As a young girl growing up in a peasant family in Puwei village in China, Lily is favoured by her parents through the largesse of a matchmaker. Not for her wedding match, however, but for the pairing between her and her laotong, an emotional bond with another girl - an ‘old same’ to whom Lily is contracted. Since the other girl, Snow Flower, comes from a better family, it is to Lily and her family that Snow Flower visits, Lily believing that the status of her own family is not good enough for her to visit and stay with Snow Flower’s. They go through all of the rituals that were expected of girls and women in China in the 1800’s: footbinding, betrothal to men they had never met and the wedding ceremonies that follow as well as events that affect everyone – famines and diseases. When they are apart, they communicate through a secret women’s writing called nu shu – a practice not understood or given any value to by men. It is through these writings – often secret messages written on their shared and valuable possession – a fan – that they find comfort and happiness, but also share their loneliness and despair when faced with an unjust mother-in-law or husband. Their friendship traverses villages and people but always comes back to whether or not they can depend on each other through the worst events in their lives.

This is a wonderful book that shows the historical perspective of women's lives in China in the 19th century.

Review: THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING by Joshilyn Jackson

Laurel Hawthorne, her husband David and daughter Shelby live an idyllic life in an idyllic gaited community called Victorianna. Life is wonderful until one late night Laurel is visited in her dreams by the image of Shelby’s best friend, Molly, who leads her to the backyard swimming pool. There Laurel discovers Molly’s floating, lifeless body and suddenly the carefully constructed world Laurel has created starts to come apart at the seams – nothing is as perfect as she thought it was and Laurel’s efforts at keeping it all together unravels slowly at first but quickly gathers steam. Laurel seeks the help of Thalia, Laurels estranged sister, as the only person who has the force of personality to deal with police questions and to find out what really happened that night.

This book reveals what it would be like to have an outwardly perfect family held up to a magnifying glass. It was a good read and I would recommend it.


In the 1930’s two young girls, Esme Lennox and her sister, start life together in India where their father practices law. Kitty, the older sister, conforms to the norms and etiquette of the day while Esme is more herself – beyond the normal conventions, trying to live her life ahead of the times. Needless to say, this behaviour gets her into trouble.

Fast forward to present day and a young woman called Iris Lockhart, who owns a second hand clothing store in London. Iris receives a mysterious phone call concerning a great-aunt who until that time Iris was unaware existed. Her grandmother, so she thought, was an only child. Iris is told that the great-aunt must find some other accommodation since the institution in which she lives is closing. And about time too – it being an outdated, outmoded psychiatric hospital. Suddenly Iris finds herself coping with an elderly relative who, in turns out, is not so unlike herself in many ways.

The journey with her aunt leads to many discoveries, not the least is which some long buried family secrets.

I definitely recommend this book! The writing is fast-paced, the plot intriguing and the characters are well laid out.

Last dessert for December!!!

Apple Toffee Cake

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
2 cups diced apples
1 pkg butterscotch bits (I use Skor)
1/3 cup flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Cream together butter and sugar till fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. In separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Mix flour alternately with sour cream into butter mix. Fold in apples and 1/2 pkg butterscotch bits (I only use a 1/4 pkg). Pour batter into greased 9x13 pan.

Cut the second amount of flour, brown sugar, & butter together. Mix in the other 1/2 pkg of butterscotch bits (again I use 1/4) and the white chocolate chips. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.


Layered Lemon Dessert

This is a labour intensive undertaking, but really worth the effort!

Cookie Layer

250 ml (1 cup) flour
½ cup soft butter
1/3 cup ground almonds
2 Tbsp sugar

Whipped Cream Layer

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

Cream Cheese Layer

8 oz. pkge cream cheese (soft)
½ cup icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla

Lemon Layer

7.5 oz pkge lemon pie filling (I use Sherrif’s)
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup cold water
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds


1. Mix cookie layer ingredients together until it forms balls and is well combined. Press into 2 L (8 “) pan. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes until golden. Cool.

2. Beat cream cheese layer ingredients together until smooth. Fold into ½ the whipped cream and spread over cold crust.

3. Prepare pie filling according to package directions, omitting butter. Cool to lukewarm stirring occasionally. Spread over cheese layer. Refrigerate until cold.

4. Spread remaining whipped cream over lemon layer. Refrigerate. Garnish with almonds just before serving.

Almond Torte

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line with parchment paper, and then grease a springform cake pan.

2 eggs
½ cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
¾ cup flour

Mix eggs and sugar, blending well. Melt butter, let cool a bit then add it and the flour alternately to the mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until top is golden - about 30 minutes.

½ cup sugar
½ cup butter

Melt butter and add sugar and 2 tbsp milk. Bring to a boil. Add the almonds, boil gently for one minute then lower heat and cook until mixture is creamy. Pour over cake then bake at 300 F til almonds have browned, about 15 minutes. Remove, cool and serve.

To dress up torte: when cooled, roll edge in icing sugar and then sprinkle on top.

Scotch Shortbread

Here is the first recipe for Sweet Saturday!

2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Sift brown sugar (I use a fine mesh strainer). Cream butter and add sifted sugar. Add flour one cup at a time. Roll out dough. Cut as desired - cookie cutters or cut into even squares. Place on cookie sheet at least one inch apart and bake one hour in a 250 degree oven. Turn sheet around half way through baking.

Sweet Saturday!

I'm taking part in Sweet Saturday. Every Saturday in December I will post a dessert recipe on my blog. I like cooking and enjoy baking even more so when I saw this event posted on I knew I was going to participate. Head on over to Pudgy Penguin Perusals to find out the details of how you can sign up even if you don't have a blog!

BookBound ♣ ♣ ♣ Mamanunes Templates ♣ ♣ ♣ Inspira��o: Templates Ipietoon
Ilustra��o: Gatinhos - tubes by Jazzel (Site desativado)