I Like…

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!

Shopping the Souks of Marrakech, Morocco

spiceshoppinginmoroccosouks

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

canonprintermobilereview
                            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!

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.

Shea Moisture’s Skin Products I Love

shea moisture black soap and body oil reviewDuring a stroll through my happy place, aka Target, this black soap caught my attention. I was familiar with Shea Moisture’s hair products, but hadn’t tried their body products. Since it was reasonably priced and labeled for “acne prone and troubled skin” I threw it in my basket and kept strolling. After all, you can never buy just one thing in Target, :-).

Fast forward a few years and it has become a staple in my bathroom, and my travel bag. I started using it only on my face, but it has graduated to the only soap that stays in the shower. It was also the gateway product to Shea Moisture’s coconut & hibiscus bath, body & massage oil.

I love this oil.

It goes on great and it smells DIVINE! According to the label it is also for firming & toning, but it’s awesome for any reason. I typically use it after my shower to lock in moisture.

Next time you’re strolling, at a minimum smell the oil. And if you pick it up let me know what you think.

Sincerely, Towanda

My Notebook Hack

howtoorganizenotebookforofficeschool

Beautiful notebooks are a necessary indulgence for me. Being able to scribble notes, write inspirational messages and jot down ideas in a piece of art make me happy. It’s why I show up to business meetings with fabulously-colored notebooks instead of the traditional yellow notepads. It’s also why my notebooks often become a topic of conversation.

Through the years I’ve come up with a few hacks to turn my “little of everything” notebook into an organized, efficient tool.

Office supplies needed to hack your notebook or journal:

  • paper clips
  • rubber band
  • binder clip
  • Post-it notes
  • Post-it flags

In the front of the notebook I store a paper clip and a binder clip.

howtoorganizenotebookforschoolworkThese are used to section off a few pages or an entire section of notes. These can also be used to attach loose papers that are needed for a meeting, etc.

On the back cover I add a few post-it notes and flags. The flags are used to flag sections as needed. I like having post-it notes because sometimes I want a temporary note or to share information with others, and I hate tearing pages out of my book.

howtoorganizenotebookintosectionsI purchased this notebook band from Target to keep my notebook closed, but a regular rubber band can do the same thing.

So, tell me. What is your necessary indulgence?

A Love-Love Relationship with Viva Chicken

viva chicken review charlotte nc restaurantA few years ago I was at work warming leftovers for lunch, when two colleagues walked in raving about their great lunch. They went on and on about a quinoa-stuffed avocado and some of the best chicken they had ever had.

I’m not an avocado lover, so I sort of listened to the rest of what they said, but not nearly as much as I should have. A few days later another colleague mentioned the same place, swearing by the chicken. This time I made a mental note to Google the spot, Viva Chicken.

One look at their menu and I quickly added them to my list of places to try.

It’s Peruvian inspired so everything is seasoned well, especially the chicken. There’s a nice mix of entrees, sandwiches and sides to fit almost any dietary preference. This explains why I have yet to go during lunch and there not be a line.

On my first visit so many people in front of me ordered the avocado I did, too.

Viva chicken quinoa stuffed avocado with pulled chickenThen I understood the hoopla. It was SO. GOOD! If you order it, add pulled chicken. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. And this is coming from someone that has a love-hate relationship with guacamole.

It’s now years later and Viva Chicken is still one of my absolute favorite places for lunch in Charlotte. In addition to the avocado, their chicken, plantains, cilantro-infused rice and French fries are all fantastic.

I also swear by their herbal lemonade!

Viva chicken herbal lemonade reviewA couple of things to note if you’re going to Viva Chicken during lunch.

  • There is always a line, but I love that I can order and pay online, then skip the long line for my food when I arrive. This is perfect for the days I don’t have time to wait in line, but I don’t want leftovers either. I use this option a lot!
  • There is very limited parking on the street, but you can usually find parking in the lot across the street. Another perk to the lot is you don’t have to worry about getting in the parking spot lines just right to avoid issues with the streetcar.

Enjoy your visit! Towanda