Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Painted Horses - Book Review

In the late 1950s, women's only ambition was to become wives and mothers. But archeology student Catherine has other passions, namely ancient relics. She gets bit by the bug one summer in London when she winds up working on a dig at Londinium. From there, she leaves behind her cushy New Jersey home and New York fiance to work alone on a survey of a Montana canyon. If Catherine finds anything worth preserving, it could put a proposed dam project in jeopardy. Catherine thinks she's been hired because of her experience in London, but the reasons for hiring her, a woman, have nothing to do with past experience.

Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks is as much about Catherine as it is about they mysterious John H who lives in the canyon protecting the wild horses. The locals don't know much about him, except that he paints his horses, but he's made less mysterious to the reader through a series of flashbacks that explain how John H came to be in the Montana canyon.

Catherine and John H become very important to each other over the course of Catherine's stay, and they both discover more about the canyon, themselves, and the way the world works than they expected to.

I wasn't always clear on what Catherine was discovering, nor had I ever heard of Basque people before. But I still really enjoyed the story and the author's writing.

Painted Horses is published by Grove Press and is available to purchase now. I picked up a free advance review copy from Book Expo America with no obligation to review it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin is a novel about a young artist with incredible talent but whose risk-taking and recklessness ultimately lead to her early death. Instead of writing a traditional review of the book, all the bloggers on this book tour have been asked to do something creative to promote the book's release. I'm no artist, so drawing or painting wasn't going to happen. Instead, I made a playlist of songs that I felt summarized Addison's story.

I also collaged a CD cover to go with the playlist:

If you like what you hear and want to check out the book, you can go here to enter for a chance to win a signed hardcover copy of The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone. The giveaway ends on August 23. Good luck!

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone is published by Soho Teen and is available to purchase now. I received a free advance review copy of the book as part of this blog tour.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Discount Ticket to NJ Gluten-free & Allergen-free Expo

For those interested in attending the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo in Secaucus, NJ, on September 7-8, 2014, you can save 20% on your ticket by clicking on this link and entering the code EXPONJ20 at check-out.

You can find more information on this expo by reading my pre-expo blog post here!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Gluten-Free NJ: Via Roma

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were going to a concert in Atlantic City, NJ, and we needed a gluten-free place to stop for dinner. After some research, we settled on Via Roma in Tom's River, NJ, and boy was that a good decision!

Not only does this place have an extensive gluten-free menu, but it's also completed the Gluten-Free Resource Education Awareness Training (GREAT) from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. So this place has truly taken steps to ensure that the gluten-free food they serve is in fact gluten-free!

My husband ordered the gluten-free chicken parm. He said it was very good. Via Roma also serves a variety of gluten-free desserts, but my husband did not sample any of them.

The Early Bird Dinner Specials at Via Roma are a great deal! You get an entree, bread, a soup or salad, a fountain beverage or coffee, and a dessert for $11.99. I got the (non-gluten-free) baked manicotti with a giant meatball and THE BEST CHOCOLATE CANNOLI EVER.

Via Roma is pretty casual and located in a strip mall with plenty of parking. You don't have to get dressed up to eat the food there, which was perfect for us. I think this will be a place we stop at often whenever we go down the shore.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How to Pack a Carry-On for Long Trips

I plan on packing all of this:

into this brand new carry-on:


It sounds crazy, I know. Usually, for trips longer than a week, I bring a regular suitcase. And you'd think that for international travel, a regular suitcase would be a no-brainer decision. But, we pack to the beat of our own drum and decided that checking luggage just doesn't work out for us this trip.

So, I'm taking my amazing packing skills and packing 9 days worth of clothing into a carry-on that says it can handle 3 to 5 days. Here are my tips:

Plan Your Outfits
This seems like a no-brainer, right? But I can't emphasize enough how important it is. I start thinking about what I'm wearing on vacation about a week in advance. (My husband makes fun of me for this.) I think about what we're doing on each day of our vacation and what clothing items would be appropriate for those activities. While I'll bring a different shirt for each day, I try to pick shirts that will go with as few pairs of pants or shorts (and shoes!) as possible.

For instance, on this vacation, I'm wearing a pair of bootcut jeans to the airport and packing a pair of skinny jeans, white skinny jeans, and gray shorts. Each bottom will be worn two to three days each on the trip. (The same goes for my bras, ladies.) If you're bringing a pair of pants that can only be worn once on your trip, I'd say rethink that outfit choice. That one pair of pants is going to take up space in your suitcase, and think of how many other things you could pack in its place!

Roll Your Clothes
all clothes rolled on 1 side of my carry-on;
the other side is still free for everything else!

I've been rolling my clothes in suitcases for forever! It really does give you extra space to work with. I don't know if rolling keeps your clothes from wrinkling or makes them wrinkly. I tend to not care too much about wrinkles. But if you do care and your clothes do end up wrinkly, just use the iron and ironing board in your hotel room! Or hang your clothes in the bathroom while you take a nice steamy shower. Problem solved.

Socks in Shoes
This one is so easy! In my case, I'm bringing two pairs of shoes on our trip. I'll be wearing one pair on the plane with the other pair in my carry-on. To save some space, I'm going to put my socks inside my packed pair of shoes. This not only saves space, but also helps keep your shoes from getting flattened in your suitcase. Oldest trick in the book!

Take Advantage of Your "Personal Item"
When traveling, you're allowed a carry-on and one "personal item". (The personal item is supposed to go under your seat, so please don't be THAT GUY who puts his carry-on and personal item in the overhead compartments. You, my friend, are annoying.) While most women probably just bring a purse as their personal item, I always bring a bookbag with my purse inside the bookbag. Why a bookbag? Because it has more room for packing more stuff!

My bookbag is where I pack things to read/do on the plane as well as stuff that I need to keep easy access to: medicine, purse/wallet, camera, quart bag of 3-ounce containers. I also like using my bookbag as the place to pack my toiletries because my toiletries bag is kind of bulky for the carry-on. In some cases, I also use my bookbag as the place for comb and hairbrushes and/or my flat-iron.

Think About What You Really Need
I never pack a hairdryer. Even the travel-sized ones are bulky, and they never work as well as regular hairdryers. So why take up space in my suitcase for something that hotels already provide? Same goes with shampoo and conditioner. I do make an exception for soap. I have sensitive skin and have been instructed by a dermatologist to only use Dove soap, so I always bring my own soap.

But What About Souvenirs?
Think really hard about souvenirs, especially ones you are buying for other people. While you might have room for a few T-shirts or small tchotchkes, let's steer clear of stuffed animals or anything that can't easily be rolled up, stuffed into an extra pocket, or stored in your bookbag. And when in doubt, ask yourself if this is something you'll really wear, use, display, etc. Sometimes pictures and memories are the best souvenirs.


Do you have any packing tips you'd like to share? Post them below in the comments!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books I'm Not Sure I Want to Read

So, I have TONS of books on my to-read list, however, some of them have been on my list for so long, I'm kind of wondering if they are still worth it. In honor of this week's Top Ten Tuesday, here are the top 10 books I'm not sure I still want to read:

1. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green -  I'm STILL on the waiting list for this book at my library. I've heard good things about the book from people, however, I've also heard bad things. While there's no doubt that I will still read this book, I guess I'm just not as excited about it as before.

2. No One Left to Lie to - Christopher Hitchens - The topic of this book sounds interesting. It's got a subtitle of "The Values of the Worst Family" and it's about The Clintons. However, I've tried reading other Christopher Hitchens books, and I couldn't even make it through! Granted, the last one I attempted was a memoir, so maybe Hitchens is only annoying when talking about his annoying self??

3. The Wolf of Wall Street - Jordan Belfort - I put this book on my to-read list back in 2010 before the movie was even made! But after seeing the movie, do I really want to read the book and go through all that again?

4. 30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know By the Time She's 30 - Pamela Redmond Satran - Welp, I'm already 30 and soon to be 31. I guess I missed the boat on this book.

5. The Real Romney - Michael Kranish and Scott Helman - I added this to my list back when Romney was running for president. I like to read about the presidential contenders, but that presidential election happened awhile ago, and now I just really don't care about Mitt Romney.

6. Wheat Belly - William Davis - I wanted to read this book because my husband is on a gluten-free diet, and I thought, "Oo, here's a book about cutting out wheat and gluten." But I'm not sure the information presented in this book is really that great, which is why the book Gluten Freedom was written.

7. Oil - Jeff Nesbit - Someone recommended this book to me, but I don't really think that person knew my taste in books. I'll probably just remove this from my to-read list.

8. Kokoro - Soseki Natsume - I don't even remember putting this on my to-read list. WHAT IS THIS BOOK????

9. Blade Runner - Oscar Pistorious - Oh man. I've read so much about this guy already since his murder trial. I just don't feel like reading any more.

10. Jennifer's Way - Jennifer Esposito - I had a not-so-great experience trying to buy something at Jennifer Esposito's gluten-free bakery, so reading her book is no longer tops on my list. It will take me some time to get over it.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

National S'mores Day!

It's another bonus Sunday blog post, and that's because today is National S'mores Day!

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you'll know how much I love s'mores. Last year I wrote a blog post about throwing a s'mores party, and this year I wanted to add some fun s'mores recipes to that just in case you were considering throwing your own s'mores party.

(Note: These are not gluten-free. You could make them gluten-free if you really wanted to by using gluten-free graham crackers in both recipes and a gluten-free pizza dough for the second recipe.)

First up, I made these fun s'mores pops.

These are SO easy to make and perfect for a s'mores party. You'll need skewers (or fondue sticks, which is what I used), chocolate chips that have been melted in the microwave, crushed graham crackers, and big ole marshmallows. Stick the marshmallows on each skewer, dip them in the melted chocolate, and roll them in the graham crackers. THEN EAT!

Next up is a recipe from Pillsbury. The S'mores Pizza Roll-Up is super easy to make. It called for oats, but I left that out. Because of that, I probably should have made up for it with more crushed graham crackers. My roll-up needed more crunch. So, if you're going to make this, double the amount of melted butter and crushed graham crackers.

The rest of it was really good. Nice and soft with ooey and gooey marshhmallow creme inside and melted chocolate chips. So good!

What is your favorite way to eat s'mores? Do you go the traditional route or do you like to shake things up a bit? Share in the comments! And make sure you're following me on Pinterest to find even more s'mores party recipes.