My Glass Tea Maker – LOVE IT!

glass tea maker with infuser customizedI woke up in a sangria tea mood today.

As I was preparing it I realized I haven’t shared one of my favorite things with y’all.

This is my glass tea maker with an infuser!  I love that it is glass, double insulated and that it is customized with my name, :-).

It is so simple to use. While my water is warming, I take out the infuser and add a little honey to the bottom of the bottle. You can use the sweetener of your choice, or none at all.

Then I put the infuser back in (it sits perfectly in the inner wall), and add my tea leaves. When the water is warm, I pour it slowly over the leaves and let it steep. After steeping, I simply remove the infuser with its handle, discard the leaves and stir softly to ensure my honey is distributed evenly.

I use this bottle when I want to travel with my fresh-brewed tea from leaves. It is perfect for on-the-go tea.

So far it has kept my tea warm for an hour and a half. It could possibly last much longer than that, but that’s as long the tea lover in me has ever taken to finish a bottle, :-).

If you’d like to order one customized with your name (or something else), you can find it at Serendipity Glass.

glass tea maker for travel

My freshly-steeped sangria tea, :-)

Happy Tea Making!

Dairy Free, Vegan, Gluten-Free Cheese that MELTS!

vegandairyfreecheesemeltseasyFinding a dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan cheese that melted was not an easy feat. But since we love grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza and casseroles over here, I kept hunting until I found one – Daiya.

It was either that or have my husband and one daughter suffer through meltless options while the rest of us enjoyed the deliciousness of melted dairy. While there were definitely times this happened during the testing stage, I’m happy this didn’t have to become the norm, :-).

Daiya makes many cheese options that melt, but I go for the slices and shredded cheese options. I keep these vegan cheddar slices in the fridge for sandwiches, and the vegan shredded mozzarella to sprinkle on casseroles and pizza.

How Does Daiya Vegan Cheese Taste?

Both my daughter and husband love it, so if you’re looking for a good alternative to dairy this is one. I tasted it and yes, it’s good. I’m not giving up my dairy to go completely vegan and gluten-free, but I will eat this, too.

Where to Buy:

In the Charlotte area it’s available at many grocery stores, including The Fresh Market and some Food Lion locations. You can also purchase it at Whole Foods Markets around the country, or on Amazon. If you’re curious about your local grocery stores not listed here, here’s a locator you can use .

Looking on their website, I see they have a cheesecake. I think I’ll have to buy that next time, you know, for testing purposes.

Enjoy your cheesy dishes!

April Holidays and Celebrations

April holidays listed

Happy April, aka First Full Month of Spring!

Here’s a list of holidays to inspire you to get out and have some fun, and to make a difference.

April is:

National Gardening Month

National Poetry Month

Autism Awareness Month

National Grilled Cheese Month

Holidays:

2          World Autism Day

2          International Children’s Book Day

7          World Health Day

10           National Siblings Day

11           National Pet Day

18           Tax Day

22           Earth Day

22           National Jellybean Day

23           National Picnic Day

27           Administrative Professionals Day

28           Take Your Child to Work Day

30           International Jazz Day

April 24-30th is National Princess Week!

Shopping the Souks of Marrakech, Morocco

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A hypnotic, mesmerizing and intoxicating labyrinth of metalwork, woodwork, rugs, leather, spices and more. That’s how I describe the souks in Marrakech, Morocco.

And this exotic marketplace of shops and stalls was one of my favorite places in Marrakech.

We spent a sunny afternoon perusing the colorful stalls, each with its own unique finds, and many with craftsmen in the back creating goods.

My favorite vendor was Mohamed, and I purchased three of his bags. If you go to the souks, LOOK HIM UP! You won’t be disappointed.

Shopping for leather bags in souks of Marrakech Morocco

Mohamed’s  business card

When I walked in Mohamed was in the back working on a bag, but he greeted me and let me peruse at my own speed. In a place where many of the merchants can be aggressive, this was a welcome approach.

leather bags from Marrakech Morocco

I fell in love with this yellow suede bag, so much so I bought it in gray, too. And the navy blue with fringes? Yes, please!

I walked back to my riad completely pleased with my finds (and wishing I had budgeted for more bags).

Here are tips for getting the most from your Marrakech shopping excursion:

  • Embrace the overstimulation of color, crafts and beauty. It is A LOT, and it is beautiful. The best thing is to relax, browse and then decide what you truly want/need.
  • Don’t get sucked in to the trap of buying the first thing you see, because you may see something a few stalls down that you like better.
  • If time permits, walk through and then decide what you will buy. I walked through and then purchased as I made my way back through the souks.
  • Don’t be intimidated by shop owners. Some are pretty aggressive and may try to guilt you to buy from them. Don’t give in to the pressure.
  • Haggling is a part of the culture, which can work to your advantage. Decide what you’re willing to pay, and don’t be afraid to compare pricing.

 

Enjoy!

Canon SELPHY Mobile Printer Perfect For Instant Prints

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                            photo from Barbados trip

My Canon SELPHY Compact photo printer has become one of my favorite tech purchases. It’s portable, the prints come out great and it’s very easy to use.

Here is a review of my favorite features, in no particular order:

Quality prints. To the average eye these prints are fine. I’ve printed plenty of color photos and they all look nice. The color is vibrant, the photos aren’t pixelated and the borderless printing option adds to the professional feel of the photo. I’ve given away prints as party favors at different events, and the feedback has been glowing.

Pairs with my smartphone. I LOVE that it’s wireless and Bluetooth-enabled, which means I can easily print from my smartphone! I quickly edit the photo using my phone, and then print from the Canon app. For my daughter’s last birthday party it was all I needed to print photos from the photo booth. The girls had a blast and were so excited to take their picture home that day. It takes each photo over a minute to print, but the ease of printing makes up for the time. I printed photos while they were enjoying their snack, J.

4 x 6 size prints. The size of the print is standard, making it easy to find frames or add to a photo book. In a time when most photos live electronically only, it’s been great encouraging my girls to display printed photos.

Small and portable. This mobile printer is very small, making it easy to carry and use no matter where you are. All you need is an electric outlet and you are set.

portable printer for easy photos

A few other things:

  • When you buy the printer, don’t forget to pick up printing supplies. It comes with a starter kit, but this only prints 4-5 photos. I bought this set of extra photo paper and cartridges, which will give you over 100 prints.
  • I love the wireless option and being able to print from my phone, but you can also print from a camera using a cord.
  • It doesn’t come with a carry bag, so consider picking up a small bag to keep your printer and supplies in one place. I use a repurposed lunch bag, :-).

Enjoy!

Barbados 2016 Girls Trip

barbados itinerary long weekend girlfriend getawayBarbados Getaway! Where we stayed, what we did and where we ate

Landing in Barbados in the wee hours of the morning is exciting. The humidity of the Caribbean air hugs you, and the energy from other passengers is contagious. We know that in a few hours we’ll be privy to a beautiful sunrise over some amazingly blue water. And if we’re really on it, we can view it from our balcony or from the beach… WITH our tropical juice, :-).

Getting through immigration and customs was a fairly easy process at the airport, and it was very easy to get a cab to the Hilton Barbados. Upon arrival I knew we had chosen a good place to call home for a few days.

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One pool at Hilton Barbados Resort

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Infinity pool at Hilton Barbados Resort

The grounds were peaceful, with a slight hum of the ocean in the background. Talk about a welcome soundtrack!

The staff was great, too. Very friendly and accommodating.

Our first morning we ate breakfast at the hotel (they have a buffet) and decided on two excursions for our vacation – a driver to show us the island and horseback riding. The hotel concierge was extremely helpful in setting these up.

When I tell you that Barbados is GORGEOUS, these photos don’t do it justice…

barbadosview2

 

barbadosmountainoceanview2

 

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These animals know how to choose a home…

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Horseback riding near the beach

Now, y’all know I’m about my food, and Barbados did not disappoint. Our driver suggested Brown Sugar so we ate there the first night. This is the crabmeat-stuffed fish fillet with seasonal vegetables.

barbadosdinnerbrownsugar2

O.M.G. It was divine! The green vegetable is christophene.  If you ever see it on a menu, order it! Really, take my word.

The next night we went to Oistins where I took the servers suggestion and ordered the blue marlin. When the plate came I couldn’t believe how much food was on the plate. See how the fish is hanging off the plate?!

barbadosmarlindinneroistinsbay2

I have never had a server bring a second plate because my plate was overflowing. Nope, never.

There are other things you can do in Barbados, too. Snorkeling, kayaking, sightseeing, etc. But above all, make sure you schedule plenty of time to do nothing but enjoy the beautiful blue waters, caribbean breezes and good company. I took a two-hour nap on the beach, and waking up to this view was enough to make me want to do this again.

barbados long weekend itinerary

If you’re looking for a place to go with friends, for a romantic getaway or even a solo trip, I strongly recommend Barbados, :-).

Happy Travels and enjoy the Caribbean breeze!

 

p.s. Here are a couple of short videos of Hilton Barbados from my trip to get you ready…

View from Infinity Pool

Sounds of the ocean and view from the UNESCO site!

 

Amazon Kindle Unlimited, Get the Most From Your Subscription

ebookskindleaffordable_freeThe hunt for free Amazon Kindle ebooks can be exhilarating, or it can be a path to the rabbit hole of headaches, stress and “WHY did I ever decide to do this?!”.

For me, it’s the latter.

I like “free,” but not at the cost of my sanity. So, I decided to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.

I look at it this way. For the cost of one book per month, I have access to an unlimited number of ebooks that I can easily download to my Kindle app. It’s like buy one, get an unlimited amount free every month.

Better yet, I’m not stuck reading mostly summaries or teasers that lead me to books I have to purchase anyway.

I access my account via the Kindle app, and read on my iPad and phone. I love that it syncs so I don’t have to figure out where I stopped, even if I want/need to read the book on a device I didn’t use to start. The app is compatible with most ereaders, iPhones, Android phones, and tablets, including iPad.

Here are three ways I get the most from my unlimited subscription:

  • I think of it as my on-demand library, that’s accessible anywhere. Sure, there are lots of fiction books, but it’s excellent for nonfiction, reference, textbooks and cookbooks, too. I was able to download a Paleo diet cookbook and a “how-to” book one day. The next day I was downloading fiction from a couple of my favorite authors.
  • I am sure to download and read at least two books monthly. Since the fee averages the cost of one ebook, if I read at least two, it’s like I bought one and got one free, :-). . Right now I’m reading The Portable MFA in Creative Writing, with a couple of light-hearted fiction ebooks on the side.
  • I set aside time weekly to read and learn. I read at least 15 minutes every day. This way I know I’m not wasting my money.

Now for my one caveat. Kindle Unlimited will not take the place of purchasing all new releases or some very popular authors. However, you can use the 30-day free trial subscription to test the waters, see what’s available, and try out my tips, :-).

Happy Reading!

 

Disclaimer: This post may include affiliate links, which tells companies how you found them, and may result in my compensation from the company. This compensation will not effect your final cost for anything and it definitely doesn’t effect my reviews or opinions. I think of it as a finder’s fee for the company, :-). Read more about affiliates and my complete disclosure here.

Super Soul Sunday Takes TV Tabernacle to Another Level

supersoulsundaythankstooprahDear Oprah,

As a bona fide member of TV Tabernacle I must thank you for SuperSoul Sunday.

Yesterday I was only going to watch the 11 a.m. show with Rob and Kristen Bell, but next up was Brene Brown! When you introduced me to her a few years ago, I raved for weeks about her to anyone that would listen.

I can’t tell you how much I love her research, findings and how she shares these things. Now I must watch the reruns every time they are on.
Then Marianne Williamson?! Yes and yes.

Since SuperSoul Sunday has come into my life, my spiritual journey has not been the same. In addition to my favorite pastors, my soul is now fed by people I may have never known otherwise. I love that you share a variety of experiences and perspectives on spirituality. I love the “aha moments” and tweetable quotes.

Again, thank you for using your platform for this. I am so blessed by the conversations and thoughts.

Sincerely,
Towanda