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Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Aurora Yoga Sport Bag - Light Weight, Helpful, Useful and Easy To Use (Review)

When going to and from Yoga classes, if you aren't well organized, you can arrive more flustered than when you left your home. That is where the Aurorae Yoga Sport Bag can help - it has two large compartments for Yoga accessories (blocks, straps, wash, etc), snacks, books, just about anything you need to bring with you.  It also has a secure area to hold your Yoga Mat, and another area to hold a water bottle.  There is a headphone access area so you can listen to music while keeping your player safely tucked away, there is a small secure zippered pocket in the front for small items, and there is a cell phone pocket on the shoulder strap.

This is a great backpack to have to make carrying my Yoga Mat easy, but as a busy Mom, I wanted to see what other things I could use the bag for... so far, I've come up with: carrying a beach towel, carrying an umbrella (nice here in Seattle!  I tested it today, and it was GREAT to be able to use my umbrella, then store it OUTSIDE the bag so the rest of my things didn't get wet while it was drying - perfect!!!  Yes... it is raining here in Seattle on August 29th!), carrying extra water bottles, taking geocaching (those extra pockets are good to keep geocaching supplies separate), a ball and bat to take to the park, and so much more!  I thought about trying to use it to carry some fishing poles, but honestly, I'm not great at securing the hooks and I'm more worried about hooking myself.  Someone who is better at securing the hooks would have a great way to carry them!

If you are looking for a versatile new backpack that will help you stay organized and keep everything in one place, this is a very good one.  It is light-weight, has great storage, and comes in a nice color that goes with just about everything.    This is a sling style backpack, so the shoulder strap goes over your right shoulder, and goes across your body - I love this as it is comfortable and helps distribute the weight of the things in the pack.

This weekend this backpack is going to be a craft go-to center for the family - what would you use this backpack for?

Aurorae Yoga Sport Bag  
by Aurorae Yoga

Buy on Amazon
Find Aurorae Yoga: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+
Backpack / Sports Use

Edition Reviewed: Dark Blue Aurorae Yoga  - I received my Aurorae Yoga Sport Bag as part of an Outburst Media campaign, many thanks to both for this fun review opportunity!

About the Aurorae Yoga Sport Bag: (from Amazon)
2nd Edition Blue Model made with Durable, Heavy-Duty Polyester. 2 Main Large Individualized Compartments measuring 19" H x 12" W x 7" D.  Specialized Mat-Locker System securely holds all Aurorae Yoga Mats effectively. Wide, Easy Adjustable, Double Reinforced, shoulder strap with Lock Buckle and Built-in cell phone pocket, fits over your Right shoulder.  Small front zippered pocket measuring 5.5" H x 6.5" W Securely holds Your Valuables

About Aurorae:
Aurorae Yoga has a really nice line of Yoga products, including Yoga Mats, a Yoga Mat-Towel combination, Denim Yoga Bags, Aurorae Yoga Sport Bag, Yoga Slip Free Rosin Bag, Micro Fiber Yoga Towel, Aromatherapy Mist, Soy Wax Pledge Candle, Yoga Strap, Mat Wash Spray, and various packages. They also have a line of Yoga apparel.

*Disclosure: I received a sample for review purposes for a campaign with Outburst Media. All opinions are 100%  mine.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beating the Lunch Box Blues: Fresh Ideas For Lunches on the Go by J. M. Hirsch

I've spent part of the summer trying to figure out WHAT I'm going to send with my son to 1st grade this year!  Not only does this book have great suggestions, but J. M. Hirsch has provided some great tips as well.

First off - make sure everything is dishwasher safe - I try to do that anyway, but for a different reason.  The author points out that if it isn't dishwasher safe, quality and durability may be in question, which makes me think that it may not be food safe, and who wants to send their kid to school with a lunch sitting for 1/2 the day in a non-food safe container?  Not me!  So point taken - all shall be dishwasher safe in our house.

Next, the author has some more great points about lunch box gear.  Then we get to the meat of the book - with over 162 lunches, and 30 dinners (because he points out that dinner left overs are great for lunches too).

There is a cute section on "Cheats" including some of the really easy things to pack like popcorn, rotisserie chicken, alternatives to peanut butter, fun mixes and cereals, and so much more.

Next we go to "Feeling Fowl" which includes great dinner and lunch ideas and how to use them multiple ways.  I will admit that as an adult, this section looks great - but I don't see my 6 year old eating many of the meals shared here - he is PICKY, and these dishes are savory and fun.

Feeling Fowl is followed by Fast and Easy (which is great for our family), Catch of the Day, Breakfast for Lunch, Sandwiches and Things Bready, Linked: Sausages, Little Bites, Use Your Noodle, Salads, Beefy, Vegetarian, and Soups and Such.

Honestly, I don't know who's lunch is going to be more fun - the more adult, or the more kid... another plus with the book is the plentiful pictures.  I gleaned so many fun ideas on how to pack and what to pack for lunch, that it should be fun to pack AND eat lunches for quite a while, as well as adding some new variety to some of our dinners.

One of the lunches I can't wait to try are Cucumber Sandwiches - I LOVE cucumbers, and the sandwich is so cute!  There are so many fun fingery foods in this book - I'm actually going to find ways to work some of them into get-togethers with friends (football Sundays are coming up quickly).  These recipes and ideas can be used for so much more than lunch box meals, but one thing they all have in common is the ease of using them for that.  So have fun with this book and give a whole new life to your lunch.

In short, this is a GREAT book for re-inventing your boring lunch.  If you have an adventurous eater (kids), you will have fun and will be limitless on possibilities for fun lunches, while if you have children like mine who are more on the picky side, this is still a great source for ideas and suggestions, but you may enjoy it more for yourself.

*The book includes a forward by Rachael Ray

Beating the lunch Box Blues: Fresh Ideas For Lunches on the Go
by J. M. Hirsch

Publisher: Atria (September 3, 2013)  ~ 208 pages
Non-Fiction / Cooking / Quick and Easy

Edition Reviewed: eGalley / eBook - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review!

About the Book (from the publisher):
Nobody wants a lunch cookbook. Especially not a lunch box cookbook. Because in the morning rush most of us aren't going to break out a recipe to bang out a brown bag special.

What busy people need are ideas. And lots of them. If they’re healthy, fun, easy and fall on the hipper end of the foodie spectrum, even better. That’s what Beating the Lunch Box Blues is – an idea book to inspire anyone daunted by the daily ordeal of packing lunch.

This is an un-cookbook, a collection of 180 delicious ideas for thinking outside the (lunch) box. The format is user friendly -- photos with tips and ideas, not recipes. Because you don’t need a recipe to know that a grilled cheese with manchego and fig jam with a side of fruit salad splashed with balsamic is a delicious lunch. Or that kids and adults will go nuts for a DIY taco kit made from leftover chicken or steak, whole-wheat tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream and veggies.

The result is a cookbook-meets-flipbook approach to thinking about lunch, allowing parents and kids to page through fresh, healthy ideas for awesome meals.

Hirsch also slipped in 34 recipes for fast and flavorful dinners. Because great lunches often are built from the leftovers of killer suppers.

*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. :)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Door-to-Door Steaks from Steak House Brand - Temptation Won Out - BIGGEST Mistake EVER! (Learn From My Mistake!)

Ok - for the past few years, we've had a truck come through selling frozen steak combos... and I've always been tempted by the deal and the fact that I'd have a great selection of steaks in the freezer to thaw and cook/grill any time.

So when they gave me a great deal, temptation won out!  I'm talking a GREAT deal, and the frozen steaks looked pretty darn good - small, but good.

Boy am I disappointed that temptation won.  This was one of my biggest mistakes EVER!  I don't consider myself a steak snob, but we bbq steak, chicken, fish, etc quite often (almost every night).  I LOVE my local Safeway Rancher's Reserve steaks (only had 2 that we've ever not liked - in YEARS).  So the first time I thawed these steaks, I thought, ok - a bad batch, so I tried a different steak from the package I bought... same thing.  Yuck!

OK - here are some of the packages (beef, I didn't copy the chicken, pork or seafood):

I bought the "USDA Choice PREMIUM" package, and there was nothing Choice or Premium about it.  The steaks were watery (gel-like), and flavorless, and the texture was... indescribable.  My husband ate one bite and told me to toss it in the garbage - we don't throw steaks into the garbage... Same thing happened the second time I cooked the steaks - so I gave up.

I tried the 1/2 lb. Steak Burgers, thinking to myself "it's REALLY hard to mess up a burger - right?"  Well, I was wrong again!  Seriously, the burgers made it to the grill, where they promptly lost about 1/2 their size... when we went to eat them, they were mushy and tasted like cardboard.

So, I gave up.  Tossed them ALL and will NEVER again try these steaks from www.meatydelivery.com - WORST MISTAKE EVER!!!!

The only small glimmer on the horizon is that I didn't pay even 1/2 what the "Six Pack Special" price shows.  
Please learn from my mistake and avoid at all costs!

I honestly don't know where they got all the good reviews showing on the site - these were the worst pieces of "beef" I've ever experienced!

*Disclosure: Nothing to disclose here other than my utter disappointment in myself for this one.  I bought them myself.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

BookBub: Your Source For eBook Deals

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of BookBub for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

BookBub is a great, FREE service for book lovers.  They send you customized daily emails based on genres you like.  (You let BookBub know what you like when you sign up.)  

In short, BookBub gives you notice about Free and Discounted eBooks, and makes it easy for you to get them.

Sign up is FAST - I don't know if I've ever signed up for anything this quickly and easily.  There was a place to put my email, and on the next screen, BookBub asked me about the genres I like, and my preferred reading devices (Kindle, Nook, Kobe, Apple's iBookstore, and so many more).  It then showed me the current free and sale books I might be interested in.  

BookBub is not an eBook seller, they simply show you great deals, and show you where you can get them.  

The first page of recommended deals for me had 7 free books, and 3 that were under $2.99.  I immediately downloaded one, and I'm about to check the others out.  I'll be off to expolore more ebooks shortly, and I look forward to checking out the great daily deals.

Here are a few of the great deals I found within the first few minutes of signing up for my BookBub account:

The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in her Back Pocket by Katie Workman (this stands at 4.5 stars on Amazon, and is currently $2.99 or less, which is 79% off the normal eBook price of $13.95)

Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year by Esme Raji Codell (this book is sitting at 4 stars on Amazon, and is currently $1.99, which is 89% less than the normal eBook price of $13.95)

Go check out BookBub and let me know about the great deals you find on eBooks!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Best of Amish Friends Cookbook Collection by Wanda E. Brunstetter

When I was in my teens, my family went on an extended East Coast tour/vacation that included a few visits to some Amish communities. I LOVED seeing and learning a little about their way of life.  And ever since then, I've enjoyed reading the occasional Amish themed book, and cooked any of the included recipes.

I had a lot of fun cooking White Christmas Pie, included in one of Wanda E. Brunstetter's fiction books for a Christmas themed book club a few years ago.

When I got a chance to read through The Best of Amish Friends Cookbook Collection by Wanda E. Brunstetter, I found some new favorite go-to recipes.  I call them go-to because they utilize a lot of the ingredients I already have on hand.

Throughout the book are little bits on Amish life that I found fascinating.  Wanda talks about the Amish Faith, Amish Across America, Lancaster County Pennsylvania, Amish Church, Mifflin County Pennsylvania, Amish Schools, Holmes County Ohio, Amish Weddings, Elkhart and LaGrange Counties Indiana, Amish and Mennonite Quilts, Webster County Missouri, Amish Homes, Christian County Kentucky, Amish and Mennonite Transportation, Lincoln County Montana, Amish Communication, Sarasota County Florida, Amish Occupations, Lawrence County Tennessee, and Amish and Mennonite Clothes.

This recipe collection is broken down into: Breakfast Foods, Snacks, Breads and Rolls, Jams and Jellies, Pickles and Relish, Sides and Salads, Main Dishes, Desserts, Beverages, and Miscellaneous.

Who knew you could make Grape Nuts from scratch, and that it was easy?  There is a great recipe in here for them (ever tried adding them to yogurt - its GREAT).  Anyone want to try making your own Soda Crackers? Sure sounds easy and fun.  Some other great recipes include homemade Pretzels, Maple Twist Rolls, Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread, Baked Apple Butter, Yogurt Ranch Dressing, Hearty Chicken 'n Rice Soup, Split Pea Soup (This is now my favorite recipe - it is similar to the one I've always used, but I liked it slightly better), Chicken Pie, Chicken Patties (think crab patties, only made with chicken and matching flavors), Moist and Tender Chocolate Cake, Coconut Pecan Frosting, Maple Nut Angel Food Cake, Peppermint Patties, Quick Root Beer, Red Ribbon Punch, Laundry Soap (for the house LOL), Stainless Steel Cleaner, Homemade Play Dough, and SO MUCH MORE!  In all around 209 recipes.

A fun note: all the recipes have the Amish contributor's name and where they are from.  I do wish there was a blurb on who they are and what they do, but that may not be allowed within their community/faith.  There are a lot of full-color photos throughout the book, but not every recipe has a picture of its own.

The Best of Amish Friends Cookbook Collection 
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (July 1, 2013)  ~ 224 pages
Non-Fiction / Cooking

Edition Reviewed: eBook - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me an eBook copy to review!

About the Book: from the publisher
From Barbour’s bestselling author of fiction, Wanda E. Brunstetter, comes The Best of Amish Friends Cookbook Collection. This brand-new title is a treasure trove of recipes and interesting facts from the heart of Amish country and includes recipes divided into sections such as breads and rolls, desserts, main dishes, sides, jams and jellies—and more! You’ll find only the best of home cooking between the pages of this delightful book, and as an added bonus, you’ll find featured facts about Amish life. Topped off by one beautifully designed package, cooks of all ages will have a hard time passing this one up!
About the Author: (from the publisher's site)
New York Times bestselling author, Wanda E. Brunstetter became fascinated with the Amish way of life when she first visited her husband's Mennonite relatives living in Pennsylvania. Wanda and her husband, Richard, live in Washington State but take every opportunity to visit Amish settlements throughout the States, where they have many Amish friends.

*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. :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Knitted Teddy Bear by Sandra Polley

I've always loved teddy bears, and even crocheted about 45 with my Mom while on bedrest awaiting the arrival of our first baby - they made really cute baby announcements... so when I saw this book, I fell in love.  Not only are the bears in this book cute, but the instructions are all written in a clear and helpful way, so it is fun to make one-of-a-kind creations that will be cherished.

Author Sandra Polley has done a GREAT job of keeping things simple and easy to understand.  She explains everything in detail with illustrations and pictures to help out.  She also uses straight-forward stitches and has the instructions for each one in the front of the book.  She also talks about where to get supplies, how to change the face to make it younger, older, smile, etc, and she has great tips on stuffing and even mentions that you can buy a pillow and use the stuffing from that (you can often find a sale on pillows and fiber filled quilts, and they may be less expensive than the same filling purchased from a craft/fabric store).

Another fun thing I noticed is that the author even gives tips on making the bears with movable joints.

The bears in this book are all different sizes, so readers/crafters can pick their favorite and go from there.  Honestly, I think a newer knitter would do just fine following the instructions, so if this sounds fun - don't be afraid to jump in!  (after doing one or two, you can probably figure out how to change the pattern up a bit to make them skinnier or plumper as well)

For those knitters who like to work from charts - I didn't see any in the advance copy - only written instructions, which I actually prefer.  The illustrations showing how to assemble the bears and clothing are great, and the author includes many handy tips.

This is going to be a great book for any knitter, any fan of teddy bears, or anyone wanting to make a keepsake toy for a friend or loved one.

The Knitted Teddy Bear: Make Your Own Heirloom Toys, With Dozens of Patterns For Unique Clothes  
by Sandra Polley
Publisher: Anova Books - Collins & Brown Imprint  ~ 96 pages
Available now
Non-Fiction / Crafts - Knitting

Edition Reviewed: eBook - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me an e-copy to review!

About the Book (from the publisher):
-Patterns for bears and accessories for teddy bear devotees

-More than 12 different teddy bear patterns from the classic hump-backed, long-armed collector’s bear to a miniature baby bear

-Each bear is shown knitted up with easy-to-follow instructions and clear diagrams

Knitting small toys is an absorbing and addictive hobby and homemade teddies have a special charm all of their own. The Knitted Teddy Bear has patterns to knit more than twelve gorgeous teddy bears, ranging in style and size. You will find traditional-style heirloom bears for serious teddy affictionados; for children there are bears with their own wardrobe of clothes; and there are tiny teds for the miniature bear enthusiasts

The instructions are easy to follow and there are clear diagrams showing how to sew up, thread-joint, and create the perfect gift or heirloom. You can build on the patterns given to create many other variations, including ‘old’ bears that have been loved and left in the attic, character teddies and mascots. The Knitted Teddy Bear is perfect for teddy bear lovers and keen knitters of all skill-levels from the experienced to relative beginners.

About the Author: (from the publisher's site)
Sandra Polley has had many years experience with crafts, especially knitting and soft toy-making. She has a particular interest in making and collecting miniature teddy bears. She started to design her traditionally styled knitted bears about 2 years ago and now runs a successful small business selling her knitting patterns and kits worldwide. Her teddy bear patterns have recently been featured in the UK’s Woman’s Weekly magazine.

*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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