Fantasy Wardrobe Friday: Fall Classy Plaid

 

FWF Classy Plaid Fall Coat

I decided I wanted to start a new regular segment on my blog by utilizing Polyvore. I call this “Fantasy Wardrobe Friday.” Basically, it’s a collage of pieces I wish I had in my closet, hence the words fantasy wardrobe. What woman doesn’t dream of more clothes in her closet?

Polyvore is a stylists dream. A fashion lover can go to the site, create an account, and choose from millions of items from thousands of designers to create a style board. If you see a clothing online that you want to see in a collage, you can also use the “Clip to Polyvore” button for your browser. It’s just a fun thing to play with. I admit, this is a bit of a sorry looking collage. Honestly, I haven’t worked much with Polyvore, so this is new to me! This will not be the regular format. I’m still in the experimentation stage. The products are linked using the ShopSense publisher website. The site creates affiliate links and widgets that bloggers can use for their websites. I am playing around with using that as well.

Anyway, about the clothes…I was going to a Fall outdoors look that was classy and edgy at the same time. The coat is a classic, larger scale, black and cream plaid. I thought the red lambswool scarf was a nice pop of color since I stayed with mainly black or gray in the accessories and pants. The black booties aren’t likely the most practical for chilly weather, but since this is a fantasy wardrobe, it doesn’t matter, right?

 

Admittedly, this is another short post because I have been trying to get a recipe post together. Those take more time for me to plan and compose. Yesterday I got groceries and planned out the execution of the dish. Since I can’t physically take the photos or cook the food, I direct everything step by step. I got that done last night as well! All the photos need to be edited and the content written now!

Reese’s In A Jar?!

Reese's Peanut Butter and Chocolate Spread

The things food companies come up with! Reese’s wanted to go beyond their classic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups once again, and have tried to make the candy into a spread.

I haven’t tried this. I probably won’t. From what I have read, the texture of this spread is gritty like their signature peanut butter inside the cups. Reese’s used to be my favorite candy bar. Since I was a little kid, I loved the combo of the chocolate and peanut butter, I didn’t mind the grittiness and slightly salty flavor. That’s what made them special. They were so yummy…

Years later though, they aren’t the same. Many foods taste different than they used to. I blame it on using more additives and cheaper ingredients. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are pretty much dead to me now. The peanut butter is grittier, the salt overwhelms the sweet, and the chocolate…uh, you call that chocolate?

Reese’s Pieces and Reese’s Sticks are better than the cups. Even the cereal is better.

Maybe if they made this spread with smooth peanut butter, I would try it. Until then, I will stick to Nutella.

 

Image Credit: Popsugar

Inspiration: Winston Churchill Said…

If you are going through hell, keep going. -Winston Churchill

“When you are going through hell, keep going.” -Winston Churchill

This is a quote I saw the other day, and I felt it gives some good advice. No matter what hell a person may be going through at a point in his or her life, just keep going. That is the only way to reach the light on the other side. We have all been there.

I thought I’d make this a short post today. I am not saying blogging daily for NaBloPoMo is going through hell, in fact it’s far from it! But some days, short posts are appropriate.

Share and enjoy!

10 Questions: Game of Thrones Meme

Game of Thrones Meme

I am obsessed with Game of Thrones. I love it. It’s the best thing since sliced bread and then some. I’m not just talking about the show either, the books are just as addicting to me if not more.

The fantasy genre has never really been something I was crazy about. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great fantasy movies and books out there, but I have never felt strongly compelled to give them attention. I tried watching Lord of the Rings and it really bored me. I have seen a few of the Harry Potter movies, but didn’t get into them much either. I didn’t even try with that book series.

Usually when there is a book or movie that is given a massive load of hype, I run the other way. I ran screaming from Twilight like no other (not literally)!

Game of Thrones has me though. Perhaps it’s because it’s very medieval, and I enjoy historical settings and costume. GoT isn’t history, it’s in a fictional land with a certain amount of magic and fantasy woven into a good mix of drama, action, wit, and intrigue. George R. R. Martin just had a great formula when he began the book series. It keeps the reader wanting more.

I started watching the show in order to see and understand why it was all the rage. I hadn’t read the books, and I had just watched the Tudor series on Netflix and was looking for a new show to watch. When I saw the first episode, I had been a bit leery. There was a beheading in the first half (ewww…), and I think I remember the whitewalkers (aka zombies) being in the first episode too. If you know me, you understand my hatred of zombies! Regardless, I decided to continue on.

Once I got caught up with the show, I asked myself if I wanted to delve into the books. I waited until the last season was done airing, and this August decided to crack open A Song of Ice and Fire. Now it is November and I am one fourth into A Dance With Dragons which is the fifth book. I think I might be a little lost when I am done reading it! I will have to wait until the next installment comes out before I can continue.

I thought today I would answer some GoT questions as a blog prompt or meme. If you are a follower of the show or book series, feel free to answer these questions yourself as a blog post, and put a link to your answers in the comments below!

Game of Thrones Questions

Who is your favorite GoT character?

Tyrion. His wit makes the show! Sometimes you want him to shut up so he might save his own ass from getting into yet another predicament, but he figures everyone is out to get him anyway, so why not be a smartass?

Which GoT character would you choose to be and why?

Daenerys Targaryen. I am sure that is a common choice! Although her life hasn’t been without struggle, she’s coming out on top as she gets older. She is smart, gol oriented, kind, but not one to be messed with. She is also a pretty fair ruler. This bites her in the ass sometimes, but she learns from her mistakes and proceeds with caution.

Who is your least favotite GoT character?

It’s really a tie between Joffrey, Cersei, and Tywin. The more I read of Cersei in the books however, she is the worst. I have a feeling she will get her punishment in the end.

If you had to travel across Westeros with a companion or two, who would it be? Keep in mind, there may be danger along the Kingsroad!

Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly. Weird choice, I know. I think when on a trip across Westeros, it would be good to have a strong swordsman, and someone who is really intelligent to help keep the group on track and know other useful information. Plus, between the two I am sure they have plenty of stories to pass the time!

What weapon would you choose to wield in GoT?

Either a sword like Needle if it had to be an actual piece of weaponry, or knowledge and cunning. Physical weapons are important, but if you are a fool in GoT, you won’t last long for sure.

If you were going to live in Westeros, where would you choose to make a home?

Dorne. It’s warm there, they have stayed out of a lot of political stuff, and women can rule. Also, if you were born a bastard, they don’t ostracize you as the other parts of Westeros do. The make it such a huge deal in the rest of Westeros!

If you were to live in the Eastern lands, where would you choose to make a home?

Braavos. I wouldn’t choose to live there for the climate, but it seems like such a diverse place. There appears to be something for everyone in Braavos in the books.

Where would you definitely not want to live? Name two.

I would never live in the North. I already live in the North…Minnesota should change its motto to “Winter is coming.” It’s too cold and knowing there are zombified creatures north of the Wall creeps me out. I also would never live on the Iron Islands. It sounds like such a rough place to be.

Who would you pick out of anyone from the show or the books to rule the seven kingdoms if you had the choice?

As of now, I am torn between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. They seem like the most level headed rulers to me, but as I continue to read the books my opinion may change!

If you were the ruler of the realm, what would your top three priorities be?

  1. Making sure the Wall was well armed and equipped.
  2. Assigning a team to plan and execute a strategy to rehabilitate the war torn areas and get food production going.
  3. Destroy Harrenhaul. That place really needs to be put to the torch. Maybe I’d do the same to the Dreadfort.

Have fun answering these questions, and don’t forget to post a link in the comments so I can read your answers!

Audacity Magazine: My Second Writing Home

Audacity Magazine: My Second Writing Home

We all have a cause or project we believe in and want to see succeed. Besides this blog, one site I am involved in is Audacity Magazine. Back in 2007-08 I entered a contest and was chosen to become a columnist for this online lifestyle publication. I felt it was an important site for me to write for. I had a blog on Myspace back then where I liked to share my thoughts and opinions; it felt like an appropriate time to branch out and expand my audience. I stopped writing for a number of years for reasons you can read about here on the Audacity site. I don’t want to fill the internet with the same story!

Anyway, I had been told many a time if I wanted to return to Audacity and to my column, I was more than welcome. I was a little hesitant at first. You know…I have this “What if…?” syndrome that makes me anxious about things I choose to do. What if I can’t find enough to write about? What if I suck? What if…blah blah blah. Well, I can’t really live life asking that question all the time.

I decided the time was right. If I didn’t try, I’d never know if I could build my writing skills up again and make my voice heard. Let’s face it, I am a bit of a hermit! The time was also right for NaBloPoMo.

So, I am back at Audacity and warming up my typing hand in more ways than one (yes, I said hand–I type one handed while holding a stylus), and am gearing up for the fantastic year of 2015!

Why is the new year going to be so special? For one, Nathasha Alvarez, Audacity’s editor, has some awesome plans up her sleeve for the website’s growth.

She is wanting to hire some freelance contributors and began a fundraiser to raise $20,000 to compensate freelance writers with disabilities for their articles. If the goal is met, this amount can pay writers for 500 articles at $40 per piece.

Why is this so important?

It creates opportunities. Many people with disabilities cannot work full time jobs. Some really can’t work at all even though they’d like to. Their sole income is SSI or Supplemental Security Income from the government. Unfortunately, the amount of the monthly maximum SSI benefits is only around $721.00 in most states. There isn’t much left after bills are paid to go towards emergencies and other expenses. Living independently off of just that isn’t easy! And independence is important to us.

You can imagine then how far an extra $40 might go for someone. It might help pay for a necessary prescription, food, some gas to get somewhere, or to pay for computer repair.

It’s important for sites like Audacity to exist to serve as a creative outlet and sounding board for the disability community as well. Everyone has something they would like to communicate–awareness, commentary, opinions, and reviews.

I wanted to get the word out so other writers might drop by and have the urge to pen articles in 2015! Let’s fill the place up with great articles! You can find out more on the website.

Now, I don’t want to make this post sound like I’m giving an annoying solicitor’s spiel. I don’t want to pressure anyone to do anything, I simply want to inform and give people the option of donating if it’s something that interests them (I’d make a terrible salesperson).

Audacity is under the non-profit organization name of World Wide Ability Inc. So, direct donations are tax deductible. Sometimes, there are generous individuals who arrange sales of products where the commission is donated. Events like this will be updated on the donation page, but here I will list the main ways Audacity is raising funds.

Ways to Donate

Direct Donations: Point your browser to the Audacity Magazine donation page and click the donate button. Decide what you’d like to give. Even as little as $5 can go a long way!

Amazon Smile: We all love Amazon! Now you can shop and donate! Go to smile.amazon.com and when you are asked for your charity of choice, enter World Wide Ability Inc. 0.5% of your purchase price will go to Audacity at not extra cost to you.

Sponsor an Article: If you have a business or product, and you’d like it highlighted on Audacity by one of the audacious writers, you might consider a sponsored article. Each article is $200. That donation would in turn be able to later pay freelance writers for 5 articles. For more info on this, contact Nathasha at the email nathasha @ audacity magazine . com

I hope that even one person will take the time to check Audacity out and share it with their social networks. My fingers are crossed that will happen and some donations will result. At the very least, it would be fabulous to have more writers with disabilities on board and have more names join the mailing list!

 

Image Credit: WELS.net via photopin cc

5 Things About Me Blog Prompt

5 things about me blog prompt

Today is lazy Sunday and I…am feeling kind of lazy! Even though I am extremely tired today, I know I must post. There is no option in this NaBloPoMo project for me! While I have a few post topics stashed away in the topic pook I am creating, I thought now might be a good time to use a prompt to introduce myself a bit.

Yes, you could always read my About section for that, but writing prompts can be fun. I’d love to see other bloggers do this one and read their answers too!

The prompt I found today is from Mama Kat of Mama’s Losin’ It. I found her site today while I was perusing Twitter. She has some great ideas of things to write about and it looks like she publishes a post with prompts monthly.

The prompt that caught my eye was:

“Five Things. List 5 things we don’t know about you, 5 things you’re knowledgeable about, 5 things you know nothing about, and 5 things you believe.”

So, here goes nothing!

5 Things You Don’t Know About Me

  1. I was a self-taught Photoshop user as a teen (this was way before YouTube and I hated reading software manuals, so I just played around and figured things out). It was a similar thing with website design. I did have to read to learn that though. Then I bought FrontPage software and learned to use it. Since then, web design has come light years and I didn’t learn as time went on so the best I can do are some rough tweaks. At least I have somewhat of an idea of what I need to look for if I need to edit code. Yes, I was a geek and proud! I still am!
  2. I have an eight year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi named India. She is like my child. She barks at people when I need something. She doesn’t like most men or young kids, but she loves little babies.
  3. I love traveling. I find it invigorating to see new places, and I feel more energetic. Road trips are my method of choice only because I have a lot of medical equipment and I haven’t attempted to fly with it since I have had it.
  4. I am a total food snob. I can’t eat much in one sitting, but I have a deep appreciation of good food. I often feel really frustrated when I go to a restaurant and it seems the food wasn’t cooked with care. Food should be satisfying and flavorful, not bland and lackluster (it should also be organic, but that isn’t likely to happen).
  5. I hate carnations. I have harbored a hatred of them for years. They should be banned from public places. I know they’re a filler flower, but they stink and whenever I smell them I am reminded of funerals and hospitals. They’re not cute either.

5 Things I’m Knowledgeable About

  1. Disabilities. Not only because I have one and understand what it is like, but also because I have known a lot of individuals with various kinds. It’s good to have general knowledge of the different types because abilities from person to person vary so widely.
  2. The Internet. I can find just about anything, even if it’s pretty obscure. Thank goodness the internet exists because how else would I have learned most of the things I have learned?
  3. The virtual world of Second Life. If you don’t know what SL is, it’s similar to a game, but without a point system. It has a monetary currency so you can open your own business or be employed and really earn a little something. There are places where you can socialize, stores where you can shop for clothing or furniture to customize your avatar or virtual home. You can also do things there maybe you are unable to do in your own life. I have “played” there since 2008 and to be honest, it taught me a lot that stretched beyond learning how to simply navigate in there. At first I thought it was only clubbing and shopping. But then I realized charities also could benefit from inworld events. Designers often create exclusive items for events to benefit Relay for Life, Wigs for Kids, etc. I think I might need to do a separate post on it to fully describe my experience!
  4. Photoshop and image editing. I have been using it since I was about 16. Back then I really had no idea how powerful a tool it was. I think that version was 3.0. I liked to make random art with it. In college I gained a better understanding of its features. I am still learning new things about it as time goes on. It’s one of those programs where there is no end to the learning process and I like that.
  5. Creating WordPress sites. I won’t claim to be an expert, but I have installed and worked on quite a few of these. Each WordPress site seems to have its own life, and working on each one was a learning experience. There are always new things to learn about this subject as well.

5 Things I know Nothing About

  1. The Stock Market. I have always been curious about how investors successfully invest and get good returns. I know it’s sort of based on trends and forecasting, but I am not sure how it all works and can be understood.
  2. Organic Crop Farming. I can’t say I know absolutely nothing here, my dad is a farmer and I read articles about organic food and GMO crops and related subjects. I guess crop growing is something I am curious about, particularly organics. I wonder things like: How does a farmer know when to plant? Or how much? How is the soil tested? How can a farmer figure out how much yield he needs to earn his profits? I guess what I am saying is I don’t know exactly the detailed step by step process. It goes way beyond plant, water, grow, harvest, sell, and then profit (or not profit in some cases). I always felt like my dad just knew inherently what needed to be done…like a sixth sense.
  3. How hot dogs are really made. Though, I have a pretty good idea. I imagine it’s similar to how chicken McNuggets are made.
  4. What it’s like to be on TV.
  5. Making iOS apps.

5 Things I Believe

  1. I think if you really listen to your body, it will tell you what foods and beverages makes you feel better. It might be hard to notice, some may say it’s psychological, but I think it’s true. When I eat certain things like wild caught salmon or other healthy things, I feel slightly better. The sense is minute, but the same thing happens when I don’t drink caffeinated sodas and stick to natural sodas.
  2. I believe everyone is here for a reason. We may not understand what our reason is for being here or being who we are, but every person has a purpose.
  3. There are those who want to teach, and those who are born teachers. Those who want to teach are those who earn a degree. Those who are born may not teach professionally, but they simply educate by being who they are.
  4. I believe our government is made up of way too many leaders blinded by greed and they have lost their humanity. This doesn’t make for an effective governing body.
  5. Not to bring religion to the table, but I believe most religions are based on the same overall concepts and only communicate the concepts in different ways.

I hope you enjoyed reading my 5 Things! This became way longer than I anticipated, and it was more challenging than I though it would be too. It was a great writing prompt!

If you decide to do the prompt, please comment below or tweet me @Rangeelichick!

NaBloPoMo: My Personal Goals

National Blog Posting Month

My blog has been here for quite awhile, getting dusty and waiting for all of my intentions to be constructed into posts. I think it’s time to write some shit!

For a few years, I have heard the buzz going on about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). You know, that yearly conquest aspiring novelists want to accomplish throughout the month of November where the end goal is to have 50,000 words written by the time the writing bell tolls on November 30. That number of words is enough to be a bit fear instilling. Luckily, a person can’t be penalized if they don’t make the goal but it’s a pretty arduous goal I would say. I thought it sounded fun, but writing fiction isn’t my first choice of genre.

While the thought of penning a book is so tempting, I am not so sure I am ready for that. It involves more planning than I feel like I want to put in at the moment. I need a project that can be broken down into smaller bits.

Since I am trying to strengthen my writing skills to go back to my former writing post at Audacity, an online Lifestyle magazine for individuals with disabilities, I had considered just participating in NaNoWriMo anyway. Regardless of the fact I would be writing fiction, it is still using my brain to be creative with my words. The sense of community also appeals to me.

Nathasha, Audacity’s editor, suggested I participate in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) instead. Similar to NaNoWriMo, a pretty intense writing goal is set. The objective is to publish one blog post per day throughout the month of November. Anyone can do it, and the BlogHer website has a place where bloggers can sign up to the blogroll. There are also writing prompts if a blogger is stuck. The deadline for sign up is November 5th.

Think I can do that?

You won’t hear me saying that I can’t or won’t, but fear makes me hesitant to commit to things like this at times. I am a “What if…” person. I also have a strong procrastinator gene. I do work best under pressure usually, so maybe having to do a post a day will be enough to push me.

What ifs have held me back from blogging and from some personal growth at times. I have put too much stress on writing in proper English which kept me from writing like myself. I have compared my skills to others who I thought had better skills, which is not a wise thing for anyone. I have worried about the opinions of others and the nasty shit people say for no reason.

Enough worrying, right?

I have also spent so much time reading about blogging, social marketing, monetizing, etc., but yet I haven’t been making myself really put what I learn to practice.

It isn’t like I need to write a thousand word post every day. This is my space after all. If other people like it, it’s a bonus.

So, today the challenge commences. Let me begin by setting a few rules for myself.

  • Always write like myself. In blogging it isn’t necessary to write as if I’m working on a Master’s thesis.
  • Don’t compare anything I do with anyone who I think has more skill. This includes comparing blog aesthetics, content, writing skill, or post topics.
  • It doesn’t matter if I can’t think of a post topic. If I have no idea, I can post pictures or quotes I find amusing. I don’t always need to write a lot.
  • Always tweet, pin, and share every post no matter how shy I might be to publicize it.
  • Try to start writing longer post ideas on the previous day.
  • If I somehow don’t meet the challenge, I won’t feel like I failed. Everyone learns something from an unmet goal and it is possible to try again!
  • Don’t worry about opinions of others. Nasty comments aren’t constructive and often come from people who have nothing better to do.

If I keep reminding myself of these things, maybe I can get through the next 30 days and have a very successful first NaBloPoMo!

Are there any words of advice you follow or habits you have when you participate in NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo? Leave a comment!

Random Thoughts on Beetlejuice

Random Thoughts on Beetlejuice

As a kid, the movie Beetlejuice completely freaked me out. I was six years old and it was the summer between first and second grade. My aunt and uncle were visiting us from the East Coast, and we had settled in my grandpa’s living room to watch it on the rented VHS tape (remember those?). They had a friend who was an extra in the film, so we were on the lookout for him (one of the dudes moving some abstract wood construction piece in the scene where the deck on the house was being built).

I particularly recall the part where Beetlejuice’s head is turned away from the camera, and these odd looking tentacles shoot out from the sides of his face as being the worst part. I laugh now to think it scared the crap out of me so much. I couldn’t really see anything!

The second creepy thing that made me shut my eyes is later in the movie. Adam and Barbara are coming back from a session with Juno, their caseworker from the Netherworld (or whatever you’d call that place through the attic wall), and they stretch the hell out of their faces to scare the living.

Um, yea…they succeeded in my case.

And let’s not forget when Beetlejuice becomes the snake, or when Adam and Barbara are floating during the bio-exorcism scene and decaying in their wedding clothes.

Gross.

But really, Beetlejuice eventually became my favorite movie. I have watched it hundreds of times! Tim Burton probably wasn’t aware of the cult classic he was going to create at the time he made that movie. Rumor has it there will finally be a sequel, however, a sequel is a touchy thing. It rarely will be as popular as its predecessor. Plus, Lydia Deetz is 26 years older than she was. I’m not so sure how the same essence of Beetlejuice can be replicated over two decades later.

I really want to be an extra in the sequel. I’m not an actor, nor trying to be—the movie is such a favorite of mine it’s just something I want to be a part of if there’s another film.

Anyway, in all the times I have seen Beetlejuice over the years, I have observed different things and have harbored little questions and opinions regarding little tidbits of the movie. If you are a Beetlejuice fan, you’ll know what I’m talking about!

  • The Maitland’s friend Jane: Why in the bloody hell is Jane stopping over at 6:45 am? Does she have no sense of time? If she were stopping by my house that early, she would probably be wishing she hadn’t! Plus, she isn’t only rude in her timing, but she is an interfering busybody. She is practically trying to sell Adam and Barbara’s home out from under them when they’re still alive. It’s none of her business where they choose to live. Hm, maybe she trained the dog to run in front of their car…
  • Manchurian Tung Oil: For years I never understood what Adam said, or what this was. I always guessed it was something for the model Barbara had asked their friend Helen to get in Oslo. Apparently tung oil is a furniture oil from the pressed tung seed from the tung tree. It’s origin is from China and it has been used for centuries. It dries on wood with a shiny, plastic like finish. Such a fun fact, eh?
  • The Dog: Is there no leash law in Winter River? Who is the owner of this dog?
  • The Crash: Does anyone else think Adam and Barbara probably should have survived that? If they were still within city limits and following the recommended speed limit, I don’t think they would have driven off the bridge. Shame on you Mr. Maitland!
  • “Diseased” and “Deceased”: I’m glad Adam owned a hardware store and wasn’t a doctor.
  • Lydia Deetz: It bugs me Barbara was referring to her as a little girl. Babs either needed glasses, or was really bad at judging age. Also, if Lydia had been the teenager that she was at the present time, her parents likely would have put her in therapy.
  • Otho: What a poser! Delia seemed sharp enough to figure out he was a sham. Oh, wait…she herself was a flake. Birds of a feather…
  • Sandworms: This is truly my WTF of the entire movie. The rest of the pieces all fit together, but the sandworms come out of left field. So, the ghosts step off the porch and fall into a weird dimension with giant worms. The best guess I can make is they are symbolic of earthworms. Sandworms are more like sci-fi serpents though.
  • Maxie Dean & Wife: I always wondered if they survived being rocketed through the ceiling. If they didn’t, how would Charles and Delia Deetz explain that one?
  • Beetlejuice: If he wrote his auto biography, what would it say? We know only a bit about his past. He survived the plague.
  • The House: I really wanted to see this house, but it’s fake! It was just a shell built near the town where the outdoor shots were filmed. I was disappointed when I found that out! The town is East Corinth, VT and not actually Winter River, CT. I knew from the beginning it had been shot in VT though.
  • Script: I found the original script online. There are quite a few differences in dialogue and decription between the film and original script (more differences the more I read)…I have only read a few sections, but I thought what I read was interesting. It gives more info that isn’t in the film.

Beetlejuice is one of those movies I can watch over and over again without getting tired of it. Another one of my top films is The Nightmare Before Christmas. I enjoy more than Tim Burton movies though. I’m not a big Halloween fan either, but I think Beetlejuice was a good topic for a Halloween related post!

What are your favorite movies or Halloween movies?

 

Image Credit: Rottentomatoes.com

 

Azure Standard Organic and Natural Food Haul

Azure Standard Organic Food Haul June/July

I am an amateur foodie…or maybe I am more like a food snob. There truly is nothing like a great tasting dish that satisfies the palate and makes a person sigh in contentment, let out a belch, and loosen the belt a notch! Okay, some people aren’t too keen on the belching part, but regardless, I think you know what I am talking about!

Taste is a sense–a thrill of a different kind. It activates memories and takes us on other kinds of adventures. Food gives us energy and life; flavor gives the food character. So, since we rely heavily on food for life, it should be the good stuff!

This is where a service called Azure Standard comes in…and my food haul!

Azure Standard is a monthly delivery service that brings organic and natural foods to a drop point in your area once a month. You will need to contact them to check whether or not there is a drop point nearby, and get the drop point number before you place an order on their website. If there isn’t a drop point location close to you, you may be able to set one up if you are on one of their many routes! Once you have set up your account, start filling your online shopping cart with the goodies!

Let me say that if you don’t have close access to shops with non-GMO food, getting these items delivered is a lifesaver.

Food quality has become a growing concern to me over the last couple of years. I have always been pretty critical about flavor quality anyway, but flavor isn’t simply due to the basic element of the food organism itself. There are multiple factors that go into the organism that affect it. Factors like environment, pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, and processing all change the way our food tastes. A bigger concern is how these things can affect human (and animal) health.

I have a desire to eat healthier. While I am easing into it, I know I will likely never be perfect in converting solely to organic (unless of course the stores in my area get with the program and increase their organic offerings times a hundred or a Whole Foods opens up here). My goal would be to eat at least 90% organic. However, trust me when I say there is a lack of organic shopping resources in my rural community!

This food haul photo was from last month’s order, and unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of this month’s haul. I will get better at this the more I do it! This time, I will show you the stuff from last month and highlight a few of the amazing things I feel I just have to mention from this month!

 

Azure Standard Organic Food Haul June/July

Azure Standard Haul: June 2014

Organic Lemons – I use these for making lemon infused water and also for cooking.

Small Organic Avocados – It’s always nice to have a few avocados on hand, and these taste great!

BumbleBar JunoBar (Organic Peanut Butter Cookie) – Since I am not a huge fan of a big breakfast, I love yummy bars like these. This kind really did taste like a PB cookie.

Earth Circle Organics Coconut Oil (Organic, Cold Pressed) – Coconut oil is a staple everyone should have because of it’s long list of versatile benefits. I put it in my tea every morning, use it as a skin moisturizer, have used it as a hair treatment, as well as in cooking of course! Azure Standard offers a variety of jar sizes, as well as bulk amounts.

Knudsen Strawberry Spritzer – Ok, this spritzer was AMAZING! I had a habit of drinking one or two regular sodas a day. Awhile ago, I tried to wean myself from drinking so much soda, and began trying drinks like this one. I am now trying the Black Cherry flavor as well. These drinks do not disappoint!

Azure Farm Organic Buttermilk Pancake Mix – I don’t eat pancakes much, and I don’t like when they are made from mixes like Bisquick. I decided to see if this organic mix tasted any better, and it totally does! Personally, I would go as far to say this mix tastes homemade. I have made plain pancakes, as well as added berries. Maybe next time I will add chocolate chips.

Gardenbar Mexican Savory – A twist on granola, these savory Gardenbars are nearly a meal in themselves. I highly recommend them. I previously tried the Indian and Japanese varieties. The Mexican is tasty as well, but I think my favorite so far has been the Indian flavor.

Knudsen Organic Mango Nectar – Mango juice is one of my favorite fruit flavors, and this is organic.

Bueno Vegetarian Green Chili Zucchini Tamales – From the Buenatural line by Bueno, these tamales are pretty damn good! I do suggest eating with sour cream and salsa, guacamole, or an enchilada sauce as I feel like the tamales need a little extra something. Melting some pepperjack cheese on them also tasted good.

Azure Standard Haul: July 2014

Azure Husbandry Organic Rainier Cherries – I have never had better fruit in my life! I am not really a fruit lover, but these cherries are so juicy and sweet, they are like candy.

Organic Cantaloupe Melon – Again, not really a fruit person but I thought I’d try a cantaloupe. This is the best melon I have ever had.

Barbara’s Bakery Cheese Puffs (Original Flavor) – Throw the Cheetos away my friend! Barbara’s Bakery cranks out some rather addictive cheese puffs.

BumbleBar Organic Chocolate Peanut Butter –  I admit, it isn’t as good as the peanut butter cookie kind, but it is pretty satisfying. It has a bit of crunchiness, a slight flavor of honey, and a chewy consistency.

GreenShield Organic Laundry Detergent HE (Lavender) – I have used this detergent before. It seemed to last quite awhile and my clothes are clean–so, it does its job!

Knudsen Black Cherry Spritzer – As flavorful and delicious as the strawberry flavor, it is just too good!

I also want to say a special thanks to my friend Robin over at The Sweetest Pear (and my college BFF), for telling my mom and I about Azure Standard!

Do you have any online organic shopping websites or services you love as much as I love Azure Standard? Comment below and let us all help one another find sources for healthier food!

 

Book Review: The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster

 The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster

Author: Jen Lancaster
Pages: 344
Score: 5/5

The Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I’m Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog by Jen Lancaster was one hilarious, kick ass read! I don’t read a lot of non fiction books, but when I do, I like to choose the ones that will make me laugh my butt off.

I came away from the year long memoir being a little bit jealous of the amazing way Lancaster can deliver her wit. We all have a little bit of smart ass in us, but she has the supreme capability of translating it into written form without it coming off as angry or in a negative context (well, I didn’t think it came off as negative, but I have a bit of a potty mouth just like hers so I appreciate her use of expletives). It’s a real kind of humor that is sometimes self deprecating, but this comicality only adds to the relatability of Jen Lancaster’s personality.

Most people have someone they admire, Jen’s idol just happens to be Martha Stewart. In The Tao of Martha, Jen admits to having a lackluster year in 2011 and finds herself in a rather unhappy state of mind. Health issues, professional setbacks, deaths of beloved pets (I can relate), regular power outages which affected impending deadlines, and other “first-world bullshit” had really put a damper on her otherwise positive mindset. Not to mention her clutter; the mere thought of getting her home organized is an overwhelming stressor on its own. She confesses life has been worse, and there are people who are really suffering in this world. So, she basically tells herself she needs “to buck the hell up.”

When 2012 rolls around, the wheels in her head begin to turn as she contemplates how she can make the year into a positive one. Fletch, her husband, inadvertently triggers a spark of an idea in Jen’s mind. She determines that perhaps if she tries to live by the philosophies of her icon, she might just learn how to make her life a happier one as well as the lives of those around her (including her pets).

Throughout the book, Jen takes on various Martha-esque projects and confronts a few hard times as well. But as the days go by, she figures out the dictates of The Tao of Martha, or what she interprets them to be for herself.

Some of Jen’s projects are admirable, some a little excessive and wacky (we are talking about stockpiling rations and supplies in the basement like a Dooms Day prepper, but hey, I guess you never know).

The Tao of Martha scored a 5 out of 5 stars with me. I honestly feel like Jen is someone I know. The way in which she shares her journey to happiness in her comedic way makes it feel as if she is a friend you are having coffee and laughs with. I highly recommend reading her book.

*Sidenote: Yesterday I found out she has recently completed a fiction book called Twisted Sisters. It will be released on February 4th, 2014. I didn’t realize she wrote fiction too! If you want to keep tabs on the writings of Jen Lancaster, visit her website http://www.jennsylvania.com/. Her blog is equally as entertaining as her book!