Category: Books-DVDs

The Oh She Glows Cookbook Is Worth It for a Single Recipe Alone, but All of Them Are Delicious

Posted on Aug 20, 2014 by No Comments

I hate to cook, but it’s a little more tolerable when I have faith that the recipe I’m following is going to result in something not just edible, but good. It also helps when each recipe is an adventure, but a manageable one.

I’ve gone to the biggest farmer’s market in the area just to piece together meals from this book, even though the ingredients aren’t all that exotic (but I will say I couldn’t get rainbow carrots at my local grocery store and it was nice to find them there).

My family has enjoyed every recipe we’ve made from this book, but there’s one standout recipe that makes the whole purchase worth it all by itself: the roasted potato salad with asparagus, avocado, and dill. Doesn’t that description make your mouth water?

Angela Liddon knows her stuff. I should mention that this is a vegan cookbook, but you won’t miss the animal products. The meals are filling, have variety, and look beautiful on the plate. Even my husband is satisfied when we cook from this book. He’s said he knows we can’t go wrong as long as we’re cooking from it–he totally trusts her recipes.

The only downfall has more to do with the ingredients than the book. Sometimes the recipes take a little (lot) more preparation and forethought than I usually want to give to dinner.

For example, some ingredients may need to be soaked overnight. I generally notice that about five minutes before I’m ready to start cooking or, in the very least, I realize I forgot to do it even though I knew it needed to happen.

The majority of the recipes aren’t like that, though, and can be whipped up when you realize, “Uh-oh, they want to eat again,” and then ask yourself, “Why every night?”

Photo credit: Amazon

A Family in Transition Struggles to Adapt

Posted on Aug 18, 2014 by No Comments

What makes a family? How do we pick ourselves up and move forward when life takes an unexpected turn? The Art of Adapting is a compelling look at the trials and tribulations of a family in transition.

The Art of Adapting tells the story of Lana, Abby, Byron, and Matt. Lana is a newly single mom trying her best to take care of her son Byron and daughter Abby. As teens, Byron and Abby are both struggling to find their place in the world. Matt is Lana’s younger brother. He’s moved into their home after being hospitalized for a drug overdose.

Matt has Asperger’s Syndrome, which makes it hard for him to fit into his new environment. Nevertheless, Matt’s nonjudgmental attitude ends up providing a lifeline for Lana, Byron, and Abby.

He helps Lana see that’s it’s OK to take time to care for herself instead of focusing all her energy on worrying about what others need. He supports Byron’s desire to be an artist despite his father’s instance that Byron’s a natural athlete and provides Abby with encouragement when she’s struggling with an eating disorder.

I found all of the characters in The Art of Adapting to be well developed and likeable, which made for a compelling narrative despite the lack of scenes which could be classified as dramatic in the traditional sense.  I’m not normally a fan of books where the perspective keeps shifting constantly, but the alternating voices in The Art of Adapting give you a unique look at how everyone is connected in this non-traditional family.

The Art of Adapting is author Cassandra Dunn’s debut novel, but I’m already looking forward to reading her next book.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Amazon

Introduce Your Little Crafter to the Joys of Washi Tape

Posted on Aug 12, 2014 by No Comments

Totally Washi! More than 45 Super Cute Washi Tape Crafts for Kids by Ashley Ann Laz is chock-full of crafty inspiration for creative kids. Laz’s project suggestions are perfect for children ages 8 and up to make on their own or with a friend.

In case you don’t already know, washi tape is a type of decorative masking tape used for various forms of paper crafting. It originated in Japan, but is now fairly easy to find in the United States. You can find rolls for just $1 at Joann Crafts and Dollar Tree Stores. The Scotch Expressions line at Walmart and Target is a little more expensive, but there are some gorgeous patterns available there.

Totally Washi! is divided into four sections:

  • For You and Your Friends (gift ideas, including jewelry)
  • For Your Room
  • For the Holidays
  • For School

Totally Washi! is nicely laid out, the instructions are easy for a young crafter to follow, and the author always points out when adult supervision is needed. For example, the temporary wallpaper project clearly states that the child should have a parent help them place the tape instead of attempting to climb the ladder on their own.

You might not think there are that many things you can do with pretty tape, but there’s an impressive range of ideas in Totally Washi!

Honestly, there were several projects in this book that I wanted to make as an adult. The jewelry organizer and washi tape wall calendar are cute, practical, and inexpensive. The washi tape stud earrings would be fabulous handmade gifts for friends and family. I even saw several projects that could be made with patterned duct tape, if desired.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Amazon

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey Can Show You the Way to a Debt-Free Life

Posted on Aug 11, 2014 by No Comments

I’ve heard so much about Dave Ramsey over the years, but for some reason I was really stubborn about actually buying one of his books, thinking the tidbits of information I’d heard, little snippets of advice shared, pretty much summed it all up.

Curiosity recently got the best of me, though, during a sale, and I picked up The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness.

You know what? I don’t feel like a sucker. I actually enjoyed his writing style, found his message clear to understand, and liked the fitness analogy he used throughout the book. I think his tips are practical and see how they could lead anyone straight out of debt.

His tips aren’t necessarily easy to follow, because it takes a lot of planning with your spouse, and you may have to tell yourself “no” a lot when you’re used to telling yourself “yes” (that one’s pretty hard when you find out a bunch of small things have been adding up to a totally butchered budget).

Ramsey discusses an emergency cash reserve, IRAs, budgeting your money so you don’t overspend, paying off your debt (including your house), and even saving for your kids’ college. It’s like he paved the whole road for you—all you have to do is hydrate, put on your sneakers, and put in the effort to walk all the way to the end (see how easy it is to carry on with the fitness metaphor?).

I highly recommend this book. I’ve already started putting some of the tips into practice, but I plan to get a babysitter and go out for coffee with my husband for a date solely devoted to setting up a game plan for becoming debt-free (yep, even the house!) and with a more concrete savings plan for our daughter’s college tuition.

Photo credit: Amazon

5-Ingredient Recipes for Quick Weeknight Meals

Posted on Aug 5, 2014 by No Comments

Even though I own a ridiculous amount of cookbooks, it’s the 5-ingredient cookbooks I find myself coming back to again and again. If you share my love of easy to prepare meals, you’ll definitely want to check out the newly published WHAT’S FOR SUPPER: 5-Ingredient Weeknight Meals written by Southern Living Test Kitchen Specialist Vanessa McNeil Rocchio.

The goal of this beautifully designed book is to encourage you to whip up tasty homemade meals in less time than it takes to call for takeout. Everything is made using 5 ingredients or less (not including basics like oil, vinegar, sugar, or condiments) and can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

The ingredients all look fairly easy to find and there are several ideas that even the pickiest child is sure to enjoy. There is no nutritional data provided, however, so please keep this in mind if anyone in your family has special dietary restrictions.

Chapters in this 160-recipe collection include:

  • Hot Off the Grill
  • No-Cook Suppers
  • Pastas and Pizzas
  • Not Just for Breakfast
  • Dinner in a Dish
  • So Easy Sides
  • 3-Ingredient Desserts

WFS_ChickenSalad

Here’s a sample recipe for you to enjoy, reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Curried Mango Chicken Salad

MAKES: 4 servings
HANDS-ON TIME: 8 min.
TOTAL TIME: 8 min.

This tropical-inspired chicken salad gets a kick from curry powder. For a spicier version, try hot Madras curry, or stir in some hot mango chutney.

  • 4 cups chopped deli-roasted chicken
  • ½ cup chopped salted cashews
  • 1 large mango, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1½ tsp. curry powder
  • 2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
  • Garnish: chopped cashews

Place first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients;  add to chicken mixture, stirring gently. Serve over lettuce.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Southern Living

Countablock Makes It Fun for Toddlers to Learn Their Numbers

Posted on Aug 5, 2014 by No Comments

Countablock, written by Christopher Franceschelli and featuring art by Peskimo, is the newly released companion to the bestselling children’s board book Alphablock. Just as Alphablock taught toddlers the ABCs last year, Countablock promises to teach children how to count from 1 to 100.

Learn to count board books are a dime a dozen, but the structure of this book is certainly more engaging than most. Each number is presented in a two page spread with die cut edges and graphics that invite the child to guess at the transformation being pictured.

For example, one acorn becomes one oak tree when fall arrives, two snowmen become two puddles when the temperature rises, and three empty cardboard boxed become three forts when they’ve been decorated by a creative little boy. In this way, Countablock teaches your child about numbers as well as cause and effect.

Countablock features numbers from 1-100, although the book starts featuring 10 numbers per page once the numbers hit the double digits. Your child can count piles of sand that have turned into sand castles, caterpillars that have turned into butterflies, eggs that have turned into chickens, and more.

The illustrations in Countablock have a hip, retro feel and the book itself is very well made. The cover and inside pages feel sturdy enough to stand up to a curious child’s exploration, although it’s a bit on the heavy side to simply throw in a diaper bag for story time on the go. I’d suggest saving this book for use at home.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Amazon

Link Round-up: DIYs and How to Dress Up Books and Walkways

Posted on Jul 31, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has tons of delicious recipes and a couple of DIYs to dress up your books and walkways.

Mom Endeavors taught us how to make easy, fun multicolored (striped!) popsicles.

Amanda’s Cookin’ shared a Quaker Oats meatloaf recipe.

A Cedar Spoon offered a peppermint cacao smoothie recipe.

Take a Bite Out of Boca showed us how to make banana frozen yogurt.

link ru stamped bookmarks

Muslin and Merlot showed us a cute way to turn a stamped envelope into a bookmark.

The Country Chic Cottage taught us how to make neon terra cotta solar lights.

Confessions of an Overworked Mom shared a recipe for a paleo-friendly cherry crumble.

Photo credit: Mom Endeavors and Muslin and Merlot

Moms and Students Can Enjoy #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso

Posted on Jul 21, 2014 by 1 Comment

If you’re interested in starting your own business and like books with a sassy voice, #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso is a fantastic read. If you know a high school student or recent graduate who doesn’t want to go the traditional college route (and maybe even if they do), this is a good story to share with them.

The book tells the story of Sophia Amoruso’s journey from the early days of selling on eBay and having nothing, to building a $100 million+ business (Nasty Gal) around vintage clothing finds and gorgeous newer clothing from today’s designers.

I personally loved the smart, let-it-all-hang-out, no secrets story. It’s a quick read and how can it help being an inspirational tale? Amoruso went from dumpster diving for bagels to becoming the CEO and founder of a successful business, in large part by starting small and paying attention to the little details.

It may be just the reminder that you, a teen, or young adult trying to find their way, could use in order to turn dreams into a reality.

#GirlBoss inspires its readers to take control of their lives and make things happen, no matter how much it seems the odds are stacked against them. It’s not your typical how-to or motivational story. It’s a funny, fresh read that reminds you how much a situation can change with the right amount of dedication, passion, and belief that things will all work out.

It feels like you’re reading an intriguing story more than a guide, but there’s so much knowledge tucked into those pages, too.

Photo credit: Amazon

Book Blocks Encourage Motor Skills While Developing Baby’s Visual Acuity

Posted on Jul 18, 2014 by No Comments

Board books and building blocks are two classic toys that help your little one develop important skills. Baby’s First Book Blocks is a set of mini board books that double as building blocks to help babies develop visual acuity and encourage burgeoning motor skills.

unnamed (1)It’s a popular myth that babies can’t see in color, but research shows that babies can see well enough to distinguish between subtly different shades by just two months of age.

Parents can use Baby’s First Book Blocks to encourage baby’s visual development by spending just a few minutes a day with their child looking at the bold colors, diverse shapes, and intricate patterns shown within each book.

As baby grows, the books can be stacked, sorted, and used to build simple structures much like any other set of building blocks.

Illustrator/author Dan Stiles is also the author of Put on Your Shoes! and the upcoming, Today I’m Going to Wear…. Over the past 20 years, Stiles has collaborated with everyone from indie bands to major corporations in creating identities, advertising, custom packaging, and limited edition collectible art and merchandise. His clients range include Death Cab for Cutie, Sonic Youth, Wilco, the X Games, IBM, and Old Navy. Stiles lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and daughters.

Baby’s First Book Books are available on Amazon and from many major bookstores. Priced at about $10, they are affordable as well as educational. If your children are past the board book stage, this would be an excellent gift idea to keep in mind for any upcoming baby showers or a practical donation for local holiday toy drives.

Photo credit: POW! Books