Kombucha Vinegar: Smoothie Experiment 1

kombucha smoothie chocolate bananaI’m currently reading The Big Book of Kombucha by the people from Kombucha Kamp, and I saw that one of their flavor profiles was banana and peanut butter. I think the idea was to flavor the kombucha during second stage fermentation with these ingredients, but I thought that it sounded more like a really awesome smoothie flavor. Since I am addicted to chocolate, I decided to also add some chocolate sauce.

Recipe:

1 dl (3.4 fl.oz) kombucha vinegar (would recommend to try with regular kombucha)

1 whole (peeled) banana

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 tablespoon italian hazelnut chocolate sauce (could also use Nutella, or any other chocolate sauce).

Although each of these ingredients is super good on its own, for whatever reason, I did NOT like this smoothie at all in the slightest. The kombucha vinegar gave it too much of a bite. Maybe it would taste better with regular kombucha? If anyone tries it with plain kombucha, I would love to receive feedback on how you liked it.

Other than the bite from the vinegar, the smoothie would have been delicious.

My Own “Less” Experiment

In December/January, I read the book The Year of Less by Cait Flanders. It has inspired me to try my own “less” experiment. Since I know that it will be difficult, I want to try it 1 week at a time.

My rules for the first week of less, starting on January 21, 2019 and ending on January 27, 2019 will be a little different from the rules set out in the book. I am not so worried about shopping, as I do not have a shopping addiction, except for maybe books. Therefore, I will not be allowed to buy any books. I will be allowed to check out books from the library and to get them free from Netgalley.

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The 2nd rule, is that I am not allowed to watch any television (which means Netflix since I don’t have a T.V. or cable). This will be rather challenging, since I usually watch television at night while I am preparing and eating dinner. I also tend to watch movies on the weekends.

I am hoping that by banning television, I will use the time to listen to books on tape, or other things such as learn German, clean up my apartment, and write more blog entries.

The third rule is that I am not allowed to buy anything containing plastic. This will be rather difficult, because mostly everything at the supermarket comes in plastic packaging.

My goals for the first week also include, 1) walking / running 70,000 steps, 2) writing 3,500 words of the fiction book I am writing, 3) only drinking water — the only exception allowed is 1 cup of coffee per day and kombucha (but without syrup), 4) no junk food including but not limited to chocolate and chips, and 5) attend German class.

I hope that I will succeed!

Business Trip to Stockton-On-Tees, England

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Last week I went on a business trip to Stockton-on-Tees in England, UK. The great thing about living in Europe, is that you can pretty much get anywhere else in Europe in only a few hours.

One of the things that I found particularly interesting, was the fact that there were two faucets in the sink, one for cold and one for hot. This meant of course that the cold gets really cold, and the hot gets really hot. Since the faucets are so far apart, the water basically never mixes unless you first hold your hands under the cold water and then move your hands under the hot water. Washing your hand and face in this manner becomes rather inefficient, if not down right annoying.

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Another interesting fact is that Guinness is served “extra cold”. I was always told that Guinness was served “warm” in the UK, but nope this is not the case. I am not complaining, however, because the extra cold Guiness was really good. From my understanding, there is very little gluten in Guiness, although there is some. Since I am gluten intolerant (but this mostly seems only to matter with solid foods rather than liquids) I waited until the last night of my trip (when all I had to do the next day was travel) just in case there was an issue. I am happy to report that all was well.

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I drank the Guinness in this pub call the George and Dragon. You may not be able to read it from the picture, but apparently the George and Dragon was the meeting place of the Promoters’ of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in February, 1820.

According to Wikipedia, the Stockton & Darlington Railway “was a railway company that operated in north-east England from 1825 to 1863.” According to my English colleague (and the sign outside of the George and Dragon), this railway was the first public railway in the entire world. Additionally, the building where the pub was located used to be a market inn and coach house, with stables for horses. Lastly, this pub won the “Cask Marque”, which pretty much means they pour a freaking great pint of beer. I can attest to this because the Guinness, as mentioned above, was really good.

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My colleagues and I stayed in the Best Western Parkmore in Stockton-on-Tees. The hotel was sufficient for our purposes, but wasn’t anything fancy. About a fifteen minute walk from the hotel was this cute little town called Yarm. According to Wikipedia, “Yarm is a small town in the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire, England. The town is on the south bank of the River Tees and is historically part of the North Riding of Yorkshire.” I found it really cool that they still had the old style red telephone booths (on the right of the above picture) and the red post boxes (on the left).  The red post boxes had the initials “ER” on then, which means “Elizabeth Regina”, for the Queen of England. Yarm was a gluten-free paradise. We ate at restaurants called Muse and Cena. Since I was in England, I had to get the rice pudding at both places — the one at Muse was much better. At Cena the gluten-free pizza is simply amazing — you would never know it was gluten free.

resize.20190119_0925371194758444When we got back to the airport, we were rather surprised that we had to pay 6 pounds as an “airport fee”. Durham Tees Valley Airport is a very small airport with only 3 gates or so. I am not sure why they require this additional fee from people who are flying out of the airport. Maybe it is seldom used or doesn’t get proper federal funding? Whatever the reason it was annoying because the fee machines only accepted EXACT change. I only had a 20 pound note and a 5 pound note, so I had to get change from a change machine — which only dispensed 1 pound coins. Sigh. As an interesting aside, the 5 and 10 pound notes are made out of plastic rather than paper, just like in Canada.

All in all, I would say the business trip was a success. The training I gave to my colleagues went well, and I was even able to get in a little bit of site seeing. Stay tuned for the next business trip installment: Japan and China.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Dirty Ones by JA Huss

The Dirty Ones

They told me to write what I know so that’s what I did. I wrote dirty. I wrote erotic. I wrote the truth. And then they called me a liar. But it’s not me who’s lying. It’s them.”

The reviews on this book were SO good…lots of 4 and 5 stars. Therefore, I really wanted to like this book too, but I am sad to say, that I just didn’t. I don’t want to say this book was terrible, because at least the writing itself was decent. The plot however was awful and I found myself getting extremely bored and I definitely rolled my eyes every five minutes. Maybe it’s me (I don’t read so many romance or erotica novels), or maybe this book is like Sharknado — so bad it’s good? I just don’t know.

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Connor Arlington and Kiera Bonnaire (Connor is on track to be a Senator (his father’s dream not his) and Kiera is an erotica writer – but more on that later).

The book opens with Connor finding a book called “The Dirty Ones” at the airport. And I guess since this name was uber original / unique or something, he immediately knew that the book was about his time at college, when he and five other people (who called themselves “The Dirty Ones”) were blackmailed into performing sexual acts on each other…or were they?? Was it all in their heads?? End of book nonsensical plot twist alert! Connor becomes very angry because he thinks that Kiera wrote the book (which could ruin his chances at being Senator (which he didn’t want to be anyway, so what’s the real issue??)), and so he goes to confront her at her cottage in Vermont.

The plot unfolds from there. Essentially, “The Dirty Ones” were a group of rich kids from prominent uber rich families, all except for Kiera who came from a “long line of erotica writers” (what???). She was only included in the blackmail to write down all the “dirty” acts the group performed on each other…because the blackmailers knew she would be an erotica writer too(?). What qualifies as “dirty” is pretty “normal” stuff like hetero sex, sometimes in a three-some or a four-some (honestly, I thought the 50 Shades kind of sex was dirtier). The group of blackmailers was not known until the last 10% of the book, and I was super disappointed in the big reveal. I thought it was going to be some mason or other fraternity cult stuff, but alas it was not.

The sex scenes were steamy, but didn’t seem to fit with the plot…actually they confused the plot even more. The characters were one-dimensional and not very engaging. There were a lot of things that didn’t seem to make sense in the book, but I can’t really go into them without spoiling the ending, which I will not do.

If you decide to read this book, I would recommend going in with very low expectations for plot or storyline, and just enjoy the steamy scenes for what they are!

Check out this book on Goodreads: The Dirty Ones http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42361309-the-dirty-ones

Professional Reader

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a StoreThis book is a self-help memoir written (and with respect to the Audiobook, read) by the author, Cait Flanders. In The Year of Less Flanders tells the story of her road to a healthier, clutter free, fiscally smarter life. At the time when Flanders decided to have a “year of less”, she was an alcoholic, shopaholic, and $30,000 in debt as a result of her addictions.

Flanders had her own blog during her “year of less” called “Blonde on a Budget“, where she posted about the trial and tribulations of her experiment. At the beginning of the book, Flanders says that the book is not just a compilation of her blog posts, but rather is about personal stories she had never shared before.

These stories are about not only her struggles with the “shopping ban”, but also about the recovery process from her addictions, and general stories from her life.

Even if you cannot relate to the author’s addictive tendencies (I could not as an example), this book is an inspiring story about the struggles of adopting a minimalist lifestyle in a consumer driven society.

This book is only about a 5-6 hour read (on Audiobook) and is definetely worth reading this year.

Check out this book on Goodreads: The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35488858-the-year-of-less

BOOK REVIEW: Elevation by Stephen King

Elevation

Elevation is a novella with two separate stories which take place in Castle Rock. The first story is called “Elevation”, and is basically about a man who keeps losing weight, although he doesn’t change in appearance. Additionally, anything that he holds or touches has no weight while he is in contact with them. This story reminded me a little bit of “Thinner” by Stephen King.The second story is called “Laurie” and is about a widower who gets a new puppy from his sister. At first he doesn’t want the dog, but as most dogs do, she worms her way into his heart. “Laure” is a bonus story which is only available on the Audiobook and is not included with the written book.

Although I liked this novella, I think that it lacked in the scary or eerie elements that usually are Stephen King’s trademarks. Since the stories were so short, you also do not really get so invested in the characters.

However, since Stephen King is one of my favorite authors, I would always recommend to read his books. If you are looking for a quick holiday read (the Audiobook took about 4-5 hours), this would be a good one.

Check out this book on Goodreads: Elevation http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38355410-elevation