Archive for: �’

Pinocchio

December 28, 2010 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy


I’m going off on a tangent. This post has nothing to do with Christian fiction or even secular fiction, per se. I just finished reading The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi . This is NOT THE VERSION THAT IS MOST FAMOUS VIA WALT DISNEY!!
SPOILERS BELOW!!!

I purchased the Kindle version of this book for only 99 cents, however, there is another Kindle version out there that’s free.

This book was written in Italian in 1881. It’s considered a classic and it’s a fairy tale. If you’ve read The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales, then you can get a taste for what Pinocchio is like because it’s very similiar to those, except it’s much longer.

This was a very dark story, and I wouldn’t be reading it to my five-year-old child. I think it might be appropriate for ages twelve and over.

I kept seeing things throughout the story that reminded me of the Bible. I’m not sure if that was the author’s intention, though. Pinocchio is a wooden puppet, created by his father, Geppetto. He keeps getting into mischief. For example, instead of going to school, he pawns his schoolbook for the fare to a puppet theater. Whenever he’s supposed to be doing something right, he ends up making the wrong decision. The blue fairy, who’s Pinocchio’s “adopted mother” always forgives Pinocchio for his mistakes (kind of made me think of how Christ forgives us whenever we mess up, no matter how many times). Throughout the tale, Pinocchio finds himself in various mishaps. He tries to find his poor father throughout the book, and Pinocchio’s conscience does get to him as time goes on. At first, he’s an ungrateful puppet, only wanting others to do as he pleases. When Pinocchio finds himself in the belly of a huge shark, near the end of the book, he ends up finding his father within the shark’s belly. They reunite, and manage to escape from this huge beast. That part of the story reminded me of Jonah being the belly of a whale.

Also, the theme of temptation and sin kept popping up, too. Pinocchio would try to do the right thing, but, something, or someone would appear tempting him to do wrong…and he usually did the WRONG thing. Kind of reminded me how, as humans, we can be easily tempted into sin, especially if we’re persuaded by those who have power over our minds.

This story was so DARK!! Pinocchio gets hit with a whip, he’s hung from a tree and almost dies. The blue fairy rescues him from the tree hanging around the middle of the book.

I also noticed the subject of hunger kept popping up. Pinocchio spoke often of being hungry, and he was a lazy puppet! He didn’t want to work for food, and wanted others to bow to his command. It was quite sickening after awhile.

He discovers he wants to be a real boy around the middle of the story. The Blue Fairy promises Pinocchio that he can become a real boy, but, before she can make it happen, Pinocchio, messes up again, not making the right decision. He’s forgiven and changed into a real boy at the end.

Have you read this book, or any other ORIGINAL fairy tales? What do you think of these unusual stories? Usually, people think about Disney’s sanitized versions of these dark, haunting tales…
~Cecelia Dowdy~

MERRY CHRISTMAS! :-)

December 25, 2010 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!!
~Cecelia Dowdy~
J

The Polar Express – on DVD

December 23, 2010 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy


I’m blogging about the movie, The Polar Express over on Writers’ Rest blog today! Stop by and leave a comment! Merry Christmas!

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Christmas – A Candid History

December 21, 2010 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy


Christmas – A Candid History

I purchased this book about a year or so ago. Started it, put it aside, then picked it up again this year. Still haven’t finished it, but I’m interested in the book. If you’ve talked to me, you’ll know I’m a fiction gal, and I read non-fiction sparingly. When I get a non-fiction title, even if it’s a subject matter that I’m interested in, I usually don’t finish reading the book. It’s just the way that I’m wired. But, I think I’ll finish this one eventually. This book gives a great background about the history of Christmas, going back to the days BEFORE Christ. People used to celebrate winter holidays, bringing greenery and lights into their home to make them festive during the cold, dreary, winter months. Also, this was also the season to worship pagan gods, and to get the pagan-god worshippers to convert to Christianity, Christians realized that pagans couldn’t give up all of their customs or they’d be miserable. Thus, the day of Christmas was born, the day we celebrate Jesus’s birth, complete with greenery and lights. The December 25th date was chosen because that was the celebration date of a sun god – so that date was adopted as the celebratory day of Christ’s birth.

Interesting reading that I’d recommend during this holiday season. Also, I wanted to point out that the history of Christmas has always been an interest of mine. I’m not sure if it stems from the fact that my family never really celebrated Christmas in the traditional sense. I recall going to the library, when I was still in my early twenties, searching for books about Saint Nicolas, wondering how he became so prominent as Santa Claus during our holiday festivities. I recall only finding one old, worn, dog-eared book in the library and it was short, giving a brief history of Saint Nicolas’s life and gave no indication about how he became Santa Claus. I remember when I tried to research the customs myself, I came up empty. Now, I’m able to find lots of books about the subject! Maybe my research skills weren’t as sharp back then, or, maybe such books just didn’t exist back in the early nineties?

Another book that came around that helped me find out more about the history of Christmas was Battle For Christmas. Although this book was good, it was a bit scholarly for me, but it was a wealth of information!

Do you have any favorite books about the history of Christmas? If so, let me know the titles!

~Cecelia Dowdy~
From Publishers Weekly
In this brief sketch of the history of Christmas celebrations and traditions, Forbes draws heavily on previous scholarship by the likes of Stephen Nissenbaum (The Battle for Christmas) and Leigh Schmidt (Consumer Rites), offering an overview that is informed yet concise. Forbes opens by rehearsing biblical scholars’ debates about Jesus’ birth, showing how little we can glean from the New Testament, then moves into discussions of winter festivals in early church history and the Roman Empire. The more compelling chapters are the latter ones on Christmas in America, discussing its surprising rise to prominence in the mid-19th century. Although this is a secondary work, Forbes does add some tidbits to the debates; for example, he pinpoints cartoonist Thomas Nast as primarily responsible for the mythology of Santa’s elf-ridden workshop in a far-off North Pole. Small historical errors mar the text, as when Forbes fails to distinguish between Puritans and Pilgrims, or credits British activist William Wilberforce with the Victorian moral revival, when Wilberforce died before Victoria’s accession. However, the book is valuable for its well-proven insistence that Christmas has always been as much a social and commercial festival as a religious one, debunking naïve assumptions that it used to be a purely spiritual holiday in a bygone halcyon age. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Southern Red Velvet Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting! :-)

December 19, 2010 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy


As you can guess, this one ISN’T a pic of the cake that I made. This is from the Cooking.com website:
I made this cake the other day and it is the HIGHEST/TALLEST CAKE I’VE EVER MADE IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!! That’s a pretty bold statement for me to make since I’ve made more cakes from scratch than most people since baking is one of my passions. I didn’t have enough red food coloring for the cake, so it’s not as red as it should be. With enough food coloring, the bright red cake, coupled with the white cream cheese frosting, would make an elegant and tasty Christmas cake! There’s more than enough to share with friends and family, too! I adjusted the frosting recipe. I didn’t make as much frosting as the recipe requires since I don’t like too much frosting on my cake. But, the recipe states that you can store frosting in the refrigerator for up to three days. This was the first time I’ve ever made red velvet cake and we were pleased with the result! If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and let me know how it turns out! Do any of you like red velvet cake? Have you ever made one before?

~Cecelia Dowdy~

SOUTHERN RED VELVET CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

RECIPE INGREDIENTS For the Cake:
Nonstick vegetable cooking spray, for pans
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
5 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups sugar
3 cups canola oil (Editor’s note: That’s 1 cup per cake layer!)
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons red food coloring (one 2-ounce bottle)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
1 tablespoon baking soda
5 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously spray three 9-by-2-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, and line with parchment paper. Spray the lining; dust with cocoa, tapping out any excess. Set aside. Whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa in a medium bowl; set aside.

Mix the sugar and oil at a medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time; mix well after each addition. Mix in the food coloring and vanilla. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of bowl as needed.

Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small nonreactive bowl. Add the baking-soda mixture to the batter, and mix at medium speed for 10 seconds. Divide the batter equally among the pans. Tap the pans on the counter to remove bubbles. Bake until cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the pans on a rack for 5 minutes. Invert the cakes onto wire racks to cool completely.

To assemble, place one layer top-side down on a cake stand. Using an offset spatula, spread with a 1/4-inch thick layer of frosting. Repeat with remaining layers. To frost the top and side of the cake, work from the center toward and over the edge, making sure to coat evenly. The cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
In a standing stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a handheld electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and butter at a low speed until incorporated. Add the sugar and vanilla. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

Store in the refrigerator before using, until it is somewhat stiff, about 15 minutes. The frosting may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Two Tickets To The Christmas Ball By Donita K. Paul

December 18, 2010 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

Two Tickets To The Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul

Can mysterious matchmaking booksellers bring two lonely hearts together in time for Christmas?

In a sleepy, snow-covered city, Cora Crowder is busy preparing for the holiday season. Searching for a perfect gift, a fortuitous trip to Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad’s (a most unusual bookshop) leads to an unexpected encounter with co-worker Simon Derrick. And the surprise discovery of a ticket for a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas Ball.

Every year, the matchmaking booksellers of the Sage Street bookshop host an enchanting, old-fashioned Christmas Ball for the romantic matches they’ve decided to bring together.

This year, will Simon and Cora discover a perfect chemistry in their opposite personalities and shared faith? Or will the matchmakers’ best laid plans end up ruining everything this holiday?

This book was a pleasant, short, easy read that wasn’t too deep or thought-provoking. Cora is a Christian, estranged from her worldly family. She lives alone in her apartment with her cat and she works in an office building. Mysterious Simon Derrick has worked in Cora’s office building for several years yet he’s never noticed her until he runs into her at the mysterious bookshop on Sage Street – she’s such an unknown person to him that he can’t even remember her name. Through the bookstore owners, both Simon and Cora receive unsolicited tickets to the Wizards Ball.

Through a series of events, Simon and Cora spend time together and Cora meets Simon’s family, which includes his sister, Sandy, who has Down’s Syndrome.

This story takes place in the future, and I’d love to have known the year which this story takes place. There are little things mentioned, dropped here and there, which makes the reader aware that this isn’t a story that takes place in modern times. The few things mentioned were the office building where Simon and Cora worked, the walls to the offices were glass and you could see what was going on in all offices. I’ve never seen a glass-walled office before. Also, Simon receives a phone call that’s a wrong number and he mentions that crossed phone wires were something that stopped happening a long time ago.

There was also a bit of fantasy thrown into this story. Sage Street, the location of the bookstore and the Wizards Ball, is a pleasant street filled with shops and customers milling around on the sidewalk, however, Sage Street is not always easy to find. It’s a hidden street and not all can see this fantastical place as they cruise by.

If you want a quick Christmas read, then this book is for you. The only thing I was puzzled about was Cora’s relationship with her cat. Her cat gets pregnant and Cora gets extremely upset and cries, and she feels responsible for her cat’s unwanted pregnancy. She compares her cat’s unruly behavior to the behavior of one of her wayward relatives. I didn’t quite understand the analogy since an animal getting pregnant is much different than a human’s lewd behavior, plus, it’s not as if cats can get married and plan families like humans do. This part of the book went over my head a little bit, but the rest of the story was enjoyable.

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Cheap Stocking Stuffer Idea – Only 99 cents

December 16, 2010 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

I wanted to mention that my novel collection, Chesapeake Weddings, is on sale at Christianbook.com for only 99 cents! It’s a three-book deal all under one beautiful paperback cover and it’s less than one dollar! If you’re looking for cheap deals to use as stocking stuffers this year, then you should consider my book! It’d make a great gift for friends and church members!

Relax along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay as you read about three strong African American women who suddenly face upheaval in life. Monica is caring for her abandoned nephew and trying to pick the proper tutor for him. Emily is struggling to save the family farm when a CPA turns up to do an audit. Karen has been deceived by her fianci, and now she’s expected to trust a neighbor who knows too much of her business. Can God rebuild their tattered lives with new loves?

Merry Christmas!

~Cecelia Dowdy~

The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake By Aimee Bender

December 16, 2010 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy


***Please note that this is a secular title…
The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

I saw this book mentioned via the Goodreads.com newsletter a few weeks back. I was so intrigued by the description that I ordered this title. I found it intriguing because of the food aspect. I love writing about food in my own work and some readers have told me that they get hungry when they read my novels! 🙂

Rose is celebrating her ninth birthday, and her mother bakes her a lemon cake. This cake drastically changes her life. She can taste her mother’s despondent mood in the cake. Soon, Rose finds her life spinning out of control, because when she tastes food, she tastes the emotions of the people who have prepared the foods. As you can imagine, a lot of people experience sadness and negative emotions and Rose can taste these feelings in her meals, and she finds herself not wanting to eat people’s food because the food tastes bad. She can also taste other things in the food, like, the country/state where the vegetables were grown. She can taste place the butter was manufactured. She can even taste the factories where the food was produced.

Rose does learn to deal with her “problem” by getting food from vending machines. These types of foods, made in factories, don’t encompass such an awful taste. When she does stumble upon prepared food that she enjoys, she clings to that source, wanting food from that person since it’s a rarity for her to find food that tastes good.

This book also delves into the complexities of familial relationships. Rose can knows what illicit activities her mother engages in through her food. Rose also has a hard-to-define relationship with her troubled older brother, Joe.

The book spans through several years – starting when Rose is nine and ending when Rose is in her early twenties. Her brother Joe has a best friend named George, and when Rose first discovers her food “gift” George is the only person who takes her claims seriously, and tries to get to the root of Rose’s food “problem.” Her infatuation with George increases over time since he pays more attention to her than Joe does.

I consider this book to be a literary work of fiction and, I’ll admit, I was a bit lost at the end. But I can’t tell how I felt lost without giving away a major spoiler. So, if you’ve read this book, could you email me or leave a comment so that we can discuss it? Also, I’d like for you to leave a comment about your thoughts concerning the description of this title.

~Cecelia Dowdy~
From the cover:
On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother — her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother — tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden — her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender’s place as “a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language” (San Francisco Chronicle).

My Five Year Old Son Playing Jingle Bells With His Class

December 10, 2010 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy

If you’re on Facebook, then go to my wall and check out my post with my son playing Jingle Bells! If you’re not on Facebook, then FRIEND me and I’ll show you the link! I tried to upload the video to blogger twice, but it failed both times!

If you find the video, CJ is the one in the beige pants! Enjoy! 🙂

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Family Christmas Traditions

December 10, 2010 Posted by Cecelia Dowdy


I’m blogging today about favorite family Christmas traditions over at Writers’ Rest. Stop by and leave a comment!

~Cecelia Dowdy~