Saturday, July 4, 2015

Amsterdam: 3 steps in the "correct" way to drink beer!

After a really fun (and fattening) flight to Europe, I was so excited to make it to Amsterdam! It was my first time to visit the famous destination. I was struck by the beauty of the Netherlands' capital city, and it felt amazing to view in person the historic buildings that I have only seen before in movies.

Amsterdam from the air

My sister, Alicia, and her daughter, Elizabeth, drove in from Germany to meet my husband, Nathan, and me. We spent the first day being complete tourists!

We did stroll through the "red light district," but we didn't make too big of a deal about it since Elizabeth is only seven years old. I did spy three young ladies with rollers in their hair, and assumed they were, *ahem*, ladies of the district.  ;)  

The first stop for us after a long, HOT walk through town, was the Van Gogh Museum. I enjoyed learning about the master painter's life and struggles, and it was wonderful to see so many of his pieces in one place.

One of Van Gogh's many self-portraits... ears still intact

Next stop was the Heineken Experience, and it was SO interactive! I don't have enough to describe it, but it was educational and entertaining. You walk through the historic brewery, and learn about the beer brewing process plus the history of the brand. 

I was so impressed by how much there was to do, and how fun they made it. There was even a room that was almost a "ride," but not really. You are supposedly beer that is going through the process of being brewed. It was like one of those 4D cinemas that move and spray water and air at you, kind of like the Soarin' ride at Disney's Epcot. That was my favorite part!

This lady talked us through each ingredient that makes Heineken unique-- she said it's all about the "A" strand of yeast, which is still only used today by the company

Then they teach you the "proper" way to drink beer in order to get the best taste. Here it is in 3 steps:

1. Swirl and smell your beer-- just like with wine, it helps you better appreciate it. Then go in for the drink...
2. Tip your glass (or stein) far back with a firm hand.
3. Take a big swig! If you take sips, you are drinking the bitter foam at the top.

Nathan's happy face after finishing his beer samples-- I don't even like beer, but I confess that I drank some just to say I did. The Experience is REALLY GOOD MARKETING!

Elizabeth and her traditional Dutch pancake, served with syrup and powdered sugar

After the Experience, we wandered around the city a little bit more before heading back to the hotel. Nathan had to head back in to work, so my sister, niece and I explored Amsterdam on our own the second day.

Westerkerk Church

 Lovely canals wind throughout the city

 Obsessed with the Anne Frank House, but the line was more than 3 hours long and we didn't have time for it-- my sister went before, and said it is worth the visit

So pretty!

We stepped into the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, but it was burning up hot inside, so we immediately left. This part of Europe is experiencing a "heat wave," although I'm from Louisiana and Florida so this is nothing to me. However, I am indeed saddened that most places don't have air conditioning! 

We loved the Amsterdam Cheese Museum, which helps you "relive the experience of cheese-making" and allows you to taste the "unique flavor of the best cheese in Holland." It was so much fun to read about making cheese!

Say "cheese," please! #CheeseSelfie

I was all excited to taste the raw milk flavors-- I ended up purchasing the Truffle style

My sister likes the iconic Delftware, so we peeked into one of those stores

After a wonderful two days, my sister, niece and I left and made our way five hours south to her home in Germany. I'm throwing in a couple of village photos, because these are ALL over the country! My sister says they're called "bergs"... she lives in Weselberg, one of these tiny villages (population: 1,340). The view is AMAZING. Country living!

Have you ever been to Europe? What parts did you visit? Comment below, and let me know! Thanks for reading, as always.  :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The high life - flying first class for the first time!

My social media friends are probably ready to punch me because I just posted this selfie... But please forgive my excitement, it's my first time to ever fly first class! #DeltaAirlinesFan

These are lie-flat seats, and they come with "heavenly comfort Westin bedding." You even get a cute little Tumi amenities bag with toiletries!

I'm going to wrap myself in plushness and sleep this 7-hour flight to Amsterdam-- if I can stop watching movies long enough! Delta Airlines has the BEST in-flight entertainment, and that's the truth.

Got some ginger to ward off any motion sickness... accompany some fancy eats! Filet mignon and buttermilk ice cream, anyone? So swank! THE DIET IS OFF, PEOPLE!

See y'all in Europe!  :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Best purse EVER for travel!

Purses are not typically a big splurge item for me. I've gone years between buying purses, especially since I tend to receive beautiful hand-me-down bags from my mom or other relatives. But when I saw an amazing purse from Lo & Sons, I freaked out -- and HAD to have it!

Everybody, meet my new baby, the O.M.G. bag! It stands for "Overnight & Medium Gym bag," not "oh my gosh what a beautiful bag," haha.  :)  I cannot say enough about how pleased I am with my purchase. If you want a bag that does it all, this is IT.

There are two main reasons why I purchased this bag:

1. It has a convenient zipper side that opens on the top and bottom, allowing it to slide over your luggage carryon's handle. Now that my husband is a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, I've been on 16 flights in three months. I'm actually typing this blog on my phone as I wait in a plane to NYC, with a final destination of Amsterdam! 

So I really hate it when I'm running through an airport, and my purse is falling off the top of my rolling luggage. This eliminates that problem. This purse is SO coming with me to Europe! Look at my bag, all cute and travel-friendly in the Palm Beach International Airport this morning. It's secured on the handle, so it won't fall off!!

2.  It has a padded laptop compartment! So convenient for travel. It fits up to a 13-inch computer.

Some bonus features-- it has a detachable strap that makes it great for wearing it as a messenger bag, and a side-pocket internal key strap that secures your keys. I also like that the nylon material is water-resistant, and I feel super-organized with a spot for everything inside this bag!

FYI-- the company is having a 20% off sale! Get one now while it's hot!!!

Have you ever purchased a purse that you loved this much? What made it so unique? Comment below!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tips for stand-by flying

In the past three months that my husband has been a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, I have taken 16 flights. I've learned that standby flying can be a blessing (it's free!) and a curse (you may not make it where you want to go).

Here's what I wish I had known when I first began flying standby:

1. Do not attempt to fly overseas on a summer weekend. This is when everyone is trying to fly! The likelihood that you will make it on your flight is dramatically reduced. I'm supposed to be flying back from Germany right now. Instead, I'm flying back from Louisiana. Which brings me to... 

2. Remain flexible and have a back-up plan. I was so overly confident I would make it to Germany, that I had no idea what to do next when the flight I wanted was completely full. Thankfully I had bumped into my college best friend when we were both at the Atlanta airport, and that inspired me to follow him to my Louisiana hometown.

3. Only pack a carry-on. Never ever ever ever check a bag when you fly stand-by! Who cares that it's free to check a bag when your bag is stuck where you had a layover and you landed in your final destination?! So inconvenient. Pack light, bring only your essentials and carry it on.

At least this Delta flight serves Starbucks! And it has wifi! And I'm in Economy Comfort Plus! No complaints here. :)

Have you ever been stuck somewhere because your flight didn't make it? Comment below!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

4 steps to kill fruit flies without chemicals

Don't judge me 'cuz I got a fly problem

I live in South Florida, which is a beautiful thing. However, it is not just all sunny skies and blue oceans-- there are also weird lizards lurking everywhere, which is fine... but what is NOT fine are the fruit flies that infest my kitchen.

I thought it was just me, and maybe I am a secretly filthy individual with garbage problems. But that just can't be true-- I clean a lot and keep things tidy. I promise that I dispose of my garbage and recycle in a timely fashion! Still, I had concerns, until my neighbor admitted that they are a problem for her, too. Maybe it is the warm climate? No matter what the cause, I want those fruit flies gone!

So I Googled how to kill flies without chemicals (because I am all about living as ToxicFree as possible-- I'm a rep for the Healthy Home Company! Chemical-free choices, y'all!) and I found a super easy way to get rid of them.
This fruit fly does not realize it's committing suicide-- DIE, FLY, DIE!

Here are the steps:

1. Pour apple cider vinegar (I used the kind from Braggs, which has the raw "mother" in it) into a mason jar. If you follow my blog, you know I love making salads in these jars! If you don't have vinegar, try red wine.
2. Create a funnel with paper and tape.
3. Put the funnel into the jar...
4. Add a drop of dish soap-- that breaks the surface tension so they can't just fly away, they drown (insert evil laugh).
5. Bonus points if you add ripe fruit!

These flies love fermentation, so they're attracted to the vinegar. 

eeeewwww dead flies

This may take a few hours, so have patience. I kept checking the jar the first couple of hours or so, and NOTHING WAS HAPPENING... so I was like, "Ugh, this must not work. Guess I'll have to keep swatting these dad-gum flies."

Then the next morning, lo and behold-- two dead flies! It gives me a twisted, perverse pleasure to keep counting the dead bodies I'm racking up. "You will no longer be landing in my green smoothie that I freshly blended, mwahaha!"

It is really disturbing to see just how many were floating around my atmosphere. All I can say is that at least I know there are this many fewer now!

UPDATE: After I posted this article, my friend Corey Greenwood said he tried it. Here's what he says about how it worked for him:

"I went to the store and got apple cider vinegar. I wasn't going to mess around. I made this and sat it by the kitchen sink where they were mostly at. Within seconds, two of them had already landed and were trying to figure out how to get down the funnel. Within minutes, there were five already inside. This is legit."

Corey's successful death trap for the fruit flies

What other ways have you tried to naturally combat an infestation? Comment below! 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Green smoothies: the ultimate health drink!

Want to make a quick, easy meal that's the most healthful, nutritious and delicious drink ever? Try making a green smoothie! 

Check out my CruzTube video that shows you how I make one.

I’ve been making green smoothies for probably about a decade, ever since I read the book Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko. In the book, she talks about how the best way for your body to absorb nutrients from fresh, leafy green vegetables is to blend them into a smoothie. The first time she tried it, she said it smelled awful, really strong like wheatgrass. Although I grow my own wheatgrass and juice it daily, I’m not a huge fan of the smell. As you can see in this video, I just use my special method of drinking it down like medicine, LOL!

But the magic happened when Boutenko added bananas. She said that one simple act transformed the smoothie into something delicious. I always put a banana in my green smoothie, although there are many recipes that don’t call for it.

I used my Magic Bullet blender to make my green smoothies for a really long time, but I’m so glad that they came out with the Nutribullet. It’s just bigger, and I needed that! I recommend using a 20% off coupon (you know you always get them in the mail) and getting yours from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Organic dandelion greens, banana and a mango from Haiti

You could also use a regular blender, but be prepared that it won’t work as well and you will have to blend it longer. Try adding some ice to make the consistency creamier and smoother. Ice also thickens it up without adding any calories. The book The Abs Diet said in a blind study, people who drank smoothies with ice felt fuller longer than those who had the same exact smoothie, but blended without the ice.

If you’re brand-new to green smoothies, try organic baby spinach as your leafy green. It’s a great “starter” since it tastes so smooth! Another tip is to seek out fresh fruits that are in season for extra nutrients and flavor.

There are a million green smoothie recipes out there, but here is my basic formula:

1.  A handful of fresh greens, approximately 1 cup
2.  One banana, fresh or frozen
3.  A handful of berries or fruit like mango, about ½ to 1 cup – frozen bags of fruit are quick because they’re pre-chopped
4.  1 cup of water
5.  Optional—protein powder or Greek yogurt (I add a pinch of stevia if I use yogurt), or even some nuts/seeds if you want the protein and fat while remaining vegan

I typically put all the ingredients into my Nutribullet tall cup at night, and then just blend it in the morning. Then I pour it into a Tervis cup and head to work.

My vessel of choice: it prevents spills and "sweating" plus it keeps the smoothie chilled

It’s nice to use a Tervis with a pattern on it that kind of masks the fact that you’re drinking a green smoothie. Although they are becoming more mainstream now, green smoothies are still not as widely recognized as I wish they were—and I STILL receive comments that make me feel like someone’s judging my healthful drink (don’t hate on my green smoothies, y’all).  ;)

Have you ever tried making a green smoothie? If so, what’s your recipe? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mason jar salads: healthful meal prepping, quick and easy!

I'm obsessed with easy-to-make, healthful mason jar salads! It's the best way to keep your greens from getting soggy with dressing on them, since the dressing stays on the bottom.

These salads will stay fresh in your fridge for up to a week, although I recommend consuming them more quickly if you do choose to make them with a soft cheese, like I did in this video.

When you make a mason jar salad, here are some guidelines:

Step #1. Put dressing on the bottom
Step #2. Add hard veggies and fruit (I used zucchini and baby beets, but other good ones are carrots, peppers, onions and celery)
Step #3. Add beans and legumes, you could also throw in grains/quinoa
Step #4. Add soft veggies and fruit such as avocado, tomato, mushroom
Step #5. Stuff your greens on top! Pack it in there!
Step #6. Top with nuts and seeds, and sometimes I throw in some bacon bits and/or green onions

When you're ready to eat your salad, if you have a runny-type dressing like the first salad I made in the video, you can just shake it up then dump it all on a plate. However, if you have a creamier dressing like the second salad I show here, then you may have to scrape the bottom out with your fork and spread the dressing around.

Have you ever tried making a mason jar salad? If so, what is your favorite recipe? Let me know in your comments below!