Thursday, June 30, 2016

Food Delivery Services ~ Are They Worth it?



A few months ago my husband and I discovered the food delivery service called Hello Fresh. We were looking for a solution to dinner madness. I detest grocery shopping and meal planning. I would repeatedly try to plan a weekly menu, shop for the ingredients but laziness kicks in and we would head out to dinner and the food we bought would spoil.

Hello Fresh arrived and brought with it pure happiness!  First, you choose how many meals you want per week (3, 4 or 5) and how many portions you will cook per meal (2, 3 or 4). They will send you recipe cards will all the pre-measured ingredients. Yes! Protein, veggie, carbs and spices are all included - the only thing you might need is some olive oil and salt & pepper. The recipes feature photo step by step directions along with exactly the fresh ingredients needed to create the meal. It really couldn't be easier!

Three recipe cards and boxes of fresh ingredients all organized and separated by recipe, ready to be used arrive each week. Their subscription options are currently to either receive a box of 3 meals once per week or once every other week, but you can pause your subscription anytime you want, as often you want, for as long as you want. So you don’t really have to commit to getting the boxes every week or every other week. You also have the option to choose a box with meals that serve 2 people, 4 people, or 6 people.

Check out their website if you’re interested in learning more about it all — and if you decide to buy a box, you can use my code TQTMBD and get $40 off your first box.

Since we started meal delivery I've added on Blue Apron for 3 more days. I'll do a review on Blue Apron in an upcoming blog.

So, are food delivery services worth it? YES!


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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Snacking Made Easy ~ Chocolate Peanut Butter Crumble


By mid-morning I can usually hear my stomach growling so I look for quick nutritious snacks to curb my appetite while satisfying my sweet tooth. Many of us keep small snack-size bags of chips, crackers and candy in our desk drawers. This ranks at the top of the terrible snacking list. Here is a tasty treat that can kick your bad snacking habits to the curb.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crumble

Ingredients

1 cup rolled oats 
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey or agave
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

1. Combine oats, chia seeds, flaxseed, and mini chocolate chips together in a bowl.

2. Combine honey or agave and peanut butter, stirring with a spoon. Add peanut butter mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir until well combined.

3. Form small balls or simply fill individual containers with the mixture.

4. Keep mix or bites in the fridge for a week in a sealed, air-tight container.

Serves 14 (serving size: 1 ball)
CALORIES 116; FAT 5.6 g; PROTEIN 2.7g; CARB 15.4g; FIBER 2mg; CHOL 0mg

Check out my Pinterest feed for more healthy snacks. Do you have a favorite snack? Share in the comment below. 


Thanks to Deb Ayers for sharing this tasty treat.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Quick and Delicious Summer Salad Recipe ~ Watermelon Orange Salad


Why spend time making a plain lettuce, carrot, and tomato salad when you can make this quick and delicious Watermelon Orange Salad? When combined together, these flavors really pop!

Ingredients

Produce
1/4 (6-pound) seedless watermelon, small seedless
2 Large oranges, peel and pith removed, flesh cut into segments
1 head of Boston Lettuce, 
1/4 cup Parsley, fresh leaves, optional

Baking & Spices
1 Salt and ground pepper, Coarse

Oils & Vinegars
4 tsp Balsamic Vinegrette

Dairy
4 oz Mozzarella

Other
1 cup Candied Walnuts



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Monday, June 27, 2016

Prepare for Your Best Summer Ever ~ 4 Recommended Poolside Books


Grab a lounge chair or a beach blanket and settle in while you read these 4 recommended books:

  1. Grain Brain  ~ David Perlmutter, MD

"Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that’s been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common ingredients in your daily bread and fruit bowls, why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age. He offers an in-depth look at how we can take control of our “smart genes” through specific dietary choices and lifestyle habits, demonstrating how to remedy our most feared maladies without drugs."

     2.  11/22/63 ~ Stephen King

"In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King—who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer—takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it."

    3.  The Advantage ~ Patrick Lencioni

"There is a competitive advantage out there, arguably more powerful than any other. Is it superior strategy? Faster innovation? Smarter employees? No, New York Times best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni, argues that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre ones has little to do with what they know and how smart they are and more to do with how healthy they are. In this book, Lencioni brings together his vast experience and many of the themes cultivated in his other best-selling books and delivers a first: a cohesive and comprehensive exploration of the unique advantage organizational health provides."


"Employees and leaders intuitively know that when we find a place where we can throw our hearts, spirits, minds, and hands into our work, we are happier, healthier, and produce better results. Yet, most struggle to understand exactly why we engage in some environments, and don’t in others. Magic introduces the five MAGIC keys of employee engagement—Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact, and Connection—and shows how leaders can help employees achieve higher levels of engagement, as well as how employees can be more successful by taking ownership for their own MAGIC. "

What is on your summer reading list? Comment below. 


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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sofitel Montreal ~ Breakfast in Bed





This is by far the most wonderful hotel in Montreal!! The rooms are large and the service is beyond compare. My husband and I arrived to our room and were so dazzled by the decor we quickly grabbed a camera to capture it for those at home. This is a contemporary hotel. The king size bed was covered in a Canadian down filled duvet. An abundance of pillows adorned the bed. The bathroom is a work of art. Multiple shower heads are positioned in the glass enclosed shower. Wonderful bath soaps, shampoos and lotions were readily available. The only drawback in the bathroom is that there is not enough counter/shelf space but the designer fixtures and sink make up for anything that could possibly be missing.

There is high speed internet access available for $15 (Canadian) and room service is on the expensive side as well. The croissants are to die for so don't miss ordering the continental breakfast.

We asked for a room with a view and were given an incredible corner room. The hotel is nicely placed on Sherbrooke and is close to the metro station and all local attractions.

Unique Qualities: Things we especially loved -

The flower arrangements are all extraordinary. A tiny egg shaped vase contained a submerged orchid. This was placed on the room service tray.

Bedside reading lamps were great but they did get rather hot to the touch after a bit.

The morning Shooter (a banana, orange, pineapple and mango concotion) yummy!

The bath towels were enormous.

Room make-up and turn down were speedy. I would leave the room for a few minutes and return to find everything freshly made.
Address: 1155 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montreal, QC H3A2N3
Price Comparison: most expensive
Directions: Sherbrooke
Price: US$180 and up
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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wine of the Week ~ Ménage à Trois Red ~ Try it as a Summer Sangria


Each week I recommend a wine. This week we look to the Ménage à Trois Vineyard at the Ménage à Trois Red. This is by far one of my go-to wines. The blend of  Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is near perfection. Try it as a Summer Sangria. 

Summer Sangria

• 4 bottles of chilled, Ménage à Trois Red
• 1 2-liter bottle of Sprite
• 6 oranges, sliced crosswise in 1/8″slices
• 4 limes, cut crosswise in 1/8″slices
• 2 lemons cut crosswise in 1/8″slices
Directions:
Combine wine and fruit in serving container. Slowly add the Sprite and stir the Sangria again. Serves 30 – 35 depending on glass size.

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Thrillers, Fillers & Spillers ~ 3 Simple Steps to Planting Your Summer Container Gardens



If you're anything like me you enjoy basking in Mother Nature's creations. A beautiful container of flowers perched on a windowsill, by the door or poolside can instantly create interest and beauty. Follow these 3 simple steps for planting your summer container garden.

Step #1 - SELECT YOUR COLORS  - You may be shy about picking the right colors for your container garden but the best advice I can offer is to use your imagination. Start by choosing the main plant you want to use and then look to the blooms and leaves for some hints to some other colors that might serve as a complement. These are your color echoes.

Step #2 - PICK A POT - Choose a container that will properly showcase your plants. Avoid matching your container to the color of your plants. Pick a pot that pops the colors of the flowers.

Step #3 - ARRANGE YOUR PLANTS - Begin planting by placing the tallest focal plant (often referred to as your "thriller" plant) in the center of the container. Fill around the thriller with medium size "filler" plants and then end with the "spiller" plants. These are the cascading plants that spill over the sides of the container and create drama.

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The Deadly Lure of Sugary Treats ~ How to Avoid Temptation



Summer barbeques create a slippery slope for those of us trying to avoid sugar temptation. Picnic tables are filled with pies, cookies, cakes, brownies and tarts. Without any labels on these confections, deciding which to eat can be a guessing game. Here are a few tips to tackle temptation when it comes to navigating the sugary spread on the picnic table. 

  • Fill up on high protein first. If you are feeling full you might not have room to add on a sugary dessert.
  • Drink lots of water. Again the strategy here is to be too full to even want to eat a sugary treat.
  • If your sweet tooth is in overdrive look for fresh fruit. Watermelon and berries will help to satiate your craving for sugar. 
  • If all else fails find a friend and beg them for a bite of their treat. A single bite is usually enough to avoid feeling deprived. 



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Friday, June 24, 2016

Venice ~ Italy ~ A Travel Log

It's been 2 years since I was last in Venice but the pictures in my mind are still as vivid as they were the moment we arrived in the city of canals. Here are a few tips that you can use to make the most of your time in Venice. 

Where to stay? Stay at the Laconda Al Leon or the Hotel Bel Sito & Berlino. Both hotels are centrally located and will fulfill your dreams of the best Italian vacation. Rates range from €300 to 400 a night. 


What to do? Explore the city by going on a long walk through alleys and across bridges. Go to St. Marco Square and the Rialto Bridge. Visit the Doge’s Palace and the Torre dell'Orlogio (the Clock Tower). 

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New Shoes

As a new blogger it's never easy to know what will be a good post and what will bomb but when shoes are the topic it is a guarantee that the post will be interesting. Who doesn't love shoes? This cute pair of flats are faux suede with a heel zipper.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

5 Tips for a Top Notch Closet



My closets from the past have been plagued with problems. Clothes that were out of style, ill-fitting, tattered and torn were still taking up space in my closet. My closet lacked organization, order and cleanliness. Follow these 5 simple tips and you can transform your closet just like I did. 


Tip #1 - SORT
Only keep items that make you feel great when you are wearing them. If the piece doesn't fit and flatter your body right now toss it! One sorting system that worked for me was to hang items of similar category together. Another system for sorting is by color. By putting your color hues together you can quickly pull together your color-coordinated ensemble.

Tip #2 - COORDINATE
Select clothes that define your personal style and aesthetic then build your base wardrobe around it. I chose a classic style since my wardrobe serves two purposes; career and casual. Yes, I have a few funky boho items but for the most part I stick to classic pieces that can easily be paired or layered.

Tip #3 - MEND
Too often we allow the missing button, torn hem, stained items take up residence in our closet. We have all good intentions to mend these items but over time they begin to pile up and become lost on our closets. Take a few minutes to remove these pieces from your wardrobe. If they are no longer mixed in among the rest of the clothes they stand a better chance of repair.Keep a steamer handy and the drudgery of ironing is reduced. I found that the Steamfast SF-407 Fabric Steamer works great and is a time saver.

Tip #4 - INVENTORY
It's time to create a tally list of types of clothing you have. Count how many blouses you have, skirts, jeans, dresses, etc. By the end of this task you'll find out whether or not you have 10 pairs jeans and 2 2 tank tops. Your ratio is way off. When you're finished you'll have a complete list of what you own. Weed out any items that you just don't need. 

Tip #5 - SHOP
Now that you have a complete list of what you have in your closet, you can now figure out what you are lacking. Many fashion stylists have a list of wardrobe essentials. Compare this essential item list to your inventory and SHOP!

What are your top 5 closet organization tips? Share in the comments below.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

All About Me


Welcome to my blog! Grab a cup of coffee and sit down and let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Stella. I am a late in life blogger. While I still feel like I’m in my 20’s, the date on my birth certificate begs to differ. If you’ve found my blog chances are you are interested in fashion, beauty, food, and travel. In Stella’s Spare Time is a collection of things that interest me and hopefully will interest you. I give advice, provide reviews, showcase fashion for women 40+, and fantasize about traveling the world.



I'm a coffee addict!

I've been in school since I was 5 years old. First as a student and later as an educator.

I'm married to a sexy Canadian.

I have a dog named Moe and a cat named Butter.



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Featured Post

Berry Mango Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients Combine in a blender 1/2 cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt with 1/2 cup coconut milk and 1 cup frozen berries. Top with sliced mango and ...

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