Category Archives: Reviews

Make a Photo Book with Blurb

blurb photo-book
*Please note that affiliate links are included in this post to make it easier for you to find what is being referenced. A small commission is made should you purchase product using these links however, as always, any and all opinions are genuinely my own. See full disclosure.

It is about time that I unloaded my photos from my computer and put them into books I think!

I have about three years worth of pictures just sitting in files, and to be totally honest… My kids are like:

“Mommy- why is this book say 2015? Isn’t it 2017?”

blurb photo-book

I want to say:

“Yes. Yes it is my little love-buckets. It says on the photo-book, “2015” and since I had you, I have had no time to myself, let alone, to put pictures of you into cutesy little books. I only could do that for your sisters who were born first (Back when they couldn’t walk and just napped and napped) sigh.”

But I don’t say that. I just sigh again, and start trying to get these pics in order with Blurb!

How I Organized Before I Even Started

      1. I am trying to get all these pics in order first on my computer, so I put all my photos into files first, by year.
      2. After I have year folders made, I create month folders within each year. That way I have a little bit of a sense of what was happening in those folders (birthdays, vacations, or whatever).
      3. I decided what  book I wanted to make: On the website, select the area for making Photo Books- they have some other products. Then they prompt you for choosing the size. Do that. Then choose the cover- you can change this later, but know I did the hardcover with dust jacket, but the photo-wrap is nice too, since dust jackets can get torn or removed.
      4. Next you install BookWright, their software with templates and fonts and all kinds of design fun, to put the book in the order and way that makes it unique to you. I don’t get too fancy, as I have more pictures than space, so I sort of jam them all in there. I loved the various layouts that they offer here. Now I didn’t intend to put ALL the photos in there, but I sort of just decided to put a page (or two) per month. Birthday months and Christmas time had more pictures, so we needed more pages for those months. You upload what photos you want and will fit to your format.
      5. Once your pages are done, you are done and you can proof it and order your book!

I have used lots of other photo book makers before, and I like them a lot in general- I am constantly switching around the companies to get the best deal and the highest quality. Blurb is not very well known I don’t think, and until I started with them, I probably would still be making my same old option without all the customization. But I am not very up to date on photo-apps I guess, I just realized last week that the Blurb app is built into my husband’s phone and I didn’t even know it until I started working with them.

Here’s what I like:

      • The book quality is awesome
      • The options for upgrading are plentiful: hardcover, hardcover with jacket, nice paper or really nice paper. The Blurb concept rewards you for ordering in quantity too, so say you are getting married or having a baby and want to share a book with all your loved ones…that is an awesome idea by the way, and I wish I had done that(!), you can order a bunch, send them out and save some cash. Sweet!
      • They are constantly sending me coupons for great discounts (sometimes up to 50% off!)
      • There are really nice fonts, sizes, and ideas for making your most unique book ever. Mine was boring, but EASY with their online templates but you are more creative than me no doubt and will love the BookWright or InDesign features! My next book is going to rock it! LOL!

Blurb is actually a company for making books of all kinds, not just photo books. If you are a great photographer and say you want to showcase a whole book of pictures (maybe of your favorite island vacation), you can then create a travel photobook with lots of text options- not just a generic text box, and you have your new book ready to go- It might make a great present for a new baby visit or engagement party too! You can even sell your book on Amazon when you’re done. Just saying. Not that I did, but you could. You so could! Make your own book with Blurb!

Have you used Blurb before? What do you use for photo-books if you don’t use them? Are you as bad as I am at getting books made of your pictures?!


*Please note that affiliate links are included in this post to make it easier for you to find what is being referenced. A small commission is made should you purchase product using these links however, as always, any and all opinions are genuinely my own. See full disclosure.

 

Easy, Healthy Meals with Noodles & a Thai Peanut Noodle Recipe

Look what I just made in 10 minutes:

Thai Peanut Noodles

This is an easy Thai Peanut Noodle dish that took me all of 10 minutes and a handful of ingredients.

Disclosure: I received samples of product from Fortune Noodles in order to review them for you here on the blog. As always I only give you my 100% honest opinion. See my full disclosures here.

Do you love noodles? I am not talking pasta. I am talking about the ramen-style noodles that you ate every day once you moved out of your parent’s house!  Honestly, I pack them in my kids’ lunches every week, and they are just about the only lunch that comes back totally eaten! We love it around here, and for a  hot meal, it is a great way to feed my kids fast!  I love that I can serve them alone with seasoning, or amp them up with lots of veggies or meat- and depending on what I put on them, my meal changes completely.

My kids love either plain buttered noodles, or instant soup Yakisoba style noodles (the thin, long, kind), but my husband and I love Thai sauces over rice noodles (flat, long) or Udon style (the round, wheat) noodles with teriaki or curry sauces.

Here’s a quick description of each kind that I got to sample from Fortune Noodles:

Yakisoba

Teriyaki SG Fortune Noodles

Udon

7_Chkn_Udon_3D_Pkg Fortune Noodles

Rice

7_Chkn_Udon_3D_Pkg Fortune Noodles

I love keeping “easy” food that is healthy on hand to make for easy meals in our busy schedules to make my life so much easier. These noodles are awesome. Unlike the dried up kind that sits in the cupboard, the Fortune Brand noodles are fresh, so you keep them refrigerated. They use no-GMO oils, natural colors, and no MSG. I love that their ingredients are 100% natural.

For my Thai Peanut Noodles, here’s what I did:

Thai Peanut Noodles

Thai Peanut Noodles

Ingredients

  • 1 package Fortune Thai Peanut Rice Noodles
  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 1 Tsp.oil
  • 1 cup broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 2 TBSP peanuts
  • *Squeeze of lime, and sprinkle of cilantro or chives optional

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium/high heat. Meanwhile drain and cut the tofu into cubes. Layer it between 4 paper towels and press to absorb the extra water. Place the cubes into the hot oil. Flip to brown both sides.
  2. Add the vegetables and cover for 2 minutes.
  3. Open the Fortune Rice Noodles and puncture the bag- heat in the microwave for one minute to loosen the noodles (or you can run them under hot water).
  4. Add the noodles, 1/2 cup of water and the seasoning bag to the skillet and mix it all together. Cover and continue to cook 2 more minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and add your chopped peanuts and cilantro or chives if desired. Squeeze a little lime over the top, and serve.
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http://hardlyagoddess.com/thaipeanutnoodles/

I literally could eat noodles every day, as I sit here now dreaming of my favorite Thai places to eat and slurp up my noodles like they were running out of them. Back in the day (before kids!) and I had no food in my house at all, I would still find enough money to go out with my sister in law to our favorite Pho or Thai places just to get our fix on some noodles drenched in hot broth or yummy sauce! It was always worth it and crave-worthy. When I got married and then pregnant, my cravings were always for Thai rice noodles with peanut sauce. always. And so now, I still love noodles, but I can’t go out all the time- Making it myself is easier and usually healthier, but can be time consuming. I love that I can get a healthy, pre-packaged meal that is halfway homemade, but still gets me my craving indulgence!

The Fortune Noodles website has some great recipes too for making their packaged noodles and complete meal with added vegetables and meat (or tofu). Check them out here:

Website, Facebook, Twitter.

Make this, I know you will love it!

Thai Peanut Noodles2

Disclosure: I received samples of product from Fortune Noodles in order to review them for you here on the blog. As always I only give you my 100% honest opinion. See my full disclosures here.

Linking up this week with Deborah & Sarah for Meatless Monday along withFood, Pleasure and Health and The Fit Foodie Mama for another ALL veggie link-up! Great way to start the week! Come by and check them out!

The Last Chance Matinee: Book Review

Guess what? I have your newest fun series to read about women, friendships, small towns, and love matches. Not romance. Not chick-lit. This is women’s fiction which was inspired by a true story (see below) making it that much more compelling. It was a great read and the good news is that it was the first in the Hudson Sisters series, by Mariah Stewart.

I was happy to receive a copy of this book from NetGalley in order to review it, but my opinions are 100% honest 100% of the time! This post contains affiliate links.

THE LAST CHANCE MATINEEMariah Stewart
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books
$16.00 Trade Paperback Original
ISBN: 9781501144905
Fiction, Book 1 in the Hudson Sisters series
Look for Book 2 in 2018 and Book 3 in 2019!

About the Book:

When celebrated and respected Fritz Hudson passes away suddenly, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Specifically, two daughters with one wife and one daughter with the other.

Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters (Cara, Des, and Allie) are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had, but only if the sisters come together to achieve their given tasks spelled out in the will. Self discovery, open hearts, forgiveness, love, and fairness are themes.

My Take:

Mariah Stewart sets up this first book so nicely by giving us just a taste of all the characters in such a well thought out and realistic way. Three sisters (the Hudsons) who didn’t even know each other are forced into a situation where they live together and must find out why their father never told any of them he was leading a double life.

While you sort of know what is going to happen, it is fun to read about these interesting women and complex emotional lives. I also like the setting, which is a small rural town, with quirky characters and places, and lots of history that relates to the sisters. The book ends on a high note, which I like, as it feels resolved a bit, given that it doesn’t actually come to a conclusion.

In the end, she leaves you waiting for the next book, to see what happens next…and I want to! Like now- but I have to wait. Book 2 comes out next year (2018), and then Book 3 the year after that 2019). Looks like I will have to wait, but I will wait. It was a fun trade paperback women’s fiction/contemporary romance.

I have just loved this book, and Mariah Stewart has written so many books, that now I have to go back and read her other books! In the Hudson Sisters series she has set up the characters so well in this book- Cara sort of was the primary character in this first book, so I wonder if she will feature each sister more in the other books that will follow. Either way, I am excited to find this series, and I hope you will look into reading this first title.

The Real Story That Inspired the Book, from the Preface:

Everyone is familiar with the adage “write what you know”; it’s a saying that has dictated much of my decades-long career in publishing. But this time, it was what I (or rather, my mother) didn’t know that formed the basis for this first book in my new Hudson Sisters series.

When my mother was in her mid-forties, she received a letter from a woman named Alice, the wife of her recently deceased cousin Bill. Alice thanked my mother for the sympathy card she’d sent her, and finished her note by saying, “You do know that Bill was your half brother, right?”

Ah, no. She did not.

Of course, I was fascinated. My grandfather died when I was four or five years old, and I have very little memory of him other than his deep, hearty laugh. I’ve been thinking for years that this foundation of a love child and secret siblings would make a great story; but not knowing all the facts, I was free to fill in the blanks—and so I did. Years passed before I felt I had the right story in my head. This is that story. I hope you enjoy my version of what could happen under such circumstances.

—Mariah Stewart

About Mariah Stewart & the Real Story Inspiring the Book:

image: Goodreads

Mariah Stewart is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels as well as several novellas and short stories. She lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors county life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel.
*Mariah Stewart’s separate series, the bestselling Chesapeake Diaries, has been a favorite with readers since 2010. The eleventh installment, The Chesapeake Bride, will publish August 29, 2017.

Visit her at mariahstewart.com and follow her on Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart and on Instagram @mariah_stewart_books.

Upcoming Author Tours:

Wednesday, April 5th, 6:30 pm
The Doylestown Bookshop
16 S. Main Street
Doylestown, Pa 1890

Tuesday, April 11th, 7:00 pm
Towne Book Centre
220 Plaza Drive – Ste B3
Collegeville, PA 19426

Blog Tours Past:

USA Today Happy Ever After – Down & Dirty Q&A
Happy Mom Blogger
Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog
Devilishly Delicious
Collectors of Book Boyfriends
Tome Tender Book Blog
Uniquec’s Book Blog
The Book Nympho
Books and Bindings
Rockin’ and Reviewing
Lovey Dovey Books
Bubble Bath Books
Sour Puss Reviews
The Blonde Bookworm
Bookfan
I Wish I Lived in a Library
PNW Bookworm
Mesha’s Corner
The Librarian (Authors on the Air Global Radio Network) – Interview 7:00 pm EST
Kritters Ramblings
My Novelesque Life
Reviews by Crystal
Novelgossip
Romance Junkies
Abigail Books Addiction
Rainy Day Reviews
Books According to Abby
Once Upon A Page
That Book Lady Blog
Suzy Approved Book Reviews
The Written Word(s)

Blog Feature Dates Upcoming:

March 29th
Hardly A Goddess

March 30th
Lit Living Mom

March 31st
Tiff Scribes

April 1st
Bigreadersite’s Blog

April 3rd
Staircase Wit

April 3rd- HAG’s giveaway for the book!
Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 7th
Svetlana’s Reads and Views

April 10th
Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 14th
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

April 17th
Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 21st
Community Bookstop

April 24th
Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

May 25th
First for Women
Review in First for Women magazine’s June 19th print issue, on stands May 25th!


REVIEWS from others:

“The combination of a quirky small-town setting, a family mystery, a gentle romance, and three estranged sisters is catnip for women’s-fiction fans, and the backdrop of the faded movie palace adds a fascinating element to the story. Stewart’s lively, warmhearted series starter [The Last Chance Matinee] will have readers eagerly awaiting the second installment.”

—Booklist

“A good read, with a nice blend of mystery, family drama, and romance. Readers will look forward to the next installment.”

—Library Journal


*This post contains affiliate links, where if you click on them and make a purchase, I make a small percentage. I include them so that you can find what I am referencing and loving!*