Quick Book Review: Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal (Recipe: Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oat Bars)

I recently finished the book Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal. It was pretty good. It is in the same genre as The Help which I absolutely loved. The book takes place in the mid-1960s in New Orleans when Ibby’s father unexpectedly dies and she winds up living with her grandmother who is a very quirky and rather unconventional woman. Fannie is the grandmother’s name. Fannie’s past is full of secrets which are revealed throughout the novel.

Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her opinionated daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to take treat Ibby as one of their own and teach Ibby about the ways of the South.

The book follows Ibby as she matures from a child to a young adult attending college in New Orleans and the relationships she has formed with these women.

If I were giving the book a “star” rating, I would give it 3 out of 4 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, but it didn’t knock my socks off.

So, back to Reno. Downtown Reno was rather sketchy. One block would be perfectly nice with restaurants and shops, and the next block would be deserted with empty storefronts and graffiti. But we decided we needed to venture outside of the Peppermill Casino (where we were staying) and see “The Biggest Little City in the World”.

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On Monday, I believe I told you, we made a day trip to Lake Tahoe. It is absolutely beautiful. Being that we arrived so early, we were one of a handful of individuals at Inspiration Point which looked out over Emerald Bay. It was absolutely beautiful. When we drove by the area later that day, it was completely packed with cars! I’m so glad we made it there early!

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After lunch at this delicious Italian spot, we ventured to Vikingsholm and did a hike to Lower Eagle Falls. The hike ended at a waterfall that was much better than the Calypso Falls we saw in Colorado. It was a really pretty day for a hike.

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After we saw the Lower Eagle Falls, we decided to do the hike to the Upper Eagle Falls which provided some really nice views of the area. This hike, though, was much more crowded than the Lower Eagle Falls.

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And we finished the afternoon by driving around the rest of Lake Tahoe and stopping at various lookout spots along the way to soak up this beautiful lake.

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There is a race that goes around a part of Lake Tahoe. I’ve read about it in Runner’s World. Maybe one day…

Oh! And today is Gotcha Day for Miss Envy! Two years ago today, I brought my sweet little girl home! We celebrated last night by going to an agility class!

1 year ago: My Review of the Nike Pro Rival Bra (Recipe: Dirt Bomb Muffins)

2 years ago: Weekend of Fun! (Recipe: Levain’s Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Quote of the Day:

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” -Edward Abbey

So, today was A’s first day of his new job in NC! In celebration and what was supposed to be a surprise (but he came home from the gym faster than I planned on!), I made him Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oat Bars. You know me and peanut butter! So, this was an extra special treat!

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Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oat Bars


⅔ cup salted butter, at room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar
1⅓ cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons baking soda
2 cups crunchy peanut butter (creamy peanut butter is fine, too)
6 cups old-fashioned oats (NOT quick-cooking oats)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup M&Ms


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13×18-inch half sheet pan.

2. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and baking soda and beat to combine.

3. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the peanut butter until completely combined, then stir in the oats, then the chocolate chips until all of the ingredients are fully mixed together.

4. Turn the dough out onto the prepared baking sheet and, using your hands, press into an even layer (the dough may be slightly sticky, in which case you can dampen your hands to keep it from sticking). Sprinkle the M&Ms on top and gently press into the dough.

5. Bake until the bars are just lightly browned and no longer look wet on top, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. These can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 1 week.

Courtesy of Baking Bites

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