Sunday, March 17, 2019

Life is Short, Make it Sweet

The Heart of Country Music - More Songs
With all that's going on in this world, it's important to focus on the simple things that make life beautiful.

As the song says, 'life is short, make it sweet'. The lyrics of this tune by Old Dominion remind us to spend time with those we love. Sunsets, fun and sharing time with each other, it doesn't get any simpler than that.

(Lyrics)
"I never gotta wonder where my honey be
I ain't savin' all my sugar for a Saturday Night
Seven days a week I got an appetite
The sunsets like a tangerine
Let's find a road we've never seen
Don't waste another mile or a minute not kissin' me
Life is short, make it sweet"

Make it Sweet is a Cheerful Song 

When you need a musical boost, blast this one on repeat. With life's twists and turns, it's not easy being 'seen'. Lolz. The good news is, when you take control of your thoughts and your environment, being seen is something you can control from within. I know, it all sounds cliché but I speak from experience and I've personally done the work.

For over four years now I've made a conscious effort and practiced that other old cliché, 'control your thoughts control your life'. Sure I'll slip up from time to time and unwittingly let someone rent space in my head, but not very often.

As soon as I feel my mental strength begin to diminish, I work to take back that control. It requires a conscious effort, until it becomes subconscious. The key is practice. It's no different than exercising the body: Takes time, takes repetition.

A quick tool I use to pull my mind away from unproductive tangents is word repetition.

Choose your word. Mine is 'Hope'. When the brain decides it wants to run my life, I take back my control by repeating my word over and over inside my head as many times as it takes until that noggin' of mine has forgotten the tangent it was on.

You'll slip up many times and in the middle of it forget you were using word repetition. No biggie. Just pull yourself back on track and start again. After years of doing this, bad thoughts and energy just begin to avoid you - they'll realize you're like Fort Knox, no getting in.



Music is One Road to Inner Peace

Make it Sweet by Old Dominion is the ideal, bring it back to the basics song. As soon as my husband and I heard it, we both smiled and agreed that the message was calming. The lightness of the tune helped to unweight the heaviness of the day.

Another Relaxation Option - The Zen Channel - Stingray Ambiance

If you have this channel, be sure to use it as a way to control the energy you allow in your home.

We mostly read our news now and our TV sets on the main level have Stingray Ambience on all day. They feature gorgeous scenes from all over the world with light music in the background. In fact we rarely watch regular TV now. We only tune into shows that interest us from time to time. We're not blocking out the world, we keep up-to-date online. We're just actively controlling our home's environment. It makes a big difference. It heals the soul.

Between aromatherapy, the Zen Channel and the song Make it Sweet, we're creating our own peace.

Here's to your happiness :)




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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Review of Spring Training in Baseball

Source: Pixabay
Spring Training is a period of training and exhibition play beginning in late February and lasting up to Opening Day of Major League Baseball.

For about four weeks, experienced players and rookies alike train and play at small parks in Arizona or Florida, getting ready for the beginning of the baseball season.  It is a unique baseball experience for fans, giving them up-close access to favorite players and a chance to see blossoming prospects who could go on to be the next big star. 

For me, the Baseball Contributor here on Review This and a huge baseball fan, Spring Training is a sign that the long, cold winter is nearing an end and warm weather and the joys of baseball season are about to begin.  I believe in the quote:




Spring Training



Spring Training is nearly as old as baseball itself, although it was not the big business it is today with designated parks just for Spring Training games and winter excursion packages to games in Arizona and Florida for snow-weary fans. 

In bygone days, training games were held locally to save money, training indoors in inclement weather. Later, teams began training in the south, but there were no organized training leagues until after 1910.  Today it is as much a marketable enterprise as the regular baseball season with two distinct leagues, one in Florida and one in Arizona.


Cactus League in Arizona


Source: Pixabay

The Cactus League holds spring training in the desert for teams from both leagues (American and National). These teams are generally located around Phoenix and include:


  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Chicago Cubs 
  • Cincinnati Reds 
  • Cleveland Indians 
  • Colorado Rockies 
  • Chicago White Sox 
  • Kansas City Royals 



Grapefruit League in Florida


Source: Pixabay

The Grapefruit League holds spring training in various parts of Florida, both the Gulf coast and the Atlantic coast. This league includes the following teams: 


  • Atlanta Braves 
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Boston Red Sox 
  • Houston Astros 
  • Miami Marlins 
  • Minnesota Twins 
  • New York Mets 
  • New York Yankees 
  • Philadelphia Phillies
  • Pittsburgh Pirates 
  • St. Louis Cardinals 
  • Tampa Bay Rays 
  • Toronto Blue Jays 
  • Washington Nationals 


Following is a famous quote by Roger Hornsby, the well-known second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals (1915-1919), that definitely says how I feel when there is no baseball.




Summary


Will  you be attending any Spring Training games this year, or have you done so in the past? Leave me a comment telling me where you went and what team you got to see. 



Mary Beth Granger
*Blog Note:  Mary Beth Granger, our own MbgPhoto here on Review This, travels with her husband to Jupiter, Florida each February to attend their beloved St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training games.


For the rest of us, join me in welcoming the beginning of the Major League Baseball season and the fact that this represents an end to winter and the return of the 'Boys of Summer'. 




For More Baseball Reviews, Check Out ReviewThisReviews: Baseball




Lets Play Ball! 








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Friday, March 15, 2019

Minestrone Soup Recipe for the Instant Pot

Minestrone Soup Recipe for the Instant Pot
When Bev reviewed the Instant Pot here on Review This Reviews, I knew I had to have one too!  It immediately went on my own Christmas wish list.

Mom and Dad granted my wish and gifted me with an Instant Pot, plus a fabulous Instant Pot Cookbook by Jennifer Smith.  It is listed as a #1 Best Seller on Amazon and there is an excellent reason why.  It truly is packed full of great recipes for the Instant Pot, as well as tips and Instant Pot use instructions.  I was extremely grateful for the use instructions!  The instructions that came with the cooker were not as clear as Jennifer Smith's instructions in her published cookbook.

One great recipe in my new cookbook is the Minestrone Soup recipe.  One of my all time favorite soups is minestrone soup, but before I had my Instant Pot, I had never made it at home.  It was always a specialty that I treated myself to when we dined at our favorite Italian restaurant.  However, I no longer have to dine out to have excellent minestrone soup!  


Minestrone Soup Recipe from the Instant Pot Cookbook
by Jennifer Smith 
 

Minestrone Soup Recipe for the Instant Pot
I made few changes to Jennifer Smith's minestrone soup recipe, but they were simple changes.  I add more carrots and less onion.  Plus, I leave out the garlic completely.  I've never been a fan of garlic and find that I prefer this soup without it.

I am sharing my version of the Minestrone Soup recipe for the Instant Pot, but you can certainly have Jennifer Smith's original version if you wish to purchase the cookbook.  It really is worth buying.  There are several other great recipes in it that I have already tried and love.  Without it, I might have ended up returning my Instant Pot.  The recipes and instructions that came with it were confusing and unappetizing. 



Minestrone Soup Instant Pot Recipe


Ingredients

Minestrone Soup Recipe for the Instant Pot
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 of a White Onion
  • 2 Celery Stalks, diced
  • 2 large Carrots, diced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 28 oz can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Spinach, chopped
  • 1 Cup Elbow Pasta or Bow Tie Pasta (bow tie shown, but either is delicious)
  • 4 Cups Vegetable Broth (I use Simple Truth Organic)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 15 oz can White Beans  (I use Great Northern Beans)

 Directions

  1. Preheat the Instant Pot by selecting Saute.  Add & heat the oil 
  2. Add the onion, celery & carrots.  Saute for 5-6 minutes in the heated oil, stirring constantly
  3. Stir in basil, oregano, salt & pepper
  4. Stir in diced tomatoes, chopped spinach, pasta, broth & bay leaf
  5. Press the Cancel button to stop the Saute function
  6. Close and lock the lid.  Select Pressurecook button and cook on high for 6 minutes  (note:  it takes a few minutes to heat to cooking temperate.  The cooker timer will not start counting down until it reaches the high temperature.)
  7. When the timer beeps, let the soup sit for 2 minutes, then use the quick release valve on the lid to completely release the very hot steam.  Carefully unlock and left the lid.
  8. Add the White Beans and stir
  9. Remove the Bay Leaf that was used for seasoning.  They are not very tasty to eat.

Now, it is ready to serve!



Instant Pot Use Tips
Based on My Personal Experience


The Instant Pot has a few things that are totally different than any other cooker that I have ever used. 

Instant Pot Lid Diagram - Minestrone Soup Recipe
First to note is the steam release valve on the top.  There is a lot of hot steam and pressure that builds up inside the pot and that hot steam must be released before you unlock the lid.  The Instant Pot makes that easy with the release value on the lid, but you need to stand back away from the steam.  I also recommend pulling it out and away from the underside of your top kitchen cabinets.  It will cause a moisture buildup on your cabinets if you allow the steam to release under the cabinet.  The steam release takes at least 30 seconds to fully disperse.  There is a secondary pop-up valve indicator on the lid that lets you know when it is safe to open the lid.

Second to note is the timer and recipe cook time.  The recipes tell you the cook time, but that time does not include the heating time.  The Instant Pot temperature must reach the cooking point before the timer will start counting down.  That takes several additional minutes for my Instant Pot.


Instant Pot Control Panel - Minestrone Soup Recipe
Third to note is the difference in the recipes cooking selection buttons versus how my Instant Pot buttons are labeled.  For instance, this recipe states to "select Manual", but my Instant Pot button is labeled "Pressurecook".  I am guessing that is based on the age or model of your Instant Pot.  You will need to familiarize yourself with your Instant Pot buttons before you start cooking with these recipes.

Selecting and Setting the Timer is a little confusing at first.  It is like a digital alarm clock or automobile clock.  You turn the knob to make a selection on the display and then press the knob to change the timer numbers.  Perhaps that is just me, but I thought mine was broken the first time I used it.
 

Check Out More Recipe Reviews at
ReviewThisRecipes.com



More Instant Pot Soup Recipes



A delicious recipe for potato soup cooked in an InstantPot will delight your taste buds and fill your tummy.

Potato Soup Cooked In InstantPot ReviewedInstant Pot Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
This instant pot easy chicken noodle soup will surely warm you up on those cold winter days. We are just loving our new Instant Pot.




Minestrone Soup Recipe for the Instant Pot Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse







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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review of Sony A6300 Mirrorless Camera






For my birthday my husband bought me a new Sony Mirrorless camera.  I was looking for something lightweight to use when I traveled. But I wanted the same capabilities of my Sony SLR. I had been hearing about the mirrorless cameras from fellow photographers and at a meeting last fall we had a speaker at our photo club that introduced us to mirrorless cameras and I was sold.  A mirrorless camera combines the best of a DSLR(Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera and a lightweight compact body.  It has the features of the DSLR without the mirrors which makes it a lightweight camera without sacrificing the quality.



Features of A6300

There are many features that I enjoy on the Sony A6300.  Here are just a few of the ones that are important to me.
  • 100-25,600 ISO range allowing you to take great photos even in low light settings.
  • 4D focus systems which quickly locks in on your subject, helping to take crisp clear photos.
  • Continuous shooting at up to 11fps(frames per second)
  • WiFi, NFC, QR codes for easy file transfer
  • Tiltable 3inch LCD screen that tilts up or down for capturing high and low framing
  • An eyepiece cup that helps me to see clearly what I am photographing.
  • Settings that allow you to shoot in Auto, Scene, Full Manual and everything in between.
  • Movies in 4K movie recording

                                                               


Learning to Use A6300

I am finding the A6300 very easy to use.  Most of the features are similar to my DSLR so the learning curve was very easy.  My husband bought me two lenses to go with my new camera a wide angle 16-55 and a telephoto in the 55-210 range.

The photo below was taken during a cloudy day in a room with no lights turned on.  I love the way the camera handles low light situations.  For this photo I just set the camera to aperture priority F7.0 and shot away.  The colors came out perfect with no adjustment needed.

On a recent trip to Florida, I was able to photograph birds at the pier with my new camera.  In order to get some nice closeup shots I put on my 55-210 zoom lens.  In this closeup of a brown colored pigeon I again used aperture priority and a F6.3 setting.  I love the sharp photo, great colors and blurred background.

For photographs using my photography ball, I switched to a wider angle lens 16-55 mm. I again used aperture priority and was able to capture Jupiter lighthouse in my ball.





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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Birds Butterflies and Bees in the Garden, What you Need to Know

How to successfully attract birds, bees and butterflies to your garden and enjoy them all season long!

Everyone that I know is so tired of winter.  Once the clocks have moved ahead for Daylight Savings Time, all of us are just counting down the days until we see those first signs of spring.
I have not yet had the delight of my first Robin or Blue Birds.  I know though that they will be coming very shortly.  And I am ready to welcome them all with some special treats that I know they will love.
birds, butterflies and bees in the garden, attracting wildlife, garden birds
Monarch Butterfly and bee on Asters
                                          

Three Basics That Are Essential

If you want the birds, bees and butterflies to come to your yard, you need to provide some of the things they will want.  
Like any other living creature, these little marvels of nature are looking for shelter, food and water.  Those are the essentials for any living being that you would care for.  Garden visitors are no different in that regard.  The only other thing that they may be looking for, would be a safe place to nest.  Trees and bushes are great for that!


Flowers are food!

Bees and butterflies and yes even the birds are looking for flowers to feed their appetites.  Pollen laden plants are a bee's best friend.  Butterflies and bees like nectar laden flowers too.  Birds are more attracted to seed heads that will come later in the year.  But they will use petals, and leaves to line their nests.  


Attracting different kinds of birds.

If you set out bird houses, you will certainly get some feathered friends calling your yard their home too.  Feeders for finches and hummingbirds will almost guarantee their arrival at your doorstep.  Plant the right kinds of flowers and you will have an abundance of these lovely little creatures to watch and enjoy.

Butterflies, birds  and bees will enjoy a bird bath.  The birds will splash around cooling themselves off in the heat of the summer, while the butterflies and bees will also stop for a drink and a little rest.  Butterflies and bees can also make use of the sugar water that is in your hummingbird feeders, so don't be surprised to see them there too. 

Having a place that is rich in flowers and shrubs with a few trees for their safety will make all of these creatures very happy to call your home, their home too!

Picking the flowers and shrubs to enhance your garden!

If you really want the butterflies, bees and birds in your garden, here is a list of some of the best ones to plant.

  1. Butterfly bush, as the name indicates is a magnet for many different types of butterflies, but they are also a magnet for hummingbirds too!
  2. Sunflowers, their flat heads are wonderful landing pads for all garden critters.
  3. Coneflowers will attract bluebirds, bees, and butterflies as well.
  4. ServiceBerry Bushes will attract cardinals, robins, cedar waxwings and more.
  5. Phlox is another great plant to attract birds and butterflies.

If you enjoy having these critters in the garden with you, make their lives easier by planting lots of the flowers that they love.  The list above is just a small sample of what plants are great to encourage wildlife in the yard.  It is by no means a complete list.  For that I refer to my book produced by Birds and Blooms Magazine.  


Gardening for Birds, Butterflies and Bees!



You can get your own right here! It is a great resource book and one that you can come back to and reference for future garden projects or additions.

You might also like to take up photography when you see how beautiful it is to have these creatures in your garden.  Mary Beth (another writer on Review This) shows us what it's like to take pictures and how to do it too!  You can check out her article right here: Bluebird Facts and Photography

Having a natural flower filled garden will surely bring you and all the visitors to your garden a lot of joy and happiness.  The colors and scents, along with all the activity will inspire you to enjoy the beauties of nature.

butterflies in the garden, attracting butterflies into the garden, garden flowers
Swallowtail Butterfly
attracting bees into the garden, garden bees, garden flowers
Bee with sunflower






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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Cat Dust Plugs Reviewed

Prevent Dust From Getting Into Your Earphone

earphone plugs
Earphone plugs can get dusty (image courtesy of pixabay.com)
Did you know that there are some very clever little dust plugs for our devices? Whether it is our cell phone, tablet or laptop; we all have a place to plug-in a jack for earphones. 

Over the passage of time, quite a bit of dust and small debris can enter into the inside of our devices. That isn't such a good thing for the hidden working parts, I wouldn't think.

So, there are some really clever little charm like figures that we can use to plug-up that little hole when a set of earphones or earbuds aren't being used. Let's face it, most of the time that earphone jack isn't used 24/7. 

We happen to adore cats in our house, as I'm sure that many of you do too. Don't worry, if you aren't a cat person these little dust plugs can be found for the dog lovers, too. In fact, there are several types of animals made into a plug for that tiny little jack on our devices. If animals aren't to your liking there are other styles, too. Some look like little gems in a variety of colors and I even saw some that look like a little coffee cup. 

Some of the dust plugs have some real bling to their appearance while others are just a cute little charm that looks adorable while preventing dust and debris from getting into the inside of our phones or tablets.

I found a set of cat dust plugs that I think are really adorable! Depending on my mood, I can switch them around on my phone or my tablet. A set like this can also be used for party favors at a Tween's birthday party. They are so inexpensive that you can purchase more than one set to divide up amoung the guests.

What do you think? Would you choose a dust plug with cat figures or a different style?



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Monday, March 11, 2019

Reviewing Jeans Yarn by Lion Brand

Stonewash Jeans yarn by Lion Brand.
Lion Brand Yarn Company sells some of my favorite yarns. While I'm waiting for my order of Comfy Cotton Blend yarn to arrive, I'm using some Jeans yarn that I had on hand. I had forgotten how much I love this yarn for hats. The super soft yarn, in blue jean colors, was perfect in a hat for my grandson. I think it'll also be awesome for making my Jenny Hats.

I've started crocheting chemo hats. I call them my Jenny Hats. If you'd like to know more about why I started making chemo hats the link to that article is listed below.

I've been using Lion Brand Comfy Cotton blend yarn for my Jenny Hats. Because cotton is so comfortable and because the Comfy Cotton yarn is so soft. But this weekend I did not have enough Comfy Cotton blend on hand. So I started a hat with the Jeans yarn. My goal is to make the most comfortable hats that I am able to make. 

I LOVE the Jeans yarn. It is 100% acrylic yarn - not cotton as I had guessed. It is machine washable and dryable. And the colors are awesome. "Stonewash" is the color pictured. Doesn't it look like a favorite pair of broken in jeans? 

The yarn is labeled as a size 4. In my opinion, it is on the small side of size 4. It is working up in this Jenny Hat just like the size 3 Comfy Cotton blend worked up. The Jeans yarn does not split or fray easily making it very easy to work with.

At the largest yarn store in my area, I can easily find Jeans yarn in 3 shades of blue, black and 2 shades of brown.  As I was preparing to write this, I see that Jeans yarn is being made in other colors; shades of pink, turquoise, red, and burgundy. These are labeled "Jeans Colors"

Jeans Colors - pink


Related Links:

Read about Jenny and why I began making chemo hats. I also shared photos of the Jenny Hats made with Comfy Cotton Blend yarn here

Another Lion Brand yarn that I rave about is the Wool Ease Thick and Quick. An excellent chunky yarn for neck warmers and other projects that call for a thick, soft yarn. 







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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Two Durable Plants that Have Survived for Over Twenty Years

After reading this article on Houzz about a plant that's hard to kill, I realized, heck that's the plant I have! It all makes sense now.

The photos on this page feature the two plants we've had in our family room for over twenty years.

I haven't been the best plant caretaker. Nobody in the house has.

These plants have even withstood a move from our previous home to this one. Yep, they're durable and as the article on Houzz says, hard to kill.

The Houzz article only references the Pothos plant. That's the leafy green plant positioned to the left in the photos. The plant on the TV stand is our spider plant. We've owned it for so long that I had to confirm it was indeed a spider plant.

Plants for the Forgetful and Neglectful

The Spider Plant and the Pothos Plant have both survived my flawed gardening thumb. But they're still my babies. Over the years I've learned to adopt a kinder loving nature towards them. I no longer ignore or forget them. They've taught me to be a better gardener.

As we get older I believe we become drawn to things that grow. Maybe it's when the kids are all grown-up that we itch to help another living thing grow again. I have to say that's kinda what happened to me.
These plants were patient, they knew I would eventually come around.
What I Did Right

These are the few basic things I did do correctly without knowledge or effort:
The flowers in the Pothos Plant aren't Real
The Spider Plant is Beside the TV

  1. I tried several locations in the home until I found the spot that gave them the right amount of light. They're by a window that gets the morning sun.
  2.  My mom once told me to never over water your plants. So I only water them about once a week. They almost dry out completely before their next watering. I have no idea if that's what these plants need, that's just how I roll.
  3.  Do plants like being close to each other? I dunno. But if they could talk I think they'd say they're family. So yah, for that crazy reason, they're positioned fairly close to each other.
  4.  Once in a while I clean up dead dry leaves.
  5.  I ask them how they're doing from time to time. Hubby cracks up.
What I Did Wrong

These are the few things I've done wrong.
  1.  I used to forget to water them for weeks. My poor baby plants. I no longer do that!
  2.  I never fertilize them. Yah I know, I should.
  3.  I've never transplanted them. 
  4.  I should probably freshen up their soil, so yah, I've never done that.
  5.  I used to keep them in a place where they didn't get enough light. However, that was just a guess on my part. They seem happy by the morning sun window.
A Few Things I Love About These Plants
  1.  The Pathos and the Spider plant clean the air
  2.  The Spider Plant is said to be an EMF (electric magnetic field) cleaner. I have it positioned near the tv for that reason as well.
So don't hesitate to become the mother or father of either the Spider or Pothos plants. In my book, they're durable and easy.

If you're looking for a little more guidance on plants and gardening, a fellow reviewer Olivia suggests the Old Farmer's Almanac, there's even a farmer's almanac calendar. Pretty cool.




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Saturday, March 9, 2019

Did You Know That March is National Nutrition Month?

March is national nutrition month
Image courtesy of Pixabay
As National Nutrition Month, March seems a good time to review ways to increase your nutrition in your daily life.   Most people do not consume the recommended nutrients every day to keep their bodies running in peak condition, so let's look at ways we can fix this.

Of course you could use March as an excuse to give your body a reboot aka a spring clean for your body instead of your house!  This is a great way to start creating your healthy habits.

You may think that's a bit too much so let's look at other things you can do -

  • Reduce your caffeine intake
  • Reduce your salt intake
  • Reduce your sugar intake
  • Reduce your processed foods
  • Increase your fruit and veg intake


We've all heard these comments before haven't we?   The problem is how and where to start so lets's go through them all one by one.

How to Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

Now if you only drink one cup of coffee or tea a day then you are probably okay, but I know many people drink a LOT more than that.  The problem with drinking too much caffeine whether it's from coffee, tea, cola drinks or energy drinks is that caffeine can cause the depletion of certain nutrients such as vitamin B6.   Not only that but it also interferes with your body's ability to absorb essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

It can be had to cut back as a lot of the time we grab these drinks out of habit, one way that I've gone down from 10 mugs a day to 1-2 a week is by using Fizz Sticks.  Let me tell you more ...

I like to drink what I call a green ogre drink on my way to work and I find that it gives me the same effect as my morning latte that I used to grab on my way to work at my previous job.   If you start off by just replacing one coffee with this I think you'll find you won't need your next one as quickly because you don't get the espresso crash as the effects of the caffeine from coffee wears off.

If you enjoy having a cuppa when you get up or after dinner then try a few caffeine free teas instead such as these -

Why Drink Peppermint Tea?Why Drink Peppermint Tea?
I love the flavour of peppermint so I'm probably biased as to why you should drink peppermint tea! However it does have a lot of benefits from aiding digestion to helping with concentration.


Review of Lifestyle Awareness TeasReview of Lifestyle Awareness Teas
Lifestyle Awareness is a brand of organic tea and this review focuses on just two of the teas in the range - Immunity Now and Serene Slumber. These teas have medicinal benefits to them as well and we can all use help with boosting our immune systems!



Or I do enjoy a cup of Twinings Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla before going to bed on a cold night.

If you're more of a soda drinker or you feel like you need an energy drink to keep you going then Fizz Sticks are definitely something that you can substitute for them.   You will find that the effects last a lot longer so that you don't need to drink as many. They come in four different flavors and contain a lot less sugar as well as being a lot healthier in other ways too.

How to Reduce Your Salt Intake


Too much salt can adversely affect our sodium/potassium balance and let's face it everywhere you turn you're being told to cut down salt aren't you?

Salt is one of those foods that are often in hidden in the foods you eat, one product that is usually high in salt is commercial stock (especially the convenient stock cubes).   A simple way to deal with this is to make your own vegetable stock, it's very easy as you can see here - how to make veggie stock - and you can make big batches to freeze down.   Using this you can monitor exactly how much salt you add to your food.

Reducing the amount of processed foods will help a lot (more on that later) and reading labels to build your awareness will be quite a shock to you.

How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake


Sugar is empty as far as nutritional value goes and it's also addictive.   I would try and use other products to sweeten things for example when my daughter was younger I would half the amount of sugar a recipe called for to make sweet muffins and throw in a mashed banana to use for sweetness instead.

If you or your children like using flavored drinks instead of water then why not look at putting cubed watermelon in your water pitcher as this fruit contains electrolytes.  Berries or citrus are also great ways of  adding flavor.

Looking on sites such as Pinterest can help with ideas for sugar free or low sugar recipes and I find myself using dates, bananas, apples and even maple syrup in my cooking as a way to keep the sweetness while raising the nutritional value of a dish.

How to Reduce Processed Foods


Processed foods can be devoid of many nutrients as well as containing high amounts of sugar and/or salt - this is especially so with low fat processed foods.

Now I'm not saying you have to totally embrace the whole food movement (although it's really great!), but being more aware of what you're eating is a good place to start.   The best way to reduce processed foods is to start cooking a few things from scratch.

Now with our busy lifestyles it can be hard to imagine cooking everything from scratch so I would recommend starting with one meal a week and cooking double quantities, one lot for that meal and one lot for the freezer which means the next week you have your 'new' meal plus the frozen meal from the previous week.

Snack foods can be the biggest fall down for many households when it comes to processed foods so I like to make sure I have fresh fruit available and have vegetables such as carrot sticks prepared and ready to eat.   I also find making protein balls or bliss balls a great idea.

How to Increase Your Fruit & Veg Intake


We're all told to increase our fruit and vegetables, but how?  If you're starting to cook more from scratch and having it as snacks as well you will find that you start to increase your intake.

I try to throw extra vegetable into my meals when I'm cooking them for example when I cook a lamb or beef satay I will always add green beans.   I also add diced zucchini (courgette) to a number of dishes as it takes on flavors really well.

Another easy way to add vegetables into your diet is by using it to substitute some of your other foods for example use a spiralizer to make vegetable 'pasta' or using cauliflower or broccoli in place of rice.

Another thing that I do is I have a scoop of Greens Balance every day - this contains a rainbow of fruit and veg - and this can be taken on it's own, popped into a protein shake (or the green ogre shake above) or even added into something when you're cooking such as bolognaise.

I did see someone added the greens balance to banana muffins for her fussy child and he ate them because he was told they were made from monsters!

If you don't like eating breakfast or you have a child that doesn't like eating in the morning or at lunchtime then why not try a shake or a smoothie bowl - it's a great way to add in berries and other fruits as well as spinach, kale or a good old scoop of greens balance.

Reviewing Smoothie Bowl RecipesReviewing Smoothie Bowl Recipes
Essentially a smoothie bowl is a thick smoothie served in a bowl with different toppings and it is delicious. You can have a myriad of different flavors and there's really no rules as to what you can pop on top


Tropical Fruit Smoothie Recipe ReviewedTropical Fruit Smoothie Recipe Reviewed
The tropical fruit smoothies taste really good and they are very easy to make. Simply gather your favorite tropical fruits and the blender and you have a quick and healthy snack for breakfast, lunch or after dinner!


Healthy and Delicious SmoothiesHealthy and Delicious Smoothies
Feel more energized and healthier by adding a smoothie to your day, from tropical fruit to green smoothies and so many other recipes in between.



baby step ways to improve your nutrition for national nutrition month and beyond


So, Over to You


What are you going to do to improve your nutritional intake this month?




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Friday, March 8, 2019

The Famous Wigleys Corned Beef Reviewed


When I see St. Patrick's Day on the calendar I immediately think of corned beef and the traditional Irish boiled dinner. Actually an authentic boiled dinner is the perfect comfort food year round in our household and if you are from an Irish depression era family - well, Grandma did tend to excel at boiling :) !
Wigleys Famous Eastern Market Corned Beef. The best corned beef in Detroit reviewed.

Wigleys Famous Eastern Market Corned Beef provides the perfect mix of seasonings and high quality corned beef that allows the flavor of the corned beef to shine while the seasonings enhance the corned beef versus overpowering the beef.

Who Is Wigley?

Wigleys dates back to the 1880’s in England and the Wigley family meat recipe.  Job Wigley arrived in Detroit in 1924 with the Wigley family meat recipe along with the vision of the American dream. The family tradition continues to this day with Job’s grandson Tom continuing the Wigley business.

What Is Eastern Market And Why Is It In The Name Of Wigleys Corned Beef?

Established in 1891 Eastern Market was originally a market for wood and hay. Additional sheds were added in 1921, 1926 and moved to its’ current location. The end of W.W. II brought the wholesale food industry to the market. Hence why Wigleys Corned Beef has Eastern Market in its’ name.
Photos courtesy of CC 4.0:  Sarahebrowning,
Bill Whittaker, Etx313
Eastern Market is renowned in Detroit and the metro Detroit area. Before farm to table became trendy, vendors at  Eastern Market have provided the freshest meats, seafoods, vegetables, spices, candies,  flowers in an open air market.  Enjoy the amazing murals, antiques, art and crafts throughout the market as a destination stop for locals and tourists.
Whether it be for corned beef or flowers, Eastern Market is a treasured Detroit tradition and institution which was recorded to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1978. Wigleys and its’ corned beef is an integral part of the tradition.

The Fool Proof Corned Beef - How To Cook Wigleys?

So easy and so fool proof! Wigley’s corned beef is packaged pre seasoned; the seasoning surrounds the corned beef like a marinade.  Simply remove the corned beef from the package and squeeze the seasoning from the package and into the pot. Cover the corned beef with cold water and simmer. Depending upon the size of the brisket the corned beef will be ready in 3-4 hours.
Perfect every time!

Where To Buy Wigleys

If a visit to Eastern Market is not possible Wigleys is available throughout the metro area at grocery stores and specialty markets.  




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