Category Archives: Living

Relieve, Refresh and Revitalize with Cabaret Brewed Chocolate

brewed chocolate Cabaret Brewed Chocolate is probably unlike any other drink you’ve had before. Made by brewing whole raw cocoa beans in water, sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice and reduced into a concentrated syrup, brewed chocolate is a light, chocolate drink with the same consistency as tea.

Taking inspiration from the ancient Mexicans, the makers of Brewed Chocolate realized quickly why the ancient Mexicans valued it so much. Adding a teaspoon of Brewed Chocolate to just 4oz of water, after about 20 minutes you realize something…different. You realize that all of your stress is gone, the day before melts away and you are calm, content and refreshed. Brewed Chocolate is the ultimate treat to have about an hour before bedtime.

This calm and relaxed feeling comes from something called theobromine, a cousin of caffeine, but without the jittery side effect; in fact, theobromine has significantly different effects from caffeine–Theobromine is a long-lasting stimulant that cause a mood enhancement and that feeling of overwhelming calmness; a feeling I had very seldom before Brewed Chocolate came into my life.

As a freelance web designer, developer and writer, my life is very hectic and because I work at home, I never really get to say ‘Okay, I’m done with work for the day.’ Instead, it’s more like ‘Okay, I can’t stay awake any longer and need to go visit the bed for about 8 hours before I get up and do this all over again.’ Because my life tends to get a bit hectic every day, it’s great to have Brewed Chocolate to look forward to during the day and enjoy after a relaxing bath and snuggling up on the couch before I head to bed.

I was personally taken a little aback by the taste of Brewed Chocolate, but like the ancient Mexicans, I value this drink for what it makes me feel and to be honest, I think most of us out there would drink gasoline straight from the pump if it was healthy and brought out the feeling that Brewed Chocolate does and when you try it, you will know what I mean. The unique taste of this drink is caused by the fact that it contains very little fat; only 24 calories and less than a half gram of fat per teaspoon.

If you are usually high strung at the end of the day or crave relaxation in the form of a tea-like drink that you can relax with in front of the television or while reading a book before bed, you need to try Brewed Chocolate.

Top 10 Produce You Should Buy Organic

USDA organic Ideally, everyone would be eating the freshest and safest foods possible–Everyone would be eating 100% organically, however, budgets are tight and a great deal of people simply cannot afford to purchase a great deal of organic foods. That’s completely understandable, I can’t afford to eat all organically, but it is important to make sure you’re purchasing some organic foods, mainly produce.

Produce, as many may know, contains a great deal of pesticides if not grown organically and more than 80% of the most common pesticides are potentially carcinogenic, meaning that they contain an agent directly involved in the promotion of cancer or in the increase of its propagation. Scary, right? I know! Luckily, the Environmental Working Group has put together a downloadable wallet guide containing the worst and best produce, in terms of pesticide levels.

For your immediate attention, here is a list of the top 10 produce you should most definitely be buying organic, every time.

1. Peaches – pesticide load: 100
2. Apples – pesticide load: 96
3. Bell Peppers – pesticide load: 86
4. Celery – pesticide load: 85
5. Nectarines – pesticide load: 84
6. Strawberries – pesticide load: 83
7. Cherries – pesticide load: 75
8. Lettuce – pesticide load: 69
9. Grapes (imported) – pesticide load: 68
10. Pears – pesticide load: 65

But can’t you just wash or peel your produce to get rid of pesticides?

While you may think that washing or peeling your produce can effectively remove pesticides from your food, the truth is that while these tactics may reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

Let PartyBluPrints Do the Party Planning for You

PartyBluPrints There are a lot of people who absolute love to entertain; when buying a house, they make sure that there is ample room in order to throw dinner and cocktail parties or intimate gatherings of friends and family. I have never been one of those people and I’ll tell you the main reason why–I hate planning something out meticulously. I really wouldn’t have a clue where to start when planning the execution of a dinner party or even a small get together; I can’t even have all parts of dinner done at the same time night after night and I have had a lot of practice with it and just can’t seem to get the timing right. I believe that there are a select few out there who can plan the perfect party and have it pan out the exact way that they had planned and if there are people out there who love throwing parties but can’t plan it out, they hire party planners. I have never had a small fortunate laying around to hire a party planner, either, so I figured I was simply out of luck.

That is, until I found out about PartyBluPrints.

PartyBluPrints gives you the luxury of not having to worry about planning a party and not knowing where to start or even coming up with the theme that is just right for your gathering. They outline your blue print to success starting with the key elements of a party; the menu, cocktails, music, favors, activities and invitations. Not only do that go in order with what you need to start and then to finish, they give you ideas and inspiration to take with you and best of all, their blue prints are all in PDF form, not prone to getting lost or ruined in the midst of your party, but conveniently on your computer at all times to consult.

Their website is often updated with holiday ideas and also a few free guides, this season’s being an Election Party and Girls Night In. Other parties they have planned are ready for you to dig in to are a holiday parties, wine tasting parties, sports parties and a few different exciting themes specifically for women and that coveted “girl time” that is so hard to make time for sometimes.

When choosing a party plan of my liking, I went for A Night in Venice, with a festival, cosmopolitan, radiant and harmonious vibe.

As I took my first glance through my PartyBluPrint, the first thing I thought was “Wow!” They did not miss a beat when it came to planning the perfect party to encompass the entire vibe and not only that, but they include a little background history on, in my case, Venice, and while taking some ideas from history and from the place itself, they tune your entire party to that theme and it is amazing, really.

PartyBluPrints steps

My PartyBluPrint started with the invitation and how to make it appear its absolute best. It then went on to not only the cocktail and meal menus but also the recipes and the preparation for each item, which I was pleasantly surprised with, as I need a recipe for soup! If you are planning your party ahead of time, they also include websites where you can buy the exact ingredients for the menu right online, making it convenient and super easy.

We all know that any gathering is not complete without ambiance and PartyBluPrints even thought of that! Giving you an overall idea and also distinct instructions, they make it a cinch to turn your home into a luxurious, magical place where the theme of the party greets your guests as soon as they step through your door.

While the Eparty plans PartyBluPrints have set up are remarkable in their entirety, the very best aspect of their party plan is that they give you an entire shopping list for your party in a list format with little boxes next to the items to ensure sufficiency in your party planning, making sure you have everything you need for a remarkable evening with your guests. For people like me who, like I said, cannot plan dinner to be done at the same time, they give you a step by step guide right down to time measurements, making sure that everything is completed and you’re ready for your guests when they start to arrive.

PartyBluPrints offers an exceptional service to party planning newbies and offers ideas and inspiration to those comfortable with throwing a gathering of any size. I would definitely recommend them for any type of party you are thinking about planning in the future, you cannot get more efficient or aesthetically pleasing.

Healthy Three-Pepper Pasta Topping

bell peppers Bell peppers are great for you, yet not so many people eat them as much as they should. They contain high levels of vitamin C which can act as an anti-inflammatory to decrease symptoms of arthritis. They also contain carotenoid compounds, which may enhance vision and decrease the risk of cataracts.

So here is a recipe for a delicious pasta topping using three peppers to help your health.

You will need:

  • one yellow, red and green bell peppers
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • whole wheat pasta

Directions:
1. Cut yellow, red and green bell peppers into thin strips.
2. Saute 1 cup of peppers in 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
3. Toss peppers with cooked whole-wheat pasta (2 ounces dry).

Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenol compounds, which help increase good HDL-cholesterol levels and decrease bad LDL levels.

Get in the Mood for Fall with Pumpkin Butter

pumpkin butter The chilly nights and mornings are here and with that, we’re noticing the climate change as it becomes Fall here. Fall is my favorite season; the leaves change and everything is just beautiful and I tend to get in the mood for fall a lot sooner than I should. I’m already thinking of pumpkins, pumpkin patches, and children trick or treating. It’s just a beautiful time and the weather is perfect. So while I’ve been ready for fall since August, it is finally time to really get in that spirit and it’s time to mix things up a little bit and get your taste buds in the mood too!

Here is a fabulous recipe for pumpkin butter; perhaps a recipe to save for after Halloween and you have all of those extra pumpkins laying around. Don’t throw them away, use them in your cooking!

You will need:

  • 2 pounds peeled, seeded, and diced sugar pie pumpkin (substitute canned if needed)
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt

1. In a stainless steel pot, combine pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar, and salt; bring to a simmer. (If using fresh pumpkin, stir until it’s tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.)

2. Continue simmering until the mixture starts to thicken, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender; blend until smooth. Return mixture to pot and heat for 10 minutes on low until it reaches desired thickness. Remove, cool, and serve.

And that’s it! You can do a few things with this butter and probably a lot more if you start to think out of the box a little. Of course it can be used on top of breads and toast and also on top of bagels, muffins or even in muffins or in between layers of a vanilla cake; just cut the pastry in half, layer pumpkin butter on the bottom and put the top back on! Have fun!

Irresistible Shot Glass Sundaes

shot glass sundaes In the land of calorie counting, watching your figure and the latest diet trends, indulging your sweet tooth can prove to be an impossible challenge. Luckily, there is a way for you to let yourself indulge a little bit and not have to worry about a thing.

You will need:

  • 1 pint vanilla, peach, and/or mango ice cream
  • 24 1-oz. disposable plastic shot glasses

1. Line 15x10x1-inch baking pan with waxed paper. With miniature ice cream scoop, scoop ice cream and place in prepared pan (you should have 24 small scoops). Cover loosely; freeze at least 2 hours. Prepare desired combinations below. Serve at once. Makes 8 servings (3 treats per serving)

  • Peach: Peel, pit and coarsely chop 2 small peaches; toss with 1 tablespoon sugar. Divide mixture among 8 plastic shot glasses. Top with scoops of vanilla ice cream and toasted coconut chips*.
  • Popcorn: Divide 1/2 cup popped popcorn among 8 plastic shot glasses. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons purchased caramel ice cream topping. Top with peach or mango ice cream and additional popcorn.
  • Pear Ginger: Divide 3/4 cup coarsely crushed sugar cookies among 8 plastic shot glasses. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger. Top with vanilla ice cream and slivers of fresh pear.

You can make these mini treats with any combination you desire, whether it be a brownie, chocolate ice cream and chocolate fudge or vanilla ice cream, sugar cookies and caramel sauce. Let your imagination run wild.

These treats can be made for entertaining guests at a summer luncheon, a chance to make delicious treats that the kids can help with and enjoy, or any other event you have in mind. Enjoy!

Go Green in Your Garden

I have noticed that there are quite a few more “go green” commercials airing on television. Not only that, but many companies have seen to pick up the same tactics in all consumer media–Television, online, magazines; you name it, and it’s going green.

Companies want you to buy organically–Food, bath and body products, laundry detergents and so on, but when I got down to thinking, one place where you should most definitely be letting your eco-friendliness shine is when you’re using your green thumb.

Don’t let your plants and flowers soak up all the green in your garden. Many gardeners don’t realize simply how ironic it is that you’re growing green but you’re not necessarily going green when it comes to most small gardens and one of the most controversial elements when it comes to your garden are the products you are using to help keep your garden beautiful. One of the biggest things that can keep your garden from looking it’s best are weeds and instead of spending an entire day pulling weeds out by hand when you can be tending to the other aspects of your garden, you must find yourself an excellent weed killer.

Weed killers aren’t environmentally friendly; in fact, weed killers use harsh chemicals to kill weeds, but while you may think that they are getting the job done in that department, they are also harming your other plants–And that goes triple if you have a vegetable garden! Luckily, there is now an organic herbicide that is safe to use for you, your pets and children and the environment.

Nature's Avenger Nature’s Avenger is an all-natural organic herbicide that is completely natural and designed to meet the needs and demands of gardeners, homeowners and Mother Nature.

It has been approved for use in organic production, is fast-acting with visible results in just two hours or even less and it is also highly biodegradable. It is made with natural citrus oil, which means you aren’t dealing with harsh chemicals with harsh chemical smells. With Nature’s Avenger, your sense of smell, braincells and health of pets and children are fully taken care of.

Nature’s Avenger is available is a 24oz pre-mixed, pre-measured, easy to use spray bottle and also in 32oz and 1 gallon concentrates and can be purchased through their website or on Amazon.

Cozy Blankets Wrapped in Inspiration

I work from home and one of the things that I never really paid much attention to before, such as motivational and inspirational quotes, have become a very big part of my life. I find a quote I like and I will make a desktop background with the quote on it or write it down on a piece of paper and keep it on my desk. It is very little things such as this that give me my little jolt for the day–Oh yeah, and coffee. They are what take me from “Ugh, I don’t want to do anything today.” to “I need to work, I need to make money to keep a roof over my head and food on the table. This is what is going to turn my life around. This is what I do and I am damn good at it!”

One of the best finds I have come across lately, as well as something that has completely transformed my work ethic are the Affirmagy wraps. The blankets come from an all-woman business, which of course makes them top notch in my book, being a woman entrepreneur as well as a soon-to-be woman business owner and they also have a poster of Rosie the Riveter in the office, which just makes my love for this company grow and grow. They have been featured on Family.com, Entrepreneur.com, as well as in publications of Pink magazine, Fit Yoga and The Boston Globe.

The affirmawraps are incredibly soft blankets that come in a variety of colors that have inspirational quotes covering them. They have helped my work ethic due to me being snuggled up in my computer chair in mine since I received it.

Affirmawraps come with several different quotes on them, including abundance, courage, gratitude, love, motherhood, serenity, strength and wholeness. They also have a limited edition series which come with quotes for compassion, peace, inspiration and joy.

Being a freelance writer, website designer and web administrator, I obviously needed the inspiration wrap, needing all the inspiration I can get on a daily basis. It reads:

I live an inspired life. As I follow my dreams, I inspire others to do the same. Inspiration radiates around me. I love finding inspiration in the little things. The compassion of others inspires me. I attract extraordinary people. I am inspired every day. Each day I awaken my intuition. I follow my inspired heart.

inspiration Affirmawrap

Affirmagy wraps are absolutely amazing, in my opinion. They are ultra soft, cozy as well as the pick me up that so many people could use in their lives; they also make incredible gifts for anyone in your family, circle of friends, coworkers and they even come for babies and pets, which I think are great; I just wish I got one for my cat–Yes, she is incredibly spoiled.

Head on over to their website and fall in love with Affirmagy wraps, there is one there for absolutely everyone; and also be sure to check out Affirmawords, the Affirmagy blog by Kristen, maker of the Affirmawraps.

Planning Your Own Vegetable Garden

fresh vegetables Within the next five years, my partner and I are planning on buying our first home. While talking about the home of our dreams and about what a luxury it will be to not have to ask a landlord if we can paint the walls, hang up pictures and change the carpet in our rooms, he mentioned that he would love to have a garden.

Now first of all, my partner is very much unlike most guys you will meet–He loves to decorate, he has an eye for what colors and fabrics look best on me and he has a knack for cleaning the house a whole lot better than I could! I am a very lucky woman to have somehow attracted my very own straight gay man.

While thinking about this garden that he would love to have, we talked about not only having fresh flowers we wouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for, but also our very own produce; which of course, with the rising cost of gas to get to the store and the twenty percent increase in food prices that have hit America hard, having our very own vegetables would be a dream!

Being the dedicated blogger that I am, I thought I would share some information I picked up on how to make the thought of your very own vegetable garden a reality.

Like any major endeavor you plan to take on, a vegetable garden takes planning. You can’t just go out to your yard, pick a corner and start planting, you need to take into consideration how much sunlight your crops need, how many different varieties of vegetables you will be growing and where everything is going to go.

Vegetables have very particular needs unlike any other plants. Your vegetables required deep, fertile soil, a level ground and six hours of full sun every day at the very least. You also need to take into consideration that raised beds are better for growing vegetables because they have good draining, which rids your vegetables of disease and suffocation of the root systems. Raised beds also warms the soil a lot quicker than a regular bed and of course, since vegetables need six hours of full sunlight daily, they could use all the warmth they can get!

It is much easier to sketch your plan out on paper before you begin to plant. Decide what vegetables will go where as well as the size of the beds you will need. The best type of paper for this endeavor would be graph paper so you can plan to scale and also make sure you know how big your crops will grow so you can make sure that they are spaced out properly and not overlapping onto each other.

To make the raised beds that I mentioned earlier, mark off the bed layout with string and bamboo stakes. Make sure that your beds are not wider than 36 to 40 inches and using a shovel, carve out a series of lowered paths around the staked-off areas. Then, mound the soil onto the beds and use a rake to level the soil.

If you currently have your own vegetable garden, tell me about it in the comments, I could surely use all the help I can get and if you’re feeling really adventurous, take some pictures and send them to me using the contact form.

Planning Your Big Day: Wedding Registries

wedding registry kitchen items There are a lot of things to consider when planning your wedding and let’s face it, who can ignore the fact that there are presents involved?

Women have a tendency to over think pretty much everything regarding their wedding day; the term “bridezilla” didn’t come out of the sky, you know, and setting up your wedding registry is no different. There are some simple things you can do, however, to make the process of setting up your wedding registry.

First of all, start with the room you get the most excited about when you think about getting shiny, new things for it. If it’s your bedroom, go to the bedroom and take a look around. Take note of what you already have (and like) and think about what you’ve been wanting to add to the room that you haven’t already. If you have some items, like myself, that maybe your parents or your soon-to-be spouse’s parent’s handed down to you, would you like to update them? If so, in what colors or styles? Make a list of items you need as well as what you would like–It’s okay to be a little frivolous; in fact, it’s expected.

After you’ve finished with the room that you get the most excited about, move through the house in the order of what rooms give you that warm and fuzzy feeling and rooms that you would love some new gadgets for. However, it is also expected that you will forget some items that you’ll be kicking yourself later for not adding to your registry, so to help out with setting up your wedding registry, I Do Sugar, part of the Sugar blog network, has made a very convenient wedding registry [PDF] containing items that one can most often easily forget about to make sure that doesn’t happen to you!

You can download the file here; I can’t even imagine the number of sanities this file is going to save when it comes to wedding registry planning!