Friday, 5 October 2018

India: Try the World #7

I was very excited to discover the India box.

This box included tea, dosa mix, curry spice mix, baked chickpeas, basmati rice

Book Review: Okayest Mom by Natalie Gwyn

This book is the inspiration account of Natalie Gwyn and her journey through adopting 4 children. Her and her husband felt called by God to expand their family of four and they faithfully answered the call.

The book chronicles their experience from their decision to adopt, to their trip to Africa where they first met 4 of their children to the beginnings of a family bond between parents and children, and between both sets of her children.

I really enjoyed this book. I not only enjoyed reading the adoption story but this book contains many lessons but doesn't come across as "preachy", which is hard to do. In this case, Natalie's down to earth personality and desire to follow God shine's through.

*I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Review: The Paperless Post

I am a lover of all things stationary: greeting cards, invitations, postcards. This made me super excited to try our Paperless Post when they contacted me about reviewing their service.

They have tons of e-card options for any occasion, holiday or event. I found the designs to be charming as well.

I sent a beautiful thinking of you e-card to my best friend who recently moved out to LA. I loved all the options for customizing the e-card- you can choose different stamps, envelope colors, envelope liner designs and even a background for the card to sit on. If you are sending an invitation you have options to customize the RSVP card as well. The only thing I didn't like was that I couldn't remove the RSVP card for the greeting cards. I was sending the card to my BFF so I wasn't too stressed out about asking her to respond to my well wishes- and she did with a sweet message- but if I was sending the cards to a casual friend or co-worker I would feel awkward about asking them to respond to a "get well", "sympathy" or "thinking of you message."

I also scheduled a birthday e-card to be sent to my mom later this week. If you are the type of person who sends a lot of e-cards this is a great function as you could essentially schedule your cards for the entire year in one session. I do this with my paper greeting cards. I choose one for each recipient and address and stamp the envelopes and file them by month. As the month nears, I write messages inside them and mail them out.

Paperless Post also offers the option to send print copies of many of their designs which I think is awesome as I love the designs. I had a hard time selecting a card for my mom because I found many that I thought suited her personality. The only downside I saw to this is that while you purchase coins to use for the e-cards (and each card is different number of coins and you can upgrade or downgrade), you can not use the coins to purchase actual cards. I'm never a fan of sites that make you pay in various ways. I wish it were a little more streamlined. I can understand the thought process for not using coins but it just makes life for the consumer slightly more difficult. This being the case, I would not order paper cards just to avoid the hassle.

Overall, I really liked the site design and found it intuitive to use. Another neat feature is the sight saves any cards you are sent through the site. When I signed up, I was delighted to find a copy of a wedding invitation from a friends wedding several years ago. Also, there are several free e-card options so you can try it out before investing in an upgraded serviced.

*This review was sponsored by The Paperless Post but all opinions are 100% mine and 100% honest.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Book Review: The Lucky Few by Heather Avis

Heather Avis was working as an education specialist when her and husband decided to start a family. After the painful discovery that the couldn't have biological children, Heather and her husband, Josh turn to adoption. The first child to come available has Down Syndrome and a serious heart condition. The couple pray about this situation and feel led to take a leap of faith and adopt their first child Macyn. They adopt two more children, Truly and August. August also has Down's Syndrome.

Avis tells her story beautifully. She faces infertility at the same time one of her students has an unplanned and most likely unwanted pregnancy. She chronicles the journey of parenting Macyn, who needed an open heart surgery and an oxygen tank. She also shares the miracle of Macyn's healing that allows her to be taken off oxygen and breathe on her own.

Avis's daughter Truly is fiercely independent and that brings a new set of challenges to Heather physically as well as emotionally as she learns how to parent a child that doesn't need her constant attention to be able to survive.

The adoption of August is what touched me the most as Avis was able to meet his mother before she gave birth to August. The moments surrounding his birth and transition from having one mother to two is heart wrenching.

This book gives great insight to the adoption experience as well as life as the parent of a child with Down's Syndrome.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

France-Try the World #8

Ooo la la!

This month's box featured products from France.

I think the coolest thing in the box was a package of crepes. They must been relatively fresh because they came with a little sticker that advised to eat them first.I ate banana nutella crepes and fruit and whipped cream crepes with chocolate sauce.

In the France box, I also received chestnut cream (recipe ideas anyone?), tea, cookies, herb crackers, fig jam, whole grain , salt, whole grain mustard and a spice mix.

I've tried the crackers with goat cheese and they are delicious. The salt was sprinkled over the caramel sauce filling off the macarons we made last weekend.

The crackers look marvelously dainty-almost like super thin Milanos before they are sandwiched.

Book Review: All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Riker Island by Liza Jessie Peterson

Liza Jessie Peterson quit her modeling career to search for her identity-her passion. After taking a theater class she began her transition into a performance poet and playwright. While struggling to make a living as an artist (don't we all) Peterson started teaching creative writing and journaling workshops to incarcerated youth. This led to her becoming a GED teacher for boys incarcerated at Riker's Island.

Peterson's recounting of that year is skillfully written, she obviously understands and has a way with words. All Day is written as if you are hanging out inside Peterson's head. A little deeper than just reading someon'es journal. You feel her energy, her nervousness and passion for the children.She presents a very real picture of the lives lived by incarcerated youth, before, during and after the system, as well as the life of a teacher of imprisoned teens. She doesn't hide any part of the system or of the realities behind bars, sharing with her readers the vocabulary and mindsets of her students. The book is peppered with comedic relief-Peterson shares non-serious classroom antics as well as a letting you know she needs to fart.

Overall the book is quite eye opening and inspirational. It sheds light on the way our children are being imprisoned and trained for a life of crime or a life inside the system instead of being rehabilitated and taught independence and vocational skills.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Book Review: Pinot, Pasta and Parties

Pinot, Pasta and Parties is an Italian cookbook by Dee Dee and Paul Sorvino The book is divided into ten sections, each featuring a themed menu (We Love NY, Music , etc.)

The menu can be served in it's entirety for a multi-course Italian feast or you can pick and choose a few recipes from the menu for a well--rounded everyday Italian dinner. I love that the book is so flexible.

The first section is a little different from the rest as it has only a few "meal" recipes but has a lot of recipes for traditional Italian sauces that are great building blocks for the rest of the book.

I love that each menu section is divided by conversations between DeeDee and Paul. It's a great way to let more of their unique personalities come through the book.

This cookbook really helps to make good Italian cooking accessible to the masses. I've marked some recipes I'm waiting to try including: Bite-Size Antipasto, Braciole, Eggplant and Zucchini Fries, Chocolate Chip Torta, Porchetta, Zabaglione, Biscotti and Chicken Scarpariello,

This book has excited me about hosting my first Italian themed dinner party! The recipes are simple and inspiring.

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Stashbusting Monday #17: To the Concession Stand

I advise the high school's Relay for Life team. This week they took over concessions at the Senior Night soccer games. For me, this mean lots of baking. I baked a recipe I'd originally discovered at Cookbook Club-Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake Muffins by Gale Gand.

I also made s'more cookies which were a big hit! To make the s'more cookies, I used Donna Hay's recipe as inspiration.  Instead of using the cookie mix, I made these chocolate chip cookies from NY Times which I think is my favorite chocolate chip recipe ever.

Also popular were brownie balls. I baked my basic brownie recipe and let cool. Then, crumble the brownies and mix with a scoop of cream cheese frosting. Stir together until well combined. Roll the brownie mixture into balls. Roll the balls in chocolate frosting. Roll the chocolate coated balls in crushed Oreos (do NOT use Double Stuffed-they don't crust right). Viola!

My plan for next year is to do more games and offer more hot food options like burritos.

Also new this week, I made yellow pickled eggs and turned them into curry deviled eggs. I left them in the pickling solution too long as they are quite tart. I can only handle one at a time.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Stashbusting Monday #16: Three New Recipes

So, the past few weeks I've tried a handull of new recipes. I tried:

 Salmon Cakes from Victuals. Victuals is one of my favorite cookbooks I loved the crunch of these but they had too much of a "fishy" taste for me.

 Slow Cooked Roasted Pork Shoulder from Victuals was absolutely amazing. It was delicious and tender. The leftovers made a mean sandwich too.

Last, I made a mouthwatering Cauliflower Soup with Curried Shrimp. I could not get enough of this soup. It was on the lighter side as the base is made from water and broth instead of dairy so I'd suggest a salad or baked potato on the side. I did baked potatoes and thought it was great. This recipe came from Food Networks Kitchen's Cookbook which I picked up at my library book sale. It's a little intimidating but I found success with my first recipe!

What new recipes did you try in March?