Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Treat Yourself

     Like most women, I like to try new things and I love lotions, potions and creams. It has been two years since I first told you all about Mindful Minerals products. You can read the details here. Over the past two years, some of the products have evolved into different packaging and new items have been added, but one thing has not changed...I am hooked. I am still using the products daily, I never let myself run out of anything and on the rare occasion that I am traveling and don't take the time to do a mud mask or use the scrub, it is the first thing I do when I get home. I have had no desire to try something new or think I can find something I like better. This never happens to me! 

     I want to make it clear that I still don't sell the products, I just buy them. Lots of them! I do love to visit when I am in Florida and this was my first visit to this location. They do most of their business online these days, but they still have a retail showroom and it was so much larger than the old location. There is a room that is full of products (yes, that is my pile of things on the table). 

You can read a little about the idea behind the products.

The night before we were there, there had 
been an event with wine, food and 
product experiences in the large modern room.

     We love to visit with Murad, the owner. He has lived in such interesting places and his life seems very exotic compared to our Midwestern lives. He and his wife Melissa are both very knowledgeable about the product and passionate about what they do. We didn't realize until this visit just how large this operation actually is. They supply many high-end spas, have a large factory onsite and we were able to see cases and cases of product ready for shipping. What I love is that they treat each customer as if they are special and help walk them through the right combination of products. 

The current location, the factory is 
the white building in the background. 

     If you want to try some really healthy, high end but affordable products that last a long time, I really do recommend Mindful MineralsI have yet to find one product that I don't love. You can check out their website, here. They have great sales on the website and Facebook if you just watch for them. 

*I was not compensated in any way for this post. Mindful Minerals did not request that I write it. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Christmas Eve Trailer Decor-2013

     You may remember my post after last Christmas about our Christmas Eve Adventure! On Christmas Eve, just before sunset, we got in a golf cart at Disney's Fort Wilderness and drove around the campground looking at the wild and crazy decorations that people put up. We had such a great time last year that we were all looking forward to doing it again this year, only we were more prepared. We put on Santa hats, Mickey ears and carried bags of candy canes to hand out to the kids at the campground. We had so much fun! 

     We didn't realize that they actually have a parade of golf carts. It was starting just as we arrived, so we pulled our cart to the side of the road and watched. These people go all out with the decorations! Donald Duck was the Grand Marshall and we aren't sure who actually won the prize, but we had our favorite! 

     Once the parade was over, we started driving through all the campground areas. The pictures just don't show how many decorations there are. Every blow up Christmas decoration there is, lights, streetlamps, wreaths, name it, they have it! Lots of it!

     What is the most fun about this is that everyone is having such a good time. People are cooking out, it smells heavenly. There are children and puppies, parents and grandparents and everyone is saying Merry Christmas and waving. One lady was handing out bells to those "who believe" and several people were giving candy canes. I think this will continue to be a strange and unusual Christmas Eve tradition for us!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Christmas Day-Florida Style

     This was our 7th Christmas in Orlando. I can't believe my daughter has been out of college 7 years and I also can't believe I still live in Illinois! There are things that I really miss about being "home" for Christmas. I miss the rest of my family, the noise, the chaos and seeing everyone else unwrap presents. What I do enjoy, is the weather and the fact that we have our Christmas dinner and take a walk with so many beautiful things to see. Once again, we did the Cape May Seafood Buffet at the Walt Disney World Beach Club Resort. We talk every year about trying something different and we all love the holiday traditional foods along with all that seafood so much, we keep going back. I just took a picture of my dessert plate (that is all you really care about isn't it). I didn't eat every bite, but I certainly tasted them all. 

     I love the beach theme at this resort. They always have the chocolate carousel and this year they added a few other chocolate beach sculptures. Do you see the sand castle on the horse's back?

     After dinner, the sun was just starting to set. The Beach Club is truly located in a beautiful spot. There is a small beach next to the lake, you can see several other resorts and walk all the way around the lake boardwalk. 

We stopped to see the tree inside the Dolphin Resort. 
The train was running around the base 
and it was like a magnet to small children.

     This is one of my favorite photos. I took it standing inside the Dolphin Resort, looking out at their massive fountain. The water changes color constantly and I love how it looks with the chandelier. 

     The walkway of palm trees leads from the Dolphin Resort to the Swan Resort. You can see the above mentioned Dolphin fountain in these pictures. The palms "dance" with color as Christmas carols play. 

     By the time our walk was over, it was dark and there was a lovely glow as the buildings are reflected in the lake. It was a perfect day in paradise. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Don't Leave Home Without It

     You may remember before Christmas that I mentioned I had been asked to review the Powerocks Magicstick. I wanted to receive mine and actually use it before doing my review. Mine arrived just before we left for Florida, perfect timing. It was purple, which for some reason made me very happy! It only took me a few minutes to figure out what I needed to plug in and where. So, I charged my Magicstick and tucked it in my purse. One thing that you do need to carry with you to use it, is the power cord for your phone. The picture below shows the phone charging. Prior to doing that step, you plug in the Magicstick (with the included cord) to the wall to charge it.

     We actually found ourselves stuck in a car dealership for 7 hours (don't get me started). During those hours, I was on my phone quite a bit. I was watching the battery drain when I remembered my Magicstick was in my purse. I pulled it out and plugged in my phone. It wasn't long before my phone was charged again and ready to use. I also attracted some attention with my "gadget" because no one had seen one. I love it. It isn't heavy to have in your purse, it comes in a little bag to carry it and most importantly, it works! I have also used it while shopping all day and it is very simple to use and removes that worry of a phone with no charge at the end of the day. 

     The details: A single USB port and corresponding cable with micro to USB connections let you charge a variety of devices seamlessly. This cable can also be used to charge the Magicstick from any high current USB port. A single button illuminates when pressed and shows the power capacity via a colored LED light, so you know at a glance how much charge is left. The Magicstick also features a smooth, brushed aluminum finish available in a variety of colors. An included drawstring carry case keeps it protected and always handy for use. Just grab, go, and get charged up with the Magicstick. Charges standard smartphone and other digital devices such as Bluetooth headsets, cameras, GPS, e-readers, and more. The battery capacity provides up to 2 full charges before needing recharging. The MSRP is $49.99, but I have seen it for less in stores and on Amazon. It weighs 2.6 and is 3.622 inches in length.       

     My review is absolutely positive. I not only love mine, I will be buying these for gifts. Don't you just love it when they ask you to try something and you really like it?               

Friday, January 10, 2014

Welcome to My World

This was filmed on the highway that I can see from my house.
It was filmed 3 days after the storm, so imagine what those first 3 days were like. 

     To say that life has been interesting in my "neck of the woods" lately, is an understatement. We were right in the middle of the Blizzard of 2014. For us, it started last Saturday night. The weather reports were constant and scary. We actually brought our son from his apartment to our house to stay, just so he wouldn't end up trapped alone if all the "bad stuff" actually happened, and it did. Once the snow started, it simply would not stop. In our small town, we had 12.2 inches on top of a few inches already on the ground. That is the most snow I have seen fall since the 70's, but it certainly wasn't the worst of the problems. By Sunday, we had high winds along with the snow and the conditions were a complete white out. We can actually see the junction of two interstates from our back yard and at first, traffic was just moving slowly and we could see cars and trucks spinning and sliding off the road.  Soon, we couldn't see the interstate at all. Reports were coming in of people stranded in their cars and semi-trucks were causing accidents all over the state...and the temperature started dropping.

     By Monday morning, our wind chill was -43. Everything in town was closed (except for the power company where my husband works and a few truck stops). There were people still stranded in their cars after 14 hours, they could not be reached by emergency crews and a "no tow truck" order was issued. The semi-trucks that could move on the interstate were trying to get off into our town, which is very much prepared for truckers. We have several truck stops, but every one of them was full. All of the parking lots in town were completely filled with semis, the interstate exits were backed up for miles with semi-trucks and they lined the streets all over town. I have never seen anything like this. Our son works at a factory and it was closed on Monday, but Tuesday morning (wind chill -33) we ventured out to take him to work. The roads in town were icy but it was possible to drive on them. I road along with my husband to see the trucks and it was seriously like being in the Twilight Zone. They were everywhere, hundreds and hundreds of semi-trucks in every space in town and lining all the city streets. The interstate was still solid ice and what little traffic there was, moved slowly if they were moving at all. 

     We didn't get mail until Wednesday. School has been closed all week. The grocery stores did not get any fresh food until Wednesday and the shelves were emptied by Saturday night. Everything is still snow covered with drifts several feet tall. The roads are still icy and slick but travel is finally getting better. I caught a bad bug on New Year's Eve and was in bed for several days before this happened, so when I finally left my house last night to go to the grocery store...I had been in here 9 days, other than my brief car ride on Tuesday morning. Cabin Fever!!

     Amazingly enough, there were no fatal accidents that I have heard of. There were a few power outages, but they were handled fairly quickly and the police, fire, utility and city workers did an amazing job of keeping people safe, warm and fed. Central Illinois is certainly prepared for winter weather, but when you get the heavy snow, high winds and sub-zero temperatures all at once, there is simply no way to keep up with the problems. It has been a very interesting and sometimes frightening week and as things are beginning to melt today...we are all breathing a sigh of relief. 

     Did the storm get to your house? How is your cabin fever?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Day Brunch Bread Pudding

     My daughter gave me a new cookbook for Christmas and I couldn't wait to try out some of the recipes. I decided the Breakfast Bread Pudding with Peaches and Blueberries would be perfect for brunch on New Year's Day. After all, this is the day where we eat anything and everything because we know we have to "be good" again starting tomorrow...right?

     The ingredients were simple and easy to put together. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, spray a 9x13 pan with PAM and you are ready to put this breakfast dish together.

     Cut an 8 ounce loaf of stale Italian Bread into cubes (about 8 cups), or if you cook like I do...tear it into pieces. Put the cubes into the greased pan. Add a 1 pound bag of frozen peaches and 2 cups of fresh blueberries to the bread in the pan and sprinkle with cinnamon. The recipe calls for 1/4 tsp., but we like cinnamon...I just sprinkled away! Toss the bread, fruit and cinnamon together in the greased pan.

 In a separate bowl, beat 6 eggs

Slowly whisk in 2 cups of whole milk, 1 cup half and half and 3/4 cup of sugar
Stir in 1 tsp. of vanilla and a pinch of salt.

     At this point, it looks and smells like it could be frozen custard. Tempting to get out the little ice cream freezer, but I did promise my husband breakfast!

     Pour the egg mixture over the bread and fruit and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. You can also get to this step and put it covered in the refrigerator overnight. Press down on the bread pieces to make sure they all get soaked into the milk/egg mixture. After waiting 30 minutes, put into the 350 degree oven for 1 hour. 

When it is done, it looks like this!

     This is the cookbook. The recipe says it makes 8 servings at 344 calories each. True confession: We each ate almost 2 servings. I will worry about that tomorrow!

     I may have mentioned Broadbent's in Kentucky in a previous blog post. We get all of our bacon there and have for so many years I can't remember when we didn't. It is simply the best. My husband also loves the ham steaks and these little biscuit ham slices. I find them too salty (but I had one anyway) for my taste, but the bacon is perfection. We get ours on trips to Florida, but they do have a mail order catalog. 

I usually drink my coffee black, but I had a little 
of that half and half left over...and it is a holiday!

     We were supposed to wait until the casserole cooled a little so it would be in pretty squares on our plates. It smelled so good, we just couldn't wait. This recipe is a keeper. We both loved it! 

Wishing you all the Happiest of New Years!