Thursday, March 29, 2018

150 Best Donut Recipes by George Geary

15 Best Donut Recipes
George Geary
Publisher: Robert Rose
ISBN: 9780778804116

Donuts, they make everything better. Need something in the morning, have a donut. Need a snack, have a donut. When I was given the opportunity to review the book 150 Best Donut Recipes, I knew I had no choice but to do it! My guys all love their donuts. Making 150 different varieties at home would keep them coming back for more.

Having never made donuts at home, I didn't realize that for half of the recipes I'd need a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Needless to say, it's on my "want" list now! I started out with my favorite flavor lemon, and thankfully the 150 Best Donut Recipes had one. The Lemon Crème Donuts is a baked donut and makes about a dozen. I loved how easy this recipe was. Honestly, baking all of these donuts reminded me how much I love baking.

My second donut was a the Blueberry Donuts recipe. Knowing that my youngest loves all things blueberries, I had to try it out. One of the elements I like about these recipes is the fresh fruit ingredients. The issue I had with this one, which my "little" guy was quick to point out was I didn't get blueberries evenly into the donuts. The other item I need to get my hands on is a pastry bag & tip set. Anyhow, you'll find the recipe for the Blueberry Donuts at the end.

The last donuts I baked was the Chocolate Donuts. You can't say "no" to chocolate. These turned out ok. They were really dense and the chocolate was a bit much, but I think it may have been how I made them. The only way to find out is to bake them again. lol I'm not beyond trying a chocolate recipe out more than once.

When I got out to my mom's next I'm trying the raised donuts because my mom has a stand mixer with a paddle! I just have to remember to take my cookbook with me.

Blueberry Donuts

Preheat oven to 325º F (160º C)
Two 6-well donut pans, sprayed with nonstick spray
Makes about 12 donuts

2 1/2 cups cake flower
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking poder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup whole milk
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  1.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set Aside.
  2. In another bold, whisk together eggs, milk, butter and villain and almond extracts. Add to flour mixture and mix with a rubber spatula just until incorporated. Fold in blueberries.
  3. Spoon batter into resealable freezer bag or pastry bag and fill each prepared well two-thirds full.
  4. Bake in preheated over until donut springs back when lightly touched, 10 to 14 minutes.
  5. Let donuts cool in pans on a rack for 5 minutes. Turn out of pans onto rack and let cool completely prior to icing.

Happy baking!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Aromatherapy With Essential Oil Diffusers

Aromatherapy With Essential Oil Diffusers
by Karin Parramore
Publisher: Robert Rose
ISBN: 978-0-7788-0588-5

I'm excited to be partnering with a new publisher based in Canada! I chose two books to review: 1 for me and 1 for the guys. Today will be the book I was excited about, Aromatherapy With Essential Oil Diffusers. It will benefit my whole family, but the guys were more interested in the 150 Best Donut Recipes. That will be coming soon.


Diffusing essential oils can improve your health and well-being.
Aromatherapy and essential oils are more popular than ever, as more and more people discover that concentrated aromatics can be used in a therapeutic way, to address imbalances in our bodies that can lead to poor health.
In this perfect companion book to your favorite diffuser, Karin teaches you how to diffuse essential oils, from ammi to ylang ylang, to improve your physical, mental and emotional health and to destress your time, your work space and even your car.
Part 1 covers the history of aromatherapy, explains the different types of diffusers and teaches you how to choose, use and store essential oils.
Part 2 provides detailed instructions on diffusing essential oils to treat various health conditions and offers over 160 formulas for specialized oil blends.

My Review:

About a year ago I purchased my first essential oils kit and diffuser. I'd heard so much about the benefits of essential oils, I figured I'd make the investment. My only issue? I had no clue what I was doing or how to use the oils. So, I used them a few times and that was pretty much it. Fast forward to this month and I've learned a lot from this book!

The author starts by talking about the history of essential oils. She talks about scent memories in Saudi Arabia, and having lived there for 2 summers, I could relate to visiting the souk and the "heady scent". I think my first scent memory is going to Catholic church with my mom and the altar boys carrying the thurible filled with incense. Wow, that was overpowering too!

Also, did you know there were so many different types of diffusers or ways to diffuse essential oils? I clearly didn't. Let me just say, there's a lot to learn. A lot of beneficial ways to incorporate them into your life. As expected, how essential oils are created is pretty fascinating. I like that I can now read a bottle and understand how it was created. I also love the large section detailing a variety of essential oils used in the book.

Now, let's get into the practical side of diving into using these products. First of all, it's quite an investment. Initially purchasing the oils you may want to opt for a kit or else build up your supply little by little. Keep in mind that the prices of different oils can vary greatly. You may end up with some sticker shock. Also think of how you want to do most of your diffusing. I think the one I have is an ultrasonic diffuser. I need to try one of the passive ways for my car.

It was kid of funny going through all of the blends. Typically I had at least 2 of the eo's and always needed that third one. I've entered that fun stage of pre-menopause, and have had a delightful time with night sweats. I'll need to get some bay laurel to try this blend out. One I'd like to try for my son is for his acne. For that one I need eucalyptus citriodora. Of course as soon as I started writing this review one of my sons and my hubby had cold symptoms. I really need to get stocked up for colds and allergies!

Now that I understand how to better use aromatherapy around our home, I plan on doing it more in different rooms. I've typically only used one in my bedroom. I'm also going to use my essential oils for cleaning around the house. I'd love to go chemical-less! I can't wait to put more of the blends in the book to use.

About the Author:

KARIN PARRAMORE, LAc, CH, is the owner/formulator of Luminous Presence facial treatments and skin care products. She teaches at both the National University of Natural Medicine and Ashford University in the Bachelor's of Complementary and Alternative Health program.
Karin obtained Chartered Herbalist status from Dominion Herbal College in 2001 and has a degree in Chinese Medicine from the National University of Natural Medicine. She has been a practicing aromatherapist since 2002. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Drawn Together By Minh Lê

Drawn Together
by Minh Lê
Illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
ISBN: 9781484767603

I love having a partnership with Disney Publishing! They've got such a wonderful selection of books that appeal to all families. Children of all ages will love reading this book when it comes out in June. I was able to receive an advance copy to check it out before it's actually released.


heartwarming story of a grandfather and his grandson as they learn to overcome their language barrier through a shared love of art and storytelling. When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens—with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.

My Review:

Sometimes grandparents and grandchildren have a hard time relating to each other. Imagine not even speaking the same language as your grandparent. A young boy spends time with his grandpa. Neither of them speak the same language. Frustrating to say that least for each of them.

It turns out they have something in common that goes beyond words. The grandson draws with color and grandpa pulls out his inkwell and a pen. They come together to tell a story that incorporates both of them. Just when they think they're being drawn together that great divide begins to show up, but this time they each have a new perspective which can bring them close together again.

The artwork is incredible! I love how the story is told through art. The vivid colors and the contrast of the black & white work wonderfully together to tell the different views and life experiences of the grandson and grandpa. There are a few words, but that's to guide the reader to know what's happening in the grandson's mind. I think multicultural families would be able to relate to this if they have family members who don't speak the same languages as the younger generation.

About the Author:

With spare, direct text by Minh  and luminous illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat, this stirring picturebook about reaching across barriers will be cherished for years to come.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Disney•Pixar’s “COCO”

I was so busy at the end of last year, I wasn't able to see Coco while it was in theaters. I kept hearing about how great it was and couldn't wait for it to come out on DVD. When I had the opportunity to review it for my blog, I jumped at the chance. I actually got to watch it on my own the first time because I brought it with me to Minnesota at the beginning of the month.

This was such an incredibly cute movie! I mean, I'm pretty sure Disney•Pixar has cornered the market on the cutest animated movies! I was surprised (but really shouldn't have been) at how touching the movie was.

If you're one of the few people who have yet to see it, check it out.

Miguel's family has banned all music. He loves music. More specifically, he plays the guitar, which is an absolutely no-no. His grandma catches Miguel with a guitar right before a competition and breaks it. Sadly, Miguel doesn't quite understand why everyone is against the music. After he finds a guitar that's "special" he ends up in the Land of the Dead along with his crazy dog, Dante.

They set off on an adventure to find singer & guitar player Ernesto de la Cruz, and end up partnering with Hector who is in a race of his own to be remembered by his family so he doesn't disappear from that world altogether.

I think director, Lee Unkrich has cornered the market on putting sentimental pieces into his movies (remember sobbing during Toy Story 3?)! When Miguel spends time with his great-great-grandma Mamá Imelda I couldn't help but welling up with tears. Sakes alive he knows how to pull on the heartstrings. Maybe it's because of everything going on with my family that it made such a deep impact on my heart. Our ancestors are so important to our family history. Altogether I think this was a fun family movie, good for the littles and the bigs!



Blu-ray & Digital:

  • Deleted Scenes with Introductions - Director Lee Unkrich and co-director Adrian Molina talk about the deleted scenes and the part they played in the development of “Coco.”
    • Día de los Muertos - In this musical extravaganza, the colors and excitement of Día de los Muertos come to life as we meet superstar Ernesto de la Cruz.
    • The Way of the Riveras - A musical number in which Abuelita and Miguel prepare their Día de los Muertos celebration while she teaches him Rivera family history and traditions.
    • Celebrity Tour - Héctor, a Land of the Dead tour bus guide, agrees to help Miguel, revealed to be a living boy, on his quest to find de la Cruz.
    • The Bus Escape - The Rivera family catches up to Miguel and Héctor and attempts to halt their mission to find de la Cruz.
    • Alebrije Attack - Miguel and Héctor are interrupted on their journey to find de la Cruz by a fierce alebrije.
    • The Family Fix - After de la Cruz reveals his true colors, the Rivera family puts their dismay aside and comes together to repair the smashed guitar needed to send Miguel home.
    • To the Bridge - As the Land of the Dead counts down to the end of Día de los Muertos, Miguel and de la Cruz come head-to-head on the marigold bridge.
  • Filmmaker Commentary – Presented by Lee Unkrich (director), Adrian Molina (co-director) and Darla K. Anderson (producer).
  • The Music of “Coco” - Collaborating with musicians of Mexico and some unique instrumentation, this documentary explores the beautiful fusion of music essential to the story of “Coco.”
  • Paths to Pixar: “Coco” - Explore how the film crew’s personal stories resonate with the themes of the movie itself.
  • Welcome to the Fiesta - A musical exploration of the skeletons that make the Land of the Dead in “Coco” so wondrous and intriguing.
  • How to Draw a Skeleton - Pixar artist Daniel Arriaga gives a lesson on the quick and easy way to draw skeletons using simple shapes.
  • A Thousand Pictures a Day - Join the “Coco” crew on an immersive travelogue through Mexico, visiting families, artisans, cemeteries, and small villages during the Día de los Muertos holiday.
  • Mi Familia - Developing the Riveras was a labor of love that took the cast and crew on a deep dive into the meaning of family.
  • Land of Our Ancestors – Watch Pixar artists lovingly construct layer upon layer of architecture from many eras of Mexican history, bringing the Land of the Dead to life.
  • Fashion Through the Ages – The cast of characters in “Coco” are from many different eras, making for some magnificent costuming opportunities.
  • The Real Guitar – The majestic guitar that spurs Miguel on his journey through the Land of the Dead is a unique creation. Watch as it is initially designed by a Pixar artist and ultimately realized as a real instrument by a master luthier in this poetic ode to craftsmanship.
  • Dante - How the crew fell in love with the uniquely Mexican breed of Xoloitzcuintli (or “Xolo”) dogs that inspired Dante.
  • How to Make Papel Picado - Join Pixar artist Ana Ramírez González as we learn how papel picado is made traditionally, and then try your own approach to this beautiful art form.
  • Un Poco “Coco” - A montage of original animated pieces used to promote “Coco.”
  • “Coco Trailers” - Trailers include “Feeling,” “Dante’s Lunch,” “Destiny,” “Journey” and “Belong.”
  • Filmmaker Commentary 
  • Dante

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Song Unheard By Roseanna M. White

A Song Unheard
by Roseanna M. White
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764219276

You know when you begin a series and can't wait for the next book to come out? As soon as I saw A Song Unheard was available for review from Bethany House, I requested it as quick as you can click a link! Thankfully I was chosen to do a review


If Betraying Her Heart Means Saving Countless Lives, Will She Find the Courage?
Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a critical task at the outset of World War I--to secure a crucial cypher key from a famous violinist currently in Wales. 

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he's won--until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father's work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only distraction he finds from his worry is in meeting the intriguing and talented Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn't--that she must betray him and find that key, or her own family could pay the same price his surely has.

My review:

I know some people loved this book. Well, I didn't. I LOVED - LOVED - LOVED this book! When I started reading A Song Unheard, I was drawn back to the early 1900's and espionage again. Willa is approached by Mr. V just like her sister was in A Name Unknown. Somehow that Mr. V knows the right sibling for the next job he has in mind. Of course before I was even finished with the book I was wondering (and hoping) that Barclay would be next.

As I started into Willa's story, I became more invested in the characters than I thought. I really enjoyed Lukas' sister because she was wise beyond her years, but also incredibly smart. I didn't know anything about Germany invading Belgium, so it was sad to envision what they were all going through at the time and how dangerous it was.

The intrigue of Willa having to learn about a cypher key, and how others wanted her to get it for the Germans, had me sitting on the edge of my seat. Mr. V might've been fine in book 1, but maybe he wasn't one of the good guys after all. Maybe he was a double agent. I think you almost have to question everyone when it comes to spying!

A Song Unheard had everything I look for in a novel. The pace was really good (I wanted to finish it and not finish it at the same time), the characters were so believable, and the storyline was a new one to me! I'm looking forward to book 3, and honestly, it can't get here quick enough.

About the Author:

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award-nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she's homeschooling her two kids, designing book covers, editing, and pretending her house will clean itself....
Continue reading about Roseanna M. White

Friday, March 9, 2018

My Aunt's Brain Bleed

I haven't been around much. Not much blogging going on around here. Sorry about that. Blogging to a back seat to life. Let me explain.

A bit of history... My biological father has 5 sisters. All of them have "B" names. Barb, Betty, Bonnie, Becky, and Bethany. When the girls and I moved to Minnesota back in 1998 we lived with her for several months and then spent many holidays together. She was probably my closest extended relative because I'd never gotten to know any others growing up.

On New Year's Day, I spoke to my aunt on the phone. She told me she was in the hospital because she was dehydrated. I check in with her by phone a couple of days later, but she didn't answer. I called again the next day, and still no answer. I headed to facebook to see who I could reach out to because I had NO numbers to call or people to ask who knew her.

I finally got hold of my aunt's best friend from college who has remained her best friend. She told me my aunt had been medi-vaced from Wisconsin to Minnesota and she was in the hospital. None of us will ever really know what happened, but some point between the night she was released to the next morning, she probably fell, hit her head, and ended up with a brain bleed - a type of stroke. It's been mentioned that maybe something with her pacemaker might've been the start of it all.

So, she was in the hospital for a week or so then released to a rehab so she could start to recover. I think within a week she was back in the hospital, possibly because of an infection. Again, we're not really sure. She was released to a different rehab which is where she's at currently.

This has been an incredibly hard time for the family. She's the first aunt who has had major health issues. She has never been married or had children. That part has been difficult as well because when her point of contact (POC) lives in another state and isn't able to communicate well or often, other family isn't helping, and the person who's in charge of her finances having stuff going on, it leaves other people taking care of things they "shouldn't" be. My daughter, my aunt's great niece, took on a lot more than she should've.

After my aunt was released to the 2nd rehab, I went out to Minnesota. I had wanted to go out in January and the beginning of February, but was counseled to wait. When I got out there, I really didn't want to leave her. I feel a responsibility to her that I didn't expect. I visited her every day and I have now become the POC, and I'm thankful for that role. In a month she'll be moving to assisted living. I'm not sure if I'll be going back out, but if she needs me to, I will.

This has been a HUGE wakeup call to me. I have life insurance and I have a will. I don't have long term care insurance, and I think it's vital that we get started on that or at least learning about it. My aunt has it so hopefully we'll figure out how that works for her.

What have I learned? You have SERIOUSLY got to think of who will be making decisions for you if you can't do it yourself. My aunt was 100% on board with me becoming her POC. It was never something we talked about before. My daughter asked me if I knew what her financial situation was. I had no clue. Why would I? How do you bring up with your aunt who you see every few months, "Hey, Aunt Becky, how are you doing the cash department? Got all of your affairs in order?" I don't know how you do it, but it needs to be done.

My aunt is physically able to get around, she can talk just fine, and she's working on her fine motor skills again, but she's got a long road ahead of her. She has a hard time writing. She won't make any important decisions for herself, but will make small ones. My aunt is one smart cookie. She couldn't remember if she was DNR. She refused to sign any papers before she knew for sure. She was presented with a form about paying a small fee to have a single room, but because finances were involved, she refused to sign. She would ask me first and I would find out the answer.

Things happen VERY quickly.  More quickly than you'd expect. She was in rehab for a week and a half before they were talking about her having to leave and go to assisted living. When we heard about it, we were told her therapies would be ending the next week. Well, they moved her to a different floor the NEXT day! She was still having her therapies done, but on a different floor. You've got to realize that you have to be available and ready for anything.

Something that has really impacted my aunt is anxiety. She gets confused very quickly and her anxiety skyrockets. What has helped us is when we learn of something new, I talk to her about what her options are, that the options she hopes for might not be possible, and what we'll do if the options don't pan out. For her, as long as she knows she's got people on her side who have her best interests in mind, she's "ok" with what might come next. We also try to encourage her and point out the positives every day!

Next week my daughter will be taking her to visit one of the assisted living homes that she's on a waitlist for. Oh, and speaking of assisted living, you would NOT believe how expensive those are. $3900/month and then on top of that, all of the specialized care a person might need.

This took a lot of wind out of my sails. I didn't want to do anything other than work, read a book, talk to my daughter about any updates, and sleep. I'm hoping to be coming out of that funk and will be back to blogging as much as I can.

I want to close by encouraging you to give serious consideration to how you're saving your money, who you want to be your POC (who will regularly update people and take care of needs), and who will be in charge of your money (to pay your bills and make sure they'll handle your money honestly). I know it's a cruddy topic, but please don't put it off!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Spring Fever Giveaway Event

I'm trying to wrap my brain around the fact that it's the beginning of March! Seems like it should only be the second week of January. Oh how the time flies. To celebrate our spring fever, please join us in our Spring Fever Giveaway Event!

Spring is almost here and what a better way to celebrate than with a giveaway! Andersons Angels, The More The Merrier, This Mamas Life and Woven by Words have teamed up to bring you a wonderful Spring Prize Package with a ARV: $367.95! I don't know about you but I would love to win this wonderful prize package.

Hosts & participating event bloggers of the Spring Fever Giveaway Event are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill prize obligations!

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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.