Category Archives: Reviews

Holding Tight to the Permanent One


“How quickly things change. Life is a given until it isn’t,” writes Amanda as she shares about her father’s battle with cancer.

“For a long time, nothing was certain except that life was uncertain,” Raechel adds, as she describes the brokenness in her childhood home.

Two women, two stories–different, yet not so different from yours or mine. In their new book She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That’s Passing Away, authors Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams share experiences in their lives that we all can identify with. As I was reading through my review copy, I realized that even though our stories are different, they’re similar in many ways. Loss, illness, financial setbacks, family relationships–we all can relate to the pain, the stress, the worry, and the uncertainty of life’s ups and downs. But the stories don’t end there. Raechel and Amanda write about how faithful God has been in every situation. And how they found comfort in the Truth of His Word and strength in His promises.

14322622_732489793750_5655470604830158633_nWe live in a world that is temporary and fleeting, but  the authors of She Reads Truth emphasize that in this world of uncertainty, God is permanent, unchanging, and ever-faithful. He is our Rock–the One we can always hold on to, the One who is always holding us. And He specializes in redemption. He redeems our stories in beautiful, unexpected, unpredictable ways.

“Sometimes, by God’s sweet grace, the hard stuff is also the most worth–it stuff.” says Raechel. “Because of God’s proven faithfulness to us, His people, we can put our hands squarely on each other’s shoulders, look one another in the eye, and remind each other that God is at work. Without a doubt. Redemption is always coming.”

In Amanda’s words, “He is the God who penned redemption’s story, from before the beginning of time all the way to the fingertips of eternity’s outstretched hand. He is the God who is not bound by my efforts or held back by my doubt. He is the God who is Love infinite, Love perfected, Love inextinguishable.”

I found this book so encouraging because it points to our everlasting God and His unchanging promises. He is the Permanent One–the Alpha and Omega who is, who was, and who is to come. He has always been there for us and always will be. He takes the brokenness of our lives and creates something beautiful from it. He will never stop loving us and loves us more than we will ever be able to comprehend.

He holds us close by the Truth of His Word. Let’s always hold tight to Him!

Authors Raechel Meyers and Amanda Bible Williams also have an online community called She Reads Truth–to learn more about it, visit

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.

Finding Strength in Beauty

Lovely Pansies @ NancyC

51AAkaaspaL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_In some way I feel you here with me as I write, and I hope you feel that I’m there with you as you read, just your friend, across the table at a coffee shop, swapping stories and sharing hope,” Annie F. Downs writes at the beginning of her new book, Looking for Lovely. And as I read my review copy of the book, I really did feel that way–like I was having coffee with a good friend, sharing life…funny stories, disappointments, struggles…and most importantly, seeing together the hope beyond the difficult times.

Annie challenges us to look for the beauty around us in simple everyday moments, because it’s in those moments we see God in unique ways and we’re reminded of His love and care for us. And we draw strength from that–strength and encouragement to keep us going on our journey. Annie explains, “There is a correlation, I’m finding, between beauty and perseverance….Beauty is what makes it possible to keep going. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? It’s not just in the things everyone sees, but it is what YOU see, what sticks out to you, the unique moments God gives you to collect up and hold and draw strength from.” 

Strength for the journey–we all need that! Annie, in her very personal, honest style, shares some of her own struggles–things that so many of us can relate to. And how finding loveliness in simple things like a sunrise or time spent with friends helps her see God’s love and His truths more clearly. God blesses our lives with loveliness in so many ways and it’s all around us, like little gifts He surprises us with every day.

I found that I had a new perspective after reading this book. I realized, as Annie points out, that an everyday occurrence like a sunrise is a beautiful reminder that there’s an end to darkness–it’s the beauty God created for us that helps get us through the hard times, keeps us from quitting, and gives us hope. Annie sums it up perfectly when she says, “I’m believing what I cannot see because of what I can see.” And after reading her book, I’m inspired to do the same.

Linked to Thursday Favorite ThingsCreate With Joy.

Salted Dark Chocolate Coffee Bark

Salted Dark Chocolate Coffee Bark @ NancyC

On chilly mornings, I like to have a hot cup of coffee to start my day. With cream. I don’t like black coffee or sugar in my coffee, but I love having cream in my coffee! But cookingwithcoffeeapparently you can do so much more with coffee, as I discovered when I received a review copy of Cooking with Coffee by Brandi Evans. It’s a hardcover book with 60 recipes and lots of color photos.

The book begins with a brief history of coffee, benefits of coffee, different brewing options, and popular ingredients to use with coffee. Then you’ll find recipes for baked goods; homemade coffee creamers; drinks and smoothies; sauces, dips, and toppings; savory foods; and sweets and snacks. Recipes include:

  • Espresso Banana Muffins
  • Coffee and White Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
  • Salted Chocolate Coffee Creamer
  • Peanut Butter Mocha Smoothie
  • Chocolate-Coffee Gravy
  • Coffee Maple Vinaigrette
  • Chicken Enchiladas with Quick Coffee Ranchera Sauce
  • Triple Chip Espresso Cookies

I decided to try the Salted Dark Chocolate Coffee Bark, because I thought it would be a great recipe to keep in mind as a food gift for the holidays. It’s easy to make and only has 3 ingredients, so you can whip it up easily and quickly. You just need to give the bark enough time to harden, at least an hour, before you break it up into pieces. It makes a great sweet treat for coffee and dark chocolate lovers! The recipes says to use 10 ounces of 60% dark chocolate, so I used one 10-ounce bag of dark chocolate chips and that worked perfectly!


Makes about 2 cups pieces of bark

  • 10 ounces 60% dark chocolate or semisweet
  • 1/4 cup whole coffee beans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons large flake sea salt (I used less salt-more like 1 teaspoon, and that was salty enough for me!)

Over a double boiler or in a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate until it’s just warm enough to completely melt when you stir (a few minutes over the double boiler or 1-2 minutes in the microwave, checking every 30 seconds).

Pour the chocolate onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and smooth out into an even layer.

Sprinkle the melted chocolate with the coffee beans and the sea salt.

Let the chocolate set at least 1 hour, then break into bite-sized pieces.

Like I mentioned earlier, this bark makes a great homemade food gift. Or you may want to give the book itself to a coffee-loving friend. Are you a coffee-lover yourself, and do you use coffee in any recipes?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, FoodieFriDIY, Sunday Features, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Tasty Tuesday, Wow Us Wednesdays, Wake Up Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Share Your Style, Thursday Favorite Things, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Create It Thursday, Fabulous Foodie Friday.

Breakfast Berry Scooper Cake and Yogurt

Breakfast Berry Scooper Cake @ NancyC

It’s hard to believe we’re almost through November already and looking forward to the 51oDdaQDHAL._SX442_BO1,204,203,200_Thanksgiving holiday! I didn’t realize until this year that November is also American Diabetes Month. In 2012, 9.3% of the American population (or 29.1 million Americans) had diabetes, so chances are that you or someone you know has been diagnosed with it. I recently received a review copy of the Two-Step Diabetes Cookbook by Nancy S. Hughes, so I thought I’d share a little about the book and try out a recipe.

This cookbook includes over 150 recipes that are simple, quick, flavorful, and healthy. And everyday ingredients are used to create these diabetic-friendly dishes. Some of the recipes include:

  • Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
  • Apple-Walnut French Toast
  • Pepperoni Mozzarella Pita Crisps
  • Corn and Black Bean Salsa Salad
  • Vanilla Honey Sweet Potatoes
  • Veggie-Loaded Sweet Corn Muffins
  • Herb-Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables
  • Cinnamon Raspberry Cookie Cake Squares

I decided to try the Breakfast Berry Scooper Cake, which is served with Greek yogurt. This breakfast cake is very, very moist, lightly-sweet and packed with fruit. If you serve this hot, you can scoop it out of the pan. If you serve it warm or cool, you can cut into squares, which is what I did. The yogurt is a nice creamy pairing with the cake, giving you a slightly sweet, slightly tart taste combination–a great option for your morning meal!


Makes 9 servings in an 8″square pan (2 1/2″ square and 1/3 cup yogurt per serving)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used unbleached flour)
  • 7 Tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 (1-pound) bag frozen mixed berries
  • 3 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Meanwhile, combine the flour, all but 2 teaspoons of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, buttermilk, egg, oil, and extract in a medium bowl. Whisk together until smooth and pour into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray; top with the frozen berries.

Bake 1 hour or until browned and wooden pick inserted 2 inches from edge comes out clean. Remove from oven, place pan on cooling rack, and sprinkle with remaining sugar (I forgot to sprinkle on the remaining sugar, but I didn’t really miss having it on there). Serve hot, warm, or room temperature with yogurt on the side.

Cook’s Tip: If serving hot, use a spoon to remove. It will be a “loose” pudding cake texture. If serving warm, carefully cut into squares and use a flat spatula to remove; it will be a very moist pudding cake texture. If serving room temperature, cut into squares. Use a flat spatula to remove. It will be a firmer, but still very moist, pudding cake texture.

EXCHANGES/CHOICES: 2 Carbohydrate, 1 Protein, lean 1/2 Fat

BASIC NUTRITIONAL VALUES: Calories 215 (Calories from fat 45), Total Fat 5.0 g (Saturated Fat 0.5 g, Trans Fat 0.0 g), Cholesterol 20 mg, Sodium 175 mg, Potassium 180 mg, Total Carbohydrate 30 g (Dietary Fiber 2 g, Sugars 17 g), Protein 11 g, Phosphorus 170 mg

My cake had browned quite a bit on top, so next time I’ll check to see if it’s done at 55 minutes instead of 60. You may want to do that too, especially if your oven tends to run hot.

Even if you don’t have diabetes, the recipes in this cookbook give you lots of great ideas on ways to eat healthier. What are some of your favorite healthy breakfast dishes?

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Linked to Fiesta Friday, FoodieFriDIY, Sunday Features, Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Tasty Tuesday, Wow Us Wednesdays, Wake Up Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Share Your Style, Create It Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Fabulous Foodie Friday, Feathered Nest Friday.

Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn @ NancyC

Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn

Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn @ NancyC

SallysCandyAddicitonWhen I think of autumn flavors, cinnamon is one of the first to come to mind for me. I use cinnamon in quick breads, muffins, cakes, all kinds of treats…and I guess that’s why this Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn stood out to me. I found it in my review copy of Sally’s Candy Addiction: Tasty Truffles, Fudges & Treats for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix. Written by Sally McKenney, the blogger behind Sally’s Baking Addiction, this book has over 75 recipes for wonderful homemade sweets and colorful photos of them that show how irresistible they are.

Just to give you an idea of what you’ll find in this cookbook, here are some recipes that were calling out to me:

  • Southern-Style Pecan Pralines
  • Chocolate-Dipped Cocoa Marshmallows
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Bark
  • Mint Truffles
  • Chocolate Sea-Salt Caramels
  • Salted English Toffee
  • Overloaded Cinnamon Spice Brittle
  • Pretzel M&M’s Puppy Chow
  • Birthday Cake Fudge
  • Crazy Candy Deep-Dish Cookie Cake

So you get the idea…so many yummy things to try!

And as I mentioned, because cinnamon has been on my mind with the arrival of fall, I had to try the Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn. Inspired by a caramel sticky bun drizzled with vanilla glaze, this caramel corn has a yummy, slightly cinnamony caramel coating and it’s drizzled with melted white chocolate–a combination that’s hard to resist! Here’s the recipe if you want to try it…

CINNAMON BUN CARAMEL CORN from Sally’s Candy Addiction

Makes 7 cups

  • 7 cups air-popped popcorn
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 1 cup of white chocolate chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 200˚F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Spread the popcorn evenly onto the baking sheets. Set aside.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt in a 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until butter has melted. Next, bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. allow to boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda. The caramel will immediately foam and bubble. Give it a quick stir, then stir in the vanilla and cinnamon. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss gently until all of the kernels are coated.
  3. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Allow to cool on the pans, then break apart large clusters if desired. Melt the white chocolate,* being careful not to overheat it. Once melted, immediately drizzle over the caramel corn and allow to cool.

Once cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.

*To melt chocolate in the microwave: Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and place the bowl in the microwave. Heat on 50 percent power in 15- to 20-second increments, stirring the chocolate between each increment (It took about 90 seconds for me to melt my 1 cup of vanilla chips). Also, Sally advises: When microwaving, you don’t need to completely melt the chocolate before removing it from the microwave, because the warmed chocolate will continue to melt as you stir it. Always stop early to be safe.

You do have to work fast once the caramel is finished cooking–pour it over the popped corn right after you mix in the baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla; if you don’t work fast, the caramel will start thickening as it cools and won’t be as pourable–and your caramel corn won’t be coated quite so evenly.

Caramel Corn is one of my favorite sweets and I really liked how this recipe tasted. Are you a fan of caramel corn too?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Simply Sundays, Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Sunday Features, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Wonderful Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Wow Us Wednesdays, Wake Up Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Inspiration Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Share Your Style, Feathered Nest Friday, Fabulous Foodie Fridays.

Orange Reboot Detox Smoothie @

Orange Reboot Detox Smoothie

Orange Reboot Detox Smoothie @

When I heard about the book Whole Body Reboot by Manuel Villacorta, M.S., R.D., the thing that got my attention was the 5-day smoothie detox plan, because I love smoothies. But this book is about much more than smoothies–it’s about Peruvian 51lJxBM4BoL._SX359_BO1,204,203,200_Superfoods and, as the cover mentions, includes a healthy eating diet plan and recipes to detoxify, energize, and supercharge fat loss. The book explains that Peruvian super foods fight cancer, reduce inflammation, boost energy, and enhance memory. There’s lots of great-sounding recipes and color photos in Whole Body Reboot–some recipes that sounded good to me were:

  • Roasted Artichoke Mashed Potatoes
  • Power Trail Mix
  • White Bean Avocado Wrap
  • Quinoa Parmesan Pizzettes
  • Sweet Potato Waffles

And there’s lots of recipes for different ways to fix chicken, fish, and pork in healthy ways.

At the beginning of the book, in chapter 2, is where you’ll find the Jump-Start Reboot Diet Plan. And that’s where you’ll find the five detox smoothies. The one I decided to make, the Orange Reboot, is supposed to be made on day 2 of the plan. It’s a lightly-sweet smoothie made with a blend of carrots, orange, and papaya, along with a few other very healthy ingredients. It’s also flavored with cinnamon, which gives the smoothie a nice spicy flavor. Considering I’m not that crazy about carrots, I thought the smoothie was pretty good.

So if you want to give your body healthy reboot, you’ll have to check out the book. And here’s the Orange Reboot smoothie recipe if you want to try it out!


Makes 1 large serving, about 21-22 ounces

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh carrots
  • 1/3 of a peeled orange, chopped (I used a medium-sized orange)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh papaya
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon Chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons (or 20-25 g) Protein Powder (rice, pea, or whey)

Put all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

There are a total of 135 recipes in Whole Body Reboot and 4 weeks of menus. You might need to add some new ingredients to your pantry to make some of these recipes, like Lucuma and Pichuberries. It sounds like a very healthy way to eat. Have you ever tried a diet like this?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies Cookies for breakfast? That sounds like a great idea to me! I’ve been wanting to make some breakfast cookies, so I was happy to find a recipe for them in my review copy of Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook by Unknownfood and fitness expert Camilla V. Saulsbury (Robert Rose, softcover). This cookbook is filled with 281 wholesome whole-grain recipes using naturally gluten-free grains and grain flours like amaranth, sorghum, teff, chia, buckwheat, and millet. There are recipes for breakfast dishes; soups, stews, and chilis; salads and sides; meatless main dishes; seafood, poultry, and meat main dishes; breads, muffins, and snacks; and desserts. Some of the yummy-sounding recipes in this book include Salted Caramel Banana Waffles, Lemony Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa Soup, Rainbow Chard, Chia, and Apricot Salad, Ancient Grain, Avocado and Mango Tacos, Fresh and Juicy Beef and Amaranth Burgers, and Flourless Fudge Brownies. And several breakfast cookie recipes caught my eye–I decided to try these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies–I just love the chocolate and peanut butter combination! These yummy cookies are thick, chewy, oaty, and chocolatey with a light peanut butter taste. They’re smaller cookies, so you’ll probably want a couple of them for breakfast or a snack. They’re very easy to make and have healthy ingredients like honey and coconut oil, so you can feel good about eating them. I substituted some non-gluten-free ingredients since I don’t have to eat gluten-free, and I thought they turned out great with the substitutions (see my notes in the recipe below). So whether you make them gluten-free or non-gluten-free, they’re a yummy treat for breakfast or snacktime!

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAKFAST COOKIES from Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook  Makes 30 gluten-free cookies (I’ve included notes for non-gluten-free cookies, too) 

  • 1 1/2 cups certified GF quick-cooking rolled oats (for non-gluten-free, use regular quick-cooking rolled oats)
  • 1 cup amaranth flour (for non-gluten-free, use all-purpose unbleached flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon GF baking powder (for non-gluten-free, use regular baking powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened peanut butter (for non-gluten-free, use your favorite peanut butter)
  • 1/4 cup liquid honey, pure maple syrup, or brown rice syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons melted virgin coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon GF vanilla extract (for non-gluten-free, use regular pure vanilla extract)
  • 2/3 cup GF semi-sweet chocolate chips (for non-gluten-free, use regular semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in eggs, peanut butter, honey, coconut oil and vanilla until just blended. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Drop batter by 2 Tbsp. onto prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. With a metal spatula, flatten each mound to 1/2-inch thickness. Bake, one sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until just set at the center. Let cool on pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool completely. Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Do you make gluten-free recipes, and have you tried making any breakfast cookies? Linked to Inspire Me Monday, Sunday Showcase, Full Plate Thursday, Let’s Get Real Friday.



UnknownI just finished reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. A friend had given me the book a few years ago, and I had it in my stack of books to read. I never have as much time to read as I’d like, so the book sat in my stack for awhile. When I heard the story was coming out as a movie last fall, I thought, I really need to read this now! I finally had a chance to get started on it a few months ago. It’s a great book, and I highly recommend it. If you’re not familiar with the story, in a nutshell, it’s about Louie Zamperini, a boy who often got into trouble growing up. His brother Pete, hoping to help change that, suggested that Louie get involved with the school track team when he was 15. And so Louie discovered his love and gift for running–running well enough to participate in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Hoping to participate in another Olympics, plans changed when World War II began and Louie enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He miraculously survived when the bomber he was serving on crashed into the ocean. But the ill-equipped life raft he and two other men were on was not discovered for another 47 days–47 days of fighting off sharks, weathering storms, having very little to eat, and developing blistering sores from the strong sun and saltwater waves. Unfortunately for Louie and the second survivor (the third man had died), they were finally found, but by the Japanese forces–and were held as Prisoners of War, undergoing unimaginable suffering and hardship. As I was reading Louie’s story, I just couldn’t imagine going through all the suffering that he did. But he never gave up–he always had hope. And he prayed. And God answered. One particular chapter told of how Louie and the other men, lost at sea on the raft, had gone without water for 6 days:

On the sixth day without water, the men recognized that they weren’t going to last much longer. Mac was failing especially quickly. They bowed their heads together as Louie prayed. If God would quench their thirst, he vowed, he’d dedicate his life to Him. The next day, by divine intervention or the fickle humors of the tropics, the sky broke open and rain poured down. Twice more the water ran out, twice more they prayed, and twice more the rain came. The showers gave them just enough water to last a short while longer. From Unbroken, end of Chapter 14

Louie would suffer many more hardships before the war finally ended. And even after the war ended. But with God’s help, he was able to endure and overcome them. You could say he ran his race well-very, very well. Louie died on July 2, 2014, several months before the movie came out, at age 97. I still haven’t seen the movie. Have you seen it or read the book?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.


Olive Oil Soap


Photo courtesy of The Best Homemade Natural Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps by Mar Gomez, 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Have you ever made your own soap before? I really like the idea of using homemade soap with natural ingredients and have been interested in trying to make some myself. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to review the new book, The Best Natural Homemade Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps (Robert Rose, softcover). 

UnknownThe book starts off by sharing some interesting history about soap making. In ancient times, soap mainly consisted of a mixture of boiled fat and ashes. The first people to make olive oil soap were the Syrians, several thousand years ago in the city of Aleppo. “The women of Aleppo realized that by adding ground bay leaves to soap, skin infections were reduced considerably; the leaves from the bay plant possess an extraordinary natural antiseptic.” And other soap-making discoveries continued over the centuries.

This book also includes preparation tips and utensil and ingredient guides so you have everything you need to make your own olive oil-based soap. The step-by-step instructions seem easy to follow and include information on therapeutic qualities of the natural soap additives in each particular recipe–additives like essential oils, beeswax, cocoa butter, kaolin clay, seaweed, and goat’s milk. Some of the 40 different soap recipes include Kiwi Soap, Lavender Soap, Marigold Soap, Seaweed Soap, Green Tea Soap, Chocolate Soap, Coconut Soap, Cinnamon Soap, Rosemary Soap…and many more great-sounding versions!


Image from The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

I was going to try making the basic Olive Oil Soap recipe. The ingredients are simple and basic enough–mineral water, lye (caustic soda), and extra virgin olive oil. However, I wasn’t able to find lye in any stores near me, so I guess I’ll have to order some from a soap-making supplier (there’s a list at the back of the book). In the meantime, I have permission from the publisher to share the recipe with you! Note: You’ll need safety goggles, a large saucepan, and a kitchen thermometer to make this soap.

OLIVE OIL SOAP from The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

  • 7.5 oz. mineral water
  • 3 oz. lye (caustic soda)
  • 1.5 lbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Scent (optional), store-bought or homemade
  1. Wearing gloves and goggles, pour mineral water into a large saucepan. Add lye slowly, stirring gently until it is dissolved.
  2. Using a thermometer, monitor the temperature of the lye mixture until it is between 120˚F and 140˚F.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat olive oil to between 120˚F and 140˚F.
  4. Remove olive oil from heat. Add lye mixture to olive oil, stirring slowly and trying not to splash.
  5. Stir occasionally, every 15 minutes or so, until the mixture thickens and congeals (it will have a texture similar to that of light mayonnaise).
  6. Stir in scent (if using). Stir for 1 minute with a spoon (or with a whisk, taking care not to create foam).
  7. Pour into a greased or paper-lined soap mold. Gently tap mold to remove any air bubbles.
  8. Cover with a blanket or towel and let stand for 2 days. Uncover and let stand for an additional day if the mold is very large.
  9. Turn soap out of mold. Wait another day, then cut into bars as desired.
  10. Dry bars for 1 month, turning occasionally to ensure they are drying uniformly.
Soap recipe from The Best Homemade Natural Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps by Mar Gomez, 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.


This sounds like a great soap for your skin! Homemade soap is a great DIY gift idea, too! Do you use or have you made any olive oil-based soap, or any other kinds of soap?

Linked to Thursday Favorite Things.


Chai Tea Latte


I enjoy drinking tea and recently had the chance to try three chai flavors from Choice® Organic Teas. They sent me their Chai Spice Black Tea and two of their new Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified chai flavors–Rooibos Chai and Masala Chai. If you’re chaiTeasnot familiar with chai teas, they’re blended with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, clove, and black pepper, giving them a warm, wonderful spiciness that tastes so good on a cold day!

The Chai Spice Black tea and Masala Chai have a rich spicy flavor that I love–both are made with Assam tea. The Chai Spice tasted just a little more spicier to me than the Masala Chai. These teas are perfect for making the Chai Tea Latte recipe that I posted below!

The Rooibos Chai tea is naturally caffeine-free and has a slightly milder spicy flavor, along with a subtle sweetness. Rooibos tea is one of my favorites because it’s such a healthy tea. If you’re wanting to make a caffeine-free Chai Latte, this would be a good tea to use.

I happened to make this Chai Tea Latte on a cold, snowy day and it was the perfect beverage to warm me up! Chai Tea Lattes are a nice change from coffee and hot cocoa. If you’ve never tried making one, you’ll need to try this–it’s easy and just as good as having one from a coffee shop! And it’s a healthy drink, too, sweetened with honey instead of sugar.


Makes 1 serving (about 8 to 9 ounces)

  • 1 Chai tea bag
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup milk (you’ll need a frother for the milk)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons honey (this is lightly sweet with 2 teaspoons, so use 3 if you want it sweeter)
  • ground cinnamon for sprinkling on top

Heat water to boiling, then steep tea bag in water for 5 minutes; remove tea bag and set aside.

While tea is steeping, add milk and honey in a microwave-safe container. Heat in microwave for 60 seconds or until hot (I heated mine for 60 seconds plus an additional 15 seconds). Stir milk and honey with spoon, blending well, then froth the mixture with a frother to make it light and foamy.

Pour the steeped tea into your serving cup (if it has cooled off, reheat in microwave for 15-30 seconds), then add the milk mixture to the tea. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top for garnish.

Do you drink chai tea? What about Chai Tea Lattes? This was the first time I tried making one, and I have a feeling I’ll be making many more!🙂

Linked to Full Plate Thursday, Tea Time #7 at EclecticOdds n Sods, Thursday Favorite Things, Lets Get Real Friday, Inspire Me Monday.