Life in Lape Haven

Archive - September 2016

A Lady Unrivaled – Book Review & Giveaway

Life in Lape Haven: A Lady Unrivaled - Book Review & Giveaway. Roseanna White's latest release in her Edwardian-era "Ladies of the Manor" series is a perfect conclusion to all the intrigue, drama, and romance that we have followed throughout the trilogy. You can win a copy of her book, A Lady Unrivaled, by entering the giveaway.

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If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know by now that I read a good bit, especially Christian historical fiction. It’s one of the ways I get my mind to slow down after a busy day of being Mom. And you probably already know that I’m a big fan of Roseanna White. Over the past year, I’ve been privileged to review and giveaway copies of both The Lost Heiress and The Reluctant Duchess, Books 1 and 2 in her “Ladies of the Manor” series.

Today I finally get to introduce you to Roseanna’s last book in the trilogy, A Lady Unrivaled, as well as offer a copy to one of my happy readers. (More on the giveaway in a moment.)

In A Lady Unrivaled, we are once again transported back to Edwardian-era England (with a little stop-over in Paris to pick up a new character) and reunited with all of our favorite characters, both from upstairs and downstairs, both good and bad, as Roseanna weaves together the conclusion of all the intrigue, drama, and romance we’ve followed through The Lost Heiress and The Reluctant Duchess.

Adorable and optimistic Lady Ella Myerston and the infamous former rogue, Lord James Cayton, find themselves in a rather unique situation: Trying really hard NOT to fall for each other as they PRETEND TO BE falling for each other as part of a ruse to help them solve the mystery of the Fire Eyes diamonds and rid their families of the threat those supposedly-cursed jewels have brought to everyone around them.

Life in Lape Haven: A Lady Unrivaled - Book Review & Giveaway. Roseanna White's latest release in her Edwardian-era "Ladies of the Manor" series is a perfect conclusion to all the intrigue, drama, and romance that we have followed throughout the trilogy. You can win a copy of her book, A Lady Unrivaled, by entering the giveaway.

 

I’ve been waiting for Lady Ella’s story since the very first book, and it does not disappoint. I love how her sunshiny personality and her determination to find the happiness in life aren’t just fluff and silliness, but are based in her belief that there is always hope, especially when you are trusting God. She’s an intelligent girl, who listens to God’s leading, and is not as naïve as some may think, despite her optimistic views on life. She definitely sees hope for cranky Lord Cayton, and her mischievous flirting and teasing to both annoy him and make him smile (when he’s stubbornly refusing to) are quite fun to read.

Cayton himself struggles with the reputation of who he once was, even as he’s trying to live in the reality of who he is now, thanks to God’s transforming power in his life. He’s constantly being reminded of his past, most often by those wanting to use his former ways to get to the diamonds or those who don’t quite trust the “new” him. Teaming up with Ella means having a constant cheerleader by his side and makes hiding behind his gruff and super-serious manner a little harder than before.  Following his character’s journey from near-villain to redeemed hero has been one of my favorite parts of the whole series.

We also get to discover a little of the backstory of creepy Lord Rushworth and his never-very-nice sister, Lady Catherine Pratt, thanks to the addition of a new lady’s maid, Kira, whose own story is tangled up with the Fire Eyes as well. Expect a few surprising twists from these three – that’s all I’ll say. 🙂

With A Lady Unrivaled, Roseanna has once again brings together a story with humor, heart, mystery, and a strong spiritual theme that will encourage you in your own walk with God. It’s a series that I’m sad to see end, but one that I know I’ll be rereading often.

Thank you so much, Roseanna White and Bethany House Publishing, for allowing me the chance to be an advance reader yet again. 🙂 Note: While I did receive this book in exchange for my honest opinion, my endorsement of it is based solely on how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Below is a little bit more about Roseanna with links to her website and blog. You can also follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.

 

ABOUT ROSEANNA WHITE:Life in Lape Haven: The Reluctant Duchess - Interview with Roseanna White & GIveaway. In celebration of the release, The Reluctant Duchess, the second book in her Edwardian-era "Ladies of the Manor" series, Roseanna White is sharing about the intrigue, romance, and inspiration in her latest story. Also, you can enter for a chance to win a copy for yourself.

Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two small children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of 10 historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels…to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring.  She makes her home in the breathtaking mountains of West Virginia. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com  and at Writing Roseanna.

⇒ GIVEAWAY ⇐

Now it’s your chance to read Lady Ella and Lord Cayton’s story for yourself. Enter below to win your own paperback copy of A Lady Unrivaled!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for entering! This contest is open to residents of the U.S. only and runs from Thursday, September 29 (12:00 a.m.) through Monday, October 3, 2016, at 11:59pm EST (I know, specific.).  The winner will be notified by email within 48 hours of the contest ending. Winner has 48 hours to respond before another winner is selected.

Don’t want to wait for a giveaway to end? You can read an excerpt from A Lady Unrivaled on the Bethany House site.

 

Of course, you can always purchase a copy from your favorite bookseller or download it on Kindle to start reading it right now. 🙂

3 Things I Know About Becoming a Mother

Life in Lape Haven: 3 Things I Know about Becoming a Mother. With all the parents-wanting-to-be swooning over my baby belly lately, I find that there are a few things I want them to know about what it means to become a mommy or a daddy.

Counting from when I first became pregnant with Elijah, I’ve been a mother for around seven years. Looking back at the starry-eyed mommy-wanting-to-be that I was when we were first preparing to start our family, I don’t think I realized how much I would change or all that I would learn once I became a mother.

I’ve been reminded of my own eager mommy naiveté lately, as young female friends, family, and even strangers swoon over my baby belly with their own hopes and dreams of becoming mommies someday. I find myself smiling at their innocence with a “you have no idea” knowing that only comes from experience. I remember well that “Oh, babies are so precious,” and “children are so fun” mindset that painted motherhood and parenting as idealistically as a newborn diaper commercial. Not that babies and children aren’t precious and fun, but parenting isn’t all sweet things and blissful days and nights.

So from my seven years of mothering, here are three things I know about what it means to become a mother. (And most of this applies to becoming a daddy, too, but since I’m a mom, that’s where I write from.)

#1. YOU WILL CHANGE FROM HEAD TO TOE, INSIDE AND OUT

From the moment those two little pink lines show up on the pregnancy test (and even before then), you begin changing, and you’ll never be the same again. Everyone realizes that a pregnant woman’s body changes in multiple ways, and despite our current culture’s pressure for moms to just snap right back to their pre-baby selves, it really isn’t realistic (or fair or necessary). Sure you can lose the extra weight, especially when you breastfeed, and you can exercise and tone up, but it will, and should, take some time. Plus there will still be areas of your body that are changed forever, even if others never see the evidence.

And the physical changes are actually the least drastic of them all.

Yes, mommies-wanting-to-be, there are more dramatic adjustments once you have a child than stretchmarks and maybe a belly pooch.

Motherhood changes EVERYTHING – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, socially, and financially.

Life in Lape Haven: 3 Things I Know about Becoming a Mother. With all the parents-wanting-to-be swooning over my baby belly lately, I find that there are a few things I want them to know about what it means to become a mommy or a daddy.

Think you’ve loved someone before? It won’t compare to when you hold that baby for the first time (or even feel his first kicks in your belly). Ever been frustrated? Try going up against a strong-willed toddler in the epic parenting face-offs known at “potty training” or “naptime.” Been proud of someone? Just wait until your mini-me digs deep and determinedly learns to tie her shoes or ride a bike or starts to read or shows compassion and generosity toward others.

And before you have children, let’s face it – You pretty much think about yourself and what you need. Yes, marriage is good at teaching you to put someone else first, and hopefully you consider your spouse’s needs and sacrifice for them. However, from your first seconds of parenthood (and on for basically the rest of your life), so many decisions and choices will be run through the filter of “how will this affect my child?” Don’t believe me? Everything you do when you’re pregnant will prove it – what you eat, how you care for yourself, and what you do. Once that little bundle of joy arrives, you’ll plan your days around their naps or feedings or both (maybe not precisely, but at least roughly), you’ll make grocery lists based on what your preschooler will actually eat this week, and you’ll pick where you live with consideration of the schools in the area.

Every major decision you make will also be even more a matter of prayer. Seriously, I don’t know that any area of your life will be as affected by parenting as your spiritual walk. You’ve only THOUGHT you needed wisdom before. Raising children will take you to your knees like nothing else. Patience, discernment, direction, peace – yep, you’ll need everything God can give. And trusting God hits a whole new level when you place your child in His hands.

While most people know that having children will affect you financially – they do have to eat and be clothed, after all – I’m not sure how many nonparents realize how different your social life will become once Junior is in the picture. Even beyond going out often and easily (either you are taking your children – that’s a whole new ballgame – or you’re arranging for a babysitter), unless all your friends have children or really love kids, there are going to be some that just don’t get your new situation in life. You most likely won’t have as much time or even interest in things you used to do often, and they probably won’t have the same excitement you have over your child’s latest milestones or in seeing all 557 pictures you took of your little one that morning at the park. You will be at different places in your life, and that’s okay. God has His own unique plan for each of us and our families. So be prepared to give them some grace, and do your best to keep in touch, even if you don’t spend as much time together as you used to.

 

#2. YOU WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH

I know. I KNOW. This isn’t what any of us want to hear. We want to think that we can rock this parenting thing if we just try hard enough, get super organized, stop comparing ourselves to other moms, embrace our own strengths, and so on. In fact, it’s kind of a thing among the mother and women’s community at large right now to loudly and repeatedly tell you that “You are enough!” There are blogs, t-shirts, memes, coffee mugs, and who knows what all else to remind you of your wonderful capabilities and awesome mom potential.

However, all of those well-meaning cheerleaders are setting you up for frustration, disappointment, and no end of discouragement because it’s simply not true.

You, in and of yourself, are not, and will never be, enough for your children. No amount of effort on your part is going to change that.

I’m not sure why we would want to fight so hard to prove we can do it by ourselves. Parenting is HARD, like, REALLY HARD.

I know I’m not the only mother who has those days when I can’t wait for my husband to get home- not because I’ve missed him or have something important to tell him, but simply because I NEED HIS HELP. I need a break from our boys, from their demands for my attention, from their fighting, from the constant giving and caring I’ve been doing since I woke up that morning. Tagging out when Brad is ready to take over can be such a relief.

In those moments, if I believed I was supposed to be enough for them, I would feel like such a complete failure.

Thankfully, I KNOW that I’m not. And I know that Brad’s not enough as their dad. Even together, amazing parents that we are :), we aren’t enough for our precious boys.

And we’re glad about that.

Why?

Because we know that God did not design parenting (or much else in life) to be something you could do independent of Him. It’s something you can only do well WHEN you rely on Him.

Life in Lape Haven: 3 Things I Know about Becoming a Mother. With all the parents-wanting-to-be swooning over my baby belly lately, I find that there are a few things I want them to know about what it means to become a mommy or a daddy.

We are never enough, but He is ALWAYS MORE THAN ENOUGH. We will make mistakes and fail, but He is perfect and always faithful.

2 Corinthians 3:9 reminds us that His “’grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Yes, I “can do all things,” but it’s only “through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Being able to seek God’s guidance, strength, PATIENCE, wisdom, and power instead of relying on my own (very weak) human strength, allows me to be the mom that God called me to be to my children.

God planned for me to be their mother, and God has gifted me with talents and abilities that I can use in that calling, but I can’t do it without Him.

And my kids need to know that, too. I’m not my children’s source. It’s not my job to be their source of joy or of peace, of safety or of health, of goodness or of salvation. They need to rely on God as much as I do. But if I’m trying to be “enough” for them on my own, how will they realize their need for Him?

 

#3. YOU WILL NEVER WANT TO GO BACK

Parenting is hard, and it changes everything for you, but I can promise you that even despite that, you will NEVER want to go back to life before your children.

Not seriously, anyway.

There may be days that you reminisce about how easy and carefree life was when two or three kids weren’t fighting in the background, or how awesome it was to get a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep once upon a time. But honestly, in your heart of hearts, you will never, ever want to go back to not being a parent.

And perhaps this is the part that longing-to-be-mommies and – daddies see in us that makes them swoon and sigh over our sweet new little ones, our precocious preschoolers, or our growing grade-schoolers. They see that overwhelming, straight-from-heaven love that softens the difficult days and cements the really great ones into our memories forever. They hear the pride and joy in our voices (or read it in our social media posts) when our kids do something adorable or impressive. They may not have faced the struggles of parenting yet, but they see the rewards in our relationship with our children, these amazing, inspiring, precious gifts from God.

When those young, naïve parents-wanting-to-be start talking about how awesome it will be to a mom or dad someday, I find myself smiling at their innocence with a “you have no idea” knowing that only comes from very cherished experience. 🙂

Chocolate Cake with Simple “Bavarian” Cream Filling & Chocolate Ganache

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday: Chocolate Cake with Simple Bavarian Cream & Chocolate Ganache. Easy recipes for a tasty Bavarian cream filling and decadent chocolate ganache that take a regular boxed Devil's food cake from ordinary to extraordinary with very little effort or time!

In my family, there are three of us with birthdays in September. Not only do my dad, my younger brother, and I share a birthday month, but we nearly share a birthday week (Dad’s is on the 5th, Caleb’s is the 7th, and I’m a week later on the 14th). Growing up, my parents did a good job of commemorating each birthday separately, so that we each had our own day and our own birthday cake (or whatever treat we requested).

Of course, now that we all have families of our own, getting together three times in just over a week is simply not practical, so we tend to usually have one party to celebrate for all three of us.

This year, I provided the birthday cake.

Over the last few weeks, thanks to pregnancy cravings and a lifelong love of chocolate, chocolate cake has been looking especially tempting. However, thanks to pregnancy issues, like heartburn and that persistent yucky taste in my mouth, I knew that indulging that craving wouldn’t come without a price. Up until last week, the cost outweighed the desire. And then I caved.

With only a few days until our planned birthday gathering, I broke down and baked myself a chocolate cake. However, having put off this craving for so long, this wasn’t going to be my regular chocolate cake. It had to be a little something special.

A couple minutes of searching on Pinterest, and I was making a chocolate cake with a delicious but easy Bavarian cream filling, topped with a decadent chocolate ganache.

It came together so simply that I wasn’t sure it would be all that spectacular, but OH MY, it was scrumptious. After cutting into it, I sent a picture to my mom because we like to share good recipes with each other. (I also took some over to them the next day because I’m a sweet daughter and because there was no way my guys and I could – or should – eat it all.)

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday: Chocolate Cake with Simple Bavarian Cream & Chocolate Ganache. Easy recipes for a tasty Bavarian cream filling and decadent chocolate ganache that take a regular boxed Devil's food cake from ordinary to extraordinary with very little effort or time!

Her text reply was: “Nice. You made it too early. Dad wants chocolate cake Monday.”

So yesterday found me back at, putting together this delicious chocolate cake with its simple but yummy cream filling, all covered with that addictively rich chocolate ganache.

Brad, who is usually more of a vanilla cake fan, loved it, declaring it “one of the best chocolate cakes” he’d ever had. (Although, he tends to think a lot of the things I’m make are “the best ever,” like my homemade vanilla ice cream, which would be amazing with this cake.)

Even though it didn’t turn out to be my prettiest cake ever (I didn’t wait for the ganache to cool quite enough), it was still a big hit at our birthday shindig. I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes one of my requested, regular contributions to family gatherings in the future. I know I wouldn’t mind indulging again!

Okay, so here’s how I made each part of the chocolate cake.
CHOCOLATE CAKE:

This is super easy! It was a boxed Devil’s Food Cake mix from Aldi.  All I did differently from the directions was to substitute melted butter for the vegetable oil (make sure you let it cool after you melt it) and use milk instead of water. I baked it in round 9” pans for about 28 minutes. The cake turned out super moist and yummy, a perfect base for all the extras to come.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

I found this “Perfect Chocolate Ganache” recipe by Natasha’s Kitchen on Pinterest, and by following her very easy instructions, I made my first-ever ganache with only one problem – I did learn that allowing it to cool and thicken a bit more than the 15 minutes she specified made it cover my cake sides a little better.

BAVARIAN CREAM FILLING:

I had picked up a box of vanilla pudding mix when I bought my cake mix, knowing I could somehow combine it with whipped cream to make a tasty cake filling. Using this “Easy Bavarian Cream Filling” recipe from Sprinkled with Jules, with a minor tweak by myself, I had a perfect filling in no time with very little effort. Yes! The filling is a creamy vanilla without being too sweet. Also, I imagine that this idea could easily be switched up using different flavors of pudding mix. Yummy! (Below is my recipe).

Simple “Bavarian” Cream Filling

Yield: About 4 cups

Simple “Bavarian” Cream Filling

A creamy vanilla cream that is not too sweet but is super simple. It's the perfect filling for any cake!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 box Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix (3.4 oz size, says serves 4)
  • ¼ tsp. Vanilla
  • 3-5 Tablespoons Milk

Instructions

  1. Whip heavy cream on high with mixer until stiff peaks form, just as you would for homemade whipped cream.
  2. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the vanilla pudding mix, sprinkling it around and mixing until it is thoroughly incorporated. (You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.)
  3. Still mixing on low, add in vanilla extract.
  4. Add milk one tablespoon at a time, until it smooths out to your desired consistency. The more milk you add, the smoother it will be.
  5. You can refrigerate the filling until you are ready to use it.
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