Book Review: The DIY Pantry by Kresha Faber


Book: The DIY Pantry: 30 Minutes to Healthy, Homemade Food

Author: Kresha Faber

Publisher/Date: Adams Media/December 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4405-7168-8

Pages/Price: 192/$17.99

Category: Cookbook

About The DIY Pantry by Kresha Faber

All-natural pantry staples for just pennies a serving!

With The DIY Pantry, you can break free from processed foods and learn to make healthy, delicious meals without spending hours in the kitchen or breaking the bank. From artisan breads and aromatic seasonings to irresistible treats like Black-and-White Sandwich Cookies and Peppermint Patties, this book shows you how to stock your pantry with all the ingredients you need to make your favorite meals for the entire week. Best of all, each flavorful recipe can be completed in fewer than 30 minutes, making them perfect for anyone looking to add more wholesome dishes to their repertoire.

Filled with more than 150 natural, budget-friendly recipes as well as tips for storing your food, The DIY Pantry shows you that creating nutritious, homemade meals doesn’t have to be costly or hard work.

My Thoughts on

The DIY Pantry by Kresha Faber

I’ve been a follower of Kresha’s for a few years now, and I’m now a fan of her new book.

Although my family doesn’t have a particular eating philosophy (paleo, low-fat, etc.), we do try to eat at home and eat healthy at home. For us, eating healthy means eating whole foods and foods made from scratch.

That doesn’t always happen and I haven’t had success with every recipe I’ve tried.

What it does mean is that our meals are simple, wholesome, and chemical and preservative-free, for the most part. And I feel good about feeding my family this way.

This is a cookbook full of pantry staples like yogurt, ketchup, and chicken stock – things most people are used to buying off the grocery store shelves. However, what you quickly realize is that by spending just a few more minutes in the kitchen with preparation, your end result could be more tasty, more natural, and less expensive!

That, for me, is where the value lies – in recreating store-bought food easily, relatively quickly, and specifically inexpensively. And while I love bringing my cell phone or laptop or tablet into the kitchen with me to cook, having a physical reference is sometimes just as easy (if not easier) to use.

The other benefit is that you don’t need expensive or fancy equipment – just regular kitchen tools and maybe a few things you hadn’t already had on hand – like a kitchen thermometer, in my case, since my previous one broke – in order to make the recipes. It does take time for you and your family to get used to “real” foods without all of the artificial ingredients, but once you do you’ll wonder what took you so long!

About the Author of

The DIY Pantry, Kresha Faber

Kresha Faber is the author and editor of Nourishing Joy, a website dedicated to real food, sustainable living, natural homemaking, and joyful parenting. She is passionate about sharing ways to make small, simple changes to live more healthily, frugally, and sustainably. Kresha is also a contributing writer to Keeper of the Home and GNOWFGLINS. You can visit her website at www.nourishingjoy.com.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in hopes that I would publish a review. The opinions expressed above are my own.

 

 

Book Review: Loving Laney by Harmony Evans

loving_laneyBook: Loving Laney (The Browards of Montana)

Author: Harmony Evans

Publisher/Date: Harlequin Kimani Romance/June 2014

ISBN: 9780373863570

Pages/Price: 244/$5.85

Category: Fiction/African-American

About Loving Laney by Harmony Evans

A Broward baby bump? 

A Broward—and a world-class athlete, no less—unmarried and expecting? Laney Broward is amazed she has kept her pregnancy a secret this long. Now headlines are blaring from the tabloids that she is in the family way. She can’t believe that one impulsive, out-of-character night could have such lastingrepercussions….

The news that he’s a soon-to-be father stops millionaire heartbreaker Austin Johns in his tracks. This internationally known horse breeder never planned to become a parent, but he is warming to the idea of his own family. Laney can talk all she wants about her independence; they now have a bond that cannot be broken. Austin will stop at nothing to ensure his place in his child’s life—and he will not rest until he finds his way back to Laney’s loving arms….

My Thoughts on Loving Laney by Harmony Evans

Delicious! The on-again, off-again romance between Laney and Austin sizzles right off the pages! For fiercely independent Laney to be “caught” single and pregnant is something she can’t even imagine and she’s the one who’s pregnant!

When she finally tells her family, they can’t believe it either – not that she got a chance to spill her own beans. Someone in town will stop at nothing to air her dirty little laundry, even if it means ruining her hard-won reputation in the process.

And you’ll never, ever guess the reason why, and what it means for Laney’s family!

This is a quick, enticing read with a little more romance than I was expecting, but not so much that it turned me off. This was my introduction to Harmony Evans but I look forward to her next book.

About the Author of Loving Laney, Harmony Evans

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed above are my own.

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Review: I Love You Just Enough by Nick and Robbyn Van Frankenhuyzen


Book: I Love You Just Enough (The Hazel Ridge Farm Stories)

Author: Robbyn Van Frankenhuyzen

Illustrator: Gijsbert (Nick) Van Frankenhuyzen

Publisher/Date: Sleeping Bear Press/March 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58536-839-6

Pages/Price: 40/$16.95

Category: Children’s

About I Love You Just Enough by Nick and Robbyn Van Frankenhuyzen

On the first day of summer vacation, while helping her father pull weeds and plant seeds on the prairie land near their farm, young Heather finds a wood duck chick. Separated from its family, the chick is vulnerable to the elements and other dangers.

When Heather asks if she can care for him, her Dad responds that “Loving him will be the easy part.” The hardest thing that she will have to do is not to love him too much. So beings Heather’s summertime adventure with Mr. Peet, the wood duck chick. But when the time comes for him to return to the wild, will Heather be ready to let him go? Does she love him just enough?

Our Thoughts about I Love You Just Enough by Nick and Robbyn Van Frankenhuyzen

Heather is supposed to be helping her father pull weeds, but she’s finding treasures to take back home instead. Except one of the treasures she finds is an abandoned duckling.

Heather wants to bring the duckling home, and her father agrees – but not after reminding her that this little duckling will eventually be reunited with members of his own family, and not become a member of theirs.

As we watch Heather’s adventure with the appropriately named Mr. Peet, we are also treated to factual information about wood duck chicks, which helps to make the story even more intriguing.

It turns out that Heather didn’t have to be the one to let Mr. Peet go after all. He made the decision all by himself.

But not until he was ready.

The illustrations are beautiful. Each one depicts the scenes being described and looks like a real watercolor painting created on a canvas. I was eagerly turning the pages to see how Mr. Van Frankenhuyzen interprets the next scene.

The lesson of loving something enough to be able to let it go when it’s time, is not only a story for children. Adults need to be reminded of this lesson as well.

About the Authors of I Love You Just Enough, Nick and Robbyn Van Frankenhuyzen

Gijsbert (Nick) and author Robbyn have lived at Hazel Ridge Farm since 1980. Together with their daughters Heather and Kelly, they have cared for many injured and orphaned animals. The stories in the Hazel Ridge Farm series are based on their true adventures and experiences on the farm in Bath, Michigan. Nick has illustrated numerous books, including the bestselling The Legend of Sleeping Bear.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in hopes that I would write a review. The opinions expressed above are our own.

 

Mom’s Toolbox: The Bible in 90 Days – Day 22 Check-in

moms_toolbox_the_bible_in_90_days

I’m still behind. My Bible in 90 Days plan looks like it might take closer to 100 days at this point. Catching up seems impossible from where I stand.

At the same time I do realize that it will take awhile for me to catch up. Today is Day 21, which means that by last night I should have read through 1 Samuel 28:19. Instead, I just completed Exodus 34.

I’m 14 1/2 days behind. That seems insurmountable. By my calculations if I complete 1.5 readings each day, I will be 7.5 days behind this time next week. And 45 minutes of reading is hard, especially when I have errands and kids and laundry and meals.

I’m sticking with it. I’m not going to stop reading.

I’m not.

28 Blog Post Ideas for February

Still reeling from the holidays? Spent the last few weeks playing catch up and you’ve got nothing ready for February – which starts tomorrow (in case you weren’t paying attention to the calendar!)?

write+photoWell, I’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of 30 blog post ideas for February:

  1. February is American Heart Month. Write a post about one new thing you’ll commit to doing which will improve your health. Think: baby steps.
  2. Groundhog Day is February 2nd. Post a quick history about your local groundhog and your winter weather prediction.
  3. Today is Super Bowl Sunday! Make a prediction about the winner, talk about your favorite commercials from past Super Bowls, or write up a quick recipe post.
  4. The Winter Olympics are this month! Write a post about your favorite Olympic sports or winter sports you participated in as a child.
  5. If you’re like most of the country, your kids have experienced a few snow days already last week. Provide your readers with a few snow day activities for kids, to keep them entertained, and to keep the parents from losing their sanity. Or you could offer ideas on how to arrange for alternative care when the schools are closed.
  6. Share a throwback picture. Share an embarrassing one and your thoughts on it all these years later.
  7. Write about what you’d do if you came into an extra $1000. Would you spend it on business (blog) essentials or would you spend it on personal stuff?
  8. Offer a guest post. If you’re looking for a writer, I’m interested in writing one or two posts each week, and several other bloggers are interested in writing them as well. All you have to do is ask. Contact me if you’re interested.
  9. Share your most popular posts from last year.
  10. Ask a question you see being asked all over the internet.
  11. With the holiday upon us, offer up a Valentine’s day sale on one or more of your products. If you don’t have any products to sell, join a fellow blogger’s affiliate program and offer your readers a bonus for purchasing through your link.
  12. Share a quote. It could be funny or insightful or a favorite for some other reason. Use picmonkey.com to give it a good background, then share it on Pinterest as well, for additional traffic.
  13. Share your blog stats. Compare them to this time last year and remark on the differences in your blog during the same time frame.
  14. Review a book you’ve read recently, and tell what you liked about it. If you haven’t read anything lately, then write a list of books on your “to read” pile, and ask readers to do the same. Link to the book(s) on amazon.com for affiliate commission.
  15. Post about another blogger’s contest. Generally, you only promote your own contest. But, this time, take the time to find a really neat contest on someone else’s site and share it.
  16. For Valentine’s Day write a post about your family, your love for them,and how they changed your life. Make it sappy. Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day!
  17. Interview someone in your niche – a blogger who may be considered a competitor. Send an email asking for the interview, and when they say yes, send a list of 4-6 thoughtful questions for them to answer. Give them about a week to respond (include that date you’re expecting a response by) and publish the interview. Send them a link to the interview. They’ll likely share the interview and send more traffic your way.
  18. Share something funny or cute your child said or did. These always get a lot of comments and will probably make a reader’s day.
  19. Today is President’s Day. Write a post providing some fun facts about President’s Day and how long it’s been celebrated. Also suggest some ideas on how to celebrate President’s Day. If you’re handy, you can create a printable as well. You can link to other websites which can provide additional information about the holiday.
  20. Call out 5 or 7 blog reads that you really enjoyed reading over the last few days – and explain why they stuck with you.
  21. Ask your significant other (or one of your children) to write a guest post for you today. Give them free reign on the topic (within reason).
  22. Write a controversial post about another blog. Write what you don’t like about it or what makes it seem insincere. Be sincere (and fair) in your critique.
  23. Write about your 5 most favorite items.
  24. Share the type of music (or television) that you have on in the background while you’re working.
  25. Share a post with only photos where the only words are in the title.
  26. Endorse a product. Don’t write a sponsored post, but write about something you use constantly that no one already knows about.
  27. Write a post listing 5-7 reasons why you shouldn’t be a blogger.
  28. It’s Black History Month. Highlight a person of color whom you admire.

There you have it – 28 blog post ideas for the month of February. Even if you only use or two, or simply use them to spark your creativity, you should be able to find something to write about. Remember, your readers are expecting consistency in your posting schedule.

Mixing business posts with personal ones makes for more interesting reads, and keeps their attention as well.

Mom’s Toolbox: The Bible in 90 Days – Day 15 Check-in

moms_toolbox_the_bible_in_90_days

I’m behind. Utterly and seriously – but not hopelessly – behind. I still plan on completing The Bible in 90 Days reading plan by April 14th.

As in, today is Day 15, and I’m on Day 4.

As in, when I checked in last week on Day 8, I was halfway through Day 3.  So, I’ve completed less than 2 full days of reading over the last 7 days.

Oy.

So I have a plan. My plan is to read two days’ worth of reading each day until I’m caught up.

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it. The other part is that I plan to read in the mornings. That’s where I went wrong. Before I was reading in the mornings at the kitchen table, after the girls left for school. More recently I was doing other things in the morning and planned on reading the Bible at night before bed. except I’d fall asleep before that happened.

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Mom’s Toolbox: The Bible in 90 Days – Day 8 Check-in

the_bible_in_90_days_banner

So, the first week of The Bible in 90 Days as passed, and I’m ready to check in.

It didn’t go as smoothly as I would have like.

On the first day, I didn’t get started until after 11pm. Alijah had just climbed into my bed, my cell phone was open in my hand, and I was using Zondervan’s Bible Gateway app. I was frustrated because, although they have a Bible in 90 Days reading plan, it assumes that your 1st day was on January 1st, which meant that I would have to keep changing the calendar date inside the app, in order to stay on the right day for my reading plans.

That was the first problem.

The second was that I was dead tired.

Alijah must’ve heard me say that because she turned over and said “That’s okay, mama. God will forgive you. He understands that you’re tired.” Oh, those words filled my heart with joy! Hearing my baby (my oldest, but still my baby) saying that God understands my heart just made me feel some kinda way.

So, I put my phone down and went to sleep.

The next morning, I started reading from my phone again, but was immediately turned off again.

Lesson for me: I think that I’m not the person who likes reading scripture from her phone. I have found that I’d rather read scripture from my physical Bible, although I have no problem reading other books on my phone.

By the end of the second day, I was behind on my reading. Although I’m slowly catching up by trying to read 2 days’ worth of reading in each day, I’m still not caught up all the way. But I will be in just another day or so.

2nd Lesson for me: I can’t get behind on my reading plan because it’s super hard to catch up.

I’ve read through Genesis 33:20, and by tonight I should have read through Exodus 40:38. I’m about 4 1/2 days behind.

This is so exciting for me. I’m not sure about you, but when I first started reading the Bible I really learned that you can’t listen to what other people tell you about what it says. You can’t rely on their knowledge or their understanding. You have to read the words for yourself. This way you can get to know God, get your OWN understanding, and progress in the Word.

It’s not enough to read 5 or 10 verses with your Pastor on Sunday morning and Wednesday evenings. You have to immerse yourself in the Word by reading it, meditating and praying over it, and absorbing it. Only then will you learn and begin to know how God fits into your life.

Book Review: Forever Yours by Farrah Rochon

Book: Yours Forever (Bayou Dreams)

forever_yours_book_coverAuthor: Farrah Rochon

ISBN: 9780373863457

Publisher/Date: Harlequin Kimani Romance/March 1, 2014

Pages/Price: 224/$5.99

Category: African-American Romance

About Forever Yours by Farrah Rochon

Can the sins of the past… 

Louisiana powerhouse attorney Matthew Gauthier has spent a lifetime safeguarding his prominent family’s scandalous history. So when Tamryn West makes it her mission to dig up the past, Matthew must do everything in his power to stop her. But his plan to distract the alluring history professor begins to send his own passions raging out of control.

…become the hope of the future? 

Tamryn came to the town of Gauthier to find the diary that could be the missing link to her grandmother and her enduring legacy. In the process, she stumbles onto the secrets of another family—secrets Matt will protect at any cost. As his sensual touch awakens Tamryn’s deepest desires, will a revelation that could make her career cost Matt his political dreams—and their future together?

My Thoughts on Forever Yours by Farrah Rochon

In Forever Yours, Tamryn, a history professor with a PhD, arrives in Louisiana to find out if her grandmother was one of the founders of the first African-American school for both slaves and free black children in the country, as well as to further her career with publishing credits. The problem is that one of the towns residents has the ability to help her with her research, but chooses not to. She’s come to put the pressure on him in person.

Matthew, a lawyer about to begin a campaign to run for state senator, has no interest in helping Tamyn – because the information she is seeking, while being beneficial to her cause, would meaning spilling his family’s secrets, harming their reputation, and derailing his political ambitions.

Neither of them expects for their relationship to take them places they never even considered.

This is a fun read. While I’m not sure of the historical accuracy of the story behind the story, it certainly make for an interesting and suspenseful backdrop to the romance taking place. Also, the author adds to the charm of the story by skillfully depicting the southern belle and southern gentlemanly nature of the other residents of the small town.

About the Author of Forever Yours, Farrah Rochon

Farrah Rochon, award-winning author of the popular Holmes Brothers series, hails from a small town just west of New Orleans. She has garnered much acclaim for her New York Sabers football series for Harlequin’s Kimani Romance imprint. Farrah was named Shades of Romance Magazine’s Best New Author of 2007, and her debut novel, Deliver Me, claimed the prize for Best Multicultural Romance Debut. She has been nominated for the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America and an RT BOOKReviews Reviewer’s Choice Award. She spends way too much money on chocolate and Broadway shows.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this eBook through NetGalley. The opinions expressed above are my own.

Do you have what it takes to start a home business? 5 Tips to help you decide

work_from_homeDo you often hear of home business success stories? But you know of several people who’ve made a go of it, but it didn’t really pan out? It’s hard to figure out if it’s the right thing for you when you’re receiving mixed signals.

Having a home-business can be the best thing that’s happened to you and your family. But it’s not always a bed of roses. There are unique challenges which face work-from-home moms, that moms who work outside of the home don’t have to deal with.

Tip #1 What are the Four M’s of a Home Based Business?

You won’t have to spring for office space and your expenses should certainly be less, but you’ll still have start up costs with opening a business out of your house.

Money. Although it’s possible, it’s not likely that you’ll start a business without any upfront costs. But depending upon the business you start, your early expenses can be as little as $10-$14 for a domain name and $8-10 for your first month’s web hosting, although with coupon codes you may be able to get started for much less.

Material. If you’re selling products, you’ll have the expense of the raw materials.

Manpower. Whether it’s your significant other who helps you or, or the labor of your children, you can often save the cost of hiring employees when you use what’s right in front of your nose.

Machinery. Minimally, you’ll need a computer and internet access, when you’re selling your services, but if you choose to sell physical products, you may have to invest in additional equipment.

Tip #2 What are Some Tax Benefits of Your Home Based Business?

Just because you no longer receive a regular paycheck doesn’t mean that you’re not responsible for paying taxes. But, it does mean that you can take advantage of tax write-offs that are available to home workers.

In order to maximize your tax deductions you should have a dedicated space in your home which solely houses your work at home business. Also, if you have meetings in your home with clients, vendor, or affiliates, use that dedicated space for those meetings.

Contact your accountant or tax attorney for more information on your specific situation.

Tip #3 What are You Selling – Products? Services? Or Both?

Some businesses solely sell physical products, which others focus on selling their services. There are some businesses, though, which actually sell both products as well as services. In order to be successful you have to actively market whatever it is you’re selling.

Some things to consider:

Quality – Is the quality of your products or services up to par? Can you stand toe-to-toe with your competitors, or do you provide an advantage they don’t?

Cost – Are you more expensive than the others? Are you able to justify your price with continuous business, or are you priced so high that you barely have buyers? You have to find the right price point which allows you to sell your product at an amount that allows you to make a living, and provides the client with the exact product or service she needs.

Tip #4 Where are You Selling? Online? Offline? Or Both?

As a writer, you’ll may want to sell your services both online and offline, but as a web designer you’ll need to focus on selling over the internet – unless you’ve noticed local businesses who need your services. A person who sells a product that’s heavy – like furniture, may want to focus on their local area as to avoid high shipping costs.

Take a look at your product or service and determine where your target audience is – online or off, and focus your efforts there.

Tip #5 What’s Your Patience Level?

So you’ve set out your shingle, and you’re ready to accept orders. But people don’t know who you are yet, so it’s dead. Can you handle that? Will you spend commit to spending 45 minutes to an hour each day marketing your business – even after business begins to pick up?

As a home-based entrepreneur there are several challenges associated with running your business, but if you go into it with your eyes wide open, you’ll be prepared to face the challenges – not that you’ll have an immediate answer for all of them – and determine the best course of action as they appear.

Book Review: Homemade Cleaners by Mandy O’Brien and Dionna Ford


homemade cleaning book coverBook: Homemade Cleaners: Quick-and-Easy, Toxin-Free Recipes to Replace Your Kitchen Cleaner, Bathroom Disinfectant, Laundry Detergent, Bleach, Bug Killer, Air Freshener, and more…

Authors: Mandy O’Brien and Dionna Ford

ISBN: 978-1-61243-276-2

Publisher/Date: Ulysses Press/February 2014

Pages/Price: 208/$12.95

Category: Home, Health

About Homemade Cleaners

A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO NATURAL CLEANERS THAT COMPLETELY DISINFECT, POLISH, AND FRESHEN WITHOUT DANGEROUS TOXINS
Toxic chemicals are found in almost all commercial cleaners—the very products people buy to make their homes hygienic and healthy. The recipes in, Homemade Cleaners use common, affordable ingredients that not only get every room in the house sparkling and germ-free but are also safe for families and the environment.

My Thoughts on Homemade Cleaners

I love this book. I love this book. I love this book.

First, Homemade Cleaners contains a tons of recipes – over 150 which is crazy! The recipes are divided into cleaning zones – like bathrooms, kitchens, floors and walls, laundry, etc. – which makes it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for with a quick consultation with the table of contents.

Second, the authors, Mandy O’Brien and Dionna Ford, begin the book by explaining the safety of your current cleaners and why you should change them out for more natural ones and how that can save you tons of money. I love that they begin the book by explaining why.

The best part about the book is that it contains recipes that you can duplicate in your own kitchen using products you already have in your home like, baking soda, salt, vinegar, and vodka (everyone has vodka in their home, right?). When you make it easy for people to replace their current chemical-laden cleaners with natural ones AND they don’t have to spend a lot of time or money doing so, you’re more likely to accomplish your goal by getting more people to convert to your methods.

Do you agree?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in hopes that I would write a review. The opinions expressed above are my own.