Book Review: The Big-Flavor Grill

9781607745273Disclosure: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Big-Flavor Grill: No-marinade, No-hassle recipes is all about two things: Big flavors and simple cooking.

Grilling is one of those cooking techniques that is taken head on by dare-devil cooks and masters, while the timid seem to walk the tight rope of fear and lack of skills. However, grilling masters Chris Schlesinger and John “Doc” Willoughby skillfully prepare cooks, and non-cooks, to successfully tackle grilling with straightforward information and simple recipes.

The introduction is the most important part of the book, and by not reading it, you’re pretty much guaranteed to burn down your house. You learn why rubs are the best for infusing flavor to your meats, and how grilling is a worldwide practice. How few gadgets you need, how to set a proper fire, and techniques to help your food cook the best.

The best thing about The Big-Flavor Grill is that no food category is left unmentioned. Everything from meats to seafood to drinks are covered, and at the beginning of each chapter is a brief overview of the ingredient you’ll be using which I found to be beneficial for beginners like myself.

The layout is probably one of the best I’ve seen for a cookbook. It’s setup almost like a blog: easy to read and not congested with a lot of fillers just to take up space. The food photography is amazing because it visually puts you in the world of grilling, and it excites every sense making you even more eager to grill.

The recipes are great for any skill level cook, but they are best for beginners because they are simple and extremely short. The thing I love the most about the recipes is how simple the ingredients are. They can be found in any cook’s pantry–even those that don’t cook, and the directions are even shorter.

My favorite recipe to prepare was the grilled corn with basil and parmesan. I’ll admit while my corn on the cob is edible, it can be bland sometimes, and adding the parmesan with the basil, salt and pepper made it bold but in a simplistic way. Very few ingredients and easily prepared any day of the week.

If you’re a cook looking to expand your skills to grilling, then I highly suggest you pick up a copy of The Big-Flavor Grill.

Sewing Pattern Guide: Buying Patterns

I remember my former days as a sewing newbie and being so excited and nervous about buying my first pattern; then overwhelmed at the many choices because I didn’t know exactly what pattern to buy or how to read them.

I personally understand how nerve-racking shopping for patterns can be when your sewing skills are limited. Therefore, I wanted to create a guide to buying patterns in an attempt to help ease the stress when you’re searching through the file cabinets of patterns.

In the first part of sewing patterns guide, it’s all about buying patterns; therefore, I’m going to discuss what the front and back of a sewing pattern mean, so you’re a more informed shopper and so your sewing projects go as smoothly as possible.

When you’re in a sewing section, you will see various patterns from different brands. The most popular brands are McCalls, Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity, and Kwik Sew. Depending on the store, they may carry all these brands or a few. They are all great brands to work with, and provide different apparel options you can sew. All, to some extent, have a line of easy patterns for beginning sewers with no to limited sewing skills. I highly recommend stocking up on a quite a few of those.

Helpful Tip: patterns are rarely organized by style, for example, dresses, outerwear, pants, etc. They are organized by style number. The style number is located either in the right or left upper corner with the size and price underneath. The style number is usually a letter (representing the pattern company like “v” for Vogue), followed by four numbers. The style number represents the type of garment you will sew.

Along with the style number is the size which can be represented by a single or double letters showing numerical sizes or small, medium, and large. Be very careful to look at the size because you will hate to buy a pattern that is too big or small, and then end up spending most of your time making alterations to the patterns. It’s especially no fun when you don’t have any idea how to make alterations to your patterns. Most of the time price is found on the front of the envelope, but if not, check the back.

The next thing you will see on the front is an illustration of the style. The illustration will either be of a life model wearing the finished garment or a sketch. Depending on the style, there will be various views– multiple garment styles. The views can be as simple as a long or short garment, or more complex as one jacket with four different collar styles. The front of the envelope usually tells you the skill level for the pattern.

Now on to the back.

The back of the pattern envelope is where new sewers get tripped up most of the time, which is why I want to cover this area thoroughly.

Depending on which brand you’re buying, the style number, size, and price are located at the left or right upper corner or along the side.

The center back is where you find the important information. View description(s) is where you learn more details about the garment you will be sewing, and it also includes back views of the garment as well.

Measurements are listed for each size, and these will help you for accurate fit. Your personal measurements will not always be exact, but you can choose the size closest to your measurements and then make the appropriate adjustments. Rule of thumb: if you’re unsure about your measurements or size, go one size up because it’s easier to take in than it is to let out.

Fabric widths for your garment is also listed underneath your size. Say for instance you’re a size 8, then you go to size 8 and scroll down with your finger to find the fabric width and yards needed. Helpful Tip: fabric widths come in different widths, and most fashion fabrics are about 58 to 60 inches wide. To save yourself time and aggravation, go with the 60 inch width if you can. All pattern pieces fit on the 60 inch fabric unless you need extra fabric for lining and interfacing. I remember taking on a project that called for 60 inch fabric, and mine was like 35 inches. It was a hot mess and took me three times as long to cut my pieces. I was really hot that day.

One of the most important things not to be overlooked are the fabrics and notions listings. When I first started sewing, I made the mistake of not thoroughly reading the back and skipped the fabrics and notions completely. I thought all I needed was thread and fabric I liked. Man, when I sat down to review the sewing guide, I realized I didn’t have the right fabric or the notions. I was missing the correct fabric and a 14 inch zipper. I attempted the project anyway, but it turned out a hot mess because I didn’t know how to work with knit, and I didn’t know how to take in the area where the zipper was supposed to go. Hot mess! If you do nothing else, PLEASE, read the suggested fabrics and notions because it will make your project a lot easier to do. Interfacing and lining suggestions are listed as well.

Final measurements are listed which are the measurements after you have completed your garment. I personally don’t pay attention to them because I always either have to take in or let out a few inches. Therefore, my final measurements never match the patterns. However, if you’re one of the lucky ones and your measurements are exactly like the size you purchased, then try to strive for the final measurements.

Hopefully this guide has helped you feel more at ease and confident when buying sewing patterns, and I will leave you with just a few more tips. Come back for part 2 and feel free to leave any comments or questions.

Try to buy sewing patterns in every style because you will perfect your sewing techniques, be more comfortable sewing different garments, and you learn about the individual pattern pieces and eventually learn to create your own.

Try and purchase sewing patterns in various sizes because you learn how to make alterations, and you learn how the different sizes should look and feel if you want to be an expert in fit.

 

 

Book Review: Unlucky 13 by James Patterson

Disclosure: Unlucky 13 is part of the Women’s Murder Club series, and I highly recommend you read the previous books in the series.

The day was an ordinary day for detective Lindsay Boxer and her partner Richie Conklin, until she receives a phone call from her closet friend, and San Francisco Chief Medical Examiner, Claire Washburn. There has been an one car accident, and Washburn wants Boxer’s second opinion on the scene.

Once on scene, Boxer is shocked by what she is staring at inside the mangled jeep: two dead bodies, one male and one female, whose insides were literally blown inside out. Because of the possible use of bombs, the FBI is called in to investigate whether or not it’s a terrorist act.

As Boxer and Conklin investigate the bridge homicide, they learn the victims were local college students and had no enemies. Until, Boxer goes to the M.E’s office and discovers a magnesium compound was ingested by the victims causing them to explode. This new clue sends Boxer and her partner to a local food chain, Chuck’s.

As Boxer goes deeper into her investigation, she learns the customers of Chuck’s are being targeted with belly bombs, and that the bomber still has unfinished business.

Along with all the craziness of a bomber running around, Boxer also has to worry about Mackenzie Morales being on the loose. Mackenzie Morales is a psychopath and former lover of Randy Fish, a serial killer who was obsessed with Lindsay, who later dies. Bent on revenge, Morales has her sights on Lindsay and travels to San Francisco to make sure her revenge is carried out.

Even though I was a little lost with the history of the characters, which is why I suggested reading the previous books first, I still could not put the book down. The plot had depth and I couldn’t turn the page fast enough trying to discover who the bomber was, and just how crazy Mackenzie Morales was. Another classic penned by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro; I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

Book Review: Kissed By An Angel by Elizabeth Chandler

untitledKissed By An Angel by Elizabeth Chandler is the first book in the Kissed By An Angel trilogy. It is a young adult novel filled with  love, loss, friendship, family, and the supernatural.

I first experienced this book as a freshman in college, but I was unable to finish it and ended up returning the book to the library. So when I discovered my library had copies of this book I thought it was  my second chance to finish reading a love story I’ve been obsessed with for years.

The story revolves around two main characters: Tristan Carruthers and Ivy Lyons. Tristan is the all-american high school guy that girls are
in love with. He’s athletic, book smart, a great friend as well as
good looking. From the moment Ivy transferred to his school in the
spring he had been madly in love with her, except the only problem was
she didn’t know. Ivy is a girl who walks to the beat of her own drum
and she doesn’t let the popularity and money that runs her new school
disrupt that. She is completely clueless to the fact that Tristan is
head over heels in love with her, and that’s mainly because she is so
distracted with the upcoming wedding of her mom who was actually the
mistress of her future husband, Andrew, and his son Gregory is not
really pleased to be gaining another family.

Ivy’s friends, Suzanne and Beth, try to convince her that Tristan is
in love with her, but all she can see is a jock that she’ll never be
interested in. Although Tristan and Ivy have had encounters in the
past, they never really had a successful one until Tristan and his
friend Gary decide to work as waiters at the wedding reception to earn
money for an upcoming swim competition. Tristan ends up proving how
horrible of a waiter he is and ends up being fired. He spends the rest
of the night in a closet adjacent to the kitchen when a little boy
decides to hide out, too. The boy is Phillip who just happens to be
Ivy’s little brother. While trying to keep Phillip entertained,
Tristan puts food in his nose, teeth, ears when Ivy walks into the
room and is shocked by what she sees, and Tristan is horrified because
he thinks Ivy will never like him after his display of immaturity.

When Ivy’s parents return from their honeymoon they notice the
furniture has been torn to shreds, and thus believe Ivy’s cat is
responsible. They come to the conclusion Ivy has to give away the cat,
so she posts ads about the cat only to receive a call from Tristan
saying he wants to take the cat. Ivy delivers the cat to Tristan’s
home when he learns Ivy is afraid of water and offers to give her
lessons. During one of their swimming sessions Tristan sees Ivy in the
deep part of the pool under the water, so he dives in thinking she was
in trouble. He learns that Ivy wasn’t in trouble and was actually
diving for a penny to show him that she could swim. He tries to storm
off telling her that he’ll never be her hero, and the light bulb goes
off for Ivy and they share their first kiss.

On a winding road to dinner, Tristan notices something is wrong with
the brakes and he can’t slow down. As Ivy is telling him to stop the
car, it accelerates even more and they end up in an accident in which
Tristan dies. Tristan doesn’t realize he is dead until he sees his
father standing over his body crying. Tristan decides he has to go to
Ivy and try to make it clear to her that he loved her. After Tristan’s
death, everything takes a left turn when Gregory’s mother kills
herself. Tristan soon discovers he has to keep Ivy safe from the
person who killed Gregory’s mother.

I loved this book from start to finish, and I finished it within a day
because I was so engulfed in the story that I couldn’t put it down.
The book switches from Ivy and Tristan’s point of view, so as the
reader I was able to experience the lives and love for each other
through each person’s point of view. Tristan had a love for Ivy that
most people wish they had regardless of what age it happens, and it
was so real for me because I have loved like that so I was able to
relate to his character, and I was also able to relate to Ivy because
she was so oblivious to the fact Tristan was in love with her. Then
she had to deal with his sudden death and weather or not he knew she
loved him, too.

With so many romance novels injecting love scenes, I was glad the
author was able to create true and intimate love without the physical.
The imagery of the scenes with Tristan and Ivy immediately thrusts you
into their world and you are being surrounded by their love and
drowning in it without wanting to come up for air.

The book really gets good when it turns out that Gregory’s mother
didn’t kill herself but was murdered, and the killer thinks Ivy saw
him and tries to go after her on many occasions. Since Tristan can’t
help her as an angel, he decides to enter the minds of her friends
Beth and Will to help protect her. Will and Beth end up being
important players in the story.

Swimwear For Big Breasts

Damn it all to hell! I was hoping to save this post until we were a little more acquainted; however, one thing you should know about me is I give tough love when it comes to style and fashion. My tough love is not to demean or tear you down, but to help you look your best–and not to end good friendships over horrible fashion advice.

So here goes…

Recently, I was on Instagram when I came across the most heart-stopping, jaw-dropping selfie I had ever seen–none of which, in this particular instance–was a good thing.

A woman was on a beach wearing a one-piece swimsuit with a plunging neckline just below her navel. Now, the swimsuit would have been fine if the woman’s breast didn’t resemble two flat tires on a Target’s truck; mind you, this was the view of her lying down.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a full bust; however, when gravity has completely let you down (no pun intended), it’s time to be realistic and find a swimsuit that both flatters and supports your full bust.

I will touch more on bra buying and fittings on another day.

Fact one: Larger breasts are much heavier than smaller breasts, therefore, proper support is much more crucial. Even though the majority of support comes from the band, the wire helps to lift and shape your boobies which means string bikini tops are OUT!

Swimwear design has come a long way for women with larger bust lines by giving them more support, better cuts, and better fabric choices.

Listed below are tips for choosing the right swimwear for your bust and style. Just because you have larger boobies doesn’t mean your swimwear choices are limited, it just mean you have to shop around a little more 😉

  • Choose a top with sturdy, adjustable straps. The straps should be as comfortable as the ones on your bras. No string tops, ladies!

 

  • If possible, try and search for swimwear tops in your bra size. I find those types of tops are easier to fit unlike the small, medium, and large which are not made equal. More on size in another post.

 

 

  • Find a top with cups supported by underwire which will help keep the shape of your breasts, or create shape if you’re lacking it.

 

  • Push-up swimwear tops are more of a personal choice; however, if you’re going to go that route, try searching for a push-up no more than a cup bigger than your size. I’m all for the pin-up look ladies, but there is a time and a place for everything.

 

  • If you’re someone who is comfortable wearing a one piece, make sure the cups are sturdy and supportive as a two-piece top. There are one-pieces that do not have underwires, but I would not recommend them because they will just make your breasts look droopy. Always go for underwire if possible. We want perky boobies, not sad and depressed boobies.

 

  • When deciding on colors and prints, make sure the color flatters your complexion. Brighter colors make you appear larger, while darker coolers make you appear smaller. The same rules apply for prints as well. If you have trouble deciding on a print, always look at the background color because it’s usually dominant. If the color is warm (bright)—bigger, and if the color is cool (dark)—smaller.

 

Define Your Style

Whether you want to believe it or not, your style is a reflection of who you are. When people first see you, their introduction to who you are is through your image. Are you making a good first impression?

In order to develop great style, you must first define yours. Who are you?

It’s really easy to get caught up in what society deems as fashionable: Having the latest it item that is currently trending; having a closet full of designer clothes; having a tiny frame with large implants because clothes ‘look’ the best on such body types, etc.

With so much noise coming from the world it’s no wonder our voices get easily drowned out

I’m going to tell you two things that will help lessen the noise: Style will first and foremost be a reflection of who you are, your personality and your lifestyle. For example, if you’re an edgy, punk rock type of chick, then trying to dress like the glam girl or preppy girl will be a complete disservice to you.

Second, no matter what your dominant style category or personality is, you will always find yourself crossing over to other style categories. Therefore, NEVER box yourself into any one category. There is nothing wrong with experimenting with your style—that’s what fashion is all about.

Homework!

In order to determine your style you have to have a firm understanding of who you are. I want you to grab a sheet of paper, and label the top “All about me.” With your age included—because it is important that we dress our AGE—write your values, hobbies, likes and dislikes, favorite style icon (whose style you love and want to replicate), adjectives to describe your personality, and your overall lifestyle in general. You do not have to share if you do not want to; however I plan on posting my “All about me” just to give you an example of what yours should look like.

In the next post, I will be talking about different style categories/personalities. Hopefully you will be able to decide which type you are based on your answers from your “All about me” homework.

Book Review: Thrive by Arianna Huffington

9780804140843Disclosure: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Just how far are you willing to go to achieve success? Painting a vivid picture of herself lying in a pool of her own blood after collapsing from exhaustion, this is just one of many questions Arianna Huffington had to ask herself.

Thrive: The third metric of redefining and creating a life of well-being, wisdom, and wonder is about not conforming to society’s ideology that money and power are the true measures of success. Armed with experiences, tips, and published scientific studies, Arianna Huffington challenges you to define what success means to you.

In Arianna’s quest to define what success means to her, she realized success isn’t complete with just money and power alone–it requires the Third Metric: Well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.

The Third Metric is all about self-care. Throughout the book, there are numerous examples of how in order to be successful, we tend to neglect ourselves and our relationships by being stressed and overworked. The Third Metric challenges that idea by saying you can find that balance of success and a happy life if we take care of ourselves–body, mind, and soul–and discover our values and what is important to us and start living our lives accordingly.

The two most significant things I took away from the book is that working myself into the ground does not help me be more productive, and it hinders my health if anything. The effects of the research and studies about how work related stress and burnout have serious consequences to your health–some even deadly–were mind-blowing because we’re so caught in status aspect of success that we don’t even consider the damage we’re doing to ourselves and our relationships. Thus, setting ourselves up for material rewards and accolades, but bankrupting our values and the really important things that humans value and need that no price tag can ever match.

I must admit while watching Arianna Huffington on her tour, I assumed from some of her conversations the book was an autobiography. However, I was just as pleased with what I read, and loved the tips included at the end of each chapter which are to help implement the Third Metric.