Posted in food, loreeebee.wordpress.com

Hallowe’en Cookie Fun for Grandkids

With Hallowe’en fast approaching, I made and decorated cookies this week with my two granddaughters. I used a basic sugar cookie dough and royal icing, (both from Food Network Kitchen) sprinkles, googly eyes and a toothpick for decorating.

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe

  • beat together 3/4 cup unsalted butter and 3/4 cup white granulated sugar until fluffy
  • beat in one (slightly beaten) large egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  • add 2.5 cups all-purpose flour that has been blended with 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • mix until dough is smooth
  • divide the dough into two discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. I had mine in the fridge for two days. Let warm slightly before rolling out. Cut with cookie cutters
  • place two inches apart on parchment-paper-lined cookie sheets (or baking mats)
  • bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, just until bottoms start to brown

Royal Icing Recipe

  • beat together 4 cups confectioners (icing) sugar, 1/4 cup meringue powder, and 1/3 cup water
  • divide into containers, with amounts in each container depending on how much of each colour you need
  • add food colour as desired.
  • the recipe said to add water bit by bit until the right consistency was achieved to use piping bags and tips. I simply used a knife and spread the icing on like butter or cream cheese on a cracker, then smoothed it out with a wet knife. My icing was refrigerated overnight though, so that probably made it stiffer.

The eldest (seven) helped make the cookie dough earlier in the week on one of her online school breaks. The next day we cut out the shapes, baked the cookies and made the icing…

hallowe'en cookies

As we ran out of time, (school does come first) that day, we decorated the batch designated for her family the following day…

hallowe'en cookies
Jack’o’lanterns, spiders, ghosts and bats

My younger granddaughter (two and a half) decorated her batch today.

It was fun, and interesting, to see their different creative styles. Of course the seven year old was much more particular about how the cookies should look. The younger was more interested in sampling the icing!

hallowe'en cookies
Posted in health and wellness, loreeebee.wordpress.com, ontario

Finding Them Homes Fundraiser

This post is in support of a wonderful fundraiser my niece Jillian is currently involved with. The text was copied and pasted from the Finding Them Homes (FTH) Facebook pages. Please check them out yourselves.

Day-timers/planners

What’s CUTE and FUNCTIONAL? Proudly Presenting the 2021 FINDING THEM HOMES Daytimer! With month and week views it’s the perfect way to keep you organized and with sooooo many cute smooshy faces!

Contactless Pickup Locations

Shipping

Shipping is also available within Ontario! Due to Covid we are asking for orders to be paid for by e-transfer. Please send a direct message to Trista Lawless to arrange shipping (costs on the poster, above) or pickup at the location most convenient to you. As always, thank you all for your support.❤️

Support Team

Do you know how many awesome people and businesses support the work that Finding Them Homes does ? Well, to be honest, we’ve never tried to count them because there are SO many ! And without them, hundreds of dogs wouldn’t be rescued from hunger and cold (3,203 to end of September 2020 including 329 in 2020).

Support comes in many forms. Among them are the beautiful FTH calendars and daytimers (aka dayplanners). Our talented designers use photos of adopted dogs, made by our equally talented photographers, to design these useful keepsakes. FTH is able to use all the proceeds from the sale of calendars and daytimers to pay for transporting rescued dogs to Barrie, find foster homes for them, get them the vet care they need, and finally, find them a forever home. And that’s because we have business partners that cover the cost of producing and printing the calendars and daytimers by way of sponsorship.

You can also support the work FTH does by patronizing our business partners when they offer a product or service you need. Each month during 2020 we will feature one or more of our partners.

October’s Featured Partner

For October, we are featuring KM Repairs. “By providing good, old-fashioned customer service over the years, many hundreds of area residents have come to depend on owner Ken Matheson, and to rely on the technical expertise of his friendly staff, to keep their family vehicles in peak running condition. You too can entrust all of your vehicle’s service and repair needs to the team of automotive professionals at K.M. Repairs. Call (705) 458-2266 today and find out what good customer service is all about!” You can also check out their website.

How can you help?

You can support the dogs and puppies at FTH by:

  • purchasing day-timers or participating in any or all of their other fundraising events.
  • hiring the services of FTH’s business partners if you are local to the areas indicated above.
  • making the commitment to adopt a dog or puppy! These are the sweet faces currently available for adoption. FTH contact information is on the Facebook page.

Posted in blog, gardening, loreeebee.wordpress.com

Late October Blooms in Gardens4me

Due to the beautiful weather we have experienced so far this fall, (yesterday we hit 25 degrees C or 77 F) I still have blooms in late October in Gardens4me. Not many, but a few.

Still Blooming

Roses, in particular, are still pretty cheerful, one of the reasons I love and plant roses of all types in my gardens; many of the new varieties bloom from June until the ground freezes. One of my hardy hibiscus is still producing blossoms too, as are the daisies, sage, silver lace vine, and perennial geraniums.

Our Canadian winters are typically long (cold and icy) enough without an early freeze up, so hopefully, that won’t happen too soon. I do still have a few gardens to put to bed for the season.

Gorgeous Seed Heads

Even though the foliage on most perennials has yellowed (time to tidy it up), I love the look of the seed heads many produce. Especially the ornamental grasses; the cool season varieties are (still) gorgeous!

Fall Maintenance

Some grasses I leave as is over the winter, to let the seed heads blow in the wind. Others, particularly the ones I cannot see from my windows, I chop back to 6 inches from the ground. This gives me one less chore to get to in the spring.

Most of the annuals I have around Gardens4me have seen better days and need to be put out of their misery, but the colours in this coleus are still brilliantly beautiful. The sedge grass, heuchera and lamium around the coleus are all perennials whose foliage continues to look nice until covered in snow. I will leave the coleus there for a bit longer…

Late October Blooms
coleus top, sedge bottom left, heuchera bottom center, lamium bottom right

Looking Ahead

With the temperature much more fall-like today and in the forecast this coming week and next month, I am pretty sure this will be my last post about my Gardens4me. One of the best things about the restrictions surrounding the coronavirus is the increased amount of time I spent in my own gardens this 2020 season. I hope you enjoyed my pictures as much as I loved taking them. What did we ever do before cell phones and their ever-accessible cameras? Even my grandkids are getting proficient at using mine.

Posted in health and wellness, loreeebee.wordpress.com

A smoothie a day keeps me healthy

I have modified the ingredients of my daily smoothie to include turmeric, celery, cucumbers, broccoli slaw, collagen powder, ginger, avocado, lemon juice (fresh) blueberries, hemp hearts and green tea. Same principle though, makes a great hydrating, nutritious, pre-garden drink. Twenty-five years later, with five grandkids to keep up with, I still make one (almost) every day!  The following is reposted from my own blog; one of my earliest posts back in 2012…

Loreeebee on health & wellness, nature, gardens, and grandkids

Many years ago, when my twenty year old son was in grade two, I began to notice that his “bad days” at school were the days I couldn’t persuade him to eat breakfast.  He didn’t, and still doesn’t, like to eat breakfast soon after waking up.  He didn’t like school to start with; it was a constant struggle to keep him focused.  While researching learning disorders, (his teachers suggested testing him for several of these) I found several articles on the correlation between brain function and food.  Basically, without food (the fuel) in his body, my son’s brain (the furnace) wasn’t able to function at full capacity!  I started making him (and his brothers) a smoothie (they call it “milkshake”) every morning, and have kept up this routine ever since!  His teachers and I started noticing a difference almost immediately; he has now graduated high school and college and is out…

View original post 300 more words

Posted in health & wellness, loreeebee.wordpress.com

Are Common Household Toxins Making you Sick?

This is a variation on a repost from my own blog:

Toxins are present in your home in the form of cleaning products, paints, furniture, synthetic building materials such as particle board and insulation, carpets, and even your printer and photocopier!

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are harmful gases released by all of the common household items listed above.  These gases cause lethargy, skin rashes, headaches, drowsiness, itchy eyes, asthma-like symptoms and even cancer.

Be aware of what you are bringing into your home!  I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I was cleaning my house.  I had run out of my usual brand of toilet cleaner, was in a hurry, and so grabbed a bottle of javex I still had sitting around the house from my pre-toxin awareness days.   I used it (sparingly) to clean the toilets in my home…

The next day I woke up with what I thought was the start of a cold.  My chest felt heavy and I could not seem to draw a full breath into my lungs.  I also had a vague headache, and a “tickle” in my throat, but no other cold like symptoms developed.  Later on that day, I developed a shallow, dry cough which felt like my lungs were trying to clear whatever was irritating them.  These symptoms lasted for four days.  Coincidence?   I don’t think so; this is how my lungs felt most of the time before I switched to non-toxic products.  Please visit the Melaleuca page on my website, listed below, to see the products I now use, all made with tea tree oil, an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, natural ingredient.  My respirologist agrees, as my asthma-like symptoms have disappeared since switching to these non-toxic products…

You can also make your home healthier by adding house plants to your decor.  Not only do plants look nice, they can help keep your family healthy.  Carbon dioxide and the VOCs described above, as well as other harmful gases such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene are absorbed through the roots as well as through pores in the leaves on plants.   In exchange, beneficial and healthy products like oxygen and moisture are released into the air for us to breathe.

Choose plants such as spider plants, dracaena, English ivy, mother-in-law tongues, bamboo palms and other tropical plants; they are all easy to grow and readily available.  Tropical plants are suitable for indoors in homes and offices because they are used to growing and processing gases in reduced light under the canopies of jungles and rain forests.  Water your plants thoroughly with warm water and let the soil dry out between watering; too much water is the easiest way to kill your house plants.

Fifteen medium to large plants (greater than six-inch pots) in an average sized 2000 square foot home can greatly improve the air quality in your home, so get growing!

I have always been conscious of toxins in my home when my three sons lived here with us, and even more so now that five grandkids have joined the family.

Posted in health and wellness, loreeebee.wordpress.com, weight management

Eating Plant Based: A Crash Course

This article was originally published on Pyure Organic’s Blog Sweet Talk, and modified slightly to become a guest post here on my blog.

Nearly ten million Americans follow a plant-based diet for health, ethical, or preference reasons. Yet, there’s some confusion around the term plant-based – it’s not the same as vegan or vegetarian, though those terms sometimes get used interchangeably. We’ll break down what it means to eat a plant-based diet, as well as how sugar fits into a plant-based diet for weight loss. 

What is a plant-based diet?

People who follow a plant-based diet mostly or entirely eat plants. The majority of what they eat is fruit, vegetables, legumes – rather than animal products such as meat, cheese, or eggs. 

There are many variations of plant-based diets, including: 

  • Whole-foods plant-based: This diet prioritizes eating whole, unrefined, or minimally refined food that comes from plants, without any animal ingredients (meat, milk, eggs, or honey). It excludes processed foods, like boxed macaroni and cheese or meat-free vegan chicken nuggets. 
  • Mediterranean diet: Named for the traditional eating habits in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, this diet includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, cereals, beans, nuts, and seeds, using olive oil as the primary fat and low amounts of animal proteins, usually fish over meat.
  • Semi-vegetarian or flexitarian: This diet also prioritizes fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, but as the name suggests, followers are flexible and incorporate meat and animal products sometimes. 
  • Pescetarian: This diet cuts out red meat, poultry, and “wild game” but permits dairy products (such as cheese and eggs) as well as fish and shellfish. 
  • The DASH diet: DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This diet aims to reduce sodium in your diet and to help lower blood pressure. Followers of the DASH diet eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, some fish, poultry and legumes, plus a small amount of nuts and seeds a few times a week.
  • The MIND diet: MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. This diet is a hybrid of the two diets mentioned above and aims to reduce the risk of dementia and the decline in brain health.

The health benefits of a plant-based diet are, unsurprisingly, varied depending on what plants each person chooses to eat. For instance, one study compared the effects of a plant-based diet that incorporated whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes as compared to a plant-based diet that included potatoes (fries and potato chips), sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juices, and refined grains. The first group had the lowest risk for heart disease, were more active, and weighed less than the second group. 

Plant-based vs. vegan diets

So, what’s the difference between a plant-based diet and veganism? 

Vegan diets abstain from all animal-based products. Often, veganism extends beyond dietary choices and into lifestyle habits. “Veganism is generally defined as living in a way that avoids consuming, using, or exploiting animals as much as realistically possible. While this leaves room for individual preferences and barriers, the overall intent is that minimal harm is done to animals through life choices,” reports Healthline. “In addition to excluding animal products from their diets, people who label themselves as vegan typically avoid purchasing items that were made from or tested on animals.” 

As it relates to eating habits, many vegans still eat processed foods. Vegans can certainly eat junk food – cookies, potato chips, and some candies are vegan. If you’re seeking to eat better to lose weight, veganism isn’t necessarily a silver bullet. It’s important to consider the quality of your ingredients in addition to where they come from (plants or animals). 

How does sugar fit into eating plant-based?

For those looking to eat healthier or lose weight, making the switch to plant-based is a good start – but only when you start to incorporate the right types of plant-based ingredients. “A plant-based diet sounds like it’d be inherently healthy, but that’s not always the case. Refined grains, added sugars, and vegan fast food are all plant-based—but not the healthiest. Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and some proteins make for more nutritionally sound choices,” Kelly Plowe, MS, RD told VeryWellFit.

A whole-foods, plant-based diet will eliminate processed sugar, but be aware: alternatives like maple syrup, coconut sugar, and raw cane sugar can have the same effect on blood sugar as table sugar.

Research shows that Stevia is a healthier alternative to table sugar

Stevia is a key ingredient when trying a plant-based diet to lose weight. Stevia is a plant-based, zero glycemic (meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar), zero-calorie sweetener with a taste 50-350 times sweeter than sugar – so a little goes a long way. Stevia is also free from any of the chemicals used to create artificial sweeteners. Just by substituting stevia for sugar in your daily routine, you’ll be making a big difference in your nutrition. For many, stevia makes up an important ingredient in a plant-based diet. For others, this is your first taste of exploring what it means to eat plant-based.

Pyure Organic Stevia is one of the only organic stevia brands out there. Learn more about Pyure’s organic stevia products – and get some tasty plant-based recipes – on our blog, Sweet Talk. Pyure products are plant-based, made from organic stevia plants. This highly sustainable plant lets us create a high-quality, tasty sugar alternative – and helps you avoid the chemicals, additives, and artificial processes found in many artificial sweeteners, not to mention plain-old sugar. 

That’s lots of good information about an organic, plant-based alternative to table sugar. I admit, I have never tried Stevia, and did not know much about it until recently. I do believe that sugars in our food are the culprit when battling weight gain. I have never enjoyed the chemical taste of artificial sweeteners, but recognize that reducing sugar consumption is a healthy and effective way to control weight.

As Stevia is plant based and organic, I may just try it when baking (my main sugar consumption, especially now that my grandkids like to bake with me) to see how the taste compares to sugar. Stay tuned!

Posted in current events, education, family, health and wellness, loreeebee.wordpress.com

Covid and Kids, What are the Long-Term Effects?

I worry about the short and long term effects of this covid pandemic on our children. Social distancing does not come naturally to them. It is difficult enough for us adults, but we (most of us) can see and understand the reason behind the rules. We also do our best to explain these rules to our kids and grandkids.

When we were not allowed to hug or touch each other I would tell my grandkids that “grandma is sick and doesn’t want to make you sick.” This little white lie worked, but I could see the confusion on their sweet little faces.

The primary (pun intended) lesson learned in sending our kids to school at four years old is supposed to be the development and practice of social skills. You know, stuff like sharing, trading, empathy, taking turns and more. How can they do this if social distancing is their new norm?

What lessons are they going to learn instead? Don’t touch, don’t get too close, don’t care, and god forbid, don’t share. Will they learn anything beneficial? At what point are we doing them more harm than good?

Parents are facing a dilemma. Most families need two incomes to stay afloat financially, and cannot afford to have one parent stay home to look after young children. Single parents have even less choice. Daycares offer the same risk and discourage social skills as schools are doing.

So, what is the answer? Perhaps a Covid related, government issued benefit for a parent to stay home to care for, nurture and educate their young children. If we can pay any previously employed adults to stay home even though they could/should have returned to work, why can’t we pay parents to stay home? Of course, like a maternity/paternity leave, it would have to guarantee a job upon their return to work.

Posted in health and wellness, loreeebee.wordpress.com

Health and Wellness Apps You Need In Your Life

Guest post by Amber Theuer, originally published on ivee.com, edited and modified for publication here on Loreeebee.wordpress.com

There’s no denying that our phones have become a vital part of our everyday routine, so we might as well start using them to support and develop our wellbeing. From meditation to sleep to hydration, there’s an app for whatever area of your health you’re trying to improve. 

Waking Up: A Meditation Course

Created and narrated by neuroscientist, philosopher, and New York Times best-selling author Sam Harris, Waking Up is a meditation and wellness app that takes users along the journey of mindfulness. Described as “a guide to understanding the mind, for the purpose of living a more balanced and fulfilling life,” Waking Up truly helps you find the inner peace and stability needed to excel. Plus, it offers exclusive theory courses, similar to podcasts, that reinforce the meditation practice! 

Sleep Cycle 

Having trouble sleeping? Looking to improve the quality and length of your night’s rest? Sleep Cycle is the wellness app for you! With Sleep Cycle, you can record your sleep and receive an audit that offers tips on how to get better rest to improve your overall health. This app also includes an intuitive alarm clock that gently wakes you during your time of lightest sleep — so you feel refreshed every morning. 

MealPrepPro 

So you want to clean up your diet, but you get tired of eating the same thing. Or maybe you can’t find the time to cook at every meal. MealPrepPro makes eating simple. This wellness app curates meal plans according to your diet, taste preferences, and health goals. With MealPrepPro, you no longer have to spend hours searching for new recipes. It also keeps things exciting with nutritious meal suggestions each week so you can keep your fridge stocked with healthy options. 

Ivee 

There are many apps that help track hydration, but none that directly offers it. Ivee is the on-demand wellness app that delivers IV therapy to your door. Whether you’re feeling under the weather, had a long night out, or simply need a boost, Ivee’s got your back! Simply select your treatment and enter your location, and a nurse will be at your door. In no time, you’ll be living your best (hydrated!) life.  Covid update: Ivee will reopen in New York some time in July.

Streaks 

Streaks is the ultimate wellness app to keep you on track with your health goals. It allows you to create personal to-do lists that renew each day. Everytime you check these off, you add on to the consecutive days you achieved your goal. Streaks delivers a report of your habits, allowing you to see in real time how well you are doing while remaining on target! Accountability is difficult, but Streaks makes it easier! 

Check out the five health and wellness apps above that help you achieve your health objectives and have you feeling better in no time. 


Posted in food, health & wellness, loreeebee.wordpress.com

Brown gravy, naturally

Do you know how to make rich, dark brown gravy the natural way? Without the store-bought box or package of gravy?  No package of seasonings or dyes ever touches my gravy.  I learned this trick from my mother years ago.  Before you put the turkey in the roasting pan, slice up a small onion and a few cloves of garlic and add them to the bottom of the pan.  As the turkey cooks, the onions and garlic will brown up, colouring and flavouring the juices, creating wonderful dark brown gravy.

You can puree the onions and garlic with the gravy if you like your gravy smooth and lump-free, or leave it chunky.  This trick works for roast beef or pork as well.

A few other holiday dinner tricks:

Gluten-free brown gravy thickener:  reserve (approximately) 1 cup of the water you boiled your potatoes in before you drain them.  That water contains lots of potato starch, which is naturally gluten-free.  Add the reserved water to your gravy, let it simmer for 10 minutes until the gravy thickens. Works like a charm, without the use of a roux made of wheat flour.

Decorating your dinner table:  I like to use whatever is colourful in my garden at the time.  In spring it is tulips or other bulbs. In fall I use leaves, ornamental grass spikes, and decorative gourds.  Place the collected items in a vase, display on a cake pedestal, or lay them right on the table cloth (leaves work well flat)

Getting the creases out of your table cloth:  Do you ever forget to take your table cloth out early enough to remove the folds/crease?  Or change your mind on which table cloth you want to use at the last minute, and then cringe at the creases?  Remove wrinkles and creases, without the use of an iron, from table cloths or your clothing with a wrinkle remover in a spray bottle.  Keep some in your laundry room and bedroom for a quick fix.

I hope these tips come in handy when you are preparing your next holiday meal.  Our Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend, so I plan to use them all.

Posted in gardening, gardens, gardens4u.ca, loreeebee.wordpress.com

Groundcover, the good, bad and ugly

Groundcover is an integral part of most gardens.  Groundcover is self explanatory, basically plants that cover the bare ground, usually between larger (taller) plants.  The use of groundcover in gardens helps to minimize the appearance of weeds, which is always beneficial.  There are thousands of varieties out there, some good, some not so good (in my opinion) and some downright ugly!  Let me help you decipher some of my favourites and others that I encounter on a daily basis in my gardening business.

The best:

My favourite groundcover includes sweet woodruffe and lamium for part sun to shady areas as well as sedums and stonecrops for hot, sunny spots. Each perky stem of sweet woodruffe sports six shiny green leaves and tiny white flowers in spring.  Even after flowering this groundcover remains attractive all summer long.  Sweet woodruffe requires no deadheading either, which is an added bonus.

Lamium’s flowers are flashier, either pale pink or lavender in colour.  Its variegated foliage (green and white) also remains attractive all season.  Deadheading after blooming will create a second bloom time too.

groundcover
pearl pink lamium

I guess that’s what I like most about these two groundcovers; even when not in bloom they look great.  Although both spread, they do so in small clumps, but are not invasive.  Both are shallow rooted, so easy to remove from areas you don’t want them.  I use both of these as edging plants in my gardens as well. I have also used lamium in shady hanging baskets as it trails nicely as it grows.

For hot, sunny and dry spots in the garden, including tucked between or cascading over rocks, or even in containers, you can’t beat sedums or stonecrops.  Both come in a wide variety of bloom colours.  I especially love the dragon’s blood (red) stonecrop and the cute rosettes of hen and chicks.

Others:

Violets make a successful groundcover as well, but they can be invasive…

groundcover
wild violets

Some of the not so nice (looking) groundcover that crops up uninvited in gardens are clover and mosses. Clover is cute looking too, some people actually confuse sweet woodruffe with clover leaves.  However, clover is much weedier and invasive.  I don’t mind clover in my lawns, but pull it out of my gardens.  Some people encourage moss to grow between their stonework patios and walkways, not a look I am fond of.

The only time groundcover in your gardens does not work well is if you prefer mulch between your plants.  Not that you can’t have both, the problem is that most groundcover is low growing so the mulch can overpower and even smother it.  For this reason, I don’t usually recommend both mulch and groundcover in the same garden.

As I was snapping pictures of these varieties of groundcover the other day, I spied a garter snake peaking out at me from the cover of a hosta.  As a kid I used to think they were called gardener snakes, most likely because I saw them mostly in gardens.   I probably (unintentionally) disturbed this cutie’s sun bask.  By the time I focused on him, he was off, slithering away down the stone path to safety…