Archives

Product Review: Dreams Aren’t This Good Chips and Salsa!

chips and salsa photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

Growing up in Southern California really ruined me for Mexican food. New York has a handful of restaurants that have game, but if you crave the consistent taste and authenticity of real California Mexican cuisine, you might be better off cooking at home. Even if you want the convenience of using a few packaged ingredients, it’s important to have a fresh-tasting salsa on hand, and what I call ‘restaurant style’ chips that are sturdy enough to stand up to the thickest guacamole. The problem is, which brands of chips and salsa taste the best? Obviously, other non-native New Yorkers have considered this situation, because fellow East Village resident Matt Bennett has created Dreams Aren’t This Good (DATG); a line of unique salsas and authentic tortilla chips that blows away everything else on the supermarket shelf. Seriously, this brand is a game changer.

dreams aren't this good salsa jar photo by gail worley
Sweet Dreams Are Made of This Salsa

Inspired by and infused with the sights and sounds of New York City, one-of-a-kind DATG salsa flavors include The Original (which I received for review), The Fighter (garlic cilantro),  Just Dance (jalapeno pineapple), Now or Never (avocado pepper), and Girls Girls Girls (blueberry coconut). All salsas and tortilla chips are gluten free, vegan and contain no preservatives.

DATG’s origin story goes back to Matt’s upbringing in Southeast Texas and his tenure as a student at Louisiana State University (LSU). “At school, I started making salsa by mixing Mexican style with a little Cajun spice,” Matt remembers.  “As I experimented with different ingredients and flavors, the salsa was always a huge hit with everyone, and I knew I was on to something.”

Review Continues, After The Jump!

Continue reading

Tips For How to Have a Safe and Fun Halloween During a Pandemic!

halloween carved pumpkin photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail Except Where Noted

October is here already — wow! — and this pandemic is still a thing that we have to make allowances for in our daily lives. The safety of ourselves and our families is a consideration for any type of activity planning, and Halloween is fast approaching. We need to keep kids safe, but their social and emotional wellness can also be affected by being unable able to participate in festivities that create so much happiness and sense of connection. How can we celebrate Halloween in the Covid life, you may ask?  While door-to-do trick or treating may be off the table, we have a few suggestions for keeping the Halloween spirit alive. Parenting expert, guidance counselor, licensed educational psychologist, and board-certified behavior analyst, Reena B. Patel (LEP, BCBA) has compiled a list of practical tips addressing fun and creative ways to accommodate a traditional Halloween during this pandemic. Let’s get to it!

halloween spooky exterior photo by gail worley
Does Your Neighborhood Look Like This? If Not, Make It So!

Decorate the inside and outside of your house. If you haven’t done this before, this is the year to start. Head to your local TJ Jaxx where they always have an amazing and super affordable selection of Halloween items to decorate your home — some that you will want to leave out year-round!

halloween decor photo by gail worley

halloween collection photo by gail worley

Create a Month of Halloween countdown. I know that October has already started, but it’s not too late to make a countdown calendar (even if you just do it for the ten days or a week heading up to Halloween) and for each day have a Halloween surprise ready to share with your child. These can include things like a Halloween coloring sheet, candy, puzzles, pencils, stickers, and small toys that you can find at your local Dollar Store. You’d be surprised how far little things like this will go toward raising a child’s spirits especially now.

highlights halloween activity box

Image Source

There are some companies that participate in Themed Activity Boxes. While some require a subscription plan, but you can get one box just for the month of October. It can be fun to open the box and be surprised by what arrives at your door!

Connect with your child’s school and see what the teachers have planned. Volunteer to help your school create some fun Zoom halloween activities. A week of halloween Zoom costume dress up is a great example.

halloween cookies

Image Source

Get Baking! Baking is such a fun, creative way to interact with your child. Get easy recipes Here.

halloween movies for kids

Have a Halloween-themed Movie Night. For kid-friendly Halloween movie  suggestions, check out this article.

freddie kruger jack o lantern photo by gail worley
Freddie Kruger Jack ‘O Lantern, Very Scary!

Host a virtual Pumpkin Carving party via Zoom. The creative possibilities are endless!

Halloween tabletop items photo by gail worley

Social Distancing is Important 

Throw a small Social Distance-Observing House Party. Plan to get together with a small group of family and close friends who are in your ‘pod.’ You could even include a fun Halloween piñata!

Have a safe and fun Halloween, everyone!

Shark Attack Magnet!

shark attack magnet photo by gail worley
Photo By Gail

NYC’s Covid numbers have been way down for over a month now (#nystrong), which means that the city’s cultural institutions are reopening — and no one is happier about that than me! We recently celebrated the 40th Birthday of a close friend by visiting the American Museum of Natural History on its reopening day, and we had all kinds of crazy, socially-distanced-and-masked-up fun. It was in the gift shop near the Dinosaur exhibits that we spotted this fun Shark Attack magnet. Be careful not to get your hands near his mouth, because he is HANGRY!

Product Review: Cosmic Karma Candle from The Spa Girl Life

spa girl life cosmic karma candle set photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

You may not be aware that September is World Candle Month; an annual opportunity to recognize the amazing candle, its impact throughout history, and the role candles play in our daily lives. This year’s theme is Illuminate Your Life, and is dedicated to the ways candles light up our world and fragrance our homes. Since the earliest days of tallow-based candles to the tens of thousands of shapes, sizes, and fragrances available today, candles have been a source of more than just light. They have provided inspiration, relaxation, and calming sensations that are as welcome today as they have been throughout history.

This year’s World Candle Month shines a light on how much candles contribute to our health and mental well-being, especially during these unbelievably stressful times. The Spa Girl Life, a newly-launched luxury and vegan candle brand, is the perfect solution for anyone looking to unwind and de-stress this fall. For their warmth, glow, fragrance and meditation-enhancing qualities, candles have been part of my daily life for as long as I can remember, so I was  overjoyed to recently receive one of The Spa Girl Life’s candles to review for the blog.

spa girl life lit cosmic karma candle photo by gail worley

The Spa Girl Life offers eight different candle fragrance and stone pairings that allow you to personalize a mind-body wellness experience. Like a Mini First Aid Kit For The Soul, these candle / crystal pairings are a fun, useful, and practical way to make some quiet time for yourself amid the chaos of the day. You don’t need to have a meditation practice in place to use them; just light your candle, sit back, and allow some quiet time and space for yourself. We can all benefit from being calm and centered, and when you can find that within yourself, you will know a sense of peace like no other.

Post Continues After The Jump!

Continue reading

Product Review: Mongo Kiss Lip Balm By Eco Lips

mongo kiss cover photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

As a self-professed low-maintenance babe, who is currently working from home, I can’t say I miss my former weekday-morning routine of applying make up to my face before heading out to the office. One thing I do miss though is rocking my favorite hot pink lipstick that’s been my style signature since, well, forever. I like to keep my lips soft, but I’ve found that brightly-colored lipstick stains the masks that we all need to wear when leaving the house. Since no one can see my mouth anyway,  I’ve switched to using colorless lip balms to keep my lips healthy and my masks stain-free. It’s perfect timing then that I was recently offered the opportunity to review a line of natural lip balms called Mongo Kiss from Eco Lips, which is the original organic lip balm.

mongo kiss flavor array photo by gail worley
So. Many. Flavors.

Not only was Eco Lips the first organic lip balm on the market, they’re also a company with a conscience. All of their ingredients are sustainably and ethically obtained from trusted sources around the globe. Their products are Fair Trade Certified™, Non-GMO Project Verified, Leaping Bunny Certified, and gluten-free.  Key ingredients in the Mongo Kiss lips balms are organic Mongongo oil from Africa (which also gives the product its memorable name), and organic Fair Trade Certified cocoa butter, to create ultra-hydrating balm that provides essential nutrients for your lips.

mongo kiss banana photo by gail worley
Mmm . . . Banana

Healthy, nourished lips are just a swipe away.  Mongongo oil is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are known to remain on the skin longer than saturated fatty acids (like coconut oil) or monounsaturated oils (like jojoba oil), so you know your lips are protected all day. The selection of natural, fruity flavors is also very appealing. My favorite, Mongo Kiss banana, smells and tastes like the sweet, ripe fruit, with hints of caramel, cinnamon and dark rum. It’s a blissfully tropical treat for your lips!

eco lips lipscrub photo by gail worley

With the upcoming fall and winter weather, which can be harsh on the skin, you may also want to add a lip scrub to your self-care routine. Why use a lip scrub, you may ask? Because once your lips become chapped, lip balm will not help to remedy the problem unless you first gently exfoliate them. The purpose of using a lip scrub is to remove dead skin cells that tend to dull the natural glow of the lips. Eco Lips sent me this Lipscrub stick that tastes and smells like brown sugar — because there’s brown sugar in it! The sugar gently buffs away flaky, dry skin while organic coconut oil, olive oil and jojoba moisturize and protect. All you have to do to keep your lips smooth and kissably soft is apply and rub gently, then wipe, or lick, it off. Yummy. Eco Lips Lip Scrubs are available in assorted flavors and come in jars as well as convenient, travel-ready sticks. Find out more about them at This Link.

Eco Lips products are sold in most Whole Foods and other select stores, and you can find out where to purchase them in your neighborhood by visiting This Link. You can also shop for Mongo Kiss and other Eco Lips products online Here. Remember that the Holiday Season is coming up fast and these balms make great stocking stuffers!

mongo kiss product flavors photo by gail worley

Tips To Finding Your Food Photography Inspiration

latte with camera foam
Image Source

Actress Jamie Chung once jokingly said, “If acting doesn’t work out, I plan to do food photography and just eat my way through the entire world! I’m a big foodie, and if I could make some career out of it, that would be fantastic.” She’s probably in good company. In a world that’s overwhelmed with smartphones and picture-apps like Instagram, you’d think everyone is a passionate food photographer! However, few are aware of just how difficult it is to sustain the drive. We’re giving you a few tips on re-igniting your passion and finding your food photography inspiration. Here we go!

1. Invest in a few renowned cookbooks and magazines

Where do the best food photographers ply their trade? Well in cookbooks and magazines of course! Granted, these resources aren’t free and you may have to shell out a couple of dollars to access these books, but its’ money well spent. Fortunately, you don’t have to purchase actual hard-copies which tend to be more expensive. The digital versions do nicely.

2. Dabble and experiment with other forms of photography

The world of photography is vast with numerous genres – wedding photography, product photography, fashion photography, aerial photography to name a few. What’s interesting is what you can learn from each genre. Lighting, composition, and editing are all done differently. The skills you learn by dabbling with other types of photography can give you the inspiration you’re looking for with your own food photography.

3. Study light, airy, bright photos to understand aesthetics

What makes one photo breathtaking and another bland? A quick scroll through Instagram and you’ll notice something remarkable. The most popular food photos are almost always light and bright. This is achieved largely by employing three concepts: white balance, neutral color filters, and bokeh. White balance, to quote Photography Life, is simply “adjusting colors so that the image looks more natural”. Neutral color filters help the images retain their natural look as well, while bokeh  (from the Japanese word meaning ‘to blur’) is simply the technical term for blurring out elements such as the background in your pictures. Studying beautiful photos can invoke the inspiration you’re after.

4. Look beyond food images at what’s around you

Perhaps you need to stop looking at food images for a while. You see, inspiration can come to you when you’re not even thinking about it; when you’re simply out and about living life. It may be that the more you obsess over your food photos the less likely you’ll find pleasure in your own work. Instead, look beyond food photography itself. Go visit a museum, watch an old movie, and look at some classical art. You never know where you’ll find food photography inspiration

5. Join a few social media groups and follow fellow food bloggers

The tech-centric nature of our world and globalization means you can follow anyone from anywhere. You can join social media food photography groups such as Food Bloggers Central to connect with like-minded people. With plenty of food photography inspiration to be had and conversations with photographers from all walks of life, you’re likely to have your own fire re-ignited quickly.

One final word: don’t worry about every photo being perfect. As Henri Cartier-Bresson laughingly remarked, “ Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst .” Just remember that with every photo you snap, your skills will improve!

Product Review: Pain Relief with Topical Products from CBD For The People and CBD For Life

CBD products full display photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

In this time of social distancing, certain types of self-care and healthcare  — yoga, exercise classes, tele-health visits — can still be experienced successfully through various online platforms. But for those who suffer with ailments that rely on hands-on practices such as massage, physical therapy, and chiropractic care to bring about healing, complete pain relief can remain elusive. Over-the-counter analgesics often don’t cut it, so it’s not surprising that topical CBD products promoting pain relief are more popular — and more easily accessible — than ever.

Working at a computer 8 hours a day doesn’t do your body any favors. Almost daily, I’m distracted from my work by agonizing muscle pain, making it hard to concentrate on anything other than finding relief. As part of an ongoing series highlighting various CBD products available from online store Pure CBD Vapors, this review will focus on three CBD-infused products that specifically offer topical pain relief.

These products are:

cbd for the people salve disolay photo by gail worley

CBD For The People Unrefined Salve

cbd for life roll on display photo by gail

CBD For Life Roll-on

cbd for life rub display photo by gail

CBD For Life Rub

lemongrass cbd products photo by gail worley

For consistency and ease of assessment, I used the Lemongrass scent/essence of each product, and treated my neck, shoulders, and / or jawline (areas where I experience chronic pain due to mild arthritis and TMJ) with a different product each day, over the course of about a week. Here are my findings.

Post Continues After The Jump!

Continue reading

Product Review: AYO Organic Almond Milk Yogurt

ayo yogurt four varieties photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

Do you like yogurt? I sure do. As food trends adapt to changing diets, I’ve sampled and reviewed a variety of delicious non-dairy yogurts. While these yogurts are ideal for fans who are lactose intolerant, and also those who follow a vegan diet, the bottom line is that it has to taste great. With nut-derived milks becoming increasingly popular, it makes sense that an almond milk-based yogurt would hit the market. If you’re curious about non-dairy yogurt alternatives, let me introduce you to AYO, a delicious and healthy yogurt made with organic almond milk.

four flavors ad

AYO was created by the Billings family, who have been growing almonds on their farm, based in California’s sunny San Joaquin Valley, for four generations. The Billings‘ are forward-thinking farmers who are passionate about introducing better-for-you foods with clear traceability, vertical integration and sustainable practices. Their commitment to innovation, and a farm-to-spoon philosophy, created AYO yogurt. From their almond orchards where everything starts, to picking, then churning, blending with organic fruits or organic vanilla, and culturing the yogurt — the result is luscious, probiotic-rich yogurts that taste fantastic.

strawberry ayo yogurt photo by gail worley

Since I’ve been working from home, yogurt has been one of my go-to snacks, so I was thrilled to receive samples of all four flavors (Strawberry, Peach, Blueberry, and Vanilla) of AYO yogurt to enjoy. Each variety has only 150 or 160 calories per 5.3 ounce cup, so you can stay on your diet as well!

peach ayo yogurt photo by gail worley

When I opened my first cup, what I noticed right away about this yogurt is its very smooth, almost drinkable consistency. No stirring is needed because the fruit is thoroughly blended with the yogurt, to guarantee that the first spoonful tastes as sweet and tangy as the last.

peach yogurt with spoon photo by gail worley

Peaches are one of my favorite fruits, so I enjoyed this flavor every much. You can see little bits of peach on my spoon. Yummy.

ayo vanilla yogurt photo by gail worley

The Vanilla AYO is just sweet enough, but also has the distinctive tangy flavor that tells you that you are eating real yogurt.

ayo vanilla yogurt photo by gail worley

You can snack and work at the same time!

blueberry ayo yogurt photo by gail worley

When you peel back the lid of the Blueberry AYO Almond Milk Yogurt, guess what you smell? Blueberries.

ayo frozen pops

AYO would be perfect as an ingredient in variety of recipes for healthy shakes and desserts, but today I’m going share with you the most delicious Granola Yogurt Breakfast Popsicle recipe, which they call Gro-Yo Pops. The whole family will love these, as they are great for the summer months and make an easy, nutritious breakfast!

Gro-Yo Pops (Dairy-free, Plant-based, Farm to Freezer Popsicles)

1 ¼ cups AYO Strawberry Yogurt
½ cups chopped fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and/or blackberries)
4 teaspoons coconut oil or GHEE, divided
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 tablespoons coconut flakes, ground almonds and crumbled

Stir yogurt, berries, 2 teaspoons coconut oil and almond extract together in a medium bowl. Divide among six 3-ounce popsicle molds. Stir coconut flakes, and ground almonds and the remaining 2 teaspoons of coconut oil together in a small bowl. Top each popsicle with 1 tablespoon of the coconut almond mixture. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze overnight.

Visit This Link to learn more, to find a store near you that sells AYO, and to get money saving coupons to use towards your purchase!

Pink Thing Of The Day: Watermelon Daiquiri

pink daiquiri photo by gail
Photo By Gail

If you suspect that we are getting a little bit desperate to find Pink Things for featuring in this weekly space, you would be correct. Thankfully, the Pink Drinks of summer are not only keeping us refreshed, hydrated, and slightly buzzed, but they also make a nice post, don’t they? This tall cool one is the Watermelon Daiquiri offered at Bottino Restaurant in Chelsea. Bottino specializes in delicious homemade pastas and other Italian favorites, and it has the most insanely lush backyard garden / covered patio for a safe and relaxed dining experience. At this time in our lives when little things mean so much,  we look forward to a future visit!

Pink Thing of The Day: No Mask No Empathy T Shirt By Austen Marie

no mask no empathy image by austen marie

I would never wish for anyone to become ill with the Covid, but if you’re outside your home and you’re not wearing a mask over your nose and mouth, then you are asking for it. No mask, no empathy. Wear one of these awesome shirts, designed by Austen Marie, and piss off the Karens and Chads who refuse to mask up because they are ignorant idiots They’ll be dead soon, so I hope it was worth it. This slogan is available to rock on a variety of T-Shirts, Hoodies and even Masks, and there are many other colors besides pink to choose from, but this is the Pink Thing of The Day, Bitches! Adult T-Shirt prices start at just $19.95, so get some quarantine shopping done now at This Link!

no mask no empathy image by austen marie