Thursday, February 22, 2018

Awesome Life Friday #149

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!

And now the best part of Awesome Life Friday -  the FEATURES!

Flamingo Toes // Lets Be Adventurous Glitter Globe Banner
'This sweet Let’s be Adventurers Glitter Globe Banner is easy to make up and it’s such a fun way to show off your love for travel and adventure!'

Of Faeries & Fauna // Forest Fairy Crown
'I took my youngest granddaughter’s wonderful impish personality and her love for forest faeries as my inspiration for this DIY fairy crown.'

The (Mis)Adventures of a Homesteadin' Mama // Easy to Make Baklava
'The other night, my hubby surprised us all with a dessert that the country kids had never had before. He whipped up some yummy baklava! It was so yummy, the youngest country kid snitch a second piece when no one was looking.'

Try It - Like It // How to Needlefelt a Cute Nome Home
'The first time I ever needle felted, I was on vacation and found a small inexpensive kit at Daiso, a Japanese Yen Store. I made a duck. After that, I was hooked...'

The Bearded Hiker // Chicken Adobo & Black Bean Tacos
'You guys know, I love me some tacos.  I love easy.  And I love cilantro.  If you don’t dig cilantro, these chicken adobo and black bean tacos are not for you.  Please leave now.'

The Kittchen // Why You Should Visit Lapland in Winter
'I first visited Finland in May 2016, and I fell in love with the country. Ever since my trip, Charles and I talked about going to Lapland in Winter to see the Northern Lights.'

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Simon's Chocolate Protein Birthday Cake #FireflyFeast

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This month's Fandom Foodies theme is Firefly/Serenity, hosted by Fictional Fare - I am a huge fan of Joss Whedon's all-too-short series, so I had to get in on this.

In the Firefly episode “Out of Gas”, Kaylee makes Simon Tam a big birthday cake to celebrate. Unfortunately, she couldn't get a hold of any flour, and it's mostly protein, well, essentially what they just had for dinner. But she tried to make it as chocolate-y as possible!

Earlier this month, I celebrated my own birthday, and decided to make my own version of Simon's birthday cake.

Now, because I am not wandering the known 'verse, getting my hands on flour is actually pretty easy. Shiny!

But in the spirit of the episode, I decided to try my hand at a new type of protein rich frosting, made from tofu!

Here is my interpretation of Simon's birthday cake, with a little homage to Kaylee's favorite fruit!

Simon's Chocolate Protein Birthday Cake

2 ¼ c all purpose flour
1 2/3 c sugar
¾ c softened butter
1 c dark cocoa powder
1 ¼ c whole milk
1 ¼ t baking soda
1 t salt
2 t vanilla
¼ t baking powder
2 c dark chocolate chips

Chocolate Protein Frosting (see below)

Preheat oven to 350* F. Grease bottom and sides of a Bundt pan.

Beat all ingredients with an electric mixer for 3 min on med/high speed. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into the pan.

Bake for about 50 min, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Protein Frosting
1 package soft tofu
powdered sugar to taste (I used about 2 cups?)
½ c dark cocoa powder

Mix tofu, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar until everything is a smooth, frosting texture. 

Spread frosting on cooled cake. 

For an added Kaylee touch, you can put sliced strawberries on top like I did!

Don't forget to head over to Fictional Fare to see how other bloggers are sharing their Firefly inspirations!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Blubarb Pork Tenderloin #FantasticalFoodFight


It's time for another round in the Fantastical Food Fight, where bloggers get together to create a dish using the challenge ingredient.  For February, the challenge was RHUBARB!

I'll admit I had no intention of participating in this one.  I have, I think, eaten rhubarb once, in a strawberry-rhubarb pie which was good, but not anything I was ever tempted to recreate.

I had no idea when it even came into season - I assumed around the same time as strawberries due to the frequency of that pairing, but it turns out that late winter/early spring is Rhubarb Season, at least in some areas.  Maybe?  Rhubarb confuses me.

Even if I could find it, this wasn't going to be the month for me to try it - rhubarb is very tart, which means it takes a lot of sugar, I'd assume, and we're not eating more than tiny amounts of sweetener this month.

Add to that that about all I actually know about preparing rhubarb is that it looks like celery but definitely isn't, and some part of it is poisonous to eat, and I have very little idea of which part. (I believe it's the leaves, but the idea is intimidating.)

So, I let this month go, thinking I'll just leave rhubarb to the professionals.

Then, while I was enjoying a gift set of jams I'd received from Blue Owl Preserves (reviewed here), I impulsively set aside the jar of Blueberry Rhubarb Jam.  I could do something with that!

It didn't take me long to decide what - I just looked over my upcoming menu plan (don't you love how very organized that makes me sound??  It is all lies.) and thought to my self, 'Self? What would this jam be good with?"  Self answered - pork tenderloin!

Easy enough - I used  the jam to make a glaze for pork tenderloin, and it turned out to be flavorful, tart and delicious!

You can, of course, use any variety or brand of jam you have available, but if you enjoy rhubarb, I highly recommend Blue Owl Preserves with its fresh Colorado grown fruits (as a side note, if you use the discount code RCH, you can take 10% off).  This variety, affectionately nicknamed 'Blubarb', tames the tartness of the rhubarb with brightly sweet blueberries, but still packs a delicious punch. The combination used with the pork reminded me a lot of a good cranberry sauce.

'Blubarb' Pork Tenderloin
serves 4

1 pork tenderloin
2 tsp. olive oil
seasoning to taste (I used Penzey's Florida Seasoned Pepper)

2 Tablespoons Blueberry Rhubarb Jam
1 Tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

Heat oven to 425F.
Coat the tenderloin in oil, then season well, patting seasonings so they stick.  Set in a rectangular baking pan (you may want to cover with foil, for easier cleanup).

Bake tenderloin for 20-25 minutes.  The internal temperature will be 145F when it's done - check with an instant read thermometer.

While the pork is baking, combine the jam and vinegar in a small saucepan, stirring to combine. Let this simmer gently for a few minutes to thicken.  If desired, some fresh blueberries would be wonderful, simmered in with the sauce.

Remove the sauce from heat until the pork is nearly done.

Spoon sauce over pork, spreading to cover, and let the pork cook just a couple more minutes to set the glaze.

Remove from oven, and let rest at least 5 minutes before cutting into medallions.

I served this with baked sweet potatoes and a large salad with blueberries to start.  The glaze was intensely flavorful and the tartness of the rhubarb took center-stage.

Pork tenderloins are a great way to get a reliably delicious meal on the table quickly, and I will be happy to serve it this way again - still leaving the rhubarb preparation to professions, of course!

This link up is only for Fantastical Food Fight entries - but I'd be delighted if you share your links with Party in Your PJs or Awesome Life Friday elsewhere on this blog!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Party in Your PJs #196

Happy Tuesday!

Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on four different blogs each week.

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.

What are you up to in this week? I can't wait to see what you've brought to share!

 Meet the Co-Hosts

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Facebook // Pinterest // Twitter // Instagram

Teresa @ Aging Like a Fine Wine

Facebook // Pinterest // Twitter // Instagram

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.

Lynda's Features!

 Make sure you head over to the other members of Party in Your PJs
 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.

Monthly Watch Club (Review/Giveaway)


When it comes to men's fashion I will be the first to tell you that I'm not great at it. I feel most comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans. And that's how I tend to dress most of the time. Now that my current profession in the Army is coming to an end though, it's time to step up my game a little and prepare for a respectable civilian career.

One thing I've been learning from research is that when considering a professional wardrobe, it's a general rule of thumb for men is that you can wear two accessories: a ring and a watch.

Anything more than that can look sloppy and juvenile, or overdressed, especially if you don't know what you're doing.

I wear my wedding ring all the time, so the only thing that leaves open for me is a watch; of which I own approximately zero.

Watches are hard for me to choose.

I have exceptionally small wrists and I admittedly tend to prefer smart watches over conventional analog or digital designs. And when it comes to fashionable, analog wins, right?

Lets face it. I need some help.

I could go to a store and have the sales people try to push me their most expensive product, sure. But that's not who I am. It's not so much about the money spent for me, but about the quality of the product and its aesthetics. I would happily wear a $5 watch as long as I didn't have to buy a new one in a few days and I found it visually appealing.

Monthly Watch Club is a company based out of Canada that helps to take the guess work out of watch shopping. They provide a unique, custom made watch every month that is yours to keep. They work with watch makers from around the world to provide quality products for $25.00 USD ($33.00 CAD) a month.

When the opportunity to review them came up I was happy to be the one to give it a try, especially after I saw what they did for my fellow RCH writer, Jessica, with their Watch Club for Women.

This could be exactly the help I've been looking for.

The watch I recieved was their men's watch for the month of September 2017. It features a 41mm gold colored front enclosure, stainless steel back, glass face, and a 23cm brown leather band. The watch weighs only 50 grams, uses the PC32 Quartz movement, and is even water resistant.

The watch is very elegant in appearance. I will say, though that it feels a little feminine with the smaller 41mm face even on my small wrists. But maybe that's just me (remember, I'm used to big smart watches, if I wear any at all).

Another thing to note is that this watch is kind of loud. Maybe I'm just not used to hearing the ticking on my wrist but it feels a little distracting in times of quiet.

But with two kids, who really gets that any more? Ha!

On first impression, the watch didn't feel to be of a terribly high quality, due to how lightweight it is. That's again possibly because I am used to smart watches which are generally MUCH heavier than 50 grams. Close to triple that for some of the ones I've owned.

But lets face it, I'm not really a watch guy. And at only $25.00 for an attractive watch, I really can't complain much about it.

And a subscriber to the Monthly Watch Club would get a new watch every month, so you could build a wardrobe of watches to choose from on any given day - they don't need to be tough enough to withstand daily use over a long period of time.

It definitely feels more like an adult watch than I'm used to.

With all that being said, I would certainly continue a subscription with them. I've looked over some of their past watches (which can be purchased from their website in addition to the subscription) and am quite intrigued by their selection.

While I don't feel that this particular watch is really my style there are plenty of other past watches that I feel look great and would be a daily accessory for me, so I know a good percentage of the watches received on a subscription would quickly find a place in my (new, adult, professional) wardrobe.  And I'm confident you'd find the same!

Monthly Watch Club has generously agreed to do a giveaway for our readers! They are providing a watch to 3 winners anywhere in the world! Read on to see how you can enter to win!

You can check out Monthly Watch Club and everything they have to offer at the links below.
Until next time...

Three Winners in World Wide will win a watch from Monthly Watch Club in their choice of Men's or Women's, valued at $39.99 CAD (approx. $25.00 USD). 

This Giveaway ends at just before midnight ET March 7, 2018

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Giveaway Tools Entry Form below. This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning. (If you don't leave a comment, any additional entries will be void.)

The winner will be notified by email 24 to 48 hours after the end of the giveaway by email. In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 24 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Awesome Life Friday #148 - February New Moon TUSAL

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!

Today is the February New Moon - and that means several needleworkers share their TUSAL (Totally Useless Stitch-A-Long) container of thread snippets from the work they've done this past month.

Honestly, I've done a bit but not as much as I hoped - we have decided to move in March, and that's kept me too busy for much stitching time.  I'll share what I've been working on in a few days, but here's my ORT jar (that's Old Ratty Threads).  Our dog Sasha lost interest as soon as it was clear there was no bacon hiding in there.

And now the best part of Awesome Life Friday -  the FEATURES!

As February hits the halfway point, I'm starting to long for Spring - while we wait look at all the ways to evoke blooms soon to come!

Savory Flower Bread // Treat n' Trick
"This Savory Flower Bread is soft, tender and tasty.  It was made with a basic sweet bread."

Wedding Mason Jars Made with Cut Felt // The Country Chic Cottage
"You can make your own wedding mason jars in minutes with some cut felt and a little twine.  Okay, maybe you are not planning a wedding but these jars are just too cute to resist for any occasion." 

Chocolate Cupcakes with Lavender Buttercream Frosting // Sparkle Living Blog
"Torani’s Lavender syrup is amazing. The lavender isn’t strong and overwhelming like I had worried. Instead, the flavor is light and delicate. It’s absolutely exquisite. Immediately, I knew that this lavender flavor would pair well with chocolate cake."

Fabric Flower Boutonnieres & Faux Leather Steampunk Label Pins //
Blowing Away Out West
"My challenge this month is to create stylish fabric flower boutonnieres and faux leather steampunk lapel pins using those Pinterest pins as inspiration." 

Garden Guide Planning for 2018 with Printables // Comfort Spring Station
"In most of the country, winter is a “downtime” in the garden. For the next few months, you have time to consider what you want to add or change in your garden."

DIY Mason Jar Sconces // Live Craft Love
"I love mason jars.  Like really, really love all the jars.  So how do I work more DIY mason jar ideas into my decor?  Hang them on the wall with a mason jar wall sconce of course."  

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!