Saturday, November 29, 2014

Book Review of The Chia Cookbook by Janie Hoffman, founder of Mama Chia

I was so excited to have a copy of this book sent to me to review because I am interested in learning more about the hype around Chia Seeds.  I decided to poke around different websites and look through different books to learn more.  

Here is what most websites are saying about it:

Chia seeds are a rich source of Omega 3s.  They have more protein than other plant sources of protein like Soy.  Chia seeds also have the added benefit of fiber.  The information is pretty much the same from site to site.  Some offer health benefits as well, but none of that can be proven through published scientific studies. 

Janie Hoffman starts the book off by going over her personal health experience with Chia seeds and how they have benefited her health.  She also describes why she started her company “Mama Chia” and how that has inspired her to share her recipes to help others learn how to incorporate Chia seeds into their diet.  (By the way, her “Mama Chia” beverages are delicious and can be found through a variety of retail sources.)  On pages 4 and 5, she has an easy to read Nutritional Profile for Chia seeds.  She also offers tips on where to buy Chia seeds, how to prepare them and how to store them.  The “Chia Basics” section of the book is really informative and worth reading if you are thinking of adding the seeds to your diet.

Personally, if there is a chance that a fiber or seed can offer me some health benefits, I am willing to try it.  However, since I was going to see my doctor for my yearly check, I decided to check with my doctor.  Interestingly enough, I found out that some folks who may suffer from diverticulitis and other intestinal issues should be careful about introducing Chia seeds into their diet.  So be sure to check with your doctor to make sure that the seeds will not cause you adverse affects.  Luckily for me, my doctor was supportive of my adding these to my diet. 

So now I was prepared to add chia seeds into my diet.  Thankfully, this book offered some great recipes to introduce Chia seeds into my diet.  The recipe section of the book is broken down into sections:

·      Juices, Smoothies, & Shakes
·      Healthy Mornings
·      Snacks and Small Bites
·      Salads and Soups
·      Main Dishes
·      Desserts, Sweet Nibbles, and Cocktails

Since the publishers did not provide an image of the table of contents of this book on Amazon, I am attaching it to this review.  I personally find it helpful to know in advance what types of recipes a cookbook offers.  This way I can make a better choice in my book purchases.

My favorite recipes in this book are:
·      Serrano pineapple-papaya smoothie
·      The Mango Lassi
·      Chia hummus with sun-dried tomatoes and za’tar (I used lime instead of the za’tar)
·      Raspberry-chia dressed arugula salad with mint and almonds. If arugula is too spicy for you, you can use fresh greens instead.  The dressing is great on both.

Since Chia seeds tend to absorb the liquid they are in, I am surprised that she did incorporate them into cocktails.  I imagine that it might have an impact of how alcohol is absorbed into the system through these cocktails.  I have not tried any of those out but if anyone does try them out, please leave a comment and let me know how they tasted and if you had any adverse affects from the alcohol and chia seed mix. 

The inside back cover of The Chia Cookbook has a very helpful conversion chart to help the reader in working with the recipes.  I found this book to be a very helpful resource for information on Chia seeds, as well as some great recipes.  Thank you to the author and blogging for books for providing me a review copy of this book.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Citysketch London: A Doodle Book for Dreamers: A Fun Pocket Travel Journal

Citysketch London is a cute light weight doodle book with nearly 100 creative prompts to inspire sketches of the city.  If you are planning on going to London or just dream about it, this is a fun book to inspire your own quick sketches or doodles.

The Book offers over 90 creative prompts to help the reader with ideas.  I love to use sketch books as traveling journals where I can put tickets, jot down thoughts and other fun paraphernalia  that I may collect on my trips.  This Citysketch London has some interesting information on different locations in London and gives the reader some some ideas for choosing a location or subject to sketch.

The prompts are easy to do like in the "Borough Market" section, the authors talk about some of varieties of foods sold in the area.  It also offers a great tips like warning the reader that the market is busy on Saturday mornings and will be crowded so the reader can plan accordingly.  Also the prompt for that section is to "complete a sketch of your favorite foods" with a few other ideas.  The prompts are all straight forward and easy to do. The main points is that the authors are trying to encourage the reader to actively participate in their surroundings and take note of the many small and interesting things London has to offer. The book provides some space for doodles or to adhere paraphernalia. I would say you have a half page of drawing space for most prompts.  Which is enough room for a quick sketch or to use for a short journal entry.  The video will provide a better idea of the space available for it.

Of course you do not have to do the prompts but they are fun and provide some interesting information along the way.  If you do take it on the road with you, I recommend using a pen loop or band to attach a pen or pencil to the sketch book to make it even easier to sketch when inspiration hits.

What types of sketch or journal books do you like to take on the road with you?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Origami 365 Kit by Taro Yaguchi | Book Review

Origami 365: Includes 365 Sheets of Origami Paper for A Year of Folding Fun is a wonderful way to become familiar with Taro Yaguchi's Origami Method where they teach by each individual fold and not by
projects.  The reader is encouraged to
master each fold first and then once the reader has mastered it, then they
should move onto the next one. 

You may wonder why this is important? Well the more
difficult Origami folds are much easier to tackle if you have a good base to
work from.  All the origami folds in this
book begin with some basic folds called a “Kata”.  The reader is encouraged to use patience to
learn the folding techniques and master the various techniques covered in this

The Kit Contains:

  • 1 full-colored book
  • Clear step-by-step instructions
  • Easy to follow diagrams to learn the basic folds
  • 12 Origami Projects
  • 365 Sheets of origami paper in a variety of different colors,
  • patterns and sizes

Origami is a wonderful way to teach young and old alike,
spatial relationships.  The process of
learning the different folds in the order that Taro presents them is a great
way to teach young people how to follow directions, interpret patterns and how
to make three-dimensional pieces.  This
kit is a great way to introduce someone to Origami with everything they need in
one easy to use and store kit.

Monday, November 3, 2014

COPPER SOLE™ Sock Review

I am fairly picky about what type of socks I buy for my family members because any sock has to be well constructed, be made of quality materials and still be comfortable to wear. The Copper Sole socks really fit that requirement nicely, addition to all health benefits they offer. 

The Copper Sole socks are a specialty sock made of 58% Copper Poly, 26% Polyester, 15% Nylon and 1% Lycra Spandex that are made in the U.S.A.  The Lycra is what makes the fit so nice.  The socks are unisex so men and women can wear them.

The Copper Poly is what gives the feet benefit while wearing these luxurious socks.  The socks themselves are very soft and comfortable. However it is the Copper Poly claims that I am really interested in.  The company claims that the socks are Anti Fungal and that they help athletes prevent getting Athlete's Foot (yes you can still get Athlete's foot if you don't wear foot protection gear in public showers....the sock can't work miracles) from strenuous workouts and sweat.  

I like to hike and that can be really hard on my feet.  I wear a quality pair of boots but have had a hard time finding socks that really provide a good amount of cushion to the sole of my foot when doing these hikes.  I have purchased several different types of socks from specialty stores and they were not cheap.  One pair was $25 at REI, however, I expect to pay more for the type of protection I was seeking for my feet while hiking.

Luckily for me, I was recently sent three pairs of the new Copper Sole socks to test out and give my opinion on by the folks at BzzAgent.  My first test was to take a close look at the stitching on the toe of the sock.  If you hike a lot, you know that stitching can cause problems if it is not done correctly.  I was happy to find that the stitching was done so that it lays fairly flat and will not rub on the tops of my toes.

The next test was to check out the tufting on the sock. It has to be soft and thick.
Again, I was pleased to find it was thicker than my most expensive pair of hiking socks.

As for the Anti Fungal nature of the product in the Cupron Anti Fungal Fibers (EPA Registered), well I don't have the problem so I can not answer that issue directly.  However, the socks did keep my feet dry and were very comfortable to hike and walk in.  Since my feet were so well protected, it allowed me to walk with out any issues of tired and sore feet.  This is a plus when you are very active. I really like these socks and plan to buy a couple more pairs to have on hand.  The retail price on these is around $25 a pair.  They are not cheap but then again, they are not everyday kind of socks.  The price point is about right for specialty socks. I also have some discount coupons that I can apply towards a future purchase that will bring that price down a bit.

There are a lot of other similar socks being sold on Amazon. However, the quality can really vary.  Look for the trademark on the sock to ensure that you are getting the real Copper Sole sock.  Below is a picture that shows the trademark on the cuff of the sock.

Note: These socks are really thick and will be less comfortable if you shoes are too tight.  

If you are a physically active person, stand all day on your feet or need socks with the speciality Cupron Anti fungal Fibers then these socks are worth a try.  Once again, I would like to thank BzzAgent for sending me these socks to try.  I don't think I would have known about them otherwise.

Update: I have had these for almost a month know and have worn them to work and for hiking.  They have held up well to multi washings and wearing them with different types of shoes and/or boots.  I am really impressed with the quality of these socks.

By the way, if you are interested in trying out new products, getting great coupons or just like to give your personal opinion on products, you should sign up with BzzAgent.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A "Harry Potter" meets "Dr. Who" Themed Magical Tea Party at Whimsic Alley in Los Angeles, CA

Whimsic Alley is not just a Harry Potter merchandise store, it is more of Harry Potter meets Doctor 

Who Experience.  The store stocks Harry Potter, Doctor Who,

Games of Thrones and other cool merchandise, like the "Bad Wolf" teapot,

wands, toys and so much more.

When you walk in the door, you are immediately greeted by the fun and friendly staff at the store.

The store is closing its "Great Hall" at the end of October and expanding the merchandise area,  so this was our last chance to attend an afternoon tea in the hall.  The tea I attended was a "Harry Potter" themed tea.  It even came with handmade invitations.

The hallway leading to the "Great Hall" is very Harry Potter themed and features a cute alcove that features some great photo spots like the one below.
The side wall also has been covered in wall paper that depicts Hogwarts (another great photo spot).

Another spot depicting the owl and poster of Sirius Black.

The tea offered traditional tea fare of tasty sandwiches and treats.

It was decorated in a Halloween theme.

You could even have Butter Beer.

They even had a treat trolley that came through offering some fun Harry Potter themed merchandise.

Our tea was a Halloween Costumed Themed Event which made it even more fun with all the fun
photo opportunities the store offers.  One of our friends decided to dress as a "Weeping Angel" from

the Dr. Who fame.  Since the store had a Tardis, these made for some fun and silly moments like the Alice in Wonderland meets a Weeping Angel moment below.

If you are looking for hard to find Harry Potter merchandise then this store may be helpful to you.

5464 Wilshire Blvd, 

Los Angeles, CA 90036


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Candy Aisle Crafts by Jodi Levine : Create Fun Edible Craft Projects for Your Family

Candy Aisle Crafts by Jodi Levine

Candy Aisle Crafts: Create Fun Projects with Supermarket Sweets by Jodi Levine helps you start your holiday plans with some very creative and easy candy craft projects. Jodi Levine was a craft editor for Martha Stewart for 19 years.  She is very experienced and Knowledgeable in creating exciting craft projects.  With her new book, the focus is on on Candy crafts and the many sweet creations that can achieved with them.  The reader gets to pick the complexity of the candy project they want to tackle.  From a simple candy bowl made from hard candies to themed lollipops.  This book is geared towards families, you don't have to own fancy equipment (beyond an oven to melt candy) to do the projects in this book. Most of the supplies to make the projects in this book can be purchased at your local supermarket or Target.  Below is a picture of one of the projects in the book.  I have removed the instructions so you will have to look at the book to actually read them.  However, the photo gives you a great example of how well the steps are photographed and presented.  A child could easily follow these instructions (except for the oven part) to create these darling flowers.
Easy Cookie Flowers by Jodi Levine

This book has enough projects and tips to help the reader plan some fun holiday crafts.  A lot of these projects would be great scout craft projects to celebrate the upcoming holidays.  There are some great kids projects that require minimal tools, that they can do on their own.  I found that most of these projects are perfect family craft night.  You can work with your children to create some really fun projects to use for gifts or just treats.  There are some projects in the book that involve melting both hard candies and chocolate, so I would recommend working with the kids if they decide to try some of the more advanced projects like the "Dot Flowers" project on page 16.  That project involves melting hard candy in an oven, so it is best to have the kids work with an adult to avoid any potential injuries.

I love that "Candy Aisle Crafts" provides excellent DIY tips and project tutorials for fun edible gifts for a birthday party or holiday celebrations. The are some fun ideas for combining cupcakes and candies to make darling table top decorations for a baby shower or birthday party. There are also projects for decorating some whimsical cakes.  I am not a fan of wearing candy as jewelry but if you are then there are two candy necklace projects you may want to look at in the book. There are some great projects for crafting with preschoolers.  If you love to home craft then this book will appeal to you.

Personally, I love all the creative ways that the author uses gumdrops throughout the book.  One of my favorites is the Necco Gumdrop Bees that are created to decorate drinking glasses at celebrations.  The book has some great photos that clearly show the proper steps to achieve success with the candy projects.  If you need some great kids craft inspiration or just love crafting with candy, the easy to follow instructions and photos will inspire you to try creating all types of fun candy decorative treats.

Note: I received this book free from in exchange for my honest review.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fun and Fantastical Hats to Knit by Mary Scott Huff Provides Great Knitting Hat Patterns for Men, Woman and Children.

by Mary Scott Huff is a great collection of knitting patterns for hats.  This book offers some great creative and whimsical patterns to knit for kids and adults then consider this book. It offers a great selection of knitting patterns for hats.  I was looking for a creative kids knitted hat pattern to make and I was delighted to find so many fun patterns to choose from. My favorite is the Mad Hatter Style Hat that is a great knit hat pattern for kids. I love that the author has included the pattern for the ears, which really make the hat more whimsical. My daughters love the pattern and can't wait for me to finish the hat (hopefully in time for Halloween).

Animal and character knit hats are becoming more and more popular and luckily this book offers some fun cool patterns. There is also a great Green Man Pattern, Medusa Pattern and the Chlamydosaurus Pattern that I found to be quite fun. The Green Man pattern is for the more advanced Knitter. The Gargoyle hat is cute and not too scary for the little ones.   The book does offer some easy knit hat patterns as well that make great knit hats for boys and girls.

Here is a short list of the patterns that you will find in this fun book:

Architeuthis (a Cephalopod), Baldy (Eagle Head), Blue Crab (would look great in other colors too), California Roll (a Sushi inspired hat), Cherry Pie (looks like a homemade cherry pie), Crown Royal (looks like a kings crown), Elfin (cute), Flower Fairy (whimsical), Frilly (Chlamydosaurus), Gargoyle (adorable), Green Man (Challenging but do able), Hedgehog Helmet (cute), Jellyfish, Medusa (fun), Mercury, Rabble of Butterflies, Scotty, Sugar Skull, Tea Party (my kids love this one), and Tortoise (another fabulous idea). Additionally the Book has some very helpful technique and stitching information for the reader.

I really love the creativity and easy to follow patterns that this book offers. If you are new to knitting and do not know how to read a pattern, there are great videos on YouTube that teach it. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for new fun hat patterns to knit.

What type of patterns do you enjoy knitting?  Leave a comment below to let me know.