Tag Archives: Books

Dog Days!

So, since he was a puppy, Leo has been eating some of the better (but not most expensive) dry dog food; I always have checked ingredients to make sure that meat, not meat by-product or a filler was in the top 3 ingredients and corn and gluten free. Blue Buffalo was tried (but sporadically as it was too expensive), but mostly Taste of the Wild as it was the most reasonably priced for something “decent” as far as dry food goes. But having allergy and stomach issues like me, I hated some of the ingredients still included. I wondered daily “WHY am I buying and feeding him something that even I wouldn’t want to put in my body?” Not only that, but he put on 10 pounds in 2014 after he was neutered and even cutting back on his portion size, he could not lose weight.

I finally weighed my options after seeing Fresh Pet in a cooler in the pet section and realized the price comes out the same and the ingredients were only what I would use if I were cooking his food myself. Fresh ingredients, no fillers, no corn. He LOVES the food. When he sees me getting it ready for him, he literally does a doggy “happy dance” and actually ignores his ball (which is his pacifier and can’t be without). Well, I’m not sure just how much weight he has lost, but not only is there a taper to his waist again and looking fitter (and one can tell he feels better), but his collar has been adjusted to a smaller fit (1/2 – 1 inch in from the last notch) and I am still able to get several fingers under it.

Food being aside, I have been paranoid (being the health & organic food advocate that I have become) about chemicals and supplements he has been given over the past 5+ years to control fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and parasites. He had a horrible reaction to the Trifexis the last couple of times I gave him that about 2 years ago so I refused to give that to him again (especially after researching it…that stuff shouldn’t be on the market). I started using a topical, Advantage Multi, but after a few times, I noticed he definitely was still having reactions to even that for 24 or so hours after applying. 😦 So, more research ensued. I was skeptical of using garlic at first, but after more than a year of reading, researching and talking to people who use garlic for their pets, I bit the bullet and started him on fresh, raw garlic.

Guess what? He has been on it since the first part of January and I’ve only seen and caught one, maybe 2 fleas on the surface of his fur. He still always seems to have issues with environmental allergies and dry, itchy skin. So I broke down and like to have killed myself bathing him a couple of days ago (using the always gentle Castille soap that I use myself) as it is soothing and won’t strip natural oils from his skin and fur and to my amazement, no fleas or flea dirt on him at all! And we have had such warm weather that fleas haven’t exactly been killed off this year! Well, now I’ve added Brewer’s Yeast powder to one of his meals each day (today is the third day) and he FINALLY seems to be feeling better (still a bit of licking and scratching, but compared to how it was, it is much better today).

So the point is this: if your pet food has ingredients in it that you wouldn’t put in your body or your loved one’s bodies, don’t feed it to your dog. When we HUMANS stop consuming packaged processed food and start eating REAL food, weight falls off effortlessly; if your dog or cat is overweight, switching them from packaged processed food to either real fresh food, homemade food or raw food diet will help them shed the weight effortlessly as well. And if labels say (of flea treatments, oral OR topical) to avoid getting on your skin and not to ingest, to call poison control if you do, then WHY would you want to keep pushing it on to your pet? They lived for thousands and thousands of years without that crap. Our ancestors didn’t have to rely on anything but nature to take care of themselves as well as their animals. The only advantage we have today is that we learned that HYGIENE which has made ALL the difference in quality of health.

Do you and your pet a favor: ditch the bags of processed dry dog food and the chemicals to keep fleas under control and give your dog a chance on garlic and Brewer’s Yeast. You will be VERY pleasantly surprised!

Leo my baby

I will leave you with the Book of the Day (well, more like Book of the Week actually). I am reading George Orwell’s “1984” at the moment. I’ve heard people talk about it a lot, especially in the last few months, and know that they made it into a movie a long time ago (I saw that John Hurt had played Winston Smith! Loved John Hurt…great actor!). I’m slightly more than halfway through, but it is a good book. Very interesting and one can draw so many similarities to life as we know it today. This oft repeating quote in the book sounds exactly like many in today’s society:

“WAR IS PEACE.  FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.  IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”

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Flourish & Blotts

So I haven’t had recipes or any such thing to really blog about lately and have been busy studying (Web Development) and reading. This will be short but sweet!

If you love to read, especially fantasy, then you will want to get a copy of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle. The first book, The Name Of The Wind, is an amazing journey of Kvothe, a young boy who started out in a troupe. Similarities and contrasts can be drawn throughout the book to him and Harry Potter, but the majority of the story (aka Day 1) is of Kvothe as a 15 year old at “University”. It has the elements of humor, sarcasm, rivalry much like Harry and Malfoy in the Harry Potter series, action & adventure, magic, music, and so much more! It is a 722 page book, but it is very difficult to put this one down! I started reading it about 2 weeks ago, the day before I got sick with the flu. When you are sick, you care nothing about anything except sleeping. That being said, this is a wonderful story!

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I am working on HTML & CSS both online and the book HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites in the first part of the day so I can HOPEFULLY get good enough to work from home designing and developing webpages for individuals and/or companies (mom & pop mostly) and now I’m going to read The House of Hades online since a) book 3, The Mark of Athena, left you hanging and b) it’s one that is available to read at Read Any Book! I was hoping to read Sheriff David Clarke’s book, Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America, but since it was a Valentine’s present from my mom to my dad, I have to wait my turn!

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Looking forward to reading next!

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Reading now!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you love mythology, Rick Riordan is a master storyteller and you get a really good in-depth education on Greek (and some Roman) mythology while enjoying an outstanding series of novels!

Fourth Times A Charm!

YAY! So this was actually my fourth attempt at making Sauerkraut (the REAL thing, not this crappy “grab a bag of pre-shredded cabbage, dump it in a jar and pour vinegar into it” horrible excuse for the real thing stuff). You know… lactofermented so it’s actually healthy and full of probiotics. My first time making some last summer was an absolute fluke; it turned out great, albeit a tad too salty. I use both green AND red cabbage so I get the nutrients and benefits of both cabbages instead of favoring one over the other so it comes out looking purple (color matters not when it tastes great and is good for you)! Using a head of both yields enough Sauerkraut to last about 3 months and costs all of $5 versus a jar of the only brand I’ve found that is actual SAUERKRAUT and not vinegar soaked cabbage that lasts a week at best and runs $7! No brainer! My second time, I think I managed to get hold of old cabbage (although it could be because I tried a different method…it molded literally overnight and put out no juice…bummer). Last batch turned out good, just not as salty as it should be and not as tangy as a perfectly fermented batch should be, but still good. But this time? Living in northwest Florida and the weather being pretty darn mild for this time of year,  it took 8 days from packing the cabbage to lactofermented Sauerkraut perfection. I’m. So. Happy!

When I checked on it Monday morning, it had that “tangy” smell to it which is indicative of the cabbage properly fermenting (believe me, you learn fast when you’ve bought some and know what it smells and tastes like when your own has gotten to that point) and since I didn’t have quite the room in the fridge at that moment, I decided to wait until yesterday morning which would work great…the fermenting “bubbles” came up in a frenzy Monday! Yippee! So press, press, press…got those bubbles going and made sure it was good and submerged in the juices.

So I went to get it to put into a couple of smaller jars that would fit in the fridge yesterday morning and the smell? Awesome! Great tangy/sour smell that is so very Sauerkraut! Then trying to pack it into the 2 jars that I used, some fell out on the counter so I tasted it. O.M.G. Bubbie’s has NOTHING on this batch of homemade Sauerkraut!  I so wish I could share it with y’all. I’m really happy and feeling quite accomplished at how well it turned out! Look at these beauties…..

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I don’t always like just getting a spoonful out and eating it straight. Usually, I get a couple of heaping tablespoons to 1/3 a cup of Sauerkraut and top my meat with it. Now, I top my chicken with it and whenever I eat beef (which my taste buds are changing…again…beef just doesn’t taste as good to me anymore, not even steaks), but it only took ONCE to discover it does NOT go well with fish! Well, this batch is solo worthy. I feel humbled because even though it is not hard to make, making it really is an art and the taste can vary a little from batch to batch depending on different factors…the freshness of the cabbage, how much salt and quality of salt (NEVER use iodized table salt; even in health magazines, they recommend using some sort of sea salt like Himalayan pink, Kiawe smoked, black sea salt from Hawai’i, etc…), how well you scrunch/rub the salt into the cabbage to release juices, or any extras you add like Caraway seeds like some recipes do. Mine is straight green and red cabbage with Himalayan pink salt and a little filtered water with extra salt on days 2 for brine when it is short on liquid to submerge.

Seriously, go back and check out the recipe. See how easy it is. Make a batch. It is especially great for helping you recuperate when you’re sick. Check out the links on THIS page and see just how good for you it is and the benefits it offers. And if you need something for the flu or an upper respiratory infection (or even a queasy stomach), try the ginger tea from THIS POST. I swear, ginger & honey are miracles for sore throats, coughing and congestion!

Hope you try some and let me know how it turns out and how you like it! Love you guys!

*Want some good reading material? Check out Heroes of Olympus (Rick Riordan), The Dresden Files (Fool Moon) by Jim Butcher or The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss. I just finished reading Fool Moon and doing a rush job of Evermore (The Immortals) by Alyson Noel. It’s okay, but it is nothing like The Dresden Files and I’m dying to get started on The Kingkiller Chronicle. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

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Excellent novel on Greek & Roman mythology! Five stars!
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The Dresden Files are just amazing. This is also a five-star book.
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Eh, I feel like I’m reading a version of Twilight. Not a bad book, but not impressed. Three stars.
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I am so looking forward to starting this one either later today or tomorrow. The summary sounds so good!

Christmas Time & Ginger Lemon Bars

Christmas tends to be my favorite time of the year. Even with depressing events and not having all my family together, the music, the lights, the smells of delicious food baking… Mmmmm! Just missing cold weather. But this is Florida, so we can’t always expect cold weather for Christmas!

We can usually expect friends and/or family, though. And this mama doesn’t like drama, particularly this time of year, so instead of wishing for things that may or may not could happen, I will focus on positives: I got some goals accomplished this year that had been part of my New Year’s resolutions! I learned to be proficient at knitting and getting better every time I knit something. I am still far FAR from being a pro, but I’m pretty happy with the latest results! I would post a picture, but until after Christmas, that will have to wait as said projects are part of our gift exchange and there is NO PEEKING! Also, homesteading has been a desire and goal of mine for some time. When you can’t sit or stand for long periods of time because of serious back problems, you do what you can as you can. So I’ve learned how to make my own sauerkraut (will post that in a later post when I make a new batch), caramelized ginger & simple ginger syrup (along with sparkling Voss water makes an amazing homemade Ginger Ale without the additives like high fructose corn syrup, aka “HFCS”), and the latest Pinterest recipe, Ginger Lemon Bars. O. M. G. New favorite!

For those who love lemon and who like ginger, this is amazing. Lemon and ginger work so well together as it is (have you tried a hot ginger tea with lemon and honey?) that if you haven’t tried ginger, lemon & honey tea, you MUST. It’s great when you’re sick. Seriously. But these babies here? I promise, you’ll be making these again. Wish I could claim they were my own recipe, but credit goes to Sarah over at Broma Bakery. The only things I changed were omitting salt since I used salted butter and I am gluten free so there’s that.

Ginger Lemon Bars

Ingredients:
for Cream Cheese Shortbread:
-5 oz. cream cheese
-1/2 C. butter
-2/3 C. sugar
-1/2 tsp. sea salt
-1 tsp. vanilla
-1 1/3 C. flour

 for the Ginger Lemon Curd:
-4 eggs
-1 1/4 C. sugar
-1/2 C. lemon juice
-1 Tblsp. lemon zest
-1 Tblsp. fresh ginger (grated)
-1/2 tsp. sea salt
-2 tsp. vanilla
-1/2 C. Flour

Instructions:

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray and line an 8″x 8″ baking dish/pan with parchment paper and lightly spray again. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar, salt (if using unsalted butter), and vanilla until light & fluffy (approximately 2 minutes). Turn mixer to low speed and incorporate flour.

3. Press dough firmly onto bottom of baking dish, spreading evenly to edges. Bake 12-15 minutes.

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4. While the shortbread is cooking….. In large bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the Ginger Lemon Curd (except for the flour). Once mixed, whisk in flour, whisking away lumps.

5. Pour Ginger Lemon Curd on top of the Cream Cheese Shortbread and bake an additional 20-30 minutes to set (length of time will depend on your oven and also the dish or pan used; I have a conventional oven and a glass dish which takes longer).

6. Cool to room temperature (or slightly warmer) on wire racks then cool in refrigerator until set and chilled an additional 2+ hours.

7. Cut into bars. You can sprinkle with as little or as much powdered sugar if desired. If you prefer more tangy, you can omit the sugar (like me, HA!).

These are absolutely divine! Now that my baking is done and my knitting projects are finished, I can focus on another resolution I have fallen pretty far behind on: my reading! Want to finally finish the Game of Thrones series (can’t wait till George R.R. Martin comes out with the 6th book in the series; he has 3 more books in the series he is working on, book 6 should be out some time in the new year). Then on to collecting and reading the rest of The Mistborn series and Dresden Files. And so many more!
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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Wishing all of you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Reading, Writing & Food

When I picked up a book again back in January, I started in voraciously to say the least. It was near the end of January before I started my first book in quite a number of years. March just started and I’m halfway through book sixteen and it’s a big book: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Out of the books I’ve read so far in the Harry Potter series, this one is quite large at 734 pages. The first three were 400 some odd pages. It was very nice to see that the first two Harry Potter movies seemed to have been taken right from the pages of the book and stuck onto film! The Prisoner of Azkaban was close, but had definite deviations. And now I find that The Goblet of Fire has more deviations (which really is understandable seeing as they didn’t want to go beyond 3 hours for a movie) than the first three combined. I’m glad I saw the movies first. I have a good image in my head of the characters! And the book is so much more in depth, detailed and descriptive!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

All this wonderful reading is trying to stoke my creative writing into bloom again. I used to love jotting down poems when I was young. And I did try starting a novel a couple of times, but after reading what I wrote, I tossed it into the trash! But all the reading did help me to conjure up a poem for my son for his birthday card. Wanted to make sure he got something nice since he’s turning 20 while he’s at Army basic training! I know that other eyes will be reading it so I wanted him to know how much I love him, but didn’t want to be mushy. So I sent this:

From the day you were born you brought sunshine and joy,

Smiles, laughter, tears… It ran the gamut

Your quick wit, your charm, and your very being

Always going; could never stay put!

From Phantom of the Opera you would often sing and  play,

You’ve always loved Star Wars, and Batman too.

From playing in The Lion King to Bye Bye, Birdie,

And succeeding in sports, there’s nothing you can’t do!

Your passion for health and helping others as well,

Shows the world just the man that you are:

Kind, considerate, loving, and loyal,

A wonderful man with a very big heart.

Now you’re out in the world on your own,

Starting a career and family… your own home sweet home.

You’re missed so very much and you always will be…

But soon the world will see what I see:

You’re Army Strong!

Yeah, yeah… I’m no professional. I dream, though! The world inside my head is so much nicer than the real world! In my mind, I can do anything I want. I also am not in pain in my dream world. I have a perfectly healthy body that does what I will it to. And I can cook (I can cook, it’s just I can’t stand for an extended period of time to cook like I used to could). And I’m a singer and actress. And my house is in Oregon in the perfect spot where I can see both the Pacific Ocean and Mount Hood. It’s a modest house; not even 2,000 square feet. But it has a great size kitchen with all the appliances just like I like them, a library with a cozy reading nook and a wonderful stereo system with all the music I could ever want to listen to. And curled up with me in that nook is my dog and a cup of coffee. If only that was reality!

BUT, in reality? Though life seems to suck most royally nowadays, it does have its shining moments. Like today. Went to the doctor for a follow up. Last time I went was the beginning of January. So when I got on the scale today, it showed I’m down to 190! That is 11 pounds I’ve lost in 2 months. Considering I can’t get around without the use of a cane and hurts to stay up long, that’s pretty awesome! But as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, a necessary diet change has everything to do with it. I can’t say it enough: cutting out processed and refined foods as well as sugar, going gluten free, eating as much fresh, whole organic foods as is possible for you, consuming fresh raw milk and raw dairy and adding at least 2 tablespoons of organic virgin, unrefined coconut oil works magic on your body!

So as I finish out tonight, I’m going to settle for my music, a bite of my Lindor Lindt Excellence chocolate bar and a little Supernatural (my addiction… I love Sam & Dean!). It’s not bad for you and since I’ve been doing it for many months now, I know it’s a wonderful way to satisfy the chocolate craving!

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Welcome to My Secret Garden!

So I have fallen behind. Life has happened. I meant to post the week of Christmas. Honest. But the holidays were not very kind. I have an aunt, my dad’s older sister, who has been in not so great of health for quite some time and we’ve been prepared for the worst. But Tuesday the 8th of December was not a day any of us were prepared for. As a few know, I live with my parents. And my dad’s only living (and younger) brother came over to visit at least once a week, mostly it had gotten to where he was coming to visit almost every day which we all looked forward to. Especially my sister and me. He was our favorite (only living) uncle. He would bring flowers for birthdays and Mother’s day, give us big bear hugs, and tease us.

So imagine my shock when my mom walks in that afternoon, walks back to my room where I was and tells me “I have some bad news.”  Her expression and the tone in which she said it made me think it was my aunt. But no, it wasn’t. She said “Uncle Donny died this morning.” I’m pretty sure we all know that we don’t live mortal lives forever, that we have souls that leave our bodies eventually, but nothing can ever prepare you for the unexpected death of someone you love so much. My dad took it the hardest. He and his brother had reconnected over the past couple of years and they were closer than they had ever been. He was just 69.

But age means nothing. My uncle had been up early that morning and was out in the garage working under one of his beautiful classic cars. He died down there of a heart attack. It could have been anyone. I’m struggling with health issues long standing and this past year has seen my thyroid disease (autoimmune… Hashimoto’s) freak out over the fact that my body decided it doesn’t need certain hormones anymore. Call me allergic to life now, but that’s okay. At least I’ve lost over 70 pounds thanks to the madness. But just because your thyroid decides to go from hypo to hyper doesn’t mean you get rid of the underactive symptoms: feel cold all the time, no energy, feeling completely drained, hair starts falling out. So between my uncle’s death and my thyroid making me feel downright miserable, I pushed all things to the back burner.

However, I finally talked my doctor’s office into doing more bloodwork than just for the one that they always only check for and was finally prescribed an additional thyroid medicine. I’m finally getting my energy back (can someone make my hair grow back?) and not feeling so weepy and moody. But at least I can read books without getting headaches and falling asleep again! YES! I used to read ALL the time when I was growing up. But after having 3 kids in 2 1/2 years time and raising them while fighting health problems, I had stopped reading. The desire was there, but never could get far in a book without having to put it down from headaches. No more!

I have my middle son to thank for that. He has the same love of reading. He has a number of books (not enough for even a small library yet, but he’s growing it!) and he has been loaning them to me to read. I’m a fan of science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, thrillers (psychological and supernatural), mysteries, crime, and adventure. The only kind of books I really can’t get into are romance. I read a few of those in college, but it was such a burden to try and get through them!

So now my secret garden has been set free for the first time in over 20 years and it is wonderful! All the magical, wonderful things that you can possibly dream up can happen when you open a book. The real world disappears and you become part of a world unlike anything you can find in real life. And that is magical indeed!

Now to begin on book 7 of The Demonata series by Darren Shan:  Death’s Shadow. It may be considered Young Adult/Horror/Fantasy, but I consider the series pretty darn cool! Check out Online Book Club. And look up Darren Shan and go read his books. These are his books meant for adults as well as young adults. But if you’re looking for something a little bolder, check out his other site, Darren Dash. I’m off to watch Supernatural, again, until I fall asleep.