Friday, March 30, 2018

Book Beau Sleeves (Review)


The other day, I walked into the lab where I get Remicade infusions for a couple of hours every five weeks for rheumatoid arthritis.  As usual, I'd brought along a few items to keep me occupied while I was tethered to the IV - my laptop in a small case, my phone, my Kindle.

Multiple electronics, so I can graze and read and don't have to worry about one or the other running out of juice before I'm through. It's happened, and then I'm stuck begging someone to find a magazine for me.

What I usually don't add to my bag is an old-fashioned book.

Even though I'm usually reading two or three at any given time, cramming a book into the bag usually results in a book that looks like it's been beat up.

I've even accidentally ripped a cover or page trying to get something else out of the bag.

This time, though, I brought a book and left the computer at home - it tucked neatly into my purse, snuggled against the e-reader and I was a good bit less encumbered and happily relaxed to read without worrying about needing to recharge anything.

After a few minutes, the lab tech curiously asked me about the sleeve holding the book.

"Did you get a new tablet?"

I showed her that it was a sleeve holding a real book, and she asked to take a closer look.

The sleeve I was using was a Book Beau Sleeve, Indie sized, made with a very cute eyeglasses fabric.

What had my lab tech's curiosity up is the same thing that has led me to spend the last month carrying it everywhere, from the day I first received it for review:

  • It's not just cute, it's incredibly protective and functional.  The padding covers the entire sleeve on both sides of the book and are as protective as the padding in my laptop bag that protects my laptop without being unduly bulky.

  • The stitching is pristine and is holding up very well to frequent movement in and out of my purse full of other items.  

  • I can easily insert high quality paperbacks of average thickness into the Indie size and still have room for my paperwhite to come along.  I've had no damage at all to either book, tablet or sleeve.

  • For larger hardbacks or small trade paperbacks, there are additional sizes available - the Indie is the medium size.

  • The clasp is easy to open and close and does the job of holding the sleeve close to the book for better protection - I have tried and rejected numerous tote-like products simply because they overthought the clasp and made it too difficult to use.  The button and elastic here provides both closure and flexibility.

Before I'd finished that day's infusion, my lab tech was writing down the website for Book Beau and telling me it would be great for her daily Metro subway commute, and I agree!

In this past month, I've had several doctor's appointments and we even moved - Book Beau has been my companion daily, giving me an attractive and useful way of keeping my current reading material safe and at ready.  And the adorable pattern gets comments and questions everywhere I go.

Book Beau is on my shortlist of gift ideas for my book loving friends and family, and I've decided I need the Mini size, too - especially after seeing all the cute fabric patterns currently available.  I am positive that these would be very happily received gifts for Mother's Day, Father's Day and everything in between.

If you travel with a book or e-reader (or both), check them out.  I think you'll agree the hardest part will be narrowing them down to one or two!

Book Beau sleeves are available to order from their website, and cost $15 for minis, $20 for Idies, and $25.00 for XL. They are currently taking pre-orders for the new Jumeau Sized sleeves, sized to handle large hardbacks like the Harry Potter series - these will start shipping in mid-May and run $30 each.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Awesome Life Friday #153

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!  I can't believe we've been at this for 150 weeks!

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!

This week at Party in Your PJs, we're holding a $100 Paypal Giveaway! Stop in and enter for your chance to win!

We are also one of the hosts of the month long Welcome Spring Link Party - if your post is Spring themed, I invite you to share it there as well!

So, now the best part of Awesome Life Friday -  the FEATURES!

Bombshell Bling // What Up My Peeps? Printable
"This goofy Easter peeps printable is perfect for simple holiday decor! Download now, print, and pop it into a frame for Easter fun!"

Low Carb Delish // Cucumber Basil Chicken Salad
"This cucumber basil chicken salad is one of my favorite things to eat for lunch. It’s a super quick and easy recipe and full of flavor."

Paper Seedlings // Spring Is Here
" of art or not, frivolous or not, the piece says exactly what I needed it to say. And I wanted to show my happiness that winter is over -- at least, according to the calendar."

Comfort Spring Station // Strawberry Spring Salad
"Whether you’re planning a holiday meal or just looking for ideas for dinner, it’s hard to beat a simple salad of fresh mixed lettuce and fresh strawberries." 

The Scrap Shoppe // Framed Paper Bunny
"All it takes is some pretty paper to create a beautiful framed masterpiece this Easter!"

My Husband Has Too Many Hobbies // Easy Easter Egg Cakes
"The purpose of this Pinterest Challenge is to motivate all the participants of this hop (and you too) to not just pin, but to make it happen! So this month, I chose to try an Easter Egg Cake pin that looked super easy to do."

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, March 27, 2018

Party in Your PJs! #101 - Giveaway!

Happy Tuesday!

Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on four different blogs each week.

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.

What are you up to in this week? I can't wait to see what you've brought to share! If your post is SPRING THEMED, we'd love if you'd also share it with our month-long Welcome Spring link up, where it will be seen on several blogs:

 Meet the Co-Hosts

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Facebook // Pinterest // Twitter // Instagram

Teresa @ Aging Like a Fine Wine

Facebook // Pinterest // Twitter // Instagram

Last week, we hit TWO HUNDRED here at Party in Your PJs! Wow!!  We're all so happy that you come and visit with us each week, that we've decided to hold a special Thank You Giveaway!

One of our readers in the US will receive $100 cash via PayPal from Party in Your PJs!

We'll be closing the giveaway on on April 2 at 11:59pm, so don't forget to enter! And thank you so much for stopping by each week! We're grateful for every one of you!

Lynda's Features!

 Make sure you head over to the other members of Party in Your PJs
 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 inspiratioPn 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.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Monday Movie Challenge: Peeps S'Mores Tarts


On the last (or fourth) Monday of each month, a group of bloggers participate in a #MovieMondayChallenge, hosted by C'mon Get Crafty! We decide on a topic, genre, or specific movie to use for inspiration and everyone gets free reign to create something wonderful!
This month's challenge was. . . . KIDS! Everyone was allowed to choose their own favorite film so long as it was inspired by the challenge word.

For this month's challenge, I chose The Sandlot.

I adore this movie, about a motley group of boys in the early 1960s, and the summer they spent together playing baseball, hanging in their treehouse and getting into trouble at the pool.

The main character, Scotty Smalls ("You're killin' me, Smalls!), is new to the neighborhood, and struggling to bond with his new stepfather - in an effort to connect with his new friends, he grabs his stepfather's display baseball to finish out a game after the ball they were using goes over a fence.

The problem is, this is a prized ball signed by Babe Ruth, and when it, too, goes over the same fence, the boys have a real problem: they need to get that ball back, and on the other side of the fence is The Beast, a huge terrifying dog that eats baseballs - and, according to legend, kids that try to get them back.

What follows is a hilarious round of Wile E. Coyote-like schemes to recover the ball, with one ingenious intricate plan after another.

Along the way, we're treated to a delightful coming of age tale that is about the love of friends, family and baseball, told from the perspective of the now-adult Smalls looking back at this pivotal summer, and for me, it really captured how kids think and interact (warning: plenty of salty language when they're not around adults).

In thinking about what I wanted to do for this one, I had a couple craft ideas I knew I wouldn't have time to accomplish (we are still very newly moved and still dealing with boxes and mayhem), so I decided to focus on a recipe.

Except, there isn't a lot of food inspiration in this movie, except for one iconic scene where they make s'mores up in the treehouse, toasting the marshmallows by candlelight, which even helpfully includes the recipe.

So, I decided to do a S'moreslike dish (although, in my opinion, nothing beats the original campfire treat), and since it's nearly Easter, I decided to use Peeps as the marshmallow, and use mini-graham cracker crusts to make fudgy Peeps tarts.

This is definitely not something we'd eat regularly (they are ridiculously rich and sweet), but it was a fun experiment!  There was leftover fudge filling that I turned into a separate dish to chill.

Here's the problem - my fudge didn't set the way I'd like (it's a really, super rich, thick fudge sauce instead), so I'm not going to bother sharing the failed fudge recipe with you. 

If you make these, use your own preferred fudge recipe, or even go simple (as I wish I had) and just throw some squares of Hershey's chocolate into the base of the crust.

Peeps S'Mores Tarts
(makes 6)

1 pkg graham cracker crusts
1 recipe chocolate fudge OR 3 Hershey's bars, broken up (see note above)
12 Peeps

Put the chocolate filling into the crusts and top with 2 Peeps chicks.  If making fudge, put these in the refrigerator to chill and set a few hours.

Put under broiler for a couple minutes until marshmallow is as toasted as you'd like.


Now let's see what everyone else was inspired to create for this month's #MovieMondayChallenge!! If you'd like to join our Facebook group, you can request an invite here.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Discovery of Chocolate: Slow-Cooker Chicken Mole


The February/March book for the Cook the Books Club was The Discovery of  Chocolate, by James Runcie.  This round is being hosted by Simone at Briciole, and the whole collection can be seen here - I'm very interested in seeing how others handled the food challenge - it is full of lush food descriptions from the Americas and Europe.

Without doubt its biggest strength is the history and descriptions of innovations in chocolate.  The story itself concerns a Conquistador named Diego who meets and falls in love with a woman who makes a marvelous chocolate drink that changes his life before the two are separated by the chaotic events of Spanish colonialization in the area.  Diego has reason to believe she's dead and travels throughout South America and then Europe, realizing as time passes that the final cacao drink she gave him apparently has made him immortal.

I love magical realism, and found the premise very interesting, while being a good bit less enamoured of Diego, who - in spite of spending centuries brooding and feeling the loss of her love while apparently being a Forrest Gump-like catalyst for every chocolate innovation from bon bons to Sachertorte to bar chocolate to Hersey's Kisses - is, himself, a profoundly uninteresting man.

Whether on purpose or not, he acts as an observer of his life rather than a participant in it and by the end of the book, the 'big reveal' left me thinking that he spent 500 years learning absolutely nothing and the whole thing was apparently a build up to a version of the Good Witch of the North declaring he could have gone home anytime he wanted.

Peppered throughout the story are brushes with famous people who Diego influences in ways that affect the development of chocolate, or simply are bit parts in his story.  These were fun to hunt for, although by the time I got to the tale of how Kisses came to be, I actually said out loud, "Oh come ON" and had to put it away for a couple days.

(Side note that is relevant if you read this book: Do not feed chocolate to dogs, Diego!  It's very bad for them!)

 All that aside, I enjoyed reading it, once I decided that it is the Discover of CHOCOLATE, not Diego's Adventures Through Time.  It made for a fun puzzle to figure out how he might have been a part of various chocolate obsessions over the centuries, and it definitely appealed to me as foodie fiction.

It helped a lot to know that James Runcie originally intended to write this as a series of short stories, and I am sorry he chose not to handle it that way, as a more episodic approach would have solved the weaknesses it had as a novel. In a short story series, you have lower expectations for actual character development and growth, and can focus more on shorter term events.

There was no shortage at all of potential dishes to work with.  I settled on a savory dish rather than sweet, as I wanted to do something more rooted in chocolate's origins than in Europe's use of it.

I've wanted to make Chicken Mole for a long time - it's one of those things I can rarely resist ordering when it's on the menu, but most recipes have an intimidatingly long list of ingredients.  Then I came across this recipe from Foraged Dish, and knew I had my starting point!

The result was very flavorful, not overly spicy (Mole is more about the play of flavors than about pure heat), and quite fast to put together with the help of a food processor and slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole (Paleo/Whole30)
serves 4

2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large onion, chopped
2 T. olive oil
1/3 cup cocoa
2 Tblsp. ancho chile  powder
1 tsp. ground coriandor
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. anise seed powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup raisins
1 28 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (about 1/2 a small can)

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil, and saute the onions for a few minutes.  Add the chicken, turning a couple times, to sear the outside (you don't need to cook it entirely).

Put the chicken and onions into a slow-cooker and set aside.

Combine all of the remaining ingredients in a food processor, and puree for a couple minutes until smooth.

Dump the mole sauce on top of the chicken, coating everything.  It will seem like a lot of sauce.  It's not - there's no such thing as too much mole!

Let cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.  The chicken will be very tender, and the sauce will have cooked down some.

Serve with rice (or cauliflower rice as we did), along with a salad, guacamole or avocado slices, and a tortilla, if desired, to sop up all the mole goodness.

Check out the other food inspiration from The Discovery of Chocolate!

Because of the magical realism that infuses this book, I am also sharing this with this month's Fandom Foodie Challenge hosted by The Hungry Bookworm#MagicalRealFood!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Awesome Life Friday #152

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!  I can't believe we've been at this for 150 weeks!

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!

This week at Party in Your PJs, we're holding a $100 Paypal Giveaway! Stop in and enter for your chance to win!

We are also one of the hosts of the month long Welcome Spring Link Party - if your post is Spring themed, I invite you to share it there as well!

So, now the best part of Awesome Life Friday -  the FEATURES!

Home Cooking Memories // Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cake Donuts
"Featuring golden pineapple, sweet maraschino cherries, and lots of inspiration from the nostalgic dessert we all love so much."

Flamingo Toes // Spring Star Mini-Quilt with Bunnies & Blossoms Fabric
"This new Spring Star Mini Quilt made with Bunnies and Blossoms fabric is such a pretty way to decorate for Spring!"

Simply Stacie // Lemon Pound Cake Muffins
"The muffin itself isn’t overly sweet and has the perfect amount of tangy lemon flavour. They are dense, moist and melt-in-your-mouth good."

The Kittchen // Dark Chocolate Orange Scones
"Dark Chocolate Orange Scones bring the classic Italian flavor combination of orange and dark chocolate together with scones, a classic British pastry."

The Monday Box // Flourless Soft Almond Cookies (Pasticcini di Mandorle)
"Flourless Soft Almond Cookies (Pasticcini di Mandorle) can be soft like marzipan or baked a few minutes more for a slightly crunchy chew. Either way, these wondrous cookies are a real Italian treat!"

The Boondocks Blog // How to Repurpose Cans Instead of Being Overrun By Them
"I am always going on about "the power of paint" and this is no exception. It was an easy project with major impact."

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!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Carrot Cake Salad #fantasticalfoodfight


Welcome to another Food Fight! Fantastical Food Fight is a group of food bloggers who will get a theme or ingredient each month and make some sort of variation for it. It could be traditional or nontraditional and can be found in a cookbook, on a blog, or be a blogger's own creation! For more details, or to join the fun, check out this page!

This month, our theme is CARROT CAKE!  What's not to love here?  I am not much of a cake person (pie for me, pie all the way), but if I'm asked what kind of cake I'd like, it's going to be Carrot Cake, especially around Easter.

But here's the thing - while we are not doing Whole30 right now, my husband and I are also not going to eat a whole cake, or even a slice.  We loosened up this month so we could sanely deal with catch as catch can meals while we moved, and that means the occasional slice of bread or some cheese on a diner meal. It does not mean cake!

But that's okay, because the flavors of Carrot Cake can also be found in this simple, old school salad some of us may remember from the diner counter or a potluck spread.

My mom used to make something similar (using mayo as the dressing, and some mini-marshmallows in the salad) for Easter every year.

It's not Whole30, or Paleo - because it wouldn't be Carrot CAKE salad without a bit of cream cheese.  But it is delicious as a side dish or  a snack.  If you want to make it dairy free, I think some coconut cream along with the lemon juice would also create that creamy tangy taste we all love.

Carrot Cake Salad
makes 4 cups

3 cups carrots, shredded or fine chopped in food processor
1 can crushed pineapple, drained (reserve juice)
1/3 cup raisins (or chopped dates)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tblsp. light olive oil or avocado oil
1 Tblsp. lemon juice
2 Tblsp. reserved pineapple juice
1 Tblsp. honey
salt to taste

Combine carrots, pineapple, raisins and walnuts in a medium bowl.

Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl, whisking until smooth.  Add dressing to salad and stir to combine thoroughly.

Chill in refrigerator at least four hours before serving.