Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dare to Bake! - Cookbook Review

If you're a fan of Food Network's Cupcake Wars, then you might be familiar with Ady Abreu, who won Cupcake Wars in 2012. Her cookbook Dare to Bake! is a collection of cupcake recipes from Ady's cupcake shop, Ady Cakes, and recipes that won her the top title on Cupcake Wars.

You don't have to be a baking whiz to get started with this cookbook. As the title suggests, you just have to be daring! Ady gives you her 10 Baking Commandments, rules to live by when baking your cupcakes, and then lists of basic techniques, essentials, and tools to get you started.

The recipes are divided into four sections: Daring Creations (Pistachio and Cardamom Cupcakes, Pear and Cranberry Cupcakes), Crowd Favorites (Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes, Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes), Vegetable/Savory (Corn and Jalapeno Cupcakes, Ham and Pineapple Cupcakes), and Cocktail Inspired (Peach Bellini Cupcakes, Mojito Cupcakes).

While this cookbook is not a gluten-free cookbook, if you have gluten-free all-purpose flour in your pantry, you can turn these recipes into gluten-free recipes. I made the French Toast Cupcakes recipe gluten-free by simply using gluten-free all-purpose flour. That was the only thing I had to substitute! And they still turned out delicious!

The cinnamon and nutmeg in the cupcakes made the kitchen smell divine while they were cooking. And then the homemade icing has maple syrup in it! I used the pure maple syrup we bought from Ben's Sugar Shack in New Hampshire.

If you're new to baking, you can definitely get started with this cookbook. And if you're just looking for some new ways to spice up your cupcake baking to impress friends and family, then this cookbook will also deliver for you!

Dare to Bake! is published by Schiffer Publishing and is available to purchase now. I received a free review copy for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Happy Christian - Book Review

If you think being a Christian means life is going to be all sunshine and rainbows, think again. Christians have bad days and bad times and get sad, too. But in David Murray's book The Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Believer in a Gloomy World, Christians can learn techniques to turn their negativity into positivity.

It's all in how you think about things.

Take this passage from page 5 of the book:

Most people are unhappy not because of their situation but because they let their feelings rule their thoughts, or they think about things in the wrong way.

And for Christians, along with negative thoughts, having a negative faith also leads to a negative life.

Though The Happy Christian quotes from the popular book The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, unlike Peale's book, this one doesn't ask you to focus on yourself. It asks you to focus on Jesus and God. It's not enough to just have self-confidence if you don't have God-confidence.

One of the things I really liked in this book was the six steps to changing your negative thoughts as you're experiencing them. You have to ask yourself what the facts are, what you're thinking and feeling about them, and whether or not you can change the facts or your thoughts. By the end of taking the time to answer these questions, you check back in with how you're feeling and you should be feeling a little better once you've come to the realization that you may not have control over the facts but you do have control over your thoughts.

You can't develop all the skills necessary to change your negative thoughts and your negative faith just from reading this book. It takes practice, which is why I think this book would be good for a Bible study or faith-based book club to read together so all the members could hold each other accountable and offer support as you read through the book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New Blinds in the Library

Over the weekend I decided to remove the ugly curtains that the previous owner's left behind from the windows in our front room/sitting room/library. (I call it our library because it's where our bookshelves are.)

I saw some cordless blinds in a Christmas Tree Shops circular and thought they would be a good and relatively inexpensive idea for these windows.

Actually, I thought of getting them for our windows in the dining room, but I wanted to test drive them in a less conspicuous area in case they were really bad or I royally screwed them up.

It's kind of hard to take pictures when the room is dark (no overhead lighting) and there is light coming through the windows. But hopefully you get the gist of things from this picture. I like that there's more light coming through these blinds - it brightens up the room - but it still offers privacy.

Hanging these blinds was pretty easy to do. I had a migraine while doing it, and the amount of force I had to exert on the screwdriver wasn't super helpful for my head (or my hands), but other than that, I think I would use them again for other windows!

Tell me, have you ever found anything good at Christmas Tree Shops? I tend to stay away from the store because 1. it has nothing to do with Christmas and 2. it's kind of a mess. But every so often I venture inside after seeing something enticing in the circular.

Here's another picture of the new blinds, taken from a little farther away so you can see more of the room:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - April 26

It's the last Monday of April! Can you believe it? After a very frosty Friday night spent at a Yankees game, Saturday and Sunday sort of made up for it with lots of sunlight and temperatures in the upper 50s and lower 60s. I took advantage of the weather and did some spring cleaning. I even got some flowers planted in some faux terracotta planters I found in our garage!

And then I did a VERY quick meal plan for the week. Here's what we got:

Sunday: chicken and rice fiesta bowls

Monday: turkey burgers and fries

Tuesday: on our own

Wednesday: on our own

Thursday: pasta

Friday: beef quesadillas

Saturday: on our own

Friday, April 24, 2015

Gluten-Free in New Hampshire's White Mountains

This is the last post from our gluten-free adventures in New Hampshire at the beginning of the month. One of the coolest things we did was drive through the White Mountains! Not only was the scenery really great, but the food was great, too.

Unfortunately, we were there during the off-season, so we couldn't go exploring through the mountains and do all the outdoorsy things one could do if the weather had been nice and the ground hadn't been snow-covered. Of course, we could have gone skiing, and we even saw the ski slopes populated with people that weekend, but we both agreed that we have NO interest in ever going skiing.

I'm more of a hot cocoa in the ski lodge than doing anything physical on a mountain kind of person.

So, back to what's really important about this post: the food!

First up, we had lunch at Rafferty's. This restaurant is just a simple pub and grill, but it also has one of the largest gluten-free restaurants in New England! And all of the staff have been trained for gluten awareness. When we were there, a little girl came in with her family and ordered the gluten-free mac and cheese!

Speaking of mac and cheese, I had the regular lobster mac and cheese, which was pretty good, although I was expected the lobster meat to be cut up and really mixed in with the pasta. Instead, it was in huge chunks! My husband had a gluten-free Philly Cheesesteak burger. (He loves cheesesteaks.)

Word of caution: COME HUNGRY! The portions were large, and we were both still pretty full from breakfast, so we couldn't even finish everything on our plates!

But that didn't stop us from checking out the White Mountain Cupcakery just around the corner from Rafferty's. This place won Cupcake Wars on the Food Network!

I got a cupcake with raspberry filling and coconut on top of vanilla frosting. (Can't remember what it was called right now...) It was very good, and I even waited a few hours until dinnertime to eat it and it still tasted fresh!

Unfortunately, we were there on a Friday, and they only make gluten-free cupcakes on a Saturday. You can also special order them, but I doubt we could have special ordered one cupcake for my husband. So just keep the timing in mind if you're going to visit them for a gluten-free cupcake.

That was our adventure in New Hampshire! Know of any other good gluten-free places we should check out? I'm sure we'll be back there at some point!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Top 10 Book Club Books

I've been part of a book club for a few years now, and I've read some books with this group that I would definitely recommend to other book clubs, but I've also read a lot of books on my own that I would recommend. But everybody's book club is different. Some people are all about the book, and if you don't read the whole book before the meeting, then you might as well not show up. Others, like mine, spend a few minutes talking about the book, but if you didn't read it or didn't finish, no worries!

So to please both types of book clubs, I've picked a few different types of books that I think would work.

If your book clubs likes to actually discuss the books for the full meeting (or you want to pretend like you will discuss the book), then you need some books that will yield a good discussion! How about these five:

1. The Submission by Amy Waldman (my rating: 5 stars) - In this book, set two years after 9/11, a jury selects an anonymous submission for a 9/11 memorial. The only problem? The winner is an American Muslim. The story is told through the eyes of six people who each had a different experience on 9/11 that colors how they react to the memorial.

2. Shine by Lauren Myracle (my rating: 5 stars) - This is a young adult novel, but it's one that everyone should read. It has a wonderful message that will have readers thinking about how they treat others and what it means to do what's right.

3. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (my rating: 4 stars) - My book club read this and had a really good discussion about the ending and all the logistics of the story. This one, about a woman who keeps reliving her life, will definitely get you thinking, whether or not you like the ending.

4. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (my rating: 5 stars) - Imagine if your book club had to meet in secret. That's what happens in this book, a true story about a female teacher and several female students meeting in secret to read and discuss life in Iran.

5. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (my rating: 4 stars) - This book is a long one but well worth the investment. And my book club had a really interesting discussion about it! The novel is about a minister who moves his family to the Congo to convert the natives to Christianity.

And if your book club just likes to read good books that will entertain everyone through good stories, then try these next five picks:

6. Bossypants by Tina Fey (my rating: 5 stars) - This book made me laugh out loud. If you've got an all-female book club, definitely read this one. You get to read about Tina Fey and other things that all women go through. I need to add this one to my home library.

7. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (my rating: 5 stars) - I adored this book! I read it before my book club picked it, and I wasn't able to attend the meeting where my book club discussed it, but I think they all liked it. There are so many surprises in this well-written book and parts of it made me cry!

8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (my rating: 5 stars) - This one might seem like an obvious choice, but if you haven't read it yet, you really should. And then your book club can have a movie night and watch the movie version!

9. The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty (my rating: 4 stars) - This book is historical fiction about a trip to New York City that soon-to-be-famous film star Louise Brooks takes with her chaperone, a mother and wife with her own secret aspirations for being in New York.

10. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman (my rating: 5 stars) - This cute, funny, and heartwarming story needs to be made into a movie. CeeCee has to spend the summer in Georgia with her aunt Tootie, and through some very colorful neighbors, CeeCee learns to move past tragedy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Small Town

Here is the second two-pager I made using pictures from our day trip to Hannibal, Missouri last December. I liked the weathered look of the background paper and the wood-printed paper together. The other patterned paper was just something in my stash that matched the colors.

If you've never been to Hannibal, it's worth a day trip, especially if you can find a GroupOn or LivingSocial deal (like we did) for admission to the Mark Twain house and museum. We were there during the off-season it seemed, so a lot of the shops were closed because of the holidays. I can imagine that this would be a quaint little town to do some shopping in when you're done checking out the museum.

And if you can walk up 244 steps, you'll get to the top of a hill where the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse stands. (You can also drive up there, but we didn't know that at the time.) You'll see the stairs leading up to it right near the Huckleberry Finn & Tom Sawyer statue. The lighthouse overlooks the Mississippi River and gives a panoramic view of Hannibal.

There was a gluten-free restaurant in town, but unfortunately it closed. So, eat at your own risk or bring your own food.

I kept things pretty simple on this layout. I managed to find a few embellishments in the right color scheme, like those blue brads from American Crafts, and just sprinkled a few throughout the layout. It literally took me about five minutes to lay this out in my mind, and then I just filled in where I could with whatever embellishments I could find.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Matheny Manifesto - Book Review

Based on a letter he wrote to the parents of a youth baseball league he coached, The Matheny Manifesto by Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and author Jerry B. Jenkins is part memoir and part treatise on how to fix what is wrong with youth sports, namely taking the focus off the fun aspect and the kids themselves and making it all about the parents, the coaches, and winning at all costs.

For Matheny, coaching kids and the big leaguers is all about playing the game of baseball the right way and with class. He tries to instill not just technical baseball skills but also life skills that his players can take off the field and use in their everyday lives: leadership, confidence, teamwork, faith, class, character, toughness, and humility.

If you're a coach or a parent of a kid who plays youth sports, this book is for you. You don't even have to coach baseball or have a kid who plays baseball. This philosophy could extend into any sport. You might not agree with everything at first, but there's no denying the positive impact Matheny's approach has had on all players and staff he's worked with.

And I'm not just saying that because I'm from St. Louis, and the Cardinals are my favorite team, and Matheny frequently mentions his baseball buddy and my childhood crush John Mabry.

No, really, my enjoyment of this book has nothing to do with any of that!! It really is a unique and commendable approach to sports that any sports fan, player, coach, umpire, parent, and grandparent can appreciate.

I received a free review copy of this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - April 20

Who else on the East Coast is enjoying the warmer weather we've been having? It finally feels like spring! I even went out and speed-walked a half marathon yesterday!

I crossed the finish line at 3:30:37, but my actual time (as scanned by my B-tag at the start and finish lines) was 3:23:10. I wasn't first, but I wasn't last, and I made it through before the four-hour time limit was up! And I got a medal!

But now I'm hungry, so here is what we're eating this week:

Sunday: chicken strips and fries

Monday: ham and potatoes

Tuesday: tomato soup and grilled cheese

Wednesday: breakfast ham hash

Thursday: pasta and salad

Friday: out

Saturday: on our own

Friday, April 17, 2015

Gluten-Free New Hampshire: Purple Finch Cafe

During the course of us driving all over New Hampshire (well, almost all over New Hampshire) the other weekend, we stopped at a breakfast place in Bedford, New Hampshire called Purple Finch Cafe.

If you like breakfast food, then you'll really like the extensive breakfast menu at this place! Plus, there are gluten-free options!

And not only do they have gluten-free menu options, but they took our gluten-free food request super seriously! When my husband asked for his breakfast gluten-free, the waitress asked him if it was a dietary choice or an allergy. When he told her it was because of an allergy, she said she'd let the kitchen know. "We'll take good care of you!" she said. (Wish I could remember her name.)

This was my, "Oh, we're already at the car and I forgot to take a picture of this place" photo.
I also wish I would have remembered to take a picture of my husband's gluten-free breakfast. Alas, I only took a picture of my gluten-filled breakfast. But if you think this looks delicious, it was, and there is plenty more on the menu where that came from!

The Finch-wich (bagel breakfast sandwich) with sweet potato dots and maple syrup
Editor's Note: When eating out at a restaurant that is not 100% gluten-free, there is always the possibility of cross-contamination in the shared kitchen. My husband didn't have any reaction after eating at this restaurant. But if you don't feel safe eating at a restaurant like this, then by all means don't!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

They Serve Bagels in Heaven - Review

Full disclosure: you really have to read this book with an open mind. If you don't believe in mediums, psychics, or reincarnation, and you know that nothing is going to change your opinion, then Irene Weinberg's book They Serve Bagels in Heaven is not going to be the book for you.

Yes, this true story is a love story about Irene and her husband Saul. The love of her life. Her soulmate. But Saul died in 1997, and so this book is based on conversations Irene had with Saul from the afterlife.

Through Irene's interactions with different mediums, she was able to communicate with Saul (kind of like in the movie Ghost) and Saul relayed to Irene that their two souls had actually been together in multiple lifetimes and would be together again when the time was right. (There is even a glimpse into their souls' future.) Writing this book was, for Irene, part of the soul purpose that Irene and Saul's souls were meant to carry out together.

There is a good message of loving others, including your spouse, while you have the chance here on Earth. And there are resources in the back of the book if you want to explore your own soul plan and soul purpose.  

Personally, I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I wish I had read it with someone else so that we could discuss it because there is a lot to discuss. But honestly, I feel like the title of this book gives the reader the wrong impression of what they're going to be reading. It's not exactly light and fluffy and comic, unless you think that reading about a past life being raped and bludgeoned to death or a past life as a victim of the Holocaust is light, fluffy, and comic. This book is not something that is easily accessible to everyone.

They Serve Bagels in Heaven is published by Irene Weinberg and is available to purchase now. I received a free review copy through the Intro NYC Blogger Network for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

You Need a Donut Pan

For my birthday, I received a donut pan. For baking my own donuts. For baking my own GLUTEN-FREE donuts.

Years ago, I tried to make my own apple cider donuts by frying them in oil. It was quite the waste of time and waste of baking ingredients because my donuts didn't keep their shape and who wants to stand over a spitting pot of oil?

Using this donut pan is a lot easier and yields much better results. You need one of these!

My donut pan came from King Arthur Flour, a company that also makes good gluten-free products. The first recipe I made with the donut pan, Baked Doughnuts Three Ways, also came from King Arthur Flour. With this recipe, you can make coconut donuts, cinnamon donuts, or chocolate chip donuts.

I chose to make chocolate chip donuts, but I had to change the recipe to make it gluten-free by using gluten-free all-purpose flour instead. Just make sure all the other ingredients you are using are also gluten-free.

These donuts turned out really well and were a bit softer than traditional cake donuts. I didn't have the ingredients to make a sugar coating for the donuts, but I think they would be even better with the sugar coating.

They tasted a lot better the day they were made. A few days later, they weren't as good, so make the whole dozen and invite people over to help you eat these.

Also, do you spell "donut" or "doughnut"?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hannibal, MO Scrapbook Pages

These are the first two pages of our day trip to Hannibal, Missouri, back in December. My husband and I had found a GroupOn or LivingSocial deal (can't remember which) for museum admission, and we thought, "That would be something interesting to do while visiting St. Louis over Christmas!"

I lived in Missouri for the first 22 years of my life, but not once had I ever visited Hannibal, home of famous writer Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens).

Because Mark Twain was a writer, I choose some embellishments that looked like they were book pages. No, the words are not from a Mark Twain book, but I still liked the way they looked.

Most of the colors on this two-pager are pretty neutral, so I added a few pops of color with the blue/green papers and letter stickers. There's some pink on here, too.

I was also excited to see that I had a piece of patterned paper in my stash that was "wooden". I knew I had to use it on this two-pager to accompany the pictures of my mom and me pretending to whitewash Tom Sawyer's fence!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - April 13

Have you filed your taxes yet? We did ours a few weeks ago and already got our refund! And then I spent part of it buying gluten-free food at the grocery store. Ha.

We also went to our first Yankees game of the baseball season. The Yankees lost to the Red Sox, but the Cardinals beat the Reds, and that's what's really important.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday: pork, millet, and bok choy hot pot

Monday: on our own

Tuesday: Mike's 32nd birthday

Wednesday: Italian sausage and polenta*

Thursday: chicken primavera bowls*

Friday: Jenny-O turkey burgers and Rachael Ray's warm potato salad

Saturday: on our own

*denotes new recipe

Friday, April 10, 2015

Gluten-Free Portsmouth, NH

Over the Easter weekend, my husband and I took a mini trip to New Hampshire and Maine. We bought pure maple syrup made in New Hampshire, saw Portland Pirates minor league hockey game in Portland, Maine, and drove through New Hampshire's White Mountains.

Oh, and we ate lots of delicious food!

There was no shortage of gluten-free restaurant options in this area of the country. It seemed like everywhere we went there was another restaurant or bakery with a gluten-free sign in the window. It was nice to see so many local places making an effort to cater to those with Celiac disease and gluten sensitivities.

We ate at two local places in Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Lexie's Joint and The Friendly Toast.

If you're looking for a great burger, then definitely check out Lexie's Joint. This place has specialty burgers, build-your-own burgers, milkshakes, shoestring fries, and more. Plus, they have gluten-free burger buns! I had a burger with bleu cheese, BBQ sauce, and bacon. My husband had a burger with all the typical fixings. The Portsmouth location is sort of a small place, so you have to time it right when you get there if you want a seat. They do offer take-out, though.

The Friendly Toast is open for breakfast and late-night drinks. We went there for breakfast, and I had a delicious eggs benedict (called The Friendly Benny) with home fries and my husband had gluten-free banana pancakes with home fries. According to the menu, the pancakes are the only thing that can be made gluten-free, but they do have omelets that we imagine could be gluten-free, but you'd have to ask.

Editor's Note: When eating out at a restaurant that is not 100% gluten-free, there is always the possibility of cross-contamination in the shared kitchen. My husband didn't have any reaction after eating at these restaurants. But if you don't feel safe eating at a restaurant like this, then by all means don't!

Thursday, April 9, 2015


If you saw yesterday's scrapbook page, you'll know that we humans put on the reindeer ears, but then we thought it would be funny to put them on the dogs.

This is another Christmasy layout that doesn't any Christmas-themed papers or embellishments. I really dug through my stash to make this one.

This was an American Crafts embellishment that my mom had given me awhile ago. I thought the colors went well with the green and white of the patterned papers.

These sticker letters were from the $1 bin at Target. It's always worth a look in that section because sometimes they have really cheap and really useful scrapbooking supplies.

Just some random embellishments from my stash all lumped together. I had some camera-patterned paper in the background, so I was trying to find stuff that evoked photos and pictures.

I used my white chalk pen to do the journaling. I found that pen at Marshall's. Another place that is fun to peruse if you're looking for deals on scrapbooking supplies.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Oh Deer

Continuing with more Christmas scrapbook layouts, here is a one-pager I completed using non-Christmas papers. I think the only thing that is actually Christmas-themed is the "Merry Christmas" ornament that I cut out of some patterned paper.

You might be wondering what the heck we are doing wearing reindeer ears in front of the Christmas tree. Well, if you must know, my mom made a scrapbook page with a reindeer theme at a scrapbook convention last year, but she didn't have the right pictures for it.

So Christmas Day night, we all put on these reindeer ears and took some pictures so my mom could finish her scrapbook layout. Have you guys ever staged pictures to go along with scrapbook layouts or scrapbook papers that you have and want to use?

The "Oh Deer" letter stickers were from the $1 bin at Target, and the smaller stickers are by Studio Calico.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sunflower Peeps Cake

Easter was this past weekend, and we had Easter dinner with my in-laws and grandmother-in-law. My contribution to the meal was a gluten-free chocolate cake that looked like a sunflower. Perfect for spring!

You may have seen some versions of this in my Easter Pinterest board, and while each version is very easy to make, if you want to know how to make it gluten-free, here is my version.

2 boxes of Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Devil's Food Cake mix
half a bag of Nestle Tollhouse Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips (package says "gluten-free")
about 10 yellow Peeps chicks (package says "always gluten-free")
one container of Betty Crocker chocolate frosting (the container says "gluten-free")

1. Prepare each box of cake mix according to the directions. You'll bake two cakes each in a 9-inch circular pan following the directions on the cake mix box. (The oven temperature will depend on if you're using a shiny pan or a dark pan.)

2. Once the cakes are done, take them out of the oven and let them cool.

3. Once cooled, remove one cake from its pan. You might need to cut off part of the top of the cake just to make sure that it has a flat surface for the other cake to sit on top. Frost the top of this cake.

4. Then remove the second cake from its pan and place it on top of the frosted cake. Cover the top of this cake with the frosting and cover the sides of both cake layers with frosting.

5. Place the Peeps on the top of the cake going around in a circle. (These are the sunflower's petals.)

6. Sprinkle the chocolate chips in the center of the Peeps circle. (These are the sunflower's seeds.)

7. Impress everyone you know and then eat the cake!!!

A tip:
If you don't cut off part of the top of the bottom cake layer, it's okay. I forgot to do that, but the top layer eventually started to fall in one spot because it wasn't sitting flat on top. If this happens to you, just sprinkle some more chocolate chips in the crack and no one will know!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - April 6

chocolate-covered bacon!!
Happy Easter Monday! Hopefully everyone had a safe and happy Easter weekend. My husband still has one last day of spring break. I'm so jealous!

Though, I can't complain. We had a lovely mini break to New Hampshire and Maine this weekend. I got to try chocolate-covered bacon for the first time! My verdict: not bad but not what I expected.

We also ate a lot of great food at local places that served gluten-free menus. (Stay tuned to the blog for more info!) While I would love to be eating more food at those places, I'll just have to relive the deliciousness through pictures and try to make stuff that is just as good here at home. Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday: Easter dinner

Monday: pasta with salad and bread

Tuesday: waffles, eggs, and bacon

Wednesday: grilled peanut butter and jelly with baby carrots and Tostitos

Thursday: on our own

Friday: possibly on our own/TBD

Saturday: Perdue Simply Smart Gluten-free Chicken Strips and Ore-Ida fries

What are you eating this week?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Life Recap

If you're not following me on Instagram, here's just a taste of what you're missing! Come on and follow me!!
Monday shoes
Second Breakfast
naptime at work with Pillow Pets Lambie

Thursday, April 2, 2015

One of Everything - Book Review

There's a passage somewhere in the Bible that says sometimes you go through bad stuff so that after you come out of it, you can help others when they go through the bad stuff, too.

Donna Carol Voss' memoir One of Everything is just one way that Donna is coming back around to help others.

You name it, Donna experienced it: troubled childhood, alcoholic mother, lesbianism, bisexuality, drug use, divorce, death threats. Each new thing is an attempt by Donna to discover who she really is. But she never really finds her true self or what makes her truly happy.

Luckily, each of her life experiences bring her one step closer to where she needs to be, even if it takes 30+ years to get there. The path forward isn't always easy, but God never promised that it would be.

Donna Carol Voss is really an exceptional writer. Her prose is so poetic, and girl knows her way around a metaphor.

But there was one part of the book I took issue with. Donna is talking to her husband about having kids, and when he scoffs at her suggestion of having six kids and tells her he was thinking of having just one kid, Donna says, "One isn't a family . . . it's an only child" (p.216).

Well, Donna, you're right. One child is an only child, and I would know because I am an only child. But I was also part of a family. I'm sorry, but it makes me mad when people act like you don't have a family if you don't have any kids or if you don't have a certain number of kids. You don't know other people's circumstances. Maybe they could only have one kid. Maybe they can't have any. But family has a wide definition.

Before I get off my soapbox, I implore you all to read this article from Christian magazine Relevant: Does God Require Me to Be a Parent? I've highlighted a particularly poignant passage below:

However, my real issue with “we’re starting a family” isn’t the idea that you’re basically telling us that you’ve decided to have worry-free unprotected sex, but that somehow you aren’t a family without children. This is just not true. 
You were a family the moment you stood on the alter and made a covenant bond from “this day forward.” You weren’t incomplete, waiting for someone else to finish the puzzle, you were a wonderful, married, creation. The problem is, something has morphed in the sphere of Christendom. As a body of believers, we’ve taken what the Bible says about reproduction and used it to make you (and countless others) believe that starting a family is the be-all, end-all. I think we’ve gotten this one wrong.
Okay. We now return to our regularly scheduled book review. I really do think you should read this book! If you're going through tough times, this book would be inspiring. If you think you're going through tough times, reading this book might make you realize that you've got nothin' on Donna!!

Donna is also available for speaking engagements, and I think she'd be a really interesting person to hear speak. Look her up if she's coming to your area!

One of Everything is published by Vantages Books and comes out May 1, 2015. I received a free review copy for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Homemade Cadbury Creme Eggs

No foolin'! I actually made my own Cadbury Creme Eggs.

I used this tutorial from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen as my guide. (Instead of chocolate candy melts or almond bark, I just used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips because that's what was in my pantry. The recipe doesn't get very specific on how much chocolate you need, but I'd say to melt up at least half a bag of chocolate chips.)

What's the verdict?

Well, I spent $2.79 on a box of four Cadbury Creme Eggs. I spent $0 on making about 12 of my own eggs because I already had all the necessary ingredients. So, from a financial standpoint, the homemade ones win!

From a taste standpoint... well...

First, I took a bite out of a regular Cadbury Creme Egg. If you've ever eaten one of these, you will hopefully understand their delicious appeal. Just look at this ooey gooey yolk center encased in hard chocolate:

Next, I took a bite out of one of my homemade eggs. It had a similar taste to the real Cadbury Creme Egg, but it wasn't exact. The yolk wasn't as runny, the hard chocolate shell wasn't as thick, and my hand-rolled eggs were not as pretty to look at.

BUT, the more I ate my homemade eggs (and yes, I ate almost all of them myself despite the fact that they were gluten-free and my husband could have helped me eat them), the more I came to like my homemade eggs! They aren't an exact copy of the real thing, but they are still yummy.

Would I make them again? I don't know. It took a long time to make them, so even though it's more cost-effective to make them yourself, it's just easier to buy the real ones at the store. But it was a fun experiment!

Have you ever made your own Cadbury Creme Eggs? Would you ever?