August Book Plan {TBR List Linkup}

8.01.2015


Having a huge To Be Read list feels overwhelming. The feeling of wanting to read them all RIGHT NOW can't be an uncommon one! So, this month, I've decided to create my own reading challenge with a list of books I'd like to make it through this month. Five seems like a reasonable amount to read in addition to the ARCs that I'm working my way through.

This post has a TBR Linkup at the bottom so you can link your own list!

Here we go:

1. A book from one of the Quarterly Book Riot Boxes


The Book of Strange New Things
by Michel Faber
















2. Something outside by usual genres 


Broken Monsters 
by Lauren Beukes
















This is also the book from Quarterly that has been sitting on my shelf the longest.

3.  A library book that is due soon 


Room by Emma Donoghue















4. A book I keep meaning to get to


The Three Body Problem
 by Cixin Liu
Translated by Ken Liu



















5. The oldest book on by TBR list


Enchanter's End Game 
(Belgariad, #5) 
by David Eddings

















I'm going to have to find a summary of the beginning of this series to  remember where  the story is!



{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

UrthBox Review {Subscription Box Coupon Code}

7.31.2015


The Box:

UrthBox

Find UrthBox on:

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The Cost and Coupon Codes:

Starts at $8.99/month for 6 item box
Use the code use the code CRUNCHWEEK for $5 OFF your first box
Use the code julylarge10off for $10 off a large box (expires 7/31)

What's Included:


UrthBox includes healthy snacks, beverages and more, the number of which varies depending on which box you choose. They have plans for at least 6, 12, 17, or 24 products in a box. The snacks, beverages, and other products are all aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Review of UrthBox:

I give UrthBox serious credit for its ability to provide a box full of a wide variety of snacks, beverages, and products. Included in the box I received were a range of items including popcorn, snack mixes, dried fruits, nuts, and bars. I received the small sized Classic box, which promises at least 12 items and costs $16.99. The box I received included 15:

Laiki Red Rice Crackers - $1.25
Rebel Kitchen Mylk Coffee - $1.40
Country House Sesame and Nuts - $4.50
Inno Specialty Foods Coconut Medley - $4.00
Sheffa Snack Mix - $1.00
Spiced & Infused Popcorn - $1.15
Dude Wipes - $0.40

I also enjoyed the opportunity to discover new products that I otherwise would not have run across. We have a serious late night snacking routine in this house, so having some healthy alternatives on the shelves is a welcome addition.

Ruckpack Energy Shot - $2.90
Sol Simple Organic Sun Mix - $7.40 for similar
Aunt Sally's Creamy Pralines - $4.10

Matt's Munchies Banana Coconut - $1.90
Smarty Pants Adult Vitamins - $1.40

Sheffa Savory Bar - $1.10
Roo'Bar - $1.90
PALEOLife Bar - $4.20
The total value of this box came to a whopping $38.60, which is more than double the cost of the box. Reviews of Urthbox have been somewhat mixed lately, but it appears that there was just a one-month aberration. We'll have to keep an eye on UrthBox to make sure its quality and value remain high.

{Urthbox sent this box complimentary in exchange for an honest review. This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

Flavour Delivered Review {Subscription Box}

7.29.2015


The Box: 

Flavour Delivered

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What's Included:



Flavour Delivered is a monthly Indian Spice Kit that includes recipe card, a shopping list, and all the ground spices required to prepare a curry and traditional Indian side dishes for four people. You can choose from meat-based, fish-based, or vegetable-based curries, or a mix of all three.

Flavour Delivered Review:

I experienced a sharp intake of breath when I opened this box! It was so artfully packaged with attention to detail, like noting "side" for the spices for the side dish and including a detailed and easy to read shopping list.


Let's just skip to the most important part - the Balti Beef dish and naan were so amazingly good! My husband is already asking me to make it again. Here was the finished product:


Just looking at the picture makes me want to prepare this dish again! The recipe was easy to follow, with clear instructions. I admired how it relied primarily on fresh, unprocessed, ingredients. The spices were clearly labeled, well organized, with a fresh scent and appearance.


I was excited that Flavour Delivered introduced me to a new cooking technique - while I have toasted spiced before, I have never toasted then crushed them myself, nor have I ever made naan from scratch.

While making the dish, I ran across a couple issues that I raised with Flavour Delivered and they have already addressed each one for future boxes. For example, two items were listed on the shopping list but not the recipe, or vice versa. I also had to go to a specialty store to get three of the items (ghee, garlic ginger paste, and cornflour), but Flavour Delivered is planning on either sending specialty items like this with the box or including a link to make them at home. I also received a box aimed at the UK crowd, so I didn't realize that when the recipe called for fresh coriander leaves, it was cilantro. Mr. Google could have helped me with that, but Flavour Delivered says the US box would have said cilantro, so problem solved.

I wouldn't say this recipe was for beginners, since it requires a relatively easy, but time consuming, recipe for making naan from scratch. While I had all of the spices in my spice cupboard, it was so nice to have them all premeasured and perfectly organized for the recipe. I also never would have found Balti Beef on my own, so Flavour Delivered did a great job curating interesting and unique Indian dishes.

Give this box a try!

{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

Letters to Zell {Book Review}

7.28.2015


The princesses from our childhood grew up in Letters to Zell by Camille Griep and you might not recognize them. For one thing, Snow White has a seriously foul mouth. In this novel, you get to catch up with Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel after their stories have ended. The focus is on how they find their way once their Pages are complete and how their decisions affect the complicated friendship that has developed through the years.

This novel was a fun and entertaining read, but I was about 25 percent through Letters to Zell before I really understood what was going on. Then the characters were not just caricatures of their fairy tale stories - they began to stand on their own. However, none of them were particularly appealing to me, so I wasn't quite sure for whom I should be rooting.

The epistolary format of this novel also seemed to fall away mid-letter at times, which was distracting. It might bother some that the correspondence is one-sided, but I found that device introduced a puzzle that needed to be figured out by the reader. Another puzzle was remembering the difference between the original stories and the Disney versions - Letters to Zell relies on the former, not the latter.

The best aspect of this book was the world building - characters from the stories of my youth were running restaurants, unicorn ranches, and bakeries. I would definitely read another book set in this world, though I would hope for at least one character who was more likable than those included in Letters to Zell. I would love to learn more about why princes seem interchangeable and how the fairy godmothers operate.

Give this novel a try if you love fairy tale retellings, but expect some foul language from our dear Snow White.

{I received an eARC copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

What We're Eating {Menu Plan Monday}

7.27.2015


I post last week's menu so I can offer an opinion on whether the recipes are any good! Here's what we ate last week:

Sunday


Balti Beef with Chili-Coriander Naan {Flavour Delivered Subscription Box} - This recipe was so great that my husband has already asked me to make it again. I'll post a review of the subscription box this week!

Monday

Rishia Zimmern's Chicken with Shallots {New York Times} - I randomly ran across this recipe on the New York Times' facebook page and it has been a family favorite ever since. It was inspired by a recipe tweeted by Andrew Zimmern. You would not believe how awesome your house will smell after you make it! Make sure you have a baguette to sop up the sauce.

Tuesday

Spicy Chicken Tostadas with Crunchy Slaw {Real Simple} - The chicken for this recipe was not quick, but wow, was it ever good. I would love to try it in burritos or tacos. My kids even loved it, though it was a little spicy!

Wednesday

Spicy Sausage Skillet Pasta {Kevin & Amanda} - Another favorite around here, but for some reason it seemed spicier than usual. Next time I'll pay more attention to the sausage I buy and I'll use mild Ro-tel. A green salad and garlic bread finishes things off.

Thursday

Leftovers

Friday


A photo posted by Madeline Miller (@plantohappy) on

BBQ Chicken Salad {Damn Delicious} - A perfect, easy salad for a hot Summer night. The kids picked through it and got out the corn, beans, and tortilla strips, but I'll take what I can get. The bbq sauce mixed with ranch sounds a little odd, but it's outstanding!



Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Check out more recipes over at Menu Plan Monday!



{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

Say it With a Sock {Subscription Box Review}

7.24.2015

The Box: 

Say it With a Sock

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Cost:

$12 for you
$15 as a gift for someone else, with a personalized note

What's Included:


A pair of high quality socks for you or a pair of socks with a personalized note for someone else. Sample brands include Happy Socks, Richer Poorer, Sock it to Me, and Zulu Zion. The socks arrive in a cute little drawstring bag.

Say it with a Sock Review:

Say it With a Sock takes a new spin on the sock of the month club. It seems like most of these sock of the month boxes are just focused on sending cool socks, but this one allows you send a cute gift and personalized note. You submit the text for a personalized note and tell them who the gift is for, and Say it With a Sock ships out the note and socks in a cute little package. Alternatively, you can sign up and keep all the cute socks for yourself!


The price seems right on target - the socks I received cost $12 on the Richer Poorer website, but there is a curation element that is hard to quantify. So, you're not getting a discount, but you are getting some value in the curation.

We all know someone with sock obsession and this would be the perfect gift for them. It's also a nice little gift for yourself because the socks are high-quality and Say it With a Sock will find the best and ship them out.

{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}

This Week's Meal Plan {July 20, 2015}

7.20.2015



I post last week's meal plan so that I can offer an opinion on whether the recipes are any good!  I must have feeling nostalgic for my previous blog, because this week was full of Rachael Ray recipes.

Sunday 

Autumn Gold Lasagna {Rachael Ray} with Garlic Knots {Emeril Lagasse} and Green Salad - This lasagna is an old favorite from RR and a great way to use up a Butternut Squash that is not soup related. This one, by virtue of its name, is better served in the Fall, but I still love it. Those Garlic Knots that I have been stalking on Pinterest forever? They were worth the wait, though I used premade pizza dough.

Monday

Leftovers

Tuesday

Eat Out - sometimes when you're crabby, you gotta eat out instead of cooking and doing dishes!

Wednesday



Panzanella and Sausage Salad {Rachael Ray} - I think I may have used too much bread because it felt like there wasn't enough tomato involved this time. This is a great recipe though - quick and easy!

Thursday

Spicy Potato Tacos {Rachael Ray} with Mexican Rice {Paula Deen}- I had to use up a bunch of potatoes, so ta da! I think I'm the only one who really liked them, but whatever.

Friday

Mediterranean Chicken Stacks {Rachael Ray} - If I had to pick my favorite Rachael Ray recipe, it might be this one (though John's Fish and Italian Mac and Cheese would be close seconds). Perfect for an easy weeknight meal because it uses one pan, but be warned that each ingredient goes into said pan by itself, so it's a bit labor intensive.

Saturday

Eat Out!

What's on your menu this week?


Click this banner to check out Plan to Eat, the best meal planning website I have ever used!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat


Check out more recipes over at Menu Plan Monday!



{This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Please see my disclosure policy here.}