Friday, April 21, 2017

Can Coloring Be the Recipe to Happiness? (review and giveaway)

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received these books, free of charge,from Fox Chapel Publishing, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about them,  all opinions are my own.

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If cooking is the the Gumbo recipe for love, then doodling has to be the recipe for a happy brain!

We all know that coloring cn allow your mind to de-stress, to allow you to emotionally relax, and to just make you HAPPY. That sounds like a great recipe for a calm being to me!

We recently got to check out a new series of adult coloring books, 
that have a very interesting backstory:

mcardle coloring books

In October 2013, artist Thaneeya McArdle gave most of her stuff to Goodwill, put the rest in storage, and became a full-time nomad, roaming across the US and abroad. While on the road, Thaneeyalanded upon a major licensing deal for her artwork and worked remotely for two years managing her art for coloring books. Her coloring book empire grew and grew! She has since returned home and when asked if she'd consider becoming a full-time nomad again she says the idea is still on the table...but for now, she's continuing to focus on her newfound coloring book enterprise.

"These days I'm typically immersed in designing new coloring books, creating colorful calendars, and experimenting with a variety of tantalizing art supplies like Copic markers, gouache, paint markers, liquid watercolors, paper-cutting and whatever else I can get my hands on! When I have time, I occasionally add new lessons and content on," McArdle says.

Something that is wodnerful about her coloring books, is that they ALL have wonderful sayings on the back page, with room to write your thoughts, or additional inspirational quotes underneath! This really allows you to turn each book into your own personal journal space, making them great for gift giving, all year round!

color love samples

Color Love Purse Size Coloring Book featuring selected illustrations from Thaneeya's coloring books, the book is part of the "On-the-Go" series, which means that it's smaller than your traditional coloring books! It is a handy, portable size, as you can see from the top pix, allowing you to pack it in your purse or travel tote easily, so you can color anywhere, at anytime! So no more typing away on your telephone while waiting in the doctor's office- color instead! The series is also great for adding to backseat bins, for travel boredom too! This books has some of my favorite designs from Thaneeya's books in it!

 samples Don't Worry Be Happy Coloring Treasury

Don't Worry Be Happy Coloring Treasury: this huge spiral-bound book features a collection of 96 upbeat coloring pages from Thaneeya's other coloring books, and is perfect for gift giving, if you have no idea what type of illustrations the recipient would like to color! As you can see, there are signs, whimsical animals,.flowers, Day of the Dead skulls, circle mandellas and more! I love the spiral binding, as it allows the book the lay perfectly flat while you work! It would be great for teens for an "I'm Bored" Summer preventor too!

Nature Mandelas Coloring Book samples

Nature Mandelas Coloring Book: containing 30 whimsical circles of nature, this is a book that offers a fun, and easy, way to exercise your creativity! As you can see these circle pictures are quite unique! Miss Grace and I were fighting over the feather one as soon as we saw it! The designs are both whimsical and gorgeous, and you just can't wait to color and frame them!

live love laugh samples

Live Love Laugh: this new addition to the coloring line, allows you to color your own stickers and personalize your world! There are more than 100 customizable art decals printed on high quality artist paper,, to color, peel, and stick. From birds and flowers, to butterflies and bowler hats, these fun and fanciful designs come in a variety of sizes and shapes, for adding color to envelopes, packages and more!  Miss Grace declared this one hers, as soon as she opened the box! She declared it the FUN book, and set off with it to figure out where she could use them all! It would be another great addition to your Summer "I'm Bored' buster box this Summer too! But it's great for the creative Mom, who likes to add her own touches to gift cards too!

As you can see, all of the coloring books offer really great ideas to urge your creativity into hyperdrive! Once you start coloring in these great books, you might not be able to stop! We highly recommend them!

flashing Win


color love cover

One lucky BTHM reader will get to win this lovely COMPACT coloring book for their own
happiness and enjoyment!

About the Author:

Professional artist Thaneeya McArdle is the author of 30 bestselling coloring books from Design Originals. Based in Florida, she works in painting, drawing, and mixed media, with a special focus on vibrantly detailed whimsical art. Thaneeyaoperates, an art instruction website.

Recipe Weekend: Gumbo Love: Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life by Lucy Buffett

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received these books, free of charge,from FSB Associates, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.

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While not out yet, this new book will be out in time for Mother''s Day, 
on May 9th, so you can pre-order for gift giving now!

A delicious love letter to the Gulf Coast's vibrant food culture, by Jimmy Buffett's sister and owner of two beloved destination restaurants in Alabama and Florida.

Gumbo love cover

Incorporating Caribbean, Cajun, Cuban, Mexican, Old Florida, and Creole influences, Lucy proves through her collection of recipes that the Gulf Coast has its own distinct flavors and traditions that make it a destination year after year. Surviving hurricanes, the Gulf Coast--beyond just New Orleans--has a vibrant food and culture that's gone largely unnoticed. Lucy wants to change that by sharing her food and stories with GUMBO LOVE readers.

Like her brother, Jimmy, Lucy celebrates freedom, relaxation, and seaside decadence in her own art--cooking, and has now written the cookbook her fans have been asking her for; one that offers the recipes she's famous for, along with Gulf Coast classics and stories of growing up in Mobile, Alabama, working in New Orleans, and her philosophy of relaxation, gratitude, and enjoyment.

Lucy combines over one hundred new recipes with old favorites. Her fans will find recipes for their social occasions including gumbos, main dishes, deep fried favorites (with her easy frying tutorial), salads, seasonings, libations, and desserts. They will also learn how Lucy navigates the kitchen, her business, and her family and readers will come away with the basic ingredients of an inspiring life philosophy.


In some ways, this cookbook is more personal than last year's LuLu’s Kitchen: A Taste of the Gulf Coast Good Life, as it takes us 'behind the scenes' of the last book, showing Lucy in more her natural environment, the kitchen, giving us her secrets and tips. Whereas the last book was more a celebration, this the bones behind the celebration. To me it is MORE personal, and yet it is a perfect starting cookbook, as it can take a beginner cook through recipes that will teach them basics, and inspire them to reach beyond what they think they are capable of and find their dreams! It's an inspirational book as well as cookbook, and one that might just end up being a family treasure! Give this book to Mom for Mother's Day and she'll know JUST how much you care about family and traditions! Plus the recipes are just downright YUMMY!  We can't recommend it enough!


seafood gumbo
mage credit: Angie Mosier

Summer Seafood Gumbo 
Serves 14-16

It takes courage to make a gumbo, and you’ve got to rustle up plenty more qualities along the way to achieve a successful end result. But like any character-building exercise, your experience and wisdom deepens with every step, until you reach a profound sense of satisfaction by the end of the process. A simmering pot of contentment is your reward, and the knowledge that you made this nurturing goodness from the humblest of ingredients and your own ability. It is literally and figuratively a pot full of flavor that can feed your loved ones for days and that’s just brimming with all the courage, mindfulness, and love you put into it.

It all starts with preparation—you must gather all the ingredients and prep them: chop the vegetables, clean the seafood, and sauté the meats and sausages. When done in an orderly fashion, this preparation simplifies the steps to come. It eliminates the chaos and fear. With practice and focus, you quickly learn you were more afraid of the fear itself than the task at hand.

Next is the queen bee—the roux! Making a roux simply requires a little focus and payin attention, seasoned with faith—you have to shake off the doubt and believe in yourself before diving headfirst into the perseverance part, which keeps you doing what you have to do, stirring long after your arm has gone numb from pain. Then there’s the listening, where you tune in to your wisdom and experience to take the roux just to the edge of burning before you toss in the vegetables. Next is the easy follow-directions part, where you do what you’re told to do: you add the stock, along with the rest of the ingredients and seasonings, and mix it all together. Then comes the hard part for lots of us: you let it go. You leave it alone, letting it simmer, with an occasional stir. You get out of the way. You trust the age-old cooking process and let the magic happen.

OVER THE YEARS, this is the recipe that I’ve cooked the most and that has remained a featured specialty at my restaurants. As far as the seafood goes, I use shrimp and crab, but if it’s cool enough for oysters and there are some sweet and pretty ones available, or it’s crawfish season, I will toss those in, too. And though I usually use only sausage in my winter gumbo, it’s no crime to add a little andouille to the pot as well.


3 pounds medium wild-caught Gulf shrimp, heads on
2 pounds cooked blue crab claw meat, picked through for shells, handled carefully to keep the meat in big chunks
4 large ripe tomatoes, or 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes with their juices
¾ cup vegetable oil or bacon grease
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 bunch celery, coarsely chopped, including leaves
2 green bell peppers, coarsely chopped
8 cups shrimp or seafood stock (recipe follows), heated
2 to 3 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dried thyme
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons LuLu’s Crazy Creola Seasoning (recipe follows), or other Creole seasoning
¼ cup hot sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 blue crab bodies, if available (optional)
2½ pounds fresh okra, chopped into ¼-inch pieces, or thawed frozen cut okra
2 cups finely chopped green onions
½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
½ cup fresh lemon juice
Cooked white rice, for serving
French bread and butter, for serving


1. Peel and devein the shrimp. (If you’re making your own stock, reserve the heads and shells to make the stock.) Refrigerate the shrimp and crabmeat until ready to use.

2. If using fresh tomatoes, fill a medium saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Carefully drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and let them cool. The skins will slip off easily. Remove the cores and coarsely chop the tomatoes over a bowl to retain as much juice as possible. Set aside. (If using canned tomatoes, chop each tomato into eighths and return them to the juice in the can.)

3. To make the roux, in a large stockpot (about 10 quarts), heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, gradually add the flour, whisking continuously, and cook, stirring and adjusting the heat as necessary to keep it from burning, until the roux is a dark mahogany color, 25 to 35 minutes. Be careful: if the roux burns, you will have to start all over again!

4. Carefully add the onion to the roux and stir with a large wooden spoon for 2 to 3 minutes. (The onion will sizzle and steam when it hits the hot roux, so caution is advised. All seasoned gumbo cooks have roux battle scars on one or both arms.)

5. Add the celery and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 to 3 minutes more. The mixture should resemble a pot of black beans in color and texture.
7. Add the heated stock and the tomatoes with their juices. Stir in the salt, black pepper, cayenne, thyme, bay leaves, oregano, basil, Creole seasoning, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well. Bring the gumbo to a boil and cook for 5 minutes,
then reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer. Add the crab bodies (if using) and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour.

8. Add the okra and bring the gumbo to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the okra has lost its bright green color and cooked down like the other vegetables. If the gumbo gets too thick, add a little water. If it is too thin, continue to simmer it, uncovered.

9. Gumbo is always better the day after it has been cooked, although I’ve never had a complaint when I served it the day I made it. At this point, you can cool the gumbo. Turn off the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then place the pot, uncovered, in an empty sink. Fill the sink with cold water and ice around the stockpot (try not to get any in the stockpot itself). Stir every 15 minutes to facilitate cooling. (The gumbo will spoil if improperly cooled—see page xxx for tips on cooling the gumbo.) When completely cool, refrigerate the gumbo in the stockpot, uncovered.

10. When ready to serve, slowly bring the gumbo to a simmer over medium-low
heat. Thirty minutes before serving, add the green onion, parsley, and lemon juice to the gumbo. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add the shrimp and crabmeat, mix well, and cook for 2 minutes. Cover and turn off the heat. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes more to cook the seafood. The gumbo will stay hot for a long time. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Taste and adjust the seasonings; serve over cooked white rice with French bread and butter.


If you are lucky enough to get shrimp with the heads on, rejoice. Shrimp heads make the stock even richer and more flavorful. When making stock, I fill an empty liter Coke bottle (label removed) with water and freeze it ahead of time. When the stock has cooled down a bit, about 30 minutes or so, I plunge the frozen bottle into the middle to help cool the stock from the inside out. This is also how I cool down a pot of gumbo before refrigerating it. 


Heads, tails, and shells from about 5 pounds peeled wild-caught Gulf shrimp
6 quarts water
2 lemons, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
2 bay leaves
3 onions, coarsely chopped
6 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped
Handful of fresh parsley with stems, washed thoroughly
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 whole garlic clove
White wine


1. At least several hours before you plan to make the stock, fill a clean, empty 1-liter soda bottle with water to about 2 inches from the top, seal, and freeze it.

2. Run cold water over the shrimp shells to rinse. Place all the ingredients in a medium stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat.

3. Reduce the heat to medium, or until the stock is simmering. Skim off the foam that rises to the top. Cook for a couple of hours, skimming again about every 15 minutes.

4. Place the stockpot in an empty sink. Fill the sink with water and ice around the stockpot. Let the stock cool completely, uncovered. When the stock has cooled down a bit, about 30 minutes or so, put the frozen soda bottle in the middle to cool the stock from the inside out. Strain the stock, discarding the solids, transfer to storage containers, and refrigerate or freeze immediately.


1 tablespoon sea salt
2 tablespoons granulated garlic or garlic powder
4 teaspoons granulated onion or onion powder
¼ cup paprika
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons white pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano

Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

Recipe text: Excerpted from the book GUMBO LOVE by Lucy Buffett. Copyright © 2017 by Lucy Buffett. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.

lucy buffett
Image credit: Chandler Williams Modus Photography

About the Author:

Lucy "LuLu" Buffett cooked her way from coast to coast before returning home to Alabama to open a modest little bayside gumbo and burger joint that doubled as a bait shop. Now, she is the successful restaurateur of two locations of LuLu's in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Destin, Florida, where she serves over a million guests a year. Her adventures-culinary and otherwise-inspired her to write LuLu's Kitchen (formerly self-published as Crazy Sista Cooking), and now Gumbo Love.

What is Gumbo Love?

I'll be reviewing Lucy's Cookbook in just a bit, but I wanted to start the day with her lovely video:

Here in the South we show our love THROUGH our cooking, 
so Gumbo is the perfect analogy for it and our sense of family.

What do YOU think???

Stay tuned....
Thursday, April 20, 2017

History Corner: Road Road School: Learning Through Exploration and Experiencel by Sue Cowley

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received these books, free of charge,from Crown House Publishing, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.

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And now for a book aimed at homeschoolers, but a funny read for anyone with kids!

road school cover


Frustrated by a regime of statutory testing, and keen for a mid-life adventure, Sue Cowley and her partner took their children out of school to educate them on the road. 'Road School' is the story of their family's adventures around Europe and across China. On their journey they experienced awesome historical sites, diverse cuisines and fantastic geographical phenomena. They also experienced whining kids, satnav disasters, and dodgy accommodation. Part comedy travelogue, part parenting guide, part educational philosophy, 'Road School' asks you to consider what an education really means. In a world where schooling is increasingly being standardised, and where government testing puts ever more pressure on our youngest learners, 'Road School' is the story of how one family stepped out of the system, and set off on the educational adventure of a lifetime.


If you homeschool, and ever wondered if you could homeschool while traveling, this is the book that answers that question- YES YOU CAN! Sue has such an easy way of writing, that I actually finished the entire book while Miss Grace was having a procedure done at the hospital! It was such a quick and easy read! I have to admit I miht have snorted out loud a few times too! Especially when she talked about having to undo the carefully packaged trunk, in order for hubby to try to fic the cd changer! I have BEEN there! 

While Sue's travels take place in Europe (lucky dog), that is because she is home based in England. While the logistics and rules are a bit different, the concepts of traveling with kids and schooling are universal. For us in the US or Canada,  we might have more requirements we have to address, but traveling across the country offers an amazing amount of access to history that you can feel and touch. Which, is youve read this blog for awhile, you know I am a HUGE proponent of! We always try to add some history in, whenever we go on vacation or a dance competition trip! Sue offers some really great pointers to think about, if you are considering doing the same, 

Even if you aren't considering 'Road School', this is a fun book to read to gain some insight on teaching curricula together as sets, and how to make history and art come alive for kids!

About the Author:

Sue Cowley is an experienced teacher and subject co-ordinator, whose specialisms are in English and Drama. After qualifying as a primary school teacher, she taught in a number of different secondary schools in London and Bristol. She has also worked overseas at an international school in Portugal.

Sue is the best selling author of eighteen teaching and parenting books, including "Getting the Buggers to Behave", which has sold over 120,000 copies and has been translated around the world. Sue has written articles and columns for a number of teaching publications, including the TES, Child Education, Junior Education and Teacher Magazine.

Sue’s primary aim through her work is to give practical, realistic and honest advice. Her books offer a combination of tips, ideas and strategies, written in an easily accessible and amusing way. Through the training courses that she runs, Sue puts across her ideas about teaching in a fun and engaging format. She still works with school children on a voluntary basis, so that she can keep up to date with ‘life at the chalk face’. She is also Chair of the Committee at her local voluntary run preschool. Check out her website, for more info!

Book Review: Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received these books, free of charge,from Prospect Park Booksvia Edelweiss, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.

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From her cruel, beautiful mother, a woman receives an inheritance of debts, complications, threats, and secrets to unravel.

Mothers and Other Strangers cover


"My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted."

Thus begins this riveting story of a woman's quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that she suspects are coming from the cult-like spiritual program her mother belonged to, Elsie works to unravel the message her dying mother left for her, a quest that ultimately takes her to the South African family homestead she never knew existed.


Not all mothers are created equal, and for those kids who have a motherwho seems more self- interested, Mother's Day is not always a looked forward day. In this riveting novel that truly screams to be made into a movie, Elsie is every daughter who feels she was always second behind her mother, trying to get her attention. From the first chapter, you will rapidly turning pages, eager to see if Elsie can find the secret that tormented her mother and that will allow Elsie to break free of her past. An interesting look at family secrets and how they can destroy, not help, when hidden for too long, and a great read!

About the Author:

Gina Sorell is a writer, actor, and creative director who was born in South Africa and now lives in Toronto with her family. After two decades as a working actor, including ten years in L.A., she returned to her first love, writing, graduating with distinction from the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Gina pairs her novel writing with her work as the creative director of Eat My Words, a San Francisco–based branding firm. This is her first novel.

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