Welcome! I'm Cookie's Mom. You can learn all about Cookie and why I blog here: About Cookie's Chronicles. If you're new here, you may want to SUBSCRIBE TO MY RSS FEED. Thanks for stopping by! Pull up a beach chair and be my guest, won't you?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays

Source: google.ca via Sue on Pinterest

I'm taking a break to enjoy the holidays with my family, but there is plenty still going on at Cookie's Book Club through December and January:
My favourite indie reads of 2011 with guest posts and loads of great giveaways from the authors.

Be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed so you don't miss a thing!

Here are some of the authors who will visit Cookie's Book Club this month:

Andre Jute, author of IDITAROD A Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, STIEG LARSSON Man, Myth & Mistress, and many others.

Christopher Bunn, author of The Tormay Trilogy and others.

Patricia Sierra, author of J.D.: The Plot to steal J.D. Salinger's Manuscripts, Sheet Music and others.

Lin Pardy, author of Bull Canyon: A Boatbuilder, A Writer and Other Wildlife and many others.

Steve Konkoly, author of The Jakarta Pandemic and Black Flagged.

Deborah Ross, author of Northlight, Jaydium, and many, many others.
Donna Fasano, author of Taking Love in Stride and Mountain Laurel, among many, many others.
And introducing...
Dakota Franklin, author of the multi-book series Ruthless to Win.

Deborah Bryan, author of The Monster's Daughter.
I am also going to be hosting a number of giveaways in participation with a number of giveaway hops. These are BIG giveaway events you don't want to miss.
Three giveaway hops! Hundreds of bloggers linking up to bring you hundreds of book giveaways!

December 21-27, 2011

December 27-31, 2011

December 30-Jan 3, 2011


Merry Christmas
and a
Happy New Year!
from Cookie's Chronicles
Cookie's Book Club

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Introducing Dakota Franklin
PLUS a giveaway:
Be one of the first to read Le Mans!

For the past several months, I have been involved as a co-editor of a new series of books by first-time author Dakota Franklin.  

Today I am proud to have Dakota as my guest at Cookie's Book Club, and to announce the release of the first in her Ruthless to Win series, Le Mans.

I asked Dakota how it feels to now be a published author. Come and see what she had to say!

And enter to win a copy of Le Mans, the first published book in the Ruthless to Win Series.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless(ish) Wednesday:
Paper Mache Guitar

Okay, I know I said I was on vacation, but just look at this cool guitar Jack and I made today! We recycled a mandarin orange box and a tube from something (I collect stuff from who knows where). A little papier-mâché, some paint, a few elastics and a bread bag fastener for a pick! Et voilà! A GUITAR!

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Sick boy overnight - stomach flu. : (

Any bets on how long before mama is retching over the porcelain throne? Mama hasn't been feeling so hot these past few days.

You know you're a mom if, even though you feel like you've been drug through a knothole backwards, you can't say no when your child sweetly asks, "Mommy, can we make a paper mache guitar today?"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Favourite Christmas Song Performances

It's Monday and time once again for #MondayListicles with North West Mommy.

Today's listicle topic was selected by Amanda, mom to the adorable and now famous Lilah. You can read all about today's topic at Lilahbility.

I'm going to take a few weeks off from the mommy blogging life to enjoy some quality time with my family. There will still be lots happening at Cookie's Book Club including giveaways-a-plenty and my favourite indie reads of the year.

If you haven't already, you may want to subscribe to the Cookie's Book Club RSS feed so you won't miss a thing!

Before I go, as hinted at in my last #MondayListicles post, I am going to share with you all...

My Ten Favourite Christmas Songs

(Sorry to be a rebel, Amanda. I owe you a festive beverage!)

These are, technically, my ten favourite Christmas song performances/arrangements. I chose these pieces based on fairly simple criteria. Each one makes me stop what I am doing. My breath slows. My heart flutters. Some make me want to sing along. Some make me want to dance. All of them make me want to close my eyes and savour the moment. I hope you enjoy them too!

10. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer ~ Jack Johnson
This man's voice is an elixir to any ailment. The arrangement is pure fun!

9. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings ~ The Bare Naked Ladies with Sarah McLaughlin
Another fun arrangement. And they're Canadian, eh?
(Sorry I couldn't find a more interesting video clip for this one. You should really be dancing and singing along anyway, not staring at your computer, so get on up!)

8. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy ~ Tchaikovsky
I remember going to see The Nutcracker Suite with my mother. Very fond Christmas memories attached to this song.

7. Good King Wenceslas ~ The Skydiggers
Love this version by one of my favourite Toronto bands.

6. Winter Wonderland ~ Louis Armstrong
Ah, Louis. A beautiful spirit.

5. Sleigh Ride ~ The Glenn Miller Orchestra
SO love this song. This one is for my mom and dad. Miss you both.

4. White Christmas ~ Bing Crosby
Croon, Bing, croon while I swoon, Bing, swoon.

3. Greensleeves ~ The Vince Guaraldi Trio
Jazzy. Smooth. But not smooth jazz-y... if you know what I mean.

2. Silent Night ~ Mahalia Jackson
Powerful and heart-wrenchingly beautiful.

1. Ave Maria ~ Luciano Pavarotti
What can I say about this man with the voice of an angel? He is greatly missed.

BONUS: My husband's favourite Christmas arrangement is this Mulato Beat Remix version of Baby, It's Cold Outside with Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton
The original is just as fun, though slower. You can hear the crowd laughing in the background of the track. Can you imagine having had a chance to see these two sing together?

Merry Christmas to you all. Thank-you for a wonderfully entertaining year, and for your support.

From my family to yours, may you have good health, the comforts of home and family and friends to wrap your arms around this holiday season!




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The Jakarta Pandemic
Book Review and Interview
with Steve Konkoly


Today, at Cookie's Book Club, I review The Jakarta Pandemic and interview the author, Steve Konkoly. Stay tuned following the interview for an excerpt from Steve's newest book, Black Flagged.

Steve has also graciously offered to give away a copy each of The Jakarta Pandemic and Black Flagged to two lucky winners!

Visit Cookie's Book Club for details!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

KOOB The Viking Game

My family recently tried out a new game - an old game made new again - called KOOB The Viking Game.

The aim of the game is to conquer the King. The team that knocks over all the KOOBs (soldiers) on the opponent’s side of the field and then knocks over the King wins. There are additional 'expert' KOOB rules, but we didn't get so far as to try them out.

KOOB can be played on any level grass, sand, snow or cement area. The official size of the field is 16 x 26 feet but it can be made bigger or smaller depending on how much space you have and how hard you want to make the game.

Here are the on camera people playing KOOB.

I played it too, but there are, alas, no photos to prove it. There are also no photos to prove that I won (one out of three games). We played on one of the last days before the snow flew, on very long grass in the park behind my house. It was very windy that day. The KOOBs pretty much stayed in place despite the long grass and the wind.

Hubby and I had fun trying to outdo each other.

Jack got in on the fun too, but he played by slightly different rules than his dad and I did. The game is advertised as being for kids ages 5 and up. Jack is just four and I can see why his age group is not included, though he did have fun with his variations.

Jack: "I'll just get a little closer... A little closer... And just a little closer." - with a sly look over his shoulder at me, repeated until almost on top of the KOOB he was aiming for. Too cute!

The company sent me this product to evaluate, and, while I normally don't do the PR thing I made an exception because:
a) it is a Canadian made product,
b) it is all natural, made of unpainted wood, and
c) it encourages play, and especially outdoor play.
Disclosure: I have decided against signing up for KOOB's affiliate program for the time being - mainly because I don't have the time to be involved right now - so you know that I am not in anyway invested in whether or not you buy this product. If, after my review, you think you'd have fun playing KOOB, you can follow the link at the bottom of the review to buy your own. I earn no affiliate fees for any purchase you might make.

First Impressions

I liked the packaging as it was minimal and recyclable. The box seemed heavy, but carrying the game pieces to our playing field in the supplied muslin bag was no biggie.

It occurred to me that someone could easily make their own game pieces with some spare lumber, doweling, a saw and sandpaper. Somebody could... but I never would get around to it.

Set up

The set up was relatively easy. We started with a full sized field and then scaled it back. Because you can alter the size of the playing field, the game can be as easy or as challenging as you like. A smaller field, about 12' by 20', was big enough for us beginners to learn the technique.

Game Play

I like that there are several ways to make the game easier or more challenging, by changing the size of the playing field or by following the 'expert' rules. By the third game, we were pros - alright, not pros, but we were gaining confidence and having fun!

Final Impressions

The pieces did get dirty. Since they are made of raw, unfinished wood, moisture and dirt can seep into the pores of the wood.

I feel that the price point, at $49.95, is a little high just given the simplicity of manufacturing the pieces and low cost of the materials. But there are sites managing to sell this product for as much as $75! (Avoid them.) The pieces could be made more interesting, with extra carving detail, and painted with non-toxic paints or stains (in natural colours, preferably) to protect the wood and enhance the look of the pieces.
UDPATE A representative of the company sent me this note in response to my concerns about the product price: "I can't help but comment on your remark about the price. I completely understand your first impression, but we looked into several ways of reducing costs and they all pointed offshore. We didn't want to go that route as we want to support the local economy and control quality (and safety). In fact, we even use local hardwood and all of the products are handmade in Canada. I hope that this gives a bit of background and explains why the price is not a low as the standard Toys R Us fare."
All in all, it was a fun game that we will play again. Hubby and I both agreed that it would be more fun with more people. (KOOB can be played with 2-12 players.) We could picture it being a lot of fun at an outdoor party, and that the adults would probably get quite competitive about it.

We haven't tried playing it in the snow or on ice yet. I'll update you if we do. I'm thinking New Year's Eve at the skating rink and thermoses of hot chocolate!

Here's a video describing the game and how to play.

To buy KOOB visit www.playkoob.com

Stay tuned for a KOOB giveaway in the spring.

What do you think of this game? 
Can you see your friends and family playing it?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

My Christmas Wish List

By the way, if you're looking for another way to connect with me ('cause really, who can live with JUST Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest?), you can now find me on Google+:

It's Monday, and you know what that means!

This week, Stasha of #MondayListicles fame, has asked us for our Christmas wish list. This could be really fun!

Source: google.ca via Sue on Pinterest

First, to anyone reading this who might be in a position to buy me something for Christmas, please understand that I already love what you got me... or didn't get me... and I don't need even a single one of these things (except maybe the last two... or three). Everything I need, I already have. Love, Me.

And now to dream....

1) The perfect vacay, as recently described in The Perfect Vacay.

2) Time. Just time. Ideally, it will slow to an absolute crawl for at least a week or two.

3) Well, since I'm dreaming, I'd like lessons - lots of them: photography lessons, Spanish lessons, dance lessons, martial arts lessons, singing lessons and more guitar lessons.

4) Weekly massages. Drool.

5) Some kind of magical electronic planner that will organize my chaotic life. It wouldn't hurt if it also automagically answered the occasional email or tweet for me.

6) Books. I need more of these like a hole in the head, yet... I crave them. If I could just get a little more #2, oh, the reading I could do. (Hmm. That was very 'Dr. Seuss' of me.)

7) Music. I can never get enough of it either. Nothing helps time to slow like listening to a piece of really great music. (One of these weeks, I'm going to share my top ten Christmas songs!)

8) Snow. Yes, I'm the same girl who complains about being cold, but Christmas without snow is like PB without the J. All kinds of wrong.

9) Time with friends and family. For me, this is what Christmas is all about. Don't get me wrong, I love the excitement of opening gifts and having people open gifts from me, but the warmth provided by a house full of trusted companions, all in great spirits, can not be beat!

10) Finally, my greatest wish this season is that people take a moment to reflect on what's important, to commit acts of kindness, and to carry this goodwill long into the new year!

Oh, and I want more of these guys, who make me snort my tea they are so funny!

Having trouble viewing the video? Direct link: http://youtu.be/0AvzaGkekDE

--> More from the Bored Shorts crew.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Nate Rocks the World
Book Review and Interview with Karen Pokras Toz


Do you have any kids on your Christmas list in the 7-12-year-old age range? Take a look at today's book review and author interview at Cookie's Book Club. Plus, welcome my newest guest reviewer, my nephew J!

Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz is the story of 10-year-old Nathan Rockledge. 

"Armed only with his sketchpad, his imagination, and his wits, Nathan Rockledge navigates the perils of the fourth grade in style, to emerge heroic, as Nate Rocks, proving that even a ten-year-old can accomplish great things." ~ source: http://www.karentoz.com

Click here to read the review and 
interview with Karen Pokras Toz.

Be sure to enter the giveaway for a 
SIGNED copy of Nate Rocks the World!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless(ish) Wednesday: Memo to Mommy

I just saw this posted on Chosen Chaos and had to share it. I tracked down a copy of the original article at What a Ramsey Life (thanks Allison)! It's from the September 2008 issue of Parents Magazine, and perfect for a Wordless(ish) Wednesday.

I love this so much I'm going to print off a copy and keep it close by. Jamie of Chosen Chaos keeps hers in a drawer, so that every time she cleans out the drawer she is instantly reminded of what is important. I LOVE that!

and then, she {snapped}

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Best of the Blogosphere:
November 2011 Blog Tour

It's time for my picks for Best of the Blogosphere for the month of November! To read about how this all began, click here.

November 2011 Edition

There is so much great content out there, and since there's also a LOT of content out there it's sometimes easy to miss the really stellar posts. Every day we bloggers give pieces of ourselves to the blogosphere. This feature is my way of showing my appreciation for your efforts and to thank-you all for supporting mine.

Won't you join me?

There are three ways to participate in the Best of the Blogosphere link up!
  1. Link up your best post from the month of November
  2. Recognize a fellow blogger by linking up someone else's awesome post
  3. Write a list of the November posts you enjoyed most, like I did, and link it up. (Remember to also include in your list the post you're most proud of writing this month!)
Please grab and display my button anywhere in your post. Follow me if you like (no pressure). Feel free to leave me a comment - it makes me feel loved!


This is also a very special week for #MondayListicles with NorthWest Mommy. She is honouring Kim of Zook Book Nook. Kim has a new feature to explore the senses - this week, Stasha is guest posting and writing on the sense of sight. Kim is expecting a baby, and so we are to link up our photos as inspiration to her.

I know all of you will understand, and the very occupied Kim will understand, when I tell you that I am short on time this week. So, I am going to combine two posts in this one (three actually, since I'm also linking up with LoveLinks #33). The photos you see here are the lovely faces and buttons that belong to the talented bloggers I am recognizing this month as being the Best of the Blogosphere.

If you haven't already, pay these bloggers a visit and congratulate them!

1. This story just about broke my heart, but then filled it up again with hope and love. Ado of The Momalog brought us this guest post from her friend, and supermom, Megan: My Friend Megan

2. Chase McFadden wrote this hilarious post for Aiming Low that dads may relate to and moms will howl at: Aiming Low: Literally

3. Another funny daddy blogger, Ryan of iPadiDad always has me laughing and this month was no exception: I DO NOT have the X Factor

4. I had to laugh at this post from Jessica of Four Plus an Angel, and especially this line "I swear I watch my children....But there are a lot of them....and sometimes I have to brush my teeth or pee or blink." Mess? What Mess?

5. This was such a sweet post from Leighann of Multitasking Mumma. I could really picture the mom she describes - like every mom - with mixed feelings of joy and sadness, gratitude and regret: Proudly Becoming a Mom

6. Ado of The Momalog made my list twice this month. She's just that good. I loved her take on this #MondayListicles topic: High School years

7. I'm featuring this post by the fabulous G of Kiddothings because this post so represents where I am right now with my darling 4-year-old, and really should appear on my blog - though not written by me - and... now it does:  How To Be A 4-Year-Old PITA

8. I had to laugh at this #MondayListicles post from MaNNaHaTTaMaMMa: Are You on Vacation? Or a Family Trip?

9. This one from Nicole of By Word of Mouth Musings we can all relate to: Baby Names. And WHAT were you thinking? Do also read the comments on this one!

10. I loved this post from My 3 Little Birds, partly because of the beautiful fall photos Mary included. Her message helped me to remember that no dream is silly and that it's never too late: Why Silence is Holding You Back

Finally, my best post from the month - at least, it's my favourite - is this one: His and Hers

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Zook Book Nook

I'm also linked up with Bruna and Jen for their fabulous Friday linkups. Check them out!

Let's BEE Friends

Thursday, November 24, 2011

HypoAllergenic Cooking: Baked Apples

My American friends are celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend. A Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

If you're following a restricted diet, like me, you may not be able to indulge in some of the occasion's sweet treats, like pumpkin pie with whipped cream. But, you won't care once you have a taste of these delicious baked apples. They make for a very satisfying dessert, perfect for anyone on a restricted diet. See "Cook's Notes" for my suggestions and substitutions.

This recipe is adapted from the one at http://macrobiotic.about.com/od/desserts/r/SpicedApples.htm. I have provided the original recipe along with notes about substitutions I have made.

Recipe Details

Number of Servings: 4
Total Preparation Time: 1 hour
Actual Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Meal Type: Dessert
Special Features: Kids Love It, Kids can help make it, Vegetarian


4 Large firm, tart apples such as Crispin, Winesap, Granny Smith or Jonagold
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
1/4 cup Maple syrup or agave nectar
1/4 cup Golden raisins
1/4 cup Finely chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
1 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 cup Apple cider (or 1/2 cup water if not available)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°C.
  2. Core apples, or cut in half and remove core
  3. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
  4. Place apples in glass or other non-reactive baking dish.
  5. Mix maple syrup or agave, raisins, nuts and spices.
  6. Fill apples, or top apple halves, with mixture.
  7. Pour apple cider into bottom of dish and cover with a lid or foil.
  8. Bake 25 minutes.
  9. Remove foil, baste apples with pan juices and bake, uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until apples are tender but not mushy.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cook's Notes

If you are not allowed to have any sweetener, this can still be a very tasty dessert. Just leave out the maple syrup or agave nectar. If you are allowed to have some other sweetener, such as local or raw honey or stevia, use it.

Many varieties of apple work in this recipe. Just adjust the baking time to suit your taste. I have enjoyed both Orin and Honey Crisp varieties.

If you can't have dried fruit, you can use fresh cut up grapes instead of raisins.

Almost any nut will do, so substitute to taste or for variety. I have enjoyed both almonds and hazelnuts, raw and roasted, in this recipe.

Apple juice works just as well as apple cider, but I typically just use water.

I like a little more cinnamon in mine. You can also poke each apple with a cinnamon stick for extra cinnamon flavour and aroma.

Note that due to the altitude where I live, and/or possibly my old clunker of a stove, I need to cook these at 375°C for 35 minutes covered and an additional 15 minutes uncovered. Once you've made them as per the recipe, play around with temperature and time to get the result you want. Personally, I want the apples to be slightly crisp, but also want to be able to cut through the skin (I don't skin the apples, because there is so much goodness in the skin and I figure it holds the juice in them.)

I have been eating so many of these that I invested in a good quality apple corer, one that has a lever to release the core - highly recommended. I also recommend buying a set of four grapefruit spoons. These make cutting through the apple skins easier. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wordless(ish) Wednesday:
Mommy's Day at Preschool

Every couple of months, Jack has a VIP day at his preschool, where he gets to do all sorts of special things, and I get to go too!

This time I got to be there on Alphabet Day.

The kids were encouraged to create letter shapes using a variety of tools and toys. If they wanted to, they could write out five words to earn a sticker.

As the VIP's mom, I had the pleasure of providing the snack. Feast your eyes upon this plate of wholesome goodness!

I only have to do this once every 24 preschool days. Totally worth it to be able to kick back and let someone else feed my child the other 23 days!

I really appreciate these opportunities to see what Jack is up to at school. Kind of a fun day for mom too! The kids are too cute!