Thursday, March 26, 2015

How to Make Ice Cream: 50 Recipes for Classic and Contemporary Flavors by Nicole Weston

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

Making ice cream at home is fun and easy! Nicole Weston shows you exactly how to achieve delectable results with these 50 exciting recipes ranging from classic vanilla, chocolate, coffee, and strawberry to innovative creations like blackberry cobbler, toasted coconut, lemon curd, brown sugar and cinnamon, fresh ginger, salted caramel, maple bacon, matcha, chocolate hazelnut, and goat cheese and honey. She even includes flavors especially for the holidays -- gingerbread cookie, pumpkin pie, eggnog, peppermint mocha, and more.

My thoughts-

A few years ago on a whim, my husband decided to buy me a birthday gift from Crate & Barrel- an ice cream maker. It remains one of my most beloved kitchen appliances! I had never seen an ice cream maker that you didn't have to hand churn, I was beyond excited to own an ice cream maker that would create delicious ice cream without the hard hand churning. The ice cream maker came with a little booklet of recipes, but it is mostly the basic flavors- vanilla, chocolate chip,  butter pecan, ect. so when I saw that there was a book with FIFTY ONE ice cream flavors, I was intrigued. I love traditional chocolate and vanilla, but I am a big fan of inventive gourmet flavors. How to Make Ice Cream has great traditional flavors, but also had some great combinations that i have never seen elsewhere and would have never thought of on my own. I am excited to go through pretty much every flavor in the book that I can this summer. In addition to the ice cream recipes, there is also an extensive section at the beginning on how to make ice cream (whether it be in an ice cream maker or without) and what ingredients are needed.  It also discusses American vs. French ice cream. There is great information in the first few chapters for the ice cream making novice. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys ice cream and making homemade treats.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Skinny Habits: The Six Secrets of Thin People by Bob Harper with Greg Kritser (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

Bob Harper lets us in on the secret behaviors of people who not only lose weight but keep the pounds off for good—and make it look easy.
 
In Bob Harper's #1 New York Times bestselling book The Skinny Rules, the trusted trainer and coach of NBC's The Biggest Loser laid out the twenty nonnegotiable eating rules for getting thin.
 
In the process of helping countless men and women reach their weight loss goals, Harper has noticed six fundamental patterns in the lifestyle choices of those who succeed long-term—from the unique way they plan ahead to how they organize their environment and social calendars to even the way they dress. With his signature authority, colorful stories, and real-world solutions, Harper draws on the most up-to-date research related to habit formation, neuroplasticity, and cognitive behavioral psychology to show how feeding your brain—“the muscle between your ears”—can wield as much control over your weight as what you put in your mouth.
 
With anecdotes about his clients, guided steps for adopting your new practices, and tips for integrating them into your own daily routine, Skinny Habits has everything you need to shape your body and your life!


My thoughts-

I know that weight loss and healthy habits can be difficult for many people to maintain (myself included). There are all kinds of books and theories and new diets and fads out there, so it can get confusing to know exactly what it is going to work. I think that it is becoming more common knowledge that fads don't work and that the way to be healthy is not a diet at all, but a healthy lifestyle. Bob Harper expounds upon that in Skinny Habits. He starts with the typical foundation of eating clean and making sure you are active, but his 6 habits will help you really be prepared to live a healthy, positive lifestyle and maintain the body you want, not just because you want to look fabulous (but let's be real, that is a part of it) but because you want to FEEL fabulous and energetic! There are some great tips here, some are things you have probably heard before (plenty of water and sleep) and other habits might be new to you, but I think you will be like me while you are reading nodding your head yes enthusiastically as you read along. I loved the homework at the end of each habit, allowing you to see exactly what it is standing in your way to being your best self. This is definitely a must read for people who are looking to improve themselves, I highly recommend it!

Skinny Habits will be available April 28th. You can pre-order it on Amazon.com.

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The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection-  I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

This classic gardening bestseller (over 500,000 copies sold) uses ecologically friendly, intensive biodynamic methods to produce large amounts of vegetables in very tiny spaces. Revised for an all new generation of gardeners, the 40th anniversary edition includes brand new information on the variety of heirloom vegetables available today and how to grow them the postage stamp way. 

     To accommodate today's lifestyles, a garden needs to fit easily into a very small plot, take as little time as possible to maintain, require a minimum amount of water, and still produce prolifically. That's exactly what a postage stamp garden does. Postage stamp gardens are as little as 4 by 4 feet, and, after the initial soil preparation, they require very little extra work to produce a tremendous amount of vegetables--for instance, a 5-by-5-foot bed will produce a minimum of 200 pounds of vegetables.

When first published 40 years ago, the postage stamp techniques, including closely planted beds rather than rows, vines and trailing plants grown vertically to free up space, and intercropping, were groundbreaking. Now, in an ever busier world, the postage stamp intensive gardening method continues to be invaluable for gardeners who wish to weed, water, and work a whole lot less yet produce so much more.


My thoughts-

I started planting my own little garden 3 years ago when we moved into our new house. I didn't have much to go on and I don't have a naturally green thumb so I try to pick up books on gardening when I can. I do not have a huge space for a garden in my backyard so I have only been growing a few different types of crops each year. I was so excited to hear about the postage stamp method in The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden. The idea is to grow as many types of vegetables and herbs you can in a very small space. The book is full of great information. There are some wonderful layout ideas at the beginning of the book if you don't have any idea of what you want to do already. There are also some great tips for getting the soil ready and composting. The best part though is the list of all the crops you can grow, which will do well in a postage stamp garden (and which ones will grow well together or hinder each other), how long each will take to grow and other important information for growing these plants. There is also a handy guide towards  back that lists which bugs can be a problem for each different type of vegetable and what you can do to take care of it. I love that this book is on organic gardening and also lists some heirloom and non-gmo sources to get your seeds from. In fact, there is a pretty comprehensive list of seed sellers at the end of the book and it lists the specifics of each company (organic, non-gmo, heirloom,ect.). This book will be very useful for an newbie backyard gardener like me (yes, I still consider myself new to this 3 years in. For me, it is a continual learning process). I look forward to hopefully having more things growing and higher yields this year! And there truly is nothing like eating something fresh out of your garden!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Blessings for the Morning by Susie Larson (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.


About the book-

A Blessing a Day from Popular Author and Radio Host 
This beautiful devotional gift book is for readers who want to start their day with a reminder of God's love and purpose for them. So often we wake up worried about our to-do lists and responsibilities and need a reminder of how God feels about us and who we are in him. Several years ago Susie began posting daily blessings on Facebook, and since then thousands have responded and forwarded the blessings along to others. 
The blessings take only moments to read, but are packed with biblical promise and perspective. Along with a blessing, each day's spread also includes a related Scripture to point readers back to God's timeless truth.

My thoughts-

Blessings for the Morning is such a beautiful book. Not only are there great Bible verses with accompanying passages of encouragement, there are also beautiful pictures to go with them. Here is one example-



There is a great variety of beautiful pictures! That alone would help kick start my morning in a positive way, but the pictures with verses and the text together can be very positive. You can read the passages in order or if you need encouragement in a particular area, there is a great table of contents in the front that will point you in the right direction. Blessings for the Morning is the perfect book to leave on your nightstand and reach for first thing in the morning!


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Monday, March 16, 2015

The Stranger by Harlan Coben (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

The #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense delivers a shocking thriller that proves that a well-placed lie can help build a comfortable life—and a secret has the same explosive power to destroy it. 

Harlan Coban’s seven consecutive #1 New York Times bestsellers feature unrivaled depths of emotion combined with cutting-edge suspense plots that keep millions of readers turning pages deep into the night. In The Stranger, married parents Adam and Corrine confront the shocking secret on which their marriage is built—leaving Adam wondering whether he ever truly knew Corrine at all.

My thoughts-

I have been a fan of Harlan Coben's for probably as long a he has been writing and I always feel compelled to get his new releases as soon as I can get my hands on them. Coben's writing style is the kind that keeps the book flowing and each chapter tells you just enough to keep you turning the pages. I couldn't put it down, but that didn't shock me. It is a problem I often have when I read his books. There were so many questions going through my mind as the plot thickened. I really wanted to know who "the stranger" was and what exactly was going on with Corrine. There were so many ways the story could have went and, as usual, I was surprised by how it all ended up coming together in the end. It is always difficult to review suspense novels because you never want to give away even the tiniest bit of plot, but I will say Coben is a master of the twists and turns and with The Stranger, he is at the top of his game. I would recommend The Stranger (and pretty much every single other book Harlan Coben has written) to fans of the suspense genre.

The Stranger will be available on March 24. You can pre-order it on Amazon.com.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

How to Catch a Prince Blog Tour & Book Review + Giveaway!

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Litfuse Group. I was not required to  write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

How to Catch a Prince (Zondervan, February 2015)

She caught her prince once. Can she catch him again?

American heiress Corina Del Rey's life was devastated by war. Every thing she loved was lost. But after five years of grief, she's shed her grave clothes and started over in the sunshine along the Florida coast.

But some things are not so easily forgotten. When a secret from her past confronts her face to face, she realizes she must follow her heart. Even if it cost her everything.

Prince Stephen of Brighton Kingdom is a former Royal Air Command lieutenant turned star rugby player, trying to make sense of his life after the devastation of war.
When his brother, King Nathaniel, discovers Stephen's pre-war secret, he must deal with an aspect of his life he longed to forget. But how can he do so without exposing the truth and breaching national security?

Yet, true love has a destiny all it's own. As the cathedral bells peal through Cathedral City, Corina and Stephen must chose to answer the call of love on their hearts.

My thoughts- 

When I decided to read this book, I had no idea that there were previous books to read and that it was the third book in a series. It didn't take me long to catch on to that fact, but it was also not a difficult book to read on it's own. I enjoyed it though and definitely want to go back and read the first two books in the royal wedding series, Once Upon a Prince and Princess Ever After to get the complete feel of the story As far as How to Catch a Prince, I thought it was a fun premise for a story. I feel so bad for Corina, she seems to have had a lot of misfortune befall her and Stephen not giving her the full story of why she hasn't heard from her and it drives me crazy! Sometimes when I read stories like this I think if these two people would just communicate, have one conversation where they lay it all out on the table, they would save themselves a lot of grief and trouble...but that would not make a good story. I liked seeing Corina and Stephen's story unfold, especially the parts that have Corina and Stephen back together where they have to be around each other. I also liked the added element of Corina's stay at the quaint little Inn. This was, at it's core, a love story, but love stories aren't always rainbows and butterflies. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever dreamed of marrying a prince (most of us dreamers, right?) or who enjoys a good romance or drama.

Read the first chapter of How to Catch a Prince and purchase your own copy at RachelHauck.com.


About the author-

Rachel Hauck
 is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as The Wedding DressLove Starts with Elle, and Once Upon A Prince. She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets.

Find Rachel online: 
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An American heiress and a crown prince seem destined to be together. Will the devastation of war keep them apart forever? Find out in Rachel Hauck's new book, How to Catch a Prince. True love has a destiny all its own. With a little heavenly help, Prince Stephen and Corina embark on a journey of truth. But when the secrets are revealed, can they overcome, move forward, and find love again?

*Enter to win a "royal" prize pack!*

catchaprince-400

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A royal-themed Brighton charm bracelet
  • 2 tickets to see the new Cinderella movie
  • The Royal Wedding series (Once Upon a Prince, Princess Ever After, and How to Catch a Prince)
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 23rd. Winner will be announced March 24th on Rachel's blog.

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{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Effortless Healing by Dr. Joseph Mercola (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own. 

About the book-

LET YOUR BODY DO THE WORK
 
Do you have to tell your leg to heal from a scrape? Your lungs to take in air? Your body that it’s hungry? No. Your body does these things automatically, effortlessly. Vibrant health is your birthright and within your grasp; you just have to step out of the way. In Effortless Healing, online health pioneer, natural medicine advocate, and bestselling author Dr. Joseph Mercola reveals the nine simple secrets to a healthier, thinner you. The results are amazing and the steps can be as easy to implement as:
 
·         Throwing ice cubes in your water to make it more “structured”
·         Skipping breakfast, as it could be making you fat
·         Eating up to 75 percent of your calories each day in fat for optimal health, reduction of heart disease, and cancer prevention
·         Avoiding certain meat and fish, but enjoying butter
·         Eating sauerkraut (and other fermented foods) to improve your immune system and your mood
·         Walking barefoot outside to decrease system-wide inflammation (and because it just feels great)
·         Enjoying a laugh: it’s as good for your blood vessels as fifteen minutes of exercise
 
Effortless Healing is the distillation of decades of Dr. Mercola’s experience and cutting-edge medical knowledge. With his wisdom and that of your body, you can optimize your health, your weight, and your life…effortlessly.


My thoughts-

I am always interested in what Dr. Mercola has to say. I first started looking into some of the things that I felt like didn't add up when my daughter was born and my husband was still in chiropractic school and that was around the time that I discovered Dr. Mercola. I love that he has a background in both medicine and alternative medicine. I think that people with an integrative view usually have a more well rounded view of things and are more likely to look at things objectively. Dr. Mercola is also one of the hugest supporters of gmo labeling which is a huge deal to me and further shows me that he is on the side of health. He also frequently posts health documentaries you can watch for free on is website, so to me it is very obvious that our health is a top priority for him. Effortless  Healing is full of so much useful information that so many people might not know. There are so many key principals mentioned that can help lead to a healthier life. Mercola goes in to depth on each of the 9 principals (listed above) he feels you need to follow to optimize your health. I found myself nodding more than once as I was reading this information and can not wait to implement the things  I didn't already know myself in my never ending quest to be more healthy. He even includes instructions for making kefir and fermented foods at your house. I am definitely going to give that a try soon. Some of the things Mercola mentions are different than what you may have previously heard from the medical community, so he includes very thorough explanations of why he has come to believe what he does and, to me, it all makes a great deal of sense. I recommend this book to anyone that has questions about what exactly we should be fueling our bodies with or who are looking to improve their overall health. 

Effortless Healing is available on Amazon.com

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