Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mailbox Monday: Too Blessed With Deep Disclosure And Don't Mess With Texas


Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at The Printed Page, is on a blog tour!

This month, Mailbox Monday is being hosted over at Life In The Thumb, so stop by and join the fun!

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren!

It is so much fun to see what everyone is getting in the mail.

Thanks for taking the time to visit ~ I just love hearing from you! Please let me know if you have read any of these books - I'd love to hear how you liked them!! :)

I've got a few new books to share with you:

Deep DisclosureDeep Disclosure by Dee Davis ~ Fiction / Romance / Contemporary ~ Available September 1st ~ Received from the publisher for review
After spending years in prison under deep cover, black ops agent Tucker Flynn joins A-Tac, an elite CIA unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college. Nothing can shake him-except a vulnerable young woman marked for death.

DUAL DECEPTION

When Tucker is assigned to protect-and secretly investigate-Alexis Markham, he expects a routine mission. But this mysterious beauty has a past even darker than his: her father created a horrifying new biochemical weapon-and was murdered to keep it secret.

Alexis has spent the last decade racing to stay one step ahead of the shadowy operatives who will stop at nothing to possess her father's formula. She can trust no one, not even her handsome new bodyguard. But the heat that flares between them is impossible to resist. Will giving in to passion bring her the safety she's always craved, or will her love for Tucker draw him into a killer's sights?

Don't Mess with TexasDon't Mess With Texas by Christie Craig ~ Fiction / Romance / Contemporary ~ Available September ~ Received from the publisher for review
Nikki Hunt thought her night couldn't get worse when her no-good, cheating ex ditched her at dinner, sticking her with the bill. Then she found his body stuffed in the trunk of her car and lost her two-hundred-dollar meal all over his three-thousand-dollar suit. Now not only is Nikki nearly broke, she's a murder suspect.

Former cop turned PI, Dallas O'Connor knows what it's like to be unjustly accused. But one look at the sexy-though skittish-suspect tells him she couldn't hurt anyone. The lead detective, Dallas's own brother, has the wrong woman and Dallas hopes a little late-night "undercover" work will help him prove it . . .

Too Blessed to Be Stressed: Inspiration for Climbing Out of Life's Stress-PoolToo Blessed To Be Stressed:Inspiration for Climbing Out of Life's Stress-Pool by Deborah M. Coty ~ Fiction / Romance / Contemporary ~ Available August 1st ~ Received from the publisher for review and tour with LitFuse Publicity starting August 8th.
With her own offbeat brand of wit and near-wisdom, inspirational humorist Debora Coty addresses heart needs of women drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In Too Blessed to Be Stressed, women will find simple, practical steps for healing, refreshment, and revitalization of the spirit, body, and faith.

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Here's One Mom's Experience While Making Raspberry and Strawberry Jam (Feel Free to Leave Some Tips)

It's Not That Hard To Make Your Own Jam (or Jelly) at Home! If I Can Do It... YOU Can! Yesterday, I made 20 8 oz. containers of Raspberry Jam (1 was Jelly for a friend who doesn't like seeds), and today I made 10 varied sized containers of Strawberry Jam (1 was Jelly because I wanted to try some myself!).


First of all, the recipe I used was straight off the Sure-Jell regular package (which can also be found on their site at Sure Jell Strawberry Jam)

Ingredients for 1 1/2 batch

SURE.JELL Strawberry Jam

Average Rating: 5 starts
Prep Time: 45 min
Total Time: 45 min
Makes: About 8 (1-cup) jars or 128 servings, 1 Tbsp. each

What You Need

5 cups prepared fruit (about 2 quarts fully ripe strawberries)
1 box SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine (optional)
7 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl

Make It!

Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

Stem and crush strawberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Measure exactly 5 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-quart saucepot.

Stir pectin into prepared fruit in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

Kraft Kitchen Tips

Strawberry-Lime Jam
Prepare as directed, adding 2 tsp. grated lime peel and 1/4 cup lime juice to prepared strawberries in saucepot.

How to Measure Precisely
To get exact level cup measures of sugar, spoon sugar into dry metal or plastic measuring cups, then level by scraping excess sugar from top of cup with a straight-edged knife.

Altitude Chart

At altitudes above 1,000 feet, increase processing time as indicated: 1,001 to 3,000 feet - increase processing time by 5 minutes; 3,001 to 6,000 feet - increase processing time by 10 minutes; 6,001 to 8,000 feet - increase processing time by 15 minutes; 8,001 to 10,000 feet - increase processing time by 20 minutes.

So I'll have to apologize now for the pictures... there is just something wrong with the lighting in our kitchen, and here in the Seattle area it was overcast today, so I didn't have a lot of good lighting by the windows either...

Set Up:  Here is how I have the range top and jars set up:


I actually keep the jars and lid rims hot in the dishwasher until I need them, and I then fill them inside to keep the mess easy to clean up! More on that in a moment...

I have the canner on the upper left, and I get that started while I'm getting my ingredients ready because it takes so long to bring the water to a boil.  I use the other large burner to make the jam, and behind it I have a small sauce pan of boiling water so I can get the lid inserts ready for use.

The jars should be hot when you put the jam/jelly inside so they are clean and don't shatter when you put something with a different temperature inside.  (I didn't have a lot of luck today keeping mine hot, so keep it in mind, but I didn't have any trouble with marginally warm jars.)


Cooking Your Jam/Jelly:




I followed the recipe and combined the slightly crushed strawberries and pectin in the pot and brought them to a boil. NOTE: I didn't really crush the berries much ahead of time, so I just used a potato masher while they were cooking and it turned out great and saved time!

Next, I added the sugar and stirred the jam until it boiled for a full minute.  By this time, the jam is ready to be removed from the stove and it will have a little foam on it, so try to skim off as much as you can.  (In the third picture, you can see some foam on the top of the jam.)

Prior to removing the pot from the stove, I had placed my bread board on the counter above the dishwasher so I could put the pot above the dishwasher for ease of filling the jars without scorching the counter top.

Using a funnel and a 1/2 cup measuring cup, I filled the jars (4 at a time), then used a dishwashing glove to handle the hot jars to put the lid/ring onto the jars, sealing them. I then moved the jars to the far side of the dishwasher rack.


Canning/Processing the Filled Jam Jars:


Once all the jars are filled and the lids are secure, it is time to process them in the waterbath so they can be stored in the pantry.

By now, the water in the canning pot is boiling.  Wearing the dishwashing gloves, I put the jars in making sure to balance them carefully on opposite sides to keep the weight even and stop the pot insert from falling in the water.  Once the jars are inside, lower the instert and make sure all the jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water.

Process according to the instructions, in my case, it was 10 minutes.  While this was happening, I quickly put away my extra clean jars, and refilled the dishwasher with the dirty jam making things.

When the jars were ready, I took them out wearing the dishwashing gloves and a pot-holder (nope, I didn't use the neat canning jar picker-upper thing because I don't have one...), placing the jars on the clean breadboard to cool down.

After a few minutes, you may hear the tops popping a bit and this is a GOOD sign.  It is the seal becoming tighter as the jam/jelly cools.  Follow the cooling instructions, then store in a cool dark place.


Note: How To Make Jelly (no seeds) Instead of Jam (seeds):

Use a strainer or cheese cloth to strain the finished jam and take out the seeds, making it a jelly instead of a jam.  The completed jars shown are: Jelly on the left, and jam on the right.

 

A Note about doing this with kids...
1. I let my 4 1/2 year old help measure and combine the ingredients before it got too hot (ie, he could pour the pectin into the strawberries and he could help mix it up)
2. A 1 1/2 year old is VERY curious........ ummmmmmmm..... this made for some very interesting moments until I thought to put him in his high chair and move it to where I was working so he could see without pushing the dishwasher rack in and out...
3. Yesterday, a friend and her son came over, and she helped the kids stay out of the kitchen which was a HUGE help :)
4. After the spoons cool (yes I used more than one), the boys liked to like the jam off!!

IMPORTANT NOTE:  I am by no means an expert!!!  I've made jam a handful of times in the past, and most recently did it yesterday and today.  Make sure you follow the instructions for the type of jam/jelly you are making and the type of pectin you are using.

If you have any tips or suggestions you'd like to share, please feel free to leave a comment!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle by Georgette Heyer


TEASER TUESDAYS :
hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading ~





Sylvester: or The Wicked Uncle
Knowing nothing of what was in his mind Phoebe watched him in perplexity. After a long pause she said, in a constricted tone: 'I collect you have not received my letter, Duke?"

'I have not had that pleasure. How obliging of you to have written to me! To inform me of this affair, no doubt?"


~ page 310 “Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle" by Georgette Heyer

I have to say that this is one of my favorite books and I'm really excited that Sourcebooks has re-printed it, but I don't like the cover... :(

About Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle by Georgette Heyer:

Rank, wealth, and elegance are no match for a young lady who writes novels...

Sylvester, Duke of Salford, has exacting requirements for a bride. Then he meets Phoebe Marlow, a young lady with literary aspirations, and suddenly life becomes very complicated. She meets none of his criteria, and even worse, she has written a novel that is sweeping through the ton and causing all kinds of gossip... and he's the main character!

:) I always look forward to reading everyone's teasers! ~ Wendi

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up and use to buy more books! :)




Two Easy Ways to Make Your Own Butter At Home (Great For Flavored Butter and Kids Activities)

This weekend the boys and I made butter at home by hand... and we loved it... and it is SO easy!  My sister-in-law originally laughed at what we were doing, then after tasting our butter with chives, promised to never laugh at our butter creations again!  ;)

We made regular butter, and butter with chives, then stored them in small containers.

There are two ways of making your own butter (that I know of), by shaking a container by hand, or by using a mixer.  I have not tried the mixer method, but here is a great post from Free Range Living on making butter with a mixer, as well as some additional tips.

Here's how to make it via shaking it by hand...

What you will need to make your own butter: 


A jar or container that has a tightly closing lid
Heavy Cream (sometimes called Heavy Whipping Cream)
Salt (optional)
Other ingredients to make flavored butter (these are ideas only)
     chives
     garlic
     honey
     lemon
     dill
     sundried tomatoes

Directions


1. If you want a flavored butter, put any ingredients into your container
2. Pour your heavy cream into the container until it is about 2/3 full (you need room in the container for it to make whipping cream which will then turn into butter, but it gets nice and fluffy first)
3. Close the lid tightly and begin shaking it.
         ** this is the part the kids generally love to help with... they just pass it back and forth **
4. Before it turns into butter, it will turn into really smooth and fluffy whipping cream, so don't stop here, keep shaking!
5. You know you are done when the butter suddenly starts separating from the whey and you end up with a light colored liquid (butter milk) and the slightly more yellow butter.
6. Drain the butter milk from the container, replace the lid and shake just a little more, drain again.
7. Your butter is ready to use! 

Chive Butter Made By Hand With The Kids (1 1/2 and 4 1/2 year old boys)

Here is our chive butter, which was wonderful on toasted bread!

There are endless possiblities as far as flavoring your butter, so I hope you will stop by and let me know what flavors you have made!

This is also a great kids activity at a party or pre-school. The kids love the process and then can eat some with bread or scones (pancakes, mashed potatoes, etc) and take credit for making it!

Here is a great place to find ideas on flavors for your butter from Taste of Home's Community Forum: Look! Over 60 Flavored Butter Recipes Inside!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Milk Nursingwear's ecoMilk Shirred V-Neck Nursing Top In Organic Cotton (Stylish, Comfortable and Maintains Privacy) Win $50 To Spend at Milk Nursingwear

I've never found a nursing shirt that I fell in love with, until now. Milk Nursingwear has some of the cutest nursing wear I've ever seen!  The ecoMilk Shirred V-Neck Nursing Top in Organic Cotton is comfortable to wear, maintains privacy without looking like a nursing top, and it is stylish (shhhhh - it doesn't look like your traditional nursing top, it looks NORMAL).

I don't know about you, but my experiences with nursingwear has been pretty bad.  Not only can it be very hard to find garments made for nursing mothers, but they often LOOK like a "special" thing that kind of put you in the spotlight as a nursing mom.  I had finally given up and resorted to wearing a light-weight tank under a stretchy T-shirt so I could have a somewhat in-style outfit and maintain my privacy while nursing.  The problem here was that this is fine for everyday life, but not when we are doing something a little nicer like attending a birthday, going out to dinner with friends, hosting a party, attending church, etc.

When I became aware of Milk Nursingwear, I found a line of nursing wear that I fell in love with, and if you are a nursing mother they have you covered... literally!  They have a wonderful selection of tops, dresses, sleepwear, bras and more... AND they have a convenient return/exchange policy so you can get exactly what you want in the correct size.

I've had a chance to wear the Shirred V-Neck from their ecoMilk line a few times so far, and it has maintained it's color and shape very nicely through multiple washings.  I am most impressed with the fact that I feel very comfortable and stylish in this shirt.  I even wore it to a family gathering with out-of-town guests and received lots of compliments on it.




Shirred V-Neck Nursing Top in Organic Cotton
by ecoMilk ~ $39.00

Milk Nursingwear ~ The Freshest Nursingwear On The Planet

Edition Reviewed: Actual Sample - Review sample received courtesy of Milk Nursingwear, many thanks for sending me a shirt to review!


About ecoMilk's Shirred V-Neck Nursing Top in Organic Cotton:
•Made with soft, GOTS (global organic textile standards) certified organic cotton, using eco-friendly dyes

•Choose from 5 colors!

•Fashionable shirred v-neckline

•3/4 length sleeves makes this a year-round nursing top

•Double-layer nursing opening makes nursing discreet and easy

•Simply lift top layer to access nursing openings

•100% organic cotton, using eco-friendly dyes

•Machine wash and dry

Available in: Black, Brown, Purple, Raspberry and Cerulean Blue
Sizes: XS, M, L, XL, 2X, 3X


About Milk Nursingwear ~ The Freshest Nursingwear On The Planet:

We design fresh, modern clothing for nursing moms and sell chic nursing accessories as well. Our brand is truly unique. What sets Milk apart is our sense of fashion and style, and our committment to supporting all moms through breastfeeding and motherhood.

I am the founder of Milk and the mother of four beautiful breastfed children.

My inspiration for Milk came after the birth of my first daughter in 1997. Early on I was introduced to the concept of nursingwear. While I loved the discretion and ease that nursing clothing provided, I did not love the dowdy styling. I wanted to feel attractive and fashionable and believed my clothing should reflect that.

So in June 2000, armed with entrepreneurial spirit, my MBA, experience as a Bloomingdale's buyer and a Marketing Manager, I realized my vision by launching a line of fashion-forward nursingwear. After seven successful years of running that company and bringing fashionable nursingwear to women the world over, I am doing it again now with Milk - better than ever before.

Milk benefits from all that I learned working with thousands of nursing moms the world over.

What sets Milk apart is:

•Excellent customer service. We are here to serve you. We offer fast shipping, easy returns and exchanges, and personal service by email and phone.

•Fresh, modern styles. We design clothing that is so stylish and flattering, you'd want to wear it even if you weren't nursing!

•We support moms. As moms ourselves, we know the joys and challenges that motherhood brings. We offer non-judgemental support for your feeding decisions, parenting decisions, lifestyles, and child-rearing practices. We support your efforts to breastfeed by making it easier and more fashionable for you to do so.

•Our support of female entrepreneurs. As a second-time entrepreneur, I love hearing about new businesses and helping women who are getting started. To this end, we will be showcasing new products on our site and blog to help new companies gain exposure. Email me if you have a product to suggest.

•A committment to responsible and ethical business practices. We treat our employees and vendors fairly and with respect. Honesty and integrity guide our business decisions and interactions.

Milk is available at boutiques worldwide. Click here to see where Milk is sold. I hope that Milk enables you to breastfeed your children more easily and helps you enjoy being out in the world with your nurslings. Contact me anytime at elisa@milknursingwear.com.

Giveaway Details:
One lucky Wendi's Book Corner reader will win

To Enter: (Leave a comment for each, please include your email so I can contact you if you win!)

1. Tweet:  WOW the nursing wear by Milk Nursingwear is so pretty http://www.milknursingwear.com @wbarker1
2. Like/Fan Milk Nursingwear on Facebook (Tell them Wendi's Book Corner sent you - not required)
3. Like/follow via their website at www.milknursingwear.com
4. Follow Wendi's Book Corner via Google Friend Connect
5. Follow via Twitter
6. Subscribe via Feedburner
7. Follow via NetworkedBlogs
8. Like Wendi's Book Corner on Facebook
9. BONUS ENTRY: Share this giveaway on you blog, twitter or facebook and leave a link here (1x per location daily).
       WOW the nursing wear by Milk Nursingwear is so pretty http://www.milknursingwear.com @wbarker1

This giveaway is open to the United States and Canada.  The drawing will be held July 31st. Winner: I will send you an email, please reply with your contact information so I can forward it to my contact at Milk Nursingwear!

~ Wendi

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma


TEASER TUESDAYS :
hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading ~





The Map of Time: A Novel
"The white cord," explained the traveler, pointing at the master rope, "represents the original univers, the only one that existed before the travelers began meddling with the past. The universe it is my task to protect."


~ page 534 “The Map of Time" by Felix J. Palma

About The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma:

Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time boasts a triple-play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H.G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and thereby save the lives of an aristocrat in love with a murdered prostitute from the past; of a woman bent on fleeing the strictures of Victorian society; and of his very own wife, who may have become a pawn in a 4th-dimensional plot to murder the authors of Dracula, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, in order to alter their identities and steal their fictional creations.

But, what happens if we change history? FÉlix J. Palma raises such questions in The Map of Time. Mingling fictional characters with real ones, Palma weaves a historical fantasy as imaginative as it is exciting, a story full of love and adventure that also pays homage to the roots of science fiction while transporting its readers to a fascinating Victorian London for their own taste of time travel.

:) I always look forward to reading everyone's teasers! ~ Wendi

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up and use to buy more books! :)




Saturday, July 16, 2011

Movie Review: Rango - Think Twice About Watching This One With Kids

Rango (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)I honestly WANTED to like this movie. After all, it stars Johnny Depp as the cute and funny (or so I thought... but not so funny or cute) lizard who ends up as Sheriff of Dirt. We thought it would be a great family cartoon to watch with the kiddos, but boy were we wrong! It is dark, unkind, boring, and cruel.

Within the first few minutes, you meet a strange almost road-killed armadillo, see his insides with tire treads on them, and eventually see other mutilated animals, really, you thought it would be funny to hang the musical owls from a beam by their necks?  Between that and the horribly gross looking characters, it was just too much.

 In the hopes that the movie would get better, we did stick it out until the end.  Sadly to day, it didn't really get any better.  The end was ok, but I certainly wouldn't sit through the whole thing just to get to the mediocre end.

My husband said, "I know I've seen worse movies... I just can't think of any right now."

My advice: skip this one, especially if you have kids.  You'll end up dealing with nightmares.




Rango (Two Disc Blu-Ray DVD Combo)
starring: Johnny Depp, Timothy Olyphant, Abigail Breslin, Isla Fisher

Paramount Pictures (July 15, 2011) ~ 107 minutes
Kids/Family

Edition Reviewed: Blu-Ray DVD that the hubby picked up


About the Movie Rango:

Get ready to tango with RANGO, a winner with critics and audiences that’s “like nothing you’ve ever seen before” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone). Johnny Depp is spectacular as Rango, a kooky pet chameleon who gets tossed into a wild and raucous town in desperate need of a hero. Refreshingly original with eye-popping animation, RANGO is “loads of fun and genuinely funny” (Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times). And now you can get more RANGO in the Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack with Digital Copy featuring the never-before-seen ending, 10 deleted scenes and exclusive interactive Blu-ray features including picture-in-picture storyboards and an interactive field trip to Dirt, and so much more.

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Movie Review: Hall Pass - Full of Comedy and Adventure Served With A Side of Blushing

Hall PassLOL - Had a blast watching this with my husband, sister-in-law, and my niece tonight... and thank goodness, one of the boys acted up and my niece took him outside just in the nick of time... for her to miss a very clear view of some very male parts in the nude. Although I do think it would have been funny to see what my sister-in-law would have done if my niece had still been in the room. I think it would have made an already entertaining movie even better. ;)

The movie is funny, quirky, and I will admit there were a few moments that were very tender. There was also a LOT of sexual innuendos, references, and scenes that were funny for adults, but probably wouldn't be so funny for the younger crowd.  I also don't think this is a movie I'd watch with my parents, hubby's parents, etc.

The premise was cute and kept me guessing as to what would come next.  In short, two wives decide (separately) to give their husbands a "hall pass" which is basically a week to live and behave as if they aren't married, with no strings attached.  The hope is that they will come back to marriage happier and seeing what they've got as a treasure instead of the same old thing.

Each member of the two couples ends up meeting "someone" and it is interesting to see what happens with the different relationships.  Overall, it was funny and ended really well.  It is certainly worth watching the movie through the credits as there are a few more scenes.

This movie is probably a "must see" for fans of The Hangover, There's Something About Mary and similar movies. 

Side note - I really could have done without the full-on penises, and the poop scenes, so if you are easily embarrassed or offended, be aware so you can look away.



Hall Pass
starring:
Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate, Alyssa Milano
Warner Bros. Pictures (June 14, 2011) ~ Rated R, 105 minutes
Comedy / Romance

Edition Reviewed: Rental from Redbox


About Hall Pass:

A married man is granted the opportunity to have an affair by his wife. Joined in the fun by his best pal, things get a little out of control when both wives start engaging in extramarital activities as well.

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)
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