ARC Review: Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades by Steven Raichlen

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades–Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too
Author: Steven Raichlen
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Barbecue sauces, rubs, and marinades are every griller’s secret weapon—the flavor boosters that give grilled food its character, personality, depth, and soul.

Steven Raichlen, America’s “master griller” (Esquire), has completely updated and revised his bestselling encyclopedia of chile-fired rubs, lemony marinades, buttery bastes, pack-a-wallop sauces, plus mops, slathers, sambals, and chutneys. It’s a cornucopia of all the latest flavor trends, drawing from irresistible Thai, Mexican, Indian, Cajun, Jamaican, Italian, and French cuisines, as well as those building blocks from America’s own barbecue belt.

There are over 200 recipes in all, including a full sampler of dinner recipes using the sauces. And the book now has full-color photographs throughout. It’s the essential companion cookbook for every at-home pitmaster looking to up his or her game.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

I have always enjoyed grilling season, and while I am not the one typically doing the grilling, I thought that this collection of recipes would give me some inspiration. There are so many different types of marinades and rubs in this book that it is actually mind-boggling! If you are in the market for some barbecue ideas or tips, this is the recipe book that has it all.

Grilling season has just barely begun and I cannot wait to try out some of these interesting recipes in Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades. Raichlen has written this book to give help to those who are new to barbecuing and there are so many ideas and how-tos alongside the directions. Important concepts, such as how not to cross-contaminate foods are addressed, yet those more experienced cooks will enjoy the interesting variety of recipes.

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Desserts are not something I would associate with my grill, however my eyes have been opened to new possibilities! I tried the grilled pineapple rub and found it not only tasty, it was simple and easy to put together with just a few ingredients, such as sugar and cinnamon. I really enjoy the simplicity of these recipes and they take ordinary foods and kick them up a notch with an easy to assemble rub or marinade.

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Another recipe that I tried was Raichlen’s, “The Only Marinade You’ll Ever Need.” Well, this simple and zesty Mediterranean marinade is very versatile and can be used for so many different meats. It is essentially an oil and lemon juice mixture that has some added spice to it. I used this recipe to marinade some chicken pieces and it made my chicken flavourful and moist. This is definitely a recipe that I will be coming back to over and over again.

Barbecue Sauces, Rubs and Marinades is pretty much your one stop shop for any grilling recipe out there. Along with its tips and ideas for how to handle food, this book makes a great addition to any collection. I am going to be gifting this cookbook to a few grillers on my list this year, for sure!

wkendcooking I have linked this post to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

ARC Review: A Year of Picnics by Ashley English

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Title: A Year of Picnics
Author: Ashley English
Publisher: Roost Books
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Everyone loves picnicking—dining in the great outdoors, cozied up on blankets, and surrounded by the beauty of the natural world. Now imagine doing it year-round, where the setting speaks to the foods served, and you’ve got A Year of Picnics!

All it takes is a picnic blanket and some inspiration to take a meal from so-so to sensational. Pair the perfect location with the right foods, and you can take your picnicking to the next level. On mountaintops or rooftops, in nocturnal settings or in daylight, even in winter, this book invites readers to look at picnics in a whole new way. The twenty themed, seasonal picnics are made all the more special with activities, games, and crafts that encourage people to explore the outdoors and connect to one another—over food, perhaps on a blanket, in a special place. Grab a blanket and a basket, get outside, and start experiencing the joy that picnicking provides.

Goodreads | Amazon

If you are looking for a recipe book that is a little bit different from your typical book of tips and recipes, A Year of Picnics by Ashley English is sure to provide you with some inspiration. Not only are there themed picnics based on the four seasons, there are activities and ideas that revolve around the theme of each picnic. This book is full of fun ways to take your standard picnic and transform it into an event with its beautiful photographs and interesting approach.

As you can imagine, the most opportune time to venture out on a picnic is during the warmer months and when the weather is just right. The themed picnics included in this collection range from a coffee break picnic to a full on high altitude picnic. I am really looking forward to trying some of these ideas once it becomes a little bit warmer outside. I have already got the bird-watching picnic penciled in my daytimer, as the Carbonara Nests and Bird Seed Cookie recipes look divine and I just love the fact that they fit the whole idea of being outside with the birds.

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Each of the picnics contains a collection of activities to go along with the menu and the venue. Some picnics have things that the whole family can do and others are as simple as stretching on your coffee break. There is something that will interest anyone.

picnicSince we are just barely past winter here in Southern Ontario, I was only able to give the Winter Picnic a try. My family really enjoyed our wintry walk and we had a blast blowing bubbles and spraying the snow with food colouring to make interesting designs in the snow. The S’mores Brownies were an instant hit, as they are chocolate brownies baked on a graham cracker crust and topped with lots of gooey marshmallows.

For anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors and loves to picnic, this is a must-have in your collection. While it is fun to go picnicking, it is even more fun when you add some interesting foods and different ideas to kick it up a notch. I am definitely inspired to get out and picnic more often this year.

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I have linked this post to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

ARC Review: The Really Quite Good British Cookbook: The Food We Love from 100 of Our Best Chefs, Cooks, Bakers and Local Heroes by William Sitwell (editor)

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Title: The Really Quite Good British Cookbook: The Food We Love from 100 of Our Best Chefs, Cooks, Bakers and Local Heroes
Author: William Sitwell (editor)
Publisher: Nourish
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): What do you cook for the people you love? Asked this question, 100 of Britain’s food heroes have shared their most beloved recipes to make this extraordinary cookbook. Nigella Lawson divulges how to bake her Chocolate Guinness Cake and Rick Stein fries up Shrimp & Dill Fritters with Ouzo. Yotam Ottolenghi would serve Pea & Mint Croquettes and for Jamie Oliver, an unrivalled Fantastic Fish Pie. These are just a few of the incredible recipes provided by the best and brightest on the British food scene, including chefs such as Raymond Blanc, Gordon Ramsay, Delia Smith, James Martin, Nigel Slater, Thomasina Miers, Mark Hix, Jason Atherton, Marco Pierre White, Claudia Roden and more.

Compiled by award-winning food editor and author William Sitwell, The Really Quite Good British Cookbook is keenly anticipated and a stunning object in its own right. Ultimately it is a celebration of the breadth, creativity and richness of Britain’s unique food culture.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Really Quite Good British Cookbook absolutely defies that old adage that the British serve bland and tasteless food. In this large collection of recipes from so many celebrated British chefs, you will find many interesting and exceptional dishes to prepare at home. Also, the images that are peppered throughout this book include breathtaking images of beautiful scenery as well as mouth-watering food.

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Warm New Potato Salad with Mint Leaves & Chives

What is most fascinating about this compilation of recipes is the fact that there are so many different types of dishes to choose from. There are breakfast ideas, fish, game, poultry, pasta, sides, and a number of desserts to create that really shows the breadth and changing palette of this diverse land. The Really Quite British Cookbook really has it all and if you are looking for one book that has a variety of recipes, this is the one you will want to check out.

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Brioche French Toast

For those of us who are not British, some of the ingredients may require a little bit of investigation if you are not familiar with some of the British terms. I definitely had to learn about caster sugar when creating the yummy Brioche French Toast recipe by Joanna Brennan, which really only required a little bit of molasses added to sugar. This was a really easy and delicious recipe that puts a twist on your standard french toast recipe with the use of brioche and vanilla paste.

Most notably, the images in the book are gorgeous and each recipe/chef is shown on a map to further describe the food of that particular region of Britain. This part of the book really demonstrates the changing landscape and food evolution that is taking place in Britain. Also, some the proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Trussel Trust, which is a charity that runs Britain’s food banks. All the more reason to pick-up a copy of this amazing book!

If you are looking to try some new and interesting recipes, The Really Quite Good British Cookbook is one that I highly recommend. I can’t wait to try out a few more of the recipes included in this wonderful book. It is one that has something for everyone.

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I have linked this post over at  Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

ARC Review: Botanical Beauty: 80 Essential Recipes for Spa Products by Aubre Andrus

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Title: Botanical Beauty: 80 Essential Recipes for Spa Products
Author: Aubre Andrus
Publisher: Capstone
Publication Date: March 1, 2017
Stars: 4.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Soak, scrub, and soothe your way to relaxation with simple homemade spa recipes from award-winning author Aubre Andrus. Using some of nature’s best ingredients, such as beeswax, sugar, coconut oil, shea butter, avocado, sea salt, essential oils, and more, craft everything from a Cooling Peppermint Hand Cream to a Vanilla Honey Body Scrub. Make practical products, like your own all-natural Bugs-Be-Gone Insect Repellent, Minty Homemade Toothpaste, and Natural Shaving Cream. Or pamper yourself after a long day with a Re-energizing Tub Tea, Lovely Lavender Bath Salts, and a Deep Conditioning Treatment. Nourish your body from head to toe with these organic, handmade recipes and crafts, or package them as a gift to share a fresh, fun spa experience.

Goodreads | Amazon

This is not a book that I typically review, but when I saw it on NetGalley, I couldn’t resist checking it out for all of those awesome DIY spa recipes! Botanical Beauty has a multitude of great recipes and ideas to make your own bath bombs, lotions and many other beauty products. This book is gorgeous and contains very simple instructions and tips. The only criticism that I have is the fact that some of the required items, such as essential oils are quite expensive.

If you are like me, bath bombs and salts have become a frequent purchase that can really add up. For gift giving, they are my favourite go-to items. Since I have had a copy of this book since before the holidays, I was able to create a few of the recipes for friends as gifts. Not only did I have fun, these gifts were just a little bit more special, as they were handmade.

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Many of the ingredients are most likely already in your cupboard, making many of the recipes super easy to put together. The tub teas are a mix of sea salt, oatmeal and essential oil. They are not only easy to make, they are customizable, as you can choose the scent that you would like. I have had lots of great feedback as well and I can honestly say that they are soothing and skin softening.

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While there are quite a few bath products and gifts that can be made with just a few ingredients from your kitchen, some of the more elaborate recipes will require a trip to a natural food store. Items such as coconut oil, shea butter and essential oils are needed to create the lotions and lip balms. I found that a few of these products were a bit more pricey than I expected, so I suggest that you shop for deals or investigate the cost of the necessary items ahead of time. It is definitely worth the cost up front if you do intend on making a large quantity of certain recipes.

If you are looking to try your hand at creating some of your beauty products, I highly suggest checking out Botanical Beauty. This book is jam-packed with recipes that are easy to follow and the images are also quite stunning. I have been whipping up quite a few of the tub teas and while I love shopping for those expensive bath products, these recipes are fun and definitely well-received gifts!

 

ARC Review: Packed: Lunch Hacks to Squeeze More Nutrients into Your Day by Becky Alexander

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Title: Packed: Lunch Hacks to Squeeze More Nutrients into Your Day
Author: Becky Alexander, Michelle Lake
Publisher: Nourish
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Stars: 3.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):  The workday packed lunch – so often a repetitive and disappointing affair – is easier than you think to get right; it just requires a little forward planning. Throw out the soggy sandwiches and fill your Thermos or lunch box with nutrient-packed goodies that are simple to prepare, delicious – and full of things that are good for you. Contemporary and seasonal recipes are supported by sound nutrition to bring you this hip and easy guide on lunch on the go. While food writer Becky Alexander shows you how to knock up simple and satisfying bites – from vibrant Skip to the Beet Soup to satisfying Good Mood Cookies – nutritionist Michelle Lake will explain how that lunch is doing you good. Chapters include:
– Get Up and Go for those breakfasts on the run
– Raw Goodness salads
– Filling Flasks of satisfying hot food
– Fork-free Fare: sandwiches, dips and other cutlery-free eats
– Snacks and Bites for the inbetween times and treats
By strategic shopping, making things ahead, and using your fridge and freezer craftily, creating exciting and healthy lunches every day becomes almost effortless. Health benefits of particular foods are featured throughout, so you know your blood sugar will be balanced, the nutrition will be packed in and your brain will be kept in top gear. Because work is harder when you’re not fully fuelled!

Goodreads | Amazon

I am always searching for ways to simplify my life and my routine. Eating healthy and making wise food choices is something that is important to me and I am sure many others out there. While Packed has some wonderful ideas and takes an interesting approach to lunchtime fare, most of the recipes and ideas were not in accordance with my definition of a “lunch hack,” a way to use shortcuts and tricks to simplify my productivity.

Smoothies for breakfast and salads for lunch are not a relatively new concept for healthy eating options. However, there are some interesting combinations and ideas that may shake things up for you, if you are looking for new ideas. Some of the other recipes included in this book are deli plates, soups and even sushi. As you can imagine, the soups will take some effort to prepare and the sushi will require time, equipment, and skill. These techniques are unique and they are definitely a delicious approach to your standard lunch, but you will have to put quite a bit of effort into their creations.

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Paprika Popcorn

As for the recipes included in the Snacks and Bites chapter, these are quite a bit easier to prepare. However, I still found that the number of dishes, time, and ingredients to make something as simple as popcorn was a little excessive. I made the Paprika Popcorn, which was quite tasty. The method uses coconut oil to pop the corn in a pan on the stove and a small amount of butter and paprika. I am not sure if I would go to all of this trouble before leaving in the morning, but I will concede that it is a healthy and filling snack.

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Pick-and-Mix Granola

 

Another recipe that I enjoyed from Packed was the Pick-and-Mix Granola. I really enjoy granola and it is so versatile, as you can snack on it and use it as a topping for so many other foods. This recipe calls for oil, sweetener, grains, spice, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. What is great about this approach is you can choose from a variety of items and make it all your own. I used coconut oil, oatmeal, cinnamon, vanilla, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries. The recipe is simple enough, yet will require an hour to bake in the oven.

 

If you are looking for some different lunch ideas that have health benefits, then you may want to take a look at Packed. Many of these recipes will require time and some skill, so if a “hack” is what you are after for your lunchtime routine, this book may not provide you with those solutions. There are quite a few recipes in this book that I will definitely attempt on weekends, but most of these ideas don’t work for my busy lifestyle.

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I’ve linked this post over at Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

ARC Review: My Sweet Kitchen: Recipes for Stylish Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Donuts, Cupcakes and More by Linda Lomelino

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Title: My Sweet Kitchen: Recipes for Stylish Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Donuts, Cupcakes and More
Author: Linda Lomelino
Publisher: Roost Books
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): The world of desserts has never been more delicious, or more elegantly styled. With Linda Lomelino as your baking muse, your kitchen just got a whole lot sweeter.

With an offset spatula laden with buttercream in one hand and a camera in the other, Linda Lomelino has made her mark as one of the most exciting recipe creators and food photographers in the world. My Sweet Kitchen, Linda’s third cookbook, is bursting with many of her favorite recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, cupcakes, donuts, spoon desserts, and other sweet delights.

Linda’s desserts are renowned for their elegant blend of classic flavor combinations and unexpected style. Along with nearly 50 original recipes, the book also contains three chapters chock-full of tips on how to bake, decorate, style, and photograph your own creations at home.

Linda Lomelino openheartedly shares her secrets for successful baking, telling us what we should always keep in our well-stocked pantries for best results. What should we prioritize when baking complex cakes? Is it best to use a kitchen scale to weigh ingredients? (Hint: “accurate measurements” and “yes”!) With her trademark atmospheric photographs, every recipe in the book comes to life. Linda also shows us how to pipe icing, frost cakes, decorate with edible flowers, style food to be shared (and “liked”) on social media, and even how to tell if we should invest in a new camera to take food photography to the next level. If you have even the slightest sweet tooth, this book will hook you.

Goodreads | Amazon

 I have been baking up a storm these last couple of weeks thanks to Linda Lomelino and her new recipe book, My Sweet Kitchen. I was first drawn to this one for its gorgeous cover and the fact that Lomelino shares some of her photography tips in the book. If you are anything like me, taking pictures for social media or the blog is a struggle. This book is a really useful guide to anyone wishing to learn baking basics and how to capture images of the process with ease in a genuinely kind and forgiving manner.

My Sweet Kitchen is filled with beautiful photos that will make the reader both drool and become excited to get baking and styling. Lomelino walks through some of her photographs in the book and describes in detail the process to go from a good photo to an eye-popping masterpiece. Her method is so laid back and she gives her readers permission to make mistakes, which is comforting to me because I make lots of them! I am not about to say that my pictures are gorgeous, but I do feel as though I have made some improvements with her suggestions.

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Blueberry Bars

These yummy blueberry bars have actually become one of my favourite new go-to desserts. They are so easy to make and are basically a tea biscuit with fruit. I have made them a couple of times now and I love that they satisfy my sweet tooth in a simple and quick recipe.

 

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Dulce de Leche Cookies

First off, I am going to say that I have never used dulce de leche before and I am a new fan. I have always used basic caramel sauce as a topping for ice cream, but this incredible sauce made from condensed sweetened milk is so decadent. These cookies have a hint of cinnamon, white and dark chocolate as well. The recipe only makes a few cookies, but they are definitely worth the effort. I also used Lomelino’s tips for adding movement in a food picture. The recipe for these is over on her blog, if you would like to give these a try!

 

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Cupcakes with Espresso Frosting

These chocolate cupcakes are effortless to create and use ingredients that are typically on hand. While Lomelino provides a wonderful tutorial on how to pipe designs onto cupcakes in the book, this frosting goes on nicely just using a spatula. This recipe is included as an image to view on Amazon, if you are interested in creating these as well.

I most likely won’t become a food photographer and I have only used a smart phone to take these photos, but I do feel as though I have gained a little bit of insight in taking a better picture. To get an idea of what the images in My Sweet Kitchen are like, check out Linda’s stunning Instagram posts.

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I’ve linked this post over at Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

ARC Review: Salad in a Jar: 68 Recipes for Salads and Dressings by Anna Helm Baxter

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Title: Salad in a Jar: 68 Recipes for Salads and Dressings
Author: Anna Helm Baxter
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): A collection of more than 60 illustrated recipes for simple-to-prepare salads, dressings, breakfasts, and snacks to take on the go.

The solution to the lunchtime salad rut, Salad in a Jar provides healthy, easy alternatives to dissatisfying or overpriced grab-and-go meals. These nutritionally balanced recipes are perfect for making ahead. Anna Helm Baxter reveals the keys to layering ingredients to maximize freshness and texture for a hearty and satisfying dish or snack. Tips and tricks include instructions on designing salads in a jar with recipes for raw salads, side salads, meal salads, snacks, and desserts.

Goodreads | Amazon

Have you got the desire and a few extra minutes to prepare a quick and nutritious lunch? This is one cookbook that I can honestly say will satisfy your need to eat healthier and not demand too much of your time. Salad in a Jar gives its readers ideas and solutions that are not only tasty, but relatively easy to prepare. The beautiful illustrations and simple instructions make this book a must-have for anyone wanting to shake up their lunch routine.

What is really amazing to me about Salad in a Jar, is the method that Helm Baxter describes to create these salads. After you understand the simple layering technique, any recipe can be used. This is very exciting to me, as there are many times that I have tried to take a salad for lunch and found that it was soggy or just not as fresh once lunchtime hits.

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Watermelon, Tomato, and Feta

Also, the 10 minutes that it takes to prepare the most complicated recipe is quite doable and can be sped up with a little preparation the night before. There are so many different types of recipes that vegetarians and those who prefer a little more protein in their meal will be able to find something enjoyable to prepare. The ingredients for the salads and dressings that I created were all sourced from my local grocery store and were quite reasonably priced. Considering that I would spend more on take-out, this is considerable savings.

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Fattoush

A gorgeous recipe book that is packed full of ideas and recipes for eating well, Salad in a Jar is my new favourite cookbook. I have always looked forward to the lunch hour, but knowing that I will have something delicious and good for me is a bonus. If you are looking for a new and easy way to change up the way you do lunch, I highly recommend Salad in a Jar.

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I’ve linked this post over at Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

ARC Review: Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess by Rachel Hoffman

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Title: Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess
Author: Rachel Hoffman
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Stars: 3/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Finally, a housekeeping and organizational system developed for those of us who’d describe our current living situation as a “f*cking mess” that we’re desperate to fix. Unf*ck Your Habitat is for anyone who has been left behind by traditional aspirational systems: The ones that ignore single people with full-time jobs; people without kids but living with roommates; and people with mental illnesses or physical limitations, and many others. Most organizational books are aimed at traditional homemakers, DIYers, and people who seem to have unimaginable amounts of free time. They assume we all iron our sheets, have linen napkins to match our table runners, and can keep plants alive for longer than a week. Basically, they ignore most of us living here in the real world.

Interspersed with lists and challenges, this practical, no-nonsense advice relies on a 20/10 system (20 minutes of cleaning followed by a 10-minute break; no marathon cleaning allowed) to help you develop lifelong habits. It motivates you to embrace a new lifestyle in manageable sections so you can actually start applying the tactics as you progress. For everyone stuck between The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Adulting, this philosophy is decidedly more realistic than aspirational, but the goal is the same: not everyone will have a showcase of a home, but whatever your habitat, you deserve one that brings you happiness, not stress.

Goodreads | Amazon

If you are looking for motivation to get up and get cleaning and organizing your environment, then this book might provide you with the encouragement that you are looking for. While, there are some great suggestions and a good foundation with the 20/10 system that Rachel Hoffman has developed, this book seems to spend more time talking than actual doing. I was hoping that there would be more concrete ideas and actual time saving techniques to improve upon my own housekeeping endeavours and I just came away from this one wondering what I had achieved in reading it.

As you can gather from the Goodreads synopsis, this book is not a traditional approach to housekeeping. There are ideas for everyone including students and those with disabilities. I applaud Hoffman for such an inclusive book and if you are struggling with ideas on how to get up and get motivated, then I suggest that you do give this book a try. Most of the suggestions contained in this one are motivational and may assist those who are living in a situation that is highly disorganized and not cleanly.

While there are attempts to help push those who need to clean their environments to get up and start cleaning, I found that there were very few ideas on how to actually clean and organize in this book. The method of cleaning and taking small breaks (20/10 system) is one that is useful, but I would have preferred a focus on what to actually do in those 20 minutes. Yes, there are a couple of ideas, such as decluttering a work surface, but the book just seemed to go around in circles telling readers to get up and get cleaning.

Admittedly, towards the end of this book there are a couple of lists to use while cleaning and a few ideas on how to generally clean if you have never done so before. However, there is not one image or much else beyond this. So, if you are after a book that tells you how to clean, this one is not for you. The author does mention that those glossy home organization books and magazines provide stress to those of us who cannot live up to these standards, but in my opinion, I think a picture sometimes speaks louder than words in a book that contains techniques and ideas.

Unf*ck Your Habitat is a book that is a very motivational read for anyone struggling to live in a clean environment. If you already have the desire and are looking for concrete examples of how and what to do to clean your space, this book may provide you with a couple of ideas, but I would not say it is a comprehensive book on how to clean.

ARC Review: Make in a Day Pompom Crafts by Victoria Hudgins

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I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

Title: Make in a Day Pompom Crafts
Author: Victoria Hudgins
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication Date: October 19, 2016
Stars: 3.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Add a bit of pizzazz to clothing and accessories with pompom crafts you can make in a day. These handcrafted yarn ornaments are simple to make — no knitting or crochet skills are involved and no prior crafting experience is necessary. Quick and easy projects include a headband and other wearables, baskets, and crafty items for home decor.
Each book from Dover’s “Make in a Day” series presents 15 projects with illustrated step-by-step instructions. Easily completed within only one day, the beginner-friendly projects are ideal for anyone wishing to whip up something special but uncomplicated that offers a personal touch and a dash of handmade charm. Supplies are easy to obtain and readily available at major craft stores.

Goodreads | Amazon

If you are looking for a fun and easy craft for a weekend project, this book has some simple and unique ideas that involve all sorts of pompoms. There are detailed and easy to follow instructions with many gorgeous photos to compliment each project. There are ideas ranging from simple bookmarks to cake decorations and if you are planning a party, this craft book does contain quite a few inexpensive and interesting party decorating ideas. While I did find this book enjoyable, I do believe that this would be a perfect crafting book for tweens. The projects are very simple and I was expecting some more elaborate ideas for my own decorating and gift giving projects. Also, the author suggests the purchase of different sized pompom makers and I felt that this was unnecessary, as there are so many do-it-yourself pompom making ideas out there.

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One idea that I found really useful was to use a fork to create small pompoms. I used this technique to create the bookmarks and pencil toppers. It was really quite easy.

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So, if you are in the mood to create something simple, I do suggest taking a look at Make in  a Day Pompoms. I would recommend this book to anyone with minimal crafting experience and a desire to make some easy decorations.

Recipe Book ARC Review: The Messy Baker by Charmian Christie

The Messy Baker by Charmian Christie

The Messy Baker by Charmian Christie

I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

Title: The Messy Baker
Author: Charmian Christie
Publisher: Rodale
Publication Date: August 26, 2015
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): A celebration of real baking in all its messy, boisterous, and delicious glory Since when did every cookie on the plate have to be just like the next? Or each layer of cake exactly the same height? Each piecrust an impeccable work of art and encircled by stunningly perfect pastry leaves? To the uninitiated, all that fastidious, spotless baking is intimidating, not to mention exhausting. The Messy Baker celebrates baking as it happens in the real world—sweet, messy, fun, not always gorgeous, but a way to show love. Which doesn’t make it any less delicious; to the contrary, Charmian’s flavor combinations rise far above the ordinary. Why have a raspberry galette when you can enjoy a raspberry-rhubarb galette with drippy, unctuous walnut frangipane? Or brie and walnut whisky tart? All without the rigid perfectionism or complicated instructions of other gourmet cookbooks. Charmian’s warm, irreverent voice brings the fun back into baking at a time when home cooks—pulled from pillar to post by jobs and errands—need to have fun. The Messy Baker is a full service book that not only guides the reader through simple, delicious recipes, but is also there to help out when things wrong. For anyone who has given up in frustration when that crust has collapsed or the frosting smears, Christie’s warm, practical advice is here to rescue even the worst disaster and inspire bakers to try their next recipe.

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The Messy Baker is a cookbook that is sure to delight both the novice cook and the experienced chef. This book includes useful tips within its quirky and colourful pages. The recipes contained within are simple and classic, which makes this an instant go-to family cookbook.

One of the biggest draws for me when opening a recipe book is its layout and design. The photographs in The Messy Baker are absolutely gorgeous, leaving one to drool over the many deliciously depicted treats. Also, the sections are divided into different styles of food, as opposed to main dishes, desserts and sides. For example, foods that are crumbly, smudgy and drippy are sectioned into different groups, giving this book a real sense of fun and whimsy.

Either Way Marinara Sauce

Either Way Marinara Sauce

I absolutely adore the multitude of tips and cooking techniques that Charmian Christie has included in The Messy Baker. There is a detailed introduction and basic tips at the beginning of the book and a very comprehensive appendix that includes all kinds of tricks and conversions. I am certain that I will be referring back to these tips for years to come!

Chewy Crystallized Giger Cookies

Chewy Crystallized Ginger Cookies

Many of the recipes in The Messy Baker are simple and use ingredients that are typically on hand in many kitchens. I loved assembling the Boozy Chocolate Torte, Chewy Crystallized Ginger Cookies and the Either Way Marinara Sauce. Each recipe was detailed, effortless and tasty.

Boozy Chocolate Torte

Boozy Chocolate Torte

I would highly recommend The Messy Baker to anyone looking for a beautiful, whimsical cookbook that includes recipes that are simple to make. This is going to be one book that is going to fill many stockings in my house this year!