As a plant lover and hobby gardener, I was intrigued by this book. Is it a cookbook? A DIY book? What are these extraordinary plants anyway?

Looking at “Harvest”, by Stefani Bittner & Alethea Harampolis, I could tell it would be a book different than any I own…and I own too many. The book is separated into gardening seasons during the year: Early, Mid, and Late. I like this better because if you’re picking this book up during a certain time, you can get to planting or harvesting for the projects right away.

Before you even get to any projects, you’ll notice that the photographs are bright, detailed, and quite exquisite. They highlight the beauty of what a garden and its harvest can be. I would get this book just to have it on my coffee table so that guests could admire the photos.

As we go through each gardening season, the author gives us information about certain plants/flowers and then proceeds to include projects for each.


Breadseed Poppy: Can’t say I’ve heard of this one before, but the flower is beautiful. It is called the “Baker’s flower” so that means I must add it to my garden! It can be used in baked goods and salads. It is accompanied by a recipe for Poppy Seed Dressing.

Lilac: Best used as a supporting shrub and best harvested in the morning. Great to use in a Lilac Flower Cream for your skin or to flavor sweet dishes.

Peppermint Candy Flower: Also known as Pink Purslane. It can be used in many ways like in salads, cooked, or pressed into cheese as they show you in a recipe for Edible Flower-Pressed Cheese.

Elderberry: Well known for its use in syrup. Can harvest flowers and fruit. Can make infused tonic water (recipe included), as well as Elderflower-Infused Honey. I think I’ll definitely be adding this to my garden as I am completely obsessed with honey. I don’t even need bees for this as you can use already jarred honey.


Oregano: I’m sure if you don’t have this one in your garden now, you probably did at some point. It is so well-known that many people probably get bored of it. Though I’ve used it in cooking as a fresh or dried herb, I’ve never used it to make vinegar and they show you how to do that. A lovely addition to any vinaigrette recipe.

Lavender: As I write, my lavender is just starting to bloom its beautiful purple blooms. I never thought about making tea from it and now I know what to do when I’m overwhelmed with flowers. So exciting.

Flowering Basils: Great in arrangements inside (and outside) your home. The cut stems can last weeks in vases as long as you don’t allow them to wilt – talk about bang for your gardening buck. Plus, the bees loves them.

Rose: I don’t currently have any planted, but I do love using a toner with rose in it. They teach you how to make your own using your own roses.


Quince: Not many people, at least that I know of, are familiar with the quince fruit. It’s easy to grow, but requires maturing time off the branches and is not used fresh but is cooked. Included is a recipe for quince paste, one of my favorite things with a good cheese.

“Berggarten” Sage: Drought tolerant and deer resistant, for those in climates where water is scarce or where deer love to eat your precious plants. Makes a wonderful garland for tables, mantels, or just about anywhere.

Australian Finger Lime: Chef favorite. Best grown in USDA zone 10 so it is not for all areas, but if you put it in a container, you may be able to keep it if you aren’t in that zone. Great for use in a gin and tonic (one of my favorite cocktails!).

Pomegranate: Favorite varieties include “Wonderful,” ” Ambrosia,” and “Eversweet.” If you like margaritas, you can make this lovely Pomegranate Margarita. It has a beautiful pinkish-red color, great for any holiday table. Even if you don’t want to grow them in your yard (or you don’t have space), just buy some from the store and they’ll work just fine.

Above are just some of the highlights of each section. There are many more plants and projects included. In the back, there are alternatives you can use should you not have what they recommend. For example, my favorite recipe, the infused honey, can be used with apricot, blackberry, rose, or lavender also. Also included is a Terms & Techniques section if you are unfamiliar with something they mention like Pruning, Succession Planting, or Drying.

This is a must have for any gardener that wants some new ideas, any DIY’er that loves being in the garden as well, and pretty much anyone that appreciates beautiful photography. I know, with this book, I’ll be using my garden much differently this year.

Harvest @ Penguin Random House


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The Kindness Challenge


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Happy 2017 everyone! Hope your New  Year has started off on the right track, but if it’s been a little rocky, you’ve still got the whole year left to make your changes.

I thought I’d start my new year off with a bit of kindness. After all, it’s something that’s lacking significantly in the world right now. But if you think you’re pretty kind already, how can you become kinder? Check out Shaunti Feldhahn’s book, “The Kindness Challenge”.

Though easier said than done, as most worth-while things are, here are the basics:

  1. Say nothing negative about the person you choose to be kind to, not even to other people (i.e. no complaining to friends/family, no venting – even to yourself).
  2. Daily positive thing to praise/affirm about person – tell them and others.
  3. Daily act of kindness/generosity.

I must say, as a more negative than positive person myself, this seems like it should be easy peasy, but somehow negativity makes its way in here and there. It’s definitely work and requires you to be mindful and aware of yourself and how you are reacting to others, behaving towards situations, and how much negativity you are allowing your mind to conjure.

There are many studies they’ve done and surveys they’ve given and the results are basically, if you put work into it, almost all relationships and people improved. Obviously, the degree of improvement depends on the individuals, their situations when they began this, if one or both people are participating, and how much work they’re putting into the project.

The relationships you choose to work on don’t have to just be romantic relationships. They can be parent/child, friend/friend, employee/boss, etc. Whatever relationship you need to improve, kindness is the start. What’s great is that even if the other person doesn’t improve, which is completely possible as we cannot change others forcibly, you will be changed in a more positive, kind, and thoughtful manner. You may feel calmer, more patient with those who test your will.

If you’re feeling stuck in a relationship and are looking for something that YOU can do, pick up this book and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how such a “simple” thing can change your life.

The Kindness Challenge


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Radical Beauty


Things are constantly changing. Not only life around us, but information too! Every day, someone learns something new about how to be better, live better, eat better, sleep better, communicate better, better the way we feel, better the way we look…the ways to be better never end.

Most of the time, these things make us feel inadequate, preying upon our need to be as good as those around us: as beautiful, as successful, as accomplished, etc. Not so in this new book.

“Radical Beauty has nothing to do with trendy makeup, fleeting fads, or insecure comparisons with other women. Radical Beauty extends beyond the physical, encompassing all parts of your inner and outer being. It is something that exists universally, and, at the same time, it is completely unique to you. It nurtures and highlights your magnetism and confidence, vitality, and overall health, from your bodily tissues to the outer, visible parts of yourself.”

In “Radical Beauty,” by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and Kimberly Snyder, C.N., they use six radical beauty pillars to address beauty through nourishment (internal, external), sleep, energy, movement, and spirit.

Pillar 1: Internal Nourishment

This pillar is about the relationship with food. It’s about getting rid of all those fad diets, calorie counts, and false promises, and instead, focusing on long-term shifts, even just a few degrees at a time.

Shifts that you can make:

  • Accepting that chronic diseases (preventable cancers, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease) and premature aging are not natural or necessary; lifestyle determines how you age and at what rate so if you can approach your diet strategically, you can increase your immunity, your natural healing response, and your beauty
  • Increasing circulation – incorporate berries, citrus, garlic, etc.; avoid vegetables oils, dairy, processed soy, etc.
  • Improve digestion – add probiotics, fiber; avoid carbonated beverages; soak beans/legumes, etc.
  • Avoid canned products and junk foods
  • Help yourself by using cooking time savers so you don’t have to get fast foods
  • Drink a green glowing smoothie daily

Pillar 2: External Nourishment

This pillar has to do with skin-care products and self-care practices to benefit the outside of your body.

Shifts that you can make:

  • Avoid toxic skin-care ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, DEA, Phthalates, etc.
  • Take care with sunscreens – they may contain harmful ingredients
  • Avoid aluminum, parabens, and other harmful ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants
  • Support circulation – get massages, go for a walk
  • Use natural masks, homemade beauty products using natural ingredients

Pillar 3: Peak Beauty Sleep

Does this one need an explanation? You need sleep. You need more sleep than you think. And sleep is super important.

Shifts that you can make:

  • Get 7-9 hours sleep per night
  • Avoid blue light before bed
  • Create an evening routine
  • Avoid heavy meals

Pillar 4: Primal Beauty

Get in touch with nature and the natural world.

Shifts that you can make:

  • Tailor your beauty practices to the seasons, adjusting to fit the change in climates
  • Take 5 minutes in the sun (protect face from sun and focus on sun on limbs)
  • Spend time outside
  • Use natural cleaning methods inside
  • Go shoe-free inside
  • Houseplants

Pillar 5: Beautiful Movement

Do exactly what is says…move!

Shifts that you can make:

  • Get moving
  • Walk
  • Play with your kids (or kid-like friends)
  • Practice your Pranayama (breathing exercises)

Pillar 6: Spiritual Beauty

Focus on improving your inner beauty. The most valuable knowledge says:

“The path must be inspiring. It must fit your own personality and tendencies. It should be without stress and strain.”

This, it seems, is probably the most difficult because we all have that negative, nasty, degrading voice that comes out every now and again (if we’re lucky) or more often than that. It can be quite difficult to ignore, let alone get rid of.

What you can do:

  • Be kind to yourself: smile at yourself, let others compliment you, get to know yourself like a friend
  • Stop self-judgment: don’t dwell on faults, don’t belittle yourself, don’t rationalize other’s bad behaviors towards you
  • Meditate
  • Surrender, Let Go, Accept, Be

I really enjoyed the progression of this book and all of the helpful information and practical things that can be done to obtain the end results they are speaking about. There are so many options to improve even just the slightest part of each bit of your being that no matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong.

I could see it as a book for the person who is ready to make a change, but even if you just read it to get inspired, I think it could be a benefit. I, myself, was not necessarily looking for a change, but after reading this, I realize how badly I’ve been treating my body (junk foods, not moving enough, ignoring my spiritual beauty, not paying attention to the products I use, not drinking enough water, and the list goes on) and have been inspired to greatly change the state I’m in. I hope it can inspire you to change even just ONE thing!

Radical Beauty at Penguin Random House


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Nourishing Meals


“Nourishing Meals” is much more than just a book of healthy/healthier recipes meant to help you change your diet and your waistline for the better. It has the weight of an encyclopedia, practically all the information you need to get started enjoying whole foods, and 365 recipes to feed you and your family.

Using information they’ve collected as practicing nutritionists, Alissa Segerstein and Tom Malterre, MS, CN, give us helpful tips and practical ways to heal our bodies with food. Even before we reach the Introduction, we’re given 7 steps to sustainable dietary change:

  1. Add more vegetables
  2. Make your own salad dressings
  3. Replace processed grain foods with whole grains
  4. Start making homemade bone broths
  5. Add fermented foods
  6. Go organic
  7. Go gluten-free

The beginnings of the book take you through the “Foundations of Health” – why whole foods are important, why organic is important, all about gluten and problems with gluten, as well as food allergies and sensitivities. They give some advice about raising healthy children and help us with nutrition from pregnancy on.

Then we are rewarded with the recipes!

What’s an easy AND healthy start to your day that doesn’t include skipping breakfast? Smoothies. And kid-friendly at that! Start your morning with a crisp blueberry cucumber smoothie or a mango banana almond smoothie. Hungry for a snack? Try the orange creamsicle smoothie. Need a pick me up? Maybe the ginger berry green smoothie or the super antioxidant smoothie will give you the boost you need.

Want something more filling? There are so many breakfast options. Do you think they’re trying to tell us that we really need to eat breakfast? Since it’s fall, the pumpkin pie granola and apple cinnamon teff pancakes will get you energized on those cold mornings. For something more savory, the bean and rice breakfast bowls, chicken breakfast sausages, and kale and egg scramble will do the trick. Whichever you choose, it will give you the energy you need to start your day with a smile.

Do you envision going gluten-free as no more breads, pastas, and pizzas? Not so. There are 36 recipes for gluten-free breads and muffins. Recipes include burger buns, sandwich bread, fruit and vegetable muffins, and pizza crust. What’s even better is that by making these things at home, you will be avoiding all the preservatives and unnecessary ingredients that are found in store-bought gluten-free products.

Is it a chilly night and you need to warm your family up? Soups and Stews is the section you’re looking for. Hearty three-bean vegetable chili, chipotle black bean and yam stew, and curried lentil and sweet potato soup will warm you up and keep those hungry bellies stuffed. Looking for something lighter? Vegetable mushroom broth, healing ginger miso soup, harvest vegetable soup, and the glorious greens soup will keep you satisfied without feeling heavy.

I think I’ll need to spend a lot of time trying the recipes from the next section as I don’t really like to make (or eat) salads and vegetables. With 50 recipes, there are bound to be at least 5 recipes that everyone will enjoy – Salads: Avocado and sweet potato salad with lime; cilantro cabbage salad; jalapeño-lime kale slaw; kid-friendly salad with apple cider vinaigrette; pear pomegranate salad with orange vinaigrette. Vegetables: roasted brussel sprouts with shallots and cranberries; rutabaga fries; sautéed snow peas and pattypan squash; creamed kale; olive oil garlic mashed potatoes.

Think you are going to crave carbs and not be able to eat them? There are plenty of rice recipes and a couple gluten-free noodle recipes.

Don’t know what to make your family for dinner? Main Meals has 44 options for you to choose from. Apricot glazed chicken, turkey quinoa meatballs, and sloppy joes are family pleasers. Add in a little spice with thai coconut fish sticks, spicy lentils and rice in cabbage leaves, or chipotle-lime roasted chicken.

There is a whole chapter devoted to Dressings, Dips, and Sauces: Dairy-free ranch, Chipotle BBQ Sauce, and easy homemade pizza sauce will be staples in your household. You’ll find some tasty snacks in the Wraps and Rolls and Snacks and Treats sections.

Feel like you’ll never be able to indulge again? Think again. Always my favorite section of any book, this one blows the other ones out of the water with 57 recipes for truffles, puddings, ice cream, cheesecake, crisps, cookies, cakes and cupcakes, and brownies. YUM!!!

Comforting teas and non-dairy milk options abound in the Beverages section. And to end the whole book, we learn about Preserving the Harvest: sauerkrauts, pickled veggies, and vinegars are a few things you’ll find.

Overall, this cookbook definitely delivers on it’s promise to nourish through meals. Whether or not you have an allergy or sensitivity, or you’re looking to improve your health, or maybe you want to teach your children what fresh whole-food meals look like, you’ll find everything you’re looking for here.

Nourishing Meals at Penguin Random House


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Against All Grain Celebrations


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You’ve heard me say it before and though I’m not doing it at the moment, I went Paleo once. I really do plan to do it again, but it does take effort and the fact is, it’s not a necessity for me at the moment. That does not mean that I don’t make Paleo meals.

I am an avid fan of Danielle Walker and I own her other two cookbooks (I purchased both on my own) and have made almost every recipe from them. I also really love to visit her site to see what’s new. She has used her own health challenges to create a place (her blog) where people can go to better their diets and themselves. She doesn’t hide her setbacks and is truly an inspiration.

Whatever reason has made you take out grains and other reactive food groups, you will find a bevy of information about how to go grain-free and enjoy delicious meals that won’t  leave you wishing for loaves of bread, dairy desserts, or pasta.

Danielle Walker’s third book, Against All Grain Celebrations, is focused on holidays/special occasions – those times where sticking to an eating plan is the hardest. Those who do not have to cut out certain types of food rarely realize how difficult it is to be surrounded by foods that you can’t eat (and/or won’t eat) and foods that hold memories but will cause more harm than good. Walker has created meals that will leave you feeling comforted, satisfied, and good.

In this book, you’ll find meals for a cocktail party on New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day (kids options included), Mother’s Day luncheon and Father’s Day cookout, treats for Halloween, and, of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas menus (and much more).

Recipes you can look forward to:

  • Spinach Artichoke Dip – bring it to a Super Bowl party or use it as an appetizer for your next cocktail party.
  • Cabernet Braised Short Ribs with Parsnip-Turnip Puree – make this cozy meal for your family or serve it for a special winter get-together with friends and family.
  • Pumpkin Spiced Latte – no need to trek to Starbucks! Make your own with ingredients you know are okay for you.
  • Blackened Salmon with Stone Fruit Salsa – if you’re looking for a light dish with some flair, this is it.
  • Lemon Bars – for your next picnic, dessert party, or just to snack on by yourself. No one will judge you.
  • Skillet “Corn” Bread – need something to go with your chili? Serve this up.
  • Heirloom Tomato, Watermelon, and Basil Salad – refreshing in the hot summer months.
  • Herb Ranch Dressing – it’s difficult to find dressing from the grocery store that is safe to eat for those who cannot have many things, so I like that she included such a universal dressing that can go with many things.
  • Christmas Fudge – no need to miss out on the sweets at Christmastime with this decadent dessert.

I won’t tell you that this is a “health” book because it’s not, in my opinion. It definitely won’t help you lose weight during the holidays either. BUT if you are looking for tasty grain-free alternatives to your holiday favorites, this book will have them. If you want to enjoy parties the same way your friends and family members do, but can’t eat what they can, than cook/bake some things (from this book) for get-togethers and you’ll be just as satisfied as they are.

She has tried and tested her recipes for you and yours to enjoy and I know you will find something (or somethings) in this book that will make your holidays/special occasions memorable.

Against All Grain Celebrations at Penguin Random House


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.