While Chad and Caitlyn are making their way to Japan (safe travels you two!) I thought it would be a good time for a book review.
The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester
This book took forever for me to get through and I am very glad I’m done. I read The Professor and the Madman by Winchester years ago and enjoyed it. I thought the subject was interesting and well written and that made me want to read other books by Winchester. Unfortunately, the subject matter of The Men Who United the States has never appealed to me so it was difficult to get through. If you like American history and want to read about Lewis and Clark, canal building, transcontinental railroads, and the invention of electricity then I think this would be a good book for you. Otherwise, you might want to skip this one.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Before this book the only Murakami book I read was What I Talk About When I Talk About Running a nonfiction book about his experience with running. I enjoyed that book and when Caitlyn told me she and a friend were reading Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki… for their book club I though I’d read it too. Murakami goes into great detail about character personality and appearance as well as scene description, which I appreciated because I think it added a lot to the story.
Austenland by Shannon Hale
This book was made into a movie. I watched the movie first because I had no idea it was a book. While the book was a light read and I liked it, I thought the movie captured the comedy of the story a lot better. The book is a bout Jane who is obsessed with Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. She takes a trip to Austenland, a themed destination vacation where people experience Jane Austen’s world complete with period costumes and activities. If you have to make a choice between watching the movie and reading the book, I think this is one of those rare occasions when the movie is better.
Have you read any good books lately? What do you do when you start a book and don’t like it? Do you finish the book anyway or do stop reading and move on to the next book?
Good morning, everyone! It’s December in Michigan which means cold, dry air! We haven’t gotten much snow this month but (with the exception of this past weekend) the air has been extremely cold most days. My skin feels like all the moisture has been sucked out of it and I’m left a dried out husk. It’s a gross feeling, let me tell you. So, in an effort to combat this horrible dryness, I decided to make my favorite body scrub and wanted to share it with all of you who may be in the same boat.
First, gather your supplies:
-1/2 cup coconut oil
-1 cup sea salt
-10 to 15 drops essential oil (optional)
Second, mix it all together:
Third, put the body scrub in a jar with a pretty lid:
Fourth, use the body scrub in the shower:
[photo deleted for explicit image]
Ha! Just kidding! I didn’t actually take shower pictures!
But seriously, this scrub is so easy to make and much less expensive than the store bought varieties. It does a great job getting rid of dry skin and an even better job keeping skin moisturized. A couple things to let you know before you try this out: use it after you shave because the oil can prevent a close shave and if you have any little cuts and scrapes the salt will sting.
I hope you try this body scrub!
Do you live in a cold climate? What tips and tricks do you have to help prevent dry skin?
Caitlyn and I are big readers. Throughout the years we’ve started and stopped book clubs together and with other people (she’s got one with her friend Amanda right now that I might join). We’d read the book and then make something (usually food related) that was connected to the book. It was always a lot of fun. And now, I follow a few bloggers who share the books they’ve been reading on their blogs. I thought that was really cool and wanted to do the same. Here’s a small round-up of what I’ve been reading:
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I really liked this book. Amy’s got a great writing voice and while there wasn’t anything really profound about this book I came away from it wanting her to be my new best friend. She’s not afraid of life and seems to be open to everything, which you get from the title of her book.
Year of No Sugar by Eve O. Schaub This was an interesting book if for no other reason than to realize how prevalent sugar has become in our diets. Eve has a blog where she chronicled her family’s struggle with a truly sugar free diet that she wrote into this book. I try to limit sugar in my diet most of the time so it was cool to read about the extremes this family went through to avoid sugar.
Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
I’m glad I read this book. I didn’t like it but I’m glad I read it. It was easy to read, almost too easy. If you weren’t paying attention you could miss some important passages. With all the things going on in politics about women’s health issues I think it’s a good idea to read this book. I was surprised how relevant I found this book considering it was written 29 years ago.
So, there’s a few books I’ve read lately. I hope you liked this little round-up. Sorry there’s no pictures of the book covers, but I thought of this post after I had returned all the books to the library. I’ll leave you with a picture of the books I’m currently reading/will read.
What have you been reading lately? Let me know if you like this post and would like to see more in the future.
I’ve been a knitter for over a decade. Over the last few years, I’ve been expanding my skills as a knitter. I went from knitting scarves to knitting sweaters, blankets, baby clothes, etc. One thing I hadn’t tried, though, was fair isle knitting. It seemed too complicated and fussy. But last winter I decided to try my hand at fair isle. I found this sock pattern on Ravelry, which is a great resource for knitters and crocheters. I had knit socks before and thought it would be something familiar to knit while also being a smaller project in case I couldn’t stand knitting fair isle. Here’s what I ended up with:
There are so many mistakes! One sock is bigger than the other (the consequence of knitting the second sock a year after knitting the first sock), the color of the one contrast yarn doesn’t match from one sock to the other, there are pattern screw ups, and no ankle shaping. But, whatever, this was a practice pattern and I love my too big, mistake-ridden socks.
Hi, everyone! Ariel here with a short post about art journaling. If you spend any time at all with me you know I have an art journal (or four). I find having a designated place for creativity to be therapeutic; it’s a great way for me to recharge my batteries after spending time out in the world. I thought I would share a page I made recently in case anyone was curious about art journaling but wasn’t sure what was involved/how to start/what constitutes art journaling. I made a page in my journal about doing the Color Run with my husband and friend. I first gathered my supplies which were gesso and watercolors. Gesso is a primer for a page. You use it to make the page thicker and easier for things to stick to it, whether that’s paint or adhesive or what have you. It’s a little expensive but it’s worth the price if you have a journal with thin pages. After painting on the gesso and allowing it to dry, I put blotches of watercolors at the top of the page and used a spray bottle filled with water to make the paint run down the page.
I sprayed water at the top of the page, letting the page dry between sprayings, until I was happy with the way everything looked. And to be totally honest, I didn’t like the top of the page with those big blotches of paint. That was okay, though, because the next thing I was going to do was put pictures from the Color Run on the page.
I placed the pictures on the page in such a way as to hide what I didn’t like about the paint, namely the top and bottom. You can still see the colors and the way the blended together and that’s really what I was going for. I used photo corners to attach the pictures to the page. The only thing left to do at this point was to add some journaling about the day.
Mostly I wrote that we had a great time and after the race we had an amazingly delicious breakfast at a local restaurant. And that’s it! There isn’t a whole lot going on with this page but I liked the way it turned out. It documented an experience that I will remember for a long time and allowed me to be creative.
Good morning and happy October first! Did you know October was National Popcorn Poppin’ Month? I just found that out earlier this week when I visited this popcorn website. My family and I love popcorn! We usually have it as a snack once or twice a week. And we don’t use microwave popcorn, either. We pop it on the stove top. It’s super easy to do and you don’t have to worry about all the chemicals that get added to the microwave variety. If you’ve never popped popcorn on the stove top before here’s a quick run through of how to do it along with some topping choices that we like at my house.
First, gather the ingredients (such as they are) together:That’s it. All you need is oil and popcorn. Canola oil is a good neutral oil to use plus it’s good at high temperatures. Cover the bottom of a high sided pot with the oil and then pour in the popcorn. You want the popcorn to cover the bottom of the pan but not be overcrowded because then you get kernels that don’t pop. Cover the pot and apply medium high heat like so:At the same time, put a small amount of butter in another pot over low heat so it will melt and you can pour it over your popcorn.Pretty soon, your popcorn kernels will start popping. Turn off the heat when the time between popping sounds is about 3 seconds or so long.
This is what happens when you overfill the pot with kernels. But it’s ok because the more popcorn the better if you ask me. When the popcorn has stopped popping, transfer it to a large container and pour the melted butter all over it.
Most of the time, I eat my popcorn without butter but with plenty of salt and pepper. But other times we’ve put parmesan cheese on it, Italian seasoning or even these handy little seasonings.The most important thing when having popcorn? Making sure you have a friend to share it with.If you haven’t tried making popcorn at home before I hope you try it out soon. It’s a lot of fun to experiment with different flavors and toppings!
I’ve always wanted to go apple picking. I hear about Crane’s in Fennville and I’m filled with envy over all the people who go there to pick apples, eat delicious baked goods, and wash it all down with apple cider. I would make apple picking more of a priority except every year I can get as many apples as I want for free. And they come to me. There is a very wonderful woman who brings big bucketsful of apples to me and my coworkers every year. She picks apples, way more than she can use, and we reap the benefits of her generosity. It’s a pretty sweet deal. But what do you do when you have an almost unlimited supply of apples? Sure, you can make apple pie after apple pie, but what happens when apple pie loses it’s appeal? You scour the web (or just Pinterest) for new apple recipes. So, without further ado, here’s five apple recipes you might want to take a look at if you’re like me and have more apples than you know what to do with.
2. Apple Pie Biscuits via Joy the Baker
I made these the other day. I’ll admit, I didn’t roll out the dough enough so the biscuits were pretty doughy. Not really a success, but the filling was amazing! I’m definitely going to try making these again very soon.
3. Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls by Sally’s Baking Addiction
I love Sally’s Baking Addiction. Every time I google a recipe Sally’s already made it and then took it to the next level. I made a deal with my boss at the library that I would bring in these cinnamon rolls if he bought Sally’s new cookbook. The cinnamon rolls were a hit and now anyone can come check out the Sally’s Baking Addiction cookbook when they come to the library.
Making applesauce from scratch is super easy. All you have to do is chop up apples and throw them in a pan with a little water, white or brown sugar, and some cinnamon, then you cook it down until it’s the consistency you want. Thick, thin, smooth or chunky applesauce, the results are totally up to you and your preferences. And there’s nothing like the smell of homemade applesauce simmering on the stove on a crisp fall day.
5. Apple Chips
Here’s a healthier treat to make with apples. Dried fruit is awesome. It’s such an easy snack that doesn’t have any added sugar so you don’t have to feel bad about eating a lot at one time, which is what I would do/have done.
What do you like to make with apples? Do you have a favorite recipe that you make over and over?
A couple of weekends ago Chad, Caitlyn, Justin, our friend LeeAnn and I went to Wheatland Music Festival. I’ve been going to Wheatland almost every year of my life and it is definitely one of my happy places. There’s good music, great food, and fun times with friends. Caitlyn posted about Wheatland last year so you already know about the gloriousness that is blueberry pancake sausage on a stick. Unfortunately, I didn’t take as many pictures as I wanted to. I was having too much fun to remember to bring my camera with me whenever I left the campsite.
It’s hard to find the right words to describe the conversations we had (that would not be nearly as funny to anyone who wasn’t there as they were to us) and the irritation you feel upon being woken up for the fourth time in one night because the drum circle is still going strong or a group of 15 people have broken out in song. Despite not sleeping well, we had a fantastic time. It’s always hard to leave at the end of the weekend. You want to stay and continue to have a great time with your friends, camping in the woods, eating awesome food, and listening to really talented musicians.
I recently went to Reenders Blueberry Farms for some U-pick blueberry fun. I did this for the first time last year, going only once and soon realized that once was not enough. I quickly went through most of the blueberries and then went into panic mode thinking I didn’t have enough left to get me through the year until the next blueberry season. While I was picking blueberries this time I was already planning my next trip to Reenders. I might have a problem. But that’s okay because they’re blueberries and blueberries are good for you with all their antioxidants and what not. So I thought I’d share five recipes using blueberries in case anyone out there finds themselves with 20 pounds of this delicious fruit like me and doesn’t know what to do with them.
1. Blueberry Lime Jam
Caitlyn and I both made this jam last year. It was really delicious! The lime was an unexpected flavor combination with the blueberry but it worked well. Of course,if you don’t like lime you could always substitute lemon for a just as amazing jam.
2. Blueberry Crumb Cake
Leave it to Martha Stewart and her team to come up with a flavorful cake showcasing blueberries. The buttermilk used in this recipe makes a rich, moist cake. The tip to toss the blueberries in flour before adding them to the batter so they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake works great!
3. Dried Blueberries
Spread blueberries on a parchment lined baking sheet and put in the oven at 225 for 3 and a half hours for a home made version of those expensive store bought dried blueberries. You could drizzle honey over the berries before drying to sweeten them if you like. These are great to throw into a trail mix, have with granola, or use in oatmeal.
4. Frozen Blueberries
Frozen berries can be expensive so whenever possible I like to freeze my own. I put a single layer on a rimmed metal baking sheet and put in the freezer for 24 hours. Then I just put them in a freezer bag and I’m able to enjoy blueberries all year. These are good in smoothies as a way to thicken them without having to use ice cubes.
5. Blueberry Syrup
If you ever get tired of using regular syrup, why not make your own fruit syrup?
Do you pick your own blueberries? What are some of your favorite blueberry recipes?
Hi everyone! It’s Ariel, Caitlyn’s sister-in-law. I’m super excited to start guest posting here on Little Snail! So let’s get started. Last Thursday my husband and I went to the Holland Street Performers Series.
The buildings and trees that line the sidewalks make downtown Holland a really pretty place
During the summer months downtown Holland allows performers of all types to use the sidewalks of 8th Street as their stage and entertain the public. 8th Street is closed down for a couple of hours on Thursday evenings and people watch the performers and walk through the stores that line the street. Last Thursday was the 10th anniversary of the event and there were some promotions going on in conjunction with some of the businesses downtown.
One of the first performers we saw was my cousin Corey. He’s been doing caricatures for years and is a regular at the Holland Street Performers Series.
Farther down the sidewalk we saw a young magician. He was pretty good at keeping up a running patter of talk while doing his tricks.
There were a lot of musicians. They were all playing really well and it was fun listening to the different kinds of music on offer. We heard everything from folk music to Let it Go from the movie Frozen.
We didn’t go into many of the shops since we were enjoying the performers but we couldn’t pass up Peach Wave frozen yogurt.
The Kahlua flavor I got wasn’t as good as the cheesecake flavor my husband got but it was still delicious (especially with all the toppings I put on it!).
Another store we went into was The Peanut Store where there is definitely more than just peanuts on offer. There’s a large selection of candy that includes brands from Europe and Asia, handmade chocolates and old fashioned candy our parents and grandparents would be familiar with.
As we were getting ready to leave we saw this woman on stilts in a butterfly costume and a hot air balloon high above the festivities.
We had a great time and I would like to go back later in the summer to see if there’s any new performers. If you’re in the Holland area on Thursday evenings looking for something to do I suggest checking out the Holland Street Performers Series.