Bible, I’m struggling to read non-fiction these days.  So I’ve decided it’s my season for fiction, and that’s perfectly okay. As a fiction author, it’s also in the name of research!

Here are a couple I’ve just read, along with my Amazon affiliate links on the titles in case you want to grab a copy (full disclosure here) which means I get a tiny commission while you pay the regular price for any of the books. Take a peek:

 

    SILENT SHADOWS by Natalie Walters (Christian romantic suspense)

This third and final book in the Harbored Secrets series is a fabulous Christian suspense page-turner! When rehab nurse, Pecca Gallegos, moves to a delightful small town in Georgia with her son in an effort to escape her dangerous past, she does not expect to fall head-over-heels for one of her patients. Army Captain Colton Crawford is facing his own struggles as he comes to terms with a debilitating disorder—and then he meets Pecca. Family secrets, forgiveness, destruction, and determination culminate into a nail-biting climax complete with a perfect ending for the romantics among us! Silent Shadows can be read as a stand-alone title, but I thoroughly recommend reading all three novels in the series—they are an absolute treat.

 

   THE AVIATOR’S WIFE by Melanie Benjamin (Biographical fiction)

I thoroughly enjoyed (with the disclaimer that I was also heartbroken at times) this fictional account of the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the wife of celebrated pilot Colonel Charles Lindbergh. This is written from Anne’s perspective of how she lived in the constant shadow of her husband, even though she achieved much in her own right, including the title of first licensed female glider pilot in the US and as a successful published author. A deeply troubled marriage, a baby kidnapped and murdered, life navigating paparazzi, mother to five more children, and ultimately the search for her own voice… this book is thoroughly researched and beautifully written. If you have read Anne’s bestselling book, Gift from the Sea, you may want to go back and reread it after this one. I will do so—and with a fresh perspective. I highly recommend The Aviator’s Wife.

 

For 20 more favourite fiction reviews, feel free to sign up for my lovely freebie HERE.

Now to the baking…

 

    MAGNOLIA TABLE volume 2 by Joanna Gaines (cookbook)

 

Buying a copy of Joanna Gaines’ latest cookbook, Magnolia Table volume 2, was timely and tempting. I want to make everything in it but am trying to pace myself for the sake of our waistlines. The Chicken Mushroom Spinach Crepes make a delicious dinner, her Silo Cookies are our new favourite, and this Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread alone is worth buying the book:

There’s just something therapeutic and comforting about the baking process: selecting ingredients, measuring and mixing, and then the home being filled with scrumptious aromas. Following instructions and seeing results—right now when so much is out of our control, baking feels like something achievable. And here’s my logic: when I bake, my family feels the urge to exercise even more to counteract the calories, so really I’m assisting in us all staying healthy! 🙂 Here are a couple of recipes we love:

 

      For mundane mornings, STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE MUFFINS from Monday Sunday Kitchen: HERE

 

     For at-home celebrations, ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES from Two Peas &their pod: HERE

 

     For everyday yumminess, I found the recipe HERE for SILO COOKIES from the Magnolia Table cookbook I mentioned above. Enjoy!

 

Friend, know that in this trying time, we have One who sees us in our “holding it together-ness” as well as when we are in shattered pieces. And He graciously offers us rest and comfort like no other:

“God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You’re a proven help in time of trouble— more than enough and always available whenever I need you.” Psalm 46:1

I hope I’ve given you a little inspiration for your time at home with the simple pleasures of books and baking. I’d love to hear what’s been helping you—leave me a comment below!

Take care,

P.S. HUGE INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY! If you haven’t read my book, THE ORPHAN BEACH, you can enter to win it (until April 29) —along with 30+ exciting Inspirational Romance ebooks from a great collection of authors… AND a brand new e-Reader!
Here’s the link ➡️ https://bit.ly/inspyromance-apr20

 

Linking up with some fabulous encouragers! Check them out:

       

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