Tag Archives: review

TWSM Book Review ‘Project 333’

Book Review of Project 333: The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really Is So Much More

by Courtney Carver

Why not try a fall fashion challenge? Whether you are out and about (at least somewhat) or entirely house-bound during Covid, ​Project 333​ can refresh how you look and feel. I read Carver’s book and took the fashion challenge. At first, the idea of limiting myself to 33 items of clothing for 3 months seemed silly and not feasible, but I ended up loving the concept. I wear my favorite things more often, and I also mix and match my clothes in ways that make my life simpler, and am still in fashion.

There were several things that made ​Project 333 ​approachable for me. This is not a “throw out most of your wardrobe and give it all to charity challenge”. She suggests carefully choosing the items to include and then simply putting the others away for 3 months. The fact that I could technically back out at any time sounded good! Also, there are basic items that you don’t count in the 33 wardrobe items — lingerie, socks, jewelry that you wear everyday, and clothing that you only wear at home or for working out in aren’t included.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from ​Project 333:

“If there are one or two outfits in your closet that you really enjoy wearing, create a uniform with your 33 items and wear very similar things each day. Use other examples you might find on the internet for inspiration and experimentation, but give yourself room to be you and decide what you want to wear.”​ (Chapter entitled “Messy”)

“I prefer wearing clothes I can live in, clothes that fit my body as it is and not as it ‘shouldbe’ “. ​(Chapter entitled “Crazy”)

“Seeing the outfit you wore to an event that made you sad will make you sad. Holding onto your ex’s sweatshirt or your old work uniform can make you sad. You don’t get to hold on to people, relationships, or any part of the past just because you are holding on to the stuff.” ​(Chapter entitled “Emotion”)

By trying the Project 333 challenge, I found that less really can be more. I wore my favorite colors more often, threw together outfits more easily, and didn’t have to let go of any of the signature jewelry that I love. If you are ready for a change this fall, I highly recommend that you give Carver’s book a try.

Rating 4 stars out of 5

Copyright 2020

Liz​ is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. ​When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.

TWSM Book Review ‘Beloved’

Beloved by Toni Morrison


I decided to reread my all time favorite novel, Beloved by Toni Morrison. This is one of those few “great books” that truly lives up to its reputation, having won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988. In spite of the fact that I have read Beloved several times, it still captivated me. Beloved is a story of love, strength, pain, and redemption that is set shortly after the Civil War.

Beloved was inspired by the life of Margaret Garner, An African American woman who escaped slavery in Kentucky in 1856 by crossing the Ohio River into Ohio, a free state. Captured, she killed her baby daughter rather than have her taken back into slavery.

Sethe and her older daughter, Denver, are main characters in the novel. The “baby ghost” of Sethe’s slain daughter, Beloved, comes to live with them, creating all kinds of opportunities for revisiting what they have been through, the meaning of family, and their hopes for the future.

One of the most appealing qualities of Beloved is how Morrison shares both the incredible strength and the all too human weaknesses of her characters. The day to day reality of an African American woman who was once a slave is described in amazing detail.

“Quickly, lightly she touched the stove. Then she trailed her fingers through the flour, parting, separating small hills and ridges of it, looking for mites. Finding none, she poured soda and salt in the crease of her folded hand and tossed both into the flour. She reached into a can and scooped half a handful of lard. Deftly she squeezed the flour through it, then with her left hand sprinkling water, she formed the dough.” (Chapter 1) 

“Sethe had the amazing luck of six whole years of marriage to that “somebody” son who had fathered every one of her children. A blessing she was reckless enough to take for granted…” (Chapter 1) 

“And no one, nobody on this earth, would list her daughter’s characteristics on the animal side of the paper.” (Chapter 3) 

Although the brutality of slavery is depicted throughout the novel, Beloved is much more a story of enduring and overcoming suffering than a story of the suffering itself. It will make you laugh, cry, and want to hold those close to you even tighter. I highly recommend this book.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Beloved by Toni Morrison 

Copyright 1987, 2004 by Toni Morrison 

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.

TWSM Movie Review ‘How Do You Know’

TWSM Movie Review

‘How Do You Know’

A dedicated softball player who has played most of her life, Lisa is nowhere near ready to give up on the game……until it gives up on her.

Lisa has played softball for as long as she can remember.  She is now 31 years old and still playing!  Who would have ever thought! I mean, she was on the U.S. Olympic team!  How much better do you have to be?

Time for tryouts again and Lisa finds out that this year she didn’t make the cut. In fact, she was replaced by a much younger version of herself.  How does one deal with that?

Lisa is totally stunned and sidetracked by her recent cut.

Meanwhile, George, who was set up with Lisa by a mutual friend, is equally stunned when he finds out he is being audited by the federal government for fraud!  What! And he works for his dad’s company! George is too strait laced and honest to be considered for fraud by anyone!

But let’s not digress. Before the cut, Lisa is perfectly happy living her life playing softball every day and dating her multi-million-dollar baseball boyfriend, Matty. They seem to have a lot in common, on the surface at least. It’s not until things get real that she realizes that Matty may not be who she thought he was.  Perhaps George was really a nice guy after all?  And perhaps George was a nice guy without having the ‘nice guy’ syndrome.

This movie is another “feel good” movie. It makes you laugh and believe in love again. Perfect for a pandemic. Its currently being played on Netflix and is well worth your time if you’re looking to “get away” for a couple of hours.

The cast of , How Do You Know’ ,is superb to say the least, starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Ruud, Kathryn Hahn, Owen Wilson, and Jack Nicholson.



TWSM Book Review ‘Untamed’

Untamed b​y Glennon Doyle


If you are looking for an uplifting book about being your best self​, Untamed​ by Glennon Doyle fits the bill. Throughout the book, Doyle uses the metaphor of walking away from the cages that society teaches us to live in to become the strong, free, “untamed” women we were meant to be. We do this by looking to our true selves and becoming aware of what and who we want to be as opposed to what and who others expect us to be. We then make choices that are right for us as individuals.

Although Doyle is a best selling author, I was unfamiliar with her work until now. She has experienced many challenges and changes in her life including recovering from alcoholism and an eating disorder, and choosing to leave her husband for a woman who is now her wife — all while being a memoir writer in the public eye. Doyle does an incredible job of writing in a style that is real and universal and connecting with her reader, whether or not we can relate to her specific life experiences. Her humor also shines throughout the book.
Some of my favorite quotes from ​Untamed include:

“Ten minutes a day is not too long to spend finding yourself, Glennon. For God’s sake,
you spend eighty minutes a day finding your keys.”​ (Part Two: Know)

“When a woman finally learns that pleasing the world is impossible, she learns to please
herself.”​ (Part Two: Know)

“Selfless women make for an efficient society, but not for a beautiful, true, or just one.”
(Part Three: Aches)

I think we can all relate to the metaphor of being caged vs. being free and untamed in our own ways. Perhaps it was learning that polite girls don’t talk back while we were growing up and taking that to mean that sharing a divergent opinion is unacceptable, when the same behavior would have been encouraged in a boy. Or perhaps there are cages of perfectionism embedded in our definitions of being “good mothers”. It is easy to overlook that all mothers are human, and therefore none of us are perfect.

Untamed i​s an empowering book that encourages its readers to gently examine their own lives and be brave in making their own choices — all while laughing (and perhaps crying) along the way. I highly recommend it.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Copyright 2020 by Glennon Doyle

Liz​ is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. ​When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.

TWSM Cheesy Shrimp & Grits Recipe Review

Cheesy Shrimp & Grits

On our first date, River and I got to know each other over a big plate of shrimp and grits at the local “date place” restaurant. We quickly bonded upon discovering we both enjoyed the dish as a favorite. Since then he and I have sampled shrimp and grits together at multiple restaurants in multiple cities. And no two dishes of shrimp and grits have been the same. I’ve wanted to discover a simple recipe for the dish that could be served as written or could be adjusted to include different flavors all with the same base so River and I could cook it together at home.

After trying several recipes, Self Proclaimed Foodies’ version of Cheesy Shrimp and Grits is the clear winner. It’s simple, but not simplistic, with full flavor from the cheese, shrimp stock, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. I’ve made this recipe both with white wine and cooking sherry in the water to cook the grits and have discovered I like the richness from cooking sherry slightly more. Although choice either is delicious. I also used locally sourced and ground grits. While I know those might be challenging to find, a recipe like this really calls for the highest quality ingredients you can find and afford.

This recipe for shrimp and grits makes four servings. For date night, we only needed two servings, especially with a kale salad on the side. So River and I cut the recipe in half. This worked well, except we both felt it needed slightly more sauce. I’d encourage you to make the full amount of sauce. Any leftovers could be used for another dish later. I bet it’d be great on a lovely piece of sauteed cod! We also used bacon fat to sear the shrimp, opting to impart the smokiness bacon fat provides. The entire dish paired nicely with a dry prosecco. A crisp riesling would also be delicious.


TWSM Book Review ‘Hello Summer’

Hello Summer by Mary Kay Andrews

Hello Summer is a hot-off-the-press summer read complete with mystery, romance, a beautiful beach, and a strong female protagonist who loves her family, her career, and perhaps a certain old flame. It would make a great beach read, but it is an equally satisfying virtual vacation for those of us who are land-locked or “Covid-locked” this summer.

Andrews main character, Conley Hawkins, is a journalist whose career is upended when she
receives the news that the cool, new job she has accepted will not happen because the
company went under — during the going away party from her old job! She packs up her bags
and her pride and decides to visit family by the beach for the summer while looking for new
employment. Along the way, Conley stumbles upon an old love and a dangerous local news
story worthy of a soap opera.

One of the most entertaining parts of Hello Summer is the treatment of family relationships —
including the emotional ghosts and hopes for the future that come with them. Conley has to deal with her rascal of a grandmother, the long shadow of her missing mother, grief she hasn’t
worked through from her father’s death, and her overbearing, know-it-all sister.

The theme of strong women can be seen throughout the book. Here are a couple of my favorite

“I have to admire her. Symmes Robinette walked off and left her with two teenagers to
raise, for a woman twenty years younger. Typical of that time, he had all the money, so
he had all the power when it came time for the settlement. And yet, she managed to take
care of business despite all that.”

Toddie Robinette was no shrinking Southern belle, Skelly agreed. “She could be tough
as nails when she had to be.” (Chapter 44).

The ups and downs of Conley Hawkins’s relationships, her floundering (or burgeoning?) career,
and the twists and turns in the mystery to be solved will keep you turning the pages of Hello

By the end of the novel, Andrews wraps up all of the plot twists and relationship issues in
satisfying ways for the reader. If I have one criticism of this book, it is that Hello Summer is
decidedly light reading, but sometimes that is exactly what we need. I recommend that you kick
off your shoes, dig your toes into some sand (or maybe just put on some fuzzy socks) and enjoy
Hello Summer.

Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Copyright Mary Kay Andrews 2020

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two
teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or
searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with
friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still
has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who
can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.

Mini Almond Flour Chocolate Cakes

Mini Almond Flour Chocolate Cakes 

As I’m typing this I’m currently day three into a seven day self isolation period awaiting COVID-19 test results. Dylan has gone to spend a couple weeks with his dad. I top off my self isolation period by taking my mother to the hospital to have heart surgery (the reason behind the COVID-19 test). So I’m not exactly living my best life at the moment. In fact I’m trying hard to be grateful for the time alone for the first time since the end of March but occasionally failing.

I’ve rattled around my house alone after work hours knitting, sewing, listening to live stream music performances, binge watching Netflix and FoodNetwork shows, craving food I can’t go get, and wanting to do things that have to be put off for a few weeks. I’ve learned to find little ways to indulge in self-care. One of those ways calls for drowning my frustration with chocolate. And that’s okay. But drowning emotions in chocolate can also lead to food guilt. So I’m also trying to be gentle with myself. No dessert is perfectly healthy. Mini almond flour chocolate cakes from Snappy Gourmet are at least semi-keto friendly as well as gluten free. The recipe also makes only two servings. If you’re not quarantining you could share with a confidant. If you are alone, save the other serving on the counter or in the refrigerator for the next day.

Add a few berries for some freshness and whipped cream (from a can is fine!) to cut the richness of the chocolate on these almond flour cakes. Or splurge on a small scoop of vanilla ice cream like I did. Snappy Gourmet says you can substitute the almond flour for wheat flour if desired. I did not try that option.




TWSM Movie Review ‘Just Go With It’

Just Go With It

Do you ever dream of going to Hawaii for a dream vacation? Do you ever dream of that vacation being full of romance and fun and laughs? If so, you will love the movie “Just Go With It” starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. It’s a romcom that takes place in the beautiful setting of Maui and will make you laugh, feel good, and want a good romance in your life if you don’t already have one.

Adam Sandler plays Dr. Daniel Maccabee (Danny for short), a single renowned plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, who is trying to capture the heart of the young 6th grade teacher, Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) who is half his age. She, however, wants nothing to do with him after finding his fake wedding ring which he frequently used to pick up women. Danny finally gets her to give him a chance when he convinces her to meet his soon to be “ex”. The only problem is that he doesn’t actually have an ex, so he convinces his nurse and close friend, Kathleen (Jennifer Aniston), to pretend to be her. She reluctantly agrees to his “lie” because she is his loyal friend, but a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive in order to look the part of a doctor’s wife never hurt anybody either!

Danny and Kathleen meet the young, attractive Palmer at a swanky restaurant in Beverly Hills. and the constant back and forth between the two about everything from her supposed pill addiction to his small “package” is laugh out loud funny. It’s during this time that Kathleen accidentally lets the cat out of the bag about her kids., Palmer, thinking they are Danny’s kids as well, wants to meet them so they schedule a lunch date, this time including the kids, at a kid-type place with an indoor play area in addition to the food. While eating lunch Kathleen’s son tells Palmer that all he wants to do is to swim with the dolphins, but his dad won’t take him. It’s true. His REAL dad won’t take him, but the soft-hearted Palmer, who believes that Danny is his dad, feels so badly that she shames the excessively wealthy doctor to take his “son” to swim with the dolphins.

Kathleen is definitely not going to let Danny take her kids away on a vacation, so he begs her to join them. Fast forward a few days to LAX and the whole crew is there, ready to go to Hawaii!! At the last-minute Eddie (Nick Swardson), Danny’s cousin and one of his best friends, shows up as Kathleen’s fake boyfriend with a thick German accent and even thicker glasses, which he literally can’t see through.

The group arrives in Hawaii at a beautiful resort which has only two rooms left – The Presidential Suite and the Waldorf-Astoria Suite – both at a premium price. Since there are only two rooms available, Eddie is forced to sleep in Kathleen’s room, where she assigns the bathtub as his sleeping quarters.

Kathleen is already not happy to be living a lie for Danny to win a woman – she is keeping note cards for the two of them in order to keep the lies straight! However, she soon finds herself in the middle of another quandary when she runs into her nemesis from college, Devlin (Nicole Kidman) — someone who she names her kids poop after. She introduces Danny as her successful plastic surgeon husband. It is evident that Devlin, who seemingly has it all – beauty, money, and a husband who invented the iPod (really?) – is threatened by the beautiful life of the girl she always made fun of in college.

The story of this wild and crazy group is only just beginning at this point. The comedic antics continue throughout the movie. It won’t take long for you to be so immersed in the movie that you will be able to forget your problems for awhile and just sit back and laugh When you’re not laughing, just enjoy the beautiful setting where this movie was filmed – The Grand Wailea in Maui. If you’ve been quarantined for awhile just close your eyes and imagine that you are there. Believe me, it won’t be hard to do! Just go with it…


Apple’s Notes App Review

I confess I am a bit extreme when it comes to loading apps onto my digital devices. Currently, I have 215 apps on my iPad and its 387 on my iPhone. I am constantly downloading new applications that do something new or solve a problem. Admittedly , I have never used some of the apps I have on my devices, but that doesnt stop me in my search to streamlining my workflow.

Apple has the reputation of improving their own apps to incorporate innovations from third-party apps. The built-in notes app has been updated recently to include enough features for me to get rid of four or five third party apps I have on my devices. The obvious advantage to using apples software is the way it integrates across all devices.

I always thought of the notes app as a glorified stickeys app. But it has grown up quite a bit in recent years. Now its capable of scanning and marking up documents, importing photos and PDFs, creating to do lists, and more. You can create folders and/or files that are password-protected for security as well.

For instance, last month I opened a new savings account and needed to sign a document to complete the process. My banker emailed me the document, I brought it into notes on my iPad, signed it with my Apple Pencil and emailed it back to her, all in about 10 minutes. A year ago that same process would have taken me almost a half hour and the use of two separate apps on my iPad.

I am a long time user and fan of Evernote. I am not quite ready to move everything over to Notes, but it is looking likely in the near future. I am able to scan receipts, business cards, and documents. I can create a password-protected folder to keep a copy of my license, insurance information, passport, and credit cards for instant access rather than having to hunt through pockets and wallets and file folders. The search capabilities are also first class in Notes so you can effortlessly find anything you have stored anywhere.

One of my favorite features on my iPad is that I can simply tap my pencil on screen, even if it is in sleep mode, and it will immediately open up to a new note, so I can get going that much faster.

If you search on You Tube you will find a variety of tutorials that go into great detail about all of the Notes features.


TWSM Entertainment Review ‘Bad Moms’

Bad Moms

Ever felt like you were a bad mom? Like for some reason you just can’t get anything right when it comes to parenting?

I would venture to say that somewhere around 99% of us have felt this way at one time or another. That’s why you should take the comedic antics of Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn and learn to laugh at yourself and motherhood and all the turmoil we allow to penetrate our lives and the way we view ourselves as moms.

The movie starts with the crazy life of Amy Miller (Mila Kunis) and her constant juggle of work, kids, her man-child husband, and life in general, and never having one minute to herself. She strives so hard for perfection which only drives her farther and farther away from it.

Amy’s life becomes more chaotic when she finds her husband having an online affair. She kicks him out of the house but realizes that she has been going at it alone all along!

Not helping matters is the snooty yet beautiful PTA President Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) who

Seemingly has it all including control of practically everything that happens in the school. No one dares to cross Gwendolyn.

One evening after a particularly bad day at work, home, and everywhere else, Amy shows up late for one of Gwendolyn’s hours long PTA meetings and is immediately appointed chair of the upcoming bake sale due to her tardiness. She finds herself hitting a local bar afterwards just to wind down and forget about the day when she runs into Carla and Kiki. They begin to drink and complain about how hard it is to be a good mom. Suddenly Amy decides let’s just be bad moms! They all agree, high five each other, and end with one last celebratory shot.

The next morning Amy starts being her bad mom self. The day begins with her kids asking if she is going to fix them breakfast. She looks at them and calmly says No. They ask what they are going to eat. She says you’ll figure it out as she leaves the room eating cold nachos that she made when she got home the night before.

As they leave for school, she decides to take her husbands beloved red antique car. The kids say, “Won’t dad be mad?”. The now Bad Mom Amy says, “Yes, so what.” They have the wildest ride to school ever in this restricted vehicle which is what makes it even more fun. She shows up at school, hands her kids two Arby’s bags for their lunch, and tells them to have a nice day. Gwendolyn is there and asks if Amy will be at the PTA meeting that night. Amy just smiles, shakes her head and says No and waves goodbye. Gwendolyn is furious and humiliated in front of her friends.

This movie is so full of hilarious and humorous moments that most any mom could identify with. It’s silly at times but can bring a smile to most anyone’s face.

If nothing else I hope this movie can show moms that it’s impossible to be perfect and anyone who seems to be putting on a show for everyone to see. Being a “Bad Mom” does not mean you’re bad, it means you’re human.

The movie is not kid friendly due to language and sexual content. However, for adults who are parents it couldn’t be funnier.