Showing posts with label Dawn Rae. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dawn Rae. Show all posts

Monday, May 20, 2024

Book Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson, artist, lives in a gorgeous home in a desirable part of London with her husband who is a well-known fashion photographer. She has an upcoming art show, she is clearly very in love with her husband, and she appears to have everything. So why does she kill her husband? The Silent Patient is full of twists and turns. I suspected first one person then the next. 

Book cover of The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient is a psychological murder mystery that jumps from one point of view to another and includes Alicia's diary. The story isn't told in a linear timeline. The prologue is an excerpt from Alicia's Diary on July 14th soon before the murder in August. Chapter One begins with recap as though written by a report with the murder having happened six years prior. We learn about their careers, their art, their ages, and the last day of Gabriel's life. We learn the gory details of the murder scene, Alicia's attempt to take her own life and how she fought those trying to save her. We find that Alicia turned mute and remained silent. 

Alicia was discharged from the hospital and was initially under house arrest while waiting for the trial. She painted a self-portrait that she named Alcestis. 

Huge Cast of Characters:

Alcestis. A heroine of Greek mythology. Also, Alicia's self-portrait just after allegedly murdering her husband.

Alicia. A complicated, artistic woman, whose husband worried about her mood and well-being. He convinced her to start a diary. After all, maybe writing would help.

Jean-Felix Martin. The manager of a small SoHo Gallery who exhibited her art; including the Alcestis. Long lines formed outside of this small gallery to see what the murderer had painted. 

Lazarus Diomedes. The clinical director of the Grove, the secure forensic psychiatric unit in North London. Alicia was placed here due to clearly suffering from profound psychological distress as determined by the murder and the continuing refusal or inability to speak.  Diomedes oversaw her treatment at the Grove. Including the high level of sedating medications that both kept her safe for others and barely able to function.

Yuri. Head psychiatric nurse. Appears to do very well with managing the patients.

Christian. The head of Alicia's care team and the current prescriber of her medications. He clearly dislikes Theo from the moment we meet him. 

Theo Faber. Psychotherapist. Theo followed the trial closely and chose to interview at the Grove as a way to get close to Alicia. His goal is to treat her and to get her to talk. But Christian is the head of her care team.

The list of characters goes on and on. Max Berenson. Gabriel's brother and Alicia's attorney. What might he and other members of the Berenson family know? The patients in the unit, what might they know? Who has something to gain from her lengthy stay at the Grove and her silence? Why is the victim's brother also the attorney for the murderer? How do the gallery still show her art?  There are so very many questions.

Alicia has been violent on the unit. Which is why her medications are so high and sedating. It's not a far leap to assume that she committed the murder. But still... there are so many things that aren't right. 

My Thoughts

During each twist and turn, I kept thinking "that's not right". Both in the unit where Alicia is house and out of the unit. With every twist and turn I began to think someone else did it. I never did guess correctly. Did I miss the clues? 

Or... is it a matter of me missing the clues in this mystery? Or, to quote Annie Wilkes in Misery, "He never got out of the cockadoodie car" and the plot doesn't fully line up? It reminds me a bit of how I felt when I watched The Sixth Sense many, many years ago. Malcolm Crowe is a child psychologist and the child he's working with says, "I see dead people." I was stunned and thought, Whoa!  How'd we get here?!!!! I feel the same about The Silent Patient.

I can tell you that I've already started reading this a 2nd time to try to find what I missed and why I blamed the wrong people. How I missed seeing how we got to where we ended up. Or... was it a matter of plot problems. I don't know, but I'm reading it again.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides can be found here on Amazon.

Currently, over 300,000 readers have reviewed this book on Amazon with a 4.4. out of 5 star rating. The negative reviews discuss the mental health issues, plot, and timeline issues. The vast majority of reviewers enjoyed this book. I found that the portrayal of the flawed mental health system and what can happen in those settings to be accurate. And the flawed mental health workers... same. I'm still not completely sure what I think of the plot/timeline. I can say that it was intriguing enough that I'm re-reading it already. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, May 6, 2024

Reviewing Oats Overnight Flavor and Subscription

I am not a fan of subscription boxes. And I didn't think I was a fan of making oats in the fridge overnight for breakfast. Yet, here I am recommending Oats Over Night. Why? I am finding that the flavors are fantastic and having Oats Over Night brand meals at my fingertips has been very helpful. And I am very sure that the Oats Over Night meal is far healthier than the daily drive-thru choices I've been making. Did I mention that the Oats Over Night flavors are delicious?

My first few attempts at making overnight oats were failures. I made them with packets of my favorite brand of instant oats and I used milk. I also tried it with oats that are meant to be cooked when I was going on a camping trip and the oats would be soaking in a jar, in a cooler, for a longer period of time. All of my attempts produced slimy, pasty results. Yuck. Maybe it was the milk. Maybe it was the instant oats. I don't know. But it was just gross.

I was very hesitant to try the Oats Over Night brand. They seem a bit pricey and I didn't want to pay that much for yucky goo. But I have to do something. I've gotten to the point that I'm using a lot of drive-thru meals or joining my co-workers for the pick-up "gas station food".  Those options are too many calories and frankly, turn out to be more expensive than that Oats Over Night. I finally gave in and ordered a box and I'm so glad I did.

Oats Over Night Brand

The brains behind Oats Over Night thought that DIY oats were great but the flavor was inconsistent from serving to serving. Brian began experimenting to get consistent flavors, delicious flavors, and a short prep time. After many failures, and oats that didn't taste good, Brian landed on what they consider "The best oatmeal in the world". I can't say that I disagree.

To learn more, go to their official Oats Over Night site

On the site you will instantly notice the reduced price, free shipping, and free shaker bottle for the first subscription. The reduced price made it easier for me to convince myself to give it a try. You choose the number of oatmeal packets you want (16 for example) then choose the combination of flavors you want to order.  That will remain your monthly subscription (minus the "first order offers") but it is super easy to change the flavors that you want to arrive each month.

As a subscriber you are able to choose flavors that aren't yet offered to the non-subscribers. You also receive samples of products in development. Usually, that is a new flavor. This month, the sample of the product in development is a protein coffee. 

I have read reviews that it is super easy to cancel your subscription. And/or put your subscription on pause until a certain date. I cannot testify to that as I have had no desire to cancel or pause. 

Oats Over Night Flavors

The flavors of these oats are amazing. I expected the flavors to be similar to the flavored instant oatmeal varieties at the store (which - the apples and cinnamon is one that I liked very much by the way). The flavors of Oats Over Night are so much fresher and without that "artificial flavoring" taste that I dislike so much. Clearly, the bits of fruit are dehydrated or have been freeze dried. The Bananas Foster flavor is one of my favorites so far. And there are actually chunks of banana in it. Which is great in my opinion, not-so-great if you aren't a fan of bananas. 

Another of my favorites is the Banana Bread (do you see a theme here?). The flavor is very much as though I added a slice of Banana Bread to a bowl of milk. Speaking of milk... I have problems when I drink dairy. So I use unsweetened Almond Milk for my Oats Overnight. 

There are many flavors to choose from and I am excited to try them all. 

As far as nutritional values, I will let you do  your research. It will depend which flavor you choose and which milk you use. I will say that these packets reportedly have 20g of protein.

Preparing Oats Over Night

While you can make Oats Over Night in the microwave and eat it without the wait, the idea is to have a grab-and-go meal.  The prep is super easy. Add 8 oz. of your milk choice (mine is unsweetened Almond Milk) to the shaker bottle. There is a line indicating 8 ozs. so there is no need for measuring. Then you empty the packet of Oats Over Night, screw on the shake bottle lid (make sure the pour spout is closed), give it a shake and let it sit in the fridge until morning. 

I am finding that I still REALLY like sausage and egg sandwiches for breakfast. So I've been prepping the Oats Over Night in the morning and placing it in the fridge at work. No more missing lunches because I'm too busy. And no more having my really boring (good - but boring) apples and cinnamon instant oatmeal. 

I will say that the main complaint I see about the Oats Over Night grab-n-go meals are that they are chunky for straws and too runny for spoons. It's very easy to adjust the milk to oats ratio to get a consistency closer to what you like. While I do use regular straws when I forget mine, I find that the wider and washable "smoothie" straws are perfect.

Related Links

Our Lou16 writes about Oats Based Breakfast Ideas that Include Fruit & Vegetables and she reviews Why a Protein-Rich Breakfast is Important. She includes a lot of interesting and important information. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, April 29, 2024

Reviewing Locally Made Candles and Soap by Wild Roots Cafe & Co.

I am thrilled that a local family has opened a cafe in a small town near me. The farm-to-table focus along with the home-made breads, biscuits, and desserts are exactly what I've been craving. In addition to the delicious meal options, they offer handmade soaps and hand poured candles. All made with fewer ingredients than mass produced soaps and candles. The great news is that even though these candles and soaps are made locally in my area the Wild Roots Cafe & Co. offers a mail order option so you can consider these for yourself or gifts even if you don't live here.

photo of soaps and a candle

Just a few years ago, I was living in a small metro apartment and dreaming of moving to a rural setting. I watched gardening and homesteading videos for entertainment, relaxation, and education. And with those videos I tuned out the noise from the adjoining apartments, parking lot, and the frequent police helicopter circling overhead. One of those channels was Wild Wonderful Off Grid. I knew that they were a family working to build their off grid home, raising their children, and raise chickens and sheep. I knew they were in West Virginia. What I didn't know is how close they were to the raw land I had purchased in West Virginia. 

Fast forward a few years and my small home was built on my land, I transferred to one of our buildings near here for work, and I am now a West Virginia resident. I continued to watch gardening and homesteading videos in order to make progress toward my goal which is retirement on my land and growing as much as my own food as I am able. I am learning to live a healthier life. Imagine my GREAT surprise when I learn that Josh and Erin from Wild Wonderful Off Grid lives somewhat in this general area AND have built a cafe in a small town near me.

Wild Roots Cafe & Co

The videos show the remodeling process of what was once a flower shop in small town Romney, West Virginia. It has been turned into a cafe that offers coffee, breakfasts, and lunches. So far, I've had the cinnamon rolls (the best I've ever had!) and a BLT. A woman named DeAnna is in charge of the kitchen and her bread recipes are amazing! The cafe only very recently opened. You can learn more about the cafe and shop on their website Wild Roots Cafe & Co. 

Hand Poured Candles

The candle selection is poured at the Wild Roots Co. in Romney, WV. I purchased the Appalachian Forest scent which is Balsam Fir, Cypress, and Cedar. I had intended to purchase the "Bare Naked" which is the unscented candle since I struggle with so many perfumes and over-powering scents these days. One whiff of the Appalachian Forest scent had me hooked. I am having no sign of sensitivity to this scent. 

Wild Roots offers seasonal scents and holiday scented candles. They have just sold out (online) of their special Mother's Day candle.  

About their candles, they say:

  • size - volume 8.5 oz
  • wick - cotton (lead and zinc free)
  • burn time - 40+ hours
  • wax - 100% soy and made in the USA
  • Premium non-toxic - phthalate-free
  • hand-poured in small batches

They also list excellent reminders about general candle care and safety on their page. 

Hand Made Soaps

I was so thrilled to learn they were making soaps. I had started to learn to make my own soaps but I'm just too busy currently with work and other obligations. In the meantime, I've wanted to buy locally made soaps from small businesses. I am a firm believer that handmade soaps are far better for our skin than mass-produced soaps. Even better if I can find these soaps locally.

With the publicity of the Wild Roots Cafe opening, there has been a super high demand on the merchandise. As I write this, I notice that several of the soap types are currently sold out. Please don't let that deter you. 

When I was at the Cafe, I purchased the patchouli sunrise and the mountain mint. These bars are 4.5 oz. Both have a very short ingredients list: saponified oils of coconut, olive, palm and castor.  

In addition to that list of ingredients, the Patchouli Sunrise also has patchouli essential oil, sweet orange essential oil, and Brazilian clay. The Mountain mint includes eucalyptus powder, spinach powder, spurline, peppermint essential oil, and eucalyptus essential oil. I chose both of these soaps for their scent. The Mountain Mint will be perfect when I have colds or allergies. I also like to use peppermint and/or eucalyptus on my skin before I go hiking or camping. I feel as though those scents repel some of the bugs that want to swarm me when I'm outdoors. The Patchouli Sweet Orange is a scent that I've always enjoyed. With my chemical sensitivities, I have to be careful to now use over-powering scents. I am aware that patchouli can be over-powering. But these bars are at a nice level of the scented essential oils; not too soft and not too strong. In my opinion. 

As soon as they re-stock I will purchase a bar of the Detox soap. I have used activated charcoal and tea tree soaps in the past. I look forward to getting my hands on a bar of this soap by Wild Roots.

wild roots co

I highly recommend either these candles or soaps as gifts (for someone or for yourself). I am excited about pampering myself with the natural soaps and candles that Wild Roots Cafe & Co has to offer. 

Related Links:

Josh and Erin's primary YouTube channel can be found here at Wild Wonderful Off Grid. You can see their home build, home life, the cafe remodel and and more

Wild Roots Cafe & Co has an Instagram account here.

I often find the most updated information about the cafe on the Wild Wonderful Off Grid Instagram account here

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, April 15, 2024

Reviewing Jeans Yarn by Lion Brand 5 Years Later

In 2019, I reviewed Jeans yarn by Lion Brand. I loved it then and I love it now. During that time, I was focused on crocheting chemo hats and baby/child hats. Jeans is a beautiful yarn that creates soft and comfortable wearables and afghans. 

Photo of blue Jeans yarn

Over the Fall/Winter holidays, I impulsively picked up a skein of yarn and began crocheting again. Life had been busy and I just hadn't made time for one of my favorite hobbies. I started with a huge skein of Mandala yarn and a new stitch to me called the Brick Stitch.  I then learned a beautiful Cross Back Stitch (tutorial by JaydaInStitches) and started a baby afghan using Caron Simply Soft yarn.

That baby afghan project put me in the mood for something soft and comforting, beautiful but not frilly. I had such a craving to use Jeans yarn by Lion Brand. I remembered how wonderful it was to work with, even all of these years later. 

Jeans Yarn by Lion Brand

  • 3.5 oz/100g skein weight
  • 246 yd/225m length
  • 100% acrylic
  • machine washable and dryable
  • medium weight #4 yarn
While this is a worsted weight (#4) it feels much lighter to me. Afghans are far more supple with this yarn than with regular #4 weight yarn. Of course, both thick and light afghans have their uses but I am in the mood to make something lighter.

It comes in 5 shades of blue, very similar to the color of jeans, one black, and one shade of light brown. 

Here is a brief video (56 seconds) from Lion Brand that shows the yarn and shows it being worn. I think you can see how soft and perfect it is for garments.

In my current project, I'm using the Jeans yarn and the Cross Back stitch for 10 rows (however, it looks like 5 rows since every-other-row is a single stitch) and two rows of Double Stitch in the darker blue. This stitch looks like it requires more advanced crochet skills but it is very easy (if you know the Double Stitch and the Single Stitch). And it works up quickly. 

cross back stitch

I learned the Cross Back stitch on the tutorial by JaydaInStitches. You can find the tutorial for this beautiful and easy stitch here. 

Related Yarn Review Links:

Wednesday Elf, a prolific creator of plushy friends, wrote about I Love This Yarn by Hobby Lobby. At the time of her review, that yarn came in acrylic, metallic, and cotton versions. 

Sylvestermouse reviews the Bernat Loop Yarn, a yarn that is created so that blankets can be made with your fingers alone. No crochet hook skills required. 

My recent review of the Mandala Bonus Bundle and the brick stitch pattern.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, April 1, 2024

Reviewing Reacher - The Book and the Amazon Series

Lee Child created an intriguing character when he wrote the story of Jack Reacher in the military thriller titled Killing Floor. This first book in his Reacher series includes a cast of memorable characters and a mysterious murder (string of murders) case that is very difficult to solve. The twists and turns keep everyone guessing and suspicious of each other.  

Alan Ritchson, Reacher

Amazon has brought that book to life in a streaming series that is binge-worthy. When my friends ask for recommendations for a weekend of binging, I always recommend the Reacher season 1 series. Thank you Amazon for bringing a breathing, walking, talking Jack Reacher into homes everywhere. I love it when the movie/television version stays true to the book. 

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, book 1) by Lee Child

The book. Many years ago I read Killing Floor by Lee Child. The story was about a Veteran (ex-military police) named Jack Reacher. Reacher is a drifter who goes to a small Georgia town because at some point in time his brother mentioned a Blues Singer named Blind Blake. And in this fictional story Blind Blake had history in Margrave, Georgia. 

Reacher is in Margrave for less than an hour when he is arrested for a murder that occurred along the highway just before he walked into town. 

I devoured Killing Floor and then the 2nd book in the series. I remember enjoying Lee Child's descriptive writing and his characters. Somehow, probably busy with life, I did not continue the book series. And I am surprised (but not surprised) to find that Lee Child's series has continued to almost 30 books in the Reacher series!  I have resumed reading about this drifting, giant Veteran who always tries to do the right thing - which often eventually means being left with the only option of fighting and killing the bad guys.

The author. Lee Child (James Dover Grant's pen name) is a profilic writer. He has a huge fan base. He is reportedly one of the world's leading thriller authors. Lee Child refers to his stories as revenge stories - someone does something horrific and Reacher gets revenge. Child has said that he writes novels because they are the "purest form of entertainment". Others report that his style is commercial and focused on profitability. I'm okay with that. Gripping and entertaining is going to result in profitability. 

Lee Child fans might be interested to know that he makes a brief, cameo appearance in the season 1 finale.  

Reacher (Season 1) on Amazon

The Series. My excitement about Jack Reacher resumed in 2021 when my oldest son told me that the book had been made into an Amazon original series. I had not been at all interested in seeing the 2012 Jack Reacher version starring Tom Cruise. There is no way that I'd be able to forget Cruise and believe that he was Jack Reacher. But my son assured me that this Amazon series starred someone else and that the series was good. Skeptically, I watched. And then impatiently looked forward to each weekly installment. 

Alan Ritchson plays Jack Reacher. I think he's perfect for the role! I'm not familiar with Alan Ritchson so it is easy to allow him to become the Reacher that Lee Child described. Ritchson is big man and delivers a believable portrayal of a tough, skilled investigator. 

As happens in the book, Jack Reacher gets off the bus in a small town in Georgia and is not able to taste his peach pie when the local police roll up, sirens and lights, and arrest him for murder. "Reacher, why does trouble always find you?" his mother tells him during a flashback in time as they settle into their newest home. Reacher and his brother are military brats. His own military career includes being the head of a special investigators unit.

Reacher is attention-grabbing on his own. How much better to be surrounded by other unique characters.

Chief Detective Oscar Finlay (Malcolm Goodwin) -  Finlay has transplanted from Boston to Margrave, Georgia. Why does a Harvard graduate, tweed-suit-wearing, talented detective move to an extremely small police force in Georgia where no one looks like him, sounds like him, and he is clearly the outsider where everyone else has lived all their lives. It takes us awhile to find out why this very talented urban detective has moved to a "quiet", small, southern town.

Roscoe Conklin  (Willa Fitzgerald) - Roscoe is a pretty, young officer whose family has lived in Margrave since it was founded. However, she doesn't have any family left. When her parents died when she was very young, Roscoe was raised by her grandmother. And Chief Detective Gray helped looked after her but he has also since passed away. "I feel bad about the Margrave welcome wagon running you over" she says to Reacher as she's getting to know him.

Roscoe, Finlay, and Reacher form an alliance to try to catch the murderers.

Frances Neagley  (Maria Sten) - Neagley is a beautiful, tough, no-nonsense member of Reacher's disbanded Special Investigators team. She realizes he's in trouble and comes to help her former boss with her very special military talents. I LOVE watching Neagley in action. She is probably Reacher's best friend (not that he admits to having friends).

You can find Reacher, Season 1 - an Amazon original series here. 

I have binged seasons 1 and 2 (repeatedly) and look forward to season 3's release. If you like shoot-em-up, murder mystery, action thrillers and haven't yet seen Reacher, I highly recommend that you do. 

Parental Warnings. As with many action thrillers, this series includes violence, language, and nudity. Please look up parental guides to find more specific information.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, March 18, 2024

Reviewing My First Impressions of GreenStalk Vertical Planters

I have had GreenStalk Vertical Planters on my wishlist for many years. They would have been perfect for the balconies in the apartments I rented in the past. I have recently been able to purchase two GreenStalk planters. I have been so excited about them that I talk about my planting adventures often. I find myself surprised that some people have not heard of the GreenStalk brand and I have to show them a picture so that I can describe what I'm talking about. 

text and photos of the GreenStalk brochure

GreenStalk Vertical Planters

This family-owned business is located in Knoxville, Tennessee. Jack Peterson had a passion for creating better quality plastics - a bit of history I've only just learned. In 2014, he partnered with his son, Ryan, to design these amazing, functional, and durable plant towers.

I remember my excitement when I first saw the Original GreenStalk. 

  • 5 tiers 
  • Each tier has 6 pockets
  • Each pocket is 10" tall
  • Each tier should be filled with 1 cu ft of "high quality potting soil"

Then the Leaf version was invented

  • 7 tiers
  • Each tier has 6 pockets
  • Each pocket is 7" tall
  • Each tier should be filled with .75 cu ft of "high quality potting soil"

Both green stalks include tiny holes in the bottom of each tier and a watering discs for each tier and a water reservoir at the top. I can best describe this design as a built-in drip irrigation system. 

Something that GreenStalk offers that I love - but I've heard others wonder about - is that not only can you purchase a tower (tiers, discs, and water reservoir) as a unit, but you can also purchase the individual pieces and additional items such as the water reservoir lid. In this way, I feel, you can create the system specific to your needs. Do you want only 3 tiers and a lid? Perfect, you can purchase those items individually. Some folks think this is a gimmick to make extra money but I LOVE the ability to mix and match only the pieces I want, when I want. 

GreenStalks also come in a variety of colors. I chose red to match my siding. Greenstalk is also preparing to offer a "basket weave" textured version. 

GreenStalks are pricey. Which is why it took me so long to see my way clear of buying one. But, I've known people who have used theirs for years. In a variety of climates. The durability makes them worth the price tag. Also, GreenStalk offers a variety of sales through the year. I purchased mine during a "buy one get one half off" sale. I've also heard that there is usually a big sale around Mother's Day. And, if you follow the gardening or homesteading social media channels, you can find folks who offer discount codes now and then.

My GreenStalks

I have installed heavy-duty wheels on a small pallet and have placed my GreenStalks on that moveable "cart". In this way, I will be able to move my filled GreenStalks across the deck with ease. 

It is very early in the gardening season here so I have only just placed a few seeds into my GreenStalks. And I am very excited to have some germination happening. I am beginning with spinach, lettuce, carrots, and beets. I will soon add strawberries. I think the GreenStalk Leafs are PERFECT strawberry growing containers. 

With the exception of squash and tomatoes, I have not been a very successful gardener over my lifetime. I have struggled with keeping things watered and weeded. When I had a large garden in the backyard, it was out-of-sight-and-out-of-mind. So it was neglect. And I currently live on land that basically requires the use of containers for gardening. For these reasons, I am very optimistic about vertical gardening with the GreenStalks on my deck.

Related Links

GreenStalk Website  - The place to shop

GreenStalk Gardeners Facebook Page - The place to talk to other GreenStalk fans and see what they are doing with their planters. 

GreenStalk on Instagram -  Planting and growing tips & ideas, beautiful photos, and sales announcements. 

GreenStalk on YouTube -  A small handful of helpful videos. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, March 4, 2024

Reviewing Etsy as a Source for Succulent Shopping

Did you know that Etsy is a great place to buy plants?  I did not know that until recently. I was shopping for succulents and saw so many good reviews on many Etsy plant shops that I decided to give it a try. I received my order from QueenofSucculents this week and was thrilled.

Text and photos about succulent plants

I was having a long-distance chat with my grandson recently. I was telling him what I was going to try to winter-sow outside. And vegetables that I wanted to try to grow this year. I listed onions, spinach, lettuce, and so on. He asked if he could make a suggestion. Of course I said yes. I thought he'd tell me about his favorite vegetable. Instead, he listed several interesting and rare succulents.

FUN!  Many years ago, I lived where hens and chicks (plants) grew outside. And believe it or not, some sort of cactus grew outside in Indiana. I've also enjoyed growing Aloe Vera and Christmas Cactus indoors off and on over the years. But I haven't had any of those plants for quite awhile.

One of the "rare" or "interesting" plants he listed was a Haworthia Obtusa. I'd never heard of that particular plant so I looked it up. Wow! It was interesting. 

With our conversation, I had an urge to have some succulent plants again. And how much better if I could find some Haworthia Obtusa's to grow. I did buy some succulents at a semi-local garden center and nursery. 

Succulent Shopping on Etsy

There are so many varieties of Succulents on Etsy. Many types, colors, and prices. There are many shops with great customer ratings and customer photos of the plants they purchased. The difficult thing about choosing a succulent shop was narrowing it down to just one shop for my first order.

I narrowed it down to QueenofSucculents.  I was still hesitant. I expected that it was unlikely that my plants received would be the plants in the shop photos. But they were!  I received exactly what I was looking at when I ordered. 

My plants were packed in a way that kept them safe; a combination of peanuts, paper, and what looked like the stuffing used for stuffed animals. 

I also received a teeny-tiny free gift - the cutest little succulent plant ever. Along with a Smart Plant Care card and a thank you/general care card.

I am very pleased with my order and my plants and look forward to adding to  my collection of succulents - as soon as I prove to myself that I can keep these plants alive for awhile! 

Two Highly Recommended Etsy Succulent Shops:

QueenofSucculents  - Based in Santa Cruz, California. All succulents have been "grown by us, hand-picked from nurseries, or imported from Korea". 

RareSucculents  - A succulent farm in Massachusetts

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, February 19, 2024

Reviewing Burt's Bees Hand and Body Butter - Great Gift Idea

Burt's Bees makes a lip balm that is familiar and the first choice of many.  I realized they had a product line of lotions but I did not realize that they also offer a hand and body butter. Burt's Bees Shea and Mango Luxurious Hand & Body Butter is a wonderful way to care for your skin and a great gift to pamper someone you love.

photo of a jar of body butter cream
Burt's Bees Body Butter

The store I used to frequent for lotions, creams, and body butters is a long distance from here. But I had considered making the drive as I have been feeling so dry and in need of a moisturizer that is stronger than lotion. The trouble is, over the year I have become increasingly more sensitive to chemicals and strong scents. And I assumed that being inside the store would be over-powering.  But ordering an unfamiliar body butter scent by mail seemed risky.  So I delayed that drive and shopping trip.

In my local pharmacy, there is a Burt's Bees display and I stopped to browse one day. I was so excited when I realized they body butter!

As I write, I am realizing that perhaps not everyone is familiar with body butter. I generally think of body butter as a very thick and condensed lotion. It is sold in squat jars with a screw-on lid because it is far to thick to pump out of a bottle. 

In looking for a definition, I am finding that body butter is not only more concentrated but is often made of a "blend of natural butters and oils, such as cocoa butter or shea butter". And because of these factors, it is often much better for very cracked, dry, or sensitive skin. I am finding that because lotion is thinner it likely absorbs into the skin faster. And body butter is especially good to use following a bath or shower as it helps to retain that moisture.

I encourage you to do your own research as I do not know all of the technical aspects of lotions and butters. What I do know is that I love how body butter makes me feel. I feel as though I am being pampered when I use body butter.

Burt's Bees Shea & Mango Hand & Body Butter

This body butter is advertised as "luxurious" on the label. I whole-heartedly agree with that. Also on the label are statements such as:

"with responsibly sourced shea"

"supporting women-led communities for over 10 years"

This body butter does not leave a wet or greasy feeling. It immediately feels smooth and silky. I apply it before bed and wake in the morning still feeling smooth.

The scent is a soft fruity smell. I saw a review online where the person wrote that it smelled like a fresh, marshmallow fruit salad. I can't say that I disagree with that. I am sensitive to chemical smells and I can say that this scent does not bother me as so many lotion scents do. In fact, I enjoy this scent very much.

Burt's Bees is a company with a large fan base so I may be the last to know about their body butter. But I still wanted to spread the word.

I think this would make an excellent gift! I do not regularly buy body butter because I typically have thought of it as a splurge item. It is likely that others have the same thought. What a wonderful way to pamper someone who might not pamper themselves. 

Related Links:

Burt's Bees Shea & Tropical Fruit Body Butter on Amazon

Burt's Bees official website

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, January 29, 2024

Reviewing My Love of Polish Pottery and Where I Shop

Polish Pottery is a type of folk art stoneware that originated in the early 1800s and was believed to be inspired by a peacock feather. It is made of the clay that is unique to that region in Boleslawiec and hand-painted using brushes and sponges. The firing temperatures result in a stoneware that is durable and resistant to chipping, cracking, and fading. I absolutely love Polish Pottery.

hand-painted Polish Pottery bowl
my new soup bowl #C38

My desire to collect Polish Pottery began decades ago.  I first saw the stoneware at a festival; I believe at the National Apple Harvest Festival in Pennsylvania. I fell in love with the bright colors instantly. The pieces are pricey (especially related to my budget back then) but I was able to purchase a small blue, white, and yellow bowl that I thought I would use for trinkets on my dresser top.  I treated that little ceramic bowl with care as I did not yet understand how incredibly durable polish pottery is. Over the years that bowl has stored trinkets, served dipping sauces, and has been a water bowl for my little quail in the winter time when it is so cold that their regular water bottles have frozen and they need a drink while I'm defrosting their bottles. The shine and paint on this first bowl is as bright and beautiful as the day I purchased it all those years ago.

hand-painted polish pottery small bowls
two of my small ice cream bowls

Previously, I thought the only way that I could buy my annual piece of Polish Pottery was to either attend festivals that included handcrafted items booths and Polish Pottery vendors. This past year at the National Apple Harvest Festival I sought out that booth, Gettysburg Polish Pottery, and was thrilled to be able to buy a large bowl. I believe it is listed as a cereal bowl but I feel that it is larger than what I usually think of as cereal bowls. To me, it is a large pasta bowl. Or a bowl for a large serving of chili on a cold winter day.

I was planning to buy another bowl of that size soon. So I reached out to Gettysburg Polish Pottery on their social media sites. I did not know how to determine the correct number or name of my bowl. I received an immediate answer and help finding the item number of my bowl. My bowl is a "C38". I was equipped to order another bowl that is the same size. 

The wonderful thing about Polish Pottery is that you can order all of your items in the same paint style. You can build an entire serving set that matches. OR you can do as I do, and order single pieces in the colors and prints that appeal to you in any given moment. 

I believe that Gettysburg Polish Pottery does mail orders. But I had planned to drive up to their store or mail order my next piece. Then one day, while randomly browsing Amazon, I found a Polish Pottery C38 bowl in the same design as that very first bowl I purchased. 

Honestly, I was a bit concerned with ordering a popular, handcrafted item from Amazon. I once thought I was ordering two boxes of authentic Mason Jars and instead received two single jars, of thin glass, from China. But even with that adventure in the back of my mind, I ordered a Polish Pottery bowl from the Polish Pottery Gallery Amazon Store

I am THRILLED with my purchase. The bowl was packed (stuffed with paper to pad it - not styrofoam) and boxed in a way that prevented breaking. It is (as far as I can tell) an authentic Polish Pottery item.  They advertise their pieces as "certified Quality 1". And best of all, it is hand-painted in that design that I first fell in love with. 

Searching the Polish Pottery Gallery on Amazon

If you know the number of the piece you are looking for, you can search for that on the Polish Pottery Gallery Amazon store. When I searched for my bowl, using just it's number "C38", this is the variety of  my bowls they currently have available

package insert from Polish Pottery Gallery
insert included with my order

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, January 15, 2024

Reviewing Mandala Yarn and a Brick Stitch Crochet Pattern

During a recent shopping trip I spotted a beautifully colored yarn cake. It was the Mandala Bonus Bundle in the colorway called Sasquatch. I had not planned on picking up any yarn but with the holidays coming up, as well as possible snow days, I thought I might have time to relax with project. Besides, the yarn color was too pretty to pass up. 

brightly colored yarn by Lion Brand
Mandala Bonus Bundle Yarn Cake 

Lion Brand Mandala Bonus Bundle Yarn

I have used a variety of Lion Brand yarns over the years and I have liked the quality of yarn. So when I saw this beautifully colored yarn cake, I had no problem with choosing it for a project. 

What is a yarn cake? Historically, there are skeins, hanks, and balls of yarn. Most people are familiar with skeins of yarn. Yarn cakes are different because they are flat on the top and bottom, The starting end of the yarn comes from the center of the cake. I find that yarn cakes are becoming my preferred yarns. I don't find that they tangle or snag as easily as they do with a skein. If it is a multi-colored yarn I am able to see all of the colors when it is in a cake. And best of all, yarn cakes don't roll away like a ball of yarn does. Maybe I'm the only one who has dropped a ball of yarn and watched it unwind as it rolls across the room. Let me tell you that it is quite annoying when it happens. 

The Mandala Bonus Bundle I chose is the Sasquatch colorway. At first glance, I thought that it looked like natural, outdoor colors. Greens and blues, the colors of earth and sky, followed by yellow, orange, and a magenta, the colors of a sunset. Then I decided that it reminded me of the colors of rainbow sherbert; green, orange, and raspberry!  I still haven't decided what colors I think this self-striping yarn is but I haven't changed my mind that it is beautiful.

Mandala Bonus Bundle cake is a size 3 yarn. This is a lighter weight than worsted weight. But in my opinion it is thicker than a baby yarn. The Bonus Bundle is 1,181 yards in length and it seems that just these 2 cakes are making a decent sized afghan.  The yarn is acrylic which makes it machine washable and dryable. 


I love to crochet. Especially in the wintertime. I consider myself an intermediate level crocheter. I need patterns that do not require intense concentration, counting, or intricate patterns. However, I want something pretty. Yes. I want the best of both worlds! I want super easy/fast and an interesting pattern. 

The Brick Crochet Pattern - Jayda Institches Tutorial

I can read written crochet patterns but these days I prefer to watch a good video tutorial. I have my favorite crochet channels and usually go directly to them. Fortunately, I stumbled across a wonderful Brick Stitch Baby Blanket tutorial using Mandala yarn (Sasquatch) by Jayda Institches.

She gives very clear directions, crochets slowly so I could follow along, and uses close-up shots that show exactly where she is placing her crochet hook. It was very easy for me to create an adult-sized afghan following her directions.

If you are looking for an easy and pretty crochet blanket pattern I recommend that you check out Lion Brand's Mandala yarn cake and this Brick Stitch pattern.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, January 1, 2024

Book Review: Saga of the Mountain Sage: A Classic Historical Western Series by W. Michael Gear

This historical fiction western begins in 1825, when Richard is a young Boston gentleman attending Harvard. He is a talented and bright student studying philosophy. Richard can quote all of the greatest philosophers and he knows what is real and what is right. He is the only son of wealthy businessman Phillip Hamilton. His mother is deceased, having died during childbirth and Richard has essentially been raised by their servant, Jeffry. How is a story set in the city of Boston able to become a historical western? It begins when Phillip decides that it is time for Richard to take some responsibility, ends his financial support for the Harvard education, and sends Richard on a business trip to St. Louis - the edge of the wild frontier.

Book Cover of Saga of the Mountain Sage Book 1

The Morning River: Sage of the Mountain Sage, Book One: A Classic Historical Western Series 

Thank goodness I was on vacation when I started this book (this series of four books)! I read the series across a handful of days; including the one day that I forced myself to finally close my kindle at 3:30 am. I resumed reading immediately after breakfast the following day.

Richard begins his trip west to St. Louis with his father's bag of bank notes. He expects to make the long journey to St. Louis, make the business transaction, and return to Boston. 

The chapters take us from Richard's journey to Heals Like A Willow. Her people are the Dukurika (Shoshone), the sheepeaters of the high mountains. She had married her husband, a Ku'chendikani, and lived with their tribe. We meet her as she is burying and mourning her husband and son high on a rocky slope, during a blowing snow. We later learn that she is a very powerful woman, a medicine woman, and breaks some of her People's important traditions and expectations about a woman's role in their society. However, she continues searching for what is real and what is right.

While Phillip is right, and Richard's entire world has been limited to their home, the city, and the university I was immediately concerned that sending Richard on such a journey with such a large amount of money was a very risky idea. During Richard's long journey on the river, he is aloof and stand-offish. He is not impressed by the cities and towns along the way. He looks down his nose at the people he sees in boats, on the riverbanks, and on the farms along the way. Richard was amazed at the river he traveled on but uncomfortable when he stared into the deep forests.

"... he'd watched the forest as it passed, uneasy at what might lurk in those dim shadows. Like a child hearing the ghouls in the winter wind."

During brief conversations with another gentleman, Mr. Eckhart, on the steamboat, we begin to see Richard's thoughts. When Mr. Eckhart observes that Richard may not have the ambition and character needed for frontier life, Richard responds:

"My duty, sir, is to go to Saint Louis, see to some arrangements, and return to Boston with the greatest dispatch. Thereafter, I shall retire to the university and never again endure such bad food... ill company, or the human dregs such as you see floating along on flatboats"

It is a wonder that Richard doesn't make enemies when he repeatedly and snobbishly refers to others as "animals". Oh wait, he does make enemies.

Richard arrives in St. Louis with plans of finishing this errand for his father then returning to Boston to begin courting the beautiful Laura Templeton. He has written letters to her along the journey. 

But there is trouble in St. Louis. Big trouble. Life-threatening and life-changing trouble that irrevocably changes Richards life. If he survives, it is very unlikely that he will ever return to Boston.

Travis Hartman, a rugged frontiersman who is disfigured from a bear attack has partnered with long-time friend Dave Green in a business plan. They are planning an illegal trip up the Missouri River, in a keelboat, to the Upper Yellowstone River to open a trading post. During this time of unrest between the Indian tribes and each other, and the tribes and whites, permits are required to do such a thing. But Dave Green has a dream and a plan.

It is up this river and on the frontier that the lives of Richard and Heals Like A Willow, surrounded by the likes of Hartman and Green, converge. Will they collide and self-destruct or join forces and survive.

This series kept me engrossed. It was not only entertaining but educational (I had no idea how Keelboats were moved upriver) it was also thought-provoking. How do we decide what is right and wrong? And who is right? Who are the animals and who are civilized? 

While many descriptions in the book are beautiful (descriptions of the people, the land, the settings) and took me to those places, it was also a time period set during a great deal of violence. There are plenty of "mature" and difficult scenes, words, and themes in this book. However, it was the reality of those times.

If you begin The Morning River, book 1 in the series, and have any inkling that you like the story, I highly recommend buying the next 3 books. I do not recommend jumping into the series somewhere in the middle or end. I wish that these 4 books had been kept in one single book (I read somewhere that the series began as either one or two books - I don't recall which - but had been separated out into 4 somewhere along the way. I would have preferred it to be one volume).

I would like to tell you more about the characters. And about the parts of the story that made me laugh and made me cry. I would like to discuss the "right", the "wrong", and how God does or doesn't work in our lives, based on the story. But telling any of those things would create spoilers and I don't want to do that.  I can say that this story and these characters (and the people the characters represent from our history) will be with me for a very long time. 

Thank you W. Michael Gear for writing this bit of history in this way.

You can find there series here: The Morning River: Sage of the Mountain Sage, Book One: A Classic Historical Western Series 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, December 18, 2023

Reviewing The Republic of Tea Ginger Peach

I recently purchased Ginger Peach full-leaf loose tea from The Republic of Tea and enjoy it so much that I had to make sure to share a review with you. As I am trying to make the move away from soda and toward more natural drinks, I have purchased several different teas and this, by far, is my favorite new tea.

Package of tea
Delicious Ginger Peach Tea

I am not a tea connoisseur. Far from it. However, I know what I like and what I don't like. I do not like sugary, syrupy teas or teas that have what seems like an artifical flavor. Most of the bottled teas that I have tried seem to fall into those categories. So I have been experimenting with herbal teas, such as Mullein, that I have harvested from my yard. I also enjoy Chamomile and plan to grow and harvest my own. In the meantime, I've purchased a large tea cup with a lid and infuser and have begun ordering small amounts of loose leaf tea. 

The Republic of Tea -- Ginger Peach

I purchased a 3.5 oz bag (steeps 50 cups) of full-leaf loose Ginger Peach Black Tea. The packaging describes it as:

"This full-leaf tea offers the natural flavors of a lush, juicy peach seasoned with the tingle of spicy ginger, creating a fresh and flavorful cup" 

I believe that description to be accurate. The peach flavor is wonderful, much like eating a fresh peach on a late summer day balanced with the earthy, spicy flavor of the ginger.

The ingredients list is: Black tea leaves, natural flavor, and ginger.

The packaging is a waxy-like, foil-lined, recloseble envelope. This envelope has kept my tea fresh and at my fingertips on the shelf. 

I chose the Ginger Peach for the possible health benefits and flavor of Ginger.  Because I am not a medical professional I will not repeat the alleged benefits of Ginger, Turmeric, and other herbs and roots. You may have already heard some of the reported health benefits. If not, there is a ton of opinions to be found with an internet search.  I do believe that there are likely some health benefits and if not, I do enjoy the spicy, earthy, or peppery flavors that these herbs and roots provide. I especially like the sweet peach and peppery ginger flavor combination.

Making Loose Left Tea for One

I use my Mueller electric pot to boil the water quickly (and without fear of leaving the stove on as I leave for work in the mornings) and my new tea mug with infuser to steep the tea. Because I prefer iced tea, I then pour my tea into a mason jar filled with ice with top with one of my mason jar lids and a straw. The Ginger Peach tea is delicious warm or iced. I just prefer iced tea. 

I ordered my Ginger Peach tea from Amazon. But the Republic of Tea website is great place to shop also. Whether you are shopping for yourself or a gift from someone else, there is a large variety of teas, sweeteners, mugs, and brewing accessories to choose from 

Additional Links:

I bought my Mueller Electric Kettle in January 2021 and I still use it on a frequent basis. This Kettle is a quality small appliance and hasn't given me a bit of trouble. If you'd like more information you can see my review here. 

I have tried a variety of infusers off and on over the years. My new mug is my favorite by far. I chose the Sweese ceramic 20 oz mug with lid and infuser. The infuser is durable with very small holes; not allowing the tea leaves to end up in my drink. The 20 oz size is great for making my single cup of iced tea. This mug would make a great gift.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, November 20, 2023

Book Review: October in the Earth: A Novel by Olivia Hawker

Mrs. Wensley is a proper preacher's wife living in Harlan County, Kentucky in 1931. Life has always been hard in coal country but it became even more difficult after the Great Crash of 1929. Is it blasphemy that Adella questions her life in the largest home with 100 miles in any direction, her difficulty becoming pregnant after 8 years of marriage, and her role as the preacher's wife? Is it wrong that she disagrees with him in how to respond to the homeless folks passing through? 

book cover photo of October In The Earth

While she ministered to the women of the county tirelessly and she felt as though she were failing. Something did not feel right to Adella. 

"That afternoon, I came up the last shaded rise of the old road with that loaf of bread tucked under my arm, and I rounded the bend, and there before me was home - the only place that had ever felt like home to me, even after I'd settled with my eminent husband in the finest house in the whole danged valley. My parents' place could scarcely be called a house at all." - October in the Earth

Adella was visiting her family's shack when her brother pulled up; pale and shaken. Miners were in the midst of strikes after the mining companies had slashed wages due to the economy. Violence was breaking out, men killed during a shooting related to a mining company. 

"A couple of fellas pulled up in a truck that was all painted with the sign of the Evarts company". "They jumped out of the cab" Benjamin went on, "hollering and wringing their hands about a full-on war."  - October in the Earth

Benjamin drove Adella back to her home so that she could share the news with her husband and they could minister to the local families involved. 

As the plans to help defuse the situation were made, Adella found herself questioning the responses. Internally questioning what should and shouldn't be done - what is a sin and what isn't. Adella finds her husband in the midst of what is clearly a sin and yet she cannot openly address it. She cannot bring herself to question things aloud. 

"It's the baby. My thoughts tripped over one another, tangling themselves. No baby. I haven't given him a family. No wonder he's losing interest." - October in the Earth

Adella visits the Granny Woman, as her mom has advised. The Granny Woman who can help women with their health problems. But it wasn't fertility help that Adella finds during that visit. She finds a woman willing to speak truth aloud. The shocking truth.

In her desperation, she prepares to flee. Adella follows the hobos that she has secretly fed - against her husband's wishes - during their trip through town looking for work. The proper preacher's wife dresses as a man, takes the few belongings she is able to carry, and hops a train away from it all.  The remainder of the story is a peek into the life of hobos on the rails. Riding from one town to the next, in a desperate search for work and food during the great depression. If the hobos are barely able to survive, will Adella be able to transform from a proper preachers wife living in plush comfort - thanks to the collection plate - to a lone woman traveling from town to town to find work? 

October in the Earth by Olivia Hawker

Unfortunately, I am not doing this story justice. I have clearly become an Olivia Hawker fan and find myself drawn into the stories of people living lives very different than mine. Olivia Hawker writes about believable characters with descriptions that immerse me into the story. 

I previously read and reviewed One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow by Olivia Hawker. You can read my review here. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, November 6, 2023

Reviewing What Makes a Great Bowl Cozy

Over the years I've often had a Bowl Cozy in my kitchen. Some I've loved and some were so annoying that they simply weren't used. Bowl Cozies are similar to a hot pad and are used to help you safely handle your bowl of soup, chili, or other hot items. They are quilted pieces of fabric and feel as though they have at least three layers - similar to a hot pad or a quilt. Whether you've ladled your meal from the pot on the stove or are removing your re-heated leftovers from the microwave, you know that those bowls can become uncomfortably hot to the touch. Sometimes, dangerously too hot to handle.

Hot bowl of food and a colorful printed cloth Bowl Cozy

As autumn erases the last chance of warm summer weather, I knew it wouldn't be much longer until I wouldn't be eating meals on deck. So I grabbed my new Bowl Cozy from LoudBrightandHappy, scooped up some steaming hot Impossibly Easy Beef Pot Pie and headed out to the deck.  I am so pleased with my new Bowl Cozy set that I decided to tell you about them.

While I use my Bowl Cozy for hot dishes, my friend has also used his favorite bowl cozy for his daily serving of ice cream. He loves ice cream but does not like to feel the cold bowl. So he keeps his hands warm with the bowl cozy. And I never thought to ask, but I wonder if the bowl cozy also slows the melting of the ice cream since the cozies add some insulation to the bowl. 

My new set of Bowl Cozies came from a shop on Etsy called LoudBrightandHappy. While you can find a Bowl Cozy at many places online, in brick-and-mortar stores, and at craft festivals there are many different versions and I'm just not happy with some of them.

I do not want a Bowl Cozy that is too flat. If it is, I might as well use a regular, square hot pad. I want my Bowl Cozy to hug the bowl.  I want my Bowl Cozy to wrap around my bowl - whether my bowl is a small bowl that comes with most tableware or one of my larger ceramic or polish pottery bowls (think larger spaghetti or salad bowl). However, I don't want my Bowl Cozy to be so large that it flops over into the bowl. And speaking of flopping, I want my Bowl Cozy to have some structure to it: I like when a Bowl Cozy is able to stand on it's own. You'll see that my new Bowl Cozy is made in such a way that the corners automatically tip out and away from my food. 

All of those boxes are checked with my new Bowl Cozies from LoudBrightandHappy Etsy store.

  • well-made with evenly stitched/quilting lines
  • a variety of beautiful colors and patterns to choose from
  • large enough to cover my larger bowls
  • Structured and solid; does not flop down into my bowl

And best of all, excellent customer service. I ordered hand-made Bowl Cozies that were already created. They arrived quickly and with a receipt that included the photo of the item I ordered. 

I couldn't be more thrilled with my new Bowl Cozies. If you've never heard of a Bowl Cozy, you may want to see what they are all about. If you already know and love them, I highly recommend the Bowl Cozy Selection at LoudBrightandHappy

colorful fabric prints
photo taken from above - looking down into the "bowl"

If you prefer shopping on Amazon as opposed to Etsy, you can see some Bowl Cozies here. I have not purchased any from Amazon so you'll have to check the reviews there.

PS. With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays fast approaching, I want to add that a Bowl Cozy makes a GREAT gift. The variety of patterns can make a Bowl Cozy a more personal gift. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, October 30, 2023

Cookbook Review: Betty Crocker Bisquick Impossibly Easy Pies

Imagine, "Pies That Magically Bake Their Own Crust". The Betty Crocker Bisquick Impossibly Easy Pies cookbook has been a very welcomed addition to my kitchen. With just several ingredients, Bisquick, an egg, and milk I have been able to make savory and sweet pies and have over 130 pages of recipes to try.

Homemade chicken pot pie

As someone who isn't incredibly talented in the kitchen but likes good food, I have tried baking pies in the past. (Sams recipe?). Combining my lack of experience with my lack of time and energy, I am always looking for hardy - but extremely easy - meal ideas. These Impossibly Easy Pies hit the mark perfectly. I can whip one together very quickly after work, pop it into the oven, and dinner is ready by the time I walk the dogs and feed the chickens.

My favorite so far is the chicken pot pie.

Stir together these ingredients and place in a pie plate:

  • 2 cups of chunks of cooked chicken (I used canned chicken)
  • 1 cup of frozen peas and carrots (I used a frozen vegetable mix that also included green beans)
  • 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion

Stir together the Bisquick, egg, and milk. Pour this mixture over the vegetable mixture. Bake.

The final product is a hot, filling, delicious, comfort food. In my household, as a single person, I am left with extra portions to use for my lunches at work. 

Betty Crocker Bisquick Impossibly Easy Pies 

I have begun to use a can of cream of chicken soup, the frozen vegetables, and the cooked chicken chunks routinely. Making a creamier version of the meal. 

I did find that my cookbook recommends one part Bisquick to two parts milk. This makes a thin crust that forms more evenly over the top of the dish. The recipes on the internet reverse that to two parts Bisquick and one part milk. I prefer that amount as it makes more of a thick biscuit or dumpling topping (as seen in the my photo). 

homemade chicken pot pie

This week I am going to make a beef pot pie - with a can of vegetable beef soup, frozen vegetables, and grilled chunks of steak.

Additional Tips:

I found my copy of Betty Crocker Bisquick Impossibly Easy Pies cookbook at a store called Ollies for only $3.99. If thrifting is your thing, have a look at the discount stores.

Similar recipes can be found on the internet. I usually refrain from the expense of the cookbook purchase by using the internet. However, in this case, having the book with all of the different menus in one place is easy and inspiring. In this case, having the printed version is helpful to consider the varieties of pies that could be made.

The cookbook has a contents section that lists the pies into chapter based on the ingredients. Such as Beef, Chicken and Turkey, Ham/Sausage/Bacon, Fish and Seafood, Meatless, Fruity, and Sweet-Tooth Temptations. They also list some of the pies into these helpful categories:

  • All-American Supper
  • Summer Dinner on the Deck
  • Mexi-Meal
  • Sunday Brunch
  • Kids' Choice
  • Thanksgiving
  • Special Occasion Dinner
  • Appetizer Party

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

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