Friday, July 8, 2016

Quench

A new trend of handcrafting your own beverages is really taking the world by storm.  Quench by Ashley English may become your new bible.  It has recipes for both "soft" and "hard" drinks and is really an amazing way to expand your beverage horizons.

From homemade root beer to hard cider, fresh-squeezed ginger lemonade to handcrafted Irish cream, do-it-yourself beverages are gaining interest and intrigue across the culinary spectrum. Professional mixologists and amateur home cooks alike are looking for beverages to inspire and satisfy, sourced from a variety of natural and seasonal ingredients. Quench offers the solution, covering the entire beverage range with hot, cold, fermented, infused, and cured offerings. There’s something here for every palate, occasion, and need. Quench promises to help you pour a glass of whatever it is you're thirsting for.

We have made a few of the recipes including the throat-soother tea and a current daily favorite is the ginger lemonade which the whole family is obsessed with.  Ginger is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and just plain yummy.  Lemons are something I eat all of the time.  I am a lemon enthusiast who tries to sneak those yellow bundles of joy into everything.  Lemons are full of vitamin C and when you combine lemons and ginger, you get perfection!   For a treat, the decadent hot chocolate (made with organic cocoa and good-quality chocolate) is the perfect thing after a day of sledding and skiing.

Quench is a great way to literally get your creative "juice" flowing and ditch the disgusting sodas to create drinks of your own.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

My Nails Speak Louder Than Words


Jin Soon is an amazing manicurist who counted Sarah Jessica Parker as one of her first clients in NYC.  She has created a line of polishes that wear as well as they look.

The range of shades includes those named by models she regularly works with, and is 5-free (of harsh chemicals) and formulated with high-tech polymers and resins that ensure long wear and a shiny finish. All JINsoon formulas are 5-free and formulated without harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin and camphor.

I got the opportunity to try some of the colors, and was pleasantly surprised.  The colors were rich, layered well and most importantly, they lasted through a day of being a busy mom.  I got the colors Aero   and Auspicious.  Aero is a gorgeous spring  baby blue.  This lasted through doing dishes, a school project and opening countless things for little anxious five year olds.  (Excuse my awful manicure pic).  I also love the rectangular bottle which helps it stay in my hands and not slip like conventional round bottles.

Auspicious is one of those shades that looks different depending on what you wear it with.
A dirty gray lavender named by Jamie Bochert who is known for her dark, moody eyes and androgynous look. “This color was very tricky to create because it could make your skin look ashen so I add a hint of lavender and high gloss to give a subtle lift,” says Jin.

I love this color for nights out.  It wears so well and this one attracted more than one compliment.

I am now a Jin Soon devotee and I plan on picking up some bright pops of color from her amazing line.




Friday, June 3, 2016

The Super Elixir


Elle McPherson is called "the body" for very good reason.  I swear that beauty queen never ages.  So needless to say, I was intrigued when I read about her new line of products to nourish both body and soul; WelleCo.
The WelleCo story began when Elle Macpherson learned about body acidity and alkalinity from her nutritional doctor. Elle was feeling run down, despite her healthy lifestyle and an array of synthetic supplements. She said balancing her pH changed her life, "I realised the profound effect proper nutrition can have."

Busy moms and dads do not often take the time to give themselves the proper nourishment.  We are so worried about what our kids eat, that we neglect ourselves.  Elle's vision has led to an amazing line of products that she not only helped create, but that she uses.  These products have single-handedly given me back energy and a health that I was greatly lacking.

The Super Elixir  is exactly that!  It energizes your body and makes you feel incredible.  I was worried that something this healthy could not possibly taste good.  It is quite literally one of the best things I have ever tasted.  It has a tropical, citrus flavor that I cannot get enough of.
  • Designed to help your body maintain good nutrition and maintain its pH balance.
  • A careful combination of 45 natural ingredients, in scientifically calculated ratios. These include super greens, Chinese herbs, digestive enzymes and members of the maitake mushroom family.
  • To ensure the nutrients in our premium quality ingredients remain effective, THE SUPER ELIXIR™ has been protected from heat.
  • Formulated to be absorbed by your body at a cellular level, optimising the function of all 11 of your body’s systems; the digestive, endocrine (hormonal), integumentary (hair, skin & nails), circulatory and nervous systems to name a few.
  • A vegan-friendly product. Free from dairy, gluten and preservatives.
This was  WelleCo flagship product and has indeed become a cult bestseller.  I drink it in smoothies and even plain water every day.  It is that good.  I find my skin looks better, I am more energized and my hair is thicker (I suffer from an endocrine issue that causes hair to thin).  I can't start my morning without it.  I no longer need my morning caffeine jolt. I even caught my daughter sipping from my Super Elixir Thermos.  She agreed, "this is so good mom!"

I come home and whip up smoothies, and even cupcakes with the Nourishing Chocolate Protein.  (comes in vanilla too).
In fact, our unique formula comes from plants you’d recognize, like peas, dandelions, pomegranates, sprouted brown rice and pea protein. It’s all organic, and vegan friendly.And with a delicious Raw Peruvian Cacao chocolate flavour, it’s a treat for your taste buds as well.Your body will reap the rewards you’d expect from a protein supplement, and so much more. That’s because unlike other all-natural protein options, ours contains 9 essential amino acids.

  • USDA Organic pea & brown rice protein
  • Plant based
  • Non-GMO
                                    
    Other benefits you’ll notice include:
    • Maintains your blood sugar levels as a part of a healthy balanced diet.
    • Contains fibre to keep you feeling full for longer.
    • Acai to help with free radical elimination.
    • B vitamins to fight stress.
    • Its digestive enzymes help to boost your metabolism. 
    I love the way this jazzes up a smoothie and we recently made chocolate-beet-strawberry cupcakes with it too!


    WelleCo has not forgotten any part of keeping yourself healthy.  There is even a Fruit & Veggie Wash!  It removes contaminants that water alone cannot.
     Independent laboratories certified by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) have extensively tested Fruit & Veggie Wash and concluded that it successfully removes up to 100 times more contaminants than water alone.

    I have been using this since the day I got it and the fruit and veg seem to even taste better.

    With WelleCo, clean living has never been easier!

    Kiss to build a dream on


    Kari Gran is one of my favorite lines.  I might or might not (definitely do) have a penchant for the amazing Lip Whips.

    In order to help you care for your luscious lips we offer The Kari Gran line of Lip Whips — perfect everyday lip balms that complement the Kari Gran skin care system. Buttery soft, shiny, rich and thick. Handmade in Seattle. Only tested on ourselves, never on animals. Our Lip Whips contain a soothing combination of organic, wildharvested and non-GMO ingredients for a sensual, glossy, moisturizing boost — not a drop of petroleum in sight.

    They started out with only clear balms, and now there are plenty of amazing colors and tones to choose from.  Marsala Lip Whip was inspired by the 2015 Pantone color of the year.  It is the perfect hybrid of lip whip and lipstick.  It is a wine-red shade that is definitely buildable.  I love this for night looks and for daytime fall and winter looks.  It smells amazing due to the peppermint.  I am a peppermint freak, so anything that smells like it is an instant winner.  Best part is, this really moisturizes.

    Spring and summer will see me rocking the Shimmer Lip Whip.  It is a shimmery peachy champagne that looks fantastic on its own and brightens up any color.  I find myself reaching for this one the most.  I like subtle lips, and this does it. My lips tend to be sensitive, and these not only moisturize, but actually heal them.

    Go on, treat yourself and grab a color or two (or ten)!

    Tuesday, May 24, 2016

    My Darling Lemon Thyme

    I love a cookbook that embraces simple, wholesome, easy-to-prepare, food.  My first priority is being a mom, so spending hours upon hours in the kitchen is never realistic.  My Darling Lemon Thyme by Emma Galloway is a nod to beautiful, gluten-free, vegetarian food that the whole family can enjoy.
    Emma Galloway learned to love fresh, healthy food growing up in a family of creative cooks. She has carried over that love into her roles as chef, mother, and highly successful food writer.These recipes reflect Emma’s philosophy that natural, whole food should also be flavorful, fun, and easy to prepare. This is food as it’s supposed to be eaten: fresh from the earth to the kitchen, seasonal, nourishing, and delicious.My Darling Lemon Thyme is perfect for anyone with food intolerances and is also sure to please everyone who loves great food that’s good for you too.

    It boasts recipes for the kind of food you want to be eating.  Carrot, apple, ginger muffins are a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth with delicious, healthy ingredients.   Banh Xeo are amazing crispy pancakes that you fill with vegetables and tofu and pair with an incredible soy/lemon dipping sauce. My Darling Lemon Thyme is the kind of food your whole family will enjoy without complaint.  I love that it inspires me to use ingredients I may have not otherwise tried.  Whether you love wholesome food, or are experiencing food intolerances and need some recipe inspiration, make sure and grab a copy of this wonderful book.




    Monday, May 23, 2016

    Freshen Up!




    One Love Organics has literally been saving my face for years now.  I am in love with every formulation I try and have become somewhat obsessed with two of those products.

    Skincare guru Elizabeth Dehn joined forced with One Love Organics  to create a line that is at the top of every skin care list.  The products are all-natural, organic and simply fabulous.  I am addicted to the Vitamin D Moisture Mist.
    Part lightweight moisturizer, part toner, this botanical mist infuses skin with emollient oils and Vitamin E via a delayed time-release delivery system for long-lasting hydration and unparalleled efficacy. Shiitake mushroom, a natural source of Vitamin D, helps tone and balance while antioxidant-rich alpine rose helps to protect against environmental stressors and elemental dryness. Ideally used after cleansing, the Moisture Mist preps and hydrates the skin so that your favorite facial oil, serum or moisturizer can perform at its best.

    I recently charred my skin in Turks and Caicos despite copious amounts of sunscreen.  My face was on fire.  I was not sure how I was going to make it better.  I was recently lucky enough to have acquired this mist and to have packed it.  I sprayed it on and it was instant relief. I did not even peel!  This is the perfect mist for all seasons, but for me it is best in summer and winter when my face goes rogue.


    My other obsession is the Brand New Day Microderma Scrub and Masque is+ heaven!
    This superfine, water-activated exfoliator combines organic sweet pea flour, pineapple enzymes and mineral rich kaolin clay to remove impurities, clarify, and smooth skin for a luminous, baby-soft complexion. 
    It smells like a tropical island and it makes my skin as soft as a baby.  I use this twice a week and it is something I look forward to.  It is not too gritty, and it is gentle enough to not hurt.  I also use it as a masque when I have a minute to do anything!

    One Love Organics  is a company that I not only adore, but I love that I can feel safe using their products.  I am eager to discover more and more from this line.

    Omnifix Cubes

    Assessment Services  has a plethora of amazing products to help both children and teachers in the classroom and at home.  One of our favorite reviews yet are the Omnifix Cubes.
    With a connector on all six faces, Omnifix Cubes are joined in any direction to create rods and blocks or geometric and abstract forms. Students in the middle elementary grades and up can explore spacial relationships, number bases, fractions, cubed numbers, tessellations, and more. Omnifix Cubes can be used with any math curriculum that specifies linking cubes. They come in four brilliant colors and measure 2cm. Students snap flat shapes together to form a permanent cube which can then be joined to other cubes. Grades 3-12

    Omnifix Cubes are amazing fun for all ages.  They are more than linking cubes, they also challenge the mind.  They make the most satisfying click as you create your cubes and as you stack and snap them together.  The possibilities are really endless.  They are a must for STEM toy learning and playing.  STEM toys not only encourage creativity but

    Monday, May 16, 2016

    Evan Healy: A Breath of Fresh Air for Skin


    Natural skin care has come leaps and bounds from where it once was.  That being said, Evan Healy has remained a dedicated pioneer. Evan Healy is a holistic aesthetician with over 30 years experience.  She puts care, love and the purest ingredients into all she does. 

    She and her team are as well acquainted with her distillers as can be.  They experience the harvesting and distillation of the HydroSouls that are so well loved.  Distillation takes place over low temperatures and instead of a rushed process, it is slow and nurtures the precious ingredients.  The HydroSouls are something of a magic potion in a bottle.  I have one at home, in my desk at work and in my handbag.  Yes, I love them that much! The Rose Geranium HydroSoul has the most delicious rose fragrance and it nourishes a plethora of skin types.  HydroSouls can be used on their own to refresh and prep skin, or combined with masks and cleansers for the ultimate experience.  Side note: they also work wonders for sore, sun-burnt skin.  

    For summer in a bottle, I use the Blood Orange HydroSoul to restore pH balance, as well as restoring my happy mood.  Snap a bottle of this up for long travel rejuvenation and refreshing.  I also use this as morning pick-me-up.  

    I have also become more than a little obsessed with the French Rose Clay which can be mixed with a HydroSoul, water or even yogurt or honey to make an amazing mask or spot-treatment.  It draws out impurities, zaps blackheads and pimples and makes me feel like I am at a spa.  This wonder can be be used on all skin types, which makes it a must-have for your arsenal.  It also fades scarring and diminishes fine-lines.  It packs a powerful punch, yet somehow remains gentle.  I use this one to two times a week.  


    Evan Healy is an amazing line that is certified organic and handcrafted.  Evan Healy supports the American Family Farm Revival.  What's not to love about this brand?  



    Friday, April 8, 2016

    At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen

    Eating healthy is something that is important to me, and something I sometimes have a hard time doing.  When we joined a CSA, I would often find myself with ingredients I was unsure what to do with.  While we do eat meat, I have strong vegetarian and vegan leanings.  I need to make sure that what I make is appetizing and enticing enough to tempt my staunch meat-eating family.  I love vegetables and with the CSA, we have an abundance year round.  At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin really does "celebrate the art of eating well." It is a winner of the prestigious "James Beard Foundation Book Award."

    With her love of whole food and knowledge as a chef, Amy Chaplin has written a book that will inspire you to eat well at every meal, every day, year round.If you are an omnivore, you will delight in this book for its playful use of produce and know-how in balancing food groups. If you are a vegetarian, this book will become your best friend, always there for you when you’re on your own, and ready to lend a hand when you’re sharing food with family and friends. If you are a vegan, you can cook nearly every recipe in this book and feed your body well in the truest sense. This is whole food for everyone. 

    We have already enjoyed many recipes from this book.  The Tempeh Portobello burgers had my daughter asking for seconds.  I take the Shaved Fennel and Beet salad for lunch.  When we received a celery root, I made a delicious Creamy Cauliflower and Celery Root Soup that warmed both body and soul on a snow day.

    At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen is full of recipes for the kind of food you and your family want to be eating.  It has stayed in my cookbook stand for weeks now and I plunder it for new delights to enjoy.




    Geomag



    Any toy that inspires creativity and STEM education is always a plus in my book.  I have not seen my daughter as excited as she was when she received her Geomag building set in a very long time.  It has inspired hours of creativity and play.
    Geomagworld SA is a company where creativity and learning have been working side by side since 2008. Our Classic toys that exploit the incredible potential of magnetism for play and education.Our products help children of all ages develop and train their minds, imagination and curiosity through the science of magnetic construction. Geomag has received several international awards for quality and play value.These awards include: Dr. Toy “Best Classic Toys” Award, Parents Choice Award “Magnetic Challenge, Dr. Toys “Best Children’s Products”, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio “Gold Seal”, Toy of the Year “Specialty Toy”, Creative Child Magazine “Preferred Choice Award: Construction”, National Parenting Awards “Gold Winner”, and Scholastic Parent & Child “Gold Star Award”.

    Children are able to really use their imaginations to build structures.   We have the Glitter set which is so fun and looks so space-age.  By connecting everything with magnetic little balls, the possibilities of play are really endless.  It teaches children about magnets and structure.  A certain husband was even found playing away and building too.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2016

    Plant-Powered Families


    Eating vegan does not have to be all beans and tofu.  It is surprisingly easy to get the whole family enjoying wonderful vegan meals together.  Plant-Powered Families by Dreena Burton is an amazing way to eat vegan everyday.
    Veteran cookbook author Dreena Burton shows a whole foods, plant-based diet can be easy, delicious, and healthy for your entire family. In Plant-Powered Families, Burton shares over 100 whole-food, vegan recipes—tested and approved by her own three children. With tips for handling challenges that come with every age and stage—from toddler to teen years —Plant-Powered Families is a perfect reference for parents raising “weegans” or families looking to transition to a vegan diet.Burton shares advice and solutions from her own experience for everything from pleasing picky eaters and stocking a vegan pantry to packing school lunches and dealing with challenging social situations.Plant-Powered Families also includes nutritionist-approved references for dietary concerns that will ensure a smooth and successful transition for your own plant-powered family!

    I was super-excited when I got this book.  The recipes are easy to follow, healthy and most importantly they taste wonderful.  The Chickpea Salad is not only a great way to pack some protein into a sandwich for lunch, I use it on a bed of lettuce to spice up a boring salad.  Shipshape Joes' are fun, tasty alternative to the Sloppy Joes we all ate and loved.  I actually like this healthy version even better.  For sweet tooths, there are plenty of great recipes (we are huge fans of the Fudgesicles made with cashew butter).  I find myself grabbing this every day and both my body and my taste buds have not looked back.  Added bonus: my skin and hair suddenly feel amazing....coincidence?  I think not!

    Tuesday, March 8, 2016

    Tazeka


    Aromatherapy was something I started embracing as a teenager.  I happened to take a meditation class and it came up how useful aromatherapy really is.  I was pretty excited when I learned about Tazeka AromatherapyTazeka Aromatherapy blends holistically, while considering the therapeutic, scientific and historical uses for the oils.  The lipstick-tube-sized cases fit into your handbag and can really go anywhere you need them.  By inhaling these delicious scents, your olfactory bulb signals the cortex in your brain and really affects your bodies stress response.


    Tazeka Aromatherapy is really meant to go wherever you may need them.  You use these little bottles of joy and roll the delicious scents on to your pulse points and let the oils do their work.  Currently there are 17 gorgeous blends.  I am a personal fan of the Peaceful Slumber and Optimism.  Peaceful Slumber is one I use every single night.  It contains Cedarwood, Lavender and Bergamot, among other oils and it relaxes my spinning mind.  Optimism has permanent place in my bag.  It gives me energy and helps me take on the day with a blend of Sage, Orange and Jasmine.  It should be called "happy mama oil."

    Tazeka Aromatherapy are really works of art both inside and out.  Stop and smell the oils and let your mind take a well-needed respite.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2016

    The Artful Year

    We are a crafting family.   My daughter and I are always making something.  We are also a family that quite honestly loves to celebrate every season and decorate our home accordingly.  No fancy art here, our daughter's art adorns our home and makes it feel like exactly that...our home.  I hang her masterpieces with pride and even frame certain pieces.  The Artful Year by Jean Van't Hul is another wonderful book by the same author of The Artful Parent.

    Celebrating the seasons provides a wonderful opportunity to embrace creativity together as a family. It’s also a fun way to decorate for, prepare for, and learn about the holidays we celebrate. In The Artful Year, you’ll find a year’s worth of art activities, crafts, recipes, and more to help make each season special. These artful explorations are more than just craft projects—they are ways for your family to create memories and mementos and develop creatively, all while exploring nature, new ideas, and traditions. The book includes:
    • Arts and crafts, using the materials, colors, and themes of the season
    • Ideas and decorations for celebrating the holidays together
    • Favorite seasonal recipes that are fun for children to help make (and eat!)
    • Suggested reading lists of children’s picture books about the seasons and holidays
    The 175+ activities in this book are perfect for children ages one to eight, and for creating traditions that appeal to all ages.

    The Artful Year has proven to be a great way to get us creating together and really celebrating the season.  We have made the nature ice wreath (which melted before silly me remembered to take a snap), as well as the 3-D Stained glass wreath for which we chose snowflake tissue paper.


    The book is separated by the four seasons and has wonderful ideas for crafts inspired by the holidays during those seasons and the seasons themselves.  We look forward to creating more wonderful pieces and cooking up some of the delicious recipes that pay homage to each season.

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