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Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot Book Review

 A new book has arrived for your perusal! The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot, by Josh Gottsegen is currently on sale on Amazon. This new children's book has a quote that I quite adore - "Here's to who we've become... and who we've yet to become." Actually there are several from this book I enjoyed! It is an epic tale of a young chipmunk who is coming into his own.

Check out the description below:

"As a young chipmunk, shy, bookish Rockford T. Honeypot had dreams of thrilling adventures across the forest. However, timid of danger and germs, his only adventures were found in books and in his imagination. When his family abandons him after a mistake that destroys their hazelnut business, Rockford sets off on a legendary journey beyond his wildest dreams. From exploring cuisines with a famous chef, training with ancient warrior monks, flying on giant hawks, finding true love, and much more, Rockford recounts his epic origin story of hardship, perseverance, and fortune."

Things I enjoy about the book:

This book is incredibly well written! I was surprised with the ease in which he was able to incorporate popular culture references, like "Live long and blossom". The nerd in me was giddy by that one. 

Even as an adult, I can relate to Rockford in some ways. I dream of adventures, but mine are limited to books as well. I grew up the loner. The weird kid that didn't fit in so well with the other kids. So getting lost in reading was how I found a place where I belonged. Until being abandoned, that is how Rockford got by. I also got many of the modern references. Though this book is about animals, they live just like we do. And throughout the story, you find that Rockford is going through his history. From the discovery of green huts (greenhouses) to DOS (computer lingo of older tech).

Sometimes we find we are in circumstances that force us out of our comfort zone and into great unknowns. I like this lesson for kids as they need to know they can adapt and overcome, no matter the situation. Take 2020, for instance. It has blindsided the world. Turned chaos loose. But little by little, we have found ourselves getting back to a sense of peace. He was thrown out, family gone, and not a clue what to do. But step by step, he got closer to where he wanted to be - even if he didn't quite know it.

I'm glad that it is also lightly illustrated. My children love to read, but my oldest son and daughter both prefer stories that include artwork of some kind. This one has just enough to keep their interest but not too much that they aren't using their imagination. Simple, yet adorable, illustrations to begin each chapter.

In the beginning of the story, you find Rockford T. Honeypot in his later years with his great-grandson. He makes a comment that rings with great truth, "Age is a privilege." I have seen so many from the younger generation that don't have a grasp on this concept. Personally, I see each new day as a blessing, not something to take for granted. Being older also means you have experienced so much more in life. You have accumulated a wealth that cannot be measured. A rich database of knowledge that can be passed on to others. Such a simple phrase, but it holds so much depth. This wasn't the only one, mind you. There are others. Things that make you think on a bolder, deeper level. I appreciate this. His ability to write these in without making the story difficult for children is a true gift. 

This book reminds me of sitting around the elderly people in my life. I could sit and listen to their vivid stories for hours! Their adventures gave me courage later in life, when I would think back to how someone I knew could be so strong in the face of challenges. At the same time, children will be able to connect to the story as they live through the trials with Rockford on his journey. 

I highly suggest this book. It was a pleasure to read and share with my own children!

I interviewed Josh Gottsegen and wanted to share it with you all.

What inspired you to write this story? 

In 2014, I wrote a children's book about a family who runs a juice bar in Tropland Forest with the intention to make healthy eating "cool." After completing three books in my "Joosh's Juice Bar" picture book series, I decided to dedicate a full story of another character in Tropland. As I was brainstorming ideas, a close friend of mine fell ill, so I wrote a collection of short stories for her while she was in the hospital, all of which had messages of never giving up in the face of any obstacle. During her recovery, I continued to write and developed, "The Adventures of Rockford T Honeypot."   I was motivated and inspired to write something filled with laughs, love, perseverance, and excitement for both of us. She is now 100% healthy, happy, and strong. 

I imagine that you must be an avid reader. If that assumption is correct, when did that love for reading begin? 

I loved fantasy stories at an early age, from Dr. Seuss's classic books to James and the Giant Peach, Willy Wonka, and others. 

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? 

Growing up I've always loved to write stories. Throughout my academic years, I felt relieved when there was an essay for a test. I knew I had control of how to tell the story of my answer. What I love the most is the challenge to find the perfect words that express why inner thoughts. 

When you get writers block (if ever) what do you do to get out of it? 

The idea of writer's block is different for everyone. Writing stories can be challenging at any age. Of course, the most crucial aspect is the discipline to write without being distracted. I had to put my phone on "do not disturb" and try my hardest not to browse the web and to procrastinate. Writing is like working out your muscles; at first, it's challenging to start, but once you create a routine and motivate yourself in your own way, it becomes more comfortable and more rewarding.

What advice would you give to an aspiring young writer?

As previously mentioned, the hardest part is to disconnect from distractions. If you genuinely want to write, find comfort in your mind, work hard on the discipline to sit and write, and write what makes you entertained. 

And from the kids in our home, did your Mom make you eat vegetables when you were growing up? If so, what vegetable was your least favorite?

When I was young, I always ate on the healthy side. My grandfather was a bodybuilder and taught healthy eating habits to my mother at an early age. I grew up eating all kinds of vegetables without any fuss. I loved them more than sweets! Though I love them now, I wasn't the biggest fan of radishes when I was younger.  Now, my most favorite is to add radish slices on avocado toast! Deeeeeelicious!

"Live long and blossom. Cheers to both ears!"

Monday, September 14, 2020

FAST Follow Up Party

 We have been using Nisim FAST for about six weeks now. I distributed the products and we had online parties for it. You can check out my initial party post HERE

*Disclaimer: I was sent these products to share with others, host a party, and share my personal review. I was not otherwise paid or endorsed.*

My personal experience with FAST was great. I used it alternately with my normal shampoo as I would any other. I loved how soft my hair became with using it. I didn't like that it is so difficult to get the conditioner out. You have to squeeze pretty hard. But it is was thick and always made my hair easy to brush out afterwards. I have thick, long hair - so this is a huge plus for me! I was a little sad to see that I'm among those that didn't show growth. But the healthier feel definitely makes up for that!

The following opinions comes from my party guests. Their thoughts, how often they used it and the results. It really shows how different people have different outcomes.

Rebekah - She said it dried her hair out. She used about 4 times a week, or every other day. Her set of shampoo and conditioner lasted over 6 weeks. She had about a two inched of growth, going from 8 to 10. 
Rachel - Her opinion was that it made her hair very oily. Her hair grew a half an inch though.
Nana - Products did not feel any different than her normal ones. Her hair grew a half inch in the 6 week period. She did have 2 complaints, however: 

1. The smell bothered her. She said it smelled "weedy" to her and she didn't like it. 

2. The conditioner was too difficult to get out of the bottle. But it is thick, which she liked. Just needs a better delivery system.

 Robin - No change in her length. She used it just like regular shampoo, every 2-3 days. She liked the light scent. It didn't bother her allergies. 
Drea - The conditioner was too difficult to get out. She was not a fan of the smell either. But she did like how manageable her hair was when she used it. She would switch between the FAST and her normal brand. The day she used FAST, her hair felt dryer, but when she swapped, her hair was incredibly softer. It was easy to style! And her hair did grow more than normal (which was surprising to her). She went from 7.5 to 9 inches!

Mel - The smell wasn't to her liking either. She said it reminded her of her Grandfather's smell. So more on the manly side. She would have enjoyed it more if she had a different scent to it.

Janeene - She enjoyed the smell of her hair, post-washing. She felt like she was leaving a salon. The conditioner was difficult to get out the bottle. Didn't have much growth though.

Kristina - She had an inch worth of growth in the 6 weeks of trying it. She didn't have a problem with the conditioner bottle, but the smell wasn't for her either. Too manly. 
Condensing the opinions...

Over all, I think the consensus is that everyone's hair reacts differently, just like with any other products. We would all like to see the conditioner in a container that allows it to come out easier. Maybe pump action or just a bigger hole in the lid. Other scents - options for the ladies would make it more appealing. 

Time to save!

If you want to order some to try for yourself, use the code TRYAZON at checkout for a discount!

Creating a Healthier Diet With Vasta!

 I really do love getting to try new products. But even more so when those things are there to make my life easier and healthier! Through Tryazon, I got to do just that this past weekend. I was able to try the Vasta Veggie Sheet Slicer

*Disclaimer: I was sent these products in exchange for hosting a party, giving one away, and then sharing my personal reviews. I was not otherwise paid or endorsed. All opinions are my own.*

What is Vasta?

Vasta is a pasta and fruit slicer. Handheld, simple to use - and fun for creating healthier options on the menu. You can make lasagna style slices or even fettuccine-sized slices.  

Why use their product?

I don't know if you have thought of switching from your average pasta to veggie pasta or not, but we have. And the store bought ones are pretty pricey. This is for those of you going vegan, vegetarian, keto-friendly and my personal favorite, low carb! It is healthier for you. Using Vasta also makes it cheaper to switch up the dietary changes. Vegetables, however, are not the only things you can use this on. Fruits are also great! We used apples in our test runs. With peanut better or something like Nutella, you have a wonderful snack in the making! 

What do I think about it?

I really enjoyed using it! I learned a couple things in my initial attempts. First, cucumbers are hard to do! Well, was for me anyhow. Zucchini was the best. Although my husband works it better than I do. Apples require a gentle touch. I went at it with a little more vigor than necessary and ended up making a mess of it that my husband had to fix for me. It takes practice (for some of us) to get it just right. I love the versatility of it. I can make pasta just as easy as a sweet treat. 

Where can you find them?

Amazon has them! Here is the LINK to get you started. They cost just under $20, with free shipping! You can also get replacement blades from them, should you need to.

And this video shows you just how to use it. Although, they also have the easy to follow instructions in the manual that comes with it. I'm also giving you the LINK to their website so that you can check out all the great recipes they have! Let me know what you think in the comments below. Bon appetit!

Monday, September 7, 2020

7 Steps We Are Taking Towards Eating Healthier

 These days, eating healthier can be really hard. Let's face it, it is cheaper and quicker to buy prepackaged foods than it is to purchase the healthier options. Especially when you have a large family like ours. With 4 growing children, we have to be conscientious in every shopping trip we make. So here are some steps we took to make our healthier diet less of a dream and more of a reality. 

Buying frozen fruits and vegetables - This has been a tremendous help to us! First off, frozen fruits and vegetables retain more of their benefits because they are frozen soon after being picked. So healthier by default. Also, they don't go bad before I can use them. We use frozen fruits in the smoothies we make. And the vegetables are used in my casseroles as well as sides for other meals. I buy the big store brand bags of the veggies and they last me several meals. I can simply pull out how much I need. 

Making smoothies - This option has multiple uses in our home. We can give the kids smoothies as treats, use them to make popcicles, or even as a meal for just me and my husband. We have found that we can be satisfied with a smoothie as a meal instead of eating. This is helping us with our weight loss goals. And takes the place of a salad - which my husband gets tired of eating often. Even better is that we only need 3 ingredients (though you can add whatever else you may want): fruit, juice and yogurt. We have found that adding heavy whipping cream makes them creamier. 

Checking labels for artificial colors - Hear me out on this one. Have you ever checked the labels of your favorite products? Do you actually know what is in them? Well, we have started. A dear friend of ours is allergic to artificial coloring. So we tried to always serve foods that didn't have them or MSG (another thing she was allergic to). One thing we came to notice is that a lot of prepackaged foods have artificial colors being added. Why is that?? I mean, think about this. Strawberry Poptarts have it. Isn't the strawberry enough to make it red? Oh wait, it is because companies think the coloring isn't strong and vibrant enough to entice people. Breads had caramel coloring added. But what is it made from? Ever consider that? We did. We just had to look it up. The easy way to describe them? They are petroleum products, or byproducts. They are associated with a long list of health issues though. But since no one is doing intensive research on them, they can't get them banned in our country. Some of the biggest things include hyperactivity (especially in children), cancers, allergic reactions, eczema - and that is just beginning. Due to this knowledge, even European manufacturers have begun to remove or replace them in their products. Our own manufacturers here, who export to Europe, will remove them from the products being sent there, but not from the ones sold here! The Yellow #5 comes in snacks, cakes, pickles - you get the picture. It comes from coal tar. And it has been linked to asthma attacks and skin reactions. Norway, Austria and Finland have banned this one. America and Canada are okay with it as long as it is mentioned on the label. We have found that store brands or "off brands" don't usually have dyes in pre-packaged foods. We went to Aldi and found Millville and Black Forest products that use natural things to flavor with, which means the coloring is also natural. Things like real fruit, turmeric, paprika - this is what you want to see in your foods.

Cutting out the junk foods - I can't tell you how much of a struggle this is. Still! We have been skipping the snack aisle for a while. But there are times when we falter. Like today. Those Nutty Bars were calling our names... And we listened! So here is our compromise. Most of you might be like us and might feel the need to have those treats. At least some times. We have agreed that chips are no more than a once-a-week purchase. Our family can polish off 3 bags in 3 meals. And that isn't in the way you do while binge watching Stranger Things during a pandemic. That is Mom distributing chips to each person at lunch, 3 days in a row. By that third day, however, we are at the bits and pieces at the bottom of the bag! I have been amazed to see that my kids will eat less per sitting for the sake of making them stretch longer. And with them being in school, they can last just that much longer. Sweets are to be limited to Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We sometimes mess up when Mom has events to bake for, but for the most part we are keeping to that schedule. It makes it more of a treat then. Also, they have to have 2 plates of dinner before they can have dessert. This way, I know they are eating enough. I have two preteen boys. No way they can try to tell me they aren't hungry enough for 2 plates anymore. If anything, I have to tell them to slow down and let food actually settle in their stomach or I run out of whatever I cooked!

No more buying ground beef products - My husband and I have been having a lot of issues with ground beef products from the grocery store. Severe stomach cramping, upset stomach, diarrhea. So many people we know have given up eating it lately for similar reasons. So we started looking into it. And have even decided to attempt eating it again, but only if it comes from a local meat market or butcher. No more store bought meats that aren't natural anyhow. 

Making our own bread - As I mentioned above, breads come with artificial colors and enough preservatives that you would think it could look fresh forever. So, despite the kids protests, and because my husband gave me a bread maker, I'm making our bread. I make a loaf about every 2 days. This has also helped up save money too. 

Shopping at the local Farmer's Markets - We have been wanting to do this for some time now. We found a small one to hit up about twice a week before the pandemic. Well, now we have two. The large one downtown has a great variety of vendors selling produce, fresh meats, and homemade products. It was amazing! And we are talking about making this a weekly thing we do. We got fresh bread (jalapeno and cheese), jams (strawberry lemonade was the best!), ground beef and bacon, tomatoes, bell peppers, and even cheeses!

What other ways are you getting healthy?