Perfectly Creamy Frozen Yogurt – Nicole Weston

Here I am in my winter pyjamas with thunder rumbling in the background. Apparently this is a good time to tell you about some tempting treats to cool you down on a hot summer day, and why not! I love frozen yoghurt regardless of the season!

Once you devour the recipes for the five basics (tangy & tart, vanilla bean, chocolate, dark chocolate and coffee), you’re then treated to another 51 flavours of fruits, sugar and spices, and chocolate and nuts. The subsequent chapters allow you to drool over:

  • Cookie and brownie sandwiches
  • Cakes, cupcakes, and pies
  • Semifreddos, terrines, and bombes
  • Popsicles, bonbons, and other treats, and
  • Sauces.

The frozen yoghurts I most want to try are (take a deep breath; there are a lot!) coffee, lemon meringue, mango, apple pie, maple bacon, spiced pumpkin pie, Dulce le Leche, tiramisu, gingerbread, and cookies ‘n’ cream. I also need ginger spice cookie sandwiches, coffee lovers’ cake, caramel banana cream pie, cinnamon bun pops and sugar cookie bowls in my life.

I was pleasantly surprised that the amount of ingredients needed for the confectionery bliss contained in this book didn’t compete with the entries in a phone book; a lot of the recipes had fewer than ten ingredients. I was shocked that I actually knew what each ingredient was, the aisle where I could find most of them in my local grocery store and how to pronounce the ones I wouldn’t be able to locate without assistance. Sidebar: there are so many recipe books on the market at the moment with ingredients I’ve never heard of!

It’s highly recommended that you use an ice cream maker for these recipes because it’s easier and doesn’t result in the potential chunks of ice mixed in with your flavour that can happen when you mix without one, but you’ll find instructions for both options in this book.

There are accompanying photos for each of the frozen yoghurts but only some of the other sugary goodness is pictured. I’ve been the proud creator of some fairly spectacular culinary epic fails so whenever I attempt a new recipe I prefer for there to be photographic evidence that the creation is possible and what it’s supposed to look like if you get it right. I can’t be expected to know how much laughter is appropriate if I can’t compare my finished product with the original.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Storey Publishing, LLC for the opportunity to drool over this book. Now that I’ve made myself sufficiently hungry I’m going to work out which flavour I want to try first and consider investing in an ice cream maker.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Learn to make frozen yogurt at home that’s just as light, smooth, and delightful as what you buy. You’ll use Greek yogurt as a base and a basic ice cream machine to make these 56 flavor recipes that range from traditional to artisanal, including black cherry vanilla, toasted coconut, peach Melba, chai spice, watermelon, maple bacon, chocolate malted, pistachio, and browned butter pecan. An additional 50 recipes for treats like blueberry sugar cookie sandwiches, brownie baked Alaska, Neapolitan semifreddo, cinnamon bun pops, and salted caramel swirl bonbons ensure this is the sweetest guide ever to making and enjoying frozen yogurt.

Forest Bathing Retreat: Find Wholeness in the Company of Trees – Hannah Fries

I’d never heard of forest bathing prior to being drawn to the photography on the front cover of this book. In the introduction Robin Wall Kimmerer simplifies the ethereal sounding concept, calling it what it really is, “daydreaming in the woods”. Personally I prefer the daydreaming description but the translation from the Japanese term shinrin-yoku is ‘forest bathing’ so my vote doesn’t count.

I assumed (wrongly) that shinrin-yoku would have its origins centuries ago and would be rich in eastern tradition. The term was first used in the 1980’s so it turns out that I’ve been practicing forest bathing since its inception. Growing up there was a fire trail behind our back fence that was kept clear by the locals and then there was the bush. For those of you outside of Australia, please pretend I’m saying either forest or woods whenever I refer to the bush.

I spent a good portion of my childhood going on bush walks with family and friends. I knew all the trails and even though a portion of it is now a concrete path (ew!) I still know it inside and out. My friends and I would go for walks or bike rides and we’d be gone all day; investigating, having a chat by the edge of the stream we found one day, going off-trail to see what new birds or trees we could find, using getting caught in a surprise storm as an excuse to waltz in the middle of a muddy path under a canopy of trees that were dripping a substantial amount of water on us.

I will be the first to admit I’d prefer to actually do forest bathing than read about it. I did wonder about the need for a book like this to encourage people to spend time hanging out in nature, then got sad as I remembered that peoples’ lives are so busy and screen based these days. Maybe it’s no longer a given that being in nature is something you do without a manual.

There are four sections in this book:

Breathe – a meditative noticing of your body and your surroundings, relaxing your muscles and paying attention to your breathing. Composer Oliver Caplan’s quote (abridged here) about krummholz really spoke to me:

“They remind me of the human spirit and our great capacity for resilience, a new possibility in every breath.”

Connect – connecting to your surroundings through your senses; basically grounding yourself.

Heal – forest bathing as medicine. You won’t find a big list of scientific studies spouting the health benefits associated with “daydreaming in the woods” but if you Google shinrin-yoku it won’t take you long to find them if you really need to know.

Give Thanks – you can figure this one out yourself. 😊

I’m not quite sure who to say this book is for. There will be the people who are totally into mindfulness that will most likely adore this book, with its mindfulness exercises, poetry and wisdom. I will forever be grateful to the person who, when I looked puzzled at the apparent complexity of the whole mindfulness thing, dumbed it down for me and said, “You do realise mindfulness is essentially just about being in the present, don’t you?”

There will be people like myself who have apparently been forest bathers their whole lives who’ll probably look at this book and think that it’s pretty and has some nice quotes and reminders. However, at the end of the day we’d rather be out doing the forest bathing than reading about it.

Initially I thought this could be a nice book for when you’re bogged down in the office and need a mental wander through the woods to centre yourself. Some sections would be helpful for this but the others where you’re basically given instructions on how to appreciate nature have the potential to fall kind of flat when you’re surrounded by concrete.

For those who need a how-to I can see this working if you read a section before you go for your wander and then apply the principles you’ve read about. However some of it reads like step by step instructions and I got this mental picture of someone taking this book with them, standing on the edge of a forest and paging through the book … noticing the edge of the forest … turning the page then pausing … turning the page and scanning their body and mind … trying to find the beginning of the next sentence on the page so they can find their next instruction. Kind of like how landscape photography can be wonderful but if you’re spending the whole time taking photos you don’t get the chance to appreciate the view.

I hope some people will pick up this book who have never forest bathed before because of factors like location or busyness. If this book gets them interested enough to discover how wonderful forest bathing is, then it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of it as it will have done its job.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Storey Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

People have been retreating to the woods for quiet, meditation, and inspiration for centuries, and recent research finds that time spent in the forest doesn’t just feel good but is, in fact, good for you. Inspired by the Japanese concept of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, poet Hannah Fries invites readers to bask in the company of trees, whether in a city park or a rural nature preserve.

Fries combines her own reflections and guided mindfulness exercises with a curated selection of inspirational writing from poets, naturalists, artists, scientists, and thinkers throughout the centuries and across cultures, including Japanese haiku masters, 19th century European Romantics, American Transcendentalists, and contemporary environmentalists. Accompanied by beautiful forest photography, Forest Bathing Retreat is a distinctive gift that invites frequent revisiting for fresh insights and inspiration.

Everyday Gratitude: Inspiration for Living Life as a Gift – A Network for Grateful Living

Everyday Gratitude is a collection of quotes from authors, spiritual leaders including monks and rabbis, and other well known people from history along with some I’d never heard of. Intended to make you think about your own life, each quote is accompanied by a question that encourages you in one or more of the following:

“1. STOP: Pause and awaken.

2. LOOK: Become aware of the gifts and opportunities around you.

3. GO: Take action based on gratefulness and great-fulness.”

This book used watercolours extensively. Looking at the backgrounds I remembered playing with watercolours in preschool; how the colours would blend together on the page and there’d be splotches of more intense colour amongst the watered down areas. That’s the feeling the backgrounds gave me, although unlike my works of ‘art’ these looked like they had purpose. Some were lines of colour, some were circles and others were more abstract.

“Though you may not change it, you can handle an ugly situation beautifully.”

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan

Personally I wasn’t a fan of the questions put to the reader under each quote. While some did make me think, the majority seemed to either be simply rewording the statement of the quote into a question or didn’t appear overly related to the quote at all. I expect some readers will appreciate the questions as a tool for introspection as they mine the quote for meaning. I prefer to ponder quotes without guidance, deciding what they mean to me at this time in my life or applying them to a specific circumstance.

Some of the quotes in this book are ones I’d expect to see on a poster in a pokey little store that sells tie dye clothes, Buddha figurines, smells of incense, and most likely also sells this book. While there were some quotes that I expect will stay with me for a long time there were others that made me question whether they belonged in this book.

“Life does not accommodate you, it shatters you … every seed destroys its container or else there would be no fruition.”

Florida Scott-Maxwell

I can see Everyday Gratitude as a lovely gift or coffee table book. I wouldn’t have the discipline to use it as recommended, by reading a quote and its question each morning and then thinking about it throughout the day, but there will be those who have that discipline and I expect they’ll get a lot out of it.

I doubt anyone could overdose on gratitude and am sure the world would be a more positive place to be if more people spent more of their time focusing on what they’re thankful for.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go out and do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Howard Thurman

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Storey Publishing, LLC for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Experience and science say that daily practices and motiving reminders help us to be the people we want to be and to live the lives we want to live. This inspiring collection of 365 sayings and reflections comes from the Network of Grateful Living, founded by David Steindl-Rast. Quotes from A.A. Milne, Anne Frank, Thomas Merton, Maya Angelou, and more are paired with related questions and practices to help you notice the gifts you receive – both large and small – every day.