Book Review: The More of Less

Happy Sunday! 

Today I want to talk a bit about a fantastic book I read recently:  The More of Less by Joshua Becker.  If you travel in the minimalism circles at all, you’ve probably heard of Joshua from his blog, Becoming Minimalist.  I have been a big fan of Joshua’s blog for awhile now, and I’ve read his e-book, Simplify, a few years ago (also a good read!).  I was excited to read his new book and get deeper into my minimalism journey.

I’ve always been a decently clutter free person.  I don’t like piles of stuff sitting around and overall I don’t like lots of things on surfaces & walls.  I love a more open, fresh, clean feel.  But reading through this book (and previously his blog) really helped me see where I could pare down even more to make my life easier & simpler.  I love this idea!  I don’t have any goals of having a sparse home with one chair and everything white.  I know this is what a lot of people picture when they hear the word “minimalism”.  However, minimalism is not just that…minimalism is what you make it.  Its about you having things you need, things that bring you joy and that don’t hold you back from living life.

Joshua starts his book speaking of how organizing & cleaning his garage kept him from enjoying a beautiful day playing with his child.  That’s when it hit him that owning stuff was taking away from enjoying time with his family.

The More of Less takes you through the process of finding your vision of what you want your life to look like, and then leading you through, step  by step to declutter your home.  Its an inspiring book, and I highly recommend it.  I have not finished our home yet, but its a work in progress.  Throughout the process I’m finding ways to declutter both our possessions as well as things like electronic distractions, activities that take up time & that I really don’t want to have as part of my life, etc.

I will say that even though I haven’t finished the whole process, the things I HAVE changed have really been amazing.  I’m loving the feeling of less and the feeling of freedom that gives.  I’m excited to finish the process…which involves lots of trips to the local thrift store for drop offs! 🙂 

 

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  While the book was given to me, the thoughts & opinions on it are all my own! :-)

Simple Green Cleaning + e-cloth Giveaway!

I have a few main goals in life, and two of them are simplicity and healthy living.  As I’ve been working to minimize my home and see what I truly need & use, I’ve found myself throwing out a lot of those extra cleaning products that I always had around.  Due to the “healthy living” part of my life, I have gotten rid of a lot of cleaning chemicals over time.  Slowly I’ve replaced them with healthy, more natural alternatives.

So when e-cloth contacted me to see if I wanted to try out their cleaning cloths that require NO cleaners at all to work, I was really excited.  I’ve found with green cleaning that you really don’t need a lot to get the job done.  Vinegar works miracles, as does baking soda.  Heck you can conquer the cleaning world with those things! But cleaning with just a cloth & water??  Even simpler!

    e-cloth-range-stovetop-set

Here is some info from e-cloth about how they work:

“Each e-cloth has 1.6 million strands per square inch.  It is this that gives the cloths their remarkable cleaning capability and their high absorbency.

By combining e-cloth’s unique fiber technology with water, the cloths break up, lift, and hold grease, grime, and bacteria, which normal cloths leave behind.

e-cloth removes over 99% of bacteria.”

You can see more about e-cloth and how they work on their website.

I chose the Range & Stovetop Pack, which is available for $14.99 on their site (purchased separately they are $7.99 each).  It came with a range cleaning cloth & a finishing cloth.  The range cloth is smooth on one side and has blue scrubbing stripes on the other side.  The scrubby stripes safely remove dirt and grease without scratching the surface.  The finishing cloth polishes the surface to leave a beautiful shine!

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To use, just get it wet & scrub!  Really that’s it!  No cleaners required.

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Here’s a little before & after.  Now I had actually just cleaned my stove about 2 days before this and it had a little use on this burner.  However that residue you see? That’s what was left over from cleaning it with my previous method (green cleaning spray & a wash cloth).  And after using the e-cloth…the results are beautiful & shiny!  Love it!

2016-08-14 E-Cloth Blog Post

In addition to this range cloth and other kitchen cleaning products, e-cloth also offers cleaning products for your car, pets, general household cleaning, and even your body!

In addition to sharing the range cloth with me, e-cloth would like to share one with one of you as well!  Use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win your own Range cloth.  There are LOTS of ways to get entries so make sure to do them all for your best chance. 🙂 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

The e-cloth Range & Stovetop pack were provided to me by e-cloth to try and review.  The opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Some late winter knitting

So its the end of March and I finally took some pics of my last knitting project that I finished a few weeks back.  I knitted this cowl that I received as part of a Chatterbox to give my review on their kits (pattern & yarn).  I had a hard time deciding which kit to try, but ended up deciding on this moss stitch cowl because I knew it would be great for keeping my neck and face warm on cooler winter walks.  Plus I loved the look of the stitch!

Finished Cowl

The kit I got came with some of their Cloudborn Highland Roving (100% wool) in Dolphin Blue.  The yarn was soft and the cowl I made is so warm!  The yarn knit up beautifully.

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The pattern was simple to follow and very quick to knit.  I did have to make a minor change, though.  The pattern calls for a size US 17, 16″ circular.  I had a hard time finding this for under $20 and I didn’t really want to spend that, so I went with a size 15 that I was able to get for about $8.  I cast on an extra 8 stitches (50 total), and did an extra 4 rows to make it reach the right size.

Cowl on me

As part of trying out the Craftsy Cloudborn kit, they also gave me a special link to pass onto others for some great savings on their yarn & kits.

Otherwise I actually haven’t done a whole lot of knitting all winter.  Normally I end up doing a lot but besides this I did learn how to do Tunisian crochet and I made up a bunch of wash cloths.  These were great to do while we would watch something on tv or just to pass time on a cold winter day.

 


 

The kit & yarn were provided to me by Craftsy through a Chatterbox House Party for my review.  The opinions expressed are 100% my own.

 

Book Review: Everyday Detox

When I was asked to review a copy of Everyday Detox by Megan Gilmore (of detoxinista.com), I was really curious what it would hold.  I just never know what I’m going to see out of something labeled “detox”.  Overall I think our bodies are pretty capable of detoxing themselves provided we feed ourselves good, whole foods.  It may take time, but there are no special shakes, smoothies, juices, pills, etc. that are really needed to do this.  Thankfully Gilmore isn’t promoting a juice cleanse or pills, but a focus on real food!  That is one thing I loved about the book.

Everyday Detox Book - Bacon & Whipped Cream

Her focus is on optimal digestion by eating certain food groups separately from one another, with the exception of non-starchy veggies that you can eat anytime (as well as fats).  Meals are eating 3-4 hrs apart and you pick one food category + non-starchy veggies per meal.  While she goes into her reasoning on “why”, I’m not sure if its backed up by science or any sort of trials.  I’m not saying its BAD to eat this way by any means, I’m just not 100% convinced its NECESSARY.  But that’s just my thoughts on the eating plan she promotes.

The recipes themselves all look pretty great; some are a little different than what I would normally make, but many are delicious.  Even better, all include great, real foods!

One thing you should know going into this book, however, is that it seems very focused on a vegetarian (or at the least pescatarian) lifestyle.  While she includes meats in the Animal Protein category at the beginning of the book, there are only THREE recipes with meat in the entire book, and all 3 of those are fish.  So if you are looking for more standard meat dinner meals, you’ll have to look for a different book. 

Anyone who knows me, knows that I *heart* meat…so this lack of meat was a disappointment to me.  I don’t just love meat for the taste, but for the great nutrition it offers – especially when you’re looking at getting a complete protein.  While beans, nuts, & veggies do offer some protein, its really hard to get the complete protein your body needs without meat.  Additionally, when I took 2 of her daily “meal plans” and calculated the macro nutrients, I found that one had about 49g protein and the other 39g. While this # does fall into the guidelines for an “average” 135 lb woman (RDA = weight * .36), keep in mind that if you are heavier, or if you are actively exercising (strength or endurance training), your protein totals should be higher! (Training adults should get .6-.9 * weight for protein).  Here is a great article about protein that goes more in depth.

So in conclusion…its not a bad book!  The recipes are good, and the layout & photos are beautiful to look at.  Its cleanly laid out and easy to navigate.  Its filed with great, whole food recipes and encourages you to eat real food.

For more details on the book, including some snapshots of recipes, etc., visit the Detoxonista’s book on her site.

 

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  While the book was given to me, the thoughts & opinions on it are all my own! :-)

HipZiPP Review + Discount & Giveaway!

A look at my calendar shows me that October is so near to being over; and I am left wondering… what?  The past few weeks have been a blur of school/volunteer things and crazy running around looking for pieces of Halloween costumes for my kids.  Thankfully, it has all been enjoyable, but it also means I’ve gotten behind on other things!

One of them is getting this review written for a really great product I tried from SL3S:  the HipZiPP.  I mentioned this exercise belt & their kickstarter recently on the blog, and SL3S contacted me & offered to send me one of my own to try.  Of course I said yes!  So I sent them my info, and in not too long a beautiful Pink Lipstick HipZiPP showed up in my mail box.

HipZiPP @ Bacon & Whipped Cream
Awesome, right??

The first thing I noticed was its silky soft, light weight material.  It is made of a Nylon/Spandex blend, and after taking a run with it, I was in love with that material.  Its totally breathable – no pools of sweat under where it was! 

My second favorite thing about this belt was the gigantic pockets!  Seriously… I’ve had other exercise belts or jackets that I’ve worn for running and even though I don’t have a super big phone, I always felt like I was cramming it into a pocket.  I always run with my phone for safety & in case my kids’ school needs to find me, so having a spot for it is a must.  These pockets fit my phone very easily & their website claims it even fits an iPhone 6+!  Sweet! 🙂    The HipZiPP has 2 of these zippered pockets, plus a hidden pocket that holds a credit card/id.

And how does it perform?  In a word: Awesome!  Their promotional video claimed no bouncing or chafing and I found this to be very true.  There was no movement throughout my runs….I pretty much forgot it was there.

The only downside that I experienced at all with this belt was getting it to lie flat.  I think this is due to the soft/lightweight material used.  Once I got it on, I had to mess with it a bit to get the seams to line up nicely and to lie nice and flat & not bunched up.  This is minor, though, and pretty much just a cosmetic thing that wouldn’t “need” fixing to run, but … well that’s just how I am. 😉

Regardless, I love the belt and I’m looking forward to many, many more runs with it! And its not just for running – its great for walking, hiking, biking, lifting, etc!  I am really loving it, and that’s why I want to help hook you all up with one too!

Check out all the colors they offer on their HipZiPP site & use the code  HZ10 to get $10 off your order!

HipZiPP Colors

Win a HipZiPP!!

In addition, SL3S has offered to let me give away a HipZiPP to one of my readers!  This runs through next Wed – good luck! 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* Disclosure: SL3S provided me with a HipZiPP for the purpose of review.  However all of the comments & opinions are 100% mine. 🙂

What’s New & 5 Things I’m Excited About

Happy September, everyone!  Summer was… fast.  Good, but fast.  I swear, the older my kids get (both in middle school this year!!!), the faster the days fly by.  We kept ourselves entertained with various camping trips, hiking, swim lessons, tennis lessons, ice skating lessons (indoor of course! 🙂  ), and a good dose of being lazy. 😉

Berries by the bay

However, as it always goes, summer has ended and Back to School is here.  My girls started this last week and so far things are going well.  Lots of adjustments as my youngest began middle school.  Crazy how time flies.

Hiking the trails
Overlooking the bay 
So I wanted to take some time to share a few things that have been rolling through my mind and share a little list of…

5 New Things I’m Excited About

1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Life Changing Magic of Tidying UpThis book by Marie Kondo was amazing.  I read it last spring and it really got my mind thinking about the things in our home, and making life simpler.  I’ve been increasingly interested in moving towards a more minimalist lifestyle.  Not like…crazy minimalism, but a much more simplified life; which includes the “stuff” we have as well as the “stuff” we do.  Kondo’s book was amazing.  She teaches how to go through your home & belongings “all in one go” (meaning about 6 months time) to get rid of the things that do not “spark joy”.  As you move through the different categories, you evaluate each item based on whether it sparks joy or not.  This is a change from many organizational methods out there that ask “Have I used this in the last 6 months?” or “Will I use it?”  I highly recommend the book!  Check it out…seriously!

2. The Graston Technique

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Source: www.engineeredper4mance.com

For the past year I’ve been dealing with pain in my posterior tibial tendon (or in regular words, the inside of my ankle).  I would have pain throughout my whole run, and for at least 2 days after; pain that could make me kind of limp.  I avoided longer runs, because the pain would intensify enough that I would change my gait…which any runner knows is a bad thing!  I mentioned the pain to my chiropractor and he immediately told me about the Graston Technique.  Another chiropractor in his practice (who also happens to be his son!) had been certified in it, and had been using the technique on runners with various issues with great results.  I won’t lie…its a bit painful at times, however the results I’ve been seeing so far are tremendous!  Within a week I had significantly less pain during runs, and the lingering pain was much less.  Now after a month of treatments, I barely have any pain during running, and nothing the next day (or if there is, its very, very minimal).  I’m so excited about this!  I highly recommend looking into this if you experience unresolved pain during runs or any working out.  Check out the website for more info on the details of what it is and how it works.

3. HipZIPP Kickstarter

HipZIPP KickstarterI’ve always loved neat running gadgets.  Now, I’m not one to go frivolously buying anything new or pretty, but I really love things that make my workouts easier & simpler.  Enter the HipZIPP!  The HipZIPP is a running/exercise belt that stays in place, is made of a breathable fabric, and offers a variety of pockets to hold your essentials while you run.  How can you not need this? 🙂  They are doing a Kickstarter to help get this project off the ground and on the market.  And right now you can get in on it and snag one for only $15, shipped.  I think that’s a pretty sweet deal.  I am excited to try this product.  Check out their Kickstarter video and see what you think!

4.  Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind

Clean Eating With A Dirty MindI love me a good Paleo based book, and I have been hearing a LOT of talk about this one.  And how can you not want to check this out with the most amazing looking CHOCOLATE donuts on the cover?  This book is written by Vanessa Barajas, who runs a blog by the same name.  Her blog is already filled with delicious things I want to make and eat – I can’t wait to try out this cook book!

5. Lego Molds

legomoldsI’ve had gelatin and homemade gummies on my mind for a long time.  I love my Great Lakes gelatin!  There are so many good things for you in it.  I’ve made a few jiggler or gummy recipes for the kids, but I really want to incorporate it into their diet more regularly.  So I’ve been browsing Pinterest to find some to try.  My daughter ran across this mold on Amazon, and thought it was so fun.  I agree!  Despite their increasing age, they both still love their legos.  This fun set of molds is going to be in my next Amazon shopping cart!  I’ve created a Pinterest board just for these recipes if you’d like to check some out!

Follow Stephani’s board * Paleo – Gummies & Fruit Snacks on Pinterest.
 

I hope September is starting off well for you!  Tell me what new products or things you’re excited about!

Book Review: The Paleo Chef

Well I’m back with another book review – this time a Paleo specific book called The Paleo Chef by Pete Evans.  This 200+ page book is filled with beautiful photos and delicious, unique recipes.  I loved seeing his different takes on even basic things like salmon or fried fish.  Evans has a way of adding a chef’s flair without making the recipe overly complicated or too strange (because you know you’ve seen those recipes that leave you wondering “what is that ingredient? I’ve never heard of that!”)

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I loved his recipe for Roasted Winter Vegetables (I’m a big parsnip fan!) that included a whole head of garlic (yum!).  We also enjoyed the recipe for Surf & Turf Tacos.  This one threw the kids for a loop at first.  They couldn’t get over having shrimp in their tacos.  My hubby and I, on the other hand, dove right in and they were fantastic!

A few of the recipes do get a little involved and might have some things that a more novice Paleo eater might be unsure of (like the Chocolate Beet Mudcakes that involve beets, currants, dates, flax & more), however there are plenty of delicious options that are great for beginners (Chocolate Brownies!!!). You can check out some of his other recipes on his blog.

Check out this excerpt from the book below:

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  While the book was given to me, the thoughts & opinions on it are all my own! :-)

Mini-Update & Book Review: Strong is the New Skinny

Some days I question my ability as a blogger, but then other days I realize that life is what it is.  I write when I feel inspired, and when I am at a loss for words (or not feeling it), I don’t! Life has been good, just the normal busy.  I spent the fall learning about kettle bells and growing to love them!  Right now I’m just keeping a steady workout routine going and contemplating my next goal/challenge.  My friend and I did decide to start a push up challenge, though.  In addition to normal workouts, we’re doing 25 pushups/day Feb-April.  Which works out to 2225 push ups total.  Though I’m guessing the # will be higher because sometimes in class we do way more than 25!

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But today I’m here to do a little book review on the most recent fitness book I finished:  Strong is the New Skinny.  I want to start out by saying that while this phrase has kind of become an internet “fitspo” inspiration, I’m not always crazy about it. I like the idea behind it, but most memes filled with this phrase only show super skinny, ripped girls.  Strength comes in all sizes; and I know a lot of non-super skinny girls that are WAY stronger than any fitspo meme out there.

*phew*

Ok that aside, let’s get to the book review!  The book starts out with some basic fitness talk & advice.  This was one of my favorite parts of the book, because it focused so much on the mental aspect of getting healthy & fit.  The mental part of exercise is huge; sometimes just getting past our mind talking us out of a workout is 90% of the battle!  I loved the advice for getting motivation and staying motivated.

Another part of the book I really liked was strengthening and cardio exercises/workouts included.  The authors created a great list of basic moves for the whole body.  This is both a great starting point for someone looking to add some strength training to their life, as well as for those just looking to try something new.

There were 2 parts of the book that I wasn’t as crazy about, however.  The first were the fitness tests included that allow you to judge your current fitness level.  The concept is great, however some of the wording wasn’t clear, and I found the step test to be very subjective since the speed you do it will greatly affect the outcome/result.

The second was the nutritional information. The basics of it were good, but I’m not personally a fan of “diets” that bash healthy saturated fats while telling you to eat canola oil (please don’t!  Its bad stuff – read this article!)  I also lean more on the side of a good solid 3 meals/day, where she likes the small meals & snacks method.  For more information on the benefits of eating less frequently (vs. the commonly talked about “frequent small meals”), check out this article by Robb Wolf on Meal Frequency.

All in all, it was a pretty good book on fitness and taking charge of your health.  I think reading it, especially for the initial part on finding your motivation, is a great idea.  Despite my constant reading of fitness & health information, I almost always come away from a new book or blog post with another bit of helpful information.

Below is a little excerpt from the book for you to check out – Happy reading!

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  While the book was given to me, the thoughts & opinions on it are all my own! :-)

Book Review: Meat & Potatoes

I would say that anyone who knows me, knows I’m a big fan of meat!  And while beef probably rates #1 for me, I rotate through meat of all kinds with our dinner menu.  I’m always looking for new ways to cook up roasts and steaks from the 1/4 cow we purchase every year, so when I got the chance to look over & review the book Meat & Potatoes by Rahm Fama, I jumped at the chance!

Book Review - Meat & Potatoes - Bacon @ Whipped cream

The book did not disappoint either!  The author has chapters for Beef, Pork, Chicken/Turkey, Lamb & Game meat as well as some extra one pot recipes.  Each chapter begins with the basics of buying, storing, and cooking that specific meat.  That is followed up with numerous mouth watering recipes.  And while the meat certainly takes the center stage, I was almost equally excited by the various side dishes he included to go with them!  While many were not “strict” paleo, a good variety were, and many of the rest were gluten free (or you could possibly tweak them to be).  I loved his ample use of parsnips and sweet potatoes (two favs of mine!)

One meal we all loved was the Pork Adovada (a slow cooker recipe!  bonus!) with spanish rice.  Rice is a sometimes food for me as I tolerate it well overall.  His recipe for both the pork and the rice were fantastic!  The entire family loved this meal.

Book Review - Meat & Potatoes - Bacon @ Whipped cream

Check out this excerpt from the book:

I have a list of recipes I can’t wait to try yet from this book like the Grilled Pork T-Bone with Grilled Balsamic Red Onions and the Pot Roast with Horseradish Mashed Parsnips & Potatoes.  Yum….and now I’m hungry!  I should rethink writing tasty food book reviews when its getting closer to dinner time. 😉  I hope you’ll check out this book and let me know what you think! 

What’s your favorite meat to eat?

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  While the book was given to me, the thoughts & opinions on it are all my own! :-)

Book Review: The Nourished Kitchen

As you probably know by now, I love food, and I never shy away from pouring through a new cook book!  Especially when the book is based on real, wholesome, and traditional foods.  This is why I was really excited to receive a copy of The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther to read & review.

TheNourishedKitchen
The author takes you through each area of food (produce, meat of all kinds, fermented, etc) and offers a wealth of information on how to choose quality food ingredients as well as WHY you should be choosing them and what their benefits are.

While this is not a paleo book, anyone who desires to learn more about sourcing & using good quality food will enjoy this book and get a lot out of it.  The author focuses on how to obtain and use quality meat & produce to create delicious and nutritious recipes.  While some of the recipes had my kids wondering what I’d make for dinner (not up for Stewed Beef Heart?? 😉  ), there were so many new and delicious ideas for cooking meals that I can’t wait to try them! I was especially excited about the section on fish that included some different (yet not crazy) recipes for cooking fish & seafood.  One I can’t wait to try is “Pan Seared Halibut with Melted Cherry Tomatoes & Tarragon”!  I’m hoping that some of the different combinations of flavors in these will get my kids more on board with eating fish.  (A mom can hope, right??)

The Nourished Kitchen is first a cook book, but it is so much more than that.  Its filled with over 160 recipes (with beautiful photos!), but the extra information for the how & why of choosing certain foods makes this book a great overall resource.  I feel like you can tell people to eat something over and over, but I don’t think people should just eat something because someone told them to.  Its important to know the WHY. Check out a preview of this book below to see a little glimpse of what its about.  I’m looking forward to making many of these recipes and trying some new things!  Happy cooking!

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  While the book was given to me, the thoughts & opinions on it are all my own! :-)