Thursday, May 25, 2017

Awesome Life Friday #114

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

Here's a bit of what we've been up to this week:

Unboxing: March Anime Bento Box
Mom's Almond Puff Danishes

And now our favorite part - the FEATURES !  If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!

DIY Room Divider Upgrade // Of Faeries & Fauna Craft Co.
"The downstairs needs a screen to hide the stack of projects waiting to be done, its such a mess.  It took convincing but Hubs tagged along to some garage sales.    We found a very dirty and smoke covered room divider.  A privacy screen was on my hope to find list and the $10 was much less than the cost of making one from lumber."

Why You Need to Make a Toad Abode // The (mis)Adventures of a Born Again Farm Girl
"Trust me, you will know when one moves in because you will hear it telling all its friends about the great place it found to call home. Not only will you enjoy the amusing sounds of your new neighbor, but thanks to him or her, you will enjoy your outdoor time with fewer insects!"

Spicy Sriracha Veggie Stir-Fry // My Holistic Hart
"It’s the spice combination with the sriracha sauce that really makes the dish. Serve it over some brown rice or whole wheat pasta for a complete meal."

Terra Cotta Pot Windchimes // Crafts by Amanda
"Add various sizes of pots, a few wood beads, and some twine and you will have music in your garden in minutes."

Citrus Fruit Potholder // Knitting and So On
"This "fruity" potholder will brighten up your kitchen and bring a summery atmosphere to your home."

Friday Favorites - Charcuterie Board // The Queen in Between
"Is there anything better on a Friday evening than to arrive home and not have to worry about dinner?  Last week I decided a simple, “snacky”, dinner and some wine would be the perfect way to start the weekend."

If you are one of our FEATURED bloggers, this button is for you!

Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!

Are you all ready to party?  If you like, we'd love it you'd help spread the word by grabbing our button:

Here we go!

Mom's Almond Puff Danish #CooktheBooksClub

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I am participating in the Cook the Books Club, where bloggers collectively read a book that is food based in some manner, and then prepare a dish inspired by the book.

The April/May book selection was Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family and Forgiveness, by Sasha Martin.  The invitation for this round's challenge,hosted by Eliot's Eats is here.

Sasha Martin is also the blogger behind the extensive blog Global Table Adventure, a truly fascinating collection of essays and recipes from around the world.  Sasha, her husband and her young daughter took on a project to eat a meal from every country, and learning not only about food and other places (and in the case of her husband, working to overcome a lot of food pickiness), but about themselves as well.

The result was Life from Scratch - initially intended to tell the story of the project, it instead lead Sasha to turn toward her own childhood and past, as she realized that for her, cooking had always been a connection to otherwise very difficult relationships, as well as a solace through periods of life that were painful and often harsh.

Through it all is her uneasy connection with her mother, who seems to be a free spirited artistic woman who, due to both circumstance and temperament, was not well suited to be a mother.

At times, this memoir was very painful to read, but I appreciated  the ambivalence that didn't attempt to make her mother's choices sound better than they were, or to write her off as merely the villain of the story. Others in her life are also depicted fairly - the pain they caused is described, but through her words, those that might be offered compassion are granted it.

Primarily, it is a story set in the real world of very flawed human beings often making very poor and selfish choices - and this makes it both an uncomfortable read as well as a compelling one.

Through it all are a few recipes, but I'd recommend visiting the website if your main interest is food (and do visit - it is sure to cost a few hours of riveting browsing) and read the book if you like memoir.

One of the more evocative passages had to do with her mother's specialty dessert, German Tree Cake (Baumtorten).  This led me to think about my own mother's culinary signature recipes for my own inspiration.

My mother was a woman I admire greatly as a person, but our relationship as mother and daughter was complex and difficult, and ultimately unresolved as she passed away last year after a long decline due to Alzheimers.  For this reason one of the things that spoke to me about Life From Scratch is the relationship that developed between mother and daughter later in the mother's life.

By the standards of her era (and I sometimes think we children soaked up our ideas of 'right' parenting mainly from idealized fiction), she was not very domestic at all all, and that was regarded as a failing regardless of whatever else she did.

My mother's way of navigating expectations was to perfect a few signature recipes for necessary occasions - a couple terrific entrees for dinner guests, as well as a side or two for holiday feasts we shared with other families.  She even learned to make bread and butter pickles and happily passed out jars to others as needed.

But her main signature recipe was this Almond Puff Danish - this went to potlucks, office gatherings, tea parties and bake sales.  If she'd even wanted to try something new (and she rarely did), people asked for this - it was her recipe, her thing.

I suspect it was also half the country's thing, because the recipe itself came from a set of Better Homes & Gardens subscription cards.  Anyone remember those? Each month, you'd get a packet of about 24 cards on a given theme, to be collected in a special, deep recipe box big enough for the whole set.  I think mom only ever used 3-4 of those recipes, but this one she made her own.

Mom's Almond Puff Danish

makes approx 16 slices
Preheat oven to 350F.

Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup flour
2 Tblsp. water

Top Layer:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1 cup flour
1 tsp. almond extract
3 eggs

1 cup powered sugar
2 Tblsp. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 Tblsp. milk
sliced almonds

Prepare bottom layer:
Combine flour and butter in a large bowl, and cut together with a pair of table knives or a pastry cutter, until it is grainy and well combined.

Sprinkle with water, and work with hands to form a dough (don't overwork).

Divide dough in half and shape into to rectangles on an ungreased cookie sheet. Pat down so that each rectangle is about 1/5" thick.  These needn't be shaped perfectly, but should be about the same thickness for even baking.   Set pan aside.

Prepare Top Layer:
In a medium saucepan, combine water and butter and bring to a boil, stirring to melt the butter.  Remove from heat, add extract, and then add flour all at once.  Stir vigorously until dough leaves the pot's sides, forming a ball (should take about a minute).  Add eggs all at once, and continue beating until eggs are incorporated and dough is smooth.

Pile topping on each triangle, spreading to cover.  It will be thick and high, and if you leave soft peaks in, the texture will be more interesting once baked.

Bake for one hour at 350F.  Cool completely on a wire rack on pan.

Cream softened butter, powdered sugar and almond extract thoroughly. Add water a bit at a time until desired thinness is achieved.  I prefer mine on the thinner side, but this can be made thicker if you like.

Remove pastries from pan and set directly on wire rack (they should be firm enough to move as long as you're careful).

Place rack on top of the pan.

Spoon glaze over the top - excess will drizzle through the rack to the pan.

Sprinkle with almonds, and pat down lightly.  Let sit about a half hour, until all glaze is set.

Slice into long bars and enjoy!


Check back in early June with Eliot's Eats to see the entire round up and see how other bloggers were inspired.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Party in Your PJs #159

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Happy Tuesday!

Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on three different blogs each week.   In addition to Kim from The Cookie Puzzle, you'll also find Party in Your PJs every Tuesday evening at Grandma Ideas, and here!

You'll also find the Awesome Life Friday link-up here at RCHReviews, every Thursday evening at 8pm ET so we hope to see you there as well.

Are you ready to party? I can't wait to see what you've brought to share!

Kim ~ The Cookie Puzzle | Facebook | Pinterest 
Nina ~ Grandma Ideas | Pinterest | Twitter
Lynda ~ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos | Facebook | Pinterest

 Meet the Co-Hosts

Kim @ The Cookie Puzzle 

Kim is a small town girl who love simple things. Simple cookies, simple crafts and simple people. She is a wife, mother to one son and two adorable fur babies. Slightly addicted to reality TV and sitcoms, but she loves curling up with a good book or a good walk while listening to podcasts. You can find her at The Cookie Puzzle, where she shares her love for cookies and crafting. 

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

How is this: Nina is wildly in love with her grandchildren. She delights in doing activities with them that strengthen their relationship –- playing games, doing crafts, snuggling, reading stories to them, and cooking together. She enjoys reading, technology, and traveling. (Tahiti is her most favorite place on earth!)

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Lynda lives outside DC with her husband Michael and elderly beagle, Sadie. She and her daughter Jackie started RCHReviews as a way to spend time together in spite of living across country, and along the way they've added several friends as regular contributors. Between them all, they bring together many different perspectives and lifestyles with one common philosophy - try new things, have fun, and remember you are awesome!

The rules for the group board include:
1. Limit of one pin a day.
2. Just like the party anything goes, but clear wonderful pictures with great descriptions are most successful.
3. Please no Spam ( Spammers will be deleted without warning)
4.  If you pin to the Pinterest Board, please link to the Party in Your PJs Party also, the party runs from 7 pm Tuesdays-Midnight Saturday (Central Time)
5.  Finally have fun and share this group board  with blog friends and followers!  The more success the group board is the more success you will see from your pins.

Want to be added to the group board?  Follow our Party in Your PJs board and email Kim at

Features from Last Weeks Party!

 to see their features - we each pick our own!

All links are pinned to a Party can follow the board on Pinterest...feel free to follow the board, there is lots of inspiratioPn to be found there.

Ok...let's party!

Rules -Link to post, not your home page
-Link to something YOU made, wrote or thought
-No Etsy or Business Pages
-Link Parties, Roundups and Giveaways welcome
- Don't Link and Run! Please visit other links, make friends, learn something new, leave a comment.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Unboxing: March Anime Bento Box

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Once again, this past month, I was treated to an Anime Bento Box in my mailbox! For those of you unfamiliar with Anime Bento, it is a subscription box filled with anime/manga goodies and a snack from Japan. Each box also includes a tee shirt!

In this month's box, I received another DIY treat kit, a Yuri on Ice tee shirt, a folder, a CD with anime music, two cell phone charms, and a $5.00 gift code to bookwalker, a website selling digital manga and light novels. The one thing that was missing from this box that has always been included in the others was a card detailing the contents, but that's ok, I could figure it out with my friend!

The treat kit was entirely in Japanese, which meant that once again, I had to rely on only the pictures to make it. I don't think I did half bad, as the pictures are very detailed. It ended up being this color changing fizzy sweet. It' wasn't bad, but lacked any definite flavor and the texture was...odd.

Yuri on Ice is not an anime that I am familiar enough with to instantly recognize, but my friend did! This light blue shirt has a skate with the quote “we were born to make history”. It makes a great lounging around the house shirt.

The folder is another pocket style that I don't see in stores around here, but is still pretty useful. Though I don't know the anime, and lack the information card, it seems to be an Alice in Wonderland theme that is nonetheless pretty to look at. I love the detailed artwork in anime stills and there's always something interesting to find.

I was very excited for the CD with anime music, as I think that anime intros and credit songs are, for the most part, super fun! I never skip them when binging! This CD has six tracks, but only three songs. The first three are the regular versions, and the last three are the karaoke versions! I'm honestly not mad, as it makes for good background music.

The two cellphone charms are identical, a pink haired girl, and I instantly knew that they were to become the BFF charms for my bestie and I! Unfortunately, mine broke within the first couple days from getting caught on my seatbelt while my phone was in my pocket. Hers, however, still dangles from her phone case!

The last thing in this box was a $5.00 gift card to the website bookwalker. I knew instantly that I wanted to use it towards getting the next book of the Ancient Magus Bride! Using it was easy, and I'm glad to be aware of a digital source of new manga.

If you think that this box and the others I've gotten sound like something you or someone you know of would enjoy, you can get your own subscription starting at $35.00/month!