Monday, October 31, 2016

Sticky Toffee Beer Bread


A few weeks ago, my husband brought home a pack of interesting sounding beer - Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale.  We enjoy sampling interesting beers, and this one sounded promising.

Unfortunately, it lived up to its name and turned out to be cloyingly sweet, so that neither of us were able to finish our glass - I'm sure many people would find it delicious, but it wasn't to our taste.  So what to do with the leftover bottles?

Beer bread, of course!  This is just about the easiest way to get a tasty loaf of bread, perfect for snacking.

The type of beer you use subtly alters the taste, so that it can be herbal and citrusy or rich and nutty. Unsurprisingly, the Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale made a really delightful nutty bread with just a hint of sweetness - what made it undrinkable as a beer made it delicious as a bread ingredient, just perfect as a carrier for pumpkin butter or apple butter.

Here's the basic recipe for Beer Bread - use whatever kind of beer you like!

Beer Bread
(makes one loaf)

Preheat  to 375F.

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of sugar (or honey)
1 bottle of beer
1/2 cup melted butter

Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl (I just shake it through a large fine mesh strainer).  Add sugar or honey and beer, and mix to combine (don't overbeat, just make sure the flour and liquid are blended).

Turn the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Pour melted butter over the top.

Bake 50 minutes to an hour, or under crust is golden brown and loaf feels 'hollow' when tapped.

Let cool several minutes in loaf pan before removing.

Enjoy warm or cold with butter and honey, fruit butter, or peanut butter and jam!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Awesome Life Friday #85

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

Here's what some of us have been up to here:

We hope you'll check them out if you haven't already!  Don't forget to peek at the sidebar and check out what other giveaways we currently have going.

And now our favorite part - the FEATURES !  This week we are all about the pumpkins! If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!

Honey Maple Bourbon Glazed Carrots // Creative Cynchronicity

Old Fashioned Cheese Squares // Little House Living

Is It Time to Quit Your Job? // Happy Humble Home

Crochet Dishclothes & a New Page // Creating My Way to Success

68 Ways to Be Frugal // A Bountiful Love

S'Mores Pizza Squares // Shibley Smiles

If you are one of our FEATURED bloggers, this button is for you!

Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!

Are you all ready to party?  If you like, we'd love it you'd help spread the word by grabbing our button:

Here we go!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Party in Your PJs! #129

Welcome to Party in Your PJs!

Happy Tuesday!  Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on four different blogs each week.   In addition to Kim from The Cookie Puzzle, you'll also find Party in Your PJs every Tuesday evening at Grandma IdeasWood of Bell Trees and... here!

You'll also find the Awesome Life Friday link-up here at RCHReviews, every Thursday evening at 8pm ET so we hope to see you there as well.

Are you ready to party? I can't wait to see what you've brought to share!

Kim ~ The Cookie Puzzle | Facebook | Pinterest 
Nina ~ Grandma Ideas | Pinterest | Twitter
Lynda ~ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos | Facebook | Pinterest
Heather ~ Woods of Bell Trees | Facebook | Instagram

 Meet the Co-Hosts

Kim @ The Cookie Puzzle 

Kim is a small town girl who love simple things. Simple cookies, simple crafts and simple people. She is a wife, mother to one son and two adorable fur babies. Slightly addicted to reality TV and sitcoms, but she loves curling up with a good book or a good walk while listening to podcasts. You can find her at The Cookie Puzzle, where she shares her love for cookies and crafting. 

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

How is this: Nina is wildly in love with her grandchildren. She delights in doing activities with them that strengthen their relationship –- playing games, doing crafts, snuggling, reading stories to them, and cooking together. She enjoys reading, technology, and traveling. (Tahiti is her most favorite place on earth!)

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Lynda lives outside DC with her husband Michael and elderly beagle, Sadie. She and her daughter Jackie started RCHReviews as a way to spend time together in spite of living across country, and along the way they've added several friends as regular contributors. Between them all, they bring together many different perspectives and lifestyles with one common philosophy - try new things, have fun, and remember you are awesome!

 Heather @ Wood of Bell Trees

Heather is a wife of a peanut butter fanatic and mom of one silly human and one furry canine, wrangling life on 2nd shift and glitterizing everything as she goes!

The rules for the group board include:
1. Limit of one pin a day.
2. Just like the party anything goes, but clear wonderful pictures with great descriptions are most successful.
3. Please no Spam ( Spammers will be deleted without warning)
4.  If you pin to the Pinterest Board, please link to the Party in Your PJs Party also, the party runs from 7 pm Tuesdays-Midnight Saturday (Central Time)
5.  Finally have fun and share this group board  with blog friends and followers!  The more success the group board is the more success you will see from your pins.

Want to be added to the group board?  Follow our Party in Your PJs board and email Kim at

Features from Last Weeks Party!

 to see their features - we each pick our own!

All links are pinned to a Party can follow the board on Pinterest...feel free to follow the board, there is lots of inspiration to be found there.

Ok...let's party!

Rules -Link to post, not your home page
-Link to something YOU made, wrote or thought
-No Etsy or Business Pages
-Link Parties, Roundups and Giveaways welcome
- Don't Link and Run! Please visit other links, make friends, learn something new, leave a comment, we all love comments
-If you were featured, grab a"Featured" button, found below.
-Consider adding our Party button to your Party Page or Post.

Rickaroons - Dessert. Fuel.


Rickaroons are a very unique product that offers you a gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, organic, Paleo treat. But most important of all – they taste very good.

According to the website, Rickaroons orginated with a love story.
“I was just a kid when my dad, Rick, created the first version of Rickaroons. He made them to comfort and support the woman he loved and cared for during her battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Although I was young, I still realized that Rickaroons represented his love for a strong woman and a healthy lifestyle.”
Rickaroons are macaroons made with Coconut and Almond butter, which gives your body long lasting energy due to its slow-burning properties.

Rickaroons are currently sold in about 350 stores, as well as on Amazon Prime or directly through their website.

I asked Grant, Rick’s son and partner, what he wants our readers to know and understand when choosing Rickaroons:
“Rickaroons are a healthy energy snack first and a dessert second. The slow burning, organic, vegan, Paleo and gluten free ingredients were picked to be an easily digestible workout fuel but it happens to taste like a dessert. Our product has an identity crisis - some customers think of it as an energy bar; others use it on their 100 mile bike rides and during marathons. “
When I first read his response I was a little confused because up until this point I mainly just thought of it as a very healthy, nutrient filled dessert.  I was very interested in giving them a try.

To get the package was a little bit of a struggle – not Rickaroons' fault – but the mailman's. Somehow it ended up at a neighbors' house, and then at another neighbor until someone finally dropped it off at my front door. The package was undamaged and unopened (and the mailman got to listen to one of my “do you know how to identify and compare numbers?” speeches. Poor guy).

It arrived in a regular USPS Priority Mail box and on the inside I found 4 different flavored Rickaroons, a Business card and two fliers with product information. It was all neatly packed up and protected by bubble wrap.

Finally, it was time to just eat one and decide for myself.

I am big on desserts (I am an amateur baker, remember?) but not really a workout person. I mean, I run after my 2 and 6 year old most of my day,s but only I've only been to a gym once in my entire life.

When I opened the package I honestly expected something that looks more like the macaroons that you find in bakeries but it looked like an energy bar in a round shape.

The first one I tried was the ‘Megaroon’ – Chia seeds and Cacao Nibs.

While I enjoyed it very much, I need to mention that it tastes very “healthy.”

Definitely not bland or flavorless – the exact opposite to be precise, but it is not as sweet as ‘normal’ macaroons nor as crunchy.

They are a moist treat with a grainy texture.

What really stands out is the coconut and almond undernote that I found in each one of them. I am a big fan of both, so for me it’s a great snack, but if you’re not a fan of those flavors then this is probably not the best choice for you.

The next one I tried was the ‘Mint to Be’ – Mint Double Chocolate.

First of all, I am not a mint fan. Except for toothpaste, a good Mojito or Tea. I don't generally care for mint in baked goods.

I tasted it anyway. It was my Monday afternoon snack in the car on the way to pick up my son from school and I was positively surprised by the flavor. It was definitely full of mint but not in an overpowering way. I felt like the chocolate balanced it out very well.

I also felt like it gave me more energy and I was less hungry. Usually I reach for a little snack every time I pass my pantry but not that day. I just felt satisfied and full until it was time to eat dinner.

I had the ‘Mocha’ – Dark Chocolate Espresso, the day after that in the morning, together with some Crio Bru Brewed Cocoa.

It was such a wonderful combination and just complimented each other so well. I loved the rich chocolate flavor together with the mocha.

It also smelled heavenly like a coffee shop. The texture is the same as the others: moist and grainy but I felt like this one was a tad stickier – nothing that would affect it in a negative way.

It made for a rich and indulgent feeling snack.

The last Rickaroon I tried was the ‘Chocolate Blonde’ – Coconut Chocolate Chip. I saved it as a dessert together with a good glass of Cabernet Sauvignon after the kids went to bed. It was a delight and this one is definitely my favorite. Again, rich chocolate components mixed with delicious coconut; moist with a grainy texture.

It was a great treat at the end of the day.

In addition to the four flavors I tried, they also currently carry Rick-Or-Treat: a Pumpkin Spiced Chocolate Blonde that will be available until New Year's Eve.

All in all, I was very pleased with my first Rickaroons experience and if you like the flavors that I described, give it a try.  These are delicious treats that not only won't derail your health and fitness goals - they'll complement them.

You can even use them as ingredients in any of the several recipes they include online.

I was also pleasantly surprised by their pricing. Rickaroons are available on their site for $25 for a box of one dozen of the same flavor, as well as $26 for a Variety Box of of one dozen.  Finally, you can set up a monthly subscription, which comes with a significant discount per box.

If you have ever set foot into a health food store or browsed on the internet for organic, vegan, healthy, and nutritional snacks then you are probably familiar with what I am talking about when I say they are very fair priced.

I also believe that the appeal is in more than just a product. It is a smaller business that was built on a love story and not with profit in mind. You are supporting something with meaningful when you buy Rickaroons and you are taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle full of nutrition – and deliciousness.

As a side note, years ago I would’ve frowned at that the product is Vegan, because that kind of food was just not appealing to me and I did not like the flavors that came with vegan food, but vegan products have come a long way and Rickaroons is a prime example of how delicious they can be.

Give it a try and you will see what I am talking about!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Simple Halloween Decor


This summer, my husband and I sold our house and moved to a much smaller apartment that was more centrally located to public transportation and an interesting social life.  We're enjoying it a lot, but it is still an ongoing challenge to learn to live smaller and more simply, and we're still creating our 'look'.

But holidays come when they come, ready or not, and while I am not able to totally deck out the place for Halloween, this is still my favorite time of year, and I wanted have a few touches.  I keep a bin of Halloween decorations (now living in an offsite storage room), and rooted through there to see what I could use, and we wound up buying an item or two that caught our eye, and this is what we came up with:

We'd just set up this shelf arrangement near the door shortly before it was time to decorate for Halloween - we needed a place to hang keys and our dog's leash, as well as have a landing zone for my husband's loose change.  So, when it's not Halloween, we have this row of hooks (that are actually dog butts) for the hanging items, the rustic blue crate shelf that holds two little stoneware cups for change (one of them is specifically for quarters for the laundry room), as well as a sign about dogs and a dog motif cross stitched piece I did.

We didn't take down any of it, but I did add an additional cross stitch piece, a couple purchased raven items, some fresh mini-pumpkins (now sitting on the upturned change mugs, so there went that bit of organization), and some artificial autumn sprigs from my Halloween bin.

The thing I like about this is that the shelf and dog butt hooks are fastened to the wall, but everything else just sits on it, letting me change out the decoration without putting any more holes in the wall.

On a small end table that sits to one side of the living room, I tucked some artificial sunflowers and other seasonal sprigs inside our tripod lamp.

A beat up hanging clock (from Michael's), another older cross stitch piece I did, and a small ceramic skull created a nice, shabby Halloween still life that will transition easily into November with the removal of the skull.

On a whim, I covered the shade with a black lacy poncho-style shawl of mine.  It provides a little more atmospheric l
lighting down in  that part of the room.

Nearby, we have an IKEA ladder that is currently rather overflowing with things (we're still deciding what it is we want to do with that space).  I had a length of grapevine garland and several ornaments which I'd normally put up on a year round tree I like to decorate each season.  Here, we just have no space for it, but I was sad to not get to show off my ornaments, so I draped the garland around the top of the ladder and hung them off of that.

Our biggest addition to what we already had came about on whim - while we were at Michaels Arts & Crafts, we came across some of those inexpensive Halloween portraits they have that look like antique photos if you look at them one way, and scary demonic undead things if you look another way.

They are simply glued onto a plastic molded frame, good enough as a disposable ornament, but we decided against them because they looked as cheap as they were.

But then we saw this really nicely made roughed up cabinet-door style picture frame, which I would have wanted with or without a plan.

After the holidays, I'll replace the photos with more personal to us family photos, but for now...

We bought two of the cheap Halloween pics, and, after cutting them out of their molded frames (which was tedious and involved some non-ladylike words), put the one of the twin demon babies into the top section, and the nice gentleman that turns into a half-skeleton monster into the center section.

That left the two smaller panes unfilled.  Well, as it happens we have a really lovely antique store that is a two block walk around from our apartment.


I took a walk down there to see if perhaps they had any old photos I could use for the bottom panes, and they did!  Sadly, not identified, but I selected one of two children looking very stiff and uncomfortable in their finery, and one of a mother for this little family. Her photo had faded with age, giving her a ghostly appearance.

The pictures did not quite fit in the frame, so rather than cutting them up, I scanned and printed them onto photo paper so they would be the right size.

I really like the end result!

My final decorated spot was outside on our balcony, where I was able to use a few more of my favorite goodies from the bin without making our indoor space look overly cluttered.

The Witch plaque hanging on the utility door was bought years ago from a dollar store, and still makes me smile everytime I see it.  Bright orange autumn flower garland is draped overhead, where we took a length of rope and wrapped it around a long metal beam for our various hanging needs - we use large S-hooks from IKEA to quickly add and remove whatever we want up there.

The two tin Witches Hats are also dollar store finds from years gone by - they have little doors so that you can set a tea light inside.  I have some remote controlled battery operated tealights in them to provide a bit of glow in the evening.

Even when it's necessary to keep things simple and easy to switch out, I find that being able to decorate for the holidays goes a long way toward making a new apartment look and feel like 'home'.  I may still be trying to figure out where I'm going to put my spices, but at least I know where the spooky stuff goes.

Review/Giveaway: B.A. Landtroop's Serenity Coloring Books


I recently got the chance to review B. A. Landtroop's wonderful line of Serenity Coloring Books.
When I first received the package I was surprised by the amount and variety of the items that I received.

In my package, there were two Coloring Books, two Coloring Journals, an art print and Coloring Cards – a lot to color and enjoy.

B. A. Landtroop is an award winning artist in watercolor, acrylic, pen & ink and mixed media. Her books are sold throughout the world and most online stores have her Coloring Books available.
Over email she told me that she is basically a one woman show. The quotes in the books are hers. The art, design, layout and file creation are all done by her. The only step that she doesn’t do herself is the printing. Her items are also decently priced, ranging from $7.99 to $11.97 on Amazon.

She says about herself and her art:

 “Life creates how we see the world around us. How I respond is found in my art.  Each piece of art is an experience expressed with color, medium and the texture of emotions acquired in living”

Her books are also filled with a lot of dreamy, calming and motivating quotes that contributed to the relaxing experience of coloring.

If you find the time to check out her website, you will also find even more information as well as upcoming events where you can meet her yourself & some of her other works.

The first thing that I noticed when I actually started taking things out of the box was that each and every item was wrapped in a protective plastic cover; once removed I just couldn’t stop rubbing my fingers over the cover and pages.

I’ve owned quite a few coloring and specifically adult coloring books in my day but none have ever had such a strong, soft and wonderful paper quality! In addition, each of the coloring books comes bound with an extra sheet of paper between each colorable, to ensure no bleedthrough.

My very first coloring experience with the Serenity line were some of the Cards.

I just loved the idea of it and it sounds cliché, but the first one that I colored I ended up sending to my granny back home who loved it just as much as I did.

The coloring cards are such a great way to add a personal touch to a note. It is not just a card that you will send or give to someone, it is a moment of your time that you spent personalizing.

The art print ended up finding a spot on the wall in my daughters’ room. She likes bunnies and just didn’t let go of it once she got her tiny hands on it.

The quality of the print isoutstanding. So much detail and a soft touch. We ended up framing it to protect it from dust and the frame added even more character to it.

Unfortunately, the cards and art prints are currently only available at events, but she is working on trying to include them online in the coming year.

The Serenity Coloring Books Calm Breezes and Enchanted Waters seemed similar, but my favorite was Enchanted Waters.

The books are filled with detailed images that long to be colored. You will also find inspirational quotes in the Coloring Books which add a nice touch to the coloring experience.

They come in a convenient 8 x 10 size which allows you to just slip them in your purse if you plan on taking your kids to the park and grant yourself some relaxation while they play, and to frame your creations in a standard photo frame later, if you like.

My absolute personal favorite of the entire package were the Coloring Journals. They combine all my favorite creative parts: beautiful images for you to color, wonderful & inspirational quotes and lots of space to write down your own thoughts, memories and ideas.

In the past few months I’ve spent a lot of time doing personal writing and these journals helped me spark my creativity on a whole new level. They would also make a great diary.

I absolutely enjoyed reviewing these items and they would make great, thoughtful gifts or just treat yourself with some Serenity time.

B.A. Landtroop is generously offering a discount of $4.00 off the Calm Breezes Coloring Book though her Createspace store.

Regularly $11.97, our readers can get this for $7.97 by using the code TC9VCQZ9 at checkout. This code expires 11/14/16, so don't delay!

Even more generously, the author is providing an entire prize package to one of our readers that includees items currently unavailable for purchase online!  Read on for details and to see how you can enter to win!

This is an exciting giveaway!  One of our readers in Canada or the US (including overseas APO/AE addresses) will win 1 Enchanted Waters Coloring Book, 1 Moments in Time Coloring Journal, a hummingbird art print, and a pack of 3 coloring notecards, for a total value of $41.94.

To enter the giveaway, you must leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Giveaway Tools Entry Form below. This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning.

This giveaway is open to US/CAN & APO/AE and will end just before midnight ET on 11/6. 

The winner will be notified by email within 24 hours after the end of the giveaway. In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 24 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected.

Once the winners have responded and confirmed, their first names will be posted on our Giveaways  page.

Good luck!