Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #101

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.
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Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #100

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,





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Sunday, March 30, 2014

GREAT New Product: Breton Gluten Free Crackers

As you all know I'm gluten free as are several family members. When I discovered my gluten sensitivity both my mom and my aunt realized that they had some similar symptoms and since Celiac disease and gluten intolerance runs in families they also tried going gluten free and happily found relief in their symptoms. I have a bunch of friends all over the world that also have to be gluten free. With all these people in my life needing GF food, I am always thrilled to come across a terrific product that tastes awesome. That's the reason for this post, I tried Breton's new gluten free cracker by Dare Foods and holy cow are they GOOD!

Mom and I used to use Breton crackers as our all around goto cracker before we had to go gluten free. They were our day-to-day favorite but also the cracker we used at Christmas because we thought they were just that good. With "normal" crackers it's not that hard to find good tasting and not too hard-not too soft crackers. The problem arose when we went gluten free. Yes, there are some good crackers out there but ALL of them are HARD. They're all really, really crunchy and in fact, if you chew them wrong you can hurt your gums. We hadn't found any GF cracker that wasn't totally crunchy, like tortilla chips crunchy.

Along came BRETON GLUTEN FREE CRACKERS!! YAY!! They are exactly like the original Breton we used to  eat, the kind of melt in your mouth instead of being just too crunchy. They have a lovely flavor and come in both Original with Flax and Herb & Garlic. I have tried the Herb & Garlic and the taste is mild but flavorful. Not so much flavor that it would overwhelm the cheese or other stuff you'd put on top of it, but just enough flavor that eating them plain tastes great. In fact, I seriously had to make a concerted effort not to eat the entire box in one sitting! Happily, they are low in salt and calories, four crackers only has 90 calories and 60mg of salt. Even better, the box has 135 grams (4.76 oz) which is more than almost all gluten free cracker boxes. Nearly ALL gluten free crackers come in boxes of 100 grams. I think we paid about $3.99 (that's in Canada) but I've seen two for $5 coupons on the web so I'm thinking they are definitely a competitive price, especially counting that you get 35 grams more in each box compared to most all other GF crackers.

Now, I don't want you to think that I got a free box of crackers and I'm therefore touting them as great because they were free, hehehe. Nope, I saw these advertised and went out searching for them in the grocery stores (thankfully they weren't hard to find!). I actually LOVE these crackers and they are now our goto cracker once again. They really do taste just like the original non-gluten free Breton crackers. I just wanted to share this new product good news with all of you who are gluten free. It's so great that large companies are making a concerted effort to cater to our GF needs. Thanks Dare, your Breton GF crackers ROCK!

Oh, and here's a bonus I came across on the Gluten Free Edmonton website using Breton GF Crackers, a cool sounding recipe that I can't wait to try for Christmas!
Breton Brittle

Ingedients
:

FOR THE BASE:
  • 28 Dare Gluten-free Breton crackers
  • 1 cup butter or hard margarine
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
FOR THE TOPPING:
  • 1 small package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Directions:
  1. First, you line a 9 x 13 cake pan with aluminum foil. Then overlap the crackers to completely cover the bottom, using 4 crackers across and 7 crackers lengthwise. 
  2. Combine 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of butter in a saucepan, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil. Carefully pour the mixture over the crackers.
  3. Bake at 400°F for 5 minutes. 
  4. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately scatter a small bag of chocolate chips over the top. Let stand for a few minutes, until softened. Spread the chocolate evenly over the crackers and sprinkle with chopped walnuts or almonds.
  5. Now comes the hardest part - waiting for it to cool! I usually put mine in the refrigerator. Once it has cooled and hardened, just break it into pieces like you would any brittle.
Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #99

After last week's APR and my mentioning that I'm finally getting better here have been a few people who have asked where I got information about leaky gut syndrome and what foods are more reactive and which are less reactive to eat. I thought I'd give some details on that for anyone who thinks they might have intestinal problems whether it's from Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or other food allergies/sensitivities.

I started about a year ago looking for solutions to my symptoms of feeling ill, bloating, brain fog, joint pain, muscle aches and the inability to lose weight among other things. To learn more just look up leaky gut syndrome for more info there. I bought the book "The Plan" and started learning about which foods may be causing the inflammation in my body. Over many months I looked up FODMAPS and leaky gut solutions on Google and read article after article until I had a potential solution. Articles like this gives some ideas of a solution, my problems were even more severe and I had to cut many more food out but at least this is a start. The supplements are as important as cutting out possibly reactive foods.

I even found a medical clinic that treats patients with these problems, you may learn more by perusing their website. Also, Dr. Vikki Petersen wrote a book about this problem, specifically how gluten can make you sick and she is a terrific wealth of information on the subject. After all this research and doing what the research told me to for this whole year, I'm just so glad I can now eat onions again, lol. Hope all this info helps those who have been curious.
Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,



I can't wait to see everyone's art! Thanks for participating.
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Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #98

So this last week has been a pretty good one, I finally found out definitively that all the work I've been doing in the past six months on my health is actually working! YAY!! It was never a sure thing since I had tried so many, many things in the past two and a half years to find out just what the heck was wrong and why I couldn't get better. As I've said here before, I have a gluten sensitivity, it actually could very well be Celiac disease but since I'm gluten free, I can't do any comprehensive testing to prove it without re-glutening my body for several months. Let me say, that's a horrible idea, I was sick enough as it was and adding gluten just to get a "yes" on a test seemed, well, stupid. The protocol is the same for gluten intolerance and Celiac, JUST DON'T EAT GLUTEN! 

For the last six months I've only eaten eight foods, carrots, celery, zucchini, squash, chicken, canned tuna, romaine lettuce, (rarely)GF bagels and olive oil. I've done this because there was no real way to tell what else my digestive system could handle and these foods are the "least reactive" of all foods (95% of people do not react to these foods). Yes, it's been quite a harrowing experience but well worth it since before I started this regime no matter what I did I was ill and in pain and putting on weight. My digestive system was so confused, it thought many foods were actually gluten, any food that chemically "looked" like gluten at all was a reactive food. On top of that I was reacting to most other foods because they were what are called FODMAPS, essentially short chain carbohydrates that don't digest well if the gut isn't healthy. And wow, was my gut UNHEALTHY.

So, six months ago I started taking a boat load of supplements, probiotics, prebiotics, glutamines, glutamates, vitamins, digestive enzymes, unhealthy bacteria "blockers" etc. In the mornings it was like having a meal of pills before my actual breakfast! hehehe. By Christmas, three months in, I got to test a few foods to see how my system would handle them. I chose onions (good GOD, add some damn flavor to stuff, ya?), peas (yay for Tracey King's Mushy Peas recipe!) and cornbread(used as stuffing for the bird). I was so darn thrilled to find that I didn't react to the new foods! (Ok, I must confess, I did also add chocolate, I mean, I'm human and it was Christmas right?) 

I went right back onto the regime after Christmas and have just had it confirmed that I have lost a significant amount of weight in the last two months!! The reason that's great is that the major symptom of this whole illness for me is the inability to lose weight no matter how few calories I eat and how much exercise I do. I'm finally on the other side of this thing and my insides are finally healing. I couldn't be happier, seriously. So, here's my celebration of being able to once again eat mushy peas a la Tracey Fletcher King. ;o)


Mushy Peas
1 large bag frozen peas
2-3 fresh garlic cloves
2-3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

Boil the peas with the garlic cloves until cooked, about five or so minutes. Drain them and add the butter and pepper (fresh ground is best). Use an immersion blender to blend the peas until they are "mushy". Add salt and more pepper to taste. (if you shouldn't have salt, add more garlic, it'll boost the flavor.) Use as a side dish or a dip/spread for crackers or chips. If you can handle a few more calories, add a tablespoon of mayo to about a half a cup of mushy peas for a really decedent dip!
Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,




Thanks to everyone who keeps participating in APR, I appreciate the support. GO do ART!
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Artist's Play Room #97

Sorry, sorry, sorry for forgetting to put up APR yesterday!! Hey, instead you got a book review, hehehe. Gosh I just don't know where my mind is lately. Weeks go by in a flash and I forget what day of the week it is! Anyway, happy arting, enjoy your upcoming week!

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,



There will be no more book reviews for a little while, I finally finished the ones I had committed to. Hopefully I'll start participating some art in my own ART blog, lol. ;o)
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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Book Review: "The Burning" by Jane Casey

I read a really good new author this week. Her name is Jane Casey and the book was "The Burning". So far, there are four books in this series featuring Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan. The book is based in London and is a police procedural/who done it. 

The media has labeled the latest serial killer stalking London's women The Burning Man. He bludgeons his victims mercilessly then sets them on fire, leaving each woman dead and burning in one of London's parks. A large task force has been set up but The Burning Man has been lucky so far, leaving little evidence for the police to go on. DC Maeve Kerrigan is given the task of collecting evidence around the fifth victim, Rebecca Haworth. As the task force chases down leads, Maeve starts to wonder whether this latest victim just might be a copy cat and not actually be the fifth victim of The Burning Man. Now she has to prove her theory without annoying her bosses.

The main character, DC Kerrigan is an enthusiastic cop with a keen mind. The problem is that her colleagues just don't take her seriously, she's a woman and she's Irish, two strikes against her. The prejudice against her is palpable, her peers in the department think she's too compassionate and that her empathy makes her a week player, but to do her job Maeve must ignore the jeers and whispers behind her back. She wants to prove her worth, she's a good cop and she loves her job no matter what.



Author: Jane Casey

Jane Casey's first book in the DC Kerrigan series is a solid four out of five stars. The Burning allows the reader to get to know the main character, Kerrigan, and how she functions in her job. The Burning kept my interest throughout the book as I tried to decipher just who killed these women and did the serial killer also murder the last victim. It really kept me guessing and trying to figure out the motive that each player had. I will certainly be adding Jane Casey to my author reading list and I'm looking forward to the next police procedural starring Detective Constable Kerrigan. Maeve is a terrific new character and will keep my interest through many books in a series. If you like trying to figure out who done it, this is a terrific read, giving many psychological details of the possible suspects. Go out and try this author.

Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Book Review: "Missing You" by Harlen Coben

I was lucky enough to be asked by his publisher, Dutton/Penguin Group to review Harlan Coben's newest book "Missing You". Mr. Coben is a prolific and extremely talented writer, he has sold fifty million books worldwide. With ten books in the popular "Myron Bolitar" series and over two dozen novels to his name you'd be hard pressed to not find a great read.

The latest book centers around NYPD detective, Kat Donovan. Many years ago Kat lost her father, a decorated police officer, when he was murdered by an unknown assailant. Soon after her father's murder, because of the stress of that situation, she broke off her engagement to the love of her life. The whole incident happened nearly two decades ago but the repercussions of that time reverberate in her life to this day. She still haunts her father's old watering hole, a bar where cops go to unwind. It makes her feel closer to him. Kat really doesn't date much, she has given up hope in ever finding the right guy for her and this is where the story starts. 

Kat's best friend buys her a subscription to a dating site, hoping to cheer her friend up. One evening Kat scrolls past the picture and profile of her long lost love, Jeff. When she drops a "missing you" hello in his inbox Kat hopes all things could be made right, finally. When Jeff's answer to her hello seems to indicate he doesn't remember her, Kat's suspicion is piqued. Kat can't just leave the situation well enough alone. As she investigates further all hell breaks loose and an unimaginably sinister plot is uncovered. 

This is a "holy cow", "totally awesome", "OMG I wish it wouldn't end" book. Does that explain the five stars I'm giving it? Let me elaborate. I'm a mystery junky, from Janet Evanovich to Elizabeth George and everything in-between. Harlan Coben is one of my favorites for his tight, fast paced books with well fleshed out, interesting characters. I find I get to actually know his characters as he speeds us headlong to a flash-bang ending. I love that. Mr. Coben's novels aren't just meaty mysteries, they have characters you can care about and worry for.

In his novel "Missing You" specifically, I found myself unsure what the heck was going on and who done it until nearly the last page! That's unheard of for me, lol. Just ask anyone who watches mysteries on TV with me, I analyze and solve it well before the credits roll. It's my favorite thing to figure out where the writer is going and meet him or her at the end with the answer before they can give it. The thrill with this book is it kept me guessing and trying to solve the Rubik's cube of a mystery until the very end. Ooh, what fun!! You'd be crazy to miss this one if you're either a mystery fan or a fan of Harlan Coben. I will say though, that even if you're neither, it's still a spectacular book so go out and make it your Spring read, you won't regret it, I promise.
 
Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Artist's Play Room #96

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,




I'll be putting up my review of Harlen Coben's new book "Missing You" this upcoming week, the preview I'll give you is thumbs up! ;o)
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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Artist's Play Room #95

I've been a little under the weather this week, fighting off a cold with tons of vitamin C, sleep and throat lozenges. It's worked, although I sure didn't get anything done from Monday to Friday! Don't you hate it when you're diligent enough to get the flu shot and  then you get the dreaded simple cold?? The good thing was that we were snowed in this week anyway so the fact that I stayed in made it fine that there was snow everywhere. It is weird though to see so much snow falling here, it usually falls but doesn't stick.

So, sorry for no art or book reviews this week, lets hope next week is better, huh?
Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!


Best,




I can't believe we're only five APR's away from one hundred!! Thanks to everyone who participates.
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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Artist's Play Room # 94

I must admit, I'm waiting with baited breath to watch the men's hockey "go for gold" game. It was so great to hear about the win of the Canadian women's hockey team. Their win was so dramatic and I'm going to try and get up at four in the morning so I can watch the Canadian men's hockey team go for gold. Canada has done terrifically wall in this Olympics and we're proud of all our athletes and any color medal they bring home. In fact, as a friend, Arnoldo expressed, "I think we should be proud for any of the athletes who get to the Olympics at all!". I totally agree, it shows their commitment to their sport, these athletes are the best the world has and to be part of the Olympics is something to be proud of even if you don't bring back a medal. 

On that note, congratulations to all the athletes who have competed and congratulations to whichever team wins the hockey game on Sunday. GO CANADA!! ;o)
Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!


Best,

I'm so lucky to have been asked to review the newest book by Harlen Coben, he's one of my favorite authors. I'll be reviewing his new book Missing You (out on March 18, 2014) so watch for that upcoming post!
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review: The Returned by Jason Mott

I just read a good book that they seem to be making into a TV movie or series. The book is called "The Returned" by Jason Mott and I was so surprised to look up and see the trailer on the TV as I was sitting reading this book! I had no idea they were making it into a movie/series so it was so weird to see it. It will air in March, 2014 on the ABC network under the title "Resurrection".

This book started slowly. Like the metronome on a piano, it ticked away, giving details slowly and building a story piece by piece. The really good news is that even though the story builds slowly, the reading is so easy, you don't mind so much. This story becomes worth all the reading in the end of the book. Here's how it went for me...

First half of the book - "I'll give it three stars, it's not that exciting. Really interesting idea but the execution isn't winning."
Up to 75% done - "Ok, getting a little better, maybe more than three stars but not even three and a half yet."
Now 85% done - "Hmmm, definitely a solid three and a half stars... how is this gonna END?"
Less than 10% to go - "Wow, definitely a four star book. I didn't think it would get there."
Done - "So worth reading, it made me think and in the end I'm so glad I pushed through and didn't give up!"

Jason Mott
It's very rare for me to push through when a book doesn't keep me interested. But strangely, I couldn't say the book didn't keep my interest, it just moved in a metronomic pace, giving information and telling the story in a way that was not unenjoyable. I know that doesn't sound like a ringingly good endorsement but I don't want to mislead you into thinking it's an into the night, can't put it down kind of book. What it is is a book that stays with you and makes you wonder, ponder, think and consider. The great news is that even though the first part is slower, it's SO easy to read that you don't really notice. Let me give you a synopsis of the general story and then I'll give my opinion about why I think it works that the book starts out slowly.

Harold and Lucille Hargrave's son died in 1966. They grieved but time helped smooth out the searing pain any parent who lost a child feels. Then, many years later, their son reappears, still eight years old and missing his mommy and daddy. It's happening all over the planet, loved ones who have previously passed away are returning. The author, Mr. Mott eloquently and with sparse, elegant words paints a picture of a small town dealing with "the returned" and a world dealing with the chaos these "miracles" bring. No one knows where the returned are coming from or whether it's a miracle or a curse. As communities come to the brink of collapse the author makes us deal with questions of life, death and everything in-between.

I believe that Jason Mott wrote The Returned in a slow metronomic rhythm to mimic life in general. There is always twenty four hours in a day and we each make our way through those hours in our own way. The author uses the pace of the book to show that we all have that same time constraint, what you do with it is your choice.

Oh, I shouldn't forget to tell you that Jason Mott has given several bonuses to the reader by writing three short story prequels (each is about thirty pages) that are free right now on Amazon. The three prequels can be downloaded onto a Kindle app and are named "The First", "The Choice", "The Sparrow". I liked Jason Mott's original book enough that I'm going to read these three extras this weekend! It's like finding an extra piece of candy when you thought you'd eaten it all. :o)

I highly recommend this book, it made me cry by the end of the story and also made me think throughout the telling of it.
Best,




If you're looking for this week's APR just click here.
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