Monday, November 2, 2015

Clean Slate: A Cookbook and Guide - Book Review

Clean Slate: A Cookbook and Guide is a book from the editors of Martha Stewart Living. As a long time fan of the magazine I was excited to explore this book in depth. It was released December 16, 2014 and is available in paperback or eBook format. The paperback copy has a list price of $26.

The focus of this book is starting fresh with your diet. It includes over 160 recipes that are centered around unprocessed, clean, whole foods. A large number of the recipes are some combination of vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, and/or gluten-free. I was thrilled to see recipes that catered to such a wide range of dietary restrictions.

Clean Slate begins with a guide on mindful, healthy eating. This is covered through the use of 11 "Golden Rules". The rules are followed with instructions on implementing a 3-day action plan and 21-day action plan. Having a 21-day action plan is important to me, because it is often believed that it takes at least 21 days to create a new habit.

The recipes in Clean Slate are not at all intimidating. Both the ingredients and recipe instructions are simple. I could recommend this to a friend who is afraid of their kitchen without any concerns. The standout recipes for me thus far are the steamed vegetable salad with macadamia dressing; quinoa salad with zucchini, mint and pistachios; cardamom quinoa porridge with pear; and chai tea latte.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to refresh their diet. If you already eat a whole food diet, then this book may help boost your recipe arsenal.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own and are completely honest

Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Review: The Kitchn Cookbook by Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand

The Kitchn Cookbook is a beautiful book by Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand. For those of you not familiar with The Kitchen, it is a website from the creators of Apartment Therapy dedicated to kitchen decor and cooking. As someone who is in love with both of these websites I could not resist the opportunity to review The Kitchn Cookbook. The book was released on October 7, 2014, and is available in hardcover or as eBook.

True to the spirit of The Kitchn website this book offers kitchen tips as well as recipes. Part I focuses on the kitchen itself, while Part II focuses on cooking. In Part I readers are offered tips on setting up their kitchen so that it works well for them and caring for a kitchen. The ultimate goal of these topics are to help the reader achieve efficiency in their kitchen. Part I also describes 50 cooking techniques that the authors believe are essential. I found many useful tips in Part I, but my favorite was the Daily Cleaning Plan For A Constantly Clean Kitchen.

Part II of the book covers the recipes and then tips on hosting a gathering. The book's 150 recipes are a combination of past favorites from the website and new recipes created for the book. The variation of recipes in the book is a pleasant surprise. The recipes vary in complexity and style, and I believe there is something for everyone in this book. There are so many recipes that I cannot wait to try.

The book ends with a discussion of gatherings. This section offers tips on table settings, ambiance, and all the other necessitates for hosting with confidence.

The Kitchn is a book that I would highly recommend for anyone with an interest in their kitchen or cooking. I can see this being a go-to housewarming gift. I look forward to future publications authors Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own and are completely honest.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Review: Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe

Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe is a collaborative cookbook from Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda. It was released September 30, 2014, and is available in hardback or as an eBook. Vegan Holiday Cooking has a list price of $22.99. The cookbook offers vegan recipes for a variety of holidays and celebrations. I believe it is important to say that the recipes should not be considered weight-loss friendly, but they are very appropriate for parties and holidays.

The contents of the book follow what I would call an annual holiday calender. Each chapter is based on a holiday or celebration such as Super Bowl Big-Game Party, Lunar New Year, Valentine's Day, Passover Seder, Easter Brunch, Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, 4th of July Backyard Barbecue, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. There is such a wide range of recipes in the book that you could find something for any event.

The recipes for the holidays addressed in the book are presented as a menu. Each chapter begins with drink suggestions followed by appetizers, main dishes, and dessert. If you were planning a dinner party you could easily plan your entire menu from the contents of one chapter. The presentation of this book is wonderful. Beautiful color photographs accompany many of the recipes.

When reading the recipes I immediately wanted to eat each and every item in the cookbook. There are recipes that would appeal to both vegans and omnivores. After reading this cookbook in its entirety I know it will not disappoint.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own and are completely honest

Monday, November 10, 2014

Birchbox Limited Edition Vanity Affair Box Review

The limited edition Birchbox Vanity Affair Box is beautiful, elegant, and a perfect gift idea for yourself or a loved one. This box is meant to bring luxury into the recipients life, and I believe it does just that. It has a variety of beauty and lifestyle products, and you get a lot of luxury for your money.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Book Review: Make Up by Michelle Phan

Make Up by Michelle Phan is a beautiful book. I smiled as soon as I removed it from the shipping package. If you are at all familiar with Michelle Phan this should not come as a shock. Make Up was released on October 21, 2014, and is available as a hardback or eBook.

Make Up is a beauty guide as well as a style and success guide. The contents seem to be targeted towards readers in their teens and twenties, but at thirty I still loved it. There is something in this book for everyone, even those who have an established beauty routine and career.

The book begins with an introduction to Michelle's life so far. Her story is wonderful and shows how following your dreams can pay off. In the beauty portion of the book she breaks down the basics of what you need to know. She discusses skin care, makeup, hair, and nails over the course of seventy-eight pages. Somehow, Michelle seems to hit on every topic I could want in a beauty guide.

When the book moves on to fashion, Michelle instructs readers on building a wardrobe. She covers dressing for your type, for different occasions, and how to accessorize.

The "success" portion of the guide covers digital dos and don'ts, finding a job you love and keeping it, turning something you love into a career, and modern manners. This section of the book contained two of my favorite chapters. 'Digital Dos and Don'ts' and 'Modern Manners Made Easy' covered some very important topics on etiquette both online and off.

Overall, I loved Make Up and believe it is a great book. I cannot wait to read it again with all my beauty products and tools in front of me.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own and are completely honest.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

BOXYCHARM Review - October 2014 Box

I am excited to review my first box from BOXYCHARM! BOXYCHARM is a beauty and makeup subscription box that delivers deluxe-size and full-size samples.

The Details:
BOXYCHARM costs $21 a month and ships inside the continental US. The box will usually contain 4 to 5 full-size products.

This month's theme was "Bewitched" and it contained some fantastic items!

Coastal Scents Eclipse Palette (Full size, normally $19.95, currently $14.95): I am so excited about this product! It is a concealer palette and has a wide range of colors so that you can blend, contour, and disguise anyway you want. I have always been curious about the concealers that are not flesh colored, so this will give me a chance to play!

Palmetto Derma Collagen Booster & Restoration Serum ($48 value): A full-size, cruelty-free, vegan skincare item that is free of parabens, sulfates and alcohol? Yes, please! This serum is applied after cleanser and toner, and is meant to fight free radicals and increase collagen growth in your skin. I cannot wait to see if this makes my skin glow!

CULT/COMMERCE & BOXYCHARM "Shady" Nail Polish Collection in B'Witched and Spell On ($21 value): This collaborative set launched in BOXYCHARM and is perfect for the Halloween season. I really want to rock these polishes tomorrow, but I would have to remove them and repaint for a wedding Saturday afternoon. Decisions, decisions! 

Be A Bombshell Eyeshadow in Corrupt ($14 value): This is such a great color! You can create so many looks using this nice charcoal grey.

Starlooks Ultra Gem Eye Pencil in Ultra Turquoise ($14 value): I could not find this exact item on the Starlooks website, but it goes on as a beautiful blue. This seems more like something I will use when I go to holiday parties.

Overall, I am very pleased with my first box from BOXYCHARM. The box is values around $112-$117 depending on how you price the Coastal Scents Palette. I will get more than my money's worth out of this box.

Do you subscribe to BOXYCHARM? What did you think of this month's box?

Disclosure: This post contains referral links.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Review: The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka

After years of following Gina Homolka's blog, Skinnytaste, I was thrilled when she decided to write a cookbook. The Skinnytaste Cookbook was released September 30, 2014 and is available in hardback or eBook format.

The Skinnytaste Cookbook features 125 new recipes as well as 25 favorites. All the recipes are low-calorie and waist-friendly. A majority of the recipes are accompanied by beautiful, full-page photographs.

The book begins with an introduction that explains the intentions of this cookbook and provides the Skinnytaste origin story. This section also provides you with a recipe key which is one of my favorite parts of the book. The key is used to identify vegetarian, gluten-free, quick (ready in 30 minutes or less), freezer-friendly, and slow cooker recipes.

The chapter titled The Skinny Basics provides readers with tips for a healthier kitchen as well as a healthier lifestyle. I think this was an important addition to the book, because sometimes changing the way you eat or cook can be a daunting task, so tips from a professional or role-model are always appreciated.

Once you get past the introduction and basics you get into the most exciting part of the book: the recipes. The recipes are grouped into chapters such as Sunny Mornings, Skinny-Licious Soups & Chilis, Sandwiches On The Lighter Side, Skinny Bites, Fabulous Main-Dish Salads, Perfect Poultry, Lean Meat Dishes, Fabulous Fish, Meatless Mains, Veggie-Licious Sides, and Skinny Sweet Tooth.

Throughout the recipes Gina added helpful hints and tips to make your meal prep easier. Pairing options, storage tips, and tool suggestions are just a few of the tip topics. This is in addition to the nutritional information that is provided for every recipe. As a professional calorie counter this is what I am most grateful for.

Overall, I am thrilled with this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a low-calorie cookbook.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own and are completely honest.